Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

Of calmer converse, he beguiled us on Through many a maze of Garden and

of Porch, Through many a system, where the scat

tered light Of heavenly truth lay, like a broken beam From the pure sun, which, though re

fracted all Into a thousand hues, is sunshine still,

And bright through every change ! - he

spoke of Him, The lone,2 eternal One, who dwells above, And of the soul's untraceable descent From that high fount of spirit, through

the grades Of intellectual being, till it mix With atoms vague, corruptible, and dark;

1 Lactantius asserts that all the truths of Christianity may be found dispersed through the ancient philosophical sects, and that any one who would collect these scattered fragments of orthodoxy might form a code in no respect differing Carmel, for which reason the Carmelites have claimed him as one of their fraternity. This Mochus or Moschus, with the descendants of whom Pythagoras conversed in Phænicia, and from whom he derived the doctrines of atomic philosophy, is supposed by some to be the same with Moses. Huett has adopted this idea, monstration Evangélique,Prop. iv. chap. 2. $ 7.; and Le Clerc, amongst others, has refuted it. SeeBiblioth. Choisie,tom. i. p. 75. It is certain, however, that the doctrine of atoms was known and promulgated long before Epicurus. “ With the fountains of Democritus," says Cicero,

“the gardens of Epicurus were watered ;

and the learned author of the Intellectual System has shown, that all the early philosophers, till the time of Plato, were atomists. We find Epicurus, however, boasting that his tenets were new and unborrowed, and perhaps few among the ancients had any stronger claim to originality. In truth, if we examine their schools of philosophy, notwithstanding the peculiarities which seem to distinguish them from each other, we may generally observe that the difference is but verbal and trifling; and that, among those various and learned heresies, there is scarcely one to be selected, whose opinions are its own, original and exclusive. The doctrine of the world's eternity may be traced through all the sects. The continual metempsychosis of Pythagoras, the grand periodic year of the Stoics, (at the conclusion of which the universe is supposed to return to its original order, and commence a new revolution,) the successive dissolution and combination of atoms maintained by the Epicureans - all these tenets are but different intimations of the same general belief in the eternity of the world. As explained by St. Austin, the periodic year of the Stoics disagrees only so far with the idea of the Pythagoreans, that instead of an endless transmission of the soul through a variety of bodies, it restores the same body and soul to repeat their former round of existence, so that the identical Plato, who lectured in the Academy of Athens, shall again and again, at certain intervals, during the lapse of eternity, appear in the same, Academy and resume the same functions

sic eadem tempora temporaliumque rerum volumina repeti, ut v.g. sicut in isto sæculo Plato philosophus in urbe Atheniensi, in scholâ quæ Academia dicta est, discipulos docuit, ita per innumerabilia retro

from that of the Christian. si extitisset aliquis, qui veritatem sparsam per singulos per sectasque diffusam colligeret in unum, ac redigeret in corpus, is profecto non dissentiret a nobis.İnst.lib. vi. c. 7.

2 το μόνον και ερήμον. sæcula, multum plexis quidem intervallis, sed certis, et idem Plato, et eadem civitas, eademque schola, iidemque discipuli repetiti et per innumerabilia deinde sæcula repetendi sint. — De Civitat. Dei,lib. xii. cap. 13. Vanini, in his dialogues, has given us a similar explication of the periodic revolutions of the world. "de causâ, qui nunc sunt in usu ritus, centies millies fuerunt, totiesque renascentur quoties ceciderunt."

52. The paradoxical notions of the Stoics upon the beauty, the riches, the dominion of their inaginary sage, are among the most distinguishing characteristics of their school, and, according to their advocate Lipsius, were peculiar to that sect. Priora illa (decreta) quæ passim in philosophantium scholis ferè obtinent, ista quæ peculiaria huic sectæ et habent contradictionem : i. e. paradoxa.Manuduct. ad Stoic. Philos.lib. iii. dissertat. 2. But it is evident (as the Abbé Garnier has remarked, “ Mémoires de l'Acad.tom. xxxv.) that even these absurdities of the Stoics are borrowed, and that Plato is the source of all their extravagant paradoxes. We find their dogma, "dives qui sapiens,". (which Clement of Alexandria has transferred from the Philosopher to the Christian Pædagog. lib. iii. cap. 6.) expressed in the prayer of Socrates at the end of the Phaedrus. ώ φίλε Πάν τε και άλλοι όσοι τηδε θεοί, δοίητέ μοι καλώ γένεσθαι τάνδοθεν' τάξωθεν δε όσα έχω, τοίς εντος είναι μοι φίλια πλούσιον δε νομίζουμε τον σοφόν. And many other instances might be adduced from the "'Artepaotai, the IlodcTiKÓS, etc. to prove that these weeds of paradox were all gathered among the bowers of the Academy. Hence it is that Cicero, in the preface to his Paradoxes, calls them Socratica; and Lipsius, exulting in the patronage of Socrates, says "ille totus est nos

This is indeed a coalition, which evinces as much as can be wished the confused similitude of ancient philosophical opinions: the father of scepticism is here enrolled amongst the founders of the Portico; he, whose best knowledge was that of his own ignorance, is called in to authorize the pretensions of the most obstinate dogmatists in all antiquity.

Rutilius, in his Itinerarium, has ridiculed the sabbath of the Jews, as lassati mollis imago Dei; " but Epicurus gave an eternal holiday to his gods, and, rather than disturb the slumbers of Olympus, denied at once the interference of a

ter.

[blocks in formation]

Providence. He does not, however, seem to thrown over Jupiter himself, and their deity was have been singular in this opinion. Theophilus like the Borgia of the epigrammatist, et Cæsar of Antioch, if he deserve any credit, imputes a et nihil." Not even the language of Seneca can similar belief to Pythagoras :-φησι (Πυθαγόρας) reconcile this degradation of divinity. ille ipse τε των πάντων θεους ανθρώπων μηδεν φροντίζειν. . omnium conditor ac rector scripsit quidam fata, And Plutarch, though so hostile to the followers sed sequitur; semper, paret, semel jussit.. of Epicurus, has unaccountably adopted the very Lib. de Providentiâ," cap. 5. same theological error. Thus, after quoting the With respect to the difference between the opinions of Anaxagoras and Plato upon divinity, Stoics, Peripatetics, and Academicians, the folhe adds, κοινώς oύν αμαρτάνουσιν αμφότεροι, ότι lowing words of Cicero prove that he saw but τον θεόν εποίησαν επιστεφόμενον των ανθρωπί litile to distinguish them from each other:vwv. — De Placit. Philosoph.lib. i. cap. 7: Peripateticos et Academicos, nominibus difPlato himself has attributed a degree of indifferentes, re congruentes; a quibus Stoici ipsi ference to the gods, which is not far removed verbis magis quam sententiis dissenserunt." from the apathy of Epicurus's heaven; as thus, - Academic." lib. ii. 5.; and perhaps what Reid in his Philebus, where Protarchus asks, oŭkovv has remarked upon one of their points of conεικός γε ούτε χαίρειν θεούς, ούτε το εναντίον; and troversy might be applied as effectually to the Socrates answers, πάνυ μεν ουν εικός, άσχημον reconcilement of all the rest. “The dispute γούν αυτων εκάτερον γιγνόμενον έστιν;

- while

between the Stoics and Peripatetics was probAristotle supposes a still more absurd neutrality, ably all for want of definition. The one said and concludes, by no very flattering analogy, they were good under the control of reason, the that the deity is as incapable of virtue as of vice. other that they should be eradicated.” — Essays, και γαρ ώσπερ ουδέν θηρίου εστί κακία, ουδ' vol. iii. In short, it appears a no less difficult ipern, Oűtws oudè Jeoù. — Ethic. Nicomach." matter to establish the boundaries of opinion lib. vii. cap. 1. truth, Aristotle, upon the between any two of the philosophical sects, than subject of Providence, was little more correct it would be to fix the landmarks of those estates than Epicurus. He supposed the moon to be in the moon, which Ricciolus so generously althe limit of divine interference, excluding of loted to his brother astronomers. Accordingly course this sublunary world from its influence. we observe some of the greatest men of antiquity The first definition of the world, in his treatise passing without scruple from school to school, “llepi Kóguov" (if this treatise be really the according to the fancy or convenience of the work of Aristotle) agrees, almost verbum verbo, moment. Cicero, the father of Roman phiwith that in the letter of Epicurus to Pythocles; losophy, is sometimes an Academician, sometimes and both omit the mention of a deity. In his a Stoic; and, more than once, he acknowledges Ethics, too, he intimates a doubt whether the a conformity with Epicurus; non sine causa gods feel any interest in the concerns of man igitur Epicurus ausus est dicere semper in plurikind. –εί γάρ τις επιμέλεια των ανθρωπίνων υπό bus bonis esse sapientem, quia semper sit in volupθεων γίνεται.

It is true, he adds wotep dokei, tatibus." Tusculan. Quæst.lib. v. Though but even this is very sceptical.

often pure in his theology, Cicero sometimes In these erroneous conceptions of Aristotle, smiles at futurity as a fiction; thus, in his Oration we trace the cause of that general neglect which for Cluentius, speaking of punishments in the his philosophy experienced among the early life to come, he says,

quæ si falsa sunt, id Christians. Plato is seldom much more ortho quod omnes intelligunt, quid ei tandem aliud dox, but the obscure enthusiasm of his style al mors eripuit, præter sensum doloris ?" -- though lowed them to accommodate all his fancies to here we should, perhaps, do him but justice by their own purpose. Such glowing steel was agreeing with his commentator Sylvius, who reeasily moulded, and Platonism became a sword marss upon this passage,

hæc autem dirit, ut in the hands of the fathers.

causæ site subserviret. The poet, Horace, The Providence of the Stoics, so vaunted in roves like a butterfly through the schools, and their school, was a power as contemptibly il now wings along the walls of the Porch, now efficient as the rest. All was fate in the system, basks among the flowers of the Garden ; while of the Portico. The chains of destiny were Verzil, with a tone of mind strongly philosophi

[ocr errors]

Those songs are hushed, those chords are

still, And so, perhaps, will every thrill Of feeling soon be lulled to rest, Which late I waked in Anna's breast. Yet, no -- the simple notes I played From memory's tablet soon may fade; The songs, which Anna loved to hear, May vanish from her heart and ear; But friendship's voice shall ever find An echo in that gentle mind, Nor memory lose nor time impair The sympathies that tremble there.

TO LADY HEATHCOTE,

ON AN

'T was clear that my rapt soul had

roamed, the while, To that bright realm of dreams, that

spirit-world, Which mortals know by its long track of

light O’er midnight's sky, and call the Galaxy.1

TO MRS. To see thee every day that came, And find thee still each day the same; In pleasure's smile or sorrow's tear To me still ever kind and dear; To meet thee early, leave thee late, Has been so long my bliss, my fate, That life, without this cheering ray, Which came, like sunshine, every day, And all my pain, my sorrow chased, Is now a lone and loveless waste.

Where are the chords she used to touch? The airs, the songs she loved so much?

1 According to Pythagoras, the people of Dreams are souls collected together in the Galaxy. - δήμος δε ονείρων, κατά Πυθαγόραν, αι ψυχαι ας συνάγεσθαι φησιν εις τον γαλαξίαν. Porphyr. de Antro Nymph. cal, has yet left us wholly uncertain as to the sect which he espoused. The balance of opinion declares him to have been an Epicurean, but the ancient author of his life asserts that he was an Academician; and we trace through his poetry the tenets of almost all the leading sects. The same kind of eclectic indifference is observable in most of the Roman writers. Thus, Propertius, in the fine elegy to Cynthia, on his departure for Athens, illic vel studiis animum emendare Platonis, incipiam, aut hortis, docte Epicure, tuis.

Lib. iii. Eleg. 21. Though Broeckhusius here reads, dux Epicure,which seems to fix the poet under the banners of Epicurus. Even the Stoic Seneca, whose doctrines have been considered so orthodox, that St. Jerome has ranked him amongst the ecclesiastical writers, while Boccaccio doubts (in consideration of his supposed correspondence with St. Paul) whether Dante should have placed him in Limbo with the rest of the Pagans - even the rigid Seneca has bestowed such commendations on Epicurus, that if only those passages of his works were preserved to us, we could not hesitate, I think, in pronouncing him a confirmed Epicurean. With similar inconsistency, we find Porphyry, in his work upon abstinence, referring to Epicurus as an example of the most strict Pythagorean temperance ; and Lancelotti (the author of "

Farfalloni degli antici Istorici) has been seduced by this grave reputation of Epicurus into the absurd error of associating him with Chrysippus, as a chief of the Stoic school. There is no doubt, indeed, that however

OLD RING FOUND AT TUNBRIDGE-WELLS.

Tunnebridge est à la même distance de Londres, que Fontainebleau l'est de Paris. Ce qu'il y a de beau et de galant dans l'un et dans l'autre sexe s'y rassemble au tems des eaux. La compagnie," etc. - See Mémoires de Grammont, Second Part. chap. iii.

Tunbridge Wells. WHEN Grammont graced these happy

springs, And Tunbridge saw, upon her Pantiles, the Epicurean sect might have relaxed from its original purity, the morals of its founder were as correct as those of any among the ancient philosophers; and his doctrines upon pleasure, as explained in the letter to Menaceus, are rational, amiable, and consistent with our nature. A late writer, De Sablons, in his “ Grands Hommes vengés,expresses strong indignation against the Encyclopédistes for their just and animated praises of Epicurus, and discussing the question,

si ce philosophe étoit vertueux,” denies it upon no other authority than the calumnies collected by Plutarch, who himself confesses that, on this particular subject, he consulted only opinion and report, without pausing to investigate their truth. - αλλά την δόξαν, ου την αλήθειαν σκοπούμεν. To the factious zeal of his illiberal rivals, the Stoics, Epicurus chiefly owed these gross misrepresentations of the life and opinions of himself and his associates, which, notwithstanding the learned exertions of Gassendi, have still left an odium on the name of his philosophy; and we ought to examine the ancient accounts of this philosopher with about the same degree of cautious belief which, in reading ecclesiastical history, we yield to the invectives of the fathers against the heretics, - trusting as little to Plutarch upon a dogma of Epicurus, as we would to the vehement St. Cyril upon a tenet of Nes. torius. (1801.)

The preceding remarks, I wish the reader to observe, were written at a time, when I thought the studies to which they refer much more important as well

amusing than, I freely confess, they appear to present.

as

more

me

at

[blocks in formation]

As — “Why are husbands like the mint?"

Because, forsooth, a husband's duty Is but to set the name and print

That give a currency to beauty. Why is a rose in nettles hid “Like a young widow, fresh and

fair?" Because 't is sighing to be rid Of weeds, that “have no business

there!"

And thus they missed and thus they hit, And now they struck and now they

parried; And some lay in of full grown wit,

While others of a pun miscarried. 'T was one of those facetious nights

That Grammont gave this forfeit ring For breaking grave conundrum-rites,

Or punning ill, or—some such thing;

But, whither have these gentle ones,
These rosy nymphs and black-eyed nuns,
With all of Cupid's wild romancing,
Led by truant brains a-dancing ?
Instead of studying tomes scholastic,
Ecclesiastic, or monastic,
Off I fly, careering far
In chase of Pollys, prettier far
Than any of their namesakes are,
The Polymaths and Polyhistors,
Polyglots and all their sisters.
So have I known a hopeful youth
Sit down in quest of lore and truth,
With tomes sufficient to confound him,
Like Tohu Bohu, heapt around him,
Mamurra 1 stuck to Theophrastus,

1 Mamurra, a dogmatic philosopher, who never doubted about anything, excepi who was his father. — nullâ de re unquam præterquam de patre dubitavit." - In Vit. He was very learned --dedans, (that is, in his head when it was opened, le Punique heurte le Persan, l'Hébreu choque l'Arabique, pour ne point parler de la mauvaise intelligence du Latin avec le Grec,!' etc. - See “L'Histoire de Montmaur." tpm. ü

From whence it can be fairly traced, Through many a branch and many a

bough, From twig to twig, until it graced

The snowy hand that wears it now.

[ocr errors]

And Galen tumbling o'er Bombastus. 1 When lo! while all that 's learned and

wise
Absorbs the boy, he lifts his eyes,
And through the window of his study
Beholds some damsel fair and ruddy,
With eyes, as brightly turned upon him as
The angel's 2 were on Hieronymus.
Quick fly the folios, widely scattered,
Old Homer's laureled brow is battered,
And Sappho, headlong sent, flies just in
The reverend eye of St. Augustin.
Raptured he quits each dozing sage,
Oh woman, for thy lovelier page:
Sweet book! unlike the books of

art,
Whose errors are thy fairest part;
In whom the dear errata column
Is the best page in all the volume ! 3

But to begin my subject rhyme
'T was just about this devilish time,

When scarce there happened any frolics
That were not done by Diabolics,
A cold and loveless son of Lucifer,
Who woman scorned, nor saw the use of

her,
A branch of Dagon's family,
(Which Dagon, whether He or She,
Is a dispute that vastly better is
Referred to Scaliger 4 et cæteris,)
Finding that, in this cage of fools,
The wisest sots adorn the schools,
Took it at once his head Satanic in,
To grow a great scholastic manikin,
A doctor, quite as learned and fine as
Scotus John or Tom Aquinas,5
Lully, Hales Irrefragabilis,
Or any doctor of the rabble is.
In languages, the Polyglots,
Compared to him, were Babel sots;
He chattered more than ever Jew did;
Sanhedrim and Priest included,
Priest and holy Sanhedrim
Were one-and-seventy fools to him.
But chief the learned demon felt a
Zeal so strong for gamma, delta,
That, all for Greek and learning's glory,

[ocr errors]

7

CON

1 Bombastus was one of the names of that great scholar and quack Paracelsus. - Philippus Bombastus latet sub splendido tegmine Aureoli Theophrasti Paracelsi,says Stadelius de circumforaneâ Literatorum vanitate. — He used to fight the devil every night with a broadsword, to the no small terror of his pupil Oporinus, who has recorded the circumstance. (Vide Oporin. Vit. apud Christian. Gryph. Vit. Select. quorundam Eruditissimorum, etc.) Paracelsus had but a poor opinion of Galen:

“My very beard (says he in his Paragrænum) has more learning in it than either Galen or Avicenna."

2 The angel, who scolded St. Jerom for reading Cicero, as Gratian tells the story in his “ cordantia discordantium Canonum," and says, that for this reason bishops were not allowed to read the Classics : “Episcopus gentilium libros non legat.", - Distinct. 37.

But Gratian is notorious for lying — besides, angels, as the illustrious pupil of Pantenus assures us, have got no tongues. ούχ ως ημίν τα ώτα, ούτως εκείνους ή γλωττα ουδ' άν όργανά τις δώη φωνής αγγέλοις. - Clem. Ale rand. Stromat.

3 The idea of the Rabbins, respecting the origin of woman, is not a little singular. They think that man was originally formed with a tail, like a monkey, but that the Deity cut off this appendage, and made woman of it. Upon this extraordinary supposition the following reflection is founded : If such is the tie between women and men,

The ninny who weds is a pitiful elf,
For he takes to his tail like an idiot again,

And thus makes a deplorable ape of himself. Yet, if we may judge as the fashions prevail,

Every husband remembers the original plan, And, knowing his wife is no more than his tail,

Why he -- leaves her behind him as much as

4 Scaliger. de Emendat. Tempor. -- Dagon was thought by others to be a certain sea-monster, who came every day out of the Red Sea to teach the Syrians husbandry.

- See Jaques Gaffarel (Curiosités Inouies," chap. i.), who says he thinks this story of the sea-monster “carries little show of probability with it.”

5 I wish it were known with any degree of certainty whether the Commentary on Boethius attributed to Thomas Aquinas be really the work of this Angelic Doctor. There are some bold assertions hazarded in it: for instance, he says that Plato kept school in a town called Academia, and that Alcibiades was a very beautiful woman whom some of Aristotle's pupils fell in love with: Alcibiades mulier fuit pulcherrima, quam videntes quidam discipuli Aristotelis,etc. - See Freytag Adparat. Litterar.art. 86. tom. i.

6 The following compliment was paid to Laurentius Valla, upon his accurate knowledge of the Latin language: nunc postquam manes defunctus Valla petivit,

non audet Pluto verba Latina loqui.
Since Val arrived in Pluto's shade,

His nouns and pronouns all so pat in,
Pluto himself would be afraid

To say his soul 's his own, in Latin ! See for these lines the “ Auctorum Censio" of Du Verdier (page 29.).

7 It is much to be regretted that Martin Luther, with all his talents for reforming, should yet be vulgar enough to laugh at Camerarius for

he can.

« ForrigeFortsæt »