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have been obvious to every reader of the philosopher, that by a pamphagous animal he meant one that would eat all sorts of food as contradistinguished from those animals who were select in their feeding, and specifically carnivorous, graminivorous, &c.
Delusive systems of interpretation are so commonly rendered plausible by this species of word-catching, that I cannot pass by this instance without one or two remarks.
1. Aristotle immediately explains what he means by adding, "for it eats fruit”; and having mentioned its climbing trees, and further specified leguminous produce, honey, crabs, and ants, as articles of its diet, he adds that it also eats flesh, kai sapkopaye. But even when the brute becomes sarcophagous, it seems that he is so perverse as to do it in a way which renders him worth less than nothing to these commentators. Instead of exhibiting the “greediness after blood” which makes him a fit type of the Medes and Persians he makes a point of waiting till the flesh is putrid.
But suppose, on the other hand, that these Medes and Persians had been as much distinguished by moderation and philosophical abstemiousness, as they are said to have been by “ cruelty and greediness after blood,” how would interpreters have seized on the popular belief that bears can subsist for an almost incredible length of time on their own fat, and by sucking their own paws. Instead of the ingenious and acute Grotius, we should have heard of the profoundly learned Brucker, and the Vignette before his pro
foundly learned History of Philosophy, representing a bear thus supporting existence, with the motto, ALIMENTA SIBI.”
2. Let the reader suppose the Medes and Persians to be as cruel and bloodthirsty as Bishop Newton represents let him read the disgusting account given by that writer about their skinning people alive, and so forth—let him also suppose the Bear to be the most cruel and bloodthirsty beast in nature, and therefore (indeed therefore chiefly, if not only) most fit to typify the bloodthirsty Medes and Persians; will he not be surprised to find these very same Medes and Persians symbolized by an animal that never thirsts after blood, and would not think of tasting flesh? Yet it is so.
Commentators of this school may say what they please, about the Bear, but they cannot deny (for they are plainly told viii. 20) that the Ram represents the same Medo-Persian empire which they have, without any such warranty, assigned to the Bear. And this I cannot but consider as a part of the evidence that their scheme for interpreting the Vision of the Four Beasts is erroneous.
More evidence will appear; in the mean time I make these remarks chiefly to put readers on their guard. Many of them by the time they come to the explanation of the Ram in the next chapter, have forgotten why they were called on to believe that the Medes and Persians resembled Bears.
To return then to Bishop Newton's interpretation of the Vision; I have already intimated that the long and short of it, backed by the great names which he
mentions, comes to little more than this—the Babylonian empire was very fierce and cruel, and therefore it was like a lion, which is very fierce and cruel; or rather a lioness, which is fiercer still—the MedoPersian empire was very fierce and cruel, and therefore like a bear which is very fierce and cruel—the details of the interpretation are utterly absurd and contemptible. I have noticed the explanation proposed respecting the Lion's being made to stand on his feet &c., and what is the nonsense that is offered to us respecting the Bear? We are told (vii. 5) “ It had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it.” Bishop Newton says “These Jerome understands of the three Kingdoms of the Babylonians, Medes and Persians, which were reduced into one Kingdom (which seems to be something like saying that the Bear was incorporated with the Lion and so formed a constituent part of three ribs which were stuck in his own mouth] but Sir Isaac Newton and Bishop Chandler with greater propriety explain them to signify the Kingdoms of Babylon, Lydia and Egypt, which were conquered by it, but were not properly parts and members of its body.” Well, but why are these conquests of the Persians represented by these symbols? The Bishop continues, “They might be called ribs, as the conquest of them much strengthened the Persian Empire; and they might be said to be between the teeth of the bear, as they were much grinded and oppressed by the Persians.” Ribs may strengthen a man or a bear; but I cannot
help thinking that they must be “properly” parts and members of his body, and that in order to secure such service from them, he must not grind them between his teeth.
Again as regards the Leopard-does the reader feel any satisfaction in being told that a leopard is a swift beast, and Alexander was swift—that it is a spotted beast, and so was a “proper emblem according to Bochart of the different manners of the nations which Alexander commanded; or according to Grotius of the various manners of Alexander himself”, sometimes drunk sometimes sober, and so on-all very plainly typified by a leopard—and besides, the Bishop adds, “the leopard as Bochart observes is of small stature but of great courage, so as not to be afraid to engage with the lion and the largest beasts; and so Alexander, a little King in comparison, of small stature too, and with a small army, dared to attack the King of Kings, that is Darius whose Kingdom was extended from the Ægean Sea to the Indies. Others” the Bishop adds with great gravity “ have pursued the comparison farther, but with more subtilty than solidity; for? saith he “I conceive the principal point of likeness was designed between the swiftness and impetuosity of the one and the other.” So that we get little more for meaning than that Leopards are swift, and Alexander was swift, that leopards are impetuous and Alexander was impetuous, though it is not hinted that leopards are subject to the same mutations of being - sometimes
merciful and sometimes cruel” that the conqueror was. Perhaps their characteristic variegation is only skindeep; and they do not get drunk at all.
But how absurdly and inconsistently has the interpretation abandoned the Macedonian Empire, and run into the personal history of Alexander. He is a little King, with a small army, “of small stature too ” ;-it is amusing to see how this school of interpreters catch at the least scrap of what is "literal,” well knowing that it is the only salt that can preserve their fancies from immediate ridicule, and sometimes (as in this case) stooping to pick up such rubbish as only increases and exposes their absurdity. He is “a little King in comparison ”; that is, he was so once upon a time, not now when he bears "rule over all the earth”—he was a little man; yes, and once upon a time he was not even a little man, but an infant. But whatever Alexander may have been individually as to length or breadth, our question is whether the Leopard represents the same thing as the Brazen part of the Image. The Kingdom prefigured by the Brass, is said to bear rule over all the earth; and Bishop Newton has just been doing all he could to magnify the little King's little Kingdom to meet that very awkward statement. But supposing the man or the Kingdom to be meant, and to have been great or little, tall or short, as may happen to be wanted ; and that, by some process or other, we can make Alexander and his Kingdom very like common leopards in “ the principal point of likeness”-that is, in swiftness and