Sivut kuvina

and Casaubon explaining this passage of the prologue to Persius;

Magister artis, ingeniique Iargitor



What Lucretius in this book asserts from ver. 60. to ver. 461. that the fun, the earth, the sea, in a word, the whole frame of this world has not existed from all eternity, nor will continue to all eternity, is believed in general by all pious men, and found philosophers: but his proving this assertion by some probable, and by many strong and unquestionable arguments, that indeed seems peculiar to Lucretius only: Ut certainly no stronger proofs, no more cogent reasons [I always except the Holy Scriptures] are any where to be found. This makes me wonder the more, Triow so excellent a wit could insert those foolilh verses from ver. 168 to ver. 166. in which he endeavours to evince, that God did not create the world: for he believes, that God is not generous enoagh, or rather is too spiteful and envious, to do any thing for the fake of man; and fancies, that whatever he does, he docs for the fake of himself, of hit own ease and quiet. Is any man should* give such a character of Epicurus, Lucretius would treat him as an impudent babbler. In the next place he imagine", that neither Ood nor man can have any notice or knowledge of any things, but by the means of images. And who is this God? Is it not he whom the mind of man perceives, whom all nations acknowledge and adore? la the next place, who can bear with him, while he enumerates the faults, as he call* them, of the world? AU of them false and foolishly invented. And were these defect* in the new and infant world? Lucretius himself denies they were; and therefore is the more to blame, to impute the decays and flaws in a building, worn ouc with age, to the fault of the architect.

From ver. 461. to ver. 551. he describes the rife or birth of the world: and among all the ph) fiologers, there is not a description of it more likely to be true, nor more lively and beautiful, 'she atoms are moved by their own weight, they meet, this makes them rebound, and according to the difference of the stroke and weight, the resilitinn is made into different places, where they combine and grow into bodies.

Having, as he imagines, freed the Deity from all care and trouble, and kept him in ease and quiet, while the world was making, he pp-ceedl, and from ver. 550. to ver. 814. delineates the order: aud because he dues not afligti any one

certain cause of the motions of the heavens, of eclipses, of day aud night, with that positivenes* as some others do, he seems to some to waver in his opinions; but 1 insist, that such a constancy as they call it, in an Epicurean physiologer, would be very ridiculous: for he pronounces that all things are made and done by chance : and that no man can determine one, to fay, certain cause, os these phenomenon*, since they may be explained in several manners. Nor should I indeed think a man worthy of blame, who assigns several causes, while among the rest the only true and cerrain cause is proposed. Nor can I imagine a man could act more agreeably to his principles, or describe chance better; resolving all philosophy, all our search, and inquiry into those matters, into a naked may 6e: nay, often scarce standing within the comprehensive bounds of possibility: but 'to pass by all the contradictions that lie in the very principles, and beginning of his hypothesis, let us suppose these infinite atoms moving in this infinite; and grant they could strike, and take hold, and squeeze out the lesser and more agile parts into leas, heaven, moon, stars, &c. I asic, why this mighty mass of earth as its nature requires, does not constantly descend i Why is it fixed and steady? Lucretius answers: because ic lies in congenial matter, and therefore presses not: but still the question returns: why does not this congenial matter fall, since it has weight, the Epicurean property of atoms, and that other fit matter fpreid below it? The demand constantly returns. Besides, this matter was squeezed out of the earth by the descending heavier particles, and therefore the mass may press, and descend through it. Well then, if this earth cannot be framed, neither can any of the other elements; since, according to his description, the latter depends on the former. And since he refuses to stand to any one cause of the motion of the sun or stars, it, would be endless to pursue this flying bubble, and follow him through all the mazes of conceit and fancy. Nor will I add any thing concerning what he alleges of the magnitude of the fun, moon, and stars, having said before, tbat that opinion is too vulgar to be regarded.

Read the rest of this book, and commiserate a man of so excellent parts, who could forget himself, and play the fool so egregioufly: but it is a fate upon all who deny a Divine Providence, to reason foolishly in ethics, and absurdly in physics. Yet in the description he gives of the state of the first men, of their manners and way of life, we have a perfect image of the manners of all the present barbarous and savage nations: and in these earth born men of Lucretius, you will easily discover the Cannibals, Brasilcans, and several others of the people of the West Indies. Q_1 "'j



The first thirty-seven verses of this sixth and last book of Lucretius contain the praise of Athem, il ■which city the great Epicurus was born; together with an encomium ot that philosopher. 11. Froir, ver. 37. to ver. 96. the poet explains the argument of this book, in such a manner as might rcasucably be expected from an Epicurean. From thence, to ver. 431. he proceeds to dive into the very nature of the things we call meteors; and, that men might learn not to be dismayed at the thunder of angry Jupiter, he teaches, that thunder is made either by the collision, or corrasion, or disruption of clouds, when contrary winds sight against one another: or, by the force of winds, either struggling within the bowels of the clouds, or driving them with violence against each other: or, that it is only the hiding of flames, that fall from a dry cloud into a wet: or, lastly, that thunder it but the crashing noise of bodies of hail and ice, that meeting violently in the air, are dashed 10 pieces. As for the lightning, which the Latins ca'led fulgur.he fays it is nothing but fire forced out of clouds, either by their collision, or other motion ; or the feeds of flames that are driven or: of clouds, by the force of winds. And then, as to the thunderbolt, that other fort of ligritnirj which the ancients called Fulmtn, he teaches, that it consists of a subtile and fiery nature; that it .< conceived and bred in thick and high-built clouds; that being grown to maturity, it bu;sts OBtd the clouds by the force of wind, that either breaks through them, dashes them to piece-, or btir> from without, with great violence against them; that it consists of atoms so subtile and minute uV. it is borne along the air with wonderous celerity: and that it is most frequent in the vernal vt autumnal seasons: then he concludes this disputation with deriding the superstitious doctrine of ik Thulcans, and others, who held that thunder and lightning are not the effects of natural canto,hi proceed me ely from the will of the offended, angry gods, and that Jupiter himself ia the darter <'■ thunder. And because a prester or fiery whirlwind, which is indeed a fort of lightning, and all whirlwinds are certain kinds of meteors, the poet, from ver. 431. to ver. 460 disputes, IV. concerring them; and explains the nature, causes, motions, and differences of them. V. From ver. 419. •» ver. 531. he treats of clouds and of rain. Clouds he supposes to be made either of the roughest Jii most dry particles of the air; *r of the steams, vapours, and exhalation", that arise from the eari and waters And as to rain, he fays, it is generated, either by compression, as they term It, or I? transmutation: by compression, if the force of the winds squeeze the water out of the clouds; k transmutation, isthe clouds themselves are changed,and distil in falling drops of water. VI. In regard the other meteors, as the rainbow, snow, wind, hail, and frost, he disputes briefly of them, or rather*? mentions them,from ver. 5 31., to ver. 541. VII. From ver. 140. to ver. 609 he treats of the several (en of earthquakes, and of the causes of them: which he ascribes, either to hollow parts of the eari, which, falling in, cause it to tremble; or to the tremulous motion of the waters, which he supposesii' earth to swim in ; or to lubterraneous, and other winds; which either shake the earth in settr-i parts, or drive it to and fro. VIII From ver. 608. to ver 646. he treats of the sea; and teacho, that the reason why it does not increase, notwithstanding the immense quantity of water that B continually flowing into it, is, cither because of the vaslncss of the sea itscli, or because the kca: ci the sun dries up its waters or because the winds, brushing over them, bear much <>f them away: or because the cloud" draw much moisture from them ; or, lastly, because of the dryness of theenh itself, whic^> fucks in, and imbibes, the waters of the sea. IX. From ver 643. to ver. 7IJ. he h»cjuires into the causes of the fire» that are ejected out of Ætna; and imputes them either to the violence of the wind, or Ho the exefluation of the waters of the sea; which, entering beneath rew the cavities of 'he mountain, extrude and force out the seeds of Same, that are engendered and collected there, through the apertures, that are on the top of it. X. From ver. 714. to ver. 735. k treats of the annual increase of the Nile; and ascribes it either to the Etesian winds, that blow full against the stream of that river and thus, hindering its course, cause the waters to overflow: or to heaps of sand, which the sea drives to the mouths of it, and thus chokes them up; or to the raica and snows that fall, and are melted, near the fountain of the Nile. XI. From ver. 734. to ver. t}lhe difpures of the Avcrni, and ether tracts of the earth, that are noxious, and even deadly, to birds, men, deer, crows, horses. &c. XII From ver. 830. to ver. 894. he teaches, why the water of some wells and springs is hut in winter, and cold in summer. XIII. And thence to ver. I©c6. be elplains at large the attractive rower and virtue of the loadstone XIV. Lastly, from ver. 1000. to the end of the book, he discourses briefly of the cause and origin of plagues and diseases; and corcludes his poem with an cUgant description, taken from Thucydides, of the plague that raged Li Athens, and almost laid waste and desolate the whole country of Attica, is the time of the Pries stnesian war.


jj-BiHs first gave us laws, and chang'd our


or acorns, tender fruit and corn bestow'd n wretched man: each was a mighty good! it then she taught us how to live at ease, c taught the joys of life, and fhow'd us peace, hen Epicurus rose; when he began, ut oracle of truth, that more than man; le fame os whose inventions still surviv'd, id rais'd an everlasting pyramid, [wide, high as heav'n the top, as earth the basi r he, observing some that could supply IX utented nature's thrifty luxury, poy in honours, and in wealth's embrace, id doubly happy in a noble race, Jl gtoaii'd at home; with cares and fears open found a fad disturber in his breast, [prefs'd, agin'd strait, some fault lay hid in man, lence this corruption of the joys began: ause his wish is boundless, vast his mind; t goods ran through and left no sweet behind: (liesome ill opinion still destroys al cent'ring good, and still fours all his joys, en he,the mighty he, by pow'rful rules, d true philosophy reform'd our souls, purge! away all vain and empty care, 1 taught what man should hope, what man

should sear, end, at which our actions aim, he fhow'd, taught an easy way to find the good: it we from chance, or nature's force may


taught us how t' avoid, and how to bear, prov'd that man is fondly vex'd with care, we, as boys at night, at day do fear 3 a

owi, as vain, and senseless as those arc: refore that darkness, that o'erfpreads our fouls, can't disperse, but those eternal rules, ih from firm premises true reason draws, a deep insight into nature's laws, "d therefore I'll proceed. Since then the sky all that is, or can be, fram'd on high, -" -'.uicc was made and once must die; 40 this is prov'H, now I'll go farther on, finish this so happily begun, le various wonders of the lower air [care,"J lei mens doubtful thoughts with vexing Jmake the wretches bend with slavish fear :j gnorance of causes heaves the mind iw'rs above; as birds soar high, when blind. :e effects; but when their causes lie id the ken of vulgar reason's eye, aen ascribe them to the Deity. v"n those few exalted souls, that know ;ods must live at cafe, r.or look below; jr look up, and view the worK! above, sronder how these glorious beiu^s move, are entrap'd, they bind their fl ivish chain, link to their religious fears again; then the world with heav'nly tyrants sill, e force i9 as unbounded as their will, led ignorants! who ne'er did fee afon's light, what can, what cannot, be: 60 all at last must yield to fatal force; steady bounds confine their nat'ral course:

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And therefore err. If you refuse to fly

Such thoughts, unworthy of the Deity;

But think they act such things, as break their ease,

And opposite to joy and happiness;

Then thou shalt lurcly smart, and, fancying still

The gods are angry, fear a coming ill: [ploy;

Though no revengeful thoughts their minds cm.

No thirst to punish man disturbs their joy: 70

Yet thou dost think their happy quiet age

Still vex with waking cares, and vi'lent rage.

Nor shalt thou visit on the lacred days
Their shrines with quiet mind, or sing their praise,
Besides, the images, the forms, that rise ~j
From their pure limbs, and strike thy reason's V.
And constantly present the deities; [eyes,J

Those images will still disturb thy mind,
Strike deep, and wound, and leave despair behind:
And then how sad thy life! what pungent cares
Will vex thy wretched foul? What anxious fears I

But now to chafe these phantoms out of sight
By the plain magic of true reason's light;
Though 1 have lung a thousand things before.
My lab'ring muse must sing a thousand more:
How thunder, storm, and how swift lightning flies.
Singing with fiery wings the wounded skies!
Lest superstitious you observe the flame,
If those quick fires from lucky quarters came;
Or with fad omen fell, and how they burn 9*
Through closest stones, and waste, and then re.

And you, my sweetest muse, come lead me oa I'm eager,and 'tis time that I were gone; Come lead me on, and show the path to gain The race, and glory too, and crown my pain.

First, then, the dreadful thunder roars aloud,
When sighting winds drive heavy cloud on cloud:
For where the heav'n is clear, the fley serene,
Ne dreadful thunder's heard, no lightning seen;
But where the clouds are thick, there thunders

The furious infant's born, and speaks, and dies.
Now clouds are not so thick, so close combin'd
As stones; nor yet so thin, and so refin'd
As rising mists, or subtile smoke, or wind:
For then the upper clouds, like weighty stone,
Would fall abruptly, and come tumbling down:
Or else disperse, like smoke, and ne'er enclose
The haoging drops of rain, nor hail, nor snows.

They give the crack, as o'er a theatre
Vast curtains spread, are ruffled in the air; IIS
Or torn (for such a sound is often known
From thunder's crack), they give a mighty groan;
Or as spread clothes, or sheets of paper, fly
Before the wind, and rattle through the sky.

But clouds meet not directly still, but slide, And rudely grate each othersinjur'd side: And hence that buzzing noise we often hear; That with harsh murmurs fills the lowt r air; Continues long, but with a sifter si und; At length!' gtthersftrcngth, and breaks the bound. But more, the thunder, arm'd with pointed flume, III May seem t shake the world, anc? Wak the fra ne;

When e'er a finer, ard

and turi us wind,

In narrow, thick, aud hollow clouds cousin'd,

Breaks through the prison with a mighty noise,
And (hoots at liberty with dreadful voice:
Nor is this strange, when one poor breath of air,
That starts from broken bladders, sounds so far.

Again: "tis reason too that noise should rise
When vi'lent storms rage o'er the lower skies, 130
For thousand clouds appear, rough, dose combiu'd,
And thick, and able to resist the wind:
Thus noise mull rise, as when the woods they

The Text and injur'd boughs sigh forth a mournful found.

And winds oft cut 'be clouds, and, passing through,

With murm'ring sound fill all the air below:

For that the winds may break the clou Js, and fly

Through all resistance in the lower sky,

*Tis easy to discover, since thty break,

And twist our trees: yet here there force is weak.

Besides vast waves of clouds seem roll'd above, And in consus'd aud tumbling order move: 141 These, meeting, strike,and break, and loudly roar, As billows dashing on the trembling shore.

Or else hot thunder falls on rain, or suow. And dies, and hisses, as it passes through: As when we quench a glowing mass, the sires Fly off with noise, with noise the heat expires.

But if the cloud be dry, and thunder fall. Rises a crackling blaze, and spreads o'er ajl; 150 As when fierce fires, press'd on by winds, do seize Our laurel groves, and waste the virgin trees; The leaves all crackle; she, that fled the chase Of Phœbus love, still flics the flames embrace.

Or else vast hills of hail, and rocks of ice, May break; and, tumbling, rattle through the skies:

For when rough storms conjoin the parts of hail. Or scatter'd ice, their weight must make them fall.

Quick lightning flies, when heavy clouds rush on, And strike as steel and flint, or stone and stone: For then small sparks appear, and scatter'd light Breaks swiftly forth, and wakes the sleepy night: The night, amaz'd, begins to haste away, 163 As if thole fires were beams of coming day.

And first we fee the light, and then we hear The noises: these but slowly reach the ear; Because the images of things do fly More swistthan sounds, and quickly strike the eye: One instance clears it; for, observe, and see, Whene'er a cruel ax does wound a tree, 170 The tree strait sighs: but if at distance shown, We fee the stroke before we hear the groan: So whilst the noise moves slow the winged light Flies swiftly on, and strikes the distant sight: Though both arose at once, that moves the eyes, Before the flow-tongu'd thunder speaks, and dies.

But more; a cloud seems sir'd, a tempest brings Swift trembling flames upon his dreadful wings; When shut within a cloud, it scorns the bound, And strives to break, and whirls, and tumbles round; 180 And, whirling, hollows out the wat'ry frame, At last grows hot, takes fire, and.breaks in flame: For motion causes heat: thus balls of lead, Ironi engines thrown, have melted a» they fled:

The wind grows hot, when loos'd from Cold cr„ brace

Of pressing clouds, and gets a larger space; brrait scatters sparks of fire, which swiftly fly, And spread quick lightnings o'er the lower 4j: Then the grave murmur comes; the sight.;. pears

Before the heavy found can reach our ears, Ij> Now this is done, when clou*l lies heap'dou cioti] Thence lightning flics, and thunder roars aloui Nor must you think this false; because thee;:. When plac'd below, sees clouds more broad lim high:

For look and fee, the lab'ring winds can bar Vast mountain-cloud*, and whirl them uW-i the air;

The lab'ring winds then move but slowly on,
And, as oppress'd with burdens, sigh and gresi
Or when upon a mountain's lofty head,
We fee the higher clouds o'er lower spread, 9
And, though the winds all hush'd, they cak a

Yet still the low are press'd by those above: Then you may guess their bulk; how highlift rear!

How vast these real castles built in air! How great, how strong their hollows, when* wind

Shut up, grows fierce, and scorns to be coofii; But roars through all the clouds; as beaih toir)

dain I The den's confinement, and the slavish chain, I And roar to get their liberty again: And, seeking way, rolls round the watery And gathers num'rous Reds of subtle flame, And these it whirls, until the shining strew Break through the cloud, and show thtfffc"

beams. I'* But more, these glaring fires, these Ra&'-J And fall to earth through all the spacious* Because the clouds hold num'rous parts ofiif-'■ For if they're dry, their colour's fiery bright: For they must catch, and hold descendingtsji. And thus look fiery red, aud often blaze '■ These, press'd by winds, to narrow place relit, And scatter seeds that frame the glaring lire.

But farther; lightning often kerns to gUJt When clouds grow rare; for, as the winds idi The clouds must lose the seeds; Those uu>" 's


But without thunder silently expire.

But now what seeds the thunder's parts comp*' Their stinks, their marks, and sulph'ious od* shows:

For these are signs of fire, not wind, or rain: J Nay, oft they burn our towns, and men to"1"'

plain W Of heav'nly fires, and angry pods, in vain. J Now these celestial sites are sratn'd above, Of parts rcsin'd, and thin, and apt to move: Too strong to be oppos'd, they icorn a bouni And pass through closest walls, as voice &

found: [audbr.' They fly with ease through stone, through j And iu one inlUnt m;k the stubbo a an"!

Nay, oft the cask entire, the liquors flow, ~l Bu3i.fc the pointed flames, with secret blow, Widen the vessel's porea in passing through: J Which jet the fun, with all his beams and rage. Arid all hi- fires can't do within an age: 241 So quick these parts mud move, so swift they run, So much excel in force the vig'reus fun.

Now, how this force begins how thunder flies With that quick strength, how these fierce mo. tion* rise,

That break our strongest tow'rs, our towns infest,
Demolish houses, ruin man anc! beast,
That split our trees, and rage o'er all the wood,
I will explain, and make my promise good. 249

first, then, 'ti« certain thunder seems to fly From dark, thick clouds, and those built vastly high:

for when the smiling heav'n's serene and dear, dr thinly clouded, we no thunder hear: Hut now ev'n sense assures no smiles adorn,

sky's serene, while mighty thunder's born: But athic cloud o'crsprcacU heav'n's threat'ning As if the shades of hell had left their place, [face, And fill's' the arched skies: so thick the night, So dark the horrid clouds, and so affright

Besides; at sea dark clouds do often fall, 260 A( Dreams of slowing pitch, and spread o'er all, Far from the darkcn'dsky; and, swoln with

rain,. J &nd storms, they cjraw behind a dreadful train J3f thunder-cracks, which rage o'er all theV

main. "* Ev'n we on earth all shake, with terror aw'd, H'c seek for shelter, nor dare peep abroad. Therefore these clouds, that spread o'er all the sky, Must needs be thick, and all built vastly high: For else they could not stop descending light, 269 Nor check the rays, and bring so thick a night; Nor such great floods, nor so much water yield, Aiswell our streams, and spread o'er ev'ry field. These winds aud fires, when spread o'er all

the sky,

bhit thunders roar, and the wing'd lightning sly. For I have taught before that clouds contain A mighty store of fire, and much they gain From the fun's heat, and the descending rays, These when the wind has fore'd to narrow place, tod squeez'd some sparkles from the wat'ry frame,

Ind closely mixes with the gather'd flame, 280 t whirls, and then within the cloud retires; tnd, tumbling, forges there, and points the fires:

his, by the rapid whirl, or neighb'ring ray, • fir'd; for flame is rais'd by either way.

hut when the wind, grown hot, still whirls around,

lr when the furious flame breaks o'er the bound, 'hen thunder, sit for birth, dissolves the cloud, vnd shows the glaring fires, and roars aloud:

he bcav'ns then crack, as if the orbs would fall, Lnd feeble fear, and tremblings seize on all: 290

hen fhow'rs, as if the sur were chang'd to rain, ail swiftly down, and threaten floods again, "great the thunder-storms, as if they came

•urn the revengeful clouds to rjucucli the slair.e.

Sometimes external winds the clouds divide, And break wide caverns in their injur'd side. Through these the infant thunder nukes its way c These winds call forth the flame, and they obey.

And sometimes toe a wind unkindled flies, Bur kindles in its passage through the skies; 30*) l.oli-g some hejvj parts it us'd to bear, Which could not swiftly cut the middle air; And gath'ring others of convenient frame, [flame s Which join, and fly with them, and raise the As balls of lead, when shot with mighty force,' Their stu'. born, their ungentle parts divorce, And, siif;t-n'd, melt in middle of their course.

Sometimes the fury of the stroke may raise Quick sparks ol fire, and make a mighty blaze: tor by the stroke soiail streams of light may spring 3i« Both from the striking, and the injur'd thing: As from cold flint and steel bright sparks appear; They fly the blow, and sty to open air. And thus the clouds, if of convenient frame. May well be kindled, and dissolve in flame: Nor can the winds be cold, because they move Through such vast space, still tumbling from above: For, if not kindled by the flames they meet, Yet sure they must come warm with mingled heat.

The thunder's force comes thus 1 For, while it lay 3W Confin'd in clouds, it strove to break away: At last prevails, and flies with mighty force; Aud hence so great the strength, so swift the course!

As mighty weights from strong balistx thrown, Which break the walls, .nd shake the frighted town.

Besides, its parts are small, and quick the blows, And therefore meets with nought that can oppose: No stops can hinder, and no lets can stay: The closest pores will yield an open way: And hence it flies with such a mighty force; 33* And hence so great the strength, so quick the course.

Besides; all weights by nature downward go; Boc when that motion is iticreas'd by blow, The swiftness, and the force must, needs increase, And brejk, whatever dares resist, with ease.

Lastly; se vast a space since thunders run, Their swiftness must increase in tumbling down: For motions still increasing run their race. And all by odd proportions mend their pace: Or all the feeds direct their vi'lent course, 34(1 And strike one part with their united force: Or else, as through the air they swiftly rove. Meet parts which strike, and make them swifter move.

And when the pores receive the subtle fire. The force flies through, the thing remains entire -. But when it strikes the substance, then the mass Is broken: Thus it melts strong gold and brass: Because its parts are thin, and swiftly fly, And enter in, and soon dissolve the tie.

Now spring aud autumn frequent thunders hear; 3,54)

They {hike the riling, and the (lying year:

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