« PoprzedniaDalej »
while justice is an intellectual quality, of which they may dispose as they please, they have placed justice in the hands of power, and now they call that justice which power requires to be observed.
9. It is just, that whatever is just should be observed. It is necessary that whatever is the strongest should be obeyed. Justice without power is inefficient power without justice is tyranny. Justice without power is gainsayed, because there are always wicked men. Power without justice is soon questioned. Justice and power must be brought together, so that whatever is just may be powerful, and whatever is powerful may he just.
Justice may be disputed; but power speaks pretty plainly, and without dispute. So that it needs but to give power to justice; but seeing that it was not possible to make justice powerful, they have made the powerful just.
10. It is dangerous to tell the people that the laws are not just; for they only obey them because they believe them to be just. They must be told therefore at the same time, that they must obey them as laws; as they obey their superiors, not because they are just, but because they are their superiors. If you make them comprehend this, you prevent all sedition. This is the true definition of justice.
11. It were well for the people to obey laws and customs, because they are laws; and that they understood that this made them just. On this ground, they would never deviate from them: whilst on the other hand, if their justice is to rest on any other basis it may easily be brought into question, and then the people are made liable to revolt.
12. When it is made a question, whether we should make war, and kill so many men, and doom so many Spaniards to die, it is one man only who decides, and he an interested party. It ought to be a third and an indifferent person.
13. Language such as this, is false and tyrannical : "I am well-looking; then men ought to fear me: I
am strong; then men should love me." Tyranny is to seek to obtain that by one means, which should only be obtained by another. We owe different duties to different kinds of merit; a duty of love to that which is amiable; of fear, to that which is mighty; of teachableness, to the learned, &c. This duty should" be done. It is unjust to withhold this. It is unjust to require more. And it savors equally of error and of tyranny to say, "He has no might, then I will not esteem him. He has no talent, therefore I will not fear him." Tyranny consists in the desire of universal dominion, unwarranted by our real merit.
14. Their are vices which have no hold upon us, but in connection with others; and which, when you cut down the trunk, fall like the branches.
15. When malice has reason on its side, it looks forth bravely, displays that reason in its lustre. When austerity and self-denial have not realized true happiness and the soul returns to the dictates of nature, the reaction is fearfully extravagant.
16. To find recreation in amusements, is not happiness; for this joy springs from alien and extrinsic sources, and is therefore dependent upon, and subject to interruption by a thousand accidents, which may minister inevitable affliction.
17. The highest style of mind is accused of folly, as well as the lowest. Nothing is thoroughly approved but mediocrity. The majority has brought this about; and it instantly fixes its fangs on whatever gets beyond it either way. I will not resist their rule. I consent to be ranked among them; and if I object to be placed at the low extreme, it is not because it is low, but because it is the extreme; for I should in the same way refuse to be placed at the highest. To get really beyond mediocrity, is to pass the limits of human nature. The dignity of the human soul, lies in knowing how to keep the middle course; and so far from there being greatness in leaving it, true greatness consists in never deviating from it.
18. No man obtains credit with the world for talent
in poetry, who does not fairly hang out the sign of a poet; or for a talent in mathematics, if he has not put up the sign of a mathematician. But your truly honest men have recourse to no such expedients. They no more play themselves off for poets, than for embroiderers. They are neither called poets nor geometers; but they are at home in all these matters. Men do not make out specifically what they are. When they enter a room, they speak of the topic then in discussion. They do not discover a greater aptness for one subject than for another, except as circumstances call out their talent; for to such persons it is a matter of equal indifference, that it should not be said, "That man talks remarkably well," when conversational powers are not the point in question, or that this should be said of them when it is. It is poor praise, therefore, when a man is pointed out, on his entering a room, as a great poet, or that he should only be referred to, where the merit of some verses is to be considered. Man is full of wants; he only loves those who can satisfy them. "He is a good mathematician; they say, "but then I must be bored incessantly with mathematics :" or, “That man thoroughly comprehends the art of war; but I do not wish to make war with any man." Give me, then, a polite man, with general talents, to meet and supply my necessities. 19. When in health, we cannot at all judge how we would act in sickness; but when sickness comes, then we submit freely to the needful discipline. The dis ease itself is the cause of this. We feel then no longer the eager thirst for amusements and visiting, whichoriginates in health, and which is quite incompatible with a state of sickness. Nature, then, gives inclinations and desires conformed to our present state. It is only the fears that originate with ourselves, and not with nature, that trouble us; for they associate with the state in which we then are, the feelings of a state in which we are not.
20. Injunctions to humility, are sources of humiliation to the humble; but of pride, to the proud.
also the language of Pyrrhonism and doubt, is matter of confirmation to those who believe. Few men speak humbly of humility, or chastely of chastity,few of scepticism with real doubtfulness of mind. are nothing but falsehood, duplicity, and contradiction. We hide and disguise ourselves from ourselves.
21. Concealed good actions are the most estimable of all. When I discover such in history, they delight me much. Yet even these cannot have been altogether hidden, because they have been so recorded; and even the degree in which they have come to light, detracts from their merit, for their finest trait is the wish to conceal them.
22. Your sayer of smart things, has a bad heart.
23. This I is hateful; and those who do not renounce it, who seek no further than to cover it, are always hateful also. Not at all, say you, for if we act obligingly to all men, they have no reason to hate us. That is true, if there were nothing hateful in that I, but the inconvenience which it administers. But if I hate it, because it is essentially unjust, because it makes itself the centre of every thing, I shall hate it always. In fact, this I has two bad qualities. It is essentially unjust, because it will be the centre of all things; it is an annoyance to others, because it will serve itself by them; for each individual I is the enemy, and would be the tyrant of all others. Now you may remove the annoyance, but not the radical injustice, and hence you cannot make it acceptable to those who abhor its injustice; you may make it pleasing to the unjust who no longer discover their enemy, but you remain unjust yourself, and cannot be pleasing therefore but to similar persons.
24. I cannot admire the man who possesses one virtue in high perfection, if he does not, at the same time, possess the opposite virtue in an equal degree; as in the case of Epaminondas, who united the extremes of valor and of meekness; without this, it is not an elevated, but a fallen character. Greatness does not consist in being at one extreme, but in reach
ing both extremes at once, and occupying all the intermediate space. Perhaps this is in no case more than a sudden movement of the soul, from one extreme to the other, and, like a burning brand, whirled quickly round in a circle, it is never but in one point of its course at a time. Still this indicates the energy of the soul, if not its expansion.
25. If our condition were really happy, there were no need to divert us from thinking of it.
26 I have spent much time in the study of the abstract sciences; but the paucity of persons with whom you can communicate on such subjects, disgusted me with them. When I began to study man, I saw that these abstract sciences are not suited to him, and that in diving into them, I wandered further from my real object, than those who knew them not, and I forgave them for not having attended to these things. I expected then, however, that I should find some companions in the study of man, since it was so specifically a duty. I was in error. There are fewer students of man, than of geometry.*
27. When all things move similarly, nothing moves apparently-as on board a ship. When all things glide similarly to disorder, nothing seems to be going wrong. He who stops, considers the rapid recession of others, an immoveable point.
28. Philosophers boast of having arranged all moral duties in a certain classification. But why divide them into four, rather than into six divisions. Why make four sorts of virtues rather than ten. Why range them under the general heads of abstine and sustine, rather than any others. But then, say you, here they are all reduced to a single word. Well, but that is quite useless without explanation; and as soon as you begin to explain, and you develope the general
*Pascal was correct. Of the thousands who write and har angue upon the study of human nature, not more than one in a hundred knows what he means.