a look round literature

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Purchase of this book includes free trial access to www.million-books.com where you can read more than a million books for free. Excerpt from book: Section 3A NOTE ON LUCRETIUS. " Instead of God, the whirlwind reigns " ('Am textit{zjvos 6 Airor j3a ri/vei)) says Aristophanes, in the " Clouds;" to which may be added, in the words of a sadder and sublimer thinker, " Wo keine Cotter sind, walten Gespenster." * According to the philosophers who plume themselves on having annihilated the Deity, Matter is come again, but in the very midst of Matter strut our modern " spectres " of the scientific lecture- room—the Atoms. What a " whirlwind " ! We hold our breath and stop our ears; we shut our Bibles, if we have any, and prepare our instruments ; we look this way and that through a great darkness, and watch the fluent Tyndall declaiming, the otiose Huxley intoning, the silent Spencer musing finger to forehead and smiling knowingly at the Unknowable. There is darkness, and a great explosion of gases. The wise ones are imperfectly agreed among themselves. Peripatetic and epicurean dispute on points of detail, as they did long ago. Theologians rush in where laymen fear to tread, and call incontinently on the Unconditioned. Amid the clamour of names and * Novalis. things, amid the whirlwind which already threatens to blow the roofs off all our churches and carry away one-half of our libraries, one word we hear distinctly pronounced with reverence again and again, one name we hear, almost forgotten by all save students, until eager scientific dreamers recalled it in order to give its owner his apotheosis—one name of a dead poet—Lucretius, the singer and expounder of the Cosmic " Nature of Things." Just as Democritus has dethroned Plato, Lucretius is dethroning—whom shall we say, when our choice of pagan theogonists is so limited ?—well, ^Eschylus. We have discovered that the real poet after our own hearts is not one who can sing to us in noble numbers of superhu...
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