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Title: A Philosophical Dictionary, Volume 10
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 10" ***

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: Throned Upon The Ruins Of The Bastille. "For one night,
upon the ruins of the Bastille, rested the body of Voltaire, on fallen
wall and broken aroh, above the dungeons where light had faded from the
lives of men, and hope had died in breaking hearts. The conqueror,
resting upon the conquered; throned upon the Bastille, the fallen
fortress of night."--INGERSOLL.]








It is very strange that since the French people became literary they
have had no book written in a good style, until the year 1654, when the
"Provincial Letters" appeared; and why had no one written history in a
suitable tone, previous to that of the "Conspiracy of Venice" of the
Abbé St. Réal? How is it that Pellisson was the first who adopted the
true Ciceronian style, in his memoir for the superintendent Fouquet?

Nothing is more difficult and more rare than a style altogether suitable
to the subject in hand.

The style of the letters of Balzac would not be amiss for funeral
orations; and we have some physical treatises in the style of the epic
poem or the ode. It is proper that all things occupy their own places.

Affect not strange terms of expression, or new words, in a treatise on
religion, like the Abbé Houteville; neither declaim in a physical
treatise. Avoid pleasantry in the mathematics, and flourish and
extravagant figures in a pleading. If a poor intoxicated woman dies of
an apoplexy, you say that she is in the regions of death; they bury her,
and you exclaim that her mortal remains are confided to the earth. If
the bell tolls at her burial, it is her funeral knell ascending to the
skies. In all this you think you imitate Cicero, and you only copy
Master Littlejohn....

Without style, it is impossible that there can be a good work in any
kind of eloquence or poetry. A profusion of words is the great vice of
all our modern philosophers and anti-philosophers. The "_Système de la
Nature_" is a great proof of this truth. It is very difficult to give
just ideas of God and nature, and perhaps equally so to form a good

As the kind of execution to be employed by every artist depends upon the
subject of which he treats--as the line of Poussin is not that of
Teniers, nor the architecture of a temple that of a common house, nor
music of a serious opera that of a comic one--so has each kind of
writing its proper style, both in prose and verse. It is obvious that
the style of history is not that of a funeral oration, and that the
despatch of an ambassador ought not to be written like a sermon; that
comedy is not to borrow the boldness of the ode, the pathetic expression
of the tragedy, nor the metaphors and similes of the epic.

Every species has its different shades, which may, however, be reduced
to two, the simple and the elevated. These two kinds, which embrace so
many others, possess essential beauties in common, which beauties are
accuracy of idea, adaptation, elegance, propriety of expression, and
purity of language. Every piece of writing, whatever its nature, calls
for these qualities; the difference consists in the employment of the
corresponding tropes. Thus, a character in comedy will not utter sublime
or philosophical ideas, a shepherd spout the notions of a conqueror, not
a didactic epistle breathe forth passion; and none of these forms of
composition ought to exhibit bold metaphor, pathetic exclamation, or
vehement expression.

Between the simple and the sublime there are many shades, and it is the
art of adjusting them which contributes to the perfection of eloquence
and poetry. It is by this art that Virgil frequently exalts the eclogue.
This verse: _Ut vidi ut perii, ut me malus abstulit error!_ (Eclogue
viii, v. 41)--I saw, I perished, yet indulged my pain! (Dryden)--would
be as fine in the mouth of Dido as in that of a shepherd, because it is
nature, true and elegant, and the sentiment belongs to any condition.
But this:

     _Castaneasque nuces me quas Amaryllis amabat._
                                  --_Eclogue, ii, v. 52._.

     And pluck the chestnuts from the neighboring grove,
     Such as my Amaryllis used to love.

belongs not to an heroic personage, because the allusion is not such as
would be made by a hero.

These two instances are examples of the cases in which the mingling of
styles may be defended. Tragedy may occasionally stoop; it even ought to
do so. Simplicity, according to the precept of Horace, often relieves
grandeur. _Et tragicus plerumque dolet sermone pedestri_ (_Ars Poet._,
v. 95)--And oft the tragic language humbly flows (Francis).

These two verses in Titus, so natural and so tender:

     _Depuis cinq ans entiers chaque jour je la vois._
     _Et crois toujours la voir pour la première fois._
                             --BÉRÉNICE, acte ii, scene 1.

     Each day, for five years, have I seen her face,
     And each succeeding time appears the first.

would not be at all out of place in serious comedy; but the following
verse of Antiochus: _Dans l'orient desert quel devint mon ennui!_ (Id.,
acte i, scene 4)--The lonely east, how wearisome to me!--would not suit
a lover in comedy; the figure of the "lonely east" is too elevated for
the simplicity of the buskin. We have already remarked, that an author
who writes on physics, in allusion to a writer on physics, called
Hercules, adds that he is not able to resist a philosopher so powerful.
Another who has written a small book, which he imagines to be physical
and moral, against the utility of inoculation, says that if the smallpox
be diffused artificially, death will be defrauded.

The above defect springs from a ridiculous affectation. There is another
which is the result of negligence, which is that of mingling with the
simple and noble style required by history, popular phrases and low
expressions, which are inimical to good taste. We often read in Mézeray,
and even in Daniel, who, having written so long after him, ought to be
more correct, that "a general pursued at the heels of the enemy,
followed his track, and utterly basted him"--_à plate couture_. We read
nothing of this kind in Livy, Tacitus, Guicciardini, or Clarendon.

Let us observe, that an author accustomed to this kind of style can
seldom change it with his subject. In his operas, La Fontaine composed
in the style of his fables; and Benserade, in his translation of Ovid's
"Metamorphoses," exhibited the same kind of pleasantry which rendered
his madrigals successful. Perfection consists in knowing how to adapt
our style to the various subjects of which we treat; but who is
altogether the master of his habits, and able to direct his genius at


_The Feeble._

Weakness of the heart is not that of the mind, nor weakness of the soul
that of the heart. A feeble soul is without resource in action, and
abandons itself to those who govern it. The _heart_ which is weak or
feeble is easily softened, changes its inclinations with facility,
resists not the seduction or the ascendency required, and may subsist
with a strong _mind_; for we may think strongly and act weakly. The weak
mind receives impressions without resistance, embraces opinions without
examination, is alarmed without cause, and tends naturally to

A work may be feeble either in its matter or its style; by the
thoughts, when too common, or when, being correct, they are not
sufficiently profound; and by the style, when it is destitute of images,
or turns of expression, and of figures which rouse attention. Compared
with those of Bossuet, the funeral orations of Mascaron are weak, and
his style is lifeless.

Every speech is feeble when it is not relieved by ingenious turns, and
by energetic expressions; but a pleader is weak, when, with all the aid
of eloquence, and all the earnestness of action, he fails in
ratiocination. No philosophical work is feeble, notwithstanding the
deficiency of its style, if the reasoning be correct and profound. A
tragedy is weak, although the style be otherwise, when the interest is
not sustained. The best-written comedy is feeble if it fails in that
which the Latins call the "_vis comica_," which is the defect pointed
out by Cæsar in Terence: "_Lenibus atque utinam scriptis adjuncta foret
vis comica!_"

This is above all the sin of the weeping or sentimental comedy
(_larmoyante_). Feeble verses are not those which sin against rules, but
against genius; which in their mechanism are without variety, without
choice expression, or felicitous inversions; and which retain in poetry
the simplicity and homeliness of prose. The distinction cannot be better
comprehended than by a reference to the similar passages of Racine and
Campistron, his imitator.

_Flowery Style._

"Flowery," that which is in blossom; a tree in blossom, a rose-bush in
blossom: people do not say, flowers which blossom. Of flowery bloom, the
carnation seems a mixture of white and rose-color. We sometimes say a
flowery mind, to signify a person possessing a lighter species of
literature, and whose imagination is lively.

A flowery discourse is more replete with agreeable than with strong
thoughts, with images more sparkling than sublime, and terms more
curious than forcible. This metaphor is correctly taken from flowers,
which are showy without strength or stability.

The flowery style is not unsuitable to public speeches or addresses
which amount only to compliment. The lighter beauties are in their place
when there is nothing more solid to say; but the flowery style should be
banished from a pleading, a sermon, or a didactic work.

While banishing the flowery style, we are not to reject the soft and
lively images which enter naturally into the subject; a few flowers are
even admissible; but the flowery style cannot be made suitable to a
serious subject.

This style belongs to productions of mere amusement; to idyls, eclogues,
and descriptions of the seasons, or of gardens. It may gracefully occupy
a portion of the most sublime ode, provided it be duly relieved by
stanzas of more masculine beauty. It has little to do with comedy,
which, as it ought to possess a resemblance to common life, requires
more of the style of ordinary conversation. It is still less admissible
in tragedy, which is the province of strong passions and momentous
interests; and when occasionally employed in tragedy or comedy, it is in
certain descriptions in which the heart takes no part, and which amuse
the imagination without moving or occupying the soul.

The flowery style detracts from the interest of tragedy, and weakens
ridicule in comedy. It is in its place in the French opera, which rather
flourishes on the passions than exhibits them. The flowery is not to be
confounded with the easy style, which rejects this class of

_Coldness of Style._

It is said that a piece of poetry, of eloquence, of music, and even of
painting, is cold, when we look for an animated expression in it, which
we find not. Other arts are not so susceptible of this defect; for
instance, architecture, geometry, logic, metaphysics, all the principal
merit of which is correctness, cannot properly be called warm or cold.
The picture of the family of Darius, by Mignard, is very cold in
comparison with that of Lebrun, because we do not discover in the
personages of Mignard the same affliction which Lebrun has so animatedly
expressed in the attitudes and countenances of the Persian princesses.
Even a statue may be cold; we ought to perceive fear and horror in the
features of an Andromeda, the effect of a writhing of the muscles; and
anger mingled with courageous boldness in the attitude and on the brow
of Hercules, who suspends and strangles Antæus.

In poetry and eloquence the great movements of the soul become cold,
when they are expressed in common terms, and are unaided by imagination.
It is this latter which makes love so animated in Racine, and so languid
in his imitator, Campistron.

The sentiments which escape from a soul which seeks concealment, on the
contrary, require the most simple expression. Nothing is more animated
than those verses in "The Cid": "Go; I hate thee not--thou knowest it; I
cannot." This feeling would become cold, if conveyed in studied phrases.

For this reason, nothing is so cold as the timid style. A hero in a poem
says, that he has encountered a tempest, and that he has beheld his
friend perish in the storm. He touches and affects, if he speaks with
profound grief of his loss--that is, if he is more occupied with his
friend than with all the rest; but he becomes cold, and ceases to affect
us, if he amuses us with a description of the tempest; if he speaks of
the source of "the fire which was boiling up the waters, and of the
thunder which roars and which redoubles the furrows of the earth and of
the waves." Coldness of style, therefore, often arises from a sterility
of ideas; often from a deficiency in the power of governing them;
frequently from a too common diction, and sometimes from one that is
too far-fetched.

The author who is cold only in consequence of being animated out of time
and place, may correct this defect of a too fruitful imagination; but he
who is cold from a deficiency of soul is incapable of self-correction.
We may allay a fire which is too intense, but cannot acquire heat if we
have none.

_On Corruption of Style._

A general complaint is made, that eloquence is corrupted, although we
have models of almost all kinds. One of the greatest defects of the day,
which contributes most to this defect, is the mixture of style. It
appears to me, that we authors do not sufficiently imitate the painters,
who never introduce the attitudes of Calot with the figures of Raphael.
I perceive in histories, otherwise tolerably well written, and in good
doctrinal works, the familiar style of conversation. Some one has
formerly said, that we must write as we speak; the sense of which law
is, that we should write naturally. We tolerate irregularity in a
letter, freedom as to style, incorrectness, and bold pleasantries,
because letters, written spontaneously, without particular object or
act, are negligent conversations; but when we speak or treat of a
subject formally, some attention is due to decorum; and to whom ought we
to pay more respect than to the public?

Is it allowable to write in a mathematical work, that "a geometrician
who would pay his devotions, ought to ascend to heaven in a right line;
that evanescent quantities turn up their noses at the earth for having
too much elevated them; that a seed sown in the ground takes an
opportunity to release and amuse itself; that if Saturn should perish,
it would be his fifth and not his first satellite that would take his
place, because kings always keep their heirs at a distance; that there
is no void except in the purse of a ruined man; that when Hercules
treats of physics, no one is able to resist a philosopher of his degree
of power?" etc.

Some very valuable works are infected with this fault. The source of a
defect so common seems to me to be the accusation of pedantry, so long
and so justly made against authors. "_In vitium ducit culpæ fuga._" It
is frequently said, that we ought to write in the style of good company;
that the most serious authors are becoming agreeable: that is to say, in
order to exhibit the manners of good company to their readers, they
deliver themselves in the style of very bad company.

Authors have sought to speak of science as Voiture spoke to Mademoiselle
Paulet of gallantry, without dreaming that Voiture by no means exhibits
a correct taste in the species of composition in which he was esteemed
excellent; for he often takes the false for the refined, and the
affected for the natural. Pleasantry is never good on serious points,
because it always regards subjects in that point of view in which it is
not the purpose to consider them. It almost always turns upon false
relations and equivoque, whence jokers by profession usually possess
minds as incorrect as they are superficial.

It appears to me, that it is as improper to mingle styles in poetry as
in prose. The macaroni style has for some time past injured poetry by
this medley of mean and of elevated, of ancient and of modern
expression. In certain moral pieces it is not musical to hear the
whistle of Rabelais in the midst of sounds from the flute of Horace--a
practice which we should leave to inferior minds, and attend to the
lessons of good sense and of Boileau. The following is a singular
instance of style, in a speech delivered at Versailles in 1745:

_Speech Addressed to the King (Louis XV.) by M. le Camus, First
President of the Court of Aids._

"Sire--The conquests of your majesty are so rapid, that it will be
necessary to consult the power of belief on the part of posterity, and
to soften their surprise at so many miracles, for fear that heroes
should hold themselves dispensed from imitation, and people in general
from believing them.

"But no, sire, it will be impossible for them to doubt it, when they
shall read in history that your majesty has been at the head of your
troops, recording them yourself in the field of Mars upon a drum. This
is to engrave them eternally in the temple of Memory.

"Ages the most distant will learn, that the English, that bold and
audacious foe, that enemy so jealous of your glory, have been obliged to
turn away from your victory; that their allies have been witnesses of
their shame, and that all of them have hastened to the combat only to
immortalize the glory of the conqueror.

"We venture to say to your majesty, relying on the love that you bear to
your people, that there is but one way of augmenting our happiness,
which is to diminish your courage; as heaven would lavish its prodigies
at too costly a rate, if they increased your dangers, or those of the
young heroes who constitute our dearest hopes."



I have sometimes heard you say--We are no longer superstitious; the
reformation of the sixteenth century has made us more prudent; the
Protestants have taught us better manners.

But what then is the blood of a St. Januarius, which you liquefy every
year by bringing it near his head? Would it not be better to make ten
thousand beggars earn their bread, by employing them in useful tasks,
than to boil the blood of a saint for their amusement? Think rather how
to make their pots boil.

Why do you still, in Rome, bless the horses and mules at St. Mary's the
Greater? What mean those bands of flagellators in Italy and Spain, who
go about singing and giving themselves the lash in the presence of
ladies? Do they think there is no road to heaven but by flogging?

Are those pieces of the true cross, which would suffice to build a
hundred-gun ship--are the many relics acknowledged to be false--are the
many false miracles--so many monuments of an enlightened piety?

France boasts of being less superstitious than the neighbors of St.
James of Compostello, or those of Our Lady of Loretto. Yet how many
sacristies are there where you still find pieces of the Virgin's gown,
vials of her milk, and locks of her hair! And have you not still, in the
church of Puy-en-Velay, her Son's foreskin preciously preserved?

You all know the abominable farce that has been played, ever since the
early part of the fourteenth century, in the chapel of St. Louis, in the
Palais at Paris, every Maundy Thursday night. All the possessed in the
kingdom then meet in this church. The convulsions of St. Médard fall far
short of the horrible grimaces, the dreadful howlings, the violent
contortions, made by these wretched people. A piece of the true cross is
given them to kiss, encased in three feet of gold, and adorned with
precious stones. Then the cries and contortions are redoubled. The devil
is then appeased by giving the demoniacs a few sous; but the better to
restrain them, fifty archers of the watch are placed in the church with
fixed bayonets.

The same execrable farce is played at St. Maur. I could cite twenty such
instances. Blush, and correct yourselves.

There are wise men who assert, that we should leave the people their
superstitions, as we leave them their raree-shows, etc.; that the people
have at all times been fond of prodigies, fortune-tellers, pilgrimages,
and quack-doctors; that in the most remote antiquity they celebrated
Bacchus delivered from the waves, wearing horns, making a fountain of
wine issue from a rock by a stroke of his wand, passing the Red Sea on
dry ground with all his people, stopping the sun and moon, etc.; that at
Lacedæmon they kept the two eggs brought forth by Leda, hanging from the
dome of a temple; that in some towns of Greece the priests showed the
knife with which Iphigenia had been immolated, etc.

There are other wise men who say--Not one of these superstitions has
produced any good; many of them have done great harm: let them then be


I beg of you, my dear reader, to cast your eye for a moment on the
miracle which was lately worked in Lower Brittany, in the year of our
Lord 1771. Nothing can be more authentic: this publication is clothed in
all the legal forms. Read:--

"_Surprising Account of the Visible and Miraculous Appearance of Our
Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Sacrament of the Altar; which was worked
by the Almighty Power of God in the Parish Church of Paimpole, near
Tréguier, in Lower Brittany, on Twelfth-day._

"On January 6, 1771, being Twelfth-day, during the chanting of the
_Salve_, rays of light were seen to issue from the consecrated host, and
instantly the Lord Jesus was beheld in natural figure, seeming more
brilliant than the sun, and was seen for a whole half-hour, during which
there appeared a rainbow over the top of the church. The footprints of
Jesus remained on the tabernacle, where they are still to be seen; and
many miracles are worked there every day. At four in the afternoon,
Jesus having disappeared from over the tabernacle, the curate of the
said parish approached the altar, and found there a letter which Jesus
had left; he would have taken it up, but he found that he could not lift
it. This curate, together with the vicar, went to give information of it
to the bishop of Tréguier, who ordered the forty-hour prayers to be said
in all the churches of the town for eight days, during which time the
people went in crowds to see this holy letter. At the expiration of the
eight days, the bishop went thither in procession, attended by all the
regular and secular clergy of the town, after three days' fasting on
bread and water. The procession having entered the church, the bishop
knelt down on the steps of the altar; and after asking of God the grace
to be able to lift this letter, he ascended to the altar and took it up
without difficulty; then, turning to the people, he read it over with a
loud voice, and recommended to all who could read to peruse this letter
on the first Friday of every month; and to those who could not read, to
say five paternosters, and five ave-marias, in honor of the five wounds
of Jesus Christ, in order to obtain the graces promised to such as shall
read it devoutly, and the preservation of the fruits of the earth!
Pregnant women are to say, for their happy delivery, nine paters and
nine aves for the benefit of the souls in purgatory, in order that their
children may have the happiness of receiving the holy sacrament of

"All that is contained in this account has been approved by the bishop,
by the lieutenant-general of the said town of Tréguier, and by many
persons of distinction who were present at this miracle."

"_Copy of the Letter Found Upon the Altar, at the Time of the Miraculous
Appearance of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the Most Holy Sacrament of the
Altar, on Twelfth-day, 1771._

"Everlasting life, everlasting punishments, or everlasting delights,
none can forego; one part must be chosen--either to go to glory, or to
depart into torment. The number of years that men pass on earth in all
sorts of sensual pleasures and excessive debaucheries, of usurpation,
luxury, murder, theft, slander, and impurity, no longer permitting it to
be suffered that creatures created in My image and likeness, redeemed by
the price of My blood on the tree of the cross, on which I suffered
passion and death, should offend Me continually, by transgressing My
commands and abandoning My divine law--I warn you all, that if you
continue to live in sin, and I behold in you neither remorse, nor
contrition, nor a true and sincere confession and satisfaction, I shall
make you feel the weight of My divine arm. But for the prayers of My
dear mother, I should already have destroyed the earth, for the sins
which you commit one against another. I have given you six days to
labor, and the seventh to rest, to sanctify My Holy Name, to hear the
holy mass, and employ the remainder of the day in the service of God My
Father. But, on the contrary, nothing is to be seen but blasphemy and
drunkenness; and so disordered is the world that all in it is vanity and
lies. Christians, instead of taking compassion on the poor whom they
behold every day at their doors, prefer fondling dogs and other animals,
and letting the poor die of hunger and thirst--abandoning themselves
entirely to Satan by their avarice, gluttony, and other vices; instead
of relieving the needy, they prefer sacrificing all to their pleasures
and debauchery. Thus do they declare war against Me. And you, iniquitous
fathers and mothers, suffer your children to swear and blaspheme
against My holy name; instead of giving them a good education, you
avariciously lay up for them wealth, which is dedicated to Satan. I tell
you, by the mouth of God My Father and My dear mother, of all the
cherubim and seraphim, and by St. Peter, the head of My church, that if
you do not amend your ways, I will send you extraordinary diseases, by
which all shall perish. You shall feel the just anger of God My Father;
you shall be reduced to such a state that you shall not know one
another. Open your eyes, and contemplate My cross, which I have left to
be your weapon against the enemy of mankind, and your guide to eternal
glory; look upon My head crowned with thorns, My feet and hands pierced
with nails; I shed the last drop of My blood to redeem you, from pure
fatherly love for ungrateful children. Do such works as may secure to
you My mercy; do not swear by My Holy Name; pray to Me devoutly; fast
often; and in particular give alms to the poor, who are members of My
body--for of all good works this is the most pleasing to Me; neither
despise the widow nor the orphan; make restitution of that which does
not belong to you; fly all occasions of sin; carefully keep My
commandments; and honor Mary My very dear mother.

"Such of you who shall not profit by the warnings I give them, such as
shall not believe My words, will, by their obstinacy, bring down My
avenging arm upon their heads; they shall be overwhelmed by
misfortunes, which shall be the forerunners of their final and unhappy
end; after which they shall be cast into everlasting flames, where they
shall suffer endless pains--the just punishment reserved for their

"On the other hand, such of you as shall make a holy use of the warnings
of God, given them in this letter, shall appease His wrath, and shall
obtain from Him, after a sincere confession of their faults, the
remission of their sins, how great soever they may be.

     "With permission, Bourges, July 30, 1771.

          "DE BEAUVOIR, Lieut.-Gen. of Police.

"This letter must be carefully kept, in honor of our Lord Jesus Christ."

N.B.--It must be observed that this piece of absurdity was printed at
Bourges, without there having been, either at Tréguier or at Paimpole,
the smallest pretence that could afford occasion for such an imposture.
However, we will suppose that in a future age some miracle-finder shall
think fit to prove a point in divinity by the appearance of Jesus Christ
on the altar at Paimpole, will he not think himself entitled to quote
Christ's own letter, printed at Bourges "with permission"? Will he not
prove, by facts, that in our time Jesus worked miracles everywhere? Here
is a fine field opened for the Houtevilles and the Abadies.


_A Fresh Instance of the Most Horrible Superstition._

The thirty conspirators who fell upon the king of Poland, in the night
of November 3, of the present year, 1771, had communicated at the altar
of the Holy Virgin, and had sworn by the Holy Virgin to butcher their

It seems that some one of the conspirators was not entirely in a state
of grace, when he received into his stomach the body of the Holy
Virgin's own Son, together with His blood, under the appearance of
bread; and that while he was taking the oath to kill his king, he had
his god in his mouth for only two of the king's domestics. The guns and
pistols fired at his majesty missed him; he received only a slight
shot-wound in the face, and several sabre-wounds, which were not mortal.
His life would have been at an end, but that humanity at length combated
superstition in the breast of one of the assassins named Kosinski. What
a moment was that when this wretched man said to the bleeding prince:
"You are, however, my king!" "Yes," answered Stanislaus Augustus, "and
your good king, who has never done you any harm." "True," said the
other; "but I have taken an oath to kill you."

They had sworn before the miraculous image of the virgin at Czentoshova.
The following is the formula of this fine oath: "We ---- who, excited
by a holy and religious zeal, have resolved to avenge the Deity,
religion, and our country, outraged by Stanislaus Augustus, a despiser
of laws both divine and human, a favorer of atheists and heretics, do
promise and swear, before the sacred and miraculous image of the mother
of God, to extirpate from the face of the earth him who dishonors her by
trampling on religion.... So help us God!"

Thus did the assassins of Sforza, of Medici, and so many other holy
assassins, have masses said, or say them themselves, for the happy
success of their undertaking.

The letter from Warsaw which gives the particulars of this attempt,
adds: "The religious who employ their pious ardor in causing blood to
flow and ravaging their country, have succeeded in Poland, as elsewhere,
in inculcating on the minds of their affiliated, that it is allowable to
kill kings."

Indeed, the assassins had been hidden in Warsaw for three days in the
house of the reverend Dominican fathers; and when these accessory monks
were asked why they had harbored thirty armed men without informing the
government of it, they answered, that these men had come to perform
their devotions, and to fulfil a vow.

O ye times of Châtel, of Guinard, of Ricodovis, of Poltrot, of
Ravaillac, of Damiens, of Malagrida, are you then returning? Holy
Virgin, and Thou her holy Son, let not Your sacred names be abused for
the commission of the crime which disgraced them!

M. Jean Georges le Franc, bishop of Puy-en-Velay, says, in his immense
pastoral letter to the inhabitants of Puy, pages 258-9, that it is the
philosophers who are seditious. And whom does he accuse of sedition?
Readers, you will be astonished; it is Locke, the wise Locke himself! He
makes him an accomplice in the pernicious designs of the earl of
Shaftesbury, one of the heroes of the philosophical party.

Alas! M. Jean Georges, how many mistakes in a few words! First, you take
the grandson for the grandfather. The earl of Shaftesbury, author of the
"Characteristics" and the "Inquiry Into Virtue," that "hero of the
philosophical party," who died in 1713, cultivated letters all his life
in the most profound retirement. Secondly, his grandfather,
Lord-Chancellor Shaftesbury, to whom you attribute misdeeds, is
considered by many in England to have been a true patriot. Thirdly,
Locke is revered as a wise man throughout Europe.

I defy you to show me a single philosopher, from Zoroaster down to
Locke, that has ever stirred up a sedition; that has ever been concerned
in an attempt against the life of a king; that has ever disturbed
society; and, unfortunately, I will find you a thousand votaries of
superstition, from Ehud down to Kosinski, stained with the blood of
kings and with that of nations. Superstition sets the whole world in
flames; philosophy extinguishes them. Perhaps these poor philosophers
are not devoted enough to the Holy Virgin; but they are so to God, to
reason, and to humanity.

Poles! if you are not philosophers, at least do not cut one another's
throats. Frenchmen! be gay, and cease to quarrel. Spaniards! let the
words "inquisition" and "holy brotherhood" be no longer uttered among
you. Turks, who have enslaved Greece--monks, who have brutalized
her--disappear ye from the face of the earth.


_Drawn from Cicero, Seneca, and Plutarch._

Nearly all that goes farther than the adoration of a supreme being, and
the submission of the heart to his eternal orders, is superstition. The
forgiveness of crimes, which is attached to certain ceremonies, is a
very dangerous one.

     _Et nigras mactant pecudes, et manibu', divis,_
     _Inferias mittunt._
                                  --LUCRETIUS, b. iii, 52-53.

     _O faciles nimium, qui tristia crimina cœdis,_
       _Fluminea tolli posse putatis aqua!_
                                  --OVID, _Fasti_ ii, 45-46.

You think that God will forget your homicide, if you bathe in a river,
if you immolate a black sheep, and a few words are pronounced over you.
A second homicide then will be forgiven you at the same price, and so of
a third; and a hundred murders will cost you only a hundred black sheep
and a hundred ablutions. Ye miserable mortals, do better; but let there
be no murders, and no offerings of black sheep.

What an infamous idea, to imagine that a priest of Isis and Cybele, by
playing cymbals and castanets, will reconcile you to the Divinity. And
what then is this priest of Cybele, this vagrant eunuch, who lives on
your weakness, and sets himself up as a mediator between heaven and you?
What patent has he received from God? He receives money from you for
muttering words; and you think that the Being of Beings ratifies the
utterance of this charlatan!

There are innocent superstitions; you dance on festival days, in honor
of Diana or Pomona, or some one of the secular divinities of which your
calendar is full; be it so. Dancing is very agreeable; it is useful to
the body; it exhilarates the mind; it does no harm to any one; but do
not imagine that Pomona and Vertumnus are much pleased at your having
jumped in honor of them, and that they may punish you for having failed
to jump. There are no Pomona and Vertumnus but the gardener's spade and
hoe. Do not be so imbecile as to believe that your garden will be hailed
upon, if you have missed dancing the _pyrrhic_ or the _cordax_.

There is one superstition which is perhaps pardonable, and even
encouraging to virtue--that of placing among the gods great men who have
been benefactors to mankind. It were doubtless better to confine
ourselves to regarding them simply as venerable men, and above all, to
imitating them. Venerate, without worshipping, a Solon, a Thales, a
Pythagoras; but do not adore a Hercules for having cleansed the stables
of Augeas, and for having lain with fifty women in one night.

Above all, beware of establishing a worship for vagabonds who have no
merit but ignorance, enthusiasm, and filth; who have made idleness and
beggary their duty and their glory. Do they who have been at best
useless during their lives, merit an apotheosis after their deaths? Be
it observed, that the most superstitious times have always been those of
the most horrible crimes.


The superstitious man is to the knave, what the slave is to the tyrant;
nay more--the superstitious man is governed by the fanatic, and becomes
a fanatic himself. Superstition, born in Paganism, adopted by Judaism,
infected the Church in the earliest ages. All the fathers of the Church,
without exception, believed in the power of magic. The Church always
condemned magic, but she always believed in it; she excommunicated
sorcerers, not as madmen who were in delusion, but as men who really had
intercourse with the devils.

At this day, one half of Europe believes that the other half has long
been and still is superstitious. The Protestants regard relics,
indulgences, macerations, prayers for the dead, holy water, and almost
all the rites of the Roman church, as mad superstitions. According to
them, superstition consists in mistaking useless practices for necessary
ones. Among the Roman Catholics there are some, more enlightened than
their forefathers, who have renounced many of these usages formerly
sacred; and they defend their adherence to those which they have
retained, by saying they are indifferent, and what is indifferent cannot
be an evil.

It is difficult to mark the limits of superstition. A Frenchman
travelling in Italy thinks almost everything superstitious; nor is he
much mistaken. The archbishop of Canterbury asserts that the archbishop
of Paris is superstitious; the Presbyterians cast the same reproach upon
his grace of Canterbury, and are in their turn called superstitious by
the Quakers, who in the eyes of the rest of Christians are the most
superstitious of all.

It is then nowhere agreed among Christian societies what superstition
is. The sect which appears to be the least violently attacked by this
mental disease, is that which has the fewest rites. But if, with but few
ceremonies, it is strongly attached to an absurd belief, that absurd
belief is of itself equivalent to all the superstitious practices
observed from the time of Simon the Magician, down to that of the curate
Gaufredi. It is therefore evident that what is the foundation of the
religion of one sect, is by another sect regarded as superstitious.

The Mussulmans accuse all Christian societies of it, and are accused of
it by them. Who shall decide this great cause? Shall not reason? But
each sect declares that reason is on its side. Force then will decide,
until reason shall have penetrated into a sufficient number of heads to
disarm force.

For instance: there was a time in Christian Europe when a newly married
pair were not permitted to enjoy the nuptial rights, until they had
bought that privilege of the bishop and the curate. Whosoever, in his
will, did not leave a part of his property to the Church, was
excommunicated, and deprived of burial. This was called dying
unconfessed--i.e., not confessing the Christian religion. And when a
Christian died intestate, the Church relieved the deceased from this
excommunication, by making a will for him, stipulating for and enforcing
the payment of the pious legacy which the defunct should have made.

Therefore it was, that Pope Gregory IX. and St. Louis ordained, after
the Council of Nice, held in 1235, that every will to the making of
which a priest had not been called, should be null; and the pope decreed
that the testator and the notary should be excommunicated.

The tax on sins was, if possible, still more scandalous. It was force
which supported all these laws, to which the superstition of nations
submitted; and it was only in the course of time that reason caused
these shameful vexations to be abolished, while it left so many others
in existence.

How far does policy permit superstition to be undermined? This is a very
knotty question; it is like asking how far a dropsical man may be
punctured without his dying under the operation; this depends on the
prudence of the physician.

Can there exist a people free from all superstitious prejudices? This is
asking, Can there exist a people of philosophers? It is said that there
is no superstition in the magistracy of China. It is likely that the
magistracy of some towns in Europe will also be free from it. These
magistrates will then prevent the superstition of the people from being
dangerous. Their example will not enlighten the mob; but the principal
citizens will restrain it. Formerly, there was not perhaps a single
religious tumult, not a single violence, in which the townspeople did
not take part, because these townspeople were then part of the mob; but
reason and time have changed them. Their ameliorated manners will
improve those of the lowest and most ferocious of the populace; of
which, in more countries than one, we have striking examples. In short,
the fewer superstitions, the less fanaticism; and the less fanaticism,
the fewer calamities.


We resemble not the celebrated comedian, Mademoiselle Duclos, to whom
somebody said: "I would lay a wager, mademoiselle, that you know not
your credo!" "What!" said she, "not know my credo? I will repeat it to
you. '_Pater noster qui._' ... Help me, I remember no more." For myself,
I repeat my pater and credo every morning. I am not like Broussin, of
whom Reminiac said, that although he could distinguish a sauce almost in
his infancy, he could never be taught his creed or pater-noster:

          _Broussin, dès l'âge le plus tendre,_
          _Posséda la sauce Robert,_
     _Sans que son précepteur lui pût jamais apprende_
          _Ni son credo, ni son pater._

The term "symbol" comes from the word "_symbolein_," and the Latin
church adopts this word because it has taken everything from the Greek
church. Even slightly learned theologians know that the symbol, which we
call apostolical, is not that of all the apostles.

Symbol, among the Greeks, signified the words and signs by which those
initiated into the mysteries of Ceres, Cybele, and Mythra, recognized
one another; and Christians in time had their symbol. If it had existed
in the time of the apostles, we think that St. Luke would have spoken of

A history of the symbol is attributed to St. Augustine in his one
hundred and fifteenth sermon; he is made to say, that Peter commenced
the symbol by saying: "I believe in God, the Father Almighty." John
added: "Maker of heaven and earth;" James proceeded: "I believe in Jesus
Christ, His only Son, our Lord," and so on with the rest. This fable has
been expunged from the last edition of Augustine; and I relate it to
the reverend Benedictine fathers, in order to know whether this little
curious article ought to be left out or not.

The fact is, that no person heard anything of this "creed" for more than
four hundred years. People also say that Paris was not made in a day,
and people are often right in their proverbs. The apostles had our
symbol in their hearts, but they put it not into writing. One was formed
in the time of St. Irenæus, which does not at all resemble that which we
repeat. Our symbol, such as it is at present, is of the fifth century,
which is posterior to that of Nice. The passage which says that Jesus
descended into hell, and that which speaks of the communion of saints,
are not found in any of the symbols which preceded ours; and, indeed,
neither the gospels, nor the Acts of the Apostles, say that Jesus
descended into hell; but it was an established opinion, from the third
century, that Jesus descended into Hades, or Tartarus, words which we
translate by that of hell. Hell, in this sense, is not the Hebrew word
"_sheol_," which signifies "under ground," "the pit"; for which reason
St. Athanasius has since taught us how our Saviour descended into hell.
His humanity, says he, was not entirely in the tomb, nor entirely in
hell. It was in the sepulchre, according to the body, and in hell,
according to the soul.

St. Thomas affirms that the saints who arose at the death of Jesus
Christ, died again to rise afterwards with him, which is the most
general sentiment. All these opinions are absolutely foreign to
morality. We must be good men, whether the saints were raised once or
twice. Our symbol has been formed, I confess, recently, but virtue is
from all eternity.

If it is permitted to quote moderns on so grave a matter, I will here
repeat the creed of the Abbé de St. Pierre, as it was written with his
own hand, in his book on the purity of religion, which has not been
printed, but which I have copied faithfully:

"I believe in one God alone, and I love Him. I believe that He
enlightens all souls coming into the world; thus says St. John. By that,
I understand all souls which seek Him in good faith. I believe in one
God alone, because there can be but one soul of the Great All, a single
vivifying being, a sole Creator.

"I believe in God, the Father Almighty; because He is the common Father
of nature, and of all men, who are equally His children. I believe that
He who has caused all to be born equally, who arranges the springs of
their life in the same manner, who has given them the same moral
principles, as soon as they reflect, has made no difference between His
children but that of crime and virtue.

"I believe that the just and righteous Chinese is more precious to Him
than the cavilling and arrogant European scholar. I believe that God,
being our common Father, we are bound to regard all men as our brothers.
I believe that the persecutor is abominable, and that he follows
immediately after the poisoner and parricide. I believe that theological
disputes are at once the most ridiculous farce, and the most dreadful
scourge of the earth, immediately after war, pestilence, famine, and

"I believe that ecclesiastics should be paid and well paid, as servants
of the public, moral teachers, keepers of registers of births and
deaths; but there should be given to them neither the riches of
farmers-general, nor the rank of princes, because both corrupt the soul;
and nothing is more revolting than to see men so rich and so proud
preach humility through their clerks, who have only a hundred crowns'

"I believe that all priests who serve a parish should be married, as in
the Greek church; not only to have an honest woman to take care of their
household, but to be better citizens, to give good subjects to the
state, and to have plenty of well-bred children.

"I believe that many monks should give up the monastic form of life, for
the sake of the country and themselves. It is said that there are men
whom Circe has changed into hogs, whom the wise Ulysses must restore to
the human form."

"Paradise to the beneficent!" We repeat this symbol of the Abbé St.
Pierre historically, without approving of it. We regard it merely as a
curious singularity, and we hold with the most respectful faith to the
true symbol of the Church.


We understand by system a supposition; for if a system can be proved, it
is no longer a system, but a truth. In the meantime, led by habit, we
say the celestial system, although we understand by it the real position
of the stars.

I once thought that Pythagoras had learned the true celestial system
from the Chaldæans; but I think so no longer. In proportion as I grow
older, I doubt of all things. Notwithstanding that Newton, Gregory, and
Keil honor Pythagoras and the Chaldæans with a knowledge of the system
of Copernicus, and that latterly M. Monier is of their opinion, I have
the impudence to think otherwise.

One of my reasons is, that if the Chaldæans had been so well informed,
so fine and important a discovery would not have been lost, but would
have been handed down from age to age, like the admirable discoveries of

Another reason is that it was necessary to be more widely informed than
the Chaldæans, in order to be able to contradict the apparent testimony
of the senses in regard to the celestial appearances; that it required
not only the most refined experimental observation, but the most
profound mathematical science; as also the indispensable aid of
telescopes, without which it is impossible to discover the phases of
Venus, which prove her course around the sun, or to discover the spots
in the sun, which demonstrate his motion round his own almost immovable
axis. Another reason, not less strong, is that of all those who have
attributed this discovery to Pythagoras, no one can positively say how
he treated it.

Diogenes Laertius, who lived about nine hundred years after Pythagoras,
teaches us, that according to this grand philosopher, the number one was
the first principle, and that from two sprang all numbers; that body has
four elements--fire, water, air, and earth; that light and darkness,
cold and heat, wet and dry, are equally distributed; that we must not
eat beans; that the soul is divided into three parts; that Pythagoras
had formerly been Atalides, then Euphorbus, afterwards Hermotimus; and,
finally, that this great man studied magic very profoundly. Diogenes
says not a word concerning the true system of the world, attributed to
this Pythagoras; and it must be confessed that it is by no means to an
aversion to beans that we owe the calculations which at present
demonstrate the motion of the earth and planets generally.

The famous Arian Eusebius, bishop of Cæsarea, in his "Evangelical
Preparation," expresses himself thus: "All the philosophers declare that
the earth is in a state of repose; but Philolaus, the peripatetic,
thinks that it moves round fire in an oblique circle, like the sun and
the moon." This gibberish has nothing in common with the sublime truths
taught by Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, and above all by Newton.

As to the pretended Aristarchus of Samos, who, it is asserted, developed
the discoveries of the Chaldæans in regard to the motion of the earth
and other planets, he is so obscure, that Wallace has been obliged to
play the commentator from one end of him to the other, in order to
render him intelligible.

Finally, it is very much to be doubted whether the book, attributed to
this Aristarchus of Samos, really belongs to him. It has been strongly
suspected that the enemies of the new philosophy have constructed this
forgery in favor of their bad cause. It is not only in respect to old
charters that similar forgeries are resorted to. This Aristarchus of
Samos is also the more to be suspected, as Plutarch accuses him of
bigotry and malevolent hypocrisy, in consequence of being imbued with a
direct contrary opinion. The following are the words of Plutarch, in his
piece of absurdity entitled "The Round Aspect of the Moon." Aristarchus
the Samian said, "that the Greeks ought to punish Cleanthes of Samos,
who suggested that the heavens were immovable, and that it is the earth
which travels through the zodiac by turning on its axis."

They will tell me that even this passage proves that the system of
Copernicus was already in the head of Cleanthes and others--of what
import is it whether Aristarchus the Samian was of the opinion of
Cleanthes, or his accuser, as the Jesuit Skeiner was subsequently
Galileo's?--it equally follows that the true system of the present day
was known to the ancients.

I reply, no; but that a very slight part of this system was vaguely
surmised by heads better organized than the rest. I further answer that
it was never received or taught in the schools, and that it never formed
a body of doctrine. Attentively peruse this "Face of the Moon" of
Plutarch, and you will find, if you look for it, the doctrine of
gravitation; but the true author of a system is he who demonstrates it.

We will not take away from Copernicus the honor of this discovery. Three
or four words brought to light in an old author, which exhibit some
distant glimpse of his system, ought not to deprive him of the glory of
the discovery.

Let us admire the great rule of Kepler, that the revolutions of the
planets round the sun are in proportion to the cubes of their distances.
Let us still more admire the profundity, the justness, and the invention
of the great Newton, who alone discovered the fundamental reasons of
these laws unknown to all antiquity, which have opened the eyes of
mankind to a new heaven.

Petty compilers are always to be found who dare to become the enemies of
their age. They string together passages from Plutarch and Athenæus, to
prove that we have no obligations to Newton, to Halley, and to Bradley.
They trumpet forth the glory of the ancients, whom they pretend have
said everything; and they are so imbecile as to think that they divide
the glory by publishing it. They twist an expression of Hippocrates, in
order to persuade us that the Greeks were acquainted with the
circulation of the blood better than Harvey. Why not also assert that
the Greeks were possessed of better muskets and field-pieces; that they
threw bomb-shells farther, had better printed books, and much finer
engravings? That they excelled in oil-paintings, possessed
looking-glasses of crystal, telescopes, microscopes, and thermometers?
All this may be found out by men, who assure us that Solomon, who
possessed not a single seaport, sent fleets to America, and so forth.

One of the greatest detractors of modern times is a person named Dutens,
who finished by compiling a libel, as infamous as insipid, against the
philosophers of the present day. This libel is entitled the "Tocsin";
but he had better have called it his clock, as no one came to his aid;
and he has only tended to increase the number of the Zoilusses, who,
being unable to produce anything themselves, spit their venom upon all
who by their productions do honor to their country and benefit mankind.


A famous mountain in Judæa, often alluded to in general conversation. It
is not true that this mountain is a league and a half high, as
mentioned in certain dictionaries. There is no mountain in Judæa so
elevated; Tabor is not more than six hundred feet high, but it appears
loftier, in consequence of its situation on a vast plain.

The Tabor of Bohemia is still more celebrated by the resistance which
the imperial armies encountered from Ziska. It is from thence that they
have given the name of Tabor to intrenchments formed with carriages. The
Taborites, a sect very similar to the Hussites, also take their name
from the latter mountain.


Talisman, an Arabian word, signifies properly "consecration." The same
thing as "telesma," or "philactery," a preservative charm, figure, or
character; a superstition which has prevailed at all times and among all
people. It is usually a sort of medal, cast and stamped under the
ascendency of certain constellations. The famous talisman of Catherine
de Medici still exists.


Tartuffe, a name invented by Molière, and now adopted in all the
languages of Europe to signify hypocrites, who make use of the cloak of
religion. "He is a Tartuffe; he is a true Tartuffe." _Tartuferie_, a new
word formed from Tartuffe--the action of a hypocrite, the behavior of a
hypocrite, the knavery of a false devotee; it is often used in the
disputes concerning the Bull Unigenitus.



The taste, the sense by which we distinguish the flavor of our food, has
produced, in all known languages, the metaphor expressed by the word
"taste"--a feeling of beauty and defects in all the arts. It is a quick
perception, like that of the tongue and the palate, and in the same
manner anticipates consideration. Like the mere sense, it is sensitive
and luxuriant in respect to the good, and rejects the bad spontaneously;
in a similar way it is often uncertain, divided, and even ignorant
whether it ought to be pleased; lastly, and to conclude the resemblance,
it sometimes requires to be formed and corrected by habit and

To constitute taste, it is not sufficient to see and to know the beauty
of a work. We must feel and be affected by it. Neither will it suffice
to feel and be affected in a confused or ignorant manner; it is
necessary to distinguish the different shades; nothing ought to escape
the promptitude of its discernment; and this is another instance of the
resemblance of taste, the sense, to intellectual taste; for an epicure
will quickly feel and detect a mixture of two liquors, as the man of
taste and connoisseur will, with a single glance, distinguish the
mixture of two styles, or a defect by the side of a beauty. He will be
enthusiastically moved with this verse in the Horatii:

     _Que voulez-vous qu'il fît contre trois?--Qu'il mourût!_

     What have him do 'gainst three?--Die!

He feels involuntary disgust at the following:

     _Ou qu'un beau désespoir alors le secourût._
                                      --ACT iii, sc. 6.

     Or, whether aided by a fine despair.

As a physical bad taste consists in being pleased only with high
seasoning and curious dishes, so a bad taste in the arts is pleased only
with studied ornament, and feels not the pure beauty of nature.

A depraved taste in food is gratified with that which disgusts other
people: it is a species of disease. A depraved taste in the arts is to
be pleased with subjects which disgust accomplished minds, and to prefer
the burlesque to the noble, and the finical and the affected to the
simple and natural: it is a mental disease. A taste for the arts is,
however, much more a thing of formation than physical taste; for
although in the latter we sometimes finish by liking those things to
which we had in the first instance a repugnance, nature seldom renders
it necessary for men in general to learn what is necessary to them in
the way of food, whereas intellectual taste requires time to duly form
it. A sensible young man may not, without science, distinguish at once
the different parts of a grand choir of music; in a fine picture, his
eyes at first sight may not perceive the gradation, the chiaroscuro
perspective, agreement of colors, and correctness of design; but by
little and little his ears will learn to hear and his eyes to see. He
will be affected at the first representation of a fine tragedy, but he
will not perceive the merit of the unities, nor the delicate management
that allows no one to enter or depart without a sufficient reason,
nor that still greater art which concentrates all the interest in a
single one; nor, lastly, will he be aware of the difficulties overcome.
It is only by habit and reflection, that he arrives spontaneously at
that which he was not able to distinguish in the first instance. In a
similar way, a national taste is gradually formed where it existed not
before, because by degrees the spirit of the best artists is duly
imbibed. We accustom ourselves to look at pictures with the eyes of
Lebrun, Poussin, and Le Sueur. We listen to musical declamation from the
scenes of Quinault with the ears of Lulli, and to the airs and
accompaniments with those of Rameau. Finally, books are read in the
spirit of the best authors.

If an entire nation is led, during its early culture of the arts, to
admire authors abounding in the defects and errors of the age, it is
because these authors possess beauties which are admired by everybody,
while at the same time readers are not sufficiently instructed to detect
the imperfections. Thus, Lucilius was prized by the Romans, until Horace
made them forget him; and Regnier was admired by the French, until the
appearance of Boileau; and if old authors who stumble at every step
have, notwithstanding, attained great reputation, it is because purer
writers have not arisen to open the eyes of their national admirers, as
Horace did those of the Romans, and Boileau those of the French.

It is said that there is no disputation on taste, and the observation is
correct in respect to physical taste, in which the repugnance felt to
certain aliments, and the preference given to others, are not to be
disputed, because there is no correction of a defect of the organs. It
is not the same with the arts which possess actual beauties, which are
discernible by a good taste, and unperceivable by a bad one; which last,
however, may frequently be improved. There are also persons with a
coldness of soul, as there are defective minds; and in respect to them,
it is of little use to dispute concerning predilections, as they possess

Taste is arbitrary in many things, as in raiment, decoration, and
equipage, which, however, scarcely belong to the department of the fine
arts, but are rather affairs of fancy. It is fancy rather than taste
which produces so many new fashions.

Taste may become vitiated in a nation, a misfortune which usually
follows a period of perfection. Fearing to be called imitators, artists
seek new and devious routes, and fly from the pure and beautiful nature
of which their predecessors have made so much advantage. If there is
merit in these labors, this merit veils their defects, and the public
in love with novelty runs after them, and becomes disgusted, which makes
way for still minor efforts to please, in which nature is still more
abandoned. Taste loses itself amidst this succession of novelties, the
last one of which rapidly effaces the other; the public loses its
"whereabout," and regrets in vain the flight of the age of good taste,
which will return no more, although a remnant of it is still preserved
by certain correct spirits, at a distance from the crowd.

There are vast countries in which taste has never existed: such are they
in which society is still rude, where the sexes have little general
intercourse, and where certain arts, like sculpture and the painting of
animated beings, are forbidden by religion. Where there is little
general intercourse, the mind is straitened, its edge is blunted, and
nothing is possessed on which a taste can be formed. Where several of
the fine arts are wanting, the remainder can seldom find sufficient
support, as they go hand in hand, and rest one on the other. On this
account, the Asiatics have never produced fine arts in any department,
and taste is confined to certain nations of Europe.


Is there not a good and a bad taste? Without doubt; although men differ
in opinions, manners, and customs. The best taste in every species of
cultivation is to imitate nature with the highest fidelity, energy, and
grace. But is not grace arbitrary? No, since it consists in giving
animation and sweetness to the objects represented. Between two men, the
one of whom is gross and the other refined, it will readily be allowed
that one possesses more grace than the other.

Before a polished period arose, Voiture, who in his rage for
embroidering nothings, was occasionally refined and agreeable, wrote
some verses to the great Condé upon his illness, which are still
regarded as very tasteful, and among the best of this author.

At the same time, L'Étoile, who passed for a genius--L'Étoile, one of
the five authors who constructed tragedies for Cardinal Richelieu--made
some verses, which are printed at the end of Malherbe and Racan. When
compared with those of Voiture referred to, every reader will allow that
the verses of Voiture are the production of a courtier of good taste,
and those of L'Étoile the labor of a coarse and unintellectual

It is a pity that we can gift Voiture with occasional taste only: his
famous letter from the carp to the pike, which enjoyed so much
reputation, is a too extended pleasantry, and in passages exhibiting
very little nature. Is it not a mixture of refinement and coarseness, of
the true and the false? Was it right to say to the great Condé, who was
called "the pike" by a party among the courtiers, that at his name the
whales of the North perspired profusely, and that the subjects of the
emperor had expected to fry and to eat him with a grain of salt? Was it
proper to write so many letters, only to show a little of the wit which
consists in puns and conceits?

Are we not disgusted when Voiture says to the great Condé, on the taking
of Dunkirk: "I expect you to seize the moon with your teeth." Voiture
apparently acquired this false taste from Marini, who came into France
with Mary of Medici. Voiture and Costar frequently cite him as a model
in their letters. They admire his description of the rose, daughter of
April, virgin and queen, seated on a thorny throne, extending
majestically a flowery sceptre, having for courtiers and ministers the
amorous family of the zephyrs, and wearing a crown of gold and a robe of

     _Bella figlia d'Aprile,_
     _Verginella e reina,_
     _Sic lo spinoso trono_
     _Del verde cespo assisa,_
     _De' fior' lo scettro in maestà sostiene;_
     _E corteggiata intorno_
     _Da lascivia famiglia_
     _Di Zefiri ministri,_
     _Porta d'or' la corona et dostro il manto._

Voiture, in his thirty-fifth letter to Costar, compliments the musical
atom of Marini, the feathered voice, the living breath clothed in
plumage, the winged song, the small spirit of harmony, hidden amidst
diminutive lungs; all of which terms are employed to convey the word

     _Una voce pennuta, un suon' volante,_
     _E vestito di penne, un vivo fiato,_
     _Una piuma canora, un canto alato,_
     _Un spiritel' che d'armonia composto_
     _Vive in auguste vise ere nascosto._

The bad taste of Balzac was of a different description; he composed
familiar letters in a fustian style. He wrote to the Cardinal de la
Valette, that neither in the deserts of Libya, nor in the abyss of the
sea, there was so furious a monster as the sciatica; and that if
tyrants, whose memory is odious to us, had instruments of cruelty in
their possession equal to the sciatica, the martyrs would have endured
them for their religion.

These emphatic exaggerations--these long and stately periods, so opposed
to the epistolary style--these fastidious declamations, garnished with
Greek and Latin, concerning two middling sonnets, the merits of which
divided the court and the town, and upon the miserable tragedy of "Herod
the Infanticide,"--all indicate a time and a taste which were yet to be
formed and corrected. Even "Cinna," and the "Provincial Letters," which
astonished the nations, had not yet cleared away the rust.

As an artist forms his taste by degrees, so does a nation. It stagnates
for a long time in barbarism; then it elevates itself feebly, until at
length a noon appears, after which we witness nothing but a long and
melancholy twilight. It has long been agreed, that in spite of the
solicitude of Francis I., to produce a taste in France for the fine
arts, this taste was not formed until towards the age of Louis XIV.,
and we already begin to complain of its degeneracy. The Greeks of the
lower empire confess, that the taste which reigned in the days of
Pericles was lost among them, and the modern Greeks admit the same
thing. Quintilian allows that the taste of the Romans began to decline
in his days.

Lope de Vega made great complaints of the bad taste of the Spaniards.
The Italians perceived, among the first, that everything had declined
among them since their immortal sixteenth century, and that they have
witnessed the decline of the arts, which they caused to spring up.

Addison often attacks the bad taste of the English in more than one
department--as well when he ridicules the carved wig of Sir Cloudesley
Shovel, as when he testifies his contempt for a serious employment of
conceit and pun, or the introduction of mountebanks in tragedy.

If, therefore, the most gifted minds allow that taste has been wanting
at certain periods in their country, their neighbors may certainly feel
it, as lookers-on; and as it is evident among ourselves that one man has
a good and another a bad taste, it is equally evident that of two
contemporary nations, the one may be rude and gross, and the other
refined and natural.

The misfortune is, that when we speak this truth, we disgust the whole
nation to which we allude, as we provoke an individual of bad taste when
we seek to improve him. It is better to wait until time and example
instruct a nation which sins against taste. It is in this way that the
Spaniards are beginning to reform their drama, and the Germans to create

_Of National Taste._

There is beauty of all times and of all places, and there is likewise
local beauty. Eloquence ought to be everywhere persuasive, grief
affecting, anger impetuous, wisdom tranquil; but the details which may
gratify a citizen of London, would have little effect on an inhabitant
of Paris. The English drew some of their most happy metaphors and
comparisons from the marine, while Parisians seldom see anything of
ships. All which affects an Englishman in relation to liberty, his
rights and his privileges, would make little impression on a Frenchman.

The state of the climate will introduce into a cold and humid country a
taste for architecture, furniture, and clothing, which may be very good,
but not admissible at Rome or in Sicily. Theocritus and Virgil, in their
eclogues, boast of the shades and of the cooling freshness of the
fountains. Thomson, in his "Seasons," dwells upon contrary attractions.

An enlightened nation with little sociability will not have the same
points of ridicule as a nation equally intellectual, which gives in to
the spirit of society even to indiscretion; and, in consequence, these
two nations will differ materially in their comedy. Poetry will be very
different in a country where women are secluded, and in another in
which they enjoy liberty without bounds.

But it will always be true that the pastoral painting of Virgil exceeds
that of Thomson, and that there has been more taste on the banks of the
Tiber than on those of the Thames; that the natural scenes of the Pastor
Fido are incomparably superior to the shepherdizing of Racan; and that
Racine and Molière are inspired persons in comparison with the
dramatists of other theatres.

_On the Taste of Connoisseurs._

In general, a refined and certain taste consists in a quick feeling of
beauty amidst defects, and defects amidst beauties. The epicure is he
who can discern the adulteration of wines, and feel the predominating
flavor in his viands, of which his associates entertain only a confused
and general perception.

Are not those deceived who say, that it is a misfortune to possess too
refined a taste, and to be too much of a connoisseur; that in
consequence we become too much occupied by defects, and insensible to
beauties, which are lost by this fastidiousness? Is it not, on the
contrary, certain that men of taste alone enjoy true pleasure, who see,
hear, and feel, that which escapes persons less sensitively organized,
and less mentally disciplined?

The connoisseur in music, in painting, in architecture, in poetry, in
medals, etc., experiences sensations of which the vulgar have no
comprehension; the discovery even of a fault pleases him, and makes him
feel the beauties with more animation. It is the advantage of a good
sight over a bad one. The man of taste has other eyes, other ears, and
another tact from the uncultivated man; he is displeased with the poor
draperies of Raphael, but he admires the noble purity of his conception.
He takes a pleasure in discovering that the children of Laocoon bear no
proportion to the height of their father, but the whole group makes him
tremble, while other spectators are unmoved.

The celebrated sculptor, man of letters and of genius, who placed the
colossal statue of Peter the Great at St. Petersburg, criticises with
reason the attitude of the Moses of Michelangelo, and his small, tight
vest, which is not even an Oriental costume; but, at the same time, he
contemplates the air and expression of the head with ecstasy.

_Rarity of Men of Taste._

It is afflicting to reflect on the prodigious number of men--above all,
in cold and damp climates--who possess not the least spark of taste, who
care not for the fine arts, who never read, and of whom a large portion
read only a journal once a month, in order to be put in possession of
current matter, and to furnish themselves with the ability of saying
things at random, on subjects in regard to which they have only confused

Enter into a small provincial town: how rarely will you find more than
one or two good libraries, and those private. Even in the capital of the
provinces which possess academies, taste is very rare.

It is necessary to select the capital of a great kingdom to form the
abode of taste, and yet even there it is very partially divided among a
small number, the populace being wholly excluded. It is unknown to the
families of traders, and those who are occupied in making fortunes, who
are either engrossed with domestic details, or divided between
unintellectual idleness and a game at cards. Every place which contains
the courts of law, the offices of revenue, government, and commerce, is
closed against the fine arts. It is the reproach of the human mind that
a taste for the common and ordinary introduces only opulent idleness. I
knew a commissioner in one of the offices at Versailles, who exclaimed:
"I am very unhappy; I have not time to acquire a taste."

In a town like Paris, peopled with more than six hundred thousand
persons, I do not think there are three thousand who cultivate a taste
for the fine arts. When a dramatic masterpiece is represented, a
circumstance so very rare, people exclaim: "All Paris is enchanted," but
only three thousand copies, more or less, are printed.

Taste, then, like philosophy, belongs only to a small number of
privileged souls. It was, therefore, great happiness for France to
possess, in Louis XIV., a king born with taste.

     _Pauci, quos æquus amavit_
     _Jupiter, aut ardens, evexit ad æthera virtus_
     _Dis geniti, potuere._
                              --ÆNEID, b. vi, v. 129 and s.

     To few great Jupiter imparts his grace,
     And those of shining worth and heavenly race.

Ovid has said in vain, that God has created us to look up to heaven:
"_Erectos ad sidera tollere vultus_." Men are always crouching on the
ground. Why has a misshapen statue, or a bad picture, where the figures
are disproportionate, never passed for a masterpiece? Why has an
ill-built house never been regarded as a fine monument of architecture?
Why in music will not sharp and discordant sounds please the ears of any
one? And yet, very bad and barbarous tragedies, written in a style
perfectly Allobrogian, have succeeded, even after the sublime scenes of
Corneille, the affecting ones of Racine, and the fine pieces written
since the latter poet. It is only at the theatre that we sometimes see
detestable compositions succeed both in tragedy and comedy.

What is the reason of it? It is, that a species of delusion prevails at
the theatre; it is, that the success depends upon two or three actors,
and sometimes even upon a single one; and, above all, that a cabal is
formed in favor of such pieces, whilst men of taste never form any. This
cabal often lasts for an entire generation, and it is so much the more
active, as its object is less to elevate the bad author than to depress
the good one. A century possibly is necessary to adjust the real value
of things in the drama.

There are three kinds of taste, which in the long run prevail in the
empire of the arts. Poussin was obliged to quit France and leave the
field to an inferior painter; Le Moine killed himself in despair; and
Vanloo was near quitting the kingdom, to exercise his talents elsewhere.
Connoisseurs alone have put all of them in possession of the rank
belonging to them. We often witness all kinds of bad works meet with
prodigious success. The solecisms, barbarisms, false statement, and
extravagant bombast, are not felt for awhile, because the cabal and the
senseless enthusiasm of the vulgar produce an intoxication which
discriminates in nothing. The connoisseurs alone bring back the public
in due time; and it is the only difference which exists between the most
enlightened and the most cultivated of nations for the vulgar of Paris
are in no respect beyond; the vulgar of other countries; but in Paris
there is a sufficient number of correct opinions to lead the crowd. This
crowd is rapidly excited in popular movements, but many years are
necessary to establish in it a general good taste in the arts.


Taurobolium, a sacrifice of expiation, very common in the third and
fourth centuries. The throat of a bull was cut on a great stone slightly
hollowed and perforated in various places. Underneath this stone was a
trench, in which the person whose offence called for expiation received
upon his body and his face the blood of the immolated animal. Julian the
Philosopher condescended to submit to this expiation, to reconcile
himself to the priests of the Gentiles.


Pope Pius II., in an epistle to John Peregal, acknowledges that the
Roman court gives nothing without money; it sells even the imposition of
hands and the gifts of the Holy Ghost; nor does it grant the remission
of sins to any but the rich.

Before him, St. Antonine, archbishop of Florence, had observed that in
the time of Boniface IX., who died in 1404, the Roman court was so
infamously stained with simony, that benefices were conferred, not so
much on merit, as on those who brought a deal of money. He adds, that
this pope filled the world with plenary indulgences; so that the small
churches, on their festival days, obtained them at a low price.

That pontiff's secretary, Theodoric de Nieur, does indeed inform us,
that Boniface sent questors into different kingdoms, to sell indulgences
to such as should offer them as much money as it would have cost them to
make a journey to Rome to fetch them; so that they remitted all sins,
even without penance, to such as confessed, and granted them, for
money, dispensations for irregularities of every sort; saying, that they
had in that respect all the power which Christ had granted to Peter, of
binding and unbinding on earth.

And, what is still more singular, the price of every crime is fixed in a
Latin work, printed at Rome by order of Leo X., and published on
November 18, 1514, under the title of "Taxes of the Holy and Apostolic
Chancery and Penitentiary."

Among many other editions of this book, published in different
countries, the Paris edition--quarto 1520, Toussaint Denis, Rue St.
Jacques, at the wooden cross, near St. Yves, with the king's privilege,
for three years--bears in the frontispiece the arms of France, and those
of the house of Medici, to which Leo N. belonged. This must have
deceived the author of the "Picture of the Popes" (_Tableau de Papes_),
who attributes the establishment of these taxes to Leo X., although
Polydore Virgil, and Cardinal d'Ossat agree in fixing the period of the
invention of the chancery tax about the year 1320, and the commencement
of the penitentiary tax about sixteen years later, in the time of
Benedict XII.

To give some idea of these taxes, we will here copy a few articles from
the chapter of absolutions: Absolution for one who has carnally known
his mother, his sister, etc., costs five drachmas. Absolution for one
who has deflowered a virgin, six drachmas. Absolution for one who has
revealed another's confession, seven drachmas. Absolution for one who
has killed his father, his mother, etc., five drachmas. And so of other
sins, as we shall shortly see; but, at the end of the book, the prices
are estimated in ducats.

A sort of letters too are here spoken of, called confessional, by which,
at the approach of death, the pope permits a confessor to be chosen, who
gives full pardon for every sin; these letters are granted only to
princes, and not to them without great difficulty. These particulars
will be found in page 32 of the Paris edition.

The court of Rome was at length ashamed of this book, and suppressed it
as far as it was able. It was even inserted in the expurgatory index of
the Council of Trent, on the false supposition that heretics had
corrupted it.

It is true that Antoine Du Pinet, a French gentleman of Franche-Comté,
had an abstract of it printed at Lyons in 1564, under this title:
"Casual Perquisites of the Pope's Shop" (_Taxes des Parties Casuelles de
la Boutique du Pape_), "taken from the Decrees, Councils, and Canons,
ancient and modern, in order to verify the discipline formerly observed
in the Church; by A.D.P." But, although, he does not inform us that his
work is but an abridgment of the other, yet, far from corrupting his
original, he on the contrary strikes out of it some odious passages,
such as the following, beginning page 23, line 9 from the bottom, in
the Paris edition: "And carefully observe, that these kinds of graces
and dispensations are not granted to the poor, because, not having
wherewith, they cannot be consoled."

It is also true, that Du Pinet estimates these taxes in tournois,
ducats, and carlins; but, as he observes (page 42) that the carlins and
the drachmas are of the same value, the substituting for the tax of
five, six, or seven drachmas in the original, the like number of
carlins, is not falsifying it. We have a proof of this in the four
articles already quoted from the original.

Absolution--says Du Pinet--for one who has a carnal knowledge of his
mother, his sister, or any of his kindred by birth or affinity, or his
godmother, is taxed at five carlins. Absolution for one who deflowers a
young woman, is taxed at six carlins. Absolution for one who reveals the
confession of a penitent, is taxed at seven carlins. Absolution for one
who has killed his father, his mother, his brother, his sister, his
wife, or any of his kindred--they being of the laity--is taxed at five
carlins; for if the deceased was an ecclesiastic, the homicide would be
obliged to visit the sanctuary. We will here repeat a few others.

Absolution--continues Du Pinet--for any act of fornication whatsoever,
committed by a clerk, whether with a nun in the cloister or out of the
cloister, or with any of his kinswomen, or with his spiritual daughter,
or with any other woman whatsoever, costs thirty-six tournois, three
ducats. Absolution for a priest who keeps a concubine, twenty-one
tournois, live ducats, six carlins. The absolution of a layman for all
sorts of sins of the flesh, is given at the tribunal of conscience for
six tournois, two ducats.

The absolution of a layman for the crime of adultery, given at the
tribunal of conscience, costs four tournois; and if the adultery is
accompanied by incest, six tournois must be paid per head. If, besides
these crimes, is required the absolution of the sin against nature, or
of bestiality, there must be paid ninety tournois, twelve ducats, six
carlins; but if only the absolution of the crime against nature, or of
bestiality, is required, it will cost only thirty-six tournois, nine

A woman who has taken a beverage to procure an abortion, or the father
who has caused her to take it, shall pay four tournois, one ducat, eight
carlins; and if a stranger has given her the said beverage, he shall pay
four tournois, one ducat, five carlins.

A father, a mother, or any other relative, who has smothered a child,
shall pay four tournois, one ducat, eight carlins; and if it has been
killed by the husband and wife together, they shall pay six tournois,
two ducats.

The tax granted by the datary for the contracting of marriage out of the
permitted seasons, is twenty carlins; and in the permitted periods, if
the contracting parties are the second or third degree of kindred, it
is commonly twenty-five ducats, and four for expediting the bulls; and
in the fourth degree, seven tournois, one ducat, six carlins.

The dispensation of a layman from fasting on the days appointed by the
Church, and the permission to eat cheese, are taxed at twenty carlins.
The permission to eat meat and eggs on forbidden days is taxed at twelve
carlins; and that to eat butter, cheese, etc., at six tournois for one
person only; and at twelve tournois, three ducats, six carlins for a
whole family, or for several relatives.

The absolution of an apostate and a vagabond, who wishes to return into
the pale of the Church, costs twelve tournois, three ducats, six
carlins. The absolution and reinstatement of one who is guilty of
sacrilege, robbery, burning, rapine, perjury, and the like, is taxed at
thirty-six tournois, nine ducats.

Absolution for a servant who detains his deceased master's property, for
the payment of his wages, and after receiving notice does not restore
it, provided the property so detained does not exceed the amount of his
wages, is taxed in the tribunal of conscience at only six tournois, two
ducats. For changing the clauses of a will, the ordinary tax is twelve
tournois, three ducats, six carlins. The permission to change one's
proper name costs nine tournois, two ducats, nine carlins; and to change
the surname and mode of signing, six tournois, two ducats. The
permission to have a portable altar for one person only, is taxed at
ten carlins: and to have a domestic chapel on account of the distance of
the parish church, and furnish it with baptismal fonts and chaplains,
thirty carlins.

Lastly, the permission to convey merchandise, one or more times, to the
countries of the infidels, and in general to traffic and sell
merchandise without being obliged to obtain permission from the temporal
lords of the respected places, even though they be kings or emperors,
with all the very ample derogatory clauses, is taxed at only twenty-four
tournois, six ducats.

This permission, which supersedes that of the temporal lords, is a fresh
evidence of the papal pretensions, which we have already spoken of in
the article on "Bull." Besides, it is known that all rescripts, or
expeditions for benefices, are still paid for at Rome according to the
tax; and this charge always falls at last on the laity, by the
impositions which the subordinate clergy exact from them. We shall here
notice only the fees for marriages and burials.

A decree of the Parliament of Paris, of May 19, 1409, provides that
every one shall be at liberty to sleep with his wife as soon as he
pleases after the celebration of the marriage, without waiting for leave
from the bishop of Amiens, and without paying the fee required by that
prelate for taking off his prohibitions to consummate the marriage
during the first three nights of the nuptials. The monks of St. Stephen
of Nevers were deprived of the same fee by another decree of September
27, 1591. Some theologians have asserted, that it took its origin from
the fourth Council of Carthage, which had ordained it for the reverence
of the matrimonial benediction. But as that council did not order its
prohibition to be evaded by paying, it is more likely that this tax was
a consequence of the infamous custom which gave to certain lords the
first nuptial night of the brides of their vassals. Buchanan thinks that
this usage began in Scotland under King Evan.

Be this as it may, the lords of Prellay and Persanny, in Piedmont,
called this privilege "_carrajio_"; but having refused to commute it for
a reasonable payment, the vassals revolted, and put themselves under
Amadeus VI., fourteenth count of Savoy.

There is still preserved a _procès-verbal_, drawn up by M. Jean Fraguier,
auditor in the _Chambre des Comptes_, at Paris, by virtue of a decree of
the said chamber of April 7, 1507, for valuing the county of Eu, fallen
into the king's keeping by the minority of the children of the count of
Nevers, and his wife Charlotte de Bourbon. In the chapter of the revenue
of the barony of St. Martin-le-Gaillard, dependent on the county of Eu,
it is said: "Item, the said lord, at the said place of St. Martin, has
the right of 'cuissage' in case of marriage."

The lords of Souloire had the like privilege, and having omitted it in
the acknowledgment made by them to their sovereign, the lord of
Montlevrier, the acknowledgment was disapproved; but by deed of Dec.
15, 1607, the sieur de Montlevrier formally renounced it; and these
shameful privileges have everywhere been converted into small payments,
called "marchetta."

Now, when our prelates had fiefs, they thought--as the judicious Fleury
remarks--that they had as bishops what they possessed only as lords; and
the curates, as their under-vassals, bethought themselves of blessing
their nuptial bed, which brought them a small fee under the name of
wedding-dishes--i.e., their dinner, in money or in kind. On one of these
occasions the following quatrain was put by a country curate under the
pillow of a very aged president, who married a young woman named La
Montagne. He alludes to Moses' horns, which are spoken of in Exodus.

     _Le Président à barbe grise_
     _Sur La Montagne va monter;_
     _Mais certes il peut bien compter_
     _D'en descendre comme Moïse._

A word or two on the fees exacted by the clergy for the burial of the
laity. Formerly, at the decease of each individual, the bishops had the
contents of his will made known to them; and forbade those to receive
the rights of sepulchre who had died "unconfessed," i.e., left no legacy
to the Church, unless the relatives went to the official, who
commissioned a priest, or some other ecclesiastic, to repair the fault
of the deceased, and make a legacy in his name. The curates also opposed
the profession of such as wished to turn monks, until they had paid
their burial-fees; saying that since they died to the world, it was but
right that they should discharge what would have been due from them had
they been interred.

But the frequent disputes occasioned by these vexations obliged the
magistrates to fix the rate of these singular fees. The following is
extracted from a regulation on this subject, brought in by Francis de
Harlai de Chamvallon, archbishop of Paris, on May 30, 1693, and passed
in the court of parliament on the tenth of June following:

                                             Liv. Sous.
  For the publication of the bans..........    1   10

  For the betrothing.......................    2    0

  For celebrating the marriage.............    6    0

  For the certificate of the publication of
    the bans, and the permission given to
    the future husband to go and be married
    in the parish of his future wife.......    5    0

  For the wedding mass.....................    1   10

  For the vicar............................    1   10

  For the clerk of the sacrament...........    1   10

  For blessing the bed.....................    1   10

              _Funeral Processions._

    Of children under seven years old, when
      the clergy do not go in a body:
  For the curate...........................    1   10

  For each priest..........................    1   10

    When the clergy go in a body:
  For the curial fee.......................    4    0

  For the presence of the curate...........    2    0

  For each priest..........................    0   10

  For the vicar............................    1   10

  For each singing-boy, when they carry
    the body...............................    8    0

  And when they do not carry it............    5    0
    And so of young persons from seven to
      twelve years old.

    Of persons above twelve years old:
  For the curial fee.......................    6    0

  For the curate's attendance..............    4    0

  For each vicar...........................    2    0

  For the priest...........................    1    0

  For each singing-boy.....................    0   10

  Each of the priests that watch the body
    in the night, for drink, etc...........    3    0

  And in the day, each.....................    2    0

  For the celebration of the mass..........    1    0

  For the service extraordinary; called the
    complete service; viz., the vigils and
    the two masses of the Holy Ghost and
    the Holy Virgin........................    4   10

  For each of the priests that carry the
    body...................................    1    0

  For carrying the great cross.............    0   10

  For the holy water-pot carrier...........    0    5

  For carrying the little cross............    0    5

  For the clerk of the processions.........    0    1

    For conveying bodies from one church to
      another there shall be paid, for each
      of the above fees, one-half more.

  For the reception of bodies thus conveyed:
  To the curate............................    6   10

  To the vicar.............................    1   10

  To each priest...........................    0   15


Tears are the silent language of grief. But why? What relation is there
between a melancholy idea and this limpid and briny liquid filtered
through a little gland into the external corner of the eye which
moistens the conjunctiva and little lachrymal points, whence it descends
into the nose and mouth by the reservoir called the lachrymal duct, and
by its conduits? Why in women and children, whose organs are of a
delicate texture, are tears more easily excited by grief than in men,
whose formation is firmer?

Has nature intended to excite compassion in us at the sight of these
tears, which soften us and lead us to help those who shed them? The
female savage is as strongly determined to assist her child who cries,
as a lady of the court would be, and perhaps more so, because she has
fewer distractions and passions.

Everything in the animal body has, no doubt, its object. The eyes,
particularly, have mathematical relations so evident, so demonstrable,
so admirable with the rays of light; this mechanism is so divine, that I
should be tempted to take for the delirium of a high fever, the audacity
of denying the final causes of the structure of our eyes. The use of
tears appears not to have so determined and striking an object; but it
is probable that nature caused them to flow in order to excite us to

There are women who are accused of weeping when they choose. I am not at
all surprised at their talent. A lively, sensible, and tender
imagination can fix upon some object, on some melancholy recollection,
and represent it in such lively colors as to draw tears; which happens
to several performers, and particularly to actresses on the stage.

Women who imitate them in the interior of their houses, join to this
talent the little fraud of appearing to weep for their husbands, while
they really weep for their lovers. Their tears are true, but the object
of them is false.

It is impossible to affect tears without a subject, in the same manner
as we can affect to laugh. We must be sensibly touched to force the
lachrymal gland to compress itself, and to spread its liquor on the
orbit of the eye; but the will alone is required to laugh.

We demand why the same man, who has seen with a dry eye the most
atrocious events, and even committed crimes with sang-froid, will weep
at the theatre at the representation of similar events and crimes? It
is, that he sees them not with the same eyes; he sees them with those of
the author and the actor. He is no longer the same man; he was
barbarous, he was agitated with furious passions, when he saw an
innocent woman killed, when he stained himself with the blood of his
friend; he became a man again at the representation of it. His soul was
filled with a stormy tumult; it is now tranquil and void, and nature
re-entering it, he sheds virtuous tears. Such is the true merit, the
great good of theatrical representation, which can never be effected by
the cold declamation of an orator paid to tire an audience for an hour.

The capitoul David, who; without emotion, saw and caused the innocent
Calas to die on the wheel, would have shed tears at seeing his own crime
in a well-written and well-acted tragedy. Pope has elegantly said this
in the prologue to Addison's Cato:

     Tyrants no more their savage nature kept,
     And foes to virtue wondered how they wept.


Terelas, Pterelas, or Pterlaus, just which you please, was the son of
Taphus, or Taphius. Which signifies what you say? Gently, I will tell
you. This Terelas had a golden lock, to which was attached the destiny
of the town of Taphia, and what is more, this lock rendered Terelas
immortal, as he would not die while this lock remained upon his head;
for this reason he never combed it, lest he should comb it off. An
immortality, however, which depends upon a lock of hair, is not the most
certain of all things.

Amphitryon, general of the republic of Thebes, besieged Taphia, and the
daughter of King Terelas became desperately in love with him on seeing
him pass the ramparts. Thus excited, she stole to her father in the dead
of night, cut off his golden lock, and sent it to the general, in
consequence of which the town was taken, and Terelas killed. Some
learned men assure us, that it was the wife of Terelas who played him
this ill turn; and as they ground their opinions upon great authorities,
it might be rendered the subject of a useful dissertation. I confess
that I am somewhat inclined to be of the opinion of those learned
persons, as it appears to me that a wife is usually less timorous than a

The same thing happened to Nisus, king of Megara, which town was
besieged by Minos. Scylla, the daughter of Nisus, became madly in love
with him; and although in point of fact, her father did not possess a
lock of gold, he had one of purple, and it is known that on this lock
depended equally his life and the fate of the Megarian Empire. To oblige
Minos, the dutiful Scylla cut it off, and presented it to her lover.

"All the history of Minos is true," writes the profound Bannier; "and
this is attested by all antiquity." I believe it precisely as I do that
of Terelas, but I am embarrassed between the profound Calmet and the
profound Huet. Calmet is of opinion, that the adventure of the lock of
Nisus presented to Minos, and that of Terelas given to Amphitryon, are
obviously taken from the genuine history of Samson. Huet the
demonstrator, on the contrary shows, that Minos is evidently Moses, as
cutting out the letters _n_ and _e_, one of these names is the anagram
of the other.

But, notwithstanding the demonstration of Huet, I am entirely on the
side of the refined Dom Calmet, and for those who are of the opinion
that all which relates to the locks of Terelas and of Nisus is connected
with the hair of Samson. The most convincing of my triumphant reasons
is, that without reference to the family of Terelas, with the
metamorphoses of which I am unacquainted, it is certain that Scylla was
changed into a lark, and her father Nisus into a sparrow-hawk. Now,
Bochart being of opinion that a sparrow-hawk is called "neis" in
Hebrew, I thence conclude, that the history of Terelas, Amphitryon,
Nisus, and Minos is copied from the history of Samson.

I am aware that a dreadful sect has arisen in our days, equally detested
by God and man, who pretend that the Greek fables are more ancient than
the Jewish history; that the Greeks never heard a word of Samson any
more than of Adam, Eve, Cain, Abel, etc., which names are not cited by
any Greek author. They assert, as we have modestly intimated--in the
articles on "Bacchus" and "Jew"--that the Greeks could not possibly take
anything from the Jews, but that the Jews might derive something from
the Greeks.

I answer with the doctor Hayet, the doctor Gauchat, the ex-Jesuit
Patouillet, and the ex-Jesuit Paulian, that this is the most damnable
heresy which ever issued from hell; that it was formerly anathematized
in full parliament, on petition, and condemned in the report of the
Sieur P.; and finally, that if indulgence be extended to those who
support such frightful systems, there will be no more certainty in the
world; but that Antichrist will quickly arrive, if he has not come



This word is scientific, and a little obscure, signifying small
witnesses. Sixtus V., a Cordelier become pope, declared, by his letter
of the 25th of June, 1587, to his nuncio in Spain, that he must unmarry
all those who were not possessed of testicles. It seems by this order,
which was executed by Philip II., that there were many husbands in Spain
deprived of these two organs. But how could a man, who had been a
Cordelier, be ignorant that the testicles of men are often hidden in the
abdomen, and that they are equally if not more effective in that
situation? We have beheld in France three brothers of the highest rank,
one of whom possessed three, the other only one, while the third
possessed no appearance of any, and yet was the most vigorous of the

The angelic doctor, who was simply a Jacobin, decides that two testicles
are "_de essentia matrimonii_" (of the essence of marriage); in which
opinion he is followed by Ricardus, Scotus, Durandus, and Sylvius. If
you are not able to obtain a sight of the pleadings of the advocate
Sebastian Rouillard, in 1600, in favor of the testicles of his client,
concealed in his abdomen, at least consult the dictionary of Bayle, at
the article "Quellenec." You will there discover, that the wicked wife
of the client of Sebastian Rouillard wished to render her marriage void,
on the plea that her husband could not exhibit testicles. The defendant
replied, that he had perfectly fulfilled his matrimonial duties, and
offered the usual proof of a re-performance of them in full assembly.
The jilt replied, that this trial was too offensive to her modesty, and
was, moreover, superfluous, since the defendant was visibly deprived of
testicles, and that messieurs of the assembly were fully aware that
testicles are necessary to perfect consummation.

I am unacquainted with the result of this process, but I suspect that
her husband lost his cause. What induces me to think so is, that the
same Parliament of Paris, on the 8th of January, 1665, issued a decree,
asserting the necessity of two visible testicles, without which marriage
was not to be contracted. Had there been any member in the assembly in
the situation described, and reduced to the necessity of being a
witness, he might have convinced the assembly that it decided without a
due knowledge of circumstances. Pontas may be profitably consulted on
testicles, as well as upon any other subject. He was a sub-penitentiary,
who decided every sort of case, and who sometimes comes near to Sanchez.


A word or two on hermaphrodites. A prejudice has for a long time crept
into the Russian Church, that it is not lawful to say mass without
testicles; or, at least, they must be hid in the officiator's pocket.
This ancient idea was founded in the Council of Nice, who forbade the
admission into orders of those who mutilated themselves. The example of
Origen, and of certain enthusiasts, was the cause of this order, which
was confirmed a second time in the Council of Aries.

The Greek Church did not exclude from the altar those who had endured
the operation of Origen against their own consent. The patriarchs of
Constantinople, Nicetas, Ignatius, Photius, and Methodius, were eunuchs.
At present this point of discipline seems undecided in the Catholic
Church. The most general opinion, however, is, that in order to be
ordained a priest, a eunuch will require a dispensation.

The banishment of eunuchs from the service of the altar appears contrary
to the purity and chastity which the service exacts; and certainly such
of the priests as confess handsome women and girls would be exposed to
less temptation. Opposing reasons of convenience and decorum have
determined those who make these laws.

In Leviticus, all corporeal defects are excluded from the service of the
altar--the blind, the crooked, the maimed, the lame, the one-eyed, the
leper, the scabby, long noses, and short noses. Eunuchs are not spoken
of, as there were none among the Jews. Those who acted as eunuchs in the
service of their kings, were foreigners.

It has been demanded whether an animal, a man for example, can possess
at once testicles and ovaries, or the glands which are taken for
ovaries; in a word, the distinctive organs of both sexes? Can nature
form veritable hermaphrodites, and can a hermaphrodite be rendered
pregnant? I answer, that I know nothing about it, nor the
ten-thousandth part of what is within the operation of nature. I
believe, however, that Europe has never witnessed a genuine
hermaphrodite, nor has it indeed produced elephants, zebras, giraffes,
ostriches, and many more of the animals which inhabit Asia, Africa, and
America. It is hazardous to assert, that because we never beheld a
thing, it does not exist.

Examine "Cheselden," page 34, and you will behold there a very good
delineation of an animal man and woman--a negro and negress of Angola,
which was brought to London in its infancy, and carefully examined by
this celebrated surgeon, as much distinguished for his probity as his
information. The plate is entitled "Members of an Hermaphrodite Negro,
of the Age of Twenty-six Years, of both Sexes." They are not absolutely
perfect, but they exhibit a strange mixture of the one and the other.

Cheselden has frequently attested the truth of this prodigy, which,
however, is possibly no such thing in some of the countries of Africa.
The two sexes are not perfect in this instance; who can assure us, that
other negroes, mulatto, or copper-colored individuals, are not
absolutely male and female? It would be as reasonable to assert, that a
perfect statue cannot exist, because we have witnessed none without
defects. There are insects which possess both sexes; why may there not
be human beings similarly endowed? I affirm nothing; God keep me from
doing so. I only doubt.

How many things belong to the animal man, in respect to which he must
doubt, from his pineal gland to his spleen, the use of which is unknown;
and from the principle of his thoughts and sensations to his animal
spirits, of which everybody speaks, and which nobody ever saw or ever
will see!


Theism is a religion diffused through all religions; it is a metal which
mixes itself with all the others, the veins of which extend under ground
to the four corners of the world. This mine is more openly worked in
China; everywhere else it is hidden, and the secret is only in the hands
of the adepts.

There is no country where there are more of these adepts than in
England. In the last century there were many atheists in that country,
as well as in France and Italy. What the chancellor Bacon had said
proved true to the letter, that a little philosophy makes a man an
atheist, and that much philosophy leads to the knowledge of a God. When
it was believed with Epicurus, that chance made everything, or with
Aristotle, and even with several ancient theologians, that nothing was
created but through corruption, and that by matter and motion alone the
world goes on, then it was impossible to believe in a providence. But
since nature has been looked into, which the ancients did not perceive
at all; since it is observed that all is organized, that everything has
its germ; since it is well known that a mushroom is the work of
infinite wisdom, as well as all the worlds; then those who thought,
adored in the countries where their ancestors had blasphemed. The
physicians are become the heralds of providence; a catechist announces
God to children, and a Newton demonstrates Him to the learned.

Many persons ask whether theism, considered abstractedly, and without
any religious ceremony, is in fact a religion? The answer is easy: he
who recognizes only a creating God, he who views in God only a Being
infinitely powerful, and who sees in His creatures only wonderful
machines, is not religious towards Him any more than a European,
admiring the king of China, would thereby profess allegiance to that
prince. But he who thinks that God has deigned to place a relation
between Himself and mankind; that He has made him free, capable of good
and evil; that He has given all of them that good sense which is the
instinct of man, and on which the law of nature is founded; such a one
undoubtedly has a religion, and a much better religion than all those
sects who are beyond the pale of our Church; for all these sects are
false, and the law of nature is true. Thus, theism is good sense not yet
instructed by revelation; and other religions are good sense perverted
by superstition.

All sects differ, because they come from men; morality is everywhere the
same because it comes from God. It is asked why, out of five or six
hundred sects, there have scarcely been any who have not spilled blood;
and why the theists, who are everywhere so numerous, have never caused
the least disturbance? It is because they are philosophers. Now
philosophers may reason badly, but they never intrigue. Those who
persecute a philosopher, under the pretext that his opinions may be
dangerous to the public, are as absurd as those who are afraid that the
study of algebra will raise the price of bread in the market; one must
pity a thinking being who errs; the persecutor is frantic and horrible.
We are all brethren; if one of my brothers, full of respect and filial
love, inspired by the most fraternal charity, does not salute our common
Father with the same ceremonies as I do, ought I to cut his throat and
tear out his heart?

What is a true theist? It is he who says to God: "I adore and serve
You;" it is he who says to the Turk, to the Chinese, the Indian, and the
Russian: "I love you." He doubts, perhaps, that Mahomet made a journey
to the moon and put half of it in his pocket; he does not wish that
after his death his wife should burn herself from devotion; he is
sometimes tempted not to believe the story of the eleven thousand
virgins, and that of St. Amable, whose hat and gloves were carried by a
ray of the sun from Auvergne as far as Rome.

But for all that he is a just man. Noah would have placed him in his
ark, Numa Pompilius in his councils; he would have ascended the car of
Zoroaster; he would have talked philosophy with the Platos, the
Aristippuses, the Ciceros, the Atticuses--but would he not have drunk
hemlock with Socrates?


The theist is a man firmly persuaded of the existence of a Supreme Being
equally good and powerful, who has formed all extended, vegetating,
sentient, and reflecting existences; who perpetuates their species, who
punishes crimes without cruelty, and rewards virtuous actions with

The theist does not know how God punishes, how He rewards, how He
pardons; for he is not presumptuous enough to flatter himself that he
understands how God acts; but he knows that God does act, and that He is
just. The difficulties opposed to a providence do not stagger him in his
faith, because they are only great difficulties, not proofs; he submits
himself to that providence, although he only perceives some of its
effects and some appearances; and judging of the things he does not see
from those he does see, he thinks that this providence pervades all
places and all ages.

[Illustration: Death of Socrates.]

United in this principle with the rest of the universe, he does not join
any of the sects, who all contradict themselves; his religion is the
most ancient and the most extended; for the simple adoration of a
God has preceded all the systems in the world. He speaks a language
which all nations understand, while they are unable to understand each
other's. He has brethren from Pekin to Cayenne, and he reckons all the
wise his brothers. He believes that religion consists neither in the
opinions of incomprehensible metaphysics, nor in vain decorations, but
in adoration and justice. To do good--that is his worship; to submit
oneself to God--that is his doctrine. The Mahometan cries out to him:
"Take care of yourself, if you do not make the pilgrimage to Mecca."
"Woe be to thee," says a Franciscan, "if thou dost not make a journey to
our Lady of Loretto." He laughs at Loretto and Mecca; but he succors the
indigent and defends the oppressed.


_Government of God or Gods._

I deceive myself every day; but I suspect that all the nations who have
cultivated the arts have lived under a theocracy. I always except the
Chinese, who appear learned as soon as they became a nation. They were
free from superstition directly China was a kingdom. It is a great pity,
that having been raised so high at first, they should remain stationary
at the degree they have so long occupied in the sciences. It would seem
that they have received from nature an ample allowance of good sense,
and a very small one of industry. Yet in other things their industry is
displayed more than ours.

The Japanese, their neighbors, of whose origin I know nothing
whatever--for whose origin do we know?--were incontestably governed by a
theocracy. The earliest well-ascertained sovereigns were the "_dairos_,"
the high priests of their gods; this theocracy is well established.
These priests reigned despotically about eight hundred years. In the
middle of our twelfth century it came to pass that a captain, an
"_imperator_," a "_seogon_" shared their authority; and in our sixteenth
century the captains seized the whole power, and kept it. The "_dairos_"
have remained the heads of religion; they were kings--they are now only
saints; they regulate festivals, they bestow sacred titles, but they
cannot give a company of infantry.

The Brahmins in India possessed for a long time the theocratical power;
that is to say, they held the sovereign authority in the name of Brahma,
the son of God; and even in their present humble condition they still
believe their character indelible. These are the two principal among the
certain theocracies.

The priests of Chaldæa, Persia, Syria, Phœnicia, and Egypt, were so
powerful, had so great a share in the government, and carried the censer
so loftily above the sceptre, that empire may be said, among those
nations, to nave been divided between theocracy and royalty.

The government of Numa Pompilius was evidently theocratical. When a man
says: "I give you laws furnished by the gods; it is not I, it is a god
who speaks to you"--then it is God who is king, and he who talks thus is

Among all the Celtic nations who had only elective chiefs, and not
kings, the Druids and their sorceries governed everything. But I cannot
venture to give the name of theocracy to the anarchy of these savages.

The little Jewish nation does not deserve to be considered politically,
except on account of the prodigious revolution that has occurred in the
world, of which it was the very obscure and unconscious cause.

Do but consider the history of this strange people. They have a
conductor who undertakes to guide them in the name of his God to
Phœnicia, which he calls Canaan. The way was direct and plain, from
the country of Goshen as far as Tyre, from south to north; and there was
no danger for six hundred and thirty thousand fighting men, having at
their head a general like Moses, who, according to Flavius Josephus, had
already vanquished an army of Ethiopians, and even an army of serpents.

Instead of taking this short and easy route, he conducts them from
Rameses to Baal-Sephon, in an opposite direction, right into the middle
of Egypt, due south. He crosses the sea; he marches for forty years in
the most frightful deserts, where there is not a single spring of water,
or a tree, or a cultivated field--nothing but sand and dreary rocks. It
is evident that God alone could make the Jews, by a miracle, take this
route, and support them there by a succession of miracles.

The Jewish government therefore was then a true theocracy. Moses,
however, was never pontiff, and Aaron, who was pontiff, was never chief
nor legislator. After that time we do not find any pontiff governing.
Joshua, Jephthah, Samson, and the other chiefs of the people, except
Elias and Samuel, were not priests. The Jewish republic, reduced to
slavery so often, was anarchical rather than theocratical.

Under the kings of Judah and Israel, it was but a long succession of
assassinations and civil wars. These horrors were interrupted only by
the entire extinction of ten tribes, afterwards by the enslavement of
two others, and by the destruction of the city amidst famine and
pestilence. This was not then divine government.

When the Jewish slaves returned to Jerusalem, they were subdued by the
kings of Persia, by the conqueror Alexandria and his successors. It
appears that God did not then reign immediately over this nation, since
a little before the invasion of Alexander, the pontiff John assassinated
the priest Jesus, his brother, in the temple of Jerusalem, as Solomon
had assassinated his brother Adonijah on the altar.

The government was still less theocratical when Antiochus Epiphanes,
king of Syria, employed many of the Jews to punish those whom he
regarded as rebels. He forbade them all, under pain of death, to
circumcise their children; he compelled them to sacrifice swine in their
temple, to burn the gates, to destroy the altar; and the whole enclosure
was filled with thorns and brambles.

Matthias rose against him at the head of some citizens, but he was not
king. His son, Judas Maccabæus, taken for the Messiah, perished after
glorious struggles. To these bloody contests succeeded civil wars. The
men of Jerusalem destroyed Samaria, which the Romans subsequently
rebuilt under the name of Sebasta.

In this chaos of revolutions, Aristobulus, of the race of the Maccabees,
and son of a high priest, made himself king, more than five hundred
years after the destruction of Jerusalem. He signalized his reign like
some Turkish sultans, by cutting his brother's throat, and causing his
mother to be put to death. His successors followed his example, until
the period when the Romans punished all these barbarians. Nothing in all
this is theocratical.

If anything affords an idea of theocracy, it must be granted that it is
the papacy of Rome; it never announces itself but in the name of God,
and its subjects live in peace. For a long time Thibet enjoyed the same
advantages under the Grand Lama; but that is a gross error striving to
imitate a sublime truth.

The first Incas, by calling themselves descendants in a right line from
the sun, established a theocracy; everything was done in the name of the
sun. Theocracy ought to be universal; for every man, whether a prince or
a boatman, should obey the natural and eternal laws which God has given


Every prince who puts himself at the head of a party, and succeeds, is
sure of being praised to all eternity, if the party lasts that time; and
his adversaries may be assured that they will be treated by orators,
poets, and preachers, as Titans who revolted against the gods. This is
what happened to Octavius Augustus, when his good fortune made him
defeat Brutus, Cassius, and Antony. It was the lot of Constantine, when
Maxentius, the legitimate emperor, elected by the Roman senate and
people, fell into the water and was drowned.

Theodosius had the same advantage. Woe to the vanquished! blessed be the
victorious!--that is the motto of mankind. Theodosius was a Spanish
officer, the son of a Spanish soldier of fortune. As soon as he was
emperor he persecuted the anti-consubstantialists. Judge of the
applauses, benedictions, and pompous eulogies, on the part of the
consubstantialists! Their adversaries scarcely subsist any longer; their
complaints and clamors against the tyranny of Theodosius have perished
with them, and the predominant party still lavishes on this prince the
epithets of pious, just, clement, wise, and great.

One day this pious and clement prince, who loved money to distraction,
proposed laying a very heavy tax upon the city of Antioch, then the
finest of Asia Minor. The people, in despair, having demanded a slight
diminution, and not being able to obtain it, went so far as to break
some statues, among which was one of the soldier, the emperor's father.
St. John Chrysostom, or golden mouth, the priest and flatterer of
Theodosius, failed not to call this action a detestable sacrilege, since
Theodosius was the image of God, and his father was almost as sacred as
himself. But if this Spaniard resembled God, he should have remembered
that the Antiochians also resembled Him, and that men formed after the
exemplar of all the gods existed before emperors.

     _Finxit in effigiem moderantum cuncta deorum._
                                      --OVID, _Met._ i, b. 83.

Theodosius immediately sent a letter to the governor, with an order to
apply the torture to the principal images of God who had taken part in
this passing sedition; to make them perish under blows received from
cords terminated with leaden balls; to burn some, and deliver others up
to the sword. This was executed with all the punctuality of a governor
who did his duty like a Christian, who paid his court well, and who
would make his way there. The Orontes bore nothing but corpses to the
sea for several days; after which, his gracious imperial majesty
pardoned the Antiochians with his usual clemency, and doubled the tax.

How did the emperor Julian act in the same city, when he had received a
more personal and injurious outrage? It was not a paltry statue of his
father which they defaced; it was to himself that the Antiochians
addressed themselves, and against whom they composed the most violent
satires. The philosophical emperor answered them by a light and
ingenious satire. He took from them neither their lives nor their
purses. He contented himself with having more wit than they had. This is
the man whom St. Gregory Nazianzen and Theodoret, who were not of his
communion, dare to calumniate so far as to say that he sacrificed women
and children to the moon; while those who were of the communion of
Theodosius have persisted to our day in copying one another, by saying
in a hundred ways, that Theodosius was the most virtuous of men, and by
wishing to make him a saint.

We know well enough what was the mildness of this saint in the massacre
of fifteen thousand of his subjects at Thessalonica. His panegyrists
reduce the number of the murdered to seven or eight thousand, which is a
very small number to them; but they elevate to the sky the tender piety
of this good prince, who deprived himself of mass, as also that of his
accomplice, the detestable Rufinus. I confess once more, that it was a
great expiation, a great act of devotion, the not going to mass; but it
restores not life to fifteen thousand innocents, slain in cold blood by
an abominable perfidy. If a heretic was stained with such a crime, with
what pleasure would all historians turn their boasting against him; with
what colors would they paint him in the pulpits and college

I will suppose that the prince of Parma entered Paris, after having
forced our dear Henry IV. to raise the siege; I will suppose that Philip
II. gave the throne of France to his Catholic daughter, and to the young
Catholic duke of Guise; how many pens and voices would forever have
anathematized Henry IV., and the Salic law! They would be both
forgotten, and the Guises would be the heroes of the state and religion.
Thus it is--applaud the prosperous and fly the miserable! "_Et cole
felices, miseros fuge._"

If Hugh Capet dispossess the legitimate heir of Charlemagne, he becomes
the root of a race of heroes. If he fails, he may be treated as the
brother of St. Louis since treated Conradin and the duke of Austria, and
with much more reason.

Pepin rebels, dethrones the Merovingian race, and shuts his king in a
cloister; but if he succeeds not, he mounts the scaffold. If Clovis, the
first king of Belgic Gaul, is beaten in his invasion, he runs the risk
of being condemned to the fangs of beasts, as one of his ancestors was
by Constantine. Thus goes the world under the empire of fortune, which
is nothing but necessity, insurmountable fatality. "_Fortuna sævo læta
negotio._" She makes us blindly play her terrible game, and we never see
beneath the cards.



The theologian knows perfectly that, according to St. Thomas, angels are
corporeal with relation to God; that the soul receives its being in the
body; and that man has a vegetative, sensitive, and intellectual soul;
that the soul is all in all, and all in every part; that it is the
efficient and formal cause of the body; that it is the greatest in
nobleness of form; that the appetite is a passive power; that archangels
are the medium between angels and principalities; that baptism
regenerates of itself and by chance; that the catechism is not a
sacrament, but sacramental; that certainty springs from the cause and
subject; that concupiscence is the appetite of sensitive delectation;
that conscience is an act and not a power.

The angel of the schools has written about four thousand fine pages in
this style, and a shaven-crowned young man passes three years in filling
his brain with this sublime knowledge; after which he receives the
bonnet of a doctor of the Sorbonne, instead of going to Bedlam. If he is
a man of quality, or the son of a rich man, or intriguing and fortunate,
he becomes bishop, archbishop, cardinal, and pope.

If he is poor and without credit, he becomes the chaplain of one of
these people; it is he who preaches for them, who reads St. Thomas and
Scotus for them, who makes commandments for them, and who in a council
decides for them.

The title of theologian is so great that the fathers of the Council of
Trent give it to their cooks, "_cuoco celeste, gran theologo_." Their
science is the first of sciences, their condition the first of
conditions, and themselves the first of men; such the empire of true
doctrine; so much does reason govern mankind!

When a theologian has become--thanks to his arguments--either prince of
the holy Roman Empire, archbishop of Toledo, or one of the seventy
princes clothed in red, successors of the humble apostles, then the
successors of Galen and Hippocrates are at his service. They were his
equals when they studied in the same university; they had the same
degrees, and received the same furred bonnet. Fortune changes all; and
those who discovered the circulation of the blood, the lacteal veins,
and the thoracic canal, are the servants of those who have learned what
concomitant grace is, and have forgotten it.


I knew a true theologian; he was master of the languages of the East,
and was instructed as much as possible in the ancient rites of nations.
The Brahmins, Chaldæans, Fire-worshippers, Sabeans, Syrians, and
Egyptians, were as well known to him as the Jews; the several lessons of
the Bible were familiar to him; and for thirty years he had tried to
reconcile the gospels, and endeavored to make the fathers agree. He
sought in what time precisely the creed attributed to the apostles was
digested, and that which bears the name of Athanasius; how the
sacraments were instituted one after the other; what was the difference
between synaxis and mass; how the Christian Church was divided since its
origin into different parties, and how the predominating society treated
all the others as heretics. He sounded the depth of policy which always
mixes with these quarrels; and he distinguished between policy and
wisdom, between the pride which would subjugate minds and the desire of
self-illumination, between zeal and fanaticism.

The difficulty of arranging in his head so many things, the nature of
which is to be confounded, and of throwing a little light on so many
clouds, often checked him; but as these researches were the duty of his
profession, he gave himself up to them notwithstanding his distaste. He
at length arrived at knowledge unknown to the greater part of his
brethren: but the more learned he waxed, the more mistrustful he became
of all that he knew. While he lived he was indulgent; and at his death,
he confessed that he had spent his life uselessly.



     _Vidi et crudeles dantem Salmonea pœnas_
     _Dum flammas Jovis et sonitus imitatur Olympia, etc._
                             --VIRGIL, Æneid, b. vi, 1. 585.

     Salmoneus suffering cruel pains I found,
     For imitating Jove, the rattling sound
     Of mimic thunder, and the glittering blaze
     Of pointed lightnings and their forked rays.

Those who invented and perfected artillery are so many other
Salmoneuses. A cannon-ball of twenty-four pounds can make, and has often
made, more ravage than an hundred thunder-claps; yet no cannoneer has
ever been struck by Jupiter for imitating that which passes in the

We have seen that Polyphemus, in a piece of Euripides, boasts of making
more noise, when he had supped well, than the thunder of Jupiter.
Boileau, more honest than Polyphemus, says that another world astonishes
him, and that he believes in the immortality of the soul, and that it is
God who thunders:

     _Pour moi, qu'en santé même un autre monde étonne,_
     _Qui crois l'âme immortelle, et que c'est Dieu qui tonne._
                                       --SAT. i, line 161,162.

I know not why he is so astonished at another world, since all antiquity
believed in it. Astonish was not the proper word; it was alarm. He
believes that it is God who thunders; but he thunders only as he hails,
as he rains, and as he produces fine weather--as he operates all, as he
performs all. It is not because he is angry that he sends thunder and
rain. The ancients paint Jupiter taking thunder, composed of three
burning arrows, and hurling it at whomsoever he chose. Sound reason does
not agree with these poetical ideas.

Thunder is like everything else, the necessary effect of the laws of
nature, prescribed by its author. It is merely a great electrical
phenomenon. Franklin forces it to descend tranquilly on the earth; it
fell on Professor Richmann as on rocks and churches; and if it struck
Ajax Oileus, it was assuredly not because Minerva was irritated against

If it had fallen on Cartouche, or the abbé Desfontaines, people would
not have failed to say:

"Behold how God punishes thieves and--." But it is a useful prejudice to
make the sky fearful to the perverse. Thus all our tragic poets, when
they would rhyme to "_poudre_" or "_resoudre_," invariably make use of
"_foudre_"; and uniformly make "_tonnerre_" roll, when they would rhyme
to "_terre_."

Theseus, in "_Phèdre_," says to his son--act iv, scene 2:

     _Monstre, qu'à trop longtemps épargné le tonnerre,_
     _Reste impur des brigands dont j'ai purgé la terre!_

Severus, in "_Polyeucte_," without even having occasion to rhyme, when
he learns that his mistress is married, talks to Fabian, his friend, of
a clap of thunder. He says elsewhere to the same Fabian--act iv, scene
6--that a new clap of "_foudre_" strikes upon his hope, and reduces it
to "_poudre_":

     _Qu'est ceci, Fabian, quel nouveau coup de foudre_
     _Tombe sur mon espoir, et le réduit en poudre?_

A hope reduced to powder must astonish the pit! Lusignan, in "_Zaïre_,"
prays God that the thunder will burst on him alone:

     _Que la foudre en éclats ne tombe que sur moi._

If Tydeus consults the gods in the cave of a temple, the cave answers
him only by great claps of thunder.

     I've finally seen the thunder and "foudre"
     Reduce verses to cinders and rhymes into "poudre."

We must endeavor to thunder less frequently.

I could never clearly comprehend the fable of Jupiter and Thunder, in La
Fontaine--b. viii, fable 20.

     _Vulcain remplit ses fourneaux_
     _De deux sortes de carreaux._
     _L'un jamais ne se fourvoie,_
     _Et c'est celui que toujours_
     _L'Olympe en corps nous envoie._
     _L'autre s'écarte en son cours,_
     _Ce n'est qu'aux monts qu'il en coûte;_
     _Bien souvent même il se perd;_
     _Et ce dernier en sa route_
     _Nous vient du seul Jupiter._

"Vulcan fills his furnaces with two sorts of thunderbolts. The one never
wanders, and it is that which comes direct from Olympus. The other
diverges in its route, and only spends itself on mountains; it is often
even altogether dissipated. It is this last alone which proceeds from

Was the subject of this fable, which La Fontaine put into bad verse so
different from his general style, given to him? Would it infer that the
ministers of Louis XIV. were inflexible, and that the king pardoned?
Crébillon, in his academical discourse in foreign verse, says that
Cardinal Fleury is a wise depositary, the eagle, using his thunder, yet
the friend of peace:

     _Usant en citoyen du pouvoir arbitraire,_
     _Aigle de Jupiter, mais ami de la paix,_
     _Il gouverne la foudre, et ne tonne jamais._

He says that Marshal Villars made it appear that he survived Malplaquet
only to become more celebrated at Denain, and that with a clap of
thunder Prince Eugene was vanquished:

     _Fit voir, qu'à Malplaquet il n'avait survécu_
     _Que pour rendre à Denain sa valeur plus célèbre_
     _Et qu'un foudre du moins Eugène était vaincu._

Thus the eagle Fleury governed thunder without thundering, and Eugene
was vanquished by thunder. Here is quite enough of thunder.


Horace, sometimes the debauched and sometimes the moral, has said--book
i, ode 3--that our folly extends to heaven itself: "_Cœlum ipsum
petimus stultitia._"

We can say at present that we carry our wisdom to heaven, if we may be
permitted to call that blue and white mass of exhalations which causes
winds, rain, snow, hail, and thunder, heaven. We have decomposed the
thunderbolt, as Newton disentangled light. We have perceived that these
thunderbolts, formerly borne by the eagle of Jupiter, are really only
electric fire; that in short we can draw down thunder, conduct it,
divide it, and render ourselves masters of it, as we make the rays of
light pass through a prism, as we give course to the waters which fall
from heaven, that is to say, from the height of half a league from our
atmosphere. We plant a high fir with the branches lopped off, the top of
which is covered with a cone of iron. The clouds which form thunder are
electrical; their electricity is communicated to this cone, and a brass
wire which is attached to it conducts the matter of thunder wherever we
please. An ingenious physician calls this experiment the inoculation of

It is true, that inoculation for the smallpox, which has preserved so
many mortals, caused some to perish, to whom the smallpox had been
inconsiderately given; and in like manner the inoculation of thunder
ill-performed would be dangerous. There are great lords whom we can only
approach with the greatest precaution, and thunder is of this number. We
know that the mathematical professor Richmann was killed at St.
Petersburg, in 1753, by a thunderbolt which he had drawn into his
chamber: "_Arte sua periit._" As he was a philosopher, a theological
professor failed not to publish that he had been thunderstruck like
Salmoneus, for having usurped the rights of God, and for wishing to hurl
the thunder: but if the physician had directed the brass wire outside
the house, and not into his pent-up chamber, he would not have shared
the lot of Salmoneus, Ajax Oileus, the emperor Carus, the son of a
French minister of state, and of several monks in the Pyrenees.



What is toleration? It is the appurtenance of humanity. We are all full
of weakness and errors; let us mutually pardon each other our
follies--it is the first law of nature.

When, on the exchange of Amsterdam, of London, of Surat, or of Bassora,
the Gueber, the Banian, the Jew, the Mahometan, the Chinese Deist, the
Brahmin, the Christian of the Greek Church, the Roman Catholic
Christian, the Protestant Christian, and the Quaker Christian, traffic
together, they do not lift the poniard against each other, in order to
gain souls for their religion. Why then have we been cutting one
another's throats almost without interruption since the first Council of

Constantine began by issuing an edict which allowed all religions, and
ended by persecuting. Before him, tumults were excited against the
Christians, only because they began to make a party in the state. The
Romans permitted all kinds of worship, even those of the Jews, and of
the Egyptians, for whom they had so much contempt. Why did Rome tolerate
these religions? Because neither the Egyptians, nor even the Jews,
aimed at exterminating the ancient religion of the empire, or ranged
through land and sea for proselytes; they thought only of money-getting;
but it is undeniable, that the Christians wished their own religion to
be the dominant one. The Jews would not suffer the statue of Jupiter at
Jerusalem, but the Christians wished it not to be in the capitol. St.
Thomas had the candor to avow, that if the Christians did not dethrone
the emperors, it was because they could not. Their opinion was, that the
whole earth ought to be Christian. They were therefore necessarily
enemies to the whole earth, until it was converted.

Among themselves, they were the enemies of each other on all their
points of controversy. Was it first of all necessary to regard Jesus
Christ as God? Those who denied it were anathematized under the name of
Ebionites, who themselves anathematized the adorers of Jesus.

Did some among them wish all things to be in common, as it is pretended
they were in the time of the apostles? Their adversaries called them
Nicolaites, and accused them of the most infamous crimes. Did others
profess a mystical devotion? They were termed Gnostics, and attacked
with fury. Did Marcion dispute on the Trinity? He was treated as an

Tertullian, Praxeas, Origen, Novatus, Novatian, Sabellius, Donatus, were
all persecuted by their brethren, before Constantine; and scarcely had
Constantine made the Christian religion the ruling one, when the
Athanasians and the Eusebians tore each other to pieces; and from that
time to our own days, the Christian Church has been deluged with blood.

The Jewish people were, I confess, a very barbarous nation. They
mercilessly cut the throats of all the inhabitants of an unfortunate
little country upon which they had no more claim than they had upon
Paris or London. However, when Naaman was cured of the leprosy by being
plunged seven times in the Jordan--when, in order to testify his
gratitude to Elisha, who had taught him the secret, he told him he would
adore the god of the Jews from gratitude, he reserved to himself the
liberty to adore also the god of his own king; he asked Elisha's
permission to do so, and the prophet did not hesitate to grant it. The
Jews adored their god, but they were never astonished that every nation
had its own. They approved of Chemos having given a certain district to
the Moabites, provided their god would give them one also. Jacob did not
hesitate to marry the daughters of an idolater. Laban had his god, as
Jacob had his. Such are the examples of toleration among the most
intolerant and cruel people of antiquity. We have imitated them in their
absurd passions, and not in their indulgence.

It is clear that every private individual who persecutes a man, his
brother, because he is not of the same opinion, is a monster. This
admits of no difficulty. But the government, the magistrates, the
princes!--how do they conduct themselves towards those who have a faith
different from their own? If they are powerful foreigners, it is certain
that a prince will form an alliance with them. The Most Christian
Francis I. will league himself with the Mussulmans against the Most
Catholic Charles V. Francis I. will give money to the Lutherans in
Germany, to support them in their rebellion against their emperor; but
he will commence, as usual, by having the Lutherans in his own country
burned. He pays them in Saxony from policy; he burns them in Paris from
policy. But what follows? Persecutions make proselytes. France will soon
be filled with new Protestants. At first they will submit to be hanged;
afterwards they will hang in their turn. There will be civil wars; then
Saint Bartholomew will come; and this corner of the world will be worse
than all that the ancients and moderns have ever said of hell.

Blockheads, who have never been able to render a pure worship to the God
who made you! Wretches, whom the example of the Noachides, the Chinese
literati, the Parsees, and of all the wise, has not availed to guide!
Monsters, who need superstitions, just as the gizzard of a raven needs
carrion! We have already told you--and we have nothing else to say--if
you have two religions among you, they will massacre each other; if you
have thirty, they will live in peace. Look at the Grand Turk: he governs
Guebers, Banians, Christians of the Greek Church, Nestorians, and Roman
Catholics. The first who would excite a tumult is empaled; and all is


Of all religions, the Christian ought doubtless to inspire the most
toleration, although hitherto the Christians have been the most
intolerant of all men. Jesus, having deigned to be born in poverty and
lowliness like his brethren, never condescended to practise the art of
writing. The Jews had a law written with the greatest minuteness, and we
have not a single line from the hand of Jesus. The apostles were divided
on many points. St. Peter and St. Barnabas ate forbidden meats with the
new stranger Christians, and abstained from them with the Jewish
Christians. St. Paul reproached them with this conduct; and this same
St. Paul, the Pharisee, the disciple of the Pharisee Gamaliel--this same
St. Paul, who had persecuted the Christians with fury, and who after
breaking with Gamaliel became a Christian himself--nevertheless, went
afterwards to sacrifice in the temple of Jerusalem, during his apostolic
vacation. For eight days he observed publicly all the ceremonies of the
Jewish law which he had renounced; he even added devotions and
purifications which were superabundant; he completely Judaized. The
greatest apostle of the Christians did, for eight days, the very things
for which men are condemned to the stake among a large portion of
Christian nations.

Theudas and Judas were called Messiahs, before Jesus: Dositheus, Simon,
Menander, called themselves Messiahs, after Jesus. From the first
century of the Church, and before even the name of Christian was known,
there were a score of sects in Judæa.

The contemplative Gnostics, the Dositheans, the Cerintheins, existed
before the disciples of Jesus had taken the name of Christians. There
were soon thirty churches, each of which belonged to a different
society; and by the close of the first century thirty sects of
Christians might be reckoned in Asia Minor, in Syria, in Alexandria, and
even in Rome.

All these sects, despised by the Roman government, and concealed in
their obscurity, nevertheless persecuted each other in the hiding holes
where they lurked; that is to say, they reproached one another. This is
all they could do in their abject condition: they were almost wholly
composed of the dregs of the people.

When at length some Christians had embraced the dogmas of Plato, and
mingled a little philosophy with their religion, which they separated
from the Jewish, they insensibly became more considerable, but were
always divided into many sects, without there ever having been a time
when the Christian church was reunited. It took its origin in the midst
of the divisions of the Jews, the Samaritans, the Pharisees, the
Sadducees, the Essenians, the Judaites, the disciples of John, and the
Therapeutae. It was divided in its infancy; it was divided even amid
the persecutions it sometimes endured under the first emperors. The
martyr was often regarded by his brethren as an apostate; and the
Carpocratian Christian expired under the sword of the Roman executioner,
excommunicated by the Ebionite Christian, which Ebionite was
anathematized by the Sabellian.

This horrible discord, lasting for so many centuries, is a very striking
lesson that we ought mutually to forgive each other's errors: discord is
the great evil of the human species, and toleration is its only remedy.

There is nobody who does not assent to this truth, whether meditating
coolly in his closet, or examining the truth peaceably with his friends.
Why, then, do the same men who in private admit charity, beneficence,
and justice, oppose themselves in public so furiously against these
virtues? Why!--it is because their interest is their god; because they
sacrifice all to that monster whom they adore.

I possess dignity and power, which ignorance and credulity have founded.
I trample on the heads of men prostrated at my feet; if they should rise
and look me in the face, I am lost; they must, therefore, be kept bound
down to the earth with chains of iron.

Thus have men reasoned, whom ages of fanaticism have rendered powerful.
They have other persons in power under them, and these latter again have
underlings, who enrich themselves with the spoils of the poor man,
fatten themselves with his blood, and laugh at his imbecility. They
detest all toleration, as contractors enriched at the expense of the
public are afraid to render their accounts, and as tyrants dread the
name of liberty. To crown all, in short, they encourage fanatics who cry
aloud: Respect the absurdities of my master; tremble, pay, and be

Such was the practice for a long time in a great part of the world; but
now, when so many sects are balanced by their power, what side must we
take among them? Every sect, we know, is a mere title of error; while
there is no sect of geometricians, of algebraists, of arithmeticians;
because all the propositions of geometry, algebra, and arithmetic, are
true. In all the other sciences, one may be mistaken. What Thomist or
Scotist theologian can venture to assert seriously that he goes on sure

If there is any sect which reminds one of the time of the first
Christians, it is undeniably that of the Quakers. The apostles received
the spirit. The Quakers receive the spirit. The apostles and disciples
spoke three or four at once in the assembly in the third story; the
Quakers do as much on the ground floor. Women were permitted to preach,
according to St. Paul, and they were forbidden according to the same St.
Paul: the Quakeresses preach by virtue of the first permission.

The apostles and disciples swore by yea and nay; the Quakers will not
swear in any other form. There was no rank, no difference of dress,
among apostles and disciples; the Quakers have sleeves without buttons,
and are all clothed alike. Jesus Christ baptized none of his apostles;
the Quakers are never baptized.

It would be easy to push the parallel farther; it would be still easier
to demonstrate how much the Christian religion of our day differs from
the religion which Jesus practised. Jesus was a Jew, and we are not
Jews. Jesus abstained from pork, because it is uncleanly, and from
rabbit, because it ruminates and its foot is not cloven; we fearlessly
eat pork, because it is not uncleanly for us, and we eat rabbit which
has the cloven foot and does not ruminate.

Jesus was circumcised, and we retain our foreskin. Jesus ate the Paschal
lamb with lettuce, He celebrated the feast of the tabernacles; and we do
nothing of this. He observed the Sabbath, and we have changed it; He
sacrificed, and we never sacrifice.

Jesus always concealed the mystery of His incarnation and His dignity;
He never said He was equal to God. St. Paul says expressly, in his
Epistle to the Hebrews, that God created Jesus inferior to the angels;
and in spite of St. Paul's words, Jesus was acknowledged as God at the
Council of Nice.

Jesus has not given the pope either the march of Ancona or the duchy of
Spoleto; and, notwithstanding, the pope possesses them by divine right.
Jesus did not make a sacrament either of marriage or of deaconry; and,
with us, marriage and deaconry are sacraments. If we would attend
closely to the fact, the Catholic, apostolic, and Roman religion is, in
all its ceremonies and in all its dogma, the reverse of the religion of

But what! must we all Judaize, because Jesus Judaized all His life? If
it were allowed to reason logically in matters of religion, it is clear
that we ought all to become Jews, since Jesus Christ, our Saviour, was
born a Jew, lived a Jew and died a Jew, and since He expressly said,
that He accomplished and fulfilled the Jewish religion. But it is still
more clear that we ought mutually to tolerate one another, because we
are all weak, irrational, and subject to change and error. A reed
prostrated by the wind in the mire--ought it to say to a neighboring
reed placed in a contrary direction: Creep after my fashion, wretch, or
I will present a request for you to be seized and burned?


My friends, when we have preached toleration in prose and in verse, in
some of our pulpits, and in all our societies--when we have made these
true human voices resound in the organs of our churches--we have done
something for nature, we have reestablished humanity in its rights;
there will no longer be an ex-Jesuit, or an ex-Jansenist, who dares to
say, I am intolerant.

There will always be barbarians and cheats who will foment intolerance;
but they will not avow it--and that is something gained. Let us always
bear in mind, my friends, let us repeat--for we must repeat, for fear it
should be forgotten--the words of the bishop of Soissons, not Languet,
but Fitzjames-Stuart, in his mandate of 1757: "We ought to regard the
Turks as our brethren."

Let us consider, that throughout English America, which constitutes
nearly the fourth part of the known world, entire liberty of conscience
is established; and provided a man believes in a God, every religion is
well received: notwithstanding which, commerce flourishes and population
increases. Let us always reflect, that the first law of the Empire of
Russia, which is greater than the Roman Empire, is the toleration of
every sect.

The Turkish Empire, and the Persian, always allowed the same indulgence.
Mahomet II., when he took Constantinople, did not force the Greeks to
abandon their religion, although he looked on them as idolaters. Every
Greek father of a family got off for five or six crowns a year. Many
prebends and bishoprics were preserved for them; and even at this day
the Turkish sultan makes canons and bishops, without the pope having
ever made an imam or a mollah.

My friends, there are only some monks, and some Protestants as barbarous
as those monks, who are still intolerant. We have been so infected with
this furor, that in our voyages of long duration, we have carried it to
China, to Tonquin, and Japan. We have introduced the plague to those
beautiful climes. The most indulgent of mankind have been taught by us
to be the most inflexible. We said to them at the outset, in return for
their kind welcome--Know that we alone on the earth are in the right,
and that we ought to be masters everywhere. Then they drove us away
forever. This lesson, which has cost seas of blood, ought to correct us.


The author of the preceding article is a worthy man who would sup with a
Quaker, an Anabaptist, a Socinian, a Mussulman, etc. _I_ would push this
civility farther; I would say to my brother the Turk--Let us eat
together a good hen with rice, invoking Allah; your religion seems to me
very respectable; you adore but one God; you are obliged to give the
fortieth part of your revenue every day in alms, and to be reconciled
with your enemies on the day of the Bairam. Our bigots, who calumniate
the world, have said a hundred times, that your religion succeeded only
because it was wholly sensual. They have lied, poor fellows! Your
religion is very austere; it commands prayer five times a day; it
imposes the most rigorous fast; it denies you the wine and the liquors
which our spiritual directors encourage; and if it permits only four
wives to those who can support them--which are very few--it condemns by
this restriction the Jewish incontinence, which allowed eighteen wives
to the homicide David, and seven hundred, without reckoning concubines,
to Solomon, the assassin of his brother.

I will say to my brother the Chinese: Let us sup together without
ceremony, for I dislike grimaces; but I like your law, the wisest of
all, and perhaps the most ancient. I will say nearly as much to my
brother the Indian.

But what shall I say to my brother the Jew? Shall I invite him to
supper? Yes, on condition that, during the repast, Balaam's ass does not
take it into its head to bray; that Ezekiel does not mix his dinner with
our supper; that a fish does not swallow up one of the guests, and keep
him three days in his belly; that a serpent does not join in the
conversation, in order to seduce my wife; that a prophet does not think
proper to sleep with her, as the worthy man, Hosea, did for five francs
and a bushel of barley; above all, that no Jew parades through my house
to the sound of the trumpet, causes the walls to fall down, and cuts the
throats of myself, my father, my mother, my wife, my children, my cat
and my dog, according to the ancient practice of the Jews. Come, my
friends, let us have peace, and say our _benedicite_.


Tophet was, and is still, a precipice near Jerusalem, in the valley of
Hinnom, which is a frightful place, abounding only in flints. It was in
this dreary solitude that the Jews immolated their children to their
god, whom they then called Moloch; for we have observed, that they
always bestowed a foreign name on their god. _Shadai_ was Syrian;
_Adonai_, Phœnician; _Jehovah_ was also Phœnician; _Eloi_,
_Elohim_, _Eloa_, Chaldæan; and in the same manner, the names of all
their angels were Chaldæan or Persian. This we have remarked very

All these different names equally signify "the lord," in the jargon of
the petty nations bordering on Palestine. The word _Moloch_ is evidently
derived from _Melk_, which was the same as _Melcom_ or _Melcon_, the
divinity of the thousand women in the seraglio of Solomon; to-wit, seven
hundred wives and three hundred concubines. All these names signify
"lord": each village had its lord.

Some sages pretend that Moloch was more particularly the god of fire;
and that it was on that account the Jews burned their children in the
hollow of the idol of this same Moloch. It was a large statue of copper,
rendered as hideous as the Jews could make it. They heated the statue
red hot, in a large fire, although they had very little fuel, and cast
their children into the belly of this god, as our cooks cast living
lobsters into the boiling water of their cauldrons. Such were the
ancient Celts and Tudescans, when they burned children in honor of
Teutates and Hirminsule. Such the Gallic virtue, and the German

Jeremiah wished, in vain, to detach the Jewish people from this
diabolical worship. In vain he reproaches them with having built a sort
of temple to Moloch in this abominable valley. "They have built high
places in Tophet, which is in the valley of the children of Hinnom, in
order to pass their sons and daughters through the fire."

The Jews paid so much the less regard to the reproaches of Jeremiah, as
they fiercely accused him of having sold himself to the king of Babylon;
of having uniformly prophesied in his favor; and of having betrayed his
country. In short, he suffered the punishment of a traitor; he was
stoned to death.

The Book of Kings informs us, that Solomon built a temple to Moloch, but
it does not say that it was in the valley of Tophet, but in the vicinity
upon the Mount of Olives. The situation was fine, if anything can be
called fine in the frightful neighborhood of Jerusalem.

Some commentators pretend, that Ahaz, king of Judah, burned his son in
honor of Moloch, and that King Manasses was guilty of the same
barbarity. Other commentators suppose, that these kings of the chosen
people of God were content with casting their children into the flames,
but that they were not burned to death. I wish that it may have been so;
but it is very difficult for a child not to be burned when placed on a
lighted pile.

This valley of Tophet was the "Clamart" of Paris, the place where they
deposited all the rubbish and carrion of the city. It was in this
valley that they cast loose the scape-goat; it was the place in which
the bodies of the two criminals were cast who suffered with the Son of
God; but our Saviour did not permit His body, which was given up to the
executioner, to be cast in the highway of the valley of Tophet,
according to custom. It is true, that He might have risen again in
Tophet, as well as in Calvary; but a good Jew, named Joseph, a native of
Arimathea, who had prepared a sepulchre for himself on Mount Calvary,
placed the body of the Saviour therein, according to the testimony of
St. Matthew. No one was allowed to be buried in the towns; even the tomb
of David was not in Jerusalem.

Joseph of Arimathea was rich--"a certain rich man of Arimathea,"--that
the prophecy of Isaiah might be fulfilled: "And he made his grave with
the wicked, and with the rich in his death."


Though there are few articles of jurisprudence in these honest
alphabetical reflections, we must, however, say a word or two on
torture, otherwise called "the question"; which is a strange manner of
questioning men. They were not, however, the simply curious who invented
it; there is every appearance, that this part of our legislation owes
its first origin to a highwayman. Most of these gentlemen are still in
the habit of screwing thumbs, burning feet, and questioning, by various
torments, those who refuse to tell them where they have put their money.

Conquerors having succeeded these thieves, found the invention very
useful to their interests; they made use of it when they suspected that
there were bad designs against them: as, for example, that of seeking
freedom was a crime of high treason, human and divine. The accomplices
must be known; and to accomplish it, those who were suspected were made
to suffer a thousand deaths, because, according to the jurisprudence of
these primitive heroes, whoever was suspected of merely having a
disrespectful opinion of them, was worthy of death. As soon as they have
thus merited death, it signifies little whether they had frightful
torments for several days, and even weeks previously--a practice which
savors, I know not how, of the Divinity. Providence sometimes puts us to
the torture by employing the stone, gravel, gout, scrofula, leprosy,
smallpox; by tearing the entrails, by convulsions of the nerves,-and
other executors of the vengeance of Providence.

Now, as the first despots were, in the eyes of their courtiers, images
of the Divinity, they imitated it as much as they could. What is very
singular is, that the question, or torture, is never spoken of in the
Jewish books. It is a great pity that so mild, honest, and compassionate
a nation knew not this method of discovering the truth. In my opinion,
the reason is, that they had no need of it. God always made it known to
them as to His cherished people. Sometimes they played at dice to
discover the truth, and the suspected culprit always had double sixes.
Sometimes they went to the high priest, who immediately consulted God by
the urim and thummim. Sometimes they addressed themselves to the seer
and prophet; and you may believe that the seer and prophet discovered
the most hidden things, as well as the urim and thummim of the high
priest. The people of God were not reduced, like ourselves, to
interrogating and conjecturing; and therefore torture could not be in
use among them, which was the only thing wanting to complete the manners
of that holy people. The Romans inflicted torture on slaves alone, but
slaves were not considered as men. Neither is there any appearance that
a counsellor of the criminal court regards as one of his
fellow-creatures, a man who is brought to him wan, pale, distorted, with
sunken eyes, long and dirty beard, covered with vermin with which he has
been tormented in a dungeon. He gives himself the pleasure of applying
to him the major and minor torture, in the presence of a surgeon, who
counts his pulse until he is in danger of death, after which they
recommence; and as the comedy of the "Plaideurs" pleasantly says, "that
serves to pass away an hour or two."

The grave magistrate, who for money has bought the right of making these
experiments on his neighbor, relates to his wife, at dinner, that which
has passed in the morning. The first time, madam shudders at it; the
second, she takes some pleasure in it, because, after all, women are
curious; and afterwards, the first thing she says when he enters is: "My
dear, have you tortured anybody to-day?" The French, who are considered,
I know not why, a very humane people, are astonished that the English,
who have had the inhumanity to take all Canada from us, have renounced
the pleasure of putting the question.

When the Chevalier de Barre, the grandson of a lieutenant-general of the
army, a young man of much sense and great expectations, but possessing
all the giddiness of unbridled youth, was convicted of having sung
impious songs, and even of having dared to pass before a procession of
Capuchins without taking his hat off, the judges of Abbeville, men
comparable to Roman senators, ordered not only that his tongue should be
torn out, that his hands should be torn off, and his body burned at a
slow fire, but they further applied the torture, to know precisely how
many songs he had sung, and how many processions he had seen with his
hat on his head.

It was not in the thirteenth or fourteenth century that this affair
happened; it was in the eighteenth. Foreign nations judge of France by
its spectacles, romances, and pretty verses; by opera girls who have
very sweet manners, by opera dancers who posssess grace; by
Mademoiselle Clairon, who declaims delightfully. They know not that,
under all, there is not a more cruel nation than the French. The
Russians were considered barbarians in 1700; this is only the year 1769;
yet an empress has just given to this great state laws which would do
honor to Minos, Numa, or Solon, if they had had intelligence enough to
invent them. The most remarkable is universal tolerance; the second is
the abolition of torture. Justice and humanity have guided her pen; she
has reformed all. Woe to a nation which, being more civilized, is still
led by ancient atrocious customs! "Why should we change our
jurisprudence?" say we. "Europe is indebted to us for cooks, tailors,
and wig-makers; therefore, our laws are good."


Protestants, and above all, philosophical Protestants, regard
transubstantiation as the most signal proof of extreme impudence in
monks, and of imbecility in laymen. They hold no terms with this belief,
which they call monstrous, and assert that it is impossible for a man of
good sense ever to have believed in it. It is, say they, so absurd, so
contrary to every physical law, and so contradictory, it would be a sort
of annihilation of God, to suppose Him capable of such inconsistency.
Not only a god in a wafer, but a god in the place of a wafer; a thousand
crumbs of bread become in an instant so many gods, which an innumerable
crowd of gods make only one god. Whiteness without a white substance;
roundness without rotundity of body; wine changed into blood, retaining
the taste of wine; bread changed into flesh and into fibres, still
preserving the taste of bread--all this inspires such a degree of horror
and contempt in the enemies of the Catholic, apostolic, and Roman
religion, that it sometimes insensibly verges into rage.

Their horror augments when they are told that, in Catholic countries,
are monks who rise from a bed of impurity, and with unwashed hands make
gods by hundreds; who eat and drink these gods, and reduce them to the
usual consequences of such an operation. But when they reflect that this
superstition, a thousand times more absurd and sacrilegious than those
of Egypt, produces for an Italian priest from fifteen to twenty millions
of revenue, and the domination of a country containing a hundred
thousand square leagues, they are ready to march with their arms in
their hands and drive away this priest from the palace of Cæsar. I know
not if I shall be of the party, because I love peace; but when
established at Rome, I will certainly pay them a visit.--By M.
GUILLAUME, a Protestant minister.


The first among the Westerns who spoke of the Trinity was Timæus of
Locri, in his "Soul of the World." First came the Idea, the perpetual
model or archetype of all things engendered; that is to say, the first
"Word," the internal and intelligible "Word." Afterwards, the unformed
mode, the second word, or the word spoken. Lastly, the "son," or
sensible world, or the spirit of the world. These three qualities
constitute the entire world, which world is the Son of God "Monogenes."
He has a soul and possessed reason; he is "_empsukos, logikos_."

God, wishing to make a very fine God, has engendered one: "_Touton epoie
theon genaton._"

It is difficult clearly to comprehend the system of Timæus, which he
perhaps derived from the Egyptians or Brahmins. I know not whether it
was well understood in his time. It is like decayed and rusty medals,
the motto of which is effaced: it could be read formerly; at present, we
put what construction we please upon it.

It does not appear that this sublime balderdash made much progress until
the time of Plato. It was buried in oblivion, and Plato raised it up. He
constructed his edifice in the air, but on the model of Timæus. He
admits three divine essences: the Father, the Supreme Creator, the
Parent of other gods, is the first essence. The second is the visible
God, the minister of the invisible one, the "Word," the understanding,
the great spirit. The third is the world.

It is true, that Plato sometimes says quite different and even quite
contrary things; it is the privilege of the Greek philosophers; and
Plato has made use of his right more than any of the ancients or
moderns. A Greek wind wafted these philosophical clouds from Athens to
Alexandria, a town prodigiously infatuated with two things--money and
chimeras. There were Jews in Alexandria who, having made their fortunes,
turned philosophers.

Metaphysics have this advantage, that they require no very troublesome
preliminaries. We may know all about them without having learned
anything; and a little to those who have at once subtle and very false
minds, will go a great way. Philo the Jew was a philosopher of this
kind; he was contemporary with Jesus Christ; but he has the misfortune
of not knowing Him any more than Josephus the historian. These two
considerable men, employed in the chaos of affairs of state, were too
far distant from the dawning light. This Philo had quite a metaphysical,
allegorical, mystical head. It was he who said that God must have formed
the world in six days; he formed it, according to Zoroaster, in six
times, "because three is the half of six and two is the third of it; and
this number is male and female."

This same man, infatuated with the ideas of Plato, says, in speaking of
drunkenness, that God and wisdom married, and that wisdom was delivered
of a well-beloved son, which son is the world. He calls the angels the
words of God, and the world the word of God--"_logon tou Theou_."

As to Flavius Josephus, he was a man of war who had never heard of the
logos, and who held to the dogmas of the Pharisees, who were solely
attached to their traditions. From the Jews of Alexandria, this Platonic
philosophy proceeded to those of Jerusalem. Soon, all the school of
Alexandria, which was the only learned one, was Platonic; and Christians
who philosophized, no longer spoke of anything but the _logos_.

We know that it was in disputes of that time the same as in those of the
present. To one badly understood passage, was tacked another
unintelligible one to which it had no relation. A second was inferred
from them, a third was falsified, and they fabricated whole books which
they attributed to authors respected by the multitude. We have seen a
hundred examples of it in the article on "Apocrypha."

Dear reader, for heaven's sake cast your eyes on this passage of Clement
the Alexandrian: "When Plato says, that it is difficult to know the
Father of the universe, he demonstrates by that, not only that the world
has been engendered, but that it has been engendered as the Son of God."

Do you understand these logomachies, these equivoques? Do you see the
least light in this chaos of obscure expressions? Oh, Locke! Locke! come
and define these terms. In all these Platonic disputes I believe there
was not a single one understood. They distinguished two words, the
"_logos endiathetos_"--the word in thought, and the word
produced--"_logos prophorikos._" They had the eternity from one word,
and the prolation, the emanation from another word.

The book of "Apostolic Constitutions," an ancient monument of fraud, but
also an ancient depository of these obscure times, expresses itself
thus: "The Father, who is anterior to all generation, all commencement,
having created all by His only Son, has engendered this Son without a
medium, by His will and His power."

Afterwards Origen advanced, that the Holy Spirit was created by the Son,
by the word. After that came Eusebius of Cæsarea, who taught that the
spirit paraclete is neither of Father nor Son. The advocate Lactantius
flourished in that time.

"The Son of God," says he, "is the word, as the other angels are the
spirits of God. The word is a spirit uttered by a significant voice, the
spirit proceeding from the nose, and the word from the mouth. It
follows, that there is a difference between the Son of God and the other
angels; those being emanated like tacit and silent spirits; while the
Son, being a spirit proceeding from the mouth, possesses sound and voice
to preach to the people."

It must be confessed, that Lactantius pleaded his cause in a strange
manner. It was truly reasoning a la Plato, and very powerful reasoning.
It was about this time that, among the very violent disputes on the
Trinity, this famous verse was inserted in the First Epistle of St.
John: "There are three that bear witness in earth--the word or spirit,
the water, and the blood; and these three are one."

Those who pretend that this verse is truly St. John's, are much more
embarrassed than those who deny it; for they must explain it. St.
Augustine says, that the spirit signifies the Father, water the Holy
Ghost, and by blood is meant the Word. This explanation is fine, but it
still leaves a little confusion.

St Irenæus goes much farther; he says, that Rahab, the prostitute of
Jericho, in concealing three spies of the people of God, concealed the
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; which is strong, but not consistent. On the
other hand, the great and learned Origen confounds us in a different
way. The following is one of many of his passages: "The Son is as much
below the Father as He and the Holy Ghost are above the most noble

What can be said after that? How can we help confessing, with grief,
that nobody understands it? How can we help confessing, that from the
first--from the primitive Christians, the Ebionites, those men so
mortified and so pious, who always revered Jesus though they believed
Him to be the son of Joseph--until the great controversy of Athanasius,
the Platonism of the Trinity was always a subject of quarrels. A supreme
judge was absolutely required to decide, and he was at last found in
the Council of Nice, which council afterwards produced new factions and


"We can speak with exactness of the manner in which the union of God and
Jesus Christ exists, only by relating the three opinions which exist on
this subject, and by making reflections on each of them.

"_Opinion of the Orthodox._

"The first opinion is that of the orthodox. They establish, 1st--A
distinction of three persons in the divine essence, before the coming of
Jesus Christ into the world; 2nd--That the second of these persons is
united to the human nature of Jesus Christ; 3rd--That the union is so
strict, that by it Jesus Christ is God; that we can attribute to Him the
creation of the world, and all divine perfections; and that we can adore
Him with a supreme worship.

"_Opinion of the Unitarians._

"The second is that of the Unitarians. Not conceiving the distinction of
persons in the Divinity, they establish, 1st--That divinity is united to
the human nature of Jesus Christ; 2nd--That this union is such that we
can say, that Jesus Christ is God; that we can attribute to Him the
creation of the world, and all divine perfections, and adore Him with a
supreme worship.

"_Opinion of the Socinians._

"The third opinion is that of the Socinians, who, like the Unitarians,
not conceiving any distinction of persons in the Divinity, establish,
1st--That divinity is united to the human nature of Jesus Christ;
2nd--That this union is very strict; 3rd--That it is not such that we
can call Jesus Christ God, or attribute divine perfections and the
creation to Him, or adore Him with a supreme worship; and they think
that all the passages of Scripture may be explained without admitting
any of these things.

"_Reflections on the First Opinion._

"In the distinction which is made of three persons in the Divinity, we
either retain the common idea of persons, or we do not. If we retain the
common idea of persons, we establish three gods; that is certain. If we
do not establish the ordinary idea of three persons, it is no longer any
more than a distinction of properties; which agrees with the second
opinion. Or if we will not allow that it is a distinction of persons,
properly speaking, we establish a distinction of which we have no idea.
There is no appearance, that to imagine a distinction in God, of which
we can have no idea, Scripture would put men in danger of becoming
idolaters, by multiplying the Divinity. It is besides surprising that
this distinction of persons having always existed, it should only be
since the coming of Jesus Christ that it has been revealed, and that it
is necessary to know them.

"_Reflections on the Second Opinion._

"There is not, indeed, so great danger of precipitating men into
idolatry in the second opinion as in the first; but it must be confessed
that it is not entirely exempt from it. Indeed, as by the nature of the
union which it establishes between divinity and the human nature of
Jesus Christ, we can call him God and worship him, but there are two
objects of adoration--Jesus Christ and God. I confess it may be said,
that it is God whom we should worship in Jesus Christ; but who knows not
the extreme inclination which men have to change invisible objects of
worship into objects which fall under the senses, or at least under the
imagination?--an inclination which they will here gratify without the
least scruple, since they say that divinity is personally united to the
humanity of Jesus Christ.

"_Reflections on the Third Opinion._

"The third opinion, besides being very simple, and conformable to the
ideas of reason, is not subject to any similar danger of throwing men
into idolatry. Though by this opinion Jesus Christ can be no more than a
simple man, it need not be feared that by that He can be confounded with
prophets or saints of the first order. In this sentiment there always
remains a difference between them and Him. As we can imagine, almost to
the utmost, the degrees of union of divinity with humanity, so we can
conceive, that in particular the union of divinity with Jesus Christ
has so high a degree of knowledge, power, felicity, perfection, and
dignity, that there is always an immense distance between him and the
greatest prophets. It remains only to see whether this opinion can agree
with Scripture, and whether it be true that the title of God, divine
perfections, creation, and supreme worship, are not attributed to Jesus
Christ in the Gospels."

It was for the philosopher Abauzit to see all this. For myself I submit,
with my heart and mouth and pen, to all that the Catholic church has
decided, and to all that it may decide on any other such dogma. I will
add but one word more on the Trinity, which is a decision of Calvin's
that we have on this mystery. This is it:

"In case any person prove heterodox, and scruples using the words
Trinity and Person, we believe not that this can be a reason for
rejecting him; we should support him without driving him from the
Church, and without exposing him to any censure as a heretic."

It was after such a solemn declaration as this, that John Calvin--the
aforesaid Calvin, the son of a cooper of Noyon--caused Michael Servetus
to be burned at Geneva by a slow fire with green fagots.


"Pilate therefore said unto him, 'Art thou a king then?' Jesus answered,
'Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this
cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto truth:
every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.' Pilate saith unto him,
'What is truth?' and when he had said this, he went out," etc.--St.
John, chap. xviii.

It is a pity for mankind that Pilate went out, without hearing the
reply: we should then have known what truth is. Pilate was not very
curious. The accused, brought before him, told him that he was a king,
that he was born to be a king, and he informs himself not how this can
be. He was supreme judge in the name of Cæsar, he had the power of the
sword, his duty was to penetrate into the meaning of these words. He
should have said: Tell me what you understand by being king? how are you
born to be king, and to bear witness unto the truth? It is said that you
can only arrive at the ear of kings with difficulty; I, who am a judge,
have always had extreme trouble in reaching it. Inform me, while your
enemies cry outside against you; and you will render me the greatest
service ever rendered to a judge. I would rather learn to know the
truth, than condescend to the tumultuous demand of the Jews, who wish me
to hang you.

We doubtless dare not pretend to guess what the Author of all truth
would have said to Pilate. Would he have said: "Truth is an abstract
word which most men use indifferently in their books and judgments, for
error and falsehood"? This definition would be wonderfully convenient to
all makers of systems. Thus the word wisdom is often taken for folly,
and wit for nonsense. Humanly speaking, let us define truth, to better
understand that which is declared--such as it is.

Suppose that six months only had been taken to teach Pilate the truths
of logic he would doubtless have made this concluding syllogism: A man's
life should not have been taken away who has only preached a good
doctrine; now he who is brought before me, according even to his
enemies, has often preached an excellent doctrine; therefore, he should
not be punished with death.

He might also have inferred this other argument: My duty is to dissipate
the riots of a seditious people, who demand the death of a man without
reason or juridical form; now such are the Jews on this occasion;
therefore I should send them away, and break up their assembly. We take
for granted that Pilate knew arithmetic; we will not therefore speak of
these kinds of truths.

As to mathematical truths, I believe that he would have required three
years at least before he would have been acquainted with transcendent
geometry. The truths of physics, combined with those of geometry, would
have required more than four years. We generally consume six years in
studying theology; I ask twelve for Pilate, considering that he was a
Pagan, and that six years would not have been too many to root out all
his old errors, and six more to put him in a state worthy to receive
the bonnet of a doctor. If Pilate had a well organized head, I would
only have demanded two years to teach him metaphysical truths, and as
these truths are necessarily united with those of morality, I flatter
myself that in less than nine years Pilate would have become a truly
learned and perfectly honest man.

_Historical Truths._

I should afterwards have said to Pilate: Historical truths are but
probabilities. If you have fought at the battle of Philippi, it is to
you a truth, which you know by intuition, by sentiment; but to us who
live near the desert of Syria, it is merely a probable thing, which we
know by hearsay. How can we, from report, form a persuasion equal to
that of a man, who having seen the thing, can boast of feeling a kind of

He who has heard the thing told by twelve thousand ocular witnesses, has
only twelve thousand probabilities equal to one strong one, which is not
equal to certainty. If you have the thing from only one of these
witnesses, you are sure of nothing--you must doubt. If the witness is
dead, you must doubt still more, for you can enlighten yourself no
further. If from several deceased witnesses, you are in the same state.
If from those to whom the witnesses have only spoken, the doubt is still
augmented. From generation to generation the doubt augments, and the
probability diminishes, and the probability is soon reduced to zero.

_Of the Degrees of Truth, According to Which the Accused are Judged._

We can be made accountable to justice either for deeds or words. If for
deeds, they must be as certain as will be the punishment to which you
will condemn the prisoner; if, for example, you have but twenty
probabilities against him, these twenty probabilities cannot equal the
certainty of his death. If you would have as many probabilities as are
required to be sure that you shed not innocent blood, they must be the
fruit of the unanimous evidences of witnesses who have no interest in
deposing. From this concourse of probabilities, a strong opinion will be
formed, which will serve to excuse your judgment; but as you will never
have entire certainty, you cannot flatter yourself with knowing the
truth perfectly. Consequently you should always lean towards mercy
rather than towards rigor. If it concerns only facts, from which neither
manslaughter nor mutilation have resulted, it is evident that you should
neither cause the accused to be put to death nor mutilated.

If the question is only of words, it is still more evident that you
should not cause one of your fellow-creatures to be hanged for the
manner in which he has used his tongue; for all the words in the world
being but agitated air, at least if they have not caused murder, it is
ridiculous to condemn a man to death for having agitated the air. Put
all the idle words which have been uttered into one scale, and into the
other the blood of a man, and the blood will weigh down. Now, if he who
has been brought before you is only accused of some words which his
enemies have taken in a certain sense, all that you can do is to repeat
these words to him, which he will explain in the sense he intended; but
to deliver an innocent man to the most cruel and ignominious punishment,
for words that his enemies do not comprehend, is too barbarous. You make
the life of a man of no more importance than that of a lizard; and too
many judges resemble you.


The sovereign is called a tyrant who knows no laws but his caprice; who
takes the property of his subjects, and afterwards enlists them to go
and take that of his neighbors. We have none of these tyrants in Europe.
We distinguish the tyranny of one and that of many. The tyranny of
several is that of a body which would invade the rights of other bodies,
and which would exercise despotism by favor of laws which it corrupts.
Neither are there any tyrannies of this kind in Europe.

Under what tyranny should you like best to live? Under none; but if I
must choose, I should less detest the tyranny of a single one, than that
of many. A despot has always some good moments; an assemblage of
despots, never. If a tyrant does me an injustice, I can disarm him
through his mistress, his confessor, or his page; but a company of
tyrants is inaccessible to all seductions. When they are not unjust,
they are harsh, and they never dispense favors. If I have but one
despot, I am at liberty to set myself against a wall when I see him
pass, to prostrate myself, or to strike my forehead against the ground,
according to the custom of the country; but if there is a company of a
hundred tyrants, I am liable to repeat this ceremony a hundred times a
day, which is very tiresome to those who have not supple joints. If I
have a farm in the neighborhood of one of our lords, I am crushed; if I
complain against a relative of the relatives of any one of our lords, I
am ruined. How must I act? I fear that in this world we are reduced to
being either the anvil or the hammer; happy at least is he who escapes
this alternative.


"Tyrannos," formerly "he who had contrived to draw the principal
authority to himself"; as "king," "Basileus," signified "he who was
charged with relating affairs to the senate." The acceptations of words
change with time. "Idiot" at first meant only a hermit, an isolated man;
in time it became synonymous with fool. At present the name of "tyrant"
is given to a usurper, or to a king who commits violent and unjust

Cromwell was a tyrant of both these kinds. A citizen who usurps the
supreme authority, who in spite of all laws suppresses the house of
peers, is without doubt a usurper. A general who cuts the throat of a
king, his prisoner of war, at once violates what is called the laws of
nations, and those of humanity.

Charles I. was not a tyrant, though the victorious faction gave him that
name; he was, it is said, obstinate, weak, and ill-advised. I will not
be certain, for I did not know him; but I am certain that he was very

Henry VIII. was a tyrant in his government as in his family, and alike
covered with the blood of two innocent wives, and that of the most
virtuous citizens; he merits the execrations of posterity. Yet he was
not punished, and Charles I. died on a scaffold.

Elizabeth committed an act of tyranny, and her parliament one of
infamous weakness, in causing Queen Mary Stuart to be assassinated by an
executioner; but in the rest of her government she was not tyrannical;
she was clever and manœuvering, but prudent and strong.

Richard III. was a barbarous tyrant; but he was punished. Pope Alexander
VI. was a more execrable tyrant than any of these, and he was fortunate
in all his undertakings. Christian II. was as wicked a tyrant as
Alexander VI., and was punished, but not sufficiently so.

If we were to reckon Turkish, Greek, and Roman tyrants, we should find
as many fortunate as the contrary. When I say fortunate, I speak
according to the vulgar prejudice, the ordinary acceptation of the
word, according to appearances; for that they can be really happy, that
their minds can be contented and tranquil, appears to me to be

Constantine the Great was evidently a tyrant in a double sense. In the
north of England he usurped the crown of the Roman Empire, at the head
of some foreign legions, notwithstanding all the laws, and in spite of
the senate and the people, who legitimately elected Maxentius. He passed
all his life in crime, voluptuousness, fraud, and imposture. He was not
punished, but was he happy? God knows; but I know that his subjects were
not so.

The great Theodosius was the most abominable of tyrants, when, under
pretence of giving a feast, he caused fifteen thousand Roman citizens to
be murdered in the circus, with their wives and children, and when he
added to this horror the facetiousness of passing some months without
going to tire himself at high mass. This Theodosius has almost been
placed in the ranks of the blessed; but I should be very sorry if he
were happy on earth. In all cases it would be well to assure tyrants
that they will never be happy in this world, as it is well to make our
stewards and cooks believe that they will be eternally damned if they
rob us.

The tyrants of the Lower Greek Empire were almost all dethroned or
assassinated by one another. All these great offenders were by turns the
executioners of human and divine vengeance. Among the Turkish tyrants,
we see as many deposed as those who die in possession of the throne.
With regard to subaltern tyrants, or the lower order of monsters who
burden their masters with the execration with which they are loaded, the
number of these Hamans, these Sejanuses, is infinite.


Du Boulay, in his "History of the University of Paris," adopts the old,
uncertain, not to say fabulous tradition, which carries its origin to
the time of Charlemagne. It is true that such is the opinion of Guagin
and of Gilles de Beauvais; but in addition to the fact that contemporary
authors, as Eginhard, Almon, Reginon, and Sigebert make no mention of
this establishment; Pasquier and Du Tillet expressly assert that it
commenced in the twelfth century under the reigns of Louis the Young and
of Philip Augustus.

Moreover, the first statutes of the university were drawn up by Robert
de Coceon, legate of the pope, in the year 1215, which proves that it
received from the first the form it retains at present; because a bull
of Gregory IX., of the year 1231, makes mention of masters of theology,
masters of law, physicians, and lastly, artists. The name "university"
originated in the supposition that these four bodies, termed faculties,
constituted a universality of studies; that is to say, that they
comprehended all which could be cultivated.

The popes, by the means of these establishments, of the decisions of
which they made themselves judges, became masters of the instruction of
the people; and the same spirit which made the permission granted to the
members of the Parliament of Paris to inter themselves in the habits of
Cordeliers, be regarded as an especial favor--as related in the article
on "Quête"--dictated the decrees pronounced by that sovereign court
against all who dared to oppose an unintelligible scholastic system,
which, according to the confession of the abbé Triteme, was only a false
science that had vitiated religion. In fact, that which Constantine had
only insinuated with respect to the Cumæan Sibyl, has been expressly
asserted of Aristotle. Cardinal Pallavicini supported the maxim of I
know not what monk Paul, who pleasantly observed, that without Aristotle
the Church would have been deficient in some of her articles of faith.

Thus the celebrated Ramus, having composed two works in which he opposed
the doctrine of Aristotle taught in the universities, would have been
sacrificed to the fury of his ignorant rival, had not King Francis I.
referred to his own judgment the process commenced in Paris between
Ramus and Anthony Govea. One of the principal complaints against Ramus
related to the manner in which he taught his disciples to pronounce the
letter Q.

Ramus was not the only disputant persecuted for these grave absurdities.
In the year 1624, the Parliament of Paris banished from its district
three persons who wished to maintain theses openly against Aristotle.
Every person was forbidden to sell or to circulate the propositions
contained in these theses, on pain of corporal punishment, or to teach
any opinion against ancient and approved authors, on pain of death.

The remonstrances of the Sorbonne, in consequence of which the same
parliament issued a decision against the chemists, in the year 1629,
testified that it was impossible to impeach the principles of Aristotle,
without at the same time impeaching those of the scholastic theology
received by the Church. In the meantime, the faculty having issued, in
1566, a decree forbidding the use of antimony, and the parliament having
confirmed the said decree, Paumier de Caen, a great chemist and
celebrated physician of Paris, for not conforming to it, was degraded in
the year 1609. Lastly, antimony being afterwards inserted in the books
of medicines, composed by order of the faculty in the year 1637, the
said faculty permitted the use of it in 1666, a century after having
forbidden it, which decision the parliament confirmed by a new decree.
Thus the university followed the example of the Church, which finally
proscribed the doctrine of Arius, under pain of death, and approved the
word "consubstantial," which it had previously condemned--as we have
seen in the article on "Councils."

What we have observed of the university of Paris, may serve to give us
an idea of other universities, of which it was regarded as the model. In
fact, in imitation of it, eighty universities passed the same decree as
the Sorbonne in the fourteenth century; to wit, that when the cap of a
doctor was bestowed, the candidate should be made to swear that he will
maintain the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary; which he did not
regard, however, as an article of faith, but as a Catholic and pious


_Contemptible Customs do not Always Imply a Contemptible Nation._

There are cases in which we must not judge of a nation by its usages and
popular superstitions. Suppose Cæsar, after having conquered Egypt,
wishing to make commerce flourish in the Roman Empire, had sent an
embassy to China by the port of Arsinoë, the Red Sea and Indian Ocean.
The emperor Yventi, the first of the name, then reigned in China; the
Chinese annals represent him to us as a very wise and learned prince.
After receiving the ambassadors of Cæsar with all Chinese politeness, he
secretly informs himself through his interpreter of the customs, the
usages, sciences, and religion of the Roman people, as celebrated in the
West as the Chinese people are in the East. He first learns that their
priests have regulated their years in so absurd a manner, that the sun
has already entered the celestial signs of Spring when the Romans
celebrate the first feasts of Winter. He learns that this nation at a
great expense supports a college of priests, who know exactly the time
in which they must embark, and when they should give battle, by the
inspection of a bullock's liver, or the manner in which fowls eat grain.
This sacred science was formerly taught to the Romans by a little god
named Tages, who came out of the earth in Tuscany. These people adore a
supreme and only God, whom they always call a very great and very good
God; yet they have built a temple to a courtesan named Flora, and the
good women of Rome have almost all little gods--Penates--in their
houses, about four or five inches high. One of these little divinities
is the goddess of bosoms, another that of posteriors. They have even a
divinity whom they call the god _Pet_. The emperor Yventi began to
laugh; and the tribunals of Nankin at first think with him that the
Roman ambassadors are knaves or impostors, who have taken the title of
envoys of the Roman Republic; but as the emperor is as just as he is
polite, he has particular conversations with them. He then learns that
the Roman priests were very ignorant, but that Cæsar actually reformed
the calendar. They confess to him that the college of augurs was
established in the time of their early barbarity, that they have allowed
this ridiculous institution, become dear to a people long ignorant, to
exist, but that all sensible people laugh at the augurs; that Cæsar
never consulted them; that, according to the account of a very great man
named Cato, no augur could ever look another in the face without
laughing; and finally, that Cicero, the greatest orator and best
philosopher of Rome, wrote a little work against the augurs, entitled
"Of Divination," in which he delivers up to eternal ridicule all the
predictions and sorceries of soothsayers with which the earth is
infatuated. The emperor of China has the curiosity to read this book of
Cicero; the interpreters translate it; and in consequence he admires at
once the book and the Roman Republic.


What! is it in our eighteenth century that vampires exist? Is it after
the reigns of Locke, Shaftesbury, Trenchard, and Collins? Is it under
those of d'Alembert, Diderot, St. Lambert, and Duclos that we believe in
vampires, and that the reverend father Dom Calmet, Benedictine priest of
the congregation of St. Vannes, and St. Hidulphe, abbé of Senon--an
abbey of a hundred thousand livres a year, in the neighborhood of two
other abbeys of the same revenue--has printed and reprinted the history
of vampires, with the approbation of the Sorbonne, signed Marcilli?

These vampires were corpses, who went out of their graves at night to
suck the blood of the living, either at their throats or stomachs,
after which they returned to their cemeteries. The persons so sucked
waned, grew pale, and fell into consumption; while the sucking corpses
grew fat, got rosy, and enjoyed an excellent appetite. It was in Poland,
Hungary, Silesia, Moravia, Austria, and Lorraine, that the dead made
this good cheer. We never heard a word of vampires in London, nor even
at Paris. I confess that in both these cities there were stock-jobbers,
brokers, and men of business, who sucked the blood of the people in
broad daylight; but they were not dead, though corrupted. These true
suckers lived not in cemeteries, but in very agreeable palaces.

Who would believe that we derive the idea of vampires from Greece? Not
from the Greece of Alexander, Aristotle, Plato, Epicurus, and
Demosthenes; but from Christian Greece, unfortunately schismatic. For a
long time Christians of the Greek rite have imagined that the bodies of
Christians of the Latin church, buried in Greece, do not decay, because
they are excommunicated. This is precisely the contrary to that of us
Christians of the Latin church, who believe that corpses which do not
corrupt are marked with the seal of eternal beatitude. So much so,
indeed, that when we have paid a hundred thousand crowns to Rome, to
give them a saint's brevet, we adore them with the worship of "_dulia_."

The Greeks are persuaded that these dead are sorcerers; they call them
"_broucolacas_," or "_vroucolacas_," according as they pronounce the
second letter of the alphabet. The Greek corpses go into houses to suck
the blood of little children, to eat the supper of the fathers and
mothers, drink their wine, and break all the furniture. They can only be
put to rights by burning them when they are caught. But the precaution
must be taken of not putting them into the fire until after their hearts
are torn out, which must be burned separately. The celebrated
Tournefort, sent into the Levant by Louis XIV., as well as so many other
virtuosi, was witness of all the acts attributed to one of these
"_broucolacas_," and to this ceremony.

After slander, nothing is communicated more promptly than superstition,
fanaticism, sorcery, and tales of those raised from the dead. There were
"_broucolacas_" in Wallachia, Moldavia, and some among the Polanders,
who are of the Romish church. This superstition being absent, they
acquired it, and it went through all the east of Germany. Nothing was
spoken of but vampires, from 1730 to 1735; they were laid in wait for,
their hearts torn out and burned. They resembled the ancient
martyrs--the more they were burned, the more they abounded.

Finally, Calmet became their historian, and treated vampires as he
treated the Old and New Testaments, by relating faithfully all that has
been said before him.

The most curious things, in my opinion, were the verbal suits
juridically conducted, concerning the dead who went from their tombs to
suck the little boys and girls of their neighborhood. Calmet relates
that in Hungary two officers, delegated by the emperor Charles VI.,
assisted by the bailiff of the place and an executioner, held an inquest
on a vampire, who had been dead six weeks, and who had sucked all the
neighborhood. They found him in his coffin, fresh and jolly, with his
eyes open, and asking for food. The bailiff passed his sentence; the
executioner tore out the vampire's heart, and burned it, after which he
feasted no more.

Who, after this, dares to doubt of the resuscitated dead, with which our
ancient legends are filled, and of all the miracles related by
Bollandus, and the sincere and revered Dom Ruinart? You will find
stories of vampires in the "Jewish Letters" of d'Argens, whom the Jesuit
authors of the "Journal of Trévoux" have accused of believing nothing.
It should be observed how they triumph in the history of the vampire of
Hungary; how they thanked God and the Virgin for having at last
converted this poor d'Argens, the chamberlain of a king who did not
believe in vampires. "Behold," said they, "this famous unbeliever, who
dared to throw doubts on the appearance of the angel to the Holy Virgin;
on the star which conducted the magi; on the cure of the possessed; on
the immersion of two thousand swine in a lake; on an eclipse of the sun
at the full moon; on the resurrection of the dead who walked in
Jerusalem--his heart is softened, his mind is enlightened; he believes
in vampires."

There no longer remained any question, but to examine whether all these
dead were raised by their own virtue, by the power of God, or by that of
the devil. Several great theologians of Lorraine, of Moravia, and
Hungary, displayed their opinions and their science. They related all
that St. Augustine, St. Ambrose, and so many other saints, had most
unintelligibly said on the living and the dead. They related all the
miracles of St. Stephen, which are found in the seventh book of the
works of St. Augustine. This is one of the most curious of them: In the
city of Aubzal in Africa, a young man was crushed to death by the ruins
of a wall; the widow immediately invoked St. Stephen, to whom she was
very much devoted. St. Stephen raised him. He was asked what he had seen
in the other world. "Sirs," said he, "when my soul quitted my body, it
met an infinity of souls, who asked it more questions about this world
than you do of the other. I went I know not whither, when I met St.
Stephen, who said to me, 'Give back that which thou hast received.' I
answered, 'What should I give back? you have given me nothing.' He
repeated three times, 'Give back that which thou hast received.' Then I
comprehended that he spoke of the credo; I repeated my credo to him, and
suddenly he raised me." Above all, they quoted the stories related by
Sulpicius Severus, in the life of St. Martin. They proved that St.
Martin, with some others, raised up a condemned soul.

But all these stories, however true they might be, had nothing in common
with the vampires who rose to suck the blood of their neighbors, and
afterwards replaced themselves in their coffins. They looked if they
could not find in the Old Testament, or in the mythology, some vampire
whom they could quote as an example; but they found none. It was proved,
however, that the dead drank and ate, since in so many ancient nations
food was placed on their tombs.

The difficulty was to know whether it was the soul or the body of the
dead which ate. It was decided that it was both. Delicate and
unsubstantial things, as sweetmeats, whipped cream, and melting fruits,
were for the soul, and roast beef and the like were for the body.

The kings of Persia were, said they, the first who caused themselves to
be served with viands after their death. Almost all the kings of the
present day imitate them; but they are the monks who eat their dinner
and supper, and drink their wine. Thus, properly speaking, kings are not
vampires; the true vampires are the monks, who eat at the expense of
both kings and people.

It is very true that St. Stanislaus, who had bought a considerable
estate from a Polish gentleman, and not paid him for it, being brought
before King Boleslaus by his heirs, raised up the gentleman; but this
was solely to get quittance. It is not said that he gave a single glass
of wine to the seller, who returned to the other world without having
eaten or drunk. They afterwards treated of the grand question, whether a
vampire could be absolved who died excommunicated, which comes more to
the point.

I am not profound enough in theology to give my opinion on this subject;
but I would willingly be for absolution, because in all doubtful affairs
we should take the mildest part. "_Odia restringenda, favores

The result of all this is that a great part of Europe has been infested
with vampires for five or six years, and that there are now no more;
that we have had Convulsionaries in France for twenty years, and that we
have them no longer; that we have had demoniacs for seventeen hundred
years, but have them no longer; that the dead have been raised ever
since the days of Hippolytus, but that they are raised no longer; and,
lastly, that we have had Jesuits in Spain, Portugal, France, and the two
Sicilies, but that we have them no longer.


_A Small Town of Umbria, Nine Leagues from Rome; and, Incidentally, of
the Divinity of Augustus._

Those who love the study of history are glad to understand by what title
a citizen of Veletri governed an empire, which extended from Mount
Taurus to Mount Atlas, and from the Euphrates to the Western Ocean. It
was not as perpetual dictator; this title had been too fatal to Julius
Cæsar, and Augustus bore it only eleven days. The fear of perishing like
his predecessor, and the counsels of Agrippa, induced him to take other
measures; he insensibly concentrated in his own person all the dignities
of the republic. Thirteen consulates, the tribunate renewed in his favor
every ten years, the name of prince of the senate, that of imperator,
which at first signified only the general of an army, but to which it
was known how to bestow a more extensive signification--such were the
titles which appeared to legitimate his power.

The senate lost nothing by his honors, but preserved even its most
extensive rights. Augustus divided with it all the provinces of the
empire, but retained the principal for himself; finally, he was master
of the public treasury and the soldiery, and in fact sovereign.

What is more strange, Julius Cæsar having been enrolled among the gods
after his death, Augustus was ordained god while living. It is true he
was not altogether a god in Rome, but he was so in the provinces, where
he had temples and priests. The abbey of Ainai at Lyons was a fine
temple of Augustus. Horace says to him: "_Jurandasque tuum per nomen
ponimus aras._" That is to say, among the Romans existed courtiers so
finished as to have small altars in their houses dedicated to Augustus.
He was therefore _canonized_ during his life, and the name of
god--_divus_--became the title or nickname of all the succeeding
emperors. Caligula constituted himself a god without difficulty, and was
worshipped in the temple of Castor and Pollux; his statue was placed
between those of the twins, and they sacrificed to him peacocks,
pheasants, and Numidian fowls, until he ended by immolating himself.
Nero bore the name of god, before he was condemned by the senate to
suffer the punishment of a slave.

We are not to imagine that the name of "god" signified, in regard to
these monsters, that which we understand by it; the blasphemy could not
be carried quite so far. "Divus" precisely answers to "sanctus." The
Augustan list of proscriptions and the filthy epigram against Fulvia,
are not the productions of a divinity.

There were twelve conspiracies against this god, if we include the
pretended plot of Cinna; but none of them succeeded; and of all the
wretches who have usurped divine honors, Augustus was doubtless the most
unfortunate. It was he, indeed, who actually terminated the Roman
Republic; for Cæsar was dictator only six months, and Augustus reigned
forty years. It was during his reign that manners changed with the
government. The armies, formerly composed of the Roman legions and
people of Italy, were in the end made up from all the barbarians, who
naturally enough placed emperors of their own country on the throne.

In the third century they raised up thirty tyrants at one time, of whom
some were natives of Transylvania, others of Gaul, Britain, and Germany.
Diocletian was the son of a Dalmatian slave; Maximian Hercules, a
peasant of Sirmik; and Theodosius, a native of Spain--not then

We know how the Roman Empire was finally destroyed; how the Turks have
subjugated one half, and how the name of the other still subsists among
the Marcomans on the shores of the Danube. The most singular of all its
revolutions, however, and the most astonishing of all spectacles, is the
manner in which its capital is governed and inhabited at this moment.


The forger of whom we have spoken so much, who made the testament of
Cardinal Richelieu, says in chapter iv.: "That it would be much better
to allow venality and the '_droit annuel_' to continue to exist, than to
abolish these two establishments, which are not to be changed suddenly
without shaking the state."

All France repeated, and believed they repeated after Cardinal
Richelieu, that the sale of offices of judicature was very advantageous.
The abbé de St. Pierre was the first who, still believing that the
pretended testament was the cardinal's, dared to say in his observation
on chapter iv.: "The cardinal engaged himself on a bad subject, in
maintaining that the sale of places can be advantageous to the state. It
is true that it is not possible to otherwise reimburse all the charges."

Thus this abuse appeared to everybody, not only unreformable, but
useful. They were so accustomed to this opprobrium that they did not
feel it; it seemed eternal; yet a single man in a few months has
overthrown it. Let us therefore repeat, that all may be done, all may be
corrected; that the great fault of almost all who govern, is having but
half wills and half means. If Peter the Great had not willed strongly,
two thousand leagues of country would still be barbarous.

How can we give water in Paris to thirty thousand houses which want it?
How can we pay the debts of the state? How can we throw off the dreaded
tyranny of a foreign power, which is not a power, and to which we pay
the first fruits as a tribute? Dare to wish it, and you will arrive at
your object more easily than you extirpated the Jesuits, and purged the
theatre of _petits-maîtres_.


_And, Incidentally, of Liberty._

No power can reproach the Venetians with having acquired their liberty
by revolt; none can say to them, I have freed you--here is the diploma
of your manumission.

They have not usurped their rights, as Cæsar usurped empire, or as so
many bishops, commencing with that of Rome, have usurped royal rights.
They are lords of Venice--if we dare use the audacious comparison--as
God is Lord of the earth, because He founded it.

Attila, who never took the title of the scourge of God, ravaged Italy.
He had as much right to do so, as Charlemagne the Austrasian, Arnold the
Corinthian Bastard, Guy, duke of Spoleto, Berenger, marquis of Friuli,
or the bishops who wished to make themselves sovereigns of it.

In this time of military and ecclesiastical robberies, Attila passed as
a vulture, and the Venetians saved themselves in the sea as kingfishers,
which none assist or protect; they make their nest in the midst of the
waters, they enlarge it, they people it, they defend it, they enrich it.
I ask if it is possible to imagine a more just possession? Our father
Adam, who is supposed to have lived in that fine country of Mesopotamia,
was not more justly lord and gardener of terrestrial paradise.

I have read the "_Squittinio della libertà di Venezia_," and I am
indignant at it. What! Venice could not be originally free, because the
Greek emperors, superstitious, weak, wicked, and barbarous, said--This
new town has been built on our ancient territory; and because a German,
having the title of Emperor of the West, says: This town being in the
West, is of our domain?

It seems to me like a flying-fish, pursued at once by a falcon and a
shark, but which escapes both. Sannazarius was very right in saying, in
comparing Rome and Venice: _"Illam homines dices, hanc posuisse deos."_
Rome lost, by Cæsar, at the end of five hundred years, its liberty
acquired by Brutus. Venice has preserved hers for eleven centuries, and
I hope she will always do so.

Genoa! why dost thou boast of showing the grant of a Berenger, who gave
thee privileges in the year 958? We know that concessions of privileges
are but titles of servitude. And this is a fine title! the charter of a
passing tyrant, who was never properly acknowledged in Italy, and who
was driven from it two years after the date of the charter!

The true charter of liberty is independence, maintained by force. It is
with the point of the sword that diplomas should be signed securing this
natural prerogative. Thou hast lost, more than once, thy privilege and
thy strong box, since 1748: it is necessary to take care of both. Happy
Helvetia! to what charter owest thou thy liberty? To thy courage, thy
firmness, and thy mountains. But I am thy emperor. But I will have thee
be so no longer. Thy fathers have been the slaves of my fathers. It is
for that reason that their children will not serve thee. But I have the
right attached to my dignity. And we have the right of nature.

When had the Seven United Provinces this incontestable right? At the
moment in which they were united; and from that time Philip II. was the
rebel. What a great man was William, prince of Orange: he found them
slaves, and he made them free men! Why is liberty so rare? Because it is
the first of blessings.


It is easy to write in prose, but very difficult to be a poet. More than
one "_prosateur_" has affected to despise poetry; in reference to which
propensity, we may call to mind the bon-mot of Montaigne: "We cannot
attain to poetry; let us revenge ourselves by abusing it."

We have already remarked, that Montesquieu, being unable to succeed in
verse, professed, in his "Persian Letters," to discover no merit in
Virgil or Horace. The eloquent Bossuet endeavored to make verses, but
they were detestable; he took care, however, not to declaim against
great poets.

Fénelon scarcely made better verses than Bossuet, but knew by heart all
the fine poetry of antiquity. His mind was full of it, and he
continually quotes it in his letters.

It appears to me, that there never existed a truly eloquent man who did
not love poetry. I will simply cite, for example, Cæsar and Cicero; the
one composed a tragedy on Œdipus, and we have pieces of poetry by the
latter which might pass among the best that preceded Lucretius, Virgil,
and Horace.

A certain Abbé Trublet has printed, that he cannot read a poem at once
from beginning to end. Indeed, Air. Abbé! but what can we read, what can
we understand, what can we do, for a long time together, any more than


_Forbidden Viands, Dangerous Viands.--A short Examination of Jewish and
Christian Precepts, and of those of the Ancient Philosophers._

"Viand" comes no doubt from "_victus_"--that which nourishes and
sustains life: from victus was formed _viventia_; from _viventa_,
"viand." This word should be applied to all that is eaten, but by the
caprice of all languages, the custom has prevailed of refusing this
denomination to bread, milk, rice, pulses, fruits, and fish, and of
giving it only to terrestrial animals. This seems contrary to reason,
but it is the fancy of all languages, and of those who formed them.

Some of the first Christians made a scruple of eating that which had
been offered to the gods, of whatever nature it might be. St. Paul
approved not of this scruple. He writes to the Corinthians: "Meat
commendeth us not to God: for neither if we eat are we the better;
neither if we eat not, are we the worse." He merely exhorts them not to
eat viands immolated to the gods, before those brothers who might be
scandalized at it. We see not, after that, why he so ill-treats St.
Peter, and reproaches him with having eaten forbidden viands with the
Gentiles. We see elsewhere, in the Acts of the Apostles, that Simon
Peter was authorized to eat of all indifferently; for he one day saw the
firmament open, and a great sheet descending by the four corners from
heaven to earth; it was covered with all kinds of four-footed beasts,
with all kinds of birds and reptiles--or animals which swim--and a voice
cried to him: "Kill and eat."

You will remark, that Lent and fast-days were not then instituted.
Nothing is ever done, except by degrees. We can here say, for the
consolation of the weak, that the quarrel of St. Peter and St. Paul
should not alarm us: saints are men. Paul commenced by being the jailer,
and even the executioner, of the disciples of Jesus; Peter had denied
Jesus; and we have seen that the dawning, suffering, militant,
triumphant church has always been divided, from the Ebionites to the

I think that the Brahmins, so anterior to the Jews, might well have been
divided also; but they were the first who imposed on themselves the law
of not eating any animal. As they believed that souls passed and
repassed from human bodies to those of beasts, they would not eat their
relatives. Perhaps their best reason was the fear of accustoming men to
carnage, and inspiring them with ferocious manners.

We know that Pythagoras, who studied geometry and morals among them,
embraced this humane doctrine, and brought it into Italy. His disciples
followed it a very long time: the celebrated philosophers, Plotinus,
Jamblicus, and Porphyry, recommended and even practised it--though it is
very rare to practise what is preached. The work of Porphyry on
abstinence from meat, written in the middle of our third century, and
very well translated into our language by M. de Burigni, is very much
esteemed by the learned; but it has not made more disciples among us
than the book of the physician Héquet. It is in vain that Porphyry
proposes, as models, the Brahmins and Persian magi of the first class,
who had a horror of the custom of burying the entrails of other
creatures in our own; he is not now followed by the fathers of La
Trappe. The work of Porphyry is addressed to one of his ancient
disciples, named Firmus, who, it is said, turned Christian, to have the
liberty of eating meat and drinking wine.

He shows Firmus, that in abstaining from meat and strong liquors, we
preserve the health of the soul and body; that we live longer, and more
innocently. All his reflections are those of a scrupulous theologian, of
a rigid philosopher, and of a mild and sensible mind. We might think, in
reading his work, that this great enemy of the church was one of its

He speaks not of metempsychosis, but he regards animals as our brethren,
because they are animated like ourselves; they have the same principles
of life; they have, as well as ourselves, ideas, sentiment, memory, and
industry. They want but speech; if they had it, should we dare to kill
and eat them; should we dare to commit these fratricides? Where is the
barbarian who would roast a lamb, if it conjured him by an affecting
speech not to become at once an assassin, an anthropophagus?

This book proves, at least, that among the Gentiles there were
philosophers of the most austere virtue; but they could not prevail
against butchers and gluttons. It is to be remarked, that Porphyry makes
a very fine eulogium on the Essenians: he is filled with veneration for
them, although they sometimes eat meat. He was for whoever was the most
virtuous, whether Essenians, Pythagoreans, Stoics, or Christians. When
sects are formed of a small number, their manners are pure; and they
degenerate in proportion as they become powerful. Lust, gaming, and
luxury then prevail, and all the virtues fly away:

     La gola, il dado e l'otiose piume
     Hanno dal' mondo ogni virtù sbandita.



It is said of Marcus Brutus, that before killing himself, he pronounced
these words: "Oh, Virtue! I believed that thou wert something, but thou
art only a vile phantom!"

Thou wast right, Brutus, if thou madest virtue consist in being the
chief of a party, and the assassin of thy benefactor, of thy father,
Julius Cæsar. Hadst thou made virtue to consist only in doing good to
those who depended on thee, thou wouldst not have called it a phantom,
or have killed thyself in despair.

I am very virtuous, says a miserable excrement of theology. I possess
the four cardinal virtues, and the three theological ones. An honest man
asks him: What are the cardinal virtues? The other answers: They are
fortitude, prudence, temperance, and justice.


If thou art just, thou hast said all. Thy fortitude, prudence, and
temperance are useful qualities: if thou possessest them, so much the
better for thee; but if thou art just, so much the better for others. It
is not sufficient to be just, thou shouldst be beneficent; this is being
truly cardinal. And thy theological virtues, what are they?


Faith, hope, and charity.


Is there virtue in believing? If that which thou believest seems to thee
to be true, there is no merit in believing it; if it seems to thee to be
false, it is impossible for thee to believe it.

Hope should no more be a virtue than fear; we fear and we hope,
according to what is promised or threatened us. As to charity, is it not
that which the Greeks and Romans understood by humanity--love of your
neighbor? This love is nothing, if it does not act; beneficence is
therefore the only true virtue.


What a fool! Yes, truly, I shall trouble myself to serve men, if I get
nothing in return! Every trouble merits payment. I pretend to do no good
action, except to insure myself paradise.

     _Quis enim virtutem amplectitur, ipsam_
     _Prœmia si tolias? _        --JUVENAL, _sat._ x.

     For, if the gain you take away,
     To virtue who will homage pay!


Ah, good sir, that is to say, that if you did not hope for paradise, or
fear hell, you would never do a good action. You quote me lines from
Juvenal, to prove to me that you have only your interest in view. Racine
could at least show you, that even in this world we might find our
recompense, while waiting for a better:

     _Quel plaisir de penser, et de dire en vous-même,_
     _Partout en ce moment on me bénit, on m'aime!_
     _On ne voit point le peuple à mon nom s'alarmer;_
     _Le ciel dans tous leurs pleurs ne m'entend point nommer,_
     _Leur sombre inimitie ne fuit point mon visage;_
     _Je vois voler partout les cœurs a mon passage._
     _Tels étaient vos plaisirs._
                      --RACINE, _Britannicus_, act iv, sc. ii.

     How great his pleasure who can justly say,
     All at this moment either bless or love me;
     The people at my name betray no fear,
     Nor in their plaints does heaven e'er hear of me!
     Their enmity ne'er makes them fly my presence,
     But every heart springs out at my approach!
     Such were your pleasures!

Believe me, doctor, there are two things which deserve to be loved for
themselves--God and Virtue.


Ah, sir! you are a Fénelonist.


Yes, doctor.


I will inform against you at the tribunal of Meaux.


Go, and inform!


What is virtue? Beneficence towards your neighbor. Can I call virtue
anything but that which does good! I am indigent, thou art liberal. I am
in danger, thou succorest me. I am deceived, thou tellest me the truth.
I am neglected, thou consolest me. I am ignorant, thou teachest me. I
can easily call thee virtuous, but what will become of the cardinal and
theological virtues? Some will remain in the schools.

What signifies it to me whether thou art temperate? It is a precept of
health which thou observest; thou art the better for it; I congratulate
thee on it. Thou hast faith and hope; I congratulate thee still more;
they will procure thee eternal life. Thy theological virtues are
celestial gifts; thy cardinal ones are excellent qualities, which serve
to guide thee; but they are not virtues in relation to thy neighbor.
The prudent man does himself good; the virtuous one does it to other
men. St. Paul was right in telling thee, that charity ranks above faith
and hope.

But how! wilt thou admit of no other virtues than those which are useful
to thy neighbor? How can I admit any others? We live in society; there
is therefore nothing truly good for us but that which does good to
society. An hermit will be sober, pious, and dressed in sackcloth: very
well; he will be holy; but I will not call him virtuous until he shall
have done some act of virtue by which men may have profited. While he is
alone, he is neither beneficent nor the contrary; he is nobody to us. If
St. Bruno had made peace in families, if he had assisted the indigent,
he had been virtuous; having fasted and prayed in solitude, he is only a
saint. Virtue between men is a commerce of good actions: he who has no
part in this commerce, must not be reckoned. If this saint were in the
world, he would doubtless do good, but while he is not in the world, we
have no reason to give him the name of virtuous: he will be good for
himself, and not for us.

But, say you, if an hermit is gluttonous, drunken, given up to a secret
debauch with himself, he is vicious; he is therefore virtuous, if he has
the contrary qualities. I cannot agree to this: he is a very vile man,
if he has the faults of which you speak; but he is not vicious, wicked,
or punishable by society, to which his infamies do no harm. It may be
presumed, that if he re-enters society, he will do evil to it; he then
will be very vicious; and it is even more probable that he will be a
wicked man, than it is certain that the other temperate and chaste
hermit will be a good man; for in society faults augment, and good
qualities diminish.

A much stronger objection is made to me: Nero, Pope Alexander VI., and
other monsters of the kind, have performed good actions. I reply boldly,
that they were virtuous at the time. Some theologians say, that the
divine Emperor Antoninus was not virtuous; that he was an infatuated
Stoic, who, not content with commanding men, would further be esteemed
by them; that he gave himself credit for the good which he did to
mankind; that he was all his life just, laborious, beneficent, through
vanity; and that he only deceived men by his virtues. To which I
exclaim: My God! often send us such knaves!


When I speak of vision, I do not mean the admirable manner in which our
eyes perceive objects, and in which the pictures of all that we see are
painted on the retina--a divine picture designed according to all the
laws of mathematics, which is, consequently, like everything else from
the hand of the Eternal geometrician; in spite of those who explain it,
and who pretend to believe, that the eye is not intended to see, the
ear to hear, or the feet to walk. This matter has been so learnedly
treated by so many great geniuses, that there is no further remnant to
glean after their harvests.

I do not pretend to speak of the heresy of which Pope John XXII. was
accused, who pretended that saints will not enjoy beatific vision until
after the last judgment. I give up this vision. My subject is the
innumerable multitude of visions with which so many holy personages have
been favored or tormented; which so many idiots are believed to have
seen; with which so many knavish men and women have duped the world,
either to get the reputation of being favored by heaven, which is very
flattering, or to gain money, which is still more so to rogues in

Calmet and Langlet have made ample collections of these visions. The
most interesting in my opinion is the one which has produced the
greatest effects, since it has tended to reform three parts of the
Swiss--that of the young Jacobin Yetzer, with which I have already
amused my dear reader. This Yetzer, as you know, saw the Holy Virgin and
St. Barbara several times, who informed him of the marks of Jesus
Christ. You are not ignorant of how he received, from a Jacobin
confessor, a host powdered with arsenic, and how the bishop of Lausanne
would have had him burned for complaining that he was poisoned. You have
seen, that these abominations were one of the causes of the misfortune
which happened to the Bernese, of ceasing to be Catholic,
Apostolical, and Roman.

[Illustration: The Vision.]

I am sorry that I have no visions of this consequence to tell you of.
Yet you will confess, that the vision of the reverend father Cordeliers
of Orleans, in 1534, approaches the nearest to it, though still very
distant. The criminal process which it occasioned is still in manuscript
in the library of the king of France, No. 1770.

The illustrious house of St. Memin did great good to the convent of the
Cordeliers, and had their vault in the church. The wife of a lord of St.
Memin, provost of Orleans, being dead, her husband, believing that his
ancestors had sufficiently impoverished themselves by giving to the
monks, gave the brothers a present which did not appear to them
considerable enough. These good Franciscans conceived a plan for
disinterring the deceased, to force the widower to have her buried again
in their holy ground, and to pay them better. The project was not
clever, for the lord of St. Memin would not have failed to bury her
elsewhere. But folly often mixes with knavery.

At first, the soul of the lady of St. Memin appeared only to two
brothers. She said to them: "I am damned, like Judas, because my husband
has not given sufficient." The two knaves who related these words
perceived not, that they must do more harm to the convent than good. The
aim of the convent was to extort money from the lord of St. Memin, for
the repose of his wife's soul. Now, if Madame de St. Memin was damned,
all the money in the world could not save her. They got no more; the
Cordeliers lost their labor.

At this time there was very little good sense in France: the nation had
been brutalized by the invasion of the Franks, and afterwards by the
invasion of scholastic theology; but in Orleans there were some persons
who reasoned. If the Great Being permitted the soul of Madame de St.
Memin to appear to two Franciscans, it was not natural, they thought,
for this soul to declare itself damned like Judas. This comparison
appeared to them to be unnatural. This lady had not sold our Lord Jesus
Christ for thirty deniers; she was not hanged; her intestines had not
obtruded themselves; and there was not the slightest pretext for
comparing her to Judas.

This caused suspicion; and the rumor was still greater in Orleans,
because there were already heretics there who believed not in certain
visions, and who, in admitting absurd principles, did not always fail to
draw good conclusions. The Cordeliers, therefore, changed their battery,
and put the lady in purgatory.

She therefore appeared again, and declared that purgatory was her lot;
but she demanded to be disinterred. It was not the custom to disinter
those in purgatory; but they hoped that M. de St. Memin would prevent
this extraordinary affront, by giving money. This demand of being
thrown out of the church augmented the suspicions. It was well known,
that souls often appeared, but they never demanded to be disinterred.

From this time the soul spoke no more, but it haunted everybody in the
convent and church. The brother Cordeliers exorcised it. Brother Peter
of Arras adopted a very awkward manner of conjuring it. He said to it:
"If thou art the soul of the late Madame de St. Memin, strike four
knocks;" and the four knocks were struck. "If thou are damned, strike
six knocks;" and the six knocks were struck. "If thou art still
tormented in hell, because thy body is buried in holy ground, knock six
more times;" and the other six knocks were heard still more distinctly.
"If we disinter thy body, and cease praying to God for thee, wilt thou
be the less damned? Strike five knocks to certify it to us;" and the
soul certified it by five knocks.

This interrogation of the soul, made by Peter of Arras, was signed by
twenty-two Cordeliers, at the head of which was the reverend father
provincial. This father provincial the next day asked it the same
questions, and received the same answers.

It will be said, that the soul having declared that it was in purgatory,
the Cordeliers should not have supposed that it was in hell; but it is
not my fault if theologians contradict one another.

The lord of St. Memin presented a request to the king against the father
Cordeliers. They presented a request on their sides; the king appointed
judges, at the head of whom was Adrian Fumée, master of requests.

The procureur-general of the commission required that the said
Cordeliers should be burned, but the sentence only condemned them to
make the "amende honorable" with a torch in their bosom, and to be
banished from the kingdom. This sentence is of February 18, 1535.

After such a vision, it is useless to relate any others: they are all a
species either of knavery or folly. Visions of the first kind are under
the province of justice; those of the second are either visions of
diseased fools, or of fools in good health. The first belong to
medicine, the second to Bedlam.


Grave theologians have not failed to allege a specious reason to
maintain the truth of the appearance of the cross in heaven; but we are
going to show that these arguments are not sufficiently convincing to
exclude doubt; the evidences which they quote being neither persuasive
nor according with one another.

First, they produce no witnesses but Christians, the deposition of whom
may be suspected in the treatment of a fact which tended to prove the
divinity of their religion. How is it that no Pagan author has made
mention of this miracle, which was seen equally by all the army of
Constantine? That Zosimus, who seems to have endeavored to diminish the
glory of Constantine, has said nothing of it, is not surprising; but the
silence appears very strange in the author of the panegyric of
Constantine, pronounced in his presence at Trier; in which oration the
panegyrist expresses himself in magnificent terms on all the war against
Maxentius, whom this emperor had conquered.

Another orator, who, in his panegyric, treats so eloquently of the war
against Maxentius, of the clemency which Constantine showed after the
victory, and of the deliverance of Rome, says not a word on this
apparition; while he assures us, that celestial armies were seen by all
the Gauls, which armies, it was pretended, were sent to aid Constantine.

This surprising vision has not only been unknown to Pagan authors, but
to three Christian writers, who had the finest occasion to speak of
them. Optatianus Porphyrius mentions more than once the monogram of
Christ, which he calls the celestial sign, in the panegyric of
Constantine which he wrote in Latin verse, but not a word on the
appearance of the cross in the sky.

Lactantius says nothing of it in his treatise on the "Death of
Persecutors," which he composed towards the year 314, two years after
the vision of which we speak; yet he must have been perfectly informed
of all that regards Constantine, having been tutor to Crispus, the son
of this prince. He merely relates, that Constantine was commanded, in a
dream, to put the divine image of the cross on the bucklers of his
soldiers, and to give up war: but in relating a dream, the truth of
which had no other support than the evidence of the emperor, he passes,
in silence over a prodigy to which all the army were witnesses.

Further, Eusebius of Cæsarea himself, who has given the example to all
other Christian historians on the subject, speaks not of this wonder, in
the whole course of his "Ecclesiastical History," though he enlarges
much on the exploits of Constantine against Maxentius. It is only in his
life of this emperor that he expresses himself in these terms:
"Constantine resolved to adore the god of Constantius; his father
implored the protection of this god against Maxentius. Whilst he was
praying, he had a wonderful vision, which would appear incredible, if
related by another; but since the victorious emperor has himself related
it to us, who wrote this history; and that, after having been long known
to this prince, and enjoying a share in his good graces, the emperor
confirming what he said by oath--who could doubt it? particularly since
the event has confirmed the truth of it.

"He affirmed, that in the afternoon, when the sun set, he saw a luminous
cross above it, with this inscription in Greek--'By this sign, conquer:'
that this appearance astonished him extremely, as well as all the
soldiers who followed him, who were witnesses of the miracle; that while
his mind was fully occupied with this vision, and he sought to penetrate
the sense of it, the night being come, Jesus Christ appeared to him
during his sleep, with the same sign which He had shown to him in the
air in the day-time, and commanded him to make a standard of the same
form, and to bear it in his battles, to secure him from danger.
Constantine, rising at break of day, related to his friends the vision
which he had beheld; and, sending for goldsmiths and lapidaries, he sat
in the midst of them, explained to them the figure of the sign which he
had seen, and commanded them to make a similar one of gold and jewels;
and we remember having sometimes seen it."

Eusebius afterwards adds, that Constantine, astonished at so admirable a
vision, sent for Christian priests; and that, instructed by them, he
applied himself to reading our sacred books, and concluded that he ought
to adore with a profound respect the God who appeared to him.

How can we conceive that so admirable a vision, seen by so many millions
of people, and so calculated to justify the truth of the Christian
religion, could be unknown to Eusebius, an historian so careful in
seeking all that could contribute to do honor to Christianity, as even
to quote profane monuments falsely, as we have seen in the article on
"Eclipse?" And how can we persuade ourselves that he was not informed
of it, until several years after, by the sole evidence of Constantine?
Were there no Christians in the army, who publicly made a glory of
having seen such a prodigy? Had they so little interest in their cause
as to keep silence on so great a miracle? Ought we to be astonished,
after that, that Gelasius, one of the successors of Eusebius, in the
siege of Cæsarea in the fifth century, has said that many people
suspected that it was only a fable, invented in favor of the Christian

This suspicion will become much stronger, if we take notice how little
the witnesses agree on the circumstances of this marvellous appearance.
Almost all affirm, that the cross was seen by Constantine and all his
army; and Gelasius speaks of Constantine alone. They differ on the time
of the vision. Philostorgius, in his "Ecclesiastical History," of which
Photius has preserved us the extract, says, that it was when Constantine
gained the victory over Maxentius; others pretend that it was before,
when Constantine was making preparations for attacking the tyrant, and
was on his march with his army. Arthemius, quoted by Metaphrastus and
Surius, mentions the 20th of October, and says that it was at noon;
others speak of the afternoon at sunset.

Authors do not agree better even on the vision: the greatest number
acknowledged but one, and that in a dream. There is only Eusebius,
followed by Philostorgius and Socrates, who speaks of two; the one that
Constantine saw in the day-time, and the other which he saw in a dream,
tending to confirm the first. Nicephorus Callistus reckons three.

The inscription offers new differences: Eusebius says that it was in
Greek characters, while others do not speak of it. According to
Philostorgius and Nicephorus, it was in Latin characters; others say
nothing about it, and seem by their relation to suppose that the
characters were Greek. Philostorgius affirms, that the inscription was
formed by an assemblage of stars; Arthemius says that the letters were
golden. The author quoted by Photius, represents them as composed of the
same luminous matter as the cross; and according to Sosomenes, it had no
inscription, and they were angels who said to Constantine: "By this
sign, gain the victory."

Finally, the relation of historians is opposed on the consequences of
this vision. If we take that of Eusebius, Constantine, aided by God,
easily gained the victory over Maxentius; but according to Lactantius,
the victory was much disputed. He even says that the troops of Maxentius
had some advantage, before Constantine made his army approach the gates
of Rome. If we may believe Eusebius and Sosomenes, from this epoch
Constantine was always victorious, and opposed the salutary sign of the
cross to his enemies, as an impenetrable rampart. However, a Christian
author, of whom M. de Valois has collected some fragments, at the end of
Ammianus Marcellinus--relates, that in the two battles given to Licinius
by Constantine, the victory was doubtful, and that Constantine was even
slightly wounded in the thigh; and Nicephorus says, that after the first
apparition, he twice combated the Byzantines, without opposing the cross
to them, and would not even have remembered it, if he had not lost nine
thousand men, and had the same vision twice more. In the first, the
stars were so arranged that they formed these words of a psalm: "Call on
me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify
me;" and the last, much clearer and more brilliant still, bore: "By this
sign, thou shalt vanquish all thy enemies."

Philostorgius affirms, that the vision of the cross, and the victory
gained over Maxentius, determined Constantine to embrace the Christian
faith; but Rufinus, who has translated the "Ecclesiastical History" of
Eusebius into Latin, says that he already favored Christianity, and
honored the true God. It is however known, that he did not receive
baptism until a few days before his death, as is expressly said by
Philostorgius, St. Athanasius, St. Ambrose, St. Jerome, Socrates,
Theodoret, and the author of the Chronicle of Alexandria. This custom,
then common, was founded on the belief that, baptism effacing all the
sins of him who received it, he died certain of his salvation.

We might confine ourselves to these general reflections, but by
superabundance of right we will discuss the authority of Eusebius, as an
historian, and that of Constantine and Arthemius, as ocular witnesses.

As to Arthemius, we think that he ought not to be placed in the rank of
ocular witnesses; his discourse being founded only on his "Acts,"
related by Metaphrastus, a fabulous author: "Acts" which Baronius
pretends it was wrong to impeach, at the same time that he confesses
that they are interpolated.

As to the speech of Constantine, related by Eusebius, it is indisputably
an astonishing thing, that this emperor feared that he should not be
believed unless he made oath; and that Eusebius has not supported his
evidence by that of any of the officers or soldiers of the army. But
without here adopting the opinion of some scholars, who doubt whether
Eusebius is the author of the life of Constantine, is he not an author
who, in this work, bears throughout the character of a panegyrist,
rather than that of a historian? Is he not a writer who has carefully
suppressed all which could be disadvantageous to his hero? In a word,
does he not show his partiality, when he says, in his "Ecclesiastical
History," speaking of Maxentius, that having usurped the sovereign power
at Rome, to flatter the people he feigned at first to profess the
Christian religion? As if it was impossible for Constantine to make use
of such a feint, and to pretend this vision, just as Licinius, some time
after, to encourage his soldiers against Maximin, pretended that an
angel in a dream had dictated a prayer to him, which he must repeat with
his army.

How could Eusebius really have the effrontery to call a prince a
Christian who caused the temple of Concord to be rebuilt at his own
expense, as is proved by an inscription, which was read in the time of
Lelio Geraldi, in the temple of Latran? A prince who caused his son
Crispus, already honored with the title of Cæsar, to perish on a slight
suspicion of having commerce with Fausta, his stepmother; who caused
this same Fausta, to whom he was indebted for the preservation of his
life, to be suffocated in an overheated bath; who caused the emperor
Maximian Hercules, his adopted father, to be strangled; who took away
the life of the young Licinius, his nephew, who had already displayed
very good qualities; and, in short, who dishonored himself by so many
murders, that the consul Ablavius called his times Neronian? We might
add, that much dependence should not be placed on the oath of
Constantine, since he had not the least scruple in perjuring himself, by
causing Licinius to be strangled, to whom he had promised his life on
oath. Eusebius passes in silence over all the actions of Constantine
which are related by Eutropius, Zosimus, Orosius, St. Jerome, and
Aurelius Victor.

After this, have we not reason to conclude that the pretended appearance
of the cross in the sky is only a fraud which Constantine imagined to
favor the success of his ambitious enterprises? The medals of this
prince and of his family, which are found in Banduri, and in the work
entitled, "_Numismata Imperatorum Romanorum_"; the triumphal arch of
which Baronius speaks, in the inscription of which the senate and the
Roman people said that Constantine, by the direction of the Divinity,
had rid the republic of the tyrant Maxentius, and of all his faction;
finally, the statue which Constantine himself caused to be erected at
Rome, holding a lance terminating in the form of a cross, with this
inscription--as related by Eusebius: "By this saving sign, I have
delivered your city from the yoke of tyranny"--all this, I say, only
proves the immoderate pride of this artificial prince, who would
everywhere spread the noise of his pretended dream, and perpetuate the
recollection of it.

Yet, to excuse Eusebius, we must compare him to a bishop of the
seventeenth century, whom La Bruyère hesitated not to call a father of
the Church. Bossuet, at the same time that he fell so unmercifully on
the visions of the elegant and sensible Fénelon, commented himself, in
the funeral oration of Anne of Gonzaga of Cleves, on the two visions
which worked the conversion of the Princess Palatine. It was an
admirable dream, says this prelate; she thought that, walking alone in a
forest, she met with a blind man in a small cell. She comprehended that
a sense is wanting to the incredulous as well as to the blind; and at
the same time, in the midst of so mysterious a dream, she applied the
fine comparison of the blind man to the truths of religion and of the
other life.

In the second vision, God continued to instruct her, as He did Joseph
and Solomon; and during the drowsiness which the trouble caused her, He
put this parable into her mind, so similar to that in the gospel: She
saw that appear which Jesus Christ has not disdained to give us as an
image of His tenderness--a hen become a mother, anxious round the little
ones which she conducted. One of them having strayed, our invalid saw it
swallowed by a hungry dog. She ran and tore the innocent animal away
from him. At the same time, a voice cried from the other side that she
must give it back to the ravisher. "No," said she, "I will never give it
back." At this moment she awakened, and the explanation of the figure
which had been shown to her presented itself to her mind in an instant.


To make a vow for life, is to make oneself a slave. How can this worst
of all slavery be allowed in a country in which slavery is proscribed?
To promise to God by an oath, that from the age of fifteen until death
we will be a Jesuit, Jacobin, or Capuchin, is to affirm that we will
always think like a Capuchin, a Jacobin, or a Jesuit. It is very
pleasant to promise, for a whole life, that which no man can certainly
insure from night to morning!

How can governments have been such enemies to themselves, and so absurd,
as to authorize citizens to alienate their liberty at an age when they
are not allowed to dispose of the least portion of their fortunes? How,
being convinced of the extent of this stupidity, have not the whole of
the magistracy united to put an end to it?

Is it not alarming to reflect that there are more monks than soldiers?
Is it possible not to be affected by the discovery of the secrets of
cloisters; the turpitudes, the horrors, and the torments to which so
many unhappy children are subjected, who detest the state which they
have been forced to adopt, when they become men, and who beat with
useless despair the chains which their weakness has imposed upon them?

I knew a young man whose parents engaged to make a Capuchin of him at
fifteen years and a half old, when he desperately loved a girl very
nearly of his own age. As soon as the unhappy youth had made his vow to
St. Francis, the devil reminded him of the vows which he had made to his
mistress, to whom he had signed a promise of marriage. At last, the
devil being stronger than St. Francis, the young Capuchin left his
cloister, repaired to the house of his mistress, and was told that she
had entered a convent and made profession.

He flew to the convent, and asked to see her, when he was told that she
had died of grief. This news deprived him of all sense, and he fell to
the ground nearly lifeless. He was immediately transported to a
neighboring monastery, not to afford him the necessary medical aid, but
in order to procure him the blessing of extreme unction before his
death, which infallibly saves the soul.

The house to which the poor fainting boy was carried, happened to be a
convent of Capuchins, who charitably let him remain at the door for
three hours; but at last he was recognized by one of the venerable
brothers, who had seen him in the monastery to which he belonged. On
this discovery, he was carried into a cell, and attention paid to
recover him, in order that he might expiate, by a salutary penitence,
the errors of which he had been guilty.

As soon as he had recovered strength, he was conducted, well bound, to
his convent, and the following is precisely the manner in which he was
treated. In the first place he was placed in a dungeon under ground, at
the bottom of which was an enormous stone, to which a chain of iron was
attached. To this chain he was fastened by one leg, and near him was
placed a loaf of barley bread and a jug of water; after which they
closed the entrance of the dungeon with a large block of stone, which
covered the opening by which they had descended.

At the end of three days they withdrew him from the dungeon, in order to
bring him before the criminal court of the Capuchins. They wished to
know if he had any accomplices in his flight, and to oblige him to
confess, applied the mode of torture employed in the convent. This
preparatory torture was inflicted by cords, which bound the limbs of the
patient, and made him endure a sort of rack.

After having undergone these torments, he was condemned to be imprisoned
for two years in his cell, from which he was to be brought out thrice a
week, in order to receive upon his naked body the discipline with iron

For six months his constitution endured this punishment, from which he
was at length so fortunate as to escape in consequence of a quarrel
among the Capuchins, who fought with one another, and allowed the
prisoner to escape during the fray.

After hiding himself for some hours, he ventured to go abroad at the
decline of day, almost worn out by hunger, and scarcely able to support
himself. A passing Samaritan took pity upon the poor, famished spectre,
conducted him to his house, and gave him assistance. The unhappy youth
himself related to me his story in the presence of his liberator. Behold
here the consequence of vows!

It would be a nice point to decide, whether the horrors of passing every
day among the mendicant friars are more revolting than the pernicious
riches of the other orders, which reduce so many families into

All of them have made a vow to live at our expense, and to be a burden
to their country; to injure its population, and to betray both their
contemporaries and posterity; and shall we suffer it?

Here is another interesting question for officers of the army: Why are
monks allowed to recover one of their brethren who has enlisted for a
soldier, while a captain is prevented from recovering a deserter who has
turned monk?


Of the famous dispute, whether Peter made the journey to Rome, is it not
in the main as frivolous as most other grand disputes? The revenues of
the abbey of St. Denis, in France, depend neither on the truth of the
journey of St. Dionysius the Areopagite from Athens to the midst of
Gaul; his martyrdom at Montmartre; nor the other journey which he made
after his death, from Montmartre to St. Denis, carrying his head in his
arms, and kissing it at every step.

The Carthusians have great riches, without there being the least truth
in the history of the canon of Paris, who rose from his coffin three
successive days, to inform the assistants that he was damned.

In like manner it is very certain that the rights and revenues of the
Roman pontiff can exist, whether Simon Barjonas, surnamed Cephas, went
to Rome or not. All the rights of the archbishops of Rome and
Constantinople were established at the Council of Chalcedon, in the
year 451 of our vulgar era, and there was no mention in this council of
any journey made by an apostle to Byzantium or to Rome.

The patriarchs of Alexander and Constantinople followed the lot of their
provinces. The ecclesiastical chiefs of these two imperial cities, and
of opulent Egypt, must necessarily have more authority, privileges, and
riches, than bishops of little towns.

If the residence of an apostle in a city decided so many rights, the
bishop of Jerusalem would have been, without contradiction, the first
bishop of Christendom. He was evidently the successor of St. James, the
brother of Jesus Christ, acknowledged as the founder of this church, and
afterwards called the first of all bishops. We should add by the same
reasoning, that all the patriarchs of Jerusalem should be circumcised,
since the fifteen first bishops of Jerusalem--the cradle of Christianity
and tomb of Jesus Christ--had all received circumcision. It is
indisputable that the first largesses made to the church of Rome by
Constantine, have not the least relation to the journey of St. Peter.

1. The first church raised at Rome was that of St. John; it is still the
true cathedral. It is evident that it would have been dedicated to St.
Peter, if he had been the first bishop of it. It is the strongest of all
presumptions, and that alone might have ended the dispute.

2. To this powerful conjecture are joined convincing negative proofs. If
Peter had been at Rome with Paul, the Acts of the Apostles would have
mentioned it; and they say not a word about it.

3. If St. Peter went to preach the gospel at Rome, St. Paul would not
have said, in his Epistle to the Galatians: "When they saw that the
gospel of the uncircumcisions was committed unto me, as the gospel of
the circumcision was unto Peter; and when James, Cephas, and John, who
seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they
gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go
unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision."

4. In the letters which Paul writes from Rome, he never speaks of Peter;
therefore, it is evident that Peter was not there.

5. In the letters which Paul writes to his brethren of Rome, there is
not the least compliment to Peter, nor the least mention of him;
therefore, Peter neither made a journey to Rome when Paul was in prison,
nor when he was free.

6. We have never known any letter of St. Peter's dated from Rome.

7. Some, like Paul Orosius, a Spaniard of the fifth century, say that he
was at Rome in the first years of the reign of Claudius. The Acts of the
Apostles say that he was then at Jerusalem; and the Epistles of Paul,
that he was at Antioch.

8. I do not pretend to bring forward any proof, but speaking humanly,
and according to the rules of profane criticism, Peter could scarcely go
from Jerusalem to Rome, knowing neither the Latin nor even the Greek
language, which St. Paul spoke, though very badly. It is said that the
apostles spoke all the languages of the universe; therefore, I am

9. Finally, the first mention which we ever had of the journey of St.
Peter to Rome, came from one named Papias, who lived about a hundred
years after St. Peter. This Papias was a Phrygian; he wrote in Phrygia;
and he pretended that St. Peter went to Rome, because in one of his
letters he speaks of Babylon. We have, indeed, a letter, attributed to
St. Peter, written in these obscure times, in which it is said: "The
Church which is at Babylon, my wife, and my son Mark, salute you." It
has pleased some translators to translate the word meaning my wife, by
"chosen vessel": "Babylon, the chosen vessel." This is translating

Papias, who was, it must be confessed, one of the great visionaries of
these ages, imagined that Babylon signified Rome. It was, however, very
natural for Peter to depart from Antioch to visit the brethren at
Babylon. There were always Jews at Babylon; and they continually carried
on the trade of brokers and peddlers; it is very likely that several
disciples sought refuge there, and that Peter went to encourage them.
There is not more reason in supposing that Babylon signifies Rome, than
in supposing that Rome means Babylon. What an extravagant idea, to
suppose that Peter wrote an exhortation to his comrades, as we write at
present, in ciphers! Did he fear that his letter should be opened at the
post? Why should Peter fear that his Jewish letters should be known--so
useless in a worldly sense, and to which it was impossible for the
Romans to pay the least attention? Who engaged him to lie so vainly?
What could have possessed people to think, that when he wrote Babylon,
he intended Rome?

It was after similar convincing proofs that the judicious Calmet
concludes that the journey of St. Peter to Rome is proved by St. Peter
himself, who says expressly, that he has written his letter from
Babylon; that is to say, from Rome, as we interpret with the ancients.
Once more, this is powerful reasoning! He has probably learned this
logic among the vampires!

The learned archbishop of Paris, Marca, Dupin, Blondel, and Spanheim,
are not of this opinion; but it was that of Calmet, who reasoned like
Calmet, and who was followed by a multitude of writers so attached to
the sublimity of their principles that they sometimes neglected
wholesome criticism and reason. It is a very poor pretence of the
partisans of the voyage to say that the Acts of the Apostles are
intended for the history of Paul, and not for that of Peter; and that if
they pass in silence over the sojourn of Simon Barjonas at Rome, it is
that the actions and exploits of Paul were the sole object of the

The Acts speak much of Simon Barjonas, surnamed Peter; it is he who
proposes to give a successor to Judas. We see him strike Ananias and his
wife with sudden death, who had given him their property, but
unfortunately not all of it. We see him raise his sempstress Dorcas, at
the house of the tanner Simon at Joppa. He has a quarrel in Samaria with
Simon, surnamed the Magician; he goes to Lippa, Cæsarea, and Jerusalem;
what would it have cost him to go to Rome?

It is very difficult to decide whether Peter went to Rome under
Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, or Nero. The journey in the time of
Tiberius is only founded on the pretended apocryphal fasti of Italy.

Another apocrypha, entitled "Catalogues of Bishops," makes Peter bishop
of Rome immediately after the death of his master. I know not what
Arabian tale sent him to Rome under Caligula. Eusebius, three hundred
years after, makes him to be conducted to Rome under Claudius by a
divine hand, without saying in what year.

Lactantius, who wrote in the time of Constantine, is the first veracious
author who has said that Peter went to Rome under Nero, and that he was
crucified there.

We must avow, that if such claims alone were brought forward by a party
in a lawsuit, he would not gain his cause, and he would be advised to
keep to the maxim of "_uti possedetis_"; and this is the part which Rome
has taken.

But it is said that before Eusebius and Lactantius, the exact Papias had
already related the adventure of Peter and Simon; the virtue of God
which removed him into the presence of Nero; the kinsman of Nero half
raised from the dead, in the name of God, by Simon, and wholly raised by
Peter; the compliments of their dogs; the bread given by Peter to
Simon's dogs; the magician who flew into the air; the Christian who
caused him to fall by a sign of the cross, by which he broke both his
legs; Nero, who cut off Peter's head to pay for the legs of his
magician, etc. The grave Marcellus repeats this authentic history, and
the grave Hegesippus again repeats it, and others repeat it after them;
and I repeat to you, that if ever you plead for a meadow before the
judge of Vaugirard, you will never gain your suit by such claims.

I doubt not that the episcopal chair of St. Peter is still at Rome in
the fine church. I doubt not but that St. Peter enjoyed the bishopric of
Rome twenty-nine years, a month, and nine days, as it is said. But I may
venture to say that that is not demonstratively proved; and I say that
it is to be thought that the Roman bishops of the present time are more
at their ease than those of times past--obscure times, which it is very
difficult to penetrate.


The celebrated Waller has been much spoken of in France; he has been
praised by La Fontaine, St. Évremond, and Bayle, who, however, knew
little of him beyond his name.

He had pretty nearly the same reputation in London as Voiture enjoyed in
Paris, but I believe that he more deserved it. Voiture existed at a time
when we were first emerging from literary ignorance, and when wit was
aimed at, but scarcely attained. Turns of expression were sought for
instead of thoughts, and false stones were more easily discovered than
genuine diamonds. Voiture, who possessed an easy and trifling turn of
mind, was the first who shone in this aurora of French literature. Had
he come after the great men who have thrown so much lustre on the age of
Louis XIV., he would have been forced to have had something more than
mere wit, which was enough for the hotel de Rambouillet, but not enough
for posterity. Boileau praises him, but it was in his first satires, and
before his taste was formed. He was young, and of that age in which men
judge rather by reputation than from themselves; and, besides, Boileau
was often unjust in his praise as well as his censure. He praised
Segrais, whom nobody read; insulted Quinault, who everybody repeated by
heart; and said nothing of La Fontaine.

Waller, although superior to Voiture, was not perfect. His poems of
gallantry are very graceful, but they are frequently languid from
negligence, and they are often disfigured by conceits. In his days, the
English had not learned to write correctly. His serious pieces are
replete with vigor, and exhibit none of the softness of his gallant
effusions. He composed a monody on the death of Cromwell, which, with
several faults, passes for a masterpiece; and it was in reference to
this eulogy that Waller made the reply to Charles II., which is inserted
in "Bayle's Dictionary." The king--to whom Waller, after the manner of
kings and poets, presented a poem stuffed with panegyric--told him that
he had written more finely on Cromwell. Waller immediately replied:
"Sire, we poets always succeed better in fiction than in truth." This
reply was not so sincere as that of the Dutch ambassador, who, when the
same king complained to him that his masters had less regard for him
than for Cromwell, replied: "Ah, sire! that Cromwell was quite another
thing." There are courtiers in England, as elsewhere, and Waller was one
of them; but after their death, I consider men only by their works; all
the rest is annihilated. I simply observe that Waller, born to an estate
of the annual value of sixty thousand livres, had never the silly pride
or carelessness to neglect his talent. The earls of Dorset and
Roscommon, the two dukes of Buckingham, the earl of Halifax, and a great
many others, have not thought it below them to become celebrated poets
and illustrious writers; and their works do them more honor than their
titles. They have cultivated letters as if their fortunes depended on
their success, and have rendered literature respectable in the eyes of
the people, who in all things require leaders from among the great--who,
however, have less influence of this kind in England than in any other
place in the world.


All animals are perpetually at war; every species is born to devour
another. There are none, even to sheep and doves, who do not swallow a
prodigious number of imperceptible animals. Males of the same species
make war for the females, like Menelaus and Paris. Air, earth, and the
waters, are fields of destruction.

It seems that God having given reason to men, this reason should teach
them not to debase themselves by imitating animals, particularly when
nature has given them neither arms to kill their fellow-creatures, nor
instinct which leads them to suck their blood.

Yet murderous war is so much the dreadful lot of man, that except two or
three nations, there are none but what their ancient histories represent
as armed against one another. Towards Canada, man and warrior are
synonymous; and we have seen, in our hemisphere, that thief and soldier
were the same thing. Manichæans! behold your excuse.

The most determined of flatterers will easily agree, that war always
brings pestilence and famine in its train, from the little that he may
have seen in the hospitals of the armies of Germany, or the few villages
he may have passed through in which some great exploit of war has been

That is doubtless a very fine art which desolates countries, destroys
habitations, and in a common year causes the death of from forty to a
hundred thousand men. This invention was first cultivated by nations
assembled for their common good; for instance, the diet of the Greeks
declared to the diet of Phrygia and neighboring nations, that they
intended to depart on a thousand fishers' barks, to exterminate them if
they could.

The assembled Roman people judged that it was to their interest to go
and fight, before harvest, against the people of Veii or the Volscians.
And some years after, all the Romans, being exasperated against all the
Carthaginians, fought them a long time on sea and land. It is not
exactly the same at present.

A genealogist proves to a prince that he descends in a right line from a
count, whose parents made a family compact, three or four hundred years
ago, with a house the recollection of which does not even exist. This
house had distant pretensions to a province, of which the last possessor
died of apoplexy. The prince and his council see his right at once. This
province, which is some hundred leagues distant from him, in vain
protests that it knows him not; that it has no desire to be governed by
him; that to give laws to its people, he must at least have their
consent; these discourses only reach as far as the ears of the prince,
whose right is incontestable. He immediately assembles a great number of
men who have nothing to lose, dresses them in coarse blue cloth, borders
their hats with broad white binding, makes them turn to the right and
left, and marches to glory.

Other princes who hear of this equipment, take part in it, each
according to his power, and cover a small extent of country with more
mercenary murderers than Genghis Khan, Tamerlane, and Bajazet employed
in their train. Distant people hear that they are going to fight, and
that they may gain five or six sous a day, if they will be of the party;
they divide themselves into two bands, like reapers, and offer their
services to whoever will employ them.

These multitudes fall upon one another, not only without having any
interest in the affair, but without knowing the reason of it. We see at
once five or six belligerent powers, sometimes three against three,
sometimes two against four, and sometimes one against five; all equally
detesting one another, uniting with and attacking by turns; all agree in
a single point, that of doing all the harm possible.

The most wonderful part of this infernal enterprise is that each chief
of the murderers causes his colors to be blessed, and solemnly invokes
God before he goes to exterminate his neighbors. If a chief has only the
fortune to kill two or three thousand men, he does not thank God for it;
but when he has exterminated about ten thousand by fire and sword, and,
to complete the work, some town has been levelled with the ground, they
then sing a long song in four parts, composed in a language unknown to
all who have fought, and moreover replete with barbarism. The same song
serves for marriages and births, as well as for murders; which is
unpardonable, particularly in a nation the most famous for new songs.

Natural religion has a thousand times prevented citizens from committing
crimes. A well-trained mind has not the inclination for it; a tender one
is alarmed at it, representing to itself a just and avenging God; but
artificial religion encourages all cruelties which are exercised by
troops--conspiracies, seditions, pillages, ambuscades, surprises of
towns, robberies, and murder. Each marches gaily to crime, under the
banner of his saint.

A certain number of orators are everywhere paid to celebrate these
murderous days; some are dressed in a long black close coat, with a
short cloak; others have a shirt above a gown; some wear two variegated
stuff streamers over their shirts. All of them speak for a long time,
and quote that which was done of old in Palestine, as applicable to a
combat in Veteravia.

The rest of the year these people declaim against vices. They prove, in
three points and by antitheses, that ladies who lay a little carmine
upon their cheeks, will be the eternal objects of the eternal vengeances
of the Eternal; that Polyeuctus and Athalia are works of the demon; that
a man who, for two hundred crowns a day, causes his table to be
furnished with fresh sea-fish during Lent, infallibly works his
salvation; and that a poor man who eats two sous and a half worth of
mutton, will go forever to all the devils.

Of five or six thousand declamations of this kind, there are three or
four at most, composed by a Gaul named Massillon, which an honest man
may read without disgust; but in all these discourses, you will scarcely
find two in which the orator dares to say a word against the scourge and
crime of war, which contains all other scourges and crimes. The
unfortunate orators speak incessantly against love, which is the only
consolation of mankind, and the only mode of making amends for it; they
say nothing of the abominable efforts which we make to destroy it.

You have made a very bad sermon on impurity--oh, Bourdaloue!--but none
on these murders, varied in so many ways; on these rapines and
robberies; on this universal rage which devours the world. All the
united vices of all ages and places will never equal the evils produced
by a single campaign.

Miserable physicians of souls! you exclaim, for five quarters of an
hour, on some pricks of a pin, and say nothing on the malady which tears
us into a thousand pieces! Philosophers! moralists! burn all your books.
While the caprice of a few men makes that part of mankind consecrated to
heroism, to murder loyally millions of our brethren, can there be
anything more horrible throughout nature?

What becomes of, and what signifies to me, humanity, beneficence,
modesty, temperance, mildness, wisdom, and piety, while half a pound of
lead, sent from the distance of a hundred steps, pierces my body, and I
die at twenty years of age, in inexpressible torments, in the midst of
five or six thousand dying men, while my eyes which open for the last
time, see the town in which I was born destroyed by fire and sword, and
the last sounds which reach my ears are the cries of women and children
expiring under the ruins, all for the pretended interests of a man whom
I know not?

What is worse, war is an inevitable scourge. If we take notice, all men
have worshipped Mars. Sabaoth, among the Jews, signifies the god of
arms; but Minerva, in Homer, calls Mars a furious, mad, and infernal

The celebrated Montesquieu, who was called humane, has said, however,'
that it is just to bear fire and sword against our neighbors, when we
fear that they are doing too well. If this is the spirit of laws, At is
also that of Borgia and of Machiavelli. If unfortunately he says true,
we must write against this truth, though it may be proved by facts.

This is what Montesquieu says: "Between societies, the right of natural
defence sometimes induces the necessity of attacking, when one people
sees that a longer peace puts another in a situation to destroy it, and
that attack at the given moment is the only way of preventing this

How can attack in peace be the only means of preventing this
destruction? You must be sure that this neighbor will destroy you, if he
become powerful. To be sure of it, he must already have made
preparations for your overthrow. In this case, it is he who commences
the war; it is not you: your supposition is false and contradictory.

If ever war is evidently unjust, it is that which you propose: it is
going to kill your neighbor, who does not attack you, lest he should
ever be in a state to do so. To hazard the ruin of your country, in the
hope of ruining without reason that of another, is assuredly neither
honest nor useful; for we are never sure of success, as you well know.

If your neighbor becomes too powerful during peace, what prevents you
from rendering yourself equally powerful? If he has made alliances, make
them on your side. If, having fewer monks, he has more soldiers and
manufacturers, imitate him in this wise economy. If he employs his
sailors better, employ yours in the same manner: all that is very just.
But to expose your people to the most horrible misery, in the so often
false idea of overturning your dear brother, the most serene neighboring
prince!--it was not for the honorary president of a pacific society to
give you such advice.


Weakness on both sides is, as we know, the motto of all quarrels. I
speak not here of those which have caused blood to be shed--the
Anabaptists, who ravaged Westphalia; the Calvinists, who kindled so many
wars in France; the sanguinary factions of the Armagnacs and
Burgundians; the punishment of the Maid of Orleans, whom one-half of
France regarded as a celestial heroine, and the other as a sorceress;
the Sorbonne, which presented a request to have her burned; the
assassination of the duke of Orleans, justified by the doctors; subjects
excused from the oath of fidelity by a decree of the sacred faculty; the
executioners so often employed to enforce opinions; the piles lighted
for unfortunates who persuaded others that they were sorcerers and
heretics--all that is more than weakness. Yet these abominations were
committed in the good times of honest Germanic faith and Gallic naivete!
I would send back to them all honest people who regret times past.

I will make here, simply for my own particular edification, a little
instructive memoir of the fine things which divided the minds of our
grandfathers. In the eleventh century--in that good time in which we
knew not the art of war, which however we have always practised; nor
that of governing towns, nor commerce, nor society, and in which we
could neither read nor write--men of much mind disputed solemnly, at
much length, and with great vivacity, on what happened at the
water-closet, after having fulfilled a sacred duty, of which we must
speak only with the most profound respect. This was called the dispute
of the stercorists; and, not ending in a war, was in consequence one of
the mildest impertinences of the human mind.

The dispute which divided learned Spain, in the same century, on the
Mosarabic version, also terminated without ravaging provinces or
shedding human blood. The spirit of chivalry, which then prevailed,
permitted not the difficulty to be enlightened otherwise than in leaving
the decision to two noble knights. As in that of the two Don Quixotes,
whichever overthrew his adversary caused his own party to triumph. Don
Ruis de Martanza, knight of the Mosarabic ritual, overthrew the Don
Quixote of the Latin ritual; but as the laws of chivalry decided not
positively that a ritual must be proscribed because its knight was
unhorsed, a more certain and established secret was made use of, to know
which of the books should be preferred. The expedient alluded to was
that of throwing them both into the fire, it not being possible for the
sound ritual to perish in the flames. I know not how it happened,
however, but they were both burned, and the dispute remained undecided,
to the great astonishment of the Spaniards. By degrees, the Latin ritual
got the preference; and if any knight afterwards presented himself to
maintain the Mosarabic, it was the knight and not the ritual which was
thrown into the fire.

In these fine times, we and other polished people, when we were ill,
were obliged to have recourse to an Arabian physician. When we would
know what day of the moon it was, we referred to the Arabs. If we would
buy a piece of cloth, we must pay a Jew for it; and when a farmer wanted
rain, he addressed himself to a sorcerer. At last, however, when some of
us learned Latin, and had a bad translation of Aristotle, we figured in
the world with honor, passing three or four hundred years in deciphering
some pages of the Stagyrite, and in adoring and condemning them. Some
said that without him we should want articles of faith; others, that he
was an atheist. A Spaniard proved that Aristotle was a saint, and that
we should celebrate his anniversary; while a council in France caused
his divine writings to be burned. Colleges, universities, whole orders
of monks, were reciprocally anathematized, on the subject of some
passages of this great man--which neither themselves, the judges who
interposed their authority, nor the author himself, ever understood.
There were many fisticuffs given in Germany in these grave quarrels, but
there was not much bloodshed. It is a pity, for the glory of Aristotle,
that they did not make civil war, and have some regular battles in favor
of quiddities, and of the "universal of the part of the thing." Our
ancestors cut the throats of each other in disputes upon points which
they understood very little better.

It is true that a much celebrated madman named Occam, surnamed the
"invincible doctor," chief of those who stood up for the "universal of
the part of thought," demanded from the emperor Louis of Bavaria, that
he should defend his pen with his imperial sword against Scott, another
Scottish madman, surnamed the "subtle doctor," who fought for the
"universal of the part of the thing." Happily, the sword of Louis of
Bavaria remained in its scabbard. Who would believe that these disputes
have lasted until our days, and that the Parliament of Paris, in 1624,
gave a fine sentence in favor of Aristotle?

Towards the time of the brave Occam and the intrepid Scott, a much more
serious quarrel arose, into which the reverend father Cordeliers
inveigled all the Christian world. This was to know if their kitchen
garden belonged to themselves, or if they were merely simple tenants of
it. The form of the cowls, and the size of the sleeves, were further
subjects of this holy war. Pope John XXII., who interfered, found out to
whom he was speaking. The Cordeliers quitted his party for that of Louis
of Bavaria, who then drew his sword.

There were, moreover, three or four Cordeliers burned as heretics, which
is rather strong; but after all, this affair having neither shaken
thrones nor ruined provinces, we may place it in the rank of peaceable

There have been always some of this kind, the greater part of whom have
fallen into the most profound oblivion; and of four or five hundred
sects which have appeared, there remain in the memory of men those only
which have produced either extreme disorder or extreme folly--two things
which they willingly retain. Who knows, in the present day, that there
were Orebites, Osmites, and Insdorfians? Who is now acquainted with the
Anointed, the Cornacians, or the Iscariots?

Dining one day at the house of a Dutch lady, I was charitably warned by
one of the guests, to take care of myself, and not to praise Voetius. "I
have no desire," said I, "to say either good or evil of your Voetius;
but why do you give me this advice?" "Because madam is a Cocceian," said
my neighbor. "With all my heart," said I. She added, that there were
still four Cocceians in Holland, and that it was a great pity that the
sect perished. A time will come in which the Jansenists, who have made
so much noise among us, and who are unknown everywhere else, will have
the fate of the Cocceians. An old doctor said to me: "Sir, in my youth,
I have debated on the _'mandata impossibilia volentibus et conantibus.'_
I have written against the formulary and the pope, and I thought myself
a confessor. I have been put in prison, and I thought myself a martyr. I
now no longer interfere in anything, and I believe myself to be
reasonable." "What are your occupations?" said I to him. "Sir," replied
he, "I am very fond of money." It is thus that almost all men in their
old age inwardly laugh at the follies which they ardently embraced in
their youth. Sects grow old, like men. Those which have not been
supported by great princes, which have not caused great mischief, grow
old much sooner than others. They are epidemic maladies, which pass over
like the sweating sickness and the whooping-cough.

There is no longer any question on the pious reveries of Madame Guyon.
We no longer read the most unintelligible book of Maxims of the Saints,
but Telemachus. We no longer remember what the eloquent Bossuet wrote
against the elegant and amiable Fénelon; we give the preference to his
funeral orations. In all the dispute on what is called quietism, there
has been nothing good but the old tale revived of the honest woman who
brought a torch to burn paradise, and a cruse of water to extinguish the
fire of hell, that God should no longer be served either through hope or

I will only remark one singularity in this proceeding, which is not
equal to the story of the good woman; it is, that the Jesuits, who were
so much accused in France by the Jansenists of having been founded by
St. Ignatius, expressly to destroy the love of God, warmly interfered
at Rome in favor of the pure love of Fénelon. It happened to them as to
M. de Langeais, who was pursued by his wife to the Parliament of Paris,
on account of his impotence, and by a girl to the Parliament of Rennes,
for having rendered her pregnant. He ought to have gained one of these
two causes; he lost them both. Pure love, for which the Jesuits made so
much stir, was condemned at Rome, and they were always supposed at Paris
to be against loving God. This opinion was so rooted in the public mind
that when, some years ago, an engraving was sold representing our Lord
Jesus Christ dressed as a Jesuit, a wit--apparently the _loustic_ of the
Jansenist party--wrote lines under the print intimating that the
ingenious fathers had habited God like themselves, as the surest means
of preventing the love of him:

     _Admirez l'artifice extrême_
     _Les ces pères ingénieux:_
     _Ils vous ont habillé comme eux,_
     _Mon Dieu, de peur qu'on ne vous aime._

At Rome, where such disputes never arise, and where they judge those
that take place elsewhere, they were much annoyed with quarrels on pure
love. Cardinal Carpegne, who was the reporter of the affairs of the
archbishop of Cambray, was ill, and suffered much in a part which is not
more spared in cardinals than in other men. His surgeon bandaged him
with fine linen, which is called cambrai (cambric) in Italy as in many
other places. The cardinal cried out, when the surgeon pleaded that it
was the finest cambrai: "What! more cambrai still? Is it not enough to
have one's head fatigued with it?" Happy the disputes which end thus!
Happy would man be if all the disputers of the world, if heresiarchs,
submitted with so much moderation, such magnanimous mildness, as the
great archbishop of Cambray, who had no desire to be an heresiarch! I
know not whether he was right in wishing God to be loved for himself
alone, but M. de Fénelon certainly deserved to be loved thus.

In purely literary disputes there is often as much snarling and party
spirit as in more interesting quarrels. We should, if we could, renew
the factions of the circus, which agitated the Roman Empire. Two rival
actresses are capable of dividing a town. Men have all a secret
fascination for faction. If we cannot cabal, pursue, and destroy one
another for crowns, tiaras, and mitres, we fall upon one another for a
dancer or a musician. Rameau had a violent party against him, who would
have exterminated him; and he knew nothing of it. I had a violent party
against me, and I knew it well.


Why do we scarcely ever know the tenth part of the good we might do?
Iris clear, that if a nation living between the Alps, the Pyrenees, and
the sea, had employed, in ameliorating and embellishing the country, a
tenth part of the money it lost in the war of 1741, and one-half of the
men killed to no purpose in Germany, the state would have been more
flourishing. Why was not this done? Why prefer a war, which Europe
considered unjust, to the happy labors of peace, which would have
produced the useful and the agreeable?

Why did Louis XIV., who had so much taste for great monuments, for new
foundations, for the fine arts, lose eight hundred millions of our money
in seeing his cuirassiers and his household swim across the Rhine in
_not_ taking Amsterdam; in stirring up nearly all Europe against him?
What could he not have done with his eight hundred millions?

Why, when he reformed jurisprudence, did he reform it only by halves?
Ought the numerous ancient customs, founded on the decretals and the
canon law, to be still suffered to exist? Was it necessary that in the
many causes called ecclesiastical, but which are in reality civil,
appeal should be made to the bishop; from the bishop to the
metropolitan; from the metropolitan to the primate; and from the primate
to Rome, "_ad apostolos_"?--as if the apostles had of old been the
judges of the Gauls "_en dernier ressort_."

Why, when Louis XIV. was outrageously insulted by Pope Alexander
VII.--Chigi--did he amuse himself with sending into France for a legate,
to make frivolous excuses, and with having a pyramid erected at Rome,
the inscriptions over which concerned none but the watchmen of Rome--a
pyramid which he soon after had abolished? Had it not been better to
have abolished forever the simony by which every bishop and every abbot
in Gaul pays to the Italian apostolic chamber the half of his revenue?

Why did the same monarch, when still more grievously insulted by
Innocent XI.--Odescalchi--who took the part of the prince of Orange
against him, content himself with having four propositions maintained in
his universities, and refuse the prayers of the whole magistracy, who
solicited an eternal rupture with the court of Rome?

Why, in making the laws, was it forgotten to place all the provinces of
the kingdom under one uniform law, leaving in existence a hundred
different customs, and a hundred and forty-four different measures?

Why were the provinces of this kingdom still reputed foreign to one
another, so that the merchandise of Normandy, on being conveyed by land
into Brittany, pays duty, as if it came from England?

Why was not corn grown in Champagne allowed to be sold in Picardy
without an express permission--as at Rome permission is obtained for
three giuli to read forbidden books?

Why was France left so long under the reproach of venality? It seemed to
be reserved for Louis XIV. to abolish the custom of buying the right to
sit as judges over men, as you buy a country house; and making pleaders
pay fees to the judge, as tickets for the play are paid for at the

Why institute in a kingdom the offices and dignities of king's
counsellors: Inspectors of drink, inspectors of the shambles, registrars
of inventories, controllers of fines, inspectors of hogs, péréquateurs
of tailles, fuel-measurers, assistant-measurers, fuel-pilers, unloaders
of green wood, controllers of timber, markers of timber, coal-measurers,
corn-sifters, inspectors of calves, controllers of poultry, gaugers,
assayers of brandy, assayers of beer, rollers of casks, unloaders of
hay, floor-clearers, inspectors of ells, inspectors of wigs?

These offices; in which doubtless consist the prosperity and splendor of
an empire, formed numerous communities, which had each their syndics.
This was all suppressed in 1719; but it was to make room for others of a
similar kind, in the course of time. Would it not be better to retrench
all the pomp and luxury of greatness, than miserably to support them by
means so low and shameful?

Why has a nation, often reduced to extremity and to some degree of
humiliation, still supported itself in spite of all the efforts made to
crush it? Because that nation is active and industrious. The people are
like the bees: you take from them wax and honey, and they forthwith set
to work to produce more.

Why, in half of Europe, do the girls pray to God in Latin, which they do
not understand? Why, in the sixteenth century, when nearly all the popes
and bishops notoriously had bastards, did they persist in prohibiting
the marriage of priests; while the Greek Church has constantly ordained
that curates should have wives?

Why, in all antiquity, was there no theological dispute, nor any people
distinguished by a sectarian appellation? The Egyptians were not called
Isiacs or Osiriacs. The people of Syria were not named Cybelians. The
Cretans had a particular devotion for Jupiter, but were not called
Jupiterians. The ancient Latins were much attached to Saturn, but there
was not a village in all Latium called Saturnian. The disciples of the
God of Truth, on the contrary, taking the title of their master himself,
and calling themselves, like him, "anointed," declared, as soon as they
were able, eternal war against all nations that were not "anointed," and
made war upon one another for upwards of fourteen hundred years, taking
the names of Arians, Manichæans, Donatists, Hussites, Papists,
Lutherans, Calvinists, etc. Even the Jansenists and Molinists have
experienced no mortification so acute as that of not having it in their
power to cut one another's throats in pitched battle. Whence is this?

Why does a bookseller publicly sell the "Course of Atheism," by the
great Lucretius, printed for the dauphin, only son of Louis XIV., by
order and under the direction of the wise duke of Montausier, and of the
eloquent Bossuet, bishop of Meaux, and of the learned Huet, bishop of
Avranches? There you find those sublime impieties, those admirable
lines against Providence and the immortality of the soul, which pass
from mouth to mouth, through all after-ages:

     _Ex nihilo, nihil; in nihilum nil posse reverti._
     From nothing, nought; to nothing nought returns.

     _Tangere enim ac tangi nisi corpus nulla protest res._
     Matter alone can touch and govern matter.

     _Nec bene pro meretis capitur, nec tangitur ira (Deus)._
     Nothing can flatter God, or cause his anger.

     _Tantum religio potuit suadere malorum._
     How great the evil by religion caused!

     _Desipire est mortale eterno jungere et una_
     _Consentire putare, et fungi mutua posse._
     'Tis weak in mortals to attempt to join
     To transient being that which lasts forever.

     _Nil igitur mors est, ad nos neque pertinet hilum._
     When death is, we are not; the body dies, and with it all.

     _Mortalem tamen esse animam fatere necesse est._
     There is no future; mortal is the soul.

     _Hinc Acherusia fit stultorum denique vita._
     Hence ancient fools are superstition's prey.

And a hundred other lines which charm all nations--the immortal
productions of a mind which believed itself to be mortal. Not only are
these Latin verses sold in the Rue St. Jacques and on the Quai des
Augustins, but you fearlessly purchase the translations made into all
the patois derived from the Latin tongue--translations decorated with
learned notes, which elucidate the doctrine of materialism, collect all
the proofs against the Divinity, and would annihilate it, if it could be
destroyed. You find this book, bound in morocco, in the fine library of
a great and devout prince, of a cardinal, of a chancellor, of an
archbishop, of a round-capped president: but the first eighteen books of
de Thou were condemned as soon as they appeared. A poor Gallic
philosopher ventures to publish, in his own name, that if men had been
born without fingers, they would never have been able to work tapestry;
and immediately another Gaul, who for his money has obtained a robe of
office, requires that the book and the author be burned.

Why are scenic exhibitions anathematized by certain persons who call
themselves of the first order in the state, seeing that such exhibitions
are necessary to all the orders of the state, and that the laws of the
state uphold them with equal splendor and regularity?

Why do we abandon to contempt, debasement, oppression, and rapine, the
great mass of those laborious and harmless men who cultivate the earth
every day of the year, that we may eat of all its fruits? And why, on
the contrary, do we pay respect, attention, and court, to the useless
and often very wicked man who lives only by their labor, and is rich
only by their misery?

Why, during so many ages, among so many men who sow the corn with which
we are fed, has there been no one to discover that ridiculous error
which teaches that the grain must rot in order to germinate, and die to
spring up again--an error which has led to many impertinent assertions,
to many false comparisons, and to many ridiculous opinions?

Why, since the fruits of the earth are so necessary for the preservation
of men and animals, do we find so many years, and so many centuries, in
which these fruits are absolutely wanting? why is the earth covered with
poisons in the half of Africa and of America? why is there no tract of
land where there are not more insects than men? why does a little
whitish and offensive secretion form a being which will have hard bones,
desires, and thoughts? and why shall those beings be constantly
persecuting one another? why does there exist so much evil, everything
being formed by a God whom all Theists agree in calling good? why, since
we are always complaining of our ills, are we constantly employed in
redoubling them? why, since we are so miserable, has it been imagined
that to die is an evil--when it is clear that not to have been, before
our birth, was no evil? why does it rain every day into the sea, while
so many deserts demand rain, yet are constantly arid? why and how have
we dreams in our sleep, if we have no soul? and if we have one, how is
it that these dreams are always so incoherent and so extravagant? why do
the heavens revolve from east to west, rather than the contrary way? why
do we exist? why does anything exist?


We are told that human nature is essentially perverse; that man is born
a child of the devil, and wicked. Nothing can be more injudicious; for
thou, my friend, who preachest to me that all the world is born
perverse, warnest me that thou art born such also, and that I must
mistrust thee as I would a fox or a crocodile. Oh, no! sayest thou; I am
regenerated; I am neither a heretic nor an infidel; you may trust in me.
But the rest of mankind, which are either heretic, or what thou callest
infidel, will be an assemblage of monsters, and every time that thou
speakest to a Lutheran or a Turk, thou mayest be sure that they will rob
and murder thee, for they are children of the devil, they are born
wicked; the one is not regenerated, the other is degenerated. It would
be much more reasonable, much more noble, to say to men: "You are all
born good; see how dreadful it is to corrupt the purity of your being.
All mankind should be dealt with as are all men individually." If a
canon leads a scandalous life, we say to him: "Is it possible that you
would dishonor the dignity of canon?" We remind a lawyer that he has the
honor of being a counsellor to the king, and that he should set an
example. We say to a soldier to encourage him: "Remember that thou art
of the regiment of Champagne." We should say to every individual:
"Remember thy dignity as a man."

And indeed, notwithstanding the contrary theory, we always return to
that; for what else signifies the expression, so frequently used in all
nations: "Be yourself again?" If we are born of the devil, if our origin
was criminal, if our blood was formed of an infernal liquor, this
expression: "Be yourself again," would signify: "Consult, follow your
diabolical nature; be an impostor, thief, and assassin; it is the law of
your nature."

Man is not born wicked; he becomes so, as he becomes sick. Physicians
present themselves and say to him: "You are born sick." It is very
certain these doctors, whatever they may say or do, will not cure him,
if the malady is inherent in his nature; besides, these reasoners are
often very ailing themselves.

Assemble all the children of the universe; you will see in them only
innocence, mildness, and fear; if they were born wicked, mischievous,
and cruel, they would show some signs of it, as little serpents try to
bite, and little tigers to tear. But nature not having given to men more
offensive arms than to pigeons and rabbits, she cannot have given them
an instinct leading them to destroy.

Man, therefore, is not born bad; why, therefore, are several infected
with the plague of wickedness? It is, that those who are at their head
being taken with the malady, communicate it to the rest of men: as a
woman attacked with the distemper which Christopher Columbus brought
from America, spreads the venom from one end of Europe to the other.

The first ambitious man corrupted the earth. You will tell me that this
first monster has sowed the seed of pride, rapine, fraud, and cruelty,
which is in all men. I confess, that in general most of our brethren can
acquire these qualities; but has everybody the putrid fever, the stone
and gravel, because everybody is exposed to it?

There are whole nations which are not wicked: the Philadelphians, the
Banians, have never killed any one. The Chinese, the people of Tonquin,
Lao, Siam, and even Japan, for more than a hundred years have not been
acquainted with war. In ten years we scarcely see one of those great
crimes which astonish human nature in the cities of Rome, Venice, Paris,
London, and Amsterdam; towns in which cupidity, the mother of all
crimes, is extreme.

If men were essentially wicked--if they were all born submissive to a
being as mischievous as unfortunate, who, to revenge himself for his
punishment, inspired them with all his passions--we should every morning
see husbands assassinated by their wives, and fathers by their children;
as at break of day we see fowls strangled by a weasel who comes to suck
their blood.

If there be a thousand millions of men on the earth, that is much; that
gives about five hundred millions of women, who sew, spin, nourish their
little ones, keep their houses or cabins in order, and slander their
neighbors a little. I see not what great harm these poor innocents do on
earth. Of this number of inhabitants of the globe, there are at least
two hundred millions of children, who certainly neither kill nor steal,
and about as many old people and invalids, who have not the power of
doing so. There will remain, at most, a hundred millions of robust young
people capable of crime. Of this hundred millions, there are ninety
continually occupied in forcing the earth, by prodigious labor, to
furnish them with food and clothing; these have scarcely time. In the
ten remaining millions will be comprised idle people and good company,
who would enjoy themselves at their ease; men of talent occupied in
their professions; magistrates, priests, visibly interested in leading a
pure life, at least in appearance. Therefore, of truly wicked people,
there will only remain a few politicians, either secular or regular, who
will always trouble the world, and some thousand vagabonds who hire
their services to these politicians. Now, there is never a million of
these ferocious beasts employed at once, and in this number I reckon
highwaymen. You have therefore on the earth, in the most stormy times,
only one man in a thousand whom we can call wicked, and he is not always

There is, therefore infinitely less wickedness on the earth than we are
told and believe there is. There is still too much, no doubt; we see
misfortunes and horrible crimes; but the pleasure of complaining of and
exaggerating them is so great, that at the least scratch we say that the
earth flows with blood. Have you been deceived?--all men are perjured. A
melancholy mind which has suffered injustice, sees the earth covered
with damned people: as a young rake, supping with his lady, on coming
from the opera, imagines that there are no unfortunates.


Some very subtle Greeks formerly consulted Pope Honorius I., to know
whether Jesus, when He was in the world, had one will or two, when He
would sleep or watch, eat or repair to the water-closet, walk or sit.

"What signifies it to you?" answered the very wise bishop of Rome,
Honorius. "He has certainly at present the will for you to be
well-disposed people--that should satisfy you; He has no will for you to
be babbling sophists, to fight continually for the bishop's mitre and
the ass's shadow. I advise you to live in peace, and not to lose in
useless disputes the time which you might employ in good works."

"Holy father, you have said well; this is the most important affair in
the world. We have already set Europe, Asia, and Africa on fire, to know
whether Jesus had two persons and one nature, or one nature and two
persons, or rather two persons and two natures, or rather one person and
one nature."

"My dear brethren, you have acted wrongly; we should give broth to the
sick and bread to the poor. It is doubtless right to help the poor! but
is not the patriarch Sergius about to decide in a council at
Constantinople, that Jesus had two natures and one will? And the
emperor, who knows nothing about it, is of this opinion."

"Well, be it so! but above all defend yourself from the Mahometans, who
box your ears every day, and who have a very bad will towards you. It is
well said! But behold the bishops of Tunis, Tripoli, Algiers, and
Morocco, all declare firmly for the two wills. We must have an opinion;
what is yours?"

"My opinion is, that you are madmen, who will lose the Christian
religion which we have established with so much trouble. You will do so
much mischief with your folly, that Tunis, Tripoli, Algiers, and
Morocco, of which you speak to me, will become Mahometan, and there will
not be a Christian chapel in Africa. Meantime, I am for the emperor and
the council, until you have another council and another emperor."

"This does not satisfy us. Do you believe in two wills or one?"

"Listen: if these two wills are alike, it is as if there was but one; if
they are contrary, he who has two wills at once will do two contrary
things at once, which is absurd: consequently, I am for a single will."

"Ah, holy father, you are a monothelite! Heresy! the devil!
Excommunicate him! depose him! A council, quick! another council!
another emperor! another bishop of Rome! another patriarch!"

"My God! how mad these poor Greeks are with all their vain and
interminable disputes! My successor will do well to dream of being
powerful and rich."

Scarcely had Honorius uttered these words when he learned that the
emperor Heraclius was dead, after having been beaten by the Mahometans.
His widow, Martina, poisoned her son-in-law; the senate caused Martina's
tongue to be cut out, and the nose of another son of the emperor to be
slit: all the Greek Empire flowed in blood. Would it not be better not
to have disputed on the two wills? And this Pope Honorius, against whom
the Jansenists have written so much--was he not a very sensible man?


A man who had some knowledge of the human heart, was consulted upon a
tragedy which was to be represented; and he answered, there was so much
wit in the piece, that he doubted of its success. What! you will
exclaim, is that a fault, at a time when every one is in search of
wit--when each one writes but to show that he has it--when the public
even applaud the falsest thoughts, if they are brilliant?--Yes,
doubtless, they will applaud the first day, and be wearied the second.

What is called wit, is sometimes a new comparison, sometimes a subtle
allusion; here, it is the abuse of a word, which is presented in one
sense, and left to be understood in another; there, a delicate relation
between two ideas not very common. It is a singular metaphor; it is the
discovery of something in an object which does not at first strike the
observation, but which is really in it; it is the art either of bringing
together two things apparently remote, or of dividing two things which
seem to be united, or of opposing them to each other. It is that of
expressing only one-half of what you think, and leaving the other to be
guessed. In short, I would tell you of all the different ways of showing
wit, if I had more; but all these gems--and I do not here include the
counterfeits--are very rarely suited to a serious work--to one which is
to interest the reader. The reason is, that then the author appears, and
the public desire to see only the hero; for the hero is constantly
either in passion or in danger. Danger and the passions do not go in
search of wit. Priam and Hecuba do not compose epigrams while their
children are butchered in flaming Troy; Dido does not sigh out her soul
in madrigals, while rushing to the pile on which she is about to
immolate herself; Demosthenes makes no display of pretty thoughts while
he is inciting the Athenians to war. If he had, he would be a
rhetorician; whereas he is a statesman.

The art of the admirable Racine is far above what is called wit; but if
Pyrrhus had always expressed himself in this style:

     _Vaincu, chargé de fers, de regrets consumé,_
     _Brûlé de plus de feux que je n'en allumai...._
     _Hélas! fus-je jamais si cruel que vous l'êtes?_

     Conquered and chained, worn out by vain desire,
     Scorched by more flames than I have ever lighted....
     Alas! my cruelty ne'er equalled yours!

--if Orestes had been continually saying that the "Scythians are less
cruel than Hermione," these two personages would excite no emotion at
all; it would be perceived that true passion rarely occupies itself with
such comparisons; and that there is some disproportion between the real
flames by which Troy was consumed and the flames of Pyrrhus'
love--between the Scythians immolating men, and Hermione not loving
Orestes. Cinna says, speaking of Pompey:

     _Le ciel choisit sa mort, pour servir dignement_
     _D'une marque éternelle à ce grand changement;_
     _Et devait cette gloire aux manes d'un tel homme,_
     _D'emporter avec eux la liberté de Rome._

     Heaven chose the death of such a man, to be
     Th' eternal landmark of this mighty change.
     His manes called for no less offering
     Than Roman liberty.

This thought is very brilliant; there is much wit in it, as also an air
of imposing grandeur. I am sure that these lines, pronounced with all
the enthusiasm and art of a great actor, will be applauded; but I am
also sure that the play of "Cinna," had it been written entirely in this
taste, would never have been long played. Why, indeed, was heaven bound
to do Pompey the honor of making the Romans slaves after his death? The
contrary would be truer: the manes of Pompey should rather have
obtained from heaven the everlasting maintenance of that liberty for
which he is supposed to have fought and died.

What, then, would any work be which should be full of such far-fetched
and questionable thoughts? How much superior to all these brilliant
ideas are those simple and natural lines:

     _Cinna, tu t'en souviens, et veux m'assassiner!_
                                  --CINNA, act v, scene i.
     Thou dost remember, Cinna, yet wouldst kill me!

     _Soyons amis, Cinna; c'est moi qui t'en convie._
                                  --ID., act v, scene iii.
     Let us be friends, Cinna; 'tis I who ask it.

True beauty consists, not in what is called wit, but in sublimity and
simplicity. Let Antiochus, in "Rodogune," say of his mistress, who quits
him, after disgracefully proposing to him to kill his mother:

     _Elle fuit, mais en Parthe, en nous perçant le cœur._

     She flies, but, like the Parthian, flying, wounds.

Antiochus has wit; he makes an epigram against Rodogune; he ingeniously
likens her last words in going away, to the arrows which the Parthians
used to discharge in their flight. But it is not because his mistress
goes away, that the proposal to kill his mother is revolting: whether
she goes or stays, the heart of Antiochus is equally wounded. The
epigram, therefore, is false; and if Rodogune did not go away, this bad
epigram could not be retained.

I select these examples expressly from the best authors, in order that
they may be the more striking. I do not lay hold of those puns which
play upon words, the false taste of which is felt by all. There is no
one that does not laugh when, in the tragedy of the "Golden Fleece,"
Hypsipyle says to Medea, alluding to her sorceries:

     _Je n'ai que des attraits, et vous avez des charmes._

     I have attractions only, you have charms.

Corneille found the stage and every other department of literature
infested with these puerilities, into which he rarely fell.

I wish here to speak only of such strokes of wit as would be admitted
elsewhere, and as the serious style rejects. To their authors might be
applied the sentence of Plutarch, translated with the happy naivete of
Amiot: "_Tu tiens sans propos beaucoup de bons propos_."

There occurs to my recollection one of those brilliant passages, which I
have seen quoted as a model in many works of taste, and even in the
treatise on studies by the late M. Rollin. This piece is taken from the
fine funeral oration on the great Turenne, composed by Fléchier. It is
true, that in this oration Fléchier almost equalled the sublime Bossuet,
whom I have called and still call the only eloquent man among so many
elegant writers; but it appears to me that the passage of which I am
speaking would not have been employed by the bishop of Meaux. Here it

"Ye powers hostile to France, you live; and the spirit of Christian
charity forbids me to wish your death.... but you live; and I mourn in
this pulpit over a virtuous leader, whose intentions were pure...."

An apostrophe in this taste would have been suitable to Rome in the
civil war, after the assassination of Pompey; or to London, after the
murder of Charles I.; because the interests of Pompey and Charles I.
were really in question. But is it decent to insinuate in the pulpit a
wish for the death of the emperor, the king of Spain, and the electors,
and put in the balance against them the commander-in-chief employed by a
king who was their enemy? Should the intentions of a leader--which can
only be to serve his prince--be compared with the political interests of
the crowned heads against whom he served? What would be said of a German
who should have wished for the death of the king of France, on the
occasion of the death of General Merci, "whose intentions were pure"?
Why, then, has this passage always been praised by the rhetoricians?
Because the figure is in itself beautiful and pathetic; but they do not
thoroughly investigate the fitness of the thought.

I now return to my paradox; that none of those glittering ornaments, to
which we give the name of wit, should find a place in great works
designed to instruct or to move the passions. I will even say that they
ought to be banished from the opera. Music expresses passions,
sentiments, images; but where are the notes that can render an epigram?
Quinault was sometimes negligent, but he was always natural.

Of all our operas, that which is the most ornamented, or rather the most
overloaded, with this epigrammatic spirit, is the ballet of the "Triumph
of the Arts," composed by an amiable man, who always thought with
subtlety, and expressed himself with delicacy; but who, by the abuse of
this talent, contributed a little to the decline of letters after the
glorious era of Louis XIV. In this ballet, in which Pygmalion animates
his statue, he says to it:

     _Vos premiers mouvemens ont été de m'aimer._

     And love for me your earliest movements showed.

I remember to have heard this line admired by some persons in my youth.
But who does not perceive that the movements of the body of the statue
are here confounded with the movements of the heart, and that in any
sense the phrase is not French--that it is, in fact, a pun, a jest? How
could it be that a man who had so much wit, had not enough to retrench
these egregious faults? This same man--who, despising Homer, translated
him; who, in translating him, thought to correct him, and by abridging
him, thought to make him read--had a mind to make Homer a wit. It is he
who, when Achilles reappears, reconciled to the Greeks who are ready to
avenge him, makes the whole camp exclaim:

     _Que ne vaincra-t-il point? Il s'est vaincu lui-même._

       What shall oppose him, conqueror of himself?

A man must indeed be fond of witticisms, when he makes fifty thousand
men pun all at once upon the same word.

This play of the imagination, these quips, these cranks, these random
shafts, these gayeties, these little broken sentences, these ingenious
familiarities, which it is now the fashion to lavish so profusely, are
befitting no works but those of pure amusement. The front of the Louvre,
by Perrault, is simple and majestic; minute ornaments may appear with
grace in a cabinet. Have as much wit as you will, or as you can, in a
madrigal, in light verses, in a scene of a comedy, when it is to be
neither impassioned nor simple, in a compliment, in a "novellette," or
in a letter, where you assume gayety yourself in order to communicate it
to your friends.

Far from having reproached Voiture with having wit in his letters, I
found, on the contrary, that he had not enough, although he was
constantly seeking it. It is said that dancing-masters make their bow
ill, because they are anxious to make it too well. I thought this was
often the case with Voiture; his best letters are studied; you feel that
he is fatiguing himself to find that which presents itself so naturally
to Count Anthony Hamilton, to Madame de Sévigné, and to so many other
women, who write these trifles without an effort, better than Voiture
wrote them with labor. Despréaux, who in his first satires had ventured
to compare Voiture to Horace, changed his opinion when his taste was
ripened by age. I know that it matters very little, in the affairs of
this world, whether Voiture was or was not a great genius; whether he
wrote only a few pretty letters, or that all his pieces of pleasantry
were models. But we, who cultivate and love the liberal arts, cast an
attentive eye on what is quite indifferent to the rest of the world.
Good taste is to us in literature what it is to women in dress; and
provided that one's opinions shall not be made a party matter, it
appears to me that one may boldly say, that there are but few excellent
things in Voiture, and that Marot might easily be reduced to a few

Not that we wish to take from them their reputation; on the contrary, we
wish to ascertain precisely what that reputation cost them, and what are
the real beauties for which their defects have been tolerated. We must
know what we are to follow, and what we are to avoid; this is the real
fruit of the profound study of the belles-lettres; this is what Horace
did when he examined Lucilius critically. Horace made himself enemies
thereby; but he enlightened his enemies themselves.

This desire of shining and of saying in a novel manner what has been
said by others, is a source of new expressions as well as far-fetched
thoughts. He who cannot shine by thought, seeks to bring himself into
notice by a word. Hence it has at last been thought proper to
substitute "_amabilités_," for "_agrémens_"; "_négligemment_" for "_avec
négligence_"; "_badiner les amours_," for "_badiner avec les amours_."
There are numberless other affectations of this kind; and if this be
continued, the language of Bossuet, of Racine, of Corneille, of Boileau,
of Fénelon, will soon be obsolete. Why avoid an expression which is in
use, to introduce another which says precisely the same thing? A new
word is pardonable only when it is absolutely necessary, intelligible,
and sonorous. In physical science, we are obliged to make them; a new
discovery, a new machine, requires a new word. But do we make any new
discoveries in the human heart? Is there any other greatness than that
of Corneille and Bossuet? Are there any other passions than those which
have been delineated by Racine, and sketched by Quinault? Is there any
other gospel morality than that of Bourdaloue?

They who charge our language with not being sufficiently copious, must
indeed have found sterility somewhere, but it is in themselves. "_Rem
verba sequuntur_." When an idea is forcibly impressed on the mind--when
a clear and vigorous head is in full possession of its thought--it
issues from the brain, arrayed in suitable expressions, as Minerva came
forth in full armor to wait upon Jupiter. In fine, the conclusion from
this is that neither thoughts nor expressions should be far-fetched; and
that the art, in all great works, is to reason well, without entering
into too many arguments; to paint well, without striving to paint
everything; and to be affecting, without striving constantly to excite
passions. Certes, I am here giving fine counsel. Have I taken it myself?
Alas! no!

              _Pauci quos æquus amavit_
     _Jupiter, aut ardens evexit ad æthera virtus,_
     _Dis geniti potuere. _        --ÆNEID, b. vi, v. 129.

     To few great Jupiter imparts this grace,
     And those of shining worth and heavenly race.



The word "spirit," when it signifies "a quality of the mind," is one of
those vague terms to which almost every one who pronounces it attaches a
different sense; it expresses some other thing than judgment, genius,
taste, talent, penetration, comprehensiveness, grace, or subtlety, yet
is akin to all these merits; it might be defined to be "ingenious

It is a generic word, which always needs another word to determine it;
and when we hear it said: "This is a work of spirit," or "He is a man of
spirit," we have very good reason to ask: "Spirit of what?" The sublime
spirit of Corneille is neither the exact spirit of Boileau, nor the
simple spirit of La Fontaine; and the spirit of La Bruyère, which is the
art of portraying singularity, is not that of Malebranche, which is
imaginative and profound.

When a man is said to have "a judicious spirit," the meaning is, not so
much that he has what is called spirit, as that he has an enlightened
reason. A spirit firm, masculine, courageous, great, little, weak,
light, mild, hasty, etc., signifies the character and temper of the
mind, and has no relation to what is understood in society by the
expression "spirited."

Spirit, in the ordinary acceptation of the word, is much akin to wit;
yet does not signify precisely the same thing; for the term, "man of
spirit," can never be taken in a bad sense; but that of "a wit," is
sometimes pronounced ironically.

Whence this difference? It is that "a man of spirit" does not signify
"superior wit," "marked talent"; and "a wit" does. This expression, "man
of spirit," announces no pretensions; but "wit" is a sort of
advertisement; it is an art which requires cultivation; it is a sort of
profession; and thereby exposes to envy and ridicule.

In this sense, Father Bouhours would have been right in giving us to
understand that the Germans had no pretensions to wit; for at that time
their learned men occupied themselves in scarcely any works but those of
labor and painful research, which did not admit of their scattering
flowers, of their striving to shine, and mixing up wit with learning.

They who despise the genius of Aristotle should, instead of contenting
themselves with condemning his physics--which could not be good,
inasmuch as they wanted experiments--be much astonished to find that
Aristotle, in his rhetoric, taught perfectly the art of saying things
with spirit. He states that this art consists in not merely using the
proper word, which says nothing new; but that a metaphor must be
employed--a figure, the sense of which is clear, and its expression
energetic. Of this, he adduces several instances; and, among others,
what Pericles said of a battle in which the flower of the Athenian youth
had perished: "The year has been stripped of its spring."

Aristotle is very right in saying that novelty is necessary. The first
person who, to express that pleasures are mingled with bitterness,
likened them to roses accompanied by thorns, had wit; they who repeated
it had none.

Spirited expression does not always consist in a metaphor; but also in a
new term--in leaving one half of one's thoughts to be easily divined;
this is called "subtleness," "delicacy"; and this manner is the more
pleasing, as it exercises and gives scope for the wit of others.

Allusions, allegories, and comparisons, open a vast field for ingenious
thoughts. The effects of nature, fable, history, presented to the
memory, furnish a happy imagination with materials of which it makes a
suitable use.

It will not be useless to give examples in these different kinds. The
following is a madrigal by M. de la Sablière, which has always been held
in high estimation by people of taste:

       _Églé tremble que, dans ce jour,_
       _L'Hymen, plus puissant que l'Amour,_
     _N'enlève ses trésors, sans quelle ose s'en plaindre_
       _Elle a négligé mes avis;_
       _Si la belle les eût suivis,_
     _Elle n'aurait plus rien à craindre._

     Weeping, murmuring, complaining,
       Lost to every gay delight,
     Mira, too sincere for feigning,
       Fears th' approaching bridal night.

     Yet why impair thy bright perfection,
       Or dim thy beauty with a tear?
     Had Mira followed my direction,
       She long had wanted cause of fear.--GOLDSMITH.

It does not appear that the author could either better have masked, or
better have conveyed, the meaning which he was afraid to express. The
following madrigal seems more brilliant and more pleasing; it is an
allusion to fable:

     _Vous êtes belle, et votre sœur est belle;_
     _Entre vous deux tout choix serait bien doux_
       _L'Amour était blonde comme vous,_
     _Mais il amait une brune comme elle._

     You are a beauty, and your sister, too;
     In choosing 'twixt you, then, we cannot err;
       Love, to be sure, was fair like you;
     But, then, he courted a brunette like her.

There is another, and a very old one. It is by Bertaut, bishop of Séez,
and seems superior to the two former; it unites wit and feeling:

     _Quand je revis ce que j'ai tant aimé,_
     _Pen s'en fallut que mon coeur rallumé_
     _N'en fît le charme en mon âme renaître;_
     _Et que mon cœur, autrefois son captif,_
     _Ne ressemblât l'esclave fugitif,_
     _À qui le sort fit recontrer son maître._

     When I beheld again the once-loved form,
     Again within my heart the rising storm
     Had nearly cast the spell around my soul,
     Which erst had bound me captive at her feet,
     As some poor slave, escaped from rude control,
     His master's dreaded face may haply meet.

Strokes like these please every one, and characterize the delicate
spirit of an ingenious nation. The great point is to know how far this
spirit is admissible. It is clear that, in great works, it should be
employed with moderation, for this very reason, that it is an ornament.
The great art consists in propriety.

A subtle, ingenious thought, a just and flowery comparison, is a defect
when only reason or passion should speak, or when great interests are to
be discussed. This is not false wit, but misplaced; and every beauty,
when out of its place, is a beauty no longer.

This is a fault of which Virgil was never guilty, and with which Tasso
may now and then be charged, admirable as he otherwise is. The cause of
it is that the author, too full of his own ideas, wishes to show
himself, when he should only show his personages.

The best way of learning the use that should be made of wit, is to read
the few good works of genius which are to be found in the learned
languages and in our own. False wit is not the same as misplaced wit. It
is not merely a false thought, for a thought might be false without
being ingenious; it is a thought at once false and elaborate.

It has already been remarked that a man of great wit, who translated, or
rather abridged Homer into French verse, thought to embellish that poet,
whose simplicity forms his character, by loading him with ornaments. On
the subject of the reconciliation of Achilles, he says:

     _Tout le camp s'écria dans une joie extrême,_
     _Que ne vaincra-t-il point? Il s'est vaincu lui-même._

     Cried the whole camp, with overflowing joy--
     What still resist him? He's o'ercome himself.

In the first place it does not at all follow, because one has overcome
one's anger, that one shall not be beaten. Secondly, is it possible that
a whole army should, by some sudden inspiration, make instantaneously
the same pun?

If this fault shocks all judges of severe taste, how revolting must be
all those forced witticisms, those intricate and puzzling thoughts,
which abound in otherwise valuable writings! Is it to be endured, that
in a work of mathematics it should be said: "If Saturn should one day be
missing, his place would be taken by one of the remotest of his
satellites; for great lords always keep their successors at a distance?"
Is it endurable to talk of Hercules being acquainted with physics, and
that it is impossible to resist a philosopher of such force? Such are
the excesses into which we are led by the thirst for shining and
surprising by novelty. This petty vanity has produced verbal witticisms
in all languages, which is the worst species of false wit.

False taste differs from false wit, for the latter is always an
affectation--an effort to do wrong; whereas the former is often a habit
of doing wrong without effort, and following instinctively an
established bad example.

The intemperance and incoherence of the imaginations of the Orientals,
is a false taste; but it is rather a want of wit than an abuse of it.
Stars falling, mountains opening, rivers rolling back, sun and moon
dissolving, false and gigantic similes, continual violence to nature,
are the characteristics of these writers; because in those countries
where there has never been any public speaking, true eloquence cannot
have been cultivated; and because it is much easier to write fustian
than to write that which is just, refined, and delicate.

False wit is precisely the reverse of these trivial and inflated ideas;
it is a tiresome search after subtleties, an affectation of saying
enigmatically what others have said naturally; or bringing together
ideas which appear incompatible; of dividing what ought to be united; of
laying hold on false affinities; of mixing, contrary to decency, the
trifling with the serious, and the petty with the grand.

It were here a superfluous task to string together quotations in which
the word spirit is to be found. We shall content ourselves with
examining one from Boileau, which is given in the great dictionary of
Trévoux: "It is a property of great spirits, when they begin to grow old
and decay, to be pleased with stories and fables." This reflection is
not just. A great spirit may fall into this weakness, but it is no
property of great spirits. Nothing is more calculated to mislead the
young than the quoting of faults of good writers as examples.

We must not here forget to mention in how many different senses the word
"spirit" is employed. This is not a defect of language; on the contrary,
it is an advantage to have roots which ramify into so many branches.

"Spirit of a body," "of a society," is used to express the customs, the
peculiar language and conduct, the prejudices of a body. "Spirit of
party," is to the "spirit of a body," what the passions are to ordinary

"Spirit of a law," is used to designate its intention; in this sense it
has been said: "The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life." "Spirit
of a work," to denote its character and object. "Spirit of revenge," to
signify desire and intention of taking revenge. "Spirit of discord,"
"spirit of revolt," etc.

In one dictionary has been quoted "spirit of politeness"; but from an
author named Bellegarde, who is no authority. Both authors and examples
should be selected with scrupulous caution. We cannot say "spirit of
politeness," as we say "spirit of revenge," of "dissension," of
"faction"; for politeness is not a passion animated by a powerful motive
which prompts it, and which is metaphorically called spirit.

"Familiar spirit," is used in another sense, and signifies those
intermediate beings, those genii, those demons, believed in by the
ancients; as the "spirit of Socrates," etc.

Spirit sometimes denotes the more subtle part of matter; we say,
"animal spirits," "vital spirits," to signify that which has never been
seen, but which gives motion and life. These spirits, which are thought
to flow rapidly through the nerves, are probably a subtile fire. Dr.
Mead is the first who seems to have given proofs of this, in his
treatise on poisons. Spirit, in chemistry, too, is a term which receives
various acceptations, but always denotes the more subtile part of



Is not this word a striking proof of the imperfection of languages; of
the chaos in which they still are, and the chance which has directed
almost all our conceptions? It pleased the Greeks, as well as other
nations, to give the name of wind, breath--"_pneuma_"--to that which
they vaguely understand by respiration, life, soul. So that, among the
ancients, soul and wind were, in one sense, the same thing; and if we
were to say that man is a pneumatic machine, we should only translate
the language of the Greeks. The Latins imitated them, and used the word
"_spiritus_," spirit, breath. "_Anima_" and "_spiritus_" were the same

The "_rouhak_" of the Phœnicians, and, as it is said, of the
Chaldæans likewise, signified breath and wind. When the Bible was
translated into Latin, the words, breath, spirit, wind, soul, were
always used differently. "_Spiritus Dei ferebatur super aquas_"--the
breath of God--the spirit of God--was borne on the waters.

"_Spiritus vitæ_"--the breath of life--the soul of life. "_Inspiravit in
faciem ejus spiraculum_" or "_spiritum vitæ_"--And he breathed upon his
face the breath of life; and, according to the Hebrew, he breathed into
his nostrils the breath, the spirit, of life.

"_Hæc quum dixisset, insufflavit et dixit eis, accipite spiritum
sanctum_"--Having spoken these words, he breathed on them, and said:
Receive ye the holy breath--the holy spirit.

"_Spiritus ubi vult spirat, et vocem ejus audis; sed nescis unde
veniat_"--The spirit, the wind, breathes where it will, and thou hearest
its voice (sound); but thou knowest not whence it comes.

The distance is somewhat considerable between this and our pamphlets of
the Quay des Augustins and the Pont-neuf, entitled, "Spirit of
Marivaux," "Spirit of Desfontaines," etc.

What we commonly understand in French by "_esprit_," "_bel-esprit_,"
"_trait d'esprit_," are--ingenious thoughts. No other nation has made
the same use of the word "_spiritus_." The Latins said "_ingenium_"; the
Greeks, "_eupheuia_"; or they employed adjectives. The Spaniards say
"_agudo_," "_agudeza_." The Italians commonly use the term "_ingegno_."

The English make use of the words "wit," "witty," the etymology of which
is good; for "witty" formerly signified "wise." The Germans say
"_verständig_"; and when they mean to express ingenious, lively,
agreeable thoughts, they say "rich in sensations"--"_sinnreich_." Hence
it is that the English, who have retained many of the expressions of the
ancient Germanic and French tongue, say, "sensible man." Thus almost all
the words that express ideas of the understanding are metaphors.

"_Ingegno_," "_ingenium_," comes from "that which generates";
"_agudeza_," from "that which is pointed"; "_sinnreich_," from
"sensations"; "spirit," from "wind"; and "wit," from "wisdom."

In every language, the word that answers to spirit in general is of
several kinds; and when you are told that such a one is a "man of
spirit," you have a right to ask: Of what spirit?

Girard, in his useful book of definitions, entitled "French Synonymes,"
thus concludes: "In our intercourse with women, it is necessary to have
wit, or a jargon which has the appearance of it. (This is not doing them
honor; they deserve better.) Understanding is in demand with politicians
and courtiers." It seems to me that understanding is necessary
everywhere, and that it is very extraordinary to hear of understanding
in demand.

"Genius is proper with people of project and expense." Either I am
mistaken, or the genius of Corneille was made for all spectators--the
genius of Bossuet for all auditors--yet more than for people of

The wind, which answers to "_Spiritus_,"--spirit, wind,
breath--necessarily giving to all nations the idea of air, they all
supposed that our faculty of thinking and acting--that which animates
us--is air; whence our "souls are a subtile air." Hence, manes, spirits,
ghosts, shades, are composed of air.

Hence we used to say, not long ago, "A 'spirit' has appeared to him; he
has a 'familiar spirit;' that castle is haunted by 'spirits;'" and the
populace say so still.

The word "_spiritus_" has hardly ever been used in this sense, except in
the translations of the Hebrew books into bad Latin.

"_Manes_," "_umbra_," "_simulacra_," are the expressions of Cicero and
Virgil. The Germans say, "_geist_"; the English, "ghost"; the Spaniards,
"_duende_," "_trasgo_"; the Italians appear to have no term signifying
ghost. The French alone have made use of the word "spirit" (esprit). The
words for all nations should be, "phantom," "imagination," "reverie,"
"folly," "knavery."



When a nation is beginning to emerge from barbarism, it strives to show
what we call wit. Thus, in the first attempts made in the time of
Francis I., we find in Marot such puns, plays on words, as would now be

     _Remorentin la parte rememore:_
     _Cognac s'en cogne en sa poitrine blême,_
     _Anjou faict jou, Angoulême est de même._

These fine ideas are not such as at once present themselves to express
the grief of nations. Many instances of this depraved taste might be
adduced; but we shall content ourselves with this, which is the most
striking of all.

In the second era of the human mind in France--in the time of Balzac,
Mairet, Rotrou, Corneille--applause was given to every thought that
surprised by new images, which were called "wit." These lines of the
tragedy of "Pyramus" were very well received:

     _Ah! voici le poignard qui du sang de son maître_
     _Sest souillé lâchement; il en rougit, le traître!_

     Behold the dagger which has basely drunk
     Its master's blood! See how the traitor blushes!

There was thought to be great art in giving feeling to this dagger, in
making it red with shame at being stained with the blood of Pyramus, as
much as with the blood itself. No one exclaimed against Corneille, when,
in his tragedy of "Andromeda," Phineus says to the sun:

     _Tu luis, soleil, et ta lumière_
       _Semble se plaire à m'affliger._
     _Ah! mon amour te va bien obliger_
       _À quitter soudain ta carrière._
     _Viens, soleil, viens voir la beauté,_
     _Dont le divin éclat me dompte,_
       _Et tu fuiras de honte_
       _D'avoir moins de clarté._

     O sun, thou shinest, and thy light
       Seems to take pleasure in my woe;
     But soon my love shall shame thee quite,
       And be thy glory's overthrow.
     Come, come, O sun, and view the face
     Whose heavenly splendor I adore;
       Then wilt thou flee apace,
       And show thy own no more.

The sun flying because he is not so bright as Andromeda's face, is not
at all inferior to the blushing dagger. If such foolish sallies as these
found favor with a public whose taste it has been so difficult to form,
we cannot be surprised that strokes of wit, in which some glimmering of
beauty is discernible, should have had these charms.

Not only was this translation from the Spanish admired:

     _Ce sang qui, tout versé, fume encor de courroux,_
     _De se voir répandu pour d'autres que pour vous._
                                  --CID, act ii, sc. 9.

     This blood, still foaming with indignant rage,
     That it was shed for others, not for you;--

not only was there thought to be a very spirited refinement in the line
of Hypsipyle to Medea, in the "Golden Fleece": "I have attractions only;
you have charms;" but it was not perceived--and few connoisseurs
perceive it yet--that in the imposing part of Cornelia, the author
almost continually puts wit where grief alone was required. This woman,
whose husband has just been assassinated, begins her studied speech to
Cæsar with a "for":

     _César, car le destin que dans tes fers je brave_
     _M'a fait ta prisonnière, et non pas ton esclave;_
     _Et tu ne prétends pas qu'il m'abatte le cœur._
     _Jusqu'à te rendre hommage et te nommer seigneur._
                        --MORT DE POMPÉE, act iii, sc. 4.

     For the hard fate that binds me in thy chains,
     Makes me thy prisoner, but not thy slave;
     Nor wouldst thou have it so subdue my heart
     That I should call thee lord and do thee homage.

Thus she breaks off, at the very first word, in order to say that
which is at once far-fetched and false. Never was the wife of one Roman
citizen the slave of another Roman citizen: never was any Roman called
lord; and this word "lord" is, with us, nothing more than a term of
honor and ceremony, used on the stage.

     _Fille de Scipion, et, pour dire encor plus,_
     _Romaine, mon courage est encore au-dessus._--ID.

     Daughter of Scipio, and, yet more, of Rome,
     Still does my courage rise above my fate.

[Illustration: Pierre Corneille.]

Besides the defect so common to all Corneille's heroes, of thus
announcing themselves--of saying, I am great, I am courageous, admire
me--here is the very reprehensible affectation of talking of her birth,
when the head of Pompey has just been presented to Cæsar. Real
affliction expresses itself otherwise. Grief does not seek after a "yet
more." And what is worse, while she is striving to say "yet more," she
says much less. To be a daughter of Rome is indubitably less than to be
daughter of Scipio and wife of Pompey. The infamous Septimius, who
assassinated Pompey, was Roman as well as she. Thousands of Romans were
very ordinary men: but to be daughter and wife to the greatest of
Romans, was a real superiority. In this speech, then, there is false and
misplaced wit, as well as false and misplaced greatness.

She then says, after Lucan, that she ought to blush that she is alive:

     _Je dois rougir, partout, après un tel malheur,_
     _De n'avoir pu mourir d'un excès de douleur._--ID.

     However, after such a great calamity,
     I ought to blush I am not dead of grief.

Lucan, after the brilliant Augustan age, went in search of wit, because
decay was commencing; and the writers of the age of Louis XIV. at first
sought to display wit, because good taste was not then completely found,
as it afterwards was.

     _César, de ta victoire écoute moins le bruit;_
     _Elle n'est que l'effet du malheur qui me suit._--ID.

     Cæsar, rejoice not in thy victory;
     For my misfortune was its only cause.

What a poor artifice! what a false as well as impudent notion! Cæsar
conquered at Pharsalia only because Pompey married Cornelia! What labor
to say that which is neither true, nor likely, nor fit, nor interesting!

     _Deux fois du monde entier j'ai causé la disgrâce._--ID.

     Twice have I caused the living world's disgrace.

This is the "_bis nocui mundo_" of Lucan. This
line presents us with a very great idea; it cannot
fail to surprise; it is wanting in nothing but truth.
But it must be observed, that if this line had but
the smallest ray of verisimilitude--had it really its
birth in the pangs of grief, it would then have all
the truth, all the beauty, of theatrical fitness:

     _Heureuse en mes malheurs, si ce triste hyménée_
     _Pour le bonheur du monde à Rome m'eût donnée_
     _Et si j'eusse avec moi porté dans ta maison._
     _D'un astre envenimé l'invincible poison!_
     _Car enfin n'attends pas que j'abaisse ma haine:_
     _Je te l'ai déjà dit, César, je suis Romaine;_
     _Et, quoique ta captive, un cœur tel que le mien,_
     _De peur de s'oublier, ne te demande rien._--ID.

     Yet happy in my woes, had these sad nuptials
     Given me to Cæsar for the good of Rome;
     Had I but carried with me to thy house
     The mortal venom of a noxious star!
     For think not, after all, my hate is less:
     Already have I told thee I am a Roman;
     And, though thy captive, such a heart as mine,
     Lest it forget itself, will sue for nothing.

This is Lucan again. She wishes, in the "Pharsalia," that she had
married Cæsar.

     _Atque utinam in thalamis invisi Cæsaris essem_
     _Infelix conjux, et nulli læta marito!_
                                    --_Lib._, viii, v. 88, 89.

     Ah! wherefore was I not much rather led
     A fatal bride to Cæsar's hated bed, etc.

This sentiment is not in nature; it is at once gigantic and puerile: but
at least it is not to Cæsar that Cornelia talks thus in Lucan.
Corneille, on the contrary, makes Cornelia speak to Cæsar himself: he
makes her say that she wishes to be his wife, in order that she may
carry into his house "the mortal poison of a noxious star"; for, adds
she, my hatred cannot be abated, and I have told thee already that I am
a Roman, and I sue for nothing. Here is odd reasoning: I would fain have
married thee, to cause thy death; and I sue for nothing. Be it also
observed, that this widow heaps reproaches on Cæsar, just after Cæsar
weeps for the death of Pompey and promises to avenge it.

It is certain, that if the author had not striven to make Cornelia
witty, he would not have been guilty of the faults which, after being so
long applauded, are now perceived. The actresses can scarcely longer
palliate them, by a studied loftiness of demeanor and an imposing
elevation of voice.

The better to feel how much mere wit is below natural sentiment, let us
compare Cornelia with herself, where, in the same tirade, she says
things quite opposite:

     _Je dois toutefois rendre grâce aux dieux_
     _De ce qu'en arrivant je trouve en ces lieux,_
     _Que César y commande, et non pas Ptolemée._
     _Hélas! et sous quel astre, ó ciel, m'as-tu formée,_
     _Si je leur dois des vœux, de ce qu'ils ont permis,_
     _Que je recontre ici mes plus grands ennemis,_
     _Et tombe entre leurs mains, plutôt qu'aux mains d'un prince_
     _Qui doit à mon époux son trône et sa province._--ID.

     Yet have I cause to thank the gracious gods,
     That Cæsar here commands--not Ptolemy.
     Alas! beneath what planet was I formed,
     If I owe thanks for being thus permitted
     Here to encounter my worst enemies
     And fall into their hands, rather than those
     Of him who to my husband owes his throne?

Let us overlook the slight defects of style, and consider how mournful
and becoming is this speech; it goes to the heart: all the rest dazzles
for a moment, and then disgusts. The following natural lines charm all

     _O vous! à ma douleur objet terrible et tendre,_
     _Éternel entretien de haine et de pitié,_
     _Restes de grand Pompée, écoutez sa moitié, etc._

     O dreadful, tender object of my grief,
     Eternal source of pity and of hate,
     Ye relics of great Pompey, hear me now--
     Hear his yet living half.

It is by such comparisons that our taste is formed, and that we learn to
admire nothing but truth in its proper place. In the same tragedy,
Cleopatra thus expresses herself to her confidante, Charmion:

     _Apprends qu'une princesse aimant sa renommée,_
     _Quand elle dit qu'elle aime, est sure d'être aimée;_
     _Et que les plus beaux feux dont son cœur soit épris_
     _N'oseraient l'exposer aux hontes d'un mépris._
                                          --Act ii, sc. 1.

     Know, that a princess jealous of her fame,
     When she owns love, is sure of a return;
     And that the noblest flame her heart can feel,
     Dares not expose her to rejection's shame.

Charmion might answer: Madam, I know not what the noble flame of a
princess is, which dares not expose her to shame; and as for princesses
who never say they are in love, but when they are sure of being loved--I
always enact the part of confidante at the play: and at least twenty
princesses have confessed their noble flames to me, without being at all
sure of the matter, and especially the infanta in "The Cid."

Nay, we may go further: Cæsar--Cæsar himself--addresses Cleopatra, only
to show off double-refined wit:

     _Mais, ô Dieux! ce moment que je vous ai quittée_
     _D'un trouble bien plus grand a mon âme agitée;_
     _Et ces soins importans qui m'arrachaient de vous,_
     _Contre ma grandeur même allumaient mon courroux;_
     _Je lui voulais du mal de m'être si contraire;_
     _Mais je lui pardonnais, au simple souvenir_
     _Du bonheur qu'à ma flamme elle fait obtenir._
     _C'est elle, dont je tiens cette haute espérance,_
     _Qui flatte mes désirs d'une illustre apparence...._
     _C'était, pour acquérir un droit si précieux;_
     _Que combattait partout mon bras ambitieux;_
     _Et dans Pharsale même il a tiré l'épée_
     _Plus pour le conserver que pour vaincre Pompée._
                                         --Act iv, sc. 3.

     But, O the moment that I quitted you,
     A greater trouble came upon my soul;
     And those important cares that snatched me from you
     Against my very greatness moved my ire;
     I hated it for thwarting my desires....
     But I have pardoned it--remembering how
     At last it crowns my passion with success:
     To it I owe the lofty hope which now
     Flatters my view with an illustrious prospect.
     'Twas but to gain this dearest privilege,
     That my ambitious arm was raised in battle;
     Nor did it at Pharsalia draw the sword,
     So much to conquer Pompey, as to keep
     This glorious hope.

Here, then, we have Cæsar hating his greatness for having taken him away
a little while from Cleopatra; but forgiving his greatness when he
remembers that this greatness has procured him the success of his
passion. He has the lofty hope of an illustrious probability; and it was
only to acquire the dear privilege of this illustrious probability, that
his ambitious arm fought the battle of Pharsalia.

It is said that this sort of wit, which it must be confessed is no other
than nonsense, was then the wit of the age. It is an intolerable abuse,
which Molière proscribed in his "_Précieuses Ridicules_."

It was of these defects, too frequent in Corneille, that La Bruyère
said: "I thought, in my early youth, that these passages were clear and
intelligible, to the actors, to the pit, and to the boxes; that their
authors themselves understood them, and that I was wrong in not
understanding them: I am undeceived."


In England, to express that a man has a deal of wit, they say that he
has "great parts." Whence can this phrase, which is now the astonishment
of the French, have come? From themselves. Formerly, we very commonly
used the word "parties" in this sense. "Clelia," "Cassandra," and our
other old romances, are continually telling us of the "parts" of their
heroes and heroines, which parts are their wit. And, indeed, who can
have _all_? Each of us has but his own small portion of intelligence, of
memory, of sagacity, of depth and extent of ideas, of vivacity, and of
subtlety. The word "parts" is that most fitting for a being so limited
as man. The French have let an expression escape from their dictionaries
which the English have laid hold of: the English have more than once
enriched themselves at our expense. Many philosophical writers have been
astonished that, since every one pretends to wit, no one should dare to
boast of possessing it.

"Envy," it has been said, "permits every one to be the panegyrist of his
own probity, but not of his own wit." It allows us to be the apologists
of the one, but not of the other. And why? Because it is very necessary
to pass for an honest man, but not at all necessary to have the
reputation of a man of wit.

The question has been started, whether all men are born with the same
mind, the same disposition for science, and if all depends on their
education, and the circumstances in which they are placed? One
philosopher, who had a right to think himself born with some
superiority, asserted that minds are equal; yet the contrary has always
been evident. Of four hundred children brought up together, under the
same masters and the same discipline, there are scarcely five or six
that make any remarkable progress. A great majority never rise above
mediocrity, and among them there are many shades of distinction. In
short, minds differ still more than faces.


_Crooked or Distorted Intellect._

We have blind, one-eyed, cross-eyed, and squinting people--visions long,
short, clear, confused, weak, or indefatigable. All this is a faithful
image of our understanding; but we know scarcely any _false_ vision:
there are not many men who always take a cock for a horse, or a
coffeepot for a church. How is it that we often meet with minds,
otherwise judicious, which are absolutely wrong in some things of
importance? How is it that the Siamese, who will take care never to be
overreached when he has to receive three rupees, firmly believes in the
metamorphoses of Sammonocodom? By what strange whim do men of sense
resemble Don Quixote, who beheld giants where other men saw nothing but
windmills? Yet was Don Quixote more excusable than the Siamese, who
believes that Sammonocodom came several times upon earth--and the Turk,
who is persuaded that Mahomet put one-half of the moon into his sleeve?
Don Quixote, impressed with the idea that he is to fight with a giant,
may imagine that a giant must have a body as big as a mill, and arms as
long as the sails; but from what supposition can a man of sense set out
to arrive at a conclusion, that half the moon went into a sleeve, and
that a Sammonocodom came down from heaven to fly kites at Siam, to cut
down a forest, and to exhibit sleight-of-hand?

The greatest geniuses may have their minds warped, on a principle which
they have received without examination. Newton was very wrong-headed
when he was commenting on the Apocalypse.

All that certain tyrants of souls desire, is that the men whom they
teach may have their intellects distorted. A fakir brings up a child of
great promise; he employs five or six years in driving it into his head,
that the god Fo appeared to men in the form of a white elephant; and
persuades the child, that if he does not believe in these metamorphoses,
he will be flogged after death for five hundred thousand years. He adds,
that at the end of the world, the enemy of the god Fo will come and
fight against that divinity.

The child studies, and becomes a prodigy; he finds that Fo could not
change himself into anything but a white elephant, because that is the
most beautiful of animals. The kings of Siam and Pegu, say he, went to
war with one another for a white elephant: certainly, had not Fo been
concealed in that elephant, these two kings would not have been so mad
as to fight for the possession of a mere animal.

Fo's enemy will come and challenge him at the end of the world: this
enemy will certainly be a rhinoceros; for the rhinoceros fights the
elephant. Thus does the fakir's learned pupil reason in mature age, and
he becomes one of the lights of the Indies: the more subtle his
intellect, the more crooked; and he, in his turn, forms other intellects
as distorted as his own.

Show these besotted beings a little geometry, and they learn it easily
enough; but, strange to say, this does not set them right. They perceive
the truths of geometry; but it does not teach them to weigh
probabilities: they have taken their bent; they will reason against
reason all their lives; and I am sorry for them.

Unfortunately, there are many ways of being wrong-headed, 1. Not to
examine whether the principle is true, even when just consequences are
drawn from it; and this is very common.

2. To draw false consequences from a principle acknowledged to be true.
For instance: a servant is asked whether his master be at home, by
persons whom he suspects of having a design against his master's life.
If he were blockhead enough to tell them the truth, on pretence that it
is wrong to tell a lie, it is clear that he would draw an absurd
consequence from a very true principle.

The judge who should condemn a man for killing his assassin, would be
alike iniquitous, and a bad reasoner. Cases like these are subdivided
into a thousand different shades. The good mind, the judicious mind, is
that which distinguishes them. Hence it is, that there have been so many
iniquitous judgments; not because the judges were wicked in heart, but
because they were not sufficiently enlightened.


_Physical and Moral._

Woman is in general less strong than man, smaller, and less capable of
lasting labor. Her blood is more aqueous; her flesh less firm; her hair
longer; her limbs more rounded; her arms less muscular; her mouth
smaller; her hips more prominent; and her belly larger. These physical
points distinguish women all over the earth, and of all races, from
Lapland unto the coast of Guinea, and from America to China.

Plutarch, in the third book of his "_Symposiacs_," pretends that wine
will not intoxicate them so easily as men; and the following is the
reason which he gives for this falsehood:

"The temperament of women is very moist; this, with their courses,
renders their flesh so soft, smooth, and clear. When wine encounters so
much humidity, it is overcome, and it loses its color and its strength,
becoming discolored and weak. Something also may be gathered from the
reasoning of Aristotle, who observes, that they who drink great draughts
without drawing their breath, which the ancients call '_amusisein_' are
not intoxicated so soon as others; because the wine does not remain
within the body, but being forcibly taken down, passes rapidly off. Now
we generally perceive that women drink in this manner; and it is
probable that their bodies, in consequence of the continual attraction
of the humors, which are carried off in their periodical visitations,
are filled with many conduits, and furnished with numerous pipes and
channels, into which the wine disperses rapidly and easily, without
having time to affect the noble and principal parts, by the disorder of
which intoxication is produced." These physics are altogether worthy of
the ancients.

Women live somewhat longer than men; that is to say, in a generation we
count more aged women than aged men. This fact has been observed by all
who have taken accurate accounts of births and deaths in Europe; and it
is thought that it is the same in Asia, and among the negresses, the
copper-colored, and olive-complexioned, as among the white. _"Natura est
semper sibi consona."_

We have elsewhere adverted to an extract from a Chinese journal, which
states, that in the year 1725, the wife of the emperor Yontchin made a
distribution among the poor women of China who had passed their
seventieth year; and that, in the province of Canton alone, there were
98,222 females aged more than seventy, 40,893 beyond eighty, and 3,453
of about the age of a hundred. Those who advocate final causes say, that
nature grants them a longer life than men, in order to recompense them
for the trouble they take in bringing children into the world and
rearing them. It is scarcely to be imagined that nature bestows
recompenses, but it is probable that the blood of women being milder,
their fibres harden less quickly.

No anatomist or physician has ever been able to trace the secret of
conception. Sanchez has curiously remarked: _"Mariam et spiritum sanctum
emisisse semen in copulatione, et ex semine amborum natum esse Jesum."_
This abominable impertinence of the most knowing Sanchez is not adopted
at present by any naturalist.

The periodical visitations which weaken females, while they endure the
maladies which arise out of their suppression, the times of gestation,
the necessity of suckling children, and of watching continually over
them, and the delicacy of their organization, render them unfit for the
fatigue of war, and the fury of the combat. It is true, as we have
already observed, that in almost all times and countries women have been
found on whom nature has bestowed extraordinary strength and courage,
who combat with men, and undergo prodigious labor; but, after all, these
examples are rare. On this point we refer to the article on "Amazons."

Physics always govern morals. Women being weaker of body than we are,
there is more skill in their fingers, which are more supple than ours.
Little able to labor at the heavy work of masonry, carpentering,
metalling, or the plough, they are necessarily intrusted with the
lighter labors of the interior of the house, and, above all, with the
care of children. Leading a more sedentary life, they possess more
gentleness of character than men, and are less addicted to the
commission of enormous crimes--a fact so undeniable, that in all
civilized countries there are always fifty men at least executed to one

Montesquieu, in his "Spirit of Laws," undertaking to speak of the
condition of women under divers governments, observes that "among the
Greeks women were not regarded as worthy of having any share in genuine
love; but that with them love assumed a form which is not to be named."
He cites Plutarch as his authority.

This mistake is pardonable only in a wit like Montesquieu, always led
away by the rapidity of his ideas, which are often very indistinct.
Plutarch, in his chapter on love, introduces many interlocutors; and he
himself, in the character of Daphneus, refutes, with great animation,
the arguments of Protagenes in favor of the commerce alluded to.

It is in the same dialogue that he goes so far as to say, that in the
love of woman there is something divine; which love he compares to the
sun, that animates nature. He places the highest happiness in conjugal
love, and concludes by an eloquent eulogium on the virtue of Epponina.
This memorable adventure passed before the eyes of Plutarch, who lived
some time in the house of Vespasian. The above heroine, learning that
her husband Sabinus, vanquished by the troops of the emperor, was
concealed in a deep cavern between Franche-Comté and Champagne, shut
herself up with him, attended on him for many years, and bore children
in that situation. Being at length taken with her husband, and brought
before Vespasian, who was astonished at her greatness of soul, she said
to him: "I have lived more happily under ground than thou in the light
of the sun, and in the enjoyment of power." Plutarch therefore asserts
directly the contrary to that which is attributed to him by Montesquieu,
and declares in favor of woman with an enthusiasm which is even

It is not astonishing, that in every country man has rendered himself
the master of woman, dominion being founded on strength. He has
ordinarily, too, a superiority both in body and mind. Very learned women
are to be found in the same manner as female warriors, but they are
seldom or ever inventors.

A social and agreeable spirit usually falls to their lot; and, generally
speaking, they are adapted to soften the manners of men. In no republic
have they ever been allowed to take the least part in government; they
have never reigned in monarchies purely elective; but they may reign in
almost all the hereditary kingdoms of Europe--in Spain, Naples, and
England, in many states of the North, and in many grand fiefs which are
called "feminines."

Custom, entitled the Salic law, has excluded them from the crown of
France; but it is not, as Mézeray remarks, in consequence of their
unfitness for governing, since they are almost always intrusted with the

It is pretended, that Cardinal Mazarin confessed that many women were
worthy of governing a kingdom; but he added, that it was always to be
feared they would allow themselves to be subdued by lovers who were not
capable of governing a dozen pullets. Isabella in Castile, Elizabeth in
England, and Maria Theresa in Hungary, have, however, proved the falsity
of this pretended bon-mot, attributed to Cardinal Mazarin; and at this
moment we behold a legislatrix in the North as much respected as the
sovereign of Greece, of Asia Minor, of Syria, and of Egypt, is

It has been for a long time ignorantly assumed, that women are slaves
during life among the Mahometans; and that, after their death, they do
not enter paradise. These are two great errors, of a kind which popes
are continually repeating in regard to Mahometanism. Married women are
not at all slaves; and the Sura, or fourth chapter of the Koran, assigns
them a dowry. A girl is entitled to inherit one-half as much as her
brother; and if there are girls only, they divide among them two-thirds
of the inheritance; and the remainder belongs to the relations of the
deceased, whose mother also is entitled to a certain share. So little
are married women slaves, they are entitled to demand a divorce, which
is granted when their complaints are deemed lawful.

A Mahometan is not allowed to marry his sister-in-law, his niece, his
foster-sister, or his daughter-in-law brought up under the care of his
wife. Neither is he permitted to marry two sisters; in which particular
the Mahometan law is more rigid than the Christian, as people are every
day purchasing from the court of Rome the right of contracting such
marriages, which they might as well contract gratis.


Mahomet has limited the number of wives to four; but as a man must be
rich in order to maintain four wives, according to his condition, few
except great lords avail themselves of this privilege. Therefore, a
plurality of wives produces not so much injury to the Mahometan states
as we are in the habit of supposing; nor does it produce the
depopulation which so many books, written at random, are in the habit of

The Jews, agreeable to an ancient usage, established, according to their
books, ever since the age of Lameth, have always been allowed several
wives at a time. David had eighteen; and it is from his time that they
allow that number to kings; although it is said that Solomon had as
many as seven hundred.

The Mahometans will not publicly allow the Jews to have more than one
wife; they do not deem them worthy of that advantage; but money, which
is always more powerful than law, procures to rich Jews, in Asia and
Africa, that permission which the law refuses.

It is seriously related, that Lelius Cinna, tribune of the people,
proclaimed, after the death of Cæsar, that the dictator had intended to
promulgate a law allowing women to take as many husbands as they
pleased. What sensible man can doubt, that this was a popular story
invented to render Cæsar odious? It resembles another story, which
states that a senator in full senate formally professed to give Cæsar
permission to cohabit with any woman he pleased. Such silly tales
dishonor history, and injure the minds of those who credit them. It is a
sad thing, that Montesquieu should give credit to this fable.

It is not, however, a fable that the emperor Valentinian, calling
himself a Christian, married Justinian during the life of Severa, his
first wife, mother of the emperor Gratian; but he was rich enough to
support many wives.

Among the first race of the kings of the Franks, Gontran, Cherebert,
Sigebert, and Chilperic, had several wives at a time. Gontran had within
his palace Venerande, Mercatrude, and Ostregilda, acknowledged for
legitimate wives; Cherebert had Merflida, Marcovesa, and Theodogilda.

It is difficult to conceive how the ex-Jesuit Nonnotte has been able, in
his ignorance, to push his boldness so far as to deny these facts, and
to say that the kings of the first race were not polygamists, and
thereby, in a libel in two volumes, throw discredit on more than a
hundred historical truths, with the confidence of a pedant who dictates
lessons in a college. Books of this kind still continue to be sold in
the provinces, where the Jesuits have yet a party, and seduce and
mislead uneducated people.

Father Daniel, more learned and judicious, confesses the polygamy of the
French kings without difficulty. He denies not the three wives of
Dagobert I., and asserts expressly that Theodoret espoused Deutery,
although she had a husband, and himself another wife called Visigalde.
He adds, that in this he imitated his uncle Clothaire, who espoused the
widow of Cleodomir, his brother, although he had three wives already.

All historians admit the same thing; why, therefore, after so many
testimonies, allow an ignorant writer to speak like a dictator, and say,
while uttering a thousand follies, that it is in defence of religion? as
if our sacred and venerable religion had anything to do with an
historical point, although made serviceable by miserable calumniators to
their stupid impostures.

_Of the Polygamy Allowed by Certain Popes and Reformers._

The Abbé Fleury, author of the "Ecclesiastical History," pays more
respect to truth in all which concerns the laws and usages of the
Church. He avows that Boniface, confessor of Lower Germany, having
consulted Pope Gregory, in the year 726, in order to know in what cases
a husband might be allowed to have two wives, Gregory replied to him, on
the 22nd of November, of the same year, in these words: "If a wife be
attacked by a malady which renders her unfit for conjugal intercourse,
the husband may marry another; but in that case he must allow his sick
wife all necessary support and assistance." This decision appears
conformable to reason and policy; and favors population, which is the
object of marriage.

But that which appears opposed at once to reason, policy, and nature, is
the law which ordains that a woman, separated from her husband both in
person and estate, cannot take another husband, nor the husband another
wife. It is evident that a race is thereby lost; and if the separated
parties are both of a certain temperament, they are necessarily exposed
and rendered liable to sins for which the legislators ought to be
responsible to God, if--

The decretals of the popes have not always had in view what was suitable
to the good of estates, and of individuals. This same decretal of Pope
Gregory II., which permits bigamy in certain cases, denies conjugal
rights forever to the boys and girls, whom their parents have devoted to
the Church in their infancy. This law seems as barbarous as it is
unjust; at once annihilating posterity, and forcing the will of men
before they even possess a will. It is rendering the children the slaves
of a vow which they never made; it is to destroy natural liberty, and to
offend God and mankind.

The polygamy of Philip, landgrave of Hesse, in the Lutheran community,
in 1539, is well known. I knew a sovereign in Germany, who, after having
married a Lutheran, had permission from the pope to marry a Catholic,
and retained both his wives.

It is well known in England, that the chancellor Cowper married two
wives, who lived together in the same house in a state of concord which
did honor to all three. Many of the curious still possess the little
book which he composed in favor of polygamy.

We must distrust authors who relate, that in certain countries women are
allowed several husbands. Those who make laws everywhere are born with
too much self-love, are too jealous of their authority, and generally
possess a temperament too ardent in comparison with that of women, to
have instituted a jurisprudence of this nature. That which is opposed to
the general course of nature is very rarely true; but it is very common
for the more early travellers to mistake an abuse for a law.

The author of the "Spirit of Laws" asserts, that in the caste of Nairs,
on the coast of Malabar, a man can have only one wife, while a woman may
have several husbands. He cites doubtful authors, and above all Picard;
but it is impossible to speak of strange customs without having long
witnessed them; and if they are mentioned, it ought to be doubtingly;
but what lively spirit knows how to doubt?

"The lubricity of women," he observes, "is so great at Patan, the men
are constrained to adopt certain garniture, in order to be safe against
their amorous enterprises."

The president Montesquieu was never at Patan. Is not the remark of M.
Linguet judicious, who observes, that this story has been told by
travellers who were either deceived themselves, or who wished to laugh
at their readers? Let us be just, love truth, and judge by facts, not by

_End of the Reflections on Polygamy._

It appears that power, rather than agreement, makes laws everywhere, but
especially in the East. We there beheld the first slaves, the first
eunuchs, and the treasury of the prince directly composed of that which
is taken from the people.

He who can clothe, support, and amuse a number of women, shuts them up
in a menagerie, and commands them despotically. Ben Aboul Kiba, in his
"Mirror of the Faithful," relates that one of the viziers of the great
Solyman addressed the following discourse to an agent of Charles V.:

"Dog of a Christian!--for whom, however, I have a particular
esteem--canst thou reproach me with possessing four wives, according to
our holy laws, whilst thou emptiest a dozen barrels a year, and I drink
not a single glass of wine? What good dost thou effect by passing more
hours at table than I do in bed? I may get four children a year for the
service of my august master, whilst thou canst scarcely produce one, and
that only the child of a drunkard, whose brain will be obscured by the
vapors of the wine which has been drunk by his father. What, moreover,
wouldst thou have me do, when two of my wives are in child-bed? Must I
not attend to the other two, as my law commands me? What becomes of
them? what part dost thou perform, in the latter months of the pregnancy
of thy only wife, and during her lyings-in and sexual maladies? Thou
either remainest idle, or thou repairest to another woman. Behold
thyself between two mortal sins, which will infallibly cause thee to
fall headlong from the narrow bridge into the pit of hell.

"I will suppose, that in our wars against the dogs of Christians we lose
a hundred thousand soldiers; behold a hundred thousand girls to provide
for. Is it not for the wealthy to take care of them? Evil betide every
Mussulman so cold-hearted as not to give shelter to four pretty girls,
in the character of legitimate wives, or to treat them according to
their merits!

"What is done in thy country by the trumpeter of day, which thou callest
the cock; the honest ram, the leader of the flock; the bull, sovereign
of the heifers; has not every one of them his seraglio? It becomes thee,
truly, to reproach me with my four wives, whilst our great prophet had
eighteen, the Jew David, as many, and the Jew Solomon, seven hundred,
all told, with three hundred concubines! Thou perceivest that I am
modest. Cease, then, to reproach a sage with luxury, who is content with
so moderate a repast. I permit thee to drink; allow me to love. Thou
changest thy wines; permit me to change my females. Let every one suffer
others to live according to the customs of their country. Thy hat was
not made to give laws to my turban; thy ruff and thy curtailed doublets
are not to command my doliman. Make an end of thy coffee, and go and
caress thy German spouse, since thou art allowed to have no other."

_Reply of the German._

"Dog of a Mussulman! for whom I retain a profound veneration; before I
finish my coffee I will confute all thy arguments. He who possesses four
wives, possesses four harpies, always ready to calumniate, to annoy, and
to fight one another. Thy house is the den of discord, and none of them
can love thee. Each has only a quarter of thy person, and in return can
bestow only a quarter of her heart. None of them can serve to render thy
life agreeable; they are prisoners who, never having seen anything, have
nothing to say; and, knowing only thee, are in consequence thy enemies.
Thou art their absolute master; they therefore hate thee. Thou art
obliged to guard them with eunuchs, who whip them when they are too
happy. Thou pretendest to compare thyself to a cock, but a cock never
has his pullets whipped by a capon. Take animals for thy examples, and
copy them as much as thou pleasest; for my part, I love like a man; I
would give all my heart, and receive an entire heart in return. I will
give an account of this conversation to my wife to-night, and I hope she
will be satisfied. As to the wine with which thou reproachest me, if it
is an evil to drink it in Arabia, it is a very praiseworthy habit in


Bayle has made the article "Xenophanes" a pretext for making a panegyric
on the devil; as Simonides, formerly, seized the occasion of a wrestler
winning the prize of boxing in the Olympic games, to form a fine ode in
praise of Castor and Pollux. But, at the bottom, of what consequence to
us are the reveries of Xenophanes? What do we gain by knowing that he
regarded nature as an infinite being, immovable, composed of an infinite
number of small corpuscles, soft little mounds, and small organic
molecules? That he, moreover, thought pretty nearly as Spinoza has since
thought? or rather endeavored to think, for he contradicts himself
frequently--a thing very common to ancient philosophers.

If Anaximenes taught that the atmosphere was God; if Thales attributed
to water the foundation of all things, because Egypt was rendered
fertile by inundation; if Pherecides and Heraclitus give to fire all
which Thales attributes to water--to what purpose return to these
chimerical reveries?

I wish that Pythagoras had expressed, by numbers, certain relations,
very insufficiently understood, by which he infers, that the world was
built by the rules of arithmetic. I allow, that Ocellus Lucanus and
Empedocles have arranged everything by moving antagonist forces, but
what shall I gather from it? What clear notion will it convey to my
feeble mind?

Come, divine Plato! with your archetypal ideas, your androgynes, and
your word; establish all these fine things in poetical prose, in your
new republic, in which I no more aspire to have a house, than in the
Salentum of Telemachus; but in lieu of becoming one of your citizens, I
will send you an order to build your town with all the subtle manner of
Descartes, all his globular and diffusive matter; and they shall be
brought to you by Cyrano de Bergerac.

Bayle, however, has exercised all the sagacity of his logic on these
ancient fancies; but it is always by rendering them ridiculous that he
instructs and entertains.

O philosophers! Physical experiments, ably conducted, arts and
handicraft--these are the true philosophy. My sage is the conductor of
my windmill, which dexterously catches the wind, and receives my corn,
deposits it in the hopper, and grinds it equally, for the nourishment of
myself and family. My sage is he who, with his shuttle, covers my walls
with pictures of linen or of silk, brilliant with the finest colors; or
he who puts into my pocket a chronometer of silver or of gold. My sage
is the investigator of natural history. We learn more from the single
experiments of the Abbé Nollet than from all the philosophical works of



If Xenophon had no other merit than that of being the friend of the
martyr Socrates, he would be interesting; but he was a warrior,
philosopher, poet, historian, agriculturist, and amiable in society.
There were many Greeks who united these qualities.

But why had this free man a Greek company in the pay of the young
Chosroes, named Cyrus by the Greeks? This Cyrus was the younger brother
and subject of the emperor of Persia, Artaxerxes Mnemon, of whom it was
said that he never forgot anything but injuries. Cyrus had already
attempted to assassinate his brother, even in the temple in which the
ceremony of his consecration took place--for the kings of Persia were
the first who were consecrated. Artaxerxes had not only the clemency to
pardon this villain, but he had the weakness to allow him the absolute
government of a great part of Asia Minor, which he held from their
father, and of which he at least deserved to be despoiled.

As a return for such surprising mercy, as soon as he could excite his
satrapy to revolt against his brother, Cyrus added this second crime to
the first. He declared by a manifesto, "that he was more worthy of the
throne of Persia than his brother, because he was a better magus, and
drank more wine." I do not believe that these were the reasons which
gained him the Greeks as allies. He took thirteen thousand into his pay,
among whom was the young Xenophon, who was then only an adventurer. Each
soldier had a daric a month for pay. The daric is equal to about a
guinea or a louis d'or of our time, as the Chevalier de Jaucourt very
well observes, and not ten francs, as Rollin says.

When Cyrus proposed to march them with his other troops to fight his
brother towards the Euphrates, they demanded a daric and a half, which
he was obliged to grant them. This was thirty-six livres a month, and
consequently the highest pay which was ever given. The soldiers of
Cæsar and Pompey had but twenty sous per day in the civil wars. Besides
this exorbitant pay, of which they obliged him to pay four months in
advance, Cyrus furnished them four hundred chariots, laden with wine and

The Greeks were then precisely what the Swiss are at present, who hire
their service and courage to neighboring princes, but for a pay three
times less than was that of the Greeks. It is evident, though they say
the contrary, that they did not inform themselves whether the cause for
which they fought was just; it was sufficient that Cyrus paid well.

The greatest part of these troops was composed of Lacedæmonians, by
which they violated their solemn treaties with the king of Persia. What
was become of the ancient aversion of the Spartans for gold and silver?
Where was their sincerity in treaties? Where was their high and
incorruptible virtue? Clearchus, a Spartan, commanded the principal body
of these brave mercenaries.

I understand not the military manoeuvres of Artaxerxes and Cyrus; I see
not why Artaxerxes, who came to his enemy with twelve hundred thousand
soldiers, should begin by causing lines of twelve leagues in extent to
be drawn between Cyrus and himself; and I comprehend nothing of the
order of battle. I understand still less how Cyrus, followed only by six
hundred horse, broke into the midst of six thousand horse-guards of the
emperor, followed by an innumerable army. Finally, he was killed by the
hand of Artaxerxes, who, having apparently drunk less wine than the
rebel, fought with more coolness and address than this drunkard. It is
clear that he completely gained the battle, notwithstanding the valor
and resistance of thirteen thousand Greeks--since Greek vanity is
obliged to confess that Artaxerxes told them to put down their arms.
They replied that they would do nothing of the kind; but that if the
emperor would pay them they would enter his service. It was very
indifferent to them for whom they fought, so long as they were paid; in
fact, they were only hired murderers.

Besides the Swiss, there are some provinces of Germany which follow this
custom. It signifies not to these good Christians whether they are paid
to kill English, French, or Dutch, or to be killed by them. You see them
say their prayers, and go to the carnage like laborers to their
workshop. As to myself, I confess I would rather observe those who go
into Pennsylvania, to cultivate the land with the simple and equitable
Quakers, and form colonies in the retreat of peace and industry. There
is no great skill in killing and being killed for six sous per day, but
there is much in causing the republic of Dunkers to flourish--these new
Therapeutæ on the frontier of a country the most savage.

Artaxerxes regarded the Greeks only as accomplices in the revolt of his
brother, and indeed they were nothing else. He betrayed himself to be
betrayed by them, and he betrayed them, as Xenophon pretends; for after
one of his captains had sworn in his name to allow them a free retreat,
and to furnish them with food, after Clearchus and five other commanders
of the Greeks were put into his hands, to regulate the march, he caused
their heads to be cut off, and slew all the Greeks who accompanied them
in this interview, if we may trust Xenophon's account.

This royal act shows us that Machiavellism is not new; but is it true
that Artaxerxes promised not to make an example of the chief mercenaries
who sold themselves to his brother? Was it not permitted him to punish
those whom he thought so guilty? It is here that the famous retreat of
the ten thousand commences. If I comprehend nothing of the battle, I
understand no more of the retreat.

The emperor, before he cut off the heads of six Greek generals and their
suite, had sworn to allow the little army, reduced to ten thousand men,
to return to Greece. The battle was fought on the road to the Euphrates;
he must therefore have caused the Greeks to return by Western
Mesopotamia, Syria, Asia Minor, and Ionia. Not at all; they were made to
pass by the East; they were obliged to traverse the Tigris in boats
which were furnished to them; they returned afterwards by the Armenian
roads, while their commanders were punished. If any person comprehends
this march, in which they turn their backs on Greece, they will oblige
me much by explaining it to me.

One of two things: either the Greeks chose their route themselves--and
in this case they neither knew where they went, or what they wished--or
Artaxerxes made them march against their will--which is much more
probable--and in this case, why did he not exterminate them?

We may extricate ourselves from these difficulties, by supposing that
the Persian emperor only half revenged himself; that he contented
himself with punishing the principal mercenary chiefs who sold the Greek
troops to Cyrus; that having made a treaty with the fugitive troops, he
would not descend to the meanness of violating it; that being sure that
a third of these wandering Greeks would perish on the road, he abandoned
them to their fate. I see no other manner of enlightening the mind of
the reader on the obscurities of this march.

We are astonished at the retreat of the ten thousand; but we should be
much more so, if Artaxerxes, a conqueror, at the head of a hundred
thousand men--at least it is said so--had allowed ten thousand fugitives
to travel in the north of his vast states, whom he could crush in every
village, every bridge, every defile, or whom he could have made perish
with hunger and misery.

However, they were furnished, as we have seen, with twenty-seven great
boats, to enable them to pass the Tigris, as if they were conducted to
the Indies. Thence they were escorted towards the North for several
days, into the desert in which Bagdad is now situated. They further
passed the river Zabata, and it was there that the emperor sent his
orders to punish the chiefs. It is clear that they could have
exterminated the army as easily as they inflicted punishment on the
generals. It is therefore very likely that they did not choose to do so.
We should, therefore, rather regard the Greek wanderers in these savage
countries as wayward travellers, whom the bounty of the emperor allowed
to finish their journey as they could.

We may make another observation, which appears not very honorable to the
Persian government. It was impossible for the Greeks not to have
continual quarrels for food with the people whom they met. Pillages,
desolations, and murders, were the inevitable consequence of these
disorders; and that is so true, that in a road of six hundred leagues,
during which the Greeks always marched irregularly, being neither
escorted nor pursued by any great body of Persian troops, they lost four
thousand men, either killed by peasants or by sickness. How did it
happen, therefore, that Artaxerxes did not cause them to be escorted
from their passage of the river Zabata, as he had done from the field of
battle to the river?

How could so wise and good a sovereign commit so great a fault? Perhaps
he did command the escort; perhaps Xenophon, who exaggerates a little
elsewhere, passes it over in silence, not to diminish the wonder of the
"retreat of the ten thousand"; perhaps the escort was always obliged to
march at a great distance from the Greek troop, on account of the
difficulty of procuring provisions. However it might be, it appears
certain that Artaxerxes used extreme indulgence, and that the Greeks
owed their lives to him, since they were not exterminated.

In the article on "Retreat," in the "Encyclopædical Dictionary," it is
said that the retreat of the ten thousand took place under the command
of Xenophon. This is a mistake; he never commanded; he was merely at the
head of a division of fourteen hundred men, at the end of the march.

I see that these heroes scarcely arrived, after so many fatigues, on the
borders of the Pontus Euxinus, before they indifferently pillaged
friends and enemies to re-establish themselves. Xenophon embarked his
little troop at Heraclea, and went to make a new bargain with a king of
Thrace, to whom he was a stranger. This Athenian, instead of succoring
his country, then overcome by the Spartans, sold himself once more to a
petty foreign despot. He was ill paid, I confess, which is another
reason why we may conclude that he would have done better in assisting
his country.

The sum of all this, we have already remarked, is that the Athenian
Xenophon, being only a young volunteer, enlisted himself under a
Lacedæmonian captain, one of the tyrants of Athens, in the service of a
rebel and an assassin; and that, becoming chief of fourteen hundred men,
he put himself into the pay of a barbarian.

What is worse, necessity did not constrain him to this servitude. He
says himself that he deposited a great part of the gold gained in the
service of Cyrus in the temple of the famous Diana of Ephesus.

Let us remark, that in receiving the pay of a king, he exposed himself
to be condemned to death, if the foreigner was not contented with him,
which happened to Major-General Doxat, a man born free. He sold himself
to the emperor Charles VI., who commanded his head to be cut off, for
having given up to the Turks a place which he could not defend.

Rollin, in speaking of the return of the ten thousand, says, "that this
fortunate retreat filled the people of Greece with contempt for
Artaxerxes, by showing them that gold, silver, delicacies, luxury, and a
numerous seraglio, composed all the merit of a great king."

Rollin should consider that the Greeks ought not to despise a sovereign
who had gained a complete battle; who, having pardoned as a brother,
conquered as a hero; who, having the power of exterminating ten thousand
Greeks, suffered them to live and to return to their country; and who,
being able to have them in his pay, disdained to make use of them. Add,
that this prince afterwards conquered the Lacedæmonians and their
allies, and imposed on them humiliating laws; add also that in a war
with the Scythians, called Caducians, towards the Caspian Sea, he
supported all fatigues and dangers like the lowest soldier. He lived and
died full of glory; it is true that he had a seraglio, but his courage
was only the more estimable. We must be careful of college declamations.

If I dared to attack prejudice I would venture to prefer the retreat of
Marshal Belle-Isle to that of the ten thousand. He was blocked up in
Prague by sixty thousand men, when he had not thirteen thousand. He took
his measures with so much ability that he got out of Prague, in the most
severe cold, with his army, provisions, baggage, and thirty pieces of
cannon, without the besiegers having the least idea of it. He gained two
days' march without their perceiving it. An army of thirteen thousand
men pursued him for the space of thirty leagues. He faced them
everywhere--he was never cast down; but sick as he was, he braved the
season, scarcity and his enemies. He only lost those soldiers who could
not resist the extreme rigor of the season. What more was wanting? A
longer course and Grecian exaggeration.


This is the name of a town in France, six leagues from Rouen, in
Normandy, which, according to Robert Gaguin, a historian of the
sixteenth century, has long been entitled a kingdom.

This writer relates that Gautier, or Vautier, lord of Yvetot, and grand
chamberlain to King Clotaire I., having lost the favor of his master by
calumny, in which courtiers deal rather liberally, went into voluntary
exile, and visited distant countries, where, for ten years, he fought
against the enemies of the faith; that at the expiration of this term,
flattering himself that the king's anger would be appeased, he went back
to France; that he passed through Rome, where he saw Pope Agapetus, from
whom he obtained a letter of recommendation to the king, who was then at
Soissons, the capital of his dominions. The lord of Yvetot repaired
thither one Good Friday, and chose the time when Clotaire was at church,
to fall at his feet, and implore his forgiveness through the merits of
Him who, on that day, had shed His blood for the salvation of men; but
Clotaire, ferocious and cruel, having recognized him, ran him through
the body.

Gaguin adds that Pope Agapetus, being informed of this disgraceful act,
threatened the king with the thunders of the Church, if he did not make
reparation for his offence; and that Clotaire, justly intimidated, and
in satisfaction for the murder of his subject, erected the lordship of
Yvetot into a kingdom, in favor of Gautier's heirs and successors; that
he despatched letters to that effect signed by himself, and sealed with
his seal; that ever since then the lords of Yvetot have borne the title
of kings; and--continues Gaguin--I find from established and
indisputable authority, that this extraordinary event happened in the
year of grace 539.

On this story of Gaguin's we have the same remark to make that we have
already made on what he says of the establishment of the Paris
university--that not one of the contemporary historians makes any
mention of the singular event, which, as he tells us, caused the
lordship of Yvetot to be erected into a kingdom; and, as Claude Malingre
and the abbé Vertot have well observed, Clotaire I., who is here
supposed to have been sovereign of the town of Yvetot, did not reign
over that part of the country; fiefs were not then hereditary; acts were
not, as Robert Gaguin relates, dated from the year of grace; and lastly,
Pope Agapetus was then dead; to this it may be added that the right of
erecting a fief into a kingdom belonged exclusively to the emperor.

It is not, however, to be said that the thunders of the Church were not
already made use of, in the time of Agapetus. We know that St. Paul
excommunicated the incestuous man of Corinth. We also find in the
letters of St. Basil, some instances of general censure in the fourth
century. One of these letters is against a ravisher. The holy prelate
there orders the young woman to be restored to her parents, the ravisher
to be excluded from prayers, and declared to be excommunicated, together
with his accomplices and all his household, for three years; he also
orders that all the people of the village where the ravished person was
received, shall be excommunicated.

Auxilius, a young bishop, excommunicated the whole family of Clacitien;
although St. Augustine disapproved of this conduct, and Pope St. Leo
laid down the same maxims as Augustine, in one of his letters to the
bishop of the province of Vienne--yet, confining ourselves here to
France--Pretextatus, bishop of Rouen, having been assassinated in the
year 586 in his own church, Leudovalde, bishop of Bayeux, did not fail
to lay all the churches in Rouen under an interdict, forbidding divine
service to be celebrated in them until the author of the crime should be

In 1141, Louis the Young having refused his consent to the election of
Peter de la Châtre, whom the pope caused to be appointed in the room of
Alberic, archbishop of Bourges, who had died the year preceding,
Innocent II. laid all France under interdict.

In the year 1200, Peter of Capua, commissioned to compel Philip Augustus
to put away Agnes, and take back Ingeburga, and not succeeding,
published the sentence of interdict on the whole kingdom, which had been
pronounced by Pope Innocent III. This interdict was observed with
extreme rigor. The English chronicle, quoted by the Benedictine
Martenne, says that every Christian act, excepting the baptism of
infants, was interdicted in France; the churches were closed, and
Christians driven out of them like dogs; there was no more divine
office, no more sacrifice of the mass, no ecclesiastical sepulture for
the deceased; the dead bodies, left to chance, spread the most frightful
infections, and filled the survivors with horror.

The chronicle of Tours gives the same description, adding only one
remarkable particular, confirmed by the abbé Fleury and the abbé de
Vertot--that the holy viaticum was excepted, like the baptism of
infants, from the privation of holy things. The kingdom was in this
situation for nine months; it was some time before Innocent III.
permitted the preaching of sermons and the sacrament of confirmation.
The king was so much enraged that he drove the bishops and all the other
ecclesiastics from their abodes, and confiscated their property.

But it is singular that the bishops were sometimes solicited by
sovereigns themselves to pronounce an interdict upon lands of their
vassals. By letters dated February, 1356, confirming those of Guy, count
of Nevers, and his wife Matilda, in favor of the citizens of Nevers,
Charles V., regent of the kingdom, prays the archbishops of Lyons,
Bourges, and Sens, and the bishops of Autun, Langres, Auxerre, and
Nevers, to pronounce an excommunication against the count of Nevers, and
an interdict upon his lands, if he does not fulfil the agreement he has
made with the inhabitants. We also find in the collection of the
ordinances of the third line of kings, many letters like that of King
John, authorizing the bishops to put under interdict those places whose
privileges their lords would seek to infringe.

And to conclude, though it appears incredible, the Jesuit Daniel relates
that, in the year 998, King Robert was excommunicated by Gregory V., for
having married his kinswoman in the fourth degree. All the bishops who
had assisted at this marriage were interdicted from the communion, until
they had been to Rome, and rendered satisfaction to the holy see. The
people, and even the court, separated from the king; he had only two
domestics left, who purified by fire whatever he had touched. Cardinal
Damien and Romualde also add, that Robert being gone one morning, as was
his custom, to say his prayers at the door of St. Bartholomew's church,
for he dared not enter it, Abbon, abbot of Fleury, followed by two women
of the palace, carrying a large gilt dish covered with a napkin,
accosted him, announced that Bertha was just brought to bed; and
uncovering the dish, said: "Behold the effects of your disobedience to
the decrees of the Church, and the seal of anathema on the fruit of your
love!" Robert looked, and saw a monster with the head and neck of a
duck! Bertha was repudiated; and the excommunication was at last taken

Urban II., on the contrary, excommunicated Robert's grandson, Philip I.,
for having put away his kinswoman. This pope pronounced the sentence of
excommunication in the king's own dominions, at Clermont, in Auvergne,
where his holiness was come to seek an asylum, in the same council in
which the crusade was preached, and in which, for the first time, the
name of pope (papa) was given to the bishop of Rome, to the exclusion of
the other bishops, who had formerly taken it.

It will be seen that these canonical pains were medicinal rather than
mortal; but Gregory VII. and some of his successors ventured to assert,
that an excommunicated sovereign was deprived of his dominions, and that
his subjects were not obliged to obey him. However, supposing that a
king can be excommunicated in certain serious cases, excommunication,
being a penalty purely spiritual, cannot dispense with the obedience
which his subjects owe to him, as holding his authority from God
Himself. This was constantly acknowledged by the parliaments, and also
by the clergy of France, in the excommunications pronounced by Boniface
VII., against Philip the Fair; by Julius II., against Louis XII.; by
Sixtus V., against Henry III.; by Gregory XIII., against Henry IV.; and
it is likewise the doctrine of the celebrated assembly of the clergy in


This, in religion, is a pure and enlightened attachment to the
maintenance and progress of the worship which is due to the Divinity;
but when this zeal is persecuting, blind, and false, it becomes the
greatest scourge of humanity.

See what the emperor Julian says of the Christians of his time: "The
Galileans," he observes, "have suffered exile and imprisonment under my
predecessor; those who are by turns called heretics, have been mutually
massacred. I have recalled the banished, liberated the prisoners; I have
restored their property to the proscribed; I have forced them to live in
peace; but such is the restless rage of the Galileans, that they
complain of being no longer able to devour each other."

This picture will not appear extravagant if we attend to the atrocious
calumnies with which the Christians reciprocally blackened each other.
For instance, St. Augustine accuses the Manichæans of forcing their
elect to receive the eucharist, after having obscenely polluted it.
After him, St. Cyril of Jerusalem has accused them of the same infamy in
these terms: "I dare not mention in what these sacrilegious wretches wet
their ischas, which they give to their unhappy votaries, and exhibit in
the midst of their altar, and with which the Manichæan soils his mouth
and tongue. Let the men call to mind what they are accustomed to
experience in dreaming, and the women in their periodical affections."
Pope St. Leo, in one of his sermons, also calls the sacrifice of the
Manichæans the same turpitude. Finally, Suidas and Cedrenus have still
further improved on the calumny, in asserting that the Manichæans held
nocturnal assemblies, in which, after extinguishing the flambeaux, they
committed the most enormous indecencies.

Let us first observe that the primitive Christians were themselves
accused of the same horrors which they afterwards imputed to the
Manichæans; and that the justification of these equally applies to the
others. "In order to have pretexts for persecuting us," said
Athenagoras, in his "Apology for the Christians," "they accuse us of
making detestable banquets, and of committing incest in our assemblies.
It is an old trick, which has been employed from all time to extinguish
virtue. Thus was Pythagoras burned, with three hundred of his disciples;
Heraclitus expelled by the Ephesians; Democritus by the Abderitans; and
Socrates condemned by the Athenians."

Athenagoras subsequently points out that the principles and manners of
the Christians were sufficient of themselves to destroy the calumnies
spread against them. The same reasons apply in favor of the Manichæans.
Why else is St. Augustine, who is positive in his book on heresies,
reduced in that on the morals of the Manichæans, when speaking of the
horrible ceremony in question, to say simply: "They are suspected
of--the world has this opinion of them--if they do not commit what is
imputed to them--rumor proclaims much ill of them; but they maintain
that it is false?"

Why not sustain openly this accusation in his dispute with Fortunatus,
who publicly challenged him in these terms: "We are accused of false
crimes, and as Augustine has assisted in our worship, I beg him to
declare before the whole people, whether these crimes are true or not."
St. Augustine replied: "It is true that I have assisted in your worship;
but the question of faith is one thing, the question of morals another;
and it is that of faith which I brought forward. However, if the persons
present prefer that we should discuss that of your morals, I shall not
oppose myself to them."

Fortunatus, addressing the assembly, said: "I wish, above all things, to
be justified in the minds of those who believe us guilty; and that
Augustine should now testify before you, and one day before the tribunal
of Jesus Christ, if he has ever seen, or if he knows, in any way
whatever, that the things imputed have been committed by us?" St.
Augustine still replies: "You depart from the question; what I have
advanced turns upon faith, not upon morals." At length, Fortunatus
continuing to press St. Augustine to explain himself, he does so in
these terms: "I acknowledge that in the prayer at which I assisted I did
not see you commit anything impure."

The same St. Augustine, in his work on the "Utility of Faith," still
justifies the Manichæans. "At this time," he says, to his friend
Honoratus, "when I was occupied with Manichæism, I was yet full of the
desire and the hope of marrying a handsome woman, and of acquiring
riches; of attaining honors, and of enjoying the other pernicious
pleasures of life. For when I listened with attention to the Manichæan
doctors, I had not renounced the desire and hope of all these things. I
do not attribute that to their doctrine; for I am bound to render this
testimony--that they sedulously exhorted men to preserve themselves from
those things. That is, indeed, what hindered me from attaching myself
altogether to the sect, and kept me in the rank of those who are called
auditors. I did not wish to renounce secular hopes and affairs." And in
the last chapter of this book, where he represents the Manichæan doctors
as proud men, who had as gross minds as they had meagre and skinny
bodies, he does not say a word of their pretended infamies.

But on what proofs were these imputations founded? The first which
Augustine alleges is, that these indecencies were a consequence of the
Manichæan system, regarding the means which God makes use of to wrest
from the prince of darkness the portion of his substance. We have spoken
of this in the article on "Genealogy," and these are horrors which one
may dispense with repeating. It is enough to say here, that the passage
from the seventh book of the "Treasure of Manes," which Augustine cites
in many places, is evidently falsified. The arch heretic says, if we can
believe it, that these celestial virtues, which are transformed
sometimes into beautiful boys, and sometimes into beautiful girls, are
God the Father Himself. This is false; Manes has never confounded the
celestial virtues with God the Father. St. Augustine, not having
understood the Syriac phrase of a "virgin of light" to mean a virgin
light, supposes that God shows a beautiful maiden to the princes of
darkness, in order to excite their brutal lust; there is nothing of all
this talked of in ancient authors; the question concerns the cause of

"The great prince," says Tirbon, cited by St. Epiphanius, "sends out for
himself, in his passion, black clouds, which darken all the world; he
chafes, worries himself, throws himself into a perspiration, and that it
is which makes the rain, which is no other than the sweat of the great
prince." St. Augustine must have been deceived by a mistranslation, or
rather by a garbled, unfaithful extract from the "Treasure of Manes,"
from which he only cites two or three passages. The Manichæan Secundums
also reproaches him with comprehending nothing of the mysteries of
Manichæism, and with attacking them only by mere paralogisms. "How,
otherwise," says the learned M. de Beausobre--whom we here
abridge--"would St. Augustine have been able to live so many years among
a sect in which such abominations were publicly taught? And how would he
have had the face to defend it against the Catholics?"

From this proof by reasoning, let us pass to the proofs of fact and
evidence alleged by St. Augustine and see if they are more substantial.
"It is said," proceeds this father, "that some of them have confessed
this fact in public pleadings, not only in Paphlagonia, but also in the
Gauls, as I have heard said at Rome by a certain Catholic."

Such hearsay deserves so little attention that St. Augustine dared not
make use of it in his conference with Fortunatus, although it was seven
or eight years after he had quitted Rome; he seems even to have
forgotten the name of the Catholic from whom he learned them. It is
true, that in his book of "Heresies," he speaks of the confessions of
two girls, the one named Margaret, the other Eusebia, and of some
Manichæans who, having been discovered at Carthage, and taken to the
church, avowed, it is said, the horrible fact in question.

He adds that a certain Viator declared that they who committed these
scandals were called Catharistes, or purgators; and that, when
interrogated on what scripture they founded this frightful practice,
they produced the passage from the "Treasure of Manes," the falsehood of
which has been demonstrated. But our heretics, far from availing
themselves of it, have openly disavowed it, as the work of some impostor
who wished to ruin them. That alone casts suspicion on all these acts of
Carthage, which "_Quod-vult-Deus_" had sent to St. Augustine; and these
wretches who were discovered and taken to the church, have very much the
air of persons suborned to confess all they were wanted to confess.

In the 47th chapter on the "Nature of Good," St. Augustine admits that
when our heretics were reproached with the crimes in question, they
replied that one of their elect, a seceder from the sect, and become
their enemy, had introduced this enormity. Without inquiring whether
this was a real sect whom Viator calls Catharistes, it is sufficient to
observe here, that the first Christians likewise imputed to the Gnostics
the horrible mysteries of which they were themselves accused by the Jews
and Pagans; and if this defence is good on their behalf, why should it
not be so on that of the Manichæans?

It is, however, these vulgar rumors which M. de Tillemont, who piques
himself on his exactness and fidelity, ventures to convert into positive
facts. He asserts that the Manichæans had been made to confess these
disgraceful doings in public judgments, in Paphlagonia, in the Gauls,
and several times at Carthage.

Let us also weigh the testimony of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, whose
narrative is altogether different from that of St. Augustine; and let us
consider that the fact is so incredible and so absurd that it could
scarcely be credited, even if attested by five or six witnesses who had
seen and would affirm it on oath. St. Cyril stands alone; he had never
seen it; he advances it in a popular declamation, wherein he gives
himself a licence to put into the mouth of Manes, in the conference of
Cascar, a discourse, not one word of which is in the "Acts of
Archælaus," as M. Zaccagni is obliged to allow; and it cannot be alleged
in defence of St. Cyril that he has taken only the sense of Archælaus,
and not the words; for neither the sense nor the words can be found
there. Besides, the style which this father adopts is that of a
historian who cites the actual words of his author.

Nevertheless, to save the honor and good faith of St. Cyril, M.
Zaccagni, and after him M. de Tillemont, suppose, without any proof,
that the translator or copyist has omitted the passage in the "Acts"
quoted by this father; and the journalists of Trévoux have imagined two
sorts of "Acts of Archælaus"--the authentic ones which Cyril has copied,
and others invented in the fifth century by some historian. When they
shall have proved this conjecture, we will examine their reasons.

Finally, let us come to the testimony of Pope Leo touching these
Manichæan abominations. He says, in his sermons, that the sudden
troubles in other countries had brought into Italy some Manichæans,
whose mysteries were so abominable that he could not expose them to the
public view without sacrificing modesty. That, in order to ascertain
them, he had introduced male and female elect into an assembly composed
of bishops, priests, and some lay noblemen. That these heretics had
disclosed many things respecting their dogmas and the ceremonies of
their feast, and had confessed a crime which could not be named, but in
regard to which there could be no doubt, after the confession of the
guilty parties--that is to say, of a young girl of only ten years of
age; of two women who had prepared her for the horrible ceremony of the
sect; of a young man who had been an accomplice; of the bishop who had
ordered and presided over it. He refers those among his auditors who
desire to know more, to the informations which had been taken, and which
he communicated to the bishops of Italy, in his second letter.

This testimony appears more precise and more decisive than that of St.
Augustine; but it is anything but conclusive in regard to a fact belied
by the protestations of the accused, and by the ascertained principles
of their morality. In effect, what proofs have we that the infamous
persons interrogated by Leo were not bribed to depose against their

It will be replied that the piety and sincerity of this pope will not
permit us to believe that he has contrived such a fraud. But if--as we
have said in the article on "Relics"--the same St. Leo was capable of
supposing that pieces of linen and ribbons, which were put in a box, and
made to descend into the tombs of some saints, shed blood when they were
cut--ought this pope to make any scruple in bribing, or causing to be
bribed, some abandoned women, and I know not what Manichæan bishop,
who, being assured of pardon, would make confessions of crimes which
might be true as regarded themselves, but not as regarded their sect,
from whose seduction St. Leo wished to protect his people? At all times,
bishops have considered themselves authorized to employ those pious
frauds which tend to the salvation of souls. The conjectural and
apocryphal scriptures are a proof of this; and the readiness with which
the fathers have put faith in those bad works, shows that, if they were
not accomplices in the fraud, they were not scrupulous in taking
advantage of it.

In conclusion, St. Leo pretends to confirm the secret crimes of the
Manichæans by an argument which destroys them. "These execrable
mysteries," he says, "which the more impure they are, the more carefully
they are hid, are common to the Manichæans and to the Priscillianists.
There is in all respects the same sacrilege, the same obscenity, the
same turpitude. These crimes, these infamies, are the same which were
formerly discovered among the Priscillianists, and of which the whole
world is informed."

The Priscillianists were never guilty of the crimes for which they were
put to death. In the works of St. Augustine is contained the
instructional remarks which were transmitted to that father by Orosius,
and in which this Spanish priest protests that he has plucked out all
the plants of perdition which sprang up in the sect of the
Priscillianists; that he had not forgotten the smallest branch or root;
that he exposed to the surgeon all the diseases of the sect, in order
that he might labor in their cure. Orosius does not say a word of the
abominable mysteries of which Leo speaks; an unanswerable proof that he
had no doubt they were pure calumnies. St. Jerome also says that
Priscillian was oppressed by faction, and by the intrigues of the
bishops Ithacus and Idacus. Would a man be thus spoken of who was guilty
of profaning religion by the most infamous ceremonies? Nevertheless,
Orosius and St. Jerome could not be ignorant of crimes of which all the
world had been informed.

St. Martin of Tours, and St. Ambrosius, who were at Trier when
Priscillian was sentenced, would have been equally informed of them.
They, however, instantly solicited a pardon for him; and, not being able
to obtain it, they refused to hold intercourse with his accusers and
their faction. Sulpicius Severus relates the history of the misfortunes
of Priscillian. Latronian, Euphrosyne, widow of the poet Delphidius, his
daughter, and some other persons, were executed with him at Trier, by
order of the tyrant Maximus, and at the instigation of Ithacus and
Idacus, two wicked bishops, who, in reward for their injustice, died in
excommunication, loaded with the hatred of God and man.

The Priscillianists were accused, like the Manichæans, of obscene
doctrines, of religious nakedness and immodesty. How were they
convicted? Priscillian and his accomplices confessed, as is said, under
the torture. Three degraded persons, Tertullus, Potamius, and John,
confessed without awaiting the question. But the suit instituted against
the Priscillianists would have been founded on other depositions, which
had been made against them in Spain. Nevertheless, these latter
informations were rejected by a great number of bishops and esteemed
ecclesiastics; and the good old man Higimis, bishop of Cordova, who had
been the denouncer of the Priscillianists, afterwards believed them so
innocent of the crimes imputed to them that he received them into his
communion, and found himself involved thereby in the persecution which
they endured.

These horrible calumnies, dictated by a blind zeal, would seem to
justify the reflection which Ammianus Marcellinus reports of the emperor
Julian. "The savage beasts," he said, "are not more formidable to men
than the Christians are to each other, when they are divided by creed
and opinion."

It is still more deplorable when zeal is false and hypocritical,
examples of which are not rare. It is told of a doctor of the Sorbonne,
that in departing from a sitting of the faculty, Tournély, with whom he
was strictly connected, said to him: "You see that for two hours I have
maintained a certain opinion with warmth; well, I assure you, there is
not one word of truth in all I have said!"

The answer of a Jesuit is also known, who was employed for twenty years
in the Canada missions, and who himself not believing in a God, as he
confessed in the ear of a friend, had faced death twenty times for the
sake of a religion which he preached to the savages. This friend
representing to him the inconsistency of his zeal: "Ah!" replied the
Jesuit missionary, "you have no idea of the pleasure a man enjoys in
making himself heard by twenty thousand men, and in persuading them of
what he does not himself believe."

It is frightful to observe how many abuses and disorders arise from the
profound ignorance in which Europe has been so long plunged. Those
monarchs who are at last sensible of the importance of enlightenment,
become the benefactors of mankind in favoring the progress of knowledge,
which is the foundation of the tranquillity and happiness of nations,
and the finest bulwark against the inroads of fanaticism.


If it is Zoroaster who first announced to mankind that fine maxim: "In
the doubt whether an action be good or bad, abstain from it," Zoroaster
was the first of men after Confucius.

If this beautiful lesson of morality is found only in the hundred gates
of the "Sadder," let us bless the author of the "Sadder." There may be
very ridiculous dogmas and rites united with an excellent morality.

Who was this Zoroaster? The name has something of Greek in it, and it is
said he was a Mede. The Parsees of the present day call him Zerdust, or
Zerdast, or Zaradast, or Zarathrust. He is not reckoned to have been the
first of the name. We are told of two other Zoroasters, the former of
whom has an antiquity of nine thousand years--which is much for us, but
may be very little for the world. We are acquainted with only the latest

The French travellers, Chardin and Tavernier, have given us some
information respecting this great prophet, by means of the Guebers or
Parsees, who are still scattered through India and Persia, and who are
excessively ignorant. Dr. Hyde, Arabic professor of Oxford, has given us
a hundred times more without leaving home. Living in the west of
England, he must have conjectured the language which the Persians spoke
in the time of Cyrus, and must have compared it with the modern language
of the worshippers of fire. It is to him, moreover, that we owe those
hundred gates of the "Sadder," which contain all the principal precepts
of the pious fire-worshippers.

For my own part, I confess I have found nothing in their ancient rites
more curious than the two Persian verses of Sadi, as given by Hyde;
signifying that, although a person may preserve the sacred fire for a
hundred years, he is burned when he falls into it.

The learned researches of Hyde kindled, a few years ago in the breast of
a young Frenchman, the desire to learn for himself the dogmas of the
Guebers. He traversed the Great Indies, in order to learn at Surat,
among the poor modern Parsees, the language of the ancient Persians, and
to read in that language the books of the so-much celebrated Zoroaster,
supposing that he has in fact written any.

The Pythagorases, the Platos, the Appolloniuses of Thyana, went in
former times to seek in the East wisdom that was not there; but no one
has run after this hidden divinity through so many sufferings and perils
as this new French translator of the books attributed to Zoroaster.
Neither disease nor war, nor obstacles renewed at every step, nor
poverty itself, the first and greatest of obstacles, could repel his

It is glorious for Zoroaster that an Englishman wrote his life, at the
end of so many centuries, and that afterwards a Frenchman wrote it in an
entirely different manner. But it is still finer, that among the ancient
biographers of the poet we have two principal Arabian authors, each of
whom had previously written his history; and all these four histories
contradict one another marvellously. This is not done by concert; and
nothing is more conducive to the knowledge of the truth.

The first Arabian historian, Abu-Mohammed Mustapha, allows that the
father of Zoroaster was called Espintaman; but he also says that
Espintaman was not his father, but his great-great-grandfather. In
regard to his mother, there are not two opinions; she was named Dogdu,
or Dodo, or Dodu--that is, a very fine turkey hen; she is very well
portrayed in Doctor Hyde.

Bundari, the second historian, relates that Zoroaster was a Jew, and
that he had been valet to Jeremiah; that he told lies to his master;
that, in order to punish him, Jeremiah gave him the leprosy; that the
valet, to purify himself, went to preach a new religion in Persia, and
caused the sun to be adored instead of the stars.

Attend now to what the third historian relates, and what the Englishman,
Hyde, has recorded somewhat at length: The prophet Zoroaster having come
from Paradise to preach his religion to the king of Persia, Gustaph, the
king said to the prophet: "Give me a sign." Upon this, the prophet
caused a cedar to grow up before the gate of the palace, so large and so
tall, that no cord could either go round it or reach its top. Upon the
cedar he placed a fine cabinet, to which no man could ascend. Struck
with this miracle, Gustaph believed in Zoroaster.

Four magi, or four sages--it is the same thing--envious and wicked
persons, borrowed from the royal porter the key of the prophet's chamber
during his absence, and threw among his books the bones of dogs and
cats, the nails and hair of dead bodies--such being, as is well known,
the drugs with which magicians at all times have operated. Afterwards,
they went and accused the prophet of being a sorcerer and a poisoner;
and the king, causing the chamber to be opened by his porter, the
instruments of witchcraft were found there--and behold the envoy from
heaven condemned to be hanged!

Just as they are going to hang Zoroaster, the king's finest horse falls
ill; his four legs enter his body, so as to be no longer visible.
Zoroaster hears of it; he promises to cure the horse, provided they will
not hang him. The bargain being made, he causes one leg to issue out of
the belly, and says: "Sire, I will not restore you the second leg unless
you embrace my religion." "Let it be so," says the monarch. The prophet,
after having made the second leg appear, wished the king's children to
become Zoroastrians, and they became so. The other legs made proselytes
of the whole court. The four envious sages were hanged in place of the
prophet, and all Persia received the faith.

The French traveller relates nearly the same miracles, supported and
embellished, however, by many others. For instance, the infancy of
Zoroaster could not fail to be miraculous; Zoroaster fell to laughing as
soon as he was born, at least according to Pliny and Solinus. There
were, in those days, as all the world knows, a great number of very
powerful magicians; they were well aware that one day Zoroaster would be
greater than themselves, and that he would triumph over their magic. The
prince of magicians caused the infant to be brought to him, and tried to
cut him in two; but his hand instantly withered. They threw him into the
fire, which was turned for him into a bath of rose water. They wished to
have him trampled on by the feet of wild bulls; but a still more
powerful bull protected him. He was cast among the wolves; these wolves
went incontinently and sought two ewes, who gave him suck all night. At
last, he was restored to his mother Dogdu, or Dodo, or Dodu, a wife
excellent above all wives, or a daughter above all daughters.

Such, throughout the world, have been all the histories of ancient
times. It proves what we have often remarked, that Fable is the elder
sister of History. I could wish that, for our amusement and instruction,
all these great prophets of antiquity, the Zoroasters, the Mercurys
Trismegistus, the Abarises, and even the Numas, and others, should now
return to the earth, and converse with Locke, Newton, Bacon,
Shaftesbury, Pascal, Arnaud, Bayle--what do I say?--even with those
philosophers of our day who are the least learned, provided they are not
the less rational. I ask pardon of antiquity, but I think they would cut
a sorry figure.

Alas, poor charlatans! they could not sell their drugs on the
Pont-neuf. In the meantime, however, their morality is still good,
because morality is not a drug. How could it be that Zoroaster joined so
many egregious fooleries to the fine precept of "abstaining when it is
doubtful whether one is about to do right or wrong?" It is because men
are always compounded of contradictions.

It is added that Zoroaster, having established his religion, became a
persecutor. Alas! there is not a sexton, or a sweeper of a church, who
would not persecute, if he had the power.

One cannot read two pages of the abominable trash attributed to
Zoroaster, without pitying human nature. Nostradamus and the urine
doctor are reasonable compared with this inspired personage; and yet he
still is and will continue to be talked of.

What appears singular is, that there existed, in the time of the
Zoroaster with whom we are acquainted, and probably before, prescribed
formulas of public and private prayer. We are indebted to the French
traveller for a translation of them. There were such formulas in India;
we know of none such in the Pentateuch.

What is still stranger, the magi, as well as the Brahmins, admitted a
paradise, a hell, a resurrection, and a devil. It is demonstrated that
the law of the Jews knew nothing of all this; they were behindhand with
everything--a truth of which we are convinced, however little the
progress we have made in Oriental knowledge.



We declare to the learned that being, like themselves, prodigiously
ignorant of the first principles of all things, and of the natural,
typical, mystical, allegorical sense of many things, we acquiesce, in
regard to them, in the infallible decision of the holy Inquisition of
Rome, Milan, Florence, Madrid, Lisbon, and in the decrees of the
Sorbonne, the perpetual council of the French.

Our errors not proceeding from malice, but being the natural consequence
of human weakness, we hope we shall be pardoned for them both in this
world and the next.

We entreat the small number of celestial spirits who are still shut up
in the mortal bodies in France, and who thence enlighten the universe at
thirty sous per sheet, to communicate their gifts to us for the next
volume, which we calculate on publishing at the end of the Lent of 1772,
or in the Advent of 1773; and we will pay _forty_ sous per sheet for
their lucubrations.

We entreat the few great men who still remain to us, such as the author
of the "Ecclesiastical Gazette"; the Abbé Guyon; with the Abbé Caveirac,
author of the "Apology for St. Bartholomew"; and he who took the name
of Chiniac; and the agreeable Larcher; and the virtuous, wise, and
learned Langleviel, called La Beaumelle; the profound and exact
Nonnotte; and the moderate, the compassionate, the tender Patouillet--to
assist us in our undertaking. We shall profit by their instructive
criticisms, and we shall experience a real pleasure in rendering to all
these gentlemen the justice which is their due.

The next volume will contain very curious articles, which, under the
favor of God, will be likely to give new piquancy to the wit which we
shall endeavor to infuse into the thanks we return to all these

Given at Mount Krapak, the 30th of the month of Janus, in the year of
the world, according to

  Scaliger...............................     5,022

  According to Les Etrennes Mignonnes....     5,776

  According to Riccioli..................     5,956

  According to Eusebius..................     6,972

  According to the Alphosine Tables......     8,707

  According to the Egyptians.............   370,000

  According to the Chaldæans.............   465,102

  According to the Brahmins..............   780,000

  According to the Philosophers..........     ----

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Philosophical Dictionary, Volume 10" ***

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