« FöregåendeFortsätt »
regard for me, I do myself the honour herewith to assure you of the part I take in the success of your travels, and in your happy return to your home, which I learn by a letter from Lausanne of M. Bourguet. I trust that you found everything most agreeable in the foreign countries you have visited.
"As far as utility is concerned, having travelled with so many natural abilities, and such acquirements, and such a desire to augment the latter, and being of a mature age, and occupying a post which you desire to fill well, you must have brought back from your intercourse with savants, if not all sciences, at least that one which enables you to dispense with the rest—I mean those sure principles by which one is enabled to develop from his own resources nearly all the rest, and the art to put them at work, and to evolve the germs which they contain-two things for which you are already so distinguished, and which in order to be perfected, did not find in you many waste places to fill up. . . . I pardon Puffendorf his embarrassed style, his bad reasoning, his vicious definitions and divisions, because these faults do not occur so often as does that of diffuseness, especially in the state in which the book is now, owing to the translation and notes. If, notwithstanding the pains of the laborious translator, these other faults subsist still in some few places, this diffuseness of style remains throughout; and, as a faithful translator, M. Barbeyrac could not wipe it away. That would have been a work of which, I think, there is no example, but which ought to be undertaken upon Puffendorf and other authors by those men of letters who have the spirit of order and of clearness without having that of production. But it is time to finish my digression, which I beg you to excuse.
Have not Messieurs Thomasius, Titius, Buddæus, or other similar German or Dutch authors, published such a work as I wish for? You would greatly oblige me, my dear Sir, if, after having prescribed to me an author, you would give me a list of the good works which you have procured of all kinds, and especially those of Germany and Holland, which I know the least about. I pray you to place upon the list the edition and the year, with the price if you have noted it. But above all things, what have you to say concerning the three I have named ? I do not ask you particularly to notice any books excepting those
hich you have Olland, which I kntion and the
y you to place uponlland, which I knds, and espe
found fault with on account of the excess of erudition which renders them difficult to read; but, as M. Gindroz justly remarks, it should be remembered that this was in harmony with the taste of the period, and moreover, that the author addresses himself in general to savants and not to readers seeking less for solid noted, on the other hand, that the discourses of Barbeyrac intended for the general public were not open to this reproach.
Voltaire, in his French Writers of the Reign of Louis XIV.,' disposed of Barbeyrac in a few lines of mild, and, perhaps, Professor of law and history at Lausanne, translator and commentator of Puffendorf and of Grotius. It appears that these treatises of the Rights of Nations, of War and of Peace, which
which you hold in especial esteem, and which you would advise procaring for a small and well-chosen library. . . . I am told that M. Titius is dead. Is M. Buddæus alive still? I do not know whether he is a jurist.
jurist. As for M. Thomasius, I believe him to be living, and think it is with him that you will have made your principal legal friendship. Of what age and what character is he? As for his mind, I know by his notes upon Huberus that it is independence itself. His notes charmed me at Basle. Not only is he unprejudiced with regard to the ancients, he is unprejudiced about himself. . . . I await some news from you concerning the Consensus. It is said that M. de Crousaz meditates a work upon Pyrrhonism. It is one of the matters which interest me the most. I have extreme impatience to see this work. Tell me, I pray you, what is Pietism doing in Germany ? For the rest, Monsieur, I shall be mortified if, being 80 occupied as you must be, you should make it an affair of honesty to reply to me immediately. I conjure you, by our ancient friendship, to banish this consideration from Send me one word, if you please, concerning M. Barbeyrac his Grotius.'
It will be noticed that M. de Pary accuses Puffendorf of a prolixity which he is at no pains himself to avoid. It is true that the numerous juridic works even of Barbeyrac bave been instruction than for an attractive style. It should be especially suspicious compliment:
"Jean Barbeyrac, born at Béziers, in 1674.
have never served for any treaty of
peace nor for
of war, nor to assure the rights of any man, are a consolation to the peoples for the evils produced by politics and force. They give an idea of justice, as portraits do of celebrated individuals whom we cannot see in person. His preface of Puffendorf merits perusal. He proves there that the morality of the Fathers is inferior to that of modern philosophers. Died 1729.'
The last error would have been of some importance to Barbeyrac himself, as it deprives him of fifteen years of life. His life did not end until March 3rd, 1744.
In his later · Letters on French Authors,' Voltaire returned to Barbeyrac with more elaboration and with sincere praise. He says:
‘Barbeyrac is the only commentator of whom one makes more than of the original author. He translated and annotated the hodge-podge of Puffendorf, but he enriched it with a preface which alone made the book sell. He goes back in this preface to the sources of morality, and he has the hardy candour to show that the Fathers of the Church did not always know or understand this pure morality, which they disfigured by strange allegories—as, for instance, when they said that the red rag exposed at the window by the lodging-house keeper Rahab was visibly the blood of Jesus Christ; that Moses holding up his arms during the battle against the Amalekites is the cross upon which Jesus expired; that the kisses of the Sunamite are the marriage of Jesus Christ with his Church ; that the great door of the Ark of Noah depicts the human body, the little door the anus, etc., etc.
‘Barbeyrac could not allow in morals that Augustine should become a persecutor after having preached tolerance. He condemned severely the gross injuries which Jerome vomits against his adversaries, and especially against Rufin and Vigilantius. He exposed the contradictions which he remarked in the morality of the Fathers. He was indignant that they had sometimes inspired a hatred for country, as in the case of Tertullian, who forbade positively the Christians to bear arms for the preservation of the Empire.
* Barbeyrac had violent adversaries, who accused him of wishing to destroy the Christian religion, by rendering ridiculous those who had sustained it by indefatigable labours. He defended himself, but he allowed to appear in his defence such a profound contempt for the Fathers of the Church, he evinced so much disdain for their false eloquence and for their dialectics, he so openly placed above them Confucius, Socrates, Zalencus, Cicero, the Emperor Antoninus, Epictetus, that it was easy to see that Barbeyrac was rather the partisan of eternal justice and the natural law given by God to men, than an adorer of the holy mysteries of Christianity. If he was mistaken in thinking that God was the father of all men, if he had the misfortune not to see that God could only love Christians submissive in heart and spirit, his error is at least that of a beautiful soul, and as he loved man it is not for men to insult him. It is for God to judge him. Certainly he cannot be placed among Atheists.'
Among Barbeyrac's lighter writings was his Treatise on Play, a second edition of which was published in three volumes in 1737. The author conceived the idea of this book from being frequently interrupted in his literary labours by the ladies who played cards daily in his room at the house of his mother-in-law, and from being obliged to decide the points in dispute between them. Method, great research, and delicate distinctions mark this performance; but the author accords too much to the players, throws himself too often into discussions foreign to his subject, and fatigues his readers by the trouble he gives himself to apply without necessity the principles of law and of morality to the rules of play.
The unpublished correspondence of Barbeyrac, Loợs de Bochat, and Deyverdun indicates the intellectual activity in the last century. The interchange of opinions on important subjects was never more active, and one is surprised by the amount of labour represented in these letters. The present generation can form no idea from personal experience of what letter-writing then meant; and it is interesting to enter, by means of these documents, into the epistolary characteristics of those savants when dealing with each other, and not with the public.
END OF THE FIRST VOLUME
Spottisuoode & Co. Printers, Neu-street Square, London.