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The Temple of Nature

By Erasmus Darwin




I. Subject proposed. Life, Love, and Sympathy 1. Four past Ages, a fifth beginning 9. Invocation to Love 15. II. Bowers of Eden, Adam and Eve 33. Temple of Nature 65. Time chained by Sculpture 75. Proteus bound by Menelaus 83. Bowers of Pleasure 89. School of Venus 97. Court of Pain 105. Den of Oblivion 113. Muse of Melancholy 121. Cave of Trophonius 125. Shrine of Nature 129. Eleusinian Mysteries 137. III. Morning 155. Procession of Virgins 159. Address to the Priestess 167. Descent of Orpheus into Hell 185. IV. Urania 205. GOD the First Cause 223. Life began beneath the Sea 233. Repulsion, Attraction, Contraction, Life 235. Spontaneous Production of Minute Animals 247. Irritation, Appetency 251. Life enlarges the Earth 265. Sensation, Volition, Association 269. Scene in the Microscope; Mucor, Monas, Vibrio, Vorticella, Proteus, Mite 281. V. Vegetables and Animals improve by Reproduction 295. Have all arisen from Microscopic Animalcules 303. Rocks of Shell and Coral 315. Islands and Continents raised by Earthquakes 321. Emigration of Animals from the Sea 327. Trapa 335. Tadpole, Musquito 343. Diodon, Lizard, Beaver, Lamprey, Remora, Whale 351. Venus rising from the Sea, emblem of Organic Nature 371. All animals are first Aquatic 385. Fetus in the Womb 389. Animals from the Mud of the Nile 401. The Hierophant and Muse 421-450.



I. BY firm immutable immortal laws
Impress'd on Nature by the GREAT FIRST CAUSE,
Say, MUSE! how rose from elemental strife
Organic forms, and kindled into life;
How Love and Sympathy with potent charm
Warm the cold heart, the lifted hand disarm;
Allure with pleasures, and alarm with pains,
And bind Society in golden chains.

Four past eventful Ages then recite,
And give the fifth, new-born of Time, to light;                10
The silken tissue of their joys disclose,
Swell with deep chords the murmur of their woes;
{4} Their laws, their labours, and their loves proclaim,
And chant their virtues to the trump of Fame.

IMMORTAL LOVE! who ere the morn of Time,
On wings outstretch'd, o'er Chaos hung sublime;
Warm'd into life the bursting egg of Night,
And gave young Nature to admiring Light! --
You! whose wide arms, in soft embraces hurl'd
Round the vast frame, connect the whirling world!              20
Whether immers'd in day, the Sun your throne,
You gird the planets in your silver zone;
Or warm, descending on ethereal wing,
The Earth's cold bosom with the beams of spring;
Press drop to drop, to atom atom bind,
Link sex to sex, or rivet mind to mind;
Attend my song! -- With rosy lips rehearse,
And with your polish'd arrows write my verse! --
So shall my lines soft-rolling eyes engage,
And snow-white fingers turn the volant page;                    30
{5} The smiles of Beauty all my toils repay,
And youths and virgins chant the living lay.

II. WHERE EDEN'S sacred bowers triumphant sprung,
By angels guarded, and by prophets sung,
Wav'd o'er the east in purple pride unfurl'd
And rock'd the golden cradle of the World;1
{6} Four sparkling currents lav'd with wandering tides
Their velvet avenues, and flowery sides;
On sun-bright lawns unclad the Graces stray'd,
And guiltless Cupids haunted every glade;                      40
Till the fair Bride, forbidden shades among,
Heard unalarm'd the Tempter's serpent-tongue;
Eyed the sweet fruit, the mandate disobey'd,
And her fond Lord with sweeter smiles betray'd.
Conscious awhile with throbbing heart he strove,
Spread his wide arms, and barter'd life for love! --
Now rocks on rocks, in savage grandeur roll'd,
Steep above steep, the blasted plains infold;
The incumbent crags eternal tempest shrouds,
And livid light'nings cleave the lambent clouds;                50
{7} Round the firm base loud-howling whirlwinds blow,
And sands in burning eddies dance below.

Hence ye profane! -- the warring winds exclude
Unhallow'd throngs, that press with footstep rude;
But court the Muse's train with milder skies,
And call with softer voice the good and wise.
-- Charm'd at her touch the opening wall divides,
And rocks of crystal form the polish'd sides;
Through the bright arch the Loves and Graces tread,
Innocuous thunders murmuring o'er their head;	         	60
Pair after pair, and tittering, as they pass,
View their fair features in the walls of glass;
Leave with impatient step the circling bourn,
And hear behind the closing rocks return.

HERE, high in air, unconscious of the storm
Thy temple, NATURE, rears it's mystic form;
From earth to heav'n, unwrought by mortal toil,
Towers the vast fabric on the desert soil;
{8} O'er many a league the ponderous domes extend,
And deep in earth the ribbed vaults descend;                  	70
A thousand jasper steps with circling sweep
Lead the slow votary up the winding steep;
Ten thousand piers, now join'd and now aloof,
Bear on their branching arms the fretted roof.

Unnumber'd ailes connect unnumber'd halls,
And sacred symbols crowd the pictur'd walls;2
With pencil rude forgotten days design,
And arts, or empires, live in every line.
{9} While chain'd reluctant on the marble ground,
Indignant TIME reclines, by Sculpture bound;          		80
And sternly bending o'er a scroll unroll'd,
Inscribes the future with his style of gold.
-- So erst, when PROTEUS3 on the briny shore,
New forms assum'd of eagle, pard, or boar;
The wise ATRIDES bound in sea-weed thongs
The changeful god amid his scaly throngs;
Till in deep tones his opening lips at last
Reluctant told the future and the past.

HERE o'er piazza'd courts, and long arcades,
The bowers of PLEASURE root their waving shades;      		90
Shed o'er the pansied moss a checker'd gloom,
Bend with new fruits, with flow'rs successive bloom.
{10} Pleas'd, their light limbs on beds of roses press'd,
In slight undress recumbent Beauties rest;
On tiptoe steps surrounding Graces move,
And gay Desires expand their wings above.

HERE young DIONE arms her quiver'd Loves,
Schools her bright Nymphs, and practises her doves;
Calls round her laughing eyes in playful turns,
The glance that lightens, and the smile that burns;           100
Her dimpling cheeks with transient blushes dies,
Heaves her white bosom with seductive sighs;
Or moulds with rosy lips the magic words,
That bind the heart in adamantine cords.

Behind in twilight gloom with scowling mien
The demon PAIN, convokes his court unseen;
Whips, fetters, flames, pourtray'd on sculptur'd stone,
In dread festoons, adorn his ebon throne;
Each side a cohort of diseases stands,
And shudd'ring Fever leads the ghastly bands;                 110
{11} O'er all Despair expands his raven wings,
And guilt-stain'd Conscience darts a thousand stings.

Deep-whelm'd beneath, in vast sepulchral caves,
OBLIVION dwells amid unlabell'd graves;
The storied tomb, the laurell'd bust o'erturns,
And shakes their ashes from the mould'ring urns. --
No vernal zephyr breathes, no sunbeams cheer,
Nor song, nor simper, ever enters here;
O'er the green floor, and round the dew-damp wall,
The slimy snail, and bloated lizard crawl;                    120
While on white heaps of intermingled bones
The muse of MELANCHOLY sits and moans;
Showers her cold tears o'er Beauty's early wreck,
Spreads her pale arms, and bends her marble neck.

So in rude rocks, beside the Ægean wave,
TROPHONIUS scoop'd4 his sorrow-sacred cave
{12} Unbarr'd to pilgrim feet the brazen door,
And the sad sage returning smil'd no more.

SHRIN'D in the midst majestic NATURE stands,
Extends o'er earth and sea her hundred hands;                 130
Tower upon tower her beamy forehead crests,
And births unnumber'd milk her hundred breasts;
Drawn round her brows a lucid veil depends,
O'er her fine waist the purfled woof descends;
Her stately limbs the gather'd folds surround,
And spread their golden selvage on the gound.

From this first altar fam'd ELEUSIS stole5
Her secret symbols and her mystic scroll;
{13} With pious fraud in after ages rear'd
Her gorgeous temple, and the gods rever'd.                    140
-- First in dim pomp before the astonish'd throng,
Silence, and Night, and Chaos, stalk'd along;
Dread scenes of Death, in nodding sables dress'd,
Froze the broad eye, and thrill'd the unbreathing breast.
Then the young Spring, with winged Zephyr, leads
The queen of Beauty to the blossom'd meads;
{14} Charm'd in her train admiring Hymen moves,
And tiptoe Graces hand in hand with Loves.
Next, while on pausing step the masked mimes
Enact the triumphs of forgotten times,                        150
Conceal from vulgar throngs the mystic truth,
Or charm with Wisdom's lore the initiate youth;
Each shifting scene, some patriot hero trod,
Some sainted beauty, or some saviour god.

III. Now rose in purple pomp the breezy dawn,
And crimson dew-drops trembled on the lawn;
Blaz'd high in air the temple's golden vanes,
And dancing shadows veer'd upon the plains. --
Long trains of virgins form the sacred grove,
Pair after pair, in bright procession move,                   160
With flower-fill'd baskets round the altar throng,
Or swing their censers, as they wind along.
The fair URANIA leads the blushing bands,
Presents their offerings with unsullied hands;
{15} Pleas'd to their dazzled eyes in part unshrouds
The goddess-form; -- the rest is hid in clouds.

"PRIESTESS OF NATURE! while with pious awe
Thy votary bends, the mystic veil withdraw;
Charm after charm, succession bright, display,
And give the GODDESS to adoring day!                 	      170
So kneeling realms shall own the Power divine,
And heaven and earth pour incense on her shrine.

"Oh grant the MUSE with pausing step to press
Each sun-bright avenue, and green recess;
Led by thy hand survey the trophied walls,
The statued galleries6, and the pictur'd halls;
{16} Scan the proud pyramid, and arch sublime,
Earth-canker'd urn, medallion green with time,
Stern busts of Gods, with helmed heroes mix'd,
And Beauty's radiant forms, that smile betwixt.               180

"Waked by thy voice, transmuted by thy wand,
Their lips shall open, and their arms expand;
The love-lost lady, and the warrior slain,
Leap from their tombs, and sigh or fight again.
-- So when ill-fated ORPHEUS tuned to woe
His potent lyre, and sought the realms below;
Charm'd into life unreal forms respir'd,
And list'ning shades the dulcet notes admir'd. --

"LOVE led the Sage7 through Death's tremendous porch,
Cheer'd with his smile, and lighted with his torch; --        190
{17} Hell's triple Dog his playful jaws expands,
Fawns round the GOD,8 and licks his baby hands;
In wondering groups the shadowy nations throng,
And sigh or simper, as he steps along;
Sad swains, and nymphs forlorn, on Lethe's brink,
Hug their past sorrows, and refuse to drink;
Night's dazzled Empress feels the golden flame
Play round her breast, and melt her frozen frame;
Charms with soft words, and sooths with amorous wiles,
Her iron-hearted Lord, -- and PLUTO smiles. --                200
His trembling Bride the Bard triumphant led
From the pale mansions of the astonish'd dead;
Gave the fair phantom to admiring light, --
Ah, soon again to tread irremeable night!"

IV. HER snow-white arm, indulgent to my song,
Waves the fair Hierophant, and moves along. -- 
{18} High plumes, that bending shade her amber hair,
Nod, as she steps, their silver leaves in air;
Bright chains of pearl, with golden buckles brac'd,
Clasp her white neck, and zone her slender waist;             210
Thin folds of silk in soft meanders wind
Down her fine form, and undulate behind;
The purple border, on the pavement roll'd,
Swells in the gale, and spreads its fringe of gold.

"FIRST, if you can, celestial Guide! disclose
From what fair fountain mortal life arose,
Whence the fine nerve to move and feel assign'd,
Contractile fibre, and ethereal mind:

"How Love and Sympathy the bosom warm,
Allure with pleasure, and with pain alarm,                    220
With soft affections weave the social plan,
And charm the listening Savage into Man."

{19} "GOD THE FIRST CAUSE!9 -- in this terrene abode
Young Nature lisps,10 she is the child of GOD.
From embryon births her changeful forms improve,
Grow, as they live, and strengthen as they move.

"Ere Time began, from flaming Chaos hurl'd
Rose the bright spheres, which form the circling world;
{20} Earths from each sun11 with quick explosions burst,
And second planets issued from the first.                     230
Then, whilst the sea at their coeval birth,
Surge over surge, involv'd the shoreless earth;
Nurs'd by warm sun-beams in primeval caves
Organic Life began beneath the waves.

"First HEAT from chemic12 dissolution springs,
And gives to matter its eccentric wings:
{21} With strong REPULSION parts the exploding mass,
Melts into lymph, or kindles into gas.
ATTRACTION next13, as earth or air subsides,
The ponderous atoms from the light divides,                   240
Approaching parts with quick embrace combines,
Swells into spheres, and lengthens into lines.
Last, as fine goads the gluten-threads excite,
Cords grapple cords, and webs with webs unite;
And quick CONTRACTION14 with ethereal flame
Lights into life the fibre-woven frame. --
{22} Hence without parent by spontaneous birth15
Rise the first specks of animated earth;
From Nature's womb the plant or insect swims,
And buds or breathes, with microscopic limbs.                 250

"IN earth, sea, air, around, below, above,
Life's subtle woof in Nature's loom is wove;
{23} Points glued to points a living line extends,
Touch'd by some goad approach the bending ends;
Rings join to rings, and irritated tubes
Clasp with young lips the nutrient globes or cubes;
And urged by appetencies new select,
Imbibe, retain, digest, secrete, eject.
In branching cones16 the living web expands,
Lymphatic ducts, and convoluted glands;                       260
Aortal tubes propel the nascent blood,
And lengthening veins absorb the refluent flood;17
Leaves, lungs, and gills, the vital ether breathe
On earth's green surface, or the waves beneath.
{24} So Life's first powers arrest the winds and floods,
To bones convert them, or to shells, or woods;
Stretch the vast beds of argil, lime, and sand,
And from diminish'd oceans18 form the land!

"Next the long nerves unite their silver train,
And young SENSATION19 permeates the brain;                    270 
Through each new sense the keen emotions dart,
Flush the young cheek, and swell the throbbing heart.
{25} From pain and pleasure quick VOLITIONS rise,
Lift the strong arm, or point the inquiring eyes;
With Reason's light bewilder'd Man direct,
And right and wrong with balance nice detect.
Last in thick swarms ASSOCIATIONS spring,
Thoughts join to thoughts, to motions motions cling;
Whence in long trains of catenation flow
Imagined joy, and voluntary woe.                              280

"So, view'd through crystal spheres in drops saline,
Quick-shooting salts in chemic forms combine;
Or Mucor-stems20, a vegetative tribe,
Spread their fine roots, the tremulous wave imbibe.
Next to our wondering eyes the focus brings
Self-moving lines, and animated rings;
{26} First Monas moves, an unconnected point,
Plays round the drop without a limb or joint;
The Vibrio waves, with capillary eels,
And Vorticella whirls her living wheels;                      290
While insect Proteus sports with changeful form
Through the bright tide, a globe, a cube, a worm.
Last o'er the field the Mite enormous swims,
Swells his red heart, and writhes his giant limbs.

V. "ORGANIC LIFE beneath the shoreless waves21
Was born and nurs'd in Ocean's pearly caves;
{27} First forms minute22, unseen by spheric glass,
Move on the mud, or pierce the watery mass;
These, as successive generations bloom
New powers acquire, and larger limbs assume;                  300
Whence countless groups of vegetation spring,
And breathing realms of fin, and feet, and wing.

"Thus the tall Oak, the giant of the wood,
Which bears Britannia's thunders on the flood;
The Whale, unmeasured monster of the main,
The lordly Lion, monarch of the plain,
The Eagle soaring in the realms of air,
Whose eye undazzled drinks the solar glare,
{28} Imperious man, who rules the bestial crowd,
Of language, reason, and reflection proud,                    310
With brow erect who scorns this earthly sod,
And styles himself the image of his God;
Arose from rudiments of form and sense,
An embryon point23, or microscopic ens!

"Now in vast shoals beneath the brineless tide,24
On earth's firm crust testaceous tribes reside;
Age after age expands the peopled plain,
The tenants perish, but their cells remain;
Whence coral walls25 and sparry hills ascend
From pole to pole, and round the line extend.                 320

{29} "Next when imprison'd fires in central caves
Burst the firm earth, and drank the headlong waves;26
And, as new airs with dread explosion swell,
Form'd lava-isles, and continents of shell;
Pil'd rocks on rocks, on mountains mountains raised,
And high in heaven the first volcanoes blazed;
In countless swarms an insect-myriad moves27
From sea-fan gardens, and from coral groves;
{30} Leaves the cold caverns of the deep, and creeps
On shelving shores, or climbs on rocky steeps.                330
As in dry air the sea-born stranger roves,
Each muscle quickens, and each sense improves;
Cold gills aquatic form respiring lungs,
And sounds aerial flow from slimy tongues.

"So Trapa rooted28 in pellucid tides,
In countless threads her breathing leaves divides,
{31} Waves her bright tresses in the watery mass,
And drinks with gelid gills the vital gas;
Then broader leaves in shadowy files advance,
Spread o'er the crystal flood their green expanse;            340
And, as in air the adherent dew exhales,
Courth the warm sun, and breathe ethereal gales.

"So still the Tadpole29 cleaves the watery vale
With balanc'd fins, and undulating tail;
{32} New lungs and limbs proclaim his second birth,
Breath the dry air, and bound upon the earth.
So from deep lakes the dread Musquito springs,30
Drinks the soft breeze, and dries his tender wings,
In twinkling squadrons cuts his airy way,
Dips his red trunk in blood, and man his prey.                350

"So still the Diodons,31 amphibious tribe,
With two-fold lungs the sea or air imbibe;
{33} Allied to fish, the lizard cleaves the flood
With one-cell'd heart, and dark frigescent blood;
Half-reasoning Beavers long-unbreathing dart
Through Erie's waves with perforated heart;
With gills and lungs respiring Lampreys steer,
Kiss the rude rocks, and suck till they adhere;
The lazy Remora's inhaling lips,
Hung on the keel, retard the struggling ships;                360
With gills pulmonic breathes the enormous Whale,
And spouts aquatic columns to the gale;
Sports on the shining wave at noontide hours,32
And shifting rainbows crest the rising showers.

"So erst, ere rose the science to record
In letter'd syllables the volant word;
{34} Whence chemic arts, disclosed in pictured lines,
Liv'd to mankind by hieroglyphic signs;
And clustering stars, pourtray'd on mimic spheres,
Assumed the forms of lions, bulls, and bears;                 370
-- So erst, as Egypt's rude designs33 explain,
Rose young DIONE34 from the shoreless main;
Type of organic Nature! source of bliss!
Emerging Beauty from the vast abyss!
Sublime on Chaos borne, the Goddess stood,
And smiled enchantment on the troubled flood;
{35} The warring elements to peace restored,
And young Reflection wondered and adored."

Now paused the Nymph, -- The Muse responsive cries,
Sweet admiration sparkling in her eyes,                       380
"Drawn by your pencil, by your hand unfurl'd,
Bright shines the tablet of the dawning world;
Amazed the Sea's prolific depths I view,
And VENUS rising from the waves in YOU!

"Still Nature's births enclosed in egg or seed
From the tall forest to the lowly weed,
Her beaux and beauties, butterflies and worms,
Rise from aquatic to aerial forms.
Thus in the womb the nascent infant laves
Its natant form in the circumfluent waves;                    390
With perforated heart unbreathing swims,
Awakes and stretches35 all its recent limbs;
{36} With gills placental36 seeks the arterial flood,
And drinks pure ether from its Mother's blood.
Erewhile the landed Stranger bursts his way,
From the warm wave emerging into day;
Feels the chill blast, and piercing light, and tries
His tender lungs, and rolls his dazzled eyes;37
Gives to the passing gale his curling hair,
And steps a dry inhabitant of air.                            400

"Creative Nile, as taught in ancient song,
So charm'd to life his animated throng;
O'er his wide realms the slow-subsiding flood
Left the rich treasures of organic mud;
{37} While with quick growth young Vegetation yields
Her blushing orchards, and her waving fields;
Pomona's hand replenish'd Plenty's horn,
And Ceres laugh'd amid her seas of corn. --
Bird, beast, and reptile, spring from sudden birth,
Raise their new forms, half-animal, half-earth;               410
The roaring lion shakes his tawny mane,
His struggling limbs still rooted in the plain;
With flapping wings assurgent eagles toil
To rend their talons from the adhesive soil;
The impatient serpent lifts his crested head,
And drags his train unfinish'd from the bed. --
As Warmth and Moisture38 blend their magic spells,
And brood with mingling wings the slimy dells;
{38} Contractile earths in sentient forms arrange,
And Life triumphant stays their chemic change."               420

Then hand in hand along the waving glades
The virgin Sisters pass beneath the shades;
Ascend the winding steps with pausing march,
And seek the Portico's susurrant arch;
Whose sculptur'd architrave on columns borne
Drinks the first blushes of the rising morn,
Whose fretted roof an ample shield displays,
And guards the Beauties from meridian rays.
While on light step enamour'd Zephyr springs,
And fans their glowing features with his wings,               430
Imbibes the fragrance of the vernal flowers,
And speeds with kisses sweet the dancing Hours.

{39} Urania, leaning with unstudied grace,
Rests her white elbow on a column's base;
Awhile relecting takes her silent stand,
Her fair cheek press'd upon her lily hand;
Then, as awaking from ideal trance,
On the smooth floor her pausing steps advance,
Waves high her arm, upturns her lucid eyes,
Marks the wide scenes of ocean, earth, and skies;             440
And leads, meandering as it rolls along
Through Nature's walks, the shining stream of Song.

First her sweet voice in plaintive accents chains
The Muse's ear with fascinating strains;
Reverts awhile to elemental strife,
The change of form, and brevity of life;
Then tells how potent Love with torch sublime
Relights the glimmering lamp, and conquers Time.
-- The polish'd walls reflect her rosy smiles,
And sweet-ton'd echoes talk along the ailes.                  450



{5} 1. Cradle of the world, l. 36. The nations, which possess Europe and a part of Asia and of Africa, appear to have descended from one family; and to have had their origin near the banks of the Mediterranean, as probably in Syria, the site of Paradise, according to the Mosaic history. This seems highly probable from the similarity of the structure of the languages of these nations, and from their early possession of similar religions, customs, and arts, as well as from the most ancient histories extant. The two former of these may be collected from Lord Monboddo's learned work on the Origin of Language, and from Mr. Bryant's curious account of Ancient Mythology.

The use of iron tools, of the bow and arrow, of earthen vessels to boil water in, of wheels for carriages, and the arts of cultivating wheat, of coagulating milk for cheese, and of spinning vegetable fibres for clothing, have been known in all European countries, as long as their histories have existed; besides the similarity of the texture of their languages, and of many words in them; thus the word sack is said to mean a bag in all of them, as sakkon in Greek, saccus in Latin, sacco in Italian, sac in French, and sack in English and German.

Other families of mankind, nevertheless, appear to have arisen in {6} other parts of the habitable earth, as the language of the Chinese is said not to resemble those of this part of the world in any respect. And the inhabitants of the islands of the South-Sea had neither the use of iron tools, nor of the bow, nor of wheels, nor of spinning, nor had learned to coagulate milk, or to boil water, though the domestication of fire seems to have been the first great discovery that distinguished mankind from the bestial inhabitants of the forest.

{8} 2. Pictur'd walls, l. 76. The application of mankind, in the early ages of society, to the imitative arts of painting, carving, statuary, and the casting of figures in metals, seems to have preceded the discovery of letters; and to have been used as a written language to convey intelligence to their distant friends, or to transmit to posterity the history of themselves, or of their discoveries. Hence the origin of the hieroglyphic figures which crowded the walls of the temples of antiquity; many of which may be seen in the tablet of Isis in the works of Montfaucon; and some of them are still used in the sciences of chemistry and astronomy, as the caracters for the metals and planets, and the figures of animals on the celestial globe.

{9} 3. So erst, when Proteus, l. 83. It seems probable that Proteus was the name of a hieroglyphic figure representing Time; whose form was perpetually changing, and who could discover the past events of the world, and predict the future. Herodotus does not doubt but that Proteus was an Egyptian king or deity; and Orpheus calls him the principle of all things, and the most ancient of the gods; and adds, that he keeps the keys of Nature, Danet's Dict. all which might well accord with a figure representing Time.

{11} 4. Trophonius scoop'd, l. 126. Plutarch mentions, that prophecies of evil events were uttered from the cave of Trophonius; but the allegorical story, that whoever entered this cavern were never again seen to {12} smile, seems to have been designed to warn the contemplative from considering too much the dark side of nature. Thus an ancient poet is said to have written a poem on the miseries of the world, and to have thence become so unhappy as to destroy himself. When we reflect on the perpetual destruction of organic life, we should also recollect, that it is perpetually renewed in other forms by the same materials, and thus the sum total of the happiness of the world continues undiminished; and that a philospher may thus smile again on turning his eyes from the coffins of nature to her cradles.

5. Fam'd Eleusis stole, l. 137. The Eleusinian mysteries were invented {13} in Egypt, and afterwards transferred into Greece along with most of the other early arts and religions of Europe. They seem to have consisted of scenical representations of the philosophy and religion of those times, which had previously been painted in hierogyphic figures to perpetuate them before the discovery of letters; and are well explained in Dr. Warburton's divine legation of Moses; who believes with great probability, that Virgil in the sixth book of the Æneid has described a part of these mysteries in his account of the Elysian fields.

In the first part of this scenery was represented Death, and the destruction of all things; as mentioned in the note on the Portland Vase in the Botanic Garden. Next the marriage of Cupid and Psyche seems to have shown the reproduction of living nature; and afterwards the procession of torches, which is said to have constituted a part of the mysteries, probably signifies the return of light, and the resuscitation of all things.

Lastly, the histories of illustrious persons of the early ages seem to have been enacted; who were first represented by hieroglyphic figures, and afterwards became the gods and goddesses of Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Might not such a dignified pantomime be contrived, even in this age, as might strike the spectators with awe, and at the same time explain many philosophical truths by adapted imagery, and thus both amuse and instruct?

{15} 6. The statued galleries, l. 176. The art of painting has appeared in the early state of all societies before the invention of the alphabet. Thus when the Spanish adventurers, under Cortez, invaded America, intelligence of their debarkation and movements was daily transmitted to Montezuma, by drawings, which corresponded with the Egyptian hieroglyphics. The antiquity of statuary appears from the Memnon and sphinxes of Egypt; that of casting figures in metals from the golden calf of Aaron; and that of carving in wood from the idols or household gods, which Rachel stole from her father {16} Laban, and hid beneath her garments as she sat upon the straw. Gen. c. xxxi. v. 34.

7. Love led the Sage, l. 189. This description is taken from the figures on the Barbarini, or Portland Vase, where Eros, or Divine Love, with his torch precedes the manes through the gates of Death, and reverting his smiling countenance invites him into the Elysian fields.

{17} 8. Fawns round the God, l. 192. This idea is copied from a painting of the descent of Orpheus, by a celebrated Parisian artist.

{19} 9. God the first cause, l. 223.

A Jove principium, musæ! Jovis omnia plena. VIRGIL.

In him we live, and move, and have our being. ST. PAUL.

10. Young Nature lisps, l. 224. The perpetual production and increase of the strata of limestone from the shells of aquatic animals; and of all those incumbent on them from the recrements of vegetables and of terrestrial animals, are now well understood from our improved knowledge of geology; and show, that the solid parts of the globe are gradually enlarging, and consequently that it is young; as the fluid parts are not yet all converted into solid ones. Add to this, that some parts of the earth and its inhabitants appear younger than others; thus the greater height of the mountains of America seems to show that continent to be less ancient than Europe, Asia, and Africa; as their summits have been less washed away, and the wild animals of America, as the tigers and crocodiles, are said to be less perfect in respect to their size and strength; which would show them to be still in a state of infancy, or of progressive improvement. Lastly, the progress of mankind in arts and sciences, which continues slowly to extend, and to increase, seems to evince the youth of human society; whilst the unchanging state of the societies of some insects, as of the bee, wasp, and ant, which is usually ascribed to instinct, seems to evince the longer existence, and greater maturity of those societies. The juvenility of the earth shows, that it has had a {20} beginning or birth, and is a strong natural argument evincing the existence of a cause of its production, that is of the Deity.

11. Earths from each sun, l. 229. See Botan. Garden, Vol. I. Cant. I. l. 107.

12. First Heat from chemic, l. 235. The matter of heat is an ethereal fluid, in which all things are immersed, and which constitutes the general power of repulsion; as appears in explosions which are produced by the sudden evolution of combined heat, and by the expansion of all bodies by the slower diffusion of it in its uncombined state. Without heat all the matter of the world would be condensed into a point by the power of attraction; and neither fluidity nor life could exist. There are also particular powers of repulsion, as those of magnetism and electricity, and of chemistry, such as oil and water; which last may be as numerous as the particular attractions which constitute chemical affinities; and may both of them exist as atmospheres round the individual particles of matter; see Botanic Garden, Bol. I. additional note VII. on elementary heat.

{21} 13. Attraction next, l. 239. The power of attraction may be divided into general attraction, which is called gravity; and into particular attraction, which is termed chemical affinity. As nothing can act where it does not exist, the power of gravity must be conceived as extending from the sun to the planets, occupying that immense space; and may therefore be considered as an ethereal fluid, though not cognizable by our senses like heat, light, and electricity.

Particular attraction, or chemical affinity, must likewise occupy the spaces between the particles of matter which they cause to approach each other. The power of gravity may therefore be called the general attractive ether, and the matter of heat may be called the general repulsive ether; which constitute the two great agents in the changes of inanimate matter.

14. And quick Contraction, l. 245. The power of contraction, which exists in organized bodies, and distinguishes life from inanimation, appears to consist of an ethereal fluid which resides in the brain and nerves of living bodies, and is expended in the act of shortening {22} their fibres. The attractive and repulsive ethers require only the vicinity of bodies for the exertion of their activity, but the contractive ether requires at first the contact of a goad or stimulus, which appears to draw it off from the contracting fibre, and to excite the sensorial power of irritation. These contractions of animal fibres are afterwards excited or repeated by the sensorial powers of sensation, volition, or association, as explained at large in Zoonomia, Vol. I.

There seems nothing more wonderful in the ether of contraction producing the shortening of a fibre, than in the ether of attraction causing two bodies to approach each other. The former indeed seems in some measure to resemble the latter, as it probably occasions the minute particles of the fibre to approach into absolute or adhesive contact, by withdrawing from them their repulsive atmospheres; whereas the latter seems only to cause particles of matter to approach into what is popularly called contact, like the particles of fluids; but which are only in the vicinity of each other, and still retain their repulsive atmospheres, as may be seen in riding through shallow water by the number of minute globules of it thrown up by the horses feet, which roll far on its surface; and by the difficulty with which small globules of mercury poured on the surface of a quantity of it can be made to unite with it.

15. Spontaneous birth, l. 247. See additional Note, No. I.

{23} 16. In branching cones, l. 259. The whole branch of an artery or vein may be considered as a cone, though each distinct division of it is a cylinder. It is probable that the amount of the areas of all the small branches from one trunk may equal that of the trunk, otherwise the velocity of the blood would be greater in some parts than in others, which probably only exists when a part is compressed or inflamed.

17. Absorb the refluent flood, l. 262. The force of the arterial impulse appears to cease, after having propelled the blood through the capillary vessels; whence the venous circulation is owing to the extremities of the veins absorbing the blood, as those of the lymphatics absorb the fluids. The great force of absorption is well elucidated by Dr. Hales's experiment on the rise of the sap-juice in a vine-stump; see Zoonomia, Vol. I. Sect. XXIII.

{24} 18. And from diminish'd oceans, l. 268. The increase of the solid parts of the globe by the recrements of organic bodies, as limestone rocks form shells and bones, and the beds of clay, marl, coals, from decomposed woods, is now well known to those who have attended to modern geology; and Dr. Halley, and others, have endeavoured to show, with great probability, that the ocean has decreased in quanitity during the short time which human history has existed. Whence it appears, that the exertions of vegetable and animal life convert the fluid parts of the globe into solid ones; which is probably effected by combining the matter of heat with the other elements, instead of suffering it to remain simply diffused amongst them, which is a curious conjecture, and deserves further investigation.

19. And young Sensation, l. 270. Both sensation and volition consist in an affection of the central part of the sensorium, or of the whole of it; and hence cannot exist till the nerves are united in the brain. The motions of a limb of any animal cut from the body, are therefore owing to irritation, not to sensation or to volition. For the definitions of irritation, sensation, volition, and association, see additional Note II.

{25} 20. Or Mucor-stems, l. 283. Mucor or mould in its early state is properly a microscopic vegetable, and is spontaneously produced on the scum of all decomposing organic matter. The Monas is a moving speck, the Vibrio an undulating wire, the Proteus perpetually changes its shape, and the Vorticella has wheels about its mouth, with which it makes an eddy, and is supposed thus to draw into its throat invisible animalcules. These names are from Linneus and Muller; see Appendix to Additional Note I.

21. Beneath the shoreless waves, l. 295. The earth was originally covered with water, as appears from some of its highest mountains, consisting of shells cemented together by a solution of part of them, as the limestone rocks of the Alps; Ferber's Travels. It must be therefore concluded, that animal life began beneath the sea.

Nor is this unanalogous to what still occurs, as all quadrupeds and mankind in their embryon state are aquatic animals; and thus may be said to resemble gnats and frogs. The fetus in the uterus has an organ called the placenta, the fine extremities of the vessels of which permeate the arteries of the uterus, and the blood of the fetus becomes thus oxygenated from the passing stream of the maternal arterial blood; exactly as is done by the gills of fish from the stream of water, which they occasion to pass through them.

But the chicken in the egg possesses a kind of aerial respiration, since the extremities of its placental vessels terminate on a membranous {27} bag, which contains air, at the broad end of the egg; and in this the chick in the egg differs from the fetus in the womb, as there is in the egg no circulating maternal blood for the insertion of the extremities of its repiratory vessels, and in this also I suspect that the eggs of birds differ from the spawn of fish; which latter is immersed in water, and which has probably the extremities of its respiratory organ inserted into the soft membrane which covers it, and is in contact with the water.

22. First forms minute, l. 297. See Additional Note I. on Spontaneous Vitality.

{28} 23. An embryon point, l. 314. The arguments showing that all vegetables and animals arose from such a small beginning, as a living point or living fibre, are detailed in Zoonomia, Sect. XXXIX. 4. 8. on Generation.

24. Brineless tide, l. 315. As the salt of the sea has been gradually accumulating, being washed down into it from the recrements of animal and vegetable bodies, the sea must originally have been as fresh as river water; and as it is not saturated with salt, must become annually saline. The sea-water about our island contains at this time from about one twenty-eighth to one thirtieth part of sea salt, and about one eightieth of magnesian salt; Brownrigg on Salt.

25. Whence coral walls, l. 319. An account of the structure of the {29} earth is given in Botanic Garden, Vol. I. Additional Notes, XVI. XVIII. XIX. XX. XXIII. XXIV.

26. Drank the headlong waves, l. 322. See Additional Note III.

27. An insect-myriad moves, l. 327. After islands or continents were raised above the primeval ocean, great numbers of the most simple animals would attempt to seek food at the edges or shores of the new land, and might thence gradually become amphibious; as is now seen in the frog, who changes from an aquatic animal to an amphibious one; and in the gnat, which changes from a natant to a volant state.

At the same time new microscopic animalcules would immediately commence wherever there was warmth and moisture, and some organic matter, that might induce putridity. Those situated on dry land, and immersed in dry air, may gradually acquire new powers to preserve their existence; and by innumerable successive reproductions for some thousands, or perhaps millions of ages, may at length have produced many of the vegetables and animal inhabitants which now people the earth.

As innumerable shell-fish must have existed a long time beneath the ocean, before the calcareous mountains were produced and elevated; it is also probable, that many of the insect tribes, or less {30} complicated animals, existed long before the quadrupeds or more complicate ones, which in some measure accords with the theory of Linneus in respect to the vegetable world; who thinks, that all the plants now extant arose from the conjuction and reproduction of about sixty different vegetables, from which he constitutes his natural orders.

As the blood of animals in the air becomes more oxygenated in their lungs, than that of animals in water by their gills; it becomes of a more scarlet colour, and from its greater stimulus the sensorium seems to produce quicker motions and finer sensations; and as water is a much better vehicle for vibrations or sounds than air, the fish, even when dying in pain, are mute in the atmosphere, though it is probable that in the water they may utter sounds to be heard at a considerable distance. See on this subject, Botanic Garden, Vol. I. Canto IV. l. 176, Note.

28. So Trapa rooted, l. 335. The lower leaves of this plant grow under water, and are divided into minute capillary ramifications; while the upper leaves are broad and round, and have air bladders in their footstalks to support them above the surface of the water. As the {31} aerial leaves of vegetables do the office of lungs, by exposing a large surface of vessels with their contained fluids to the influence of the air; so these aquatic leaves answer a similar purpose like the gills of fish, and perhaps gain from water a similar material. As the material thus necessary to life seems to be more easily acquired from air than from water, the subaquatic leaves of this plant and of sisymbrium, ocnanthe, ranunculus aquatilis, water crow-foot, and some other, are cut into fine divisions to increase the surface, whilst those above water are undivided; see Botanic Garden, Vol. II. Canto IV. l. 204, Note.

Few of the water plants of this country are used for economical purposes, but the ranunculus fluviatilis may be worth cultivation; as on the borders of the river Avon, near Ringwood, the cottagers cut this plant every morning in boats, almost all the year round, to fee their cows, which appear in good condition, and give a due quanitity of milk; see a paper from Dr. Pultney in the Transactions of the Linnean Society, Vol. V.

29. So still the Tadpole, l. 343. The transformation of the tadpole from an aquatic animal into an aerial one is abundantly curious. {32} When first it is hatched from the spawn by the warmth of the season, it resembles a fish; it afterwards puts forth legs, and resembles a lizard; and finally losing its tail, and acquiring lungs instead of gills, becomes an aerial quadruped.

The rana temporaria of Linneus lives in the water in spring, and on the land in summer, and catches flies. Of the rana paradoxa the larva or tadpole is as large as the frog, and dwells in Surinam, whence the mistake of Merian and of Seba, who call it a frog fish. The esculent frog is green, with three yellow lines from the mouth to the anus; the back transversely gibbous, the hinder feet palmated; its more frequent croaking in the evenings is said to foretell rain. Linnei Syst. Nat. Art. rana.

Linneus asserts in his introduction to the class Amphibia, that frogs are so nearly allied to lizards, lizards to serpents, and serpents to fish, that the boundaries of these orders can scarcely be ascertained.

30. The dread Musquito springs. l. 347. See Additional Note IV.

31. So still the Diodon, l. 351. See Additional Note V.

{33} 32. At noontide hours, l. 363. The rainbows in our latitude are only seen in the mornings or evenings, when the sun is not much more than forty-two degrees high. In the more northern latitudes, where the meridian sun is not more than forty-two degrees high, they are also visible at noon.

{34} 33. As Egypt's rude designs, l. 371. See Additional Note VI.

34. Rose young Dione, l. 371. The hieroglyphic figure of Venus rising from the sea supported on a shell by two tritons, as well as that of Hercules armed with a club, appear to be remains of the most remote antiquity. As the former is devoid of grace, and of the pictorial art of design, as one half of the group exactly resembles the other; and as that of Hercules is armed with a club, which was the first weapon.

The Venus seems to have represented the beauty of organic Nature rising from the sea, and afterwards became simply an emblem of ideal beauty; while the figure of Adonis was probably designed to represent the more abstracted idea of life or animation. Some of these hieroglyphic designs seem to evince the profound investigations in science of the Egyptian philosophers, and to have outlived all written language; and still constitute the symbols, by which painters and poets give form and animation to abstracted ideas, as to those of strength and beauty in the above instances.

{35} 35. Awakes and stretches, l. 392. During the first six months of gestation, the embryon probably sleeps, as it seems to have no use for {36} voluntary power; it then seems to awake, and to stretch its limbs, and change its posture in some degree, which is termed quickening.

36. With gills placental, l. 393. The placenta adheres to any side of the uterus in natural gestation, or of any other cavity in extrauterine gestation; the extremities of its arteries and veins probably permeate the arteries of the mother, and absorb from thence through their fine coats the oxygen of the mother's blood; hence when the placenta is withdrawn, the side of the uterus, where it adhered, bleeds; but not the extremities of its own vessels.

37. His dazzled eyes, l. 398. Though the membrana pupillaris described by modern anatomists guards the tender retina from too much light; the young infant nevertheless seems to feel the presence of it by its frequently moving its eyes, before it can distinguish common objects.

{37} 38. As warmth and moisture, l. 417.

In eodem corpore sæpe
Altera pars vivit; rudis est pars altera tellus.
Quippe ubi temperiem sumpsêre humorque calorque,
Concipiunt; & ab his oriuntur, cuncta duobus.
OVID. MET. 1. l. 430.
This story from Ovid of the production of animals from the mud of the Nile seems to be of Egyptian origin, and is probably a poetical {38} account of the opinions of the magi or priests of that country; showing that the simplest animations were spontaneously produced like chemical combinations, but were distinguished from the latter by their perpetual improvement by the power of reproduction, first by solitary, and then by sexual generation; whereas the products of natural chemistry are only enlarged by accretion, or purified by filtration.