HEAR me, O Death, whose empire unconfin'd,
Extends to mortal tribes of ev'ry kind.
On thee, the portion of our time depends,
Whose absence lengthens life, whose presence ends.
Thy sleep perpetual bursts the vivid folds, 5
By which the soul, attracting body holds: 6
Common to all of ev'ry sex and age,
For nought escapes thy all-destructive rage;
Not youth itself thy clemency can gain,
Vig'rous and strong, by thee untimely slain. 10
In thee, the end of nature's works is known,
In thee, all judgment is absolv'd alone:
No suppliant arts thy dreadful rage controul,
No vows revoke the purpose of thy soul;
O blessed pow'r regard my ardent pray'r, 15
And human life to age abundant spare.
225:6 Ver. 6.] By which the soul, &c. This is best explained by Porphyry in his excellent work entitled Ἀφορμαὶ πεὸσ τὰ Νοητά 8. as follows: "Whatever nature binds, nature again dissolves; and that which the soul conciliates into union, the soul disperses and dissolves. Nature, indeed, bound the body to the soul; but the soul ties herself to the body. Hence, nature frees the body from the soul, but the soul by the exercise of philosophy, separates herself from the deadly bands of the body." And again, in the next sentence, "Death is of two kinds, the one equally known to all men, when the body is separated from the soul; but the other peculiar to philosophers, when the soul is separated from the body: nor does the one always attend the other." Now this two-fold death we must understand in the following manner: that though some particular body may be loosened from the soul, yet while material passions and affections reside in the soul, the soul will continually verge to another body, and as long as this inclination continues, remain connected with the body. But when from the dominion of an intellectual nature, the soul is separated from material affections, it is truly liberated from the body; though the body at the same time verges and clings to the soul, as to the immediate cause of its support. And thus much for a Commentary on the Hymns or Initiations of Orpheus. But before I conclude the present work, I beg leave to address a few words to the liberal and philosophical part of my readers. You then, as the votaries of truth, will, I doubt not, unite with me in most earnest wishes, that every valuable work on the Platonic philosophy was well translated into our native tongue; that we might no longer be subject to the toil of learning the ancient languages. The mischief, indeed, resulting from the study of words is almost too apparent to need any illustration; as the understanding is generally contra p. 226 its vigour exhausted; and the genius fettered to verbal criticism, and grammatical trifles. Hence an opinion is gradually formed, that the Greek philosophy can alone be understood in the Greek tongue: and thus the books containing the wisdom of antiquity, are for the most part deposited, in the hands of men, incapable of comprehending their contents. While an opinion so sordid prevails, amidst all our refinements in arts, and increasing mass of experiments, we must remain with respect to philosophy in a state of barbarous ignorance. We may flourish, indeed, as a commercial people; and stretch the rod of empire over nations as yet unknown. The waters of Thames, heavy laden with the wealth of merchandize, and sonorous with the din of trade, may devolve abundance in a golden tide; but we must remember that the Dæmon of commerce is at the same time advancing with giant strides, to trample on the most liberal pursuits, and is preparing with his extended savage arm, to crush the votaries of truth, and depopulate the divine retreats of philosophy. Rise then ye liberal few, and vindicate the dignity of ancient wisdom. Bring truth from her silent and sacred concealments, and vigorously repel the growing empire of barbaric taste; which bids fair to extinguish the celestial fire of philosophy in the rigid embraces of philology, and to bury the divine light of mind, in the sordid gloom of sense. But if your labours should prove abortive; if the period is yet at a distance, when truth shall once more establish her kingdom; when another dream like that of Ilissus, shall become tuneful with the music of philosophy; and other cities like those of Athens and Alexandria, be filled with the sacred haunts of philosophers: there yet remains an inheritance for the lovers of wisdom in the regions of intellect, those fortunate islands of truth, where all is tranquil and serene, beyond the of power of chance, and the reach of change. Let us then fly from hence my friends, to those delightful realms: for p. 227 there, while connected with body, we may find a retreat from the storms and tempests of a corporeal life. Let us build for ourselves the raft of virtue, and departing from this region of sense, like Ulysses from the charms of Calypso, direct our course by the light of ideas, those bright intellectual stars, through the dark ocean of a material nature, until we arrive at our father's land. For there having divested ourselves of the torn garments of mortality, as much as our union with body will permit, we may resume our natural appearance; and may each of us at length, recover the ruined empire of his soul.