ページの画像
PDF
ePub

cated. This dialogue has been translated, and it may be useful and entertaining to young persons who are not princes.

ULYSSES AND GRYLLUS. Ulysses. Are you not rejoiced, my dear Gryllus, to see me again, and to be able to recover your human form?

Gryllus. I am very glad to see you, favourite of Minerva : but for the change of form, excuse me, if you please.

Ulysses. Alas! unhappy Gryllus, do you know the condition in which you are ?—You are a disgusting object ; your gross body grovels on the earth, you have long pendulous ears, little eyes, hardly open, an odious grunt, a disagreeable physiognomy, and a skin covered with coarse and stiff bristles,-in short, your whole appearance is hideous. I tell you of it, if you know it not, and you have so little sense of enjoyment in this deplorable state that you will find yourself happy to resume that of man. .

Gryllus. You talk very well, but I do not wish to resume my former condition :—that of a hog is more agreeable. It is true my figure is not elegant; but this does not disturb me, since I never look in a mirror, and in my present humour I need not dread to see myself in the water, and to be reminded of my ugliness, for I prefer a muddy pool to a clear fountain.

Ulysses. Does not this filthiness excite horror in you? You live only in loathsome places, and the very odour you diffuse offends the senses of all about you.

Gryllus. What do I care, all depends upon taste. This odour which is detestable to you, is more fragrant than amber to me, and the refuse substances, which man abhors, are nectar to my appetite.

Ulysses. I blush for you. Is it possible that you have so soon forgotten the dignity and happiness of man!

Gryllus. Speak not to me of the state of man : all his calamities are real, and his blessings are only imaginalopp ry. I have a healthful body covered with a bristled coat,

and I have no need of garments: you would be more happy in your unfortunate adventures if your body was covered like mine, that you might feel no anxiety how you should be clothed. I find my subsistence every where. Law-suits, and wars, and all the other embarrassments of life do not disturb me. I have no need of cook, barber, tailor or architect. Behold me free and content at little expense. Why then would you again subject me to the wants of man?

Ulysses. It is true that man experiences great wants, but the arts, which he has invented to supply his wants, become his glory, and form his happiness.

Gryllus. It is better to be exempted from all these wants than to possess the most wonderful means to remedy them. It is better to enjoy perfect health, without the science of medicine, than to be always sick—with excel·lent means of cure.",

Ulysses. But, Gryllus, count you for nothing, eloquence, poetry, music, and the science of all arts, and all civilized nations, figures and numbers ?-Would you renounce the love of your native country and your friends, the pleasures of religious worship, the celebration of public benefits, and the honours to be obtained from public approbation?-Answer me.

Gryllus. My constitution as a hog is so happy, that it raises me above these fine things. I love better to grunt than to be eloquent as you are, who are persuasive as Minerva. I wish neither to persuade, nor to be persuaded. I am as indifferent to verse as to prose. The honour which Greece bestows are crowns to wrestlers and chariot racers : I leave them to those who love laurels as infants love playthings. I am no more disposed to bear away prizes than to envy those who are less burthened with fat than myself.

As for Music, I have lost my taste for it, and taste determines the value of every thing: let us talk no more about these matters. Return to Ithaca-My country is any where the country of a hog is wherever there are

acorns. Go, reign, behold Penelope once more, and punish her lovers. For me my queen is here, she reigns in my sty, and no one troubles our empire. Many kings in sumptuous palaces cannot attain to my felicity; men call them cowards and unworthy of a throne when they wish to reign like me, without disturbing mankind.

Ulysses. You forgot that you are at the mercy of men; they feed only to devour you. Men, in the rank, in which you wish not to be, will convert you into lạrd, sausages, and bacon.

Grylius. Truly that is the danger of my state ; but yours has also its perils. I expose myself to death by a sensual life, of which the enjoyment is real; you at the same time, are in danger of a sudden death, by an unhappy life, and in the pursuit of vain glory. Should Apollo himself sing your achievements, his praises could not cure your pains, nor prolong your days.

Ulysses. You are then so brutified as to despise wisdom which assimilates men to the Gods?

Gryllus. On the contrary, wisdom instructs me to despise men.-Since they are unjust, deceitful, ungrateful, miserable by their own folly, cruelly armed against each other, and often as much their own as the enemies of their neighbours, what is the purpose of that wisdom of which they boast? Is it not better to be without reason, than to use her to authorize crimes? Without flattering myself, I may say, that a hog is a very good kind of animal: he makes neither false money nor false contracts, he never perjures himself; he has neither avarice nor ambition, and he is without malice ; he spends his life in eating, drinking, and sleeping. If men resembled our species the world would enjoy profound repose, and you would not be here. Paris would never have carried ofi" Helen. The Greeks would not have destroyed the splendid city of Troy after a siege of ten years. You would not have wandered over sea and land, the sport of fortune ; and it would not be necessary that you should make war with a crowd of usurpers to recover your own kingdom.

Ulysses. I am astonished at your stupidity, but you

niust admit that the immortality reserved for man after this life elevates him infinitely above brutes ?

Gryllus. If you could convince me that man is an immortal being, I am not such a brute as to renounce the nature which you hold in honour.-Convince me that man has in him something more noble than his body which shall live for ever. Because I am not convinced of this I persist in being a hog. Show me that, that which thinks in man, exists after his body is decayed and dissolved. If you will assure me that man can never die, that virtue has its reward in another life, instantly, divine son of Laertes, I will share with you all the dangers that await you; I will gladly come out of the sty of Circe; I will divest myself of this sensual body, and become a man raised to the enjoyments of an immortal being. But in no other way can I accept your offer to restore my last shape. I love rather to be a mere animal, satisfied with the proper nature of animals, than to be a man, feeble, ignorant, frivolous, malignant, deceitful or unjust, or to be a melancholy phantom discontented with life, and in the dark concerning eternity.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

When Gryllus declares he would rather be a brute than a melancholy phantom, &c. he is made to allude to the admission of Ulysses to the eternal world. In the eleventh book of the Odyssey, Ulysses is sent to the shades--the abodes of departed souls-and the dead are described, not as happy, but sad and dispirited in their final lot. This view of another life is such, that one might naturally choose to be exempted from immortality, rather than to be subject to eternal discontent.

Fenelon meant to teach by this dialogue, that the existence of brutes is the gift of a benevolent God, and that they are as happy as the means and faculties which God allots to them will permit; that man, when he is selfish, cruel, and deceitful, when he is without benevolence, without piety, and without a true religion, sis as miserable as he is degraded ; and that the religion of the heathen

was so insufficient to make them happy and good, that another and more perfect religious system was necessary to reclaim men from their vices, and to satisfy their hopes. This religion, he would imply, and it may readily be perceived, is the religion of Christ, which establishes that fact most important to our satisfaction in this life, that there is another and an eternal world, in which we shall be delivered from the afflictions of this state of being, and be admitted to perfect and unending happiness.

Apollo. A heathen god—sometimes called the "god of health, and light, and arts”-properly the sun. The sun, by his genial and happy influence upon the human body, produces health, and agreeable sensations ; but by the intensity of his heat in some seasons, climates, and places, he becomes apparently the effective cause of disease. Light is well known to emanate directly from the sun. It is not quite so plain how music, eloquence, and poetry are inspired by that luminary, but darkness and obscurity are figuralive expressions for ignorance, stupidity, and the absence of all accomplishments. Without the ' blessed sun” we could not perceive nor communicate any thing but sound, and music itself may derive much beauty from the cheerful ideas connected with light.

Minerva. Gryllus says of Ulysses, “ you are as persuasive as Minerva. Minerva is sometimes called Pallas, and sometimes Athenæ : she was the tutelary genius of Athens. In that city, her temple, and the services performed in honour of her, were more splendid than any where else—the Athenians expressing by this homage their character, more intellectual and spiritual than the rest of the heathen world.

Minerva, or Wisdom, was the daughter of Jove, the supreme god of the heathens, and sprung from her father's head. This fable implies that God is the origin or beginning of Wisdom. Wisdom signifies knowledge, not only the knowledge of whatever exists, but the knowledge of what is right and best in conduct.

« 前へ次へ »