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I have already told you, in cleaning and keeping in order the house which we cannot re-build.
There are however salutary things, and others. hurtful?
You have guessed all the secret. Eat moderately that which you know by experience will agree with you. Nothing is good for the body but what is easily digested. What medicine will best assist digestion? Exercise. What best recruit your strength? Sleep. What will diminish incurable ills? Patience. What change a bad constitution? Nothing. In all violent maladies we have only the recipe of Molière, ‘seignare, purgare,' and if we will, clisterium donare.' There is not a fourth. All, I have told you, amounts only to keeping a house in order, to which we cannot add a peg. All art consists in adaptation.
You puff not your merchandise. You are an honest man. When I am queen, I will make you my first physician.
Let nature be your first physician. It is she who made all. Of those who have lived beyond a hundred years, none were of the faculty. The king of France* has already buried forty of his physicians, as many chief physicians, besides physicians of the establishment and others.
And truly, I hope to bury you also.
To know the natural philosophy of the human race, it is necesssary to read. works of anatomy, or rather to go through a course of anatomy.
To be acquainted with the man we call 'moral,' it is
above all necessary to have lived and reflected. Are not all moral works contained in these words of Job.? "Man that is born of a woman hath but a few days to live, and is full of trouble. He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth as a shadow, and continueth not."
We have already seen, that the human race has not above two-and-twenty years to live," reckoning those who die at their nurses' breasts, and those who for a hundred years drag on the remains of a miserable and imbecile life.
It is a fine apologue, that ancient fable of the first man who was at first destined to live twenty years at most, and who reduced it to five years by estimating one life with another. The man was in despair, and had near him a caterpillar, a butterfly, a peacock, a horse, ›a fox, and an ape.
Prolong my life, said he to Jupiter; I am more worthy than these animals; it is just that I and my family should live long to command all beasts. Willingly, said Jupiter; but I have only a certain number of days to divide among the whole of the beings to whom I have granted life. I can only give to thee by taking away from others; for imagine not, that because I am Jupiter, I am infinite and all-powerful; I have my nature and my limits. Now I will grant thee some years more, by taking them from these six animals, of which thou art jealous, on condition that thou shalt successively assume their manner of living. Man shall first be a caterpillar, dragging himself along in his earliest infancy. Until fifteen he shall have the lightness of a butterfly; in his youth the vanity of a peacock. In manhood he must undergo the labours of a horse. Towards fifty he shall have the tricks of a fox; and in his old age be ugly and ridiculous like an ape. This, in general, is the destiny of
Remark further, that notwithstanding these bounties of Jupiter, the animal man has still but two or three
* See the article AGE,
and twenty years to live, at most. Taking mankind in general, of this a third must be taken away for sleep, during which we are in a certain sense dead; thus there remain fifteen, and from these fifteen we must take at least eight for our first infancy, which is, as it has been called, the vestibule of life. The clear product will be seven years, and of these seven years the half at least is consumed in grief of all kinds. Take three years and a half for labour, fatigue, and dissatisfaction, and we shall have none remaining. Well, poor animal, wilt thou still be proud?
Unfortunately in this fable Jupiter forgot to dress this animal as he clothed the ass, horse, peacock, and even the caterpillar. Man had only his bare skin, which, continually exposed to the sun, rain, and hail, became chapped, tanned, and spotted. The male in our continent was disfigured by spare hairs on his body, which rendered him frightful without covering him. His face was hidden by these hairs.
became a rough soil which bore a forest of stalks, the roots of which tended upwards, and the branches of which grew downwards. It was in this state and in this image, that this animal ventured to paint God, when in course of time he learnt the art of description.
The female being more weak, became still more disgusting and frightful in her old age; and in short, without tailors and mantua-makers, one half of mankind would never have dared to show itself to the other. Yet, before having clothes, before even knowing how to speak, some ages must have passed away,a truth which has been proved, but which must be often repeated.
It is a little extraordinary, that we should have harrassed an innocent, estimable man of our time, the good Helvetius, for having said, that if men had not hands, they could not build houses and work tapestry. Apparently, those who have. condemned this proposition, have discovered a secret for cutting stones and wood, and working at the needle with their feet.
I liked the author of the work" On Mind." This man was worth more than all his enemies together; but I
never approved either the errors of his book, or the trivial truths which he so emphatically enforced. I have however boldly taken his part when absurd men have condemned him for these same truths.
I have no terms to express the excess of my contempt for those who for example sake would magisterially proscribe this passage," The Turks can only be considered deists." How then, pedant! would you have them regarded as atheists, because they adore only one God!
You condemn this other proposition,-"The man of sense knows that men are what they must be; that all hatred against them is unjust; that a fool commits fooleries as a wild stock bears bitter fruits."
So, crabbed stocks of the schools, you persecute a man because he hates you not!
Let us however leave the schools and pursue our subject.
Reason, industrious hands, a head capable of generalising ideas, a language pliant enough to express them, these are great benefits granted by the Supreme Being to man, to the exclusion of other animals.
The male in general lives rather a shorter time than the female.
He is also generally larger in proportion. A man of the loftiest stature is commonly two or three inches higher than the tallest woman.
His strength is almost always superior: he is more active; and having all his organs stronger, he is more capable of a fixed attention. All arts have been
invented by him, and not by woman. We should remark, that it is not the fire of imagination, but persevering meditation and combination of ideas which have invented arts, as mechanics, gunpowder, printing, dialling, &c.
Mankind alone knows that it must die, and knows it only by experience. A child brought up alone, and transported into a desart island, would dream of death no more than a plant or a cat.
A singular man* has written, that the human body is a fruit, which is green until old age, and that the moment of death is that of maturity. A strange maturity, ashes and putrefaction! The head of this philosopher was not ripe. How many extravagances has the rage for telling novelties produced?
The principal occupations of our race are the provision of food, lodging, and clothing; † all the rest are nearly accessary, and it is this poor accessary which has produced so many ravages and murders.
Different Races of Men.
We have elsewhere seen how many different races of men this globe contains, and to what degrees the first negro and the first white who met, were astonished at one another.
It is likely enough, that several weakly species of men and animals have perished. It is thus that we no longer discover any of the murex, of which the species has probably been devoured by other animals who several ages after visited the shores inhabited by this little shell-fish.
St. Jerome, in his History of the Father of the Desert, speaks of a centaur who had a conversation with St. Anthony the Hermit. He afterwards gives an account of a much longer discourse that the same Anthony had with a satyr.
St. Augustin, in his thirty-third sermon, addressed "To his Brothers in the Desert," tells things as extraordinary as Jerome. "I was already bishop of Hippo when I went into Ethiopia with some servants of Christ, there to preach the gospel. In this country we saw many men and women without heads, who had two great eyes in their breasts. In countries still more southerly, we saw a people who had but one eye in their foreheads," &c.
Apparently, Augustin and Jerome then spoke with economy;' they augmented the works of creation, to raise greater admiration of the works of God. They
†The unpoetical requisites.-T.