Imatges de pÓgina
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that all those waters gravitate towards the centre of the earth, and are raised only by immutable laws; and that those mountains which crown the earth are immense réservoirs of eternal snows, incessantly producing the fountains, lakes, and rivers, without which my animal and vegetable offspring would inevitably perish? And, with respect to what are denominated my animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms, constituting thus only three kingdoms, be assured that I have in fact millions of them. But if you consider the formation of an insect, of an ear of corn, of gold or of copper, all will exhibit to you prodigies of art:

PHILOSOPHER. It is undoubtedly true. The more I reflect on the subject, the more clearly I perceive, that you are only the art of some Great Being, extremely powerful and skilful, who conceals himself and exhibits you. All the reasoners, from the time of Thales, and probably long before him, have been playing at hide and seek with you. They have said, I have hold of you; and they in fact held nothing. We all resemble Ixion: he thought he embraced Juno, when he embraced only a cloud.

NATURE. Since I am the whole that exists, how is it possible for a being like you, so small a portion of myself, to comprehend me? Be contented, my dear little atomic children, with seeing a few particles that surround you, with drinking a few drops of my milk, with vegetating for a few moments in my bosom, and at last dying without any knowledge of your mother and your nurse.

PHILOSOPHER. My beloved mother, pray tell me a little why you. exist-why anything has existed?

NATURE. I will answer you in the language in which I always haver answered, for so long a series of ages, those who have interrogated me on the subject of first principles, — " I know nothing at all about the matter.”

PHILOSOPHER. Nothing itself, would it not be preferable to that mula titude of existences formed to be continually dissolved; those tribes of animals born and reproduced to devour others, and be devoured in their turn; those numberless beings endued with sensation, and formed to experience so many sensations of pain; and those other tribes of reasoning beings which never, or at least only rarely, listen to reason?. For what purpose, Nature, was all this?

NATURE.

Oh! práy go and inquire of him who made me.

NECESSARY—NECESSITY.

OSMIN.

Do you not assert that everything is necessary?

SELIM. If all be not necessary, it follows that God does unnecessary things.

OSMIN. That is to say, it was necessary for the divine nature to do what it has done.

SELIM.

I believe, or at least I suspect so. There are men who think differently. I do not understand them; but possibly they are right. I fear to dispute on this subject.

It is however necessary for me to talk to you

OSMIN.

upon it.

SELIM.

In what manner? Would you speak of what is necessary to sustain life, or the evil to which people are reduced who cannot procure it?

OSMIN. No; for that which is necessary to one is not always necessary to another.

It is necessary for an Indian to possess rice, for an Englishman to eat animal food, as Russians must furs, and Africans

gauze. One man believes that he has need of a dozen coach-horses,

SELIM.

another limits himself to a pair of shoes, and a third walks gaily on his bare feet. I wish to speak to you of that which is necessary to all men. It

appears to me that God has given us all that is necessary in this sense: eyes to see, feet to walk, a mouth to eat, a gullet to swallow, a stomach to digest, a brain to reason, and organs to produce our kind.

Haw happens it then that men are sometimes born who are deprived of a part of these necessary faculties?

OSMIN.

SELIM.

Because the general laws of nature are liable to accidents which produce monsters; but in general man is provided with all things necessary to his existence in society.

OSMIN.

Are there not notions common to all men necesary to this purpose?

SELIM.

Yes; I have travelled with Paul Lucas, and wherever I went I

saw, that man respected his father and his mother; that he thought himself bound to keep his promise ; that he pitied oppressed innocence; that he detested. persecution; that he regarded freedom of thinking as a right of nature, and the enemies of that freedom as the enemies of the human race. They who think differently appear to me to be badly organised, and monsters, like those who are born without eyes or heads.

OSMIN

These necessary things are they necessary in all times, and in all places ?

SELIM.

Yes : otherwise they would not be necessary to human kind..

OSMIN.

Therefore, a new creed is not necessary to mankind. Men could live in society, and perform all their duties towards God, before they believed that Maho-met had frequent conversations with the angel Gabriel.

SELIM.) Nothing is more evident: it would be ridiculous to think, that man could not perform his duties until Mahomet came into the world. It was no way necessary for men 'to believe the Koran. The world went on before the appearance of Mahomet, precisely as at present. If Mahometanism was necessary to the world, it would exist everywhere. God, who has given us two eyes to see the sun, would have bestowed upon us some means of discovering the truth of the Mahometan religion. That sect therefore resembles the arbitrary laws which change according to times and places, like fashions or the theories of physicians, which displace and succeed one another. The Mahometan religion cannot therefore be essentially necessary to man.

OSMIN.
But since it exists, God has permitted it.

SELIM. Yes, as he permits all the world to abound in absurdities, errors, and calamities. This is not saying that men were absolutely created in order to be foolish and unhappy. God permits some men to be eaten by serpents, but we ought not to say, God made man to be eaten by serpents.

OSMIN, What do you mean by saying God permits ? Can anything happen bụt by his orders? To permit and to will-are they not with him the same thing ? He permits crime, but does not commit it.

OSMIN. To commit a crime is to act against divine justiceto disobey God. Therefore, as God cannot disobey himself, he cannot commit crime; but he has so made man, that man commits it frequently. How does that arise ?

SELIM.

SELIM.

Some men can tell, but I am not one of them. All; that I know is, that the Koran is ridiculous, although possessing here and there things which are passable.

The Koran however is certainly not necessary to manthat I maintain. I perceive clearly that which is false, but know very little of that which is true.

OS MIN.

I thought that you would instruct me, but you teach: me nothing.

SELIM.

Is it not something to know the men who deceive you, and the gross and dangerous errors they promulgate ?

OSMIN, I should have cause to complain of a physician who made me acquainted with poisonous plants, without instructing me in regard to such as are salutary.

I am no physician, nor are you a sick man; and it appears to me that I give you a very useful prescription, when I say to you,- Distrust the inventions of charlatans; worship God; be an honest man; and believe that two and two make four..

SELIM.

NEW-NOVELTIES. It seems as if the first words of Ovid's Metamorphoses In nova fert animus'—were the emblem of, mankind. No one is touched with the admirable spectacle of the sun which rises, or seems to rise every day; but every body runs at the smallest meteor which appears for a moment in the map of vapours which surround the earth, and which we call heaven. We despise whatever is common, or which has been long known:

Vilia sunt nobis quæcumque prioribus annis

Vidimus, et sordet quidquid spectavimus olim. A hawker will not burthen himself with a Virgil or a Horace, but with a new book, were it ever so detestable. He draws you aside and says to you, Sir, will you have some books from Holland ?

From the commencement of the world, women have complained of the infidelities done to them in favour of the first new object which presents itself, and which has often this novelty for its only merit. Several

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