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thing altogether contrary to our custom). Defending this action of his, — and he was famous for keen sayings, — he asked me what distinction that dirty excrement had, that we should provide a fine piece of delicate linen to receive it in, and then, what is more, fold it up and carry it about with us; that that would seem naturally to cause us more disgust and sicken us more than to see it dropped here or there, as we do our other excrements. I found what he said not at all unreasonable; and that habit had prevented my marking this strange act, which, however, we find so odious when it is told of another country. Miracles exist from our ignorance of nature, not in nature herself. Habituation closes the eyes of our judgement. Barbarians are in no wise more astonishing to us than we are to them, nor with more reason, as every one would admit if every one, after having gone through these unfamiliar examples, would consider his own,[1] and compare them judiciously. Our human reason is a dye, infinite in quality, infinite in variety, infused in almost equal degree in all our opinions and manners, of whatever form they may be.

I resume. There are nations (b) where no one save his wife and children speaks to the king except through a speaking-trumpet. In another, the maidens go with their private parts uncovered, while the married women carefully cover and conceal theirs; to which this other custom, found elsewhere, bears some relation: chastity is valued only for the behoof of the marriage tie, for unmarried women can abandon themselves at their pleasure, and, being with child, can cause themselves to abort by taking the proper drugs, in every one’s sight. And elsewhere, if it be a merchant who marries, all the merchants invited to the wedding lie with the bride before he does, and the more of them there are, the more she acquires of honour, and of reputation for endurance and capacity. If a man holding public office marries, the same rule applies; so, if it be a noble; and the same with others, unless it be a labouring man or any one of the common people; for in that case it is the lord’s prerogative; and yet, in that country, they do not fail to enjoin strict fidelity during wedlock. There are other [peoples] where there

  1. Se coucher sur les propres.