Imatges de pÓgina
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"From your own house of glass do not ? nearer the moon approaches its perigee, throw stones at those of your neigh- the higher the tide still rises. These exbours."

periences and various others, these inThey were the Jews who were at that variable correspondences with the phases very time, carried off in slavery to Ba- of the moon, were the foundation of the bylon. It was the good Jeremiah him ancient and just opinion, that that body self who was accused of being bribed by is a principal cause of the flux and reflux the court of Babylon, and of having con- of the ocean. sequently prophesied in his favour. It After numerous centuries appeared the was he who was the object of public great Newton-Are you at all acquainted scorn and hatred, and who it is thought { with Newton? Did you ever hear, that ended his career by being stoned to death after calculating the square of the proby the Jews themselves. This Jeremiah, gress of the moon in its orbit during the be assured from me, was never before space of a minute, and dividing that understood to be a joker.

square by the diameter of that orbit, he The God of the Jews, I again repeat, } found the quotient to be fifteen feet ? that is the God of all nature. I expressly { he thence demonstrated that the moon make this repetition that you may have gravitates towards the earth three thouno ground for pretending ignorance of it, sand six hundred times less than if she and that you may not accuse me before were near the earth ? that he afterwards the ecclesiastical court. I still, however, demonstrated that its attractive force is assert and maintain, that the stupid Jews the cause of three-fourths of the elevation frequently knew no other God than a of the sea by the tide, and that the force local one.

of the sun is the cause of the remaining “ It is not natural to attribute the tides fourth? You appear perfectly astonished. to the phases of the moon. They are You never read anything like this in the not the high tides which occur at the full “ Christian Pedagogue.” Endeavour, moon, that are ascribed to the phases of henceforward, both you and the porters that planet."

of your parish, never to speak about Here we see ignorance of a different things of which you have not even the description.

slightest idea. It occasionally happens that persons You can form no conception of the inof a certain description are so much jury you do to religion by your ignoashamed of the part they play in the rance, and still more by your reasonings. world, that they are desirous of disguising In order to preserve in the world the themselves sometimes as wits, and some- { little faith that remains in it, it would be times as philosophers.

the most judicious measure possible to In the first place, it is proper to inform restrain you, and such as you, from wriM. l'abbé, that nothing is more natural } ting and publishing in behalf of it. than to attribute an effect to that which I should absolutely make your astois always followed by this effect. If a nished eyes stare almost to starting, were particular wind is constantly followed by { I to inform you, that this same Newton rain, it is natural to attribute the rain to { was persuaded that Samuel is the author the wind. Now, over all the shores of of the Pentateuch. I do not mean to the ocean, the tides are always higher in say that he demonstrated it in the same the moon's “syzygies,"—if you happen į way as he calculated and deduced the to know the meaning of the term,—than power of gravitation. Learn, then, to at its quarterings. The moon rises every 3 doubt and to be modest. I believe in day later ; the tide is also every day the Pentateuch, remember ; but I belater. The nearer the moon approaches { lieve also, that you have printed and our zenith, the greater is the tide; the published the most enormous absurdities.

SECTION II.

I could here transcribe a large volume while all matter gravitates towards a cenof instances of your own individual igo tre. Light appears to be penetrable, and norance and imbecility, and many of matter is impenetrable. Îs light matter, those of your brethren and colleagues. or is it not matter? What is it? With I shall not, however, take the trouble of what numberless properties can it be indoing it. Let us go on with our ques- vested ? I am completely ignorant. tions.

This substance so brilliant, so rapid, and so unknown, and those other sub

stances which float in the immensity of I am ignorant how I was formed, and space—seeming to be infinite, are they how I was born. I was perfectly igno- eternal ? I know nothing on the subject. rant, for a quarter of my life, of the rea- Has a necessary being, sovereignly intelsons of all that I saw, heard, and felt, ligent, created them from nothing, or has and was a mere parrot, talking by rote he only arranged them! Did he proin imitation of other parrots.

duce this order in time, or before time? When I looked about me and within Alas! what is this time, of which I am me, I conceived that something existed speaking ? I ain incapable of defining from all eternity. Since there are beings } it. O God, it is thou alone by whom I actually existing, I concluded that there can be instructed, for I am neither enis some being necessary and necessarily } lightened by the darkness of other men eternal. Thus the first step which I took nor by my own. to extricate myself from my ignorance,

Mice and moles have their resemoverpassed the limits of all ages—the blances of structure, in certain respects, boundaries of time.

to the human frame. What difference But when I was desirous of proceeding can it make to the Supreme Being whein this infinite career, I could neither per- ther animals like ourselves, or such as ceive a single path, nor clearly distinguish {mice exist, upon this globe revolving in a single object ; and from the flight which space with innumerable globes around it? I took to contemplate eternity, I have Why have we being ? Why are there fallen back into the abyss of my original } any beings ? ignorance.

What is sensation? How have I reI have seen what is denominated ceived it? What connection is there matter,' from the star Sirius, and the between the air which vibrates on my ear stars of the 'milky way' as distant from and the sensation of sound? between Sirius as that is from us, to the smallest this body and the sensation of colours ? atom that can be perceived by the mi- { I am perfectly ignorant, and shall ever croscope; and yet I know not what remain ignorant. matter is.

What is thought ? Where does it reLight, which has enabled me to see side? How is it formed? Who gives all these different and distant beings. is me thoughts during my sleep? Is it in perfectly unknown to me; I am able by virtue of my will that I think? No, for the help of a prism to anatomize this } always during sleep, and often when I light, and divide it into seven pencillings am awake, I have ideas against, or at of rays; but I cannot divide these pen- } least without, my will. These ideas, long cillings themselves; I know not of what forgotten, long put away, and banished they are composed. Light resembles in the lumber room of my brain, issue matter in having motion and impinging from it without any effort or volition of upon objects, but it does not tend to- į mine, and suddenly present themselves wards a common centre like all other to my memory, which had, perhaps prebodies; on the contrary it flies off by viously made various vain attempts to some invincible power from the centre, recal them.

SECTION I.

External objects have not the power of forming ideas in me, for nothing can

IMAGINATION. communicate what it does not possess ; I am well assured that they are not given me by myself, for they are produced

IMAGINATION is the power which every without my orders. Who then produces being, endowed with perception and reathem in me? Whence do they come ? ; son, is conscious he possesses of repreWhither do they go? Fugitive phan- } senting to himself sensible objects. This toms! What invisible hand produces faculty is dependent upon memory. We and disperses you ?

see men, animals, gardens, which perWhy, of all the various tribes of ani-ceptions are introduced by the senses ; mals, has man alone the mad ambition the memory retains them, and the imaof domineering over his fellow ?

gination compounds them. On this acWhy and how could it happen, that count the ancient Greeks called the out of a thousand millions of men, more muses, “ the daughters of memory.” than nine hundred and ninety-nine have It is of great importance to observe, been sacrificed to this mad ambition? that these faculties of receiving ideas, re

How is it that reason is a gift so pre- taining them, and compounding them, cious that we would none of us lose it ? are among the many things of which we for all the pomp or wealth of the world, can give no explanation. These invisible and yet at the same time that it has springs of our being are of nature's workmerely served to render us, in almost all manship, and not of our own. cases, the most miserable of beings ? Perhaps this gift of God, imagination,

Whence comes it, that with a passion is the sole instrument with which we ate attachment to truth, we are always compound idens, even those which are yielding to the most palpable impostures? | abstract and metaphysical.

Why do the vast tribes of India, de- You pronounce the word "triangle ;' ceived and enslaved by the bonzes, tram- but you merely utter a sound, if you do pled upon by the descendant of a Tartar, not represent to yourself the image of bowed down by labour, groaning in mi- some particular triangle.

You certainly sery, assailed by diseases, and a mark for have no idea of a triangle but in conseall the scourges and plagues of life, still quence of having seen triangles, if you fondly cling to that life?

? have the gift of sight, or of having felt Whence comes evil, and why does it them, if you are blind.

You cannot erist?

think of a triangle in general, unless your () atoms of a day! O companions in imagination figures to itself, at least in a littleness, born like me to suffer every- confused way, some particular triangle. thing, and be ignorant of everything! – You calculate; but it is necessary that are there in reality any among you so you should represent to yourself units completely mad as to imagine you know added to each other, or your mind will all this, or that you can solve all these be totally insensible to the operation of difficulties ? Certainly there can be none. your hand. No; in the bottom of your heart you

You utter the abstract terms-greatfeel your own nothingness, as completely ness, truth, justice, finite, infinite; but as I do justice to mine. But you are ne- is the term “greatness' thus uttered, anyFertheless arrogant and conceited enough { thing more or less, than a mere sound, to be eager for our embracing your vain from the action of your tongue, producing systems; and not having the power to vibrations in the air, unless you have the tyrannisé orer our bodies, you aim at } image of some greatness in your mind ? becoming the tyrants of our souls. What meaning is there in the words

truth' and “falsehood, if you have not

perceived, by means of your senses, that < attention, and you will then clearly dissome particular thing which you were cern, that these images are the foundatold existed, did exist in fact; and that tion of all the notions you possess. It another of which you were told the same, may be worth the reader's while to dwell did not exist ? And, is it not from this : a little upon this idea, to extend it, and experience, that you frame the general to rectify it. idea of truth and falsehood? And, when The celebrated Addison, in the eleven asked what you mean by these words, essays upon the imagination with which can you help figuring to yourself some he has enriched the volumes of the Specsensible image, occasioning you to recol- tator, begins with observing, that "the lect, that you have sometimes been told, sense of sight is the only one which furas a fact, what really and truly happened, nishes the imagination with ideas." Yet and very often what was not so ? certainly it must be allowed, that the

Have you any other notion of just and other senses contribute some share. A unjust, than what is derived from parti- man born blind still bears, in his imagicular actions, which appeared to you š nation, the harmony which no longer respectively of these descriptions? You vibrates upon his ear; he still continues began in your childhood by learning to { listening as in a trance or dream; the read under some master : you endea-objects which have resisted or yielded to voured to spell well, but you really spelt his hands produce a similar effect in his ill: your master chastised you : this ap- { head or mind. It is true that the sense peared to you very unjust. You have of sight alone supplies images ; and as it observed a labourer refused his wages, } is a kind of touching or feeling which und innumerable instances of the like extends even to the distance of the stars, nature. Is the abstract idea of just and its immense diffusion enriches the imaunjust anything more than facts of this gination more than all the other senses character confusedly mixed up in your put together. imagination ?

There are two descriptions of imaginaIs “finite' anything else in your con- tion; one consists in retaining a simple ception than the image of some limited {impression of objects ; the other arranges quantity or extent? Is 'infinite' any- the images received, and combines them thing but the image of the same extent or in endless diversity. The first has been quantity enlarged indefinitely? Do not called passive imagination, and the seall these operations take place in your cond active. The passive scarcely admind just in the same manner as you vances beyond memory and is common read a book? You read circumstances { to man and to animals. From this power and events recorded in it, and never or faculty it arises, that the sportsinan think at the time of the alphabetical cha- and his dog both follow the hunted game racters, without which however you in their dreams, that they both hear the would have no notion of these events and sound of the horn, and the one shouts circumstances. Attend to this point for and the other barks in their sleep. Both a single moment, and then you will dis- men and brutes do something more than tinctly perceive the essential importance recollect on these occasions, for dreams of those characters over which your eye are never faithful and accurate images. previously glided without thinking of This species of imagination compounds them. In the same manner all your objects, but it is not the understanding reasonings, all your accumulations of which acts in it; it is the memory la- . knowledge are founded on images traced bouring under error. in your brain. You have, in general, This passive imagination certainly reno distinct perception or recollection of quires no assistance from volition, whethem; but give the case only a moment's įther we are asleep or awake; it paints,

independently of ourselves, what our eyes } by demons, that they are under the inhave seen, it hears what our ears have fernal dominion of witchcraft, and that heard, and touches what we have touched; } they are in reality going to unite with it adds to it or takes from it. It is an { sorcerers in the worship of the devil, beinternal sense, acting necessarily, and ac- } cause they have been told that they were cordingly there is nothing more common, going to do so. This species of slavish in speaking of any particular individual, imagination, which generally is the lot of than to say, “ he has no command over ignorant people, has been the instrument his imagination."

which the imagination of some men has In this respect we cannot but see, and employed to acquire and retain power. be astonished at, the slight share of power It is, moreover, this passive imagination we really possess. Whence comes it, that of brains easily excited and agitated, occasionally in dreams we compose the which sometimes produces on the bodies most coherent and eloquent discourses, { of children evident marks of the impresand verses far superior to what we should sion received by the mother ; examples write on the same subject if perfectly of this kind are indeed innumerable, and awake ?—that we even solve complicated the writer of this article has seen some so problems in mathematics? Here cer- striking, that, were he to deny them, he tainly there are very combined and com- must contradict his own ocular demonplex ideas in no degree dependent on stration. This effect of imagination is ourselves. But if it is incontestible that incapable of being explained ; but every coherent ideas are formed within us in- other operation of nature is equally so; dependently of our will in sleep, who can we have no clearer idea how we have safely assert that they are not produced perceptions, how we retain them, or how in the same manner when we are awake? we combine them. There is an infinity is there a man living who foresees the between us and the springs or first prinidea which he will form in his mind the ciples of our nature. ensuing minute? Does it not seem as if } Active imagination is that which joins ideas were given to us as much as the combination and reflection to memory. motions of our fibres; and had father It brings near to us many objects at a Malebranche merely maintained the prin- distance; it separates those mixed tocple, that all ideas are given by God, { gether, compounds them, and changes could any one have successfully opposed them; it seems to create, while in fact it him?

merely arranges : for it has not been This passive faculty, independent of given to man to make ideas-he is only reflection, is the source of our passions able to modify them. and our errors ; far from being dependent This active imagination then is in reality on the will, the will is determined by it. a faculty as independent of ourselves as It urges us towards the objects which it passive imagination; and one proof of paints before us, or diverts us from them, its not depending upon ourselves is, that just according to the nature of the exhi- } if we propose to a hundred persons, bition thus made of them by it. The equally ignorant, to imagine a certain image of a danger inspires fear ; that of new machine, ninety-nine of them will s benefit excites desire. It is this faculty form no imagination at all about it, notalone which produces the enthusiasm of withstanding all their endeavours. If the glory, of party, of fanaticism; it is this hundredth imagines something, is it not which produces so many mental aliena- clear that it is a particular gift or talent tions and disorders, making weak brains, which he has received ? It is this gift when powerfully impressed, conceive which is called "genius ;' it is in this that their bodies are metamorphosed into that we recognise something inspired and various animals, that they are possessed divine.

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