Sivut kuvina

Ver. 1081. Virg. Gteorg. 3. v. 66.

Optima quseque dies miseris mortalibu? sevi
Frima fugit: subeunt morbi, tritisque senectus;
Et labor, & durx rapit inclcmentia mortis.

Id youth a'one unhappy mortals live;
But ah! the mighty Mils is fugitive:
Dilcolour'd sickliest, anxious labours come,
Aud age, and death's inexorable doom. Dryd.

Ver. 1098. He concludes in these thirty verses, that the world grows old in the fame manner as animals do; that is to fay, that the conduits and passages in the world, which answer to the veins in animals, being impaired and weakened by the continual blows they meet with from external bodies, receive with great difficulty the matter that flows down out of the infinite void, and is proper to support and repair the world. And this mighty frame is extended so far and wide, that it parts with more matter out of its substance, than it receives afresh from the void; and, therefore, must of necessity diminish, grow feeble, and decay. The earth, as Epicurus held, produced formerly of her own accord, all kinds of animals, fruits, trees, &c. but we now find by experience, that she is past her teeming time; and, therefore, it cannot be denied but (he now grows old.

Ver. 1105. I affirm, fays the poet, that all these things did proceed from the earth: for animals were not let down from heaven, as the asserters of Providence pretend, by that chain, which none but one Homer ever saw : nor were they born of the sea, or from the waves that insult the shores. But that very earth, which ac this day feeds and nourishes all kind* of things, is the very fame earth that formerly brought them forth.

Ver. 1108. Homer feigned that all things were let down from heaven to earth by a golden chain. Yet, if we may take Plato's word for it, Homer meant only the fun, and shows that to be a chain of gold; because, while the sun rolls round the universe and enlightens it, all things are safely preserved, and live and flourish, as well as those that are among the gods, as in cur earthly abodes. But if the fun should stand still, and cease from his revolution, as if he were bound in chains, all things must of necessity perish. Macrobiuson the dream of Scipio, will have that chain of Homer to be an uninterrupted connection of causes, that hind themselves together by mutual bands, even from the bupreme Gud to the last dregs of matter. "Cumque otnnia continuis succeflionibus fe scquantur, degenerantia per ordinem ad imum meandi; invenietur pressiu. intuenti a summo Deo usque ad ultiniam rcrum fœcem una mutuis fe vinculis religans, & nufquam interrupta connexio:

hæc est Honieri carena aurerc, quam penderc de ccelo in terras Dcum juffifse commemorat." Macrob. in Somn. Scip. lib. i. cap. 44..

Ver. nil. Thus too Ovid, Metamorph. i. ver. lot

lpfk quoque, immunis rastroque intacta, nee ullis Saucia vomcribus, per fe dabat omnia Tellus.

'And v.

Ver erst sternum, placidiqne trpemi'out aura
Mulcebant Zephyri natos line semine flores.
Mox etiam fruges tellus inarata ferebat,
Ncc renovatus ager gravidis canebat arifti*.
Flumina jam lactis, jam flumina Nectaris ibut.
Flavaque dc viridi stillabant ilice mella.

The teeming earth, yet guiltless of the plough,
And unprovok'd did fruitful stores allow.
The flow'rs unsown,in fields and meadows reipi'4,
And western winds immortal spring maintains.
In soll'wing years the bearded corn enfu'd
From earth unafk'd. nor was that earth renewM:
From veins of valleys milk and nectar broke.
And honey sweated through the ports of oak.
~ flrji

To which I subjoin these incomparable verso of the same poet, in bis translation of the fourth eclogue of Virgil:

Unlabour'd harvests did the fields adorn,
And cluster'd grapes then blush'd on cv'ry thorn I
The knotted oak did show'rs of honey weep,
And through the matted grafs the liquid goU &

Ver. 1115. The earth is become so barren,tbit though we provoke her by constant tillage, em till we weary our oxen, and wear out our peafanti with continual labour, yet the ungrateful foil deludes the hopes of the tiller, and produces nottht crop he bad reason to expect from his toil and industry. An evident and convincing proof, tol the earth is now grown old and worn oat ts that degree, that she can ne longer bring forth u did in her youthful years.

Ver. nil. The poet has subjoined to the argument taken from the doctrine of Epicurus, the poetical fable of the Golden Age. But being i* lous that men would ascribe the fertility of tr* earth in those days to the benevolence of the Deity^nd to the bounty and goodness of the godi» the pious men of that age, he sooffs at thit opinion, and despises their ignorance, who do not re! know that the earth is grown feeble and bureo with old age.

Ver. 1113. Because in the beginning of the world, men had nothing to do but to worship the gods: since the earth then produced the fruits of its own accord, and they had no need to employ their time in tilling it.



In this book are deposited all the treasures of Fpicurus; of no great value indeed; yet many of the ancients were continually pillaging thefh, till ac Ieugth Tully entirely rifled and laid them waflr. .Lucretius with great labour strove to renew aud establish them again; but bits met with the ft* •est he deferred: for if has fared with the doctrine of Epicurus, ai with a child of a sickly race; though yi u cram it with the most nourishing and healthful food, it will at best be puny and infirm.

From v. 68. to v. 8s. the poet teaches, that there i) moti. n, nor do we disown it. And that the motion of all things proceeds from the motion of the principles; and this too we grant. But when, v. 84. he ascribes weight to the feeds, and asserts that to be the cause of their motion, he is too indulgent to himself and his atoms. Who can grant weight to all matter, and the fame weight to bodies of the fame bulk? Sense and certain experience cry out against it. But Epicu ra had observed, that stones, wond, in short, all things that are contained within the bounds of this world tend downwards; and, therefore, believed that all things had descended from all eternity; which opinion, whoever embraces, will indeed be " nitidiffirnus de grege Epicuri Philosophui." He may as reasonably pretend, that the wheel*, springs, or any other of the members and parts of an engine, will do the fame thing separately, which they perform jointly. But, let us even grant this too. He presents ue in the next place with infinite atoms, tending downwards through an infinite void by just degrees, and with tful velocity. In the immensity of the longitude*, latitudes, and altitudes, an infinity of innumerable atoms are flying to and fro : and these atoms overtaking, and laying hold of one another in the interjected void, cling and join together, •nd thus compose all the forms and figures of things. But how came they to overtake and catch hold of oue another, since they all move with eq ual f*iftaess? To this he answers, v. no. and fays, they decline a little, even the least that can be. But even this declination is feigned at pleasure; (or, as Cicero fays, a de Finib. " Ait declinare Aiomos sine causa, quo nihil turpuis est Physico: & ilium motum naturalem omnium ponderum, £ rrgione inferiorem locum petentium, sine causa eripuit atomis: Nec tamen id, cujus causa hæc sinxerat, affecutus est: nam five omnes Atomi declinibunt, nullx unqnam cohxrefcent; five aliæ dedinabant, alix fuo motu recte ferentur: primum crit hoc quasi provincias Atomis dare, qua: recte, S°* oblique ferantnr." For he fays that the l'omi decline, without alleging any reason for their declination, than which nothing is more unbecoming of a natural philosopher. And without any reason likewise he has taken from the atoms that natural motion of all weights, that tend in a direct line to a lower place. Nor after all has he pined the point, for the fake of which he invented all this; for either all the atoms will decline, "nne will ever stick together; or some will decline while others move, as they naturally ought a a right line. And this is, in a manner, to prescribe to atoms their proper offices, and to enjoin bme to descend in a direct line, others obliquely.

Lucretius himself is aware of this difficulty, v. >l4. where he is so far from solving it, that he "thet yields and submits to its strength. But, v. S40. he start, another difficulty, by the help of

which he endeavours to extricate himself from the former: or like the cuttle-fish, throws out clouds of darkness and obscurity, that it may»be more difficult to find and take him. For he asserts, that without this declination of the feeds, no reason can be given for the freedom of will which we perceive in all animals. But the fame Cicero in the first book of the Nature of the Gods, an* fwers him thus; " Hoc perfæpc sacitis, Epicurei, ut cum aliquid non versimile dicatis, & repreiicnsionem effugere velitis; eff ritis aliquid quod omnino ne fieri poffit: at satius suerit illud ipsum, de quo ambigebatur, concedcre, quarp tarn impudenter resislere; velit Epicurus, cum viderct, si Atomi ferrentur in locum inferiorem fuopte poadere, nihil fore in nostra potestate, quod esfet, ea. rum motus certus & necefsarius: invenit quo modo necefsitatem effugeret, quod viz. Democritunr* fugerat: Ait Atomum, cum pondere & gravitate directs deorfum feratur, declinare paulum. Hoc dicere turpius est, quam illud, quod vult, non posse defendere." The custom of you Epicureans is this; when you assert any thing that is improbable to be true, and are desirous to avoid reprehension, you advance something that is wholly impossible to be done; but you would act more ingenuously, if you granted the matter in doubt, rather than insisted so obstinately on your own opinions, like Epicurus, who, when he saw that if the atoms were moved downwards by their own) weight, nothing would be in our power, because their motion would be certain and necessary, found a way which Demncritus never thought of, to avoid this necessity; and said, that an atom, though by its own weight and heaviness it be carried directly downwards, yet declines a lictle. To fay this is more weak and dishonourable than not being able to make good what he asserted. And in his book, De Fato, Cicero likewise says: "Epicurus uno temporc, res duas sufeipit inenodabilcs; unam, ut sine causa fiat aliquid, ex quo exisiet, ut de nihilo quippiam fiat; quod nec ipsi, nec cuiquam Physico placet; alteram, ut cum duo Individ ua per Inanitatcm ferantur, alterum i regione moveatur, alterum declines." Epicurus takes upon him at once to make good two things, for either of which no reason can be given: one, that any thing can be done without a cause; from whence it will follow, that any thing can be made of nothing; which neither himself nor any natural philosopher will allow: the other, that when two indivisible bodies are moved through the void, one of them should descend in a straight line, the other by declination. And, in the same book he goes yet farther; and fays, " Quæ ergo nova, causa in natura est, quæ declinat Atomum? aut num sortiuntur inter se, quæ declinet, que non ? aut cur minimo declines intetvallo, majore non? aut cur declinet uno Minimo, non declines duobus aut tribus? Optare hoc quidem est, non difputare; nam neque extrinsecus impulfam Atomum loco moveri & declinare dicit, neque in illo lnani, per quod feratur Atomus, quidquam fuisfe causæ, cur ea non i regione ferretur, nec in ipsa Atomo mutationis aliquid factual est, quamobrem naturalem sui ponderis motum non tenrrct. Ita cum attulisset Epicurus nullam caufam, qua; istam Declinationem eSi erct, tamen aliquid sibi dicere videtur, cjuam id dicat, quod omnium mences aspernentur & rcspuanr" What new cause is there then in nature that can make an atom decline? Or have they cast lots among themselves which (hall decline, and which not? Or why dues an atom decline the least interval ol space and not a greater? Or, why does it decline one least, and not two or three? This is to choose what he will say, not to dispute : for he neither says, that an atom declines in its motion, by reason of any outward impulse, nor that in the void through which the atom is moved, there is any cause why it does not descend in a direct line; nor, lastly, that any change is made in the atom itself that may oblige it not to keep and observe the natural motion of its own ■weight. Thus, though Epicurus alleges no cause of that declination, yet he seems to himself to say something, even when he says that which the understanding and rcasi n of all men despise and re- I ject. And thus Cicero has laid waste the gardens •)f Epicurus, and overthrown all that philosophy that attacked even Providence itself.

But Lucretius is more succes sol in that long dispu'.ation, from v; 319. to v. ,547. concerning the variety of the figures of his atoms: and likewise in that of the seeds of different figures that enter into the contexture of every compound body, w hich begins at v. 547. and ends ac 683. He also adorns his argument* with fables props rly in troduced and applied, and supports his assertions with several string and convincing reasons.

Nor wiil any adversary of the Kpicurean philosophy ever he aUe to evade those argument, by which, from v. 684. to v 988. he demonstrate", that his atoms are void of colour smell, hc'it, in a, word, os every quality, and of all manner of sense. 1 confess he does not rightly explain the origin 01 fense, but he pr- ves, that the tense «if ani'Ttals is not due to sensible ireds, whicn was his chief design in this hook, with a lharpnei* of iwt and strength of judgment, fcven worthy of Lucretius himself.

At length, from v. 1,89. to v. iojy. he builds

innumerable worlds: and thit too might haw been granted, if he had assigned any proper architect for so great a work. "Sed quit credit « Atomorum Concursione fortuita hujus Muruii put cherrimum ernatum esse perfectutu? An cum michinatione quadam aliquid moveri videmiu, ut Sphxram, ut Horai, ut alia pcrmulta, non dubi. tamus quin sint opera ilia rationis > Cum autera impetum Cœli cam admirabili celeritate moveri, vertique videamus, constant.slime conficiemem viciflitudines anniversarias cum summa salute k conversatione rerum omnium, dubitamus quin a non Mum ratione Bant, fed etiam excellent! qu. dam divinaque ratione? Quod si Mnndos cBuete potest Concursus Atomorum, cur Porticum, ca Templum, cur Domum Don potest, qua sum ninus operosa, & multo quidem faciliora." Cicero, da Nat. Deor lib. 2. Who can believe that tbii most beautiful frame os the world was produced and perfected by a fortuitous concourse of atoms! When we fee any thing move, as it were by art and skill, as the spheres, the seasons, and many other things, do we doubt whether they are the works of reason? When we see with what wonderful celeriiy the sun is moved and whirled iround, and how he causes the annual changes ud vicissitudes to the utmost benefit and preservation of all things, do we doubt that all these things ate not the work of reason, nay, of an excellent aul divine reason too? And if a concourse of atom can make worlds, »hy can it not make a forties, a temple, or a house, which requires less skill id labour, and are much more easy to make? Thtu Cicero, that most grateful champion os Proviekcce, Lastly, from v. io6a. to the end of this Wit the reader may behold innumerable worlds berr. daily, and dying every day, and bless his oft Rood fortune, that he remains safe and unhurt is the midst of so many and so great ruins and otvallations. Meanwhile, he cannot but foils i:e some infant sucking worlds, and others grovt feeble and doddered with age, now dying »'i<* hunger, row choked up with fat. For nothing » more certain, than that Lucretius always hii<J himself when he falls foul upon Providence.



This Is that book of Lucretius which, above all the rest, outfit to be read with roost judgment and discretion. For, since it \t in this-that the poet endeavours to \ rove the foul to be >>f a corporeal nature, it may fad out that some wiil too credulously yield themselves up to hit argument?; ■while others, periuackd that inch a doctrine, night or wrong, ought to be condemned without mercy, will voluntarily depnv;; themselves oi reading lo. excellent a bock. thin should happen, it will not be imisl to put tl cm in mind that many of the ancient* were os . m.oii. that spirits are to be

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strtrf the immortality of the soul, which, neverthtlesi, they believed to be of the same nature with spirit?: however, they reserved to it its own right, or what the bounty of 0<>d has bestowed upon it. But our author, when he has shown the sjul of a man to be a corporeal substance, stri-nuoijy irrd obstinately asserts, that it is impossible tut that it must likewise be subject to death and dissolution; and that the generality of men being astonished, cast down, and overawed by the tyranny of religion, are horribly mistaken, to believe, that

Iternis nigra pxnas in morte timendum.


they have any reason to dread eternal torments after death. Thus you fee the rocks and (helves that you ought to avoid and fly from and you will do well to compare this doctrine of the Epicurean sect with the arguments of the Platonitts, who asserted the immortality of the soul i but much better, if laying aside the disputations and ratrorerfies of this wavering and uncertain philosuphj, y(,u apply yourself directly to him, who ha« demonstrated, that the Parent and Father of all things is GOO OF THE LIVING, BUT NOT OF THE DEAD. Another thing, reader, you ought continually to have before your eyes, which is this: Be our fouls spiritual, or if you will, corporeal : yet we ought not much to troui>.e our heads about these arguments of Lucretius, since beinj Christians, as we are, we verily and tnfeignedly believe, that the time will come that rhi< brute and senseless mass of the body, which the foul now informs and guides, when after a

| course os years it is turned into corruption and dust, and then scattered and dispersed away, will, nevertheless, at length unite again; and being

, thus collected and got together out of water,'air, and earth, will remain and persevere for an end

, less succession i f ago. t.ct Luctetiu? ihcn prove, is he will, the nature os the soul to be corp real, and therefore liable to death; he will ad-ance nothing that will startle a true Christian; since we believe the future resurrection and immortality of the body, upon surer gr unds than any arguments of vulgar physiology, aud of themiliry itself (for that wonderful experiment, of which Quercetanus and othei smoke mention, concludes nothing lor the resurrection us the b.>d)). though they are equally, nay, more <:iss]i ult to prove and believe Let me add one thing more, i he treatise of Tertullian, which is inti'uled De Anima, will assist you very much in the right undemanding of this book: if you read it, ou will peruse the most excellent work of that great man. Td conclude, If in this book, or in any other of my writings, the false opinions of Lucretius have dropped from me, either through haste or inadvertency, 1 desire it may he remembered that I am the actor, not the poet; and that I here unsay and recant all things of that nature which may have slipped from me by either of those means. Nor, indeed, is my course of life such, that when my soul comes to be separated from my body, I should willingly expect that end which nature has ordained for the brute animals that perish. Farewell.

Tanaqjuil Fader.



The poet flatters himself, that, in the two former books, he has fully and rightly explained the nature, and the properties of his atoms. In the four remaining books, he applies himself very attentively to describe the effects which those atoms produce. And first, as he had reason to do, he brings upon the stage the parts of the mind, and of the foul: And this is the subject of the diijiutation of all this book, which he begins, I. With the praise of Epicurus, whom, from ver. I. to ver. Ji.he extols for having been the first who taught, that this'world, and all things in it, were not made by the Deity, but by a fortuitous concourse of atoms; and for delivering, by that doctrine, the minds of men from the fear of the gods, of death, and of punishments after death. II. Having hy way of preface, said this of Epicurus, he teaches, from ver. 91. to ver. 133, that the mind and the foul are a part of man, in like manner as the feet, the hands, the arms, the head and the other members; and not a vital habit of the whole body, or an accord and consent cf all the parts of the body, which some of the ancient philosophers called harmi ny. But that he may dispute distinctly, and without confusion, because he uses promiscuously the words mind and foul, he teaches. Us. from ver. 133. to ver. 160. that the mind and the foul are but one thing; but that the mind is the chief part, and resides in the heart, because fear, joy, and all the other passions, which obey and depend on the mind, discover themselves there, while the foul, in which the locomotive faculty is Wely placed, being diffused through the whole body, is moved as the mind pleases. IV. Then, from ver. 161. to 177, he endeavours to demonstrate, that the nature of the mind and s.ul is corporeal, because the mind touches the foul, and move* it, and the foul touches the body: but where there is no body there can be no touch. V. From ver. 178. to 307, he teaches, that this corporeal rrind it composed of atoms extremely subtle, minute, and round. And particularly that this mind (nuKi of heat, wind, or vapour, and air, and of another thing, which consisting of the feeds the Bust subtle, the most minute, and the most subject to motion, is the principal and original cause «£


sense. But how the heat, the wind, the air, and this fourth, nameless thing-, are. mingled, or whil proportion of each makes up the composition, he ingenuoufly confesses he cannot tell. VI. Frotc ver 308. to 331. he asserts, that the foul and body are so united together, that they cannot be separated without the destruction of both of them. And, VII. from ver. 333. to 353, he afstm, that not only the mind, but the body too has perception, or rather the whole animal, composed of body and soul. VIII. After this, from ver. 333. to 396, he refutes the opinion of Democritu:, who taught that the respective parts of the foul are fitted and joined to the respective parts of the body. And having affirmed before that the mind is the most excellent part of the whole compound, ht now farther asserts, that the life and preservation of the animal depends more on the mind than on the foul IX. From ver. 396. to 809, he endeavours to prove, by six and twenty arguments, that mindi and fouls are born with the bodies, and die with them, and, by the way, derides the transmigration of Pvthagoras. X. In the next place, from ver. 810. to 836, he teaches, that death is nothing, because the soul, being mortal, has nothing to fear after death; nay, that if it be granted that tilt foul is immortal, as Plato held, yet death still i« nothing, since the separated foul would not itmember thai she had ever been before. XI. Then to ver. 874. he laughs at the vain anxiety of men concerning their sepulture and thence, to ver. 913. proves that death is not an ill, because the dead want not those good things which the living enjoy, hut are exempted from those calamities which afflict and torment us wretches that are alive XII. That even life itself is lot a thing very desirable, because it has nothing new to give us, but always the fame naukifh pleasure!, till at length we lrthe them, to ver. 976. XIII. But lest the fable*, which the poets feign of htll and of future punishments, should fright u>, he explains those sables, and shows, that they are «rifled upon earth; that we feel those torments while we are living, and have no reason todtead them after we are dead, to ver. 1016. XIV. Lastly, To the end of this bonk, he purs us in mind, that it is both foolish and absurd to bemoan ourselves that we must die, since the wiselt of men, and the most potent princes and emperors have been forced to submit to the inevitable p"wet of death. And he teaches, that men lead unquiet and anxious lives, because they avoid the though:) and contemplation of death, and are foolishly fond of that .life which they must one day lost, which can supply them with no new delights, aud is expi fed to innumerable dangers and afflictions. And that, after all, by the longest life to which they can attain, they save not one moment from the length of death, which is as much eternal to them who die to-day, as to those who died nuns ages ago.

Thie who hast light from 'midst thick darkness

And 6rst life's benefits and pleasures taught;
Thee, chiefest glory of the Grecian state,
I strictly trace, willing to imitate,
Not contradict: For how can larks oppose
The vig'rous swan? They are unequal foes:
Or how can tender kids, with feeble spree,
Contend in racing with the noble horse?
Thou, parent of philosophy, hast shown
The way to truth by precepts of thy own. 10
For, as from sweetest flow'rs the lab'ring bee
Extracts her precious sweets, great foul: from

We all our golden sentences derive;
Golden, and fit eternally to live.
For when I hear thy mighty reasons prove,
This world was made without the pow'rs above,
All fears and terrors u aste, and By apace;
Through parted heav'ns, I fee the mighty space,
The rise of things, the gods, and happy seats,
Which storm, or vi'lent tempest never beats, 10
Nor snow invades, but with the purest air,
And gaudy light dissu/d look gay and fair:
There bounteous nature makes supplies for ease,
There minds enjoy uninterrupted peace:
But that which senseless we so grossly fear,
No hell, no sulph'rous lakes, no pools appear:
And through the earth I can distinctly view,
What underneath the busy atoms do.
From thoughts like these I mighty pleasure find,
And silently admire thy strength os mind, 30

By whose one single force to curioas eyes,
All naked and rzpot'd whole nature lies.

Since then I've taught what feeds of bodies art, And how they move, what diss'rent shapes they wear,

And how from these, all beings first may spring:
Next of the mind, and of the foul I'll sing;
And chafe that dread of hell, those idle sean,
That spoil our lives with jealousies and care«,
Disturb our joys with dread of pains beneath,
And fully them with the black fear of death, 4?

For though some talk they should less ff»r ">
Than live in a disease, or infamy: [°*t
That they know well, the soul consists in blood,
Ard our philosophy can do no good i
Observe, they talk thus rather out of love
To empty praise, than what they say, approve:
Fur these lame i>.en, to chains, or banishment
Condemned; to gallics, or to prison sent;
Though infamous by horrid crimes they're grown,
Yet still to endure, and patiently live on:
Nay more, where'er these boasting wretcbei

They sacrifice black sheep on every tomb,
To please the manes; and of all the rout,
When cares and dangers press, grow most devout.
Therefore to know men* fouls, and what tiej

View them beset with dangers, and with care.
For then their words will with their thought!

And, all the mat pull'd off, show what they be.

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