תמונות בעמוד

of the American miracle-worker, Dr. Newton-who, unlike the Newton of a former time, is bent on disestablishing rather than establishing the laws of nature--is another mark in our times that we require something other than the gospel. By the Saturday Review we are told that “if the exhibition of credulity at Cambridge Hall [Newman Street, Oxford Street, London] was painful, it was accompanied by examples of family affection as real as those which were evoked by the fame of the miracles of the New Testament.”. If this is true, how can it be maintained that the gospel is adapted to modern life? This miracle-bunting is a confession, as well as a proof, that it is not, and that the old question may be put, even in our days, “Art thou He that should come, or look we for another? To the same purpose tends the present agitation for the consent of the Church to the doctrine of papal infallibility. By the adoption of such a dogma it is hoped that the felt want of the gospel, as adapted to the age, would be rectified by decisions, from time to time, bearing definitely upon the peculiarities of each period. Were the gospel adapted to the age, there could be no possible justification of such an attempt; but as this movement is a great fact, and patent to every one, we require only to mention it to prove that the gospel wants harmony with the times.

I am quite aware that it may be attempted to rebut all these arguments and refute all these conclusions by the assertion that it is not the gospel that is not adapted to our age, but our age that is not adapted to the gospel. This will be a damaging retort, not to our side of the question, but to those who rest upon it. For we shall then ask, and with terrible pertinence, Why is the age not adapted to the gospel, and to the life and doctrine it requires? Has not the gospel been given that it should expressly change and influence the lives of men, turning them from earthly and carnal ways to the

ways of peace and ot pleasantness which they open up to the soul? How can that be adapted to an age which has lost all hold upon those even who prosess to be governed most fully by it—which has given way before buman influences and institutions, and failed to impress, and act upon, and alter the society of the times in which we live? Wherefore is it that even the most enthusiastic upholders of the ellicacy of the Gospels ask for and pray for a fresh outpouring of the Spirit of God, if it is not because they see and feel that the gospel is not affecting the age as it did in the days of old, despite all the new machinery employed to make it effective ; if it is not tbat they know, though they may be slow to acknowledge, that the gospel is not adapted to modern life?


Greek Days and Roman Nights.

No. 1.-PLATO'S “PHÆDO." Analysis of the Phædoof Plato.- Argument I. THE Prologue having informed us of the scene, the time, and the circumstances of the dialogue, and having excited our interest in the subject, the author proceeds to open the main topic of bis in. tended discourse in a free and natural style, by reporting a remark elicited from Socrates by the special experience of pleasure then felt by him, arising out of his freedom from the bonds by which he had been fettered. “What a singular thing pleasure seems to be, especially in its relation to pain. One can scarcely ever have one without the other following hard after it into our experience. If Æsop had noticed this fact he would have written a fable on it. I felt the chain gall me, but now a glow of delight rushes along my veins; and thus

“The gods have blessed me With a diviner pleasure for the pain

Man's hatred has inflicted.” “By Jove ! Socrates," said Cebes, "you remind me to ask why you employed yourself during your prison-hours in versifying Æsop's fables and composing a hymn to Apollo, when you had not previously attempted the Divine art ; many have inquired about this lately, Evenus, the sophist and poet, in particular.

“Ì had no wish to compete with him, but to see if that were the poetry which certain dreams seemed to suggest to me, that I might have a clear conscience in having tried to fulfil all duty. I had always interpreted philosophy to be the highest music of the mind, but now I fancied that as I was born on Apollo's day, the 6th of Thargelion, and he had interposed to save me thirty days, I should sing a hymn to him whose is the Delian festival; and therefore as the time was too short for me to make fables I put into metre some of those I knew of Æsop's. Tell Evenus this, bid him farewell for me, and say if he is wise be should follow me speedily ; I, it seems, depart to-day.” Simmias thinks Evenus not likely to relish or take the advice. “Is not he then a philosopher P." says Socrates. “Yes!" replied Simmias. “Then he will be anxious to follow me; and 80 will every one who rightly pursues philosophy; though no one may commit violence on himself to do so, as that is wrong," Socrates remarked, and thereupon placed his feet upon the ground and sat so during the ensuing conversation.

“What can you mean, Socrates,” said Cebes, " by saying it is wrong to commit suicide ; but that a philosopher should be willing to follow another who is about to die?” What, Cebes, have not you and Simmias heard the Pythagorean of Crotona, Philolaus, on suicide?” “No, nothing definitely." "I only speak from hearsay, as I talk in preference to reading, and I do not scruple to repeat what

I have heard.” “Why is suicide wrong P” asked Cebes. “That, you should consider wisely and well, for though to some men it is better to die than to live, yet it is mostly those to whom a self-sought exit is an impious act--they should await another benefactor, Death.” Cebes, speaking in his own Baotian dialect, in his earnestness forgetting the cultured speech of Athens, and smiling, exclaims, " By Jove, 'tis 80!”

"Our body resembles a prison, and from it we should not seek to escape by unlawful means,” said Socrates ; “and besides, we belong to the gods, and have no right to destroy their property, and hence we should wait till necessity compels us, as it does me, to die.” * But,” Cebes replies, "just on that account you seem to me to advance an absurdity when you say that it is better to die than to live ; for if the gods are our masters and we their slaves, and the gods can take better care of us than we can of ourselves, then it becomes a wise man to regret to die, and a foolish one only would rejoice."

Socrates, looking at Phædo, at once jests at and compliments Cebes on his pertinacity and ingenuity Simmias thinks Cebes presses Socrates hard, and that Socrates will find it difficult to defend his view of the case. “Oh, you want to put me on my trial," remarks Socrates; "well, I hope I shall defend myself before you better than I did before my judges. If I did not expect to go amongst good men, and amongst the gods, who are both wise and good, I should be wrong to rejoice at dying ; but I do hope to go amongst good men, and I am sure I shall go among the gods ; for I believe that something awaits those who die, and that it will be better for the good than the bad.” “Would you go away, carrying this faith, which concerns us also, with youP persuade us of it, and that will be your best apology," Simmias says.

“That I shall try to do when I have heard what Crito (who has been for some time attempting to speak) has to say." Crito has nothing particular to say, but that the gaoler has told him that the excitement of talking may hinder the due operation of the bemlock to be given, and cause the drug to be repeatedly taken before it produces the effect. Socrates will dare the consequences. He wishes to tell why a philosopher has hope in death, and therefore needs not fear to die. Philosophy is a preparation for Death; it seeks to attain perfect intellectual freedom, and as the body imprisons the soul and impedes it in its aspirations and desires, philosophy endeavours to escape from subserviency to the body, and to give the spirit freedom of wing to soar upward and be free. The senses are the sources of ignorance and evil. Sensationalism and animalism are the foes of idealism. To be in love with life is to be fond of the body, and subject to its affections and imperfections, and from these it is that philosophy strives to unfetter the soul. Philosophy and death therefore offer a similar enfranchisement; the former, while we are in the body, endeavtars to keep us as if not of the body, and the latter disperses the dust of the frame and 80 imparts the purest liberty and the freest scope. In the body most men embrace but a shadow, not the reality of virtue, for they value things for the pleasure they offer, not for the culture they afford. The philosopher purifies his soul from all worldliness, and pursues wisdom and virtue for their own sakes, not for the advan. tages they yield. The wise seek to be all soul, and that, death comes to make them. Socrates bad so sought to be wise and virtuour, and to be spiritualized, and he did not repine that he was now to be set free from earth, and to be brought into direct intercourse with good masters and noble friends, the great of the past, and the gods who are greater.

But Cebes hesitates a doubt that when the soul is separated it is destroyed, and vanishes like breath or smoke; and it will require a good deal of sound argument to make it appear probable that the soul of one who dies, exists still and possesses intelligence and activity. Socrates expresses his willingness to converse on these points if Cebes and his friends care to engage in it. Cebes would gladly, and Socrates thinks that no one-even though he were a comic poet (like Aristophanes)—would affirm that such talk was : unsuitable to his situation. There is an old notion about Metempsychosis (taught by Thales, Pherecydes, Pythagoras, &c.,) which we may recall and examine. Do the souls of the dead exist in Hades, in order that they may be able at the period of transmigration to come hitber again? If they come again they must exist after death, for if they did die they could not be the same soul and self. Are not all things generated contraries from contraries? the bonourable is known by its contrary the base, just from unjust, great from small, strong from weak, heat from cold, waking from sleeping, and life from death, and vice versâ. Therefore our souls must exist in Hades, or there could be no revival and no transmigration. Unless the circle of being is a continuous reciprocity between contraries, the Fable of Endymion, the beautiful, eversleeping idol of Selene,

“The very music of whose name has gone into men's being," would be a jest, for all would be asleep as he; and soon the doc. trine of Anaxagoras would be realized,

“All things in one another's being mingle." Besides, if all things died, and did not revive, all would soon be dead; hence I think we may conclude that the souls of the departed exist, and that the condition of the good is better, and of the evil

So ends the first great argument on the immortality of the soul, to wbich Socrates asks the assent of Cebes. Cebes pot only acknowledges the force of the cyclical reasoning employed by the “ prisoner of hope,” but thinks it may be carried a step farther by taking into account the facts of human cognition---to which atten. tion is next turned.


Poetic Critique.


Miss Vortex. A charming nosegay. All exotics, I declare.

" Jessy. No, madam, neglected wild flowers ; I took them from their bod of weeds, bestowed care on their culture, and by transplanting them to a more genial soil, they have flourished with luxuriant strength and beauty.

Miss Vortex. A pretty amusement.

" Jessy. And it seemed, madam, to convey this lesson ; not to despise the lowly mind, but rather with fostering hand to draw it from its chill obscu. rity, that, like these humble flowers, it might grow rich in worth and native energy." -Thomas Morton's " Cure for the Heartache."

THERE are probably few things so difficult as the criticism of poetry, although it is a common opinion that nothing is so easy as being a connoisseur in the article of verse. Poetry as emotion and thought, combined into a single unity by the fusion of ove into the other, so as to constitute a perfect amalgam, issues from the poet's mind in hot and molten fluidity, and takes form in the moulds of

But the critical reader sees the cold form and not the burning emotional thought; and as he requires to preserve his judgment cool, he must bring a cold mind into contact with the cold forms of the words of the verse, and hence it is that critics are so often accused of making false judgments on poetry.

The ordinary reader has one duty only to perform-to read and enjoy, to take into bimself the stir and tremor of the poet's strains. He lays his soul open receptively to take in the whole magic of the melody, the meaning of the emotion, the influence of the imagin. ings, and the impulse on the intellect; and, with spontaneous acquiescence in the enchantments proposed, delights and gladdens bimself in companionship with the poet. But the critical reader must give the poem entrance into his emotional nature through the understanding, slowly, carefully, inquiringly, testing the whole on the one hand by austere judgment, and on the other by the severe philosophy of the moral feelings. In this way we account for the frequent discrepancies between the decisions of the critics and the readers of poetry. Readers can surrender their entire sympathy to the poet, while the critic has continually to urge the query, Why should this move, or how does this excite? When young poets read their verses to their friends, as they sometimes do, they often leave out of account the fact that they know the precise feeling or emotion to which the poem appeals at first hand, whereas it enters into the mind of the friend at best only is suggestion; hence the


[ocr errors]
« הקודםהמשך »