Page images

tions, support by turns all substances out of each other, so that, as Hamlet says, from the idea of this rotation,

Imperial Cæsar, dead and turn'd to clay,

May stop a hole, to keep the winds away. The question, in short, is, whether, in this world which we inhabit, there be not an universal mutation of all things into all. If there be, then must there be some one primary matter, common to all things; I say, some one primary matter, and that common to all things, since, without some such matter, such mutation would be wholly impossible.

But if there be some one primary matter, and that common to all things; this matter must imply, not (as particular and subordinate matters do) a particular privation, and a particular capacity, but, on the contrary, universal privation, and universal capacity."

If the notion of such a being appear strange and incomprehensible, we may further prove the necessity of its existence from the following considerations.

Either there is no such general change, as here spoken of, which is contrary to fact, and would destroy the sympathy and congeniality of things; or if there be, there must be a matter of the character here established, because without it (as we have said) such change would be impossible.

'The Peripatetics, according to the er- goreans, both Plato and Aristotle borrowed roneous astronomy by them adopted, sup- much of their philosophy) elegantly calls posed the fixed stars, the planets, the sun, this imaginary sphere of the moon's orbit, and the moon, to move all of them round ισθμός αθανασίας και γενήσεως, “ the the earth, attached to different spheres, isthmus of immortality and generation ;" which moved and carried them round, the that is, the boundary which lies between earth itself being immoveable, and placed things immortal and things transitory. in the centre of the universe. This motion, Gale's Opusc, Mythog. p. 516. purely and simply local, was the only one The Stoics went further than this isththey allowed to these celestial bodies, mus. They did not confine these changes which in essence they held to be perfectly to a part only the universe; they supunchangeable. Things on the surface of posed them to pass through the whole ; this earth, (such as plants and animals,) and and to continue without ceasing, till all was things between that surface and the moon, at length lost in their entúpwois, or ge(such as clouds, meteors, winds, &c.) these neral conflagration ;” after which came a they supposed obnoxious to motions of a new world, and then a new conflagration, more various and complicated character; and so on periodically. Diog. Laert. vii. motions which changed them in their qua- 135, 141, 142. lities and quantities, and which even led 1 Το πρώτον υποκείμενον, δυνάμενον to their generation and dissolution, to life απάσας δέχεσθαι τάς μορφάς, εν στερήσει and to death. Hence the whole tribe of Mév éotiv anaowv: “The primary subject these mutable and perishable beings were or matter, having a capacity to admit all called sublunary, because the region of their forms, exists in a privation of them all.” existence was beneath the sphere of the Themist. in Aristot. Physic. p. 21.

It was here existed those elements Themistius well distinguishes between which, as Milton tells us,

two words, expressing the same being; I in quaternion run

mean, υποκείμενον and ύλη. The first he Perpetual circle, multiform, and mix makes the subject or substratum of someAnd nourish all things.

Par. Lost.

thing actually existing ; the other, that It was here that Aristotle held—Óti may matter which has a capacity of becoming ék tartós ziveodai néPUKE, “ that every many things, before it actually becomes any thing was naturally formed to arise out of one of them. every thing." Lib. de Ortu ct Int. p. 39. This is that one being, mentioned by edit. Sylb.

Diogenes, whose words we have quoted in Ocellus Lucanus (from whom, and from the preceding chapter, p. 263, note k. Archytas, Timæus, and the other Pytha


Add to this, however hard universal privation may appear, yet had the primary matter in its proper nature any one particular attribute, so as to prevent its privation from being unlimited and universal, such attribute would run through all things, and be conspicuous in all. If it were white, all things would be white; if circular, they would be circular; and so as to other attributes, which is contrary to fact.* Add to this, that the opposite to such attribute could never have existence, unless it were possible for the same thing to be at once and in the same instance both white and black, circular and rectilinear, &c. since this inseparable attribute would necessarily be everywhere, because the matter, which implies it, is itself everywhere; at least, may be found in all things that are generated and perishable.

Here, then, we have an idea (such as it is) of that singular being, üln mpôtn, the “primary matter;" a being which those philosophers, who are immerged in sensible objects, know not well how to admit, though they cannot well do without it;' a being, which flies the perception of every sense, and which is at best even to the intellect but a negative object, no otherwise comprehensible than either by analogy or abstraction.

* This argument is taken from Plato. way of metaphor, from signifying “ timber” Speaking of the primary matter, he says, or “wood," the common materials in many "Ομοιον γάρ ον των επεισιόντων τινι, τα της works of art. Hence it was that Ocellas, εναντίας, τά τε της παράπαν άλλης φύσεως, Τimaeus, and Plato employ various words, οπότ' έλθοι, δεχόμενον, κακώς αν αφομοιοί, and all of them after the same metaphorical Thy autoù hapeupalvwv flv : “Were it manner, when they would express the nalike any of those things that enter into it, ture of this mysterious being. Ocellas calls in such case, when it came to receive things it, πανδεχές και εκμαγείον της γενέσεως, of a nature contrary and totally different “ the universal recipient, and impression of from itself, it would exhibit them ill, by things generated," as wax receives impresshewing its own nature along with them sions from various seals. Timæus uses the at the same time.” Plat. Tim. p. 50. word óza in the Doric dialect, and explains

Thus Chalcidius, in commenting the pas- it (like Ocellus) by emuayelov, to which he sage here quoted : Si sit aliquid candidum, adds the appellations of parépa kal Tiddvar, ut yeumbólov, deinde oporteat hoc transferri “mother and nurse." Plato calls it, first, in alium colorem, vel diversum, ut raborem πάσης γενέσεως υποδοχήν, οίον τιθήνην, sive pallorem, vel contrarium, ut atrum ; "the receptacle of all generation, as its tunc candor non patietur introeuntes colores nurse;" then, παντός αισθητού μητέρα και synceros perseverare, sed permixtione sui 'wodoxtv, “the mother and receptacle of faciet interpolatos. Chalcid. in Tim. Com. every sensible object." Gale's Opusc

. My

tholog. p. 516. 544. Platon. Tim. p. 47. Hence we see the propriety of those de 51. edit. Serr. See Hermes, p. 205, note c. scriptions which make the primary matter Aristotle also observes, consistently with to be “void of body, of quality, of bulk, of one of the above expressions, i uěr yag hgure,” &c.: ασώματος, άποιος, αμεγέθης, υπομένουσα, συναιτία τη μορφή των γινομε άσχημάτιστος, άμορφος, κ. τ. λ.

νων εστίν, ώσπερ μήτηρ: « that the matter, So strange a being is it, and so little by remaining, is in concurrence with the comprehensible to common ideas, that the form, a cause of things generated, under Greeks had no name for it in their language, the character of a mother.” Phys. l.i. c. 9. until órn came to be adopted as the proper p. 22. edit. Sylb. word, which was at first only assumed by

P. 434.

We gain a glimpse of it by abstraction, when we say that the first matter is not the lineaments and complexion, which make the beautiful face; nor yet the flesh and blood, which make those lineaments, and that complexion; nor yet the liquid and solid aliments, which make that flesh and blood; nor yet the simple bodies of earth and water, which make those various aliments; but something which, being below all these, and supporting them all, is yet different from them all, and essential to their existence.?

We obtain a sight of it by analogy, when we say, that as is the brass to the statue, the marble to the pillar, the timber to the ship, or any one secondary matter to any one peculiar form; so is the first and original matter to all forms in general.*

* Abstraction appears to have been used κατηγορείται τούτων έκαστον, και το είναι by Plato: Διό την του γεγονότος δρατου έτερον, και των κατηγοριών εκάστη: “Υ και παντός αισθητού μητέρα και υποδοχήν mean, by matter, that which of itself is not μήτε γήν, μήτε αέρα, μήτε πυρ, μήτε ύδωρ denominated either this particular subλέγωμεν, μήτε όσα εκ τούτων, μήτε εξ ών stance, or that particular quantity, or any ταύτα γέγονεν αλλ' αόρατον είδός τι και other of those attributes, by which being is ăuoppov, ravdezés Metan außdvov &to characterized. It is indeed that, of which ρώτατά πη του νοητού, και δυσαλωτότατον each one of these is predicated, and which αυτό λέγοντες, ου ψευσόμεθα: “Let us has an essence different from every one therefore say, that the mother and recep- of the predicaments." Metaph. Z. p. 106. tacle of every visible, nay, of every sensible edit. Sylb. production, is neither earth, nor air, nor And here we may observe, that as abfire, nor water, nor any of the things which straction and analogy are the two methods arise out of these, nor out of which these by which this strange being (as it has been arise, but a certain invisible and formless called) was investigated by the ancient being, the universal recipient; concerning philosophers, so for that reason Timæus which being, if we say it is in a very tells us, that it was made known to us, dubious way intelligible, and something soylouộ vó64, " by a spurious kind of reamost hard to be apprehended, we shall not soning," p. 545. Plato says the same, speak a falsehood.” Plat. Tim. p. 51. edit. only he is more full. Matter, according to Serr.

him, was μετ' αναισθησίας άπτον, λογισμό Thus Chalcidius: Sublatis quae sunt sin- Tivl vbou ubyis miotóv: “Something tangulis, quod solum remanet, ipsum esse, quod gible without sensation, something hard to quæritur. In Tim. Com. p. 371.

be believed, and that by means of a spua The method of reasoning on this sub- rious kind of reasoning." Tim. Plat. p. 52. ject by analogy was used by Aristotle. 'H edit. Serr. δ' υποκειμένη φύσις επιστητή κατά αναλο- This spurious reasoning is explained by glass gap apos avopidyta xalads, # Timæus, who says, that matter is so comτρός κλίνην ξύλον, ή πρός των άλλων τι prehended, το μήκω κατ' ευθυωρίαν νοείτων εχόντων μορφήν η ύλη και το άμορφον σθαι, “by its not being understood in a diέχει, πρίν λαβείν την μορφήν ούτως αύτη rect way, but only obliquely, and by imapós ovolav éxel, kal To Tóde Th, kal td óv. plication.” Opusc. Myth. Gale, p. 545. Phys. l. i. c. 7. 20. edit. Sylb. “The sub- As to the being “ tangible without sensaject

, nature, (that is, the primary matter,) tion,” this means, that though it be an esis knowable in the way of analogy: for as sential to body, which appears to make it is the brass to the statue, the timber to tangible, yet the abstraction makes it stand the bed, or the immediate and formless under the same character to the touch, as material to any of those things which have darkness stands to the sight, silence to the form before it assumes that form, so is hearing ; we cannot be said to see the one, this (general and primary) matter to sub- nor to hear the other ; and yet without stance, and to each particular thing. and to the help of those two senses we could have each particular being."

no comprehension of those two negations, Not that Aristotle rejected the argumentor, perhaps more properly, those two sensifrom abstraction. Aéro 8 GAny + Kaw a ble privations. την μήτε τι, μήτε ποσόν, μήτε άλλο μηδέν Both Timæus and Plato drop expressions, οίς ώρισται το όν· έστι γάρ τι, καθ' ου as if they considered matter to be place. Timeus calls it τόπος and χώρα; Ρlato κίνησις, ή εις είδος θέειν αυτόν, και κινείcalls it xúpa and copa. Opusc. Myth. p. obai unxavwuévn. Eustath. in Hom. Odyss. 544. Plat. Tim. p. 52.


And here, if a digression may be permitted, let us reflect for a moment on the character of old Proteus.

Omnia transformat sese in miracula rerum,

Ignemque, horribilemque feram, fluviumque liquentem. Georg. iv. Thus Virgil : thus, before him, Homer;

Πάντα δε γιγνόμενος πειρήσεται, όσσ' επί γαίαν
Ερπετά γίνονται, και ύδωρ, και θεσπιδαές πυρ. 'Οδυσσ. Δ. 417.
“Made into all things, all he'll try ; become
Each living thing, that creeps on carth ; will glide

A liquid stream, or blaze a flaming fire.” What wonder, if this singular deity suggests to us that singular being, which we have been just attempting to describe? The allegory was too obvious to escape the writers of any age, and there are many, we find, by whom it has been adopted.

p. 177. edit. Basil. Chalcidius elegantly shews, how in this We shall only remark, as we proceed, negative manner it attends all the predica- that the etymology here given of Eidothea, ments, and serves for a support to each. eis eidos Oéerv, "to rush into form," is inEssentia est, ut opinor, cum cam species, vented, like many other ancient etymologies, &c. See Com. in. Tim. p. 438.

more to explain the word philosophicully, b To the poets here quoted may be than to give us its rcal origin. It is, peradded, Horace Sat. lib. ii. s. 3. v. 73. haps, more profitable, though not equally Ovid. Metam. viii. 730.

critical, to etymologize after this manner; That great parent of mythology as well and such appears to have been the common as poetry, Homer, not only informs us con- practice of Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoics. cerning Proteus, but concerning his daughter The words of Heraclides are-_"Qote na Eidothea, who discovered her father's abode. Aoyov, Thv uèv špoppov űany IIpwtéa Ka

We shall perceive in the explanations λείσθαι, τήν δ' είδωλοπλαστήσασαν έκαστα which follow, how this fable applies itself Apóvolav E1800 éav. Heraclid. Pontic. p. 490. to the subject of the present chapter. Gale's Opusc. Mythog. 8vo.

C“Some," says Eustathius, when he com- To these Greeks may be subjoined a rements the passage above cited from Homer, spectable countryman of our own. hold “ Proteus to be that original matter, Lord Verulam tells us of Proteus, that which is the receptacle of forms; that, which he had his herd of seals, or sea-calves ; being in actuality no one of these forms, is that these it was his custom every day to yet in capacity all of them ; which Pro- tell over, and then to retire into a cavern, teus (they add) Eidothea, his daughter, is and repose himself. Of this we read the elegantly said to discover, by leading him following explanation : “ That under the forth out of capacity into actuality; that person of Proteus is signified matter, the is, she is that principle of motion which most ancient of all things, next to the contrives to make him rush into form, and Deity ; that the herd of Proteus was nobe moved and actuated."

thing else, than the ordinary species of aniHeraclides Ponticus, having adopted the mals, plants, and metals, into which matter same method of explaining, subjoins: “That appears to diffusc, and, as it were, to conhence it was with good reason, that the sume itself; so that after it has formed formless matter was called Proteus ; and and finished those several species, (its task that providence, which modified each being being in a manner complete,) it appears to with its peculiar form and character, was sleep and be at rest, nor to labour at, atcalled Eidothea."

tempt, or prepare any species further.” De The words of Eustathins, in the original, Sapientia Vet. c. 13. are-Πρωτέα την πρωτόγονον είναι ύλην, The author's own words are, Sub Protei τήν των ειδών δεχάδα, την ενεργεία μεν enim persona materia significatur, omnium ούσαν μηδέν των ειδών, δυνάμει δε τα rerum post Deum antiquissima. Pecus auπάντα-και δη Πρωτέα καλώς λέγεται η tem, sive grex Protei non aliud videtur Είδοθέα έκφαίνειν, διά της εκ του δυνάμει esse, quant species ordinarie animalium, εις την ενέργειαν προαγωγής: ήγουν ή plantarum, metallorum, in quibus materia






Form is that elementary constituent in every composite substance, by which it is distinguished and characterized, and known from every other. But to be more explicit.

The first and most simple of all extensions is a line. This, when it exists united with a second extension, makes a superficies; and these two, existing together with a third, make a solid. Now this last and complete extension we call the first and simplest form ; and when this first and simplest form accedes to the first and simplest matter, the union of the two produces body, which is for that reason defined to be “matter triply extended." And thus we behold the rise of pure and original body. videtur se diffundere, et quasi consumere ; generation of things, dividing those things adeo ut, postquam istas species effinxerit, in imagination, which are by nature inseet absolverit, (tanquam penso completo,) parable." Ammon. in Præd.


62. dormire et quiescere videatur, nec alias am- Συνεχές μεν ουν εστι το διαιρετόν εις plius species moliri, tentare, aut parare. αεί διαιρετά» σώμα δε, το πάντη διαιρετόν

« See the first note in the preceding μεγέθους δε, το μεν εφ' έν, γραμμή το δ' chapter, and page 275.

επί δύο, επίπεδον το δ' επί τρία, σωμα" Original body, when we look down- και παρά ταύτα ουκ έστιν άλλο μέγεθος, wards, has reference to the primary matter, διά τό τα τρία πάντα είναι, και το τρίς its substratum when we look upwards, Trávtn : Continuous is that, which is dibecomes itself a ύλη, or matter to other visible into parts infinitely divisible ; body things ;" to the elements, as commonly is that which is every way divisible. Of called air, earth, water, &c.; and in conse- extensions, that which is divisible one way, quence to all the variety of natural pro is a line; that which is divisible two ways, ductions.

is a superficies; that which is divisible Hence it is, that Ammonius, speaking of three ways, is body; and besides these the first matter, says, aútn oùv, doykw there is no other extension, because three θείσα κατά τας τρεις διαστάσεις, ποιεί το are all, and thrice [divisible] is erery way dettepov & polov owua: “this (that is, the [divisible.] Aristot. de Cælo, 1. i. c. 1. first matter] being embulked with three In support of this last idea, (that the extensions, makes the second matter or term three implies all,) Aristotle refers to subject, that is to say, body void of quality. the common practice of his own language

After having shewn how natural qualities Τα μεν γαρ δύο άμφω λέγομεν, και τους and attributes stood in need of such a sub- δύο αμφοτέρους, πάντα δ' ού λέγομεν αλλά ject for their existence, he adds, (which is Karà Tôv Tplâv taúrny Thy apoonyoplav worth remarking,) oủx 6ti Hv TOTE ¿vep- Dapèu mpôtov: “We call (says he) two gelę ý úan ào cuatos, y owula Štolov, årà things, or two persons, both ; but we do not THV EŰTAKTOV TW Õytwv yéveow Dewpoûv- call them all; it is with regard to three that τες φαμεν, τη επινοία διαιρούντες ταύτα, we first apply this appellation," (viz. the púoel åxúplota: “not that there appellation of all.) Arist, in loc. ever was in actuality either matter without This is true likewise in Latin ; and is body, or body without quality ; but we say true also in English. Even the vulgar, 89, as we contemplate the well ordered with us, would be surprised were they to



« PreviousContinue »