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you think them good, or show me that they are bad. If you adopt them, they will reconcile you too with others and with yourself: you will neither be pleased nor angry with yourself for being what you are. Reproach others for nothing, and repent of nothing ; this is the first step to wisdom. Besides this, all is prejudice and false philosophy." *
The prevalence of the principles here so earnestly inculcated among the higher orders in France, at a period somewhat later in the history of the monarchy, may be judged of from the occasional allusions, to them in the dramatic pieces then chiefly in request at Paris. In the Mariage de Figaro (the popularity of which was quite unexampled,) the hero of the piece, an intriguing valet in the service of a Spanish courtier, is introduced as thus moralizing, in a soliloquy on his own free-agency and personal identity. Such an exhibition upon the English stage would have been universally censured as out of character and extravagant, or rather, would have been completely unintelligible to the crowds by which our theatres are filled.
“Oh bizarre suite d'événemens ! Comment cela m'a-t-il arrivé ? Pourquoi ces choses et non pas d'autres ? Qui les a fixées sur ma tête ? Forcé de parcourir la route le je suis entré sans le savoir, comme j'en sortirai sans où vouloir, je l'ai jonchée d'autant de fleurs que ma gaieté me la permit; encore je dis ma gaieté, sans savoir si elle est à moi plus que le reste, ni même qui est ce moi dont je m'occupe.”
That this soliloquy, though put into the mouth of Figaro, was meant as a picture of the philosophical jargon at that time affected by courtiers and men of the world, will not be doubted by those, who have attended to the importance of the roles commonly assigned to confiden
* Nearly to the same purpose, we are told by Mr. Belsham, that “ the fallacious feeling of remorse is superseded by the doctrine of necessity.” (Elem. p. 184.) And, again, “ Remorse supposes free-will. It is often of little or no use in moral discipline. In a degree it is even pernicious.” (Ibid. p. 406.)
Nor does the opinion of Hartley seem to have been different. - The doctrine of Necessity has a tendency to abate all resentment against men. Since all they do against us is by the appointment of God, it is rebellion against him to be offended with them."
For the originals of the quotations from Grimm and Diderot, see Note (L 1.)
tial valets in French comedies; and to the habits of familiarity in which they are always represented as living with their masters. The sentiments which they are made to utter may, accordingly, be safely considered as but an echo of the lessons which they have learned from their superiors.*
My anxiety to state, without any interruption, my remarks on some of the most important questions to which the attention of the public was called by the speculations of Locke, of Leibnitz, of Newton, and of Clarke, has led me, in various instances, to depart from the strict order of chronology. It is time for me, however, now to pause, and, before I proceed farther, to supply a few chasms in the foregoing sketch.
Of some Authors who have contributed by their Critical or Historical Writings, to dif
fuse a taste for Metaphysical Studies—Bayle-Fontenelle-Addison. Metaphysical Works of Berkeley.
Among the many eminent persons who were either driven from France, or who went into voluntary exile, in consequence of the revocation of the edict of Nantz, the most illustrious by far was Bayle ; † who, fixing his residence in Holland, and availing himself, to the utmost extent, of the religious toleration then enjoyed in that country, diffused from thence over Europe, a greater mass of accurate and curious information, accompanied by a more splendid display of acute and lively criticism, than had ever before come from the pen of a single individual. I Happy! if he had been able to restrain within due bounds his passion for sceptical and licentious discussion, and to respect the feelings of the wise and good, on topics connected with religion and morality. But, in the peculiar circumstances in which he was educated, combined with the seducing profession of a literary adventurer, to which his hard fortune condemned him, such a spirit of moderation was rather to be wished than expected.
* A reflection of Voltaire's on the writings of Spinoza may, I think, be here quoted without inpropriety. “ Vous êtes très confus, Baruc Spinoza, mais êtes-vous aussi dangereux qu'on le dit? Je soutiens que non, et ma raison c'est que vous êtes confus, que vous avez écrit en mauvais Latin, et qu'il n'y a pas dix personnes en Europe qui vous lisent d'un bout à l'autre. Quel est l'auteur dangereux ? C'est celui qui est lu par les Oisifs de la Cour, et par les Dames.” (Quest. sur l'Encyclop. Art. Dieu.)
Had Voltaire kept this last remark steadily in view in his own writings, how many of those pages would he have cancelled which he has given to the world !
| Born in 1647, died 1705.
| The erudition of Bayle is greatly undervalued by his antagonist Le Clerc. “ Toutes les lumières philosophiques de M. Bayle consistoient en quelque peu de Péripatétisme, qu'il avoit appris des Jésuites de Toulouse, et un peu de Cartesianisme, qu'il n'avoit jamais approfondi.” (Bib. Choisie, Tom. XII. p. 106.)
When Bayle first appeared as an author, the opinions of the learned still continued to be divided between Aristotle and Descartes. A considerable number leaned, in secret, to the metaphysical creed of Spinoza and of Hobbes; while the clergy of the Roman Catholic and the Protestant churches, instead of uniting their efforts in defence of those truths which they professed in common, wasted their strength against each other in fruitless disputes and recriminations.
In the midst of these controversies, Bayle, keeping aloof as far as possible from all the parties, indulged his sceptical and ironical humor at the common expense of the various combatants. Unattached himself to any system, or to speak more correctly, unfixed in his opinions on the most fundamental questions, he did not prosecute any particular study with sufficient perseverance to add materially to the stock of useful knowledge. The influence, however, of his writings on the taste and views of speculative men of all persuasions, has been so great, as to mark him out as one of the most conspicuous characters of his age ; and I shall accordingly devote to him a larger space than may, at first sight, appear due to an author who has distinguished himself only by the extent of his historical researches, and by the sagacity and subtilty of his critical disquisitions.
We are informed by Bayle himself, that his favorite authors during his youth, were Plutarch and Montaigne; and from them, it had been alleged by some of
In the judgment of Gibbon, “ Bayle's learning was chiefly confined to the Latin authors; and he had more of a certain multifarious reading than of real erudition. Le Clerc, his great antagonist, was as superior to him in that respect as inferior in every other.” (Extraits Raisonnés de mes Lectures, p. 62.)
his biographers, he imbibed his first lessons of scepticism. In what manner the first of these writers should have contributed to inspire him with this temper of mind, is not very obvious. There is certainly no heathen philosopher or historian whose morality is more pure or elevated; and none who has drawn the line between superstition and religion with a nicer hand.* Pope has with persect truth said of him, that “he abounds more in strokes of good nature than any other author ;” to which it may be added, that he abounds also in touches of simple and exquisite pathos, seldom to be met with among the greatest painters of antiquity. In all these respects what a contrast does Bayle present to Plutarch!
Considering the share which Bayle ascribes to Montaigne's Essays in forming his literary taste, it is curious, that there is no separate article allotted to Montaigne in the Historical and Critical Dictionary. What is still more curious, there is more than one reference to this article, as if it actually existed; without any explanation of the omission (as far as I recollect) from the author or the publisher of the work. Some very interesting particulars, however, concerning Montaigne's life and writings, are scattered over the Dictionary, in the notices of other persons, with whom his name appeared to Bayle lo have a sufficient connexion to furnish an apology for a short episode.
It does not seem to me a very improbable conjecture, that Bayle had intended, and perhaps attempted, to write an account of Montaigne; and that he had experienced greter difficulties than he was aware of, in the execution of his design. Notwithstanding their common tendency to Scepticism, no two characters were ever more strongly
See, in particular, his account of the effects produced on the character of Pericles by the sublime lessons of Anaxagoras.
Plutarch, it is true, had said before Bayle, that atheism is less pernicious than superstition ; but how wide the difference between this paradox, as explained and qualified by the Greek philosopher, and as interpreted and applied in the Reflections on the Coniet! Mr. Addison himself seems to give his sanction to Plutarch's maxim in one of his papers on Cheerfulness. “An eminent Pagan writer has made a discourse to show, that the atheist, who denies a God, does him less dishonor than the man who owns his being, but, at the same time, believes him to be cruel, hard to please, and terrible to huinan nature. For my own part, says he, I would rather it should be said of me, that there was never any such man as Plutarch, than that Plutarch was ill-natured, capricious, and inhuman." (Spectator, No. 494.) VOL. VI.
discriminated in their most prominent features; the doubts of the one resulting from the singular coldness of his moral temperament, combined with a subtlety and overrefinement in his habits of thinking, which rendered his ingenuity, acuteness, and erudition, more than a match for his good sense and sagacity ;-the indecision of the other partaking more of the shrewd and soldier-like étourderie of Henry IV., when he exclaimed, after hearing two lawyers plead on opposite sides of the same question, “ Ventre St. Gris ! il me semble que tous les deux ont raison."
Independently of Bayle's constitutional bias towards Scepticism, some other motives, it is probable, conspired to induce him, in the composition of his Dictionary, to copy the spirit and tone of the Old Academic school. On these collateral motives a strong and not very favorable light is thrown by his own candid avowal in one of his letters. - In truth," says he to his correspondent Minutoli, “it ought not to be thought strange, that so many persons should have inclined to Pyrrhonism ; for of all things in the world it is the most convenient. dispute with impunity against every body you meet, without any dread of that vexatious argument which is addressed ad hominem. You are never afraid of a retort; for, as you announce no opinion of your own, you are always ready to abandon those of others to the attacks of sophists of every description. In a word, you may dispute and jest on all subjects, without incurring any danger from the lex talionis." *
It is amusing to think, that the Pyrrhonism which Bayle himself has here so ingeniously accounted for, from motives of conveniency and of literary cowardice, should have been mistaken by so many of his disciples for the sportive triumph of a superior intellect over the weaknesses and errors of human reason.t
*“En verité il ne faut pas trouver étrange que tant des gens aient donné dans le Pyrrhonisme. Car c'est la chose du inonde la plus commode. Vous pouvez impuné. ment disputer contre tous venans, et sans craindre ces argumens ad hominem, qui font quelquefois tant de peine. Vous ne craignez point la rétorsion; puisque ne soutenant rien, vous abandonnez de bon cæur à tous les sophismes et à tous les raisonnemens de la terre quelque opinion que ce soit. Vous n'êtes jamais obligé d'en venir à la defensive. En un mot, vous contestez et vous daubez sur toutes choses toute votre saoul, sans craindre la peine du talion.” (Euv. Div. de Bayle, IV. p. 537.)
| The estimate formed by Warburton of Bayle's character, both intellectual and