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Brave Men and Women

Brave Men and Women

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Publicado porDharmsen Soni

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Published by: Dharmsen Soni on Jan 26, 2011
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why should the man of sensibility repine at not being able to demonstrate
what he feels to be true? In the silence of the closet and the dryness of
discussion, I can agree with the atheist or the materialist as to the
insolubility of certain questions; but in the contemplation of nature my soul
soars aloft to the, vivifying principle which animates it, to the intellect
which pervades it, and to the goodness which makes it so glorious. Now,
when immense walls separate me from all I love, when all the evils of
society have fallen upon us together, as if to punish us for having desired its
greatest blessings, I see beyond the limits of life the reward of our
sacrifices. How, in what manner, I can not say. I only feel that so it ought to
be." She read incongruously. Condillac, Voltaire, the Lives of the Fathers,
Descartes, Saint Jerome, Don Quixote, Pascal, Montesquieu, Burlamaqui,
and the French dramatists, were read, annotated, and commented on. She
gives an appalling list of obsolete devotional books, which she borrowed of
a pious abbé, and returned with marginal notes which shocked him. She
read the Dictionnaire Philosophique, Diderot, D'Alembert, Raynal,
Holbach, and took delight in the Epistles of Saint Paul. She was, while
studying Malebranche and Descartes, so convinced, that she considered her
kitten, when it mewed, merely a piece of mechanism in the exercise of its
functions. The chilling negations and arid skepticism of Helvetius shocked
her, and she writes: "I felt myself possessed of a generosity of soul of
which he denied the existence." She concluded at this time that a republic is
the true form of government, and that every other form is in derogation of
man's natural rights.

She mastered Clairaut's geometry by copying the book, plates, and all, from
beginning to end. She read Pufendorf's folio on the law of nature. She
learned English, and read the life of Cromwell. She read the great French
preachers, Bossuet, Flechier, Bourdaloue, and Massillon. She was vexed by
the terrorism of their arguments. She thought that they overrated the
importance of the devil. She did not believe him to be as powerful as they
feared. She thought that they might teach oftener what seemed to her the
potent element of Christian faith--love--and leave the devil out sometimes,
and so she herself wrote a sermon on brotherly love, with which that
personage had nothing to do, and in which his name was not even
mentioned. She also read the Protestant preachers--Blair especially. She

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