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gainst nature. Ś We shudder at the bare idea of pressing a point like this: but the Trilogy of Plato, in some respects, is not more impregnable. The Apologia, which stands first in that collection, notwithstanding its powerful and touching rhetoric, is debased by a vein of quibbling that blends but ill with the simple and manly eloquence with which it closes. Socrates must have known that the charges expressed by his accusers were mere pretexts; that his political sentiments were the real cause for which he was prosecuted; and why did he not boldly force his assailants to drop the mask ? why strain his ingenuity to repel allegations which, after all, he could not wholly or implicitly deny?-Why does he fight so shy of the charge concerning religion, as it is worded in the indictment, if he thought it worth while to answer it at all ? Why shift his ground by aid of his sophistical interrogatives, or fly for shelter to that paltry play upon the definition of his Dæmon, which might do well enough for Aristotle to quote among his speci
$ Xen. Mem. Lib. I. c. iii.—Mr Mitchell has with good taste avoided this topic. If any thing could provoke us to dilate upon so odious a theme, it would be to find Dryden extolling Socrates for such dangerous reasonings as the following : (see Dryden's Life of Virgil, P. 67.) “There is but one Eternal, Immutable, Uniform beauty; in i contemplation of which, our sovereign happiness consists : and " therefore a true lover considers beauty and proportion as so ma' ny steps and degrees, by which he may ascend from the parti• cular to the general, from all that is lovely of feature, or regular • in proportion, or charming in sound, to the general fountain of all • perfection. And if you are so much transported with the sight of • beautiful persons, as to wish neither to eat or dřink, but pass your ( whole life in their conversation; to what ecstasy would it raise you • to behold the original beauty, not filled up with flesh and blood, • or varnished with a fading mixture of colours, and the rest of mor• tal trifles and fooleries, but separa e, unmixed, uniform, and di• vine,' &c. --The man who could choose so luscious a basis for his speculations, or to whom the presence of the beautiful Agathon,' or the interesting Autolycus' was necessary, before he could work and pamper up his reveries to the lo xo luto the original beau"ty' and 'fountain of all perfection,' must have had too presumptuous a confidence in his own strength, or too disdainful a contempt for the opinion of the world.
9. Dryden declares himself indebted to Mr Walsh for this Life of Virgil, but it bears strong marks of his revision, and at any rate the opinions expressed in it are set forth under his sanction.
mens of enthymematic reasoning, * but can hardly be considered by us as any thing better than what Shakespeare would have called some quip, some quillet to deceive.' In the Criton, which displays the magnanimity of Socrates in the most conspicuous and affecting manner, we may entertain some doubts as to the soundness of an argument, that makes the highest reverence towards the laws, consist in aiding them to accomplish an act of the most monstrous injustice. But the exquisite beauty of that suicidal dialogue, as well as its indisputable alienation of Self, may be allowed to shield it from a cavil. The Phædon, however--splendid, overpowering as it is lies a little more open to remark. We would not deny the fanciful grace, the spell-like enchantment of its ultramundane speculations; still less would we militate against the soul-piercing pathos of its final scenes, though that pathos be much impaired by the studied suppression of all natural tenderness, and the artful ambiguity of the expiring sneer, which give too much the air of dying, as in many points the philosopher had lived, for effect. But amid all the tediousness of the metaphysical subtleties that Socrates brings forward in this dialogue for proving the soul's immortality, there is that vile doctrine of referring all abstract knowledge to the memory of a previous existence, more futile than the theory of innate ideas overturned by Locke, and as dangerous, when viewed in connexion with the other Socratic doctrine of ascribing all virtue to knowledge, as any of the moral heresies maintained by the Sophists, which would confound the whole distinctions between probity and vice, destroy the real merit of every species of excellence, and make the inoral world a mere realm of anarchy for chance to riot in uncontrouled. It is vain to urge against the mischief of doctrines like this, an example of inno. cence, however spotless, or a reach of thought, however sublime. Eudoxus himself, while he would have had all mankind devote themselves to pleasure as the highest good, was a model of temperance and self-denial. I The ethics of Socrates contain maxims as pure as any that Christianity unfolds, and political reflections that might instruct even the absolute wisdom of
* Vide Aristot. Rhetor. Lib. II. c. xxiv.
+ Mr Mitchell has noticed the gross contradiction between one part of the Apologia and the language of the Phædon on the subject of physical pursuits. He might have added the testimony of Diogenes Laertius to prove that Socrates had been most violently ada dicted to those studies.
Aristot. Ethic. Lib. X. c. ii.
some statesmen at the present day. "They who are treated 6 with violence, hate, as though they were bereft of a right: • they who are conciliated by persuasion, love, as though they
were gratified with a favour: therefore it is not the part of 6 those who study prudence, to coerce by violence, but of those • who have mere force without judgment to guide it,'t-is a remark, to which certain rulers we could mention might attend with advantage. But all this forms no excuse or palliation for a philosophy which weaker heads or more depraved hearts could so easily wrest to the most pernicious purposes. It was å weapon that might be wielded to destroy as well as to defend : á sort of Lesbian rule || that might be made to accommodate itself to any shape, or be twisted into any tortuosity. We can hardly think it a sufficient compensation for such an evil, to find the folly of the bean-election exposed in one treatise of the Socratic school, or the originally happy state of man,' the deluge,' or the doctrine of free will,' darkly suggested in another. $ But our readers may think it full time for us to have done with this subject; and as we draw near the close of Mr Mitchell's dissertation, we feel half-infected by his softness. It is impossible to read the few last pages of his Essay, without losing every other feeling in admiration of their eloquent beauty. His forte certainly does not lie in syllogism: But to his purity of taste, and his liveliness of manner; the warmth of his classical devotions, and the graces of the language in which he clothes them; we are glad to bear most cordial testimony; and it makes us pass, with every kindly inclination, to examine the translations that constitute the remainder of his work.
Yet we must begin with a protest against the plan upon which these translations are executed. It is really not fair in Mr M. to garble his poetry with so much prose: to give us Aristophanes in stripes, like the cuts and slashes of a Spanish doublet. We can hardly pretend to fathom his reason for doing so. It cannot be laziness surely, with such an unlimited command of language and versification as he seems to possess. It cannot be a mincing delicacy, that wishes to pass sicco pede over all that might offend prudish ears,- for many of the passages omitted in the translation are purer than some that
find a place. Besides we suppose that Mr M. does not mean to publish a Family Aristophanes, or pretend to a more squeamish stomach than Madame Dacier, who has managed to let us have her translations served up whole, an instance of some resolution as well as ingenuity in that remarkable lady. We shall be sincerely sorry to have our favourites the Clouds and the Birds thus mangled; nor is it just in Mr M. towards his author, to stand behind the scenes, like Master Peter in Don Quixote, and bring in his characters with a flourish of the rhetorical trumpet, or keep them off, merely as it suits his convenience. Mr M. must know the old Greek proverb, xsamins Qayev is pen Qayers, either eat the whole snail, or let it quite alone,' and that is the sort of treat his readers will expect of him. Of the Acharnians, a play of about 1200 lines altogether, his version omits nearly 500,- not very far from the half. The 1400 lines of the Knights, are despoiled of upwards of 400. Whether the passages left untranslated be of much consequence or not, we object to the plan in toto. The merely English reader may imagine himself cheated of something valuable, - and think that he does not get all he was promised for his money; while the scholar will certainly grumble to see omitted any opportunity for spirited interpretation or useful remark.
A person with a rage for classification might arrange the remaining plays of Aristophanes under the three heads of Critical, which would comprehend the Frogs, Philosophical, which would contain the Clouds--and Political, which might be made to embrace all the rest. But these different qualities are so interwoven in the tissue of each individual piece, that it would be silly to lay much stress upon any such arrangement. The two play. which Mr M. has given us in the present volume, may be considered as two of the most exclusively political,—each having a specific object of policy in view, that is kept sight of throughout. The Acharnians, which stands first, is likewise the earliest of its author's productions, that has come down to us entire. The plot may be told in a very few words.
• Dicæopolis, a citizen of Athens, is irritated at the continuance of the Peloponnesian war, that calamitous event, which furnished Aristophanes with so many topics of complaint, and which ended in the ruin of his native country. Dicæopolis endeavours to persuade his countrymen to make a peace with Lacedemon,-his efforts fail : irritated at their obstinacy, the worthy rustic resolves to make a separate peace for himself and family, and despatches one Amphitheus to Sparta for the purpose. We are not to look for probability in these Grecian farces: or, rather, it is in an utter contempt for pro.. bability, and an entire departure from all the ordinary prosaic occur. rences of common life, that the principal * entertainment of these wild sallies of humour consists. This journey of one or two hundred miles is accordingly accomplished in the course of a few minutes. + The rest of the play consists in a succession of panegyrics upon the blessings which this treaty brings to Dicæopolis-among which the additions to his culinary enjoyments are not forgotten, in a country where cookery is ranked by one of its poets among the liberal arts); and a series of satires upon the young statesmen of the day, who were impatient for the continuance of the war, and who, it should seem, had as yet shown nothing but that spirit of foppery, haughtiness, and vain-gloriness, which often precedes the development of powerful and active minds: such were Alcibiades and Lamachus, upon the latter of whom the dramatist's lash falls very heavily.'.
Thus far Mr Mitchell. Though the Greek argument characterizes this play as év Podga Tetoruesvos— exceeding-well concocted ;' and though there is no piece of Aristophanes more rich in that pregnant, unlooked-for, round-the-corner sort of personal satire he so much excelled in, we cannot regard it, in comparison with his other compositions, as so interesting as any of them. Spite of the chronological propriety of beginning with it, we think a translator, conscious of the force of first impressions, might have hesitated as to putting it foremost. The best scenes are the famous interview between Dicæopolis and Euripides, whom Aristophanes is delighted to bring as soon as possible into ridicule,-a scene uncommonly brisk in the original, but rather tame and vapid in Mr M.'s transfusion of it,-and those farcical and broadly-humorous scenes with the Megarensian and his daughters, the Baotian and the little sycophant, which Mr M. has not translated at all, at least has only given hashed up with his descriptive prose.
Mr M. is not happy in the dialogue of this drama. He has not caught the Aristophanic brevity and roughness. It is altogether too much wire-drawn, and too much inflated, to please us. He says a good deal that Aristophanes does not say, and bestows a meretricious glare and glossiness upon a good deal that he does. He gives us the cold glitter of an icicle, for the hearty though less polished glow of his author's phraseology. We
* Not the principal surely. Mr M. should have added, as far as the plot is concerned.
+ It is much more violent in Shakespeare to whisk his characters from Italy to England and back again, as he has done in Cymbeline : or to slide over sixteen years between two acts, as in the Winter's Tale.