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Title: Lectures on the true, the beautiful and the good
Author: Cousin, Victor
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Lectures on the true, the beautiful and the good" ***







An Appendix on French Art.




"God is the life of the soul, as the soul is the life of the body."
                                    THE PLATONISTS AND THE FATHERS.

549 & 551 BROADWAY.

Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1854,


In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States
for the Southern District of New York.


                  SIR WILLIAM HAMILTON, BART.,

 Professor of Logic and Metaphysics in the University of Edinburgh:



                          COMMON SENSE;













        Lectures on the True, the Beautiful, and the Good,






                     HAVE BEEN ADORNED BY



For some time past we have been asked, on various sides, to collect in a
body of doctrine the theories scattered in our different works, and to
sum up, in just proportions, what men are pleased to call our

This _résumé_ was wholly made. We had only to take again the lectures
already quite old, but little known, because they belonged to a time
when the courses of the Faculté des Lettres had scarcely any influence
beyond the Quartier Latin, and, also, because they could be found only
in a considerable collection, comprising all our first instruction, from
1815 to 1821.[1] These lectures were there, as it were, lost in the
crowd. We have drawn them hence, and give them apart, severely
corrected, in the hope that they will thus be accessible to a greater
number of readers, and that their true character will the better appear.

The eighteen lectures that compose this volume have in fact the
particular trait that, if the history of philosophy furnishes their
frame-work, philosophy itself occupies in them the first place, and
that, instead of researches of erudition and criticism, they present a
regular exposition of the doctrine which was at first fixed in our mind,
which has not ceased to preside over our labors.

This book, then, contains the abridged but exact expression of our
convictions on the fundamental points of philosophic science. In it will
be openly seen the method that is the soul of our enterprise, our
principles, our processes, our results.

Under these three heads, the True, the Beautiful, the Good, we embrace
psychology, placed by us at the head of all philosophy, æsthetics,
ethics, natural right, even public right to a certain extent, finally
theodicea, that perilous _rendez-vous_ of all systems, where different
principles are condemned or justified by their consequences.

It is the affair of our book to plead its own cause. We only desire that
it may be appreciated and judged according to what it really is, and not
according to an opinion too much accredited.

Eclecticism is persistently represented as the doctrine to which men
deign to attach our name. We declare that eclecticism is very dear to
us, for it is in our eyes the light of the history of philosophy; but
the source of that light is elsewhere. Eclecticism is one of the most
important and most useful applications of the philosophy which we teach,
but it is not its principle.

Our true doctrine, our true flag is spiritualism, that philosophy as
solid as generous, which began with Socrates and Plato, which the Gospel
has spread abroad in the world, which Descartes put under the severe
forms of modern genius, which in the seventeenth century was one of the
glories and forces of our country, which perished with the national
grandeur in the eighteenth century, which at the commencement of the
present century M. Royer-Collard came to re-establish in public
instruction, whilst M. de Chateaubriand, Madame de Staël, and M.
Quatremère de Quincy transferred it into literature and the arts. To it
is rightly given the name of spiritualism, because its character in fact
is that of subordinating the senses to the spirit, and tending, by all
the means that reason acknowledges, to elevate and ennoble man. It
teaches the spirituality of the soul, the liberty and responsibility of
human actions, moral obligation, disinterested virtue, the dignity of
justice, the beauty of charity; and beyond the limits of this world it
shows a God, author and type of humanity, who, after having evidently
made man for an excellent end, will not abandon him in the mysterious
development of his destiny. This philosophy is the natural ally of all
good causes. It sustains religious sentiment; it seconds true art, poesy
worthy of the name, and a great literature; it is the support of right;
it equally repels the craft of the demagogue and tyranny; it teaches all
men to respect and value themselves, and, little by little, it conducts
human societies to the true republic, that dream of all generous souls
which in our times can be realized in Europe only by constitutional

To aid, with all our power, in setting up, defending, and propagating
this noble philosophy, such is the object that early inspired us, that
has sustained during a career already lengthy, in which difficulties
have not been wanting. Thank God, time has rather strengthened than
weakened our convictions, and we end as we began: this new edition of
one of our first works is a last effort in favor of the holy cause for
which we have combated nearly forty years.

May our voice be heard by new generations as it was by the serious youth
of the Restoration! Yes, it is particularly to you that we address this
work, young men whom we no longer know, but whom we bear in our heart,
because you are the seed and the hope of the future. We have shown you
the principle of our evils and their remedy. If you love liberty and
your country, shun what has destroyed them. Far from you be that sad
philosophy which preaches to you materialism and atheism as new
doctrines destined to regenerate the world: they kill, it is true, but
they do not regenerate. Do not listen to those superficial spirits who
give themselves out as profound thinkers, because after Voltaire they
have discovered difficulties in Christianity: measure your progress in
philosophy by your progress in tender veneration for the religion of the
Gospel. Be well persuaded that, in France, democracy will always
traverse liberty, that it brings all right into disorder, and through
disorder into dictatorship. Ask, then, only a moderated liberty, and
attach yourself to that with all the powers of your soul. Do not bend
the knee to fortune, but accustom yourselves to bow to law. Entertain
the noble sentiment of respect. Know how to admire,--possess the worship
of great men and great things. Reject that enervating literature, by
turns gross and refined, which delights in painting the miseries of
human nature, which caresses all our weaknesses, which pays court to the
senses and the imagination, instead of speaking to the soul and
awakening thought. Guard yourselves against the malady of our century,
that fatal taste of an accommodating life, incompatible with all
generous ambition. Whatever career you embrace, propose to yourselves an
elevated aim, and put in its service an unalterable constancy. _Sursum
corda_, value highly your heart, wherein is seen all philosophy, that
which we have retained from all our studies, which we have taught to
your predecessors, which we leave to you as our last word, our final

                                                    V. COUSIN.

    _June 15, 1853._

       *       *       *       *       *

A too indulgent public having promptly rendered necessary a new edition
of this book, we are forced to render it less unworthy of the suffrages
which it has obtained, by reviewing it with severe attention, by
introducing a mass of corrections in detail, and a considerable number
of additions, among which the only ones that need be indicated here are
some pages on Christianity at the end of Lecture XVI., and the notes
placed as an Appendix[2] at the end of the volume, on various works of
French masters which we have quite recently seen in England, which have
confirmed and increased our old admiration for our national art of the
seventeenth century.

    _November 1, 1853._


[1] 1st Series of our work, _Cours de l'Histoire de la Philosophie
Moderne_, five volumes.

[2] The Appendix has been translated by Mr. N. E. S. A. Hamilton of the
British Museum, who is alone entitled to credit and alone


The nature of this publication is sufficiently explained in the preface
of M. Cousin.

We have attempted to render his book, without comment, faithfully into
English. Not only have we endeavored to give his thought without
increase or diminution, but have also tried to preserve the main
characteristics of his style. On the one hand, we have carefully shunned
idioms peculiar to the French; on the other, when permitted by the laws
of structure common to both languages, we have followed the general
order of sentences, even the succession of words. It has been our aim to
make this work wholly Cousin's in substance, and in form as nearly his
as possible, with a total change of dress. That, however, we may have
nowhere missed a shade of meaning, nowhere introduced a gallicism, is
too much to be hoped for, too much to be demanded.

M. Cousin, in his Philosophical Discussions, defines the terms that he
uses. In the translation of these we have maintained uniformity, so that
in this regard no farther explanation is necessary.

This is, perhaps, in a philosophical point of view, the most important
of all M. Cousin's works, for it contains a complete summary and lucid
exposition of the various parts of his system. It is now the last word
of European philosophy, and merits serious and thoughtful attention.

This and many more like it, are needed in these times, when noisy and
pretentious demagogues are speaking of metaphysics with idiotic
laughter, when utilitarian statesmen are sneering at philosophy, when
undisciplined sectarians of every kind are decrying it; when, too,
earnest men, in state and church, men on whose shoulders the social
world really rests, are invoking philosophy, not only as the best
instrument of the highest culture and the severest mental discipline,
but also as the best human means of guiding politics towards the
eternally true and the eternally just, of preserving theology from the
aberrations of a zeal without knowledge, and from the perversion of the
interested and the cunning; when many an artist, who feels the nobility
of his calling, who would address the mind of man rather than his
senses, is asking a generous philosophy to explain to him that ravishing
and torturing Ideal which is ever eluding his grasp, which often
discourages unless understood; when, above all, devout and tender souls
are learning to prize philosophy, since, in harmony with Revelation, it
strengthens their belief in God, freedom, immortality.

Grateful to an indulgent public, on both sides of the ocean, for a
kindly and very favorable reception of our version of M. Cousin's
"Course of the History of Modern Philosophy," we add this translation of
his "Lectures on the True, the Beautiful, and the Good," hoping that his
explanation of human nature will aid some in solving the grave problem
of life,--for there are always those, and the most gifted, too, who feel
the need of understanding themselves,--believing that his eloquence, his
elevated sentiment, and elevated thought, will afford gratification to a
refined taste, a chaste imagination, and a disciplined mind.

                                                    O. W. WIGHT.

    LONDON, Dec. 21, 1853


The Publishers have to express their thanks to M. COUSIN for his cordial
concurrence, and especially for his kindness in transmitting the sheets
of the French original as printed, so that this translation appears
almost simultaneously with it.

        Dec. 26, 1853.



AUTHOR'S PREFACE                                               _Page_  7

TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE                                                  15

OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY                                             25

    Spirit and general principles of the Course.--Object of the
    Lectures of this year:--application of the principles of which
    an exposition is given, to the three Problems of the True, the
    Beautiful, and the Good.



    Two great wants, that of absolute truths, and that of absolute
    truths that may not be chimeras. To satisfy these two wants is
    the problem of the philosophy of our time.--Universal and
    necessary principles.--Examples of different kinds of such
    principles.--Distinction between universal and necessary
    principles and general principles.--Experience alone is
    incapable of explaining universal and necessary principles, and
    also incapable of dispensing with them in order to arrive at the
    knowledge of the sensible world.--Reason as being that faculty
    of ours which discovers to us these principles.--The study of
    universal and necessary principles introduces us to the highest
    parts of philosophy.


    _Résumé_ of the preceding Lecture. A new question, that of the
    origin of universal and necessary principles.--Danger of this
    question, and its necessity.--Different forms under which truth
    presents itself to us, and the successive order of these forms:
    theory of spontaneity and reflection.--The primitive form of
    principles; abstraction that disengages them from that form,
    and gives them their actual form.--Examination and refutation of
    the theory that attempts to explain the origin of principles by
    an induction founded on particular notions.


    Examination and refutation of Kant's skepticism.--Recurrence to
    the theory of spontaneity and reflection.

LECTURE IV.--GOD THE PRINCIPLE OF PRINCIPLES                          75

    Object of the lecture: What is the ultimate basis of absolute
    truth?--Four hypotheses: Absolute truth may reside either in us,
    in particular beings and the world, in itself, or in God. 1. We
    perceive absolute truth, we do not constitute it. 2. Particular
    beings participate in absolute truth, but do not explain it;
    refutation of Aristotle. 3. Truth does not exist in itself;
    defence of Plato. 4. Truth resides in God.--Plato; St.
    Augustine; Descartes; Malebranche; Fénelon; Bossuet;
    Leibnitz.--Truth the mediator between God and man.--Essential

LECTURE V.--ON MYSTICISM                                             102

    Distinction between the philosophy that we profess and
    mysticism. Mysticism consists in pretending to know God without
    an intermediary.--Two sorts of mysticism.--Mysticism of
    sentiment. Theory of sensibility. Two sensibilities--the one
    external, the other internal, and corresponding to the soul as
    external sensibility corresponds to nature.--Legitimate part of
    sentiment.--Its aberrations.--Philosophical mysticism. Plotinus:
    God, or absolute unity, perceived without an intermediary by
    pure thought.--Ecstasy.--Mixture of superstition and abstraction
    in mysticism.--Conclusion of the first part of the course.


LECTURE VI.--THE BEAUTIFUL IN THE MIND OF MAN                        123

    The method that must govern researches on the beautiful and art
    is, as in the investigation of the true, to commence by
    psychology.--Faculties of the soul that unite in the perception
    of the beautiful.--The senses give only the agreeable; reason
    alone gives the idea of the beautiful.--Refutation of
    empiricism, that confounds the agreeable and the
    beautiful.--Pre-eminence of reason.--Sentiment of the beautiful;
    different from sensation and desire.--Distinction between the
    sentiment of the beautiful and that of the
    sublime.--Imagination.--Influence of sentiment on
    imagination.--Influence of imagination on sentiment.--Theory of

LECTURE VII.--THE BEAUTIFUL IN OBJECTS                               140

    Refutation of different theories on the nature of the beautiful:
    the beautiful cannot be reduced to what is useful.--Nor to
    convenience.--Nor to proportion.--Essential characters of the
    beautiful.--Different kinds of beauties. The beautiful and the
    sublime. Physical beauty. Intellectual beauty. Moral
    beauty.--Ideal beauty: it is especially moral beauty.--God, the
    first principle of the beautiful.--Theory of Plato.

LECTURE VIII.--ON ART                                                154

    Genius:--its attribute is creative power.--Refutation of the
    opinion that art is the imitation of nature--M. Emeric David,
    and M. Quatremère de Quincy.--Refutation of the theory of
    illusion. That dramatic art has not solely for its end to excite
    the passions of terror and pity.--Nor even directly the moral
    and religious sentiment.--The proper and direct object of art is
    to produce the idea and the sentiment of the beautiful; this
    idea and this sentiment purify and elevate the soul by the
    affinity between the beautiful and the good, and by the relation
    of ideal beauty to its principle, which is God.--True mission of

LECTURE IX.--THE DIFFERENT ARTS                                      165

    Expression is the general law of art.--Division of
    arts.--Distinction between liberal arts and trades.--Eloquence
    itself, philosophy, and history do not make a part of the fine
    arts.--That the arts gain nothing by encroaching upon each
    other, and usurping each other's means and
    processes.--Classification of the arts:--its true principle is
    expression.--Comparison of arts with each other.--Poetry the
    first of arts.


    Expression not only serves to appreciate the different arts, but
    the different schools of art. Example:--French art in the
    seventeenth century. French poetry:--Corneille. Racine. Molière.
    La Fontaine. Boileau.--Painting:--Lesueur. Poussin. Le Lorrain.
    Champagne.--Engraving.--Sculpture:--Sarrazin. The Anguiers.
    Girardon. Pujet.--Le Nôtre.--Architecture.


LECTURE XI.--PRIMARY NOTIONS OF COMMON SENSE                         215

    Extent of the question of the good.--Position of the question
    according to the psychological method: What is, in regard to the
    good, the natural belief of mankind?--The natural beliefs of
    humanity must not be sought in a pretended state of nature.--
    Study of the sentiments and ideas of men in languages, in life,
    in consciousness.--Disinterestedness and devotedness.--Liberty.--
    Esteem and contempt.--Respect.--Admiration and indignation.--
    Dignity.--Empire of opinion.--Ridicule.--Regret and repentance.--
    Natural and necessary foundations of all justice.--Distinction
    between fact and right.--Common sense, true and false philosophy.

LECTURE XII.--THE ETHICS OF INTEREST                                 229

    Exposition of the doctrine of interest.--What there is of truth
    in this doctrine.--Its defects. 1st. It confounds liberty and
    desire, and thereby abolishes liberty. 2d. It cannot explain the
    fundamental distinction between good and evil. 3d. It cannot
    explain obligation and duty. 4th. Nor right. 5th. Nor the
    principle of merit and demerit.--Consequences of the ethics of
    interest: that they cannot admit a providence, and lead to

LECTURE XIII.--OTHER DEFECTIVE PRINCIPLES                            255

    The ethics of sentiment.--The ethics founded on the principle of
    the interest of the greatest number.--The ethics founded on the
    will of God alone.--The ethics founded on the punishments and
    rewards of another life.

LECTURE XIV.--TRUE PRINCIPLES OF ETHICS                              274

    Description of the different facts that compose the moral
    phenomena.--Analysis of each of these facts:--1st, Judgment and
    idea of the good. That this judgment is absolute. Relation
    between the true and the good.--2d, Obligation. Refutation of
    the doctrine of Kant that draws the idea of the good from
    obligation instead of founding obligation on the idea of the
    good.--3d, Liberty, and the moral notions attached to the notion
    of liberty.--4th, Principle of merit and demerit. Punishments
    and rewards.--5th, Moral sentiments.--Harmony of all these facts
    in nature and science.

LECTURE XV.--PRIVATE AND PUBLIC ETHICS                               301

    Application of the preceding principles.--General formula of
    interest,--to obey reason.--Rule for judging whether an action
    is or is not conformed to reason,--to elevate the motive of this
    action into a maxim of universal legislation.--Individual
    ethics. It is not towards the individual, but towards the moral
    person that one is obligated. Principle of all individual
    duties,--to respect and develop the moral person.--Social
    ethics,--duties of justice and duties of charity.--Civil
    society. Government. Law. The right to punish.


    Principle on which true theodicea rests. God the last foundation
    of moral truth, of the good, and of the moral person.--Liberty
    of God.--The divine justice and charity.--God the sanction of
    the moral law. Immortality of the soul; argument from merit and
    demerit; argument from the simplicity of the soul; argument from
    final causes.--Religious sentiment.--Adoration.--Worship.--Moral
    beauty of Christianity.

LECTURE XVII.--RÉSUMÉ OF DOCTRINE                                    346

    Review of the doctrine contained in these lectures, and the
    three orders of facts on which this doctrine rests, with the
    relation of each one of them to the modern school that has
    recognized and developed it, but almost always exaggerated
    it.--Experience and empiricism.--Reason and idealism.--Sentiment
    and mysticism.--Theodicea. Defects of different known
    systems.--The process that conducts to true theodicea, and the
    character of certainty and reality that this process gives to

APPENDIX                                                             371






DECEMBER 4, 1817.


    Spirit and general principles of the Course.--Object of the
    Lectures of this year:--application of the principles of which
    an exposition is given, to the three Problems of the True, the
    Beautiful, and the Good.

It seems natural that a century, in its beginning, should borrow its
philosophy from the century that preceded it. But, as free and
intelligent beings, we are not born merely to continue our predecessors,
but to increase their work, and also to do our own. We cannot accept
from them an inheritance except under the condition of improving it. Our
first duty is, then, to render to ourselves an account of the philosophy
of the eighteenth century; to recognize its character and its
principles, the problems which it agitated, and the solutions which it
gave of them; to discern, in fine, what it transmits to us of the true
and the productive, and what it also leaves of the sterile and the
false, in order that, with reflective choice, we may embrace the former
and reject the latter.[3] Placed at the entrance of the new times, let
us know, first of all, with what views we would occupy ourselves.
Moreover,--why should I not say it?--after two years of instruction, in
which the professor, in some sort, has been investigating himself, one
has a right to demand of him what he is; what are his most general
principles on all the essential parts of philosophic science; what flag,
in fine, in the midst of parties which contend with each other so
violently, he proposes for you, young men, who frequent this auditory,
and who are called upon to participate in a destiny still so uncertain
and so obscure in the nineteenth century, to follow.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is not patriotism, it is a profound sentiment of truth and justice,
which makes us place the whole philosophy now expanded in the world
under the invocation of the name of Descartes. Yes, the whole of modern
philosophy is the work of this great man, for it owes to him the spirit
that animates it, and the method that constitutes its power.

After the downfall of scholasticism and the mournful disruptures of the
sixteenth century, the first object which the bold good sense of
Descartes proposed to itself was to make philosophy a human science,
like astronomy, physiology, medicine, subject to the same uncertainties
and to the same aberrations, but capable also of the same progress.

Descartes encountered the skepticism spread on every side in the train
of so many revolutions, ambitious hypotheses, born out of the first use
of an ill-regulated liberty, and the old formulas surviving the ruins of
scholasticism. In his courageous passion for truth, he resolved to
reject, provisorily at least, all the ideas that hitherto he had
received without controlling them, firmly decided not to admit any but
those which, after a serious examination, might appear to him evident.
But he perceived that there was one thing which he could not reject,
even provisorily, in his universal doubt,--that thing was the existence
itself of his doubt, that is to say, of his thought; for although all
the rest might be only an illusion, this fact, that he thought, could
not be an illusion. Descartes, therefore, stopped at this fact, of an
irresistible evidence, as at the first truth which he could accept
without fear. Recognizing at the same time that thought is the necessary
instrument of all the investigations which he might propose to himself,
as well as the instrument of the human race in the acquisition of its
natural knowledges,[4] he devoted himself to a regular study of it, to
the analysis of thought as the condition of all legitimate philosophy,
and upon this solid foundation he reared a doctrine of a character at
once certain and living, capable of resisting skepticism, exempt from
hypotheses, and affranchised from the formulas of the schools.

Thus the analysis of thought, and of the mind which is the subject of
it, that is to say, psychology, has become the point of departure, the
most general principle, the important method of modern philosophy.[5]

Nevertheless, it must indeed be owned, philosophy has not entirely lost,
and sometimes still retains, since Descartes and in Descartes himself,
its old habits. It rarely belongs to the same man to open and run a
career, and usually the inventor succumbs under the weight of his own
invention. So Descartes, after having so well placed the point of
departure for all philosophical investigation, more than once forgets
analysis, and returns, at least in form, to the ancient philosophy.[6]
The true method, again, is more than once effaced in the hands of his
first successors, under the always increasing influence of the
mathematical method.

Two periods may be distinguished in the Cartesian era,--one in which the
method, in its newness, is often misconceived; the other, in which one
is forced, at least, to re-enter the salutary way opened by Descartes.
To the first belong Malebranche, Spinoza, Leibnitz himself; to the
second, the philosophers of the eighteenth century.

Without doubt Malebranche, upon some points, descended very far into
interior investigation; but most of the time he gave himself up to
wander in an imaginary world, and lost sight of the real world. It is
not a method that is wanting to Spinoza, but a good method; his error
consists in having applied to philosophy the geometrical method, which
proceeds by axioms, definitions, theorems, corollaries; no one has made
less use of the psychological method; that is the principle and the
condemnation of his system. The _Nouveaux Essais sur l'Entendement
Humain_ exhibit Leibnitz opposing observation to observation, analysis
to analysis; but his genius usually hovers over science, instead of
advancing in it step by step; hence the results at which he arrives are
often only brilliant hypotheses, for example, the pre-established
harmony, now relegated among the analogous hypotheses of occasional
causes and a plastic mediator. In general, the philosophy of the
seventeenth century, by not employing with sufficient rigor and firmness
the method with which Descartes had armed it, produced little else than
systems, ingenious without doubt, bold and profound, but often also
rash,--systems that have failed to keep their place in science.[7] In
fact, nothing is durable except that which is founded upon a sound
method; time destroys all the rest; time, which re-collects,
fecundates, aggrandizes the least germs of truth deposited in the
humblest analyses, strikes without pity, engulfs hypotheses, even those
of genius. Time takes a step, and arbitrary systems are overturned; the
statues of their authors alone remain standing over their ruins. The
task of the friend of truth is to search for the useful remains of them,
that survive and can serve for new and more solid constructions.

The philosophy of the eighteenth century opens the second period of the
Cartesian era; it proposed to itself to apply the method already
discovered and too much neglected,--it applied itself to the analysis of
thought. Disabused of ambitious and sterile attempts, and, like
Descartes, disdainful of the past, the eighteenth century dared to think
that every thing in philosophy was to be done over again, and that, in
order not to wander anew, it was necessary to set out with the modest
study of man. Instead, therefore, of building up all at once systems
risked upon the universality of things, it undertook to examine what man
knows, what he can know; it brought back entire philosophy to the study
of our faculties, as physics had just been brought back to the study of
the properties of bodies,--which was giving to philosophy, if not its
end, at least its true beginning.

The great schools which divide the eighteenth century are the English
and French school, the Scotch school, and the German school, that is to
say, the school of Locke and Condillac, that of Reid, that of Kant. It
is impossible to misconceive the common principle which animates them,
the unity of their method. When one examines with impartiality the
method of Locke, he sees that it consists in the analysis of thought;
and it is thereby that Locke is a disciple, not of Bacon and Hobbes, but
of our great countryman, Descartes.[8] To study the human understanding
as it is in each one of us, to recognize its powers, and also its
limits, is the problem which the English philosopher proposed to
himself, and which he attempted to solve. I do not wish to judge here
of the solution which he gave of this problem; I limit myself to
indicating clearly what was for him the fundamental problem. Condillac,
the French disciple of Locke, made himself everywhere the apostle of
analysis; and analysis was also in him, or at least should have been,
the study of thought. No philosopher, not even Spinoza, has wandered
farther than Condillac[9] from the true experimental method, and has
strayed farther on the route of abstractions, even verbal abstractions;
but, strange enough, no one is severer than he against hypotheses, save
that of the statue-man. The author of the _Traité des Sensations_ has
very unfaithfully practised analysis; but he speaks of it without
cessation. The Scotch school combats Locke and Condillac; it combats
them, but with their own arms, with the same method which it pretends to
apply better.[10] In Germany, Kant wishes to replace in light and honor
the superior element of human consciousness, left in the shade, and
decried by the philosophy of his times; and for that end, what does he
do? He undertakes a profound examination of the faculty of knowing; the
title of his principal work is, _Critique of Pure Reason_;[11] it is a
critique, that is to say again, an analysis; the method of Kant is then
no other than that of Locke and Reid. Follow it until it reaches the
hands of Fichte,[12] the successor of Kant, who died but a few years
since; there, again, the analysis of thought is given as the foundation
of philosophy. Kant was so firmly established in the subject of
knowledge, that he could scarcely go out of it--that, in fact, he never
did legitimately go out of it. Fichte plunged into the subject of
knowledge so deeply that he buried himself in it, and absorbed in the
human _me_ all existences, as well as all sciences--sad shipwreck of
analysis, which signalizes at once its greatest effort and its rock!

The same spirit, therefore, governs all the schools of the eighteenth
century; this century disdains arbitrary formulas; it has a horror for
hypotheses, and attaches itself, or pretends to attach itself, to the
observation of facts, and particularly to the analysis of thought.

Let us acknowledge with freedom and with grief, that the eighteenth
century applied analysis to all things without pity and without measure.
It cited before its tribunal all doctrines, all sciences; neither the
metaphysics of the preceding age, with their imposing systems, nor the
arts with their prestige, nor the governments with their ancient
authority, nor the religions with their majesty,--nothing found favor
before it. Although it spied abysses at the bottom of what it called
philosophy, it threw itself into them with a courage which is not
without grandeur; for the grandeur of man is to prefer what he believes
to be truth to himself. The eighteenth century let loose tempests.
Humanity no more progressed, except over ruins. The world was again
agitated in that state of disorder in which it had already been once
seen, at the decline of the ancient beliefs, and before the triumphs of
Christianity, when men wandered through all contraries, without power to
rest anywhere, given up to every disquietude of spirit, to every misery
of heart, fanatical and atheistical, mystical and incredulous,
voluptuous and sanguinary.[13] But if the philosophy of the eighteenth
century has left us a vacuity for an inheritance, it has also left us an
energetic and fecund love of truth. The eighteenth century was the age
of criticism and destructions; the nineteenth should be that of
intelligent rehabilitations. It belongs to it to find in a profounder
analysis of thought the principles of the future, and with so many
remains to raise, in fine, an edifice that reason may be able to

A feeble but zealous workman, I come to bring my stone; I come to do my
work; I come to extract from the midst of the ruins what has not
perished, what cannot perish. This course is at once a return to the
past, an effort towards the future. I propose neither to attack nor to
defend any of the three great schools that divide the eighteenth
century. I will not attempt to perpetuate and envenom the warfare which
divides them, complacently designating the differences which separate
them, without taking an account of the community of method which unites
them. I come, on the contrary, a devoted soldier of philosophy, a common
friend of all the schools which it has produced, to offer to all the
words of peace.

The unity of modern philosophy, as we have said, resides in its method,
that is to say, in the analysis of thought--a method superior to its own
results, for it contains in itself the means of repairing the errors
that escape it, of indefinitely adding new riches to riches already
acquired. The physical sciences themselves have no other unity. The
great physicians who have appeared within two centuries, although united
amongst themselves by the same point of departure and by the same end,
generally accepted, have nevertheless proceeded with independence and in
ways often opposite. Time has re-collected in their different theories
the part of truth that produced them and sustained them; it has
neglected their errors from which they were unable to extricate
themselves, and uniting all the discoveries worthy of the name, it has
little by little formed of them a vast and harmonious whole. Modern
philosophy has also been enriched during the two centuries with a
multitude of exact observations, of solid and profound theories, for
which it is indebted to the common method. What has hindered her from
progressing at an equal pace with the physical sciences whose sister she
is? She has been hindered by not understanding better her own interests,
by not tolerating diversities that are inevitable, that are even
useful, and by not profiting by the truths which all the particular
doctrines contain, in order to deduce from them a general doctrine,
which is successively and perpetually purified and aggrandized.

Not, indeed, that I would recommend that blind syncretism which
destroyed the school of Alexandria, which attempted to bring contrary
systems together by force; what I recommend is an enlightened
eclecticism, which, judging with equity, and even with benevolence, all
schools, borrows from them what they possess of the true, and neglects
what in them is false. Since the spirit of party has hitherto succeeded
so ill with us, let us try the spirit of conciliation. Human thought is
immense. Each school has looked at it only from its own point of view.
This point of view is not false, but it is incomplete, and moreover, it
is exclusive. It expresses but one side of truth, and rejects all the
others. The question is not to decry and recommence the work of our
predecessors, but to perfect it in reuniting, and in fortifying by that
reunion, all the truths scattered in the different systems which the
eighteenth century has transmitted to us.

Such is the principle to which we have been conducted by two years of
study upon modern philosophy, from Descartes to our times. This
principle, badly disengaged at first, we applied for the first time
within the narrowest limits, and only to theories relative to the
question of personal existence.[14] We then extended it to a greater
number of questions and theories; we touched the principal points of the
intellectual and moral order,[15] and at the same time that we were
continuing the investigations of our illustrious predecessor, M.
Royer-Collard, upon the schools of France, England, and Scotland, we
commenced the study new among us, the difficult but interesting and
fecund study, of the philosophy of Koenigsberg. We can at the present
time, therefore, embrace all the schools of the eighteenth century, and
all the problems which they agitated.

Philosophy, in all times, turns upon the fundamental ideas of the true,
the beautiful, and the good. The idea of the true, philosophically
developed, is psychology, logic, metaphysic; the idea of the good is
private and public morals; the idea of the beautiful is that science
which, in Germany, is called æsthetics, the details of which pertain to
the criticism of literature, the criticism of arts, but whose general
principles have always occupied a more or less considerable place in the
researches, and even in the teaching of philosophers, from Plato and
Aristotle to Hutcheson and Kant.

Upon these essential points which constitute the entire domain of
philosophy, we will successively interrogate the principal schools of
the eighteenth century.

When we examine them all with attention, we can easily reduce them to
two,--one of which, in the analysis of thought, the common subject of
all their works, gives to sensation an excessive part; the other of
which, in this same analysis, going to the opposite extreme, deduces
consciousness almost wholly from a faculty different from that of
sensation--reason. The first of these schools is the empirical school,
of which the father, or rather the wisest representative, is Locke, and
Condillac the extreme representative; the second is the spiritualistic
or rationalistic school, as it is called, which reckons among its
illustrious interpreters Reid, who is the most irreproachable, and Kant,
who is the most systematic. Surely there is truth in these two schools,
and truth is a good which must be taken wherever one finds it. We
willingly admit, with the empirical school, that the senses have not
been given us in vain; that this admirable organization which elevates
us above all other animate beings, is a rich and varied instrument,
which it would be folly to neglect. We are convinced that the spectacle
of the world is a permanent source of sound and sublime instruction.
Upon this point neither Aristotle, nor Bacon, nor Locke, has in us an
adversary, but a disciple. We acknowledge, or rather we proclaim, that
in the analysis of human knowledge, it is necessary to assign to the
senses an important part. But when the empirical school pretends that
all that passes beyond the reach of the senses is a chimera, then we
abandon it, and go over to the opposite school. We profess to believe,
for example, that, without an agreeable impression, never should we have
conceived the beautiful, and that, notwithstanding, the beautiful is not
merely the agreeable; that, thank heaven, happiness is usually added to
virtue, but that the idea itself of virtue is essentially different from
that of happiness. On this point we are openly of the opinion of Reid
and Kant. We have also established, and will again establish, that the
reason of man is in possession of principles which sensation precedes
but does not explain, and which are directly suggested to us by the
power of reason alone. We will follow Kant thus far, but not farther.
Far from following him, we will combat him, when, after having
victoriously defended the great principles of every kind against
empiricism, he strikes them with sterility, in pretending that they have
no value beyond the inclosure of the reason which possesses them,
condemning also to impotence that same reason which he has just elevated
so high, and opening the way to a refined and learned skepticism which,
after all, ends at the same abyss with ordinary skepticism.

You perceive that we shall be by turns with Locke, with Reid, and with
Kant, in that just and strong measure which is called eclecticism.

Eclecticism is in our eyes the true historical method, and it has for us
all the importance of the history of philosophy; but there is something
which we place above the history of philosophy, and, consequently, above
eclecticism,--philosophy itself.

The history of philosophy does not carry its own light with it, it is
not its own end. How could eclecticism, which has no other field than
history, be our only, our primary, object?

It is, doubtless, just, it is of the highest utility, to discriminate in
each system what there is true in it from what there is false in it;
first, in order to appreciate this system rightly; then, in order to
render the false of no account, to disengage and re-collect the true,
and thus to enrich and aggrandize philosophy by history. But you
conceive that we must already know what truth is, in order to recognize
it, and to distinguish it from the error with which it is mixed; so that
the criticism of systems almost demands a system, so that the history of
philosophy is constrained to first borrow from philosophy the light
which it must one day return to it with usury.

In fine, the history of philosophy is only a branch, or rather an
instrument, of philosophical science. Surely it is the interest which we
feel for philosophy that alone attaches us to its history; it is the
love of truth which makes us everywhere pursue its vestiges, and
interrogate with a passionate curiosity those who before us have also
loved and sought truth.

Thus philosophy is at once the supreme object and the torch of the
history of philosophy. By this double title it has a right to preside
over our instruction.

In regard to this, one word of explanation, I beg you.

He who is speaking before you to-day is, it is true, officially charged
only with the course of the history of philosophy; in that is our task,
and in that, once more, our guide shall be eclecticism.[16] But, we
confess, if philosophy has not the right to present itself here in some
sort on the first plan; if it should appear only behind its history, it
in reality holds dominion; and to it all our wishes, as well as all our
efforts, are related. We hold, doubtless, in great esteem, both Brucker
and Tennemann,[17] so wise, so judicious; nevertheless our models, our
veritable masters, always present to our thought, are, in antiquity,
Plato and Socrates, among the moderns, Descartes, and, why should I
hesitate to say it, among us, and in our times, the illustrious man who
has been pleased to call us to this chair. M. Royer-Collard was also
only a professor of the history of philosophy; but he rightly pretended
to have an opinion in philosophy; he served a cause which he has
transmitted to us, and we will serve it in our turn.

This great cause is known to you; it is that of a sound and generous
philosophy, worthy of our century by the severity of its methods, and
answering to the immortal wants of humanity, setting out modestly from
psychology, from the humble study of the human mind, in order to elevate
itself to the highest regions, and to traverse metaphysics, æsthetics,
theodicea, morals, and politics.

Our enterprise is not then simply to renew the history of philosophy by
eclecticism; we also wish, we especially wish, and history well
understood, thanks to eclecticism, will therein powerfully assist us, to
deduce from the study of systems, their strifes, and even their ruins, a
system which may be proof against criticism, and which can be accepted
by your reason, and also by your heart, noble youth of the nineteenth

In order to fulfil this great object, which is our veritable mission to
you, we shall dare this year, for the first and for the last time, to go
beyond the narrow limits which are imposed upon us. In the history of
the philosophy of the eighteenth century, we have resolved to leave a
little in the shade the history of philosophy, in order to make
philosophy itself appear, and while exhibiting to you the distinctive
traits of the principal doctrines of the last century, to expose to you
the doctrine which seems to us adapted to the wants and to the spirit of
our times, and still, to explain it to you briefly, but in its full
extent, instead of dwelling upon some one of its parts, as hitherto we
have done. With years we will correct, we will task ourselves to
aggrandize and elevate our work. To-day we present it you very imperfect
still, but established upon foundations which we believe solid, and
already stamped with a character that will not change.

You will here see, then, brought together in a short space, our
principles, our processes, our results. We ardently desire to recommend
them to you, young men, who are the hope of science as well as of your
country. May we at least be able, in the vast career which we have to
run, to meet in you the same kindness which hitherto has sustained us.


[3] We have so much felt the necessity of understanding well the
philosophy of the century that ours succeeds, that three times we have
undertaken the history of philosophy in the eighteenth century, here
first, in 1818, then in 1819 and 1820, and that is the subject of the
last three volumes of the 1st Series of our works; finally, we resumed
it in 1829, vol. ii. and iii. of the 2d Series.

[4] This word was used by the old English writers, and there is no
reason why it should not be retained.

[5] On the method of Descartes, see 1st Series, vol. iv., lecture 20; 2d
Series, vol. i., lecture 2; vol. ii., lecture 11; 3d Series, vol. iii.,
_Philosophie Moderne_, as well as _Fragments de Philosophie
Cartésienne_; 5th Series, _Instruction Publique_, vol. ii., _Défense de
l'Université et de la Philosophie_, p. 112, etc.

[6] On this return to the scholastic form in Descartes, see 1st Series,
vol iv., lecture 12, especially three articles of the _Journal des
Savants_, August, September, and October, 1850, in which we have
examined anew the principles of Cartesianism, _à propos_ the _Leibnitii
Animadversiones ad Cartesii Principia Philosophiæ_.

[7] See on Malebranche, Spinoza, and Leibnitz, 2d Series, vol. ii.,
lectures 11 and 12; 3d Series, vol. iv., _Introduction aux Oeuvres
Philosophiques de M. de Biran_, p. 288; and the _Fragments de
Philosophie Cartésienne_, passim.

[8] On Locke, see 1st Series, vol. iii., lecture 1, especially 2d
Series, vol. iii., _Examen du Système de Locke_.

[9] 1st Series, vol. iii., lectures 2 and 3.

[10] 1st Series, vol. iv., lectures on the Scotch School.

[11] See on Kant and the _Critique of Pure Reason_, vol. v. of the 1st
Series, where that great work is examined with as much extent as that of
Reid in vol. iv., and the _Essay_ of Locke in vol. iii. of the 2d

[12] On Fichte, 2d Series, vol. i., lecture 12; 3d Series, vol. iv.,
_Introduction aux Oeuvres de M. de Biran_, p. 324.

[13] We expressed ourselves thus in December, 1817, when, following the
great wars of the Revolution, and after the downfall of the empire, the
constitutional monarchy, still poorly established, left the future of
France and of the world obscure. It is sad to be obliged to hold the
same language in 1835, over the ruins accumulated around us.

[14] 1st Series, vol. i., Course of 1816.

[15] _Ibid._, Course of 1817.

[16] On the legitimate employment and the imperative conditions of
eclecticism, see 3d Series, _Fragments Philosophiques_, vol. iv.,
preface of the first edition, p. 41, &c., especially the article
entitled _De la Philosophie en Belgique_, pp. 228 and 229.

[17] We have translated his excellent _Manual of the History of
Philosophy_. See the second edition, vol. ii., 8vo., 1839.





    Two great wants, that of absolute truths, and that of absolute
    truths that may not be chimeras. To satisfy these two wants is
    the problem of the philosophy of our time.--Universal and
    necessary principles.--Examples of different kinds of such
    principles.--Distinction between universal and necessary
    principles and general principles.--Experience alone is
    incapable of explaining universal and necessary principles, and
    also incapable of dispensing with them in order to arrive at the
    knowledge of the sensible world.--Reason as being that faculty
    of ours which discovers to us these principles.--The study of
    universal and necessary principles introduces us to the highest
    parts of philosophy.

To-day, as in all time, two great wants are felt by man. The first, the
most imperious, is that of fixed, immutable principles, which depend
upon neither times nor places nor circumstances, and on which the mind
reposes with an unbounded confidence. In all investigations, as long as
we have seized only isolated, disconnected facts, as long as we have not
referred them to a general law, we possess the materials of science, but
there is yet no science. Even physics commence only when universal
truths appear, to which all the facts of the same order that observation
discovers to us in nature may be referred. Plato has said, that there is
no science of the transitory.

This is our first need. But there is another, not less legitimate, the
need of not being the dupe of chimerical principles, of barren
abstractions, of combinations more or less ingenious, but artificial,
the need of resting upon reality and life, the need of experience. The
physical and natural sciences, whose regular and rapid conquests strike
and dazzle the most ignorant, owe their progress to the experimental
method. Hence the immense popularity of this method, which is carried to
such an extent that one would not now condescend to lend the least
attention to a science over which this method should not seem to

To unite observation and reason, not to lose sight of the ideal of
science to which man aspires, and to search for it and find it by the
route of experience,--such is the problem of philosophy.

Now we address ourselves to your recollections of the last two
years:--have we not established, by the severest experimental method, by
reflection applied to the study of the human mind, with the deliberation
and the rigor which such demonstrations exact,--have we not established
that there are in all men, without distinction, in the wise and the
ignorant, ideas, notions, beliefs, principles which the most determined
skeptic cannot in the slightest degree deny, by which he is
unconsciously, and in spite of himself, governed both in his words and
actions, and which, by a striking contrast with our other knowledges,
are marked with the at once marvellous and incontestable character, that
they are encountered in the most common experience, and that, at the
same time, instead of being circumscribed within the limits of this
experience, they surpass and govern it, universal in the midst of
particular phenomena to which they are applied; necessary, although
mingled with things contingent; to our eyes infinite and absolute, even
while appearing within us in that relative and finite being which we
are? It is not an unpremeditated paradox that we present to you; we are
only expressing here the result of numerous lectures.[18]

It was not difficult for us to show that there are universal and
necessary principles at the head of all sciences.

It is very evident that there are no mathematics without axioms and
definitions, that is to say, without absolute principles.

What would logic become, those mathematics of thought, if you should
take away from it a certain number of principles, which are a little
barbarous, perhaps, in their scholastic form, but must be universal and
necessary in order to preside over all reasoning and every

Are physics possible, if every phenomenon which begins to appear does
not suppose a cause and a law?

Without the principle of final causes, could physiology proceed a single
step, render to itself an account of a single organ, or determine a
single function?

Is not the principle on which the whole of morals rests, the principle
which obligates man to good and lays the foundation of virtue, of the
same nature? Does it not extend to all moral beings, without distinction
of time and place? Can you conceive of a moral being who does not
recognize in the depth of his conscience that reason ought to govern
passion, that it is necessary to preserve sworn faith, and, against the
most pressing interest, to restore the treasure that has been confided
to us?

And these are not mere metaphysical prejudices and formulas of the
schools: I appeal to the most vulgar common sense.

If I should say to you that a murder has just been committed, could you
not ask me when, where, by whom, wherefore? That is to say, your mind is
directed by the universal and necessary principles of time, of space, of
cause, and even of final cause.

If I should say to you that love or ambition caused the murder, would
you not at the same instant conceive a lover, an ambitious person? This
means, again, that there is for you no act without an agent, no quality
and phenomenon without a substance, without a real subject.

If I should say to you that the accused pretends that he is not the same
person who conceived, willed, and executed this murder, and that, at
intervals, his personality has more than once been changed, would you
not say he is a fool if he is sincere, and that, although the acts and
the incidents have varied, the person and the being have remained the

Suppose that the accused should defend himself on this ground, that the
murder must serve his interest; that, moreover, the person killed was so
unhappy that life was a burden to him; that the state loses nothing,
since in place of two worthless citizens it acquires one who becomes
useful to it; that, in fine, mankind will not perish by the loss of an
individual, &c.; to all these reasonings would you not oppose the very
simple response, that this murder, useful perhaps to its author, is not
the less unjust, and that, therefore, under no pretext was it permitted?

The same good sense which admits universal and necessary truths, easily
distinguishes them from those that are not universal and necessary, and
are only general, that is to say, are applied only to a greater or less
number of cases.

For example, the following is a very general truth: the day succeeds the
night; but is it a universal and necessary truth? Does it extend to all
lands? Yes, to all known lands. But does it extend to all possible
lands? No; for it is possible to conceive of lands plunged in eternal
night, another system of the world being given. The laws of the material
world are what they are; they are not necessary. Their Author might have
chosen others. With another system of the world one conceives other
physics, but we cannot conceive other mathematics and other morals. Thus
it is possible to conceive that day and night may not be in the same
relation to each as that in which we see them; therefore the truth that
day succeeds night is a very general truth, perhaps even a universal
truth, but by no means a necessary truth.

Montesquieu has said that liberty is not a fruit of warm climates. I
acknowledge, if it is desired, that heat enervates the spirit, and that
warm countries maintain free governments with difficulty; but it does
not follow that there may be no possible exception to this principle:
moreover, there have been exceptions; hence it is not an absolutely
universal principle, much less is it a necessary principle. Could you
say as much of the principle of cause? Could you in any way conceive, in
any time and in any place, a phenomenon which begins to appear without
a cause, physical or moral?

And were it possible to reduce universal and necessary principles to
general principles, in order to employ and apply these principles thus
abased, and to found upon them any reasoning whatever, it would be
necessary to admit what is called in logic the principle of
contradiction, viz., that a thing cannot at the same time be and not be,
in order to maintain the integrity of each part of the reasoning; as
well as the principle of sufficient reason, which alone establishes
their connection and the legitimacy of the conclusion. Now, these two
principles, without which there is no reasoning, are themselves
universal and necessary principles; so that the circle is manifest.

Even were we to destroy in thought all existences, save that of a single
mind, we should be compelled to place in that mind, in order that it
might exercise itself at all--and the mind is such only on the condition
that it thinks--several necessary principles; it would be beyond the
power of thought to conceive it deprived of the principle of
contradiction and the principle of sufficient reason.

How many times have we demonstrated the vanity of the efforts of the
empirical school to disturb the existence or weaken the bearing of
universal and necessary principles! Listen to this school: it will say
to you that the principle of cause, given by us as universal and
necessary, is, after all, only a habit of the mind, which, seeing in
nature a fact succeeding another fact, puts between these that
connection which we have called the relation of effect to cause. This
explanation is nothing but the destruction, not only of the principle of
causality, but even of the notion of cause. The senses show me two
balls, one of which begins to move, the other of which moves after it.
Suppose that this succession is renewed and continues; it will be
constancy added to succession; it will by no means be the connection of
a causative power with its effect; for example, that which consciousness
attests to us is the least effort of volition. Thus a consequent
empiricist, like Hume,[19] easily proves that no sensible experience
legitimately gives the idea of cause.

What we say of the notion of cause we might say of all notions of the
same kind. Let us at least instance those of substance and unity.

The senses perceive only qualities, phenomena. I touch the extension, I
see the color, I am sensible of the odor; but do our senses attain the
substance that is extended, colored, or odorous? On this point Hume[20]
indulges in pleasantries. He asks which one of our senses takes
cognizance of substance. What, then, according to him and in the system
of empiricism, is the notion of substance? An illusion like the notion
of cause.

Neither do the senses give us unity; for unity is identity, is
simplicity, and the senses show us every thing in succession and
composition. The works of art possess unity only because Art, that is to
say, the mind of man puts it there. If we perceive unity in the works of
nature, it is not the senses that discover it to us. The arrangement of
the different parts of an object may contain unity, but it is a unity of
organization, an ideal and moral unity which the mind alone conceives,
and which escapes the senses.

If the senses are not able to explain simple notions, much less still
are they able to explain the principles in which these notions are met,
which are universal and necessary. In fact, the senses clearly perceive
such and such facts, but it is impossible for them to embrace what is
universal; experience attests what is, it does not reach what cannot but

We go farther. Not only is empiricism unable to explain universal and
necessary principles; but we maintain that, without these principles,
empiricism cannot even account for the knowledge of the sensible world.

Take away the principle of causality, and the human mind is condemned
never to go out of itself and its own modifications. All the sensations
of hearing, of smell, of taste, of touch, of feeling even, cannot inform
you what their cause is, nor whether they have a cause. But give to the
human mind the principle of causality, admit that every sensation, as
well as every phenomenon, every change, every event, has a cause, as
evidently we are not the cause of certain sensations, and that
especially these sensations must have a cause, and we are naturally led
to recognize for those sensations causes different from ourselves, and
that is the first notion of an exterior world. The universal and
necessary principle of causality alone gives it and justifies it. Other
principles of the same order increase and develop it.

As soon as you know that there are external objects, I ask you whether
you do not conceive them in a place that contains them. In order to deny
it, it would be necessary to deny that every body is in a place, that is
to say, to reject a truth of physics, which is at the same time a
principle of metaphysics, as well as an axiom of common sense. But the
place that contains a body is often itself a body, which is only more
capacious than the first. This new body is in its turn in a place. Is
this new place also a body? Then it is contained in another place more
extended, and so on; so that it is impossible for you to conceive a body
which is not in a place; and you arrive at the conception of a boundless
and infinite place, that contains all limited places and all possible
bodies: that boundless and infinite place is space.

And I tell you in this nothing that is not very simple. Look. Do you
deny that this water is in a vase? Do you deny that this vase is in this
hall? Do you deny that this hall is in a larger place, which is in its
turn in another larger still? I can thus carry you on to infinite space.
If you deny a single one of these propositions, you deny all, the first
as well as the last; and if you admit the first, you are forced to admit
the last.

It cannot be supposed that sensibility, which is not able to give us
even the idea of body, alone elevates us to the idea of space. The
intervention of a superior principle is, therefore, here necessary.

As we believe that every body is contained in a place, so we believe
that every event happens in time. Can you conceive an event happening,
except in some point of duration? This duration is extended and
successively increased to your mind's eye, and you end by conceiving it
unlimited like space. Deny duration, and you deny all the sciences that
measure it, you destroy all the natural beliefs upon which human life
reposes. It is hardly necessary to add that sensibility alone no more
explains the notion of time than that of space, both of which are
nevertheless inherent in the knowledge of the external world.

Empiricism is, therefore, convicted of being unable to dispense with
universal and necessary principles, and of being unable to explain them.

Let us pause: either all our preceding works have terminated in nothing
but chimeras, or they permit us to consider as a point definitely
acquired for science, that there are in the human mind, for whomsoever
interrogates it sincerely, principles really stamped with the character
of universality and necessity.

After having established and defended the existence of universal and
necessary principles, we might investigate and pursue this kind of
principles in all the departments of human knowledge, and attempt an
exact and rigorous classification; but illustrious examples have taught
us to fear to compromise truths of the greatest price by mixing with
them conjectures which, in giving brilliancy, perhaps, to the spirit of
philosophy, diminish its authority in the eyes of the wise. We, also,
following the example of Kant, attempted before you, last year,[21] a
classification, even a reduction of universal and necessary principles,
and of all the notions that are connected with them. This work has not
lost for us its importance, but we will not reproduce it. In the
interest of the great cause which we serve, and taking thought here only
to establish upon solid foundations the doctrine which is adapted to the
French genius in the nineteenth century, we will carefully shun every
thing that might seem personal and hazardous; and, instead of examining,
criticising,[22] and reconstituting the classification which the
philosophy of Koenigsberg has given of universal and necessary
principles, we prefer, we find it much more useful, to enable you to
penetrate deeper into the nature of these principles, by showing you
what faculty of ours it is that discovers them to us, and to which they
are related and correspond.

The peculiarity of these principles is, that each one of us in
reflection recognizes that he possesses them, but that he is not their
author. We conceive them and apply them, we do not constitute them. Let
us interrogate our consciousness. Do we refer to ourselves, for example,
the definitions of geometry, as we do certain movements of which we feel
ourselves to be the cause? If it is I who make these definitions, they
are therefore mine, I can unmake them, modify them, change them, even
annihilate them. It is certain that I cannot do it. I am not, then, the
author of them. It has also been demonstrated that the principles of
which we have spoken cannot be derived from sensation, which is
variable, limited, incapable of producing and authorizing any thing
universal and necessary. I arrive, then, at the following consequence,
also necessary:--truth is in me and not by me. As sensibility puts me in
relation with the physical world, so another faculty puts me in
communication with the truths that depend upon neither the world nor me,
and that faculty is reason.

There are in men three general faculties which are always mingled
together, and are rarely exercised except simultaneously, but which
analysis divides in order to study them better, without misconceiving
their reciprocal play, their intimate connection, their indivisible
unity. The first of these faculties is activity, voluntary and free
activity, in which human personality especially appears, and without
which the other faculties would be as if they were not, since we should
not exist for ourselves. Let us examine ourselves at the moment when a
sensation is produced in us; we shall recognize that there is
perception only so far as there is some degree of attention, and that
perception ends at the moment when our activity ends. One does not
recollect what he did in perfect sleep or in a swoon; because then he
had lost voluntary activity, consequently consciousness; consequently,
again, memory. Passion often, in depriving us of liberty, deprives us,
at the same time, of the consciousness of our actions and of ourselves;
then, to use a just and common expression, one knows not what he does.
It is by liberty that man is truly man, that he possesses himself and
governs himself; without it, he falls again under the yoke of nature; he
is, without it, only a more admirable and more beautiful part of nature.
But while I am endowed with activity and liberty, I am also passive in
other respects; I am subject to the laws of the external world; I suffer
and I enjoy without being myself the author of my joys and my
sufferings; I feel rising within me needs, desires, passions, which I
have not made, which by turns fill my life with happiness and misery.
Finally, besides volition and sensibility, man has the faculty of
knowing, has understanding, intelligence, reason, the name matters
little, by means of which he is elevated to truths of different orders,
and among others, to universal and necessary truths, which suppose in
reason, attached to its exercise, principles entirely distinct from the
impressions of the senses and the resolutions of the will.[23]

Voluntary activity, sensibility, reason, are all equally certain.
Consciousness verifies the existence of necessary principles, which
direct the reason quite as well as that of sensations and volitions. I
call every thing real that falls under observation. I suffer; my
suffering is real, inasmuch as I am conscious of it: it is the same with
liberty: it is the same with reason and the principles that govern it.
We can affirm, then, that the existence of universal and necessary
principles rests upon the testimony of observation, and even of the most
immediate and surest observation, that of consciousness.

But consciousness is only a witness,--it makes what is appear; it
creates nothing. It is not because consciousness announces it to you,
that you have produced such or such a movement, that you have
experienced such or such an impression. Neither is it because
consciousness says to us that reason is constrained to admit such or
such a truth, that this truth exists; it is because it exists that it is
impossible for reason not to admit it. The truths that reason attains by
the aid of universal and necessary principles with which it is provided,
are absolute truths; reason does not create them, it discovers them.
Reason is not the judge of its own principles, and cannot account for
them, for it only judges by them, and they are to it its own laws. Much
less does consciousness make these principles, or the truths which they
reveal to us; for consciousness has no other office, no other power than
in some sort to serve as a mirror for reason. Absolute truths are,
therefore, independent of experience and consciousness, and at the same
time, they are attested by experience and consciousness. On the one
hand, these truths declare themselves in experience; on the other, no
experience explains them. Behold how experience and reason differ and
agree, and how, by means of experience, we come to find something which
surpasses it.

So the philosophy which we teach rests neither upon hypothetical
principles, nor upon empirical principles. It is observation itself, but
observation applied to the higher portion of our knowledge, which
furnishes us with the principles that we seek, with a point of departure
at once solid and elevated.[24]

This point of departure we have found, and we do not abandon it. We
remain immovably attached to it. The study of universal and necessary
principles, considered under their different aspects, and in the great
problems which they solve, is almost the whole of philosophy; it fills
it, measures it, divides it. If psychology is the regular study of the
human mind and its laws, it is evident that that of universal and
necessary principles which preside over the exercise of reason, is the
especial domain of psychology, which in Germany is called rational
psychology, and is very different from empirical psychology. Since logic
is the examination of the value and the legitimacy of our different
means of knowing, its most important employment must be to estimate the
value and the legitimacy of the principles which are the foundations of
our most important cognitions. In fine, the meditation of these same
principles conducts us to theodicea, and opens to us the sanctuary of
philosophy, if we would ascend to their true source, to that sovereign
reason which is the first and last explanation of our own.


[18] 1st Series of our Course, vol. i.

[19] 1st Series, vol. i.

[20] Ibid.

[21] 1st Series, vol. i., Fragments of the Course of 1817.

[22] See that criticism, 1st Series, vol. v., _Kant_, lecture 8.

[23] This classification of the human faculties, save some differences
more nominal than real, is now generally adopted, and makes the
foundation of the psychology of our times. See our writings, among
others, 1st Series, Course of 1816, lectures 23 and 24: _Histoire du
moi_; ibid., _Des faits de Conscience_; vol. iii., lecture 3, _Examen de
la Théorie des Facultés dans Condillac_; vol. iv., lecture 21, _des
Facultés selon Reid_; vol. v., lecture 8, _Examen de la Théorie de
Kant_; 3d Series, vol iv., _Preface de la Première Edition, Examen des
Leçons de M. Laromiguière, Introduction aux Oeuvres de M. de Biran,

[24] This lecture on the existence of universal and necessary
principles, which was easily comprehended, in 1818, by an auditory to
which long discussions had already been presented during the two
previous years, appearing here without the support of these
preliminaries, will not perhaps be entirely satisfactory to the reader.
We beseech him to consult carefully the first volume of the 1st Series
of our Course, which contains an abridgment, at least, of the numerous
lectures of 1816 and 1817, of which this is a _résumé_; especially to
read in the third, fourth, and fifth volumes of the 1st Series, the
developed analyses, in which, under different forms, universal and
necessary principles are demonstrated as far as may be, and in the third
volume of the 2d Series the lectures devoted to establish against Locke
the same principles.



    _Résumé_ of the preceding Lecture. A new question, that of the
    origin of universal and necessary principles.--Danger of this
    question, and its necessity.--Different forms under which truth
    presents itself to us, and the successive order of these forms:
    theory of spontaneity and reflection.--The primitive form of
    principles; abstraction that disengages them from that form, and
    gives them their actual form.--Examination and refutation of the
    theory that attempts to explain the origin of principles by an
    induction founded on particular notions.

We may regard as a certain conquest of the experimental method and of
true psychological analysis, the establishment of principles which at
the same time that they are given to us by the surest of all
experiences, that of consciousness, have a bearing superior to
experience, and open to us regions inaccessible to empiricism. We have
recognized such principles at the head of nearly all the sciences; then,
searching among our different faculties for that which may have given
them to us, we have ascertained that it is impossible to refer them to
any other faculty than to that general faculty of knowing which we call
reason, very different from reasoning, to which it furnishes its laws.

That is the point at which we have arrived. But is it possible to stop

In human intelligence, as it is now developed, universal and necessary
principles are offered to us under forms in some sort consecrated. The
principle of causality, for example, is thus enounced to us:--Every
thing that begins to appear necessarily has a cause. Other principles
have this same axiomatic form. But have they always had it, and did they
spring from the human mind with this logical and scholastic apparel, as
Minerva sprang all armed from the head of Jupiter? With what characters
did they show themselves at first, before taking those in which they are
now clothed, and which can scarcely be their primitive characters? In a
word, is it possible to find the origin of universal and necessary
principles, and the route which they must have followed in order to
arrive at what they are to-day? A new problem, the importance of which
it is easy to feel; for, if it can be resolved, what light will be shed
upon these principles! On the other hand, what difficulties must be
encountered! How can we penetrate to the sources of human knowledge,
which are concealed, like those of the Nile? Is it not to be feared
that, in plunging into the obscure past, instead of truth, one may
encounter an hypothesis; that, attaching himself, then, to this
hypothesis, he may transport it from the past to the present, and that,
being deceived in regard to the origin of principles, he may be led to
misconceive their actual and certain characters, or, at least, to
mutilate and enfeeble those which the adopted origin would not easily
explain? This danger is so great, this rock is so celebrated in
shipwrecks, that before braving it one should know how to take many
precautions against the seductions of the spirit of the system. It is
even conceived that great philosophers, who were timid in no place, have
suppressed the perilous problem. In fact, by undertaking to grapple with
this problem at first, Locke and Condillac went far astray,[25] and it
must be said, corrupted all philosophy at its source. The empirical
school, which lauds the experimental method so much, turns its back upon
it, thus to speak, when, instead of commencing by the study of the
actual characters of our cognitions, as they are attested to us by
consciousness and reflection, it plunges, without light and without
guidance, into the pursuit of their origin. Reid[26] and Kant[27] showed
themselves much more observing by confining themselves within the
limits of the present, through fear of losing themselves in the darkness
of the past. Both freely treat of universal and necessary principles in
the form which they now have, without asking what was their primitive
form. We much prefer this wise circumspection to the adventurous spirit
of the empirical school. Nevertheless, when a problem is given out, so
long as it is not solved, it troubles and besets the human mind.
Philosophy ought not to shun it then, but its duty is to approach it
only with extreme prudence and a severe method.

We cannot recollect too well, for the sake of others and ourselves, that
the primitive state of human cognitions is remote from us; we can
scarcely bring it within the reach of our vision and submit it to
observation; the actual state, on the contrary, is always at our
disposal: it is sufficient for us to enter into ourselves, to fathom
consciousness by reflection, and make it give up what it contains.
Setting out from certain facts, we shall not be liable to wander
subsequently into hypotheses, or if, in ascending to the primitive
state, we fall into any error, we shall be able to perceive it and
repair it by the aid of the truth which an impartial observation shall
have given us; every origin which shall not legitimately end at the
point where we are, is by that alone convicted of being false, and will
deserve to be discarded.[28]

You know that a large portion of the last year was spent upon this
question. We took, one by one, universal and necessary questions
submitted to our examination, in order to determine the origin of each
one of them, its primitive form, and the different forms which have
successively clothed it; only after having operated thus upon a
sufficiently large number of principles, did we come slowly to a general
conclusion, and that conclusion we believe ourselves entitled to express
here briefly as the solid result of a most circumspect analysis, and, at
least, a most methodical labor. We must either renew before you this
labor, this analysis, and thereby run the risk of not being able to
complete the long course that we have marked out for ourselves, or we
must limit ourselves to reminding you of the essential traits of the
theory at which we arrived.

This theory, moreover, is in itself so simple, that, without the dress
of regular demonstrations upon which it is founded, its own evidence
will sufficiently establish it. It wholly rests upon the distinction
between the different forms under which truth is presented to us. It is,
in its somewhat arid generality, as follows:

1st. One can perceive truth in two different ways. Sometimes one
perceives it in such or such a particular circumstance. For example, in
presence of two apples or two stones, and of two other similar objects
placed by the side of the first, I perceive this truth with absolute
certainty, viz., that these two stones and these two other stones make
four stones,--which is in some sort a concrete apperception of the
truth, because the truth is given to us in regard to real and
determinate objects. Sometimes I also affirm in a general manner that
two and two equal four, abstracting every determinate object,--which is
the abstract conception of truth.

Now, of these two ways of knowing truth, which precedes in the
chronological order of human knowledge? Is it not certain, may it not be
avowed by every one, that the particular precedes the general, that the
concrete precedes the abstract, that we begin by perceiving such or such
a determinate truth, in such or such a case, at such or such a moment,
in such or such a place, before conceiving a general truth,
independently of every application and different circumstances of place
and time?

2d. We can perceive the same truth without asking ourselves this
question: Have we the ability not to admit this truth? We perceive it,
then, by virtue alone of the intelligence which has been given us, and
which enters spontaneously into exercise; or rather, we try to doubt the
truth which we perceive, we attempt to deny it; we are not able to do
it, and then it is presented to reflection as superior to all possible
negation; it appears to us no longer only as a truth, but as a necessary

Is it not also evident, that we do not begin by reflection, that
reflection supposes an anterior operation, and that this operation, in
order not to be one of reflection, and not to suppose another before it,
must be entirely spontaneous; that thus the spontaneous and instinctive
intuition of truth precedes its reflection and necessary conception?

Reflection is a progress more or less tardy in the individual and in the
race. It is, _par excellence_, the philosophic faculty; it sometimes
engenders doubt and skepticism, sometimes convictions that, for being
rational, are only the more profound. It constructs systems, it creates
artificial logic, and all those formulas which we now use by the force
of habit as if they were natural to us. But spontaneous intuition is the
true logic of nature. It presides over the acquisition of nearly all our
cognitions. Children, the people, three-fourths of the human race never
pass beyond it, and rest there with boundless security.

The question of the origin of human cognitions is thus resolved for us
in the simplest manner: it is enough for us to determine that operation
of the mind which precedes all others, without which no other would take
place, and which is the first exercise, and the first form of our
faculty of knowing.[29]

Since every thing that bears the character of reflection cannot be
primitive, and supposes an anterior state, it follows, that the
principles which are the subject of our study could not have possessed
at first the reflective and abstract character with which they are now
marked, that they must have shown themselves at their origin in some
particular circumstance, under a concrete and determinate form, and that
in time they were disengaged from this form, in order to be invested
with their actual, abstract, and universal form. These are the two ends
of the chain; it remains for us to seek how the human mind has been from
one to the other, from the primitive state to the actual state, from the
concrete state to the abstract state.

How can we go from the concrete to the abstract? Evidently by that
well-known operation which is called abstraction. Thus far, nothing is
more simple. But it is necessary to discriminate between two sorts of

In presence of several particular objects, you omit the characters which
distinguish them, and separately consider a character which is common to
them all--you abstract this character. Examine the nature and conditions
of this abstraction; it proceeds by means of comparison, and it is
founded on a certain number of particular and different cases. Take an
example: examine how we form the abstract and general idea of color.
Place before my eyes for the first time a white object. Can I here at
the first step immediately arrive at a general idea of color? Can I at
first place on one side the whiteness, and on the other side the color?
Analyze what passes within you. You experience a sensation of whiteness.
Omit the individuality of this sensation, and you wholly destroy it; you
cannot neglect the whiteness, and preserve or abstract the color; for, a
single color being given, which is a white color, if you take away
that, there remains to you absolutely nothing in regard to color. Let a
blue object succeed this white object, then a red object, etc.; having
sensations differing from each other, you can neglect their differences,
and only consider what they have in common, that they are sensations of
sight, that is to say, colors, and you thus obtain the abstract and
general idea of color. Take another example: if you had never smelled
but a single flower, the violet, for instance, would you have had the
idea of odor in general? No. The odor of the violet would be for you the
only odor, beyond which you would not seek, you could not even imagine
another. But if to the odor of the violet is added that of the rose, and
other different odors, in a greater or less number, provided there be
several, and a comparison be possible, and consequently, knowledge of
their differences and their resemblances, then you will be able to form
the general idea of odor. What is there in common between the odor of
one flower and that of another flower, except that they have been
smelled by aid of the same organ, and by the same person? What here
renders generalization possible, is the unity of the sentient subject
which remembers having been modified, while remaining the same, by
different sensations; now, this subject can feel itself identical under
different modifications, and it can conceive in the qualities of the
object felt some resemblance and some dissimilarity, only on the
condition of a certain number of sensations experienced, of odors
smelled. In that case, but in that case alone, there can be comparison,
abstraction, and generalization, because there are different and similar

In order to arrive at the abstract form of universal and necessary
principles, we have no need of all this labor. Let us take again, for
example, the principle of cause. If you suppose six particular cases
from which you have abstracted this principle, it will contain neither
more nor less ideas than if you had deduced it from a single one. To be
able to say that the event which I see must have a cause, it is not
indispensable to have seen several events succeed each other. The
principle which compels me to pronounce this judgment, is already
complete in the first as in the last event; it can change in respect to
its object, it cannot change in itself; it neither increases nor
decreases with the greater or less number of its applications. The only
difference that it is subject to in regard to us, is, that we apply it
whether we remark it or not, whether we disengage it or not from its
particular application. The question is not to eliminate the
particularity of the phenomenon, wherein it appears to us, whether it be
the fall of a leaf or the murder of a man, in order immediately to
conceive, in a general and abstract manner, the necessity of a cause for
every thing that begins to exist. Here, it is not because I have been
the same, or have been affected in the same manner in several different
cases, that I have come to this general and abstract conception. A leaf
falls: at the same instant I think, I believe, I declare that this
falling of the leaf must have a cause. A man has been killed: at the
same instant I believe, I proclaim that this death must have a cause.
Each one of these facts contains particular and variable circumstances,
and something universal and necessary, to wit, both of them cannot but
have a cause. Now, I am perfectly able to disengage the universal from
the particular, in regard to the first fact as well as in regard to the
second fact, for the universal is in the first quite as well as in the
second. In fact, if the principle of causality is not universal in the
first fact, neither will it be in the second, nor in the third, nor in a
thousandth; for a thousand are not nearer than one to the infinite, to
absolute universality. It is the same, and still more evidently, with
necessity. Pay particular attention to this point: if necessity is not
in the first fact, it cannot be in any; for necessity cannot be formed
little by little, and by successive increment. If, at the first murder
that I see, I do not exclaim that this murder necessarily has a cause,
at the thousandth murder, although it shall have been proved that all
the others have had causes, I shall have the right to think that this
new murder has, very probably, also its cause; but I shall never have
the right to declare that it necessarily has a cause. But when
necessity and universality are already in a single case, that case alone
is sufficient to entitle us to deduce them from it.[30]

We have established the existence of universal and necessary principles:
we have marked their origin; we have shown that they appear to us at
first from a particular fact, and we have shown by what process, by what
sort of abstraction the mind disengages them from the determinate and
concrete form which envelops them, but does not constitute them. Our
task, then, seems accomplished. But it is not,--we must defend the
solution which we have just presented to you of the problem of the
origin of principles against the theory of an eminent metaphysician,
whose just authority might seduce you. M. Maine de Biran[31] is, like
us, the declared adversary of the philosophy of sensation,--he admits
universal and necessary principles; but the origin which he assigns to
them, puts them, according to us, in peril, and would lead back by a
_detour_ to the empirical school.

Universal and necessary principles, if expressed in propositions,
embrace several terms. For example, in the principle that every
phenomenon supposes a cause; and in this, that every quality supposes a
substance, by the side of the ideas of quality and phenomenon are met
the ideas of cause and substance, which seem the foundation of these two
principles. M. de Biran pretends that the two ideas are anterior to the
two principles which contain them, and that we at first find these ideas
in ourselves in the consciousness that we are cause and substance, and
that, these ideas once being thus acquired, induction transports them
out of ourselves, makes us conceive causes and substances wherever there
are phenomena and qualities, and that the principles of cause and
substance are thus explained. I beg pardon of my illustrious friend;
but it is impossible to admit in the least degree this explanation.

The possession of the origin of the idea of cause is by no means
sufficient for the possession of the origin of the principle of
causality; for the idea and the principle are things essentially
different. You have established, I would say to M. de Biran, that the
idea of cause is found in that of productive volition:--you will to
produce certain effects, and you produce them; hence the idea of a
cause, of a particular cause, which is yourself; but between this fact
and the axiom that all phenomena which appear necessarily have a cause,
there is a gulf.

You believe that you can bridge it over by induction. The idea of cause
once found in ourselves, induction applies it, you say, wherever a new
phenomenon appears. But let us not be deceived by words, and let us
account for this extraordinary induction. The following dilemma I submit
with confidence to the loyal dialectics of M. de Biran:

Is the induction of which you speak universal and necessary? Then it is
a different name for the same thing. An induction which forces us
universally and necessarily to associate the idea of cause with that of
every phenomenon that begins to appear is precisely what is called the
principle of causality. On the contrary, is this induction neither
universal nor necessary? It cannot supply the place of the principle of
cause, and the explanation destroys the thing to be explained.

It follows from this that the only true result of these various
psychological investigations is, that the idea of personal and free
cause precedes all exercise of the principle of causality, but without
explaining it.

The theory which we combat is much more powerless in regard to other
principles which, far from being exercised before the ideas from which
it is pretended to deduce them, precede them, and even give birth to
them. How have we acquired the idea of time and that of space, except by
aid of the principle that the bodies and events, which we see are in
time and in space? We have seen[32] that, without this principle, and
confined to the data of the senses and consciousness, neither time nor
space would exist for us. Whence have we deduced the idea of the
infinite, except from the principle that the finite supposes the
infinite, that all finite and defective things, which we perceive by our
senses and feel within us, are not sufficient for themselves, and
suppose something infinite and perfect? Omit the principle, and the idea
of the infinite is destroyed. Evidently this idea is derived from the
application of the principle, and it is not the principle which is
derived from the idea.

Let us dwell a little longer on the principle of substances. The
question is to know whether the idea of subject, of substance, precedes
or follows the exercise of the principle. Upon what ground could the
idea of substance be anterior to the principle that every quality
supposes a substance? Upon the ground alone that substance be the object
of self-observation, as cause is said to be. When I produce a certain
effect, I may perceive myself in action and as cause; in that case,
there would be no need of the intervention of any principle; but it is
not, it cannot be, the same, when the question is concerning the
substance which is the basis of the phenomena of consciousness, of our
qualities, our acts, our faculties even; for this substance is not
directly observable; it does not perceive itself, it conceives itself.
Consciousness perceives sensation, volition, thought, it does not
perceive their subject. Who has ever perceived the soul? Has it not been
necessary, in order to attain this invisible essence, to set out from a
principle which has the power to bind the visible to the invisible,
phenomenon to being, to wit, the principle of substances?[33] The idea
of substance is necessarily posterior to the application of the
principle, and, consequently, it cannot explain its formation.

Let us be well understood. We do not mean to say that we have in the
mind the principle of substances before perceiving a phenomenon, quite
ready to apply the principle to the phenomenon, when it shall present
itself; we only say that it is impossible for us to perceive a
phenomenon without conceiving at the same instant a substance, that is
to say, to the power of perceiving a phenomenon, either by the senses or
by consciousness, is joined that of conceiving the substance in which it
inheres. The facts thus take place:--the perception of phenomena and the
conception of the substance which is their basis are not successive,
they are simultaneous. Before this impartial analysis fall at once two
equal and opposite errors--one, that experience, exterior or interior,
can beget principles; the other, that principles precede experience.[34]

To sum up, the pretension of explaining principles by the ideas which
they contain, is a chimerical one. In supposing that all the ideas which
enter into principles are anterior to them, it is necessary to show how
principles are deduced from these ideas,--which is the first and radical
difficulty. Moreover, it is not true that in all cases ideas precede
principles, for often principles precede ideas,--a second difficulty
equally insurmountable. But whether ideas are anterior or posterior to
principles, principles are always independent of them; they surpass them
by all the superiority of universal and necessary principles over simple

We should, perhaps, beg your pardon for the austerity of this lecture.
But philosophical questions must be treated philosophically: it does not
belong to us to change their character. On other subjects, another
language. Psychology has its own language, the entire merit of which is
a severe precision, as the highest law of psychology itself is the
shunning of every hypothesis, and an inviolable respect for facts. This
law we have religiously followed. While investigating the origin of
universal and necessary principles, we have especially endeavored not to
destroy the thing to be explained by a systematic explanation. Universal
and necessary principles have come forth in their integrity from our
analysis. We have given the history of the different forms which they
successively assume, and we have shown, that in all these changes they
remain the same, and of the same authority, whether they enter
spontaneously and involuntarily into exercise, and apply themselves to
particular and determinate objects, or reflection turns them back upon
themselves in order to interrogate them in regard to their nature, or
abstraction makes them appear under the form in which their universality
and their necessity are manifest. Their certainty is the same under all
their forms, in all their applications; it has neither generation nor
origin; it is not born such or such a day, and it does not increase with
time, for it knows no degrees. We have not commenced by believing a
little in the principle of causality, of substances, of time, of space,
of the infinite, etc., then believing a little more, then believing
wholly. These principles have been, from the beginning, what they will
be in the end, all-powerful, necessary, irresistible. The conviction
which they give is always absolute, only it is not always accompanied by
a clear consciousness. Leibnitz himself has no more confidence in the
principle of causality, and even in his favorite principle of sufficient
reason, than the most ignorant of men; but the latter applies these
principles without reflecting on their power, by which he is
unconsciously governed, whilst Leibnitz is astonished at their power,
studies it, and for all explanation, refers it to the human mind, and to
the nature of things, that is to say, he elevates, to borrow the fine
expression of M. Royer-Collard,[36] the ignorance of the mass of men to
its highest source. Such is, thank heaven, the only difference that
separates the peasant from the philosopher, in regard to those great
principles of every kind which, in one way or another, discover to men
the same truths indispensable to their physical, intellectual, and moral
existence, and, in their ephemeral life, on the circumscribed point of
space and time where fortune has thrown them, reveal to them something
of the universal, the necessary, and the infinite.


[25] First Series, vol. iv., lectures 1, 2, and 3.

[26] _Ibid._, vol. iv., etc.

[27] _Ibid._, vol. v., lecture 8.

[28] We have everywhere called to mind, maintained, and confirmed by the
errors of those who have dared to break it, this rule of true
psychological analysis, that, before passing to the question of the
origin of an idea, a notion, a belief, any principle whatever, the
actual characters of this idea, this notion, this belief, this
principle, must have been a long time studied and well established, with
the firm resolution of not altering them under any pretext whatever in
wishing to explain them. We believe that we have, as Leibnitz says,
settled this point. See 1st Series, vol. i., Programme of the Course of
1817, and the Opening Discourse; vol. iii., lecture 1, _Locke_; lecture
2, _Condillac_; lecture 3, almost entire, and lecture 8, p. 260; 2d
Series, vol. iii., _Examen du Système de Locke_, lecture 16, p. 77-87;
3d Series, vol. iv., _Examination of the Lectures of M. Loremquière_, p.

[29] This theory of spontaneity and of reflection, which in our view is
the key to so many difficulties, continually recurs in our works. One
may see, vol. i. of the 1st Series, in a programme of the Course of
1817, and in a fragment entitled _De la Spontanéité et de la Réflexion_;
vol. iv. of the same Series, Examination of Reid's Philosophy, _passim_;
vol. v., Examination of Kant's System, lecture 8; 2d Series, vol. i.,
_passim_; vol. iii., Lectures on Judgment; 3d Series, _Fragments
Philosophiques_, vol. iv., preface of the first edition, p. 37, etc.; it
will be found in different lectures of this volume, among others, in the
third, On the value of Universal and Necessary Principles; in the fifth,
On Mysticism; and in the eleventh, Primary Data of Common Sense.

[30] On immediate abstraction and comparative abstraction, see 1st
Series, vol. i., Programme of the Course of 1817, and everywhere in our
other Courses.

[31] On M. de Biran, on his merits and defects, see our _Introduction_
at the head of his Works.

[32] See lecture 1.

[33] See vol. i. of the 1st Series, course of 1816, and 2d Series, vol.
iii., lecture 18, p. 140-146.

[34] We have developed this analysis, and elucidated these results in
the 17th lecture of vol. ii. of the 2d Series.

[35] We have already twice recurred, and more in detail, to the
impossibility of legitimately explaining universal and necessary
principles by any association or induction whatever, founded upon any
particular idea, 2d Series, vol. iii., _Examen du Système de Locke_,
lecture 19, p. 166; and 3d Series, vol. iv., _Introduction aux Oeuvres
de M. de Biran_, p. 319. We have also made known the opinion of Reid,
1st Series, vol. iv., lecture 22, p. 489. Finally, the profoundest of
Reid's disciples, the most enlightened judge that we know of things
philosophical, Sir W. Hamilton, professor of logic in the University of
Edinburgh, has not hesitated to adopt the conclusions of our discussion,
to which he is pleased to refer his readers:--_Discussions on Philosophy
and Literature, etc._, by Sir William Hamilton, London, 1852. Appendix
I, p. 588.

[36] _Oeuvres de Reid_, vol. iv., p. 435. "When we revolt against
primitive facts, we equally misconceive the constitution of our
intelligence and the end of philosophy. Is explaining a fact any thing
else than deriving it from another fact, and if this kind of explanation
is to terminate at all, does it not suppose facts inexplicable? The
science of the human mind will have been carried to the highest degree
of perfection it can attain, it will be complete, when it shall know how
to derive ignorance from the most elevated source."



    Examination and refutation of Kant's skepticism.--Recurrence to
    the theory of spontaneity and reflection.

After having recognized the existence of universal and necessary
principles, their actual characters, and their primitive characters, we
have to examine their value, and the legitimacy of the conclusions which
may be drawn from them,--we pass from psychology to logic.

We have defended against Locke and his school the necessity and
universality of certain principles. We now come to Kant, who recognizes
with us these principles, but confines their power within the limits of
the subject that conceives them, and, so far as subjective, declares
them to be without legitimate application to any object, that is to say,
without objectivity, to use the language of the philosopher of
Koenigsberg, which, right or wrong, begins to pass into the
philosophic language of Europe.

Let us comprehend well the import of this new discussion. The principles
that govern our judgments, that preside over most sciences, that rule
our actions,--have they in themselves an absolute truth, or are they
only regulating laws of our thought? The question is, to know whether it
is true in itself, that every phenomenon has a cause, and every quality
a subject, whether every thing extended is really in space, and every
succession in time, etc. If it is not absolutely true that every quality
has its subject of inherence, it is not, then, certain, that we have a
soul, a real substance of all the qualities which consciousness
attests. If the principle of causality is only a law of our mind, the
external world, which this principle discovers to us, loses its reality,
it is only a succession of phenomena, without any effective action over
each other, as Hume would have it, and even the impressions of our
senses are destitute of causes. Matter exists no more than the soul.
Nothing exists; every thing is reduced to mobile appearances, given up
to a perpetual becoming, which again is accomplished we know not where,
since in reality there is neither time nor space. Since the principle of
sufficient reason only serves to put in motion human curiosity, once in
possession of the fatal secret that it can attain nothing real, this
curiosity would be very good to weary itself in searching for reasons
which inevitably escape it, and in discovering relations which
correspond only to the wants of our mind, and do not in the least
correspond to the nature of things. In fine, if the principle of
causality, of substances, of final causes, of sufficient reason, are
only our modes of conception, God, whom all these principles reveal to
us, will no more be any thing but the last of chimeras, which vanishes
with all the others in the breath of the Critique.

Kant has established, as well as Reid and ourself, the existence of
universal and necessary principles; but an involuntary disciple of his
century, an unconscious servant of the empirical school, to which he
places himself in the attitude of an adversary, he makes to it the
immense concession that these principles are applied only to the
impressions of sensibility, that their part is to put these impressions
in a certain order, but that beyond these impressions, beyond
experience, their power expires. This concession has ruined the whole
enterprise of the German philosopher.

This enterprise was at once honest and great. Kant, grieved at the
skepticism of his times, proposed to arrest it by fairly meeting it. He
thought to disarm Hume by conceding to him that our highest conceptions
do not extend themselves beyond the inclosure of the human mind; and at
the same time, he supposed that he had sufficiently vindicated the human
mind by restoring to it the universal and necessary principles which
direct it. But, according to the strong expression of M. Royer-Collard,
"one does not encounter skepticism,--as soon as he has penetrated into
the human understanding he has completely taken it by storm." A severe
circumspection is one thing, skepticism is another. Doubt is not only
permitted, it is commanded by reason itself in the employment and
legitimate applications of our different faculties; but when it is
applied to the legitimacy itself of our faculties, it no longer
elucidates reason, it overwhelms it. In fact, with what would you have
reason defend herself, when she has called herself in question? Kant
himself, then, overturned the dogmatism which he proposed at once to
restrain and save, at least in morals, and he put German philosophy upon
a route, at the end of which was an abyss. In vain has this great
man--for his intentions and his character, without speaking of his
genius, merit for him this name--undertaken with Hume an ingenious and
learned controversy; he has been vanquished in this controversy, and
Hume remains master of the field of battle.

What matters it, in fact, whether there may or may not be in the human
mind universal and necessary principles, if these principles only serve
to classify our sensations, and to make us ascend, step by step, to
ideas that are most sublime, but have for ourselves no reality? The
human mind is, then, as Kant himself well expressed it, like a banker
who should take bills ranged in order on his desk for real values;--he
possesses nothing but papers. We have thus returned, then, to that
conceptualism of the middle age, which, concentrating truth within the
human intelligence, makes the nature of things a phantom of intelligence
projecting itself everywhere out of itself, at once triumphant and
impotent, since it produces every thing, and produces only chimeras.[37]

The reproach which a sound philosophy will content itself with making to
Kant, is, that his system is not in accordance with facts. Philosophy
can and must separate itself from the crowd for the explanation of
facts; but, it cannot be too often repeated, it must not in the
explanation destroy what it pretends to explain; otherwise it does not
explain, it imagines. Here, the important fact which it is the question
to explain is the belief of the human mind, and the system of Kant
annihilates it.

In fact, when we are speaking of the truth of universal and necessary
principles, we do not believe they are true only for us:--we believe
them to be true in themselves, and still true, were there no minds of
ours to conceive them. We regard them as independent of us; they seem to
us to impose themselves upon our intelligence by the force of the truth
that is in them. So, in order to express faithfully what passes within
us, it would be necessary to reverse the proposition of Kant, and
instead of saying with him, that these principles are the necessary laws
of our mind, therefore they have no absolute value out of mind; we
should much rather say, that these principles have an absolute value in
themselves, therefore we cannot but believe them.

And even this necessity of belief with which the new skepticism arms
itself, is not the indispensable condition of the application of
principles. We have established[38] that the necessity of believing
supposes reflection, examination, an effort to deny and the want of
power to do it; but before all reflection, intelligence spontaneously
seizes the truth, and, in the spontaneous apperception, is not the
sentiment of necessity, nor consequently that character of subjectivity
of which the German school speaks so much.

Let us, then, here recur to that spontaneous intuition of truth, which
Kant knew not, in the circle where his profoundly reflective and
somewhat scholastic habits held him captive.

Is it true that there is no judgment, even affirmative in form, which is
not mixed with negation?

It seems indeed that every affirmative judgment is at the same time
negative; in fact, to affirm that a thing exists, is to deny its
non-existence; as every negative judgment is at the same time
affirmative; for to deny the existence of a thing, is to affirm its
non-existence. If it is so, then every judgment, whatever may be its
form, affirmative or negative, since these two forms come back to each
other, supposes a pre-established doubt in regard to the existence of
the thing in question, supposes some exercise of reflection, in the
course of which the mind feels itself constrained to bear such or such a
judgment, so that at this point of view the foundation of the judgment
seems to be in its necessity; and then recurs the celebrated
objection:--if you judge thus only because it is impossible for you not
to do it, you have for a guaranty of the truth nothing but yourself and
your own ways of conceiving; it is the human mind that transports its
laws out of itself; it is the subject that makes the object out of its
own image, without ever going beyond the inclosure of subjectivity.

We respond, going directly to the root of the difficulty:--it is not
true that all our judgments are negative. We admit that in the
reflective state every affirmative judgment supposes a negative
judgment, and reciprocally. But is reason exercised only on the
condition of reflection? Is there not a primitive affirmation which
implies no negation? As we often act without deliberating on our action,
without premeditating it, and as we manifest in this case an activity
that is free still, but free with a liberty that is not reflective; so
reason often perceives the truth without traversing doubt or error.
Reflection is a return to consciousness, or to an operation wholly
different from it. We do not find, then, in any primitive fact, that
every judgment which contains it presupposes another in which it is not.
We thus arrive at a judgment free from all reflection, to an affirmation
without any mixture of negation, to an immediate intuition, the
legitimate child of the natural energy of thought, like the inspiration
of the poet, the instinct of the hero, the enthusiasm of the prophet.
Such is the first act of the faculty of knowing. If one contradicts this
primitive affirmation, the faculty of knowing falls back up upon itself,
examines itself, attempts to call in doubt the truth it has perceived;
it cannot; it affirms anew what it had affirmed at first; it adheres to
the truth already recognized, but with a new sentiment, the sentiment
that it is not in its power to divest itself of the evidence of this
same truth; then, but only then, appears that character of necessity and
subjectivity that some would turn against the truth, as though truth
could lose its own value, while penetrating deeper into the mind and
there triumphing over doubt; as though reflective evidence of it were
the less evidence; as though, moreover, the necessary conception of it
were the only form, the primary form of the perception of truth. The
skepticism of Kant, to which good sense so easily does justice, is
driven to the extreme and forced within its intrenchment by the
distinction between spontaneous reason and reflective reason. Reflection
is the theatre of the combats which reason engages in with itself, with
doubt, sophism, and error. But above reflection is a sphere of light and
peace, where reason perceives truth without returning on itself, for the
sole reason that truth is truth, and because God has made the reason to
perceive it, as he has made the eye to see and the ear to hear.

Analyze, in fact, with impartiality, the fact of spontaneous
apperception, and you will be sure that it has nothing subjective in it
except what it is impossible it should not have, to wit, the _me_ which is
mingled with the fact without constituting it. The _me_ inevitably enters
into all knowledge, since it is the subject of it. Reason directly
perceives truth; but it is in some sort augmented, in consciousness, and
then we have knowledge. Consciousness is there its witness, and not its
judge; its only judge is reason, a faculty subjective and objective
together, according to the language of Germany, which immediately
attains absolute truth, almost without personal intervention on our
part, although it might not enter into exercise if personality did not
precede or were not added to it.[39]

Spontaneous apperception constitutes natural logic. Reflective
conception is the foundation of logic properly so called. One is based
upon itself, _verum index sui_; the other is based upon the
impossibility of the reason, in spite of all its efforts, not betaking
itself to truth and believing in it. The form of the first is an
affirmation accompanied with an absolute security, and without the least
suspicion of a possible negation; the form of the second is reflective
affirmation, that is to say, the impossibility of denying and the
necessity of affirming. The idea of negation governs ordinary logic,
whose affirmations are only the laborious product of two negations.
Natural logic proceeds by affirmations stamped with a simple faith,
which instinct alone produces and sustains.

Now, will Kant reply that this reason, which is much purer than that
which he has known and described, which is wholly pure, which is
conceived as something disengaged from reflection, from volition, from
every thing that constitutes personality, is nevertheless personal,
since we have a consciousness of it, and since it is thus marked with
subjectivity? To this argument we have nothing to respond, except that
it is destroyed in the excess of its pretension. In fact, if, that
reason may not be subjective, we must in no way participate in it, and
must not have even a consciousness of its exercise, then there is no
means of ever escaping this reproach of subjectivity, and the ideal of
objectivity which Kant pursued is a chimerical, extravagant ideal,
above, or rather beneath, all true intelligence, all reason worthy the
name; for it is demanding that this intelligence and this reason should
cease to have consciousness of themselves, whilst this is precisely what
characterizes intelligence and reason.[40] Does Kant mean, then, that
reason, in order to possess a really objective power, cannot make its
appearance in a particular subject, that it must be, for example, wholly
outside of the subject which I am? Then it is nothing for me; a reason
that is not mine, that, under the pretext of being universal, infinite,
and absolute in its essence, does not fall under the perception of my
consciousness, is for me as if it were not. To wish that reason should
wholly cease to be subjective, is to demand something impossible to God
himself. No, God himself can understand nothing except in knowing it,
with his intelligence and with the consciousness of this intelligence.
There is subjectivity, then, in divine knowledge itself; if this
subjectivity involves skepticism, God is also condemned to skepticism,
and he can no more escape from it than men; or indeed, if this is too
ridiculous, if the knowledge which God has of the exercise of his own
intelligence does not involve skepticism for him, neither do the
knowledge which we have of the exercise of our intelligence, and the
subjectivity attached to this knowledge, involve it for us.

In truth, when we see the father of German philosophy thus losing
himself in the labyrinth of the problem of the subjectivity and the
objectivity of first principles, we are tempted to pardon Reid for
having disdained this problem, for limiting himself to repeating that
the absolute truth of universal and necessary principles rests upon the
veracity of our faculties, and that upon the veracity of our faculties
we are compelled to accept their testimony. "To explain," says he, "why
we are convinced by our senses, by consciousness, by our faculties, is
an impossible thing; we say--this is so, it cannot be otherwise, and we
can go no farther. Is not this the expression of an irresistible belief,
of a belief which is the voice of nature, and against which we contend
in vain? Do we wish to penetrate farther, to demand of our faculties,
one by one, what are their titles to our confidence, and to refuse them
confidence until they have produced their claims? Then, I fear that this
extreme wisdom would conduct us to folly, and that, not having been
willing to submit to the common lot of humanity, we should be deprived
of the light of common sense."[41]

Let us support ourselves also by the following admirable passage of him
who is, for so many reasons, the venerated master of the French
philosophy of the nineteenth century. "Intellectual life," says M.
Royer-Collard, "is an uninterrupted succession, not only of ideas, but
of explicit or implicit beliefs. The beliefs of the mind are the powers
of the soul and the motives of the will. That which determines us to
belief we call evidence. Reason renders no account of evidence; to
condemn reason to account for evidence, is to annihilate it, for it
needs itself an evidence which is fitted for it. These are fundamental
laws of belief which constitute intelligence, and as they flow from the
same source they have the same authority; they judge by the same right;
there is no appeal from the tribunal of one to that of another. He who
revolts against a single one revolts against all, and abdicates his
whole nature."[42]

Let us deduce the consequences of the facts of which we have just given
an exposition.

1st. The argument of Kant, which is based upon the character of
necessity in principles in order to weaken their objective authority,
applies only to the form imposed by reflection on these principles, and
does not reach their spontaneous application, wherein the character of
necessity no longer appears.

2d. After all, to conclude with the human race from the necessity of
believing in the truth of what we believe, is not to conclude badly; for
it is reasoning from effect to cause, from the sign to the thing

3d. Moreover, the value of principles is above all demonstration.
Psychological analysis seizes, takes, as it were, by surprise, in the
fact of intuition, an affirmation that is absolute, that is inaccessible
to doubt; it establishes it; and this is equivalent to demonstration. To
demand any other demonstration than this, is to demand of reason an
impossibility, since absolute principles, being necessary to all
demonstration, could only be demonstrated by themselves.[43]


[37] On conceptualism, as well as on nominalism and realism, see the
_Introduction to the inedited works of Abelard_, and also 1st Series,
vol. iv., lecture 21, p. 457; 2d Series, vol. iii., lecture 20, p. 215,
and the work already cited on the _Metaphysics of Aristotle_, p. 49:
"Nothing exists in this world which has not its law more general than
itself. There is no individual that is not related to a species; there
are no phenomena bound together that are not united to a plan. And it is
necessary there should really be in nature species and a plan, if every
thing has been made with weight and measure, _cum pondere et mensura_,
without which our very ideas of species and a plan would only be
chimeras, and human science a systematic illusion. If it is pretended
that there are individuals and no species, things in juxtaposition and
no plan; for example, human individuals more or less different, and no
human type, and a thousand other things of the same sort, well and good;
but in that case there is nothing general in the world, except in the
human understanding, that is to say, in other terms, the world and
nature are destitute of order and reason except in the head of man."

[38] See preceding lecture.

[39] On the just limits of the personality and the impersonality of
reason, see the following lecture, near the close.

[40] We have everywhere maintained, that consciousness is the condition,
or rather the necessary form of intelligence. Not to go beyond this
volume, see farther on, lecture 5.

[41] 1st Series, vol. iv., lecture 22, p. 494.

[42] _Oeuvres de Reid_, vol. iii., p. 450.

[43] We have not thought it best to make this lecture lengthy by an
exposition and detailed refutation of the _Critique of Pure Reason_ and
its sad conclusion; the little that we say of it is sufficient for our
purpose, which is much less historical than dogmatical. We refer the
reader to a volume that we have devoted to the father of German
philosophy, 1st Series, vol. v., in which we have again taken up and
developed some of the arguments that are here used, in which we believe
that we have irresistibly exposed the capital defect of the
transcendental logic of Kant, and of the whole German school, that it
leads to skepticism, inasmuch as it raises superhuman, chimerical,
extravagant problems, and, when well understood, cannot solve them. See
especially lectures 6 and 8.



    Object of the lecture: What is the ultimate basis of absolute
    truth?--Four hypotheses: Absolute truth may reside either in us,
    in particular beings and the world, in itself, or in God. 1. We
    perceive absolute truth, we do not constitute it. 2. Particular
    beings participate in absolute truth, but do not explain it;
    refutation of Aristotle. 3. Truth does not exist in itself;
    defence of Plato. 4. Truth resides in God.--Plato; St.
    Augustine; Descartes; Malebranche; Fénelon; Bossuet;
    Leibnitz.--Truth the mediator between God and man.--Essential

We have justified the principles that govern our intelligence; we have
become confident that there is truth outside of us, that there are
verities worthy of that name, which we can perceive, which we do not
make, which are not solely conceptions of our mind, which would still
exist although our mind should not perceive them. Now this other problem
naturally presents itself: What, then, in themselves, are these
universal and necessary truths? where do they reside? whence do they
come? We do not raise this problem, and the problems that it embraces;
the human mind itself proposes them, and it is fully satisfied only when
it has resolved them, and when it has reached the extreme limit of
knowledge that it is within its power to attain.

It is certain that the principles which, in all the orders of knowledge,
discover to us absolute and necessary truths, constitute part of our
reason, which surely makes its dwelling in us, and is intimately
connected with personality in the depths of intellectual life. It
follows that the truth, which reason reveals to us, falls thereby into
close relation with the subject that perceives it, and seems only a
conception of our mind. Nevertheless, as we have proved, we perceive
truth, we are not the authors of it. If the person that I am, if the
individual _me_ does not, perhaps, explain the whole of reason, how
could it explain truth, and absolute truth? Man, limited and passing
away, perceives necessary, eternal, infinite truth; that is for him a
privilege sufficiently high; but he is neither the principle that
sustains truth, nor the principle that gives it being. Man may say, My
reason; but give him credit for never having dared to say, My truth.

If absolute truths are beyond man who perceives them, once more, where
are they, then? A peripatetic would respond--In nature. Is it, in fact,
necessary to seek for them any other subject than the beings themselves
which they govern? What are the laws of nature, except certain
properties which our mind disengages from the beings and phenomena in
which they are met, in order to consider them apart? Mathematical
principles are nothing more. For example, the axiom thus expressed--The
whole is greater than any of its parts, is true of any whole and part
whatever. The principle of contradiction, considered in its logical
title, as the condition of all our judgments, of all our reasonings,
constitutes a part of the essence of all being, and no being can exist
without containing it. The universal exists, says Aristotle, but it does
not exist apart from particular beings.[44]

This theory which considers universals as having their basis in things,
is a progress towards the pure conceptualism which we have in the
beginning indicated and shunned. Aristotle is much more of a realist
than Abelard and Kant. He is quite right in maintaining that universals
are in particular things, for particular things could not be without
universals; universals give to them their fixity, even for a day, and
their unity. But from the fact that universals are in particular beings,
is it necessary to conclude that they, wholly and exclusively, reside
there, and that they have no other reality than that of the objects to
which they are applied? It is the same with principles of which
universals are the constitutive elements. It is, it is true, in the
particular fact, of a particular cause producing a particular event,
that is given us the universal principle of causality; but this
principle is much more extensive than the facts, for it is applied, not
only to this fact, but to a thousand others. The particular fact
contains the principle, but it does not wholly contain it, and, far from
giving the basis of the principle, it is based upon it. As much may be
said of other principles.

Perhaps it will be replied that, if a principle is certainly more
extensive than such a fact, or such a being, it is not more extensive
than all facts and all beings, and that nature, considered as a whole,
can explain that which each particular being does not explain. But
nature, in its totality, is still only a finite and contingent thing,
whilst the principles to be explained have a necessary and infinite
bearing. The idea of the infinite can come neither from any particular
being, nor from the whole of beings. Entire nature will not furnish us
the idea of perfection, for all the beings of nature are imperfect.
Absolute principles govern, then, all facts and all beings, they do not
spring from them.

Will it be necessary to come to the opinion, then, that absolute truths,
being explicable neither by humanity nor by nature, subsist by
themselves, and are to themselves their own foundation and their own

But this opinion contains still more absurdities than the preceding;
for, I ask, what are truths, absolute or contingent, that exist by
themselves, out of things in which they are found, and out of the
intelligence that conceives them? Truth is, then, only a realized
abstraction. There are no quintessential metaphysics which can prevail
against good sense; and if such is the Platonic theory of ideas,
Aristotle is right in his opposition to it. But such a theory is only a
chimera that Aristotle created for the pleasure of combating it.

Let us hasten to remove absolute truths from this ambiguous and
equivocal state. And how? By applying to them a principle which should
now be familiar to you. Yes, truth necessarily appeals to something
beyond itself. As every phenomenon has its subject of inherence, as our
faculties, our thoughts, our volitions, our sensations, exist only in a
being which is ourselves, so truth supposes a being in which it resides,
and absolute truths suppose a being absolute as themselves, wherein they
have their final foundation. We come thus to something absolute, which
is no longer suspended in the vagueness of abstraction, but is a being
substantially existing. This being, absolute and necessary, since it is
the subject of necessary and absolute truths, this being which is at the
foundation of truth as its very essence, in a single word, is called

This theory, which conducts from absolute truth to absolute being, is
not new in the history of philosophy: it goes back to Plato.

Plato,[46] in searching for the principles of knowledge clearly saw,
with Socrates his master, that the least definition, without which there
can be no precise knowledge, supposes something universal and one, which
does not come within the reach of the senses, which reason alone can
discover; this something universal and one he called _Idea_.

Ideas, which possess universality and unity, do not come from material,
changing, and mobile things, to which they are applied, and which render
them intelligible. On the other hand, it is not the human mind that
constitutes ideas; for man is not the measure of truth.

Plato calls Ideas veritable beings, [Greek: ta ontôs onta], since they
alone communicate to sensible things and to human cognitions their truth
and their unity. But does it follow that Plato gives to Ideas a
substantial existence, that he makes of them beings properly so called?
It is important that no cloud should be left on this fundamental point
of the Platonic theory.

At first, if any one should pretend that in Plato Ideas are beings
subsisting by themselves, without interconnection and without relation
to a common centre, numerous passages of the _Timaeus_ might be objected
to him,[47] in which Plato speaks of Ideas as forming in their whole an
ideal unity, which is the reason of the unity of the visible world.[48]

Will it be said that this ideal world forms a distinct unity, a unity
separate from God? But, in order to sustain this assertion, it is
necessary to forget so many passages of the _Republic_, in which the
relations of truth and science with the Good, that is to say, with God,
are marked in brilliant characters.

Let not that magnificent comparison be forgotten, in which, after having
said that the sun produces in the physical world light and life,
Socrates adds: "So thou art able to say, intelligible beings not only
hold from the _Good_ that which renders them intelligible, but also
their being and their essence."[49] So, intelligible beings, that is to
say, Ideas, are not beings that exist by themselves.

Men go on repeating with assurance that the Good, in Plato, is only the
idea of the good, and that an idea is not God. I reply, that the Good is
in fact an idea, according to Plato, but that the idea here is not a
pure conception of the mind, an object of thought, as the peripatetic
school understood it; I add, that the Idea of the Good is in Plato the
first of Ideas, and that, for this reason, while remaining for us an
object of thought, it is confounded as to existence with God. If the
Idea of the Good is not God himself, how will the following passage,
also taken from the _Republic_, be explained? "At the extreme limits of
the intellectual world is the Idea of the Good, which is perceived with
difficulty, but, in fine, cannot be perceived without concluding that it
is the source of all that is beautiful and good; that in the visible
world it produces light, and the star whence the light directly comes,
that in the invisible world it directly produces truth and
intelligence."[50] Who can produce, on the one hand, the sun and light,
on the other, truth and intelligence, except a real being?

But all doubt disappears before the following passages from the
_Phædrus_, neglected, as it would seem designedly, by the detractors of
Plato: "In this transition, (the soul) contemplates justice,
contemplates wisdom, contemplates science, not that wherein enters
change, nor that which shows itself different in the different objects
which we are pleased to call beings, but science as it exists in that
which is called being, _par excellence_...."[51]--"It belongs to the
soul to conceive the universal, that is to say, that which, in the
diversity of sensations, can be comprehended under a rational unity.
This is the remembrance of what the soul has seen during its journey _in
the train of Deity_, when, disdaining what we improperly call beings, it
looked upwards to the only true being. So it is just that the thought of
the philosopher should alone have wings; for its remembrance is always
as much as possible with _the things which make God a true God, inasmuch
as he is with them_."[52]

So the objects of the philosopher's contemplation, that is to say,
Ideas, are in God, and it is by these, by his essential union with
these, that God is the true God, the God who, as Plato admirably says in
the _Sophist_, participates in _august and holy intelligence_.[53]

It is therefore certain, that, in the true Platonic theory, Ideas are
not beings in the vulgar sense of the word, beings which would be
neither in the mind of man, nor in nature, nor in God, and would subsist
only by themselves. No, Plato considers Ideas as being at once the
principles of sensible things, of which they are the laws, and the
principles also of human knowledge, which owes to them its light, its
rule, and its end, and the essential attributes of God, that is to say,
God himself.

Plato is truly the father of the doctrine which we have explained, and
the great philosophers who have attached themselves to his school have
always professed this same doctrine.

The founder of Christian metaphysics, St. Augustine, is a declared
disciple of Plato: everywhere he speaks, like Plato, of the relation of
human reason to the divine reason, and of truth to God. In the _City of
God_, book x., chap. ii., and in chap. ix. of book vii. of the
_Confessions_, he goes to the extent of comparing the Platonic doctrine
with that of St. John.

He adopts, without reserve, the theory of Ideas. _Book of Eighty-three
Questions_, question 46: "Ideas are the primordial forms, and, as it
were, the immutable reasons of things; they are not created, they are
eternal, and always the same: they are contained in the divine
intelligence; and without being subject to birth and death, they are the
types according to which is formed every thing that is born and

"What man, pious, and penetrated with true religion, would dare to deny
that all things that exist, that is to say, all things that, each of its
kind, possess a determinate nature, have been created by God? This point
being once conceded, can it be said that God has created things without
reason? If it is impossible to say or think this, it follows that all
things have been created with reason. But the reason of the existence
of a man cannot be the same as the reason of the existence of a horse;
that is absurd; each thing has therefore been created by virtue of a
reason that is peculiar to it. Now, where can these reasons be, except
in the mind of the Creator? For he saw nothing out of himself, which he
could use as a model for creating what he created: such an opinion would
be sacrilege.[55]

"If the reasons of things to be created and things created are contained
in the divine intelligence, and if there is nothing in the divine
intelligence but the eternal and immutable, the reasons of things which
Plato calls Ideas, are the eternal and immutable truths, by the
participation in which every thing that is is such as it is."[56]

St. Thomas himself, who scarcely knew Plato, and who was often enough
held by Aristotle in a kind of empiricism, carried away by Christianity
and St. Augustine, let the sentiment escape him, "that our natural
reason is a sort of participation in the divine reason, that to this we
owe our knowledge and our judgments, that this is the reason why it is
said, that we see every thing in God."[57] There are in St. Thomas many
other similar passages, of perhaps an expressive Platonism, which is not
the Platonism of Plato, but of the Alexandrians.

The Cartesian philosophy, in spite of its profound originality, and its
wholly French character, is full of the Platonic spirit. Descartes has
no thought of Plato, whom apparently he has never read; in nothing does
he imitate or resemble him: nevertheless, from the first, he is met in
the same regions with Plato, whither he goes by a different route.

The notion of the infinite and the perfect is for Descartes what the
universal, the Idea, is for Plato. No sooner has Descartes found by
consciousness that he thinks, than he concludes from this that he
exists, then, in course, by consciousness still, he recognizes himself
as imperfect, full of defects, limitations, miseries, and, at the same
time, conceives something infinite and perfect. He possesses the idea of
the infinite and the perfect; but this idea is not his own work, for he
is imperfect; it must then have been put into him by another being
endowed with perfection, whom he conceives, whom he does not
possess:--that being is God. Such is the process by which Descartes,
setting out from his own thought, and his own being, elevated himself to
God. This process, so simple, which he so simply exposes in the
_Discours de la Méthode_, he will put successively, in the
_Méditations_, in the _Résponses aux Objections_, in the _Principes_,
under the most diverse forms, he will accommodate it, if it is
necessary, to the language of the schools, in order that it may
penetrate into them. After all, this process is compelled to conclude,
from the idea of the infinite and the perfect, in the existence of a
cause of this idea, adequate, at least, to the idea itself, that is to
say, infinite and perfect. One sees that the first difference between
Plato and Descartes is, that the ideas which in Plato are at once
conceptions of our mind, and the principles of things, are for
Descartes, as well as for all modern philosophy, only our conceptions,
amongst which that of the infinite and perfect occupies the first place;
the second difference is, that Plato goes from ideas to God by the
principle of substances, if we may be allowed to use this technical
language of modern philosophy; whilst Descartes employs rather the
principle of causality, and concludes--well understood without
syllogism--from the idea of the infinite and the perfect in a cause also
perfect and infinite.[58] But under these differences, and in spite of
many more, is a common basis, a genius the same, which at first elevates
us above the senses, and, by the intermediary of marvellous ideas that
are incontestably in us, bears us towards him who alone can be their
substance, who is the infinite and perfect author of our idea of
infinity and perfection. For this reason, Descartes belongs to the
family of Plato and Socrates.

The idea of the perfect and the finite being once introduced into the
philosophy of the seventeenth century, it becomes there for the
successors of Descartes what the theory of ideas became for the
successors of Plato.

Among the French writers, Malebranche, perhaps, reminds us with the
least disadvantage, although very imperfectly still, of the manner of
Plato: he sometimes expresses its elevation and grace; but he is far
from possessing the Socratic good sense, and, it must be confessed, no
one has clouded more the theory of ideas by exaggerations of every kind
which he has mingled with them.[59] Instead of establishing that there
is in the human reason, wholly personal as it is by its intimate
relation with our other faculties, something also which is not personal,
something universal which permits it to elevate itself to universal
truths, Malebranche does not hesitate to absolutely confound the reason
that is in us with the divine reason itself. Moreover, according to
Malebranche, we do not directly know particular things, sensible
objects; we know them only by ideas; it is the intelligible extension
and not the material extension that we immediately perceive; in vision
the proper object of the mind is the universal, the idea; and as the
idea is in God, it is in God that we see all things. We can understand
how well-formed minds must have been shocked by such a theory; but it is
not just to confound Plato with his brilliant and unfaithful disciple.
In Plato, sensibility directly attains sensible things; it makes them
known to us as they are, that is to say, as very imperfect and
undergoing perpetual change, which renders the knowledge that we have of
them almost unworthy of the name of knowledge. It is reason, different
in us from sensibility, which, above sensible objects, discovers to us
the universal, the idea, and gives a knowledge solid and durable. Having
once attained ideas, we have reached God himself, in whom they have
their foundation, who finishes and consummates true knowledge. But we
have no need of God, nor of ideas, in order to perceive sensible
objects, which are defective and changing; for this our senses are
sufficient. Reason is distinct from the senses; it transcends the
imperfect knowledge of what they are capable; it attains the universal,
because it possesses something universal itself; it participates in the
divine reason, but it is not the divine reason; it is enlightened by it,
it comes from it,--it is not it.

Fenelon is inspired at once by Malebranche and Descartes in the
treatise, _de l'Existence de Dieu_. The second part is entirely
Cartesian in method, in the order and sequence of the proofs.
Nevertheless, Malebranche also appears there, especially in the fourth
chapter, on the nature of ideas, and he predominates in all the
metaphysical portions of the first part. After the explanations which we
have given, it will not be difficult for you to discern what is true and
what is at times excessive in the passages which follow:[60]

Part i., chap. lii. "Oh! how great is the mind of man! It bears in
itself what astonishes itself and infinitely surpasses itself. Its ideas
are universal, eternal, and immutable.... The idea of the infinite is
in me as well as that of lines, numbers, and circles....--Chap. liv.
Besides this idea of the infinite, I have also universal and immutable
notions, which are the rule of all my judgments. I can judge of nothing
except by consulting them, and it is not in my power to judge against
what they represent to me. My thoughts, far from being able to correct
this rule, are themselves corrected in spite of me by this superior
rule, and they are irresistibly adjusted to its decision. Whatever
effort of mind I may make, I can never succeed in doubting that two and
two are four; that the whole is not greater than any of its parts; that
the centre of a perfect circle is not equidistant from all points of the
circumference. I am not at liberty to deny these propositions; and if I
deny these truths, or others similar to them, I have in me something
that is above me, that forces me to the conclusion. This fixed and
immutable rule is so internal and so intimate that I am inclined to take
it for myself; but it is above me since it corrects me, redresses me,
and puts me in defiance against myself, and reminds me of my impotence.
It is something that suddenly inspires me, provided I listen to it, and
I am never deceived except in not listening to it.... This internal rule
is what I call my reason....--Chap. lv. In truth my reason is in me; for
I must continually enter into myself in order to find it. But the higher
reason which corrects me when necessary, which I consult, exists not by
me, and makes no part of me. This rule is perfect and immutable; I am
changing and imperfect. When I am deceived, it does not lose its
integrity. When I am undeceived, it is not this that returns to its end:
it is this which, without ever having deviated, has the authority over
me to remind me of my error, and to make me return. It is a master
within, which makes me keep silent, which makes me speak, which makes me
believe, which makes me doubt, which makes me acknowledge my errors or
confirm my judgments. Listening to it, I am instructed; listening to
myself, I err. This master is everywhere, and its voice makes itself
heard, from end to end of the universe, in all men as well as in
me....--Chap. lvi.... That which appears the most in us and seems to be
the foundation of ourselves, I mean our reason, is that which is least
of all our own, which we are constrained to believe to be especially
borrowed. We receive without cessation, and at all moments, a reason
superior to us, as we breathe without cessation the air, which is a
foreign body....--Chap. lvii. The internal and universal master always
and everywhere speaks the same truths. We are not this master. It is
true that we often speak without it, and more loftily than it. But we
are then deceived, we are stammering, we do not understand ourselves. We
even fear to see that we are deceived, and we close the ear through fear
of being humiliated by its corrections. Without doubt, man, who fears
being corrected by this incorruptible reason, who always wanders in not
following it, is not that perfect, universal, immutable reason which
corrects him in spite of himself. In all things we find, as it were, two
principles within us. One gives, the other receives; one wants, the
other supplies; one is deceived, the other corrects; one goes wrong by
its own inclination, the other rectifies it.... Each one feels within
himself a limited and subaltern reason, which wanders when it escapes a
complete subordination, which is corrected only by returning to the yoke
of another superior, universal, and immutable power. So every thing in
us bears the mark of a subaltern, limited, partial, borrowed reason,
which needs another to correct it at every moment. All men are rational,
because they possess the same reason which is communicated to them in
different degrees. There is a certain number of wise men; but the wisdom
which they receive, as it were, from the fountain-head, which makes them
what they are, is one and the same....--Chap. lviii. Where is this
wisdom? Where is this reason, which is both common and superior to all
the limited and imperfect reasons of the human race? Where, then, is
this oracle which is never silent, against which the vain prejudices of
peoples are always impotent? Where is this reason which we ever need to
consult, which comes to us to inspire us with the desire of listening to
its voice? Where is this light _that lighteneth every man that cometh
into the world_.... The substance of the human eye is not light; on the
contrary, the eye borrows at each moment the light of the sun's rays. So
my mind is not the primitive reason, the universal and immutable truth,
it is only the medium that conducts this original light, that is
illuminated by it....--Chap. lx. I find two reasons in myself,--one is
myself, the other is above me. That which is in me is very imperfect,
faulty, uncertain, preoccupied, precipitate, subject to aberration,
changing, conceited, ignorant, and limited; in fine, it possesses
nothing but what it borrows. The other is common to all men, and is
superior to all; it is perfect, eternal, immutable, always ready to
communicate itself in all places, and to rectify all minds that are
deceived, in fine, incapable of ever being exhausted or divided,
although it gives itself to those who desire it. Where is this perfect
reason, that is so near me and so different from me? Where is it? It
must be something real.... Where is this supreme reason? Is it not God
that I am seeking?"

Part ii., chap. i., sect. 28.[61] "I have in me the idea of the infinite
and of infinite perfection.... Give me a finite thing as great as you
please--let it quite transcend the reach of my senses, so that it
becomes, as it were, infinite to my imagination; it always remains
finite in my mind; I conceive a limit to it, even when I cannot imagine
it. I am not able to mark the limit; but I know that it exists; and far
from confounding it with the infinite, I conceive it as infinitely
distant from the idea that I have of the veritable infinite. If one
speaks to me of the indefinite as a mean between the two extremes of the
infinite and the limited, I reply, that it signifies nothing, that, at
least, it only signifies something truly finite, whose boundaries escape
the imagination without escaping the mind.... Sect. 29. Where have I
obtained this idea, which is so much above me, which infinitely
surpasses me, which astonishes me, which makes me disappear in my own
eyes, which renders the infinite present to me? Whence does it come?
Where have I obtained it?... Once more, whence comes this marvellous
representation of the infinite, which pertains to the infinite itself,
which resembles nothing finite? It is in me, it is more than myself; it
seems to me every thing, and myself nothing. I can neither efface,
obscure, diminish, nor contradict it. It is in me; I have not put it
there, I have found it there; and I have found it there only because it
was already there before I sought it. It remains there invariable, even
when I do not think of it, when I think of something else. I find it
whenever I seek it, and it often presents itself when I am not seeking
it. It does not depend upon me; I depend upon it.... Moreover, who has
made this infinite representation of the infinite, so as to give it to
me? Has it made itself? Has the infinite image[62] of the infinite had
no original, according to which it has been made, no real cause that has
produced it? Where are we in relation to it? And what a mass of
extravagances! It is, therefore, absolutely necessary to conclude that
it is the infinitely perfect being that renders himself immediately
present to me, when I conceive him, and that he himself is the idea
which I have of him...."

Chap. iv., sect. 49. "... My ideas are myself; for they are my
reason.... My ideas, and the basis of myself, or of my mind, appear but
the same thing. On the other hand, my mind is changing, uncertain,
ignorant, subject to error, precipitate in its judgments, accustomed to
believe what it does not clearly understand, and to judge without having
sufficiently consulted its ideas, which are by themselves certain and
immutable. My ideas, then, are not myself, and I am not my ideas. What
shall I believe, then, they can be?... What then! are my ideas God?
They are superior to my mind, since they rectify and correct it; they
have the character of the Divinity, for they are universal and immutable
like God; they really subsist, according to a principle that we have
already established: nothing exists so really as that which is universal
and immutable. If that which is changing, transitory, and derived, truly
exists, much more does that which cannot change, and is necessary. It is
then necessary to find in nature something existing and real, that is,
my ideas, something that is within me, and is not myself, that is
superior to me, that is in me even when I am not thinking of it, with
which I believe myself to be alone, as though I were only with myself,
in fine, that is more present to me, and more intimate than my own
foundation. I know not what this something, so admirable, so familiar,
so unknown, can be, except God."

Let us now hear the most solid, the most authoritative of the Christian
doctors of the seventeenth century--let us hear Bossuet in his _Logic_,
and in the _Treatise on the Knowledge of God and Self_.[63]

Bossuet may be said to have had three masters in philosophy--St.
Augustine, St. Thomas, and Descartes. He had been taught at the college
of Navarre the doctrine of St. Thomas, that is to say, a modified
peripateticism; at the same time he was nourished by the reading of St.
Augustine, and out of the schools he found spread abroad the philosophy
of Descartes. He adopted it, and had no difficulty in reconciling it
with that of St. Augustine, while, upon more than one point, it
corroborated the doctrine of St. Thomas. Bossuet invented nothing in
philosophy; he received every thing, but every thing united and
purified, thanks to that supreme good sense which in him is a quality
predominating over force, grandeur, and eloquence.[64] In the passages
which I am about to exhibit to you, which I hope you will impress upon
your memories, you will not find the grace of Malebranche, the
exhaustless abundance of Fenelon; you will find what is better than
either, to wit, clearness and precision--all the rest in him is in some
sort an addition to these.

Fenelon disengages badly enough the process which conducts from ideas,
from universal and necessary truths, to God. Bossuet renders to himself
a strict account of this process, and marks it with force; it is the
principle that we have invoked, that which concludes from attributes in
a subject, from qualities in a being, from laws in a legislator, from
eternal verities in an eternal mind that comprehends them and eternally
possesses them. Bossuet cites St. Augustine, cites Plato himself,
interprets him and defends him in advance against those who would make
Platonic ideas beings subsisting by themselves, whilst they really exist
only in the mind of God.

_Logic_, book i., chap. xxxvi. "When I consider a rectilineal triangle
as a figure bounded by three straight lines, and having three angles
equal to two right angles, neither more nor less; and when I pass from
this to an equilateral triangle with its three sides and its three
angles equal, whence it follows, that I consider each angle of this
triangle as less than a right angle; and when I come again to consider a
right-angled triangle, and what I clearly see in this idea, in
connection with the preceding ideas, that the two angles of this
triangle are necessarily acute, and that these two acute angles are
exactly equal to one right angle, neither more nor less--I see nothing
contingent and mutable, and consequently, the ideas that represent to me
these truths are eternal. Were there not in nature a single equilateral
or right-angled triangle, or any triangle whatever, every thing that I
have just considered would remain always true and indubitable. In fact,
I am not sure of having ever seen an equilateral or rectilineal
triangle. Neither the rule nor the dividers could assure me that any
human hand, however skilful, could ever make a line exactly straight, or
sides and angles perfectly equal to each other. In strictness, we should
only need a microscope, in order, not to understand, but to see at a
glance, that the lines which we trace deviate from straightness, and
differ in length. We have never seen, then, any but imperfect images of
equilateral, rectilineal, or isosceles triangles, since they neither
exist in nature, nor can be constructed by art. Nevertheless, what we
see of the nature and the properties of a triangle, independently of
every existing triangle, is certain and indubitable. Place an
understanding in any given time, or at any point in eternity, thus to
speak, and it will see these truths equally manifest; they are,
therefore, eternal. Since the understanding does not give being to
truth, but is only employed in perceiving truth, it follows, that were
every created understanding destroyed, these truths would immutably

Chap. xxxvii. "Since there is nothing eternal, immutable, independent,
but God alone, we must conclude that these truths do not subsist in
themselves, but in God alone, and in his eternal ideas, which are
nothing else than himself.

"There are those who, in order to verify these eternal truths which we
have proposed, and others of the same nature, have figured to themselves
eternal essences aside from deity--a pure illusion, which comes from
not understanding that in God, as in the source of being, and in his
understanding, where resides the art of making and ordering all things,
are found primitive ideas, or as St. Augustine says, the eternally
subsisting reasons of things. Thus, in the thought of the architect is
the primitive idea of a house which he perceives in himself; this
intellectual house would not be destroyed by any ruin of houses built
according to this interior model; and if the architect were eternal, the
idea and the reason of the house would also be eternal. But, without
recurring to the mortal architect, there is an immortal architect, or
rather a primitive eternally subsisting art in the immutable thought of
God, where all order, all measure, all rule, all proportion, all reason,
in a word, all truth are found in their origin.

"These eternal verities which our ideas represent, are the true object
of science; and this is the reason why Plato, in order to render us
truly wise, continually reminds us of these ideas, wherein is seen, not
what is formed, but what is, not what is begotten and is corrupt, what
appears and vanishes, what is made and defective, but what eternally
subsists. It is this intellectual world which that divine philosopher
has put in the mind of God before the world was constructed, which is
the immutable model of that great work. These are the simple, eternal,
immutable, unbegotten, incorruptible ideas to which he refers us, in
order to understand truth. This is what has made him say that our ideas,
images of the divine ideas, were also immediately derived from the
divine ideas, and did not come by the senses, which serve very well,
said he, to awaken them, but not to form them in our mind. For if,
without having ever seen any thing eternal, we have so clear an idea of
eternity, that is to say, of being that is always the same; if, without
having perceived a perfect triangle, we understand it distinctly, and
demonstrate so many incontestable truths concerning it, it is a mark
that these ideas do not come from our senses."

_Treatise on the Knowledge of God and Self._[65] Chap. iv., sect. 5.
_Intelligence has for its object eternal truths, which are nothing else
than God himself, in whom they are always subsisting and perfectly

"... We have already remarked that the understanding has eternal
verities for its object. The standards by which we measure all things
are eternal and invariable. We know clearly that every thing in the
universe is made according to proportion, from the greatest to the
least, from the strongest to the weakest, and we know it well enough to
understand that these proportions are related to the principles of
eternal truth. All that is demonstrated in mathematics, and in any other
science whatever, is eternal and immutable, since the effect of the
demonstration is to show that the thing cannot be otherwise than as it
is demonstrated to be. So, in order to understand the nature and the
properties of things which I know, for example, a triangle, a square, a
circle, or the relations of these figures, and all other figures, to
each other, it is not necessary that I should find such in nature, and I
may be sure that I have never traced, never seen, any that are perfect.
Neither is it necessary that I should think that there is motion in the
world in order to understand the nature of motion itself, or that of the
lines which every motion describes, and the hidden proportions according
to which it is developed. When the idea of these things is once awakened
in my mind, I know that, whether they have an actual existence or not,
so they must be, that it is impossible for them to be of another nature,
or to be made in a different way. To come to something that concerns us
more nearly, I mean by these principles of eternal truth, that they do
not depend on human existence, that, so far as he is capable of
reasoning, it is the essential duty of man to live according to reason,
and to search for his maker, through fear of lacking the recognition of
his maker, if in fault of searching for him, he should be ignorant of
him. All these truths, and all those which I deduce from them by sure
reasoning, subsist independently of all time. In whatever time I place a
human understanding, it will know them, but in knowing them it will find
them truths, it will not make them such, for our cognitions do not make
their objects, but suppose them. So these truths subsist before all
time, before the existence of a human understanding: and were every
thing that is made according to the laws of proportion, that is to say,
every thing that I see in nature, destroyed except myself, these laws
would be preserved in my thought, and I should clearly see that they
would always be good and always true, were I also destroyed with the

"If I seek how, where, and in what subject they subsist eternal and
immutable, as they are, I am obliged to avow the existence of a being in
whom truth is eternally subsisting, in whom it is always understood; and
this being must be truth itself, and must be all truth, and from him it
is that truth is derived in every thing that exists and has
understanding out of him.

"It is, then, in him, in a certain manner, who is incomprehensible[66]
to me, it is in him, I say, that I see these eternal truths; and to see
them is to turn to him who is immutably all truth, and to receive his

"This eternal object is God eternally subsisting, eternally true,
eternally truth itself.... It is in this eternal that these eternal
truths subsist. It is also by this that I see them. All other men see
them as well as myself, and we see them always the same, and as having
existed before us. For we know that we have commenced, and we know that
these truths have always been. Thus we see them in a light superior to
ourselves, and it is in this superior light that we see whether we act
well or ill, that is to say, whether we act according to these
constitutive principles of our being or not. In that, then, we see, with
all other truths, the invariable rules of our conduct, and we see that
there are things in regard to which duty is indispensable, and that in
things which are naturally indifferent, the true duty is to accommodate
ourselves to the greatest good of society. A well-disposed man conforms
to the civil laws, as he conforms to custom. But he listens to an
inviolable law in himself, which says to him that he must do wrong to no
one, that it is better to be injured than to injure.... The man who sees
these truths, by these truths judges himself, and condemns himself when
he errs. Or, rather, these truths judge him, since they do not
accommodate themselves to human judgments, but human judgments are
accommodated to them. And the man judges rightly when, feeling these
judgments to be variable in their nature, he gives them for a rule these
eternal verities.

"These eternal verities which every understanding always perceives the
same, by which every understanding is governed, are something of God, or
rather, are God himself....

"Truth must somewhere be very perfectly understood, and man is to
himself an indubitable proof of this. For, whether he considers himself
or extends his vision to the beings that surround him, he sees every
thing subjected to certain laws, and to immutable rules of truth. He
sees that he understands these laws, at least in part,--he who has
neither made himself, nor any part of the universe, however small, and
he sees that nothing could have been made had not these laws been
elsewhere perfectly understood; and he sees that it is necessary to
recognize an eternal wisdom wherein all law, all order, all proportion,
have their primitive reason. For it is absurd to suppose that there is
so much sequence in truths, so much proportion in things, so much
economy in their arrangement, that is to say, in the world, and that
this sequence, this proportion, this economy, should nowhere be
understood:--and man, who has made nothing, veritably knowing these
things, although not fully knowing them, must judge that there is some
one who knows them in their perfection, and that this is he who has made
all things...."

Sect. 6 is wholly Cartesian. Bossuet there demonstrates that the soul
knows by the imperfection of its own intelligence that there is
elsewhere a perfect intelligence.

In sect. 9, Bossuet elucidates anew the relation of truth to God.

"Whence comes to my intelligence this impression, so pure, of truth?
Whence come to it those immutable rules that govern reasoning, that form
manners, by which it discovers the secret proportions of figures and of
movements? Whence come to it, in a word, those eternal truths which I
have considered so much? Do the triangles, the squares, the circles,
that I rudely trace on paper, impress upon my mind their proportions and
their relations? Or are there others whose perfect trueness produces
this effect? Where have I seen these circles and these triangles so
true,--I who am not sure of ever having seen a perfectly regular figure,
and, nevertheless, understand this regularity so perfectly? Are there
somewhere, either in the world or out of the world, triangles or circles
existing with this perfect regularity, whereby it could be impressed
upon my mind? And do these rules of reasoning and conduct also exist in
some place, whence they communicate to me their immutable truth? Or,
indeed, is it not rather he who has everywhere extended measure,
proportion, truth itself, that impresses on my mind the certain idea of
them?... It is, then, necessary to understand that the soul, made in the
image of God, capable of understanding truth, which is God himself,
actually turns towards its original, that is to say, towards God, where
the truth appears to it as soon as God wills to make the truth appear to
it.... It is an astonishing thing that man understands so many truths,
without understanding at the same time that all truth comes from God,
that it is in God, that it is God himself.... It is certain that God is
the primitive reason of all that exists and has understanding in the
universe; that he is the true original, and that every thing is true by
relation to his eternal idea, that seeking truth is seeking him, and
that finding truth is finding him...."

Chap. v., sect. 14. "The senses do not convey to the soul knowledge of
truth. They excite it, awaken it, and apprize it of certain effects: it
is solicited to search for causes, but it discovers them, it sees their
connections, the principles which put them in motion, only in a superior
light that comes from God, or is God himself. God is, then, truth, which
is always the same to all minds, and the true source of intelligence.
For this reason intelligence beholds the light, breathes, and lives."

At the close of the seventeenth century, Leibnitz comes to crown these
great testimonies, and to complete their unanimity.

Here is a passage from an important treatise entitled, _Meditationes de
Cognitione, Veritate et Idæis_, in which Leibnitz declares that primary
notions are the attributes of God. "I know not," he says, "whether man
can perfectly account to himself for his ideas, except by ascending to
primary ideas for which he can no more account, that is to say, to the
absolute attributes of God."[67]

The same doctrine is in the _Principia Philosophiæ seu Theses in Gratiam
Principis Eugenii_. "The intelligence of God is the region of eternal
truths, and the ideas that depend upon them."[68]

_Theodicea_, part ii., sect. 189.[69] "It must not be said with the
Scotists that eternal truths would subsist if there were no
understanding, not even that of God. For, in my opinion, it is the
divine understanding that makes the reality of eternal truths."

_Nouveaux Essais sur l'Entendement Humain_, book ii., chap. xvii. "The
idea of the absolute is in us internally like that of being. _These
absolutes are nothing else than the attributes of God_, and it may be
said they are just as much the source of ideas as God is in himself the
principle of beings."

_Ibid._, book iv., chap. xi. "But it will be demanded where those ideas
would be if no mind existed, and what would then become of the real
foundation of this certainty of eternal truths? That brings us in fine
to the last foundation of truths, to wit, to that supreme and universal
mind which cannot be destitute of existence, whose understanding, to
speak truly, is the region of eternal truths, as St. Augustine saw and
clearly enough expressed it. And that it may not be thought necessary to
recur to it, we must consider that these necessary truths contain the
determinating reason and the regulative principle of existences
themselves, and, in a word, the laws of the universe. So these
unnecessary truths, being anterior to the existences of contingent
beings, must have their foundation in the existence of a necessary
substance. It is there that I find the original of truths which are
stamped upon our souls, not in the form of propositions, but as sources,
the application and occasions of which will produce actual

So, from Plato to Leibnitz, the greatest metaphysicians have thought
that absolute truth is an attribute of absolute being. Truth is
incomprehensible without God, as God is incomprehensible without truth.
Truth is placed between human intelligence and the supreme intelligence,
as a kind of mediator. In the lowest degree, as well as at the height of
being, God is everywhere met, for truth is everywhere. Study nature,
elevate yourselves to the laws that govern it and make of it as it were
a living truth:--the more profoundly you understand its laws, the nearer
you approach to God. Study, above all, humanity; humanity is much
greater than nature, for it comes from God as well as nature, and knows
him, while nature is ignorant of him. Especially seek and love truth,
and refer it to the immortal being who is its source. The more you know
of the truth, the more you know of God. The sciences, so far from
turning us away from religion, conduct us to it. Physics, with their
laws, mathematics, with their sublime ideas, especially philosophy,
which cannot take a single step without encountering universal and
necessary principles, are so many stages on the way to Deity, and, thus
to speak, so many temples in which homage is perpetually paid to him.

But in the midst of these high considerations, let us carefully guard
ourselves against two opposite errors, from which men of fine genius
have not always known how to preserve themselves,--against the error of
making the reason of man purely individual, and against the error of
confounding it with truth and the divine reason.[70] If the reason of
man is purely individual because it is in the individual, it can
comprehend nothing that is not individual, nothing that transcends the
limits wherein it is confined. Not only is it unable to elevate itself
to any universal and necessary truth, not only is it unable to have any
idea of it, even any suspicion of it, as one blind from his birth can
have no suspicion that a sun exists; but there is no power, not even
that of God, that by any means could make penetrate the reason of man
any truth of that order absolutely repugnant to its nature; since, for
this end, it would not be sufficient for God to lighten our mind; it
would be necessary to change it, to add to it another faculty. Neither,
on the other hand, must we, with Malebranche, make the reason of man to
such a degree impersonal that it takes the place of truth which is its
object, and of God who is its principle. It is truth that to us is
absolutely impersonal, and not reason. Reason is in man, yet it comes
from God. Hence it is individual and finite, whilst its root is in the
infinite; it is personal by its relation to the person in which it
resides, and must also possess I know not what character of
universality, of necessity even, in order to be capable of conceiving
universal and necessary truths; hence it seems, by turns, according to
the point of view from which it is regarded, pitiable and sublime. Truth
is in some sort lent to human reason, but it belongs to a totally
different reason, to wit, that supreme, eternal, uncreated reason, which
is God himself. The truth in us is nothing else than our object; in God,
it is one of his attributes, as well as justice, holiness, mercy, as we
shall subsequently see. God exists; and so far as he exists, he thinks,
and his thoughts are truths, eternal as himself, which are reflected in
the laws of the universe, which the reason of man has received the power
to attain. Truth is the offspring, the utterance, I was about to say,
the eternal word of God, if it is permitted philosophy to borrow this
divine language from that holy religion which teaches us to worship God
in spirit and in truth. Of old, the theory of Ideas, which manifest God
to men, and remind them of him, had given to Plato the surname of the
precursor; on account of that theory of Ideas he was dear to St.
Augustine, and is invoked by Bossuet. It is by this same theory, wisely
interpreted, and purified by the light of our age, that the new
philosophy is attached to the tradition of great philosophies, and to
that of Christianity.

The last problem that the science of the true presented is resolved:--we
are in possession of the basis of absolute truths. God is substance,
reason, supreme cause, and the unity of all these truths; God, and God
alone, is to us the boundary beyond which we have nothing more to seek.


[44] See our work entitled, _Metaphysics of Aristotle_, 2d edition,
_passim_. In Aristotle himself, see especially _Metaphysics_, book vii.,
chap. xii., and book xiii., chap. ix.

[45] There are doubtless many other ways of arriving at God, as we shall
successively see; but this is the way of metaphysics. We do not exclude
any of the known and accredited proofs of the existence of God; but we
begin with that which gives all the others. See further on, part ii.,
_God, the Principle of Beauty_, and part iii., _God, the Principle of
the Good_, and the last lecture, which sums up the whole course.

[46] We have said a word on the Platonic theory of ideas, 1st Series,
vol. iv., p. 461 and 522. See also, vol. ii. of the 2d Series, lecture
7, on _Plato and Aristotle_, especially 3d Series, vol. i., a few words
on the _Language of the Theory of Ideas_, p. 121; our work on the
_Metaphysics of Aristotle_, p. 48 and 149, and our translation of Plato,

[47] Aristotle first stated this; modern peripatetics have repeated it;
and after them, all who have wished to decry the ancient philosophy, and
philosophy in general, by giving the appearance of absurdity to its most
illustrious representative.

[48] See particularly p. 121 of the _Timaeus_, vol. xii. of our

[49] _Republic_, book vi., vol. x. of our translation, p. 57.

[50] _Republic_, book vii., p. 20.

[51] _Phædrus_, vol. vi., p. 51.

[52] _Phædrus_, vol. vi., p. 55.

[53] Vol. xi., p. 261.

[54] Edit. Bened., vol. vi., p. 17: _Idex sunt formæ quædam principales
et rationes rerum stabiles atque incommutabiles, quæ ipsæ formatæ non
sunt ac per hoc æternæ ac semper eodem modo sese habentes, quæ in divina
intelligentia continentur_....

[55] Edit. Bened., vol. vi., p. 18. _Singula igitur propriis creata sunt
rationibus. Has autem rationes ubi arbitrandum est esse nisi in mente
Creatoris? non enim extra se quidquam intuebatur, ut secundum id
constitueret quod constituebat: nam hoc opinari sacrilegum est._

[56] _Ibid._ See also, book of the _Confessions_, book ii. of the _Free
Will_, book xii. of the _Trinity_, book vii. of the _City of God_, &c.

[57] _Summa totius theologiæ_. Primæ partis quæst. xii. art. 11. _Ad
tertium dicendum, quod omnia dicimus in Deo videre, et secundum ipsum de
omnibus judicare, in quantum per participationem sui luminis omnia
cognoscimus et dijudicamus. Nam et ipsum lumen naturale rationis
participatio quædam est divini luminis._

[58] On the doctrine of Descartes, and on the proof of the existence of
God and the true process that he employs, see 1st Series, vol. iv.,
lecture 12, p. 64, lecture 22, p. 509-518; vol. v., lecture 6, p. 205;
2d Series, vol. xi., lecture 11; especially the three articles, already
cited, of the _Journal des Savants_ for the year 1850.

[59] See on Malebranche, 2d Series, lecture 2, and 3d Series, vol. iii.,
_Modern Philosophy_, as well as the _Fragments of Cartesian Philosophy_;
preface of the 1st edition of our _Pascal_:--"On this basis, so pure,
Malebranche is not steady; is excessive and rash, I know; narrow and
extreme, I do not fear to say; but always sublime, expressing only one
side of Plato, but expressing it in a wholly Christian spirit and in
angelic language. Malebranche is a Descartes who strays, having found
divine wings, and lost all connection with the earth."

[60] We use the only good edition of the treatise on the Existence of
God, that which the Abbé Gosselin has given in the collection of the
_Works of Fenelon_. Versailles, 1820. See vol. i., p. 80.

[61] Edit. de Versailles, p. 145.

[62] It is not necessary to remark how incorrect are the expressions,
_representation of the infinite, image of the infinite_, especially
_infinite image of the infinite_. We cannot represent to ourselves, we
cannot imagine to ourselves the infinite. We conceive the infinite; the
infinite is not an object of the imagination, but of the understanding,
of reason. See 1st Series, vol. v., lecture 6, p. 223, 224.

[63] By a trifling anachronism, for which we shall be pardoned, we have
here joined to the _Traité de la Connaissance de Dieu et de Soi-même_,
so long known, the _Logique_, which was only published in 1828.

[64] 4th Series, vol. i., preface of the 1st edition of _Pascal_:
"Bossuet, with more moderation, and supported by a good sense which
nothing can shake, is, in his way, a disciple of the same doctrine, only
the extremes of which according to his custom, he shunned. This great
mind, which may have superiors in invention, but has no equal for force
in common sense, was very careful not to place revelation and philosophy
in opposition to each other: he found it the safer and truer way to give
to each its due, to borrow from philosophy whatever natural light it can
give, in order to increase it in turn with the supernatural light, of
which the Church has been made the depository. It is in this sovereign
good sense, capable of comprehending every thing, and uniting every
thing, that resides the supreme originality of Bossuet. He shunned
particular opinions as small minds seek them for the triumph of
self-love. He did not think of himself; he only searched for truth, and
wherever he found it he listened to it, well assured that if the
connection between truths of different orders sometimes escapes us, it
is no reason for closing the eyes to any truth. If we wished to give a
scholastic name to Bossuet, according to the custom of the Middle Age,
we would have to call him the infallible doctor. He is not only one of
the highest, he is also one of the best and solidest intelligences that
ever existed; and this great conciliator has easily reconciled religion
and philosophy, St. Augustine and Descartes, tradition and reason."

[65] The best, or, rather, only good edition is that which was published
from an authentic copy, in 1846, by Lecoffre.

[66] These words, _d'une certaine manière qui m'est incompréhensible,
c'est en lui, dis-je_, are not in the first edition of 1722.

[67] _Leibnitzii Opera_, edit. Deutens, vol. ii., p. 17.

[68] _Ibid._, p. 24.

[69] 1st edition, Amsterdam, 1710, p. 354, edit. of M. de Jaucourt,
Amsterdam, 1747, vol. ii., p. 93.

[70] We have many times designated these two rocks, for example, 2d
Series, vol. i., lecture 5, p. 92:--"One cannot help smiling when, in
our times, he hears individual reason spoken against. In truth it is a
great waste of declamation, for the reason is not individual; if it
were, we should govern it as we govern our resolutions and our
volitions, we could at any moment change its acts, that is to say, our
conceptions. If these conceptions were merely individual, we should not
think of imposing them upon another individual, for to impose our own
individual and personal conceptions on another individual, on another
person, would be the most extravagant despotism.... We call those mad
who do not admit the relations of numbers, the difference between the
beautiful and the ugly, the just and the unjust. Why? Because we know
that it is not the individual that constitutes these conceptions, or, in
other terms, we know that the reason has something universal and
absolute, that upon this ground it obligates all individuals; and an
individual, at the same time that he knows that he himself is obligated
by it, knows that all others are obligated by it on the same
ground."--_Ibid._, p. 93: "Truth misconceived is thereby neither altered
nor destroyed; it subsists independently of the reason that perceives it
or perceives it ill. Truth in itself is independent of our reason. Its
true subject is the universal and absolute reason."



    Distinction between the philosophy that we profess and
    mysticism. Mysticism consists in pretending to know God without
    an intermediary.--Two sorts of mysticism.--Mysticism of
    sentiment. Theory of sensibility. Two sensibilities--the one
    external, the other internal, and corresponding to the soul as
    external sensibility corresponds to nature.--Legitimate part of
    sentiment.--Its aberrations.--Philosophical mysticism. Plotinus:
    God, or absolute unity, perceived without an intermediary by
    pure thought.--Ecstasy.--Mixture of superstition and abstraction
    in mysticism.--Conclusion of the first part of the course.

Whether we turn our attention to the forces and the laws that animate
and govern matter without belonging to it, or as the order of our labors
calls us to do, reflect upon the universal and necessary truths which
our mind discovers but does not constitute, the least systematic use of
reason makes us naturally conclude from the forces and laws of the
universe that there is a first intelligent mover, and from necessary
truths that there is a necessary being who alone is their substance. We
do not perceive God, but we conceive him, upon the faith of this
admirable world exposed to our view, and upon that of this other world,
more admirable still, which we bear in ourselves. By this double road we
succeed in going to God. This natural course is that of all men: it must
be sufficient for a sound philosophy. But there are feeble and
presumptuous minds that do not know how to go thus far, or do not know
how to stop there. Confined to experience, they do not dare to conclude
from what they see in what they do not see, as if at all times, at the
sight of the first phenomenon that appears to their eyes, they did not
admit that this phenomenon has a cause, even when this cause does not
come within the reach of their senses. They do not perceive it, yet they
believe in it, for the simple reason that they necessarily conceive it.
Man and the universe are also facts that cannot but have a cause,
although this cause may neither be seen by our eyes nor touched by our
hands. Reason has been given us for the very purpose of going, and
without any circuit of reasoning, from the visible to the invisible,
from the finite to the infinite, from the imperfect to the perfect, and
also, from necessary and universal truths, which surround us on every
side, to their eternal and necessary principle. Such is the natural and
legitimate bearing of reason. It possesses an evidence of which it
renders no account, and is not thereby less irresistible to whomsoever
does not undertake to contest with God the veracity of the faculties
which he has received. But one does not revolt against reason with
impunity. It punishes our false wisdom by giving us up to extravagance.
When one has confined himself to the narrow limits of what he directly
perceives, he is smothered by these limits, wishes to go out of them at
any price, and invokes some other means of knowing; he did not dare to
admit the existence of an invisible God, and now behold him aspiring to
enter into immediate communication with him, as with sensible objects,
and the objects of consciousness. It is an extreme feebleness for a
rational being thus to doubt reason, and it is an incredible rashness,
in this despair of intelligence, to dream of direct communication with
God. This desperate and ambitious dream is mysticism.

It behooves us to separate with care this chimera, that is not without
danger, from the cause that we defend. It behooves us so much the more
to openly break with mysticism, as it seems to touch us more nearly, as
it pretends to be the last word of philosophy, and as by an appearance
of greatness it is able to seduce many a noble soul, especially at one
of those epochs of lassitude, when, after the cruel disappointment of
excessive hopes, human reason, having lost faith in its own power
without having lost the need of God, in order to satisfy this immortal
need, addresses itself to every thing except itself, and in fault of
knowing how to go to God by the way that is open to it, throws itself
out of common sense, and tries the new, the chimerical, even the absurd,
in order to attain the impossible.

Mysticism contains a pusillanimous skepticism in the place of reason,
and, at the same time, a faith blind and carried even to the oblivion of
all the conditions imposed upon human nature. To conceive God under the
transparent veil of the universe and above the highest truths, is at
once too much and too little for mysticism. It does not believe that it
knows God, if it knows him only in his manifestations and by the signs
of his existence: it wishes to perceive him directly, it wishes to be
united to him, sometimes by sentiment, sometimes by some other
extraordinary process.

Sentiment plays so important a part in mysticism, that our first care
must be to investigate the nature and proper function of this
interesting and hitherto ill-studied part of human nature.

It is necessary to distinguish sentiment well from sensation. There are,
in some sort, two sensibilities: one is directed to the external world,
and is charged with transmitting to the soul the impressions that it
sees; the other is wholly interior, and is related to the soul as the
other is to nature,--its function is to receive the impression, and, as
it were, the rebound of what passes in the soul. Have we discovered any
truth? there is something in us which feels joy on account of it. Have
we performed a good action? we receive our reward in a feeling of
satisfaction less vivid, but more delicate and more durable than all the
agreeable sensations that come from the body. It seems as if
intelligence also had its intimate organ, which suffers or enjoys,
according to the state of the intelligence. We bear in ourselves a
profound source of emotion, at once physical and moral, which expresses
the union of our two natures. The animal does not go beyond sensation,
and pure thought belongs only to the angelic nature. The sentiment that
partakes of sensation and thought is the portion of humanity. Sentiment
is, it is true, only an echo of reason; but this echo is sometimes
better understood than reason itself, because it resounds in the most
intimate, the most delicate portions of the soul, and moves the entire

It is a singular, but incontestable fact, that as soon as reason has
conceived truth, the soul attaches itself to it, and loves it. Yes, the
soul loves truth. It is a wonderful thing that a being strayed into one
corner of the universe, alone charged with sustaining himself against so
many obstacles, who, it would seem, has enough to do to think of
himself, to preserve and somewhat embellish his life, is capable of
loving what is not related to him, and exists only in an invisible
world! This disinterested love of truth gives evidence of the greatness
of him who feels it.

Reason takes one step more:--it is not contented with truth, even
absolute truth, when convinced that it possesses it ill, that it does
not possess it as it really is; as long as it has not placed it upon its
eternal basis; having arrived there, it stops as before its impassable
barrier, having nothing more to seek, nothing more to find. Sentiment
follows reason, to which it is attached; it stops, it rests, only in the
love of the infinite being.

In fact, it is the infinite that we love, while we believe that we are
loving finite things, even while loving truth, beauty, virtue. And so
surely is it the infinite itself that attracts and charms us, that its
highest manifestations do not satisfy us until we have referred them to
their immortal source. The heart is insatiable, because it aspires after
the infinite. This sentiment, this need of the infinite, is at the
foundation of the greatest passions, and the most trifling desires. A
sigh of the soul in the presence of the starry heavens, the melancholy
attached to the passion of glory, to ambition, to all the great emotions
of the soul, express it better without doubt, but they do not express it
more than the caprice and mobility of those vulgar loves, wandering from
object to object in a perpetual circle of ardent desires, of poignant
disquietudes, and mournful disenchantments.

Let us designate another relation between reason and sentiment.

The mind at first precipitates itself towards its object without
rendering to itself an account of what it does, of what it perceives, of
what it feels. But, with the faculty of thinking, of feeling, it has
also that of willing; it possesses the liberty of returning to itself,
of reflecting on its own thought and sentiment, of consenting to this,
or of resisting it, of abstaining from it, or of reproducing its thought
and sentiment, while stamping them with a new character. Spontaneity,
reflection,--these are the two great forms of intelligence.[71] One is
not the other; but, after all, the latter does little more than develop
the former; they contain at bottom the same things:--the point of view
alone is different. Every thing that is spontaneous is obscure and
confused; reflection carries with it a clear and distinct view.

Reason does not begin by reflection; it does not at first perceive the
truth as universal and necessary; consequently, when it passes from idea
to being, when it refers truth to the real being that is its subject, it
has not sounded, it even has no suspicion of the depth of the chasm it
passes; it passes it by means of the power which is in it, but it is not
astonished at what it has done. It is subsequently astonished, and
undertakes by the aid of the liberty with which it is endowed, to do the
opposite of what it has done, to deny what it has affirmed. Here
commences the strife between sophism and common sense, between false
science and natural truth, between good and bad philosophy, both of
which come from free reflection. The sad and sublime privilege of
reflection is error; but reflection is the remedy for the evil it
produces. If it can deny natural truth, usually it confirms it, returns
to common sense by a longer or shorter circuit; it opposes in vain all
the tendencies of human nature, by which it is almost always overcome,
and brought back submissive to the first inspirations of reason,
fortified by this trial. But there is nothing more in the end than there
was at the beginning; only in primitive inspiration there was a power
which was ignorant of itself, and in the legitimate results of
reflection there is a power which knows itself:--one is the triumph of
instinct, the other, that of true science.

Sentiment which accompanies intelligence in all its proceedings presents
the same phenomena.

The heart, like reason, pursues the infinite, and the only difference
there is in these pursuits is, that sometimes the heart seeks the
infinite without knowing that it seeks it, and sometimes it renders to
itself an account of the final end of the need of loving what disturbs
it. When reflection is added to love, if it finds that the object loved
is in fact worthy of being loved, far from enfeebling love, it
strengthens it; far from clipping its divine wings, it develops them,
and nourishes them, as Plato[72] says. But if the object of love is only
a symbol of the true beauty, only capable of exciting the desire of the
soul without satisfying it, reflection breaks the charm which held the
heart, dissipates the chimera that enchained it. It must be very sure in
regard to its attachments, in order to dare to put them to the proof of
reflection. O Psyche! Psyche! preserve thy good fortune; do not sound
the mystery too deeply. Take care not to bring the fearful light near
the invisible lover with whom thy soul is enamored. At the first ray of
the fatal lamp love is awakened, and flies away. Charming image of what
takes place in the soul, when to the serene and unsuspecting confidence
of sentiment succeeds reflection with its bitter train. This is perhaps
also the meaning of the biblical account of the tree of knowledge.[73]
Before science and reflection are innocence and faith. Science and
reflection at first engender doubt, disquietude, distaste for what one
possesses, the disturbed pursuit of what one knows not, troubles of mind
and soul, sore travail of thought, and, in life, many faults, until
innocence, forever lost, is replaced by virtue, simple faith by true
science, until love, through so many vanishing illusions, finally
succeeds in reaching its true object.

Spontaneous love has the native grace of ignorance and happiness.
Reflective love is very different; it is serious, it is great, even in
its faults, with the greatness of liberty. Let us not be in haste to
condemn reflection: if it often produces egotism, it also produces
devotion. What, in fact, is self-devotion? It is giving ourselves
freely, with full knowledge of what we are doing. Therein consists the
sublimity of love, love worthy of a noble and generous creature, not an
ignorant and blind love. When affection has conquered selfishness,
instead of loving its object for its own sake, the soul gives itself to
its object, and miracle of love, the more it gives the more it
possesses, nourishing itself by its own sacrifices, and finding its
strength and its joy in its entire self-abandonment. But there is only
one being who is worthy of being thus loved, and who can be thus loved
without illusions, and without mistakes, at once without limits, and
without regret, to wit, the perfect being who alone does not fear
reflection, who alone can fill the entire capacity of our heart.

Mysticism corrupts sentiment by exaggerating its power.

Mysticism begins by suppressing in man reason, or, at least, it
subordinates and sacrifices reason to sentiment.

Listen to mysticism: it says that by the heart alone is man in relation
with God. All that is great, beautiful, infinite, eternal, love alone
reveals to us. Reason is only a lying faculty. Because it may err, and
does err, it is said that it always errs. Reason is confounded with
every thing that it is not. The errors of the senses, and of reasoning,
the illusions of the imagination, even the extravagances of passion,
which sometimes give rise to those of mind, every thing is laid to the
charge of reason. Its imperfections are triumphed over, its miseries are
complacently exhibited; the most audacious dogmatical system--since it
aspires to put man and God in immediate communication--borrows against
reason all the arms of skepticism.

Mysticism goes farther: it attacks liberty itself; it orders liberty to
renounce itself, in order to identify itself by love with him from whom
the infinite separates us. The ideal of virtue is no longer the
courageous perseverance of the good man, who, in struggling against
temptation and suffering, makes life holy; it is no longer the free and
enlightened devotion of a loving soul; it is the entire and blind
abandonment of ourselves, of our will, of our being, in a barren
contemplation of thought, in a prayer without utterance, and almost
without consciousness.

The source of mysticism is in that incomplete view of human nature,
which knows not how to discern in it what therein is most profound,
which betakes itself to what is therein most striking, most seizing,
and, consequently, also most seizable. We have already said that reason
is not noisy, and often is not heard, whilst its echo of sentiment
loudly resounds. In this compound phenomenon, it is natural that the
most apparent element should cover and dim the most obscure.

Moreover, what relations, what deceptive resemblances between these two
faculties! Without doubt, in their development, they manifestly differ;
when reason becomes reasoning, one easily distinguishes its heavy
movement from the flight of sentiment; but spontaneous reason is almost
confounded with sentiment,--there is the same rapidity, the same
obscurity. Add that they pursue the same object, and almost always go
together. It is not, then, astonishing that they should be confounded.

A wise philosophy distinguishes[74] them without separating them.
Analysis demonstrates that reason precedes, and that sentiment follows.
How can we love what we are ignorant of? In order to enjoy the truth, is
it not necessary to know it more or less? In order to be moved by
certain ideas, is it not necessary to have possessed them in some
degree? To absorb reason in sentiment is to stifle the cause in the
effect. When one speaks of the light of the heart, he designates,
without knowing it, that light of the spontaneous reason which discovers
to us truth by a pure and immediate intuition entirely opposite to the
slow and laborious processes of the reflective reason and reasoning.

Sentiment by itself is a source of emotion, not of knowledge. The sole
faculty of knowledge is reason. At bottom, if sentiment is different
from sensation, it nevertheless pertains on all sides to general
sensibility, and it is, like it, variable; it has, like it, its
interruptions, its vivacity, and its lassitude, its exaltation and its
short-comings. The inspirations of sentiment, then, which are
essentially mobile and individual, cannot be raised to a universal and
absolute rule. It is not so with reason; it is constantly the same in
each one of us, the same in all men. The laws that govern its exercise
constitute the common legislation of all intelligent beings. There is no
intelligence that does not conceive some universal and necessary truth,
and, consequently, the infinite being who is its principle. These grand
objects being once known excite in the souls of all men the emotions
that we have endeavored to describe. These emotions partake of the
dignity of reason and the mobility of imagination and sensibility.
Sentiment is the harmonious and living relation between reason and
sensibility. Suppress one of the two terms, and what becomes of the
relation? Mysticism pretends to elevate man directly to God, and does
not see that in depriving reason of its power, it really deprives him of
that which makes him know God, and puts him in a just communication with
God by the intermediary of eternal and infinite truth.

The fundamental error of mysticism is, that it discards this
intermediary, as if it were a barrier and not a tie: it makes the
infinite being the direct object of love. But such a love can be
sustained only by superhuman efforts that end in folly. Love tends to
unite itself with its object: mysticism absorbs love in its object.
Hence the extravagances of that mysticism so severely and so justly
condemned by Bossuet and the Church in quietism.[75] Quietism lulls to
sleep the activity of man, extinguishes his intelligence, substitutes
indolent and irregular contemplation for the seeking of truth and the
fulfilment of duty. The true union of the soul with God is made by truth
and virtue. Every other union is a chimera, a peril, sometimes a crime.
It is not permitted man to reject, under any pretext, that which makes
him man, that which renders him capable of comprehending God, and
expressing in himself an imperfect image of God, that is to say, reason,
liberty, conscience. Without doubt, virtue has its prudence, and if we
must never yield to passion, there are diverse ways of combating it in
order to conquer it. One can let it subside, and resignation and silence
may have their legitimate employment. There is a portion of truth, of
utility even, in the _Spiritual Letters_, even in the _Maxims of the
Saints_. But, in general, it is unsafe to anticipate in this world the
prerogatives of death, and to dream of sanctity when virtue alone is
required of us, when virtue is so difficult to attain, even imperfectly.
The best quietism can, at most, be only a halt in the course, a truce in
the strife, or rather another manner of combating. It is not by flight
that battles are gained; in order to gain them it is necessary to come
to an engagement, so much the more as duty consists in combating still
more than in conquering. Of the two opposite extremes--stoicism and
quietism--the first, taken all in all, is preferable to the second; for
if it does not always elevate man to God, it maintains, at least, human
personality, liberty, conscience, whilst quietism, in abolishing these,
abolishes the entire man. Oblivion of life and its duties, inertness,
sloth, death of soul,--such are the fruits of that love of God, which is
lost in the sterile contemplation of its object, provided it does not
cause still sadder aberrations! There comes a moment when the soul that
believes itself united with God, puffed up with this imaginary
possession, despises both the body and human personality to such an
extent that all its actions become indifferent to it, and good and evil
are in its eyes the same. Thus it is that fanatical sects have been seen
mingling crime and devotion, finding in one the excuse, often even the
motive, of the other, and prefacing infamous irregularities or
abominable cruelties with mystic transports,--deplorable consequences of
the chimera of pure love, of the pretension of sentiment to rule over
reason, to serve alone as a guide to the human soul, and to put itself
in direct communication with God, without the intermediary of the
visible world, and without the still surer intermediary of intelligence
and truth.

But it is time to pass to another kind of mysticism, more singular, more
learned, more refined, and quite as unreasonable, although it presents
itself in the very name of reason.

We have seen[76] that reason, if one of the principles which govern it
be destroyed, cannot lay hold of truth, not even absolute truths of the
intellectual and moral order; it refers all universal, necessary,
absolute truths, to the being that alone can explain them, because in
him alone are necessary and absolute existence, immutability, and
infinity. God is the substance of uncreated truths, as he is the cause
of created existences. Necessary truths find in God their natural
subject. If God has not arbitrarily made them,--which is not in
accordance with their essence and his,--he constitutes them, inasmuch as
they are himself. His intelligence possesses them as the manifestations
of itself. As long as our intelligence has not referred them to the
divine intelligence, they are to it an effect without cause, a
phenomenon without substance. It refers them, then, to their cause and
their substance. And in that it obeys an imperative need, a fixed
principle of reason.

Mysticism breaks in some sort the ladder that elevates us to infinite
substance: it regards this substance alone, independently[77] of the
truth that manifests it, and it imagines itself to possess also the
pure absolute, pure unity, being in itself. The advantage which
mysticism here seeks, is to give to thought an object wherein there is
no mixture, no division, no multiplicity, wherein every sensible and
human element has entirely disappeared. But in order to obtain this
advantage, it must pay the cost of it. It is a very simple means of
freeing theodicea from every shade of anthropomorphism; it is reducing
God to an abstraction, to the abstraction of being in itself. Being in
itself, it is true, is free from all division, but upon the condition
that it have no attribute, no quality, and even that it be deprived of
knowledge and intelligence; for intelligence, if elevated as it might
be, always supposes the distinction between the intelligent subject and
the intelligible object. A God from whom absolute unity excludes
intelligence, is the God of the mystic philosophy.

How could the school of Alexandria, how could Plotinus, its
founder,[78] in the midst of the lights of the Greek and Latin
civilization, have arrived at such a strange notion of the Divinity? By
the abuse of Platonism, by the corruption of the best and severest
method, that of Socrates and Plato.

The Platonic method, the dialectic process, as its author calls it,
searches in particular, variable, contingent things, for what they also
have general, durable, one, that is to say, their Idea, and is thus
elevated to Ideas, as to the only true objects of intelligence, in order
to be elevated still from these Ideas, which are arranged in an
admirable hierarchy, to the first of all, beyond which intelligence has
nothing more to conceive, nothing more to seek. By rejecting in finite
things their limit, their individuality, we attain genera, Ideas, and,
by them, their sovereign principle. But this principle is not the last
of genera, nor the last of abstractions; it is a real and substantial
principle.[79] The God of Plato is not called merely unity, he is called
the Good; he is not the lifeless substance of the Eleatics;[80] he is
endowed with _life and movement_;[81] strong expressions that show how
much the God of the Platonic metaphysics differs from that of mysticism.
This God is the _father of the world_.[82] He is also the father of
truth, that light of spirits.[83] He dwells in the midst of Ideas _which
make him a true God inasmuch as he is with them_.[84] He possesses
_august and holy intelligence_.[85] He has made the world without any
external necessity, and for the sole reason that he is good.[86] In
fine, he is beauty without mixture, unalterable, immortal, that makes
him who has caught a glimpse of it disdain all earthly beauties.[87] The
beautiful, the absolute good, is too dazzling to be looked on directly
by the eye of mortal; it must at first be contemplated in the images
that reveal it to us, in truth, in beauty, in justice, as they are met
here below, and among men, as the eye of one who has been a chained
captive from infancy, must be gradually habituated to the light of the
sun.[88] Our reason, enlightened by true science, can perceive this
light of spirits; reason rightly led can go to God, and there is no
need, in order to reach him, of a particular and mysterious faculty.

Plotinus erred by pushing to excess the Platonic dialectics, and by
extending them beyond the boundary where they should stop. In Plato they
terminate at ideas, at the idea of the good, and produce an intelligent
and good God; Plotinus applies them without limit, and they lead him
into an abyss of mysticism. If all truth is in the general, and if all
individuality is imperfection, it follows, that as long as we are able
to generalize, as long as it is possible for us to overlook any
difference, to exclude any determination, we shall not be at the limit
of dialectics. Its last object, then, will be a principle without any
determination. It will not spare in God being itself. In fact, if we say
that God is a being, by the side of and above being, we place unity, of
which being partakes, and which it cannot disengage, in order to
consider it alone. Being is not here simple, since it is at once being
and unity; unity alone is simple, for one cannot go beyond that. And
still when we say unity, we determine it. True absolute unity must,
then, be something absolutely indeterminate, which is not, which,
properly speaking, cannot be named, the _unnamable_, as Plotinus says.
This principle, which exists not, for a still stronger reason, cannot
think, for all thought is still a determination, a manner of being. So
being and thought are excluded from absolute unity. If Alexandrianism
admits them, it is only as a forfeiture, a degradation of unity.
Considered in thought, and in being, the supreme principle is inferior
to itself; only in the pure simplicity of its indefinable essence is it
the last object of science, and the last term of perfection.

In order to enter into communication with such a God, the ordinary
faculties are not sufficient, and the theodicea of the school of
Alexandria imposes upon it a quite peculiar psychology.

In the truth of things, reason conceives absolute unity as an attribute
of absolute being, but not as something in itself, or, if it considers
it apart, it knows that it considers only an abstraction. Does one wish
to make absolute unity something else than an attribute of an absolute
being, or an abstraction, a conception of human intelligence? Reason
could accept nothing more on any condition. Will this barren unity be
the object of love? But love, much more than reason, aspires after a
real object. One does not love substance in general, but a substance
that possesses such or such a character. In human friendships, suppress
all the qualities of a person, or modify them, and you modify or
suppress the love. This does not prove that you do not love this person;
it only proves that the person is not for you without his qualities.

So neither reason nor love can attain the absolute unity of mysticism.
In order to correspond to such an object, there must be in us something
analogous to it, there must be a mode of knowing that implies the
abolition of consciousness. In fact, consciousness is the sign of the
_me_, that is to say, of that which is most determinate: the being who
says, _me_, distinguishes himself essentially from every other; that is
for us the type itself of individuality. Consciousness should degrade
the ideal of dialectic knowledge, or every division, every determination
must be wanting, in order to respond to the absolute unity of its
object. This mode of pure and direct communication with God, which is
not reason, which is not love, which excludes consciousness, is ecstasy
([Greek: ekstasis]). This word, which Plotinus first applied to this
singular state of the soul, expresses this separation from ourselves
which mysticism exacts, and of which it believes man capable. Man, in
order to communicate with absolute being, must go out of himself. It is
necessary that thought should reject all determinate thought, and, in
falling back within its own depths, should arrive at such an oblivion of
itself, that consciousness should vanish or seem to vanish. But that is
only an image of ecstasy; what it is in itself, no one knows; as it
escapes all consciousness, it escapes memory, escapes reflection, and
consequently all expression, all human speech.

This philosophical mysticism rests upon a radically false notion of
absolute being. By dint of wishing to free God from all the conditions
of finite existence, one comes to deprive him of all the conditions of
existence itself; one has such a fear that the infinite may have
something in common with the finite, that he does not dare to recognize
that being is common to both, save difference of degree, as if all that
is not were not nothingness itself! Absolute being possesses absolute
unity without any doubt, as it possesses absolute intelligence; but,
once more, absolute unity without a real subject of inherence is
destitute of all reality. Real and determinate are synonyms. What
constitutes a being is its special nature, its essence. A being is
itself only on the condition of not being another; it cannot but have
characteristic traits. All that is, is such or such. Difference is an
element as essential to being as unity itself. If, then, reality is in
determination, it follows that God is the most determinate of beings.
Aristotle is much more Platonic than Plotinus, when he says that God is
the thought of thought,[89] that he is not a simple power, but a power
effectively acting, meaning thereby that God to be perfect, ought to
have nothing in himself that is not completed. To finite nature it
belongs to be, in a certain sense, indeterminate, since being finite, it
has always in itself powers that are not realized; this indetermination
diminishes as these powers are realized. So true divine unity is not
abstract unity, it is the precise unity of perfect being in which every
thing is accomplished. At the summit of existence, still more than at
its low degree, every thing is determinate, every thing is developed,
every thing is distinct, every thing is one. The richness of
determinations is a certain sign of the plenitude of being. Reflection
distinguishes these determinations from each other, but it is not
necessary that it should in these distinctions see the limits. In us,
for example, does the diversity of our faculties and their richest
development divide the _me_ and alter the identity and the unity of the
person? Does each one of us believe himself less than himself, because
he possesses sensibility, reason, and will? No, surely. It is the same
with God. Not having employed a sufficient psychology, Alexandrian
mysticism imagined that diversity of attributes is incompatible with
simplicity of essence, and through fear of corrupting simple and pure
essence, it made of it an abstraction. By a senseless scruple, it feared
that God would not be sufficiently perfect, if it left him all his
perfections; it regards them as imperfections, being as a degradation,
creation as a fall; and, in order to explain man and the universe, it is
forced to put in God what it calls failings, not having seen that these
pretended failings are the very signs of his infinite perfection.

The theory of ecstasy is at once the necessary condition and the
condemnation of the theory of absolute unity. Without absolute unity as
the direct object of knowledge, of what use is ecstasy in the subject of
knowledge? Ecstasy, far from elevating man to God, abases him below man;
for it effaces in him thought, by taking away its condition, which is
consciousness. To suppress consciousness, is to render all knowledge
impossible; it is not to comprehend the perfection of this mode of
knowing, wherein the limitation of subject and object gives at once the
simplest, most immediate, and most determinate knowledge.[90]

The Alexandrian mysticism is the most learned and the profoundest of all
known mysticisms. In the heights of abstraction where it loses itself,
it seems very far from popular superstitions; and yet the school of
Alexandria unites ecstatic contemplation and theurgy. These are two
things, in appearance, incompatible, but they pertain to the same
principle, to the pretension of directly perceiving what inevitably
escapes all our efforts. On the one hand, a refined mysticism aspires to
God by ecstasy; on the other, a gross mysticism thinks to seize him by
the senses. The processes, the faculties employed, differ, but the
foundation is the same, and from this common foundation necessarily
spring the most opposite extravagances. Apollonius of Tyanus is a
popular Alexandrianist, and Jamblicus is Plotinus become a priest,
mystagogue, and hierophant. A new worship shone forth by miracles; the
ancient worship would have its own miracles, and philosophers boasted
that they could make the divinity appear before other men. They had
demons for themselves, and, in some sort, for their own orders; the gods
were not only invoked, but evoked. Ecstasy for the initiates, theurgy
for the crowd.

At all times and in all places, these two mysticisms have given each
other the hand. In India and in China, the schools where the most
subtile idealism is taught, are not far from pagodas of the most abject
idolatry. One day the Bhagavad-Gita or Lao-tseu[91] is read, an
indefinable God is taught, without essential and determinate attributes;
the next day there is shown to the people such or such a form, such or
such a manifestation of this God, who, not having a form that belongs to
him, can receive all forms, and being only substance in itself, is
necessarily the substance of every thing, of a stone and a drop of
water, of a dog, a hero, and a sage. So, in the ancient world under
Julien, for example, the same man was at once professor in the school of
Athens and guardian of the temple of Minerva or Cybele, by turns
obscuring the _Timæus_ and the _Republic_ by subtile commentaries, and
exhibiting to the eyes of the multitude sometimes the sacred vale,[92]
sometimes the shrine of the good goddess,[93] and in either function, as
priest or philosopher, imposing on others and himself, under taking to
ascend above the human mind and falling miserably below it, paying in
some sort the penalty of an unintelligible metaphysics, in lending
himself to the most shameless superstitions.

When the Christian religion triumphed, it brought humanity under a
discipline that puts a rein upon this deplorable mysticism. But how many
times has it brought back, under the reign of spiritual religion, all
the extravagances of the religions of nature! It was to appear
especially at the _renaissance_ of the schools and of the genius of
Paganism in the sixteenth century, when the human mind had broken with
the philosophy of the Middle Age, without yet having arrived at modern
philosophy.[94] The Paracelsuses and the Von Helmonts renewed the
Apolloniuses and the Jamblicuses, abusing some chemical and medical
knowledge, as the former had abused the Socratic and Platonic method,
altered in its character, and turned from its true object. And so, in
the midst of the eighteenth century, has not Swedenborg united in his
own person an exalted mysticism and a sort of magic, opening thus the
way to those senseless[95] persons who contest with me in the morning
the solidest and best-established proofs of the existence of the soul
and God, and propose to me in the evening to make me see otherwise than
with my eyes, and to make me hear otherwise than with my ears, to make
me use all my faculties otherwise than by their natural organs,
promising me a superhuman science, on the condition of first losing
consciousness, thought, liberty, memory, all that constitutes me an
intelligent and moral being. I should know all, then, but at the cost of
knowing nothing that I should know. I should elevate myself to a
marvellous world, which, awakened and in a natural state, I am not even
able to suspect, of which no remembrance will remain to me:--a mysticism
at once gross and chimerical, which perverts both psychology and
physiology; an imbecile ecstasy, renewed without genius from the
Alexandrine ecstasy; an extravagance which has not even the merit of a
little novelty, and which history has seen reappearing at all epochs of
ambition and impotence.

This is what we come to when we wish to go beyond the conditions imposed
upon human nature. Charron first said, and after him Pascal repeated
it, that whoever would become an angel becomes a beast. The remedy for
all these follies is a severe theory of reason, of what it can and what
it cannot do; of reason enveloped first in the exercise of the senses,
than elevating itself to universal and necessary ideas, referring them
to their principle, to a being infinite and at the same time real and
substantial, whose existence it conceives, but whose nature it is always
interdicted to penetrate and comprehend. Sentiment accompanies and
vivifies the sublime intuitions of reason, but we must not confound
these two orders of facts, much less smother reason in sentiment.
Between a finite being like man and God, absolute and infinite
substance, there is the double intermediary of that magnificent universe
open to our gaze, and of those marvellous truths which reason conceives,
but has not made more than the eye makes the beauties it perceives. The
only means that is given us of elevating ourselves to the Being of
beings, without being dazzled and bewildered, is to approach him by the
aid of a divine intermediary; that is to say, to consecrate ourselves to
the study and the love of truth, and, as we shall soon see, to the
contemplation and reproduction of the beautiful, especially to the
practice of the good.


[71] See the preceding lectures.

[72] See the _Phædrus_ and the _Banquet_, vol. vii. of our translation.

[73] We shall not be accused of perverting the holy Scriptures by these
analogies, for we give them only as analogies, and St. Augustine and
Bossuet are full of such.

[74] See part ii., _The Beautiful_, lecture 6, and part iii., lecture
13, on the _Morals of Sentiment_. See also our _Pascal_, preface of the
last edition, p. 8, etc., vol. i. of the 4th Series.

[75] See the admirable work of Bossuet, _Instruction sur les états

[76] Lecture 4.

[77] See especially in our writings the regular and detailed refutation
of the double extravagance of considering substance apart from its
determinations and its qualities, or of considering its qualities and
its facilities apart from the being that possesses them. 1st Series,
vol. iii., lecture 3, _On Condillac_, and vol. v., lectures 5 and 6, _On
Kant_. We say, the same Series, vol. iv., p. 56: "There are philosophers
beyond the Rhine, who, to appear very profound, are not contented with
qualities and phenomena, and aspire to pure substance, to being in
itself. The problem stated as follows, is quite insoluble: the knowledge
of such a substance is impossible, for this very simple reason, that
such a substance does not exist. Being in itself, _das Ding in sich_,
which Kant seeks, escapes him, and this does not humiliate Kant and
philosophy; for there is no being in itself. The human mind may form to
itself an abstract and general idea of being, but this idea has no real
object in nature. All being is determinate, if it is real; and to be
determinate is to possess certain modes of being, transitory and
accidental, or constant and essential. Knowledge of being in itself is
then not merely interdicted to the human mind; it is contrary to the
nature of things. At the other extreme of metaphysics is a powerless
psychology, which, by fear of a hollow ontology, is condemned to
voluntary ignorance. We are not able, say these philosophers, Mr. Dugald
Stewart, for example, to attain being in itself; it is permitted us to
know only phenomena and qualities: so that, in order not to wander in
search of the substance of the soul, they do not dare affirm its
spirituality, and devote themselves to the study of its different
faculties. Equal error, equal chimera! There are no more qualities
without being, than being without qualities. No being is without its
determinations, and reciprocally its determinations are not without it.
To consider the determinations of being independently of the being which
possesses them, is no longer to observe; it is to abstract, to make an
abstraction quite as extravagant as that of being considered
independently of its qualities."

[78] On the school of Alexandria, see 2d Series, vol. ii., _Sketch of a
General History of Philosophy_, lecture 8, p. 211, and 3d Series, vol.
i., _passim_.

[79] See the previous lecture.

[80] 3d Series, vol. i., _Ancient Philosophy_, article _Xenophanes_, and
article _Zeno_.

[81] _The Sophist_, vol. xi. of our translation, p. 261.

[82] _Timæus_, vol. xii., p. 117.

[83] _Republic_, book vii., p. 70 of vol. x.

[84] _Phædrus_, vol. vi., p. 55.

[85] _The Sophist_, p. 261, 262. The following little-known and decisive
passage, which we have translated for the first time, must be
cited:--"_Stranger._ But what, by Zeus! shall we be so easily persuaded
that in reality, motion, life, soul, intelligence, do not belong to
absolute being? that this being neither lives nor thinks, that this
being remains immobile, immutable, without having part in august and
holy intelligence?--_Theatetus._ That would be consenting, dear Eleatus,
to a very strange assertion.--_Stranger._ Or, indeed, shall we accord to
this being intelligence while we refuse him life?--_Theatetus._ That
cannot be.--_Stranger._ Or, again, shall we say that there is in him
intelligence and life, but that it is not in a soul that he possesses
them?--_Theatetus._ And how could he possess them otherwise?--_Stranger._
In fine, that, endowed with intelligence, soul, and life, all animated
as he is, he remains incomplete immobility.--_Theatetus._ All that seems
to me unreasonable."

[86] _Timæus_, p. 119: "Let us say that the cause which led the supreme
ordainer to produce and compose this universe was, that he was good."

[87] _Bouquet_, discourse of Diotimus, vol. vi., and the 2d part of this
vol., _The Beautiful_, lecture 7.

[88] _Republic._ _Ibid._

[89] Book xii. of the _Metaphysics_. _De la Métaphysique d'Aristotle_,
2d edition, p. 200, etc.

[90] On this fundamental point, see lecture 3, in this vol.--2d Series,
vol. i., lecture 5, p. 97. "The peculiarity of intelligence is not the
power of knowing, but knowing in fact. On what condition is there
intelligence for us? It is not enough that there should be in us a
principle of intelligence; this principle must be developed and
exercised, and take itself as the object of its intelligence. The
necessary condition of intelligence is consciousness--that is to say,
difference. There can be consciousness only where there are several
terms, one of which perceives the other, and at the same time perceives
itself. That is knowing, and knowing self; that is intelligence.
Intelligence without consciousness is the abstract possibility of
intelligence, it is not real intelligence. Transfer this from human
intelligence to divine intelligence, that is to say, refer ideas, I mean
ideas in the sense of Plato, of St. Augustine, of Bossuet, of Leibnitz,
to the only intelligence to which they can belong, and you will have, if
I may thus express myself, the life of the divine intelligence ...,

[91] Vol. ii. of the 2d Series, _Sketch of a General History of
Philosophy_, lectures 5 and 6, _On the Indian Philosophy_.

[92] See the _Euthyphron_, vol. i. of our translation.

[93] Lucien, Apuleius, Lucius of Patras.

[94] 2d Series, vol. ii., _Sketch of a General History of Philosophy_,
lecture 10, _On the Philosophy of the Renaissance_.

[95] One was then ardently occupied with magnetism, and more than a
magnetizer, half a materialist, half a visionary, pretended to convert
us to a system of perfect clairvoyance of soul, obtained by means of
artificial sleep. Alas! the same follies are now renewed. Conjunctions
are the fashion. Spirits are interrogated, and they respond! Only let
there be consciousness that one does not interrogate, and superstition
alone counterpoises skepticism.





    The method that must govern researches on the beautiful and art
    is, as in the investigation of the true, to commence by
    psychology.--Faculties of the soul that unite in the perception
    of the beautiful.--The senses give only the agreeable; reason
    alone gives the idea of the beautiful.--Refutation of
    empiricism, that confounds the agreeable and the
    beautiful.--Pre-eminence of reason.--Sentiment of the beautiful;
    different from sensation and desire.--Distinction between the
    sentiment of the beautiful and that of the
    sublime.--Imagination.--Influence of sentiment on
    imagination.--Influence of imagination on sentiment.--Theory of

Let us recall in a few words the results at which we have arrived.

Two exclusive schools are opposed to each other in the eighteenth
century; we have combated both, and each by the other. To empiricism we
have opposed the insufficiency of sensation, and its own inevitable
necessity to idealism. We have admitted, with Locke and Condillac, in
regard to the origin of knowledge, particular and contingent ideas,
which we owe to the senses and consciousness; and above the senses and
consciousness, the direct sources of all particular ideas, we have
recognized, with Reid and Kant, a special faculty, different from
sensation and consciousness, but developed with them,--reason, the lofty
source of universal and necessary truths. We have established, against
Kant, the absolute authority of reason, and the truths which it
discovers. Then, the truths that reason revealed to us have themselves
revealed to us their eternal principle,--God. Finally, this rational
spiritualism, which is both the faith of the human race and the doctrine
of the greatest minds of antiquity and modern times, we have carefully
distinguished from a chimerical and dangerous mysticism. Thus the
necessity of experience and the necessity of reason, the necessity of a
real and infinite being which is the first and last foundation of truth,
a severe distinction between spiritualism and mysticism, are the great
principles which we have been able to gather from the first part of this

The second part, the study of the beautiful, will give us the same
results elucidated and aggrandized by a new application.

It was the eighteenth century that introduced, or rather brought back
into philosophy, investigations on the beautiful and art, so familiar to
Plato and Aristotle, but which scholasticism had not entertained, to
which our great philosophy of the seventeenth century had remained
almost a stranger.[96] One comprehends that it did not belong to the
empirical school to revive this noble part of philosophic science. Locke
and Condillac did not leave a chapter, not even a single page, on the
beautiful. Their followers treated beauty with the same disdain; not
knowing very well how to explain it in their system, they found it more
convenient not to perceive it at all. Diderot, it is true, had an
enthusiasm for beauty and art, but enthusiasm was never so ill placed.
Diderot had genius; but, as Voltaire said of him, his was a head in
which every thing fermented without coming to maturity. He scattered
here and there a mass of ingenious and often contradictory perceptions;
he has no principles; he abandons himself to the impression of the
moment; he knows not what the ideal is; he delights in a kind of nature,
at once common and mannered, such as one might expect from the author
of the _Interprétation de la Nature_, the _Père de Famille_, the _Neveu
de Rameau_, and _Jacques le Fataliste_. Diderot is a fatalist in art as
well as in philosophy; he belongs to his times and his school, with a
grain of poetry, sensibility, and imagination.[97] It was worthy of the
Scotch[98] school and Kant[99] to give a place to the beautiful in their
doctrine. They considered it in the soul and in nature; but they did not
even touch the difficult question of the reproduction of the beautiful
by the genius of man. We will try to embrace this great subject in its
whole extent, and we are about to offer at least a sketch of a regular
and complete theory of beauty and art.

Let us begin by establishing well the method that must preside over
these investigations.

One can study the beautiful in two ways:--either out of us, in itself
and in the objects, whatever they may be, that bear its impress; or in
the mind of man, in the faculties that attain it, in the ideas or
sentiments that it excites in us. Now, the true method, which must now
be familiar to you, makes setting out from man to arrive at things a law
for us. Therefore psychological analysis will here again be our point of
departure, and the study of the state of the soul in presence of the
beautiful will prepare us for that of the beautiful considered in itself
and its objects.

Let us interrogate the soul in the presence of beauty.

Is it not an incontestable fact that before certain objects, under very
different circumstances, we pronounce the following judgment:--This
object is beautiful? This affirmation is not always explicit. Sometimes
it manifests itself only by a cry of admiration; sometimes it silently
rises in the mind that scarcely has a consciousness of it. The forms of
this phenomenon vary, but the phenomenon is attested by the most common
and most certain observation, and all languages bear witness of it.

Although sensible objects, with most men, oftenest provoke the judgment
of the beautiful, they do not alone possess this advantage; the domain
of beauty is more extensive than the domain of the physical world
exposed to our view; it has no bounds but those of entire nature, and of
the soul and genius of man. Before an heroic action, by the remembrance
of a great sacrifice; even by the thought of the most abstract truths
firmly united with each other in a system admirable at once for its
simplicity and its productiveness; finally, before objects of another
order, before the works of art, this same phenomenon is produced in us.
We recognize in all these objects, however different, a common quality
in regard to which our judgment is pronounced, and this quality we call

The philosophy of sensation, in faithfulness to itself, should have
attempted to reduce the beautiful to the agreeable.

Without doubt, beauty is almost always agreeable to the senses, or at
least it must not wound them. Most of our ideas of the beautiful come to
us by sight and hearing, and all the arts, without exception, are
addressed to the soul through the body. An object which makes us suffer,
were it the most beautiful in the world, very rarely appears to us such.
Beauty has little influence over a soul occupied with grief.

But if an agreeable sensation often accompanies the idea of the
beautiful, we must not conclude that one is the other.

Experience testifies that all agreeable things do not appear beautiful,
and that, among agreeable things, those which are most so are not the
most beautiful,--a sure sign that the agreeable is not the beautiful;
for if one is identical with the other, they should never be separated,
but should always be commensurate with each other.

Far from this, whilst all our senses give us agreeable sensations, only
two have the privilege of awakening in us the idea of beauty. Does one
ever say: This is a beautiful taste, this is a beautiful smell?
Nevertheless, one should say it, if the beautiful is the agreeable. On
the other hand, there are certain pleasures of odor and taste that move
sensibility more than the greatest beauties of nature and art; and even
among the perceptions of hearing and sight, those are not always the
most vivid that most excite in us the idea of beauty. Do not pictures,
ordinary in coloring, often move us more deeply than many dazzling
productions, more seductive to the eye, less touching to the soul? I say
farther; sensation not only does not produce the idea of the beautiful,
but sometimes stifles it. Let an artist occupy himself with the
reproduction of voluptuous forms; while pleasing the senses, he
disturbs, he repels in us the chaste and pure idea of beauty. The
agreeable is not, then, the measure of the beautiful, since in certain
cases it effaces it and makes us forget it; it is not, then, the
beautiful, since it is found, and in the highest degree, where the
beautiful is not.

This conducts us to the essential foundation of the distinction between
the idea of the beautiful and the sensation of the agreeable, to wit,
the difference already explained between sensibility and reason.

When an object makes you experience an agreeable sensation, if one asks
you why this object is agreeable to you, you can answer nothing, except
that such is your impression; and if one informs you that this same
object produces upon others a different impression and displeases them,
you are not much astonished, because you know that sensibility is
diverse, and that sensations must not be disputed. Is it the same when
an object is not only agreeable to you, but when you judge that it is
beautiful? You pronounce, for example, that this figure is noble and
beautiful, that this sunrise or sunset is beautiful, that
disinterestedness and devotion are beautiful, that virtue is beautiful;
if one contests with you the truth of these judgments, then you are not
as accommodating as you were just now; you do not accept the dissent as
an inevitable effect of different sensibilities, you no longer appeal to
your sensibility which naturally terminates in you, you appeal to an
authority which is made for others as well as you, that of reason; you
believe that you have the right of accusing him with error who
contradicts your judgment, for here your judgment rests no longer on
something variable and individual, like an agreeable or painful
sensation. The agreeable is confined for us within the inclosure of our
own organization, where it changes every moment, according to the
perpetual revolutions of this organization, according to health and
sickness, the state of the atmosphere, that of our nerves, etc. But it
is not so with beauty; beauty, like truth, belongs to none of us; no one
has the right to dispose of it arbitrarily, and when we say: this is
true, this is beautiful, it is no longer the particular and variable
impression of our sensibility that we express, it is the absolute
judgment that reason imposes on all men.

Confound reason and sensibility, reduce the idea of the beautiful to the
sensation of the agreeable, and taste no longer has a law. If a person
says to me, in the presence of the Apollo Belvidere, that he feels
nothing more agreeable than in presence of any other statue, that it
does not please him at all, that he does not feel its beauty, I cannot
dispute his impression; but if this person thence concludes that the
Apollo is not beautiful, I proudly contradict him, and declare that he
is deceived. Good taste is distinguished from bad taste; but what does
this distinction signify, if the judgment of the beautiful is resolved
into a sensation? You say to me that I have no taste. What does that
mean? Have I not senses like you? Does not the object which you admire
act upon me as well as upon you? Is not the impression which I feel as
real as that which you feel? Whence comes it, then, that you are
right,--you who only give expression to the impression which you feel,
and that I am wrong,--I who do precisely the same thing? Is it because
those who feel like you are more numerous than those who feel like me?
But here the number of voices means nothing? The beautiful being defined
as that which produces on the senses an agreeable impression, a thing
that pleases a single man, though it were frightfully ugly in the eyes
of all the rest of the human race, must, nevertheless, and very
legitimately, be called beautiful by him who receives from it an
agreeable impression, for, so far as he is concerned, it satisfies the
definition. There is, then, no true beauty; there are only relative and
changing beauties, beauties of circumstance, custom, fashion, and all
these beauties, however different, will have a right to the same
respect, provided they meet sensibilities to which they are agreeable.
And as there is nothing in this world, in the infinite diversity of our
dispositions, which may not please some one, there will be nothing that
is not beautiful; or, to speak more truly, there will be nothing either
beautiful or ugly, and the Hottentot Venus will equal the Venus de
Medici. The absurdity of the consequences demonstrates the absurdity of
the principle. But there is only one means of escaping these
consequences, which is to repudiate the principle, and recognize the
judgment of the beautiful as an absolute judgment, and, as such,
entirely different from sensation.

Finally, and this is the last rock of empiricism, is there in us only
the idea of an imperfect and finite beauty, and while we are admiring
the real beauties that nature furnishes, are we not elevating ourselves
to the idea of a superior beauty, which Plato, with great excellence of
expression, calls the Idea of the beautiful, which, after him, all men
of delicate taste, all true artists call the Ideal? If we establish
decrees in the beauty of things, is it not because we compare them,
often without noticing it, with this ideal, which is to us the measure
and rule of all our judgments in regard to particular beauties? How
could this idea of absolute beauty enveloped in all our judgments on the
beautiful,--how could this ideal beauty, which it is impossible for us
not to conceive, be revealed to us by sensation, by a faculty variable
and relative like the objects that it perceives?

The philosophy which deduces all our ideas from the senses falls to the
ground, then, before the idea of the beautiful. It remains to see
whether this idea can be better explained by means of sentiment, which
is different from sensation, which so nearly resembles reason that good
judges have often taken it for reason, and have made it the principle of
the idea of the beautiful as well as that of the good. It is already a
progress, without doubt, to go from sensation to sentiment, and
Hutcheson and Smith[100] are in our eyes very different philosophers
from Condillac and Helvetius;[101] but we believe that we have
sufficiently established[102] that, in confounding sentiment with
reason, we deprive it of its foundation and rule, that sentiment,
particular and variable in its nature, different to different men, and
in each man continually changing, cannot be sufficient for itself.
Nevertheless, if sentiment is not a principle, it is a true and
important fact, and, after having distinguished it well from reason, we
ourselves proceed to elevate it far above sensation, and elucidate the
important part it plays in the perception of beauty.

Place yourself before an object of nature, wherein men recognize beauty,
and observe what takes place within you at the sight of this object. Is
it not certain that, at the same time that you judge that it is
beautiful, you also feel its beauty, that is to say, that you experience
at the sight of it a delightful emotion, and that you are attracted
towards this object by a sentiment of sympathy and love? In other cases
you judge otherwise, and feel an opposite sentiment. Aversion
accompanies the judgment of the ugly, as love accompanies the judgment
of the beautiful. And this sentiment is awakened not only in presence of
the objects of nature: all objects, whatever they may be, that we judge
to be ugly or beautiful, have the power to excite in us this sentiment.
Vary the circumstances as much as you please, place me before an
admirable edifice or before a beautiful landscape; represent to my mind
the great discoveries of Descartes and Newton, the exploits of the
great Condé, the virtue of St. Vincent de Paul; elevate me still higher;
awaken in me the obscure and too much forgotten idea of the infinite
being; whatever you do, as often as you give birth within me to the idea
of the beautiful, you give me an internal and exquisite joy, always
followed by a sentiment of love for the object that caused it.

The more beautiful the object is, the more lively is the joy which it
gives the soul, and the more profound is the love without being
passionate. In admiration judgment rules, but animated by sentiment. Is
admiration increased to the degree of impressing upon the soul an
emotion, an ardor that seems to exceed the limits of human nature? this
state of the soul is called enthusiasm:

    "Est Deus in nobis, agitante calescimus illo."

The philosophy of sensation explains sentiment, as well as the idea of
the beautiful, only by changing its nature. It confounds it with
agreeable sensation, and, consequently, for it the love of beauty can be
nothing but desire. There is no theory more contradicted by facts.

What is desire? It is an emotion of the soul which has, for its avowed
or secret end, possession. Admiration is in its nature respectful,
whilst desire tends to profane its object.

Desire is the offspring of need. It supposes, then, in him who
experiences it, a want, a defect, and, to a certain point, suffering.
The sentiment of the beautiful is to itself its own satisfaction.

Desire is burning, impetuous, sad. The sentiment of the beautiful, free
from all desire, and always without fear, elevates and warms the soul,
and may transport it even to enthusiasm, without making it know the
troubles of passion. The artist sees only the beautiful where the
sensual man sees only the alluring and the frightful. On a vessel tossed
by a tempest, while the passengers tremble at the sight of the
threatening waves, and at the sound of the thunder that breaks over
their heads, the artist remains absorbed in the contemplation of the
sublime spectacle. Vernet has himself lashed to the mast in order to
contemplate for a longer time the storm in its majestic and terrible
beauty. When he knows fear, when he participates in the common feeling,
the artist vanishes, there no more remains any thing but the man.

The sentiment of the beautiful is so far from being desire, that each
excludes the other. Let me take a common example. Before a table loaded
with meats and delicious wines, the desire of enjoyment is awakened, but
not the sentiment of the beautiful. Suppose that if, instead of thinking
of the pleasures which all these things spread before my eyes promise
me, I only take notice of the manner in which they are arranged and set
upon the table, and the order of the feast, the sentiment of the
beautiful might in some degree be produced; but surely this will be
neither the need nor the desire of appropriating this symmetry, this

It is the property of beauty not to irritate and inflame desire, but to
purify and ennoble it. The more beautiful a woman is,--I do not mean
that common and gross beauty which Reubens in vain animates with his
brilliant coloring, but that ideal beauty which antiquity and Raphael
understood so well,--the more, at the sight of this noble creature is
desire tempered by an exquisite and delicate sentiment, and is sometimes
even replaced by a disinterested worship. If the Venus of the Capitol,
or the Saint Cecilia, excites in you sensual desires, you are not made
to feel the beautiful. So the true artist addresses himself less to the
senses than to the soul; in painting beauty he only seeks to awaken in
us sentiment; and when he has carried this sentiment as far as
enthusiasm, he has obtained the last triumph of art.

The sentiment of the beautiful is, therefore, a special sentiment, as
the idea of the beautiful is a simple idea. But is this sentiment, one
in itself, manifested only in a single way, and applied only to a single
kind of beauty? Here again--here, as always--let us interrogate

When we have before our eyes an object whose forms are perfectly
determined, and the whole easy to embrace,--a beautiful flower, a
beautiful statue, an antique temple of moderate size,--each of our
faculties attaches itself to this object, and rests upon it with an
unalloyed satisfaction. Our senses easily perceive its details; our
reason seizes the happy harmony of all its parts. Should this object
disappear, we can distinctly represent it to ourselves, so precise and
fixed are its forms. The soul in this contemplation feels again a sweet
and tranquil joy, a sort of efflorescence.

Let us consider, on the other hand, an object with vague and indefinite
forms, which may nevertheless be very beautiful: the impression which we
experience is without doubt a pleasure still, but it is a pleasure of a
different order. This object does not call forth all our powers like the
first. Reason conceives it, but the senses do not perceive the whole of
it, and imagination does not distinctly represent it to itself. The
senses and the imagination try in vain to attain its last limits; our
faculties are enlarged, are inflated, thus to speak, in order to embrace
it, but it escapes and surpasses them. The pleasure that we feel comes
from the very magnitude of the object; but, at the same time, this
magnitude produces in us I know not what melancholy sentiment, because
it is disproportionate to us. At the sight of the starry heavens, of the
vast sea, of gigantic mountains, admiration is mingled with sadness.
These objects, in reality finite, like the world itself, seem to us
infinite, in our want of power to comprehend their immensity, and,
resembling what is truly without bounds, they awaken in us the idea of
the infinite, that idea which at once elevates and confounds our
intelligence. The corresponding sentiment which the soul experiences is
an austere pleasure.

In order to render the difference which we wish to mark more
perceptible, examples may be multiplied. Are you affected in the same
way at the sight of a meadow, variegated in its rather limited
dimensions, whose extent the eye can easily take in, and at the aspect
of an inaccessible mountain, at the foot of which the ocean breaks? Do
the sweet light of day and a melodious voice produce upon you the same
effect as darkness and silence? In the intellectual and moral order, are
you moved in the same way when a rich and good man opens his purse to
the indigent, and when a magnanimous man gives hospitality to his enemy,
and saves him at the peril of his own life? Take some light poetry in
which measure, spirit, and grace, everywhere predominate; take an ode,
and especially an epistle of Horace, or some small verses of Voltaire,
and compare them with the Iliad, or those immense Indian poems that are
filled with marvellous events, wherein the highest metaphysics are
united to recitals by turns graceful or pathetic, those poems that have
more than two hundred thousand verses, whose personages are gods or
symbolic beings; and see whether the impressions that you experience
will be the same. As a last example, suppose, on the one hand, a writer
who, with two or three strokes of the pen, sketches an analysis of
intelligence, agreeable and simple, but without depth, and, on the
other, a philosopher who engages in a long labor in order to arrive at
the most rigorous decomposition of the faculty of knowing, and unfolds
to you a long chain of principles and consequences,--read the _Traité
des Sensations_ and _the Critique of Pure Reason_, and, even leaving out
of the account the truth and the falsehood they may contain, with
reference solely to the beautiful, compare your impressions.

These are, then, two very different sentiments; different names have
also been given them: one has been more particularly called the
sentiment of the beautiful, the other that of the sublime.

In order to complete the study of the different faculties that enter
into the perception of beauty, after reason and sentiment, it remains to
us to speak of a faculty not less necessary, which animates them and
vivifies them,--imagination.

When sensation, judgment, and sentiment have been produced by the
occasion of an external object, they are reproduced even in the absence
of this object; this is memory.

Memory is double:--not only do I remember that I have been in the
presence of a certain object, but I represent to myself this absent
object as it was, as I have seen, felt, and judged it:--the remembrance
is then an image. In this last case, memory has been called by some
philosophers imaginative memory. Such is the foundation of imagination;
but imagination is something more still.

The mind, applying itself to the images furnished by memory, decomposes
them, chooses between their different traits, and forms of them new
images. Without this new power, imagination would be captive in the
circle of memory.

The gift of being strongly affected by objects and reproducing their
absent or vanished images, and the power of modifying these images so as
to compose of them new ones,--do they fully constitute what men call
imagination? No, or at least, if these are indeed the proper elements of
imagination, there must be something else added, to wit, the sentiment
of the beautiful in all its degrees. By this means is a great
imagination preserved and kindled. Did the careful reading of Titus
Livius enable the author of the _Horaces_ to vividly represent to
himself some of the scenes described, to seize their principal traits
and combine them happily? From the outset, sentiment, love of the
beautiful, especially of the morally beautiful, were requisite; there
was required that great heart whence sprang the word of the ancient

Let us be well understood. We do not say that sentiment is imagination,
we say that it is the source whence imagination derives its inspirations
and becomes productive. If men are so different in regard to
imagination, it is because some are cold in presence of objects, cold in
the representations which they preserve of them, cold also in the
combinations which they form of them, whilst others, endowed with a
particular sensibility, are vividly moved by the first impressions of
objects, preserve strong recollections of them, and carry into the
exercise of all their faculties this same force of emotion. Take away
sentiment and all else is inanimate; let it manifest itself, and every
thing receives warmth, color, and life.

It is then impossible to limit imagination, as the word seems to demand,
to images properly so called, and to ideas that are related to physical
objects. To remember sounds, to choose between them, to combine them in
order to draw from them new effects,--does not this belong to
imagination, although sound is not an image? The true musician does not
possess less imagination than the painter. Imagination is conceded to
the poet when he retraces the images of nature; will this same faculty
be refused him when he retraces sentiments? But, besides images and
sentiments, does not the poet employ the high thoughts of justice,
liberty, virtue, in a word, moral ideas? Will it be said that in moral
paintings, in pictures of the intimate life of the soul, either graceful
or energetic, there is no imagination?

You see what is the extent of imagination: it has no limits, it is
applied to all things. Its distinctive character is that of deeply
moving the soul in the presence of a beautiful object, or by its
remembrance alone, or even by the idea alone of an imaginary object. It
is recognized by the sign that it produces, by the aid of its
representations, the same impression as, and even an impression more
vivid than, nature by the aid of real objects. If beauty, absent and
dreamed of, does not affect you as much as, and more than, present
beauty, you may have a thousand other gifts,--that of imagination has
been refused you.

In the eyes of imagination, the real world languishes in comparison with
its own fictions. One may feel that imagination is his master by the
_ennui_ that real and present things give him. The phantoms of imagination
have a vagueness, an indefiniteness of form, which moves a thousand
times more than the clearness and distinctness of actual perceptions.
And then, unless we are wholly mad,--and passion does not always render
this service,--it is very difficult to see reality otherwise than as it
is not, that is to say, very imperfectly. On the other hand, one makes
of an image what he wishes, unconsciously metamorphoses it, embellishes
it to his own liking. There is at the bottom of the human soul an
infinite power of feeling and loving to which the entire world does not
answer, still less a single one of its creatures, however charming. All
mortal beauty, viewed near by, does not suffice for this insatiable
power which it excites and cannot satisfy. But from afar, its effects
disappear or are diminished, shades are mingled and confounded in the
clear-obscure of memory and dream, and the objects please more because
they are less determinate. The peculiarity of men of imagination is,
that they represent men and things otherwise than as they are, and that
they have a passion for such fantastic images. Those that are called
positive men, are men without imagination, who perceive only what they
see, and deal with reality as it is instead of transforming it. They
have, in general, more reason than sentiment; they may be seriously,
profoundly honest; they will never be either poets or artists. What
makes the poet or artist is, with a foundation of good sense and
reason--without which all the rest is useless--a sensitive, even a
passionate heart; above all, a vivid, a powerful imagination.

If sentiment acts upon imagination, we see that imagination returns with
usury to sentiment what it gives.

This pure and ardent passion, this worship of beauty that makes the
great artist, can be found only in a man of imagination. In fact, the
sentiment of the beautiful may be awakened in each one of us before any
beautiful object; but, when this object has disappeared, if its image
does not subsist vivaciously retraced, the sentiment which it for a
moment excited is little by little effaced; it may be revived at the
sight of another object, but only to be extinguished again,--always
dying to be born again at hazard; not being nourished, increased,
exalted by the vivacious and continuous reproduction of its object in
the imagination, it wants that inspiring power, without which there is
no artist, no poet.

A word more on another faculty, which is not a simple faculty, but a
happy combination of those which have just been mentioned,--taste, so
ill treated, so arbitrarily limited in all theories.

If, after having heard a beautiful poetical or musical work, admired a
statue or a picture, you are able to recall what your senses have
perceived, to see again the absent picture, to hear again the sounds
that no longer exist; in a word, if you have imagination, you possess
one of the conditions without which there is no true taste. In fact, in
order to relish the works of imagination, is it not necessary to have
taste? Do we not need, in order to feel an author, not to equal him,
without doubt, but to resemble him in some degree? Will not a man of
sensible, but dry and austere mind, like Le Batteux or Condillac, be
insensible to the happy darings of genius, and will he not carry into
criticism a narrow severity, a reason very little reasonable--since he
does not comprehend all the parts of human nature,--an intolerance that
mutilates and blemishes art while thinking to purify it?

On the other hand, imagination does not suffice for the appreciation of
beauty. Moreover, that vivacity of imagination so precious to taste,
when it is somewhat restrained, produces, when it rules, only a very
imperfect taste, which, not having reason for a basis, carelessly
judges, runs the risk of misunderstanding the greatest beauty,--beauty
that is regulated. Unity in composition, harmony of all the parts, just
proportion of details, skilful combination of effects, discrimination,
sobriety, measure, are so many merits it will little feel, and will not
put in their place. Imagination has doubtless much to do with works of
art; but, in fine, it is not every thing. Is it only imagination that
makes the _Polyeucte_ and the _Misanthrope_, two incomparable marvels?
Is there not, also, in the profound simplicity of plan, in the measured
development of action, in the sustained truth of characters, a superior
reason, different from imagination which furnishes the superior colors,
and from sensibility that gives the passion?

Besides imagination and reason, the man of taste ought to possess an
enlightened but ardent love of beauty; he must take delight in meeting
it, must search for it, must summon it. To comprehend and demonstrate
that a thing is not beautiful, is an ordinary pleasure, an ungrateful
task; but to discern a beautiful thing, to be penetrated with its
beauty, to make it evident, and make others participate in our
sentiment, is an exquisite joy, a generous task. Admiration is, for him
who feels it, at once a happiness and an honor. It is a happiness to
feel deeply what is beautiful; it is an honor to know how to recognize
it. Admiration is the sign of an elevated reason served by a noble
heart. It is above a small criticism, that is skeptical and powerless;
but it is the soul of a large criticism, a criticism that is productive:
it is, thus to speak, the divine part of taste.

After having spoken of taste which appreciates beauty, shall we say
nothing of genius which makes it live again? Genius is nothing else than
taste in action, that is to say, the three powers of taste carried to
their culmination, and armed with a new and mysterious power, the power
of execution. But we are already entering upon the domain of art. Let us
wait, we shall soon find art again and the genius that accompanies it.


[96] Except the estimable _Essay on the Beautiful_, by P. André, a
disciple of Malebranche, whose life was considerably prolonged into the
eighteenth century. On P. André, see 3d Series, vol. iii., _Modern
Philosophy_, p. 207, 516.

[97] See in the works of Diderot, _Pensées sur la Sculpture, les
Salons_, etc.

[98] See 1st Series, vol. iv., explained and estimated, the theories of
Hutcheson and Reid.

[99] The theory of Kant is found in the _Critique of Judgment_, and in
the _Observations_ on the _Sentiment of the Beautiful and the Sublime_.
See the excellent translation made by M. Barny, 2 vols., 1846.

[100] On Hutcheson and Smith, their merits and defects, the part of
truth and the part of error, which their philosophy contains, see the
detailed lectures which we have devoted to them, 1st Series, vol. iv.

[101] See the exposition and refutation of the doctrine of Condillac and
Helvetius, _Ibid._, vol. iii.

[102] See lecture 5, in this vol.



    Refutation of different theories on the nature of the beautiful:
    the beautiful cannot be reduced to what is useful.--Nor to
    convenience.--Nor to proportion.--Essential characters of the
    beautiful.--Different kinds of beauties. The beautiful and the
    sublime. Physical beauty. Intellectual beauty. Moral
    beauty.--Ideal beauty: it is especially moral beauty.--God, the
    first principle of the beautiful.--Theory of Plato.

We have made known the beautiful in ourselves, in the faculties that
perceive it and appreciate it, in reason, sentiment, imagination, taste;
we come, according to the order determined by the method, to other
questions: What is the beautiful in objects? What is the beautiful taken
in itself? What are its characters and different species? What, in fine,
is its first and last principle? All these questions must be treated,
and, if possible, solved. Philosophy has its point of departure in
psychology; but, in order to attain also its legitimate termination, it
must set out from man, and reach things themselves.

The history of philosophy offers many theories on the nature of the
beautiful: we do not wish to enumerate nor discuss them all; we will
designate the most important.[103]

There is one very gross, which defines the beautiful as that which
pleases the senses, that which procures an agreeable impression. We will
not stop at this opinion. We have sufficiently refuted it in showing
that it is impossible to reduce the beautiful to the agreeable.

A sensualism a little more wise puts the useful in the place of the
agreeable, that is to say, changes the form of the same principle.
Neither is the beautiful the object which procures for us in the present
moment an agreeable but fugitive sensation, it is the object which can
often procure for us this same sensation or others similar. No great
effort of observation or reasoning is necessary to convince us that
utility has nothing to do with beauty. What is useful is not always
beautiful. What is beautiful is not always useful, and what is at once
useful and beautiful is beautiful for some other reason than its
utility. Observe a lever or a pulley: surely nothing is more useful.
Nevertheless, you are not tempted to say that this is beautiful. Have
you discovered an antique vase admirably worked? You exclaim that this
vase is beautiful, without thinking to seek of what use it may be to
you. Finally, symmetry and order are beautiful things, and at the same
time, are useful things, because they economize space, because objects
symmetrically disposed are easier to find when one wants them; but that
is not what makes for us the beauty of symmetry, for we immediately
seize this kind of beauty, and it is often late enough before we
recognize the utility that is found in it. It even sometimes happens,
that after having admired the beauty of an object, we are not able to
divine its use, although it may have one. The useful is, then, entirely
different from the beautiful, far from being its foundation.

A celebrated and very ancient[104] theory makes the beautiful consist in
the perfect suitableness of means to their end. Here the beautiful is no
longer the useful, it is the suitable; these two ideas must be
distinguished. A machine produces excellent effects, economy of time,
work, etc.; it is therefore useful. If, moreover, examining its
construction, I find that each piece is in its place, and that all are
skilfully disposed for the result which they should produce; even
without regarding the utility of this result, as the means are well
adapted to their end, I judge that there is suitableness in it. We are
already approaching the idea of the beautiful; for we are no longer
considering what is useful, but what is proper. Now, we have not yet
attained the true character of beauty; there are, in fact, objects very
well adapted to their end, which we do not call beautiful. A bench
without ornament and without elegance, provided it be solid, provided
all the parts are firmly connected, provided one may sit down on it with
safety, provided it may be for this purpose suitable, agreeable even,
may give an example of the most perfect adaptation of means to an end;
it will not, therefore, be said that this bench is beautiful. There is
here always this difference between suitableness and utility, that an
object to be beautiful has no need of being useful, but that it is not
beautiful if it does not possess suitableness, if there is in it a
disagreement between the end and the means.

Some have thought to find the beautiful in proportion, and this is, in
fact, one of the conditions of beauty, but it is not the only one. It is
very certain, that an object ill-proportioned cannot be beautiful. There
is in all beautiful objects, however far they may be from geometric
form, a sort of living geometry. But, I ask, is it proportion that is
dominant in this slender tree, with flexible and graceful branches, with
rich and shady foliage? What makes the terrible beauty of a storm, what
makes that of a great picture, of an isolated verse, or a sublime ode?
It is not, I know, wanting in law and rule, neither is it law and rule:
often, even what at first strikes us is an apparent irregularity. It is
absurd to pretend that what makes us admire all these things and many
more, is the same quality that makes us admire a geometric figure, that
is to say, the exact correspondence of parts.

What we say of proportion may be said of order, which is something less
mathematical than proportion, but scarcely explains better what is
free, varied, and negligent in certain beauties.

All these theories which refer beauty to order, harmony, and proportion,
are at foundation only one and the same theory which in the beautiful
sees unity before all. And surely unity is beautiful; it is an important
part of beauty, but it is not the whole of beauty.

The most probable theory of the beautiful is that which composes it of
two contrary and equally necessary elements, unity and variety. Behold a
beautiful flower. Without doubt, unity, order, proportion, symmetry
even, are in it; for, without these qualities, reason would be absent
from it, and all things are made with a marvellous reason. But, at the
same time, what a diversity! How many shades in the color, what richness
in the least details! Even in mathematics, what is beautiful is not an
abstract principle, it is a principle carrying with itself a long chain
of consequences. There is no beauty without life, and life is movement,
is diversity.

Unity and variety are applied to all orders of beauty. Let us rapidly
run over these different orders.

In the first place, there are beautiful objects, to speak properly, and
sublime objects. A beautiful object, we have seen, is something
completed, circumscribed, limited, which all our faculties easily
embrace, because the different parts are on a somewhat narrow scale. A
sublime object is that which, by forms not in themselves
disproportionate, but less definite and more difficult to seize, awakens
in us the sentiment of the infinite.

There are two very distinct species of beauty. But reality is
inexhaustible, and in all the degrees of reality there is beauty.

Among sensible objects, colors, sounds, figures, movements, are capable
of producing the idea and the sentiment of the beautiful. All these
beauties are arranged under that species of beauty which, right or
wrong, is called physical beauty.

If from the world of sense we elevate ourselves to that of mind, truth,
and science, we shall find there beauties more severe, but not less
real. The universal laws that govern bodies, those that govern
intelligences, the great principles that contain and produce long
deductions, the genius that creates, in the artist, poet, or
philosopher,--all these are beautiful, as well as nature herself: this
is what is called intellectual beauty.

Finally, if we consider the moral world and its laws, the idea of
liberty, virtue, and devotedness, here the austere justice of an
Aristides, there the heroism of a Leonidas, the prodigies of charity or
patriotism, we shall certainly find a third order of beauty that still
surpasses the other two, to wit, moral beauty.

Neither let us forget to apply to all these beauties the distinction
between the beautiful and the sublime. There are, then, the beautiful
and the sublime at once in nature, in ideas, in sentiments, in actions.
What an almost infinite variety in beauty!

After having enumerated all these differences, could we not reduce them?
They are incontestable; but, in this diversity is there not unity? Is
there not a single beauty of which all particular beauties are only
reflections, shades, degrees, or degradations?

Plotinus, in his treatise _On the Beautiful_,[105] proposed to himself
this question. He asks--What is the beautiful in itself? I see clearly
that such or such a form is beautiful, that such or such an action is
also beautiful; but why and how are these two objects, so dissimilar,
beautiful? What is the common quality which, being found in these two
objects, ranges them under the general idea of the beautiful?

It is necessary to answer this question, or the theory of beauty is a
maze without issue; one applies the same name to the most diverse
things, without understanding the real unity that authorizes this unity
of name.

Either the diversities which we have designated in beauty are such that
it is impossible to discover their relation, or these diversities are
especially apparent, and have their harmony, their concealed unity.

Is it pretended that this unity is a chimera? Then physical beauty,
moral beauty, and intellectual beauty, are strangers to each other.
What, then, will the artist do? He is surrounded by different beauties,
and he must make a work; for such is the recognized law of art. But if
this unity that is imposed upon him is a factitious unity, if there are
in nature only essentially dissimilar beauties, art deceives and lies to
us. Let it be explained, then, how falsehood is the law of art. That
cannot be; the unity that art expresses, it must have somewhere caught a
glimpse of, in order to transport it into its works.

We neither retract the distinction between the beautiful and the
sublime, nor the other distinctions just now indicated; but it is
necessary to re-unite after having distinguished them. These
distinctions and these re-unions are not contradictory: the great law of
beauty, like that of truth, is unity as well as variety. All is one, and
all is diverse. We have divided beauty into three great
classes--physical beauty, intellectual beauty, and moral beauty. We must
now seek the unity of these three sorts of beauty. Now, we think that
they resolve themselves into one and the same beauty, moral beauty,
meaning by that, with moral beauty properly so called, all spiritual

Let us put this opinion to the proof of facts.

Place yourself before that statue of Apollo which is called Apollo
Belvidere, and observe attentively what strikes you in that
master-piece. Winkelmann, who was not a metaphysician, but a learned
antiquarian, a man of taste without system, made a celebrated analysis
of the Apollo.[106] It is curious to study it. What Winkelmann extols
before all, is the character of divinity stamped upon the immortal youth
that invests that beautiful body, upon the height, a little above that
of man, upon the majestic altitude, upon the imperious movement, upon
the _ensemble_, and all the details of the person. The forehead is
indeed that of a god,--an unalterable placidity dwells upon it. Lower
down, humanity reappears somewhat; and that is very necessary, in order
to interest humanity in the works of art. In that satisfied look, in the
distension of the nostrils, in the elevation of the under lip, are at
once felt anger mingled with disdain, pride of victory, and the little
fatigue which it has cost. Weigh well each word of Winkelmann: you will
find there a moral impression. The tone of the learned antiquary is
elevated, little by little, to enthusiasm, and his analysis becomes a
hymn to spiritual beauty.

Instead of a statue, observe a real and living man. Regard that man who,
solicited by the strongest motives to sacrifice duty to fortune,
triumphs over interest, after an heroic struggle, and sacrifices fortune
to virtue. Regard him at the moment when he is about to take this
magnanimous resolution; his face will appear to you beautiful, because
it expresses the beauty of his soul. Perhaps, under all other
circumstances, the face of the man is common, even trivial; here,
illuminated by the soul which it manifests, it is ennobled, and takes an
imposing character of beauty. So, the natural face of Socrates[107]
contrasts strongly with the type of Grecian beauty; but look at him on
his death-bed, at the moment of drinking the hemlock, convening with his
disciples on the immortality of the soul, and his face will appear to
you sublime.[108]

At the highest point of moral grandeur, Socrates expires:--you have
before your eyes no longer any thing but his dead body; the dead face
preserves its beauty, as long as it preserves traces of the mind that
animated it; but little by little the expression is extinguished or
disappears; the face then becomes vulgar and ugly. The expression of
death is hideous or sublime,--hideous at the aspect of the decomposition
of the matter that no longer retains the spirit,--sublime when it
awakens in us the idea of eternity.

Consider the figure of man in repose: it is more beautiful than that of
an animal, the figure of an animal is more beautiful than the form of
any inanimate object. It is because the human figure, even in the
absence of virtue and genius, always reflects an intelligent and moral
nature, it is because the figure of an animal reflects sentiment at
least, and something of soul, if not the soul entire. If from man and
the animal we descend to purely physical nature, we shall still find
beauty there, as long as we find there some shade of intelligence, I
know not what, that awakens in us some thought, some sentiment. Do we
arrive at some piece of matter that expresses nothing, that signifies
nothing, neither is the idea of beauty applied to it. But every thing
that exists is animated. Matter is shaped and penetrated by forces that
are not material, and it obeys laws that attest an intelligence
everywhere present. The most subtile chemical analysis does not reach a
dead and inert nature, but a nature that is organized in its own way,
that is neither deprived of forces nor laws. In the depths of the earth,
as in the heights of the heavens, in a grain of sand as in a gigantic
mountain, an immortal spirit shines through the thickest coverings. Let
us contemplate nature with the eye of the soul as well as with the eye
of the body:--everywhere a moral expression will strike us, and the
forms of things will impress us as symbols of thought. We have said
that with man, and with the animal even, the figure is beautiful on
account of the expression. But, when you are on the summit of the Alps,
or before the immense Ocean, when you behold the rising or setting of
the sun, at the beginning or the close of the day, do not these imposing
pictures produce on you a moral effect? Do all these grand spectacles
appear only for the sake of appearing? Do we not regard them as
manifestations of an admirable power, intelligence, and wisdom? And,
thus to speak, is not the face of nature expressive like that of man?

Form cannot be simply a form, it must be the form of something. Physical
beauty is, then, the sign of an internal beauty, which is spiritual and
moral beauty; and this is the foundation, the principle, the unity of
the beautiful.[109]

All the beauties that we have just enumerated and reduced compose what
is called the really beautiful. But, above real beauty, is a beauty of
another order--ideal beauty. The ideal resides neither in an individual,
nor in a collection of individuals. Nature or experience furnishes us
the occasion of conceiving it, but it is essentially distinct. Let it
once be conceived, and all natural figures, though never so beautiful,
are only images of a superior beauty which they do not realize. Give me
a beautiful action, and I will imagine one still more beautiful. The
Apollo itself is open to criticism in more than one respect. The ideal
continually recedes as we approach it. Its last termination is in the
infinite, that is to say, in God; or, to speak more correctly, the true
and absolute ideal is nothing else than God himself.

God, being the principle of all things, must for this reason be that of
perfect beauty, and, consequently, of all natural beauties that express
it more or less imperfectly; he is the principle of beauty, both as
author of the physical world and as father of the intellectual and moral

Is it not necessary to be a slave of the senses and of appearances in
order to stop at movements, at forms, at sounds, at colors, whose
harmonious combinations produce the beauty of this visible world, and
not to conceive behind this scene so magnificent and well regulated, the
orderer, the geometer, the supreme artist?

Physical beauty serves as an envelope to intellectual and moral beauty.

What can be the principle of intellectual beauty, that splendor of the
true, except the principle of all truth?

Moral beauty comprises, as we shall subsequently see,[110] two distinct
elements, equally but diversely beautiful, justice and charity, respect
and love of men. He who expresses in his conduct justice and charity,
accomplishes the most beautiful of all works; the good man is, in his
way, the greatest of all artists. But what shall we say of him who is
the very substance of justice and the exhaustless source of love? If our
moral nature is beautiful, what must be the beauty of its author! His
justice and goodness are everywhere, both in us and out of us. His
justice is the moral order that no human law makes, that all human laws
are forced to express, that is preserved and perpetuated in the world by
its own force. Let us descend into ourselves, and consciousness will
attest the divine justice in the peace and contentment that accompany
virtue, in the troubles and tortures that are the invariable punishments
of vice and crime. How many times, and with what eloquence, have men
celebrated the indefatigable solicitude of Providence, its benefits
everywhere manifest in the smallest as well as in the greatest phenomena
of nature, which we forget so easily because they have become so
familiar to us, but which, on reflection, call forth our mingled
admiration and gratitude, and proclaim a good God, full of love for his

Thus, God is the principle of the three orders of beauty that we have
distinguished, physical beauty, intellectual beauty, moral beauty.

In him also are reunited the two great forms of the beautiful
distributed in each of these three orders, to wit, the beautiful and the
sublime. God is, _par excellence_, the beautiful--for what object
satisfies more all our faculties, our reason, our imagination, our
heart! He offers to reason the highest idea, beyond which it has nothing
more to seek; to imagination the most ravishing contemplation; to the
heart a sovereign object of love. He is, then, perfectly beautiful; but
is he not sublime also in other ways? If he extends the horizon of
thought, it is to confound it in the abyss of his greatness. If the soul
blooms at the spectacle of his goodness, has it not also reason to be
affrighted at the idea of his justice, which is not less present to it?
God is at once mild and terrible. At the same time that he is the life,
the light, the movement, the ineffable grace of visible and finite
nature, he is also called the Eternal, the Invisible, the Infinite, the
Absolute Unity, and the Being of beings. Do not these awful attributes,
as certain as the first, produce in the highest degree in the
imagination and the soul that melancholy emotion excited by the sublime?
Yes, God is for us the type and source of the two great forms of beauty,
because he is to us at once an impenetrable enigma and still the
clearest word that we are able to find for all enigmas. Limited beings
as we are, we comprehend nothing in comparison with that which is
without limits, and we are able to explain nothing without that same
thing which is without limits. By the being that we possess, we have
some idea of the infinite being of God; by the nothingness that is in
us, we lose ourselves in the being of God; and thus always forced to
recur to him in order to explain any thing, and always thrown back
within ourselves under the weight of his infinitude, we experience by
turns, or rather at the same time, for this God who raises and casts us
down, a sentiment of irresistible attraction and astonishment, not to
say insurmountable terror, which he alone can cause and allay, because
he alone is the unity of the sublime and the beautiful.

Thus absolute being, which is both absolute unity and infinite
variety,--God, is necessarily the last reason, the ultimate foundation,
the completed ideal of all beauty. This is the marvellous beauty that
Diotimus had caught a glimpse of, and thus paints to Socrates in the

"Eternal beauty, unbegotten and imperishable, exempt from decay as well
as increase, which is not beautiful in such a part and ugly in such
another, beautiful only, at such a time, in such a place, in such a
relation, beautiful for some, ugly for others, beauty that has no
sensible form, no visage, no hands, nothing corporeal, which is not such
a thought or such a particular science, which resides not in any being
different from itself, as an animal, the earth, or the heavens, or any
other thing, which is absolutely identical and invariable by itself, in
which all other beauties participate, in such a way, nevertheless, that
their birth or their destruction neither diminishes nor increases, nor
in the least changes it!... In order to arrive at this perfect beauty,
it is necessary to commence with the beauties of this lower world, and,
the eyes being fixed upon the supreme beauty, to elevate ourselves
unceasingly towards it, by passing, thus to speak, through all the
degrees of the scale, from a single beautiful body to two, from two to
all others, from beautiful bodies to beautiful sentiments, from
beautiful sentiments to beautiful thoughts, until from thought to
thought we arrive at the highest thought, which has no other object than
the beautiful itself, until we end by knowing it as it is in itself.

"O my dear Socrates," continued the stranger of Mantinea, "that which
can give value to this life is the spectacle of the eternal beauty....
What would be the destiny of a mortal to whom it should be granted to
contemplate the beautiful without alloy, in its purity and simplicity,
no longer clothed with the flesh and hues of humanity, and with all
those vain charms that are condemned to perish, to whom it should be
given to see face to face, under its sole form, the divine beauty!"[111]


[103] If one would make himself acquainted with a simple and piquant
refutation, written two thousand years ago, of false theories of beauty,
he may read the _Hippias_ of Plato, vol. iv. of our translation. The
_Phædrus_, vol. vi., contains the veiled exposition of Plato's own
theory; but it is in the _Banquet_ (_Ibid._), and particularly in the
discourse of Diotimus, that we must look for the thought of Plato
carried to its highest degree of development, and clothed with all the
beauty of human language.

[104] See the _Hippias_.

[105] First _Ennead_, book vi., in the work of M. B. Saint-Hillaire, on
the _School of Alexandria_, the translation of this morsel of Plotinus,
p. 197.

[106] Winkelmann has twice described the Apollo, _History of Art among
the Ancients_, Paris, 1802, 3 vols., in 4to. Vol. i., book iv., chap.
iii., _Art among the Greeks_:--"The Apollo of the Vatican offers us that
God in a movement of indignation against the serpent Python, which he
has just killed with arrow-shots, and in a sentiment of contempt for a
victory so little worthy of a divinity. The wise artist, who proposed to
represent the most beautiful of the gods, placed the anger in the nose,
which, according to the ancients, was its seat; and the disdain on the
lips. He expressed the anger by the inflation of the nostrils, and the
disdain by the elevation of the under lip, which causes the same
movement in the chin."--_Ibid._, vol. ii., book iv., chap. vi., _Art
under the Emperors_:--"Of all the antique statues that have escaped the
fury of barbarians and the destructive hand of time, the statue of
Apollo is, without contradiction, the most sublime. One would say that
the artist composed a figure purely ideal, and employed matter only
because it was necessary for him to execute and represent his idea. As
much as Homer's description of Apollo surpasses the descriptions which
other poets have undertaken after him, so much this statue excels all
the figures of this god. Its height is above that of man, and its
attitude proclaims the divine grandeur with which it is filled. A
perennial spring-time, like that which reigns in the happy fields of
Elysium, clothes with lovable youth the beautiful body, and shines with
sweetness over the noble structure of the limbs. In order to feel the
merit of this _chef-d'oeuvre of art_, we must be penetrated with
intellectual beauty, and become, if possible, the creatures of a
celestial nature; for there is nothing mortal in it, nothing subject to
the wants of humanity. That body, whose forms are not interrupted by a
vein, which is not agitated by a nerve, seems animated with a celestial
spirit, which circulates like a sweet vapor in all the parts of that
admirable figure. The god has just been pursuing Python, against which
he has bent, for the first time, his formidable bow; in his rapid
course, he has overtaken him, and given him a mortal wound. Penetrated
with the conviction of his power, and lost in a concentrated joy, his
august look penetrates far into the infinite, and is extended far beyond
his victory. Disdain sits upon his lips; the indignation that he
breathes distends his nostrils, and ascends to his eyebrows; but an
unchangeable serenity is painted on his brow, and his eye is full of
sweetness, as though the Muses were caressing him. Among all the figures
that remain to us of Jupiter, there is none in which the father of the
gods approaches the grandeur with which he manifested himself to the
intelligence of Homer; but in the traits of the Apollo Belvidere, we
find the individual beauties of all the other divinities united, as in
that of Pandora. The forehead is the forehead of Jupiter, inclosing the
goddess of wisdom; the eyebrows, by their movement, announce his supreme
will; the large eyes are those of the queen of the gods, orbed with
dignity, and the mouth is an image of that of Bacchus, where breathed
voluptuousness. Like the tender branches of the vine, his beautiful
locks flow around his head, as if they were lightly agitated by the
zephyr's breath. They seem perfumed with the essence of the gods, and
are charmingly arranged over his head by the hand of the Graces. At the
sight of this marvel of art, I forget every thing else, and my mind
takes a supernatural disposition, fitted to judge of it with dignity;
from admiration I pass to ecstasy; I feel my breast dilating and rising,
like those who are filled with the spirit of prophecy; I am transported
to Delos, and the sacred groves of Syria,--places which Apollo honored
with his presence:--the statue seems to be animated as it were with the
beauty that sprung of old from the hands of Pygmalion. How can I
describe thee, O inimitable master-piece? For this it would be necessary
that art itself should deign to inspire my pen. The traits that I have
just sketched, I lay before thee, as those who came to crown the gods,
put their crowns at their feet, not being able to reach their heads."

[107] See the last part of the _Banquet_, the discourse of Alcibiades,
p. 326 of vol. vi. of our translation.

[108] We here have in mind, and we avow it, the Socrates of David, which
appears to us, the theatrical character being admitted, above its
reputation. Besides Socrates, it is impossible not to admire Plato
listening to his master, as it were from the bottom of his soul, without
looking at him, with his back turned upon the scene that is passing, and
lost in the contemplation of the intelligible world.

[109] We are fortunate in finding this theory, which is so dear to us,
confirmed by the authority of one of the severest and most circumspect
minds:--it may be seen in Reid, 1st Series, vol. iv., lecture 23. The
Scotch philosopher terminates his _Essay on Taste_ with these words,
which happily remind us of the thought and manner of Plato
himself:--"Whether the reasons that I have given to prove that sensible
beauty is only the image of moral beauty appear sufficient or not, I
hope that my doctrine, in attempting to unite the terrestrial Venus more
closely to the celestial Venus, will not seem to have for its object to
abase the first, and render her less worthy of the homage that mankind
has always paid her."

[110] Part iii., lecture 15.

[111] Vol. vi. of our translation, p. 816-818



    Genius:--its attribute is creative power.--Refutation of the
    opinion that art is the imitation of nature.--M. Emeric David,
    and M. Quatremère de Quincy.--Refutation of the theory of
    illusion. That dramatic art has not solely for its end to excite
    the passions of terror and pity.--Nor even directly the moral
    and religious sentiment.--The proper and direct object of art is
    to produce the idea and the sentiment of the beautiful; this
    idea and this sentiment purify and elevate the soul by the
    affinity between the beautiful and the good, and by the relation
    of ideal beauty to its principle, which is God.--True mission of

Man is not made only to know and love the beautiful in the works of
nature, he is endowed with the power of reproducing it. At the sight of
a natural beauty, whatever it may be, physical or moral, his first need
is to feel and admire. He is penetrated, ravished, as it were
overwhelmed with the sentiment of beauty. But when the sentiment is
energetic, he is not a long time sterile. We wish to see again, we wish
to feel again what caused us so vivid a pleasure, and for that end we
attempt to revive the beauty that charmed us, not as it was, but as our
imagination represents it to us. Hence a work original and peculiar to
man, a work of art. Art is the free reproduction of beauty, and the
power in us capable of reproducing it is called genius.

What faculties are used in this free reproduction of the beautiful? The
same that serve to recognize and feel it. Taste carried to the highest
degree, if you always join to it an additional element, is genius. What
is this element?

Three faculties enter into that complex faculty that is called
taste,--imagination, sentiment, reason.

These three faculties are certainly necessary for genius, but they are
not sufficient for it. What essentially distinguishes genius from taste
is the attribute of creative power. Taste feels, judges, discusses,
analyzes, but does not invent. Genius is, before all, inventive and
creative. The man of genius is not the master of the power that is in
him; it is by the ardent, irresistible need of expressing what he feels,
that he is a man of genius. He suffers by withholding the sentiments, or
images, or thoughts, that agitate his breast. It has been said that
there is no superior man without some grain of folly; but this folly,
like that of the cross, is the divine part of reason. This mysterious
power Socrates called his demon. Voltaire called it the devil in the
body; he demanded it even in a comedian in order to be a comedian of
genius. Give to it what name you please, it is certain that there is a
I-know-not-what that inspires genius, that also torments it until it has
delivered itself of what consumes it; until, by expressing them, it has
solaced its pains and its joys, its emotions, its ideas; until its
reveries have become living works. Thus two things characterize genius;
at first, the vivacity of the need it has of producing, then the power
of producing; for the need without the power is only a malady that
resembles genius, but is not it. Genius is above all, is essentially,
the power of doing, of inventing, of creating. Taste is contented with
observing, with admiring. False genius, ardent and impotent imagination,
consumes itself in sterile dreams and produces nothing, at least nothing
great. Genius alone has the power to convert conceptions into creations.

If genius creates it does not imitate.

But genius, it is said, is then superior to nature, since it does not
imitate it. Nature is the work of God; man is then the rival of God.

The answer is very simple. No, genius is not the rival of God; but it is
the interpreter of him. Nature expresses him in its way, human genius
expresses him in its own way.

Let us stop a moment at that question so much discussed,--whether art is
any thing else than the imitation of nature.

Doubtless, in one sense, art is an imitation; for absolute creation
belongs only to God. Where can genius find the elements upon which it
works, except in nature, of which it forms a part? But does it limit
itself to the reproduction of them as nature furnishes them to it,
without adding any thing to them which belongs to itself? Is it only a
copier of reality? Its sole merit, then, is that of the fidelity of the
copy. And what labor is more sterile than that of copying works
essentially inimitable on account of the life with which they are
endowed, in order to obtain an indifferent image of them? If art is a
servile pupil, it is condemned never to be any thing but an impotent

The true artist feels and profoundly admires nature; but every thing in
nature is not equally admirable. As we have just said, it has something
by which it infinitely surpasses art--its life. Besides that, art can,
in its turn, surpass nature, on the condition of not wishing to imitate
it too closely. Every natural object, however beautiful, is defective on
some side. Every thing that is real is imperfect. Here, the horrible and
the hideous are united to the sublime; there, elegance and grace are
separated from grandeur and force. The traits of beauty are scattered
and diverse. To reunite them arbitrarily, to borrow from such a face a
mouth, eyes from such another, without any rule that governs this choice
and directs these borrowings, is to compose monsters; to admit a rule,
is already to admit an ideal different from all individuals. It is this
ideal that the true artist forms to himself in studying nature. Without
nature, he never would have conceived this ideal; but with this ideal,
he judges nature herself, rectifies her, and dares undertake to measure
himself with her.

The ideal is the artist's object of passionate contemplation.
Assiduously and silently meditated, unceasingly purified by reflection
and vivified by sentiment, it warms genius and inspires it with the
irresistible need of seeing it realized and living. For this end, genius
takes in nature all the materials that can serve it, and applying to
them its powerful hand, as Michael Angelo impressed his chisel upon the
docile marble, makes of them works that have no model in nature, that
imitate nothing else than the ideal dreamed of or conceived, that are in
some sort a second creation inferior to the first in individuality and
life, but much superior to it, we do not fear to say, on account of the
intellectual and moral beauty with which it is impressed.

Moral beauty is the foundation of all true beauty. This foundation is
somewhat covered and veiled in nature. Art disengages it, and gives to
it forms more transparent. On this account, art, when it knows well its
power and its resources, institutes with nature a contest in which it
may have the advantage.

Let us establish well the end of art: it is precisely where its power
lies. The end of art is the expression of moral beauty, by the aid of
physical beauty. The latter is only a symbol of the former. In nature,
this symbol is often obscure: art in bringing it to light attains
effects that nature does not always produce. Nature may please more,
for, once more, it possesses in an incomparable degree what makes the
great charm of imagination and sight--life; art touches more, because in
expressing, above all, moral beauty, it addresses itself more directly
to the source of profound emotions. Art can be more pathetic than
nature, and the pathetic is the sign and measure of great beauty.

Two extremes are equally dangerous--a lifeless ideal, or the absence of
the ideal. Either we copy the model, and are wanting in true beauty, or
we work _de tête_, and fall into an ideality without character. Genius
is a ready and sure perception of the right proportion in which the
ideal and the natural, form and thought, ought to be united. This union
is the perfection of art: _chefs-d'oeuvre_ are produced by observing

It is important, in my opinion, to follow this rule in teaching art. It
is asked whether pupils should begin with the study of the ideal or the
real. I do not hesitate to answer,--by both. Nature herself never offers
the general without the individual, nor the individual without the
general. Every figure is composed of individual traits which distinguish
it from all others, and make its own looks, and, at the same time, it
has general traits which constitute what is called the human figure.
These general traits are the constitutive lineaments, and this figure is
the type, that are given to the pupil that is beginning in the art of
design to trace. It would also be good, I believe, in order to preserve
him from the dry and abstract, to exercise him early in copying some
natural object, especially a living figure. This would be putting pupils
to the true school of nature. They would thus become accustomed never to
sacrifice either of the two essential elements of the beautiful, either
of the two imperative conditions of art.

But, in uniting these two elements, these two conditions, it is
necessary to distinguish them, and to know how to put them in their
place. There is no true ideal without determinate form, there is no
unity without variety, no genus without individuals, but, in fine, the
foundation of the beautiful is the idea; what makes art is before all,
the realization of the idea, and not the imitation of such or such a
particular form.

At the commencement of our century, the Institute of France offered a
prize for the best answer to the following question: _What were the
causes of the perfection of the antique sculpture, and what would be the
best means of attaining it?_ The successful competitor, M. Emeric
David,[112] maintained the opinion then dominant, that the assiduous
study of natural beauty had alone conducted the antique art to
perfection, and that thus the imitation of nature was the only route to
reach the same perfection. A man whom I do not fear to compare with
Winkelmann, the future author of the _Olympic Jupiter_,[113] M.
Quatremère de Quincy, in some ingenious and profound disquisitions,[114]
combated the doctrine of the laureate, and defended the cause of ideal
beauty. It is impossible to demonstrate more decidedly, by the entire
history of Greek sculpture, and by authentic texts from the greatest
critiques of antiquity, that the process of art among the Greeks was
not the imitation of nature, either by a particular model, or by
several, the most beautiful model being always very imperfect, and
several models not being able to compose a single beauty. The true
process of the Greek art was the representation of an ideal beauty which
nature scarcely possessed more in Greece than among us, which it could
not then offer to the artist. We regret that the honorable laureate,
since become a member of the Institute, pretended that this expression
of ideal beauty, if it had been known by the Greeks, would have meant
_visible beauty_, because ideal comes from [Greek: eidos], which
signifies only, according to M. Emeric David, a form seen by the eye.
Plato would have been much surprised at this exclusive interpretation of
the word [Greek: eidos]. M. Quatremère de Quincy confounds his unequal
adversary by two admirable texts, one from the _Timæus_, where Plato
marks with precision in what the true artist is superior to the ordinary
artist, the other at the commencement of the _Orator_, where Cicero
explains the manner in which great artists work, in referring to the
manner of Phidias, that is to say, the most perfect master of the most
perfect epoch of art.

"The artist,[115] who, with eye fixed upon the immutable being, and
using such a model, reproduces its idea and its excellence, cannot fail
to produce a whole whose beauty is complete, whilst he who fixes his eye
upon what is transitory, with this perishable model will make nothing

"Phidias,[116] that great artist, when he made the form of Jupiter or
Minerva, did not contemplate a model a resemblance of which he would
express; but in the depth of his soul resided a perfect type of beauty,
upon which he fixed his look, which guided his hand and his art."

Is not this process of Phidias precisely that which Raphael describes
in the famous letter to Castiglione, which he declares that he followed
himself for the Galatea?[117] "As," he says, "I am destitute of
beautiful models, I use a certain ideal which I form for myself."

There is another theory which comes back, by a circuit, to imitation: it
is that which makes illusion the end of art. If this theory be true, the
ideal beauty of painting is a _tromp-l'oeil_,[118] and its
master-piece is the grapes of Zeuxis that the birds came and pecked at.
The height of art in a theatrical piece would be to persuade you that
you are in the presence of reality. What is true in this opinion is,
that a work of art is beautiful only on the condition of being
life-like, and, for example, the law of dramatic art is not to put on
the stage pale phantoms of the past, but personages borrowed from
imagination or history, as you like, but animated, endowed with passion,
speaking and acting like men and not like shades. It is human nature
that is to be represented to itself under a magic light that does not
disfigure it, but ennobles it. This magic is the very genius of art. It
lifts us above the miseries that besiege us, and transports us to
regions where we still find ourselves, for we never wish to lose sight
of ourselves, but where we find ourselves transformed to our advantage,
where all the imperfections of reality have given place to a certain
perfection, where the language that we speak is more equal and elevated,
where persons are more beautiful, where the ugly is not admitted, and
all this while duly respecting history, especially without ever going
beyond the imperative conditions of human nature. Has art forgotten
human nature? it has passed beyond its end, it has not attained it; it
has brought forth nothing but chimeras without interest for our soul.
Has it been too human, too real, too nude? it has fallen short of its
end; it has then attained it no better.

Illusion is so little the end of art, that it may be complete and have
no charm. Thus, in the interest of illusion, theatrical men have taken
great pains in these latter times to secure historical accuracy of
costume. This is all very well; but it is not the most important thing.
Had you found, and lent to the actor who plays the part of Brutus, the
very costume that of old the Roman hero wore, it would touch true
connoisseurs very little. This is not all; when the illusion goes too
far, the sentiment of art disappears in order to give place to a
sentiment purely natural, sometimes insupportable. If I believed that
Iphegenia were in fact on the point of being immolated by her father at
a distance of twenty paces from me, I should leave the theatre trembling
with horror. If the Ariadne that I see and hear, were the true Ariadne
who is about to be betrayed by her sister, in that pathetic scene where
the poor woman, who already feels herself less loved, asks who then robs
her of the heart, once so tender, of Theseus, I would do as the young
Englishman did, who cried out, sobbing and trying to spring upon the
stage, "It is Phèdre, it is Phèdre!" as if he would warn and save

But, it is said, is it not the aim of the poet to excite pity and
terror? Yes; but at first in a certain measure; then he must mix with
them some other sentiment that tempers them, or makes them serve another
end. If the aim of dramatic art were only to excite in the highest
degree pity and terror, art would be the powerless rival of nature. All
the misfortunes represented on the stage are very feeble in comparison
with those sad spectacles which we may see every day. The first hospital
is fuller of pity and terror than all the theatres in the world. What
should the poet do in the theory that we combat? He should transfer to
the stage the greatest possible reality, and move us powerfully by
shocking our senses with the sight of frightful pains. The great resort
of the pathetic would then be the representation of death, especially
that of the greatest torture. Quite on the contrary, there is an end of
art when sensibility is too much excited. To take, again, an example
that we have already employed, what constitutes the beauty of a
tempest, of a shipwreck? What attracts us to those great scenes of
nature? It is certainly not pity and terror,--these poignant and
lacerating sentiments would much sooner keep us away. An emotion very
different from these is necessary, which triumphs over us, in order to
retain us by the shore; this emotion is the pure sentiment of the
beautiful and the sublime, excited and kept alive by the grandeur of the
spectacle, by the vast extent of the sea, the rolling of the foaming
waves, and the imposing sound of the thunder. But do we think for a
single instant that there are in the midst of the sea the unfortunate
who are suffering, and are, perhaps, about to perish? From that moment
the spectacle becomes to us insupportable. It is so in art. Whatever
sentiment it proposes to excite in us, must always be tempered and
governed by that of the beautiful. If it only produces pity or terror
beyond a certain limit, especially physical pity or terror, it revolts,
and no longer charms; it loses the effect that belongs to it in exchange
for a foreign and vulgar effect.

For this same reason, I cannot accept another theory, which, confounding
the sentiment of the beautiful with the moral and religious sentiment,
puts art in the service of religion and morals, and gives it for its end
to make us better and elevate us to God. There is here an essential
distinction to be made. If all beauty covers a moral beauty, if the
ideal mounts unceasingly towards the infinite, art, which expresses
ideal beauty, purifies the soul in elevating it towards the infinite,
that is to say, towards God. Art, then, produces the perfection of the
soul, but it produces it indirectly. The philosopher who investigates
effects and causes, knows what is the ultimate principle of the
beautiful and its certain, although remote, effects. But the artist is
before all things an artist; what animates him is the sentiment of the
beautiful; what he wishes to make pass into the soul of the spectator is
the same sentiment that fills his own. He confides himself to the virtue
of beauty; he fortifies it with all the power, all the charm of the
ideal; it must then do its own work; the artist has done his when he
has procured for some noble souls the exquisite sentiment of beauty.
This pure and disinterested sentiment is a noble ally of the moral and
religious sentiments; it awakens, preserves, and develops them, but it
is a distinct and special sentiment. So art, which is founded on this
sentiment, which is inspired by it, which expands it, is in its turn an
independent power. It is naturally associated with all that ennobles the
soul, with morals and religion; but it springs only from itself.

Let us confine our thought strictly within its proper limits. In
vindicating the independence, the proper dignity, and the particular end
of art, we do not intend to separate it from religion, from morals, from
country. Art draws its inspirations from these profound sources, as well
as from the ever open source of nature. But it is not less true that
art, the state, religion, are powers which have each their world apart
and their own effects; they mutually help each other; they should not
serve each other. As soon as one of them wanders from its end, it errs,
and is degraded. Does art blindly give itself up to the orders of
religion and the state? In losing its liberty, it loses its charm and
its empire.

Ancient Greece and modern Italy are continually cited as triumphant
examples of what the alliance of art, religion, and the state can do.
Nothing is more true, if the question is concerning their union; nothing
is more false, if the question is concerning the servitude of art. Art
in Greece was so little the slave of religion, that it little by little
modified the symbols, and, to a certain extent, the spirit itself, by
its free representations. There is a long distance between the
divinities that Greece received from Egypt and those of which it has
left immortal exemplars. Are those primitive artists and poets, as Homer
and Dedalus are called, strangers to this change? And in the most
beautiful epoch of art, did not Æschylus and Phidias carry a great
liberty into the religious scenes which they exposed to the gaze of the
people, in the theatre, or in front of the temples? In Italy as in
Greece, as everywhere, art is at first in the hands of priesthoods and
governments; but, as it increases its importance and is developed, it
more and more conquers its liberty. Men speak of the faith that animated
the artists and vivified their works; that is true of the time of Giotto
and Ciambuë; but after Angelico de Fiesole, at the end of the fifteenth
century, in Italy, I perceive especially the faith of art in itself and
the worship of beauty. Raphael was about to become a cardinal;[119] yes,
but always painting Galatea, and without quitting Fornarine. Once more,
let us exaggerate nothing; let us distinguish, not separate; let us
unite art, religion, and country, but let not their union injure the
liberty of each. Let us be thoroughly penetrated with the thought, that
art is also to itself a kind of religion. God manifests himself to us by
the idea of the true, by the idea of the good, by the idea of the
beautiful. Each one of them leads to God, because it comes from him.
True beauty is ideal beauty, and ideal beauty is a reflection of the
infinite. So, independently of all official alliance with religion and
morals, art is by itself essentially religious and moral; for, far from
wanting its own law, its own genius, it everywhere expresses in its
works eternal beauty. Bound on all sides to matter by inflexible laws,
working upon inanimate stone, upon uncertain and fugitive sounds, upon
words of limited and finite signification, art communicates to them,
with the precise form that is addressed to such or such a sense, a
mysterious character that is addressed to the imagination and the soul,
takes them away from reality, and bears them sweetly or violently into
unknown regions. Every work of art, whatever may be its form, small or
great, figured, sung, or uttered,--every work of art, truly beautiful or
sublime, throws the soul into a gentle or severe reverie that elevates
it towards the infinite. The infinite is the common limit after which
the soul aspires upon the wings of imagination as well as reason, by the
route of the sublime and the beautiful, as well as by that of the true
and the good. The emotion that the beautiful produces turns the soul
from this world; it is the beneficent emotion that art produces for


[112] _Recherches sur l'Art Statuaire._ Paris, 1805.

[113] Paris, 1815, in folio, an eminent work that will subsist even when
time shall have destroyed some of its details.

[114] Since reprinted under the title of _Essais sur l'Ideal dans ses
Applications Pratiques_. Paris, 1837.

[115] Translation of Plato, vol. xii., _Timæus_, p. 116.

[116] _Orator:_ "Neque enim ille artifex (Phidias) cum faceret Jovis
formam aut Minervæ, contemplabatur aliquem a quo similitudinem duceret;
sed ipsius in mente insidebat species pulchritudinis eximia quædam, quam
intuens, in eaque defixus, ad illius similitudinem artem et manum

[117] _Raccolta di lett._ _Sulla pitt._, i., p. 83. "_Essendo carestia e
de' buoni giudici e di belle donne, io mi servo di certa idea che mi
viene alla mente._"

[118] "A picture representing a broken glass over several subjects
painted on the canvas, by which the eye is deceived."

[119] Vassari, _Vie de Raphael_.



    Expression is the general law of art.--Division of
    arts.--Distinction between liberal arts and trades.--Eloquence
    itself, philosophy, and history do not make a part of the fine
    arts.--That the arts gain nothing by encroaching upon each
    other, and usurping each other's means and
    processes.--Classification of the arts:--its true principle is
    expression.--Comparison of arts with each other.--Poetry the
    first of arts.

A _résumé_ of the last lecture would be a definition of art, of its end
and law. Art is the free reproduction of the beautiful, not of a single
natural beauty, but of ideal beauty, as the human imagination conceives
it by the aid of data which nature furnishes it. The ideal beauty
envelops the infinite:--the end of art is, then, to produce works that,
like those of nature, or even in a still higher degree, may have the
charm of the infinite. But how and by what illusion can we draw the
infinite from the finite? This is the difficulty of art, and its glory
also. What bears us towards the infinite in natural beauty? The ideal
side of this beauty. The ideal is the mysterious ladder that enables the
soul to ascend from the finite to the infinite. The artist, then, must
devote himself to the representation of the ideal. Every thing has its
ideal. The first care of the artist will be, then, whatever he does, to
penetrate at first to the concealed ideal of his subject, for his
subject has an ideal,--in order to render it, in the next place, more or
less striking to the senses and the soul, according to the conditions
which the very materials that he employs--the stone, the color, the
sound, the language--impose on him.

So, to express the ideal of the infinite in one way or another, is the
law of art; and all the arts are such only by their relation to the
sentiment of the beautiful and the infinite which they awaken in the
soul, by the aid of that high quality of every work of art that is
called expression.

Expression is essentially ideal: what expression tries to make felt, is
not what the eye can see and the hand touch, evidently it is something
invisible and impalpable.

The problem of art is to reach the soul through the body. Art offers to
the senses forms, colors, sounds, words, so arranged that they excite in
the soul, concealed behind the senses, the inexpressible emotion of

Expression is addressed to the soul as form is addressed to the senses.
Form is the obstacle of expression, and, at the same time, is its
imperative, necessary, only means. By working upon form, by bending it
to its service, by dint of care, patience, and genius, art succeeds in
converting an obstacle into a means.

By their object, all arts are equal; all are arts only because they
express the invisible. It cannot be too often repeated, that expression
is the supreme law of art. The thing to express is always the same,--it
is the idea, the spirit, the soul, the invisible, the infinite. But, as
the question is concerning the expression of this one and the same
thing, by addressing ourselves to the senses which are diverse, the
difference of the senses divides art into different arts.

We have seen, that, of the five senses which have been given to
man,[120] three--taste, smell, and touch--are incapable of producing in
us the sentiment of beauty. Joined to the other two, they may contribute
to the understanding of this sentiment; but alone and by themselves they
cannot produce it. Taste judges of the agreeable, not of the beautiful.
No sense is less allied to the soul and more in the service of the body;
it flatters, it serves the grossest of all masters, the stomach. If
smell sometimes seems to participate in the sentiment of the beautiful,
it is because the odor is exhaled from an object that is already
beautiful, that is beautiful for some other reason. Thus the rose is
beautiful for its graceful form, for the varied splendor of its colors;
its odor is agreeable, it is not beautiful. Finally, it is not touch
alone that judges of the regularity of forms, but touch enlightened by

There remain two senses to which all the world concedes the privilege of
exciting in us the idea and the sentiment of the beautiful. They seem to
be more particularly in the service of the soul. The sensations which
they give have something purer, more intellectual. They are less
indispensable for the material preservation of the individual. They
contribute to the embellishment rather than to the sustaining of life.
They procure us pleasures in which our personality seems less interested
and more self-forgetful. To these two senses, then, art should be
addressed, is addressed, in fact, in order to reach the soul. Hence the
division of arts into two great classes,--arts addressed to hearing,
arts addressed to sight; on the one hand, music and poetry; on the
other, painting, with engraving, sculpture, architecture, gardening.

It will, perhaps, seem strange that we rank among the arts neither
eloquence, nor history, nor philosophy.

The arts are called the fine arts, because their sole object is to
produce the disinterested emotion of beauty, without regard to the
utility either of the spectator or the artist. They are also called the
liberal arts, because they are the arts of free men and not of slaves,
which affranchise the soul, charm and ennoble existence; hence the sense
and origin of those expressions of antiquity, _artes liberales_, _artes
ingenuæ_. There are arts without nobility, whose end is practical and
material utility; they are called trades, such as that of the
stove-maker and the mason. True art may be joined to them, may even
shine in them, but only in the accessories and the details.

Eloquence, history, philosophy, are certainly high employments of
intelligence; they have their dignity, their eminence, which nothing
surpasses, but rigorously speaking, they are not arts.

Eloquence does not propose to itself to produce in the soul of the
auditors the disinterested sentiment of beauty. It may also produce this
effect, but without having sought it. Its direct end, which it can
subordinate to no other, is to convince, to persuade. Eloquence has a
client which before all it must save or make triumph. It matters little,
whether this client be a man, a people, or an idea. Fortunate is the
orator if he elicits the expression: That is beautiful! for it is a
noble homage rendered to his talent; unfortunate is he if he does not
elicit this, for he has missed his end. The two great types of political
and religious eloquence, Demosthenes in antiquity, Bossuet among the
moderns, think only of the interest of the cause confided to their
genius, the sacred cause of country and that of religion; whilst at
bottom Phidias and Raphael work to make beautiful things. Let us hasten
to say, what the names of Demosthenes and Bossuet command us to say,
that true eloquence, very different from that of rhetoric, disdains
certain means of success; it asks no more than to please, but without
any sacrifice unworthy of it; every foreign ornament degrades it. Its
proper character is simplicity, earnestness--I do not mean affected
earnestness, a designed and artful gravity, the worst of all
deceptions--I mean true earnestness, that springs from sincere and
profound conviction. This is what Socrates understood by true

As much must be said of history and philosophy. The philosopher speaks
and writes. Can he, then, like the orator, find accents which make truth
enter the soul, colors and forms that make it shine forth evident and
manifest to the eyes of intelligence? It would be betraying his cause to
neglect the means that can serve it; but the profoundest art is here
only a means, the aim of philosophy is elsewhere; whence it follows that
philosophy is not an art. Without doubt, Plato is a great artist; he is
the peer of Sophocles and Phidias, as Pascal is sometimes the rival of
Demosthenes and Bossuet;[122] but both would have blushed if they had
discovered at the bottom of their soul another design, another aim than
the service of truth and virtue.

History does not relate for the sake of relating; it does not paint for
the sake of painting; it relates and paints the past that it may be the
living lesson of the future. It proposes to instruct new generations by
the experience of those who have gone before them, by exhibiting to them
a faithful picture of great and important events, with their causes and
their effects, with general designs and particular passions, with the
faults, virtues, and crimes that are found mingled together in human
things. It teaches the excellence of prudence, courage, and great
thoughts profoundly meditated, constantly pursued, and executed with
moderation and force. It shows the vanity of immoderate pretensions, the
power of wisdom and virtue, the impotence of folly and crime.
Thucydides, Polybius, and Tacitus undertake any thing else than
procuring new emotions for an idle curiosity or a worn-out imagination;
they doubtless desire to interest and attract, but more to instruct;
they are the avowed masters of statesmen and the preceptors of mankind.

The sole object of art is the beautiful. Art abandons itself as soon as
it shuns this. It is often constrained to make concessions to
circumstances, to external conditions that are imposed upon it; but it
must always retain a just liberty. Architecture and the art of gardening
are the least free of arts; they are subjected to unavoidable obstacles;
it belongs to the genius of the artist to govern these obstacles, and
even to draw from them happy effects, as the poet turns the slavery of
metre and rhyme into a source of unexpected beauties. Extreme liberty
may carry art to a caprice which degrades it, as chains too heavy crush
it. It is the death of architecture to subject it to convenience, to
_comfort_. Is the architect obliged to subordinate general effect and
the proportions of the edifice to such or such a particular end that is
prescribed to him? He takes refuge in details, in pediments, in friezes,
in all the parts that have not utility for a special object, and in them
he becomes a true artist. Sculpture and painting, especially music and
poetry, are freer than architecture and the art of gardening. One can
also shackle them, but they disengage themselves more easily.

Similar by their common end, all the arts differ by the particular
effects which they produce, and by the processes which they employ. They
gain nothing by exchanging their means and confounding the limits that
separate them. I bow before the authority of antiquity; but, perhaps,
through habit and a remnant of prejudice, I have some difficulty in
representing to myself with pleasure statues composed of several metals,
especially painted statues.[123] Without pretending that sculpture has
not to a certain point its color, that of perfectly pure matter, that
especially which the hand of time impresses upon it, in spite of all the
seductions of a contemporaneous[124] artist of great talent, I have
little taste, I confess, for that artifice that is forced to give to
marble the _morbidezza_ of painting. Sculpture is an austere muse; it
has its graces, but they are those of no other art. Flesh-color must
remain a stranger to it: there would nothing more remain to communicate
to it but the movement of poetry and the indefiniteness of music! And
what will music gain by aiming at the picturesque, when its proper
domain is the pathetic? Give to the most learned symphonist a storm to
render. Nothing is easier to imitate than the whistling of the winds and
the noise of thunder. But by what combinations of harmony will he
exhibit to the eyes the glare of the lightning rending all of a sudden
the veil of the night, and what is most fearful in the tempest, the
movement of the waves that now ascend like a mountain, now descend and
seem to precipitate themselves into bottomless abysses? If the auditor
is not informed of the subject, he will never suspect it, and I defy him
to distinguish a tempest from a battle. In spite of science and genius,
sounds cannot paint forms. Music, when well guided, will guard itself
from contending against the impossible; it will not undertake to express
the tumult and strife of the waves and other similar phenomena; it will
do more: with sounds it will fill the soul with the sentiments that
succeed each other in us during the different scenes of the tempest.
Haydn will thus become[125] the rival, even the vanquisher of the
painter, because it has been given to music to move and agitate the soul
more profoundly than painting.

Since the _Laocoon_ of Lessing, it is no longer permitted to repeat,
without great reserve, the famous axiom,--_Ut pictura poesis_; or, at
least, it is very certain that painting cannot do every thing that
poetry can do. Everybody admires the picture of Rumor, drawn by Virgil;
but let a painter try to realize this symbolic figure; let him represent
to us a huge monster with a hundred eyes, a hundred mouths, and a
hundred ears, whose feet touch the earth, whose head is lost in the
clouds, and such a figure will become very ridiculous.

So the arts have a common end, and entirely different means. Hence the
general rules common to all, and particular rules for each. I have
neither time nor space to enter into details on this point. I limit
myself to repeating, that the great law which governs all others, is
expression. Every work of art that does not express an idea signifies
nothing; in addressing itself to such or such a sense, it must penetrate
to the mind, to the soul, and bear thither a thought, a sentiment
capable of touching or elevating it. From this fundamental rule all the
others are derived; for example, that which is continually and justly
recommended,--composition. To this is particularly applied the precept
of unity and variety. But, in saying this, we have said nothing so long
as we have not determined the nature of the unity of which we would
speak. True unity, is unity of expression, and variety is made only to
spread over the entire work the idea or the single sentiment that it
should express. It is useless to remark, that between composition thus
defined, and what is often called composition, as the symmetry and
arrangement of parts according to artificial rules, there is an abyss.
True composition is nothing else than the most powerful means of

Expression not only furnishes the general rules of art, it also gives
the principle that allows of their classification.

In fact, every classification, supposes a principle that serves as a
common measure.

Such a principle has been sought in pleasure, and the first of arts has
seemed that which gives the most vivid joys. But we have proved that the
object of art is not pleasure:--the more or less of pleasure that an art
procures cannot, then, be the true measure of its value.

This measure is nothing else than expression. Expression being the
supreme end, the art that most nearly approaches it is the first of all.

All true arts are expressive, but they are diversely so. Take music; it
is without contradiction the most penetrating, the profoundest, the most
intimate art. There is physically and morally between a sound and the
soul a marvellous relation. It seems as though the soul were an echo in
which the sound takes a new power. Extraordinary things are recounted of
the ancient music. And it must not be believed that the greatness of
effect supposes here very complicated means. No, the less noise music
makes, the more it touches. Give some notes to Pergolese, give him
especially some pure and sweet voices, and he returns a celestial charm,
bears you away into infinite spaces, plunges you into ineffable
reveries. The peculiar power of music is to open to the imagination a
limitless career, to lend itself with astonishing facility to all the
moods of each one, to arouse or calm, with the sounds of the simplest
melody, our accustomed sentiments, our favorite affections. In this
respect music is an art without a rival:--however, it is not the first
of arts.

Music pays for the immense power that has been given it; it awakens more
than any other art the sentiment of the infinite, because it is vague,
obscure, indeterminate in its effects. It is just the opposite art to
sculpture, which bears less towards the infinite, because every thing in
it is fixed with the last degree of precision. Such is the force and at
the same time the feebleness of music, that it expresses every thing and
expresses nothing in particular. Sculpture, on the contrary, scarcely
gives rise to any reverie, for it clearly represents such a thing and
not such another. Music does not paint, it touches; it puts in motion
imagination, not the imagination that reproduces images, but that which
makes the heart beat, for it is absurd to limit imagination to the
domain of images.[126] The heart, once touched, moves all the rest of
our being; thus music, indirectly, and to a certain point, can recall
images and ideas; but its direct and natural power is neither on the
representative imagination nor intelligence, it is on the heart, and
that is an advantage sufficiently beautiful.

The domain of music is sentiment, but even there its power is more
profound than extensive, and if it expresses certain sentiments with an
incomparable force, it expresses but a very small number of them. By way
of association, it can awaken them all, but directly it produces very
few of them, and the simplest and the most elementary, too,--sadness and
joy with their thousand shades. Ask music to express magnanimity,
virtuous resolution, and other sentiments of this kind, and it will be
just as incapable of doing it, as of painting a lake or a mountain. It
goes about it as it can; it employs the slow, the rapid, the loud, the
soft, etc., but imagination has to do the rest, and imagination does
only what it pleases. The same measure reminds one of a mountain,
another of the ocean; the warrior finds in it heroic inspirations, the
recluse religious inspirations. Doubtless, words determine musical
expression, but the merit then is in the word, not in the music; and
sometimes the word stamps the music with a precision that destroys it,
and deprives it of its proper effects--vagueness, obscurity, monotony,
but also fulness and profundity, I was about to say infinitude. I do not
in the least admit that famous definition of song:--a noted declamation.
A simple declamation rightly accented is certainly preferable to
stunning accompaniments; but to music must be left its character, and
its defects and advantages must not be taken away from it. Especially it
must not be turned aside from its object, and there must not be demanded
from it what it could not give. It is not made to express complicated
and factitious sentiment, nor terrestrial and vulgar sentiments. Its
peculiar charm is to elevate the soul towards the infinite. It is
therefore naturally allied to religion, especially to that religion of
the infinite, which is at the same time the religion of the heart; it
excels in transporting to the feet of eternal mercy the soul trembling
on the wings of repentance, hope, and love. Happy are those, who, at
Rome, in the Vatican,[127] during the solemnities of the Catholic
worship, have heard the melodies of Leo, Durante, and Pergolese, on the
old consecrated text! They have entered heaven for a moment, and their
souls have been able to ascend thither without distinction of rank,
country, even belief, by those invisible and mysterious steps, composed,
thus to speak, of all the simple, natural, universal sentiments, that
everywhere on earth draw from the bosom of the human creature a sigh
towards another world!

Between sculpture and music, those two opposite extremes, is painting,
nearly as precise as the one, nearly as touching as the other. Like
sculpture, it marks the visible forms of objects, but adds to them life;
like music, it expresses the profoundest sentiments of the soul, and
expresses them all. Tell me what sentiment does not come within the
province of the painter? He has entire nature at his disposal, the
physical world, and the moral world, a churchyard, a landscape, a
sunset, the ocean, the great scenes of civil and religious life, all the
beings of creation, above all, the figure of man, and its expression,
that living mirror of what passes in the soul. More pathetic than
sculpture, clearer than music, painting is elevated, in my opinion,
above both, because it expresses beauty more under all its forms, and
the human soul in all the richness and variety of its sentiments.

But the art _par excellence_, that which surpasses all others, because
it is incomparably the most expressive, is poetry.

Speech is the instrument of poetry; poetry fashions it to its use, and
idealizes it, in order to make it express ideal beauty. Poetry gives to
it the charm and power of measure; it makes of it something intermediary
between the ordinary voice and music, something at once material and
immaterial, finite, clear, and precise, like contours and forms the most
definite, living and animated like color, pathetic and infinite like
sound. A word in itself, especially a word chosen and transfigured by
poetry, is the most energetic and universal symbol. Armed with this
talisman, poetry reflects all the images of the sensible world, like
sculpture and painting; it reflects sentiment like painting and music,
with all its varieties, which music does not attain, and in their rapid
succession that painting cannot follow, as precise and immobile as
sculpture; and it not only expresses all that, it expresses what is
inaccessible to every other art, I mean thought, entirely distinct from
the senses and even from sentiment,--thought that has no forms,--thought
that has no color, that lets no sound escape, that does not manifest
itself in any way,--thought in its highest flight, in its most refined

Think of it. What a world of images, of sentiments, of thoughts at once
distinct and confused, are excited within us by this one word--country!
and by this other word, brief and immense,--God! What is more clear and
altogether more profound and vast!

Tell the architect, the sculptor, the painter, even the musician, to
call forth also by a single stroke all the powers of nature and the
soul! They cannot, and by that they acknowledge the superiority of
speech and poetry.

They proclaim it themselves, for they take poetry for their own measure;
they esteem their own works, and demand that they should be esteemed, in
proportion as they approach the poetic ideal. And the human race does as
artists do: a beautiful picture, a noble melody, a living and expressive
statue, gives rise to the exclamation--How poetical! This is not an
arbitrary comparison; it is a natural judgment which makes poetry the
type of the perfection of all the arts,--the art _par excellence_,
which comprises all others, to which they aspire, which none can reach.

When the other arts would imitate the works of poetry, they usually err,
losing their own genius, without robbing poetry of its genius. But
poetry constructs according to its own taste palaces and temples, like
architecture; it makes them simple or magnificent; all orders, as well
as all systems, obey it; the different ages of art are the same to it;
it reproduces, if it pleases, the classic or the Gothic, the beautiful
or the sublime, the measured or the infinite. Lessing has been able,
with the exactest justice, to compare Homer to the most perfect
sculptor; with such precision are the forms which that marvellous chisel
gives to all beings determined! And what a painter, too, is Homer! and,
of a different kind, Dante! Music alone has something more penetrating
than poetry, but it is vague, limited, and fugitive. Besides its
clearness, its variety, its durability, poetry has also the most
pathetic accents. Call to mind the words that Priam utters at the feet
of Achilles while asking him for the dead body of his son, more than one
verse of Virgil, entire scenes of the _Cid_ and the _Polyeucte_, the
prayer of Esther kneeling before the Lord, the choruses of _Esther_ and
_Athalie_. In the celebrated song of Pergolese, _Stabat Mater Dolorosa_,
we may ask which moves most, the music or the words. The _Dies iræ, Dies
illa_, recited only, produces the most terrible effect. In those fearful
words, every blow tells, so to speak; each word contains a distinct
sentiment, an idea at once profound and determinate. The intellect
advances at each step, and the heart rushes on in its turn. Human speech
idealized by poetry has the depth and brilliancy of musical notes; it is
luminous as well as pathetic; it speaks to the mind as well as to the
heart; it is in that inimitable, unique, and embraces all extremes and
all contraries in a harmony that redoubles their reciprocal effect, in
which, by turns, appear and are developed, all images, all sentiments,
all ideas, all the human faculties, all the inmost recesses of the soul,
all the forms of things, all real and all intelligible worlds!


[120] Lecture 6.

[121] See the _Gorgias_, with the _Argument_, vol. iii. of our
translation of Plato.

[122] There is a _Provincial_ that for vehemence can be compared only to
the _Philipics_, and its fragment on the infinite has the grandeur and
magnificence of Bossuet. See our work on the _Thoughts of Pascal_, 4th
Series, _Literature_, vol. i.

[123] See the _Jupiter Olympien_ of M. Quatremère de Quincy.

[124] Allusion to the _Magdeleine_ of Canova, which was then to be seen
in the gallery of M. de Sommariva.

[125] See the _Tempest_ of Haydn, among the pianoforte works of this

[126] See lecture 6.

[127] I have not myself had the good fortune to hear the religious music
of the Vatican. Therefore, I shall let a competent judge, M. Quatremère
de Quincy, speak, _Considérations Morales sur les Destination des
Ouvrages de l'Art_, Paris, 1815, p. 98: "Let one call to mind those
chants so simple and so touching, that terminate at Rome the funeral
solemnities of those three days which the Church particularly devotes to
the expression of its grief, in the last week of Lent. In that nave
where the genius of Michael Angelo has embraced the duration of ages,
from the wonders of creation to the last judgment that must destroy its
works, are celebrated, in the presence of the Roman pontiff, those
nocturnal ceremonies whose rites, symbols, and plaintive liturgies seem
to be so many figures of the mystery of grief to which they are
consecrated. The light decreasing by degrees, at the termination of each
psalm, you would say that a funeral veil is extended little by little
over those religious vaults. Soon the doubtful light of the last lamp
allows you to perceive nothing but Christ in the distance, in the midst
of clouds, pronouncing his judgments, and some angel executors of his
behests. Then, at the bottom of a tribune interdicted to the regard of
the profane, is heard the psalm of the penitent king, to which three of
the greatest masters of the art have added the modulations of a simple
and pathetic chant. No instrument is mingled with those accents. Simple
harmonies of voice execute that music; but these voices seem to be those
of angels, and their effect penetrates the depths of the soul."

We have cited this beautiful passage--and we could have cited many
others, even superior to it--of a man now forgotten, and almost always
misunderstood, but whom posterity will put in his place. Let us
indicate, at least, the last pages of the same production, on the
necessity of leaving the works of art in the place for which they were
made, for example, the portrait of Mlle. de Vallière in the _Madeleine
aux Carmélites_, instead of transferring it to, and exposing it in the
apartments of Versailles, "the only place in the world," eloquently says
M. Quatremère, "which never should have seen it."



    Expression not only serves to appreciate the different arts, but
    the different schools of art. Example:--French art in the
    seventeenth century. French poetry:--Corneille. Racine. Molière.
    La Fontaine. Boileau.--Painting:--Lesueur. Poussin. Le Lorrain.
    Champagne.--Engraving.--Sculpture:--Sarrazin. The Anguiers.
    Girardon. Pujet.--Le Nôtre.--Architecture.

We believe that we have firmly established that all kinds of beauty,
although most dissimilar in appearance, may, when subjected to a serious
examination, be reduced to spiritual and moral beauty; that expression,
therefore, is at once the true object and the first law of art; that all
arts are such only so far as they express the idea concealed under the
form, and are addressed to the soul through the senses; finally, that in
expression the different arts find the true measure of their relative
value, and the most expressive art must be placed in the first rank.

If expression judges the different arts, does it not naturally follow,
that by the same title it can also judge the different schools which, in
each art, dispute with each other the empire of taste?

There is not one of these schools that does not represent in its own way
some side of the beautiful, and we are disposed to embrace all in an
impartial and kindly study. We are eclectics in the arts as well as in
metaphysics. But, as in metaphysics, the knowledge of all systems, and
the portion of truth that is in each, enlightens without enfeebling our
convictions; so, in the history of arts, while holding the opinion that
no school must be disdained, that even in China some shade of beauty can
be found, our eclecticism does not make us waver in regard to the
sentiment of true beauty and the supreme rule of art. What we demand of
the different schools, without distinction of time or place, what we see
in the south as well as in the north, at Florence, Rome, Venice, and
Seville, as well as at Antwerp, Amsterdam, and Paris,--wherever there
are men, is something human, is the expression of a sentiment or an

A criticism that should be founded on the principle of expression, would
somewhat derange, it must be confessed, received judgments, and would
carry some disorder into the hierarchy of the renowned. We do not
undertake such a revolution; we only propose to confirm, or at least
elucidate our principle by an example, and by an example that is at our

There is in the world a school formerly illustrious, now very lightly
treated:--this school is the French school of the seventeenth century.
We would replace it in honor, by recalling attention to the qualities
that make its glory.

We have worked with constancy to reinstate among us the philosophy of
Descartes, unworthily sacrificed to the philosophy of Locke, because
with its defects it possesses in our view the incomparable merit of
subordinating the senses to the mind, of elevating and ennobling man. So
we profess a serious and reflective admiration for our national art of
the seventeenth century, because, without disguising what is wanting to
it, we find in it what we prefer to every thing else, grandeur united to
good sense and reason, simplicity and force, genius of composition,
especially that of expression.

France, careless of her glory, does not appear to have the least notion
that she reckons in her annals perhaps the greatest century of humanity,
that which embraces the greatest number of extraordinary men of every
kind. When, I pray you, have politicians like Henry IV., Richelieu,
Mazarin, Colbert, Louis XIV. been seen giving each other the hand? I do
not pretend that each of them has no rival, even superiors. Alexander,
Cæsar, Charlemagne, perhaps excel them. But Alexander has but a single
contemporary that can be compared with him, his father Philip; Cæsar
cannot even have suspected that Octavius would one day be worthy of
him; Charlemagne is a colossus in a desert; whilst among us these five
men succeed each other without an interval, press upon each other, and
have, thus to speak, a single soul. And by what officers were they
served! Is Condé really inferior to Alexander, Hannibal, and Cæsar; for
among his predecessors we must not look for other rivals? Who among them
surpasses him in the extent and justness of his conceptions, in
quickness of sight, in rapidity of manoeuvres, in the union of
impetuosity and firmness, in the double glory of taker of cities and
gainer of battles? Add that he dealt with generals like Merci and
William, that he had under him Turenne and Luxemburg, without speaking
of so many other soldiers who were reared in that admirable school, and
at the hour of reverse still sufficed to save France.

What other time, at least among the moderns, has seen flourishing
together so many poets of the first order? We have, it is true, neither
Homer, nor Dante, nor Milton, nor even Tasso. The epic, with its
primitive simplicity, is interdicted us. But in the drama we scarcely
have equals. It is because dramatic poetry is the poetry that is adapted
to us, moral poetry _par excellence_, which represents man with his
different passions armed against each other, the violent contentions
between virtue and crime, the freaks of fortune, the lessons of
providence, and in a narrow compass, too, in which the events press upon
each other without confusion, in which the action rapidly progresses
towards the crisis that must reveal what is most intimate to the heart
of the personages.

Let us dare to say what we think, that, in our opinion, Æschylus,
Sophocles, and Euripides, together, do not equal Corneille; for none of
them has known and expressed like him what is of all things most truly
touching, a great soul at war with itself, between a generous passion
and duty. Corneille is the creator of a new pathetic unknown to
antiquity and to all the moderns before him. He disdains to address
common and subaltern passions; he does not seek to rouse terror and
pity, as demands Aristotle, who limits himself to erecting into maxims
the practice of the Greeks. Corneille seems to have read Plato, and
followed his precepts:--he addresses a most elevated part of human
nature, the noblest passion, the one nearest virtue,--admiration; and
from admiration carried to its culmination he draws the most powerful
effects. Shakspeare, we admit, is superior to Corneille in extent and
richness of dramatic genius. Entire human nature seems at his disposal,
and he reproduces the different scenes of life in their beauty and
deformity, in their grandeur and baseness. He excels in painting the
terrible or the gentle passions. Othello is jealousy, Lady Macbeth is
ambition, as Juliet and Desdemona are the immortal names of youthful and
unfortunate love. But if Corneille has less imagination, he has more
soul. Less varied, he is more profound. If he does not put upon the
stage so many different characters, those that he does put on it are the
greatest that can be offered to humanity. The scenes that he gives are
less heart-rending, but at once more delicate and more sublime. What is
the melancholy of Hamlet, the grief of King Lear, even the disdainful
intrepidity of Cæsar, in comparison with the magnanimity of Augustus
striving to be master of himself as well as the universe, in comparison
with Chimène sacrificing love to honor, especially in comparison with
Pauline, not suffering even at the bottom of her heart an involuntary
sigh for the one that she must not love? Corneille always confines
himself to the highest regions. He is by turns Roman and Christian. He
is the interpreter of heroes, the chanter of virtue, the poet of
warriors and politicians.[128] And it must not be forgotten that
Shakspeare is almost alone in his times, whilst after Corneille comes
Racine, who would suffice for the poetical glory of a nation.

Racine assuredly cannot be compared with Corneille for dramatic genius;
he is more the man of letters; he has not the tragic soul; he neither
loves nor understands politics and war. When he imitates Corneille, for
example, in Alexander, and even in Mithridates, he imitates him badly
enough. The scene, so vaunted, of Mithridates exposing his plan of
campaign to his sons is a morsel of the finest rhetoric, which cannot be
compared with the political and military scenes of Cinna and Sertorius,
especially with that first scene of the Death of Pompey, in which you
witness a counsel as true, as grand, as profound as ever could have been
one of the counsels of Richelieu or Mazarin. Racine was not born to
paint heroes, but he paints admirably man with his natural passions, and
the most natural as well as the most touching of all, love. So he
particularly excels in feminine characters. For men he has need of being
sustained by Tacitus or holy Scripture.[129] With woman he is at his
ease, and he makes them think and speak with perfect truth, set off by
exquisite art. Demand of him neither Emilie, Cornélie, nor Pauline; but
listen to Andromaque, Monime, Bérénice, and Phèdre! There, even in
imitating, he is original, and leaves the ancients very far behind him.
Who has taught him that charming delivery, those graceful troubles, that
purity even in feebleness, that melancholy, sometimes even that depth,
with that marvellous language which seems the natural accent of woman's
heart? It is continually repeated that Racine wrote better than
Corneille:--say only that the two wrote very differently, and like men
in very different epochs. One has two sovereign qualities, which belong
to his own nature and his times, a _naïveté_ and grandeur, the other is
not _naïve_, but he has too much taste not to be always simple, and he
supplies the place of grandeur, forever lost, with consummate elegance.
Corneille speaks the language of statesmen, soldiers, theologians,
philosophers, and clever women; of Richelieu, Rohan, Saint-Cyran,
Descartes, and Pascal; of mother Angélique Arnaud and mother Madeleine
de Saint-Joseph; the language which Molière still spoke, which Bossuet
preserved to his last breath. Racine speaks that of Louis XIV. and the
women who were the ornament of his court. I suppose that thus spoke
Madame, the amiable, sprightly, and unfortunate Henriette; thus wrote
the author of the _Princesse de Clèves_ and the author of _Télémaque_.
Or, rather, this language is that of Racine himself, of that feeble and
tender soul, which passed quickly from love to devotion, which uttered
its complaints in lyric poetry, which was wholly poured out in the
choruses of _Esther_ and _Athalie_, and in the _Cantiques Spirituels_;
that soul, so easy to be moved, that a religious ceremony or a
representation of _Esther_ at Saint-Cyr touched to tears, that pitied
the misfortunes of the people, that found in its pity and its charity
the courage to speak one day the truth to Louis XIV., and was
extinguished by the first breath of disgrace.

Molière is, in comparison with Aristophanes, what Corneille is, in
comparison with Shakspeare. The author of _Plutus_, the _Wasps_, and the
_Clouds_, has doubtless an imagination, an explosive buffoonery, a
creative power, above all comparison. Molière has not as great poetical
conceptions: he has more, perhaps; he has characters. His coloring is
less brilliant, his graver is more penetrating. He has engraved in the
memory of men a certain number of irregularities and vices which will
ever be called _l'Avare_ (_the Miser_), _le Malade Imaginaire_ (the
_Hypochondriac_), _les Femmes Savantes_ (the _Learned Women_), _le
Tartufe_ (the _Hypocrite_), and _Don Juan_, not to speak of the
_Misanthrope_, a piece apart, touching as pleasant, which is not
addressed to the crowd, and cannot be popular, because it expresses a
ridicule rare enough, excess in the passion of truth and honor.

Of all fabulists, ancient and modern, does any one, even the ingenious,
the pure, the elegant Phædrus, approach our La Fontaine? He composes his
personages, and puts them in action with the skill of Molière; he knows
how to take on occasion the tone of Horace, and mingle an ode with a
fable; he is at once the most naïve, and the most refined of writers,
and his art disappears in its very perfection. We do not speak of the
tales, first, because we condemn the kind, then, because La Fontaine
displays in them qualities more Italian than French, a narrative full of
nature, malice, and grace, but without any of those profound, tender,
melancholy traits, that place among the greatest poets of all time the
author of the _Two Pigeons_ (_Deux Pigeons_), the _Old Man_
(_Vieillard_), and the _Three Young Persons_ (_Gens_).

We do not hesitate to put Boileau among these great men. He comes after
them, it is true, but he belongs to their company: he comprehends them,
loves them, sustains them. It was he, who, in 1663, after the _School of
Women_ (_l'Ecole des Femmes_) and long before the _Hypocrite_ (_le
Tartufe_), and the _Misanthrope_, proclaimed Molière the master in the
art of verse. It was he who, in 1677, after the failure of _Phèdre_,
defended the vanquisher of Euripides against the successes of Pradon. It
was he who, in advance of posterity, first put in light what is new and
entirely original in the plays of Corneille.[130] He saved the pension
of the old tragedian by offering the sacrifice of his own. Louis XIV.
asking him what writer most honored his reign, Boileau answered, that it
was Molière; and when the great king in his decline persecuted
Port-Royal, and wished to lay hands on Arnaud, he encountered a man of
letters, who said to the face of the imperious monarch,--"Your Majesty
in vain seeks M. Arnaud, you are too fortunate to find him." Boileau is
somewhat wanting in imagination and invention; but he is great in the
energetic sentiment of truth and justice; he carries to the extent of
passion taste for the beautiful and the honest; he is a poet by force
of soul and good sense. More than once his heart dictated to him the
most pathetic verses:

    "In vain against the Cid a minister is leagued,[131]
    All Paris for Chimène the eyes of Rodrique," etc.

           *       *       *       *       *

    "After a little spot of earth, obtained by prayer,
    Forever in the tomb had inclosed Molière," etc.

And this epitaph of Arnaud, so simple and so grand:[132]

    "At the feet of this altar of structure gross,
    Lies without pomp, inclosed in a coffin vile,
    The most learned mortal that ever wrote;
    Arnaud, who in grace instructed by Jesus Christ,
    Combating for the Church, has, in the Church itself,
    Suffered more than one outrage and more than one anathema," etc.

           *       *       *       *       *

    "Wandering, poor, banished, proscribed, persecuted;
    And even by his death their ill-extinguished rage
    Had never left his ashes in repose,
    If God himself here by his holy flock
    From these devouring wolves had not concealed his bones."[133]

These are, I think, poets sufficiently great, and we have more of them
still: I mean those charming or sublime minds who have elevated prose
to poetry. Greece alone, in her most beautiful days, offers, perhaps,
such a variety of admirable prose writers. Who can enumerate them? At
first, Rabelais and Montaigne; later, Descartes, Pascal, and
Malebranche; La Rochefoucauld and La Bruyère; Retz and Saint-Simon;
Bourdaloue, Fléchier, Fénelon, and Bossuet; add to these so many eminent
women, at their head Madame de Sévigné; while Montesquieu, Voltaire,
Rousseau, and Buffon are still to come.[134]

By what strange diversity could a country, in which the mental arts
were carried to such perfection, remain ordinary in the other arts? Was
the sentiment of the beautiful wanting, then, to that society so
polished, to that magnificent court, to those great lords and those
great ladies passionately loving luxury and elegance, to that public of
the _élite_, enamored of every kind of glory, whose enthusiasm defended
the _Cid_ against Richelieu? No; France in the seventeenth century was a
whole, and produced artists that she can place by the side of her poets,
her philosophers, her orators.

But, in order to admire our artists, it is necessary to comprehend them.

We do not believe that imagination has been less freely imparted to
France than to any other nation of Europe. It has even had its reign
among us. It is fancy that rules in the sixteenth century, and inspires
the literature and the arts of the _Renaissance_. But a great revolution
intervened at the commencement of the seventeenth century. France at
that moment seems to pass from youth to virility. Instead of abandoning
imagination to itself, we apply ourselves from that moment to restrain
it without destroying it, to moderate it, as the Greeks did by the aid
of taste; as in the progress of life and society we learn to repress or
conceal what is too individual in character. An end is made of the
literature of the preceding age. A new poetry, a new prose, begin to
appear, which, during an entire century, bear fruits sufficiently
beautiful. Art follows the general movement; after having been elegant
and graceful, it becomes in its turn serious; it no longer aims at
originality and extraordinary effects; it neither flashes nor dazzles;
it speaks, above all, to the mind and the soul. Hence its good qualities
and also its defects. In general, it is somewhat wanting in brilliancy
and coloring, but it is in the highest degree expressive.

Some time since we have changed all that. We have discovered, somewhat
late, that we have not sufficient imagination; we are in training to
acquire it, it is true, at the expense of reason, alas! also at the
expense of soul, which is forgotten, repudiated, proscribed. At this
moment, color and form are the order of the day, in poetry, in painting,
in every thing. We are beginning to run mad with Spanish painting. The
Flemish and Venetian schools are gaining ground on the schools of
Florence and Rome. Rossini equals Mozart, and Gluck will soon seem to us

Young artists, who, rightly disgusted with the dry and inanimate manner
of David, undertake to renovate French painting, who would rob the sun
of its heat and splendor, remember that of all beings in the world, the
greatest is still man, and that what is greatest in man is his
intelligence, and above all, his heart; that it is this heart, then,
which you must put and develop on your canvas. This is the most elevated
object of art. In order to reach it, do not make yourselves disciples of
Flemings, Venetians, and Spaniards; return, return to the masters of our
great national school of the seventeenth century.

We bow with respectful admiration before the schools of Rome and
Florence, at once ideal and living; but, those excepted, we maintain
that the French school equals or surpasses all others. We prefer neither
Murillo, Rubens, Corregio, nor Titian himself to Lesueur and Poussin,
because, if the former have an incomparable hand and color, our two
countrymen are much greater in thought and expression.

What a destiny was that of Eustache Lesueur![135] He was born at Paris
about 1617, and he never went out of it. Poor and humble, he passed his
life in the churches and convents where he worked. The only sweetness of
his sad days, his only consolation was his wife: he loses her, and goes
to die, at thirty-eight, in that cloister of Chartreux, which his pencil
has immortalized. What resemblance at once, and what difference between
his life and that of Raphael, who also died young, but in the midst of
pleasures, in honors, and already almost in purple! Our Raphael was not
the lover of Fornarina and the favorite of a pope: he was Christian; he
is Christianity in art.

Lesueur is a genius wholly French. Scarcely having escaped from the
hands of Simon Vouët, he formed himself according to the model which he
had in the soul. He never saw the sky of Italy. He knew some fragments
of the antique, some pictures of Raphael, and the designs that Poussin
sent him. With these feeble resources, and guided by a happy instinct,
in less than ten years he mounted by a continual progress to the
perfection of his talent, and expired at the moment when, finally sure
of himself, he was about to produce new and more admirable
master-pieces. Follow him from the _St. Bruno_ completed in 1648,
through the _St. Paul_ of 1649, to the _Vision of St. Benedict_ in 1651,
and to the _Muses_, scarcely finished before his death. Lesueur went on
adding to his essential qualities which he owed to his own genius, and
to the national genius, I mean composition and expression, qualities
which he had dreamed of, or had caught glimpses of. His design from day
to day became more pure, without ever being that of the Florentine
school, and the same is true of his coloring.

In Lesueur every thing is directed towards expression, every thing is in
the service of the mind, every thing is idea and sentiment. There is no
affectation, no mannerism; there is a perfect _naïveté_; his figures
sometimes would seem even a little common, so natural are they, if a
Divine breath did not animate them. It must not be forgotten that his
favorite subjects do not exact a brilliant coloring: he oftenest
retraces scenes mournful or austere. But as in Christianity by the side
of suffering and resignation is faith with hope, so Lesueur joins to the
pathetic sweetness and grace; and this man charms me at the same time
that he moves me.

The works of Lesueur are almost always great wholes that demanded
profound meditation, and the most flexible talent, in order to preserve
in them unity of subject, and to give them variety and harmony. The
_History of St. Bruno_, the founder of the order _des Chartreux_, is a
vast melancholy poem, in which are represented the different scenes of
monastic life. The _History of St. Martin and St. Benedict_ has not
come down to us entire; but the two fragments of it that we possess, the
_Mass of St. Martin_, and the _Vision of St. Benedict_, allow us to
compare that great work with every better thing of the kind that has
been done in Italy, as, to speak sincerely, the _Muses_ and the _History
of Love_, appear to us to equal at least the Farnesina.

In the _History of St. Bruno_, it is particularly necessary to remark
St. Bruno, prostrated before a crucifix, the saint reading a letter of
the pope, his death, his apotheosis. Is it possible to carry meditation,
humiliation, rapture farther? _St. Paul preaching at Ephesus_ reminds
one of the _School of Athens_, by the extent of the scene, the
employment of architecture, and the skilful distribution of groups. In
spite of the number of personages, and the diversity of episodes, the
picture wholly centres in St. Paul. He preaches, and upon his words hang
those who are listening, of every sex, of every age, in the most varied
attitudes. In that we behold the grand lines of the Roman school, its
design full of nobleness and truth at the same time. What charming and
grave heads! What graceful, bold, and always natural movements! Here,
that child with ringlets, full of _naïve_ enthusiasm; there, that old
man with bended knees, and hands joined. Are not all those beautiful
heads, and those draperies, too, worthy of Raphael? But the marvel of
the picture is the figure of St. Paul,[136]--it is that of the Olympic
Jupiter, animated by a new spirit. The _Mass of St. Martin_ carries into
the soul an impression of peace and silence. The _Vision of St.
Benedict_ has the character of simplicity full of grandeur. A desert,
the saint on his knees, contemplating his sister, St. Scholastique, who
is ascending to heaven, borne up by angels, accompanied by two young
girls, crowned with flowers, and bearing the palm, the symbol of
virginity. St. Peter and St. Paul show St. Benedict the abode whither
his sister is going to enjoy eternal peace. A slight ray of the sun
pierces the cloud. St. Benedict is as it were lifted up from the earth
by this ecstatic vision. One scarcely desires a more lively color, and
the expression is divine. Those two virgins, a little too tall, perhaps,
how beautiful and pure they are! How sweet are those forms! How grave
and gentle are those faces! The person of the holy monk, with all the
material accessories, is perfectly natural, for it remains on the earth;
whilst his face, where his soul shines forth, is wholly ideal, and
already in heaven.

But the _chef-d'oeuvre_ of Lesueur is, in our opinion, the _Descent
from the Cross_, or rather the enshrouding of Jesus Christ, already
descended from the cross, whom Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus, and St.
John are placing in the shroud. On the left, Magdalen, in tears, kisses
the feet of Jesus; on the right, are the holy women and the Virgin. It
is impossible to carry the pathetic farther and preserve beauty. The
holy women, placed in front, have each their particular grief. While one
of them abandons herself to despair, an immense but internal and
thoughtful sadness is upon the face of the mother of the crucified. She
has comprehended the divine benefit of the redemption of the human race,
and her grief, sustained by this thought, is calm and resigned. And then
what dignity in that head! It, in some sort, sums up the whole picture,
and gives to it its character, that of a profound and subdued emotion. I
have seen many _Descents from the Cross_; I have seen that of Rubens at
Antwerp, in which the sanctity of the subject has, as it were,
constrained the great Flemish painter to join sensibility and sentiment
to color; none of those pictures have touched me like that of Lesueur.
All the parts of art are there in the service of expression. The drawing
is severe and strong; even the color, without being brilliant, surpasses
that of the _St. Bruno_, the _Mass of St. Martin_, the _St. Paul_, and
even that of the _Vision of St. Benedict_; as if Lesueur had wished to
bring together in it all the powers of his soul, all the resources of
his talent![137]

Now, regard the _Muses_,--other scenes, other beauties, the same genius.
Those are Pagan pictures, but Christianity is in them also, by reason of
the adorable chastity with which Lesueur has clothed them. All critics
have emulously shown the mythological errors into which poor Lesueur
fell, and they have not wanted occasion to deplore that he had not made
the journey to Italy and studied antiquity more. But who can have the
strange idea of searching in Lesueur for an archeology? I seek and find
in him the very genius of painting. Is not that Terpsichore, well or ill
named, with a harp a little too strong, it is said, as if the Muse had
no particular gift, in her modest attitude the symbol of becoming grace?
In that group of three Muses, to which one may give what name he
pleases, is not the one that holds upon her knees a book of music, who
sings or is about to sing, the most ravishing creature, a St. Cecilia
that preludes just before abandoning herself to the intoxication of
inspiration? And in those pictures there is brilliancy and coloring; the
landscape is beautifully lighted, as if Poussin had guided the hand of
his friend.

Poussin! What a name I pronounce. If Lesueur is the painter of
sentiment, Poussin is the painter of thought. He is in some sort the
philosopher of painting. His pictures are religious or moral lectures
that testify a great mind as well as a great heart. It is sufficient to
recall the _Seven Sacraments_, the _Deluge_, the _Arcadia_, the _Truth
that Time frees from the Taints of Envy_, the _Will of Eudamidas_, and
the _Dance of Human Life_. And the style is equal to the conception.
Poussin draws like a Florentine, composes like a Frenchman, and often
equals Lesueur in expression; coloring alone is sometimes wanting to
him. As well as Racine, he is smitten with the antique beauty, and
imitates it; but, like Racine, he always remains original. In place of
the naïveté and unique charm of Lesueur, he has a severe simplicity,
with a correctness that never abandons him. Remember, too, that he
cultivated every kind of painting. He is at once a great historical
painter and a great landscape painter,--he treats religious subjects as
well as profane subjects, and by turns is inspired by antiquity and the
Bible. He lived much at Rome, it is true, and died there; but he also
worked in France, and almost always for France. Scarcely had he become
known, when Richelieu attracted him to Paris and retained him there,
loading him with honors, and giving him the commission of first painter
in ordinary to the king, with the general direction of all the works of
painting, and all the ornaments of the royal houses. During that sojourn
of two years in Paris, he made the _Last Supper_ (_Cène_), the _St.
François Xavier_, the _Truth that Time frees from the Taints of Envy_.
It was also to France, to his friend M. de Chantelou, that from Rome he
addressed the _Inspiration of St. Paul_, as well as the second series of
the _Seven Sacraments_, an immense composition that, for grandeur of
thought, can vie with the _Stanze_ of Raphael. I speak of it from the
engravings; for the _Seven Sacraments_ are no longer in France. Eternal
shame of the eighteenth century! It was at least necessary to wrest from
the Greeks the pediments of the Parthenon,--we, we delivered up to
strangers, we sold all those monuments of French genius which Richelieu
and Mazarin, with religious care, had collected. Public indignation did
not avert the act! And there has not since been found in France a king,
a statesman, to interdict letting the master-pieces of art that honor
the nation depart without authorization from the national
territory![138] There has not been found a government which has
undertaken at least to repurchase those that we have lost, to get back
again the great works of Poussin, Lesueur, and so many others, scattered
in Europe, instead of squandering millions to acquire the baboons of
Holland, as Louis XIV. said, or Spanish canvasses, in truth of an
admirable color, but without nobleness and moral expression.[139] I know
and I love the Dutch pastorals and the cows of Potter; I am not
insensible to the sombre and ardent coloring of Zurbaran, to the
brilliant Italian imitations of Murillo and Velasquez; but in fine, what
is all that in comparison with serious and powerful compositions like
the _Seven Sacraments_, for example, that profound representation of
Christian rites, a work of the highest faculties of the intellect and
the soul, in which the intellect and the soul will ever find an
exhaustless subject of study and meditation! Thank God, the graver of
Pesne has saved them from our ingratitude and barbarity. Whilst the
originals decorate the gallery of a great English lord,[140] the love
and the talent of a Pesne, of a Stella, have preserved for us faithful
copies in those expressive engravings that one never grows tired of
contemplating, that every time we examine them, reveal to us some new
side of the genius of our great countryman. Regard especially the
_Extreme Unction!_ What a sublime and at the same time almost graceful
scene! One would call it an antique bas-relief, so many groups are
properly distributed in it, with natural and varied attitudes. The
draperies are as admirable as those of a fragment of the _Panathenæa_,
which is in the Louvre. The figures are all beautiful. Beauty of figures
belongs to sculpture, one is about to say:--yes, but it also belongs to
painting, if you have yourself the eye of the painter, if you have been
struck with the expression of those postures, those heads, those
gestures, and almost those looks; for every thing lives, every thing
breathes, even in those engravings, and if it were the place, we would
endeavor to make the reader penetrate with us into those secrets of
Christian sentiment which are also the secrets of art.

We endeavor to console ourselves for having lost the _Seven
Sacraments_, and for not having known how to keep from England and
Germany so many productions of Poussin, now buried in foreign
collections,[141] by going to see at the Louvre what remains to us of
the great French artist,--thirty pictures produced at different epochs
of his life, which, for the most part, worthily sustain his renown,--the
portrait of _Poussin_, one of the _Bacchanals_ made for Richelieu, _Mars
and Venus_, the _Death of Adonis_, the _Rape of the Sabines_,[142]
_Eliezer and Rebecca_, _Moses saved from the Waters_, the _Infant Jesus
on the Knees of the Virgin and St. Joseph standing by_,[143] especially
the _Manna in the Desert_, the _Judgment of Solomon_, the _Blind Men of
Jericho_, the _Woman taken in Adultery_, the _Inspiration of St. Paul_,
the _Diogenes_, the _Deluge_, the _Arcadia_. Time has turned the color,
which was never very brilliant; but it has not been able to disturb what
will make them live forever,--the design, the composition, and the
expression. The _Deluge_ has remained, and in fact will always be, the
most striking. After so many masters who have treated the same subject,
Poussin has found the secret of being original, and more pathetic than
his predecessors, in representing the solemn moment when the race is
about to disappear. There are few details; some dead bodies are floating
upon the abyss; a sinister-looking moon has scarcely risen; a few
moments and mankind will be no more; the last mother uselessly extends
her last child to the last father, who cannot take it, and the serpent
that has destroyed mankind darts forth triumphant. We try in vain to
find in the Deluge some signs of a trembling hand: the soul that
sustained and conducted that hand makes itself felt by our soul, and
profoundly moves it. Stop at that scene of mourning, and almost by its
side let your eyes rest upon that fresh landscape and upon those
shepherds that surround a tomb. The most aged, with a knee on the
ground, reads these words graven upon the stone: _Et in Arcadia ego_,
and I also lived in Arcadia. At the left a shepherd listens with serious
attention. At the right is a charming group, composed of a shepherd in
the spring-time of life, and a young girl of ravishing beauty. An
artless admiration is painted on the face of the young peasant, who
looks with happiness on his beautiful companion. As for her, her
adorable face is not even veiled with the slightest shade; she smiles,
her hand resting carelessly upon the shoulder of the young man, and she
has no appearance of comprehending that lecture given to beauty, youth,
and love. I confess that, for this picture alone, of so touching a
philosophy, I would give many master-pieces of coloring, all the
pastorals of Potter, all the badinages of Ostade, all the buffooneries
of Teniers.

Lesueur and Poussin, by very different but nearly equal titles, are at
the head of our great painting of the seventeenth century. After them,
what artists again are Claude Lorrain and Philippe de Champagne?

Do you know in Italy or Holland a greater landscape painter than Claude?
And seize well his true character. Look at those vast and beautiful
solitudes, lighted by the first or last rays of the sun, and tell me
whether those solitudes, those trees, those waters, those mountains,
that light, that silence,--whether all that nature has a soul, and
whether those luminous and pure horizons do not lift you involuntarily,
in ineffable reveries, to the invisible source of beauty and grace!
Lorrain is, above all, the painter of light, and his works might be
called the history of light and all its combinations, in small and
great, when it is poured out over large plains or breaks in the most
varied accidents, on land, on waters, in the heavens, in its eternal
source. The human scenes thrown into one corner have no other object
than to relieve and make appear to advantage the scenes of nature by
harmony or contrast. In the _Village Fête_, life, noise, movement are in
front,--peace and grandeur are at the foundation of the landscape, and
that is truly the picture. The same effect is in the _Cattle Crossing a
River_. The landscape placed immediately under your eyes has nothing in
it very rare, we can find such a one anywhere; but follow the
perspective,--it leads you across flowering fields, a beautiful river,
ruins, mountains that overlook these ruins, and you lose yourself in
infinite distances. That Landscape crossed by a river, where a peasant
waters his herd, means nothing great at first sight. Contemplate it some
time, and peace, a sort of meditativeness in nature, a well-graduated
perspective, will, little by little, gain your heart, and give you in
that small picture a penetrating charm. The picture called a _Landscape_
represents a vast champagne filled with trees, and lighted by the rising
sun,--in it there is freshness and--already--warmth, mystery, and
splendor, with skies of the sweetest harmony. _A Dance at Sunset_
expresses the close of a beautiful day. One sees in it, one feels in it
the decline of the heat of the day; in the foreground are some shepherds
and shepherdesses dancing by the side of their flocks.[144]

Is it not strange, that Champagne has been put in the Flemish
school?[145] He was born at Brussels, it is true, but he came very early
to Paris, and his true master was Poussin, who counselled him. He
devoted his talent to France, lived there, died there, and what is
decisive, his manner is wholly French. Will it be said that he owes to
Flanders his color? We respond that this quality is balanced by a grave
defect that he also owes to Flanders, the want of ideality in the
figures; and it was from France that he learned how to repair this
defect by beauty of moral expression. Champagne is inferior to Lesueur
and Poussin, but he is of their family. He was, also, of those artists
contemporaneous with Corneille, simple, poor, virtuous, Christian.[146]
Champagne worked both for the convent of the Carmelites in the _Rue St.
Jacques_, that venerable abode of ardent and sublime piety, and
Port-Royal, that place of all others that contained in the smallest
space the most virtue and genius, so many admirable men and women worthy
of them. What has become of that famous crucifix that he painted for the
Church of the Carmelites, a master-piece of perspective that upon a
horizontal plane appeared perpendicular? It perished with the holy
house. The _Last Supper_ (_Cène_) is a living picture, on account of the
truth of all the figures, movements, and postures, but to my eyes it is
blemished by the absence of the ideal. I am obliged to say as much of
the _Repast with Simon the Pharisee_. The _chef-d'oeuvre_ of Champagne
is the _Apparition of St. Gervais and St. Protais to St. Ambrose in a
Basilica of Milan_. All the qualities of French art are seen in
it,--simplicity and grandeur in composition, with a profound expression.
On that canvas are only four personages, the two martyrs and St. Paul,
who presents them to St. Ambrose. Those four figures fill the temple,
lighted above all in the obscurity of the night, by the luminous
apparition. The two martyrs are full of majesty. St. Ambrose, kneeling
and in prayer, is, as it were, seized with terror.[147]

I certainly admire Champagne as an historical painter, and even as a
landscape painter; but he is perhaps greatest as a portrait painter. In
portraits truth and nature are particularly in their place, relieved by
coloring, and idealized in proper measure by expression. The portraits
of Champagne are so many monuments in which his most illustrious
contemporaries will live forever. Every thing about them is strikingly
real, grave, and severe, with a penetrating sweetness. Should the
records of Port-Royal be lost, all Port-Royal might be found in
Champagne. Among those portraits we see the inflexible Saint-Cyran,[148]
as well as his persecutor, the imperious Richelieu.[149] We see, too,
the learned, the intrepid Antoine Arnaud, to whom the contemporaries of
Bossuet decreed the name of Great;[150] and Mme. Angélique Arnaud, with
her naïve and strong figure.[151] Among them is mother Agnes and the
humble daughter of Champagne himself, sister St. Suzanne.[152] She has
just been miraculously cured, and her whole prostrated person bears
still the impress of a relic of suffering. Mother Agnes, kneeling before
her, regards her with a look of grateful joy. The place of the scene is
a poor cell; a wooden cross hanging on the wall, and some straw chairs,
are all the ornaments. On the picture is the inscription,--_Christo uni
medico animarum et corporum_, etc. There is possessed the Christian
stoicism of Port-Royal in its imposing austerity. Add to all these
portraits that of Champagne;[153] for the painter may be put by the side
of his personages.

Had France produced in the seventeenth century only these four great
artists, it would be necessary to give an important place to the French
school; but she counts many other painters of the greatest merit. Among
these we may distinguish P. Mignard, so much admired in his times, so
little known now, and so worthy of being known. How have we been able to
let fall into oblivion the author of the immense fresco of
_Val-de-grâce_, so celebrated by Molière, which is perhaps the greatest
page of painting in the world![154] What strikes at first, in this
gigantic work, is the order and harmony. Then come a thousand charming
details and innumerable episodes which form themselves important
compositions. Remark also the brilliant and sweet coloring which should
at least obtain favor for so many other beauties of the first order.
Again, it is to the pencil of Mignard that we owe that ravishing ceiling
of a small apartment of the King at Versailles, a master-piece now
destroyed, but of which there remains to us a magnificent translation in
the beautiful engraving of Gerard Audran. What profound expression in
the _Plague of Æacus_,[155] and in the _St. Charles giving the
Communion to the Plague-infected of Milan_! Mignard is recognized as
one of our best portrait painters: grace, sometimes a little too
refined, is joined in him to sentiment. The French school can also
present with pride Valentin, who died young and was so full of promise;
Stella, the worthy friend of Poussin, the uncle of Claudine, Antoinette,
and Françoise Stella; Lahyre, who has so much spirit and taste;[156]
Sébastien Bourdon, so animated and elevated;[157] the Lenains, who
sometimes have the _naïveté_ of Lesueur and the color of Champagne;
Bourguignon, full of fire and enthusiasm; Jouvenet, whose composition is
so good;[158] finally, besides so many others, Lebrun, whom it is now
the fashion to treat cavalierly, who received from nature, with perhaps
an immoderate passion for fame, passion for the beautiful of every kind,
and a talent of admirable flexibility,--the true painter of a great king
by the richness and dignity of his manner, who, like Louis XIV.,
worthily closes the seventeenth century.[159]

Since we have spoken somewhat extensively of painting, would it not be
unjust to pass in silence over engraving, its daughter, or its sister?
Certainly it is not an art of ordinary importance; we have excelled in
it; we have above all carried it to its perfection in portraits. Let us
be equitable to ourselves. What school--and we are not unmindful of
those of Marc' Antonio, Albert Durer, and Rembrandt--can present such a
succession of artists of this kind? Thomas de Leu and Léonard Gautier
make in some sort the passage from the sixteenth to the seventeenth
century. Then come a crowd of men of the most diverse talents,--Mellan,
Michel Lasne, Morin, Daret, Huret, Masson, Nanteuil, Drevet, Van
Schupen, the Poillys, the Edelincks, and the Audrans. Gérard Edelinck
and Nanteuil alone have a popular renown, and they merit it by the
delicacy, splendor, and charm of their graver. But the connoisseurs of
elevated taste find at least their rivals in engravers now less admired,
because they do not flatter the eye so much, but have, perhaps, more
truth and vigor. It must also be said, that the portraits of these two
masters have not the historic importance of those of their predecessors.
The _Condé_ of Nanteuil is justly admired; but if we wish to know the
great Condé, the conqueror of Rocroy and Lens, we must not demand him
from Nanteuil, but from Huret, Michel Lasne, and Daret,[160] who
designed and engraved him in all his force and heroic beauty. Edelinck
and Nanteuil himself scarcely knew and retraced the seventeenth century,
except at the approach of its decline.[161] Morin and Mellan were able
to see it, and transmit it in its glorious youth. Morin is the Champagne
of engraving: he does not engrave, he paints. It is he who represents
and transmits to posterity the illustrious men of the first half of the
great century--Henry IV., Louis XIII., the de Thous, Bérulle, Jansenius,
Saint-Cyran, Marillac, Bentivoglio, Richelieu, Mazarin, still young,
and Retz, when he was only a coadjutor.[162] Mellan had the same
advantage. He is the first in date of all the engravers of the
seventeenth century, and perhaps is also the most expressive. With a
single line, it seems that from his hands only shades can spring; he
does not strike at first sight; but the more we regard him, the more he
seizes, penetrates, and touches, like Lesueur.[163]

Christianity, that is to say, the reign of the spirit, is favorable to
painting, is particularly expressive. Sculpture seems to be a pagan art;
for, if it must also contain moral expression, it is always under the
imperative condition of beauty of form. This is the reason why sculpture
is as it were natural to antiquity, and appeared there with an
incomparable splendor, before which painting somewhat paled,[164] whilst
among the moderns it has been eclipsed by painting, and has remained
very inferior to it, by reason of the extreme difficulty of bringing
stone and marble to express Christian sentiment, without which, material
beauty suffers; so that our sculpture is too insignificant to be
beautiful, too mannered to be expressive. Since antiquity, there have
scarcely been two schools of sculpture:[165]--one at Florence, before
Michael Angelo, and especially with Michael Angelo; the other in
France, at the _Renaissance_, with Jean Cousin, Goujon, Germain Pilon.
We may say that these three artists have, as it were, shared among
themselves grandeur and grace: to the first belong nobility and force,
with profound knowledge;[166] to the other two, an elegance full of
charm. Sculpture changes its character in the seventeenth century as
well as every thing else: it no longer has the same attraction, but it
finds moral and religious inspiration, which the skilful masters of the
_Renaissance_ too much lacked. Jean Cousin excepted, is there one of
them that is superior to Jacques Sarazin? That great artist, now almost
forgotten, is at once a disciple of the French school and the Italian
school, and to the qualities that he borrows from his predecessors, he
adds a moral expression, touching and elevated, which he owes to the
spirit of the new school. He is, in sculpture, the worthy contemporary
of Lesueur and Poussin, of Corneille, Descartes, and Pascal. He belongs
entirely to the reign of Louis XIII., Richelieu, and Mazarin; he did not
even see that of Louis XIV.[167] Called into France by Richelieu, who
had also called there Poussin and Champagne, Jacques Sarazin in a few
years produced a multitude of works of rare elegance and great
character. What has become of them? The eighteenth century passed over
them without regarding them. The barbarians that destroyed or scattered
them, were arrested before the paintings of Lesueur and Poussin,
protected by a remnant of admiration: while breaking the master-pieces
of the French chisel, they had no suspicion of the sacrilege they were
committing against art as well as their country. I was at least able to
see, some years ago, at the Museum of French Monuments, collected by the
piety of a friend of the arts, beautiful parts of a superb mausoleum
erected to the memory of Henri de Bourbon, second of the name, Prince of
Condé, father of the great Condé, the worthy support, the skilful
fellow-laborer of Richelieu and Mazarin. This monument was supported by
four figures of natural grandeur,--_Faith, Prudence, Justice, Charity_.
There were four bas-reliefs in bronze, representing the _Triumphs of
Renown, Time, Death_, and _Eternity_. In the _Triumph of Death_, the
artist had represented a certain number of illustrious moderns, among
whom he had placed himself by the side of Michael Angelo.[168] We can
still contemplate in the court of the Louvre, in the pavilion of the
Horloge, those caryatides of Sarazin at once so majestic and so
graceful, which are detached with admirable relief and lightness. Have
Jean Goujon and Germain Pilon done any thing more elegant and lifelike?
Those females breathe, and are about to move. Take the pains to go a
short distance[169] to visit the humble chapel that now occupies the
place of that magnificent church of the Carmelites, once filled with the
paintings of Champagne, Stella, Lahire, and Lebrun; where the voice of
Bossuet was heard, where Mlle. de Lavallière and Mme. de Longueville
were so often seen prostrated, their long hair shorn, and their faces
bathed in tears. Among the relics that are preserved of the past
splendor of the holy monastery, consider the noble statue of the
kneeling Cardinal de Bérulle. On those meditative and penetrating
features, in those eyes raised to heaven, breathes the soul of that
great servant of God, who died at the altar like a warrior on the field
of honor. He prays God for his dear Carmelites. That head is perfectly
natural, as Champagne might have painted it, and has a severe grace that
reminds one of Lesueur and Poussin.[170]

Below Sarazin, the Anguiers are still artists that Italy would admire,
and to whom there is wanting, since the great century, nothing but
judges worthy of them. These two brothers covered Paris and France with
the most precious monuments. Look at the tomb of Jacques-Auguste de
Thou, by François Anguier: the face of the great historian is reflective
and melancholy, like that of a man weary of the spectacle of human
things; and nothing is more amiable than the statues of his two wives,
Marie Barbançon de Cany, and Gasparde de la Châtre.[171] The mausoleum
of Henri de Montmorency, beheaded at Toulouse in 1632, which is still
seen at Moulins, in the church of the ancient convent of the daughters
of Sainte-Marie, is an important work of the same artist, in which force
is manifest, with a little heaviness.[172] To Michel Anguier are
attributed the statues of the duke and duchess of Tresmes, and that of
their illustrious son, Potier, Marquis of Gêvres.[173] Behold in him the
intrepid companion of Condé, arrested in his course at thirty-two years
of age before Thionville, after the battle of Rocroy, already
lieutenant-general, and when Condé was demanding for him the bâton of a
marshal of France, deposited on his tomb; behold him young, beautiful,
brave, like his comrades cut down also in the flower of life, Laval,
Châtillon, La Moussaye. One of the best works of Michel Anguier is the
monument of Henri de Chabot, that other companion, that faithful friend
of Condé, who by the splendor of his valor, especially by the graces of
his person, knew how to gain the heart, the fortune, and the name of the
beautiful Marguerite, the daughter of the great Duke of Rohan. The new
duke died, still young, in 1655, at thirty-nine years of age. He is
represented lying down, the head inclined and supported by an angel;
another angel is at his feet. The whole is striking, and the details are
exquisite. The face of Chabot has every beauty, as if to answer to its
reputation, but the beauty is that of one dying. The body has already
the languor of death, _longuescit moriens_, with I know not what antique
grace. This morsel, if the drawing were more severe, would rival the
_Dying Gladiator_, of which it reminds one, which it perhaps even

In truth, I wonder that men now dare speak so lightly of Puget and
Girardon. To Puget qualities of the first order cannot be refused. He
has the fire, the enthusiasm, the fecundity of genius. The caryatides of
the Hôtel de Ville of Toulon, which have been brought to the Museum of
Paris, attest a powerful chisel. The _Milon_ reminds one of the manner
of Michael Angelo; it is a little overstrained, but it cannot be denied
that the effect is striking. Do you want a talent more natural, and
still having force and elevation? Take the trouble to search in the
Tuileries, in the gardens of Versailles, in several churches of Paris,
for the scattered works of Girardon, here for the mausoleum of the
Gondis,[175] there for that of the Castellans,[176] that of
Louvois,[177] etc.; especially go to see in the church of the Sorbonne
the mausoleum of Richelieu. The formidable minister is there represented
in his last moments, sustained by religion and wept by his country. The
whole person is of a perfect nobility, and the figure has the fineness,
the severity, the superior distinction given to it by the pencil of
Champagne, and the gravers of Morin, Michel Lasne, and Mellan.

Finally, I do not regard as a vulgar sculptor Coysevox, who, under the
influence of Lebrun, unfortunately begins the theatrical style, who
still has the facility, movement, and elegance of Lebrun himself. He
reared worthy monuments to Mazarin, Colbert, and Lebrun,[178] and thus
to speak, sowed busts of the illustrious men of his time. For, remark it
well, artists then took scarcely any arbitrary and fanciful subjects.
They worked upon contemporaneous subjects, which, while giving them
proper liberty, inspired and guided them, and communicated a public
interest to their works. The French sculpture of the seventeenth
century, like that of antiquity, is profoundly natural. The churches and
the monasteries were filled with the statues of those who loved them
during life, and wished to rest in them after death. Each church of
Paris was a popular museum. The sumptuous residences of the
aristocracy--for at that period, there was one in France, like that of
England at the present time--possessed their secular tombs, statues,
busts, and portraits of eminent men whose glory belonged to the country
as well as their own family. On its side, the state did not encourage
the arts in detail, and, thus to speak, in a small way; it gave them a
powerful impulse by demanding of them important works, by confiding to
them vast enterprises. All great things were thus mingled together,
reciprocally inspired and sustained each other.

One man alone in Europe has left a name in the beautiful art that
surrounds a chateau or a palace with graceful gardens or magnificent
parks,--that man is a Frenchman of the seventeenth century, is Le Nôtre.
Le Nôtre may be reproached with a regularity that is perhaps excessive,
and a little mannerism in details; but he has two qualities that
compensate for many defects, grandeur and sentiment. He who designed the
park of Versailles, who to the proper arrangement of parterres, to the
movement of fountains, to the harmonious sound of waterfalls, to the
mysterious shades of groves, has known how to add the magic of infinite
perspective by means of that spacious walk where the view is extended
over an immense sheet of water to be lost in the limitless
distances,--he is a landscape-painter worthy of having a place by the
side of Poussin and Lorrain.

We had in the middle age our Gothic architecture, like all the nations
of northern Europe. In the sixteenth century what architects were Pierre
Lescot, Jean Bullant, and Philibert Delorme! What charming palaces, what
graceful edifices, the Tuileries, the Hotel de Ville of Paris, Chambord,
and Ecouen! The seventeenth century also had its original architecture,
different from that of the middle age and that of the _Renaissance_,
simple, austere, noble, like the poetry of Corneille and the prose of
Descartes. Study without scholastic prejudice the Luxembourg of de
Brosses,[179] the portal of Saint-Gervais, and the great hall of the
Palais de Justice, by the same architect; the Palais Cardinal and the
Sorbonne of Lemercier;[180] the cupola of Val-de-Grâce by Lemuet;[181]
the triumphal arch of the Porte Saint-Denis by François Blondel;
Versailles, and especially the Invalides, of Mansart.[182] Consider with
attention the last edifice, let it make its impression on your mind and
soul, and you will easily succeed in recognizing in it a particular
beauty. It is not a Gothic monument, neither is it an almost Pagan
monument of the sixteenth century,--it is modern, and also Christian; it
is vast with measure, elegant with gravity. Contemplate at sunset that
cupola reflecting the last rays of day, elevating itself gently towards
the heavens in a slight and graceful curve; cross that imposing
esplanade, enter that court admirably lighted in spite of its covered
galleries, bow beneath the dome of that church where Vauban and Turenne
sleep,--you will not be able to guard yourself from an emotion at once
religious and military; you will say to yourself that this is indeed the
asylum of warriors who have reached the evening of life and are prepared
for eternity!

Since then, what has French architecture become? Once having left
tradition and national character, it wanders from imitation to
imitation, and without comprehending the genius of antiquity, it
unskilfully reproduces its forms. This bastard architecture, at once
heavy and mannered, is, little by little, substituted for the beautiful
architecture of the preceding century, and everywhere effaces the
vestiges of the French spirit. Do you wish a striking example of it? In
Paris, near the Luxembourg, the Condés had their _hôtel_,[183]
magnificent and severe, with a military aspect, as it was fitting for
the dwelling-place of a family of warriors, and within of almost royal
splendor. Beneath those lofty ceilings had been some time suspended the
Spanish flags taken at Rocroy. In those vast saloons had been assembled
the _élite_ of the grandest society that ever existed. In those
beautiful gardens had been seen promenading Corneille and Madame de
Sévigné, Molière, Bossuet, Boileau, Racine, in the company of the great
Condé. The oratory had been painted by the hand of Lesueur.[184] It had
been easy to repair and preserve the noble habitation. At the end of the
eighteenth century, a descendant of the Condés sold it to a dismal
company to build that palace without character and taste which is called
the Palais-Bourbon. Almost at the same epoch there was a movement made
to construct a church to the patroness of Paris, to that Geneviève,
whose legend is so touching and so popular. Was there ever a better
chance for a national and Christian monument? It was possible to return
to the Gothic style and even to the Byzantine style. Instead of that
there was made for us an immense Roman basilica of the Decline. What a
dwelling for the modest and holy virgin, so dear to the fields that
bordered upon Lutèce, whose name is still venerated by the poor people
who inhabit these quarters! Behold the church which has been placed by
the side of that of Saint-Etienne du Mont, as if to make felt all the
differences between Christianity and Paganism! For here, in spite of a
mixture of the most different styles, it is evident that the Pagan style
predominates. Christian worship cannot be naturalized in this profane
edifice, which has so many times changed its destination. It is in vain
to call it anew Saint-Geneviève,--the revolutionary name of Pantheon
will stick to it.[185] The eighteenth century treated the Madeleine no
better than Saint-Geneviève. In vain the beautiful sinner wished to
renounce the joys of the world and attach herself to the poverty of
Jesus Christ. She has been brought back to the pomp and luxury that she
repudiated; she has been put in a rich palace, all shining with gold,
which might very well be a temple of Venus, for certainly it has not the
severe grace of the Pantheon, of which it is the most vulgar copy. How
far we are from the Invalides, from Val-de-Grâce, and the Sorbonne, so
admirably appropriated to their object, wherein appears so well the hand
of the century and the country which reared them!

While architecture thus strays, it is natural that painting should seek
above every thing color and brilliancy, that sculpture should apply
itself to become Pagan again, that poetry itself, receding for two
centuries, should abjure the worship of thought for that of fancy, that
it should everywhere go borrowing images from Spain, Italy, and Germany,
that it should run after subaltern and foreign qualities which it will
not attain, and abandon the grand qualities of the French genius.

It will be said that the Christian sentiment which animated Lesueur and
the artists of the seventeenth century is wanting to those of ours; it
is extinguished, and cannot be rekindled. In the first place, is that
very certain? Native faith is dead, but cannot reflective faith take its
place? Christianity is exhaustless; it has infinite resources, and
admirable flexibility; there are a thousand ways of arriving at it and
returning to it, because it has itself a thousand phases that answer to
the most different dispositions, to all the wants, to all the mobility
of the heart. What it loses on one side, it gains on another; and as it
has produced our civilization, it is called to follow it in all its
vicissitudes. Either every religion will perish in this world, or
Christianity will endure, for it is not in the power of thought to
conceive a more perfect religion. Artists of the nineteenth century, do
not despair of God and yourselves. A superficial philosophy has thrown
you far from Christianity considered in a strict sense; another
philosophy can bring you near it again by making you see it with another
eye. And then, if the religious sentiment is weakened, are there not
other sentiments that can make the heart of man beat, and fecundate
genius? Plato has said, that beauty is always old and always new. It is
superior to all its forms, it belongs to all countries and all times; it
belongs to all beliefs, provided these beliefs be serious and profound,
and the need be felt of expressing and spreading them. If, then, we have
not arrived at the boundary assigned to the grandeur of France, if we
are not beginning to descend into the shade of death, if we still truly
live, if there remain to us convictions, of whatever kind they may be,
thereby even remains to us, or at least may remain to us, what made the
glory of our fathers, what they did not carry with them to the tomb,
what had already survived all revolutions, Greece, Rome, the Middle Age,
what does not belong to any temporary or ephemeral accident, what
subsists and is continually found in the focus of consciousness--I mean
moral inspiration, immortal as the soul.

Let us terminate here, and sum up this defence of the national art.
There are in arts, as well as in letters and philosophy, two contrary
schools. One tends to the ideal in all things,--it seeks, it tries to
make appear the spirit concealed under the form, at once manifested and
veiled by nature; it does not so much wish to please the senses and
flatter the imagination as to enlarge the intellect and move the soul.
The other, enamored of nature, stops there and devotes itself to
imitation,--its principal object is to reproduce reality, movement,
life, which are for it the supreme beauty. The France of the seventeenth
century, the France of Descartes, Corneille, and Bossuet, highly
spiritual in philosophy, poetry, and eloquence, was also highly
spiritual in the arts. The artists of that great epoch participate in
its general character, and represent it in their way. It is not true
that they lacked imagination, more than Pascal and Bossuet lacked it.
But inasmuch as they do not suffer imagination to usurp the dominion
that does not belong to it, inasmuch as they subject its order, even its
impetuosity, to the reign of reason and the inspirations of the heart,
it seems that it is not so strong when it is only disciplined and
regulated. As we have said, they excel in composition, especially in
expression. They always have a thought, and a moral and elevated
thought. For this reason they are dear to us, their cause interests us,
is in some sort our own cause, and so this homage rendered to their
misunderstood glory naturally crowns these lectures devoted to true
beauty, that is to say, moral beauty.

May these lectures be able to make it known, and, above all, loved! May
they be able also to inspire some one of you with the idea of devoting
himself to studies so beautiful, of devoting to them his life, and
attaching to them his name! The sweetest recompense of a professor who
is not too unworthy of that title, is to see rapidly following in his
footsteps young and noble spirits who easily pass him and leave him far
behind them.[186]


[128] One is reminded of the expression of the great Condé: "Where then
has Corneille learned politics and war?"

[129] It would be a curious and useful study, to compare with the
original all the passages of Britannicus imitated from Tacitus; in them
Racine would almost always be found below his model. I will give a
single example. In the account of the death of Britannicus, Racine thus
expresses the different effects of the crime on the spectators:

    Juez combien ce coup frappe tous les esprits;
    La moitié s'épouvante et sort avec des cris;
    Mais ceux qui de la cour ont un plus long usage
    Sur les yeux de César composent leur visage.

Certainly the style is excellent; but it pales and seems nothing more
than a very feeble sketch in comparison with the rapid and sombre
pencil-strokes of the great Roman painter: "Trepidatur a
circumsedentibus, diffugiunt imprudentes; at, quibus altior intellectus,
resistunt defixi et Neronem intuentes."

[130] See the letter to Perrault.


    En vain contre le Cid ministre se ligue,
    Tout Paris pour Chimène a les yeux de Rodrique, etc.

           *       *       *       *       *

    Après qu'un peu de terre, obtenu par prière,
    Pour jamais dans la tombe eut enfermé Molière, etc.

           *       *       *       *       *


    Aux pieds de cet autel de structure grossière,
    Git sans pompe, enfermé dans une vile bière,
    Le plus savant mortel qui jamais ait écrit;
    Arnaud, qui sur la grâce instruit par Jésus-Christ,
    Combattant pour l'Eglise, a, dans l'Eglise même,
    Souffert plus d'un outrage et plus d'un anathème, etc.

           *       *       *       *       *

    Errant, pauvre, banni, proscrit, persécuté;
    Et même par sa mort leur fureur mal éteinte
    N'aurait jamais laissé ses cendres en repos,
    Si Dieu lui-même ici de son ouaille sainte
    A ces loups dévorants n'avait caché les os.

[133] These verses did not appear till after the death of Boileau, and
they are not well known. Jean-Baptiste Rousseau, in a letter to
Brossette, rightly said that these are "the most beautiful verses that
M. Despréaux ever made."

[134] 4th Series of our works, LITERATURE, book i., _Preface_, p. 3: "It
is in prose, perhaps, that our literary glory is most certain.... What
modern nation reckons prose writers that approach those of our nation?
The country of Shakspeare and Milton does not possess, since Bacon, a
single prose writer of the first order [?]; that of Dante, Petrarch,
Ariosto, and Tasso, is in vain proud of Machiavel, whose sound and manly
diction, like the thought that it expresses, is destitute of grandeur.
Spain, it is true, has produced Cervantes, an admirable writer, but he
is alone.... France can easily show a list of more than twenty prose
writers of genius: Froissard, Rabelais, Montaigne, Descartes, Pascal, La
Rochefoucauld, Molière, Retz, La Bruyère, Malebranche, Bossuet, Fénelon,
Fléchier, Bourdaloue, Massillon, Mme. de Sévigné, Saint-Simon,
Montesquieu, Voltaire, Buffon, J. J. Rousseau; without speaking of so
many more that would be in the first rank everywhere else,--Amiot,
Calvin, Pasquier, D'Aubigné, Charron, Balzac, Vaugelas, Pélisson,
Nicole, Fleury, Bussi, Saint-Evremont, Mme. de Lafayette, Mme. de
Maintenon, Fontenelle, Vauvenargues, Hamilton, Le Sage, Prévost,
Beaumarchais, etc. It may be said with the exactest truth, that French
prose is without a rival in modern Europe; and, even in antiquity,
superior to the Latin prose, at least in the quantity and variety of
models, it has no equal but the Greek prose, in its palmiest days, in
the days of Herodotus and Demosthenes. I do not prefer Demosthenes to
Pascal, and it would be difficult for me to put Plato himself above
Bossuet. Plato and Bossuet, in my opinion, are the two greatest masters
of human language, with manifest differences, as well as more than one
trait of resemblance; both ordinarily speak like the people, with the
last degree of simplicity, and at moments ascending without effort to a
poetry as magnificent as that of Homer, ingenious and polished to the
most charming delicacy, and by instinct majestic and sublime. Plato,
without doubt, has incomparable graces, the supreme serenity, and, as it
were, the demi-smile of the divine sage. Bossuet, on his side, has the
pathetic, in which he has no rival but the great Corneille. When such
writers are possessed, is it not a religion to render them the honor
that is their due, that of a regular and profound study?"

[135] See the APPENDIX, at the end of the volume.

[136] See the APPENDIX.

[137] This picture had been made for a chapel of the church of St.
Gervais. It formed the altar-piece, and in the foreground there was the
admirable Bearing of the Cross, which is still seen in the Museum.

[138] Such a law was the first act of the first assembly of affranchised
Greece, and all the friends of art have applauded it from end to end of
civilized Europe.

[139] See the APPENDIX.

[140] The _Seven Sacraments_ of Poussin are now in the Bridgewater
Gallery. See the APPENDIX.

[141] See the APPENDIX.

[142] In the midst of this scene of brutal violence, everybody has
remarked this delicate trait--a Roman quite young, almost juvenile,
while possessing himself by force of a young girl taking refuge in the
arms of her mother, asks her from her mother with an air at once
passionate and restrained. In order to appreciate this picture, compare
it with that of David in the _ensemble_ and in the details.

[143] In fact, the St. Joseph is here the important personage. He
governs the whole scene; he prays, he is as it were in ecstasy.

[144] The pictures of Claude Lorrain, of which we have just spoken, are
in the Museum of Paris. In all there are thirteen, whilst the Museum of
Madrid alone possesses almost as many, while there are in England more
than fifty, and those the most admirable. See the APPENDIX.

[145] The last _Notice of the Pictures exhibited in the Gallery of the
National Museum of the Louvre_, 1852, although its author, M. Villot, is
surely a man of incontestable knowledge and taste, persists in placing
Champagne in the Flemish school. _En revanche_, a learned foreigner, M.
Waagen, claims him for the French school. _Kunstwerke and Künstler in
Paris_, Berlin, 1839, p. 651.

[146] Well appreciated by Richelieu, he preferred his esteem to his
benefits. One day when an envoy of Richelieu said to him that he had
only to ask freely what he wished for the advancement of his fortune,
Champagne responded that if M. the Cardinal could make him a more
skilful painter than he was, it was the only thing that he asked of his
Eminence; but that being impossible, he only desired the honor of his
good graces. Félibien, _Entretiens_, 1st edition, 4to., part v., p. 171;
and de Piles, _Abrégé de la Vie des Peintres_, 2d edition, p. 500.--"As
he had much love for justice and truth, provided he satisfied what they
both demanded, he easily passed over all the rest."--_Nécrologe de
Port-Royal_, p. 336.

[147] See the APPENDIX.

[148] The original is in the Museum of Grenoble; but see the engraving
of Morin; see also that of Daret, after the beautiful design of

[149] In the Museum of the Louvre; see also the engraving of Morin.

[150] The original is now in the Château of Sablé, belonging to the
Marquis of Rougé; see the engraving of Simonneau in Perrault. The
beautiful engraving of Edelinck was made after a different original,
attributed to a nephew of Champagne.

[151] The original is also in the possession of the Marquis of Rougé;
the admirable engraving of Van Schupen may take its place.

[152] In the Museum.

[153] In the Museum, and engraved by Gérard Edelinck.

[154] _La Gloire du Val-de-Grâce_, in 4to, 1669, with a frontispiece and
vignettes. Molière there enters into infinite details on all the parts
of the art of painting and the genius of Mignard. He pushes eulogy
perhaps to the extent of hyperbole; afterwards, hyperbole gave place to
the most shameful indifference. The fresco of the dome of Val-de-grâce
is composed of four rows of figures, which rise in a circle from the
base to the vertex of the arch. In the upper part is the Trinity, above
which is raised a resplendent sky. Below the Trinity are the celestial
powers. Descending a degree, we see the Virgin and the holy personages
of the Old and New Testament. Finally, at the lower extremity is Anne of
Austria, introduced into paradise by St. Anne and St. Louis, and these
three figures are accompanied by a multitude of personages pertaining to
the history of France, among whom are distinguished Joan of Arc,
Charlemagne, etc.

[155] Engraved by Gerard Audran under the name of the _Plague of David_
(_la Peste de David_). What has become of the original?

[156] See his _Landscape at Sunset_, and the _Bathers_ (_les
Baigneuses_), an agreeable scene somewhat blemished by careless drawing.

[157] It would be necessary to cite all his compositions. In his _Holy
Family_ the figure of the Virgin, without being celestial, admirably
expresses meditation and reflection. We lost some time ago the most
important work of S. Bourdon, the _Sept Oeuvres de Miséricorde_. See

[158] See especially his _Extreme Unction_.

[159] The picture that is called _le Silence_, which represents the
sleep of the infant Jesus, is not unworthy of Poussin. The head of the
infant is of superhuman power. The _Battles of Alexander_, with their
defects, are pages of history of the highest order; and in the
_Alexander visiting with Ephestion the Mother and the Wife of Darius_,
one knows not which to admire most, the noble ordering of the whole or
the just expression of the figures.

[160] It seems that Lesueur sometimes furnished Daret with designs. It
is indeed to Lesueur that Daret owes the idea and the design of his
_chef-d'oeuvre_, the portrait of Armand de Bourbon, prince de Conti,
represented in his earliest youth, and in an abbé, sustained and
surrounded by angels of different size, forming a charming composition.
The drawing is completely pure, except some imperfect fore-shortenings.
The little angels that sport with the emblems of the future cardinal are
full of spirit, and, at the same time, sweetness.

[161] Edelinck saw only the reign of Louis XIV. Nanteuil was able to
engrave very few of the great men of the time of Louis XIII., and the
regency, and in the latter part of their life; Mazarin, in his last five
or six years; Condé, growing old; Turenne, old; Fouquet and Matthieu
Molé, some years before the fall of the one and the death of the other;
and he was too often obliged to waste his talent upon a crowd of
parliamentarians, ecclesiastics, and obscure financiers.

[162] If I wished to make any one acquainted with the greatest and most
neglected portion of the seventeenth century, that which Voltaire almost
wholly omitted, I would set him to collecting the works of Morin.

[163] Mellan not only made portraits after the celebrated painters of
his time, he is himself the author of great and charming compositions,
many of which serve as frontispieces to books. I willingly call
attention to that one which is at the head of a folio edition of the
_Introduction à la Vie Dévote_, and to the beautiful frontispieces of
the writings of Richelieu, from the press of the Louvre.

[164] This was the opinion of Winkelmann at the end of the eighteenth
century; it is our opinion now, even after all the discoveries that have
been made during fifty years, that may be seen in great part retraced
and described in the _Musio real Barbonico_.

[165] There was doubtless sculpture in the middle age: the innumerable
figures at the portals of our cathedrals, and the statues that are
discovered every day sufficiently testify it. The _imagers_ of that time
certainly had much spirit and imagination; but, at least in everything
that we have seen, beauty is absent, and taste wanting.

[166] Go and see at the Museum of Versailles the statue of Francis I.,
and say whether any Italian, except the author of the _Laurent de
Medicis_, has made any thing like it. See also in the Museum of the
Louvre, the statue of Admiral Chabot.

[167] Sarazin died in 1660, Lesueur in 1655, Poussin in 1665, Descartes
in 1650, Pascal in 1662, and the genius of Corneille did not extend
beyond that epoch.

[168] Lenoir, _Musée des Monuments Français_, vol. v., p. 87-91, and the
_Musée Royale des Monuments Français_ of 1815, p. 98, 99, 108, 122, and
140. This wonderful monument, erected to Henri de Bourbon, at the
expense of his old intendant Perrault, president of the _Chambre des
Comptes_, was placed in the Church of the Jesuits, and was wholly in
bronze. It must not be confounded with the other monument that the
Condés erected to the same prince in their family burial-ground at
Vallery, near Montereau, in Yonne. This monument is in marble, and by
the hand of Michel Anguier; see the description in Lenoir, vol. v., p.
23-25, and especially in the _Annuaire de l'Yonne pour_ 1842, p. 173,

[169] Rue d'Enfer, No. 67.

[170] The Museum of the Louvre possesses only a very small number of
Sarazin's works, and those of very little importance:--a bust of Pierre
Séguier, strikingly true, two statuettes full of grace, and the small
funeral monument of Hennequin, Abbé of Bernay, member of Parliament, who
died in 1651, which is a _chef-d'oeuvre_ of elegance.

[171] These three statues were united in the Museum des
_Petits-Augustins_, Lenoir, _Musée-royal_, etc., p. 94; we know not why
they have been separated; Jacques-Auguste de Thou has been placed in the
Louvre, and his two wives at Versailles.

[172] François Anguier had made a marble tomb of Cardinal de Bérulle,
which was in the oratory of _Rue St. Honoré_. It would have been
interesting to compare this statue with that of Sarazin, which is still
at the Carmelites. François is also the author of the monument of the
Longuevilles, which, before the Revolution, was at the Célestins, and
was seen in 1815 at the museum des _Petits-Augustins_, Lenoir, _ibid._,
p. 103; it is now in the Louvre. It is an obelisk, the four sides of
which are covered with allegorical bas-reliefs. The pedestal, also
ornamented with bas-reliefs, has four female figures in marble,
representing the cardinal virtues.

[173] Now at Versailles. Lenoir, p. 97 and 100. See his portrait,
painted by Champagne, and engraved by Morin.

[174] Group in white marble which was at the Célestins, a church near
the _hôtel_ of Rohan-Chabot in the _Place Royale_; re-collected in the
Museum _des Petits-Augustins_, Lenoir, _ibid._, p. 97; it is now at
Versailles. We must not pass over that beautiful production, the
mausoleum of Jacques de Souvré, Grand Prior of France, the brother of
the beautiful Marchioness de Sablé; a mausoleum that came from
Saint-Jean de Latran, passed through the Museum _des Petits-Augustins_,
and is now found in the Louvre. The sculptures of the porte Saint-Denis
are also owed to Michel Anguier, as well as the admirable bust of
Colbert, which is in the museum.

[175] At first at Notre-Dame, the natural place for the tombs of the
Gondis, then at the Augustins, now at Versailles.

[176] In the Church St. Germain des Prés.

[177] At the Capuchins, then at the Augustins, then at Versailles.

[178] See, on these monuments, Lenoir, p. 98, 101, 102. That of Mazarin
is now at the Louvre; that of Colbert has been restored to the Church of
St. Eustache, and that of Lebrun to the Church St. Nicholas du
Chardonnet, as well as the mausoleum, so expressive but a little
overstrained, of the mother of Lebrun, by Tuby, and the mausoleum of
Jerome Bignon, the celebrated Councillor of State, who died in 1656.

[179] Quatremère de Quincy, _Histoire de la Vie et des Ouvrages de plus
Célèbres Architectes_, vol. ii., p. 145:--"There could scarcely be found
in any country an _ensemble_ so grand, which offers with so much unity
and regularity an aspect at once more varied and picturesque, especially
in the façade of the entrance." Unfortunately this unity has
disappeared, thanks to the constructions that have since been added to
the primitive work.

[180] In order to appreciate the beauty of the Sorbonne, one must stand
in the lower part of the great court, and from that point consider the
effect of the successive elevation, at first of the other part of the
court, then of the different stories of the portico, then of the portico
itself, of the church, and, finally, of the dome.

[181] Quatremère de Quincy, _Ibid._, p. 257:--"The cupola of this
edifice is one of the finest in Europe."

[182] We do not speak of the colonnade of the Louvre by Perrault,
because in spite of its grand qualities, it begins the decline and marks
the passage from the serious to the academic style, from originality to
imitation, from the seventeenth century to the eighteenth.

[183] See the engraving of Pérelle. Sauval, vol. ii., p. 66 and p. 131,
says that the _hôtel_ of Condé was _magnificently built_, that it was
_the most magnificent of the time_.

[184] Notice of Guillet de St. Georges, recently published (see the
APPENDIX):--"Nearly at the same time the Princess-dowager de Condé,
Charlotte-Marguerite de Montmorency, mother of the late prince, had an
oratory painted by Lesueur in the _hôtel_ of Condé. The altar-piece
represents a _Nativity_, that of the ceiling a _Celestial Glory_. The
wainscot is enriched with several figures and with a quantity of
ornaments worked with great care."

[185] The Pantheon is an imitation of the St. Paul's of London, which is
itself a very sad imitation of St. Peter's of Rome. The only merit of
the Pantheon is its situation on the summit of the hill of St.
Geneviève, from which it overlooks that part of the town, and is seen on
different sides to a considerable distance. Put in its place the
Val-de-Grâce of Lemercier with the dome of Lemuet, and judge what would
be the effect of such an edifice!

[186] In the first rank of the intelligent auditors of this course was
M. Jouffroy, who already under our auspices, had presented to the
_faculté des lettres_, in order to obtain the degree of doctor, a thesis
on the beautiful. M. Jouffroy had cultivated, with care and particular
taste, the seeds that our teaching might have planted in his mind. But
of all those who at that epoch or later frequented our lectures, no one
was better fitted to embrace the entire domain of beauty or art than the
author of the beautiful articles on Eustache Lesueur, the Cathedral of
Noyon, and the Louvre. M. Vitet possesses all the knowledge, and, what
is more, all the qualities requisite for a judge of every kind of
beauty, for a worthy historian of art. I yield to the necessity of
addressing to him the public petition that he may not be wanting to a
vocation so marked and so elevated.





    Extent of the question of the good.--Position of the question
    according to the psychological method: What is, in regard to the
    good, the natural belief of mankind?--The natural beliefs of
    humanity must not be sought in a pretended state of
    nature.--Study of the sentiments and ideas of men in languages,
    in life, in consciousness.--Disinterestedness and
    devotedness.--Liberty.--Esteem and
    contempt.--Respect.--Admiration and
    indignation.--Dignity.--Empire of opinion.--Ridicule.--Regret
    and repentance.--Natural and necessary foundations of all
    justice.--Distinction between fact and right.--Common sense,
    true and false philosophy.

The idea of the true in its developments, comprises psychology, logic,
and metaphysics. The idea of the beautiful begets what is called
æsthetics. The idea of the good is the whole of ethics.

It would be forming a false and narrow idea of ethics to confine them
within the inclosure of individual consciousness. There are public
ethics, as well as private ethics, and public ethics embrace, with the
relations of men among themselves, so far as men, their relations as
citizens and as members of a state. Ethics extend wherever is found in
any decree the idea of the good. Now, where does this idea manifest
itself more, and where do justice and injustice, virtue and crime,
heroism and weakness appear more openly, than on the theatre of civil
life? Moreover, is there any thing that has a more decisive influence
over manners, even of individuals, than the institutions of peoples and
the constitutions of states? If the idea of the good goes thus far, it
must be followed thither, as recently the idea of the beautiful has
introduced us into the domain of art.

Philosophy usurps no foreign power; but it is not disposed to relinquish
its right of examination over all the great manifestations of human
nature. All philosophy that does not terminate in ethics, is hardly
worthy of the name, and all ethics that do not terminate at least in
general views on society and government, are powerless ethics, that have
neither counsels nor rules to give humanity in its most difficult

It seems that at the point where we have arrived, the metaphysics and
æsthetics that we have taught evidently involve such a doctrine of
morality and not such another, that, accordingly, the question of the
good, that question so fertile and so vast, is for us wholly solved, and
that we can deduce, by way of reasoning, the moral theory that is
derived from our theory of the beautiful and our theory of the true. We
might do this, perhaps, but we will not. This would be abandoning the
method that we have hitherto followed, that method that proceeds by
observation, and not by deduction, and makes consulting experience a law
to itself. We do not grow weary of experience. Let us attach ourselves
faithfully to the psychological method; it has its delays; it condemns
us to more than one repetition, but it places us in the beginning, and a
long time retains us at the source of all reality, and all light.

The first maxim of the psychological method is this: True philosophy
invents nothing, it establishes and describes what is. Now here, what
is, is the natural and permanent belief of the being that we are
studying, to wit, man. What is, then, in relation to the good, the
natural and permanent belief of the human race? Such is, in our eyes,
the first question.

With us, in fact, the human race does not take one side, and philosophy
the other. Philosophy is the interpreter of the human race. What the
human race thinks and believes, often unconsciously, philosophy
re-collects, explains, establishes. It is the faithful and complete
expression of human nature, and human nature is entire in each of us
philosophers, and in every other man. Among us, it is attained by
consciousness; among other men, it manifests itself in their words and
actions. Let us, then, interrogate the latter and the former; let us
especially interrogate our own consciousness; let us clearly recognize
what the human race thinks; we shall then see what should be the office
of philosophy.

Is there a human language known to us that has not different expressions
for good and evil, for just and unjust? Is there any language, in which,
by the side of the words pleasure, interest, utility, happiness, are not
also found the words sacrifice, disinterestedness, devotedness, virtue?
Do not all languages, as well as all nations, speak of liberty, duty,
and right?

Here, perhaps, some disciple of Condillac and Helvetius will ask us
whether, in this regard, we possess authentic dictionaries of the
language of savage tribes found by voyagers in the isles of the ocean?
No; but we have not made our philosophic religion out of the
superstitions and prejudices of a certain school. We absolutely deny
that it is necessary to study human nature in the famous savage of
Aveyron, or in the like of him of the isles of the ocean, or the
American continent. The savage state offers us humanity in
swaddling-clothes, thus to speak, the germ of humanity, but not humanity
entire. The true man is the perfect man of his kind; true human nature
is human nature arrived at its development, as true society is also
perfected society. We do not think it worth the while to ask a savage
his opinion on the Apollo Belvidere, neither will we ask him for the
principles that constitute the moral nature of man, because in him this
moral nature is only sketched and not completed. Our great philosophy of
the seventeenth century was sometimes a little too much pleased with
hypotheses in which God plays the principal part, and crushes human
liberty.[187] The philosophy of the eighteenth century threw itself
into the opposite extreme; it had recourse to hypotheses of a totally
different character, among others, to a pretended natural state, whence
it undertook, with infinite pains, to draw society and man as we now see
them. Rousseau plunged into the forests, in order to find there the
model of liberty and equality. That is the commencement of his politics.
But wait a little, and soon you will see the apostle of the natural
state, driven, by a necessary inconsequence, from one excess to an
opposite excess, instead of the sweets of savage liberty, proposing to
us the _Contrat Social and Lacédémone_. Condillac[188] studies the human
mind in a statue whose senses enter into exercise under the magic wand
of a systematic analysis, and are developed in the measure and progress
that are convenient to him. The statue successively acquires our five
senses, but there is one thing that it does not acquire, that is, a mind
like the human mind, and a soul like ours. And this was what was then
called the experimental method! Let us leave there all those hypotheses.
In order to understand reality, let us study it, and not imagine it. Let
us take humanity as it is incontestably shown to us in its actual
characters, and not as it may have been in a primitive, purely
hypothetical state, in those unformed lineaments or that degradation
which is called the savage state. In that, without doubt, may be found
signs or _souvenirs_ of humanity, and, if this were the plea, we might,
in our turn, examine the recitals of voyages, and find, even in that
darkness of infancy or decrepitude, admirable flashes of light, noble
instincts, which already appear, or still subsist, presaging or
recalling humanity. But, for the sake of exactness of method and true
analysis, we turn our eyes from infancy and the savage state, in order
to direct them towards the being who is the sole object of our studies,
the actual man, the real and completed man.

Do you know a language, a people, which does not possess the word
disinterested virtue? Who is especially called an honest man? Is it the
skilful calculator, devoting himself to making his own affairs the best
possible, or he who, under all circumstances, is disposed to observe
justice against his apparent or real interest? Take away the idea that
an honest man is capable, to a certain degree, of resisting the
attractions of personal interest, and of making some sacrifices for
opinion, for propriety, for that which is or appears honest, and you
take away the foundation of that title of honest man, even in the most
ordinary sense. That disposition to prefer what is good to our pleasure,
to our personal utility, in a word, to interest--that disposition more
or less strong, more or less constant, more or less tested, measures the
different degrees of virtue. A man who carries disinterestedness as far
as devotion, is called a hero, let him be concealed in the humblest
condition, or placed on a public stage. There is devotedness in obscure
as well as in exalted stations. There are heroes of probity, of honor,
of loyalty, in the relations of ordinary life, as well as heroes of
courage and patriotism in the counsels of peoples and at the head of
armies. All these names, with their meaning well recognized, are in all
languages, and constitute a certain and universal fact. We may explain
this fact, but on one imperative condition, that in explaining we do not
destroy it. Now, is the idea and the word disinterestedness explained to
us by reducing disinterestedness to interest? This is what common sense
invincibly repels.

Poets have no system,--they address themselves to men as they really
are, in order to produce in them certain effects. Is it skilful
selfishness or disinterested virtue that poets celebrate? Do they demand
our applause for the success of fortunate address, or for the voluntary
sacrifices of virtue? The poet knows that there is at the foundation of
the human soul I know not what marvellous power of disinterestedness and
devotedness. In addressing himself to this instinct of the heart, he is
sure of awakening a sublime echo, of opening every source of the

Consult the annals of the human race, and you will find in them man
everywhere, and more and more, claiming his liberty. This word liberty
is as old as man himself. What then! Men wish to be free, and man
himself should not be free! The word nevertheless exists with the most
determined signification. It signifies that man believes himself a free
being, not only animated and sensible, but endowed with will, a will
that belongs to him, that consequently cannot admit over itself the
tyranny of another will which would make, in regard to him, the office
of fatality, even were it that of the most beneficent fatality. Do you
suppose that the word liberty could ever have been formed, if the thing
itself did not exist? None but a free being could possess the idea of
liberty. Will it be said that the liberty of man is only an illusion?
The wishes of the human race are then the most inexplicable
extravagance. In denying the essential distinction between liberty and
fatality, we contradict all languages and all received notions; we have,
it is true, the advantage of absolving tyrants, but we degrade heroes.
They have, then, fought and died for a chimera!

All languages contain the words esteem and contempt. To esteem, to
despise,--these are universal expressions, certain phenomena, from which
an impartial analysis can draw the highest notions. Can we despise a
being who, in his acts, should not be free, a being who should not know
the good, and should not feel himself obligated to fulfil it? Suppose
that the good is not essentially different from the evil, suppose that
there is in the world only interest more or less well understood, that
there is no real duty, and that man is not essentially a free being,--it
is impossible to explain rationally the word contempt. It is the same
with the word esteem.

Esteem is a fact which, faithfully expressed, contains a complete
philosophy as solid as generous. Esteem has two certain characters: 1st,
It is a disinterested sentiment in the soul of him who feels it; 2d, It
is applied only to disinterested acts. We do not esteem at will, and
because it is our interest to esteem. Neither do we esteem an action or
a person because they have been successful. Success, fortunate
calculation, may make us envied; it does not bring esteem, which has
another price.

Esteem in a certain degree, and under certain circumstances, is
respect,--respect, a holy and sacred word which the most subtile or the
loosest analysis will never degrade to expressing a sentiment that is
related to ourselves, and is applied to actions crowned by fortune.

Take again these two words, these two facts analogous to the first two,
admiration and indignation. Esteem and contempt are rather judgments;
indignation and admiration are sentiments, but sentiments that pertain
to intelligence and envelop a judgment.[189]

Admiration is an essentially disinterested sentiment. See whether there
is any interest in the world that has the power to give you admiration
for any thing or any person. If you were interested, you might feign
admiration, but you would not feel it. A tyrant with death in his hand,
may constrain you to appear to admire, but not to admire in reality.
Even affection does not determine admiration; whilst a heroic trait,
even in an enemy, compels you to admire.

The phenomenon opposed to admiration is indignation. Indignation is no
more anger than admiration is desire. Anger is wholly personal.
Indignation is never directly related to us; it may have birth in the
midst of circumstances wherein we are engaged, but the foundation and
the dominant character of the phenomenon in itself is to be
disinterested. Indignation is in its nature generous. If I am a victim
of an injustice, I may feel at once anger and indignation, anger against
him that injures me, indignation towards him who is unjust to one of his
fellow-men. We may be indignant towards ourselves; we are indignant
towards every thing that wounds the sentiment of justice. Indignation
covers a judgment, the judgment that he who commits such or such an
action, whether against us, or even for us, does an action unworthy,
contrary to our dignity, to his own dignity, to human dignity. The
injury sustained is not the measure of indignation, as the advantage
received is not that of admiration. We felicitate ourselves on
possessing or having acquired a useful thing; but we never admire, on
that account, either ourselves or the thing that we have just acquired.
So we repel the stone that wounds us, we do not feel indignant towards

Admiration elevates and ennobles the soul. The generous parts of human
nature are disengaged and exalted in presence of, and as it were in
contact with, the image of the good. This is the reason why admiration
is already by itself so beneficent, even should it be deceived in its
object. Indignation is the result of these same generous parts of the
soul, which, wounded by injustice, are highly roused and protest in the
name of offended human dignity.

Look at men in action, and you will see them imposing upon themselves
great sacrifices in order to conquer the suffrages of their fellows. The
empire of opinion is immense,--vanity alone does not explain it; it
doubtless also pertains to vanity, but it has deeper and better roots.
We judge that other men are, like us, sensible to good and evil, that
they distinguish between virtue and vice, that they are capable of being
indignant and admiring, of esteeming and respecting, as well as
despising. This power is in us, we have consciousness of it, we know
that other men possess it as well as we, and it is this power that
frightens us. Opinion is our own consciousness transferred to the
public, and there disengaged from all complaisance and armed with an
inflexible severity. To the remorse in our own hearts, responds the
shame in that second soul which we have made ourselves, and is called
public opinion. We must not be astonished at the sweets of popularity.
We are more sure of having done well, when to the testimony of our
consciousness we are able to join that of the consciousness of our
fellow-men. There is only one thing that can sustain us against opinion,
and even place us above it: it is the firm and sure testimony of our
consciousness, because, in fine, the public and the whole human race
are compelled to judge us according to appearance, whilst we judge
ourselves infallibly and by the most certain of all knowledge.

Ridicule is the fear of opinion in small things. The force of ridicule
is wholly in the supposition that there is a common taste, a common type
of what is proper, that directs men in their judgments, and even in
their pleasantries, which in their way are also judgments. Without this
supposition, ridicule falls of itself, and pleasantry loses its sting.
But it is immortal, as well as the distinction between good and evil,
between the beautiful and the ugly, between what is proper and what is

When we have not succeeded in any measure undertaken for our interest
and prosperity, we experience a sentiment of pain that is called regret.
But we do not confound regret with that other sentiment that rises in
the soul when we are conscious of having done something morally bad.
This sentiment is also a pain, but of quite a different nature,--it is
remorse, repentance. That we have lost in play, for example, is
disagreeable to us; but if, in gaining, we have the consciousness of
having deceived our adversary, we experience a very different sentiment.

We might prolong and vary these examples. We have said enough to be
entitled to conclude that human language and the sentiments that it
expresses are inexplicable, if we do not admit the essential distinction
between good and evil, between virtue and crime, crime founded on
interest, virtue founded on disinterestedness.

Disturb this distinction, and you disturb human life and entire society.
Permit me to take an extreme, tragic, and terrible example. Here is a
man that has just been judged. He has been condemned to death, and is
about to be executed--to be deprived of life. And why? Place yourself in
the system that does not admit the essential distinction between good
and evil, and ponder on what is stupidly atrocious in this act of human
justice. What has the condemned done? Evidently a thing indifferent in
itself. For if there is no other outward distinction than that of
pleasure and pain, I defy any one to qualify any human action, whatever
it may be, as criminal, without the most absurd inconsequence. But this
thing, indifferent in itself, a certain number of men, called
legislators, have declared to be a crime. This purely arbitrary
declaration has found no echo in the heart of this man. He has not been
able to feel the justice of it, since there is nothing in itself just.
He has therefore done, without remorse, what this declaration
arbitrarily interdicted. The court proceeds to prove to him that he has
not succeeded, but not that he has done contrary to justice, for there
is no justice. I maintain that every condemnation, be it to death, or to
any punishment whatever, imperatively supposes, in order to be any thing
else than a repression of violence by violence, the four following
points:--1st, That there is an essential distinction between good and
evil, justice and injustice, and that to this distinction is attached,
for every intelligent and free being, the obligation of conforming to
good and justice; 2d, That man is an intelligent and free being, capable
of comprehending this distinction, and the obligation that accompanies
it, and of adhering to it naturally, independently of all convention,
and every positive law; capable also of resisting the temptations that
bear him towards evil and injustice, and of fulfilling the sacred law of
natural justice; 3d, That every act contrary to justice deserves to be
repressed by force, and even punished in reparation of the fault
committed, and independently too of all law and all convention; 4th,
That man naturally recognizes the distinction between the merit and
demerit of actions, as he recognizes the distinction between the just
and the unjust, and knows that every penalty applied to an unjust act is
itself most strictly just.

Such are the foundations of that power of judging and punishing which is
entire society. Society has not made those principles for its own use;
they are much anterior to it, they are contemporaneous with thought and
the soul, and upon these rests society, with its laws and its
institutions. Laws are legitimate by their relation to these eternal
laws. The surest power of institutions resides in the respect that
these principles bear with them and extend to every thing that
participates in them. Education develops them, it does not create them.
They direct the legislator who makes the law, and the judge who applies
it. They are present to the accused brought before the tribunal, they
inspire every just sentence, they give it authority in the soul of the
condemned, and in that of the spectator, and they consecrate the
employment of force necessary for his execution. Take away a single one
of these principles, and all human justice is overthrown, no longer is
there any thing but a mass of arbitrary conventions which no one in
conscience is bound to respect, which may be violated without remorse,
which are sustained only by the display of extreme punishments. The
decisions of such a justice are not true judgments, but acts of force,
and civil society is only an arena where men contend with each other
without duties and rights, without any other object than that of
procuring for themselves the greatest possible amount of enjoyment, of
procuring it by conquest and preserving it by force or cunning, save
throwing over all that the cloak of hypocritical laws.

It is true, such is the aspect under which skepticism makes us consider
society and human justice, driving us through despair to revolt and
disorder, and bringing us back through despair again to quite another
yoke than that of reason and virtue, to that regulated disorder which is
called despotism. The spectacle of human things, viewed coolly, and
without the spirit of system, is, thank God, less sombre. Without doubt,
society and human justice have still many imperfections which time
discovers and corrects; but it may be said, that in general they rest on
truth and natural equity. The proof of it is, that society everywhere
subsists, and is even developed. Moreover, facts, were they such as the
melancholy pen of a Pascal or a Rousseau represent them to be, facts are
not all,--before facts is right; and this idea of right alone, if it is
real, suffices to overturn an abasing system, and save human dignity.
Now, is the idea of right a chimera? I again appeal to languages, to
individual consciousness, to the human race,--is it not true that fact
is everywhere distinguished from right, fact which too often, perhaps,
but not always, as it is said, is opposed to right; and right that
subdues and rules fact, or protests against it? What word is it that
restrains most in human societies? Is it not that of right? Look for a
language that does not contain it. On all sides, society is bristling
with rights. There is even a distinction made between natural right and
positive right, between what is legal and what is equitable. It is
proclaimed that force should be in the service of right, and not right
at the mercy of force. The triumphs of force, wherever we perceive them,
either under our eyes, or by the aid of history in bygone centuries, or
by favor of universal publicity beyond the ocean, and in foreign
continents, rouse indignation in the disinterested spectator or reader.
On the contrary, he who inscribes on his banner the name of right, by
that alone interests us; the cause of right, or what we suppose to be
the cause of right, is for us the cause of humanity. It is also a fact,
and an incontestable fact, that in the eyes of man fact is not every
thing, and that the idea of right is a universal idea, graven in shining
and ineffaceable characters, if not in the visible world, at least in
that of thought and the soul; concerning that is the question; it is
also that which in the long run reforms and governs the other.

Individual consciousness, conceived and transferred to the entire
species, is called common sense. It is common sense that has made, that
sustains, that develops languages, natural and permanent beliefs,
society and its fundamental institutions. Grammarians have not invented
languages, nor legislators societies, nor philosophers general beliefs.
All these things have not been personally done, but by the whole
world,--by the genius of humanity.

Common sense is deposited in its works. All languages, and all human
institutions contain the ideas and the sentiments that we have just
called to mind and described, and especially the distinction between
good and evil, between justice and injustice, between free will and
desire, between duty and interest, between virtue and happiness, with
the profoundly rooted belief that happiness is a recompense due to
virtue, and that crime in itself deserves to be punished, and calls for
the reparation of a just suffering.

These things are attested by the words and actions of men. Such are the
sincere and impartial, but somewhat confused, somewhat gross notions of
common sense.

Here begins the part of philosophy. It has before it two different
routes; it can do one of two things: either accept the notions of common
sense, elucidate them, thereby develop and increase them, and, by
faithfully expressing them, fortify the natural beliefs of humanity; or,
preoccupied with such or such a principle, impose it upon the natural
data of common sense, admit those that agree with this principle,
artificially bend the others to these, or openly deny them; this is what
is called making a system.

Philosophic systems are not philosophy; they try to realize the idea of
it, as civil institutions try to realize that of justice, as the arts
express in their way infinite beauty, as the sciences pursue universal
science. Philosophic systems are necessarily very imperfect, otherwise
there never would have been two systems in the world. Fortunate are
those that go on doing good, that expand in the minds and souls of men,
with some innocent errors, the sacred love of the true, the beautiful,
and the good! But philosophic systems follow their times much more than
they direct them; they receive their spirit from the hands of their age.
Transferred to France towards the close of the regency and under the
reign of Louis XV., the philosophy of Locke gave birth there to a
celebrated school, which for a long time governed and still subsists
among us, protected by ancient habits, but in radical opposition to our
new institutions and our new wants. Sprung from the bosom of tempests,
nourished in the cradle of a revolution, brought up under the bad
discipline of the genius of war, the nineteenth century cannot recognize
its image and find its instincts in a philosophy born under the
influence of the voluptuous refinements of Versailles, admirably fitted
for the decrepitude of an arbitrary monarchy, but not for the laborious
life of a young liberty surrounded with perils. As for us, after having
combated the philosophy of sensation in the metaphysics which it
substituted for Cartesianism, and in the deplorable æsthetics, now too
accredited, under which succumbed our great national art of the
seventeenth century, we do not hesitate to combat it again in the ethics
that were its necessary product, the ethics of interest.

The exposition and refutation of these pretended ethics will be the
subject of the next lecture.


[187] See 2d Series, vol. ii., lect. 11 and 12; 4th Series, vol. ii.,
last pages of _Jacqueline Pascal_, and the _Fragments of the Cartesian
Philosophy_, p. 469.

[188] 1st Series, vol. iii., lectures 2 and 3, _Condillac_.

[189] See the Theory of Sentiment, part i., lecture 5.



    Exposition of the doctrine of interest.--What there is of truth
    in this doctrine.--Its defects. 1st. It confounds liberty and
    desire, and thereby abolishes liberty. 2d. It cannot explain the
    fundamental distinction between good and evil. 3d. It cannot
    explain obligation and duty. 4th. Nor right. 5th. Nor the
    principle of merit and demerit.--Consequences of the ethics of
    interest: that they cannot admit a providence, and lead to

The philosophy of sensation, setting out from a single fact, agreeable
or painful sensation, necessarily arrives in ethics at a single
principle,--interest. The whole of the system may be explained as

Man is sensible to pleasure and pain: he shuns the one and seeks the
other. That is his first instinct, and this instinct will never abandon
him. Pleasure may change so far as its object is concerned, and be
diversified in a thousand ways: but whatever form it takes,--physical
pleasure, intellectual pleasure, moral pleasure, it is always pleasure
that man pursues.

The agreeable generalized is the useful; and the greatest possible sum
of pleasure, whatever it may be, no longer concentrated within such or
such an instant, but distributed over a certain extent of duration, is

Happiness, like pleasure, is relative to him who experiences it; it is
essentially personal. Ourselves, and ourselves alone we love, in loving
pleasure and happiness.

Interest is that which prompts us to seek in every thing our pleasure
and our happiness.

If happiness is the sole end of life, interest is the sole motive of all
our actions.

Man is only sensible to his interest, but he understands it well or ill.
Much art is necessary in order to be happy. We are not ready to give
ourselves up to all the pleasures that are offered on the highway of
life, without examining whether these pleasures do not conceal many a
pain. Present pleasure is not every thing,--it is necessary to take
thought for the future; it is necessary to know how to renounce joys
that may bring regret, and sacrifice pleasure to happiness, that is to
say, to pleasure still, but pleasure more enduring and less
intoxicating. The pleasures of the body are not the only ones,--there
are other pleasures, those of mind, even those of opinion: the sage
tempers them by each other.

The ethics of interest are nothing else than the ethics of perfected
pleasure, substituting happiness for pleasure, the useful for the
agreeable, prudence for passion. It admits, like the human race, the
words good and evil, virtue and vice, merit and demerit, punishment and
reward, but it explains them in its own way. The good is that which in
the eyes of reason is conformed to our true interest; evil is that which
is contrary to our true interest. Virtue is that wisdom which knows how
to resist the enticement of passions, discerns what is truly useful, and
surely proceeds to happiness. Vice is that aberration of mind and
character that sacrifices happiness to pleasures without duration or
full of dangers. Merit and demerit, punishment and reward, are the
consequences of virtue and vice:--for not knowing how to seek happiness
by the road of wisdom, we are punished by not attaining it. The ethics
of interest do not pretend to destroy any of the duties consecrated by
public opinion; it establishes that all are conformed to our personal
interest, and it is thereby that they are duties. To do good to men is
the surest means of making them do good to us; and it is also the means
of acquiring their esteem, their good will, and their sympathy,--always
agreeable, and often useful. Disinterestedness itself has its
explanation. Doubtless there is no disinterestedness in the vulgar sense
of the word, that is to say, a real sacrifice of self, which is absurd,
but there is the sacrifice of present interest to future interest, of
gross and sensual passion to a nobler and more delicate pleasure.
Sometimes one renders to himself a bad account of the pleasure that he
pursues, and in fault of seeing clearly into his own heart, invents that
chimera of disinterestedness of which human nature is incapable, which
it cannot even comprehend.

It will be conceded that this explanation of the ethics of interest is
not overcharged, that it is faithful.

We go further,--we acknowledge that these ethics are an extreme, but, up
to a certain point, a legitimate reaction against the excessive rigor of
stoical ethics, especially ascetic ethics that smother sensibility
instead of regulating it, and, in order to save the soul from passions,
demands of it a sacrifice of all the passions of nature that resembles a

Man was not made to be a sublime slave, like Epictetus, employed in
supporting bad fortune well without trying to surmount it, nor, like the
author of the _Imitation_, the angelic inhabitant of a cloister, calling
for death as a fortunate deliverance, and anticipating it, as far as in
him lies, by continual penitence and in mute adoration. The love of
pleasure, even the passions, have a place among the needs of humanity.
Suppress the passions, and it is true there is no more excess; neither
is there any mainspring of action,--without winds the vessel no longer
proceeds, and soon sinks in the deep. Suppose a being that lacks love
of self, the instinct of preservation, the horror of suffering,
especially the horror of death, who has neither the love of pleasure nor
the love of happiness, in a word, destitute of all personal
interest,--such a being will not long resist the innumerable causes of
destruction that surround and besiege him; he will not remain a day.
Never can a single family, nor the least society be formed or
maintained. He who has made man has not confided the care of his work to
virtue alone, to devotedness and sublime charity,--he has willed that
the duration and development of the race and human society should be
placed upon simpler and surer foundations; and this is the reason why he
has given to man the love of self, the instinct of preservation, the
taste of pleasure and happiness, the passions that animate life, hope
and fear, love, ambition, personal interest, in fine, a powerful,
permanent, universal motive that urges us on to continually ameliorate
our condition upon the earth.

So we do not contest with the ethics of interest the reality of their
principle,--we are convinced that this principle exists, that it has a
right to be. The only question that we raise is the following:--The
principle of interest is true in itself, but are there not other
principles quite as true, quite as real? Man seeks pleasure and
happiness, but are there not in him other needs, other sentiments as
powerful, as vital? The first and universal principle of human life is
the need of the individual to preserve himself; but would this principle
suffice to support human life and society entire and as we behold it?

Just as the existence of the body does not hinder that of the soul, and
reciprocally, so in the ample bosom of humanity and the profound designs
of divine Providence, the principles that differ most do not exclude
each other.

The philosophy of sensation continually appeals to experience. We also
invoke experience; and it is experience that has given us certain facts
mentioned in the preceding lecture, which constitute the primary notions
of common sense. We admit the facts that serve as a foundation for the
system of interest, and reject the system. The facts are true in their
proper bearing,--the system is false in attributing to them an
excessive, limitless bearing; and it is false again in denying other
facts quite as incontestable. A sound philosophy holds for its primary
law to collect all real facts and respect the real differences that also
distinguish them. What it pursues before all, is not unity, but
truth.[192] Now the ethics of interest mutilate truth,--they choose
among facts those that agree with them, and reject all the others, which
are precisely the very facts of morality. Exclusive and intolerant, they
deny what they do not explain,--they form a whole well united, which, as
an artificial work, may have its merit, but is broken to pieces as soon
as it comes to encounter human nature with its grand parts.

We are about to show that the ethics of interest, an offspring of the
philosophy of sensation, are in contradiction with a certain number of
phenomena, which human nature presents to whomsoever interrogates it
without the spirit of system.

1st. We have established, not in the name of a system, but in the name
of the most common experience, that entire humanity believes in the
existence, in each of its members, of a certain force, a certain power
that is called liberty. Because it believes in liberty in the
individual, it desires that this liberty should be respected and
protected in society. Liberty is a fact that the consciousness of each
of us attests to him, which, moreover, is enveloped in all the moral
phenomena that we have signalized, in moral approbation and
disapprobation, in esteem and contempt, in admiration and indignation,
in merit and demerit, in punishment and reward. We ask the philosophy of
sensation and the ethics of interest what they do with this universal
phenomena which all the beliefs of humanity suppose, on which entire
life, private and public, turns.

Every system of ethics, whatever it may be, which contains, I do not say
a rule, but a simple advice, implicitly admits liberty. When the ethics
of interest advise a man to sacrifice the agreeable to the useful, it
apparently admits that man is free to follow or not to follow this
advice. But in philosophy it does not suffice to admit a fact, there
must be the right to admit it. Now, most moralists of interest deny the
liberty of man, and no one has the right to admit it in a system that
derives the entire human soul, all its faculties as well as all its
ideas, from sensation alone and its developments.

When an agreeable sensation, after having charmed our soul, quits it and
vanishes, the soul experiences a sort of suffering, a want, a need,--it
is agitated, disquieted. This disquietude, at first vague and
indecisive, is soon determined; it is borne towards the object that has
pleased us, whose absence makes us suffer. This movement of the soul,
more or less vivid, is desire.

Is there in desire any of the characters of liberty? What is it called
to be free? Each one knows that he is free, when he knows that he is
master of his action, that he can begin it, arrest it, or continue it as
he pleases. We are free, when before acting we have taken the resolution
to act, knowing well that we are able to take the opposite resolution. A
free act is that of which, by the infallible testimony of my
consciousness, I know that I am the cause, for which, therefore, I
regard myself as responsible. God, the world, the body, can produce in
me a thousand movements; these movements may seem to the eyes of an
external observer to be voluntary acts; but any error is impossible to
consciousness,--it distinguishes every movement not voluntary, whatever
it may be, from a voluntary act.

True activity is voluntary and free activity. Desire is just the
opposite. Desire, carried to its culmination, is passion; but language,
as well as consciousness, says that man is passive in passion; and the
more vivid passion is, the more imperative are its movements, the
farther is it from the type of true activity in which the soul possesses
and governs itself.

I am no more free in desire than in the sensation that precedes and
determines it. If an agreeable object is presented to me, am I able not
to be agreeably moved? If it is a painful object, am I able not to be
painfully moved? And so, when this agreeable sensation has disappeared,
if memory and imagination remind me of it, is it in my power not to
suffer from no longer experiencing it, is it in my power not to feel the
need of experiencing it again, and to desire more or less ardently the
object that alone can appease the disquietude and suffering of my soul?

Observe well what takes place within you in desire; you recognize in it
a blind emotion, that, without any deliberation on your part, and
without the intervention of your will, rises or falls, increases or
diminishes. One does not desire, and cease to desire, according to his

Will often combats desire, as it often also yields to it; it is not,
therefore, desire. We do not reproach the sensations that objects
produce, nor even the desires that these sensations engender; we do
reproach ourselves for the consent of the will to these desires, and the
acts that follow, for these acts are in our power.

Desire is so little will, that it often abolishes it, and leads man into
acts that he does not impute to himself, for they are not voluntary. It
is even the refuge of many of the accused; they lay their faults to the
violence of desire and passion, which have not left them masters of

If desire were the basis of will, the stronger the desire the freer we
should be. Evidently the contrary is true. As the violence of desire
increases, the dominion of man over himself decreases; and as desire is
weakened and passion extinguished, man repossesses himself.

I do not say that we have no influence over our desires. That two facts
differ, it does not follow that they must be without relation to each
other. By removing certain objects, or even by merely diverting our
thoughts away from the pleasure that they can give us, we are able, to a
certain extent, to turn aside and elude the sensible effects of these
objects, and escape the desire which they might excite in us. One may
also, by surrounding himself with certain objects, in some sort manage
himself, and produce in himself sensations and desires which for that
are not more voluntary than would be the impression made upon us by a
stone with which we should strike ourselves. By yielding to these
desires, we lend them a new force, and we moderate them by a skilful
resistance. One even has some power over the organs of the body, and, by
applying to them an appropriate regimen, he goes so far as to modify
their functions. All this proves that there is in us a power different
from the senses and desire, which, without disposing of them, sometimes
exercises over them an indirect authority.

Will also directs intelligence, although it is not intelligence. To will
and to know are two things essentially different. We do not judge as we
will, but according to the necessary laws of the judgment and the
understanding. The knowledge of truth is not a resolution of the will.
It is not the will that declares, for example, that body is extended,
that it is in space, that every phenomenon has a cause, etc. Yet the
will has much power over intelligence. It is freely and voluntarily that
we work, that we give attention, for a longer or a shorter time, more or
less intense, to certain things; consequently, it is the will that
develops and increases intelligence, as it might let it languish and
become extinguished. It must, then, be avowed that there is in us a
supreme power that presides over all our faculties, over intelligence as
well as sensibility, which is distinguished from them, and is mingled
with them, governs them, or leaves them to their natural development,
making appear, even in its absence, the character that belongs to it,
since the man that is deprived of it avows that he is no longer master
of himself, that he is not himself, so true is it that human personality
resides particularly in that prominent power that is called the

Singular destiny of that power, so often misconceived, and yet so
manifest! Strange confounding of will and desire, wherein the most
opposite schools meet each other, Spinoza, Malebranche, and Condillac,
the philosophy of the seventeenth century, and that of the eighteenth!
One, a despiser of humanity, by an extreme and ill-understood piety,
strips man of his own activity, in order to concentrate it in God; the
other transfers it to nature. In both man is a mere instrument, nothing
else than a mode of God or a product of nature. When desire is once
taken as the type of human activity, there is an end of all liberty and
personality. A philosophy, less systematic, by conforming itself to
facts, carries through common sense to better results. By distinguishing
between the passive phenomenon of desire and the power of freely
determining self, it restores the true activity that characterizes human
personality. The will is the infallible sign and the peculiar power of a
real and effective being; for how could he who should be only a mode of
another being find in his own borrowed being a power capable of willing
and producing acts of which he should feel himself the cause, and the
responsible cause?

If the philosophy of sensation, by setting out from passive phenomena,
cannot explain true activity, voluntary and free activity, we might
regard it as demonstrated that this same philosophy cannot give a true
doctrine of morality, for all ethics suppose liberty. In order to impose
rules of action on a being, it is necessary that this being should be
capable of fulfilling or violating them. What makes the good and evil of
an action is not the action itself, but the intention that has
determined it. Before every equitable tribunal, the crime is in the
intention, and to the intention the punishment is attached. Where, then,
liberty is wanting, where there is nothing but desire and passion, not
even a shade of morality subsists. But we do not wish to reject, by the
previous question, the ethics of sensation. We proceed to examine in
itself the principle that they lay down, and to show that from this
principle can be deduced neither the idea of good and evil, nor any of
the moral ideas that are attached to it.

2d. According to the philosophy of sensation, the good is nothing else
than the useful. By substituting the useful for the agreeable, without
changing the principle, there has been contrived a convenient refuge
against many difficulties; for it will always be possible to distinguish
interest well understood from apparent and vulgar interest. But even
under this somewhat refined form, the doctrine that we are examining
none the less destroys the distinction between good and evil.

If utility is the sole measure of the goodness of actions, I must
consider only one thing when an action is proposed to me to do,--what
advantages can result from it to me?

So I make the supposition that a friend, whose innocence is known to me,
falls into disfavor with a king, or opinion--a mistress more jealous and
imperious than all kings,--and that there is danger in remaining
faithful to him and advantage in separating myself from him; if, on one
side, the danger is certain, and on the other the advantage is
infallible, it is clear that I must either abandon my unfortunate
friend, or renounce the principle of interest--of interest well

But it will be said to me:--think on the uncertainty of human things;
remember that misfortune may also overtake you, and do not abandon your
friend, through fear that you may one day be abandoned.

I respond that, at first, it is the future that is uncertain, but the
present is certain; if I can reap great and unmistakable advantages from
an action, it would be absurd to sacrifice them to the chance of a
possible misfortune. Besides, according to my supposition, all the
chances of the future are in my favor,--this is the hypothesis that we
have made.

Do not speak to me of public opinion. If personal interest is the only
rational principle, the public reason must be with me. If it were
against me, it would be an objection against the truth of the principle.
For how could a true principle, rationally applied, be revolting to the
public conscience?

Neither oppose to me remorse. What remorse can I feel for having
followed the truth, if the principle of interest is in fact moral truth?
On the contrary, I should feel satisfaction on account of it.

The rewards and punishments of another life remain. But how are we to
believe in another life, in a system that confines human consciousness
within the limits of transformed sensation?

I have, then, no motive to preserve fidelity to a friend. And mankind
nevertheless imposes on me this fidelity; and, if I am wanting in it, I
am dishonored.

If happiness is the highest aim, good and evil are not in the act
itself, but in its happy or unhappy results.

Fontenelle seeing a man led to punishment, said, "There is a man who has
calculated badly." Whence it follows that, if this man, in doing what he
did, could have escaped punishment, he would have calculated well, and
his conduct would have been laudable. The action then becomes good or
ill according to the issue. Every act is of itself indifferent, and it
is lot that qualifies it.

If the honest is only the useful, the genius of calculation is the
highest wisdom; it is even virtue!

But this genius is not within the reach of everybody. It supposes, with
long experience of life, a sure insight, capable of discerning all the
consequences of actions, a head strong and large enough to embrace and
weigh their different chances. The young man, the ignorant, the poor in
mind, are not able to distinguish between the good and the evil, the
honest and the dishonest. And even in supposing the most consummate
prudence, what place remains, in the profound obscurity of human things,
for chance and the unforeseen! In truth, in the system of interest well
understood, there must be great knowledge in order to be an honest man.
Much less is requisite for ordinary virtue, whose motto has always been:
Do what you ought, let come what may.[194] But this principle is
precisely the opposite of the principle of interest. It is necessary to
choose between them. If interest is the only principle avowed by reason,
disinterestedness is a lie and madness, and literally an
incomprehensible monster in well-ordered human nature.

Nevertheless humanity speaks of disinterestedness, and thereby it does
not simply mean that wise selfishness that deprives itself of a pleasure
for a surer, more delicate, or more durable pleasure. No one has ever
believed that it was the nature or the degree of the pleasure sought
that constituted disinterestedness. This name is awarded only to the
sacrifice of an interest, whatever it may be, to a motive free from all
interest. And the human race, not only thus understands
disinterestedness, but it believes that such a disinterestedness exists;
it believes the human soul capable of it. It admires the devotedness of
Regulus, because it does not see what interest could have impelled that
great man to go far from his country to seek, among cruel enemies, a
frightful death, when he might have lived tranquil and even honored in
the midst of his family and his fellow-citizens.

But glory, it will be said, the passion of glory inspired Regulus; it
is, then, interest still that explains the apparent heroism of the old
Roman. Admit, then, that this manner of understanding his interest is
even ridiculously absurd, and that heroes are very unskilful and
inconsistent egoists. Instead of erecting statues, with the deceived
human race, to Regulus, d'Assas, and St. Vincent de Paul, true
philosophy must send them to the Petites-Maisons, that a good regime may
cure them of generosity, charity, and greatness of soul, and restore
them to the sane state, the normal state, the state in which man only
thinks of himself, and knows no other law, no other principle of action
than his interest.

3d. If there is no liberty, if there is no essential distinction between
good and evil, if there is only interest well or ill understood, there
can be no obligation.

It is at first very evident that obligation supposes a being capable of
fulfilling it, that duty is applied only to a free being. Then the
nature of obligation is such, that if we are delinquent in fulfilling
it, we feel ourselves culpable, whilst if, instead of understanding our
interest well, we have understood it ill, there follows only a single
thing, that we are unfortunate. Are, then, being culpable and being
unfortunate the same thing? These are two ideas radically different. You
may advise me to understand my interest well, under penalty of falling
into misfortune; you cannot command me to see clearly in regard to my
interest under penalty of crime.

Imprudence has never been considered a crime. When it is morally
accused, it is much less as being wrong than as attesting vices of the
soul, lightness, presumption, feebleness.

As we have said, our true interest is often most difficult of
discernment. Obligation is always immediate and manifest. In vain
passion and desire combat it; in vain the reasoning that passion trains
for its attendance, like a docile slave, tries to smother it under a
mass of sophisms: the instinct of conscience, a cry of the soul, an
intuition of reason, different from reasoning, is sufficient to repel
all sophisms, and make obligation appear.

However pressing may be the solicitations of interest, we may always
enter into contest and arrangement with it. There are a thousand ways of
being happy. You assure me that, by conducting myself in such a manner,
I shall arrive at fortune. Yes, but I love repose more than fortune, and
with happiness alone in view, activity is not better than sloth. Nothing
is more difficult than to advise any one in regard to his interest,
nothing is easier than to advise him in regard to honor.

After all, in practice, the useful is resolved into the agreeable, that
is to say, into pleasure. Now, in regard to pleasure, every thing
depends on humor and temperament. When there is neither good nor evil in
itself, there are no pleasures more or less noble, more or less
elevated; there are only pleasures that are more or less agreeable to
us. Every thing depends on the nature of each one. This is the reason
why interest is so capricious. Each one understands it as it pleases
him, because each one is the judge of what pleases him. One is more
moved by pleasures of the senses; another by pleasures of mind and
heart. To the latter, the passion of glory takes the place of pleasures
of the senses; to the former, the pleasure of dominion appears much
superior to that of glory. Each man has his own passions, each man,
then, has his own way of understanding his interest; and even my
interest of to-day is not my interest of to-morrow. The revolutions of
health, age, and events greatly modify our tastes, our humors. We are
ourselves perpetually changing, and with us change our desires and our

It is not so with obligation. It exists not, or it is absolute. The idea
of obligation implies that of something inflexible. That alone is a duty
from which one cannot be loosed under any pretext, and is, by the same
title, a duty for all. There is one thing before which all the caprices
of my mind, of my imagination, of my sensibility must disappear,--the
idea of the good with the obligation which it involves. To this supreme
command I can oppose neither my humor, nor circumstances, nor even
difficulties. This law admits of no delay, no accommodation, no excuse.
When it speaks, be it to you or me, in whatever place, under whatever
circumstance, in whatever disposition we may be, it only remains for us
to obey. We are able not to obey, for we are free; but every
disobedience to the law appears to ourselves a fault more or less grave,
a bad use of our liberty. And the violated law has its immediate penal
sanction in the remorse that it inflicts upon us.

The only penalty that is brought upon us by the counsels of prudence,
comprehended more or less well, followed more or less well, is, in the
final account, more or less happiness or unhappiness. Now I pray you, am
I obligated to be happy? Can obligation depend upon happiness, that is
to say, on a thing that it is equally impossible for me to always seek
and obtain at will? If I am obligated, it must be in my power to fulfil
the obligation imposed. But my liberty has but little power over my
happiness, which depends upon a thousand circumstances independent of
me, whilst it is all in all in regard to virtue, for virtue is only an
employment of liberty. Moreover, happiness is in itself, morally,
neither better nor worse than unhappiness. If I understand my interest
badly, I am punished for it by regret, not by remorse. Unhappiness can
overwhelm me; it does not disgrace me, if it is not the consequence of
some vice of the soul.

Not that I would renew stoicism and say to suffering, Thou art no evil.
No, I earnestly advise man to escape suffering as much as he can, to
understand well his interest, to shun unhappiness and seek happiness. I
only wish to establish that happiness is one thing and virtue another,
that man necessarily aspires after happiness, but that he is only
obligated to virtue, and that consequently, by the side of and above
interest well understood is a moral law, that is to say, as
consciousness attests, and the whole human race avows, an imperative
prescription of which one cannot voluntarily divest himself without
crime and shame.

4th. If interest does not account for the idea of duty, by a necessary
consequence, it does not more account for that of right; for duty and
right reciprocally suppose each other.

Might and right must not be confounded. A being might have immense
power, that of the whirlwind, of the thunderbolt, that of one of the
forces of nature; if liberty is not joined to it, it is only a fearful
and terrible thing, it is not a person,--it may inspire, in the highest
degree, fear and hope,--it has no right to respect; one has no duties
towards it.

Duty and right are brothers. Their common mother is liberty.

They are born at the same time, are developed and perish together. It
might even be said that duty and right make one, and are the same being,
having a face on two different sides. What, in fact, is my right to your
respect, except the duty you have to respect me, because I am a free
being? But you are yourself a free being, and the foundation of my right
and your duty becomes for you the foundation of an equal right, and in
me of an equal duty.[195]

I say equal with the exactest equality, for liberty, and liberty alone,
is equal to itself. All the rest is diverse; by all the rest men differ;
for resemblance implies difference. As there are no two leaves that are
the same, there are no two men absolutely the same in body, senses,
mind, heart. But it is impossible to conceive of difference between the
free will of one man and the free will of another. I am free or I am not
free. If I am free, I am free as much as you, and you are as much as I.
There is not in this more or less. One is a moral person as much as, and
by the same title as another moral person. Volition, which is the seat
of liberty, is the same in all men. It may have in its service different
instruments, powers different, and consequently unequal, whether
material or spiritual. But the powers of which will disposes are not
it,[196] for it does not dispose of them in an absolute manner. The only
free power is that of will, but that is essentially so. If will
recognizes laws, these laws are not motives, springs that move it,--they
are ideal laws, that of justice, for example; will recognizes this law,
and at the same time it has the consciousness of the ability to fulfil
it or to break it, doing the one only with the consciousness of the
ability to do the other, and reciprocally. Therein is the type of
liberty, and at the same time of true equality; every thing else is
false. It is not true that men have the right to be equally rich,
beautiful, robust, to enjoy equally, in a word, to be equally fortunate;
for they originally and necessarily differ in all those points of their
nature that correspond to pleasure, to riches, to good fortune. God has
made us with powers unequal in regard to all these things. Here equality
is against nature and eternal order; for diversity and difference, as
well as harmony, are the law of creation. To dream of such an equality
is a strange mistake, a deplorable error. False equality is the idol of
ill-formed minds and hearts, of disquiet and ambitious egoism. True
equality accepts without shame all the exterior inequalities that God
has made, and that it is not in the power of man not only to efface, but
even to modify. Noble liberty has nothing to settle with the furies of
pride and envy. As it does not aspire to domination, so, and by virtue
of the same principle, it does not more aspire to a chimerical equality
of mind, of beauty, of fortune, of enjoyments. Moreover, such an
equality, were it possible, would be of little value in its own eyes; it
asks something much greater than pleasure, fortune, rank, to wit,
respect. Respect, an equal respect of the sacred right of being free in
every thing that constitutes the person, that person which is truly man;
this is what liberty and with it true equality claim, or rather
imperatively demand. Respect must not be confounded with homage. I
render homage to genius and beauty. I respect humanity alone, and by
that I mean all free natures, for every thing that is not free in man is
foreign to him. Man is therefore the equal of man precisely in every
thing that makes him man, and the reign of true equality exacts on the
part of all only the same respect for what each one possesses equally in
himself, both young and old, both ugly and beautiful, both rich and
poor, both the man of genius and the mediocre man, both woman and man,
whatever has consciousness of being a person and not a thing. The equal
respect of common liberty is the principle at once of duty and right; it
is the virtue of each and the security of all; by an admirable
agreement, it is dignity among men, and accordingly peace on earth. Such
is the great and holy image of liberty and equality, which has made the
hearts of our fathers beat, and the hearts of all virtuous and
enlightened men, of all true friends of humanity. Such is the ideal that
true philosophy pursues across the ages, from the generous dreams of
Plato to the solid conceptions of Montesquieu, from the first free
legislation of the smallest city of Greece to our declaration of rights,
and the immortal works of the constituent Assembly.

The philosophy of sensation starts with a principle that condemns it to
consequences as disastrous as those of the principle of liberty are
beneficent. By confounding will with desire, it justifies passion, which
is desire in all its force--passion, which is precisely the opposite of
liberty. It accordingly unchains all the desires and all the passions,
it gives full rein to imagination and the heart; it renders each man
much less happy on account of what he possesses, than miserable on
account of what he lacks; it makes him regard his neighbors with an eye
of envy and contempt, and continually pushes society towards anarchy or
tyranny. Whither, in fact, would you have interest lead in the train of
desire? My desire is certainly to be the most fortunate possible. My
interest is to seek to be so by all means, whatever they may be, under
the single reserve that they be not contrary to their end. If I am born
the first of men, the richest, the most beautiful, the most powerful,
etc., I shall do every thing to preserve the advantages I have received.
If fate has given me birth in a rank little elevated, with a moderate
fortune, limited talents, and immense desires--for it cannot too often
be repeated, desire of every kind aspires after the infinite--I shall do
every thing to rise above the crowd, in order to increase my power, my
fortune, my joys. Unfortunate on account of my position in this world,
in order to change it, I dream of, and call for revolutions, it is true,
without enthusiasm and political fanaticism, for interest alone does not
produce these noble follies, but under the sharp goad of vanity and
ambition. Thereby, then, I arrive at fortune and power; interest, then,
claims security, as before it invoked agitation. The need of security
brings me back from anarchy to the need of order, provided order be to
my profit; and I become a tyrant, if I can, or the gilt servant of a
tyrant. Against anarchy and tyranny, those two scourges of liberty, the
only rampart is the universal sentiment of right, founded on the firm
distinction between good and evil, the just and the useful, the honest
and the agreeable, virtue and interest, will and desire, sensation and

5. Let us again signalize one of the necessary consequences of the
doctrine of interest.

A free being, in possession of the sacred rule of justice, cannot
violate it, knowing that he should and may follow it, without
immediately recognizing that he merits punishment. The idea of
punishment is not an artificial idea, borrowed from the profound
calculations of legislators; legislations rest upon the natural idea of
punishment. This idea, corresponding to that of liberty and justice, is
necessarily wanting where the former two do not exist. Does he who
obeys, and fatally obeys his desires, by the attraction of pleasure and
happiness, supposing that, without any other motive than that of
interest, he does an act conformed, externally at least, to the rule of
justice, merit any thing by doing such an action? Not the least in the
world. Conscience attributes to him no merit, and no one owes him thanks
or recompense, for he only thinks of himself. On the other hand, if he
injures others in wishing to serve himself, he does not feel culpable,
and no one can say to him that he has merited punishment. A free being
who wills what he does, who has a law, and can conform to it, or break
it, is alone responsible for his acts. But what responsibility can there
be in the absence of liberty and a recognized and accepted rule of
justice? The man of sensation and desire tends to his own good under the
law of interest, as the stone is drawn towards the centre of the earth
under the law of gravitation, as the needle points to the pole. Man may
err in the pursuit of his interest. In this case, what is to be done!
As it seems, to put him again in the right way. Instead of that, he is
punished. And for what, I pray you? For being deceived. But error merits
advice, not punishment. Punishment has, in the system of interest, no
more the sanction of moral sense than recompense. Punishment is only an
act of personal defence on the part of society; it is an example which
it gives, in order to inspire a salutary terror. These motives are
excellent, if it be added that this punishment is just in itself, that
it is merited, and that it is legitimately applied to the action
committed. Omit that, and the other motives lose their authority, and
there remains only an exercise of force, destitute of all morality. Then
the culprit is not punished; he is smitten, or even put to death, as the
animal that injures instead of serving is put to death without scruple.
The condemned does not bow his head to the wholesome reparation due to
justice, but to the weight of irons or the stroke of the axe. The
chastisement is not a legitimate satisfaction, an expiation which,
comprehended by the culprit, reconciles him in his own eyes with the
order that he has violated. It is a storm that he could not escape; it
is the thunder-bolt that falls upon him; it is a force more powerful
than his own, which compasses and overthrows him. The appearance of
public chastisements acts, without doubt, upon the imagination of
peoples; but it does not enlighten their reason and speak to their
conscience; it intimidates them, perhaps; it does not soften them. So
recompense is only an additional attraction, added to all the others.
As, properly speaking, there is no merit, recompense is simply an
advantage that one desires, that is striven for and obtained without
attaching to it any moral idea. Thus is degraded and effaced the great
institution, natural and divine, of the recompense of virtue by
happiness, and of reparation for a fault by proportionate

We may then draw the conclusion, without fear of its being contradicted
either by analysis or dialectics, that the doctrine of interest is
incompatible with the most certain facts, with the strongest convictions
of humanity. Let us add, that this doctrine is not less incompatible
with the hope of another world, where the principle of justice will be
better realized than in this.

I will not seek whether the sensualistic metaphysics can arrive at an
infinite being, author of the universe and man. I am well persuaded that
it cannot. For every proof of the existence of God supposes in the human
mind principles of which sensation renders no account,--for example, the
universal and necessary principle of causality, without which I should
have no need of seeking, no power of finding the cause of whatever
exists.[198] All that I wish to establish here is, that in the system of
interest, man, not possessing any truly moral attribute, has no right to
put in God that of which he finds no trace either in the world or in
himself. The God of the ethics of interest must be analogous to the man
of these same ethics. How could they attribute to him the justice and
the love--I mean disinterested love--of which they cannot have the least
idea? The God that they can admit loves himself, and loves only himself.
And reciprocally, not considering him as the supreme principle of
charity and justice, we can neither love nor honor him, and the only
worship that we can render him, is that of the fear with which his
omnipotence inspires us.

What holy hope could we then found upon such a God? And we who have some
time grovelled upon this earth, thinking only of ourselves, seeking only
pleasure and a pitiable happiness, what sufferings nobly borne for
justice, what generous efforts to maintain and develop the dignity of
our soul, what virtuous affections for other souls, can we offer to the
Father of humanity as titles to his merciful justice? The principle that
most persuades the human race of the immortality of the soul is still
the necessary principle of merit and demerit, which, not finding here
below its exact satisfaction, and yet under the necessity of finding it,
inspires us to call upon God for its satisfaction, who has not put in
our hearts the law of justice to violate it himself in regard to
us.[199] Now, we have just seen that the ethics of interest destroy the
principle of merit and demerit, both in this world, and above all, in
the world to come. Accordingly, there is no regard beyond this
world,--no recourse to an all-powerful judge, wholly just and wholly
good, against the sports of fortune and the imperfections of human
justice. Every thing is completed for man between birth and death, in
spite of the instincts and presentiments of his heart, and even the
principles of his reason.

The disciples of Helvetius will, perhaps, claim the glory of having
freed humanity from the fears and hopes that turn it aside from its true
interests. It is a service which mankind will appreciate. But since they
confine our whole destiny to this world, let us demand of them what lot
so worthy of envy they have in reserve for us here, what social order
they charge with our good fortune, what politics, in fine, are derived
from their ethics.[200]

You already know. We have demonstrated that the philosophy of sensation
knows neither true liberty nor true right. What, in fact, is will for
this philosophy? It is desire. What, then, is right? The power of
satisfying desires. On this score, man is not free, and right is might.

Once more, nothing pertains less to man than desire. Desire comes of
need which man does not make, which he submits to. He submits in the
same way to desire. To reduce will to desire is to annihilate liberty;
it is worse still, it is to put it where it is not; it is to create a
mendacious liberty that becomes an instrument of crime and misery. To
call man to such a liberty is to open his soul to infinite desires,
which it is impossible for him to satisfy. Desire is in its nature
without limits, and our power is very limited. If we were alone in this
world, we should even then be much troubled to satisfy our desires. But
we press against each other with immense desires, and limited, diverse,
and unequal powers. When right is the force that is in each of us,
equality of rights is a chimera,--all rights are unequal, since all
forces are unequal and can never cease to be so. It is, therefore,
necessary to renounce equality as well as liberty; or if one invents a
false equality as well as a false liberty, he puts humanity in pursuit
of a phantom.

Such are the social elements that the ethics of interest give to
politics. From such elements I defy all the politics of the school of
sensation and interest to produce a single day of liberty and happiness
for the human race.

When right is might, the natural state of men among themselves, is war.
All desiring the same things, they are all necessarily enemies; and in
this war, woe to the feeble, to the feeble in body and the feeble in
mind! The stronger are the masters by perfect right. Since right is
might, the feeble may complain of nature that has not made them strong,
and not complain of the strong man who uses his right in oppressing
them. The feeble then call deception to their aid; and it is in this
strife between cunning and force that humanity combats with itself.

Yes, if there are only needs, desires, passions, interests, with
different forces pitted against each other, war, a war sometimes
declared and bloody, sometimes silent and full of meannesses, is in the
nature of things. No social art can change this nature,--it may be more
or less covered; it always reappears, overcomes and rends the veil with
which a mendacious legislation envelops it. Dream, then, of liberty for
beings that are not free, of equality between beings that are
essentially different, of respect for rights where there is no right,
and of the establishment of justice on an indestructible foundation of
inimical passions! From such a foundation can spring only endless
troubles or oppression, or rather all these evils together in a
necessary circle.

This fatal circle can be broken only by the aid of principles which all
the metamorphoses of sensation do not engender, and for which interest
cannot account, which none the less subsist to the honor and for the
safety of humanity. These principles are those that time has little by
little drawn from Christianity in order to give them for the guidance of
modern societies. You will find them written in the glorious declaration
of rights that forever broke the monarchy of Louis XV., and prepared the
constitutional monarchy. They are in the charter that governs us, in our
laws, in our institutions, in our manners, in the air that we breathe.
They serve at once as foundations for our society and the new philosophy
necessary to a new order.[201]

Perhaps you will ask me how, in the eighteenth century, so many
distinguished, so many honest souls could let themselves be seduced by a
system that must have been revolting to all their sentiments. I will
answer by reminding you that the eighteenth century was an immoderate
reaction against the faults into which had sadly fallen the old age of a
great century and a great king, that is to say, the revocation of the
edict of Nantes, the persecution of all free and elevated philosophy, a
narrow and suspicious devotion, and intolerance, with its usual
companion, hypocrisy. These excesses must have produced opposite
excesses. Mme. de Maintenon opened the route to Mme. de Pompadour. After
the mode of devotion comes that of license; it takes every thing by
storm. It descends from the court to the nobility, to the clergy even,
and accordingly to the people. It carried away the best spirits, even
genius itself. It put a foreign philosophy in the place of the national
philosophy, culpable, persecuted as it had been, for not being
irreconcilable with Christianity. A disciple of Locke, whom Locke had
discarded, Condillac, took the place of Descartes, as the author of
_Candide_ and _la Pucelle_ had taken the place of Corneille and Bossuet,
as Boucher and Vanloo had taken the place of Lesueur and Poussin. The
ethics of pleasure and interest were the necessary ethics of that epoch.
It must not be supposed from this that all souls were corrupt. Men, says
M. Royer-Collard, are neither as good nor as bad as their
principles[202]. No stoic has been as austere as stoicism, no epicurean
as enervated as epicureanism. Human weakness practically baffles
virtuous theories; in return, thank God, the instinct of the heart
condemns to inconsistency the honest man who errs in bad theories.
Accordingly, in the eighteenth century, the most generous and most
disinterested sentiments often shone forth under the reign of the
philosophy of sensation and the ethics of interest. But it is none the
less true, that the philosophy of sensation is false, and the ethics of
interest destructive of all morality.

I should perhaps make an apology for so long a lecture; but it was
necessary to combat seriously a doctrine of morality radically
incompatible with that which I would make penetrate your minds and your
souls. It was especially necessary for me to strip the ethics of
interest of that false appearance of liberty which they usurp in vain. I
maintain, on the contrary, that they are the ethics of slaves, and send
them back to the time when they ruled. Now, the principle of interest
being destroyed, I propose to examine other principles also, less false
without doubt, but still defective, exclusive, and incomplete, upon
which celebrated systems have pretended to found ethics. I will
successively combat these principles taken in themselves, and will then
bring them together, reduced to their just value, in a theory large
enough to contain all the true elements of morality, in order to express
faithfully common sense and entire human consciousness.


[190] On the ethics of interest, to this lecture may be joined those of
vol. iii. of the 1st Series, on the doctrine of Helvetius and St.

[191] The word _bonheur_, which has no exact English equivalent, which
M. Cousin uses in his ethical discussions in the precise sense of the
definition given above, we have sometimes translated happiness,
sometimes good fortune, sometimes prosperity, sometimes fortune. When
one has in mind the thing, he will not be troubled by the more or less
exact word that indicates it:--all language, at best, is only symbolic;
it bears the same relation to thought as the forms of nature do to the
laws that produce and govern them. The true reader never mistakes the
symbol for the thing symbolized, the shadow for the reality.

[192] On the danger of seeking unity before all, see in the 3d Series,
_Fragments Philosophiques_, vol. iv., our _Examination of the Lectures
of M. Laromeguière_.

[193] On the difference between desire, intelligence, and will, see the
_Examination_, already cited, _of the Lectures of M. Laromeguière_.

[194] 1st Series, vol. iii., p. 193: "In the doctrine of interest, every
man seeks the useful, but he is not sure of attaining it. He may, by
dint of prudence and profound combinations, increase in his favor the
chances of success; it is impossible that there should not remain some
chances against him; he never pursues, then, any thing but a probable
result. On the contrary, in the doctrine of duty, I am always sure of
obtaining the last end that I propose to myself, moral good. I risk my
life to save my fellow; if, through mischance, I miss this end, there is
another which does not, which cannot, escape me,--I have aimed at the
good, I have been successful. Moral good, being especially in the
virtuous intention, is always in my power and within my reach; as to the
material good that can result from the action itself, Providence alone
disposes of it. Let us felicitate ourselves that Providence has placed
our moral destiny in our own hands, by making it depend upon the good
and not upon the useful. The will, in order to act in the sad trials of
life, has need of being sustained by certainty. Who would be disposed to
give his blood for an uncertain end? Success is a complicated problem,
that, in order to be solved, exacts all the power of the calculus of
probabilities. What labor and what uncertainties does such a calculus
involve! Doubt is a very sad preparation for action. But when one
proposes before all to do his duty, he acts without any perplexity. Do
what you ought, let come what may, is a motto that does not deceive.
With such an end, we are sure of never pursuing it in vain."

[195] See the development of the idea of right, lectures 14 and 15.

[196] See lecture 14, Theory of liberty.

[197] See the preceding lecture, and lectures 14 and 15.

[198] 1st part, lecture 1.

[199] See lecture 16.

[200] On the politics that are derived from the philosophy of sensation,
see the four lectures that we devoted to the exposition and refutation
of the doctrine of Hobbes, vol. iii. of the 1st Series.

[201] These words sufficiently mark the generous epoch in which we
pronounce them, without wounding the authority and the applauses of a
noble youth, when M. de Châteaubriand covered the Restoration with his
own glory, when M. Royer-Collard presided over public instruction, M.
Pasquier, M. Lainé, M. de Serre over justice and the interior, Marshal
St. Cyr over war, and the Duke de Richelieu over foreign affairs, when
the Duke de Broglie prepared the true legislation of the press, and M.
Decazes, the author of the wise and courageous ordinance of September 5,
1816, was at the head of the councils of the crown; when finally, Louis
XVIII. separated himself, like Henry IV., from his oldest servants in
order to be the king of the whole nation.

[202] _Oeuvres de Reid_, vol. iv., p. 297: "Men are neither as good
nor as bad as their principles; and, as there is no skeptic in the
street, so I am sure there is no disinterested spectator of human
actions who is not compelled to discern them as just and unjust.
Skepticism has no light that does not pale before the splendor of that
vivid internal light that lightens the objects of moral perception, as
the light of day lightens the objects of sensible perception."



    The ethics of sentiment.--The ethics founded on the principle of
    the interest of the greatest number.--The ethics founded on the
    will of God alone.--The ethics founded on the punishments and
    rewards of another life.

Against the ethics of interest, all generous souls take refuge in the
ethics of sentiment. The following are some of the facts on which these
ethics are supported, and by which they seem to be authorized.

When we have done a good action, is it not certain that we experience a
pleasure of a certain nature, which is to us the reward of this action?
This pleasure does not come from the senses--it has neither its
principle nor its measure in an impression made upon our organs. Neither
is it confounded with the joy of satisfied personal interest,--we are
not moved in the same manner, in thinking that we have succeeded, and in
thinking that we have been honest. The pleasure attached to the
testimony of a good conscience is pure; other pleasures are much
alloyed. It is durable, whilst the others quickly pass away. Finally, it
is always within our reach. Even in the midst of misfortune, man bears
in himself a permanent source of exquisite joys, for he always has the
power of doing right, whilst success, dependent upon a thousand
circumstances of which we are not the masters, can give only an
occasional and precarious pleasure.

As virtue has its joys, so crime has its pains. The suffering that
follows a fault is the just recompense for the pleasure that we have
found in it, and is often born with it. It poisons culpable joys and the
successes that are not legitimate. It wounds, rends, bites, thus to
speak, and thereby receives its name.[203] To be man, is sufficient to
understand this suffering,--it is remorse.

Here are other facts equally incontestable:

I perceive a man whose face bears the marks of distress and misery.
There is nothing in this that reaches and injures me; nevertheless,
without reflection or calculation, the sight alone of this suffering man
makes me suffer. This sentiment is pity, compassion, whose general
principle is sympathy.

The sadness of one of my fellow-men inspires me with sadness, and a glad
face disposes me to joy:

    Ut ridentibus arrident, ita flentibus adflent
    Humani vultus.

The joy of others has an echo in our souls, and their sufferings, even
their physical sufferings, communicate themselves to us almost
physically. Not as exaggerated as it has been supposed was that
expression of Mme. de Sévigné to her sick daughter: I have a pain in
your breast.

Our soul feels the need of putting itself in unison, and, as it were, in
equilibrium with that of others. Hence those electric movements, thus to
speak, that run through large assemblies. One receives the
counter-stroke of the sentiments of his neighbors,--admiration and
enthusiasm are contagious, as well as pleasantry and ridicule. Hence
again the sentiment with which the author of a virtuous action inspires
us. We feel a pleasure analogous to that which he feels himself. But are
we witnesses of a bad action? our souls refuse to participate in the
sentiments that animate the culpable man,--they have for him a true
aversion, what is called antipathy.

We do not forget a third order of facts that pertain to the preceding,
but differ from them.

We not only sympathize with the author of a virtuous action, we wish
him well, we voluntarily do good to him, in a certain degree we love
him. This love goes as far as enthusiasm when it has for its object a
sublime act and a hero. This is the principle of the homages, of the
honors that humanity renders to great men. And this sentiment does not
pertain solely to others,--we apply it to ourselves by a sort of return
that is not egoism. Yes, it may be said that we love ourselves when we
have done well. The sentiment that others owe us, if they are just, we
accord to ourselves,--that sentiment is benevolence.

On the contrary, do we witness a bad action? We experience for the
author of this action antipathy; moreover we wish him evil,--we desire
that he should suffer for the fault that he has committed, and in
proportion to the gravity of the fault. For this reason great culprits
are odious to us, if they do not compensate for their crimes by deep
remorse, or by great virtues mingled with their crimes. This sentiment
is not malevolence. Malevolence is a personal and interested sentiment,
which makes us wish evil to others, because they are an obstacle to us.
Hatred does not ask whether such a man is virtuous or vicious, but
whether he obstructs us, surpasses us, or injures us. The sentiment of
which we are speaking is a sort of hatred, but a generous hatred that
neither springs from interest nor envy, but from a shocked conscience.
It is turned against us when we do evil, as well as against others.

Moral satisfaction is not sympathy, neither is sympathy, to speak
rigorously, benevolence. But these three phenomena have the common
character of all being sentiments. They give birth to three different
and analogous systems of ethics.

According to certain philosophers, a good action is that which is
followed by moral satisfaction, a bad action is that which is followed
by remorse. The good or bad character of an action is at first attested
to us by the sentiment that accompanies it. Then, this sentiment, with
its moral signification, we attribute to other men; for we judge that
they do as we do, that in presence of the same actions they feel the
same sentiments.

Other philosophers have assigned the same part to sympathy or

For these the sign and measure of the good is in the sentiments of
affection and benevolence which we feel for a moral agent. Does a man
excite in us by such or such an action a more or less vivid disposition
to wish him well, a desire to see and even make him happy? we may say
that this action is good. If, by a series of actions of the same kind,
he makes this disposition and this desire permanent in us, we judge that
he is a virtuous man. Does he excite an opposite desire, an opposite
disposition? he appears to us a dishonest man.

For the former, the good is that with which we naturally sympathize. Has
a man devoted himself to death through love for his country? this heroic
action awakens in us, in a certain degree, the same sentiments that
inspired him. Bad passions are not thus echoed in our hearts, unless
they find us already very corrupt, and have interest for their
accomplice; but even then there is something in us that revolts against
these passions, and in the most depraved soul subsists a concealed
sentiment of sympathy for the good, and antipathy for the evil.

These different systems may be reduced to a single one, which is called
the ethics of sentiment.

It is not difficult to show the difference which separates these ethics
from those of egoism. Egoism is the exclusive love of self, is the
thoughtful and permanent search for our own pleasure and our own

What is there more opposed to interest than benevolence? In benevolence,
far from wishing others well by reason of our interest, we will
voluntarily risk something, we will make some sacrifice in order to
serve an honest man who has coined our heart. If even in this sacrifice
the soul feels a pleasure, this pleasure is only the involuntary
accompaniment of sentiment, it is not the end proposed,--we feel it
without having sought it. It is, indeed, permitted the soul to taste
this pleasure, for it is nature herself that attaches it to

Sympathy, like benevolence, is related to another than ourselves,--our
interest is not its starting-point. The soul is so constituted that it
is capable of suffering on account of the sufferings of an enemy. That a
man does a noble action, although it opposes our interests, awakens in
us a certain sympathy for that action and its author.

The attempt has been made to explain the compassion with which the
suffering of one of our fellow-men inspires us by the fear that we have
of feeling it in our turn. But the unhappiness for which we feel
compassion, is often so far from us and threatens us so little, that it
would be absurd to fear it. Doubtless, that sympathy may have existence
it is necessary to experience suffering,--_non ignara mali_. For how do
you suppose that I can be sensible to evils of which I form to myself no
idea? But that is only the condition of sympathy. It is not at all
necessary to conclude that it is only a remembrance of our own ills or
the fear of ills to come.

No recurrence to ourselves can account for sympathy. In the first place,
it is involuntary, like antipathy. Then it cannot be supposed that we
sympathize with any one in order to win his benevolence; for he who is
its object often knows not what we feel. What benevolence are we
seeking, when we sympathize with men that we have never seen, that we
never shall see, with men that are no more?

Egoism admits all pleasures; it repels none; it may, if it is
enlightened, if it has become delicate and refined, recommend, as more
durable and less alloyed, the pleasures of sentiment. The ethics of
sentiment would then be confounded with those of egoism, if they should
prescribe obedience to sentiment for the pleasure that we find in it.
There would, then, be no disinterestedness in it,--the individual would
be the centre and sole end of all his actions. But such is not the case.
The charm of the pleasures of conscience comes from the very fact that
we are forgetful of self in the action that has produced them. So if
nature has joined to sympathy and benevolence a true enjoyment, it is
on condition that these sentiments remain as they are, pure and
disinterested; you must only think of the object of your sympathy and
benevolence in order that benevolence and sympathy may receive their
recompense in the pleasure which they give. Otherwise, this pleasure no
longer has its reason for existence, and it is wanting as soon as it
sought for itself. No metamorphose of interest can produce a pleasure
attached to disinterestedness alone.

The ethics of egoism are only a perpetual falsehood,--they preserve the
names consecrated by ethics, but they abolish ethics themselves; they
deceive humanity by speaking to humanity its own language, concealing
under this borrowed language a radical opposition to all the instincts,
to all the ideas that form the treasure of mankind. On the contrary, if
sentiment is not the good itself, it is its faithful companion and
useful auxiliary. It is as it were the sign of the presence of the good,
and renders the accomplishment of it more easy. We always have sophisms
at our disposal, in order to persuade ourselves that our true interest
is to satisfy present passion; but sophism has less influence over the
mind when the mind is in some sort defended by the heart. Nothing is,
therefore, more salutary than to excite and preserve in the soul those
noble sentiments that lift us above the slavery of personal interest.
The habit of participating in the sentiments of virtuous men disposes us
to act like them. To cultivate in ourselves benevolence and sympathy is
to fertilize the source of charity and love, is to nourish and develop
the germ of generosity and devotion.

It is seen that we render sincere homage to the ethics of sentiment.
These ethics are true,--only they are not sufficient for themselves;
they need a principle which authorizes them.

I act well, and I feel on account of it an internal satisfaction: I do
evil, and feel remorse on account of it. These two sentiments do not
qualify the act that I have just done, since they follow it. Would it be
possible for us to feel any internal satisfaction for having acted well
if we did not judge that we had acted well?--any remorse for having
done evil, if we did not judge that we had done evil? At the same time
that we do such or such an act, a natural and instinctive judgment
characterizes it, and it is in consequence of this judgment that our
sensibility is moved. Sentiment is not this primitive and immediate
judgment; far from forming the basis of the idea of the good, it
supposes it. It is manifestly a vicious circle to derive the knowledge
of the good from that which would not exist without this knowledge.[204]

So is it not because we find a good action that we sympathize with it?
Is it not because the dispositions of a man appear to us conformed to
the idea of justice, that we are inclined to participate in them with
him? Moreover, if sympathy were the true criterion of the good, every
thing for which we feel sympathy would be good. But sympathy is not only
related to things in their nature moral, we also sympathize with the
grief and the joy that have nothing to do with virtue and crime. We even
sympathize with physical sufferings. Moral sympathy is only a case of
general sympathy. It must even be acknowledged that sympathy is not
always in accordance with right. We sometimes sympathize with certain
sentiments that we condemn, because, without being in themselves
bad--which would prevent all sympathy--they give an inclination to the
greatest faults; for example, love, which comes so near to irregularity,
and emulation, that so quickly leads to ambition.

Benevolence also is not always determined by the good alone. And, again,
when it is applied to a virtuous man, it supposes a judgment by which we
pronounce that this man is virtuous. It is not because we wish the
author of an action well that we judge that this action is good; it is
because we judge that this action is good that we wish its author well.
This is not all. In the sentiment of benevolence is enveloped a new
judgment which is not in sympathy. This judgment is the following: the
author of a good action deserves to be happy, as the author of a bad
action deserves to suffer in order to expiate it. This is the reason why
we desire happiness for the one and reparatory suffering for the other.
Benevolence is little else than the sensible form of this judgment.

All these sentiments, therefore, suppose an anterior and superior
judgment. Everywhere and always the same vicious circle. From the fact
that the sentiments which we have just described have a moral character,
it is concluded that they constitute the idea of the good, whilst it is
the idea of the good that communicates to them the character that we
perceive in them.

Another difficulty is, that sentiments pertain to sensibility, and
borrow from it something of its relative and changing nature. It is,
then, very necessary that all men should be made to enjoy with the same
delicacy the pleasures of the heart. There are gross natures and natures
refined. If your desires are impetuous and violent, will not the idea of
the pleasures of virtue be in you much more easily overcome by the force
of passion than if nature had given you a tranquil temperament? The
state of the atmosphere, health, sickness, calm or rouse our moral
sensibility. Solitude, by delivering man up to himself, leaves to
remorse all its energy, the presence of death redoubles it; but the
world, noise, force of example, habit, without power to smother it, in
some sort stun it. The spirit has a little season of rest. We are not
always in the vein of enthusiasm. Courage itself has its intermissions.
We know the celebrated expression: He was one day brave. Humor has its
vicissitudes that influence our most intimate sentiments. The purest,
the most ideal sentiment still pertains on some side to organization.
The inspiration of the poet, the passion of the lover, the enthusiasm of
the martyr, have their languors and shortcomings that often depend on
very pitiable material causes. On those perpetual fluctuations of
sentiment, is it possible to ground a legislation equal for all?

Sympathy and benevolence do not escape the conditions of all the
phenomena of sensibility. We do not all possess in the same degree the
power of feeling what others experience. Those who have suffered most
best comprehend suffering, and consequently feel for it the most lively
compassion. With mere imagination one also represents to himself better
and feels more what passes in the souls of his fellow-man. One feels
more sympathy for physical pleasures and pains, another for pleasures
and pains of soul; and each of these sympathies has in each of us its
degrees and variations. They not only differ, they often oppose each
other. Sympathy for talent weakens the indignation that outraged virtue
produces. We overlook many things in Voltaire, in Rousseau, in Mirabeau,
and we excuse them on account of the corruption of their century. The
sympathy caused by the pain of a condemned person renders less lively
the just antipathy excited by his crime. Thus turns and wavers at each
step that sympathy which some would set up as the supreme arbiter of the
good. Benevolence does not vary less. We have souls naturally more or
less affectionate, more or less animated. And, then, like sympathy,
benevolence receives the counter-stroke of different passions that are
mingled with it. Friendship, for example, often renders us, in spite of
ourselves, more benevolent than justice would wish.

Is it not a rule of prudence not to listen to, without always disdaining
them, the inspirations--often capricious--of the heart? Governed by
reason, sentiment becomes to it an admirable support. But, delivered up
to itself, in a little while it degenerates into passion, and passion is
fantastic, excessive, unjust; it gives to the soul spring and energy,
but generally troubles and perverts it. It is even not very far from
egoism, and it usually terminates in that, wholly generous as it is or
seems to be in the beginning. Unless we always keep in sight the good
and the inflexible obligation that is attached to it, unless we always
keep in sight this fixed and immutable point, the soul knows not where
to betake itself on that moving ground that is called sensibility; it
floats from sentiment to passion, from generosity to selfishness,
ascending one day to the pitch of enthusiasm, and the next day
descending to all the miseries of personality.

Thus the ethics of sentiment, although superior to those of interest,
are not less insufficient: 1st. They give as the foundation of the idea
of the good what is founded on this same idea; 2d. The rule that they
propose is too mobile to be universally obligatory.[205]

There is another system of which I will also say, as of the preceding,
that it is not false, but incomplete and insufficient.

The partisans of the ethics of utility and happiness have tried to save
their principle by generalizing it. According to them, the good can be
nothing but happiness; but egoism is wrong in understanding by that the
happiness of the individual; we must understand by it the general

Let us establish, in the first place, that the new principle is entirely
opposed to that of personal interest, for, according to circumstances,
it may demand, not only a passing sacrifice, but an irreparable
sacrifice, that of life. Now, the wisest calculations of personal
interest cannot go thus far.

And, notwithstanding, this principle is far from containing true ethics
and the whole of ethics.

The principle of general interest leans towards disinterestedness, and
this is certainly much; but disinterestedness is the condition of
virtue, not virtue itself. We may commit an injustice with the most
entire disinterestedness. From the fact that an action does not profit
him who does it, it does not follow that it may not be in itself very
unjust, in seeking general interest before all, we escape, it is true,
that vice of soul which is called selfishness, but we may fall into a
thousand iniquities. Or, indeed, it must be felt, that general interest
is always conformed to justice. But these two ideas are not adequate to
each other. If they very often go together, they are sometimes also
separated. Themistocles proposed to the Athenians to burn the fleet of
the allies that was in the port of Athens, and thus to secure to
themselves the supremacy. The project is useful, says Aristides, but it
is unjust, and on account of this simple speech, the Athenians renounce
an advantage that must be purchased by an injustice. Observe that
Themistocles had no particular interest in that; he thought only of the
interest of his country. But, had he hazarded or given his life in order
to engage the Athenians in such an act, he would only have been
consecrating--what has often been seen--an admirable devotion to a
course in itself immoral.

To this it is replied, that if, in the example cited, justice and
interest exclude each other, it is because the interest was not
sufficiently general; and the celebrated maxim is arrived at, that one
must sacrifice himself to his family, his family to the city, the city
to country, country to humanity, that, in fine, the good is the interest
of the greatest number.[206]

When you have gone thus far, you have not yet attained even the idea of
justice. The interest of humanity, like that of the individual, may
accord in fact with justice, for in that there is certainly no
incompatibility, but the two things are none the more identical, so that
we cannot say with exactness that the interest of humanity is the
foundation of justice. A single case, even a single hypothesis, in which
the interest of humanity should not accord with the good, is sufficient
to enable us to conclude that one is not essentially the other.

We go farther: if it is the interest of humanity that constitutes and
measures justice, that only is unjust which this interest declares to be
so. But you are not able to affirm absolutely, that, in any
circumstance, the interest of humanity will not demand such or such an
action; and if it demands it, by virtue of your principle, it will be
necessary to do it, whatever it may be, and to do it inasmuch as it is

You order me to sacrifice particular interest to general interest. But
in the name of what do you order me to do this? Is it in the name of
interest? If interest, as such, must touch me, evidently my interest
must also touch me, and I do not see why I should sacrifice it to that
of others.

The supreme end of human life, you say, is happiness. I hence conclude
very reasonably, that the supreme end of my life is my happiness.

In order to ask of me the sacrifice of my happiness, it must be called
for by some other principle than happiness itself.

Consider to what perplexity this famous principle of the greatest good
of the greatest number condemns me. I have already much difficulty in
discerning my true interest in the obscurity of the future; by
substituting for the infallible voice of justice the uncertain
calculations of personal interest, you have not rendered action easy for
me;[207] but it becomes impossible, if it is necessary to seek, before
acting, what is the interest not only of myself, but of my family, not
only of my family, but of my country, not only of my country, but of
humanity. What! must I embrace the entire world in my foresight? What!
is such the price of virtue? You impose upon me a knowledge that God
alone possesses. Am I in his counsels so as to adjust my actions
according to his decrees? The philosophy of history and the wisest
diplomacy are not, then, sufficient for conducting ourselves well.
Imagine, therefore, that there is no mathematical science of human life.
Chance and liberty confound the profoundest calculations, overturn the
best-established fortunes, relieve the most desperate miseries, mingle
good fortune and bad, confound all foresight.

And would you establish ethics on a foundation so mobile? How much place
you leave for sophism in that complaisant and enigmatical law of general
interest![208] It will not be very difficult always to find some remote
reason of general interest, which will excuse us from being faithful in
the present moment to our friends, when they shall be in misfortune. A
man in adversity addresses himself to my generosity. But could I not
employ my money in a way more useful to humanity? Will not the country
have need of it to-morrow? Let us virtuously keep it for the country
then. Moreover, even where the interest of all seems evident, there
still remains some chance of error; it is, therefore, better to
withhold. It will always be wisdom to withhold. Yes, when it is
necessary, in order to do well, to be sure of serving the greatest
interest of the greatest number, none but the rash and senseless will
dare to act. The principle of general interest will produce, I admit,
great devotedness, but it will also produce great crimes. Is it not in
the name of this principle that fanatics of every kind, fanatics in
religion, fanatics in liberty, fanatics in philosophy, taking it upon
themselves to understand the eternal interest of humanity, have engaged
in abominable acts, mingled often with a sublime disinterestedness?

Another error of this system is that it confounds the good itself with
one of its applications. If the good is the greatest interest of the
greatest number, the consequence is clear, that there are only public
and social ethics, and no private ethics; there is only a single class
of duties, duties towards others, and there are no duties towards
ourselves. But this is retrenching precisely those of our duties that
most surely guarantee the exercise of all the rest.[209] The most
constant relations that I sustain are with that being which is myself.
I am my own most habitual society. I bear in myself, as Plato[210] has
well said, a whole world of ideas, sentiments, desires, passions,
emotions, which claim a legislation. This necessary legislation is

Let us also say a word on a system that, under sublime appearances,
conceals a vicious principle.

There are persons who believe that they are magnifying God, by placing
in his will alone the foundation of the moral law, and the sovereign
motive of humanity in the punishments and rewards that it has pleased
him to attach to the respect and violation of his will.

Let us understand what we are about in a matter of such delicacy.

It is certain, and we shall establish it for the good,[211] as we have
done for the true and the beautiful,[212] it is certain that, from
explanations to explanations, we come to be convinced that God is
definitively the supreme principle of ethics, so that it may be very
truly said, that the good is the expression of his will, since his will
is itself the expression of the eternal and absolute justice that
resides in him. God wills, without doubt, that we should act according
to the law of justice that he has put in our understanding and our
heart; but it is not at all necessary to conclude that he has
arbitrarily instituted this law. Far from that, justice is in the will
of God only because it has its roots in his intelligence and wisdom,
that is to say, in his most intimate nature and essence.

While making, then, every reservation in regard to what is true in the
system that founds ethics on the will of God, we must show what there is
in this system, as it is presented to us, false, arbitrary, and
incompatible with ethics themselves.[213]

In the first place, it does not pertain to the will, whatever it may
be, to institute the good, any more than it belongs to it to institute
the true and the beautiful. I have no idea of the will of God except by
my own, to be sure with the differences that separate what is finite
from what is infinite. Now, I cannot by my will found the least truth.
Is it because my will is limited? No; were it armed with infinite power,
it would, in this respect, be equally impotent. Such is the nature of my
will that, in doing a thing, it is conscious of the power to do the
opposite; and that is not an accidental character of the will, it is its
fundamental character; if, then, it is supposed that truth, or that
first part of it which is called justice, has been established as it is
by an act of volition, human or Divine, it must be acknowledged that
another act might have established it otherwise, and made what is now
just unjust, and what is unjust just. But such mobility is contrary to
the nature of justice and truth. In fact, moral truths are as absolute
as metaphysical truths. God cannot make effects exist without a cause,
phenomena without a substance; neither can he make it evil to respect
his word, to love truth, to repress one's passions. The principles of
ethics are immutable axioms like those of geometry. Of moral laws
especially must be said what Montesquieu said of all laws in
general,--they are necessary relations that are derived from the nature
of things.

Let us suppose that the good and the just are derived from the divine
will; on the divine will obligation will also rest. But can any will
whatever be the foundation of obligation? The divine will is the will
of an omnipotent being, and I am a feeble being. This relation of a
feeble being to an omnipotent being, does not contain in itself any
moral idea. One may be forced to obey the stronger, but he is not
obligated to do it. The sovereign orders of the will of God, if his will
could for a moment be separated from his other attributes, would not
contain the least ray of justice; and, consequently, there would not
descend into my soul the least shade of obligation.

One will exclaim,--It is not the arbitrary will of God that makes the
foundation of obligation and justice; it is his just will. Very well.
Every thing changes then. It is not the pure will of God that obligates
us, it is the motive itself that determines his will, that is to say,
the justice passed into his will. The distinction between the just and
the unjust is not then the work of his will.

One of two things. Either we found ethics on the will of God alone, and
then the distinction between good and evil, just and unjust, is
gratuitous, and moral obligation does not exist; or you give authority
to the will of God by justice, which, in your hypothesis, must have
received from the will of God its authority, which is a _petitio

Another _petitio principii_ still more evident. In the first place, you
are compelled, in order legitimately to draw justice from the will of
God, to suppose that this will is just, or I defy any one to show that
this will alone can ever form the basis of justice. Moreover, evidently
you cannot comprehend what a just will of God is, if you do not already
possess the idea of justice. This idea, then, does not come from that of
the will of God.

On the one hand, you may have, and you do have, the idea of justice,
without understanding the will of God; on the other, you cannot conceive
the justice of the divine will, without having conceived justice

Are not these reasons sufficient, I pray you, to conclude that the sole
will of God is not for us the principle of the idea of the good?

And now, behold the natural consummation of the ethical system that we
are examining:--the just and the unjust are what it has pleased God to
declare such, by attaching to them the rewards and punishments of
another life. The divine will manifests itself here only by an arbitrary
order; it adds to this order promises and threats.

But to what human faculty are addressed the promise and threat of the
chastisements and the rewards of another life? To the same one that in
this life fears pain and seeks pleasure, shuns unhappiness and desires
happiness, that is to say, to sensibility animated by imagination, that
is to say, again, to what is most changing in each of us and most
different in the human species. The joys and sufferings of another life
excite in us the two most vivid but most mobile passions, hope and fear.
Every thing influences our fears and hopes,--aye, health, the passing
cloud, a ray of the sun, a cup of coffee, a thousand causes of this
kind. I have known men, even philosophers, who on certain days hoped
more, and other days less. And such a basis some would give to ethics!
Then it is doing nothing else than proposing for human conduct an
interested motive. The calculation which I obey is purer, if you will;
the happiness that one makes me hope for is greater; but I see in that
no justice that obligates me, no virtue and no vice in me, who know or
do not know how to make this calculation, not having a head as strong as
that of Pascal,[214] who yield to or resist those fears and hopes
according to the deposition of my sensibility and my imagination, over
which I have no power. Finally, the pains and pleasures of the future
life are instituted on the ground of punishments and rewards. Now, none
but actions in themselves good or bad can be rewarded and punished. If
already there is in itself no good, no law that in conscience we are
obligated to follow, there is neither merit nor demerit; recompense is
not then recompense, nor penalty penalty, since they are such only on
the condition of being the complement and the sanction of the idea of
the good. Where this idea does not pre-exist, there remain, instead of
recompense and penalty, only the attraction of pleasure and the fear of
suffering, added to a prescription deprived in itself of morality. In
that we come back to the punishments of earth invented for the purpose
of frightening popular imagination, and supported solely on the decrees
of legislators, on an abstraction of good and evil, of justice and
injustice, of merit and demerit. It is the worst human justice that is
found thus transported into heaven. We shall see that the human soul has
foundation somewhat solider.[215]

These different systems, false or incomplete, having been rejected, we
arrive at the doctrine that is to our eyes perfect truth, because it
admits only certain facts, neglects none, and maintains for all of them
their character and rank.


[203] _Mordre_--to bite, is the main root of _remords_--remorse.

[204] See 1st part, lecture 5, _On Mysticism_, and 2d part, lecture 6,
_On the Sentiment of the Beautiful_. See, also, 1st Series, vol. iv.,
detailed refutation of the Theories of Hutcheson and Smith.

[205] We do not grow weary of citing M. Royer-Collard. He has marked the
defects of the ethics of sentiment in a lively and powerful passage,
from which we borrow some traits. _Oeuvres de Reid_, vol. iii., p.
410, 411: "The perception of the moral qualities of human actions is
accompanied by an emotion of the soul that is called _sentiment_.
Sentiment is a support of nature that invites us to good by the
attraction of the noblest joys of which man is capable, and turns us
from evil by the contempt, the aversion, the horror with which it
inspires us. It is a fact that by the contemplation of a beautiful
action or a noble character, at the same time that we perceive these
qualities of the action and the character (perception, which is a
judgment), we feel for the person a love mingled with respect, and
sometimes an admiration that is full of tenderness. A bad action, a
loose and perfidious character, excite a contrary perception and
sentiment. The internal approbation of conscience and remorse are
sentiments attached to the perception of the moral qualities of our own
actions.... I do not weaken the part of sentiment; yet it is not true
that ethics are wholly in sentiment; if we maintain this, we annihilate
moral distinctions.... Let ethics be wholly in sentiment, and nothing is
in itself good, nothing is in itself evil; good and evil are relative;
the qualities of human actions are precisely such as each one feels them
to be. Change sentiment, and you change every thing; the same action is
at once good, indifferent, and bad, according to the affection of the
spectator. Silence sentiment, and actions are only physical phenomena;
obligation is resolved into inclinations, virtue into pleasure, honesty
into utility. Such are the ethics of Epicurus: _Dii meliora piis_!"

[206] In this formula is recognized the system of Bentham, who, for some
time, had numerous partisans in England, and even in France.

[207] See lecture 12.

[208] 1st Series, vol. iv., p. 174: "If the good is that alone which
must be the most useful to the greatest number, where can the good be
found, and who can discern it? In order to know whether such an action,
which I propose to myself to do, is good or bad, I must be sure, in
spite of its visible and direct utility in the present moment, that it
will not become injurious in a future that I do not yet know. I must
seek whether, useful to mine and those that surround me, it will not
have counter-strokes disastrous to the human race, of which I must think
before all. It is important that I should know whether the money that I
am tempted to give this unfortunate who needs it, could not be otherwise
more usefully employed, in fact, the rule is here the greatest good of
the greatest number. In order to follow it, what calculations are
imposed on me? In the obscurity of the future, in the uncertainty of the
somewhat remote consequences of every action, the surest way is to do
nothing that is not related to myself, and the last result of a prudence
so refined is indifference and egoism. Supposing you have received a
deposit from an opulent neighbor, who is old and sick, a sum of which he
has no need, and without which your numerous family runs the risk of
dying with famine. He calls on you for this sum,--what will you do? The
greatest number is on your side, and the greatest utility also; for this
sum is insignificant for your rich neighbor, whilst it will save your
family from misery, and perhaps from death. Father of a family, I should
like much to know in the name of what principle you would hesitate to
retain the sum which is necessary to you? Intrepid reasoner, placed in
the alternative of killing this sick old man, or of letting your wife
and children die of hunger, in all honesty of conscience you ought to
kill him. You have the right, it is even your duty to sacrifice the less
advantage of a single person to much the greater advantage of a greater
number; and since this principle is the expression of true justice, you
are only its minister in doing what you do. A vanquishing enemy or a
furious people threaten destruction to a whole city, if there be not
delivered up to them the head of such a man, who is, nevertheless,
innocent. In the name of the greatest good of the greatest number, this
man will be immolated without scruple. It might even be maintained that
innocent to the last, he has ceased to be so, since he is an obstacle to
the public good. It having once been declared that justice is the
interest of the greatest number, the only question is to know where this
interest is. Now, here, doubt is impossible, therefore, it is perfectly
just to offer innocence as a holocaust to public safety. This
consequence must be accepted, or the principle rejected."

[209] See lecture 15, _Private and Public Ethics_.

[210] Plato, _Republic_, vol. ix. and x. of our translation.

[211] Lecture 16.

[212] Lectures 4 and 7.

[213] This polemic is not new. The school of St. Thomas engaged in it
early against the theory of Occam, which was quite similar to that which
we combat. See our _Sketch of a General History of Philosophy_, 2d
Series, vol. ii., lect. 9, _On Scholasticism_. Here are two decisive
passages from St. Thomas, 1st book of the _Summation against the
Gentiles_, chap. lxxxvii: "Per prædicta autem excluditur error dicentiam
omnia procedere a Deo secundum simplicem voluntatem, ut de nullo
oporteat rationem reddere, nisi quia Deus vult. Quod etiam divinæ
Scripturæ contrariatur, quæ Deum perhibet secundum ordinem sapientiæ suæ
omnia fecisse, secundum illud Psalm ciii.: omnia in sapientia fecisti."
_Ibid._, book ii., chap. xxiv.: "Per hoc autem excluditur quorundam
error qui dicebant omnia ex simplica divina voluntate dependere aliqua

[214] See the famous calculus applied to the immortality of the soul,
_Des Pensées de Pascal_, vol. i. of the 4th Series, p. 229-235 and p.

[215] Lecture 16.



    Description of the different facts that compose the moral
    phenomena.--Analysis of each of these facts:--1st, Judgment and
    idea of the good. That this judgment is absolute. Relation
    between the true and the good.--2d, Obligation. Refutation of
    the doctrine of Kant that draws the idea of the good from
    obligation instead of founding obligation on the idea of the
    good.--3d, Liberty, and the moral notions attached to the notion
    of liberty.--4th, Principle of merit and demerit. Punishments
    and rewards.--5th, Moral sentiments.--Harmony of all these facts
    in nature and science.

Philosophic criticism is not confined to discerning the errors of
systems; it especially consists in recognizing and disengaging the
truths mixed with these errors. The truths scattered in different
systems compose the whole truth which each of these almost always
expresses on a single side. So, the systems that we have just run over
and refuted deliver up to us, in some sort, divided and opposed to each
other, all the essential elements of human morality. The only question
is to collect them, in order to restore the entire moral phenomenon. The
history of philosophy, thus understood, prepares the way for or confirms
psychological analysis, as psychological analysis receives from the
history of philosophy its light. Let us, then, interrogate ourselves in
presence of human actions, and faithfully collect, without altering them
by any preconceived system, the ideas and the sentiments of every kind
that the spectacle of these actions produce in us.

There are actions that are agreeable or disagreeable to us, that procure
us advantages or injure us, in a word, that are, in one way or another,
directly or indirectly, addressed to our interest. We are rejoiced with
actions that are useful to us, and shun those that may injure us. We
seek earnestly and with the greatest effort what seems to us our

This is an incontestable fact. Here is another fact that is not less

There are actions that have no relation to us, that, consequently, we
cannot estimate and judge on the ground of our interest, that we
nevertheless qualify as good or bad.

Suppose that before your eyes a man, strong and armed, falls upon
another man, feeble and disarmed, whom he maltreats and kills, in order
to take away his purse. Such an action does not reach you in any way,
and, notwithstanding, it fills you with indignation.[216] You do every
thing in your power that this murderer may be arrested and delivered up
to justice; you demand that he shall be punished, and if he is punished
in one way or another, you think that it is just; your indignation is
appeased only after a chastisement proportioned to the crime committed
has been inflicted on the culprit. I repeat that in this you neither
hope nor fear any thing for yourself. Were you placed in an inaccessible
fortress, from the top of which you might witness this scene of murder,
you would feel these sentiments none the less.

This is only a rude picture of what takes place in you at the sight of a
crime. Apply now a little reflection and analysis to the different
traits of which this picture is composed, without destroying their
nature, and you will have a complete philosophic theory.

What is it that first strikes you in what you have experienced? It is
doubtless the indignation, the instinctive horror that you have felt.
There is, then, in the soul a power of raising indignation that is
foreign to all personal interests! There are, then, in us sentiments of
which we are not the end! There is an antipathy, an aversion, a horror,
that are not related to what injures us, but to acts whose remotest
influence cannot reach us, that we detest for the sole reason that we
judge them to be bad!

Yes, we judge them to be bad. A judgment is enveloped under the
sentiments that we have just mentioned. In fact, in the midst of the
indignation that transports you, let one tell you that all this generous
anger pertains to your particular organization, and that, after all, the
action that takes place is indifferent,--you revolt against such an
explanation, you exclaim that the action is bad in itself; you not only
express a sentiment, you pronounce a judgment. The next day after the
action, when the feelings that agitated your soul have been quieted, you
none the less still judge that the action was bad; you judge thus six
months after, you judge thus always and everywhere; and it is because
you judge that this action is in itself bad, that you bear this other
judgment, that it should not have been done.

This double judgment is at the foundation of sentiment; otherwise
sentiment would be without reason. If the action is not bad in itself,
if he who has done it was not obligated not to do it, the indignation
that we experience is only a physical emotion, an excitement of the
senses, of the imagination, of the heart,--a phenomenon destitute of
every moral character, like the trouble that visits us before some
frightful scene of nature. You cannot rationally feel indignation for
the author of an indifferent action. Every sentiment of disinterested
anger against the author of an action supposes in him who feels it, this
double conviction:--1st, That the action is in itself bad; 2d, That it
should not have been done.

This sentiment also supposes that the author of this action has himself
a consciousness of the evil that he has done, and of the obligation that
he has violated; for without this he would have acted like a brutal and
blind force, not like an intelligent and moral force, and we should have
felt towards him no more indignation than towards a rock that falls on
our head, towards a torrent that sweeps us away into an abyss.

Indignation equally supposes in him who is the object of it an other
character still, to wit, that he is free,--that he could do or not do
what he has done. It is evident that the agent must be free in order to
be responsible.

You desire that the murderer may be arrested and delivered up to
justice, you desire that he may be punished; when he has been arrested,
delivered up to justice, and punished, you are satisfied. What does that
mean? Is it a capricious movement of the imagination and heart? No. Calm
or indignant, at the moment of the crime or a long time after, without
any spirit of personal vengeance, since you are not the least interested
in this affair, you none the less declare that the murderer ought to be
punished. If, instead of receiving a punishment, the culpable man makes
his crime a stepping-stone to fortune, you still declare that, far from
deserving prosperity, he deserves to suffer in reparation of his fault;
you protest against lot, and appeal to a superior justice. This judgment
philosophers have called the judgment of merit and demerit. I suppose,
in the mind of man, the idea of a supreme law that attaches happiness to
virtue, unhappiness to crime. Omit the idea of this law, and the
judgment of merit and demerit is without foundation. Omit this judgment,
and indignation against prosperous crime and the neglect of virtue is an
unintelligible, even an impossible sentiment, and never, at the sight of
crime, would you think of demanding the chastisement of a criminal.

All the parts of the moral phenomenon are connected together; all are
equally certain parts,--destroy one, and you completely overturn the
whole phenomenon. The most common observation bears witness to all these
facts, and the least subtle logic easily discovers their connection. It
is necessary to renounce even sentiment, or it must be avowed that
sentiment covers a judgment, the judgment of the essential distinction
between good and evil, that this distinction involves an obligation,
that this obligation is applied to an intelligent and free agent; in
fine, it must be observed that the distinction between merit and
demerit, that corresponds to the distinction between good and evil,
contains the principle of the natural harmony between virtue and

What have we done thus far? We have done as the physicist or chemist
does, who submits a composite body to analysis and reduces it to its
simple elements. The only difference here is that the phenomenon to
which our analysis is applied is in us, instead of being out of us.
Besides, the processes employed are exactly the same; there is in them
neither system nor hypothesis; there are only experience and the most
immediate induction.

In order to render experience more certain, we may vary it. Instead of
examining what takes place in us when we are spectators of bad or good
actions in another, let us interrogate our own consciousness when we are
doing well or ill. In this case, the different elements of the moral
phenomenon are still more striking, and their order appears more

Suppose that a dying friend has confided to me a more or less important
deposit, charging me to remit it after his death to a person whom he has
designated to me alone, and who himself knows not what has been done in
his favor. He who confided to me the deposit dies, and carries with him
his secret; he for whom the deposit has been made to me has no knowledge
of it; if, then, I wish to appropriate this deposit to myself, no one
will ever be able to suspect me. In this case what should I do? It is
difficult to imagine circumstances more favorable for crime. If I
consult only interest, I ought not to hesitate to return the deposit. If
I hesitate, in the system of interest, I am senseless, and I revolt
against the law of my nature. Doubt alone, in the impunity that is
assured me, would betray in me a principle different from interest.

But naturally I do not doubt, I believe with the most entire certainty,
that the deposit confided to me does not belong to me, that it has been
confided to me to be remitted to another, and that to this other it
belongs. Take away interest, and I should not even think of returning
this deposit,--it is interest alone that tempts me. It tempts me, it
does not bear me away without resistance. Hence the struggle between
interest and duty,--a struggle filled with troubles, opposite
resolutions, by turns taken and abandoned; it energetically attests the
presence of a principle of action different from interest and quite as

Duty succumbs, interest triumphs over it. I retain the deposit that has
been confided to me, and apply it to my own wants, and to the wants of
my family; it makes me rich, and in appearance happy; but I internally
suffer with that bitter and secret suffering that is called
remorse.[217] The fact is certain; it has been a thousand times
described; all languages contain the word, and there is no one who, in
some degree, has not experienced the thing, that sharp gnawing at the
heart which is caused by every fault, great or small, as long as it has
not been expiated. This painful recollection follows me in the midst of
pleasures and prosperity. The applauses of the crowd are not able to
silence this inexorable witness. Only a long habit of sin and crime, an
accumulation of oft-repeated faults, can compass this sentiment, at once
avenging and expiatory. When it is stifled, every resource is lost, and
an end is made of the soul's life; as long as it endures, the sacred
fire is not wholly extinguished.

Remorse is a suffering of a particular character. In remorse I do not
suffer on account of such an impression made upon my senses, nor on
account of the thwarting of my natural passions, nor on account of the
injury done or threatened to my interest, nor by the disquietude of my
hopes and the agony of my fears: no, I suffer without any external
cause, yet I suffer in the most cruel manner. I suffer for the sole
reason that I have a consciousness of having committed a bad action
which I knew I was obligated not to commit, which I was able not to
commit, which leaves behind it a chastisement that I know to be
deserved. No exact analysis can take away from remorse, without
destroying it, a single one of these elements. Remorse contains the idea
of good and evil, of an obligatory law, of liberty, of merit and
demerit. All these ideas were already in the struggle between good and
evil; they reappear in remorse. In vain interest counselled me to
appropriate the deposit that had been confided to me; something said to
me, and still says to me, that to appropriate it is to do evil, is to
commit an injustice; I judged, and judge, thus, not such a day, but
always, not under such a circumstance, but under all circumstances. In
vain I say to myself that the person to whom I ought to remit this
deposit has no need of it, and that it is necessary to me; I judge that
a deposit must be respected without regard to persons, and the
obligation that is imposed on me appears inviolable and absolute. Having
taken upon myself this obligation, I believe by this fact alone that I
have the power to fulfil it: this is not all; I am directly conscious of
this power, I know with the most certain knowledge that I am able to
keep this deposit or to remit it to the lawful owner; and it is
precisely because I am conscious of this power that I judge that I have
deserved punishment for not having made the use of it for which it was
given me. It is, in fine, because I have a lively consciousness of all
that, that I experience this sentiment of indignation against myself,
this suffering of remorse which expresses in itself the moral phenomenon

According to the rules of the experimental method, let us take an
opposite course; let us suppose that, in spite of the suggestions of
interest, in spite of the pressing goad of misery, in order to be
faithful to pledged faith, I send the deposit to the person that had
been designated to me; instead of the painful scene that just now passed
in consciousness, there passes another quite as real, but very
different. I know that I have done well; I know that I have not obeyed a
chimera, an artificial and mendacious law, but a law true, universal,
obligatory upon all intelligent and free beings. I know that I have made
a good use of my liberty; I have of this liberty, by the very use that I
have made of it, a sentiment more distinct, more energetic, and, in some
sort, triumphant. Every opinion would accuse me in vain, I appeal from
it to a better justice, and this justice is already declared in me by
sentiments that press upon each other in my soul. I respect myself,
esteem myself, and believe that I have a right to the esteem of others;
I have the sentiment of my dignity; I feel for myself only sentiments of
affection opposed to that species of horror for myself with which I was
just now inspired. Instead of remorse, I feel an incomparable joy that
no one can deprive me of, that, were every thing else wanting to me,
would console and support me. This sentiment of pleasure is as
penetrating, as profound as was the remorse. It expresses the
satisfaction of all the generous principles of human nature, as remorse
represented their revolt. It testifies by the internal happiness that it
gives me to the sublime accord between happiness and virtue, whilst
remorse is the first link in that fatal chain, that chain of iron and
adamant, which, according to Plato,[218] binds pain to transgression,
trouble to passion, misery to faithlessness, vice, and crime.

Moral sentiment is the echo of all the moral judgments and entire moral
life. It is so striking that it has been regarded by a somewhat
superficial philosophy as sufficient to found entire ethics; and,
nevertheless, we have just seen that this admirable sentiment would not
exist without the different judgments that we have just enumerated; it
is their consequence, but not their principle; it supplies, but does not
constitute them; it does not take their place, but sums them up.

Now that we are in possession of all the elements of human morality, we
proceed to take these elements one by one, and submit them to a detailed

That which is most apparent in the complex phenomenon that we are
studying is sentiment; but its foundation is judgment.

The judgment of good and evil is the principle of all that follows it;
but this judgment rests only on the constitution itself of human nature,
like the judgment of the true and the judgment of the beautiful. As well
as these two judgments,[219] that of the good is a simple, primitive,
indecomposable judgment.

Like them, again, it is not arbitrary. We cannot but fear this judgment
in presence of certain acts; and, in fearing it, we know that it does
not make good or evil, but declares it. The reality of moral
distinctions is revealed by this judgment, but it is independent of it,
as beauty is independent of the eye that perceives it, as universal and
necessary truths are independent of the reason that discovers them.[220]

Good and evil are real characters of human actions, although these
characters might not be seen with our eyes nor touched with our hands.
The moral qualities of an action are none the less real for not being
confounded with the material qualities of this action. This is the
reason why actions materially identical may be morally very different. A
homicide is always a homicide; nevertheless, it is often a crime, it is
also often a legitimate action, for example, when it is not done for the
sake of vengeance, nor for the sake of interest, in a strict case of

It is not the spilling of blood that makes the crime, it is the spilling
of innocent blood. Innocence and crime, good and evil, do not reside in
such or such an external circumstance determined one for all. Reason
recognizes them with certainty under the most different appearances, in
circumstances sometimes the same and sometimes dissimilar.

Good and evil almost always appear to us connected with particular
actions; but it is not on account of what is particular in them that
these actions are good or bad. So when I declare that the death of
Socrates is unjust, and that the devotion of Leonidas is admirable, it
is the unjust death of a wise man that I condemn, and the devotion of a
hero that I admire. It is not important whether this hero be called
Leonidas or d'Assas, whether the immolated sage be called Socrates or

The judgment of the good is at first applied to particular actions, and
it gives birth to general principles which in course serve us as rules
for judging all actions of the same kind. As after having judged that
such a particular phenomenon has such a particular cause, we elevate
ourselves to the general principle that every phenomenon has its
cause;[221] so we erect into a general rule the moral judgment that we
have borne in regard to a particular fact. Thus, at first we admire the
death of Leonidas, thence we elevate ourselves to the principle that it
is good to die for one's country. We already possess the principle in
its first application to Leonidas; otherwise, this particular
application would not have been legitimate, it would not have been even
possible; but we possess it implicitly; as soon as it is disengaged, it
appears to us under its universal and pure form, and we apply it to all
analogous cases.

Ethics have their axioms like other sciences; and these axioms are
rightly called in all languages moral truths.

It is good not to violate one's oath, and in this is also involved a
truth. In fact, an oath is founded in the truth of things,--its good is
only derived. Moral truths considered in themselves have no less
certainty than mathematical truths. The idea of a deposit being given, I
ask whether the idea of faithfully keeping it is not necessarily
attached to it, as to the idea of a triangle is attached the idea that
its three angles are equal to two right angles. You may withhold a
deposit; but, in withholding it, do not believe that you change the
nature of things, nor that you make it possible for a deposit ever to
become property. These two ideas exclude each other. You have only a
false semblance of property; and all the efforts of passion, all the
sophisms of interest will not reverse the essential differences. This is
the reason why moral truth is so troublesome,--it is because, like all
truth, it is what it is, and does not bend to any caprice. Always the
same and always present, in spite of all our efforts, it inexorably
condemns, with a voice always heard, but not always listened to, the
sensible and the culpable will which thinks to hinder it from being by
denying it, or rather by pretending to deny it.

Moral truths are distinguished from other truths by the singular
character that, as soon as we perceive them, they appear to us as the
rule of our conduct. If it is true that a deposit is made to be remitted
to its legitimate possessor, it is necessary to remit it to him. To the
necessity of believing is here added the necessity of practising.

The necessity of practising is obligation. Moral truths, in the eyes of
reason necessary, are to the will obligatory.

Moral obligation, like the moral truth that is its foundation, is
absolute. As necessary truths are not more or less necessary,[222] so
obligation is not more or less obligatory. There are degrees of
importance between different obligations; but there are no degrees in
the same obligation. We are not somewhat obligated, almost obligated; we
are either wholly obligated, or not at all.

If obligation is absolute, it is immutable and universal. For, if the
obligation of to-day were not the obligation of to-morrow, if what is
obligatory for me were not so for you, obligation would differ from
itself, would be relative and contingent.

This fact of absolute, immutable, universal obligation is so certain and
so manifest, in spite of all the efforts of the doctrine of interest to
obscure it, that one of the profoundest moralists of modern philosophy,
particularly struck with this fact, has regarded it as the principle of
the whole of ethics. By separating duty from interest which ruins it,
and from sentiment which enervates it, Kant restored to ethics their
true character. He elevated himself very high in the century of
Helvetius, in elevating himself to the holy law of duty; but he still
did not ascend high enough, he did not reach the reason itself of duty.

The good for Kant is what is obligatory. But logically, whence comes the
obligation of performing an action, if not from the intrinsic goodness
of this act? Is it not because that, in the order of reason, it is
absolutely impossible to regard a deposit as a property, that we cannot
appropriate it to ourselves without a crime? If one action must be
performed, and another action must not, it is because there is
apparently an essential difference between these two acts. To found the
good on obligation, instead of founding obligation on the good, is,
therefore, to take the effect for the cause, is to draw the principle
from the consequence.

If I ask an honest man who, in spite of the suggestions of misery, has
respected the deposit that was intrusted to him, why he respected it, he
will answer me,--because it was my duty. If I persist, and ask why it
was his duty, he will very rightly answer,--because it was just, because
it was good. That point having been reached, all answers are stopped;
but questions also are stopped. No one allows a duty to be imposed upon
him without rendering to himself a reason for it; but as soon as it is
recognized that this duty is imposed upon us because it is just, the
mind is satisfied; for it reaches a principle beyond which it has
nothing more to seek, justice being its own principle. First truths
carry with them their reason for being. Now, justice, the essential
distinction between good and evil in the relations of men among
themselves, is the primary truth of ethics.

Justice is not a consequence, since we cannot ascend to another more
elevated principle; and duty is not, rigorously speaking, a principle,
since it supposes a principle above it, that explains and authorizes it,
to wit, justice.

Moral truth no more becomes relative and subjective, to take for a
moment the language of Kant, in appearing to us obligatory, than truth
becomes relative and subjective in appearing to us necessary; for in the
very nature of truth and the good must be sought the reason of necessity
and obligation. But if we stop at obligation and necessity, as Kant did,
in ethics as well as in metaphysics, without knowing it, and even
against our intention, we destroy, or at least weaken truth and the

Obligation has its foundation in the necessary distinction between good
and evil; and is itself the foundation of liberty. If man has duties,
he must possess the faculty of fulfilling them, of resisting desire,
passion, and interest, in order to obey law. He ought to be free,
therefore he is free, or human nature is in contradiction with itself.
The direct certainty of obligation implies the corresponding certainty
of liberty.

This proof of liberty is doubtless good; but Kant is deceived in
supposing it the only legitimate proof. It is very strange that he
should have preferred the authority of reasoning to that of
consciousness, as if the former had no need of being confirmed by the
latter; as if, after all, my liberty ought not to be a fact for me.[224]
Empiricism must be greatly feared to distrust the testimony of
consciousness; and, after such a distrust, one must be very credulous to
have a boundless faith in reasoning. We do not believe in our liberty as
we believe in the movement of the earth. The profoundest persuasion that
we have of it comes from the continual experience that we carry with

Is it true that in presence of an act to be done I am able to will or
not to will to do it? In that lies the whole question of liberty.

Let us clearly distinguish between the power of doing and the power of
willing. The will has, without doubt, in its service and under its
empire, the most of our faculties; but that empire, which is real, is
very limited. I will to move my arm, and I am often able to do it,--in
that resides, as it were, the physical power of will; but I am not
always able to move my arm, if the muscles are paralyzed, if the
obstacle to be overcome is too strong, &c.; the execution does not
always depend on me; but what always depends on me is the resolution
itself. The external effects may be hindered, my resolution itself can
never be hindered. In its own domain, will is sovereign.

And I am conscious of this sovereign power of the will. I feel in
myself, before its determination, the force that can determine itself in
such a manner or in such another. At the same time that I will this or
that, I am equally conscious of the power to will the opposite; I am
conscious of being master of my resolution, of the ability to arrest it,
continue it, repress it. When the voluntary act ceases, the
consciousness of the power does not cease,--it remains with the power
itself, which is superior to all its manifestations. Liberty is
therefore the essential and always-subsisting attribute of will.[225]

The will, we have seen,[226] is neither desire nor passion,--it is
exactly the opposite. Liberty of will is not, then, the license of
desires and passions. Man is a slave in desire and passion, he is free
only in will. That they may not elsewhere be confounded, liberty and
anarchy must not be confounded in psychology. Passions abandoning
themselves to their caprices, is anarchy. Passions concentrated upon a
dominant passion, is tyranny. Liberty consists in the struggle of will
against this tyranny and this anarchy. But this combat must have an aim,
and this aim is the duty of obeying reason, which is our true sovereign,
and justice, which reason reveals to us and prescribes for us. The duty
of obeying reason is the law of will, and will is never more itself than
when it submits to its law. We do not possess ourselves, as long as to
the domination of desire, of passion, of interest, reason does not
oppose the counterpoise of justice. Reason and justice free us from the
yoke of passions, without imposing upon us another yoke. For, once more,
to obey them, is not to abdicate liberty, but to save it, to apply it to
its legitimate use.

It is in liberty, and in the agreement of liberty with reason and
justice, that man belongs to himself, to speak properly. He is a person
only because he is a free being enlightened by reason.

What distinguishes a person from a simple thing, is especially the
difference between liberty and its opposite. A thing is that which is
not free, consequently that which does not belong to itself, that which
has no self, which has only a numerical individuality, a perfect effigy
of true individuality, which is that of person.

A thing, not belonging to itself, belongs to the first person that takes
possession of it and puts his mark on it.

A thing is not responsible for the movements which it has not willed, of
which it is even ignorant. Person alone is responsible, for it is
intelligent and free; and it is responsible for the use of its
intelligence and freedom.

A thing has no dignity; dignity is only attached to person.

A thing has no value by itself; it has only that which person confers on
it. It is purely an instrument whose whole value consists in the use
that the person using it derives from it.[227]

Obligation implies liberty; where liberty is not, duty is wanting, and
with duty right is wanting also.

It is because there is in me a being worthy of respect, that I have the
duty of respecting it, and the right to make it respected by you. My
duty is the exact measure of my right. The one is in direct ratio with
the other. If I had no sacred duty to respect what makes my person, that
is to say, my intelligence and my liberty, I should not have the right
to defend it against your injuries. But as my person is inviolable and
sacred in itself, it follows that, considered in relation to me, it
imposes on me a duty, and, considered in relation to you, it confers on
me a right.

I am not myself permitted to degrade the person that I am by abandoning
myself to passion, to vice and crime, and I am not permitted to let it
be degraded by you.

The person is inviolable; and it alone is inviolable.

It is inviolable not only in the intimate sanctuary of consciousness,
but in all its legitimate manifestations, in its acts, in the product
of its acts, even in the instruments that it makes its own by using

Therein is the foundation of the sanctity of property. The first
property is the person. All other properties are derived from that.
Think of it well. It is not property in itself that has rights, it is
the proprietor, it is the person that stamps upon it, with its own
character, its right and its title.

The person cannot cease to belong to itself, without degrading
itself,--it is to itself inalienable. The person has no right over
itself; it cannot treat itself as a thing, cannot sell itself, cannot
destroy itself, cannot in any way abolish its free will and its liberty,
which are its constituent elements.

Why has the child already some rights? Because it will be a free being.
Why have the old man, returned to infancy, and the insane man still some
rights? Because they have been free beings. We even respect liberty in
its first glimmerings or its last vestiges. Why, on the other hand, have
the insane man and the imbecile old man no longer all their rights?
Because they have lost liberty. Why do we enchain the furious madman?
Because he has lost knowledge and liberty. Why is slavery an abominable
institution? Because it is an outrage upon what constitutes humanity.
This is the reason why, in fine, certain extreme devotions are sometimes
sublime faults, and no one is permitted to offer them, much less to
demand them. There is no legitimate devotion against the very essence of
right, against liberty, against justice, against the dignity of the
human person.

We have not been able to speak of liberty, without indicating a certain
number of moral notions of the highest importance which it contains and
explains; but we could not pursue this development without encroaching
upon the domain of private and public ethics and anticipating the
following lecture.

We arrive, then, at the last element of the moral phenomenon, the
judgment of merit and demerit.

At the same time that we judge that a man has done a good or bad action,
we bear this other judgment quite as necessary as the former, to wit,
that if this man has acted well he has merited a reward, and if he has
acted ill, he has merited a punishment. It is exactly the same with this
judgment as with that of the good. It may be outwardly expressed in a
more or less lively manner, according as it is mingled with more or less
energetic feelings. Sometimes it will be only a benevolent disposition
towards the virtuous agent, and an unfavorable disposition towards the
culpable agent; sometimes it will be enthusiasm or indignation. In some
cases one will make himself the executor of the judgment that he bears,
he will crown the hero and load the criminal with chains. But when all
your feelings are calmed, when enthusiasm has cooled as well as
indignation, when time and separation have rendered an action almost
indifferent to you, you none the less persist in judging that the author
of this action merits a reward or a punishment, according to the quality
of the action. You decide that you were right in the sentiments that you
felt, and, although they are extinguished, you declare them legitimate.

The judgment of merit and demerit is essentially tied to the judgment of
good and evil. In fact, he who does an action without knowing whether it
is good or bad, has neither merit nor demerit in doing it. It is with
him the same as with those physical agents that accomplish the most
beneficent or the most destructive works, to which we never think of
attributing knowledge and will, consequently accountability. Why are
there no penalties attached to involuntary crimes? Because for that very
reason they are not regarded as crimes. Hence it comes that the question
of premeditation is so grave in all criminal processes. Why is the
child, up to a certain age, subject to none but light punishments?
Because where the idea of the good and liberty are wanting, merit and
demerit are also wanting, which alone authorize reward and punishment.
The author of an injurious but involuntary action is condemned to an
indemnity corresponding to the damage done; he is not condemned to a
punishment properly so called.

Such are the conditions of merit and demerit. When these conditions are
fulfilled, merit and demerit manifest themselves, and involve reward and

Merit is the natural right we have to be rewarded; demerit the natural
right that others have to punish us, and, if we may thus speak, the
right that we have to be punished. This expression may seem paradoxical,
nevertheless it is true. A culpable man, who, opening his eyes to the
light of the good, should comprehend the necessity of expiation, not
only by internal repentance, without which all the rest is in vain, but
also by a real and effective suffering, such a culpable man would have
the right to claim the punishment that alone can reconcile him with
order. And such reclamations are not so rare. Do we not every day see
criminals denouncing themselves and offering themselves up to avenge the
public? Others prefer to satisfy justice, and do not have recourse to
the pardon that law places in the hands of the monarch in order to
represent in the state charity and mercy, as tribunals represent in it
justice. This is a manifest proof of the natural and profound roots of
the idea of punishment and reward.

Merit and demerit imperatively claim, like a lawful debt, punishment and
reward; but reward must not be confounded with merit, nor punishment
with demerit; this would be confounding cause and effect, principle and
consequence. Even were reward and punishment not to take place, merit
and demerit would subsist. Punishment and reward satisfy merit and
demerit, but do not constitute them. Suppress all reward and all
punishment and you do not thereby suppress merit and demerit; on the
contrary, suppress merit and demerit, and there are no longer true
punishments and true rewards. Unmerited goods and honors are only
material advantages; reward is essentially moral, and its value is
independent of its form. One of those crowns of oak that the early
Romans decreed to heroism is worth more than all the riches in the
world, when it is the sign of the recognition and the admiration of a
people. To reward is to give in return. He who is rewarded must have
first given something in order to deserve to be rewarded. Reward
accorded to merit is a debt; reward without merit is a charity or a
theft. It is the same with punishment. It is the relation of pain to a
fault,--in this relation, and not in the pain alone, is the truth as
well as the shame of chastisement.

    'Tis crime and not the scaffold makes the shame.[228]

There are two things that must be unceasingly repeated, because they are
equally true,--the first is, that the good is good in itself, and ought
to be pursued whatever may be the consequences; the second is, that the
consequences of the good cannot fail to be fortunate. Happiness,
separated from the good, is only a fact to which is attached no moral
idea; but, as an effect of the good, it enters into the moral order and
completes it.

Virtue without happiness, and crime without unhappiness, are a
contradiction, a disorder. If virtue supposes sacrifice, that is to say,
suffering, it is of eternal justice that the sacrifice, generously
accepted and courageously borne, have for a reward the very happiness
that has been sacrificed. So, it is of eternal justice that crime be
punished by the unhappiness of the culpable happiness which it has tried
to obtain by stealth.

Now, when and how is the law fulfilled that attaches pleasure and pain
to good and evil? Most of the time even here below. For order rules in
this world, since the world endures. If order is sometimes disturbed,
and happiness and unhappiness are not always distributed in right
proportion to crime and virtue, still the absolute judgment of the good,
the absolute judgment of obligation, the absolute judgment of merit and
demerit, subsist inviolable and imprescriptible,--we remain convinced
that he who has put in us the sentiment and the idea of order cannot in
that fail himself, and that sooner or later he will re-establish the
sacred harmony between virtue and happiness by the means that to him
belong. But the time has not come to sound these mysterious
prospects.[229] It is sufficient for us, but it was necessary to mark
them, in order to show the nature and the end of moral truth.

We terminate this analysis of the different parts of the complex
phenomenon of morality by recalling that one which is the most apparent
of all, which, however, is only the accompaniment, and, thus to speak,
the echo of all the others--sentiment. Sentiment has for its object to
render sensible to the soul the tie between virtue and happiness. It is
the direct and vital application of the law of merit and demerit. It
precedes and authorizes the punishments and rewards that society
institutes. It is the internal model according to which the imagination,
guided by faith, represents to itself the punishments and rewards of the
divine city. The world that we place beyond this is, in great part, our
own heart transported into heaven. Since it comes thence, it is just
that it should return thither.

We will not dwell upon the different phenomena of sentiment; we have
sufficiently explained them in the last lecture. A few words will
replace them under your eyes.

We cannot witness a good action, whoever may be its author, another or
ourselves, without experiencing a particular pleasure, analogous to that
which is attached to the perception of the beautiful; and we cannot
witness a bad action without feeling a contrary sentiment, also
analogous to that which the sight of an ugly and deformed object excites
in us. This sentiment is profoundly different from agreeable or
disagreeable sensation.

Are we the authors of the good action? We feel a satisfaction that we do
not confound with any other. It is not the triumph of interest nor that
of pride,--it is the pleasure of modest honesty or dignified virtue that
renders justice to itself. Are we the authors of the bad action? We feel
offended conscience groaning within us. Sometimes it is only an
importunate reclamation, sometimes it is a bitter agony. Remorse is a
suffering the more poignant on account of our feeling that it is

The spectacle of a good action done by another also has something
delicious to the soul. Sympathy is an echo in us that responds to
whatever is noble and good in others. When interest does not lead us
astray, we naturally put ourselves in the place of him who has done
well. We feel in a certain measure the sentiments that animate him. We
elevate ourselves to the mood of his spirit. Is it not already for the
good man an exquisite reward to make the noble sentiments that animate
him thus pass into the hearts of his fellow-men? The spectacle of a bad
action, instead of sympathy, excites an involuntary antipathy, a painful
and sad sentiment. Without doubt, this sentiment is never acute like
remorse. There is in innocence something serene and placid that tempers
even the sentiment of injustice, even when this injustice falls on us.
We then experience a sort of shame for humanity, we mourn over human
weakness, and, by a melancholy return upon ourselves, we are less moved
to anger than to pity. Sometimes also pity is overcome by a generous
anger, by a disinterested indignation. If, as we have said, it is a
sweet reward to excite a noble sympathy, an enthusiasm almost always
fertile in good actions, it is a cruel punishment to stir up around us
pity, indignation, aversion, and contempt.

Sympathy for a good action is accompanied by benevolence for its author.
He inspires us with an affectionate disposition. Even without knowing
it, we would love to do good to him; we desire that he may be happy,
because we judge that he deserves to be. Antipathy also passes from the
action to the person, and engenders against him a sort of bad will, for
which we do not blame ourselves, because we feel it to be disinterested
and find it legitimate.

Moral satisfaction and remorse, sympathy, benevolence, and their
opposites are sentiments and not judgments; but they are sentiments that
accompany judgments, the judgment of the good, especially that of merit
and demerit. These sentiments have been given us by the sovereign Author
of our moral constitution to aid us in doing good. In their diversity
and mobility, they cannot be the foundations of absolute obligation
which must be equal for all, but they are to it happy auxiliaries, sure
and beneficent witnesses of the harmony between virtue and happiness.

These are the facts as presented by a faithful description, as brought
to light by a detailed analysis.

Without facts all is chimera; without a severe distinction of facts, all
is confusion; but, also, without the knowledge of their relations,
instead of a single vast doctrine, like the total phenomenon that we
have undertaken to embrace, there can be only different systems like the
different parts of this phenomenon, consequently imperfect systems,
systems always at war with each other.

We set out from common sense; for the object of true science is not to
contradict common sense, but to explain it, and for this end we must
commence by recognizing it. We have at first painted in its simplicity,
even in the gross, the phenomenon of morality. Then we have separated
its elements, and carefully marked the characteristic traits of each of
them. It only remains for us to re-collect them all, to seize their
relations, and thus to find again, but more precise and more clear, the
primitive unity that served us as a point of departure.

Beneath all facts analysis has shown us a primitive fact, which vests
only on itself,--the judgment of the good. We do not sacrifice other
facts to that, but we must establish that it is the first both in date
and in importance.

By its close resemblance to the judgment of the true and the beautiful,
the judgment of the good has shown us the affinities of ethics,
metaphysics, and æsthetics.

The good, so essentially united to the true, is distinguished from it in
that it is practical truth. The good is obligatory. These two ideas are
inseparable, but not identical. For obligation rests on the good,--in
this intimate alliance, from the good obligation borrows its universal
and absolute character.

The obligatory good is the moral law. Therein is for us the foundation
of all ethics. Thereby it is that we separate ourselves from the ethics
of interest and the ethics of sentiment. We admit all the facts, but we
do not admit them in the same rank.

To the moral law in the reason of man corresponds liberty in action.
Liberty is deduced from obligation, and moreover it is a fact of an
irresistible evidence.

Man as a being free and subject to obligation, is a moral person. The
idea of person contains several moral notions, among others that of
right. Person alone can have rights.

To all these ideas is added that of merit and demerit, which serves as
their sanction.

Merit and demerit suppose the distinction between good and evil,
obligation and liberty, and give birth to the idea of reward and

It is on the condition that the good may be an object of reason, that
ethics can have an immovable basis. We have therefore insisted on the
rational character of the idea of the good, but without misconceiving
the part of sentiment.

We have distinguished that particular sensibility, which is stirred in
us in the train of reason itself, from physical sensibility, which needs
an impression made upon the organs in order to enter into exercise.

All our moral judgments are accompanied by sentiments that respond to
them. The sight of an action which we judge to be good gives us
pleasure,--the consciousness of having performed an obligatory act, and
of having performed it freely, is also a pleasure; the judgment of merit
and demerit makes our hearts beat by taking the form of sympathy and

It must be avowed that the law of duty, although it ought to be
fulfilled for its own sake, would be an ideal almost inaccessible to
human weakness, if to its austere prescriptions were not added some
inspiration of the heart. Sentiment is in some sort a natural grace that
has been given us, either to supply the light of reason that is
sometimes uncertain, or to succor the will wavering in the presence of
an obscure or painful duty. In order to resist the violence of culpable
passions, the aid of generous passions is needed; and when the moral
law exacts the sacrifice of natural sentiments, of the sweetest and most
lively instincts, it is fortunate that it can support itself on other
sentiments, or other instincts which also have their charm and their
force. Truth enlightens the mind; sentiment warms the soul and leads to
action. It is not cold reason that determines a Codrus to devote himself
for his countrymen, a d'Assas to utter, beneath the steel of the enemy,
the generous cry that brings him death and saves the army. Let us guard
ourselves, then, from weakening the authority of sentiment; let us honor
and sustain enthusiasm; it is the source whence spring great and heroic

And shall interest be entirely banished from our system? No; we
recognize in the human soul a desire for happiness which is the work of
God himself. This desire is a fact,--it must then have its place in a
system founded upon experience. Happiness is one of the ends of human
nature; only it is neither its sole end nor its principal end.

Admirable economy of the moral constitution of man! Its supreme end is
the good, its law is virtue, which often imposes on it suffering, and
thereby it is the most excellent of all things that we know. But this
law is very hard and in contradiction with the instinct of happiness.
Fear nothing,--the beneficent author of our being has placed in our
souls, by the side of the severe law of duty, the sweet and amiable
force of sentiment,--he has, in general, attached happiness to virtue;
and, for the exceptions, for there are exceptions, at the end of the
course he has placed hope.[230]

Our doctrine is now known. Its only pretension is to express faithfully
each fact, to express them all, and to make appear at once their
differences and their harmony.

Beyond that there is nothing new to attempt in ethics. To admit only a
single fact and to sacrifice to that all the rest,--such is the beaten
way. Of all the facts that we have just analyzed, there is not one that
has not in its turn played the part of sole principle. All the great
schools of moral philosophy have each seen only one side of
truth,--fortunate when they have not chosen among the different phases
of the moral phenomenon, in order to found upon them their entire
system, precisely those that are least adapted to that end!

Who could now return to Epicurus, and, against the most manifest facts,
against common sense, against the very idea of all ethics, found duty,
virtue, the good, on the desire of happiness alone? It would be proof of
great blindness and great barrenness. On the other hand, shall we
immolate the need of happiness, the hope of all reward, human or divine,
to the abstract idea of the good? The Stoics have done it,--we know with
what apparent grandeur, with what real impotence. Shall we confine with
Kant the whole of ethics to obligation? That is straitening still more a
system that is already very narrow. Moreover, one may hope to surpass
Kant in extent of views, by a completer knowledge and more faithful
representation of facts; one cannot hope to be more profound in the
point of view that he has chosen. Or, in another order of ideas, shall
we refer to the will of God alone the obligation of virtue, and found
ethics on religion, instead of giving religion to ethics as their
necessary perfection? We still invent nothing new, we only renew the
ethics of the theologians of the Middle Age, or rather of a particular
school which has had for its adversaries the most illustrious doctors.
Finally, shall we reduce all morality to sentiment, to sympathy, to
benevolence? It only remains to follow the footsteps of Hutcheson and
Smith, abandoned by Reid himself, or the footsteps of a celebrated
adversary of Kant, Jacobi.[231]

The time of exclusive theories has gone by; to renew them is to
perpetuate war in philosophy. Each of them, being founded upon a real
fact, rightly refuses the sacrifice of this fact; and it meets in
hostile theories an equal right and an equal resistance. Hence the
perpetual return of the same systems, always at war with each other, and
by turns vanquished and victorious. This strife can cease only by means
of a doctrine that conciliates all systems by comprising all the facts
that give them authority.

It is not the preconceived design of conciliating systems in history
that suggests to us the idea of conciliating facts in reality. It is, on
the contrary, the full possession of all the facts, analogous and
different, that forces us to absolve and condemn all systems on account
of the truth that is in each of them, and on account of the errors that
are mixed with the truth.

It is important to repeat continually, that nothing is so easy as to
arrange a system, by suppressing or altering the facts that embarrass
it. But is it, then, the object of philosophy to produce at any cost a
system, instead of seeking to understand the truth and express it as it

It is objected that such a doctrine has not sufficient character. But is
it not sporting with philosophy to demand of it any other character than
that of truth? Do men complain that modern chemistry has not sufficient
character, because it limits itself to studying facts in their
relations, and also in their differences, and because it does not end at
a single substance? The only true philosophy that is proper for a
century returned from all exaggerations, is a picture of human nature
whose first merit is fidelity, which must offer all the traits of the
original in their right proportion and real harmony. The unity of the
doctrine that we profess is in that of the human soul, whence we have
drawn it. Is it not one and the same being that perceives the good, that
knows that he is obligated to fulfil it, that knows that he is free in
fulfilling it, that loves the good, and judges that the fulfilment or
violation of the good justly brings after it reward or punishment,
happiness or misery? We draw, then, a true unity from the intimate
relation between all the facts that, as we have seen, imply and sustain
each other. But by what right is the unity of a doctrine placed in
allowing in it only a single principle? Such a unity is possible only
in those regions of mathematical abstraction, where one is not disturbed
by what is, where one retrenches at will from the object that he is
studying, in order to simplify it continually, where every thing is
reduced to pure notions. In the reality all is determined, and
consequently, all is complex. A science of facts is not a series of
equations. In it must be found again the life that is in things, life
with its harmony doubtless, but also with its richness and


[216] On indignation, see lecture 11.

[217] On remorse, see lecture 11.

[218] See the _Gorgias_, with the _Argument_, vol. iii. of our

[219] Lectures 1 and 6.

[220] Lectures 2, 3, and 6.

[221] 1st part, lecture 2.

[222] Lecture 2.

[223] 1st part, lecture 3. See also vol. v. of the 1st Series, lecture

[224] 1st Series, vol. v., lecture 7.

[225] See, for the entire development of the theory of liberty, 1st
Series, vol. iii., lecture 1, _Locke_, p. 71; lecture 3, _Condillac_, p.
116, 149, etc.; vol. iv., lecture 23, _Reid_, p. 541-574; 2d Series,
vol. iii., _Examination of the System of Locke_, lecture 25.

[226] Lecture 12.

[227] See 1st Series, vol. iv., Lecture on Smith and on the true
principle of political economy, p. 278-302.

[228] Le crime fait la honte et non pas l'échafaud.

[229] See lecture 16, _God, the Principle of the Idea of the Good_.

[230] See lecture 16.

[231] On Jacobi, see Tennemann's _Manual of the History of Philosophy_,
vol. iii., p. 318, etc.

[232] On this important question of method, see lecture 12.



    Application of the preceding principles.--General formula of
    interest,--to obey reason.--Rule for judging whether an action
    is or is not conformed to reason,--to elevate the motive of this
    action into a maxim of universal legislation.--Individual
    ethics. It is not towards the individual, but towards the moral
    person that one is obligated. Principle of all individual
    duties,--to respect and develop the moral person.--Social
    ethics,--duties of justice and duties of charity.--Civil
    society. Government. Law. The right to punish.

We know that there is moral good and that there is moral evil: we know
that this distinction between good and evil engenders an obligation, a
law, duty; but we do not yet know what our duties are. The general
principle of ethics is laid down; it must be followed at least into its
most important applications.

If duty is only truth become obligatory, and if truth is known only by
reason, to obey the law of duty, is to obey reason.

But to obey reason is a precept very vague and very abstract:--how can
we be sure that our action is conformed or is not conformed to reason?

The character of reason being, as we have said, its universality,
action, in order to be conformed to reason, must possess something
universal; and as it is the motive itself of the action that gives it
its morality, it is also the motive that must, if the action is good,
reflect the character of reason. By what sign, then, do you recognize
that an action is conformed to reason, that it is good? By the sign that
the motive of this action being generalized, appears to you a maxim of
universal legislation, which reason imposes upon all intelligent and
free beings. If you are not able thus to generalize the motive of an
action, and if it is the opposite motive that appears to you a universal
maxim, your action, being opposed to this maxim, is thereby proved to be
contrary to reason and duty,--it is bad. If neither the motive of your
action nor the motive of the opposite action can be erected into a
universal law, the action is neither good nor bad, it is indifferent.
Such is the ingenious measure that Kant has applied to the morality of
actions. It makes known with the last degree of clearness where duty is
and where it is not, as the severe and naked form of syllogism, being
applied to reasoning, brings out in the precisest manner its error or
its truth.

To obey reason,--such is duty in itself, the duty superior to all other
duties, giving to all others their foundation, and being itself founded
only on the essential relation between liberty and reason.

It may be said that there is only a single duty, that of obeying reason.
But man having different relations, this single and general duty is
determined by these different relations, and divided into a
corresponding number of particular duties.

Of all the beings that we know, there is not one with whom we are more
constantly in relation than with ourselves. The actions of which man is
at once the author and the object, have rules as well as other actions.
Hence that first class of duties which are called the duties of man
towards himself.

At first sight, it is strange that man should have duties towards
himself. Man, being free, belongs to himself. What is most to me is
myself:--this is the first property and the foundation of all other
properties. Now, is it not the essence of property to be at the free
disposition of the proprietor, and consequently, am I not able to do
with myself what I please?

No; from the fact that man is free, from the fact that he belongs only
to himself, it must not be concluded that he has over himself all power.
On the contrary, indeed, from the fact alone that he is endowed with
liberty, as well as intelligence, I conclude that he can no more
degrade his liberty than his intelligence, without transgressing. It is
a culpable use of liberty to abdicate it. We have said that liberty is
not only sacred to others, but is so to itself. To subject it to the
yoke of passion, instead of increasing it under the liberal discipline
of duty, is to abase in us what deserves our respect as much as the
respect of others. Man is not a thing; it has not, then, been permitted
him to treat himself as a thing.

If I have duties towards myself, it is not towards myself as an
individual, it is towards the liberty and intelligence that make me a
free moral person. It is necessary to distinguish closely in us what is
peculiar to us from what pertains to humanity. Each one of us contains
in himself human nature with all its essential elements; and, in
addition, all these elements are in him in a certain manner that is not
the same in two different men. These particularities make the
individual, but not the person; and the person alone in us is to be
respected and held as sacred, because it alone represents humanity.
Every thing that does not concern the moral person is indifferent. In
these limits I may consult my tastes, even my fancies to a certain
extent, because in them there is nothing absolute, because in them good
and evil are in no way involved. But as soon as an act touches the moral
person, my liberty is subjected to its law, to reason, which does not
allow liberty to be turned against itself. For example, if through
caprice, or melancholy, or any other motive, I condemn myself to an
abstinence too prolonged, if I impose on myself vigils protracted and
beyond my strength; if I absolutely renounce all pleasure, and, by these
excessive privations, endanger my health, my life, my reason, these are
no longer indifferent actions. Sickness, death, madness, may become
crimes, if we voluntarily bring them upon ourselves.

I have not established this obligation of self-respect imposed on the
moral person, therefore I cannot destroy it. Is self-respect founded on
one of those arbitrary conventions that cease to exist when the two
contracting parties freely renounce them? Are the two contracting
parties here _me_ and myself? By no means; one of the contracting
parties is not _me_, to wit, humanity, the moral person. And there is
here neither convention nor contract. By the fact alone that the moral
person is in us, we are obligated towards it, without convention of any
sort, without contract that can be cancelled, and by the very nature of
things. Hence it comes that obligation is absolute.

Respect of the moral person in us is the general principle whence are
derived all individual duties. We will cite some of them.

The most important, that which governs all others, is the duty of
remaining master of one's self. One may lose possession of himself in
two ways, either by allowing himself to be carried away, or by allowing
himself to be overcome, by yielding to enervating passions or to
overwhelming passions, to anger or to melancholy. On either hand there
is equal weakness. And I do not speak of the consequences of those vices
for society and ourselves,--certainly they are very injurious; but they
are much worse than that, they are already bad in themselves, because in
themselves they give a blow to moral dignity, because they diminish
liberty and disturb intelligence.

Prudence is an eminent virtue. I speak of that noble prudence that is
the moderation in all things, the foresight, the fitness, that preserve
at once from negligence and that rashness which adorns itself with the
name of heroism, as cowardice and selfishness sometimes usurp the name
of prudence. Heroism, without being premeditated, ought always to be
rational. One may be a hero at intervals; but, in every-day life, it is
sufficient to be a wise man. We must ourselves hold the reins of our
life, and not prepare difficulties for ourselves by carelessness or
bravado, nor create for ourselves useless perils. Doubtless we must know
how to dare, but still prudence is, if not the principle, at least the
rule of courage; for true courage is not a blind transport, it is before
all coolness and self possession in danger. Prudence also teaches
temperance; it keeps the soul in that state of moderation without which
man is incapable of recognizing and practising justice. This is the
reason why the ancients said that prudence is the mother and guardian of
all the virtues. Prudence is the government of liberty by reason, as
imprudence is liberty escaped from reason:--on the one side, order, the
legitimate subordination of our faculties to each other; on the other,
anarchy and revolt.[233]

Veracity is also a great virtue. Falsehood, by breaking the natural
alliance between man and truth, deprives him of that which makes his
dignity. This is the reason why there is no graver insult than giving
the lie, and why the most honored virtues are sincerity and frankness.

One may degrade the moral person by wounding it in its instruments. For
this reason the body is to man the object of imperative duties. The body
may become an obstacle or a means. If you refuse it what sustains and
strengthens it, or if you demand too much from it by exciting it beyond
measure, you exhaust it, and by abusing it, deprive yourself of it. It
is worse still if you pamper it, if you grant every thing to its
unbridled desires, if you make yourself its slave. It is being
unfaithful to the soul to enfeeble its servant; it is being much more
unfaithful to it still, to enslave it to its servant.

But it is not enough to respect the moral person, it is necessary to
perfect it; it is necessary to labor to return the soul to God better
than we received it; and it can become so only by a constant and
courageous exercise. Everywhere in nature, all things are spontaneously
developed, without willing it, and without knowing it. With man, if the
will slumbers, the other faculties degenerate into languor and inertion;
or, carried away by the blind impulse of passion, they are precipitated
and go astray. It is by the government and education of himself that man
is great.

Man must, before every thing else, occupy himself with his
intelligence. It is in fact our intelligence that alone can give us a
clear sight of the true and the good, that guides liberty by showing it
the legitimate object of its efforts. No one can give himself another
mind than the one that he has received, but he may train and strengthen
it as well as the body, by putting it to a task of some kind, by rousing
it when it is drowsy, by restraining it when it is carried away, by
continually proposing to it new objects,--for it is only by continually
enriching it that it does not grow poor. Sloth benumbs and enervates the
mind; regular work excites and strengthens it, and work is always in our

There is an education of liberty as well as our other faculties. It is
sometimes in subduing the body, sometimes in governing our intelligence,
especially in resisting our passions, that we learn to be free. We
encounter opposition at each step,--the only question is not to shun it.
In this constant struggle liberty is formed and augmented, until it
becomes a habit.

Finally, there is a culture of sensibility itself. Fortunate are those
who have received from nature the sacred fire of enthusiasm! They ought
religiously to preserve it. But there is no soul that does not conceal
some fortunate vein of it. It is necessary to watch it and pursue, to
avoid what restrains it, to seek what favors it, and, by an assiduous
culture, draw from it, little by little, some treasures. If we cannot
give ourselves sensibility, we can at least develop what we have. We can
do this by giving ourselves up to it, by seizing all the occasions of
giving ourselves up to it, by calling to its aid intelligence itself;
for, the more we know of the beautiful and the good, the more we love
it. Sentiment thereby only borrows from intelligence what it returns
with usury. Intelligence in its turn finds, in the heart, a rampart
against sophism. Noble, sentiments, nourished and developed, preserve
from those sad systems that please certain spirits so much only because
their hearts are so small.

Man would still have duties, should he cease to be in relation with
other men.[234] As long as he preserves any intelligence and any
liberty, the idea of the good dwells in him, and with it duty. Were we
cast upon a desert island, duty would follow us thither. It would be
beyond belief strange that it should be in the power of certain
external circumstances to affranchise an intelligent and free being from
all obligation towards his liberty and his intelligence. In the deepest
solitude he is always and consciously under the empire of a law attached
to the person itself, which, by obligating him to keep continual watch
over himself, makes at once his torment and his grandeur.

If the moral person is sacred to me, it is not because it is in me, it
is because it is the moral person; it is in itself respectable; it will
be so, then, wherever we meet it.

It is in you as in me, and for the same reason. In relation to me it
imposes on me a duty; in you it becomes the foundation of a right, and
thereby imposes on me a new duty in relation to you.

I owe to you truth as I owe it to myself; for truth is the law of your
reason as of mine. Without doubt there ought to be measure in the
communication of truth,--all are not capable of it at the same moment
and in the same degree; it is necessary to portion it out to them in
order that they may be able to receive it; but, in fine, the truth is
the proper good of the intelligence; and it is for me a strict duty to
respect the development of your mind, not to arrest, and even to favor
its progress towards truth.

I ought also to respect your liberty. I have not even always the right
to hinder you from committing a fault. Liberty is so sacred that, even
when it goes astray, it still deserves, up to a certain point, to be
managed. We are often wrong in wishing to prevent too much the evil that
God himself permits. Souls may be corrupted by an attempt to purify

I ought to respect you in your affections, which make part of yourself;
and of all the affections there are none more holy than those of the
family. There is in us a need of expanding ourselves beyond ourselves,
yet without dispelling ourselves, of establishing ourselves in some
souls by a regular and consecrated affection,--to this need the family
responds. The love of men is something of the general good. The family
is still almost the individual, and not merely the individual,--it only
requires us to love as much as ourselves what is almost ourselves. It
attaches one to the other, by the sweetest and strongest of all
ties--father, mother, child; it gives to this sure succor in the love of
its parents--to these hope, joy, new life, in their child. To violate
the conjugal or paternal right, is to violate the person in what is
perhaps its most sacred possession.

I ought to respect your body, inasmuch as it belongs to you, inasmuch as
it is the necessary instrument of your person. I have neither the right
to kill you, nor to wound you, unless I am attacked and threatened; then
my violated liberty is armed with a new right, the right of defence and
even constraint.

I owe respect to your goods, for they are the product of your labor; I
owe respect to your labor, which is your liberty itself in exercise;
and, if your goods come from an inheritance, I still owe respect to the
free will that has transmitted them to you.[235]

Respect for the rights of others is called justice; every violation of a
right is an injustice.

Every injustice is an encroachment upon our person,--to retrench the
least of our rights, is to diminish our moral person, is, at least, so
far as that retrenchment goes, to abase us to the condition of a thing.

The greatest of all injustices, because it comprises all others, is
slavery. Slavery is the subjecting of all the faculties of one man to
the profit of another man. The slave develops his intelligence a little
only in the interest of another,--it is not for the purpose of
enlightening him, but to render him more useful, that some exercise of
mind is allowed him. The slave has not the liberty of his movements; he
is attached to the soil, is sold with it, or he is chained to the person
of a master. The slave should have no affection, he has no family, no
wife, no children,--he has a female and little ones. His activity does
not belong to him, for the product of his labor is another's. But, that
nothing may be wanting to slavery, it is necessary to go farther,--in
the slave must be destroyed the inborn sentiment of liberty, in him must
be extinguished all idea of right; for, as long as this idea subsists,
slavery is uncertain, and to an odious power may respond the terrible
right of insurrection, that last resort of the oppressed against the
abuse of force.[236]

Justice, respect for the person in every thing that constitutes the
person, is the first duty of man towards his fellow-man. Is this duty
the only one?

When we have respected the person of others, when we have neither
restrained their liberty, nor smothered their intelligence, nor
maltreated their body, nor outraged their family, nor injured their
goods, are we able to say that we have fulfilled the whole law in regard
to them? One who is unfortunate is suffering before us. Is our
conscience satisfied, if we are able to bear witness to ourselves that
we have not contributed to his sufferings? No; something tells that it
is still good to give him bread, succor, consolation.

There is here an important distinction to be made. If you have remained
hard and insensible at the sight of another's misery, conscience cries
out against you; and yet this man who is suffering, who, perhaps, is
ready to die, has not the least right over the least part of your
fortune, were it immense; and, if he used violence for the purpose of
wresting from you a single penny, he would commit a crime. We here meet
a new order of duties that do not correspond to rights. Man may resort
to force in order to make his rights respected; he cannot impose on
another any sacrifice whatever. Justice respects or restores; charity
gives, and gives freely.

Charity takes from us something in order to give it to our fellow-men.
If it goes so far as to inspire us to renounce our dearest interests, it
is called devotedness.

It certainly cannot be said that to be charitable is not obligatory. But
this obligation must not be regarded as precise, as inflexible as the
obligation to be just. Charity is a sacrifice; and who can find the rule
of sacrifice, the formula of self-renunciation? For justice, the formula
is clear,--to respect the rights of another. But charity knows neither
rule nor limit. It transcends all obligation. Its beauty is precisely in
its liberty.

But it must be acknowledged that charity also has its dangers. It tends
to substitute its own action for the action of him whom it wishes to
help; it somewhat effaces his personality, and makes itself in some sort
his providence,--a formidable part for a mortal! In order to be useful
to others, one imposes himself on them, and runs the risk of violating
their natural rights. Love, in giving itself, enslaves. Doubtless it is
not interdicted us to act upon another. We can always do it through
petition and exhortation. We can also do it by threatening, when we see
one of our fellows engaged in a criminal or senseless action. We have
even the right to employ force when passion carries away liberty and
makes the person disappear. So we may, we even ought to prevent by force
the suicide of one of our fellow-men. The legitimate power of charity is
measured by the more or less liberty and reason possessed by him to whom
it is applied. What delicacy, then, is necessary in the exercise of this
perilous virtue! How can we estimate with sufficient certainty the
degree of liberty still possessed by one of our fellow-men to know how
far we may substitute ourselves for him in the guiding of his destiny?
And when, in order to assist a feeble soul, we take possession of it,
who is sufficiently sure of himself not to go farther, not to pass from
the person governed to the love of domination itself? Charity is often
the commencement and the excuse, and always the pretext of usurpation.
In order to have the right of abandoning one's self to the emotions of
charity, it is necessary to be fortified against one's self by a long
exercise of justice.

To respect the rights of others and do good to men, to be at once just
and charitable,--such are social ethics in the two elements that
constitute them.

We speak of social ethics, and we do not yet know what society is. Let
us look around us:--everywhere society exists, and where it is not, man
is not man. Society is a universal fact which must have universal

Let us avoid at first the question of the origin of society.[237] The
philosophy of the last century delighted in such questions too much. How
can we demand light from the regions of darkness, and the explanation of
reality from an hypothesis? Why go back to a pretended primitive state
in order to account for a present state which may be studied in itself
in its unquestionable characters? Why seek what may have been in the
germ that which may be perceived, that which it is the question to
understand, completed and perfect? Moreover, there is great peril in
starting with the question of the origin of society. Has such or such an
origin been found? Actual society is arranged according to the type of
the primitive society that has been dreamed of, and political society is
delivered up to the mercy of historical romances. This one imagines that
the primitive state is violence, and he sets out from that in order to
authorize the right of the strongest, and to consecrate despotism. That
one thinks that he has found in the family the first form of society,
and he compares government to the father of a family, and subjects to
children; society in his eyes is a minor that must be held in tutelage
in the hands of the paternal power, which in the origin is absolute, and
consequently, must remain so. Or has one thrown himself to the extreme
of the opposite opinion, and into the hypothesis of an agreement, of a
contract that expresses the will of all or of the greatest number? He
delivers up to the mobile will of the crowd the eternal laws of justice
and the inalienable rights of the person. Finally, are powerful
religious institutions found in the cradle of society? It is hence
concluded, that power belongs of right to priesthoods, which have the
secret of the designs of God, and represent his sovereign authority.
Thus a vicious method in philosophy leads to a deplorable political
system,--the commencement is made in hypothesis, and the termination is
in anarchy or tyranny.

True politics do not depend on more or less well directed historical
researches into the profound night of a past forever vanished, and of
which no vestige subsists: they rest on the knowledge of human nature.

Wherever society is, wherever it was, it has for its foundations:--1st,
The need that we have of our fellow-creatures, and the social instincts
that man bears in himself; 2d, The permanent and indestructible idea and
sentiment of justice and right.

Man, feeble and powerless when he is alone, profoundly feels the need
that he has of the succor of his fellow-creatures in order to develop
his faculties, to embellish his life, and even to preserve it.[238]
Without reflection, without convention, he claims the hand, the
experience, the love of those whom he sees made like himself. The
instinct of society is in the first cry of the child that calls for the
mother's help without knowing that it has a mother, and in the eagerness
of the mother to respond to the cries of the child. It is in the
feelings for others that nature has put in us--pity, sympathy,
benevolence. It is in the attraction of the sexes, in their union, in
the love of parents for their children, and in the ties of every kind
that these first ties engender. If Providence has attached so much
sadness to solitude, so much charm to society, it is because society is
indispensable for the preservation of man and for his happiness, for his
intellect and moral development.

But if need and instinct begin society, it is justice that completes it.

In the presence of another man, without any external law, without any
compact,[239] it is sufficient that I know that he is a man, that is to
say, that he is intelligent and free, in order to know that he has
rights, and to know that I ought to respect his rights as he ought to
respect mine. As he is no freer than I am, nor I than he, we recognize
towards each other equal rights and equal duties. If he abuses his force
to violate the equality of our rights, I know that I have the right to
defend myself and make myself respected; and if a third party is found
between us, without any personal interest in the quarrel, he knows that
it is his right and his duty to use force in order to protect the
feeble, and even to make the oppressor expiate his injustice by a
chastisement. Therein is already seen entire society with its essential
principles,--justice, liberty, equality, government, and punishment.

Justice is the guaranty of liberty. True liberty does not consist in
doing what we will, but in doing what we have a right to do. Liberty of
passion and caprice would have for its consequence the enslavement of
the weakest to the strongest, and the enslavement of the strongest
themselves to their unbridled desires. Man is truly free in the interior
of his consciousness only in resisting passion and obeying justice;
therein also is the type of true social liberty. Nothing is falser than
the opinion that society diminishes our mutual liberty; far from that,
it secures it, develops it: what it suppresses is not liberty; it is its
opposite, passion. Society no more injures liberty than justice, for
society is nothing else than the very idea of justice realized.

In securing liberty, justice secures equality also. If men are unequal
in physical force and intelligence, they are equal in so far as they are
free beings, and consequently equally worthy of respect. All men, when
they bear the sacred character of the moral person, are to be respected,
by the same title, and in the same degree.[240]

The limit of liberty is in liberty itself; the limit of right is in
duty. Liberty is to be respected, but provided it injure not the liberty
of an other. I ought to let you do what you please, but on the condition
that nothing which you do will injure my liberty. For then, in virtue of
my right of liberty, I should regard myself as obligated to repress the
aberrations of your will, in order to protect my own and that of others.
Society guaranties the liberty of each one, and if one citizen attacks
that of another, he is arrested in the name of liberty. For example,
religious liberty is sacred; you may, in the secret of consciousness,
invent for yourself the most extravagant superstition; but if you wish
publicly to inculcate an immoral worship, you threaten the liberty and
reason of your citizens: such preaching is interdicted.

From the necessity of repressing springs the necessity of a constituted
repressive force.

Rigorously, this force is in us; for if I am unjustly attacked, I have
the right to defend myself. But, in the first place, I may not be the
strongest; in the second place, no one is an impartial judge in his own
cause, and what I regard or give out as an act of legitimate defence may
be an act of violence and oppression.

So the protection of the rights of each one demands an impartial and
disinterested force, that may be superior to all particular forces.

This disinterested party, armed with the power necessary to secure and
defend the liberty of all, is called government.

The right of government expresses the rights of all and each. It is the
right of personal defence transferred to a public force, to the profit
of common liberty.

Government is not, then, a power distinct from and independent of
society; it draws from society its whole force. It is not what it has
seemed to two opposite schools of publicists,--to those who sacrifice
society to government,--to those who consider government as the enemy of
society. If government did not represent society, it would be only a
material, illegitimate, and soon powerless force; and without
government, society would be a war of all against all. Society makes
the moral power of government, as government makes the security of
society. Pascal is wrong[241] when he says, that not being able to make
what is just powerful, men have made what is powerful just. Government,
in principle at least, is precisely what Pascal desired,--justice armed
with force.

It is a sad and false political system that places society and
government, authority and liberty, in opposition to each other, by
making them come from two different sources, by presenting them as two
contrary principles. I often hear the principle of authority spoken of
as a principle apart, independent, deriving from itself its force and
legitimacy, and consequently made to rule. No error is deeper and more
dangerous. Thereby it is thought to confirm the principle of authority;
far from that, from it is taken away its solidest foundation.
Authority--that is to say, legitimate and moral authority--is nothing
else than justice, and justice is nothing else than the respect of
liberty; so that there is not therein two different and contrary
opinions, but one and the same principle, of equal certainty and equal
grandeur, under all its forms and in all its applications.

Authority, it is said, comes from God: doubtless; but whence comes
liberty, whence comes humanity? To God must be referred every thing that
is excellent on the earth; and nothing is more excellent than liberty.
Reason, which in man commands liberty, commands it according to its
nature; and the first law that reason imposes on liberty is that of

Authority is so much the stronger as its true title is better
understood; and obedience is the easiest when, instead of degrading, it
honors; when, instead of resembling servitude, it is at once the
condition and guaranty of liberty.

The mission, the end of government, is to make justice, the protector of
the common liberty, reign. Whence it follows, that as long as the
liberty of one citizen does not injure the liberty of another, it
escapes all repression. So government cannot be severe against
falsehood, intemperance, imprudence, levity, avarice, egoism, except
when these vices become prejudicial to others. Moreover, it is not
necessary to confine government within too narrow limits. Government,
which represents society, is also a moral person; it has a heart like
the individual; it has generosity, goodness, charity. There are
legitimate, and even universally admired facts, that are not explained,
if the function of government is reduced to the protection of rights
alone.[242] Government owes to the citizens, in a certain measure, to
guard their well-being, to develop their intelligence, to fortify their
morality, for the interest of society, and even for the interest of
humanity. Hence sometimes for government the formidable right of using
force in order to do good to men. But we are here touching upon that
delicate point where charity inclines to despotism. Too much
intelligence and wisdom, therefore, cannot be demanded in the employment
of a power perhaps necessary, but dangerous.

Now, on what condition is government exercised? Is an act of its own
will sufficient for it in order to employ to its own liking under all
circumstances, as it shall understand them, the power that has been
confided to it? Government must have been thus exercised in early
society, and in the infancy of the art of governing. But the power,
exercised by men, may go astray in different ways, either through
weakness or through excess of force. It must, then, have a rule superior
to itself, a public and known rule, that may be a lesson for the
citizens, and for the government a rein and support: that rule is called

Universal and absolute law is natural justice, which cannot be written,
but speaks to the reason and heart of all. Written laws are the formulas
wherein it is sought to express, with the least possible imperfection,
what natural justice requires in such or such determined circumstances.

If laws propose to express in each thing natural justice, which is
universal and absolute justice, one of the necessary conditions of a
good law is the universality of its character. It is necessary to
examine in an abstract and general manner what is required by justice in
such or such a case, to the end that this case being presented may be
judged according to the rule laid down, without regard to circumstances,
place, time, or person.

The collection of those rules or laws that govern the social relations
of individuals is called positive right. Positive right rests wholly on
natural right, which at once serves as its foundation, measure, and
limit. The supreme law of every positive law is that it be not opposed
to natural law: no law can impose on us a false duty, nor deprive us of
a true right.

The sanction of law is punishment. We have already seen that the right
to punish springs from the idea of demerit.[243] In the universal
order, to God alone it belongs to apply a punishment to all faults,
whatever they may be. In the social order, government is invested with
the right to punish only for the purpose of protecting liberty by
imposing a just reparation on those who violate it. Every fault that is
not contrary to justice, and does not strike at liberty, escapes, then,
social retribution. Neither is the right to punish the right of avenging
one's self. To render evil for evil, to demand an eye for an eye, a
tooth for a tooth, is the barbarous form of a justice without light; for
the evil that I do you will not take away the evil that you have done
me. It is not the pain felt by the victim that demands a corresponding
pain; it is violated justice that imposes on the culpable man the
expiation of suffering. Such is the morality of penalty. The principle
of penalty is not the reparation of damage caused. If I have caused you
damage without intending it, I pay you an indemnity; that is not a
penalty, for I am not culpable; whilst if I have committed a crime, in
spite of the material indemnity for the evil that I have done, I owe a
reparation to justice by a proper suffering, and in that truly consists
the penalty.

What is the exact proportion of chastisements and crimes? This question
cannot receive an absolute solution. What is here immutable, is that the
act opposed to justice merits a punishment, and that the more unjust the
act is, the severer ought to be the punishment. But by the side of the
right to punish is the duty of correcting. To the culprit must be left
the possibility of repairing his crime. The culpable man is still a
man; he is not a thing of which we ought to rid ourselves as soon as it
becomes injurious, a stone that falls on our heads, that we throw into a
gulf that it may wound no more. Man is a rational being, capable of
comprehending good and evil, of repenting, and of being one day
reconciled with order. These truths have given birth to works that honor
the close of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth.
The conception of houses of correction reminds one of those early times
of Christianity when punishment consisted in an expiation that permitted
the culprit to return through repentance to the ranks of the just. Here
intervenes, as we have just indicated, the principle of charity, which
is very different from the principle of justice. To punish is just, to
ameliorate is charitable. In what measure ought those two principles to
be united? Nothing is more delicate, more difficult to determine. It is
certain that justice ought to govern. In undertaking the amendment of
the culprit, government usurps, with a very generous usurpation, the
rights of religion; but it ought not to go so far as to forget its
proper function and its rigorous duty.

Let us pause on the threshold of politics, properly so called. Nothing
in them but these principles is fixed and invariable; all else is
relative. The constitutions of states have something absolute by their
relation to the inviolable rights which they ought to guarantee; but
they also have a relative side by the variable forms with which they are
clothed, according to times, places, manners, history. The supreme rule
of which philosophy reminds politics, is that politics ought, in
consulting all circumstances, to seek always those social forms and
institutions that best realize those eternal principles. Yes, they are
eternal; because they are drawn from no arbitrary hypothesis, because
they rest on the immutable nature of man, on the all-powerful instincts
of the heart, on the indestructible notion of justice, and the sublime
idea of charity, on the consciousness of person, liberty, and equality,
on duty and right, on merit and demerit. Such are the foundations of
all true society, worthy of the beautiful name of human society, that is
to say, formed of free and rational beings; and such are the maxims that
ought to direct every government worthy of its mission, which knows that
it is not dealing with beasts but with men, which respects them and
loves them.

Thank God, French society has always marched by the light of this
immortal idea, and the dynasty that has been at its head for some
centuries has always guided it in these generous ways. It was Louis le
Gros, who, in the Middle Age, emancipated the communes; it was Philippe
le Bel who instituted parliaments--an independent and gratuitous
justice; it was Henri IV. who began religious liberty; it was Louis
XIII. and Louis XIV. who, while they undertook to give to France her
natural frontiers, and almost succeeded in it, labored to unite more and
more all parts of the nation, to put a regular administration in the
place of feudal anarchy, and to reduce the great vassals to a simple
aristocracy, from day to day deprived of every privilege but that of
serving the common country in the first rank. It was a king of France
who, comprehending the new wants, and associating himself with the
progress of the times, attempted to substitute for that very real, but
confused and formless representative government, that was called the
assemblies of the nobility, the clergy, and the _tiers état_, the true
representative government that is proper for great civilized nations,--a
glorious and unfortunate attempt that, if royalty had then been served
by a Richelieu, a Mazarin, or a Colbert, might have terminated in a
necessary reform, that, through the fault of every one, ended in a
revolution full of excess, violence, and crime, redeemed and covered by
an incomparable courage, a sincere patriotism, and the most brilliant
triumphs. Finally, it was the brother of Louis XVI. who, enlightened and
not discouraged by the misfortunes of his family, spontaneously gave to
France that liberal and wise constitution of which our fathers had
dreamed, about which Montesquieu had written, which, loyally adhered to,
and necessarily developed, is admirably fitted for the present time,
and sufficient for a long future. We are fortunate in finding in the
Charter the principles that we have just explained, that contain our
views and our hopes for France and humanity.[244]


[233] See the _Republic_, book iv., vol. ix., of our translation.

[234] On our principal duties towards ourselves, and on that error, too
much accredited in the eighteenth century, of reducing ethics to our
duties towards others, see 1st Series, vol. iii., lectures on the ethics
of Helvetius and Saint-Lambert, lecture vi., p. 235: "To define virtue
an habitual disposition to contribute to the happiness of others, is to
concentrate virtue into a single one of its applications, is to suppress
its general and essential character. Therein is the fundamental vice of
the ethics of the eighteenth century. Those ethics are an exaggerated
reaction against the somewhat mystical ethics of the preceding age,
which, rightly occupied with perfecting the internal man, often fell
into asceticism, which is not only useless to others, but is contrary to
well-ordered human life. Through fear of asceticism, the philosophy of
the eighteenth century forgot the care of internal perfection, and only
considered the virtues useful to society. That was retrenching many
virtues, and the best ones. I take, for example, dominion over self. How
make a virtue of it, when virtue is defined a _disposition to contribute
to the happiness of others_? Will it be said that dominion over self is
useful to others? But that is not always true; often this dominion is
exercised in the solitude of the soul over internal and wholly personal
movements; and there it is most painful and most sublime. Were we in a
desert, it would still be for us a duty to resist our passions, to
command ourselves, and to govern our life as it becomes a rational and
free being. Beneficence is an adorable virtue, but it is neither the
whole of virtue, nor its most difficult employment. What auxiliaries we
have when the question is to do good to our fellow-creatures,--pity,
sympathy, natural benevolence! But to resist pride and envy, to combat
in the depths of the soul a natural desire legitimate in itself, often
culpable in its excesses, to suffer and struggle in silence, is the
hardest task of a virtuous man. I add that the virtues useful to others
have their surest guaranty in those personal virtues that the eighteenth
century misconceived. What are goodness, generosity, and beneficence
without dominion over self, without the form of soul attached to the
religious observance of duty? They are, perhaps, only the emotions of a
beautiful nature placed in fortunate circumstances. Take away these
circumstances, and, perhaps, the effects will disappear or be
diminished. But when a man, who knows himself to be a rational and free
being, comprehends that it is his duty to remain faithful to liberty and
reason, when he applies himself to govern himself, and pursue, without
cessation, the perfection of his nature through all circumstances, you
may rely upon that man; he will know how, in case of need, to be useful
to others, because there is no true perfection for him without justice
and charity. From the care of internal perfection you may draw all the
useful virtues, but the reciprocal is not always true. One may be
beneficent without being virtuous; one is not virtuous without being

[235] On the true foundation of property see the preceding lecture.

[236] Voluntary servitude is little better than servitude imposed by
force. See 1st Series, vol. iii., lecture 4, p. 240: "Had another the
desire to serve us as a slave, without conditions and without limits, to
be for us a thing for our use, a pure instrument, a staff, a vase, and
had we also the desire to make use of him in this manner, and to let him
serve us in the same way, this reciprocity of desires would authorize
for neither of us this absolute sacrifice, because desire can never be
the title of a right, because there is something in us that is above all
desires, participated or not participated, to wit, duty and
right,--justice. To justice it belongs to be the rule of our desires,
and not to our desires to be the rule of justice. Should entire humanity
forget its dignity, should it consent to its own degradation, should it
extend the hand to slavery, tyranny would be none the more legitimate;
eternal justice would protest against a contract, which, were it
supported by desires, reciprocal desires most authentically expressed
and converted into solemn laws, is none the less void of all right,
because, as Bossuet very truly said, there is no right against right, no
contracts, no conventions, no human laws against the law of laws,
against natural law."

[237] On the danger of seeking at first the origin of human knowledge,
see 1st Series, vol. iii., lecture on Hobbes, p. 261: "Hobbes is not the
only one who took the question of the origin of societies as the
starting-point of political science. Nearly all the publicists of the
eighteenth century, Montesquieu excepted, proceed in the same manner.
Rousseau imagines at first a primitive state in which man being no
longer savage without being yet civilized, lived happy and free under
the dominion of the laws of nature. This golden age of humanity
disappearing carries with it all the rights of the individual, who
enters naked and disarmed into what we call the social state. But order
cannot reign in a state without laws, and since natural laws perished in
the shipwreck of primitive manners, new ones must be created. Society is
formed by aid of a contract whose principle is the abandonment by each
and all of their individual force and rights to the profit of the
community, of the state, the instrument of all forces, the depository of
all rights. The state, for Hobbes, will be a man, a monarch, a king; for
Rousseau, the state is the collection itself of citizens, who by turns
are considered as subjects and governors, so that instead of the
despotism of one over all, we have the despotism of all over each. Law
is not the more or less happy, more or less faithful expression of
natural justice; it is the expression of the general will. This general
will is alone free; particular wills are not free. The general will has
all rights, and particular wills have only the rights that it confers on
them, or rather lends them. Force, in _The Citizen_ is the foundation of
society, of order, of laws, of the rights and duties which laws alone
institute. In the _Contrat Social_, the general will plays the same
part, fulfils the same function. Moreover, the general will scarcely
differs in itself from force. In fact, the general will is number, that
is to say, force still. Thus, on both sides, tyranny under different
forms. One may here observe the power of method. If Hobbes, if Rousseau
especially had at first studied the idea of right in itself, with the
certain characters without which we are not able to conceive it, they
would have infallibly recognized that if there are rights derived from
positive laws, and particularly from conventions and contracts, there
are rights derived from no contract, since contracts take them for
principles and rules; from no convention, since they serve as the
foundation to all conventions in order that these conventions may be
reputed just;--rights that society consecrates and develops, but does
not make,--rights not subject to the caprices of general or particular
will, belonging essentially to human nature, and like it, inviolable and

[238] 1st Series, vol. iii., p. 265: "What!" somewhere says Montesquieu,
"man is everywhere in society, and it is asked whether man was born for
society! What is this fact that is reproduced in all the vicissitudes of
the life of humanity, except a law of humanity? The universal and
permanent fact of society attests the principle of sociability. This
principle shines forth in all our inclinations, in our sentiments, in
our beliefs. It is true that we love society for the advantages that it
brings; but it is none the less true, that we also love it for its own
sake, that we seek it independently of all calculation. Solitude saddens
us; it is not less deadly to the life of the moral being, than a perfect
vacuum is to the life of the physical being. Without society what would
become of sympathy, which is one of the most powerful principles of our
soul, which establishes between men a community of sentiments, by which
each lives in all and all live in each? Who would be blind enough not to
see in that an energetic call of human nature for society? And the
attraction of the sexes, their union, the love of parents for
children,--do they not found a sort of natural society, that is
increased and developed by the power of the same causes which produced
it? Divided by interest, united by sentiment, men respect each other in
the name of justice. Let us add that they love each other in virtue of
natural charity. In the sight of justice, equal in right, charity
inspires us to consider ourselves as brethren, and to give each other
succor and consolation. Wonderful thing! God has not left to our wisdom,
nor even to experience, the care of forming and preserving society,--he
has willed that sociability should be a law of our nature, and a law so
imperative that no tendency to isolation, no egoism, no distaste even,
can prevail against it. All the power of the spirit of system was
necessary in order to make Hobbes say that society is an accident, as an
incredible degree of melancholy to wring from Rousseau the extravagant
expression that society is an evil."

[239] 1st Series, vol. iii., p. 283: "We do not hold from a compact our
quality as man, and the dignity and rights attached to it; or, rather,
there is an immortal compact which is nowhere written, which makes
itself felt by every uncorrupted conscience, that compact which binds
together all beings intelligent, free, and subject to misfortune, by the
sacred ties of a common respect and a common charity.... Laws promulgate
duties, but do not give birth to them; they could not violate duties
without being unjust, and ceasing to merit the beautiful name of
laws--that is to say, decisions of the public authority worthy of
appearing obligatory to the conscience of all. Nevertheless, although
laws have no other virtue than that of declaring what exists before
them, we often found on them right and justice, to the great detriment
of justice itself, and the sentiment of right. Time and habit despoil
reason of its natural rights in order to transfer it to law. What then
happens? We either obey it, even when it is unjust, which is not a very
great evil, but we do not think of reforming it little by little, having
no superior principle that enables us to judge it,--or we continually
change it, in an invincible impotence of founding any thing, by not
knowing the immutable basis on which written law must rest. In either
case, all progress is impossible, because the laws are not related to
their true principle, which is reason, conscience, sovereign and
absolute justice."

[240] Lecture 12.

[241] See 4th Series, vol. i., p. 40.

[242] See our pamphlet entitled _Justice and Charity_, composed in 1848,
in the midst of the excesses of socialism, in order to remind of the
dignity of liberty, the character, bearing, and the impassable limits of
true charity, private and civil.

[243] See on the theory of penalty, the _Gorgias_, vol. iii. of the
translation of Plato, and our argument, p. 367: "The first law of order
is to be faithful to virtue, and to that part of virtue which is related
to society, to wit, justice; but if one is wanting in that, the second
law of order is to expiate one's fault, and it is expiated by
punishment. Publicists are still seeking the foundation of penalty.
Some, who think themselves great politicians, find it in the utility of
the punishment for those who witness it, and are turned aside from crime
by fear of its menace, by its preventive virtue. And that it is true, is
one of the effects of penalty, but it is not its foundation; for
punishment falling upon the innocent, would produce as much, and still
more terror, and would be quite as preventive. Others, in their
pretensions to humanity, do not wish to see the legitimacy of punishment
except in its utility for him who undergoes it, in its corrective
virtue,--and that, too, is one of the possible effects of punishment,
but not its foundation; for that punishment may be corrective, it must
be accepted as just. It is, then, always necessary to recur to justice.
Justice is the true foundation of punishment,--personal and social
utility are only consequences. It is an incontestable fact, that after
every unjust act, man thinks, and cannot but think that he has incurred
demerit, that is to say, has merited a punishment. In intelligence, to
the idea of injustice corresponds that of penalty; and when injustice
has taken place in the social sphere, merited punishment ought to be
inflicted by society. Society can inflict it only because it ought.
Right here has no other source than duty, the strictest, most evident,
and most sacred duty, without which this pretended right would be only
that of force, that is to say, an atrocious injustice, should it even
result in the moral profit of him who undergoes it, and in a salutary
spectacle for the people,--what it would not then be; for then the
punishment would find no sympathy, no echo, either in the public
conscience or in that of the condemned. The punishment is not just,
because it is preventively or correctively useful; but it is in both
ways useful, because it is just." This theory of penalty, in
demonstrating the falsity, the incomplete and exclusive character of two
theories that divide publicists, completes and explains them, and gives
them both a legitimate centre and base. It is doubtless only indicated
in Plato, but is met in several passages, briefly but positively
expressed, and on it rests the sublime theory of expiation.

[244] As it is perceived, we have confined ourselves to the most general
principles. The following year, in 1819, in our lectures on Hobbes, 1st
Series, vol. iii., we gave a more extended theory of rights, and the
civil and political guaranties which they demand; we even touched the
question of the different forms of government, and established the truth
and beauty of the constitutional monarchy. In 1828, 2d Series, vol. i.,
lecture 13, we explained and defended the Charter in its fundamental
parts. Under the government of July, the part of defender of both
liberty and royalty was easy. We continued it in 1848; and when, at the
unexpected inundation of democracy, soon followed by a passionate
reaction in favor of an absolute authority, many minds, and the best,
asked themselves whether the young American republic was not called to
serve as a model for old Europe, we did not hesitate to maintain the
principle of the monarchy in the interest of liberty; we believe that we
demonstrated that the development of the principles of 1789, and in
particular the progress of the lower classes, so necessary, can be
obtained only by the aid of the constitutional monarchy,--6th Series,
POLITICAL DISCOURSES, _with an introduction on the principles of the
French Revolution and representative government_.



    Principle on which true theodicea rests. God the last foundation
    of moral truth, of the good, and of the moral person.--Liberty
    of God.--The divine justice and charity.--God the sanction of
    the moral law. Immortality of the soul; argument from merit and
    demerit; argument from the simplicity of the soul; argument from
    final causes.--Religious sentiment.--Adoration.--Worship.--Moral
    beauty of Christianity.

The moral order has been confirmed,--we are in possession of moral
truth, of the idea of the good, and the obligation that is attached to
it. Now, the same principle that has not permitted us to stop at
absolute truth,[245] and has forced us to seek its supreme reason in a
real and substantial being, forces us here again to refer the idea of
the good to the being who is its first and last foundation.

Moral truth, like every other universal and necessary truth, cannot
remain in a state of abstraction. In us it is only conceived. There must
somewhere be a being who not only conceives it, but constituted it.

As all beautiful things and all true things are related--these to a
unity that is absolute truth, and those to another unity that is
absolute beauty, so all moral principles participate in the same
principle, which is the good. We thus elevate ourselves to the
conception of the good in itself, of absolute good, superior to all
particular duties, and determined in these duties. Now, can the absolute
good be any thing else than an attribute of him who, properly speaking,
is alone absolute being?

Would it be possible that there might be several absolute beings, and
that the being in whom are realized absolute truth and absolute beauty
might not also be the one who is the principle of absolute good? The
very idea of the absolute implies absolute unity. The true, the
beautiful, and the good, are not three distinct essences; they are one
and the same essence considered in its fundamental attributes. Our mind
distinguishes them, because it can comprehend them only by division;
but, in the being in whom they reside, they are indivisibly united; and
this being at once triple and one, who sums up in himself perfect
beauty, perfect truth, and the supreme good, is nothing else than God.

So God is necessarily the principle of moral truth and the good. He is
also the type of the moral person that we carry in us.

Man is a moral person, that is to say, he is endowed with reason and
liberty. He is capable of virtue, and virtue has in him two principal
forms, respect of others, and love of others, justice and charity.

Can there be among the attributes possessed by the creature something
essential not possessed by the Creator? Whence does the effect draw its
reality and its being, except from its cause? What it possesses, it
borrows and receives. The cause at least contains all that is essential
in the effect. What particularly belongs to the effect, is inferiority,
is a lack, is imperfection: from the fact alone that it is dependent and
derived, it bears in itself the signs and the conditions of dependence.
If, then, we cannot legitimately conclude from the imperfection of the
effect in that of the cause, we can and must conclude from the
excellence of the effect in the perfection of the cause, otherwise there
would be something prominent in the effect which would be without cause.

Such is the principle of our theodicea. It is neither new nor subtle;
but it has not yet been thoroughly disengaged and elucidated, and it is,
to our eyes, firm against every test. It is by the aid of this
principle that we can, up to a certain point, penetrate into the true
nature of God.

God is not a being of logic, whose nature can be explained by way of
deduction, and by means of algebraic equations. When, setting out from a
first attribute, we have deduced the attributes of God from each other,
after the manner of geometricians and the schoolmen, what do we
possess,[246] I pray you, but abstractions? It is necessary to leave
these vain dialectics in order to arrive at a real and living God.

The first notion that we have of God, to wit, the notion of an infinite
being, is itself given to us independently of all experience. It is the
consciousness of ourselves, as being at once, and as being limited, that
elevates us directly to the conception of a being who is the principle
of our being, and is himself without bounds. This solid and single
argument, which is at bottom that of Descartes,[247] opens to us a way
that must be followed, in which Descartes too quickly stopped. If the
being that we possess forces us to recur to a cause which possesses
being in an infinite degree, all that we have of being, that is to say,
of substantial attributes, equally requires an infinite cause. Then, God
will no longer be merely the infinite, abstract, or at least
indeterminate being in which reason and the heart know not where to
betake themselves,[248] he will be a real and determined being, a moral
person like ours and psychology conducts us without hypothesis to a
theodicea at once sublime and related to us.[249]

Before all, if man is free, can it be that God is not free? No one
contends that he who is cause of all causes, who has no cause but
himself, can be dependent on any thing whatever. But in freeing God from
all external constraint, Spinoza subjects him to an internal and
mathematical necessity, wherein he finds the perfection of being. Yes,
of being which is not a person; but the essential character of personal
being is precisely liberty. If, then, God were not free, God would be
beneath man. Would it not be strange that the creature should have the
marvellous power of disposing of himself, and of freely willing, and
that the being who has made him should be subjected to a necessary
development, whose cause is only in himself, without doubt, but, in
fine, is a sort of abstract power, mechanical or metaphysical, but very
inferior to the personal and voluntary cause that we are, and of which
we have the clearest consciousness? God is therefore free, since we are
free. But he is not free as we are free; for God is at once all that we
are, and nothing that we are. He possesses the same attributes that we
possess, but elevated to infinity. He possesses an infinite liberty,
joined to an infinite intelligence; and, as his intelligence is
infallible, excepted from the uncertainties of deliberation, and
perceiving at a glance where the good is, so his liberty spontaneously,
and without effort, fulfils it.[250]

In the same manner as we transfer to God the liberty that is the
foundation of our being, we also transfer to him justice and charity. In
man, justice and charity are virtues; in God, they are attributes. What
is in us the laborious conquest of liberty, is in him his very nature.
If respect of rights is in us the very essence of justice and the sign
of the dignity of our being, it is impossible that the perfect being
should not know and respect the rights of the lowest beings, since it is
he, moreover, who has imparted to them those rights. In God resides a
sovereign justice, which renders to each one his due, not according to
deceptive appearances, but according to the truth of things. Finally, if
man, that limited being, has the power of going out of himself, of
forgetting his person, of loving another than himself, of devoting
himself to another's happiness, or, what is better, to the perfecting of
another, should not the perfect being have, in an infinite degree, this
disinterested tenderness, this charity, the supreme virtue of the human
person? Yes, there is in God an infinite tenderness for his creatures:
he at first manifested it in giving us the being that he might have
withheld, and at all times it appears in the innumerable signs of his
divine providence. Plato knew this love of God well, and expressed it in
those great words, "Let us say that the cause which led the supreme
ordainer to produce and compose this universe is, that he was good; and
he who is good has no species of envy. Exempt from envy, he willed that
all things should be, as much as possible, like himself."[251]
Christianity went farther: according to the divine doctrine, God so
loved men that he gave them his only Son. God is inexhaustible in his
charity, as he is inexhaustible in his essence. It is impossible to give
more to the creature; he gives him every thing that he can receive
without ceasing to be a creature; he gives him every thing, even
himself, so far as the creature is in him and he in the creature. At the
same time nothing can be lost; for being absolute being, he eternally
expands and gives himself without being diminished. Infinite in power,
infinite in charity, he bestows his love in exhaustless abundance upon
the world, to teach us that the more we give the more we possess. It is
egoism, whose root is at the bottom of every heart, even by the side of
the sincerest charity, that inculcates in us the error that we lose by
self-devotion: it is egoism that makes us call devotion a sacrifice.

If God is wholly just and wholly good, he can will nothing but what is
good and just; and, as he is all-powerful, every thing that he wills he
can do, and consequently does do. The world is the work of God; it is
therefore perfectly made, perfectly adapted to its end.

And nevertheless, there is in the world a disorder that seems to accuse
the justice and goodness of God.

A principle that is attached to the very idea of the good, says to us
that every moral agent deserves a reward when he does good, and a
punishment when he does evil. This principle is universal and necessary:
it is absolute. If this principle has not its application in this world,
it must either be a lie, or this world is ordered ill.

Now, it is a fact that the good is not always followed by happiness, nor
evil always by unhappiness.

Let us, in the first place, remark that if the fact exists, it is rare
enough, and seems to present the character of an exception.

Virtue is a struggle against passion; this struggle, full of dignity, is
also full of pain; but, on one side, crime is condemned to much harder
pains; on the other, those of virtue are of short duration; they are a
necessary and almost always beneficent trial.

Virtue has its pains, but the greatest happiness is still with it, as
the greatest unhappiness is with crime; and such is the case in small
and great, in the secret of the soul, and on the theatre of life, in the
obscurest conditions and in the most conspicuous situations.

Good and bad health are, after all, the greatest part of happiness or
unhappiness. In this regard, compare temperance and its opposite, order
and disorder, virtue and vice; I mean a temperance truly temperate, and
not an atrabilarious asceticism, a rational virtue, and not a fierce

The great physician Hufeland[252] remarks that the benevolent sentiments
are favorable to health, and that the malevolent sentiments are opposed
to it. Violent and sinful passions irritate, inflame, and carry trouble
into the organization as well as the soul; the benevolent affections
preserve the measured and harmonious play of all the functions.

Hufeland again remarks that the greatest longevities pertain to wise and
well-regulated lives.

Thus, for health, strength, and life, virtue is better than vice: it is
already much, it seems to me.

I surely mean to speak of conscience only after health; but, in fine,
with the body, our most constant host is conscience. Peace or trouble of
conscience decides internal happiness or unhappiness. At this point of
view, compare again order and disorder, virtue and vice.

And without us, in society, to whom come esteem and contempt,
consideration and infamy? Certainly opinion has its mistakes, but they
are not long. In general, if charlatans, intriguers, impostors of every
kind, for some time surreptitiously get suffrages, it must be that a
sustained honesty is the surest and the almost infallible means of
reaching a good renown.

I regret that upon this point time does not allow of any development. It
would have afforded me delight, after having distinguished virtue from
happiness, to show them to you almost always united by the admirable law
of merit and demerit. I should have been pleased to show you this
beneficent law already governing human destiny, and called to preside
over it more exactly from day to day by the ever-increasing progress of
lights in governments and peoples, by the perfecting of civil and
judicial institutions. It would have been my wish to make pass into your
minds and hearts the consoling conviction that, after all, justice is
already in this world, and that the surest road to happiness is still
that of virtue.

This was the opinion of Socrates and Plato; and it is also that of
Franklin, and I gather it from my personal experience and an attentive
examination of human life. But I admit that there are exceptions; and
were there but one exception, it would be necessary to explain it.

Suppose a man, young, beautiful, rich, amiable, and loved, who, placed
between the scaffold and the betrayal of a sacred cause, voluntarily
mounts the scaffold at twenty years of age. What do you make of this
noble victim? The law of merit and demerit seems here suspended. Do you
dare blame virtue, or how in this world do you accord to it the
recompense that it has not sought, but is its due?

By careful search you will find more than one case analogous to that.

The laws of this world are general; they turn aside to suit no one: they
pursue their course without regard to the merit or demerit of any. If a
man is born with a bad temperament, it is in virtue of certain obscure
but undeviating physical laws, to which he is subject, like the animal
and the plant, and he suffers during his whole life, although personally
innocent. He is brought up in the midst of flames, epidemics, calamities
that strike at hazard the good as well as the bad.

Human justice condemns many that are innocent, it is true, but it
absolves, in fault of proof, more than one who is culpable. Besides, it
knows only certain derelictions. What faults, what basenesses occur in
the dark, which do not receive merited chastisement! In like manner,
what obscure devotions of which God is the sole witness and judge!
Without doubt nothing escapes the eye of conscience, and the culpable
soul cannot escape remorse. But remorse is not always in exact relation
with the fault committed; its vivacity may depend on a nature more or
less delicate, on education and habit. In a word, if it is in general
very true that the law of merit and demerit is fulfilled in this world,
it is not fulfilled with mathematical rigor.

What must we conclude from this? That the world is ill-made? No. That
cannot be, and is not. That cannot be, for incontestably the world has a
just and good author; that is not, for, in fact, we see order reigning
in the world; and it would be absurd to misconceive the manifest order
that almost everywhere shines forth on account of a few phenomena that
we cannot refer to order. The universe endures, therefore it is well
made. The pessimism of Voltaire is still more opposed to the aggregate
of facts than an absolute optimism. Between these two systematic
extremes which facts deny, the human race places the hope of another
life. It has found it very irrational to reject a necessary law on
account of some infractions; it has, therefore, maintained the law; and
from infractions it has only concluded that they ought to be referred to
the law, that there will be a reparation. Either this conclusion must be
admitted, or the two great principles previously admitted, that God is
just, and that the law of merit and demerit is an absolute law, must be

Now, to reject these two principles is to totally overthrow all human

To maintain them, is implicitly to admit that actual life must be,
elsewhere terminated or continued.

But is this continuation of the person possible? After the dissolution
of the body, can any thing of us remain?

In truth, the moral person, which acts well or ill, which awaits the
reward or punishment of its good or bad actions, is united to a
body,--it lives with the body, makes use of it, and, in a certain
measure, depends on it, but is not it.[253] The body is composed of
parts, may decrease or increase; is divisible, essentially divisible,
and even infinitely divisible. But that something that has consciousness
of itself, that says, _I_, _me_, that feels itself to be free and
responsible, does it not also feel that there is in it no division,
even no possible division, that it is a being one and simple? Is the
_me_ more or less _me_? Is there a half of _me_, a quarter of _me_? I
cannot divide my person. It remains identical to itself under the
diversity of the phenomena that manifest it. This identity, this
indivisibility of the person, is its spirituality. Spirituality is,
therefore, the very essence of the person. Belief in the spirituality of
the soul is involved in the belief of this identity of the _me_, which
no rational being has ever called in question. Accordingly, there is not
the least hypothesis for affirming that the soul does not essentially
differ from the body. Add that when we say the soul, we mean to say, and
do say the person, which is not separated from the consciousness of the
attributes that constitute it, thought and will. The being without
consciousness is not a person. It is the person that is identical, one,
simple. Its attributes, in developing it, do not divide it. Indivisible,
it is indissoluble, and may be immortal. If, then, divine justice, in
order to be exercised in regard to us, demands an immortal soul, it does
not demand an impossible thing. The spirituality of the soul is the
necessary foundation of immortality. The law of merit and demerit is the
direct demonstration of this. The first proof is called the metaphysical
proof, the second, the moral proof, which is the most celebrated, most
popular, at once the most convincing and the most persuasive.

What powerful motives are added to these two proofs to fortify them in
the heart! The following, for example, is a presumption of great value
for any one that believes in the virtue of sentiment and instinct.

Every thing has its end. This principle is as absolute as that which
refers every event to a cause.[254] Man has, therefore, an end. This end
is revealed in all his thoughts, in all his ways, in all his sentiments,
in all his life. Whatever he does, whatever he feels, whatever he
thinks, he thinks upon the infinite, loves the infinite, tends to the
infinite.[255] This need of the infinite is the mainspring of scientific
curiosity, the principle of all discoveries. Love also stops and rests
only there. On the route it may experience lively joys; but a secret
bitterness that is mingled with them soon makes it feel their
insufficiency and emptiness. Often, while ignorant of its true object,
it asks whence comes that fatal disenchantment by which all its
successes, all its pleasures are successively extinguished. If it knew
how to read itself, it would recognize that if nothing here below
satisfies it, it is because its object is more elevated, because the
true bourne after which it aspires is infinite perfection. Finally, like
thought and love, human activity is without limits. Who can say where it
shall stop? Behold this earth almost known. Soon another world will be
necessary for us. Man is journeying towards the infinite, which is
always receding before him, which he always pursues. He conceives it, he
feels it, he bears it, thus to speak, in himself,--how should his end be
elsewhere? Hence that unconquerable instinct of immortality, that
universal hope of another life to which all worships, all poesies, all
traditions bear witness. We tend to the infinite with all our powers;
death comes to interrupt the destiny that seeks its goal, and overtakes
it unfinished. It is, therefore, likely that there is something after
death, since at death nothing in us is terminated. Look at the flower
that to-morrow will not be. To-day, at least, it is entirely developed:
we can conceive nothing more beautiful of its kind; it has attained its
perfection. My perfection, my moral perfection, that of which I have the
clearest idea and the most invincible need, for which I feel that I am
born,--in vain I call for it, in vain I labor for it; it escapes me, and
leaves me only hope. Shall this hope be deceived? All beings attain
their end; should man alone not attain his? Should the greatest of
creatures be the most ill-treated? But a being that should remain
incomplete and unfinished, that should not attain the end which all his
instincts proclaim for him, would be a monster in the eternal order,--a
problem much more difficult to solve than the difficulties that have
been raised against the immortality of the soul. In our opinion, this
tendency of all the desires and all the powers of the soul towards the
infinite, elucidated by the principle of final causes, is a serious and
important confirmation of the moral proof and the metaphysical proof of
another life.

When we have collected all the arguments that authorize belief in
another life, and when we have thus arrived at a satisfying
demonstration, there remains an obstacle to be overcome. Imagination
cannot contemplate without fright that unknown which is called death.
The greatest philosopher in the world, says Pascal, on a plank wider
than it is necessary in order to go without danger from one side of an
abyss to the other, cannot think without trembling on the abyss that is
beneath him. It is not reason, it is imagination that frightens him; it
is also imagination that in great part causes that remnant of doubt,
that trouble, that secret anxiety which the firmest faith cannot always
succeed in overcoming in the presence of death. The religious man
experiences this terror, but he knows whence it comes, and he surmounts
it by attaching himself to the solid hopes furnished him by reason and
the heart. Imagination is a child that must be educated, by putting it
under the discipline and government of better faculties; it must be
accustomed to go to intelligence for aid instead of troubling
intelligence with its phantoms. Let us acknowledge that there is a
terrible step to be taken when we meet death. Nature trembles when face
to face with the unknown eternity. It is wise to present ourselves there
with all our forces united,--reason and the heart lending each other
mutual support, the imagination being subdued or charmed. Let us
continually repeat that, in death as in life, the soul is sure to find
God, and that with God all is just, all is good.[256]

We now know what God truly is. We have already seen two of his adorable
attributes,--truth and beauty. The most august attribute is revealed to
us,--holiness. God is the holy of holies, as the author of the moral law
and the good, as the principle of liberty, justice, and charity, as the
dispenser of penalty and reward. Such a God is not an abstract God, but
an intelligent and free person, who has made us in his own image, from
whom we hold the law itself that presides over our destiny, whose
judgments we await. It is his love that inspires us in our acts of
charity; it is his justice that governs our justice, that of our
societies and our laws. If we do not continually remind ourselves that
he is infinite, we degrade his nature; but he would be for us as if he
were not, if his infinite essence had no forms that pertain to us, the
proper forms of our reason and our soul.

By thinking upon such a being, man feels a sentiment that is _par
excellence_ the religious sentiment. All the beings with whom we are in
relation awaken in us different sentiments, according to the qualities
that we perceive in them; and should he who possesses all perfections
excite in us no particular sentiment? When we think upon the infinite
essence of God, when we are penetrated with his omnipotence, when we are
reminded that the moral law expresses his will, that he attaches to the
fulfilment and the violation of this law recompenses and penalties which
he dispenses with an inflexible justice, we cannot guard ourselves
against an emotion of respect and fear at the idea of such a grandeur.
Then, if we come to consider that this all-powerful being has indeed
wished to create us, us of whom he has no need, that in creating us he
has loaded us with benefits, that he has given us this admirable
universe for enjoying its ever-new beauties, society for ennobling our
life in that of our fellow-men, reason for thinking, the heart for
loving, liberty for acting; without disappearing, respect and fear are
tinged with a sweeter sentiment, that of love. Love, when it is applied
to feeble and limited beings, inspires us with a desire to do good to
them; but in itself it proposes to itself no advantage from the person
loved; we love a beautiful or good object, because it is beautiful or
good, without at first regarding whether this love may be useful to its
object and ourselves. For a still stronger reason, love, when it ascends
to God, is a pure homage rendered to his perfections; it is the natural
overflow of the soul towards a being infinitely lovable.

Respect and love compose adoration. True adoration does not exist
without possessing both of these sentiments. If you consider only the
all-powerful God, master of heaven and earth, author and avenger of
justice, you crush man beneath the weight of the grandeur of God and his
own feebleness, you condemn him to a continual trembling in the
uncertainty of God's judgments, you make him hate the world, life, and
himself, for every thing is full of misery. Towards this extreme,
Port-Royal inclines. Read the _Pensées de Pascal_.[257] In his great
humility, Pascal forgets two things,--the dignity of man and the love of
God. On the other hand, if you see only the good God and the indulgent
father, you incline to a chimerical mysticism. By substituting love for
fear, little by little with fear, we run the risk of losing respect. God
is no more a master, he is no more even a father; for the idea of a
father still to a certain point involves that of a respectful fear; he
is no more any thing but a friend, sometimes even a lover. True
adoration does not separate love and respect; it is respect animated by

Adoration is a universal sentiment. It differs in degrees according to
different natures; it takes the most different forms; it is often even
ignorant of itself; sometimes it is revealed by an exclamation springing
from the heart, in the midst of the great scenes of nature and life,
sometimes it silently rises in the mute and penetrated soul; it may err
in its expressions, even in its object; but at bottom it is always the
same. It is a spontaneous, irresistible emotion of the soul; and when
reason is applied to it, it is declared just and legitimate. What, in
fact, is more just than to fear the judgments of him who is holiness
itself, who knows our actions and our intentions, and will judge them
according to the highest justice? What, too, is more just than to love
perfect goodness and the source of all love? Adoration is at first a
natural sentiment; reason makes it a duty.

Adoration confined to the sanctuary of the soul is what is called
internal worship--the necessary principle of all public worships.

Public worship is no more an arbitrary institution than society and
government, language and arts. All these things have their roots in
human nature. Adoration abandoned to itself, would easily degenerate
into dreams and ecstasy, or would be dissipated in the rush of affairs
and the necessities of every day. The more energetic it is, the more it
tends to express itself outwardly in acts that realize it, to take a
sensible, precise, and regular form, which, by a proper reaction on the
sentiment that produced it, awakens it when it slumbers, sustains it
when it languishes, and also protects it against extravagances of every
kind to which it might give birth in so many feeble or unbridled
imaginations. Philosophy, then, lays the natural foundation of public
worship in the internal worship of adoration. Having arrived at that
point, it stops, equally careful not to betray its rights and not to go
beyond them, to run over, in its whole extent and to its farthest limit,
the domain of natural reason, as well as not to usurp a foreign domain.

But philosophy does not think of trespassing on the ground of theology;
it wishes to remain faithful to itself, and also to follow its true
mission, which is to love and favor every thing that tends to elevate
man, since it heartily applauds the awakening of religious and Christian
sentiment in all noble souls, after the ravages that have been made on
every hand, for more than a century, by a false and sad philosophy.
What, in fact, would not have been the joy of a Socrates and a Plato if
they had found the human race in the arms of Christianity! How happy
would Plato--who was so evidently embarrassed between his beautiful
doctrines and the religion of his times, who managed so carefully with
that religion even when he avoided it, who was forced to take from it
the best possible part, in order to aid a favorable interpretation of
his doctrine--have been, if he had had to do with a religion which
presents to man, as at once its author and its model, the sublime and
mild Crucified, of whom he had an extraordinary presentiment, whom he
almost described in the person of a just man dying on the cross;[258] a
religion which came to announce, or at least to consecrate and expand
the idea of the unity of God and that of the unity of the human race;
which proclaims the equality of all souls before the divine law, which
thereby has prepared and maintains civil equality; which prescribes
charity still more than justice, which teaches man that he does not live
by bread alone, that he is not wholly contained in his senses and his
body, that he has a soul, a free soul, whose value is infinite, above
the value of all worlds, that life is a trial, that its true object is
not pleasure, fortune, rank, none of those things that do not pertain to
our real destiny, and are often more dangerous than useful, but is that
alone which is always in our power, in all situations and all
conditions, from end to end of the earth, to wit, the improvement of the
soul by itself, in the holy hope of becoming from day to day less
unworthy of the regard of the Father of men, of the examples given by
him, and of his promises. If the greatest moralist that ever lived could
have seen these admirable teachings, which in germ were already at the
foundation of his spirit, of which more than one trait can be found in
his works, if he had seen them consecrated, maintained, continually
recalled to the heart and imagination of man by sublime and touching
institutions, what would have been his tender and grateful sympathy for
such a religion! If he had come in our own times, in that age given up
to revolutions, in which the best souls were early infected by the
breath of skepticism, in default of the faith of an Augustine, of an
Anselm, of a Thomas, of a Bossuet, he would have had, we doubt not, the
sentiments at least of a Montesquieu,[259] of a Turgot,[260] of a
Franklin,[261] and very far from putting the Christian religion and a
good philosophy at war with each other, he would have been forced to
unite them, to elucidate and fortify them by each other. That great mind
and that great heart, which dictated to him the _Phedon_, the _Gorgias_,
the _Republic_, would also have taught him that such books are made for
a few sages, that there is needed for the human race a philosophy at
once similar and different, that this philosophy is a religion, and that
this desirable and necessary religion is the Gospel. We do not hesitate
to say that, without religion, philosophy, reduced to what it can
laboriously draw from perfected natural reason, addresses itself to a
very small number, and runs the risk of remaining without much influence
on manners and life; and that, without philosophy, the purest religion
is no security against many superstitions, which little by little bring
all the rest, and for that reason it may see the best minds escaping its
influence, as was the case in the eighteenth century. The alliance
between true religion and true philosophy is, then, at once natural and
necessary; natural by the common basis of the truths which they
acknowledge; necessary for the better service of humanity. Philosophy
and religion differ only in the forms that distinguish, without
separating them. Another auditory, other forms, and another language.
When St. Augustine speaks to all the faithful in the church of Hippone,
do not seek in him the subtile and profound metaphysician who combated
the Academicians with their own arms, who supports himself on the
Platonic theory of ideas, in order to explain the creation. Bossuet, in
the treatise _De la Connaissance de Dieu et Soi-même_, is no longer,
and at the same time he is always, the author of the _Sermons_, of the
_Elévations_, and the incomparable _Catéchisme de Meaux_. To separate
religion and philosophy has always been, on one side or the other, the
pretension of small, exclusive, and fanatical minds; the duty, more
imperative now than ever, of whomsoever has for either a serious and
enlightened love, is to bring together and unite, instead of dividing
and wasting the powers of the mind and the soul, in the interest of the
common cause and the great object which the Christian religion and
philosophy pursue, each in its own way,--I mean the moral grandeur of


[245] Lectures 4 and 7.

[246] Such is the common vice of nearly all theodiceas, without
excepting the best--that of Leibnitz, that of Clarke; even the most
popular of all, the _Profession de Foi du Vicaire Savoyard_. See our
small work entitled _Philosophie Populaire_, 3d edition, p. 82.

[247] On the Cartesian argument, see above, part 1st, lecture 4; see
also 1st Series, vol. iv., lecture 12, and especially vol. v., lecture

[248] _Fragments de Philosophie Cartésienne_, p. 24: "The infinite
being, inasmuch as infinite, is not a mover, a cause; neither is he,
inasmuch as infinite, an intelligence; neither is he a will; neither is
he a principle of justice, nor much less a principle of love. We have no
right to impute to him all these attributes in virtue of the single
argument that every contingent being supposes a being that is not so,
that every finite supposes an infinite. The God given by this argument
is the God of Spinoza, is rigorously so; but he is almost as though he
were not, at least for us who with difficulty perceive him in the
inaccessible heights of an eternity and existence that are absolute,
void of thought, of liberty, of love, similar to nonentity itself, and a
thousand times inferior, in his infinity and eternity, to an hour of our
finite and perishable existence, if during this fleeting hour we know
what we are, if we think, if we love something else than ourselves, if
we feel capable of freely sacrificing to an idea the few minutes that
have been accorded to us."

[249] This theodicea is here _in résumé_, and in the 4th and 5th
lectures of part first, as well as in the lecture that follows. The most
important of our different writings, on this point, will be found
collected and elucidated by each other, in the Appendix to the 5th
lecture of the first volume of the 1st Series.--See our translation of
this entire Series of M. Cousin's works, under the title of the History
of Modern Philosophy.

[250] 3d Series, vol. iv., advertisement to the 3d edition: "Without
vain subtilty, there is a real distinction between free will and
spontaneous liberty. Arbitrary freedom is volition with the appearance
of deliberation between different objects, and under this supreme
condition, that when, as a consequence of deliberation, we resolve to do
this or that, we have the immediate consciousness of having been able,
and of being able still, to will the contrary. It is in volition, and in
the retinue of phenomena which surround it, that liberty more
energetically appears, but it is not thereby exhausted. It is at rare
and sublime moments in which liberty is as much greater as it appears
less to the eyes of a superficial observation. I have often cited the
example of d'Assas. D'Assas did not deliberate; and for all that, was
d'Assas less free, did he not act with entire liberty? Has the saint
who, after a long and painful exercise of virtue, has come to practise,
as it were by nature, the acts of self-renunciation which are repugnant
to human weakness; has the saint, in order to have gone out from the
contradictions and the anguish of this form of liberty which we called
volition, fallen below it instead of being elevated above it; and is he
nothing more than a blind and passive instrument of grace, as Luther and
Calvin have inappropriately wished to call it, by an excessive
interpretation of the Augustinian doctrine? No, freedom still remains;
and far from being annihilated, its liberty, in being purified, is
elevated and ennobled; from the human form of volition it has passed to
the almost divine form of spontaneity. Spontaneity is essentially free,
although it may be accompanied with no deliberation, and although often,
in the rapid motion of its inspired action, it escapes its own
observation, and leaves scarcely a trace in the depths of consciousness.
Let us transfer this exact psychology to theodicea, and we may recognize
without hypothesis, that spontaneity is also especially the form of
God's liberty. Yes, certainly, God is free; for, among other proofs, it
would be absurd that there should be less freedom in the first cause
than in one of its effects, humanity; God is free, but not with that
liberty which is related to our double nature, and made to contend
against passion and error, and painfully to engender virtue and our
imperfect knowledge; he is free, with a liberty that is related to his
own divine nature, that is a liberty unlimited, infinite, recognizing no
obstacle. Between justice and injustice, between good and evil, between
reason and its contrary, God cannot deliberate, and, consequently,
cannot will after our manner. Can one conceive, in fact, that he could
take what we call the bad part? This very supposition is impious. It is
necessary to admit that when he has taken the contrary part, he has
acted freely without doubt, but not arbitrarily, and with the
consciousness of having been able to choose the other part. His nature,
all-powerful, all-just, all-wise, is developed with that spontaneity
which contains entire liberty, and excludes at once the efforts and the
miseries of volition, and the mechanical operation of necessity. Such is
the principle and the true character of the divine action."

[251] _Timæus_, p. 119, vol. xii. of our translation.

[252] _De l'Art de prolonger sa Vie_, etc.

[253] On the spirituality of the soul, see all our writings. We will
limit ourselves to two citations. 2d Series, vol. iii., lecture 25, p.
859: "It is impossible to know any phenomenon of consciousness, the
phenomena of sensation, or volition, or of intelligence, without
instantly referring them to a subject one and identical, which is the
_me_; so we cannot know the external phenomena of resistance, of
solidity, of impenetrability, of figure, of color, of smell, of taste,
etc., without judging that these are not phenomena in appearance, but
phenomena which belong to something real, which is solid, impenetrable,
figured, colored, odorous, savory, etc. On the other hand, if you did
not know any of the phenomena of consciousness, you would never have the
least idea of the subject of these phenomena; if you did not know any of
the external phenomena of resistance, of solidity, of impenetrability,
of figure, of color, etc., you would not have any idea of the subject of
these phenomena: therefore the characters, whether of the phenomena of
consciousness, or of exterior phenomena, are for you the only signs of
the nature of the subjects of these phenomena. In examining the
phenomena which fall under the senses, we find between them grave
differences upon which it is useless here to insist, and which establish
the distinction of primary qualities and of secondary qualities. In the
first rank among the primary qualities is solidity, which is given to
you in the sensation of resistance, and inevitably accompanied by form,
etc. On the contrary, when you examine the phenomena of consciousness,
you do not therein find this character of resistance, of solidity, of
form, etc.; you do not find that the phenomena of your consciousness
have a figure, solidity, impenetrability, resistance; without speaking
of secondary qualities which are equally foreign to them, color, savor,
sound, smell, etc. Now, as the subject is for us only the collection of
the phenomena which reveal it to us, together with its own existence in
so far as the subject of the inherence of these phenomena, it follows
that, under phenomena marked with dissimilar characters and entirely
foreign to each other, the human mind conceives dissimilar and foreign
subjects. Thus as solidity and figure have nothing in common with
sensation, will, and thought, as every solid is extended for us, and as
we place it necessarily in space, while our thoughts, our volitions, our
sensations, are for us unextended, and while we cannot conceive them and
place them in space, but only in time, the human mind concludes with
perfect strictness that the subject of the exterior phenomena has the
character of the latter, and that the subject of the phenomena of
consciousness has the character of the former; that the one is solid and
extended, and that the other is neither solid nor extended. Finally, as
that which is solid and extended is divisible, and as that which is
neither solid nor extended is indivisible, hence divisibility is
attributed to the solid and extended subject, and indivisibility
attributed to the subject which is neither extended nor solid. Who of
us, in fact, does not believe himself an indivisible being, one and
identical, the same yesterday, to-day, and to-morrow? Well, the word
body, the word matter, signifies nothing else than the subject of
external phenomena, the most eminent of which are form, impenetrability,
solidity, extension, divisibility. The word mind, the word soul,
signifies nothing else than the subject of the phenomena of
consciousness, thought, will, sensation, phenomena simple, unextended,
not solid, etc. Behold the whole idea of spirit, and the whole idea of
matter! See, therefore, all that must be done in order to bring back
matter to spirit, and spirit to matter: it is necessary to pretend that
sensation, volition, thought, are reducible in the last analysis to
solidity, extension, figure, divisibility, etc., or that solidity,
extension, figure, etc., are reducible to thought, volition, sensation."
1st Series, vol. iii., lecture I, _Locke_. "Locke pretends that we
cannot be certain _by the contemplation of our own ideas_, that matter
cannot think; on the contrary, it is in the contemplation itself of our
ideas that we clearly perceive that matter and thought are incompatible.
What is thinking? Is it not uniting a certain number of ideas under a
certain unity? The simplest judgment supposes several terms united in a
subject, one and identical, which is _me_. This identical _me_ is
implied in every real act of knowledge. It has been demonstrated to
satiety that comparison exacts an indivisible centre that comprises the
different terms of the comparison. Do you take memory? There is no
memory possible without the continuation of the same subject that refers
to self the different modifications by which it has been successively
affected. Finally, consciousness, that indispensable condition of
intelligence,--is it not the sentiment of a single being? This is the
reason why each man cannot think without saying _me_, without affirming
that he is himself the identical and one subject of his thoughts. I am
_me_ and always _me_, as you are always yourself in the most different
acts of your life. You are not more yourself to-day than you were
yesterday, and you are not less yourself to-day than you were yesterday.
This identity and this indivisible unity of the _me_ inseparable from
the least thought, is what is called its spirituality, in opposition to
the evident and necessary characters of matter. By what, in fact, do you
know matter? It is especially by form, by extension, by something solid
that stops you, that resists you in different points of space. But is
not a solid essentially divisible? Take the most subtile fluids,--can
you help conceiving them as more or less susceptible of division? All
thought has its different elements like matter, but in addition it has
its unity in the thinking subject, and the subject being taken away,
which is one, the total phenomenon no longer exists. Far from that, the
unknown subject to which we attach material phenomena is divisible, and
divisible _ad infinitum_; it cannot cease to be divisible without
ceasing to exist. Such are the ideas that we have, on the one side, of
mind, on the other, of matter. Thought supposes a subject essentially
one; matter is infinitely divisible. What is the need of going farther?
If any conclusion is legitimate, it is that which distinguishes thought
from matter. God can indeed make them exist together, and their
co-existence is a certain fact, but he cannot confound them. God can
unite thought and matter, he cannot make matter thought, nor what is
extended simple."

[254] See 1st part, lecture 1.

[255] See lecture 5, _Mysticism_.

[256] 4th Series, vol. iii., _Santa-Rosa_: "After all, the existence of
a divine Providence is, to my eyes, a truth clearer than all lights,
more certain than all mathematics. Yes, there is a God, a God who is a
true intelligence, who consequently has a consciousness of himself, who
has made and ordered every thing with weight and measure, whose works
are excellent, whose ends are adorable, even when they are veiled from
our feeble eyes. This world has a perfect author, perfectly wise and
good. Man is not an orphan; he has a father in heaven. What will this
father do with his child when he returns to him? Nothing but what is
good. Whatever happens, all will be well. Every thing that he has done
has been done well; every thing that he shall do, I accept beforehand,
and bless. Yes, such is my unalterable faith, and this faith is my
support, my refuge, my consolation, my solace in this fearful moment."

[257] See our discussion on the _Pensées de Pascal_, vol. i. of the 4th

[258] See the end of the first book of the _Republic_, vol. ix. of our

[259] _Esprit des Lois_, _passim_.

[260] Works of Turgot, vol. ii., _Discours en Sorbonne sur les Avantages
que l'établissement du Christianism a procurés au Genre Humain_, etc.

[261] In the _Correspondence_, the letter to Dr. Stiles, March 9, 1790,
written by Franklin a few months before his death: "I am convinced that
the moral and religious system which Jesus Christ has transmitted to us
is the best that the world has seen or can see."--We here re-translate,
not having the works of Franklin immediately at hand.

[262] We have not ceased to claim, to earnestly call for, the alliance
between Christianity and philosophy, as well as the alliance between the
monarchy and liberty. See particularly 3d Series, vol. iv., _Philosophie
Contemporaine_, preface of the second edition; 4th Series, vol. i.,
_Pascal_, 1st and 2d preface, _passim_; 5th Series, vol. ii., _Discours
à la Chambre des Paris pour le Defence de l'Université et de la
Philosophie_. We everywhere profess the most tender veneration for
Christianity,--we have only repelled the servitude of philosophy, with
Descartes, and the most illustrious doctors of ancient and modern times,
from St. Augustine and St. Thomas, to the Cardinal de la Lucerne and the
Bishop of Hermopolis. Moreover, we love to think that those quarrels,
originating in other times from the deplorable strife between the clergy
and the University, have not survived it, and that now all sincere
friends of religion and philosophy will give each other the hand, and
will work in concert to encourage desponding souls and lift up burdened



    Review of the doctrine contained in these lectures, and the
    three orders of facts on which this doctrine rests, with the
    relation of each one of them to the modern school that has
    recognized and developed it, but almost always exaggerated
    it.--Experience and empiricism.--Reason and idealism.--Sentiment
    and mysticism.--Theodicea. Defects of different known
    systems.--The process that conducts to true theodicea, and the
    character of certainty and reality that this process gives to

Having arrived at the limit of this course, we have a final task to
perform,--it is necessary to recall its general spirit and most
important results.

From the first lecture, I have signalized to you the spirit that should
animate this instruction,--a spirit of free inquiry, recognizing with
joy the truth wherever found, profiting by all the systems that the
eighteenth century has bequeathed to our times, but confining itself to
none of them.

The eighteenth century has left to us as an inheritance three great
schools which still endure--the English and French school, whose chief
is Locke, among whose most accredited representatives are Condillac,
Helvetius, and Saint-Lambert; the Scotch school, with so many celebrated
names, Hutcheson, Smith, Reid, Beattie, Ferguson, and Dugald
Stewart;[263] the German school, or rather school of Kant, for, of all
the philosophers beyond the Rhine, the philosopher of Koenigsberg is
almost the only one who belongs to history. Kant died at the beginning
of the nineteenth century;[264] the ashes of his most illustrious
disciple, Fichte,[265] are scarcely cold. The other renowned
philosophers of Germany still live,[266] and escape our valuation.

But this is only an ethnographical enumeration of the schools of the
eighteenth century. It is above all necessary to consider them in their
characters, analogous or opposite. The Anglo-French school particularly
represents empiricism and sensualism, that is to say, an almost
exclusive importance attributed in all parts of human knowledge to
experience in general, and especially to sensible experience. The Scotch
school and the German school represent a more or less developed
spiritualism. Finally, there are philosophers, for example, Hutcheson,
Smith, and others, who, mistrusting the senses and reason, give the
supremacy to sentiment.

Such are the philosophic schools in the presence of which the nineteenth
century is placed.

We are compelled to avow, that none of these, to our eyes, contains the
entire truth. It has been demonstrated that a considerable part of
knowledge escapes sensation, and we think that sentiment is a basis
neither sufficiently firm, nor sufficiently broad, to support all human
science. We are, therefore, rather the adversary than the partisan of
the school of Locke and Condillac, and of that of Hutcheson and Smith.
Are we on that account the disciple of Reid and Kant? Yes, certainly, we
declare our preference for the direction impressed upon philosophy by
these two great men. We regard Reid as common sense itself, and we
believe that we thus eulogize him in a manner that would touch him most.
Common sense is to us the only legitimate point of departure, and the
constant and inviolable rule of science. Reid never errs; his method is
true, his general principles are incontestable, but we will willingly
say to this irreproachable genius,--_Sapere aude_. Kant is far from
being as sure a guide as Reid. Both excel in analysis; but Reid stops
there, and Kant builds upon analysis a system irreconcilable with it. He
elevates reason above sensation and sentiment; he shows with great skill
how reason produces by itself, and by the laws attached to its exercise,
nearly all human knowledge; there is only one misfortune, which is that
all this fine edifice is destitute of reality. Dogmatical in analysis,
Kant is skeptical in his conclusions. His skepticism is the most
learned, most moral, that ever existed; but, in fine, it is always
skepticism. This is saying plainly enough that we are far from belonging
to the school of the philosopher of Koenigsberg.

In general, in the history of philosophy, we are in favor of systems
that are themselves in favor of reason. Accordingly, in antiquity, we
side with Plato against his adversaries; among the moderns, with
Descartes against Locke, with Reid against Hume, with Kant against both
Condillac and Smith. But while we acknowledge reason as a power superior
to sensation and sentiment, as being, _par excellence_, the faculty of
every kind of knowledge, the faculty of the true, the faculty of the
beautiful, the faculty of the good, we are persuaded that reason cannot
be developed without conditions that are foreign to it, cannot suffice
for the government of man without the aid of another power: that power
which is not reason, which reason cannot do without, is sentiment; those
conditions, without which reason cannot be developed, are the senses. It
is seen what for us is the importance of sensation and sentiment: how,
consequently, it is impossible for us absolutely to condemn either the
philosophy of sensation, or, much more, that of sentiment.

Such are the very simple foundations of our eclecticism. It is not in us
the fruit of a desire for innovation, and for making ourself a place
apart among the historians of philosophy; no, it is philosophy itself
that imposes on us our historical views. It is not our fault if God has
made the human soul larger than all systems, and we also aver that we
are also much rejoiced that all systems are not absurd. Without giving
the lie to the most certain facts signalized and established by ourself,
it was indeed necessary, on finding them scattered in the history of
philosophy, to recognize and respect them, and if the history of
philosophy, thus considered, no longer appeared a mass of senseless
systems, a chaos, without light, and without issue; if, on the contrary,
it became, in some sort, a living philosophy, that was, it should seem,
a progress on which one might felicitate himself, one of the most
fortunate conquests of the nineteenth century, the very triumphing of
the philosophic spirit.

We have, therefore, no doubt in regard to the excellence of the
enterprise; the whole question for us is in the execution. Let us see,
let us compare what we have done with what we have wished to do.

Let us ask, in the first place, whether we have been just towards that
great philosophy represented in antiquity by Aristotle, whose best model
among the moderns is the wise author of the Essay on the _Human

There is in the philosophy of sensation what is true and what is false.
The false is the pretension of explaining all human knowledge by the
acquisitions of the senses; this pretension is the system itself; we
reject it, and the system with it. The true is that sensibility,
considered in its external and visible organs, and in its internal
organs, the invisible seats of the vital functions, is the indispensable
condition of the development of all our faculties, not only of the
faculties that evidently pertain to sensibility, but of those that seem
to be most remote from it. This true side of sensualism we have
everywhere recognized and elucidated in metaphysics, æsthetics, ethics,
and theodicea.

For us, theodicea, ethics, æsthetics, metaphysics, rest on psychology,
and the first principle of our psychology is that the condition of all
exercise of mind and soul is an impression made on our organs, and a
movement of the vital functions.

Man is not a pure spirit; he has a body which is for the spirit
sometimes an obstacle, sometimes a means, always an inseparable
companion. The senses are not, as Plato and Malebranche have too often
said, a prison for the soul, but much rather windows looking out upon
nature, through which the soul communicates with the universe. There is
an entire part of Locke's polemic against the theories of innate ideas
that is to our eyes perfectly true. We are the first to invoke
experience in philosophy. Experience saves philosophy from hypothesis,
from abstraction, from the exclusively deductive method, that is to say,
from the geometrical method. It is on account of having abandoned the
solid ground of experience, that Spinoza, attaching himself to certain
sides of Cartesianism,[267] and closing his eyes to all the others,
forgetting its method, its essential character, and its most certain
principles, reared a hypothetical system, or made from an arbitrary
definition spring with the last degree of rigor a whole series of
deductions, which have nothing to do with reality. It is also on account
of having exchanged experience for a systematic analysis, that
Condillac, an unfaithful disciple of Locke, undertook to draw from a
single fact, and from an ill-observed fact, all knowledge, by the aid of
a series of verbal transformations, whose last result is a nominalism,
like that of the later scholastics. Experience does not contain all
science, but it furnishes the conditions of all science. Space is
nothing for us without visible and tangible bodies that occupy it, time
is nothing without the succession of events, cause without its effects,
substance without its modes, law without the phenomena that it
rules.[268] Reason would reveal to us no universal and necessary truth,
if consciousness and the senses did not suggest to us particular and
contingent notions. In æsthetics, while severely distinguishing between
the beautiful and the agreeable, we have shown that the agreeable is the
constant accompaniment of the beautiful,[269] and that if art has for
its supreme law the expression of the ideal, it must express it under an
animated and living form which puts it in relation with our senses,
with our imagination, above all, with our heart. In ethics, if we have
placed Kant and stoicism far above epicureanism and Helvetius, we have
guarded ourselves against an insensibility and an asceticism which are
contrary to human nature. We have given to reason neither the duty nor
the right to smother the natural passions, but to rule them; we have not
wished to wrest from the soul the instinct of happiness, without which
life would not be supportable for a day, nor society for an hour; we
have proposed to enlighten this instinct, to show it the concealed but
real harmony which it sustains with virtue, and to open to it infinite

With these empirical elements, idealism is guarded from that mystical
infatuation which, little by little, gains and seizes it when it is
wholly alone, and brings it into discredit with sound and severe minds.
In our works--and why should we not say it?--we have often presented the
thought of Locke, whom we regard as one of the best and most sensible
men that ever lived. He is among those secret and illustrious advisers
with whom we support our weakness. More than one happy thought we owe to
him; and we often ask ourself whether investigations directed with the
circumspect method which we try to carry into ours, would not have been
accepted by his sincerity and wisdom. Locke is for us the true
representative, the most original, and altogether the most temperate of
the empirical school. Tied to a system, he still preserves a rare spirit
of liberty,--under the name of reflection he admits another source of
knowledge than sensation; and this concession to common sense is very
important. Condillac, by rejecting this concession, carried to extremes
and spoiled the doctrine of Locke, and made of it a narrow, exclusive,
entirely false system,--sensualism, to speak properly. Condillac works
upon chimeras reduced to signs, with which he sports at his ease. We
seek in vain in his writings, especially in the last, some trace of
human nature. One truly believes himself to be in the realm of shades,
_per inania regna_.[271] The _Essay on the Human Understanding_ produces
the opposite impression. Locke is a disciple of Descartes, whom the
excesses of Malebranche have thrown to an opposite excess: he is one of
the founders of psychology, he is one of the finest and most profound
connoisseurs of human nature, and his doctrine, somewhat unsteady but
always moderate, is worthy of having a place in a true eclecticism.[272]

By the side of the philosophy of Locke, there is one much greater, which
it is important to preserve from all exaggeration, in order to maintain
it in all its height. Founded in antiquity by Socrates, constituted by
Plato, renewed by Descartes, idealism embraces, among the moderns, men
of the highest renown. It speaks to man in the name of what is noblest
in man. It demands the rights of reason; it establishes in science, in
art, and in ethics fixed and invariable principles, and from this
imperfect existence it elevates us towards another world, the world of
the eternal, of the infinite, of the absolute.

This great philosophy has all our preferences, and we shall not be
accused of having given it too little place in these lectures. In the
eighteenth century it was especially represented in different degrees by
Reid and Kant. We wholly accept Reid, with the exception of his
historical views, which are too insufficient, and often mixed with
error.[273] There are two parts in Kant,--the analytical part, and the
dialectical part, as he calls them.[274] We admit the one and reject the
other. In this whole course we have borrowed much from the _Critique of
Speculative Reason_, the _Critique of Judgment_, and the _Critique of
Practical Reason_. These three works are, in our eyes, admirable
monuments of philosophic genius,--they are filled with treasures of
observation and analysis.[275]

With Reid and Kant, we recognize reason as the faculty of the true, the
beautiful, and the good. It is to its proper virtue that we directly
refer knowledge in its humblest and in its most elevated part. All the
systematic pretensions of sensualism are broken against the manifest
reality of universal and necessary truths which are incontestably in our
mind. At each instant, whether we know it or not, we bear universal and
necessary judgments. In the simplest propositions is enveloped the
principle of substance and being. We cannot take a step in life without
concluding from an event in the existence of its cause. These principles
are absolutely true, they are true everywhere and always. Now,
experience apprises us of what happens here and there, to-day or
yesterday; but of what happens everywhere and always, especially of what
cannot but happen, how can it apprise us, since it is itself always
limited to time and space? There are, then, in man principles superior
to experience.

Such principles can alone give a firm basis to science. Phenomena are
the objects of science only so far as they reveal something superior to
themselves, that is to say, laws. Natural history does not study such or
such an individual, but the generic type that every individual bears in
itself, that alone remains unchangeable, when the individuals pass away
and vanish. If there is in us no other faculty of knowing than
sensation, we never know aught but what is passing in things, and that,
too, we know only with the most uncertain knowledge, since sensibility
will be its only measure, which is so variable in itself and so
different in different individuals. Each of us will have his own
science, a science contradictory and fragile, which one moment produces
and another destroys, false as well as true, since what is true for me
is false for you, and will even be false for me in a little while. Such
are science and truth in the doctrine of sensation. On the contrary,
necessary and immutable principles found a science necessary and
immutable as themselves,--the truth which they gave as is neither mine
nor yours, neither the truth of to-day, nor that of to-morrow, but truth
in itself.

The same spirit transferred to æsthetics has enabled us to seize the
beautiful by the side of the agreeable, and, above different and
imperfect beauties which nature offers to us, to seize an ideal beauty,
one and perfect, without a model in nature, and the only model worthy of

In ethics we have shown that there is an essential distinction between
good and evil; that the idea of the good is an idea just as absolute as
the idea of the beautiful and that of the true; that the good is a
universal and necessary truth, marked with the particular character that
it ought to be practised. By the side of interest, which is the law of
sensibility, reason has made us recognize the law of duty, which a free
being can alone fulfil. From these ethics has sprung a generous
political doctrine, giving to right a sure foundation in the respect due
to the person, establishing true liberty, and true equality, and calling
for institutions, protective of both, which do not rest on the mobile
and arbitrary will of the legislator, whether people or monarch, but on
the nature of things, on truth and justice.

From empiricism we have retained the maxim which gives empiricism its
whole force--that the conditions of science, of art, of ethics, are in
experience, and often in sensible experience. But we profess at the same
time this other maxim, that the foundation of science is absolute truth,
that the direct foundation of art is absolute beauty, that the direct
foundation of ethics and politics is the good, is duty, is right, and
that what reveals to us these absolute ideas of the true, the
beautiful, and the good, is reason. The foundation of our doctrine is,
therefore, idealism rightly tempered by empiricism.

But what would be the use of having restored to reason the power of
elevating itself to absolute principles, placed above experience,
although experience furnishes their external conditions, if, to adopt
the language of Kant,[276] these principles have no objective value?
What good could result from having determined with a precision until
then unknown the respective domains of experience and reason, if, wholly
superior as it is to the senses and experience, reason is captive in
their inclosure, and we know nothing beyond with certainty? Thereby,
then, we return by a _detour_ to skepticism to which sensualism conducts
us directly, and at less expense. To say that there is no principle of
causality, or to say that this principle has no force out of the subject
that possesses it,--is it not saying the same thing? Kant avows that man
has no right to affirm that there are out of him real causes, time, or
space, or that he himself has a spiritual and free soul. This
acknowledgment would perfectly satisfy Hume; it would be of very little
importance to him that the reason of man, according to Kant, might
conceive, and even could not but conceive, the ideas of cause, time,
space, liberty, spirit, provided these ideas are applied to nothing
real. I see therein, at most, only a torment for human reason, at once
so poor and so rich, so full and so void.

A third doctrine, finding sensation insufficient, and also discontented
with reason, which it confounds with reasoning, thinks to approach
common sense by making science, art, and ethics rest on sentiment. It
would have us confide ourselves to the instinct of the heart, to that
instinct, nobler than sensation, and more subtle than reasoning. Is it
not the heart, in fact, that feels the beautiful and the good? Is it not
the heart that, in all the great circumstances of life, when passion and
sophism obscure to our eyes the holy idea of duty and virtue, makes it
shine forth with an irresistible light, and, at the same time, warms us,
animates us, and gives us the courage to practise it?

We also have recognized that admirable phenomenon which is called
sentiment; we even believe that here will be found a more precise and
more complete analysis of it than in the writings where sentiment reigns
alone. Yes, there is an exquisite pleasure attached to the contemplation
of the truth, to the reproduction of the beautiful, to the practice of
the good; there is in us an innate love for all these things; and when
great rigor is not aimed at, it may very well be said that it is the
heart which discerns truth, that the heart is and ought to be the light
and guide of our life.

To the eyes of an unpractised analysis, reason in its natural and
spontaneous exercise is confounded with sentiment by a multitude of
resemblances.[277] Sentiment is intimately attached to reason; it is its
sensible form. At the foundation of sentiment is reason, which
communicates to it its authority, whilst sentiment lends to reason its
charm and power. Is not the widest spread and the most touching proof of
the existence of God that spontaneous impulse of the heart which, in the
consciousness of our miseries, and at the sight of the imperfections of
our race which press upon our attention, irresistibly suggests to us the
confused idea of an infinite and perfect being, fills us, at this idea,
with an inexpressible emotion, moistens our eyes with tears, or even
prostrates us on our knees before him whom the heart reveals to us, even
when the reason refuses to believe in him? But look more closely, and
you will see that this incredulous reason is reasoning supported by
principles whose bearing is insufficient; you will see that what reveals
the infinite and perfect being is precisely reason itself;[278] and
that, in turn, it is this revelation of the infinite by reason, which,
passing into sentiment, produces the emotion and the inspiration that we
have mentioned. May heaven grant that we shall never reject the aid of
sentiment! On the contrary, we invoke it both for others and ourself.
Here we are with the people, or rather we are the people. It is to the
light of the heart, which is borrowed from that of reason, but reflects
it more vividly in the depths of the soul, that we confide ourselves, in
order to preserve all great truths in the soul of the ignorant, and even
to save them in the mind of the philosopher from the aberrations or
refinements of an ambitious philosophy.

We think, with Quintilian and Vauvenargues, that the nobility of
sentiment makes the nobility of thought. Enthusiasm is the principle of
great works as well as of great actions. Without the love of the
beautiful, the artist will produce only works that are perhaps regular
but frigid, that will possibly please the geometrician, but not the man
of taste. In order to communicate life to the canvas, to the marble, to
speech, it must be born in one's self. It is the heart mingled with
logic that makes true eloquence; it is the heart mingled with
imagination that makes great poetry. Think of Homer, of Corneille, of
Bossuet,--their most characteristic trait is pathos, and pathos is a cry
of the soul. But it is especially in ethics that sentiment shines forth.
Sentiment, as we have already said, is as it were a divine grace that
aids us in the fulfilment of the serious and austere law of duty. How
often does it happen that in delicate, complicated, difficult
situations, we know not how to ascertain wherein is the true, wherein is
the good! Sentiment comes to the aid of reasoning which wavers; it
speaks, and all uncertainties are dissipated. In listening to its
inspirations, we may act imprudently, but we rarely act ill: the voice
of the heart is the voice of God.

We, therefore, give a prominent place to this noble element of human
nature. We believe that man is quite as great by heart as by reason. We
have a high regard for the generous writers who, in the looseness of
principles and manners in the eighteenth century, opposed the baseness
of calculation and interest with the beauty of sentiment. We are with
Hutcheson against Hobbes, with Rousseau against Helvetius, with the
author of Woldemar[279] against the ethics of egoism or those of the
schools. We borrow from them what truth they have, we leave their
useless or dangerous exaggerations. Sentiment must be joined to reason;
but reason must not be replaced by sentiment. In the first place, it is
contrary to facts to take reason for reasoning, and to envelop them in
the same criticism. And then, after all, reasoning is the legitimate
instrument of reason; its value is determined by that of the principles
on which it rests. In the next place, reason, and especially spontaneous
reason, is, like sentiment, immediate and direct; it goes straight to
its object, without passing through analysis, abstraction, and
deduction, excellent operations without doubt, but they suppose a
primary operation, the pure and simple apperception of the truth.[280]
It is wrong to attribute this apperception to sentiment. Sentiment is an
emotion, not a judgment; it enjoys or suffers, it loves or hates, it
does not know. It is not universal like reason; and as it still pertains
on some side to organization, it even borrows from the organization
something of its inconstancy. In fine, sentiment follows reason, and
does not precede it. Therefore, in suppressing reason, we suppress the
sentiment which emanates from it, and science, art, and ethics lack firm
and solid bases.

Psychology, æsthetics, and ethics, have conducted us to an order of
investigations more difficult and more elevated, which are mingled with
all the others, and crown them--theodicea.

We know that theodicea is the rock of philosophy. We might shun it, and
stop in the regions--already very high--of the universal and necessary
principles of the true, the beautiful, and the good, without going
farther, without ascending to the principles of these principles, to the
reason of reason, to the source of truth. But such a prudence is, at
bottom, only a disguised skepticism. Either philosophy is not, or it is
the last explanation of all things. Is it, then, true that God is to us
an inexplicable enigma,--he without whom the most certain of all things
that thus far we have discovered would be for us an insupportable
enigma? If philosophy is incapable of arriving at the knowledge of God,
it is powerless; for if it does not possess God, it possesses nothing.
But we are convinced that the need of knowing has not been given us in
vain, and that the desire of knowing the principle of our being bears
witness to the right and power of knowing which we have. Accordingly,
after having discoursed to you about the true, the beautiful, and the
good, we have not feared to speak to you of God.

More than one road may lead us to God. We do not pretend to close any of
them; but it was necessary for us to follow the one that was open to us,
that which the nature and subject of our instruction opened to us.

Universal and necessary truths are not general ideas which our mind
draws by way of reasoning from particular things; for particular things
are relative and contingent, and cannot contain the universal and
necessary. On the other hand, these truths do not subsist by themselves;
they would thus be only pure abstractions, suspended in vacuity and
without relation to any thing. Truth, beauty, and goodness are
attributes and not entities. Now there are no attributes without a
subject. And as here the question is concerning absolute truth, beauty
and goodness, their substance can be nothing else than absolute being.
It is thus that we arrive at God. Once more, there are many other means
of arriving at him; but we hold fast to this legitimate and sure way.

For us, as for Plato, whom we have defended against a too narrow
interpretation,[281] absolute truth is in God,--it is God himself under
one of his phases. Since Plato, the greatest minds, Saint Augustine,
Descartes, Bossuet, Leibnitz, agree in putting in God, as in their
source, the principles of knowledge as well as existence. From him
things derive at once their intelligibility and their being. It is by
the participation of the divine reason that our reason possesses
something absolute. Every judgment of reason envelops a necessary truth,
and every necessary truth supposes necessary being.

If all perfection belongs to the perfect being, God will possess beauty
in its plenitude. The father of the world, of its laws, of its ravishing
harmonies, the author of forms, colors, and sounds, he is the principle
of beauty in nature. It is he whom we adore, without knowing it, under
the name of the ideal, when our imagination, borne on from beauties to
beauties, calls for a final beauty in which it may find repose. It is to
him that the artist, discontented with the imperfect beauties of nature
and those that he creates himself, comes to ask for higher inspirations.
It is in him that are summed up the main forms of every kind of beauty,
the beautiful and the sublime, since he satisfies all our faculties by
his perfections, and overwhelms them with his infinitude.

God is the principle of moral truths, as well as of all other truths.
All our duties are comprised in justice and charity. These two great
precepts have not been made by us; they have been imposed on us; from
whom, then, can they come, except from a legislator essentially just and
good? Therein, in our opinion, is an invincible demonstration of the
divine justice and charity:--this demonstration elucidates and sustains
all others. In this immense universe, of which we catch a glimpse of a
comparatively insignificant portion, every thing, in spite of more than
one obscurity, seems ordered in view of general good, and this plan
attests a Providence. To the physical order which one in good faith can
scarcely deny, add the certainty, the evidence of the moral order that
we bear in ourselves. This order supposes the harmony of virtue and
goodness; it therefore requires it. Without doubt this harmony already
appears in the visible world, in the natural consequences of good and
bad actions, in society which punishes and rewards, in public esteem and
contempt, especially in the troubles and joys of conscience. Although
this necessary law of order is not always exactly fulfilled, it
nevertheless ought to be, or the moral order is not satisfied, and the
intimate nature of things, their moral nature, remains violated,
troubled, perverted. There must, then, be a being who takes it upon
himself to fulfil, in a time that he has reserved to himself, and in a
manner that will be proper, the order of which he has put in us the
inviolable need; and this being is again, God.

Thus, on all sides, on that of metaphysics, on that of æsthetics,
especially on that of ethics, we elevate ourselves to the same
principle, the common centre, the last foundation, of all truth, all
beauty, all goodness. The true, the beautiful, and the good, are only
different revelations of the same being. Human intelligence,
interrogated in regard to all these ideas which are incontestably in it,
always makes us the same response; it sends us back to the same
explanation,--at the foundation of all, above all, God, always God.

We have arrived, then, from degree to degree, at religion. We are in
fellowship with the great philosophies which all proclaim a God, and, at
the same time, with the religions that cover the earth, with the
Christian religion, incomparably the most perfect and the most holy. As
long as philosophy has not reached natural religion,--and by this we
mean, not the religion at which man arrives in that hypothetical state
that is called the state of nature, but the religion which is revealed
to us by the natural light accorded to all men,--it remains beneath all
worship, even the most imperfect, which at least gives to man a father,
a witness, a consoler, a judge. A true theodicea borrows in some sort
from all religious beliefs their common principle, and returns it to
them surrounded with light, elevated above all uncertainty, guarded
against all attack. Philosophy may present itself in its turn to
mankind; it also has a right to man's confidence, for it speaks to him
of God in the name of all his needs and all his faculties, in the name
of reason and sentiment.

Observe that we have arrived at these high conclusions without any
hypothesis, by the aid of processes at once very simple and perfectly
rigorous. Truths of different orders being given, truths which have not
been made by us, and are not sufficient for themselves, we have ascended
from these truths to their author, as one goes from the effect to the
cause, from the sign to the thing signified, from phenomenon to being,
from quality to subject. These two principles--that every effect
supposes a cause, and every quality a subject--are universal and
necessary principles. They have been put by us in their full light, and
demonstrated in the manner in which principles undemonstrable, because
they are primitive, can be demonstrated. Moreover, to what are these
necessary principles applied? To metaphysical and moral truths, which
are also necessary. It was therefore necessary to conclude in the
existence of a cause and a necessary being, or, indeed, it was necessary
to deny either the necessity of the principle of cause and the principle
of substance, or the necessity of the truths to which we applied them,
that is to say, to renounce all notions of common sense; for these very
principles and these truths, with their character of universality and
necessity, compose common sense.

Not only is it certain that every effect supposes a cause, and every
quality a being, but it is equally certain that an effect of such a
nature supposes a cause of the same nature, and that a quality or an
attribute marked with such or such essential characters supposes a being
in which these same characters are again found in an eminent degree.
Whence it follows, that we have very legitimately concluded from truth
in an intelligent cause and substance, from beauty in a being supremely
beautiful, and from a moral law composed at once of justice and charity
in a legislator supremely just and supremely good.

And we have not made a geometrical and algebraical theodicea, after the
example of many philosophers, and the most illustrious. We have not
deduced the attributes of God from each other, as the different terms of
an equation are converted, or as from one property of a triangle the
other properties are deduced, thus ending at a God wholly abstract,
good perhaps for the schools, but not sufficient for the human race. We
have given to theodicea a surer foundation--psychology. Our God is
doubtless also the author of the world, but he is especially the father
of humanity; his intelligence is ours, with the necessity of essence and
infinite power added. So our justice and our charity, related to their
immortal exemplar, give us an idea of the divine justice and charity.
Therein we see a real God, with whom we can sustain a relation also
real, whom we can comprehend and feel, and who in his turn can
comprehend and feel our efforts, our sufferings, our virtues, our
miseries. Made in his image, conducted to him by a ray of his own being,
there is between him and us a living and sacred tie.

Our theodicea is therefore free at once from hypothesis and abstraction.
By preserving ourselves from the one, we have preserved ourselves from
the other. Consenting to recognize God only in his signs visible to the
eyes and intelligible to the mind, it is on infallible evidence that we
have elevated ourselves to God. By a necessary consequence, setting out
from real effects and real attributes, we have arrived at a real cause
and a real substance, at a cause having in power all its essential
effects, at a substance rich in attributes. I wonder at the folly of
those who, in order to know God better, consider him, they say, in his
pure and absolute essence, disengaged from all limitative determination.
I believe that I have forever removed the root of such an
extravagance.[282] No; it is not true that the diversity of
determinations, and, consequently, of qualities and attributes, destroys
the absolute unity of a being; the infallible proof of it is that my
unity is not the least in the world altered by the diversity of my
faculties. It is not true that unity excludes multiplicity, and
multiplicity unity; for unity and multiplicity are united in me. Why
then should they not be in God? Moreover, far from altering unity in me,
multiplicity develops it and makes its productiveness appear. So the
richness of the determinations and the attributes of God is exactly the
sign of the plenitude of his being. To neglect his attributes, is
therefore to impoverish him; we do not say enough, it is to annihilate
him,--for a being without attributes exists not; and the abstraction of
being, human or divine, finite or infinite, relative or absolute, is

Theodicea has two rocks,--one, which we have just signalized to you, is
abstraction, the abuse of dialectics; it is the vice of the schools and
metaphysics. If we are forced to shun this rock, we run the risk of
being dashed against the opposite rock, I mean that fear of reasoning
that extends to reason, that excessive predominance of sentiment, which
developing in us the loving and affectionate faculties at the expense of
all the others, throws us into anthropomorphism without criticism, and
makes us institute with God an intimate and familiar intercourse in
which we are somewhat too forgetful of the august and fearful majesty of
the divine being. The tender and contemplative soul can neither love nor
contemplate in God the necessity, the eternity, the infinity, that do
not come within the sphere of imagination and the heart, that are only
conceived. It therefore neglects them. Neither does it study God in
truth of every kind, in physics, metaphysics, and ethics, which manifest
him; it considers in him particularly the characters to which affection
is attached. In adoration, Fenelon retrenches all fear that nothing but
love may subsist, and Mme. Guyon ends by loving God as a lover.

We escape these opposite excesses of a refined sentimentality and a
chimerical abstraction, by always keeping in mind both the nature of
God, by which he escapes all relation with us,--necessity, eternity,
infinity, and at the same time those of his attributes which are our own
attributes transferred to him, for the very simple reason that they came
from him.

I am able to conceive God only in his manifestations and by the signs
which he gives of his existence, as I am able to conceive any being only
by the attributes of that being, a cause only by its effects, as I am
able to conceive myself only by the exercise of my faculties. Take away
my faculties and the consciousness that attests them to me, and I am not
for myself. It is the same with God,--take away nature and the soul, and
every sign of God disappears. It is therefore in nature and the soul
that he must be sought and found.

The universe, which comprises nature and man, manifests God. Is this
saying that it exhausts God? By no means. Let us always consult
psychology. I know myself only by my acts; that is certain; and what is
not less certain is, that all my acts do not exhaust, do not equal my
power and my substance; for my power, at least that of my will, can
always add an act to all those which it has already produced, and it has
the consciousness, at the same time that it is exercised, of containing
in itself something to be exercised still. Of God and the world must be
said two things in appearance contrary,--we know God only by the world,
and God is essentially distinct and different from the world. The first
cause, like all secondary causes, manifests itself only by its effects;
it can even be conceived only by them, and it surpasses them by all of
the difference between the Creator and the created, the perfect and the
imperfect. The world is indefinite; it is not infinite; for, whatever
may be its quantity, thought can always add to it. To the myriads of
worlds that compose the totality of the world, may be added new worlds.
But God is infinite, absolutely infinite in his essence, and an
indefinite series cannot equal the infinite; for the indefinite is
nothing else than the finite more or less multiplied and capable of
continuous multiplication. The world is a whole which has its harmony;
for a God could make only a complete and harmonious work. The harmony of
the world corresponds to the unity of God, as indefinite quantity is a
defective sign of the infinity of God. To say that the world is God, is
to admit only the world and deny God. Give to this whatever name you
please, it is at bottom atheism. On the one hand, to suppose that the
world is void of God, and that God is separate from the world, is an
insupportable and almost impossible abstraction. To distinguish is not
to separate. I distinguish myself, but do not separate myself from my
qualities and my acts. So God is not the world, although he is in it
everywhere present in spirit and in truth.[283]

Such is our theodicea: it rejects the excesses of all systems, and
contains, we believe at least, all that is good in them. From sentiment
it borrows a personal God as we ourselves are a person, and from reason
a necessary, eternal, infinite God. In the presence of two opposite
systems,--one of which, in order to see and feel God in the world,
absorbs him in it; the other of which, in order not to confound God with
the world, separates him from it and relegates him to an inaccessible
solitude,--it gives to both just satisfaction by offering to them a God
who is in fact in the world, since the world is his work, but without
his essence being exhausted in it, a God who is both absolute unity and
unity multiplied, infinite and living, immutable and the principle of
movement, supreme intelligence and supreme truth, sovereign justice and
sovereign goodness, before whom the world and man are like nonentity,
who, nevertheless, is pleased with the world and man, substance eternal,
and cause inexhaustible, impenetrable, and everywhere perceptible, who
must by turns be sought in truth, admired in beauty, imitated, even at
an infinite distance, in goodness and justice, venerated and loved,
continually studied with an indefatigable zeal, and in silence adored.

Let us sum up this _résumé_. Setting out from the observation of
ourselves in order to preserve ourselves from hypothesis, we have found
in consciousness three orders of facts. We have left to each of them its
character, its rank, its bearing, and its limits. Sensation has appeared
to us the indispensable condition, but not the foundation of knowledge.
Reason is the faculty itself of knowing; it has furnished us with
absolute principles, and these absolute principles have conducted us to
absolute truths. Sentiment, which pertains at once to sensation and
reason, has found a place between both. Setting out from consciousness,
but always guided by it, we have penetrated into the region of being; we
have gone quite naturally from knowledge to its objects by the road that
the human race pursues, that Kant sought in vain, or rather misconceived
at pleasure, to wit, that reason which must be admitted entire or
rejected entire, which reveals to us existences as well as truths.
Therefore, after having recalled all the great metaphysical, æsthetical,
and moral truths, we have referred them to their principle; with the
human race we have pronounced the name of God, who explains all things,
because he has made all things, whom all our faculties require,--reason,
the heart, the senses, since he is the author of all our faculties.

This doctrine is so simple, is to such an extent in all our powers, is
so conformed to all our instincts, that it scarcely appears a
philosophic doctrine, and, at the same time, if you examine it more
closely, if you compare it with all celebrated doctrines, you will find
that it is related to them and differs from them, that it is none of
them and embraces them all, that it expresses precisely the side of them
that has made them live and sustains them in history. But that is only
the scientific character of the doctrine which we present to you; it has
still another character which distinguishes it and recommends it to you
much more. The spirit that animates it is that which of old inspired
Socrates, Plato, and Marcus Aurelius, which makes your hearts beat when
you are reading Corneille and Bossuet, which dictated to Vauvenargues
the few pages that have immortalized his name, which you feel especially
in Reid, sustained by an admirable good sense, and even in Kant, in the
midst of, and superior to the embarrassments of his metaphysics, to wit,
the taste of the beautiful and the good in all things, the passionate
love of honesty, the ardent desire of the moral grandeur of humanity.
Yes, we do not fear to repeat that we tend thither by all our views; it
is the end to which are related all the parts of our instruction; it is
the thought which serves as their connection, and is, thus to speak,
their soul. May this thought be always present to you, and accompany you
as a faithful and generous friend, wherever fortune shall lead you,
under the tent of the soldier, in the office of the lawyer, of the
physician, of the savant, in the study of the literary man, as well as
in the studio of the artist! Finally, may it sometimes remind you of him
who has been to you its very sincere but too feeble interpreter!


[263] Still living in 1818, died in 1828.

[264] In 1804.

[265] Died, 1814.

[266] This was said in 1818. Since then, Jacobi, Hegel, and
Schleiermacher, with so many others, have disappeared. Schelling alone
survives the ruins of the German philosophy.

Cartésienisme et du Spinozisme_.

[268] Part 1st, lectures 1 and 2.

[269] Part 2d.

[270] Part 3d.

[271] On Condillac, 1st Series, vol. i., _passim_, and particularly vol.
iii., lectures 2 and 3.

[272] We have never spoken of Locke except with sincere respect, even
while combating him. See 1st Series, vol. i., course of 1817, _Discours
d'Ouverture_, vol. ii., lecture 1, and especially 2d Series, vol. iii.,

[273] See 1st Series, vol. iv., lectures on Reid.

[274] _Ibid._, vol. v.

[275] For more than twenty years we have thought of translating and
publishing the three _Critiques_, joining to them a selection from the
smaller productions of Kant. Time has been wanting to us for the
completion of our design; but a young and skilful professor of
philosophy, a graduate of the Normal School, has been willing to supply
our place, and to undertake to give to the French public a faithful and
intelligent version of the greatest thinker of the eighteenth century.
M. Barni has worthily commenced the useful and difficult enterprise
which we have remitted to his zeal, and pursues it with courage and

[276] Part 1st, Lecture 3.

[277] Lecture 5, _Mysticism_.

[278] This pretended proof of sentiment is in fact, the Cartesian proof
itself. See lectures 4 and 16.

[279] M. Jacobi. See the _Manual of the History of Philosophy_, by
Tennemann, vol. ii., p. 318.

[280] On spontaneous reason and reflective reason, see 1st part, lect. 2
and 3.

[281] Lectures 4 and 5.

[282] See particularly lecture 5.

[283] We place here this analogous passage on the true measure in which
it may be said that God is at once comprehensible and incomprehensible,
1st Series, vol. iv., lecture 12, p. 12: "We say in the first place that
God is not absolutely incomprehensible, for this manifest reason, that,
being the cause of this universe, he passes into it, and is reflected in
it, as the cause in the effect; therefore we recognize him. 'The heavens
declare his glory.' and 'the invisible things of him from the creation
of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are
made;' his power, in the thousands of worlds sown in the boundless
regions of space; his intelligence in their harmonious laws; finally,
that which there is in him most august, in the sentiments of virtue, of
holiness, and of love, which the heart of man contains. It must be that
God is not incomprehensible to us, for all nations have petitioned him,
since the first day of the intellectual life of humanity. God, then, as
the cause of the universe, reveals himself to us; but God is not only
the cause of the universe, he is also the perfect and infinite cause,
possessing in himself, not a relative perfection, which is only a degree
of imperfection, but an absolute perfection, an infinity which is not
only the finite multiplied by itself in those proportions which the
human mind is able always to enumerate, but a true infinity, that is,
the absolute negation of all limits, in all the powers of his being.
Moreover, it is not true that an indefinite effect adequately expresses
an infinite cause; hence it is not true that we are able absolutely to
comprehend God by the world and by man, for all of God is not in them.
In order absolutely to comprehend the infinite, it is necessary to have
an infinite power of comprehension, and that is not granted to us. God,
in manifesting himself, retains something in himself which nothing
finite can absolutely manifest; consequently, it is not permitted us to
comprehend absolutely. There remains, then, in God, beyond the universe
and man, something unknown, impenetrable, incomprehensible. Hence in the
immeasurable spaces of the universe, and beneath all the profundities of
the human soul, God escapes us in that inexhaustible infinitude, whence
he is able to draw without limit new worlds, new beings, new
manifestations. God is to us, therefore, incomprehensible; but even of
this incomprehensibility we have a clear and precise idea; for we have
the most precise idea of infinity. And this idea is not in us a
metaphysical refinement, it is a simple and primitive conception which
enlightens us from our entrance into this world, both luminous and
obscure, explaining everything, and being explained by nothing, because
it carries us at first, to the summit and the limit of all explanation.
There is something inexplicable for thought,--behold then whither
thought tends; there is infinite being,--behold then the necessary
principle of all relative and finite beings. Reason explains not the
inexplicable, it conceives it. It is not able to comprehend infinity in
an absolute manner, but it comprehends it in some degree in its
indefinite manifestations, which reveal it, and which veil it; and,
further, as it has been said, it comprehend it so far as
incomprehensible. It is, therefore, an equal error to call God
absolutely comprehensible, and absolutely incomprehensible. He is both
invisible and present, revealed and withdrawn in himself, in the world
and out of the world, so familiar and intimate with his creatures, that
we see him by opening our eyes, that we feel him in feeling our hearts
beat, and at the same time inaccessible in his impenetrable majesty,
mingled with every thing, and separated from every thing, manifesting
himself in universal life, and causing scarcely an ephemeral shadow of
his eternal essence to appear there, communicating himself without
cessation, and remaining incommunicable, at once the living God, and the
God concealed, '_Deus vivus et Deus absconditus_.'"


Page 188: "What a destiny was that of Eustache Lesueur!"

It is perceived that we have followed, as regards his death, the
tradition, or rather the prejudices current at the present day, and
which have misled the best judges before us. But there have appeared in
a recent and interesting publication, called _Archives de l'Art
français_, vol. iii., certain incontrovertible documents, never before
published, on the life and works of the painter of St. Bruno, which
compel us to withdraw certain assertions agreeable to general opinion,
but contrary to truth. The notice of Lesueur's death, extracted for the
first time from the _Register of Deaths of the parish church of
Saint-Louis in the isle of Notre-Dame_, preserved amongst the archives
of the Hotel de Ville at Paris, clearly prove that he did not die at the
Chartreux, but in the isle of Notre-Dame, where he dwelt, in the parish
of St. Louis, and that he was buried in the church of Saint-Etienne du
Mont, the resting-place of Pascal and Racine. It appears also that
Lesueur died before his wife, Geneviève Goussé, since the _Register of
Births_ of the parish of Saint-Louis, contains under the date 18th
February, 1655, a notice of the baptism of a fourth child of Lesueur.
Now, Geneviève Goussé must have deceased almost immediately after her
confinement, supposing her to have died before her husband's decease,
which occurred on the 1st of the following May. If this were the case,
we should have found a notice of her death in the _Register of Deaths_
for the year 1655, as we do that of her husband. Such a notice, however,
which could alone disprove the probability, and authenticate the vulgar
opinion, is nowhere to be found amongst the archives of the Hotel de
Ville, at least the author of the _Nouvelles Recherches_ has nowhere
been able to meet with it.

In the other particulars our rapid sketch of Lesueur's history remains
untouched. He never was in Italy; and according to the account of
Guillet de Saint-Georges, which has so long remained in manuscript, he
never desired to go there. He was poor, discreet, and pious, tenderly
loved his wife, and lived in the closest union with his three brothers
and brother-in-law, who were all pupils and fellow-laborers of his. It
appears to be a refinement of criticism which denies the current belief
of an acquaintance between Lesueur and Poussin. If no document
authenticates it, at all events it is not contradicted by any, and
appears to us to be highly probable.

Every one admits that Lesueur studied and admired Poussin. It would
certainly be strange if he did not seek his acquaintance, which he could
have obtained without difficulty, since Poussin was staying at Paris
from 1640 to 1642. It would be difficult for them not to have met. After
Vouet's death in 1641, Lesueur acquired more and more a peculiar style;
and in 1642, at the age of twenty-five, entirely unshackled, and with a
taste ripe for the antique and Raphael, he must frequently have been at
the Louvre, where Poussin resided. Thus it is natural to suppose that
they frequently saw each other and became acquainted, and with their
sympathies of character and talent, acquaintance must have resulted in
esteem and love. If Poussin's letters do not mention Lesueur, we would
remark that neither do they mention Champagne, whose connection with
Poussin is not disputed. The argument built on the silence of Guillet de
Saint-Georges' account is far from convincing; inasmuch as being
intended to be read before a Sitting of the Academy, it could only
contain a notice of the great artist's career, without those
biographical details in which his friendships would be mentioned.
Lastly, it is impossible to deny Poussin's influence upon Lesueur, which
it seems to us at least probable was as much due to his counsels as to
his example.

Page 190: "But the marvel of the picture is the figure of St. Paul."

We have recently seen, at Hampton Court, the seven cartoons of Raphael,
which should not be looked at, still less criticised, but on bended
knee. Behold Raphael arrived at the summit of his art, and in the last
years of life! And these were but drawings for tapestry! These drawings
alone would reward the journey to England, even were the figures from
the friezes of the Parthenon not at the _British Museum_. One never
tires of contemplating these grand performances even in the obscurity
of that ill-lighted room. Nothing could be more noble, more magnificent,
more imposing, more majestic. What draperies, what attitudes, what
forms! Notwithstanding the absence of color, the effect is immense; the
mind is struck, at once charmed and transported; but the soul, we can
speak for ourselves, remains well-nigh insensible. We request any one to
compare carefully the sixth cartoon, clearly one of the finest,
representing the Preaching of St. Paul at Ephesus, with the painting we
have described of Lesueur's. One, immediately and at the first sight,
transports you into the regions of the ideal; the other is less striking
at first, but stay, consider it well, study it in detail, then take in
the whole: by degrees you are overcome by an ever-increasing emotion.
Above all, examine in both the principal character, St. Paul. Here, you
behold the fine long folds of a superb robe which at once envelops and
sets off his height, whilst the figure is in shade, and the little you
see of it has nothing striking. There he confronts you, inspired,
terrible, majestic. Now say which side lays claim to moral effect.

Page 193: "The great works of Lesueur, Poussin, and so many others
scattered over Europe."

Of all the paintings of Lesueur which are in England, that which we
regret most not having seen is _Alexander and his Physician_, painted
for M. de Nouveau, director-general of the _Postes_, which passed from
the Hotel Nouveau to the Place Royale in the Orleans Gallery, from
thence into England, where it was bought by Lady Lucas at the great
London sale in 1800. The sale catalogue, with the prices and names of
the purchasers, will be found at the end of vol. i. of M. Waagen's
excellent work, _Oeuvres d'Art et Artistes en Angleterre_, 2 vols.,
Berlin, 1837 and 1838.

We were both consoled and agreeably surprised on our return, to meet, in
the valuable gallery of M. le Comte d'Houdetot, an ancient peer of
France, and free member of the Academy of Fine Arts, with another
Alexander and his physician Philip, in which the hand of Lesueur cannot
be mistaken. The composition of the entire piece is perfect. The drawing
is exquisite. The amplitude and nobleness of the draperies recall those
of Raphael. The form of Alexander fine and languid; the person of Philip
the physician grave and imposing. The coloring, though not powerful, is
finely blended in tone. Now, where is the true original, is it with M.
Houdetot or in England? The painting sold in London in 1800 certainly
came from the Orleans' gallery, which would seem most likely to have
possessed the original. On the other hand, it is impossible M.
Houdetot's picture is a copy. They must, therefore, both be equally the
work of Lesueur, who has in this instance treated the same subject twice
over, as he has likewise done the Preaching of St. Paul; of which there
is another, smaller than that at the Louvre, but equally admirable, at
the Place Royale, belonging to M. Girou de Buzariengues, corresponding
member of the Academy of Sciences.[284]

We borrow M. Waagen's description of the works of Lesueur, found by that
eminent critic in the English collections: _The Queen of Sheba before
Solomon_, the property of the Duke of Devonshire, vol. i., p. 245.
_Christ at the foot of the Cross supported by his Family_, belonging to
the Earl of Shrewsbury, vol. ii., p. 463, "the sentiment deep and
truthful," remarks M. Waagen. _The Magdalen pouring the ointment on the
feet of Jesus_, the property of Lord Exeter, vol. ii., p. 485, "a
picture full of the purest sentiment;" lastly, in the possession of M.
Miles, a _Death of Germanicus_, "a rich and noble composition,
completely in Poussin's style," remarks M. Waagen, vol. ii., p. 356. Let
us add that this last work is not met with in any catalogue, ancient or
modern. We ask ourselves whether this may not be a copy of the
Germanicus of Poussin attributed to Lesueur.

The author of _Musées d'Allemagne et du Russie_ (Paris, 1844) mentions
at Berlin a _Saint Bruno adoring the Cross in his Cell, opening upon a
landscape_, and pretends that this picture is as pathetic as the best
Saint Brunos in the Museum at Paris. It is probably a sketch, like the
one we have, or one of the wanting panels; for as for the pictures
themselves, there were never more than twenty-two at the Chartreux, and
these are at the Louvre. Perhaps, however, it may be the picture which
Lesueur made for M. Bernard de Rozé, see Florent Lecomte, vol. iii., p.
98, which represented a Carthusian in a cell. At St. Petersburg, the
catalogue of the Hermitage mentions seven pictures of Lesueur, one of
which, _The infant Moses exposed on the Nile_, is admitted by the author
cited to be authentic. Can this be one of two _Moses_ which were painted
by Lesueur for M. de Nouveau, as we learn from Guillet de Saint-Georges?
Unless M. Viardot is deceived, and mistakes a copy for an original, we
must regret that a real Lesueur should Lave been suffered to stray to
St. Petersburg, with many of Poussin's most beautiful Claudes (see p.
474), Mignards, Sebastian Bourdons, Gaspars, Stellas, and Valentins.

Some years ago, at the sale of Cardinal Fesch's gallery, we might have
acquired one of Lesueur's finest pieces, executed for the church of
Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois, which had got, by some chance, into the
possession of Chancellor Pontchartrain, afterwards into that of the
Emperor's uncle. This celebrated picture, _Christ with Martha and Mary_,
formed at Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois, a pendent to the _Martyrdom of St.
Lawrence_. Will it be believed that the French Government lost the
opportunity, and permitted this little _chef-d'oeuvre_ to pass into
the hands of the King of Bavaria? A good copy at Marseilles was thought,
doubtless, sufficient, and the original was left to find its way to the
gallery at Munich, and meet again the _St. Louis on his knees at Mass_,
which the catalogue of that gallery attributes to Lesueur, on what
ground we are not aware. In conclusion, we may mention that there is in
the Museum at Brussels, a charming little Lesueur, _The Saviour giving
his Blessing_, and in the Museums of Grenoble and Montpelier several
fragments of the _History of Tobias_, painted for M. de Fieubet.

Page 193: "Those master-pieces of art that honor the nation depart
without authorization from the national territory! There has not been
found a government which has undertaken at least to repurchase those
that we have lost, to get back again the great works of Poussin,
Lesueur, and so many others, scattered in Europe, instead of squandering
millions to acquire the baboons of Holland, as Louis XIV. said, or
Spanish canvases, in truth of an admirable color, but without nobleness
and moral expression."

Shall we give a recent instance of the small value we appear to set on
Poussin? We blush to think that in 1848 we should have permitted the
noble collection of M. de Montcalm to pass into England. One picture
escaped: it was put up to sale in Paris on the 5th of March, 1850. It
was a charming Poussin, undoubtedly authentic, from the Orleans gallery,
and described at length in the catalogue of Dubois de Saint-Gelais. It
represented the _Birth of Bacchus_, and by its variety of scenes and
multitude of ideas, showed it belonged to Poussin's best period. We must
do Normandy, rather the city of Rouen, the justice to say, that it made
an effort to acquire it, but it was unsupported by Government; and this
composition, wholly French, was sold at Paris for the sum of 17,000
francs, to a foreigner, Mr. Hope.

Miserable contrast! while five or six hundred thousand francs have been
given for a _Virgin_ by Murillo, which is now turning the heads of all
who behold it. I confess that mine has entirely resisted. I admire the
freshness, the sweetness, the harmony of color; but every other superior
quality which one looks to find in such a subject is wanting, or at
least escaped me. Ecstasy never transfigured that face, which is neither
noble nor great. The lovely infant before me does not seem sensible of
the profound mystery accomplished in her. What, then, can there be in
this vaunted Virgin which so catches the multitude? She is supported by
beautiful angels, in a fine dress, of a charming color, the effect of
all which is doubtless highly pleasant.

Page 195: "We endeavor to console ourselves for having lost the _Seven
Sacraments_, and for not having known how to keep from England and
Germany so many productions of Poussin, now buried in foreign
collections," etc.

After having expressed our regret that we were unacquainted with the
_Seven Sacraments_ save from the engravings of Pesne, we made a journey
to London, to see with our own eyes, and judge for ourselves these
famous pictures, with many others of our great countryman, now fallen
into the possession of England, through our culpable indifference, and
which have been brought under our notice by M Waagen.

In the few days we were able to dedicate to this little journey, we had
to examine four galleries: the National Gallery, answering to our
Museum, those of Lord Ellesmere and the Marquis of Westminster, and, at
some miles from London, the collection at Dulwich College, celebrated in
England, though but little known on the continent.

We likewise visited another collection, resulting from an institution
which might easily be introduced into France, to the decided advantage
of art and taste. A society has been formed in England, called the
British Institution for promoting the Fine Arts in the United Kingdom.
Every year it has, in London, an exhibition of ancient paintings, to
which individual galleries send their choice pieces, so that in a
certain number of years all the most remarkable pictures in England pass
under the public eye. But for this exhibition, what riches would remain
buried in the mansions of the aristocracy or unknown cabinets of
provincial amateurs! The society, having at its head the greatest names
of England, enjoys a certain authority, and all ranks respond eagerly to
its appeal.

We ourselves saw the list of persons who this year contributed to the
exhibition; there were her Majesty the Queen, the Dukes of Bedford,
Devonshire, Newcastle, Northumberland, Sutherland, the Earls of Derby
and Suffolk, and numerous other great men, besides bankers, merchants,
_savants_, and artists. The exhibition is public, but not free, as you
must pay both for admission and the printed catalogue. The money thus
acquired is appropriated to defray the expenses of the exhibition;
whatever remains is employed in the purchase of pictures, which are then
presented to the National Gallery.

At this year's exhibition we saw three of Claude Lorrain's, which well
sustained the name of that master. _Apollo watching the herds of
Admetus_; a _Sea-port_, both belonging to the Earl of Leicester, and
_Psyche and Amor_, the property of Mr. Perkins; a pretended Lesueur, the
_Death of the Virgin_, from the Earl of Suffolk; seven Sebastian
Bourdons, the _Seven Works of Mercy_,[285] lent by the Earl of
Yarborough; a landscape by Gaspar Poussin, but not one _morceau_ of his
illustrious brother-in-law's.

We were more fortunate in the National Gallery.

There, to begin, what admirable Claudes! We counted as many as ten, some
of them of the highest value. We will confine ourselves to the
recapitulation of three, the Embarkation of St. Ursula, a large
landscape, and the Embarkation of the Queen of Sheba.

1st. _The Embarkation of St. Ursula_, which was painted for the
Barberini, and adorned their palace at Rome until the year 1760, when an
English amateur purchased it from the Princess Barberini, with other
works of the first class. This picture is 3 feet 8 inches high, 4 feet
11 inches wide.

2d. The large landscape is 4 feet 11 inches high, 6 feet 7 inches wide.
Rebecca is seen, with her relatives and servants, waiting the arrival of
Isaac, who comes from afar to celebrate their marriage.

3d. _The Embarkation of the Queen of Sheba_, going to visit Solomon,
formed a pendent to the preceding figure, which it resembles in its
dimensions. It is both a sea and landscape drawing, M. Waagen declares
it to be the most beautiful _morceau_ of the kind he is acquainted with,
and asserts that Lorrain has here attained perfection, vol. i., p. 211.
This masterpiece was executed by Claude for his protector, the Duke de
Bouillon. It is signed "Claude GE. I. V., faict pour son Altesse le Duc
de Bouillon, anno 1648." Doubtless the great Duke de Bouillon, eldest
brother of Turenne. This French work, destined, too, for France, she has
now forever lost, as well as the famous Book of Truth, _Libro di
Verità_, in which Claude collected the drawings of all his paintings,
drawings which may be themselves regarded as finished pictures. This
invaluable treasure was, like the _Embarkation of the Queen of Sheba_,
for a long time in the hands of a French broker, who would willingly
have relinquished it to the Government, but failing to find purchasers
in Paris in the last century, ultimately sold it for a mere nothing into
Holland, whence it has passed into England.[286] The author of the
_Musées d'Allemagne et de Russie_, mentions that in the gallery of the
Hermitage at St. Petersburg, amongst a large number of Claudes, whose
authenticity he appears to admit, there are four _morceaux_, which he
does not hesitate to declare equal to the most celebrated
_chefs-d'oeuvre_ of that master, in Paris or London, called the
_Morning_, the _Noon_, the _Evening_, and the _Night_. They are from
Malmaison. Thus the sale of the gallery of an empress has in our own
time enriched Russia, as, twenty-five years before, the sale of the
Orleans gallery enriched England.

In the National Gallery, along with the serene and quiet landscapes of
Lorrain, are five of Caspar's, depicting nature under an opposite
aspect--rugged and wild localities, and tempests. One of the most
remarkable represents Eneas and Dido seeking shelter in a grotto from
the violence of a storm. The figures are from the pencil of Albano, and
for a length of time remained in the palace Falconieri. Two other
landscapes are from the palace Corsini, and two from the palace Colonna.

But to return to our real subject, which is Poussin. There are eight
paintings by his hand in the National Gallery, all worthy of mention. M.
Waagen has merely spoken of them in general terms, but we shall proceed
to give a description in detail.

Of these eight paintings, only one, representing the plague of Ashdod,
is taken from sacred history. This is described in the printed catalogue
as No. 105. The Israelites having been vanquished by the Philistines,
the ark was taken by the victors and placed in the temple of Dagon at
Ashdod. The idol falls before the ark, and the Philistines are smitten
with the pestilence. This canvas is 4 feet 3 inches high, and 6 feet 8
inches, wide. A sketch or copy of the _Plague of the Philistines_ is in
the Museum of the Louvre, and has been engraved by Picard. Poussin was,
in fact, fond of repeating a subject; there are two sets of the _Seven
Sacraments_, two _Arcadias_,[287] two or three _Moses striking the
Rock_, &c. The science of painting is here employed to portray the scene
in all its terrors, and display every horror of the pestilence, and it
would seem that Poussin had here endeavored to contend with Michael
Angelo, even at the expense of beauty. It is said the commission for
this work was given by Cardinal Barberini. It comes from the palace of
Colonna. The subjects of the remaining seven pictures in the National
Gallery are mythological, and may be nearly all referred to the early
epoch of Poussin's career, when he paid tribute to the genius of the
16th century, and yielded to the influence of Marini.

No. 39. The _Education of Bacchus_, a subject chosen by Poussin more
than once. On a small canvas 2 feet 3 inches high, and 3 feet 1 inch

No. 40. Another small picture 1 foot 6 inches high, and 3 feet 4 inches
broad: _Phocion washing his Feet at a Public Fountain_, a touching
emblem of the purity and simplicity of his life. To heighten this rustic
scene, and impart its meaning, the painter shows us the trophies of the
noble warrior hung on the trunk of a tree at a little distance. The
whole composition is striking and full of animation. We believe that it
has never been engraved. It forms a happy addition to the two other
compositions consecrated by Poussin to Phocion, and which have been so
admirably engraved by Baudet, _Phocion carried out of the City of
Athens_, and the _Tomb of Phocion_.

No. 42. Here is one of the three bacchanals painted by Poussin for the
Duke de Montmorency. The two others are said to be in the collection of
Lord Ashburnham. This bacchanal is 4 feet 8 inches high, and 3 feet 1
inch wide. In a warm landscape Bacchus is sleeping surrounded by nymphs,
satyrs, and centaurs, whilst Silenus appears under an arbor attended by
sylvan figures.

No. 62. Another bacchanal, which may be considered one of Poussin's
masterpieces. According to M. Waagen, it belonged to the Colonna
collection, but the catalogue, published _by authority_, states that it
was originally the property of the Comte de Vaudreueili, that it
afterwards came into the hands of M. de Calonne, whence it passed into
England, and ultimately found its way into the hands of Mr. Hamlet, from
whom it was purchased by Parliament, and placed in the National Gallery.
It is 3 feet 8 inches high, and 4 feet 8 inches wide. Its subject is a
dance of fauns and bacchantes, which is interrupted by a satyr, who
attempts to take liberties with a nymph. Besides the main subject, there
are numerous spirited and graceful episodes, particularly two infants
endeavoring to catch in a cup the juice of a bunch of grapes supported
in air, and pressed by a bacchante of slim and fine form. The
composition is full of fire, energy, and spirit. There is not a single
group, not a figure, which will not repay an attentive study. M. Waagen
does not hesitate to pronounce it one of Poussin's finest. He admires
the truth and variety of heads, the freshness of color, and the
transparent tone (_die Färbung von seltenster Frische, Helle und
Klarheit in allen Theilen_). It has been engraved by Huart, and
accurately copied by Landon, under the title of _Danse de Fauns et de

No. 65. _Cephalus and Aurora._ Aurora, captivated by the beauty of
Cephalus, endeavors to separate him from his wife Procris. Being
unsuccessful, in a fit of jealousy she gives to Cephalus the dart which
causes the death of his adored spouse. 3 feet 2 inches high, 4 feet 2
inches wide.

No. 83. A large painting, 5 feet 6 inches high, and 8 feet wide,
representing _Phineas and his Companions changed into Stones by looking
on the Gorgon_. Perseus, having rescued Andromeda from the sea monster,
obtains her hand from her father Cepheus, who celebrates their nuptials
with a magnificent feast. Phineas, to whom Andromeda had been betrothed,
rushes in upon the festivity at the head of a troop of armed men. A
combat ensues, in which Perseus, being nearly overcome, opposes to his
enemies the head of Medusa, by which they are instantly changed to
stone. This composition is full of vigor, with brilliant coloring,
although somewhat crude. It is nowhere mentioned, and we are not aware
of its having been engraved.

No. 91. A charming little drawing, 2 feet 2 inches high, 1 foot 8 inches
wide: _A sleeping Nymph, surprised by Lore and Satyrs_, engraved by
Daullé, also in Landon's work.

Passing from the National Gallery to that of Bridgewater, we come upon
another phase of Poussin's genius, and encounter not the disciple of
Mariai but the disciple of the gospel, the graces of mythology giving
way to the austerity and sublimity of Christianity. Such is the account
of what we came to see; we looked for much, and found more than we

The Bridgewater Gallery is so named after its founder, the Duke of
Bridgewater, by whom it was formed about the middle of the eighteenth
century. He bequeathed it to his brother, the Marquis of Stafford, on
the condition of his leaving it to his second son, Lord Francis Egerton,
now Lord Ellesmere. The best part of this collection was engraved during
the life of the Marquis of Stafford, by Ottley, under the title of the
Stafford Gallery, in 4 vols. folio.

It occupies the first place in England amongst private collections, on
account of the number of masterpieces of the Italian, and Dutch, and
French schools. A large number of paintings were added to it from the
Orleans Gallery, and we could not repress a feeling of regret to meet at
Cleveland Square with so many masterpieces formerly belonging to France,
and which have been engraved in the two celebrated works: 1. _La Galerie
du duc d'Orléans au Palais-Royal_, 2 volumes in folio; 2. _Recueil
d'estampes d'après les plus beaux tableaux et dessins qui sont en France
dans le cabinet du roi et celui de Monseigneur le duc d'Orléans_, 1729,
2 volumes in folio; a most valuable collection known also under the name
of the _Cabinet of Crozat_. This admirable collection is deposited in a
building worthy of it, in a veritable palace, and consists of nearly 300
paintings. The French school is here well represented. The _Musical
Party_, from the Orleans Gallery, and engraved in the _Galerie du
Palais-Royal_, three Bourguignons, four Gaspars, four fine Claudes,
described by M. Waagen, vol. i., p. 331, the two former described in the
catalogue as Nos. 11 and 41 were painted in 1664 for M. de Bourlemont, a
gentleman of Lorraine; the former, _Demosthenes by the Sea-side_, offers
a fine contrast between majestic ruins and nature eternally young and
fresh; the second, _Moses at the Burning Bush_, a third, No. 103, of the
year 1657, was likewise painted for a Frenchman, M. de Lagarde, and
represents the _Metamorphosis of Apuleius into a Shepherd_; lastly,
there is a fourth, No. 97, the freshest idyll that ever was, a _View of
the Cascatelles of Tivoli_.

The memory of these charming compositions, however, soon fades before
the view of the eight grand pictures of Poussin, marked in the catalogue
Nos. 62-69, the _Seven Sacraments_, and _Moses striking the Rock with
his Rod_.

It would be difficult to describe the religious sensations which took
possession of us whilst contemplating the _Seven Sacraments_. Whatever
M. Waagen may please to assert, there is certainly nothing theatrical
about them. The beauty of ancient statuary is here animated and
enlivened by the spirit of Christianity, and the genius of the painter.
The moral expression is of the most exalted character, and is left to be
noticed less in the details than in the general composition. In fact, it
is in composition that Poussin excels, and, in this respect, we do not
think he has any superior, not even of the Florentine and Roman school.
As each _Sacrament_ is a vast scene in which the smallest details go to
enhance the effect of the whole, so the _Seven Sacraments_ form a
harmonious entirety, a single work, representing the development of the
Christian life by means of its most august ceremonies, in the same way
as the twenty-two _St. Brunos_ of Lesueur express the whole monastic
life, the intention of the variety being to give a truer conception of
its unity. Can any one, in sincerity, say as much as this for the
_Stanze_ of the Vatican? Have they a common sentiment? Is the sentiment
profound, and, indeed, Christian? No doubt Raphael elevates the soul,
whatever is beautiful cannot fail to do that; but he touches only the
surface, _circum præcordia ludit_; he penetrates not deep; moves not the
inner fibres of our being: for why? he himself was not so moved. He
snatches us from earth, and transports us into the serene atmosphere of
eternal beauty; but the mournful side of life, the sublime emotions of
the heart, magnanimity, heroism, in a word, moral grandeur, this he
does not express; and why was this? because he did not possess it in
himself, because it was not to be met with around him in the Italy of
the 16th century, in a society semi-pagan, superstitious, and impious,
given up to every vice and disorder, which Luther could not even catch a
glimpse of without raging with horror, and meditating a revolution. From
this corrupt basis, thinly hidden by a fictitious politeness, two great
figures, Michael Angelo and Vittoria Colonna, show themselves. But the
noble widow of the Marquis of Pescaria was not of the company of the
Fornarina; and what common ground could the chaste lover of the second
Beatrice, the Dante of painting and of sculpture, the intrepid engineer
who defended Florence, the melancholy author of _the Last Judgment_ and
of _Lorenzo di Medici_, have with such men as Perugino boldly professing
atheism, at the same time that he painted, at the highest price
possible, the most delicate Madonnas; and his worthy friend Aretino,
atheist, and moreover hypocrite, writing with the same hand his infamous
sonnets and the life of the Holy Virgin; and Giulio Romano, who lent his
pencil to the wildest debaucheries, and Marc' Antonio, who engraved
them? Such is the world in which Raphael lived, and which early taught
him to worship material beauty, the purest taste in design, if not the
strongest, fine drawing, sweet contours, of light, of color, but which
always hides from him the highest beauty, that is, moral beauty. Poussin
belongs to a very different world. Thanks to God, he had learned to know
in France others besides artists without faith or morals, elegant
amateurs, rich prelates, and compliant beauties. He had seen with his
eyes heroes, saints, and statesmen. He must have met, at the court of
Louis XIII., between 1640 and 1642, the young Condé and the voting
Turenne, St. Vincent de Paul, Mademoiselle de Vigean, and Mademoiselle
de Lafayette; had shaken hands with Richelieu, with Lesueur, with
Champagne, and no doubt also with Corneille. Like the last, he is grave
and masculine; he has the sentiment of the great, and strives to reach
it. If, above every thing, he is an artist, if his long career is an
assiduous and indefatigable study of beauty, it is pre-eminently moral
beauty that strikes him: and when he represents historic or Christian
scenes, one feels he is there, like the author of the Cid, of Cinna, and
of Polyeuete, in his natural element. He shows, assuredly, much spirit
and grace in his mythologies, and like Corneille in several of his
elegies and in the Declaration of Love to Psyche: but also like him, it
is in the thoughtful and noble style that Poussin excels: it is on the
moral ground that he has a place exalted and apart in the history of

It is not our intention to describe the _Seven Sacraments_, which has
been done by others more competent to the task than ourselves. We will
only inquire whether Bossuet himself, in speaking of the sacrament of
the _Ordination_, could have employed more gravity and majesty than
Poussin has done in the noble painting, so well preserved, in the
gallery of Lord Ellesmere. It is worthy of remark, in this as in the
other paintings of Poussin's best period, how admirably the landscape
accords with the historic portion. Whilst the foreground is occupied
with the great scene in which Christ transmits his power to St. Peter
before the assembled apostles,[288] in the distance, and above the
heights, are descried edifices rising and in decay. Doubtless, the
_Extreme Unction_ is the most pathetic; affects and attracts us most by
its various qualities, particularly by a certain austere grace shed
around the images of death;[289] but, unhappily, this striking
composition has almost totally disappeared under the black tint, which
has little by little gained on the other colors, and obscured the whole
painting, so that we are well-nigh reduced to the engraving of Pesne,
and the beautiful drawing preserved in the museum of the Louvre.[290]

Most unhappily a technical error, into which even the most
inconsiderable painter would not now fall, has deprived posterity of one
half of Poussin's labors. He was in the habit of covering his canvas
with a preparation of red, which has been changed by the effect of time
into black, and thus absorbed the other colors, destroying the effect of
the etherial perspective. As every one knows, this does not occur with a
white preparation, which, instead of destroying the colors, preserves
them for a length of time in their original state. This last process
Poussin appears to have adopted in the _Moses striking the Rock with his
Staff_, incomparably the finest of all the _Strikings of the Rock_ which
proceeded from his pencil. This masterpiece is well known, from the
engraving by Baudet, and has passed, with the _Seven Sacraments_, from
the Orleans gallery into the collection at Bridgewater. What unity is in
this vast composition, and yet what variety in the action, the pose, the
features of the figures! It consists of twenty different pictures, and
yet is but one; and not even one of the episodes could be taken away
without considerable injury to the _ensemble_ of the piece. At the same
time, what fine coloring! The impastation is both solid and light, and
the colors are combined in the happiest manner. No doubt they might
possess greater brilliancy; but the severity of the subject agrees well
with a moderate tone. It is important to remember this. In the first
place, every subject demands its proper color: in the second, grave
subjects require a certain amount of coloring, which, however, must not
be exceeded. Although the highest art does not consist in coloring, it
would nevertheless be folly to regard it as of small importance: for, in
that case, drawing would be every thing, and color might be altogether
dispensed with. In attempting too far to please the eye, the risk is
incurred of not going beyond and penetrating to the soul. On the other
hand, want of color, or what is perhaps still worse, a disagreeable,
crude, and improper coloring, while it offends the eye, likewise impairs
the moral effect, and deprives even beauty of its charm. Color is to
painting what harmony is to poetry and prose. There is equal defect
whether in the case of too much or too little harmony, while one same
harmony continued must be looked upon as a serious fault. Is Corneille
happily inspired? His harmony, like his words, are true, beautiful,
admirable in their variety. The tones differ with his different
characters, but are always consistent with the conditions of harmony
imposed by poesy. Is he negligent? his style then becomes rude,
unpolished, at times intolerable. The harmony of Racine is slightly
monotonous, his men talk like women, and his lyre was but one tone, that
of a natural and refined elegance. There is but one man amongst us who
speaks in every tone and in all languages, who has colors and accents
for every subject, _naïve_ and sublime, vividly correct yet unaffectedly
simple. Sweet as Racine in his lament of Madame, masculine and vigorous
as Corneille or Tacitus when he comes to describe Retz or Cromwell,
clear as the battle trumpet when his strain is Roeroy or Condé,
suggestive of the equal and varied flow of a mighty river in the
majestic harmony of his Discourse on Universal History, a History which,
in the grandeur and extent of its composition, in its vanquished
difficulties, its depth of art, where art even ceases to appear as such,
in its perfect unity, and, at the same time, almost infinite variety of
tone and style, is perhaps the most finished work which has ever come
from the hand of man.

To return to Poussin. At Hampton Court, where, by the side of the seven
cartoons of Raphael, the nine magnificent Montegnas representing the
triumph of Cæsar, and the fine portraits of Albert Durer and Holbein,
French art makes so small a figure, there is a Poussin[291] of
particularly fine color, _Satyrs finding a Nymph_. The transparent and
lustrous body of the nymph forms the entire picture. It is a study of
design and color, evidently of the period when Poussin, to perfect
himself in every branch of his art, made copies from Titian.

Time fails us to give the least idea of the rich gallery of the Marquess
of Westminster, in Grosvenor-street. We refer for this to what M. Waagen
has said, vol. ii., p. 113-130. The Flemish and Dutch schools
preponderate in this gallery. One sees there in all their glory the
three great masters of that school, Rubens, Van Dyck, and Rembrandt,
accompanied by a numerous suite of inferior masters, at present much in
vogue, Hobbéma, Cuyp, Both, Potter, and others, who, to our idea, fade
completely before some half-dozen by Claude of all sizes, of every
variety of subject, and nearly all of the best time of the great
landscape-painter, between 1651 and 1661. Of these paintings, the
greatest and most important is perhaps the _Sermon on the Mount_.
Poussin appears worthily by the side of Lorrain in the gallery at
Grosvenor-street. M. Waagen admires particularly _Calisto changed into a
Bear, and placed by Jupiter among the Constellations_, and still more a
_Virgin with the infant Jesus surrounded by Angels_. He extols in this
_morceau_ the surpassing clearness of coloring, the noble and melancholy
sentiment of nature, together with a warm and powerful tone. M. Waagen
places this painting amongst the masterpieces of the French painter
(_gehört zu dem vortrefflichsten was ich von ihm kenne_). Whilst fully
concurring in this judgment, we beg leave to point out in the same
gallery two other canvases of Poussin, two delicious pieces from the
easel, first a touching episode in _Moses striking the Rock_, in the
gallery of Lord Ellesmere, of a mother who, heedless of herself, hastens
to give her children drink, whilst their father bends in thanksgiving to
God; the other, _Children at play_. Never did a more delightful scene
come from the pencil of Albano. Two children look, laughing, at each
other; another to the right holds a butterfly on his finger; a fourth
endeavors to catch a butterfly which is flying from him; a fifth,
stooping, takes fruit from a basket.

But we must quit the London galleries to betake ourselves to that which
forms the ornament of the college situated in the charming village of

Stanislas, king of Poland, charged a London amateur, M. Noël Desenfans,
to form him a collection of pictures. The misfortunes of Stanislas, and
the dismemberment of Poland left on M. Desenfans' hands all he had
collected; these he made a present of to a friend of his, M. Bourgeois,
a painter, who still further enriched this fine collection, and
bequeathed it, at his death, to Dulwich College, where it now is in a
very commodious and well-lighted building. It consists of nearly 350
paintings. M. Waagen, who visited it, pronounces judgment with some
severity. The catalogue is ill-compiled, it is true, but in this it does
not differ from numerous other catalogues. Mediocrity is frequently
placed side by side with excellence, and copies given as originals; this
is the case with more than one gallery. This one, however, has to us the
merit of containing a considerable number of French paintings, to some
of which even M. Waagen cannot refuse his admiration.

We will, first of all, mention without describing them, a Lenain, two
Bourguignons, three portraits by Rigaud, or after Rigaud, a Louis XIV.,
a Boileau, and another personage unknown to us, two Lebruns, the
_Massacre of the Innocents_, and _Horatius Cocles defending the Bridge_,
in which M. Waagen discovers happy imitations of Poussin, three or four
Gaspars and seven Claude Lorrains, the beauty of most of which is a
sufficient guarantee of their authenticity; together with a very fine
_Fête champêtre_ by Watteau, and a _View near Rome_, by Joseph Vernet.
Of Poussin, the catalogue points out eighteen, of which the following is
a list:

No. 115. _The Education of Bacchus_; 142, _a Landscape_; 249, _a Holy
Family_; 253, _the Apparition of the Angels to Abraham_; 260, _a
Landscape_; 269, _the Destruction of Niobe_; 279, _a Landscape_; 291,
_the Adoration of the Magi_; 292, _a Landscape_; 295, _the Inspiration
of the Poet_; 300, _the Education of Jupiter_; 305, _the Triumph of
David_; 310, _the Flight into Egypt_; 315, _Renald and Armida_; 316,
_Venus and Mercury_; 325, _Jupiter and Antiope_; 336, _the Assumption of
the Virgin_; 352, _Children_.

Of these eighteen pictures, M. Waagen singles out five, which he thus

_The Assumption of the Virgin_, No. 336. In a landscape of powerful
poesy, the Virgin is carried off to heaven in clouds of gold: a small
picture, of which the sentiment is noble and pure, the coloring strong
and transparent (_in der Farbe kraftiges und klaares Bild_). _Children_,
No. 352. Replete with loveliness and charm. _The Triumph of David_, No.
305. A rich picture, but theatrical.

_Jupiter suckled by the goat Amalthea_, No. 300. A charming composition,
transparent tone. _A Landscape_, No. 260. A well-drawn landscape,
breathing a profound sentiment of nature; but which has become rather

We are unable to recognize in the _Triumph of David_ the theatrical
character which shocked M. Waagen. On the contrary, we perceive a bold
and almost wild expression, a great deal of passion finely subdued.

A triumph must always contain some formality; here, however, there is
the least possible, and that with which we are struck is its vigor and
truth to nature. The giant's head stuck on the pike has the grandest
effect: and we believe that the able German critic has, in this
instance, likewise yielded to the prejudices of his country, which, in
its passion for what it styles reality, fancies it perceives the
theatrical in whatever is noble. We admit that at the close of the
seventeenth century, under Louis XIV. and Lebrun, the noble was merged
in the theatrical and academic; but under Louis XIII. and the Regency,
in the time of Corneille and Poussin, the academic and theatrical style
was wholly unknown. We entreat the sagacious critic not to forget this
distinction between the divisions of the seventeenth century, nor to
confound the master with his disciples, who, although they were still
great, had slightly degenerated, and who were oppressed by the taste of
the age of Louis XIV.

But our gravest reproach against M. Waagen is, that he did not notice at
Dulwich numerous _morceaux_ of Poussin, which well merited his
attention; amongst others, the _Adoration of the Magi_, far superior,
for its coloring, to that in the Museum at Paris; and, above all, a
picture which seems to us a masterpiece in the difficult art of
conveying a philosophic idea under the living form of a myth and an

In this art, Poussin excelled: he is pre-eminently a philosophical
artist, a thinker assisted by all the resources of the science of
design. He has ever an idea which guides his hand, and which is his main
object. Let us not tire to reiterate this: it is moral beauty which he
everywhere seeks, both in nature and humanity. As we have stated in
relation to the sacrament of _Ordination_, the landscapes of Poussin are
almost always designed to set off and heighten human life, whilst Claude
is essentially a landscape painter, with whom both history and humanity
are made subservient to nature. Subjects derived from Christianity were
exactly suited to Poussin, inasmuch as they afforded the sublimest types
of that moral grandeur in which he delighted, although we do not see in
him the exquisite piety of Lesueur and Champagne; and if Christian
greatness speaks to his soul, it appears to do so with no authority
beyond that of Phocion, of Scipio, or of Germanicus. Sometimes neither
sacred nor profane history suffices him: he invents, he imagines, he has
recourse to moral and philosophic allegory. It is here, perhaps, that he
is most original, and that his imagination displays itself in its
greatest freedom and elevation. _Arcadia_ is a lesson of high philosophy
under the form of an idyll. _The Testament of Eudamidas_ portrays the
sublime confidence of friendship. _Time Rescuing Truth from the assaults
of Envy and Discord_, _the Ballet of Human Life_, are celebrated models
of this style. We have had the good fortune to meet at Dulwich with a
work of Poussin's almost unknown, and of whose existence we had not even
an idea, sparkling at the same time with the style we have been
describing, and with the most eminent qualities of the chief of the
French school.

This work, entirely new to us, is a picture of very small size, marked
No. 295, and described in the catalogue as _The Inspiration of the
Poet_, a delightful subject, and treated in the most delightful manner.
Fancy the freshest landscape, in the foreground a harmonious group of
three personages. The poet, on bended knee, carries to his lips the
sacred cup which Apollo, the god of poesy, has presented to him. Whilst
he quaffs, inspiration seizes him, his face is transfigured, and the
sacred intoxication becomes apparent in the motion of his hands and his
whole body. Beside Apollo, the Muse prepares to collect the songs of the
poet. Above this group, a genius, frolicking in air, weaves a chaplet,
whilst other genii scatter flowers. In the background, the clearest
horizon. Grace, spirit, depth--this enchanting composition unites the
whole. Added to this, the color is well-grounded and of great

It is very singular that neither Bellori nor Félibien, who both lived on
terms of intimacy with Poussin, and are still his best historians, say
not a word of this work. It is not referred to in the catalogues of
Florent Lecomte, of Gault de St. Germain, or of Castellan; nor does M.
Waagen himself, who, having been at Dulwich, must have seen it there,
make the least mention of it. We are, therefore, ignorant in what year,
on what occasion, and for whom this delicious little painting was
executed: but the hand of Poussin is seen throughout, in the drawing, in
the composition, in the expression. Nothing theatrical or vulgar: truth
combined with beauty. The whole scene conveys unmixed delight, and its
impression is at once serene and profound. In our idea, _The Inspiration
of the Poet_ may be ranked as almost equal with _The Arcadia_.

Notwithstanding this, _The Inspiration_ has never been engraved, at
least we have not met with it in any of the rich collections of
engravings from Poussin we have been enabled to consult, those of M. de
Baudicour, of M. Gatteaux, member of the Academy of Fine Arts, and
lastly, the cabinet of prints in the _Bibliothèque Nationale_. We hope
that these few words may suggest to some French engraver the idea of
undertaking the very easy pilgrimage to Dulwich, and making known to the
lovers of national art an ingenious and touching production of Poussin,
strayed and lost, as it, were, in a foreign collection.



[284] This is the sketch which Félibien so justly praises, part v., p.
37, of the 1st edition, in 4to.

[285] This great work has been long in England, as remarked by Mariette,
see the _Abecedario_, just published, article S. Bourdon, vol. i., p.
171. It appears to have been a favorite work of Bourdon, he having
himself engraved it, see de Piles, _Abrégé de la Vie des Peintres_, 2d
edition, p. 494, and the _Peintre graveur français_, of M. Robert
Dumesnil, vol. i., p. 131, etc. The copperplates of the _Seven Works of
Mercy_ are at the Louvre.

[286] The _Libro di Verità_ is now the property of the Duke of
Devonshire. M. Léon de Laborde has given a detailed account of it in the
_Archives de l'Art français_, tom. i., p. 435, et seq.

[287] The first composition of _Arcadia_, truly precious could it have
been placed in the Louvre beside the second and better production, is in
England, the property of the Duke of Devonshire.

[288] In the first set of the _Seven Sacraments_, executed for the
Chevalier del Pozzo, now in England, the property of the Duke of
Rutland, and with which we are acquainted only through engravings,
Christ is placed on the left hand; it is less masterly and imposing, and
the centre has a vacant appearance. In the second set, painted five or
six years after the former for M. de Chanteloup, Christ is placed in the
centre: this new disposition changes the entire effect of the piece.
Poussin never repeated himself in treating the same subject a second
time, but improved on it, aiming ever at perfection. And the memorable
answer which he once made to one who inquired of him by what means he
had attained to so great perfection, "I never neglected any thing,"
should be always present to the mind of every artist, painter, sculptor,
poet, or composer.

[289] Poussin writes to M. de Chanteloup, April 25, 1644 (Lettres de
Poussin, Paris, 1824), "I am working briskly at the _Extreme Unction_,
which is indeed a subject worthy of Apelles, who was very fond of
representing the dying." He adds, with a vivacity which seems to
indicate that he took a particular fancy to this painting, "I do not
intend to quit it whilst I feel thus well-disposed, until I have put it
in fair train for a sketch. It is to contain seventeen figures of men,
women, and children, young and old, one part of whom are drowned in
tears, whilst the others pray for the dying. I will not describe it to
you more in detail. In this, my clumsy pen is quite unfit, it requires a
gilded and well-set pencil. The principal figures are two feet high; the
painting will be about the size of your _Manne_, but of better
proportion." Félibien, a friend and confidant of Poussin, likewise
remarks (_Entretiens_, etc., part iv., p. 293), that the _Extreme
Unction_ was one of the paintings which pleased him most. We learn at
length, from Poussin's letters, that he finished it and sent it into
France in this same year, 1644. Fénoien informs us that in 1646 he
completed the _Confirmation_, in 1647 the _Baptism_, the _Penance_, the
_Ordination_ and the _Eucharist_, and that he sent the last sacrament,
that of _Marriage_, at the commencement of the year 1648. Bellori (_le
Vite de Pittori_, etc., Rome, 1672) gives a full and detailed
description of the _Extreme Unction_; and, as he lived with Poussin, it
seems credible that his explanations are for the most part those he had
himself received from the great artist.

[290] The drawing of the _Extreme Unction_ is at the Louvre; the
drawings of the five other sacraments are in the rich cabinet of M. de
la Salle, that of the seventh is the property of the well-known print
seller, M. Deter.

[291] There is here likewise a charming Francis II., wholly from the
hand of Clouet, and the portrait of Fénelon by Rigaud, which may be the
original or at all events is not inferior to the painting in the gallery
at Versailles.

       *       *       *       *       *


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    broad, and original thinker, but one of the most eloquent and
    attractive of writers. In this volume he goes over a large range
    of scientific questions, giving us the latest views in the most
    lucid and graphic language, so that the subtlest order of
    invisible changes stand out with all the vividness of
    stereoscopic perspective. Though a disciplined scientific
    thinker, Prof. Tyndall is also a poet, alive to all beauty, and
    kindles into a glow of enthusiasm at the harmonies and wonder of
    Nature which he sees on every side. To him science is no mere
    dry inventory of prosaic facts, but a disclosure of the Divine
    order of the world, and fitted to stir the highest feelings of
    our nature.

GABRIELLE ANDRÉ. An Historical Novel. By S. BARING-GOULD, author of
"Myths of the Middle Ages." 1 vol., 8vo. Paper covers. Price, 60 cents.

    Those who take an interest in comparing the effects of the
    present French Revolution on the Church with that of 1789 will
    find in this work a great deal of information illustrating the
    feeling in the State and Church of France at that period. The
    _Literary Churchman_ says: "The book is a remarkably able one,
    full of vigorous and often exceedingly beautiful writing and

YONGE, together with a few Gleanings of Recollection, gathered by
Several Friends. 1 vol. Thick 12mo, 431 pages. Price, $2.00.

    Miss Yonge has here produced a volume which will possess great
    interest in the eyes of Churchmen, who have for so many years
    enjoyed the privilege of reading the exquisite poetry of the
    "Christian Year" by Rev. John Keble. Miss Yonge gives her own
    experience of the uninterrupted intercourse of thirty years:
    then there are the "Recollections," by Francis M. Wilbraham: a
    few words of "Personal Description," by Rev. T. Simpson Evans;
    then follow the "Musings," one each of the poems illustrative of
    the "Christian Year and Lyra Innocentium."

2 vols., 12mo. Cloth. Price, $2.00.

To be followed by HEARTSEASE.

    "The first of her writings which made a sensation here was the
    'Heir,' and what a sensation it was! Referring to the remains of
    the tear-washed covers of the copy aforesaid, we find it
    belonged to the 'eighth thousand.' How many thousands have been
    issued since by the publishers, to supply the demand for new,
    and the places of drowned, dissolved, or swept away old copies,
    we do not attempt to conjecture. Not individuals merely, but
    households--consisting in great part of tender-hearted young
    damsels--were plunged into mourning. With a tolerable
    acquaintance with fictitious heroes (not to speak of real ones),
    from Sir Charles Grandison down to the nursery idol, Carlton, we
    have little hesitation in pronouncing Sir Guy Morville, or
    Redclyffe, Baronet, the most admirable one we ever met with, in
    story or out. The glorious, joyous boy, the brilliant, ardent
    child of genius and of fortune, crowned with the beauty of his
    early holiness, and overshadowed with the darkness of his
    hereditary gloom, and the soft and touching sadness of his early
    death--what a caution is there! What a vision!"--Extract from a
    review of "The Heir of Redclyffe," and "Heartsease," in the
    _North American Review_ for April.

William Smith's "Dictionary of the Bible," but comprising important
Additions and Improvements from the Works of Robinson, Gesenius, Furst,
Pape, Pott, Winer, Keil, Lange, Kitto, Fairbairn, Alexander, Barnes,
Bush, Thomson, Stanley, Porter, Tristram, King, Ayre, and many other
eminent scholars, commentators, travellers, and authors in various
departments. Designed to be a Complete Guide in regard to the
Pronunciation and Signification of Scriptural Names; the Solution of
Difficulties respecting the Interpretation, Authority, and Harmony of
the Old and New Testaments; the History and Description of Biblical
Customs, Events, Places, Persons, Animals, Plants, Minerals, and other
things concerning which information is needed for an intelligent and
thorough study of the Holy Scriptures, and of the Books of the
Apocrypha. Illustrated with Five Hundred Maps and Engravings. Edited by
Rev. SAMUEL W. BARNUM. Complete in one large royal octavo volume of
1,234 pages. Price, in cloth binding, $5.00; in library sheep, $6.00; in
half morocco, $7.50.

LIGHT AND ELECTRICITY. Notes of Two Courses of Lectures before the Royal
Institution of Great Britain. By JOHN TYNDALL, LL. D., F. R. S. 1 vol.,
12mo. Cloth. Price, $1.25.

    "For the benefit of those who attended his Lectures on Light and
    Electricity at the Royal Institution. Prof. Tyndall prepared
    with much care a series of notes, summing up briefly and clearly
    the leading facts and principles of these sciences. The notes
    proved so serviceable to those for whom they were designed that
    they were widely sought by students and teachers, and Prof.
    Tyndall had them reprinted in two small books. Under the
    conviction that they will be equally appreciated by instructors
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    republished in a single volume."--_Extract from Preface._

M. A. With Illustrations. 2 vols., 12mo. Cloth. Price, $4.00.

    "We can find no fault with Mr. Darwin's facts, or the
    application of them."--_Utica Herald._

    "The theory is now indorsed by many eminent scientists, who at
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    most learned of living geologists."--_Evening Bulletin._

Cloth, with Illustrations. Price, $1.75.

    "Mr. Mivart has succeeded in producing a work which will clear
    the ideas of biologists and theologians, and which treats the
    most delicate questions in a manner which throws light upon most
    of them, and tears away the barriers of intolerance on each
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covers. Price, 50 cents.

    "We will not compare Mr. Collins, as a novelist, with Mr.
    Disraeli, but, nevertheless, the qualities which have made Mr.
    Disraeli's fictions so widely popular are to be found in no
    small degree in the pages of the author of 'Marquis and

HEARTSEASE. A Novel. By the author of the "Heir of Redclyffe." An
Illustrated Edition. 2 vols., 12mo. Price, $2.00.

    This is the second of the series of Miss Yonge's novels, now
    being issued in a new and beautiful style with illustrations.
    Since this novel was first published a new generation of readers
    have appeared. Nothing in the English language can equal the
    delineation of character which she so beautifully portrays.

WHAT TO READ, AND HOW TO READ, being Classified Lists of Choice Reading,
with appropriate hints and remarks, adapted to the general reader, to
subscribers, to libraries, and to persons intending to form collections
of books. Brought down to September, 1870. By CHARLES H. MOORE, M. D. 1
vol., 12mo. Paper Covers, 50 cents. Cloth. Price, 75 cents.

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Note.

The following errors in the original text have been corrected in this

Page 20: Mind on Man changed to Mind of Man

Page 21: Le Notre changed to Le Nôtre

Page 44: empirist changed to empiricist

Page 75: Fénélon; changed to Fénelon;

Page 99: metaphysicans changed to metaphysicians

Page 117: [Greek: ektasis] changed to [Greek: ekstasis]

Page 136: added missing comma after receives warmth

Page 165: resumé changed to résumé

Page 182: exquiste changed to exquisite

Page 184: monarh changed to monarch

Page 245: missing semi-colon added after duty and right

Page 268: destrnction changed to destruction

Page 270: depeudere changed to dependere

Page 321: missing quotation mark added after because it is just.

Page 327: inaccesible changed to inaccessible

Page 356: iufinite changed to infinite

Page 360: sinee changed to since

Page 363: extravagauce changed to extravagance

Page 366: obsconditus changed to absconditus

Page 374: Nonveau changed to Nouveau
          Allemange changed to Allemagne

Page 399: analysist changed to analyst

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Lectures on the true, the beautiful and the good" ***

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