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Title: A Philosophical Dictionary, Volume 1
Author: Voltaire, 1694-1778
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Philosophical Dictionary, Volume 1" ***

at http://www.freeliterature.org (From images generously








  With Notes by Tobias Smollett, Revised and Modernized
     New Translations by William F. Fleming, and an
           Introduction by Oliver H.G. Leigh





  One hundred and sixty-eight designs, comprising reproductions
      of rare old engravings, steel plates, photogravures,
                    and curious fac-similes






     _"Between two servants of Humanity, who appeared eighteen hundred
     years apart, there is a mysterious relation. * * * * Let us say it
     with a sentiment of profound respect: JESUS WEPT: VOLTAIRE SMILED.
     Of that divine tear and of that human smile is composed the
     sweetness of the present civilization."_

                                                    _VICTOR HUGO._

[Illustration: Voltaire at the age of thirty]







_The_ DICTIONNAIRE PHILOSOPHIQUE _is Voltaire's principal essay in
philosophy, though not a sustained work. The miscellaneous articles he
contributed to Diderot's_ ENCYCLOPÉDIE _which compose this Dictionary
embody a mass of scholarly research, criticism, and speculation, lit up
with pungent sallies at the formal and tyrannous ecclesiasticism of the
period and the bases of belief on which it stood._

_These short studies reflect every phase of Voltaire's sparkling genius.
Though some of the views enunciated in them are now universally held,
and others have become obsolete through extended knowledge, they were
startlingly new when Voltaire, at peril of freedom and reputation,
spread them before the people of all civilized nations, who read them
still with their first charm of style and substance._

                                                 OLIVER H.G. LEIGH

[Illustration: Voltaire at the age of thirty]

       *       *       *       *       *



         VOL. I


       *       *       *       *       *


The letter A has been accounted sacred in almost every nation, because
it was the first letter. The Egyptians added this to their numberless
superstitions; hence it was that the Greeks of Alexandria called it
_hier'alpha_; and, as omega was the last of the letters, these words
_alpha_ and _omega_ signified the beginning and the end of all things.
This was the origin of the cabalistic art, and of more than one
mysterious folly.

The letters served as ciphers, and to express musical notes. Judge what
an infinity of useful knowledge must thus have been produced. A, b, c,
d, e, f, g, were the seven heavens; the harmony of the celestial spheres
was composed of the seven first letters; and an acrostic accounted for
everything among the ever venerable Ancients.


Why has not the alphabet a name in any European language? _Alphabet_
signifies nothing more than _A_, _B_, and _A_, _B_, signifies nothing,
or but indicates two sounds, which two sounds have no relation to each
other. _Beta_ is not formed from _alpha_; one is first, the other is
second, and no one knows why.

How can it have happened that terms are still wanting to express the
portal of all the sciences? The knowledge of numbers, the art of
numeration, is not called the _one-two_; yet the first rudiment of the
art of expressing our thoughts has not in all Europe obtained a proper

The alphabet is the first part of grammar; perhaps those who are
acquainted with Arabic, of which I have not the slightest notion, can
inform me whether that language, which is said to contain no fewer than
eighty words to express a _horse_, has _one_ which signifies the

I protest that I know no more of Chinese than of Arabic, but I have
read, in a small Chinese vocabulary, that this nation has always had two
words to express the catalogue or list of the characters of its
language: one is _ko-tou_, the other _hai-pien_; we have neither
_ko-tou_ nor _hai-pien_ in our Occidental tongues. The Greeks, who were
no more adroit than ourselves, also said _alphabet_. Seneca, the
philosopher, used the Greek phrase to designate an old man who, like me,
asks questions on grammar, calling him _Skedon analphabetos_. Now the
Greeks had this same alphabet from the Phœnicians--from that people
called _the letter nation_ by the Hebrews themselves, when the latter,
at so late a period, went to settle in their neighborhood.

It may well be supposed that the Phœnicians, by communicating their
characters to the Greeks, rendered them a great service in delivering
them from the embarrassment occasioned by the Egyptian mode of writing
taught them by Cecrops. The Phœnicians, in the capacity of merchants,
sought to make everything easy of comprehension; while the Egyptians, in
their capacity of interpreters of the gods, strove to make everything

I can imagine I hear a Phœnician merchant landed in Achaia saying to
a Greek correspondent: "Our characters are not only easy to write, and
communicate the thoughts as well as the sound of the voice; they also
express our respective debts. My _aleph_, which you choose to pronounce
_alpha_, stands for an ounce of silver, _beta_ for two ounces, _tau_ for
a hundred, _sigma_ for two hundred. I owe you two hundred ounces; I pay
you a _tau_, and still owe you another _tau_; thus we shall soon make
our reckoning."

It was most probably by mutual traffic which administered to their
wants, that society was first established among men; and it is necessary
that those between whom commerce is carried on should understand one

The Egyptians did not apply themselves to commerce until a very late
period; they had a horror of the sea; it was their _Typhon_. The
Tyrians, on the contrary, were navigators from time immemorial; they
brought together those nations which Nature had separated, and repaired
those calamities into which the revolutions of the world frequently
plunged a large portion of mankind. The Greeks, in their turn, carried
to other nations their commerce and their convenient alphabet, which
latter was altered a little, as the Greeks had altered that of the
Tyrians. When their merchants, who were afterwards made demi-gods, went
to Colchis to establish a trade in sheepskins--whence we have the fable
of _the golden fleece_--they communicated their letters to the people of
the country, who still retain them with some alteration. They have not
adopted the alphabet of the Turks, to whom they are at present subject,
but whose yoke, thanks to the Empress of Russia, I hope they will throw

It is very likely (I do not say it is certain--God forbid!) that neither
Tyre nor Egypt, nor any other country situated near the Mediterranean
Sea, communicated its alphabet to the nations of Eastern Asia. If, for
example, the Tyrians, or the Chaldæans, who dwelt near the Euphrates,
had communicated their method to the Chinese, some traces of it would
have remained; we should have had the signs of the twenty-two,
twenty-three, or twenty-four letters, whereas they have a sign for each
word in their language; and the number of their words, we are told, is
eighty thousand. This method has nothing in common with that of Tyre; it
is seventy-nine thousand nine hundred and seventy-six times more learned
and more embarrassing than our own. Besides this prodigious difference,
they write from the top to the bottom of the page; while the Tyrians
and the Chaldæans wrote from right to left, and the Greeks, like
ourselves, wrote from left to right.

Examine the Tartar, the Hindoo, the Siamese, the Japanese characters;
you will not find the least resemblance to the Greek or the Phœnician

Yet all these nations, and not these alone, but even the Hottentots and
Kaffirs, pronounce the vowels and consonants as we do, because the
larynx in them is essentially the same as in us--just as the throat of
the rudest boor is made like that of the finest opera-singer, the
difference, which makes of one a rough, discordant, insupportable bass,
and of the other a voice sweeter than the nightingale's, being
imperceptible to the most acute anatomist; or, as the brain of a fool is
for all the world like the brain of a great genius.

When we said that the Tyrian merchants taught the Greeks their A, B, C,
we did not pretend that they also taught them to speak. It is probable
that the Athenians already expressed themselves in a better manner than
the people of Lower Syria; their throats were more flexible, and their
words were a more happy assemblage of vowels, consonants, and
diphthongs. The language of the Phœnician people was rude and gross,
consisting of such words as _Shasiroth_, _Ashtaroth_, _Shabaoth_,
_Chotiket_, _Thopheth_, etc.--enough to terrify a songstress from the
opera of Naples. Suppose that the Romans of the present day had retained
the ancient Etrurian alphabet, and some Dutch traders brought them that
which they now use; the Romans would do very well to receive their
characters, but it is not at all likely that they would speak the
Batavian language. Just so would the people of Athens deal with the
sailors of Capthor, who had come from Tyre or Baireuth; they would adopt
their alphabet as being better than that of Misraim or Egypt, but would
reject their speech.

Philosophically speaking, and setting aside all inferences to be drawn
from the Holy Scriptures, which certainly are not here the subject of
discussion, is not _the primitive language_ a truly laughable chimera?

What would be thought of a man who should seek to discover what had been
the primitive cry of all animals; and how it happens that, after a
series of ages, sheep bleat, cats mew, doves coo, linnets whistle? They
understand one another perfectly in their respective idioms, and much
better than we do. Every species has its language; that of the Esquimaux
was never that of Peru; there has no more been a _primitive language_ or
a _primitive alphabet_ than there have been _primitive oaks_ or
_primitive grass_.

Several rabbis assert that the Samaritan was the original tongue; other
persons say that it was that of Lower Brittany. We may surely, without
offending either the people of Brittany or those of Samaria, admit _no_
original tongue.

May we not, also, without offending any one, suppose that the alphabet
originated in cries and exclamations? Infants of themselves articulate
one sound when an object catches their attention, another when they
laugh, and a third when they are whipped, which they ought not to be.

As for the two little boys whom the Egyptian king _Psammeticus_--which,
by the by, is not an Egyptian word--brought up, in order to know what
was the primitive language, it seems hardly possible that they should
both have cried _bee bee_ when they wanted their breakfast.

From exclamations formed by vowels as natural to children as croaking is
to frogs, the transition to a complete alphabet is not so great as it
may be thought. A mother must always have said to her child the
equivalent of _come_, _go_, _take_, _leave_, _hush!_ etc. These words
represent nothing; they describe nothing; but a gesture makes them

From these shapeless rudiments we have, it is true, an immense distance
to travel before we arrive at syntax. It is almost terrifying to
contemplate that from the simple word _come_, we have arrived at such
sentences as the following: _Mother, I should have come with pleasure,
and should have obeyed your commands, which are ever dear to me, if I
had not, when running towards you, fallen backwards, which caused a
thorn to run into my left leg._

It appears to my astonished imagination that it must have required ages
to adjust this sentence, and ages more to put it into language. Here we
might tell, or endeavor to tell, the reader how such words are
expressed and pronounced in every language of the earth, as _father_,
_mother_, _land_, _water_, _day_, _night_, _eating_, _drinking_, etc.,
but we must, as much as possible, avoid appearing ridiculous.

The alphabetical characters, denoting at once the names of things, their
number, and the dates of events, the ideas of men, soon became mysteries
even to those who had invented the signs. The Chaldæans, the Syrians,
and the Egyptians attributed something divine to the combination of the
letters and the manner of pronouncing them. They believed that names had
a force--a virtue--independently of the things which they represented;
they went so far as to pretend that the word which signified _power_ was
_powerful_ in itself; that which expressed an _angel_ was _angelic_, and
that which gave the idea of _God_ was _divine_. The science of numbers
naturally became a part of necromancy, and no magical operation could be
performed without the letters of the alphabet.

Thus the clue to all knowledge led to every error. The magi of every
country used it to conduct themselves into the labyrinth which they had
constructed, and which the rest of mankind were not permitted to enter.
The manner of pronouncing vowels and consonants became the most profound
of mysteries, and often the most terrible. There was, among the Syrians
and Egyptians, a manner of pronouncing Jehovah which would cause a man
to fall dead.

St. Clement of Alexandria relates that Moses killed a king of Egypt on
the spot by sounding this name in his ear, after which he brought him
to life again by pronouncing the same word. St. Clement is very exact;
he cites the author, the learned _Artapanus_. Who can impeach the
testimony of _Artapanus_?

Nothing tended more to retard the progress of the human mind that this
profound science of error which sprung up among the Asiatics with the
origin of truth. The universe was brutalized by the very art that should
have enlightened it. Of this we have great examples in Origen, Clement
of Alexandria, Tertullian, etc.

Origen, in particular, expressly says: "If, when invoking God, or
swearing by him, you call him _the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob_ you
will, by these words, do things the nature and force of which are such
that the evil spirits submit to those who pronounce them; but if you
call him by another name as _God of the roaring sea_, etc., no effort
will be produced. The name of _Israel_ rendered in Greek will work
nothing; but pronounce it in Hebrew with the other words required, and
you will effect the conjuration."

The same Origen had these remarkable words: "There are names which are
powerful from their own nature. Such are those used by the sages of
Egypt, the magi of Persia, and the Brahmins of India. What is called
_magic_ is not a vain and chimerical art, as the Stoics and Epicureans
pretend. The name _Sabaoth_ and _Adonai_ were _not_ made for created
beings, but belong to a mysterious theology which has reference to the
creator; hence the virtue of these names when they are arranged and
pronounced according to rule," etc.

It was by pronouncing letters according to the magical method, that the
moon was made to descend to the earth. Virgil must be pardoned for
having faith in this nonsense, and speaking of it seriously in his
eighth eclogue:

          _Carmina de cœlo possunt de duecere lunam._
     Pale Phœbe, drawn by verse, from heaven descends.
                                         --DRYDEN'S VIRGIL.

In short, the alphabet was the origin, of all man's knowledge, and of
all his errors.


The word _abbé_, let it be remembered, signifies father. If you become
one you render a service to the state; you doubtless perform the best
work that a man can perform; you give birth to a thinking being: in this
action there is something divine. But if you are only _Monsieur l'Abbé_
because you have had your head shaved, wear a small collar, and a short
cloak, and are waiting for a fat benefice, you do not deserve the name
of _abbé_.

The ancient monks gave this name to the superior whom they elected; the
_abbé_ was their spiritual father. What different things do the same
words signify at different times! The spiritual _abbé_ was once a poor
man at the head of others equally poor: but the poor spiritual fathers
have since had incomes of two hundred or four hundred thousand livres,
and there are poor spiritual fathers in Germany who have regiments of

A poor man, making a vow of poverty, and in consequence becoming a
sovereign? Truly, this is intolerable. The laws exclaim against such an
abuse; religion is indignant at it, and the really poor, who want food
and clothing, appeal to heaven against _Monsieur l'Abbé_.

But I hear the _abbés_ of Italy, Germany, Flanders, and Burgundy ask:
"Why are not we to accumulate wealth and honors? Why are we not to
become princes? The bishops are, who were originally poor, like us; they
have enriched and elevated themselves; one of them has become superior
even to kings; let us imitate them as far as we are able."

Gentlemen, you are right. Invade the land; it belongs to him whose
strength or skill obtains possession of it. You have made ample use of
the times of ignorance, superstition, and infatuation, to strip us of
our inheritances, and trample us under your feet, that you might fatten
on the substance of the unfortunate. Tremble, for fear that the day of
reason will arrive!



An abbey is a religious community, governed by an abbot or an abbess.

The word _abbot_--_abbas_ in Latin and Greek, _abba_ in Chaldee and
Syriac--came from the Hebrew _ab_, meaning _father_. The Jewish doctors
took this title through pride; therefore Jesus said to his disciples:
"Call no one your father upon the earth, for one is your Father who is
in heaven."

Although St. Jerome was much enraged against the monks of his time, who,
in spite of our Lord's command, gave or received the title of _abbot_,
the Sixth Council of Paris decided that if abbots are spiritual fathers
and beget spiritual sons for the Lord, it is with reason that they are
called abbots.

According to this decree, if any one deserved this appellation it
belonged most assuredly to St. Benedict, who, in the year 528, founded
on Mount Cassino, in the kingdom of Naples, that society so eminent for
wisdom and discretion, and so grave in its speech and in its style.
These are the terms used by Pope St. Gregory, who does not fail to
mention the singular privilege which it pleased God to grant to this
holy founder--that all Benedictines who die on Mount Cassino are saved.
It is not, then, surprising that these monks reckon sixteen thousand
canonized saints of their order. The Benedictine sisters even assert
that they are warned of their approaching dissolution by some nocturnal
noise, which they call _the knocks of St. Benedict_.

It may well be supposed that this holy abbot did not forget himself when
begging the salvation of his disciples. Accordingly, on the 21st of
March, 543, the eve of Passion Sunday, which was the day of his death,
two monks--one of them in the monastery, the other at a distance from
it--had the same vision. They saw a long road covered with carpets, and
lighted by an infinite number of torches, extending eastward from the
monastery to heaven. A venerable personage appeared, and asked them for
whom this road was made. They said they did not know. "It is that,"
rejoined he, "by which Benedict, the well-beloved of God, has ascended
into heaven."

An order in which salvation was so well secured soon extended itself
into other states, whose sovereigns allowed themselves to be persuaded
that, to be sure of a place in Paradise, it was only necessary to make
themselves a friend in it, and that by donations to the churches they
might atone for the most crying injustices and the most enormous crimes.

Confining ourselves to France, we read in the "Exploits of King
Dagobert" (_Gestes du Roi Dagobert_), the founder of the abbey of St.
Denis, near Paris, that this prince, after death, was condemned by the
judgment of God, and that a hermit named John, who dwelt on the coast of
Italy, saw his soul chained in a boat and beaten by devils, who were
taking him towards Sicily to throw him into the fiery mouth of Etna; but
all at once St. Denis appeared on a luminous globe, preceded by thunder
and lightning, and, having put the evil spirits to flight, and rescued
the poor soul from the clutches of the most cruel, bore it to heaven in

Charles Martel, on the contrary, was damned--body and soul--for having
rewarded his captains by giving them abbeys. These, though laymen, bore
the title of _abbot_, as married women have since borne that of
_abbess_, and had convents of females. A holy bishop of Lyons, named
Eucher, being at prayer, had the following vision: He thought he was led
by an angel into hell, where he saw Charles Martel, who, the angel
informed him, had been condemned to everlasting flames by the saints
whose churches he had despoiled. St. Eucher wrote an account of this
revelation to Boniface, bishop of Mayence, and to Fulrad, grand chaplain
to Pepin-le-bref, praying them to open the tomb of Charles Martel and
see if his body were there. The tomb was opened. The interior of it bore
marks of fire, but nothing was found in it except a great serpent, which
issued forth with a cloud of offensive smoke.

Boniface was so kind as to write to Pepin-le-bref and to Carloman all
these particulars relative to the damnation of their father; and when,
in 858, Louis of Germany seized some ecclesiastical property, the
bishops of the assembly of Créci reminded him, in a letter, of all the
particulars of this terrible story, adding that they had them from aged
men, on whose word they could rely, and who had been eye-witnesses of
the whole.

St. Bernard, first abbot of Clairvaux, in 1115 had likewise had it
revealed to him that all who received the monastic habit from his hand
should be saved. Nevertheless, Pope Urban II., having, in a bull dated
1092, given to the abbey of Mount Cassino the title of _chief of all
monasteries_, because from that spot the venerable religion of the
monastic order had flowed from the bosom of Benedict as from a celestial
spring, the Emperor Lothario continued this prerogative by a charter of
the year 1137, which gave to the monastery of Mount Cassino the
pre-eminence in power and glory over all the monasteries which were or
might be founded throughout the world, and called upon all the abbots
and monks in Christendom to honor and reverence it.

Paschal II., in a bull of the year 1113, addressed to the abbot of Mount
Cassino, expresses himself thus: "We decree that you, as likewise all
your successors, shall, as being superior to all abbots, be allowed to
sit in every assembly of bishops or princes; and that in all judgments
you shall give your opinion before any other of your order." The abbot
of Cluni having also dared to call himself _the abbot of abbots_, the
pope's chancellor decided, in a council held at Rome in 1112, that this
distinction belonged to the abbot of Mount Cassino. He of Cluni
contented himself with the title of _cardinal abbot_, which he
afterwards obtained from Calixtus II., and which the abbot of _The
Trinity_ of Vendôme and some others have since assumed.

Pope John XX., in 1326 granted to the abbot of Mount Cassino the title
of bishop, and he continued to discharge the episcopal functions until
1367; but Urban V., having then thought proper to deprive him of that
dignity, he now simply entitles himself _Patriarch of the Holy
Religion, Abbot of the Holy Monastery of Mount Cassino, Chancellor and
Grand Chaplain of the Holy Roman Empire, Abbot of Abbots, Chief of the
Benedictine Hierarchy, Chancellor Collateral of the Kingdom of Sicily,
Count and Governor of the Campagna and of the maritime province, Prince
of Peace._

He lives, with a part of his officers, at San-Germano, a little town at
the foot of Mount Cassino, in a spacious house, where all passengers,
from the pope down to the meanest beggar, are received, lodged, fed, and
treated according to their rank. The abbot each day visits all his
guests, who sometimes amount to three hundred. In 1538, St. Ignatius
shared his hospitality, but he was lodged in a house on Mount Cassino,
six hundred paces west of the abbey. There he composed his celebrated
Institute--whence a Dominican, in a work entitled, "The Turtle-Dove of
the Soul," says: "Ignatius dwelt for twelve months on this mountain of
contemplation, and, like another Moses, framed those second tables of
religious laws which are inferior in nothing to the first."

Truly, this founder of the Jesuits was not received by the Benedictines
with that complaisance which St. Benedict, on his arrival at Mount
Cassino, had found in St. Martin the hermit, who gave up to him the
place in his possession, and retired to Mount Marsica, near Carniola. On
the contrary, the Benedictine Ambrose Cajeta, in a voluminous work
written for the purpose, has endeavored to trace the origin of the
Jesuits to the order of St. Benedict.

The laxity of manners which has always prevailed in the world, even
among the clergy, induced St. Basil, so early as the fourth century, to
adopt the idea of assembling in one community the solitaries who had
fled into deserts to follow the law; but, as will be elsewhere seen,
even the _regulars_ have not always been regular.

As for the secular clergy, let us see what St. Cyprian says of them,
even from the third century: "Many bishops, instead of exhorting and
setting an example to others, neglected the affairs of God, busied
themselves with temporal concerns, quitted their pulpits, abandoned
their flocks, and travelled in other provinces, in order to attend fairs
and enrich themselves by traffic; they succored not their brethren who
were dying of hunger; they sought only to amass heaps of money, to gain
possession of lands by unjust artifices, and to make immense profits by

Charlemagne, in a digest of what he intended to propose to the
parliament of 811, thus expresses himself: "We wish to know the duties
of ecclesiastics, in order that we may not ask of them what they are not
permitted to give, and that they may not demand of us what we ought not
to grant. We beg of them to explain to us clearly what they call
_quitting the world_, and by what those who quit it may be distinguished
from those who remain in it; if it is only by their not bearing arms,
and not being married in public; if that man has quitted the world who
continues to add to his possessions by means of every sort, preaching
Paradise and threatening with damnation; employing the name of God or of
some saint to persuade the simple to strip themselves of their property,
thus entailing want upon their lawful heirs, who therefore think
themselves justified in committing theft and pillage; if to quit the
world is to carry the passion of covetousness to such a length as to
bribe false witnesses in order to obtain what belongs to another, and to
seek out judges who are cruel, interested, and without the fear of God."

To conclude: We may judge of the morals of the regular clergy from a
harangue delivered in 1493, in which the Abbé Tritême said to his
brethren: "You abbés, who are ignorant and hostile to the knowledge of
salvation; who pass your days in shameless pleasures, in drinking and
gaming; who fix your affections on the things of this life; what answer
will you make to God and to your founder, St. Benedict?"

The same abbé nevertheless asserted that one-third of all the property
of Christians belonged of right to the order of St. Benedict, and that
if they had it not, it was because they had been robbed of it. "They are
so poor at present," added he, "that their revenues do not amount to
more than a hundred millions of louis d'ors." Tritême does not tell us
to whom the other two-thirds belong, but as in his time there were only
fifteen thousand abbeys of Benedictines, besides the small convents of
the same order, while in the seventeenth century their number had
increased to thirty-seven thousand, it is clear, by the rule of
proportion, that this holy order ought now to possess five-sixths of the
property in Christendom, but for the fatal progress of heresy during the
latter ages.

In addition to all other misfortunes, since the Concordat was signed, in
1515, between Leo X. and Francis I., the king of France nominating to
nearly all the abbeys in his kingdom, most of them have been given to
seculars with shaven crowns. It was in consequence of this custom being
but little known in England that Dr. Gregory said pleasantly to the Abbé
Gallois, whom he took for a Benedictine: "The good father imagines that
we have returned to those fabulous times when a monk was permitted to
say what he pleased."


Those who fly from the world are wise; those who devote themselves to
God are to be respected. Perhaps time has corrupted so holy an

To the Jewish therapeuts succeeded the Egyptian monks--_idiotoi_,
_monoi_--_idiot_--then signifying only solitary. They soon formed
themselves into bodies and became the opposite of solitaries. Each
society of monks elected its superior; for, in the early ages of the
church, everything was done by the plurality of voices. Men sought to
regain the primitive liberty of human nature by escaping through piety
from the tumult and slavery inseparably attendant on great empires.
Every society of monks chose its _father_--its _abba_--its _abbot_,
although it is said in the gospel, "call no man your father."

Neither abbots nor monks were priests in the early ages; they went in
troops to hear mass at the nearest village; their numbers, in time,
became considerable. It is said that there were upwards of fifty
thousand monks in Egypt.

St. Basil, who was first a monk and afterwards Bishop of Cæsarea and
Cappadocia, composed a code for all the monks of the fourth century.
This rule of St. Basil's was received in the East and in the West; no
monks were known but those of St. Basil; they were rich, took part in
all public affairs, and contributed to the revolutions of empires.

No order but this was known until, in the sixth century, St. Benedict
established a new power on Mount Cassino. St. Gregory the Great assures
us, in his Dialogues, that God granted him a special privilege, by which
all the Benedictines who should die on Mount Cassino were to be saved.
Consequently, Pope Urban II., in a bull of the year 1092, declared the
abbot of Mount Cassino chief of all the abbeys in the world. Paschal II.
gave him the title of _Abbot of Abbots, Patriarch of the Holy Religion,
Chancellor Collateral of the Kingdom of Sicily, Count and Governor of
the Campagna, Prince of Peace, etc._ All these titles would avail but
little were they not supported by immense riches.

Not long ago I received a letter from one of my German correspondents,
which began with these words: "The abbots, princes of Kempten, Elvengen,
Eudestet, Musbach, Berghsgaden, Vissemburg, Prum, Stablo, and Corvey,
and the other abbots who are not princes, enjoy together a revenue of
about nine hundred thousand florins, or two millions and fifty thousand
French livres of the present currency. Whence I conclude that Jesus
Christ's circumstances were not quite so easy as theirs." I replied:
"Sir, you must confess that the French are more pious than the Germans,
in the proportion of 4 16-41 to unity; for our consistorial benefices
alone, that is, those which pay annats to the Pope, produce a revenue of
nine millions; and two millions fifty thousand livres are to nine
millions as 1 is to 4 16-41. Whence I conclude that your abbots are not
sufficiently rich, and that they ought to have ten times more. I have
the honor to be," etc. He answered me by the following short letter:
"Dear Sir, I do not understand you. You doubtless feel, with me, that
nine millions of your money are rather too much for those who have made
a vow of poverty; yet you wish that they had ninety. I beg you will
explain this enigma." I had the honor of immediately replying: "Dear
Sir, there was once a young man to whom it was proposed to marry a woman
of sixty, who would leave him all her property. He answered that she
was not old enough." The German understood my enigma.

The reader must be informed that, in 1575, it was proposed in a council
of Henry III., King of France, to erect all the abbeys of monks into
secular commendams, and to give them to the officers of his court and
his army; but this monarch, happening afterwards to be excommunicated
and assassinated, the project was of course not carried into effect.

In 1750 Count d'Argenson, the minister of war, wished to raise pensions
from the benefices for chevaliers of the military order of St. Louis.
Nothing could be more simple, more just, more useful; but his efforts
were fruitless. Yet the Princess of Conti had had an abbey under Louis
XIV., and even before his reign seculars possessed benefices. The Duke
de Sulli had an abbey, although he was a Huguenot.

The father of Hugh Capet was rich only by his abbeys, and was called
_Hugh the Abbot_. Abbeys were given to queens, to furnish them with
pin-money. Ogine, mother of Louis d'Outremer, left her son because he
had taken from her the abbey of St. Mary of Laon, and given it to his
wife, Gerberge.

Thus we have examples of everything. Each one strives to make customs,
innovations, laws--whether old or new, abrogated, revived, or
mitigated--charters, whether real or supposed--the past, the present and
the future, alike subservient to the grand end of obtaining the good
things of this world; yet it is always for the greater glory of God.


ABLE.--An adjective term, which, like almost all others, has different
acceptations as it is differently employed.

In general it signifies more than _capable_, more than _well-informed_,
whether applied to an artist, a general, a man of learning, or a judge.
A man may have read all that has been written on war, and may have seen
it, without being _able_ to conduct a war. He may be _capable_ of
commanding, but to acquire the name of an _able_ general he must command
more than once with success. A judge may know all the laws, without
being _able_ to apply them. A learned man may not be _able_ either to
write or to teach. An _able_ man, then, is _he who makes a great use of
what he knows_. A _capable_ man _can_ do a thing; an _able_ one _does_
it. This word cannot be applied to efforts of pure genius. We do not say
an _able_ poet, an _able_ orator; or, if we sometimes say so of an
orator, it is when he has ably, dexterously treated a thorny subject.

Bossuet, for example, having, in his funeral oration over the great
Condé, to treat of his civil wars, says that there is a penitence as
glorious as innocence itself. He manages this point _ably_. Of the rest
he speaks with _grandeur_.

We say, an _able_ historian, meaning one who has drawn his materials
from good sources, compared different relations, and judged soundly of
them; one, in short, who has taken great pains. If he has, moreover,
the gift of narrating with suitable eloquence, he is more than _able_,
he is a _great_ historian, like Titus, Livius, de Thou, etc.

The word _able_ is applicable to those arts which exercise at once the
mind and the hand, as painting and sculpture. We say of a painter of
sculptor, _he is an able artist_, because these arts require a long
novitiate; whereas a man becomes a poet nearly all at once, like Virgil
or Ovid, or may even be an orator with very little study, as several
preachers have been.

Why do we, nevertheless, say, an _able_ preacher? It is because more
attention is then paid to art than to eloquence, which is no great
eulogium. We do not say of the sublime Bossuet, _he was an able maker of
funeral orations_. A mere player of an instrument is _able_; a composer
must be more than able; he must have genius. The workman executes
_cleverly_ what the man of taste has designed _ably_.

An _able_ man in public affairs is well-informed, prudent and active; if
he wants either of these qualifications he is not _able_.

The term, _an able courtier_, implies blame rather than praise, since it
too often means _an able flatterer_. It may also be used to designate
simply a clever man, who is neither very good nor very wicked. The fox
who, when questioned by the lion respecting the odor of his palace,
replied that he had taken cold, was an _able_ courtier; the fox who, to
revenge himself on the wolf, recommended to the old lion the skin of a
wolf newly flayed, to keep his majesty warm, was something more than

We shall not here discuss those points of our subject which belong more
particularly to morality, as the danger of wishing to be _too able_, the
risks which an _able_ woman runs when she wishes to govern the affairs
of her household without advice, etc. We are afraid of swelling this
dictionary with useless declamations. They who preside over this great
and important work must treat at length those articles relating to the
arts and sciences which interest the public, while those to whom they
intrust little articles of literature must have the merit of being

ABILITY.--This word is to _capacity_ what _able_ is to
_capable_--_ability_ in a science, in an art, in conduct.

We express an acquired quality by saying, _he has ability_; in action,
by saying, _he conducts that affair with ability_.

ABLY has the same acceptations; he works, he plays, he teaches _ably_.
He has _ably_ surmounted that difficulty.



We must say nothing of what is divine in Abraham, since the Scriptures
have said all. We must not even touch, except with a respectful hand,
that which belongs to the profane--that which appertains to geography,
the order of time, manners, and customs; for these, being connected with
sacred history, are so many streams which preserve something of the
divinity of their source.

Abraham, though born near the Euphrates, makes a great epoch with the
Western nations, yet makes none with the Orientals, who, nevertheless,
respect him as much as we do. The Mahometans have no certain chronology
before their hegira. The science of time, totally lost in those
countries which were the scene of great events, has reappeared in the
regions of the West, where those events were unknown. We dispute about
everything that was done on the banks of the Euphrates, the Jordan, and
the Nile, while they who are masters of the Nile, the Jordan and the
Euphrates enjoy without disputing. Although our great epoch is that of
Abraham, we differ sixty years with respect to the time of his birth.
The account, according to the registers, is as follows:

"And Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abraham, Nahor, and Haran. And
the days of Terah were two hundred and five years, and Terah died in
Haran. Now the Lord had said unto Abraham, get thee out of thy country
and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I
will show thee. And I will make of thee a great nation."

It is sufficiently evident from the text that Terah, having had Abraham
at the age of seventy, died at that of two hundred and five; and
Abraham, having quitted Chaldæa immediately after the death of his
father, was just one hundred and thirty-five years old when he left his
country. This is nearly the opinion of St. Stephen, in his discourse to
the Jews.

But the Book of Genesis also says: "And Abraham was seventy and five
years old when he departed out of Haran."

This is the principal cause (for there are several others) of the
dispute on the subject of Abraham's age. How could he be at once a
hundred and thirty-five years, and only seventy-five? St. Jerome and St.
Augustine say that this difficulty is inexplicable. Father Calmet, who
confesses that these two saints could not solve the problem, thinks he
does it by saying that Abraham was the youngest of Terah's sons,
although the Book of Genesis names him the first, and consequently as
the eldest. According to Genesis, Abraham was born in his father's
seventieth year; while, according to Calmet, he was born when his father
was a hundred and thirty. Such a reconciliation has only been a new
cause of controversy. Considering the uncertainty in which we are left
by both text and commentary, the best we can do is to adore without

There is no epoch in those ancient times which has not produced a
multitude of different opinions. According to Moréri there were in his
day seventy systems of chronology founded on the history dictated by God
himself. There have since appeared five new methods of reconciling the
various texts of Scripture. Thus there are as many disputes about
Abraham as the number of his years (according to the text) when he left
Haran. And of these seventy-five systems there is not one which tells us
precisely what this town or village of Haran was, or where it was
situated. What thread shall guide us in this labyrinth of conjectures
and contradictions from the very first verse to the very last?
Resignation. The Holy Spirit did not intend to teach us chronology,
metaphysics or logic; but only to inspire us with the fear of God. Since
we can comprehend nothing, all that we can do is to submit.

It is equally difficult to explain satisfactorily how it was that Sarah,
the wife of Abraham, was also his sister. Abraham says positively to
Abimelech, king of Gerar, who had taken Sarah to himself on account of
her great beauty, at the age of ninety, when she was pregnant of Isaac:
"And yet indeed she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father, but
not the daughter of my mother, and she became my wife." The Old
Testament does not inform us how Sarah was her husband's sister. Calmet,
whose judgment and sagacity are known to every one, says that she might
be his niece. With the Chaldæans it was probably no more an incest than
with their neighbors, the Persians. Manners change with times and with
places. It may be supposed that Abraham, the son of Terah, an idolater,
was still an idolater when he married Sarah, whether Sarah was his
sister or his niece.

There are several Fathers of the Church who do not think Abraham quite
so excusable for having said to Sarah, in Egypt: "It shall come to pass,
when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his
wife, and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive. Say, I pray
thee, thou art my sister, that it may be well with me for thy sake." She
was then only sixty-five. Since she had, twenty-five years afterwards
the king of Gerar for a lover, it is not surprising that, when
twenty-five years younger, she had kindled some passion in Pharaoh of
Egypt. Indeed, she was taken away by him in the same manner as she was
afterwards taken by Abimelech, the king of Gerar, in the desert.

Abraham received presents, at the court of Pharaoh, of many "sheep, and
oxen, and he-asses, and men-servants, and maid-servants, and she-asses,
and camels." These presents, which were considerable, prove that the
Pharaohs had already become great kings; the country of Egypt must
therefore have been very populous. But to make the country inhabitable,
and to build towns, it must have cost immense labor. It was necessary to
construct canals for the purpose of draining the waters of the Nile,
which overflowed Egypt during four or five months of each year, and
stagnated on the soil. It was also necessary to raise the town at least
twenty feet above these canals. Works so considerable seem to have
required thousands of ages.

There were only about four hundred years between the Deluge and the
period at which we fix Abraham's journey into Egypt. The Egyptians must
have been very ingenious and indefatigably laborious, since, in so short
a time, they invented all the arts and sciences, set bounds to the Nile,
and changed the whole face of the country. Probably they had already
built some of the great Pyramids, for we see that the art of embalming
the dead was in a short time afterwards brought to perfection, and the
Pyramids were only the tombs in which the bodies of their princes were
deposited with the most august ceremonies.

This opinion of the great antiquity of the Pyramids receives additional
countenance from the fact that three hundred years earlier, or but one
hundred years after the Hebrew epoch of the Deluge of Noah, the Asiatics
had built, in the plain of Sennaar, a tower which was to reach to
heaven. St. Jerome, in his commentary on Isaiah, says that this tower
was already four thousand paces high when God came down to stop the
progress of the work.

Let us suppose each pace to be two feet and a half. Four thousand paces,
then, are ten thousand feet; consequently the tower of Babel was twenty
times as high as the Pyramids of Egypt, which are only about five
hundred feet. But what a prodigious quantity of instruments must have
been requisite to raise such an edifice! All the arts must have
concurred in forwarding the work. Whence commentators conclude that men
of those times were incomparably larger, stronger, and more industrious
than those of modern nations.

So much may be remarked with respect to Abraham, as relating to the arts
and sciences. With regard to his person, it is most likely that he was a
man of considerable importance. The Chaldæans and the Persians each
claim him as their own. The ancient religion of the magi has, from time
immemorial, been called Kish Ibrahim, Milat Ibrahim, and it is agreed
that the word _Ibrahim_ is precisely the same as _Abraham_, nothing
being more common among the Asiatics, who rarely wrote the vowels, than
to change the _i_ into _a_, or the _a_ into _i_ in pronunciation.

It has even been asserted that Abraham was the Brahma of the Indians,
and that their notions were adopted by the people of the countries near
the Euphrates, who traded with India from time immemorial.

The Arabs regarded him as the founder of Mecca. Mahomet, in his Koran,
always viewed in him the most respectable of his predecessors. In his
third _sura_, or chapter, he speaks of him thus: "Abraham was neither
Jew nor Christian; he was an orthodox Mussulman; he was not of the
number of those who imagine that God has colleagues."

The temerity of the human understanding has even gone so far as to
imagine that the Jews did not call themselves the descendants of Abraham
until a very late period, when they had at last established themselves
in Palestine. They were strangers, hated and despised by their
neighbors. They wished, say some, to relieve themselves by passing for
descendants of that Abraham who was so much reverenced in a great part
of Asia. The faith which we owe to the sacred books of the Jews removes
all these difficulties.

Other critics, no less hardy, start other objections relative to
Abraham's direct communication with the Almighty, his battles and his
victories. The Lord appeared to him after he went out of Egypt, and
said, "Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art,
northward and southward, and eastward, and westward. For all the land
which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed forever."

The Lord, by a second oath, afterwards promised him all "from the river
of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates." The critics ask,
how could God promise the Jews this immense country which they have
never possessed? And how could God give to them _forever_ that small
part of Palestine out of which they have so long been driven? Again, the
Lord added to these promises, that Abraham's posterity should be as
numerous as the dust of the earth--"so that if a man can number the dust
of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered."

Our critics insist there are not now on the face of the earth four
hundred thousand Jews, though they have always regarded marriage as a
sacred duty and made population their greatest object. To these
difficulties it is replied that the church, substituted for the
synagogue, is the true race of Abraham, which is therefore very

It must be admitted that they do not possess Palestine; but they may one
day possess it, as they have already conquered it once, in the first
crusade, in the time of Urban II. In a word, when we view the Old
Testament with the eyes of faith, as a type of the New, all either is or
will be accomplished, and our weak reason must bow in silence.

Fresh difficulties are raised respecting Abraham's victory near Sodom.
It is said to be inconceivable that a stranger who drove his flocks to
graze in the neighborhood of Sodom should, with three hundred and
eighteen keepers of sheep and oxen, beat a _king of Persia, a king of
Pontus, the king of Babylon, and the king of nations_, and pursue them
to Damascus, which is more than a hundred miles from Sodom. Yet such a
victory is not impossible, for we see other similar instances in those
heroic times when the arm of God was not shortened. Think of _Gideon_,
who, with three hundred men, armed with three hundred pitchers and three
hundred lamps, defeated a whole army! Think of _Samson_, who slew a
thousand Philistines with the jawbone of an ass!

Even profane history furnishes like examples. Three hundred Spartans
stopped, for a moment, the whole army of Xerxes, at the pass of
Thermopylæ. It is true that, with the exception of one man who fled,
they were all slain, together with their king, Leonidas, whom Xerxes had
the baseness to gibbet, instead of raising to his memory the monument
which it deserved. It is moreover true that these three hundred
Lacedæmonians, who guarded a steep passage which would scarcely admit
two men abreast, were supported by an army of ten thousand Greeks,
distributed in advantageous posts among the rocks of Pelion and Ossa,
four thousand of whom, be it observed, were stationed behind this very
passage of Thermopyl.

These four thousand perished after a long combat. Having been placed in
a situation more exposed than that of the three hundred Spartans, they
may be said to have acquired more glory in defending it against the
Persian army, which cut them all in pieces. Indeed, on the monument
afterwards erected on the field of battle, mention was made of these
four thousand victims, whereas none are spoken of now but the _three

A still more memorable, though much less celebrated, action was that of
fifty Swiss, who, in 1315, routed at Morgarten the whole army of the
Archduke Leopold, of Austria, consisting of twenty thousand men. They
destroyed the cavalry by throwing down stones from a high rock; and gave
time to fourteen hundred Helvetians to come up and finish the defeat of
the army. This achievement at Morgarten is more brilliant than that of
Thermopylæ, inasmuch as it is a finer thing to conquer than to be
conquered. The Greeks amounted to ten thousand, well armed; and it was
impossible that, in a mountainous country, they could have to encounter
more than a hundred thousand Persians at once; it is more than probable
that there were not thirty thousand Persians engaged. But here fourteen
hundred Swiss defeat an army of twenty thousand men. The diminished
proportions of the less to the greater number also increases the
proportion of glory. But how far has Abraham led us? These digressions
amuse him who makes and sometimes him who reads them. Besides, every one
is delighted to see a great army beaten by a little one.


_Abraham_ is one of those names which were famous in Asia Minor and
Arabia, as _Thaut_ was among the Egyptians, the first _Zoroaster_ in
Persia, _Hercules_ in Greece, _Orpheus_ in Thrace, _Odin_ among the
northern nations, and so many others, known more by their fame than by
any authentic history. I speak here of profane history only; as for that
of the Jews, our masters and our enemies, whom we at once detest and
believe, their history having evidently been written by the Holy Ghost,
we feel toward it as we ought to feel. We have to do here only with the
Arabs. They boast of having descended from Abraham through Ishmael,
believing that this patriarch built Mecca and died there. The fact is,
that the race of Ishmael has been infinitely more favored by God than
has that of Jacob. Both races, it is true, have produced robbers; but
the Arabian robbers have been prodigiously superior to the Jewish ones;
the descendants of Jacob conquered only a very small country, which they
have lost, whereas the descendants of Ishmael conquered parts of Asia,
of Europe, and of Africa, established an empire more extensive than that
of the Romans, and drove the Jews from their caverns, which they called
_The Land of Promise_.

Judging of things only by the examples to be found in our modern
histories, it would be difficult to believe that Abraham had been the
father of two nations so widely different. We are told that he was born
in Chaldæa, and that he was the son of a poor potter, who earned his
bread by making little earthen idols. It is hardly likely that this son
of a potter should have passed through impracticable deserts and founded
the city of Mecca, at the distance of four hundred leagues, under a
tropical sun. If he was a conqueror, he doubtless cast his eyes on the
fine country of Assyria. If he was no more than a poor man, he did not
found kingdoms abroad.

The Book of Genesis relates that he was seventy-five years old when he
went out of the land of Haran after the death of his father, Terah the
potter; but the same book also tells us that Terah, having begotten
Abraham at the age of seventy years, lived to that of two hundred and
five; and, afterward, that Abraham went out of Haran, which seems to
signify that it was after the death of his father.

Either the author did not know how to dispose his narration, or it is
clear from the Book of Genesis itself that Abraham was one hundred and
thirty-five years old when he quitted Mesopotamia. He went from a
country which is called idolatrous to another idolatrous country named
Sichem, in Palestine. Why did he quit the fruitful banks of the
Euphrates for a spot so remote, so barren, and so stony as Sichem? It
was not a place of trade, and was distant a hundred leagues from
Chaldæa, and deserts lay between. But God chose that Abraham should go
this journey; he chose to show him the land which his descendants were
to occupy several ages after him. It is with difficulty that the human
understanding comprehends the reasons for such a journey.

Scarcely had he arrived in the little mountainous country of Sichem,
when famine compelled him to quit it. He went into Egypt with his wife
Sarah, to seek a subsistence. The distance from Sichem to Memphis is two
hundred leagues. Is it natural that a man should go so far to ask for
corn in a country the language of which he did not understand? Truly
these were strange journeys, undertaken at the age of nearly a hundred
and forty years!

He brought with him to Memphis his wife, Sarah, who was extremely young,
and almost an infant when compared with himself; for she was only
sixty-five. As she was very handsome, he resolved to turn her beauty to
account. "Say, I pray thee, that thou art my sister, that it may be well
with me for thy sake." He should rather have said to her, "Say, I pray
thee, that thou art my _daughter_." The king fell in love with the young
Sarah, and gave the pretended brother abundance of sheep, oxen,
he-asses, she-asses, camels, men-servants and maid-servants; which
proves that Egypt was then a powerful and well-regulated, and
consequently an ancient kingdom, and that those were magnificently
rewarded who came and offered their sisters to the kings of Memphis. The
youthful Sarah was ninety years old when God promised her that, in the
course of a year, she should have a child by Abraham, who was then a
hundred and sixty.

Abraham, who was fond of travelling, went into the horrible desert of
Kadesh with his pregnant wife, ever young and ever pretty. A king of
this desert was, of course, captivated by Sarah, as the king of Egypt
had been. The father of the faithful told the same lie as in Egypt,
making his wife pass for his sister; which brought him more sheep, oxen,
men-servants, and maid-servants. It might be said that this Abraham
became rich principally by means of his wife. Commentators have written
a prodigious number of volumes to justify Abraham's conduct, and to
explain away the errors in chronology. To these commentaries we must
refer the reader; they are all composed by men of nice and acute
perceptions, excellent metaphysicians, and by no means pedants.

For the rest, this name of _Bram_, or _Abram_, was famous in Judæa and
in Persia. Several of the learned even assert that he was the same
legislator whom the Greeks called _Zoroaster_. Others say that he was
the _Brahma_ of the Indians, which is not demonstrated. But it appears
very reasonable to many that this Abraham was a Chaldæan or a Persian,
from whom the Jews afterwards boasted of having descended, as the Franks
did of their descent from Hector, and the Britons from Tubal. It cannot
be denied that the Jewish nation were a very modern horde; that they did
not establish themselves on the borders of Phœnicia until a very late
period; that they were surrounded by ancient states, whose language they
adopted, receiving from them even the name of _Israel_, which is
Chaldæan, from the testimony of the Jew Flavius Josephus himself. We
know that they took the names of the angels from the Babylonians, and
that they called God by the names of _Eloi_ or _Eloa_, _Adonaï_,
_Jehovah_ or _Hiao_, after the Phœnicians. It is probable that they
knew the name of _Abraham_or _Ibrahim_ only through the Babylonians; for
the ancient religion of all the countries from the Euphrates to the Oxus
was called _Kish Ibrahim_ or _Milat Ibrahim_. This is confirmed by all
the researches made on the spot by the learned Hyde.

The Jews, then, treat their history and ancient fables as their
clothesmen treat their old coats--they turn them and sell them for new
at as high a price as possible. It is a singular instance of human
stupidity that we have so long considered the Jews as a nation which
taught all others, while their historian Josephus himself confesses the

It is difficult to penetrate the shades of antiquity; but it is evident
that all the kingdoms of Asia were in a very flourishing state before
the wandering horde of Arabs, called _Jews_, had a small spot of earth
which they called their own--when they had neither a town, nor laws, nor
even a fixed religion. When, therefore, we see an ancient rite or an
ancient opinion established in Egypt or Asia, and also among the Jews,
it is very natural to suppose that this small, newly formed, ignorant,
stupid people copied, as well as they were able, the ancient,
flourishing, and industrious nation.

It is on this principle that we must judge of Judæa, Biscay, Cornwall,
etc. Most certainly triumphant Rome did not in anything imitate Biscay
or Cornwall; and he must be either very ignorant or a great knave who
would say that the Jews taught anything to the Greeks.


It must not be thought that Abraham was known only to the Jews; on the
contrary, he was renowned throughout Asia. This name, which signifies
_father of a people_ in more Oriental languages than one, was given to
some inhabitant of Chaldæa from whom several nations have boasted of
descending. The pains which the Arabs and the Jews took to establish
their descent from this patriarch render it impossible for even the
greatest Pyrrhoneans to doubt of there having been an Abraham.

The Hebrew Scriptures make him the son of Terah, while the Arabs say
that Terah was his grandfather and Azar his father, in which they have
been followed by several Christians. The interpreters are of forty-two
different opinions with respect to the year in which Abraham was brought
into the world, and I shall not hazard a forty-third. It also appears,
by the dates, that Abraham lived sixty years longer than the text allows
him; but mistakes in chronology do not destroy the truth of a fact.
Supposing even that the book which speaks of Abraham had not been so
sacred as was the law, it is not therefore less certain that Abraham
existed. The Jews distinguished books written by inspired men from books
composed by particular inspiration. How, indeed, can it be believed that
God dictated false dates?

Philo, the Jew of Suidas, relates that Terah, the father or grandfather
of Abraham, who dwelt at Ur in Chaldæa, was a poor man who gained a
livelihood by making little idols, and that he was himself an idolater.
If so, that ancient religion of the Sabeans, who had no idols, but
worshipped the heavens, had not, then, perhaps, been established in
Chaldæa; or, if it prevailed in one part of the country, it is very
probable that idolatry was predominant in the rest. It seems that in
those times each little horde had its religion, as each family had its
own peculiar customs; all were tolerated, and all were peaceably
confounded. Laban, the father-in-law of Jacob, had idols. Each clan was
perfectly willing that the neighboring clan should have its gods, and
contented itself with believing that its own were the mightiest.

The Scripture says that the God of the Jews, who intended to give them
the land of Canaan, commanded Abraham to leave the fertile country of
Chaldæa and go towards Palestine, promising him that in his seed all the
nations of the earth should be blessed. It is for theologians to
explain, by allegory and _mystical sense_, how all the nations of the
earth were to be blessed in a seed from which they did not descend,
since this much-to-be-venerated _mystical sense_ cannot be made the
object of a research purely critical. A short time after these promises
Abraham's family was afflicted by famine, and went into Egypt for corn.
It is singular that the Hebrews never went into Egypt, except when
pressed by hunger; for Jacob afterwards sent his children on the same

Abraham, who was then very old, went this journey with his wife Sarah,
aged sixty-five: she was very handsome, and Abraham feared that the
Egyptians, smitten by her charms, would kill him in order to enjoy her
transcendent beauties: he proposed to her that she should pass for his
sister, etc. Human nature must at that time have possessed a vigor which
time and luxury have since very much weakened. This was the opinion of
all the ancients; it has been asserted that Helen was seventy when she
was carried off by Paris. That which Abraham had foreseen came to pass;
the Egyptian youth found his wife charming, notwithstanding her
sixty-five years; the king himself fell in love with her, and placed her
in his seraglio, though, probably, he had younger women there; but the
Lord plagued the king and his seraglio with very great sores. The text
does not tell us how the king came to know that this dangerous beauty
was Abraham's wife; but it seems that he did come to know it, and
restored her.

Sarah's beauty must have been unalterable; for twenty-five years
afterwards, when she was ninety years old, pregnant, and travelling with
her husband through the dominions of a king of Phœnicia named
Abimelech, Abraham, who had not yet corrected himself, made her a second
time pass for his sister. The Phœnician king was as sensible to her
attractions as the king of Egypt had been; but God appeared to this
Abimelech in a dream, and threatened him with death if he touched his
new mistress. It must be confessed that Sarah's conduct was as
extraordinary as the lasting nature of her charms.

The singularity of these adventures was probably the reason why the Jews
had not the same sort of faith in their histories as they had in their
Leviticus. There was not a single iota of their _law_ in which they did
not believe; but the historical part of their Scriptures did not demand
the same respect. Their conduct in regard to their ancient books may be
compared to that of the English, who received the laws of St. Edward
without absolutely believing that St. Edward cured the scrofula; or to
that of the Romans, who, while they obeyed their primitive laws, were
not obliged to believe in the miracles of the sieve filled with water,
the ship drawn to the shore by a vestal's girdle, the stone cut with a
razor, and so forth. Therefore the historian Josephus, though strongly
attached to his form of worship, leaves his readers at liberty to
believe just so much as they choose of the ancient prodigies which he
relates. For the same reason the Sadducees were permitted not to believe
in the angels, although the angels are so often spoken of in the Old
Testament; but these same Sadducees were not permitted to neglect the
prescribed feasts, fasts, and ceremonies. This part of Abraham's history
(the journeys into Egypt and Phœnicia) proves that great kingdoms
were already established, while the Jewish nation existed in a single
family; that there already were laws, since without them a great kingdom
cannot exist; and consequently that the law of Moses, which was
posterior, was not the first law. It is not necessary for a law to be
divine, that it should be the most ancient of all. God is undoubtedly
the master of time. It would, it is true, seem more conformable to the
faint light of reason that God, having to give a law, should have given
it at the first to all mankind; but if it be proved that He proceeds in
a different way, it is not for us to question Him.

The remainder of Abraham's history is subject to great difficulties.
God, who frequently appeared to and made several treaties with him, one
day sent three angels to him in the valley of Mamre. The patriarch gave
them bread, veal, butter, and milk to eat. The three spirits dined, and
after dinner they sent for Sarah, who had baked the bread. One of the
angels, whom the text calls _the Lord, the Eternal_, promised Sarah
that, in the course of a year, she should have a son. Sarah, who was
then ninety-four, while her husband was nearly a hundred, laughed at the
promise--a proof that Sarah confessed her decrepitude--a proof that,
according to the Scripture itself, human nature was not then very
different from what it is now. Nevertheless, the following year, as we
have already seen, this aged woman, after becoming pregnant, captivated
King Abimelech. Certes, to consider these stories as natural, we must
either have a species of understanding quite different from that which
we have at present, or regard every trait in the life of Abraham as a
miracle, or believe that it is only an allegory; but whichever way we
turn, we cannot escape embarrassment. For instance, what are we to make
of God's promise to Abraham that he would give to him and his posterity
all the land of Canaan, which no Chaldæan ever possessed? This is one
of the difficulties which it is impossible to solve.

It seems astonishing that God, after causing Isaac to be born of a
centenary father and a woman of ninety-five, should afterwards have
ordered that father to murder the son whom he had given him contrary to
every expectation. This strange order from God seems to show that, at
the time when this history was written, the sacrifice of human victims
was customary amongst the Jews, as it afterwards became in other
nations, as witness the vow of Jephthah. But it may be said that the
obedience of Abraham, who was ready to sacrifice his son to the God who
had given him, is an _allegory_ of the resignation which man owes to the
orders of the Supreme Being.

There is one remark which it is particularly important to make on the
history of this patriarch regarded as the father of the Jews and the
Arabs. His principal children were Isaac, born of his wife by a
miraculous favor of Providence, and Ishmael, born of his servant. It was
in Isaac that the race of the patriarch was blessed; yet Isaac was
father only of an unfortunate and contemptible people, who were for a
long period slaves, and have for a still longer period been dispersed.
Ishmael, on the contrary, was the father of the Arabs, who, in course of
time, established the empire of the caliphs, one of the most powerful
and most extensive in the world.

The Mussulmans have a great reverence for Abraham, whom they call
_Ibrahim_. Those who believe him to have been buried at Hebron, make a
pilgrimage thither, while those who think that his tomb is at Mecca, go
and pay their homage to him there.

Some of the ancient Persians believed that Abraham was the same as
Zoroaster. It has been with him as with most of the founders of the
Eastern nations, to whom various names and various adventures have been
attributed; but it appears by the Scripture text that he was one of
those wandering Arabs who had no fixed habitation. We see him born at Ur
in Chaldæa, going first to Haran, then into Palestine, then into Egypt,
then into Phœnicia, and lastly forced to buy a grave at Hebron.

One of the most remarkable circumstances of his life was, that at the
age of ninety, before he had begotten Isaac, he caused himself, his son
Ishmael, and all his servants to be circumcised. It seems that he had
adopted this idea from the Egyptians. It is difficult to determine the
origin of such an operation; but it is most likely that it was performed
in order to prevent the abuses of puberty. But why should a man undergo
this operation at the age of a hundred?

On the other hand it is asserted that only the priests were anciently
distinguished in Egypt by this custom. It was a usage of great antiquity
in Africa and part of Asia for the most holy personages to present their
virile member to be kissed by the women whom they met. The organs of
generation were looked upon as something noble and sacred--as a symbol
of divine power: it was customary to swear by them; and, when taking an
oath to another person, to lay the hand on his _testicles_. It was
perhaps from this ancient custom that they afterwards received their
name, which signifies witnesses, because they were thus made a
_testimony_ and a pledge. When Abraham sent his servant to ask Rebecca
for his son Isaac, the servant placed his hand on Abraham's _genitals_,
which has been translated by the word _thigh_.

By this we see how much the manners of remote antiquity differed from
ours. In the eyes of a philosopher it is no more astonishing that men
should formerly have sworn by that part than by the head; nor is it
astonishing that those who wished to distinguish themselves from other
men should have testified by this venerated portion of the human person.

The Book of Genesis tells us that circumcision was a covenant between
God and Abraham; and expressly adds, that whosoever shall not be
circumcised in his house, shall be put to death. Yet we are not told
that Isaac was circumcised; nor is circumcision again spoken of until
the time of Moses.

We shall conclude this article with one more observation, which is, that
Abraham, after having by Sarah and Hagar two sons, who became each the
father of a great nation, had six sons by Keturah, who settled in
Arabia; but their posterity were not famous.


A vice attached to all the customs, to all the laws, to all the
institutions of man: the detail is too vast to be contained in any

States are governed by abuses. _Maximus ille est qui minimis urgetur._
It might be said to the Chinese, to the Japanese, to the English--your
government swarms with abuses, which you do not correct! The Chinese
will reply: We have existed as a people for five thousand years, and at
this day are perhaps the most fortunate nation on earth, because we are
the most tranquil. The Japanese will say nearly the same. The English
will answer: We are powerful at sea, and prosperous on land; perhaps in
ten thousand years we shall bring our usages to perfection. The grand
secret is, to be in a better condition than others, even with enormous


Books, like conversation, rarely give us any precise ideas: nothing is
so common as to read and converse unprofitably.

We must here repeat what Locke has so strongly urged--_Define your

A jurisconsult, in his criminal institute, announces that the
non-observance of Sundays and holidays is treason against the Divine
Majesty. _Treason against the Divine Majesty_ gives an idea of the most
enormous of crimes, and the most dreadful of chastisements. But what
constitutes the offence? To have missed vespers?--a thing which may
happen to the best man in the world.

In all disputes on _liberty_, one reasoner generally understands one
thing, and his adversary another. A third comes in who understands
neither the one nor the other, nor is himself understood. In these
disputes, one has in his head the power of acting; a second, the power
of willing; a third, the desire of executing; each revolves in his own
circle, and they never meet. It is the same with quarrels about _grace_.
Who can understand its nature, its operations, the _sufficiency_ which
is not sufficient, and the _efficacy_ which is ineffectual.

The words _substantial form_ were pronounced for two thousand years
without suggesting the least notion. For these, _plastic natures_ have
been substituted, but still without anything being gained.

A traveller, stopped on his way by a torrent, asks a villager on the
opposite bank to show him the ford: "Go to the right!" shouts the
countryman. He takes the right and is drowned. The other runs up crying:
"Oh! how unfortunate! I did not tell him to go to _his_ right, but to

The world is full of these misunderstandings. How will a Norwegian, when
reading this formula: _Servant of the servants of God_; discover that it
is the _Bishop of Bishops, and King of Kings_ who speaks?

At the time when the "Fragments of Petronius" made a great noise in the
literary world, Meibomius, a noted learned man of Lübeck, read in the
printed letter of another learned man of Bologna: "We have here an
entire Petronius, which I have seen with my own eyes and admired."
_Habemus hic Petronium integrum, quem vidi meis oculis non sine
admiratione._ He immediately set out for Italy, hastened to Bologna,
went to the librarian Capponi, and asked him if it were true that they
had the entire Petronius at Bologna. Capponi answered that it was a fact
which had long been public. "Can I see this Petronius? Be so good as to
show him to me." "Nothing is more easy," said Capponi. He then took him
to the church in which the body of St. Petronius was laid. Meibomius
ordered horses and fled.

If the Jesuit Daniel took a warlike abbot, _abbatem martialem_, for the
abbot Martial, a hundred historians have fallen into still greater
mistakes. The Jesuit d'Orleans, in his "Revolutions of England," wrote
indifferently _Northampton_ or _Southampton_, only mistaking the north
for the south, or _vice versa_.

Metaphysical terms, taken in their proper sense, have sometimes
determined the opinion of twenty nations. Every one knows the metaphor
of Isaiah, _How hast thou fallen from heaven, thou star which rose in
the morning?_ This discourse was imagined to have been addressed to the
devil; and as the Hebrew word answering to the planet _Venus_ was
rendered in Latin by the word _Lucifer_, the devil has ever since been
called Lucifer.

Much ridicule has been bestowed on the "Chart of the Tender Passion" by
Mdlle. Cuderi. The lovers embark on the river _Tendre_; they dine at
_Tendre sur Estime_, sup at _Tendre sur Inclination_, sleep at _Tendre
sur Désir_, find themselves the next morning at _Tendre sur Passion_,
and lastly at _Tendre sur Tendre_. These ideas may be ridiculous,
especially when _Clelia, Horatius Cocles_, and other rude and austere
Romans set out on the voyage; but this geographical chart at least shows
us that love has various lodgings, and that the same word does not
always signify the same thing. There is a prodigious difference between
the love of Tarquin and that of Celadon--between David's love for
Jonathan, which was stronger than that of women, and the Abbé
Desfontaines' love for little chimney-sweepers.

The most singular instance of this abuse of words--these voluntary
_equivoques_--these misunderstandings which have caused so many
quarrels--is the Chinese _King-tien_. The missionaries having violent
disputes about the meaning of this word, the Court of Rome sent a
Frenchman, named _Maigrot_, whom they made the imaginary bishop of a
province in China, to adjust the difference. Maigrot did not know a word
of Chinese; but the emperor deigned to grant that he should be told
what he understood by _King-tien_. Maigrot would not believe what was
told him, but caused the emperor of China to be condemned at Rome!

The abuse of words is an inexhaustible subject. In history, in morality,
in jurisprudence, in medicine, but especially in _theology_, beware of


Academies are to universities as maturity is to childhood, oratory to
grammar, or politeness to the first lessons in civility. Academies, not
being stipendiary, should be entirely free; such were the academies of
Italy; such is the French Academy; and such, more particularly, is the
Royal Society of London.

The French Academy, which formed itself, received, it is true, letters
patent from Louis XIII., but without any salary, and consequently
without any subjection; hence it was that the first men in the kingdom,
and even princes, sought admission into this illustrious body. The
Society of London has possessed the same advantage.

The celebrated Colbert, being a member of the French Academy, employed
some of his brethren to compose inscriptions and devices for the public
buildings. This assembly, to which Boileau and Racine afterwards
belonged, soon became an academy of itself. The establishment of this
Academy of Inscriptions, now called that of the _Belles-Lettres_, may,
indeed, be dated from the year 1661, and that of the Academy of Sciences
from 1666. We are indebted for both establishments to the same minister,
who contributed in so many ways to the splendor of the age of Louis XIV.

After the deaths of Jean Baptiste Colbert and the Marquis de Louvois,
when Count de Pontchartrain, secretary of state, had the department of
Paris, he intrusted the government of the new academies to his nephew,
the Abbé Bignon. Then were first devised honorary fellowships requiring
no learning, and without remuneration; places with salaries disagreeably
distinguished from the former; fellowships without salaries; and
scholarships, a title still more disagreeable, which has since been
suppressed. The Academy of the Belles-Lettres was put on the same
footing; both submitted to the immediate control of the secretary of
state, and to the revolting distinction of _honoraries_, _pensionaries_,
and _pupils_.

The Abbé Bignon ventured to propose the same regulation to the French
Academy, of which he was a member; but he was heard with unanimous
indignation. The least opulent in the Academy were the first to reject
his offers, and to prefer liberty to pensions and honors. The Abbé
Bignon, who, in the laudable intention of doing good, had dealt too
freely with the noble sentiments of his brethren, never again set his
foot in the French Academy.

The word _Academy_ became so celebrated that when Lulli, who was a sort
of favorite, obtained the establishment of his Opera, in 1692, he had
interest enough to get inserted in the patent, _that it was a Royal
Academy of Music, in which Ladies and Gentlemen might sing without
demeaning themselves_. He did not confer the same honor on the dancers;
the public, however, has always continued to go to the Opera, but never
to the Academy of Music.

It is known that the word _Academy_, borrowed from the Greeks,
originally signified a society or school of philosophy at Athens, which
met in a garden bequeathed to it by _Academus_. The Italians were the
first who instituted such societies after the revival of letters; the
Academy _Delia Crusca_ is of the sixteenth century. Academies were
afterwards established in every town where the sciences were cultivated.
The Society of London has never taken the title of _Academy_.

The provincial academies have been of signal advantage. They have given
birth to emulation, forced youth to labor, introduced them to a course
of good reading, dissipated the ignorance and prejudices of some of our
towns, fostered a spirit of politeness, and, as far as it is possible,
destroyed pedantry.

Scarcely anything has been written against the French Academy, except
frivolous and insipid pleasantries. St. Evremond's comedy of "The
Academicians" had some reputation in its time; but a proof of the little
merit it possessed is that it is now forgotten, whereas the good satires
of Boileau are immortal.



So much has been said and so much written concerning Adam, his wife, the
pre-Adamites, etc., and the rabbis have put forth so many idle stories
respecting Adam, and it is so dull to repeat what others have said
before, that I shall here hazard an idea entirely new; one, at least,
which is not to be found in any ancient author, father of the church,
preacher, theologian, critic, or scholar with whom I am acquainted. I
mean the profound _secrecy_ with respect to Adam which was observed
throughout the habitable earth, Palestine only excepted, until the time
when the Jewish books began to be known in Alexandria, and were
translated into Greek under one of the Ptolemies. Still they were very
little known; for large books were very rare and very dear. Besides, the
Jews of Jerusalem were so incensed against those of Alexandria, loaded
them with so many reproaches for having translated their Bible into a
profane tongue, called them so many ill names, and cried so loudly to
the Lord, that the Alexandrian Jews concealed their translation as much
as possible; it was so secret that no Greek or Roman author speaks of it
before the time of the Emperor Aurelian.

The historian Josephus confesses, in his answer to Appian, that the Jews
had not long had any intercourse with other nations: "We inhabit," says
he, "a country distant from the sea; we do not apply ourselves to
commerce, nor have we any communication with other nations. Is it to be
wondered at that our people, dwelling so far from the sea, and affecting
never to write, have been so little known?"

Here it will probably be asked how Josephus could say that his nation
affected _never to write anything_, when they had twenty-two canonical
books, without reckoning the _"Targum"_ by _Onkelos_. But it must be
considered that twenty-two small volumes were very little when compared
with the multitude of books preserved in the library of Alexandria, half
of which were burned in Cæsar's war.

It is certain that the Jews had written and read very little; that they
were profoundly ignorant of astronomy, geometry, geography, and physics;
that they knew nothing of the history of other nations; and that in
Alexandria they first began to learn. Their language was a barbarous
mixture of ancient Phœnician and corrupted Chaldee; it was so poor
that several moods were wanting in the conjugation of their verbs.

Moreover, as they communicated neither their books nor the titles of
them to any foreigner, no one on earth except themselves had ever heard
of _Adam_, or _Eve_, or _Abel_, or _Cain_, or _Noah_. _Abraham_ alone
was, in course of time, known to the Oriental nations; but no ancient
people admitted that Abraham was the root of the Jewish nation.

Such are the secrets of Providence, that the father and mother of the
human race have ever been totally unknown to their descendants; so that
the names of Adam and Eve are to be found in no ancient author, either
of Greece, of Rome, of Persia, or of Syria, nor even among the Arabs,
until near the time of Mahomet. It was God's pleasure that the origin of
the great family of the world should be concealed from all but the
smallest and most unfortunate part of that family.

How is it that Adam and Eve have been unknown to all their children? How
could it be that neither in Egypt nor in Babylon was any trace--any
tradition--of our first parents to be found? Why were they not mentioned
by Orpheus, by Linus, or by Thamyris? For if they had said but one word
of them, it would undoubtedly have been caught by Hesiod, and especially
by Homer, who speak of everything except the authors of the human race.
Clement of Alexandria, who collected so many ancient testimonies, would
not have failed to quote any passage in which mention had been made of
Adam and Eve. Eusebius, in his "Universal History," has examined even
the most doubtful testimonies, and would assuredly have made the most of
the smallest allusion, or appearance of an allusion, to our first
parents. It is, then, sufficiently clear that they were always utterly
unknown to the nations.

We do, it is true, find among the Brahmins, in the book entitled the
_"Ezourveidam"_ the names of _Adimo_ and of _Procriti_, his wife. But
though _Adimo_ has some little resemblance to our _Adam_, the Indians
say: "We were a great people established on the banks of the Indus and
the Ganges many ages before the Hebrew horde moved towards the Jordan.
The Egyptians, the Persians, and the Arabs came to us for wisdom and
spices when the Jews were unknown to the rest of mankind. We cannot have
taken our _Adimo_ from their Adam; our _Procriti_ does not in the least
resemble _Eve_; besides, their history and ours are entirely different.

"Moreover, the _'Veidam'_ on which the _'Ezourveidam'_ is a commentary,
is believed by us to have been composed at a more remote period of
antiquity than the Jewish books; and the _'Veidam'_ itself is a newer
law given to the Brahmins, fifteen hundred years after their first law,
called _Shasta_ or _Shastabad_."

Such, or nearly such, are the answers which the Brahmins of the present
day have often made to the chaplains of merchant vessels who have talked
to them of Adam and Eve, and Cain and Abel, when the traders of Europe
have gone, with arms in their hands, to buy their spices and lay waste
their country.

The Phœnician Sanchoniathon, who certainly lived before the period at
which we place Moses, and who is quoted by Eusebius as an authentic
writer, gives ten generations to the human race, as does Moses, down to
the time of Noah; but, in these ten generations, he mentions neither
Adam nor Eve, nor any of their descendants, not even Noah himself. The
names, according to the Greek translation by Philo of Biblos, are _Æon_,
_Gems_, _Phox_, _Liban_, _Usou_, _Halieus_, _Chrisor_, _Tecnites_,
_Agrove_, _Amine_; these are the first ten generations.

We do not see the name of _Noah_ or of _Adam_ in any of the ancient
dynasties of Egypt: they are not to be found among the Chaldæans; in a
word, the whole earth has been silent respecting them. It must be owned
that such a silence is unparalleled. Every people has attributed to
itself some imaginary origin, yet none has approached the true one. We
cannot comprehend how the father of all nations has so long been
unknown, while in the natural course of things his name should have been
carried from mouth to mouth to the farthest corners of the earth.

Let us humble ourselves to the decrees of that Providence which has
permitted so astonishing an oblivion. All was mysterious and concealed
in the nation guided by God Himself, which prepared the way for
Christianity, and was the wild olive on which the fruitful one has been
grafted. That the names of the authors of mankind should be unknown to
mankind is a mystery of the highest order.

I will venture to affirm that it has required a miracle thus to shut the
eyes and ears of all nations--to destroy every monument, every memorial
of their first father. What would Cæsar, Antony, Crassus, Pompey,
Cicero, Marcellus, or Metellus have thought, if a poor Jew, while
selling them balm, had said, "We all descend from one father, named
Adam." All the Roman senate would have cried, "Show us our genealogical
tree." Then the Jew would have displayed his ten generations, down to
the time of Noah, and the secret of the universal deluge. The senate
would have asked him how many persons were in the ark to feed all the
animals for ten whole months, and during the following year in which no
food would be produced? The peddler would have said, "We were
eight--Noah and his wife, their three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japhet, and
their wives. All this family descended in a right line from Adam."

Cicero, would, doubtless, have inquired for the great monuments, the
indisputable testimonies which Noah and his children had left of our
common father. "After the deluge," he would have said, "the whole world
would have resounded with the names of Adam and Noah, one the father,
the other the restorer of every race. These names would have been in
every mouth as soon as men could speak, on every parchment as soon as
they could write, on the door of every house as soon as they could
build, on every temple, on every statue; and have you known so great a
secret, yet concealed it from us?" The Jew would have answered: "It is
because we are pure and you are impure." The Roman senate would have
laughed and the Jew would have been whipped; so much are men attached to
their prejudices!


The pious Madame de Bourignon was sure that Adam was an hermaphrodite,
like the first men of the divine Plato. God had revealed a great secret
to her; but as I have not had the same revelation, I shall say nothing
of the matter.

The Jewish rabbis have read Adam's books, and know the names of his
preceptor and his second wife; but as I have not read our first parent's
books, I shall remain silent. Some acute and very learned persons are
quite astonished when they read the _"Veidam"_ of the ancient Brahmins,
to find that the first man was created in India, and called _Adimo_,
which signifies _the begetter_, and his wife, Procriti, signifying
_life_. They say the sect of the Brahmins is incontestably more ancient
than that of the Jews; that it was not until a late period that the Jews
could write in the Canaanitish language, since it was not until late
that they established themselves in the little country of Canaan. They
say the Indians were always inventors, and the Jews always imitators;
the Indians always ingenious, and the Jews always rude. They say it is
difficult to believe that Adam, who was fair and had hair on his head,
was father to the negroes, who are entirely black, and have black wool.
What, indeed, do they _not_ say? As for me, I say nothing; I leave these
researches to the Reverend Father Berruyer of the Society of Jesus. He
is the most perfect _Innocent_ I have ever known; the book has been
burned, as that of a man who wished to turn the Bible into ridicule; but
I am quite sure he had no such wicked end in view.


The age for inquiring seriously whether or not knowledge was infused
into Adam had passed by; those who so long agitated the question had no
knowledge, either infused or acquired. It is as difficult to know at
what time the Book of Genesis, which speaks of Adam, was written, as it
is to know the date of the _"Veidam"_ of the "Sanskrit," or any other of
the ancient Asiatic books. It is important to remark that the Jews were
not permitted to read the first chapter of Genesis before they were
twenty-five years old. Many rabbis have regarded the formation of Adam
and Eve and their adventure as an allegory. Every celebrated nation of
antiquity has imagined some similar one; and, by a singular concurrence,
which marks the weakness of our nature, all have endeavored to explain
the origin of moral and physical evil by ideas nearly alike. The
Chaldæans, the Indians, the Persians and the Egyptians have accounted,
in similar ways, for that mixture of good and evil which seems to be a
necessary appendage to our globe. The Jews, who went out of Egypt, rude
as they were, had heard of the allegorical philosophy of the Egyptians.
With the little knowledge thus acquired, they afterwards mixed that
which they received from the Phœnicians and from the Babylonians
during their long slavery. But as it is natural and very common for a
rude nation to imitate rudely the conceptions of a polished people, it
is not surprising that the Jews imagined a woman formed from the side of
a man, the spirit of life breathed from the mouth of God on the face of
Adam--the Tigris, the Euphrates, the Nile and the Oxus, having all the
same source in a garden, and the forbidden fruit, which brought death
into the world, as well as physical and moral evil. Full of the idea
which prevailed among the ancients, that the serpent was a very cunning
animal, they had no great difficulty in endowing it with understanding
and speech.

This people, who then inhabited only a small corner of the earth, which
they believed to be long, narrow and flat, could easily believe that all
men came from Adam. They did not even know that the negroes, with a
conformation different from their own, inhabited immense regions; still
less could they have any idea of America.

It is, however, very strange that the Jewish people were permitted to
read the books of Exodus, where there are so many miracles that shock
reason, yet were not permitted to read before the age of twenty-five the
first chapter of Genesis, in which all is necessarily a miracle, since
the creation is the subject Perhaps it was because God, after creating
the man and woman in the first chapter, makes them again in another, and
it was thought expedient to keep this appearance of contradiction from
the eyes of youth. Perhaps it is because it is said that _God made man
in his own image_, and this expression gave the Jews too corporeal an
idea of God. Perhaps it was because it is said that God took a rib from
Adam's side to form the woman, and the young and inconsiderate, feeling
their sides, and finding the right number of ribs, might have suspected
the author of some infidelity. Perhaps it was because God, who always
took a walk at noon in the garden of Eden, laughed at Adam after his
fall, and this tone of ridicule might tend to give youth too great a
taste for pleasantry. In short, every line of this chapter furnishes
very plausible reasons for interdicting the reading of it; but such
being the case, one cannot clearly see how it was that the other
chapters were permitted. It is, besides, surprising that the Jews were
not to read this chapter until they were twenty-five. One would think
that it should first have been proposed to childhood, which receives
everything without examination, rather than to youth, whose pride is to
judge and to laugh. On the other hand, the Jews of twenty-five years of
age, having their judgments prepared and strengthened, might be more
fitted to receive this chapter than inexperienced minds. We shall say
nothing here of Adam's second wife, named Lillah, whom the ancient
rabbis have given him. It must be confessed that we know very few
anecdotes of our family.


Is it not a great fault in some modern languages that the same word that
is used in addressing the Supreme Being is also used in addressing a
mistress? We not infrequently go from hearing a sermon, in which the
preacher has talked of nothing but _adoring_ God in spirit and in truth,
to the opera, where nothing is to be heard but _the charming object of
my adoration, etc._

The Greeks and Romans, at least, did not fall into this extravagant
profanation. Horace does not say that he _adores_ Lalage; Tibullus does
not _adore_ Delia; nor is even the term _adoration_to be found in
Petronius. If anything can excuse this indecency, it is the frequent
mention which is made in our operas and songs of the gods of ancient
fable. Poets have said that their mistresses were more adorable than
these false divinities; for which no one could blame them. We have
insensibly become familiarized with this mode of expression, until at
last, without any perception of the folly, the God of the universe is
addressed in the same terms as an opera singer.

But to return to the important part of our subject: There is no
civilized nation which does not render public adoration to God. It is
true that neither in Asia nor in Africa is any person forced to the
mosque or temple of the place; each one goes of his own accord. This
custom of assembling should tend to unite the minds of men and render
them more gentle in society; yet have they been seen raging against each
other, even in the consecrated abode of peace. The temple of Jerusalem
was deluged with blood by zealots who murdered their brethren, and our
churches have more than once been defiled by carnage.

In the article on "China" it will be seen that the emperor is the chief
pontiff, and that the worship is august and simple. There are other
countries in which it is simple without any magnificence, as among the
reformers of Europe and in British America. In others wax tapers must be
lighted at noon, although in the primitive ages they were held in
abomination. A convent of nuns, if deprived of their tapers, would cry
out that the light of the faith was extinguished and the world would
shortly be at an end. The Church of England holds a middle course
between the pompous ceremonies of the Church of Rome and the plainness
of the Calvinists.

Throughout the East, songs, dances and torches formed part of the
ceremonies essential in all sacred feasts. No sacerdotal institution
existed among the Greeks without songs and dances. The Hebrews borrowed
this custom from their neighbors; for David _sang and danced before the

St. Matthew speaks of a canticle sung by Jesus Christ Himself and by His
apostles after their Passover. This canticle, which is not admitted into
the authorized books, is to be found in fragments in the 237th letter
of St. Augustine to Bishop Chretius; and, whatever disputes there may
have been about its authenticity, it is certain that singing was
employed in all religious ceremonies. Mahomet found this a settled mode
of worship among the Arabs; it is also established in India, but does
not appear to be in use among the lettered men of China. The ceremonies
of all places have some resemblance and some difference; but God is
worshipped throughout the earth. Woe, assuredly, unto those who do not
adore Him as we do! whether erring in their tenets or in their rites.
They sit in the shadow of death; but the greater their misfortune the
more are they to be pitied and supported.

It is indeed a great consolation for us that the Mahometans, the
Indians, the Chinese, the Tartars, all adore one only God; for so far
they are our kindred. Their fatal ignorance of our sacred mysteries can
only inspire us with tender compassion for our wandering brethren. Far
from us be all spirit of persecution which would only serve to render
them irreconcilable.

One only God being adored throughout the known world, shall those who
acknowledge Him as their Father never cease to present to Him the
revolting spectacle of His children detesting, anathematizing,
persecuting and massacring one another by way of argument?

It is hard to determine precisely what the Greeks and Romans understood
by _adoring_, or whether they adored fauns, sylvans, dryads and naiads
as they adored the twelve superior gods. It is not likely that Adrian's
minion, Antinous, was adored by the Egyptians of later times with the
same worship which they paid to Serapis; and it is sufficiently proved
that the ancient Egyptians did not adore onions and crocodiles as they
did Isis and Osiris. Ambiguity abounds everywhere and confounds
everything; we are obliged at every word to exclaim, _What do you mean?_
we must constantly repeat--_Define your terms._

Is it quite true that Simon, called the _Magician_, was adored among the
Romans? It is not more true that he was utterly unknown to them. St.
Justin in his "Apology," which was as little known at Rome as Simon,
tells us that this God had a statue erected on the Tiber, or rather near
the Tiber, between the two bridges, with this inscription: _Simoni deo
sancto._ St. Irenæus and Tertullian attest the same thing; but to whom
do they attest it? To people who had never seen Rome--to Africans, to
Allobroges, to Syrians, and to some of the inhabitants of Sichem. _They_
had certainly not seen this statue, the real inscription on which was
_Semo sanco deo fidio_, and not _Simoni deo sancto_. They should at
least have consulted Dionysius of Halicarnassus, who gives this
inscription in his fourth book. _Semo sanco_ was an old Sabine word,
signifying _half god and half man_; we find in Livy, _Bona Semoni sanco
censuerunt consecranda_. This god was one of the most ancient in Roman
worship, having been consecrated by Tarquin the Proud, and was
considered as the god of alliances and good faith. It was the custom to
sacrifice an ox to him, and to write any treaty made with a neighboring
people upon the skin. He had a temple near that of Quirinus; offerings
were sometimes presented to him under the name of _Semo the father_, and
sometimes under that of _Sancus fidius_, whence Ovid says in his

     _Quærebam nonas Sanco, Fidove referrem,_
     _An tibi, Semo pater._

Such was the Roman divinity which for so many ages was taken for _Simon
the Magician_. St. Cyril of Jerusalem had no doubts on the subject, and
St. Augustine in his first book of "Heresies" tells us that Simon the
Magician himself procured the erection of this statue, together with
that of his _Helena_, by order of the emperor and senate.

This strange fable, the falsehood of which might so easily have been
discovered, was constantly connected with another fable, which relates
that Simon and St. Peter both appeared before Nero and challenged each
other which of them should soonest bring to life the corpse of a near
relative of Nero's, and also raise himself highest in the air; that
Simon caused himself to be carried up by devils in a fiery chariot; that
St. Peter and St. Paul brought him down by their prayers; that he broke
his legs and in consequence died, and that Nero, being enraged, put
both St. Peter and St. Paul to death.

Abdias, Marcellinus and Hegisippus have each related this story, with a
little difference in the details. Arnobius, St. Cyril of Jerusalem,
Sulpicius Severus, Philaster, St. Epiphanius, Isidorus of Damietta,
Maximus of Turin, and several other authors successively gave currency
to this error, and it was generally adopted, until at length there was
found at Rome a statue of _Semo sancus deus fidius_, and the learned
Father Mabillon dug up an ancient monument with the inscription _Semoni
sanco deo fidio_.

It is nevertheless certain that there was a Simon, whom the Jews
believed to be a magician, as it is certain that there was an Apollonius
of Tyana. It is also true that this Simon, who was born in the little
country of Samaria, gathered together some vagabonds, whom he persuaded
that he was one sent by God; he baptized, indeed, as well as the
apostles, and raised altar against altar.

The Jews of Samaria, always hostile to those of Jerusalem, ventured to
oppose this Simon to Jesus Christ, acknowledged by the apostles and
disciples, all of whom were of the tribe of Benjamin or that of Judah.
He baptized like them, but to the baptism of water he added fire, saying
that he had been foretold by John the Baptist in these words: "He that
cometh after me is mightier than I; _he_ shall baptize you with the Holy
Ghost and with fire."

Simon lighted a lambent flame over the baptismal font with naphtha from
the Asphaltic Lake. His party was very strong, but it is very doubtful
whether his disciples adored him; St. Justin is the only one who
believes it.

Menander, like Simon, said he was sent by God to be the savior of men.
All the false Messiahs, Barcochebas especially, called themselves _sent
by God_; but not even Barcochebas demanded to be adored. Men are not
often erected into divinities while they live, unless, indeed, they be
Alexanders or Roman emperors, who expressly order their slaves so to do.
But this is not, strictly speaking, adoration; it is an extraordinary
homage, an anticipated apotheosis, a flattery as ridiculous as those
which are lavished on Octavius by Virgil and Horace.


We are not indebted for this expression to the Greeks; they called
adultery _moicheia_, from which came the Latin _mœchus_, which we
have not adopted. We owe it neither to the Syriac tongue nor to the
Hebrew, a jargon of the Syriac, in which adultery is called _niuph_. In
Latin _adulteratio_ signified _alteration_--_adulteration, one thing put
for another--a counterfeit, as false keys, false bargains, false
signatures_; thus he who took possession of another's bed was called

In a similar way, by antiphrasis, the name of _coccyx_, a cuckoo, was
given to the poor husband into whose nest a stranger intruded. Pliny,
the naturalist, says: _"Coccyx ova subdit in nidis alienis; ita
plerique alienas uxores faciunt matres"_--"the cuckoo deposits its eggs
in the nest of other birds; so the Romans not unfrequently made mothers
of the wives of their friends." The comparison is not over just.
_Coccyx_ signifying a cuckoo, we have made it _cuckold_. What a number
of things do we owe to the Romans! But as the sense of all words is
subject to change, the term applied to _cuckold_, which, according to
good grammar, should be the gallant, is appropriated to the _husband_.
Some of the learned assert that it is to the Greeks we owe the emblem of
the _horns_, and that they bestowed the appellation of _goat_ upon a
husband the disposition of whose wife resembled that of a female of the
same species. Indeed, they used the epithet _son of a goat_ in the same
way as the modern vulgar do an appellation which is much more literal.

These vile terms are no longer made use of in good company. Even the
word _adultery_ is never pronounced. We do not now say, _"Madame la
Duchesse_ lives in adultery with _Monsieur le Chevalier_--_Madame la
Marquise_ has a criminal intimacy with _Monsieur l'Abbé;"_ but we say,
_"Monsieur l'Abbé_ is this week the lover of _Madame la Marquise_." When
ladies talk of their adulteries to their female friends, they say, "I
confess I have some inclination for _him_." They used formerly to
confess that they felt some _esteem_, but since the time when a certain
citizen's wife accused herself to her confessor of having _esteem_ for
a counsellor, and the confessor inquired as to the number of proofs of
esteem afforded, ladies of quality have _esteemed_ no one and gone but
little to confession.

The women of Lacedæmon, we are told, knew neither confession nor
adultery. It is true that Menelaus had experienced the intractability of
Helen, but Lycurgus set all right by making the women common, when the
husbands were willing to lend them and the wives consented. Every one
might dispose of his own. In this case a husband had not to apprehend
that he should foster in his house the offspring of a stranger; all
children belonged to the republic, and not to any particular family, so
that no one was injured. Adultery is an evil only inasmuch as it is a
theft; but we do not steal that which is given to us. The Lacedæmonians,
therefore, had good reason for saying that adultery was impossible among
them. It is otherwise in our modern nations, where every law is founded
on the principle of _meum_ and _tuum_.

It is the greatest wrong, the greatest injury, to give a poor fellow
children which do not belong to him and lay upon him a burden which he
ought not to bear. Races of heroes have thus been utterly bastardized.
The wives of the Astolphos and the Jocondas, through a depraved
appetite, a momentary weakness, have become pregnant by some deformed
dwarf--some little page, devoid alike of heart and mind, and both the
bodies and souls of the offspring have borne testimony to the fact. In
some countries of Europe the heirs to the greatest names are little
insignificant apes, who have in their halls the portraits of their
pretended fathers, six feet high, handsome, well-made, and carrying a
broadsword which their successors of the present day would scarcely be
able to lift. Important offices are thus held by men who have no right
to them, and whose hearts, heads, and arms are unequal to the burden.

In some provinces of Europe the girls make love, without their
afterwards becoming less prudent wives. In France it is quite the
contrary; the girls are shut up in convents, where, hitherto, they have
received a most ridiculous education. Their mothers, in order to console
them, teach them to look for liberty in marriage. Scarcely have they
lived a year with their husbands when they become impatient to ascertain
the force of their attractions. A young wife neither sits, nor eats, nor
walks, nor goes to the play, but in company with women who have each
their regular intrigue. If she has not her lover like the rest, she is
to be _unpaired_; and ashamed of being so, she is afraid to show

The Orientals proceed quite in another way. Girls are brought to them
and warranted virgins on the words of a Circassian. They marry them and
shut them up as a measure of precaution, as we shut up our maids. No
jokes there upon ladies and their husbands! no songs!--nothing
resembling our quodlibets about horns and cuckoldom! We _pity_ the
great ladies of Turkey, Persia and India; but they are a thousand times
happier in their seraglios than our young women in their convents.

It sometimes happens among us that a dissatisfied husband, not choosing
to institute a criminal process against his wife for adultery, which
would subject him to the imputation of _barbarity_, contents himself
with obtaining a separation of person and property. And here we must
insert an abstract of a memorial, drawn up by a good man who finds
himself in this situation. These are his complaints; are they just or

_A memorial, written by a magistrate, about the year 1764._

A principal magistrate of a town in France is so unfortunate as to have
a wife who was debauched by a priest before her marriage, and has since
brought herself to public shame; he has, however, contented himself with
a private separation. This man, who is forty years old, healthy, and of
a pleasing figure, has need of woman's society. He is too scrupulous to
seek to seduce the wife of another; he even fears to contract an illicit
intimacy with a maid or a widow. In this state of sorrow and perplexity
he addresses the following complaints to the Church, of which he is a

"My wife is criminal, and I suffer the punishment. A woman is necessary
to the comfort of my life--nay, even to the preservation of my virtue;
yet she is refused me by the Church, which forbids me to marry an
honest woman. The civil law of the present day, which is, unhappily,
founded on the canon law, deprives me of the rights of humanity. The
Church compels me to seek either pleasures which it reprobates, or
shameful consolations which it condemns; it forces me to be criminal.

"If I look round among the nations of the earth, I see no religion
except the Roman Catholic which does not recognize divorce and second
marriage as a natural right. What inversion of order, then, has made it
a virtue in Catholics to suffer adultery and a duty to live without
wives when their wives have thus shamefully injured them? Why is a
cankered tie indissoluble, notwithstanding the great maxim adopted by
the code, _Quicquid ligatur dissolubile est_? A separation of person and
property is granted me, but not a divorce. The law takes from me my
wife, and leaves me the word _sacrament_! I no longer enjoy matrimony,
but still I am married! What contradiction! What slavery!

"Nor is it less strange that this law of the Church is directly contrary
to the words which it believes to have been pronounced by Jesus Christ:
Whosoever shall put away his wife, _except it be for fornication_, and
shall marry another, committeth adultery."

"I have no wish here to inquire whether the pontiffs of Rome have a
right to violate at pleasure the law of Him whom they regard as their
Master; whether when a kingdom wants an heir, it is allowable to
repudiate the woman who is incapable of giving one; nor whether a
turbulent wife, one attacked by lunacy, or one guilty of murder, should
not be divorced as well as an adulteress; I confine myself to what
concerns my own sad situation. God permits me to marry again, but the
bishop of Rome forbids me.

"Divorce was customary among Catholics under all the emperors, as well
as in all the disjointed members of the Roman Empire. Almost all those
kings of France who are called _of the first race_, repudiated their
wives and took fresh ones. At length came one Gregory IX., an enemy to
emperors and kings, who, by a decree, made the bonds of marriage
indissoluble; and his _decretal_ became the law of Europe. Hence, when a
king wished to repudiate an adulterous wife, according to the law of
Jesus Christ, he could not do so without seeking some ridiculous
pretext. St. Louis was obliged, in order to effect his unfortunate
divorce from Eleanora of Guienne, to allege a relationship which did not
exist; and Henry IV., to repudiate Margaret of Valois, brought forward a
still more unfounded pretence--a want of consent. Thus a lawful divorce
was to be obtained by falsehood.

"What! may a sovereign abdicate his crown, and shall he not without the
pope's permission abdicate his faithless wife? And is it possible that
men, enlightened in other things, have so long submitted to this absurd
and abject slavery?

"Let our priests and our monks abstain from women, if it must be so;
they have my consent. It is detrimental to the progress of population
and a misfortune for them; but they deserve that misfortune which they
have contrived for themselves. They are the victims of the popes, who in
them wish to possess slaves--soldiers without family or country, living
for _the Church_; but I, a magistrate, who serve the state the whole day
long, have occasion for a woman at night; and the Church has no right to
deprive me of a possession allowed me by the Deity. The apostles were
married, Joseph was married, and I wish to be married. If I, an
Alsatian, am dependent on a priest who lives at Rome and has the
barbarous power to deprive me of a wife, he may as well make me a eunuch
to sing _Miserere_ in his chapel."

_A Plea for Wives._

Equity requires that, after giving this memorial in favor of husbands,
we should also lay before the public the plea on behalf of wives,
presented to the junta of Portugal, by one Countess _D'Arcira_. It is in
substance as follows:

"The gospel has forbidden adultery to my husband as well as to me; we
shall be damned alike; nothing is more certain. Although he has been
guilty of fifty infidelities--though he has given my necklace to one of
my rivals, and my earrings to another, I have not called upon the judges
to order his head to be shaved, himself to be shut up with monks, and
his property to be given to me; yet I, for having but once imitated
him--for having done that with the handsomest young man in Lisbon, which
he is allowed to do every day with the homeliest and most stupid
creatures of the court and the city, must be placed on a stool to answer
the questions of a set of licentiates, every one of whom would be at my
feet were he alone with me in my closet; must have the finest hair in
the world cut from my head; be confined with nuns who have not common
sense; be deprived of my portion and marriage settlement, and see my
property given to my fool of a husband to assist him in seducing other
women and committing fresh adulteries. I ask if the thing is just? if it
is not evident that the cuckolds are the lawmakers?

"The answer to my complaint is that I am but too fortunate in not being
stoned at the city gate by the canons and the people, as was the custom
with the first nation of the earth--the cherished nation--the chosen
people--the only one which was right when all others were wrong.

"To these barbarians I reply that when the poor woman, taken in
adultery, was presented to her accusers by the Master of the Old and of
the New Law, he did not order her to be stoned; on the contrary, he
reproached their injustice, tracing on the sand with his finger the old
Hebrew proverb: 'Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.' All
then retired, the oldest being the first to depart, since the greater
their age the more adulteries they had committed.

"The doctors of the canon law tell me that this story of the woman taken
in adultery is related only in the Gospel of St. John, and that there it
is nothing more than an interpolation; that Leontius and Maldonat affirm
that it is to be found in but one ancient Greek copy; that not one of
the first twenty-three commentators has spoken of it; that neither
Origen nor St. Jerome, nor St. John Chrysostom, nor Theophylact, nor
Nonnus, knew anything of it; and that it is not in the Syriac Bible, nor
in the version of Ulphilas.

"Such are the arguments advanced by my husband's advocates, who would
not only shave my head, but stone me also. However, those who plead for
me say that Ammonius, a writer of the third century, acknowledges the
truth of this story, and that St. Jerome, while he rejects it in some
passages, adopts it in others; in short, that it is now authenticated.
Here I hold, and say to my husband: If you are without sin shave my
head, confine me, take my property; but if you have committed more sins
than I have, it is I who must shave you, have you confined and seize
your possessions. In both cases the justice is the same.'

"My husband replies that he is my superior and my head; that he is
taller than I by more than an inch; that he is as rough as a bear; and
that, consequently, I owe him everything and he owes me nothing. But I
ask if Queen Anne, of England, is not the _head_ of her husband? if the
Prince of Denmark, who is her high admiral, does not owe her an entire
obedience? and if she would not have him condemned by the House of Peers
should the little man prove unfaithful? It is clear that, if women have
not their husbands punished, it is when they are not the strongest."

_Conclusion of the Chapter on Adultery._

In order to obtain an equitable verdict in an action for adultery, the
jury should be composed of twelve men and twelve women, with an
hermaphrodite to give the casting vote in the event of necessity. But
singular cases may exist wherein raillery is inapplicable, and of which
it is not for us to judge. Such is the adventure related by St.
Augustine in his sermon on Christ's preaching on the Mount.

Septimius Acyndicus, proconsul of Syria, caused a Christian of Antioch
who was unable to pay the treasury a pound of gold (the amount to which
he was taxed), to be thrown into prison and threatened with death. A
wealthy man promised the unfortunate prisoner's wife to furnish her with
the pound if she would consent to his desires. The wife hastened to
inform her husband, who begged that she would save his life at the
expense of his rights, which he was willing to give up. She obeyed, but
the man who owed her the gold deceived her by giving her a sackful of
earth. The husband, being still unable to pay the tax, was about to be
led to the scaffold, but this infamous transaction having come to the
ears of the proconsul he paid the pound of gold from his own coffers and
gave to the Christian couple the estate from which the sackful of earth
had been taken.

It is certain that far from injuring her husband the wife, in this
instance, acted conformably to his will, not only obeying him, but also
saving his life. St. Augustine does not venture to decide on the guilt
or virtue of this action; he is afraid to condemn it.

It is, in my opinion, very singular that Bayle should pretend to be more
severe than St. Augustine. He boldly condemns the poor woman. This would
be inconceivable did we not know how much almost every writer has
suffered his pen to belie his heart--with what facility his own feelings
have been sacrificed to the fear of enraging some evil-disposed
pedant--in a word, how inconsistent he has been with himself.

_A Father's Reflection._

A word on the contradictory education which we bestow upon our
daughters. We inculcate an immoderate desire of pleasing; we dictate
when nature does enough without us, and add to her lessons every
refinement of art. When they are perfectly trained we punish them if
they put in practice the very arts which we have been so anxious to
teach! What should we think of a dancing master who, having taught a
pupil for ten years, would break his leg because he had found him
dancing with other people?

Might not this paragraph be added to the chapter of contradictions?


We shall not say anything of the affirmations so frequently made use of
by the learned. To affirm, to decide, is permissible only in geometry.
In everything else let us imitate the Doctor _Metaphrastes_ of
Molière--_it may be so; the thing is feasible; it is not impossible; we
shall see._ Let us adopt Rabelais' _perhaps_, Montaigne's _what know I?_
the Roman _non liquet_, or the _doubt_ of the Athenian academy: but only
in profane matters, be it understood, for in _sacred_ things, we are
well aware that doubting is not permitted.

The primitives, in England called _Quakers_, are allowed to give
testimony in a court of justice on their simple affirmation, without
taking an oath. The peers of the realm have the same privilege--the lay
peers affirming _on their honor_, and the bishops laying their hands _on
their hearts_. The Quakers obtained it in the reign of Charles II., and
are the only sect in Europe so honored.

The Lord Chancellor Cowper wished to compel the Quakers to swear like
other citizens. He who was then at their head said to him gravely:
"Friend Chancellor, thou oughtest to know that our Lord and Saviour
Jesus Christ hath forbidden us to affirm otherwise than by _yea_ or
_nay_, he hath expressly said: _I forbid thee to swear by heaven,
because it is the throne of God; by the earth, because it is his
footstool; by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the King of kings; or
by thy head, because thou canst not change the color of a single hair._
This, friend, is positive, and we will not disobey God to please thee
and thy parliament." "It is impossible to argue better," replied the
Chancellor; "but be it known to thee that Jupiter one day ordered all
beasts of burden to get shod: horses, mules, and even camels, instantly
obeyed, the asses alone resisted; they made so many representations, and
brayed so long that Jupiter, who was good-natured, at last said to them,
'Asses, I grant your prayer; you shall not be shod; but the first slip
you make you shall have a most sound cudgelling.'"

It must be granted that, hitherto, the Quakers have made no _slips_.


When a man puts away his mistress--his friend--the partner of his bed,
he must either make her condition tolerably comfortable or be regarded
among us as a man of bad heart.

We are told that Abraham was very rich in the desert of Gerar, although
he did not possess an inch of land. However, we know with the greatest
certainty that he defeated the armies of four great kings with three
hundred and eighteen shepherds.

He should, then, at least have given a small flock to his mistress Agar,
when he sent her away in the desert. I speak always according to worldly
notions, always reverencing those incomprehensible ways which are not
_our_ ways.

_I_ would have given my old companion Agar a few sheep, a few goats, a
few suits of clothes for herself and our son Ishmael, a good she-ass for
the mother and a pretty foal for the child, a camel to carry their
baggage, and at least two men to attend them and prevent them from being
devoured by wolves.

But when the _Father of the Faithful_ exposed his poor mistress and her
child in the desert he gave them only a loaf and a pitcher of water.
Some impious persons have asserted that Abraham was not a very tender
father--that he wished to make his bastard son die of hunger, and to cut
his legitimate son's throat! But again let it be remembered that these
ways were not _our_ ways.

It is said that poor Agar went away into the desert of Beer-sheba. There
was no desert of _Beer-sheba_; this name was not known until long after;
but this is a mere trifle; the foundation of the story is not the less
authentic. It is true that the posterity of Agar's son Ishmael took
ample revenge on the posterity of Sarah's son Isaac, in favor of whom
he had been cast out. The Saracens, descending in a right line from
Ishmael, made themselves masters of Jerusalem, which belonged by right
of conquest to the posterity of Isaac. I would have made the _Saracens_
descend from _Sarah_; the etymology would then have been neater.

It has been asserted that the word _Saracen_ comes from _sarac_, a
robber. I do not believe any people have ever called themselves
_robbers_; nearly all have been robbers, but it is not usual for them to
take the _title_. _Saracen_ descending from _Sarah_, appears to me to
sound better.


The emphatic _al_ places the alchemist as much above the ordinary
chemist as the gold which he obtains is superior to other metals.
Germany still swarms with people who seek the _philosopher's stone_, as
the _water_ of _immortality_ has been sought in China, and the _fountain
of youth_ in Europe. In France some have been known to ruin themselves
in this pursuit.

The number of those who have believed in transmutations is prodigious,
and the number of cheats has been in proportion to that of the
credulous. At Paris we have seen Signor Dammi, Marquis of Conventiglio,
obtain some hundred louis from several of the nobility that he might
make them gold to the amount of two or three crowns. The best trick that
has ever been performed in alchemy was that of a Rosicrucian, who, in
1620, went to Henry, Duke of Bouillon, of the house of Turenne,
Sovereign Prince of Sedan, and addressed him as follows:

"You have not a sovereignty proportioned to your great courage, but I
will make you richer than the emperor. I cannot remain for more than two
days in your states, having to go to Venice to hold the grand assembly
of the brethren; I only charge you to keep the secret. Send to the first
apothecary of your town for some litharge; throw into it one grain of
the red powder which I will give you, put the whole into a crucible and
in a quarter of an hour you will have gold."

The prince performed the operation, and repeated it three times, in
presence of the virtuoso. This man had previously bought up all the
litharge from the apothecaries of Sedan and got it resold after mixing
it with a few ounces of gold. The adept, on taking leave, made the Duke
of Bouillon a present of all his transmuting powder.

The prince, having made three ounces of gold with three grains, doubted
not that with three hundred thousand grains he should make three hundred
thousand ounces, and that he should in a week possess eighteen thousand,
seven hundred and fifty pounds of gold, besides what he should
afterwards make. It took at least three months to make this powder. The
philosopher was in haste to depart; he was without anything, having
given all to the prince, and wanted some ready money in order to hold
the states-general of hermetic philosophy. He was a man very moderate in
his desires, and asked only twenty thousand crowns for the expenses of
his journey. The duke, ashamed to give so small a sum, presented him
with forty thousand. When he had consumed all the litharge in Sedan he
made no more gold, nor ever more saw his philosopher or his forty
thousand crowns.

All pretended alchemic transmutations have been performed nearly in the
same manner. To change one natural production into another, for example,
iron into silver, is a rather difficult operation, since it requires two
things a little above our power--the _annihilation_ of the iron and
_creation_ of the silver.

We must not, however, reject all discoveries of secrets and all new
inventions. It is with them as with theatrical pieces, there may be one
good out of a thousand.




This book governs with despotic sway the whole of northern Africa, from
Mount Atlas to the desert of Barca, the whole of Egypt, the coasts of
the Ethiopian Sea to the extent of six hundred leagues, Syria, Asia
Minor, all the countries round the Black and the Caspian seas (excepting
the kingdom of Astrakhan), the whole empire of Hindostan, all Persia, a
great part of Tartary; and in Europe, Thrace, Macedonia, Bulgaria,
Servia, Bosnia, Greece, Epirus, and nearly all the islands as far as the
little strait of Otranto, which terminates these possessions.

In this prodigious extent of country there is not a single Mahometan who
has the happiness of reading our sacred books; and very few of our
literati are acquainted with the Koran, of which we always form a
ridiculous idea, notwithstanding the researches of our really learned

The first lines of this book are as follows: "Praise to God, the
sovereign of all worlds, to the God of mercy, the sovereign of the day
of justice? Thee we adore! to Thee only do we look for protection. Lead
us in the right way--in the way of those whom Thou hast loaded with Thy
graces, and not in the way of the objects of Thy wrath--of them who have
gone astray."

Such is the introduction. Then come three letters, _A_, _L_, _M_, which,
according to the learned Sale, are not understood, for each commentator
explains them in his own way; but the most common opinion is that they
signify _Ali_, _Latif_, _Magid_--God, Grace, Glory.

God himself then speaks to Mahomet in these words: "This book admitteth
not of doubt. It is for the direction of the just, who believe in the
depths of the faith, who observe the times of prayer, who distribute in
alms what it has pleased Me to give them, who believe in the revelation
which hath descended to thee, and was delivered to the prophets
before thee. Let the faithful have a firm assurance in the life to come;
let them be directed by their Lord; and they shall be happy.

[Illustration: Mahomet.]

"As for unbelievers, it mattereth not whether thou callest them or no:
they do not believe; the seal of unbelief is on their hearts and on
their ears; a terrible punishment awaiteth them. There are some who say,
'We believe in God and in the Last Day,' but in their hearts they are
unbelievers. They think to deceive the Eternal; they deceive themselves
without knowing it. Infirmity is in their hearts, and God himself
increaseth this infirmity," etc.

These words are said to have incomparably more energy in Arabic. Indeed,
the Koran still passes for the most elegant and most sublime book that
has been written in that language. We have imputed to the Koran a great
number of foolish things which it never contained. It was chiefly
against the Turks, who had become Mahometans, that our monks wrote so
many books, at a time when no other opposition was of much service
against the conquerors of Constantinople. Our authors, much more
numerous than the janissaries, had no great difficulty in ranging our
women on their side; they persuaded them that Mahomet looked upon them
merely as intelligent animals; that, by the laws of the Koran, they were
all slaves, having no property in this world, nor any share in the
paradise of the next. The falsehood of all this is evident; yet it has
all been firmly believed.

It was, however, only necessary in order to discover the deception to
have read the fourth _sura_ or chapter of the Koran, in which would have
been found the following laws, translated in the same manner by Du Ryer,
who resided for a long time at Constantinople; by Maracci, who never
went there; and by Sale, who lived twenty-five years among the Arabs:

_Mahomet's Regulations with Respect to Wives._


Never marry idolatrous women, unless they will become believers. A
Mussulman servant is better than an idolatrous woman, though of the
highest rank.


They who, having wives, wish to make a vow of chastity, shall wait four
months before they decide.

Wives shall conduct themselves towards their husbands as their husbands
conduct themselves towards them.


You may separate yourself from your wife twice; but if you divorce her a
third time, it must be forever; you must either keep her humanely or put
her away kindly. You are not permitted to keep anything from her that
you have given to her.


Good wives are obedient and attentive, even in the absence of their
husbands. If your wife is prudent be careful not to have any quarrel
with her; but if one should happen, let an arbiter be chosen from your
own family, and one from hers.


Take one wife, or two, or three, or four, but never more. But if you
doubt your ability to act equitably towards several, take only one. Give
them a suitable dowry, take care of them, and speak to them always like
a friend.


You are not permitted to inherit from your wife against her will; nor to
prevent her from marrying another after her divorce, in order to possess
yourself of her dower, unless she has been declared guilty of some

When you choose to separate yourself from your wife and take another,
you must not, though you have even given her a talent at your marriage,
take anything from her.


You are permitted to marry a slave, but it is better that you should not
do so.


A repudiated wife is obliged to suckle her child until it is two years
old, during which time the father is obliged to maintain them according
to his condition. If the infant is weaned at an earlier period, it must
be with the consent of both father and mother. If you are obliged to
entrust it to a strange nurse, you shall make her a reasonable

Here, then, is sufficient to reconcile the women to Mahomet, who has not
used them so hardly as he is said to have done. We do not pretend to
justify either his ignorance or his imposture; but we cannot condemn his
doctrine of _one only God_. These words of his 122d _sura_, "God is one,
eternal, neither begetting nor begotten; no one is like to Him;" these
words had more effect than even his sword in subjugating the East.

Still his Koran is a collection of ridiculous revelations and vague and
incoherent predictions, combined with laws that were very good for the
country in which he lived, and all which continue to be followed,
without having been changed or weakened, either by Mahometan
interpreters or by new decrees. The poets of Mecca were hostile to
Mahomet, but above all the doctors. These raised the magistracy against
him, and a warrant was issued for his apprehension as only duly accused
and convicted of having said that God must be adored, and not the stars.
This, it is known, was the source of his greatness. When it was seen
that he could not be put down, and that his writings were becoming
popular, it was given out in the city that he was not the author of
them, or that at least he was assisted in their composition by a learned
Jew, and sometimes by a learned Christian--supposing that there were at
that time learned Jews and learned Christians.

So, in our days, more than one prelate has been reproached with having
set monks to compose his sermons and funeral orations. There was one
Father Hercules (_Père Hercule_) who made sermons for a certain bishop,
and when people went to hear him preach, they used to say, "Let us go
and hear the _labors of Hercules_."

To this charge Mahomet gives an answer in his 16th chapter, occasioned
by a gross blunder he had made in the pulpit, about which a great deal
had been said. He gets out of the scrape thus: "When thou readest the
Koran, address thyself to God, that He may preserve thee from the
machinations of Satan. He has power only over those who have chosen Him
for their Master, and who give associates unto God.

"When I substitute one verse for another in the Koran (the reason for
which changes is known to God) some unbelievers cry out, _'Thou hast
forged those verses'_; but they know not how to distinguish truth from
falsehood. Say rather that the Holy Spirit brought those verses of truth
to me from God. Others say, still more malignantly, _There is a certain
man who labors with him in composing the Koran_. But how can this man,
to whom they attribute my works, have taught me, speaking as he does, a
foreign language, while the Koran is written in the purest Arabic?"

He who, it was pretended, assisted Mahomet, was a Jew named _Bensalen_
or _Bensalon_. It is not very likely that a Jew should have lent his
assistance to Mahomet in writing against the Jews; yet the thing is not
impossible. The monk who was said to have contributed to the Koran was
by some called _Bohaira_, by others _Sergius_. There is something
pleasant in this monk's having had both a Latin and an Arabic name. As
for the fine theological disputes which have arisen among the
Mussulmans, I have no concern with them; I leave them to the decision of
the mufti.

In "The Triumph of the Cross" (_"le Triomphe de la Croix"_) the Koran is
said to be Arian, Sabellian, Carpocratian, Cardonician, Manichæan,
Donatistic, Origenian, Macedonian, and Ebionitish. Mahomet, however, was
nothing of all this; he was rather a _Jansenist_, for the foundation of
his doctrine is the absolute degree of gratuitous predestination.


This Mahomet, son of Abdallah, was a bold and sublime charlatan. He says
in his tenth chapter, "Who but God can have composed the Koran? Mahomet,
you say, has forged this book. Well; try then to write one chapter
resembling it and call to your aid whomsoever you please." In the
seventeenth he exclaims, "Praise be to Him who in one night transported
His servant from the sacred temple of Mecca to that of Jerusalem!"

This was a very fine journey, but nothing like that which he took the
very same night from planet to planet. He pretended that it was five
hundred years' journey from one to another, and that he cleft the moon
in twain. His disciples who, after his death, collected, in a solemn
manner, the verses of this Koran, suppressed this celestial journey, for
they dreaded raillery and philosophy. After all, they had too much
delicacy; they might have trusted to the commentators, who would have
found no difficulty whatever in explaining the itinerary. Mahomet's
friends should have known by experience that the marvellous is the
reason of the multitude; the wise contradict in silence, which the
multitude prevent them from breaking. But while the itinerary of the
planets was suppressed, a few words were retained about the adventure of
the moon. One cannot be always on one's guard.

The Koran is a rhapsody, without connection, without order, and without
art. This tedious book is, nevertheless, said to be a very fine
production, at least by the Arabs, who assert that it is written with an
elegance and purity that no later work has equalled. It is a poem, or
sort of rhymed prose, consisting of three thousand verses. No poem ever
advanced the fortune of its author so much as the Koran. It was disputed
among the Mussulmans whether it was eternal or God had created it in
order to dictate it to Mahomet. The doctors decided that it was eternal,
and they were right; this eternity is a much finer opinion than the
other, for with the vulgar we must always adopt that which is the most

The monks who have attacked Mahomet, and said so many silly things
about him, have asserted that he could not write. But how can we imagine
that a man who had been a merchant, a poet, a legislator, and a
sovereign, did not know how to sign his name? If his book is bad for our
times and for us, it was very good for his contemporaries, and his
religion was still better. It must be acknowledged that he reclaimed
nearly the whole of Asia from idolatry. He taught the unity of God, and
forcibly declaimed against all those who gave him associates. He forbade
usury with foreigners, and commanded the giving of alms. With him prayer
was a thing of absolute necessity, and resignation to the eternal
decrees the _primum mobile_ of all. A religion so simple and so wise,
taught by one who was constantly victorious, could hardly fail to
subjugate a portion of the earth. Indeed the Mussulmans have made as
many proselytes by their creed as by their swords; they have converted
the Indians and the negroes to their religion; even the Turks, who
conquered them, submitted to Islamism.

Mahomet allowed many things to remain in his law which he had found
established among the Arabs--as circumcision, fasting, the pilgrimage to
Mecca, which was instituted four thousand years before his time;
ablutions, so necessary to health and cleanliness in a burning country,
where linen was unknown; and the idea of a last judgment, which the magi
had always inculcated, and which had reached the inhabitants of Arabia.
It is said that on his announcing that we should rise again quite
naked, his wife. _Aishca_, expressed her opinion that the thing would be
immodest and dangerous. "Do not be alarmed, my dear," said he, "no one
will then feel any inclination to _laugh_." According to the Koran, an
angel will weigh both men and women in a great balance; this idea, too,
is taken from the magi. He also stole from them their narrow bridge
which must be passed over after death; and their elysium, where the
Mussulmans elect will find baths, well-furnished apartments, good beds,
and houris with great black eyes. He does, it is true, say that all
these pleasures of the senses, so necessary to those that are to rise
again with senses, will be nothing in comparison with the pleasure of
contemplating the Supreme Being. He has the humility to confess that he
himself will not enter paradise through his own merits, but purely by
the _will_ of God. Through this same _pure Divine will_ he orders that a
fifth part of the spoil shall always be reserved for the prophet.

It is not true that he excludes women from paradise. It is hardly likely
that so able a man should have chosen to embroil himself with that half
of the human race by which the other half is led. Abulfeda relates that
an old lady one day importuned him to tell her what she must do to get
into paradise. "My good lady," said he, "paradise is not for old women."
The good woman began to weep, but the prophet consoled her by saying,
"There will be no old women because they will become young again." This
consolatory doctrine is confirmed in the fifty-fourth chapter of the

He forbade wine because some of his followers once went intoxicated to
prayers. He permitted a plurality of wives, conforming in this point to
the immemorial usage of the orientals.

In short, his civil laws are good; his doctrine is admirable in all
which it has in common with ours; but his means are shocking--villainy
and murder!

He is excused by some, on the first of these charges, because, say they,
the Arabs had a hundred and twenty-four thousand prophets before him,
and there could be no great harm in the appearance of one more; men, it
is added, require to be deceived. But how are we to justify a man who
says, _"Believe that I have conversed with the angel Gabriel, or pay me

How superior is _Confucius_--the first of mortals who have not been
favored with revelations! He employs neither falsehood nor the sword,
but only reason. The viceroy of a great province, he causes the laws to
be observed and morality to flourish; disgraced and poor, he teaches
them. He practises them alike in greatness and in humiliation; he
renders virtue amiable; and has for his disciples the most ancient and
wisest people on the earth.

In vain does Count de Boulainvilliers, who had some respect for Mahomet,
extol the Arabs. Notwithstanding all his boastings, they were a nation
of banditti. They robbed before Mahomet, when they adored the stars;
they robbed under Mahomet in the name of God. They had, say you, the
simplicity of the heroic ages; but what were these heroic ages?--times
when men cut one another's throats for a well or a cistern, as they now
do for a province?

The first Mussulmans were animated by Mahomet with the rage of
enthusiasm. Nothing is more terrible than a people who, having nothing
to lose, fight in the united spirit of rapine and of religion.

It is true there was not much art in their proceedings. The contract of
marriage between Mahomet and his first wife expresses that, while
_Cadisha_ loves him, and he in like manner loves _Cadisha_, it is
thought meet to join them. But is there the same simplicity in having
composed a genealogy which makes him descend in a right line from Adam,
as several Spanish and Scotch families have been made to descend?

The great prophet experienced the disgrace common to so many husbands,
after which no one should complain. The name of him who received the
favors of his second wife was _Assam_. The behavior of Mahomet, on this
occasion, was even more lofty than that of Cæsar, who put away his wife,
saying, "The wife of Cæsar ought not to be suspected." The prophet
_would not_ suspect his. He sent to heaven for a chapter of the Koran,
affirming that his wife was faithful. This chapter, like all the others,
had been written _from all eternity_.

He is admired for having raised himself from being a camel-driver to be
a pontiff, a legislator, and a monarch; for having subdued Arabia, which
had never before been subjugated; for having given the first shock to
the Roman Empire in the East, and to that of the Persians; and _I_
admire him still more for having kept peace in his house among his
wives. He changed the face of part of Europe, one half of Asia, and
nearly all Africa; nor was his religion unlikely, at one time, to
subjugate the whole earth. On how trivial a circumstance will
revolutions sometimes depend! A blow from a stone, a little harder than
that which he received in his first battle, might have changed the
destiny of the world!

His son-in-law Ali asserted that when the prophet was about to be
inhumed, he was found in a situation not very common to the dead. The
words of the Roman sovereign might be well applied in this case: _"Decet
imperatorem stantem mori."_

Never was the life of a man written more in detail than his; the most
minute particulars were regarded as sacred. We have the name and the
numbers of all that belonged to him--nine swords, three lances, three
bows, seven cuirasses, three bucklers, twelve wives, one white cock,
seven horses, two mules, and four camels, besides the mare _Borac_, on
which he went to heaven. But this last he had only borrowed; it was the
property of the angel Gabriel.

All his sayings have been preserved. One was that _the enjoyment of
women made him more fervent in prayer_. Besides all his other knowledge
he is said to have been a great _physician_; so that he wanted none of
the qualifications for deceiving mankind.


It is no longer allowable to speak of Alexander, except in order to say
something new of him, or to destroy the fables, historical, physical,
and moral, which have disfigured the history of the only great man to be
found among the conquerors of Asia.

After reflecting a little on the life of Alexander, who, amid the
intoxications of pleasure and conquest, built more towns than all the
other conquerors of Asia destroyed--after calling to mind that, young as
he was, he turned the commerce of the world into a new channel, it
appears very strange that Boileau should have spoken of him as a robber
and a madman. Alexander, having been elected at Corinth captain-general
of Greece, and commissioned as such to avenge the invasions of the
Persians, did no more than his duty in destroying their empire; and,
having always united the greatest magnanimity with the greatest
courage--having respected the wife and daughters of Darius when in his
power, he did not in any way deserve either to be confined as a madman
or hanged as a robber.

Rollin asserts that Alexander took the famous city of Tyre only to
oblige the Jews, who hated the Tyrians; it is, however, quite as likely
that Alexander had other reasons; for a naval commander would not leave
Tyre mistress of the sea, when he was going to attack Egypt. Alexander's
friendship and respect for Jerusalem were undoubtedly great; but it
should hardly be said that _the Jews set a rare example of fidelity--an
example worthy of the only people who, at that time, had the knowledge
of the true God, in refusing to furnish Alexander with provisions
because they had sworn fidelity to Darius_. It is well known that the
Jews took every opportunity of revolting against their sovereigns; for a
Jew was not to serve a profane king. If they imprudently refused
contributions to the conqueror, it was not with a view to prove
themselves the faithful slaves of Darius, since their law expressly
ordered them to hold all idolatrous nations in abhorrence; their books
are full of execrations pronounced against them, and of reiterated
attempts to throw off their yoke. If, therefore, they at first refused
the contributions, it was because their rivals, the Samaritans, had paid
them without hesitation, and they believed that Darius, though
vanquished, was still powerful enough to support Jerusalem against

It is wholly false that the Jews were then the only people who had the
knowledge of the true God, as Rollin tells us. The Samaritans worshipped
the same God, though in another temple; they had the same Pentateuch as
the Jews, and they had it in Tyrian characters, which the Jews had lost.
The schism between Samaria and Jerusalem was, on a small scale, what
the schism between the Greek and Latin churches is on a large one. The
hatred was equal on both sides, having the same foundation--religion.

Alexander, having possessed himself of Tyre by means of that famous
causeway which is still the admiration of all generals, went to punish
Jerusalem, which lay not far out of his way. The Jews, headed by their
high priest, came and humbled themselves before him, offering him
money--for angry conquerors are not to be appeased without money.
Alexander was appeased, and they remained subject to Alexander and to
his successors. Such is the true, as well as the only probable, history
of the affair.

Rollin repeats a story told about four hundred years after Alexander's
expedition, by that romancing, exaggerating historian, Flavius Josephus,
who may be pardoned for having taken every opportunity of setting off
his wretched country to the best advantage. Rollin repeats, after
Josephus, that Jaddus, the high-priest, having prostrated himself before
Alexander, the prince, seeing the name of Jehovah engraved on a plate of
gold attached to Jaddus' cap, and understanding Hebrew perfectly, fell
prostrate in his turn, and paid homage to Jaddus. This excess of
civility having astonished Parmenio, Alexander told him that he had
known Jaddus a long time; that he had appeared to him, in the same habit
and the same cap, ten years before, when he was meditating the conquest
of Asia (a conquest which he had not then even thought of); that this
same Jaddus had exhorted him to cross the Hellespont, assuring him that
God would march at the head of the Greeks, and that the God of the Jews
would give him the victory over the Persians. This old woman's tale
makes but a sorry figure in the history of such a man as Alexander.

An _ancient history_ well digested was an undertaking calculated to be
of great service to youth; it is to be wished that it had not been in
some degree marred by the adoption of some absurdities. The story of
Jaddus would be entitled to our respect--it would be beyond the reach of
animadversion--were even any shadow of it to be found in the sacred
writings; but as they do not make the slightest mention of it, we are
quite at liberty to see that it is ridiculous.

There can be no doubt that Alexander subdued that part of India which
lies on this side the Ganges and was tributary to the Persians. Mr.
Holwell, who lived for thirty years among the Brahmins of Benares and
the neighboring countries, and who learned not only their modern
language but also their ancient sacred tongue, assures us that their
annals attest the invasion by Alexander, whom they call _Mahadukoit
Kounha_--great robber, great murderer. These peaceful people could not
call him otherwise; indeed, it is hardly to be supposed that they gave
any other name to the kings of Persia. The same annals say that
Alexander entered by the province now called Candahar, and it is
probable that there were always some fortresses on that frontier.

Alexander afterwards descended the river Zombodipo, which the Greeks
called _Sind_. In the history of Alexander there is not a single Indian
name to be found. The Greeks never called an Asiatic town or province by
their own name. They dealt in the same manner with the Egyptians. They
would have thought it a dishonor to the Greek tongue had they introduced
into it a pronunciation which they thought barbarous; if, for instance,
they had not called the city of _Moph_ Memphis.

Mr. Holwell says that the Indians never knew either Porus or Taxiles;
indeed these are not Indian words. Nevertheless, if we may believe our
missionaries, there are still some Indian lords who pretend to have
descended from Porus. Perhaps the missionaries have flattered them with
this origin until they have adopted it. There is, at least, no country
in Europe in which servility has not invented and vanity received
genealogies yet more chimerical.

If Flavius Josephus has related a ridiculous fable about Alexander and a
Jewish pontiff, Plutarch, who wrote long after Josephus, in his turn
seems not to have been sparing in fables concerning this hero. He has
even outdone Quintus Curtius. Both assert that Alexander, when marching
towards India, wished to have himself adored, not only by the Persians
but also by the Greeks. The question is, what did Alexander, the
Persians, the Greeks, Quintus Curtius, and Plutarch understand by
_adoring_? We must never lose sight of the great rule--_Define your

If by _adoring_ he meant invoking a man as a divinity--offering to him
incense and sacrifices--raising to him altars and temples, it is clear
that Alexander required nothing of all this. If, being the conqueror and
master of the Persians, he chose that they should salute him after the
Persian manner, prostrating themselves on certain occasions, treating
him, in short, like what he was, a sovereign of Persia, there is nothing
in this but what is very reasonable and very common. The members of the
French parliament, in their _beds of justice_, address the king
kneeling; the third estate addresses the states-general kneeling, a cup
of wine is presented kneeling, to the king of England; several European
sovereigns are served kneeling at their consecration. The great mogul,
the emperor of China, and the emperor of Japan are always addressed
kneeling. The Chinese colaos of an inferior order bend the knee before
the colaos of a superior order. We _adore_ the pope, and kiss the toe of
his right foot. None of these ceremonies have ever been regarded as
adoration in the strict sense of the word, or as a worship like that due
to the Divinity.

Thus, all that has been said of the pretended adoration exacted by
Alexander is founded on ambiguity.

Octavius, surnamed _Augustus_, really caused himself to be _adored_ in
the strictest sense of the word. Temples and altars were raised to him.
There were _priests of Augustus_. Horace positively tells him:

     _"Jurandisque tuum par nomen ponimus aras."_

Here was truly a sacrilegious adoration; yet we are not told that it
excited discontent.

The contradictions in the character of Alexander would be more difficult
to reconcile did we not know that men, especially men called _heroes_,
are often very inconsistent with themselves, and that the life or death
of the best citizens, or the fate of a province, has more than once
depended on the good or bad digestion of a well or ill advised

But how are we to reconcile improbable facts related in a contradictory
manner? Some say that Callisthenes was crucified by order of Alexander
for not having acknowledged him to be the son of Jupiter. But the cross
was not a mode of execution among the Greeks. Others say that he died
long afterwards, of too great corpulency. Athenæus assures us that he
was carried, like a bird, in an iron cage until he was devoured by
vermin. Among all these different stories distinguish the true one if
you can. Some adventures are supposed by Quintus Curtius to have
happened in one town, and by Plutarch in another, the two places being
five hundred leagues apart. Alexander, armed and alone, leaped from the
top of a wall into a town he was besieging; according to Plutarch near
the mouth of the Indus. When he arrived on the Malabar coast, or near
the Ganges--no matter which, it is only nine hundred miles from the one
to the other--he gave orders to seize ten of the Indian philosophers,
called by the Greeks _gymnosophists_, who went about as naked as apes;
to those he proposed ridiculous questions, promising them very seriously
that he who gave the worst answers should be hanged the first, and the
rest in due order. This reminds us of Nebuchadonosor, who would
absolutely put his magi to death if they did not divine one of his
dreams which he had forgotten; and of the _Caliph_ of the "Thousand and
One Nights," who was to strangle his wife as soon as she had finished
her story. But it is Plutarch who relates this nonsense; therefore it
must be respected, for he was _a Greek_.

This latter story is entitled to the same credit as that of the
poisoning of Alexander by Aristotle; for Plutarch tells us that somebody
had heard one _Agnotemis_ say, that he had heard Antigonus say, that
Aristotle sent a bottle of water from Nonacris, a town in Arcadia, which
water was so extremely cold that they who drank it instantly died; that
Antipater sent this water in a horn; that it arrived at Babylon quite
fresh; that Alexander drank of it; and that, at the end of six days, he
died of a continued fever.

Plutarch has, it is true, some doubts respecting this anecdote. All that
we can be quite certain of is that Alexander, at the age of twenty-four,
had conquered Persia by three battles; that his genius was as great as
his valor; that he changed the face of Asia, Greece, and Egypt, and gave
a new direction to the commerce of the world; and that Boileau should
have been more sparing of his ridicule, since it is not very likely that
Boileau would have done more in as short a time.


More than twenty towns have borne the name of Alexandria, all built by
Alexander and his captains, who became so many kings. These towns are so
many monuments of glory, far superior to the statues which servility
afterwards erected to power; but the only one of them which attracted
the attention of the world by its greatness and its wealth was that
which became the capital of Egypt. This is now but a heap of ruins; for
it is well known that one half of the city has been rebuilt on another
site, near the sea. The lighthouse, formerly one of the wonders of the
world, has also ceased to exist.

The city was always flourishing under the Ptolemies and the Romans. It
did not decline under the Arabs, nor did the Mamelukes or the Turks, who
successively conquered it, together with the rest of Egypt, suffer it to
go to decay. It preserved some portion of its greatness until the
passage of the Cape of Good Hope opened a new route to the Indies, and
once more gave a new direction to the commerce of the world, which
Alexander had previously changed, and which had been changed several
times before Alexander.

The Alexandrians were remarkable, under all their successive
dominations, for industry united with levity; for love of novelty,
accompanied by a close application to commerce, and to all the arts that
make commerce flourish; and for a contentious and quarrelsome spirit,
joined to cowardice, superstition, and debauchery--all which never
changed. The city was peopled with Egyptians, Jews, and Turks, all of
whom, though poor at first, enriched themselves by traffic. Opulence
introduced the cultivation of the fine arts, with a taste for
literature, and consequently for disputation.

The Jews built a magnificent temple, and translated their books into
Greek, which had become the language of the country. So great were the
animosities among the native Egyptians, the Greeks, the Jews, and the
Christians, that they were continually accusing one another to the
governor, to the no small advantage of his revenue. There were even
frequent and bloody seditions, in one of which, in the reign of
Caligula, the Jews, who exaggerate everything, assert that religious and
commercial jealousy, united, cost them fifty thousand men, whom the
Alexandrians murdered.

Christianity, which the Origens, Clements, and others had established
and rendered admirable by their lives, degenerated into a mere spirit of
party. The Christians adopted the manners of the Egyptians; religion
yielded to the desire of gain; and all the inhabitants, divided in
everything else, were unanimous only in the love of money. This it was
which produced that famous letter from the Emperor Adrian to the Consul
Servianus, which Vopiscus gives us as follows:


_Adrianus Augustus Serviano Cos. Vo._

_Ægyptum, quam mihi laudabas, Serviane carissime, totam didici, levem,
pendulam, et ad omnia famæ monumenta volitantem. Illi qui Serapin colunt
Christiani sunt, et devoti sunt Serapi qui se_ CHRISTI _episcopus
dicunt. Nemo illic Archisynagogus Judæorum, nemo Semarites, nemo
Christianorum presbyter, non mathematicus, non aruspex, non aliptes.
Ipse ille Patriarcha, quum Ægyptum venerit, ab aliis Serapidem adorare,
ab aliis cogitur_ CHRISTUM. _Genus hominis seditiosissimum,
injuriosissimum. Civitas opulenta, dives, fecunda, in qua nemo vivat
otiosus. Alli vitrum constant, ab aliis charta conficitur; omnes certe
lymphiones cujuscunque artis et videntur et habentur, Podagrosi quod
agant habent, cœci quod faciant; ne chiragri quidem apud cos otiosi
vivunt. Unus illis deus est; hunc Christiani, hunc Judæi, hunc homnes
venerantur et gentes._

Which may be rendered thus:

"My dear Servian: I have seen that Egypt of which you have spoken so
highly; I know it thoroughly. It is a light, uncertain, fickle nation.
The worshippers of Serapis turn Christians, and they who are at the head
of the religion of Christ devote themselves to Serapis. There is no
chief of the rabbis, no Samaritan, no Christian priest who is not an
astrologer, a diviner, a pander. When the Greek patriarch comes into
Egypt, some press him to worship Serapis, others to adore Christ. They
are very seditious, very vain, and very quarrelsome. The city is
commercial, opulent, and populous. No one is idle. Some make glass;
others manufacture paper; they seem to be, and indeed are, of all
trades; not even the gout in their feet and hands can reduce them to
entire inactivity; even the blind work. Money is a god which the
Christians, Jews, and all men adore alike."

This letter of an emperor, whose discernment was as great as his valor,
sufficiently proves that the Christians, as well as others, had become
corrupted in this abode of luxury and controversy; but the manners of
the primitive Christians had not degenerated everywhere; and although
they had the misfortune to be for a long time divided into different
sects, which detested and accused one another, the most violent enemies
of Christianity were obliged to acknowledge that the purest and the
greatest souls were to be found among its proselytes. Such is the case
even at the present day in cities wherein the degree of folly and frenzy
exceeds that of ancient Alexandria.


The principal object of this dictionary is philosophy. It is not,
therefore, as geographers that we speak of Algiers, but for the purpose
of remarking that the first design of Louis XIV., when he took the
reigns of government, was to deliver Christian Europe from the continual
depredations of the Barbary corsairs. This project was an indication of
a great mind. He wished to pursue every road to glory. It is somewhat
astonishing that, with the spirit of order which he showed in his court,
in his finances, and in the conduct of state affairs, he had a sort of
relish for ancient chivalry, which led him to the performance of
generous and brilliant actions, even approaching the romantic. It is
certain that Louis inherited from his mother a deal of that Spanish
gallantry, at once noble and delicate, with much of that greatness of
soul--that passion for glory--that lofty pride, so conspicuous in old
romances. He talked of fighting the emperor Leopold, like a knight
seeking adventures. The erection of the pyramid at Rome, the assertion
of his right of precedence, and the idea of having a port near Algiers
to curb the pirates, were likewise of this class. To this latter attempt
he was moreover excited by Pope Alexander VII., and by Cardinal Mazarin
before his death. He had for some time debated with himself whether he
should go on this expedition in person, like Charles the Fifth; but he
had not vessels to execute so great an enterprise, whether in person or
by his generals. The attempt was therefore fruitless, and it could not
be otherwise.

It was, however, of service in exercising the French marine, and
prepared the world to expect some of those noble and heroic actions
which are out of the ordinary line of policy, such as the disinterested
aid lent to the Venetians besieged in Candia, and to the Germans pressed
by the Ottoman arms at St. Gothard.

The details of the African expedition are lost in the number of
successful or unsuccessful wars, waged justly or unjustly, with good or
bad policy. We shall merely give the following letter, which was written
some years ago on the subject of the Algerine piracies:

"It is to be lamented, sire, that the proposals of the order of Malta
were not acceded to, when they offered, on consideration of a moderate
subsidy from each Christian power, to free the seas from the pirates of
Algiers, Morocco, and Tunis. The knights of Malta would then have been
truly the defenders of Christianity. The actual force of the Algerines
is but two fifty-gun ships, five of about forty, and four of thirty
guns; the rest are not worth mentioning.

"It is shameful to see their little barks seizing our merchant vessels
every day throughout the Mediterranean. They even cruise as far as the
Canaries and the Azores.

"Their soldiery, composed of a variety of nations--ancient
Mauritanians, ancient Numidians, Arabs, Turks, and even negroes, set
sail, almost without provisions, in tight vessels carrying from eighteen
to twenty guns, and infest all our seas like vultures seeking their
prey. When they see a man of war, they fly; when they see a merchant
vessel they seize it. Our friends and our relatives, men and women, are
made slaves; and we must humbly supplicate the barbarians to deign to
receive our money for restoring to us their captives.

"Some Christian states have had the shameful prudence to treat with
them, and send them arms wherewith to attack others, bargaining with
them as _merchants_, while they negotiate as _warriors_.

"Nothing would be more easy than to put down these marauders; yet it is
not done. But how many other useful and easy things are entirely
neglected! The necessity of reducing these pirates is acknowledged in
every prince's cabinet; yet no one undertakes their reduction. When the
ministers of different courts accidently talk the matter over, they do
but illustrate the fable of _tying the bell round the cat's neck_.

"The order of the Redemption of Captives is the finest of all monastic
institutions, but it is a sad reproach to us. The kingdoms of Fez,
Algiers, and Tunis have no _marabous_ of the Redemption of Captives;
because, though they take many Christians from us, we take scarcely any
Mussulmans from them.

"Nevertheless, they are more attached to their religion than we are to
ours; for no Turk or Arab ever turns Christian, while they have hundreds
of renegadoes among them, who even serve in their expeditions. An
Italian named _Pelegini_, was, in 1712, captain-general of the Algerine
galleys. The miramolin, the bey, the dey, all have Christian females in
their seraglios, but there are only two Turkish girls who have found
lovers in Paris.

"The Algerine land force consists of twelve thousand regular soldiers
only; but all the rest of the men are trained to arms; and it is this
that renders the conquest of the country so difficult. The Vandals,
however, easily subdued it; yet we dare not attack it."


Jupiter, Neptune, and Mercury, travelling one day in Thrace, called on a
certain king named Hyreus, who entertained them very handsomely. After
eating a good dinner, they asked him if they could render him any
service. The good man, who was past the age at which it is usual for men
to have children, told them he should be very much obliged to them if
they would make him a boy. The three gods then urinated on the skin of a
new flayed ox; and from these sprang Orion, who became one of the
constellations known to the most remote antiquity. This constellation
was named Orion by the ancient Chaldæans; it is spoken of in the Book of
Job. It would be hard to discover a rational allegory in this pretty
story, unless we are to infer from it that nothing was impossible to the

There were in Greece two young rakes, who were told by the oracle to
beware of the _melampygos_ or _sable posteriors_. One day Hercules took
them and tied them by the feet to the end of his club, so that they hung
down his back with their heads downward, like a couple of rabbits,
having a full view of his person. "Ah!" said they; "the oracle is
accomplished; this is the _melampygos_." Hercules fell alaughing, and
let them go. Here again it would be rather difficult to divine the moral

Among the fathers of mythology there were some who had only imagination;
but the greater part of them possessed understandings of no mean order.
Not all our academies, not all our makers of devices, not even they who
compose the legends for the counters of the royal treasury, will ever
invent allegories more true, more pleasing, or more ingenious, than
those of the Nine Muses, of Venus, the Graces, the God of Love, and so
many others, which will be the delight and instruction of all ages.

The ancients, it must be confessed, almost always spoke in allegories.
The earlier fathers of the church, the greater part of whom were
Platonists, imitated this method of Plato's. They have, indeed, been
reproached with having carried this taste for allegories and allusions a
little too far.

St. Justin, in his "Apology," says that the sign of the cross is marked
in the limbs and features of man; that when he extends his arms there is
a perfect cross; and that his nose and eyes form a cross upon his face.

According to Origen's explanation of Leviticus, the _fat_ of the victims
signifies _the Church_, and the _tail_ is a symbol of _perseverance_.

St. Augustine, in his sermon on the difference and agreement of the two
genealogies of Christ, explains to his auditors why St. Matthew,
although he reckons forty-two generations, enumerates only forty-one. It
is, says he, because _Jechonias_ must be reckoned twice, Jechonias
having gone from Jerusalem to Babylon. This journey is to be considered
as the corner-stone; and if the corner-stone is the first of one side of
a building, it is also the first of the other side; consequently this
stone must be reckoned twice; and therefore Jechonias must be reckoned
twice. He adds that, in the forty-two generations, we must dwell on the
number _forty_, because that number signifies _life_. The number _ten_
denotes _blessedness_, and _ten_ multiplied by _four_, which represents
the four elements and the four seasons, produces _forty_.

In his fifty-third sermon, the dimensions of matter have astonishing
properties. Breadth _is the dilation of the heart_, length is
_long-suffering_, height is _hope_, and depth is _faith_. So that,
besides the allegory, we have four dimensions of matter instead of

It is clear and indubitable (says he in his sermon on the 6th psalm)
that the number _four_ denotes the human body, because of the four
elements, and the four qualities of _hot_, _cold_, _moist_, and _dry_;
and as _four_ relates to the body, so _three_ relates to the soul; for
we must love God with a triple love--with all our _hearts_ with all our
_souls_, and with all our _minds_. _Four_ also relates to the Old
Testament, and _three_ to the New. _Four_ and _three_ make up the number
of _seven_ days, and the _eight_ is the _day of judgment_.

One cannot but feel that there is in these allegories an affectation but
little compatible with true eloquence. The fathers, who sometimes made
use of these figures, wrote in times and countries in which nearly all
the arts were degenerating. Their learning and fine genius were warped
by the imperfections of the age in which they lived. St. Augustine is
not to be respected the less for having paid this tribute to the bad
taste of Africa and the fourth century.

The discourses of our modern preachers are not disfigured by similar
faults. Not that we dare prefer them to the fathers; but the present age
is to be preferred to the ages in which they wrote. Eloquence, which
became more and more corrupted, and was not revived until later times,
fell, after them, into still greater extravagances; and the languages of
all barbarous nations were alike ridiculous until the age of Louis XIV.
Look at all the old collections of sermons; they are far below the
dramatic pieces of the Passion, which used to be played at the Hôtel de
Bourgogne. But the spirit of allegory, which has never been lost, may be
traced throughout these barbarous discourses. The celebrated _Ménot_,
who lived in the reign of Francis I., did more honor, perhaps, than any
other to the allegorical style. "The worthy administrators of justice,"
said he, "are like a cat set to take care of a cheese, lest it should be
gnawed by the mice. One bite of the cat does more damage to the cheese
than twenty mice can do."

Here is another very curious passage: "The woodmen, in a forest, cut
large and small branches, and bind them in faggots; just so do our
ecclesiastics, with dispensations from Rome, heap together great and
small benefices. The cardinal's hat is garnished with bishoprics, the
bishoprics are garnished with abbeys and priories, and the whole is
garnished with devils. All these church possessions must pass through
the three links of the _Ave Maria_; for _benedicta tu_ stands for fat
abbeys of Benedictines, _in mulieribus_ for _monsieur_ and _madame_, and
_fructus ventris_ for banquets and gormandizers."

The sermons of Barlet and Maillard are all framed after this model, and
were delivered half in bad Latin, and half in bad French. The Italian
sermons were in the same taste; and the German were still worse. This
monstrous medley gave birth to the _macaroni_ style, the very climax of
barbarism. The species of oratory, worthy only of the Indians on the
banks of the Missouri, prevailed even so lately as the reign of Louis
XIII. The Jesuit Garasse, one of the most distinguished enemies of
common sense, never preached in any other style. He likened the
celebrated _Theophile_ to a calf, because Theophile's family name was
_Viaud_, something resembling _veau_ (a calf). "But," said he, "the
flesh of a calf is good to roast and to boil, whereas thine is good for
nothing but to _burn_."

All these allegories, used by our barbarians, fall infinitely short of
those employed by Homer, Virgil, and Ovid, which proves that if there be
still some Goths and Vandals who despise ancient fable they are not
altogether in the right.


It is of little moment to know whether we have the word _almanac_ from
the ancient Saxons, who could not write, or from the Arabs, who are
known to have been astronomers, and to have had some acquaintance with
the courses of the planets, while the western nations were still wrapped
in an ignorance as great as their barbarism. I shall here confine myself
to one short observation.

Let an Indian philosopher, who has embarked at Meliapour, come to
Bayonne. I shall suppose this philosopher to be a man of sense, which,
you will say, is rare among the learned of India; to be divested of all
scholastic prejudices--a thing that was rare everywhere not long
ago--and I shall suppose him to meet with a blockhead in our part of the
world--which is not quite so great a rarity.

Our blockhead, in order to make him conversant with our arts and
sciences, presents him with a Liège almanac, composed by _Matthew
Lansberg_, and the Lame Messenger (_Messager boiteux_) by _Anthony
Souci, astrologer and historian_, printed every year at Basle, and sold
to the number of 20,000 copies in eight days. There you behold the fine
figure of a man, surrounded by the signs of the Zodiac, with certain
indications most clearly demonstrating that the _scales_ preside over
the _posteriors_, the _ram_ over the _head_, the _fishes_ over the
_feet_, etc.

Each day of the moon informs you when you must take _Le Lièvre's_ balm
of life, or _Keiser's_ pills; when you must be bled, have your nails
cut, wean your children, plant, sow, go a journey, or put on a pair of
new shoes. The Indian, when he hears these lessons, will do well to say
to his guide that he will have none of his almanac.

So soon as our simpleton shall have shown the philosopher a few of our
ceremonies, which every wise man disapproves, but which are tolerated in
order to amuse the populace, through pure contempt for that populace,
the traveller, seeing these mummeries, followed by a tambourine dance,
will not fail to pity and take us for madmen, who are, nevertheless,
very amusing and not absolutely cruel. He will write home to the
president of the Grand College of Benares that we have not common sense;
but that if _His Paternity_ will send enlightened and discreet persons
among us, something may, _with the blessing of God_, be made of us.

It was precisely in this way that our first missionaries, especially St.
Francis Xavier, spoke of the people inhabiting the peninsula of India.
They even fell into still grosser mistakes respecting the customs of the
Indians, their sciences, their opinions, their manners, and their
worship. The accounts which they sent to Europe were extremely curious.
Every statue was a devil; every assembly a sabbath; every symbolical
figure a talisman; every Brahmin a sorcerer; and these are made the
subject of never-ending lamentations. They hope that _the harvest will
be abundant_; and add, by a rather incongruous metaphor, that _they will
labor effectually in the vineyard of the Lord_, in a country where wine
has always been unknown. Thus, or nearly thus, have every people judged,
not only of distant nations, but of their neighbors.

The Chinese are said to be the most ancient almanac-makers. The finest
of their emperor's privileges is that of sending his calendar to his
vassals and neighbors; their refusal of which would be considered as a
bravado, and war would forthwith be made upon them, as it used to be in
Europe on feudal lords who refused their homage.

If we have only _twelve_ constellations, the Chinese have
_twenty-eight_, the names of which have not the least affinity with
ours--a sufficient proof that they have taken nothing from the Chaldæan
Zodiac, that we have adopted. But though they have had a complete
system of astrology for more than four thousand years, they resemble
_Matthew Lansberg_ and _Anthony Souci_ in the fine predictions and
secrets of health with which they stuff their _Imperial Almanac_. They
divide the day into ten thousand minutes, and know, with the greatest
precision, what minute is favorable or otherwise. When the Emperor Kamhi
wished to employ the Jesuit missionaries in making the almanac, they are
said to have excused themselves, at first, on account of the extravagant
superstitions with which it must be filled. "I have much less faith than
you in the superstitions," replied the emperor; "only make me a good
calendar, and leave it for my learned men to fill up the book with their

The ingenious author of the "Plurality of Worlds" ridicules the Chinese,
because, says he, they see a thousand stars fall at once into the sea.
It is very likely that the Emperor Kamhi ridiculed this notion as well
as Fontenelle. Some Chinese almanac-maker had, it would seem, been
good-natured enough to speak of these meteors after the manner of the
people, and to take them for stars. Every country has its foolish
notions. All the nations of antiquity made the sun lie down in the sea,
where for a long time we sent the stars. We have believed that the
clouds touched the firmament, that the firmament was a hard substance,
and that it supported a reservoir of water. It has not long been known
in our towns that the Virgin-thread (_fil de la vierge_) so often found
in the country, is nothing more than the thread spun by a spider. Let us
not laugh at any people. Let us reflect that the Chinese had astrolabes
and spheres before we could read, and that if they have made no great
progress in astronomy, it is through that same respect for the ancients
which we have had for Aristotle.

It is consoling to know that the Roman people, _populus late rex_, were,
in this particular, far behind Matthew Lansberg, and the Lame Messenger,
and the astrologers of China, until the period when Julius Cæsar
reformed the Roman year, which we have received from him and still call
by his name--the _Julian Calendar_, although we have no _calends_, and
he was obliged to reform it himself.

The primitive Romans had, at first, a year of ten months, making three
hundred and four days; this was neither _solar_ nor _lunar_, nor
anything except barbarous. The Roman year was afterwards composed of
three hundred and fifty-five days--another mistake, which was corrected
so imperfectly that, in Cæsar's time, the summer festivals were held in
winter. The Roman generals always triumphed, but never knew _on what
day_ they triumphed.

Cæsar reformed everything; he seemed to rule both heaven and earth. I
know not through what complaisance for the Roman customs it was that he
began the year at a time when it does not begin--that is, eight days
after the winter solstice. All the nations composing the Roman Empire
submitted to this innovation; even the Egyptians, who had until then
given the law in all that related to almanacs, received it; but none of
these different nations altered anything in the distribution of their
feasts. The Jews, like the rest, celebrated their _new moons_; their
_phase_ or _pascha_, the fourteenth day of the moon of March, called
_the red-haired moon_, which day often fell in April; their _Pentecost_,
fifty days after the _pascha_; the _feast of horns_ or _trumpets_, the
first day of July; that of _tabernacles_ on the fifteenth of the same
month, and that of _the great sabbath_, seven days afterwards.

The first Christians followed the computations of the empire, and
reckoned by _calends_, _nones_, and _ides_, like their masters; they
likewise received the Bissextile, which we have still, although it was
found necessary to correct it in the fifteenth century, and it must some
day be corrected again; but they conformed to the Jewish methods in the
celebration of their great feasts. They fixed their _Easter_ for the
fourteenth day of the _red moon_, until the Council of Nice determined
that it should be the Sunday following. Those who celebrated it on the
fourteenth were declared heretics; and both were mistaken in their

The feasts of the Blessed Virgin were, as far as possible, substituted
for the new moons. The author of the "Roman Calendar" (_Le Calendrier
Romain_) says the reason of this is drawn from the verse of the
Canticle, _pulchra ut luna_, "fair as the moon"; but, by the same rule,
these feasts should be held on a Sunday, for in the same verse we find
_electa ut sol_, "chosen like the sun." The Christians also kept the
feast of Pentecost; it was fixed, like that of the Jews, precisely fifty
days after Easter. The same author asserts that _saint-days_ took the
place of the feasts of _tabernacles_. He adds that St. John's day was
fixed for the 24th of June, only because the days then begin to shorten,
and St. John had said, when speaking of Jesus Christ, "He must grow, and
I must become less"--_Oportet ilium crescere, me autem minui._ There is
something very singular in the ancient ceremony of lighting a great fire
on St. John's day, in the hottest period of the year. It has been said
to be a very old custom, originally designed to commemorate the ancient
burning of the world, which awaited a second conflagration. The same
writer assures us that the feast of the Assumption is kept on the 15th
of August because the sun is then in the sign of the Virgin. He also
certifies that St. Mathias' day is in the month of February, because he
was, as it were, _intercalated_ among the twelve apostles, as a day is
added to February every leap-year. There would, perhaps, be something in
these astronomical imaginings to make our Indian philosopher smile;
nevertheless, the author of them was mathematical master to the Dauphin,
son of Louis XIV., and moreover, an engineer and a very worthy officer.


It is universally acknowledged that the first Christians had neither
temples, nor altars, nor tapers, nor incense, nor holy water, nor any of
those rites which the prudence of pastors afterwards instituted, in
conformity with times and places, but more especially with the various
_wants of the faithful_.

We have ample testimony in Origen, Athenagoras, Theophilus, Justin, and
Tertullian, that the primitive Christians held temples and altars in
abomination; and that not merely because they could not in the beginning
obtain permission from the government to build temples, but because they
had a real aversion for everything that seemed to apply any affinity
with other religions. This abhorrence existed among them for two hundred
and fifty years, as is proved by the following passage of Minutius
Felix, who lived in the third century. Addressing the Romans, he says:

     _"Putatis autem nos occultare quod colimus, si delubra et aras non
     habemus. Quod enim simulacrum Deo fingam, quum, si recte existimes,
     sit Dei homo ipse simulacrum? quod templum ei exstruam, quum totus
     hic mundus, ejus opere fabricatus, eum capere non possit? et quum
     homo latius maneam, intra unam ædiculum vim tantæ majestatis
     includam? nonne melius in nostra dedicandus est mente, in nostro
     imo consecrandus est pectore?"_

"You think that we conceal what we adore, because we have neither
temples nor altars. But what shall we erect like to God, since man
himself is God's image? What temple shall we build for Him, when the
whole world, which is the work of His hands, cannot contain Him? How
shall we enclose the power of such majesty in one dwelling-place? Is it
not better to consecrate a temple to Him in our minds and in our

The Christians, then, had no temples until about the beginning of the
reign of Diocletian. The Church had then become very numerous; and it
was found necessary to introduce those decorations and rites which, at
an earlier period, would have been useless and even dangerous to a
slender flock, long despised, and considered as nothing more than a
small sect of dissenting Jews.

It is manifest that, while they were confounded with the Jews, they
could not obtain permission to erect temples. The Jews, who paid very
dear for their synagogues, would themselves have opposed it; for they
were mortal enemies to the Christians, and they were rich. We must not
say, with Toland, that the Christians, who at that time made a show of
despising temples and altars, were like the fox that said the grapes
were sour. This comparison appears as unjust as it is impious, since all
the primitive Christians in so many different countries, agreed in
maintaining that there was no need of raising temples or altars to the
true God.

Providence, acting by second causes, willed that they should erect a
splendid temple at Nicomedia, the residence of the Emperor Diocletian,
as soon as they had obtained that sovereign's protection. They built
others in other cities; but still they had a horror of tapers, lustral
water, pontifical habits, etc. All this pomp and circumstance was in
their eyes no other than a distinctive mark of paganism. These customs
were adopted under Constantine and his successors, and have frequently

Our good women of the present day, who every Sunday hear a Latin mass,
at which a little boy attends, imagine that this rite has been observed
from the earliest ages, that there never was any other, and that the
custom in other countries of assembling to offer up prayers to God in
common is diabolical and quite of recent origin. There is, undeniably,
something very respectable in a mass, since it has been authorized by
the Church; it is not at all an ancient usage, but is not the less
entitled to our veneration.

There is not, perhaps, a single ceremony of this day which was in use in
the time of the apostles. The Holy Spirit has always conformed himself
to the times. He inspired the first disciples in a mean apartment; He
now communicates His inspirations in St. Peter's at Rome, which cost
several millions--equally divine, however, in the wretched room, and in
the superb edifice of Julius II., Leo X., Paul III., and Sixtus V.


Bold and vigorous women have been often seen to fight like men. History
makes mention of such; for, without reckoning Semiramis, Tomyris, or
Penthesilea--who, perhaps, existed only in fable--it is certain that
there were many women in the armies of the first caliphs. In the tribe
of the Homerites, especially, it was a sort of law, dictated by love and
courage, that in battle wives should succor and avenge their husbands,
and mothers their children.

When the famous chief Derar was fighting in Syria against the generals
of the Emperor Heraclius, in the time of the caliph Abubeker, successor
to Mahomet, Peter, who commanded at Damascus, took thither several
women, whom he had captured, together with some booty, in one of his
excursions; among the prisoners was the sister of Derar. Alvakedi's
"Arabian History," translated by Ockley, says that she was a perfect
beauty, and that Peter became enamored of her, paid great attention to
her on the way, and indulged her and her fellow-prisoners with short
marches. They encamped in an extensive plain, under tents, guarded by
troops posted at a short distance. _Caulah_ (so this sister of Derar's
was named) proposed to one of her companions, called _Oserra_, that they
should endeavor to escape from captivity, and persuaded her rather to
die than be a victim to the lewd desires of the Christians. The same
Mahometan enthusiasm seized all the women; they armed themselves with
the iron-pointed staves that supported their tents, and with a sort of
dagger which they wore in their girdles; they then formed a circle, as
the cows do when they present their horns to attacking wolves. Peter
only laughed at first; he advanced toward the women, who gave him hard
blows with the staves; after hesitating for some time, he at length
resolved to use force; the sabres of his men were already drawn, when
Derar arrived, put the Greeks to flight, and delivered his sister and
the other captives.

Nothing can more strongly resemble those times called _heroic_, sung by
Homer. Here are the same single combats at the head of armies, the
combatants frequently holding a long conversation before they commence
fighting; and this, no doubt, justifies Homer.

Thomas, governor of Syria, Heraclius's son-in-law, made a sally from
Damascus, and attacked Sergiabil, having first prayed to Jesus Christ.
"Unjust aggressor," said he to Sergiabil, "thou canst not resist Jesus,
my God, who will fight for the champions of His religion." "Thou tellest
an impious lie," answered Sergiabil; "Jesus is not greater before God
than Adam. God raised Him from the dust; He gave life to Him as to
another man, and, after leaving Him for some time on earth, took Him up
into heaven." After some more verbal skirmishing the fight began. Thomas
discharged an arrow, which wounded young Aban, the son of Saib, by the
side of the valiant Sergiabil; Aban fell and expired; the news of his
death reached his young wife, to whom he had been united but a few days
before; she neither wept nor complained, but ran to the field of battle,
with a quiver at her back, and a couple of arrows in her hand; with the
first of these she killed the Christian standard-bearer, and the Arabs
seized the trophy, crying, _Allah achar!_ With the other she shot Thomas
in the eye, and he retired, bleeding, into the town.

Arabian history is full of similar examples, but they do not tell us
that these warlike women burned their right breast, that they might draw
the bow better, nor that they lived without men; on the contrary, they
exposed themselves in battle for their husbands or their lovers; from
which very circumstance we must conclude that, so far from reproaching
Ariosto and Tasso for having introduced so many enamored warriors into
their poems, we should praise them for having delineated real and
interesting manners.

When the crusading mania was at its height there were some Christian
women who shared the fatigues and dangers of their husbands. To such a
pitch, indeed, was this enthusiasm carried that the Genoese women
undertook a crusade of their own, and were on the point of setting out
for Palestine to form petticoat battalions; they had made a vow so to
do, but were absolved from it by a pope, who was a little wiser than

Margaret of Anjou, wife of the unfortunate Henry VI. of England,
evinced, in a juster war, a valor truly heroic; she fought in ten
battles to deliver her husband. History affords no authenticated example
of greater or more persevering courage in a woman. She had been
preceded by the celebrated Countess de Montfort, in Brittany. "This
princess," says d'Argentré, "was virtuous beyond the nature of her sex,
and valiant beyond all men; she mounted her horse, and managed him
better than any esquire; she fought hand to hand, or charged a troop of
armed men like the most valiant captain; she fought on sea and land with
equal bravery," etc. She went, sword in hand, through her states, which
were invaded by her competitor, Charles de Blois. She not only sustained
two assaults, armed cap-à-pie, in the breach of Hennebon, but she made a
sortie with five hundred men, attacked the enemy's camp, set fire to it,
and reduced it to ashes.

The exploits of Joan of Arc, better known as the _Maid of Orleans_, are
less astonishing than those of Margaret of Anjou and the Countess de
Montfort. These two princesses having been brought up in the luxury of
courts, and Joan of Arc in the rude exercises of country life, it was
more singular, as well as more noble, to quit a _palace_ for the field
than a _cottage_.

The heroine who defended Beauvais was, perhaps, superior to her who
raised the siege of Orleans, for she fought quite as well, and neither
boasted of being _a maid_, nor of being _inspired_. It was in 1472, when
the Burgundian army was besieging Beauvais, that Jeanne Hachette, at the
head of a number of women, sustained an assault for a considerable time,
wrested the standard from one of the enemy who was about to plant it on
the breach, threw the bearer into the trench, and gave time for the
king's troops to arrive and relieve the town. Her descendants have been
exempted from the _taille_ (poll tax)--a mean and shameful recompense!
The women and girls of Beauvais are more flattered by their walking
before the men in the procession on the anniversary day. Every public
mark of honor is an encouragement of merit; but the exemption from the
_taille_ is but a proof that the persons so exempted were subjected to
this servitude by the misfortune of their birth.

There is hardly any nation which does not boast of having produced such
heroines; the number of these, however, is not great; nature seems to
have designed women for other purposes. Women have been known but rarely
to exhibit themselves as soldiers. In short, every people have had their
female warriors; but the kingdom of the Amazons, on the banks of the
Thermodon, is, like most other ancient stories, nothing more than a
poetic fiction.


For want of defining terms, and especially for want of a clear
understanding, almost all laws, that should be as plain as arithmetic
and geometry, are as obscure as logogriphs. The melancholy proof of this
is that nearly all processes are founded on the sense of the laws,
always differently understood by the pleaders, the advocates, and the

The whole public law of Europe had its origin in equivocal expressions,
beginning with the Salique law. _She shall not inherit Salique land._
But what is _Salique land_? And shall not a girl inherit money, or a
necklace, left to her, which may be worth more than the land?

The citizens of Rome saluted Karl, son of the Austrasian Pepin le Bref,
by the name of _imperator_. Did they understand thereby: _We confer on
you all the prerogatives of Octavius, Tiberius, Caligula, and Claudius?
We give you all the country which they possessed?_ However, they could
not give it; for so far were they from being masters of it that they
were scarcely masters of their own city. There never was a more
equivocal expression; and such as it was then it still is.

Did Leo III., the bishop of Rome who is said to have saluted Charlemagne
emperor, comprehend the meaning of the words which he pronounced? The
Germans assert that he understood by them that Charles should be his
master. The Datary has asserted that he meant he should be master over

Have not things the most venerable, the most sacred, the most divine,
been obscured by the ambiguities of language? Ask two Christians of what
religion they are. Each will answer, _I am a Catholic_. You think they
are both of the same communion; yet one is of the Greek, the other of
the Latin church; and they are irreconcilable. If you seek to be further
informed, you will find that by the word _Catholic_ each of them
understands _universal_, in which case _universal_ signifies _a part_.

The soul of St. Francis is in _heaven_--is in _paradise_. One of these
words signifies _the air_; the other means _a garden_. The word _spirit_
is used alike to express _extract_, _thought_, _distilled liquor_,
_apparition_. Ambiguity has been so necessary a vice in all languages,
formed by what is called _chance_ and by custom, that the author of all
clearness and truth Himself condescended to speak after the manner of
His people; whence is it that _Elohim_ signifies in some places
_judges_, at other times _gods_, and at others _angels_. _"Tu es Petrus,
et super hunc petrum ædificabo ecclesiam meam,"_ would be equivocal in a
profane tongue, and on profane subject; but these words receive a divine
sense from the mouth which utters them, and the subject to which they
are applied.

"I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob; now God is
not the God of the dead, but of the living." In the ordinary sense these
words might signify: "I am the same God that was worshipped by Abraham,
Isaac and Jacob; as the earth, which bore Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,
likewise bears their descendants; the sun which shines to-day is the sun
that shone on Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the law of their children was
their law." This does not, however, signify that Abraham, Isaac, and
Jacob are still living. But when the Messiah speaks, there is no longer
any ambiguity; the sense is as clear as it is divine. It is evident
that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are not among the dead, but live in
glory, since this oracle is pronounced by the Messiah; but it was
necessary that He and no one else should utter it.

The discourses of the Jewish prophets might seem equivocal to men of
gross intellects, who could not perceive their meaning; but they were
not so to minds illumined by the light of faith.

All the oracles of antiquity were equivocal. It was foretold to
Crœsus that a powerful empire was to fall; but was it to be his own?
or that of Cyrus? It was also foretold to Pyrrhus that the Romans might
conquer him, and that he might conquer the Romans. It was impossible
that this oracle should lie.

When Septimius Severus, Pescennius Niger, and Clodius Albinus were
contending for the empire, the oracle of Delphos, being consulted
(notwithstanding the assertion of the Jesuit Baltus that oracles had
ceased), answered that _the brown was very good, the white good for
nothing, and the African tolerable_. It is plain that there are more
ways than one of explaining such an oracle.

When Aurelian consulted the god of Palmyra (still in spite of Baltus),
the god said that _the doves fear the falcon_. Whatever might happen,
the god would not be embarrassed; the _falcon_ would be the _conqueror_,
and _the doves_ the _conquered_.

Sovereigns, as well as gods, have sometimes made use of equivocation.
Some tyrant, whose name I forget, having sworn to one of his captives
that he would not kill him, ordered that he should have nothing to eat,
saying that he had promised not to put him to death, but he had not
promised to keep him alive.


Since framers of systems are continually conjecturing on the manner in
which America can have been peopled, we will be equally consistent in
saying that He who caused flies to exist in those regions caused men to
exist there also. However pleasant it may be to dispute, it cannot be
denied that the Supreme Being, who lives in all nature, has created,
about the forty-eighth degree, two-legged animals without feathers, the
color of whose skin is a mixture of white and carnation, with long
beards approaching to red; about the line, in Africa and its islands,
negroes without beards; and in the same latitude, other negroes with
beards, some of them having wool, and some hair, on their heads; and
among them other animals quite white, having neither hair nor wool, but
a kind of white silk. It does not very clearly appear what should have
prevented God from placing on another continent animals of the same
species, of a copper color, in the same latitude in which, in Africa and
Asia, they are found black; or even from making them without beards in
the very same latitude in which others possess them.

To what lengths are we carried by the rage for systems joined with the
tyranny of prejudice! We see these animals; it is agreed that God has
had the power to place them where they are; yet it is not agreed that he
_has_ so placed them. The same persons who readily admit that the
_beavers_ of Canada are of Canadian origin, assert that the _men_ must
have come there in boats, and that Mexico must have been peopled by some
of the descendants of _Magog_. As well might be said that if there be
men in the moon they must have been taken thither by Astolpho on his
hippogriff, when he went to fetch Roland's senses, which were corked up
in a bottle. If America had been discovered in his time, and there had
then been men in Europe _systematic_ enough to have advanced, with the
Jesuit Lafitau, that the Caribbees descended from the inhabitants of
Caria, and the Hurons from the Jews, he would have done well to have
brought back the bottle containing the wits of these reasoners, which he
would doubtless have found in the moon, along with those of Angelica's

The first thing done when an inhabited island is discovered in the
Indian Ocean, or in the South Seas, is to inquire whence came these
people? But as for the trees and the tortoises, _they_ are, without any
hesitation, pronounced to be indigenous; as if it was more difficult for
Nature to make men than to make tortoises. One thing, however, which
tends to countenance this system is that there is scarcely an island in
the Eastern or in the Western Ocean which does not contain jugglers,
quacks, knaves and fools. This, it is probable, gave rise to the opinion
that these animals are of the same race with ourselves.


It is pretended that _amplification_ is a fine figure of rhetoric;
perhaps, however, it would be more reasonable to call it a _defect_. In
saying all that we should say, we do not amplify; and if after saying
this we amplify, we say too much. To place a good or bad action in every
light is not to amplify; but to go farther than this is to exaggerate
and become wearisome.

Prizes were formerly given in colleges for _amplification_. This was
indeed teaching the art of being diffuse. It would, perhaps, have been
better to have given the fewest words, and thus teach the art of
speaking with greater force and energy. But while we avoid
_amplification_, let us beware of _dryness_.

I have heard professors teach that certain passages in "Virgil" are
amplifications, as, for instance, the following:

     _Nox erat, et placidum carpebant fessa soporem_
     _Corpora per terras, silvæque et saeva quierunt_
     _Æquora; quum medio volvuntur sidera lapsu;_
     _Quum tacet omnis ager, pecudes, pietaeque volucres;_
     _Quaeque lacus late liquidos, quaeque aspera dumis_
     _Rura tenant, somno positae sub node silenti_
     _Lenibant curas, et corda oblita laborum:_
     _At non infelix animi Phœnissa._

     'Twas dead of night, when weary bodies close
     Their eyes in balmy sleep and soft repose:
     The winds no longer whisper through the woods,
     Nor murmuring tides disturb the gentle floods;
     The stars in silent order moved around,
     And peace, with downy wings, was brooding on the ground.
     The flocks and herds, and parti-colored fowl,
     Which haunt the woods and swim the weedy pool.
     Stretched on the quiet earth securely lay,
     Forgetting the past labors of the day.
     All else of Nature's common gift partake;
     Unhappy Dido was alone awake.--DRYDEN.

If the long description of the reign of sleep throughout all nature did
not form an admirable contrast with the cruel inquietude of Dido, these
lines would be no other than a puerile amplification; it is the words
_At non infelix animi Phœnissa_--"Unhappy Dido," etc., which give
them their charm.

That beautiful ode of Sappho's which paints all the symptoms of love,
and which has been happily translated into every cultivated language,
would doubtless have been less touching had Sappho been speaking of any
other than herself; it might then have been considered as an

The description of the tempest in the first book of the "Æneid" is not
an amplification; it is a true picture of all that happens in a tempest;
there is no idea repeated, and _repetition_ is the vice of all which is
merely amplification.

The finest part on the stage in any language is that of _Phèdre_
(Phædra). Nearly all that she says would be tiresome amplification if
any other was speaking of Phædra's passion.

     _Athenes me montra mon superbe ennemie;_
     _Je le vis, je rougis, je plaîs, à sa vue;_
     _Un trouble s'éleva dans mon âme éperdue;_
     _Mes yeux ne voyaient plus, je ne pouvais parler,_
     _Je sentis tout mon corps et transir et brûler;_
     _Je reconnus Venus et ses traits redoubtables,_
     _D'un sang qu'elle poursuit tormens inévitables._

     _Yes;--Athens showed me my proud enemy;_
     _I saw him--blushed--turned pale;--_
     _A sudden trouble came upon my soul,--_
     _My eyes grew dim--my tongue refused its office,--_
     _I burned--and shivered;--through my trembling frame_
     _Venus in all her dreadful power I felt,_
     _Shooting through every vein a separate pang._

It is quite clear that since Athens showed her her proud enemy
Hippolytus, she _saw_ Hippolytus; if she blushed and turned pale, she
was doubtless _troubled_. It would have been a pleonasm, a redundancy,
if a stranger had been made to relate the loves of Phædra; but it is
Phædra, enamored and ashamed of her passion--her heart is
full--everything escapes her:

     _Ut vidi, lit perii, ut me malus abstulit error._
     _Je le vis, je rougis, je pâlis, à sa vue._

     I saw him--blushed--turned pale.--

What can be a better imitation of Virgil?

     _Mes yeux ne voyaient plus, je ne pouvais parler;_
     _Je sentis tout mon corps et transir et brûler;_

     My eyes grew dim--my tongue refused its office;
     I burned--and shivered;

What can be a finer imitation of Sappho?

These lines, though imitated, flow as from their first source; each word
moves and penetrates the feeling heart; this is not amplification; it is
the perfection of nature and of art.

The following is, in my opinion, an instance of amplification, in a
modern tragedy, which nevertheless has great beauties. Tydeus is at the
court of Argos; he is in love with a sister of Electra; he laments the
fall of his friend Orestes and of his father; he is divided betwixt his
passion for Electra and his desire of vengeance; while in this state of
care and perplexity he gives one of his followers a long description of
a tempest, in which he had been shipwrecked some time before.

     _Tu sais ce qu'en ces lieux nous venions entreprendre;_
     _Tu sais que Palamède, avant que de s'y rendre,_
     _Ne voulut point tenter son retour dans Argos,_
     _Qu'il n'eût interroge l'oracle de Délos._
     _A de si justes soins on souscrivit sans peine;_
     _Nous partîmes, comblés des bienfaits de Thyrrène;_
     _Tout nous favorisait; nous voyageâmes longtems_
     _Au gré de nos désirs, bien plus qu'au gré des vents;_
     _Mais, signalant bientôt toute son inconstance,_
     _Le mer en un moment se mutine et s'élance;_
     _L'air mugit, le jour fuit, une épaisse vapeur_
     _Couvre d'un voile affreux les vagues en fureur;_
     _La foudre, éclairante seule une nuit si profonde,_
     _À sillons redoublés ouvre le ciel et l'onde,_
     _Et comme un tourbillon, embrassant nos vaisseaux,_
     _Semble en sources de feu bouillonner sur les eaux;_
     _Les vagues quelquefois, nous portant sur leurs cimes,_
     _Nous font router après sous de vastes abîmes,_
     _Où les éclairs pressés, pénétrans avec nous,_
     _Dans des gouffres de feu semblaient nous plonger tous;_
     _Le pilote effrayé, que la flamme environne,_
     _Aux rochers qu'il fuyait lui-même s'abandonne;_
     _À travers les écueils notre vaisseau pousse,_
     _Se brise, et nage enfin sur les eaux dispersées._

     Thou knowest what purpose brought us to these shores;
     Thou knowest that Palamed would not attempt
     Again to set his foot within these walls
     Until he'd questioned Delos' oracle.
     To his just care we readily subscribed;
     We sailed, and favoring gales at first appeared
     To announce a prosperous voyage;
     Long time we held our course, and held it rather
     As our desires than as the winds impelled;
     But the inconstant ocean heaved at last
     Its treacherous bosom; howling blasts arose;
     The heavens were darkened; vapors black and dense
     Spread o'er the furious waves a frightful veil,
     Pierced only by the thunderbolts, which clove
     The waters and the firmament at once,
     And whirling round our ship, in horrid sport
     Chased one another o'er the boiling surge;
     Now rose we on some watery mountain's summit.
     Now with the lightning plunged into a gulf
     That seemed to swallow all. Our pilot, struck
     Powerless by terror, ceased to steer, and left us
     Abandoned to those rocks we dreaded most;
     Soon did our vessel dash upon their points,
     And swim in scattered fragments on the billows.

In this description we see the poet wishing to surprise his readers with
the relation of a shipwreck, rather than the man who seeks to avenge his
father and his friend--to kill the tyrant of Argos, but who is at the
same time divided between love and vengeance.

Several men of taste, and among others the author of "Telemachus," have
considered the relation of the death of Hippolytus, in Racine, as an
amplification; long recitals were the fashion at that time. The vanity
of actors make them wish to be listened to, and it was then the custom
to indulge them in this way. The archbishop of Cambray says that
Theramenes should not, after Hippolytus' catastrophe, have strength to
speak so long; that he gives too ample a description of the monster's
_threatening horns_, his _saffron scales, etc._; that he should say in
broken accents, _Hippolytus is dead--a monster has destroyed him--I
beheld it._

I shall not enter on a defence of the _threatening horns_, etc.; yet
this piece of criticism, which has been so often repeated, appears to me
to be unjust. You would have Theramenes say nothing more than
_Hippolytus is killed--I saw him die--all is over._ This is precisely
what he does say; _Hippolyte n'est plus!_ (Hippolytus is no more!) His
father exclaims aloud; and Theramenes, on recovering his senses, says;

     _J'ai vu des mortels périr le plus amiable,_

     I have seen the most amiable of mortals perish,

and adds this line, so necessary and so affecting yet so agonizing for

     _Et j'ose dire encore. Seigneur, le moins coupable._

     And, Sire, I may truly add, the most innocent.

The gradations are fully observed; each shade is accurately
distinguished. The wretched father asks what God--what sudden
thunder-stroke has deprived him of his son. He has not courage to
proceed; he is mute with grief; he awaits the dreadful recital, and the
audience awaits it also. Theramenes _must_ answer; he is asked for
particulars; he must give them.

Was it for him who had made Mentor and all the rest of his personages
discourse at such length, sometimes even tediously; was it for him to
shut the mouth of Theramenes? Who among the spectators would not listen
to him? Who would not enjoy the melancholy pleasure of hearing the
circumstance of Hippolytus' death? Who would have so much as three lines
struck out? This is no vain description of a storm unconnected with the
piece; no ill-written amplification; it is the purest diction, the most
affecting language; in short, it is Racine. Amplification, declamation,
and exaggeration were at all times the faults of the Greeks, excepting
Demosthenes and Aristotle.

There have been absurd pieces of poetry on which time has set the stamp
of almost universal approbation, because they were mixed with brilliant
flashes which threw a glare over their imperfections, or because the
poets who came afterward did nothing better. The rude beginnings of
every art acquire a greater celebrity than the art in perfection; he who
first played the fiddle was looked upon as a demi-god, while Rameau had
only enemies. In fine, men, generally going with the stream, seldom
judge for themselves, and purity of taste is almost as rare as talent.

At the present day, most of our sermons, funeral orations, set
discourses, and harangues in certain ceremonies, are tedious
amplifications--strings of commonplace expressions repeated again and
again a thousand times. These discourses are only supportable when
rarely heard. Why speak when you have nothing new to say? It is high
time to put a stop to this excessive waste of words, and therefore we
conclude our article.


The great cause of the ancients _versus_ the moderns is not yet disposed
of; it has been at issue ever since the silver age, which succeeded the
golden one. Men have always pretended that the _good old times_ were
much better than the present. Nestor, in the "Iliad," wishing to
insinuate himself, like a wise mediator, into the good opinion of
Achilles and Agamemnon, begins with saying: "I have lived with better
men than you; never have I seen, nor shall I ever see again, such great
personages as Dryas, Cæneus, Exadius, Polyphemus equal to the gods,"
etc. Posterity has made ample amends to Achilles for Nestor's bad
compliment, so vainly admired by those who admire nothing but what is
ancient. Who knows anything about _Dryas_? We have scarcely heard of
_Exadius_ or of _Cæneus_; and as for _Polyphemus equal to the gods_, he
has no very high reputation, unless, indeed, there was something divine
in his having a great eye in the middle of his forehead, and eating the
raw carcasses of mankind.

Lucretius does not hesitate to say that nature has degenerated:

     _Ipsa dedit dulces fœtus et pabula lœta,_
     _Quæ nunc vix nostro grandescunt aucta labore;_
     _Conterimusque boves, et vires agricolarum, etc._

Antiquity is full of the praises of another antiquity still more remote:

     _Les hommes, en tout tems, ont pensé qu'autrefois,_
     _De longs ruisseaux de lait serpentaient dans nos bois;_
     _La lune était plus grande, et la nuit moins obscure;_
     _L'hiver se couronnait de fleurs et de verdure;_
     _Se contemplait à l'aise, admirait son néant,_
     _Et, formé pour agir, se plaisait à rien faire, etc._

     Men have, in every age, believed that once
     Long streams of milk ran winding through the woods;
     The moon was larger and the night less dark;
     Winter was crowned with flowers and trod on verdure;
     Man, the world's king, had nothing else to do
     Than contemplate his utter worthlessness,
     And, formed for action, took delight in sloth, etc.

Horace combats this prejudice with equal force and address in his fine
epistle to Augustus. "Must our poems, then," says he, "be like our
wines, of which the oldest are always preferred?" He afterward says:

     _Indignor quidquam reprehendi, non quia crasse_
     _Compositum illepideve putetur, sed quia nuper;_
     _Nec veniam antiquis, sed honorem et præmia posci._
            *       *       *       *       *
     _Ingeniis non ille favet plauditque sepultis,_
     _Nostra sed impugnat, nos nostraque lividus odit._

     I feel my honest indignation rise,
     When, with affected air, a coxcomb cries:
     "The work, I own, has elegance and ease,
     But sure no modern should presume to please";
     Thus for his favorite ancients dares to claim,
     Not pardon only, but rewards and fame.
            *       *       *       *       *
     Not to the illustrious dead his homage pays,
     But envious robs the living of their praise.--FRANCIS.

On this subject the learned and ingenious Fontenelle expresses himself

"The whole of the question of pre-eminence between the ancients and
moderns, being once well understood, reduces itself to this: Were the
trees which formerly grew in the country larger than those of the
present day? If they were, Homer, Plato, and Demosthenes cannot be
equalled in these latter ages; but if our trees are as large as those of
former times, then can we equal Homer, Plato, and Demosthenes.

"But to clear up the paradox: If the ancients had stronger minds than
ourselves, it must have been that the brains of those times were better
disposed, were formed of firmer or more delicate fibres, or contained a
larger portion of animal spirits. But how should the brains of those
times have been better disposed? Had such been the case, the leaves
would likewise have been larger and more beautiful; for if nature was
then more youthful and vigorous, the trees, as well as the brains of
men, would have borne testimony to that youth and vigor."

With our illustrious academician's leave, this is by no means the state
of the question. It is not asked whether nature can at the present day
produce as great geniuses, and as good works, as those of Greek and
Latin antiquity, but whether we really have such. It is doubtless
possible that there are oaks in the forest of Chantilly as large as
those of Dodona; but supposing that the oaks of Dodona could talk, it is
quite clear that they had a great advantage over ours, which, it is
probable, will never talk.

La Motte, a man of wit and talent, who has merited applause in more than
one kind of writing, has, in an ode full of happy lines, taken the part
of the moderns. We give one of his stanzas:

     _Et pourquoi veut-on que j'encense_
     _Ces prétendus Dieux dont je sors?_
     _En moi la même intelligence_
     _Fait mouvoir les mêmes ressorts._
     _Croit-on la nature bizarre,_
     _Pour nous aujourd'hui plus avare_
     _Que pour les Grecs et les Romains?_
     _De nos aînés mere idolâtre,_
     _N'est-elle plus que la marâtre_
     _Dure et grossière des humains?_

     And pray, why must I bend the knee
     To these pretended Gods of ours?
     The same intelligence in me
     Gives vigor to the self-same powers.
     Think ye that nature is capricious,
     Or towards us more avaricious
     Than to our Greek and Roman sires--
     To them an idolizing mother,
     While in their children she would smother
     The sparks of intellectual fires?

He might be answered thus: _Esteem_ your ancestors, without _adoring_
them. You have intelligence and powers of invention, as Virgil and
Horace had; but perhaps it is not absolutely the same intelligence.
Perhaps their talents were superior to--yours; they exercised them, too,
in a language richer and more harmonious than our modern tongues, which
are a mixture of corrupted Latin, with the horrible jargon of the Celts.

Nature is not capricious; but it is possible that she had given the
Athenians a soil and sky better adapted than Westphalia and the Limousin
to the formation of geniuses of a certain order. It is also likely that,
the government of Athens, seconding the favorable climate, put ideas
into the head of Demosthenes which the air of Clamar and La Grenouillere
combined with the government of Cardinal de Richelieu, did _not_ put
into the heads of Omer Talon and Jerome Bignon.

Some one answered La Motte's lines by the following:

     _Cher la Motte, imite et revère_
     _Ces Dieux dont tu ne descends pas;_
     _Si tu crois qu'Horace est ton père,_
     _Il a fait des enfans ingrats._
     _La nature n'est point bizarre;_
     _Pour Danchet elle est fort avare,_
     _Mais Racine en fut bien traité;_
     _Tibulle était guide par elle,_
     _Mais pour notre ami La Chapelle,_
     _Hélas! qu'elle a peu de bonté!_

     Revere and imitate, La Motte,
     Those Gods from whom thou'rt _not_ descended;
     If thou by Horace _wert_ begot,
     His children's manners might be mended.
     Nature is not at all capricious;
     To Danchet she is avaricious,
     But she was liberal to Racine;
     She used Tibullus very well,
     Though to our good friend La Chapelle,
     Alas! she is extremely mean!

This dispute, then, resolves itself into a question of fact. Was
antiquity more fertile in great monuments of genius of every kind, down
to the time of Plutarch, than modern ages have been, from that of the
house of Medicis to that of Louis XIV., inclusively?

The Chinese, more than two hundred years before our Christian era, built
their great wall, which could not save them from invasion by the
Tartars. The Egyptians had, four thousand years before, burdened the
earth with their astonishing pyramids, the bases of which covered ninety
thousand square feet. No one doubts that, if it were thought advisable
to undertake such useless works at the present day, they might be
accomplished by lavishing plenty of money. The great wall of China is a
monument of fear; the pyramids of Egypt are monuments of vanity and
superstition; both testify the great patience of the two people, but no
superior genius. Neither the Chinese nor the Egyptians could have made
a single statue like those formed by our living sculptors.

Sir William Temple, who made a point of degrading the moderns, asserts
that they have nothing in architecture that can be compared to the
temples of Greece and Rome; but, Englishman as he was, he should have
admitted that St. Peter's at Rome is incomparably more beautiful than
the capitol.

There is something curious in the assurance with which he asserts that
there is nothing new in our astronomy, nor in our knowledge of the human
body, _except_, says he, _it be the circulation of the blood._ The love
of his opinion, founded on his extreme self-love, makes him forget the
discovery of Jupiter's satellites, of Saturn's five moons and ring, of
the sun's rotation on his axis, the calculation of the positions of
three thousand stars, the development by Kepler and Newton of the law by
which the heavenly bodies are governed, and the knowledge of a thousand
other things of which the ancients did not even suspect the possibility.
The discoveries in anatomy have been no less numerous. A new universe in
miniature, discovered by the microscope, went as nothing with Sir
William Temple; he closed his eyes to the wonders of his contemporaries,
and opened them only to admire ancient ignorance.

He even goes so far as to regret that we have nothing left of the magic
of the Indians, Chaldæans, and Egyptians. By this magic, he understands
a profound knowledge of nature, which enabled them to work miracles--of
which, however, he does not mention one, because the truth is that they
never worked any. "What," says he, "has become of the charms of that
music which so often enchanted men and beasts, fishes, birds, and
serpents, and even changed their nature?" This enemy to his own times
believed implicitly in the fable of "Orpheus," and, it should seem, had
never heard of the fine music of Italy, nor even of that of France,
which _do not_ charm serpents, it is true, but which _do_ charm the ears
of the connoisseur.

It is still more strange that, having all his life cultivated the
belles-lettres, he reasons no better on our good authors than on our
philosophers. He considers Rabelais a great man, and speaks of _"les
Amours des Gaules"_ ("The Loves of the Gauls"), as one of his best
works. He was, nevertheless, a learned man, a courtier, a man of
considerable wit, and an ambassador, who had made profound reflections
on all that he had seen; he possessed great knowledge; one prejudice
sufficed to render all this merit unavailing.

Boileau and Racine, when writing in favor of the ancients against
Perrault, showed more address than Sir William Temple. They knew better
than to touch on astronomy and physical science. Boikau seeks only to
vindicate Homer against Perrault, at the same time gliding adroitly over
the faults of the Greek poet, and the slumber with which Horace
reproaches him. He strove to turn Perrault, the enemy of Homer, into
ridicule. Wherever Perrault misunderstands a passage, or renders
inaccurately a passage which he understands, Boileau, seizing this
little advantage, falls upon him like a redoubtable enemy, and beats him
as an ignoramus--a dull writer. But it is not at all improbable that
Perrault, though often mistaken, was frequently right in his remarks on
the contradictions, the repetitions, the uniformity of the combats, the
long harangues in the midst of them, the indecent and inconsistent
conduct of the gods in the poem--in short, on all the errors into which
this great poet is asserted to have fallen. In a word, Boileau ridicules
Perrault much more than he justifies Homer.

Racine used the same artifice, for he was at least as malignant as
Boileau. Although he did not, like the latter, make his fortune by
satire, he enjoyed the pleasure of confounding his enemies on the
occasion of a small and very pardonable mistake into which they had
fallen respecting Euripides, and, at the same time, of feeling much
superior to Euripides himself. He rallies the same Perrault and his
partisans upon their critique on the Alceste of Euripides, because these
gentlemen had unfortunately been deceived by a faulty edition of
Euripides, and had taken some replies of Admetus for those of Alceste;
but Euripides does not the less appear in all countries to have done
very wrong in making Admetus use such extraordinary language to his
father, whom he violently reproaches for not having died for him:

"How!" replies the king, his father; "whom, pray, are you addressing so
haughtily? Some Lydian or Phrygian slave? Know you not that I am free,
and a Thessalian? (Fine language, truly, for a king and a father!) You
insult me as if I were the meanest of men. Where is the law which says
fathers must die for their children? Each for himself here below. I have
fulfilled all my obligations toward you. In what, then, do I wrong you?
Do I ask you to die for me? The light is dear to you; is it less so to
me? You accuse me of cowardice! Coward that you yourself are! You were
not ashamed to urge your wife to save you, by dying for you. After this,
does it become you to treat as cowards those who refuse to do for you
what you have not the courage to do yourself? Believe me, you ought
rather to be silent. You love life; others love it no less. Be assured
that if you continue to abuse me, you shall have reproaches, and not
false ones, in return."

He is here interrupted by the chorus, with: "Enough! Too much on both
sides! Old man, cease this ill language toward your son."

One would think that the chorus should rather give the son a severe
reprimand for speaking in so brutal a manner to his father.

All the rest of the scene is in the same style:

_Pheres (to his son)._--Thou speakest against thy father, without his
having injured thee.

_Admetus._--Oh! I am well aware that you wish to live as long as

_Pheres._--And art thou not carrying to the tomb her who died for thee?

_Admetus._--Ah! most infamous of men! 'Tis the proof of thy cowardice!

_Pheres._--At least, thou canst not say she died for me.

_Admetus._--Would to heaven that thou wert in a situation to need my

_Pheres._--Thou wouldst do better to think of marrying several wives,
who may die that thy life may be lengthened.

After this scene a domestic comes and talks to himself about the arrival
of Hercules.

"A stranger," says he, "opens the door of his own accord; places himself
without more ado at table; is angry because he is not served quick
enough; fills his cup every moment with wine, and drinks long draughts
of red and of white; constantly singing, or rather howling, bad songs,
without giving himself any concern about the king and his wife, for whom
we are mourning. He is, doubtless, some cunning rogue, some vagabond, or

It seems somewhat strange that Hercules should be taken for a _cunning
rogue_, and no less so that Hercules, the friend of Admetus, should be
unknown to the household. It is still more extraordinary that Hercules
should be ignorant of Alceste's death, at the very time when they were
carrying her to her tomb.

Tastes must not be disputed, but such scenes as these would, assuredly,
not be tolerated at one of our country fairs.

Brumoy, who has given us the _Théâtre des Grecs_ (Greek Theatre), but
has not translated Euripides with scrupulous fidelity, does all he can
to justify the scene of Admetus and his father: the argument he makes
use of is rather singular.

First, he says, that "there was nothing offensive to the Greeks in these
things which we regard as horrible and indecent, therefore it must be
admitted that they were not exactly what we take them to have been, in
short, ideas have changed." To this it may be answered that the ideas of
polished nations on the respect due from children to their fathers have
never changed. He adds, "Who can doubt that in different ages ideas have
changed relative to points of morality of still greater importance?" We
answer, that there are scarcely any points of greater importance.

"A Frenchman," continues he, "is insulted; the pretended good sense of
the French obliges him to run the risk of a duel, and to kill or be
killed, in order to recover his honor." We answer, that it is not the
pretended good sense of the French alone, but of all the nations of
Europe without exception. He proceeds:

"The world in general cannot be fully sensible how ridiculous this maxim
will appear two thousand years hence, nor how it would have been scoffed
at in the time of Euripides." This maxim is cruel and fatal, but it is
not _ridiculous_; nor would it have been in any way scoffed at in the
time of Euripides. There were many instances of duels among the
Asiatics. In the very commencement of the first book of the "Iliad," we
see Achilles half unsheathing his sword, and ready to fight Agamemnon,
had not Minerva taken him by the hair and made him desist.

Plutarch relates that Hephæstion and Craterus were fighting a duel, but
were separated by Alexander. Quintus Curtius tells us that two other of
Alexander's officers fought a duel in the presence of Alexander, one of
them armed at all points, the other, who was a wrestler, supplied only
with a staff, and that the latter overcame his adversary. Besides, what
has duelling to do with Admetus and his father Pheres, reproaching each
other by turns, with having too great a love for life, and with being

I shall give only this one instance of the blindness of translators and
commentators; for if Brumoy, the most impartial of all, has fallen into
such errors, what are we to expect from others? I would, however, ask
the Brumoys and the Daciers, if they find much _salt_in the language
which Euripides puts into the mouth of Polyphemus: "I fear not the
thunder of Jupiter; I know not that Jupiter is a prouder or a stronger
god than myself; I care very little about him. If he sends down rain, I
shut myself up in my cavern; there I eat a roasted calf or some wild
animal, after which I lie down all my length, drink off a great potful
of milk, and send forth a certain noise, which is as good as his

The schoolmen cannot have very fine noses if they are not disgusted with
the noise which Polyphemus makes when he has eaten heartily.

They say that the Athenian pit laughed at this pleasantry, and that the
Athenians never laughed at anything stupid. So the whole populace of
Athens had more wit than the court of Louis XIV., and the populace are
not the same everywhere!

Nevertheless, Euripides has beauties, and Sophocles still more; but they
have much greater defects. We may venture to say that the fine scenes of
Corneille and the affecting tragedies of Racine are as much superior to
the tragedies of Sophocles and Euripides, as these two Greeks were to
Thespis. Racine was quite sensible of his great superiority over
Euripides, but he praised the Greek poet for the sake of humbling

Molière, in his best pieces, is as superior to the pure but cold
Terence, and to the buffoon Aristophanes, as to the merry-andrew

Thus there are things in which the moderns are superior to the ancients;
and others, though very few, in which we are their inferiors. The whole
of the dispute reduces itself to this fact.

_Certain Comparisons between Celebrated Works._

Both taste and reason seem to require that we should, in an ancient as
well as in a modern, discriminate between the good and the bad that are
often to be found in contact with each other.

The warmest admiration must be excited by that line of Corneille's,
unequalled by any in Homer, in Sophocles, or in Euripides:

     _Que vouliez-vous qu'il fût contre trois?_--_Qu'il mourût._
     What could he do against three weapons?--Die.

And, with equal justice, the line that follows will be condemned.

The man of taste, while he admires the sublime picture, the striking
contrasts of character and strong coloring in the last scene of
Rodogyne, will perceive how many faults, how many improbabilities, have
prepared the way for this terrible situation--how much Rodogyne has
belied her character, and by what crooked ways it is necessary to pass
to this great and tragical catastrophe.

The same equitable judge will not fail to do justice to the fine and
artful contexture of Racine's tragedies, the only ones, perhaps, that
have been well wrought from the time of Æschylus down to the age of
Louis XIV. He will be touched by that continued elegance, that purity of
language, that truth of character, to be found in him only; by that
grandeur without bombast, that fidelity to nature which never wanders in
vain declamations, sophistical disputes, false and far-fetched images,
often expressed in solecisms or rhetorical pleadings, fitter for
provincial schools than for a tragedy. The same person will discover
weakness and uniformity in some of Racine's characters; and in others,
gallantry and sometimes even coquetry; he will find declarations of
love breathing more of the idyl and the elegy, than of a great dramatic
passion; and will complain that more than one well-written piece has
elegance to please, but not eloquence to move him. Just so will he judge
of the ancients; not by their names--not by the age in which they
lived--but by their works themselves.

Suppose Timanthes the painter were at this day to come and present to
us, by the side of the paintings in the _Palais Royal_, his picture in
four colors of the "Sacrifice of Iphigenia," telling us that men of
judgment in Greece had assured him that it was an admirable artifice to
veil the face of Agamemnon, lest his grief should appear to equal that
of Clytemnestra, and the tears of the father dishonor the majesty of the
monarch. He would find connoisseurs who would reply--it is a stroke of
ingenuity, but not of painting; a veil on the head of your principal
personage has a frightful effect; your art has failed you. Behold the
masterpiece of Rubens, who has succeeded in expressing in the
countenance of Mary of Medicis the pain attendant on childbirth--the
joy, the smile, the tenderness--not with four colors, but with every
tint of nature. If you wished that Agamemnon should partly conceal his
face, you should have made him hide a portion of it by placing his hands
over his eyes and forehead; and not with a veil, which is as
disagreeable to the eye, and as unpicturesque, as it is contrary to all
costume. You should then have shown some falling tears that the hero
would conceal, and have expressed in his muscles the convulsions of a
grief which he struggles to suppress; you should have painted in this
attitude majesty and despair. You are a Greek, and Rubens is a Belgian;
but the Belgian bears away the palm.

_On a Passage in Homer._

A Florentine, a man of letters, of clear understanding and cultivated
taste, was one day in Lord Chesterfield's library, together with an
Oxford professor and a Scotchman, who was boasting of the poem of
Fingal, composed, said he, in the Gaelic tongue, which is still partly
that of Lower Brittany. "Ah!" exclaimed he, "how fine is antiquity; the
poem of Fingal has passed from mouth to mouth for nearly two thousand
years, down to us, without any alteration. Such power has real beauty
over the minds of men!" He then read to the company the commencement of

"Cuthullin sat by Tara's wall; by the tree of the rustling sound. His
spear leaned against a rock. His shield lay on the grass by his side.
Amid his thoughts of mighty Carbar, a hero slain by the chief in war,
the scout of ocean comes, Moran, the son of Fithil!

"'Arise,' says the youth, 'Cuthullin, arise! I see the ships of the
north! many, chief of men, are the foe; many the heroes of the sea-born
Swaran!' 'Moran,' replied the blue-eyed chief, 'thou ever tremblest, son
of Fithil! thy fears have increased the foe. It is Fingal, king of
deserts, with aid to green Erin of streams.' 'I beheld their chief,'
says Moran, 'tall as a glittering rock. His spear is a blasted pine. His
shield the rising moon! He sat on the shore, like a cloud of mist on the
silent hill!'" etc.

"That," said the Oxford professor, "is the true style of Homer; but what
pleases me still more is that I find in it the sublime eloquence of the
Hebrews. I could fancy myself to be reading passages such as these from
those fine canticles:

"'Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in
pieces like a potter's vessel. Thou hast broken the teeth of the
ungodly. Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundation also of the
hills moved and were shaken because he was wroth. The Lord also
thundered in the heavens; and the Highest gave His voice hailstones and
coals of fire. In them hath He set a tabernacle for the sun. Which is as
a bridegroom coming out of his chamber.

"'Break their teeth in their mouth, O God; break the great teeth of the
young lions, O Lord. Let them pass away as waters that run continually;
when he bendeth his bow to shoot his arrows, let them be as cut in
pieces. As a snail which melteth, let every one of them pass away, like
the untimely birth of a woman, that they may not see the sun. Before
your pots can feel the thorns, he shall take them away as in a
whirlwind, both living, and in his wrath.

"'They return at evening; they make a noise like a dog. But Thou, O
Lord, shalt laugh at them; Thou shalt have all the heathen in derision.
Consume them in wrath; consume them that they may not be.

"'The hill of God is as the hill of Bashan, a high hill as the hill of
Bashan. Why leap ye, ye high hills? The Lord said I will bring again
from Bashan, I will bring up my people again from the depths of the sea;
that thy feet may be dipped in the blood of thine enemies, and the
tongue of thy dogs in the same.

"'Open thy mouth wide and I will fill it. O my God, make them like a
wheel; as the stubble before the wind. As the fire burneth the wood, and
as the flame setteth the mountains on fire; so persecute them with Thy
tempest and make them afraid with Thy storm.

"'He shall judge among the heathen; he shall fill the places with dead
bodies; He shall wound the heads over many countries. Happy shall he be
that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones,'" etc.

The Florentine, having listened with great attention to the verses of
the canticles recited by the doctor, as well as to the first lines of
Fingal bellowed forth by the Scotchman, confessed that he was not
greatly moved by all these Eastern figures, and that he liked the noble
simplicity of Virgil's style much better.

At these words the Scotchman turned pale with wrath, the Oxonian
shrugged his shoulders with pity, but Lord Chesterfield encouraged the
Florentine by a smile of approbation.

The Florentine, becoming warm and finding himself supported, said to
them: "Gentlemen, nothing is more easy than to do violence to nature;
nothing more difficult than to imitate her. I know something of those
whom we in Italy call _improvisatori_; and I could speak in this
oriental style for eight hours together without the least effort, for it
requires none to be bombastic in negligent verse, overloaded with
epithets almost continually repeated, to heap combat upon combat, and to
describe chimeras."

"What!" said the professor, "_you_ make an epic poem _impromptu_!" "Not
a rational epic poem in correct verse, like Virgil," replied the
Italian, "but a poem in which I would abandon myself to the current of
my ideas, and not take the trouble to arrange them."

"I defy you to do it," said the Scotchman and the Oxford graduate at
once. "Well," returned the Florentine, "give me a subject." Lord
Chesterfield gave him as a subject the Black Prince, the conqueror of
Poictiers, granting peace after the victory.

The Italian collected himself and thus began:

"Muse of Albion, genius that presidest over heroes, come sing with
me--not the idle rage of men implacable alike to friends and foes--not
the deeds of heroes whom the gods have favored in turn, without any
reason for so favoring them--not the siege of a town which is not
taken--not the extravagant exploits of the fabulous Fingal, but the real
victories of a hero modest as brave, who led kings captive and respected
his vanquished enemies.

"George, the Mars of England, had descended from on high on that
immortal charger before which the proudest coursers of Limousin flee as
the bleating sheep and the tender lambs crowd into the fold at the sight
of a terrible wolf issuing from the forest with fiery eyes, with hair
erect and foaming mouth, threatening the flock and the shepherd with the
fury of his murderous jaws.

"Martin, the famed protector of them who dwell in fruitful Touraine,
Genevieve, the mild divinity of them who drink the waters of the Seine
and the Marne, Denis, who bore his head under his arm in the sight of
man and of immortals, trembled as they saw George proudly traversing the
vast fields of air. On his head was a golden helmet, glittering with
diamonds that once paved the squares of the heavenly Jerusalem, when it
appeared to mortals during forty diurnal revolutions of the great
luminary and his inconstant sister, who with her mild radiance
enlightens the darkness of night.

"In his hand is the terrible and sacred lance with which, in the first
days of the world, the demi-god Michael, who executes the vengeance of
the Most High, overthrew the eternal enemy of the world and the
Creator. The most beautiful of the plumage of the angels that stand
about the throne, plucked from their immortal backs, waved over his
casque; and around it hovered Terror, destroying War, unpitying Revenge,
and Death, the terminator of man's calamities. He came like a comet in
its rapid course, darting through the orbits of the wondering planets,
and leaving far behind its rays, pale and terrible, announcing to weak
mortals the fall of kings and nations.

"He alighted on the banks of the Charente, and the sound of his immortal
arms was echoed from the spheres of Jupiter and Saturn. Two strides
brought him to the spot where the son of the magnanimous Edward waited
for the son of the intrepid de Valois," etc.

The Florentine continued in this strain for more than a quarter of an
hour. The words fell from his lips, as Homer says, more thickly and
abundantly than the snows descend in winter; but his words were not
cold; they were rather like the rapid sparks escaping from the furnace
when the Cyclops forge the bolts of Jove on resounding anvil.

His two antagonists were at last obliged to silence him, by
acknowledging that it was easier than they had thought it was, to string
together gigantic images, and call in the aid of heaven, earth and hell;
but they maintained that to unite the tender and moving with the sublime
was the perfection of the art.

"For example," said the Oxonian, "can anything be more moral, and at the
same time more voluptuous, than to see Jupiter reposing with his wife on
Mount Ida?"

His lordship then spoke: "Gentlemen," said he, "I ask your pardon for
meddling in the dispute. Perhaps to the Greeks there was something very
interesting in a god's lying with his wife upon a mountain; for my own
part, I see nothing in it refined or attractive. I will agree with you
that the handkerchief, which commentators and imitators have been
pleased to call _the girdle of Venus_, is a charming figure; but I never
understood that it was a soporific, nor how Juno could receive the
caresses of the master of the gods for the purpose of putting him to
sleep. A queer god, truly, to fall asleep so soon! I can swear that,
when I was young, I was not so drowsy. It may, for aught I know, be
noble, pleasing, interesting, witty, and decorous to make Juno say to
Jupiter, 'If you are determined to embrace me, let us go to your
apartment in heaven, which is the work of Vulcan, and the door of which
closes so well that none of the gods can enter."

"I am equally at a loss to understand how the god of sleep, whom Juno
prays to close the eyes of Jupiter, can be so brisk a divinity. He
arrives in a moment from the isles of Lemnos and Imbros; there is
something fine in coming from two islands at once. He then mounts a pine
and, is instantly among the Greek ships; he seeks Neptune, finds him,
conjures him to give the victory to the Greeks, and returns with a
rapid flight to Lemnos. I know of nothing so nimble as this god of

"In short, if in an epic poem there must be amorous matters, I own that
I incomparably prefer the assignations of Alcina with Rogero, and of
Armida with Rinaldo. Come, my dear Florentine, read me those two
admirable cantos of Ariosto and Tasso."

The Florentine readily obeyed, and his lordship was enchanted; during
which time the Scotchman reperused Fingal, the Oxford professor
reperused Homer; and every one was content. It was at last agreed that
happy is he who is sensible to the merits of the ancients and the
moderns, appreciates their beauties, knows their faults and pardons


If Suetonius could be confronted with the valets-de-chambre of the
twelve Cæsars, think you that they would in every instance corroborate
his testimony? And in case of dispute, who would not back the
valets-de-chambre against the historian?

In our own times, how many books are founded on nothing more than the
talk of the town?--just as the science of physics was founded on
chimeras which have been repeated from age to age to the present time.
Those who take the trouble of noting down at night what they have heard
in the day, should, like St. Augustine, write a book of retractions at
the end of the year.

Some one related to the _grand-audiencier_ l'Étoile that Henry IV.,
hunting near Créteil, went alone into an inn where some Parisian lawyers
were dining in an upper room. The king, without making himself known,
sent the hostess to ask them if they would admit him at their table or
sell him a part of their dinner. They sent him for answer that they had
private business to talk of and had but a short dinner; they therefore
begged that the stranger would excuse them.

Henry called his guards and had the guests outrageously beaten, to teach
them, says de l'Étoile, to show more courtesy to gentlemen. Some authors
of the present day, who have taken upon them to write the life of Henry
IV., copy this anecdote from de l'Étoile without examination, and, which
is worse, fail not to praise it as a fine action in Henry. The thing is,
however, neither true nor likely; and were it true, Henry would have
been guilty of an act at once the most ridiculous, the most cowardly,
the most tyrannical, and the most imprudent.

First, it is not likely that, in 1502, Henry IV., whose physiognomy was
so remarkable, and who showed himself to everybody with so much
affability, was unknown at Créteil near Paris. Secondly, de l'Étoile,
far from verifying his impertinent story, says he had it from a man who
had it from M. de Vitri; so that it is nothing more than an idle rumor.
Thirdly, it would have been cowardly and hateful to inflict a shameful
punishment on citizens assembled together on business, who certainly
committed no crime in refusing to share their dinner with a stranger
(and, it must be admitted, with an indiscreet one) who could easily find
something to eat in the same house. Fourthly, this action, so
tyrannical, so unworthy not only of a king but of a man, so liable to
punishment by the laws of every country, would have been as imprudent as
ridiculous and criminal; it would have drawn upon Henry IV. the
execrations of the whole commonalty of Paris, whose good opinion was
then of so much importance to him.

History, then, should not have been disfigured by so stupid a story, nor
should the character of Henry IV. have been dishonored by so impertinent
an anecdote.

In a book entitled _"Anecdotes Littéraires"_, printed by Durand in 1752,
_avec privilége_, there appears the following passage (vol. iii, page
183): "The Amours of Louis XIV., having been dramatized in England, that
prince wished to have those of King William performed in France. The
Abbé Brueys was directed by M. de Torcy to compose the piece; but though
applauded, it was never played, for the subject of it died in the

There are almost as many absurd lies as there are words in these few
lines. The Amours of Louis XIV. were never played on the London stage.
Louis XIV. never lowered himself so far as to order a farce to be
written on the amours of King William. King William never had a
mistress; no one accused him of weakness of that sort. The Marquis de
Torcy never spoke to the Abbé Brueys; he was incapable of making to the
abbé, or any one else, so indiscreet and childish a proposal. The Abbé
Brueys never wrote the piece in question. So much for the faith to be
placed in anecdotes.

The same book says that "Louis XIV. was so much pleased with the opera
of _Isis_ that he ordered a decree to be passed in council by which men
of rank were permitted to sing at the opera, and receive a salary for so
doing, without demeaning themselves. This decree was registered in the
Parliament of Paris."

No such declaration was ever registered in the Parliament of Paris. It
is true that Lulli obtained in 1672, long before the opera of _Isis_ was
performed, letters permitting him to establish his opera, in which
letters he got it inserted that "ladies and gentlemen might sing in this
theatre without degradation." But no declaration was ever registered.

Of all the _anas_, that which deserves to stand foremost in the ranks of
printed falsehood is the _Segraisiana_: It was compiled by the
amanuensis of Segrais, one of his domestics, and was printed long after
the master's death. The _Menagiana_, revised by La Monnoye, is the only
one that contains anything instructive. Nothing is more common than to
find in our new miscellanies old _bons mots_ attributed to our
contemporaries, or inscriptions and epigrams written on certain
princes, applied to others.

We are told in the _"Histoire Philosophique et Politique du Commerce
dans les deux Indes"_ (the Philosophical and Political History of the
Commerce of the two Indies), that the Dutch, having driven the
Portuguese from Malacca, the Dutch captain asked the Portuguese
commander when he should return; to which he replied: _"When your sins
are greater than ours."_ This answer had before been attributed to an
Englishman in the time of Charles VII. of France, and before them to a
Saracen emir in Sicily; after all, it is the answer rather of a Capuchin
than of a politician; it was not because the French were greater sinners
than the English that the latter deprived them of Canada.

The author of this same history relates, in a serious manner, a little
story invented by Steele, and inserted in the _Spectator_; and would
make it pass for one of the real causes of war between the English and
the savages. The tale which Steele opposes to the much pleasanter story
of the widow of Ephesus, is as follows and is designed to prove that men
are not more constant than women; but in Petronius the Ephesian matron
exhibits only an amusing and pardonable weakness; while the merchant
Inkle, in the _Spectator_, is guilty of the most frightful ingratitude:
"This young traveller Inkle is on the point of being taken by the
Caribbees on the continent of America, without it being said at what
place or on what occasion. Yarico, a pretty Caribbee, saves his life,
and at length flies with him to Barbadoes. As soon as they arrive, Inkle
goes and sells his benefactress in the slave market. 'Ungrateful and
barbarous man!' says Yarico, 'wilt thou sell me, when I am with child by
thee?' 'With child!' replied the English merchant, 'so much the better;
I shall get more for thee!'" And this is given us as a true story and as
the origin of a long war.

The speech of a woman of Boston to her judges, who condemned her to the
house of correction for the fifth time for having brought to bed a fifth
child, was a pleasantry of the illustrious Franklin; yet it is related
in the same work as an authentic occurrence. How many tales have
embellished and disfigured every history?

An author, who has thought more correctly than he has quoted, asserts
that the following epitaph was made for Cromwell:

     _Ci-gît le destructeur d'un pouvoir légitime,_
       _Jusqu' à son dernier jour favorisé des cieux,_
       _Dont les vertus méritaient mieux_
     _Que le sceptre acquis par un crime._

     _Par quel destin faut-il, par quel étrange loi_
       _Qu' à tous ceux qui sont nés pour porter la couronne_
       _Ce soil l'Usurpateur qui donne_
     _L'exemple des vertus que doit avoir un Roi?_

     Here lies the man who trod on rightful power,
     Favored by heaven to his latest hour;
     Whose virtues merited a nobler fate
     Than that of ruling criminally great.

     What wondrous destiny can so ordain,
     That among all whose fortune is to reign,
     The _usurper_ only to his sceptre brings
     The virtues vainly sought in _lawful kings_.

These verses were never made for Cromwell, but for King William. They
are not an epitaph, but were written under a portrait of that monarch.
Instead of _Ci-gît_ (Here lies) it was:

     _Tel fut le destructeur d'un pouvoir légitime._
     _Such was_ the man who trod on rightful power.

No one in France was ever so stupid as to say that Cromwell had ever set
an example of virtue. It is granted that he had valor and genius; but
the title of virtuous was not his due. A thousand stories--a thousand
_faceticæ_--have been travelling about the world for the last thirty
centuries. Our books are stuffed with maxims which come forth as new,
but are to be found in Plutarch, in Athenæus, in Seneca, in Plautus, in
all the ancients.

These are only mistakes, as innocent as they are common; but wilful
falsehoods--historical lies which attack the glory of princes and the
reputation of private individuals--are serious offences. Of all the
books that are swelled with false anecdotes, that in which the most
absurd and impudent lies are crowded together, is the pretended
_"Mémoires de Madame de Maintenon"_. The foundation of it was true: the
author had several of that lady's letters, which had been communicated
to him by a person of consequence at St. Cyr; but this small quantity of
truth is lost in a romance of seven volumes.

In this work the author shows us Louis XIV. supplanted by one of his
valets-de-chambre. It supposes letters from Mdlle. Mancini (afterwards
Madame Colonne) to Louis XIV., in one of which he makes this niece of
Cardinal Mazarin say to the king: "You obey a priest--you are unworthy
of me if you submit to serve another. I love you as I love the light of
heaven, but I love your glory still better." Most certainly the author
had not the original of this letter.

[Illustration: Louis at Mdlle de la Vallière's feet.]

"Mdlle. de la Vallière," he says, in another place, "had thrown herself
on a sofa in a light dishabille, her thoughts employed on her lover.
Often did the dawn of day find her still seated in a chair, her arm
resting on a table, her eye fixed, her soul constantly attached to the
same object, in the ecstasy of love. The king alone occupied her mind;
perhaps at that moment she was inwardly complaining of the vigilance of
the spies of Henriette, or the severity of the queen-mother. A slight
noise aroused her from her reverie--she shrunk back with surprise and
dread; Louis was at her feet--she would have fled--he stopped her; she
threatened--he pacified; she wept--he wiped away her tears." Such a
description would not now be tolerated in one of our most insipid

Du Haillan asserts, in one of his small works, that Charles VIII. was
not the son of Louis XI. This would account for Louis having neglected
his education and always keeping him at a distance. Charles VIII. did
not resemble Louis XI. either in body or in mind; but dissimilarity
between fathers and their children is still less a proof of illegitimacy
than resemblance is a proof of the contrary. That Louis XI. hated
Charles VIII. brings us to no conclusion; so bad a son might well be a
bad father. Though ten Du Haillans should tell me that Charles VIII.
sprung from some other than Louis XI., I should not believe him
implicitly. I think a prudent reader should pronounce as the judges
do--_Pater est is quern nuptiæ demonstrant._

Did Charles V. intrigue with his sister Margaret, who governed the Low
Countries? Was it by her that he had Don John of Austria, the intrepid
brother of the prudent Philip II.? We have no more proof of this than we
have of the secrets of Charlemagne's bed, who is said to have made free
with all his daughters. If the Holy Scriptures did not assure me that
Lot's daughters had children by their own father, and Tamar by her
father-in-law, I should hesitate to accuse them of it; one cannot be too

It has been written that the Duchess de Montpensier bestowed her favors
on the monk Jacques Clement, in order to encourage him to assassinate
his sovereign. It would have been more politic to have _promised_ them
than to have _given_ them. But a fanatical or parricide priest is not
incited in this way; _heaven_ is held out to him, and not a woman. His
Prior Bourgoing had much greater power in determining him to any act
than the greatest beauty upon earth. When he killed the king he had in
his pocket no love-letters, but the stories of Judith and Ehud, quite
dog-eared and worn out with thumbing.

Jean Châtel and Ravaillac had no accomplices; their crime was that of
the age; their only accomplice was the cry of _religion_. It has been
repeatedly asserted that Ravaillac had taken a journey to Naples and
that the Jesuit Alagona had, in Naples, predicted the death of the king.
The Jesuits never were prophets; had they been so, they would have
foretold their own destination; but, on the contrary, they, poor men,
always positively declared that they should endure to the end of time.
We should never be too sure of anything.

It is in vain that the Jesuit Daniel tells me, in his very dry and very
defective "History of France," that Henry IV. was a Catholic long before
his abjuration. I will rather believe Henry IV. himself than the Jesuit
Daniel. His letter to _La Belle Gabrielle: "C'est demain que je fais le
saut périlleux"_ (To-morrow I take the fatal leap) proves, at least,
that something different from Catholicism was still in his heart. Had
his great soul been long penetrated by the efficacy of grace, he would
perhaps have said to his mistress: "These bishops _edify_ me;" but he
says: _"Ces gens-là m'ennuient."_ (These people _weary_ me.) Are these
the words of a great catechumen?

This great man's letters to Corisande d'Andouin, Countess of Grammont,
are not a matter of doubt; they still exist in the originals. The author
of the _"Essai sur les Mœurs et l'Esprit des Nations"_ (Essay on the
Manners and Spirit of Nations) gives several of these interesting
letters, in which there are the following curious passages: _"Tous ces
empoisonneurs sont tous Papistes. J'ai découvert un tueur pour moi. Les
prêcheurs Romains prêchent tout-haut qu'il n'y a plus qu'une mort à
voir; ils admonestent tout bon Catholique de prendre exemple.--Et vous
êtes de cette religion! Si je n'étais Huguenot, je me ferais Turc."_
[These poisoners are all Papists. I have discovered an executioner for
myself. The Roman preachers exclaim aloud that there is only one more
death to be looked for; they admonish all good Catholics to profit by
the example (of the poisoning of the prince of Condé).--And you are of
this religion! If I were not a Huguenot, I would turn Turk.] It is
difficult, after seeing these testimonials in Henry IV.'s own hand, to
become firmly persuaded that he was a Catholic in his heart.

Another modern historian accuses the duke of Lerma of the murder of
Henry IV. "This," says he, "is the best established opinion." This
opinion is evidently the worst established. It has never been heard of
in Spain; and in France, the continuator of de Thou is the only one who
has given any credit to these vague and ridiculous suspicions. If the
duke of Lerma, prime minister, employed Ravaillac, he paid him very ill;
for when the unfortunate man was seized, he was almost without money. If
the duke of Lerma either prompted him or caused him to be prompted to
the commission of the act, by the promise of a reward proportioned to
the attempt, Ravaillac would assuredly have named both him and his
emissaries, if only to revenge himself. He named the Jesuit d'Aubigny,
to whom he had only shown a knife--why, then, should he spare the duke
of Lerma? It is very strange obstinacy not to believe what Ravaillac
himself declared when put to the torture. Is a great Spanish family to
be insulted without the least shadow of proof?

_Et voilà justement comme on écrit l'histoire._ (Yet this is how history
is written.) The Spanish nation is not accustomed to resort to shameful
crimes; and the Spanish grandees have always possessed a generous pride
which has prevented them from acting so basely. If Philip II. set a
price on the head of the prince of Orange, he had, at least, the pretext
of punishing a rebellious subject, as the Parliament of Paris had when
they set fifty thousand crowns on the head of Admiral Coligni, and
afterwards on that of Cardinal Mazarin. These political proscriptions
partook of the horror of the civil wars; but how can it be supposed that
the duke of Lerma had secret communications with a poor wretch like

The same author says that Marshal D'Ancre and his wife were struck, as
it were, by a thunderbolt. The truth is, that the one was struck by
pistol-balls, and the other burned as a witch. An assassination and a
sentence of death passed on the wife of a marshal of France, an
attendant on the queen, as a reputed sorceress, do very little honor
either to the chivalry or to the jurisprudence of that day. But I know
not why the historian makes use of these words; "If these two wretches
were not accomplices in the king's death, they at least deserved the
most rigorous chastisement; it is certain that, even during the king's
life, Concini and his wife had connections with Spain in opposition to
the king's designs."

This is not at all certain, nor is it even likely. They were
Florentines. The grand duke of Florence was the first to acknowledge
Henry IV., and feared nothing so much as the power of Spain in Italy.
Concini and his wife had no influence in the time of Henry IV. If they
intrigued with the court of Madrid it could only be through the queen,
who must, therefore, have betrayed her husband. Besides, let it once
more be observed that we are not at liberty to bring forward such
accusations without proofs. What! shall a writer pronounce a defamation
from his garret, which the most enlightened judges in the kingdom would
tremble to hear in a court of justice? Why are a marshal of France and
his wife, one of the queen's attendants, to be called two _wretches_?
Does Marshal d'Ancre, who raised an army against the rebels at his own
expense, merit an epithet suitable only to Ravaillac or Cartouche--to
public robbers, or public calumniators?

It is but too true that one fanatic is sufficient for the commission of
a parricide, without any accomplice. Damiens had none; he repeated four
times, in the course of his interrogatory, that he committed his crime
solely through _a principle of religion_. Having been in the way of
knowing the _convulsionaries_, I may say that I have seen twenty of them
capable of any act equally horrid, so excessive has been their
infatuation. Religion, ill-understood, is a fever which the smallest
occurrence raises to frenzy. It is the property of fanaticism to heat
the imagination. When a few sparks from the lire that keeps their
superstitious heads a-boiling, fall on some violent and wicked
spirit--when some ignorant and furious man thinks he is imitating
Phineas, Ehud, Judith, and other such personages, he has more
accomplices than he is aware of. Many incite to murder without knowing
it. Some persons drop a few indiscreet and violent words; a servant
repeats them, with additions and embellishments; a Châtel, a Ravaillac,
or a Damiens listens to them, while they who pronounced them little
think what mischief they have done; they are involuntary accomplices,
without there having been either plot or instigation. In short, he knows
little of the human mind who does not know that fanaticism renders the
populace capable of anything.

       *       *       *       *       *

The author of the _"Siècle de Louis XIV"_ ("Age of Louis the
Fourteenth") is the first who has spoken of the Man in the Iron Mask in
any authentic history. He was well acquainted with this circumstance,
which is the astonishment of the present age, and will be that of
posterity, but which is only too true. He had been deceived respecting
the time of the death of this unknown and singularly unfortunate person,
who was interred at the church of St. Paul March 3, 1703, and not in

He was first confined at Pignerol, before he was sent to the Isles of
Ste. Marguerite, and afterwards to the Bastille, always under the care
of the same man, that St. Marc, who saw him die. Father Griffet, a
Jesuit, has communicated to the public the journal of the Bastille,
which certifies the dates. He had no difficulty in obtaining this
journal, since he exercised the delicate office of confessor to the
prisoners confined in the Bastille.

The Man in the Iron Mask is an enigma which each one attempts to solve.
Some have said that he was the duke of Beaufort, but the duke of
Beaufort was killed by the Turks in the defence of Candia, in 1669, and
the Man in the Iron Mask was at Pignerol in 1672. Besides, how should
the duke of Beaufort have been arrested in the midst of his army? How
could he have been transferred to France without some one's knowing
something about it? and why should he have been imprisoned? and why

Others have imagined that he was Count Vermandois, natural son to Louis
XIV., who, it is well known, died of smallpox when with the army, in
1683, and was buried in the town of Arras.

It has since been supposed that the duke of Monmouth, who was publicly
beheaded by order of King James, in 1685, was the Man in the Iron Mask.
But either the duke must have come to life again, and afterwards changed
the order of time, putting the year 1662 for the year 1685, or King
James, who never pardoned any one, and therefore merited all his
misfortunes, must have pardoned the duke of Monmouth, and put to death
in his stead some one who perfectly resembled him. In the latter case, a
person must have been found kind enough to have his head publicly cut
off to save the duke of Monmouth. All England must have been deceived in
the person; then King James must have begged of Louis XIV. that he would
be so good as to become his jailer. Louis XIV., having granted King
James this small favor, could not have refused to show the same regard
for King William and Queen Anne, with whom he was at war; but would have
been careful to maintain the dignity of jailer--with which King James
had honored him--to the end of the chapter.

All these illusions being dissipated, it remains to be known who this
constantly-masked prisoner was, at what age he died, and under what name
he was buried. It is clear that, if he was not permitted to walk in the
court of the Bastille, nor to see his physician--except in a mask--it
was for fear that some very striking resemblance would be discovered in
his features. He was permitted to show his tongue, but never his face.
As for his age, he himself told the apothecary of the Bastille, a little
before his death, that he believed he was about sixty. The apothecary's
son-in-law, Marsolam, surgeon to Marshal de Richelieu, and afterwards to
the duke of Orleans the regent, has repeated this to me several times.
To conclude: Why was an Italian name given to him? He was always called
_Marchiali_ The writer of this article, perhaps, knows more on the
subject than Father Griffet, though he will not say more.

It is true that Nicholas Fouquet, superintendent of the finances, had
many friends in his disgrace, and that they persevered even until
judgment was passed on him. It is true that the chancellor, who presided
at that judgment, treated the illustrious captive with too much rigor.
But it was not Michel Letellier, as stated in some editions of the
_"Siècle de Louis XIV."_, it was Pierre Seguier. This inadvertency of
having placed one for the other is a fault which must be corrected.

It is very remarkable that no one knows where this celebrated minister
died. Not that it is of any importance to know it, for his death not
having led to any event whatever, is like all other indifferent
occurrences; but this serves to prove how completely he was forgotten
towards the close of life, how worthless that worldly consideration is
which is so anxiously sought for, and how happy they are who have no
higher ambition than to live and die unknown. This knowledge is far more
useful than that of dates.

       *       *       *       *       *

Father Griffet does his utmost to persuade us that Cardinal Richelieu
wrote a bad book. Well, many statesmen have done the same. But it is
very fine to see him strive so hard to prove that, according to
Cardinal Richelieu, "our allies, the Spaniards," so happily governed by
a Bourbon, "are tributary to hell, and make the Indies tributary to
hell!" Cardinal Richelieu's "Political Testament" is not that of a
polite man. He alleges:

That France had more good ports on the Mediterranean than the whole
Spanish monarchy (this is an exaggeration); that to keep up an army of
fifty thousand men it is best to raise a hundred thousand (this throws
money away); that when a new tax is imposed the pay of the soldiers is
increased (which has never been done either in France or elsewhere);
that the parliaments and other superior courts should be made to pay the
_taille_ (an infallible means of gaining their hearts and making the
magistracy respectable); that the noblesse should be forced to serve and
to enroll themselves in the cavalry (the better to preserve their
privileges); that Genoa was the richest city in Italy (which I wish it
were); that we must be very chaste (the testator _might_ add--like
certain preachers--_"Do what I say, not what I do"_); that an abbey
should be given to the holy chapel at Paris (a thing of great importance
at the crisis in which your friend stood); that Pope Benedict XI. gave a
great deal of trouble to the cordeliers, who were piqued on the subject
of poverty (that is to say, the revenues of the order of St Francis);
that they were exasperated against him to such a degree that they made
war upon him by their writings (more important still and more
learned!--especially when John XXII. is taken for Benedict XI. and when
in a "Political Testament" nothing is said of the manner in which the
war against Spain and the empire was to be conducted, nor of the means
of making peace, nor of present dangers, nor of resources, nor of
alliances, nor of the generals and ministers who were to be employed,
nor even of the dauphin, whose education was of so much importance to
the State, nor, in short, of any one object of the ministry).

I consent with all my heart, since it must be so, that Cardinal
Richelieu's memory shall be reproached with this unfortunate work, full
of anachronisms, ignorance, ridiculous calculations, and acknowledged
falsities. Let people strive as hard as they please to persuade
themselves that the greatest minister was the most ignorant and tedious,
as well as the most extravagant of writers; it may afford some
gratification to those who detest his tyranny. It is also a fact worth
preserving in the history of the human mind that this despicable work
was praised for more than thirty years, while it was believed to be that
great minister's, and quite as true that the pretended "Testament" made
no noise in the world until thirty years after the Cardinal's death;
that it was not printed until forty-two years after that event; that the
original, signed by him, has never been seen; that the book is very bad;
and that it scarcely deserves to be mentioned.

Did Count de Moret, son of Henry IV., who was wounded in the little
skirmish at Castelnaudari, live until the year 1693 under the name of
_the hermit Jean Baptiste_? What proof have we that this hermit was the
son of Henry IV.? None.

Did Jeanne d'Albret de Navarre, mother of Henry IV., after the death of
Antoine, marry a gentleman named Guyon, who was killed in the massacre
of St. Bartholomew? Had she a son by him, who preached at Bordeaux?
These facts are detailed at great length in the "Remarks on Bayle's
Answers to the Questions of a Provincial," folio, page 689. Was Margaret
of Valois, wife to Henry IV., brought to bed of two children secretly
after her marriage?

We might fill volumes with inquiries like these. But how much pains
should we be taking to discover things of no use to mankind! Let us
rather seek cures for the scrofula, the gout, the stone, the gravel, and
a thousand other chronic or acute diseases. Let us seek remedies for the
distempers of the mind, no less terrible and no less mortal. Let us
labor to bring the arts to perfection, and to lessen the miseries of the
human race; and let us not waste our time over the _anas_, the
_anecdotes_, and _curious stories_ of our day, the collections of
pretended bons mots, etc.

I read in a book lately published that Louis XIV. exempted all
new-married men from the _taille_ for five years. I have not found this
fact in any collection of edicts, nor in any memoir of that time. I read
in the same book that the king of Prussia has fifty livres given to
every girl with child. There is, in truth, no better way of laying out
money, nor of encouraging propagation, but I do not believe that this
royal munificence is true; at least I have never witnessed it.

An anecdote of greater antiquity has just fallen under my eye, and
appears to me to be a very strange one. It is said in a chronological
history of Italy that the great Arian, Theodoric--he who is represented
to have been so wise--had amongst his ministers a Catholic, for whom he
had a great liking, and who proved worthy of all his confidence. This
minister thought he should rise still higher in his master's favor by
embracing Arianism; but Theodoric had him immediately beheaded, saying:
_"If a man is not faithful to God, how can he be faithful to me, who am
but a man?"_ The compiler remarks that "this trait does great honor to
Theodoric's manner of thinking with respect to religion."

I pique myself on thinking, in matters of religion, better than
Ostrogoth, Theodoric, the assassin of Symmachus, and Boëtius, because I
am a good Catholic, and he was an Arian. But I declare this king worthy
of being confined as a madman if he were so atrociously besotted. What!
he immediately cut off his minister's head because that minister had at
last come over to his own way of thinking. How was a worshipper of God,
who passed from the opinion of Athanasius to that of Arius and Eusebius,
unfaithful to God? He was at most unfaithful only to Athanasius and his
party, at a time when the world was divided between the Athanasians and
the Eusebians; but Theodoric could not regard him as a man unfaithful to
God, because he had rejected the term _consubstantial_, after admitting
it at first. To cut off his favorite's head for such a reason could
certainly be the act of none but the wickedest fool and most barbarous
blockhead that ever existed. What would you say of Louis XIV. if he had
beheaded the duke de la Force because the duke de la Force had quitted
Calvinism for the religion of Louis XIV.?

I have just opened a history of Holland, in which I find that, in 1672,
Marshal de Luxembourg harangued his troops in the following manner: "Go,
my children, plunder, rob, kill, ravish; and if there be anything more
abominable fail not to do it, that I may find I have not been mistaken
in selecting you as the bravest of men." This is certainly a very pretty
harangue. It is as true as those given us by Livy, but it is not in his
style. To complete the dishonor of typography, this fine piece is
inserted in several new dictionaries, which are no other than impostures
in alphabetical order.

It is a trifling error in the _"Abrégé Chronologique de l'Histoire de
France"_ ("Chronological Abridgment of the History of France") to
suppose that Louis XIV., after the Peace of Utrecht, for which he was
indebted to the English, after nine years of misfortune, and after the
many great victories which the English had gained, said to the English
ambassador: "I have always been master at home, and sometimes abroad;
do not remind me of it." This speech would have been very ill-timed,
very false as it regarded the English, and would have exposed the king
to a most galling reply.

The author himself confessed to me that the Marquis de Torcy, who was
present at all the earl of Stair's audiences, had always given the lie
to this anecdote. It is assuredly neither true nor likely, and has
remained in the later editions of this book only because it was put in
the first. This error, however, does not at all disparage this very
useful work, in which all the great events, arranged in the most
convenient order, are perfectly authenticated.

All these little tales, designed to embellish history, do but dishonor
it, and unfortunately almost all ancient histories are little else than
tales. Malebranche was right when, speaking on this subject, he said: "I
think no more of history than I do of the news of my parish."

       *       *       *       *       *

In 1723, Father Fouquet, a Jesuit, returned to France from China, where
he had passed twenty-five years. Religious disputes had embroiled him
with his brethren. He had carried with him to China a gospel different
from theirs, and now brought back to France memorials against them. Two
Chinese literati made the voyage with him; one of them died on the way,
the other came with Father Fouquet to Paris. The Jesuit was to take the
Chinese to Rome secretly, as a witness of the conduct of the good
fathers in China, and in the meantime Fouquet and his companion lodged
at the house of _the Professed_, Rue St. Antoine.

The reverend fathers received advice of their reverend brother's
intentions. Fouquet was no less quickly informed of the designs of the
reverend fathers. He lost not a moment, but set off the same night for
Rome. The reverend fathers had interest enough to get him pursued, but
the Chinese only was taken. This poor fellow did not understand a word
of French. The good fathers went to Cardinal Dubois, who at that time
needed their support, and told him that they had among them a young man
who had gone mad, and whom it was necessary to confine. The cardinal
immediately granted a _lettre de cachet_, than which there is sometimes
nothing which a minister is more ready to grant. The lieutenant of
police went to take this madman, who was pointed out to him. He found a
man making reverences in a way different from the French, speaking in a
singing tone, and looking quite astonished. He expressed great pity for
his derangement, ordered his hands to be tied behind him, and sent him
to Charenton, where, like the Abbé Desfontaines, he was flogged twice a
week. The Chinese did not at all understand this method of receiving
strangers. He had passed only two or three days in Paris, and had found
the manners of the French very odd. He had lived two years on bread and
water, amongst madmen and keepers, and believed that the French nation
consisted of these two species, the one part dancing while the other
flogged them.

At length, when two years had elapsed, the ministry changed and a new
lieutenant of police was appointed. This magistrate commenced his
administration by visiting the prisons. He also saw the lunatics at
Charenton. After conversing with them he asked if there were no other
persons for him to see. He was told that there was one more unfortunate
man, but that he spoke a language which nobody understood. A Jesuit, who
accompanied the magistrate, said it was the peculiarity of this man's
madness that he never gave an answer in French; nothing would be gotten
from him, and he thought it would be better not to take the trouble of
calling him. The minister insisted. The unfortunate man was brought, and
threw himself at his feet. The lieutenant sent for the king's
interpreters, who spoke to him in Spanish, Latin, Greek, and English,
but he constantly said _Kanton, Kanton_, and nothing else. The Jesuit
assured them he was possessed. The magistrate, having at some time heard
it said that there was a province in China called _Kanton_, thought this
man might perhaps have come from thence. An interpreter to the foreign
missions was sent for, who could murder Chinese. All was discovered. The
magistrate knew not what to do, nor the Jesuit what to say. The Duke de
Bourbon was then prime minister. The circumstance having been related to
him, he ordered money and clothes to be given to the Chinese, and sent
him back to his own country, whence it is not thought that many literati
will come and see us in the future. It would have been more politic to
have kept this man and treated him well, than to have sent him to give
his countrymen the very worst opinion of the French.

       *       *       *       *       *

About thirty years ago the French Jesuits sent secret missionaries to
China, who enticed a child from his parents in Canton, and brought him
to Paris, where they educated him in their convent of La Rue St.
Antoine. This boy became a Jesuit at the age of fifteen, after which he
remained ten years in France. He knows both French and Chinese
perfectly, and is very learned. M. Bertin, comptroller-general, and
afterwards secretary of state, sent him back to China in 1763, after the
abolition of the Jesuits. He calls himself Ko, and signs himself _Ko,

In 1772 there were fourteen Jesuits in Pekin, amongst whom was Brother
Ko, who still lives in their house. The Emperor Kien-Long has kept these
monks of Europe about him in the positions of painters, engravers,
watch-makers, and mechanics, with an express prohibition from ever
disputing on religion, or causing the least trouble in the empire.

The Jesuit Ko has sent manuscripts of his own composition from Pekin to
Paris entitled: "Memoirs Relative to the History, Arts and Sciences of
the Chinese by the Missionaries at Pekin." This book is printed, and is
now selling at Paris by Nyon, the bookseller. The author attacks all
the philosophers of Europe. He calls a prince of the Tartar race, whom
the Jesuits had seduced, and the late emperor, Yong-Chin, had banished,
an illustrious martyr to Jesus Christ. This Ko boasts of making many
neophytes, who are ardent spirits, capable of troubling China even more
than the Jesuits formerly troubled Japan. It is said that a Russian
nobleman, indignant at this Jesuitical insolence, which reaches the
farthest corners of the earth even after the extinction of the
order--has resolved to find some means of sending to the president of
the tribunal of rites at Pekin an extract in Chinese from these memoirs,
which may serve to make the aforesaid Ko, and the Jesuits who labor with
him, better known.



_Angels of the Indians, Persians, etc._

The author of the article "Angel" in the Encyclopædia says that all
religions have admitted the existence of angels, although it is not
demonstrated by natural reason.

We understand by this word, ministers of God, supernatural is beyond
reason. If I mistake not it should have been _several_ religions (and
not _all_) have acknowledged the existence of angels. That of Numa, that
of Sabaism, that of the Druids, that of the Scythians, and that of the
Phœnicians and ancient Egyptians did not admit their existence.

We understand by this word, ministers of God, deputies, beings of a
middle order between God and man, sent to make known to us His orders.

At the present time--in 1772--the Brahmins boast of having possessed in
writing, for just four thousand eight hundred and seventy-eight years,
their first sacred law, entitled the Shastah, fifteen hundred years
before their second law, called Veidam, signifying the word of God. The
Shastah contains five chapters; the first, of God and His attributes;
the second, of the creation of the angels; the third, of the fall of the
angels; the fourth, of their punishment; the fifth, of their pardon, and
the creation of man.

It is good, in the first place, to observe the manner in which this book
speaks of God.

_First Chapter of the Shastah._

God is one; He has created all; it is a perfect sphere, without
beginning or end. God conducts the whole creation by a general
providence, resulting from a determined principle. Thou shalt not seek
to discover the nature and essence of the Eternal, nor by what laws He
governs; such an undertaking would be vain and criminal. It is enough
for thee to contemplate day and night in His works, His wisdom, His
power, and His goodness.

After paying to this opening of the Shastah the tribute of admiration
which is due to it, let us pass to the creation of the angels.

_Second Chapter of the Shastah._

The Eternal, absorbed in the contemplation of His own existence,
resolved, in the fulness of time, to communicate His glory and His
essence to beings capable of feeling and partaking His beatitude as well
as of contributing to His glory. The Eternal willed it, and they were.
He formed them partly of His own essence, capable of perfection or
imperfection, according to their will.

The Eternal first created Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva, then Mozazor, and
all the multitude of the angels. The Eternal gave the pre-eminence to
Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva. Brahma was the prince of the angelic army;
Vishnu and Siva were His coadjutors. The Eternal divided the angelic
army into several bands, and gave to each a chief. They adored the
Eternal, ranged around His throne, each in the degree assigned him.
There was harmony in heaven. Mozazor, chief of the first band, led the
canticle of praise and adoration to the Creator, and the song of
obedience to Brahma, his first creature; and the Eternal rejoiced in His
new creation.

_Chapter III.--The Fall of a Part of the Angels._

From the creation of the celestial army, joy and harmony surrounded the
throne of the Eternal for a thousand years multiplied by a thousand, and
would have lasted until the end of time had not envy seized Mozazor and
other princes of the angelic bands, among whom was Raabon, the next in
dignity to Mozazor. Forgetful of the blessing of their creation, and of
their duty, they rejected the power of perfection, and exercised the
power of imperfection. They did evil in the sight of the Eternal; they
disobeyed Him; they refused to submit to God's lieutenant and his
coadjutors Vishnu and Siva, saying: "We will govern," and, without
fearing the power and the anger of their Creator, disseminated their
seditious principles in the celestial army. They seduced the angels, and
persuaded a great multitude of them to rebel; and they forsook the
throne of the Eternal; and sorrow came upon the faithful angelic
spirits; and for the first time grief was known in heaven.

_Chapter IV.--Punishment of the Guilty Angels._

The Eternal, whose omniscience, prescience, and influence extend over
all things except the action of the beings whom He has created free,
beheld with grief and anger the defection of Mozazor, Raabon, and the
other chiefs of the angels.

Merciful in his wrath, he sent Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva to reproach them
with their crime, and bring them back to their duty; but, confirmed in
their spirit of independence, they persisted in their revolt. The
Eternal then commanded Siva to march against them, armed with almighty
power, and hurl them down from the high place to the place of
_darkness_, into the _Ondera_, there to be punished for a thousand years
multiplied by a thousand.

_Abstract of the Fifth Chapter._

At the end of a thousand years Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva implored the
clemency of the Eternal in favor of the delinquents. The Eternal
vouchsafed to deliver them from the prison of the _Ondera_, and place
them in a state of probation during a great number of solar revolutions.
There were other rebellions against God during this time of penitence.

It was at one of these periods that God created the earth, where the
penitent angels underwent several metempsychoses, one of the last of
which was their transformation into cows. Hence it was that cows became
sacred in India. Lastly, they were metamorphosed into men.

So that the Indian system of angels is precisely that of the Jesuit
Bougeant, who asserts that the bodies of beasts are inhabited by sinful
angels. What the Brahmins had invented seriously, Bougeant, more than
four thousand years after, imagined in jest--if, indeed, this pleasantry
of his was not a remnant of superstition, combined with the spirit of
system-making, as is often the case.

Such is the history of the angels among the ancient Brahmins, which,
after the lapse of about fifty centuries, they still continue to teach.
Neither our merchants who have traded in India, nor our missionaries,
have ever been informed of it; for the Brahmins, having never been
edified by their science or their manners, have not communicated to them
their secrets. It was left for an Englishman, named Holwell, to reside
for thirty years at Benares, on the Ganges, an ancient school of the
Brahmins, to learn the ancient Sanscrit tongue, in order at length to
enrich our Europe with this singular knowledge; just as Mr. Sale lived a
long time in Arabia to give us a faithful translation of the Koran and
information relative to ancient Sabaism, which has been succeeded by the
Mussulman religion; and as Dr. Hyde continued for twenty years his
researches into everything concerning the religion of the Magi.

_Angels of the Persians._

The Persians had thirty-one angels. The first of all, who is served by
four other angels, is named Bahaman. He has the inspection of all
animals except man, over whom God has reserved to himself an immediate

God presides over the day on which the sun enters the Ram, and this day
is a Sabbath, which proves that the feast of the Sabbath was observed
among the Persians in the ancient times. The second angel presides over
the seventh day, and is called Debadur. The third is Kur, which probably
was afterwards converted into Cyrus. He is the angel of the sun. The
fourth is called Mah, and presides over the moon. Thus each angel has
his province. It was among the Persians that the doctrine of the
guardian angel and the evil angel was first adopted. It is believed that
Raphael was the guardian angel of the Persian Empire.

_Angels of the Hebrews._

The Hebrews knew nothing of the fall of the angels until the
commencement of the Christian era. This secret doctrine of the ancient
Brahmins must have reached them at that time, for it was then that the
book attributed to Enoch, relative to the sinful angels driven from
heaven, was fabricated.

Enoch must have been a very ancient writer, since, according to the
Jews, he lived in the seventh generation before the deluge. But as Seth,
still more ancient than he, had left books to the Hebrews, they might
boast of having some from Enoch also. According to them Enoch wrote as

"It happened, after the sons of men had multiplied in those days, that
daughters were born to them, elegant and beautiful. And when the angels,
the sons of heaven, beheld them they became enamored of them, saying to
each other: 'Come, let us select for ourselves wives from the progeny of
men, and let us beget children.' Then their leader, Samyaza, said to
them: 'I fear that you may perhaps be indisposed to the performance of
this enterprise, and that I alone shall suffer for so grievous a crime.'
But they answered him and said: 'We all swear, and bind ourselves by
mutual execrations, that we will not change our intention, but execute
our projected undertaking.'

"Then they swore all together, and all bound themselves by mutual
execrations. Their whole number was two hundred, who descended upon
Ardis, which is the top of Mount Armon. That mountain, therefore, was
called Armon, because they had sworn upon it, and bound themselves by
mutual execrations. These are the names of their chiefs: Samyaza, who
was their leader; Urakabarameel, Akabeel, Tamiel, Ramuel, Danel, Azkeel,
Sarakuyal, Asael, Armers, Batraal, Anane, Zavebe, Samsaveel, Ertael,
Turel, Yomyael, Arazyal. These were the prefects of the two hundred
angels, and the remainder were all with them.

"Then they took wives, each choosing for himself, whom they began to
approach, and with whom they cohabited, teaching them sorcery,
incantations, and the dividing of roots and trees. And the women,
conceiving, brought forth giants, whose stature was each three hundred
cubits," etc.

The author of this fragment writes in the style which seems to belong to
the primitive ages. He has the same simplicity. He does not fail to name
the persons, nor does he forget the dates; here are no reflections, no
maxims. It is the ancient Oriental manner.

It is evident that this story is founded on the sixth chapter of
Genesis: "There were giants in the earth in those days, and also after
that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they
bear children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men
of renown." Genesis and the Book of Enoch perfectly agree respecting
the coupling of the angels with the daughters of men, and the race of
giants which sprung from this union; but neither this Enoch, nor any
book of the Old Testament, speaks of the war of the angels against God,
or of their defeat, or of their fall into hell, or of their hatred to

Nearly all the commentators on the Old Testament unanimously say that
before the Babylonian captivity, the Jews knew not the name of any
angel. The one that appeared to Manoah, father of Samson, would not tell
his name.

When the three angels appeared to Abraham, and he had a whole calf
dressed to regale them, they did not tell him their names. One of them
said: "I will come to see thee next year, if God grant me life; and
Sarah thy wife shall have a son."

Calmet discovers a great affinity between this story and the fable which
Ovid relates in his _"Fasti"_, of Jupiter, Neptune, and Mercury, who,
having supped with old Hyreus, and finding that he was afflicted with
impotence, urinated upon the skin of a calf which he had served up to
them, and ordered him to bury this hide watered with celestial urine in
the ground, and leave it there for nine months. At the end of the nine
months, Hyreus uncovered his hide, and found in it a child, which was
named Orion, and is now in the heavens. Calmet moreover says that the
words which the angels used to Abraham may be rendered thus: A child
shall be born of your calf.

Be this as it may, the angels did not tell Abraham their names; they did
not even tell them to Moses; and we find the name of Raphael only in
Tobit, at the time of the captivity. The other names of angels are
evidently taken from the Chaldæans and the Persians. _Raphael_,
_Gabriel_, and _Uriel_, are Persian or Babylonian. The name of _Israel_
itself is Chaldæan, as the learned Jew Philo expressly says, in the
account of his deputation to Caligula.

We shall not here repeat what has been elsewhere said of angels.

_Whether the Greeks and the Romans admitted the Existence of Angels._

They had gods and demi-gods enough to dispense with all other subaltern
beings. Mercury executed the commissions of Jupiter, and Iris those of
Juno; nevertheless, they admitted genii and demons. The doctrine of
guardian angels was versified by Hesiod, who was contemporary with
Homer. In his poem of "The Works and Days" he thus explains it:

     When gods alike and mortals rose to birth,
     A golden race the immortals formed on earth
     Of many-languaged men; they lived of old,
     When Saturn reigned in heaven--an age of gold.
     Like gods they lived, with calm, untroubled mind,
     Free from the toil and anguish of our kind.
     Nor sad, decrepit age approaching nigh,
     Their limbs misshaped with swoln deformity.
     Strangers to ill, they Nature's banquet proved,
     Rich in earth's fruits, and of the blest beloved:
     They sank to death, as opiate slumber stole
     Soft o'er the sense, and whelmed the willing soul.
     Theirs was each good: the grain-exuberant soil
     Poured the full harvest, uncompelled by toil;
     The virtuous many dwelt in common, blest,
     And all unenvying shared what all in peace possessed.
     When on this race the verdant earth had lain,
     By Jove's high will they rose a Genii train:
     Earth-wandering dæmons, they their charge began,
     The ministers or good and guards of man:
     Veiled with a mantle of aerial night,
     O'er earth's wide space they wing their hovering flight;
     Dispense the fertile treasures of the ground,
     And bend their all-observant glance around;
     To mark the deed unjust, the just approve,
     Their kingly office, delegate from Jove.
                                   ELTON'S _Translation_.

The farther we search into antiquity, the more we see how modern nations
have by turns explored these now almost abandoned mines. The Greeks, who
so long passed for inventors, imitated Egypt, which had copied from the
Chaldæans, who owed almost everything to the Indians. The doctrine of
the guardian angels, so well sung by Hesiod, was afterwards
sophisticated in the schools: it was all that they were capable of
doing. Every man had his good and his evil genius, as each one had his
particular star--

_Est genius natale comes qui temper at astrum._

Socrates, we know, had his good angel; but his bad angel must have
governed him. No angel but an evil one could prompt a philosopher to run
from house to house, to tell people, by question and answer, that father
and mother, preceptor and pupil, were all ignorant and imbecile. A
guardian angel in that event will find it very difficult to save his
protege from the hemlock.

We are acquainted only with the _evil angel_ of Marcus Brutus, which
appeared to him before the battle of Philippi.


The doctrine of angels is one of the oldest in the world. It preceded
that of the immortality of the soul. This is not surprising; philosophy
is necessary to the belief that the soul of mortal man is immortal; but
imagination and weakness are sufficient for the invention of beings
superior to ourselves, protecting or persecuting us. Yet it does not
appear that the ancient Egyptians had any notion of these celestial
beings, clothed with an ethereal body and administering to the orders of
a God. The ancient Babylonians were the first who admitted this
theology. The Hebrew books employ the angels from the first book of
Genesis downwards: but the Book of Genesis was not written before the
Chaldæans had become a powerful nation: nor was it until the captivity
of Babylon that the Jews learned the names of _Gabriel_, _Raphael_,
_Michael_, _Uriel_, etc., which were given to the angels. The Jewish and
Christian religions being founded on the fall of Adam, and this fall
being founded on the temptation by the evil angel, the devil, it is very
singular that not a word is said in the Pentateuch of the existence of
the bad angels, still less of their punishment and abode in hell.

The reason of this omission is evident: the evil angels were unknown to
the Jews until the Babylonian captivity; then it is that Asmodeus
begins to be talked of, whom Raphael went to bind in Upper Egypt; there
it is that the Jews first hear of Satan. This word _Satan_ was Chaldæan;
and the Book of Job, an inhabitant of Chaldæa, is the first that makes
mention of him.

The ancient Persians said Satan was an angel or genius who had made war
upon the _Dives_ and the _Peris_, that is, the fairest of the East.

Thus, according to the ordinary rules of probability, those who are
guided by reason alone might be permitted to think that, from this
theology, the Jews and Christians at length took the idea that the evil
angels had been driven out of heaven, and that their prince had tempted
Eve, in the form of a serpent.

It has been pretended that Isaiah, in his fourteenth chapter, had this
allegory in view when he said: _"Quornodo occidisti de cœlo, Lucifer,
qui mane oriebaris?"_ "How hast thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son
of the morning?"

It was this same Latin verse, translated from Isaiah, which procured for
the devil the name of Lucifer. It was forgotten that Lucifer signifies
"that which sheds light." The words of Isaiah, too, have received a
little attention; he is speaking of the dethroned king of Babylon; and
by a common figure of speech, he says to him: "How hast thou fallen from
heaven, thou brilliant star?"

It does not at all appear that Isaiah sought, by this stroke of
rhetoric, to establish the doctrine of the angels precipitated into
hell. It was scarcely before the time of the primitive Christian church
that the fathers and the rabbis exerted themselves to encourage this
doctrine, in order to save the incredibility of the story of a serpent
which seduced the mother of men, and which, condemned for this bad
action to crawl on its belly, has ever since been an enemy to man, who
is always striving to crush it, while it is always endeavoring to bite
him. There seemed to be somewhat more of sublimity in celestial
substances precipitated into the abyss, and issuing from it to persecute

It cannot be proved by any reasoning that these celestial and infernal
powers exist; neither can it be proved that they do not exist. There is
certainly no contradiction in acknowledging the existence of beneficent
and malignant substances which are neither of the nature of God nor of
the nature of man: but a thing, to be believed, must be more than

The angels who, according to the Babylonians and the Jews, presided over
nations, were precisely what the gods of Homer were--celestial beings,
subordinate to a supreme being. The imagination which produced the one
probably produced the other. The number of the inferior gods increased
with the religion of Homer. Among the Christians, the number of the
angels was augmented in the course of time.

The writers known by the names of Dionysius the Areopagite and Gregory
I. fixed the number of angels in nine choirs, forming three hierarchies;
the first consisting of the seraphim, cherubim, and thrones; the second
of the dominations, virtues and powers; and the third of the
principalities, archangels, and, lastly, the angels, who give their
domination to all the rest. It is hardly permissible for any one but a
pope thus to settle the different ranks in heaven.


Angel, in Greek, is envoy. The reader will hardly be the wiser for being
told that the Persians had their _peris_, the Hebrews their _malakim_,
and the Greeks their _demonoi_.

But it is perhaps better worth knowing that, one of the first of man's
ideas has always been to place intermediate beings between the Divinity
and himself; such were those demons, those genii, invented in the ages
of antiquity. Man always made the gods after his own image; princes were
seen to communicate their orders by messengers; therefore, the Divinity
had also his couriers. Mercury, Iris, were couriers or messengers.

The Jews, the only people under the conduct of the Divinity Himself, did
not at first give names to the angels whom God vouchsafed to send them;
they borrowed the names given them by the Chaldæans when the Jewish
nation was captive in Babylon; Michael and Gabriel are named for the
first time by Daniel, a slave among those people. The Jew Tobit, who
lived at Ninevah, knew the angel Raphael, who travelled with his son to
assist him in recovering the money due to him from the Jew Gabaël.

In the laws of the Jews, that is, in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, not the
least mention is made of the existence of the angels--much less of the
worship of them. Neither did the Sadducees believe in the angels.

But in the histories of the Jews, they are much spoken of. The angels
were corporeal; they had wings at their backs, as the Gentiles feigned
that Mercury had at his heels; sometimes they concealed their wings
under their clothing. How could they be without bodies, since they all
ate and drank, and the inhabitants of Sodom wanted to commit the sin of
pederasty with the angels who went to Lot's house?

The ancient Jewish tradition, according to Ben Maimon, admits ten
degrees, ten orders of angels:

1. The _chaios ecodesh_, pure, holy. 2. The _ofamin_, swift. 3. The
_oralim_, strong. 4. The _chasmalim_, flames. 5. The _seraphim_, sparks.
6. The _malakim_, angels, messengers, deputies. 7. The _elohim_, gods or
judges. 8. The _ben elohim_, sons of the gods. 9. The _cherubim_,
images. 10. The _ychim_, animated.

The story of the fall of the angels is not to be found in the books of
Moses. The first testimony respecting it is that of Isaiah, who,
apostrophizing the king of Babylon, exclaims, "Where is now the exacter
of tributes? The pines and the cedars rejoice in his fall. How hast thou
fallen from heaven, O Hellel, star of the morning?" It has been already
observed that the word _Hellel_ has been rendered by the Latin word
Lucifer; that afterwards, in an allegorical sense, the name of Lucifer
was given to the prince of the angels, who made war in heaven; and that,
at last, this word, signifying _Phosphorus_ and _Aurora_, has become the
name of the devil.

The Christian religion is founded on the fall of the angels. Those who
revolted were precipitated from the spheres which they inhabited into
hell, in the centre of the earth, and became devils. A devil, in the
form of a serpent, tempted Eve, and damned mankind. Jesus came to redeem
mankind, and to triumph over the devil, who tempts us still. Yet this
fundamental tradition is to be found nowhere but in the apocryphal book
of Enoch; and there it is in a form quite different from that of the
received tradition.

St. Augustine, in his 109th letter, does not hesitate to give slender
and agile bodies to the good and bad angels. Pope Gregory I. has reduced
to nine choirs--to nine hierarchies or orders--the ten choirs of angels
acknowledged by the Jews.

The Jews had in their temple two cherubs, each with two heads--the one
that of an ox, the other that of an eagle, with six wings. We paint them
now in the form of a flying head, with two small wings below the ears.
We paint the angels and archangels in the form of young men, with two
wings at the back. As for the thrones and dominations, no one has yet
thought of painting them.

St. Thomas, at question cviii. article 2, says that the thrones are as
near to God as the cherubim and the seraphim, because it is upon them
that God sits. Scot has counted a thousand million of angels. The
ancient mythology of the good and bad genii, having passed from the East
to Greece and Rome, we consecrated this opinion, for admitting for each
individual a good and an evil angel, of whom one assists him and the
other torments him, from his birth to his death; but it is not yet known
whether these good and bad angels are continually passing from one to
another, or are relieved by others. On this point, consult "St. Thomas's

It is not known precisely where the angels dwell--whether in the air, in
the void, or in the planets. It has not been God's pleasure that we
should be informed of their abode.


How many nations have long existed, and still exist, without annals.
There were none in all America, that is, in one-half of our globe,
excepting those of Mexico and Peru, which are not very ancient. Besides,
knotted cords are a sort of books which cannot enter into very minute
details. Three-fourths of Africa never had annals; and, at the present
day, in the most learned nations, in those which have even used and
abused the art of writing the most, ninety-nine out of a hundred persons
may be regarded as not knowing anything that happened there farther back
than four generations, and as ignorant almost of the names of their
great-grandfathers. Such is the case with nearly all the inhabitants of
towns and villages, very few families holding titles of their
possessions. When a litigation arises respecting the limits of a field
or a meadow, the judges decide according to the testimony of the old
men; and possession constitutes the title. Some great events are
transmitted from father to son, and are entirely altered in passing from
mouth to mouth. They have no other annals.

Look at all the villages of our Europe, so polished, so enlightened, so
full of immense libraries, and which now seem to groan under the
enormous mass of books. In each village two men at most, on an average,
can read and write. Society loses nothing in consequence. All works are
performed--building, planting, sowing, reaping, as they were in the
remotest times. The laborer has not even leisure to regret that he has
not been taught to consume some hours of the day in reading. This proves
that mankind had no need of historical monuments to cultivate the arts
really necessary to life.

It is astonishing, not that so many tribes of people are without annals,
but that three or four nations have preserved them for five thousand
years or thereabouts, through so many violent revolutions which the
earth has undergone. Not a line remains of the ancient Egyptian,
Chaldæan, or Persian annals, nor of those of the Latins and Etruscans.
The only annals that can boast of a little antiquity are the Indian, the
Chinese, and the Hebrew.

We cannot give the name of annals to vague and rude fragments of history
without date, order, or connection. They are riddles proposed by
antiquity to posterity, who understand nothing at all of them. We
venture to affirm that Sanchoniathon, who is said to have lived before
the time of Moses, composed annals. He probably limited his researches
to cosmogony, as Hesiod afterwards did in Greece. We advance this latter
opinion only as a doubt; for we write only to be informed, and not to

But what deserves the greatest attention is that Sanchoniathon quotes
the books of the Egyptian Thoth, who, he tells us, lived eight hundred
years before him. Now Sanchoniathon probably wrote in the age in which
we place Joseph's adventure in Egypt. We commonly place the epoch of the
promotion of the Jew Joseph to the prime-ministry of Egypt at the year
of the creation 2300.

If, then, the books of Thoth were written eight hundred years before,
they were written in the year 1500 of the creation. Therefore, their
date was a hundred and fifty-six years before the deluge. They must,
then, have been engraved on stone, and preserved in the universal
inundation. Another difficulty is that Sanchoniathon does not speak of
the deluge, and that no Egyptian writer has ever been quoted who does
speak of it. But these difficulties vanish before the Book of Genesis,
inspired by the Holy Ghost.

We have no intention here to plunge into the chaos which eighty writers
have sought to clear up, by inventing different chronologies; we always
keep to the Old Testament. We only ask whether in the time of Thoth they
wrote in hieroglyphics, or in alphabetical characters? whether stone and
brick had yet been laid aside for vellum, or any other material? whether
Thoth wrote annals, or only a cosmogony? whether there were some
pyramids already built in the time of Thoth? whether Lower Egypt was
already inhabited? whether canals had been constructed to receive the
waters of the Nile? whether the Chaldæans had already taught the arts of
the Egyptians, and whether the Chaldæans had received them from the
Brahmins? There are persons who have resolved all these questions; which
once occasioned a man of sense and wit to say of a grave doctor, "That
man must be very ignorant, for he answers every question that is asked


The epoch of the establishment of annats is uncertain, which is a proof
that the exaction of them is a usurpation--an extortionary custom.
Whatever is not founded on an authentic law is an abuse. Every abuse
ought to be reformed, unless the reform is more dangerous than the
abuse itself. Usurpation begins by small and successive encroachments;
equity and the public interest at length exclaim and protest; then comes
policy, which does its best to reconcile usurpation with equity, and the
abuse remains.

In several dioceses the bishops, chapters, and arch-deacons, after the
example of the popes, imposed annats upon the curés. In Normandy this
exaction is called _droit de déport_. Policy having no interest in
maintaining this pillage, it was abolished in several places; it still
exists in others; so true is it that money is the first object of

In 1409, at the Council of Pisa, Pope Alexander V. expressly renounced
annats; Charles VII. condemned them by an edict of April, 1418; the
Council of Basel declared that they came under the domination of simony,
and the Pragmatic Sanction abolished them again.

Francis I., by a private treaty which he made with Leo X., and which was
not inserted in the concordat, allowed the pope to raise this tribute,
which produced him annually, during that prince's reign, a hundred
thousand crowns of that day, according to the calculation then made by
Jacques Capelle, advocate-general to the Parliament of Paris.

The parliament, the universities, the clergy, the whole nation,
protested against this exaction, and Henry II., yielding at length to
the cries of his people, renewed the law of Charles VII., by an edict of
the 3d of September, 1551.

The paying of annats was again forbidden by Charles IX., at the States
of Orleans, in 1560: "By the advice of our council, and in pursuance of
the decrees of the Holy Councils, the ancient ordinances of the kings,
our predecessors, and the decisions of our courts of parliament, we
order that all conveying of gold and silver out of our kingdom, and
paying of money under the name of _annats_, vacant or otherwise, shall
cease, on pain of a four-fold penalty on the offenders."

This law, promulgated in the general assembly of the nation, must have
seemed irrevocable, but two years afterwards the same prince, subdued by
the court of Rome, at that time powerful, re-established what the whole
nation and himself had abrogated.

Henry IV., who feared no danger, but feared Rome, confirmed the annats
by an edict of the 22d of January, 1596.

Three celebrated jurisconsults, Dumoulin, Lannoy, and Duaren, have
written strongly against annats, which they call a _real simony_. If, in
default of their payment the pope refuses his bulls, Duaren advises the
Gallican Church to imitate that of Spain, which, in the twelfth Council
of Toledo, charged the archbishop of that city, on the pope's refusal,
to provide for the prelates appointed by the king.

It is one of the most certain maxims of French law, consecrated by
article fourteen of our liberties, that the bishop of Rome has no power
over the temporalities of benefices, but enjoys the revenues of annats
only by the king's permission. But ought there not to be a term to this
permission? What avails our enlightenment if we are always to retain,
our abuses?

The amount of the sums which have been and still are paid to the pope is
truly frightful. The attorney-general, Jean de St. Romain, has remarked
that in the time of Pius II. twenty-two bishoprics having become vacant
in France in the space of three years, it was necessary to carry to Rome
a hundred and twenty thousand crowns; that sixty-one abbeys having also
become vacant, the like sum had been paid to the court of Rome; that
about the same time there had been paid to this court for provisions for
the priorships, deaneries, and other inferior dignities, a thousand
crowns; that for each curate there was at least a _grâce expectative_,
which was sold for twenty-five crowns, besides an infinite number of
dispensations, amounting to two millions of crowns. St. Romain lived in
the time of Louis XI. Judge then, what these sums would now amount to.
Judge how much other states have given. Judge whether the Roman
commonwealth in the time of Lucullus drew more gold and silver from the
nations conquered by its sword than the popes, the fathers of those same
nations, have drawn from them by their pens.

Supposing that St. Romain's calculation is too high by half, which is
very unlikely, does there not still remain a sum sufficiently
considerable to entitle us to call the apostolical chamber to an
account and demand restitution, seeing that there is nothing at all
apostolical in such an amount of money?


They are said to have been a small sect of the fourth century, but they
were rather the sect of every people that had painters and sculptors. As
soon as they could draw a little, or shape a figure, they made an image
of the Divinity. If the Egyptians consecrated cats and gnats they also
sculptured Isis and Osiris. Bel was carved at Babylon, Hercules at Tyre,
Brahma in India.

The Mussulmans did not paint God as a man. The Guebres had no image of
the Great Being. The Sabean Arabs, did not give the human figure to the
stars. The Jews did not give it to God in their temple. None of these
nations cultivated the art of design, and if Solomon placed figures of
animals in his temple it is likely that he had them carved at Tyre; but
all the Jews have spoken of God as of a man.

Although they had no images they seem to have made God a man on all
occasions. He comes down into the garden; He walks there every day at
noon; He talks to His creatures; He talks to the serpent; He makes
Himself heard by Moses in the bush; He shows him only His back parts on
the mountain; He nevertheless talks to him, face to face, like one
friend to another.

In the Koran, too, God is always looked up to as a king. In the twelfth
chapter, a throne is given Him above the waters. He had this Koran
written by a secretary, as kings have their orders. He sent this same
Koran to Mahomet by the angel Gabriel, as kings communicate their orders
through the great officers of the crown. In short, although God is
declared in the Koran to be neither begetting nor begotten, there is,
nevertheless a morsel of anthropomorphism. In the Greek and Latin
Churches, God has always been painted with a great beard.


The reading of the whole poem of the late Cardinal Polignac has
confirmed me in the idea which I formed of it when he read to me the
first book. I am moreover astonished, that amidst the dissipations of
the world and the troubles in public life, he should have been able to
write a long work in verse, in a foreign language; he, who could hardly
have made four good lines in his own tongue. It seems to me that he
often united the strength of Lucretius and the elegance of Virgil. I
admire him, above all, for that facility with which he expresses such
difficult things.

Perhaps, indeed, his "Anti-Lucretius" is too diffuse, and too little
diversified, but he is here to be examined as a philosopher, not as a
poet. It appears to me that so fine a mind as his should have done more
justice to the morals of Epicurus, who, though he was a very bad
natural philosopher, was, nevertheless, a very worthy man and always
taught mildness, temperance, moderation, and justice, virtues which his
example inculcated still more forcibly.

In the "Anti-Lucretius," this great man is thus apostrophized:

     _Si virtutis eras avidus, rectique bonique_
     _Tam sitiens, quid relligio tibi sancta nocebat?_
     _Aspera quippe nimis visa est. Asperrima certe_
     _Gaudenti vitiis, sed non virtutis amanti._
     _Ergo perfugium culpa, solisque benignus_
     _Periuris ac fœdifragis, Epicure, parabas._
     _So lam hominum faecem poteras, devotaque fureis_
     _Corpora, etc._

     If virtue, justice, goodness, were thy care,
     Why didst thou tremble at Religion's call?--
     Whose laws are harsh to vicious minds alone--
     Not to the spirit that delights in virtue.
     No, no--the worst of men, the worst of crimes
     Has thy solicitude--thy dearest aim
     To find a refuge for the guilty soul, etc.

But Epicurus might reply to the cardinal: "If I had had the happiness of
knowing, like you, the true God, of being born, like you, in a pure and
holy religion, I should certainly not have rejected that revealed God,
whose tenets were necessarily unknown to my mind, but whose morality was
in my heart. I could not admit the existence of such gods as were
announced to me by paganism. I was too rational to adore divinities,
made to spring from a father and a mother, like mortals, and like them,
to make war upon one another. I was too great a friend to virtue not to
hate a religion which now invited to crime by the example of those gods
themselves, and now sold for money the remission of the most horrible
enormities. I beheld, on one hand, infatuated men, stained with vices,
and seeking to purify themselves before impure gods; and on the other,
knaves who boasted that they could justify the most perverse by
initiating them in mysteries, by dropping bullock's blood on their
heads, or by dipping them in the waters of the Ganges. I beheld the most
unjust wars undertaken with perfect sanctity, so soon as a ram's liver
was found unspotted, or a woman, with hair dishevelled and rolling eyes,
uttered words of which neither she nor any one else knew the meaning. In
short, I beheld all the countries of the earth stained with the blood of
human victims, sacrificed by barbarous pontiffs to barbarous gods. I
consider that I did well to detest such religions. Mine is virtue. I
exhorted my disciples not to meddle with the affairs of this world,
because they were horribly governed. A true Epicurean was mild,
moderate, just, amiable--a man of whom no society had to complain--one
who did not pay executioners to assassinate in public those who thought
differently from himself. From hence to the holy religion in which you
have been bred there is but one step. I destroyed the false gods, and,
had I lived in your day, I would have recognized the true ones."

Thus might Epicurus justify himself concerning his error. He might even
entitle himself to pardon respecting the dogma of the immortality of the
soul, by saying: "Pity me for having combated a truth which God revealed
five hundred years after my birth. I thought like all the first Pagan
legislators of the world; and they were all ignorant of this truth."

I wish, then, that Cardinal Polignac had pitied while he condemned
Epicurus; it would have been no detriment to fine poetry. With regard to
physics it appears to me that the author has lost much time and many
verses in refuting the declination of atoms and the other absurdities
which swarm in the poem of Lucretius. This is employing artillery to
destroy a cottage. Besides, why remove Lucretius' reveries to substitute
those of Descartes?

Cardinal Polignac has inserted in his poem some very fine lines on the
discoveries of Newton; but in these, unfortunately for himself, he
combats demonstrated truths. The philosophy of Newton is not to be
discussed in verse; it is scarcely to be approached in prose. Founded
altogether on geometry, the genius of poetry is not fit to assail it.
The surface of these truths may be decorated with fine verses but to
fathom them, calculation is requisite, and not verse.



Have you not sometimes seen, in a village, Pierre Aoudri and his wife
Peronelle striving to go before their neighbors in a procession? "Our
grandfathers," say they, "rung the bells before those who elbow us now
had so much as a stable of their own."

The vanity of Pierre Aoudri, his wife, and his neighbors knows no
better. They grow warm. The quarrel is an important one, for honor is in
question. Proofs must now be found. Some learned churchsinger discovers
an old rusty iron pot, marked with an A, the initial of the brazier's
name who made the pot. Pierre Aoudri persuades himself that it was the
helmet of one of his ancestors. So Cæsar descended from a hero and from
the goddess Venus. Such is the history of nations; such is, very nearly,
the knowledge of early antiquity.

The learned of Armenia demonstrate that the terrestrial paradise was in
their country. Some profound Swedes demonstrate that it was somewhere
about Lake Wenner, which exhibits visible remains of it. Some Spaniards,
too, demonstrate that it was in Castile. While the Japanese, the
Chinese, the Tartars, the Indians, the Africans, and the Americans, are
so unfortunate as not even to know that a terrestrial paradise once
existed at the sources of the Pison, the Gihon, the Tigris, and the
Euphrates, or, which is the same thing, at the sources of the
Guadalquivir, the Guadiana, the Douro, and the Ebro. For of Pison we
easily make Phæris, and of Phæris we easily make the Bætis, which is the
Guadalquivir. The Gihon, it is plain, is the Guadiana, for they both
begin with a G. And the Ebro, which is in Catalonia, is unquestionably
the Euphrates, both beginning with an E.

But a Scotchman comes, and in his turn demonstrates that the garden of
Eden was at Edinburgh, which has retained its name; and it is not
unlikely that, in a few centuries, this opinion will prevail.

The whole globe was once burned, says a man conversant with ancient and
modern history; for I have read in a journal that charcoal quite black
has been found a hundred feet deep, among mountains covered with wood.
And it is also suspected that there were charcoal-burners in this place.

Phaeton's adventure sufficiently shows that everything has been boiled,
even to the bottom of the sea. The sulphur of Mount Vesuvius
incontrovertibly proves that the banks of the Rhine, the Danube, the
Ganges, the Nile, and the Great Yellow River, are nothing but sulphur,
nitre, and oil of guiacum, which only wait for the moment of explosion
to reduce the earth to ashes, as it has already once been. The sand on
which we walk is an evident proof that the universe has vitrified, and
that our globe is nothing but a ball of glass--like our ideas.

But if fire has changed our globe, water has produced still more
wonderful revolutions. For it is plain that the sea, the tides of which
in our latitudes rise eight feet, has produced the mountains, which are
sixteen to seventeen thousand feet high. This is so true that some
learned men, who never were in Switzerland, found a large vessel there,
with all its rigging, petrified, either on Mount St. Gothard or at the
bottom of a precipice--it is not positively known which; but it is quite
certain that it was there. Therefore, men were originally

Coming down to antiquity less ancient let us speak of the times when
most barbarous nations quitted their own countries to seek others which
were not much better. It is true, if there be anything true in ancient
history, that there were Gaulish robbers who went to plunder Rome in the
time of Camillus. Other robbers from Gaul had, it is said, passed
through Illyria to sell their services as murderers to other murderers
in the neighborhood of Thrace: they bartered their blood for bread, and
at length settled in Galatia. But who were these Gauls? Were they
natives of Berry and Anjou? They were, doubtless, some of those
Gauls whom the Romans called Cisalpine, and whom we call
Transalpine--famishing mountaineers, inhabiting the Alps and the
Apennines. The Gauls of the Seine and the Marne did not then know that
Rome existed, and could not resolve to cross Mont Cenis, as was
afterwards done by Hannibal, to steal the wardrobes of the Roman
senators, whose only movables were a gown of bad grey cloth, decorated
with a band, the color of bull's blood, two small knobs of ivory, or
rather dog's bone, fixed to the arms of a wooden chair, and a piece of
rancid bacon in their kitchens.

The Gauls, who were dying of hunger, finding nothing to eat at home,
went to try their fortune farther off; as the Romans afterwards did when
they ravaged so many countries, and as the people of the North did at a
later period when they destroyed the Roman Empire.

And whence have we received our vague information respecting these
emigrations? From some lines written at a venture by the Romans; for, as
for the Celts, Welsh, or Gauls, whom some would have us believe to have
been eloquent, neither they nor their bards could at that time read or

But, to infer from these that the Gauls or Celts, afterwards conquered
by a few of Cæsar's legions, then by a horde of Goths, then by a horde
of Burgundians, and lastly by a horde of Sicambri, under one Clodovic,
had before subjugated the whole earth, and given their names and their
laws to Asia, seems to me to be inferring a great deal. The thing,
however, is not mathematically impossible; and if it be demonstrated, I
assent: it would be very uncivil to refuse to the Welsh what is granted
to the Tartars.


_On the Antiquity of Usages._

Who have been the greatest fools, and who the most ancient fools?
Ourselves or the Egyptians, or the Syrians or some other people? What
was signified by our mistletoe? Who first consecrated a cat? It must have
been he who was the most troubled with mice. In what nation did they
first dance under the boughs of trees in honor of the gods? Who first
made processions, and placed fools, with caps and bells, at the head of
them? Who first carried a priapus through the streets, and fixed one
like a knocker at the door? What Arab first took it into his head to
hang his wife's drawers out at the window, the day after his marriage?

All nations have formerly danced at the time of the new moon. Did they
then give one another the word? No; no more than they did to rejoice at
the birth of a son, or to mourn, or seem to mourn, at the death of a
father. Every one is very glad to see the moon again, after having lost
her for several nights. There are a hundred usages so natural to all
men, that it cannot be said the Biscayans taught them to the Phrygians,
or the Phrygians to the Biscayans.

Fire and water have been used in temples. This custom needed no
introduction. A priest did not choose always to have his hands dirty.
Fire was necessary to cook the immolated carcasses, and to burn slips of
resinous wood and spices, in order to combat the odor of the sacerdotal

But the mysterious ceremonies which it is so difficult to understand,
the usages which nature does not teach--in what place, when, where, how,
why, were they invented? Who communicated them to other nations? It is
not likely that it should, at the same time, have entered the head of an
Arab and of an Egyptian to cut off one end of his son's prepuce; nor
that a Chinese and a Persian should, both at once, have resolved to
castrate little boys.

It can never have been that two fathers, in different countries, have,
at the same moment, formed the idea of cutting their sons' throats to
please God. Some nations must have communicated to others their follies,
serious, ridiculous, or barbarous. In this antiquity men love to search,
to discover, if possible, the first madman and the first scoundrel who
perverted human nature.

But how are we to know whether Jehu, in Phœnicia, by immolating his
son, was the inventor of sacrifices of human blood? How can we be
assured that Lycaon was the first who ate human flesh, when we do not
know who first began to eat fowls?

We seek to know the origin of ancient feasts. The most ancient and the
finest is that of the emperors of China tilling and sowing the ground,
together with their first mandarins. The second is that of the
Thesmophoria at Athens. To celebrate at once agriculture and justice, to
show men how necessary they both are, to unite the curb of law with the
art which is the source of all wealth--nothing is more wise, more pious,
or more useful.

There are old allegorical feasts to be found everywhere, as those of the
return of the seasons. It was not necessary that one nation should come
from afar off to teach another that marks of joy and friendship for
one's neighbors may be given on the first day of the year. This custom
has been that of every people. The Saturnalia of the Romans are better
known than those of the Allobroges and the Picts; because there are
many Roman writings and monuments remaining, but there are none of the
other nations of western Europe.

The feast of Saturn was the feast of Time. He had four wings; time flies
quickly--his two faces evidently signifying the concluded and the
commencing year. The Greeks said that he had devoured his father and
that he devoured his children. No allegory is more reasonable. Time
devours the past and the present, and will devour the future.

Why seek for vain and gloomy explanations of a feast so universal, so
gay, and so well known? When I look well into antiquity, I do not find a
single annual festival of a melancholy character; or, at least, if they
begin with lamentations, they end in dancing and revelry. If tears are
shed for Adoni or Adonai, whom we call Adonis, he is soon resuscitated,
and rejoicing takes place. It is the same with the feasts of Isis,
Osiris, and Horus. The Greeks, too, did as much for Ceres as for
Prosperine. The death of the serpent Python was celebrated with gayety.
A feast day and a day of joy were one and the same thing. At the feasts
of Bacchus this joy was only carried too far.

I do not find one general commemoration of an unfortunate event. The
institutors of the feasts would have shown themselves to be devoid of
common sense if they had established at Athens a celebration of the
battle lost at Chæronea, and at Rome another of the battle of Cannae.

They perpetuated the remembrance of what might encourage men, and not of
that which might fill them with cowardice or despair. This is so true
that fables were invented for the purpose of instituting feasts. Castor
and Pollux did not fight for the Romans near Lake Regillus; but, at the
end of three or four hundred years, some priests said so, and all the
people danced. Hercules did not deliver Greece from a hydra with seven
heads; but Hercules and his hydra were sung.


_Festivals Founded on Chimeras._

I do not know that there was, in all antiquity, a single festival
founded on an established fact. It has been elsewhere remarked how
extremely ridiculous those schoolmen appear who say to you, with a
magisterial air: "Here is an ancient hymn in honor of Apollo, who
visited Claros; therefore Apollo went to Claros; a chapel was erected to
Perseus; therefore he delivered Andromeda." Poor men! You should rather
say, therefore there was no Andromeda.

But what, then, will become of that learned antiquity which preceded the
olympiads? It will become what it is--an unknown time, a time lost, a
time of allegories and lies, a time regarded with contempt by the wise,
and profoundly discussed by blockheads, who like to float in a _void_,
like Epicurus' atoms.

There were everywhere days of penance, days of expiation in the temples;
but these days were never called by a name answering to that of
_feasts_. Every feast-day was sacred to diversion; so true is this that
the Egyptian priests fasted on the eve in order to eat the more on the
morrow--a custom which our monks have preserved. There were, no doubt,
mournful ceremonies. It was not customary to dance the Greek brawl while
interring or carrying to the funeral pile a son or a daughter; this was
a public ceremony, but certainly not a feast.


_On the Antiquity of Feasts, Which, It has been Asserted, were Always

Men of ingenuity, profound searchers into antiquity, who would know how
the earth was made a hundred thousand years ago, if genius could
discover it, have asserted that mankind, reduced to a very small number
in both continents, and still terrified at the innumerable revolutions
which this sad globe had undergone, perpetuated the remembrance of their
calamities by dismal and mournful commemorations.

"Every feast," say they, "was a day of horror, instituted to remind men
that their fathers had been destroyed by the fires of the volcanoes, by
rocks falling from the mountains, by eruptions of the sea, by the teeth
and claws of wild beasts, by war, pestilence and famine."

Then we are not made as men were then. There was never so much rejoicing
in London as after the plague and the burning of the whole city in the
reign of Charles II. We made songs while the massacres of Bartholomew
were still going on. Some pasquinades have been preserved which were
made the day after the assassination of Coligni; there was printed in
Paris, _Passio Domini nostri Gaspardi Colignii secundum Bartholomæum_.

It has a thousand times happened that the sultan who reigns in
Constantinople has made his eunuchs and odalisks dance in apartments
stained with the blood of his brothers and his viziers. What do the
people of Paris do on the very day that they are apprised of the loss of
a battle and the death of a hundred brave officers? They run to the play
and the opera.

What did they when the wife of Marshal d'Ancre was given up in the Grève
to the barbarity of her persecutors? When Marshal de Marillac was
dragged to execution in a wagon, by virtue of a paper signed by robed
lackeys in Cardinal de Richelieu's ante-chamber? When a
lieutenant-general of the army, a foreigner, who had shed his blood for
the state, condemned by the cries of his infuriated enemies, was led to
the scaffold in a dung-cart, with a gag in his mouth? When a young man
of nineteen, full of candor, courage and modesty, but very imprudent,
was carried to the most dreadful of punishments? They sang vaudevilles.
Such is man, at least man on the banks of the Seine. Such has he been
at all times, for the same reason that rabbits have always had hair, and
larks feathers.


_On the Origin of the Arts._

What! we would know the precise theology--of Thoth, Zerdusht, or
Sanchoniathon, although we know not who invented the shuttle. The first
weaver, the first mason, the first smith were undoubtedly great
geniuses; yet no account has been made of them. And why? Because not one
of them invented a perfect art. He who first hollowed the trunk of an
oak for the purpose of crossing a river did not build galleys; nor did
they who piled up unhewn stones, and laid pieces of wood across them,
dream of the pyramids. Everything is done by degrees, and the glory
belongs to no one.

All was done in the dark, until philosophers, aided by geometry, taught
men to proceed with accuracy and safety.

It was left for Pythagoras, on his return from his travels, to show
workmen the way to make an exact square. He took three rules: one three,
one four, and one five feet long, and with these he made a right-angled
triangle. Moreover, it was found that the side 5 furnished a square just
equal to the two squares produced by the sides 4 and 3; a method of
importance in all regular works.

This is the famous theorem which he had brought from India, and which
we have elsewhere said was known in China long before, according to the
relation of the Emperor Cam-hi. Long before Plato, the Greeks made use
of a single geometrical figure to double the square.

Archytas and Erastothenes invented a method of doubling the cube, which
was impracticable by ordinary geometry, and which would have done honor
to Archimedes.

This Archimedes found the method of calculating exactly the quantity of
alloy mixed with gold; for gold had been worked for ages before the
fraud of the workers could be discovered. Knavery existed long before
mathematics. The pyramids, built with the square, and corresponding
exactly with the four cardinal points, sufficiently show that geometry
was known in Egypt from time immemorial; and yet it is proved that Egypt
is quite a new country.

Without philosophy we should be little above the animals that dig or
erect their habitations, prepare their food in them, take care of their
little ones in their dwellings, and have besides the good fortune, which
we have not, of being born ready clothed. Vitruvius, who had travelled
in Gaul and Spain, tells us that in his time the houses were built of a
sort of mortar, covered with thatch or oak shingles, and that the people
did not make use of tiles. What was the time of Vitruvius? It was that
of Augustus. The arts had scarcely yet reached the Spaniards, who had
mines of gold and silver; or the Gauls, who had fought for ten years
against Cæsar.

The same Vitruvius informs us that in the opulent and ingenious town of
Marseilles, which traded with so many nations, the roofs were only of a
kind of clay mixed with straw.

He says that the Phrygians dug themselves habitations in the ground;
they stuck poles round the hollow, brought them together at the top, and
laid earth over them. The Hurons and the Algonquins are better lodged.
This gives us no very lofty idea of Troy, built by the gods, and the
palace of Priam:

     _Apparet domus intus, et atria longa patescunt;_
     _Apparent Priami et veterum penetralia regum._

     A mighty breach is made; the rooms concealed
     Appear, and all the palace is revealed--
     The halls of audience, and of public state.--DRYDEN.

To be sure, the people are not lodged like kings; huts are to be seen
near the Vatican and near Versailles. Besides, industry rises and falls
among nations by a thousand revolutions:

     _Et campus ubi Troja fuit._
     ....the plain where Troy once stood.

We have our arts, the ancients had theirs. We could not make a galley
with three benches of oars, but we can build ships with a hundred pieces
of cannon. We cannot raise obelisks a hundred feet high in a single
piece, but our meridians are more exact. The byssus is unknown to us,
but the stuffs of Lyons are more valuable. The Capitol was worthy of
admiration, the church of St. Peter is larger and more beautiful. The
Louvre is a masterpiece when compared with the palace of Persepolis, the
situation and ruins of which do but tell of a vast monument to barbaric
wealth. Rameau's music is probably better than that of Timotheus; and
there is not a picture presented at Paris in the Hall of Apollo (salon
d'Apollon) which does not excel the paintings dug out of Herculaneum.


Was the ox Apis worshipped at Memphis as a god, as a symbol, or as an
ox? It is likely that the fanatics regarded him as a god, the wise as
merely a symbol, and that the more stupid part of the people worshipped
the ox. Did Cambyses do right in killing this ox with his own hand? Why
not? He showed to the imbecile that their god might be put on the spit
without nature's arming herself to avenge the sacrilege. The Egyptians
have been much extolled. I have not heard of a more miserable people.
There must always have been in their character, and in their government,
some radical vice which has constantly made vile slaves of them. Let it
be granted that in times almost unknown they conquered the earth; but in
historical times they have been subjugated by all who have chosen to
take the trouble--by the Assyrians, by the Greeks, by the Romans, by the
Arabs, by the Mamelukes, by the Turks, by all, in short, but our
crusaders, who were even more ill-advised than the Egyptians were
cowardly. It was the Mameluke militia that beat the French under St.
Louis. There are, perhaps, but two things tolerable in this nation; the
first is, that those who worshipped an ox never sought to compel those
who adored an ape to change their religion; the second, that they have
always hatched chickens in ovens.

[Illustration: A vast monument to barbaric wealth.]

We are told of their pyramids; but they are monuments of an enslaved
people. The whole nation must have been set to work on them, or those
unsightly masses could never have been raised. And for what use were
they? To preserve in a small chamber the mummy of some prince, or
governor, or intendant, which his soul was to reanimate at the end of a
thousand years. But if they looked forward to this resurrection of the
body, why did they take out the brains before embalming them? Were the
Egyptians to be resuscitated without brains?



Justin the Martyr, who wrote about the year 270 of the Christian era,
was the first who spoke of the Apocalypse; he attributes it to the
apostle John the Evangelist. In his dialogue with Tryphon, that Jew asks
him if he does not believe that Jerusalem is one day to be
re-established? Justin answers that he believes it, as all Christians do
who think aright. "There was among us," says he, "a certain person
named John, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus; he foretold that the
faithful shall pass a thousand years in Jerusalem."

The belief in this reign of a thousand years was long prevalent among
the Christians. This period was also in great credit among the Gentiles.
The souls of the Egyptians returned to their bodies at the end of a
thousand years; and, according to Virgil, the souls in purgatory were
exorcised for the same space of time--_et mille per annos_. The New
Jerusalem of a thousand years was to have twelve gates, in memory of the
twelve apostles; its form was to be square; its length, breadth, and
height were each to be a thousand stadii--_i.e._, five hundred leagues;
so that the houses were to be five hundred leagues high. It would be
rather disagreeable to live in the upper story; but we find all this in
the twenty-first chapter of the Apocalypse.

If Justin was the first who attributed the Apocalypse to St. John, some
persons have rejected his testimony; because in the same dialogue with
the Jew Tryphon he says that, according to the relation of the apostles,
Jesus Christ, when he went into the Jordan, made the water boil, which,
however, is not to be found in any writing of the apostles.

The same St. Justin confidently cites the oracles of Sibyls; he moreover
pretends to have seen the remains of the places in which the seventy-two
interpreters were confined in the Egyptian pharos, in Herod's time. The
testimony of a man who had had the misfortune to see these places seems
to indicate that he might possibly have been confined there himself.

St. Irenæus, who comes afterwards, and who also believed in the reign of
a thousand years, tells us that he learned from an old man that St. John
wrote the Apocalypse. But St. Irenæus is reproached with having written
that there should be but four gospels, because there are but four
quarters of the world, and four cardinal points, and Ezekiel saw but
four animals. He calls this reasoning a demonstration. It must be
confessed that Irenæus's method of demonstrating is quite worthy of
Justin's power of sight.

Clement of Alexandria, in his _"Electa"_ mentions only an Apocalypse of
St. Peter, to which great importance was attached. Tertullian, a great
partisan of the thousand years' reign, not only assures us that St. John
foretold this resurrection and reign of a thousand years in the city of
Jerusalem, but also asserts that this Jerusalem was already beginning to
form itself in the air, where it had been seen by all the Christians of
Palestine, and even by the Pagans, at the latter end of the night, for
forty nights successively; but, unfortunately, the city always
disappeared as soon as it was daylight.

Origen, in his preface to St. John's Gospel, and in his homilies, quotes
the oracles of the Apocalypse, but he likewise quotes the oracles of
Sibyls. And St. Dionysius of Alexandria, who wrote about the middle of
the third century, says, in one of his fragments preserved by Eusebius,
that nearly all the doctors rejected the Apocalypse as a book devoid of
reason, and that this book was composed, not by St. John, but by one
Cerinthus, who made use of a great name to give more weight to his

The Council of Laodicea, held in 360, did not reckon the Apocalypse
among the canonical books. It is very singular that Laodicea, one of the
churches to which the Apocalypse was addressed, should have rejected a
treasure designed for itself, and that the bishop of Ephesus, who
attended the council, should also have rejected this book of St. John,
who was buried at Ephesus.

It was visible to all eyes that St. John was continually turning about
in his grave, causing a constant rising and falling of the earth. Yet
the same persons who were sure that St. John was not quite dead were
also sure that he had not written the Apocalypse. But those who were for
the thousand years' reign were unshaken in their opinion. Sulpicius
Severus, in his "Sacred History," book xi., treats as mad and impious
those who did not receive the Apocalypse. At length, after numerous
oppositions of council to council, the opinion of Sulpicius Severus
prevailed. The matter having been thus cleared up, the Church came to
the decision, from which there is no appeal, that the Apocalypse is
incontestably St. John's.

Every Christian communion has applied to itself the prophecies contained
in this book. The English have found in it the revolutions of Great
Britain; the Lutherans, the troubles of Germany; the French reformers,
the reign of Charles IX., and the regency of Catherine de Medici, and
they are all equally right. Bossuet and Newton have both commented on
the Apocalypse, yet, after all, the eloquent declamations of the one,
and the sublime discoveries of the other, have done them greater honor
than their commentaries.


Two great men, but very different in their greatness, have commented on
the Apocalypse in the seventeenth century: Newton, to whom such a study
was very ill suited, and Bossuet, who was better fitted for the
undertaking. Both gave additional weapons to their enemies, by their
commentaries, and, as has elsewhere been said, the former consoled
mankind for his superiority over them, while the latter made his enemies

The Catholics and the Protestants have both explained the Apocalypse in
their favor, and have each found in it exactly what has accorded with
their interests. They have made wonderful commentaries on the great
beast with seven heads and ten horns, with the hair of a leopard, the
feet of a bear, the throat of a lion, the strength of a dragon, and to
buy and sell it was necessary to have the character and number of the
beast, which number was 666.

Bossuet finds that this beast was evidently the Emperor Diocletian, by
making an acrostic of his name. Grotius believed that it was Trajan. A
curate of St. Sulpice, named La Chétardie, known from some strange
adventures, proves that the beast was Julian. Jurieu proves that the
beast is the pope. One preacher has demonstrated that it was Louis XIV.
A good Catholic has demonstrated that it was William, king of England.
It is not easy to make them all agree.

There have been warm disputes concerning the stars which fell from
heaven to earth, and the sun and moon, which were struck with darkness
in their third parts.

There are several opinions respecting the book that the angel made the
author of the Apocalypse eat, which book was sweet to the mouth and
bitter to the stomach. Jurieu asserted that the books of his adversary
were designated thereby, and his argument was retorted upon himself.

There have been disputes about this verse: "And I heard a voice from
heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great
thunder; and I heard the voice of harpers harping on their harps."

It is quite clear that it would have been better to have respected the
Apocalypse than to have commented upon it.

Camus, bishop of Bellay, printed in the last century a large book
against the monks, which an unfrocked monk abridged. It was entitled
"Apocalypse," because in it he exposed the dangers and defects of the
monastic life; and "Melito's Apocalypse" (_"Apocalypse de Méliton?"_),
because Melito, bishop of Sardis, in the second century, had passed for
a prophet. This bishop's work has none of the obscurities of St. John's
Apocalypse. Nothing was ever clearer. The bishop is like a magistrate
saying to an attorney, "You are a forger and a cheat--do you comprehend

The bishop of Bellay computes, in his Apocalypse or Revelations, that
there were in his time ninety-eight orders of monks endowed or
mendicant, living at the expense of the people, without employing
themselves in the smallest labor. He reckoned six hundred thousand monks
in Europe. The calculation was a little strained; but it is certain that
the real number of the monks was rather too large.

He assures us that the monks are enemies to the bishops, curates, and
magistrates; that, among the privileges granted to the Cordeliers, the
sixth privilege is the certainty of being saved, whatever horrible crime
you may have committed, provided you belong to the Order of St. Francis;
that the monks are like apes; the higher they climb, the plainer you see
their posteriors; that the name of _monk_ has become so infamous and
execrable that it is regarded by the monks themselves as a foul reproach
and the most violent insult that can be offered them.

My dear reader, whoever you are, minister or magistrate, consider
attentively the following short extract from our bishop's book:

"Figure to yourself the convent of the Escorial or of Monte Cassino,
where the cœnobites have everything necessary, useful, delightful,
superfluous and superabundant--since they have their yearly revenue of a
hundred and fifty thousand, four hundred thousand, or five hundred
thousand crowns; and judge whether Monsieur l'Abbé has wherewithal to
allow himself and those under him to sleep after dinner.

"Then imagine an artisan or laborer, with no dependence except on the
work of his hands, and burdened with a large family, toiling like a
slave every day and at all seasons, to feed them with the bread of
sorrow and the water of tears; and say, which of the two conditions is
pre-eminent in poverty."

This is a passage from the "Episcopal Apocalypse" which needs no
commentary. All that is wanted is an angel to come and fill his cup with
the wine of the monks, to slake the thirst of the laborers who plow,
sow, and reap, for the monasteries.

But this prelate, instead of writing a useful book, only composed a
satire. Consistently with his dignity, he should have stated the good as
well as evil. He should have acknowledged that the Benedictines have
produced many good works, and that the Jesuits have rendered great
services to literature. He might have blessed the brethren of La
Charité, and those of the Redemption of the Captives. Our first duty is
to be just. Camus gave too much scope to his imagination. St. François
de Sales advised him to write moral romances; but he abused the advice.


These are heretics who might pass for other than Christians. However,
they acknowledge Jesus as Saviour and Mediator; but they dare to
maintain that nothing is more contrary to right reason than what is
taught among Christians concerning the Trinity of persons in one only
divine essence, of whom the second is begotten by the first, and the
third proceeds from the other two; that this unintelligible doctrine is
not to be found in any part of Scripture; that no passage can be
produced which authorizes it; or to which, without in any wise departing
from the spirit of the text, a sense cannot be given more clear, more
natural, or more conformable to common notions, and to primitive and
immutable truths; that to maintain, as the orthodox do, that in the
divine essence there are several distinct persons, and that the Eternal
is not the only true God, but that the Son and the Holy Ghost must be
joined with Him, is to introduce into the Church of Christ an error the
most gross and dangerous, since it is openly to favor polytheism; that
it implies a contradiction, to say that there is but one God, and that,
nevertheless, there are three _persons_, each of which is truly God;
that this distinction, of _one_ in _essence_, and _three_ in _person_,
was never in Scripture; that it is manifestly false, since it is certain
that there are no fewer essences than persons, nor persons than
essences; that the three persons of the Trinity are either three
different substances, or accidents of the divine essence, or that
essence itself without distinction; that, in the first place, you make
three Gods; that, in the second, God is composed of accidents; you adore
accidents, and metamorphose accidents into persons; that, in the third,
you unfoundedly and to no purpose divide an indivisible subject, and
distinguish into _three_ that which within itself has no distinction;
that if it be said that the three personalities are neither different
substances in the divine essence, nor accidents of that essence, it will
be difficult to persuade ourselves that they are anything at all; that
it must not be believed that the most rigid and decided Trinitarians
have themselves any clear idea of the way in which the three
_hypostases_ subsist in God, without dividing His substance, and
consequently without multiplying it; that St. Augustine himself, after
advancing on this subject a thousand reasonings alike dark and false,
was forced to confess that nothing intelligible could be said about the
matter; they then repeat the passage by this father, which is, indeed, a
very singular one: "When," says he, "it is asked what are _the three_,
the language of man fails and terms are wanting to express them."
"_Three persons_, has, however, been said--not for the purpose of
expressing anything, but in order to say something and not remain mute."
_"Dictum est tres personæ, non ut aliquid diceretur, sed ne
taceretur"._--De Trinit. lib. v. cap. 9; that modern theologians have
cleared up this matter no better; that, when they are asked what they
understand by the word _person_, they explain themselves only by saying
that it is a certain incomprehensible distinction by which are
distinguished in one nature only, a Father, a Son, and a Holy Ghost;
that the explanation which they give of the terms _begetting_ and
_proceeding_, is no more satisfactory, since it reduces itself to saying
that these terms indicate certain incomprehensible relations existing
among the three persons of the Trinity; that it may be hence gathered
that the state of the question between them and the orthodox is to know
whether there are in God three distinctions, of which no one has any
definite idea, and among which there are certain relations of which no
one has any more idea.

From all this they conclude that it would be wiser to abide by the
testimony of the apostles, who never spoke of the Trinity, and to banish
from religion forever all terms which are not in the scriptures--as
_trinity_, _person_, _essence_, _hypostasis_, _hypostatic_ and _personal
union_, _incarnation_, _generation_, _proceeding_, and many others of
the same kind; which being absolutely devoid of meaning, since they are
represented by no real existence in nature, can excite in the
understanding none but false, vague, obscure, and undefinable notions.

To this article let us add what Calmet says in his dissertation on the
following passage of the Epistle of John the Evangelist: "For there are
three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy
Ghost; and these three are one; and there are three that bear witness
in earth, the spirit, the water and the blood; and these three are one."
Calmet acknowledges that these two verses are not in any ancient bible;
indeed, it would be very strange if St. John had spoken of the Trinity
in a letter, and said not a word about it in his Gospel. We find no
trace of this dogma, either in the canonical or in the apocryphal
gospels. All these reasons and many others might excuse the
anti-trinitarians, if the councils had not decided. But as the heretics
pay no regard to councils, we know not what measures to take to confound
them. Let us content ourselves with believing and wishing them to



It has been very well remarked that the divine writings might, at one
and the same time, be sacred and apocryphal; sacred, because they had
undoubtedly been dictated by God Himself; apocryphal, because they were
hidden from the nations, and even from the Jewish people.

That they were hidden from the nations before the translation executed
at Alexandria, under the Ptolemies, is an acknowledged truth. Josephus
declares it in the answer to Appian, which he wrote after Appian's
death; and his declaration has not less strength because he seeks to
strengthen it by a fable. He says in his history that the Jewish books
being all-divine, no foreign historian or poet had ever dared to speak
of them. And, immediately after assuring us that no one had ever dared
to mention the Jewish laws, he adds that the historian Theopompus,
having only intended to insert something concerning them in his history,
God struck him with madness for thirty days; but that, having been
informed in a dream that he was mad only because he had wished to know
divine things and make them known to the profane, he asked pardon of
God, who restored him to his senses.

Josephus in the same passage also relates that a poet named Theodectes,
having said a few words about the Jews in his tragedies, became blind,
and that God did not restore his sight until he had done penance.

As for the Jewish people, it is certain that there was a time when they
could not read the divine writings; for it is said in the Second Book of
Kings (chap, xxii., ver. 8), and in the Second Book of Chronicles (chap,
xxxiv., ver. 14), that in the reign of Josias they were unknown, and
that a single copy was accidentally found in the house of the high
priest Hilkiah.

The twelve tribes which were dispersed by Shalmaneser have never
re-appeared; and their books, if they had any, have been lost with them.
The two tribes which were in slavery at Babylon and allowed to return at
the end of seventy years, returned without their books, or at least they
were very scarce and very defective, since Esdras was obliged to
restore them. But although during the Babylonian captivity these books
were apocryphal, that is, hidden or unknown to the people, they were
constantly sacred--they bore the stamp of divinity--they were, as all
the world agrees, the only monument of truth upon earth.

We now give the name of apocrypha to those books which are not worthy of
belief; so subject are languages to change! Catholics and Protestants
agree in regarding as apocryphal in this sense, and in rejecting, the
prayer of Manasseh, king of Judah, contained in the Second Book of
Kings; the Third and Fourth Books of Maccabees; the Fourth Book of
Esdras; although these books were incontestably written by Jews. But it
is denied that the authors were inspired by God, like the Jews.

The other books, rejected by the Protestants only, and consequently
considered by them as not inspired by God Himself, are the Book of
Wisdom, though it is written in the same style as the Proverbs;
Ecclesiasticus, though the style is still the same; the first two books
of Maccabees, though written by a Jew, But they do not believe this Jew
to have been inspired by God--Tobit--although the story is edifying. The
judicious and profound Calmet affirms that a part of this book was
written by Tobit the father, and a part by Tobit the son; and that a
third author added the conclusion of the last chapter, which says that
Tobit the younger expired at the age of one hundred and twenty-seven
years, and that he died rejoicing over the destruction of Nineveh.

The same Calmet, at the end of his preface, has these words: "Neither
the story itself, nor the manner in which it is told, bears any fabulous
or fictitious character. If all Scripture histories, containing anything
of the marvellous or extraordinary, were to be rejected, where is the
sacred book which is to be preserved?"

Judith is another book rejected by the Protestants, although Luther
himself declares that "this book is beautiful, good, holy, useful, the
language of a holy poet and a prophet animated by the Holy Spirit, that
had been his instructor," etc.

It is indeed hard to discover at what time Judith's adventure happened,
or where the town of Bethulia was. The degree of sanctity in Judith's
action has also been disputed; but the book having been declared
canonical by the Council of Trent, all disputes are at an end.

Other books are Baruch, although it is written in the style of all the
other prophets; Esther, of which the Protestants reject only some
additions after the tenth chapter. They admit all the rest of the book;
yet no one knows who King Ahasuerus was, although he is the principal
person in the story; Daniel, in which the Protestants retrench
Susannah's adventure and that of the children in the furnace; but they
retain Nebuchadnezzar's dream and his grazing with the beasts.

_On the Life of Moses, an Apocryphal Book of the Highest Antiquity._

The ancient book which contains the life and death of Moses seems to
have been written at the time of the Babylonian captivity. It was then
that the Jews began to know the names given to the angels by the
Chaldæans and Persians.

Here we see the names of Zinguiel, Samael, Tsakon, Lakah, and many
others of which the Jews had made no mention.

The book of the death of Moses seems to have been written later. It is
known that the Jews had several very ancient lives of Moses and other
books, independently of the Pentateuch. In them he was called Moni, not
Moses; and it is asserted that _mo_ signified _water_, and _ni_ the
particle _of_. He was called by the general name of Melk. He received
those of Joakim, Adamosi, Thetmosi; and it has been thought that he was
the same person whom Mane then calls Ozarziph.

Some of these old Hebrew manuscripts were withdrawn from their covering
of dust in the cabinets of the Jews about the year 1517. The learned
Gilbert Gaumin, who was a perfect master of their language, translated
them into Latin about the year 1535. They were afterwards printed and
dedicated to Cardinal Bérule. The copies have become extremely scarce.

Never were rabbinism, the taste for the marvellous and the imagination
of the orientals displayed to greater excess.

_Fragment of the Life of Moses._

A hundred and thirty years after the settling of the Jews in Egypt, and
sixty years after the death of the patriarch Joseph, Pharaoh, while
sleeping, had a dream. He saw an old man holding a balance; in one scale
were all the inhabitants of Egypt; in the other was an infant, and this
infant weighed more than all the Egyptians together. Pharaoh forthwith
called together his _shotim_, or sages. One of the wise men said: "O
king, this infant is a Jew who will one day do great evil to your
kingdom. Cause all the children of the Jews to be slain; thus shalt thou
save thy empire, if, indeed, the decrees of fate can be opposed."

Pharaoh was pleased with this advice. He sent for the midwives and
ordered them to strangle all the male children of which the Jewesses
were delivered. There was in Egypt a man named Abraham, son of Keath,
husband to Jocabed, sister to his brother. This Jocabed bore him a
daughter named Mary, signifying "persecuted," because the Egyptians,
being descended from Ham, persecuted the Israelites, who were evidently
descended from Shem. Jocabed afterwards brought forth Aaron, signifying
"condemned to death," because Pharaoh had condemned all the Jewish
infants to death. Aaron and Mary were preserved by the angels of the
Lord, who nursed them in the fields and restored them to their parents
when they had reached the period of adolescence.

At length Jocabed had a third child; this was Moses, who, consequently,
was fifteen years younger than his brother. He was exposed on the Nile.
Pharaoh's daughter found him while bathing, had him nursed and adopted
him as her son, although she was not married.

Three years after, her father, Pharaoh, took a fresh wife, on which
occasion he held a great feast. His wife was at his right hand, and at
his left was his daughter, with little Moses. The child, in sport, took
the crown and put it on his head. Balaam, the magician, the king's
eunuch, then recalled his majesty's dream. "Behold," said he, "the child
who is one day to do so much mischief! The spirit of God is in him. What
he has just now done is a proof that he has already formed the design of
dethroning you. He must instantly be put to death." This idea pleased
Pharaoh much.

They were about to kill little Moses when the Lord sent his angel
Gabriel, disguised as one of Pharaoh's officers, to say to him: "My
lord, we should not put to death an innocent child, which is not yet
come to years of discretion; he put on your crown only because he wants
judgment. You have only to let a ruby and a burning coal be presented to
him; if he choose the coal, it is clear that he is a blockhead who will
never do any harm; but if he take the ruby it will be a sign that he
has too much sense to burn his fingers; then let him be slain."

A ruby and a coal were immediately brought. Moses did not fail to take
the ruby; but the angel Gabriel, by a sort of legerdemain, slipped the
coal into the place of the precious stone. Moses put the coal into his
mouth and burned his tongue so horribly that he stammered ever after;
and this was the reason that the Jewish lawgiver could never articulate.

Moses was fifteen years old and a favorite with Pharaoh. A Hebrew came
to complain to him that an Egyptian had beaten him after lying with his
wife. Moses killed the Egyptian. Pharaoh ordered Moses' head to be cut
off. The executioner struck him, but God instantly changed Moses' neck
into a marble column, and sent the angel Michael, who in three days
conducted Moses beyond the frontiers.

The young Hebrew fled to Mecano, king of Ethiopia, who was at war with
the Arabs. Mecano made him his general-in-chief; and, after Mecano's
death, Moses was chosen king and married the widow. But Moses, ashamed
to have married the wife of his lord, dared not to enjoy her, but placed
a sword in the bed between himself and the queen. He lived with her
forty years without touching her. The angry queen at length called
together the states of the kingdom of Ethiopia, complained that Moses
was of no service to her, and concluded by driving him away and placing
on the throne the son of the late king.

Moses fled into the country of Midian, to the priest Jethro. This priest
thought his fortune would be made if he could put Moses into the hands
of Pharaoh of Egypt, and began by confining him in a low cell and
allowing him only bread and water. Moses grew fat in his dungeon, at
which Jethro was quite astonished. He was not aware that his daughter
Sephora had fallen in love with the prisoner, and every day, with her
own hands, carried him partridges and quails, with excellent wine. He
concluded that Moses was protected by God and did not give him up to

However, Jethro the priest wished to have his daughter married. He had
in his garden a tree of sapphire, on which was engraven the word _Jaho_
or _Jehovah_. He caused it to be published throughout the country that
he would give his daughter to him who could tear up the sapphire tree.
Sephora's lovers presented themselves, but none of them could so much as
bend the tree. Moses, who was only seventy-seven years old, tore it up
at once without an effort. He married Sephora, by whom he soon had a
fine boy named Gerson.

As he was one day walking in a small wood, he met God (who had formerly
called Himself Sadai, and then called Himself Jehovah), and God ordered
him to go and work miracles at Pharaoh's court. He set out with his wife
and son. On the way they met an angel (to whom no name is given), who
ordered Sephora to circumcise little Gerson with a knife made of stone.
God sent Aaron on the same errand, but Aaron thought his brother had
done wrong in marrying a Midianite; he called her a very coarse name,
and little Gerson a bastard, and sent them the shortest way back to
their own country.

Aaron and Moses then went to Pharaoh's palace by themselves. The gate of
the palace was guarded by two lions of an enormous size. Balaam, one of
the king's magicians, seeing the two brothers come, set the lions upon
them; but Moses touched them with his rod, and the lions, humbly
prostrating themselves, licked the feet of Aaron and Moses. The king, in
astonishment, had the two pilgrims brought into the presence of all his
magicians, that they might strive which could work the most miracles.

The author here relates the ten plagues of Egypt, nearly as they are
related in Exodus. He only adds that Moses covered all Egypt with lice,
to the depth of a cubit; and that he sent among all the Egyptians lions,
wolves, bears, and tigers, which ran into all the houses,
notwithstanding that the doors were bolted, and devoured all the little

According to this writer, it was not the Jews who fled through the Red
Sea; it was Pharaoh, who fled that way with his army: the Jews ran after
him; the waters separated right and left to see them fight; and all the
Egyptians, except the king, were slain upon the sand. Then the king,
finding that his own was the weaker side, asked pardon of God. Michael
and Gabriel were sent to him and conveyed him to the city of Nineveh,
where he reigned four hundred years.

_The Death of Moses._

God had declared to the people of Israel that they should not go out of
Egypt until they had once more found the tomb of Joseph. Moses found it
and carried it on his shoulders through the Red Sea. God told him that
He would bear in mind this good action and would assist him at the time
of his death. When Moses had lived six score years, God came to announce
to him that he must die and had but three hours more to live. The bad
angel Samael was present at the conversation. As soon as the first hour
had passed he began to laugh for joy that he should so soon carry off
the soul of Moses; and Michael began to weep. "Be not rejoiced, thou
wicked beast," said the good to the bad angel; "Moses is going to die,
but we have Joshua in his stead."

When the three hours had elapsed God commanded Gabriel to take the dying
man's soul. Gabriel begged to be excused. Michael did the same. These
two angels having refused, God addressed Himself to Zinguiel. But this
angel was no more willing to obey than the others. "I," said he, "was
formerly his preceptor, and I will not kill my disciple." Then God,
being angry, said to the bad angel Samael, "Well, then, wicked one, thou
must take his soul." Samael joyfully drew his sword and ran up to Moses.
The dying man rose up in wrath, his eyes sparkling with fire. "What!
thou villain," said Moses, "wouldst thou dare to kill me?--me, who when
a child, put on my head the crown of a Pharaoh; who have worked miracles
at the age of eighty years; who have led sixty millions of men out of
Egypt; who have cut the Red Sea in two; who have conquered two kings so
tall that at the time of the flood they were not knee-deep in water?
Begone, you rascal; leave my presence instantly."

This altercation lasted a few moments longer, during which time Gabriel
prepared a litter to convey the soul of Moses, Michael a purple mantle,
and Zinguiel a cassock. God then laid His hands on Moses' breast and
took away his soul.

It is to this history that St. Jude the apostle alludes in his epistle
when he says that the archangel Michael contended with the devil for the
body of Moses. As this fact is to be found only in the book which I have
just quoted, it is evident that St. Jude had read it, and that he
considered it as a canonical book.

The second history of the death of Moses is likewise a conversation with
God. It is no less pleasant and curious than the first. A part of this
dialogue is as follows:

_Moses._--I pray Thee, O Lord, let me enter the land of promise, at
least for two or three years.

_God._--No; My decree expressly saith that thou shalt not enter it.

_Moses._--Grant, at least, that I may be carried thither after my

_God._--No; neither dead nor alive.

_Moses._--Alas! but, good Lord, thou showest such clemency to Thy
creatures; Thou pardonest them twice or three times; I have sinned but
once, and am not to be forgiven!

_God._--Thou knowest not what thou sayest; thou hast committed six sins.
I remember to have sworn thy death, or the destruction of Israel; one of
the two must be accomplished. If thou wilt live Israel must perish.

_Moses._--O Lord, be not so hasty. All is in Thy hands. Let Moses
perish, rather than one soul in Israel.

After several discourses of this sort, the echo of the mountain says to
Moses, "Thou hast but five hours to live." At the end of five hours God
sends for Gabriel, Zinguiel and Samael. He promises Moses that he shall
be buried and carries away his soul.

When we reflect that nearly the whole earth has been infatuated by
similar stories, and that they have formed the education of mankind, the
fables of Pilpay, Lokman, or Æsop appear quite reasonable.

_Apocryphal Books of the New Law._

There were fifty gospels, all very different from one another, of which
there remain only four entire--that of James, that of Nicodemus, that of
the infancy of Jesus, and that of the birth of Mary. Of the rest we have
nothing more than fragments and slight notices.

The traveller Tournefort, sent into Asia by Louis XIV., informs us that
the Georgians have preserved the gospel of the Infancy, which was
probably communicated to them by the Azmenians.

In the beginning, several of these gospels, now regarded as apocryphal,
were cited as authentic, and were even the only gospels that were cited.
In the Acts of the Apostles we find these words uttered by St. Paul
(chap. xx., ver. 35), "And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He
said, it is more blessed to give than to receive."

St. Barnabas, in his Catholic Epistle (Nos. 4 and 7), makes Jesus Christ
speak thus: "Let us resist all iniquity; let us hate it. Such as would
see Me enter into My kingdom must follow Me through pain and sorrow."

St. Clement, in his second Epistle to the Corinthians, puts these words
into the mouth of Jesus Christ: "If you are assembled in My bosom and do
not follow My commandments, I shall reject you and say to you, 'Depart
from Me; I know you not; depart from Me, ye workers of iniquity.'"

He afterwards attributes to Jesus Christ these words: "Keep your flesh
chaste and the seal unspotted, in order that you may receive eternal

In the Apostolical Constitutions, composed in the second century, we
find these words: "Jesus Christ has said, 'Be ye honest exchange

We find many similar quotations, not one of which is taken from the four
gospels recognized by the Church as the only canonical ones. They are,
for the most part, taken from the gospel according to the Hebrews, a
gospel which was translated by St. Jerome, and is now considered as

St. Clement the Roman says, in his second Epistle: "The Lord, being
asked when his reign should come, answered: 'When two shall make one,
when that which is without shall be within, when the male shall be
female, and when there shall be neither female nor male.'"

These words are taken from the gospel according to the Egyptians; and
the text is repeated entire by St. Clement of Alexandria. But what could
the author of the Egyptian gospels, and what could St. Clement himself
be thinking of? The words which he quotes are injurious to Jesus Christ;
they give us to understand that He did not believe that His reign would
come at all. To say that a thing will take place when two shall make
one, when the male shall be female, is to say that it will never take
place. A passage like this is rabbinical, much rather than evangelical.

There were also two apocryphal Acts of the Apostles. They are quoted by
St. Epiphanius. In these Acts it is related that St. Paul was the son of
an idolatrous father and mother, and turned Jew in order to marry the
daughter of Gamaliel; and that either being refused, or not finding her
a virgin, he took part with the disciples of Jesus. This is nothing less
than blasphemy against St. Paul.

_The Other Apocryphal Books of the First and Second Centuries._


The Book of Enoch, the seventh man after Adam, which mentions the war of
the rebellious angels, under their captain, Samasia, against the
faithful angels led by Michael. The object of the war was to enjoy the
daughters of men, as has been said in the article on "Angel."


The Acts of St. Thecla and St. Paul, written by a disciple named John,
attached to St. Paul. In this history Thecla escapes from her
persecutors to go to St. Paul, disguised as a man. She also baptizes a
lion; but this adventure was afterwards suppressed. Here, too, we have
the portrait of Paul: _Statura brevi, calvastrum, cruribus curvis,
sorosum, superciliis junctis, naso aquilino, plenum gratia Dei._

Although this story was recommended by St. Gregory Nazianzen, St.
Ambrose, St. John Chrysostom, and others, it had no reputation among the
other doctors of the Church.


The Preaching of Peter. This writing is also called the Gospel or
Revelation of Peter. St. Clement of Alexandria speaks of it with great
praise; but it is easy to perceive that some impostor had taken that
apostle's name.


The Acts of Peter, a work equally supposititious.


The Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs. It is doubted whether this book
is by a Jew or a Christian of the primitive ages; for it is said in the
Testament of Levi that at the end of the seventh week there shall come
priests given to idolatry--_bellatores_, _avari_, _scribæ iniqui_,
_impudici_, _puerorum corrupt ores et pecorum_; that there shall then be
a new priesthood; that the heavens shall be opened; and that the glory
of the Most High, and the spirit of intelligence and sanctification,
shall descend upon this new priest; which seems to foretell Jesus


The Letter of Abgarus, a pretended king of Edessa, to Jesus Christ, and
Jesus Christ's answer to King Abgarus. It is, indeed, believed that, in
the time of Tiberius, there was a toparch of Edessa who had passed from
the service of the Persians into that of the Romans, but his epistolary
correspondence has been considered by all good critics as a chimera.


The Acts of Pilate. Pilate's letter to Tiberius on the death of Jesus
Christ The life of Procula, Pilate's wife.


The Acts of Peter and Paul, in which is the history of St. Peter's
quarrel with Simon the magician. Abdias, Marcellus, and Hegesippus have
all three written this story. St. Peter first disputed with Simon which
should resuscitate one of the Emperor Nero's relatives, who had just
died; Simon half restored him, and St. Peter finished the resurrection.
Simon next flew up in the air, but Peter brought him down again, and the
magician broke his legs. The Emperor Nero, incensed at the death of his
magician, had St. Peter crucified with his head downwards, and St. Paul
decapitated, as one of St. Peter's party.


The Acts of Blessed Paul the Apostle and Teacher of the Nations. In this
book St. Paul is made to live at Rome for two years after St. Peter's
death. The author says that when St. Paul's head was cut off there
issued forth milk instead of blood, and that Lucina, a devout woman, had
him buried twenty miles from Rome, on the way to Ostia, at her country


The Acts of the Blessed Apostle Andrew. The author relates that St.
Andrew went to the city of the Myrmidons and that he baptized all the
citizens. A young man named Sostratus, of the town of Amarea, which is
at least better known than that of the Myrmidons, came and said to the
blessed Andrew: "I am so handsome that my mother has conceived a passion
for me. I abhorred so execrable a crime, and have fled. My mother, in
her fury, accuses me to the proconsul of the province of having
attempted to violate her. I can make no answer, for I would rather die
than accuse my mother." While he was yet speaking, the guards of the
proconsul came and seized him. St Andrew accompanied the son before the
judge, and pleaded his cause. The mother, not at all disconcerted,
accused St. Andrew himself of having instigated her son to the crime.
The proconsul immediately ordered St. Andrew to be thrown into the
river; but, the apostle having prayed to God, there came a great
earthquake, and the mother was struck by a thunderbolt.

After several adventures of the same sort the author has St. Andrew
crucified at Patras.


The Acts of St. James the Greater. The author has him condemned to death
at Jerusalem by the pontiff, and, before his crucifixion, he baptizes
the registrar.


The Acts of St. John the Evangelist. The author relates that, at
Ephesus--of which place St. John wast bishop--Drusilla, being converted
by him, desired no more of her husband Andronicus's company, but retired
into a tomb. A young man named Callimachus, in love with her, repeatedly
pressed her, even in her tomb, to consent to the gratification of his
passion. Brasilia, being urged both by her husband and her lover, wished
for death, and obtained it. Callimachus, when informed of her loss, was
still more furious with love; he bribed one of Andronicus's domestics,
who had the keys of the tomb; he ran to it, stripped his mistress of her
shroud, and exclaimed, "What thou wouldst not grant me living, thou
shalt grant me dead," A serpent instantly issued from the tomb; the
young man fainted; the serpent killed him, as also the domestic who was
his accomplice, and coiled itself round his body. St. John arrives with
the husband, and, to their astonishment, they find Callimachus alive.
St. John orders the serpent to depart, and the serpent obeys. He asks
the young man how he has been resuscitated. Callimachus answered that an
angel had appeared to him, saying, "It was necessary that thou shouldst
die in order to revive a Christian." He immediately asked to be
baptized, and begged that John would resuscitate Drusilla. The apostle
having instantly worked this miracle, Callimachus and Drusilla prayed
that he would also be so good as to resuscitate the domestic. The
latter, who was an obstinate pagan, being restored to life, declared
that he would rather die than be a Christian, and, accordingly, he
incontinently died again; on which St. John said that a bad tree always
bears bad fruit.

Aristodemus, high-priest of Ephesus, though struck by such a prodigy,
would not be converted; he said to St. John: "Permit me to poison you;
and, if you do not die, I will be converted." The apostle accepted the
proposal; but he chose that Aristodemus should first poison two
Ephesians condemned to death. Aristodemus immediately presented to them
the poison, and they instantly expired. St. John took the same poison,
which did him no harm. He resuscitated the two dead men, and the
high-priest was converted.

St. John having attained the age of ninety-seven years, Jesus Christ
appeared to him, and said, "It is time for thee to come to My table, and
feast with thy brethren"; and soon after the apostle slept in peace.


The History of the Blessed James the Less, and the brothers Simon and
Jude. These apostles went into Persia, and performed things as
incredible as those related of St. Andrew.


The Acts of St. Matthew, apostle and evangelist. St. Matthew goes into
Ethiopia, to the great town of Nadaver, where he restores to life the
son of Queen Candace, and founds Christian churches.


The Acts of the Blessed Bartholomew in India. Bartholomew went first to
the temple of Astaroth. This goddess delivered oracles, and cured all
diseases. Bartholomew silenced her, and made sick all those whom she had
cured. King Polimius disputed with him; the devil declared, before the
king, that he was conquered, and St. Bartholomew consecrated King
Polimius bishop of the Indies.


The Acts of the Blessed Thomas, apostle of India. St. Thomas entered
India by another road, and worked more miracles than St. Bartholomew. He
at last suffered martyrdom, and appeared to Xiphoro and Susani.


The Acts of the Blessed Philip. He went to preach in Scythia. They
wished to make him a sacrifice to Mars, but he caused a dragon to issue
from the altar and devour the children of the priests. He died at
Hierapolis, at the age of eighty-seven. It is not known what town this
was, for there were several of the name.

All these histories are supposed to have been written by Abdias, bishop
of Babylon, and were translated by Julius Africanus.


To these abuses of the Holy Scriptures was added one less revolting--one
which did not fail in respect for Christianity, like those which have
just been laid before the reader, viz., the Liturgies attributed to St
James, St. Peter, and St. Mark, the falsehood of which has been shown by
the learned Tillemont.


Fabricius places among the apocryphal writings the Homily (attributed to
St. Augustine) on the manner in which the Symbol was formed. But he
certainly does not mean to insinuate that this Symbol or Creed, which we
call the Apostles', is the less true and sacred. It is said in this
Homily, in Rufinus, and afterwards in Isidorus, that ten days after the
ascension, the apostles, being shut up together for fear of the Jews,
Peter said, "I believe in God, the Father Almighty;" Andrew, "and in
Jesus Christ, His only son;" James, "who was conceived by the Holy
Ghost;" and that thus, each apostle having repeated an article, the
Creed was completed.

This story not being in the Acts of the Apostles, our belief in it is
dispensed with--but not our belief in the Creed, of which the apostles
taught the substance. Truth must not suffer from the false ornaments in
which it has been sought to array her.


The Apostolical Constitutions. The Constitutions of the Holy Apostles,
which were formerly supposed to have been digested by St. Clement the
Roman, are now ranked among the apocryphal writings. The reading of a
few chapters is sufficient to show that the apostles had no share in
this work. In the eleventh chapter, women are ordered not to rise before
the ninth hour. In the first chapter of the second book it is desired
that bishops should be learned, but in the time of the apostles there
was no hierarchy--no bishop attached to a single church. They went about
teaching from town to town, from village to village; they were called
_apostles_, not _bishops_; and, above all things, they did not pride
themselves on being learned.

In the second chapter of the second book it is said that a bishop should
have but one wife, to take great care of his household; which only goes
to prove that at the close of the first and the commencement of the
second century, when the hierarchy was beginning to be established, the
priests were married.

Through almost the whole book the bishops are regarded as the judges of
the faithful; but it is well known that the apostles had no

It is said, in chapter xxi., that both parties must be heard; which
supposes an established jurisdiction. In chapter xxvi. it is said, "The
bishop is your prince, your king, your emperor, your God upon earth."
These expressions are somewhat at variance with the humility of the

In chapter xxviii., "At the feasts of the Agapae, there must be given to
the deacon double that which is given to an old woman, and to the priest
double the gift to the deacon, because the priests are the counsellors
of the bishops and the crown of the Church. The reader shall have a
portion, in honor of the prophets, as also the chanter and the
door-keeper. Such of the laity as wish to receive anything shall apply
to the bishop through the deacon." The apostles never used any term
answering to _laity_, or marking the difference between the profane and
the priesthood.

In chapter xxxiv., "You must reverence the bishop as a king, honor him
as a master, and give him your fruits, the works of your hands, your
first fruits, your tenths, your savings, the presents that are made to
you, your corn, your wine, your oil, your wool," etc. This is a strong

In chapter lvii., "Let the church be long; let it look towards the East;
let it resemble a ship; let the bishop's throne be in the middle; let
the reader read the books of Moses, Joshua, Judges, Kings, Chronicles,
Job," etc.

In chapter xvii. of the third book, "Baptism is administered for the
death of Jesus; oil for the Holy Ghost. When we are plunged into the
water, we die; when we come out of it, we revive. The Father is the God
of all. Christ is the only Son of God, his beloved Son, and the Lord of
glory. The Holy Spirit is the Paraclete, sent by Christ the teacher,
preaching Christ Jesus." This doctrine would now be explained in more
canonical terms.

In chapter vii. of the fifth book are quoted some verses of the Sibyls
on the coming of Jesus and the resurrection. This was the first time
that the Christians admitted the verses of the Sibyls, which they
continued to do for more than three hundred years. In chapter v. of the
eighth book are these words: "O God Almighty, give to the bishop,
through Christ, the participation of the Holy Spirit." In chapter iv.,
"Commend yourself to God alone, through Jesus Christ"; which does not
sufficiently express the divinity of our Lord. In chapter xii. is the
Constitution of James, the brother of Zebedee.

In chapter xv. the deacon is to say aloud, "Incline yourselves before
God through Christ." At the present day these expressions are not very


The Apostolical Canons. The sixth canon ordains that no bishop or priest
shall separate himself from his wife on pretence of religion; if he do
so, he is to be excommunicated, and if he persist he is to be driven
away. The seventh--that no priest shall ever meddle with secular
affairs. The nineteenth--that he who has married two sisters shall not
be admitted into the clergy. The twenty-first and twenty-second--that
eunuchs shall be admitted into the priesthood excepting such as have
castrated themselves. Yet Origen was a priest, notwithstanding this law.
The fifty-fifth--that if a bishop, a priest, a deacon, or a clerk eat
flesh which is not clear of blood, he shall be displaced. It is quite
evident that these canons could not be promulgated by the apostles.


The Confessions of St. Clement to James, brother of the Lord, in ten
books, translated from Greek into Latin by Rufinus. This book commences
with a doubt respecting the immortality of the soul: _"Utrumne sit mihi
aliqua vita post mortem, an nihil omnino postea sim futurus"_. St.
Clement, disturbed by this doubt and wishing to know whether the world
was eternal or had been created---whether there were a Tartarus and a
Phlegethon, an Ixion and a Tantalus, etc., resolved to go into Egypt to
learn necromancy, but having heard of St. Bartholomew, who was preaching
Christianity, he went to him in the East, at the time when Barnabas was
celebrating a Jewish feast. He afterwards met St. Peter at Cæsarea, with
Simon the magician and Zacchæus. They disputed together, and St. Peter
related to them all that had passed since the death of Jesus. Clement
turned Christian, but Simon remained a magician.

Simon fell in love with a woman named Luna, and, while waiting to marry
her, he proposed to St. Peter, to Zacchæus, to Lazarus, to Nicodemus, to
Dositheus, and to several others, that they should become his disciples.
Dositheus answered him at once with a blow from a stick; but the stick
having passed through Simon's body as if it had been smoke, Dositheus
worshipped him and became his lieutenant, after which Simon married his
mistress and declared that she was Luna herself, descended from heaven
to marry him.

But enough of the Confessions of St. Clement. It must, however, be
remarked that in the ninth book the Chinese are spoken of under the name
of Seres as the justest and wisest of mankind. After them come the
Brahmins, to whom the author does the justice that was rendered them by
all antiquity. He cites them as models of soberness, mildness, and


St. Peter's Letter to St. James, and St. Clement's Letter to the same
St. James, brother of the Lord, governor of the Holy Church of the
Hebrews at Jerusalem, and of all churches. St. Peter's Letter contains
nothing curious, but St. Clement's is very remarkable. He asserts that
Peter declared him bishop of Rome before his death, and his coadjutor;
that he laid his hands upon his head, and made him sit in the episcopal
chair in the presence of all the faithful; and that he said to him,
"Fail not to write to my brother James as soon as I am dead."

This letter seems to prove that it was not then believed that St. Peter
had suffered martyrdom, since it is probable that this letter,
attributed to St. Clement, would have mentioned the circumstance. It
also proves that Cletus and Anacletus were not reckoned among the
bishops of Rome.


St. Clement's Homilies, to the number of nineteen. He says in his first
homily what he had already said in his confessions--that he went to St.
Peter and St. Barnabas at Cæsarea, to know whether the soul was
immortal, and the world eternal.

In the second homily, No. xxxviii., we find a much more extraordinary
passage. St. Peter himself, speaking of the Old Testament, expresses
himself thus: "The written law contains certain false things against the
law of God, the Creator of heaven and earth; the devil has done this,
for good reasons; it has also come to pass through the judgments of God,
in order to discover such as would listen with pleasure to what is
written against Him," etc.

In the sixth homily St. Clement meets with Appian, the same who had
written against the Jews in the time of Tiberius. He tells Appian that
he is in love with an Egyptian woman and begs that he will write a
letter in his name to his pretended mistress to convince her, by the
example of all the gods, that love is a duty. Appian writes a letter and
St. Clement answers it in the name of his pretended mistress, after
which they dispute on the nature of the gods.


Two Epistles of St. Clement to the Corinthians. It hardly seems just to
have ranked these epistles among the apocryphal writings. Some of the
learned may have declined to recognize them because they speak of "the
phoenix of Arabia, which lives five hundred years, and burns itself in
Egypt in the city of Heliopolis." But there is nothing extraordinary in
St. Clement's having believed this fable which so many others believed,
nor in his having written letters to the Corinthians.

It is known that there was at that time a great dispute between the
church of Corinth and that of Rome. The church of Corinth, which
declared itself to have been founded first, was governed in common;
there was scarcely any distinction between the priests and the
seculars, still less between the priests and the bishop; all alike had a
deliberative voice, so, at least, several of the learned assert. St.
Clement says to the Corinthians in his first epistle: "You have laid the
first foundations of sedition; be subject to your priests, correct
yourselves by penance, bend the knees of your hearts, learn to obey." It
is not at all astonishing that a bishop of Rome should use these

In the second epistle we again find that answer of Jesus Christ, on
being asked when His kingdom of heaven should come: "When two shall make
one, when that which is without shall be within, when the male shall be
female, when there shall be neither male nor female."


Letter from St. Ignatius the martyr to the Virgin Mary, and the Virgin's
answer to St. Ignatius:

"To Mary the Mother of Christ, from her devoted Ignatius: You should
console me, a neophyte, and a disciple of your John. I have heard
several wonderful things of your Jesus, at which I have been much
astonished. I desire with all my heart to be informed of them by you,
who always lived in familiarity with Him and knew all His secrets. Fare
you well. Comfort the neophytes, who are with me from you and through
you. Amen."

"The Holy Virgin's Answer to Her Dear Disciple Ignatius:

"The Humble Servant of Jesus Christ: All the things which you have
learned from John are true; believe in them; persevere in your belief;
keep your vow of Christianity. I will come and see you with John, you
and those who are with you. Be firm in the faith; act like a man; let
not severity and persecution disturb you, but let your spirit be
strengthened and exalted in God your Saviour. Amen."

It is asserted that these letters were written in the year 116 of the
Christian era, but they are not therefore the less false and absurd.
They would even have been an insult to our holy religion had they not
been written in a spirit of simplicity, which renders everything


Fragments of the Apostles. We find in them this passage: "Paul, a man of
short stature, with an aquiline nose and an angelic face. Instructed in
heaven, said to Plantilla, of Rome, before he died: 'Adieu, Plantilla,
thou little plant of eternal salvation; know thy own nobility; thou art
whiter than snow; thou art registered among the soldiers of Christ; thou
art an heiress to the kingdom of heaven.'" This was not worthy to be


There are eleven Apocalypses, which are attributed to the patriarchs and
prophets, to St. Peter, Cerinthus, St. Thomas, St. Stephen the first
martyr, two to St. John, differing from the canonical one, and three to
St. Paul. All these Apocalypses have been eclipsed by that of St. John.


The Visions, Precepts, and Similitudes of Hermas. Hermas seems to have
lived about the close of the first century. They who regard his book as
apocryphal are nevertheless obliged to do justice to his morality. He
begins by saying that his foster-father had sold a young woman at Rome.
Hermas recognized this young woman after the lapse of several years, and
loved her, he says, as if she had been his sister. He one day saw her
bathing in the Tiber; he stretched forth his hand, drew her out of the
river and said in his heart, "How happy should I be if I had a wife like
her in beauty and in manners." Immediately the heavens opened, and he
all at once beheld this same wife, who made him a courtesy from above,
and said, "Good morning, Hermas." This wife was the Christian Church;
she gave him much good advice.

A year after, the spirit transported him to the same place where he had
seen this beauty, who nevertheless was old; but she was fresh in her
age, and was old only because she had been created from the beginning of
the world, and the world had been made for her.

The Book of Precepts contains fewer allegories, but that of Similitudes
contains many. "One day," says Hennas, "when I was fasting and was
seated on a hill, giving thanks to God for all that he had done for me,
a shepherd came, sat down beside me, and said, 'Why have you come here
so early?' 'Because I am going through the stations,' answered I. 'What
is a station?' asked the shepherd. 'It is a fast.' 'And what is this
fast?' 'It is my custom.' 'Ah!' replied the shepherd, 'you know not what
it is to fast; all this is of no avail before God. I will teach you that
which is true fasting and pleasing to the Divinity. Your fasting has
nothing to do with justice and virtue. Serve God with a pure heart; keep
His commandments; admit into your heart no guilty designs. If you have
always the fear of God before your eyes--if you abstain from all evil,
that will be true fasting, that will be the great fast which is
acceptable to God.'"

This philosophical and sublime piety is one of the most singular
monuments of the first century. But it is somewhat strange that, at the
end of the Similitudes, the shepherd gives him very good-natured
maidens--_valde affabiles_--to take care of his house and declares to
him that he cannot fulfil God's commandments without these maidens, who,
it is plain, typify the virtues.

This list would become immense if we were to enter into every detail. We
will carry it no further, but conclude with the Sibyls.


The Sibyls.--What is most apocryphal in the primitive church is the
prodigious number of verses in favor of the Christian religion
attributed to the ancient sibyls. Diodorus Siculus knew of only one, who
was taken at Thebes by the Epigoni, and placed at Delphos before the
Trojan war. Ten sibyls--that is, ten prophetesses, were soon made from
this one. She of Cuma had most credit among the Romans, and the sibyl
Erythrea among the Greeks.

As all oracles were delivered in verse, none of the sibyls could fail to
make verses; and to give them greater authority they sometimes made them
in acrostics also. Several Christians who had not a zeal according to
knowledge not only misinterpreted the ancient verses supposed to have
been written by the sibyls, but also made some themselves, and which is
worse, in acrostics, not dreaming that this difficult artifice of
acrosticizing had no resemblance whatever to the inspiration and
enthusiasm of a prophetess. They resolved to support the best of causes
by the most awkward fraud. They accordingly made bad Greek verses, the
initials of which signified in Greek--Jesus, Christ, Son, Saviour, and
these verses said that with five loaves and two fishes He should feed
five thousand men in the desert and that with the fragments that
remained He should fill twelve baskets.

The millennium and the New Jerusalem, which Justin had seen in the air
for forty nights, were, of course, foretold by the sibyls. In the fourth
century Lactantius collected almost all the verses attributed to the
sibyls and considered them as convincing proofs. The opinion was so
well authorized and so long held that we still sing hymns in which the
testimony of the sibyls is joined with the predictions of David:

     _Solvet sæclum in favilla,_
     _Teste David cum Sibylla._

This catalogue of errors and frauds has been carried quite far enough. A
hundred might be repeated, so constantly has the world been composed of
deceivers and of people fond of being deceived.

But let us pursue no further so dangerous a research. The elucidation of
one great truth is worth more than the discovery of a thousand
falsehoods. Not all these errors, not all the crowd of apocryphal books
have been sufficient to injure the Christian religion, because, as we
all know, it is founded upon immutable truths. These truths are
supported by a church militant and triumphant, to which God has given
the power of teaching and of repressing. In several countries it unites
temporal with spiritual authority. Prudence, strength, wealth are its
attributes, and although it is divided, and its divisions have
sometimes stained it with blood, it may be compared to the Roman
commonwealth--constantly torn by internal dissensions, but constantly


It is still a question among the learned whether the Emperor Julian was
really an apostate and whether he was ever truly a Christian. He was
not six years old when the Emperor Constantius, still more barbarous
than Constantine, had his father, his brother, and seven of his cousins
murdered. He and his brother Gallus with difficulty escaped from this
carnage, but he was always very harshly treated by Constantius. His life
was for a long time threatened, and he soon beheld his only remaining
brother assassinated by the tyrant's order. The most barbarous of the
Turkish sultans have never, I am sorry to say it, surpassed in cruelty
or in villainy the Constantine family. From his tenderest years study
was Julian's only consolation. He communicated in secret with the most
illustrious of the philosophers, who were of the ancient religion of
Rome. It is very probable that he professed that of his uncle
Constantius only to avoid assassination. Julian was obliged to conceal
his mental powers, as Brutus had done under Tarquin. He was less likely
to be a Christian, as his uncle had forced him to be a monk and to
perform the office of reader in the church. A man is rarely of the
religion of his persecutor, especially when the latter wishes to be
ruler of his conscience.

Another circumstance which renders this probable is that he does not say
in any of his works that he had been a Christian. He never asks pardon
for it of the pontiffs of the ancient religion. He addresses them in his
letters as if he had always been attached to the worship of the senate.
It is not even proved that he practised the ceremonies of the
Taurobolium, which might be regarded as a sort of expiation, and that
he desired to wash out with bull's blood that which he so unfortunately
called the stain of his baptism. However, this was a pagan form of
devotion, which is no more a proof than the assembling at the mysteries
of Ceres. In short, neither his friends nor his enemies relate any fact,
any words which can prove that he ever believed in Christianity, and
that he passed from that sincere belief to the worship of the gods of
the empire. If such be the case they who do not speak of him as an
apostate appear very excusable.

Sound criticism being brought to perfection, all the world now
acknowledges that the Emperor Julian was a hero and a wise man--a stoic,
equal to Marcus Aurelius. His errors are condemned, but his virtues are
admitted. He is now regarded, as he was by his contemporary, Prudentius,
author of the hymn _"Salvete flores martyrum"_. He says of Julian:

                    _Ductor fortissimus armis,_
     _Conditor et legum celeberrimus; ore manuque_
     _Consultor patriæ; sed non consultor habendus_
     _Religionis; amans tercentum millia divum_
     _Perfidus ille Deo, sed non est perfidus orbi_.

     Though great in arms, in virtues, and in laws,--
     Though ably zealous in his country's cause,
     He spurned religion in his lofty plan,
     Rejecting God while benefiting man.

His detractors are reduced to the miserable expedient of striving to
make him appear ridiculous. One historian, on the authority of St.
Gregory Nazianzen, reproaches him with having worn too large a beard.
But, my friend, if nature gave him a long beard why should he wear it
short? He used to shake his head. Carry thy own better. His step was
hurried. Bear in mind that the Abbé d'Aubignac, the king's preacher,
having been hissed at the play, laughs at the air and gait of the great
Corneille. Could you hope to turn Marshal de Luxembourg into ridicule
because he walked ill and his figure was singular? He could march very
well against the enemy. Let us leave it to the ex-Jesuit Patouillet, the
ex-Jesuit Nonotte, etc., to call the Emperor Julian--_the Apostate_.
Poor creatures! His Christian successor, Jovian, called him _Divus_

Let us treat this mistaken emperor as he himself treated us. He said,
"We should pity and not hate them; they are already sufficiently
unfortunate in erring on the most important of questions." Let us have
the same compassion for him, since we are sure that the truth is on our
side. He rendered strict justice to his subjects, let us then render it
to his memory. Some Alexandrians were incensed against a bishop, who, it
is true, was a wicked man, chosen by a worthless cabal. His name was
George Biordos, and he was the son of a mason. His manners were lower
than his birth. He united the basest perfidy with the most brutal
ferocity, and superstition with every vice. A calumniator, a persecutor,
and an impostor--avaricious, sanguinary, and seditious, he was detested
by every party and at last the people cudgelled him to death. The
following is the letter which the Emperor Julian wrote to the
Alexandrians on the subject of this popular commotion. Mark how he
addresses them, like a father and a judge:

"What!" said he, "instead of reserving for me the knowledge of your
wrongs you have suffered yourselves to be transported with anger! You
have been guilty of the same excesses with which you reproach your
enemies! George deserved to be so treated, but it was not for you to be
his executioners. You have laws; you should have demanded justice," etc.

Some have dared to brand Julian with the epithets intolerant and
persecuting--the man who sought to extirpate persecution and
intolerance! Peruse his fifty-second letter, and respect his memory. Is
he not sufficiently unfortunate in not having been a Catholic, and
consequently in being burned in hell, together with the innumerable
multitude of those who have not been Catholics, without our insulting
him so far as to accuse him of intolerance?

_On the Globes of Fire said to have issued from the Earth to prevent the
rebuilding of the Temple of Jerusalem under the Emperor Julian._

It is very likely that when Julian resolved to carry the war into Persia
he wanted money. It is also very likely that the Jews gave him some for
permission to rebuild their temple, which Titus had partly destroyed,
but of which there still remained the foundations, an entire wall, and
the Antonine tower. But is it as likely that globes of fire burst upon
the works and the workmen and caused the undertaking to be relinquished.
Is there not a palpable contradiction in what the historians relate?

1. How could it be that the Jews began by destroying (as they are said
to have done) the foundations of the temple which it was their wish and
their duty to rebuild on the same spot? The temple was necessarily to be
on Mount Moriah. There it was that Solomon had built it. There it was
that Herod had rebuilt it with greater solidity and magnificence, having
previously erected a fine theatre at Jerusalem, and a temple to Augustus
at Cæsarea. The foundations of this temple, enlarged by Herod, were,
according to Josephus, as much as twenty-five feet broad. Could the
Jews, in Julian's time, possibly be mad enough to wish to disarrange
these stones which were so well prepared to receive the rest of the
edifice, and upon which the Mahometans afterwards built their mosque?
What man was ever foolish and stupid enough thus to deprive himself at
great cost and excessive labor of the greatest advantage that could
present itself to his hands and eyes? Nothing is more incredible.

2. How could eruptions of flame burst forth from the interior of these
stones? There might be an earthquake in the neighborhood, for they are
frequent in Syria, but that great blocks of stone should have vomited
clouds of fire! Is not this story entitled to just as much credit as all
those of antiquity?

3. If this prodigy, or if an earthquake, which is not a prodigy, had
really happened would not the Emperor Julian have spoken of it in the
letter in which he says that he had intended to rebuild this temple?
Would not his testimony have been triumphantly adduced? Is it not
infinitely more probable that he changed his mind? Does not this letter
contain these words:

_"Quid de templo sua dicent, quod, quum tertio sit eversum, nondum
hodiernam usque diem instauratur? Hæc ego, non ut illis exprobarem, in
medium adduxi, utpote qui templum illud tanto intervallo a ruinis
excitare voluerim; sed ideo commemoravi, ut ostenderem delirasse
prophetas istos, quibus cum stolidis aniculis negotium erat"._

"What will they (the Jews) say of their temple which has been destroyed
for the third time and is not yet restored? I speak of this, not for the
purpose of reproaching them, for I myself had intended to raise it once
more from its ruins, but to show the extravagance of their prophets who
had none but old women to deal with."

Is it not evident that the emperor having paid attention to the Jewish
prophecies, that the temple should be rebuilt more beautiful than ever
and that all the nations of the earth should come and worship in it,
thought fit to revoke the permission to raise the edifice? The
historical probability, then, from the emperor's own words, is, that
unfortunately holding the Jewish books, as well as our own, in
abhorrence, he at length resolved to make the Jewish prophets lie.

The Abbé de la Blétrie, the historian of the Emperor Julian, does not
understand how the temple of Jerusalem was destroyed three times. He
says that apparently Julian reckoned as a third destruction the
catastrophe which happened during his reign. A curious destruction this!
the non-removal of the stones of an old foundation. What could prevent
this writer from seeing that the temple, having been built by Solomon,
reconstructed by Zorobabel, entirely destroyed by Herod, rebuilt by
Herod himself with so much magnificence, and at last laid in ruins by
Titus, manifestly made three destructions of the temple? The reckoning
is correct. Julian should surely have escaped calumny on this point.

The Abbé de la Blétrie calumniates him sufficiently by saying that all
his virtues were only seeming, while all his vices were real. But Julian
was not hypocritical, nor avaricious, nor fraudulent, nor lying, nor
ungrateful, nor cowardly, nor drunken, nor debauched, nor idle, nor
vindictive. What then were his vices?

4. Let us now examine the redoubtable argument made use of to persuade
us that globes of fire issued from stones. Ammianus Marcellinus a pagan
writer, free from all suspicion, has said it. Be it so: but this
Ammianus has also said that when the emperor was about to sacrifice ten
oxen to his gods for his first victory over the Persians, nine of them
fell to the earth before they were presented to the altar. He relates a
hundred predictions--a hundred prodigies. Are we to believe in them? Are
we to believe in all the ridiculous miracles related by Livy?

Besides, who can say that the text of Ammianus Marcellinus has not been
falsified? Would it be the only instance in which this artifice has been

I wonder that no mention is made of the little fiery crosses which all
the workmen found on their bodies when they went to bed. They would have
made an admirable figure along with the globes.

The fact is that the temple of the Jews was not rebuilt, and it may be
presumed never will be so. Here let us hold, and not seek useless
prodigies. _Globi Hammarum_--globes of fire, issue neither from stones
nor from earth. Ammianus, and those who have quoted him, were not
natural philosophers. Let the abbé de la Blétrie only look at the fire
on St. John's day, and he will see that flame always ascends with a
point, or in a cloud, and never in a globe. This alone is sufficient to
overturn the nonsense which he comes forward to defend with injudicious
criticism and revolting pride.

After all, the thing is of very little importance. There is nothing in
it that affects either faith or morals; and historical truth is all that
is here sought for.


_Their Lives, their Wives, their Children._

After the article "Apostle" in the Encyclopædia, which is as learned as
it is orthodox, very little remains to be said. But we often hear it
asked--Were the apostles married? Had they any children? if they had,
what became of those children? Where did the apostles live? Where did
they write? Where did they die? Had they any appropriated districts? Did
they exercise any civil ministry? Had they any jurisdiction over the
faithful? Were they bishops? Had they a hierarchy, rites, or ceremonies?


_Were the Apostles Married?_

There is extant a letter attributed to St. Ignatius the Martyr, in which
are these decisive words: "I call to mind your sanctity as I do that of
Elias, Jeremiah, John the Baptist, and the chosen disciples Timothy,
Titus, Evadius, and Clement; yet I do not blame such other of the
blessed as were bound in the bonds of marriage, but hope to be found
worthy of God in following their footsteps in his kingdom, after the
example of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Isaiah, and the other
prophets--of Peter and Paul, and the apostles who were married."

Some of the learned assert that the name of St. Paul has been
interpolated in this famous letter: however, Turrian and all who have
seen the letters of Ignatius in the library of the Vatican acknowledge
that St. Paul's name appears there. And Baronius does not deny that this
passage is to be found in some Greek manuscripts: _Non negamus in
quibusdam græcis codicibus._ But he asserts that these words have been
added by modern Greeks.

In the old Oxford library there was a manuscript of St. Ignatius's
letters in Greek, which contained the above words; but it was, I
believe, burned with many other books at the taking of Oxford by
Cromwell. There is still one in Latin in the same library, in which the
words _Pauli et apostolorum_ have been effaced, but in such a manner
that the old characters may be easily distinguished.

It is however certain that this passage exists in several editions of
these letters. This dispute about St. Paul's marriage is, after all, a
very frivolous one. What matters it whether he was married or not, if
the other apostles were married? His first Epistle to the Corinthians is
quite sufficient to prove that he might be married, as well as the rest:

"Have we not power to eat and to drink? Have we not power to lead about
a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the
Lord, and Cephas? Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear
working? Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges?"

It is clear from this passage that all the apostles were married, as
well as St. Peter. And St. Clement of Alexandria positively declares
that St. Paul had a wife. The Roman discipline has changed, which is no
proof that the usage of the primitive ages was not different.


_Children of the Apostles._

Very little is known of their families. St. Clement of Alexandria says
that Peter had children, that Philip had daughters, and that he gave
them in marriage. The Acts of the Apostles specify St. Philip, whose
four daughters prophesied, of whom it is believed that one was married,
and that this one was St. Hermione.

Eusebius relates that Nicholas, chosen by the apostles to co-operate in
the sacred ministry with St. Stephen, had a very handsome wife, of whom
he was jealous. The apostles having reproached him with his jealousy, he
corrected himself of it, brought his wife to them and said, "I am ready
to yield her up; let him marry her who will." The apostles, however, did
not accept his proposal. He had by his wife a son and several daughters.

Cleophas, according to Eusebius and St. Epiphanius, was brother to St.
Joseph, and father of St. James the Less, and of St. Jude, whom he had
by Mary, sister to the Blessed Virgin. So that St. Jude the apostle was
first cousin to Jesus Christ.

Hegesippus, quoted by Eusebius, tells us that two grandsons of St. Jude
were informed against to the emperor Domitian as being descendants of
David and having an incontestable right to the throne of Jerusalem.
Domitian, fearing that they might avail themselves of this right, put
questions to them himself, and they acquainted him with their genealogy.
The emperor asked them what fortune they had. They answered that they
had thirty-nine acres of land, which paid tribute, and that they worked
for their livelihood. He then asked them when Jesus Christ's kingdom was
to come, and they told him "At the end of the world." After which
Domitian permitted them to depart in peace; which goes far to prove that
he was not a persecutor. This, if I mistake not, is all that is known
about the children of the apostles.


_Where did the Apostles Live? Where did They Die?_

According to Eusebius, James, sur named the Just, brother to Jesus
Christ, was in the beginning placed first _on the episcopal throne_ of
the city of Jerusalem; these are his own words. So that, according to
him, the first bishopric was that of Jerusalem--supposing that the Jews
knew even the name of _bishop_. It does, indeed, appear very likely that
the brother of Jesus Christ should have been the first after him, and
that the very city in which the miracle of our salvation was worked
should have become the metropolis of the Christian world. As for the
_episcopal throne_, that is a term which Eusebius uses by anticipation.
We all know that there was then neither throne nor see.

Eusebius adds, after St. Clement, that the other apostles did not
contend with St. James for this dignity. They elected him immediately
after the Ascension. "Our Lord," says he, "after His resurrection, had
given to James, surnamed the Just, to John and to Peter the gift of
knowledge"--very remarkable words. Eusebius mentions James first, then
John, and Peter comes last. It seems but just that the brother and the
beloved disciple of Jesus should come before the man who had denied Him.
Nearly the whole Greek Church and all the reformers ask, Where is
Peter's primacy? The Catholics answer--If he is not placed first by the
fathers of the church, he is in the Acts of the Apostles. The Greeks and
the rest reply that he was not the first bishop; and the dispute will
endure as long as the churches.

St. James, this first bishop of Jerusalem, always continued to observe
the Mosaic law. He was a Rechabite; he walked barefoot, and never
shaved; went and prostrated himself in the Jewish temple twice a day,
and was surnamed by the Jews _Oblia_, signifying the just. They at
length applied to him to know who Jesus Christ was, and having answered
that Jesus was the son of man, who sat on the right hand of God, and
that He should come in the clouds, he was beaten to death. This was St.
James the Less.

St. James the Greater was his uncle, brother to St. John the Evangelist,
and son of Zebedee and Salome. It is asserted that Agrippa, king of the
Jews, had him beheaded at Jerusalem. St. John remained in Asia and
governed the church of Ephesus, where, it is said, he was buried. St.
Andrew, brother to St Peter, quitted the school of St. John for that of
Jesus Christ. It is not agreed whether he preached among the Tartars or
in Argos; but, to get rid of the difficulty, we are told that it was in
Epirus. No one knows where he suffered martyrdom, nor even whether he
suffered it at all. The _Acts_ of his martyrdom are more than suspected
by the learned. Painters have always represented him on a saltier-cross,
to which his name has been given. This custom has prevailed without its
origin being known.

St. Peter preached to the Jews dispersed in Pontus, Bithynia,
Cappadocia, at Antioch, and at Babylon. The Acts of the Apostles do not
speak of his journey to Rome, nor does St. Paul himself make any mention
of it in the letters which he wrote from that capital. St. Justin is the
first accredited author who speaks of this journey, about which the
learned are not agreed. St. Irenæus, after St. Justin, expressly says
that St. Peter and St. Paul came to Rome, and that they entrusted its
government to St. Linus. But here is another difficulty: if they made
St. Linus inspector of the rising Christian society at Rome, it must be
inferred that they themselves did not superintend it nor remain in that

Criticism has cast upon this matter a thousand uncertainties. The
opinion that St. Peter came to Rome in Nero's reign and filled the
pontifical chair there for twenty-five years, is untenable, for Nero
reigned only thirteen years. The wooden chair, so splendidly inlaid in
the church at Rome, can hardly have belonged to St. Peter: wood does not
last so long; nor is it likely that St. Peter delivered his lessons from
this chair as in a school thoroughly formed, since it is averred that
the Jews of Rome were violent enemies to the disciples of Jesus Christ.

The greatest difficulty perhaps is that St. Paul, in his epistle written
to the Colossians from Rome, positively says that he was assisted only
by Aristarchus, Marcus, and another bearing the name of Jesus. This
objection has, to men of the greatest learning, appeared to be

In his letter to the Galatians he says that he obliged James, Cephas,
and John, who seemed to be pillars, to acknowledge himself and Barnabas
as pillars also. If he placed James before Cephas, then Cephas was not
the chief. Happily, these disputes affect not the foundation of our holy
religion. Whether St. Peter ever was at Rome or not, Jesus Christ is no
less the Son of God and the Virgin Mary; He did not the less rise again;
nor did He the less recommend humility and poverty; which are neglected,
it is true, but about which there is no dispute.

Callistus Nicephorus, a writer of the fourteenth century, says that
"Peter was tall, straight and slender, his face long and pale, his beard
and hair short, curly, and neglected--his eyes black, his nose long,
and rather flat than pointed." So Calmet translates the passage.

St. Bartholomew is a word corrupted from Bar. Ptolomaios, son of
Ptolemy. The Acts of the Apostles inform us that he was a Galilean.
Eusebius asserts that he went to preach in India, Arabia Felix, Persia,
and Abyssinia. He is believed to have been the same as Nathanael. There
is a gospel attributed to him; but all that has been said of his life
and of his death is very uncertain. It has been asserted that Astyages,
brother to Polemon, king of Armenia, had him flayed alive; but all good
writers regard this story as fabulous.

St. Philip.--According to the apocryphal legends he lived eighty-seven
years, and died in peace in the reign of Trajan.

St. Thomas Didymus.--Origen, quoted by Eusebius, says that he went and
preached to the Medes, the Persians, the Caramanians, the Baskerians,
and the magi--as if the magi had been a people. It is added that he
baptized one of the magi, who had come to Bethlehem. The Manichæans
assert that a man who had stricken Thomas was devoured by a lion. Some
Portuguese writers assure us that he suffered martyrdom at Meliapour, in
the peninsula of India. The Greek Church believes that he preached in
India, and that from thence his body was carried to Edessa. Some monks
are further induced to believe that he went to India, by the
circumstance that, about the end of the fifteenth century, there were
found, near the coast of Ormuz, some families of Nestorians, who had
been established there by a merchant of Moussoul, named Thomas. The
legend sets forth that he built a magnificent palace for an Indian king
named Gondaser: but all these stories are rejected by the learned.

St. Matthias.--No particulars are known of him. His life was not found
until the twelfth century by a monk of the abbey of St. Matthias of
Treves. He said he had it from a Jew, who translated it for him from
Hebrew into Latin.

St. Matthew.--According to Rufinus, Socrates, and Abdias, he preached
and died in Ethiopia. Heracleon makes him live a long time and die a
natural death. But Abdias says that Hyrtacus, king of Ethiopia, brother
to Eglypus, wishing to marry his niece Iphigenia, and finding that he
could not obtain St. Matthew's permission, had his head struck off and
set fire to Iphigenia's house. He to whom we owe the most circumstantial
gospel that we possess deserved a better historian than Abdias.

St. Simon the Canaanite, whose feast is commonly joined with that of St.
Jude.--Of his life nothing is known. The modern Greeks say that he went
to preach in Libya, and thence into England. Others make him suffer
martyrdom in Persia.

St. Thaddæus or Lebbæus.--The same as St. Jude, whom the Jews in St.
Matthew call brother to Jesus Christ, and who, according to Eusebius,
was his first cousin. All these relations, for the most part vague and
uncertain, throw no light on the lives of the apostles. But if there is
little to gratify our curiosity, there is much from which we may derive
instruction. Two of the four gospels, chosen from among the fifty-four
composed by the first Christians, were not written by apostles.

St. Paul was not one of the twelve apostles, yet he contributed more
than any other to the establishment of Christianity. He was the only man
of letters among them. He had studied under Gamaliel. Festus himself,
the governor of Judæa, reproaches him with being too learned; and,
unable to comprehend the sublimities of his doctrine, he says to him,
_"Insanis, Paule, multæ te litteræ ad insaniam convertunt"_. "Paul, thou
art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad."

In his first epistle to the Corinthians he calls himself _sent_. "Am I
not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord?
Are ye not my work in the Lord? If I am not an apostle unto others, yet,
doubtless, I am unto you," etc.

He might, indeed, have seen Jesus while he was studying at Jerusalem
under Gamaliel. Yet it may be said that this was not a reason which
could authorize his apostleship. He had not been one of the disciples of
Jesus; on the contrary, he had persecuted them, and had been an
accomplice in the death of St. Stephen. It is astonishing that he does
not rather justify his voluntary apostleship by the miracle which Jesus
Christ afterwards worked in his favor--by the light from heaven which
appeared to him at midday and threw him from his horse, and by his being
carried up to the third heaven.

St. Epiphanius quotes Acts of the Apostles, believed to have been
composed by those Christians called Ebionites, or poor, and which were
rejected by the Church--acts very ancient, it is true, but full of abuse
of St. Paul. In them it is said that St. Paul was born at Tarsus of
idolatrous parents--_utroque parente gentili procreatus_--that, having
come to Jerusalem, where he remained some time, he wished to marry the
daughter of Gamaliel; that, with this design, he became a Jewish
proselyte and got himself circumcised; but that, not obtaining this
virgin (or not finding her a virgin), his vexation made him write
against circumcision, against the Sabbath, and against the whole law.

_"Quumque Hierosolymam accessisset, et ibidem aliquandiu mansisset,
pontificis filiam ducere in animum induxisse, et eam ab rem proselytum
factum, atque circumcisum esse; postea quod virginem eam non accepisset,
succensuisse, et adversus circumcisionem, ac sabbathum totamque legem

These injurious words show that these primitive Christians, under the
name of the poor, were still attached to the Sabbath and to
circumcision, resting this attachment on the circumcision of Jesus
Christ and his observance of the Sabbath; and that they were enemies to
St. Paul, regarding him as an intruder who sought to overturn
everything. In short, they were heretics; consequently they strove to
defame their enemies, an excess of which party spirit and superstition
are too often guilty. St. Paul, too, calls them "false apostles,
deceitful workers," and loads them with abuse. In his letter to the
Philippians he calls them dogs.

St. Jerome asserts that he was born at Gisceala, a town of Galilee, and
not at Tarsus. Others dispute his having been a Roman citizen, because
at that time there were no Roman citizens at Tarsus, nor at Galgala, and
Tarsus was not a Roman colony until about a hundred years after. But we
must believe the Acts of the Apostles, which were inspired by the Holy
Ghost, and therefore outweigh the testimony of St. Jerome, learned as he
might be.

Every particular relative to St. Peter and St. Paul is interesting. If
Nicephorus has given us a portrait of the one, the Acts of St. Thecla,
which, though not canonical, are of the first century, have furnished us
with a portrait of the other. He was, say these acts, short in stature,
his head was bald, his thighs were crooked, his legs thick, his nose
aquiline, his eyebrows joined, and he was full of the grace of
God.--_Statura brevi, etc._

These Acts of St. Paul and St. Thecla were, according to Tertullian,
composed by an Asiatic, one of Paul's own disciples, who at first put
them forth under the apostle's name; for which he was called to account
and displaced--that is, excluded from the assembly; for the hierarchy,
not being then established, no one could, properly speaking, be


_Under What Discipline Did the Apostles and Primitive Disciples Live?_

It appears that they were all equal. Equality was the great principle of
the Essenians, the Rechabites, the Theraputæ, the disciples of John, and
especially those of Jesus Christ, who inculcated it more than once.

St. Barnabas, who was not one of the twelve apostles, gave his voice
along with theirs. St. Paul, who was still less a chosen apostle during
the life of Jesus, not only was equal to them, but had a sort of
ascendancy; he rudely rebukes St. Peter.

When they are together we find among them no superior. There was no
presiding, not even in turn. They did not at first call themselves
bishops. St. Peter gives the name of _bishop_, or the equivalent
epithet, only to Jesus Christ, whom he calls _the inspector of souls_.
This name of _inspector_ or _bishop_ was afterwards given to the
ancients, whom we call _priests_; but with no ceremony, no dignity, no
distinctive mark of pre-eminence. It was the office of the ancients or
elders to distribute the alms. The younger of them were chosen by a
plurality of voices to serve the tables, and were seven in number; all
which clearly verifies the reports in common. Of jurisdiction, of power,
of command, not the least trace is to be found.

It is true that Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead for not giving all
their money to St. Peter, but retaining a small part for their own
immediate wants without confessing it--for corrupting, by a trifling
falsehood, the sanctity of their gifts; but it is not St. Peter who
condemns them. It is true that he divines Ananias' fault; he reproaches
him with it and tells him that he has lied to the Holy Ghost; after
which Ananias falls down dead. Then comes Sapphira; and Peter, instead
of warning, interrogates her, which seems to be the action of a judge.
He makes her fall into the snare by saying, "Tell me whether ye sold the
land for so much." The wife made the same answer as her husband. It is
astonishing that she did not, on reaching the place, learn of her
husband's death--that no one had informed her of it--that she did not
observe the terror and tumult which such a death must have occasioned,
and above all, the mortal fear lest the officers of justice should take
cognizance of it as of a murder. It is strange that this woman should
not have filled the house with her cries, but have been quietly
interrogated, as in a court of justice, where silence is rigidly
enforced. It is still more extraordinary that Peter should have said to
her, "Behold the feet of them which have carried thy husband out at the
door, and shall carry thee out"--on which the sentence was instantly
executed. Nothing can more resemble a criminal hearing before a despotic

But it must be considered that St. Peter is here only the organ of
Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost; that it is to them that Ananias and his
wife have lied, and it is they who punish them with sudden death; that,
indeed, this miracle was worked for the purpose of terrifying all such
as, while giving their goods to the Church, and saying that they have
given all, keep something back for profane uses. The judicious Calmet
shows us how the fathers and the commentators differ about the salvation
of these two primitive Christians, whose sin consisted in simple though
culpable reticence.

Be this as it may, it is certain that the apostles had no jurisdiction,
no power, no authority, but that of persuasion, which is the first of
all, and upon which every other is founded. Besides, it appears from
this very story that the Christians lived in common. When two or three
of them were gathered together, Jesus Christ was in the midst of them.
They could all alike receive the Spirit. Jesus was their true, their
only superior; He had said to them:

"Be not ye called rabbi; for one is your master, even Christ; and all ye
are brethren. And call no man your father upon earth; for one is your
father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters; for one is
your master, even Christ."

In the time of the apostles there was no ritual, no liturgy; there were
no fixed hours for assembling, no ceremonies. The disciples baptized the
catechumens, and breathed the Holy Ghost into their mouths, as Jesus
Christ had breathed on the apostles; and as, in many churches, it is
still the custom to breathe into the mouth of a child when administering
baptism. Such were the beginnings of Christianity. All was done by
inspiration--by enthusiasm, as among the Therapeutæ and the Judaïtes, if
we may for a moment be permitted to compare Jewish societies, now become
reprobate, with societies conducted by Jesus Christ Himself from the
highest heaven, where He sat at the right hand of His Father. Time
brought necessary changes; the Church being extended, strengthened, and
enriched, had occasion for new laws.


It is not at all uncommon for a person under strong emotion to see that
which is not. In 1726 a woman in London, accused of being an accomplice
in her husband's murder, denied the fact; the dead man's coat was held
up and shaken before her, her terrified imagination presented the
husband himself to her view; she fell at his feet and would have
embraced him. She told the jury that she had seen her husband. It is not
wonderful that Theodoric saw in the head of a fish, which was served up
to him, that of Symmachus, whom he had assassinated--or unjustly
executed; for it is precisely the same thing.

Charles IX., after the massacre of St. Bartholomew, saw dead bodies and
blood; not in his dreams, but in the convulsions of a troubled mind
seeking for sleep in vain. His physician and his nurse bore witness to
it. Fantastic visions are very frequent in hot fevers. This is not
seeing in imagination; it is seeing in reality. The phantom exists to
him who has the perception of it. If the gift of reason vouchsafed to
the human machine were not at hand to correct these illusions, all
heated imaginations would be in an almost continual transport, and it
would be impossible to cure them.

It is especially in that middle state between sleeping and waking that
an inflamed brain sees imaginary objects and hears sounds which nobody
utters. Fear, love, grief, remorse are the painters who trace the
pictures before unsettled imaginations. The eye which sees sparks in the
night, when accidentally pressed in a certain direction, is but a faint
image of the disorders of the brain.

No theologian doubts that with these natural causes the Master of nature
has sometimes united His divine influence. To this the Old and the New
Testament bear ample testimony. Providence has deigned to employ these
apparitions--these visions--in favor of the Jews, who were then its
cherished people.

It may be that, in the course of time, some really pious souls, deceived
by their enthusiasm, have believed that they had received from an
intimate communication with God that which they owed only to their
inflamed imaginations. In such cases there is need of the advice of an
honest man, and especially of a good physician.

The stories of apparitions are innumerable. It is said to have been in
consequence of an apparition that St. Theodore, in the beginning of the
fourth century, went and set fire to the temple of Amasia and reduced it
to ashes. It is very likely that God did not command this action, in
itself so criminal, by which several citizens perished, and which
exposed all the Christians to a just revenge.

God might permit St. Potamienne to appear to St. Basilides; for there
resulted no disturbance to the state. We will not deny that Jesus Christ
might appear to St. Victor. But that St. Benedict saw the soul of St.
Germanus of Capua carried up to heaven by angels; and that two monks
afterwards saw the soul of St. Benedict walking on a carpet extended
from heaven to Mount Cassino--this is not quite so easy to believe.

It may likewise, without any offence to our august religion, be doubted
whether St. Eucherius was conducted by an angel into hell, where he saw
Charles Mattel's soul; and whether a holy hermit of Italy saw the soul
of Dagobert chained in a boat by devils, who were flogging it without
mercy; for, after all, it is rather difficult to explain satisfactorily
how a soul can walk upon a carpet, how it can be chained in a boat, or
how it can be flogged.

But, it may very well be that heated brains have had such visions; from
age to age we have a thousand instances of them. One must be very
enlightened to distinguish, in this prodigious number of visions, those
which came from God Himself from those which were purely the offspring
of imagination.

The illustrious Bossuet relates, in his funeral oration over the
Princess Palatine, two visions which acted powerfully on that princess,
and determined the whole conduct of her latter years. These heavenly
visions must be believed since they are regarded as such by the discreet
and learned bishop of Meaux, who penetrated into all the depths of
theology and even undertook to lift the veil which covers the

He says, then, that the Princess Palatine, having lent a hundred
thousand francs to her sister, the queen of Poland, sold the duchy of
Rételois for a million, and married her daughters advantageously. Happy
according to the world, but unfortunately doubting the truths of the
Christian religion, she was brought back to her conviction, and to the
love of these ineffable truths by two visions. The first was a dream in
which a man born blind told her that he had no idea of light, and that
we must believe the word of others in things of which we cannot
ourselves conceive. The second arose from a violent shock of the
membranes and fibres of the brain in an attack of fever. She saw a hen
running after one of her chickens, which a dog held in his mouth. The
Princess Palatine snatched the chick from the dog, on which a voice
cried out: "Give him back his chicken; if you deprive him of his food he
will not watch as he ought." But the princess exclaimed, "No, I will
never give it back."

The chicken was the soul of Anne of Gonzaga, Princess Palatine; the hen
was the Church, and the dog was the devil. Anne of Gonzaga, who was
never to give back the chicken to the dog, was _efficacious grace_.

Bossuet preached this funeral oration to the Carmelite nuns of the
Faubourg St. Jacques, at Paris, before the whole house of Condé; he used
these remarkable words: "Hearken, and be especially careful not to hear
with contempt the order of the Divine warnings, and the conduct of
Divine grace."

The reader, then, must peruse this story with the same reverence with
which its hearers listened to it. These extraordinary workings of
Providence are like the miracles of canonized saints, which must be
attested by irreproachable witnesses. And what more lawful deponent can
we have to the apparitions and visions of the Princess Palatine than the
man who employed his life in distinguishing truth from appearance? who
combated vigorously against the nuns of Port Royal on the formulary;
against Paul Ferri on the catechism; against the minister Claude on the
variations of the Church; against Doctor Dupin on China; against Father
Simon on the understanding of the sacred text; against Cardinal
Sfondrati on predestination; against the pope on the rights of the
Gallican Church; against the archbishop of Cambray on pure and
disinterested love. He was not to be seduced by the names, nor the
titles, nor the reputation, nor the dialectics of his adversaries. He
related this fact; therefore he believed it. Let us join him in his
belief, in spite of the raillery which it has occasioned. Let us adore
the secrets of Providence, but let us distrust the wanderings of the
imagination, which Malebranche called _la folle du logis_. For these two
visions accorded to the Princess Palatine are not vouchsafed to every

Jesus Christ appeared to St. Catharine of Sienna; he espoused her and
gave her a ring. This mystical apparition is to be venerated, for it is
attested by Raymond of Capua, general of the Dominicans, who confessed
her, as also by Pope Urban VI. But it is rejected by the learned Fleury,
author of the "Ecclesiastical History." And a young woman who should now
boast of having contracted such a marriage might receive as a nuptial
present a place in a lunatic asylum.

The appearance of Mother Angelica, abbess of Port Royal, to Sister
Dorothy is related by a man of very great weight among the Jansenists,
the Sieur Dufossé, author of the _"Mémoirs de Pontis"_. Mother Angelica,
long after her death, came and seated herself in the church of Port
Royal, in her old place, with her crosier in her hand. She commanded
that Sister Dorothy should be sent for and to her she told terrible
secrets. But the testimony of this Dufossé is of less weight than that
of Raymond of Capua, and Pope Urban VI., which, however, have not been
formally received.

The writer of the above paragraphs has since read the Abbé Langlet's
four volumes on "Apparitions," and thinks he ought not to take anything
from them. He is convinced of all the apparitions verified by the
Church, but he has some doubts about the others, until they are
authentically recognized. The Cordeliers and the Jacobins, the
Jansenists and the Molinists have all had their apparitions and their
miracles. _"Iliacos inter muros peccatur et extra."_

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