Littell's Living Age/Volume 143/Issue 1850/Pascal and his Editors

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Pascal and his Editors

In the year 1842 a great surprise came on the literary circles of Paris. For nearly two centuries the name of Blaise Pascal had been acknowledged by universal consent to be one of the most eminent in the whole range of French literature. Short as his life had been, for he sank at the early age of thirty-nine, "the fatal age of genius," under the ravages of disease brought on by excessive study in his youth; and scanty as were the remains which he left behind him to attest the force and character of his intellect, his place among the Immortals was uncontested, and the two small works by which his fame is perpetuated—the "Provincial Letters" and the "Thoughts"—were reckoned among the comparatively few modern classics, the loss of which would have been an irreparable calamity to the world. This high place they owed to a combination of qualities too seldom associated in the same work. To originality and power of thought they added perfection of form and style. It was their author's fortune to stand at the epoch when French prose was in transition from its early stiffness and uncouth harshness to the transparent perspicacity and flexible grace of its maturity ; the happy epoch, as it has been called, when nature and art were at a just balance and equipoise with each other, and co-operated in the right measure to produce consummate works. Coming at that period, it was the glory of Pascal by the exquis te felicity of his style to bestow on his countrymen a model of expression which for purity, clearness, and power of indicating every shade of thought, has never been surpassed, perhaps scarcely ever equalled "I regard Descartes and Pascal," says the eminent critic and philosopher, M. Victor Cousin, "as the first two masters of the art of writing." But it was not by their style alone that these works of Pascal gained the suffrages of the world. They were as original in matter as in form. The latter of them, especially the posthumous "Thoughts," although they were but fragments arbitrarily arranged by his surviving friends, revealed a thinker of intense individuality and force, who, moving in the loftiest regions of philosophical and religious speculation, bare! his heart without reserve, and poured forth at white h«at the emotions which had boon stirred in him by an almost overpowering sense of the mysteries of life. In this union then of force with beauty we have the secret of Pascal's enduring reputation. Both works have achieved a popularity which has proved as lasting as it was immediate. Repeatedly edited, annotated, and translated into other languages, they have become cosmopolitan and have won the admiration alike of believers and sceptics, of Protestants and Roman Catholics, of philosophers and men of the world.

Confining ourselves for the present to the " Thoughts," and the story of their circulation in France, we find that in the original form in which they had been published in 1669, seven years after Pascal's death, they were current in numerous editions for nearly sixty years, the short " Life of Pascal" by his sister, Madame Perier, having first appeared in France in the edition of 1687, though printed in Holland three years earlier. In 1727 Colbert, bishop of Montpellier, and again in the following year Father Desmclets, of the Oratory, gave to the public several new fragments collected from letters and other sources. These additions, with some further pieces, were incorporated by Condorcetin his edition of 1776, in which, unhappily, he took extraordinary liberties with Pascal's text in toning it down to the taste of the free-thinking philosophers of the " Encyclopaed a ;" and two years later Condorcet's revision was re-issued with fresh notes by Voltaire. A year afterwards, in 1779, the Abbe Bossut brought out his standard edition of Pascal's complete works in five volumes, containing the whole of his mathematical and physicai pieces. In this the " Thoughts " appeared under a novel arrangement, embracing all the additions that had been successively made to the original Port-Royal text, together with several pieces never before printed, but, unfortunately, without rectifying the falsifications introduced into the text by Condorcet. Subsequent editions of the " Thoughts" followed Bossut's with little or no change, down to M. Frantin's in 1835, which again adopted a new order of arrangement and suppressed some passages relating to the Jesuits; and what is especially to be noticed is, that throughout this century and a half of repeated publication, during which the book passed through the hands of so many editors, and was so often a subject of comment and eulogy, it continued to be accepted without suspicion as an authentic work in which Pascal's fragmentary ideas and reflections were truly given to the world in the very words in which he had himself expressed

them.

Then canio the surprise. As a help towards the preparation by the French Academy of an historical dictionary of the language, M. Cousin had urged on his fellow Academicians the importance of producing critical editions of some of the French classical authors, whose works might serve for standards, and had undertaken himself to examine whether any revision was needed to the current form of Pascal's "Thoughts." Tho result was the famous Report named at the head of this article, which was presented by him to the Academy in 1842, and the effect of which may, without exaggeration, be likened to the shock produced by a sudden and violent explosion. To make the matter intelligible we must briefly premise that towards the end of his life Pascal had entertained the idea of producing an elaborate work in defence of Christianity against atheists and other sceptics, and in conversation with his Jansenist friends had roughly sketched out the line he proposed to take. The complete breaking up, however, of his health, which speedily followed the forming of this intention, and the unremitted suffering in which the last four years of his life were passed, hindered him from doing more than jot down from time to time on loose sheets and fragments of paper, sometimes on the backs of old letters, such ideas as occurred to his mind while brooding over his subject, and seemed likely to be useful in the composition of his book, should his health ever allow him to set himself seriously about it These fragments were of all lengths, from a page or two to single sentences, sometimes left incomplete, sometimes even breaking off in the middle of a word ; occasionly the same idea appeared in two or three forms as it was gradually elaborated in his mind. There were times when, being unable through infirmity to hold a pen, he got some chance visitor, or even a servant, to write down from his dictation the idea which he wished to preserve; but at least nine-tenths of the papers were traced by his own feeble and failing fingers, in a handwriting which not seldom suggests the marks that might have been left by the legs of an insect crawling over the page, and which was rendered still more difficult to decipher by frequent abbrevations, erasures, interlineations, and additions, stuck in anyhow on the margins and corners of the paper. The facsimile of a page deeply dis coloured by time, which is appended to M. Cousin's report, presents to the ordinary reader about as hopeless an enigma as can be imagined. Of these confused and intractable papers, which were collected with religious care by Pascal's friends after his death, an incomplete copy was made, which is still extant, and from this copy the original edition of the "Thoughts" was drawn up, while the precious autographs themselves were fastened ai random on large folio sheets of paper and bound in a volume containing altogether 491 pages. This volume allerwards became the property of the Abbe Perier, Pascal's nephew, and by him was deposited in the library of the Abbey of St. Grermain-des-Pres, whence at a later time it passed to the Bibliotheque du Roi. There it was examined and collated with the published text by M. Cousin, who in his Report expresses in a lively manner the feelings which took possession of him as he pursued his laborious task.

"It was impossible, he says, "to look without painful emotion on the great folio book where the failing hand of Pascal had traced, during the agony of his last four years, the thoughts which rose in his mind, and which he deemed might be useful to him some day in conposing the great work that he meditated. He threw them in haste on the first scrap of paper that came to hand, in few words, and often even in half a word. Sometimes he dictated them to persons who happened to be present. Pascal's writing is full of abbreviations, ill-formed, almost undecipherable. It is these little papers without order or connect on which, collected and pasted on great sheets of paper, compose the manuscript of the Thoughts."

But M. Cousin had scarcely begun his labours when this first emotion was replaced by astonishment at the discovery which soon forced itself upon him. "You would be frightened," he goes on to say, "at the enormous difference which the first glance at the original manuscript will show you, between the 'Thoughts' of Pascal, as they were written with his own hand, and all the editions, without excepting a single one, not even that of 1669, published by his family and his friends, nor that of 1779, which has become the model of all the editions that every year sees put forth." He then proceeds to give samples of the alterations of all kinds" that he had detected; alterations of words, alterations of turns, alterations of phrases, suppressions, substitutions, additions, arbitrary and absurd piecings together, sometimes of a paragraph, sometimes of an entire chapter, by the help of phrases and paragraphs foreign to each other; and, what is worse, decompositions still more arbitrary and truly inconceivable of chapters, which in Pascal's manuscript are perfectly connected in all their parts, and profoundly wrought out." The original Port-Royal edition is stigmatised by him "as combining all the faults which ought to have been avoided. (1.) It omitted a great part of the 'Thoughts' contained in the autograph manscript, and it omitted precisely the most original, those which laid bare the soul of Pascal, his desolate scepticism, his restless and despairing faith. (2.) It changed sometimes in their substance, and awakened almost always in their form, the 'Thoughts' which it preserved. (3.) It gave a great number of 'Thoughts' which are not in the au tograph manuscript, and which yet bear the visible imprint of Pascal's hand without indicating the sources whence they are drawn." I defy analysis," he exclaims, on reviewing his discoveries, "to in vent any kind of alteration of the style of a great writer, which the style of Pascal has not suffered at the hands of Port-Royal!"

The utter untrustworthiness of the received text, however, furnished only half the surprise. The world had imagined that in the celebrated "Thoughts" it passed the outlines of a powerful defence of Christianity by a firm believer, in whom reason a;.d faith wenl harmoniously hand in hand together. Great, therefore, was the astonishment when M. Cousin, having disinterred Pascal's authentic words, proclaimed aloud in the most confident tones that Pascal himself was a sceptic, a Pyrrhonist, whose reason plunged him into a bottomless abyss of doubt, out of which he could discover no escape except by a convulsive resolve to shut his eyes, and at all hazards believe. "The very substance of Pascal's soul," says the Report, was a universal scepticism, against which he found no asylum but in a faith voluntarily blind; the difficulties which he encountered his reason did not surmount, but his will pushed aside, and his last, his true answer is that he will not have annihilation." "The ideas of Pascal," it says in another place, "are not a play of his intellect; it is the painful travail of his soul: they penetrate it, they consum»lt; it is the fiery dart fastened in his side, and he soothes his pain in expressing it." And again, "the man in Pascal does not resign himself to the scepticism of the philosopher; his reason cannot believe, but his heart needs to believe." To the heartrending scepticism which he thus discovers in the authentic Thoughts" M. Cousin attributes the extraordinary mutilation which they underwent at the hands of his editors. There escape from Pascal, in the midst of the fits of his convulsive devotion, cries of misery and despair which neither Port-Royal, nor Desmolets, nor Bossut have dared to repeat." And taking this view, it was but natural ior M. Cousi 1 to point out how essentially Pascal's religion, such as he conceived it to have been, differed from the reasonable, wholesome faith of the Church. "His religion is not the Christianity of the Arnaulds and Malebranches, of the Fenelons and Bossuets, and solid and sweet fruit of reason and heart in a well-conditioned and wisely cultivated soul; it is a bitter fruit, ripened in the desolate region "of doubt, under the arid breath of despair."

Such was the tenor of this celebrated Report, and, proceeding from a philosopher and critic of the very eminent standing of M. Cousin, its effect could not fail to be immense. The Pascal literature was already considerable, and appeared to comprise almost everything that could be said on its ilustrious subjects, but under this fresh impulse it at once entered on an enormous extension ; the withered stock bios' somed anew, and has ever since been yielding abundant fruit. The first result was the publication, in 1844, by M. Prosper Faugere, of an edition of the "Thoughts," reproducing with the severest accuracy every decipherable word and even half-word of the autograph manuscript, which, he says in his preface, "we have read, or rather studied, page by page, line by line, syllable by syllable, from the beginning to the end, and with the exception of a certain number of words, which we have taken care to mark as illegible, it has passed entire into our edition." It was a work which severely tasked both eye and brain, but he wrought at it, he says, not only with patience, but with an indefatigable passion :" and it had its recompense, for, as Principal Tulloch remarks, "Nothing can deprive M. Faugere of the credit of being the first editor of a complete and authentic text of the 'Pensees'" In some respects, indeed, the work failed to satisfy the more fastidious of Pascal's admirers. The grouping of the fragments was after a scheme of M. Faugere's own, founded on indications which he imagined himself able to trace to Pascal's notes; and it was objected to as being fanciful, and ev. n misleading, as well as novel. Besides, M. Faugere printed indiscriminately everything that was found in the medley of the. autogragh scraps, however trivial or crude, or foreign to the projected work of which the " Pensees " were the rough outline. Other editors, accordingly, soon entered the field, claiming a liberty, not indeed to alter a single word, but to weed and rearrange the text; and the fruits of their labours are to be found in numerous subsequent editions which have continued to pour from the press, the chief of which, we believe, are those of Havet, 1852 ; Lahure, 1858; Louandre, 1866; and Victor Rochet, 1873.

To the interest excited by M. Cousin's Report the students of Pascal owe more than a restoration of the authentic text of the "Thoughts." Both he arui Faugere pushed their researches further, and were rewarded by discoveries that have brought out the figures of Pascal and his remarkable relatives with a clearness which they never possessed before, and have enabled us to recognise in them something more of our own flesh and blood. Of these discoveries we shall speak presently. What made the liveliest stir, however, and gave rise tu the keenest discussion, was the charge of scepticism urged against Pascal, as we have already seen, by M. Cousin with "a pen incisive," to use Sainte-Beuve's phrase, "as a sword of fire." "All at once," adds the same writer in his vivacious way, "there arose a universal conflict ; everyone rushed into print, or at least into speech, for or against Pascal." High as the authority of the accuser stood on such subjects, the accusation found not a few writers of the first rank to challenge its correctness. In France Faugere* and Sainte-Beuvef entered their protest, and were followed by the Abbe Flottes X and the Abbe Maynard, § and later by Prevost-Paradol. From France the controversy qnickly spread to other countries. In Germany Neander made a powerful defence of Pascal as a Christian philosopher, in two lectures delivered before the Royal Academy of Sciences at Berlin ; *H and more recently Pascal's life and conflicts have been treated by Dr. Dreydorff with truly Germa* industry and thoroughness. In Switzerland Pascal found a congenial exponent in the eloquent Vinet, the most eminent perhaps of the French Protestant divines of the present century, and the nearest to him in thought, of

  • " Pensees," Introd. t "Revue des deux Mondes," 1844.

t "Ftudes sur Pascal," 1846. §" Pascal, sa vie et son caractdre," 1850.

S Etudes sur les Moralistes Francais," 1865.

1 Translated by Dr. Tullcch in Kitto's "Journal of Sacred Literature," 1849.

whose collected papers and lectures on Pascal the third edition is now before us. Our own country, to which Pascal had long been dear, was, as it might have been expected, not slow to add her share to t..e debate, and in proportion to the favour which the Thoughts" had long enjoyed with the religious portion of our community was the warmth shown in their defence. Mr. Henry Rogers led the way in his wellknown brilliant essay,* afterwards translated into French by M. Faugere, and waS followed by Mr. (now Principal) Tulloch, f who, to use his own words, "ventured with the confidence of youth to draw from the 'Pensees' the outlines of a Christian philosophy." At the same time the authentic text of the Thoughts" was introduced to English readers by Mr. Pearce's translation of Faugere's edition ; % and, in the excellent history of Port-Royal by Mr. Beard, which we have named at the head of this* article, good use was made of the recent French authorities, and Pascal's philosophical and religious position was indicated with much discrimination. Lastly, not to extend this list of writers, we have Principal Tulloch's recent monograph on Pascal, the ripe fruit of his "long and loving familiarity" with the subject, and written with the aim of "setting before the English reader perhaps a more full and connected account of the life and writings of Pas-al than has yet appeared in our language." Of this little work we have formed a very favourable opinion, and it will probably be for some time to come the favourite popular biography in English of its illustrious subject. A marvel of neat and skilful compression, it only needs a revision of some of its renderings of Pascal's French to be almost perfect in its kind.§ Within its couple of hundred pages may be found everything of importance that is known of

  • "Edin. Beview," January, li*47, on the " Genius and Writings of Pascal."

t" British Quarterly Review," Aug., iKSO. t London, 18T.0.

§ We feel bound to justify this exc ption by producing a few samples of inaccurate translation. In the "Amulet," p. 91, the soul's penitent selt-accusation of havinor departed from God, "Je m'en suis separe" {lhave separated myself from Him), is twice rendered " I am separated from Him." On p. 169, Pascal's saying,

Ceux-la honorent bien la Nature, qui lui apprennent qa elle pent parler de tout, et meme de theologie" (they honour Nature most who leach for that she can discourse of everything, even of theology), is turned into they humour Nature most who learn from, her that she can speak best on all subjects, even on theology." On p. 174 the thought, " Incredules lesplus credules. lis croient les miracles de Vespasien, pour ne pas croire ceux de Moise " (the incredulous are the most credulous. They believe the miracles of Vespasian to escape believing the miracles of Moses), is given as "Unbelievers are very credulous: they believe the miracles of Vespasian, but not thosj of Moses ;" and "Les athees doivent dire des choses parfaitementclaires" (Atheists are bound to say [only] things which are perfectly clear\ is ambiguously represented by Atheists must pronounce things perfectly clear)." Once more, on p. 171, we find a singular perversion of Pascal's meaning; he is suggesting a way of reminding ourselves of a duty which we dislike, and says. " Pour s'en souvenir 11 faut se proposer de faire quelque chose qu'on hait, et lors on s'exense sur ce qu'on a autre chose ii faire et on se souvient de son devoir par ce moyen" (to remember it we should propose to do something we dislike, and then we excuse ourselves on the ground that we have something else to do, and we recollect our duty by this means); in Tulloch the last clause is unaccountably translated "and so again forget our duty in this manner."

the author of the "Provincial Letters" and the "Pensees," whether as a man or a writer; and both his character and his remains are treated with an insight and a breadth, an affectionate sympathy and yet an enlightened discrimination, which leave little to be desired.

Having sketched the story of the revived interest in Pascal, which has stimulated so many researches, and set so many pens at work in the present generation, we propose to use.the materials, new as well as old, thus gradually accumulated, taking care to indicate their sources, for the purpose of setting before our readers as full an account as our space will permit of the character, writings, and place in hterature, f that very remarkable man, of whom a recent writer in this Review has said that "his is the greatest name in the French Church—some may even think the greatest in French literature." *

The original and chief authentic source of our information respecting the incidents of Pascal's life is, of course, the simple and affectionate biography written shortly after his death by the elder of his two sisters, Uilberte, better known as Madame Pirier, whose husband, who was also her cousin, came, like the Pascals, of a family connected with the French Parliaments, and was himself Counsellor of the Court of Aides, at Clermont, in Auvergne. She had her full share in the intellectual power, the beauty, and the capacity for deep religious impressions, which were characteristic of her father, Etienne Pascal, and her brother and sister, Blaise and Jacoueline. The memoir which she has left us of her celebrated brother gives us, as Dr. Tulloch says, a,—

"lively, graphic, and yet dignified, portraiture of his youthful precocity, and again of the de otions and austerities of his later years. But it leaves many gaps unapplied. Like other memoirs of the kind, it is written from a somewhat conventional point of view. "No one, as M. Havct says, was nearer to him iu all senses of the expression, or could have given a more true and complete account of rll the incidents in his life; hut she was not only his sister, but his enthusiastic friend and admirer, in whose eyes he was at once a genius and a saint—a man of (iod called to a great mission. It was from a consciousness of this mission, and from the full glory of his religious fame, that she looked back upon all his life; and the lines in which she draws it are coloured, in consequence, too gravely and monotonously. Certain particulars she drops out of sight altogether."

How much is wanting in this biography may be conjectured from the single fact, that from the first page to the last Port-Royal is not so much as once named in it 1 The idea of Pascal without PortRoyal seems even stranger and more incomplete than would be that of Port-Royal without Pascal. This silence arose from motives of policy, for at the time when Madame Perier wrote, the truce known as the " Peace of Clement IX.," or the "Peace of the. Church," existed between the Jesuits and the Jansenists, and it was deemed prudent to avoid everything that might have disturbed it, or been seized upon as a pretext for renewing the persecution under which the famous convent had already so severely suffered. Even when making

  • " Quarterly Heview," "The Church of France," July, 1878,

an allusion to the authorship of the " Provincial Letters," which had come out under the pseudonym of Louis ue Moutalte, Madame Perier carefully guards herself from sayiug a word about the subject which is handled in them with such inimitable raillery and force, for fear of irritating the Jesuits, who were still smarting under the terrible castration which they had received at Pascal's hands. Her account also of the middle part of her brother's life is very meagre—that part of iu between his "two conversions," as they are called, which he spent "in the world," a period when he was much in the company of his friend the Due de Roannez, and was frequently an inmate of his house, and a member of the gay and not too select society which used to meet there. On this part of his life his sister "does not care to dwell, but hurries forward to the later and more edifying period of his career."

Fortunately, what is wanting in her memoir is to some extent supplied from other sources, rather of a loose and fragmentary kind, which, if they fail to satisfy all our legitimate desires, are yet sufficient to enable us to form a tolerably vivid conception of Pascal's genuine personality and character. It is in the investigation of these sources that MM. Cousin and Faugere have done such good service to the biographies both of Blaise and Jacqueline Pascal in the works which we name below ; f yet so confused is the whole matter, owing to the incoherent and gossiping nature of the materials, the imperfect use made of them by successive editors, and the loss of the original manuscript authorities, that of M. Lelut, in his curious work on the alleged hallucinations of Pascal, arising from bodily disease, is not without plausibility when he throws ridicule on the pretensions of the modern editors to have made any important additions to our knowledge of Pascal's life, and goes so far as to assert that the only new matter brought to light by them is a silly story of Pascal's having been bewitched in his cradle ! * That this way of representing the matter is substantially unjust to those who have laboured to set the genuine Pascal before us as clearly as is now possible, we have no hesitation in saying ; and in fairness to them we shall endeavour to explain how the case, as it appears to us, really stands.

It will be recollected how carefully the friends of Pascal, after his death, collected and bound together the autograph fragments from which the volume of the " Thoughts" was published. But besides these invaluable remains, they gathered together and reverently treasured up every document which they could obtain relative both to him and his saintly sister Jacqueline, who had died shortly before him in the convent of Port-Royal, in the tenth year of her profession. In this way they amassed a considerable quantity of letters,

  • " Jacqneline Pascal;" par M. V. Cousin. 1846. "Lettres, Opuscules et Memoires de Madame Perier, et ds Jacqueline, sasurs de Pascal, et de Marguerite Perier, sa niece;" par M. P. Faigere. I(s4i,

t "L'Amolette de Pascal." p. 220, par M. Wlut. 1846.

which had passed between them or from them to their friends, together with short anecdotes, notices, extracts from the archives of Port-Royal, and other fragmentary documents bearing upon their history; altogether a pretty extensive collection of materials invaluable for the biographer. Among these was a simple memoir of Jacqueline, drawn up by her sister, Madame Perier, which it was not deemed prudent to publish during the Port-Royal troubles, but of which a mutilated version first saw the light nearly a century afterwards in a volume entitled "Vies des Religieuses de Port-Royal," published in 1751.* After the death of the elder Periers, and their son the Abbe, all these papers came into the possession of their daughter Marguerite, the last survivor of the family, who enriched tliem with a supplementary life of her uncle Blaise from her own pen. This Marguerite was the same who, when a child under education at PortRoyal in the midst of its sorrows, was the subject of the famous so called Miracle of the Holy Thorn, by which she was supposed to have been instantaneously cured of an inveterate running fistula of the eye; an event all the more remarkable for its not only having obtained for itself the unhesitating belief of Arnauld, the most profound scholar, Le Maitre, the most eminent advocate, and Pascal, the greatest genius of the time, but also for having so strongly impressed the minds even of the enemies of Port-Royal, as to stay for a considerable period their endeavours to break up and disperse the community. For us it is sufficient to say, with Sir James Stephen,! that "time must be at some discount with any man who should employ it in adjusting the balance of improbabilities in such a case as this." But what is certain is, that Marguerite Perier survived the miracle nearly fourscore years, and died unmarried at Clermont in 1733, at the age of eight-seven, being the last depositary of the traditions of PortRoyal. By her all the Pascal papers in her possession were finally confided to the keeping of the Fathers of the Oratory at Clermont; with the exception already mentioned, they were never printed, and they are believed to have perished in the ravages of the Revolution.

While, however, the oiiginal manuscripts have disappeared, and their loss has deprived us of the means of getting the additional facts of Pascal's life at first hand, a considerable part of the information contained in these papers was given to the world in a small but thick volume of 000 pages, published anonymously at Utrecht in 1740, and commonly cited as the " Recueil d'Utrecht," its full title being " Recueil de plusieurs pieces pour servir a l'histoire de Port-Royal. The longest piece in this volume, occupying 107 pages, is called a " Memoir on the Life of M. Pascal, and containing also some particulars about his relatives." No author's name is given, but a notice prefixed to it says that it was "compiled from a considerable number of pieces

•Cousin's "Jacqueline Pascal," p. 89, note. t "Essay on the Port-Royalists."


found among the papers of Madlle. Marguerite Perier, who wrote a life of Pascal and some other pieces." Of this anonymous Memoir, which is very loosely put together, subsequent writers on Pascal seem to have made free use, with little or no acknowledgment, to supplement the well-known but meagre life by his sister, commonly prefixed to the editions of the Thoughts ;" but, owing partly to the absence of the original authorities, and partly to the gossiping and incomplete character of the Utrecht Memoir, these additions were enveloped in a vagueness and uncertainty which were far from being satisfactory.

At this point comes in M. Faugere's fortunate discovery. Hearing that papers relative to Port-Royal and the Jansenist Solitaries were believed to be in the possession of a certain M. Bellaigue, whose ancestors had been connected with the Pascals, and who was living in the neighbourhood of Clermont, of the local court of which town he had been for many years a judge, M. Faugere paid him a visit, and found in him a devout and somewhat austere octogenarian, of reserved ajid ascetic manners, who cherished the memories of PortRoyal with intense enthusiasm, and might himself be not improperly designated as the last of the Jansenists in France. As they talked over St. Cyran and the Arnaulds, over Singlin, De Saci, and the Pascals, the old man's heart warmed to his visitor, and in reply to his enquiries for relics of these heroes of Port-Royal, he drove off with him to his house in the town, unfastened his shutters, opened his dusty drawers, took out two precious manuscripts from their long hiding-place, and placed them in M. Faugere's hands. It does not need to be oneself a keen and enthusiastic editor, to conceive of the eagerness with which M. Faugere turned the pages of these resuscitated treasures, and of the astonishment and delight with which he recognised in them authentic copies of a large part at least of the Pascal papers which had been committed by Marguerite Perier to the care of the Oratorian Fathers at Clermont. These copies, as it appeared from their superscriptions, had been made by one of the Fathers, whose pupil M. Bellaigue had been in early youth, Pierre Ouerrier by name, a relative as well as friend of Marguerite, being a great-nephew of Blaise Pascal by the mother's side; and they comprised Madame Perier's Life of Jacqueline, Marguerite's supplementary memoir of Blaise, and a large number of letters and documents connected with the Pascals and other members of the Port-Royal group. Comparing the Utrecht memoir with these recovered papers, which have been published by M. Faugere in the volume already named, it appears that almost every fact contained in them relative to Pascal's life had been in some way incorporated in that memoir, so that scarcely anything which can be called absolutely new has resulted from the discovery of the Guerrier manuscripts. But it is no less true that, besides the verification thus afforded of many of the current facts, the facts themselves have been brought into a clearer light, and stamped ■with a new value. It is by their contributions to this result that MM. Cousin and Faugere have earned their laurels. To claim for them the merit of having added new chapters to the story of Pascal's life would undoubtedly be to exaggerate their achievements; but in the sense of verifying, illustrating, and rendering more precious what we already possessed, their claim to have made us better acquainted with that illustrious man seems to be indisputable.

There was certainly one discovery made by M. Cousin which, if we can trust it, is of singular interest. Searching for manuscripts of Pascal he came across one of considerable length, and hitherto entirely unknown, bearing the title, "Discourse on the Passions of Love, attributed to M. Pascal;" and such was the importance attached to its discovery by the finder, that he declared it to be in itself a sufficient recompense for all his labours. To doubt that the author of this piece, whoever he may have been, described love from his own experience is scarcely possible. As Faugere remarks, " It is truly the language of one who has loved ;" and Dr. Tulloch, "There is the breath of true passion all through the piece and touching as with fire many of its many fine utterances." The personal feeling in such sentences as the following is too marked to be easily overlooked:

"The pleasure of loving without venturing to speak of one's love has its pains, opt also its sweetnesses. . . . When we are absent from the beloved object, we resolve to do or say many things; but when present with her we are irresolute. Why is this? It is because in absence the reason is not so much disturbed ; but it is strangely so in the presence of the object, and to be resolute needs a firmness whichtnedisiurbar.ee dispels. . . . When we love deeply, it is always anew sensation to see the beloved one; after a moment of absence, we feel her wanting in our heart. What joy to find her again! We instantly exp rience a cessation 01 inquietude."

Yet there was something so startling as to provoke resistance and incredulity in the idea of the austere, ascetic author of the " Pensees," the Solitary of Port-Royal, having ever felt the sweet pain of earthly passion and poured ont his heart in such glowing sentences. To use again Sainte-Beuve's words: "Tliey went from surprise to surprise; from Pascal sceptical to Pascal amorous!" One cannot wonder that in some quarters M. Cousin's discovery met with ridicule. He himself, however, had never any doubt of the authorship. "In the first line," he says, " I felt Pascal, and my conviction of its authorship grew as I proceeded." Faugere and Havet express themselves as equally certain. "The soul and thought of Pascal, remarks the former, *' reveal themselves everywhere in these pages ;" and the latter, "The mark of Pascal is everywhere in it." But granting it to be Pascal's, who was the lady? Here the biographies fail to give ns any assistance. Pascal's ascetic friends at Port-Royal would probably have deemed it a treachery to his sainted memory to betray such an earthly weakness, even had they been well aware of its existence. His niece, Marguerite, does indeed tell us that at the time when we know that he was living " In the world," in intimacy with the Due de Roannez, her uncle contemplated procuring an appointment and marrying. This statement, however, while giving to the supposed authorship of the discourse a not inconsiderable colour of probability, fails to afford us any clue as to the fair one. But the piece itself gives a hint, if we may trust the intimation which the following passage appears not indistinctly to supply:

"In solitude man Is an incomplete being; to be happy he needs companionship. He usually seeks this in a like rank with his own . . . But sometimes he fixes his affection on one above his own rank, and the flame burns the fiercer because he is compelled to conceal it. When we love without equality of rank, ambition may accompany the commencement of love, but in a little time love becomes the master. He is a tyrant who does not suffer a companion ; he wills to be alone: all passions mus. yield to him and obey him."

On this passage Ha vet remarks, "It is clear that a woman of high rank had touched the heaA of Pascal," but he refuses to indulge in any conjecture as to who she was. Faugere is bolder and suggests that the object of Pascal's flame may, in all probability, be found in Charlotte Oouffier de Iioaunez, sister of Pascal's friend the Duke. This high-born lady's story is a sad one. She was about ten years younger than Pascal, and was therefore in the earliest bloom of womanhood during the few years of his close intercourse with her brother. From Marguerite Perier we learn that about two years after Pascal's final retirement from the world, Madlle. de Roannez, while engaged in a nine days' devotion to the Holy Thorn at Port-Royal for a cure of a disorder in her eyes, was seized with a fervent desire to become a nun, and clandestinely flying from her mother's house to the convent, she took the first vows and became a novice under the name of Sister Charlotte of the Passion. Compelled, however, by a royal order to leave the convent, she shut herself up at home and lived for a time in rigorous seclusion, continually renewing her vow of virginity at the Sacrament, and being encouraged by her Port-Royalist friends to persevere in her resolve to enter the cloister. This lasted for several years, but after the death of Pascal and of her director, M. Singlin, her resolution gave way and she was persuaded to marry, and through her brother's surrender of his rights in her favour she became Duchesse de la Feuillade. The marriage was not a happy one; she had children, but lost them early ; her own health failed, and at last, sinking unier an operation, she found in death the rest which neither the cloister nor the world had been permitted to yield her.

It is to this lady that circumstances, in M. Faugere's opinion, point as the object of Pascal's attachment, "with the force of a real demonstration." All that we venture to say to this attempt at identification is, that she was young, charming, intimate with Pascal, and endowed with a mind capable of appreciating him; and that if, as Cousin objects, the social usages of the time would have forbidden a marriage, at least they could not have secured Pascal's heart against the entrance of a silent, adoring passion for her. In after years he certainly corre

sponded with her as a kind of spiritual director, and portions of his letters to her are still extant, which, although pruned down by the Jansenist copyists, are marked, as Faugere says, by a warm attachment and tender solicitude. Nor perhaps ought it to be overlooked that Pascal's second conversion and final retirement from the world followed almost immediately after the cessation of his personal acquaintance with her ; a fact which appears to Dreydorff so significant as to make him wonder that "none of Pascal's biographers have thought of connecting his quick transformation with this grievous disappointment," and gives rise to the following remark of Dr. Tulloch's, with which we close this part of the subject:

"How far this [the motive of his final retirement] was the working of his old religious convictions, continually renewing their influence through the conversation of his sister, how far it was mere weariness and disgust with the frivolities of fashionable life, and how far it may have been baffled hope and the disenchantments of a broken dream of love, we cannot clearly tell."

It will be our endeavour now to put before the reader an intelligible account of the two works on which Pascal's fame chiefly rests, in doing which we shall give credit to his recent editors and commentators for the help which they have furnished to enable us to appreciate better than was before possible these imperishable fruits of his genius.

As far as the " Provincial Letters " are concerned, the " Little Letters," as they were familiarly styled by the thousands of readers who eagerly expected and greedily devoured them, as one by one they came out in the height of the Jansenist disputes, there was no room left for achieving anything of importance. They are a finished work the text of which, after their collection into a volume, received Pascal's final revision. They tell their own tale with such admirable lucidity, as to leave no obscurities for the commentator to clear up ; and nothing new remained to be said of the perfection of their style and art. The only thing added to our knowledge about them by "the recent researches were supplied by M. Faugere's discovery amongst the manuscripts of some of Pascal's rough notes and first drafts, which are interesting as showing us the consummate artist in language actually at work, elaborating and refining his exquisite sentences. It is as if we were admitted into the sculptor's studio and permitted to watch his movements, as with modelling tool in hand he adds new graces to the figure which is growing into beauty beneath his touch In our own time we imagine the "Little Letters" are not so much read as formerly; many more persons probably know them by name than have any acquaintance with their contents. The fact is thattc us the controversies with which they deal are practically extinct; the deadly battles between Jansenist and Molinist over such incomprehensible subtleties as the proximate power " (le pouvoir prochain), which empowers without enabling, and the grace which is sufficient but does not suffice, and requires something more to make it efficacious—these theological battles, which the earlier Letters treat with such inimitable ridicule and wit, have long since passed intts richly merited oblivion ; while upon the morality raught by th» Jesuit casuists, such as Escobar, of which the larger part of the Letters is an indignant and crushing exposure, the verdict of tha world in general has been irrevocably pronounced. It is rather for the unrivalled felicity of their style than for their substance that the Letters are of enduring value. Yet, in one point of view, they still possess and will possess for a long time to come, it is to be feared, a living interest which grows out of them apart from their particular subject, though far perhaps from having been consciously intended by the author. Never were the depths to which it is possible for theological controversy to sink illustrated with such irresistible wit and scathing satire; never were the barren subtleties, the dishonest evasions, and rancorous personalities, which are its besetting danger, so vividly and instructively depicted. If the actual controversy in which Pascal dealt those terrible strokes on the Jesuits is laid up among the fossil remains of the past, it would be too much to flatter ourselves that there are no longer any religious disputants to whom he holds up a mirror, or any Churches which may derive profit from the warning which his pages insinuate. Indeed, as we laugh over the admirable irony, it almost seems as if we had but to change the names and terms to fit it to many an ecclesiastical conflict of onr own day How mod rn in spirit is the following extract from the first Letter! The puzzled enquirer, whom Pascal ingeniously depicts as endeavouring in the simplicity of his heart to understand what is really meant by the proximate power, to acknowledge which the Jesuits and the Doctors of the Sorbonne declared to be indispensable to orthodoxy, after in vain applying to one and another for an explanation of the uncouth term, at last exclaimed in despair:

"Tell me, I entreat yon, my fathers, for the last time, what I must believe in order to be a Catholic. 'You must say,' they all cried at once, 'that all the righteous possess the proximate power. . * . What need can there be, I argued, for using a term which has no authority, and to which no one is able to attach a defimte meaning ?' You are an opinionated fellow,' they replied; 'you shall use the word, or you are an beritic, and M. Arnauld too; for we are the majority, and if necessary we can bring the Cordeliers into the field to vote with us and carry the day.'"

And again this, from the third letter:

Here is a new species of heresy. It is not the opinions of M. Arnauld that are heretical, but only his person. The matter is one of personal heresy. He is not a heretic for anything that he has said or written, but merely because he is M. Arnauld. This is all that they are able to say against him. Whatever he may do. unless he ceases to exist he will never be a good Catholic. The grace defined by St. Augustine will never be the true grace so long as he defends it. It would be all right, if only he would attack it."

One of the charms of the Letters is found in the transitions from mocking irony and light banter to indignant and sustained denuncia . tion. If of the former it may be Raid, with Dr, Tulloch, that Pascal

L M 2-21

"hits with the lightest stroke, and in the-most natural manner, yet his lash cuts the flesh, and leaves an intolerable smart," the latter may be described as rising to the sublime, and being terrible as the strokes of doom. For as Pascal's acquaintance with the system of casuistry unfolded by the Jesuit teachers increased during the controversy, his austere soul was appalled by the subtle equivocations and scandalous refinements by which sin was extenuated and guih robbed of its terrors ; and in his righteous wrath he flung away the foils, as he expresses it, and betook himself to deadly earnest. We can give but a single specimen of each style from this part of the Letters, and we must warn the reader that no translation can do jus tice to the felicitous turns and delicate points and edges of the phraseology of this consummate master of language. Our first extract is taken from the fourth letter, where the enquirer, with an air of ingenuous simplicity, is drawing the Jesuit on to make a frank exposition of the system:

"'Read,' said he, 'the Summary of Sins,'by Father Bauny, the fifth edition, which shows that it is a good book; look at page 900.' I read as follows: *In order to sin and be guilty before God, one must be conscious that the ibing one wishes to do is not good; at least one must suspect or fear that it is not good; one must be pretty sure that God is not pleased with it and forbids it, yet boldly take the leap and go in for it.* This begins well, I remarked. 'Yet,' said he,' just observe to what lengths envy will carry some people, It was on this very passage that M. Hallier, before he joined us, rallied Father Bauny, saying of him, 'Behold the man*who takes away the sins of the world.' True, I replied, this is quite a new view of redemption, according to Father Bauny. 4 See again the writings of M. Le Moine, approved by the whole Sorbonne. ... He shows that all these things •just specified] must consciously take place within the soul to constitute sin ; unless they all puss there the action cannot be really sinful,' O my father, cried I, what a blessing is this for many of my acquaintances I Never were people of fever Bins met with, for they never think about God at all! . . . Their sad excesses used to make me fear thet they must certainly be lost; but, my father, you tell me that the very excess of thoir vices renders their salvation certain. Blessings on you, my father, for whitewashing people in this way I What a capital mode of being happy in both worlds! I had always fancied that one sinned the more, the less one thought of God ; but now I see that as soon as one can get Him out of one's head altogether, all goes right for the future. No more half-and-half sinners, who retain a lingering inclination towards virtue; they will all be damned, those sinners by halves. But for the out-and-out sinners, the hardened sinners, the sinners without reserve, in full and brimming measure, no L31I for them; they cheat the devil by the very thoroughness with which they abandon themselves to him."

Of the severer invective, the following sample is taken from the peroration of the tenth letter; it deals with the casuistry by which the obligation to love God is refined away:

"They violate the great commandment in which the law and the prophets are summed up; they strike at the very hflart of religion; they take away the spirit which giveth life. They aver that the love of God is not necessary to salvation; they even go so far as to profe-39 that a deliverance from the obligation to love Ood is the special privilege which Jssus Chruu has obtained for us. This is the very climax of impiety. The price of the blood of Jesus the purchase for us of a diepensation from loving him I . . . Strange theology of our time I They dare to take away the anathema which St. Paul.pronounced against those who love not the Lord Jesus; tuey overthrow the eayiug of Si. John, 1 He that lovcth not abidclh 10 death,* and even Christ's own words,' He that loveth Mo not koepeth not My commandments.' Thus it is that they make those worthy of enjoying (lod in eternity who have never loved God in all their lives. There is the mystery of iniquity accomplished I"

To these extracts wo will add a fine specimen of declamation from the close of the twelfth letter ; which we select the more readily, be cause it is the passage distinguished by M. Villeman's glowing eulogy, "Neither Demosthenes, nor Chrysostom, nor Bossuet, eve; produced anything more sublime than these sentences" : *

"The abuse which you pour forth on roe will throw no light on our controversy and the menaces with which You assail me will not hinder me from defending myself. You think that you have force and impunity on your side; but on mine! think that I have truth and innocence. A strange and long warfare it is, when violence endeavours tooppress truth. All the efforts of violence can avail nothing to weaken truth, and serve only to make it supreme. All the light of truth can avail nothing to arrest violence, and on y provokes it the more. "When force combats force, the stronger destroys the weaker; when arguments are opposed to arguments, the truer and more convincing confound and scatter tho-.o wiiicn rest only on vanity and falsehood ; but violence and truth are powerless against each other. Yet think not that they are therefore on a level. Between them is this absolute difference, that the course of violence is limited by the decree of God. who compels it to promote the glory of the truth which it attacks ; while truth subsists eternally, and finally triumphs over its enemies, because it is eternal and strong even as God Himself."

It must be conceded to Frenchmen, that they are the best judges of style in their own language, and with the exception of a few aggrieved theologians and apologists for the Jesuits, like De Maistre and the Abbe Maynard, their judgment on the style of the "Provincial Letters" is unanimous, and in a strain of eulogy which may be pronounced unique. For the sake especially of our younger readers we may be pardoned for reproducing here some of the leading- testimonies to its excellence. Writing within a generation of Pascal, Per rault points with triumph to the Letters as more than rivalling anything- in antiquity. "Everything is there," he says; "purity in the language, nobleness in the thoughts, solidity in the reasoning, and throughout them an agreeableness which one can scarcely find elsewhere. A small work, you object; but what matters the smallness, if in those eighteen letters there is more wit than in all the dialogues of Plato, more fine and delicate raillery than in those of Lucian, more force and art of reasoning than in those of Cicero ?"f If this sounds extravagant, we may turn to a contemporary of Perrault's, whose own proficiency in style fully entitles her to be heard,'Madame de Sevigne, who in a letter dated Dec. 21, 1689, writes: "Sometimes, to divert ourselves, we read the little Letters of Pascal. Good heavens, how charming 1 Can any one have a style more perfect, a raillery finer, more natural, more delicate, a worthier daughter of

  • Essay prefixed to his edition of the "Prov. Letters." Paris, L',29.

t "Parallele des Anciens," <tec , vol. ii. published in 16S9.


those dialogues of Plato which are so beautiful?" From another of her letters, Jan. 15, 1690, we get the opinion of Boileau (his proper name, it will be recollected, was Despreaux), whose encounter with the Jesuit Corbinelli is told in the following lively fashion:

"They wore talking of the works of the ancients and the moderns, and DeBpreaux backed the ancients with the exception of a single modern writer, who in his opinion surpassed both the oid and the new. Bourdalou's companion asktid what was the book he prized so highly, iind Despreaux being reluctant to name it Corbinelli said, 'I beg yon, Sir, to tell me, that 1 may spend the night in reading it To which Despreaux answered with a laugh, 'Ah, sir, you have already read it more than once, I am sure/ Assuming a look of disdain, the Jesuitpressed him to name this marvellous author. 'My father, don't urge me.' replied Despreaux. But the father still insisting, Despreaux squeezed his arm very hard and said, 'My father, you will have it; morbleu, it is Pascal.' 'Pascal,' cried the father, reddening and utterly astonished; 'Pascal is as fine as what is false can be.' 4 False!' retorted the o.her, 'false! know that it is inimitable ; it has just been translated into three languages.' The father replied that it was no more true for all that. On this Despreaux grew warm and shouted like a madman, 1 What, my father, will you deny that one of your order has declared in a book of his that a Christian is not obliged to love God?' 'Sir,'said the„father in a rage, 'one must distinguish.' 'Distinguish !' roared Despreaux, 'distinguish, morbleu, distinguish, distinguish if we are obliged to love God!' and taking Corbinelli by the arm he rushed with him to the other end of the room ; then returning, running like one out of his senses, he would not again go near the father, but joined the company in the dining-room; and there the story ends, and the curtain falls."

It is reported of Bossuet by Voltaire, in his "Age of Louis XIV.," that when asked what book next to his own he would like best to have written, he replied, "The 'Provincial Letters.'" Voltaire's own admiration of their literary qualities is freely expressed by him in the same work, where he pronounces them to have been "the first work of genius in prose," and affirms that "the best comedies of Moliere have not more wit than the earlier ones, nor has Bossuet anything more sublime than the later ones." * The great Chancellor D'Aguesseau says that "the 'Provincial Letters,' especially the later ones, may be placed boldly beside our great orators, and I know not which ought most to fear the comparison. The fourteenth especially is a masterpiece of eloquence, rivalling all that is most admirable in antiquity, and I doubt if the Philippics of Demosthenes and Cicero present anything more forcible and more perfect." f - D'Alembert calls the work "a cliej'-d'oiuvre of wit and eloquence," which will be "eternally esteemed a model of good taste and style," and notes that "there is not a single word in it which has become obsolete; and. although written a hundred years ago, it seems as if written yesterday." "This work," he adds, "has the more merit, as Pascal, in composing it, appears to have hit intuitively upon two things which do not seem made to be reached by intuition—namely, language and

pleasantry."* Chateaubriand says that it "fixed the language which Bossuet and Racine spoke, and gave a model of the most perfect pleasantry as well as of the closest reasoning."! ln our own time the eulogy of Voltaire has been adopted by Sainte-Beuve, who, speaking of the influence of Pascal on Moliere and La Bruyere, adds that "the author of Tartuffe and the painter of Onuphre are the direct successors and heirs of the Pascal of the 'Provincial Letters.' " \

Such has been the almost unanimous verdict of Pascal's own countrymen on the literary merits of his finished work; and so far as Englishmen have any right to speak on such a topic, they have amply confirmed it. Gibbon ascribes to his frequent study of the " Letters" his^own proficiency in the art of sarcastic innuendo. "From the 'Provincial Letters' of Pascal," he says, "which almost every year I have perused with new pleasure, I learned to manage the weapon of grave and temperate irony, even on subjects of ecclesiastical solemnity." § Lord Macaulay is reported to have classed them with two other works as the most perfect that he knew in the whole range of literature. | Sir J. Stephen speaks of the prodigies of Pascal's pen," and having contrasted him with Junius, very greatly to the disadvantage of the latter, adds that in the whole compass of literature, ancient and modern, there is probably nothing in the same style which could bear a comparison with the 'Provincial Letters.' " If

To the same effect, if more poetically expressed, is the judgment of Mr. Rogers, who writes that Pascal's "just image is that of the youthful athlete of Greece, in whom was seen the perfection of physical beauty and physical strength ;" and that "the French, under the hands of Pascal, assumes forms of beauty by a still and noiseless movement, and as by a sort of enchantment." Such testimonies might easily be multiplied, but it is enough to supplement them with Dr. Tulloch's remark, that "none can doubt the immortality of the genius which has so long given life to such a controversy, and charmed so many of the highest judges of literary form."

In regard to the fairness of Pascal as a polemic, and the merits of

  • " Stir la destruction dcs Jcsuites en France,' (Euvres, torn. ii. Paris, 1831-'2. In Mr. Rogers's Essay, the latter of these passages is quoted without any reference being given, and probably at second-hand; and by a curious blunder, which remains uncorrected in the collected editions of his essays, its eense is entirely altered. It is made to run thus: 'This work is is so much the more admirable, as Pascal, in composing it, seems to have theologized two things, which seem not made for the theology or that time—language and pleasantry.' The original is as follows: 'C-1 ouvrage a d'aut .nt plus de merite, que Pascal, en !e coniposant, semble avoir devine deux choses qui ne paraissent pas faites pour etre dcvinAes, la tongue et la plaixanterw.' Is it possible that by a misprint the translator was betrayed into connecting divine with divinity, and so with theology?

t" Genie du Christianisme," part lii., liv. ii., ch. 4.

t "Port-Royal," vol ii.

§ Autobiography," p. 84.

I See Article on " The Church of France." in " Quarterly Review," July, 1873. 1 Essay on "The Port-Royalists."

the cause which he so vigorously defended, there has been, as might have been anticipated, less unanimity of opinion. Those who smarted under his lash could not fail to accuse him of misrepresenting them; and the name bestowed by them on the "Letters," "the immortal liars," which neatly expresses the mingled rage and admiration of the party of the Jesuits, has. been seriously re-echoed by later writers of note ; as by De Maistre in his remark, "No man of taste cnn deny that the 'Provincial Letters' are an extremely pretty libel" (un fort joli libelle);* and by Chateaubriand, who, to use Dr. Tulloch's words, "in his new-born zeal for the Church could say of their author—Pascal is only a calumniator of genius, he has left us an immortal lie." Even Voltaire says that the book rests on a false foundation, because it charges on the Jesuits at large the extravagances of a few ; f a remark which seems to overlook the fact that none of the Jesuit books could appear without the sanction of the Order. With greater reason it has been pointed out by M. Bordas Demoulin, in his " Eloge sur Pascal," which received the prize ot the French Academy, | that the right was by no means all on Pascal's side; it was Molina and the Jesuits who defended the cause of human freedom, and on that side they were strong, for they had the truth with them. To the same effect is the contention of the Abbe Maynard, in his passionate indictment of the "Letters," contained in the "Introduction Gendrale" prefixed to his edition of them. § The reference here is of course to the part of the dispute which turned on the nature and effect of the Divine grace, and its bearing becomes evident when we recollect that beneath the verbal forms of the controversy lay the insoluble antagonism between predestination and freewill. The Augustinian doctrine, inherited through Jansen and St. Cyran by the entire group of Port-Royalists, and clung to by them through all their persecutions as being of the very essence of their Christianity, was embraced by Pascal with all the fervour of a soul overpowered by a conviction of the nothingness of man, and the sovereign omnipotence of God ; and, when pushed to its logical consequences, it seems necessarily to reduce man to an irresponsible machine. In their recoil from this result the Jesuits had espoused the opposite doctrine, which ascribes to man at least such a measure of freewill as makes him responsible, and empowers him to co-operate with the Divine grace; but fearing, on one hand, openly to contradict St. Augustine, and to incur the accusation of Pelagianism, and on the other to lose the support of the Dominicans and Thomists, who were really Augustinians, they had recourse to those absurd distinctions and discreditable evasions on which Pascal poured out his matchless raillery. That

their shifts and equivocations were supremely ridiculous is beyond question; but unless we are prepared in our aggrandizement of grace to surrender human freewill altogether, the cause which in advocacy of the Jesuits became both ridiculous and odious is perhaps at bottom more deserving of respect than the harsh dogma that really lay at the foundation of this part of Pascal's polemic.

In his attack on the moral theology of the casuists, which is carried on through the larger portion of the Letters, Pascal's good faith is unquestionable; from no disposition could conscious and wilful misrepresentation be more alien than from his. What pains he took to be accurate in his statements and quotations, he tells us himself. He read Escobar's seven volumes twice through; and, while compelled to avail himself of the services of his friends in hunting out pertinent passages from the ponderous volumes of other standard writers on casuistry, he assures us that he never quoted a passage without having actually "read it in the book from which it was cited, without having examined the subject of which it treats, and without having read what went before and what followed it." Yet, to a certain extent, the result must be held open to the charge of unfairness: it made the Jesuit system appear even fouler than it really was. Those who have looked into the huge works of the scientific writers on casuistry know how complicated and inexhaustible are the distinctions and qualifications with which all conceivable kinds and degrees of human sin are described, catalogued, and appraised by them, and how easy it is to lose one's way in the monstrous and endless labyrinth. For an assailant of the system to extract from such works hundreds and thousands of telling passages, which revolt the unsophisticated mora? sense, and seem purposely intended to smoth the path of sin, is the simplest thing possible, and every one of them may be quoted correctly, and exhibited with unimpeachable fairness. Yet, when all these passages are skilfully marshalled by the hand of the controver salist, detached from the scientific discussions in which they were embedded, and from the interminable qualifications that were woven around them, the almost inevitable effect is to produce a picture so. charged with lurid and revolting hues that it might with sincerity be accused of wilful and calumnious misrepresentation. Even Dreydorff allows this, although for himself, in his intense abhorrence of Jesuitism, he adopts Pascal's view without qualification, and thinks him even moderate in drawing up his terrible indictment.

"If. he writes, "even in these days it is not easy to brine; home to everybody the conviction, that no heathTM system of religion, no materializing; philosophy, has ever nl-oduced a more shameless and fatal system of morals than Jesuitism, we can readily understand how the best of Pascal's opponents, who clung to the established order of things at any price, might be honestly of opinion that he had allowed himself to be drawn into exaggerations. >.

Nor was it only by presenting the incriminated passages in their •hocking bareness, and concentrating them in an overwhelming accusation, that Pascal's polemic may be said to have dealt somewhat hardly with the Jesuit writers on casuistry. He pilloried them as if the whole perverted system of moral teaching which he assails and denounces was exclusively theirs, overlooking the fact that they were but the most thoroughgoing and logical exponents of a principle by no means peculiar to them, but common to the Church to which both he and they belonged. Let it once be admitted that the conscience is to be directed by an external rather than by an internal authority, through a discipline of confession and penance reduced to an elaborate scientific system, and one has no right to be scandalized at the fruits which the principle bears, when applied with the aim of driving none to despair and losing none from the Church. In the hands of those who, like ourselves, reject and condemn the principle, Pascal's contention is as just as it is forcible ; but for him who, at least tacitly, accepted the principle, as he accepted the whole system, of the Church of Rome, of which he always professed himself a faithful son. it was not equally open to complain of the consequences to which tHat principle led, when applied by those who had not the safeguard of a moral sensibility as acute as his own to restrain them from carrying it out to its extreme results. This is well put by Dr. Tulloch in a few weighty sentences which we quote with pleasure:

"The Jesuit system of morality was the growth of the Jesuit principle of accommodation, added on to the Roman principle of authority. Looking at morality entirely from without, as an artificial mo'le of regulating life and society for the supreme good of the Church, the Jesuit casuists were driven, under the necessities o.f such a system, from point to point, till all essential moral distinction was lost in the mechanical manipulations of their schools. . - . In the pages of Pascal the Jesuits too obviously made a deplorable business both of religion and morality. But tbey were as much the victims as the authors of a system which Rome had sanctioned, and which came directly from the claims which it made to govern the world, not merely by spiritual suasion, but by external influence. Jesuitism may be bad, and the Jesuit morality exposed by Pascal abominable, but the one and the other are the natural outgrowth of a Church which had become a mechanism for the regulation of human conduct, rather than a spiritual power addressing freely the human heart and conscience."

We must pass on now to Pascal's other immortal work. It has been already seen with what force of language M. Cousin's Report exposed the inaccuracy of the text of the Thoughts" in all the editions, without exception, which up to that time had been given to the world. The more minute examination of the manuscripts, made afterwards by M. Faugere, led him to a conclusion which was substantially the same, if expressed with a less vigorous rhetoric. Of the Port-Royalists he complains that they modify the style of Pascal in a thousand ways ; sometimes breaking up his thoughts into many fragments, which they scatter in an arbitrary manner; sometimes, on the other hand, joining together isolated and distinct fragments to form out of them a complete passage; and, lastly, introducing incessantly into the text of the great writer expressions, and occasionally whole phrases, which replace the originality of genius by periphrasis and commonplace." "Never," he .adds, "whother in the first edition, or in those which followed, do twenty consecutive lines occur without presenting some alteration, large or small. As to total omissions or partial suppressions, they are innumerable."

Entirely accurate as this statement is in its separate particulars, the impression left by it as a whole seems to us to exceed the truth. At first we might be inclined to say, with 51. Faugere, that M. Cousin's Report had caused one of the finest works in the French language to disappear from our libraries; and Vinet is quoted by Faugere as expressing himself to that effect. But then Vinet immediately adds, "Let us not exaggerate; we did not possess the 'Thoughts' of Pascal, but we certainly possessed his thought. In the restored text the outlines of his thought will be more clearly and sharply defined, but that is all." No doubt many of Pascal's remarks had been suppressed, many toned down, attenuated, and mutilated : of the most original and exquisite turns of his phraseology not a few had been barbarously pruned away ; of the freshness and force of his thought much had been enervated and reduced to mediocrity and commonplace. He had fared, at the hands of his editors as the delicate traceries of the masterpieces of mediaeval architecture used to suffer under the brush of the Philistines of the last century, who thought by a uniform coating of whitewash to array them in a prim and smug respectability. But although under this treatment his thought was often robbed of the grace, the fire, the sharp precision, with which it sprang from his genius, its substance was apparent through every disfiguration. As Sainte-Beuve observes: The task of the original editors was not so ill done, since they gave us a book which everyone admired, the most eminent minds approved, and we have lived on for two centuries." Still less does it appear just to say, with Mi Cousin, that the restoration of the genuine text has made a sceptic of Pascal. The difference between the Pascal of the modern editions and the Pascal of the old is assuredly not one of kind, but at the most only of degree. "The Pascal of the Due de Roannez," Vinet rightly says, "the Pascal of the Abbe Bossut is neither more nor less of a Pyrrhonist than the i ascal of the manuscript." If he may be justly charged with scepticism now, there was evidence enough to sustain the same charge before. The passages on which it is founded may be more numerous, more accentuated, than those which his friends saw fit to publish; but they certainly do not change the basis of his faith, nor reverse his intellectual attitude towards Christianity. Whether even now they justify M. Cousin's indictment we shall consider presently, after we have given such an account of the book as our space will allow.

As we have already seen, the loose papers to which Pascal committed his ideas when meditating a work in defence of religion, furnished the materials for the volume of "Thoughts" published after has death. The selection, however, was not strictly confined to the fragments intended to be used in that work; interesting thoughts on

various subjects were found among his papers or were otherwise known to the editors, and some of these were incorporated in the volume, which was accordingly described as "A Collection of the Thoughts of M. Pascal on Religion and some other subjects." It is to the part of the work containing the miscellaneous thoughts that most of the larger subsequent additions properly belong, and the pieces gradually added during nearly two centuries have now nearly doubled the size of the original. Among the most important of these are the conversations on " Epictetus and Montaigne," and on the "Condition of the Great ;" the Art of Persuasion ;" the discussion on the Use of Authority in Philosophy ;" thoughts on the Jesuits and memoranda for the " Provincial Letters ;" and the discourses on the "Geometrical Intellect," and the " Passion of Love." Striking as some of these are, even in their fragmentary state, and important as illustrating the incisive character of Pasc l's genius, they can hardly take rank in general interest beside the more strictly religious portion of his remains, the bulk of which, though not the whole, belonged to his projected work on Christianity. A few pithy sentences are all that we can give from these miscellaneous fragments which form Faugere's first volume; they will barely serve to illustrate the nettete, the peculiar sharpness and clearness of Pascal's style. Here is a remark from the paper on the geometrical intellect, where he is showing the folly of attempting to define such primary ideas as those of time and space:

"Nothing is more futile than the talk of those who wish to define these primitive words. What need, for instance, of explaining what we mean by the word man / Do we not know well enough what we intend by this term? What help does Plato think to give us by saying ttiat he is a two-legged animal w thout wings? As if the conception of man whicat have naturally, and which I cannot express, is notelearer and surer than that which he gives me by a useless and even ridiculous explanation : since a man does not lose humanity by losing his two legs, nor a fowl acquire it by losing its wings."

Here are a few disjointed thoughts on " Eloquence and Style :"

"Eloquence is a depicting of the thought; hence those who, after having depicted it, add more, make a picture instead of a portrait."

"Those who make antitheses by forcing the words are like persons who matt false windows for the sake of symmetry."

"When we see the style natural, we are surprised and delighted; we expected to see an author, and we find a man.... Those honour nature most who teach her that she can dis'ourse of everything, even of theology."

"The last thing we discover in making a book is to know what to put at the beginning."

And here are some miscellaneous fragments gleaned out of a considerable mass of unclassified thoughts:

"Man is neither angel nor beast; the bad luck of those who wish to play the 2el is that they play the beast."

  • A man no longer loves the woman he loved ten years ago. Very likely. She is longer the same, nor is he. He was young, and she too; she is quite different jifow. Perhaps he would love her still, were she what she was then."

"This dog is mine, say these poor children, that is my place in the sunshine: there is the beginning and picture of the usurpation i f the whole world."

"Cleopatra's? nose—if it had been shorter, the whole face of the world would have changed."

"The last act is bloody, however fine the comedy may be in all the rest. They throw the earth on one's head at last, and there it is for ever."

Ctesarwas too old, it appears to me. to betake himself to the amusement of conquering the world. That amusement was suited to Augustus or to Alexander; they were young fellows whom it is hard to stop; Caesar should have been maturer.".

"There are only two kinds of men: the righteous who believe thems ives sinners, and the sinners who believe themselves righteous."

"Are you the less a slave for being liked and caressed by your master? You are fortunate, slave; your master caresses you. He will beat you presently."

The following sentences may be classed with these, although remitted by M. Faugere to his second volume; the first of them is an anticipation of the familiar lines—

"Hope springs eternal in the human breast; Man never is, but always to be, blest."


"We never live, but we hope to live; and always preparing ourselves to be happy, it follows inevitably that we never fire so."

"The mind of this sovereign judge of the world is not so independent as to escape bemg disturbed by the first uproar that breaks out around him. It does not require the noise of a cannon to put a stop to his thinking; the creaking of a weathercock or a pulley is sufficient. Do not be surprised if he reasons badly just now; a fly is buzzing in his ears; that is enough to render him incapable of good sense. If you wish him to discover truth, drive way that animal which holds his reason In abeyance, and disturbs that mighty intelligence which governs cities and kingdoms. A fine god this I O most ridiculous here 1

"Would you not say that this magistrate, whose venerable old age impresses a whole nation with deference, is governed by the dictates of a pure and sublime reason, and judges of things by their nature alone, without allowing himself to be affected by any of those idle circumstances which tickle the fancy of the weak? Well, observe him going to church, full of devout zealjthe solidity of his intellect sustained by the ardour of his charity. Here he "is, reafy to listen with an exemplary respect. Let the preacher appear: if nature has given him a croaking voice, or grotesque cast of face, if his barber has shaved him badly, or accident has left a smudge on his cheek, however momentous the truths which he announces, I bet that our senator will lose his gravity."

In Faugere's second volume we find arranged under various headings, with the genuine text restored and considerable additions printed for the first time, all the thoughts which appear to him to have been intended by Pascal for use in his apologetic treaties. To estimate justly these precious remains it is needful to bear in mind that they are but fragments, and in many cases even less ; if some of the paragraphs and sentences are shaped and polished and ready for insertion, others are only half-wrought, or are left in the rough, or are mere memoranda of ideas for future -consideration. In picking our way through them we seem to be walking over ground strewn with blocks of stone in various degrees of preparation for some projected build-* tag: here a few exquisitely carved, there others but rudely hewn, and mingled with these not a few so shapeless as to make it difficult to discover their destination. Scarcely in any case can we be sure of

having the final form of Pascal's thought. It is the process of his thinking, the fermentation of his genius, that is going on before us: we overhear his asides; he is unsuspiciously thinking aloud, unaware of our presence; we catch him in deshabille, and surprise his movement before he has time to put on liis coat. It is only genius that can bear to be surprised in this way, and undoubtedly there is a piquant charm in catching these glimpses of it undressed and unconconscious of being observed; Sainte-Beuve says with truth, •" Pascal, admirable as he is when he completes, is perhaps still greater when he is interrupted." But to take seriously every liue and every word of these fragments, these memoranda, these ejaculations and selfquestionings, these hasty jottings down of the mood of the moment, as the great soul strove and agonized in its perplexities—to scan and judge them one by one, as if they expressed Pascal's full and mature thought as he would finally have given it himself to the world—would surely be both to do him an injustice, and to land ourselves in a very incorrect estimate of his position as a philosopher and a Christian. The basis and outline of his thought are not hard to discover ; and if here and there we are startled by sharp paradoxes and impulsive contradictions, these perhaps are but gleams of the opposite sides of the shield, echoes of the antinomies which dwell, irreconcileable yet without conflict, in the bosom of truth itself.

Of Pascal's principle and method we must endeavour to convey some idea. And, first, it must be premised that it is less with the logic of the theologian than with the voice of the heart that he justifies Christianity. "The glory of Pascal," writes Vinet, "is, that in theology he was a man." It is not by an array of arguments marshalled by the intellect that he seeks to convince; his proofs are fashioned in his hear*, and' issue from it warm with his own emotions, and moulded by his own conflicts. Thus, to quqte Vinet again:

"This apology is brimful of the apolngist himself. . . . It is not the abstract truth that he propounds to us, but truth gathered up into a human heart, truth completed and realised by its moral effects, truth presented in that incarnation of which the incarnation of the Diyine Word has been the pledge and foundation. It is here that one may justly say, 'The voice is at the full only in the echo.' To insist that all theology, every defence of Christianity, should be a drama or a confession, would be going much too far; but what a loss if it were never so 1 . . . This character of personality—but o personality thoroughly spiritual—makes itself felt in every page of the book, and more or less accentuates it throughout; sometimes the emotion mingles with the thought to such a degree as to divert its course, and make us imagine that many of these movements would have been suppressed in its final form.'

If Pascal's pleading for religion is suffused with personal emotion, it is because he finds the basis of faith not in the intellect but in the heart. His constant thought, as Dr. Tulloch remarks, is that "religion is born not of science but of love and faith." "Pascal," says Neander, "is the advocate of that evidence which is superior to all reasoning, and is founded on the immediate consciousness. His appeal is to a truth which is inseparable from the -very nature of the soul, and it is from the heart that he derives intuitive certainty. Thus he vindicates his affinity with the prophetic race who are called to bear witness to what is holiest in humanity." To the same effect writes Dreydorff, when he finds Pascal dwelling on the self-evidencing power of the truth to the heart which thirsts for it, as being more cogent than the logic of Aristotle." Ho,v true these representations are we shall discover without difficulty, if we are careful to note how Pascal employs his terms for the different human faculties. With him, heart, nature, sentiment, and instinct, are habitually opposed to reason and mind (esprit), the former expressing the whole intuitive facility, the primary instinct or perception, by which truth is directly apprehended or felt; the latter, the logical faculty and its argumentative processes. Bearing this in mind, we find the clear key-note of his strain in such passages as these:

"Instinct; Season.—We suffer under an incapacity of demonstration which no dogmatism can overcome. We possess an idea of truth which no Pyrrhonism can destroy."

"Nature sustains the powerless reason, and preserves it from falling into universal doubt."

"Nature confounds the sceptics, and reason confounds the dogmatists."

"We arrive at truth, not by reason alone, but still more by the heart. It is thus that we obtain first principles, and it is in vain that reasoning, which has no hand in this, endeavours to combat them. . . . We know that we are not dreaming, powerless as we are to prove it by reason: this powerlessness establishes only the feebleness of our reason; not the doubtfulness of all our knowledge, as the sceptics pretend. . . . It is on the cognitions of the heart and the instinct that reason must rest, and base all its arguments. . . . It is as ridiculous for reason to ask the heart for proofs of its first principles before assenting to them, as it would be absurd for the heart, as the condition of its assent, to demand that reason should feel&U the propositions which it demonstrates. . . . Would to God that we never needed to reason out things, but knew them all by instinct an sentiment 1"

"The heart has its reasons, of which the reason knows nothing/'

"It is the heart which feels God, and not the reason. This is what true faith is: God felt by the heart, not by the reason."

To the absolute accuracy of the language in these passages exception has been taken, and perhaps not unfairly, especially as regards the interchange of reason and reasoning; but the general drift seems to us to be unmistakable. All our knowledge, Pascal would say, rests on primary, instinctive beliefs or intuitions, which are felt to be true, but are incapable of demonstration, and on these all the logical processes of the intellect must ultimately be based. It is upon such of these intuitions as are of a moral or spiritual character that religion is founded; its truth must be felt, but cannot be strictly demonstrated; here, to use Neander"s phrase, the over-curious logical temper must be subordinated to the living intuition. Is it too much to say that, if this great principle had been better understood by Pascal's" successors in the defence of religion against sceptics, we should have been spared much bad logic, and Christianity have suffered much less damage at the hands of its friends?

How Pascal applies tlie principle we must now see. He begins with man, in order to arrive at God. This is the order which his own personal experience, the history of his own soul, suggested; for as a student of Montaigne, that prince of sceptics and careless mockers, he had stood within the terrible shadow of universal doubt, and his heart, gnawed by that worm of unbelief to which the preceding century had given birth, had for a time almost despaired of finding any remedy for the weaknesses, the contradictions, the miseries of human nature. Man seemed to him to be a dethroned and beggared monarch ; a king in tatters and filth; an atom, a nothingness, in the presence of the terrifying Infinite ; tormented by a heart full of unclean passions, yet craving restlessly for light and purity; with an intellect impotent to grasp truth, yet incapable of being satisfied without it; the feeblest reed in nature, which a vapour, a drop of water, can destroy, yet greater by virtue of thought and knowledge than the whole unconscious universe around him:

"What a chimera, then, is man !" he passinnsitely exclaims, "what a novelty, a monster, a chaos, a contradiction, a prodigy I A judge of all things, yet an imbecile worm of the earth; a depositary of truth, yet a sink of donbt and error; at once the glory and the refuse of the universe."

Who shall explain this mystery, resolve this contrariety, restore this ruin? In vain does philosophy undertake the task; Stoics, Epicureans, Pyrrhonists, all labour to no purpose. "A fine thing," he cries, "to tell a man ignorant of himself to find his own way to God! A fine thing, too, to say the same to a man who has come to know himself !" Reason must be pronounced ineffectual; God cannot be discovered in suns and stars and material organisms; the alleged metaphysical proofs of His existence are too remote and feeble, and if they have force with a few, it is only for an instant ; the next moment doubt returns." What then remains? Revelation.

"Recognise, O proud man, what a paradox you are to yourself! Humble yourself, impotent reason : be silent, imbecile nature; understand that man is infinitely beyond man, and learn from your Master what your true condition is. Listen

to God 1*

It is Revelation, then, which alone furnishes the word of the onig ma, and brings the whole mystery into light. In Christianity a voice from God reaches the heart, and is felt to be true. Not, indeed, every heart—for all conviction of religious truth, all finding of God, depends on the bias of the disposition—but the heart which is disengaged from the passions and is thus prepared for the truth; to such a heart Christianity is its own evidence, and bears the broad signature of its own veracity. With Pascal, then, the first step towards faith is taken by bridling in the passions and abasing the heart; and the indispensable basis of intelligent belief is a perception of the congruity of Christianity to the human soul, a conviction of its power to touch the inner life at every point, and give satisfaction to all the higher wants of humanity. When the Gospel has thus approved

itself to the spiritual instincts and rooted itself in the affections, the external evidences of its truth—history, types, miracles, prophecy— furnish their corroborations and confirm the verdict of the heart. In Pascal's scheme, therefore, these were intended to follow in their due order; and as they present themselves to his mind, with a grand swell of emotion he exclaims:

"Thus I stretch forth my hands to my Deliverer, who, after having been predicted for four thousand years, came to suffer and die for me on earth In the time and the precise manner which had been foretold ; and by His grace I wait for death in peace, in the hope of beingj eternally united to Him ; meanwhile I live with joy. whether in the prosperity which He is pleased to give me, or in the adversity which He sends me for my good, and which He has taught me to bear by His own example."

Such, in brief, was Pascal's method as indicated in the fragments which have come down to us ; and it appears to be well characterized in Prevost Paradol's striking remark: "Pascal did for theology something analogous to what Socrates used to do for philosophy; he recalled it to earth and wished to give it for a solid foundation the facts which are grounded in tho very nature of man. For if those facts be admitted and if Christianity explains them all, and alone can explain them, must not the Christian religion, which thus becomes the key of the moral world and the last word of human nature, be indeed the true religion?"

It is, perhaps, questionable whether the world would have been the gainer had Pascal lived to complele his treatise. His genius was not critical, nor was the state of historical knowledge in his day such as to admit of his elaborating any survey of the external evidences of Christianity which would have been of permanent value. Where his real strength lay was in I.is profound apprehension of the perplexities of human experience, and the relation of spiritual truth to the wants of the soul; and here his fragmentary utterances possess a grandeur, a depth, a power of arresting the attention and thrilling the heart, which could scarcely have been increased, and would probably have suffered diminution by their incorporation in a formal treatise. As they are, they really stand alone in literature. Comparing them with the comments in which the older editors tried to expound and complete them, Chateaubriand likens them to " the ruins of Palmyra, proud relics of genius and of time, at the foot of which the Arab of the desert has built his miserable hut!" It seems to us that in such thoughts as those on the " Greatness and misery of man," broken and disjointed as they are, we have Pascal at his best. Flashes like these out of the darkness would have been ill exchanged for a paler if steadier light. By these we are placed, as we could not have been by a finished work, in the very presence of his vivid personality, his burning emotion, the inmost ferment and conflict of his soul. It is this fusing of himself with his thought, this baring of his heart with all its pain and strife and hope in these first jets from its depths, that forms Ins peculiar and perennial charm. We are not listening to the professor or the theologian spinning ingenious theories, or drawing out long trains of reasoning; it is the drama of a living soul that we are permitted to see. There lies the fascination of this wonderful book; and nowhere have we found it more eloquently or truly described than in Dean Church's interesting lecture. Pascal, he says:

11 Writes out of the deeos, as one absorbed and awestruck, and with every fibre strung, by bis vmd consciousness of the strange contrasts, the inevitable alternatives, the mighty interests at stake, amid which man's course is to be ran. His view of religion rises out of these solemn and unfathomable depths, the abyss of life and pain and death, the abyss of sin and ignorance and error, the abyss of redemption and God's love. . . . For him the overwhelming certainty of religion arose out of its deep and manifold correspondence with what he knew of himself and man, with what conscience told him of the moral law, and the world showed him of degradation and sin. What brought religion home to his inward sense of reality was, that it had the key to the tormenting contradictions of nature, which he knew so well."

It is time that we should deal with M. Cousin's attack on Pascal's faith. In its first form, as we have seen, the charge ran thus: "The very substance of Pascal's soul was a universal scepticism ;" and, expressed in this way, it seemed to impugn the sincerity of his profession of Christianity. What was really meant appeared more clearly from M. Cousin's defence of his position, published a year afterwards in the " Revue des deux Mondes." "Pascal," he there says, "believed in Christianity with all the powers of his soul. It was in philosophy, not in religion, that he was a sceptic; and, because he was sceptical in philosophy, he clung all the more closely to religion as the only asylum, the last resource of humanity, in the impotence of reason, and the ruin of all natural truth among men." It was, then, an utter divorce between reason and religion which M. Cousin meant to attribute to Pascal, and to brand as "universal scepticism;" and this divorce he goes on to trace to the Jansenism in which Pascal's faith was cradled: for " Port-Royal, being founded on the double principle of the nothingness of human nature and the sole powrer of grace," could not logically admit reason to have any share in the discovery or reception of truth. In short, Pascal's faith, according to this view, was sincere but consciously irrational. He believed, while convinced that there was no logical ground for believing. His reason pronounced against faith as a baseless dream, and yet he held the faith in fact, and was honestly a Christian. Thus his sincerity was saved at the expense of his consistency. Of course some explanation was required to show how he could be a sceptic to the bottom of his soul, at the same time that he devoted his life to the defence of Christianity against the attacks of unbelievers, and in his personal religion was an impassioned devotee. And the explanation given is that he was a Itving contradiction, an unresolved discord, whose head and heart, whose principles and practice, were in avowed and irreconcileable antagonism. To add that he was "the enemy of ill philosophy," was inevitable, since of all philosophy the basis is :'ound in the congruity of truth with the reason.

Such was the celebrated writer's view of the Pascal of the genuine Pensees, and the question is, how far it is a just one. That Pascal found in human nature no basis at all for faith must, we think, be pronounced an over-statement, a statement ex'parte, founded on a consideration of only one side of his mind; for the passages which we have already quoted show clearly enough that he held religion to have a foundation in the heart of spiritual instinct, though not in the logical understanding or reasoning faculty. It cannot, of course, bo denied that Pascal recoiled with the utmost vehemence from the deistical position that man needs no revelation, but is able by natural intuition to attain to a right knowledge of God; for any approximation to that he was much too deeply convinced of the debasement of human nature by the Fall. But to sustain M. Cousin's view it would be necessary to go a good deal further, and to prove that Pascal held the religious faculty in the believer to be absolutely and entirely a new creation by divine grace, an element supernaturally added to human nature at conversion, and that is a conception of which there is no trace in Pascal's mode of thought. Yet we must confess that M. Cousin carries us a considerable way with him before we part company. There is unquestionably a strong strain of scepticism in Pascal's remains. In him there existed, as it were, two men, the man of reason and the man of faith ; and to the last, it may be, they were never thoroughly in accord. Some, probably, of his most startling sentences are not so much expressions of his own thought as memoranda of difficulties to be considered, a sort of short-hand notes, as Sainte-Beuve calls them, to fix in their most accentuated form ideas which flashed across his mind. But after deducting everything that can be thus explained, there remains a laige body of fragments which are as deeply tinctured with scepticism as anything in Montaigne. No one whose soul had not been swept over by the storms of doubt could have penned the famous wager-essay, in which it has been said that Pascal plays at pitch and toss with the existence of God and the immortality of the soul.

"Either there is a God. or there is not," he says; "to which side shall we incline? Reason can give us no assistance, yet we must take one side or the other; we must stake ou the question. Heads, then, that there is a God I If you gain, yon gain everything ; if you iose, you lose nothing. And thus, since you are forced to stake, it would be contrary to all reason to enng to this life, rather than to stake it for an infinite gain, of which there is an even chance ; while the loss, even if it should happen, would after all be the loss of nothing."

Such language as this, after every attempt to justify it, remains as shocking in the presence of Christian faith as it is indefensible on any principle of sound philosophy. Yet if we cannot justify it, we may perhaps account for it by attributing it, as Dr. Tullochdoes, to "moments of terrible doubt, when the soul is so borne away on the surge of the sceptical wave that rises from the depths of all human speculation, that it can only cling to the Divine by an effort of will, and with something of the gamester's thought that this is the winning side." A similar explanation may be given of the advice which Pascal goes on to address to persons who wish to believe, but find themselves un. able:

"You cannot believe, you say, and ask what yon mnst do. Bo as others have done, who were once hindered as you are now, but stake their all on the side of faith: they know the path that you wish to follow, and have been cured of the disease of which you desire to be cured Follow the method with which they began; it was by acting as if they believed, taking holy water, getting masses said, &c.; even naturally this will cause you to believe, ana will make fools of you {vous abetira)."

To these extracts we must add a few more, which in their naked cynicism and contempt of human nature certainly look ugly enough, and justify Voltaire's remark, that "this sublime misanthrope writes against human nature almost as he wrote against the Jesuits."

"One sees scarcely anything, whether of right or wrong, which does not change its quahty as the climate changes. Three degrees of elevation of the pole upset the whole of jurisprudence. A meridian decides what is truth ; after being in force a few years, the fundamental laws change; right has its epochs. The entrance of Saturn into Leo marks the time when such or such a thing began to be a crime. A queer sort of justice of which a river is the boundary I True on this side of the Pyrenees, false on the other."

"All men nat rally hate one another."

"Man is nothing but a disguise, a falsehood, an hypocrisy, towards both himself and others. Human life is nothmg else than a perpeptual illusion."

"Man is only a subject full of error, which is natural to him and ineffaceable without grace. Nothing shows him the truth; everyth ngdeludes him."

'We desire trnth, and find nothing but uncertainty in ourselves. We seek happiness, and find only misery and death."

"Here is our true condition. This is what renders us incapable either of knowing with certainty or being absolutely ignorant. We sail along on a vast surface, 'always uncertain and drifting, swept along from one end to the other. . . . Nothing is stable for us. We burn with desire to discover a firm platform and enduring basis on which to build a tower that may rise to the infinite; but our whole foundation cracks, and the earth opens beneath us down to the abysses."

"When I consider the brevity of my hfe, swallowed up in the eternity before and after it ; the littleness o the space that I occupy and iven perceive, engulfed in the infinite immensity of the spaces which I am ignorant of, and which are ignorant of me: I am terrified and astonished to see myself here rather than there ; for there is no reason why here rather than there, why now rather than t en. Who has put me here? By whose order or arrangement have this time and place been assigned tome!" "How many kingdoms of being have no knowledge of us f"

"The eternal silence of these infinite spaces terrifies me."

Now if all that Pascal wrote had been in this strain, to vindicate him from the charge of having been at bottom a sceptic would have been impossible. But in such utterances as these we have only one side of his thought, as M. Cousin admits when he says that "no man ever contradicted himself more." The real question is, not whether some of his utterances were sceptical, but whether these were his deliberate and final utterances. In the wrestling of the soul with passing doubts, and during fits of depression caused by morbid nerves ind harassing pain, things may look for a time so gioomy and desperate as to force from the sufferer bitter cries of mockery or despair; but to stamp him on that account with the brand of scepticism would be as unreasonable as cruel ; for such experiences have happened to many who were certainly not sceptics but saints. We know that Pascal's heart was a passionate one, from which the emotions leaped forth like jets of flame; we know that on a temperament saddened by almost unremitting pain his stern Jansenism acted so as to deepen its gloom; letnus add to these causes of 'm exaggerated sense of human frailty and wretchedness that he probably had, as Dreydorff puts it, to contend often not only with outer but inner doubts, and that it must have been against these, no less than against other temptatftins, that he sought the terrible help of the spiked girdle on his bare flesh;" and the derisive and sceptical ejfervescences of his thought seem to be fully accounted for, without the need of M. Cousin's violent solution. In dealing with a psychological problem like this it should never be forgotten that in proportion to the depth and thoroughness of the thought will the merely logical basis of knowledge and religion appear, insecure' and inadequate, and the stress be thrown on those deeper but vaguer intuitions which in times of mental conflict and distress are the first to grow dim and to swim before the eyes. Pascal had looked with too piercing and unshrinking a gaze into the mysterious depths of human nature, not to feel what a terrible strength there is in the Pyrrhonist or, as we say now, agnostic position, when encountered by bare reason, to which the heart brings no reinforcement. No wonder, then, that in moments of agony nnd temptation these ebullitions of a faithless cynicism should have forced their way to the surface, and that he should have thrown out and committed to writing impatient, one-sided, extravagant words, which in "his moments of clear mental sanity and insight" he would surely not have endorsed, much less have given to the world as the expression of his harmonized and completed thought. On the whole, M. Faugere seems to set the matter in the fairest light possible, when he writes as follows in his Introduction to the "Pensees ":

"Faith and reason may equally claim Pascal for their own. If they appear sometimes to conflict in his soul, it is because he lacked time not only to complete the work which he meditated, but above all to finish his own interior work—that sort of creation which genius performs within ifself—and to fuse into an harmonious whole the diverse elements of his thought. Among the hitherto unpublished pages of Pascal are found these remarkable lines: 'One ought to have these three qualities, the sceptical, the dogmatic, and that of the humble Chiistian; these unite and modify each other, making us doubt where we ought to doubt, be sure where we ought to be sure, and submit where we ought to submit.' These hold words are the

whole history of Pascal, and sum up the state of his mind For us, after

our intimate study of the author of the 'Pensees,' it is beyond all question that he had a profound conviction of moral and philosophical excellence, and of the supernatural and divine pre-eminence of Christianity ; ^this faith was supreme in him over

all the storms of his thought Here in truth is Pascal's scepticism ; it

was that he held all systems engendered by human reason apart from Chrislia ity to be msufficient and incomplete. He would have been undecided and sceptical had ho ceased to be a Christian."

We have dwelt so long on Pascal as a writer, that we have left ourselves scanty room for considering him as a man. It is, however, of the loss consequence, since in the highest possible degree his writings are himself. Yet we are unwilling to conclude without an attempt to portray him a little more clearly, and we cannot introduce what remains to be said better than by extracting from Chateaubriand the entire paragraph from which we have already quoted a couple of lines:

"There was a man who at twelve years old, with bars and rounds^ cheated mathematics ; who at sixteen composed the most learned treatise on come sections since the ancients ; who at nineteen reduced to mechanism a science which is entirely mentel; who at twenty-three demonstrated the weight of the air, and exploded one of the greatest errors of the old physics j who at an age when other men are scarcely beginning to be born, having achieved his course round the circle of human sciences, perceived their nothingness and turned to religion $ who, although from that moment until his death, which took place in his thirty-ninth year, he was always feeble and in pain, fixed the language which Bossuet and Racine spoke, and furnished a model of the most perfect wit as well as of the closest reasoning: lastly, who in the brief intervals of his pain solved by abstraction the highest problems of geometry, and threw on paper thoughts which breathe as much of God as of man: this astonishing (effrayant) genius was uamed Blaise Pascal."

Now, such writiug as tliis must be confessed to be too theatrical and forced to be of much critical value; still the passage may be accepted as a dashing and not inaccurate sketch of Pascal's life and achievements. The story of his working his own way, at twelve years old, as far as the 82nd Proposition of the 1st book of " Euclid," with a piece of charcoal on the floor of an unused garret, without even knowing the common terms of geometry, is so astonishing that had it not been told by his sister with all the simplicity of truth, we should have been tempted to class it with the legends in which the surprising quickly grows into the miraculous. But as the feat was at no long interval followed by the treatise on conic sections, which excited the mingled incredulity and astonishment of the veteran Descartes, and that by the construction of an arithmetical machine to assist his father's financial calculations, and that again by the invention of the barometer, we cannot doubt that Pascal was not merely one of those precocious children who are a nine days' wonder, but was endowed by Nature with one of the most extraordinary capacities for mathematical reasoning and physical research that ever fell to the lot of man. From this line of labour, however, he was early turned aside by the failure of his health, which suffered so greatly from excessive application to scientific study, as to expose him to an attack of dynamical paralysis;" and the result was to leave his constitution so disordered, and his nervous system so shattered, that to the end of his life he scarcely ever passed a day without pain. In his twenty-fourth year occurred what his biographers call his "first conversion ;" when, owing to the influence of teachers of the Jansenist school, with whom he became acquainted, and who introduced him to the books of St. Cyran and Jansen, he received a strong bias towards

i religious' life. Of the change at that time wrought in him too nuch, perhaps, has been made by those who have regarded the years tfterwards spent by him in the gay world of Paris as a period of apostasy, which entailed a bitter expiation in the seclusion and austerities of his later period. We rather side with Dreydorff in putting a lower estimate on the contrast between the first fervour of his youthful religion and the mixed occupations of his life in the capital. It is no doubt true that, as we find from Pascal's own letters preserved among the Guerrier manuscripts, he took up religion with the warmth of his enthusiastic temperament, and sprang almost with a bound into a mystic devotion, which would have required solitude for its nutriment, and failed to hold its own amidst tho distractions of social and busy life; but there is not the slightest ground for believing that he ever in any real sense apostatized, or became infected by the dissoluteness and profanity which were too characteristic of the age of the Fronde. To use Faugere's somewhat high-flown phrase, "His feet rested for a moment on the mire of that corrupt society, but his divine wings were never soiled by it." It was his "second conversion," when he was in his thirty-first year, which changed the whole current of his life by giving him over to asceticism and Port-Royal. To that momentous and final movement several causes seem to have contributed. The influence of his sister Jacqueline, then in the first glow of her profession ; the increasing gloom of his own temperament, aggravated perhaps by disappointed love; a shuddering recoil from the levity and vice of the society around him, intensified by a conviction that in his struggle with the doubts and perplexities which surged up tumultuously within his restless soul, he needed a support that could only be found in retirement and mortification and converse with the austere solitaries of Port-Royal: these were causes sufficient to prompt his decision and drive him from the world, without our having recourse to the more questionable incidents of narrow escape f rom being dashed to pieces in a runaway carriage at the bridge of Neuilly, and the vision of an abyss opening beside his chair, the supposed record of which, and of the act of self-dedication to which it led, was ever afterwards secretly worn by him stitched inside his clothes, where it was found after his death. This curious and not too intelligible paper was the "amulet" which excited the sneers of Condorset and Voltaire, and furnished the theme of M. Lelut's volume. It appears to record the very day and hour of his final resolve to give himself wholly to God, and breathes an ecstatic fervour characteristic of the critical moment when the struggle of his soul issued in triumph and joy. Let us remember that this document in a double form, the paper original being folded within a parchment copy, was worn on Pascal's breast day by day till the breath left his worn-out frame, and that, even while penning the very fragments on which the charge of scepticism has been founded, it was this that he was pressing to his heart, and we shall feel that without taking ac

count of it no estimate of Pascal's religion would be complete. It is headed by a small cross, and is as follows:

"The year oi grace IBM. Monday. 23rd November, day of St. Clement, pope and martyr, and others in the nurtyrology. .Eve of St. Chrysogone, martyr, and others. From about half-past ten in the evening to half-past twelve. Fire. God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, not of the philosophers and savants. Assurauce, Assurance. Feeling. Joy. Peace. God of Jesus Christ, my God and your God. Thy God shall be my God. Forgetfulness of the world and of all hut God. He is found only by the ways taught in the Gospel. Greatness of the human soul. Righteous Father, the world has not known Thee, but I have known Thee. Joy, joy, joy, tears of joy. I have separated my-elf from Him. They have forsaken Me the fountain of living water. My God, wilt Thqn forsake me? Let me not be separated from Him eternally. This is life eternal that they know Thee the only true God and J. C. whom Thou hast sent. Jesus Christ—Jesus Christ. I have separated myself from Kim. I have fled from, renounced, crucified Him. Let me never he separated from Him. He is retained only by the ways taught in the Gospel. Renunciation total and sweet." •

In the spirit which evidently animates this extraordinary and incoherent document Pascal henceforth lived. Body and soul, he gave himself up to religion, and, whether consorting with his Jansenist friends at Port-Royal, or living as a recluse in his own house in Paris, whether contending against the Jesuits in the "Provincial Letters" or corresponding in mystic strains with Madlle. de Roanuez, or meditating his apologetic work, the entire remainder of his life was spent in the renunciation of the world, the practices of an ascetic devotion, and the consecration of all he was and all he had to the service of God.

Of Pascal's mental organization the most characteristic features, as revealed in his writings, may be described as an intense, audacious individuality, and a passionate love of reality and truth. Xo man's thoughts and sentiments were ever more emphatically his own. His voice was no echo of current opinions, but issued clear and sharp from the depths of his own being. What he had received from others he never gave back without having incorporated it with himself, shaped it in his own mould and stamped it with his own mark. Conventionalities and masks of all kinds were hateful to him; to tear them away with a vehement contempt and penetrate to the very core and naked reality of things, was like a fierce joy to his soul. Nothing was too daring for him to utter, if only it appeared to him to be true; of truth, what ever it was, he felt an imperious need, and to speak it forth without compromise and without reserve was his overmastering impulse. It was this frank conscientiousness, this ardour for the exact truth, which made his mode of expression, his literary style, so singularly real and pure, so accurately true to the thought; ft could tolerate no superfluity, no circumlocution, no ambiguous vagueness; it was, as Faugere says, "the thought ifself clothed like an antique statue with its own chaste nudity." These characteristics point to a genius intense rather than broad, penetrating more than constructive; and, as we have already said, the illumination thrown by Pascal on the mystery of our being resembled the vivid but fitful flash of the lightning rather than the calm, steady light of day. We have ventured to differ from M. Cousin's estimate of his scepticism; but that eminent writer has our hearty concurrence when he says, The man in Pascal was profoundly original, but the creating mind had not been given him. He had more depth in sentiment than in thought, more force than breadth." To the same effect is Mr. Beard's thoughtful estimate:

"This is the character of Pascal's originality. He does not construct systems of the universe, or mark an era in philosophical thought, or compass the whole sphere of human knowledge, hke Descartes. He is not conversant with all the literature which it becomes a learned man to know, like Arnauld. He probably knew little Greek and no Hebrew; much of his classical learning came to him at secondhand from Montaigne; all the books with which his writings betray any acquaintance might be enumerated in half-a-dozen lines. What he k\iew and thought came almost wholly out of himself, and was the result of his independent thought, and bears m the completeness of its symmetry the impress of his nature."

"Pascal," says the Protestant Vinet, "was born in the Roman sect, and in a- sect of that sect, Jansenism ; but without separating himself from the sect to which we may say he belonged, he rose superior to it; the substance to him was more than the form ; the spirit ruled over the body. He was one of those who are united by the heart to the living principle of trnth, but to their sect by the inferior parts alone of their intellect." Notwithstanding his Jansenism, which placed him on the confines of Geneva, and his mortal defiance of the Jesuits, who were the real wire-pullers of the Vatican, his allegiance to his Church never wavered. "I will never separate myself from her communion," he wrote to Madlle. de Roannez1 after Arnauld had been condemned by the Sorbonne, and no provocation ever shook his resolve. However it may be now, the Roman Church then, especially to a French Catholic, was more than the Pope; and though, as Dreydorff remarks, Pascal saw and lamented that he was in a strait between God and the Pope, he never appears to have felt himself in a strait between God and the Church." Hence when the Jesuits accused him of making common cause with the heretics, he indignantly retorted, When have I been absent from mass or scant of my duty to my parish church? What act of fellowship with heretics or of schism towards the Church can you lay to my charge? What Council have I contradicted, what Papal constitution have I transgressed 1" The Church might be ruled by a corrupt faction, yet to him it was still the house of God and the appointed guide to salvation, and without a thought of separating himself from it, he was content to commit his cause to the Judge of all. The Pope might pronounce against him and place his book in the Index, but Pascal could sustain himself with the thought, "God does not perform miracles in the ordinary management of His Church; it would be a strange miracle if infallibility resided in a single person. ... If my letters are condemned in Rome, what I condemn in them- is condemned in heaven. To Thy tribunal, Lord Jesus, I make my appeal."

It is impossible to clear the religion of Pascal's declining years from the taint of superstition. As his health grew feebler he became increasingly subject to fits of depression, and had recourse to austerities which aggravated the physical mischief and shortened his days. It is inexpressibly touching to watch this fiery yet loving spirit burdened with its frail and morbid organism, striving to get nearer to God by a daily martyrdom of self. The spiked girdle on his bare flesh, the stern refusal of the commonest comforts, the recoil from a sister's affection and from a child's caress as dangerous to spirituality, the protest against an advantageous marriage for his niece, as if honest wedlock were " the most perilous and basest of conditions in which Christian people could live ;" these'in the author of the "Pensees" furnished a melancholy illustration of his favourite theme—" Nothing is stranger in the nature of man than the contrarieties of all kinds which are found in it." We rise from our study of him with the sad sense of a life uncompleted, a promise unfulfilled, a glorious possibility but half realized. Yet viewed in the light of Christian hope, there is more to cheer than to depress in this spectacle of mingled weakness and strength. For if even amidst the shadows of mortality and under the burden of premature decay, man can be so great, of what height may he not be capable when the burden is unbound from his shoulders and mortality is swallowed up of life?