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nature shall apply force to matter, and by design torture and vex it, in order to its annihilation, it, on the contrary, being brought under this necessity, changes and transforms itself into a strange variety of shapes and appearances; for nothing but the power of the Creator can annihilate, or truly destroy it; so that at length, running through the whole circle of transformations, and completing its period, it in some degree restores itself, if the force be continued. And that method of binding, torturing, or detaining, will prove the most effectual and expeditious, which makes use of manacles and fetters; that is, lays hold and works upon matter in the extremest degrees.
The addition in the fable that makes Proteus a prophet, who had the knowledge of things past, present, and future, excellently agrees with the nature of matter; as he who knows the properties, the changes, and the processes of matter, must, of necessity, understand the effects and sum of what it does, has done, or can do, though his knowledge extends not to all the parts and particulars thereof.
XIV.- MEMNON, OR A YOUTH TOO FORWARD. EXPLAINED OF THE FATAL PRECIPITANCY OF YOUTH.
The poets made Memnon the son of Aurora, and bring him to the Trojan war in beautiful armor, and flushed with popular praise ; where, thirsting after further glory, and rashly hurrying on to the greatest enterprises, he engages the bravest warrior of all the Greeks, Achilles, and falls by his hand in single
combat. Jupiter, in commiseration of his death, sent birds to grace his funeral, that perpetually chanted certain mournful and bewailing dirges. It is also reported, that the rays of the rising sun, striking his statue, used to give a lamenting sound.
EXPLANATION. — This fable regards the unfortunate end of those promising youths, who, like sons of the morning, elate with empty hopes and glittering outsides, attempt things beyond their strength; challenge the bravest heroes ; provoke them to the combat; and, proving unequal, die in their high attempts.
The death of such youths seldom fails to meet with infinite pity; as no mortal calamity is more moving and afflicting, than to see the flower of virtue cropped before its time. Nay, the prime of life enjoyed to the full, or even to a degree of envy, does not assuage or moderate the grief occasioned by the untimely death of such hopeful youths; but lamentations and bewailings fly, like mournful birds, about their tombs, for a long while after ; especially upon all fresh occasions, new commotions, and the beginning of great actions, the passionate desire of them is renewed, as by the sun's morning rays.
XV.-TYTHONUS, OR SATIETY.
EXPLAINED OF PREDOMINANT PASSIONS. It is elegantly fabled by Tythonus, that being exceedingly beloved by Aurora, she petitioned Jupiter that he might prove immortal, thereby to secure
herself the everlasting enjoyment of his company; but through female inadvertence she forgot to add, that he might never grow old ; so that, though he proved immortal, he became miserably worn and consumed with age, insomuch that Jupiter, out of pity, at length transformed him to a grasshopper.
EXPLANATION. — This fable seems to contain an ingenious description of pleasure ; which at first, as it were in the morning of the day, is so welcome, that men pray to have it everlasting, but forget that satiety and weariness of it will, like old age, overtake them, though they think not of it; so that at length, when their appetite for pleasurable actions is gone, their desires and affections often continue; whence we commonly find that aged persons delight themselves with the discourse and remembrance of the things agreeable to them in their better days. This is very remarkable in men of a loose, and men of a military life; the former whereof are always talking over their amours, and the latter the exploits of their youth ; like grasshoppers, that show their vigor only by their chirping.
XVI.-JUNO'S SUITOR, OR BASENESS.
EXPLAINED OF SUBMISSION AND ABJECTION. THE poets tell us, that Jupiter, to carry on his love-intrigues, assumed many different shapes; as of a bull, an eagle, a swan, a golden shower, &c. ; but when he attempted Juno, he turned himself into the most ignoble and ridiculous creature, - even
that of a wretched, wet, weather-beaten, affrighted, trembling, and half-starved cuckoo.
EXPLANATION. - This is a wise fable, and drawn from the very entrails of morality. The moral is, that men should not be conceited of themselves, and imagine that a discovery of their excellences will always render them acceptable ; for this can only succeed according to the nature and manners of the person they court, or solicit; who, if he be a man not of the same gifts and endowments, but altogether of a haughty and contemptuous behavior, here represented by the person of Juno, they must entirely drop the character that carries the least show of worth or gracefulness; if they proceed upon any other footing, it is downright folly ; nor is it sufficient to act the deformity of obsequiousness, unless they really change themselves, and become abject and contemptible in their persons.
XVII.-CUPID, OR AN ATOM.
The particulars related by the poets of Cupid, or Love, do not properly agree to the same person; yet they differ only so far, that if the confusion of persons be rejected, the correspondence may hold. They say, that Love was the most ancient of all the gods, and existed before every thing else, except Chaos, which is held coeval therewith. But for Chaos, the ancients never paid divine honors, nor gave the title of a god thereto. Love is represented
absolutely without progenitor, excepting only that he is said to have proceeded from the egg of Nox; but that himself begot the gods, and all things else, on Chaos. His attributes are four; viz: 1, perpetual infancy; 2, blindness; 3, nakedness; and 4, archery.
There was also another Cupid, or Love, the youngest son of the gods, born of Venus; and upon him the attributes of the elder are transferred, with some degree of correspondence.
EXPLANATION. - This fable points at, and enters, the cradle of nature. Love seems to be the appetite, or incentive, of the primitive matter; or, to speak more distinctly, the natural motion, or moving principle, of the original corpuscles, or atoms; this being the most ancient and only power that made and wrought all things out of matter. It is absolutely without parent, that is, without cause; for causes are as parents to effects; but this power or efficacy could have no natural cause ; for, excepting God, nothing was before it; and therefore it could have no efficient in nature. And as nothing is more inward with nature, it can neither be a genus nor a form; and therefore, whatever it is, it must be somewhat positive, though inexpressible. And if it were possible to conceive its modus and process, yet it could not be known from its cause, as being, next to God, the cause of causes, and itself without a cause. And, perhaps, we are not to hope that the modus of it should fall, or be comprehended, under human inquiry. Whence it is properly feigned to be the egg of Nox, or laid in the dark.
The divine philosopher declares, that a God has made every thing beautiful in its season ; and has given over the world to our disputes and inquiries;