« PreviousContinue »
nobly expressed ; and the circumstance of betraying his cwn species, is an unexpected and striking addition to the foregoing sentiment. Thomson has enlarged on this doctrine, with that tenderness and humanity for which he was so justly beloved, in his Spring, at verse three hundred and thirty. Our poet ascribes the violence of the passions to the use of animal food,
But just disease to luxury succeeds,
41. Thus then to man the voice of nature spake,
“ Go, from the creatures thy instructions take;
The prosopopæia is magnificent, and the occasion important, no less than the origin of the arts of life. NATURE is personified also by Lucretius, and introduced speaking with suitable majesty and elevation; she is chiding her foolish and ungrateful children for their vain and impious discontent:
* Ver. 165.
# Ep. iii. ver. 171.
Quid tibi tantopere est, mortalis, quod nimis ægris
There is an authoritative air in the brevity of this sentence, as also in the concluding line of her speech; and particularly in the very last word : “ Æquo animoque, agedum, jam aliiş concede :-necesse est."*
42. Thy arts of building from the bee receive;
Learn of the mole to plow, the worm to weave.t
The Romans have left us scarcely any piece of poetry so striking and original, as the beginning and progress of arts at the end of the fifth book of Lucretius. I I shall at present confine myself to transcribe his beautiful account of the rise of music.
* Lib, iji. ver. 975.
+ Ver. 175.
The Persians, it is said, distinguish the different degrees of the strength of fancy in different poets, by calling them, painters or sculptors. Lucretius, from the force of his images, should be ranked among the latter. He is, in truth, a sculpa TOR-POET: His images have a bold relief.
At liquidas avium voces imitarier ore
43. He from the wond’ring furrow call’d the food,
Taught to command the fire, controul the flood,
A finer example can, perhaps, scarce be given of a compact and comprehensive stile. $ The manner in which the four elements were subdued, is comprised in these four lines alone. Pope is here, as Quintilian says of another, densus et brevis et instans sibi. There is not an useless word in this passage: there are but three epithets, wondering, profound, aerial; and they are placed precisely with the very substantive that is of most
* Lib. v. ver. 1378.
+ Ver. 219.
We have here what Dionysius says of Alcæus, sdu HLETO SEIYOTNTOS,“ Sweetness with strength.” Edit. Sylburg, p. 69. tom. ii.
consequence; if there had been epithets joined with the other substantives, it would have weakened the nervousness of the sentence.
This was a secret of versification Pope well understood, and hath often practised with peculiar success.
44. Who first taught souls enslav'd, and realms undone,
Th'ENORMOUs faith of many made for one?*
“ Quand les sauvages de la Louisiane veulent avoir du fruit, ils coupent l'arbre au piè & cueillent le fruit. Voilà le Gouvernement despotique." A sentiment worthy of the free spirit of Demosthenes, and an image worthy of the genius of Homer.
† Chapit. 13, De L'Esprit des Loix. These few words are the whole chapter. Woe be to the liberty and science of that country, where this noble and original work is prohibited to be read. Can that author be suspected of irreligion, who, in the sixth chapter of his twenty-fourth book, has entirely de. molished one of the most subtle objections against Christianity, and that too urged by one of the ablest adversaries to our holy religion, M. Bayle; who asserts, in his Thoughts on the Comet, that a society of men practising the rules of Christia. pity in their full rigour could not long subsist.
45. Such is the world's great harmony, that springs
From order, union, full consent of things.*
There is no where to be found so perfect an illustration of this doctrine, that the beauty and concord of the universe arise from contrarieties, as in the short treatise of Aristotle, megi xoojen, which, notwithstanding the different form of its composition, ought to be ascribed to this philosopher :f I shall insert it at length in its sublime original, it being, as it were, a summary or compendium of the philosophy of the
before us. « Και του γε τις εθαυμασε, πως πότε ει εκ των εναλιων
* Ver. 295.
+ The learned have been divided in their opinions concerning this piece. Muretus, both the Scaligers, Casaubon, Heinsius, Menage, Vossius, Naude, Alcyonius, and others, will not ascribe it to Aristotle, and lay great stress on a passage of Proclus in his fifth book on the Timæus. On the other hand, Demetrius Phalereus, Stobæus, Apuleius, Justin Martyr, Bessarion, Bradwardin, and our own truly learned Bishop Berkley, unanimously give it to Aristotle. This opinion is confirmed by a sensible discourse on the subject, cap. 19. Petiti Miscell. Observation, Lib. 2. One of his observations I will not omit: “ Scriptus quippe ad Alexandrum Regem, ut Titulus indicat, ideoque faciliore, quam alii, stilo, et aperto orationis plausibilique filo: ut decet Regibus scribentem, ut illi universæ naturalis scientiæ compendium esset. Quo pacto et objectionem a stili discrepantia ductam removeo."