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men, kept them under lock and key, unused and neglected, till they heard that the king of Pergamus, within whose dominions they lived, was ransacking his kingdom for books to form a large library, when, fearing that the despot might seize upon their collection, they hid their books in a subterranean apartment, where they lay buried 130 years, “a prey to dampness and worms." Raised at length from their tomb, they were sold for a great sum to Apellicon of Athens, who, though an admirer of the Peripatetic school, was more an antiquarian than a philosopher, and a lover of books rather than a genuine scholar. Finding the manuscripts injured by time, he had them transcribed, and, with ill-judged industry, supplied by conjecture such passages as had been defaced, or had become illegible. History has not informed us what became of Aristotle's original manuscripts. But the copy made by A pellicon, together with his large and valuable "library, was seized by Sylla in his conquest of Athens, and conveyed to Rome. Here it was found by Tyrannio, who, though a learned Greek, rather multiplied than diminished the errors and corruptions in the text, by employing incompetent amanuenses to take copies, which he suffered to pass out of his hands without proper correction.
Such is the eventful, not to say romantic, history of Aristotle's manuscripts. And now, if these mutilated and corrupted copies were the only extant sources of Aristotle's works, as Strabo and most of those who have copied the story from him, have gratuitously inferred, then there is good reason for skepticism in regard to them, and no wonder that there are in them some things hard to be understood! But while we are not disposed to deny the truth of the principal facts in this narrative, we do not, on the other hand, feel obliged to admit the justice of the inference. It will be seen that this inference proceeds on the assumption that Aristotle's works were not published during his lifetime, but, existing only in the single manuscript in the Lyceum, were lost in that manuscript, and only recovered with it a century and a half after his death. Now we have the most decisive evi
dence that he began to publish during his first residence at Athens, while he was still connected with the Academy ; since Cephisodorus censures him as having done an act unworthy of a philosopher, in publishing a book of Proverbs, and implies in various ways, that this was not the only book which he had then given to the public. And in the interval between his leaving the Academy and establishing the Lyceum, we find Alexander complaining in a letter to Aristotle, that he had published bis Esoteric, as well as his Exoteric Philosophy. But, admitting that his principal works were not published during his lifetime, but were intended to be the exclusive property of the Lyceum and its pupils, (a supposition, by the way, as inconsistent with the well known disposition of Aristotle, as with the well authenticated facts just mentioned,) still it is utterly incredible, and not the less, but the more incredible on the above supposition, that the original manuscripts would have been allowed to pass out of the Lyceum, unless copies had been already taken and preserved. If the original manuscripts were the only copies in existence, Theophrastus would have bequeathed them, not to Neleus, but to Strabo, his successor in the Lyceum. Again, it rests on good authority that Aristotle's works were in the library at Alexandria in the days of Ptolemy Philadelphus; and though these must have shared the fate of that library, still the fact shows that there were copies in existence at the very time when the originals are affirmed to bave been buried at Scepsis. Finally, there are evidences too numerous to mention, which have been gleaned by recent German critics, and which justify them in the conclusion, that the works of Aristotle were actually read, during the period of their alleged inhumation, not only in the Lyceum, but by other philosophers and scholars.
It is not at all improbable, however, that when the original manuscripts were disinterred, and imperfect copies multiplied, they became the occasion of corrupting the copies derived from other sources. And it is impossible to decide how much, by this means, the edition now in use may have been
affected. It is admitted on all hands, that the received text demands the application of more enlightened and elaborate criticism, than has yet been bestowed upon it. At the same time, it is beginning to be acknowledged that the books of Aristotle, in their present state, are not the mass of corruptions and interpolations which literary skeptics have been ready to pronounce them to be.
As to the style of Aristotle, it is quite amusing, and not a little perplexing withal, to compare the encomiums which were lavished upon him by the ancients, with the severe animadversions of the moderns, and with the concise, clumsy, and jejune diction of his existing works. Cicero not only adverts to the ornaments of his style, and speaks of him as pouring forth a golden flood of eloquence, but he has preserved specimens of his writings that are quite rhetorical. He even wrote poetry in early life, though with what success does not so clearly appear. Quinctilian speaks of the sweetness of his style, as not less wonderful than his knowledge or his acuteness. We think it must be admitted, that some at least of those works which are lost, were composed in a more flowing and popular style, than any which are now extant. Perhaps the following from Krug’s Lexicon is as satisfactory a solution of the difficulty, as we can arrive at:
“ The writings of Aristotle, like his spoken discourses, were partly exoteric and partly esoteric. According to an old expounder of Aristotle, (Ammonius Hermiae ad Aristot. Categ. fol. 2, 6,) the former, like Plato's dialogues, were composed in the form of conversations, while in the latter, the author spoke in his own person. The form of dialogue was in very common use among the philosophers of that day. It was also far better adapted to an exoteric discourse, than to an esoteric, which required to be strictly scientific, and ar ranged in logical order. And it is quite probable, in the nature of the case, that Aristotle may have used that form in his exoteric writings; if indeed Cicero has not expressly affirmed it in his letters to Atticus (IV. 16. XIII. 19.) But since not a single dialogue is found among the existing works of Aris
totle, and since in these works reference is repeatedly made to his exoteric, or, as they are also called, encyclical writings, we must suppose, that all the exoteric productions of this philosopher are lost, and only the esoteri cremain, while exactly the reverse has happened to Plato.”
Of the animadversions of modern critics on the style of Aristotle, the following from Enfield's History of Philosophy may serve as a specimen : « No writer ever afforded more frequent examples of the poet's maxim,
Brevis esse laboro,
He affects close periods and a concise diction. He often supposes things to be known, which have either not been before explained, or may easily have escaped the reader's memory. Sometimes he makes use of different terms to express the same idea, and at other times, annexes different ideas to the same term. It is not an uncommon practice with him to use new words in an artificial and technical sense, which nevertheless he does not clearly define. His transitions are frequently so abrupt, or his progress from his premises to his conclusion so rapid, that it is extremely difficult for the reader to perceive the train of his reasoning. Through artifice, negligence, or a change of opinion, many contradictions occur, which the ingenuity of criticism has never yet been able to reconcile. His general propositions are frequently obscure for want of examples; and even his examples themselves, when he condescends to use them, are often as incomprehensible as the doctrines they are intended to elucidate. Mathematical ideas, with which he was exceedingly conversant, he sometimes, applies to subjects to which they have no natural relation, and thus encumbers with artificial difficulties disquisitions which in themselves are sufficiently obscure. Lastly, in quoting the opinions of former philosophers, whether to examine, confirm, or consute them, he takes so little care to mark the transition from their words to his own, that the reader is frequently at a loss to determine whether Aristotle is giving his own opinion or reporting that of some other philosopher.”
We have nothing to add, except that this witness is true. The criticism of Lord Monboddo upon some portions of Tacitus would apply with more justice to no small part of Aristotle's writings. They scarcely deserve the name of composition at all, but seem rather like a rapid outline of topics and arguments, sketched as a guide to spoken discourse. But we have already said enough on this subject in our introductory article.
We now proceed to give some more particular account of some of Aristotle's works, not in the form of an abstract or synopsis of his philosophical opinions, which of course would be very much colored by our own, but, in accordance with the method heretofore pursued, allowing the author to utter his own sentiments in his own order and manner, though of course much abridged and condensed, and then leave the reader to judge for himself. Some of the smaller and more practical treatises will be the most convenient for this purpose. A further reason for selecting these is also found in the fact that, while they are among the most satisfactory and valuable of Aristotle's works, they have sel dom been duly appreciated. We begin with the
Rhetoric is defined to be an art whicb, on every subject, considers the capability of persuasion. It is not confined to any particular province, like medicine, geometry and arithmetic; but, like logic, it extends to every department of life, and aims at conviction and persuasion on every variety of subject. Genuine rhetoric has little to do with those modes of instruction which are frittered away in the manufacture of exordiums, perorations, and other artificial divisions of a discourse. Its main efficacy, nay, in the language of the author, its whole art, lies in the skilful use of proof. Proof is of two kinds—the one independent of the orator's art, such