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mence their active career, for the acquisition of practical experience. For fifteen years they are to be employed in subordinate functions and in war, and are to be exposed to those temptations which public life presents, in order to examine whether their previous education has taken firm root within their bosoms. Those who pass through this trial with unblemished reputation, and who distinguish themselves in action as well as in study, are considered as qualified, at fifty years of age, for the task of instructing and governing their fellow-creatures. (p. 281.) The rest of their lives will be employed in improving themselves and their community into a conformity with that idea of good, which their education has taught them to contemplate. They will effect this principally by diffusing philosophy and mental improvement; but when necessary, by assuming each in his turn the burden of political management and regulation.* After taking peculiar care to leave behind them another set of good governors to maintain the constitution, by strictly watching the education of their successors, they will depart for the islands of the blest, and the city will sacrifice to them as gods. This description applies to women as well as to men. (ibid.)
It should be remarked, that Plato supposes his philosophical caste as assuming the government with great reluctance, and requiring compulsion to force them to the task. To strip the magistracy of 'its advantages, and to place it in the hands of unwilling occupiers, is the sole mode, in his opinion, of ensuring good government. For, if the situation is valuable and attractive, the power of the rulers will be continually crossed by the warfare and obstruction of competitors; and thus internal contentions will be unceasing. A philosophical mind alone can despise political consequence; and there can therefore be no reluctant possessor of the seat of government, except a philosopher. (p. 255.)
'Ιδόντας το αγαθόν αυτό, παραδείγματι χρωμένες εκείνω, και πόλιν και ιδιώτας και εαυτούς κατακοσμείν τον επίλοιπον βίον, εν μέρει εκάσες το μεν πολυ, προς φιλοσοφίας διατρίβοντας όταν δε το μέρος ήκη, προς πολιτικόις επιταλαιπωρεντας, και άρχοντας εκάςος της πόλεως ένεκα. p. 281.
+ This doctrine of rendering the exercise of power undesirable, in order to ex• clude competition for possessing it, seems at first sight somewhat preposterous. But it is, in reality, a consistent inference from a principle which Plato throughout supposes, and which other writers suppose also, when it suits their views, though they do not pursue it with the same consistency and sincerity as he does. This is, the unfitness of the people to judge correctly in matters of government. The only mode of excluding competition for power would assuredly be, what Plato here proposes, to strip it of its attractions. If, therefore, competition be a bad thing, this expedient for preventing it is of course advantageous. Now a struggle between any two competitors always occasions an appeal, by the weaker of the two, to the people. And if the people are really unfit for any sound decision in matters of government, all interference on their part, whether constant or occasional, must be pernicions, and therefore every thing which causes a recurrence to it must also be pernicious. Supposing, therefore, that the people are thus incapable of deciding on national measures-supposing their judgments on the subject to be habitually wrong and only occasionally right-it follows most demonstrably that all competition for the possession of power must be pernicious. In other words, absolute power, in the hands of a single man, must on that supposition be the most beneficial to mankind of all conceivable establishments--a conclusion which the profound reasonings of Hobbes have also deduced from the same fundamental principle.
It should be observed, that Plato's exclusion of the people from all share in the business of government, proceeds not so much from any low estimate of their actual capacity, as from his universal doctrine, that no man is to exercise more than one * Εις μέσον ώμολόγησαν γήν μεν και οικίας κατανειμαμένους ιδιώσασθαι» τις δέ πριν φυλαττομένους υπ' αυτών, ως ελευθέρους φίλους τι και τροφέας, δουλωσάμενοι τότε περιοίκους τι και οικέτας έχοντες, αυτοί πολέμου τε και φυλακής αυτών επιμελείσθαι. p. 288.
In the early part of the conversation Plato had caused Socrates to remark, that there were four species of existing governments, all defective. He now makes him, at the request of Glaucon, enumerate and classify them-a timocracy, an oligarchy, and a tyranny, (p. 285.) He illustrates the bad qualities of these governments by predicting the gradual degeneracy of the Platonic constitution, and its transition successively into the four vicious systems. And as he imagines the character of the citizen to be moulded by the constitution under which he lives, he takes the same opportunity of tracing the alterations which the deteriorated government would produce in individual conduct and opinion.
All changes in every constitution emanate from the possessors of power, when internal dissentions take place among them: if they remain in harmony, however small may be their number, the constitution cannot possibly be shaken.* Upon this principle, Plato predicts the decline of his system from the gradual deterioration in the breed of governors. From this failure and degeneracy of natural worth, they will no longer continue to pursue with equal steadiness the plan of education chalked out for them. First, their musical studies--next, their gymnastical exercises, will be neglected. A portion of the governors having thus become corrupted, there will arise among them a diversity of objects and desires. The degenerate half will aspire to the possession of wealth and other individual enjoyments; the remainder, preserving their former character, will still continue to aim exclusively at the punctual execution of their duty. The result will be a compromise between the two. (p. 288.) The ruling class will retain in some measure their previous habits of living in common, of public gymnastic exercises, of abstinence from husbandry or any private traffic. (p. 289.) But they will divide among them, and appropriate, lands and houses; they will enslave, and hold merely as neighbours and domestics, those whom they formerly watched as freemen, as friends, and as purveyors to their wants.t They will be apprehensive of the influence and agency of genuine wisdom, and will bestow all their countenance upon bravery and talents for stratagem; they will be con. tinually in a state of dissention; their desire of wealth will not manifest itself openly, on account of their public and regulated mode of living, but it will be exhibited by many surreptitious and indirect methods; they will treasure up money in secret places, and will lavish it upon their wives and other friends (p. 289.); the laws which restrict their private lives will become odious and insufferable, and will be evaded by every practicable mode.
The military spirit and ardour, stripped of that bridle which education had before imposed upon it, will vent itself in private broils ; and this will foster among them that spirit of rivalry and sense of (indivi
calling. It does not therefore, according to him, beseem men of any other trade to take cognizance of the concerns of the government. Hobbes's extrusion of the people is founded upon radical mistrust of their soundness and capability.
Τότε μεν απλών ότι πάσα πολιτεία μεταβάλλει εξ αυτά τα έχοντος τας αρχάς, όταν δεν αυτώ τέτω στάσις έγγένηται ομονούντος δε, καν πάνυ όλιγον ή, αδύνατον κινηθήναι. p. 986.
dual) dignity* which Plato gives as the characteristic of this first period of corruption.
Conformable to this perversion of the government is that of the individual citizen : the sound instruction of a rational father is crossed and counteracted by the vicious inclinations which his mother, his domestics, and other society, implant in his bosom. From this mixture of counsel a character is formed, obdurate and but slightly tinctured with letters or elegance; a patient listener, but no speaker ; savage to slaves, and gentle towards freemen; obedient to his commanders, and thirsting much for political and military renown; verging, however, towards avarice in his old age. (pp. 290—291.)
Shaks. Procul este profani! Avaunt ye witlings, who with gibes and jeers would turn my honest conceptions into mockery. I address not ye; no, nor the poor human butts on whom ye break your poorer jests,
though by your smiling ye seem to think so.” I had no such stuff in my thoughts as bipeds, not even those who wear the head of Bottom; but as the times are critical, and equivocation might undo us, it may be well also to premise that though my references be altogether quadrupedal, they mount not to those golden Asses (not of Apuleius, I dare aver), which are placed upon royal tables, and whose panniers laden with salt (assuredly not Attic) minister stimulants to the palates of kings and courtiers. No--my paper means what it professes: it is dedicated to donkeys, Jerusalem poneys, &c. but who have no patronymic right to be termed any thing but Asses.
Every association connected with this most interesting animal is classical, venerable, hallowed. At the feast of the goddess Vesta, who was preserved by the braying of an Ass from the attacks of the Lampsacan God, that animal was solemnly crowned ; and in an old Calendar still extant the following note is written against the month of June: “ Festum Vestæ-Asinus coronatur.” As we know that many of our customs are derived from Pagan institutions, is it not probable that the crowning of our Laureates originated in this superstition? The Gnostics worshipped this long-eared deity. In the precincts of the Holy Land, though not invested with idolatrous honours, the Ass was held in high respect and reverence; and I know not any contrast of fate more affecting, any reverse of grandeur, even including that of the Jewish nation itself, more absolute and wretched, than the present doom of this outcast quadruped compared with its former lot in Palestine, where, as the use of horses was probibited, the Ass was the royal beast, whose covering was cloth of gold, whose housings were studded with the carbuncle and the pearl, and whose provender was showered down into royal mangers. Deborah, addressing her song to the rulers of Israel, exclaims" Speak, ye that ride on white Asses, ye that sit in judgment.” Jair of Gilead, we are told, had thirty sons who rode upon as many Asses, and commanded in thirty cities; and the holy writer wishing to exalt the grandeur of Abdon, one of the judges of
Φιλονεικία και φιλοτιμία. .
Israel, proclaims that he had forty sons and thirty grandsons who rode upon seventy Asses. According to a tradition of the Jewish Rabbins, one of the ten privileged creatures formed by God at the end of the sixth day, was the identical beast bestrode by Balaam, the same that Abraham loaded with wood for the sacrifice of Isaac, which Moses long after employed to transport his wife and son across the desert, and which, still existing in the depths of some unknown and impenetrable wilderness, will continue to be miraculously fed and guarded until the advent of their pretended Messiah, when he will mount upon its back and ride forth to conquer all the nations of the earth.
But, leaving these reveries, must we not admit, unless we join Maimonides and Gregory of Nyssa in considering the whole story a vision or allegory, that the animal whereof we write is the same that on the flowery banks of the Euphrates saw the Angel of the Lord standing before it with a drawn sword, turned aside thrice into the path of the vineyard, and when smitten for crushing its master's foot against a wall, was miraculously endued with speech that it might rebuke its infatuated rider ? When the priests and elders looked forth from the towers and temples and walls of Hierosolyma towards the valley beneath, where the multitude were filling the air with Hosannas, and spreading palmbranches before the Saviour of the world, who was destined to overthrow the Sophists of Athens and the Pagan Pontiffs of all-conquering Rome, they beheld him riding upon-an Ass. Reader ! if thou hast been more fortunate than he who now addresses thee, and hast been enabled to pick up a little book of Heinsius entitled, “ Laus Asini," I counsel thee to lay it next thy heart, for it disserts of most longeared matter, and is rich in asinine reminiscences. Doubtless thou hast passed the Pons Asinorum of the mathematicians—thou hast laughed at the punishment inflicted by Apollo upon the Phrygian king--thou hast feasted on the third Dialogue of Lucian, wherein he relates his adventures after being converted into an Ass by a sorceress—and hast been enraptured with Apuleius's most exquisite and imaginative expansion of this fiction; and if thou canst still deny that the Ass who is now passing thy door, instead of being loaded with sand and cabbages, bears a rich freightage of sacred, classical, and scientific associations and conceits, I tell thee thou art duller “ than the fat weed that rots itself at ease on Lethe's wharf,” and meritest thyself that appellation which limits all thy ideas of the passing quadruped.
Poor, shaggy, half-starved, mauled and maltreated beast! when I behold thee
“ Fallen, fallen, fallen, fallen,
Fallen from thy high estate" and, alas, too often“ weltering in thy blood !” and yet bearing thine insults and torments with a resignation, a fortitude, a heroism, that would do honour to a Stoic philosopher, I am not content with the poet's exclamation—“I love the patient meekness of thy face,” but feel tempted to transform the common whereon I encounter thce, into the greensward of the fairies, that I may say with Titania-
Come, lie thee down upon this flowery bed,
While I thy amiable cheeks do coy,
And kiss thy fair large ears, my gentle joy.”
The reader will say that I am full of my subject'; and pleading guilty to the charge, I confess that I know no sound more affecting, more pathetic, than the braying of an Ass, "startling the night's dull ear.” It seems a “sense of intolerable wrong," an outpouring of long accumulated griefs, the delivery of an agonized soul, the hysteric of exhausted patience; and while the sides distend as if the heart were bursting, and the deep closing sigh sends its appealing breath up to Heaven, I have sometimes followed it, and found delight in imagining that there might not only be reason for the poor Indian's hope
“ Who thinks, admitted to yon equal sky,
His faithful dog shall bear him company,” but that these long-eared innocents may be rewarded for their endurance in some garden of paradisaical thistles-some Eden of perpetual pasture, some Elysium of clover.
What a poor compound is humanity, and how ridiculous, as well as ungrateful, is its pride, when we see beauty and nobility converting this despised beast into a species of parent, and receiving its milk into their veins as the sole means of health or existence! I have never beheld this unconscious wet-nurse of the wealthy standing at the doors of our proud mansions, without sending my imagination not only up-stairs where the pale sons and daughters of sickness were reclining upon their luxurious-sofas, but into the sheds and penthouses of Knightsbridge or Petty France, where their four-footed foster-brothers and sisters, compelled, like the hairy Esau, to exchange their birthright for a mess of pottage, were porrecting their long ears at every sound, and endeavouring to snuff the return of their teeming mothers, in the mingled impatience of defrauded appetite and disappointed affection. No substance is so poor in stimulants for present thought, but that it may be rendered pregnant in its past concoction and future decomposition; and as I have sometimes gazed upon this foal-purloined milk, frothing into a tumbler, I have traced it backwards to the earth when it was grass, and to the skies when it was rain; and following it in its forward destiny, I have fancied it converted into the bloom of beauty's cheek, or the sparkle of its eye, or by a still more subtle sublimation refecting and inspiring the brain until it finally evaporate in dazzling coruscations of wit. We are all compounds of the same matter, and should therefore learn to sympathise with all its organizations.
Although my subject, that I might be strictly asinary, has led me to a grave and serious treatment, it is not unfertile in more trivial suggestions. In England, where cruelty to animals of all kinds has attained its maximum, this Paria of the quadrupeds endures so large a share of outrage that I have sometimes imagined there must be a special Tophet reserved for its drivers ; and as I once fell into conversation with an individual of that class, I endeavoured to explain to him the doctrine of the metempsychosis, insisting pn the probability that he would one day be an Ass himself, and receive exactly such usage as he bestowed. Being assured, in answer to his inquiry whether there was any thing “about that there” in the Bible, that there was grave warranty for the belief, he appeared staggered, mused awhile, and then exclaimed, “Vell, Sir, there's von thing, if it's ever so true-I never hits mine over the head ;”—a circumstance which so reconciled him to the doctrine