Sivut kuvina

false, ridiculous,and fabulous assertions; insomuch, that all our poets, orators, historians, and philosophers must be rejected and thrown away, as debauchers of youth, and corrupters of good manners, if their writings were once to be tried by the standard of our faith, and by the doctrine of Christianity; not to mention, I say, all this, I dare boldly affirm, that whatever propositions Lucretius advances, contrary to the Christian religion, are so visib y and notor oufly false, and consequently so easily answered, that they cannor in the least startle any one, who professes our holy belief: For instance, Lucretius, in his third book, after having, as he thinks, fully demonstrated the corporality of the human soul, brings no less than twenty-fix arguments to prove its mortality likewise: But all os them, when they come to be maturely considered, are os so little validity, and so obvious to be confuted, that, far from being able to stagger in the k ait the faith of a Christian, no man, I think, though but of mean capacity, can, on such slender and unconvincing proof-, believe, even if he would, that the soul dies with the bo tiy. Nor are his arguments, by which he labours to overthrow all belief of a divine Providence, and to wrest the power f creation out of the hands, even of Omnipotence itself, more cogent or persuasive, as will, I hope, be made appear in the following notes and animadversions; in which I have made it my chief study to show the weakness, and to expose to my readers the insufficiency of them. How well I have succeeded in my attempt must be lest to the judgment of the public; the design, I am sure, was well-meaning and honest; aud if the performance be answerable, it may justly challenge a savourab'e reception: For what Christian will not be p'ealed to see, that not even the most penetrating wit of Lucretius has been able to advance any thing fe lid against the power of that infinite God whom he adores; especially considering, that if any such impieties could have been defended, be certainly was capable of defending them:

-Si pergama dextra

Defendi polTcnt, certe hie defensa suissent. Virg.

^foreoyer, what danger can arise to any man, though b :t of common understanding, while he reads that ridiculous doctrine of the Epicurean philosophers concerning their atoms, or minute indivisible corpuscle?, which they held to be the first principles of all things? An opinion so absurd, that even the bare mentioning of it confutes it. So far, therefore, from being of dangerous consequence to us is the reading those absurdities of the ancients concerning the nature nf things, that, on the contrary, we may 'gain from thence the great advantage of acquiring a more perfect knowledge of nature, and of the wonderful work* of God: For nature has imprinted on all men an innate desire of truth ; and to know the false opinions of others, will excite and ir them up to be the more diligent in the inquiry and search of it will render them the more capable to judge and determine concerning it, and to retain in their

minds the more firmly the Convictions it imprints upon them. As light is then most beautiful when it first rises out of darkness, so truth is then most delightful when it first emerges out of errors. For as my lord Rofcommon finely expresses it,

Truth stamps conviction on your ravifh'd bread, And peace and joy attend the glorious guest.

F.Jsay tm TruifiaUd Past.

Nor it all that Lucretius has written, impious, false, or ridiculous: on the contrary, many excellent things arc contained in his poem; many that well deserve to be read and remembered even by Christians. How excellently does he declaim against ambition, and all manner of injustice tni cruelty; against superstition, and the fear of delta; against avarice, luxury, and lust; against all die other passions of the mind, and dishonest pleasure! of the body. Is he not continually exhorting his Memmius to sobriety, temperance, chastity, magnanimity, and all the rest of the moral virtues? Insomuch that what Diogenes writes of Epicurai seems to be true; that he was falsely accused by si me persons of indulging himself too much in pleasure, and that it was a mere calumny in them to wrest, as they did, to a wrong sense, tie meaning nf that philosopher, and to interpret what he said of the tranquillity of the mind, as if it huf been spoken os the sensual delights of the body. To the fame purpose Caffius, that great pnml of the Romans, after he had embraced the Eoicurean philosophy, writing to Cicero, explains this matter in the following words: They, fiyshe, whom we call lovers of pleasure, are indeed loren os goodness and of justice; and men who practise and cultivate all manner of virtues: fortnere'a no true pleasure without a good and virtuoas life: "ii, qui i nobis Qikaimi vocantur, sum fitKtXm xa) Qt\t&tniioi. omnesque virtutet et colunc et retinent: i Irinliuts «»(tf nmXif' ximt <;»." a- the fame Caffius there cites the very words of Epicurus, who himself takes notice of this calumny, and complains of the malice ani disingenuousness of his accusers, who, not sinder standing it aright, had misrepresented hi> doo trine concerning pleasure: When we assert, s»f he, that pleasure is the chief good and grestet felicity of man, we mean not the pleasures of Uv luxurious and libidinous; not the pleasures of tb taste, the touch, or any other sensual enjoyment! as some ignorant persons, or such as dissent frou our opinions, or as take them in a wrong fense maliciously give out: but what we call pleafar is, to be ixempt from pain of body, and to have mind serene and void of all cares and perturbs tions; for not the company of lascivious boys aw womca, not luxurious eating and drinking, not ti feed nn fish, and other delicious meats that load tb tables of the wealthy, nor any other sensual delight can procure a happy life; but a right and soul* reason, that searches into, and discern* the cause why seme things are to be desired, others tn avoids1; and that chases and expels those opini on-, bv means of which the mind is disquiets! and vexed with passions and anxieties. Thus •< set there is nothing so prudent, nothing so true, nothing so virtuous, but what, by being misrepresented, may be made to appear its contrary. Nor indeed is it probable, that so many excellent and wife men, who were such great ornaments and supports of the Roman commonwealth, would so assiduously have frequented the gardens of Epicurus, or have engaged themselves to one another in the ties of friendship, as even their dtsamers allow they did, had they not been fully convinced ef the good morals and innocence of life of that philosopher who first founded their sect: Galen, in An. Med. witnesses of him, that he constantly exclaimed aloud against the use of all venereal actions, that he neglected the advantages of life, that he contemned all daintiness and excess in eating; drinking, and apparel; and that he would often fay, that bread and water, when taken by those that wanted them, afforded the greatest pleasure. And in his epistles, which Diogenes JLacrtius had the good fortune to see, he testifies of himself, that he was content to live on brown bread and water only; but send me, fays he, a little of your Cyprian cheese, that I may feast myself deliriously, if I should have a mind to do so. Diodes reports of his disciples too, that they were satisfied with the meanest and the poorest fare: They scarce, fays he, ever tasted of wine, and water was their chief beverage. To confirm this, it is observed, that this abstemiousness of theirs was the reason that they were the better able to undergo hardships, when Demetrius besieged Athens, during which siege, says Plutarch in the life of that prince, the philosopher Epicurus sup ported those of his sect, sharing with them daily a certain small number os beans. Cicero himself, though he was a professed enemy to this sect, yet lays in many places, that the Epicureans were generally good men, and that none of the philosophers were less addicted to vice: And Seneca too witnesses of Epicurus, that he was a man eminently remarkable for his temperance and continence.

Thus lived Epicurus, whose very name nevertheless has for many ages been used as a proverb, to denote an atheistical voluptuous wretch, addicted to all manner of sensualities. Thus too lived his followers, who nevertheless are generally deemed to have been impious libertines, and represented as a herd of swine, indulging themselves m pleasure, and wallowing in all manner os impurities. How groundless this censure, hnw unmerited this reproach, the reader is left to judge, from the foregoing testimonies of the ancients, which, among many others that might have been produced, I have given in defence of the morals and innocence of life, both of Epicurus aud his followers.

1 wish there were as much to be said in behalf of their theology *. Let me not, however, be thought to endeavour to patronize and defend their impieties; if, in a few words I give the opinion of fpicurus concerning the Deity; against whom, I r.wn, be grievously offended, in absolutely denying a diuac Providence, and in dethroning the Ai

mighty from the government of the world i But

this impiety of his proceeded from an excess of superstition: For he apprehended that the eternal happiness, which the divine essence enjoys, must be perplexed and disturbed with the affairs of the lower world; nor could he comprehend how the most perfect aud happy Being, that stands not in need of any thing in the power of man, could be pleased at their good, or offended at their wicked deeds. For he imagined and taught, that business and cares, and anger, and joy, and gratitude, were inconsistent with perfect happiness, and proceeded from infirmity and weakness, and frona sear and indigence. But what just sentiments he had of the Deity we find in his epistle to Menœceus: God, fays he, is an iuimorral and ever blessed being; and even common reason teaches, that nothing can be ascribed to the Deity, that is repugnant either to immortality or beatitude: That there are gods we know for certain; but yet they are not such as many believe them to be: He therefore is not impious who denies the gods of the multitude; but who ascribes to the gods the opinions of the multitude: For those opinions are not principles known by the light of nature; but merely false notion*, that many conceive of the gods. Nor will I omit what Epicurus immediately subjoins: The gods, fays he, punish ihe wicked, and reward the good: For being, as they are, all virtue and goodness, they take delight in whatever is virtuous and like themselves. And in the compendium of his philosophy, which he writ to Herodotus, speaking of the meteors, we find the following passage: You ought not, fays he, to believe, that the motion and conversion of the heavens, the rising and setting of the planets, their eclipses, and the like, are the labour and work of any one, or effected by any other cause, but only by his will and command, who enjoys at once all immortality and beatitude.

Thus, whatever impious notions Epictirua might once have entertained of the Deity, it is not unreasonable to believe, that he was at length convinced of his error in that particular, and became, from an impious, a very pious philosopher. He persisted indeed to the last in his erroneous doctrine concerning the human soul; which he held to be corporeal, to ernsist of minute corpuscles, and alike with the body, to be obnoxious to mortality. In this, I own, he grievously erred: but yet, me.hinks, his censurers might animadvert with less severity against a poor shipwrecked heathen; since the Sadducees themselves, though they were brought up in the bosom os the law, struck on the same rock; considering besides, that by the consent, even of the best Christians, the immortality of the foul is an ocean that cannot be sounded, nor the danger avoided, without the immeasurable plu,mmet of faith.

Let none be offended that I have ventured thus far in defence of Epicurus, contrary to the commonly received opinion of that philosopher. It matters not much to our present purpose, whether he recanted his impieties or not; since jc cannot be denied but that Lucretius strenuously asserts them, and labours with all his force to inculcate his errors. Assertions of such a nature ought not to pass imcontrouled in so corrupt an age as ours; v/hen even the very arguments, by which Lucretius endeavours to make good his impieties, are revived afresh; and alleged to justify new-broached opinions, that visibly tend to the establishment of deism, and consequently to the subversion of all revealed religion: for which reason 1 have chiefly laboured in the following notes, to demonstrate the weakness and invalidity of those arguments, that are brought in eonsirmation of propositions, that are repugnant to our holy Christian faith.

Besides, books that treat of subjects that are naturally so crabbed and obscure, as are many of those of which Lucretius argues, cannot be turned into onr language in such a manner, as, by a bare translation only, to make them intelligible to a reader merely English, and that has no knowledge of the languages, in which the originals were composed; for the terms, though dark and difficult, must of necessity be retained j and yet they will not be understood by a great number of English readers. For example, the definition of the void, which we find in the first book of Lucretius, v, 334. is translated as follows:

A woid is space intangible.

Now I would fain know if those words do not as much require to be explained to a reader, who understands only the English language, as to one who knows the Latin, the following passage of Lucretius, of which they arc the translation?

Locus est intactus, inane, vacanfque.

And yet how many sheets have been silled, and what labour has been bestowed to explain the meaning of them, by the commentators on the Epicurean philosophy, is notorious to all the learned world. The leasts of lipicurus, both mathematicaL and physical, the homoaomcry of Anaxagoras, the harmony of Ari'.toxenus, are, till they are explained, no less difficult to understand; and ten thousand other instances of the like nature, that the reader will find in the following translation, are abundantly sufficient to evince the usefulness, and even the necessity of these notes. For, not to understand what we read, is at best but loss of time; and to take things in a wrong fense, or to gain an imperfect notice of them, as they must necessarily do, who understand by halves what they read, is always alike dangerous, and often proves of bad consequence, especially when the weak and unwary amuse themselves in the lectures of such authors 'as treat of subjects like those of which our poet disputes. Such readers, like men who fail in unknown seas, ought to be shown the rocks and (helving!, otherwise they are in great danger of being lost; for they are ever the most subject to take the strongest impressions j and it is no easy

task to eradicate from the miids of the less intelligent part of mankind, and dispossess them of those opinions which they have swallowed with greedy delight, and been long accustomed to believe. Such an inveterate credulity, like a disease of long standing, and that has gained a head, is not easy to cure; and, what is yet worse, we often find that the stiffest obstinacy attends the most erroneous belief.

To apply what I have been saying to the matter in hand, there is reason to suspect that some have not been wanting, and. 1 sear, are still to be found, who, nor bring capable of themselves to form a true judgment of these arguments of Lucretius, and for want of a right discernment, haw imbibed some of his false notions, and yielded too easy an assent to them: they have taken the shadow for the substance of reason, and thus have been wretchedly seduced into error. The follow, ing notes are chiefly intended, not only to undeceive such persons, but also tu prevent otherisrom falling into the like mistakes; and, if they compass that effect, I shall have no reason to think my labour misemployed, nor to sear the censure of the public.

Having given this short account of the reasoni that induced me to compose these annotations, it remains only to acquaint the reader with the helps I have had, and with the method 1 have observed in this undertaking.

As to the first of those points, the alphabetical catalogue of the names of the authors cited in the notes and animadversion*, i> a sufficient indicatioa that I have spared no pains, nor wanted any assistance that could be required to render th.s work as perfect in its kind, as any thing of this nature can be expected to be, and that whatever defects shall be found in it, must be imputed to my want of judgment and capacity, since I was abundantly supplied with all the materials that were requisite to accomplish my undertaking. And throughout the whole work, I seldom advance any thing of my own, but have collected only the opinion* of others, and left the reader to judge and de. termine concerning thetn.

In the text itseif I have taken care to supply all the verses which Mr. Creech had not translated; and that were never before; in any of the former editions of this English Lucretius. Those that were omitted towards the end of the fourth Book* where the poet treats of the nature of love, art taken from Mr. Dryden's translation of that part of our author. Of all the other verses that are now first inserted, I have given an account in their due places, in the notes upon them: Meanwhile, 1 have included all the verses that ut thus supplied between crotchets, as a mark of distinction, to let the reader know that they were not in any of the former editions. Besides, I have prefixed to every book a several Argument, in which, may be seen, at one view, not only the several subjects treated of in each of the. six books; but likewise the manner in which they are handled, the method of the poet's disputation, and the connection 1 of tiie following book to that which precede* !:. An J eich book conclude* with ananimadversi m, briefly recapitulating the contents of it, and condemning or approving the maxims and arguments contained and asserted in it. This method our translator himself has observed in his Latin edition of Lucretius; from whence the animadversion, which the reader will find at the end of eaci book, U chiefly taken. Moreover, to make this edition more perfect than any of the former, where, in many places, several of the poet's arguments and propositions are joined together, without any distinction where one ends or the other begins, I have been careful to distinguish them frera one another, by beginning each argument and proposition with a break; so that the reader will readily discern where it begins and where it ends: and that too the more easily, because each note begins by expressing the number of the verses t\hat each argument or proposition contains.

As for the translator's own excellent and learned notes on Lucretius, which have hitherto been printed at the end of all the former editions, and ail together by themselves, [ have now disposed them into the several places to which he had diiccted them, and they properly belong : insomuch that the reader will '.low find them, not as before, in a body by themselves, but intermixed with my annotations, without the least alteration, and in their proper place *.

Each note has a number prefixed before it, which directs to the number in the margin of the text; which last number, for the greater ease of the reader, marks every tenth verse of the translation, and shows how many verses are contained in each book.

It will be observed, that in the notes that are merely explanatory, I often differ from the fense of my author, I mean Mr. Creech; for I exactly follow the sense of Lucretius; whose meaning that interpreter has mistaken in many places of this translation. This I the more confidently affirm, because I have his own authority to strengthen my assertion: for, in his Latin edition of Lucretius, he often gives his author an interpretation far different from, nay, sometimes quite contrary I so what he makes him fay in this translation. One manifest instance of this", among many others, maybe seen in the note on the ,547th verse of the Jlh book, to which I refer the reader: and will 1 here only observe, that our translator's mistakes of this nature have often forced me to the necessity ef giving the original text of Lucretius; to the 1 end, thnt soch as understand the Latin may be convinced, that I have not taken upon me'to ; Uame and correct him without reason. And to myself from all manner of imputation upon that account, I have scarce through the whole totwse os these annotations, ever accused this translator of error, except only in passages to which Mr. Creech himself in his Latin edition of our author, has given a different interpretation from what we Sml in this translation; insomuch, that, by pointing cut theft mistakes to the reader, I have not

Tlii arrangement is altered in ties resent edltien.

T»asi. II.

only done justice to Lucretius, but in some measure even to his translator likewise : of whom 1 may say, without any derogation to his fame, that he had not so thoroughly digested his author when he translated him, as he had done afterwards when he came to publish his Latin notes upon him. And here, by the way, I cannot but wish that he had not been so severe on Du Fay, the editor cf the Lucretius in TJsum Dclphini, in lashing him at the unmerciful rate Le does in many places: in those notes, for errors 6f which himself had been guilty, and into which they had both been alike led by Lambine; especially, too, since it is most evident that he is often indebted to that interpreter, I mean Du Fay, for the true understanding of the scr.fe of his author. This will manifestly appear to any one, who will compare the notes of those two interpreters together, and reflect on the difference of time in which they were published.

But I have not taken Bpon me to correct our translator, only where he has palpably mistaken' the fense of his author, but in those places likewise that he has rendered obscurely or imperfectiy. One instance of this, among too many other', the reader may observe in the note on the r/86th verse os the second book, w here Lucretius, enumerating all the conjunct? and events, or properties and accidents of the Epicurean atoms, has included them all in the following verses:

die ipsis in rebus item jam materiiii
Intervalla, vite, connexus, pondcre, plagz,
Coucursus, motus, ordo, positura, figura:,
Cum permutantur, mutari re» quoque debent.

Lib. ii. v. I. loir.

To translate all which, Mr. Creech employs only these two verses and a half;

———In bodies so "J As their seeds, order, figure, motion do, J. t he things themselves must change and vary too. J

Now, how lamely and imperfectly the full fense; and meaning of the above passive os Lncretrus is expressed in this translation of it, appears, at first sighs, to all that are acquainted with the Epicurean philosophy, and is fully made appear in the note on these verses, to which I refervthc reader: and, in this place will only take notice, that ( might justly have been blamed for discharging but ill the province I had undertaken, to explain LucretiuVs system of the Epicurean philosophy, had I not supplied what I sound wanting in this place, in order to attain the perfect understanding of the fense of the original,' which 1 sound thus wretchedly mangled in the translation. I have observed th« like method throughout this whole work, having used my utmost diligence in com. paring the translation with the original, and show, ing all along in what it differs, from it; insomuch that the following annotation?,1 in which is contained a complete system of the Epicurean philosophy, arc rather notes on the original poem of Lu* Cretius, than on Mr. Creech's translation of it.

To conclude: Though I have swelled this work to a great length, yet 1 Gave made my notes »nst 'nimadversions at fliort as I could without omitt'ng any thing that I thought might conduce to the explication of the fense and meaning of the ]>oet, to the right understanding of the historical and sanulous passages contained of him, to the ex

plaining of the several terms and expression! (ha: are not known to the generality of readers; tothe intelligence of any thing that seemed difficult to understand, or, in a word, to the illustration of the whole.


The present design does not require an exact search into the rise os philosophy, nor a nice injury, whether it began amongst the Brachmans; and from them, as Lucian, in Fugitivii, rank* the countries, Visited Ethiopia, Egypt acythia, Thrace, and Greece, or whether curiosity or necessity was the parent of it. The Chaldeans were invited to astronomy by the advantjgeoufness of their wideextended plains; and the overflowing of the Nile forced the Egyptians to be curious in the properties of figures ; but 1 shall take it for granted, that philosophy came from the east. The truth of this, not to mention the weak oppositions of Laertius, ID his prclacs, the travels of Thajes and Pythagoras, of Deniocritui, Plato, and other*, lufiicicutly tvince; and the Egyptians affirm, that the several methods of philoluphy of the abovementioncd ancients, are only their notions disguised, dressed after a Greek falhiou, and in that garb proposed to their admirers. Thus, it is probable, that Lomocritus received his notions from Moschus, the Phœnician, or fiom the priests of Egypt, whole ambition for antitiuity made them embrace some of those their absurd opinions: or, if he travelled farther, he perhaps learned the whole system os his philosophy, the fortuitous beginning of the world, and the origin of man, from the Indians, that being now the opinion of the principal philosophers in China, whither the learning of all India long ago retired.

This hypothesis, though commended to men ai the strongest expedient against cares, and as the exictcil method to obtain tranquillity, found not, nevertheless, many adraiier*, till Epicurus by an almost infinite number of volumes w hich he writ on that subject, endcarouied to illustrate and recommend it to the world. Vet, notwithstanding he was lo voluminous a writer, he, as Plutarch assures, added only one improvement to the hypothesis of Democritus, which is the decUnation, or inclining motion of an atom.

What Epicurus was in his morals, is not easy to determine ; for, sometimes he seems to have been temperate and modest, otherwise Seneca would not have so often uied his sentences as ornaments, in his most serious epistles: at other times, he seems to have bcea a most loose and dissolute voluptuary, for such his books declare him, if we may credit Tuliy, who, De. Fin. lib. a. sect. 7. makes a very confident appeal to man

ud for the sincerity of bis quotations; so that,

upon the whole matter, we cannot but be amazed

at the unsettled humour os the man.

After his death, though in his will be bad mace great provision for the perpetuity of his sect, his opinions were but coldly received, and the school decayed, till C Memnius, a man of ancient nobility, restored the garden, aud, as Cicero acquaints us, designed to raise a public building [or the advancement os Epicurism. His fame and authority drew many after him; aud we find registered, at once as famous, Velleiui, Patro, and our author Lucretius, of whole life antiquity has transmitted to us but few particulars, perhaps for the fame reason that Ælian with reluctance mentions Diagoras, because he was an enemy to tte gods; 9i«f yif tMyifiti, xxi i pi,

tTixKtii-av p.tf4tr,rfaf ii*rit fays that author, lib. 1. cap. 13. VVhat we know of him is as follows:

His name was Titus Lucretius Carus, and no other: fur what Lambinus pretends, that besides his first name Titus, by the Latins called Prainomen, and which answers to what we call cur Christian name, besides the name of his family, Lucretius, and hi, surname, Carus, he may hare been called cither T. Lucretius Vespillo Cams, or thus, T. Lucretius Offella Carus, is mere conjecture, and grounded on no authority wha'.foever. Carus was a Roman surname, of wrath Ovid and many others make mention; but we no where find how it came to be given to Lucretius, However, it is not improbable but that it wa conferred upon him, either on account of his excellent and sprightly wit, his affability aDd sweetness of temper and manners, or for some other the like endearing qualities, that rendered him agreeable to those with whom he conversed.

That he was a Roman, and born at Rome, i; agreed on all hands, and even his owl testimony assures us of it: therefore, what Cornelius Niy^ writes of T. Pompenius Atticus, that it was the gift of fortune, that, preferable (O all other places, lie was born in that city where the feat of th< empire of the whole earth was established, thi he might have the same country and sovereign may well be applied'to Lucretius, of whom wi may fay, that the fame city which was his conn try was mistress of the world.

His very name directs us to the noble and an cient family of the Lucretii, which, being divide* into many branches, comprehended under it thi Tricipitiui, the Ciun*, the Vcspilloucs, the Trio


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