Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

Sneezing absorbs all the faculties of the soul, as do certain bodily functions, but we do not draw therefrom the same conclusions against the greatness of man, because it is against his will. And if we make ourselves sneeze we do so against our will. It is not in view of the act itself, but for another end, and so it is not a mark of the weakness of man, and of his slavery to that act.

Scaramouch, who thinks of one thing only.

The doctor, who speaks for a quarter of an hour after he has said all he has to say, so full is he of the desire of talking.

The parrot's beak, which he dries though it is clean already.

The sense of falseness in present pleasures, and our ignorance of the vanity of absent pleasures, are the causes of inconstancy.

He no longer loves the person he loved ten years ago. I can well believe it. She is no longer the same, nor is he. He was young, and so was she; she is quite different. He would perhaps love her still were she what she then was.

(not wisons, se en ch them, we begin to see beyond.

Reasons, seen from afar, appear to restrict our view, but

We look at things not only from other sides, but with other eyes, and care not to find them alike.

Diversity is ample, as all tones of the voice, all modes of walking, coughing, blowing the nose, sneezing. We distinguish different kinds of vine by their fruit, and name them the Condrieu, the Desargues, and this stock. But is this all? Has a vine ever produced two bunches exactly alike, and has a bunch ever two grapes alike? etc.

I never can judge of the same thing exactly in the same way. I cannot judge of my work while engaged on it. I must do as the painters, stand at a distance, but not too far. How far, then? Guess.

Diversity.-Theology is a science; but at the same time. how many sciences! Man is a whole, but if we dissect him, will man be the head, the heart, the stomach, the veins, each vein, each portion of a vein, the blood, each humour of the blood?

A town, a champaign, is from afar a town and a champaign; but as we approach there are houses, trees, tiles, leaves, grass, emmets, limbs of emmets, in infinite series. All this is comprised under the word champaign.

We like to see the error, the passion of Cleobuline, because she is not aware of it. She would be displeasing if she were not deceived.

What a confusion of judgment is that, by which every one puts himself above all the rest of the world, and loves his own advantage and the duration of his happiness or his life above those of all others.

D

DIVE

DIVERSION.

IVERSION.-When I have set myself now and then to consider the various distractions of men, the toils and dangers to which they expose themselves in the court or the camp, whence arise so many quarrels and passions, such daring and often such evil exploits, etc., I have discovered that all the misfortunes of men arise from one thing only, that they are unable to stay quietly in their own chamber./A man who has enough to live on, if he knew how to dwell with pleasure in his own home, would not leave it for sea-faring or to besiege a city. An office in the army would not be bought so dearly but that it seems insupportable not to stir from the town, and people only seek conversation and amusing games because they cannot remain with pleasure in their own homes.

But upon stricter examination, when, having found the cause of all our ills, I have sought to discover the reason of it, I have found one which is paramount, the natural evil of our weak and mortal condition, so miserable that nothing can console us when we think of it attentively.

Whatever condition we represent to ourselves, if we bring to our minds all the advantages it is possible to possess, Royalty is the finest position in the world. Yet, when we imagine a king surrounded with all the conditions which he can desire, if he be without diversion, and be allowed to consider and examine what he is, this feeble happiness will never sustain him; he will necessarily fall into a foreboding of maladies which threaten him, of revolutions which may arise, and lastly, of death and inevitable diseases; so that if he be without what is called diversion he is unhappy,

and more unhappy than the humblest of his subjects who plays and diverts himself.

Hence it comes that play and the society of women, war, and offices of state, are so sought after. Not that there is in these any real happiness, or that any imagine true bliss to consist in the money won at play, or in the hare which is hunted; we would not have these as gifts. We do not seek an easy and peaceful lot which leaves us free to think of our unhappy condition, nor the dangers of war, nor the troubles of statecraft, but seek rather the distraction which amuses us, and diverts our mind from these thoughts.

Hence it comes that men so love noise and movement, hence it comes that a prison is so horrible a punishment, hence it comes that the pleasure of solitude is a thing incomprehensible. And it is the great subject of happiness in the condition of kings, that all about them try incessantly to divert them, and to procure for them all manner of pleasures.

The king is surrounded by persons who think only how to divert the king, and to prevent his thinking of self. For he is unhappy, king though he be, if he think of self.

That is all that human ingenuity can do for human happiness. And those who philosophise on the matter, and think men unreasonable that they pass a whole day in hunting a hare which they would not have bought, scarce know our nature. The hare itself would not free us from the view of death and our miseries, but the chase of the, hare does free us. Thus, when we make it a reproach that what they seek with such eagerness cannot satisfy them, if they answered as on mature judgment they should do, that they sought in it only violent and impetuous occupation to turn their thoughts from self, and that therefore they made choice of an attractive object which charms and ardently attracts them, they would leave their adversaries without a reply. But they do not so answer because they do not know themselves; they do not know they seek the chase and not the quarry.

They fancy that were they to gain such and such an office they would then rest with pleasure, and are unaware of the insatiable nature of their desire. They believe they

are honestly seeking repose, but they are only seeking agitation.

They have a secret instinct prompting them to look for diversion and occupation from without, which arises from the sense of their continual pain. They have another secret instinct, a relic of the greatness of our primitive nature, teaching them that happiness indeed consists in rest, and not in turmoil. And of these two contrary instincts a confused project is formed within them, concealing itself from their sight in the depths of their soul, leading them to aim at rest through agitation, and always to imagine that they will gain the satisfaction which as yet they have not, if by surmounting certain difficulties which now confront them, they may thereby open the door to rest.

Thus rolls all our life away. We seek repose by resistance to obstacles, and so soon as these are surmounted, repose becomes intolerable. For we think either on the miseries we feel or on those we fear. And even when we seem sheltered on all sides, weariness, of its own accord, will spring from the depths of the heart wherein are its natural roots, and fill the soul with its poison.

The counsel given to Pyrrhus to take the rest of which he was going in search through so many labours, was full of difficulties.

A gentleman sincerely believes that the chase is a great, and even a royal sport, but his whipper-in does not share his opinion.

Dancing. We must think where to place our feet.

But can you say what object he has in all this? The pleasure of boasting to-morrow among his friends that he has played better than another. Thus others sweat in their closets to prove to the learned world that they have solved an algebraical problem hitherto insoluble, while many more expose themselves to the greatest perils, in my judgment as foolishly, for the glory of taking a town. Again, others kill themselves, by their very application to

[ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »