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sither suppose I must be prepare identified his
and altogether well adapted to weigh with a cultivated audience; so that we must either suppose Thucydides to have violated historical and dramatic propriety, or must be prepared to modify the view with which Dr. Thirlwall has so resolutely identified him, self. Cleon's treatment of the Lacedæmonian ambassadors Mr. Grote willingly gives up: feeling as we do that in a commonwealth, where publicity is the order of the day, grave abuses of the privilege may occur without reflecting any peculiar discredit on the politician who commits them. We wish he had shown the like forbearance in speaking of the subsequent proceedings about Pylos, where it would have been equally possible to set up a defence, without injuring his cause by over-statement. If the account of Thucydides is to be taken as in every way corresponding to the facts, it can hardly be doubted that it was something more than personal merit or prudent foresight which enabled čleon to fulfil the charge thrust upon him. The undertaking may have been a feasible one, but he was not the man in whose hands it could be expected to prosper. His true sphere, as Mr. Grote has elsewhere pointed out, was not the field, but the assembly, though he may not always have been able to decline those sterner duties which public opinion at Athens seems to have exacted from every bona fide aspirant after political fame. We need not blame him for seeking to decline the offer which his unguarded language provoked, any more than we need seriously condemn his opponents for availing themselves of the advantage which he afforded to them: but we cannot but feel that after this it can have been no disparagement to him to dwell chiefly on the good fortune which, by blessing him with a distinguished colleague and other favourable contingencies, enabled him to get through the affair creditably, instead of failing through his personal incompetency, as was apparently the case at Amphipolis. Thucydides, as usual, looks at the proceeding from his own point of view; and writers like Mitford, who have followed him, have been inconsistent with themselves and with probability, in their eagerness to blacken the character which they hated. The aspect on which Aristophanes has fixed is not incompatible with that taken by Thucydides, who, as Mr. Grote should have remembered, is equally one of the laughers after
the fact;? but it is, at any rate, quite independent of and unconnected with it; so that the counsel for the defence may fairly argue that whatever may be the force of the two charges, neither the one nor the other is such as would necessarily occur even to a prejudiced witness. Still, though we need not believe that the Athenians pressed on the matter, merely as a joke, to damage a man whose influence with them is just before said to
Rehabilitation of Cleon.
have been unrivalled, we can hardly doubt that his friends must have thought it a hazardous experiment, or that the cheers with which Mr. Grote takes pleasure in imagining him to have been overwhelmed on his return, were given in honour of an escape rather than of a success. It would be too much, however, to suppose, with ordinary historians, that his good fortune can have had any weight in confirming him in his war policy. Doubtless he must personally have been greatly elated by the result of his expedition in proportion to the hesitation with which he undertook it: nor is it any scandal to conceive that a man of his temper would naturally, in his subsequent appeals to the people, make use of the political capital which he had so unexpectedly realised. But it is not likely that he rushed of his own accord into a second expedition, in the hope of doubling the credit acquired by the first; though, finding it forced on him by circumstances, he may have consoled himself with a belief that his good genius would not desert him. Proud as he might have been of bis laurels, he cannot have been unwilling to repose on them, as he seems actually to have done during the year which followed Sphacteria ; content to have it fancied that he could take a command if he chose, while he really went on strengthening his influence by other means. Mr. Grote, we think, has again been a little unreasonable in contending that, as a man of peace, he can have had no personal wish for the continuance of the war. Thucydides is, of course, no authority on the question of an opponent's motives; and when he speaks of the war as giving occasion for unscrupulous calumnies, we feel at once that be is thinking of his own case. Again, we would not underrate the force with which Mr. Grote shows, from Grecian history, that, in some points of view, a peace policy was more suitable to a demagogue's purposes. Still the fact remains, that the democratic party were as anxious for war as their opponents for peace, and we naturally presume that the principles of each were, in some measure, dictated by their interests. The truth clearly is, that the cause of progress at Athens had come to be identified with the continuance of a war which had been provoked by the measures of her most liberal statesman, at once imperialising abroad and democratic at home; while the friends of oligarchy were not merely by implication, but actually and consciously, the friends of Sparta, inheriting those notions about the domestic advantages of a balance of power which gave point to Cimon's Pan-Hellenic patriotism. It is possible that the same instinct which led Cleon to desire a Peloponnesian war, might have made him, under other, perhaps under ordinary circumstances, equally interested in preserving peace. As it is, we have only to remark, that the subsequent history of the war quite bears out what we have just said of the feelings of the respective parties. With regard to Cleon's own conduct at Amphipolis, Mr. Grote merely puts in a plea of guilty, hoping that his client may be recommended to mercy, on the ground of having done no more than other incompetent men would have done in the face of a disaffected soldiery and a powerful enemy. No other alternative seems to be left to those who accept the narrative of Thucydides: and, after all, it may be said, that the verdict will bear lightly on one who had to be judged, not by his military, but by his political merits. It may be worth while, however, to observe, especially as the point has escaped the notice of Mr. Grote, that gross cowardice and inaptitude for command are not included among the catalogue of misdeeds which Aristophanes imputes to Cleon. As in the Knights we hear much of Cleon's knavery in the matter of Pylos, but nothing of his ludicrous inefficiency; so in the Peace his death is mentioned along with that of Brasidas solely to show that the two great promoting causes of the war had been removed, without a word about his misconduct in the action. The poet had no occasion to panegyrise the Spartan general: but it is difficult to understand how it is that throughout his works he contrives to miss the opportunity of fixing on his old enemy a fresh stigma, of which he already knew the capabilities, having applied it successfully to others. Though he affects to spare the dead man, he does not dismiss him without a few contemptuous lines; and one of these would have been sufficient to associate for ever the names of Cleon and Cleonymus. We do not see how to account for this forbearance, except by supposing that Cleon's deficiency was less palpable to the majority of his countrymen than to the experienced judgment of Thucydides. It would seem that they regarded him, even in their bitterest moments, simply as a popular leader, attributing to him all the sins, actual and possible, of his class, and tacitly acquitting him of any further charges, either as unproved or as really irrelevant.
Such is our summary of the leading points of Mr. Grote's plea, amended as we should wish to see them amended. It would not be uninteresting to compare them in detail with the previous vindication of Cleon by Droysen, the German translator of Aristophanes, whose perverseness in defending the indefensible so much scandalises the intellectual and moral sense of Dr. Thirlwall. In one respect Droysen's opinion is the more valuable of the two, as it is no predilection for Athens, but rather a strong repugnance to her, which induces him to take up the cause of Cleon, whom he praises for having faithfully developed the
Nature of Droysen's Defence.
tendencies of his nation. On the whole, however, our countryman might safely sustain a comparison between his cautious experimental mode of procedure and the more dashing tactics of the Continental scholar, who dwells, among other things, on the essentially aggressive nature of a democracy, “ever feeding
onward like a flame.' But we have lingered long enough among mere particulars. We have followed Mr.Grote carefully throughout the construction of his argument; and the corrections and modifications which we have ventured to interpose must already have shown that we are not unwilling to adopt it, though only to a certain extent, as our own. Still, while believing the hypothesis to be on the whole a legitimate one, and desiring ourselves to remove some of the objections which seem to us to lie against it, as originally stated, we cannot conceal from ourselves that after all it has but a hypothetical value. It has established for itself a right to rank along with the common and conflicting view, but not to supersede it. It has shown, not that the facts must be understood in a different way from that hitherto recognised, but simply that they may. In some measure this uncertainty is owing to the state of the facts themselves. For the greater part of them we have only the authority of a few chapters in Thucydides, the statements in which have to be checked by the consideration of certain supposed prejudices on the part of the writer. We feel that there are numbers of points on which we ought to require more information if there were any prospect of obtaining it. The question of Thucydides' own banishment, discussed by Mr. Grote, is a case in point. The dispute is not a very important one, and we have no desire to go into the arguments on both sides; for our general impression is, that the evidence is insufficient to warrant any conclusion at all. Mr. Grote presumes that the historian had no reason for remaining at Thasos; other writers presume that he had; our knowledge being wholly confined to the fact that he did remain there, and not even extending to the question whether his conduct in so doing was the gravamen of the charge brought against him. But the uncertainty of the facts is by no means the most serious impediment in the way of a positive result. Were this all, whatever might be said of the absolute value of Mr. Grote's conclusions, we should not have to speak of them as equally doubtful with those of his predecessors; since the balance would always incline towards the possessor of the soundest judgment and the ripest knowledge. In the present case, however, the uncertainty lies much deeper, if, indeed, it does not underlie the whole.
The presumption which, as we have seen, entitles Mr. Grote to be heard on Cleon's behalf, proceeded on the supposition, that where political matters are concerned the same history will be differently written and differently read by different persons. Roman Catholics could not be expected to be content till they had a historian of their own in Dr. Lingard. When the dog bit the Bishop of London, Sidney Smith pleasantly observed, that he should like to hear the dog's story. It is by perceiving the similarity of Cleon's position to that of others, of whom we know two opinions to have been entertained, that we come to admit the possibility of reversing a decision which at first sight appears to be as unequivocal as it is unanimous. But for our experience of the power of party-spirit to disturb the judgment, we should have no reason to question the joint evidence of Aristophanes and Thucydides. To balance their supposed bias, we feel it to be of importance that the facts should be reviewed by an historian of opposite' leanings; and thus Mr. Grote's judgment derives a valué, not only from his great knowledge, but also from his prejudices. But though this method of difference is avowedly introduced as a corrective, yet it is not calculated to produce absolute correctness, even in the decision of a critic, who is bound to decide after hearing both sides. Some few points the very completeness of the investigation will generally be found to clear up, so as to afford no reasonable grounds for question on the part of any of the litigants. But, as a general rule, it is not the agreement of the two parties which is to be looked for as the practical result, but their better mutual understanding. We are not aware that a single passage in Cleon's life can be said to be removed from the danger of misconstruction, even by a fair-minded opponent. To those who think ill of the Athenian populace, and consider the title of demagogue a condemnation in itself, the old account will remain as credible as ever; nor will it be easy to shake this belief so long as liberal thinkers themselves are compelled to admit that a worthless popular leader is not abstractedly an impossibility. What Mr. Grote in our judgment has accomplished is, to show that there is nothing so special in Cleon's case as excepts him from the number of those who, being political characters, must be judged by their principles as well as by their actions. Nor should it be supposed that we think this a slight thing to have done. The mere aperçu might have occurred to many, as it probably has occurred to some, only to be discarded; but every one could not have justified it by a successful development in detail. Droysen's endeavour, though unquestionably meritorious, is carried out with too little precision and definiteness