“Sir, I have always declined speaking to you of my Religion, because it can be of no use to you, and because all Men being naturally prepossessed in favour of that in which they are born, it offends them to contradict the Articles of it. For this Reason, and by the Advice of my desceas’d Father, I have all my Life avoided entering into this Matter, that I might not give rise to Disputes in which every Man thinks it a Point of Honour and Conscience to support his own Opinion, and which never terminate but in mutual Animosities. For this Reason, Sir, I hope you will pardon me for not satisfying your Curiosity in this Particular. I would not have even spoke my Sentiments to you, on the Composition of the Globe, the Study of which is the Cause of my Travels, if I had not discerned in you, a Soul capable of triumphing over the Prejudices of Birth and Education, and above being provoked at the Things I intend to communicate to you ; perhaps they will at first appear to you opposite to what is contained in your sacred Books, yet I hope in the End to convince you that they are not really so. Philosophers (permit me to class myself among that Number, however unworthy of the Name) rarely find these happy Dispositions ; they have not even met with them in the Ages and in the Countries of Liberty, where it has been often dangerous for some of them who have dared to speak against the Opinions of the Vulgar. Besides, continued our Indian, you have traveled a great deal, you have travelled thro’ many Maritime Countries, you seem to think that the Secrets of Nature are not unworthy of your Curiosity. You have learned to doubt, and every Man who can do so, has a great Advantage over him who believes implicitly, and without taking the Trouble to examine. You therefore possess, Sir, the principal Dispositions necessary for relishing the Observations I am about to make. This gives me Reason to hope that you will yield to the Evidence of the Proofs I shall bring, for the Support of my System.”
Note: The punctuation and spelling above are preserved from the first English edition published in 1750. The title page below is from the first French edition published two years earlier.
3 responses to “Telliamed Speaks”
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Oh, but that was grand. Thank you.
There is an old Victorian story. A new member has joined a “Gentleman’s Club” in London. He sits down with cigar and sherry, and attempts to engage other members in conversation. Soon, the topic turns to religion. Not long afterward, words become heated, between Protestant, Catholic, Jew, Deist, and Atheist. The new member says nothing, puffing on his cigar and sipping his sherry. Finally, one of the older members asked that the new member contribute to the ever louder conversation, which was not so much conversation as argument. Silence fell.
“Mine is the gentleman’s religion,” the new member quietly replied.
“‘Gentleman’s religion?’ What pray tell is that, sir?” demanded the older member.
“Gentlemen do not discuss religion,” the new member replied calmly. He looked about the room, as if to underscore why.
Sexism and classism aside, that story (from Kipling?) has always stuck with me. And it is nice to learn that de Maillet felt much the same way, though he did find folks with whom to discuss his quite revolutionary ideas.
Besides, he pretty much originated the deeply cool idea of panspermia.
Again, Rich, you reveal yourself as a deeply classy fellow.
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