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Belfast Monthly Magazine

Symbols of Pythagoras (Continued)

Source: The Belfast Monthly Magazine, Vol. 6, No. 31 (Feb. 28, 1811), pp. 111-113
Published by: Belfast Monthly Magazine
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1811.3 Symbolsof Pythagoras. 111
without inconvenience, to those who This applies to all who have left
know the facts or persons in ancient that society, as well as those w ho
history and mythology, to which continue in it; but the latter have
those names allude, they form a va. an additional reason for approving
luablemonument of grandhistorical of those names. The use of a par-
facts, no less remarkable for the ex. ticular phraseology, has an effect
tent of their operation, and the similar to that of wearing a pecu-
continuance of their influence; which liar dress, or uniform, to keep up
is not yet entirely exhausted, than that Esprit du corps, which the lea-
for the surprising nature and origin ders of religious, as well as of mi-
of that prodigious power, under litary associations, find so service-
which they occurred q which was so able to their purposes. Thus the
far extended and lasted so long, and glaring dressand accoutrementsof the
beneath which all the civilized world soldiers, the coul and cassock of the
once bowed; in short, they form to monk, and the singular garb of the
them a remarkablemonupient of the quaker, are all uniforms; and the
history, the customs, the religion, peculiar phraseology adoptedby each
and the great men of the Romans, may be called a vocal uniform,
more lasting than one of brass, or having the same affect as uniforms
marble, which has continued many of apparel, in tending to make them
centuries unimpaired, and promises act more readily in a body, and to
fairly to endure for ages to come. feel particular preference and re-
Those names then consecrated by gard for their own party, and their
their antiquity, having been proved opinions and interests, to the exclu-
by long trial adequate for the pur- sion of those of the rest of man-
poses to which they are applied, kind.
and being also capable of universal The effects of peculiarity of dress
use, and rising conspicuous in com- in these respects, has long been
parison with other names and sys- known; but those of peculiarity of
tems, which have either been ima- language have been but little no-
gined or partially used in a small ticed, if at all; but there are many
extent; and any alteration in them reasons for supposing that the lat-
having been shown to be likely to ter is in several respects equally
create confusion, and narrow the potent with the ldrmcr for the pur-
circle of intelligence, it is hoped poses mentioned, and in some, even
that those who read this will be sa- a superior efficacy. 3.
tisfied with the propriety of using
them, or at least not be led away by For the Belfast MonthlyMagazine.
unsupported assertions, to. suppose
thatthey areimproper,
It is not any wonder however (Continuedfrom page 8, No. XXX.)
that the class of men, who have been rn
Ti;s Awpocvpn Cs.
taught to use numeral saines for the Go not by the highway.
months froomtheir infancy, (and who
do not ktow the facts above stated, THE precept of" abstaining from
which prevent their unixrsal use,) beans," is ascribed by the gene-
should think well of them; for cus- ral voice of antiquity toPythagoras,
tom makes whatever men are used and enrolled among his symbols.--
to, seem the best, and the reverse of The tradition of his haring given
it the worst, all over the world.-.- up his life to his base 'pursuers,

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112 Symbolsof Pythagoras. [Feb.
rather than attemptto escape them by warded, that we are reminded of
passing through a field of beans, if Plato, who, beinig once a sojourner,
it could he established, would also where he was not known, bore his
establish the literal acceptance of faculties so meekly, and was so kind,
the symbol, Abstainfrom beans,as so condescending, and so useful,that
wveli as of the subject of this pa- he was not suspected to be the great
per. But how idle must the sup- philosopher, whose fame sounded
position tbe, which would exhibit loudly forth from Athens. Intense
a man of' such comprehensive in- study, total seclusion from the world,
tellect, the slave of such unintel- and consequently ignorance in its aft
ligible follies? Besides, the tradi- fairs, and therefore uselessness, a curn-
tion is very vague, and such a mode brous second-handwisdom; these wvere
of construing his precepts isoppos- the distinguishing characters of the
ed to the opinion of all, who have philosophers of the middle ages. Ac-
considered them, whether they be cording as the darkness of that period
those of our own time, or those of was departing, men began to see, that
the age nearest to him, whose wri- knowledge was something more thatn
tings have reached us. In consider- mere Latin and Greek, and to under-
ing the symbol, then, of go not by stand, that the persons, who were ver-
the highway; we feel ourselves sed in these languages were not conju-
warranted in proceeding in thesanme rers. From this has resulted a damn-
manner, as heretofbre,to penetrate gerous extreme, and classical lite-
the veil. ratury seems likely to be as unjust-
Revolutions have not been confin- ly depreciated, as it was formerly
ed to the political world. A great extravagantly extolled.
and beneficial, though gradual one This train of thought, or some-
has been etiected in the empire of
the mind. Since the destructionof thing like it, mingles with the ileas
the Aristoileian philosophy and the generally entertaiued of the philoso-
phers of Greece. They are supposed
dis-'pation of the (artesian vortices to have been persois, who totally ab-
down the gulfof oblivion, true know- stained from the ordinary pursuits
ledrge has been advancing with ra- of life, and who would have conceived
pid, yet steady steps ; philosophers their dignity lessened by participat-
Lhavecome forth from their closets,
and instead of searching through ing in the cares and duties of soci-
for authorities and refcrences ety. Overlooking the useful activi-
flo ty of the men of science, xwl1onow
tg useful eind, instead of ex-
Il", adorn and instruct the world,
h1austing their health and strength we obstinately fix our eyes on those
in pursuits, which made no one, reproachesof literature ; men, who
wiser, they now study for tile be- hoarded up knowledge without use
a4,:ftof mankind, and are no longer or end, who valued an author in pro-
mere statues steppedfrom theirpedes-
to now be- portion to his obscurity, and, as we
:":,as take the air. They express it, found mnorepleasure
gin to show the mselves in the at- nmay
in cracking a nut, than in extract-
tractive light of supceror geniuses ing the kernel. The mean opinion,
condescending to mingle with the thus conceived, *e transfer to our
world, and directing their abilities
to its improvement, and from those judgment of a description of men
very little like these persons; and
qualities, they are so little like the
characters, to w hornthe meed of perhaps the keen, yet just, abuse
poured by Lucian unr the self-dub-
philosophy has been hercetoforea-

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1811.] 1eplyof Solon. 113
bed philosophers of hiL day, serves Erasmus give nearly the same ex-
to confirm this opinion. planation, and advert to the broad
In this however, we err widely: and narrow way spoken of in the
the genuine philosophers,of new testament. The letter Y, cal-
Greece were men earnest in the led the Samian letter, from its adap-
pursuit of wisdom: they sought tation by the Samian sage, is sup-
after that species of knowledge, posed to have been chosen to con-
which influences the actions of men, vey similar instruction, or rather,
and advances the interests of so- as a varied way of conveying the:
ciety. same instruction. The broad part
Thus Zeno of Elea, distinguished of the letter represents the way of
himself by improving the art of rea- folly, ignorance, and death, trodden
soning, and by magnanimously ex- by the multitude-the narrow part
posing himself to the fury of a stands the representative of the use-
tyrant, from whose possession he had ful course of the wise man, a coure,
endeavoured to rescue his native whence man is more liable to devi-
place, he proved, that his was not ate, inasmuch as self-control is dif-
theoretic wisdom. Zeno, the foun. ficult of attainment, while self-gra-
der of the stoic sect, aimed at the tification continually solicits.
improvement of mankind by a clear
exposition of the excellence of vir-
tue, and hatefulness of vice, exhi- For the Belfast iLonthlyMagazine.
biting in his own life such a con-
sistency with his doctrines, as pro- REPLYOF SOLON TO OBSERVATIONS
cured him general esteem, andstamp- ON HTS PAPER ON 'TiE SUNDAY
ed influence on his word3. But, SCHOOL-
without particularising Plato, Aris-
totle, and others; Pythagoras is him- To theproprietorsof the B.M.31.
self a pregnant instance of their
active interference in the afihirs of
A T the close of your monthly re-
trospect of politics for October
men. After having travelled through last, I observed some very severe
all the countries, then the depo. strictures on my reply to the con-
sitories of knowledge, he fixed his cltding part of that article, for the
residence at Crotona in preceding month, on the subject ol
Here by the charms of his Italy.---
person, the Sunday School-house then build-
his skill in the manly exercises, and ing.
his superiority in mental acquire- T'o be replicd to by argument,
ments, he obtained unlimited influ- and with temper, is no matter,f :;r-
ence. This influence he exerted so prise to mec,but to be attackledand a-
effectually, that out of a people bused with such viiulence on that
sunk in sensuality and sloth, he part of my paper, which was avow-
formed, as it vweie,a new race, dis- edly sup)presscd-and by my
tinguished by manly energy, and the sent suppressed, has excitedo'zWn a coo,.-
useful virtues. gree of astonishment iIt my mind
"'Go not by the highway,"' then which I never expected to feel at
cannot be ilferred to enjoin seclu- the conduct of the managers of the
sion from the world : but would Belfast Magazine. Inunediately af-
seem rather to contain the advice, ter the publication of the number
conveyed from high authority in the for October, I prepared and for-
words, " thou shalt -not follow a warded a remonstrance, and ias
multitude to do evil." Origen and told it was sent to one of your ma-

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