Ce livre basé sur les travaux de Paul Janet et John Stuart Mill, traite de la liberté de penser et d'exprimer sa pensée. On dénonce sans cesse les libres penseurs comme portant atteinte à toutes les lois divines et humaines, comme menaçant les bases mêmes de la société, comme effaçant la distinction du bien et du mal au profit de l'anarchie et du triomphe des passions. Il se trouve encore des esprits qui, même dans l'ordre de la foi, voudraient que l'état intervînt pour fixer ce qu'il faut croire et ce qu'il est permis de ne pas croire. Le retour au moyen-âge serait la vraie conséquence de ces déclamations, si elles se comprenaient elles-mêmes, et quelques-uns ne reculeraient nullement devant cette conséquence... La liberté de penser est donc le droit commun de toutes les écoles philosophiques: elles ne sont philosophiques qu'à cette condition. C'est là pour nous le premier principe, et par rapport à cette condition fondamentale les dissidences ultérieures n'ont en quelque sorte qu'une importance secondaire... « Une des formes de liberté à laquelle nous nous flattons de tenir le plus, pour laquelle nous nous déclarons prêts à aller en prison, qui est un étrange aboutissement de la liberté, ou à dresser des barricades contre ceux qui ne pensent pas comme nous, c'est la liberté de penser.» (Franc-Nohain)
This book presents the History of New Guinea and its ihabitants. "Immediately north of Australia, and separated from it at Torres Straits by less than a hundred miles of sea, is the largest island on the globe - New Guinea, a country of surpassing interest, whether as regards its natural productions or its human inhabitants, but which remains to this day less known than any accessible portion of the earth's surface... It was discovered in 1511, even earlier than Australia; and from that time Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, French, and English vessels have continually passed along its coasts. Most of our early navigators -Forrest, Dampier, and Cook - visited New Guinea, and have given us some account of its inhabitants..."
How can we describe, how can an artist paint, the aurora borealis? We of temperate climates are not strangers to the phenomena; we know something of the arcs and radiating streaks of various-colored light which frequently adorn our northern skies; and we are occasionally permitted to witness exhibitions in which the whole heavens shine with their marvelous glow. Yet travelers from the far North say that we can have no conception of the wonderful splendor of the phenomena as witnessed within the Polar Circle, and that nothing but the actual sight can convey an adequate idea of it.The aurora borealis was also well known to the ancients...
... There is undeniable fascination about a theory which includes within its sweep the time-honored problems of astronomy connected with comets' tails and the reason why they point away from the sun; the solar prominences and the corona; the source of the light by which the nebulæ shine; the origin and structure of meteor-swarms; and the aurora borealis; besides solving incidentally half a dozen minor outstanding mysteries of the heavens.
It is this consideration that lends a certain air of futility even to all the inspired simplicities and thunderous veracities of Tolstoy. We feel that a man cannot make himself simple merely by warring on complexity; we feel, indeed, in our saner moments that a man cannot make himself simple at all. A self-conscious simplicity may well be far more intrinsically ornate than luxury itself.
It is a common saying that thought is free. A man can never be hindered from thinking whatever he chooses so long as he conceals what he thinks. The working of his mind is limited only by the bounds of his experience and the power of his imagination. But this natural liberty of private thinking is of little value. It is unsatisfactory and even painful to the thinker himself, if he is not permitted to communicate his thoughts to others, and it is obviously of no value to his neighbours. Moreover it is extremely difficult to hide thoughts that have any power over the mind. If a man's thinking leads him to call in question ideas and customs which regulate the behaviour of those about him, to reject beliefs which they hold, to see better ways of life than those they follow, it is almost impossible for him, if he is convinced of the truth of his own reasoning, not to betray by silence, chance words, or general attitude that he is different from them and does not share their opinions. Some have preferred, like Socrates, some would prefer to-day, to face death rather than conceal their thoughts. Thus freedom of thought, in any valuable sense, includes freedom of speech.