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orators than many other savages; almost all of the savages who have melted away before the Englishman were better speakers than he is : but the oratory of the savages has led to nothing, and was likely to lead to nothing. It is a discussion not of principles but of undertakings: its topics are whether expedition A will answer and should be undertaken, whether expedition B will not answer and should not be undertaken, whether village A is the best village to plunder or whether village B is a better. Such discussions augment the vigor of language, encourage a debating facility, and develop those gifts of demeanor and of gesture which excite the confidence of the hearers; but they do not excite the speculative intellect, do not lead men to argue speculative doctrines or to question ancient principles. They in some material respects improve the sheep within the fold, but they do not help them or incline them to leap out of the fold.
The next question therefore is, Why did discussions in some cases relate to prolific ideas, and why did discussions in other cases relate only to isolated transactions ? The reply which history suggests is very clear and very remarkable. Some races of men at our earliest knowledge of them have already acquired the basis of a free constitution; they have already the rudiments of a complex polity,-a monarch, a senate, and a general meeting of citizens. The Greeks were one of those races: and it happened, as was natural, that there was in process of time a struggle - the earliest that we know of - between the aristocratical party, originally represented by the senate, and the popular party, represented by the “general meeting.” This is plainly a question of principle; and its being so has led to its history being written more than two thousand years afterwards in a very remarkable manner. Some seventy years ago an English country gentleman named Mitford, who like so many of his age had been terrified into aristocratic opinions by the first French Revolution, suddenly found that the history of the Peloponnesian War was the reflex of his own time; he took up his Thucydides, and there he saw as in a mirror the progress and the struggles of his age. It required some freshness of mind to see this; at least it had been hidden for many centuries. All the modern histories of Greece before Mitford had but the vaguest idea of it; and not being a man of supreme originality, he would doubtless have had very little idea of it either, except that the analogy of what he saw helped him by a telling object-lesson to the understanding of what he read. Just as in every country of Europe in 1793 there were two factions, one of the old-world aristocracy and the other of the incoming democracy, just so there was in every city of ancient Greece in the year 400 B. C. one party of the many and another of the few. This Mr. Mitford perceived ; and being a strong aristocrat, he wrote a “history” which is little except a party pamphlet, and which, it must be said, is even now readable on that very account: the vigor of passion with which it was written puts life into the words and retains the attention of the reader. And that is not all: Mr. Grote, the great scholar whom we have had lately to mourn, also recognizing the identity between the struggles of Athens and Sparta and the struggles of our modern world, and taking violently the contrary side to that of Mitford, being as great a democrat as Mitford was an aristocrat, wrote a reply, far above Mitford's history in power and learning, but being in its main characteristic almost identical, – being above all things a book of vigorous political passion, written for persons who care for politics, and not, as almost all histories of antiquity are and must be, the book of a man who cares for scholarship more than for anything else, written mainly if not exclusively for scholars. And the effect of fundamental political discussion was the same in ancient as in modern times: the whole customary ways of thought were at once shaken by it, and shaken not only in the closets of philosophers but in the common thought and daily business of ordinary men. The “liberation of humanity,” as Goethe used to call it, - the deliverance of men from the yoke of inherited usage and of rigid unquestionable law,- was begun in Greece, and had many of its greatest effects, good and evil, on Greece. It is just because of the analogy between the controversies of that time and those of our times that someone has said, “Classical history is a part of modern history: it is mediæval history only which is ancient."
If there had been no discussion of principle in Greece, probably she would still have produced works of art. Homer contains no such discussion: the speeches in the “Iliad,” which Mr. Gladstone, the most competent of living judges, maintains to be the finest ever composed by man, are not discussions of principle; there is no more tendency in them to critical disquisition than there is to political economy. In Herodotus you have the beginning of the age of discussion. He belongs in his essence to the age which is going out; he refers with reverence to established ordinance and fixed religion: still, in his travels through Greece he must have heard endless political arguments, and accordingly you can find in his book many incipient traces of abstract political disquisition. The discourses on democracy, aristocracy, and monarchy, which he puts into the mouth of the Persian conspirators when the monarchy was vacant, have justly been called absurd as speeches supposed to have been spoken by those persons: no Asiatic ever thought of such things, — you might as well imagine Saul or David speaking them as those to whom Herodotus attributes them; they are Greek speeches, full of free Greek discussion, and suggested by the experience - already considerable — of the Greeks in the results of discussion. The age of debate is beginning, and even Herodotus, the least of a wrangler of any man and the most of a sweet and simple narrator, felt the effect. When we come to Thucydides, the results of discussion are as full as they have ever been: his light is pure “dry light,” free from the "humors” of habit and purged from consecrated usage. As Grote's history often reads like a report to Parliament, so half Thucydides reads like a speech or materials for a speech in the Athenian Assembly. Of later times it is unnecessary to speak. Every page of Aristotle and Plato bears ample and indelible trace of the age of discussion in which they lived; and thought cannot possibly be freer. The deliverance of the speculative intellect from traditional and customary authority was altogether complete.
No doubt the “detachment” from prejudice and the subjection to reason which I ascribe to ancient Athens only went down a very little way among the population of it. Two great classes of the people, the slaves and women, were almost excluded from such qualities; even the free population doubtless contained a far greater proportion of very ignorant and very superstitious persons than we are in the habit of imagining. We fix our attention on the best specimens of Athenian culture, on the books which have descended to us, and we forget that the corporate action of the Athenian people at various critical junctures exhibited the most gross superstition. Still, as far as the intellectual and cultivated part of society is concerned, the triumph of reason was complete: the minds of the highest philosophers were then as ready to obey evidence and reason as they have ever been since, - probably they were more ready. The rule of custom over them at least had been wholly broken, and the primary conditions of intellectual progress were in that respect satisfied.
It may be said that I am giving too much weight to the classical idea of human development; that history contains the record of another progress, as well, that in a certain sense there was progress in Judæa as well as in Athens. And unquestionably there was progress, but it was only progress upon a single subject: if we except religion and omit also all that the Jews had learned from foreigners, it may be doubted if there be much else new between the time of Samuel and that of Malachi; in religion there was progress, but without it there was not any. This was due to the cause of that progress: all over antiquity, all over the East and over other parts of the world which preserve more or less nearly their ancient condition, there are two classes of religious teachers, - one the priests, the inheritors of past accredited inspiration, the other the prophet, the possessor of a like present inspiration. Curtius describes the distinction well in relation to the condition of Greece with which history first presents us:
“The mantic art is an institution totally different from the priesthood. It is based on the belief that the gods are in constant proximity to men, and in their government of the world, which comprehends everything both great and small, will not disdain to manifest their will; nay, it seems necessary that whenever any hitch has arisen in the moral system of the human world, this should also manifest itself by some sign in the world of nature, if only mortals are able to understand and avail themselves of these divine hints.
“For this a special capacity is requisite; not a capacity which can be learnt like a human art or science, but rather a peculiar state of grace in the case of single individuals and single families, whose ears and eyes are opened to the divine revelations, and who participate more largely than the rest of mankind in the divine spirit. Accordingly it is their office and calling to assert themselves as organs of the divine will; they are justified in opposing their authority to every power of the world. On this head conflicts were unavoidable; and the reminiscences living in the Greek people of the agency of a Tiresias and Calchas prove how the Heroic kings experienced not only support and aid, but also opposition and violent protests, from the mouths of the men of prophecy."*
In Judæa there was exactly the same opposition as elsewhere: all that is new comes from the prophets,
**History of Greece," Book ii., Chap. iv.