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declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handiwork." 1
Pan is delighted with the company of the Nymphs, that is, the souls of all living creatures are the delight of the world; and he is properly called their governor, because each of them follows its own nature, as a leader, and all dance about their own respective rings, with infinite variety and neverceasing motion. And with these continually join the Satyrs and Sileni, that is, youth and age; for all things have a kind of young, cheerful, and dancing time; and again their time of slowness, tottering, and creeping. And whoever, in a true light, considers the motions and endeavors of both these ages, like another Democritus, will perhaps find them as odd and strange as the gesticulations and antic motions of the Satyrs and Sileni.
The power he had of striking terrors contains a very sensible doctrine; for nature has implanted fear in all living creatures, as well to keep them from risking their lives, as to guard against injuries and violence; and yet this nature or passion keeps not its bounds, but with just and profitable fears always mixes such as are vain and senseless; so that all things, if we could see their insides, would appear full of panic terrors. Thus mankind, particularly the vulgar, labor under a high degree of superstition, which is nothing more than a panicdread, that principally reigns in unsettled and troublesome times.
The presumption of Pan in challenging Cupid to the conflict, denotes that matter has an appetite and tendency to a dissolution of the world, and falling back to its first chaos again, unless this deprav
1 Psalm xix. 1.
ity and inclination were restrained and subdued by a more powerful concord and agreement of things, properly expressed by Love, or Cupid; it is therefore well for mankind, and the state of all things, that Pan was thrown and conquered in the struggle.
His catching and detaining Typhon in the net receives a similar explanation; for whatever vast and unusual swells, which the word typhon signifies, may sometimes be raised in nature, as in the sea, the clouds, the earth, or the like, yet nature catches, entangles, and holds all such outrages and insurrections in her inextricable net, wove, as it were, of adamant:
That part of the fable which attributes the discovery of lost Ceres to Pan whilst he was hunting a happiness denied the other gods, though they diligently and expressly sought her - contains an exceeding just and prudent admonition; viz: that we are not to expect the discovery of things useful in common life, as that of corn, denoted by Ceres, from abstract philosophies, as if these were the gods of the first order, no, not though we used our utmost endeavors this way, but only from Pan; that is, a sagacious experience and general knowledge of nature, which is often found, even by accident, to stumble upon such discoveries whilst the pursuit was directed another way.
The event of his contending with Apollo in music affords us a useful instruction, that may help to humble the human reason and judgment, which is too apt to boast and glory in itself. There seem to be two kinds of harmony, - the one of Divine providence, the other of human reason; but the government of the world, the administration of its affairs, and the more secret Divine judgments, sound harsh
and dissonant to human ears or human judgment; and though this ignorance be justly rewarded with asses' ears, yet they are put on and worn, not openly, but with great secrecy; nor is the deformity of the thing seen or observed by the vulgar.
We must not find it strange if no amours are related of Pan besides his marriage with Echo; for nature enjoys itself, and in itself all other things. He that loves desires enjoyment, but in profusion there is no room for desire; and therefore Pan, remaining content with himself, has no passion unless it be for discourse, which is well shadowed out by Echo, or talk, or, when it is more accurate, by Syrinx, or writing.1 But Echo makes a most excellent wife for Pan, as being no other than genuine philosophy, which faithfully repeats his words, or only transcribes exactly as nature dictates; thus representing the true image and reflection of the world without adding a tittle.
It tends, also, to the support and perfection of Pan, or nature, to be without offspring; for the world generates in its parts, and not in the way of a whole, as wanting a body external to itself wherewith to generate.
Lastly, for the supposed or spurious prattling daughter of Pan, it is an excellent addition to the fable, and aptly represents the talkative philosophies that have at all times been stirring, and filled the world with idle tales; being ever barren, empty, and servile, though sometimes indeed diverting and entertaining, and sometimes again troublesome and importunate.
1 Syrinx, signifying a reed, or the ancient pen.
VII. PERSEUS,' OR WAR.
EXPLAINED OF THE PREPARATION AND CONDUCT
"THE fable relates, that Perseus was dispatched from the east, by Pallas, to cut off Medusa's head, who had committed great ravage upon the people of the west; for this Medusa was so dire a monster, as to turn into stone all those who but looked upon her. She was a Gorgon, and the only mortal one of the three, the other two being invulnerable. Perseus, therefore, preparing himself for this grand enterprise, had presents made him from three of the gods: Mercury gave him wings for his heels; Pluto, a helmet; and Pallas, a shield and a mirror. But, though he was now so well equipped, he posted not directly to Medusa, but first turned aside to the Greæ, who were half-sisters to the Gorgons. These Grea were grayheaded, and like old women, from their birth, having among them all three but one eye, and one tooth, which, as they had occasion to go out, they each wore by turns, and laid them down again upon coming back. This eye and this tooth they lent to Perseus, who now judging himself sufficiently furnished, he, without further stop, flies swiftly away to Medusa, and finds her asleep. But not venturing his eyes, for fear she should wake, he turned his head aside, and viewed her in Pallas's mirror, and thus directing his stroke, cut off her head; when immediately, from the gushing blood, there darted Pegasus winged. Perseus now inserted Medusa's head into Pallas's shield, which thence retained the faculty of astonishing and benumbing all who looked on it."
1 Ovid, Metam. b. iv.
This fable seems invented to show the prudent method of choosing, undertaking, and conducting a war; and, accordingly, lays down three useful precepts about it, as if they were the precepts of Pallas.
The first is, that no prince should be oversolicitous to subdue a neighboring nation; for the method of enlarging an empire is very different from that of increasing an estate. Regard is justly had to contiguity, or adjacency, in private lands and possessions; but in the extending of empire, the occasion, the facility, and advantage of a war, are to be regarded instead of vicinity. It is certain that the Romans, at the time they stretched but little beyond Liguria to the west, had by their arms subdued the provinces as far as Mount Taurus to the east. And thus Perseus readily undertook a very long expedition, even from the east to the extremities of the west.
The second precept is, that the cause of the war be just and honorable; for this adds alacrity both to the soldiers, and the people who find the supplies; procures aids, alliances, and numerous other conveniences. Now there is no cause of war more just and laudable than the suppressing of tyranny; by which a people are dispirited, benumbed, or left without life and vigor, as at the sight of Medusa.
Lastly, it is prudently added, that, as there were three of the Gorgons, who represent war, Perseus singled her out for this expedition that was mortal; which affords this precept, that such kind of wars should be chose as may be brought to a conclusion without pursuing vast and infinite hopes.
Again, Perseus's setting-out is extremely well adapted to his undertaking, and in a manner commands success; he received dispatch from Mercury,