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desires are no less unjust and immoderate than their aversions. If they have an affection to another, he is st free from all manner of faults. All that they desire is just and easy ; whatever they do not desire, unjust and impossible; though there be no reason for these judget ments, other than that which overrules them. So that although they do not form this rational argument in their minds; I love him, therefore he is the most accomplished person in the world; I hate him, therefore he is a worthless rascal; yet they do it in their hearts; and therefore we may call these extravagancies, sophisms, and delusions of the heart, whose nature it is to transport our passions to the objects of our desires, which we therefore judge to be such as we would have, them; which is a thing most unreasonable, since our. desires change nothing of the Being of what is with=; out us, there being none but God alone whose will is so all powerful, that things are always what his pleasure, is they should be.
3d. We may also refer to this elusion of self-love, that other delusion of those who determine all things by this most general and convenient principle; viz. that they have reason, and know the truth. Whence it is no difficult thing for them to determine, that they who. think the contrary are deceived, for the conclusion ne-, cessarily follows.
The mistake of these persons proceeds only from. hence, that the good opinion which they have of their own wit causes them to believe all their thoughts to be so clear and evident, that the bare propounding of them is sufficient to make all the world submit; and for this reason they take little care to bring proofs,
They give little ear to the reasons, of others. They would carry the day by their own authority ; because they make no distinction between their authority and reason. They take all persons for inconsiderate who are not of their opinion; not considering that if others. be not of their judgments, they themselves are not of the opinions of others; and that it is not just to suppose without proof, that we have reason, when we make it our business to convince others, who differ from us,
perhaps for no other reason, but because they believe we are not in the right.
4th. There are others who reject certain opinions on no other ground than this pleasant argument: If it. were so, I should not be a learned person ; now I learned person, therefore it is not so. For this reason certain past profitable cures in physic have been neglected, and many certain experiments have been laid aside. They who had not the good luck to think of them were afraid to be thought to have been so long in an error. “How !" say they,“ if the blood had any circular motion in the body; if nature did not dread a vacuum ; if the air were ponderous, and had a 'tendency to move downward, I had been ignorant of many important things in natural philosophy, and therefore these things must not be so.” For the cure of such distempered fancies there needs but this wholesome instruction, that it is a small matter for a man to be deceived ; and that they may be learned in other things, though perhaps not so well versed in certain particular branches of study.
5th. There is nothing more common than to hear men revile one another, and tax each other of obstinacy, passion, and litigious wrangling, because they cannot agree in their opinions; so that they that are right, and they that are wrong, talk the same language, make the same complaints, and ascribe to each other the same defects; than which there is hardly to be found a greater mischief among men.
This obscures truth and error, justice and injustice, in such a manner that it is impossible for the common sort of men to discern them; and hence it happens that several men adhere at random, some to the one, and some to the other of the differing parties, and that others condemn both, as equally in the wrong.
Now all this captiousness of humour arises from this distemper, that every one is conceited of his own reason. For, from that principle it is easy to conclude that all who contradict us are opinionated; since obstinacy is nothing else but a stubborn refusal to submit to reason.
Though it be true, that these reproaches of being passionate, blind, and litigious, which are very unjust from those that are in the wrong, are just and lawful from those that are in the right; yet, because truth is supposed to be on the upbraider's side, prudent and judicious persons, that handle any matter in controversy, ought to avoid the use of them before they have sufficiently confirmed the truth and justice of the cause which they maintain, and not to accuse their advero saries of obstinacy, rashness, and want of common sense before they have well proved it. Let them not say, before they have made it appear, that their opponents talk absurdly and extravagantly; for the others will retort as much back again, and this is the way never to come to any issue. So that it will be much better to observe that equitable rule of St. Austin, “ Let us omit those common things that may be spoken on either side, though they cannot be spoken truly of either side,” And then it will be thought sufficient to defend the truth with those arms which are most proper, and which falsehood cannot borrow, which are clear and solid reasons.
6th. Men are not only fond of themselves, but naturally also jealous, envious, and maligners of each other, hardly enduring others to be preferred before them, and coveting all advantages to themselves; and as it is a thing that deserves great honour, to have found out any truth, or brought any new light into the world, all men have a secret desire to ravish that honour to them. selves; which often engages men to encounter the opinions and inventions of others without any shadow of reason.
Therefore, as self-love causes us frequently to utter these ridiculous sorts of reasoning- This is a thing of my own invention; this proceeded from some of my own profession ; this fits my humour, therefore it is true; so vatural malignity suggests another way of arguing no less absurd - It was another and not I that said it, therefore it is false; it was not I that made this book, therefore it is idle and silly.
When men under the influence of this spirit of con tradiction hear or read any thing of another man's, they take little heed of the reasons urged for their conviction, and mind only those which they think they can oppose. They are always upon the sentry against the truth, and think of nothing but how to repel and obscure it; in: which they generally prove successful, the wit of man being an inexhaustible spring of false reasons.
The knowledge of this malignant and envious disa position, which resides in the bottom of men's hearts, teaches us one of the most important rules that are to be observed, for fear of engaging those with whom we dispute into head long error, and alienating their minds from the love of that truth to which we endeavour to invite them; and that is, to say as little as may be to: irritate their envy and jealousy, by boasting of a man's self, or by speaking of other things on which those affections may lay hold.
Monsieur Pascal, who knew as much of rhetoric as any person in his time, extended this rule so far, as to affirm that every wise man ought to abstain from so much as naming himself, or making use of the words. I or me: and was wont to say on this subject, that Christian piety had abolished that human expression, I, which common civility had before only suppressed: not that this rule ought to be so exactly observed neither; for there are some occasions where it would be a vain torture to forbear the mention of a man's self.
But it is good to have this rule always before a man's eyes, that he may the more easily shun the evil custom of some persons, who never talk but of themselves, and are always quoting themselves, when there is no ques tion concerning their sentiments; which raises in their hearers a supposition, that this frequent mention of themselves arises from an immoderate degree of selfcomplacency, and, by a natural consequence, produces a secret aversion to whatever they say.
And this is that which shows. us that one of the most unworthy characters of a person of eminence is that which Montaigne affected; which is, to entertain his readers with nothing else but his own humours, his own inclinations, his own distempers, his virtues, and his vices: all which'arises as well from a defect of judge ment as from a violent love of himself. True it is, that
he endea rous to remove from himself the suspicion of a mean and popular vanity, speaking freely of his defects as well as of his good qualities; wherein there is something of comeliness through an appearance of sincerity: but it is easy to see that all this is but a kind of sport and artifice which ought to render him more odious. He speaks of his vices to display them to the world, not to cause a detestation of them, not ésteeming them any
diminution of his honours. He looks upon : them as things almost indifferent, and rather as pieces of gallantry than of ignominy. If he discover them, it is because he thinks they little concern him, and that he believes himself never the worse, nor more despicable for what he has done. But where he apprehends any blot or stain of his credit, no man is more cunning nor diligent to conceal it. For which reason an eminent author of this age very pleasantly observes, " That seeing he was so careful to little purpose, to inform us. that he had a page, a sort of servant little becoming a gentleman who had not above six thousand livres Tournois (about three hundred pounds) a year, he did not take the same care to tell us that he had a clerk too, seeing he was a counsellor in the parliament of Bourdeaux. But that employment, though very honourable in itself, was not sufficient to flatter the vanity of the man who would rather be thought a gentleman and a soldier, than one of the long robe and a pleader of
But the vanity of this author is not his worst crime: he is so full of shameless effrontery; so abounding in Epicurean and impious maxims, that it is a wonder he has been so long suffered to be public in the world, and that so many persons of great understanding have taken so little notice of the venom that spreads itself in his writings.
We need no other proof of his libertinism than his manner of repeating his vices. For, confessing in his book that he had been guilty of several criminal disorders, he declares that he never repented of any, and that if he were to live his life over again, he would again act the same things! “ As for myself," says he, " I would not desire in general to be other than I am.