Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

me, in loving and serving thee! But scarcely had I proceeded from thy forming hand, when a fatal enchantment deluded my understanding, and corrupted my heart. Ignorance and error have made me forget my duties to thee, and have disguised them. This I confess with forrow: and I come, prostrate at thy feet, to implore thy clemency, and to sue for pardon. Enslaved by luft and pleasure, I have followed their impulse, and the cares and perplexities of the world have occupied and divided a heart, which I ought to have kept for thee alone.- O God, who art invisible,-0 God, who art eternal-Hold out to me an arm of succour, and bring me back entirely to thyself.”

Besides this prayer, and several others, equally rational, and recommendable for their beautiful finplicity, there are moral maxims, and portraits in this work, which must give a very favourable opinion of Chumontou, and the other Indian philosophers, who think as he does. But these lines of wisdom are tarnished by the practices and ceremonies that accompany them, and which, though designed to aflilt and perfect the habit of meditation, only serve to nourish a mystical indolence and apathy. Such, among others, is their method of acquiring a divine light, by pronouncing the word oum, the signal for sus. pending every operation of the external senses, and even refpiration itself, as far as that is possible, that the mind may be concentrated in the contemplation of the Deity. It is in consequence of these meditations, which are the great business of the contemplative philosophers among the Indians, that one of them passed nine years with his eyes fixed upon a wall. Some of these dreamers fit cross-legged with their eyes directed towards the point of the nose, pronouncing certain mysterious words, and they imagine, that they perceive a white spot, after they have been, for some time, in this attitude, and this spot they call the Divine Light. This estrangement from all things external, produces an apathy, which, according to them, identi fies the soul with the Deity, from whose essence it originally proceeded.

It is certain that this work gives a much fuller and clearer account of the religious doctrine of the Indians than any of the relations of travellers that have visited that country. Among other things, the doctrines of the philosophers (among whom fome are materialists and pantheilts), the different orders of the Brahmins, the mansions of the pretended deities, are circumftantially described ; but the Author of the Ezour-Vedam teaches positively the unity of God. He considers Vischnou as born from the right side of Adimo, the firft man, and ail the other gods as mortals; and, at the same time, he falls into all the myftical absurdities of the contemplative philosophers. This seat, notwithstanding their great pretensions to fanctity, is disfigured by

a multi

a multitude of hypocrites, and some travellers represent the greatest part of them as a profligate banditti. Upon the whole, it still appears to us, that pantheism and transmigration are the great lines of the Indian theology and philosophy.

The learned notes and illustrations which the Baron DE ST. Croix has subjoined to this translation of the Ezour-Pedam, explain several points of the Indian theology, that have been hitherto but imperfectly understood; but much yet remains to be done in this matter; nor shall we be able fully to appreciate the pretended merit of the Indian philosophers (if they deserve that name), until a greater number of their works be published; and more especially until we are better acquainted with the history of India, which alone can inform us of the part these pretended fages have acted under the monarchs and princes of that vast region.

ART. V. Ozuvres de Blaise Pascal.-The Works of Blaise Pascal. 5 Vols. 8vo. •

Paris and the Hague. 1779. D ASCAL was certainly one of the greatest geniuses of the

P last century. He was a mathematician of the firft order, a profound dialectician, and a writer equally diftinguished by the sublimity of his ideas, the force and sweetness of his elo. quence, and the easy and flowing amenity of his wit and plea. fantry; and all there happy talents were consecrated to the feryice of religion, philosophy, and virtue. It is, therefore, but just to consider this edition of his works, in which they are collected for the first time, as a valuable present to letters and to philosophy. Several of his excellent productions have hitherto remained in manuscript : fome (of which but a small number of copies were printed) were become exceedingly rare, and would, in a little time, have been lost to the Public, had they not been redeemed from oblivion by the present collection. In this number we must reckon particularly his mathematical works, which, though they have no more the merit of novelty, will still be interesting, as they carry the strong lines of inventive genius, and exhibit its procedure in the pursuit of evidence, and in the investigation of truth. It is well known that PASCAL had extended and improved considerably she theory of . conic sections, and had discovered several of their properties that were unknown to the ancients; and it is to be lamented that the treatises which contained these discoveries, and several others relative to mathematical science, have been lost.

The learned Editor to whom we are indebted for this colJection, has prefixed to it a life of Pascal; who, as he lived in one of the hotteft periods of theological contest, as he was one of the combatants, and was too great a man to be viewed

without

without prejudice by the contending parties, has been drawn in colours, more or less fallacious by his friends and by his ad. versaries. He had, indeed, such distinguished merit, that it was not easy for his friend's (the Jansenists) to say too much in his behalf; they praised him, however, without judgment or taste : they celebrated only his theological learning and zeal, and the austerity of his manners, which he carried to a length that was, in our opinion, reprehensible; and they said little of his wit, his genius, and that philosophical fpirit (if we may use that expreffion) which so eminently raised him above the fpirit of the time. On the other hand, the Jefuits and Molinifts would scarcely allow him virtues or talents : they viewed him always with an eye of jealousy and resentment, on account of his attachment to the literari of Port-Royal, and the pointed logic, seasoned with Attic salt, that he had levelled against their ways and means. In a word, Infidels regarded him as an auftere enthusiast; believers as an unparalleled genius : and as there was no party of which he was not either the defender or the adversary, his merit has been seldom estimated with impartiality. The ingenious Editor of his works has here drawn him to the life ; and the portrait has a truly noble and interefting aspect. • We are first presented, in this collection, with the famous Provincial Letters, occafioned by the contests between the Jesuits and Jansenists. Voltaire, who was rather the detractor than ad. mirer of PASCAL, acknowledges that the best comedies of Mo. liere were less witty than one part of these letters, and the most maiterly compositions of Balluet less sublime than the other.

Though they were written on subjects of a theological kind, and particularly upon the religious disputes concerning the efficacy of Divine Grace, they were read by people of all ranks and orders, and were the subject of conversation and applause in all the gay and fashionable circles throughout the kingdom. The Jesuits were overwhelmed with ridicule, in these incomparable letters, 'which have survived that order; and though their object exists no more, they are still fresh in the esteem and admiration of the Public. It is very remarkable, that the style and the tone of pleasantry and eloquence, that animate them, bear all the marks of a modern production, notwithstanding the changes that the French language has undergone fince that time. This, says the Editor, is the first work of genius, that we have in prole; its publication fixed the standard of the French language : there is not one word in thein, which, during the course of a century, has lost its ground, by the alterations that so often affect living languages.'

These letters are immediately followed in this collection by the Pensées, or Thoughts of PASCAL.-It is well known that this

great

great man, towards the end of his life, had formed the design of composing a large work on the subject of religion. With this view he chrew upon paper, from time to time, the ideas that occurred to him on this important subject; but an untimely death prevented the execution of his design. The fcattered thoughts were collected by Mefieurs de Port-Royal, who published such of them as suited their taste, and seemed adapted to serve the cause of religion ; rejecting, at the time, a great number that were nevertheless worthy of being preserved from oblivion. It happened luckily that the original manuscripts remained in the hands of the Abbé Perier, PASCAL's nephew; and it is from an exact copy of these, that the Thoughts are published complete, and without any retrenchments in this edition. Some of these thoughts may appear exceptionable ; but such of them were certainly committed to writing, in order to be refuted as objections that entered into the plan of his work: for several of them are taken from Montaigne and other authors. They are here divided into two parts. The first contains those that are relative to philosophy, morality, and literature: the second, those that relate to religion : they were all designed to enter into the construction of PASCAL's great work, the plan of which seems to have been bold and extensive. The Provincial Letters and the Thoughts occupy the two first volumes of this work ; and the third is taken up with controversial pieces relative to Jansenism and Molinism, which we pass over.

The two last volumes of this collection contain the mathema. tical works of Pascal, which are the least known to the Pub. lic, and the most esteemed by the learned. They, indeed, bear evident signatures of his astonishing genius. The first production we meet with in the fourth volume is his Treatise of Conic Sections, which he composed at the age of fixteen. At the age of nineteen he invented that admirable machine, which furnishes an easy and expeditious method of making all sorts of arithme. tical calculations, without any other assistance than the eye and the hand : this machine has been accurately described in the first volume of the French ENCYCLOPEDIE, and this description is inserted in the present collection. This is followed by the New Experiments on the Vacuum, which Pascal made, after having repeated those of Torricelli, which led him to such dira coveries with respect to the weight of the air and its influence in the suspension of water in pumps, and mercury in tubes, as excited the envy of his cotemporaries, and even of Descartes himself. We see in these inquiries, observes our learned Editor, a remarkable instance of the flow procedure of the human mind in the pursuit of truth, and the improvement of know, Jedge. Galilæi had proved the weight or gravity of the air : , Torricelli had conjectured that this weight, by its pressure, occa

fioned

: his expat wha Chapumps and of

Joned the fufpenfion of water in pumps and of mercury in tubes ; but it was Pascal who changed this conjecture into demonstration : his experiments on the weight of the air led him to examine the general laws, to which the equilibrium of üuids is subjected.

Tbefe researches are all that remain of the labours of PASCAL in natural pbilosophy.

PASCAL's arithmetical triangle is a truly original invention, of which the honour belongs to him alone. This treatise, 10gecher with his inquiries into the properties of numbers, and other pieces relative to this subject, were found printed among This papers after his death, but had never been published before now, that they make a part of the fifth volume. The treatise De la Roulette, and a history of the researches and discoveries it occasioned, are the last productions of PASCAL; to these are. fubjoined all the pieces, relative to that subject, that could be found, and which consist of several letters written by him and other learned men. PASCAL's inquiries on this subject are, even at this day, ranked among the noblest efforts of the human understanding; and he had only one step to make to arrive at a differential and an integral calculus. He died in the 39th year of his age.

At the age of 18, Pascal felt the first attacks of that disorder, which was the occasion of his death. He was heard to say, that during the course of 20 years he had not pailed a singie day without pain ; yet this perpetual state of suffering neither diminished his resignation and patience, nor relaxed his zeal for the advancement of science, to which he consecrated every moment that the temporary cessation of his pains allowed him to employ in study,

ART. VI.
Nouveaux Memoires de l Academie Royale des Sciences & Belles-Lettres,

1776.- New Memoirs of the Royal Academy of Sciences and
Rilles-Lettres of Berlin (Continued from our last Appendix).
Berlin. 4to. 1779.
THE last Memoir in the class of Speculative Philofophy is

that of the late Dom PERNETY, Concerning the Infinience of natural Causes an the Mind of Man. This piece is curious and entertaining :--for though Dom PERNETY was not a deep philofopher, nor a rigorous dialectician, yet he was an attentive observer of men and things; and as he pofTefled å lively fancy, his combinations are almost always entertaining, and sometimes instructive. The subject before us has been often treated in a general point of view; and no thinking man doubts of the inHuence which the connection of human nature with a material world must give to physical causes and objects upon the con

Ititution

« AnteriorContinuar »