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9. It has been said he had many friends: he had the additional happiness of never losing one, and also that of having such a fund of affection to bestow upon them, that none of his friends ever complained of his own share on seeing that of others. His friendships were as well chosen as they were sincere, and perhaps there never was a more striking example than he afforded of the charm which intelligence adds to virtue.
10. Excellent as he was, he was always endeavoring to become better; and he certainly drew nearer every day to the moral perfection which seemed to him the only aim worthy of a rational being. The great problem of the destiny of man impressed him with daily increasing awe and reverence. More and more piety, more and more gratitude for the Divine blessings, entered every day into his actions and his feelings. He felt a greater respect for human life and for human rights, and even for those of all created beings.
11. He thus reached a higher, purer, and more refined humanity. He regarded rank less, and personal merit more. He became still more patient, more resigned, more industrious, more watchful to lose nothing of the life which he loved so much, and which he had a right to cherish, since he made such a noble use of it. Lastly, to his honor be it said, that, in a selfish age, his only aim was the pursuit of truths useful to his fellow-creatures, and his sole ambition, to augment their welfare and their dignity.
12. To this rare ambition he will owe a fame which will never die; for the names of those who honor and elevate our race are registered by mankind. The story of his life seems to be summed up in a reflection found among his papers: "Life is neither a pleasure nor a pain, but a serious business, which it is our duty to carry through and to terminate with honor."
DESTRUCTION OF THE PHILISTINES.
For GUARD, GUIDE, see § 21; MASSY, § 22; BENEATH, § 19.
See in Index, CATAPHRACTS, COUNSELOR or COUNSELLOR, DAUNT, DISPATCHED or DESPATCHED, RIFT, THEATRE or THEATER, TO, MILTON, PHILISTINE.
Delivery. This piece affords one of the grandest specimens of the purely narrative style in the language. Mr. Thyer remarks of it: "One may without extravagance say, that the poet seems to exert no less force of genius in describing than Samson does strength in executing." § 48. The description of Samson tugging at the pillars till they fell requires such a modulation as one would be likely to give who had really witnessed the tremendous scene.
OCCASIONS drew me early to the city;
The building was a spacious theatre,
The other side was open, where the throng
On banks and scaffolds under sky might stand;
The feast and noon grew high, and sacrifice
Had filled their hearts with mirth, high cheer, and wine,
In their state livery clad; before him pipes,
And timbrels, on each side went arm'ed guards,
Both horse and foot, before him and behind,
At sight of him, the people with a shout
At length, for intermission sake, they led him
With both his arms on those two massy pillars
Hitherto, Lords, what your commands imposed
I mean to show you of my strength, yet greater,
This uttered, straining all his nerves, he bowed.
He tugged, he shook, till down they came, and drew The whole roof after them, with burst of thunder
Upon the heads of all who sat beneath,
Samson, with these immixed, inevitably
CONDEMNATION OF SOCRATES.
For POISON, PRISON (poi'zn, priz'n), see § 10; unaccented a in MISSIONARY, § 29; sm in enthusiasm, § 15. In travel the e is sounded.
See in Index, INQUIRY, SKEPTIC or SCEPTIC, PLATO, SOC'RA-TES.
1. SOCRATES was the reverse of a skeptic. No man ever looked upon life with a more positive and practical eye. No man ever pursued his mark with a clearer perception of the road which he was to travel. No man ever combined, in like manner, the absorbing enthusiasm of a missionary, with the acuteness, the originality, the inventive resources, and the generalizing comprehension, of a philosopher.
2. And yet this man was condemned to death, condemned by a hostile tribunal of more than five hundred citizens of Athens, drawn at hazard from all classes of society. In the most momentous trial that up to that time the world had witnessed, a majority of six turned the scale. And the vague charges on which Socrates was condemned were, that he was a vain babbler, a corrupter of youth, and a setter-forth of strange gods.
3. It would be tempting to enlarge on the closing
scene of his life, a scene which Plato has invested with such immortal glory; -on the affecting farewell to the judges; on the long thirty days which passed in prison before the execution of the verdict; on his playful equanimity amid the uncontrollable emotions of his companions; on the gathering in of that solemn evening, when the fading of the sunset hues on the top of the Athenian hills was the signal that the last hour was at hand; on the introduction of the fatal hemlock.
4. And then there should be represented the immovable countenance of Socrates, the firm hand, the burst of frantic lamentation from all his friends, as, with his habitual ease and cheerfulness, he drained the cup to its dregs; then the solemn silence enjoined by himself; the pacing to and fro; the strong religious persuasions attested by his last words; the cold palsy of the poison creeping from the extremities to the heart; the gradual torpor ending in death. But I must forbear.
5. O for a modern spirit like his! O for one hour of Socrates! O for one hour of that voice whose questioning would make men see what they knew, and what they did not know; what they meant, and what they only thought they meant; what they believed in truth, and what they only believed in name; wherein they agreed, and wherein they differed.
6. That voice is, indeed silent; but there is a voice. in each man's heart and conscience, which, if we will, Socrates has taught us to use rightly. That voice still enjoins us to give to ourselves a reason for the hope that is in us, both hearing and asking questions. It tells us, that the fancied repose which self-inquiry disturbs is more than compen'sated by the real repose which it gives; that a wise questioning is the half of knowledge; and that a life without self-examination is no life at all.