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Why follow the majority? Is it because they have more reason ? No. But because they have more force. Why follow ancient laws, and ancient opinions ? Are they wiser ? No. But they stand apart from present interests; and thus take away the root of difference.
6. The empire founded on opinion and imagination, sometimes has the upper hand, and this dominion is mild and voluntary. The empire of force reigns always. Opinion is, as it were, the queen of the world; but force is its tyrant.
7. How wisely are men distinguished by their exterior, rather than their interior qualifications. Which of us two shall take the lead? Which shall yield precedence? The man of least talent. But I am as clever* as he. Then we must fight it out for this. But he has four lacqueys, and I have but one. There is a visible difference; we have only to count them. It is my place then to give way; and I am a fool to contest the point. This
arrangement keeps us in peace; which is of all blessings the greatest.
8. From the habit of seeing kings surrounded with guards, and drums, and officers, and with all these appendages which tend to create respect and terror, it happens, that the countenance of kings, even though seen sometimes without these adjuncts, still awakens in their subjects the same reverential feeling; because even then, we do not mentally separate their person from the train with which we usually see them attended. The multitude who know not that this effect bas its origin in custom, believe it to originate in native feeling; and hence arise such expressions as, The character of divinity is imprinted on his countenance, &c.
The translator does not use the term lever, according to the custom of New England people. Able or skilful would be an equivalent to habile.
The power of kings is founded on the reason, and on the folly of the people; but most chiefly on their folly. The greatest and most important thing in the world has weakness for its basis; and this basis is wonderfully secure, for there is nothing more certain, than that thë people will be weak ; whilst that which has its foundation in reason only, is very insecure, as the esteem for wisdom.
9. Our magistrates have well understood this mystery. Their crimson robes, their ermine, in which they wrap themselves, the palaces of justice, the fleurde-lis—all this pomp and circumspection was necessary; and.if physicians had not their cassock and their mule; and if theologians had not their square cap, and their flowing garments, they would never have duped the world, which could never withstand this authenticating demonstration. Soldiers are the only men who are not in some measure disguised; and that is, because their own share in the matter, is the most essential part of it. They gain their point by actual force,—the others by grimace.
On this account our kings have not bad recourse to such disguises. They have not masked themselves in extraordinary habits, in order to appear impressive; but they have surrounded themselves with guards, and lancers, and whiskered faces, men who have hands and energies only for this service. The drums and trumpets which go before them, and the legions that surround them, make even brave men tremble. They not only wear a dress, but they are clothed with might. A man had need have an unprejudiced mind, to consider merely as another man, the Grand Seignior surrounded by his glittering train of 40,000 Janissaries.
If magistrates were possessed of real justice, if physicians knew the true art of healing, there were no need of square caps.
The majesty of science would be sufficiently venerable alone. But possessed as they mostly are, with only imaginary science, they must assume these vain adorements which impress the imagination of those among whom they labor, and, by that
means, they obtain respect. We cannot look at an advocate in his gown and his wig, without a favorable impression of his abilities. The Swiss are offended at being called gentlemen, and have to establish the proof of their low origin, in order to qualify them for stations of importance.*
10. No one chooses for a pilot, the highest born passenger on board.
All the world sees that we labor with uncertainty before us, either by sea, in battle, &c. but all the world do not see the law of the chances, which shews that we do rightly. Montaigne saw that a narrow mind is an offence, and that custom rules every things—but he did not see the reason of this. Those who see only effects, and not their causes, are in relation to those who discover the causes, as those who have eyes only compared with those who have mind. For the effects are perceptible to the senses, but the reasons only to the understanding. And though, in fact, these effects perceived by the understanding, yet such a mind, compared with that which discovers the causes, is as the bodily senses to the intellectual powers.
11. How is it that a lame man does not anger us, but a blundering mind does ? It is, that the cripple admits that we walk straight, but a crippled mind accuses us of limping ? But for this, we should feel more of pity than of anger.
Epictetus asks also, Why we are not annoyed if any one tells us that we are unwell in the head, and yet are angry if they tell us that we reason falsely, or choose unwisely? The reason is, that we know certainly that nothing ails our heads, or that we are not crippled in the body. But we are not certain that we have chosen correctly. So that having only assurance, inasmuch as we perceive the matter distinctly, whilst another sees it as clearly the contrary way, we are
* At Basle they must renounce their nobility, in order to enter the senate,
necessarily brought into doubt and suspense; and still more so, when a thousand others laugh at our decision; for we must prefer our own convictions to those of ever so many others, and yet that is a bold and difficult course.
Now, we never feel this contradiction of our senses in a case of actual lameness.
12. Respect for others requires you to inconvenience yourself. This seems foolish ; yet is very proper.
It says, “I would willingly inconvenience myself seriously, if it would serve you, seeing that I do so when it will not.” Besides, the object of this respect is to distinguish the great. Now, if respect might show itself by lolling in an elbow chair, we should respect all the world, and then we should not distinguish the great; but being put to inconvenience, we distinguish them plainly enough.
13. A superior style of dress is not altogether vain. It shews how many persons labor for us. A man shews by his hair that he has a valet and perfumer, &c.; and by his band, his linen and lace, &c. It is not then, a mere superficial matter, a mere harness, to have many hands employed in our service.
15. Strange indeed! they would have me not pay respect to that man dressed in embroidery, and followed by seven or eight lacqueys. Why he would horsewhip me if I did not. Now, this custom is a matter of compulsion : it does not exist between two horses, when one is better caparisoned than the other.
It is droll in Montaigne, that he does not see the difference between admiring what we see, and asking the reason of it.
15. The people have some wise notions; for example, the having chosen amusements and hunting, in preference to poetry. Your half-learned gentry laugh at them, and delight in pointing out their folly in this ; but for reasons which they cannot perceive, the people are right. It is well also to distinguish men by externals, as by birth or property. The world strives to shew how unreasonable this is; but it is perfectly reasonable.
16. Rank is a great advantage, as it gives to a of eighteen or twenty years of age, a degree of acceptance, publicity, and respect, which another can scarcely obtain by merit at fifty. There is a gain, then, of thirty years without difficulty.
17. There are men, who, to shew us that we are wrong, in not esteeming them more highly, never fail to bring forward the names of those persons of quality who think well of them. I would answer them, “Shew us the merit by which you have gained their esteem, and we will esteem you as they do."
18. If a man stands at the window so'see those who pass, and I happen to pass by, can I say that he placed himself there to see me? No: for he did not think of me particularly. But if a man loves a women for her beauty, does he love her ? No: for the small-pox which destroys her beauty without killing her, causes his love to cease.
And if any one loves me for my judgment or my memory, does he really love me? No: for I can lose these qualities without ceasing to be. Where then is this me, if it is neither in the body nor the soul? And how are we to love the soul, except it be for those qualities which do not make up
this me, because they are perishable ? For can we love the soul of a person abstractly, and some qualities that helong to it? That cannot be ; and it would be un. just. Then they never love the person, but only the qualities; or, if they say that they love the person, they must say also, that the combination of qualities constitutes the person.
14. Those things about which we are most anxious, are very often a mere nothing; as, for instance, the concealment of our narrow circumstances. This evil of poverty is a mere nothing, that imagination has magnified to a mountain. Another turn of thought would induce us to tell it without difficulty.
20. Those who have the power of invention are but few. Those who have not are many, and consequently, the strongest party. And generally, we see that they refuse to the inventors the praise that they de