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nomena form part of our nature: and in those instances where they seem eradicated, it is only a false appearance: or if they sometimes can really be eradicated , it is at the expense of vast pains . It has pleased the Creator to implant in every breast the primary laws of morality, and to confer on our sentiments a stability which our senses do certainly not possess; our thoughts are evidently less exposed to violence than our members; and, in spite of cavillers, it is an impugnable position that it is much easier to deceive our eyes, or put them out altogether, than to cheat or totally corrupt a sound understanding. The duties of a citizen laid down by Cicero, or of a general by Homer, or Xenophon, are his duties still, for the distinctions between vice and virtue are and must be eternal; as whispers that inseparable, interior monitor that is not to be readily fooled, like the taste, smell, or sight. To develope those eternal distinctions is (or ought to be) the object of the analysis of the intellect; and, since they are eternal, all the consequences fairly drawn from them must be eternal and exactly true (0. But even though natural philo
(i) "Thia (says Shaftesbury ) " is the Philosophy.whicb by nature has the pre-eminence above all other science or knowledge. Nor can this surely be of the sort called vain or deceitful; since it is the only means by which I can discover vanity and deceit. For mathematicians aie divided; and mechanics proceed as well on one hypothesis as on the other. Of this, says one, J have clear ideas. Of this, says the other, / can he certain. And what, say I, if in the whole matter there be no certainty at all? Qiarac. Vol. i. p. »56 —60.
sophers could pretend to an equal exactitude in their researches, yet they were for ever precluded from rivalling with moral science by its superior nobility. It were a question between matter and mind; it were whether the mind should stoop to the clod on which we tread, or soar to the investigation of her immortal origin: an ethereal
flight that is scarcely more a vindication of her own glory, than a practical, physical benefit. For by it men are restrained from mutual wrongs and disasters; nations learn the road to honour and happiness; and individuals their rights and duties. It is a study that can be prosecuted in every situation; whether free, or rn a dungeon; in crowds, or in solitude; in wealth, or in poverty; in academic bowers mid books and observatories and laboratories, or in the absence of all such aids; in the possession of health and the full acuteness of the senses, or (like Milton) blind and infirm; in the
smiles of a court, or in the grapple of a tyrant;
a study that teaches, not to decompose or guide the elements, but, what are far more sublime, immaterial spirits; and subjects to our sway, not earthly atoms but thinking beings, not a brittle lens or furnace, but machines of power almost illimitable, the hopes and fears, passions and energies of our fellow-creatures.
It is no longer a question of precedence: the
names that follow are evidently thrown promiscuously in the text, as chance and rhyme decided. "Democritus, the laughing philosopher, made himself famous for maintaining the atomical system: of which I shall only say, that it excludes the existence of a Deity, and ascribes the formation of the world to the fortuitous concourse of unperishable atoms endowed with motion. The strange humour and temper of the man is not unsuitable to so strange a doctrine (0. " This is well and succintly conveyed by the Italian, il mondo pone a caso . The Stoics, Ionics, and Cynics are represented by Zeno, Thales, Diogenes, and Anaxagoras, master of all-accomplished Pericles. Empedocles was a good poet, physician and sorcerer; in one or other of which capacities he is said to have resuscitated a young girl. But if he prolonged her life, he balanced the account by shortening his own (l): however not before giving Cleander a splendid Pythagorean entertainment consisting "of an ox all made of paste composed of myrh, frankincense and spice (3). " Heraclitus I pronounce with the penultimate short , as it is in the original, and in Petrarch W. Dioscorides was the father of botany;
(i) Athenian Letters. Vol. i. p. iaS. (a) . . . Dens immortalis haheri
Dura cupit Empedocles, ardentem frigidus Aetnara
Insiluit. De arte poet.
(3) Ath. Lett. Vol i. p. a8o.
(4) Vidi in suoi detti Eraclito coperto.
Trionfo della Fama, Cap. 3.;
which Dante somewhat quaintly expresses by 'the good collector of qualities . ' The usual reading in verse I4i is Linus; but one old edition (0 has Livius, and it is so much more probable that some early copyist had made a blunder and led others into it, than that Dante should have preferred inserting a half-fabulous bard (particularly after having already named one of the same order, Orfeus) rather than the great Roman historian, whose name is pronounced so honourably in another Canto that I do not hesitate to write Livius. Moreover this is a verse with which copyists have certainly tampered : for in the text which Dante's son, Peter, used, there is neither Linus nor Livius , but
Tullio almo e Seneca morale; although indeed Linus be inserted a's a various reading in the comment (3). The Egyptian astronomer Ptolemy was to our poet, more than Newton and Herschell are to us. The Spanish-Arabians, or Moors, Avicen and Averroes, were medical sophists. The former did for his Master Galen in physic, what Plato did for Socrates in philosophy, he wrote and explained his precepts . Averroes was however more an astronomer and moralist than a physcian; and translated the works of Aristotle from Greek into Arabic and commented
(i) La Nidobeatina.
(a) Inf. Canto xxviii. v.j 1.
(3) Bib. Laurenziana . Plut. xi» Cad.
them at vast length. That this version of Averroes became familiar among the Italians as early as laoo is equally conclusive of their proficiency in the Oriental tongues, whether they translated it into Latin, or continued to use it in the Arabic: and at last it made such noise that the Council of Vienna prohibited its being used in schools, on account of Mussulman errors thought to be in it: but the book had still more fame when , after Dante's death, it was interpreted by an Italian friar and gave employment to all the philosophers and divines throughout Europe in attack or defence («>. Petrarch himself was involved in the controversy: and the literary world became divided into Averroists and Anti-Averroists; even in a very modern pamphlet I And Averroes- quoted three several times in a few pages (*). He was then no common mind; and, however right it be to peruse little of his lore at present, it was fair to number him among the group that waited on that mighty genius, to the interpreting of whose writings he had devoted his labour: so that Monsieur Giuguen£ might here again have spared a tart observation (J). Neither Religion, nor Government, has suffered any radical alteration amongst the Moors and their superiority to other nations in personal strength and beauty is the same as ever: still are
(i) Tiraboschi. Vol. 5. passim.
(a) Bulgarini, Replicbe, p. 21 — jy—7^.
(3) ...jusqu'i TArabeAverrofc. Hist. Litt, de 1'Italic. Vol. a. p. 4«