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equanimity, generosity, or fidelity, we strive to make it known, that we may clothe with these virtues that being of the imagination. Nay, we would even cast off these virtues in reality, to secure them in the opinion of others; and willingly be cowards, to acquire the reputation of courage. What a proof of the emptiness of our real being, that we are not satisfied with the one without the other, and that we often sacrifice the one to the other ; for he is counted infamous who would not die to save his reputation.
Glory is so enchanting, that we love whatever we associate it with, even though it be death.
2. Pride countervails all our miseries, for it either hides them, or if it discloses them, it boasts of acknowledging them. Pride has so thoroughly got possession of us, even in the midst of our miseries and our faults, that we are prepared to sacrifice life with joy, if it may but be talked of,
3. Vanity is so rooted in the heart of man, that the lowest drudge of the camp, the street, or the kitchen, must have his boast and his admirers. It is the same with the philosophers. Those who write to gain fame, would have the reputation of having written well; and those who read it, would have the reputation of having read it; and I who am writing this, feel probably the same wish, and they who read this, feel it also.
4. Notwithstanding the sight of all those miseries which wring us, and threaten our destruction, we have still an instinct that we cannot repress, which elevates us above our sorrows.
5. We are so presumptuous that we wish to be known to all the world, and even to those who come after us; and we are so vain, that the esteem of five or six persons immediately around us, is enough to seduce and satisfy
6. Curiosity is but vanity: too frequently we only wish to know more, that we may talk of it. No man would venture to sea, if he were never to speak about what he sees—for the mere pleasure of seeing, without ever speaking of it to others.
7. We do not care to get a name in the towns through which we are travelling : but if we come to sojourn there a short time, we soon become desirous of it. and what time is sufficient for this ? a period proportioned to our vain and pitiful duration.
8. The nature of self-love and of human egotism, is to love self only, and to consult only self-interest. But to what a state is man reduced! He cannot prevent this object of his love from being full of defects and miseries. He wishes to be great, but he sees himself little: he wishes to be happy, but he sees himself miserable: he wishes to be perfect, but he sees that he is full of imperfections : he wishes to be the object of men's love and esteem, and he sees that his errors deserve their hatred and contempt. This state of disappointment generates in him the most wretched and criminal passion that can be imagined: he conceives a deadly hatred against that truth which reproves him, and convinces him of his faults: he desires to destroy it, and unable actually to destroy it in its essential nature, he blots it out as far as possible from his own knowledge and from that of others : that is, he does his utmost to conceal his faults both from others and from himself, and will not suffer others to exhibit them to him, or to examine them themselves.
It is surely an evil to be full of faults; but it is a far greater evil to be unwilling to know them, since that is to add to them the guilt of a voluntary delusion. We do not like others to deceive us; we do not think it right that they should wish to be esteemed by us beyond their deserts: it is not right then that we should deceive them, and that we should wish them to esteem us more than we de
So that when they discover in us nothing but the imperfections and vices which we really possess, it is evident that in this they do us no wrong, because they are not the cause of those errors; and that they even do us good, since they aid us in avoiding a real evil—the ignorance of these our imperfections. We should not be indignant that they discover these errors if they really exist, nor that they should know us to be what we really are, and despise us, if we really are despicable.
These are the thoughts that would rise spontaneously in a heart full of equity and justice: what then shall we say of our own, when we see its disposition to be just the
For is it not true that we hate the truth, and those who tell it us; and that we love men to be deceived in our favour, and wish to be estimated by them very differently from what we really are ?
There are different degrees of this aversion for truth; but we may affirm that in some degree it exists in every one, because it is inseparable from self-love. It is this vile sensitiveness to applause, which compels those whose duty it is to reprove another, to soften the severity of
the shock, by so many circuitous and alleviating expressions. They must appear to attenuate the fault; they must seem to excuse what they mean to reprove; they must mix with the correction the language of praise, and the assurances of affection and esteem. Yet still this pill is always bitter to self-love: we take as little of it as we can, always with disgust, and often with a secret grudge against those who presume to administer it.
Hence it is that those who have any interest in securing our regard, shrink from the performance of an office which they know to be disagreeable to us; they treat us as we wish to be treated; we hate the truth, and they conceal it; we wish to be flattered, and they flatter; we love to be deceived, and they deceive us.
And hence it arises that each step of good fortune by which we are elevated in the world, removes us farther from truth; because men fear to annoy others, just in proportion as their good will is likely to be useful, or their dislike dangerous. A prince shall be the talk of all Europe, and he only know it not. I do not wonder at this. To speak the truth is useful to him to whom it is spoken, but sadly the reverse to him who speaks it, for it makes him hated. Now they who live with princes, love their own interests better than that of him whom they serve, and do not therefore care to seek hiş benefit by telling him the truth to their own injury. This evil is doubtless more serious and more common, in cases of commanding rank and fortune, but the very lowest are not free from it; because there is always some benefit to be obtained by means of man's esteem. So that human life is a perpetual delusion,-nothing goes on but mutual flattery and mutual deceit: no one speaks of us in our presence, as he does in our absence. The degree of union
that there is among men, is founded on this mutual deception; and few friendships would subsist, if each one knew what his friend says of him when he is not present, although at the time he speaks sincerely and without prejudice.
Man, then, is nothing but disguise, falsehood, and hypocrisy, both towards himself and others. He does not wish them to tell him the truth,-he will not tell it to them: and all these dispositions, so far removed from justice and sound reason, have their root naturally in his heart.
THE WEAKNESS OF MAN.
THAT which astonishes me most is, that no man is astonished at his own weakness. Men act seriously; and each one follows his occupation, not because it is actually 'good to follow it, since that is the custom ; but as if each one knew precisely where to find reason and truth. Each one however finds himself deceived repeatedly, and yet by a foolish humility thinks that the failure is in his own conduct, and not in the faculty of discerning truth, of which he continually boasts. It is well that there are so many of these persons in the world, since they serve to show that man is capable of holding the most extravagant opinions ; inasmuch as he can believe that he is not naturally and inevitably in a state of moral weakness; but that on the contrary, he has naturally wisdom adequate to his circumstances.