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in the Theaetetus, though without understanding how to interweave the more profound meaning of it into his composition. For Plato's principal object in that passage, which is to show how Socrates exercised an influence upon his disciples, not so much by teaching as by developing truth out of their own minds, is left entirely untouched by our composer, who adheres only to the consequence which follows from this; that according to a method of proceeding, exactly similar, Socrates succeeds with some pupils and not with others, by virtue of a divine ordinance or predetermination; and in illustrating this point he has fallen into a strange confusion and most perversely distorted amalgamation of this divine ordinance, and that personal presentiment which, with Socrates, becomes a heavenly voice; whence the passage in the Apology, where Socrates mentions this voice, is the second hinge upon which the whole of the little dialogue turns. It is very remarkable that in that passage in the Theaetetus Plato does not make Socrates say that that daemonic sign has ever prevented him admitting any one whomsoever to his society; intimating as it were by this, that he owed this privilege to all, and could not allow himself to feel a decided presentiment; hence there might easily be for a time among his hearers those who were incapable of drawing advantage from his philosophy. But he makes the voice come in then, and not before, when an unworthy disciple would attach himself, because, then certainly the inward feeling must have a voice to decide, whether the unworthiness is to be regarded as the effect of seduction from without, and the return of a genuine love for the true and good, or, conversely, the unworthiness arises from the victory
of the internal mature, and the return on the contrary is ungenuine. That Plato in that passage alludes to particular cases besides the Aristides whom he names, whether of the disciples of Socrates or his own, will be clear to every one, but even this particular allusion does not seduce him into going beyond the character which in the Apology Socrates attributes to that daemonic sign, I mean, that it was merely a warning sign. Our author on the contrary, while he enunciates this in almost literal conformity with what we find in the Apology, does, in the description itself, carelessly exceed this principle, for with him this sign appears as a power which comes regularly to the assistance of some persons and works influentially for them. This is indeed immediately attributable to his superficial and confused views of that passage in the Theaetetus, and more remotely, I doubt not, to the fact, that he foists upon the daemonic voice a particular and personal existence, and changes the daemonic feeling into a little daemon, a conception agreeable to no genuine Platonic passage, and which must be recognised as quite unsupportable, from the manner especially in which Socrates in the Apology contradicts the accusation brought against him of infidelity, as was there, we hope, satisfactorily shown. And as in other dialogues foisted upon Plato, it is found necessary for the most part to resort to little stories taken from antiquity or foreign parts, in order to disguise the poverty of the subject-matter, so in this, two stories are introduced about the power of this little daemon to foretell such results as must have depended entirely upon accidental circumstances; a power of which Plato never knew anything, and which is not even justified by the expressions of Xenophon. Probably, the composer suffered himself to be misled by a passage in the Euthyphro, in which that person connects with the voice of Socrates his own individual impulse, by virtue of which he predicts, in the Ecclesia, some accidental event or other. The two stories moreover present, in themselves, a sufficiently strange appearance. For one of them, which concerns a well-known Platonic personage, is not brought to an end, and we are left uncertain as to whether the author is to suppose it generally known, or whether he found it elsewhere in the same form, or whether he did not know how to extricate himself out of his talk when he had begun it. In the other, the voice cautions against an undertaking, the nature of which is utterly unknown to Socrates; not to mention that we have, it would seem, the wise man brought into company with very inferior people, and of a class which we do not find in Plato. - In other respects also, the bad imitator appears only too manifestly from under the mask he has put on. How badly the proposition is stated, or fails to be stated, out of the Euthydemus, that the art of politics rules over the works of all other arts How this Socrates accumulates in the most tedious manner, clumsily and at random aping the Socratic induction, examples which are no examples as they illustrate nothing, and is still never satisfied, but begins yet once again in just as tedious a form, only, to display a common knowledge of common things! How Theages, only that an opportunity may be given for harping upon a sentiment of Euripides, is obliged to delay bethinking himself that he does not really want to be a
tyrant, although he had previously admitted an inclination towards it, as if the innocent boy were a second Alcibiades or a Callicles, to whom, however, he bears otherwise no resemblance at all. And how Socrates twists the proposition for him under his own hands, as if he had now ceased to wish to be a statesman, and only desired to be a good citizen, without having instructed him in the slightest degree as to how far the two characters are identical or distinct ' But to enumerate all that is ill done, would be, as far as the subject-matter is concerned—for in much of the language there is Platonic colouring enough—to copy off the whole dialogue, and we would rather conclude with its character for brevity, and imitate it in this respect.
THE spuriousness of this little dialogue is proved with equal force by every thing we meet with in it from beginning to end, by its most outward dress, as well as by its most inward matter, in so far as it contains enough of the latter description. To go no further, it is evinced by the namelessness of the persons, the abrupt manner of Socrates in his opening questions, and the way in which, being himself the narrator, he concludes with the announcement of the general assent which was awarded to him. Still more, undoubtedly, every reader will discover upon a nearer view a general and utter absence of Platonic urbanity and irony, to which, however, the dialogue in its external form throughout makes immediately the most decided pretensions. The opposition between polite literature and gymnastics, never before laid down in such marked distinction, is here represented to the life in the persons of two uneducated fellows, who can scarcely be conceived to be lovers of Athenian boys of noble family, the one a kind of athlete, the other professedly a master of polite literature, though not a single polished word, nay, not even an harmonious sentence, though music is one of his accomplishments, is ever heard from him. If it is asked what is the proper subject-matter, we must look for it in the proposition that philosophy is not multiscience, for with this the dialogue begins, and concludes again with it, a distinction to which indeed the Platonic Socrates may refer occasionally, or treat of it ironically, when he has to deal with sophists who boast of their multiscience, but which Plato, after having written a single work, could hardly make the subject of a regular dialogue, unless he wished to work out some other matter under this disguise, or inculcate some further doctrine, and we look in vain for anything of this kind in the present instance. But even for Plato's first exercise, this dialogue, so awkward and unmeaning as it is, would be far too bad. For after Socrates has already allowed himself to admit, that only moderation in everything, and not excess, produces advantage, he does not at once draw the immediate consequence from this, that philosophy must therefore be a bad thing when it is multiscience, but passes first to a question which is here perfectly idle, and which again he lets drop at once in a manner which to a reader of Plato must appear utterly strange;