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sions, and that, notwithstanding, there is nothing in it too difficult or too profound and obscure even for the least prepared tyro. But we know that both in ancient and modern times many authors, themselves unable to invent anything original, have, not without success, elaborated introductions to the wisdom of others, and thus this opinion of learned men might continue to stand in full possession of all its honour and dignity, with reference to the present dialogue, even though before the judgment-seat of a quick-sighted and accurate criticism the work should be discovered not be one of Plato's. It is, indeed, but little profitable to be the first to communicate doubts of this kind, and to explain the grounds of them; for the faculty of critical perception is but sparingly distributed, and among those, perhaps, who are not deficient in this respect, an accurate knowledge of the author, without which, however, a judgment cannot be formed, is still more rare. And then come at once the great multitude of those who, incapable of investigations of this kind, proceed in defence of what is traditional in such a manner as neither to instruct or satisfy us. And yet these are the men to whom, after those afore-mentioned, he who suggests such doubts as those of which we speak has to look. In the present instance, however, it is imperative upon us not to shrink from declaring our opinion upon the dialogue in question. And therefore, let us once for all undertake to say, that this little work, which, with those who are accustomed to admire in the gross, has been ever a subject of most especial commendation, appears to us but very insignificant and poor, and that to such a degree, that we cannot ascribe it to Plato, even though any number of those who T T

think they can swear to his spirit, profess most vividly to apprehend it in this dialogue. We will, however, only declare our opinion, without making any very great exertions to gain over others to coincide with it; and we intend now, only to establish generally the main points upon which it depends, and in the annotations, occasionally to point to the particular instances tending to confirm it. Every reader may then take it as he will, and others to whom it may seem worth the trouble, can turn the subject over and over, and bring the conclusion more home to the apprehension and judgment of readers in general. First of all then, we venture to prophesy that one thing in particular, if we can trust to our own feelings in any respect, must strike an attentive reader already acquainted with the spirit of Plato; that the dialogue upon a first perusal of it, will leave upon his mind an impression of singular want of uniformity to which he is totally unaccustomed. Particular passages, very beautiful and genuinely Platonic, may be found sparingly dispersed, and floating in a mass of worthless matter, consisting partly of little broken dialogues busied about nothing, partly of long speeches. Of these, the first is so tedious that the god, when, as it seems, he resolved especially to defer the colloquial meeting of Socrates and Alcibiades until an opportunity had arrived for delivering these speeches, did neither of them any very great service. The second, with a display of strange statistical notices, celebrates Persian and Lacedaemonian virtues and riches; the virtues more in the manner of Xenophon than Plato; the riches and luxurious pomp, for the reason that no irony can be discovered in these laudatory descriptions, in a style throughout unsocratic. Accordingly, the reader will also feel himself utterly unsatisfied, and regret that he has been compelled to wade through useless digressions raised upon the most trifling subjects, and that on the contrary, most important matter is superficially passed over, or, so to speak, the cup is broken before it is tasted. If then, after this first impression has been overcome, he thinks to inquire more closely into the real meaning of the dialogue, if such there be, he will feel at a loss where to turn, and will certainly allow first of all, that the work contains extremely little upon the subject which the second title of it professes, I mean that it is to treat of the nature of man. Viewed from without, the whole bears in its construction a kind of false resemblance to certain dialogues contained in our second part. For these, so to speak, have first of all an external thema, expressly enunciated, and yet forming to a certain degree only the shell of the whole, and then another concealed one, connected with the former, and containing more profound results. And thus, in the present case, it might be considered as the external thema, that Socrates is to prove to Alcibiades that he must acquire from him other kinds of knowledge previously to devoting himself to the conduct of public affairs, and, on the other hand, all that Socrates brings into the argument with a view to establishing this proof, might be taken to be the proper core of the dialogue. But even the first point is not brought out pure and distinct; for in the first place, Socrates does not show that he alone has the power of teaching Alcibiades what he stands in need of, and in the next, again, he goes beyond this thema, and by way of conclusion, is induced to make some remarks

upon education in general. And still less does the matter intermediately introduced constitute of itself a complete and regular core. For that Alcibiades has neither discovered nor learnt what is just, that what is just and useful is the same, and then again that Pericles, though an excellent statesman, and here more than ever in any other Platonic dialogue, extolled without a trace of irony, has, notwithstanding, imparted his sagacity to no one, all these points have no connection whatever with one another, and each stands where it is, only in its loose external relation to Alcibiades' imperfect state of mind. Finally, we must not imagine for a moment, that in these speeches some philosophical secrets or other are intended to be contained. On the contrary, though many genuine Platonic doctrines are very closely connected with what is here said, not even the slightest trace of them is to be met with. Thus, Alcibiades might have extricated himself out of a very inconvenient dilemma by the slightest mention of the doctrine of recollection; again, other matter is connected with the distinction between knowledge and conception; but in both instances these references are left totally untouched, and we are only reminded in the most external manner by one passage of the Laches, of the Gorgias by another, and of the Protagoras again by a third. It must, however, be allowed that the majority of readers have not looked for the secret treasure and proper end of the dialogue in these speeches, but rather in the little that is here said at the end, upon the necessity of self-knowledge. Now, this does certainly come forward at first with many pretensions to profundity, but presently turns to the most superficial matter, and we are obliged to put up with a few perfectly vulgar sentiments, which we find elsewhere expressed with much more elegance. Accordingly, if we are to name something as the proper subject-matter of the dialogue, scarcely anything else remains but the insight into the nature of the god-head, which is recommended as a means for the knowledge of man, but our dialogue is incapable of discussing this subject except in the most meager style ; so that the morsel seems in fact not worth the whole apparatus, independent of the fact, that the particular members of this apparatus are not in any way connected with it. Neither in the composition, generally, does any trace appear of such an inward relation of every detail to one single point as we find elsewhere in Plato. It is equally in vain to look here for the strict dogmatic connection which we find in the Sophist and Philebus, or even for that apparent passiveness of Socrates in the conduct of the dialogue, under which every thing seems so much the more to grow purely out of the subject itself. On the contrary, Socrates intrudes in mere caprice, and drags out one thing after another, generally, though he makes many words, breaking off the subject shorter than is his custom, and only applying, in fact, every point to shame his interlocutor, so that the whole acquires an eristic character, which no other Platonic dialogue bears with it in a similar manner. And when we reflect that the interlocutor so rudely treated is not a sophist, who is to be exposed in his worthlessness, nor even a boy who must be content to be the object of a little bantering for the profit and advantage of others, nay, not only a noble Athenian, but that Alcibiades, who is universally celebrated by Plato as the richly

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