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$ 205. Character of the English, the considered the nature or genius of the
them more fully, when we have first Oriental, the Latin, and the Greek
And what sort of people may we proWe Britons in our time have been re- nounce the Romans ?-A nation engaged markable borrowers, as our multiform lan- in wars and commotions, some foreign, guage may sufficiently shew. Our terms some domestic, which for seven hundred in polite literature prove, that this came years wholly engrossed their thoughts. from Greece; our terms in music and Hence therefore their language became, painting, that these came from Italy; our like their ideas, copious in all terms expresphrases in cookery and war, that we learnt sive of things political, and well adapted these from the French; and our phrases to the purposes both of history and popuin navigation, that we were taught by the lar eloquence. But what was their phiFlemings and Low Dutch. These many losophy ? -As a nation it was none, if we and very different sources of our language may credit their ablest writers. And hence may
be the cause why it is so deficient in the unfitness of their language to this subregularity and analogy. Yet we have this ject; a defect which even Cicero is comadvantage to compensate the defect, that pelled to confess, and more fully makes what we want in elegance, we gain in co- appear, when he writes philosophy himpiousness, in which last respect few lana self, from the number of terms which he is guages will be found superior to our own. obliged to invent. Virgil seems to have
Let us pass from ourselves to the na- judged the most truly of his countrymen, tions of the East. The Eastern world, when admitting their inferiority in the from the earliest days, has been at all more elegant arts, he concludes at last times the seat of enormous monarchy; on with his usual majesty : its natives fair liberty never shed its genial influence. If at any time civil dis- Tu regere imperio populos, Romane, memento, cords arose among them, (and arise there (æ tibi eruut artes) pacisque iinponere morem,
Parcere subjectis, et debellare superbos. did innumerable) the contest was never about the form of their government (for From considering the Romans, let ug this was an object of which the combatants pass to the Greeks. The Grecian comhad no conception); it was all from the monwealths, while they maintained their poor motive of, who should be their mas- liberty, were the most heroic confederacy ter; whether a Cyrus or an Artaxerxes, a that ever existed. They were the politest, Mahomet or a Mustapha.
the bravest, and the wisest of men.
nen. In Such was their condition; and what the short space of little more than a cenwas the consequence ?— Their ideas be- tury they became such statesmen, warcame consonant to their servile state, and riors, orators, historians, physicians, poets, their words became consonant to their ser- critics, painters, sculptors, architects, and vile ideas. The great distinction for ever (last of all) philosophers, that one can in their sight, was that of tyrant and slave; hardly help considering that golden pethe most unnatural one conceivable, and riod, as a providential event in honour of the most susceptible of pomp and empty human nature, to shew to what perfection exaggeration. Hence they talked of kings the species might ascend. as gods; and of themselves as the meanest Now the language of these Greeks was and most abject reptiles. Nothing was ei- truly like themselves; it was conformable ther great or little in moderation, but every to their transcendant and universal genius. sentiment was heightened by incredible Where matter so abounded, words folhyperbole. Thus, though they sometimes lowed of course, and those exquisite in ascended into the great and magnificent, every kind, as the ideas for which they they as frequently degenerated into the stood. And hence it followed, there was tumid and bombast. The Greeks too of not a subject to be found which could not Asia became infected by their neighbours, with propriety be expressed in Greek. who were often, at times, not only their Here were words and numbers for the neighbours, but their masters; and hence humour of an Aristophanes; for the acthat luxuriance of the Asiatic style, un- tive elegance of a Philemon or Menander; known to the chaste eloquence and purity for the amorous strains of a Mimnermus of Athens. But of the Creeks we for- or Sappho; for the rural lays of a Theo. bear to speak now, as we shall speak of critus or Bion; and for the sublime con
ceptions of a Sophocles or Homer. The And thus is the Greek tongue, from its same in prose. Here Isocrates was enabled propriety and universality, made for all to display his art, in all the accuracy of that is great and all that is beautiful, in periods and the nice counterpoise of dic- every subject and under every form of tion. Here Demosthenes found materials writing : for that nervous composition, that manly force of unaffected" eloquence, which
Graiis ingenium, Graiis dedit ore rotundo
Musa loqui. rushed like a torrent, too impetuous to be withstood.
It were to be wished, that those amongst Who were more different in exhibiting us, who either write or read with a view their philosophy, than Xenophon, Plato, to employ their liberal leisure, (for as to and his disciple Aristotle? Different, I such as do either from views more sordid, say, in their character of composition; we leave them, like slaves, to their desfor as to their philosophy itself, it was in tined drudgery) it were to be wished, I reality the same. Aristotle, strict, me- say, that the liberal (if they have a relish thodic, and orderly; subtle in thought; for letters) would inspect the finished sparing in ornament; with little address models of Grecian literature; that they to the passions or imagination ; but ex- would not waste those hours, which they hibiting the whole with such a pregnant cannot recal, upon the meaner productions brevity, that in every sentence we seem to of the French and English press ; upon read a page. How exquisitely is this all that fungous growth of novels and of pamperformed in Greek ! Let those, who ima- phlets, where, it is to be feared, they rarely gine it may be done as well in another find any rational pleasure, and more rareJanguage, satisfy themselves, either by at- ly still any solid improvement. tempting to translate him, or by perusing To be completely skilled in ancient his translations already made by men of learning is by no means a work of such learning. On the contrary, when we insuperable pains. The very progress itread either Xenophon or Plato, nothing self is attended with delight, and resembles of this method and strict order appears. a journey through some pleasant country, The formal and didactic is wholly dropt. where, every mile we advance, new charms Whatever they may teach, it is without arise. It is certainly as easy to be a schoprofessing to be teachers; a train of dia- lar, as a gamester, or many other characlogue and truly polite address, in which, ters equally illiberal and low. The same as in a mirror, we behold human life application, the same quantity of habit, adorned in all its colours of sentiment and will fit us for one as completely as for the manners.
other. Aod as to those who tell us, with And yet though these differ in this man. an air of seeming wisdom, that it is men, Der from the Stagyrite, how different are and not books, we must study to become they likewise in character from each other! knowing; this I have always remarked,
-Plato, copious, figurative, and majes- from repeated experience, to be the comtic; intermízing at times the facetious and mon consolation and language of dunces. satiric; enriching bis works with tales and They shelter their ignorance under a few fables, and the mystic theology of ancient bright examples, whose transcendant abitimes. Xenophon, the pattern of perfect lities, without the common helps, have simplicity; every where smooth, harmo. been sufficient of themselves to great and nious, and pure ; declining the figurative, important ends. But alas ! the marvellous, and the mystic; ascending but rarely into the sublime; nor then so
Decipit exemplar vitiis imitabile, much trusting to the colours of style as to In truth, each man's understanding, the intrinsic dignity of the sentiment it when ripened and mature, is a composite self.
of natural capacity, and of superinduced The language, in the mean time, in habit. Hence the greatest men will be which he and Plato wrote, appears to suit necessarily those who possess the best ca80 accurately with the style of both, that pacities, cultivated with the best habits. when we read either of the two, we can- Hence also moderate capacities, when pot help thinking, that it is he alone who adorned with valuable science, will far has hit its character, and that it could transcend others the most acute by nature, pot have appeared so elegant in any other when either neglected, or applied to low manner.
and base purposes. And thus, for the ho
nour of culture and good learning, they brandinum, &c.; strange names it must be are able to render a man, if he will take confessed, some more obvious, others less the pains, intrinsically more excellent than so, yet none tending to furnish us with his natural superiors.
Harris. any high or promising ideas. $ 206. History of the Limits and Extent honour of humanity and of its great and
And yet we must acknowledge, for the of the Middle Age.
divine Author, who never forsakes it, that When the magnitude of the Roman some sparks of intellect were at all times empire grew enormous, and there were visible, through the whole of this dark and two imperial cities, Rome and Constanti- dreary period. It is here we must look nople, then that happened which was na- for the taste and literature of the times. tural ; out of one empire it became two, The few who were enlightened, when distinguished by the different names of the arts and sciences were thus obscured, may Western, and the Eastern.
be said to have happily maintained the The Western empire soon sunk. So continuity of knowledge; to have been (if early as in the fifth century, Rome, once I may use the expression) like the twilight the mistress of nations, beheld berself at of a summer's night; that auspicious gleam the feet of a Gothic sovereign. The between the setting and the rising sun, Eastern empire lasted many centuries which, though it cannot retain the lustre longer, and, though often impaired by of the day, helps at least to save us from external enemies, and weakened as often the totality of darkness.
Ibid. by internal factions, yet still it retained traces of its ancient splendour, resembling, $ 207. An Account of the Destruction of
the Alexandrian Library. in the language of Virgil, some fair but faded flower :
“ When Alexandria was taken by the
“ Mahometans, Amrus, their commander, Cui neque fulgor adhuc, necdum, sua forma recessit.
“ found there Philoponus, whose conver
“ sation highly pleased him, as Amrus was At length, after various plunges and “a lover of letters, and Philoponus a various escapes, it was totally annihilated
66 learned man.
On a certain day Philoin the fifteenth century by the victorious
ponus said to him: You have visited arms of Mahomet the Great,
" all the repositories or public warehouses The interval between the fall of these “in Alexandria, and you have sealed up two empires (the Western or Latin in the
every sort that are found there. fifth century, the Eastern or Grecian in
“ As to those things that may be useful to the fifteenth) making a space of near a you,
presume to say nothing ; but as thousand years, constitutes what we call “ to things of no service to you, some of the Middle Age.
“them perbaps may be more suitable to Dominion passed during this interval “ me.' Amrus said to him: “And what into the hands of rude, illiterate men : " is it you want ?" • The philosophical men who conquered more by multitude “ books (replied he) preserved in the than by military skill; and who, having “royal libraries.' This (said Amrus) is
• little or no taste either for sciences or arts,
a request upon which I cannot decide. naturally despised those things from which “ You desire a thing where I can issue no they had reaped no advantage.
“ orders till I have leave from Omar, the This was the age of Monkery and Le- “ commander of the faithful.'—Letters gends; of Leonine verses, (that is, of bad were accordingly written to Omar, inLatin put into rhyme ;) of projects, to de- forming him of what Philoponus had cide truth by ploughshares and battoons; " said; and an answer was returned by of crusades, to conquer infidels, and ex- “ Oinar, to the following purport: As tirpate heretics ; of princes deposed, not " to the books of which you have made as Cresus was by Cyrus, but by one who mention, if there be contained in them had no armies, and who did not even " what accords with the book of God wear a sword.
(meaning the Alcoran) there is without Different portions of this age have been “ them, in the book of God, all that is distinguished by different descriptions ; “ sufficient. But if there be any thing in such as Sæculum Monotheleticum, Sæcu- “ them repugnant to that book, we in no lum Eiconoclasticum, Sæculum Obscu- respect want them. Order them thererum, Sæculum Ferreum, Sæculum Hildi. "fore to be all destroyed.' Amrus upon
k this ordered them to be dispersed under Epaminondas, by the Thebane;
through the baths of Alexandria, and to and, last of all, it was wholly crushed by * be there burnt in making the baths the Macedonian Philip.
After this manner, in the space But though their political sovereignty * of six months, they were all consumed.” was lost, yet; happily for mankind, their
The historian, having related the story, love of literature and arts did not sink adds from his own feelings, “ Hear wbat along with it. it was done, and wonder!"
Just at the close of their golden days of Thus ended this noble library; and empire, flourished Xenophon and Plato, thus began, if it did not begin sooner, the the disciples of Socrates ; and from Plato age of barbarity and ignorance. Harris. descended that race of philosophers called
the Old Academy. § 208. A short historical Account of
Aristotle, who was Plato's disciple, may ATHENS, from the time of her Persian
be said not to have invented a new philoTriumphs to that of her becoming subject sophy, but rather to have tempered the to the 'I'URKS.-Sketch, during this long sublime and rapturous mysteries of his masInterval, of her political and literary ter with method, order, and a stricter
State; of her Philosophers; of her Gym- mode of reasoning. nasia; of her good and bad Fortune, &c. &c.- Manners of the present Inhabi- the principles of Platonism, only differed
Zevo, who was himself also educated in tants.—Olives and Honey.
from Plato in the comparative estimate of When the Athenians had delivered them- things, allowing nothing to be intrinsically Belves from the tyranny of Pisistratus, and good but virtue, nothing intrinsically bad after this had defeated the vast efforts of but vice, and considering all other things the Persians, and that against two succes- to be in themselves indifferent. siveiavaders, Darius and Xerxes, they may
He too, and Aristotle, accurately cultibe considered as at the summit of their na- vated logic, but in different ways: for Aritional glory. For more than half a cen- stotle chiefly dwelt upon the simple syllotury afterwards they maintained, without gism; Zeno upon that which is derived controul, the sovereignty of Greece*. out of it, the compound or hypothetic.
As their taste was naturally good, arts Both too, as well as other philosophers, of every kind soon rose among them, and cultivated rhetoric along with logic; holdBourished. Valour had given them re- ing a knowledge in both to be requisite putation; reputation gave them an ascende for those who think of addressing mankind ant; and that ascendant produced a secu, with all the efficacy of persuasion. Zeno rity, which left their minds at ease, and elegantly illustrated the force of these two gave them leisure to cultivate every thing powers by a simile, taken from the hand; liberal or elegant.
the close power of logic he compared to It was then that Pericles adorned the the fist, or hand compressed ; the diffuse city with temples, theatres, and other beau- power of logic, to the palm, or hand open. tiful public buildings. Phidias, the great I shall mention but two sects more, the sculptor, was employed as his architect; New Academy, and the Epicurean. who when he had erected edifices, adorned
The New Academy, so called from the them himself, and added statues and basso- Old Academy (the name given to the relievos, the admiration of every beholder. school of Plato) was founded by Arcesilas, It was then that Polygnotus and Myro and ably maintained by Carneades. From painted; that Sophocles and Euripides a mistaken imitation of the great parent of wrote; and, not long after, that they saw philosophy, Socrates, (particularly as he the divine Soerates.
appears in the dialogues of Plato) because Human affairs are by nature prone to Socrates doubted some things, therefore change; and states, as well as individuals,
Arcesilas and Carneades doubted all. are born to decay. Jealousy and ambi
Epicurus drew from another source: Detiön insensibly fomented wars; and success
mocritus had taught him atoms and a void. in these wars, as in others, was often vari.
By the fortuitous concourse of atoms he bus. The military strength of the Athe- fancied he could form a world, while by niang was first impaired by the Lacedæmo.
a feigned veneration he complimented nians; after that, it was again humiliated, away his gods, and totally denied their providential care, lest the trouble of it The system indeed of Aristotle was should impair their uninterrupted state of not denominated from the place but was bliss. Virtue he recommended, though called Peripatetic, from the manner in which not for the sake of virtue, but pleasure: he taught; from his walking about at the pleasure
* For these historical facts consult the ancient and modern authors of Grecian history:
, according to him, being our chief time when he disserted. The term Epiand sovereign good. It must be confessed, curean philosophy needs no explanation. however, that though his principles were Open air, shade, water, and pleasant erroneous, and even bad; never was a man walks, seem above all things to favour more temperate and humane ; never was that exercise the best suited to contema man more beloved by his friends, or plation, I mean gentle walking without more cordially attached to them in affec- inducing fatigue. The many agreeable tionale esteem.
walks in and about Oxford may teach my We have already mentioned the alliance own countrymen the truth of this assertion, between philosophy and rhetoric. This and best explain how Horace lived, while cannot be thought wonderful, if rhetoric the student at Atheos, employed (as he be the art by which men are persuaded tells us) and if men cannot be persuaded without a
inter silvas Academi quærere verum. knowledge of human nature; for what but philosophy can procure us this know. These places of public institution were ledge ?
called among the Greeks by the name of It was for this reason the ablest Greek Gymnasia, in which, whatever that word philosophers not only taught (as we hinted might bave originally meant, were taugkt before) but wrote also treatises upon rhe- all those exercises, and all those arts, toric. They had a farther inducement, which tended to cultivate not only the and that was the intrinsic beauty of their body but the mind. As man was a being language, as it was then spoken among consisting of both, the Greeks could not the learned and polite. They would have consider that education as complete in been ashamed to have delivered philoso- which both were not regarded, and both phy, as it has been too often delivered properly formed. Hence their Gympasia, since, in compositions as clumsy as the with reference to this double end, were common dialect of the mere vulgar. adorned with two statues, those of Mer
The same love of elegance, which made cury and of Hercules; the corporeal acthem attend to their style, made them at- complishments being patronised (as they tend even to the places where their philo- supposed) by the God of strength, the sophy was taught.
mental accomplishments by the God of Plato delivered his lectures in a place ingenuity. shaded with groves; on the banks of the
It is to be feared, that many places, river Ilissus; and which, as it once be
now called Academies, scarce deserve the longed to a person called Academus, was name upon this extensive plan, if the called after his name, the Academy. Ari- fessors teach no more than how to dance, Blotle chose another spot of a similar cha- fence, and ride upon horses. racter, where there were trees and shade;
It was for the cultivation of every libea spot called the Lycæum. Zeno taught ral accomplishment that Athens was celein a portico or colonnade, distinguished brated (as we have said) during many from other buildings of that sort (of which centuries, long after her political influence the Athenians had many) by the name of was lost, and at an end. the Variegated Portico, the walls being
When Alexander the Great died, many decorated with various paintings of Po- tyrants, like many hydras, immediately lygnotus and Myro, two capital masters of sprung up. Athens then, though she still that transcendant period. ' Epicurus ad- maintained the form of her ancient godressed his hearers in those well-known vernment, was perpétually checked and gardens called, after his own name, the humiliated by their insolence. Antipater gardens of Epicurus.
destroyed her orators, and she was sacked Some of these places gave names to the by Demetrius. At length she became subdoctrines which were taught there. Plato's ject to the all-powerful Romans, and found philosophy took its name of Academic, the cruel Sylla her severest enemy. from the Academy ; that of Zeno was His face (which perhaps indicated his called the Stoic, from a Greek word sig. manner,) was of a purple red, intermixed nifying a portico.
with white. This circumstance could