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A NEW WORK BY HOOD. Let the reader scan the clustering latent puns and verbal jingles, which abound in the annexed announcement of a comic work by HOOD: 'Hood's Own, or Laughter from Year to Year; being former runnings of his comic vein, with an infusion of new blood, for general circulation. The principle, of condensation at a high pressure, has been employed to place the book in the reach of all. There is nothing low about it, however, except the price.' We have glanced over the initiatory number, and rejoiced in it. It is replete with the richest humor; and we are glad to learn that Mr. GEORGE DEARBORN is to reprint the work, in monthly parts, with fac similes of all the engravings. Hood is a true laughing philosopher, and makes his readers such. He says a laugh is the best vocal music-a glee in which every body can take a part. He would have even the most desponding take heart. Things may take a turn,' as the pig said on the spit.' 'The Pugsley Papers' are worth the price of a year's numbers. A London shoe-maker and his family become, by the will of a deceased relation, the occupants of a country estate, which they manage as might be anticipated. Miss Dorothy Pugsley writes to a London friend: As I know you will like country delicacies, you will receive a pound of fresh butter, when it comes, and I mean to add a cheese, as soon as I can get one to stick together.' She promises, also, some family pork, as they wring a pig's neck on Saturday.' The old lady, in her epistle, complains of smokey chimneys, in which hams are suspended; but adds, complacently, that what is to be cured, must be endured.' Her son, in attempting to plough, 'met with agricultural distress. As soon as he whipped his horses, the plough stuck its nose into the earth, and tumbled over head and heels!' The old gentleman's letter smells of the shop.' He writes that the cows had all run away, 'except those that had burst themselves in the clover-fields, and a small dividend, as I may say, of one in the pound!' He adds: 'Another item; the pigs, to save bread and milk, have been turned into the woods for acorns, and is an article producing no returns, as not one has yet come back. Poultry ditto.'

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AUTHORSHIP OF 'THE DOCTOR.'-Frazer's London Magazine is somewhat of the latest in tracing the authorship of 'The Doctor' to ROBERT SOUTHEY. It adopts many of the conclusions and arguments advanced in an elaborate article, published long since in this Magazine, wherein the paternity of the work in question was established beyond all peradventure. Among the additional proofs mentioned in 'Frazer,' are: 'The author of Waverly never quoted Scott: that was enough. The author of the Doctor always quotes Southey that is enough.' The reviewer adds: 'Who would quote the odes, ballads, minor poems, Thalaba, Kehama, Roderick, Wat Tyler, Histories, Omniana, etc. of SOUTHEY, his private correspondence, and his domestic conversation-who but SOUTHEY himself, in such a book as this? Not that they are not all very good, but they would hardly occur as often to any body else.'

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NEW WORK BY MR. COOPER.- A new work from the press of Messrs. H. AND E. PHINNEY, Cooperstown, entitled 'The American Democrat, or Hints on the Civic and Social Relations of the United States, by J. FENIMORE COOPER,' will soon be published. The title affords a clue to its general scope and character.

SEVERAL notices of Pamphlets, Reports, Addresses, etc., with one or two books of instruction, have been omitted, through a press of matter in this department. They will receive early attention.

ERRATUM. In the 'Letters from Rome,' in the March number, eleventh line from the top of page 261, read fame for form, in the following sentence: Rome is not fullen, nor the fame of the Sta. gyrite burt for this.'

THE KNICKERBOCKER.

VOL. XI.

MAY, 1838.

LIFE AND OPINIONS OF SOCRATES.

BY REV. G. W. BETHUNE.

FEW subjects of study reward our pains so well, as the lives of the greatly good, in past ages. The example of those who are eminent in virtue among ourselves, has not an equal influence; for beside a suspicion of their sincerity, which men cherish from an unwillingness to confess themselves outdone by others in the same circumstances, there is a real imperfection in every thing human, which will not bear to be looked at too closely. Good character, like a good picture, is seen to the best advantage from such a distance that the shadows of present jealousy may not fall upon it, and after time has mellowed the coloring, which, to be impressive and lasting, must be strong. This led Lord Bacon to say, that 'death extinguisheth envy, and openeth the gate to good fame ;'* and the twin dramatists of his time to put into the mouth of an honest man, oppressed by wrong, the bitter exclamation:

'Oh, Antiquity!
Thy rare examples of nobility
Are out of imitation, or at least
So lamely followed, that thou art
As much before this age in virtue
As in time.'t

No. 5.

But among the 'rare examples' of moral dignity, which the history of heathen nations affords us, SOCRATES deserves the highest place, whether we consider the disinterested and firm devotion of himself to the true welfare of mankind, the singular modesty of his searches after truth, or the remarkable agreement of many doctrines which he taught, with that better wisdom, now shed upon our souls by light from above. The best of the ancients freely rewarded his memory with this honor, and the greatest of modern poets, ('who,' Mackintosh observes, from the loftiest eminence of moral genius ever reached by mortal, was perhaps alone worthy to place another crown upon his brow,'‡) says:

'Him well inspired the oracle pronounced
Wisest of men!'

* Essay on Death.

BEAUMONT and FLETCHER. 'The Honest Man's Fortune.' Act I., sc. 1. * History of Ethical Philosophy.

VOL. XI.

50

Alluding to a Delphic response given during his life time, that

'Sophocles was wise, Euripides wiser,
But Socrates wisest of all.'

Yet, notwithstanding the greatness of his fame, it is only after much and cautious study, that we can form any just opinion of his character and philosophy. His very virtue made him enemies, not only in his own day, but in subsequent times; and some pious fathers of the church, unduly fearful lest his character for wisdom and goodness might seem to disprove the necessity of revelation, have most uncandidly repeated their foul and baseless slanders against him; while, within a few years, a learned translator of Aristophanes, in his zeal for his favorite poet, whose matchless power of language but ill atones for his indecent scurrility, has virulently though unsuccessfully assailed him. On the other hand, his admirers have been excessive in his praise; so much so, indeed, that another early defender of our faith, in a transport of admiration, pronounces him a Christian. Beside, as he carefully abstained from making any records with his own hand, we are indebted for our knowledge of him principally to his two most eminent disciples, Xenophon and Plato, both of them professedly his eulogists. Xenophon, except when he is speaking of arts, or historically of scenes in which he himself figured so gloriously, is well known to have been a romancer. While Plato, the father of mystical philosophy, (from whom, indeed, the modern Kant and Coleridge have derived most of their ingenious but useless abstractions,) delighted to put his extravagant theories into the mouth of his modest and cautious master; so that Socrates himself, on hearing one of his Dialogues read, exclaimed, 'What does not this young fellow make me say! A careful comparison of their two accounts will however give us much that may be relied upon.

Socrates was born at Athens, in the 468th year before Christ, and lived, from infancy to his death, during that period which may be termed the Augustan age of Greece; the age of Pericles, of Phidias the sculptor, Zeuxis the painter, Herodotus and Thucydides the historians, Eschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, the dramatists, Hippocrates, the father of medicine, and the splendid though luxurious Alcibiades. These were all known to our philosopher, and in his own time he was greatest among the great. Though the son of poor pa rents, his father Sophroniscus gave him an excellent education, and he enjoyed the instructions of a very remarkable man, the philosopher Anaxagoras. Early relinquishing the calling of his father, that of a sculptor, he devoted himself to the study of human duties. This did not prevent his proving himself practically a good citizen, and a brave man in fighting the battles of his country, saving by his devoted valor at one time the life of Xenophon, and at another that of Alcibiades. Afterward, however, he mingled little in public affairs, (though he served once in the council of the five hundred,) believing

*Tertullian. Cyril Alex. Gregory Nazianzen. + Justin Martyr.

himself called by the divinity to persuade his countrymen to virtue and rational religion. For this end, he chose, though not ostentatiously, a life of poverty and self-denial, looking for his best reward to a consciousness of integrity in this life, and a happy immortality. Original in thought and eloquent in language, though so ungainly in person as to resemble a satyr, he soon drew around him many followers, and among them the noblest in birth and character of the Athenians. Yet this blamelessness and usefulness of life soon excited against him many enemies, in the vicious and turbulent democracy of his native city. The sophists, or false philosophers, who have given their name to the vexatious quibbles in which they delighted, were especially enraged against him, for he fearlessly exposed their mercenary quackery; and because he taught that there was one supreme overruling Providence, whose 'just eyes could not be blinded by the smoke of sacrifices,' but loved virtuous actions better than sumptuous forms, they accused him of impiety against the gods. Taking advantage also of the fact, that he had peculiar pleasure in teaching young men, they charged him with an unnatural crime, then lamentably prevalent. This prompted Aristophanes, a comic poet, whose gross blackguardism shows the baseness of his soul, to hold the teacher of virtue up to ridicule, in his comedy of the Clouds,' showing the venerable man hanging ridiculously in a basket, and teaching the most disorganizing doctrines. The comedy was not indeed successful at first, Socrates himself laughing at it; but few characters can bear up against ridicule; and the poison then began to work, which three-and-twenty years after resulted in a grave public indictment against him for impiety and corrupting the youth. Against these charges he made an eloquent and dignified defence, retracting none of his sentiments, denying the charge of crime, and asserting that his countrymen owed him reward, not punishment. It availed him nothing against the cruel hate of wicked men. Some say the multitude believed the charges; others, that they were exasperated against him, because Critias, a renegade disciple of his, whom he openly rebuked for his oppression, was one of the thirty tyrants, that the Spartan Lysander set over the Athenians, and who deluged the city with blood. But alas! we know too well the treatment which wise and good men receive, when they oppose the will of a blind and brutal populace, and need only to be told of the integrity of Socrates, to account for his condemnation by a people who had already banished Aristides, because they were tired of hearing him called the just. Athens has not been the only state, where public virtue has been the least claim to popular favor; or where it were not easier to gain power by flattering the people than by serving them. Alas! again, it is human nature, which loves even tyranny better than honest counsel; for, in the language of the modern Euripides, the pure, classical Talfourd :

The cloven hearted world
Is ever eager thus to own a lord,
And patriots smite for it in vain.'

The best defence of Socrates is found in the remorse of the Athenians. They prosecuted his accusers as enemies to the state, putting Melitus, one of the two most active, to death, and banishing the other,

Anytus, who was so universally execrated, that he found no place of refuge, but was stoned by the people of Heraclea, after they had cast him out of their city; and it is said that when the Palamede* of Euripides was performed, and an actor pronounced the line:

'You have given to cruel death the best of all the Greeks!'

the whole audience, reminded of Socrates, burst into tears, and the theatre resounded with lamentations; for which reason they made a decree that his name should not be spoken in public any more.

A high testimony to the purity of his character is also found in the confession of Alcibiades, who, though he left his great teacher. that he might pursue projects of ambition and luxurious pride, declared, that he blushed at his way of life, whenever he thought of Socrates, and at times almost wished him dead, and no longer a witness of his pupil's shame.'t

Condemned, however, he was to drink the fatal hemlock. Thirty days (owing to some religious ceremonies) elapsed between his sentence and his death, which was not only worthy of his life, but the summit of its admirable virtue. He spent these mournful days, (mournful to those who loved him, but full of calm and unfailing hope to the martyr himself,) in conversing cheerfully with his disciples, exhorting them to remain stedfast in the virtue he had taught them, and confidently to expect a happy immortality in the divine presence, as the reward of it. An account of this sad interval is given us in the Phædon of Plato, the simplest and most affecting of all his writings. It were in vain to attempt translating the dying scene from the Greek, for the very words seem to sob, and the sentences moan as if they came from a broken heart, so that it has won from the learned of all ages the tribute of tears, as if our universal nature suffered in him. Crito, his friend, at one time, by bribing the jailer, had made every arrangement for his escape; but the consistant friend of social order smiled at his zeal, and refused to fly from a mortality which he would soon meet, wherever he might go; declaring, that the injury done to him, under color of the law, was no reason why he should do wrong by rebelling against the public authority. Speaking kindly to the executioner, who prepared the poison, and presented it to him, not without tears, he calmly drank it amidst the loud sobbings his friends could no longer restrain, and walking up and down his cell, he greatly comforted them, until the torpor seized his limbs; then lying down, he wrapped his mantle around him, and with a slight tremor, the best, the wisest, and the most just, of Athens,' breathed his last, leaving to all ages the blest assurance, that

'Virtue may be assailed, but never hurt,
Surprised by unjust force, but not enthralled;

Yea, even that which mischief meant most harm,
Shall, in the happy trial, prove most glory.'*

The opinions of Socrates were, considering the age and country

*This play is lost, but some fragments, and among them this sentence, are preserved. EURIPIDES. GLAS. ED., Vol. vii., 643. ↑ Plato.

Milton's Comus.

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