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      At the Place des Tilleuls fifty men were taken from the crowd at random, escorted to the Meuse, and shot. In the meantime other soldiers went on wrecking, firing, and looting.


      You got us all worked up and worried, he told Sandy, with your suspicions. And all the timeThe general expatiated once more on the francs-tireurs of Louvain, and asked me to explain in my papers without fail that the citizens had to thank themselves for what had happened. The sergeant who had taken me to him was ordered to escort me, that I might not have any further trouble with the soldiers in the city.


      221It remains for us to glance at the controversy which has long been carried on respecting the true position of the Sophists in Greek life and thought. We have already alluded to the by no means favourable judgment passed on them by some among their contemporaries. Socrates condemned them severely,H but only because they received payment for their lessons; and the sentiment was probably echoed by many who had neither his disinterestedness nor his frugality. To make profit by intellectual work was not unusual in Greece. Pheidias sold his statues; Pindar spent his life writing for money; Simonides and Sophocles were charged with showing too great eagerness in the pursuit of gain.75 But a mans conversation with his friends had always been gratuitous, and the novel idea of charging a high fee for it excited considerable offence. Socrates called it prostitutionthe sale of that which should be the free gift of lovewithout perhaps sufficiently considering that the same privilege had formerly been purchased with a more dishonourable price. He also considered that a freeman was degraded by placing himself at the beck and call of another, although it would appear that the Sophists chose their own time for lecturing, and were certainly not more slaves than a sculptor or poet who had received an order to execute. It was also argued that any one who really succeeded in improving the104 community benefited so much by the result that it was unfair on his part to demand any additional remuneration. Suppose a popular preacher were to come over from New York to England, star about among the principal cities, charging a high price for admission to his sermons, and finally return home in possession of a handsome fortune, we can well imagine that sarcasms at the expense of such profitable piety would not be wanting. This hypothetical case will help us to understand how many an honest Athenian must have felt towards the showy colonial strangers who were making such a lucrative business of teaching moderation and justice. Plato, speaking for his master but not from his masters standpoint, raised an entirely different objection. He saw no reason why the Sophists should not sell their wisdom if they had any wisdom to sell. But this was precisely what he denied. He submitted their pretensions to a searching cross-examination, and, as he considered, convicted them of being worthless pretenders. There was a certain unfairness about this method, for neither his own positive teaching nor that of Socrates could have stood before a similar test, as Aristotle speedily demonstrated in the next generation. He was, in fact, only doing for Protagoras and Gorgias what they had done for early Greek speculation, and what every school habitually does for its predecessors. It had yet to be learned that this dissolving dialectic constitutes the very law of philosophical progress. The discovery was made by Hegel, and it is to him that the Sophists owe their rehabilitation in modern times. His lectures on the History of Philosophy contain much that was afterwards urged by Grote on the same side. Five years before the appearance of Grotes famous sixty-seventh chapter, Lewes had also published a vindication of the Sophists, possibly suggested by Hegels work, which he had certainly consulted when preparing his own History. There is, however, this great difference, that while the two English critics endeavour to minimise the105 sceptical, innovating tendency of the Sophists, it is, contrariwise, brought into exaggerated prominence by the German philosopher. We have just remarked that the final dissolution of Sophisticism was brought about by the separate development given to each of the various tendencies which it temporarily combined. Now, each of our three apologists has taken up one of these tendencies, and treated it as constituting the whole movement under discussion. To Hegel, the Sophists are chiefly subjective idealists. To Lewes, they are rhetoricians like Isocrates. To Grote, they are, what in truth the Sophists of the Roman empire were, teachers representing the standard opinions of their age. Lewes and Grote are both particularly anxious to prove that the original Sophists did not corrupt Greek morality. Thus much has been conceded by contemporary German criticism, and is no more than was observed by Plato long ago. Grote further asserts that the implied corruption of morality is an illusion, and that at the end of the Peloponnesian war the Athenians were no worse than their forefathers who fought at Marathon. His opinion is shared by so accomplished a scholar as Prof. Jowett;76 but here he has the combined authority of Thucydides, Aristophanes, and Plato against him. We have, however, examined this question already, and need not return to it. Whether any of the Sophists themselves can be proved to have taught immoral doctrines is another moot point. Grote defends them all, Polus and Thrasymachus included. Here, also, we have expressed our dissent from the eminent historian, whom we can only suppose to have missed the whole point of Platos argument. Lewes takes different106 ground when he accuses Plato of misrepresenting his opponents. It is true that the Sophists cannot be heard in self-defence, but there is no internal improbability about the charges brought against them. The Greek rhetoricians are not accused of saying anything that has not been said again and again by their modern representatives. Whether the odium of such sentiments should attach itself to the whole class of Sophists is quite another question. Grote denies that they held any doctrine in common. The German critics, on the other hand, insist on treating them as a school with common principles and tendencies. Brandis calls them a number of men, gifted indeed, but not seekers after knowledge for its own sake, who made a trade of giving instruction as a means for the attainment of external and selfish ends, and of substituting mere technical proficiency for real science.77 If our account be the true one, this would apply to Gorgias and the younger rhetoricians alone. One does not precisely see what external or selfish ends were subserved by the physical philosophy which Prodicus and Hippias taught, nor why the comprehensive enquiries of Protagoras into the conditions of civilisation and the limits of human knowledge should be contemptuously flung aside because he made them the basis of an honourable profession. Zeller, in much the same strain, defines a Sophist as one who professes to be a teacher of wisdom, while his object is individual culture (die formelle und praktische Bildung des Subjekts) and not the scientific investigation of truth.78 We do not know whether Grote was content with an explanation which would only have required an unimportant modification of his own statements to agree precisely with them. It ought amply to have satisfied Lewes. For ourselves, we must confess to caring very little whether the Sophists investigated truth for its own sake or as a means to self-culture. We believe, and in the next chapter we hope107 to show, that Socrates, at any rate, did not treat knowledge apart from practice as an end in itself. But the history of philosophy is not concerned with such subtleties as these. Our contention is that the Stoic, Epicurean, and Sceptical schools may be traced back through Antisthenes and Aristippus to Hippias and Protagoras much more directly than to Socrates. If Zeller will grant this, then he can no longer treat Sophisticism as a mere solvent of the old physical philosophy. If he denies it, we can only appeal to his own history, which here, as well as in our discussions of early Greek thought, we have found more useful than any other work on the subject. Our obligations to Grote are of a more general character. We have learned from him to look at the Sophists without prejudice. But we think that he, too, underrates their far-reaching intellectual significance, while his defence of their moral orthodoxy seems, so far as certain members of the class are concerned, inconsistent with any belief in Platos historical fidelity. That the most eminent Sophists did nothing to corrupt Greek morality is now almost universally admitted. If we have succeeded in showing that they did not corrupt but fruitfully develop Greek philosophy, the purpose of this study will have been sufficiently fulfilled.

      Sandy separated from the superstitious one, as the latter rushed among the trees, muttering that some omen had warned him of trouble.


      Scepticism, as a philosophical principle, is alien from early Greek thought; but it is pervaded by a negative tendency exhibited in four different directions, all converging towards the later attitude of suspensive doubt. There are sharp criticisms on the popular mythology; there are protests against the ascription of reality to sensible appearances; there are contemptuous references on the part of some philosophers to the opinions held by others; and there are occasional lamentations over the difficulty of getting at any truth at all. The importance, however, of these last utterances has been considerably exaggerated both in ancient and modern times. For, in some instances, they are attributable solely to the distrust of sense-perception, and in others they seem to express nothing more than a passing mood against which we must set the dogmatic conclusions elsewhere enunciated with perfect confidence by the same thinkers.219 At the same time, we have to note, as an illustration of the standing connexion between theological belief and that kind of scepticism which is shown by distrust in mans power of discovering the truth for himself, that the strongest expressions of such a distrust are to be found in the two most religious of the pre-Socratic thinkers, Xenophanes and Empedocles.

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      He failed in his purpose.

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      But if Aristotle had not his masters enthusiasm for practical reforms, nor his masters command of all the forces by which humanity is raised to a higher life, he had, more even than his master, the Greek passion for knowledge as such, apart from its utilitarian applications, and embracing in its vast orb the lowliest things with the loftiest, the most fragmentary glimpses and the largest revelations of truth. He demanded nothing but the materials for generalisation, and there was nothing from which he could not generalise. There was a place for everything within the limits of his world-wide system. Never in any human soul did the309 theorising passion burn with so clear and bright and pure a flame. Under its inspiration his style more than once breaks into a strain of sublime, though simple and rugged eloquence. Speaking of that eternal thought which, according to him, constitutes the divine essence, he exclaims:


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