Page images

perceiving what was done, brought out the prisoners and proceeded to a judicial investigation. Upon close inquiry, they found that Phrynichus was a betrayer of the city, and that his assassins were unjustly contined; a decree therefore passed, on the motion of Critias, that the dead body should be put on trial for treachery, and upon conviction, should not be allowed burial in the country, but that the bones, disinterred from their place of sepulture, should be conveyed out of Attica... A further decree passed, (we have pinched ourselves like Abon Hassan, and believe that we write broad awake,) that any persons undertaking the defence of the defunct, and not making their purpose good, should suffer the sume penalties. The 'orator then proceeds to state, that two persons, Aristarchus and Alexicles, undertook the defence, and that failing to establish Phrynichus's innocence, they were put to death, and their bones refused burial in the country of Attica. Nor was this a solitary instance; for the orator clenches his argument by asserting that on all occasions where the same

crime had been committed, the same punishment * had been inflicted.

There wanted but two things more to complete this mockery of a judicial system; and what were they?--that shame should be lost, and punishment be impossible, with those upon whom the execution of its functions fell. And for this too, the forms of the Greek democracies admirably provided; for-the votes were secret,t and the dicast was irresponsible-every other magistrate was

subject Where neither the living nor the dead body was in their hands, the Athenians took vengeance on the statue of the offender (Lyc. 222.); and even when this means of satisfying an impotent anger failed, they contrived not to go without their vengeance. On such occasions, we have the joint assurance of Demosthenes—(Dem. 73, 4.) and Isocrates (542.), that it was not unusual for those who came first to hand, to suffer that punishment which was due to the guilty who kept out of the wayDem. 73, 4.) And these, forsooth, are the wonder-working radicals, whom our countrymen are to

† The mischief of thus protecting judicial incapacity or corruption could not escape the eyes of discerning men at Athens, and, accordingly, we find the Greek orators occasionally endeavouring to correct the evil by such slender means as lay in their power. Pleaders of Lysias's stamp confined themselves to assuring the judges, that however concealed their suffrages might be for the time, they could not but eventually become - known, and the same animadversion or resentment attend them, as if they had been given with the utmost publicity-(441.) Men of loftier character, like Lycurgus and Demosthenes, appealed to those deeper feelings which lie at the bottom of the human breast, and by which the judges were reminded, that however secret their suffrages might be to men, there were higher powers before whose scrutinizing gaze and ken they stood manifest and open. But the practice itself was too sacred a privilege of the sovereign people for any to be found hardy enough to impugn or endeavour to invalidate it. It appears from the Greek orators, (t. jji. 63. iv. 42. i. 715.) that the secret ballet was not confined to the courts of law; it was occasionally used in the legislative assemblies; and in all, it may be presumed, with much the same consequences ; measures were thereby proposed and carried, of such a nature, that the very men, who did not scruple to protect them by their roles,

copy !



subject to the Euthynë; the dicast stood alone : po law could touch him: He was, as we once before observed, HIMSELF THE

Such were some of the plain and palpable defects of this ancient jurisprudence; and manifest as they are to a modern eye, abundant reason has been shown why the men of Athens themselves should not incline to be so clearsighted to them. The business of the law-courts furnished the great body of the people with a subsistence, as informers, as witnesses, or as judges; and the idle and the ingenious found in them a perpetual source of amusement. In times of war, these courts appear to have been occasionally shut; but in peace they were always open, and an unlucky speculation it would have been for the philosopher or statesman who proposed to abridge their time of duration. To have reached the age of maturity, and not to have been in the courts of law, either from business or curiosity, was an event which was told as a phenomenon;I and well it might be, when we consider the passion, little short of phrenzy,s with which the great body of the city regarded them.


were for very decency's sake constrained to denounce and condemn them by their tumultuous voices (Dem. 142.) An appeal, it is true, lay in some of these cases (Dem. 1375.) from the legislative to the judicial body; but this was nothing more than an appeal among ourselves from the chancellor sitting in bis own court to the same chancellor sitting in the House of Lords, with this substantial difference, indeed, that the appeal is made in the one case to a functionary, whose very individuality and high supremacy almost put it beyond his power to be guilty of an unworthy or illegal act,' while the other was made to a numerous court, of whom it would be no great injustice to assert, that if of two decisions they were right in one, it was almost a moral certainty they were wrong in the other; not but among the cabals and factions of Athens, ingenious men might be found who could dexterously contrive to make them err in both.

. It is in a full feeling of this irresponsibility that the old dicast in the Wasps' chuckles over the success of his smaller knaveries.

• Some father is gone,--dead,-defunct--well anon!

leaves a girl, good ;-an heiress, much better;-
The old put would confer a companion on her,

and his will leaves him drawn to the letter.
Lords of locks, seals, and keys, straight the parchments we seize,

while a codicil neatly appended,
Cheats the wary and wise; and the girl's made a prize

to some youngster, who's better befriended.'-- vol. ii. p. 227. Detestable as this practice was, Isæus assures us that it was one of ordinary occurrence in Athens. Του δε συμβαίνοντος έστι και γραμματείoν αλλαγήναι, και ταναντία ταϊς σού τεθνεώτος διαθήκαις μεταγραφήναι.-t. iii. p. 75. t

"tell Cleon our need:
Brief and speedy, mind, be your narration ;-
We've a traitor, town-hater, a mischief-creator,
A cut-purse of causes, of suits an abater,
Who'd shut up the courts and leave Athens to sate her

The year through with a twelvemontli's vacation.'— Aristoph.
Lysias, 656. Isocrates, 455.
Ś As such it is described by the two slaves, who so cautiously open to the audience
the intended business of the comedy of the Wasps; and of an exquisite colloquy, of

Like Boniface in the play, a true dicast ate law, drank law, slept upon law. His whole senses were mere channels* for letting in some reference to his favourite pursuit; and his very mind was a sort of kaleidescope presenting only different combinations of legal forms, legal associates, or legal profits. Law was the first word he heard when he came into the world ; life and judicial employment were convertiblet terms; and there were moments of enthu. siasm, when a dicast looked forward to dissolution itself without regret: for why? of two things it must necessarily be the cause of law; it might transport him to the isles of the blest, there to continue the task which he had performed on earth; or, at any rate, it might convert him into that piece of marble on which his fellow dicasts were wont to cast the shells that expressed their suffrages and votes.

The Roman Pontifical commanded the crosier staff to be worshipped with that degree of adoration which is termed harpela; but scarcely did the Pope in his utmost plenitude of power exact for the crosier staff a deference more profound, than Democracy did for the staff or sceptre which the Athenian dicast bore as the emblem of his office. And democracy was right. The dicasterium was her throne; and the colossal figure, which her favourite poet drew for her favourite minister, might with a little variation be adapted to herself when seated there.

We leave it to Mr. Gibbon to call Democracy · the blackest fiend of hell."** Mr. Gibbon was a rude man, who did not know

which we much regret that our limits do not permit us to extract the version now before us.

See once more the Wasps. The affected contempt of the old dicast in his cups for the terms of the law grew out of the favourite language of his more sober moments : half the puns of the lower Athenians (and no people more indulged in puns) were derived from the expressions of the law-courts.

+ Aristoph. in Lysist. 380.
* Thus in the Wasps,

• I seem in Fancy's eye
To the Blest Isles to fly,
There the great task to ply,

Of judge and jury.'--p. 233.
$'Or, what were better far,

Turn me that stone into,
On which the robe and bar

Suffrage and sea-shell throw.'—p. 201. || See the third act of the Wasps throughout, where the father details all the advanages and privileges of a dicast, the son taking notes in his tablets, that he may answer with more propriety.

Phil. Åt your word off I go, and at starting I'll show,

convincing the stiffest opinion;
That regalia and ihrone, sceptre, kingdom and crown,

are but dirt to judicial dominion.' &c. &c.
Aristoph. in Equit. 75-9.
** Letter from Lausanne,


the decorums due to sex and age. Democracy is to us only as an antiquated dowager, whose best days have long been gone by. But Aristophanes had to cope with her when she was full of bread, in the prime and lustihood of youth. It was then he stole her sceptre from her hand, and laid her regalities in the dust; but, like a cunning thief, he tickled her sides and made her laugh while he did it.

He made the desperate passes while he smiled.' "He was in truth one of those men, who seem born as it were to look QUACKERY in the face, and laugh or frighten her out of her absurdities. In politics and in poetry, in philosophy and in morals he crossed the impostor's path; and wherever he was the assailant, there also he was the victor. Of the matter which grew out of this enterprizing disposition, we have from time to time submitted various specimens to our readers; his manner we leave to be learned from himself. To think that the Greek language in general, or the language of Aristophanes in particular, is to be known by translation, is to creep down to Margate in a steamboat, and return with an idea that we have seen the wonders of the deep

Art. IV.-An Essay on the Nature and Design of Scripture Sa

crifices. By the late James Nicol, Minister of the Parish of Traquair, near Peebles. 8vo. pp. 408. London. 'HIS is the production of a minister of the Church of Scotland,

who seems to have dedicated his leisure hours to the composition of several elaborate tracts and essays in support of Unitarian doctrines. He continued in communion with that church to the day of his death, and left these works as posthumous proofs of his gross insincerity and want of principle. The conduct of the man who ministers at the altar, and professes to teach his tlock doctrines to which he neither gives credit nor attaches importance, is sufficiently flagitious; but the mean guilt is greatly aggravated if, as was the case with Mr. Nicol, he deliberately avails himself of the opportunities afforded by his station, and devotes the retirement and leisure secured to him by his clerical appointment to the promulgation of doctrines subversive of the church that feeds him. This man continued from the pulpit to hold the usual language of his brethren, from whom in his closet he entirely dissented; and after living in the unrecanted profession of The Confession of Faith, without signing which he would not have been admcd to the duties of his office, died and left behind him convincing proofs that he bad long regarded as heretical, and her faith absurd. As we have thus unequivocally expressed our own opinions respecting such conduct, it is but. fair to adduce what the biographer of Mr. Nicol (an Unitarian teacher in Glasgow) alleges in extenuation of it.

If any who peruse this 'work should wonder that the author continued to adhere to a church, the confession of whose faith was so different from his own, let him be informed, that our author did indeed contemplate his removal from the establishment of his native country, as a sacrifice which was due to the Author of Truth, and one which it is believed, if providence had spared his useful life, he would very cheerfully however painfully have made. It is much to be regretted that he was not enabled, as he proposed, to superintend the publication of his valuable treatises on “ Adam's Apostacy”

“ 'The existence and nature of, the Devil"_" On Faith"_“ On Justification"-And “ On the Unity of God, in which the doctrine of the Trinity is considered and proved to be equally contrary to Reason and Scripture.")

When we add to these the work which we have placed at the head of this article, in which he proposed to enter the lists with the deeply learned and judicious defender of the doctrine of the atonement, but imparibus armis,' we must see that his resolution to quit his church was far posterior in time to his conviction of her errors; that, though his opinions had changed, his will remained adhesive and unconvinced. In fact, were it not for the baseness of such conduct, it would be amusing to consider the delusion of the man who, under such circumstances, could labour to prove the doctrine of the Trinity contrary to Reason and Scripture, and forget how far more difficult a task it would be to reconcile his own conduct either with the dictates of reason or the positive commands of the Bible.

We are convinced that the ground of the Socinian controversy has not been sufficiently cleared as yet;—and that most of its heretical fallacies have arisen from confounding the mutual relation which Reason and Revelation bear to each other, and from the want of accurate definition of their respective provinces. God has implanted in the human breast an ardent love of knowledge which, properly regulated, is admirably adapted for the moral and political improvement of mankind. To its impulses we must ascribe the progress which man has made in the improvement of his talents and the extension of the sphere of his enjoyment. All that is elegant in art and profound in science; all that in domestic life is an addition to our comforts, or a remedy for our wants, has originated in the proper use of

Without it, man would have been content to grovel on the surface of the earth, the companion and the equal of the



« PreviousContinue »