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Characteristics Of Bayle
by [?]

Bayle was willing to become an expatriated man; to study, from the love of study, in poverty and honour! It happens sometimes that great men are criminated for their noblest deeds by both parties.

When his great work appeared, the adversaries of Bayle reproached him with haste, while the author expressed his astonishment at his slowness. At first, “The Critical Dictionary,” consisting only of two folios, was finished in little more than four years; but in the life of Bayle this was equivalent to a treble amount with men of ordinary application. Bayle even calculated the time of his headaches: “My megrims would have left me had it been in my power to have lived without study; by them I lose many days in every month.” The fact is, that Bayle had entirely given up every sort of recreation except that delicious inebriation of his faculties, as we may term it for those who know what it is, which he drew from his books. We have his avowal: “Public amusements, games, country jaunts, morning visits, and other recreations necessary to many students, as they tell us, were none of my business. I wasted no time on them, nor in any domestic cares,–never soliciting for preferment, nor busied in any other way. I have been happily delivered from many occupations which were not suitable to my humour; and I have enjoyed the greatest and the most charming leisure that a man of letters could desire. By such means an author makes a great progress in a few years.”

Bayle, at Rotterdam, was appointed to a professorship of philosophy and history; the salary was a competence to his frugal life, and enabled him to publish his celebrated Review, which he dedicates “to the glory of the city,” for illa nobis haec otia fecit.

After this grateful acknowledgment, he was unexpectedly deprived of the professorship. The secret history is curious. After a tedious war, some one amused the world by a chimerical “Project of Peace,” which was much against the wishes and the designs of our William the Third. Jurieu, the head of the Reformed party in Holland, a man of heated fancies, persuaded William’s party that this book was a part of a secret cabal in Europe, raised by Louis the Fourteenth against William the Third; and accused Bayle as the author and promoter of this political confederacy. The magistrates, who were the creatures of William, dismissed Bayle without alleging any reason. To an ordinary philosopher it would have seemed hard to lose his salary because his antagonist was one

Whose sword is sharper than his pen.

Bayle only rejoiced at this emancipation, and quietly returned to his Dictionary. His feelings on this occasion he has himself perpetuated.

“The sweetness and repose I find in the studies in which I have engaged myself, and which are my delight, will induce me to remain in this city, if I am allowed to continue in it, at least till the printing of my Dictionary is finished; for my presence is absolutely necessary in the place where it is printed. I am no lover of money, nor of honours, and would not accept of any invitation should it be made to me; nor am I fond of the disputes, and cabals, and professorial snarlings which reign in all our academies: Canam mihi et Musis.” He was indeed so charmed by quiet and independence, that he was continually refusing the most magnificent offers of patronage, from Count Guiscard, the French ambassador; but particularly from our English nobility. The Earls of Shaftesbury, of Albemarle, and of Huntingdon tried every solicitation to win him over to reside with them as their friend; and too nice a sense of honour induced Bayle to refuse the Duke of Shrewsbury’s gift of two hundred guineas for the dedication of his Dictionary. “I have so often ridiculed dedications that I must not risk any,” was the reply of our philosopher.