Page images

braced all parts of philosophy, and showed their formal division into logic, metaphysics and ethics, without separating them distinctly; in his synthesis, theory and practice are amalgamated. The subjects of his researches are seldom exhausted and at an end; many a matter he only touches or hints at; the peculiar desire of every individual for higher truth, he endeavours to excite and animate; he appeals to the mental faculties, and enriches the Hellenic philosophy by pointing out its noblest and best parts. The expression of Plato has a complete beauty, peculiar to the whole of his accomplishments, and at the same time shows the extent of every one in particular; his style has, therefore, sometimes poctical abundance and warmth, and sometimes dialectic keenness and sang froid, at other times exhibits simple and childish plainness, and again is involved in mysterious obscurity. His dramatic representations are masterly. Of the dialogues which have been preserved under his name, and which Thrasyllus has divided into nine tetralogies, only thirty-five have been considered as true; the identity of many other of his works, is greatly doubted.

The followers of Plato were, through many centuries, very numerous, and formed many different schools, especially upon the subject of the certainty of human comprehension. The older academy, in which Speusippus, the son of Plato's sister, inculcated a closer junction of Platonism with Pythagorism, and over which Xenocrates of Chalcedon, the Athenians Polemon and Crates, and Crantor of Soli presided, remained faithful to the general principles and views of their master, and was an institution respected for its thinking heads and good citizens. The middle and modern academies, in which Arcesilaus of Pitane, (300) Lacidas, (250) and Carneades (155) distinguished themselves, as well as the fourth, founded by Philo of Larissa, (86) and the fifth, by his contemporary,, Antiochus of Ascalon, approached more nearly to the Sceptics. The new Platonics (since 222 A. D.) believed in the marvellous revelation of the internal light. What effects the renovation of the Platonic philosophy, in combination with the extending study of the old classical literature, have produced, the history of the fifteenth century will teach; and the remarkable philosophical appearances, in our days, prove what treasures of wisdom are contained in the writings of Plato, in their ancient commentaries and applications.

The mathematical sciences were introduced, cultivated and extended by Ionic philosophers, and still more by the Pytha

Jos. Sacher on Pl. writings.

goreans. Many axioms, demonstrations and methods were foreign, and were transplanted to Greece, from Egypt especially; but the scientific form of mathematics, and every thing that has reference to their first principles, is Greek. In arithmetic, Pythagoras acquired considerable merit, and after him, Archytas and Philolaus. Geometry was enriched, by Pythagoras, with the known theorem styled after him; it was cultivated, not without success, by many others, and particularly by Anaxagoras. The most remarkable advancement which geometry received, was from Plato, who far surpassed his teacher. Theodorus of Cyrene, founded the transcendent geometry, the geometrical analysis, and earnestly recommended the study of stereometry. Next to him, Archytas and Eudoxus were the most renowned geometricians. Mechanics, which until then were cultivated only practically, first obtained a scientific form from Archytas of Tarentum, (400.)† Military science, to which mechanics were soon applied, was cultivated by Xenophon and the Arcadian general, Æneas, (378) of whom we possess a treatise on the defence of forts, and fragments on tactics.‡

Astronomy consisted, for a long time, in traditional observations and cosmological presumptions. The Ionic philsophers, Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximenes, knew the causes of the equinoxes, calculated the solar year or ecliptic, and fixed the constellations. Pythagoras and his scholars discovered the spherical extent of the surface of the globe. Cleostratus of Tenedos, (550) proposed an unsatisfactory period of eight years in order to reconcile the motions of the sun and moon, which proposition was improved by Euctemon's and Meton's cycle of nineteen years, or the golden number, (16 Jul. 433) and perfected by Callippo's combination of four Metonic cycles. Much was done for astronomy by Plato, Anaxagoras, and their scholars; the simple Eudoxus established observatories at Cnidus and near Heliopolis. Pytheas of Massillia, (332) applied many astronomical theorems to geography, and is often quoted. Of Autolycus, (322) have been preserved two books on the sphere, and the rise and set of the fixed stars.

Natural philosophy was, before Socrates, the most important object with which philosophy was occupied; yet it remained very limited, dependent on traditional views and frequently on very strange suppositions and presumptions. The penetration

* De Lambre on the Arithmetic of the Greeks.
Fabr. vol. i. 831.
Ibid. vol. iv. 334.

§ Ibid. 10.

of the Eleatics was lost in the vast fields of the boldest speculations, and only Leucippus and his adherents betook themselves to the safe road of experience, which was, in the next period, pursued more extensively, and with less polemic partiality.*

Medicine, which was for a long time exclusively practised by the clergy, especially by the disciples of Asclepiades in Thessaly, gradually lost its close connexion with religious superstition, when the lonic philosophers, in the course of their researches, examined the nature of the subject. Pythagoras connected it with diplomacy and legislation, and took particular notice of Diatetics. Alemæon and Empedocles made examinations into the theory of productiveness and particular parts of physiology, which was also done by some philosophers of the modern eleatic school, and by Anaxagoras. Perceiving that the fictitious value which the medical knowledge of the priests had gained, from its exclusiveness, was rapidly declining, the Asclepiades reduced their experience to principles, and founded the empiric school at Cnidus, and the philosophical at Cos. From the school at Cos issued the father of scientific medicine, Hippocrates, (b. 460, d. 372) an Asclepiad, and the most renowned among men of the same name. He acquired much knowledge in his distant travels, and by his study of philosophy, for which he was chiefly indebted to Democritus of Abdera. He lived in different Greek countries, and is supposed to have died at Larissa, in Thessaly. Long, true and ingenious observations of nature procured him a rich treasure of experience, out of which he composed with a true, philosophical spirit, very sure and general principles, as may be seen in his book-altered by a younger hand-on human nature, and by which he founded an empiric, philosophical synthesis of medicine. His physiological views were less limited than his anatomic; pathology, he enriched with the most important observations; to diatetics he gave a scientific form, arranged therapeutics, and has much merit in chirurgy.

His seventy-two works, composed in the Ionic dialect, intermixed with Atticisms, have come to us in a very altered shape; the least suspected are distinguished by brevity of expression, often bordering on obscurity, simplicity of representation, and richness of thought. In the time of the Ptolemies, many writings were falsely ascribed to him, so that it was found necessary to undertake a critical separation of the works of

Comp. Scipio Aquilianus de placitis Philosophorum, &c.

Hippocrates; under Hadrian, Artemidorus, Capito and Dioscorides effected a recension upon free and bold principles: Galen is the best authority for the authenticity, if not of the works, at least of their spirit and scientific sense. From the combination of the dialectic speculation with the Hippocratic system which soon took place, arose a dogmatic school, among the adherents of which, Diocles of Carystus, (365) for his diatetics and doctrine of medical remedies, and Praxagoras of Cos, (347) founder of the humoral pathology, and a good surgeon and anatomist, deserve attention.

ART. III.-Memoires et Souvenirs, d'un Pair de France, ex Membre du Senat conservateur. Paris. 1829.

It is a pleasant thing to run over the memoirs of an interesting writer, who has lived through a busy period in the history of any country. It recals to mind familiar events, but they are presented in a new light. The intermixture of the private affairs of the writer, his feelings, his hopes and his disappointments, with the course of public transactions, sheds an enlivening gaiety over the narrative. The utile dulci is more charming here than in the historical novel, though it partakes of the same character, with this difference, that we here expect all truth. We are not sure, however, that we have fallen on it in this instance, for we have little more than the bare assertion of an anonymous writer. He is, it is true, the eulogist of our friend La Fayette, of Larochefoucault, Liancourt, l'Abbè Gregoire, and many other virtuous and highly distinguished men; from which, we infer he is a lover of virtue; and then he carries with him much internal evidence of the general truth of his assertions. The pleasing characteristic of the work is the tone of impartiality which pervades it. There is no concealment of the faults of the royalists, or the crimes of the revolutionists, and where praise is due, on either side, it is liberally paid. The style is light, easy, and generally unaffected; the stories are

told with wit, and when it was required, with pathos. It abounds in amusing anecdotes of the persons and events of which it treats. Some of these are quite too gay for our dull circles, but they are, no doubt, applauded in the salons of Paris. The writer admits he was tempted to wipe them from his narrative, as they seemed to furnish too strong a contrast to the other parts of his task; but on reflection, he became satisfied they were indispensable to a faithful picture of the manners of the times to which they belong. We are rather afraid he listened to the suggestions of that depraved taste which is too often found to sully the bright pages of French literature,

We cannot, however, but regret that he has not boldly named himself. His concealment detracts from our gratification. It is not enough that we have the detail of probable events and their secret causes, we require the production of the witness himself, that we may have his testimony corroborated by his character. He tells us he has seen and heard much for the last half century from an eminent position, which by good fortune he attained. That he was a witness of almost all the events of the Revolution, and took part in a sufficiently great number of those that led to the remarkable changes in the government of France. If his statements are to be relied on, he was certainly in the way of attaining all the information he could desire, for there is scarcely a remarkable person, during that period, with whom he was not personally acquainted. He may be a Peer of France, or he may have assumed that character; be this as it may, he is opposed to tyranny and corruption, and friendly to constitutional freedom-he never shrinks from giving vice its proper appellation, and virtue her merited eulogy. Of himself, he says "I have approached some of the most celebrated per'sonages of our age; I have not only known them in society, amidst the affairs of the court, but more fortunate still, I have obtained the friendship of many of them, and they have confided to me the most secret transactions. The disclosures which I shall make, the interesting and rare documents I shall produce in support of these confidential disclosures, will leave no doubt of their authenticity. As long as such of my friends lived, whose tranquillity these memoirs may have compromised, I have preserved silence; it was a respect which my delicacy owed them they are dead, and posterity begins to exercise on them the severity of its judgment. I now step forward, and I think opportunely, to furnish some documents for the political trial. I will exhibit them as they have appeared to me, which is not as they have always been represented."

« PreviousContinue »