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L'ENVOY OF THE POET. Hold, hold, vain man, nor let thy simple brain,
In fruitless labour human life bestow; 'Mid endless space to journey is but vain,
Thy finite brain suits better things below.
THE POET'S CHORUS TO FOOLS.
at the root of Astronomy, the research into which has never yet enabled us to comprehend the properties of that great luminary of heaven, although some learned fools have af. firmed, that it consists of fire, and others have stated it to be the effect of attraction and reflection, while Anaxagoras, the Clazomenian philosopher, gravely asserts, that
- The Sun was but a piece
Th’ opinion, suffer'd banishment. Diogen. Laert. speaking of the opinions of Anaxagoras, thus expresses himself:
Anaxgoras affirmabat Solem candens ferrum esse, et Pe. loponesso majorem: Lunam habitacula in se habere, et col. les, et valles. Fertur dixisse eælum omne ex lapidibus esse compositum; damnatus et in exilium pulsus est, quod impiè solem candentem laminam esse dixisset. In Aristotle de cælo, we find, that some Astronomers were of opinion, that the heavens were held up like a top, being kept in constant circulation. Plato believed, that the Sun and Moon were below all other planets; and the Egyptians have informed us, that the Sun has twice shifted its rising and setting; still, all is as it was, the Sun riseth, the Sun setteth, it giveth light, and is the nourisher of vegetation; and be it what it may, it still is, and will ever be, what I denominate, the Sun. This I call stating facts which bid defiance even to scepticism.
· OF FOOLISH ALCHEMISTS.
Ars est sine arte, cujus principium est mentiri, medium laborare et finis mendicare. ,
Lo here's the fool whose cogitation,
* The professor of Alchemy very shrewdly pretends, first to make gold, second to discover an universal medicine or spanacea, and third, an universal dissolvent, or alkahest; the success which has attended these endeavours I leave to the discovery of others, as my province alone, consists in proving him by his labours, in every respect, entitled to the rank of fool; which is accomplished with little difficulty, when it is remembered, that if the alchemist produces gold, it is at a greater expense than the ore is intrinsically worth, while his panacea and dissolvent are yet in embryo, notwithstanding all the study, labour and expense bestowed upon the research.
O’er crucible he hangs delighted,
Thus freely having wealth expended,
* Many fools have been led astray by the fascinating hope of making gold, and, among the rest, Mrs. Thomas, the authoress, and intimate friend of Pope, better known by the appellation of Corinna, is not to be forgotten; who was, for a long time, persuaded to place dependence on an Alchemist, who asserted his skill to be such, as to have attained to the summit of this extraordinary science; yet, let it not be supposed, that the lady was made the depository of all these wonders gratis; on the contrary, she paid dearly for peeping, having in return for the advance of her palpable coin, nothing but the mere shadow expectancy, which terminated as it began, in nothing; to this lady, as well as to all fools who yield to this madness, we may use the old Italian proverb: Non fidatevi al alchemista povero, ô al medico ammalato.
Thus coining for himself new troubles,
* Although I may not be exactly correct, in jumbling Astrology with Alchemy, yet their relationship on the score of probability and possibility is such, that I cannot refrain from speaking under this section, of the renowned black art, concerning which, Voltaire, in his satirical poem of the Pucelle D'Orleans, gives these lines,
De plus grand clerc en sorcellerie,
Jours malheureux! tout a degeneré. A very remarkable instance of this study is recorded in the person of Cornelius Agrippa, whose dog, on account of some antics which he had taught the animal to play, was supposed to be his familiar spirit; but the author of Magia Adamica, took infinite pains to vindicate both the master and the dog from this vile aspersion, and Cornelius himself, on account of the vulgar prejudices which prevailed against him, was subjected to the most rigorous persecutions, insomuch, that he in the end found out his folly, and wrote a treatise on the Vanity of all Human Science. But this po