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N° LXXXIII.–VOL. XIV.]
For OCTOBER, 1810.
“We shall never envy the honours which wit and learning obrain in any other cause, if we can be numbered among the writers who have given ardour to virtue, and confidence to truth."-DR. JOHNSON.
that Socrates had, on some similar
occasion, discoursed on the same subAS
S you have judged the Dialogue ject, without any material difference
of Æschines, on the Fear of of expression. We have a like inDeath," not an unsuitable piece for a stance in the Gorgias of Plato. place in your instructive miscellany, it is concluded that his other two
The question discussed in this diaDialogues, one on “Virtue," and the logue is, “Whether virtue can be other on “ Riches," may meet with taught". Socrates, by his usual me-,
thod, brings the person, with whom also, that they will give some value he discoursed, to acknowledge that and importance to the former com- carries his point by an appeal to those
men could not be taught virtue: he munications, as affording further specimens of the Socratic mode of phi- named as patterns of virtue ; namely,
very examples which this person had losophizing, and setting before your Thucydides, not the historian, but a readers a complete work of one author from the Socratic School.
popular leader, Themistocles, Aris
tides, and Pericles. Socrates leads I am, Sir, your's,
him to concede, Ist, That these great JOSHUA TOULMIX. men had not been under any masters Birmingham 27th Sept. 1810.
whom they resembled, and by whom
That they had left no disciples who
well. The friend, or disciple, of So
crates asks, thereupon, if these great Tais Dialogue seems to be one of men were of themselves virtuous by those which Diogenes Laertius de- nature? The philosopher shows that scribes as without an introduction, it was not so; because, if this had because Socrates enters on the subject been the case, those happy dispositions, abruptly and at once, without men- which constitute virtue, would bave tioning the occasion which led him been observed in them from the time into this conversation. The same of their birth; and they would have point is discussed in the Menon of been fixed upon as the objects of the Plato, and in almost the same words; most watchful care, for fear that any from whence some may conclude that injury should happen to them before this dialogue was taken from that: they attained to the age for serving their but I am satisfied of the contrary, country: but this was not done. because, if any one had been inclined From whence, then, says the friend to borrow from Plato the sentiments of Socrates, arose their virtue, if it of this dialogue, he would, for fear were not either by nature, or eduof being charged with plagiarism, cation? Socrates replies, that it seems
changed the expressions. It has to have been the gift of Heaven, bethe appearance, as if Æschines had stowed on some men by the diviue
UNIVERSAL MAG. VOL. XIV.
liberality, when it is the design of men, who have not, naturally, any Providence that the state, in which principles, biasses, or faculties to desuch characters are Born, should be iermine them to prefer virtue to vice; prosperous. This is the subject of and that it is by reasoning only that the conference, which, as it was cus- they are led to do it: or, 2d, that toinary witli him, Socrates manages there are some powers in all men, so well, that the person with whom which, when they begin to be exhe conversed was obliged to fall into ercised, cause them to prefer moral the same sentiment with the phi- good to moral' evil, and truth to losopher, without foreseeing to what falsehood. point he was bringing him.
According to these different senses The readers of this dialogue will the proposed question admits different easily perceive that there is an ambi
answers. guity in the terms in which the ques- It is certain that men cannot give tion, on which the debate turns, was to men abilities of usefulness to soproposed; and that the philosopher ciety, who have no natural disposition, appears to speak against his own sen- nor any talents to acquire them.timents, since he spent his life in in. There are talents which the best masstructing youth in virtue, which would tess suppose to exist in their pupils, have been useless, if they who are without which they can do them no virtuous become so without a master. good. In this sense, “ virtue cannot We have attempted, in the notes, be taught," so that they who hear its briefly to remove this difficulty: but, precepts, should attain to the practice as they did not afford sufficient room of it. If men are not born with fato observe all obat the point suggests, culties proper to be serviceable to we have more fully treated it in a society, they can never be made so distinct chapter ; of which I will here by instruction. We may say further, give a concise abstract.
that if, besides faculties, they have The Greek word agein, which is not an inclination and bias to certain translated virtue, is very equivocal. pursuits, antecedently to any instrucIt signifies, 1st, every talent which tion, they will never reach to excelqualifies a man for what he under- lence. We have seen such a bias takes; as we show in a note at the discover itself in great men, before beginning of the dialogue; since So- they received any instruction; as royal crates calls the ability of a physician, virtues were observed in Cyrus, and or even of a cook, who acquits him- a taste for geometry in Pascal, from self properly in his employment, their very childhood. virtue. 2d, A-bias of nature, by It is also certain that the faculties which a man appears more fit for one and biasses of nature, or rather which province than another, and which be- God has communicated, require ingins to appear as soon as reason opens, struction in order to be brought into especially if he should one day dis- a beneficial use, and to attain to extinguish himself in this employ. 3d, A cellence. In this sense, virtue may habit of acting according to this predo- be taught, and is taught every day. minent bias, which is acquired by Socrates himself was engaged in no practice. 4th, Moral virtue, which cha- other employment than in endeavours racterises the actions, that form our to form to virtue young persons in manners,whether we speak of the per- whom he saw a disposition proper sonal conduct of individuals,or of the for his purpose, and favourable to his administration of public affairs. success. So that, in this view, he
The word to be taught is also equi- was fully persuaded that he could vocal; for it siguifies, 1st, to deliver teach virtue. He could have no precepts on a subject, whether they doubt that the four great nien, rnenwho hear them practice them or not. tioned in this conversation, had been 2d, The effect produced by precepts, under masters : for, in short, :hey when they are carried into practice. had been educated as other Athenians, Besides this, in the question“ whe- and the examples of their predecessors ther virtue can be taught,” the word were so many lessons to them. Tho' admits two senses. For we may sup- they had not been under such able pose, Ist, that virtue may be taught masters as they were, an indifferent
education, with the dispositions they lents which he has received from
If inents and authorities. They are all their sons did not resemble them, it so formed that they can easily diswas because they had not received tinguish truth from falsehood, and the like talents from nature, or
be. the honest from the dishonest conChlme they were unwilling to take the duct, and they approve the former trouble to cultivate them and to raise and condemn the latter. If they folthem to perfection by exercise. A low the light of nature, and iwite skilul painter, for instance, transmits with it the choice of an employment,
of execution to those only for which they are suited, without of bis students who have a natural aspiring to any above their capacity, talent for painting and who cultivate it. they can very much contribute to Tuey who fail in the one or the other their own happiness and that of never distinguish themselves in the society.
[To be continued.] This is conspicuously, agreeable to the experience of all ages. Socrates
THE K15s. had too much good sense to contradict it: and it is clear, from many
Qui te ridal beatus est passages in Xenophon, that he be- Bentior qui te audict lieved, according to the sense in which mui baial-semi ileus et. we have asserted it, that “ virtue can
BUCHANNAN be taught.” Some philosophers, who, TT was the custom of Mohamasim at first, seem to deny ii, have also, as I to rise with the sun, and drive his they made it evident, been of the asses through the streets of Bagdad. same opinion.
All the world is aware that the milk It appears to me that men are not of those animals is a sovereigo remeall born equal, or equally fit to suc. dy against stupidity: Mohamasim, ceed in the same pursuits : whether therefore, grew tolerabıy rich, for the difference lieth in the body or the there was not a citizen who did not mind; for I see no reason satisfactory persuade his neighbour that he stood to prove that here may not be a va- in woeful need of the remedy. Twenriety in minds as well as in bodies. ty years did he pass in this uninterThere is much appearance that the rupied course without a murmur and Creator has intended this variety, that without a wish. He had heard all men may more easily be formed into speak with enthusiasm of the pleasocieties, in which each might act his sures of variety, yet heard with indifproper part. One man cannot do ference: to bim that was most grateevery thing; he stands in need of the ful which was njost casy; and though aid of others who may render him a not supernaturally wise, he had disthousand services which he cannot cernment sufficient to discover that, perform for bimself; as they may most things become easy by perpetual reciprocally receive assistance from recurrence. him, according to his ability. If all 'Tis a piteous truth, that, be our were suited to command, and few inclinations howsoever unaspiring and fitted to submit, no one would obey, inoilensire, they are qually subject and no society could exist. On the to opposition with the most iurbulent contrary, if no one knew how to command, all would be confusion. So Bibliothequc Chuisie, 1.22. Po that every one, according to the ta- 136-145.
and ambitious : we may as well ex. hamasim, rubbing his shoulders, thy pect to live for ever, as to be for ever will is indisputable; mankind are thy fortunate. Life is at best but like the slaves; thou speakest and art obeyed, beard of Hamlet's father, a sable sil- nay more than obeyed. Dust of my vered : even the humble existence of feet, replied the Sultan, tamper not Mohamasim, it seems, was to be with my patience; choose, or this chequered with trouble; for, one day, moment is thy last. Let me consider, as the Sultan passed by, the poor fel- said Mohamasim, with a playfulness low, seized with a fit of coughing, he could not conquer; shall I now wiped his mouth with his sleeve.- have 960 more of these pretty, agree. Unfortunately, by the laws of the able, jocose lashes, or a kiss of the Ottomans, it is a capital crime to princess ; why, truly, I believe I shall wipe your mouth in the supreme pre- prefer the kiss, if it be merely for the sence; but the Sultan, who then sake of variety. The Sultan smiled reigned, having an uncommon portion and left him. of humanity and forgiveness, ordered Well, said the ass-driver, when the punishment to be mitigated to a alone, can this be rejection : can this thousand lashes. Now, as Mohama- be choice: or receive 960 lashes from sim could have no claim to feeling, the heavy hand of that unmerciful for he was an ass-driver, a thousand scoundrel, or kiss the Princess Roxa. lashes was a mere flea-bite to him: linda, the most angelic of mortals, even the courtiers, a kind of person. the darling of the universe? Am I age renowned for compassion and awake? It would have puzzled fine feeling, did not deny the justice Merlin himself to determine how and lenity of the sentence; for what long he would have soliloquized in crime could be more atrocious than interrogations, had he not been interto wife one's mouth in the presence rupted by the melodious remonof a being who wore red morocco strances of his animals; but no sooner slippers ?
did the well-known sounds salute his Punishments are bestowed in Tur. ears, than he started as from a trance, key with somewhat more alacrity and, running to embrace his comthan rewards are given in England. panions, profaned the very lips with Mohamasim was stripped with sum- which he was to kiss the princess ; mary celerity, and had received a never did scene exhibit more pathos dozen tolerably smart applications to on the one side, or more indifference his shoulders, when the Sultan order- on the other : the truth is, that asses ed the executioner to stop. The exe- are not remarkable for tenderness. cutioner, having lent his sovereign As he quitted the animals, the difmoney, cared not an iota for bis com- .ficulty of obtaining an interview with mands, so proceeded. The truth was, the princess for the first time occurred that having run up a score with Mo. to him. Mirthful and thoughtless, hamasim for milk, he bore him inve- he never dreamed of obstacles till he terate animosity; for there is nothing tumbled over them: it was not till so merciless as ingratitude. Stay your now that he suspected the Sultan, in hand, said the Vizier ; but still be pro- giving him his choice, had condescendceeded. Stay your hand,exclaimed the ed to be facetious, and that, in faci, courtiers unanimously; but still he his shoulders were doomed to be flasproceeded. Dog, said the Sultan en- ed as inevitably as though Gravity raged, stay thy hand,
or thou shalt be herself held the lash. In the name hanged, like the coffin of Mahomet, of the prophet, said he, where, wher, between earth and beaven. As the and how shall I behold the Princess man had no violent inclination to be Roxalinda ? What bast thou to do hung he withheld at last,and Mobama- with ber, said a neighbour, slapping sim had the satisfaction of hearing him him with friendly freedom on the told to go about his business. Moha- shoulder? masim, said the Sultan, if thou hast Before I proceed, it were not amiss not contrived, before one revolution to observe upon the dissimilitude of of the moon, to kiss the Princess customs in different nations. Rosalinda, thou shalt receive the rest. Turkey, you prove the strength of Commander of the Faithful, said Mo- your friendship by raising a tumour