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While hi» learn'd tongue nature's great secret! told,
Whole streams of tears in mighty numbers roll'd.
Therefore I'll sing to cure these wanton scan, Why sun and moon mete out the circling years: How bodies first began: But chiefly this, 161 Whence comes the foul, and what her nature is: What frights her waking thoughts, what cheats her eyes,
When sleeping, or difeas'd, she thinks she spies
I'm sensible the Latin in too poor
These fears, that darkness, which o'erspreads our fouls,
Day can't disperse; but those eternal rules, Which from firm premises true reason draws, And a deep insight into nature's laws. lie
And now let this as the first rule be laid: Nothing was by the gods of nothing made. From hence proceeds all our distrust and fear; That many things in heaven and earth appear, Whose causes far remote and hidden lie, ~) Beyond the ken of vulgar reason's eye; y And therefore .men ascribe them to the Deity. J But this once prov'd, it gives an open way To nature's secrets, and we walk in day. How things arc made, and how preserv'd we'll prove, 100 Without the trcnble of the powers above.
If nothing can be fertile, what law binds All beings still to generate their own kinds? Why do not all thing* variously proceed From cv'ry thing? What use of similar seed? Why do not birds, why fish not rise from earth, And men and trees from water take (heir birth? Why do not herds and flocks drop down from air?
Wild creatures and untam'd spring ev'ry where.
For did not proper feeds on all things wait,
Besides, why is ripe corn in summer found? aio
\Vhile mother earth has warmth and strength t» bear.
And can with safety trust her infant budi to the mild air.
Things made of nothing would at once appear
Besides, no need of time for things to grew:
Again, the earth puts forth no gaudy flow n, Unless impregnated with timely fhow'rs! And living creatures too, that scarce receive Supplies of food; nor can beget, nor live. Wherefore, 'tis better to conclude there are Many first common bodies every where, Which join'd, as letters words, do things compost, Than that from nothing any thing arose.
Besides, why does weak nature make such small. Such puny things for men? Why not so tall, That while they wade through seas and swelling tides, ill Th' aspiring waves should hardly touch theitMuf Why not so strong, that they with ease might tot The hardest rocks, and throw them through the air?
Why cannot she preserve them in their prime,
Lastly, experience tells us that wild roots,
Besides, as nothing nature's pow'r creates: So death dissolves,but not annihilates. For could the substances of bodies die, They presently would vanish from our eye; And, without force, dissolving, perish all; And silently into their nothing fall. But now since things from seeds eternal rise; 1 Their ( arts well join'd and fitted, nothing die?,> Unless some force break off the nat'ral tie*. 3
If all things, over which long years prevail, 1?' Did wholly perish, and their matter fail, How could the pow'rs of all-kind Venus breed A constant race of an'mal to succeed? Or how the earth eternally supply, With constant food, each his necessity I
this all, "J
1 secure; s fall. J
How could the springs and rivers slow so far,
Again, the fame force ev'ry thing would break,
And scatters things to their first feeds again.
Lastly, when lather ether kindly pours On fertile mother earth his seminal lhow'rs, ion They lrtm to periih there: But strait new juice Ferment, and various herbs and trees produce, Whose trunks grow strong, and spreading brauches
shoot, [fruit. Look fresh, and green, and bend beneath their These nourishment to man and beast do prove: Hence our towns fill with youth; with birds each
Who fit and sing; and in a num'rous throng, With new-iledg'd wings clap, and applaud the song. *
These sat our cattle, that distended lie 308
Now since we have by various reasons taught,
J To them, from their effects, we grant to be.
'For first the winds disturb the iea», and tear
1 he sioutest ships, and chase the clouds through air: [course Sometimes through humble plains their vi'lent They bend, and beat down trees with mighty force;
Sometimes they rife so high, their strength so great.
With furious storms they lofty mountains beat,
Aadtcar the w«-od».
These mutt be bodies, though unseen they be, Vkiea thus disturb heav'n, earth, and air, aud sea, H'iich hardest rocks, and oaks, and all things tear; 33' «nd Hutch them up in v. hirlings through the air:
They all rush on as headlong rivers flow,
And all before them : Sometimes upward bear
The num'rous odours too, whose smells delight, And please the nose, are all too thin for light. 350 We view not heat, nor sharpest colds, which wound
The tender nerves: Nor can we fee a sound.
They shake the nerves. Now whatsoe'er does touch,
Or can be'touch'd, is body, must be granted such.
Besides, fresh clothes, expanded near the main, Grow wet; but by the fun are dry'd again: Yet what eye saw when first the moisture sate? Or when it rose, and fled before the heat? 36c Therefore w« mull conclude, the drops t' have been
Dissolv'd to parts, too subtle to be seen.
Nay more, 'tis certain, ev'ry circling year, The rings, which grace the hands, diminish there: Drops hollqw stones; and while we plough, the
Grows les»; The streets, by often treading, wear.
By touch of those that visit or pass by. 369
Lastly, not tv'n the sharpest eye e'er sees What parts, to make things grow by just degrees, Nature does add; nor what Ihe takes away, When age steals softly on, and things decay. Nor what the salt, to set the waters free, Frets from the rocks, and beats into the sea: 'Tis certain then, that much which nature does, She works by bodies, undiscern'd by us. 380
Yet bodies do not sill up every place;
And teach you plainest methods to descry
Because where'er the pressing motion goes, ~i It still must meet with stops, still meet withf
foes: ■ _ 390 f
'TIs natural 10 bodies to oppose. J
But ev"ry one now sees that things do move
Vails to the feet, and visits ev'ry limb.
ches shoot. 410 J
Sounds pass through well-clos'd rooms, and hard.
And rig"rous winter's frosts affect our bones.
Besides, why have not bodies equal weight
But some object: The floods to fish give way,
For, how could fish e'er ply their nat'ral oars.
Let two broad bodies meet, and part again,
But now, should seme suppose these marbles part,
Made firm by nature, and polite by sr:,
Because the air's condens'J, they err: 'tis plila
Nor are these all; ten thousand reasons morJ, Clear, firm, convincing, yet ne'er heard before, Might be produe'd; but these, my curious youtii, Will guide thy searching mind to farther truth. For as hounds, once in trace, still bear about, Pursue the scent, and find the quarry out; 460 So you, my Memmius, may from one thin; known
To hidden truths socessfully go on.'
But to go on:
This all consists of body and of space:
Besides, whatever is, a power must own, "I
For, whatsoe'er may seem of more degrees, Are but th' events or properties of these. Which to explain; we call those properties, Which never part, except the subject dies: So weight to stones, so moisture to the sea, So touch to body is, and to be free From touching is to void; but peace and wealth, War, concor'd, flav'ry, liberty, and health, Whose presence or whose absence nor prevents Nor brings the subject's rnin, are events.
Time of itself is nothing, but from thought Receives its rise; by lab'ring fancy wrought From things confider'd, while we think on some As present, some as past, and some to come. No thought can think on time ; that still confell, But thinks on things in motion or at rest.
Yet while the sons of fame their songs empkr On Helen's rape, or mourn the fall of Troy,
Take heed, nor fancy from such talcs as these
Lastly; suppose no frame, no seeds had been,
But farther; bodies arc of diff'rent kinds,
So iron glows, and rocks dissolve in fire,
Two sorts of beings reason's eye descry'd, 550
But farther an : since things of feeds compos'd Hold vciJ, that thing by which that void's endos'd
!• perfect solid; for what cife employ'd 560
This solid matter must for ever last,
So grant no void, no spaces unpossefs'd,
Nor all is empty space, nor altfs full.
But solid seeds exist, which fill their place,
These, as I prov'd before, no active flame,
No subtle wedge divide, or break in two.
Besides, were feeds not eternal
All things would rife from nought, and all return To nought: nothing would be both womb and
But since my former reasons clearly taught
Then feeds are solid, else how could they last?
When nature things divides, did (he go on
mass combin'd; For things are easier far dissolv'd than Then nature, who, through all these ages past, Has broke the seeds, and still goes on to waste, Could scarce contrive, though num'rous years remain, 6ei To fit, unite, and join them dose again. But now 'tis plain, by strictest reason try'd, Nature does not to infinite divide, Since things are made, and certain years endure, In which they spring, grow, and become mature. But more; though seeds are hard through all their frame, A compound may be soft, as water, flame, Whate'er it is, or whencesoe'er it springs, 609 Because we grant a void, commix'd with things; But were they soft, no reason could be shown How harden'd iron's fram'd, or harder For nature then would want fit seeds upon.
Then solid seeds exist, whose num'rous throng. Closely combin'd, makes compounds firm and
strong. (growth Besides; since things have time for life and Prefix'd, and certain terms are set for both; Since bounds are plac'd, o'er which they cannot
go, 61$ And laws speak what they can and cannot do; Since things not change ; for all the kinds that fly Are cloth'd with plumes of the fame curious dye; The matter must be firm, the seeds must be Unchangeable, from alteration free: For, grant the seeds may change, we could not
What things would beprodue'd, or when,or how;
How great their pow'r would rise, how far extend,
Farther: those parts of things that utmost lie
No scree can loose the tie, or break the chain. Then seeds are simple solids, and their parts combin'd 64c By strongest bands, but not of others join'd. These nature keep' entire: these seeds supply tor future things, repaiting those that die.
Besides; suppose no least, then seed* resin'd, Too small for sense, nay, scarce perceiv'd by mind, Would still be full, still iium'rou* parts contain No end, no bound, but infinite the train; And thus the greatest and the smallest frame 648 Would both be equal, and their hounds the fame; For though the all be infinite, each single grain And smallest feeds as num'rous parts contain: But that's absurd, by rcas< n's laws cuulcfs'd, And therefore nature must admit a least; Not fram'd of others, which no parts can show, And which is solid and eternal too.
Besides; diJ nature not resolve to least, Her pow'r quite spent, her works had long since cca^'d:
Her force all gore; no beings rais'd anew, 658
Tartly; great nature infinitely divides,
They grossly err who teach all rife from sire;
For how could bodies, of so dilT'rent frame, So various rife from pure and re.il flame. Nor can you clear the doubt by fond pretence That fire is made more rare, or else more dense: This changes not the sire, 'tis still the lame; 62o If dense, a strong; if rare, a weaker flame. Yet this is all that can be said.
Who can believe that nature's various pride Can spring from Same, condeiis'd or rarify'd? *Tis true, did they admit an empty space, ~) Then Hume, made rare, might sill a larger place, > Qr dense, eoiubuit: wj.h, a more strict embrace. J
But since they think that hard, and void oppose,
This proves a void commix'd
but if by any means, however, strange, T he flame could pcrilh, and its parts could change; If this could once be done, then all its heat, And its whole nature would to nought retreat, And therefore bodies would from nothing rife; f or what is chang'd from what it was, that dies. But after change some feeds must still remain, jot Lest all should sink to nought, and thence return again.
Now, since our former reasons clearly show Some seeds, and those of constant nature too, Whole presence, absence, or vi hose difis'rent range Of order makes the things themselves to change; We certainly conclude they are not flame; For then 'twould nought import, what newly came,
What chang'd its order, or what did retire, Since all would be of the fame nature, fire. 710
But this is my opinion.
Some feeds exist, from whose site, figure, size,
Concussion, order, motion, flames arise:
And when the order's chang'd, the parts of fire
Their nature lose, and silently expire.
she disunited bodies fly from thence,
Not flame, nor any object of the fense.
But now to think, as Hcraclitus tells, That all that is is fire, and nothing else; 'Tis fond ; aud certainty of fense o'erthrows, j:e By which alone that flame exists he knows. In this he credit gives: but fears t' afford The like in things as plain; and that's absurd: For what can judge, and what our search secure Like sense, truth's great criterion > What so sure.'
Besides; why should we rather all disclaim, Reject all else, and fancy only flame, Than sire deny, and all things else receive! Both which 'tis equal madness to believe, [birth
Therefore all those who teach things took their From simple sire, or water, air, or earth, Lie under palpable mistakes.
That teach from doubled elements they rose,
Thus fung Empedocles
In fruitful Sicily, whose crooked sides 1 Th' Ionian washes with impetuous tides, > And a small frith from Italy divides. J Here Scylla raves, and fierce Charybdis roars, 74« ! Beating with boist'rcius waves the trembling shores,
Here prefs'd Enceladus with mighty loads Vomits revenge in flames against the gods: Through Ætna's jaws be impudently threats, And thund'ring heav'n wirh equal thunder beats i Thus isle; though with such wojid'ious sights a these
i She call forth fjav'llers, aod tlw curious please;