Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

i. e. Ajax was always Brave, but most when Mad.

Neither do we encounter the Wicked and the Enemy vigorously enough, if we be not angry •, nay, the Advocate is to inspire the Judges with Indignation, to obtain Justice.

Strong Desires animated Themistocles and Demostbents, and they put the Philosophers upon Watch- jrre.-uiar par. ing, Fasting, and Pilgrimages i and they lead ju,„s "animate us to Honour, Learning, and Health, which and accompany are all very useful Ends: And this Mean- *teTMftjtiTMg ness of Soul, while it suffers Vexation and "***' Trouble, serves to breed Penitency and Repentance in the Conscience, and to make us sensible of the Scourge of God, and of political Correction for the Chastisement of our Offences: Compassion is a Spur to Clemency and Prudence; and the Prudence of preserving and governing ourselves is roused by our Fear; and how many brave Actions by Ambition? How many by Presumption? Finally, there is no eminent and sprightly Virtue, without some irregular Agitation.

Was it not one of the Reasons that moved the Epicureans to discharge God from all Care and „„ «'» .. Sollicitude of our Affairs, because even the cureans'dis' Effects of his Goodness could not be exer- charged the ciscd in our Behalf, without disturbing his Divinity/rem Repose, by the Means of the Passions, which a^ud Qf are so many Incentives, like Spurs, to prick on the Soul to virtuous Actions? Or, did they think otherwise, and take them for Tempests, that shamefully hurry the Soul from her Tranquillity? 5 Ut marts tranr quillitas intelligitur, nulla, ne minima quidem, aura fiufius commovente: Sic animi quietus et placatus status cernitury quiim perturbatio nulla est qua tnoveri queat. As it is understood to be a calm Sea, when there is not the least Breath of the Air stirring; so the State of the Soul is discerned to be quiet and placid, when there is no Perturbation to move it.

Y 4 What

• Cic.Tusc. lib. v. c. 6.

What Variety of Sentiments and Reason, what ContraWhat Efefis "ety °f Imaginations does the Diversity of are owing to our Passions inspire us with? What Aflutht Diversity rance then can we take of a Thing so mobile tfourPajsicns. andunstaWc> subject, by its Condition, to the Dominion of Trouble, and never going other than a forced and borrowed Pace? If our Judgment be in the Power even of Sickness and Perturbation; if it be from Folly and Temerity, that it is held to receive the Impression of Things; what Security can we expect from it? 'Ts it not a great Boldness in Philosophy to judge, that The natural ^en perform tne greatest Actions, and nearWays of En- est approaching the Divinity, when they are trance mo the Furious, Mad, and beside themselves? As Cabinet of the we were the better for being deprived of our Reason, by its being stupified. The two natural Ways to enter into the Cabinet of the Gods, and there to foresee the Course of Destiny, are Fury and Sleep. This is pleasant to consider: By the Dislocation that the Passions cause in our Reason, we become Virtuous: By its Extirpation, occasioned by Madness, or by Sleep, the Image of Death, we become Diviners and Prophets. I •was never so willing to believe Philosophy in any Thing, as this. 'Tis a pure Enthusiasm, wherewith Sacred Truth has inspired the Spirit of Philosophy, which makes it confess, contrary to its own Proposition, that the calm, composed, and most healthful Estate of the Soul, that Philosophy can seat it in, is not its best Condition: Our Waking is more a Sleep, than Sleep itself; our Wisdom not so Wise as Folly; our Dreams are worth more than our Meditations; and the worst Place we can take is in ourselves. But does not Philosophy think, that we are Wise enough to consider, that the Voice which the Spirit utters, when dismissed from Man, so clear-sighted, so great and so perfect, and, whilst it is in Man, so terrestrial, ignorant, and dark, is a Voice proceeding from the Spirit of a dark, terrestrial, and ignorant Man, and, for this Reason, a Voice not to be trusted and believed?

I have

I have no great Experience of these vehement Agitations, (being of a soft and heavy Complexion) the most of which surprise the Soul, on a sud- ZnfaTMtht den, without giving it Leisure to recollect paffion ef itself: But the Passion, that is said to be pro- Love has ever duced, by Idleness, in the Hearts of young '*£. Human Men, though it proceed leisurely, and with a moderate Progress, does evidently manifest, to those who have tried to oppose its Power, the Violence our Judgment suffers in this Alteration and Conversion. I have formerly attempted to withstand and repel it: For I am so far from being one of those who invite Vices, that I do not so much as follow them, if they do not drag me along: I perceived it to spring, grow, and increase in Spite of my Resistance; and, at last, though my Eyes were open, it wholly seized and possessed me; so that, as if newly roused from Drunkenness, the Images of Things began to appear, to me, quite other than they were wont to be: I evidently saw the Person, I desired, grow and increase in Advantages of Beauty, and to expand and blow fairer by the Influence of my Imagination •, and, as the Difficulties of my Attempt grew more easy and smooth, both my Reason and Conscience drew back: But, this Fire being evaporated in an Instant, as a Flash of Lightning, my Soul resumed another kind of Sight, another State, and another Judgment. The Difficulties of my Retreat appeared great and invincible, and the fame Things had quite another Taste and Aspect, than the Heat of Desire had presented them to me •, than which Pyrrho himself knows nothing more truly: We are never without Sickness; Agues have their hot and cold Fits •, from the Effects of an ardent Passion, we fall again to those of a shivering one: As much as I had advanced, so much I retired.

Qualis ubi alterno procurrens gurgite pontus,
Nunc ruit ad terras scopulisque superjacit undam,
Spumeus, extremamque finu perfundit arenam:
Nunc rapidus retro, atque <estu revoluta resorbens
Saxa fugit, Uttusque vado labente relinquit'.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

.. i. e.

So swelling Surges, with a thund'ring Roar,
Driv'n on each other's Backs, insult the Shoar j
Bound o'er the Rocks, incroach upon the Land,
And from the Bottom throw up Shoals of Sand j
Then backward, rapidly, they take their Way,
Rolling the rattling Pebbles to the Sea. ,s

Now, from the Knowledge of thisVolubility of mine, I have
Wk Mo accidentally begot, in myself, a certain Con-

taigne did mt stancy of Opinions, and have not much altereasily embrace ed those that were first and natural in me: Novel Oj>i- por> what Appearance soever there may be in ttimis. Novelty, I do not easily change, for Fear of

losing by the Bargain; and, besides, I am not capable of chusing; I take other Men's Choice, and continue in the Station wherein God has placed me •, I could not otherwise keep myself from perpetual Rolling. Thus have I, by the Grace of God, preserved myself intire, in the ancient Tenets of our Religion, without Disturbance of Mind, or Trouble of Conscience, amidst so many Sects and Divisions* as our Age has produced. The Writings of the Anc^nts, the best Authors, I mean, being full and solid, tempt, and carry me, which Way almost they will: He, that I am reading, seems always to have the most Force, and I find that every one, in Turn, has Reason, tho' they contradict one another. The Facility that good Wits have of rendering every Thing likely they would recommends and there being nothing so strange, to which they do not undertake to give Colour enough to deceive such a Simplicity as mine; this does evidently shew the Weakness of their Testimony. The Heaven and the Stars have been Three thousand Years in Motion, and all the World were of that Belief, till " Cleantbes the Samian, or (according

to

0 Plutarch, in his Treatise of the Face that appears in the Moon'* Orb, C- 4.. where he feys, that Aristarchui was of Opinion, that the Grecians ought to have brought Cleantbes, of Samos, to Justice, and to have condemned him for Blasphemy against the Gods, for giving out, that the Heavens remained jmmoveable, and. that it was the Earth which moved through the oblique ftrcle of the Zodiac turning round its own Axis, But, as it appears elsewhere where, that Aristarchns, of Samos, did believe the Earth's Motion, there must be some Mistake in this Place, as is the Opinion of Menage, who, by a lit—tie Variation only of Plutarcb'i Text, makes him fay, not that Arijtarcbm meant to accuse Ckanthes of Impiety, for having maintained the Earth's Motion; but that, on the contrary, Cleanthes would have imputed it to A* ristarchus, as a Crime. See Menage, in his Commentary upon Diogenes, Jib. viii. sect. 85. p. 388, 389. * Lucret. lib. v. v. 1275, &e.

to theopbrastus) Nicetas, of Syracusa, bethought himself to maintain, that it was the Earth which moved about its Axis thro' the oblique Circle of the Zodiac. And Copernicus has, in our Time, so grounded this Doctrine, that he very regularly makes Use of it for all Astrological Consequences. What can we infer from it, but that we ought not much to care which is the true Opinion? And •who knows but that a third, a thousand Years hence, may rife, and overthrow the two former?

Sic vohenda atas commutat tempora rerum,
Quod suit in pretio, Jit nullo denique honore,
Porro aliud juccedit, et e contemptibus exit,
Iuque dies magis appetitur, floretque repertum
Laudibus, et miro est mortales inter honore v.

i. e.

Thus ev'ry Thing is chang'd by Time's Rotation,
What once had Credit, soon grows out of Fashion }
To which some other Thing, despis'd before,
Succeeds, and grows in Vogue still more and more;
And, once receiv'd, all Praise too little seems,
So highly it is rais'd in Men's Esteems.

So that, when any new Doctrine presents itself to us, we have great Reason to mistrust it; and to why ne=w Oconfider, that, before that was set on foot, pinions are tt the contrary had been generally received; be distrusted. and that, as that has been overthrown by this, a third Invention may start up in Time to come, and AristotleV damn the second. Before the Principles that Principles in Aristotle introduced, were in Reputation, other ^?«f» Principles contented human' Reason, as these satisfy us now. What Patent have these Opinions, what particular Privilege, that the Career of our Invention must be

stopped

« AnteriorContinuar »