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BAMBABEF. If God does not, as I thought, deceive us by the ministry of our senses, you will at least acknowledge that our physicians are constantly deceiving children for their good. They tell them that they are giving them sugar, when in reality they are giving them rhubarb. I, a fakir, may then deceive the people, who are as ignorant as children.

WHANG. I have two sons; I have never deceived them. When they have been sick, I have said to them :-“Here is a nauseous medicine; you must have the courage to take it: if it were pleasant, it would injure you." I have never suffered their nurses and tutors to make them afraid of ghosts, goblins, and witches. I have thereby made them wise and courageous citizens.



The people are not born so happily as your family.

Men all nearly resemble one another; they are born with the same dispositions. Their nature ought not to be corrupted.


We teach them errors, I own; but it is for their good. We make them believe that if they do not buy our blessed nails, if they do not expiate their sins by giving us money, they will, in another life, become post-horses, dogs, or lizards. This intimidates them, and they become good people.

WHANG. Do you not see that you are perverting these poor folks? There are among them many more than you think there are, who reason, who make a jest of your miracles and your superstitions; who see very clearly that they will not be turned into lizards, nor into posthorses. What is the consequence? They have good sense enough to perceive that you talk to them very impertinently; but they have not enough to elevate themselves to a religion pure and untrammelled by superstition like ours.

Their passions make them think there is no religion, because the only one that is taught them is ridiculous: thus you become guilty of all the vices into which they plunge.


Not at all; for we teach them none but good morals.


The people would stone you if you taught impure morals. Men are so constituted, that they like very well to do evil, but they will not have it preached to them. But a wise morality should not be mixed up with absurd fables: for by these impostures, which you might do without, you weaken that morality which you are forced to teach.


What! Do you think that truth can be taught to the people without the aid of fables ?

WHANG. I firmly believe it. Our literati are made of the same stuff as our tailors, our weavers, and our labourers. They worship a creating, rewarding, and avenging God. They do not sully their worship by absurd systems, nor by extravagant ceremonies. There are much fewer crimes among the lettered than among


people;—why should we not condescend to instruct our working classes as we do our literati ?


That would be great folly: as well might you wish them to have the same politeness, or to be all jurisconsults. It is neither possible nor desirable. There must be white bread for the master, and brown for the servant.

WHANG. I own that men should not all have the same science; but there are things necessary to all. It is necessary that each one should be just; and the surest way of inspiring all men with justice is, to inspire them with religion without superstition.

BAMBABEF. That is a fine project, but it is impracticable. Do you think it is sufficient for men to believe in a being that rewards and punishes? You have told me that the more acute among the people often revolt against fables. They will, in like manner, revolt against your truth. They will say, Who shall assure me that God punishes and rewards? Where is the proof? What mission have you? What miracle have you worked that I should believe in you? They will laugh at you much more than at me,


Your error is this. You imagine that men will spurn an idea that is honest, likely, and useful to every one; an idea which accords with human reason, because they reject things which are dishonest, absurd, useless, dangerous, and shocking to good sense.

The people are much disposed to believe their magistrates; and when their magistrates propose to them only a rational belief, they embrace it willingly. There is no need of prodigies to believe in a just God, who reads the heart of man : this is an idea too natural, too necessary, to be combatted. It is not necessary to know, precisely, how God rewards and punishes : to believe in his justice is enough. I assure you that I have seen whole towns with scarcely any other tenet; and that in them I have seen the most virtue.


Take heed what you say. You will find philosophers in these times, who will deny both pains and rewards.


But you will acknowledge that these philosophers will much more strongly deny your inventions; so you will gain nothing by that. Supposing that there are philosophers who do not agree with my principles, they are not the less honest men ; they do not the less cultivate virtue, which should be embraced through love, and not through fear. Moreover,' I maintain, that no philosopher can ever be assured that Providence does not reserve pains for the wicked, and rewards for the good. For, if they ask me who has told me that God punishes, I shall ask them who has told them that God does not punish. In short, f


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maintain that the philosophers, far from contra dicting, will aid me. Will you be a philosopher? ?

BAMBABEF. With all my heart. But do not tell the fakirs. And let us, above all, remember, that if a philosopher would be of service to human society, he must announce a God.


From the commencement of the time in which men began to reason, philosophers have agitated this question, which theologians have rendered unintelligible by their absurd subtleties upon grace. Locke is perhaps the first, who, without having the arrogance of announcing a general principle, has examined human nature by analysis. It has been disputed for three thousand years, whether the will is free or not;* Locke shows, that the question is absurd, and that liberty cannot belong to the will any more than colour and motion.

What is meant by the expression to be free? It sig. nifies

power, or rather it has no sense at all. To say that the will can, is in itself as ridiculous as if we said that it is yellow, or blue, round, or square. Will is will, and liberty is power. Let us gradually examine the chain of what passes within us, without confusing our minds with any scholastic terms, or antecedent principle.

It is proposed to you to ride on horseback, it is absolutely necessary for you to make a choice, for it is very clear that you must either go or not; there is no medium, you must absolutely do the one or the other. So far it is demonstrated that the will is not, free. You will get on horseback ? why? Because I will to do so, an ignoramus will say. This reply is an absurdity, nothing can be done without reason or cause. Your will then is caused by what? the agreeable idea which is presented to your brain; the predominant, or

• See the Essay on the Human Understanding, chapter on Power,

determinate idea; but, you will say, cannot I resist an idea which predominates over me? No, for what would be the cause of your resistance ? an idea by which your will is swayed still more despotically.

You receive your ideas, and, therefore, receive your will. You will then necessarily; consequently, the word liberty belongs not to will in any sense.

You ask me, how thought and will are formed within you? I answer, that I know nothing about it. I no more know how ideas are created, than I know how the world was formed. We are only allowed to grope in the dark in reference to all that inspires our incomprehensible machine.

Will, then, is not a faculty which can be called free. A free-will is a word absolutely void of sense; and that which scholars have called indifference, that is to say, will without cause, is a chimera, unworthy to be combatted."

In what then consists liberty? In the power of doing what we will ? . I would go into my cabinet, the door is open, I am free to enter. But say you, if the door is shut and I remain where I am, I remain freely? Let us explain ourselves ;-you then exercise the power that you possess of remaining, you possess this power, but not the power of going out.

Liberty, then, on which so many volumes have been written, reduced to its proper sense, is only the power of acting.

In what sense must the expression “ this man is free” be spoken? In the same sense in which we use the words health, strength, and happiness. Man is not always strong, healthy, or happy. A great passion, a great obstacle, may deprive him of his liberty, or power of action...

The words liberty and free-will are, then, abstractions, general terms, like beauty, goodness, justice. These terms do not signify that all men are always handsome, good, and just, neither are they always free.

Further, liberty being only the power of acting, -what is this power?. It is the effect of the constitu

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