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all the false teeth, false hair, eyebrows, whiskers, and legs, and the numerous other lies, whether ivory, crinical, or cork, with which our sex pass themselves off the world for pleasanter and more perfect beings than they would otherwise appear. He must be a still keener inquisitor who shall detail the finer subterfuges of female delinquents, and painfully undeceivė mankind by verifying the simulated forms, features, and complexions of those fair impostors. Not all the gnomes and sprites of the Rosicrucians could form à police numerous enough to serve a subpoena upon every white hair that was mendaciously plucked out; to arrest every broad-cloth untruth, in the form of à dandy-jacket upon old shoulders; or confiscate the fraudulent pads and fibbing rouge of emaciated belles. Should they succeed thus far, they will have to lay informations against all constructive falsehoods in the mode of living; against rich paupers and poor spendthrifts; against married couples, who wear the semblance of peace to the public, while they carry on a private domestic war; and against every vice which pays Virtue the compliment of imitating her exterior. They must arraign, in short, all those decent forgeries and amiable impositions which give a zest to polished society, by borrowing the garb of the Graces, and throwing it becomingly around our frailties and imperfections.
Nor would their duties, though already sufficiently arduous, be terminated here. To be consistent, they must endeavour to introduce a similar uniformity of Truth into the other departments of Nature. The
bee must not offer us at the same moment honey and a sting; the snake must surrender either his poison or his painted coat; the cat must not sleek over her talons with softness; no nettles must be concealed beneath the flowers; the Siberian crab must taste as sweet as it looks; hemlock and nightshade must shed their green leaves; and our fields must nourish no types of that blooming fruit which flourished upon the borders of the Dead Sea. Truth declares the existence of evil, moral and physical; we must, therefore, use no disguises to render vice less hideous, or make our deformities less apparent; and life, embittered by the naked hatefulness of the passions, must sink into a painful disease, of which sleep will be the welcome palliative, and death the sole remedy.
There is a fanaticism of virtue as well as of religion, and the extremes of both are equally to be avoided. The Quakers have no more got rid of falsehood and bad grammar by the affectations of their phraseology, than they have conquered vanity by the elaborate plainness of their garb. As we cannot lift ourselves above human nature, all aspirations after absolute perfection are useless; while all those venial transgressions of Truth, which have an amiable motive, may safely be pronounced more praiseworthy and beneficial, than the malignant tenets of Diogenes in his tub, Timon upon the sea-shore, or the Cynic in his cell, however their virulent satires may be susceptible of proof and demonstration. Motive is every thing. He who promulgates Truth with a malicious intention, is more culpable than the man who infringes it with a bene
volent one. So far, at least, we may hold with the anomalous dictum of the jurists, that the greater the truth, the greater the libel. "O qu'il est aimé qui rend amiable !" says Gentil Bernard: and what is this amiability but a constant deviation from the strict integrity of fact, an avoidance of unpleasant veracities, and an indulgence in soothing illusions; a benevolent endeavour to make others pleased with themselves and us, by placing the character of all parties in a better light than if we brought it within the strict focus of the rays of truth?" Where Nature has been severe," said Hoppner, the portrait-painter, "we soften; where she is kind, we aggravate." Such is the art of the amiable man in painting the minds of his acquaintance, or exhibiting his own; and who would dream of accusing either the one or the other of a culpable duplicity? No, no; a pleasant deception is better than a painful reality: let us be happy in the dark, rather than be enlightened into misery. We have all our little foibles of self-love, our vanities of egotism, our illusions and inflations which may sometimes cause us, perhaps, to flutter a little too high, and enjoy ourselves out of our real sphere; but let us not anticipate the Fates in clipping one another's pinions. Alas! the best of us are but as butterflies; cut off our wings, and we are nothing but
"All the world's a stage," exclaims Shakspeare; and Champfort, enlarging upon this idea, observes:"La societé, les salons, les cercles, ce qu'on appelle le monde, est une pièce misérable, un mauvais opéra,
sans întérêt, qui se soutient un peu par les machines et les décorations." This is only partially true. To him who is willing to sit quietly in the front of the house, and lend himself to the illusion of the stage, the world is a goodly, glorious, and magnificent drama, possessing the deepest of all interests, and excit ing the pleasantest or the sublimest of all sensations: but if, in our busy and mischievous anxiety for ferreting out the real truth, we insist upon going behind the scenes, we have no one to blame but ourselves if " we lose by seeking what we hope to find;" if we turn in disgust from the painted visages, narrow intellects, and heartless indifference of the actors, while we contemplate with scorn the tinsel decorations and palpable trickery which so lately deluded us into astonishment and rapture. Then, indeed, the world becomes what Champfort has described it to be: but if a man will wither up his soul by plunging into the moral desert, when he might be luxuriating in some smiling Oasis, let him not complain of that barrenness and suffering which is wilful and self-inflicted. The last-quoted author himself confesses that-" Il y a des hommes à qui les illusions sur les choses qui les intéressent sont aussi nécessaires que la vie. Quelquefois cependant ils ont des aperçus qui feroient croire qu'ils sont près de la vérité; mais ils s'en éloignent bien vîte, et ressemblent aux enfans qui courent après un masque, et qui s'enfuient si le masque vient à se retourner.”
Such men are right in flying from the Medusean head, which, by dissipating their illusions, and shaking the serpents with which it is environed, would convert
their hearts into stone. Let me for ever remain defenceless, a butt to every consolatory falsehood and pleasant cheat, rather than be armed with the fatal spear of Ithuriel. Rather would I hold with the wily Gaul, that speech was given to man to conceal his thoughts, than have his tongue betray all the secrets of his bosom, unless we could approximate his nature nearer to the angelic. I do not acknowledge Truth to be more my friend than Plato; it is because she is great, and in some respects as terrible as great, that I wish her not to prevail. Away, then, ye croaking forethoughts and foresights, that would pour your dark bodings in our ear, and make us think unfavourably, although, perchance, too truly, of our species! Avaunt! ye ravens, who would tell us that love is a dream, and friendship a romance; that all the glittering joys of life are splendid lies, while all its miseries are dark realities! Keep your pestilent and gloomy wisdom to yourselves, and leave us to our happy ignorance. Tell us not that the distrustfulness of age will quickly dissipate our flattering visions; reprobating, with Fontaine, "cette philosophie rigide qui fait cesser de vivre avant que l'on soit mort," let us cling, even in second childhood, to the pleasant delusions of our first, and continue to be dupes, rather than finish by being misanthropes. It is better to know nothing than to know too much. In the beginning of the world, the knowledge of the tree of good and evil was accompanied with death: so it is still, with death to the soul, with extinction to the heart. Taking the scriptural fact either literally or allegorically, let us profit by its lesson.