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clearly defined and understood. The people may depose kings and terminate dynasties; but if they have no clear ideas of human rights, they may be compared to a ship at sea without rudder, the sport of winds and waves. We have seen that the English people have been chiefly indebted to well-apprehended principle. In this country, the people have always had the most definite ideas of what belonged to their rights. Success is not to be expected in the declamation of demagogues, the stormy debates of the legislative hall, or in the force of arms, but in the silent leaven-working of enlightened principle.
Still more than all this is necessary. There must be virtue in all classes. There may be eloquence and ability in the Senate; there may be skill and bravery in war ; there may be intelligence among the populace; but if virtue does not generally prevail, the cause of liberty can make no abiding progress. When the love of glory, of power, of self-aggrandizement, prevails to the seclusion of integrity, patriotism, and philanthropy, the people will find themselves still bowing under the yoke of oppression, however long they may labour or eagerly look for freedom.
It is also indispensable that the views of mankind should be corrected in respect to war. In some rare instances men have taken up arms in defence of their rights, and have been successful. But for the most part, war is a grand generator of vice, ignorance, and slavery. M. Bouvet, in a late speech in the French Assembly, well remarked: -"War, founded on force and restraint, is contrary to liberty. War, enabling the strong to triumph over the weak, is contrary to equality. War, shattering the law of love, which unites individuals and communities, is contrary to fraternity. Thus the Republic, to be consistent with its own constitution, ought henceforth to endeavour to suppress the military system, and to substitute for it an international jurisdiction. Such an object is so honest, so generous, so important to the public welfare, that France need not blush to make it the principal aim of its political existence.” Happy would it be for France to follow the lead of such a champion.
If we look for the true reasons why liberty has made no more progress in Europe since the commencement of the great movements near the close of the last century, it will be found in the lack of intelligence in the people, and of virtue in those who led—especially in the latter particular. There are junctures when the cause of freedom depends on a single individual. Might not integrity in Bonaparte have established the liberties of France, and led to the enfranchisement of Europe? Does not truth forbid the concession that circumstances compelled him to grasp the sceptre? Might
not Washington, in a particular period* of the Revolution, with as much or more propriety, and perhaps as much success, have seated himself on a throne? Patriotism in Washington saved the cause of freedom in America; ambition in Bonaparte ruined it, for a time, in Europe.
But notwithstanding the European movements at the close of the last century and the commencement of the present, terminated so disastrously, liberal principles did make no inconsiderable advancement during those times. Light was disseminated and aspirations kindled up among the masses, that contributed largely to the late commotions of continental Europe, in which we see decidedly more intelligence and virtue, and more progress made in the establishment of the rights of man, than in those former movements; and we look for intelligence, virtue, and liberty, to go forward in time to come, as Christianity advances in its purity, simplicity, and power.
ART. VI.-PLUTARCH'S MORALIA.
THE writings of Plutarch are partly historical and partly moral. Most of his treatises admit of a ready and distinctive reference to the one or the other of these classes. Some, however, lie on the dividing line between them, and all partake more or less of both the historical and the moral element. His history always teaches lessons of ethical and practical wisdom; and his ethics are always illustrated and embellished by the facts of history. Endowed with large powers both of observation and reflection, disciplined alike in the study and the practice of the virtues, taught scarcely more by communion with books than by intercourse with men and things, he is everywhere at once the historian and the moralist, tracing events back to their causes and forward to their results, linking duty with its reward and wrong-doing with its punishment, developing theory in practice and illustrating principles by facts, interested in facts by themselves and loving principles for their own sake, but supremely delighting to unite them in a harmonious, living form, in which the soul shall animate and inform the body, while the body shall give utterance and expression to the soul. Plutarch revels in concrete forms, in actual existence, in real life-he has no eye and no heart for barren abstractions. He is not at home in speculative
The time alluded to is, when Washington and his men lay at Valley Forge, . suffering from neglect, and chafed with criminations for their want of success.
FOURTH SERIES, VOL. III.-29
philosophy. Though usually classed as an Academic philosopher,
Plutarch is said to have been the author of about three hundred
There are some ten or twelve treatises, usually placed under the head of Moralia and printed indiscriminately with the moral essays, which are strictly historical or anecdotical in their contents. Among these are the essay on the Malignity of Herodotus, which needs no refutation and scarcely deserves mention; the Parallels from Grecian and Roman History, designed to confirm the credibility of certain improbable events in Roman history by the analogy of similar events in Grecian; and the Apophthegms or sayings of distinguished kings and commanders, dedicated to the Emperor Trajan and intended to be a kind of supplement to the doings of illustrious men recorded in the Lives, -all of which some critics have pronounced supposititious, and we would cheerfully relinquish as adding little, especially the first, to our author's credit, though candour obliges us to add that they bear strong internal evidence, especially the last two of having proceeded from the pen of Plutarch. To the same category belong also the pieces entitled, The Fortune or the Virtue of Alexander the Great, the Fortune of the Romans, and Whether the Athenians were more renowned for their Warlike Achievements
• In the Leipsic edition, the Life of Artaxerxes is placed between those of Cicero and Demetrius.
or for their Learning,--three splendid declamations, in which the author imputes the conquests of Alexander chiefly to virtue, the empire of Rome pre-eminently to fortune, and the glory of Athens not more to literature than to military prowess. The first two of these pieces, when compared with each other, have been received by some critics as a demonstration of Plutarch’s partiality for the Greeks over the Romans, and even as a key to the whole design of the author in writing his Parallel Lives. We have already declared* our inability to accept such a conclusion; and the very pieces, on which the argument chiefly rests, furnish a sufficient refutation of it: How any one can read the introduction to the treatise on the Fortune of the Romans, and still accuse the writer of an envious or bigoted prejudice against the Roman Empire, passes our comprehension. "Nature herself," he says, “who produces all things, is by some reputed to be fortune, by others to be wisdom. The present discussion, therefore, attaches great honour and an enviable distinction to Rome; since she is thought worthy of the same question which is wont to be argued respecting the earth and seas, the heavens and the stars, viz., whether she owes her being to chance or to providence. And I think it may be truly affirmed, that notwithstanding the fierce and lasting wars which have ever been going on between Fortune and Virtue, they both amicably conspired to rear the structure of her vast power and dominion, and harmoniously co-operated in the execution and perfection of that most beautiful of human works.” Fortune and Virtue are then introduced and painted in lively colours, as entering the lists of controversy. Fortune, as a goddess firmly seated at Rome and worshipped by the Romans above all the Virtues; boasts at great length of all the miracles in the early mythical and poetical history of Rome; of the unexpected and marvellous deliverances of the city and its armies in the wars of the Gauls, the Carthaginians, the Cimbri and the Teutones; of the want of union and co-operation among the enemies of the State, who might easily have crushed it by their combined forces, but divided fell one after another under its dominion; and finally she vaunts, as her crowning favour, the early death of Alexander, before he had completed his conquests in the East and turned his victorious arms, as he would have done, against Italy and the West. The argument, however, appears to terminate abruptly in the midst of the sketch of Alexander's ambitious schemes. And the reply, which the reader is prepared to expect from Virtue, if it was ever written, is no longer extant. Whether such a piece affords a sufficient ground for charg
• Methodist Quarterly for January, 1850, pp. 20, 21.
ing a great historian with Grecian partialities and anti-Roman prejudices, let each one judge for himself.
The Moralia properly so-called, or rather the philosophical works of Plutarch as contradistinguished from the historical, are over sixty in number. They treat of a great variety of subjects, and might properly be subdivided into social, political, physical, metaphysical, ethical and religious treatises.
To the sphere of social or private life belong the Conjugal Precepts and the Education of Children, of the excellence of which we spoke in a former paper,* and upon which we cannot now dwell. Here belong also the treatises on Love of Offspring, Fraternal Love, and the Virtues of Woman; the first two quite creditable to the author's head and heart, but the last, a one-sided view of woman as exhibiting in similar circumstances the same stern and masculine virtues with the other sex. They who would turn the sex into Amazons and viragos, will find in this treatise of Plutarch some thirty examples adduced from as many different States of antiquity, and to their purpose quite. The Consolation to Apollonius on the loss of a son, and that to his own wife on the death of a daughter, present the author in quite another—aspect as alive to all the peculiar relations and all the tender sensibilities of the family-circle. Nor can we refrain from mentioning in this connexion those fine educational tracts on Hearing (that is, Reading) the Poets, and on Hearing in General, that is, on Listening to Instruction and Advice; the former designed particularly as a guide to the teacher of youth, the latter addressed to the young man himself and adapted to aid him in the work of self-education. We have often admired the grand principle which is inculcated at the beginning of this latter treatise as revealing in a single short sentence the whole secret of virtue and happiness :
They only who have learned to desire what they ought, live as they desire.” So also the sweet singer and king of Israel says:
Delight thyself in the Lord, and he shall give thee the desires of thy heart.” Passing out from the family and the school into the wider social relations, we meet with tracts on the Distinction between a Flatterer and a Friend, on a Multitude of Friends, and on Deriving Benefit from Enemies. In all these treatises on the domestic and social relations, as in all matters pertaining to ordinary life, the good sense and kind heart of the author shine conspicuous. The Essay on Love, and the Love Stories, (a collection of five short historical novels, or tragical histories as they have been sometimes called,) disclose a depravation of sentiment and a corruption of morals on this subject, which no nation but those who were guilty of
• Methodist Quarterly for January, 1850, p. 24.