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plauded sect, and maintained with resolute and ardent pertinacity. Its author, as singular in the real or pretended magnanimity of his last hours*, as he was adventurous in the theory on which he founded his school, was extolled and honoured in his lifetime, followed by his pupils with reverence to his grave, and consigned to the glory of posthumous celebrity. He was proclaimed a god, because he had delivered men from the fear of the gods. His image was displayed on the cups and rings of his disciples, and exhibited in their chambers, and produced on their visits; and not only was his birthday distinguished by the solemnity of sacrifice, but a monthly feast was established in commemoration of his wisdom, and a statue of brass erected to perpetuate his name t. As other sects declined, his flourished. All Italy and Greece may be said to have embraced his school. The creed which he announced, continued to be taught, under the Emperors, by sophists, whose eloquence and whose erudition received, and were thought to merit, the recompence of ample stipends, and of public applause; and we may form some opinion of the state of individual and social morals, at the period when doctrines of such a character, instead of being rejected with detestation or contempt, were maintained with so much earnestness, and adopted with so much zeal.
participated, in this respect, the honours of Epicurus. Epictet. Dissertat. lib. ii. c. 20. Plato de Legib. lib. x.
* "I am dying," said he to his friends, " in the torture of a most afflicting disease. Yet this, the last, is also the happiest day of my life; and, whatever be my suffering, it is amply compensated by the recollection of the intellectual discoveries which have occupied so many years of my life." Cicero. de Fin. lib. ii. c. 30. + Cicero de Fin. lib: v. 1. Plin. Hist. Nat. lib. xxxv. c. 2.
II. The Stoic, who would have disdained a comparison with Epicurus, has been at least as inconsistent and extravagant in his doctrines, as that intrepid philosopher. He was, indeed, the most manly, stubborn, and uncompromising of all the moralists of antiquity. However imperfectly he may have explained the doctrine of obligation, he dilated with zeal and energy on the precepts of practical wisdom. Much of what he announced was wise and good. He taught by precept, and sometimes by example, the high virtues of patience and fortitude; that patience which calmly endures, and that fortitude which braves, or subdues, the evils of life. Justice, sobriety, temperance, and self-possession, were considered by him not as virtues of compact, but as essential in their nature, and indispensable in their obligation; and the volumes in which his school have treasured and perpetuated his doctrines, might afford precepts for the regulation of life and of the heart, not unworthy of the best and brightest system of moral truth. Yet this excellence of doctrine was frequently impaired by gross error, and unphilosophical hardihood. There was no distinction of crime and punishment; every violation of the law was of equal guilt, and, therefore, was to merit the same punishment. Though the superstition of the sect adopted, with facile faith, the most ludicrous details of gods and goddesses, no sanction of moral precept, and no encouragement to moral conduct, were deduced from the will and approbation of heaven. The sense of right and wrong, in the bosom of the wise man, was to be his rule and recompence.
In seipsum habere maximum potestatem, inestimabile bonum est suum fieri. This is added to the important clause-Non homines
There was in the gods neither the inclination nor the power to inflict evil; and, where there is no evil to be inflicted, there is no fear to be entertained*. The sage, accordingly, looks but to himself; he becomes his own God. Equal or superior to the deities in virtue, he is equal or superior to them in felicity t The death of his children, the servitude of his kindred, the oppression of his country, the destruction of his fellow-citizens, afflict not him. Jupiter and he are both wise; but Jupiter, who is wise only by the benefit and excellence of his nature, is excelled by him who is wise only by his own free and generous election.
In this more than co-equality with divine natures, the Stoic enjoys exemptions and privileges to which other men dare not aspire. Pain and sorrow, and the approach of death itself in its worst form, cannot shake the unconquerable fortitude of his spirit. He breathes and lives in an atmosphere high above the storms which agitate the world; and he can be diverted by no interposition of human or celestial
timere deos. Seneca. Epist. 75, fere ad fin. See also Antonin. Meditat. lib. vi. sect. v. lib. vii. sect. 70.
* Deus nemo sanus timet; furor est enim metuere salutaria. Senec. de Benefic. lib. iv. c. 19. Dii immortales nec volunt obesse, nec possunt. Senec. de Ira. lib. ii. c. 27. Nec accipere injuriam queant, nec facere. Epist. 95.
+ Sapiens cum Diis ex pari vivit. Deus non vincit sapientem in felicitate. Sen. Epist. 59, 73. Nulla re, nisi in immortalitate, quæ nihil ad beate vivendum pertinet, cedens cælestibus. Cicer. de Nat. Deor. See also Epictet. Dissertat. lib. i. c. 12. s. 2. Sit idem (sapiens) cæcus, debilis, morbo gravissimo adfectus, exsul, orbus, egens; quem hunc apellat Zeno? Beatum, etiam beatissiCicer. de Finib. lib. v. c. 28.
Appendix, Note B. B. B.
Cicer. de Nat. Deor. lib ii. § 24. De Fin. lib. v. 21.)
power, from his deliberate determination*. From a character so lofty in sentiment, if the sentiment were not false as well as lofty, we might justly expect a correspondent example; and the proud and marble portico of the temple might be considered as an indication of similar magnificence. in the rest of the structure. But he who judges by the promise, will often be disappointed by the performance; and the performance will be generally feeble, in propor, tion as the promise has been vain and loud. The invulnerable sage of the stoic †, the human deity who rests upon the sufficiency and independence of his own virtues, and whose happiness even the im, mortal gods cannot disturb, may, it seems, be subjected to the evils by which ordinary men may be assailed, and experience the privations of poverty, and the pangs of disease. Under such circumstances, is he to put on the panoply of his fortitude, and bravely and calmly to meet the foe? Is his patience, so vaunted, to be verified by his example, and his stoical virtues to be brightened by the heat of the crucible? On the contrary, the rules of his own phi
« * Tm προαίρεσιν મ ο Ζευς νικησαι δύναται.” See this lofty boast
of Epictetus more fully expressed, Dissertat. lib. i. c. 1. sect. 6. God, says that philosopher, elsewhere, has imparted to human nature a portion of his own faculties. He has not even reserved to himself the power of coercion. If he had done so, he would no longer be God. Dissertat. lib. i. c. 6. s. 6. ch. 17. §. 2. The moralist is a little mystical, but the presumption and vanity of the sectarist are sufficiently visible.
↑ This invulnerable sage may indulge in excess. Laert. lib. vii. segm. 26. Plut. In Vit. Caton. But he does not thereby diminish his invulnerability. "He is superior to error and deceit, not only when awake, but when asleep, or in the spleen, or surfeited by wine." Epictet. Dissertat. lib. ii. c. 17.
losophy permit, and encourage him, to make his escape from trials which he may not hope to subdue, or dare to endure. If the evil threaten to disturb the tranquillity of his mind, death is within his reach. If he have reason to suspect a change of fortune, the asylum of the grave is ready to receive him*. He holds in his own hands the panacea of all his evils, and he may legitimately and honourably apply the remedy to the sufferings which he may not be inclined to endure †. So ends the Stoic. Wise, magnanimous, a god. Feeble, impatient, a suicide. Imperturbable, even by the deities he adores. Subdued by the reality or approach of pain, and seeking the refuge of imbecility in the tomb. A sage, superior, except in immortality, to the inhabitants of heaven. A mortal, bending beneath the infirmities of nature, and the calamities of life, and desperately perishing by his own hand.
I do not mean to comment on these collisions of feebleness and presumption, on this boast of words
Cicero attributes similar language to Cato. De Fin. lib. iii. c. 18. Seneca is more explicit. Si multa occurrunt molesta, et tranquilitatem turbantia, emittit se; nec hoc tantum in necessitate ultima facit, sed cum primum illi cæperit suspecta esse fortuna. Epist. 58, 70.
+ The doctrine, in its utmost extent, was openly avowed. It was extolled and diffused by Seneca in almost all his writings. The two Plinys (Hist. Nat. lib. xxviii. c. 1. Epist. lib. i. c. 22.) embraced it in its full latitude. It is to be found in almost every page of Epictetus. Dissertat. lib. i. ch. 9. s. 4.; lib. i. c. 25. sect. 2.; lib. ii. c. i. s. 3.; lib. iii. c. 24. s. 5. &c. And even the sensible and upright Marcus Antoninus, excelled in this instance by the poet,
Rebus in adversis facile est contemnere vitam :
Fortiter ille facit qui miser esse potest
was faithful to this leading dogma of his school. Meditat. lib. iii. sect. 1.; lib. v. sect. 29.; lib. viii. sect. 17.; lib. x. sect. 8.