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THE NEW LEARNING

TO THE EDITOR OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY

SIR, -The charges nade against me by Mr. Paul in your December number would, if true, show me to be singularly unfit for my position as a teacher of Greek Language and Literature. If I thought that my writings would leave on the public in general the same impression as they have left on Mr. Paul, I can honestly say that I would not write another line. In private relations I know that neither my pupils nor my friends would ever connect me with the idea of irreverence towards the great authors whom it is the main purpose of my life to study.

I admit frankly that my History of Greek Literature contains some score of over-colloquial sentences, which I have wished to alter ever since I saw the book in print. It is not necessary for me to admit—it is obvious that it has also the defect almost inseparable from a history of literature; it gives the attempt of a man of mediocre intelligence to interpret the thoughts of men of transcendent genius. Beyond these admissions I do not plead guilty. I may or may not be lacking in taste, humour, and poetry. But I am not guilty of irreverence, nor yet of slapdash defiance of received views—the two points which Mr. Paul especially presses against me; and the pretended quotations by which he seeks to make his case are, almost without exception, either garbled or misinterpreted.

The charge of defying received views, not being made by a serious scholar, is of little weight. The main count in it is that I do not believe the Platonic Apology to be the speech delivered by Socrates in court. My defence is that I do not know of any competent authority who does, though I have just looked again through ten standard books dealing with the subject. If Mr. Paul will read Schanz's Introduction, I think he will abandon his little heresy.

Secondly, in speaking of the Constitution of Athens published among the works of Xenophon, I call the unknown author of that treatise • The Old Oligarch.' I bave often found bim so named in dissertations on the subject; and the only alternative title, The Pseudo-Xenophon,' is misleading, since it suggests the idea of forgery.

Thirdly, I think I am included in Mr. Paul's condemnation of Grote—and certainly I would sooner stand with the culprit than with the judge—for refusing to condemn all the Platonic letters in a body as spurious. I can only say that I have worked a good deal at the question, and that my views are similar to those of Christ, Zeller, and Blass. My position may show excessive caution, but I fail to see any flippancy or love of paradox in it.

Coming to the quotations, Mr. Paul might perhaps have mentioned that all he says about Thucydides' banishment, and much that he says about Plato, either come out of my book or else coincide with it in a remarkable way. The

passages which he explicitly quotes from me are seldom so near the original.

Mr. Paul says : Plato is labelled by Mr. Murray as "a witty and facile writer."! He is not so labelled. It is suggested that he must have been a witty and facile writer' in his early youth before he met Socrates and was converted to philosophy. * Few people care for Pindar now.' This is so quoted as to imply that it throws a slur on Pindar. It really occurs in a passage insisting on Pindar's consummate splendour as a poet, and urging readers to overcome the obstacles which block the way to him.

• Thucydides' style is an "absolute hodge-podge of ungrammatical and unnatural language.' This is going rather far! What I really say is that it is incredible to me—as it is to Dr. Rutherford and several of the leading scholars in Europe that Thucydides should, in the midst of his grand and terse writing, have fallen every now and again into the ‘hodge-podge,' which I think is produced by putting too great confidence in the MS. tradition.

* The Symposium and the Phædrus have, it seems, a "certain glamour," which even the New Learning has to recognise and cannot explain away.' My words are: "Two dialogues which stand apart, even in Plato, for a certain glamour that is all their own.' And if Mr. Paul, if any human being, will read the pages in which those words occur, I defy him to persuade himself that I am either grudging or irreverent in the homage I give to Plato (pp. 301-303).

Next comes a complicated and pointless misrepresentation. ““ Aristotle and the rest of us," as Mr. Murray modestly says, " who are not in peril from our excess of imagination,” may make allowance for Plato. Aristotle did nothing of the sort.' And I said nothing of the sort. I said just the opposite—that Aristotle complained of Plato's condemnation of poetry, a well-known fact, which is apparently new to Mr. Paul. And I comment on Aristotle's attitude both by the phrase here quoted, and by mentioning later on that the over-critical disciple nevertheless built an altar and a shrine to Plato.

There are, however, three statements, quoted more or less correctly, which leave Mr. Paul in some doubt as to my sanity.

«« The dreams that came to lure Xerxes to his ruin,” says the Professor, " require more personal affidavits to substantiate them." To a man who can write like that, Herodotus must be as a picture to the blind, or a concert to the deaf.' The sentence really occurs in a statement of the current objections made against Herodotus's historical accuracy, preliminary to my defence of him! Does Mr. Paul really refuse my right to consider Herodotus as an historian at all ?

6. Plato amused his friends with a new kind of literature, the Mimic.” I confess that when first I read this choice sentence I thought the Professor must be confounding Plato Philosophus with Plato Comicus.

The Phædo,

it as a Mime.' This last argument is like saying, 'Shakespeare wrote comedies; therefore Macbeth, it seems, is a comedy;' and the word 'mimic' in the sentence which Mr. Paul read twice is a misquotation for mime.' But as to the main point, the only fault lies with Mr. Paul's quondam schoolmaster. The young Plato's imitations of the Mimes of Sophron are mentioned by nearly every writer dealing with the subject, from Aristotle and Diogenes Laertius to Jevons and. Croiset. But I do not wish to be hard upon that schoolmaster!

In the next point Mr. Paul's approach to accuracy is less close. He writes : One of Plato's errors, we are told, he perhaps shared with Shakespeare. It was to hate his fellow-men. This amazing piece of criticism is enough in itself to establish the fame of the New Learning.' My real words are: 'Plato speaks in the Phædo of men who are made misanthropic by disappointment. It is bad, that, to hate your fellow-men; but it is worse to hate reason and the ideal.He fell, like Carlyle, perhaps like Shakespeare, into the first error; he never came near the second.' That is a very different statement. And on turning again to the Gorgias, to Timon of Athens, to Troilus and Cressida, I feel, not amazement,' but certainly some surprise, that anyone should care to deny it. I may add that before printing the phrase I consulted, and obtained the approval of, the best Shakespearian scholar known to me.

Lastly, there are two imperfect quotations about Aristophanes, which Mr. Paul professes to find contradictory. I will not occupy your space by correcting him

seems,

further. But I will venture to ask him to read them again, and to exercise a little more care and consideration in forming his opinions of a book which is the result of many years of constant and, I think, conscientious thought.

I wish that in disposing of these particular charges I could equally operate on the vivid distaste with which Mr. Paul is affected by me and all my works. If balf of what he says is true, I must indeed be one of those whose souls stink even above the river of pitch,' but I cling to a faint hope that he does not really me what he says, and that his diatribe is merely an instance of that desire to be witty • which leadeth astray the minds even of the wise.'

Yours obediently,

GILBERT MURRAY.

mean

SIR,- Professor Murray's letter seems to require a brief reply. I have not charged him with incompetence or inaccuracy, or with defying received views,' which would not necessarily be a charge at all. I have simply protested against the tone and style in which he deals with Greek literature.

I pass over the Professor's statement that I am not a serious scholar,' because I do not know what it means. If it means that my criticisms are not worth answering, why does he try to answer them? Nor shall I defend my old tutor, whom the Professor in his hybrid dialect calls my quondam schoolmaster.' He was a much greater man than either of us, and needs no defence from me.

I will now take Mr. Murray's points, such as they are, one by one.

(1) I did not complain of Mr. Murray for saying that Plato's Apology of Socrates was not the actual speech which Socrates delivered. It may or may not be. I do not know, nor does Mr. Murray. Nor does Schanz. I require no introduction to the Apology. I was introduced to it long ago. Mr. Murray says in his book that it is not a speech for a real court, nor an answer to a legal accu-, sation.' I say it is both. Anybody can see for himself which of us is right by reading it. It may be the most disgraceful ignorance on my part, but the only two authorities for the Life of Socrates that I know are Plato and Xenophon. The Platonic Apology answers to Xenophon's description that it was designed rather to aggravate than to conciliate the jury. Mr. Murray does not seem to know what an authority' means. How can a German or a Scottish Professor be an authority for what happened at Athens in the fourth or fifth century before Christ? There can be no authority for the trial of Socrates which is not more than two thousand pears old. If, however, Mr. Murray cares for the opinion of modern authors, I will give him the names of four eminent scholars who believed the Apology of Socrates to be the actual speech delivered by Socrates. Three of them, he will be pleased to hear, are Germans. Their names are Schleiermacher, Ueberweg, Zeller and Grote. I should not like to go so far. But I utterly refuse to believe that Plato, who heard the real speech, composed a false one, and published it when the words of Socrates were fresh in the memories of Athenians. Mr. Murray might as well tell me that the Synoptic Evangelists concocted the Sermon on the Mount. That may be the latest and smartest view for all I know or care.

(2) I said nothing about Mr. Murray's opinion, which he bas a perfect right to hold, that some of the letters attributed to Plato are genuine and others spurious. Having an old-fashioned belief in style, I cannot think that Plato wrote any of them. But that is neither here por there.

(3) I was familiar with Thucydides before Mr. Murray wrote a book or became a Professor, and I have not consciously borrowed anything from him, except what I have enclosed in quotation marks. All my quotations from him are correct, except for one misprinted word.

(4) Mr. Murray calls Plato a 'witty and facile writer' without any qualifica tion. He objects to my saying that he so · labels Plato. I will substitute the word. libels,' if he likes that better.

(5) I cannot find any passage in which Mr. Murray urges his readers to overcome the obstacles which block the way'to Pindar.

(0) I cannot make out from Mr. Murray's letter, or from his book, whether he believes that Thucydides did, or that he did not, write the History which bears his name.

But I gather that if he did, Mr. Murray has a poor opinion of his style. This opinion I do not share. If he did not, I fail to see how we can form

any opinion about him. But Mr. Murray does say that an absolute hodge-podge of ungrammatical and unnatural language' occurs not here and there in Thucydides, but on every third page.' He also says that Thucydides, as we know him, and as he has been known since the revival of learning, 'mixes long passages of masterly expressions with short ones of what looks like gibberish.' Such criticism requires no comment. It condemns itself.

(7) Mr. Murray denies having said that ““ Aristotle and the rest of us, who are not in peril from our excess of imagination,” may make allowance for Plato.' Mr. Murray's actual words are, 'will very properly deplore Plato's want of appreciation.' I submit that I have not misrepresented him. I am acquainted with Aristotle's criticisms

upon Plato's treatment of poetry. But I do not agree with Mr. Murray's description of them.

(8) If Mr. Murray says that the sentence about the dreams of Xerxes requiring affidavits to support them expressed not his own opinion but somebody else's, I of course believe him. But there is nothing in the text to show this. The next sentence is, “The debate of the seven Persians on Monarchy, Oligarchy, and Democracy, though Herodotus stakes his reputation upon it, has been too much for almost every believer.' Surely that is Mr. Murray's own. How was I to know that the previous sentence was not ?

(9) I will give Mr. Murray the pleasure of confessing that my ignorance of • Mimes’ is extensive and peculiar. I am not quite sure that the English language would be incomplete without the word. I am sorry that the printer struck and made Plato a Mimic instead of a Mimer. But if a Mime means a philosophical dialogue, I do not know the meaning of language.

(10) Mr. Murray's logic. Timon hated mankind. Shakespeare drew Timon. Therefore Shakespeare hated mankind. Q. E. D. Surely rather Q. E. A. Is Iago Shakespeare's portrait by himself?

Mr. Murray is quite mistaken in supposing that I have a 'vivid distaste for him and all his works. I have not the honour of his personal acquaintance, and I only know one of his works. If I have annoyed him, I am sorry. I was not thinking of him, but of the great authors whom he seemed to me to have mishandled. I have expressly acknowledged his learning and ability. They make his book the more influential, and therefore, in my opinion, the more dangerous. Professor Murray's position in the world of scholarship is too high to be affected by adverse comment upon the obvious faults of a brilliant and clever book. If he will take a word of advice from a sincere well-wisher, I would entreat him to try reading the classics without a commentary, to use his own mind instead of other people's, to remember that even Wilamowitz-Moellendorf is not infallible, and to realise that there is nothing which cannot be expressed in the English language.

Yours obediently,

HERBERT PAUL.

The Editor of THE NINETEENTH CENTURY cannot undertake

to return unaccepted MSS.

THE

NINETEENTH

CENTURY

No. CCLII_FEBRUARY 1898

BARKING HALL: A YEAR AFTER

A SEQUEL TO THE HIGH OAKS’I

Still the sovereign trees

Make the sundawn's breeze
More bright, more sweet, more heavenly than it rose,

As wind and sun fulfil
Their living rapture: still

Noon, dawn, and evening thrill
With radiant change the immeasurable repose

Wherewith the woodland wilds lie blest
And feel how storms and centuries rock them still to rest.

Still the love-lit place

Given of God such grace
That here was born on earth a birth divine

Gives thanks with all its flowers
Through all their lustrous hours,

From all its birds and bowers
Gives thanks that here they felt her sunset shine

Where once her sunrise laughed, and bade
The life of all the living things it lit be glad.

'See Nineteenth Century, Scptember 1896, Terses written jur live birth day of the

author's mother.

Vol. XLIII-No. 252

N

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