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to offset false encomiums and recommend a more excellent way, as Phocion, while Leosthenes yet prospered, being asked, what good he had done the city, replied, “Nothing but this, that, during my administration, there have been no funeral orations, though all who have died have been buried in the sepulchres of their fathers.” In conclusion, the author cautions his readers to look well to themselves, lest, in the belief that self-commendation is sometimes justifiable, they should be betrayed into an unseasonable and offensive indulgence in it, for the mere gratification of their own pride, vanity or self-love. This treatise illustrates the ease and felicity with which a trifling theme grew in our author's fruitful mind into a copious and beautiful essay.
17. Whether it was rightly said, Live concealed.-Live concealed, was a saying of Epicurus; and Plutarch thinks, if the precept were applicable to any, it would apply with emphasis to him and his demoralizing sect. Yet Epicurus himself did not believe his own doctrine; else why did he publish it? Was it not for the very purpose of being noticed ? Like watermen, who look astern while they row the boat ahead, so Epicurus and his followers row hard after fame with their face another way. To recommend this precept to the ignorant and vicious, were like bidding the sick man take care lest the physician find him. Vox virtuous and wise, were to rob the world of their influerice—to bid Epaminondas lay down his arms, and Lycurgus rescind his laws, and Socrates forbear his discourses. Virtue becomes practical, operative, useful, only as it is seen and known, as light is in its own nature glorious and at the same time beneficial to the world. Concealment, like the night, induces drowsiness and torpor, while publicity, like the day, wakes all the dormant energies to life and action. Or, if concealment is favourable to any kind of activity, like darkness it favours only the wicked; and if publicity represses action, it is only the vicious that shrink from it, as from the light of the morning. Life is in its very nature a manifestation. The soul existed before, but it was concealed in the womb of the universe. At birth, it came forth to be seen and known, conspicuous and illustrious. Accordingly, the king of the lower world is called Hades, (that is, the unseen or invisible,) while Apollo, or the Sun, bears the name of Delian and Pythian, (that is, the manifest and known.) And the ancients called man pós, (quasi pūs, light,) because of his innate desire of knowing and being known. Nay, some philosophers think, that the soul itself is in its essence light, since, of all things being, the soul most dreads ignorance, obscurity and darkness. To conclude the whole: at death pious souls go to a world of unending day and unclouded glory; while the wicked sink to an abode of perpetual darkness and oblivion, where they are punished, not, as poets sing, by vultures gnawing at their livers, and heavy burdens or fruitlesslabours oppressing their weary bodies, but by ignorance and ignominy, plunging their souls in a bottomless abyss of inactivity, uselessness, and obscurity.
18. The two treatises which we have named next in order, * may well be mentioned together, since the one is a supplement to the other, and both are directed against the doctrines of Epicurus.
Colotes, the disciple and particular friend of Epicurus, wrote a book with this doctrine and title: “That according to the tenets of the other philosophers, it is impossible to live.” In his treatise
Against Colotes,” Plutarch turns the weapons of the Epicurean against himself, and shows that, according to the same manner of reasoning, Epicurus may be far more justly charged with annihilating all life, since he denied the objective reality of sensations and qualities, maintained the immutability of atoms, and hence by fair implication (especially if no qualities really exist to combine with them) the impossibility of their becoming living beings, confounded the distinction between essential being and merely accidental existence, taught that the soul is partly composed of aërial and fiery particles, and partly of some nameless and unknown but equally perishable material substance, annulled the justice and providence and virtually the existence of the gods, and incited mankind to seek the supreme goal not in “vain and empty virtues which have nothing but turbulent hopes of uncertain fruits," but, like the brutes that perish, in the mere gratification of their bodily appetites and passions.
In the other treatise, our author again carries the war into the enemy's country, and argues, that, according to the doctrine of Epicurus, it is impossible to live pleasurably; for if pleasure is to be sought in the body, it is liable to more pains than pleasures, and those more acute and of longer duration—the pleasure of eating and drinking, for example, being momentary, while the intervals of hunger and thirst, or at least of privation, are prolonged; and if pleasure is to be found in the mind, Epicurus cuts off the mind from the widest field of the highest and purest pleasure, when he annihilates the hopes and virtues we should derive from the gods, and extinguishes, both in our speculative faculties the desire of knowledge, and in our active powers the ambition to do good and win immortality. There is a fine passage, in the former of these pieces, on the
* See p. 464.
universality of the belief among men in the existence and providence of God, and the absolute necessity of such a belief to the prosperity and perpetuity of nations. Travel through the world,” he says, "and you will find towns and cities without walls, without letters, without kings, without theatres, without gymnasia, without money, without houses. But there never was and never will be a city without temples and gods, or without prayers, oaths, prophecies and sacrifices for the averting of calamities and cursesfor the obtaining of benefits and blessings. Nay, 1 am of the opinion, that a city might better be built without any ground to stand upon, than a commonwealth be established, or, being established, be preserved, without religion and the fear and worship of the gods." Plutarch has no complacency, nay, no patience with the Epicureans. He looks on them as the enemies of society and of mankind-as he writes, his indignation gathers, and he pours a storm of hard words and hard arguments upon the rabble rout.
19. The Stoics, at whom the three remaining ethical pieces* are levelled, are treated with more respect. Indignation gives place to humour, and playful satire stands instead of bitter invective. He ridicules the paradoxes of the Stoics, as more extravagant than the wildest dreams of the poets. For the fables of the poets maintain consistency and decorum—they never leave a Hercules destitute of necessaries: but supplies spring up, as from some hidden fountain, for himself and his companions. But the vaunted Sage of the Stoics is a rich man, and yet begs his bread—a king, but resolves syllogisms for hire -has all things, and yet pays rent for the house in which he lives. Again, our author turns the logic of the Stoics against themselves, and shows, that, while they make their boast of following nature and reason as the standard of life, their system is so unnatural and absurd, that they cannot but contradict each other and themselves as often as they pass from one treatise to another, nay, often in the same treatise that their conduct gives the lie to their theory, and the very
laws and necessities of the language they use falsify the doctrines they teach-and that they do violence to the common sentiments, the native instincts, and even the senses of mankind. He argues with special earnestness against the doctrine of Chrysippus, that Vice is not wholly useless to the universe, since without evil there would not be any good. “Is there then no good among the gods,” he asks, “where there is no evil? And when Jupiter, having resolved all things into himself
, (another doctrine of the Stoics,) exists alone, will there then be no good, because there will then be no evil? Can there be no harmony in a choir unless some one sings badly, and no health in the body unless some member is diseased ? Could not Socrates have been just, if Melitus had not been wicked ? Could not the Deity have found means to bring a Hercules and a Lycurgus into the world, if he had not also introduced a Phalaris and a Sardanapalus? They will next teach us, that the consumption was intended for the sound constitution of men's bodies, and the gout for the swiftness of their feet, and that Achilles could not have had a good head of hair, if Thersites had not been bald. To say, that vice was made by the providence of God-like a wanton epigram by the will of the poet, to give grace or spice to the whole poem-transcends in absurdity all imagination. For, this being granted, how will the gods be givers of good rather than evil, and how will wickedness appear to be displeasing and hateful to them? Pray, tell us, wherein is vice profitable to the universe? In heavenly things? Would the sun cease to rise and set, if men did not lie and steal and murder? For earthly things? Are we then more healthy for being vicious, or do we enjoy more plentifully the comforts of life? Does vice contribute to beauty or strength? Or is vice favourable to virtue, hatred to friendship, and light to darkness? But prudence, they say, consists in a knowledge of good and evil, and without evil would be wholly precluded. As if there could be no sight, unless there were such a colour as black for it to distinguish! When, as they hold, the world shall be set on fire, there will then be no evil left; but all will then be prudent and wise. There may therefore be prudence without evil. But granting, that prudence must always be a knowledge of good and evil, what would be the loss or inconvenience of parting with such a virtue, if, instead of it, we might have another and kindred virtue, which should be, not the knowledge of good and evil, but the knowledge of good only ?”
* See p. 464.
But we must bring these notices to a close? The religious or theological treatises of Plutarch must be the subject of another paper, for which they afford richer materials than we have been able to appropriate to our present use.
We only allude, in conclusion, to the Banquet of the Seven Sages, and the Symposiaca-two pieces, which are of so miscellaneous a nature, that they can hardly be referred to either of our heads of classification. The former is comparatively brief, and records with great conciseness the answers which the seven sages are imagined to have given, each in turn, to a succession of curious questions, which arise spontaneously and quite immethodically, while at the same time they discuss the merits of the successive dishes at a feast. The other is the longest of all Plutarch's treatises, addressed,
like several of his best works, to Sosius Senecio, and divided into nine books, (the number of the muses, each of which contains a discussion of ten questions. The questions are of every kind, actual, possible or conceivable, in history and archæology, in physics and metaphysics, in politics and ethics, in science and religion, in poetry and music, in literature and art, in dietetics and dancing, pertaining to body, soul and spirit, extending to things in the heavens above, in the earth beneath, and in the waters under the earth; and the work is no unfit symbol of the multifarious and miscellaneous mind of its author.
ART. VII. SHORT REVIEWS AND NOTICES OF BOOKS.
(1.) MESSRS. LANE & Scott have just issued“ Religion, the Weal of the Church and the Need of the Times, by GEORGE STEWARD," (12mo., pp. 256.) It consists of a series of essays, twelve in number, upon topics so connected with each other that the work has a remarkable unity of design and of thought, in spite of its fragmentary form. The first Essay, entitled “The Speech of God,” exhibits the nature of God's revelation to man--first, as closed and ended in the Bible ; second, as perpetually going on in the development of God's Providence. The second chapter, on “ The Work of God," sets forth the CHURCH as the great organ and centre of the Divine activity for the renewal of mankind; and the third, shows the necessity of “ Evangelism ”—a constant zeal for the revival of religion--for the extension of the Divine kingdom. In chapter IV. the “Characteristics of the Present Age," and their relations to the progress of religion, are exhibited; while chapter V. (" Unbelief”) dwells upon the grounds and aspects of the modern sceptical theories. Having thus considered the relations of modern society to the Church, Mr. Steward next devotes his attention to the present relations of society to the Church. The need of a pure and scientific theology, as well as of able teachers thereof, is strongly indicated in the chapter on “Church Requisites." Chapters VII. and VIII., on
“ Church Provision” and on “ Methodism," take up the questions of the Church's duty to provide for the culture of the masses; and how far Methodism is suited, in her doctrines, polity, and spirit, for this aggressive work. These chapters, which are at once thoughtful, suggestive, and bold, are perhaps the best in the book. The following remarks upon religious divisions are applicable to Methodism at this day on both sides of the Atlantic. Speaking of the difficulty of preserving the union of religious bodies of great magnitude, the author proceeds :
The modes of relief, open to unwieldy and incoherent bodies, are less theo retically than historically manifest. Amendment, or partial reconstruction, is one; the emission of intractable material is another; and a third is a division into several communities, either independent or federally related only. All these, however, have their drawbacks. The primary and true policy is conservation combined with movement, and the one in order to the other.