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gus. Both acquired fame abroad, and both re- | and they revenged none. Above all, they looked turned to be watched and depressed at home. on a citizen who served them well as thei This is not peculiar to Sparta. Oligarchy, deadliest enemy. These are the arts which wherever it has existed, has always stunted protract the existence of governments. the growth of genius. Thus it was at Rome, till about a century before the Christian era; we read of abundance of consuls and dictators who won battles and enjoyed triumphs, but we look in vain for a single man of the first order of intellect, for a Pericles, a Demosthenes, or a Hannibal. The Gracchi formed a strong democratical party; Marius revived it; the foundations of the old aristocracy were shaken; and two generations fertile in really great men appeared.
Nor were the domestic institutions of Lacedæmon less hateful or less contemptible than her foreign policy. A perpetual interference with every part of the system of human life, a constant struggle against nature and reason, characterized all her laws. To violate even prejudices which have taken deep root in the minds of a people is scarcely expedient; to think of extirpating natural appetites and passions is frantic: the external symptoms may be occasionally repressed, but the feeling still Venice is a still more remarkable instance: exists, and, debarred from its natural objects, in her history we see nothing but the state; preys on the disordered mind and body of its aristocracy had destroyed every seed of genius victim. Thus it is in convents-thus it is and virtue. Her dominion was like herself, among ascetic sects-thus it was among the lofty and magnificent, but founded on filth and Lacedæmonians. Hence arose that madness, weeds. God forbid that there should ever again or violence approaching to madness, which, in exist a powerful and civilized state, which, spite of every external restraint, often appeared after existing through thirteen hundred eventful among the most distinguished citizens of Sparta. years, shall not bequeath to mankind the me- Cleomenes terminated his career of raving mory of one great name or one generous action. cruelty, by cutting himself to pieces. Pausa Many writers, and Mr. Mitford among the nias seems to have been absolutely insane: he number, have admired the stability of the Spar-formed a hopeless and profligate scheme; he tan institutions; in fact, there is little to ad- betrayed it by the ostentation of his behaviour mire, and less to approve. Oligarchy is the and the imprudence of his measures; and he weakest and most stable of governments, and alienated, by his insolence, all who might have it is stable because it is weak. It has a sort served or protected him. Xenophon, a warm of valetudinarian longevity; it lives in the ba- admirer of Lacedæmon, furnishes us with the lance of Sanctorius; it takes no exercise, it strongest evidence to this effect. It is impos exposes itself to no accident, it is seized with sible not to observe the brutal and senseless a hypochondriac alarm at every new sensation, fury which characterizes almost every Spartan it trembles at every breath, it lets blood for with whom he was connected. Clearchus every inflammation, and thus, without ever en- nearly lost his life by his cruelty. Chirisophus joying a day of health or pleasure, drags on deprived his army of the services of a faithful its existence to a doting and debilitated old guide by his unreasonable and ferocious se age. verity. But it is needless to multiply instances, The Spartans purchased for their govern- Lycurgus, Mr. Mitford's favourite legislator, ment a prolongation of its existence, by the founded his whole system on a mistaken prin. sacrifice of happiness at home and dignity ciple. He never considered that governments abroad. They cringed to the powerful; they were made for men, and not men for govern trampled on the weak; they massacred their ments. Instead of adapting the constitution to Helots; they betrayed their allies; they con- the people, he distorted the minds of the people trived to be a day too late for the battle of Ma- to suit the constitution, a scheme worthy of the rathon; they attempted to avoid the battle of Laputan Academy of Projectors. And this ap Salamis; they suffered the Athenians, to whom pears to Mr. Mitford to constitute his peculiar they owed their lives and liberties, to be a title to admiration. Hear himself: "What to second time driven from their country by the modern eyes most strikingly sets that extraPersians, that they might finish their own for- ordinary man above all other legislators is, that tifications on the Isthmus; they attempted to in so many circumstances, apparently out of take advantage of the distress to which exer- the reach of law, he controlled and formed to tions in their cause had reduced their preser- his own mind the wills and habits of his peovers, in order to make them their slaves; they ple." I should suppose that this gentleman had strove to prevent those who had abandoned the advantage receiving his education under their walls to defend them, from rebuilding the ferula of Dr. Pangloss; for his metaphysics them to defend themselves; they commenced are clearly those of the castle of Thunder-tenthe Peloponnesian war in violation of their en-tronckh, "Remarquez bien que les nez ort été gagements with Athens; they abandoned it in faits pour porter des lunettes, aussi avons Lous vic.ation of their engagements with their allies; des lunettes. Les jambes sont visiblement in they gave up to the sword whole cities, which stitutées pour être chaussées, et nous avons had placed themselves under their protection; des chausses. Les cochons étant faits pour they bartered for advantages confined to them- étre mangés, nous mangeons du porc touta selves, the interest, the freedom, and the lives l'année." of those who had served them most faithfully; they took with equal complacency, and equal infamy, the stripes of Elis and the bribes of Persia; they never showed either resentment or gratitude, they abstained from no injury,
At Athens the laws did not constantly interfere with the tastes of the people. The children were not taken from their parents by that universal step-mother, the state. They were not starved into thieves, or ortured into
bullies; there was no established table at tending for a remote colony, a frontier town, which every one must dine, no established the honours of a flag, a salute or a title, that style in which every one must converse. An they can make fine speeches, and do good Athenian might eat whatever he could afford offices to their enemies. The Black Prince to buy, and talk as long as he could find peo- waited behind the chair of his captive; Villars ple to listen. The government did not tell the interchanged repartees with Eugene; George people what opinions they were to hold, or II. sent congratulations to Louis XV., during a what songs they were to sing. Freedom pro- war, upon occasion of his escape from the atducel excellence. Thus philosophy took its tempt of Damien; and these things are fine origin. Thus were produced those models of and generous, and very gratifying to the author poetry, of oratory, and of the arts, which of the Broad Stone of Honour, and all the other scarcely fall short of the standard of ideal ex- wise men who think, like him, that God made cellence. Nothing is more conducive to hap- the world only for the use of gentlemen. But piness than the free exercise of the mind, in they spring in general from utter heartlessness. pursuits congenial to it. This happiness, as- No war ought ever to be undertaken but under suredly, was enjoyed far more at Athens than circumstances which render all interchange of at Sparta. The Athenians are acknowledged courtesy between the combatants impossible. even by their enemies to have been distin- It is a bad thing that men should hate each guished, in private life, by their courteous and other, but it is far worse that they should conamiable demeanour. Their levity, at least, tract the habit of cutting one another's throats was better than Spartan sullenness, and their without hatred. War is never lenient but impertinence, than Spartan insolence. Even where it is wanton; when men are compelled in courage it may be questioned whether they to fight in self-defence, they must hate and were inferior to the Lacedæmonians. The avenge; this may be bad, but it is human na great Athenian historian has reported a re- ture, it is the clay as it came from the hand of markable observation of the great Athenian the potter. minister. Pericles maintained that his countrymen, without submitting to the hardships of a Spartan education, rivalled all the achievements of Spartan valour, and that therefore the pleasures and amusements which they enjoyed were to be considered as so much clear gain. The infantry of Athens was certainly not equal to that of Lacedæmon; but this seems to have been caused merely by want of practice the attention of the Athenians was diverted from the discipline of the phalanx to that of the trireme. The Lacedæmonians, in spite of all their boasted valour, were, from the same cause, timid and disorderly in naval action.
It is true that among the dependencies of Athens, seditions assumed a character more ferocious than even in France, during the reign of terror-the accursed Saturnalia of an accursed bondage. It is true that in Athens itself, where such convulsions were scarcely known, the condition of the higher orders was disagreeable; that they were compelled to contribute large sums for the service or the amusement of the public, and that they were sometimes harassed by vexatious informers. Whenever such cases occur, Mr. Mitford's skepticism vanishes. The "if," the "but," the "it is said," the "if we may believe," with which he qualifies every charge against a tyrant or an aristocracy, are at once abandoned. The blacker the story, the firmer is his belief; and he never fails to inveigh with hearty bitterness against democracy as the source of every species of crime.
But we are told that crimes of great enormity were perpetrated by the Athenian government and the democracies under its protection. It is true that Athens too often acted up to the full extent of the laws of war, in an age when those laws had not been mitigated by causes The Athenians, I believe, possessed more which have operated in later times. This ac- liberty than was good for them Yet I will cusation is, in fact, common to Athens, to La- venture to assert, that while the splendour, the cedæinon, to all the states of Greece, and to all intelligence, and the energy of that great peostates similarly situated. Where communities ple were peculiar to themselves, the crimes are very large, the heavier evils of war are felt with which they are charged arose from but by few. The ploughboy sings, the spin-causes which were common to them with ning-wheel turns round, the wedding-day is every other state which then existed. The fixed, whether the last battle were lost or won. violence of faction in that age sprang from a In little states it cannot be thus; every man cause which has always been fertile in every feels in his own property and person the effect political and moral evil, domestic slavery. of a war. Every man is a soldier, and a soldrer fighting for his nearest interests. His own trees have been cut down-his own corn has been burnt-his own house has been piljaged his own relations have been killed. How can he entertain towards the enemies of his country the same feelings with one who has suffered nothing from them, except perhaps the addition of a small sum to the taxes which he pays? Men in such circumstances | cannot be generous. They have too much at stake It is when they are, if I may so express nyself, playing for love, it is when war is a mere gaine at chess, it is when they are con
The effect of slavery is completely to dis solve the connection which naturally exists between the higher and lower classes of free citizens. The rich spend their wealth in pur chasing and maintaining slaves. There is no demand for the labour of the poor; the fable of Menenius ceases to be applicable; the belly communicates no nutriment to the members; there is an atrophy in the body politic. The two parties, therefore, proceed to extremities utterly unknown in countries where they have mutually need of each other. In Rome the oligarchy was too powerful to be subverted by force; and neither the tribunes nor the popular
assemblies, though constitutionally omnipo- thenes, and comparing him with his rival, tent, could maintain a successful contest Eschines. Let him speak for himself. against men who possessed the whole property "In earliest youth Demosthenes earned an of the state. Hence the necessity for measures opprobrious nickname by the effeminacy of tending to unsettle the whole frame of society, his dress and manner." Does Mr. Mitford and to take away every motive of industry; know that Demosthenes denied this charge, the abolition of debts, and the Agrarian laws and explained the nickname in a perfectly dif -propositions absurdly condemned by men ferent manner? And if he knew it, shoul who do not consider the circumstances from he not have stated it? He proceeds thus:which they sprung. They were the desperate "On emerging from minority, by the Athenian remedies of a desperate disease. In Grcece law, at five-and-twenty, he earned another op the oligarchal interest was not in general so probious nickname by a prosecution of his deeply rooted as at Rome. The multitude, guardians, which was considered as a distherefore, often redressed, by force, grievances honorable attempt to extort money from them." which, at Rome, were commonly attacked un- In the first place, Demosthenes was not five. der the forms of the constitution. They drove and-twenty years of age. Mr. Mitford might out or massacred the rich, and divided their have learnt from so common a book as the property. If the superior union or military Archæologia of Archbishop Potter, that, at skill of the rich rendered them victorious, they twenty, Athenian citizens were freed from the took measures equally violent, disarmed all control of their guardians, and began to ma in whom they could not confide, often slaugh- nage their own property. The very speech of tered great numbers, and occasionally ex- Demosthenes against his guardians proves pelled the whole commonalty from the city, most satisfactorily that he was under twenty. and remained, with their slaves, the sole in- In his speech against Midias, he says, that habitants. when he undertook that prosecution he was quite a boy. His youth might, therefore, excuse the step, even if it had been considered, as Mr. Mitford says, a dishonourable attempt to extort money. But who considered it as such? Not the judges, who condemned the guardians. The Athenian courts of justice were not the purest in the world; but their decisions were at least as likely to be just as the abuse of a deadly enemy. Mr. Mitford ret s for confirmation of his statement to Eschs and Plutarch. Eschines by no means bears him out, and Plutarch directly contradicts him. "Not long after," says Mr. Mitford, "he took blows publicly in the theatre (I preserve the orthography, if it can be so called, of this his. torian) from a petulant youth of rank named Meidias." Here are two disgraceful mistakes. In the first place, it was long after; eight years at the very least, probably much more. In the next place, the petulant youth, of whom Mr. Mitford speaks, was fifty years old. Really Mr. Mitford has less reason to censure the carelessness of his predecessors than to reform his own. After this monstrous inaccuracy with regard to facts, we may be able to judge what degree of credit ought to be given to the vague abuse of such a writer. "The cowardice of Demosthenes in the field afterwards becaine notorious." Demosthenes was a civil character; war was not his business. In his time the division between military and political offices was beginning to be strongly marked; yet the recollection of the days when every citizen was a soldier was still recent. In such states of society a certain degree of disrepute always attaches to sedentary men; but that any leader of the Athenian democracy could have been, as Mr. Mitford says of Demosthenes, a few lines before, remarkable for
From such calamities Athens and Lacedæmon alone were almost completely free. At Athens, the purses of the rich were laid under regular contribution for the support of the poor; and this, rightly considered, was as much a favour to the givers as to the receivers. since no other measure could possibly have saved their houses from pillage, and their persons from violence. It is singular that Mr. Mitford should perpetually reprobate a policy which was the best that could be pursued in such a state of things, and which alone saved Athens from the frightful outrages which were perpetrated at Corcyra.
Lacedæmon, cursed with a system of slavery more odious than has ever existed in any other country, avoided this evil by aimost totally annihilating private property. Lycurgus began by an Agrarian law. He abolished all professions except that of arms; he made the whole of his community a standing army, every member of which had a common right to the services of a crowd of miserable bondmen; he secured the state from sedition at the expense of the Helots. Of all the parts of his system this is the most creditable to his head, and the most disgraceful to his heart.
These considerations, and many others of equal importance, Mr. Mitford has neglected; but he has a yet heavier charge to answer. He has made not only illogical inferences, but false statements. While he never states, without qualifications and objections, the charges which the earliest and best historians have brought against his favourite tyrants, Pisistratus, Hippias, and Gelon, he transcribes, without any hesitation, the grossest abuse of the least authoritative writers against every democracy and every demagogue. Such an accusation should not be made without being supported; and I will therefore select one out of many passages which will fully substantiate the charge, and convict Mr. Mitford of wilful misrepresentation, or of negligence scarcely less culpable. Mr. Mitford is speaking of one of the greatest men that ever lived, Demos
“an extraordinary deficiency of personal courage" is absolutely impossible. What mercenary warrior of the time exposed his life to greater or more constant perils? Was there a single soldier at Choronea who had more cause to tremble for his safety than the orator, vho, in case of defeat, could scarcely hope for Lercy from the people whom he had misled, of the prince whom he had opposed? Were not the ordinary fluctuations of popular feeling enough to deter any coward from engaging in political conflicts? Isocrates, whom Mr. Mitford extols because he constantly employed all the flowers of his schoolboy rhetoric to decorate oligarchy and tyranny, avoided the judicial and political meetings of Athens from mere timidity, and seems to have hated democracy only because he durst not look a popular assembly in the face. Demosthenes was a man of a feeble constitution; his nerves were weak, but his spirit was high; and the energy and enthusiasm of his feelings supported him through life and in death.
Mr. Mitford is not more consistent with him self than with reason. Though he is the advocate of all oligarchies, he is also a warm admirer of all kings; and of all citizens who raised themselves to that species of sovereignty which the Greeks denominated tyranny. If monarchy, as Mr. Mitford holds, be in itself a blessing, democracy must be a better form of government than aristocracy, which is always opposed to the supremacy, and even to the eminence of individuals. On the other hand, it is but one step that separates the demagogue and the sovereign.
So much for Demosthenes. Now for the orator of aristocracy. I do not wish to abuse Eschines. He may have been an honest man. He was certainly a great man; and I feel a reverence, of which Mr. Mitford seems to have no notion, for great men of every party. But when Mr. Mitford says, that the private character of Eschines was without stain, does he remember what Eschines has himself confessed in his speech against Timarchus? I can make allowances, as well as Mr. Mitford, for persons who lived under a different systein of laws and morals; but let them be made impartially. If Demosthenes is to be attacked, on account of some childish improprieties, proved only by the assertion of an antagonist, what shall we say of those maturer vices which that antagonist has himself acknowledged? "Against the private character of If this article had not extended itself to so Eschines," says Mr. Mitford, "Demosthenes great a length, I should offer a few observaseems not to have had an insinuation to options on some other peculiarities of this writer, pose." Has Mr. Mitford ever read the speech-his general preference of the Barbarians to of Demosthenes on the embassy? Or can he the Greeks,-his predilection for Persians, Carhave forgotten, what was never forgotten by thaginians, Thracians, for all nations, in short, any one else who ever read it, the story which except that great and enlightened nation of Demosthenes relates with such terrible energy which he is the historian. But I will confine of language concerning the drunken brutality myself to a single topic. of his rival? True or false, here is something more than an insinuation; and nothing can vindicate the historian who has verlooked it from the charge of negugence or of partiality. But Eschines denied the story. And did not Demosthenes also deny the story respecting his childish nickname, which Mr. Mitford has nevertheless told without any qualification? But the judges, or some part of them, showed, by their clamour, their disbelief of the relation of Demosthenes. And did not the judges, who tried the cause between Demosthenes and his guardians indicate, in a much clearer manner, their approbation of the prosecution? But Deinosthenes was a demagogue, and is to be slan ered. Eschines was an aristocrat, and is to be panegyrized. Is this a history, or a party-pamphlet?
These passages, all selected from a single page Mr. Mitford's work, may give some
notion to those readers who have not the means of comparing his statements with the original authorities, of his extreme partiality and carelessness. Indeed, whenever this historian mentions Demosthenes, he violates all the laws of candour and even of decency; he weighs no authorities; he makes no allow ances; he forgets the best-authenticated facts in the history of the times, and the most generally recognised principles of human nature. The opposition of the great orator to the policy of Philip, he represents as neither more nor less than deliberate villany. I hold almost the same opinion with Mr. Mitford respecting the character and the views of that great and ac complished_prince. But am I, therefore, to pronounce Demosthenes profligate and insincere? Surely not; do we not perpetually see men of the greatest talents and the purest intentions misled by national or factious prejudices? The most respectable people in England were, little more than forty years ago, in the habit of uttering the bitterest abuse against Washington and Franklin. It is certainly to be regretted that men should err so grossly in their estimate of character. But no person who knows any thing of human nature will impute such errors to depravity.
Mr. Mitford has remarked, with truth and spirit, that "any history perfectly written, but especially a Grecian history perfectly written, should be a political institute for all nations." It has not occurred to him that a Grecian history, perfectly written, should also be a complete record of the rise and progress of poetry, philosophy, and the arts. Here his work is extremely deficient. Indeed, though it may seem a strange thing to say of a gentleman who has published so many quartos, Mr. Mitford seems to entertain a feeling, bordering on contempt, for literary and speculative pursuits. The talents of action almost exclusively attract his notice, and he talks with very complacent disdain of the "idle learned." Homer, indeed, he admires, but principally, I am afraid, because he is convinced that Homer could neither read nor write. He could not avoid speaking of Socrates; but he has been
far more solicitous to trace his death to politi-] and useless minutenes but improvements cal causes, and to deduce from it consequences the most essential to the comforts of human unfavourable to Athens and to popular go-life extend themselves over the world, and in vernment, than to throw light on the character troduce themselves into every cottage. before and doctrines of the wonderful man, any annalist can condescend from the dignity of writing about generals and ambassadors, to take the least notice cf them. Thus the pro gress of the most salutary inventions and dis coveries is buried in impenetrable mystery, mankind are deprived of a most useful species He does not seem to be aware that Demos- of knowledge, and their benefactors of their thenes was a great orator; he represents him honest fame. In the mean time every child sometimes as an aspiring demagogue, some- knows by heart the dates and adventures of a times as an adroit negotiator, and always as a long line of barbarian kings. The history of great rogue. But that in which the Athenian nations, in the sense in which I use the word, excelled all men of all ages, that irresistible is often best studied in works not professedly eloquence, which, at the distance of more than historical. Thucydides, as far as he goes, is two thousand years, stirs our blood and brings an excellent writer, yet he affords us far less tears into our eyes, he passed by with a few knowledge of the most important particulars phrases of commonplace commendation. The relating to Athens, than Plato or Aristophanes. origin of the drama, the doctrines of the so- The little treatise of Xenophon in Domestic phists, the course of Athenian education, the Economy contains more historical information state of the arts and sciences, the whole do- than all the seven books of his Hellanics. mestic system of the Greeks, he has almost The same may be said of the Satires of Hocompletely neglected. Yet these things will race, of the Letters of Cicero, of the novels of appear, to a reflecting man, scarcely less Le Sage, of the memoirs of Marmontel. Many worthy of attention than the taking of Sphac-others might be mentioned, but these suffi teria, or the discipline of the targeteers of ciently illustrate my meaning. Iphicrates.
This, indeed, is a deficiency by no means peculiar to Mr. Mitford. Most people seem to imagine that a detail of public occurencesthe operation of sieges-the changes of administrations—the treaties-the conspiracies--the rebellions-is a complete history. Differences of definition are logically unimportant, but practically they sometimes produce the most momentous effects: thus it has been in the present case; historiaus have, almost without exception, confined themselves to the public transactions of states, and have left to the negligent administration of writers of fiction a province at least equally extensive and valuable.
I would hope that there may yet appear a writer who may despise the present narrow limits, and assert the rights of history over every part of her natural domain. Should such a writer engage in that enterprise, in which I cannot but consider Mr. Mitford as having failed, he will record, indeed, all that is interesting and important in military and political transactions; but he will not think any thing too trivial for the gravity of history, which is not too trivial to promote or diminish the happiness of man. He will portray in vivid colours the domestic society, the manners, the amusements, the conversation of the Greeks. He will not disdain to discuss the state of agriculture, of the mechanical arts, and All wise statesmen have agreed to consider of the conveniences of life. The progress of the prosperity or adversity of nations as made painting, of sculpture, and of architecture, will up of the happiness or misery of individuals, form an important part of his plan. But above and to reject as chimerical all notions of a all, his attention will be given to the history of public interest of the community, distinct from that splendid literature from which has sprung the interest of the component parts. It is there-all the strength, the wisdom, the freedom, and fore strange that those whose office it is to the giery of the western world. supply statesmen with examples and warnings, Of the indifference which Mr. Mitford shows should omit, as too mean for the dignity of his- on this subject, I will not speak, for I cannot tory, circumstances which exert the most ex-speak with fairness. It is a subject in which tensive influence on the state of society. In love to forget the accuracy of a judge, in the general, the under current of human life flows veneration of a worshipper and the gratitude steadily on, unruffled by the storms which agi- of a child. If we consider merely the subtlety tate the surface. The happiness of the many of disquisition, the force of imagination, the commonly depends on causes independent of perfect energy and elegance of expression, victories or defeats, of revolutions or restora- which characterize the great works of Athe tions, causes which can be regulated by no nian genius, we must pronounce them intrin laws, and which are recorded in no archives. sically most valuable; but what shall we say These causes are the things which it is of | when we reflect that from hence have sprung, main importance to us to know, not how the directly or indirectly, all the noblest creations Lacedæmonian phalanx was broken at Leuc of the human intellect; that from hence were tra-not whether Alexander died of poison or the vast accomplishments and the brilliant by disease. History, without these, is a shell fancy of Cicero, the withering fire of Juvenal; without a kernel; and such is almost all the the plastic imagination of Dante; the humour history which is extant in the world. Paltry of Cervantes; the comprehension of Bacon; skirmishes and plots are reported with absurd the wit of Butler; the supreme and universa.
"From whose mouth issued forth