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With calm untrembling soul each scene ordain'd.
That portion of the fifth book, in which Lucretius presents a description of primæval life and manners, and traces from thence the growth of civilization and refinement, and the corresponding modifications in the habits and pleasures of man, has been regarded as most happily characteristic of his best manner. I shall quote another passage from this part of the poem, as one in which the translator has caught much of the spirit of his author.
But nature's self th' untutor'd race first taught
Then, too, new cultures tried they, and, with joy
Each barbarous fruitage sweeten and subdue.
And from the liquid warblings of the birds
Thus sooth'd they ev'ry care with music, thus
Warmest inspir'd them : then lascivious* sport * “The term lascivia is often and elegantly made use of in poetry, and particularly by Lucretius, without intending to express any impurity of action.”
Taught round their heads, their shoulders, taught to twine
But whatever may be the estimate of this work, considered as a translation, it may justly claim a considerably augmented value on account of the voluminous and extremely diversified collection of annotations, which form a kind of running commentary to the entire poem. These notes are printed in double columns, with a type much smaller than the original and translation; and occupying, as they do on the average, more than half of each page, comprise altogether a rich body of entertainment and instruction. They consist of comments on the doctrines of the poem, and of the sect of philosophers whose tenets Lucretius espoused; observations on the peculiarities of other schools of philosophy, Indian, Grecian, Roman, &c.; correct sketches of the discoveries and theories of the moderns, whether devoted to chemistry or physics; developements of striking facts in natural history; and allusions to many extraordinary anticipations of discoveries supposed to be modern. Our
annotator also expatiates, with taste and feeling, upon the beauties of his author, and collects numerous obvious or imagined imitations of him in several poets of earlier and later times. His extensive attainments as a linguist, and that indefatigable industry to which I have more than once adverted, enabled him to enrich this department of his undertaking with an almost boundless profusion; and to present resemblances, parallelisms, allusions, and probable copies of his text, from Arabic, Persian, Greek, Latin, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French, German, English, and other poets, from various parts of the Holy Scriptures, and from every work of taste or knowledge that could, without unnatural straining, contribute to his purpose. In cases where he could not at once select good English renderings of the authors quoted in these illustrations, he has introduced translations of his own; and these, together with his criticisms, and his reasonings on the utmost diversity of topics, evince a union of learning, taste, feeling, and judgment, such as has very rarely been found. Sometimes, indeed, it must be admitted that his admiration of his author and his theories carry him beyond the limits of sober interpretation; yet, on the whole, these notes possess a rich and permanent value; and may be generally consulted, by one who guards against this tendency, with the utmost safety,* as well as advantage and pleasure. To facilitate the reader's application to them, a comprehensive and judicious index of the several
It is a matter of sincere and deep regret, that the translator did not, by expunging, instead of translating, some very objectionable passages near the end of the fourth book, insure for this his elaborate work an unqualified commendation,
subjects treated both in the poem and in the notes, is placed at the end of the second volume.
Looking back upon the space which has been already devoted to these volumes, I feel the expediency of checking myself; and shall, therefore, only select two or three specimens from Dr. Good's interesting commentary.
On turning to an exquisite passage in the 3d book, beginning,
Nam jam non domus adcipiet te læta, neque uxor
we find a very characteristic note, which, with the simple omission of the Greek, Latin, and German originals, cited by the annotator, I shall now introduce.
“ Thy babes belov’d,
“I must not here forbear to quote a beautiful passage of Homer, towards which, as Lambinus has justly observed, Lucretius appears to have thrown his eye,
in this exquisite delineation, and whence, perhaps, he drew the rudiments of one of his most pathetic traits:
Know thou, whoe'er with heavenly power contends,
“But though Lucretius may, perhaps, with respect to one idea, be a copyist of Homer, Virgil is a far closer