<pagequality level="3" user="Zoeannl" />style="background: #ececec; text-align: left; padding-left: 0.5em; font-weight: bold;" class="table-rh""I confess that I begin to think it singular that the human race should be improved by shackles, and enriched by taxes; and, truth to say, I should be relieved of a troublesome weight, I should experience unmitigated satisfaction, were it proved to me, as the author of the Sophismes asserts, that there is no incompatibility between thriving circumstances and justice, between peace and liberty, between the extension of labour and the progress of intelligence." (Sophisms XIV. and XX.)
"Then, without being quite convinced by his arguments, to which I know not whether to give the name of reasonings or of paradoxes, I shall apply myself to the acknowledged masters of the science."
Let us conclude this monography of sophism with a final and important observation.
The world is not sufficiently alive to the influence exercised over it by sophisms.
If I must speak my mind, when the right of the strongest has been put aside, sophisms have set up in its place the right of the most cunning; and it is difficult to say which of these two tryants has been the more fatal to humanity.
Men have an immoderate love of enjoyment, of influence, of consideration, of power—in a word, of wealth.
At the same time, they are urged on by a strong, an overpowering, inclination to procure the things they so much desire, at the expense of other people.
But these other people—in plain language, the public—have an equally strong desire to keep what they have got, if they can, and if they know it.
Spoliation, which plays so great a part in this world's affairs, has, then, only two agents at command, force and cunning; and two limits, courage and intelligence.
Force employed to effect spoliation forms the groundwork of human annals. To trace back its history, would be to reproduce very nearly the history of all nations—Assyrians, Babylonians, Medes, Persians, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Goths, Franks, Huns, Turks, Arabs, Monguls, Tartars; not to speak of Spaniards in America, Englishmen in India, Frenchmen in Africa, Russians in Asia, etc.
But civilized nations, at least, composed of men who produce