III. FRENCH INDOLENCE.
Further effects of indolence. — The skeptical, licentious and seditious spirit. — Previous resentment and fresh discontent at the established order of things. — Sympathy for the theories against it. - How far accepted.
Listen to the shouts that greet him: Hurrah for the author of the Henriade! the defender of Calas, the author of La Pucelle! Nobody of the present day would utter the first, nor especially the last hurrah. This indicates the tendency of the century; not only were writers called upon for ideas, but again for antagonistic ideas. To render an aristocracy inactive is to render it rebellious; people are more willing to submit to rules they have themselves helped to enforce. Would you rally them to the support of the government? Then let them take part in it. If not they stand by as an onlooker and see nothing but the mistakes it commits, feeling only its irritations, and disposed only to criticize and to hoot at it. In fact, in this case, they are as if in the theater, where they go to be amused, and, especially, not to be put to any inconvenience. What inconveniences in the established order of things, and indeed in any established order! — In the first place, religion. To the amiable “idlers” whom Voltaire describes, to “the 100,000 persons with nothing to do but to play and to amuse themselves,” religion is the most disagreeable of pedagogues, always scolding, hostile to sensible amusement and free discussion, burning books which one wants to read, and imposing dogmas that are no longer comprehensible. In plain terms religion is an eyesore, and whoever wishes to throw stones at her is welcome. — There is another bond, the moral law of the sexes. It seems onerous to men of pleasure, to the companions of Richelieu, Lauzun and Tilly, to the heroes of Crebillon the younger, and all others belonging to that libertine and gallant society for whom license has become the rule. Our fine gentlemen are quite ready to adopt a theory which justifies their practices. They are very glad to be told that marriage is conventional and a thing of prejudice. Saint- Lambert obtains their applause at supper when, raising a glass of champagne, he proposes as a toast a return to nature and the customs of Tahiti. The last fetter of all is the government, the most galling, for it