BOOK I, CHAPTER XX
ject of our aim is delight. It pleases me to belabour their ears with that word, which is so abhorrent to them; and if it signifies some supreme enjoyment and excessive satisfaction, it is due rather to the assistance of virtue than to any other assistance. This delight, because it is more lusty, vigorous, robust, and virile, is only the more completely delightful; and we should give it the name of pleasure, which is more gracious, more gentle, and more according to its nature, and not that of vigour, by which we have denominated it. That other, baser delight, if it deserved that fair name, would do so only conjointly, not exceptionally. I find it less free from troubles and trammels than virtue is. Besides that its savour is more transitory, unstable, and unreliable, it has its vigils, its fastings, and its labours, and sweat and blood, and also, especially, its poignant sufferings of so many sorts, and, accompanying it, so heavy a satiety, that it is equivalent to a penance. We are in the wrong in thinking that its troubles serve as a spur and seasoning to its sweetness, — as in nature one contrary is vivified by another, — and in saying, when we come to virtue, that similar consequences and difficulties over-burden her and make her austere and inaccessible; whereas much more quickly than in earthly delight, they ennoble, intensify, and heighten the divine and perfect pleasure which she brings us. Surely very unworthy of her acquaintance is he who balances her cost against her fruit, and who knows neither her charms, nor her proper use. They who proceed to instruct us that her quest is hard and laborious, and her possession agreeable, what do they suggest by that, if not that she is always disagreeable? For what human power ever attained to her possession? The most perfect are well content to aspire to her and to approach her without possessing her; but they are mistaken; for of all the pleasures that we know, the very pursuit of them is pleasant. The enterprise is affected by the quality of the thing with which it is concerned, for the quality is a large part of the deed, and is of the same substance.
- Volupté = earthly delight.
- That is, “they who proceed to instruct us.”
- Car c'est une bonne portion de l'effaict, et consubstantielle.