Page images
PDF
EPUB

bis nail : he inclined his head, and spoke low. At last, making use of all these precautions, and many others, he began his discourse :

Invisible insects! whom the hand of the Creator has been pleased to bring into being, in the depth of the infinitely small, I thank Him that he has deigned to discover to me impenetrable secrets ! At my country's court, perhaps, they would not deign to notice you ; but I despise nothing; and I offer you my protection.

If ever mortal was astonished, so were the men who heard these words. They could not imagine whence they came. The chaplain of the vessel read exorcising prayers; the sailors swore; the philosophers made a theory; but whatever theory they might have made, they could never have suspected who was speaking. The dwarf of Saturn, whose voice was softer than that of Micromegas, then briefly informed them with what sort of beings they had to do. He related to them the voyage from Saturn; informed them who Mr. Micromegas was, and after having lamented that they were so small, desired to know if they had always been in that miserable state, so near annihilation ; what they were doing in a globe which seemed to belong to whales ; if they were happy; if they increased in numbers; if they had a soul; and a hundred other questions, of like nature.

A reasoner of the troop, bolder than the rest, shocked that they should doubt his possessing a soul, observed the interlocutor with pinnules set on a quadrant, made two stations, and at the third, thus spake :

You think, then, Mister, because you are a thousand toises high, that you are a

A thousand toises ! cried the dwarf: Good Heavens! how should he know my height? • A thousand toises !' He has not missed an inch! What! has that atom measured me ! He is a geometer; he knows my size; and yet I, who see him only through a microscope, do not yet know his ! Wonderful!'

"I see more plainly than ever,' responded Micromegas, 'that we must judge of nothing by its apparent magnitude. Ő God! who hast given an intellect to beings who appear so contemptible; the infinitely small costs thee as little as the infinitely great: and if it be possible that there should be beings smaller than these, they may still have a soul superior to those proud animals whom I have seen above, whose foot alone might cover the globe to which I have descended !'

One of the philosophers replied, that he might in all safety believe that there certainly are intelligent creatures much smaller than man. He related to him, not indeed all the fabulous things that Virgil has told us about the bees, but what Swammerdam bas discovered, and Reaumur has depicted. He told him, finally, that there were animals who are to the bees what the bees are to man; what the Sirian himself was to those huge animals of which he spoke; and what these huge animals are to other existences, before whom they appeared but atoms. Gradually the conversation became interesting, and Micromegas thus spake:

O intelligent atoms ! in whom the Eternal Being has been pleased to manifest his skill and his power, you must doubtless

enjoy pleasures eminently pure in your globe; for, having so little matter, and appearing all spirit, you must pass your life in love and thought. Such is the true spiritual existence. I have no where seen true happiness; but doubtless it is here.'

At this discourse, all the philosophers shook their heads; and one of them, more honest than the rest, frankly confessed, that excepting a comparatively very small number of the inhabitants, all the world was an assemblage of fools, knaves, and wretches. We have more matter than is necessary for us to do us much mischief, if the mischief were caused by materiality, and too much spirit, if it originated in spirituality. Be informed, for example, that at the moment I address you, there are a hundred thousand fools of our race, covered with hats, killing a hundred thousand more, covered with a turban, or who are massacred by them, and that people have treated each other thus, all the world over, from time immemorial. The Sirian, astounded, demanded what could be the cause of these horrible quarrels among such sneaking animals. • The question is,' said the philosopher, * about certain heaps of mud, about as large as your heel. Not that one of the millions of men who are to destroy each other lay claim to one straw on these dung-hills : the question simply is, whether they shall belong to a man they call Sultan, or to another they call Cæsar — I know not why. Neither the one nor the other has ever seen, or ever will see, the little corner of the earth they quarrel for ; and scarcely one of these animals who destroy each other, has ever seen the animal for whose sake his throat is cut.'

*Ah! wretches !' cried the Sirian, with indignation ; 'could one conceive this excess of insane fury! I have a great mind to take three steps, and with three stamps of my foot, crush the whole anthill of contemptible assassins ! Do n't give yourself the trouble;' was the reply: 'they are working their own ruin, fast enough: know that at the end of ten years there never remains the hundredth part of these wretches. Even when they do not draw the sword, hunger, fatigue, or intemperance, carries them almost all off. Beside, it is not these you ought to punish, but those lazy barbarians who, from the depth of their cabinets, give orders, while digesting their dinner, for the massacre of a million of men, and then go to give God solemn thanks for it.'

The travellers were moved with compassion for the little human race, in which he discovered such astonisbing contrasts. Since you are of the small number of the wise,' said he to those gentlemen, ' and since, apparently, you kill nobody for money, tell me, I pray you, what you find to do?'. We dissect flies,' said the philosopher ;

we measure lines, we bring together figures, we agree on the two or three points we understand, and dispute on the two or three thousand we do n't.'

The fancy soon caught the Sirian and Saturnian to interrogate these reflecting atoms, to discover the things on which they agreed. *How far do you estimate it,' said one, 'from the Dog-star to the great star of the Twins ?' They all replied at once, Thirty-two degrees and a half. How far from thence to the moon ? “Sixty semi-dtameters of the earth, in round numbers. •What is the weight of your atmosphere?' He thought he should catch them, but they all replied that

[ocr errors]

6

the air weighs about nine times less than an equal volume of the lightest water, and nineteen thousand times less than pure gold. The little dwarf from Saturn, astonished at their replies, was tempted to take for sorcerers these very men to whom he had refused a soul a quarter of an hour before !

At last Micromegas said to them: 'As you know so well what is without

you,
doubtless

you

know much better what is within : tell me what your soul is, and how you form ideas {' The philosophers spoke all at once, as before, but they were all of different opinions. The most aged quoted Aristotle; another pronounced the name of Descartes ; this one of Mallebranche, that one of Leibnitz, the fifth of Locke. An aged peripatetic loudly and confidently declared : • The soul is an Evrehe , and a reason by which it has the power to be such as it is : thus has Aristotle expressly declared, page 633 of the Louvre edition :

Εντελεχεια εστι, etc. * I don't understand Greek any too well,' said the giant. * Nor I either,' replied the philosophic mite. Why then,' resumed the Sirian, 'do you quote a certain Aristotle in Greek ? Because,' replied the sage, it is best to quote what we don't understand at all, in a language which we understand less.'

The Cartesian took up the conversation, and said : • The soul is a pure spirit, which before birth has received all metaphysical ideas, and which, on coming into the world, is obliged to go to school, to learn anew what it so well knew, and will never know any better.' 'I can well believe,' said the animal of eight leagues, that your soul was so wise before it came into the world, since it is so ignorant now that you have a beard on your chin. But what do you understand by spirit ? Why ask me that ?' said the reasoner. • I have no idea about it. They say that it is not matter. “But you know, at least, what matter is ?! Very well,' replied the man. For example, this stone is gray, and of such a shape; it has its three dimensions; it is heavy and divisible.' 'Oh, well,' says the Saturnian, “this thing which appears to you divisible, heavy, and gray, will you tell me plainly what it is? You see certain qualities, but the bottom of the matter do you know that ?' 'No,' said the other. Then you

do n't know what matter is.'

Mr. Micromegas then addressed himself to another sage, whom he held on bis thumb, and asked him what his soul was, and what it was about. Nothing at all,' replied the Mallebranchist philosopher : 'it is God who does every thing for me : I see every thing in him; I do every thing in him; it is he who does every thing, without any trouble on my part.' Just as well not to be,' replied the sage of Sirius. . And you, my friend,' said he to a Leibnitzian who was ihere, 'what is your soul?' 'It is,' he replied, “a needle which shows the time, while my body chimes the hour; or rather, if you please, it is that which chimes, while my body shows the hour; or rather, my soul is the mirror of the universe, and my body is the gilding round it: thus much is clear.'

A little partisan of Locke was standing close by; and when they addressed the conversation to him, I do not know,' said he, “how I

senses.

think, but I know that I have never thought but at the instance of my

That there are immaterial, intelligent beings, I doubt not; but that it would be impossible for God to communicate thought to matter, is what I doubt very much. I revere the eternal power; it does not belong to me to limit it. I affirm nothing. I am content to believe that there are many more possible things than we think of.'

The Sirian animal smiled; he did not find this individual the least wise among them; and the dwarf of Saturn would have embraced the follower of Locke, but for the disparity of size. But by misfortune, there was there a little animalcule in a square bonnet, who interrupted all the animalcular philosophers. He said that he knew the whole secret; that it was found in the Summum of Saint Thomas. He eyed the two celestials from head to foot; he maintained to them that their persons, their planets, their suns, their stars, were made solely for man. At this discourse, our two travellers gazed eagerly one upon the other, half strangling with that irrepressible laughter which, according to Homer, is the peculiarity of the gods. Their shoulders and their stomachs went and came; and in these convulsions, the ship which the Sirian had on his nail, fell into the breeches pocket of the Saturnian. The two good men searched for it a long time; at last they discovered the crew, and put all properly to rights. The Sirian recovered the little mites, and spoke to them with great kindness, though at the bottom of his heart somewhat vexed to see that these infinitely Smalls had an arrogance infinitely great. He promised to make for them a choice book' on philosophy, written in a very small hand for their use; and that in that book they should see the end of all things. Accordingly, he gave them this treatise before his departure. It was carried to Paris; but when the Secretary had opened it, he saw nothing but a blank book. “Ah!' said he, I thought so!'

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

September 22. BEAUTY, fatal seal of Heaven,

Stamps the holder for decay: 'Tis th' hectic flush of even,

Heralding the death of day.

II.

'T is the bloom of bursting roses,

Where the worm has fixed his fangs: Hnes the tulip's cup discloses,

Ere a withered wreck it hangs.

111.

'Tis the shroud of crimson gory,

Autumn's gaudy funeral pall, Robing with a treacherous glory

Forest-leaves, when doomed to fall.

IV.

Maidens! all the charms you cherish,

Die like Nature's, as they bloom; For if her fair beauties perish,

How can yours escape the doom?

Oh! then heavenly graces cherish,

That your sky, at morn's decline,
When all rosy blushes perish,
With the blue of peace may shine!

September 23.
A NOTE from Julia sent to-day,
Takes hope, and even revenge away:
She said reflection told her heart
She had too harshly bid me part;
That my unlooked-for suit was met
With treatment she must c'er regret;
That she was but a wayward child,
To anger easily beguiled ;
That, having marked my frequent boast
My heart was arrow-proof to love,
She sought in girlish jest to prove
Its firm resistance to the most;
And, eager in the playful war,
Had pushed her feigned attacks too far,
Till at my sudden vow she found
The scratch she meant had proved a

wound: That no reproaches I might cast Could match her own, and that the past Might all atonement now command, Even to the end I sought, her hand : Although but ill my wound 'r would heal, To feign a love she could not feel. But, if such gist should worthless seem, Her best, her friendliest esteem Was mine, with wishes that my fate Might find a more deserving mate. Oh! comfort sad - oh! bitter sweet Unclasped, though lifted from her feet. Can Friendship's hand for love atone ? I ask for bread, she gives a stone. Blame, blame her not! the fault is here; Can form and face like this endear? Soul! why this carcass drag about, When the least rent would let thee out,

[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »