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Other philosophers held other opinions, as various as the nature of men, whence arose the infinite variety of sects. The Peripatetics were walking under a portico, disputing and establishing their maxims. The Pythagoreans said little, and were rigorous in the observance of their five years' silence. They were followed by the Cynics and the Epicurea
cans. Retired from all these, less vain and more enlighted, was Diogenes, who stole some hours from his public occupations to study the doctrines of the Stoics ; softening the austerity of his masters, and more indulgent with the passions and natural affections; seated on the margin of a rivulet, he remarked its course, and moralized on the clearness and purity of its waters. Near him on the branch of a poplar tree, hung a paper, on which was painted a shell, the exterior rough and unpolished, but discovering within a pure and silvery bosom, and on the most delicate and pearly part this half verse of Persius :
Nil te quaesiveris extra.
In which the philosopher showed his contempt of ambition, and the superficial judgments of the envious, satisfied with the applause of his own conscience, always calm and always intent on his duties.
Going thence we heard a tumultuous noise among the people, who were running from all parts crying that the emperor Licinius, a great enemy of the republic was coming against her with an army of Goths and Vandals; the confusion was great ; and those who before this event appeared prepared and full of precaution, were found unable to execute the plans they had themselves invented. Many councils were held at which the senators and the four great counsellors Plato, Aristotle, Xenophon, and Tacitus, assisted; all held in high estimation, and wlio by their writings were thought to be full of judgment and of sound maxims, but, called on this occasion into action; they were confounded by the contrariety of opinions, and the variety of resolutions that were suggested without being able to form any solid plan. If they proposed any means of defence, it was in measures so impracticable, though they appeared learned, that their inutility was immediately discovered; and it was clearly seen how much those erred who trust the public tranquillity to the power of speculative genius and men devoted to science, always irresolute and wavering among a variety of opinions; skillul in argument, but weak in execution; and dangerous with their theories, which are never applicable to any emergency, for affairs constantly change, and periods of time cliffer from cach other as much as human faces,
From this state of anxiety we were delivered by an account that the alarm was false, and that the emperor was far distant from the republic; on which quiet was restored, and we continued cur way.
Entering a street, where, from one end to the other, there was nothing but barbers' shops, I inquired the reason why there was so many of this trade in a place inhabited by learned men who let their hair and
Marcus Varro replied, laughing, that they were not barbers, but critics, certain species of surgeons, who, in this republic, profess to perfect or mend literary works; their audacity is so great, that they pretend to divine ideas which the author's never dreamed of, and by changing the words, change the sense, and spoil the whole.
At that instant Democritus passei, laughing so immoderately that I was obliged to inquire the cause, surprised to see so wise a philosopher so off his guard. Composing himself, he replied, there are so many things in this republic that would provoke the most saturnine to laughter, that this curiosity can be excused only in a stranger. I will satisfy it by representing the general causes, that you may not attribute this indulgence to folly. Since the thirst of knowledge led me among the Indians, Persians, Chaldeans, and Ethiopians, and I have discovered the vanity of the sciences, the danger of this republic, and the madness of its citizens, it has appeared to me best to laugh at them all. For to oppose them, or weep over evils which it is impossible to remedy, would be idle; and even amid my regrets, I cannot forbear laughing at the folly of those who think nothing true but what comes from the lips or pens of these people; who, on the faith of this credulity, and thinking to imitate the supreme artificer, have imagined frightful Creations and monstrous births never contemplated by Nature.
They assert that there is in the sea tritons and nereids, in the air hypogriffs, harjiics, and sphinxes ; in the mountains satyrs, 1:aris, sı;lvans, and centaurs ; in the woods, dryads and hamadryads ; in tlie fountains, naiuds. They have persuaded the whole worll to idolatry, raising altars to and adoring as gods, the spheres, the stars, the elements, and creatures rational and irrational, even the rudest and most insensible ; and in excrise of their own vices, leaving neither sea, river, forest, isle, nor mountain, in which, under various transformations, they have not preserved the horrible memory of the robberies, incests, rapes, and adulteries of their gods, daring to defame the celestial luminaries of the firmament, making them accomplices in their lascivious and brutal actions. How can I avoid laughing when I see people receiving from these citizens the documents of immortal life, the prize of virtue, and tranquillity of the soul, while they are themselves the most rebellious, the most prone to anger, blindly devoted to love, to en
vy, to avarice, to ambition, most inconstant, arrogant, admirers of themselves, and despising others.
I cannot forbear laughing when I see the vainglory of those celebrated for their lcarning in this republic; they strut about boasting of their knowledge in external things, while they know nothing of themselves, their souls being more rude than unhewn marbie, and more savage than the beasts of the forest : at these I laugh, and esteem those only who, though ignorant of the sciences, know how to govern their passions and affections.
I laugh also at the silliness of certain authors who think to immortalize the patrons to whom they dedicate their works, like Anfius, the grammarian, and with proud humility consecrate them to great monarchs, strangers to the knowiedge of letters, giving for motive the necessity they have of their protection against the malevolent, as if they could defend what they do not understand ; or as if with the book was not purchased the right of murmuring against it.
More wise were the ancients who dedicated their books to their friends, or to some intelligent prince who had furnished the argument.
And if we cousider the sciences, which constitute the chief treasure of the republic, how many things do we not find in them, and their professors, that excite more laughter than compassion.
Regard the conceit of the grammarians, who, proud of their knowledge of Latin, pretend to take the lead in all the sciences. Behold how enamoured of herself is Rhetoric with her ornaments and colours, disguising the truth, being a species of adulation, and the art of deceira ing or tyrannizing over our feelings with an agreeable violence; it is the lyre of Orpheus which drew after it the animals, and that of Amphyon which mored the stones; for this reason the Spartans would not admit her into their city; Rome expelled her twice from her walls, and the Stoics drove her from their schools; Socrates calls the orators publio flatterers, and described the danger of employing them, because they impose upon the people, moving them at pleasure by their persuasive powers, and raising seditions, as did Brutus, Cassius, Cato, Demosthenes, and Cicero.
Poetry is the sister of Rhetoric; she despises all the sciences, and asserts proudly her right of precedence, for to her alone antiquity raised altars; she denies being the daughter of Labour, father of the other arts, and says she descended from heaven; she boasts that the Scythians, the Cretans, and the Spaniards, wrote their first laws in verse, and that in verse tlie Goths recorded their actions.
It is a dangerous art, inimical to trutlı, supporting herself by feigning and imitation, and rendering the gods accomplices of her crimes; to excuse her own licentiousness she maintains the amorous passions ;
feeding with tender caresses and sweet endearments her own flames and those of others. Her malicious tongue destroys reputations. It covered Dido with infamy, though for virtue and chastity she was the example of widows.
Nor is history less dangerous to the world, for as men naturally scek immortality, and this is acquired by Fame, either good or bad, which is not eternised by statues of marble or bronze, but in the pages of history, it follows that as there is in human nature more inclination to vice than virtue, there are so many who like Erostratus undertake some signal evil, to be remembered by historians; and as in their annals are recorded the virtues and vices of great kings and princes, we are more apt to excuse our own weakness by their example than to imitate their virtues.
They arrogate to themselves also the theory and practice of politics, though through self-love, or flattery, or hatred, or want of care in seeking after truth, there is scarcely an historian who is faithful in his narration, who pays not more regard to his reputation than to veracity, who consults not public opinion rather than facts.
And if some events are related as they occurred, yet inferences cannot be drawn from them without great danger, for it is necessary to penetrate their causes, and these, though the historians relate them, are uncertain, imaginary, or received from the voice of the vulgar, thie blind, the ignorant, for few or none of those who write were present at the occurrences they state, or if present they could not see every thing theinsclves; nor were they called to the councils of princes and informed of the public and private motives of their actions. Too often from the success of an event they form their ideas of its having been planned, and some writers of bad disposition, aided by the quickness of their genius, interpret malignantly the proceedings of those who gorern, and as vice and virtue border on each other, they call the brave rash, the generous prodigal, the prudent weak, and the cautious timid. Another fault not less grave of historians is, that they praise or satirize from interest, thus Paterculus praised Sejanus, Livia, and Tiberius, while Tacitus exposed the ambition and adultery of the former, and the deceitfulness of the last.
Xenophon did not describe Cyrus as he was, but as he should have been, and similar praises gave fame to Hercules, Achilles, Hector, Theseus, Epaminondas, Lysander, Themistocles, Alexander, Hannibal, Scipio, and Pompey, all of whom were only famous tyrants and robbers.
Behold metaphysicians involved in sophistry, arguments, and words, confused in the very expressions and terms they have invented to explain themselves, and so absorbed in these terms that they cannot raise their eyes to contemplate or consider the secrets of nature.
Behold moral philosophers temporising with human vices: the Epicureans are libertines, the Peripatetics avaricious, the Platonists and Stoics arrogant and vainglorious; you may also observe the confusion of their ideas on what constitutes the felicity of man. Epicurus and Aristippus say it consists in delight, Pythagoras and Socrates in virtue, Theophrastus in strength, Aristotle in being free from pain, Periander in glory, honour, and riches, Dinomachus and Coliphon in a mixture of virtue and delight. Can there be more ingenious folly? Why did not some of the philosophers place the happiness of man in not writing, since authors are one of their principal curses.
Plato alone, more enlightened than the rest, knew that felicity could not be found in terrestrial things, but only in a union with the supreme good; for while man lives, he is exposed to misery and pain, he is the sport of fortune, a seeting shade, the certain prey of death, and the world, his abode, a scene constantly shifting, a field of battle, a tragic theatre! and thus neither in it nor in man can he find felicity, but must seek it in another place and among other beings.
Then turning to Marcus Varro and myself, with a smiling face, he continued, and what excuse can the lawyers find, who live for others, continually occupied in suits and cares foreign to themselves? whose memory is an elephant that sustains castles and even mountains of dissertations and books? whose profession, like an entail, descends from father to son in repertories where they find and do not study its materials, and where genius, forgetful of its generous liberty, obeys the words and ideas of legislators, as if laws were not founded on the fixed principles of nature.
I know not why they call their Jurisprudence a science, being the daughter of the human understanding, blind and mutable. Wise were the first legislators who, knowing that their laws were human dictates, sought to give them authority with the vulgar by persuading them that they were inspired by some divinity, as those of Osiris by Mercury, those of Minos by Jupiler, those of Solon by Dlinerva, those of Lycurgus by Apollo, and those of Numa Pompilius by the nymph Egeria.
Such are the votaries of Jurisprudence, that it is necessary to pay them in order to make them speak or be silent ; and they would be the worst people in the world if there were no physicians; for if the lawyers consume our property, these destroy our lives. The discretion of a certain king of France was admired, who paid his physicians great salaries when he was well, but discontinued them as soon as he fell sick. 'The Egyptians, the Babylonians, and the Arcadians lived free from this plague. Greece was not ignorant of it ; since, in order to destroy the Romans, they sent them physicians, but that republic being informeil of their intention, expelled them from her bosom. Well do I know who said that life is short, art long, observation difficult, ex