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thence we must dcrive our elevation, not from space or duration. Let us endeavor then to think well; this is the principle of morals.
7. It is dangerous to shew man unreservedly how nearly he resembles the brute creation, without pointing out, at the same time, bis greatness. It is dangerous also to exhibit his greatness exclusively, without his degradation. It is yet more dangerous to leave him ignorant of both, but it is highly profitable to teach bim both together.
8. Let man then rightly estimate himself-let him love himself, for he has a nature capable of good; but yet let him not love the evils which he finds there. Let him despise himself, because this capacity is without an object; but let him not on that account despise the natural capacity itself. Let him both love and hate himself. There is in him the power of discerning truth, and of being happy, but he is not in possession of certain and satisfying truth. I would lead man to desire to find truth, to sit loose to his passions, and to be ready to follow truth wherever he may find it; and knowing how sadly his powers are clouded by his passions, I would wish him to hate in himself that concupiscence which overrules his judgment, that henceforth it may not blind him in making his choice, nor impede his progress when he has chosen.
9. I blame with equal severity those who elevate man, and those who depress him, and those who think it right merely to divert him. I can only approve of those who seek in tears for happiness.
The Stoics say, turn in upon yourselves, and there you will find your repose. This however is not true. Others say, go forth from yourselves, and seek for bappiness in diversion. This is not true either. Disease will come. Alas ! happiness is neither within us, nor without us. It is in the union of ourselves with God.
10. There are two ways of regarding human nature, one according to the end of man, and then it is grand and incomprehensible; the other according to his habits, as we judge of the nature of a horse or dog, by the habit of observing his going, and then man is abject and vile. It is owing to these two different ways that philosophers judge so differently, and dispute so keenly; for one denies what the other assumes. One says, man is not born for this noble end; for all his actions are opposed to it. The other says, when he commits such base and groveling actions, he wanders from the end of his being. Instinct and experience, taken together, shew to man the whole of what he is.
11. I feel that I might not have been ; for when I speak of myself, I mean my thinking being; and I, who think, would not have been, if my mother had been killed before I was quickened. Then I am not a necessary being, nor am I eternal, nor infinite; but I see clearly that there is in nature, a being who is necessary, eternal, infinite.
THE VANITY OF MAN.
We are not satisfied with the life that we have in ourselves—in our own peculiar being.
We wish to live also an ideal life in the mind of others; and for this purpose, we constrain ourselves to put on appear.
We labour incessantly to adorn and sustain this ideal being, while we neglect the real one. And if we possess any degree of equanimity, generosity, or fidelity, we strive to make it known, that we may clothe with these virtues that being of the imagination. Nay, we would even cast off these virtues in reality, to secure thein in the opinion of others; and willingly be cowards, to acquire the reputation of courage. What a proof of the emptiness of our real being, that we are not satisfied with the one without the other, and that we often sacrifice the one to the
other; for he is counted infamous who would not die to save his reputation.
Glory is so enchanting, that we love wbatever we associate it with, even though it be death.
2. Pride countervails all our miseries, for it either hides them, or if it discloses them, it boasts of acknowledging them. Pride has so thoroughly got possession of us, even in the midst of our miseries and our faults, that we are prepared to sacrifice lise with joy, if it may but be talked of.
3. Vanity is so rooted in the heart of man, that the lowest drudge of the camp, the street, or the kitchen, must have his boast and his admirers. It is the same with the philosophers. Those who write to gain fame, would have the reputation of having written well; and those who read it, would have the reputa. tion of having read it; and I who am writing this, feel probably the same wish, and they who read this, feel it also.
4. Notwithstanding the sight of all those miseries which wring us, and threaten our destruction, we have still an instinct which we cannot repress, which elevates us above our sorrows.
5. We are so presumptuous that we wish to be known to all the world, even to those that come after us; and we are so vain, that the esteem of five or six persons immediately around us, is enough to seduce and satisfy us.
6. Curiosity is but vanity: too frequently we only wish to know more, that we may talk of it. No man would venture to see, if he were never to speak about what he sees—for the mere pleasure of seeing, without ever speaking of it to others.
7. We do not care to get a name in the towns through which we are travelling: but if we come to sojourn there a short time, we soon become desirous of it. And what time is sufficient for this ? a period proportioned to our vain and pitiful duration:
8. The nature of self-love and of human egotism, is to love self only, and to consult only self-interest.
But to what a state is man reduced! He cannot prevent this object of his love from being full of defects and miseries. He wishes to be great, but he sees bimself little: he wishes to be happy, but he sees himself miserable ; he wishes to be perfect, but he sees that he is full of imperfections ; he wishes to be the object of men's love and esteem, and he sees that his errors deserve their hatred and contempt. This state of disappointment generates in him the most wretched and criminal passion that can be imagined: he conceives a deadly hatred against that truth which reproves him, and convinces him of his faults: he desires to destroy it, and unable actually to destroy it in its essential nature, he blots it out as far as possible from his own knowledge and from that of others: that is, he does his utmost to conceal his faults both from others and from himself, and will not suffer others to exhibit them to him, or to examine them themselves.
It is surely an evil to be full of faults ; but it is a far greater evil to be unwilling to know them, since that is to add to them the guilt of a voluntary delusion. We do not like others to deceive us; we do not think it right that they should wish to be esteemed by us beyond their deserts : it is not right then that we should deceive them, and that we should wish them to esteem us more than we deserve.
So that when they discover in us nothing but the imperfections and vices which we really possess, it is evident that in this they do us no wrong, because they are not the cause of those errors; and that they even do us good, since they aid us in avoiding a real evilthe ignorance of these our imperfections. We should not be indignant that they discover these errors if they really exist, nor that they should know us to be what we really are, and despise us, if we really are despicable.
These are the thoughts that would rise spontaneously in a heart full of equity and justice: what then shall we say of our own, when we see its disposition to be just the reverse, For is it not true that we hate the truth and those who tell it us; and that we love men to be deceived in our favor, and wish to be estimated by them very differently from what we really are ?
There are different degrees of this aversion for truth; but we may affirm that in some degree it exists in every one, because it is inseparable from selflove. It is this vile sensitiveness to applause, which compels those whose duty it is to reprove another, to soften the severity of the shock, by so many circuitous and alleviating expressions. They must appear to attenuate the fault; they must seem to excuse what they mean to reprove; they must mix with the correction the language of praise, and the assurances of affection and esteem. Yet still this pill is always bitter to self-love: we take as little of it as we can, always with disgust, and often with a secret grudge against those who presume to administer it.
Hence it is that those who have any interest in securing our regard, shrink from the performance of an office which they know to be disagreeable to us; they treat us as we wish to be treated; we hate the truth, and they conceal it; we wish to be flattered, and they flatter; we love to be deceived, and they deceive us.
And hence it arises that each step of good fortune by which we are elevated in the world, removes us farther from truth ; because men fear to annoy others, just in proportion as their good will is likely to be useful, or their dislike dangerous. A prince shall be the talk of all Europe, and he only know it not. I do not wonder at this. To speak the truth is useful to him to whom it is spoken, but sadly the reverse to bim who speaks it, for it makes him hated. Now they who live with princes, love their own interests better than that of him with whom they serve, and do not therefore care to seek his benefit by telling him the truth to their own injury. This evil is doubtless more serious and more common, in cases of common rank and fortune, but the very lowest are not free from it; because there is always some benefit to be obtain