Les Miserables HTML version

Chapter 8
The senator above mentioned was a clever man, who had made his own way, heedless
of those things which present obstacles, and which are called conscience, sworn faith,
justice, duty: he had marched straight to his goal, without once flinching in the line of his
advancement and his interest. He was an old attorney, softened by success; not a bad
man by any means, who rendered all the small services in his power to his sons, his
sons-in-law, his relations, and even to his friends, having wisely seized upon, in life,
good sides, good opportunities, good windfalls. Everything else seemed to him very
stupid. He was intelligent, and just sufficiently educated to think himself a disciple of
Epicurus; while he was, in reality, only a product of Pigault-Lebrun. He laughed willingly
and pleasantly over infinite and eternal things, and at the "Crotchets of that good old
fellow the Bishop." He even sometimes laughed at him with an amiable authority in the
presence of M. Myriel himself, who listened to him.
On some semi-official occasion or other, I do not recollect what, Count*** [this senator]
and M. Myriel were to dine with the prefect. At dessert, the senator, who was slightly
exhilarated, though still perfectly dignified, exclaimed:--
"Egad, Bishop, let's have a discussion. It is hard for a senator and a bishop to look at
each other without winking. We are two augurs. I am going to make a confession to you.
I have a philosophy of my own."
"And you are right," replied the Bishop. "As one makes one's philosophy, so one lies on
it. You are on the bed of purple, senator."
The senator was encouraged, and went on:--
"Let us be good fellows."
"Good devils even," said the Bishop.
"I declare to you," continued the senator, "that the Marquis d'Argens, Pyrrhon, Hobbes,
and M. Naigeon are no rascals. I have all the philosophers in my library gilded on the
"Like yourself, Count," interposed the Bishop.
The senator resumed:--
"I hate Diderot; he is an ideologist, a declaimer, and a revolutionist, a believer in God at
bottom, and more bigoted than Voltaire. Voltaire made sport of Needham, and he was