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changeable scenes of life and nature, and is wrapt up in the harmony and grandeur of the universe-in communing with the First Good and the First Fair—the infinite and unutterable beauty,* fountain of all light to the soul-"the bright countenance of truth” revealed to the purified mind " in the quiet and still air of delightful studies.” By such contemplation the soul shall attain to the perfection of virtue-όμονοητικής και ήρμοσμένης της ψυχής αληθής dporn—and be prepared for the great moral change, the glorious transfiguration that is to crown its aspiring progress to beatitude and immortality ; while, in the meantime, spirits of a bigher order wait upon her as upon chastity in Comus
A thousand liveried angels lackey her
Such, we think, is a just idea of Plato's republic, and we flatter ourselves that we have made out the proposition with which we began our analysis of it. The author himself, it ought to be added, or rather Socrates in the fifth book,t disavows all idea of its feasibility, unless the day should ever come when government should be committed to adepts in that true philosophy just described ; that is to say, a period very like the MilJennium of the Christian system. His treatise "De Legibus," is a far more practical work, and deserves on every account, the profound attention of the philosopher and the scholar.
Cicero had reason, therefore, to deviate from Plato's model, even supposing him capable of producing any thing in the same kind, which we more than doubt. His genius, indeed, had “a true consent" with that of the Athenian philosopher, and owed it much of its beauty and elevation. In the course of this very work, too, there are, as we have said before, many imitations of Plato, and several passages upon subjects treated by him, replete with the moral grandeur, the magnificent musings, the ravishing and sublime poetry, in short, of that “Homer of phiJosophers.”I But Roman genius, was at best, a very different thing from Greek-and Plato's was a phenomenon even at
* duhxavov xáanos. At this passage Glauco interrupts the rapture of Socrates, and calls it δαιμονία υπερβολη. . + p. 472. 6.
# Tusc. Qu. I, c. 32, a saying of Panætius.
Athens-and the Republic is, perhaps, that work of his in which his peculiarities appear most strikingly, because somewhat unexpectedly displayed. If the whole work of Cicero were before us now, we have no doubt, that notwithstanding the points of resemblance, or rather of imitation, just alluded to, it would furnish a most notable exemplification of that difference. Certainly what remains, goes far to do so.
The object of the author in this dialogue, was to shew that the Roman constitution, according to its true theory, and as it had existed in the practice of an uncorrupted age, was the most perfect system of government which the wit of man had ever devised-or more properly speaking, to prove that the wit of man had never devised, and could not devise any thing so perfect. Hence he quotes, with great approbation, a saying of the elder Cato, that the true cause of this superiority was, thatwhereas other states had owed their institutions to the wisdom of some single legislator, to a Lycurgus, a Solon, a Minos theirs had been the work of time and of circumstances; and thus growing up out of the exigencies of particular occasions, had been adapted with the utmost precision to the character and condition of the people-in short, that instead of being the hasty and half-formed product of speculative genius, it was the fruit of practical and experimental wisdom, brought forth in full maturity at proper seasons. This idea which Polybius repeats without acknowledging whence he had borrowed it*mis the basis of the whole treatise De Republica. The first book is little more than a prologue, embracing such topics as the comparative happiness of an active and contemplative life, the general state of affairs at Rome, &c. But in the second, Scipio enters fully into his subject, and beginning with the foundation of the city, delivers an elaborate panegyric upon the wisdom of the Roman people, as displayed in their policy and laws. In the third, as we have always known through St. Augustin, and as we now perceive from the fragment in hand, the question, how far it were profitable to individuals and to states to prefer justice to utility, was discussed, Philus undertaking to repeat the sophisms of Carneades in favour of successful villainy, with the old story of the ring of Gyges and Pacuvius' chariot drawn by winged serpents (c. 9.) In this discussion, which was no doubt a close imitation of that carried on in the first and second books of Plato's Republic, between Lysimachus and Glauco on the one side, and Socrates on the other, Lælius is the champion of orthodoxy. His panegyric upon justice is rapturously praised by
* Hist. Rom. 1. vi.
Scipio, and we have no doubt, but that the loss of it, has deprived us of one of the most beautiful effusions that ever delighted a sound taste in morals and literature. The subject of the fourth book of which but a single leaf remains is supposed to have been Education. Nothing else is ascertained of the work, except the dream of Scipio in the sixth book.
From this outline of the fragment De Republica, we have reason to think that it bore a greater resemblance to the Discourses of Macchiavelli, than to the Dialogue of Plato which we have just examined ; or rather it would seem to have been a sort of medium between those celebrated productions. If it was more sober and practical than the Greek philosopher's, it was far less so than that of the Florentine Secretary. The Somnium Scipionis, for instance, would have been quite out of place in the Discourses. Macchiavelli had no sentiment and very little imagination. His unrivalled excellence (for unrivalled he is) consists in a cold, calculating, “long-sighted and strong-nerved” reason-seasoned, as is proved by Belfagor and Mandragola, with a good deal of vivacity and wit. * But there was no more faith in him than in a stewed prune.” He was a heartless Italian diplomatist, who had learned to be a speculative republican—where Milton, and Sidney, and Harrington afterwards imbibed their more sincere love of liberty--in the schools of antiquity, and whose head was full of the notion, so rife at that time in Italy, of the superiority of the Antique over the Gothic model, and of the Pseudo-riescendants of the Romans over the whole race of Ultramontane barbarians. The merit of his Discourses we admit to be of the very highest order. They are the best work of the kind extant--less metaphysical than Aristotle's Politics--more philosophical and comprehensive than our own Federalist--and not to be degraded by a comparison with the random epigrams of Montesquieu. It would have been
a curious thing to have collated Cicero's exposition of the Ro| man government and policy, with a work upon the same sub
ject, written at the end of fifteen centuries, without any of those advantages which his æra and situation gave the Roman consul and philosopher. From the remark of Tubero, however, in the dialogue De Republica,* that Scipio had so far, rather delivered a panegyric on the Roman constitution, than a political discourse of general application and practical tendency, we doubt very much whether the latter had made, by any means, so full an analysis of the subject as the commentator upon the first Decade of Livy.
* Lib. i. c. 36.
The excellence of the Roman polity, according to Cicero, consisted first, in its being of a mixed form-and, secondly, of a very aristocratic spirit and character. These may be regarded as the two grand postulates of the political science of antiquity. The Greek and Roman authors are all agreed without, (we believe) a single exception, upon the first point. All the simple forins they consider as radically vicious and unstable; and Plato, and after him, other writers have traced the transınigration of governments from one of these forms into another with much ingenuity, according to laws which they consider as quite ascertained and invariable. For example, an unchecked democracy they regarded as the infallible source of usurpation and tyranny. It deserves to be remarked, too, that they express themselves on the subject of popular government in this unmitigated form, in a tone of aversion and disgust, approaching even to horror. They represent it as the very worst sort of tyranny, and hesitate pot to prefer to it a kingly government, which, indeed, they universally pronounce the best of the simple forms. Plato, we have seen, speaks of the people in one of those fierce and lawless democracies as a great wild beast, untamed, intractable-"the armed rhinoceros, or the Hyrcan tiger.” Cicero uses this same image in the work before us. Polybius characterises democracy as θηριώδης και χειροκρατικός.* Aristotle represents the people, under such a government, or rather no government, as the most despotic and capricious of masters, differing from single tyrants—from the Perianders and Dionysius'-in no respect except by exceeding them in recklessness and cruelty. King Demus, he aflirms, keeps as slavish if not as polite a court as other monarchs; has just as good an appetite for flattery, except that there is much more of the glutton in him than the gourmand, and that a "fishy fume” is as savoury to his nostrils as the breath of frankincense and myrrh-and is surrounded, in his demagogues, by the coarsest, basest, most servile and unprincipled sycophants—the dirtiest toad-eaters, in short, that ever disgraced the erect form of man, or profaned the awful name of liberty. Some of these courtiers of the mob aimed at, and attained to, supreme power, as Pisistratus at Athens, who was as much the darling of the rabble there as bis antetype, in times more recent, citizen Robespierre was at Paris but the great majority of them were satisfied, of course, with much lower wages for their prostituted and infamous subserviency Demagogues, happily for us, can never, in the nature of things, have such influence under our government, as in the
* Lib. vi. c. 8.
+ Pol. lib. iv. c. 4.
wild and turbulent democracies of antiquity. But we cannot fail to recognize in Aristotle's Parasites, the true idea and type of those "firm and undeviating republicans, par excellence," those exclusive “friends of the people,” who deafen us with their self-proclaimed virtues and obstreperous bumility whenever there is a scramble for place in the commonwealth-whose only conception of popular government seems to be as of a great state lottery for the distribution of office to indigent patriotswho, considering every means as justifiable in the pursuit of so exalted an object, make it their business to inflame every temporary excitement, to comply with every vulgar prejudice, to suppress all truth, to propagate all falsehood--who adhere to no party that is not triumphant, cringe to every majority that is fully ascertained, and sacrifice, without scruple, to promote the ends of some worthless popular leader, the eternal principles of justice, law and liberty. It is strange that such inen do not feel themselves to be the vilest of slaves—that they should even presume to talk of the sycophants of Czars and Sultans, and thank God that they are not like those publicans. It is still more strange that they who thus worship in our temples, with false fire, and do all that in them lies, to profane and corrupt the institutions of the land, should not be held in the execration and contempt they deserve. We agree, heartily, in the views of this subject lately presented to the public, in a contemporary journal, by the most eloquent writer of his country, perhaps of his day.* True liberty, like true eloquence, is founded on the most elevated moral sentiments, and is incompatible with
any other. C'est le culte des ames fières, as Madame Roland pobly expresses it. But it requires something more even than this sublime spirit, rare as that is. Liberty is law-liberty is truth-liberty is reason, and “always with right reason dwells, and from her, hath no dividual being.' The greatest men, in such a country as this, ought to be considered, (what they really are) as completely insignificant in comparison of the smallest principle. It is of the very essence of republican government, that the laws, which all are free to choose, should be implicitly obeyed by all. And as law has been defined to be “ without passion," so those who administer and execute it, should partake of the same unblemished nature. It is in this respect that Washington stands without a similar or a second. He was living law-the very personification of the purest, the sternest, the most dispassionate, the most sublime republicanism. In
* Dr. Channing. Honour and glory to the man who exerts such talents for such ends.