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xv. Tithonus, or Satiety.
T is elegantly feigned that Tithonus was the Paramour, of Aurora, who (desirous to enjoy his Company) peti
tioned Jupiter that he might never die ; but through Womanith oversight) forgetting to insert this Clause in her Petition, that he might not withal grow old, and feeble ; it followed that he was only freed from the condition of Mortality ; but for old Age, that came upon him in a marvellous and miserable fashion, agreeable to the state of those who cannot die, yet every Day grow weaker and weaker with Age: Insomuch that Jupiter (in commiseration of this his Misery,) did at length metamorphose him into a Grasshopper.
This Fable seems to be an ingenious Character, or Description of Pleasure, which in the Beginning and, as it were, in the Morning, seems to be pleasant and delightful, that Men defire they might enjoy and monopolize it for ever unto themselves, unmindful of that Satiety and Loathing, which (like old Age,) will come upon them before they be aware.
And so at last, (when the use of Pleasure leaves Men, the Desire and Affection not yet yielding unto Death,) it comes to pass that Men please themselves only by talking, and commemorating those things which brought Pleasure unto them in the flower of their Age, which may be observed in libidinous Persons, and also in Men of Military Professions; the one delighting in beastly Talk, the other boasting of their valorous Deeds, like Grasshoppers, whose Vigour consists only in their Voice.
xvi. Juno's Suitor, or Baseness.
HE Poets say, that Jupiter, to enjoy
his lustful Delights, took upon him the shape of sundry Creatures, as of a
Bull, of an Eagle, of a Swan, and of a Golden Shower ; but being a Suitor to Juno, he came in a Form most ignoble and base, an Object full of Contempt and Scorn, resembling indeed a miserable Cuckoo weather-beaten with Rain and Tempest, numbed, quaking, and half dead with Cold.
This Fable is wife, and seems to be taken out of the Bowels of Morality; the Sense of it being this : That Men boast not too much of themselves, thinking by Oftentation of their own Worth, to infinuate themselves into Eftimation and Favour with Men. The Success of such Intentions being for the most part measured by the Nature and Disposition of those to whom Men sue for Grace; who, if of themselves they be endowed with no Gifts and Ornaments of Nature, but are only of haughty and malignant Spirits, (intimated by the Person of Juno,) then are Suitors to know that it is good Policy to omit all kind of Appearance that may any way show their own least Praise or
Worth, and that they much deceive themselves in taking any other Course. Neither is it enough to shew Deformity in Obsequiousness, unless they also appear even abject and base in their very Persons.
XVII. Cupid, or an Atom.
HAT which the Poets say of Cupid, or Love, cannot properly be attributed to one and the self same Perfon; and
yet the Difference is such, that (by rejecting the Confusion of Persons,) the Similitude may be received.
They say, that Love is the ancientest of all the Gods, and of all things else, except Chaos, which they hold to be a Contemporary with it. Now as touching Chaos, that by the Ancients was never dignified with Divine Honour, or with the Title of the God. And as for Love, they ablolutely bring him in without a Father ; only some are of opinion, that he came of an Egg that was laid by Nox, and that on Chaos he begot the Gods and all things else. There are four things attributed unto him, perpetual Infancy, Blindness, Nakedness, and Archery. There was also another Love, which was the youngest of the Gods, and he, they say, was the Son of Venus. On this also they bestow the Attributes of the elder Love, as in some sort well apply unto him.
This Fable tends, and looks to the Cradle of Nature, Love seeming to be the Appetite or Desire of the first Matter, or (to speak more plain) the natural motion of the Atom, which is that Ancient and only Power that Forms and Fashions all things out of Matter, of which there is no Parent, that is to say, no Cause, seeing every Cause is as a Parent to its Effect. Of this Power or Virtue there can be no Cause in Nature (as for God, we always except him,) for nothing was before it, and therefore no efficient Cause of it. Neither was there any thing better known to Nature, and therefore neither Genus nor Form. Wherefore whatsoever it is, positive it is, and but inexpreffible. Moreover, if the manner and proceeding of it were to be conceived, yet could it not be by any Cause, seeing that (next unto God,) it is the Cause of Causes, it self only without any Cause. And perchance there is no likelihood that the manner of it may be contained or comprehended within the narrow compass of human Search. Not without reason therefore it is feigned to come of an Egg which was laid by Nox. Certainly the Divine Philosopher grants so much.
Eccl. 3. 11. Cuneta fecit tempestatibus suis pulchra, et mundum tradidit disputationibus eorum, ita tamen ut non inveniat homo opus, quod operatus eft Deus à principio ad finem.
That is, he hath made every thing beautiful in their Seasons, also he hath set the World in their Meditations ; yet cannot Man find the Work that God hath wrought from the Beginning even to the End: For the principal Law of Nature, or Power of this Desire, created (by God,) in these parcels of things, for concurring and meeting together, (from whose Repetitions and Multiplications all Variety of Creatures proceeded and were composed) may dazzle the Eyes of Men's Understandings, and comprehended it can hardly be. The Greek Philosophers are observed to be very acute and diligent in searching out the material Principles of things; but in the beginnings of Motion (wherein consists all the efficacy of Operation,) they are negligent and weak, and in this that we handle they seem to be altogether blind and stammering; for the Opinion of the Peripateticks concerning the appetite of Matter caused by Privation, is in a manner nothing else but Words, which rather sound than fignify any Reality. And those that refer it unto God, do very well; but then they leap up, they ascend not by degrees; for doubtless there is one chief Law subordinate to God, in which all natural things concur and meet, the same that in the forecited Scripture is demonstrated in these Words, Opus quod operatus eft Deus à principio usque ad finem; the Work that God hath wrought from the Beginning even to the End. But Democritus, which entered more deeply into the Consideration of this point, after he had conceived an Atom with some small Dimension and Form, he attributed unto it one only Desire or first Motion simply, or absolutely, and another comparatively or in respect ; for he thought that all things did properly tend to the Centre of the World, whereof those Bodies which were more material,