Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous
The First Dialogue
PHILONOUS. Good morrow, Hylas: I did not expect to find you abroad so early.
HYLAS. It is indeed something unusual; but my thoughts were so taken up with a subject
I was discoursing of last night, that finding I could not sleep, I resolved to rise and take a
turn in the garden.
PHIL. It happened well, to let you see what innocent and agreeable pleasures you lose
every morning. Can there be a pleasanter time of the day, or a more delightful season of
the year? That purple sky, those wild but sweet notes of birds, the fragrant bloom upon
the trees and flowers, the gentle influence of the rising sun, these and a thousand
nameless beauties of nature inspire the soul with secret transports; its faculties too being
at this time fresh and lively, are fit for those meditations, which the solitude of a garden
and tranquillity of the morning naturally dispose us to. But I am afraid I interrupt your
thoughts: for you seemed very intent on something.
HYL. It is true, I was, and shall be obliged to you if you will permit me to go on in the
same vein; not that I would by any means deprive myself of your company, for my
thoughts always flow more easily in conversation with a friend, than when I am alone:
but my request is, that you would suffer me to impart my reflexions to you.
PHIL. With all my heart, it is what I should have requested myself if you had not
HYL. I was considering the odd fate of those men who have in all ages, through an
affectation of being distinguished from the vulgar, or some unaccountable turn of
thought, pretended either to believe nothing at all, or to believe the most extravagant
things in the world. This however might be borne, if their paradoxes and scepticism did
not draw after them some consequences of general disadvantage to mankind. But the
mischief lieth here; that when men of less leisure see them who are supposed to have
spent their whole time in the pursuits of knowledge professing an entire ignorance of all
things, or advancing such notions as are repugnant to plain and commonly received
principles, they will be tempted to entertain suspicions concerning the most important
truths, which they had hitherto held sacred and unquestionable.
PHIL. I entirely agree with you, as to the ill tendency of the affected doubts of some
philosophers, and fantastical conceits of others. I am even so far gone of late in this way
of thinking, that I have quitted several of the sublime notions I had got in their schools for
vulgar opinions. And I give it you on my word; since this revolt from metaphysical
notions to the plain dictates of nature and common sense, I find my understanding
strangely enlightened, so that I can now easily comprehend a great many things which
before were all mystery and riddle.