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Joseph Joubert (1754–1824). Joubert: A Selection from His Thoughts. 1899.

Chapter IX.

Of Order and Chance, of Good and Evil Fortune

[1]ALL are born to observe law, and few are born to establish it.

[2]The weakness that brings us back to order is better than the strength that leads us away from it.

[3]True rhythm is so naturally agreeable to us that it is impossible to sing in tune and dance in time without pleasure. Moral order is also measure and harmony; it is therefore impossible to live well without a secret and intense pleasure.

[4]Every thought of duty holds a man to his place in the universe, makes him feel and love it, like his native spot, easeful, comfortable, accustomed.

[5]Happy is he who is only fit for one thing! In doing it he fulfils his destiny.

[6]There are some ills that are the health of the soul, ills that are preferable to that bodily strength which hardens the organs, oppresses the soul, and crushes the mind.

[7]There is for the soul but one way of escaping the ills of life; that is, to escape its pleasures, and to seek her own higher.

[8]Neither love nor friendship, respect nor admiration, gratitude nor devotion, should rob us of our conscience, and our discernment of good and evil. This is a possession that we are forbidden to sell, and for which nothing could repay us.

[9]The good is worth more than the better. The better rarely lasts.

[10]Perhaps by a just disposition of Providence, crimes multiply the ills that they seek to prevent. Perhaps if Caligula had not been killed by a blow, and by a conspiracy that at first seemed praiseworthy, Claudius would not have reigned, nor Nero, nor Domitian, nor Commodus, nor Heliogabalus. Caligula, after a few crimes, would have fulfilled his days, would have died in his bed, and the succession of the Roman Emperors would have taken another, and a happier course. Perhaps what is evil, or tainted with evil, produces nothing but evil. God keeps misfortunes in His own hand, and deals them out in season. We are enjoined to do good, and good only; that is our task.