Bernardin de St. Pierre, Paul and Virginia (1771), pp. 38-9

Paul and Virginia's religious life:

Sometimes they were lulled to repose by the beating of the rains, which fell in torrents upon the roofs of their cottages, and sometimes by the hollow winds, which brought to their ear the distant roar of the waves breaking upon the shore. They blessed God for their own safety, the feeling of which was brought home more forcibly to their minds by the sound of remote danger. Madame de la Tour occasionally read aloud some affecting history of the Old or New Testament. Her auditors reasoned but little upon these sacred volumes, for their theology was an active principle, like that of the Gospel. These families had no particular days devoted to pleasure, and others to sadness. Every day was to them a holiday, and all that surrounded them one holy temple, in which they ever adored the Infinite Intelligence, the Almighty God, the friend of human kind. A feeling of confidence in his supreme power filled their minds with consolation for the past, with fortitude under present trials, and with hope in the future. Compelled by misfortune to return almost to a state of nature, these excellent women had thus developed in their own and their children's bosoms the feelings most natural to the human mind, and its best support under affliction.

For Paul and Virginia, raised virtually outside civilization, religious feeling springs naturally, partly it seems from the simple fact that they suspect dangers they don't have to face. What they learn from listening to the sounds of thunderstorms tells them more about God than does the Bible, supporting the sensibilious belief in the innate goodness of humanity. For a further discussion of their religious life, click here.

Related terms:

a dictionary of sensibility
term list
source bibliography
critical bibliography