« PreviousContinue »
without inconvenience, to those who know the facts or persons in ancient history and mythology, to which those names allude, they form a valuable monument of grand historical facts, no less remarkable for the extent of their operation, and the continuance of their influence, which is not yet entirely exhausted, than for the surprising nature and origin of that prodigious power, under which they occurred; which was so far extended and lasted so long, and beneath which all the civilized world once bowed; in short, they forin to them a remarkable monument of the history, the customs, the religion, and the great men of the Romans, more lasting than one of brass, or marble, which has continued many centuries unimpaired, and promises fairly to endure for ages to come. Those names then consecrated by their antiquity, having been proved by long trial adequate for the purposes to which they are applied, and being also capable of universal use, and rising conspicuous in comparison with other names and systems, which have either been imagined or partially used in a small extent; and any alteration in them having been shown to be likely to create confusion, and narrow the circle of intelligence, it is hoped that those who read this will be satisfied with the propriety of using them, or at least not be led away by unsupported assertions, to suppose that they are improper, or worthy of rejection.
It is not any wonder however that the class of men, who have been taught to use numeral names for the months from their infancy, (and who do not know the facts above stated, which prevent their universal use,) should think well of them; for custom makes whatever men are used to, seem the best, and the reverse of it the worst, all over the world.
This applies to all who have left that society, as well as those who continue in it; but the latter have an additional reason for approving of those names. The use of a particular phraseology, has an effect similar to that of wearing a peculiar dress, or uniform, to keep up that Esprit du corps, which the leaders of religious, as well as of military associations, find so serviceable to their purposes. Thus the glaring dress and accoutrements of the soldiers, the coul and cassock of the monk, and the singular garb of the quaker, are all uniforms; and the peculiar phraseology adopted by each may be called a vocal uniform, having the same affect as uniforms of apparel, in tending to make them act more readily in a body, and to feel particular preference and regard for their own party, and their opinions and interests, to the exclusion of those of the rest of mankind.
The effects of pcculiarity of dress in these respects, has long been known; but those of peculiarity of language have been but little noticed, if at all; but there are many reasons for supposing that the lat ter is in several respects equally potent with the former for the purposes inentioned, and in some, even a superior efficacy.
For the Belfast Monthly Magazine.
SYMBOLS OF PYTHAGORAS,
(Continued from page 3, No. XXX. ) Της λεωφορες μη βαδίζει Go not by the highway. THE precept of « abstaining from by general voice of antiquity to Pythagoras, and enrolled among his symbols.--The tradition of his having given up his life to his base pursuers,
rather than attempt to escape them by passing through a field of beans, if it could be established, would also establish the literal acceptance of the symbol, Abstain from beans, as well as of the subject of this paper. But how idle must the supposition he, which would exhibit
man of such comprehensive intellect, the slave of such unintelligible follies? Besides, the tradition is very vague, and such a mode of construing his precepts is opposed to the opinion of all, who have considered them, whether they be those of our own time, or those of the age nearest to him, whose writings have reached us. In considering the symbol, then, of go not by the highway; we feel ourselves warranted in proceeding in the same manner, as heretofore, to penetrate
warded, that we are reminded of Plato, who, being once a sojourner, where he was not known, bore his faculties so meekly, and was so kind, so condescending, and so useful, that he was not suspected to be the great philosopher, whose fame sounded loudly forth from Athens. Intense study, total seclusion from the world, and consequently ignorance in its affairs, and therefore uselessness, a cumbrous second-hand wisdom; these were the distinguishing characters of the philosophers of the middle ages. According as the darkness of that period was departing, men began to see, that knowledge was something more than mere Latin and Greek, and to understand, that the persons, who were versed in these languages were not conjurers. From this has resulted a dangerous extreme, and classical literature seems likely to be as unjustly depreciated, as it was formerly extravagantly extolled.
Revolutions have not been confined to the political world. A great and beneficial, though gradual one has been effected in the empire of
the mind. Since the destruction of
the Aristotleian philosophy and the dissipation of the Cartesian vortices down the gulf of oblivion, true knowledge has been advancing with rapid, yet steady steps; philosophers have come forth from their closets, and instead of searching through folios for authorities and references
to no useful end, instead of exhausting their health and strength in pursuits, which made no one wiser, they now study for the be
nefit of mankind, and are no longer mere statues stepped from their pedestals to take the air. They now begin to show themselves in the attractive light of superior geniuses condescending to mingle with the world, and directing their abilities to its improvement, and from those qualities, they are so little like the characters, to whom the meed of philosophy has been heretofore a
thing like it, mingles with the ideas This train of thought, or somegenerally entertained of the philosophers of Greece. They are supposed stained from the ordinary pursuits to have been persons, who totally abtheir dignity lessened by participat of life, and who would have conceived ing in the cares and duties of society. Overlooking the useful activiety. Overlooking the useful activi
of the men of science, who now ty adorn and instruct the world, we obstinately fix our eyes on those reproaches of literature; men, who hoarded up knowledge without use or end, who valued an author in proportion to his obscurity, and, as we may express it, found more pleasure in cracking a nut, than in extracting the kernel. The mean opinion, thus conceived, we transfer to our judgment of a description of men very little like those persons; and perhaps the keen, yet just, abuse poured by Lucian on the self-dub
Thus Zeno of Elea, distinguished himself by improving the art of reasoning, and by magnanimously exposing himself to the fury of a tyrant, from whose possession he had endeavoured to rescue his native place, he proved, that his was not theoretic wisdom. Zeno, the founder of the stoic sect, aimed at the improvement of mankind by a clear exposition of the excellence of vir tue, and hatefulness of vice, exhibiting in his own life such a consistency with his doctrines, as procured him general esteem, and stamped influence on his words. But, without particularising Plato, Aristotle, and others; Pythagoras is himself a pregnant instance of their
active in the affairs of men. After having travelled through all the countries, then the depositories of knowledge, he fixed his residence at Crotona in Italy. Here by the charms of his person, his skill in the manly exercises, and his superiority in mental acquirements, he obtained unlimited influence. This influence he exerted so effectually, that out of a people sunk in sensuality and sloth, he formed, as it were, a new race, distinguished by manly energy, and the useful virtues,
"Go not by the highway," then cannot be inferred to enjoin seclusion from the world but would seem rather to contain the advice, conveyed from high authority in the words, "thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil." Origen and
Erasmus give nearly the same explanation, and advert to the broad and narrow way spoken of in the new testament. The letter Y, called the Samian letter, from its adaptation by the Samian sage, is supposed to have been chosen to convey similar instruction, or rather, as a varied way of conveying the same instruction. The broad part of the letter represents the way of folly, ignorance, and death, trodden by the multitude-the narrow part stands the representative of the useful course of the wise man, a course, whence man is more liable to deviate, inasmuch as self-control is difficult of attainment, while self-gratification continually solicits."
For the Belfast Monthly Magazine.
REPLY OF SOLON TO OBSERVATIONS ON HIS PAPER ON THE SUNDAY SCHOOL HOUSE.
To the proprietors of the B.M.M. AT the close of your monthly retrospect of politics for October last, I observed some very severe strictures on my reply to the concluding part of that article, for the preceding month, on the subject of the Sunday School-house then building.
To be replied to by argument, and with temper, is no matter of surprise to me, but to be attacked and abused with such virulence on that part of my paper, which was avowedly suppressed-and by my own consent suppressed, has excited a degree of astonishment in my mind which I never expected to feel at the conduct of the managers of the Belfast Magazine. Immediately after the publication of the number for October, I prepared and forwarded a remonstrance, and was told it was sent to one of your ma
nagers for judgment; but on the appearance of the next number, and finding no notice taken of it, I applied to you by note for the manuscript, and received for answer-you had never seen it. I also made application to the person to whom I was informed it had been sent, and from him I received a similar answer. The paper may have been lost without meeting the eye of ei ther-I therefore take the liberty of repeating some of the observations contained in it, which I hope for the sake of justice, and for the interest of the work you are concerned in, you will send forth to the world, and without mutilation allow it to be judged of by the public--and if it merits a reply, let it be answered in a cool and temperate manner, by argument, and not by abuse.
A few days after my reply to your Retrospective Politician was offered for publication, it was shown to me marked with a pencil in many places: those marked places, I was told, were by the person to whom it was sent for judgment, considered inadmissible, and that if I did not consent that those parts should be expunged, it would not be published. Observing that still enough remained to fully refute the observatrons which had been made, and wishing by a fair and candid statement to undeceive the public with respect to the real state of the fabric in question, I readily acquiesced in having the marked passages omitted.
From a thorough conviction that I could give no stronger proofs of candour and honest intentiou, than by submitting to have my paper curtailed, and that by the person whom I had good reason to suppose was the writer of the article to which it replied. Conceiving that what I had suffered to be suppressed, in justice and in reason, should have
been considered as if it never had been written, and that a manager of a periodical work not only replying to, but with acrimony attacking, that part of an essay he had not the candour to publish; and that part which the writer himself consented should be suppressed, takes an unfair advantage of his correspondents. Under all those circumstances, I have been induced to offer for insertion in your work which I esteem, this remonstrance against treatment which I am not alone in thinking both illiberal and unjust.
My respondent says, that whatever of argument was contained in my paper," has been published, and so far the rights of free discussion have been maintained." But provided we had disagreed on that point, and that I should have conceived he had marked for omission, what I considered argument essential to my purpose, and insisted on having all or none published. I ask him, would the rights of free discussion have been maintained by his refusal to give place to my reply? But considering that I did consent to the omission of the marked passages, were the rights of free discussion not invaded, by his endeavouring to divert the attention of the public from my reply, by observing on the parts suppressed and leading his readers to suppose that those parts were rancorous, personally abusive, railing, transgressing the bounds of decorum, and deserving of decided reprobation."I am decidedly convinced, that any paper really deserving of the castigation my unfortunate essay has undergone, is beneath the notice of the editor or manager of such a work as the Belfast Magazine, and that more justice would be done the writer by scouting it altogether, than by advising him to leave out part of it, publish part of it, and
then with virulence attack what the public may never have an opportunity of judging of.
Many well grounded complaints have been made that the Irish press has long been in a shackled and dependent state, and it was hoped from its prospectus, the Belfast Magazine would in some measure rescue it from that state of bondage under which it had laboured, but how far such treatment as I have received will tend towards that desirable purpose may be easily answered. If the managers set themselves up as supreme judges for the public, giving insertion only to productions of their own, or such as may fully meet their approbation,-or garble that which is in opposition to any opinion they may have hazarded, and attack their correspondents-prietors are determined to exercise not by arguments, but with abuse- the right of judging of papers offernot on what they have thought proed for admission into their pages, per to give to the public, but on and of rejecting such as they disapwhat they refuse to publish. I be prove, either in whole, or in part: lieve few will disagree with me otherwise, they must become mere when I say, that the rights of free cyphers, subject to the caprice of discussion have not been preserved, their correspondents, and liable to nor can the Belfast Magazine be con- publish what might be very unfit for sidered the champion of the Irish the public eye. The conductors of press but that so far as that work a periodical press must soon sink inis concerned, the rights of free dis- to slaves, if they are bound to pub. cussion have been annihilated and lish all that may be offered, even athe Irish press degraded-nor can buse of themselves, without any we complain of arbitrary governors, exercise of their own discretion. We and a keen scented attorney-generals should then have the licentiousness, being the only enemies to the liber- not the liberty of the press. Solon ties of the press. was informed, that if he did not agree to leave out parts of his former letter, which were judged unfit for publication, it would not be inserted. He acquiesced in the suppres sious, and admits that enough of argument still remained. It was only abuse which was left out, and whatsoever of argument his letter contained, was left untouched. No procedure we conceive could be fairer. The writer of the political retrospect conceives he was strictly
Be assured, Gentlemen, that had I not the highest respect for the Belfast Magazine, and the most ardent wishes for its success, I would not have put myself to the trouble of thus twice remonstrating against the treatment I have received. And I have taken the liberty of advising you, that my case may be the last of such a nature, more on account of the work, than for the sake of setting the public right respecting my
BELFAST MAG. NO. XXXI.
self; as every person I have had any conversation with on the subject (though unknown to be personally concerned) has "decidedly reprobated" the unjust attack made on
THE Proprietors of the Belfast Monthly Magazine, for this one ti e, admit Solon to appear without alteration, and give a sample of his abusive manner of treating those from whom he differs in sentiment, but until he learns to write with more coolness, they must decline his correspondence in future. The reader may judge from the specimen given in the present, of the intemperate style of his former letter. In violence of expression they have an exact resemblance. The pro