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mirth : and this proves that thou hast no regard for men, nor any true respect for the virtues which they have unhappily abandoned.
Fenelon, Archbishop of Cambray.
SECTION II. DIONYSIUS, PYTHIAS, AND DAMON. Genuine virtue commands respect, even from the bad. Dionysius. AMAZING! What do I see? It is Pythias just arrived. It is indeed Pythias. I did not think it possible. He is come to die, and to redeem his friend!
Pythias. Yes, it is Pythias. I left the place of my confinement, with no other views, than to pay to Heaven the vows I had made; to settle my family concerns according to the rules of justice; and to bid adieit to my children, that I might die tranquil and satisfied.
Dio. But why dost thou return? Hast thou no fear of death? Is it not the character of a madman, to seek it thus voluntarily ?
Py. I return to suffer, though I have not deserved death. Every principle of honour and goodness, forbids me to allow my friend to die for me.
Dio. Dost thou, then, love him better than thyself?
Py. No; I love him as myself. But I am persuaded that I ought to suffer death, rather than my friend ; since it was Pythias whom thoni hadst decreed to die. It were not just that Damon should suffer, to deliver me from the death which was designed, not for him, but for me only.
Dio. But thou supposest, that it is as unjust to inflict death upon thee, as upon ihy friend.
Py. Very true; we are both perfectly innocent; and it is equally unjust to make either of us suffer.
Diö. Why dost thou then assert, that it were injustice to put him to death, instead of thee?
Py. It is unjust, in the same degree, to inflict death either on Damon or on myself; but Pythias were highly culpable to let Damon suffer that death, which the tyrant had prepared for Pythias only.
Dio. Dost thou then return hither, on the day appointed, with no other view, than to save the life of a friend, by losing thy own!
Py. I return, in regard to thee, to suffer an act of injustice which it is common for tyrants to inflict; and, with respect to Damon, to perform my duty, by rescuing him from the danger he incurred by his generosity to me.
Dio. And now, Damon, let me address myself to thee. Didst thou not really fear, that Pythias would never return; and that thou wouldst be put to death on his account?
Da. I was but too well assured, that Pythias would punctually return; and that he would be more solicitous to keep his promise, than to preserve his life. Would to heaven, that his relations and friends had forcibly detained him! He would then have lived for the comfort and benefit of good men; and I should have the satisfaction of dying for him!
Dio. What! Does life displease thee?
Da. Yes; it displeases me when I see and feel the power of a tyrant.
Dio. It is well! Thou shall see him no more. I will order thee to be put to death immediately.
Py. Pardon the feelings of a man who sympathizes with his
dying friend. But remember it was Pythias who was devoted by thee to destruction. I come to submit to it, that I may redeem my friend. Do not refuse me this consolation in my last hour.
Dio. I cannot endure men, who despise death, and set my power at defiance.
Da. Thou canst not, then, endure virtue.
Dio. No: I cannot endure that proud, disdainful virtue, which contemns life ; which dreads no punishment; and which is insensible to the charms of riches and pleasure.
Da. Thou seest, however, that it is a virtue, which is not insensible to the dictates of honour, justice, and friendship.
Dio. Guards, take Pythias to execution. We shall see whether Damon will continue to despise my authority.
Da. Pythias, by returning to submit himself to thy pleasure, has merited his life, and deserved thy favour; but I have excited thy indignation, by resigning myself to thy power, in order to save him; be satisfied, then, with this sacrifice, and put me to death.
Py. Hold, Dionysius! remember, it was Pythias alone who offended thee: Damon could not
Dio. Alas! what do I see and hear! where am I? How mis. erable; and how worthy to be so! I have hitherto known nothing of true virtue. I have spent my life in darkness and errour. All my power and honours are insufficient to produce love. I cannot boast of having acquired a single friend, in the course of a reign of thirty years. “And yet these two persons, in a private condition, love one another tenderly, unreservedly confide in each other, are mutually happy, and ready to die for each other's preservation.
Py. How couldst thou, who hast never loved any person, expect to have friends? If thou hadst loved and respected men, thou wouldst have secured their love and respect. Thou hast feared mankind; and they fear thee; they detest thee.
Dio. Damon, Pythias, condescend to admit me as a third friend, in a connexion so perfect. I give you your lives; and I will load you with riches.
Da. We have no desire to be enriched by thee; and, in regard to thy friendship, we cannot accept or enjoy it, till thou become good and just. Without these qualities, thou canst be connected with none but trembling slaves, and basé flatterers. To be loved and esteemed by men of free and generous minds, thou must be virtuous, affectionate, disinterested, beneficent; and know how to live in a sort of equality with those who share and deserve thy friendship
Fenelon, Archbishop of Cambray. SECTION III.
LOCKE AND BAYLE. Christianity defended against the cavils of skepticism. Bayle. Yes, we both were philosophers; but my philosophy was the deepest. You dogmatized; I doubted.
Locke. Do you make doubting a proof of depth in philosophy ? It may be a good beginning of it; but it is a bad end.
Bayle. No:-the more profound our searches are into the nature, of things, the more uncertainty we shall find; and the most subtle. minds see objections and difficulties in every system, which are overlooked or undiscoverable by ordinary understandings.
Locke. It would be better then to be no philosopher, and to come
tinue in the vulgar herd of mankind, that one may have the convenience of thinking that one knows something. I find that the eyes which nature has given me, see many things very clearly, though some are out of their reach, or discerned but dimly. What opinion ought I to have of a physician, who should offer me an eye-water, the use of which would at first so sharpen my sight, as to carry it farther than ordinary vision; but would in the end put them out? Your philosophy is to the eyes of the mind, what I have supposed the doctor's nostrum to be to those of the body. It actually brought your own excellent understanding, which was by nature quick-sighted, and rendered more so by art and a subtisty of logick peculiar to yourself-it brought, I say, your very acute understanding to see nothing clearly; and enveloped all the great truths of reason and religion in místs of doubt.
Bayle.--I own it did ;-but your comparison is not just. I did not see well, before I used my philosophick eye-water: I only supposed I saw well ; but I was in an errour, with all the rest of mankind. The blindness was real, the perceptions were imaginary. I cured myself first of those false imaginations, and then I lauda. bly endeavoured to cure other men.
Locke. A great cure indeed !-and do not you think, that in re.. turn for the service you did them, they ought to erect you a statue ?
Bayle. Yes; it is good for human nature to know its own weakness. When we arrogantly presume on a strength we have not, we are always in great danger of hurting ourselves, or at least of deserving ridicule and contempt, by vain and idle efforts.
Locke. I agree with you, that human nature should know its own weakness ; but it should also feel its strength, and try to improve it. This was my employment as a philosopher. I endeavoured to discover the real powers of the mind, to see what it could do, and what it could not; to restrain it from efforts beyond its ability; but to teach it how to advance as far as the faculties given to it by nature, with the utinost exertion and most proper culture of them, would allow it to go. In the vast ocean of philosophy, I had the line and the plummet always in my hands. “Many of its depths I found myself unable to fathom; but, by caution in sounding, and the careful observations I made in the course of my voyage, I found out some truths of so much use to mankind, that they acknowledge me to have been their benefactor.
Rayle. Their ignorance makes them think so. Some other philosopher will come hereafter and show those truths to be falsehoods." He will pretend to discover other truths of equal importance. A later sage will arise, perhaps ainong men now barbarous and unlearned, whose sagacious discoveries will discredit the opinions of his admired predecessor. In philosophy, as in nature, all changes its form, and one thing exists by the destruction of another.
Locke. Opinions taken up without a patient investigation, depending on terms not accurately defined, and principles begged without proof, like theories to explain the phenomena of nature, built on suppositions instead of experiments, must perpetually change and destroy one another. But some opinions there are, even in matters not obvious to the common sense of mankind, which the mind has received on such rational grounds of assent, that they are as immoveable as the pillars of heaven; or (to speak
philosophically) as the great laws of Nature, by which, ander God, the universe is sustained. Can you seriously think, that, because the hypothesis of your countryman Descartes, which was nothing but an ingenious, well-imagined romance, has been lately exploded, the system of Newton, which is built on experiments and geometry, the two most certain methods of discovering truth, will ever fail; or that, because the whims of fanaticks and the di. vinity of the schoolmen, cannot now be supported, the doctrines of that religion, which I, the declared enemy of all enthusiasm and false reasoning, firmly believed and maintained, will ever be shaken?
Bayle. If you had asked Descartes, while he was in the height of his vogue, whether his system would ever be confuted by any other philosophers, as that of Aristotle had been by his, what answer do you suppose he would have returned ? .
Locke. Come, come, you yourself know the difference between the foundations on which the credit of those systems, and that of Newton is placed. Your skepticism is more affected than real. You found it a shorter way to a great reputation, (the only wish of your heart,) to object, than to defend ; to pull down, than to set up. And your talents were admirable for that kind of work. Then your huddling together in a Critical Dictionary, a pleasant tale, or obscene jest, and a grave argument against the Christian religion, a witty confutation of some absurd author, and an artful sophism to impeach some respectable truth, was particularly com
to all our vouno smarts and smatterers in free-thinking. But what mischief have you not done to human society? You have endeavoured, and with some degree of success, to shake those foundations, on which the whole moral world, and the great fabrick of social happiness, entirely rest. How could you, as a philosopher, in the sober hours of reflection, answer for this to your conscience, even supposing you had doubts of the truth of a system, which gives to virtue its sweetest hopes, to impenitent vice its greatest fears, and to true penitence its best consolations; which restrains even the least approaches to guilt, and yet makes those allowances for the infirmities of our nature, which the Stoick pride denied to it, but which its real imperfection, and the goodness of its infinitely benevolent Creator, so evidently require ?
Bayle. The mind is free ; and it loves to exert its freedom. Any restraint upon it is a violence done to its nature, and a tyranny, against which it has a right to rebel.
Locke. The mind, though free, has a governour within itself, which may and ought to limit the exercise of its freedom. That governour is reason.
Bayle. Yes :-but reason, like other governours, has a policy more dependent upon uncertain caprice, than upon any fixed laws. And if that reason, which rules my mind or yours, has happened to set up a favourite notion, it not only submits implicitly to it, but desires that the same respect should be paid to it by all the rest of mankind. Now I hold that any man may law fully oppose this desire in another; and that if he is wise, he will use his utmost endeavours to check it in himself.
Locke. Is there not also a weakness of a contrary nature to this you are now ridiculing? Do we not often take a pleasure in showing our own power, and gratifying our own pride, by degrading the notions set up by other men, and generally respected?
Bayle. I believe we do; and by this means it often happens, that, if one man builds and consecrates a temple to folly, another pulls it down.
Locke. Do you think it beneficial to human society, to have all temples pulled down?
Bayle. I cannot say that I do.
Locke. Yet I find not in your writings any mark of distinction, to show us which you mean to save.
Bayle. A true philosopher, like an impartial historian, must be of no sect.
Locke. Is there no medium between the blind zeal of a sectary, and a total indifference to all religion ?
Bayle. With regard to morality, I was not indifferent.
Locke. How could you then be indifferent with regard to the sanctions religion gives to morality? How could you publish what tends so directly and apparently to weaken in mankind the belief of those sanctions ? Was not this sacrificing the great interests of virtue to the little motives of vanity ?
Bayle. A man may act indiscreetly, but he cannot do wrong, by declaring that, which, on a full discussion of the question, he sincerely thinks to be true.
Locke. An enthusiast, who advances doctrines prejudicial to society, or opposes any that are useful to. it, has the strength of opinion, and the heat of a disturbed imagination, to plead in alleviation of his fault. But your cool head and sound judgement, can have no such excuse. I know very well there are passages in all your works, and those not few, where you talk like a rigid moralist. I have also heard that your character was irreproachably good. But when, in the most laboured parts of your writings, you sap the surest foundations of all moral duties; what avails it that in others, or in the conduct of your life, you appeared to respect them? How many, who have stronger passions than you had, and are desirous to get rid of the curb that restrains them, will lay hold of your skepticism, to set themselves loose from all obligations of virtue! What a misfortune is it to have made such a use of such talents ! It would have been better for you and for mankind, if you had been one of the dullest of Dutch theologians, or the most credulous monk in a Portuguese convent. The riches of the mind, like those of fortune, may be employed so perversely, as to become a nuisance and pest, instead of an ornament and support, to society.
Bayle. You are very severe upon me.-But do you count it no merit, no service to mankind, to deliver them from the frauds and fetters of priestcraft, from the deliriums of fanaticism, and from the terrours and follies of superstition? Consider how much mischief these have done to the world! Even in the last age, what massacres, what civil wars, what convulsions of government, what confusion in society, did they produce! Nay, in that we both lived in, though much more enlightened than the former, did I not see them occasion a violent persecution in my own country ? and can you blame me for striking at the root of these evils ?
Locke. The root of these evils, you well know, was false reli