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at either her or the man; they seemed so like the rats Now, you must put your best leg foremost, old he had seen outside.
lady,' whispered Sowerberry in the old woman's ear; * Nobody shall go near her,' said the man, starting we are rather late, and it wont do to keep the fiercely up as the undertaker approached the recess. clergyman waiting. Move on, my men—as quick as Keep back! d-n you, keep back, if you've a life to you
Thus directed, the bearers trotted on under their Nonsense, my good man,' said the undertaker, light burden, and the two mourners kept as near them who was pretty well used to misery in all its shapes, as they could. Mr Bumble and Sowerberry walked 'nonsense!
at a good smart pace in front; and Oliver, whose legs 'I tell you,' said the man, clenching his hands and were not so long as his master's, ran by the side. stamping furiously on the floor,' I tell you I wont There was not so great a necessity for hurrying as have her put into the ground. She couldn't rest Mr Sowerberry had anticipated, however; for when there. The worms would worry-pot eat her-she is they reached the obscure corner of the churchyard, in so worn away.'
which the nettles grew, and the parish graves were The undertaker offered no reply to this raving, but made, the clergyman had not arrived, and the clerk, producing a tape from his pocket, knelt down for a who was sitting by the vestry-room fire, seemed to moment by the side of the body.
think it by no means improbable that it might be an “Ah!' said the man, bursting into tears, and sink- hour or so before he came. So they set the bier down ing on his knees at the feet of the dead woman ; on the brink of the grave; and the two mourners
kneel down, kneel down; kneel round her every one waited patiently in the damp clay, with a cold rain of you, and mark my words. I say she starved to drizzling down, while the ragged boys, whom the death. I never knew how bad she was till the fever spectacle had attracted into the churchyard, played a came upon her, and then her bones were starting noisy game at hide-and-seek among the tombstones, through the skin. There was neither fire nor candle; or varied their amusements by jumping backwards she died in the dark-in the dark. She couldn't even and forwards over the coffin. Mr Sowerberry and see her children's faces, though we heard her gasping Bumble, being personal friends of the clerk, sat by out their names. I begged for her in the streets, and the fire with him, and read the paper. they sent me to prison. When I came back she was At length, after the lapse of something more than dying; and all the blood in my heart has dried up, an hour, Mr Bumble, and Sowerberry, and the clerk for they starved her to death. I swear it before the were seen running towards the grave; and immeGod that saw it--they starved her! He twined his diately afterwards the clergyman appeared, putting hands in his hair, and with a loud scream rolled on his surplice as he came along. Mr Bumble then grovelling upon the floor, his eyes fixed, and the foam thrashed a boy or two to keep up appearances; and gushing from his lips.
the reverend gentleman, having read as much of the The terrified children cried bitterly; but the old burial-service as could be compressed into four minutes, woman, who had hitherto remained as quiet as if she gave his surplice to the clerk, and ran away again. had been wholly deaf to all that passed, menaced Now, Bill,' said Sowerberry to the grave-digger, them into silence; and having unloosened the man's 'fill up.' cravat, who still remained extended on the ground, It was no very difficult task, for the grave was so tottered towards the undertaker.
full that the uppermost coffin was within a few feet ‘She was my daughter,' said the old woman, nodding of the surface. The grave-digger shovelled in the her head in the direction of the corpse, and speaking earth, stamped it loosely down with his feet, shoulwith an idiotic leer more ghastly than even the pre- dered his spade, and walked off, followed by the boys, sence of death itself. 'Lord, Lord ! well, it is strange who murmured very loud complaints at the fun being that I who gave birth to her, and was a woman then, over so soon. should be alive and merry now, and she lying there *Come, my good fellow,' said Bumble, tapping the so cold and stiff! Lord, Lord !-to think of it; it's man on the back, 'they want to shut up the yard. as good as a play, as good as a play!'
The man, who had never once moved since he had As the wretched creature mumbled and chuckled taken his station by the grave side, started, raised his in her hideous merriment, the undertaker turned to head, stared at the person who had addressed him, go away.
walked forward for a few paces, and then fell down in Stop, stop!' said the old woman in a loud whisper. a fit. The crazy old woman was too much occupied *Will she be buried to-morrow, or next day, or to- in bewailing the loss of her cloak (which the undernight! I laid her out, and I must walk, you know. taker had taken off) to pay him any attention ; 80 Send me a large cloak; a good warm one, for it is they threw a can of cold water over him, and when he bitter cold. We should have cake and wine, too, came to, saw him safely out of the churchyard, locked before we go! Never mind : send some bread; only the gate, and departed on their different ways. a loaf of bread and a cup of water. Shall we have Well, Oliver,' said Sowerberry, as they walked some bread, dear? she said eagerly, catching at the home, how do you like it?' undertaker's coat as he once more moved towards the ‘Pretty well, thank you, sir,' replied Oliver, with door.
considerable hesitation. Not very mueh, sir.' • Yes, yes,' said the undertaker ; ' of course; any *Ah, you'll get used to it in time, Oliver, said thing, everything. He disengaged himself from the Sowerberry. 'Nothing when you are used to it, my old woman's grasp, and, dragging Oliver after him, boy.' hurried away.
Oliver wondered in his own mind whether it had The next day (the family having been meanwhile taken a very long time to get Mr Sowerberry used to relieved with a half-quartern loaf and a piece of it; but he thought it better not to ask the question, cheese, left with them by Mr Bumble himself) Oliver and walked back to the shop, thinking over all he and his master returned to the miserable abode, where had seen and heard. Mr Bumble had already arrived, accompanied by four men from the workhouse, who were to act as bearers. The atrocities of Sykes in the same tale, particuAn old black cloak had been thrown over the rags of larly his murder of the girl Nancy, are depicted the old woman and the man; the bare coffin having with extraordinary power. been screwed down, was then hoisted on the shoul In 1840 Mr Dickens commenced a new species of ders of the bearers, and carried down stairs into the fiction, entitled Master Humphrey's Clock, designed, street.
like the Tales of My Landlord, to comprise different
tales under one general title, and joined by one con to our knowledge on any of the great topics connecting narrative. The outline was by no means nected with the condition or future destinies of the prepossessing or natural, but as soon as the reader new world. On one national point only did the harl got through this exterior scaffolding, and entered novelist dissertate at length-the state of the newson the first story, the genius of the author was found paper press, which he describes as corrupt and to be undiminished in vivid delineation of character debased beyond any experience or conception in this and description. The effects of gambling are de- country. He also joins with Captain Basil Hall, picted with great force. There is something very Mrs Trollope, and Captain Marryat, in representing striking in the conception of the helpless old game- the social state and morality of the people as low ster, tottering upon the verge of the grave, and at and dangerous, destitute of high principle or genethat period when most of our other passions are as rosity. So acute and practised an observer as much worn out as the frame which sustains them, Dickens could not travel without noting many oddi. still maddened with that terrible infatuation which ties of character, and viewing familiar objects in a seems to shoot up stronger and stronger as every new light; and we are tempted to extract two other desire and energy dics away. Little Nell, the short passages from his ‘American Notes,' which grandchild, is a beautiful creation of pure-minded show the masterly hand of the novelist. The first ness and innocence, yet with those habits of pensive is a sketch of an original met with by our author reflection, and that firmness and energy of mind on board a Pittsburg canal boat :which misfortune will often engraft on the other. wise buoyant and unthinking spirit of childhood; A thin-faced, spare-figured man of middle age and and the contrast between her and her grandfather, stature, dressed in a dusty drabbish-coloured suit, now dwindled in every respect but the one into a such as I never saw before. He was perfectly quiet second childhood, and comforted, directed, and sus- during the first part of the journey ; indeed I don't tained by her unshrinking firmness and love, is very remember having so much as seen him until he was finely managed. The death of Nell is the most brought out by circumstances, as great men often are. pathetic and touching of the author's serious pas- The canal extends to the foot of the mountain, and sages—it is also instructive in its pathos, for we there of course it stops, the passengers being conveyed feel with the author, that when death strikes down across it by land-carriage, and taken on afterwards by the innocent and young, for every fragile form from another canal boat, the counterpart of the first, which which he lets the panting spirit free, a hundred awaits them on the other side. There are two canal virtues rise, in shapes of mercy, charity, and love, lines of passage-boat; one is called the Express, and to walk the world and bless it.” Of every tear that one (a cheaper one) the Pioneer. The Pioneer gets sorrowing mortals shed on such green graves, some
first to the mountain, and waits for the Express people good is born, some gentler nature comes.
In the to come up, both sets of passengers being conveyed destroyer's steps there spring up bright creations across it at the same time. We were the Express that defy his power, and his dark path becomes a company, but when we had crossed the mountain, and way of light to heaven.' In the course of this tale had come to the second boat, the proprietors took it there are many interesting and whimsical incidents into their heads to draft all the Pioneers into it likeand adventures, with fine glimpses of rural scenes, wise, so that we were five-and-forty at least, and the old churches, and churchyards. The horrors of the accession of passengers was not all of that kind almost hopeless want which too often prevails in which improved the prospect of sleeping at night. the great manufacturing towns, and the wild and Our people grumbled at this, as people do in such reckless despair which it engenders, are also de- cases, but suffered the boat to be towed off with the scribed with equal mastery of colouring and effect. whole freight aboard nevertheless; and away we The sketch of the wretch whose whole life had been went down the canal. At home I should bare prospent in watching, day and night, a furnace, until tested lustily, but, being a foreigner here, I held by he imagined it to be a living being, and its roaring the people on deck (we were nearly all on deck), and,
peace. Not so this passenger. He cleft a path among the voice of the only friend he had ever known, without addressing anybody whomsoever, soliloquised although perhaps grotesque, has something in it very terrible: we may smile at the wildness, yet suit me. This may be all very well with down-easters
as follows :- This may suit you, this may, but it don't shudder at the horror of the fancy. A second story, and men of Boston raising, but it wont suit my Barnaby Rudge, is included in • Master Humphrey's figure nohow; and no two ways about that; and so i Clock, and this also contains some excellent minute tell you. Now, I'm from the brown forests of the painting, a variety of broad humour and laughable Mississippi, I am, and when the sun shines on me, it caricature, with some masterly scenes of passion does shine a little. It don't glimmer where I live, and description. The account of the excesses com- the sun don't. No. I'm a brown forester, I am. I mitted during Lord George Gordon's riots in 1780 an't a Johnny Cake. There are no smooth skins may vie with Scott's narrative of the Porteous mob; where I live. We're rough men there. Rather. If and poor Barnaby Rudge with his raven may be down-easters and men of Boston raising like this, I considered as no unworthy companion to Davie am glad of it, but I'm none of that raising, nor of Gellatley. There is also a picture of an old English that breed. No. This company wants a little fixing, inn, the Maypole, near Epping Forest, and an old it does. I'm the wrong sort of man for 'em, I ani. innkeeper, John Willet, which is perfect in its kind They wont like me, they wont. This is piling of it --such, perhaps, as only Dickens could have painted, up, a little too moŭntainoŭs, this is.' At the end of though Washington Irving might have made the every one of these short sentences he turned upon his first etching After completing these tales Mr hcel, and walked the other way; checking himself Dickens made a trip to America, of which he pub- abruptly when he had finished another short sentence, lished an account in 1842, under the somewhat and turning back again. It is impossible for me to quaint title of American Notes for General Circu- say what terrific meaning was hidden in the words of lation. This work dişappointed the author's ad- this brown forester, but I know that the other pasmirers, which may be considered as including nearly sengers looked on in a sort of admiring horror, and the whole of the reading public. The field had that presently the boat was put back to the wharf, already been well gleaned, the American character and as many of the Pioneers as could be coaxed or and institutions frequently described and generally bullied into going away, were got rid of. When we understood, and Mr Dickens could not hope to add I started again, some of the boldest spirits on board
made bold to say to the obvious occasion of this im- woman herself (who would just as soon have cried) provement in our prospects, “Much obliged to you, greeted every jest with! At last there were the lights sir:' whereunto the brown forester (waving his hand, of St Louis, and here was the wharf, and those were and still walking up and down as before) replied, “No the steps; and the little woman, covering her face you an't. You're none o' my raising. You may act with her hands, and laughing (or seeming to laugh) for yourselves, you may. I have pinted out the way. more than ever, ran into her own cabin and shut lierDown-easters and Johnny Cakes can follow if they self up. I have no doubt that in the charming inconplease. I an't a Johnny Cake, I an't. I am from the sistency of such excitement, she stopped her ears, lest brown forests of the Mississippi, I am ;' and so on, as she should hear · him’ asking for her-but I did not before. He was unanimously voted one of the tables see her do it.' Then a great crowd of people rushed for his bed at night—there is a great contest for the on board, though the boat was not yet made fast, but tables-in consideration of his public services, and he was wandering about among the other boats to find a had the warmest corner by the stove throughout the landing-place; and everybody looked for the husband, rest of the journey. But I never could find out that and nobody saw him, when, in the midst of us allhe did anything except sit there; nor did I hear him Heaven knows how she ever got there—there was the speak again until, in the midst of the bustle and tur- little woman clinging with both arms tight round the moil of getting the luggage ashore in the dark at neck of a fine, good-looking, sturdy young fellow; and Pittsburg, I stumbled over him as he sat smoking a in a moment afterwards there she was again, actually cigar on the cabin steps, and heard him muttering to clapping her little hands for joy, as she dragged him himself, with a short laugh of defiance, 'I an't a through the small door of her small cabin to look at Johnny Cake, I an't. I'm from the brown forests of the baby as he lay asleep! the Mississippi. I am, damme!' I am inclined to
In the course of the year 1843 Mr Dickens entered argue from this that he had never left off saying so.
upon a new tale, Martin Chuzzlewit, in which many The following is completely in the style of Dickens of his American reminiscences are embodied, and -a finished miniature, yet full of heart :
which evinces no diminution of his powers. Indeed, There was a little woman on board with a little in freshness and vigour of thought and style, and baby; and both little woman and little child were versatility of character and invention, this story bids cheerful, good-looking, bright-eyed, and fair to see. fair to rank among the most finished of the author's The little woman had been passing a long time with performances. About Christmas of the same year her sick mother in New York, and had left her home the fertile author threw off a light production in his in St Louis, in that condition in which ladies who happiest manner--a Christmas Carol in Prose—which truly love their lords desire to be. The baby was born enjoyed vast popularity, and was dramatised at the in her mother's house, and she had not seen her hus- London theatres. Thus crowned with unrivalled sucband (to whom she was now returning) for twelve cess, buoyant in genius and spirit, and replete with months, having left him a month or two after their generous and manly feeling, we may anticipate for marriage. Well, to be sure, there never was a little Mr Dickens a long and honourable career. The diffiwoman so full of hope, and tenderness, and love, and culties to which he is exposed in his present periodical anxiety, as this little woman was; and all day long mode of writing are, in some respects, greater than if she wondered whether he would be at the wharf; he allowed himself a wider field, and gave his whole and whether he' had got her letter; and whether, if work to the public at once. But he would be subshe sent the baby ashore by somebody else, "he' would jected to a severer criticism if his fiction could be know it meeting it in the street; which, seeing that read continuedly—if his power of maintaining a he had never set eyes upon it in his life, was not very sustained interest could be tested—if his work could likely in the abstract, but was probable enough to the be viewed as a connected whole, and its object, young mother.
She was such an artless little crea- plan, consistency, and arrangement, brought to the ture, and was in such a sunny, beaming, hopeful state, notice of the reader at once. This ordeal cannot be and let out all this matter clinging close about her passed triumphantly without the aid of other qualiheart so freely, that all the other lady passengers en- ties than necessarily belong to the most brilliant tered into the spirit of it as much as she; and the sketcher of detached scenes. We do not, however, captain (who heard all about it from his wife) was mean to express a doubt that Mr Dickens can write wondrous sly, I promise you, inquiring every time we with judgment as well as with spirit. His powers met at table, as in forgetfulness, whether she ex- of observation and description are qualities rarer, pected anybody to meet her at St Louis, and whether and less capable of being acquired, than those which she would want to go ashore the night we reached it would enable him to combine the scattered portions (but he supposed she wouldn't), and cutting many of a tale into one consistent and harmonious whole. other dry jokes of that nature. There was one little If he will endeavour to supply whatever may be weazen-dried, apple-faced old woman, who took oc- effected by care and study-avoid imitation of other casion to doubt the constancy of husbands in such writers, keep nature steadily before his eyes—and circunstances of bereavement; and there was another check all disposition to exaggerate-we know no lady (with a lap dog), old enough to moralise on the writer who seems likely to attain higher success in lightness of human affections, and yet not so old that that rich and useful department of fiction which is she could help nursing the baby now and then, or founded on faithful representations of human chalaughing with the rest when the little woman called racter, as exemplified in the aspects of English life.'* it by its father's name, and asked it all manner of fantastic questions concerning him in the joy of her heart. It was something of a blow to the little woman,
HISTORIANS. that when we were within twenty miles of our desti In depth of research and intrinsic value, the histonation, it became clearly necessary to put this baby to rical works of this period far exceed those of any of bed. But she got over it with the same good humour, our former sections. Access has been more readily tied a handkerchief round her head, and came out obtained to all public documents, and private collecinto the little gallery with the rest. Then, such an tions have been thrown open with a spirit of cnoracle as she became in reference to the localities ! lightened liberality. Certain departments of history and such facetiousness as was displayed by the mar -as the Anglo-Saxon period, and the progress ried ladies, and such sympathy as was shown by the single ones, and such peals of laughter as the little
* Edinburgh Review for 1838.
generally of the English constitution--have also extreme. In treating of the democracies or of the been cultivated with superior learning and diligence. democratical leaders, his statements are not less The great works of Hume, Robertson, and Gibbon, partial and exaggerated.'* It is undeniable that Mr still maintain their pre-eminence with the general Mitford has over-coloured the evils of popular reader, but the value of the two first has been mate government, but there is so much acuteness and rially diminished by subsequent investigations and spirit in his political disquisitions, and his narrative new information.
of events is so animated, full, and distinct, that he is always read with pleasure. His qualifications were
great, and his very defects constitute a sort of inThe most elaborate and comprehensive work we long a history.
dividuality that is not without its attraction in so have here to notice, is The History of Greece from the Earliest Period, by WILLIAM MITFORD, Esq. The first volume of Mr Mitford's history came before
[Condemnation and Death of Socrates.] the public in 1784, a second was published in 1790, We are not informed when Socrates first became and a third in 1797. It was not, however, till the distinguished as a sophist; for in that description of year 1810 that the work was completed. Mr
men he was in his own day reckoned. When the wit Mitford, descended of an ancient family in North- of Aristophanes was directed against him in the umberland, was born in London on the 10th of theatre, he was already among the most eminent, but February 1744, and was educated first at Cheam his eminence seems to have been then recent. It was school, Surrey, and afterwards at Queen's college, about the tenth or eleventh year of the Peloponnesian Oxford. He studied the law, but abandoned it on war, when he was six or seven-and-forty years of age, obtaining a commission in the South Hampshire that, after the manner of the old comedy, he was offered Militia, of which regiment he was afterwards lieu- to public derision upon the stage by his own name, as tenant-colonel. In 1761 he succeeded to the family one of the persons of the drama, in the comedy of estate in Hampshire, and was thus enabled to pursue Aristophanes, called The Clouds, which is yet extant. those classical and historical studies to which he was Some antipathy, it appears, existed between the comic ardently devoted. His first publication was an poets collectively and the sophists or philosophers. Essay on the Harmony of Language, intended princi- The licentiousness of the former could indeed scarcely pally to illustrate that of the English Language, 1774, escape the animadversion of the latter, who, on the which afterwards reached a second edition. While contrary, favoured the tragic poets, competitors with in the militia, he published a Treatise on the Military the comedians for public favour. Euripides and Force, and particularly of the Militia of the Kingdom. Aristophanes were particularly enemies ; and Socrates This subject seems to have engrossed much of his not only lived in intimacy with Euripides, but is said attention, for at a subsequent period of his life, when to have assisted him in some of his tragedies. We a member of the House of Commons, Mr Mitford are informed of no other cause for the injurious readvocated the cause of the militia with much fervour, presentation which the comic poet has given of and recommended a salutary jealousy relative to a Socrates, whom he exhibits in The Clouds as a flagistanding army in this country. He was neverthe- tious yet ridiculous pretender to the occult sciences, less a general supporter of ministers, and held the conversing with the clouds as divinities, and teaching government appointment of Verdurer of the New the principal youths of Athens to despise the received Forest. Mr Mitford was twice elected member of gods and to cozen men. The audience, accustomed parliament for the borough of Beeralston, in Devon to look on defamation with carelessness, and to hold shire, and afterwards for New Romney, in Kent. as lawful and proper whatever might amuse the mulHe died in 1827. The History of Greece' has titude, applauded the wit, and even gave general passed through several editions. Byron says of Mr approbation to the piece; but the high estimation of Mitford as a historian— His great pleasure consists the character of Socrates sufficed to prevent that comin praising tyrants, abusing Plutarch, spelling
oddly, plete success which the poet had promised himself. and writing quaintly; and what is strange, after all
, The crown which rewarded him whose drama most his is the best modern history of Greece in any earned the public favour, and which Aristophanes language, and he is perhaps the best of all modern had so often won, was on this occasion refused him. historians whatsoever. Having named his sins
Two or three-and-twenty years had elapsed since (adds the noble poet), it is but fair to state his vir- the first representation of The Clouds; the storms of tues—-learning, labour, research, wrath, and par- revolutions in the civil government of the country,
conquest suffered from a foreign enemy, and of four tiality. I call the latter virtues in a writer, because had passed ; nearly three years had followed of that they make him write in earnest.' The earnestness of Mr Mitford is too often directed against what he duced, and the act of amnesty should have confirmed,
quiet which the revolution under Thrasybulus proterms the inherent weakness and the indelible when a young man named Melitus went to the king. barbarism of democratical government.' He was a warm admirer of the English constitution and of the tion against Socrates, and bound himself to prosecute.
archon, and in the usual form delivered an informamonarchical form of government, and this bias led The information ran thus :-Melitus, son of Melitus, him to be unjust to the Athenian people, whom he of the borough of Pitthos, declares these upon oath on one occasion terms “the sovereign beggars of against Socrates, son of Sophroniscus, of the borough Athens. His fidelity as a reporter of facts has also of Alopece : Socrates is guilty of reviling the gods been questioned. He contracts the strongest indi- whom the city acknowledges, and of preaching other vidual partialities, and according as these lead, he is credulous or mistrustful—he exaggerates or he
new gods : moreover, he is guilty of corrupting the qualifies--he expands or he cuts down the docu
youth. Penalty, death.' ments on which he has to proceed. With regard to with declaring his wonder how the Athenians could
Xenophon begins his memorials of his revered master, the bright side of almost every king whom he has have been persuaded to condemn to death a man of to describe, Mr Mitford is more than credulous ; for such uncommonly clear innocence and exalted worth. a credulous man believes all that he is told: Mr Ælian, though for authority he can bear no comparison Mitford believes more than he is told. With regard with Xenophon, has nevertheless, I think, given the to the dark side of the same individuals, his habits of estimating evidence are precisely in the opposite
* Westminster Review for 1826
solution. Socrates,' he says, 'disliked the Athenian poets, who esteemed the doctrine of Socrates injurious constitution ; for he saw that democracy is tyran- to their interest. Unsupported, his accusation would nical, and abounds with all the evils of absolute have been little formidable ; but he seems to have monarchy.' But though the political circumstances been a mere instrument in the business. He was soon of the times made it necessary for cotemporary writers joined by Lycon, one of the most powerful speakers of to speak with caution, yet both Xenophon and Plato his time. Lycon was the avowed patron of the rhetohave declared enough to show that the assertion of ricians, who, as well as the poets, thought their interest Ælian was well-founded; and farther proof, were it injured by the moral philosopher's doctrine. I know wanted, may be derived from another early writer, not that on any other occasion in Grecian history we nearly cotemporary, and deeply versed in the politics have any account of this kind of party-interest opeof his age, the orator Æschines. Indeed, though not rating; but from circumstances nearly analogous in stated in the indictment, yet it was urged against our own country—if we substitute for poets the clergy, Socrates by his prosecutors before the court, that he and for rhetoricians the lawyers—we may gather what was disaffected to the democracy; and in proof, they might be the party-spirit, and what the weight of inaffirmed it to be notorious that he had ridiculed what fluence of the rhetoricians and poets in Athens. With the Athenian constitution prescribed, the appoint- Lycon, Anytus, a man scarcely second to any in the ment to magistracy by lot. Thus, they said, "he commonwealth in rank and general estimation, who taught his numerous followers, youths of the principal had held high command with reputation in the Pelofamilies of the city, to despise the established govern- ponnesian war, and had been the principal associate ment, and to be turbulent and seditious; and his of Thrasybulus in the war against the thirty and the success had been seen in the conduct of two of the restoration of the democracy, declared himself a supmost eminent, Alcibiades and Critias. Even the best porter of the prosecution. Nothing in the accusation things he converted to these ill purposes : from the could, by any known law of Athens, affect the life of most esteemed poets, and particularly from Homer, the accused.' In England, no man would be put upon he selected passages to enforce his anti-democratical trial on so vague a charge--no grand jury would listen principles.'
to it. But in Athens, if the party was strong enough, Socrates, it appears, indeed, was not inclined to it signified little what was the law. When Lycon deny his disapprobation of the Athenian constitution. and Anytus came forward, Socrates saw that his conHis defence itself, as it is reported by Plato, contains demnation was already decided. inatter on which to found an accusation against him By the course of his life, however, and by the tum of disaffection to the sovereignty of the people, such of his thoughts for many years, he had so prepared as, under the jealous tyranny of the Athenian demo- | himself for all events, that, far from alarmed at the cracy, would sometimes subject a man to the penalties probability of his condemnation, he rather rejoiced at of high treason. You well know,' he says, ' Athenians, it, as at his age a fortunate occurrence. He was perthat had I engaged in public business, I should long suaded of the soul's immortality, and of the superinago have perished without procuring any advantage tending providence of an all-good Deity, whose favour either to you or to myself. Let not the truth offend he had always been assiduously endeavouring to deyou: it is no peculiarity of your democracy, or of your serve. Men fear death, he said, as if unquestionably national character ; but wherever the people is sove the greatest evil, and yet no man knows that it may reign, no man who shall dare honestly to oppose in- not be the greatest good. If, indeed, great joys were justice-frequent and extravagant injustice- can in prospect, he might, and his friends for him, with avoid destruction.'
somewhat more reason regret the event; but at his Without this proof, indeed, we might reasonably years, and with his scanty fortune—though he was believe, that though Socrates was a good and faithful happy enough at seventy still to preserve both body subject of the Athenian government, and would pro- and mind in vigour-yet even his present gratificamote no sedition, no political violence, yet he could tions must necessarily soon decay. To avoid, therefore, not like the Athenian constitution. He wished for the evils of age, pain, sickness, decay of sight, decay wholesome changes by gentle means; and it seems even of hearing, perhaps decay of understanding, by the to have been a principal object of the labours to which easiest of deaths (for such the Athenian mode of exehe dedicated himself, to infuse principles into the cution---by a draught of hemlock-was reputed), rising generation that might bring about the desirable cheered with the company of surrounding friends, change insensibly. His scholars were chiefly sons of could not be otherwise than a blessing. the wealthiest citizens, whose easy circumstances Xenophon says that, by condescending to a little afforded leisure to attend him; and some of these supplication, Socrates might easily have obtained his zealously adopting his tenets, others merely pleased acquittal. No admonition or intreaty of his friends, with the ingenuity of his arguments and the live- however, could persuade him to such an unworthiness. liness of his manner, and desirous to emulate his On the contrary, when put upon his defence, he told triumphs over his opponents, were forward, after his the people that he did not plead for his own sake, but example, to engage in disputation upon all the sub- for theirs, wishing them to avoid the guilt of an unjects on which he was accustomed to discourse. Thus just condemnation. It was usual for accused persons employed, and thus followed, though himself avoiding to bewail their apprehended lot, with tears to supplioffice and public business, those who governed or de cate favour, and, by exhibiting their children upon the sired to govern the commonwealth through their bema, to endeavour to excite pity. He thought it, he influence among the many, might perhaps not un- said, more respectful to the court, as well as more reasonably consider him as one who was or might becoming himself, to omit all this; however aware become a formidable adversary, nor might it be diffi- that their sentiments were likely so far to differ from cult to excite popular jealousy against him.
his, that judgment would be given in anger for it. Melitus, who stood forward as his principal accuser, Condemnation pronounced wrought no change upon was, as Plato informs us, no way a man of any great him. He again addressed the court, declared his consideration. His legal description gives some pro- innocence of the matters laid against him, and obbability to the conjecture, that his father was one of served that, even if every charge had been completely the commissioners sent to Lacedæmon from the mo- proved, still, all together did not, according to any derate party, who opposed the ten successors of the known law, amount to a capital crime. But,' in thirty tyrants, while Thrasybulus held Piræus, and conclusion he said, “it is time to depart— I to die, you Pausanias was encamped before Athens. He was a to live ; but which for the greater good, God only poet, and stood forward as in a common cause of the knows.'