« AnteriorContinuar »
Again, the body of nature is justly described biform, because of the difference between its superior and inferior parts; as the former, for their beauty, regularity of motion, and influence over the earth, may be properly represented by the human figure; and the latter, because of their disorder, irregularity, and subjection to the celestial bodies, are by the brutal. This biform figure also represents the participation of one species with another; for there appear to be no simple natures, but all participate or consist of two : thus man has somewhat of the brute, the brute somewhat of the plant, the plant somewhat of the mineral; so that all natural bodies have really two faces, or consist of a superior and an inferior species.
There lies a curious allegory in the making of Pan goat-footed, on account of the motion of ascent which the terrestrial bodies have towards the air and heavens ; for the goat is a clambering creature, that delights in climbing up rocks and precipices; and in the same manner the matters destined to this lower globe strongly affect to rise upwards, as appears from the clouds and meteors.
Pan's arms, or the ensigns he bears in his hands, are of two kinds; the one an emblem of harmony, the other of empire. His pipe, composed of seven reeds, plainly denotes the consent and harmony, or the concords and discords of things, produced by 6 the motion of the seven planets. His crook also contains a fine representation of the ways of nature, which are partly straight and partly crooked: thus the staff, having an extraordinary bend towards the top, denotes that the works of Divine Providence are generally brought about by remote means, or in a circuit, as if somewhat else were intended rather than the effect produced; as in the sending of Joseph into Egypt, &e. So likewise in human government, they who sit at the helm manage and wind the people more successfully by pretext and oblique courses, than they could by such as are direct and straight; so that, in effect, all sceptres are crooked at the top.
Pan's mantle, or clothing, is with great ingenuity made of a leopard's skin, because of the spots it has; for in like manner the heavens are sprinkled with stars, the sea with islands, the earth with flowers, and almost each particular thing is variegated, or wears a mottled coat.
The office of Pan could not be more livelily expressed than by making him the god of hunters; for every natural action, every motion and process, is no other than a chase : thus arts and sciences hunt out their works, and human schemes and counsels their several ends; and all living creatures either hunt out their aliment, pursue their prey, or seek their pleasures, and this in a skilful and sagacious manner. He is also styled the god of the rural inhabitants, because men in this situation live more according to nature than they do in cities and courts, where nature is so corrupted with effeminate arts that the saying of the poet may be verified —
. pars minima est ipsa puella sui.'
He is likewise particularly styled president of the mountains, because in mountains and lofty places the nature of things lies more open and exposed to the eye and the understanding.
In his being called the messenger of the gods, next after Mercury, lies a divine allegory, as next after the Word of God, the image of the world is the herald of the divine power and wisdom, according to the expression of the psalmist: "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth his handywork."
Pan is delighted with the company of the nymphs; that is, the souls of all living creatures are the delight of the world : and he is properly called their governor, because each of them follows its own nature as a leader, and all dance about their own respective rings, with infinite variety and never-ceasing motion. And with these continually join the satyrs and sileni ; that is, youth and age : for all things have a kind of young, cheerful, and dancing time ; and again their time of slowness, tottering, and creeping. And whoever, in a true light, considers the motions and endeavours of both these ages, like another Democritus, will perhaps find them as odd and strange as the gesticulations and antic motions of the satyrs and sileni.
The power he had of striking terrors contains a very sensible doctrine ; for nature has implanted fear in all living creatures, as well to keep them from risking their lives, as to guard against injuries and violence; and yet this nature or passion keeps not its bounds, but with just and profitable fears always mixes such as are vain and senseless ; so that all things, if we could see their insides, would appear full of panic terrors. Thus mankind, particularly the vulgar, labour under a high degree of superstition, which is nothing more than a panic dread that principally reigns in unsettled and troublesome times.
The presumption of Pan in challenging Cupid to the conflict, denotes that matter has an appetite and tendency to a dissolution of the world, and falling back to its first chaos again, unless this depravity and inclination were restrained and subdued by a more powerful concord and agreement of things, properly expressed by Love or Cupid; it is therefore well for mankind, and the state of all things, that Pan was thrown and conquered in the struggle.
His catching and detaining Typhon in the net receives a similar explanation ; for whatever vast and unusual swells (which the word typhon signifies) may sometimes be raised in nature, as in the sea, the clouds, the earth, or the like, yet nature catches, entangles, and holds all such outrages and insurrections in her inextricable net, wove as it were of adamant.
That part of the fable which attributes the discovery of lost Ceres to Pan whilst he was hunting—a happiness denied the other gods, though they diligently and expressly sought her—contains an exceeding just and prudent admonition; viz., that we are not to expect the discovery of things useful in common life, as that of corn, denoted by Ceres, from abstract philosophies, as if these were the gods of the first order,—no, not though we used our utmost endeavours this way,—but only from Pan; that is, Ta sagacious experience and general knowledge of nature, which is often found, even by accident, to stumble upon such discoveries whilst the pursuit was directed another way.
The event of his contending with Apollo in music affords us a
useful instruction, that may help to humble the human reason and
judgment, which is too apt to boast and glory in itself. There seem
to be two kinds of harmony—the one of Divine Providence, the other of human reason; but the government of the world, the administration of its affairs, and the more secret divine judgments, sound harsh and dissonant to human ears or human judgment; and though this ignorance be justly rewarded with asses' ears, yet they are put on and worn, not openly, but with great secrecy, nor is the deformity of the thing seen or observed by the vulgar.
We must not find it strange if no amours are related of Pan besides his marriage with Eeho; for nature enjoys itself, and in itself all other things. He that loves desires enjoyment, but in profusion there is no room for desire ; and therefore Pan, remaining content with himself, has no passion unless it be for discourse.: which is well shadowed out by Echo or talk; or, when it is more accurate, by Syrinx or writing. But Echo makes a most excellent wife for Pan, as being no other than genuine philosophy, which faithfully repeats his words, or only transcribes exactly as nature dictates; thus representing the true image and reflection of the world without adding a tittle.
It tends also to the support and. perfection of Pan or nature to be without offspring; for the world generates in its parts, and not in the way of a whole, as wanting a body external to itself wherewith to generate.
Lastly: for the supposed or spurious prattling daughter of Pan, it is an excellent addition to the fable, and aptly represents the talkative philosophies that have at all times been stirring, and filled the world with idle tales, being ever barren, empty, and servile; though sometimes, indeed, diverting and entertaining, and sometimes again troublesome and importunate.
SIR WALTER RALEGH.
Sir Walter Ralegh, the younger son of a Devonshire Squire of small fortune but ancient lineage, was born in 1552. At the age of fifteen he became a Commoner of Oriel College, Oxford, where he resided two or three years, bnt left the University without taking a degree. In the year 1569 he went to France, having enlisted in a company of gentlemen volunteers raised by his kinsman, Henry Champernon, to aid the French Protestants in their resistance to the persecution of the League.
He himself has left it on record that he was present at the disastrous battle of Moncontonr; and it is probable that he was in Paris during the Bartholomew massacre, and very possibly found shelter, like Sir P. Sidney, in the house of the English Ambassador.
After a very short sojourn in England, he took service under the Prince of Orange; and, like so many other gallant Englishmen of the time, aided in the struggle of the Netherlanders against the intolerable tyranny of Spain.
In 1580 we find him serving in Ireland under Lord Grey de Wilton and the Earl of Ormond; and it was during his stay in that country that he became intimate with the poet Spenser, to whose genius he has done homage in a beautiful sonnet, called A Viiion upon the Faerie Queene. On his return to England he was introduced at Court, probably by the Earl of Leicester, and very soon attracted to himself the favourable regard of Elizabeth, always prompt to do honour to heroism, genins, varied accomplishments, and a gallant bearing. The story of Ralegh spreading his cloak over a muddy spot in the Queen's path is well known, and is sufficiently characteristic of him to carry with it every appearance of truth.
Shortly afterward he turned his attention to maritime discovery and colonization. Under letters patent from the Queen he fitted out an expedition, and made more than one attempt to plant a settlement in Virginia. Ho also associated himself with his half-brother, Sir Adrian Gilbert, in an enterprise for the discovery of a north-west passage.