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honest opinions, it is necessary to read in mass. It fell out one day as I was reading Demosthenes after this fashion that I stumbled on No. 54, the speech against Konôn, and read it over two or three times with no little pleasure. I did not know, so ignorant was I of
. the literature of Demosthenes, that it had any especial repute. I only felt that it deserved it. I was rather afraid to look at the commentaries lest Prof. Dr. Adolf Wilhelm Knickerbein might have completely demolished its genuineness and its authenticity. I was satisfied with old Bekker's assurance that it was all right, and I made a pet of it. I thought it peculiarly Demosthenean. I admired the art with which the great orator put himself in the place of the young fellow Ariston, who had brought the suit. I said to myself: Here we see Demosthenes on a lower level and in a more simple style, but he is still Demosthenes. He is racy, he is homely. Demosthenes is always a bit of a blackguard; and the mild English clergyman who recently edited the oration on the crown, when he lamented the scurrilousness of the great Athenian speaker, lamented the very thing that gave him such a hold on the Athenian people. The spirit of the old Attic comedy had poured itself into his veins ; and if on occasions of critical poise the style is grave, why, Aristophanes can be grave, if need be ; and when Demosthenes is in earnest, there is a homeliness in the figures which he employs, a dramatic energy in his illustrations, which imparts to his speeches much of the bustle of the comic stage. Simple he is in this very speech, I continued; but simple as he is, he is not Lysias. Lysias is a skilful fencer, Demosthenes a redoubtable boxer. To borrow the language of the ring language which he did not disdain any more than did the Apostle Paul - he "counters on the nob” of his opponent with a determination which reminds me of the way in which he “handled his mauleys” in those set-to's in the Aeschines. Carrying out the thought, I compared the rowdy speech of Lysias with this speech of Demosthenes against Konôn, and marked the points of contrast. And now, unluckily, I must needs consult a commentary in search of light on one or two obscurities. I find a flood of darkness thrown on the points in question, and I am “ reminded,” to use the conventional slang of scholars, that that unconscionable prig, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, whose grave be defiled, has been pleased to pick out my pet speech as a specimen of the close kindred between Lysias and Demosthenes. Oh, miserable caitiff! not content with underrating Thucydides, have you nothing better to do than to disturb a subtle aesthetic analysis on which I was beginning to pride myself? — and now I can't tell tartaremetic from yellow jasmine !
In all earnestness, this traditional criticism has done an immense deal of harm. It is bad enough to have to reconsider your opinions at the bidding of a great scholar; but to have to begin the study of an author with the positive assurance that it is all going to be a bore and a nuisance, that a large part of the work is spurious and the rest of it a failure — that is a misery to which I expose myself as little as possible. Books of travel are of most interest to those who know the ground described, and criticism is most profitable to those who know the authors; and as far as possible I forget all I have read
about such and such a book until I have read the book itself. Read Xenophon's Hellenica and then the critics. Read the solitary oration of Lycurgus and then the critics. If there are not parts of Xenophon's Hellenica that are as good as anything in the Anabasis, and far better than anything in the Cyropaedeia, and if the oration of Lycurgus is not one of the most interesting in the whole canon of Attic orators, why then you will have the eminent good fortune of agreeing with all the great scholars and all the great poll-parrots.
But let us take our seats on the steps again, and this time I will ventriloquise a little, and throw a nineteenth-century squeak into the chest of the ancient orator.
May it please your Honors — says the young fellow, whose name is Harrison, or Ariston, or something of the sort - may it please your Honors: I have been maltreated by that fellow, Konon, to that degree that for a long time my family and my doctor gave me up; and now that I have got well unexpectedly, I am here to bring against him an action of assault and battery. I might have made a more serious charge. There is a law against sneak-thieves and highwaymen, who are known to the law as the strippers, and I might have indicted him on that score, and you know that the punishment for that offence is very severe. I have heard that among the barbarians horse-thieves have to pay heavy penalties, because of the ease with which the crime can be committed ; and so we who wear nothing much except shawls, which are easily stolen and easily jerked off, have protected ourselves by rigorous enactments. Then there is a law against outrage – ultragium something or other, but I am not good at Latin and a strong law it is; for in a democratic government like this, such high-handed measures are fatal to freedom ; but my friends have advised me not to put my figures too high, and I am content to bring an action of assault and battery — whereas I should haye liked to make the rascal swig hemlock.
That you may understand the state of the case I will go back to the beginning of our difficulties.
It is going on three years since we went out to Panactum on frontier duty. Every schoolboy knows where Panactum is. At least he can find it on Long's map. It is one of the keys of the Cithaeron. You remember the occasion. It was one of our great scares. know anything about Panactum, you know that we were cramped, and as ill-luck would have it, our party and KonÔn's sons tented near each other. That was the beginning. They drank the livelong day from breakfast-time on, and they kept it up the whole time the garrison was on duty there. We behaved like gentlemen, just as we do at home. But they were in their cups when everybody else was just dining. First they tried their hands on the men, then on the masters. They said that our servants made the kitchen fires so as to smoke them and called them all sorts of names, and so they undertook to beat them and throw slops on them
" soaked them well and rubbed them down with an oaken towel.” That was their style. In short, if there was anything vile or outrageous that they did not do, I should like to know what it was.
We were naturally provoked at this, and told them to get away, but they made
game of us and would not stop. So the whole mess went in a body to the general and we made our complaint, not I by myself. The general gave them a round scolding and cursed them for a pack of rascals, not only for the blackguard tricks they had played on us, but for the row they had been making in the camp generally. Do you suppose that they stopped or took any shame to themselves ? That very evening, just as soon as it became dark, they rushed into our tent, and at first they called us hard names, and finally they gave it to me hot and heavy in the way of a thrashing, and made such a row and a rumpus about the tent that the general came up and the officers and some of the privates, and if they had not, somebody would have been killed.
Well, of course there was bad blood between us. But, Heaven knows, I did not want to sue them or to make a fuss about what happened. All I made up my mind to do was simply to be on my guard against fellows of that sort, and to keep myself to myself.
Not long after we came back from Panactum I was taking my walk, as my habit is of an evening, on the Agora with Phanostratus, one of my comrades, when Ktêsias, KonÔn's son, passed by drunk as a fool. He saw us and raised a yell, and then talking to himself like a drunken man about something that nobody could understand, he went up the hill. A whole lot of them were having a drinking-bout there, as we found out afterward, in the shop of Pamphilus the fuller. These fullers, you know, are great fellows for entertaining young bloods; and while the fullers sponge the clothes, these roysterers whet their whistles, and sometimes, I am credibly informed, it is hard to tell which is the fuller, the tradesman or the customer. So Ktesias went to the fuller's and roused the whole party up, and came down with them to the Agora. We had just made the round and got back to the point where Ktêsias passed us first, when the gang closed in on us. One of them, an unknown individual, fell upon my friend and kept him busy, while Konôn and his son and a third blackguard pitched into me, stripped off my clothes, tripped up my heels, and knocking me into the gutter, jumped on me and mauled me so that they cut my lips open and bunged my eyes, and left me in such a state that I could not get up nor utter a sound. And while I was lying there more dead than alive, I heard them say the awfullest things, and some of them I can't bring myself to tell you. But there is one thing that I cannot keep back, because its shows the spirit of this fellow Konôn, and proves that he was the head man in the affair. He crowed like a cock that had just thrashed another, and the rest of them cried, “Go it, Konôn ! clap your wings!” Of course he did did not have any wings, and so he clapped his sides with his elbows and crowed and clapped.
Just then some persons chanced to come up and took me home in my shirt, for the rascal had made away with my shawl. When they came to the door my mother and the maid-servants screamed and shrieked, and they had great difficulty in getting me into a bath-house – for I am none of your grandees, and I am not rich enough to have a bath-room at home. Indeed I was so begrimed that I had to be washed like a bundle of soiled clothes before the doctors could ex
amine me, and I was so weak that after the bath one of my friends insisted on my being taken to a house near by to avoid the fatigue of being carried home.
Well, it is true, the doctor said that the bruises in the face and the gashes were not dangerous. The danger was from the constant fevers that followed; and I had terrible pains all over my body, especially in the sides and the lower part of me, and I could not eat a mouthful. And the doctor said that if I had not had a copious discharge of blood I should have died of the accumulation of matter. But the flow of blood saved my life.
And now what in the world is Konôn going to say in reply to all this ? You have heard the testimony of the men that found me, the testimony of the doctor, the testimony of those who came to see me in my sickness. I understand that he is going to try to make a big joke of the whole affair. “ There is a set of young fellows in town,” he will say, “sons of the very first families, who have got up clubs, just like young men, and call each other all sorts of nicknames, the Cockadoodledoos, and the Devil's Demijohns. These secret societies embrace women as well as men, and it is quite the thing to give and take blows for the Dame Partlets of these Cockadoodledoos and the Dame Jeannes of these Demijohns. In fine, young men will be young men.” And then he will make out that we, my brothers and I, are just as bad as his boy in the matter of drinking deep and riding rough-shod over other people ; and much worse too, because we are cross-grained and bitter to boot. "We can give but we can't take a joke.” Now this is a lie out of whole cloth. No mortal man has ever seen us drinking or maltreating anybody. And I can't for my life see anything particularly cross-grained' in trying to get our satisfaction according to law. Konon's sons are free to be Cockadoodledoos and Devil's Demijohns, if they choose. We want to have nothing to do with such creatures. God forbid that we should imitate them.
How can they get off ? How can you let them off? This the scale as laid down in the law : foul language, assault and battery, mayhem, murder. Foul language leads to assault and battery, assault and battery leads to mayhem, mayhem to murder ; and every one of them is provided for by the law, so that no one has the right to take the law in his own hands, and I did not. And yet, if Konôn says : We are a band of Cockadoodledoos, and we serenade whomsoever we choose, and we do a little beating and a little choking whenever we see fit, are you going to laugh and let him off? It was no laughing matter to me, I assure you ; and would have been no laughing matter to you either, if you had been present, when they were hauling me about and tearing the clothes off my back and pummelling me, when I, who had come out of my house in full health, was carried home on a litter, and my poor mother rushed out of the house, and the women shrieked and screamed as if I were dead, so that the neighbors sent to ask what was the matter. Clearly they can't make a joke of it, and they can't claim a patent-right to violate the laws.
And then again, the plea of youth will not answer. Even if they could plead youth, that would only serve to lessen the punishment, not to do away with'it. But what are we to say of a man more than
fifty years old, who so far from dissuading or checking younger men
- and those his own sons takes the lead, and behaves the worst of the whole party, crows like a cock and claps his wings like a cock, and sets up to be the Grand Rooster of the Cockadoodledoos ? What earthly excuse can be made for him ? He deserves nothing short of death. What a son he must bave been himself to have such sons !
But here we take the liberty of interrupting the orator, and passing over the legal quibbles of which the opposing party had endeavored to evade the issue, and we resume at a point where the speaker launches upon a flood of invective against these hopeful Mohocks of the palmy days of Athens. For Mohocks they were even in the import of their name. Like the Mohock of the Spectator, they assumed the style and title of a barbarous tribe, the Triballi; and like the Mohocks, they were lost to all sense of shame. It seems that Konôn and his friends had brought up some of his set to testify in his favor, and Ariston wrathfully charges them with perjury.
“These witnesses are of the same kidney with them. Look at them, and especially at that grizzle-headed old fellow, who ought to have better sense. In the day-time they pull long faces and play the Puritan, and wear broad-brim hats and clerical ties; but when night comes, look out for rascalities. This is their style: ‘Shan't we swear one another through? Isn't that the way for club-mates to do? What harm can the testimony do you? Suppose somebody does say he saw the fellow ten? we will swear that you never laid the weight of your finger on him. That his coat was torn off his back? We will swear that the other party started that game. That his lip was so badly cut that it had to be stitched up? We will swear that you had to have your skull trepanned. We will swear and swear through thick and thin.'"
But here we leave Ariston, for here he begins to expatiate on the value of the medical testimony, which is wholly in his favor; and with our modern experience we can hardly help wondering at the fatuity of the great orator, who ought to have known better than to rest his cause on such a broken reed, for Greek medical terms could hardly have humbugged Greeks.
Or can it be that the Greek lawyers, astute as they were, had not attained to the device of bringing in the countervailing evidence of medical experts? If so, Galton can hardly be right in putting the average Greek intellect so far above ours; and Demosthenes might have learned a thing or two from our manipulators of the law. What easier than to have brought in a host of experts from Kôs or Athens itself to prove that a bunged eye is no indication of a bunger and might have come by nature ; that some kinds of skin-diseases simulate bruises closely; that Ariston's fever was an epidemic; that the pains in his body were the result of his eating three thrushes for dinner, and that the evidence of the prosecution was not complete without an analysis of the blood that had come from him ; and finally that most of his disorders might have been caused by a distempered