Page images


Fran the Pennsylvania Gazette, No. 95, Sept. 3,


The following is a dialogue between Socrates the great Athenian philosopher, and one Glaucon, a private man of mean abilities, but ambitious of being chosen a senator, and of governing the republic ; wherein Socrates, in a pleasant manner, convinces him of his incapacity for public affairs, by making him sensible of his ignorance of the interests of his country, in their several branches, and entirely dissuades him from any attempt of that nature. There is also added at the end, part of another dialogue the same Socrates had with one Charmidas, a worthy *man, but too modest; wherein he endeavours to persuade him to put himself forward and undertake public business, as being very capable of it. The whole is taken from Xenophon's Memorable Things of Socrates, lib. 3. AA certain man, whose name was Glaucon, the son of Ariston, had so fixed it in his mind to govern the republic, that he frequently presented himself before the people to discourse of affairs of state, though all the world laughed at him for it; nor was it in the power of his relations or friends to dissuade him from that design. Bat Socrates had a kindness for him on account of Platu, his brother; and he only it was who made him change his resolution. He met

bim, and accosted him in so winning a manner, that he first obliged him to hearken to his discourse. He began with him thus : “ You have a mind, then, to govern the republic?" "I have so," answered Glaucon. “ You cannot,” replied Socrates, “ have a more noble design : for if you can accomplish it, so as to become absolute. you will be able to serve your friends ; you will raise your family; you will extend the bounds of your country; you will be known not only in Athens, but through all Greece ; and perhaps your renown will fly even to the barbarous nations, as did that of Themistocles. In short, wherever you come, you will have the respect and admiration of all the world." These words soothed Glaucon, and won him to give ear to Socrates, wbo went on in this manner : " But it is certain, that if you desire to be honoured, you must be useful to the state.” “ Certainly,” said Glaucon. “And in the name of all the gods,” replied Socrates, “ tell me what is the first service you intend to render the state.” Glaucon was considering what to answer, when Socrates continued : “ If you design to make the fortune of one of your friends, you will endea. vour to make him rich; and thus, perhaps, you will make it your business to enrich the republic ?” “I would," answered Glaucon. Socrates replied, « Would not the way to enrich the republic be to in. crease its revenue ?" "It is very likely it would,” an swered Glaucon. “Tell me, then, in what con* sists the revenue of the state, and to how much may it amount ? I presume you have particularly studi*

ed this matter, to the end that, if any thing should be lost on one hand, you might know where to make it good on another; and that if a fund should fail on a sudden, you might immediately be able to settle another in its place.” “I protest," answered Glaucon, “I have never thought of this.” “ Tell me, at least, the expenses of the republic; for no doubt you mean to retrench the superfluous." "I have never thought of this either,” said Glaucon. “You were best, then, to put off to another time your design of enriching the republic, which you can never be able to do while you are ignorant both of its expenses and revenue.” “ There is another way to enrich a state," said Glaucon, " of which you take no notice ; that is, by the ruin of its enemies.” “You are in the right,” answered Socrates; “but to this end it is necessary to be stronger than they, otherwise we shall run the hazard of losing what we have : he, therefore, who talks of undertaking a war, ought to know the strength on both sides; to the end that, if his party be the stronger, he may boldly advise for war; and if it be the weaker, he may dissuade the people from engaging themselves in so dangerous an enterprise.” “All this is true." "Tell me then," continued Socrates, “how strong our forces are by sea and land, and how strong are our enemies ?" “ Indeed,” said Glaucon, “ I cannot tell you on a sudden.” “ If you have a list of them in writing, pray show it me; I should be glad to hear it read.” “ I have it not yet.” “I see then," said Socrates, " that we shall not engage in war so soon; for the greatness of the undertaking will hinder you from maturely weighing all the consequences of it in the beginning of your government. But,"' continued he, " you have thought of the defence of the country; you know what garrisons are necessary, and what are not ; you know what number of troops is sufficient in one, and not sufficient in another; you will cause the necessary garrisons to be reinforced, and disband those that are useless ?” “I should be of opinion,” said Glaucon, “ to leave none of them on foot, because they ruin a country on pretence of defending it.” But Socrates objected, “If all the garrisons were taken away, there would be nothing to hinder the first comer from carrying off what he pleased. But how come you to know that the garrisons behave themselves well? Have you been upon the place? Have you seen them ?” “ Not at all : but I suspect it to be so." "When, therefore, we are certain of it,” said Socrates, “ and can speak upon better grounds than simple conjectures, we will propose this advice to the senate.” “ It may be well to do so," said Glaucon. " It comes into my mind too," said Socrates, “that you have never been at the mines of silver, to examine why they bring not in so much now as they did formerly." " You say true: I have never been there.” “Indeed, they say the place is very unhealthy, and that may excuse you.” “You rally me now," said Glaucon. Socrates added, “But I believe you have at least observed how much corn our lands produce, how long it will serve to supply our city, and how

much more we shall want for the whole year; to the end you may not be surprised with a scarcity of bread, but may give timely orders for the necessary provisions.” “ There is a deal to do,” said Glaucon, 66 if we must take care of all these things.” “ There is so," replied Socrates; " and it is even impossible to manage our own families well, unless we know all that is wanting, and take care to provide it. As you see, therefore, that our city is composed of above ten thousand families, and it being a difficult task to watch over them all at once, why did you not first try to relieve your uncle's affairs, which are running to decay ? and, after having given that proof of your industry, you might have taken a greater trust upon you. But now, when you find yourself incapable of aiding a private man, how can you think of behaving yourself so as to be useful to a whole people ? Ought a man who has not strength to carry a hundred pound weight to undertake to carry a heavier burthen ?” “I would have done good service to my uncle,” said Glaucon, “if he would have taken my advice." " How," replied Socrates, “have you not been able hitherto to govern the mind of your uncle ; and do you now believe yourself able to govern the minds of all the Athenians, and his among the rest ? Take heed, my dear Glaucon, take heed, lest too great a desire of power should render you despised; consider bow dangerous it is to speak and entertain ourselves concerning things we do not understand : what a figure do those forward and rash people make in the world who do

« PreviousContinue »