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Pascal   By: (1823-1886)

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PASCAL

BY PRINCIPAL TULLOCH

WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS EDINBURGH AND LONDON 1878.—REPRINT, 1882

All Rights reserved

PREFATORY NOTE.

The translations in this volume are chiefly my own; but I have also taken expressions and sentences freely from others—and especially from Dr M’Crie, in his translation of the ‘Provincial Letters’—when they seemed to convey well the sense of the original. It would be impossible to distinguish in all cases between what is my own and what I have borrowed. The ‘Provincial Letters’ have been translated at least four times into English. The translation of Dr M’Crie, published in 1846, is the most spirited. The ‘Pensées’ were translated by the Rev. Edward Craig, A.M. Oxon., in 1825, following the French edition of 1819, which again followed that of Bossut in 1779. A new translation, both of the ‘Letters’ and ‘Pensées,’ by George Pearce, Esq.—the latter after the restored text of M. Faugère—appeared in 1849 and 1850.

J. T.

CONTENTS.

CHAP. PAGE

INTRODUCTION 1

I. PASCAL’S FAMILY AND YOUTH 5

II. PASCAL’S SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERIES 25

III. PASCAL IN THE WORLD 52

IV. PORT ROYAL AND PASCAL’S LATER YEARS 74

V. THE ‘PROVINCIAL LETTERS’ 103

VI. THE ‘PENSÉES’ 157

INTRODUCTION.

There are few names which have become more classical in modern literature than that of Blaise Pascal. There is hardly any name more famous at once in literature, science, and religion. Cut off at the early age of thirty nine—the fatal age of genius—he had long before attained pre eminent distinction as a geometer and discoverer in physical science; while the rumour of his genius as the author of the ‘Provincial Letters,’ and as one of the chiefs of a notable school of religious thought, had spread far and wide. His writings continue to be studied for the perfection of their style and the vitality of their substance. As a writer, he belongs to no school, and is admired simply for his greatness by Encyclopedist and Romanticist, by Catholic and Protestant alike,—by men like Voltaire and Condorcet and Sainte Beuve, no less than by men like Bossuet, Vinet, and Neander. His ‘Pensées’ have been carefully restored, and re edited with minute and loving faithfulness in our time by editors of such opposite tastes and tendencies as M. Prosper Faugère, M. Havet, and M. Victor Rochet. Cousin considered it one of the glories of his long intellectual career that he had first led the way to the remarkable restoration of Pascal’s remains. Of all the illustrious names which group themselves around Port Royal, it is Pascal alone, and Racine—who was more its pupil, but less its representative—whose genius can be said to survive, and to invest it with an undying lustre.

Pascal’s early death, the reserve of his friends under the assaults which the ‘Provincial Letters’ provoked, and his very fame, as a writer, have served in some degree to obscure his personality. To many a modern reader he is little else than a great name. The man is hidden away behind the author of the ‘Pensées,’ or the defender of Port Royal. Some might even say that his writings are now more admired than studied. They have been so long the subject of eulogy that their classical character is taken for granted, and the reader of the present day is content to look at them from a respectful distance rather than spontaneously study them for himself... Continue reading book >>




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