Imatges de pàgina
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sought to astonish men by fables, to render them more submissive to the yoke of faith.*

We can be very good christians without believing in centaurs, men without heads or with only one eye, one leg, &c. But can we doubt that the interior structure of a negro may be different to that of a white, since the mucous netted membrane beneath the skin is white in the one, and black in the other? I have already told you so, but you are deaf.

The Albinois and Darians--the first originally of Africa, and the second of the middle of America -are as different from us as from the negroes. There are yellow, red, and grey races.

We have already seen, that all the Americans are without beards or hair on their bodies, except the head and eyebrows. All are equally men, but only as a fir, an oak, and a pear tree are equally trees; the pear tree comes not from the fir, nor the fir from the oak.

But whence comes it, that in the midst of the Pacific Ocean, in an island named Otaheite, the men are bearded ? It is to ask why we are so, whilst the Peruvians, Mexicans, and Canadians are not. It is to ask, why apes have tails, and why nature has refused us an ornament which, at least among us, is an extreme rarity.

The inclinations and characters of men differ as much as their climates and governments.

It has never been possible to compose a regiment of Laplanders and Samoyeds, whilst the Siberians, their neighbours, become intrepid soldiers.

Neither can you make good grenadiers of a poor Darian or an Albinois. It is not because they have partridge eyes, or that their hair and eyebrows are like the finest and whitest silk; but it is because their bodies, and consequently their courage, partake of the most extreme weakness. There is none but a blind man, and even an obstinate blind man, who can deny the existence of all these different species. It is as great and remarkable as that of apes.

* See the article ECONOMY.

That all Races of Men have constantly lived in Society.

All the men whom we have discovered in the most uncultivated and frightful countries, herd together like beavers, ants, bees, and several other species of animals.

We have never seen countries in which they lived separate; or in which the male only joined with the female by chance, and abandoned her the moment after in disgust; or in which the mother estranged herself from her children, after having brought them up; or in which human beings lived without family and society. Some poor jesters have abused their understandings so far, as to hazard the astonishing paradox, that man is originally created to live alone, and that it is society which has depraved his nature. They might as well say, that herrings were created to swim alone in the sea; and that it is by an excess of corruption, that they pass in à troop from the Frozen Ocean to our shores; that formerly cranes flew in the air singly, and that by a violation of their natural instinct, they have subsequently chosen to travel in company.

Every animal has its instinct, and the instinct of man, fortified by reason, disposes him towards society, as towards eating and drinking. So far from the want of society having degraded man, it is estrangement from society which degrades him. Whoever lived absolutely alone, would soon lose the faculty of thinking and expressing himself; he would be a burden to bimself, and it would only remain to metamorphose him into a beast. An excess of powerless pride, which rises up against the pride of others, may induce a melancholy man to fly from his fellows; but it is a species of depravity, and punishes itself. That pride is its own punishment, which frets itself into solitude and secretly resents being despised and forgotten. It is enduring the most horrible slavery, in order to be free.

We have enlarged the bounds of ordinary folly so far as to say, that it is not natural for a man to be

attached to a woman during the nine months of her pregnancy. The appetite is satisfied, says the author of these paradoxes; the man has no longer any want of woman, nor the woman of man; and the latter need not have the least care, nor perhaps the least idea of the effects of the transient intercourse. They go different ways, and there is no appearance, until the end of nine months, that they have ever been known to one another. Why should he help her after her delivery? Why assist to bring up a child whom he cannot instinctively know belongs to him alone?

All this is execrable; but happily nothing is more false. If this barbarous indifference was the true instinct of nature, mankind would always have acted thus. Instinct is unchangeable, its inconstancies are very rare; the father would always abandon the mother, and the mother would abandon her child. There would have been much fewer men on earth than yoracious animals; for the wild beasts, better provided and better armed, have a more prompt instinct, more sure means of living, and a more certain nourishment, than mankind.

Our nature is very different from the frightful romance which this man, possessed of the devil, has made of it. Except some barbarous souls entirely brutish, or perhaps a philosopher more brutal still, the roughest man, by a prevailing instinct, loves the child which is not yet born, the womb which bears it; and the mother redoubles her love for him from whom she has received the germ of a being similar to himself.

The instinct of the colliers of the Black Forest speaks to them as loudly, and animates them as strongly in favour of their children, as the instinct of pigeons and nightingales induces them to feed their little ones. Time has therefore been sadly lost in writing these abominable absurdities.

The great fault of all these paradoxical books, lies in always supposing nature very different from what it is. If the satires on man and woman written by Boileau were not pleasantries, they would sin in the

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VOL. IV.

essential point of supposing all men fools and all women coquettes,

The same author, an enemy to society, like the fox without a tail who would have his companions cut off theirs, thus in a magisterial style expresses himself:

“ The first who, having enclosed an estate, took upon himself to say- This is mine--and found people simple enough to believe him, was the true founder of society. What crimes, wars, murders, miseries, and horrors, might have been spared to mankind, if some one, seizing the stakes, or filling up the pit, had cried to his companions- Take care how you listen to this impostor; you are lost if you forget that the fruits are common to all, and that the earth belongs to nobody!"

Thus, according to this fine philosopher, a thief, a destroyer, would have been the benefactor of mankind, and we should punish an honest man who says to his children, “ Let us imitate our neighbour; he has enclosed his field, the beasts will no longer ravage it, his land will become more fertile; let us work ours as he has laboured his; it will aid us, and we shall im

Each family cultivating its own enclosure, we shall be better fed, more healthy, more peaceable, and less unhappy. We will endeavour to establish a distributive justice, which will console our unhappy race; and we shall be raised above the foxes and polecats, to whom this babbler would

compare Would not this discourse be more sensible and honest, than that of the savage fool who would destroy the good man's orchard ?

What philosophy therefore is that which says things that common sense disclaims from China to Canada ? Is is not that of a beggar, who would have all the rich robbed by the poor, in order that fraternal union might be better established among men?

It is true, that if all the hedges, forests, and plains, were covered with wholesome and delicious fruits, it would be impossible, unjust, and ridiculous, to guard them.

If there are any islands in which nature produces

prove it.

us.”

food and all necessaries without trouble, let us go and live there, far from the trash of our laws; but as soon as you have peopled them, we must return to meum and tuum, and to laws which are very often

very

bad, but which we cannot rationally do away.

Is Man born Wicked ? Is it not demonstrated, that man is not born perverse and the child of the devil ? If such was his nature, he would commit enormous crimes and barbarities as soon as he could walk; he would use the first knife he could find, to wound whoever displeased him. He would necessarily resemble little wolves and foxes, who bite as soon as they can.

On the contrary, throughout the world, he partakes of the nature of the lamb, while he is an infant. Why therefore, and how is it, that he so often becomes å wolf and fox? Is it not that, being born neither good nor wicked, education, example, the government into which he is thrown-in short, occasion of every

kind determines him to virtue or vice?

Perhaps human nature could not be otherwise. Man could not always have false thoughts, nor always true affections; be always sweet, or always cruel.

It is demonstrable, that woman is elevated beyond men in the scale of goodness. We see a hundred brothers enemies to each other, to one Clytemnestra.

There are professions which necessarily render the soul pitiless that of the soldier, the butcher, the officer of justice, and the jailor; and all trades which are founded on the annoyance of others.

The officer, the soldier, the jailor, for example, are only happy in making others miserable. It is true, they are necessary against malefactors, and so far useful to society; but of a thousand men of the kind, there is not one who acts from the motive of the public good, or who even reflects that it is a public good.

It is above all a curious thing to hear them speak of their prowess as they count the number of their victims; their snares - to entrap them, the ills which

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