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Title: Critical Miscellanies (Vol 2 of 3) - Essay 1: Vauvenargues
Author: Morley, John, 1838-1923
Language: English
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CRITICAL MISCELLANIES

BY

JOHN MORLEY

VOL. II.

Essay 1: Vauvenargues

London

MACMILLAN AND CO., Limited

NEW YORK: THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

1905



CONTENTS OF VOL. II.                                           PAGE

The influence of Pascal                                           1

Vauvenargues holds the balance between him and the
votaries of Perfectibility                                        4

Birth, education, and hard life of Vauvenargues                   4

Life in Paris, and friendship with Voltaire                      10

His religious sentiment                                          12

His delicacy, reserve, and psychagogic quality                   15

Certain inability to appreciate marked originality               17

Criticisms on Molière, Racine, and Corneille                     19

Comparison with English aphoristic writers and moralists         20

Character the key to his theory of greatness                     25

His exaltation of spontaneous feeling, a protest against
Rochefoucauld and Pascal                                         26

His plea for a normal sense of human relation, the same          28

His doctrine of the Will connected with his doctrine of
Character                                                        29

Antipathy to ascetic restrictions                                33

Two ways of examining character: that followed by
Vauvenargues                                                     34

Examples of his style                                            36

The beauty of his nature to be read in his face                  40


[Transcriber's Note: Footnotes have been moved to end of book.]



VAUVENARGUES.


One of the most important phases of French thought in the great century
of its illumination is only thoroughly intelligible, on condition that
in studying it we keep constantly in mind the eloquence, force, and
genius of Pascal. He was the greatest and most influential
representative of that way of viewing human nature and its
circumstances, which it was one of the characteristic glories of the
eighteenth century to have rebelled against and rejected. More than a
hundred years after the publication of the _Pensées_, Condorcet thought
it worth while to prepare a new edition of them, with annotations,
protesting, not without a certain unwonted deference of tone, against
Pascal's doctrine of the base and desperate estate of man. Voltaire also
had them reprinted with notes of his own, written in the same spirit of
vivacious deprecation, which we may be sure would have been even more
vivacious, if Voltaire had not remembered that he was speaking of the
mightiest of all the enemies of the Jesuits. Apart from formal and
specific dissents like these, all the writers who had drunk most deeply
of the spirit of the eighteenth century, lived in a constant ferment of
revolt against the clear-witted and vigorous thinker of the century
before, who had clothed mere theological mysteries with the force and
importance of strongly entrenched propositions in a consistent
philosophy.

The resplendent fervour of Bossuet's declamations upon the nothingness
of kings, the pitifulness of mortal aims, the crushing ever-ready grip
of the hand of God upon the purpose and faculty of man, rather filled
the mind with exaltation than really depressed or humiliated it. From
Bossuet to Pascal is to pass from the solemn splendour of the church to
the chill of the crypt. Besides, Bossuet's attitude was professional, in
the first place, and it was purely theological, in the second; so the
main stream of thought flowed away and aside from him. To Pascal it was
felt necessary that there should be reply and vindication, whether in
the shape of deliberate and published formulas, or in the reasoned
convictions of the individual intelligence working privately. A syllabus
of the radical articles of the French creed of the eighteenth century
would consist largely of the contradictions of the main propositions of
Pascal. The old theological idea of the fall was hard to endure, but the
idea of the fall was clenched by such general laws of human nature as
this,--that 'men are so necessarily mad, that it would be to be mad by a
new form of madness not to be mad;'--that man is nothing but
masquerading, lying, and hypocrisy, both in what concerns himself and in
respect of others, wishing not to have the truth told to himself, and
shrinking from telling it to anybody else;[1] that the will, the
imagination, the disorders of the body, the thousand concealed
infirmities of the intelligence, conspire to reduce our discovery of
justice and truth to a process of haphazard, in which we more often miss
the mark than hit.[2] Pleasure, ambition, industry, are only means of
distracting men from the otherwise unavoidable contemplation of their
own misery. How speak of the dignity of the race and its history, when
we know that a grain of sand in Cromwell's bladder altered the destinies
of a kingdom, and that if Cleopatra's nose had been shorter the whole
surface of the earth would be different? Imagine, in a word, 'a number
of men in chains, and all condemned to death; some of them each day
butchered in the sight of the others, while those who remain watch their
own condition in that of their fellows, and eyeing one another in
anguish and hopelessness, wait their turn; such is the situation of
man.'[3]

It was hardly possible to push the tragical side of the verities of life
beyond this, and there was soon an instinctive reaction towards
realities. The sensations with their conditions of pleasure no less than
of pain; the intelligence with its energetic aptitudes for the discovery
of protective and fruitful knowledge; the affections with their large
capacities for giving and receiving delight; the spontaneous inner
impulse towards action and endurance in the face of outward
circumstances--all these things reassured men, and restored in theory to
them with ample interest what in practice they had never lost--a
rational faith and exultation in their own faculties, both of finding
out truth and of feeling a very substantial degree of happiness. On
this side too, as on the other, speculation went to its extreme limit.
The hapless and despairing wretches of Pascal were transformed by the
votaries of perfectibility into bright beings not any lower than the
angels. Between the two extremes there was one fine moralist who knew
how to hold a just balance, perceiving that language is the expression
of relations and proportions, that when we speak of virtue and genius we
mean qualities that compared with those of mediocre souls deserve these
high names, that greatness and happiness are comparative terms, and that
there is nothing to be said of the estate of man except relatively. This
moralist was Vauvenargues.

Vauvenargues was born of a good Provençal stock at Aix, in the year
1715. He had scarcely any of that kind of education which is usually
performed in school-classes, and he was never able to read either Latin
or Greek. Such slight knowledge as he ever got of the famous writers
among the ancients was in translations. Of English literature, though
its influence and that of our institutions were then becoming paramount
in France, and though he had a particular esteem for the English
character, he knew only the writings of Locke and Pope, and the Paradise
Lost.[4] Vauvenargues must be added to the list of thinkers and writers
whose personal history shows, what men of letters sometimes appear to be
in a conspiracy to make us forget, that for sober, healthy, and robust
judgment on human nature and life, active and sympathetic contact with
men in the transaction of the many affairs of their daily life is a
better preparation than any amount of wholly meditative seclusion. He is
also one of the many who show that a weakly constitution of body is not
incompatible with fine and energetic qualities of mind, even if it be
not actually friendly to them. Nor was feeble health any
disqualification for the profession of arms. As Arms and the Church were
the only alternatives for persons of noble birth, Vauvenargues, choosing
the former, became a subaltern in the King's Own Regiment at the age of
twenty (1735). Here in time he saw active service; for in 1740 the death
of Charles VI. threw all Europe into confusion, and the French
Government, falling in with the prodigious designs of the Marshal
Belle-Isle and his brother, took sides against Maria Theresa, and
supported the claims of the unhappy Elector of Bavaria who afterwards
became the Emperor Charles VII. The disasters which fell upon France in
consequence are well known. The forces despatched to Bavaria and
Bohemia, after the brief triumph of the capture of Prague, were
gradually overwhelmed without a single great battle, and it was
considered a signal piece of good fortune when in the winter of 1742-43
Belle-Isle succeeded, with a loss of half his force, in leading by a
long circuit, in the view of the enemy, and amid the horrors of famine
and intense frost, some thirteen thousand men away from Prague. The
King's Regiment took part in the Bohemian campaign, and in this
frightful march which closed it; Vauvenargues with the rest.

To physical sufferings during two winters was added the distress of
losing a comrade to whom he was deeply attached; he perished in the
spring of '42 under the hardships of the war. The _Éloge_ in which
Vauvenargues commemorates the virtues and the pitiful fate of his
friend, is too deeply marked with the florid and declamatory style of
youth to be pleasing to a more ripened taste.[5] He complained that
nobody who had read it observed that it was touching, not remembering
that even the most tender feeling fails to touch us, when it has found
stilted and turgid expression. Delicacy and warmth of affection were
prominent characteristics in Vauvenargues. Perhaps if his life had been
passed in less severe circumstances, this fine susceptibility might have
become fanciful and morbid. As it was, he loved his friends with a
certain patient sweetness and equanimity, in which there was never the
faintest tinge of fretfulness, caprice, exacting vanity, or any of those
other vices which betray in men that excessive consciousness of their
own personality, which lies at the root of most of the obstacles in the
way of an even and humane life. His nature had such depth and quality
that the perpetual untowardness of circumstances left no evil print upon
him; hardship made him not sour, but patient and wise, and there is no
surer sign of noble temper.

The sufferings and bereavements of war were not his only trials.
Vauvenargues was beset throughout the whole of his short life with the
sordid and humiliating embarrassments of narrow means. His letters to
Saint-Vincens, the most intimate of his friends, disclose the straits to
which he was driven. The nature of these straits is an old story all
over the world, and Vauvenargues did the same things that young men in
want of money have generally done. It cannot be said, I fear, that he
passed along those miry ways without some defilement. He bethinks him on
one occasion that a rich neighbour has daughters. 'Why should I not
undertake to marry one of them within two years, with a reasonable
dowry, if he would lend me the money I want and provided I should not
have repaid it by the time fixed?'[6] We must make allowance for the
youth of the writer, and for a different view of marriage and its
significance from our own. Even then there remains something to regret.
Poverty, wrote Vauvenargues, in a maxim smacking unwontedly of
commonplace, cannot debase strong souls, any more than riches can
elevate low souls.[7] That depends. If poverty means pinching and
fretting need of money, it may not debase the soul in any vital sense,
but it is extremely likely to wear away a very priceless kind of
delicacy in a man's estimate of human relations and their import.

Vauvenargues has told us what he found the life of the camp. Luxurious
and indolent living, neglected duties, discontented sighing after the
delights of Paris, the exaltation of rank and mediocrity, an insolent
contempt for merit; these were the characteristics of the men in high
military place. The lower officers meantime were overwhelmed by an
expenditure that the luxury of their superiors introduced and
encouraged; and they were speedily driven to retire by the disorder of
their affairs, or by the impossibility of promotion, because men of
spirit could not long endure the sight of flagrant injustice, and
because those who labour for fame cannot tie themselves to a condition
where there is nothing to be gathered but shame and humiliation.[8]

To these considerations of an extravagant expenditure and the absence of
every chance of promotion, there was added in the case of Vauvenargues
the still more powerful drawback of irretrievably broken health. The
winter-march from Prague to Egra had sown fatal seed. His legs had been
frost-bitten, and before they could be cured he was stricken by
small-pox, which left him disfigured and almost blind. So after a
service of nine years, he quitted military life (1744). He vainly
solicited employment as a diplomatist. The career was not yet open to
the talents, and in the memorial which Vauvenargues drew up he dwelt
less on his conduct than on his birth, being careful to show that he had
an authentic ancestor who was Governor of Hyères in the early part of
the fourteenth century.[9] But the only road to employment lay through
the Court. The claims even of birth counted for nothing, unless they
were backed by favour among the ignoble creatures who haunted
Versailles. For success it was essential to be not only high-born, but a
parasite as well. 'Permit me to assure you, sir,' Vauvenargues wrote
courageously to Amelot, then the minister, 'that it is this moral
impossibility for a gentleman, with only zeal to commend him, of ever
reaching the King his master, which causes the discouragement that is
observed among the nobility of the provinces, and which extinguishes all
ambition.'[10] Amelot, to oblige Voltaire, eager as usual in good
offices for his friend, answered the letters which Vauvenargues wrote,
and promised to lay his name before the King as soon as a favourable
opportunity should present itself.[11]

Vauvenargues was probably enough of a man of the world to take fair
words of this sort at their value, and he had enough of qualities that
do not belong to the man of the world to enable him to confront the
disappointment with cheerful fortitude 'Misfortune itself,' he had once
written, 'has its charms in great extremities; for this opposition of
fortune raises a courageous mind, and makes it collect all the forces
that before were unemployed: it is in indolence and littleness that
virtue suffers, when a timid prudence prevents it from rising in flight
and forces it to creep along in bonds.'[12] He was true to the counsel
which he had thus given years before, and with the consciousness that
death was rapidly approaching, and that all hope of advancement in the
ordinary way was at an end, even if there were any chance of his life,
he persevered in his project of going to Paris, there to earn the fame
which he instinctively felt that he had it in him to achieve. Neither
scantiness of means nor the vehement protests of friends and
relations--always the worst foes to superior character on critical
occasions--could detain him in the obscurity of Provence. In 1745 he
took up his quarters in Paris in a humble house near the School of
Medicine. Literature had not yet acquired that importance in France
which it was so soon to obtain. The Encyclopædia was still unconceived,
and the momentous work which that famous design was to accomplish, of
organising the philosophers and men of letters into an army with
banners, was still unexecuted. Voltaire, indeed, had risen, if not to
the full height of his reputation, yet high enough both to command the
admiration of people of quality, and to be the recognised chief of the
new school of literature and thought. Voltaire had been struck by a
letter in which Vauvenargues, then unknown to him, had sent a criticism
comparing Corneille disadvantageously with Racine. Coming from a young
officer, the member of a profession which Voltaire frankly described as
'very noble, in truth, but slightly barbarous,' this criticism was
peculiarly striking. A great many years afterwards Voltaire was
surprised in the same way, to find that an officer could write such a
book as the _Félicité Publique_ of the Marquis de Chastellux. To
Vauvenargues he replied with many compliments, and pointed out with a
good deal of pains the injustice which the young critic had done to the
great author of _Cinna_. '_It is the part of a man like you,_' he said
admirably, '_to have preferences, but no exclusions._'[13] The
correspondence thus begun was kept up with ever-growing warmth and
mutual respect. 'If you had been born a few years earlier,' Voltaire
wrote to him, 'my works would be worth all the more for it; but at any
rate, even at the close of my career, you confirm me in the path that
you pursue.'[14]

The personal impression was as fascinating as that which had been
conveyed by Vauvenargues' letters. Voltaire took every opportunity of
visiting his unfortunate friend, then each day drawing nearer to the
grave. Men of humbler stature were equally attracted. 'It was at this
time,' says the light-hearted Marmontel, 'that I first saw at home the
man who had a charm for me beyond all the rest of the world, the good,
the virtuous, the wise Vauvenargues. Cruelly used by nature in his body,
he was in soul one of her rarest masterpieces. I seemed to see in him
Fénelon weak and suffering. I could make a good book of his
conversations, if I had had a chance of collecting them. You see some
traces of it in the selection that he has left of his thoughts and
meditations. But all eloquent and full of feeling as he is in his
writings, he was even more so still in his conversation.'[15] Marmontel
felt sincere grief when Vauvenargues died, and in the _Epistle to
Voltaire_ expressed his sorrow in some fair lines. They contain the
happy phrase applied to Vauvenargues, '_ce coeur stoïque et
tendre_.'[16]

In religious sentiment Vauvenargues was out of the groove of his time.
That is to say, he was not unsusceptible of religion. Accepting no
dogma, so far as we can judge, and complying with no observances, very
faint and doubtful as to even the fundamentals--God, immortality, and
the like--he never partook of the furious and bitter antipathy of the
best men of that century against the church, its creeds, and its book.
At one time, as will be seen from a passage which will be quoted by and
by, his leanings were towards that vague and indefinable doctrine which
identifies God with all the forces and their manifestations in the
universe. Afterwards even this adumbration of a theistic explanation of
the world seems to have passed from him, and he lived, as many other not
bad men have lived, with that fair working substitute for a religious
doctrine which is provided in the tranquil search, or the acceptance in
a devotional spirit, of all larger mortal experiences and higher human
impressions. There is a _Meditation on the Faith_, including a _Prayer_,
among his writings; and there can be little doubt, in spite of
Condorcet's incredible account of the circumstances of its composition,
that it is the expression of what was at the time a sincere feeling.[17]
It is, however, rather the straining and ecstatic rhapsody of one who
ardently seeks faith, than the calm and devout assurance of him who
already possesses it. Vauvenargues was religious by temperament, but he
could not entirely resist the intellectual influences of the period. The
one fact delivered him from dogma and superstition, and the other from
scoffing and harsh unspirituality. He saw that apart from the question
of the truth or falsehood of its historic basis, there was a balance to
be struck between the consolations and the afflictions of the faith.[18]
Practically he was content to leave this balance unstruck, and to pass
by on the other side. Scarcely any of his maxims concern religion. One
of these few is worth quoting, where he says: 'The strength or weakness
of our belief depends more on our courage than our light; not all those
who mock at auguries have more intellect than those who believe in
them.'[19]

The end came in the spring of 1747, when Vauvenargues was no more than
thirty-two. Perhaps, in spite of his physical miseries, these two years
in Paris were the least unhappy time in his life. He was in the great
centre where the fame which he longed for was earned and liberally
awarded. A year of intercourse with so full and alert and brilliant a
mind as Voltaire's, must have been more to one so appreciative of mental
greatness as Vauvenargues, than many years of intercourse with
subalterns in the Regiment of the King. With death, now known to be very
near at hand, he had made his account before. 'To execute great things,'
he had written in a maxim which gained the lively praise of Voltaire, 'a
man must live as though he had never to die.'[20] This mood was common
among the Greeks and Romans; but the religion which Europe accepted in
the time of its deepest corruption and depravation, retained the mark of
its dismal origin nowhere so strongly as in the distorted prominence
which it gave in the minds of its votaries to the dissolution of the
body. It was one of the first conditions of the Revival of Reason that
the dreary _memento mori_ and its hateful emblems should be deliberately
effaced. 'The thought of death,' said Vauvenargues, 'leads us astray,
because it makes us forget to live.' He did not understand living in the
sense which the dissolute attach to it. The libertinism of his regiment
called no severe rebuke from him, but his meditative temper drew him
away from it even in his youth. It is not impossible that if his days
had not been cut short, he might have impressed Parisian society with
ideas and a sentiment, that would have left to it all its cheerfulness,
and yet prevented that laxity which so fatally weakened it. Turgot, the
only other conspicuous man who could have withstood the license of the
time, had probably too much of that austerity which is in the fibre of
so many great characters, to make any moral counsels that he might have
given widely effective.

Vauvenargues was sufficiently free from all taint of the pedagogue or
the preacher to have dispelled the sophisms of licence, less by argument
than by the gracious attraction of virtue in his own character. The
stock moralist, like the commonplace orator of the pulpit, fails to
touch the hearts of men or to affect their lives, for lack of delicacy,
of sympathy, and of freshness; he attempts to compensate for this by
excess of emphasis, and that more often disgusts us than persuades.
Vauvenargues, on the other hand, is remarkable for delicacy and
half-reserved tenderness. Everything that he has said is coloured and
warmed with feeling for the infirmities of men. He writes not merely as
an analytical outsider. Hence, unlike most moralists, he is no satirist.
He had borne the burdens. 'The looker-on,' runs one of his maxims,
'softly lying in a carpeted chamber, inveighs against the soldier, who
passes winter nights on the river's edge, and keeps watch in silence
over the safety of the land.'[21] Vauvenargues had been something very
different from the safe and sheltered critic of other men's battles,
and this is the secret of the hold which his words have upon us. They
are real, with the reality that can only come from two sources; from
high poetic imagination, which Vauvenargues did not possess, or else
from experience of life acting on and strengthening a generous nature.
'The cause of most books of morality being so insipid,' he says, 'is
that their authors are not sincere; is that, being feeble echoes of one
another, they could not venture to publish their own real maxims and
private sentiments.'[22] One of the secrets of his own freedom from this
ordinary insipidity of moralists was his freedom also from their
pretentiousness and insincerity.

Besides these positive merits, he had, as we have said, the negative
distinction of never being emphatic. His sayings are nearly always
moderate and persuasive, alike in sentiment and in phrase. Sometimes
they are almost tentative in the diffidence of their turn. Compared with
him La Rochefoucauld's manner is hard, and that of La Bruyère
sententious. In the moralist who aspires to move and win men by their
best side instead of their worst, the absence of this hardness and the
presence of a certain lambency and play even in the exposition of truths
of perfect assurance, are essential conditions of psychagogic quality.
In religion such law does not hold, and the contagion of fanaticism is
usually most rapidly spread by a rigorous and cheerless example.

We may notice in passing that Vauvenargues has the defects of his
qualities, and that with his aversion to emphasis was bound up a certain
inability to appreciate even grandeur and originality, if they were too
strongly and boldly marked. 'It is easy to criticise an author,' he has
said, 'but hard to estimate him.'[23] This was never more unfortunately
proved than in the remarks of Vauvenargues himself upon the great
Molière. There is almost a difficulty in forgiving a writer who can say
that 'La Bruyère, animated with nearly the same genius, painted the
crookedness of men with as much truth and as much force as Molière; but
I believe that there is more eloquence and more elevation to be found in
La Bruyère's images.'[24] Without at all undervaluing La Bruyère, one of
the acutest and finest of writers, we may say that this is a truly
disastrous piece of criticism. Quite as unhappy is the preference given
to Racine over Molière, not merely for the conclusion arrived at, but
for the reasons on which it is founded. Molière's subjects, we read, are
low, his language negligent and incorrect, his characters bizarre and
eccentric. Racine, on the other hand, takes sublime themes, presents us
with noble types, and writes with simplicity and elegance. It is not
enough to concede to Racine the glory of art, while giving to Molière or
Corneille the glory of genius. 'When people speak of the art of
Racine--the art which puts things in their place; which characterises
men, their passions, manners, genius; which banishes obscurities,
superfluities, false brilliancies; which paints nature with fire,
sublimity, and grace--what can we think of such art as this, except that
it is the genius of extraordinary men, and the origin of those rules
that writers without genius embrace with so much zeal and so little
success?'[25] And it is certainly true that the art of Racine implied
genius. The defect of the criticism lies, as usual, in a failure to see
that there is glory enough in both; in the art of highly-finished
composition and presentation, and in the art of bold and striking
creation. Yet Vauvenargues was able to discern the secret of the
popularity of Molière, and the foundation of the common opinion that no
other dramatist had carried his own kind of art so far as Molière had
carried his; 'the reason is, I fancy, that he is more natural than any
of the others, and this is an important lesson for everybody who wishes
to write.'[26] He did not see how nearly everything went in this
concession, that Molière was, above all, natural. With equal truth of
perception he condemned the affectation of grandeur lent by the French
tragedians to classical personages who were in truth simple and natural,
as the principal defect of the national drama, and the common rock on
which their poets made shipwreck.[27] Let us, however, rejoice for the
sake of the critical reputation of Vauvenargues that he was unable to
read Shakespeare. One for whom Molière is too eccentric, grotesque,
inelegant, was not likely to do much justice to the mightiest but most
irregular of all dramatists.

A man's prepossessions in dramatic poetry, supposing him to be
cultivated enough to have any prepossessions, furnish the most certain
clue that we can get to the spirit in which he inwardly regards
character and conduct. The uniform and reasoned preference which
Vauvenargues had for Racine over Molière and Corneille, was only the
transfer to art of that balanced, moderate, normal, and emphatically
harmonious temper, which he brought to the survey of human nature.
Excess was a condition of thought, feeling, and speech, that in every
form was disagreeable to him; alike in the gloom of Pascal's reveries,
and in the inflation of speech of some of the heroes of Corneille. He
failed to relish even Montaigne as he ought to have done, because
Montaigne's method was too prolix, his scepticism too universal, his
egoism too manifest, and because he did not produce complete and
artistic wholes.[28]

Reasonableness is the strongest mark in Vauvenargues' thinking; balance,
evenness, purity of vision, penetration finely toned with indulgence. He
is never betrayed into criticism of men from the point of view of
immutable first principles. Perhaps this was what the elder Mirabeau
meant when he wrote to Vauvenargues, who was his cousin: 'You have the
English genius to perfection,' and what Vauvenargues meant when he wrote
of himself to Mirabeau: 'Nobody in the world has a mind less French than
I.'[29] These international comparisons are among the least fruitful of
literary amusements, even when they happen not to be extremely
misleading; as when, for example, Voltaire called Locke the English
Pascal, a description which can only be true on condition that the
qualifying adjective is meant to strip either Locke or Pascal of most of
his characteristic traits. And if we compare Vauvenargues with any of
our English aphoristic writers, there is not resemblance enough to make
the contrast instructive. The obvious truth is that in this department
our literature is particularly weak, while French literature is
particularly strong in it. With the exception of Bacon, we have no
writer of apophthegms of the first order; and the difference between
Bacon as a moralist and Pascal or Vauvenargues, is the difference
between Polonius's famous discourse to Laertes and the soliloquy of
Hamlet.

Bacon's precepts refer rather to external conduct and worldly fortune
than to the inner composition of character, or to the 'wide, gray,
lampless' depths of human destiny. We find the same national
characteristic, though on an infinitely lower level, in Franklin's
oracular saws. Among the French sages a psychological element is
predominant, as well as an occasional transcendent loftiness of feeling,
not to be found in Bacon's wisest maxims, and from his point of view in
their composition we could not expect to find them there. We seek in
vain amid the positivity of Bacon, or the quaint and timorous paradox of
Browne, or the acute sobriety of Shaftesbury, for any of that poetic
pensiveness which is strong in Vauvenargues, and reaches tragic heights
in Pascal.[30] Addison may have the delicacy of Vauvenargues, but it is
a delicacy that wants the stir and warmth of feeling. It seems as if
with English writers poetic sentiment naturally sought expression in
poetic forms, while the Frenchmen of nearly corresponding temperament
were restrained within the limits of prose by reason of the vigorously
prescribed stateliness and stiffness of their verse at that time. A man
in this country with the quality of Vauvenargues, with his delicacy,
tenderness, elevation, would have composed lyrics. We have undoubtedly
lost much by the laxity and irregularity of our verse, but as
undoubtedly we owe to its freedom some of the most perfect and
delightful of the minor figures that adorn the noble gallery of English
poets.

It would be an error to explain the superiority of the great French
moralists by supposing in them a fancy and imagination too defective for
poetic art. It was the circumstances of the national literature during
the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries which made Vauvenargues for
instance a composer of aphorisms, rather than a moral poet like Pope.
Let us remember some of his own most discriminating words. 'Who has more
imagination,' he asks, 'than Bossuet, Montaigne, Descartes, Pascal, all
of them great philosophers? Who more judgment and wisdom than Racine,
Boileau, La Fontaine, Molière, all of them poets full of genius? _It is
not true, then, that the ruling qualities exclude the others; on the
contrary, they suppose them._ I should be much surprised if a great poet
were without vivid lights on philosophy, at any rate moral philosophy,
and it will very seldom happen for a true philosopher to be totally
devoid of imagination.'[31] With imagination in the highest sense
Vauvenargues was not largely endowed, but he had as much as is essential
to reveal to one that the hard and sober-judging faculty is not the
single, nor even the main element, in a wise and full intelligence. 'All
my philosophy,' he wrote to Mirabeau, when only four or five and twenty
years old, an age when the intellect is usually most exigent of
supremacy, 'all my philosophy has its source in my heart.'[32]

In the same spirit he had well said that there is more cleverness in the
world than greatness of soul, more people with talent than with lofty
character.[33] Hence some of the most peculiarly characteristic and
impressive of his aphorisms; that famous one, for instance, '_Great
thoughts come from the heart,_' and the rest which hang upon the same
idea. 'Virtuous instinct has no need of reason, but supplies it.'
'Reason misleads us more often than nature.' 'Reason does not know the
interests of the heart.' 'Perhaps we owe to the passions the greatest
advantages of the intellect.' Such sayings are only true on condition
that instinct and nature and passion have been already moulded under the
influence of reason; just as this other saying, which won the warm
admiration of Voltaire, '_Magnanimity owes no account of its motives to
prudence_,' is only true on condition that by magnanimity we understand
a mood not out of accord with the loftiest kind of prudence.[34] But in
the eighteenth century reason and prudence were words current in their
lower and narrower sense, and thus one coming like Vauvenargues to see
this lowness and narrowness, sought to invest ideas and terms that in
fact only involved modifications of these, with a significance of direct
antagonism. Magnanimity was contrasted inimically with prudence, and
instinct and nature were made to thrust from their throne reason and
reflection. Carried to its limit, this tendency developed the
speculative and social excesses of the great sentimental school. In
Vauvenargues it was only the moderate, just, and most seasonable protest
of a fine observer, against the supremacy among ideals of a narrow,
deliberative, and calculating spirit.

His exaltation of virtuous instinct over reason is in a curious way
parallel to Burke's memorable exaltation over reason of prejudice.
'Prejudice,' said Burke, 'previously engages the mind in a steady course
of wisdom and virtue, and does not leave the man hesitating in the
moment of decision, sceptical, puzzled, and unresolved. Prejudice
renders a man's virtue his habit, and not a series of unconnected acts;
through just prejudice his duty becomes a part of his nature.'[35] What
Burke designated as prejudice, Vauvenargues less philosophically styled
virtuous instinct; each meant precisely the same thing, though the
difference of phrase implied a different view of its origin and growth:
and the side opposite to each of them was the same--namely, a
sophisticated and over-refining intelligence, narrowed to the
consideration of particular circumstances as they presented themselves.

Translated into the modern equivalent, the heart, nature, instinct of
Vauvenargues all mean _character_. He insisted upon spontaneous impulse
as a condition of all greatest thought and action. Men think and work on
the highest level when they move without conscious and deliberate strain
after virtue: when, in other words, their habitual motives, aims,
methods, their character, in short, naturally draw them into the region
of what is virtuous. '_It is by our ideas that we ennoble our passions
or we debase them; they rise high or sink low according to the man's
soul_.'[36] All this has ceased to be new to our generation, but a
hundred and thirty years ago, and indeed much nearer to us than that,
the key to all nobleness was thought to be found only by cool balancing
and prudential calculation. A book like _Clarissa Harlowe_ shows us this
prudential and calculating temper underneath a varnish of
sentimentalism and fine feelings, an incongruous and extremely
displeasing combination, particularly characteristic of certain sets and
circles in that century. One of the distinctions of Vauvenargues is that
exaltation of sentiment did not with him cloak a substantial adherence
to a low prudence, nor to that fragment of reason which has so
constantly usurped the name and place of the whole. He eschewed the too
common compromise which the sentimentalist makes with reflection and
calculation, and it was this which saved him from being a
sentimentalist.

That doctrine of the predominance of the heart over the head, which has
brought forth so many pernicious and destructive fantasies in the
history of social thought, represented in his case no more than a
reaction against the great detractors of humanity. Rochefoucauld had
surveyed mankind exclusively from the point of their vain and egoistic
propensities, and his aphorisms are profoundly true of all persons in
whom these propensities are habitually supreme, and of all the world in
so far as these propensities happen to influence them. Pascal, on the
one hand, leaving the affections and inclinations of a man very much on
one side, had directed all his efforts to showing the pitiful feebleness
and incurable helplessness of man in the sphere of the understanding.
Vauvenargues is thus confronted by two sinister pictures of
humanity--the one of its moral meanness and littleness, the other of its
intellectual poverty and impotency. He turned away from both of them,
and found in magnanimous and unsophisticated feeling, of which he was
conscious in himself and observant in others, a compensation alike for
the selfishness of some men and the intellectual limitations of all men.
This compensation was ample enough to restore the human self-respect
that Pascal and Rochefoucauld had done their best to weaken.

The truth in that disparagement was indisputable so far as it went. It
was not a kind of truth, however, on which it is good for the world much
to dwell, and it is the thinkers like Vauvenargues who build up and
inspire high resolve. 'Scarcely any maxim,' runs one of his own, 'is
true in all respects.'[37] We must take them in pairs to find out the
mean truth; and to understand the ways of men, so far as words about men
can help us, we must read with appreciation not only Vauvenargues, who
said that great thoughts come from the heart, but La Rochefoucauld, who
called the intelligence the dupe of the heart, and Pascal, who saw only
desperate creatures, miserably perishing before one another's eyes in
the grim dungeon of the universe. Yet it is the observer in the spirit
of Vauvenargues, of whom we must always say that he has chosen the
better part. Vauvenargues' own estimate was sound. 'The Duke of La
Rochefoucauld seized to perfection the weak side of human nature; maybe
he knew its strength too; and only contested the merit of so many
splendid actions in order to unmask false wisdom. Whatever his design,
the effect seems to me mischievous; his book, filled with delicate
invective against hypocrisy, even to this day turns men away from
virtue, by persuading them that it is never genuine.'[38] Or, as he put
it elsewhere, without express personal reference: 'You must arouse in
men the feeling of their prudence and strength, if you would raise their
character; those who only apply themselves to bring out the absurdities
and weaknesses of mankind, enlighten the judgment of the public far less
than they deprave its inclination.'[39] This principle was implied in
Goethe's excellent saying, that if you would improve a man, it is best
to begin by persuading him that he is already that which you would have
him to be.

To talk in this way was to bring men out from the pits which cynicism on
the one side, and asceticism on the other, had dug so deep for them,
back to the warm precincts of the cheerful day. The cynic and the
ascetic had each looked at life through a microscope, exaggerating
blemishes, distorting proportions, filling the eye with ugly and
disgusting illusions.[40] Humanity, as was said, was in disgrace with
the thinkers. The maxims of Vauvenargues were a plea for a return to a
healthy and normal sense of relations. 'These philosophers,' he cried,
'are men, yet they do not speak in human language; they change all the
ideas of things, and misuse all their terms.'[41] These are some of the
most direct of his retorts upon Pascal and La Rochefoucauld:

'I have always felt it to be absurd for philosophers to fabricate a
Virtue that is incompatible with the nature of humanity, and then after
having pretended this, to declare coldly that there is no virtue. If
they are speaking of the phantom of their imagination, they may of
course abandon or destroy it as they please, for they invented it; but
true virtue--which they cannot be brought to call by this name, because
it is not in conformity with their definitions; which is the work of
nature and not their own; and which consists mainly in goodness and
vigour of soul--that does not depend on their fancies, and will last
for ever with characters that cannot possibly be effaced.'

'The body has its graces, the intellect its talents; is the heart then
to have nothing but vices? And must man, who is capable of reason, be
incapable of virtue?'

'We are susceptible of friendship, justice, humanity, compassion, and
reason. O my friends, what then is virtue?'

'Disgust is no mark of health, nor is appetite a disorder; quite the
reverse. Thus we think of the body, but we judge the soul on other
principles. We suppose that a strong soul is one that is exempt from
passions, and as youth is more active and ardent than later age, we look
on it as a time of fever, and place the strength of man in his
decay.'[42]

       *       *       *       *       *

The theological speculator insists that virtue lies in a constant and
fierce struggle between the will and the passions, between man and human
nature.

Vauvenargues founded his whole theory of life on the doctrine that the
will is not something independent of passions, inclinations, and ideas,
but on the contrary is a mere index moved and fixed by them, as the hand
of a clock follows the operation of the mechanical forces within.
Character is an integral unit. 'Whether it is reason or passion that
moves us, it is we who determine ourselves; it would be madness to
distinguish one's thoughts and sentiments from one's self.... No will in
men, which does not owe its direction to their temperament, their
reasoning, and their actual feelings.'[43] Virtue, then, is not
necessarily a condition of strife between the will and the rest of our
faculties and passions; no such strife is possible, for the will obeys
the preponderant passion or idea, or group of passions and ideas; and
the contest lies between one passion or group and another. Hence, in
right character there is no struggle at all, for the virtuous
inclinations naturally and easily direct our will and actions; virtue is
then independent of struggle; and the circumstance of our finding
pleasure in this or that practice, is no reason why both the practice
and the pleasure should not be unimpeachably virtuous.

It is easy to see the connection between this theory of the dependence
of the will, and the prominence which Vauvenargues is ever giving to the
passions. These are the key to the movements of the will. To direct and
shape the latter, you must educate the former. It was for his perception
of this truth, we may notice in passing, that Comte awarded to
Vauvenargues a place in the Positivist Calendar; 'for his direct effort,
in spite of the universal desuetude into which it had fallen, to
reorganise the culture of the heart according to a better knowledge of
human nature, of which this noble thinker discerned the centre to be
affective.'[44]

This theory of the will, however, was not allowed to rest here; the
activity of man was connected with the universal order. 'What prevents
the mind from perceiving the motive of its actions, is only their
infinite quickness. Our thoughts perish at the moment in which their
effects make themselves known; when the action commences, the principle
has vanished; the will appears, the feeling is gone; we cannot find it
ourselves, and so doubt if we ever had it. But it would be an enormous
defect to have a will without a principle; our actions would be all
haphazard; the world would be nothing but caprice; all order would be
overturned. It is not enough, then, to admit it to be true that it is
reflection or sentiment that leads us: we must add further that it would
be monstrous for this to be otherwise.[45] ...

'The will recalls or suspends our ideas; our ideas shape or vary the
laws of the will; the laws of the will are thus dependent on the laws of
creation; but the laws of creation are not foreign to ourselves, they
constitute our being, and form our essence, and are entirely our own,
and we can say boldly that we act by ourselves, when we only act by
them.[46] ...

'Let us recognise here, then, our profound subjection.... Let us rend
the melancholy veil which hides from our eyes the eternal chain of the
world and the glory of the Creator.... External objects form ideas in
the mind, these ideas form sentiments, these sentiments volitions, these
volitions actions in ourselves and outside of ourselves. So noble a
dependence in all the parts of this vast universe must conduct our
reflections to the unity of its principle; this subordination makes the
true greatness of the beings subordinated. The excellence of man is in
his dependence; his subjection displays two marvellous images--the
infinite power of God, and the dignity of our own soul.... Man
independent would be an object of contempt; the feeling of his own
imperfection would be his eternal torture. But the same feeling, when we
admit his dependence, is the foundation of his sweetest hope; it reveals
to him the nothingness of finite good, and leads him back to his
principle, which insists on joining itself to him, and which alone can
satisfy his desires in the possession of himself.'[47]

Vauvenargues showed his genuine healthiness not more by a plenary
rejection of the doctrine of the incurable vileness and frenzy of man,
than by his freedom from the boisterous and stupid transcendental
optimism which has too many votaries in our time. He would not have men
told that they are miserable earth-gnomes, the slaves of a black
destiny, but he still placed them a good deal lower than the angels. For
instance: 'We are too inattentive or too much occupied with ourselves,
to get to the bottom of one another's characters; _whoever has watched
masks at a ball dancing together in a friendly manner, and joining hands
without knowing who the others are, and then parting the moment
afterwards never to meet again nor ever to regret, or be regretted, can
form some idea of the world_.'[48] But then, as he said elsewhere: 'We
can be perfectly aware of our imperfection, without being humiliated by
the sight. _One of the noblest qualities of our nature is that we are
able so easily to dispense with greater perfection._'[49] In all this we
mark the large and rational humaneness of the new time, a tolerant and
kindly and elevating estimate of men.

The faith in the natural and simple operation of virtue, without the aid
of all sorts of valetudinarian restrictions, comes out on every
occasion. The Trappist theory of the conditions of virtue found no
quarter with him. Mirabeau for instance complained of the atmosphere of
the Court, as fatal to the practice of virtue. Vauvenargues replied that
the people there were doubtless no better than they should be, and that
vice was dominant. 'So much the worse for those who have vices. But when
you are fortunate enough to possess virtue, it is, to my thinking, a
very noble ambition to lift up this same virtue in the bosom of
corruption, to make it succeed, to place it above all, to indulge and
control the passions without reproach, to overthrow the obstacles to
them, and to surrender yourself to the inclinations of an upright and
magnanimous heart, instead of combating or concealing them in retreat,
without either satisfying or vanquishing them. I know nothing so weak
and so vain as to flee before vices, or to hate them without measure;
for people only hate them by way of reprisal because they are afraid of
them, or else out of vengeance because these vices have played them some
sorry turn; but a little loftiness of soul, some knowledge of the heart,
a gentle and tranquil humour, will protect you against the risk of being
either surprised, or keenly wounded by them.'[50]

There is a tolerably obvious distinction between two principal ways of
examining character. One is a musing, subjective method of delineation,
in which the various shades and windings seem to reveal themselves with
a certain spontaneity, and we follow many recesses and depths in the
heart of another, such as only music stirs into consciousness in
ourselves. Besides this rarer poetic method, there is what may be
styled the diplomatist's method; it classifies characters objectively,
according to the kinds of outer conduct in which they manifest
themselves, and according to the best ways of approaching and dealing
with them. The second of these describes the spirit in which
Vauvenargues observed men. He is French, and not German, and belongs to
the eighteenth century, and not to the seventeenth or the nineteenth.
His _Characters_, very little known in this country, are as excellent as
any work in this kind that we are acquainted with, or probably as
excellent as such work can be. They are real and natural, yet while
abstaining as rigorously as Vauvenargues everywhere does from grotesque
and extravagant traits, they avoid equally the vice of presenting the
mere bald and sterile flats of character, which he that runs may read.
As we have said, he had the quality possessed by so few of those who
write about men; he watched men, and drew from the life. In a word, he
studied concrete examples and interrogated his own experience--the only
sure guarantee that one writing on his themes has anything which it is
worth our while to listen to. Among other consequences of this reality
of their source is the agreeable fact that these pictures are free from
that clever bitterness and easy sarcasm, by which crude and jejune
observers, thinking more of their own wit than of what they observe,
sometimes gain a little reputation. Even the coxcombs, self-duping
knaves, simpletons, braggarts, and other evil or pitiful types whom he
selects, are drawn with unstrained and simple conformity to reality.
The pictures have no moral label pinned on to them. Yet Vauvenargues
took life seriously enough, and it was just because he took it
seriously, that he had no inclination to air his wit or practise a
verbal humour upon the stuff out of which happiness and misery are made.

One or two fragments will suffice. Take the Man of the World, for
instance:

'A man of the world is not he who knows other men best, who has most
foresight or dexterity in affairs, who is most instructed by experience
and study; he is neither a good manager, nor a man of science, nor a
politician, nor a skilful officer, nor a painstaking magistrate. He is a
man who is ignorant of nothing but who knows nothing; who, doing his own
business ill, fancies himself very capable of doing that of other
people; a man who has much useless wit, who has the art of saying
flattering things which do not flatter, and judicious things which give
no information; who can persuade nobody, though he speaks well; endowed
with that sort of eloquence which can bring out trifles, and which
annihilates great subjects; as penetrating in what is ridiculous and
external in men, as he is blind to the depths of their minds. One who,
afraid of being wearisome by reason, is wearisome by his extravagances;
is jocose without gaiety, and lively without passion.'[51]

Or the two following, the Inconstant Man, and Lycas or the Firm Man:

'Such a man seems really to possess more than one character. A powerful
imagination makes his soul take the shape of all the objects that affect
it; he suddenly astonishes the world by acts of generosity and courage
which were never expected of him; the image of virtue inflames,
elevates, softens, masters his heart; he receives the impression from
the loftiest, and he surpasses them. But when his imagination has grown
cold, his courage droops, his generosity sinks; the vices opposed to
these virtues take possession of his soul, and after having reigned
awhile supreme, they make way for other objects.... We cannot say that
they have a great nature, or strong, or weak, or light; it is a swift
and imperious imagination which reigns with sovereign power over all
their being, which subjugates their genius, and which prescribes for
them in turn those fine actions and those faults, those heights and
those littlenesses, those flights of enthusiasm and those fits of
disgust, which we are wrong in charging either with hypocrisy or
madness.'[52]

'Lycas unites with a self-reliant, bold, and impetuous nature, a spirit
of reflection and profundity which moderates the counsels of his
passions, which leads him by inpenetrable motives, and makes him advance
to his ends by many paths. He is one of those long-sighted men, who
consider the succession of events from afar off, who always finish a
design begun; who are capable, I do not say of dissembling either a
misfortune or an offence, but of rising above either, instead of letting
it depress them; deep natures, independent by their firmness in daring
all and suffering all; who, whether they resist their inclinations out
of foresight, or whether, out of pride and a secret consciousness of
their resources, they defy what is called prudence, always, in good as
in evil, cheat the acutest conjectures.'[53]

Let us note that Vauvenargues is almost entirely free from that
favourite trick of the aphoristic person, which consists in forming a
series of sentences, the predicates being various qualifications of
extravagance, vanity, and folly, and the subject being Women. He resists
this besetting temptation of the modern speaker of apophthegms to
identify woman and fool. On the one or two occasions in which he begins
the maxim with the fatal words, _Les femmes_, he is as little profound
as other people who persist in thinking of man and woman as two
different species. 'Women,' for example, 'have ordinarily more vanity
than temperament, and more temperament than virtue'--which is fairly
true of all human beings, and in so far as it is true, describes men
just as exactly--and no more so--as it describes women. In truth,
Vauvenargues felt too seriously about conduct and character to go far in
this direction. Now and again he is content with a mere smartness, as
when he says: 'There are some thoroughly excellent people who cannot get
rid of their _ennui_ except at the expense of society.' But such a mood
is not common. He is usually grave, and not seldom profoundly weighty,
delicate without being weak, and subtle without obscurity; as for
example:

'People teach children to fear and obey; the avarice, pride, or timidity
of the fathers, instructs the children in economy, arrogance, or
submission. We stir them up to be yet more and more copyists, which they
are only too disposed to be, as it is; nobody thinks of making them
original, hardy, independent.'

'If instead of dulling the vivacity of children, people did their best
to raise the impulsiveness and movement of their characters, what might
we not expect from a fine natural temper?'

Again: 'The moderation of the weak is mediocrity.'

'What is arrogance in the weak is elevation in the strong; as the
strength of a sick man is frenzy, and that of a whole man is vigour.'

'To speak imprudently and to speak boldly are nearly always the same
thing. But we may speak without prudence, and still speak what is right;
and it is a mistake to fancy that a man has a shallow intelligence,
because the boldness of his character or the liveliness of his temper
may have drawn from him, in spite of himself, some dangerous truth.'

'It is a great sign of mediocrity always to praise moderately.'

       *       *       *       *       *

Vauvenargues has a saying to the effect that men very often, without
thinking of it, form an idea of their face and expression from the
ruling sentiment of which they are conscious in themselves at the time.
He hints that this is perhaps the reason why a coxcomb always believes
himself to be handsome.[54] And in a letter to Mirabeau, he describes
pleasantly how sometimes in moments of distraction he pictures himself
with an air of loftiness, of majesty, of penetration, according to the
idea that is occupying his mind, and how if by chance he sees his face
in the mirror, he is nearly as much amazed as if he saw a Cyclops or a
Tartar.[55] Yet his nature, if we may trust the portrait, revealed
itself in his face; it is one of the most delightful to look upon, even
in the cold inarticulateness of an engraving, that the gallery of fair
souls contains for us. We may read the beauty of his character in the
soft strength of the brow, the meditative lines of mouth and chin, above
all, the striking clearness, the self-collection, the feminine
solicitude, that mingle freely and without eagerness or expectancy in
his gaze, as though he were hearkening to some ever-flowing inward
stream of divine melody. We think of that gracious touch in Bacon's
picture of the father of Solomon's House, that 'he had an aspect as
though he pitied men.' If we reproach France in the eighteenth century
with its coarseness, artificiality, shallowness, because it produced
such men as the rather brutish Duclos, we ought to remember that this
was also the century of Vauvenargues, one of the most tender, lofty,
cheerful, and delicately sober of all moralists.


[Footnote 1: _Pensées_, i. v. 8.]

[Footnote 2: _Ib._ i. vi. 16.]

[Footnote 3: _Ib._ i. vii. 6.]

[Footnote 4: M. Gilbert's edition of the _Works and Correspondence of
Vauvenargues_ (2 vols. Paris: Furne, 1857), ii. 133.]

[Footnote 5: _Éloge de P.H. de Seytres_. _OEuv._ i. 141-150.]

[Footnote 6: _OEuv._ ii. 233. See too p. 267.]

[Footnote 7: No. 579, i. 455.]

[Footnote 8: _Réflexions sur Divers Sujets_, i. 104.]

[Footnote 9: _OEuv._ ii. 249.]

[Footnote 10: _Ib._ ii. 265.]

[Footnote 11: _Ib._ ii. 266.]

[Footnote 12: _Conseils à un Jeune Homme_, i. 124.]

[Footnote 13: _OEuv._ ii. 252.]

[Footnote 14: _Ib._ ii. 272.]

[Footnote 15: _Mémoires de Marmontel_, vol. i. 189.]

[Footnote 16: The reader of Marmontel's _Mémoires_ will remember the
extraordinary and grotesque circumstances under which a younger brother
of Mirabeau, (of _l'ami des hommes_, that is) appealed to the memory of
Vauvenargues. See vol. i. 256-260.]

[Footnote 17: _OEuv._ i. 225-232.]

[Footnote 18: _Letter to Saint-Vincens_, ii. 146.]

[Footnote 19: No. 318.]

[Footnote 20: Napoleon said on some occasion, '_Il faut vouloir vivre et
savoir mourir_.' M. Littré prefaces the third volume of that heroic
monument of learning and industry, his _Dictionary of the French
Language_, by the words: 'He who wishes to employ his life seriously
ought always to act as if he had long to live, and to govern himself as
if he would have soon to die.']

[Footnote 21: No. 223.]

[Footnote 22: No. 300.]

[Footnote 23: No. 264.]

[Footnote 24: _Réflexions Critiques sur quelques Poètes_, i. 237.]

[Footnote 25: _OEuv_. i. 248.]

[Footnote 26: _Réflexions Critiques sur quelques Poètes_, i. 238.]

[Footnote 27: _OEuv._ i. 243.]

[Footnote 28: _OEuv._ i. 275.]

[Footnote 29: _Correspondance_. _OEuv._ ii. 131, 207.]

[Footnote 30: Long-winded and tortuous and difficult to seize as
Shaftesbury is as a whole, in detached sentences he shows marked
aphoristic quality; _e.g._ 'The most ingenious way of becoming foolish
is by a system;' 'The liker anything is to wisdom, if it be not plainly
the thing itself, the more directly it becomes its opposite.']

[Footnote 31: No. 278 (i. 411).]

[Footnote 32: _OEuv._ ii. 115.]

[Footnote 33: _Ib._ i. 87.]

[Footnote 34:
                                     Doch
    Zuweilen ist des Sinns in einer Sache
    Auch mehr, als wir vermuthen; und es wäre
    So unerhört doch nicht, dass uns der Heiland
    Auf Wegen zu sich zöge, die der Kluge
    Von selbst nicht leicht betreten würde.

    _Nathan der Weise_, iii. 10.]

[Footnote 35: _Reflections on the French Revolution_, Works (ed. 1842),
i. 414.]

[Footnote 36: _OEuv._ ii. 170.]

[Footnote 37: No. 111.]

[Footnote 38: _OEuv._ ii. 74.]

[Footnote 39: No. 285.]

[Footnote 40: 'A man may as well pretend to cure himself of love by
viewing his mistress through the artificial medium of a microscope or
prospect, and beholding there the coarseness of her skin and monstrous
disproportion of her features, as hope to excite or moderate any passion
by the artificial arguments of a Seneca or an Epictetus.'--Hume's
_Essays_ (xviii. _The Sceptic_).]

[Footnote 41: _OEuv._ i. 163.]

[Footnote 42: Nos. 296-298, 148.]

[Footnote 43: _Sur le Libre Arbitre_. _OEuv._ i. 199.]

[Footnote 44: _Politique Positive_, iii. 589.]

[Footnote 45: _Ib._ i. 194.]

[Footnote 46: _Politique Positive_, 205.]

[Footnote 47: _Ib._ 206, 207.]

[Footnote 48: No. 330.]

[Footnote 49: Nos. 462, 463.]

[Footnote 50: _Correspondance_. _OEuv._ ii. 163.]

[Footnote 51: _OEuv._ i. 310.]

[Footnote 52: _OEuv._ i. 325.]

[Footnote 53: _OEuv._ i. 326.]

[Footnote 54: No. 236.]

[Footnote 55: _OEuv_. ii. 188.]





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