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tion, and the actual state of our organs. Leibnitz would solve a problem of geometry, but falls into an apoplexy: he certainly has not the liberty to solve his problem. A vigorous young man, passionately in love, who holds his willing mistress in his arms, is he free to subdue his passion ? doubtless not. He has the power of enjoying, and has not the power to abstain. Locke is then very right in calling liberty, power. When can this young man abstain, notwithstanding the violence of his passion? when a stronger idea shall determine the springs of his soul and body to the contrary.
But how? have other animals the same liberty, the same power? Why not? They have sense, memory, sentiment, and perceptions like ourselves; they act spontaneously as we do. They must also, like us, have the power of acting by virtue of their perception, and of the play of their organs.
We exclaim,-If it be thus, all things are machines merely; everything in the universe is subjected to eternal laws. Well, would you have everything rendered subject to a million of blind caprices? Either all is the consequence of the nature of things, or, all is the effect of the eternal order of an absolute master; in both cases we are only wheels to the machine of the world.
It is a foolish common-place expression, that without this pretended freedom of will, rewards and punishments are useless. Reason, and you will conclude quite the contrary.
If, when a robber is executed, his accomplice who sees him suffer, has the liberty of not being frightened at the punishment; if his will determines of itself, he will
from the foot of the scaffold. to assassinate on the high road'; if struck with horror, he experiences an insurmountable terror, he will no longer thieve. The punishment of his companion will become useful to him, and moreover prove to society that his will is not free.
Liberty, then, is not and cannot be anything but the
power of doing what we will. That is what phi
losophy teaches us. But, if we consider liberty in the theological sense, it is so sublime a matter that profane eyes may not be raised so high.*
FRENCH LANGUAGE. The French language did not begin to assume a regular form until towards the tenth century; it sprang from the remains of the Latin and the Celtic, mixed with a few Teutonic words. This language was, in the first instance, the provincial Roman, and the Teutonic was the language of the courts, until the time of Charles the Bald. The Teutonic remained the only language in Germany, after the grand epoch of the division in 433. The rustic Roman prevailed in western France: the inhabitants of the Pays de Vaud, of the Valais, of the valley of Engadieu, and some other cantons, still preserve some manifest vestiges of this idiom.
At the commencement of the eleventh century, French began to be written ; but this French retained more of the romance or rustic Roman than of the language of
the present day. The romance of Philomena, written in the tenth century, is not very different in language, from that of the laws of the Normans. We can yet trace the original Celtic, Latin, and Ger
The words which signify the members of the human body, or things in daily use, which have no relation to the Latin or German, are of ancient Gallic or Celtic, as tête, jambe, sabre, point, aller, parler, écouter, regarder, crier, cotume, ensemble, and many more of the same kind. The greater part of the warlike phrases were French or German, as marche, halte, maréchal, bivouac, lansquenet. Almost all the rest are Latin, and the Latin words have been all abridged, according to the usage and genius of the nations of the north.
* Voltaire has treated this once abstruse subject in his usual lucid and off-hand manner, and at this time it is scarcely necessary to add, that the doctrine of necessary volition, so far from injuring the well-being of society, when properly understood, is the . foundation of all correct legislative and judicial improvement, as combining and adjusting the whole vast and complicated doctrine of motive. It is almost ludicrous to hear the bigoted and worthy personages who controvert it, act involuntarily on the very principles which they oppose while expatiating with lofty earnestness upon a sublime species of freedom, that, like a 'ci-devant monarch of France, with his roi le veut, consults its sublime pleasure alone. Allow these gentry to be right, and every, man would be as completely cut off from his fellows as Robinson Crusoe, besides, why should they claim a faculty the non-possession of which, forms the great excuse of all they say, and of much of what they do?T.
In the twelfth century, some terms were borrowed from the philosophy of Aristotle; and, towards the sixteenth century, Greek names were found for the parts of the human body, and for its maladies and their remedies. Although the language was then enriched with Greek, and aided from the time of Charles VIII. with considerable accessions from the Italian, already arrived at perfection, it did not acquire a regular form. Francis I. abolished the custom of pleading and of judging in Latin, which proved the barbarism of a language which could not be used in public proceeding--a pernicious custom to the natives, whose fortunes were regulated in a language which they could not understand.
It then became necessary to cultivate the French, but the language was neither noble nor regular, and its syntax was altogether capricious. The genius of its conversation being turned towards pleasantry, the language became fertile in smart and lively expressions, but exceedingly barren in dignified and harmonious phrases; whence it arises that in the dictionaries of rhymes, twenty suitable words are found for comic poetry for one of poetry of a more elevated nature. This was the cause that Marot never succeeded in the serious style, and that Amyot was unable to give a version of the elegant simplicity of Plutarch.
The French tongue acquired strength from the pen of Montaigne, but still wanted elevation and harmony. Ronsard injured the language, by introducing into French poetry the Greek compounds, derivable from the physicians. Malherbe partly repaired the fault of Ronsard. It became more lofty and harmonious hy the establishment of the French Academy, and finally in the age of Louis XIV. acquired the perfection by which it is now distinguished.
The genius of the French language, for every language has its genius, is clearness and order. This genius consists in the facility which a language possesses of expressing itself more or less happily, and of employing or rejecting the familiar terms of other languages. The French tongue having no declensions, and being aided by articles, cannot adopt the inversions of the Greek and the Latin; the words are necessarily arranged agreeably to the course of the ideas. We can only say in one way, “ Plancus a pris soin des affaires de Cæsar;" but this phrase in Latin, “ Res Cæsaris, Plancus diligenter curavit,” may be arranged in a hundred and twenty different forms without injuring the sense or rules of the language. The auxiliary verbs, which lengthen and weaken phrases in the modern tongues, render that of France still less adapted to the lapidary style. Its auxiliary verbs, its pronouns, its articles, its deficiency of declinable participles, and lastly, its uniformity of position, preclude the exhibition of much enthusiasm in poetry; it possesses fewer capabilities of this nature than the Italian and the English; but this constraint and slavery render it more proper for tragedy and comedy than any language in Europe. The natural order in which the French people are obliged to express their thoughts and construct their phrases, infuses into their speech a facility and amenity which please everybody; and the genius of the nation suiting with the genius of the language, has produced a greater number of books agreeably written than are to be found among. any other people.
Social freedom and politeness having been for a long time established in France, the language has acquired a delicacy of expression, and a natural refinement, which are seldom to be found out of it. This refinement has occasionally been carried too far: but men of taste have always known how to reduce it within due bounds.
Many persons have maintained that the French language has been impoverished since the days of Montaigne and Amyot, because expressions abound in these authors which are no longer employed; but these are for the most part terms for which equivalents have been found. It has been enriched with a number of noble and energetic expressions, and, without adverting to the eloquence of matter, has certainly that of speech. It was during the reign of Louis XIV. as already observed, that the language was fixed. Whatever changes time and caprice may have in store, the good authors of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries will always serve for models.
Circumstances created no right to expect that France would be distinguished in philosophy. A gothic government extinguished all kind of illumination during more than twelve centuries; and professors of error, paid for brutalising human nature, more increased the darkness. Nevertheless, there is more philosophy in Paris than in any town on earth, and possibly than in all the towns put together, excepting London. The spirit of reason has even penetrated into the provinces. In a word, the French genius is probably at present equal to that of England in philosophy; while for the last fourscore years France has been superior to all other nations in literature; and has undeniably taken the lead in the courtesies of society, and in that easy
and natural politeness, which is improperly termed urbanity.*
The temple of friendship has long been known by name, but it is well known that it has been very little frequented: as the following verses pleasantly observe Orestes, Pylades, Pirithous, Achates, and the
* This article is somewhat national, but otherwise informing; it has, however, been deemed expedient to omit the second section, treating principally of Celtic
etymologies, and conveying strictures on certain affectations in French composition, which Voltaire thought was injurionsly gaining ground when he wrote the article.-T: