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A Budget of Paradoxes, Volume I by De Morgan

Kai pas christianos hei christianos kakos


THOMAS

TAYLOR, THE PLATONIST.

The Commentaries of Proclus.[420] Translated by Thomas Taylor.[421] London, 1792, 2 vols. 4to.[422]

The reputation of "the Platonist" begins to grow, and will continue to grow. The most authentic account is in the _Penny Cyclopaedia_, written by one of the few persons who knew him well, and one of the fewer who possess all his works. At page lvi of the Introduction is Taylor's notion of the way to find the circumference. It is not geometrical, for it proceeds on the motion of a point: the words "on account of the simplicity of the impulsive motion, such a line must be either straight or circular" will suffice to show how Platonic it is. Taylor certainly professed a kind of heathenism. D'lsraeli said, "Mr. T. Taylor, the Platonic philosopher and the modern Plethon,[423] consonant to that philosophy, professes polytheism." Taylor printed this in large type, in a page by itself after the dedication, without any disavowal. I have seen the following, Greek and translation both, in his handwriting: "[Greek: Pas agathos hei agathos ethnikos; kai pas christianos hei christianos kakos.] Every good man, so far as he is a good man, is a heathen; and every Christian, so far as he is a Christian, is a bad man." Whether Taylor had in his head the Christian of the New Testament, or whether he drew from those members of the "religious world" who make manifest the religious flesh and the religious

devil, {189} cannot be decided by us, and perhaps was not known to himself. If a heathen, he was a virtuous one.

A NEW ERA IN FICTION.

(1795.) This is the date of a very remarkable paradox. The religious world--to use a name claimed by a doctrinal sect--had long set its face against amusing literature, and all works of imagination. Bunyan, Milton, and a few others were irresistible; but a long face was pulled at every attempt to produce something readable for poor people and _poor children_. In 1795, a benevolent association began to circulate the works of a lady who had been herself a dramatist, and had nourished a pleasant vein of satire in the society of Garrick and his friends; all which is carefully suppressed in some biographies. Hannah More's[424] _Cheap Repository Tracts_,[425] which were bought by millions of copies, destroyed the vicious publications with which the hawkers deluged the country, by the simple process of furnishing the hawkers with something more saleable.

_Dramatic fiction_, in which the _characters_ are drawn by themselves, was, at the middle of the last century, the monopoly of writers who required indecorum, such as Fielding and Smollett. All, or nearly all, which could be permitted to the young, was dry narrative, written by people who could not make their personages _talk character_; they all spoke {190} alike. The author of the _Rambler_[426] is ridiculed, because his young ladies talk Johnsonese; but the satirists forget that all the presentable novel-writers were equally incompetent; even the author of _Zeluco_ (1789)[427] is the strongest possible case in point.


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