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Learn from the birds what food the thickets yield; Learn from the beasts the physic of the field ; .
her foolish and ungrateful children for their vain and impious discontent:
“Quid tibi tantopere est, mortalis, quod nimis ægris
Aufer abhinc lacrymas, barathro et compesce querelas.” 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 words:
“ Æquo animoque, agedum, jam aliis concede:-necesse est.”
This fine prosopopoeia in our Author is not, as Dr. Warburton asserted, the most sublime that ever entered into the human imagination, for we see Lucretius used it before.
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 ; who perhaps, of all the Roman poets, had the strongest imagination. The Persians distinguish the different degrees 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 Sculptor Poet. His images have a bold relief. Of this noble prosopopoia, in Lucretius, Addison seems to have thought, in a well-known passage of Cato :
---All Nature cries aloud Thro' all her Works.”Ver. 173. Learn from the birds, &c.] It is a caution commonly practised amongst Navigators, when thrown upon a desert coast, and in want of refreshments, to observe what fruits have been touched by the Birds : and to venture on these without farther hesitation. P.
Ver. 173. Learn from the birds] Taken, but finely improved, from Bacon's Advancement of Learning, p. 48. “They who discourse of the inventions and originals of things, refer them rather to Beasts, Birds, and Fishes, and Serpents, than to Men. So that it was no marvaile (the manner of antiquity, being to consecrate Inventors) that the Ægyptians had so few human idols in their temples, but almost all brute. Who taught the
Thy arts of building from the bee receive; 175
NOTES. raven in a drowth to throw pebbles into a hollow tree when she spied water, that the water might rise so as she might come to it? Who taught the bee to sayle thro' such a vast sea of air, and to find the way from a field in flower a great way off to her hive? Who taught the ant to bite every graine of corne she burieth in her hill, least it should take roote and grow?” See, in the Philosophical Transactions, the marvellous account of the white ants in Africa, and their buildings and arts.
It is somewhat remarkable, that Solomon, in the Proverbs, when he speaks of the wonderful instincts of certain animals, does not mention the bee.
Ver. 174. Learn from the beasts, &c.] See Pliny's Nat. Hist. I, viii. c. 27, where several instances are given of Animals discovering the medical efficacy of herbs, by their own use of them; and pointing out to some operations in the art of healing, by their own practice. W.
Ver. 177. Learn of the little Nautilus, &c.] Oppian Halieur, lib. ii. describes this fish in the following manner : “ They swim on the surface of the sea, on the back of their shells, which exactly resemble the hulk of a ship; they raise two feet like masts, and extend a membrane between, which serves as a sail : the other two feet they employ, as oars at the side. They are usually seen in the Mediterranean." ,
And these for ever, tho’a Monarch reign, .
V. Great Nature spoke; observant Men obey’d;
VARIATIONS. Ver. 197. In the first Editions, c. Who for those Arts they learn’d of BRUTES before,
As Kings shall crown them, or as Gods adore. “ Les Sauvages racontent que ce fut Michabou (le Dieu des Eaux] qui apprit à leurs Ancêtres à pêcher, qu'il inventa les Rèts, et que ce fut la toile d'ARAIGNE'E qui lui en donne l'idée.” ----Journal d'un Voyage dans l'Amerique Sept. par Charlevoix. Vol. v. p. 417. Par. 1744. 8vo. W. Ver. 201. Here rose one little state ; &c.] In the MS. thus,
The neighbours leagu'd to guard their common spot ;
Did here the trees with ruddier burdens bend,
known, Till common intrest plac'd the sway in one. 210
NOTES. Ver. 208. When Love was Liberty,] i. e. When men had no need to guard their native liberty from their governors by civil pactions ; the love which each master of a family had for those under his care being their best security. W.
Ver. 209. Thus States were form’d;] Having thus explained the original of Civil Society, he shews us next (from Ver. 208 to 215) that to this Society a civil magistrate, properly so called, did belong: and this in confutation of that idle hypothesis, which pretends that God conferred the regal title on the Fathers of families; from whence men, when they had instituted Society, were to fetch their Governors. On the contrary, our Author shews, that a King was unknown, till common interest, which led men to institute civil government, led them at the same time to institute a Governor. However, that it is true that the same wisdom or valour, which gained regal obedience from sons to the sire, procured kings a paternal authority, and made them considered as fathers of their people. Which probably was the original (and, while mistaken, continues to be the chief support) of that slavish error : Antiquity representing its earliest monarchs under the idea of a common father, tarno áv&pwv. Afterward, indeed, they became a kind of foster-fathers, Toquéva lañv, as Homer calls one of them: till at length they began to devour that flock they had been so long accustomed to shear; and, as Plutarch says of Cecrops, ék xonotoŨ Baoiléws äpplov vai dpakovtádn yevóuevov TYPANNON. W.
From the manuscripts of James Harris, Esq. “ The highest order of men are wise and honest legislators: next to them come wise and honest magistrates: next to these, military command
'Twas VIRTUE ONLY (or in arts or arms, Diffusing blessings, or averting harms) The same which in a Sire the Sons obey'd, A Prince the Father of a People made. VI. Till then, by Nature crown'd, each Patriarch sate,
215 King, priest, and parent, of his growing state, On him, their second Providence, they hung, Their law his eye, their oracle his tongue. He from the wond’ring furrow call’d the food, Taught to command the fire, control the flood, 220
ers, whether naval or terrestrial: next to these, the tribe of artists, as well the elegant as the necessary : next to these, farmers, hinds, and labourers ; then come idle men of great family, patent-gatherers, knights, and baronets, mumpers, fortune-tellers, gypsies, gentlemen without possessions ; all who injure society either by fraud or rapine, or at least by ingratitude, in partaking of its benefits, without regarding the great duty of contributing their own endeavours.”
Ver. 211. 'Twas Virtue only, &c.] Our Author hath good authority for this account of the origin of kingship. Aristotle assures us, that it was Virtue only, or in arts or arms: Kaliotatal Βασιλεύς εκ των επιεικών καθ' υπεροχήν αρετής, ή πράξεων των από tñs åperñs, û kad' UT Epoxov TOLOÚTOV yévovç. W.
Ver. 214. A Prince the Father] Joinville relates, that he had frequently seen St. Louis, after having heard mass in the summer, seat himself at the foot of an old oak in the forest of Vincennes, where any one of his subjects might approach him, and lay his business or complaint before this good king. Our Author would have much improved all that he says of Government, if he had lived to have read one of the best, perhaps, of all treatises on politics, that of the President Montesquieu.
Ver. 219. He from the wond'ring] A finer example can perhaps scarce be given of a compact and comprehensive style. The manner in which the four elements were subdued is comprised in these four lines alone. Pope is here, as Quintillian says of