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in thought, but still more illustrious in the | its attendance by warnings to him whenever consistency of action by which it was sus- there is danger. Discredited by some of the tained, they saw little more than an eccentric citizens, he gains little by the belief of the old gentleman, poor, and of no great social rest; for they say, "What means this reor civic repute, who was meeting them daily former of his century, who, doubting our at every point and corner of the city with Jupiter and Minerva, believes in some heteroideas and recommendations opposed to their dox little deity of his own?” dearest instincts and oldest prejudices. We all live with our fellows under the pressure of the external. Their characters with us are chiefly things of outsides, save as tempered by scandal more or less characteristic, self in some of its battles,-with some perand it must be admitted, as to the old philoso-sonal distinction, too, as to courage, for he pher, that both outsides and characteristic obtained the prize of valor; and his two scandal were little in his favor. distinguished pupils, Xenophon and Alci
For the most part they have settled, to his disadvantage, the question of his claims as a public citizen. He has shared in two or three of his country's campaigns, risked him
The picturesque ugliness of his person was biades, are living to attest that he risked his so far from being set off by any of the impos-life to save theirs. But he had never been ing advantages of costume, that in a city general, never in any prominent position as renowned for its fine gentlemen his dress at- chief; and the ill-omen of defeat had come in tracted attention, and disgusted it by its to throw its cold shadow over his obscure homely meanness. It was the same in sum- heroism. In the civic contests of the little mer and winter, and the independence of his State he was still more unfortunate. He spirit had for it the further evidence fur- rarely agreed with the measures of his fellownished by the eccentric economy of his going citizens, and would rather, it was suspected, about barefooted in all seasons. The gossip see the administration of affairs, and especialabout his home was not all in his favor. He ly of justice, confided to the enlightened few has some independent property; but it affords than to the ignorant many. He had shown, his family straitened means of living, and it is true, on two or three celebrated occawhile doing nothing to increase it, he is too sions, the honesty and fearlessness of his independent to receive the assistance offered manhood by setting his duty over the dangers by friends, whom he has attached to him by threatened him under the passionate impulses his teachings and companionship. His wife of the people, and the crafty policy of the is young; his three children young,-one of thirty tyrants who had just been enslaving them in arms. The mother's temper is at them; but it was remembered that one of once the worst and the best known in Athens; the thirty he had thus heroically resisted had and though the philosophic husband claims been his own pupil, Critias; that another everywhere that it gives him an admirable pupil, Alcibiades, had dishonored the religion aid to practise his superiority over the smaller and compromised the safety of his country; ills of life, he practically shows how small a that he himself had chiefly shown his love of sense he has of the obligation, by constantly the Demos by the freedom of his censures; living in public, and being never so little at and that, despite the law of Solon against home as when at home. Her brawling and political indifference, he never meddled with vixen treatment of him have made him the politics when he could escape them. laughing-stock of his fellow-citizens, and they remember, among other illustrations of her temper, that on one occasion when she had sequestrated his homely clothing, he could only appear in the public places he loved to haust by wrapping himself up in the hide of some animal.
The eccentric repute thus suggested is aided by the general knowledge that he claims to be accompanied by a protecting spirit he calls his demon, which, ever near, contents itself with notifying the fidelity of
His great glory with us-his position as a moral teacher-must have been a very equivocal one with them. They must have looked on him much as we do on one of our Sunday preachers in the parks. They were not obliged to recognize the full extent of the extraordinary genius concealed inculto hoc sub corpore. Vindicated only in conversational discussion, it was, after all, but an affair of impression or memory, and could remain little more than an uncertain quantity with the many. They never before had this
open-air preaching about new views of society | magistrates by lot, and made the most imor morals forced upon them, whether they portant national decisions depend on the sudwould or no, in whatever corner they hap- den votes of excited crowds ? Did he lecture pened to find themselves, by a shabby-look- on morals, and they not see that the mutual ing, eccentric man, who did nothing else, kindness and mutual justice he was forever .and whose suggestions were not those which preaching offered the most striking contrast harmonized with the opinions of the day, or to the qualities they were enduring in nearly the traditional teachings of their country's every action of their lives ? The truth is, religion. It was easier to laugh at him with there could be no such practical antithesis as Aristophanes than admire bim with Xeno- that offered during the last years of bis life phon, when he explained or referred to such by Socrates and the Athenian people. His homely topics in natural or domestic science whole intellectual and moral being was at as the extraordinary buzz of the gnat, or war with theirs ; in systematic revolt against extraordinary leap of the flea, compared with their prejudices, against their opinions, their size ; the intermediate action of the against their bolief, against their practices, clouds rather than the immediate action of against all their institutions, political, social, Jupiter, in giving rain, or causing thunder and religious, at the same time that it was and lightning ; the comfort of lying in a his enforced mission—as he held it—to be hammock, or suspended cradle ; the useful everlastingly opening their eyes for them, and lesson suggested by the fact that the wonder- everlastingly revealing the immense gulf that ful State of Athens was only a point on the stood beneath them and between them. surface of the globe ; and, finally, the advan- It is easy to see, under these circumstances, tage to everybody of his opening 's a shop” that whatever he said, or whatever he did, where he could help the people to think, and must have suggested to his bearers that he to dress their minds with as much care as a did not look on the phenomena of nature, or stable-boy attends to bis horses, or a sculptor the attributes of the deities, or the action of shapes his marble. What recommendation the State, as they did, and that if he were to them was it that he had what they called not an atheist and seditious citizen,-by secret the atheistic opinions which a man of genius principle, at all events,—it was difficult to dismust have formed even in that day on such cover the little link which kept him bound subjects as the sky, the earth, and the things to the common faith and patriotism of his under the earth, in their relations to the country. It was in vain that he offered sacmundane economy;* that he was ever and rifices at home, and paid his devotions in the anon suggesting that the fables of the poets temples like the rest. It was to little puron gorgons, sphinxes, centaurs, hypogriffs, pose that be made large verbal concessions harpies, and other wonders of pagan my- on the points of divination and the consultthology, had an easy and natural explana- ing of oracles. It was something for his tion? How must their opinions have tended peace, but not enough for his safety, that he when, worshipping the most vindictive of abandoned in later years the teaching of natdeities, as the protecting power of Athens, ural philosophy, and notwithstanding the they heard bim enlarge on the duties of commandment of Solon, kept himself aloof humanity, brotherly forbearance, and mutual from the public business of his country. It forgiveness ?—when, respecting as the chief was remembered that he had been the friend of gods the adulterous Jupiter, they found and pupil of Aspasia, who, tried for atheism him enforcing respect for the rights of mar- and irreligion, had barely escaped, and of ried life ?—when sacrificing of their abun- Prodicus, who had been tried for the like ofdance to uphold the worship of Mercury,- fence and been condemned ; that he had been the thief par excellence,—they heard Socrates the preceptor of Critias, their tyrant, and of enlarging on the baseness and cruelty of Alcibiades, their worst traitor. Whatever despoiling one's neighbor? Did the sage he said, whatever he did, it was felt that his glance at politics, and they not divine that inner convictions did not go along with those he condemned a system which appointed of the rest of the world, and so far, despite * See the charges against him on his trial, and stood condemned in the general opinion of
the enthusiasm of his personal friends, be the imputations made on him in “The Clouds Aristophanes.
I his fellow-citizens, long before the Heliastic
tribunal ordered him to drink the fatal poi-| the early recluses of Christianity. was no urging men to an almost celestial exemption from earthly attachments and mundane enjoyments, like that so eloquently advocated by Thomas à Kempis and sought by the philosophers of Port Royal. Sum up the ten thousand sermons he must have given his fellow-citizens, and the total would amount to no more than that men are the work of a divine Maker; and that, as they can only find their happiness in a reasonable use of all the gifts he has given them, they should avoid everything that breeds useless action or causes uneasy feeling, and look for the true end of their being in doing nothing but good to themselves and those about them.
Nor should it be forgotten, that there was so little prudery in the morals of Socrates, and that, as a practical moralist, he was so little distinguishable from the fellow-citizens he sought to reform that the stranger would probably have provoked ridicule who should have pointed him out as the founder of a new system of morals, and held him up as the man, above all others, who, in following it, exalted our common nature, and showed best what it is capable of. It was known that during the brighter days of Athens, he had spent much of his time with the enchantress, whose easy morals and lax faith had brought .her into the trouble we have just noticed, and whose charms of person and mind had The acknowledgment is to be added, to enabled her to reign over the powerful genius complete our explanation, that the long and who was so long the master of Greece. His busy mission of Socrates proved, after all, a customary society were young men of good failure, so far as it concerned his fellow-citifamily, sharing too commonly in the luxurious zens. The months and later years that previces of the time; and a narrative left us by ceded his death were a melancholy time both one of the most cager of his admirers almost for him and Athens. He was living the surwarrants the belief that on one occasion he vivor of his country's greatness, and about took no shame to spend the night, with the him was nothing that did not remind him of early hours of the morning, amid the revels the double adversity. He had seen Athens of some of the wildest of the companions in its day of highest glory and greatest of Alcibiades, testing against them, in the power. His youth and early manhood were course of his customary exercitations, his passed in the sunshine of her prosperity. success in resisting the power of their wine. The great age of Themistocles, with all its To be only real is an element of personal celebrity of peace and war, had shone on his happiness, but even in social affairs must cradle and early boyhood with the gentle often involve some cost of public influence. and elevating influence of some brilliant gunSocrates felt, no doubt, like Dr. Johnson on rise; and as the ascent of Pericles, and of a like occasion, that he had neither right nor his surrounding glories, threw Attica into a power to interfere with the entertainment of noonday blaze of light, more dazzling in the his hosts, and that, while the young men proportion that it was less safe, the young could do him no harm, his presence could philosopher entered on that scene of high only be of use to them; but where exists a studies and manly duties he was to quit only state of popular opinion in which the knowl- with his life. He had seen Phidias use his. edge of such an incident would not have dis- chisel on the immortal works of the Parcredited among his fellow-citizens one who thenon; might have banqueted again and had no mission except to enforce on them the again with the rival painters Zeuxis and decencies and duties of social life? Parrhasius; had heard Herodotus read his history to the Athenians; helped Euripides to write some of his immortal tragedies; and seen many a first night of the plays of Sophocles and Aristophanes. He had gossiped belles-lettres with Aspasia, discussed statesmanship with Pericles, studied music with Cosenus, philosophy with Anaxagoras and Prodicus. He might have personally consulted Hippocrates; have furnished Thucydides materials for history; and enjoyed again
It was, perhaps, small set-off to this account, that the morals he taught were not more transcendental than the practice with which he thus illustrated them. There were none of those recommendations of extraordinary self-sacrifice which have since made men seek opportunities of laying down their lives for an abstract principle. There were no encouragements to an unexampled austerity of moral conduct, like that shown by
and again the conversation of a couple of score or more of celebrities whose aggregate brilliancy has not, perhaps, been rivalled in any later era of human greatness. But a change has come over the spirit of this glorious vision. All that is left of this brilliancy of genius and achievement remains with him
men who were not permitted to act except under concerted arrangements independent of their own voliation; and if we would understand the full force of his courage, we have only to reflect that every foe his frankness made among the members of these secret societies commanded against him, probab
self and the few disciples, such as Plato, Xen-ly, the hostility of the rest. They were the men, thus excited and organized, that brought Socrates to trial. The all-potent master of the weapons of rhetoric and logic had avenged, on the corrupt men who trafficked in the vices and weaknesses of their and virtue; and, cut to the heart by rebukes fellow-citizens, all the superiority of his genius that discredited their influence, they pursued him with all the malignity of natures that had been accustomed to look to the indulgence of their lowest instincts for the source of their pleasures. Strong, and numerous as they were strong, they chose the appropriThe people, engaged in pleashad no interest in his morals, and detested ures so far as they could command them, his politics. They knew all his stops, and, bored with his illustrations from homely life of truths they would have nothing to do with, were ready to do more than to surrender their friend,-to help to hunt him to the death. It was on this point that his three tions of poets, Anytus, supported by an orenemies-Melitus, backed by an organizaganization of government people, and Lycon, helped by an organization of rhetoricians or orators-brought him into court as a disloyal citizen and unbelieving worshipper.
ophon, Antisthenes, Aristippus, and Zeno,
The defence of Socrates-who must have known the ground he stood on—was a defihe welcomed it, and spoke for his honor, ance and a despair. Foreseeing his doom, not his life. The secret societies were too much for him, the moral feeling of his countrymen not enough. The evil element he had been battling with all his life had conquered, and he surrendered with the woundadmiral of the fleet who gives up his sword. ed feeling but conscious honor of a beaten In his death, as in his life, he marched with a victorious and triumphant pace, in pomp and at his ease, without opposition or disturbance." No suppliant voice left his lips: "That lofty virtue of his did not strike sail in the height of its glory."* But enough. As he wrapped his face in his robe, as the to do its work, we, who share their nature best gift his countrymen had for him began without being exempted, it may be, from
The principle that made Socrates decline imitation in the Eleusinian mysteries probably kept him aloof from these secret organi- their weaknesses, will withdraw our eyes zations. He stood alone, therefore, among from a survey which can only be continued under a sentiment of sorrow and humiliation.
* See the description which Thucydides gives of Greek manners in the narrative of the siege of Corcyra.
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- Blackwood's Magazine.
LET IT PASS.
Let former grudges pass. --Shakspeare. What will boil and bubble; Never mind a plot ;
BE not swift to take offence;
Anger is a foe to sense;
Brood not darkly o'er a wrong
Which will disappear ere long,
Rather sing this cheery song,
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As the unregarded wind,
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Down into a well,
Lady, thrust your lover; Truth, as some folks tell,
There he may discover.
Rivals of your daughters,
Let it pass.
Since our joys must pass away,
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