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The pencil then did growing fame acquire,
Greece did at length a learned race produce,
Th’erroneous dictates of each Grecian fage
But though their schools produc'd no nobler fruit 55
These ne'er the breast with vain ambition fire, 60
You, who the being of a God disclaim,
first atoms independent are,
That matter, which you independent name,
90 Cannot a being necessary claim ; For what has being from neceffity, It is impossible it should not be.
Why has an atom this one place posseft Of all the empty void, and not the rest?
95 If by its nature's force 'tis present here, By the same force it must be every where ; Can beings be confin'd, which necessary are ? If a first body may to any place Be not determin’d, in the boundless space, 'Tis plain, it then may absent be from all ; Who then will this a felf-existence call ? As time does vast eternity regard, So place is with infinitude compar'd: A being then, which never did commence, 105 Muit, as eternal, likewise be inimense. What cause within, or what without, is found, That can a being uncreated bound? None that 's internal, for it has no cause; Nor can it be control'd by foreign laws, For then it clearly would dependent be On force superior, which will ne'er agree With self-existence and necellity. Absurdly then to atoms you allign Such powers, and such prerogatives divine.
115 Thus while the notion of a God you flight, Yourselves (who vainly think you
reason right) Make vile material Gods, in number infinite,
Now let us, as 'tis just, in turn prepare To stand the foe, and wage defensive war.
Lucretius first, a mighty hero, fprings
To parent matter things their being owe,
breed, And any thing from any thing proceed ; The spicy groves might Scythia's hills adorn, The thistle might the amaranth have borne, The vine the lemon, and the grape the thorns Herds from the hills, men from the seas might rise, 135 From woods the whales, and lions from the fkies. Th'elated bard here, with a conqueror's air, Disdainful siniles, and bids his foes despair. But, Carus, here you use poetic charms, And not affail us with the reasoner's arms. Where all is clear, you fancy'd doubts remove, And what we grant with ease, with labour
prove. What you
prove, but cannot, you decline; But chuse a thing you can, and there
Thine. Tell us, fam'd Roman, was it e'er denied, 145 That seeds for such productions are supplied ? That Nature always must materials find For beasts and trees, to propagate their kind ? All generation, the rude peasant knows, A pre-existent matter must suppose.
But what to Nature first her being gave ?
But see how well the Poet will support His cause, if we the argument retort.
160 If Chance alone could manage, sort, divide, And, beings to produce, your atoms guide; If casual concourse did the world compose, And things from hits fortuitous arose; Then any thing night come from any thing; 165 For how from chance can constant order spring ? The forest oak might bear the blushing rose, And fragrant myrtles thrive in Ruflian snows; The fair pomegranate might adorn the pine, The grape the bramble, and the soe the vine ;
170 Fish from the plains, birds from the floods might rise, And lowing herds break from the starry skies.
But, see, the chief does keener weapons chuse, Advances bold, and thus the fight renews :
“ If I were doubtful of the source and spring 175 " Whence things arise, I from the skies could bring, “ And every part of Nature, proofs, to show • The world to Gods cannot its being owe; “ So full of faults is all th’unartful frame : « First we the air's unpeopled desert blame.
180 * Brute