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with the laws and customs of his country, he began to project a scheme for a general reformation; for then all the little kingdoms depended upon the emperor; but it often happened that the imperial authority was not able to keep them within the bounds of their duty, each of the kings being master of his dominions.
6 Confucius, wisely persuaded that the people could never be happy, so long as avarice, ambition, voluptuousness, and false policy should reign in this manner, resolved to preach up a severe morality; and accordingly he began to enforce temperance, justice, and other virtues, to inspire a contempt of riches and outward pomp, to excite to magnanimity and greatness of soul, which should make men incapable of dissimulation and insincerity.
7 He used every mean he could devise, to redeem his countrymen from a life of pleasure to a life of reason. He was every where known, and as much beloved. His extreme knowledge and great wisdom soon made him known: his integrity, and the splendor of his virtues, made him beloved. Kings were governed by his wisdom, and the people reverenced him as a saint.
8 He was offered several high offices in the magistracy, which he sometimes accepted; but never from a motive of ambition, which he was not at all concerned to gratify, but always with a view of reforming a corrupt state, and amending mankind : for he never failed to resign those offices, as soon as he perceived that he could be no longer useful in them.
9 He inculcated fidelity and candor among the men, exhorted the women to chastity and simplicity of manners. By such methods he wrought a general reformation, and established every where such concord and humanity, that the kingdom seemed as it were but one great family.
10 Thus the people, regulated by the wise maxims and precepts of Confucius, enjoyed general happiness, till at length the jealousy of the neighboring kings was excited. They were convinced that a king, under the counsels of such a man as Confucius would soon become too powerful. They contrived a plot to demolish the edifice of wisdom and virtue, which Confucius had erected, by the temptations of dissipation, luxury, vice and sensual pleasures.
11 Conspiracies were formed against his life: to which may be added, that his neglect to his own interests had reduced him to the extremest poverty. Some philosophers
among his cotemporaries were so affected with the terrible state of things, that they had rusticated themselves into the mountains and deserts, as the only places where happiness could be found ; and would have persuaded Confucius to have followed them.
12 But “I am a man, says Confucius, and cannot exclude myself from the society of men, and consort with beasts. Bad as the times are, I shall do all that I can to recall men to virtue: for in virtue are all things, and if mankind would but once embrace it, and submit themselves to its discipline, and laws, they would not want me or any body else to instruct them.
13 “ It is the duty of a good man, first to perfect himself, and then to perfect others. Human nature, said he, came to us from heaven pure and perfect; but in process of time ignorance, the passions, and evil examples have corrupted it. All consists in restoring it to its primitive beauty; and to be perfect, we must re-ascend to that point, from which we have fallen.
14 “Obey heaven, and follow the orders of him who governs it. Love your neighbor as yourself. Let your reason, and not your senses, be the rule of your conduct; for reason will teach you to think wisely, to speak prudently, and to behave yourself worthily upon all occasions."
15 Confucius, in the mean time, though he had withdrawn himself from kings and palaces, did not cease to travel about, and do what good he could among the people, and among mankind in general. He had often in his maith the maxims and examples of their ancient heroes, so that they were thought to be all revived in the person of this great man. We shall not wonder, therefore, that he proselyted a great number of disciples, who were inviolably attached to his person.
16 He sent six hundred of his disciples into different parts of the empire, to reform the manners of the people; and not satisfied with benefiting his own country only, he made frequent resolutions to pass the seas, and propagate his doctrine to the farthest part of the world. Hardly any thing can be added to the purity of his morality, which he taught as forcibly by example as by precept.
17 Confucius did not trust altogether to the memories of his disciples, for the preservation of his philosophy, but he composed several books: and though these books were greatly admired for the doctrines they contained, and the fine
principles of morality they taught, yet such was the unparalleled modesty of this philosopher, that he never assumed the least honor about them.
18 He ingenuously owned, that the doctrine was not his own, but was much more ancient; and that he had done nothing more than collected it from wise legislators who lived fifteen hundred years before him. There are some maxims and moral sentences in his collection, equal to those of the seven wise men of Greece, which have always been so much admired.
NOTE.— The preceding article is derived principally from the Chinese Traveller, which describes some traces of the precepts of Confucius, which are observed in China, at the present time ; but are much obscured and adulterated by a “monstrous heap of superstitions, magic, idolatry, and all sorts of ridiculous and extravagant opinions."
ABRIDGMENT OF THE LIFE AND MORAL DISCOURSES OF SO
CRATES, CHIEFLY FROM ROLLIN'S ANCIENT HISTORY, AND XENOPHON'S MEMOIRS.
Character of Socrates.
Of right and wrong he taught
Armstrong 1. SOCRATES was born at Athens, 471 years before the commencement of the Christian era. His father was a sculptor, and he at first learned the same trade himself, in which he became very expert. His example, like that of Franklin, the Socrates of America, shows that greatness of mind is not excluded by the hand of nature, from the sons of industry though wherever found, the polish of knowledge is essential to the developement of its inherent beauties.
2 Criton is reported to have taken him out of his father's shop, from the admiration of his fine genius, and the opinion that it was inconsistent for a young man, capable of the great
est things, to continue perpetually employed upon stone with a chisel in his hand. His first study was physics, the works of nature, astronomy, &c.; according to the custom of those times.
3 But after having found by his own experience, how difficult, abstruse, intricate, and at the same time, how little useful that kind of learning was to the generality of mankind, he was the first, according to Cicero, who conceived the thought of bringing down philosophy from heaven, to place it in cities, and introduce it into private houses ; humanizing it, to use that expression, and rendering it more familiar, more useful in common life, more within the reach of man's capacity, and applying it solely to what might make them more rational, just and virtuous.
4 He found there was a kind of folly in devoting the whole vivacity of his mind, and employing all his time, in inquiries merely curious, involved in impenetrable darkness, and absolutely incapable of contributing to human happiness; whilst he neglected to inform himself in the ordinary duties of life.
5 He had accustomed himself early to a sober, severe, laborious life; and yet he entertained the most perfect contempt for riches, and contentment with poverty. He looked upon it as a divine perfection to be in want of nothing. Seeing the pomp and show displayed by luxury in certain ceremonies, and the infinite quantity of gold and silver employed in them; “How many things,” said he, congratulating himself on his condition, “ do I not want !"
6 His father left him eighty mina, that is to say, 4,000 livres, which he lent to one of his friends, who had occasion for that sum. But the affairs of that friend having taken an ill turn, he lost the whole, and suffered that misfortune with such indifference and tranquillity, that he did not so much as complain of it.
7 The peculiar austerity of his life did not render him gloomy and morose, as, was common enough in those times. Though he was very poor, he piqued himself upon the neatness of his person and his house, and could not suffer the ridiculous affectation of Antisthenes, who always wore dirty and ragged clothes. He told him once, that through the holes in his cloak, and the rest of his tatters, abundance of vanity might be discerned.
8 The ardent admiration of poverty, imputed to Socrates, Diogenes, and other ancient philosophizers, ought to be styled philosophical fanaticism, rather than genuine wisdom and
prudence; which inculcate the accumulation of property by persevering diligence, as well as the preservation of it, by economy and simplicity of manners.
9 The desire of wealth may become pernicious, when cherished at the sacrifice of honesty; and the possession of it
may be mischievous, both to the owner and others, or beneficial, according to his want of capacity to govern his passions, or his discretion and benevolence.
10 Extreme poverty ought to be regarded among the most terrible calamities of human life ; and though vastly preferable to riches with a prostituted conscience, ought not to be submitted to contentedly, except on these conditions :*
“For the future be prepard,
Welcome what thou canst not shun."_Burns. 11 One of the most distinguishing qualities of Socrates, was a tranquillity of soul, that no accident, no loss, no injury, no ill treatment could ever alter. Seneca tells us, that he had desired his friends to apprise him wherever they saw him ready to fall into a passion, and that he had given them that privilege over him, which he took himself with them. Finding himself in great emotion against a slave, “I would beat you,” says he, “if I were not angry.”
12 Without going out of his own house, he found enough to exercise his patience in all its extent. Xantippe, his wife, put it to the severest proofs by her capricious, passionate, violent disposition. She would sometimes be transported with such an excess of rage as to tear off his cloak in the open street; and even one day, after having vented all the reproaches her fury could suggest, she emptied a pot upon his head; at which he only laughed, and said, “ that so much thunder must needs produce a shower.”
13 After having related some particularities in the life of Socrates, it is time to proceed to that in which his character principally and peculiarly consisted ; I mean the pains he took to instruct mankind, and particularly in forming the youth of Athens.
14 He seemed, says Libarius, the common father of the republic, so attentive was he to the happiness and advantage of his whole country. But as it is very difficult to correct the aged, and to make people change principles who revere
* J. T.