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Things which have the greatest hold on us, as the concealing our small possessions, are often a mere nothing. It is a nothing which our imagination magnifies into a mountain, another turn of imagination would make us discover its nothingness without difficulty.
Two faces which resemble each other, neither of which alone causes our laughter, make us laugh, when together, by their resemblance.
Children who are frightened at the face they have daubed are mere children, but how shall one who is so weak when a child grow truly strong as he grows old? We only change our fancies.
All that is brought to perfection by progress perishes also by progress. All that has been weak can never be absolutely strong. It is in vain to say, He has grown, he has changed." He is also the same.
My fancy makes me hate a man who breathes hard when he is eating. Fancy has great weight. Will you profit by yielding to this weight because it is natural? No; but by resisting it.
Prejudice leading into error.-It is a deplorable thing to see all men deliberating on means alone, and not on the end. Every man thinks how he may acquit himself in his condition, but as for the choice of condition or of country, chance gives them to us.
It is a pitiable thing, to see so many Turks, heretics and infidels, follow the way of their fathers for the simple reason that each has been told it is the best. And that fixes for each man his condition, locksmith, soldier, etc.
Therefore savages would care nothing for Provence.
Ferox gens, nullam esse vitam sine armis rati. They love death rather than peace, other men love death rather than
Every opinion may be held in preference to life, of which the love seems so strong and so natural.
Thoughts.-All is one, all is diverse. How many natures in that of man, how many vocations! And by what a chance does each man take ordinarily what he has heard praised. A well turned heel.
The heel of a slipper.-How well this is turned, here is a clever workman, how brave is this soldier! Such is the source of our inclinations and of the choice of conditions. How much this man drinks, how little that man! That is what makes men sober or drunken, soldiers, cowards, etc.
Glory.-Admiration spoils everything from infancy. How well said, how well done, how clever he is! etc.
The children of Port Royal, who are not urged with this spur of envy and glory, become careless.
Glory. The brutes have no admiration for each other. A horse does not admire his companion. Not but that they have their rivalries in a race, but that entails no consequences, for once in the stable the heaviest and most ill-formed does not yield his oats to another, as men would expect from others in their own case. Their virtue is satisfied with itself.
First degree: to be blamed for doing evil, and praised for doing good. Second degree: to be neither praised nor blamed.
Brave deeds are most estimable when hidden. When I see some of these in history they please me much. But after all they have not been wholly hidden, since they have become known. And though all has been done to hide them that could be done, the little whereby they have appeared has spoiled all, for what was finest in them was the desire to hide them.
We are not content with the life we have in ourselves
and in our own being, we wish to live an imaginary life in the idea of others, and to this end we strive to make a Good show We labour incessantly to embellish and preserve this imaginary being, and we neglect the true. And if we have either calmness, generosity, or fidelity, we hasten to let it be known, that we may attach these virtues to that imaginary being; we would even part with them for this end, and gladly become cowards for the reputation of valour. It is a great mark of the nothingness of our own being that we are not satisfied with the one without the other, and that we often renounce one for the other. For he would be infamous who would not die to preserve his honour.
Vocations. The sweetness of glory is so great that join it to what we will, even to death, we love it.
Evil is easy, and its forms are infinite; good is almost unique. But a certain kind of evil is as difficult to find as what is called good; and often on this account this particular kind of evil gets passed off as good. There is even needed an extraordinary greatness of soul to attain to it as well as to good.
We are so presumptuous that we would fain be known by the whole world, even by those who shall come after, when we are no more. And we are such triflers that the esteem of five or six persons about us diverts and contents/
Kanity is so anchored in the heart of man that a soldier,
a camp-follower, a cook, a porter makes his boasts, and is for having his admirers; even philosophers wish for them. Those who write against it, yet desire the glory of having written well, those who read, desire the glory of having read; I who write this have, may be, this desire, and per. haps those who will read it.
In towns through which we pass we care not whether men esteem us, but we do care if we have to live there any
time. How long is needed? A time in proportion to our vain and fleeting life.
The condition of man; inconstancy, weariness, unrest.
Whoever will know fully the vanity of man has but to consider the causes and the effects of love. The cause is an unknown quantity, and the effects are terrible. This unknown quantity, so small a matter that we cannot recognise it, moves a whole country, princes, armies, and all the world.
Cleopatra's nose: had it been shorter, the face of the world had been changed.
Nothing better shows the frivolity of man than to consider what are the causes and what the effects of love, for all the universe is changed by them. Cleopatra's nose.
Frivolity. The cause and the effects of love. Cleopatra.
Pride is a counterpoise, and turns the scale against all woes. Here is a strange monster, a very visible aberration. Behold him fallen from his place, and anxiously seeking it. That is what all men do. Let us see who has found it.
Contradiction. Pride is a counterpoise to all miseries. Man either conceals them, or if he display them, glories in the knowledge of them.
Of the desire of being esteemed by those with whom we are. -Pride has a natural possession of us in the midst of our miseries, errors, etc. We can even lose our life with joy, if men will but talk of it.
Vanity, play, hunting, visiting, false pretences, a lasting
Pride. Curiosity is mere frivolity. For the most part we want to know only for the sake of talking. People would not make voyages if they were never to speak of them, for the sole pleasure of seeing, without hope of ever communicating their impressions.
OF JUSTICE CUSTOMS AND
N what shall man found the economy of the world which he would fain govern? If on the caprice of each man, all is confusion. If on justice, man is ignorant of it.
Certainly had he known it, he would not have established the maxim, most general of all current among men, that every one must conform to the manners of his own country; the splendour of true equity would have brought all nations into subjection, and legislators would not have taken as their model the fancies and caprice of Persians and Germans instead of stable justice. We should have seen it established in all the States of the world, in all times, whereas now we see neither justice nor injustice which does not change its quality upon changing its climate. Three degrees of latitude reverse all jurisprudence, a meridian decides what is truth, fundamental laws change after a few years of possession, right has its epochs, the entrance of Saturn into the Lion marks for us the origin of such and such a crime. That is droll justice which is bounded by a stream! Truth on this side of the Pyrenees, error on that.
It is admitted that justice is not in these customs, but that it resides in natural laws common to every country. This would no doubt be maintained with obstinacy if the rash chance which has disseminated human laws had lighted upon even one that is universal, but the singularity of the matter is that owing to the vagaries of human caprice there is not one.