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domestic happiness, of innocent and contented poverty; and, in short, the moral purport of his system may be comprized in the two following lines of one of our most pathetic poets:
Man wants but little here below,
and which are, indeed, but a compressed translation of four beautiful ones in Lucretius:
-Corpoream ad naturam pauca videmus. Esse opus omninò, quæ demant quemque dolorem, Delicias quoque uti multas substernere possint, Gratius interdum neque Natura ipsa requirit.§
That the philosophical and religious principles of our Epicurean Bard are not so defensible as his moral, will be readily admitted. In these days, when contrasted with sound philosophy and pure religion, many of his doctrines appear baseless and absurd, but assuredly not more so than the gross mythology of Homer, Virgil and Ovid, and why we still peruse these authors with rapture, careless of their impious opinions, yet refuse to taste the
+ Goldsmith's Edwin and Angelina.
exquisite poetry of Lucretius because occasionally tinged with metaphysic error, is an inconsistency not easily accounted for. The idea of Epicurus, that it is the nature of the Gods, to enjoy an immortality in the bosom of perpetual peace, infinitely remote from all relation to this globe, free from care, from sorrow, and from pain, supremely happy in themselves, and neither rejoicing in the pleasures, nor concerned for the evils of humanity, though perfectly void of any rational foundation, yet possesses much moral charm, when compared with the popular religions of Greece. and Rome; the felicity of their deities consisted in the vilest debauchery, nor was there a crime, however deep its dye, that had not been committed, and gloried in, by some one of their numerous objects of worship. The Immortals of Epicurus, on the other hand, are virtuous and innocent, but he has, unfortunately, exempted them from the toil of creation, and snatched the universe from their grasp. To these tenets of the Grecian, Lucretius has added the Infinite of Anaximander, and the Atomic theory of Democritus: doctrines such as these, which lead to the fortuitous formation of the world, are perfectly incapable of making
any impression upon a mind either imbued with religion, or familiar with the progress of philosophy and science. He, therefore, who should refrain from a perusal of the poet, under the apprehension of becoming a convert to his religious opinions, would, in the present period of scientific improvement, be considered as either naturally imbecile in intellect, or, verging towards a state of insanity.
Futile, however, as the data, on which the peculiar system of Lucretius is built, may justly be deemed, his work abounds with a vast variety of philosophical doctrines, perhaps including every sect among the ancients. The subtile hypotheses of Epicurus, Heraclitus, Empedocles, Anaxagoras and Democritus, of Anaximander, Pythagoras, Anaximenes, Thales, Pherecydes, Aristotle and Plato, pass in review before him, and it affords some astonishment, and much curious speculation to the reflecting mind, that, probably, not a system of philosophy exists among the moderns, which has not had its foundation laid upon some one opinion or other of these ancient theorists, and the outlines of which may not be found in the pages of Lucretius. Even the Newtonian
doctrine of Gravitation was not unknown to our poet, for, in his first book, he attempts to refute the idea, that the universe has a centre to which all things tend by their natural gravity. That the central spot had the strongest power of attraction was equally an hypothesis of Sir Isaac Newton and the ancient Stoics.
It is not a little extraordinary, therefore, that an ancient composition, pregnant with such exquisite poetry, and unfolding such a curious mass of philosophical conception, should not have been more generally studied. Men of poetic genius, indeed, have frequently had recourse to these materials, and have drawn, from the splendid creations of the Roman, many of their most brilliant and beautiful designs, and with the greater air of originality, as the model from whence they sketched, had, comparatively, attracted but a small portion of the attention of the mere classical scholar. It is only, indeed, within these few years, that in our island, as a writer at once elegant, interesting, and sublime, Lucretius has been honoured with due notice. Dr. Warton, with much taste, pointed out many of the noble images so thickly sown throughout the poem, and the
late magnificent edition by Gilbert Wakefield, who to great critical acumen adds all that sensibility and enthusiasm so essential to a just relish of the higher beauties of poetry, together with the elegant' Translation we are about to give some specimens of, will ensure the reputation, and familiarise the excellencies of our hitherto neglected Bard.
To translate with harmony and fidelity such an author as Lucretius, is an enterprise of no small difficulty, and requires the utmost command of language, not only to transfer the glowing scenery of the poem, but to transmit, with melody and precision, the diction of the schools. Few, therefore, have been the attempts, in England, to naturalize this poet, and of these few, the greater part has been preeminently unfortunate. Mr. Evelyn with the utmost admiration of his original, and with every wish to excel, commenced the arduous task exclaiming
I saw a fruitful soil, by none yet trod,
Lines addressed to Mr. Creech.