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PAGI. VI. THE LAWS AND ETHICS OF WAR....
1. History of the Progress of the Law of Nations in Europe, from the peace of Westphalin to the Congress of Vienna; with an historical notice of that Lar before the Peace of Westphalia. By HENRY WHEATON, Minister of the United States of America at the Court of Berlin.
2. Histoire du Progrès du Droit des Gens en Europe depuis la Paix de Westphalie jusqu'au Congrès de Vienne; avec un précis historique du Droit des gens Européen avant la Paiz de Westphalie. Par HENRY WHEATON, Ministre des EtatsUnis d'Amérique près la Cour De Berlin.
3. Le Droit de la Guerre, et de la Paix. Par HUGUES GROTIUS.
4. Droits des Gens; ou Principes de la Loi Naturelle. Par EMER DE VATTEL.
5. De Jure Natura et Gentium. By SAMUEL, BARON VON
POFENDORF. VII. New THEORIES AND New DISCOVERIES IN NATURAL HISTORY....320
1. On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection; or, the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life. By CAARLES DARWIN, A. M, London.
2. Buffon, Histoire de ses Travaux et de ses Idées. Par P. FLOURENZ, Sec. Perp. de l'Académie des Sciences, Paris.
3. Contributions to the Natural History of the United States. By M. AGASSIZ.
4. Palæontology; or, a Systematic Summary of Extinct
Animals, &c. By Prof. R. OWEN. VIII. POLAND, CAUSES AND CONSEQUENCES OF AER FALL...........831
1. Fletcher's History of Poland.
2. Ferrand's Histoire des trois Demembrements de la Pologne,
3. Rulhière's Histoire de l'Anarchie de Pologne et Demembrement de cette Republique. Par CLAUDE C. DE RULHIERE. 1807.
4. Connor's History of Poland.
6. Chodsko's History of the Polish Legions in Italy. IX. QUAOKERY OF INSURANOR COMPANIES
1. American Life Insurance.
3. Annals, Anecdotes, and Legends; A Chronicle of Life Insurance. By JOHN FRANOIS, author of "The History of the
Bank of England,” &c.
Education and Science..............
NATIONAL QUARTERLY REVIEW.
SEPTEMBER, 186 2.
Art. I.-1. T. Lucretii Cari De Rerum Natura, libri sex, ex editione
Gilberti Wakefieldi, cum notis et interpretatione in Usum Delphini, Variis Lectionibus notis Variorum, Recensu editionum
et Codicum. 2. The Nature of Things : A Didactic Poem. Translated from
the Latin of Titus Lucretius Carus, accompanied by the Original Text and Illustrated with Notes Philological and Explan
atory. By John Mason Good. 2 vols. quarto. London. 3. Lucretius on the Nature of Things. A Philosophical Poem, in
six books, literally translated into English Prose. By the Rev. John SELBY Watson, M. A., Head Master of the Proprietary Grammar School, Stockwell. London.
THE Persians have an adage which means that true genius needs no monument. And well has it been illustrated by their great men, the most renowned of whom are only known by their works. It is the same throughout the world. Still less is known of the life of Homer than of that of Ferdusi. It is a matter of mere conjecture who wrote the Maha Bharatâ, the greatest of the Hindoo epics. In short, if we turn to the most profound thinkers, whether of ancient or modern times, we shall find that just in proportion as they surpassed all their contemporaries were they careless of their own fame. To this rule neither Shakspeare nor Dante forms an exception. This will serve to explain why it is that so little is known of the life of Lucretius, the author of De Rerum
VOL. V.—NO. X.
Natura. Except from the tenor of his writings, we have nothing to indicate even the country in which he was born; although there is little doubt, from his name, his mode of thought, and the language in which he wrote, that he was a Roman. As little is known of the time, as of the place, of his birth. None can tell either the year of his birth, or that of his death. Eusebius is indeed of opinion that he was born ninety-five years before Christ, or in the second year of the hundred and twenty-first Olympiad ; but this is a mere conjecture. All that is certain is, that Cæsar, Cicero, Atticus and Virgil were his contemporaries. Ennius had been dead more than half a century before he was born; Cicero was ten or twelve years old ; the author of De Bello Gallico was born three or four years later ; and the author of the Æneid some twenty-three years later, &c.
It is now pretty generally agreed that he was sent to Athens to study with other young Romans of rank; although it can hardly be said that there is any good authority for the fact. Lambinus, the most learned of his biographers, merely supposes that he was educated at Athens ; but he does so, much more on account of his superior culture—that culture being essentially Greek—than for any other reason. But this is sufficient for less industrious and less conscientious investigators, who, not content with giving him an Athenian education, and making Zeno his teacher, inform us that Quintus, the father of Cicero, Pomponius Atticus and Cassius were his fellow students. But it is of little importance whether this, or any part of it, is true or not; it is sufficient for us to know that the poem of Lucretius on the Nature of Things is one of the noblest productions of all antiquityone declared by the best critics to be surpassed in sublimity only by the Iliad and the Æneid; and not surpassed even by these immortal works in boldness of conception and sweetness and energy of diction.
The modesty of genius, or the consciousness of superior intellect, is not the only reason why so little is known of Lucretius. The opposition to all religion, which is the leading idea of his poem, gained him many enemies, even among his Pagan fellow countrymen. No considerable number of either the Greeks or the Romans had any doubt of the immortality of the soul. Plato was called the Divine, as much for his unanswerable arguments in proof of the immortality of the soul as for his towering genius and universal learning. And be it remembered, that Lucretius is not content to deny that the soul is immortal ; he also denies the existence of a Supreme Being, as we shall see in the progress of our article. The ancient Romans were, indeed, not a bigoted people. All their historians tell us that they were essentially religious ; although it does not appear that they ever put any one to death for infidelity, as the Greeks did, and as the Christians have done. They did not persecute those who had not faith in the national religion, but to a considerable extent they avoided their company. If a satire on religion was not suppressed, as in modern times, even the most liberal were loath to recommend it. Among the latter may be ranked Cicero; no author of his time was more liberal than he; but, in one of his finest dialogues, he makes Lælius say that “ he does not agree with those who have lately begun to assert that souls perish together with their bodies and that death makes an end of all.” “I rather submit myself,” continues Cicero, in the same passage, “ to the authority of the ancients, or of our own forefathers, who appointed religious rites for the dead; rites which they could not have instituted had they thought that the dead could not be affected by them; * * * or to the authority of him who was pronounced by the oracle of Apollo the wisest of men;* and who did not on this, as on most subjects, assert sometimes one thing and sometimes another, but maintained invariably the same opinion, that the souls of men are divine, and that when they are released from the body a return from heaven is open to them, and first of all to the best and most worthy." + There is as little doubt that, when Cæsar gave expression to the opposite sentiment in the senate-house, he was influenced by Lucretius—we mean when he said, according to Sallust, that death is but a rest from toils, not a torture in grief and misery; that it dissolves all the evils of mortals, and that there is no place beyond it either for care or joy.* The speech from which this is taken, and which is attributed by the historian to Cæsar, is one of the noblest ever spoken or written. It is not in any wantonness that the author of De Bello Gallico gave expression to this opinion. He did not do so to attract attention, or show that he was more learned, or more insensible to the claims of public opinion than other orators ; but to repress a blood-thirsty feeling—because there were many who thought that all who were even suspected of favoring the designs of Catiline should be put to death. The object of Cæsar's remarks was, to show that confinement, banishment and flogging, were punishments really more severe than death ; although it cannot be doubted that he was sincere in the opinion that the cessation of life was the cessation of all pain.
Neque enim assentior iis, qui haec nuper disserere coeperunt, cum corporibus simul animos interire, atque omnia morte deleri. Plus apud me antiquorum auctoritas valet, vel nostrorum majorum, qui mortuis tam religiosa jura tribuerunt; quod non fecissent profecto, si nihil ad eos pertinere arbitrarentur: vel eorum, qui in hac terra fuerant, Magnamque Graeciam, quae nunc quidem deleta est, tunc florebat, institutis et praeceptis suis erudierunt: vel ejus, qui Appollinis oraculo sapientissimus est judicatus; qui non tum hoc tum illud, ut in plerisque, sed idem semper, ani208 hominum esse divinos, ji e, cum
'e exces. sissent, reditum in coelum patere, optimoque et justissimo cuique expeditissi. mum."- De Amicitia, cap. iv.
The author of the Nature of Things is alluded to in similar language by several of his contemporaries, while others, again, ignore him altogether. Horace, for example, makes no mention of him, nor does Virgil, although both borrow freely from him. When it is thus seen that even Pagan writers were unwilling to give any countenance to his atheistical views, it will not seem strange that he has received but little favor from Christians. But should so glorious a genius be set aside on this account? Should fourth-rate Latin authors be read and studied, while one of the best is scarcely heard of? It is no sufficient excuse for neglecting Lucretius, that all the atheistical writers who have written since his time have derived their strongest arguments from him. This is true of Spinosa, Volney, Des Cartes, and the author of the System of Nature. But the fact only proves his popularity and originality. That he has inspired so many of the boldest and most vigorous thinkers of modern times, may well be regarded as satisfactory evidence that he is eminently original and suggestive. This being conceded, is he to be left unread, merely because his opinions in regard to the soul, its origin and destiny, are different from our own? Should we not rather remember that, were we to proscribe him on this ground, in order to be consistent, we should also proscribe Homer, Æschylus, and Thucydides, in short, all the great
**De poenà, possum equidem dicere id quod res habet; in luctu, atque miseriis mortem aernumnarum requiem, non cruciatum, esse ; eam cuncta mortalium mala dissolvere ; ultra neque curae, neque gaudio locum esse."-SALLUSTII Bellum Catili. narium, 42.