Sivut kuvina
PDF

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
Thin ghosts in various shapes about her bed:
And seems to hear the voices of the dead.

I'm sensible the Latin in too poor
To equal the vast riches of the Grecian store:
New matter various nature still affords,
And new conceptions still require new,words. 170
"Yet, in respect to you, with great delight
I meet these dangers; and I wake all night,
JLab'ring fit numbers, and fit words to find,
To make things plain, and to instruct your mind,
And teach her to direct her curious eye
Into coy nature's greatest privacy.

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.
The same tree would not rise from the same root,
The cherry would not blush in the same fruit:'
Nought six'd and constant be ; but cv'ry year IC1
Whole nature change, and all things all things
bear.

For did not proper feeds on all things wait,
How then could this thing still proceed from that?
But now since constant nature all things breeds,
From matter, fitly join'd with proper feed-;
Their various lhapes, their different properties,
Is the plain cause why all from all can't rife.

Besides, why is ripe corn in summer found? aio
Why not bald u inter with fresh roles crown'd?
Why not his cu;s o'crtlow with new prclVd wine?
Why sweaty autumn only treads the vine?
But because seeds to vital uhiun cast,
Spring and appear, but while the seasons last;

\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
At any time, and quarter of the year;
Since there's no feed, whose nature might remit,
And check their growth until the season's fit. 111

Besides, no need of time for things to grew:
For time would be a measure e'en too flow;
But in one instant, if from nought began,
A Ihrub might be a tree, a boy a man.
But this is false: Each mean observer sees,
Things grow from certain feeds by just degrees;
And growing keep their kind: Aud hence wei
know, I
That things from proper matter rise and grow, I
By proper matter fed and DourisiVd too. 130)

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,
Above the pow'r of all-devouring time
Why wanton childhood coda in youthful rage,
And youth falls swiftly into doating age?
But because things on certain feeds depend,
For their first rife, continuance, and end. tjt
Therefore unfruitful nothing nothing breeds;
Since all things owe their life to proper feeds.

Lastly, experience tells us that wild roots,
Bctter'd by art and toil, bear noble fruits.
Whence we conclude, that feeds of bodies lie,
In earth's cold womb, which, set at liberty,
By breaking of the clods, in which they lurk,
Spring briskly up, and do their ptoper work.
For, were there none, though we no help afford,
Things would be better'd of their own accord.

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

sao

this all, "J

1 secure; s fall. J

How could the springs and rivers slow so far,
And fill a sea } How could th' air feed each star.'
For whatsoe'er could into nothing waste,
Ttit infinite spacers time already pass'd,
Had quite consum'd. 180
But if those bodies, which compose thia all,
Could for so many ages past endure
They are immortal, and from death
And therefore cannot into nothing fall,

Again, the fame force ev'ry thing would break,
Were not the union made more strong or weak
By their immortal feeds: Nay, more than that,
One single touch would be the stroke of fate.
For thing!, where no eternal feeds are found,
Would strait dissolve, aud die with any wound.
But since the seed's eternal, and the frame 291
Of bodies, and their union nut the fame;
Things may secure, and free from danger stand,-}
Until some force, driv'n by an envious hand, j.
Proportion'd to the texture, break the band. 3
Thus death dissolves alone; death breaks the

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

grove,

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
On fertile banks, their spighrsul young ones by,
Rev'ling on milk, which their fwoin udders yield,
Grow gay, and brisk, and wanton o'er the field.
And therefore bodies cannot fall to nought,
Since one thing still is from another bought
By prov'dcnt nature, who lets nothing rife,
Nor be, except from something else that dies.

Now since we have by various reasons taught,
That nothing rises fiom, It falls to nought;
Lest you dissent, because these seeds must lie
beyond the ken, cv'u of the sharpest eye:
Know there are bodies, which 110 eyes can fee, 310

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,
Swoln big with falling fhow'rs, or melting snow;
And rocks and trees o'erturn, and weighty beams;
And whirl their conquer'd prey in rapid streams.
No bridge can check, no force the stream controul;
It grows more wild, and fierce, and beats the mole.
Ruin and noise attend where'er it flows,
It rolls great stones, and breaks what dares op-
pose. 34o
So rush the blasts of«wind, which, like a flood,
Which way soe'er they tend, drive rocks and
wood,

And all before them : Sometimes upward bear
In rapid turns, and whirl them in the air.
'Tis certain then, these winds, that rudely sight,
Are bodies, though too subtle for our sight;
Since they do work as strong, as furious grow,
As rapid streams, which all grant bodies do.

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.
Yet these are bodies, for they move the fense;
And strait sweet pleasure, or quick paint com-
mence;

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

share

Grows les»; The streets, by often treading, wear.
The brazen statues, that our gates adorn,
Show their right hands diniiniih'd much, and
worn.

By touch of those that visit or pass by. 369
'Tis certain from all these some parts must fly;
But when those bodies part, or what they be,
Malicious nature grants not pow'r to fee.

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;
For beside those, there is an empty space,
A void. This known, this notion form'd aright,
Will bring to my discourse new strength and
light;

And teach you plainest methods to descry
1 he greatest secrets cf philosophy.
A void is space intangible: Thus prov'd,
Fo: were there none, uo body could be niov'd.

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
So that to move would be in vain to try;
But all would fix'd, stubborn and moveless lie;
Because no yielding body could be found.
Which first should move, and give the other

ground.

But ev"ry one now sees that things do move
With various turns, in earth, and heav'n above:
Which, were no void, not only we've not seen,
But bodies too themselves had never been,
Ne'er generated; for matter, all fides prest 400
With other matter, would forever rest. [pear,
Though free from pores, though solid things ap-
Yet many reasons prove them to be rare.
For drops distil, and subtle moisture creeps
Through hardest rocks, and ev'ry marble weeps.
Juice, drawn from food, ev'n to the head does
climb,

Vails to the feet, and visits ev'ry limb.
Trecsgrow, and at due seasons yield their fruit
Because the juice, drawn by the lab'ring root, f
Does rise into the trunk, and through the bran- C

ches shoot. 410 J

Sounds pass through well-clos'd rooms, and hard.

est stones;

And rig"rous winter's frosts affect our bones.
This could not be, were there no empty space,
Through which these moveables might freely pass.

Besides, why have not bodies equal weight
With those whose figure is but just as great?
For, did as many equal bodies frame ("fame.
Both wool and lead, their weight would be the
For ev'ry part of matter downwards tends,
By nature heavy; but no void descends.
Wherefore those lighter things, of equal size,
Do left of matter, more of void comprise.
But by the heavier more of seed's enjoy'd;
And these convincing reasons prove a void.

But some object: The floods to fish give way,
Who cut their passage through the yielding sea;
Because they leave a space where'er they go,
Tc* which the yielding waters circling flow;
And hence by an analogy they prove.
That, though the world were full, yet things may
move. 430
But this is weak.

For, how could fish e'er ply their nat'ral oars.
How cut the sea, and visit distant shores,
Unless the waves gave way? How these divide,
Except the fish first part the yielding tide?
Therefore fight sense, deny what that will prove,
Discard all motion, and the pow'r to shove,
Or grant a void, whence things begin to move.

Let two broad bodies meet, and part again,
The air must fill the space that's left between. 440
And ev'n suppose it flies as swift as thought,
Yet common fense denies it can be brought
O'er all at once: the nearest first posscss'd,
And thence 'xis hurry'd on, and fills the rest.

But now, should seme suppose these marbles part,

Made firm by nature, and polite by sr:,

[ocr errors]

3

Because the air's condens'J, they err: 'tis plila
That a wide void is made and sillM again:
Nor can the air condens'd be thus employ'dj
Or, if it cou'd, yet not without a void, 450
Could all the parts contract to shorter space,
And be conibin'd with a more dose embrace.
Thus though you cavil, yet at last o'ercome,
You must ignobly grant a vacuum.

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.'
Pursue coy truth with an unerring sense,
Into her close recess, and force her thence.
Go bravely on; and, in such things as these,
Ne'er doubt; I'll promise thee descrv'd fuccesi:
And my full soul is eager to declare . 1
So many secrets, that I justly sear, >
Ere I shall prove but one particular, J
The reasons flow in such a num'rous throng, »;3
That age or hasty death will break the song.

But to go on:

This all consists of body and of space:
That moves, and this affords the motion place.
That bodies are, we all from sense receive;
Whose notice, if in this we disbelieve,
On what can reason fir, on what rely? j
What rule the truth of her deductions try .•
In greater secrets of philosophy? J
Suppose no void, as former reasons prove, it1
No body could enjoy a place, or move:
Besides these two, there is no third degree
Distinct from both; nought that has pow'r to bt.
For if 'tis tangible, and has a place,
'Tis body; if intangible, 'tis space.

Besides, whatever is, a power must own, "I
Or fit to act, or to be acted on, >
Or be a place in which such things are done. J
Now, bodies only suffer and act; and place
Is the peculiar gift of empty space: 47E
And thus a diff'rent third in vain is sought;
And ne'er can be found out by sense or thongs-

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
That actions are, that they subsist confess.
Since all, of whom they were events, war's rage
Long since destroy'd, or more devouring age.
For action, or whate'er from action springs,
It call'd th' event os.countries or of things.

Lastly; suppose no frame, no seeds had been,
To act these things, nor space to act them in;
No gentle fire had warm'd kind Paris' breast,
No flames from beauteous Helen's eyes increasM,
And kindled dreadful war; no teeming horse 5ZI
Brought forth in one stiort night so great a force
As ruin'd stately Troy; which plainly show
That actions not subsist as bodies do;
Neither as void, but as events alone [clone.
Of places where, and things hy which they're

But farther; bodies arc of diff'rent kinds,
Or principles, or made of those combin'd.
The principles of things no force can break;
They are too solid, and all strokes too weak : j30
Though such can hardly be believ'd: for voice,
Or thunder's sound, or cv'ry louder noise,
Breaks through our walls, which yet remain en-
tire:

So iron glows, and rocks dissolve in fire,
Strong flames divide the stubborn gold and brass,
And to a liquid substance break the mass?
Through silver, heat and cold : and each disdains,
And scorns a prison, though in precious chains.
This fense perceives; for, hold a silver cup,
And pour some water gently in at top, 540
Th' imprison'd heat or cold strait break their
bands, [hands.
Crow fierce, fly through, and warm or chill the
These instances are strong ; these seem t' explain
That being*, in their vast extent, contain
No perfect solids; creatures of the brain!
But yet attend my muse; she sweetly sings;
(Because right reason and the frame of things
Such feeds require) attend, she briefly (hows,
And proves that things from perfect solids rose.

Two sorts of beings reason's eye descry'd, 550
And prov'd before: their diff'recce vastly wide:
Body and void, which never could agree
lo any one essential property.
For body, as 'tis matter, is from place
Distinct , and void from body, as 'tis space.
Both these distinct subsist: and thus 'tis prov'J,
That feeds are solid, and from space remov'd.

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
Can hold a space, or what contain a void?
Now what can sense, what searching reason find
To hold this void, but solid seeds combin'd f

This solid matter must for ever last,
Eternally endure, while compounds waste.

So grant no void, no spaces unpossefs'd,
Then all would solid be, and all at rest.
And grant no solids, which fill up the place
That they possess, all would be empty space.
.And thus seeds miz'd with void compose the
whole;

Nor all is empty space, nor altfs full.
T*a*i. 1L

[ocr errors]

But solid seeds exist, which fill their place,
And make a diss'rence betwixt full and space.

These, as I prov'd before, no active flame,
No subtle cold can pierce, and break their frame.
Though ev'ry compound yields: no pow'tful
■ blow,

No subtle wedge divide, or break in two.
Fur nothing can be struck, no part destroy'd
By pow'rful blows, or cleft without a void,
And things that hold most void, when strokes do

press, 580
Or (ubtle wedges enter, yield with ease.
Is seeds then solid are, they must endure
Eternally, from force, from stroke secure.

Besides, were feeds not eternal

All things would rife from nought, and all return To nought: nothing would be both womb and

urn.

But since my former reasons clearly taught
That nothing rises from or sinks to nought;
Those various things eternal feeds compose,
And death again dissolves them into 'hose; Joi
And thence new things were fram'd, new crea-
tures rose.

Then feeds are solid, else how could they last?
How things repair, so many ages past?

When nature things divides, did (he go on
Dividing still, and never would have done
The feeds had been so small, so much refin'd,
That nothing could have grown mature

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

know

What things would beprodue'd, or when,or how;

3

[ocr errors]

How great their pow'r would rise, how far extend,
How long they'd live, or when their actions end;
N> r should we find the fame delights pursu'd,
Ni r parents natures in their young renew'd. 629

Farther: those parts of things that utmost lie
Are something, though too suhtle for our eye.
And these are leasts: they never break the chain,
And by themselves subsist, nor ever can;
For they are parts, whose both extremes the fame;
And such like, plac'd in order, bodies frame.
Since these subsist not in a sep'rate state,
Their union must be strong, too firm for fate:
Aud stroke aud wedge may try their strength in
vain;

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
Nor things repair'd : for no composures show
What feeds must have those cath'lic qualities,
Nature's great instruments, weight, motion, size.

Tartly; great nature infinitely divides,
And never ceases you mull grant besides
That still si me Reds exist, which, never hrnkc,
Remain secure, free from the pow'r of stroke:
But 'tis absurd frail feeds should bear the rage
<Jf stroke- unhurt, nor yield to pow'rful age

They grossly err who teach all rife from sire;
As HeiuClitus, whom vain Greeks admire
For dark expression; but the sober few, 670
Who seek lor, and delipht in what is true,
Scorn and contemn; for only fools regard
What seems obscure, and intricate", and hard:
'l ake that for truth, whose phrales smooth appear,
And dancing periods charm the wanton ear,

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,
Fearing the difficult, the right they lose;
Nor yet perceive, that banish void alone, 090
Ail bodies would be dense, and all be one;
From which no seeds could fly, no parts retire,
As smoke, and heat, and vig'rous light from fire:

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.

And those

That teach from doubled elements they rose,
As air and fire, as earth and water join'd,
Or all four, earth, air, water, fire, combio'd.

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;

« EdellinenJatka »