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eiples of logic; and in the defence of the attributes and providence of the Deity, he was suspected of a secret correspondence with his adversary Bayle. The metaphysician expatiated on the fields of air: his preestablished harmony of the soul and body might have provoked the jealousy of Plato; and his optimism, the best of all possible worlds, seems an idea too vast for a mortal mind. He was a physician in the large and genuine sense of the word: like his brethren, he amused himself with creating a globe; and his Protogcea, or Primitive Earth, has not been useless to the last hypothesis of Buffon, which prefers the agency of fire to that of water. I am not worthy to praise the mathematician: but his name is mingled in all the problems and discoveries of the times; the masters of the art were his rivals and disciples: and if he borrowed from Sir Isaac Newton the sublime method of fluxions, Leibnitz was at least the Prometheus who imparted to mankind the sacred fire which he had stolen from the gods. His curiosity extended to every branch of chymistry, mechanics, and the arts; and the thirst of knowledge was always accompanied with the spirit of improvement. The vigour of his youth had been exercised in the schools of jurisprudence; and while he taught, he aspired to reform, the laws of nature and nations, of Rome and Germany. The annals of Brunswick, of the empire, of the ancient and modern world, were present to the mind of the historian; and he could turn from the solution of a problem to the dusty parchments and barbarous style of the records of the middle age. His genius was more nobly directed to investigate the origin

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of language and nations; nor could he assume the character of a grammarian without forming the project of a universal idiom and alphabet. These various studies were often interrupted by the occasional politiar of the times; and his pen was always ready in the cause of the princes and patrons to whose service he was attached: many hours were consumed in a learned correspondence with all Europe: and the philosopher amused his leisure in the composition of French and Latin poetry. Such an example may display the extent and powers of the human understanding, but even his powers were dissipated by the multitude of his pursuits. He attempted more than he could finish; he designed more than he could execute; his imagination was too easily satisfied with a bold and rapid glance on the subject which he was impatient to leave; and Leibnitz may be compared to those heroes, whose empire has been lost in the ambition of universal conquest.



Bayle was the son of a Calvinist minister in a remote province in France, at the foot of the Pyrenees. For the benefit of education, the Protestants were tempted to risk their children in the Catholic universities; and in the twenty-second year of his age, young Bayle was seduced by the arts and arguments of the jesuits of Thoulouse. He remained about seventeen months (March 19, 1699—August 19, 1670) in their hands, a voluntary captive; and a letter to his parents, which. the new convert composed or subscribed (April 15, 1670) is darkly tinged with the spirit of popery. But Nature had designed him to think as he pleased, and to speak as he thought: his piety was offended by the excessive worship of creatures; and the study of physics convinced him of the impossibility of transubstantiation, which is abundantly refuted by the evidence of our senses. His return to the-communion of a falling sect was a bold and disinterested step, that exposed him to the rigour of the laws; and a speedy flight to Geneva protected him from the resentment of his spiritual tyrants, unconscious as they were of the full value of the prize which they had lost. Had Bayle adhered to the Catholic church, had he embraced the ecclesiastical profession, the genius and favour of such a proselyte might have aspired to wealth and honours in his native country: but the hypocrite would have found less happiness in the comforts of a benefice, or the dignity of a mitre, than he enjoyed at Rotterdam in a private state of exile, indigence, and freedom. Without a country, or a patron, or a prejudice, he claimed the liberty and subsisted by the labours of his pen: the inequality of his voluminous works is explained and excused by his alternately writing for himself, for the booksellers, and for posterity; and if a severe critic would reduce him to a single folio, that relic, like the books of the Sibyl, would become still more valuable. A calm and lofty spectator of the religious tempest, the philosopher of Rotterdam condemned with equal firmness the persecution of Louis the Fourteenth and the republican maxims of the Calvinists; their vain prophecies, and the intolerant bigotry which sometimes vexed his solitary retreat. In reviving the controversies of the times, he turned against each other the arguments of the disputants; successively wielding the arms of the Catholics and Protestants, he proves that neither the way of authority, nor the way of examination can afford the multitude any test of religious truth; and dexterously concludes that custom and education must be the sole grounds of popular belief. The ancient paradox of Plutarch, that atheism is less pernicious than superstition, acquires a tenfold vigour, when it is adorned with the colours of his wit, and pointed with the acuteness of his logic. His Critical Dictionary is a vast repository of facts and opinions; and he balances the false religions in his sceptical scales, till the opposite quantities (if I may use the language of algebra) annihilate each other. The wonderful power which he so boldly exercised, of assembling doubts and objections, had tempted him jocosely to assume the title of the itfaXnys{tT<* Ziuj, the cloud-compelling Jove; and in a conversation with the ingenious Abbe (afterwards Cardinal) de Polignac, he freely disclosed his universal Pyrrhonism. "I am most truly (said Bayle) a Protestant; for I protest indifferently against all systems and all sects." Gibbon.


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