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Title: Giphantia - Or a View of What Has Passed, What Is Now Passing, and, - During the Present Century, What Will Pass, in the World.
Author: Roche, Charles-Franc?ois Tiphaigne de la
Language: English
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                               A VIEW of

                            WHAT HAS PASSED,
                          WHAT IS NOW PASSING,

                    And, during the PRESENT Century,

                            WHAT WILL PASS,

                             IN THE WORLD.

                  Translated from the original FRENCH,
                        With explanatory Notes.


                    Printed for ROBERT HORSFIELD, in
                        _Ludgate-Street_. 1761.


                                 TO THE

                          Hon^{ble} MISS ROSS.


Upon your hearing the other day Giphantia much praised by some friends,
and those no ill judges, you expressed a desire to see it in English, as
you had not, you said, French enough to read the original. I immediately
resolved to gratify your desire, and that very day sat about the

It is now finished: and, as my hand is not very legible, I take the
liberty to address it to you in print with this Epistle Dedicatory;
which, as neither you, nor the Author, want any encomiums, nor the
Translator any excuses, I shall cut short, and beg leave to subscribe
myself with great respect and sincerity,


                       Your most obedient
                         and most humble servant,

 Feb. 5,

                                                         The Translator.


                                 OF THE


                                PART I.


             INTRODUCTION                                1

             CHAP. I. THE HURRICANE                      4

             CHAP. II. THE FINE PROSPECT                 9

             CHAP. III. THE VOICE                       13

             CHAP. IV. THE REVERSE                      16

             CHAP. V. THE APPARITIONS                   24

             CHAP. VI. THE SURFACES                     27

             CHAP. VII. THE GLOBE                       34

             CHAP. VIII. THE DISCOURSES                 38

             CHAP. IX. HAPPINESS                        46

             CHAP. X. THE HODGE-PODGE                   51

             CHAP. XI. THE MIRROUR                      56

             CHAP. XII. THE TRIAL                       63

             CHAP. XIII. THE TALENTS                    73

             CHAP. XIV. THE TASTE OF THE AGE            79

             CHAP. XV. THE FEMALE REASONER              82

             CHAP. XVI. THE CROCODILES                  85

             CHAP. XVII. THE STORM                      93

             CHAP. XVIII. THE GALLERY                   99





                            PART THE FIRST.


No man ever had a stronger inclination for travelling than myself. I
consider’d the whole earth as my country, and all mankind as my
brethren, and therefore thought it incumbent upon me to travel thro’ the
earth and visit my brethren. I have walk’d over the ruins of the antient
world, have view’d the monuments of modern pride, and, at the sight of
all-devouring time, have wept over both. I have often found great folly
among the nations that pass for the most civiliz’d, and sometimes as
great wisdom among those that are counted the most savage. I have seen
small states supported by virtue, and mighty empires shaken by vice,
whilst a mistaken policy has been employ’d to inrich the subjects,
without any endeavours to render them virtuous.

After having gone over the whole world and visited all the inhabitants,
I find it does not answer the pains I have taken. I have just been
reviewing my memoirs concerning the several nations, their prejudices,
their customs and manners, their politicks, their laws, their religion,
their history; and I have thrown them all into the fire. It grieves me
to record such a monstrous mixture of humanity and barbarousness, of
grandeur and meanness, of reason and folly.

The small part, I have preserv’d, is what I am now publishing. If it has
no other merit, certainly it has novelty to recommend it.


                                CHAP. I.
                             THE HURRICANE.

I was on the borders of Guinea towards the desarts that bound it on the
North. I contemplated the immense wilds, the very idea of which shocks
the firmest mind. On a sudden I was seized with an ardent desire to
penetrate into those desarts and see how far nature denies herself to
mankind. Perhaps (said I) among these scorching plains there is some
fertile spot unknown to the rest of the world. Perhaps I shall find men
who have neither been polished nor corrupted by commerce with others.

In vain did I represent to myself the dangers and even the almost
certain death to which such an enterprize would expose me; I could not
drive the thought out of my head. One winter’s day (for it was in the
dog-days) the wind being southwest, the sky clear, and the air
temperate, furnished with something to asswage hunger and thirst, with a
glass-mask to save my eyes from the clouds of sands, and with a compass
to guide my steps, I sate out from the borders of Guinea and advanced
into the desart.

I went on two whole days without seeing any thing extraordinary: in the
beginning of the third I perceived all around me nothing but a few
almost sapless shrubs and some tufts of rushes, most of which were dried
up by the heat of the sun. These are nature’s last productions in those
barren regions; here her teeming virtue stops, nor can life be farther
extended in those frightful solitudes.

I had scarce continued my course two hours over a sandy soil, where the
eye meets no object but scattered rocks, when the wind growing higher,
began to put in motion the surface of the sands. At first, the sand only
played about the foot of the rocks and formed small waves which lightly
skimmed over the plain. Such are the little billows which are seen to
rise and gently roll on the surface of the water when the sea begins to
grow rough at the approach of a storm. The sandy waves soon became
larger, dashed and broke one another; and I was exposed to the most
dreadful of hurricanes.

Frequent whirlwinds arose, which collecting the sands carried them in
rapid gyrations to a vast height with horrible whistlings. Instantly
after, the sands, left to themselves, fell down in strait lines and
formed mountains. Clouds of dust were mixed with the clouds of the
atmosphere, and heaven and earth seemed jumbled together. Sometimes the
thickness of the whirlwinds deprived me entirely of the light of the
sun: and sometimes red transparent sands shone from afar: the air
appeared in a blaze, and the sky seemed dissolved into sparks of fire.

Mean time, now tossed into the air by a sudden gust of wind, and now
hurled down by my own weight, I found myself one while in clouds of
sand, and another while in a gulf. Every moment I should have been
either buried or dashed in pieces, had not a benevolent Being (who will
appear presently) protected me from all harm.

The terrible hurricane ceased with the day: the night was calm, and
weariness overcoming my fears, I fell asleep.


                               CHAP. II.
                           THE FINE PROSPECT.

The sun was not yet risen, when I wak’d: but the first rays enlighten’d
the east and objects began to be visible. Sleep had recover’d my
strength and calm’d my spirits: when I was awake, my fears return’d, and
the image of death presented itself again to my anxious thoughts.

I was standing on a high rock, from whence I could view every thing
round me. I cast, with horror, my eyes on that sandy region, where I
thought I should have found my grave. What was my surprise when towards
the north I spied an even, vast and fertile plain! From a state of the
profoundest sorrow in an instant I pass’d (which usually requires time)
to a state of the highest joy; nature put on a new face; and the
frightful view of so many rocks confusedly dispers’d among the sands
serv’d only to render more affecting and more agreeable the prospect of
that delightful plain, I was going to enter. O nature! how admirable are
thy distributions! how wisely manag’d the various scenes thou presentest
to our sight!

The plants, which grow on the edge of the plain are very small; the soil
does not yet supply sufficient moisture: but as you advance, vegetation
flourishes, and gives them a larger size and more height. The trees are
seen to rise by degrees and soon afford a shelter under their boughs. At
last, trees co-eval with the world appear with their tops in the clouds
and form an immense amphitheatre which majestically displays itself to
the eyes of the traveller and proclaims that such a habitation is not
made for mortals.

Every thing seem’d new to me in this unknown land; every thing threw me
into astonishment. Not any of Nature’s productions which my eyes eagerly
ran over resembles those that are seen any where else. Trees, plants,
insects, reptiles, fishes, birds, all were form’d in a manner
extraordinary, and at the same time elegant and infinitely varied. But
what struck me with the greatest wonder, was that an universal
sensibility, cloath’d with all imaginable forms animated the bodies that
seem’d the least susceptible of it: even to the very plants all gave
signs of sensation.

I walk’d on slowly in this enchanted abode. A delicious coolness kept my
senses open to the pleasure; a sweet scent glided into my blood with the
air I breath’d; my heart beat with an unusual force: and joy enlighten’d
my soul in its most gloomy recesses.


                               CHAP. III.
                               THE VOICE.

One thing surprised me: I did not see any inhabitants in these gardens
of delight. I know not how many ideas disturbed my mind on that
occasion, when a voice struck my ears, uttering these words: “Stop and
look stedfastly before thee; behold him who has inspired thee to
undertake so dangerous a voyage.” Amazed, I looked a good while and saw
nothing: at last I perceived a sort of spot, a kind of shade fixed in
the air a few paces from me. I continued to look at it more attentively,
and fancied, I saw a human form with a countenance so mild and ingaging
that instead of being terrified, the sight was to me a fresh motive of

I am (said the benevolent Shade) the Prefect of this Island. Thy
inclination to Philosophy has prepossessed me in thy favour: I have
followed thee in thy late journey and defended thee from the hurricane.
I will now show thee the rarities of the place; and then I will take
care to restore thee safe to thy country.

This Solitude with which thou art so charmed, stands in the midst of a
tempestuous ocean of moving sands; it is an island surrounded with
inaccessible desarts, which no mortal can pass without a supernatural
aid. Its name is GIPHANTIA. It was given to the elementary spirits, the
day before the Garden of Eden was allotted to the parent of mankind. Not
that the spirits spend their time here in ease and sloth. What would you
do, O ye feeble mortals! If dispersed in the air, in the sea, in the
bowels of the earth, in the sphere of fire, they did not incessantly
watch for your welfare? Without our care, the unbridled elements would
long since have effaced all remains of the human kind. Why cannot we
preserve you entirely from their disorderly sallies? Alass! our power
extends not so far: we cannot totally screen you from all the evils that
surround you: we only prevent your utter destruction.

It is here the elementary spirits come to refresh themselves after their
labours; it is here they hold their assemblies, and concert the best
measures for the administration of the elements.

                               CHAP. IV.
                              THE REVERSE.

Of all the Countries in the world (added the Prefect) Giphantia is the
only one where nature still preserves her primitive vigor. She is
incessantly labouring to increase the numerous tribes of Vegetables and
Animals, and to produce new kinds. She organizes all with admirable
skill; but she does not always succeed, in rendering them perpetual. The
Mechanism of propagation is the master-piece of her wisdom: sometimes
she fails and her productions return for ever into nothing. We cherish,
with our utmost care, such as are sufficiently organized to produce
their kind; and then plant them out in the Earth.

A Naturalist wonders sometimes to find plants that had never been
noticed before: it is because we had just then supplied the earth with
them, of which he had not the least suspicion.

Sometimes also these Exotics not meeting with a proper Climate, decay by
degrees and the species is lost. Such are those productions which are
mention’d by the Antients and which the Moderns complain are no where to
be found.

Such a plant still subsists but has long droop’d, and lost its
qualities, and deceives the Physician who is daily disappointed. The Art
is blam’d; it is not known that the fault is in Nature.

I have now a collection of new simples of the greatest virtue; and I
should have imparted them to mankind before now, had there not been
strong reasons to induce me to delay it.

For instance, I have a sovereign plant to fix the human mind, and which
would give steadiness even to a Babylonian: but for these fifty years I
have been diligently observing Babylon, and have not found one single
moment, wherein the Inclinations, Customs, and Manners have been worth

I have another plant, most excellent for checking the too lively sallies
of the spirit of invention: but thou knowest how rare these sallies are
now-a-days: never was invention at a lower ebb. One would think that
every thing has been said, and that nothing more remained but to adapt
things to the taste and mode of the age.

I have a root which would never fail to allay that sourness of the
Learned who censure one another: but I observe that without their
abusing and railing at each other, no man would concern himself about
their disputes. It is a sort of pleasure to see them bring themselves as
well as Learning into contempt. I leave the malignity of the readers to
divert themselves with the malignity of the Authors.

Moreover, do not imagine that nature sleeps in any part of the earth;
she strenuously labours even in those infinitely minute spaces where the
eye cannot reach. At Giphantia, she disposes matter on extraordinary
plans, and perpetually tends to produce something new: she every where
incessantly repeats her labours, still endeavouring to carry her works
to a degree of perfection which she never attains. These flowers which
so agreeably strike the eye, she strives to render still more beautiful.
These animals, which to you seem so dextrous, she endeavours to render
still more so. In short, Man that to you appears so superior to the
rest, she tries to render still more perfect; but in this her endeavours
prove the most unsuccessful.

Indeed, one would think that mankind do all in their power to remain in
a much lower rank than nature designs them! and they seldom fail to turn
to their hurt the best dispositions she gives them for their Good. On
the Babylonians, for instance, nature has bestowed an inexhaustible fund
of agreeableness. Her aim was manifestly to form a people the most
aimable. They were made to enliven reason, to root out the thorns that
spring from the approaches of the sciences, to soften the austerity of
wisdom, and, if possible, to adorn virtue. Thou knowest it: her favours
which should have been diffused on these objects have been diverted from
their destination; and frivolousness and debauchery have been cloathed
with them. In the hands of the Babylonians, vice loses all her
deformity. Behold in their manners, their discourses, their writings,
with what discretion vice unveils herself, with what art she ingages,
with what address she insinuates: you have not yet thought of her, and
she is seated in your heart. Even he who, by his function, lifts up his
voice against her, dares not paint her in her true colours. In a word,
no where does vice appear less vice than at Babylon. Even to the very
names, all things are changed, all things are softened. The sincere and
honest are now-a-days your modish men who are outwardly all complaisance
but inwardly full of corruption: Good company are not the Virtuous but
those who excel in palliating vice. The man of fortitude is not he that
bears the shocks of fortune unmoved, but he that braves Providence.
Bare-faced Irreligion is now styled free-thinking, blasphemy is called
boldness of speech, and the most shameful excesses, Gallantry. Thus it
is that with what they might become a pattern to all nations, the
Babylonians (to say no worse) are grown libertines of the most seducing
and most dangerous kind.


                                CHAP. V.
                            THE APPARITIONS.

I return (continues the Prefect of Giphantia) to the elementary spirits.
Their constant abode in the air, always full of vapours and exhalations;
in the sea, ever mixed with salts and earths; in the fire, perpetually
used about a thousand heterogeneous bodies; in the earth, where all the
other elements are blended together: this abode, I say, by degrees
spoils the pure essence of the spirits, whose original nature is to be
(as to their material substance) all fire, all air, or other unmixt
element. This degradation has sometimes gone so far, as that by the
mixture of the different elements, the spirits have acquired a
sufficient consistence to render them visible. People have seen them in
the fire and called them Salamanders, and Cyclops: they have seen them
in the air and called them Sylphs, Zephyrs, Aquilons: they have seen
them in the water and called them Sea-nymphs, Naiads, Nereids, Tritons:
they have seen them in caverns, desarts, woods, and have called them
Gnomes, Sylvans, Fauns, Satyrs, _&c._

From the astonishment caused by these Apparitions, men sunk into fear,
and fear begot superstition. To these, Creatures like themselves, they
erected altars which belong only to the Creator. Their imagination
magnifying what they had seen, they soon formed a Hierarchy of
Chimerical Deities. The Sun appeared to them a luminous chariot guided
by Apollo through the celestial plains; Thunder, a fiery bolt darted by
Jupiter at the heads of the guilty: the Ocean, a vast empire, where
Neptune ruled the waves: the bowels of the earth, the gloomy residence
of Pluto, where he gave laws to the pale and timorous Ghosts: in a word,
they filled the world with Gods and Goddesses. The Earth itself became a

When the elementary Spirits perceived how apt their Apparitions were to
lead men into error, they took measures to be no longer visible: they
devised a sort of refiner by which from time to time they get rid of all
extraneous matter. From thence forward, no mortal eye has ever seen the
least glimpse of these spirits.

                               CHAP. VI.
                             THE SURFACES.

Mean while the Prefect moved on and I followed, quite astonished and
pensive. At our coming out of the wood we found ourselves before a hill,
at the foot of which stood a hollow column above a hundred feet high and
thick in proportion. I saw issuing out of the top of the column vapours
(much like the exhalations raised by the sun) in such abundance that
they were very visible. From the same column I saw coming out and
dispersing themselves in the air certain human forms, certain images
still lighter than the vapours by which they were supported.

Behold (says the Prefect) the Refiner of the Elementary Spirits. The
column is filled with four Essences, each of which has been extracted
from each element. The Spirits plunge into them, and by a mechanism, too
long to be described, get rid of all extraneous matter. The images which
thou seest coming out of the column, are nothing more than very thin
surfaces which surrounded them and served to make them visible. These
surfaces partake of the different qualities of the spirits who excel
more or less in certain respects, as visages are expressive of the
characters of men, who differ infinitely. Thus, there are images or
surfaces of science, of learning, of prudence, of wisdom, _&c._

Men often cloath themselves with them, and like masks these surfaces
make them appear very different from what they really are. Hence it is
that you constantly meet with the appearance of every good, of every
virtue and every quality, though the things themselves are scarce to be
found any where.

At Babylon especially, these surfaces are in singular esteem: all is
seen there in appearance. A Babylonian had rather be nothing and appear
every thing than to be every thing and appear nothing. So, you see only
surfaces every where and of every kind.

Surface of modesty, the only thing needful for a Babylonian lady: it is
called decency.

Surface of friendship, by the means of which all Babylon seems to be but
one family. Friendship is like a strong band made of very weak threads
twisted together. A Babylonian is tied to no one by the band, but he is
tied to each of his fellow-citizens by a single thread.

Surface of piety, formerly much in use and of great influence,
now-a-days totally in disrepute. It gives people a certain Gothic air
quite ridiculous in the eyes of the moderns. It is now found only among
a few adherents to the old bigots, and in an order of men, who, on
account of their function, cannot lay it aside, how desirous soever they
may be.

Surface of opulence, one of the most striking things in Babylon. Behold
in the Temples, in the Assemblies, in the publick Walks, those citizens
so richly dressed, those women so adorned, those children so neat, so
lively, and who promise so fair to be one day as frivolous as their
fathers: follow them to their homes; furniture of the best taste,
commodious apartments, houses like little palaces, all continues to
proclaim opulence. But stop there: if you go any farther, you will see
families in distress and hearts overflowing with cares.

Surface of probity, for the use of Politicians and those who concern
themselves with the management of others. These great men cannot be as
honest as the lower people; they have certain maxims from which they
think it essential never to depart, and from which it is no less
essential that they appear extremely remote.

Surface of patriotism, of which the real substance has long since
disappeared. We must distinguish, in the conduct of the Babylonians,
between the Theory and the Practice. The Theory turns entirely upon
Patriotism. Publick Good, national Interest, Glory of the Babylonian
Name, all this is the language of Theory. The Practice hangs solely upon
the hinge of private interest. It is very remarkable that in this
respect the Babylonians have long been dupes of one another. Each
plainly perceived that _Country_ did not much affect him; but he heard
others talk of it so often and so affectionately that he verily believed
there was still such a thing as a true Patriot. But now their eyes are
open and they see that all are alike.


                               CHAP. VII.
                               THE GLOBE.

Such is the lot of the elementary spirits, continued the Prefect of
Giphantia. No sooner are they out of the probation-column where they are
purified, but they return to their usual labours: and to see where their
presence is most necessary, and where men have most need of their
assistance. At their coming out of the column they ascend this hill.
There by a mechanism which required the utmost skill of the spirits,
every thing that passes in all parts of the world is seen and heard.
Thou art going to try the experiment thy self.

On each side of the column is a large stair-case of above a hundred
steps which leads to the top of the hill. We went up; and were scarce
half way when my ears were struck with a disagreeable humming which
increased as we advanced. When we came to a platform in which the hill
ends, the first thing that struck my eyes was a Globe of a considerable
diameter. From the Globe proceeded the noise which I heard. At a
distance it was a humming; nearer, it was a frightful thundering noise,
formed by a confused mixture of shouts for joy, ravings of despair,
shrieks, complaints, singings, murmurs, acclamations, laughter, groans,
and whatever proclaims the immoderate sorrow and extravagant joy of

Small imperceptible pipes (said the Prefect) come from each point of the
earth’s surface and end at this Globe. The inside is organized so that
the motion of the air which is propagated through the imperceptible
pipes, and grows weaker in time, resumes fresh force at the entrance
into the Globe and becomes sensible again. Hence these noises and
hummings. But what would these confused sounds signify, if means were
not found to distinguish them? Behold the image of the earth painted on
the Globe; the Islands, the Continents, the Oceans which surround, join,
and divide all. Dost thou not see Europe, that quarter of the earth that
hath done so much mischief to the other three? Burning Africa, where the
arts and the wants that attend them have never penetrated? Asia, whose
luxury, passing to the European nations, has done so much good,
according to some, and so much hurt, according to others! America, still
dyed with the blood of its unhappy inhabitants, whom men of a religion,
that breathes peace and good-will, came to convert and barbarously
murder? Observe what point of the Globe, thou pleases. Place there the
end of this rod which I give thee, and putting the other end to thy ear,
thou shalt hear distinctly whatever is said in the corresponding part of
the earth.


                              CHAP. VIII.

Surprised at this prodigy, I put the end of the rod upon Babylon; I
applied my ear, and heard what follows:

“Since you consult me about this writing, I will fairly give you my
opinion. I think it discreet and too much so. What! not a word against
the government, against the manners, against religion! who will read
you? If you did but know how tired people are with History, Morality,
Phylosophy, Verse, Prose, and all that! The whole world are turned
writers; and you will more easily find an author than a reader. How make
impression on the crowd? How draw attention, unless by strokes levelled,
right or wrong, against place-men; by luscious touches of imagination
proper to excite the gust of pleasures blunted by excess; by the trite
arguments which, though repeated a thousand times, still please, because
they attack what we dread! This in my opinion is the only course for a
writer to take who has any pretensions to fame. Mind our Philosophers:
when they reflect, for instance, on the nature of the soul, they fall
into a doubt which with all their reason they cannot get out of. Do they
come to write? They resolve the difficulty, and the soul is mortal. If
they assert this, it is not from an inward persuasion, but from a desire
to write, and to write such things, as will be read. Again, if you had
made yourself a party: if you belonged to one of those clubs, where the
Censor passes from hand to hand, and where each, in his turn, is the
Idol! But no; you are among the literary cabals like a divine who should
pretend to be neither Jansenist nor Molinist[1]. Who, think ye, will
take care of your interests? Who will preach you up? Who will inlist
your name among those we respect?”

I removed the end of the rod about a twentieth part of an inch lower and
I heard, probably, a Farmer of the imposts, who was making his
calculations upon the people.

“Is it not true (said he) that in the occasions of the state, every one
should contribute in proportion to his means, after a deduction of his
necessary expences? Is it not also true, that a very short man spends
less in cloaths than a very tall one? Is it not true that this
difference of expence is very considerable, since there is occasion for
summer-habits, winter-habits, spring-habits, autumn-habits,
country-habits, riding-habits, and I know not how many others? There
should be likewise morning and evening habits; but the morning is not
known at Babylon. I would therefore have all his Majesty’s subjects
measured and taxed each inversely as his stature.... Another
consideration of equal weight. A Tax on Batchelors has been talked of;
but it was not considered. Money should be raised upon those who are
rich enough to be married, and especially upon those who are rich enough
to venture upon having children. And therefore married men should be
taxed in a ratio compounded of the amount of their capitation and the
number of their children. I have in my pocket-book I know not how many
projects as good as these, and which I have very luckily devised. Each
man has his talents: this is mine: and it is well known how much it is
to be prized now-a-days.”

At a little distance a Grammarian was making his Observations. “Three
languages (said he) are spoken at Babylon: that of the mob: that of the
petit maitre; and that of the better sort. The first serves to express
in a disagreeable manner, shocking things. With all their judgment, some
authors have written in this language, and the Babylonians, with all
their niceness, have read them with pleasure. The second is made up of a
certain contexture of words without any meaning. You may talk this
language a whole day together, and when you have done, it will be found
you have said nothing at all. To enter into the character of the idiom,
it is essential to talk incessantly without reason, and as far as
possible from common sense. The third wants a certain precision; a
certain force and certain graces; but it is susceptible of a singular
elegance and clearness. It will not perhaps be expressive enough of the
flights of the poet or the transports of the musician: but it expresses
with admirable ease all the ideas of him who observes, compares,
discusses, and seeks the truth. Without doubt, it is the properest
language for reasoning; and most unhappily it is the least used for that

Methought I heard a woman’s voice at a little distance, and put my rod
there. “I confess (said she) I am foolishly fond of this romance.
Nothing can be better penned. However, this same Julia, who holds out
during three volumes, and does not surrender till the end of the fourth,
makes the intrigue a little too tedious. It is also pity that the
viscount advances so slowly. He uses such preambles, spends so much time
in protestations, and presses his conquest with so much caution, that he
has put me, who am none of the liveliest, a hundred times out of
patience. Surely the author was little acquainted with the manners of
the nation!”


                               CHAP. IX.

The end of my rod by chance fell upon an assembly, where they were
talking of Happiness. Each declared his opinion as follows:

“At length (says one) this superb Colonnade is laid open; they think of
removing those pitiful little houses which darken that grand and
beautiful front; they repent of having built under ground to adorn a
place; Taste is reviving; the Arts are going to flourish: very shortly
Babylon will proclaim the magnificence of the monarch and the happiness
of the people.... It is a great question whether colonnades, fine
squares, and large cities, will make a nation happy: they must be
enriched. Industry must be excited, agriculture incouraged, manufactures
increased, and trade made to flourish: without which, all the rest is
nothing.... Nonsense! I have said it, and I say it again: if we will be
happy, our manners must be more simple; the circle of our wants
contracted; and, in a country-life, we must withdraw from the vices
which attend the luxury of cities.... I do not know wherein consists the
happiness of nations; but I think the happiness of individuals consists
in the health of the body and peace of the mind.... Assuredly not.
Health causes no lively impression, and tranquility is tiresome. To be
happy, you must enjoy a great reputation; for, at every instant, your
ear will be tickled with encomiums.... Yes! and at every instant your
ear will be grated with censures, because there is no pleasing every
body. It is my opinion, every man is happy in proportion to his
authority and power: for one can gratify oneself in the same
proportion.... Yes! but then that eagerness will be wanting which stamps
a value upon things: if all was in our power, we should care for
nothing. For my part, I am of opinion, that to be happy we must despise
all things; that is the only way to avoid all kind of vexation and
trouble whatsoever.... And I think, we should concern ourselves with
every thing: by that means we shall partake of every occasion of joy....
Now I think we should be indifferent to every thing: as the means of
enjoying an unchangeable happiness.... I take Wisdom to be the thing,
for that alone will set us above all events.... And I say, it must be
Folly: for Folly creates her own happiness, independently of any thing
cross or disagreeable about her.... You are all of you in the wrong.
Nothing general can be assigned that may be productive of the happiness
of particular persons. So many men, so many minds: this desires one kind
of happiness, and that another: one wishes for riches, another is
content with necessaries; this would love and be loved; that considers
the passions as the bane of the soul. Every one must study himself and
follow his own inclination.... Not at all; and you are as much mistaken
as the rest. In vain do I persuade myself that I should be happy, if I
possessed such a thing; the moment I have it, I find it insufficient,
and wish for another. We desire without end; and never enjoy. A certain
man was continually travelling about, and always on foot: quite tired
out, he said: If I had a horse I should be contented. He had a horse;
but the rain, the cold, the sun were still troublesome to him. A horse
(says he) is not sufficient; a chariot only can screen me from the
inclemencies of the air. His fortune increased, and a chariot was
bought. What followed? Exercise till then had kept our traveller in
health: as soon as that ceased, he grew infirm and gouty, and presently
after, it was not possible for him to travel either on foot or on
horseback or in a chariot.”

                                CHAP. X.
                            THE HODGE-PODGE.

I did not keep the rod any longer in one place; but moved it here and
there without distinction: and I heard only broken discourses, such as

“War, taxes, misery, are dreaded; insignificant fears all these: alas!
mine are very different. I have here framed a system upon Earthquakes;
and, by calculation, I find that near the center of the globe there is
now forming an internal fire that will turn the world upside down.
Within six months the earth will burst like a bomb, and all nature....
Yes! all nature vanishes in my eyes; thou alone dost exist for me:
extinguish, my dear, extinguish the flame thou has lighted in my bosom.
What a moment! Pleasure drowns all my senses: my soul, penetrated with
delight, seems to be upon the wing: she beats, she trembles, she flies:
O receive her, my dear, she is wholly thine. Ah! I hear my husband’s
footsteps; let us run.... Courage, brave soldiers! strike home; revenge
your country; let the blood flow, and give no quarter. May the Islanders
perish and the Babylonians live!... I do aver, for my part that of all
the nations there is not one so gay as the Babylonians. They always take
things on the most smiling side. One day of prosperity makes them forget
a whole year of adversity. Even at their own misery, they all sing; and
an epigram pays them for their losses caused by the follies of the
Great.... O how little are our great ones! and how foolish are our wise
ones! I cannot help thinking man an imperfect creature. I plainly see
nature’s efforts to make him reasonable; but I see too these efforts are
fruitless. Materials are wanting. There are but two ages: the age of
weakness in which we are born and pass two thirds of life; and the age
of infancy in which we grow old and die. I have indeed heard talk of an
age of reason; but I do not see it come. I conclude therefore, and I
say.... Yes! madam! of transparent cotton. The discovery was very lately
made in Terra Australis: so no more colds and defluxions. Transparent
handkerchiefs, gloves, and stockings, will defend from the weather, and
at the same time give us a sight of that admirable bosom, those charming
arms, that divine leg.... Doubts every where, certainty no where. How
tired am I to hear, to read, to reflect, and to know nothing precisely.
Who will tell me only what is.... This, sir, is the country-man who
leaving his plough, is come to talk with you about the affair of those
poor orphans which is not ended. That is true, but what would you have?
We are so overwhelmed! No matter, it shall be decided.... Ah! good sir,
I am glad to see you; I owe you a compliment: the last wig I had of you
makes me look ten years older. Surely the gentleman did not think, I had
so magisterial a face! Do you know, my dear sir, that it is enough to
make me look ridiculous, and you to forfeit your reputation.... Grant, O
Lord, three weeks of a westerly wind that my ship may sail.... O Lord,
three weeks of an easterly wind that my ship may arrive.... Give me, O
God, give me children.... O God! send a malignant fever upon my
ungracious son.... O Lord! grant me a husband.... O God! rid me of

Perhaps all this Hodge-Podge will not be relished by most of my readers.
I should be sorry for it. To what end then do mortals hold such odd,
such silly and such contradictory discourses?

                               CHAP. XI.
                              THE MIRROUR.

As I was amusing myself with these broken speeches, the Prefect of
Giphantia presented me with a Mirrour. Thou canst only (says he) guess
at things: but with thy rod and that glass, thou art going to hear and
see both at once; nothing will escape thee; thou wilt be as present to
whatever passes.

From space to space (continued the Prefect) there are in the atmosphere
portions of air which the spirits have so ranged, that they receive the
rays reflected from the different parts of the earth, and remit them to
this Mirrour: so that by inclining the glass different ways, the several
parts of the earth’s surface will be visible on it. They will all appear
one after the other, if the Mirrour is placed successively in all
possible aspects. It is in thy power to view the habitations of every

I hastily took up the wonderful glass. In less than a quarter of an hour
I surveyed the whole earth.

I perceived many void spaces, even in the most populous countries! and
yet I saw men crowding, jostling and destroying one another, as if they
had wanted room.

I looked about a good-while for happiness, and found it no where; not
even in the most flourishing kingdoms. I saw only some signs of it in
the villages, which by their remoteness were screened from the contagion
of the cities.

I beheld in one view the vast countries which nature meant to separate
by still vaster oceans; and I saw men cover the sea with ships, and by
that means join even these distant countries. This is plainly acting
(said I) against nature’s intentions: such proceedings cannot be crowned
with success. Accordingly, Europe does not appear more happy since her
junction with America: and I do not know whether she has not more reason
to lament it.

I saw prejudices vary with the climates, and, every where, do much good
and much harm.

I beheld wise nations rejoice at the birth of their children, and
deplore the death of their relations and friends: I beheld others more
wise stand round the new-born babe, and weep bitterly at the thoughts of
the storms he was to undergo in the course of his life; they reserved
their rejoicings for funerals, and congratulated the deceased upon their
being delivered from the miseries of this world.

I saw the earth covered with monuments of all kinds, which human
weakness erects to the ambition of heroes. In the very temples, the
brass and the marble, which contain the remains of the dead, present
images of war, and breathe slaughter: the very statues of those friends
of mankind, of those pacific sovereigns, whom the calamities of the
times involve in short wars, are adorned with warlike instruments and
nations in chains, as if Laurels died in blood were only worthy to crown

I saw the most respectable of human propensities carry men to the
strangest excesses. Some were addressing their prayers to the Sun,
others were imploring the aid of the Moon, and others prostrating
themselves before Mountains; one was trembling at the aspect of
thundering Jove, another was bending the knee to an Ape. The Ox, the
Dog, the Cat, had their altars. Incense was burning even to Vegetables;
Grain, Beans, and Onions had their worship and votaries.

I saw the race of mankind divide themselves into as many Parties as
Religions; these Parties I saw divest themselves of all humanity and
cloath themselves with Fanaticism, and these Fanatics worrying one
another like wild beasts.

I saw men who adored the same God, who sacrificed upon the same altar,
who preached to the people the doctrine of peace and love, I saw these
very men fall out about unintelligible questions, and mutually hate,
persecute, and destroy one another. O God! what will become of man, if
thy goodness doth not exceed their weakness and folly?

In a word, I saw the several nations, diversified in a thousand
respects, all agree in their not being one better than another. All men
are bad, the Ultramontane by system, the Iberian by pride, the Batavian
by interest, the German by roughness, the Islander by humour, the
Babylonian by caprice, and All by a general corruption of heart.


                               CHAP. XII.
                               THE TRIAL.

After this general survey of the whole earth, I had a mind to view
Babylon in particular. Having turned my glass to the north, and
inclining it gently to the 20th meridian, I tried to find out that great
city. Among the places that passed in succession under my eyes, there
was one that fixed my attention. I saw a country-house, neither small
nor great, neither too much adorned nor too naked. All about it was more
embellished by nature than by art. It overlooked gardens, groves, and
some ponds which bounded a hill on the east. A country feast was at this
time celebrating, to which all the neighbouring inhabitants were come.
Some, stretched on the green turf, were drinking large draughts, and
entertaining one another with their former amours; and several were
performing dances, which the old men did not think so fine as those of
time past.

Seest thou (says the Prefect to me) in the balcony, that young lady who
with a smiling air is viewing the sight? She was married some days ago,
and it is on her account that this feast is made. Her name is _Sophia_:
she has beauty as you see, fortune, wit, and what is worth more than all
the rest, a stock of good sense. She had five Lovers at one time: none
made a deep impression in her heart, none were displeasing to her; she
could not tell to which to give the preference.

One day she said to them, I am young; and it is not my intention to
enter yet into the bands of matrimony, which is always done too soon. If
my hand is so valuable as by your eager addresses you seem to think,
exert your endeavours to deserve it. But, I declare to you that I shall
not make any choice these several years.

Of Sophia’s five Lovers, the first was much inclined to extravagance.
Women (says he) are taken with the outside: let us spend freely and
spare nothing.

The second had a fund of economy which bordered upon avarice. Sophia
(says he) who has a solid judgment, must think him best that shows
himself capable of amassing riches: let us turn to commerce.

The third was proud and haughty. Surely (says he) Sophia, who has noble
thoughts, will be touched with the lustre of glory: let us take to arms.

The fourth was a studious man. Sophia (says he) who has so much sense,
will incline to where the most is to be found. Let us continue to
cultivate our mind; and strive to distinguish ourselves among the

The fifth was an indolent man, who gave himself little concern about
worldly affairs: he was at a loss what course to take.

Each pursued his plan, and pursued it with that ardor which love alone
is capable of inspiring.

The prodigal expended part of his estate in cloaths, in equipages, in
domesticks; he built a fine house, furnished it nobly, kept open table,
gave balls and entertainments of all kinds: nothing was talked of but
his generosity and magnificence.

The merchant set all the springs of commerce in motion, traded to all
parts of the world and became one of the richest men of his country. The
military man sought occasions; and soon signalized himself. The studious
man redoubled his efforts, made discoveries, and became famous.

Mean while, the indolent lover made his reflections; and, believing if
he remained unactive he should be excluded, he strove to conquer his
indolence. The estate, he had from his ancestors, seemed to him very
sufficient, and he did not care to meddle with commerce; the hurry of
war was quite opposite to his temper, and he had no mind to take to
arms; he had never read but for his amusement, the sciences did not seem
to him worth the pains to come at them; he had no ambition to become
learned. What then is to be done? Let us wait, (says he) time will show.
So he remained at his country-house, pruning his trees, reading Horace,
and now and then going to see the only object that disturbed his
tranquillity. Ever resolving to take some course, the time slipt away,
and he took none.

The fatal hour approaches (said he sometimes to Sophia) you are going to
make your choice, and most assuredly it will not be in my favour. Yet a
few days, and I am undone. This peaceful retreat, those delightful
fields you will not grace, you will not enliven, with your presence.
Those serene days that I reckoned to pass with you in the purest of
pleasures were only flattering dreams with which love charmed my senses.
O Sophia! all that stirs the passions and troubles the repose of men has
no power over me; my desires are all centered in you; and I am going to
lose you for ever!

You are too reasonable, replied Sophia, to take it ill that I should
chuse where I think I shall be happy.

At last, the time was expired, and not without many reflections, Sophia
resolved to make her choice.

She said to the prodigal: if I have been the aim of your expences, I am
sorry for it: but what you have done for my sake, you would have done,
had I been out of the question. You have lavished away one part of your
estate to obtain a wife; you would spend the other to avoid the trouble
of management. I advise you never to think of it.

She told the merchant, soldier and scholar, I am sensible, you have
shown a great regard for me: but I think too you have shown no less, you
for riches, you for glory, and you for learning. In trying to fix my
inclination, each has followed his own; each would do as much for
himself as for me. Should I chuse one of you, his views would still rest
upon other objects; one would be busied with increasing his fortune, the
other with his promotion in the army, and the third with his progress in
the sciences. I cannot therefore satisfy any one of you: and my desire
is to ingross the heart of the man who ingrosses mine.

The same day, she saw the solitary gentleman. You have long waited for
it (said she to him) and I am at last going to declare my mind. You know
what your rivals have done to obtain my consent: see what they were and
what they are. For your part, such as you was, such you remain. I think,
I see the reason. Indifferent to all other things, you have but one
passion, and I am its object. I alone can render you happy. Well then!
my happiness shall be in creating yours. I will share the delights of
your solitude, and will endeavour to increase them.


                              CHAP. XIII.
                              THE TALENTS.

I returned to my first object, and, after a long search, I perceived on
the mirrour a spot of land which seemed wrapped in a cloud. There issued
from thence a confused noise like the murmurs of an ebbing tide. The sun
quickly dispersed the vapours, and I saw Babylon.

I saw there spectacles wherein the calamities of past times are
lamented, in order to forget the calamities of the present; I saw
Academies where they should examine and discuss, but where they dispute
and quarrel; Temples that are built against the restoration of religion;
Orators, who foretell to the seduced people the most terrible disasters,
and Hearers who measure the expressions and criticize the style; a
Palace wherein are placed Magistrates for the security of your property,
and where you are conducted by Guides who fleece you.

I cast my eyes on the publick walks and gardens, ever open to idleness,
coquetry and recreation. I beheld sitting alone on the grass a person
who, with a smile, was penning down his ideas. I fixed the paper, and
read what follows:

“One day Jupiter proclaimed through the whole earth, that he had
resolved to distribute different talents to the different nations; that
on such a day the distribution would be made at Olympus; and that the
geniuses of the several nations should repair thither.

“The Genius of Babylon stayed not till the day appointed, but came the
first of all to Jupiter’s palace. He made his appearance with that air
of confidence which is natural to him; he uttered I know not how many
very handsome and well-turned compliments, and made presents to all the
celestial court with a grace peculiar to him.

“He gave the Father of the gods a quintal of wild-fire of a late
invention, that his thunder may be more effectual and people begin to
have faith: to Apollo a Babylonian grammar, that he may reform the
oddities of the language: to Minerva a collection of Romances, that she
may correct their licentiousness and teach the Romancers to write
decently: to Venus two small _votive_ pictures, to thank her for that
the last year there were at Babylon but two hundred thousand inhabitants
who bore the long and painful marks of her favours.

“He made his court to the Gods, wheedled the Goddesses, said and did so
many handsome and pleasant things, that nothing was talked of at
Jupiter’s court but the agreeableness of the Genius of Babylon.

“Mean while, the day appointed was come: and Jupiter, having advised
with his council, made the distribution of the different talents to the
Geniuses of the several nations. To this he assigned the gift of
Philosophy: to that, the gift of Legislation; and to another the gift of
Eloquence. He said to one, Be Thou the most ingenious; to another, Be
Thou the most learned, and Thou, the most frugal; and Thou, the most
warlike; and Thou, the most politick: and Be Thou (said he, speaking to
the Genius of Babylon) whatever thou chusest to be.

“Delighted with his success, and returning home, the Genius of Babylon
is at all. He framed I know not how many schemes, and executed none. He
made most excellent laws, and afterwards embroiled them with numberless
explanations and comments.

“He would likewise turn Theologist, and engaged in disputes which proved
fatal to him.

“He traded, gained much, enlarged his expences, and became richer and
less easy.

“Orator, Poet, Merchant, Philosopher, he was every thing; and in many
things he attained to perfection, but never could keep his ground.”


                               CHAP. XIV.
                         THE TASTE OF THE AGE.

Two men of letters were walking at a little distance. “Will you not own
(said one of them) that, two centuries ago, our learning was in its
infancy; and hardly showed to what degree it might arrive. In the last
century, it took root and rose so high that nothing was seen above it.
The greatest masters among the Greeks and Latins were taken for
patterns: they were equalled, if not surpassed.

“Success inspires confidence; and too much confidence breeds neglect. To
have the eye always on the Antients grew distasteful. They have had
their merit (said the Babylonians) and we have ours: who can say we do
not equal them? They therefore set up for themselves: and the taste, not
the more general and of all the nations, but the taste peculiar to them
characterized their works. See almost all our poems, our histories, our
speeches, our books, all is after the Babylonian mode; much of art,
little of nature; a vast superficies, no depth; all is florid, light,
lively, sparkling; all is pretty, nothing is fine. Methinks I foresee
the judgment of posterity: they will consider the works of the
seventeenth century as the greatest efforts of the nation towards the
excellent; and the works of the eighteenth, as pictures wherein the
Babylonians have taken pleasure to paint themselves.

“If our writers are capable to go back and resume their great patterns,
it is known what they can do; they are sure to please all the world, and
for ever: but, if they continue to stand on their own bottom, their
works will be only trinkets of fancy, on which the present taste stamps
a value, and which another taste will soon bury in oblivion.”


                               CHAP. XV.
                          THE FEMALE REASONER.

I saw two women apart, one of which was talking: she looked round her
every moment with that air of uneasiness which expresses a confidence
the most mysterious. I lent my ear; and with great difficulty I heard
what follows:

“I am obliged to thee, my dear Countess, for the idea thou hast
conceived of my prudence. Hearken; I will hide nothing from thee; thou
shalt see how far I may be relied on. We women are forced to guess
things, they will never be told us plainly: but, with a little
attention, it is easy for us to see how matters are. For my part, I have
reflected on the maxims of the wise men of our days, and from thence
have drawn these conclusions. It is only the mob that trouble themselves
now about a future state; the rewards and punishments of another world
are words without a meaning; which have long been discarded by people of
fashion. Beasts and men (of beasts the chief) are made to be guided by
the senses; they should be actuated solely by the passions. Let each
attentively listen to what is inspired into him by nature, and let him
follow her inspirations; that is the way to happiness. On the other
hand, society cannot subsist without laws, and laws cannot be
accommodated to the passions of every citizen. They therefore who have
placed their happiness in what is forbidden by law, cannot behave too
circumspectly. They must always walk in the shade; mystery should follow
their steps, and cast a veil on all their proceedings: in a word, they
may do what they will, provided they appear to do what they ought.
These, my dear Countess, are the maxims I have gathered from the
Philosophy of the time. I will not mention their influence on my
conduct. Perhaps I really am what I appear to be: but I should be quite
otherwise, that I might appear always such.”

O Babylon! (said I to myself) the leven has fermented the whole mass.
Thou appearest very corrupt; but thou art still more corrupt than thou

                               CHAP. XVI.
                            THE CROCODILES.

During the course of my travels, I saw in Persia, on the plains watered
by the Tedjen, a dispute arise which divided the country and bred a
surprising animosity in the people. I was curious to see how that matter
stood: I placed the mirrour in the proper position, and then put the end
of the rod upon the globe, so as I could see and hear what was doing.

The plain was covered with two numerous armies; which were just going to
join battle. The ground of the quarrel was this:

A pious and learned Musulman, who used to read the Alcoran with the zeal
of an archangel and the penetration of a seraphim, took it in his head
one day to ask whether the dove, that instructed Mahomet, spoke Hebrew
or Arabic. Some said one thing, some another; and two parties were
formed. They disputed, they wrote at large pro and con, and could not
agree. To the warmth of the contest were added bitterness, malignity its
inseparable companion, and policy, which endeavours to make an advantage
of every thing. One party persecuted the other, or was persecuted,
according as they were or were not uppermost. They began with the
forfeiture of estates and banishments; and ended in an open war. The
sectaries had caballed so well, that the people rose in arms against one

The two armies were just going to ingage, when a venerable old man
advanced, and convening the heads, made the following speech:

“Hearken, O ye people of Chorasan. There was in Egypt a famous city
called Ombi; it was near another great city named Tentyris: both were
situated on the fertile banks of the Nile[2]. In that part, the river
bred a great number of Crocodiles; and these voracious animals so
fiercely attacked these two cities, that the inhabitants were going to
remove. The governours of Tentyris were apprehensive that their
authority would vanish, and the citizens would come to be dispersed.
They assembled therefore the Tentyrites and said:

“_You suffer the destructive animals to increase and multiply in peace.
Hear what we have to declare to you in the name of the Nile your
foster-father and your God. Woe be unto you, if you remain any longer in
this state of indolence! Arm without delay, and wage war against the
monsters that devour your wives and children._

“It was the injunction of the Nile, and not to be disputed. The
Tentyrites took up arms, but it was with great disadvantage, and never
was advice more imprudent. The Crocodiles, invulnerable in almost all
the parts of their bodies, killed many more men than the men killed
monsters. The governours of Ombi used a different artifice to keep the
Ombites from leaving their city.

“_Hearken_, (said they to them) _the God_ Nile _speaks to you by our
mouth: I create plenty among the Ombites, I inrich their lands, I fatten
their flocks; my waters flow and they grow rich. The Crocodile is my
servant, and I permit him now and then to feed upon some of them; this
is the only tribute I require for all my benefits: and, instead of
rejoicing at having it in their power by a single act to render
themselves agreeable to me, they destroy one another, if my servant
seizes a few children. Let them cease to complain, or I will cease to
feed them; I will with-hold my waters and all shall perish._

“The moment the Ombites knew the Crocodile to be the favourite of the
Nile, they erected altars to him; and, far from complaining when he was
pleased to feed on their children, they gloried in it. _Is there a woman
more happy than I?_ (said an Ombite) _I enjoy a competent fortune, have
a loving husband, and three of my children have been eaten by the
servant of our God Nile._

“In the mean time, the favourite of the Nile was killed by the
Tentyrites and worshipped by the Ombites. Discord and animosity inflamed
them against one another; they went to war, which ended in the
destruction of both. Thus perished two cities, dupes of their sincerity,
devoured by the Crocodile, and butchered by each other. Let this example
open your eyes, O ye unfortunate inhabitants of this happy climate.
Cease to be victims of an irregular zeal: worship God, keep silence, and
live in peace.”

Scarce had the old man done speaking, when a general murmur and menacing
looks showed him how little he had moved the assembly, so he withdrew
with a sigh. Immediately the battle was joined; and I turned away my
eyes that I might not behold these mad people destroy one another.

I have a great deal more to show you, (says the Prefect) let us lay down
the mirrour and rod, and walk on.


                              CHAP. XVII.
                               THE STORM.

Some paces from the noisy globe, the earth is hollowed, and there
appears a descent of forty or fifty steps of turf; at the foot of which
there is a beaten subterraneous path. We went in; and my guide, after
leading me through several dark turnings, brought me at last to the
light again.

He conducted me into a hall of a middling size, and not much adorned,
where I was struck with a sight that raised my astonishment. I saw, out
of a window, a sea which seemed to me to be about a quarter of a mile
distant. The air, full of clouds, transmitted only that pale light which
forebodes a storm: the raging sea ran mountains high, and the shore was
whitened with the foam of the billows which broke on the beach.

By what miracle (said I to myself) has the air, serene a moment ago,
been so suddenly obscured? By what miracle do I see the ocean in the
center of Africa? Upon saying these words, I hastily ran to convince my
eyes of so improbable a thing. But in trying to put my head out of the
window, I knocked it against something that felt like a wall. Stunned
with the blow, and still more with so many mysteries, I drew back a few

Thy hurry (said the Prefect) occasions thy mistake. That window, that
vast horizon, those thick clouds, that raging sea, are all but a

From one astonishment I fell into another: I drew near with fresh haste;
my eyes were still deceived, and my hand could hardly convince me that a
picture should have caused such an illusion.

The elementary spirits (continued the Prefect) are not so able painters
as naturalists; thou shalt judge by their way of working. Thou knowest
that the rays of light, reflected from different bodies, make a picture
and paint the bodies upon all polished surfaces, on the retina of the
eye, for instance, on water, on glass. The elementary spirits have
studied to fix these transient images: they have composed a most subtile
matter, very viscous, and proper to harden and dry, by the help of which
a picture is made in the twinkle of an eye. They do over with this
matter a piece of canvas, and hold it before the objects they have a
mind to paint. The first effect of the canvas is that of a mirrour;
there are seen upon it all the bodies far and near, whose image the
light can transmit. But what the glass cannot do, the canvas, by means
of the viscous matter, retains the images. The mirrour shows the objects
exactly, but keeps none; our canvases show them with the same exactness,
and retains them all. This impression of the images is made the first
instant they are received on the canvas, which is immediately carried
away into some dark place; an hour after, the subtile matter dries, and
you have a picture so much the more valuable, as it cannot be imitated
by art nor damaged by time. We take, in their purest source, in the
luminous bodies, the colours which painters extract from different
materials, and which time never fails to alter. The justness of the
design, the truth of the expression, the gradation of the shades, the
stronger or weaker strokes, the rules of perspective, all these we leave
to nature, who, with a sure and never-erring hand, draws upon our
canvases images which deceive the eye and make reason to doubt, whether,
what are called real objects, are not phantoms which impose upon the
sight, the hearing, the feeling, and all the senses at once.

The Prefect then entered into some physical discussions, first, on the
nature of the glutinous substance which intercepted and retained the
rays; secondly, upon the difficulties of preparing and using it;
thirdly, upon the struggle between the rays of light and the dried
substance; three problems, which I propose to the naturalists of our
days, and leave to their sagacity.

Mean while, I could not take off my eyes from the picture. A sensible
spectator, who from the shore beholds a tempestuous sea, feels not more
lively impressions: such images are equivalent to the things themselves.

The Prefect interrupted my extasy. I keep you too long (says he) upon
this storm, by which the elementary spirits designed to represent
allegorically the troublesome state of this world, and mankind’s stormy
passage through the same: turn thy eyes, and behold what will feed thy
curiosity and increase thy admiration.

                              CHAP. XVIII.

Scarce had the Prefect said these words; when a folding-door opened on
our right, and let us into an immense Gallery, where my wonder was
turned into amazement.

On each side, above two hundred windows let in the light to such a
degree, that the eye could hardly bear its splendor. The spaces between
them were painted with that art, I have just been describing. Out of
each window, was seen some part of the territory of the elementary
spirits. In each picture, appeared woods, fields, seas, nations, armies,
whole regions; and all these objects were painted with such truth, that
I was often forced to recollect myself, that I might not fall again into
illusion. I could not tell, every moment, whether what I was viewing out
of a window was not a painting, or what I was looking at in a picture
was not a reality.

Survey with thy eyes (said the Prefect) survey the most remarkable
events that have shaken the earth and decided the fate of men. Alass!
what remains of all these powerful springs, of all these great exploits?
the most real signs of them are the traces they have left upon our
canvases in forming these pictures[3].

The most antient actions, whose lustre has preserved their memory, are
the actions of violence. Nimrod, the mighty hunter, after having worried
the wild beasts, attacks his fellow-creatures. See in the first picture
that gigantic man, the first of those heroes so renowned; see in his
looks pride, ambition, an ardent desire of rule. He framed the first
scheme of a kingdom, and uniting men under the pretence of binding them
together, he enslaved them.

Belus, Ninus, Semiramis ascend the throne, which they strengthen by
fresh acts of violence! and of above thirty kings who successively
reigned, only one closed the wounds of mankind, let Asia take breath,
and governed like a philosopher: his name is almost forgot. History,
which glows at the sight of renowned and tragical events, languishes
over peaceable reigns: and scarce mentions such sovereigns.

Sardanapalus ends this series of kings. Enemy to noise, disorder and
war, he mispends his time, shuts himself up in his palace, and sinks
into effeminacy. The women, thou seest about him, neither think nor
exist but for him. His looks give them life, and he receives life from
theirs. What do I say? He seeks himself with astonishment and finds
himself not; a surfeit of pleasures destroys his taste: he does not
live, but languish.

In the mean time, two of his generals[4] loathing peace, form schemes of
conquests, and feed, themselves with bloody projects. They deem
themselves alone worthy to reign, because they alone breathe war in the
midst of the publick tranquillity. See where they attack and dethrone
their effeminate monarch: and forcing him to destroy himself, they seize
and share his dominions. Thus the Assyrian empire was dismembered, after
having kept Asia in continual alarms above twelve hundred years.

Kings succeeded both at Nineveh and at Babylon; and all became famous
for wars and ravages[5]. One of them laid Egypt waste, plundered
Palestine, burnt Jerusalem, put out the eyes of a king whose children he
had murdered, drove from their country whole nations and put them in
chains; and, after such expeditions, he ordered altars to be erected to
him, and worship to be paid him as to a beneficent God. See at the foot
of his image, incense burning and nations lying prostrate; and admire
how far the pride and abjection of mortals extend[6].

The next picture represents the infancy of Cyrus, and the particular
moment wherein he gave signs of that intolerable haughtiness, considered
by the historians as the first sallies of a greatness of soul, which to
display itself wants only great occasions. Cyrus, both by right of birth
and right of conquest, united Assyria and Media to Persia, and was the
founder of the largest empire that ever existed.

His successors still think their bounds too narrow: they send into
Greece, which was then signalized in Europe, armies infinitely numerous,
the which are destroyed: and the spirit of conquest had on that occasion
the fate which unhappily it has not always.

The Greeks, freed from these powerful enemies, turn their arms against
one another: they are animated by jealousy, inflamed by the warm and
dangerous eloquence of their orators, and torn by civil wars. Persia
falls into the same convulsions. And when perhaps every thing was
tending to peace, Alexander appears, and all are embroiled worse than

This picture shows him in that tender age wherein he lamented his
father’s conquests, and saw with grief human blood shed by wounds, he
had not made. Scarce was he on the throne when he carried desolation
into Greece, Persia and India. The world did not suffice for his
murdering progress, and his heart was still unsatisfied. That other
picture represents his death. That destructive thunderbolt is at last
extinguished, Alexander expires, and casting his dying eyes on the grand
monarchy he is going to leave, nothing seems to comfort him but the
prospect of the bloody tragedies of which his death is to be the signal.

Of all Alexander’s dominions, those to whom they belonged of right, had
the least share. The empire was divided among his generals[7]. War was
soon kindled amongst them, continued among their descendants, and ruined
all the countries of which they had the rule.

Among so many warlike kings, Ptolemy Philadelphus appeared like a lily
raised by chance in a field of thorns. See in that immense library, the
monarch surrounded with old sages, who are giving him an account of the
numberless volumes which are before his eyes. He was too great a lover
of mankind to disturb their tranquillity; and held them in such
estimation, that he collected from all countries the productions of
their wit[8]. These kinds of riches seemed to him alone worthy his care.
He saw them with the same eye that other kings behold those metals which
they search for in the bowels of the earth, or which they fetch from the
extremities of the world through rivulets of blood.

Whilst discord rages amongst Alexander’s successors and their
descendants; already appeared in the center of Italy the first sparks of
the flame that was to spread over the universe and consume all nations.
Like those bodies of a vast weight, which, not being in their just
position, swing themselves to and fro for some moments, and then fix
themselves immoveably; Rome, subject successively to kings, consuls,
decemvirs, military tribunes, settles a government and begins the
conquest of the world.

This ambitious nation, direct at first their forces against their
neighbours. In vain did the several Italian states struggle for five
hundred years against the fate of Rome: one while in subjection, another
while in rebellion: now conquerors, now conquered, they were all in the
end forced to submit to the yoke.

Italy subdued and calmed, that is, reduced to the state of those robust
bodies, which by being exhausted fall into a consumption and weakness,
the Romans cross the seas, and go into Africa in search of fresh enemies
and other spoils. Carthage as ambitious, perhaps as powerful, but more
unfortunate than her rival, after a long and violent contest, is
overcome and destroyed. Corinth and Numantia share the same fate.

About this time, Viriatus raised himself in the same manner as the
Romans. In this picture, he is a huntsman; in that, a robber; in the
third, a general of an army; and in the fourth, he mounts the throne of
Lusitania. But he was only a victim crowned by fortune to be sacrificed
to the ambition of the Romans[9].

Asia is soon opened to these insatiable conquerors. The empire daily
enlarges, and that enormous power over-runs all the known world.

The first passion of the Romans was glory. During seven centuries,
patriotism, which policy cherished with so great success, directed the
love of glory in favour of the republic; and the Romans signalized
themselves no less by their attachment to their country, than by their
warlike exploits. This space was filled with a long train of heroes, and
those that followed, despairing to become famous in the same manner,
sought to distinguish themselves by other methods. Rome was mistress of
the world; it appeared glorious to become master of Rome. Sylla, Marius,
and some others, showed that such a project was not impracticable: Cæsar
accomplished it. That boasted conqueror, who was reproached with so many
things, effaced them all by his virtue: by his military virtue which
destroyed above a million of men, oppressed his fellow-citizens, and
enslaved his country. In vain did the republic exert her utmost
endeavours to save her expiring liberty; she was exhausted and stretched
her hands to Augustus, who, from a bad citizen, became the best of

Raised to the empire, he put an end to war, and soon gave mankind a
peace the most universal, they had ever enjoyed. The elementary spirits
have given an idea of the pleasure of this general tranquillity, by the
agreeable prospect of the landskips which are here represented.

This peace.... Pray (says I interrupting the Prefect) suspend a moment
the rapid recital of so many revolutions; give me leave to examine this
picture, and a little time to calm the perturbation of my mind. How I
love to see that beautiful sky; those plains that lose themselves at a
distance; those pastures filled with flocks; those fields covered with
corn? The breath of war blows far from those climates the vertiginous
spirit of heroism. This is indeed the seat of peace and tranquillity. My
imagination carries me to those delightful vallies: I behold and
contemplate nature, whose labours nothing interrupts, producing on every
side life and pleasure. My thoughts are composed and my spirits sedate
amidst the tranquillity that reigns in those places: my blood, grown
cool, flows in my veins with the same gentle motion as the rivulets that
water those green turfs; and the passions now have on my mind only the
effect of the zephyr, which seems to play gently among the branches of
leafy trees.

                               CHAP. XIX.
                     THE OTHER SIDE OF THE GALLERY.

The Prefect soon resumed the thread of his discourse. The quickness,
wherewith he ran over the Gallery, hardly gave me time to view the
several pictures he was explaining. I had not seen him before nor did I
afterwards see him speak with so much action. His face was inflamed, his
eyes darted fire, and his words were too slow for his eagerness.

The language, the manners, the laws of the Romans (said he) were spread
over the world. The nations, conquered and settled, became members of
the empire; and all the known world made but one family. By what
fatality was Augustus’s peace, which seemed so unalterable, of so short
a duration? Mankind only breathed, and were soon inflicted with new
wounds. When Rome had no more kingdoms to subdue, she had rebels to
reduce. Several nations, thinking it a great happiness or a great glory
to be parted from the body of the empire, rebelled in Europe, in Asia,
in Africa: all were repressed. Thus most of the nations, formerly
attacked and defeated, now the aggressors and reduced, continued to be
hurled from one misfortune to another; and the following pictures, those
which represent the more celebrated times of the first Emperors, will
still go on to present to thee spectacles of blood. The three reigns of
Titus, Antoninus, and Marcus Aurelius, were three fine Days in a severe

Those times, nevertheless, were times of peace, in comparison of those
that had gone before and those that came after. The empire was like a
body with a good constitution, but which however is attacked with some
disorders, and shews that it is not far from its decline.

Whilst the Romans, at first to extend, then to support and sometimes to
inrich themselves, kept the world in awe, pulled down what attempted to
rise, and penetrated wherever they were allured by rich spoils; towards
the North, in those frozen climates where nature seems to reach only to
expire, there arose and increased, in the bosom of peace and silence,
nations who were one day to humble the pride of the masters of the
world. Three centuries had not yet passed since Augustus’s peace, when,
in the reign of Valerianus, the deceitful hope of a more commodious and
happy life armed these unpolished people. See where they are coming out
of their huts, tumultuously gathering together, marching in disorder,
and showing the way to the hideous multitudes who followed one another
from age to age.

These foreign enemies, coming when the empire was rent with internal
rebellions, shook the Colossus. It withstood however, for some time, the
weight which pulled it down, and one while ready to fall, and another
while erect, it seemed sometimes to be going to stand firm again.

Among the emperors who signalized themselves against the Barbarians,
Probus contributed the most to support the Majesty of the Roman name.
Valiant, but still more humane, he abhorred war and continually waged
it. Dost thou observe, in the picture before thee, that bald old man,
his air of candor, his respectable countenance, the plainness of every
thing about him? It is Probus represented in the moment when, beholding
Rome’s enemies humbled, full of the idea of that general peace he always
desired, he said: “yet a few days and the empire will have no farther
occasion for soldiers.” Words which rendered him worthy of the
veneration of the whole earth, but which caused him to be murdered. Time
passed, the efforts of the Barbarians redoubled, and blood continued to
be shed.

Mean while, the enemies of Rome grew warlike, and her defenders
degenerated. Of this the chief causes were pride, which increasing
wants, forces the citizen to refer every thing to his private interest;
the folly of most of the emperors, which bred in the people a numbness
which a few years confirm, and which whole ages cannot remove; perhaps
too a weariness of the spirits; for that ambition, that haughtiness, or,
if you please, that Roman grandeur, was in the course of things an
excessive effort, which, like an epidemical distemper come to its
height, must necessarily abate by degrees.

However this may be, a century and half after their first invasions, the
Barbarians began to make real progresses, and dismember the Western part
of the empire. Amidst the troubles that then existed, some kingdoms were
established which still remain to this day. Just as Earthquakes, which
raising the sea drown whole regions, produce also new Islands amidst the

See the Goths, who after traversing sword in hand, part of Asia and all
Europe, are settling in Spain: see the Angles, a people of Germany, who
are passing into Great Britain, and, under pretence of aiding, are
seizing it: see the Franks, other Germans, who are coming to free the
Gauls from the Roman yoke and making them to submit to theirs. In these
unhappy times, Rome herself shares the same fate which she had made so
many cities undergo; she is plundered and sacked at several times[10].

But the next pictures present to thee, in a point of view still more
dreadful, regions laid waste, fields bathed in blood, and cities in
ashes. These are the exploits of Attila and his rapid incursions in
Macedonia, Mysia, Thrace, Italy, and almost through the whole world
which he ravaged. So many desolations, proceeding from several
conquerors, would have made so many heroes: coming from a single hand,
they form a terrible monster. It is thus that military virtues show
themselves in their true colours, and become horrible when they meet in
a center[11].

During Attila’s ravages, certain Italians flying from his fury, withdraw
to the Adriatic sea-side. Behold in this picture the men pale, the women
dishevelled, and the children in tears. Some hide themselves among the
rocks; others dig themselves subterraneous retreats; some ascend the
hills, and, as far as their eyes can reach, look whither the merciless
conqueror, whose name alone makes them tremble, is still pursuing them
to those desolate places, so little proper for the habitation of men. On
every side thou canst see nothing but destruction and horror: very soon
however proud Venice is going to rise out of these melancholy ruins.

Shortly after, the last blow is given to the Western empire. Tyrannized
by its rulers, rent by factions, weakened by continual losses, and
pressed by a fatal destiny, it shakes under some emperors, and falls
under Augustulus. Rome and Italy, successively a prey to two Barbarians,
are afterwards united to the Eastern empire, from which by fresh
misfortunes they were soon after detached again.

Two centuries passed in cruel vicissitudes, when a new scourge, Mahomet,
arose in the East. He was deemed at first but as an impostor worthy of
contempt: but he had an understanding capable of the greatest things,
and a boldness which carried him to the highest enterprizes. It was
known how far he was able to go, when his progress could no longer be
opposed. He over-ran part of the East, and out of the ruins founded the
kingdom of the Khalifs. The nations, he subdued by force of arms, he won
by seduction; and, more fatal still to mankind than all the heroes whose
pernicious actions die with them, he sullied the human species with a
stain which probably will never be effaced[12].

In the West, the misfortunes of the Romans are renewed. The Lombards
waste Italy, the Moors settle in Spain, from whence they threaten the
French: new swarms of Barbarians are going to invade the finest
countries of Europe.

At this time, from the bosom of France arises a Prince full of genius,
and of that military ardor which, in a calm, would have brought on a
storm; but which, finding the tempest formed, like an impetuous wind,
blew it away: this was Charlemain. In this picture, he checks the
Saracens; in that, he subdues Germany; moreover, he destroys in Italy
the power of the Lombards, founds the temporal authority of the Popes,
and receives the crown of the Western empire.

Charlemain’s empire soon fell to pieces. The partitions of the princes,
and the ambition of some chiefs, detach whole nations from it. Weak or
avaricious emperors give or sell liberty to others. The rest is under
particular lords: the sovereign scarce keeps the title and shadow of

Dost thou observe that battle? seest thou a numerous army defeated by
fifteen hundred men? It is the æra of the liberty of the Helvetic body.
Members of the empire, but oppressed by tyrants, the Swiss shake off the
yoke and form a government, the wisdom of which cannot be too much
admired. Their commerce extends but to necessaries: they have soldiers
only for their defence, and these too are trained among other nations: a
constant peace reigns in the republic. Without covetousness, without
jealousy, without ambition, liberty and necessaries content them. They
are a people that talk the least of philosophy, and are the most

Whilst the new Western empire is rent, the Eastern is destroyed. Thou
seest coming out of Asia the last swarm of Barbarians which were to fall
upon Europe[13]. They advance: and, like huge masses which acquire more
force in proportion to the height they fall from, they crush
Constantinople and seize the Eastern empire, which they still possess to
this day.

Such is the disastrous contexture of the compendious History of mankind:
the crowd of particulars is only a crowd of less noted calamities. The
total of the nations, especially the European, is like a mass of
quicksilver, which the lightest impression puts in motion, which the
least shake divides and subdivides, and of which chance unites again the
parts in a thousand different manners. Who will find the means to fix

                       THE END OF THE FIRST PART.


                                PART II.


                      Printed in the Year MDCCLX.

                                 OF THE
                                PART II.


               CHAP. I. THE REPAST                   201

               CHAP. II. THE KERNELS                 212

               CHAP. III. ANTIENT LOVE               215

               CHAP. IV. THE GRAFTS                  221

               CHAP. V. VOLUPTAS                     228

               CHAP. VI. PERPETUAL YOUTH             233

               CHAP. VII. THE ITCHINGS               239

               CHAP. VIII. THE COMPENSATIONS         249

               CHAP. IX. NIL ADMIRARI                253

               CHAP. X. THE FANTASTICAL TREE         259

               CHAP. XI. THE PREDICTIONS             265

               CHAP. XII. THE SYSTEM                 274


               CHAP. XIV. THE MAXIMS                 302

               CHAP. XV. THE THERMOMETERS            306

               CHAP. XVI. THE LENTILS                312

               CHAP. XVII. THE SUBTERRANEOUS ROAD    318



                            PART THE SECOND.

                                CHAP. I.
                              THE REPAST.

My zeal has carried me farther than I should have imagined, added the
Prefect; it is time to think of what concerns thee. The air of Giphantia
is lively and full of active corpuscles; it keeps up the spirits; and,
in spite of the fatigues, thou hast endured in the desart, it does not
suffer thee to have the least sense of weariness, However, thou hast
need of a more solid food. I have ordered thee a Repast, and I will
regale thee after the manner of the elementary spirits.

We went out of the gallery; and the Prefect conducted me to a grotto, of
which the architecture was so strange, that I dare not venture to
describe it. The whole furniture was a marble table and a cane-chair, on
which he bid me sit down.

Whatever I saw at Giphantia was extraordinary, the Repast to which I was
invited was not less so. Thirty salt-sellers filled with salts of
different colours, were placed on the table in a circle round a fruit,
much like our melons. There was also a glass decanter full of water,
round which other salt-sellers formed another circle.

These preparations were not very tempting; I never had less appetite.
However, not to affront a host, to whom I was so much obliged, I tasted
the fruit that he offered me. The purest chymical earth purged of all
foreign matter, would have more taste. I forced myself to swallow a few
bits. I drank a glass of water: And I told the Prefect, that my strength
was more than sufficiently recruited, and if he pleased, we would
continue to visit the rarities of Giphantia.

Thou hast had (said he) the complaisance to taste the fruit and the
liquor, thou wilt farther oblige me to season them both. The salts which
stand round them have, perhaps, more virtue than thou art aware of. I
invite thee to try.

Upon these words, I viewed the salt-sellers more attentively, I saw that
each had a label; and I read upon those that surrounded the insipid
fruit, salt of woodcock, salt of quail, salt of wild-duck, salt of
trout, _&c._ Upon the others, I read, concrete juice of Rhenish, of
Champagne, of Burgundy, of Usquebaugh, of oil of Venus, of Citron, _&c._

Having taken a small slice of the fruit, I spread upon it a grain of one
of those salts; and putting it to my mouth I took it for the wing of an
ortolan. I looked upon the salt-seller from whence I had the salt, and
saw the word _ortolan_ on the label. Astonished at this phænomenon, I
spread upon another slice salt of turbot, and I thought I was eating one
of the finest turbots the channel ever produced. I tried the same
experiment upon the water; according to the salt I dissolved in it, I
drank wine of Beaune, of Nuis, of Chambertin, _&c._

My lord, (said I to the Prefect) you have shewn me the columns, the
globe, the mirrour, the pictures; I have admired the mechanism of these
masterpieces, and the wonderful skill of the elementary spirits; but
now, my admiration is turned to desire. Is a mortal allowed to enter
into the physical mysteries of the spirits? May I learn from you, this
invaluable secret of your saline powders.

Now-a-days more than ever, (added I) men (especially the Babylonians)
seek with eagerness whatever can please the senses; and one of the
things which raises the greatest emulation, is to have a table covered
with exquisite dainties. Their fore-fathers did not look upon a good
cook as a _person divine_. The most simple preparations sufficed for
their food: they thought no wines excelled those of their own country;
and sometimes those good men made a little too free with them. The
modern Babylonians disgusted at this simplicity, and hating hard
drinking, have taken a different method. They are become sober, but of a
sensual and ambitious sobriety, which, by unheard of extracts and
mixtures, perpetually creates new tastes. They search in the smallest
fibres of the animals for the purest substance, and, under the name of
essences, they inclose in a little phial the produce of what would
suffice for the nourishment of the most numerous families. The most
exquisite wines cannot satisfy their palate; they esteem nothing but
what is owing to a violence done to the order of nature’s productions.
They extract the most active spirit of wine, and thereto add all the
spices of India: And, with such liquors, seeds of fire, collected from
all the countries of the world, flow in their veins.

You see (continued I) that with the secret of your savoury
crystalizations, I should be able to satisfy the nicest palates, and
please the most curious lovers of variety. But what is much more
important, these saline extracts, which are not prepared by the
pernicious arts of the distiller and cook, these extracts, I say, would
not spoil the stomach in pleasing the taste; high health would revive
among us; the primitive constitutions would be restored by degrees; and
mankind would resume a new youthful vigour; in all respects, a man might
be a glutton without danger, and, that is saying a great deal of a vice,
which is become incorrigible.

I was not refused: In less than half an hour, the Prefect taught me the
whole art; I actually resolve the savours, with the same ease that
Newton did the colours. From all the fruits that go to decay, from all
the plants of no use, from even the herbs of the field, in a word, from
all bodies whatever, I extract all their savoury parts; I analyze these
parts; I reduce them to their primitive particles; and then uniting them
again in all imaginable proportions, I form saline powders, which give
such a taste as is desired. I can inclose in a small snuff-box,
wherewith to make in an instant a complete entertainment, courses,
ragouts, fricassees, deserts, coffee, tea, with all kinds of wine and
other liquors. From a single bit, though ever so insipid, I produce at
pleasure the wing of a partridge, the thigh of a woodcock, the tongue of
a carp, _&c._ From a decanter of water, I draw Tomar, Ai, Muscadine,
Malmsey, Chian wine, Lacryma Christi, and a thousand others.

My secret should have been publick before now; but all the advantages
accruing from it do not remove a fear, which, as will be seen, is surely
not without foundation. I am apprehensive that certain gentlemen,
incessantly busied to open new channels to convey to them the substance
of the people, may lay their greedy hands upon my salt, and undertake to
distribute it, charged with some light tax. These light taxes are known
always to grow heavier, and end with crushing; much like those
snow-balls, which, rolling down from the top of the mountains, and soon
growing immensely large, root up trees, throw down houses, and destroy
the fields. Let these gentlemen give in our newspapers, a positive
assurance that they will never meddle with the management of my savours;
the next day, I will publish my secret, distribute my powders, and
regale all Babylon.

I think I know the world: these gentlemen, you will see, will keep
silence, and I my salt, and so nobody will be regaled.


                               CHAP. II.
                              THE KERNELS.

My dinner ended and my lesson learnt, we sate out again. Let us (said
the Prefect) take the benefit of this long shady walk, and go to the
grove at the end of it. By the way, I will explain some matters relating
to what I am going to show thee.

Adam had just been driven out of Paradise, (continued the Prefect:) The
tree, from which the fatal apple was gathered, disappeared: Innocence,
everlasting peace, unmixt pleasure vanished; and death covered the earth
with her mournful vail. Witnesses of Adam’s sin and punishment, the
elementary spirits remained in a consternation mixt with astonishment
and fear. All was silent, like the dreadful calm, which, in a gloomy
night, succeeds the flashes of lightening.

One of our spirits perceiving on the ground the remains of the fatal
apple, hastily took them up, and found three Kernels: these were so many

The forbidden tree, which was the cause of Man’s misery, was to have
been the cause of his happiness. It contained the shoots of the
sciences, arts, and pleasures. The little, men know of these things, is
nothing in comparison of what this mysterious tree would have disclosed
in their favour. It was to vegetate, blossom, and bear seed for ever;
and the least of these seeds would have been the source of more delights
than ever existed among the children of men.

We took great care of the three Kernels, which had escaped the total
ruin just then befallen mankind; this was not sufficient to repair their
unhappy fate, but it helped to soften it. As soon as we were returned to
Giphantia, we consulted upon what we could do in favour of mankind so
terribly fallen. Most of the spirits took the office of governing the
elements, and, as far as lay in their power, of directing their motions,
according to the wants of men. Those that remained at Giphantia, were
entrusted with the sowing of the three Kernels, and carefully to mind
what they produced.

                               CHAP. III.
                             ANTIENT LOVE.

As we were talking we entered into a pretty large grove, in the midst of
which, I perceived a star formed by most beautiful shrubs. From every
part of these shrubs there darted forth a luminous matter, whereon were
painted all the colours of the rain-bow. Thus the sun, viewed through
the boughs of a thick tree, seems crowned with sparkling rays, on which
shine the liveliest and most variegated colours.

The first Kernel taken from the fatal apple and committed to the ground,
(said the Prefect of Giphantia) produced a shrub of the nature of those
thou seest. Its leaves were like those of the myrtle. Its purple
blossoms, speckled with white, were raised round their stalks in form of
pyramids. Its boughs were thick and interwoven with one another in a
thousand different ways. It was the most beautiful tree, nature had ever
produced, therefore it was her most favorite object. A soft zephyr,
gently moving its leaves, seemed to animate them; and never were they
ruffled by the impetuous north winds; never was the course of its sap
obstructed by winter’s frost, or its moisture exhausted by summer’s
scorching heats; an eternal spring reigned around it. This singular
tree, was the Tree of Love.

It is well known what influence the extraneous particles of the air have
upon us. Some accelerate or retard the motions of the blood, others dull
or raise the spirits, sometimes they brighten the imagination, and
sometimes they cloud it with the gloomy vapours of melancholy. Those
that were exhaled from the tree of Love, and dispersed over the earth,
brought the seeds of the most alluring pleasure. Till then, men, left to
a blind instinct, which inclined them to propagate their species, shared
that advantage (if it is one) with the rest of the animals. But, like a
flower which opens to the first rays of the sun, their hearts soon
yielded to the first impressions of love, and instinct gave place to

With that passion they received a new life; the face of nature seemed
changed; every thing became ingaging; every thing touched them.

The other passions disappeared, or were, in respect of this, like brooks
to a river in which they are going to be lost.

Superior to all events, love heightened pleasure, asswaged pain, and
gave a charm to things the most indifferent. It enlivened the graces of
youth, alleviated the infirmities of age, and lasted as long as life.

Its power was not confined to the creating a tender and unchangeable
attachment to the object beloved; it inspired also a certain sentiment
of sweetness, which was infused into all men, and united them together.
Society was then as an endless chain, each link was composed of two
hearts joined by love.

The pleasure of others was a torment to none: Gloomy jealousy had not
possessed the human heart, nor envy shed her venom there. Concord
multiplied pleasures: A man was not more pleased with his own, than with
the happiness of others.

Mankind was yet in infancy, and unacquainted with excesses. Adversity
did not depress them to annihilation, nor prosperity puff them up to the
loss of their senses. Their wants were few, the arts had not increased
them. Frightful poverty appeared not among them, because they knew not
riches; every one had necessaries, because none had superfluities. Utter
strangers to the ridiculousness of rank, they were not exalted with
insolence, nor did they servilely cringe; no man was low, because no man
was high. All was in order, and men were as happy as their state would
admit of. O nature! why dost thou not still enlighten us with those days
of peace, harmony, and love!


                               CHAP. IV.
                              THE GRAFTS.

The stinging nettle and wild briar increase and are renewed, (continued
the Prefect) the tree of Love had not that privilege. Its blossoms
vanished without leaving a kernel, and its shoots planted in the ground
did not take root; they died and nature groaned.

Mean while, this only tree was going to decay; its sap withdrew from
most of the branches, and the faded leaves withered on their boughs.

The elementary spirits were sensible how valuable the treasure was, that
the sons of men were going to lose, and were under the deepest concern
for them. They studied therefore to find the means to fix love upon
earth, and imagined they had succeeded.

They took from the languishing and exhausted tree, its best shoots and
grafted them upon different stocks. This precaution saved love, but at
the same time, altered its nature. Nourished by an extraneous sap, these
shoots and their emanations quickly degenerated: So the exotic plants
which grow in our gardens by the assiduous care of the gardiner, change
their nature, and lose almost all their virtues.

Love then existed among men; but what love? It sprung from caprice, was
attached without choice, and vanished with levity: It became such as it
is at this day amongst you. It is no longer that common band which
united mankind, and rendered them happy; it is on the contrary, an
inexhaustible fountain of discord. Formerly, it was stronger alone than
all the passions together; it was subject only to reason: Now, it is
overcome by the weakest passion, and hearkens to any thing but reason.

To say the truth; it is no longer Love: Phantoms have taken its place,
and receive the homage of men. One in the highest ranks only finds
objects worthy his vows; he thinks it love, it is only ambition. Another
fixes his heart where fortune is lavish of her gifts, he imagines, love
directs him, but it is thirst of riches. Another flies from where
delicateness of sentiments calls for his care and regard, and runs where
an easy object hardly gives him time to desire. What is the ground of
his haste? a depraved appetite for pleasure. Of pure, sincere, and
unmixt love there is none left; the grafts are quite spoiled.

At Babylon, degenerated love varied with the fashions, the manners, and
every thing else. At first it gave into the Romantick: This was in the
days of our good Knights Errant. It was all fire, transport, extasy. The
eye of the fair was a sun, the heart of the lover was a volcano, and the
rest of the same stamp.

In time, it was found, that all this was departing a little from nature;
in order therefore, to make it more natural, love was dressed like a
shepherd with a flock and pipe; and spoke the language of a swain. In
the heart of his noisy and tumultuous city, a Babylonian sung the
refreshing coolness of the groves, invited his mistress to drive her
flock thither, and offered to guard it against the wolves.

The pastoral language being drained, the sentiment was refined, and the
heart analysed. Never had love appeared so subtilised. To make a
tolerable compliment to a girl beloved, a man must have been a pretty
good metaphysician.

The Babylonians, weary of thinking so deeply, from the height of these
sublime metaphysicks fell into free speeches, double-meanings, and
wanton stories. Their behaviour was agreeable to their talk; and love,
after having been a valiant knight-errant, a whining shepherd and a
sublime metaphysician, is at last grown a libertine. It will soon become
a debauchee, if it is not so already; after which, nothing remains but
to turn religious; and this is what I expect.

Moreover, the Babylonians flatter themselves with being a people the
most respectful to the ladies, and boast of having it from their
ancestors. In this respect, as in all others, two things must be
distinguished at Babylon, the appearance and the reality. In appearance,
no place where women are more honoured; in reality, no place where they
are less esteemed. Outwardly, nothing but homages, inwardly, nothing but
contempt. It is even a principle at Babylon, that the men cannot have,
in an assembly, too much respect for the sex, nor, in private too


                                CHAP. V.
                         VOLUPTAS or PLEASURE.

We came out of the grove. Men (said I to the Prefect) are highly
indebted to you for preserving love, degenerated as it is. If you did
but know what a void there is among them now-a-days! Their amusements
are so few, that the least of all must be to them very valuable. Love no
longer makes their happiness; but it diverts them at least. What would
the Babylonians do, if love did not put in motion all those walking
statues, which you see so busy about the women? They sigh, they
complain, they request, they press, they obtain, they are happy or
dupes; it is just the same thing: But time passes, and that is enough
for the Babylonians.

“In the beginning (continued the Prefect) nature, ever attentive to the
welfare of men, begot Voluptas. She was an unadorned native beauty, but
full of those charms which characterises whatever comes out of the hands
of the common parent of all Beings. Nature gave her a golden cup, and
said: Go among men; draw pleasure out of my works; present it without
distinction to all mortals; quench their thirst, but make them not

Voluptas appeared upon earth. Men flocked together in crowds; all drank
largely of her cup; all quenched their thirst, none were intoxicated.
Voluptas made herself desired, presented herself seasonably, and was
always received with joy. As she offered herself with restriction, she
was always cherished and never cloyed. Men, not being enervated by
excess, preserved to a very advanced age, all their organs in vigor;
their taste remained; and old age still drank of Voluptas’s cup.

Nature has a rival, called Art, who, incessantly employed in rendering
himself useful or agreeable to society, strives to supply what nature
cannot or will not do for men. He resumes nature’s works, retouches
them, sometimes embellishes, often disguises and degrades them.

Art failed not to observe the conduct of Voluptas, and to refine
whatever she offered to mankind. He could not bear an interval between
pleasures, and would have them succeed one another without intermission.
He ransacked all the countries of the world, united all the objects of
sensuality, and multiplied a thousand ways the pleasures of sense. Men,
surrounded with so many alluring objects, thought themselves happy, and
in their intoxication, said: _Without Art, Nature is nothing_. But very
soon their senses were cloyed; satiety bred disgust, and disgust made
them indifferent to all kinds of pleasure. Neither Art nor Nature could
affect them to any degree. From that time, they have hardly been able to
amuse or divert themselves. Voluptas has no longer any charms for them.


                               CHAP. VI.
                            PERPETUAL YOUTH.

There is no place (continued the Prefect) where these dissipations,
supposed to supply the room of pure pleasure, are more necessary than at
Babylon; so there is no place where they are more frequent.

The Babylonians are known not to be made for much thinking, and, for
good reason, it is not desired they should think. A wise policy has
always proposed to keep as many employed as possible, and to amuse the

For these last it is, that the arts of amusement are incouraged, that
publick walks are kept up at a great charge, that spectacles of all
kinds are exhibited, and so many places tolerated, where gaming,
drinking, and licentiousness serve for food to these heedless men, who,
without these avocations, would not fail to disturb the society.

These various avocations fill up the moments of life to such a degree,
that there is no time for recollection, and for counting the years that
insensibly fly away. A man declines, decays, is bent under the load of
years, and he has not once thought of it.

Rather let us say, there is no old-age at Babylon, for men of this kind:
A perpetual Youth runs through their life; the same agitations in the
heart, the same dullness in the soul, and the same void in the mind.
Youths of twenty-five and of sixty, march with an equal pace to the same
end. The desires, eagernesses, sallies, excesses are the same. All
forgetful of themselves, still go on; and death alone is capable to stop
the career of these decrepid youths.

It is remarkable, that one day, one of those young old men, bethought
himself to make reflections. “When a man (said he) is come, like me, to
a certain age, he does not fully live, he dies by degrees, and he ought
successively to renounce whatever does not suit his state. There are
things that become nobody, which however are connived at in youth; but
which make an old man ridiculous. What business have I now with this
costly furniture, these splendid equipages, with this table served with
so much profusion? Am I excusable for keeping a mistress, whose
luxuriousness will not fail to ruin me in the end? does it become me to
appear still in those places, where licentiousness carries inconsiderate
youth? I will forsake a world for which I am no longer fit, and will
embrace that peaceful and retired life to which my declining age invites
me. What I shall retrench from my expences, I will give to my nephew,
who is coming; into the world, and should set out with some figure.
Since I am dying by degrees, so by degrees he ought to inherit.”

This resolution being taken and well taken, a friend of his comes to
visit him, sees him thoughtful, asks the reason and learns his design.
“What, (says he to him) have you not still spirit enough to withstand
reason? She knocks, and it is going to be opened! what do you mean?
Reason may be of use to a young man, to curb the fury of his passions;
but must be fatal to an old one, in totally extinguishing the little
relish he has left for pleasures. What a fine sight will it be, to see
Plutarch’s morals, Nicole’s essays, and Pascal’s thoughts lodged in thy
brain, close by Bocace’s novels, La Fontaine’s tales, and Rousseau’s
epigrams! Believe me: Reason is good only for those, who have cultivated
it long ago; heads made like ours cannot suit it. Our maxims and
reason’s are too contradictory; and instead of regulating, it would
throw all into disorder and confusion.”

“But (replied our new convert) dost thou know what thou art doing with
thy extraordinary eloquence? never was so much reason used to prove,
that we must act against reason. Come, let us go, my dear marquis, a
free supper waits us at the ... where the nymph, thou knowest, will
compleat my conviction: From thence we will go to the ball. Tomorrow,
champagne at your cousin the countess’s, and lansquenet, at our friend
the President’s.”

                               CHAP. VII.
                             THE ITCHINGS.

We walked toward the south. On this side, Giphantia ends in a point, and
forms a little promontory, from whence there is a large prospect. This
promontory is covered all over with a plant, whose boughs descend and
creep every way. This is the production of the second Kernel. The plant
never bears either leaves or blossoms, or fruit: It is formed by an
infinite number of very thin small fibres, which branch out of one

View carefully the fibres (says the Prefect to me.) Dost thou see at
their extremity, little longish bodies, which move so briskly? They are
small maggots, which this plant breeds; whether vegetation, carried
beyond its usual bounds, produces them; or whether there comes at the
extremity of the fibres, a sort of corruption, by which they are
engendered. In time, these maggots waste away so as to become invisible:
But withal they get wings, and growing flies, they disperse themselves
over the earth. There, they stick fast to men, and cease not to infest
them with a sting given them by nature. And as the tarantula, with the
poison which she leaves in the wound she has made, inspires an
immoderate desire to leap and dance, just so these small insects cause,
according to their different kinds, different Itchings. Such are the
itch of talking, the itch of writing, the itch of knowing, the itch of
shining, the itch of being known, with a hundred others. Hence, all the
motions, men put themselves into, all the efforts they make, all the
passions that stir them.

The sensation they feel on these occasions, is so manifestly such as we
are describing, that when any one is seen in an uncommon agitation of
body or mind, it is very usual to say, _What fly stings? what maggot
bites?_ Though nothing can be seen, it is perceived that the cause of so
many motions is a stinging: A man often finds it by experience, and
knows what it is owing to.

When once men are troubled with these restless prickings, they cannot be
quiet. He, for instance, that is stung with the itch of talking, is
continually discoursing with every body, correcting those that do not
need it, informing those that know more than himself. His visage opens,
lengthens, and shortens at pleasure: He laughs with those that laugh,
weeps with those that weep, without sharing the joy of the one, or the
grief of the other. If by chance he gives you room to say any thing,
speak fast and stop not; for, in an instant, he would begin again, and
take care not to be interrupted. Never does he lend an ear to any one;
and even when he seems to hold his tongue, he is still muttering to
himself. He despises nothing so much as those silent animals, who hear
little and speak still less; and he thinks no men more worthy of envy
than those, who have the talent of drawing a circle of admirers, of
raising the voice in the midst of them, and of saying nothings
incessantly applauded.

Sometimes the itch of talking is turned into the itch of writing; which
comes to the same thing; for writing, is talking to the whole world.
Then those torrents of words, which flow from the mouth, change their
course and flow from the pen ... what numbers of bablers in these silent
libraries! Oh how must those who have ears, and run over these immense
collections, be stunned with what they hear! They are like great fairs,
where each author cries up his wares to the utmost of his power, and
spares nothing to promote the sale. Come (says an Antient) come and
learn of me to practice virtue and become happy; come and draw from
these pure fountains, whose streams are polluted by the corruption of
men.... Come rather to me (cries a Modern) time and observation have
opened our eyes; we see things, and only want to show them to you....
Mind them not (says a Romancer) seek not truth there; truth still lies
in the bottom of Democritus’s well. Come therefore to me for amusement,
and I will help you to it. Come and read the life and exploits of the
duke of * * * *, the model of the court; he never attacked a girl
without debauching her; he has embroiled above fifty families, and
thrown whole towns into confusion: He must, it is plain, be one of the
most accomplished men of the age.... I have things to offer you, much
more interesting than all this, (says a Versifier) I have the prettiest
odes and finest songs in the world, little soft verses, nosegays for
Iris, and a complete collection of all the riddles and symbolical
letters, which for these ten years have puzzled the sagacity of the
strongest heads in Babylon.... Away with those trifles (says a Tragic
Poet) and come to me: I manage the passions as I please: I will force
tears from your eyes, transport you out of your senses, and make your
hair stand an end.... That is very kind indeed, (says a Comic Poet) but
I believe, it will be better to come to me, who will make you laugh at
all others and even at yourselves. I pity you all, (says a Man-hater)
burn me all those books there and mine too; and let there be no mention
of learning, arts, sciences, and the like wretched things; for it is I
that tell you, as long as you have any reason, you shall have neither
wisdom, nor conduct, nor happiness.

I say nothing of the itch of knowledge, which should always precede that
of writing, and which commonly follows it at a good distance, and often
never comes at all.

At Babylon, the itch of being singular, is like an epidemical disease.
It is pretty well known wherein the Babylonians are alike, but it would
be the work of an age, to say wherein they differ. Every one
distinguishes himself by some remarkable stroke. Hence comes the mode of
portraits, and the facility of drawing them. Draw them by fancy, you are
sure they will meet with a likeness; draw them after nature, you will
never fail of originals. There are some for the pulpit, for the use of
the orators who want grace, there are some for the theatre, for the use
of poets who want genius, there are some for writings of all kinds, for
the use of the authors who want ideas.

The most troublesome of all the itches produced by these insects, is the
itch of being known. Thou canst not conceive, what efforts are made by
all the men stung with this itch. I say all the men; for, who has not a
view to reputation and fame? The Artisan shows his work, the Gamester
his calculations, the Poet his images, the Orator his grand strokes, the
Scholar his discoveries, the General his campaigns, the Minister his
schemes. And even he that sees the nothingness of this chimæra, still
contemplates its charms, and sighs after it: Just so a lover, with a
troubled heart, strives to abandon a faithless mistress, from whom he
cannot bear to part. What designs, what efforts of imagination to make
one’s self talked of! how many things attempted and dropt! what hopes,
fears, cares, and follies of every kind!


                              CHAP. VIII.

What you tell me (says I) is very extraordinary. But I cannot see why
the elementary spirits raise and cultivate this plant with so great
care. They who wish us so much good, in this respect do us very little.
To behold men, stung to the quick, acting like madmen, losing their
senses for chimeras, is a thing, in my opinion, deserving pity; but
perhaps it may be an amusement to the elementary spirits.

Like many others (replied the Prefect) thou judgest and seest things but
in one view. The itches have their inconveniences; but that is nothing
in comparison of their advantages. Without the itch of talking and
writing, would eloquence be known? Would the sciences have been
transmitted and improved from generation to generation? Would not you be
like so many untaught children, without ideas, without knowledge,
without principles? Was it not for the itch of being known, who would
take the pains to amuse you, to instruct you, to be useful to you by the
most interesting discoveries? Without the itch of ruling, who would busy
themselves in unravelling the chaos of the laws, in hearing and judging
your quarrels, in watching for your safety? Without the itch of shining,
in what kingdom would policy find a vent for those respectable
knick-knacks wherewith she adorns those she is pleased to distinguish?
And yet, this kind of nothings are, for the good of the state, to be
acquired at the price even of blood. Thanks to our flies, there are some
mad enough to sacrifice all for their sake, and others fools enough to
behold them with veneration.

Take away our insects, and men stand stupidly ranged by one another,
like so many statues; let our insects fly, and these statues receive new
life, and are as busy as bees. One sings, another dances, this reads his
verses and falls into an extasy, that hears him and is tired: The
Chymist is at his furnace, the Speculatist in his study, the Merchant at
sea, the Astronomer discovers a new satellite, the Physician a new
medicine, the soldier a new manœuvre; in fine, the statues are men; and
all this is owing to this plant and our care.

I beg (said I to the Prefect) we may stand at a distance from this
admirable plant; I dread more than I can express, the neighbourhood of
these volatiles. I rejoice much to see them authors of so many benefits;
but I fear still more, the uneasiness they create.


                               CHAP. IX.
                             NIL ADMIRARI.

Your fearfulness, (says the Prefect) surprises me. Tell me, I pray, what
idea hast thou of what is called grandeur, dignities, and high rank in a

I am in this world (answered I) like a traveller, who goes on his way
curiously observing the objects, but desiring none, because he is but a
passenger. Moreover, if things are estimated according to the happiness
they procure, I do not think that the highest places should be much
valued; for, I see, they make no man happy, and are a misfortune to

What of riches? added the Prefect.

Pleasure (said I) is like a very rare commodity, which, however, every
one would fain purchase. Among those that succeed, the rich buy it very
dear, it comes cheap to the rest: One may as well be among the last as
the first. Of the few pleasures that exist, the lower class enjoy as
large a share as the highest.

What of wit, genius, talents? says the Prefect.

One half of the world, replied I, study to amuse the other. The first
class is formed of men of talents; whose brains are wound up by nature
higher than ordinary. They are incessantly striving to please: If they
fail, they waste away with grief; if they succeed, it is never fully,
and a single censure creates them more pain than all the encomiums
together give them pleasure. It is, therefore, better to be of the
second class, I mean among those who are amused by the others.

As far as I see, said the Prefect, the aspect of the great and their
pomp, of the scholar and his extensive genius, of the rich and his vast
possessions, makes little or no impression on thy mind.

I confess, replied I, that no man was ever less dazzled with all this
than myself. Wrapt in a certain coolness of sense, I am guarded against
all strong impressions. I behold with the same eye the ignorant who know
nothing, and the learned who know all, except truth; the protector who
plans, though he knows his weakness, and the protected who cringes,
though he perceives his superiority; the peasant that is disgusted with
the simplicity of his diet, and the rich sensual, who with thirty
niceties, can hardly make a dinner; the duchess, loaded with diamonds,
and the shepherdess decked with flowers; vanity, which dwells in the
cottage as well as in the palace, and upholds the low as well as the
high; care, which sits on the throne by the king, or follows the
philosopher in his retirement. All the parts on the stage of this world,
seem to me one no better than another: but I do not desire to act any. I
would observe all and be taken up with nothing. Hence it is, that I
dreaded the neighbourhood of these restless flies....

And hence it is precisely, interrupted the Prefect, that thou hadst
nothing to fear from them. Thou admirest nothing; it is sufficient: The
flies can take no hold of thee. The first impression they must make, is
the impression of surprise and admiration; if they make not that, they
miss their aim. But the moment admiration is admitted, a crowd of
passions quickly follow. For, in the object of wonder, great hurt or
great good is expected. Hence Love or Aversion, and all their
attendants; restless Desire which never sleeps; Joy, which embraces and
devours its objects; Melancholy, which, at a distance, and with weeping
eyes, contemplates and calls for what it dreads: Confidence, which walks
with head erect, and often meets a fall; Despair, which is preceded by
fear and followed by madness, and a thousand others. If thou wilt rest
secure from their attacks, cherish thy coolness of sense, and never lose
sight of the grand principle,

                             NIL ADMIRARI.


                                CHAP. X.
                         THE FANTASTICAL TREE.

After having walked some time by the side of a rivulet, we came into a
beautiful and spacious meadow. It was enamelled with a thousand sorts of
flowers, whose various colours were, at a distance, blended together and
formed shining carpets, such as art has never woven. The meadow was
bounded by a piece of rock, like a wall; against which grew a tree, like
an espalier. It did not rise above a man’s height, but spread itself to
the right and left, the length of the rock, above three hundred paces.
Its leaves were very thin and very narrow, but in such abundance, that
it was not possible to see the least part, either of the trunk or of the
branches, or of the surface of the rock.

Thou seest, said the Prefect, the product of the third and last Kernel;
we give it the name of the Fantastical Tree.

From this precious tree it is, that inventions, discoveries, arts and
sciences take their original; and that by a mechanism, which will
surprise thee.

Thou knowest that the fibres of the leaves of a tree, are ranged
uniformly on each of them; to see one, is to see all the rest. Here,
this uniformity has no place; each leaf has its fibres ranged in a
particular manner; there are not two alike in the Fantastical Tree. But,
what is most wonderful, the fibres, on each leaf, are ranged with
symmetry, and represent distinctly a thousand sorts of objects; one
while a colonnade, an obelisk, a decoration; another while mechanical
instruments; here, geometrical diagrams, algebraical problems,
astronomical systems; there, physical machines, chymical instruments,
plans of all kinds of works, verse, prose, conversation, history,
romances, songs, and the like.

These leaves do not fade. When come to perfection they grow by degrees
prodigiously small, and roll themselves up in a thousand folds. In this
state, they are so light, that the wind blows them away; and so small,
that they enter through the pores of the skin. Once admitted into the
blood, they circulate with the humours, and generally stop at the brain,
where they cause a singular malady, the progress of which is thus:

When one of the leaves is settled in the brain, it is imbibed, dilated,
opened, becomes such as it was on the Fantastical Tree, and presents to
the mind the images wherewith it is covered. During the operation, the
patient appears with his eyes fixed, and a pensive air. He seems to hear
and see what passes about him, but his thoughts are otherways employed.
He walks sometimes at a great rate, and sometimes stands stock-still. He
rubs his forehead, stamps with his foot, and bites his nails. They who
have seen a geometrician upon the solution of a problem, or a naturalist
on the first glimpse of a physical explication, must have observed these

This violent state proceeds from the efforts of the soul, to discern
what is traced on the leaf; it holds longer or shorter, according as the
leaf takes up more or less time in displaying, and aptly presenting

The abatement of the malady appears by light emanations from the brain,
such as some ideas suddenly conceived, some designs hastily thrown upon
paper, some scheme sketched in a hurry. The soul begins to discern the
objects, and contemplate at leisure the Fantastical leaf.

These last symptoms declare an approaching crisis, which quickly shows
itself in a general evacuation of all that has been transmitted to the
brain. Then verses flow, difficulties are cleared, problems are
resolved, phenomena are explained, dissertations are multiplied,
chapters are heaped upon chapters; and the whole takes the form of a
book, and the patient is cured. Of all the accidents which afflicted
him, there only remains an immoderate affection for the offspring of his
brain, of which he was delivered with so much pain.

                               CHAP. XI.

Behold, added the Prefect, showing me the extent of the Fantastical
Tree, behold leaves for a century of designs, of discoveries, and of
writings. Thou mayest examine at thy leisure what, during that space,
will torment above a million of heads.

I drew near, and attentively viewed a good while the wonderful tree,
especially those branches on which the sciences vegetated; and after
having examined it to the last boughs with all the attention and
exactness I am capable of, I think myself qualified to make here some

The historical branch has an admirable effect; all the events are
painted like a camayeu[14], as by the hand of the greatest masters. So
many leaves, so many little pictures. What will most surprise, is, that
these pictures, seen in different points of view, represent the same
subject, but represent it very variously: And, according to the manner
of beholding it, the same action appears courageous or rash, zealous or
fanatical, rational or silly, proud or magnanimous. So, according to the
point of view, wherein these leaves present themselves to the brain of
an historian, he will see things in a good or bad light, and will write
accordingly. I would not have such works entitled, _The history of what
passed in such a time_, but rather, _The manner in which such an author
saw what passed_. Moreover this branch is plentifully furnished, and
should be so. As long as there are men, there will be ambition,
traitors, disturbers of the publick peace, merit will be forgotten and
the worthless preferred, virtue will be oppressed, vice will be
triumphant, countries will be ravaged, cities will be sacked, and
thrones will be dyed in blood; and these are the food of history;
excellent school, for youth to learn lessons of humanity, candor, and

The metaphysical branch is almost equally furnished: But its leaves are
very thin, and their fibres so excessively small, that they are hardly
perceivable. I greatly pity the brains where they will settle. I see but
one way to give them ease: And that is, to treat the most thorny
questions after the modern manner; I mean to supply the want of clear
ideas and deep reflections, by bold and confident assertions, which may
serve to impose.

The moral branch droops, and receives scarce any sap; its withered
leaves declare an approaching decay; alas! it is dying. The plans on it
are quite effaced. This is too visible from the works that are published
of this kind. The ideas of good and evil are confounded; virtue is so
disguised as hardly to be known, nor is it easy to discern what is to be
called vice. And yet, the whole is not said. There remains many
arguments to be published against the obsolete notion of justice; many
jests to be passed upon those who still talk of probity in the old
fashioned stile; many fresh proofs to demonstrate, that national,
private, and especially personal interest, should be the sole rule of
conduct. At these so fine lessons, the Babylonians will clap their hands
and cry: “In truth, all the world was blind; and men did not see clearly
till this present time.”

The poetical branch is in a very bad state; there are only a few boughs
left, among others, the dramatic bough, and that so very weak, it can
hardly support itself. There will appear from time to time at Babylon
some tragic poets, but no comic. I suspect the reason. Formerly the
Babylonians were only ridiculous; they were brought upon the stage and
people laughed: Now, they are almost all vicious, but vicious upon
principle; and such objects by no means raise laughter. The manners
begin to be no longer theatrical.

The panegyrical branch is very considerable, and bends under its load.
There will be panegyricks applicable to a great man from whom some
favour is expected; to an author who having flattered, receives homage
for homage; to another, who is flattered, in order that he may flatter
again. There will be some commercial ones, which will be sold, to one
for his protection, to another for his table, to a third for his money.
There will be also some, and in great plenty for those, who beg them:
But there will be hardly any for those that deserve them the most.

With good-sense alone, and the simplest notions which a bough of the
philosophical branch furnishes, and which teach to estimate the things
of this life according to their value, there will be formed, among the
people, a number of practical philosophers; whilst, among the men of
letters, all the penetration imaginable, all the knowledge they think
they have, all the wit in the world will form only imperfect
philosophers. They will avoid praises, but so as to attain them by some
round-about way. They will profess the most ardent zeal for all the
citizens, nay, for all men in general; but they will care only for
themselves. They will decide upon the most complicated, the most
obscure, the most important questions, with an astonishing confidence;
but in deciding everything they will clear up nothing. They will wear
outwardly the most reserved modesty; inwardly they will be eaten up by
ambition. Now, shall we call such persons philosophers? It is thus that
we give the name of stars to those meteors, which kindle sometimes in
the upper region of the air, make a blaze, and instantly vanish.

In general, I thought, I saw upon a great number of leaves, things
entirely contradictory. The century will slide away, and the sentiments
upon the same objects will not be reconciled. According to custom, each
will speak his opinion, and attack the rest. Disputes will arise; and
the most bitter ironies, the strongest invectives, the most cutting
railleries, nothing will be spared to raise the laughter of the crowd,
and the pity of the wise.


                               CHAP. XII.
                              THE SYSTEM.

Of an infinite number of plans of different works, that I saw drawn on
the leaves of the Fantastical Tree, I remember three. In the first, the
point in question is very abstract, but treated in so singular a manner,
that perhaps it will not be disagreeable to give here a slight sketch of

“When I have examined matter, it has appeared to me, that it could not
think, and I have readily admitted Beings purely spiritual. It is true,
the least ideas of such substances have never been formed. This proves
the sagacity of man does not reach very far: But does it prove there is
nothing beyond?

“When I have considered the animals, I have not been able to help
thinking them intelligent, and that so much ingenuity was not without
some understanding. They are, therefore, said I, provided with a
spiritual substance. But what! these insects, these worms, these
microscopical animals, who increase without number in the shortest
space, have they each a spiritual, that is to say, an unchangeable,
immortal soul? I do not imagine, any such thought ever entered into a
sound head.

“Then calling to mind that intelligent Being diffused through the whole
earth, and perhaps farther, that immense spirit of whom some antient
philosophers have talked, under the name of the universal soul; I have
thought that, without multiplying infinitely spiritual substances, that
soul was very proper to supply their place, and alone sufficient to give
life to all the animals. I have therefore embraced the opinion of the
antients, but with one restriction.

“They were persuaded that every thinking organized Being, is animated by
a particle of the universal soul; That cannot be. If this soul is
capable of perceptions, it is spiritual, and indivisible, and if it is
indivisible, it cannot separate from itself any part to go and animate
any Being whatever. If this spirit informs different bodies, it is
because it operates at the same time in different places; and not
because it sends any where some emanation of its substance.

“Farther: The antients believed that man, like the animals, derived from
the universal soul all the intelligence he is endowed with; another
mistake. If we consider in man, that hidden principle which carries him
so efficaciously to follow the impressions of sense, though ever so
repugnant to reason, we shall agree, with the antients, that this
principle must be the same with that which animates, rules, and directs
the animals; the pure sensitive nature of the universal soul is visible
in it. But when I perceive in man another agent, which tends to subject
all his actions to the rules of justice; which so often opposes the
senses (though seldom with success) which, even when it succeeds not to
hinder the sin, never fails to sting him with remorse and repentance; I
cannot help thinking, that besides the universal spirit, there is in man
another principle of a superior order: A principle known by the name of
rational soul. It is manifest by the clashing between the passions and
reason, that there are in us two contradictory Beings, which oppose one
another. If I may be allowed to compare things of so different a nature,
I should say that every thing which partakes of the universal soul is
like a spunge soaked in water, and immersed in the sea; and that if,
moreover, the body is endued with a reasonable soul (which is the case
of man) it is like the same spunge soaked in water, but in which a drop
of oil has found its way.

“In fine, the antients believed, that the universal soul was diffused
every where; but neither can That be. Perhaps it pervades the
terrestrial globe, or, it may be, the whole solar system, or even
farther: But still it is certain, it has its bounds, it is God alone
that fills immensity.

“But how shall the existence of a thinking Being be admitted, which,
bounded as it is, has however so prodigious an extension? What ideas can
be formed of its capaciousness and its limits? How can it animate so
many bodies physically separated one from the other, and forming so many
individuals? Let us fathom, as far as in us lies, these depths of

“Since spiritual substances have no solidity, they are penetrable, and
take up no room. From their penetrability it follows, that several
spirits may exist in one and the same space, and that a body may also be
in the same place. From their taking up no room it follows, that they
have neither length, nor breadth, nor depth; that they have no extension
properly so called. But still a spirit is a real Being, a substance:
Though it takes up no room, it is necessarily some-where; and, though it
has no extension properly so called, it has necessarily its bounds. So,
in a metaphysical sense, all spiritual Beings may be said to be more or
less extended, to contain, and to be contained: And then we may return
to our companion of the spunge, penetrated by a drop of oil, impregnated
with water, and immersed in the sea.”

“On the other hand, by virtue of the laws of combination, the result of
the unions necessarily differs from the substances that are united; and
it does not appear, that the soul and the body should make an exception.
When the spirit and matter are united, think not the spirit the same as
before; it is, in some measure, materialized; think not the matter such
as it was before; it is, in some measure, spiritualized. From this
mixture results a new Being, different from pure spirit, though it
retains its noblest virtue; different from brute matter, though it
partakes of its qualities: It is a particular Being, forming an
individual, and thinking apart; in fine, it is such a Being as you that
are reading, such as I that am writing. Therefore, what perceives in us,
is properly speaking, neither the universal spirit nor the rational
soul, nor organized matter: but a compound of all three. Just as when a
lion roars, it is not the universal soul, that is in a rage; it is the
compound of that soul and the brain of the lion. Hence it comes, that
each animal forms a separate thinking individual, though all the animals
think only by virtue of one and the same spirit, the universal soul. Let
us proceed without losing sight of the faint light which guides us thro’
these dark paths.

“We have seen that, to form an animal, there needs only a combination of
organized matter, and the universal soul; and, to form a man, there must
be another union of organized matter, universal spirit, and rational
soul. If the universal spirit was wanting; ever obedient to the dictates
of the rational soul, we should see none but virtuous and spotless men,
such as are no where to be found. If the rational soul was wanting,
abandoned to this instinct of the universal spirit, which always follows
the allurements of sense, we should see none but monsters of vice and

“The rational soul is united to the human body, the instant the motion
essential to life is settled there, it is separated the instant that
motion is destroyed; and, once separated, it is known to return no more,
it departs for-ever; and enters into a state of which there is to be no

“The universal soul is united and separated in the same circumstances:
But it is not always separated for-ever. Let, in any person, the motion
essential to life, after having totally ceased, come to be renewed, (a
thing which every physician knows to be very possible) and what will be
the consequence? The rational soul, which departed upon the ceasing of
the vital motion, cannot return; but the universal soul, always present,
cannot fail of re-uniting with the organized body set in motion again.
The man is dead, for his soul is separated from his body. He preserves,
however, the air of a living man; because the universal soul is
re-settled in his brain, which it directs tolerably well.

“Such to you appears a person perfectly recovered from an apoplectic or
lethargic fit, who is but half come to life; his soul is flown; there
remains only the universal spirit. Excess of joy, or of grief, any
sudden opposition may occasion death, and does occasion it, in fact,
oftener than is imagined. Let a fit of jealousy or passion affect you to
a certain degree, your soul, too strongly shocked, quits its habitation
for-ever: And, let your friends say what they please, or say what you
will yourself, you are dead, positively dead. However, you are not
buried: the universal soul acts your part to the deception of the whole
world, and even of yourself.

“Do not complain therefore, that a relation forgets you, that a friend
forsakes you, that a wife betrays you. Alas! perhaps it is a good while
since you had a wife, or relations, or friends; they are dead; their
images only remain.

“How many deaths of this kind have I seen at Babylon? Never, for
instance, did contagious distemper make such havock as the late pious
broils. It is true, the Babylonians are so constituted, that their soul
sits very loose; the least shock parts it from the body; this is
confirmed by observation. Call to mind their notorious quarrel about
musick, their rage, their fury: How few heads were untouched? They are
mad, said some reasonable people: But for my part, I knew they were

“God rest the soul of the author of the _Petites Lettres a de grands
Philosophes!_ He had long been declining; and at last died some months
ago. Instantly, the universal soul, possessed of his brains, dislodged
some shreds of verses, jumbled them together, and framed that lifeless
comedy, the indecency of which gave offence to all the Babylonians that
remained _alive_.

“I shall now speak of the signs by which the living may be distinguished
from the dead: And, doubtless, the reader sees already what these signs
may be. To behold wickedness with unconcern; to be unmoved by virtue, to
mind only self-interest; and without remorse, to be carried away with
the torrent of the age, are signs of death. Be assured, no rational soul
inhabits such abandoned machines. What numbers of dead amongst us! you
will say. What numbers of dead amongst us! will I answer.

“As there are signs which declare that such a particular person, who
thinks himself, and whom you think full of life, is however deprived of
it; so there are signs which show the ravages, these concealed deaths
have made in the world. For instance, there must have been, of late
years, a great mortality among the learned: For, if you observe almost
all the productions of modern literature, you will find only a playing
with words, destructive principles, dangerous assertions, dazzling
hints. Alas! our authors are manifestly but machines, actuated by the
universal soul.

“And, very lately, have we not had fresh proofs of this mortality? What
is meant by these libels unworthy of the light? These _when’s_? These
_if’s_? These _what-d’ye-calls_? These _wherefore’s_? And I know not how
many more with which we are deluged. Be not persuaded that rational
souls are capable of such excesses.

“I will conclude with opening a door to new reflections. Suppose a man,
like so many others, vegetates only, and is reduced to the universal
soul, I demand whether the race of such a man is not in the same state.
If so, I pity our posterity. Rational souls were scarce among our
fore-fathers; they are still more so among us; surely there will be none
left among our offspring. All are degenerating, and we are very near the
last stage.”


                              CHAP. XIII.
                        LETTER TO THE EUROPEANS.

The second of the works, of which I remember to have seen the plan
delineated on the leaves of the Fantastical tree, was digested into the
form of a letter, addressed to all the nations of Europe, the substance
of which is as follows:

“O ye powerful nations of Europe; nations polished, ingenious, learned,
warlike, made to command the rest; nations the most accomplished upon
earth; the times are come: Your profound schemes for the happiness of
man have prospered: You enjoy it at length, and I congratulate you upon

“In nature’s infancy, those uncivilised ages wherein men wandering in
the fields, were fed with the products of the earth, a perfect security,
easy pleasure, profound peace, or rather languishing indolence benumbed
all the faculties of the soul. But when the sweets of property had
flattered the human heart; when each had his inclosure and could say,
_This is mine_; then all was in motion. A man had too much of one thing,
and too little of another; he gave the superfluity for what he wanted:
And trade was established. It was at first carried on among neighbours;
then, from country to country; and at last, from one of the quarters of
the world to the other three. From that time, mankind have formed but
one numerous family, whose members are incessantly employed in cheating
one another. The spirit of distrust, finess, and fraud, have displayed
all the springs of the soul; the talents have shown themselves, the arts
have taken birth; and men begin to enjoy the full extent of their

“How well these profound speculatists have conjectured, who have told
us: _Would you have a state flourish? incourage populousness; for real
strength and riches consist in a great number of citizens. To incourage
populousness, enlarge trade more and more, set up manufactures,
introduce arts of every kind; and, to consume superfluities, call in
luxury._ Let the names of those who have opened this admirable way, be
carefully preserved in our kalendar.

“It is true, by following this method, you have missed your aim, which
was populousness. What fortune soever a man may raise, it is consumed by
the boundless expence of luxury, which always exceeds the revenues:
There is nothing left for the education and settlement of children; and
means must be used to have a small number, or even none at all. Long
races suit only those remote times when your ancestors, plentifully
furnished with necessaries, were so unfortunate as to have no idea of
pageantry. It is no wonder, if people so barbarous as not to know silk,
lace, tea, chocolate, Burgundy, Champagne, should so increase in the
northern regions, as to over-run, like a torrent, all your countries,
should found monarchies, and dictate laws, which are revered to this

“But what signifies populousness and multitude? Rejoice, O ye fortunate
nations; for you have coffee and snuff, cinnamon and musk, sugar and
furs, tea and china. How happy are you! and how composed should your
minds be!

“It is true, toils, hunger, thirst, shoals, storms, sooner or later
destroy these insatiable traders, who traverse the seas to bring you
these precious superfluities. But with how many advantages are these
petty inconveniences repaid? The face of Europe is entirely new! even to
your constitutions all is changed. Thousands of quintals of spices,
circulate in your blood, carry fire into your inmost nerves, and give
you a new sort of Being. Neither your health, nor your diseases are like
those of your fore-fathers. Their robust constitution, simplicity of
manners, their native virtues, are they comparable to the advantages you
enjoy? That sensibility of the organs, that delicacy of mind and body,
those universal lights, those vices of all kinds.... What! will it be
said, are vices also to be reckoned among the actual felicities of
Europe? Yes, without doubt: Is it not daily proved, that virtue
heretofore might be useful to the prudent economy of your ancestors, but
that, for enlightened citizens, who no longer walk by the old rules,
vice is absolutely necessary, or rather changes its nature and becomes

“Another advantage that you owe to the depth of your policy and
extensiveness of your trade is, that perpetual occasions offer to show
your courage, and to practice your military virtues.

“When formerly your countries were under that vast dominion, which
swallowed up all the rest, they sunk into indolence; you had only short
wars and long intervals of peace, every thing languished. But since, out
of the wrecks of that unwieldy empire, a hundred petty states have been
formed, every thing has revived. The Europeans have incessantly
quarrelled and fought for little spots of land; the grand art of heroism
is returned, the art of sacking provinces and shedding blood: And that
balance of power so much talked of, is at last established, which puts
all Europe in arms at the motion of the least of its parts, and by means
of which, a single spark is sufficient to set the whole earth in a

“Let us not regret those times so productive of warriors, when country
heroes, each at the head of two or three hundred vassals, continually
harrassed one another. The seeds of dissention, which were grown scarce
in your climates, have been sought in the farthest parts of the earth;
and from the bosom of the two Indias, commerce has brought fresh seeds
of enmity, discord, and war.

“These fertile sources are not exhausted; there still remain countries
to be discovered. O ye indefatigable nations! is your courage abated?
What! should you confine yourselves to your late progresses, as if there
remained no unknown lands? Will you never go and hoist your standards,
and build forts, directly under the Poles? Rouse yourselves, there are
still left riches to plunder, countries to waste, blood to spill.

“But why should you cast your eyes on such objects? Are not your
possessions immense? Is not your luxury carried to the utmost height?
Are there still new vices to be introduced among you? And do not you
begin to shake off the troublesome yoke of every sort of duty? Without
doubt, you are very well, nor were you ever better. The little way you
have to arrive at perfection, will soon be gone over. When modern
wisdom, which timorously conceals herself still in the shade, shall
appear in broad day; when she shall have raised her proud head, and
shall see all Europe at her feet, universally adopting her maxims, then,
you will have neither religious nor moral principles; you will be at the
summit of felicity.”

                               CHAP. XIV.
                              THE MAXIMS.

The third work of which I remember to have seen the sketch on the
Fantastical Tree, was entitled, _Rules of Conduct for the Eighteenth
Century, addressed to a young Babylonian, who is coming into the world_.
It contained the following Maxims.

“Every country has its customs, every age its manners; and, in human
wisdom, the only unchangeable Maxim is, to change with the times and
places. The most unquestionable Maxims of the Babylonians, and of the
present times are such as these:

“To have true merit does not much signify; but to have small talents is
essential. To make one’s court, for example, and pretty verses, is
sufficient to prosper: and even farther than can be imagined.

“Great faults shall be forgiven you, but the least ridiculous ones are
unpardonable. You think right, and say excellent things: But take care
you do not sneeze; it will be such an indecorum, that all the Babylonish
gravity would not be able to hold; and you might speak still better
things, and not a soul hear you.

“Be particularly careful to act entirely with reference to yourself, and
to talk always with reference to the publick-good. It is a fine word,
that _publick-good_: If you would, it will never enter into your heart;
but it must be always in your mouth.

“Seek not the esteem of the Babylonians in place, that leads to nothing;
seek to please. What, think you, will esteem do for you? It is so frozen
a sentiment, has so distant a relation to _self_! But amuse their
highnesses, and their eminencies, you will then be prized, they will not
suffer you out of their sight; they will do all for you, and think they
can never do enough.

“Wait not to sollicit for a place you may be fit for; probably you will
not succeed. But ask, without distinction, for whatever shall offer. It
is a secret to you, but you must know, that it often enters into the
depth of true policy, to prefer unfit persons, and remove those that are

“In fine, if you will prosper, turn, according to circumstances,
flatterer, like a dedication; quack, like a preface; verbose like a book
of art or science; enthusiast, like a demi-philosopher; liar, like an
historian; fool-hardy, like an author who is resolved to be talked of.

“These are the true principles of wisdom: But remember, it is the
Babylonian wisdom of the Eighteenth Century.”

                               CHAP. XV.
                           THE THERMOMETERS.

As I was attentively examining a leaf of the Fantastical Tree, on which
I perceived grand projects, and insufficient means; I saw another, so
small and curled as to be almost invisible, fly off from a neighbouring
bough, and suddenly disappear. At the same instant I felt a slight
pricking in my forehead, and a sort of restlessness in my head, which I
cannot describe, and which has not left me ever since.

Certainly this leaf has entered my brain, and is labouring to unfold
itself; some new invention will result from it one time or other. I even
begin to suspect of what kind; and I imagine, it will be a mechanical
affair. If I am not mistaken it is this:

The different tempers, the different talents, the different dispositions
depend upon the heat and motion, more or less considerable, of the
animal spirits: This is a settled point among the physicians; I shall
not appeal from their judgment. The question would be to find a
mechanical instrument, to discover in each person the degree of heat and
motion of this animal liquid, in order to discern what any one is fit
for, and to employ him accordingly. This is what I am seeking, and what
the leaf, which is busy in my brain, when unfolded will not fail to show

I will compose a quintessence analogous to the animal liquid; and,
instead of spirits of wine, I will fill thermometers with it. On the
side of the tube, in the room of the different degrees of the
temperature of the air, there shall be an enumeration of the objects,
about which men are usually employed: Instead of cold, temperate, hot,
very hot, _&c._ shall be put, good for history, good for physick, good
for poetry, good for the gown, good for the sword, good for the mitre,
good for the baton, good for Bedlam, _&c._

When a person shall put his hand upon the phial, the liquor will be
condensed, or dilated; and, rising or falling in the tube, will show
what the person is good for.

I will present Thermometers to sovereigns, that they may chuse Generals,
Ministers, Counsellors, and especially Favourites, who will love them
enough to tell them the truth. I will give some to Bishops to fill their
Benefices and Dignities, for I observe, that those who are appointed to
watch, should themselves be watched. I will give some to Fathers, that
their children may be wisely disposed of: We shall not see them gird
with a sword a son whom they ought to dedicate to the altar, nor bury in
a cloister a daughter who would have been the delight of a husband, and
the happiness of a family. I will give some to the Great, that they may
discern those who deserve their protection: They will grant it no more
to a base flatterer, to a supple intriguer, to an ostentatious mean
person, who has pretensions; but to true merit, which is seldom seen by
them, and never with all its advantages. I will give some to those
tender-hearted virtuous Girls, made to enliven the small number of our
pleasures, and to allay the multitude of our troubles. With my
Thermometers, they will chuse husbands worthy of their affection, if any
such there be; and they will not see themselves given up to men born for
the plague of their sex; those men without morals, who marry for life,
and espouse only for six months.

In fine, I will give some to particular persons, that each may examine
himself, and act accordingly: For I observe, that generally every one
does what he should not do; I see none but what are misplaced.

I am now solliciting for a pension, to defray the vast expence, that I
must evidently be at in making Thermometers, even though I should give
them only to such as most want them.

It is true, that reflection might serve instead of my liquid and
glass-tubes, but reflections are known to be very rare. For example, it
is now at Babylon as on the real stage; all is action, nothing is
thought, and my Thermometers may become a necessary piece of furniture.

                               CHAP. XVI.
                              THE LENTILS.

The sap which circulates in the Fantastical Tree, said the Prefect, is
exhausted in bearing and nourishing leaves. Let it be considered, how
many plans, views, projects, come into men’s heads; the prodigious
quantity of leaves that this tree must furnish will be astonishing; and
it will be no longer wondered, that its whole substance is wasted in
their production.

Mean while, the sap, passing into the philosophical branch, makes more
progress there than any where else; it produces blossoms, and sometimes
fruit. These blossoms are of a singular form and colour, that is to say,
admirable to some eyes, and very odd to others. Their odour is very
penetrating; few love it, many cannot bear it: To like it, requires a
strong head, and a brain organized on purpose.

These same blossoms are extremely delicate: The least change of the air
disorders their economy. They generally fade without leaving any fruit.

In fine, the fruit is very late, and seldom comes to perfect maturity.
The shell is almost round, divided within into little cells, and ending
at the top in a crown.

The little cells of the philosophical fruit, are full of seeds
transparent as crystal, round and flatted like a Lentil, but infinitely
smaller. When the fruit is ripe, it bursts; the cells open, the seeds
come out. But as they are very light, they are suspended in the air, and
the wind blows them every way over the surface of the earth.

One thing would astonish thee if thou wast not a little versed in
chymistry and optics, and that is, these philosophical grains have a
particular analogy to the eye. They will not stick to any other
substance; but, as soon as they come within the reach of certain eyes,
they never fail to fasten on them, and that just before the sight of the
eye. As they are perfectly transparent, they cannot be perceived: But
they are discovered by their effects.

He that has a seed of this kind before his eyes, sees things as they
are, and he cannot be imposed upon by chimæras. What used to appear to
him _great_, is prodigiously lessened, and what appeared to him
_little_, is magnified in the same proportion; so that to his eyes,
every thing is upon a level or nearly so.

In general, men appear to him very little, and those lords over others,
whom he beheld before as colossuses, seem to him so little above the
rest, that he hardly perceives the difference.

He sees the extent of human knowledge, and finds it so near to
ignorance, that he does not conceive how learning can breed vanity, or
ignorance cause shame.

He sees without disguise the phantom of immortality, the idol of the
great and the jest of the wise. He sees the celebrated names penetrate a
little more or less into futurity; and then stop like the rest and sink
into eternal oblivion.

He sees what is low in the most sublime; the dark part of what casts the
most lustre, the weak side in what appears the strongest: And his
imagination presents to him nothing dazzling, but wherein his reason
discovers all the defects.

He sees the earth, as a point in the boundless space; the series of
ages, as an instant in eternal duration; and the chain of human actions,
as the traces of a cloud of flies in the aerial plains.

In fine, he respects virtue; and, as to the rest, whatever he perceives
all around him, even to the most minute things, seems to him all alike.
He esteems nothing, he despises nothing, he prefers nothing, and
accommodates himself to every thing.

Such a man cannot be conceived to be susceptible of all those little
sallies of joy which affect others, but then he is screened from those
little mortifications which trouble them so much, and in my opinion, he
is a gainer.

                              CHAP. XVII.
                        THE SUBTERRANEOUS ROAD.

I have one thing more (said the Prefect) to show thee; prepare thy eyes
and thy ears; and be frightened at nothing.

The rivulet, by the side of which we walked to the Fantastical Tree,
receives several streams as it flows along; and, as if it left with
regret so beautiful a residence, after forming a thousand serpentine
windings in the meadow, it glides gently towards its mouth. In that
place, a hole, formed by an opening of the earth, receives and transmits
it through subterraneous channels.

We came to the place where it was broadest. The bottom was of smooth
gravel, and the water not above an inch deep. The Prefect went in and I
followed him.

I had gone but a few paces, when the bottom gave way: I sunk, but it was
only to my waste; and I remained in that posture, without being able to
get to one side or the other. Fear nothing, says the Prefect, calmly
enjoy the last spectacle I have reserved for thee.

I then gave myself up to the efforts of the waters, which carried me
away, and I soon entered into the subterraneous cavities, where they
were lost. At a little distance, the rivulet flowed into another, and
soon after, both ran into a river. I was carried from stream to stream;
I crossed gulphs, lakes, and seas.

As long as a faint light permitted, I contemplated the internal frame of
the earth. It is a labyrinth of immense caverns, deep grottos, irregular
crevices, which have a communication with one another. The waters that
flow in these subterranean places, spread themselves sometimes into vast
basons, and seem to stagnate; sometimes they run with a rapid stream
through narrow straits; and dash against the rocks with such
impetuosity, as to produce the phosporus and flashes of lightening; very
often they fall from the top of the vaults with a dreadful noise. The
dazzled eye sees, as it imagines, the foundations of the earth shake;
one would think, that the whole was turned upside down, and falling into

When the glimmering light, which I had enjoyed some time, came to fail,
I found myself buried in profound darkness, which increased the horror,
I had conceived at what I had seen. A hideous noise, mixed with the
murmuring of the streams, with the whistling of the gulfs, with the
roaring of the torrents, threw me into great perturbation of mind; and
my troubled fancy formed to itself a thousand frightful images.

I went on a good while in this darkness; and I know not how far I had
gone when a faint light struck my eyes. It was not like that which
precedes sun-rising, or follows sun-set; but that melancholy light,
which a town on fire spreads at a distance in the shade of the night. I
was some time before I saw whence it came: At last, I found myself close
to the most terrible of all the sights.

A vast opening exposed to my eyes in an immense cavern, an abyss of
fire. The devouring flame rapidly consumed the combustible matter with
which the arched roofs of the abyss were impregnated. A thick smoke
mixed with fiery sparks, diffused itself to a great distance. From time
to time, the calcined stones fell down by pieces, and the liquified
metals formed flaming streams. Sometimes whole rocks, rent from the tops
of the vaults, gave passage to water, which poured down in boiling
streams. The moment the water touched the calcined matters and melted
minerals, it caused most shocking detonations: The concavities of the
globe resounded, their foundations were shaken: And I conceived that
such was the cause of those terrible earth-quakes, that have destroyed
so many countries, and swallowed up so many cities.

I was soon in darkness again; for I still went on. Every moment I should
have been destroyed, if the Prefect of Giphantia had not watched over
me. I saw him no more: But his promise was with me: And the dangers, I
had escaped, heartened me against those I had still to undergo. By
degrees I took courage, and became so easy as to make some reflections.

Alas! said I, through a frightful desart I came into the most beautiful
mansions in the world, and I am now going thence through gulfs, abysses,
and vulcanos. Good and evil closely follow one another. It is thus, the
light of the day and darkness of the night, the frosts of the winter and
the flowers of the spring, the gentle zephyrs and the raging storms,
succeed one another. However, by this strange concatenation, is formed
the enchanting prospect of nature. Let us not doubt it: The natural
world, notwithstanding its disorders, is the master-piece of infinite
wisdom; the moral world, in spite of its stains, is worthy the
admiration of the philosopher: And Babylon, with all its faults, is the
chief city of the world.

At last, after many days of subterraneous navigation, I once more saw
the light; I came out of these terrible vaults, and the last current
landed me upon a maritime coast. The serenity of the air was not ruffled
with the wind; the calm sea shone with the rays of the rising-sun; and,
like a tender wife who stretches out her arms, and sweetly smiles on a
beloved husband, the earth seemed to resume new life at the return of
that glorious orb, from whence springs all its fertility. By degrees, my
troubled senses were calmed: I looked round me, and found myself in my
own country, six hundred furlongs north-west from Babylon, to which city
I address and dedicate this narrative of my hazardous travels.



Footnote 1:

  The Jansenists (so called from Jansenius bishop of Ypres) explained
  the Doctrine of Grace after the Calvinistical or rather Methodistical
  manner, whilst the Molinists (so named from Molina a Spanish Jesuit)
  explained it after the Arminian or rather Semi-pelagian way. The
  Gallican clergy were divided between these two Opinions.

  The reader may remember, there are three opinions concerning Grace.
  Says the Calvinist and Methodist, Grace does ALL. Says the Arminian
  and Semi-pelagian, Grace does HALF. Says the Pelagian, Grace does

Footnote 2:

  The city of Ombi stood on the eastern side of the Nile, and Tentyra or
  Tentyris on the western; both in Thebais part of Upper Egypt. The
  Tentyrites were professed enemies of the Crocodiles, whilst the rest
  of the Egyptians held them in great veneration, especially the
  Ombites, who for their sake waged war with the Tentyrites.

Footnote 3:

  Our author in this and the following chapter gives a very lively
  summary of the four great monarchies of the world.

   I. The Assyrian or Babylonian founded by Nimrod (or Belus I.) soon
  after the dispersion at Babel, and which ended with the taking of
  Babylon (A. C. 538) by Cyrus who founded II. The Persian empire which
  ended with the defeat of Darius Codomannus (A. C. 334) by Alexander
  the Great who founded III. The Grecian or Macedonian empire which in
  about five years was divided among his successors, and at length
  (after the battle of Actium and death of Cleopatra) became subject to
  IV. The Roman empire under Augustus Cæsar, of which there are still
  some remains.

Footnote 4:

  Arbaces governour of Media, and Belesis of Babylon.

Footnote 5:

  After the death of Sardanapalus (who is said to burn himself, his
  wives and concubines, his eunuchs and riches, in one of the courts of
  his palace) the empire was divided into the Median over which Arbaces
  reigned at Nineveh, and the Assyrian over which Belesis reigned at
  Babylon. These were united under Cyrus about 210 years after. Belesis
  (the Baladan of Scripture) is called also Nabonassar. From the first
  year of his reign begins the famous Astronomical Æra of Nabonassar,
  containing 908 years from February 26 before Christ 747, to the 23d
  year of Antoninus Pius in the year of our Lord 161.

Footnote 6:

  Nebuchadnezzer (A. C. 589) utterly destroyed Jerusalem, put out king
  Zedekiah’s eyes, killed his sons and erected the golden image in the
  plains of Dura.

Footnote 7:

  By a solemn treaty Ptolemy had Egypt, _&c._ Cassander had Macedonia
  and Greece. Lysimachus had Thrace, Bithynia, _&c._ Seleucus had Syria,
  _&c._ Of these, the kingdom of Egypt (under 14 monarchs including
  Cleopatra) and of Syria (under 27 kings) subsisted till subdued by the
  Romans. The rest soon fell to pieces.

Footnote 8:

  His Library is said to consist of above 200,000 volumes. Among the
  rest was the Septuagint or Greek translation of the Old Testament A.
  C. 267. done by Ptolemy’s order. This library was at last destroyed by

Footnote 9:

  This man who from a huntsman raised himself to the throne of Lusitania
  (now Portugal) defeated the Romans in several battles; so that Cepion
  the consul was forced at last to have him murdered by treachery. He
  was (says Livy) much lamented and honorably buried.

Footnote 10:

  Rome was taken by Alaric king of the Goths in 410. By Genseric the
  Vandal in 455. By Odoacer king of the Heruli in 465, and by Totila the
  Goth in 546, by whom it was miserably plundered.

Footnote 11:

  Attila king of the Huns, (called _the scourge of God_) after his other
  devastations entered Gaul with 500,000 Men and was defeated in the
  plains of Chalons in 451, with the loss of 200,000 Huns. After which
  he wasted Italy and destroyed Aquileia and other places. Then
  returning home, he died on his wedding night. The Huns were the most
  terrible of all the northern swarms. By the very terror of their
  countenances they are said to over-run the Scythians, Alans and Goths.
  They were so ignorant as not to know letters.

Footnote 12:

  Mahomet was born at Mecca in Arabia, May 5, 570. He is thought by some
  to be persuaded that he was really inspired to propagate the belief of
  one God, and to overthrow the idolatrous religion of his country. If
  he retained some absurd notions, it was (say they) to induce his
  countrymen to embrace his religion. The Mahometan æra begins July 16,
  622, when he fled from Mecca to Medina. He died Jan. 17, 631, after
  having reduced Arabia to his obedience. His religion has since spread
  itself over Asia, Africa, and great part of Europe.

Footnote 13:

  Soliman, father of the Othman race, came out of Scythia with 50,000
  men in the year 1214, and pushed his conquests to the Euphrates. In
  attempting to pass that river he was drowned in 1219. Othman his
  grandson was declared sultan in 1300. Mahomet II. the seventh emperor
  of the Turks, put an end to the Eastern empire by taking
  Constantinople in 1453. The Turks embraced the religion of Mahomet.

Footnote 14:

  Camayeu, is a stone, whereon are found various figures formed by
  nature. It is the name the orientals give the onyx, on which and on
  agate, these natural figures are often found. When the figures are
  perfected by art, it is still called a camayeu, as is also a painting
  in one colour, representing basso relievos.


                          TRANSCRIBER’S NOTES

 1. Changed all long ſ to short s.
 2. Added 200 to all page numbers in Part 2 to avoid conflicts with Part
      1 numbering.
 3. Silently corrected typographical errors and variations in spelling.
 4. Retained anachronistic, non-standard, and uncertain spellings as
 5. Footnotes have been re-indexed using numbers and collected together
      at the end of the last chapter.
 6. Enclosed italics font in _underscores_.
 7. Superscripts are denoted by a caret before a single superscript
      character or a series of superscripted characters enclosed in
      curly braces, e.g. M^r. or M^{ister}.

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