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      [Pg 92]

      Plotinus follows up his essay on the Virtues by an essay on Dialectic.498 As a method for attaining perfection, he places dialectic above ethics; and, granting that the apprehension of abstract ideas ranks higher than the performance of social duties, he is quite consistent in so doing. Not much, however, can be made of his few remarks on the subject. They seem to be partly meant for a protest against the Stoic idea that logic is an instrument for acquiring truth rather than truth itself, and also against the Stoic use or abuse of the syllogistic method. In modern phraseology, Plotinus seems to view dialectic as the immanent and eternal process of life itself, rather than as a collection of rules for drawing correct inferences from true propositions, or from propositions assumed to be true. We have seen how he regarded existence in the334 highest sense as identical with the self-thinking of the absolute Nous, and how he attempted to evolve the whole series of archetypal Ideas contained therein from the simple fact of self-consciousness. Thus he would naturally identify dialectic with the subjective reproduction of this objective evolution; and here he would always have before his eyes the splendid programme sketched in Platos Republic.499 His preference of intuitive to discursive reasoning has been quoted by Ritter as a symptom of mysticism. But here, as in so many instances, he follows Aristotle, who also held that simple abstraction is a higher operation, and represents a higher order of real existence than complex ratiocination.500

      It might have been supposed that Europe, or at least the southern portion of it, was likely to enjoy a considerable term of peace. France, under a minor and a Regent, appeared to require rest to recruit its population and finances more than any part of the Continent. The King of Spain was too imbecile to have any martial ambition; and though his wife was anxious to secure the succession to the French throne in case of the death of the infant Louis XV., yet Alberoni, the Prime Minister, was desirous to remain at peace. This able Churchman, who had risen from the lowest position, being the son of a working gardener, and had made his way to his present eminence partly by his abilities and partly by his readiness to forget the gravity of the clerical character for the pleasure of his patrons, was now zealously exerting himself to restore the condition of Spain. He was thus brought into collision with Austria and France, and eventually with this country to which at first he was well disposed. England was under engagement both to France and the Empire, which must, on the first rupture with either of those Powers and Spain, precipitate her into war. The treaty with the Emperoras it guaranteed the retention of the Italian provinces, which Spain beheld with unappeasable jealousy, in Austrian handswas the first thing to change the policy of Alberoni towards Britain. This change was still further accelerated by the news of the Triple Alliance, which equally guaranteed the status quo of France. The Spanish Minister displayed his anger by suspending the Treaty of Commerce, and by conniving at the petty vexations practised by the Spaniards on the English merchants in Spain, and by decidedly rejecting a proposal of the King of England to bring about an accommodation between the Emperor and the Court of Spain.

      Youre the man who was in the amphibian when Mr. Everdail flew it! he said. How did you get here, with your injured shoulder?

      Lets make whoever knows anythingerlets make them work it out for us, suggested Dick. Lets bait a trap with the life preserverleave it where it is, get Mr. Everdail to call everybody together, and well tell what we found and what we think is in itand see what we see."Because I prefer to ask you, that's whyand to make you answer, too."


      A woman in dark clothes had rushed behind the after cabin.Tillotson and South were the great authors of sermons of this period. Tillotson was one of the most popular preachers of the time, but may be said to have done more good by his liberal and amiable influence at the head of the Church than by his preaching. There is a solid and genuinely pious character about the sermons of Tillotson which suited the better-trained class of mind of his age, but which would now be deemed rather heavy. South has more life and a more popular style; he was therefore more attractive to the courtiers of his day than to the sober citizens, and he has larded his text with what were then deemed sprightly sallies and dashing phrases, but which are now felt as vulgarisms. Both divines, however, furnished succeeding preachers with much gleaning.


      A much more important factor in the social movement than those already mentioned was the ever-increasing influence of women. This probably stood at the lowest point to which it has ever fallen, during the classic age of Greek life and thought. In the history of Thucydides, so far as it forms a connected series of events, four times only during a period of nearly seventy years does a woman cross the scene. In each instance her apparition only lasts for a moment. In three of the four instances she is a queen or a princess, and belongs either to the half-barbarous kingdoms of northern Hellas or to wholly barbarous Thrace. In the one remaining instance208 that of the woman who helps some of the trapped Thebans to make their escape from Plataeawhile her deed of mercy will live for ever, her name is for ever lost.319 But no sooner did philosophy abandon physics for ethics and religion than the importance of those subjects to women was perceived, first by Socrates, and after him by Xenophon and Plato. Women are said to have attended Platos lectures disguised as men. Women formed part of the circle which gathered round Epicurus in his suburban retreat. Others aspired not only to learn but to teach. Art, the daughter of Aristippus, handed on the Cyrenaic doctrine to her son, the younger Aristippus. Hipparchia, the wife of Crates the Cynic, earned a place among the representatives of his school. But all these were exceptions; some of them belonged to the class of Hetaerae; and philosophy, although it might address itself to them, remained unaffected by their influence. The case was widely different in Rome, where women were far more highly honoured than in Greece;320 and even if the prominent part assigned to them in the legendary history of the city be a proof, among others, of its untrustworthiness, still that such stories should be thought worth inventing and preserving is an indirect proof of the extent to which feminine influence prevailed. With the loss of political liberty, their importance, as always happens at such a conjuncture, was considerably increased. Under a personal government there is far more scope for intrigue than where law is king; and as intriguers women are at least the209 equals of men. Moreover, they profited fully by the levelling tendencies of the age. One great service of the imperial jurisconsults was to remove some of the disabilities under which women formerly suffered. According to the old law, they were placed under male guardianship through their whole life, but this restraint was first reduced to a legal fiction by compelling the guardian to do what they wished, and at last it was entirely abolished. Their powers both of inheritance and bequest were extended; they frequently possessed immense wealth; and their wealth was sometimes expended for purposes of public munificence. Their social freedom seems to have been unlimited, and they formed combinations among themselves which probably served to increase their general influence.321


      But even taken in its mildest form, there were difficulties about Greek idealism which still remained unsolved. They may be summed up in one word, the necessity of subordinating all personal and passionate feelings to a higher law, whatever the dictates of that law may be. Of such self-suppression few men were less capable than Cicero. Whether virtue meant the extirpation or merely the moderation of desire and emotion, it was equally impossible to one of whom Macaulay has said, with not more severity than truth, that his whole soul was under the dominion of a girlish vanity and a craven fear.278 Such weak and well-intentioned natures174 almost always take refuge from their sorrows and self-reproaches in religion; and probably the religious sentiment was more highly developed in Cicero than in any other thinker of the age. Here also a parallel with Socrates naturally suggests itself. The relation between the two amounts to more than a mere analogy; for not only was the intellectual condition of old Athens repeating itself in Rome, but the religious opinions of all cultivated Romans who still retained their belief in a providential God, were, to an even greater extent than their ethics, derived through Stoicism from the great founder of rational theology. Cicero, like Socrates, views God under the threefold aspect of a creator, a providence, and an informing spirit:identical in his nature with the soul of man, and having man for his peculiar care. With regard to the evidence of his existence, the teleological argument derived from the structure of organised beings is common to both; the argument from universal belief, doubtless a powerful motive with Socrates, is more distinctly put forward by Cicero; and while both regard the heavenly luminaries as manifest embodiments of the divine essence, Cicero is led by the traditions of Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoics, to present the regularity of their movements as the most convincing revelation of a superhuman intelligence, and to identify the outermost starry sphere with the highest God of all.279 Intimately associated with this view is his belief in the immortality of the soul, which he supposes will return after death to the eternal and unchangeable sphere whence it originally proceeded.280 But his familiarity with the sceptical arguments of Carneades prevented Cicero from putting forward his theological beliefs with the same confidence as Socrates; while, at the same time, it enabled him to take up a much more decided attitude of hostility towards the popular superstitions from which he was anxious, so far as possible, to purify true175 religion.281 To sum up: Cicero, like Kant, seems to have been chiefly impressed by two phenomena, the starry heavens without and the moral law within; each in its own way giving him the idea of unchanging and everlasting continuance, and both testifying to the existence of a power by which all things are regulated for the best. But the materialism of his age naturally prevented him from regarding the external order as a mere reflex or lower manifestation of the inward law by which all spirits feel themselves to be members of the same intelligible community.