Only the vicissitudes of life can show us its vanity and develop our innate love of death or of rebirth to a new life.
Pascal and other members of Port Royal openly expressed their doubts about the place allowed to God in the system; the adherents of Gassendi met it by resuscitating atoms; and the Aristotelians maintained their substantial forms as of old; the Jesuits argued against the arguments for the being of God, and against the theory of innate ideas; whilst Pierre Daniel Huet (1630-1721), bishop of Avranches, once a Cartesian himself, made a vigorous onslaught on the contempt in which his former comrades held literature and history, and enlarged on the vanity of all human aspirations after rational truth.
Shortly afterwards, with his vanity and love of popularity inflamed, he pandered to the passions of the lower orders by the publication of his Discours de la lanterne aux Parisiens which, with an almost fiendish reference to the excesses of the mob, he headed by a quotation from St John, Qui male agit odit lucem.
He is always charming, but he is rarely inspiring, except in a very few passages where the sense of vanity and nothingness possesses him with unusual strength.
He was the very opposite of Richelieu, as wheedling in his ways as the other had been haughty and scornful, as devoid of vanity and rancour as Richelieu had been full of jealous care for his authority; he was gentle where the other had been passionate and irritable, with an intelligence as great and more supple, and a far more grasping nature.
When the fleet was constructed on the Hydaspes, Onesicritus was appointed chief pilot (in his vanity he calls himself commander), and in this capacity accompanied Nearchus on the voyage from the mouth of the Indus to the Persian gulf.
He showed marked signs of senility by a tendency to fall asleep, forgetfulness of quite recent events, remembrance of remote ones, and the childish vanity with which he accepted the role of head of the Moscow opposition.
The influence of the professional literary class kept the clan spirit alive with their elaborate genealogies, and in their poems they only pandered to the vanity and vices of their patrons.
The scepticism of Joseph Glanvill, which is set forth in his two works The Vanity of Dogmatizing (1661) and Scepsis scientifica (1665), has more interest for Englishmen.
He was amiable and even estimable, the chief fault of his character being vanity and an incurable tendency towards theatrical effect, which makes his travels, memoirs and other personal records as well as his historical works radically untrustworthy.