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piety, and I would silence the noisiest tongue in no better : they mar what is solid in earthly bliss Athens with it.
by animosities and dissensions, and intercept the Leontion. Simpleton ! we were speaking alle span of azure at which the weary and the sorrowgorically.
ful would look up. Ternissa. Never say that : I do believe the God Theophrastus is a writer of many acquirements himself hath conversed with Epicurus. Tell me and some shrewdness, usually judicious, often now, Epicurus, tell me yourself, has not he? somewhat witty, always elegant: his thoughts are Epicurus. Yes.
never confused, his sentences are never incomTernissa. In his own form?
prehensible. If Aristoteles thought more highly Epicurus. Very nearly : it was in Ternissa's. of him than his due, surely you ought not to cenTernissa. Impious man! I am ashamed of you. sure Theophrastus with severity on the supposition Leontion. Never did shame burn brighter. of his rating me below mine ; unless you argue Ternissa. Mind Theophrastus, not me. that a slight error in a short sum is less pardon
Leontion. Since, in obedience to your institu- able than in a longer. Had Aristoteles been living, tions, 0 Epicurus, I must not say I am angry, I and had he given the same opinion of me, your am offended at least with Theophrastus, for having friendship and perhaps my self-love might have so misrepresented your opinions, on the necessity been wounded; for, if on one occasion he spoke of keeping the mind composed and tranquil, and too favourably, he never spoke unfavourably but remote from every object and every sentiment by with justice. This is among the indications of which a painful sympathy may be excited. In orderly and elevated minds; and here stands the order to display his elegance of language, he runs barrier that separates them from the common and wherever he can lay a censure on you, whether he the waste. Is a man to be angry because an believes in its equity or not.
infant is fretful ? Is a philosopher to unpack and Epicurus. This is the case with all eloquent throw away his philosophy, because an idiot has men and all disputants. Truth neither warms tried to overturn it on the road, and has pursued nor elevates them, neither obtains for them profit it with jibes and ribaldry ? nor applause.
Leontion. Theophrastus would persuade us that, Ternissa. I have heard wise remarks very often according to your system, we not only should and very warmly praised.
decline the succour of the wretched, but avoid the Epicurus. Not for the truth in them, but for sympathies that poets and historians would awaken the grace, or because they touched the spring of in us. Probably for the sake of introducing some some preconception or some passion. Man is a idle verses, written by a friend of his, he says hater of truth, a lover of fiction.
that, following the guidance of Epicurus, we should Leontion. How then happens it that children, altogether shun the theatre, and not only when when you have related to them any story which Prometheus and Edipus and Philoctites are introhas greatly interested them, ask immediately and duced, but even where generous and kindly sentiimpatiently, is it true ?
ments are predominant, if they partake of that Epicurus. Children are not men nor women : tenderness which belongs to pity. I know not they are almost as different creatures, in many what Thracian lord recovers his daughter from respects, as if they never were to be the one or her ravisher : such are among the words they the other : they are as unlike as buds are unlike exchange. flowers, and almost as blossoms are unlike fruits. Father. Greatly are they better than they are about to be, Insects, that dwell in rotton reeds, inert unless Philosophy raises her hand above them
Upon the surface of a stream or pool,
Then rush into the air on meshy vans, when the noon is coming on, and shelters them
Are not so different in their varying lives at one season from the heats that would scorch
As we are ..0! what father on this earth, and wither, and at another from the storms that Holding his child's cool cheek within his palms would shatter and subvert them. There are And kissing his fair front, would wish him man! nations, it is reported, which aim their arrows
Inheritor of wants and jealousies,
Of labour, of ambition, of distress, and javelins at the sun and moon, on occasions of
And, cruelest of all the passions, lust. eclipse, or any other offence : but I never have
Who that beholds me, persecuted, scorned, heard that the sun and moon abated their course A wanderer, e'er could think what friends were mine, through the heavens for it, or looked more angrily How numerous, how devoted! with what glee when they issued forth again to shed light on
Smiled my old house, with what acclaim my courts their antagonists. They went onward all the
Rang from without whene'er my war-borse neighed while in their own serenity and clearness, through
Thy fortieth birthday is not shouted yet unobstructed paths, without diminution and with- By the young peasantry, with rural gifts out delay: it was only the little world below And nightly fires along the pointed hills, that was in darkness. Philosophy lets her light
Yet do thy temples glitter with grey hair descend and enter wherever there is a passage for
Scattered not thinly: ah! what sudden change! it: she takes advantage of the smallest crevice,
Only thy voice and heart remain the same:
No, that voice trembles, and that heart (I feel) but the rays are rebutted by the smallest obstruc- While it would comfort and console me, breaks tion. Polemics can never be philosophers or philotheists : they serve men ill, and their gods Epicurus. I would never close my bosom against
the feelings of humanity: but I would calmly and man : even if he could have clasped you in his well consider by what conduct of life they may arms, imploring the Deities to resemble you in enter it with the least importunity and violence. gentleness, you would have done it. A consciousness that we have promoted the hap- Ternissa. He looked so abandoned by all, and piness of others, to the uttermost of our power, so heroic, yet so feeble and so helpless; I did not is certain not only to meet them at the threshold, think of turning round to see if anyone was near but to bring them along with us, and to render me; or else perhaps ... them accurate and faithful prompters, when we Epicurus. If you could have thought of looking bend perplexedly over the problem of evil figured round, you would no longer have been Ternissa. by the tragedians. If indeed there were more of The Gods would have transformed you for it into pain than of pleasure in the exhibitions of the some tree. dramatist, no man in his senses would attend Leontion. And Epicurus had been walking them twice. All the imitative arts have delight under it this day, perhaps. for the principal object : the first of these is Epicurus. With Leontion, the partner of his poetry: the highest of poetry is tragic.
sentiments. But the walk would have been earlier Leontion. The epic has been called so. or later than the present hour : since the middle
Epicurus. Improperly; for the epic has much of the day, like the middle of fruits, is good for more in it of what is prosaic. Its magnitude is nothing. no argument. An Egyptian pyramid contains Leontion. For dinner surely. more materials than an lonic temple, but requires Epicurus. Dinner is a less gratification to me less contrivance, and exhibits less beauty of than to many: I dine alone. design. My simile is yet a defective one; for, a Ternissa. Why? tragedy must be carried on with an unbroken Epicurus. To avoid the noise, the heat, and the interest; and, undecorated by loose foliage or fan- intermixture both of odours and of occupations. tastic branches, it must rise, like the palm-tree, I cannot bear the indecency of speaking with a with a lofty unity. On these matters I am unable mouth in which there is food. I careen my body to argue at large, or perhaps correctly: on those (since it is always in want of repair) in as unobhowever which I have studied and treated, my structed a space as I can, and I lie down and sleep terms are so explicit and clear, that Theophrastus awhile when the work is over. can never have misunderstood them.
Leontion. Epicurus ! although it would be very recall to your attention but two axioms. interesting, no doubt, to hear more of what you
Abstinence from low pleasures is the only means do after dinner ... (aside to him) now don't of meriting or of obtaining the higher.
smile: I shall never forgive you if you say a Kindness in us is the honey that blunts the single word ... yet I would rather hear a little sting of unkindness in another.
about the theatre, and whether you think at last Leontion. Explain to me then, 0 Epicurus, why that women should frequent it; for you have often we suffer so much from ingratitude.
said the contrary. Epicurus. We fancy we suffer from ingratitude, Epicurus. I think they should visit it rarely ; while in reality we suffer from self-love. Passion not because it excites their affections, but because weeps while she says, “I did not deserve this from it deadens them. To me nothing is so odious as him :" Reason, while she says it, smoothens her to be at once among the rabble and among the brow at the clear fountain of the heart. Permit heroes, and, while I am receiving into my heart me also, like Theophrastus, to borrow a few words the most exquisite of human sensations, to feel from a poet.
upon my shoulder the hand of some inattentive Ternissa. Borrow as many such as anyone will and insensible young officer. entrust to you ; and may Hermes prosper your Leontion. O very bad indeed ! horrible! commerce! Leontion may go to the theatre then; Ternissa. You quite fire at the idea. for she loves it.
Leontion. Not I: I don't care about it. Epicurus. Girls ! be the bosom friends of Anti- Ternissa. Not about what is very bad indeed? gone and Ismene ; and you shall enter the wood quite horrible ? of the Eumenides without shuddering, and leave Leontion. I seldom go thither. it without the trace of a tear. Never did you Epicurus. The theatre is delightful when we appear so graceful to me, 0 Ternissa ; no, not erect it in our own house or arbour, and when even after this walk do you; as when I saw you there is but one spectator. blow a fly from the forehead of Philoctetes in the Leontion. You must lose the illusion in great propylëa. The wing, with which Sophocles and part, if you only read the tragedy, which I fancy the statuary represent him, to drive away the to be your meaning. summer insects in his agony, had wearied his Epicurus. I lose the less of it. Do not imagine flaccid arm, hanging down beside him.
that the illusion is, or can be, or ought to be, comTernissa. Do you imagine then I thought him plete. If it were possible, no Phalaris or Perillus a living man?
could devise a crueler torture. Here are two Epicurus. The sentiment was both more deli- imitations : first, the poets of the sufferer ; cate and more august from being indistinct. You secondly, the actor's of both: poetry is superwould have done it, even if he had been a living induced. No man in pain ever uttered the better part of the language used by Sophocles. We ordination of thoughts, and that just proportion admit it, and willingly, and are at least as much of numbers in the sentences which follows a illuded by it as by anything else we hear or see strong conception, are the constituents of true upon the stage. Poets and statuaries and painters harmony. You are satisfied with it and dwell give us an adorned imitation of the object, so upon it; which you would vainly hope to do skilfully treated that we receive it for a correct when you are forced to turn back again to seize one. This is the only illusion they aim at: this an idea or to comprehend a period. Let us believe is the perfection of their arts.
that opposition, and even hard words, are (at least Leontion. Do you derive no pleasure from the in the beginning) no certain proofs of hatred ; representation of a consummate actor?
although, by requiring defence, they soon produce Epicurus. High pleasure ; but liable to be heat and animosity in him who hath engaged in overturned in an instant; pleasure at the mercy so unwise a warfare. On the other hand, praises of anyone who sits beside me. Rarely does it are not always the unfailing signs of liberality or happen that an Athenian utters a syllable in the of justice. Many are extolled out of enmity to midst of it: but our city is open to the inhabit- others, and perhaps would have been decried had ants of all the world, and all the world that is those others not existed. Among the causes of yet humanized a woman might walk across in my happiness, this is one: I never have been sixty hours. There are even in Greece a few stimulated to hostility by any in the crowd that remaining still so barbarous, that I have heard has assailed me. If in my youth I had been them whisper in the midst of the finest scenes of hurried into this weakness, I should have reour greatest poets.
gretted it as lost time, lost pleasure, lost humanity. Leontion. Acorn-fed Chaonians !
Leontion. We may expose what is violent or Epicurus. I esteem all the wise; but I enter- false in anyone; and chiefly in anyone who injures tain no wish to imitate all of them in everything. us or our friends. What was convenient and befitting in one or other Epicurus. We may. of them, might be inconvenient and unbefitting Leontion. How then? in me. Great names ought to bear us up and Epicurus. By exhibiting in ourselves the con. carry us through, but never to run away with us. trary. Such vengeance is legitimate and comPeculiarity and solitariness give an idea to weak plete. I found in my early days, among the minds of something grand, authoritative, and god. celebrated philosophers of Greece, a love of domilike. To be wise indeed and happy and self- nation, a propensity to imposture, a jealousy of possessed, we must often be alone : we must mix renown, and a cold indifference to simple truth. as little as we can with what is called society, and None of these qualities lead to happiness ; none abstain rather more than seems desirable even of them stand within the precincts of Virtue. from the better few.
I asked myself, “What is the most natural and Ternissa. You have commanded us at all times the most universal of our desires :" I found it to ask you anything we do not understand : why was, to be happy. Wonderful I thought it, that then use the phrase "what is called society?" as the gratification of a desire which is at once the if there could be a doubt whether we are in society most universal and the most natural, should be when we converse with many.
the seldomest attained. I then conjectured the Epicurus. We may meet and converse with means; and I found that they vary, as vary the thousands: you and Leontion and myself could minds and capacities of men; that, however, the associate with few. Society, in the philosophical principal one lay in the avoidance of those very sense of the word, is almost the contrary of what things which had hitherto been taken up as the it is in the common acceptation.
instruments of enjoyment and content; such as Leontion. Now go on with your discourse. military commands, political offices, clients, ha
Epicurus. When we have once acquired that zardous ventures in commerce, and extensive intelligence of which we have been in pursuit, we property in land. may relax our minds, and lay the produce of our Leontion. And yet offices, both political and chase at the feet of those we love.
military, must be undertaken ; and clients will Leontion. Philosophers seem to imagine that throng about those who exercise them. Comthey can be visible and invisible at will; that they merce too will dilate with Prosperity, and Frucan be admired for the display of their tenets, gality will square her farm by lopping off the and unobserved in the workings of their spleen. angles of the next. None of those whom I remember, or whose writ- Epicurus. True, Leontion ! nor is there a pro ings I have perused, was quite exempt from it. bability that my opinions will pervade the heart Among the least malicious is Theophrastus : could of Avarice or Ambition : they will influence only he find no other for so little malice but you? the unoccupied. Philosophy hath led scarcely :
Epicurus. The origin of his dislike to me, was single man away from commands or magistracies, my opinion that perspicuity is the prime excel- until he has first tried them. Weariness is the lence of composition. He and Aristoteles and repose of the politician, and apathy his wisdom. Plato talk diffusely of attending to harmony, and He fancies that nations are contemplating the clap rhetorical rules before our mouths in order great man in his retirement, while what began in to produce it. Natural sequences and right sub- ignorance of himself is ending in forgetfulness on the part of others. This truth at last appears to find it at all. We may purify the idea in our to him : he detests the ingratitude of mankind : own bath, and adorn it with our own habiliments, he declares his resolution to carry the earth no if we can but find it, though among the slaves or longer on his shoulders: he is taken at his word : clowns : whereas, if it is locked up from us in a and the shock of it breaks his heart.
dark chamber at the top of the house, we have Ternissa. Epicurus, I have been listening to only to walk down-stairs again, disappointed, tired, you with even more pleasure than usual, for you and out of humour. often talk of love, and such other things as you But you were saying that something had can know nothing about: but now you have gone blinded the philosopher. out of your way to defend an enemy, and to lead Leontion. His zeal and partiality. Not only aside Leontion from her severity to Theophrastus. did he prefer Theophrastus to everyone
who Epicurus. Believe me, my lovely friends, he is taught at Athens; not only did he change his no ordinary man who hath said one wise thing original name, for one of so high an import as to gracefully in the whole of his existence: now signify that he would elevate his language to the several such are recorded of him whom Leontion language of the gods; but he fancied and insisted hath singled out from my assailants. His style that the very sound of Theophrastus is sweet*, of is excellent.
Tyrtamus harsh and inelegant. Leontion. The excellence of it hath been exag- Epicurus. Your ear, Leontion, is the better gerated by Aristoteles, to lower our opinion of arbitress of musical sounds, in which (I speak of Plato's.
words) hardly any two agree. But a box on the Epicurus. It may be : I cannot prove it, and ear does not improve the organ ; and I would never heard it.
advise you to leave inviolate and untouched all Leontion. So blinded indeed is this great master those peculiarities which rest on friendship. The of rhetoric .
jealous, if we suffered them in the least to move Epicurus. Pardon the rudeness of my interrup- us, would deserve our commiseration rather than tion, dear Leontion. Do not designate so great a our resentment: but the best thing we can do man by a title so contemptible. You are as nearly with them is to make them the comedians of as humiliating to his genius as those who call him our privacy. Some have recently started up the Stagyrite: and those are ignorant of the wrong among us, who, when they have published to the they do him : many of them are his disciples and world their systems of philosophy, or their axioms, admirers, and call him by that name in quoting or their paradoxes, and find nevertheless that his authority. Philosophy, until he came among others are preferred to them, persuade their us, was like the habitations of the Troglodytes; friends and scholars that enormous and horrible vast indeed and wonderful, but without construc- injustice has been done toward them. By degrees tion, without arrangement: he first gave it order they cool however, and become more reasonable: and system. I do not rank him with Democritus, they resign the honour of invention, which always who has been to philosophers what Homer has may be contested or ascertained, and invest them. been to poets, and who is equally great in imagi. selves with what they style much greater, that of nation and in reflection : but no other has left learning. What constitutes this glory, on which behind him so many just remarks on such a they plume themselves so joyously and gaudily? variety of subjects.
Nothing else than the reading of those volumes Within one olympiad three men have departed which we have taken the trouble to write. A from the world, who carried farther than any other multitude of authors, the greater part of them three that ever dwelt upon it, reason, eloquence, inferior in abilities to you who hear me, are the and martial glory ; Aristoteles, Demosthenes, and slow constructors of reputations which they would Alexander. Now tell me which of these qualities persuade us are the solidest and the highest. do you admire the most?
We teach them all they know: and they are as Leontion. Reason.
proud as if they had taught us. There are not Epicurus. And rightly. Among the three cha- indeed many of these parasitical plants at present, racters, the vulgar and ignorant will prefer Alex. sucking us, and resting their leafy slenderness ander; the less vulgar and ignorant will prefer upon us : but whenever books become more numeDemosthenes ; and they who are removed to the rous, a new species will arise from them, to which greatest distance from ignorance and vulgarity, philosophers and historians and poets must give Aristoteles. Yet, although he has written on way, for, intercepting all above, it will approxisome occasions with as much purity and precision mate much nearer to the manners and intellects as we find in the Orations of Pericles, many of the people. At last what is most Attic in things are expressed obscurely; which is by much Athens will be canvassed and discussed in their the greatest fault in composition.
booths; and he who now exerciseth a sound and Leontion. Surely you do not say that an ob- strong judgment of his own, will indifferently scurity is worse than a defect in grammar. borrow theirs, and become so corrupted with it,
Epicurus. I do say it : for we may discover a truth through such a defect, which we cannot
* Τύρταμος δ' εκαλείτο πρότερον ο Θεόφραστος, μετονόμασε δ' through an obscurity. It is better to find the τροτέρου ονόματος κακοφωνίαν, άμα δε τον της φρασεως αυτού
αυτόν ο Αριστοτέλης Θεόφραστον άμα μεν φεύγων την του object of our researches in ill condition than not sñnos irooniauvéusvos. Strabo xiii.
as ever afterward to be gratified to his heart's the use of metaphors: that man sees badly who content by the impudent laconism of their ora- sees everything double. He wants novelty and cular decisions. These people are the natural vigour in his remarks both on men and things : enemies of greater: they cannot sell their platters neither his subject nor his mind is elevated : here of offal while a richer feast is open to the public, however let me observe, my fair disciples, that and while lamps of profuser light announce the he and some others, of whom we speak in com. invitation. I would not augur the decay of philo- mon conversation with little deference or reserve, sophy and literature : it was retarded by the good may perhaps attract the notice and attention of example of our ancestors. The seven wise men, the remotest nations in the remotest times. Supas they are called, lived amicably, and, where it pose him to have his defects (all that you or was possible, in intercourse. Our seventy wiser anyone ever has supposed in him), yet how much (for we may reckon at least that number of those greater is his intellect than the intellect of any who proclaim themselves so) stand at the distance among those who govern the world! If these of a porcupine's shot, and, like that animal, scatter appeared in the streets of Athens, you would run their shafts in every direction, with more profu- to look at them, and ask your friends whether sion than force, and with more anger than aim. they had seen them pass. If you cannot show as
Hither, to these banks of serpolet; to these much reverence to Theophrastus, the defect is strawberries, whose dying leaves breathe a most yours. He may not be what his friends hare refreshing fragrance; to this ivy, from which fancied him : but how great must he be to have Bacchus may have crowned himself; let us retire obtained the partiality of such friends! How few at the voice of Discord. Whom should we contend are greater ! how many millions less! with? The less? it were inglorious. The greater? Leontion. A slender tree, with scarcely any heart it were vain. Do we look for Truth ? she is not or pith in it, ought at least to have some play of the inhabitant of cities nor delights in clamour : boughs and branches : he, poor man, is inert. she steals upon the calm and meditative as The leaves just twinkle, and nothing more. Diana upon Endymion, indulgent in her chastity, Epicurus. He writes correctly and observantly. encouraging a modest, and requiting a faithful Even bad writers are blamed unjustly when they love.
are blamed much. In comparison with many Leontion. How Ternissa sighs after Truth! good and sensible men, they have evinced no
Epicurus. If Truth appeared in daylight among slight degree of intelligence : yet we go frequently mortals, she would surely resemble Ternissa. to those good and sensible men, and engage them Those white and lucid cheeks, that youth which to join us in our contempt and ridicule, of one appears more youthful (for unless we are near her who not only is wiser than they are, but who has we think her yet a child), and that calm open made an effort to entertain r to instruct us, forehead ...
which they never did. Leontion. Malicious girl! she conceals it ! Ternissa. This is inconsiderate and ungrateful.
Epicurus. Ingenious girl ! the resemblance was, Epicurus. Truly and humanely have you spoken. until now, imperfect. We must remove the veil Is it not remarkable that we are the fondest of ourselves ; for Truth, whatever the poets may tell acknowledging the least favourable and the least us, never comes without one, diaphanous or pleasurable of our partialities? Whether in hatred opaque.
or love, men are disposed to bring their conversa If those who differ on speculative points, would tion very near the object, yet shrink at touching walk together now and then in the country, they the fairer. In hatred their sensibility is less delimight find many objects that must unite them. cate, and the inference comes closer : in love they The same bodily feeling is productive in some readily give an arm to a confidant, almost to the degree of the same mental one. Enjoyment from upper step of their treasury. sun and air, from exercise and odours, brings Leontion. How unworthy of trust do you reprehearts together that schools and council-cham- sent your fellow men ! But you began by cenbers and popular assemblies have stood between suring me. In my Treatise I have only defended
your tenets against Theophrastus. I hope Theophrastus may live, to walk with us Epicurus. I am certain you have done it with among these bushes when they are shadier, and spirit and eloquence, dear Leontion; and there are to perceive that all questions, but those about the but two words in it I would wish you to erase. way to happiness, are illiberal or mechanical or Leontion. Which are they? infantine or idle.
Epicurus. Theophrastus and Epicurus. If you Ternissa. Are geometry and astronomy idle ? love me, you will do nothing that may make you |
Epicurus. Such idleness as theirs a wise man uneasy when you grow older; nothing that may may indulge in, when he has found what he was allow my adversary to say, “Leontion soon forgot seeking: and, as they abstract the mind from her Epicurus.” My maxim is, never to defend my what would prey upon it, there are many to whom systems or paradoxes : if you undertake it, the I would recommend them earlier, as their principal Athenians will insist that I impelled you secretly, and most serious studies.
or that my philosophy and my friendship were We will return to Theophrastus. He has one ineffectual on you. great merit in style; he is select and sparing in Leontion. They shall never say that.