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Title: A Philosophical Dictionary, Volume 2
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 2" ***

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._


THE BASTILLE--_Frontispiece_




[Illustration: The Bastille.--"For four hundred years the symbol of
oppression. Within its walls the noblest had perished. It was a
perpetual threat, it was the last and often the first argument of king
and priest."]

       *       *       *       *       *






       *       *       *       *       *


Are all appearances deceitful? Have our senses been given us only to
keep us in continual delusion? Is everything error? Do we live in a
dream, surrounded by shadowy chimeras? We see the sun setting when he is
already below the horizon; before he has yet risen we see him appear. A
square tower seems to be round. A straight stick, thrust into the water,
seems to be bent.

You see your face in a mirror and the image appears to be behind the
glass: it is, however, neither behind nor before it. This glass, which
to the sight and the touch is so smooth and even, is no other than an
unequal congregation of projections and cavities. The finest and fairest
skin is a kind of bristled network, the openings of which are
incomparably larger than the threads, and enclose an infinite number of
minute hairs. Under this network there are liquors incessantly passing,
and from it there issue continual exhalations which cover the whole
surface. What we call large is to an elephant very small, and what we
call small is to insects a world. The same motion which would be rapid
to a snail would be very slow in the eye of an eagle. This rock, which
is impenetrable by steel, is a sieve consisting of more pores than
matter, and containing a thousand avenues of prodigious width leading to
its centre, in which are lodged multitudes of animals, which may, for
aught we know, think themselves the masters of the universe.

Nothing is either as it appears to be, or in the place where we believe
it to be. Several philosophers, tired of being constantly deceived by
bodies, have in their spleen pronounced that bodies do not exist, and
that there is nothing real but our minds. As well might they have
concluded that, all appearances being false, and the nature of the soul
being as little known as that of the matter, there is no reality in
either body or soul. Perhaps it is this despair of knowing anything
which has caused some Chinese philosophers to say that nothing is the
beginning and the end of all things. This philosophy, so destructive to
being, was well known in Molière's time. Doctor Macphurius represents
the school; when teaching Sganarelle, he says, "You must not say, 'I am
come,' but 'it seems to me that I am come'; for it may seem to you,
without such being really the case." But at the present day a comic
scene is not an argument, though it is sometimes better than an
argument; and there is often as much pleasure in seeking after truth as
in laughing at philosophy.

You do not see the network, the cavities, the threads, the inequalities,
the exhalations of that white and delicate skin which you idolize.
Animals a thousand times less than a mite discern all these objects
which escape your vision; they lodge, feed, and travel about in them, as
in an extensive country, and those on the right arm are perfectly
ignorant that there are creatures of their own species on the left. If
you were so unfortunate as to see what they see, your charming skin
would strike you with horror.

The harmony of a concert, to which you listen with delight, must have on
certain classes of minute animals the effect of terrible thunder; and
perhaps it kills them. We see, touch, hear, feel things only in the way
in which they ought to be seen, touched, heard, or felt by ourselves.

All is in due proportion. The laws of optics, which show you an object
in the water where it is not, and break a right line, are in entire
accordance with those which make the sun appear to you with a diameter
of two feet, although it is a million times larger than the earth. To
see it in its true dimensions would require an eye collecting his rays
at an angle as great as his disk, which is impossible. Our senses, then,
assist much more than they deceive us.

Motion, time, hardness, softness, dimensions, distance, approximation,
strength, weakness, appearances, of whatever kind, all is relative. And
who has created these relations?


All great successes, of whatever kind, are founded upon things done or
said apropos.

Arnold of Brescia, John Huss, and Jerome of Prague did not come quite
apropos; the people were not then sufficiently enlightened; the
invention of printing had not then laid the abuses complained of before
the eyes of every one. But when men began to read--when the populace,
who were solicitous to escape purgatory, but at the same time wished not
to pay too dear for indulgences, began to open their eyes, the reformers
of the sixteenth century came quite apropos, and succeeded.

It has been elsewhere observed that Cromwell under Elizabeth or Charles
the Second, or Cardinal de Retz when Louis XIV. governed by himself,
would have been very ordinary persons.

Had Cæsar been born in the time of Scipio Africanus he would not have
subjugated the Roman commonwealth; nor would Mahomet, could he rise
again at the present day, be more than sheriff of Mecca. But if
Archimedes and Virgil were restored, one would still be the best
mathematician, the other the best poet of his country.



If any one be desirous of obtaining a thorough knowledge of the
antiquities of Arabia, it may be presumed that he will gain no more
information than about those of Auvergne and Poitou. It is, however,
certain, that the Arabs were of some consequence long before Mahomet.
The Jews themselves say that Moses married an Arabian woman, and his
father-in-law Jethro seems to have been a man of great good sense.

Mecca is considered, and not without reason, as one of the most ancient
cities in the world. It is, indeed, a proof of its antiquity that
nothing but superstition could occasion the building of a town on such a
spot, for it is in a sandy desert, where the water is brackish, so that
the people die of hunger and thirst. The country a few miles to the east
is the most delightful upon earth, the best watered and the most
fertile. There the Arabs should have built, and not at Mecca. But it was
enough for some charlatan, some false prophet, to give out his reveries,
to make of Mecca a sacred spot and the resort of neighboring nations.
Thus it was that the temple of Jupiter Ammon was built in the midst of
sands. Arabia extends from northeast to southwest, from the desert of
Jerusalem to Aden or Eden, about the fiftieth degree of north latitude.
It is an immense country, about three times as large as Germany. It is
very likely that its deserts of sand were brought thither by the waters
of the ocean, and that its marine gulfs were once fertile lands.

The belief in this nation's antiquity is favored by the circumstance
that no historian speaks of its having been subjugated. It was not
subdued even by Alexander, nor by any king of Syria, nor by the Romans.
The Arabs, on the contrary, subjugated a hundred nations, from the Indus
to the Garonne; and, having afterwards lost their conquests, they
retired into their own country and did not mix with any other people.

Having never been subject to nor mixed with other nations it is more
than probable that they have preserved their manners and their language.
Indeed, Arabic is, in some sense, the mother tongue of all Asia as far
as the Indus; or rather, the prevailing tongue, for mother tongues have
never existed. Their genius has never changed. They still compose their
"Nights' Entertainments," as they did when they imagined one Bac or
Bacchus, who passed through the Red Sea with three millions of men,
women, and children; who stopped the sun and moon, and made streams of
wine issue forth with a blow of his rod, which, when he chose, he
changed into a serpent.

A nation so isolated, and whose blood remains unmixed, cannot change its
character. The Arabs of the desert have always been given to robbery,
and those inhabiting the towns been fond of fables, poetry, and
astronomy. It is said, in the historical preface to the Koran, that when
any one of their tribes had a good poet the other tribes never failed to
send deputies to that one on which God had vouchsafed to bestow so great
a gift.

The tribes assembled every year, by representatives, in an open place
named Ocad, where verses were recited, nearly in the same way as is now
done at Rome in the garden of the academy of the Arcadii, and this
custom continued until the time of Mahomet. In his time, each one posted
his verses on the door of the temple of Mecca. Labid, son of Rabia, was
regarded as the Homer of Mecca; but, having seen the second chapter of
the Koran, which Mahomet had posted, he fell on his knees before him,
and said, "O Mahomet, son of Abdallah, son of Motalib, son of Achem,
thou art a greater poet than I--thou art doubtless the prophet of God."

The Arabs of Maden, Naïd, and Sanaa were no less generous than those of
the desert were addicted to plunder. Among them, one friend was
dishonored if he had refused his assistance to another. In their
collection of verses, entitled _"Tograid",_ it is related that, "one
day, in the temple of Mecca, three Arabs were disputing on generosity
and friendship, and could not agree as to which, among those who then
set the greatest examples of these virtues, deserved the preference.
Some were for Abdallah, son of Giafar, uncle to Mahomet; others for
Kais, son of Saad; and others for Arabad, of the tribe of As. After a
long dispute they agreed to send a friend of Abdallah to him, a friend
of Kais to Kais, and a friend of Arabad to Arabad, to try them all
three, and to come and make their report to the assembly.

"Then the friend of Abdallah went and said to him, 'Son of the uncle of
Mahomet, I am on a journey and am destitute of everything.' Abdallah was
mounted on his camel loaded with gold and silk; he dismounted with all
speed, gave him his camel, and returned home on foot.

"The second went and made application to his friend Kais, son of Saad.
Kais was still asleep, and one of his domestics asked the traveller what
he wanted. The traveller answered that he was the friend of Kais, and
needed his assistance. The domestic said to him, 'I will not wake my
master; but here are seven thousand pieces of gold, which are all that
we at present have in the house. Take also a camel from the stable, and
a slave; these will, I think, be sufficient for you until you reach your
own house.' When Kais awoke, he chid the domestic for not having given

"The third repaired to his friend Arabad, of the tribe of As. Arabad was
blind, and was coming out of his house, leaning on two slaves, to pray
to God in the temple of Mecca. As soon as he heard his friend's voice,
he said to him, 'I possess nothing but my two slaves; I beg that you
will take and sell them; I will go to the temple as well as I can, with
my stick.'

"The three disputants, having returned to the assembly, faithfully
related what had happened. Many praises were bestowed on Abdallah, son
of Giafar--on Kais, son of Saad--and on Arabad, of the tribe of As, but
the preference was given to Arabad."

The Arabs have several tales of this kind, but our western nations have
none. Our romances are not in this taste. We have, indeed, several which
turn upon trick alone, as those of Boccaccio, _"Guzman d'Alfarache,"_
"Gil Bias," etc.

_On Job, the Arab._

It is clear that the Arabs at least possessed noble and exalted ideas.
Those who are most conversant with the oriental languages think that the
Book of Job, which is of the highest antiquity, was composed by an Arab
of Idumaea. The most clear and indubitable proof is that the Hebrew
translator has left in his translation more than a hundred Arabic words,
which, apparently, he did not understand.

Job, the hero of the piece, could not be a Hebrew, for he says, in the
forty-second chapter, that having been restored to his former
circumstances, he divided his possessions equally among his sons and
daughters, which is directly contrary to the Hebrew law.

It is most likely that, if this book had been composed after the period
at which we place Moses, the author--who speaks of so many things and is
not sparing of examples--would have mentioned some one of the
astonishing prodigies worked by Moses, which were, doubtless, known to
all the nations of Asia.

In the very first chapter Satan appears before God and asks permission
to tempt Job. _Satan_ was unknown in the Pentateuch; it was a Chaldæan
word; a fresh proof that the Arabian author was in the neighborhood of

It has been thought that he might be a Jew because the Hebrew
translator has put Jehovah instead of El, or Bel, or Sadai. But what man
of the least information does not know that the word Jehovah was common
to the Phœnicians, the Syrians, the Egyptians, and every people of
the neighboring countries?

A yet stronger proof--one to which there is no reply--is the knowledge
of astronomy which appears in the Book of Job. Mention is here made of
the constellations which we call Arcturus, Orion, the Pleiades, and even
of those of "the chambers of the south." Now, the Hebrews had no
knowledge of the sphere; they had not even a term to express astronomy;
but the Arabs, like the Chaldæans, have always been famed for their
skill in this science.

It does, then, seem to be thoroughly proved that the Book of Job cannot
have been written by a Jew, and that it was anterior to all the Jewish
books, Philo and Josephus were too prudent to count it among those of
the Hebrew canon. It is incontestably an Arabian parable or allegory.

This is not all. We derive from it some knowledge of the customs of the
ancient world, and especially of Arabia. Here we read of trading with
the Indies; a commerce which the Arabs have in all ages carried on, but
which the Jews never even heard of.

Here, too, we see that the art of writing was in great cultivation, and
that they already made great books.

It cannot be denied that the commentator Calmet, profound as he is,
violates all the rules of logic in pretending that Job announces the
immortality of the soul and the resurrection of the body, when he says:

"For I know that my Redeemer liveth. And though after my skin--worms
destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God. But ye should say,
Why persecute we him?--seeing the root of the matter is found in me. Be
ye afraid of the sword; for wrath bringeth the punishment of the sword,
that ye may know there is a judgment."

Can anything be understood by those words, other than his hope of being
cured? The immortality of the soul, and the resurrection of the body at
the last day, are truths so indubitably announced in the New Testament,
and so clearly proved by the fathers and the councils, that there is no
need to attribute the first knowledge of them to an Arab. These great
mysteries are not explained in any passage of the Hebrew Pentateuch; how
then can they be explained in a single verse of Job and that in so
obscure a manner? Calmet has no better reason for seeing in the words of
Job the immortality of the soul, and the general resurrection, than he
would have for discovering a disgraceful disease in the malady with
which he was afflicted. Neither physics nor logic take the part of this

As for this allegorical Book of Job: it being manifestly Arabian, we are
at liberty to say that it has neither justness, method, nor precision.
Yet it is perhaps the most ancient book that has been written, and the
most valuable monument that has been found on this side the Euphrates.


This is a mountain of Armenia, on which the ark rested. The question has
long been agitated, whether the deluge was universal--whether it
inundated the whole earth without exception, or only the portion of the
earth which was then known. Those who have thought that it extended only
to the tribes then existing, have founded their opinion on the inutility
of flooding unpeopled lands, which reason seems very plausible. As for
us, we abide by the Scripture text, without pretending to explain it.
But we shall take greater liberty with Berosus, an ancient Chaldæan
writer, of whom there are fragments preserved by Abydenus, quoted by
Eusebius, and repeated word for word by George Syncellus. From these
fragments we find that the Orientals of the borders of the Euxine, in
ancient times, made Armenia the abode of their gods. In this they were
imitated by the Greeks, who placed their deities on Mount Olympus. Men
have always confounded human with divine things. Princes built their
citadels on mountains; therefore they were also made the dwelling place
of the gods, and became sacred. The summit of Mount Ararat is concealed
by mists; therefore the gods hid themselves in those mists, sometimes
vouchsafing to appear to mortals in fine weather.

A god of that country, believed to have been Saturn, appeared one day to
Xixuter, tenth king of Chaldæa, according to the computation of
Africanus, Abydenus, and Apollodorus, and said to him:

"On the fifteenth day of the month Oesi, mankind shall be destroyed by a
deluge. Shut up close all your writings in Sipara, the city of the sun,
that the memory of things may not be lost. Build a vessel; enter it with
your relatives and friends; take with you birds and beasts; stock it
with provisions, and, when you are asked, 'Whither are you going in that
vessel?' answer, 'To the gods, to beg their favor for mankind.'"

Xixuter built his vessel, which was two stadii wide, and five long; that
it, its width was two hundred and fifty geometrical paces, and its
length six hundred and twenty-five. This ship, which was to go upon the
Black Sea, was a slow sailer. The flood came. When it had ceased Xixuter
let some of his birds fly out, but, finding nothing to eat, they
returned to the vessel. A few days afterwards he again set some of his
birds at liberty, and they returned with mud in their claws. At last
they went and returned no more. Xixuter did likewise: he quitted his
ship, which had perched upon a mountain of Armenia, and he was seen no
more; the gods took him away.

There is probably something historic in this fable. The Euxine
overflowed its banks, and inundated some portions of territory, and the
king of Chaldæa hastened to repair the damage. We have in Rabelais tales
no less ridiculous, founded on some small portion of truth. The ancient
historians are, for the most part, serious Rabelais.

As for Mount Ararat, it has been asserted that it was one of the
mountains of Phrygia, and that it was called by a name answering that of
ark, because it was enclosed by three rivers.

There are thirty opinions respecting this mountain. How shall we
distinguish the true one? That which the monks now call Ararat, was,
they say, one of the limits of the terrestrial paradise--a paradise of
which we find but few traces. It is a collection of rocks and
precipices, covered with eternal snows. Tournefort went thither by order
of Louis XIV. to seek for plants. He says that the whole neighborhood is
horrible, and the mountain itself still more so; that he found snow four
feet thick, and quite crystallized, and that there are perpendicular
precipices on every side.

The Dutch traveller, John Struys, pretends that he went thither also. He
tells us that he ascended to the very top, to cure a hermit afflicted
with a rupture.

"His hermitage," says he, "was so distant from the earth that we did not
reach it until the close of the seventh day, though each day we went
five leagues." If, in this journey, he was constantly ascending, this
Mount Ararat must be thirty-five leagues high. In the time of the
Giants' war, a few Ararats piled one upon another would have made the
ascent to the moon quite easy. John Struys, moreover, assures us that
the hermit whom he cured presented him with a cross made of the wood of
Noah's ark. Tournefort had not this advantage.


The great theological disputes, for twelve hundred years, were all
Greek. What would Homer, Sophocles, Demosthenes, Archimedes, have said,
had they witnessed the subtle cavillings which have cost so much blood.

Arius has, even at this day, the honor of being regarded as the inventor
of his opinion, as Calvin is considered to have been the founder of
Calvinism. The pride in being the head of a sect is the second of this
world's vanities; for that of conquest is said to be the first. However,
it is certain that neither Arius nor Calvin is entitled to the
melancholy glory of invention. The quarrel about the Trinity existed
long before Arius took part in it, in the disputatious town of
Alexandria, where it had been beyond the power of Euclid to make men
think calmly and justly. There never was a people more frivolous than
the Alexandrians; in this respect they far exceeded even the Parisians.

There must already have been warm disputes about the Trinity; since the
patriarch, who composed the "Alexandrian Chronicle," preserved at
Oxford, assures us that the party embraced by Arius was supported by two
thousand priests.

We will here, for the reader's convenience, give what is said of Arius
in a small book which every one may not have at hand: Here is an
incomprehensible question, which, for more than sixteen hundred years,
has furnished exercise for curiosity, for sophistic subtlety, for
animosity, for the spirit of cabal, for the fury of dominion, for the
rage of persecution, for blind and sanguinary fanaticism, for barbarous
credulity, and which has produced more horrors than the ambition of
princes, which ambition has occasioned very many. Is Jesus the Word? If
He be the Word, did He emanate from God in time or before time? If He
emanated from God, is He coeternal and consubstantial with Him, or is He
of a similar substance? Is He distinct from Him, or is He not? Is He
made or begotten? Can He beget in his turn? Has He paternity? or
productive virtue without paternity? Is the Holy Ghost made? or
begotten? or produced? or proceeding from the Father? or proceeding from
the Son? or proceeding from both? Can He beget? can He produce? is His
hypostasis consubstantial with the hypostasis of the Father and the Son?
and how is it that, having the same nature--the same essence as the
Father and the Son, He cannot do the same things done by these persons
who are Himself?

These questions, so far above reason, certainly needed the decision of
an infallible church. The Christians sophisticated, cavilled, hated, and
excommunicated one another, for some of these dogmas inaccessible to
human intellect, before the time of Arius and Athanasius. The Egyptian
Greeks were remarkably clever; they would split a hair into four, but on
this occasion they split it only into three. Alexandros, bishop of
Alexandria, thought proper to preach that God, being necessarily
individual--single--a monad in the strictest sense of the word, this
monad is triune.

The priest Arius, whom we call Arius, was quite scandalized by
Alexandros's monad, and explained the thing in quite a different way. He
cavilled in part like the priest Sabellius, who had cavilled like the
Phrygian Praxeas, who was a great caviller. Alexandros quickly assembled
a small council of those of his own opinion, and excommunicated his
priest. Eusebius, bishop of Nicomedia, took the part of Arius. Thus the
whole Church was in a flame.

The Emperor Constantine was a villain; I confess it--a parricide, who
had smothered his wife in a bath, cut his son's throat, assassinated his
father-in-law, his brother-in-law, and his nephew; I cannot deny it--a
man puffed up with pride and immersed in pleasure; granted--a detestable
tyrant, like his children; _transeat_--but he was a man of sense. He
would not have obtained the empire, and subdued all his rivals, had he
not reasoned justly.

When he saw the flames of civil war lighted among the scholastic brains,
he sent the celebrated Bishop Osius with dissuasive letters to the two
belligerent parties. "You are great fools," he expressly tells them in
this letter, "to quarrel about things which you do not understand. It is
unworthy the gravity of your ministry to make so much noise about so
trifling a matter."

By "so trifling a matter," Constantine meant not what regards the
Divinity, but the incomprehensible manner in which they were striving to
explain the nature of the Divinity. The Arabian patriarch, who wrote the
history of the Church of Alexandria, makes Osius, on presenting the
emperor's letter, speak in nearly the following words:

"My brethren, Christianity is just beginning to enjoy the blessings of
peace, and you would plunge it into eternal discord. The emperor has but
too much reason to tell you that you quarrel about a very trifling
matter. Certainly, had the object of the dispute been essential, Jesus
Christ, whom we all acknowledge as our legislator, would have mentioned
it. God would not have sent His Son on earth, to return without teaching
us our catechism. Whatever He has not expressly told us is the work of
men and error is their portion. Jesus has commanded you to love one
another, and you begin by hating one another and stirring up discord in
the empire. Pride alone has given birth to these disputes, and Jesus,
your Master, has commanded you to be humble. Not one among you can know
whether Jesus is made or begotten. And in what does His nature concern
you, provided your own is to be just and reasonable? What has the vain
science of words to do with the morality which should guide your
actions? You cloud our doctrines with mysteries--you, who were designed
to strengthen religion by your virtues. Would you leave the Christian
religion a mass of sophistry? Did Christ come for this? Cease to
dispute, humble yourselves, edify one another, clothe the naked, feed
the hungry, and pacify the quarrels of families, instead of giving
scandal to the whole empire by your dissensions."

But Osius addressed an obstinate audience. The Council of Nice was
assembled and the Roman Empire was torn by a spiritual civil war. This
war brought on others and mutual persecution has continued from age to
age, unto this day.

The melancholy part of the affair was that as soon as the council was
ended the persecution began; but Constantine, when he opened it, did not
yet know how he should act, nor upon whom the persecution should fall.
He was not a Christian, though he was at the head of the Christians.
Baptism alone then constituted Christianity, and he had not been
baptized; he had even rebuilt the Temple of Concord at Rome. It was,
doubtless, perfectly indifferent to him whether Alexander of Alexandria,
or Eusebius of Nicomedia, and the priest Arius, were right or wrong; it
is quite evident, from the letter given above, that he had a profound
contempt for the dispute.

But there happened that which always happens and always will happen in
every court. The enemies of those who were afterwards named Arians
accused Eusebius of Nicomedia of having formerly taken part with
Licinius against the emperor. "_I_ have proofs of it," said Constantine
in his letter to the Church of Nicomedia, "from the priests and deacons
in his train whom I have taken," etc.

Thus, from the time of the first great council, intrigue, cabal, and
persecution were established, together with the tenets of the Church,
without the power to derogate from their sanctity. Constantine gave the
chapels of those who did not believe in the consubstantiality to those
who did believe in it; confiscated the property of the dissenters to his
own profit, and used his despotic power to exile Arius and his
partisans, who were not then the strongest. It has even been said that
of his own private authority he condemned to death whosoever should not
burn the writings of Arius; but this is not true. Constantine, prodigal
as he was of human blood, did not carry his cruelty to so mad and absurd
an excess as to order his executioners to assassinate the man who should
keep an heretical book, while he suffered the heresiarch to live.

At court everything soon changes. Several non-consubstantial bishops,
with some of the eunuchs and the women, spoke in favor of Arius, and
obtained the reversal of the _lettre de cachet_. The same thing has
repeatedly happened in our modern courts on similar occasions.

The celebrated Eusebius, bishop of Cæsarea, known by his writings, which
evince no great discernment, strongly accused Eustatius, bishop of
Antioch, of being a Sabellian; and Eustatius accused Eusebius of being
an Arian. A council was assembled at Antioch; Eusebius gained his cause;
Eustatius was displaced; and the See of Antioch was offered to Eusebius,
who would not accept it; the two parties armed against each other, and
this was the prelude to controversial warfare. Constantine, who had
banished Arius for not believing in the consubstantial Son, now banished
Eustatius for believing in Him; nor are such revolutions uncommon.

St. Athanasius was then bishop of Alexandria. He would not admit Arius,
whom the emperor had sent thither, into the town, saying that "Arius was
excommunicated; that an excommunicated man ought no longer to have
either home or country; that he could neither eat nor sleep anywhere;
and that it was better to obey God than man." A new council was
forthwith held at Tyre, and new _lettres de cachet_ were issued.
Athanasius was removed by the Tyrian fathers and banished to Trèves.
Thus Arius, and Athanasius, his greatest enemy, were condemned in turn
by a man who was not yet a Christian:

The two factions alike employed artifice, fraud, and calumny, according
to the old and eternal usage. Constantine left them to dispute and
cabal, for he had other occupations. It was at that time that this _good
prince_ assassinated his son, his wife, and his nephew, the young
Licinius, the hope of the empire, who was not yet twelve years old.

Under Constantine, Arius' party was constantly victorious. The opposite
party has unblushingly written that one day St. Macarius, one of the
most ardent followers of Athanasius, knowing that Arius was on the way
to the cathedral of Constantinople, followed by several of his brethren,
prayed so ardently to God to confound this heresiarch that God could not
resist the prayer; and immediately all Arius' bowels passed through his
fundament--which is impossible. But at length Arius died.

Constantine followed him a year afterwards, and it is said he died of
leprosy. Julian, in his "Cæsars," says that baptism, which this emperor
received a few hours before his death, cured no one of this distemper.

As his children reigned after him the flattery of the Roman people, who
had long been slaves, was carried to such an excess that those of the
old religion made him a god, and those of the new made him a saint. His
feast was long kept, together with that of his mother.

After his death, the troubles caused by the single word "consubstantial"
agitated the empire with renewed violence. Constantius, son and
successor to Constantine, imitated all his father's cruelties, and,
like him, held councils--which councils anathematized one another.
Athanasius went over all Europe and Asia to support his party, but the
Eusebians overwhelmed him. Banishment, imprisonment, tumult, murder, and
assassination signalized the close of the reign of Constantius. Julian,
the Church's mortal enemy, did his utmost to restore peace to the
Church, but was unsuccessful. Jovian, and after him Valentinian, gave
entire liberty of conscience, but the two parties accepted it only as
the liberty to exercise their hatred and their fury.

Theodosius declared for the Council of Nice, but the Empress Justina,
who reigned in Italy, Illyria, and Africa, as guardian of the young
Valentinian, proscribed the great Council of Nice; and soon after the
Goths, Vandals, and Burgundians, who spread themselves over so many
provinces, finding Arianism established in them, embraced it in order to
govern the conquered nations by the religion of those nations.

But the Nicæan faith having been received by the Gauls, their conqueror,
Clovis, followed that communion for the very same reason that the other
barbarians had professed the faith of Arius.

In Italy, the great Theodoric kept peace between the two parties, and at
last the Nicæan formula prevailed in the east and in the west. Arianism
reappeared about the middle of the sixteenth century, favored by the
religious disputes which then divided Europe; and it reappeared, armed
with new strength and a still greater incredulity. Forty gentlemen of
Vicenza formed an academy, in which such tenets only were established as
appeared necessary to make men Christians. Jesus was acknowledged as the
Word, as Saviour, and as Judge; but His divinity, His consubstantiality,
and even the Trinity, were denied.

Of these dogmatizers, the principal were Lælius Socinus, Ochin, Pazuta,
and Gentilis, who were joined by Servetus. The unfortunate dispute of
the latter with Calvin is well known; they carried on for some time an
interchange of abuse by letter. Servetus was so imprudent as to pass
through Geneva, on his way to Germany. Calvin was cowardly enough to
have him arrested, and barbarous enough to have him condemned to be
roasted by a slow fire--the same punishment which Calvin himself had
narrowly escaped in France. Nearly all the theologians of that time were
by turns persecuting and persecuted, executioners and victims.

The same Calvin solicited the death of Gentilis at Geneva. He found five
advocates to subscribe that Gentilis deserved to perish in the flames.
Such horrors were worthy of that abominable age. Gentilis was put in
prison, and was on the point of being burned like Servetus, but he was
better advised than the Spaniard; he retracted, bestowed the most
ridiculous praises on Calvin, and was saved. But he had afterwards the
ill fortune, through not having made terms with a bailiff of the canton
of Berne, to be arrested as an Arian. There were witnesses who deposed
that he had said that the words _trinity, essence, hypostasis_ were not
to be found in the Scriptures, and on this deposition the judges, who
were as ignorant of the meaning of _hypostasis_ as himself, condemned
him, without at all arguing the question, to lose his head.

Faustus Socinus, nephew to Lælius Socinus, and his companions were more
fortunate in Germany. They penetrated into Silesia and Poland, founded
churches there, wrote, preached, and were successful, but at length,
their religion being divested of almost every mystery, and a
philosophical and peaceful, rather than a militant sect, they were
abandoned; and the Jesuits, who had more influence, persecuted and
dispersed them.

The remains of this sect in Poland, Germany, and Holland keep quiet and
concealed; but in England the sect has reappeared with greater strength
and éclat. The great Newton and Locke embraced it. Samuel Clarke, the
celebrated rector of St. James, and author of an excellent book on the
existence of God, openly declared himself an Arian, and his disciples
are very numerous. He would never attend his parish church on the day
when the Athanasian Creed was recited. In the course of this work will
be seen the subtleties which all these obstinate persons, who were not
so much Christians as philosophers, opposed to the purity of the
Catholic faith.

Although among the theologians of London there was a large flock of
Arians, the public mind there has been more occupied by the great
mathematical truths discovered by Newton, and the metaphysical wisdom of
Locke. Disputes on consubstantiality appear very dull to philosophers.
The same thing happened to Newton in England as to Corneille in France,
whose _"Pertharite,"_ "_Théodore,_" and _"Recueil de Vers"_ were
forgotten, while _"Cinna"_ was alone thought of. Newton was looked upon
as God's interpreter, in the calculation of fluxions, the laws of
gravitation, and the nature of light. On his death, his pall was borne
by the peers and the chancellor of the realm, and his remains were laid
near the tombs of the kings--than whom he is more revered. Servetus, who
is said to have discovered the circulation of the blood, was roasted by
a slow fire, in a little town of the Allobroges, ruled by a theologian
of Picardy.


Shall men forever be deceived in the most indifferent as well as the
most serious things? A pretended Aristeas would make us believe that he
had the Old Testament translated into Greek for the use of Ptolemy
Philadelphus--just as the Duke de Montausier had commentaries written on
the best Latin authors for the dauphin, who made no use of them.

According to this Aristeas, Ptolemy, burning with desire to be
acquainted with the Jewish books, and to know those laws which the
meanest Jew in Alexandria could have translated for fifty crowns,
determined to send a solemn embassy to the high-priest of the Jews of
Jerusalem; to deliver a hundred and twenty thousand Jewish slaves, whom
his father, Ptolemy Soter, had made prisoners in Judæa, and in order to
assist them in performing the journey agreeably, to give them about
forty crowns each of our money--amounting in the whole to fourteen
millions four hundred thousand of our livres, or about five hundred and
seventy-six thousand pounds.

Ptolemy did not content himself with this unheard-of liberality. He sent
to the temple a large table of massive gold, enriched all over with
precious stones, and had engraved upon it a chart of the Meander, a
river of Phrygia, the course of which river was marked with rubies and
emeralds. It is obvious how charming such a chart of the Meander must
have been to the Jews. This table was loaded with two immense golden
vases, still more richly worked. He also gave thirty other golden and an
infinite number of silver vases. Never was a book so dearly paid for;
the whole Vatican library might be had for a less amount.

Eleazar, the pretended high-priest of Jerusalem, sent ambassadors in his
turn, who presented only a letter written upon fine vellum in characters
of gold. It was an act worthy of the Jews, to give a bit of parchment
for about thirty millions of livres. Ptolemy was so much delighted with
Eleazar's style that he shed tears of joy.

The ambassador dined with the king and the chief priests of Egypt. When
grace was to be said, the Egyptians yielded the honor to the Jews. With
these ambassadors came seventy-two interpreters, six from each of the
twelve tribes, who had all learned Greek perfectly at Jerusalem. It is
really a pity that of these twelve tribes ten were entirely lost, and
had disappeared from the face of the earth so many ages before; but
Eleazar, the high-priest, found them again, on purpose to send
translators to Ptolemy.

The seventy-two interpreters were shut up in the island of Pharos. Each
of them completed his translation in seventy-two days, and all the
translations were found to be word for word alike. This is called the
Septuagint or translation of the seventy, though it should have been
called the translation of the seventy-two.

As soon as the king had received these books he worshipped them--he was
so good a Jew. Each interpreter received three talents of gold, and
there were sent to the high-sacrificer--in return for his parchment--ten
couches of silver, a crown of gold, censers and cups of gold, a vase of
thirty talents of silver--that is, of the weight of about sixty thousand
crowns--with ten purple robes, and a hundred pieces of the finest linen.

Nearly all this fine story is faithfully repeated by the historian
Josephus, who never exaggerates anything. St. Justin improves upon
Josephus. He says that Ptolemy applied to King Herod, and not to the
high-priest Eleazar. He makes Ptolemy send two ambassadors to
Herod--which adds much to the marvellousness of the tale, for we know
that Herod was not born until long after the reign of Ptolemy

It is needless to point out the profusion of anachronisms in these and
all such romances, or the swarm of contradictions and enormous blunders
into which the Jewish author falls in every sentence; yet this fable was
regarded for ages as an incontestable truth; and, the better to exercise
the credulity of the human mind, every writer who repeated it added or
retrenched in his own way, so that, to believe it all, it was necessary
to believe it in a hundred different ways. Some smile at these
absurdities which whole nations have swallowed, while others sigh over
the imposture. The infinite diversity of these falsehoods multiplies the
followers of Democritus and Heraclitus.


It is not to be believed that Alexander's preceptor, chosen by Philip,
was wrong-headed and pedantic. Philip was assuredly a judge, being
himself well informed, and the rival of Demosthenes in eloquence.

_Aristotle's Logic._

Aristotle's logic--his art of reasoning--is so much the more to be
esteemed as he had to deal with the Greeks, who were continually holding
captious arguments, from which fault his master Plato was even less
exempt than others.

Take, for example, the article by which, in the _"Phædon"_ Plato proves
the immortality of the soul:

"Do you not say that death is the opposite of life? Yes. And that they
spring from each other? Yes. What, then, is it that springs from the
living? The dead. And what from the dead? The living. It is, then, from
the dead that all living creatures arise. Consequently, souls exist
after death in the infernal regions."

Sure and unerring rules were wanted to unravel this extraordinary
nonsense, which, through Plato's reputation, fascinated the minds of
men. It was necessary to show that Plato gave a loose meaning to all his

Death does not spring from life, but the living man ceases to live. The
living springs not from the dead, but from a living man who subsequently
dies. Consequently, the conclusion that all living things spring from
dead ones is ridiculous.

From this conclusion you draw another, which is no way included in the
premises, that souls are in the infernal regions after death. It should
first have been proved that dead bodies are in the infernal regions, and
that the souls accompany them.

There is not a correct word in your argument. You should have said--That
which thinks has no parts; that which has no parts is indestructible:
therefore, the thinking faculty in us, having no parts, is
indestructible. Or--the body dies because it is divisible; the soul is
indivisible; therefore it does not die. Then you would at least have
been understood.

It is the same with all the captious reasonings of the Greeks. A master
taught rhetoric to his disciple on condition that he should pay him
after the first cause that he gained. The disciple intended never to pay
him. He commenced an action against his master, saying: "I will never
pay you anything, for, if I lose my cause I was not to pay you until I
had gained it, and if I gain it my demand is that I may not pay you."

The master retorted, saying: "If you lose you must pay; if you gain you
must also pay; for our bargain is that you shall pay me after the first
cause that you have gained."

It is evident that all this turns on an ambiguity. Aristotle teaches how
to remove it, by putting the necessary terms in the argument:

A sum is not due until the day appointed for its payment. The day
appointed is that when a cause shall have been gained. No cause has yet
been gained. Therefore the day appointed has not yet arrived. Therefore
the disciple does not yet owe anything.

But _not yet_ does not mean _never_. So that the disciple instituted a
ridiculous action. The master, too, had no right to demand anything,
since the day appointed had not arrived. He must wait until the disciple
had pleaded some other cause.

Suppose a conquering people were to stipulate that they would restore to
the conquered only one-half of their ships; then, having sawed them in
two, and having thus given back the exact half, were to pretend that
they had fulfilled the treaty. It is evident that this would be a very
criminal equivocation.

Aristotle did, then, render a great service to mankind by preventing all
ambiguity; for this it is which causes all misunderstandings in
philosophy, in theology, and in public affairs. The pretext for the
unfortunate war of 1756 was an equivocation respecting Acadia.

It is true that natural good sense, combined with the habit of
reasoning, may dispense with Aristotle's rules. A man who has a good ear
and voice may sing well without musical rules, but it is better to know

_His Physics._

They are but little understood, but it is more than probable that
Aristotle understood himself, and was understood in his own time. We are
strangers to the language of the Greeks; we do not attach to the same
words the same ideas.

For instance, when he says, in his seventh chapter, that the principles
of bodies are matter, privation, and form, he seems to talk egregious
nonsense; but such is not the case. Matter, with him, is the first
principle of everything--the subject of everything--indifferent to
everything. Form is essential to its becoming any certain thing.
Privation is that which distinguishes any being from all those things
which are not in it. Matter may, indifferently, become a rose or an
apple; but, when it is an apple or a rose it is deprived of all that
would make it silver or lead. Perhaps this truth was not worth the
trouble of repeating; but we have nothing here but what is quite
intelligible, and nothing at all impertinent.

The "act of that which is in power" also seems a ridiculous phrase,
though it is no more so than the one just noticed. Matter may become
whatever you will--fire, earth, water, vapor, metal, mineral, animal,
tree, flower. This is all that is meant by the expression, _act in
power_. So that there was nothing ridiculous to the Greeks in saying
that motion was an act of power, since matter may be moved; and it is
very likely that Aristotle understood thereby that motion was not
essential to matter.

Aristotle's physics must necessarily have been very bad in detail. This
was common to all philosophers until the time when the Galileos, the
Torricellis, the Guerickes, the Drebels, and the Academy del Cimento
began to make experiments. Natural philosophy is a mine which cannot be
explored without instruments that were unknown to the ancients. They
remained on the brink of the abyss, and reasoned upon without seeing its

_Aristotle's Treatise on Animals._

His researches relative to animals formed, on the contrary, the best
book of antiquity, because here Aristotle made use of his eyes.
Alexander furnished him with all the rare animals of Europe, Asia, and
Africa. This was one fruit of his conquests. In this way that hero spent
immense sums, which at this day would terrify all the guardians of the
royal treasury, and which should immortalize Alexander's glory, of which
we have already spoken.

At the present day a hero, when he has the misfortune to make war, can
scarcely give any encouragement to the sciences; he must borrow money of
a Jew, and consult other Jews in order to make the substance of his
subjects flow into his coffer of the Danaides, whence it escapes through
a thousand openings. Alexander sent to Aristotle elephants,
rhinoceroses, tigers, lions, crocodiles, gazelles, eagles, ostriches,
etc.; and we, when by chance a rare animal is brought to our fairs, go
and admire it for sixpence, and it dies before we know anything about

_Of the Eternal World._

Aristotle expressly maintains, in his book on heaven, chap, xi., that
the world is eternal. This was the opinion of all antiquity, excepting
the Epicureans. He admitted a God--a first mover--and defined Him to be
"one, eternal, immovable, indivisible, without qualities."

He must, therefore, have regarded the world as emanating from God, as
the light emanates from the sun, and is co-existent with it. About the
celestial spheres he was as ignorant as all the rest of the
philosophers. Copernicus was not yet come.

_His Metaphysics._

God being the first mover, He gives motion to the soul. But what is God,
and what is the soul, according to him? The soul is an _entelechia_. "It
is," says he, "a principle and an act--a nourishing, feeling, and
reasoning power." This can only mean that we have the faculties of
nourishing ourselves, of feeling, and of reasoning. The Greeks no more
knew what an _entelechia_ was than do the South Sea islanders; nor have
our doctors any more knowledge of what a soul is.

_His Morals._

Aristotle's morals, like all others, are good, for there are not two
systems of morality. Those of Confucius, of Zoroaster, of Pythagoras, of
Aristotle, of Epictetus, of Antoninus, are absolutely the same. God has
placed in every breast the knowledge of good, with some inclination for

Aristotle says that to be virtuous three things are necessary--nature,
reason, and habit; and nothing is more true. Without a good disposition,
virtue is too difficult; reason strengthens it; and habit renders good
actions as familiar as a daily exercise to which one is accustomed.

He enumerates all the virtues, and does not fail to place friendship
among them. He distinguishes friendship between equals, between
relatives, between guests, and between lovers. Friendship springing from
the rights of hospitality is no longer known among us. That which, among
the ancients, was the sacred bond of society is, with us, nothing but an
innkeeper's reckoning; and as for lovers, it is very rarely nowadays
that virtue has anything to do with love. We think we owe nothing to a
woman to whom we have a thousand times promised everything.

It is a melancholy reflection that our first thinkers have never ranked
friendship among the virtues--have rarely recommended friendship; but,
on the contrary, have often seemed to breathe enmity, like tyrants, who
dread all associations.

It is, moreover, with very good reason that Aristotle places all the
virtues between the two extremes. He was, perhaps, the first who
assigned them this place. He expressly says that piety is the medium
between atheism and superstition.

_His Rhetoric._

It was probably his rules for rhetoric and poetry that Cicero and
Quintilian had in view. Cicero, in his "Orator" says that "no one had
more science, sagacity, invention, or judgment." Quintilian goes so far
as to praise, not only the extent of his knowledge, but also the suavity
of his elocution--_suavitatem eloquendi._

Aristotle would have an orator well informed respecting laws, finances,
treaties, fortresses, garrisons, provisions, and merchandise. The
orators in the parliaments of England, the diets of Poland, the states
of Sweden, the _pregadi_ of Venice, etc., would not find these lessons
of Aristotle unprofitable; to other nations, perhaps, they would be so.
He would have his orator know the passions and manners of men, and the
humors of every condition.

I think there is not a single nicety of the art which has escaped him.
He particularly commends the citing of instances where public affairs
are spoken of; nothing has so great an effect on the minds of men.

What he says on this subject proves that he wrote his "Rhetoric" long
before Alexander was appointed captain-general of the Greeks against the
great king.

"If," says he, "any one had to prove to the Greeks that it is to their
interest to oppose the enterprises of the king of Persia, and to prevent
him from making himself master of Egypt, he should first remind them
that Darius Ochus would not attack Greece until Egypt was in his power;
he should remark that Xerxes had pursued the same course; he should add
that it was not to be doubted that Darius Codomannus would do the same;
and that, therefore, they must not suffer him to take possession of

He even permits, in speeches delivered to great assemblies, the
introduction of parables and fables; they always strike the multitude.
He relates some ingenious ones, which are of the highest antiquity, as
the horse that implored the assistance of man to avenge himself on the
stag, and became a slave through having sought a protector.

It may be remarked that, in the second book, where he treats of arguing
from the greater to the less, he gives an example which plainly shows
what was the opinion of Greece, and probably of Asia, respecting the
extent of the power of the gods.

"If," says he, "it be true that the gods themselves, enlightened as they
are, cannot know everything, much less can men." This passage clearly
proves that omniscience was not then attributed to the Divinity. It was
conceived that the gods could not know what was not; the future was not,
therefore it seemed impossible that they should know it. This is the
opinion of the Socinians at the present day.

But to return to Aristotle's "Rhetoric." What I shall chiefly remark on
in his book on elocution and diction is the good sense with which he
condemns those who would be poets in prose. He would have pathos, but he
banishes bombast, and proscribes useless epithets. Indeed, Demosthenes
and Cicero, who followed his precepts, never affected the poetic style
in their speeches. "The style," says Aristotle, "must always be
conformable to the subject."

Nothing can be more misplaced than to speak of physics poetically, and
lavish figure and ornament where there should be only method, clearness,
and truth. It is the quackery of a man who would pass off false systems
under cover of an empty noise of words. Weak minds are caught by the
bait, and strong minds disdain it.

Among us the funeral oration has taken possession of the poetic style in
prose; but this branch of oratory, consisting almost entirely of
exaggeration, seems privileged to borrow the ornaments of poetry.

The writers of romances have sometimes taken this licence. La Calprenède
was, I think, the first who thus transposed the limits of the arts, and
abused this facility. The author of "Telemachus" was pardoned through
consideration for Homer, whom he imitated, though he could not make
verses, and still more in consideration of his morality, in which he
infinitely surpasses Homer, who has none at all. But he owed his
popularity chiefly to the criticism on the pride of Louis XIV. and the
harshness of Louvois, which, it was thought, were discoverable in

Be this as it may, nothing can be a better proof of Aristotle's good
sense and good taste than his having assigned to everything its proper

_Aristotle on Poetry._

Where, in our modern nations, shall we find a natural philosopher, a
geometrician, a metaphysician, or even a moralist who has spoken well on
the subject of poetry? They teem with the names of Homer, Virgil,
Sophocles, Ariosto, Tasso, and so many others who have charmed the world
by the harmonious productions of their genius, but they feel not their
beauties; or if they feel them they would annihilate them.

How ridiculous is it in Pascal to say: "As we say poetical beauty, we
should likewise say geometrical beauty, and medicinal beauty. Yet we do
not say so, and the reason is that we well know what is the object of
geometry, and what is the object of medicine, but we do not know in what
the peculiar charm--which is the object of poetry--consists. We know not
what that natural model is which must be imitated; and for want of this
knowledge we have invented certain fantastic terms, as age of gold,
wonder of the age, fatal wreath, fair star, etc. And this jargon we call
poetic beauty."

The pitifulness of this passage is sufficiently obvious. We know that
there is nothing beautiful in a medicine, nor in the properties of a
triangle; and that we apply the term "beautiful" only to that which
raises admiration in our minds and gives pleasure to our senses. Thus
reasons Aristotle; and Pascal here reasons very ill. Fatal wreath, fair
star, have never been poetic beauties. If he wished to know what is
poetic beauty, he had only to read.

Nicole wrote against the stage, about which he had not a single idea;
and was seconded by one Dubois, who was as ignorant of the _belles
lettres_ as himself.

Even Montesquieu, in his amusing "Persian Letters," has the petty vanity
to think that Homer and Virgil are nothing in comparison with one who
imitates with spirit and success Dufrénoy's _"Siamois,"_ and fills his
book with bold assertions, without which it would not have been read.
"What," says he, "are epic poems? I know them not. I despise the lyric
as much as I esteem the tragic poets." He should not, however, have
despised Pindar and Horace quite so much. Aristotle did not despise

Descartes did, it is true, write for Queen Christina a little
_divertissement_ in verse, which was quite worthy of his _matière

Malebranche could not distinguish Corneille's _"Qu'il mourût"_ from a
line of Jodèle's or Garnier's.

What a man, then, was Aristotle, who traced the rules of tragedy with
the same hand with which he had laid down those of dialectics, of
morals, of politics, and lifted, as far as he found it possible, the
great veil of nature!

To his fourth chapter on poetry Boileau is indebted for these fine

     _Il n'est point de serpent, ni de monstre odieux_
     _Qui, par l'art imité, ne puisse plaire aux yeux._
     _D'un pinceau délicat l'artifice agréable_
     _Du plus affreux object fait un objet aimable;_
     _Ainsi, pour nous charmer, la tragédie eut pleurs_
     _D'Œdipe tout-sanglant fit parler les douleurs._

     Each horrid shape, each object of affright,
     Nice imitation teaches to delight;
     So does the skilful painter's pleasing art
     Attractions to the darkest form impart;
     So does the tragic Muse, dissolved in tears.
     With tales of woe and sorrow charm our ears.

Aristotle says: "Imitation and harmony have produced poetry. We see
terrible animals, dead or dying men, in a picture, with
pleasure--objects which in nature would inspire us only with fear and
sorrow. The better they are imitated the more complete is our

This fourth chapter of Aristotle's reappears almost entire in Horace and
Boileau. The laws which he gives in the following chapters are at this
day those of our good writers, excepting only what relates to the
choruses and music. His idea that tragedy was instituted to purify the
passions has been warmly combated; but if he meant, as I believe he did,
that an incestuous love might be subdued by witnessing the misfortune of
Phædra, or anger be repressed by beholding the melancholy example of
Ajax, there is no longer any difficulty.

This philosopher expressly commands that there be always the heroic in
tragedy and the ridiculous in comedy. This is a rule from which it is,
perhaps, now becoming too customary to depart.


It is worthy of consideration that there have been and still are, upon
the earth societies without armies. The Brahmins, who long governed
nearly all the great Indian Chersonesus; the primitives, called Quakers,
who governed Pennsylvania; some American tribes, some in the centre of
Africa, the Samoyedes, the Laplanders, the Kamchadales, have never
marched with colors flying to destroy their neighbors.

The Brahmins were the most considerable of all these pacific nations;
their caste, which is so ancient, which is still existing, and compared
with which all other institutions are quite recent, is a prodigy which
cannot be sufficiently admired. Their religion and their policy always
concurred in abstaining from the shedding of blood, even of that of the
meanest animal. Where such is the regime, subjugation is easy; they have
been subjugated, but have not changed.

The Pennsylvanians never had an army; they always held war in

Several of the American tribes did not know what an army was until the
Spaniards came to exterminate them all. The people on the borders of the
Icy Sea are ignorant alike of armies, of the god of armies, of
battalions, and of squadrons.

Besides these populations, the priests and monks do not bear arms in
any country--at least when they observe the laws of their institution.

It is only among Christians that there have been religious societies
established for the purpose of fighting--as the Knights Templars, the
Knights of St. John, the Knights of the Teutonic Order, the Knights
Swordbearers. These religious orders were instituted in imitation of the
Levites, who fought like the rest of the Jewish tribes.

Neither armies nor arms were the same in antiquity as at present. The
Egyptians hardly ever had cavalry. It would have been of little use in a
country intersected by canals, inundated during five months of the year,
and miry during five more. The inhabitants of a great part of Asia used
chariots of war.

They are mentioned in the annals of China. Confucius says that in his
time each governor of a province furnished to the emperor a thousand war
chariots, each drawn by four horses. The Greeks and Trojans fought in
chariots drawn by two horses.

Cavalry and chariots were unknown to the Jews in a mountainous tract,
where their first king, when he was elected, had nothing but she-asses.
Thirty sons of Jair, princes of thirty cities, according to the text
(Judges, x, 4), rode each upon an ass. Saul, afterwards king of Judah,
had only she-asses; and the sons of David all fled upon mules when
Absalom had slain his brother Amnon. Absalom was mounted on a mule in
the battle which he fought against his father's troops; which proves,
according to the Jewish historians, either that mares were beginning to
be used in Palestine, or that they were already rich enough there to buy
mules from the neighboring country.

The Greeks made but little use of cavalry. It was chiefly with the
Macedonian phalanx that Alexander gained the battles which laid Persia
at his feet. It was the Roman infantry that subjugated the greater part
of the world. At the battle of Pharsalia, Cæsar had but one thousand

It is not known at what time the Indians and the Africans first began to
march elephants at the head of their armies. We cannot read without
surprise of Hannibal's elephants crossing the Alps, which were much
harder to pass then than they are now.

There have long been disputes about the disposition of the Greek and
Roman armies, their arms, and their evolutions. Each one has given his
plan of the battles of Zama and Pharsalia.

The commentator Calmet, a Benedictine, has printed three great volumes
of his "Dictionary of the Bible," in which, the better to explain God's
commandments, are inserted a hundred engravings, where you see plans of
battles and sieges in copper-plate. The God of the Jews was the God of
armies, but Calmet was not His secretary; he cannot have known, but by
revelation, how the armies of the Amalekites, the Moabites, the Syrians,
and the Philistines were arranged on the days of general murder. These
plates of carnage, designed at a venture, made his hook five or six
louis dearer, but made it no better.

It is a great question whether the Franks, whom the Jesuit Daniel calls
French by anticipation, used bows and arrows in their armies, and
whether they had helmets and cuirasses.

Supposing that they went to combat almost naked, and armed, as they are
said to have been, with only a small carpenter's ax, a sword, and a
knife, we must infer that the Romans, masters of Gaul, so easily
conquered by Clovis, had lost all their ancient valor, and that the
Gauls were as willing to be subject to a small number of Franks as to a
small number of Romans. Warlike accoutrements have since changed, as
everything else changes.

In the days of knights, squires, and varlets, the armed forces of
Germany, France, Italy, England, and Spain consisted almost entirely of
horsemen, who, as well as their horses, were covered with steel. The
infantry performed the functions rather of pioneers than of soldiers.
But the English always had good archers among their foot, which
contributed, in a great measure, to their gaining almost every battle.

Who would believe that armies nowadays do but make experiments in
natural philosophy? A soldier would be much astonished if some learned
man were to say to him:

"My friend, you are a better machinist than Archimedes. Five parts of
saltpetre, one of sulphur, and one of _carbo ligneus_ have been
separately prepared. Your saltpetre dissolved, well filtered, well
evaporated, well crystallized, well turned, well dried, has been
incorporated with the yellow purified sulphur. These two ingredients,
mixed with powdered charcoal, have, by means of a little vinegar, or
solution of sal-ammoniac, or urine, formed large balls, which balls have
been reduced _in pulverem pyrium_ by a mill. The effect of this mixture
is a dilatation, which is nearly as four thousand to unity; and the lead
in your barrel exhibits another effect, which is the product of its bulk
multiplied by its velocity.

"The first who discovered a part of this mathematical secret was a
Benedictine named Roger Bacon. The invention was perfected, in Germany,
in the fourteenth century, by another Benedictine named Schwartz. So
that you owe to two monks the art of being an excellent murderer, when
you aim well, and your powder is good.

"Du Cange has in vain pretended that, in 1338, the registers of the
_Chambre des Comptes_, at Paris, mention a bill paid for gunpowder. Do
not believe it. It was artillery which is there spoken of--a name
attached to ancient as well as to modern warlike machines.

"Gunpowder entirely superseded the Greek fire, of which the Moors still
made use. In fine, you are the depositary of an art, which not only
imitates the thunder, but is also much more terrible."

There is, however, nothing but truth in this speech. Two monks have, in
reality, changed the face of the earth.

Before cannon were known, the northern nations had subjugated nearly the
whole hemisphere, and could come again, like famishing wolves, to seize
upon the lands as their ancestors had done.

In all armies, the victory, and consequently the fate of kingdoms, was
decided by bodily strength and agility--a sort of sanguinary fury--a
desperate struggle, man to man. Intrepid men took towns by scaling their
walls. During the decline of the Roman Empire there was hardly more
discipline in the armies of the North than among carnivorous beasts
rushing on their prey.

Now a single frontier fortress would suffice to stop the armies of
Genghis or Attila. It is not long since a victorious army of Russians
were unavailably consumed before Custrin, which is nothing more than a
little fortress in a marsh.

In battle, the weakest in body may, with well-directed artillery,
prevail against the stoutest. At the battle of Fontenoy a few cannon
were sufficient to compel the retreat of the whole English column,
though it had been master of the field.

The combatants no longer close. The soldier has no longer that ardor,
that impetuosity, which is redoubled in the heat of action, when the
fight is hand to hand. Strength, skill, and even the temper of the
weapons, are useless. Rarely is a charge with the bayonet made in the
course of a war, though the bayonet is the most terrible of weapons.

In a plain, frequently surrounded by redoubts furnished with heavy
artillery, two armies advance in silence, each division taking with it
flying artillery. The first lines lire at one another and after one
another: they are victims presented in turn to the bullets. Squadrons at
the wings are often exposed to a cannonading while waiting for the
general's orders. They who first tire of this manœuvre, which gives
no scope for the display of impetuous bravery, disperse and quit the
field; and are rallied, if possible, a few miles off. The victorious
enemies besiege a town, which sometimes costs them more men, money, and
time than they would have lost by several battles. The progress made is
rarely rapid; and at the end of five or six years, both sides, being
equally exhausted, are compelled to make peace.

Thus, at all events, the invention of artillery and the new mode of
warfare have established among the respective powers an equality which
secures mankind from devastations like those of former times, and
thereby renders war less fatal in its consequences, though it is still
prodigiously so.

The Greeks in all ages, the Romans in the time of Sulla, and the other
nations of the west and south, had no standing army; every citizen was a
soldier, and enrolled himself in time of war. It is, at this day,
precisely the same in Switzerland. Go through the whole country, and
you will not find a battalion, except at the time of the reviews. If it
goes to war, you all at once see eighty thousand men in arms.

Those who usurped the supreme power after Sulla always had a permanent
force, paid with the money of the citizens, to keep the citizens in
subjection, much more than to subjugate other nations. The bishop of
Rome himself keeps a small army in his pay. Who, in the time of the
apostles, would have said that the servant of the servants of God should
have regiments, and have them in Rome?

Nothing is so much feared in England as a great standing army. The
janissaries have raised the sultans to greatness, but they have also
strangled them. The sultans would have avoided the rope, if instead of
these large bodies of troops, they had established small ones.



This article may serve to show how much the most learned men may be
deceived, and to develop some useful truths. In the _"Dictionnaire
Encyclopédique"_ there is the following passage concerning Arot and

"These are the names of two angels, who, the impostor Mahomet said, had
been sent from God to teach man, and to order him to abstain from
murder, false judgments, and excesses of every kind. This false prophet
adds that a very beautiful woman, having invited these two angels to her
table, made them drink wine, with which being heated, they solicited her
as lovers; that she feigned to yield to their passion, provided they
would first teach her the words by pronouncing which they said it was
easy to ascend to heaven; that having obtained from them what she asked,
she would not keep her promise; and that she was then taken up into
heaven, where, having related to God what had passed, she was changed
into the morning star called Lucifer or Aurora, and the angels were
severely punished. Hence it was, according to Mahomet, that God took
occasion to forbid wine to men."

It would be in vain to seek in the Koran for a single word of this
absurd story and pretended reason for Mahomet's forbidding his followers
the use of wine. He forbids it only in the second and fifth chapters.

"They will question thee about wine and strong liquors: thou shalt
answer, that it is a great sin. The just, who believe and do good works,
must not be reproached with having drunk, and played at games of chance,
before games of chance were forbidden."

It is averred by all the Mahometans that their prophet forbade wine and
liquors solely to preserve their health and prevent quarrels, in the
burning climate of Arabia. The use of any fermented liquor soon affects
the head, and may destroy both health and reason.

The fable of Arot and Marot descending from heaven, and wanting to lie
with an Arab woman, after drinking wine with her, is not in any
Mahometan author. It is to be found only among the impostures which
various Christian writers, more indiscreet than enlightened, have
printed against the Mussulman religion, through a zeal which is not
according to knowledge. The names of Arot and Marot are in no part of
the Koran. It is one Sylburgius who says, in an old book which nobody
reads, that he anathematizes the angels Arot, Marot, Safah, and Merwah.

Observe, kind reader, that Safah and Merwah are two little hills near
Mecca; so that our learned Sylburgius has taken two hills for two
angels. Thus it was with every writer on Mahometanism among us, almost
without exception, until the intelligent Reland gave us clear ideas of
the Mussulman belief, and the learned Sale, after living twenty-four
years in and about Arabia, at length enlightened us by his faithful
translation of the Koran, and his most instructive preface.

Gagnier himself, notwithstanding his Arabic professorship at Oxford, has
been pleased to put forth a few falsehoods concerning Mahomet, as if we
had need of lies to maintain the truth of our religion against a false
prophet. He gives us at full length Mahomet's journey through the seven
heavens on the mare Alborac, and even ventures to cite the fifty-third
sura or chapter; but neither in this fifty-third sura, nor in any other,
is there so much as an allusion to this pretended journey through the

This strange story is related by Abulfeda, seven hundred years after
Mahomet. It is taken, he says, from ancient manuscripts which were
current in Mahomet's time. But it is evident that they were not
Mahomet's; for, after his death, Abubeker gathered together all the
leaves of the Koran, in the presence of all the chiefs of tribes, and
nothing was inserted in the collection that did not appear to be

Besides, the chapter concerning the journey to heaven, not only is not
in the Koran, but is in a very different style, and is at least four
times as long as any of the received chapters. Compare all the other
chapters of the Koran with this, and you will find a prodigious
difference. It begins thus:

"One night, I fell asleep between the two hills of Safah and Merwah.
That night was very dark, but so still that the dogs were not heard to
bark, nor the cocks to crow. All at once, the angel Gabriel appeared
before me in the form in which the Most High God created him. His skin
was white as snow. His fair hair, admirably disposed, fell in ringlets
over his shoulders; his forehead was clear, majestic, and serene, his
teeth beautiful and shining, and his legs of a saffron hue; his garments
were glittering with pearls, and with thread of pure gold. On his
forehead was a plate of gold, on which were written two lines, brilliant
and dazzling with light; in the first were these words, 'There is no God
but God'; and in the second these, 'Mahomet is God's Apostle.' On
beholding this, I remained the most astonished and confused of men. I
observed about him seventy thousand little boxes or bags of musk and
saffron. He had five hundred pairs of wings; and the distance from one
wing to another was five hundred years' journey.

"Thus did Gabriel appear before me. He touched me, and said, 'Arise,
thou sleeper!' I was seized with fear and trembling, and starting up,
said to him, 'Who art thou?' He answered, 'God have mercy upon thee! I
am thy brother Gabriel.' 'O my dearly beloved Gabriel,' said I, 'I ask
thy pardon; is it a revelation of something new, or is it some
afflicting threat that thou bringest me?' 'It is something new,'
returned he; 'rise, my dearly beloved, and tie thy mantle over thy
shoulders; thou wilt have need of it, for thou must this night pay a
visit to thy Lord.' So saying, Gabriel, taking my hand, raised me from
the ground, and having mounted me on the mare Alborac, led her himself
by the bridle."

In fine, it is averred by the Mussulmans that this chapter, which has no
authenticity, was imagined by Abu-Horaïrah, who is said to have been
contemporary with the prophet. What should we say of a Turk who should
come and insult our religion by telling us that we reckon among our
sacred books the letters of St. Paul to Seneca, and Seneca's letters to
St. Paul; the acts of Pilate; the life of Pilate's wife; the letters of
the pretended King Abgarus to Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ's answer to
the same; the story of St. Peter's challenge to Simon the magician; the
predictions of the sibyls; the testament of the twelve patriarchs; and
so many other books of the same kind?

We should answer the Turk by saying that he was very ill informed and
that not one of these works was regarded as authentic. The Turk will
make the same answer to us, when to confound him we reproach him with
Mahomet's journey to the seven heavens. He will tell us that this is
nothing more than a pious fraud of latter times, and that this journey
is not in the Koran. Assuredly I am not here comparing truth with
error--Christianity with Mahometanism--the Gospel with the Koran; but
false tradition with false tradition--abuse with abuse--absurdity with

This absurdity has been carried to such a length that Grotius charges
Mahomet with having said that God's hands are cold, for he has felt
them; that God is carried about in a chair; and that, in Noah's ark, the
rat was produced from the elephant's dung, and the cat from the lion's

Grotius reproaches Mahomet with having imagined that Jesus Christ was
taken up into heaven instead of suffering execution. He forgets that
there were entire heretical communions of primitive Christians who
spread this opinion, which was preserved in Syria and Arabia until
Mahomet's time.

How many times has it been repeated that Mahomet had accustomed a pigeon
to eat grain out of his ear, and made his followers believe that this
pigeon brought him messages from God?

Is it not enough for us that we are persuaded of the falseness of his
sect, and invincibly convinced by faith of the truth of our own, without
losing our time in calumniating the Mahometans, who have established
themselves from Mount Caucasus to Mount Atlas, and from the confines of
Epirus to the extremities of India? We are incessantly writing bad books
against them, of which they know nothing. We cry out that their religion
has been embraced by so many nations only because it flatters the
senses. But where is the sensuality in ordering abstinence from the wine
and liquors in which we indulge to such excess; in pronouncing to every
one an indispensable command to give to the poor each year two and a
half per cent, of his income, to fast with the greatest rigor, to
undergo a painful operation in the earliest stage of puberty, to make,
over arid sands a pilgrimage of sometimes five hundred leagues, and to
pray to God five times a day, even when in the field?

But, say you, they are allowed four wives in this world, and in the next
they will have celestial brides. Grotius expressly says: "It must have
required a great share of stupidity to admit reveries so gross and

We agree with Grotius that the Mahometans have been prodigal of
reveries. The man who was constantly receiving the chapters of his Koran
from the angel Gabriel was worse than a visionary; he was an impostor,
who supported his seductions by his courage; but certainly there is
nothing either stupid or sensual in reducing to four the unlimited
number of wives whom the princes, the satraps, the nabobs, and the
omrahs of the East kept in their seraglios. It is said that Solomon had
three hundred wives and seven hundred concubines. The Arabs, like the
Jews, were at liberty to marry two sisters; Mahomet was the first who
forbade these marriages. Where, then, is the grossness?

And with regard to the celestial brides, where is the impurity? Certes,
there is nothing impure in marriage, which is acknowledged to have been
ordained on earth, and blessed by God Himself. The incomprehensible
mystery of generation is the seal of the Eternal Being. It is the
clearest mark of His power that He has created pleasure, and through
that very pleasure perpetuated all sensible beings.

If we consult our reason alone it will tell us that it is very likely
that the Eternal Being, who does nothing in vain, will not cause us to
rise again with our organs to no purpose. It will not be unworthy of the
Divine Majesty to feed us with delicious fruits if he cause us to rise
again with stomachs to receive them. The Holy Scriptures inform us
that, in the beginning, God placed the first man and the first woman in
a paradise of delights. They were then in a state of innocence and
glory, incapable of experiencing disease or death. This is nearly the
state in which the just will be when, after their resurrection, they
shall be for all eternity what our first parents were for a few days.
Those, then, must be pardoned, who have thought that, having a body,
that body will be constantly satisfied. Our fathers of the Church had no
other idea of the heavenly Jerusalem. St. Irenæus says, "There each vine
shall bear ten thousand branches, each branch ten thousand clusters, and
each cluster ten thousand grapes."

Several fathers of the Church have, indeed, thought that the blessed in
heaven would enjoy all their senses. St. Thomas says that the sense of
seeing will be infinitely perfect; that the elements will be so too;
that the surface of the earth will be transparent as glass, the water
like crystal, the air like the heavens, and the fire like the stars. St.
Augustine, in his "Christian Doctrine," says that the sense of hearing
will enjoy the pleasures of singing and of speech.

One of our great Italian theologians, named Piazza, in his "Dissertation
on Paradise," informs us that the elect will forever sing and play the
guitar: "They will have," says he, "three nobilities--three advantages,
viz.: desire without excitement, caresses without wantonness, and
voluptuousness without excess"--_"tres nobilitates; illecebra sine
titillatione, blanditia sine mollitudine, et voluptas sine

St. Thomas assures us that the smell of the glorified bodies will be
perfect, and will not be diminished by perspiration. _"Corporibus
gloriosi serit odor ultima perfectione, nullo modo per humidum
repressus."_ This question has been profoundly treated by a great many
other doctors.

Suarez, in his "Wisdom," thus expresses himself concerning taste: "It is
not difficult for God purposely to make some rapid humor act on the
organ of taste." _"Non est Deo difficile facere ut sapidus humor sit
intra organum gustus, qui sensum illum intentionaliter afficere."_

And, to conclude, St. Prosper, recapitulating the whole, pronounces that
the blessed shall find gratification without satiety, and enjoy health
without disease. _"Saturitas sine fastidio, et tota sanitas sine

It is not then so much to be wondered at that the Mahometans have
admitted the use of the five senses in their paradise. They say that the
first beatitude will be the union with God; but this does not exclude
the rest. Mahomet's paradise is a fable; but; once more be it observed,
there is in it neither contradiction nor impurity.

Philosophy requires clear and precise ideas, which Grotius had not. He
quotes a great deal, and makes a show of reasoning which will not bear
a close examination. The unjust imputations cast on the Mahometans would
suffice to make a very large book. They have subjugated one of the
largest and most beautiful countries upon earth; to drive them from it
would have been a finer exploit than to abuse them.

The empress of Russia supplies a great example. She takes from them Azov
and Tangarok, Moldavia, Wallachia, and Georgia; she pushes her conquests
to the ramparts of Erzerum; she sends against them fleets from the
remotest parts of the Baltic, and others covering the Euxine; but she
does not say in her manifestos that a pigeon whispered in Mahomet's ear.



A man of almost universal learning--a man even of genius, who joins
philosophy with imagination, uses, in his excellent article
"Encyclopedia," these remarkable words: "If we except this Perrault, and
some others, whose merits the versifier Boileau was not capable of

This philosopher is right in doing justice to Claude Perrault, the
learned translator of Vitruvius, a man useful in more arts than one, and
to whom we are indebted for the fine front of the Louvre and for other
great monuments; but justice should also be rendered to Boileau. Had he
been only a versifier, he would scarcely have been known; he would not
have been one of the few great men who will hand down the age of Louis
XIV. to posterity. His tart satires, his fine epistles, and above all,
his art of poetry, are masterpieces of reasoning as well as
poetry--_"sapere est principium et fons."_ The art of versifying is,
indeed, prodigiously difficult, especially in our language, where
alexandrines follow one another two by two; where it is rare to avoid
monotony; where it is absolutely necessary to rhyme; where noble and
pleasing rhymes are too limited in number; and where a word out of its
place, or a harsh syllable, is sufficient to spoil a happy thought. It
is like dancing in fetters on a rope; the greatest success is of itself

Boileau's art of poetry is to be admired, because he always says true
and useful things in a pleasing manner, because he always gives both
precept and example, and because he is varied, passing with perfect
ease, and without ever failing in purity of language, "From grave to
gay, from lively to severe."

His reputation among men of taste is proved by the fact that his verses
are known by heart; and to philosophers it must be pleasing to find that
he is almost always in the right.

As we have spoken of the preference which may sometimes be given to the
moderns over the ancients, we will here venture to presume that
Boileau's art of poetry is superior to that of Horace. Method is
certainly a beauty in a didactic poem; and Horace has no method. We do
not mention this as a reproach; for his poem is a familiar epistle to
the Pisos, and not a regular work like the "Georgics": but there is this
additional merit in Boileau, a merit for which philosophers should give
him credit.

The Latin art of poetry does not seem nearly so finely labored as the
French. Horace expresses himself, almost throughout, in the free and
familiar tone of his other epistles. He displays an extreme clearness of
understanding and a refined taste, in verses which are happy and
spirited, but often without connection, and sometimes destitute of
harmony; he has not the elegance and correctness of Virgil. His work is
good, but Boileau's appears to be still better: and, if we except the
tragedies of Racine, which have the superior merit of treating the
passions and surmounting all the difficulties of the stage, Despréaux's
"Art of Poetry" is, indisputably, the poem that does most honor to the
French language.

It is lamentable when philosophers are enemies to poetry. Literature
should be like the house of Mæcenas--_"est locus unicuique suus."_ The
author of the "Persian Letters"--so easy to write and among which some
are very pretty, others very bold, others indifferent, and others
frivolous--this author, I say, though otherwise much to be recommended,
yet having never been able to make verses, although he possesses
imagination and often superiority of style, makes himself amends by
saying that "contempt is heaped upon poetry," that "lyric poetry is
harmonious extravagance." Thus do men often seek to depreciate the
talents which they cannot attain.

"We cannot reach it," says Montaigne; "let us revenge ourselves by
speaking ill of it." But Montaigne, Montesquieu's predecessor and master
in imagination and philosophy, thought very differently of poetry.

Had Montesquieu been as just as he was witty, he could not but have felt
that several of our fine odes and good operas are worth infinitely more
than the pleasantries of Rica to Usbeck, imitated from Dufrénoy's
_"Siamois,"_ and the details of what passed in Usbeck's seraglio at

We shall speak more fully of this too frequent injustice, in the article
on "Criticism."



Sire: The small society of amateurs, a part of whom are laboring at
these rhapsodies at Mount Krapak, will say nothing to your majesty on
the art of war. It is heroic, or--it may be--an abominable art. If there
were anything fine in it, we would tell your majesty, without fear of
contradiction, that you are the finest man in Europe.

You know, sire, the four ages of the arts. Almost everything sprung up
and was brought to perfection under Louis XIV.; after which many of
these arts, banished from France, went to embellish and enrich the rest
of Europe, at the fatal period of the destruction of the celebrated
edict of Henry IV.--pronounced _irrevocable_, yet so easily revoked.
Thus, the greatest injury which Louis XIV. could do to himself did good
to other princes against his will: this is proved by what you have said
in your history of Brandenburg.

If that monarch were known only from his banishment of six or seven
hundred thousand useful citizens--from his irruption into Holland,
whence he was soon forced to retreat--from his greatness, which stayed
him at the bank, while his troops were swimming across the Rhine; if
there were no other monuments of his glory than the prologues to his
operas, followed by the battle of Hochstet, his person and his reign
would go down to posterity with but little éclat. But the encouragement
of all the fine arts by his taste and munificence; the conferring of so
many benefits on the literary men of other countries; the rise of his
kingdom's commerce at his voice; the establishment of so many
manufactories; the building of so many fine citadels; the construction
of so many admirable ports; the union of the two seas by immense labor,
etc., still oblige Europe to regard Louis XIV. and his age with respect.

And, above all, those great men, unique in every branch of art and
science, whom nature then produced at one time, will render his reign
eternally memorable. The age was greater than Louis XIV., but it shed
its glory upon him.

Emulation in art has changed the face of the continent, from the
Pyrenees to the icy sea. There is hardly a prince in Germany who has not
made useful and glorious establishments.

What have the Turks done for glory? Nothing. They have ravaged three
empires and twenty kingdoms; but any one city of ancient Greece will
always have a greater reputation than all the Ottoman cities together.

See what has been done in the course of a few years at St. Petersburg,
which was a bog at the beginning of the seventeenth century. All the
arts are there assembled, while in the country of Orpheus, Linus, and
Homer, they are annihilated.

_That the Recent Birth of the Arts does not Prove the Recent Formation
of the Globe._

All philosophers have thought matter eternal; but the arts appear to be
new. Even the art of making bread is of recent origin. The first Romans
ate boiled grain; those conquerors of so many nations had neither
windmills nor watermills. This truth seems, at first sight, to
controvert the doctrine of the antiquity of the globe as it now is, or
to suppose terrible revolutions in it. Irruptions of barbarians can
hardly annihilate arts which have become necessary. Suppose that an army
of negroes were to come upon us, like locusts, from the mountains of
southern Africa, through Monomotapa, Monoëmugi, etc., traversing
Abyssinia, Nubia, Egypt, Syria, Asia Minor, and all Europe, ravaging
and overturning everything in its way; there would still be a few
bakers, tailors, shoemakers, and carpenters left; the necessary arts
would revive; luxury alone would be annihilated. Such was the case at
the fall of the Roman Empire; even the art of writing became very rare;
nearly all those arts which contributed to render life agreeable were
for a long time extinct. Now, we are inventing new ones every day.

From all this, no well-grounded inference can be drawn against the
antiquity of the globe. For, supposing that a flood of barbarians had
entirely swept away the arts of writing and making bread; supposing even
that we had had bread, or pens, ink, and paper, only for ten years--the
country which could exist for ten years without eating bread or writing
down its thoughts could exist for an age, or a hundred thousand ages,
without these helps.

It is quite clear that man and the other animals can very well subsist
without bakers, without romance-writers, and without divines, as witness
America, and as witness also three-fourths of our own continent. The
recent birth of the arts among us does not prove the recent formation of
the globe, as was pretended by Epicurus, one of our predecessors in
reverie, who supposed that, by chance, the declination of atoms one day
formed our earth. Pomponatius used to say: _"Se il mondo non é eterno,
per tutti santi é molto vecchio"_--"If this world be not eternal, by all
the saints, it is very old."

_Slight Inconveniences Attached to the Arts._

Those who handle lead and quicksilver are subject to dangerous colics,
and very serious affections of the nerves. Those who use pen and ink are
attacked by vermin, which they have continually to shake off; these
vermin are some ex-Jesuits, who employ themselves in manufacturing
libels. You, Sire, do not know this race of animals; they are driven
from your states, as well as from those of the empress of Russia, the
king of Sweden, and the king of Denmark, my other protectors. The
ex-Jesuits Polian and Nonotte, who like me cultivate the fine arts,
persecute me even unto Mount Krapak, crushing me under the weight of
their reputation, and that of their genius, the specific gravity of
which is still greater. Unless your majesty vouchsafe to assist me
against these great men, I am undone.


No one at all versed in antiquity is ignorant that the Jews knew nothing
of the angels but what they gleaned from the Persians and Chaldæans,
during captivity. It was they, who, according to Calmet, taught them
that there are seven principal angels before the throne of the Lord.
They also taught them the names of the devils. He whom we call Asmodeus,
was named Hashmodaï or Chammadaï. "We know," says Calmet, "that there
are various sorts of devils, some of them princes and master-demons, the
rest subalterns."

How was it that this Hashmodaï was sufficiently powerful to twist the
necks of seven young men who successively espoused the beautiful Sarah,
a native of Rages, fifteen leagues from Ecbatana? The Medes must have
been seven times as great as the Persians. The good principle gives a
husband to this maiden; and behold! the bad principle, this king of
demons, Hashmodaï, destroys the work of the beneficent principle seven
times in succession.

But Sarah was a Jewess, daughter of the Jew Raguel, and a captive in the
country of Ecbatana. How could a Median demon have such power over
Jewish bodies? It has been thought that Asmodeus or Chammadaï was a Jew
likewise; that he was the old serpent which had seduced Eve; and that he
was passionately fond of women, sometimes seducing them, and sometimes
killing their husbands through an excess of love and jealousy.

Indeed the Greek version of the Book of Tobit gives us to understand
that Asmodeus was in love with Sarah--_"oti daimonion philei autein."_
It was the opinion of all the learned of antiquity that the genii,
whether good or evil, had a great inclination for our virgins, and the
fairies for our youths. Even the Scriptures, accommodating themselves to
our weakness, and condescending to speak in the language of the vulgar,
say, figuratively, that "the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that
they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose."

But the angel Raphael, the conductor of young Tobit, gives him a reason
more worthy of his ministry, and better calculated to enlighten the
person whom he is guiding. He tells him that Sarah's seven husbands were
given up to the cruelty of Asmodeus, only because, like horses or mules,
they had married her for their pleasure alone. "Her husband," says the
angel, "must observe continence with her for three days, during which
time they must pray to God together."

This instruction would seem to have been quite sufficient to keep off
Asmodeus; but Raphael adds that it is also necessary to have the heart
of a fish grilled over burning coals. Why, then, was not this infallible
secret afterwards resorted to in order to drive the devil from the
bodies of women? Why did the apostles, who were sent on purpose to cast
out devils never lay a fish's heart upon the gridiron? Why was not this
expedient made use of in the affair of Martha Brossier; that of the nuns
of Loudun; that of the mistresses of Urban Gandier; that of La Cadière;
that of Father Girard; and those of a thousand other demoniacs in the
times when there were demoniacs?

The Greeks and Romans, who had so many philters wherewith to make
themselves beloved, had others to cure love; they employed herbs and
roots. The _agnus castus_ had great reputation. The moderns have
administered it to young nuns, on whom it has had but little effect.
Apollo, long ago, complained to Daphne that, physician as he was, he
had never yet met with a simple that would cure love:

     _Heu mihi! quod nullis amor est medicabilis herbis._
     What balm can heal the wounds that love has made?

The smoke of sulphur was tried; but Ovid, who was a great master,
declares that this recipe was useless:

     _Nec fugiat viro sulphure victus amor._
     Sulphur--believe me--drives not love away.

The smoke from the heart or liver of a fish was more efficacious against
Asmodeus. The reverend father Calmet is consequently in great trouble,
being unable to comprehend how this fumigation could act upon a pure
spirit. But he might have taken courage from the recollection that all
the ancients gave bodies to the angels and demons. They were very
slender bodies; as light as the small particles that rise from a broiled
fish; they were like smoke; and the smoke from a fried fish acted upon
them by sympathy.

Not only did Asmodeus flee, but Gabriel went and chained him in Upper
Egypt, where he still is. He dwells in a grotto near the city of Saata
or Taata. Paul Lucas saw and spoke to him. They cut this serpent in
pieces, and the pieces immediately joined again. To this fact Calmet
cites the testimony of Paul Lucas, which testimony I must also cite. It
is thought that Paul Lucas's theory may be joined with that of the
vampires, in the next compilation of the Abbé Guyon.



Asphaltus is a Chaldæan word, signifying a species of bitumen. There is
a great deal of it in the countries watered by the Euphrates; it is also
to be found in Europe, but of a bad quality. An experiment was made by
covering the tops of the watch-houses on each side of one of the gates
of Geneva; the covering did not last a year, and the mine has been
abandoned. However, when mixed with rosin, it may be used for lining
cisterns; perhaps it will some day be applied to a more useful purpose.

The real asphaltus is that which was obtained in the vicinity of
Babylon, and with which it is said that the Greek fire was fed. Several
lakes are full of asphaltus, or a bitumen resembling it, as others are
strongly impregnated with nitre. There is a great lake of nitre in the
desert of Egypt, which extends from lake Mœris to the entrance of the
Delta; and it has no other name than the Nitre Lake.

The Lake Asphaltites, known by the name of Sodom, was long famed for its
bitumen; but the Turks now make no use of it, either because the mine
under the water is diminished, because its quality is altered, or
because there is too much difficulty in drawing it from under the water.
Oily particles of it, and sometimes large masses, separate and float on
the surface; these are gathered together, mixed up, and sold for balm of

Flavius Josephus, who was of that country, says that, in his time, there
were no fish in the lake of Sodom, and the water was so light that the
heaviest bodies would not go to the bottom. It seems that he meant to
say so heavy instead of so light. It would appear that he had not made
the experiment. After all, a stagnant water, impregnated with salts and
compact matter, its specific matter being then greater than that of the
body of a man or a beast, might force it to float. Josephus's error
consists in assigning a false cause to a phenomenon which may be
perfectly true.

As for the want of fish, it is not incredible. It is, however, likely
that this lake, which is fifty or sixty miles long, is not all
asphaltic, and that while receiving the waters of the Jordan it also
receives the fishes of that river; but perhaps the Jordan, too, is
without fish, and they are to be found only in the upper lake of

Josephus adds, that the trees which grow on the borders of the Dead Sea
bear fruits of the most beautiful appearance, but which fall into dust
if you attempt to taste them. This is less probable; and disposes one to
believe that Josephus either had not been on the spot, for has
exaggerated according to his own and his countrymen's custom. No soil
seems more calculated to produce good as well as beautiful fruits than a
salt and sulphurous one, like that of Naples, of Catania, and of Sodom.

The Holy Scriptures speak of five cities being destroyed by fire from
heaven. On this occasion natural philosophy bears testimony in favor of
the Old Testament, although the latter has no need of it, and they are
sometimes at variance. We have instances of earthquakes, accompanied by
thunder and lightning, which have destroyed much more considerable towns
than Sodom and Gomorrah.

But the River Jordan necessarily discharging itself into this lake
without an outlet, this Dead Sea, in the same manner as the Caspian,
must have existed as long as there has been a River Jordan; therefore,
these towns could never stand on the spot now occupied by the lake of
Sodom. The Scripture, too, says nothing at all about this ground being
changed into a lake; it says quite the contrary: "Then the Lord rained
upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire, from the Lord out of
heaven. And Abraham got up early in the morning, and he looked toward
Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld;
and lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace."

These five towns, Sodom, Gomorrah, Zeboin, Adamah, and Segor, must then
have been situated on the borders of the Dead Sea. How, it will be
asked, in a desert so uninhabitable as it now is, where there are to be
found only a few hordes of plundering Arabs, could there be five cities,
so opulent as to be immersed in luxury, and even in those shameful
pleasures which are the last effect of the refinement of the debauchery
attached to wealth?

It may be answered that the country was then much better.

Other critics will say--how could five towns exist at the extremities of
a lake, the water of which, before their destruction, was not potable?
The Scripture itself informs us that all this land was asphaltic before
the burning of Sodom: "And the vale of Sodom was full of slime-pits; and
the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled and fell there."

Another objection is also stated. Isaiah and Jeremiah say that Sodom and
Gomorrah shall never be rebuilt; but Stephen, the geographer, speaks of
Sodom and Gomorrah on the coast of the Dead Sea; and the "History of the
Councils" mentions bishops of Sodom and Segor. To this it may be
answered that God filled these towns, when rebuilt, with less guilty
inhabitants; for at that time there was no bishop _in partibus_.

But, it will be said, with what water could these new inhabitants quench
their thirst? All the wells are brackish; you find asphaltus and
corrosive salt on first striking a spade into the ground.

It will be answered that some Arabs still subsist there, and may be
habituated to drinking very bad water; that the Sodom and Gomorrah of
the Eastern Empire were wretched hamlets, and that at that time there
were many bishops whose whole diocese consisted in a poor village. It
may also be said that the people who colonized these villages prepared
the asphaltus, and carried on a useful trade in it.

The arid and burning desert, extending from Segor to the territory of
Jerusalem, produces balm and aromatic herbs for the same reason that it
supplies naphtha, corrosive salt and sulphur.

It is said that petrifaction takes place in this desert with astonishing
rapidity; and this, according to some natural philosophers, makes the
petrifaction of Lot's wife Edith a very plausible story.

But it is said that this woman, "having looked back, became a pillar of
salt." This, then, was not a natural petrifaction, operated by asphaltus
and salt, but an evident miracle. Flavius Josephus says that he saw this
pillar. St. Justin and St. Irenæus speak of it as a prodigy, which in
their time was still existing.

These testimonies have been looked upon as ridiculous fables. It would,
however, be very natural for some Jews to amuse themselves with cutting
a heap of asphaltus into a rude figure, and calling it Lot's wife. I
have seen cisterns of asphaltus, very well made, which may last a long
time. But it must be owned that St. Irenæus goes a little too far when
he says that Lot's wife remained in the country of Sodom no longer in
corruptible flesh, but as a permanent statue of salt, her feminine
nature still producing the ordinary effect: _"Uxor remansit in Sodomis,
jam non caro corruptibilis sed statua salis semper manens, et per
naturalia ea quæsunt consuetudmis hominis ostendens."_

St. Irenæus does not seem to express himself with all the precision of
a good naturalist when he says Lot's wife is no longer of corruptible
flesh, but still retains her feminine nature.

In the poem of Sodom, attributed to Tertullian, this is expressed with
still greater energy:

     _Dicitur et vivens alio sub corpore se us,_
     _Mirifice solito dispungere sanguine menses._

This was translated by a poet of the time of Henry II., in his Gallic

     _La femme à Loth, quoique sel devenue,_
     _Est femme encore; car elle a sa menstrue._

The land of aromatics was also the land of fables. Into the deserts of
Arabia Petræa the ancient mythologists pretend that Myrrha, the
granddaughter of a statue, fled after committing incest with her father,
as Lot's daughters did with theirs, and that she was metamorphosed into
the tree that bears myrrh. Other profound mythologists assure us that
she fled into Arabia Felix; and this opinion is as well supported as the

Be this as it may, not one of our travellers has yet thought fit to
examine the soil of Sodom, with its asphaltus, its salt, its trees and
their fruits, to weigh the water of the lake, to analyze it, to
ascertain whether bodies of greater specific gravity than common water
float upon its surface, and to give us a faithful account of the natural
history of the country. Our pilgrims to Jerusalem do not care to go and
make these researches; this desert has become infested by wandering
Arabs, who range as far as Damascus, and retire into the caverns of the
mountains, the authority of the pasha of Damascus having hitherto been
inadequate to repress them. Thus the curious have but little information
about anything concerning the Asphaltic Lake.

As to Sodom, it is a melancholy reflection for the learned that, among
so many who may be deemed natives, not one has furnished us with any
notion whatever of this capital city.


We will add a little to the article "Ass" in the "Encyclopædia,"
concerning Lucian's ass, which became golden in the hands of Apuleius.
The pleasantest part of the adventure, however, is in Lucian: That a
lady fell in love with this gentleman while he was an ass, but would
have nothing more to say to him when he was but a man. These
metamorphoses were very common throughout antiquity. Silenus's ass had
spoken; and the learned had thought that he explained himself in Arabic;
for he was probably a man turned into an ass by the power of Bacchus,
and Bacchus, we know, was an Arab.

Virgil speaks of the transformation of Mœris into a wolf, as a thing
of very ordinary occurrence:

     _Saepe lupum fieri Mœrim, et se condere silvis._
     Oft changed to wolf, he seeks the forest shade.

Was this doctrine of metamorphoses derived from the old fables of Egypt,
which gave out that the gods had changed themselves into animals in the
war against the giants?

The Greeks, great imitators and improvers of the Oriental fables,
metamorphosed almost all the gods into men or into beasts, to make them
succeed the better in their amorous designs. If the gods changed
themselves into bulls, horses, swans, doves, etc., why should not men
have undergone the same operation?

Several commentators, forgetting the respect due to the Holy Scriptures,
have cited the example of Nebuchadnezzar changed into an ox; but this
was a miracle--a divine vengeance--a thing quite out of the course of
nature, which ought not to be examined with profane eyes, and cannot
become an object of our researches.

Others of the learned, perhaps with equal indiscretion, avail themselves
of what is related in the Gospel of the Infancy. An Egyptian maiden
having entered the chamber of some women, saw there a mule with a silken
cloth over his back, and an ebony pendant at his neck.

These women were in tears, kissing him and giving him to eat. The mule
was their own brother. Some sorceresses had deprived him of the human
figure; but the Master of Nature soon restored it.

Although this gospel is apocryphal, the very name that it bears prevents
us from examining this adventure in detail; only it may serve to show
how much metamorphoses were in vogue almost throughout the earth. The
Christians who composed their gospel were undoubtedly honest men. They
did not seek to fabricate a romance; they related with simplicity what
they had heard. The church, which afterwards rejected their gospel,
together with forty-nine others, did not accuse its authority of impiety
and prevarication; those obscure individuals addressed the populace in
language comformable with the prejudices of the age in which they lived.
China was perhaps the only country exempt from these superstitions.

The adventure of the companions of Ulysses, changed into beasts by
Circe, was much more ancient than the dogma of the metempsychosis,
broached in Greece and Italy by Pythagoras.

On what can the assertion be founded that there is no universal error
which is not the abuse of some truth; that there have been quacks only
because there have been true physicians; and that false prodigies have
been believed only because there have been true ones?

Were there any certain testimonies that men had become wolves, oxen,
horses, or asses? This universal error had for its principle only the
love of the marvellous and the natural inclination to superstition.

One erroneous opinion is enough to fill the whole world with fables. An
Indian doctor sees that animals have feeling and memory. He concludes
that they have a soul. Men have one likewise. What becomes of the soul
of man after death? What becomes of that of the beast? They must go
somewhere. They go into the nearest body that is beginning to be formed.
The soul of a Brahmin takes up its abode in the body of an elephant, the
soul of an ass is that of a little Brahmin. Such is the dogma of the
metempsychosis, which was built upon simple deduction.

But it is a wide step from this dogma to that of metamorphosis. We have
no longer a soul without a tenement, seeking a lodging; but one body
changed into another, the soul remaining as before. Now, we certainly
have not in nature any example of such legerdemain.

Let us then inquire into the origin of so extravagant yet so general an
opinion. If some father had characterized his son, sunk in ignorance and
filthy debauchery, as a hog, a horse, or an ass, and afterwards made him
do penance with an ass's cap on his head, and some servant girl of the
neighborhood gave it out that this young man had been turned into an ass
as a punishment for his faults, her neighbors would repeat it to other
neighbors, and from mouth to mouth this story, with a thousand
embellishments, would make the tour of the world. An ambiguous
expression would suffice to deceive the whole earth.

Here then let us confess, with Boileau, that ambiguity has been the
parent of most of our ridiculous follies. Add to this the power of
magic, which has been acknowledged as indisputable in all nations, and
you will no longer be astonished at anything.

One word more on asses. It is said that in Mesopotamia they are warlike
and that Mervan, the twenty-first caliph, was surnamed "the Ass" for his

The patriarch Photius relates, in the extract from the Life of Isidorus,
that Ammonius had an ass which had a great taste for poetry, and would
leave his manger to go and hear verses. The fable of Midas is better
than the tale of Photius.

_Machiavelli's Golden Ass._

Machiavelli's ass is but little known. The dictionaries which speak of
it say that it was a production of his youth; it would seem, however,
that he was of mature age; for he speaks in it of the misfortunes which
he had formerly and for a long time experienced. The work is a satire on
his contemporaries. The author sees a number of Florentines, of whom one
is changed into a cat, another into a dragon, a third into a dog that
bays the moon, a fourth into a fox who does not suffer himself to be
caught; each character is drawn under the name of an animal. The
factions of the house of Medicis and their enemies are doubtless figured
therein; and the key to this comic apocalypse would admit us to the
secrets of Pope Leo and the troubles of Florence. This poem is full of
morality and philosophy. It ends with the very rational reflections of
a large hog, which addresses man in nearly the following terms:

     Ye naked bipeds, without beaks or claws.
       Hairless, and featherless, and tender-hided,
     Weeping ye come into the world--because
       Ye feel your evil destiny decided;
     Nature has given you industrious paws;
       You, like the parrots, are with speech provided;
     But have ye honest hearts?--Alas! alas!
     In this we swine your bipedships surpass!

     Man is far worse than we--more fierce, more wild--
       Coward or madman, sinning every minute;
     By frenzy and by fear in turn beguiled,
       He dreads the grave, yet plunges headlong in it;
     If pigs fall out, they soon are reconciled;
       Their quarrel's ended ere they well begin it.
     If crime with manhood always must combine,
     Good Lord! let me forever be a swine.

This is the original of Boileau's "Satire on Man," and La Fontaine's
fable of the "Companions of Ulysses"; but it is quite likely that
neither La Fontaine nor Boileau had ever heard of Machiavelli's ass.

_The Ass of Verona._

I must speak the truth, and not deceive my readers. I do not very
clearly know whether the Ass of Verona still exists in all his splendor;
but the travellers who saw him forty or fifty years ago agree in saying
that the relics were enclosed in the body of an artificial ass made on
purpose, which was in the keeping of forty monks of Our Lady of the
Organ, at Verona, and was carried in procession twice a year. This was
one of the most ancient relics of the town. According to the tradition,
this ass, having carried our Lord in his entry into Jerusalem, did not
choose to abide any longer in that city, but trotted over the sea--which
for that purpose became as hard as his hoof--by way of Cyprus, Rhodes,
Candia, Malta, and Sicily. There he went to sojourn at Aquilea; and at
last he settled at Verona, where he lived a long while.

This fable originated in the circumstance that most asses have a sort of
black cross on their backs. There possibly might be an old ass in the
neighborhood of Verona, on whose back the populace remarked a finer
cross than his brethren could boast of; some good old woman would be at
hand to say that this was the ass on which Christ rode into Jerusalem;
and the ass would be honored with a magnificent funeral. The feast
established at Verona passed into other countries, and was especially
celebrated in France. In the mass was sung:

     _Orientis partibus_
     _Adventabit asinus,_
     _Pulcher et fortissimus._

There was a long procession, headed by a young woman with a child in her
arms, mounted on an ass, representing the Virgin Mary going into Egypt.
At the end of the mass the priest, instead of saying _Ite missa est_,
brayed three times with all his might, and the people answered in

We have books on the feast of the ass, and the feast of fools; they
furnish material towards a universal history of the human mind.



A name corrupted from the word Ehissessin. Nothing is more common to
those who go into a distant country than to write, repeat, and
understand incorrectly in their own language what they have
misunderstood in a language entirely foreign to them, and afterwards to
deceive their countrymen as well as themselves. Error flies from mouth
to mouth, from pen, to pen, and to destroy it requires ages.

In the time of the Crusades there was a wretched little people of
mountaineers inhabiting the caverns near the road to Damascus. These
brigands elected a chief, whom they named Cheik Elchassissin. It is said
that this honorific title of _cheik_ originally signified _old_, as with
us the title of _seigneur_ comes from _senior_, elder, and the word
_graf_, a count, signifies _old_ among the Germans; for, in ancient
times almost every people conferred the civil command upon the old men.
Afterwards, the command having become hereditary, the title of _cheik,
graf, seigneur, or count_ has been given to children; and the Germans
call a little master of four years old, _the count_--that is, the _old

The Crusaders named the old man of the Arabian mountains, the Old Man of
the Hill, and imagined him to be a great prince, because he had caused a
count of Montserrat and some other crusading nobles to be robbed and
murdered on the highway. These people were called _the assassins_, and
their cheik the king of the vast country of _the assassins_. This vast
territory is five or six leagues long by two or three broad, being part
of Anti-Libanus, a horrible country, full of rocks, like almost all
Palestine, but intersected by pleasant meadowlands, which feed numerous
flocks, as is attested by all who have made the journey from Aleppo to

The cheik or senior of these _assassins_ could be nothing more than a
chief of banditti; for there was at that time a sultan of Damascus who
was very powerful.

Our romance-writers of that day, as fond of chimeras as the Crusaders,
thought proper to relate that in 1236 this great prince of the
assassins, fearing that Louis IX., of whom he had never heard, would put
himself at the head of a crusade, and come and take from him his
territory, sent two great men of his court from the caverns of
Anti-Libanus to Paris to assassinate that king; but that having the next
day heard how generous and amiable a prince Louis was, he immediately
sent out to sea two more great men to countermand the assassination. I
say out to sea, for neither the two emissaries sent to kill Louis, nor
the two others sent to save him, could make the voyage without embarking
at Joppa, which was then in the power of the Crusaders, which rendered
the enterprise doubly marvellous. The two first must have found a
Crusaders' vessel ready to convey them in an amicable manner, and the
two last must have found another.

However, a hundred authors, one after another, have related this
adventure, though Joinville, a contemporary, who was on the spot, says
nothing about it--_"Et voilà justement comme on écrit l'histoire."_

The Jesuit Maimbourg, the Jesuit Daniel, twenty other Jesuits, and
Mézeray--though he was not a Jesuit--have repeated this absurdity. The
Abbé Véli, in his history of France, tells it over again with perfect
complaisance, without any discussion, without any examination, and on
the word of one William of Nangis, who wrote about sixty years after
this fine affair is said to have happened at a time when history was
composed from nothing but town talk.

If none but true and useful things were recorded, our immense historical
libraries would be reduced to a very narrow compass; but we should know
more, and know it better.

For six hundred years the story has been told over and over again, of
the Old Man of the Hill--_le vieux de la montagne_--who, in his
delightful gardens, intoxicated his young elect with voluptuous
pleasures, made them believe that they were in paradise, and sent them
to the ends of the earth to assassinate kings in order to merit an
eternal paradise.

     Near the Levantine shores there dwelt of old
     An aged ruler, feared in every land;
     Not that he owned enormous heaps of gold,
     Not that vast armies marched at his command,--
     But on his people's minds he things impressed,
     Which filled with desperate courage every breast
     The boldest of his subjects first he took,
     Of paradise to give them a foretaste--
     The paradise his lawgiver had painted;
     With every joy the lying prophet's book
     Within his falsely-pictured heaven had placed,
     They thought their senses had become acquainted.
     And how was this effected? 'Twas by wine--
     Of this they drank till every sense gave way,
     And, while in drunken lethargy they lay,
     Were borne, according to their chief's design,
     To sports of pleasantness--to sunshine glades,
     Delightful gardens and inviting shades.
     Young tender beauties were abundant there,
     In earliest bloom, and exquisitely fair;
     These gayly thronged around the sleeping men,
     Who, when at length they were awake again,
     Wondering to see the beauteous objects round,
     Believed that some way they'd already found
     Those fields of bliss, in every beauty decked,
     The false Mahomet promised his elect.
     Acquaintance quickly made, the Turks advance;
     The maidens join them in a sprightly dance;
     Sweet music charms them as they trip along;
     And every feathered warbler adds his song.
     The joys that could for every sense suffice.
     Were found within this earthly paradise.
     Wine, too, was there--and its effects the same;
     These people drank, till they could drink no more,
     Were earned to the place from whence they came.
     And what resulted from this trickery?
     These men believed that they should surely be
     Again transported to that place of pleasure,
     If, without fear of suffering or of death,
     They showed devotion to Mahomet's faith,
     And to their prince obedience without measure.
     Thus might their sovereign with reason say,
     And that, now his device had made them so,
     His was the mightiest empire here below....

All this might be very well in one of La Fontaine's tales--setting apart
the weakness of the verse; and there are a hundred historical anecdotes
which could be tolerated there only.


Assassination being, next to poisoning, the crime most cowardly and most
deserving of punishment, it is not astonishing that it has found an
apologist in a man whose singular reasoning is, in some things, at
variance with the reason of the rest of mankind.

In a romance entitled "Emilius," he imagines that he is the guardian of
a young man, to whom he is very careful to give an education such as is
received in the military school--teaching him languages, geometry,
tactics, fortification, and the history of his country. He does not seek
to inspire him with love for his king and his country, but contents
himself with making him a joiner. He would have this gentleman-joiner,
when he has received a blow or a challenge, instead of returning it and
fighting, "prudently assassinate the man." Molière does, it is true, say
jestingly, in _"L'Amour Peintre,"_ "assassination is the safest"; but
the author of this romance asserts that it is the most just and
reasonable. He says this very seriously, and, in the immensity of his
paradoxes, this is one of the three or four things which he first says.
The same spirit of wisdom and decency which makes him declare that a
preceptor should often accompany his pupil to a place of prostitution,
makes him decide that this disciple should be an assassin. So that the
education which Jean Jacques would give to a young man consists in
teaching him how to handle the plane, and in fitting him for salivation
and the rope.

We doubt whether fathers of families will be eager to give such
preceptors to their children. It seems to us that the romance of Emilius
departs rather too much from the maxims of Mentor in "Telemachus"; but
it must also be acknowledged that our age has in all things very much
varied from the great age of Louis XIV.

Happily, none of these horrible infatuations are to be found in the
"Encyclopædia." It often displays a philosophy seemingly bold, but never
that atrocious and extravagant babbling which two or three fools have
called philosophy, and two or three ladies, eloquence.


Astrology might rest on a better foundation than magic. For if no one
has seen farfadets, or lemures, or dives, or peris, or demons, or
cacodemons, the predictions of astrologers have often been found true.
Let two astrologers be consulted on the life of an infant, and on the
weather; if one of them say that the child shall five to the age of man,
the other that he shall not; if one foretell rain and the other fair
weather, it is quite clear that there will be a prophet.

The great misfortune of astrologers is that the heavens have changed
since the rules of the art were laid down. The sun, which at the equinox
was in the Ram in the time of the Argonauts, is now in the Bull; and
astrologers, most unfortunately for their art, now attribute to one
house of the sun that which visibly belongs to another. Still, this is
not a demonstrative argument against astrology. The masters of the art
are mistaken; but it is not proved that the art cannot exist.

There would be no absurdity in saying, "Such a child was born during the
moon's increase, in a stormy season, at the rising of a certain star;
its constitution was bad, and its life short and miserable, which is the
ordinary lot of weak temperaments; another, on the contrary, was born
when the moon was at the full, and the sun in all his power, in calm
weather, at the rising of another particular star; his constitution was
good, and his life long and happy." If such observations had been
frequently repeated, and found just, experience might, at the end of a
few thousand centuries, have formed an art which it would have been
difficult to call in question; it would have been thought, not without
some appearance of truth, that men are like trees and vegetables, which
must be planted only in certain seasons. It would have been of no
service against the astrologers to say, "My son was born in fine
weather, yet he died in his cradle." The astrologer would have answered,
"It often happens that trees planted in the proper season perish
prematurely; I will answer for the stars, but not for the particular
conformation which you communicated to your child; astrology operates
only when there is no cause opposed to the good which they have power to

[Illustration: An Astrologer.]

Nor would astrology have suffered any more discredit from it being said:
"Of two children who were born in the same minute, one became a king,
the other nothing more than churchwarden of his parish;" for a defence
would easily have been made by showing that the peasant made his fortune
in becoming churchwarden, just as much as the prince did in becoming

And if it were alleged that a bandit, hung up by order of Sixtus the
Fifth, was born at the same time as Sixtus, who, from being a swineherd,
became pope, the astrologers would say that there was a mistake of a few
seconds, and that, according to the rules, the same star could not
bestow the tiara and the gallows. It was, then, only because
long-accumulated experience gave the lie to the predictions that men at
length perceived that the art was illusory; but their credulity was of
long duration.

One of the most famous mathematicians of Europe, named Stoffler, who
flourished in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, foretold a
universal deluge for the year 1524. This deluge was to happen in the
month of February, and nothing can be more plausible, for Saturn,
Jupiter, and Mars were then in conjunction in the sign of the Fishes.
Every nation in Europe, Asia, and Africa that heard of the prediction
was in consternation. The whole world expected the deluge, in spite of
the rainbow. Several contemporary authors relate that the inhabitants of
the maritime provinces of Germany hastened to sell their lands, at any
price, to such as had more money and less credulity than themselves.
Each one provided himself with a boat to serve as an ark. A doctor of
Toulouse, in particular, named Auriol, had an ark built for himself, his
family, and friends; and the same precautions were taken in a great part
of Italy. At last the month of February arrived, and not a drop of rain
fell, never was a month more dry, never were the astrologers more
embarrassed. However, we neither discouraged nor neglected them; almost
all our princes continued to consult them.

I have not the honor to be a prince; nevertheless, the celebrated Count
de Boulainvilliers and an Italian, named Colonna, who had great
reputation at Paris, both foretold to me that I should assuredly die at
the age of thirty-two. I have already been so malicious as to deceive
them thirty years in their calculation--for which I most humbly ask
their pardon.



M. Duval, who, if I mistake not, was librarian to the Emperor Francis
I., gives us an account of the manner in which, in his childhood, pure
instinct gave him the first ideas of astronomy. He was contemplating the
moon which, as it declined towards the west, seemed to touch the trees
of a wood. He doubted not that he should find it behind the trees, and,
on running thither, was astonished to see it at the extremity of the

The following days his curiosity prompted him to watch the course of
this luminary, and he was still more surprised to find that it rose and
set at various hours. The different forms which it took from week to
week, and its total disappearance for some nights, also contributed to
fix his attention. All that a child could do was to observe and to
admire, and this was doing much; not one in ten thousand has this
curiosity and perseverance.

He studied, as he could, for three years, with no other book than the
heavens, no other master than his eyes. He observed that the stars did
not change their relative positions; but the brilliancy of the planet
Venus having caught his attention, it seemed to him to have a particular
course, like that of the moon. He watched it every night; it disappeared
for a long time; and at length he saw it become the morning instead of
the evening star. The course of the sun, which from month to month, rose
and set in different parts of the heavens, did not escape him. He marked
the solstices with two staves, without knowing what the solstices were.

It appears to me that some profit might be derived from this example,
in teaching astronomy to a child of ten or twelve years of age, and with
much greater facility than this extraordinary child, of whom I have
spoken, taught himself its first elements.

It is a very attractive spectacle for a mind disposed to the
contemplation of nature to see that the different phases of the moon are
precisely the same as those of a globe round which a lighted candle is
moved, showing here a quarter, here the half of its surface, and
becoming invisible when an opaque body is interposed between it and the
candle. In this manner it was that Galileo explained the true principles
of astronomy before the doge and senators of Venice on St. Mark's tower;
he demonstrated everything to the eyes.

Indeed, not only a child, but even a man of mature age, who has seen the
constellations only on maps or globes, finds it difficult to recognize
them in the heavens. In a little time the child will quite well
comprehend the causes of the sun's apparent course, and the daily
revolutions of the fixed stars.

He will, in particular, discover the constellations with the aid of
these four Latin lines, made by an astronomer about fifty years ago, and
which are not sufficiently known:

_Delta Aries, Perseum Taurus, Geminique Capellam; Nil Cancer, Plaustrum
Leo, Virgo Coman, atque Bootem, Libra Anguem, Anguiferum fert Scorpios;
Antinoum Arcus; Delphinum Caper, Amphora Equos, Cepheida Pisces._

Nothing should be said to him about the systems of Ptolemy and Tycho
Brahe, because they are false; they can never be of any other service
than to explain some passages in ancient authors, relating to the errors
of antiquity. For instance, in the second book of Ovid's
_"Metamorphoses"_ the sun says to Phaëton:

     _Adde, quod assidua rapitur vertigine cœlum;_
     _Nitor in adversum; nec me, qui cætera, vincit_
     _Impetus; et rapido contrarius evehor orbi._

     A rapid motion carries round the heavens;
     But I--and I alone--resist its force,
     Marching secure in my opposing path.

This idea of a first mover turning the heavens round in twenty-four
hours with an impossible motion, and of the sun, though acted upon by
this first motion, yet imperceptibly advancing from west to east by a
motion peculiar to itself, and without a cause, would but embarrass a
young beginner.

It is sufficient for him to know that, whether the earth revolves on its
own axis and round the sun, or the sun completes his revolution in a
year, appearances are nearly the same, and that, in astronomy, we are
obliged to judge of things by our eyes before we examine them as natural

He will soon know the cause of the eclipses of the sun and the moon, and
why they do not occur every night. It will at first appear to him that,
the moon being every month in opposition to and in conjunction with the
sun, we should have an eclipse of the sun and one of the moon every
month. But when he finds that these two luminaries are not in the same
plane and are seldom in the same line with the earth, he will no longer
be surprised.

He will easily be made to understand how it is that eclipses have been
foretold, by knowing the exact circle in which the apparent motion of
the sun and the real motion of the moon are accomplished. He will be
told that observers found by experience and calculation the number of
times that these two bodies are precisely in the same line with the
earth in the space of nineteen years and a few hours, after which they
seem to recommence the same course; so that, making the necessary
allowances for the little inequalities that occurred during those
nineteen years, the exact day, hour, and minute of an eclipse of the sun
or moon were foretold. These first elements are soon acquired by a child
of clear conceptions.

Not even the precession of the equinoxes will terrify him. It will be
enough to tell him that the sun has constantly appeared to advance in
his annual course, one degree in seventy-two years, towards the east;
and this is what Ovid meant to express: _"Contrarius evehor
orbi"_;--"Marching secure in my opposing path."

Thus the Ram, which the sun formerly entered at the beginning of spring,
is now in the place where the Bull was then. This change which has taken
place in the heavens, and the entrance of the sun into other
constellations than those which he formerly occupied, were the
strongest arguments against the pretended rules of judicial astrology.
It does not, however, appear that this proof was employed before the
present century to destroy this universal extravagance which so long
infected all mankind, and is still in great vogue in Persia.

A man born, according to the almanac, when the sun was in the sign of
the Lion, was necessarily to be courageous; but, unfortunately, he was
in reality born under the sign of the Virgin. So that Gauric and Michael
Morin should have changed all the rules of their art.

It is indeed odd that all the laws of astrology were contrary to those
of astronomy. The wretched charlatans of antiquity and their stupid
disciples, who have been so well received and so well paid by all the
princes of Europe, talked of nothing but Mars and Venus, stationary and
retrograde. Such as had Mars stationary were always to conquer. Venus
stationary made all lovers happy. Nothing was worse than to be born
under Venus retrograde. But the fact is that these planets have never
been either retrograde or stationary, which a very slight knowledge of
optics would have sufficed to show.

How, then, can it have been that, in spite of physics and geometry, the
ridiculous chimera of astrology is entertained even to this day, so that
we have seen men distinguished for their general knowledge, and
especially profound in history, who have all their lives been infatuated
by so despicable an error? But the error was ancient, and that was

The Egyptians, the Chaldæans, the Jews, foretold the future; therefore,
it may be foretold now. Serpents were charmed and spirits were raised in
those days; therefore, spirits may be raised and serpents charmed now.
It is only necessary to know the precise formula made use of for the
purpose. If predictions are at an end, it is the fault, not of the art,
but of the artist. Michael Morin and his secret died together. It is
thus that the alchemists speak of the philosopher's stone; if, say they,
we do not now find it, it is because we do not yet know precisely how to
seek it; but it is certainly in Solomon's collar-bone. And, with this
glorious certainty, more than two hundred families in France and Germany
have ruined themselves.

It is not then to be wondered at that the whole world has been duped by
astrology. The wretched argument, "there are false prodigies, therefore
there are true ones," is neither that of a philosopher, nor of a man
acquainted with the world. "That is false and absurd, therefore it will
be believed by the multitude," is a much truer maxim.

It is still less astonishing that so many men, raised in other things so
far above the vulgar; so many princes, so many popes, whom it would have
been impossible to mislead in the smallest affair of interest, have been
so ridiculously seduced by this astrological nonsense. They were very
proud and very ignorant. The stars were for them alone; the rest of the
world a rabble, with whom the stars had nothing to do. They were like
the prince who trembled at the sight of a comet, and said gravely to
those who did not fear it, "You may behold it without concern; you are
not princes."

The famous German leader, Wallenstein, was one of those infatuated by
this chimera; he called himself a prince, and consequently thought that
the zodiac had been made on purpose for him. He never besieged a town,
nor fought a battle, until he had held a council with the heavens; but,
as this great man was very ignorant, he placed at the head of this
council a rogue of an Italian, named Seni, keeping him a coach and six,
and giving him a pension of twenty thousand livres. Seni, however, never
foresaw that Wallenstein would be assassinated by order of his most
gracious sovereign, and that he himself would return to Italy on foot.

It is quite evident that nothing can be known of the future, otherwise
than by conjectures. These conjectures may be so well-founded as to
approach certainty. You see a shark swallow a little boy; you may wager
ten thousand to one that he will be devoured; but you cannot be
absolutely sure of it, after the adventures of Hercules, Jonas, and
Orlando Furioso, who each lived so long in a fish's belly.

It cannot be too often repeated that Albertus Magnus and Cardinal
d'Ailli both made the horoscope of Jesus Christ. It would appear that
they read in the stars how many devils he would cast out of the bodies
of the possessed, and what sort of death he was to die. But it was
unfortunate that these learned astrologers _foretold_ all these things
so long _after_ they happened.

We shall elsewhere see that in a sect which passes for Christian, it is
believed to be impossible for the Supreme Intelligence to see the future
otherwise than by supreme conjecture; for, as the future does not exist,
it is, say they, a contradiction in terms to talk of seeing at the
present time that which is not.



_On the Comparison so Often Made between Atheism and Idolatry._

It seems to me that, in the _"Dictionnaire Encyclopédique,"_ a more
powerful refutation might have been brought against the Jesuit
Richeome's opinion concerning atheists and idolaters--an opinion
formerly maintained by St. Thomas, St. Gregory Nazianzen, St. Cyprian,
and Tertullian--an opinion which Arnobius placed in a strong light when
he said to the pagans, "Do you not blush to reproach us with contempt
for your gods? Is it not better to believe in no god than to impute to
them infamous actions?"--an opinion long before established by
Plutarch, who stated that he would rather have it said that there was
no Plutarch than that there was a Plutarch, inconstant, choleric, and
vindictive--an opinion, too, fortified by all the dialectical efforts of

Such is the ground of dispute, placed in a very striking point of view
by the Jesuit Richeome, and made still more specious by the way in which
Bayle sets it off:

"There are two porters at the door of a house. You ask to speak to the
master. He is not at home, answers one. He is at home, answers the
other, but is busied in making false money, false contracts, daggers,
and poisons, to destroy those who have only accomplished his designs.
The atheist resembles the former of these porters, the pagan the latter.
It is then evident that the pagan offends the Divinity more grievously
than the atheist."

With the permission of Father Richeome, and that of Bayle himself, this
is not at all the state of the question. For the first porter to be like
the atheist, he must say, not "My master is not here," but "I have no
master; he who you pretend is my master does not exist. My comrade is a
blockhead to tell you that the gentleman is engaged in mixing poisons
and wetting poniards to assassinate those who have executed his will.
There is no such being in the world."

Richeome, therefore, has reasoned very ill; and Bayle, in his rather
diffuse discourses, has so far forgotten himself as to do Richeome the
honor of making a very lame comment upon him.

Plutarch seems to express himself much better, in declaring that he
prefers those who say there is no Plutarch to those who assert that
Plutarch is unfit for society. Indeed, of what consequence to him was
its being said that he was not in the world? But it was of great
consequence that his reputation should not be injured. With the Supreme
Being it is otherwise.

Still Plutarch does not come to the real point in discussion. It is only
asked who most offends the Supreme Being--he who denies Him, or he who
disfigures Him? It is impossible to know, otherwise than by revelation,
whether God is offended at the vain discourses which men hold about Him.

Philosophers almost always fall unconsciously into the ideas of the
vulgar, in supposing that God is jealous of His glory, wrathful, and
given to revenge, and in taking rhetorical figures for real ideas. That
which interests the whole world is to know whether it is not better to
admit a rewarding and avenging God, recompensing hidden good actions,
and punishing secret crimes, than to admit no God at all.

Bayle exhausts himself in repeating all the infamous things imputed to
the gods of antiquity. His adversaries answer him by unmeaning
commonplaces. The partisans and the enemies of Bayle have almost always
fought without coming to close quarters. They all agree that Jupiter
was an adulterer, Venus a wanton, Mercury a rogue. But this, I conceive,
ought not to be considered; the religion of the ancient Romans should be
distinguished from Ovid's _"Metamorphoses."_ It is quite certain that
neither they nor even the Greeks ever had a temple dedicated to Mercury
the Rogue, Venus the Wanton, or Jupiter the Adulterer.

The god whom the Romans called _"Deus optimus maximus"_--most good, most
great--was not believed to have encouraged Clodius to lie with Cæsar's
wife, nor Cæsar to become the minion of King Nicomedes.

Cicero does not say that Mercury incited Verres to rob Sicily, though,
in the fable, Mercury had stolen Apollo's cows. The real religion of the
ancients was that Jupiter, most good and just, with the secondary
divinities, punished perjury in the infernal regions. Thus, the Romans
were long the most religious observers of their oaths. It was in no wise
ordained that they should believe in Leda's two eggs, in the
transformation of Inachus's daughter into a cow, or in Apollo's love for
Hyacinthus. Therefore it must not be said that the religion of Numa was
dishonoring to the Divinity. So that, as but too often happens, there
has been a long dispute about a chimera.

Then, it is asked, can a people of atheists exist? I consider that a
distinction must be made between the people, properly so called, and a
society of philosophers above the people. It is true that, in every
country, the populace require the strongest curb; and that if Bayle had
had but five or six hundred peasants to govern, he would not have failed
to announce to them a rewarding and avenging God. But Bayle would have
said nothing about them to the Epicureans, who were people of wealth,
fond of quiet, cultivating all the social virtues, and friendship in
particular, shunning the dangers and embarrassments of public
affairs--leading, in short, a life of ease and innocence. The dispute,
so far as it regards policy and society, seems to me to end here.

As for people entirely savage, they can be counted neither among the
theists nor among the atheists. To ask them what is their creed would be
like asking them if they are for Aristotle or Democritus. They know
nothing; they are no more atheists than they are peripatetics.

But, it may be insisted, that they live in society, though they have no
God, and that, therefore, society may subsist without religion.

In this case I shall reply that wolves live so; and that an assemblage
of barbarous cannibals, as you suppose them to be, is not a society.
And, further, I will ask you if, when you have lent your money to any
one of your society, you would have neither your debtor, nor your
attorney, nor your notary, nor your judge, believe in a God?


_Modern Atheists.--Arguments of the Worshippers of God._

We are intelligent beings, and intelligent beings cannot have been
formed by a blind, brute, insensible being; there is certainly some
difference between a clod and the ideas of Newton. Newton's
intelligence, then, came from some other intelligence.

When we see a fine machine, we say there is a good machinist, and that
he has an excellent understanding. The world is assuredly an admirable
machine; therefore there is in the world, somewhere or other, an
admirable intelligence. This argument is old, but is not therefore the

All animated bodies are composed of levers and pulleys, which act
according to the laws of mechanics; of liquors, which are kept in
perpetual circulation by the laws of hydrostatics; and the reflection
that all these beings have sentiment which has no relation to their
organization, fills us with wonder.

The motions of the stars, that of our little earth round the sun--all
are operated according to the laws of the profoundest mathematics. How
could it be that Plato, who knew not one of these laws--the eloquent but
chimerical Plato, who said that the foundation of the earth was an
equilateral triangle, and that of water a right-angled triangle--the
strange Plato, who said there could be but five worlds, because there
were but five regular bodieshow, I say, was it that Plato, who was not
even acquainted with spherical trigonometry, had nevertheless so fine a
genius, so happy an instinct, as to call God the Eternal
Geometrician--to feel that there exists a forming Intelligence? Spinoza
himself confesses it. It is impossible to controvert this truth, which
surrounds us and presses us on all sides.

_Argument of the Atheists._

I have, however, known refractory individuals, who have said that there
is no forming intelligence, and that motion alone has formed all that we
see and all that we are. They say boldly that the combination of this
universe was possible because it exists; therefore it was possible for
motion of itself to arrange it. Take four planets only--Mars, Venus,
Mercury, and the Earth; let us consider them solely in the situations in
which they now are; and let us see how many probabilities we have that
motion will bring them again to those respective places. There are but
twenty-four chances in this combination; that is, it is only twenty-four
to one that these planets will not be found in the same situations with
respect to one another. To these four globes add that of Jupiter; and it
is then only a hundred and twenty to one that Jupiter, Mars, Venus,
Mercury, and our globe will not be placed in the same positions in which
we now see them.

Lastly, add Saturn; and there will then be only seven hundred and twenty
chances to one against putting these planets in their present
arrangement, according to their given distances. It is, then,
demonstrated that once, at least, in seven hundred and twenty cases,
chance might place these planets in their present order.

Then take all the secondary planets, all their motions, all the beings
that vegetate, live, feel, think, act, on all these globes; you have
only to increase the number of chances; multiply this number to all
eternity--to what our weakness calls _infinity_--there will still be an
unit in favor of the formation of the world, such as it is, by motion
alone; therefore it is possible that, in all eternity, the motion of
matter alone has produced the universe as it exists. Nay, this
combination must, in eternity, of necessity happen. Thus, say they, not
only it is possible that the world is as it is by motion alone, but it
was impossible that it should not be so after infinite combinations.


All this supposition seems to me to be prodigiously chimerical, for two
reasons: the first is, that in this universe there are intelligent
beings, and you cannot prove it possible for motion alone to produce
understanding. The second is, that, by your own confession, the chances
are infinity to unity, that an intelligent forming cause produced the
universe. Standing alone against infinity, a unit makes but a poor

Again Spinoza himself admits this intelligence; it is the basis of his
system. You have not read him, but you must read him. Why would you go
further than he, and, through a foolish pride, plunge into the abyss
where Spinoza dared not to descend? Are you not aware of the extreme
folly of saying that it is owing to a blind cause that the square of the
revolution of one planet is always to the squares of the others as the
cube of its distance is to the cubes of the distances of the others from
the common centre? Either the planets are great geometricians, or the
Eternal Geometrician has arranged the planets.

But where is the Eternal Geometrician? Is He in one place, or in all
places, without occupying space? I know not. Has He arranged all things
of His own substance? I know not. Is He immense, without quantity and
without quality? I know not. All I know is, that we must adore Him and
be just.

_New Objection of a Modern Atheist._

Can it be said that the conformation of animals is according to their
necessities? What are those necessities? Self-preservation and
propagation. Now, is it astonishing that, of the infinite combinations
produced by chance, those only have survived which had organs adapted
for their nourishment and the continuation of their species? Must not
all others necessarily have perished?


This argument, taken from Lucretius, is sufficiently refuted by the
sensation given to animals and the intelligence given to man. How, as
has just been said in the preceding paragraph, should combinations
produced by chance produce this sensation and this intelligence? Yes,
doubtless, the members of animals are made for all their necessities
with an incomprehensible art, and you have not the boldness to deny it.
You do not mention it. You feel that you can say nothing in answer to
this great argument which Nature brings against you. The disposition of
the wing of a fly, or of the feelers of a snail, is sufficient to
confound you.

_An Objection of Maupertuis._

The natural philosophers of modern times have done nothing more than
extend these pretended arguments; this they have sometimes done even to
minuteness and indecency. They have found God in the folds of a
rhinoceros's hide; they might, with equal reason, have denied His
existence on account of the tortoise's shell.


What reasoning! The tortoise and the rhinoceros, and all the different
species, prove alike in their infinite varieties the same cause, the
same design, the same end, which are preservation, generation, and
death. Unity is found in this immense variety; the hide and the shell
bear equal testimony. What! deny God, because a shell is not like a
skin! And journalists have lavished upon this coxcombry praises which
they have withheld from Newton and Locke, both worshippers of the
Divinity from thorough examination and conviction!

_Another of Maupertuis's Objections._

Of what service are beauty and fitness in the construction of a serpent?
Perhaps, you say, it has uses of which we are ignorant. Let us then, at
least, be silent, and not admire an animal which we know only by the
mischief it does.


Be you silent, also, since you know no more of its utility than myself;
or acknowledge that, in reptiles, everything is admirably proportioned.
Some of them are venomous; you have been so too. The only subject at
present under consideration is the prodigious art which has formed
serpents, quadrupeds, birds, fishes, and bipeds. This art is evident
enough. You ask, Why is not the serpent harmless? And why have you not
been harmless? Why have you been a persecutor? which, in a philosopher,
is the greatest of crimes. This is quite another question; it is that of
physical and moral evil. It has long been asked, Why are there so many
serpents, and so many wicked men worse than serpents? If flies could
reason, they would complain to God of the existence of spiders; but they
would, at the same time, acknowledge what Minerva confessed to Arachne
in the fable, that they arrange their webs in a wonderful manner.

We cannot, then, do otherwise than acknowledge an ineffable
Intelligence, which Spinoza himself admitted. We must own that it is
displayed as much in the meanest insect as in the planets. And with
regard to moral and physical evil, what can be done or said? Let us
console ourselves by the enjoyment of physical and moral good, and adore
the Eternal Being, who has ordained the one and permitted the other.

One word more on this topic. Atheism is the vice of some intelligent
men, and superstition is the vice of fools. And what is the vice of


_Unjust Accusation.--Justification of Vanini._

Formerly, whoever was possessed of a secret in any art was in danger of
passing for a sorcerer; every new sect was charged with murdering
infants in its mysteries; and every philosopher who departed from the
jargon of the schools was accused of atheism by knaves and fanatics, and
condemned by blockheads.

Anaxagorus dares to assert that the sun is not conducted by Apollo,
mounted in a chariot and four; he is condemned as an atheist, and
compelled to fly.

Aristotle is accused of atheism by a priest, and not being powerful
enough to punish his accuser, he retires to Chalcis. But the death of
Socrates is the greatest blot on the page of Grecian history.

Aristophanes--he whom commentators admire because he was a Greek,
forgetting that Socrates was also a Greek--Aristophanes was the first
who accustomed the Athenians to regard Socrates as an atheist.

This comic poet, who is neither comic nor poetical, would not, among us,
have been permitted to exhibit his farces at the fair of St. Lawrence.
He appears to me to be much lower and more despicable than Plutarch
represents him. Let us see what the wise Plutarch says of this buffoon:
"The language of Aristophanes bespeaks his miserable quackery; it is
made up of the lowest and most disgusting puns; he is not even pleasing
to the people; and to men of judgment and honor he is insupportable; his
arrogance is intolerable, and all good men detest his malignity."

This, then, is the jack-pudding whom Madame Dacier, an admirer of
Socrates, ventures to admire! Such was the man who, indirectly, prepared
the poison by which infamous judges put to death the most virtuous man
in Greece.

The tanners, cobblers, and seamstresses of Athens applauded a farce in
which Socrates was represented lifted in the air in a hamper, announcing
that there was no God, and boasting of having stolen a cloak while he
was teaching philosophy. A whole people, whose government sanctioned
such infamous licences, well deserved what has happened to them, to
become slaves to the Romans, and, subsequently, to the Turks. The
Russians, whom the Greeks of old would have called barbarians, would
neither have poisoned Socrates, nor have condemned Alcibiades to death.

We pass over the ages between the Roman commonwealth and our own times.
The Romans, much more wise than the Greeks, never persecuted a
philosopher for his opinions. Not so the barbarous nations which
succeeded the Roman Empire. No sooner did the Emperor Frederick II.
begin to quarrel with the popes, than he was accused of being an
atheist, and being the author of the book of "The Three Impostors,"
conjointly with his chancellor De Vincis.

Does our high-chancellor, de l'Hôpital, declare against persecution? He
is immediately charged with atheism--_"Homo doctus, sed vetus atheus."_
There was a Jesuit, as much beneath Aristophanes as Aristophanes is
beneath Homer--a wretch, whose name has become ridiculous even among
fanatics--the Jesuit Garasse, who found atheists everywhere. He bestows
the name upon all who are the objects of his virulence. He calls
Theodore Beza an atheist. It was he, too, that led the public into error
concerning Vanini.

The unfortunate end of Vanini does not excite our pity and indignation
like that of Socrates, because Vanini was only a foreign pedant, without
merit; however, Vanini was not, as was pretended, an atheist; he was
quite the contrary.

He was a poor Neapolitan priest, a theologian and preacher by trade, an
outrageous disputer on quiddities and universals, and _"utrum chimæra
bombinans in vacuo possit comedere secundas intentiones."_ But there was
nothing in him tending to atheism. His notion of God is that of the
soundest and most approved theology: "God is the beginning and the end,
the father of both, without need of either, eternal without time, in no
one place, yet present everywhere. To him there is neither past nor
future; he is within and without everything; he has created all, and
governs all; he is immutable, infinite without parts; his power is his
will." This is not very philosophical, but it is the most approved

Vanini prided himself on reviving Plato's fine idea, adopted by
Averroës, that God had created a chain of beings from the smallest to
the greatest, the last link of which was attached to his eternal throne;
an idea more sublime than true, but as distant from atheism as being
from nothing.

He travelled to seek his fortune and to dispute; but, unfortunately,
disputation leads not to fortune; a man makes himself as many
irreconcilable enemies as he finds men of learning or of pedantry to
argue against. Vanini's ill-fortune had no other source. His heat and
rudeness in disputation procured him the hatred of some theologians; and
having quarrelled with one Franconi, this Franconi, the friend of his
enemies, charged him with being an atheist and teaching atheism.

Franconi, aided by some witnesses, had the barbarity, when confronted
with the accused, to maintain what he had advanced. Vanini, on the
stool, being asked what he thought of the existence of a God, answered
that he, with the Church, adored a God in three persons. Taking a straw
from the ground, "This," said he, "is sufficient to prove that there is
a creator." He then delivered a very fine discourse on vegetation and
motion, and the necessity of a Supreme Being, without whom there could
be neither motion nor vegetation.

The president Grammont, who was then at Toulouse, repeats this discourse
in his history of France, now so little known; and the same Grammont,
through some unaccountable prejudice, asserts that Vanini said all this
"through vanity, or through fear, rather than from inward conviction."

On what could this atrocious, rash judgment of the president be founded?
It is evident, from Vanini's answer, that he could not but be acquitted
of the charge of atheism. But what followed? This unfortunate foreign
priest also dabbled in medicine. There was found in his house a large
live toad, which he kept in a vessel of water; he was forthwith accused
of being a sorcerer. It was maintained that this toad was the god which
he adored. An impious meaning was attributed to several passages of his
books, a thing which is both common and easy, by taking objections for
answers, giving some bad sense to a loose phrase, and perverting an
innocent expression. At last, the faction which oppressed him forced
from his judges the sentence which condemned him to die.

In order to justify this execution it was necessary to charge the
unfortunate man with the most enormous of crimes. The grey friar--the
_very_ grey friar Marsenne, was so besotted as to publish that "Vanini
set out from Naples, with twelve of his apostles, to convert the whole
world to atheism." What a pitiful tale! How should a poor priest have
twelve men in his pay? How should he persuade twelve Neapolitans to
travel at great expense, in order to spread this revolting doctrine at
the peril of their lives? Would a king himself have it in his power to
pay twelve preachers of atheism? No one before Father Marsenne had
advanced so enormous an absurdity. But after him it was repeated; the
journals and historical dictionaries caught it, and the world, which
loves the extraordinary, has believed the fable without examination.

Even Bayle, in his miscellaneous thoughts (_Pensées Diverses_), speaks
of Vanini as of an atheist. He cites his example in support of his
paradox, that "a society of atheists might exist." He assures us that
Vanini was a man of very regular morals, and that he was a martyr to
his philosophical opinions. On both these points he is equally mistaken.
Vanini informs us in his "Dialogues," written in imitation of Erasmus,
that he had a mistress named Isabel. He was as free in his writings as
in his conduct; but he was not an atheist.

A century after his death, the learned Lacroze, and he who took the name
of Philaletes, endeavored to justify him. But as no one cares anything
about the memory of an unfortunate Neapolitan, scarcely any one has read
these apologies.

The Jesuit Hardouin, more learned and no less rash than Garasse, in his
book entitled _"Athei Detecti"_ charges the Descartes, the Arnaulds, the
Pascals, the Malebranches, with atheism. Happily, Vanini's fate was not


A word on the question in morals, agitated by Bayle, "Whether a society
of atheists can exist." Here let us first observe the enormous
self-contradictions of men in disputation. Those who have been most
violent in opposing the opinion of Bayle, those who have denied with the
greatest virulence the possibility of a society of atheists, are the
very men who have since maintained with equal ardor that atheism is the
religion of the Chinese government.

They have most assuredly been mistaken concerning the government of
China; they had only to read the edicts of the emperors of that vast
country, and they would have seen that those edicts are sermons, in
which a Supreme Being--governing, avenging, and rewarding--is
continually spoken of.

But, at the same time, they are no less deceived respecting the
impossibility of a society of atheists; nor can I conceive how Bayle
could forget a striking instance which might have rendered his cause

In what does the apparent impossibility of a society of atheists
consist? In this: It is judged that men without some restraint could not
live together; that laws have no power against secret crimes; and that
it is necessary to have an avenging God--punishing, in this world or in
the next, such as escape human justice.

The laws of Moses, it is true, did not teach the doctrine of a life to
come, did not threaten with chastisements after death, nor even teach
the primitive Jews the immortality of the soul; but the Jews, far from
being atheists, far from believing that they could elude the divine
vengeance, were the most religious of men. They believed not only in the
existence of an eternal God, but that He was always present among them;
they trembled lest they should be punished in themselves, their wives,
their children, their posterity to the fourth generation. This was a
very powerful check.

But among the Gentiles various sects had no restraint; the Skeptics
doubted of everything; the Academics suspended their judgment on
everything; the Epicureans were persuaded that the Divinity could not
meddle in human affairs, and in their hearts admitted no Divinity. They
were convinced that the soul is not a substance, but a faculty which is
born and perishes with the body; consequently, they had no restraint but
that of morality and honor. The Roman senators and knights were in
reality atheists; for to men who neither feared nor hoped anything from
them, the gods could not exist. The Roman senate, then, in the time of
Cæsar and Cicero, was in fact an assembly of atheists.

That great orator, in his oration for Cluentius, says to the whole
assembled senate: "What does he lose by death? We reject all the silly
fables about the infernal regions. What, then, can death take from him?
Nothing but the susceptibility of sorrow."

Does not Cæsar, wishing to save the life of his friend Catiline,
threatened by the same Cicero, object that to put a criminal to death is
not to punish him--that death is nothing--that it is but the termination
of our ills--a moment rather fortunate than calamitous? Did not Cicero
and the whole senate yield to this reasoning? The conquerors and
legislators of all the known world then, evidently, formed a society of
men who feared nothing from the gods, but were real atheists.

Bayle next examines whether idolatry is more dangerous than
atheism--whether it is a greater crime not to believe in the Divinity
than to have unworthy notions of it; in this he thinks with
Plutarch--that it is better to have no opinion than a bad opinion; but,
without offence to Plutarch, it was infinitely better that the Greeks
should fear Ceres, Neptune, and Jupiter than that they should fear
nothing at all. It is clear that the sanctity of oaths is necessary; and
that those are more to be trusted who think a false oath will be
punished, than those who think they may take a false oath with impunity.
It cannot be doubted that, in an organized society, it is better to have
even a bad religion than no religion at all.

It appears then that Bayle should rather have examined whether atheism
or fanaticism is the most dangerous. Fanaticism is certainly a thousand
times the most to be dreaded; for atheism inspires no sanguinary
passion, but fanaticism does; atheism does not oppose crime, but
fanaticism prompts to its commission. Let us suppose, with the author of
the _"Commentarium Return Gallicarum,"_ that the High-Chancellor de
l'Hôpital was an atheist; he made none but wise laws; he recommended
only moderation and concord. The massacres of St. Bartholomew were
committed by fanatics. Hobbes passed for an atheist; yet he led a life
of innocence and quiet, while the fanatics of his time deluged England,
Scotland, and Ireland with blood. Spinoza was not only an atheist--he
taught atheism; but assuredly he had no part in the judicial
assassination of Barneveldt; nor was it he who tore in pieces the two
brothers De Witt, and ate them off the gridiron.

Atheists are, for the most part, men of learning, bold but bewildered,
who reason ill and, unable to comprehend the creation, the origin of
evil, and other difficulties, have recourse to the hypothesis of the
eternity of things and of necessity.

The ambitious and the voluptuous have but little time to reason; they
have other occupations than that of comparing Lucretius with Socrates.
Such is the case with us and our time.

It was otherwise with the Roman senate, which was composed almost
entirely of theoretical and practical atheists, that is, believing
neither in Providence nor in a future state; this senate was an assembly
of philosophers, men of pleasure, and ambitious men, who were all very
dangerous, and who ruined the commonwealth. Under the emperors,
Epicureanism prevailed. The atheists of the senate had been factious in
the times of Sulla and of Cæsar; in those of Augustus and Tiberius, they
were atheistical slaves.

I should not wish to come in the way of an atheistical prince, whose
interest it should be to have me pounded in a mortar; I am quite sure
that I should be so pounded. Were I a sovereign, I would not have to do
with atheistical courtiers, whose interest it was to poison me; I should
be under the necessity of taking an antidote every day. It is then
absolutely necessary for princes and people that the idea of a Supreme
Being--creating, governing, rewarding, and punishing--be profoundly
engraved on their minds.

There are, nations of atheists, says Bayle in his "Thoughts on Comets."
The Kaffirs, the Hottentots, and many other small populations, have no
god; they neither affirm nor deny that there is one; they have never
heard of Him; tell them that there is one, and they will easily believe
it; tell them that all is done by the nature of things, and they will
believe you just the same. To pretend that they are atheists would be
like saying they are anti-Cartesians. They are neither for Descartes nor
against him; they are no more than children; a child is neither atheist
nor deist; he is nothing.

From all this, what conclusion is to be drawn? That atheism is a most
pernicious monster in those who govern; that it is the same in the men
of their cabinet, since it may extend itself from the cabinet to those
in office; that, although less to be dreaded than fanaticism, it is
almost always fatal to virtue. And especially, let it be added, that
there are fewer atheists now than ever--since philosophers have become
persuaded that there is no vegetative being without a germ, no germ
without a design, etc., and that the corn in our fields does not spring
from rottenness.

Unphilosophical geometricians have rejected final causes, but true
philosophers admit them; and, as it is elsewhere observed, a catechist
announces God to children, and Newton demonstrates Him to the wise.

If there be atheists, who are to blame? Who but the mercenary tyrants of
our souls, who, while disgusting us with their knavery, urge some weak
spirits to deny the God whom such monsters dishonor? How often have the
people's bloodsuckers forced overburdened citizens to revolt against the

Men who have fattened on our substance, cry out to us: "Be persuaded
that an ass spoke; believe that a fish swallowed a man, and threw him up
three days after, safe and sound, on the shore; doubt not that the God
of the universe ordered one Jewish prophet to eat excrement, and another
to buy two prostitutes, and have bastards by them;" such are the words
put into the mouth of the God of purity and truth! Believe a hundred
things either visibly abominable or mathematically impossible; otherwise
the God of Mercy will burn you in hell-fire, not only for millions of
millions of ages, but for all eternity, whether you have a body or have
not a body.

These brutal absurdities are revolting to rash and weak minds, as well
as to firm and wise ones. They say: "Our teachers represent God to us as
the most insensate and barbarous of all beings; therefore, there is no
God." But they ought to say, "Our teachers represent God as furious and
ridiculous, therefore God is the reverse of what they describe Him; He
is as wise and good as they say He is foolish and wicked." Thus do the
wise decide. But, if a fanatic hears them, he denounces them to a
magistrate--a sort of priest's officer, which officer has them burned
alive, thinking that he is therein imitating and avenging the Divine
Majesty which he insults.



There were once many atheists among the Christians; they are now much
fewer. It at first appears to be a paradox, but examination proves it to
be a truth, that theology often threw men's minds into atheism, until
philosophy at length drew them out of it. It must indeed have been
pardonable to doubt of the Divinity, when His only announcers disputed
on His nature. Nearly all the first Fathers of the Church made God
corporeal, and others, after them, giving Him no extent, lodged Him in a
part of heaven. According to some, He had created the world in Time;
while, according to others, He had created Time itself. Some gave Him a
Son like to Himself; others would not grant that the Son was like to the
Father. It was also disputed in what way a third person proceeded from
the other two.

It was agitated whether the Son had been, while on earth, composed of
two persons. So that the question undesignedly became, whether there
were five persons in the Divinity--three in heaven and two for Jesus
Christ upon earth; or four persons, reckoning Christ upon earth as only
one; or three persons, considering Christ only as God. There were
disputes about His mother, His descent into hell and into limbo; the
manner in which the body of the God-man was eaten, and the blood of the
God-man was drunk; on grace; on the saints, and a thousand other
matters. When the confidants of the Divinity were seen so much at
variance among themselves anathematizing one another from age to age,
but all agreeing in an immoderate thirst for riches and grandeur--while,
on the other hand, were beheld the prodigious number of crimes and
miseries which afflicted the earth, and of which many were caused by the
very disputes of these teachers of souls--it must be confessed that it
was allowable for rational men to doubt the existence of a being so
strangely announced, and for men of sense to imagine that a God, who
could of His own free will make so many beings miserable, did not exist.

Suppose, for example, a natural philosopher of the fifteenth century
reading these words in "St. Thomas's Dream": _"Virtus cœli, loco
spermatis, sufficit cum elementis et putrefactione ad generationem
animalium imperfectorum."_ "The virtue of heaven instead of seed is
sufficient, with the elements and putrefaction, for the generation of
imperfect animals." Our philosopher would reason thus: "If corruption
suffices with the elements to produce unformed animals, it would appear
that a little more corruption, with a little more heat, would also
produce animals more complete. The virtue of heaven is here no other
than the virtue of nature. I shall then think, with Epicurus and St.
Thomas, that men may have sprung from the slime of the earth and the
rays of the sun--a noble origin, too, for beings so wretched and so
wicked. Why should I admit a creating God, presented to me under so many
contradictory and revolting aspects?" But at length physics arose, and
with them philosophy. Then it was clearly discovered that the mud of the
Nile produced not a single insect, nor a single ear of corn, and men
were found to acknowledge throughout, germs, relations, means, and an
astonishing correspondence among all beings. The particles of light have
been followed, which go from the sun to enlighten the globe and the ring
of Saturn, at the distance of three hundred millions of leagues; then,
coming to the earth, form two opposite angles in the eye of the minutest
insect, and paint all nature on its retina. A philosopher was given to
the world who discovered the simple and sublime laws by which the
celestial globes move in the immensity of space. Thus the work of the
universe, now that it is better known, bespeaks a workman, and so many
never-varying laws announce a lawgiver. Sound philosophy, therefore, has
destroyed atheism, to which obscure theology furnished weapons of

But one resource was left for the small number of difficult minds,
which, being more forcibly struck by the pretended injustices of a
Supreme Being than by his wisdom, were obstinate in denying this first
mover. Nature has existed from all eternity; everything in nature is in
motion, therefore everything in it continually changes. And if
everything is forever changing, all possible combinations must take
place; therefore the present combinations of all things may have been
the effect of this eternal motion and change alone. Take six dice, and
it is 46,655 to one that you do not throw six times six. But still there
is that one chance in 46,656. So, in the infinity of ages, any one of
the infinite number of combinations, as that of the present arrangement
of the universe, is not impossible.

Minds, otherwise rational, have been misled by these arguments; but they
have not considered that there is infinity against them, and that there
certainly is not infinity against the existence of God. They should,
moreover, consider that if everything were changing, the smallest things
could not remain unchanged, as they have so long done. They have at
least no reason to advance why new species are not formed every day. On
the contrary, it is very probable that a powerful hand, superior to
these continual changes, keeps all species within the bounds it, has
prescribed them. Thus the philosopher, who acknowledges a God, has a
number of probabilities on his side, while the atheist has only doubts.

It is evident that in morals it is much better to acknowledge a God than
not to admit one. It is certainly to the interest of all men that there
should be a Divinity to punish what human, justice cannot repress; but
it is also clear that it were better to acknowledge no God than to
worship a barbarous one, and offer Him human victims, as so many nations
have done.

We have one striking example, which places this truth beyond a doubt.
The Jews, under Moses, had no idea of the immortality of the soul, nor
of a future state. Their lawgiver announced to them, from God, only
rewards and punishments purely temporal; they, therefore, had only this
life to provide for. Moses commands the Levites to kill twenty-three
thousand of their brethren for having had a golden or gilded calf. On
another occasion twenty-four thousand of them are massacred for having
had commerce with the young women of the country; and twelve thousand
are struck dead because some few of them had wished to support the ark,
which was near falling. It may, with perfect reverence for the decrees
of Providence, be affirmed, humanly speaking, that it would have been
much better for these fifty-nine thousand men, who believed in no future
state, to have been absolute atheists and have lived, than to have been
massacred in the name of the God whom they acknowledged.

It is quite certain that atheism is not taught in the schools of the
learned of China, but many of those learned men are atheists, for they
are indifferent philosophers. Now it would undoubtedly be better to live
with them at Pekin, enjoying the mildness of their manners and their
laws, than to be at Goa, liable to groan in irons, in the prisons of the
inquisition, until brought out in a brimstone-colored garment,
variegated with devils, to perish in the flames.

They who have maintained that a society of atheists may exist have then
been right, for it is laws that form society, and these atheists, being
moreover philosophers, may lead a very wise and happy life under the
shade of those laws. They will certainly live in society more easily
than superstitious fanatics. People one town with Epicureans such as
Simonides, Protagoras, Des Barreux, Spinoza; and another with Jansenists
and Molinists. In which do you think there will be the most quarrels and
tumults? Atheism, considering it only with relation to this life, would
be very dangerous among a ferocious people, and false ideas of the
Divinity would be no less pernicious. Most of the great men of this
world live as if they were atheists. Every man who has lived with his
eyes open knows that the knowledge of a God, His presence, and His
justice, has not the slightest influence over the wars, the treaties,
the objects of ambition, interest or pleasure, in the pursuit of which
they are wholly occupied. Yet we do not see that they grossly violate
the rules established in society. It is much more agreeable to pass our
lives among them than among the superstitious and fanatical. I do, it is
true, expect more justice from one who believes in a God than from one
who has no such belief; but from the superstitious I look only for
bitterness and persecution. Atheism and fanaticism are two monsters
which may tear society in pieces; but the atheist preserves his reason,
which checks his propensity to mischief, while the fanatic is under the
influence of a madness which is constantly urging him on.


In England, as everywhere else, there have been, and there still are,
many atheists by principle; for there are none but young, inexperienced
preachers, very ill-informed of what passes in the world, who affirm
that there cannot be atheists. I have known some in France, who were
quite good natural philosophers; and have, I own, been very much
surprised that men who could so ably develop the secret springs of
nature should obstinately refuse to acknowledge the hand which so
evidently puts those springs in action.

It appears to me that one of the principles which leads them to
materialism is that they believe in the plentitude and infinity of the
universe, and the eternity of matter. It must be this which misleads
them, for almost all the Newtonians whom I have met admit the void and
the termination of matter, and consequently admit a God.

Indeed, if matter be infinite, as so many philosophers, even including
Descartes, pretend, it has of itself one of the attributes of the
Supreme Being: if a void be impossible, matter exists of necessity; it
has existed from all eternity. With these principles, therefore, we may
dispense with God, creating, modifying, and preserving matter.

I am aware that Descartes, and most of the schools which have believed
in the _plenum_, and the infinity of matter, have nevertheless admitted
a God; but this is only because men scarcely ever reason or act upon
their principles.

Had men reasoned, consequently, Epicurus and his apostle Lucretius must
have been the most religious assertors of the Providence which they
combated; for when they admitted the void and the termination of matter,
a truth of which they had only an imperfect glimpse, it necessarily
followed that matter was the being of necessity, existing by itself,
since it was not indefinite. They had, therefore, in their own
philosophy, and in their own despite, a demonstration that there is a
Supreme Being, necessary, infinite, the fabricator of the universe.
Newton's philosophy, which admits and proves the void and finite matter,
also demonstratively proves the existence of a God.

Thus I regard true philosophers as the apostles of the Divinity. Each
class of men requires its particular ones; a parish catechist tells
children that there is a God, but Newton proves it to the wise.

In London, under Charles II. after Cromwell's wars, as at Paris under
Henry IV. after the war of the Guises, people took great pride in being
atheists; having passed from the excess of cruelty to that of pleasure,
and corrupted their minds successively by war and by voluptuousness,
they reasoned very indifferently. Since then the more nature has been
studied the better its Author has been known.

One thing I will venture to believe, which is, that of all religions,
theism is the most widely spread in the world. It is the prevailing
religion of China; it is that of the wise among the Mahometans; and,
among Christian philosophers, eight out of ten are of the same opinion.
It has penetrated even into the schools of theology, into the cloisters,
into the conclave; it is a sort of sect without association, without
worship, without ceremonies, without disputes, and without zeal, spread
through the world without having been preached. Theism, like Judaism, is
to be found amidst all religions; but it is singular that the latter,
which is the extreme of superstition, abhorred by the people and
contemned by the wise, is everywhere tolerated for money; while the
former, which is the opposite of superstition, unknown to the people,
and embraced by philosophers alone, is publicly exercised nowhere but in
China. There is no country in Europe where there are more theists than
in England. Some persons ask whether they have a religion or not.

There are two sorts of theists. The one sort think that God made the
world without giving man rules for good and evil. It is clear that these
should have no other name than that of philosophers.

The others believe that God gave to man a natural law. These, it is
certain, have a religion, though they have no external worship. They
are, with reference to the Christian religion, peaceful enemies, which
she carries in her bosom; they renounce without any design of destroying
her. All other sects desire to predominate, like political bodies, which
seek to feed on the substance of others, and rise upon their ruin;
theism has always lain quiet. Theists have never been found caballing in
any state.

There was in London a society of theists, who for some time continued to
meet together. They had a small book of their laws, in which religion,
on which so many ponderous volumes have been written, occupied only two
pages. Their principal axiom was this: "Morality is the same among all
men; therefore it comes from God. Worship is various; therefore it is
the work of man."

The second axiom was: "Men, being all brethren, and acknowledging the
same God, it is execrable that brethren should persecute brethren,
because they testify their love for the common father in a different
manner. Indeed," said they, "what upright man would kill his elder
brother because one of them had saluted their father after the Chinese
and the other after the Dutch fashion, especially while it was undecided
in what way the father wished their reverence to be made to him? Surely
he who should act thus would be a bad brother rather than a good son."

I am well aware that these maxims lead directly to "the abominable and
execrable dogma of toleration"; but I do no more than simply relate the
fact. I am very careful not to become a controversialist. It must,
however, be admitted that if the different sects into which Christians
have been divided had possessed this moderation, Christianity would have
been disturbed by fewer disorders, shaken by fewer revolutions, and
stained with less blood.

Let us pity the theists for combating our holy revelation. But whence
comes it that so many Calvinists, Lutherans, Anabaptists, Nestorians,
Arians, partisans of Rome, and enemies of Rome, have been so sanguinary,
so barbarous, and so miserable, now persecuting, now persecuted? It is
because they have been the multitude. Whence is it that theists, though
in error, have never done harm to mankind? Because they have been
philosophers. The Christian religion has cost the human species
seventeen millions of men, reckoning only one million per century, who
have perished either by the hands of the ordinary executioner, or by
those of executioners paid and led to battle--all for the salvation of
souls and the greater glory of God.

I have heard men express astonishment that a religion so moderate, and
so apparently conformable to reason, as theism, has not been spread
among the people. Among the great and little vulgar may be found pious
herb-women, Molinist duchesses, scrupulous seamstresses who would go to
the stake for anabaptism, devout hackney-coachmen, most determined in
the cause of Luther or of Arius, but no theists; for theism cannot so
much be called a religion as a system of philosophy, and the vulgar,
whether great or little, are not philosophers.

Locke was a declared theist. I was astonished to find, in that great
philosopher's chapter on innate ideas, that men have all different ideas
of justice. Were such the case, morality would no longer be the same;
the voice of God would not be heard by man; natural religion would be at
an end. I am willing to believe, with him, that there are nations in
which men eat their fathers, and where to lie with a neighbor's wife is
to do him a friendly office; but if this be true it does not prove that
the law, "Do not unto others that which you would not have others do
unto you," is not general. For if a father be eaten, it is when he has
grown old, is too feeble to crawl along, and would otherwise be eaten by
the enemy. And, I ask, what father would not furnish a good meal to his
son rather than to the enemies of his nation? Besides, he who eats his
father hopes that he in turn shall be eaten by his children.

If a service be rendered to a neighbor by lying with his wife, it is
when he cannot himself have a child, and is desirous of having one;
otherwise he would be very angry. In both these cases, and in all
others, the natural law, "Do not to another that which you would not
have another do to you," remains unbroken. All the other rules, so
different and so varied, may be referred to this. When, therefore, the
wise metaphysician, Locke, says that men have no innate ideas, that they
have different ideas of justice and injustice, he assuredly does not
mean to assert that God has not given to all men that instinctive
self-love by which they are of necessity guided.


Epicurus, equally great as a genius, and respectable in his morals; and
after him Lucretius, who forced the Latin language to express
philosophical ideas, and--to the great admiration of Rome--to express
them in verse--Epicurus and Lucretius, I say, admitted atoms and the
void. Gassendi supported this doctrine, and Newton demonstrated it. In
vain did a remnant of Cartesianism still combat for the plenum; in vain
did Leibnitz, who had at first adopted the rational system of Epicurus,
Lucretius, Gassendi, and Newton, change his opinion respecting the void
after he had embroiled himself with his master Newton. The plenum is now
regarded as a chimera.

In this Epicurus and Lucretius appear to have been true philosophers,
and their intermediaries, who have been so much ridiculed, were no other
than the unresisting space in which Newton has demonstrated that the
planets move round their orbits in times proportioned to their areas.
Thus it was not Epicurus' intermediaries, but his opponents, that were
ridiculous. But when Epicurus afterwards tells us that his atoms
declined in the void by chance; that this declination formed men and
animals by chance; that the eyes were placed in the upper part of the
head and the feet at the end of the legs by chance; that ears were not
given to hear, but that the declination of atoms having fortuitously
composed ears, men fortuitously made use of them to hear with--this
madness, called physics, has been very justly turned into ridicule.

Sound philosophy, then, has long distinguished what is good in Epicurus
and Lucretius, from their chimeras, founded on imagination and
ignorance. The most submissive minds have adopted the doctrine of
creation in time, and the most daring have admitted that of creation
before all time. Some have received with faith a universe produced from
nothing; others, unable to comprehend this doctrine in physics, have
believed that all beings were emanations from the Great--the Supreme and
Universal Being; but all have rejected the fortuitous concurrence of
atoms; all have acknowledged that chance is a word without meaning. What
we call chance can be no other than the unknown cause of a known effect.
Whence comes it then, that philosophers are still accused of thinking
that the stupendous and indescribable arrangement of the universe is a
production of the fortuitous concurrence of atoms--an effect of chance?
Neither Spinoza nor any one else has advanced this absurdity.

Yet the son of the great Racine says, in his poem on Religion:

     _O toi! qui follement fais ton Dieu du hasard,_
     _Viens me développer ce nid qu'avec tant d'art,_
     _Au même ordre toujours architecte fidèle,_
     _A l'aide de son bee maçonne l'hirondelle;_
     _Comment, pour élever ce hardi bâtiment,_
     _A-t-elle en le broyant arrondi son ciment?_

     Oh ye, who raise Creation out of chance,
     As erst Lucretius from th' atomic dance!
     Come view with me the swallow's curious nest,
     Where beauty, art, and order, shine confessed.
     How could rude chance, forever dark and blind,
     Preside within the little builder's mind?
     Could she, with accidents unnumbered crowned,
     Its mass concentrate, and its structure round!

These lines are assuredly thrown away. No one makes chance his God; no
one has said that while a swallow "tempers his clay, it takes the form
of his abode by chance." On the contrary, it is said that "he makes his
nest by the laws of necessity," which is the opposite of chance.

The only question now agitated is, whether the author of nature has
formed primordial parts unsusceptible of division, or if all is
continually dividing and changing into other elements. The first system
seems to account for everything, and the second, hitherto at least, for

If the first elements of things were not indestructible one element
might at last swallow up all the rest, and change them into its own
substance. Hence, perhaps it was that Empedocles imagined that
everything came from fire, and would be destroyed by fire.

This question of atoms involves another, that of the divisibility of
matter _ad infinitum_. The word _atom_ signifies _without parts--not to
be divided._ You divide it in thought, for if you were to divide it in
reality it would no longer be an atom.

You may divide a grain of gold into eighteen millions of visible parts;
a grain of copper dissolved in spirit of sal ammoniac has exhibited
upwards of twenty-two thousand parts; but when you have arrived at the
last element the atom escapes the microscope, and you can divide no
further except in imagination.

The infinite divisibility of atoms is like some propositions in
geometry. You may pass an infinity of curves between a circle and its
tangent, supposing the circle and the tangent to be lines without
breadth; but there are no such lines in nature.

You likewise establish that asymptotes will approach one another without
ever meeting; but it is under the supposition that they are lines
having length without breadth--things which have only a speculative

So, also, we represent unity by a line, and divide this line and this
unity into as many fractions as you please; but this infinity of
fractions will never be any other than our unity and our line.

It is not strictly demonstrated that atoms are indivisible, but it
appears that they are not divided by the laws of nature.


Avarities, _amor habendi_--desire of having, avidity, covetousness.
Properly speaking, avarice is the desire of accumulating, whether in
grain, movables, money, or curiosities. There were avaricious men long
before coin was invented.

We do not call a man avaricious who has four and twenty coach horses,
yet will not lend one to his friend: or who, having two thousand bottles
of Burgundy in his cellar, will not send you half a dozen, when he knows
you to be in want of them. If he show you a hundred thousand crowns'
worth of diamonds you do not think of asking him to present you with one
worth twenty livres; you consider him as a man of great magnificence,
but not at all avaricious.

He who in finance, in army contracts, and great undertakings gained two
millions each year, and who, when possessed of forty-three millions,
besides his houses at Paris and his movables, expended fifty thousand
crowns per annum for his table, and sometimes lent money to noblemen at
five per cent, interest, did not pass, in the minds of the people, for
an avaricious man. He had, however, all his life burned with the thirst
of gain; the demon of covetousness was perpetually tormenting him; he
continued to accumulate to the last day of his life. This passion, which
was constantly gratified, has never been called avarice. He did not
expend a tenth part of his income, yet he had the reputation of a
generous man, too fond of splendor.

A father of a family who, with an income of twenty thousand livres,
expends only five or six, and accumulates his savings to portion his
children, has the reputation among his neighbors of being avaricious,
mean, stingy, a niggard, a miser, a grip-farthing; and every abusive
epithet that can be thought of is bestowed upon him.

Nevertheless this good citizen is much more to be honored than the
Crœsus I have just mentioned; he expends three times as much in
proportion. But the cause of the great difference between their
reputations is this:

Men hate the individual whom they call avaricious only because there is
nothing to be gained by him. The physician, the apothecary, the
wine-merchant, the draper, the grocer, the saddler, and a few girls gain
a good deal by our Croesus, who is truly avaricious. But with our close
and economical citizen there is nothing to be done. Therefore he is
loaded with maledictions.

As for those among the avaricious who deprive themselves of the
necessaries of life, we leave them to Plautus and Molière.


Must not a man be very thoroughly possessed by the demon of etymology to
say, with Pezron and others, that the Roman word _augurium_ came from
the Celtic words _au_ and _gur_? According to these learned men _au_
must, among the Basques and Bas-Bretons, have signified _the liver_,
because _asu_, which, (say they) signified _left_, doubtless stood for
the liver, which is on the _right_ side; and _gur_ meant _man_, or
_yellow_, or _red_, in that Celtic tongue of which we have not one
memorial. Truly this is powerful reasoning.

Absurd curiosity (for we must call things by their right names) has been
carried so far as to seek Hebrew and Chaldee derivations from certain
Teutonic and Celtic words. This, Bochart never fails to do. It is
astonishing with what confidence these men of genius have proved that
expressions used on the banks of the Tiber were borrowed from the patois
of the savages of Biscay. Nay, they even assert that this patois was one
of the first idioms of the primitive language--the parent of all other
languages throughout the world. They have only to proceed, and say that
all the various notes of birds come from the cry of the two first
parrots, from which every other species of birds has been produced.

The religious folly of auguries was originally founded on very sound and
natural observations. The birds of passage have always marked the
progress of the seasons. We see them come in flocks in the spring, and
return in the autumn. The cuckoo is heard only in fine weather, which
his note seems to invite. The swallows, skimming along the ground,
announce rain. Each climate has its bird, which is in effect its augury.

Among the observing part of mankind there were, no doubt, knaves who
persuaded fools that there was something divine in these animals, and
that their flight presaged our destinies, which were written on the
wings of a sparrow just as clearly as in the stars.

The commentators on the allegorical and interesting story of Joseph sold
by his brethren, and made Pharaoh's prime minister for having explained
his dreams, infer that Joseph was skilled in the science of auguries,
from the circumstance that Joseph's steward is commanded to say to his
brethren, "Is not this it (the silver cup) in which my lord drinketh?
and whereby indeed he divineth?" Joseph, having caused his brethren to
be brought back before him, says to them: "What deed is this that ye
have done? Wot ye not that such a man as I can certainly divine?"

Judah acknowledges, in the name of his brethren, that Joseph is a great
diviner, and that God has inspired him: "God hath found out the iniquity
of thy servants." At that time they took Joseph for an Egyptian lord. It
is evident from the text that they believe the God of the Egyptians and
of the Jews had discovered to this minister the theft of his cup.

Here, then, we have auguries or divination clearly established in the
Book of Genesis; so clearly that it is afterwards forbidden in
Leviticus: "Ye shall not eat anything with the blood; neither shall ye
use enchantment nor observe times. Ye shall not round the corners of
your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard."

As for the superstition of seeing the future in a cup, it still exists,
and is called seeing in a glass. The individual must never have known
pollution; he must turn towards the east, and pronounce the words,
_Abraxa per dominum nostrum_, after which he will see in a glass of
water whatever he pleases. Children were usually chosen for this
operation. They must retain their hair; a shaven head, or one wearing a
wig, can see nothing in a glass. This pastime was much in vogue in
France during the regency of the duke of Orleans, and still more so in
the times preceding.

As for auguries, they perished with the Roman Empire. Only the bishops
have retained the augurial staff, called the crosier; which was the
distinctive mark of the dignity of augur; so that the symbol of
falsehood has become the symbol of truth.

There were innumerable kinds of divinations, of which several have
reached our latter ages. This curiosity to read the future is a malady
which only philosophy can cure, for the weak minds that still practise
these pretended arts of divination--even the fools who give themselves
to the devils--all make religion subservient to these profanations, by
which it is outraged.

It is an observation worthy of the wise, that Cicero, who was one of the
college of augurs, wrote a book for the sole purpose of turning auguries
into ridicule; but they have likewise remarked that Cicero, at the end
of his book, says that "superstition should be destroyed, but not
religion. For," he adds, "the beauty of the universe, and the order of
the heavenly bodies force us to acknowledge an eternal and powerful
nature. We must maintain the religion which is joined with the knowledge
of this nature, by utterly extirpating superstition, for it is a monster
which pursues and presses us on every side. The meeting with a pretended
diviner, a presage, an immolated victim, a bird, a Chaldæan, an
aruspice, a flash of lightning, a clap of thunder, an event accidentally
corresponding with what has been foretold to us, everything disturbs and
makes us uneasy; sleep itself, which should make us forget all these
pains and fears, serves but to redouble them by frightful images."

Cicero thought he was addressing only a few Romans, but he was speaking
to all men and all ages.

Most of the great men of Rome no more believed in auguries than
Alexander VI., Julius II., and Leo X., believed in Our Lady of Loretto
and the blood of St. Januarius. However, Suetonius relates that
Octavius, surnamed Augustus, was so weak as to believe that a fish,
which leaped from the sea upon the shore at Actium, foreboded that he
should gain the battle. He adds that, having afterwards met an
ass-driver, he asked him the name of his ass; and the man having
answered that his ass was named Nicholas, which signifies conqueror of
nations, he had no longer any doubts about the victory; and that he
afterwards had brazen statues erected to the ass-driver, the ass, and
the jumping fish. He further assures us that these statues were placed
in the Capitol.

It is very likely that this able tyrant laughed at the superstitions of
the Romans, and that his ass, the driver, and the fish, were nothing
more than a joke. But it is no less likely that, while he despised all
the follies of the vulgar, he had a few of his own. The barbarous and
dissimulating Louis XI. had a firm faith in the cross of St. Louis.
Almost all princes, excepting such as have had time to read, and read to
advantage, are in some degree infected with superstition.


Augustine, a native of Tagaste, is here to be considered, not as a
bishop, a doctor, a father of the Church, but simply as a man. This is a
question in physics, respecting the climate of Africa.

When a youth, Augustine was a great libertine, and the spirit was no
less quick in him than the flesh. He says that before he was twenty
years old he had learned arithmetic, geometry and music without a

Does not this prove that, in Africa, which we now call Barbary, both
minds and bodies advance to maturity more rapidly than among us?

These valuable advantages of St. Augustine would lead one to believe
that Empedocles was not altogether in the wrong when he regarded fire as
the principle of nature. It is assisted, but by subordinate agents. It
is like a king governing the actions of all his subjects, and sometimes
inflaming the imaginations of his people rather too much. It is not
without reason that Syphax says to Juba, in the Cato of Addison, that
the sun which rolls its fiery car over African heads places a deeper
tinge upon the cheeks, and a fiercer flame within their hearts. That the
dames of Zama are vastly superior to the pale beauties of the north:

    The glowing dames of Zama's royal court
    Have faces flushed with more exalted charms;
    Were you with these, my prince, you'd soon forget
    The pale unripened beauties of the north.

Where shall we find in Paris, Strasburg, Ratisbon, or Vienna young men
who have learned arithmetic, the mathematics and music without
assistance, and who have been fathers at fourteen?

Doubtless it is no fable that Atlas, prince of Mauritania, called by the
Greeks the son of heaven, was a celebrated astronomer, and constructed a
celestial sphere such as the Chinese have had for so many ages. The
ancients, who expressed everything in allegory, likened this prince to
the mountain which bears his name, because it lifts its head above the
clouds, which have been called the heavens by all mankind who have
judged of things only from the testimony of their eyes.

These Moors cultivated the sciences with success, and taught Spain and
Italy for five centuries. Things are greatly altered. The country of
Augustine is now but a den of pirates, while England, Italy, Germany,
and France, which were involved in barbarism, are greater cultivators of
the arts than ever the Arabians were.

Our only object, then, in this article is to show how changeable a scene
this world is. Augustine, from a debauchee, becomes an orator and a
philosopher; he puts himself forward in the world; he teaches rhetoric;
he turns Manichæan, and from Manichæanism passes to Christianity. He
causes himself to be baptized, together with one of his bastards, named
Deodatus; he becomes a bishop, and a father of the Church. His system of
grace has been reverenced for eleven hundred years as an article of
faith. At the end of eleven hundred years some Jesuits find means to
procure an anathema against Augustine's system, word for word, under the
names of Jansenius, St. Cyril, Arnaud, and Quesnel. We ask if this
revolution is not, in its kind, as great as that of Africa, and if there
be anything permanent upon earth?


_The Morals of Augustus._

Manners can be known only from facts, which facts must be incontestable.
It is beyond doubt that this man, so immoderately praised as the
restorer of morals and of laws, was long one of the most infamous
debauchees in the Roman commonwealth. His epigram on Fulvia, written
after the horrors of the proscriptions, proves that he was no less a
despiser of decency in his language than he was a barbarian in his
conduct. This abominable epigram is one of the strongest testimonies to
Augustus' infamous immorality. Sextus Pompeius also reproached him with
shameful weaknesses: _"Effeminatum infectatus est."_ Antony, before the
triumvirate, declared that Cæsar, great-uncle to Augustus, had adopted
him as his son only because he had been subservient to his pleasures;
_"Adopt ionem avunculi stupro meritum."_

Lucius Cæsar charged him with the same crime, and even asserted that he
had been base enough to sell himself to Hirtius for a very considerable
sum. He was so shameless as to take the wife of a consul from her
husband in the midst of a supper; he took her to a neighboring closet,
staid with her there for some time, and brought her back to table
without himself, the woman, or her husband blushing at all at the

We have also a letter from Antony to Augustus, couched in these terms:
_"Ita valeas ut hanc epistolam cum leges, non inieris Testullam, aut
Terentillam, aut Russillam, aut Salviam, aut omnes. Anne refert ubi et
in quam arrigas?"_ We are afraid to translate this licentious letter.

Nothing is better known than the scandalous feast of five of the
companions of his pleasures with five of the principal women of Rome.
They were dressed up as gods and goddesses, and imitated all the
immodesties invented in fable--_"Bum nova Divorum cœnat adulteria."_
And on the stage he was publicly designated by this famous line:

     _Videsne ut cinaedus orbem digito temperet?_

Almost every Latin author that speaks of Ovid asserts that Augustus had
the insolence to banish that Roman knight, who was a much better man
than himself, merely because the other had surprised him in an incest
with his own daughter Julia; and that he sent his daughter into exile
only through jealousy. This is the more likely, as Caligula published
aloud that his mother was born from the incest of Augustus with Julia.
So says Suetonius, in his life of Caligula.

We know that Augustus repudiated the mother of Julia the very day she
was brought to bed of her, and on the same day took Livia from her
husband when she was pregnant of Tiberius--another monster, who
succeeded him. Such was the man to whom Horace said: _"Res Italas armis
tuteris, moribus ornes, Legibus emendes...."_

It is hard to repress our indignation at reading at the commencement of
the Georgics that Augustus is one of the greatest of divinities; and
that it is not known what place he will one day deign to occupy in
heaven; whether he will reign in the air, or become the protector of
cities, or vouchsafe to accept the empire of the seas:

     _An Deus immensi venias maris, ac tua nauta_
     _Numina sola celant tibi servial ultima Thule._

Ariosto speaks with much more sense as well as grace, when he says in
his fine thirty-fifth canto:

     _Non fu si santo ne benigno Augusto_
       _Come la tromba di Virgilio sonna;_
     _L'aver avuto in poesia buon gusto_
       _La proscriptione iniqua gli perdona._

       Augustus was not quite so mild and chaste
         As he's by honest Virgil represented;
       But then, the tyrant had poetic taste;
         With this the poet fully was contented.

_The Cruelties of Augustus._

If Augustus was long abandoned to the most shameful and frantic
dissipation, his cruelty was no less uniform and deliberate. His
proscriptions were published in the midst of feasting and revelry; he
proscribed more than three hundred senators, two thousand knights, and
one hundred obscure but wealthy heads of families, whose only crime was
their being rich, Antony and Octavius had them killed, solely that they
might get possession of their money; in which they differed not the
least from highway robbers, who are condemned to the wheel.

Octavius, immediately after the Persian war, gave his veterans all the
lands belonging to the citizens of Mantua and Cremona, thus recompensing
murder by depredation.

It is but too certain that the world was ravaged, from the Euphrates to
the extremities of Spain, by this man without shame, without faith,
honor, or probity, knavish, ungrateful, avaricious, blood-thirsty, cool
in the commission of crime, who, in any well-regulated republic, would
have been condemned to the greatest of punishments for the first of his

Nevertheless, the government of Augustus is still admired, because under
him Rome tasted peace, pleasure and abundance. Seneca says of him:
_"Clementiam non voco lassam crudelitatem"_--"I do not call exhausted
cruelty clemency."

It is thought that Augustus became milder when crime was no longer
necessary to him; and that, being absolute master, he saw that he had no
other interest than to appear just. But it appears to me that he still
was pitiless rather than clement; for, after the battle of Actium, he
had Antony's son murdered at the feet of Cæsar's statue; and he was so
barbarous as to have young Cæsarion, the son of Cæsar and Cleopatra,
beheaded, though he had recognized him as king of Egypt.

Suspecting one day that the prætor Quintus Gallius had come to an
audience with a poinard under his robe, he had him put to the torture in
his presence; and, in his indignation at hearing that senator call him a
tyrant, he tore out his eyes with his own hands; at least, so says

We know that Cæsar, his adopted father, was great enough to pardon
almost all his enemies; but I do not find that Augustus pardoned one of
his. I have great doubts of his pretended clemency to Cinna. This affair
is mentioned neither by Suetonius nor by Tacitus. Suetonius, who speaks
of all the conspiracies against Augustus, would not have failed to
mention the most memorable. The singularity of giving a consulship to
Cinna in return for the blackest perfidy would not have escaped every
contemporary historian. Dion Cassius speaks of it only after Seneca; and
this passage in Seneca has the appearance rather of declamation than of
historical truth. Besides, Seneca lays the scene in Gaul, and Dion at
Rome; this contradiction deprives the occurrence of all remaining
verisimilitude. Not one of our Roman histories, compiled in haste and
without selection, has discussed this interesting fact. Lawrence
Echard's History has appeared to enlightened men to be as faulty as it
is mutilated; writers have rarely been guided by the spirit of

Cinna might be suspected, or convicted, by Augustus of some infidelity;
and, when the affair had been cleared up, he might honor him with the
vain title of consul; but it is not at all probable that Cinna sought by
a conspiracy to seize the supreme authority--he, who had never commanded
an army, was supported by no party, and was a man of no consideration in
the empire. It is not very likely that a mere subordinate courtier would
think of succeeding a sovereign who had been twenty years firmly
established on his throne, and had heirs; nor is it more likely that
Augustus would make him consul immediately after the conspiracy.

If Cinna's adventure be true, Augustus pardoned him only because he
could not do otherwise, being overcome by the reasoning or the
importunities of Livia, who had acquired great influence over him, and
persuaded him, says Seneca, that pardon would do him more service than
chastisement. It was then only through policy that he, for once, was
merciful; it certainly was not through generosity.

Shall we give a robber credit for clemency, because, being enriched and
secure, enjoying in peace the fruits of his rapine, he is not every day
assassinating the sons and grandsons of the proscribed, while they are
kneeling to and worshipping him? After being a barbarian he was a
prudent politician. It is worthy of remark that posterity never gave
him the title of virtuous, which was bestowed on Titus, on Trajan, and
the Antonines. It even became customary in the compliments paid to
emperors on their accession, to wish that they might be more fortunate
than Augustus, and more virtuous than Trajan. It is now, therefore,
allowable to consider Augustus as a clever and fortunate monster.

Louis Racine, son of the great Racine, and heir to a part of his
talents, seems to forget himself when he says, in his "Reflections on
Poetry," that "Horace and Virgil spoiled Augustus; they exhausted their
art in poisoning the mind of Augustus by their praises." These
expressions would lead one to believe that the eulogies so meanly
lavished by these two great poets, corrupted this emperor's fine
disposition. But Louis Racine very well knew that Augustus was an
exceedingly bad man, regarding crime and virtue with indifference,
availing himself alike of the horrors of the one and the appearances of
the other, attentive solely to his own interest, employing bloodshed and
peace, arms and laws, religion and pleasure, only to make himself master
of the earth, and sacrificing everything to himself. Louis Racine only
shows us that Virgil and Horace had servile souls.

He is, unfortunately, too much in the right when he reproaches Corneille
with having dedicated _"Cinna"_ to the financier Montoron, and said to
that receiver. "What you most especially have in common with Augustus
is the generosity with which," etc., for, though Augustus was the most
wicked of Roman citizens, it must be confessed that the first of the
emperors, the master, the pacificator, the legislator of the then known
world, should not be placed absolutely on a level with a clerk to a
comptroller-general in Gaul.

The same Louis Racine, in justly condemning the mean adulation of
Corneille, and the baseness of the aged Horace and Virgil, marvellously
lays hold of this passage in Massillon's _"Petit Carême!"_ "It is no
less culpable to fail in truth towards monarchs than to be wanting in
fidelity; the same penalty should be imposed on adulation as on revolt."

I ask your pardon, Father Massillon; but this stroke of yours is very
oratorical, very preacher-like, very exaggerated. The League and the
Fronde have, if I am not deceived, done more harm than Quinault's
prologues. There is no way of condemning Quinault as a rebel. _"Est
modus in rebus."_ Father Massillon, which is wanting in all
manufacturers of sermons.


Avignon and its country are monuments of what the abuse of religion,
ambition, knavery, and fanaticism united can effect. This little
country, after a thousand vicissitudes, had, in the twelfth century,
passed into the hands of the counts of Toulouse, descended from
Charlemagne by the female side.

Raymond VI., count of Toulouse, whose forefathers had been the principal
heroes in the crusades, was stripped of his states by a crusade which
the pope stirred up against him. The cause of the crusade was the desire
of having his spoils; the pretext was that in several of his towns the
citizens thought nearly as has been thought for upwards of two hundred
years in England, Sweden, Denmark, three-fourths of Switzerland,
Holland, and half of Germany.

This was hardly a sufficient reason for _giving_, in the name of God,
the states of the count of Toulouse to the first occupant, and for
devoting to slaughter and fire his subjects, crucifix in hand, and white
cross on shoulder. All that is related of the most savage people falls
far short of the barbarities committed in this war, called holy. The
ridiculous atrocity of some religious ceremonies always, accompanied
these horrid excesses. It is known that Raymond VI. was dragged to a
church of St. Giles's, before a legate, naked to the waist, without hose
or sandals, with a rope about his neck, which was held by a deacon,
while another deacon flogged him, and a third sung _miserere_ with some
monks--and all the while the legate was at dinner. Such was the origin
of the right of the popes over Avignon.

Count Raymond, who had submitted to the flagellation in order to
preserve his states, underwent this ignominy to no purpose whatever. He
had to defend by arms what he had thought to preserve by suffering a few
stripes; he saw his towns laid in ashes, and died in 1213 amid the
vicissitudes of the most sanguinary war.

His son, Raymond VII., was not, like his father, suspected of heresy;
but he was the son of a heretic, and was to be stripped of all his
possessions, by virtue of the Decretals; such was the law. The crusade,
therefore, was continued against him; he was excommunicated in the
churches, on Sundays and holidays, to the sound of bells and with tapers

A legate who was in France during the minority of St. Louis raised
tenths there to maintain this war in Languedoc and Provence. Raymond
defended himself with courage; but the heads of the hydra of fanaticism
were incessantly reappearing to devour him.

The pope at last made peace because all his money had been expended in
war. Raymond VII. came and signed the treaty before the portal of the
cathedral of Paris. He was forced to pay ten thousand marks of silver to
the legate, two thousand to the abbey of Citeaux, five hundred to the
abbey of Clairvaux, a thousand to that of Grand-Selve, and three hundred
to that of Belleperche---all for the salvation of his soul, as is
specified in the treaty. So it was that the Church always negotiated.

It is very remarkable that in this document the count of Toulouse
constantly puts the legate before the king: "I swear and promise to the
legate and to the king faithfully to observe all these things, and to
cause them to be observed by my vassals and subjects," etc.

This was not all. He ceded to Pope Gregory IX. the country of Venaissin
beyond the Rhône, and the sovereignty of seventy-three castles on this
side the same river. The pope adjudged this fine to himself by a
particular act, desirous that, in a public instrument, the
acknowledgment of having exterminated so many Christians for the purpose
of seizing upon his neighbor's goods, should not appear in so glaring a
light. Besides, he demanded what Raymond could not grant, without the
consent of the Emperor Frederick II. The count's lands, on the left bank
of the Rhône, were an imperial fief, and Frederick II. never sanctioned
this exaction.

Alphonso, brother of St. Louis, having married this unfortunate prince's
daughter, by whom he had no children, all the states of Raymond VII. in
Languedoc, devolved to the crown of France, as had been stipulated in
the marriage contract.

The country of Venaissin, which is in Provence, had been magnanimously
given up by the Emperor Frederick II. to the count of Toulouse. His
daughter Joan, before her death, had disposed of them by will in favor
of Charles of Anjou, count of Provence, and king of Naples.

Philip the Bold, son of St. Louis, being pressed by Pope Gregory IX.,
gave the country of Venaissin to the Roman church in 1274. It must be
confessed that Philip the Bold gave what in no way belonged to him; that
this cession was absolutely null and void, and that no act ever was more
contrary to all law.

It is the same with the town of Avignon. Joan of France, queen of
Naples, descended from the brother of St. Louis, having been, with but
too great an appearance of justice, accused of causing her husband to be
strangled, desired the protection of Pope Clement VI., whose see was
then the town of Avignon, in Joan's domains. She was countess of
Provence. In 1347 the Provencals made her swear, on the gospel, that she
would sell none of her sovereignties. She had scarcely taken this oath
before she went and sold Avignon to the pope. The authentic act was not
signed until June 14, 1348; the sum stipulated for was eighty thousand
florins of gold. The pope declared her innocent of her husband's murder,
but never paid her. Joan's receipt has never been produced. She
protested juridically four several times against this deceitful

So that Avignon and its country were never considered to have been
dismembered from Provence, otherwise than by a rapine, which was the
more manifest, as it had been sought to cover it with the cloak of

When Louis XI. acquired Provence he acquired it with all the rights
appertaining thereto; and, as appears by a letter from John of Foix to
that monarch, had in 1464 resolved to enforce them. But the intrigues of
the court of Rome were always so powerful that the kings of France
condescended to allow it the enjoyment of this small province. They
never acknowledged in the popes a lawful possession, but only a simple

In the treaty of Pisa, made by Louis XIV. with Alexander VII., in 1664,
it is said that, "every obstacle shall be removed, in order that the
pope may enjoy Avignon as before." The pope, then, had this province
only as cardinals have pensions from the king, which pensions are
discretional. Avignon and its country were a constant source of
embarrassment to the French government; they afforded a refuge to all
the bankrupts and smugglers, though very little profit thence accrued to
the pope.

Louis XIV. twice resumed his rights; but it was rather to chastise the
pope than to reunite Avignon and its country with his crown. At length
Louis XV. did justice to his dignity and to his subjects. The gross and
indecent conduct of Pope Rezzonico (Clement XIII.) forced him in 1768 to
revive the rights of his crown. This pope had acted as if he belonged
to the fourteenth century. He was, however, with the applause of all
Europe, convinced that he lived in the eighteenth.

When the officer bearing the king's orders entered Avignon, he went
straight to the legate's apartment, without being announced, and said to
him, "Sir, the king takes possession of his town." There is some
difference between this proceeding and a count of Toulouse being flogged
by a deacon, while a legate is at dinner. Things, we see, change with



Suppose that some chosen individuals, lovers of study, united together
after a thousand catastrophes had happened to the world, and employed
themselves in worshipping God and regulating the time of the year, as is
said of the ancient Brahmins and Magi; all this is perfectly good and
honest. They might, by their frugal life, set an example to the rest of
the world; they might abstain, during the celebration of their feasts,
from all intoxicating liquors, and all commerce with their wives; they
might be clothed modestly and decently; if they were wise, other men
consulted them; if they were just, they were loved and reverenced. But
did not superstition, brawling, and vanity soon take the place of the

Was not the first madman that flogged himself publicly to appease the
gods the original of the priests of the Syrian goddess, who flogged
themselves in her honor; of the priests of Isis, who did the same on
certain days; of the priests of Dodona, named Salii, who inflicted
wounds on themselves; of the priests of Bellona, who struck themselves
with sabres; of the priests of Diana, who drew blood from their backs
with rods; of the priests of Cybele, who made themselves eunuchs; of the
fakirs of India, who loaded themselves with chains? Has the hope of
obtaining abundant alms nothing at all to do with the practice of these

Is there not some similarity between the beggars, who make their legs
swell by a certain application and cover their bodies with sores, in
order to force a few pence from the passengers, and the impostors of
antiquity, who seated themselves upon nails, and sold the holy nails to
the devout of their country?

And had vanity never any share in promoting these public mortifications,
which attracted the eyes of the multitude? "I scourge myself, but it is
to expiate your faults; I go naked, but it is to reproach you with the
richness of your garments; I feed on herbs and snails, but it is to
correct in you the vice of gluttony; I wear an iron ring to make you
blush at your lewdness. Reverence me as one cherished by the gods, and
who will bring down their favors upon you. When you shall be accustomed
to reverence me, you will not find it hard to obey me; I will be your
master, in the name of the gods; and then, if any one of you disobey my
will in the smallest particular, I will have you impaled to appease the
wrath of heaven."

If the first fakirs did not pronounce these words, it is very probable
that they had them engraved at the bottom of their hearts.

Human sacrifices, perhaps, had their origin in these frantic
austerities. Men who drew their blood in public with rods, and mangled
their arms and thighs to gain consideration, would easily make imbecile
savages believe that they must sacrifice to the gods whatever was
dearest to them; that to have a fair wind, they must immolate a
daughter; to avert pestilence, precipitate a son from a rock; to have
infallibly a good harvest, throw a daughter into the Nile.

These Asiatic superstitions gave rise to the flagellations which we have
imitated from the Jews. Their devotees still flog themselves, and flog
one another, as the priests of Egypt and Syria did of old. Among us the
abbots flogged their monks, and the confessors their penitents--of both
sexes. St. Augustine wrote to Marcellinus, the tribune, that "the
Donatists must be whipped as schoolmasters whip their scholars."

It is said that it was not until the tenth century that monks and nuns
began to scourge themselves on certain days of the year. The custom of
scourging sinners as a penance was so well established that St. Louis's
confessor often gave him the whip. Henry II. was flogged by the monks
of Canterbury (in 1207). Raymond, count of Toulouse, with a rope round
his neck, was flogged by a deacon, at the door of St. Giles's church, as
has before been said.

The chaplains to Louis VIII., king of France, were condemned by the
pope's legate to go at the four great feasts to the door of the
cathedral of Paris, and present rods to the canons, that they might flog
them in expiation for the crime of the king, their master, who had
accepted the crown of England, which the pope had taken from him by
virtue of the plenitude of his power. Indeed, the pope showed great
indulgence in not having the king himself whipped, but contenting
himself with commanding him, on pain of damnation, to pay to the
apostolic chamber the amount of two years' revenue.

From this custom is derived that which still exists, of arming all the
grand-penitentiaries in St. Peter's at Rome with long wands instead of
rods, with which they give gentle taps to the penitents, lying all their
length on the floor. In this manner it was that Henry IV., of France,
had his posteriors flogged by Cardinal Ossat and Duperron. So true is it
that we have scarcely yet emerged from barbarism.

At the commencement of the thirteenth century fraternities of penitents
were formed at Perosia and Bologna. Young men almost naked, with a rod
in one hand and a small crucifix in the other, flogged themselves in
the streets; while the women peeped through the window-blinds and
whipped themselves in their chambers.

These flagellators inundated Europe; there are many of them still to be
found in Italy, in Spain, and even in France, at Perpignan. At the
beginning of the sixteenth century it was very common for confessors to
whip the posteriors of their penitents. A history of the Low Countries,
composed by Meteren, relates that a cordelier named Adriacem, a great
preacher at Bruges, used to whip his female penitents quite naked.

The Jesuit Edmund Auger, confessor to Henry III., persuaded that
unfortunate prince to put himself at the head of the flagellators.

Flogging the posteriors is practised in various convents of monks and
nuns; from which custom there have sometimes resulted strange
immodesties, over which _we_ must throw a veil, in order to spare the
blushes of such as wear the _sacred_ veil, and whose sex and profession
are worthy of our highest regard.


Author is a generic term, which, like the names of all other
professions, may signify author of the good, or of the bad; of the
respectable, or of the ridiculous; of the useful, or the agreeable; or
lastly, the producer of disgusting trash.

This name is also common to different things. We say equally the author
of nature and the author of the songs of the Pont Neuf, or of the
literary age. The author of a good work should beware of three
things--title, dedication, and preface. Others should take care of the
fourth, which is writing at all.

As to the title, if the author has the wish to put his name to it, which
is often very dangerous, it should at least be under a modest form; it
is not pleasant to see a pious work, full of lessons of humanity, by Sir
or My Lord. The reader; who is always malicious, and who often is
wearied, usually turns into ridicule a book that is announced with so
much ostentation. The author of the "Imitation of Jesus Christ" did not
put his name to it.

But the apostles, you will say, put their names to their works; that is
not true, they were too modest. The apostle Matthew never entitled his
book the Gospel of St. Matthew; it is a homage that has been paid to him
since. St. Luke himself, who collected all that he had heard said, and
who dedicated his book to Theophilus, did not call it the Gospel of St.
Luke. St. John alone mentions himself in the Apocalypse; and it is
supposed that this book was written by Cerinthus, who took the name of
John to give authority to his production.

However it may have been in past ages, it appears to me very bold in
authors now to put names and titles at the head of their works. The
bishops never fail to do so, and the thick quartos which they give us
under the title of mandaments are decorated with armorial bearings and
the insignia of their station; a word, no doubt, is said about Christian
humility, but this word is often followed by atrocious calumnies against
those who are of another communion or party. We only speak here,
however, of poor profane authors. The duke de la Rochefoucauld did not
announce his thoughts as the production of _Monseigneur le dud de la
Rochefoucauld, pair de France_. Some persons who only make compilations
in which there may be fine things, will find it injudicious to announce
them as the work of A.B., professor of the university of ----, doctor of
divinity, member of this or of that academy, and so on. So many
dignities do not render the book better. It will still be wished that it
was shorter, more philosophical, less filled with old stories. With
respect to titles and quality, nobody cares about them.

Dedications are often only offerings from interested baseness to
disdainful vanity. Who would believe that Rohaut, _soi-disant_
physician, in his dedication to the duke of Guise, told him that his
ancestors had maintained, at the expense of their blood, political
truth, the fundamental laws of the state, and the rights of sovereigns?
Le Balafré and the duke of Mayenne would be a little surprised if this
epistle were read to them in the other world. And what would Henry IV.
say? Most of the dedications in England are made for money, just as the
capuchins present us with salad on condition of our giving them drink.

Men of letters in France are ignorant of this shameful abasement, and
have never exhibited so much meanness, except some unfortunates, who
call themselves men of letters in the same sense that sign-daubers boast
of being of the profession of Raphael, and that the coachman of
Vertamont was a poet.

Prefaces are another rock. "The _I_ is hateful," says Pascal. Speak of
yourself as little as you can, for you ought to be aware that the
self-love of the reader is as great as your own. He will never pardon
you for wishing to oblige him to esteem you. It is for your book to
speak to him, should it happen to be read among the crowd.

"The illustrious suffrages with which my piece has been honored will
make me dispense with answering my adversaries--the applauses of the
public." Erase all that, sir; believe me you have had no illustrious
suffrages; your piece is eternally forgotten.

"Some censors have pretended that there are too many events in the third
act; and that in the fourth the princess is too late in discovering the
tender sentiments of her heart for her lover. To that I answer--" Answer
nothing, my friend, for nobody has spoken-, or will speak of thy
princess. Thy piece has fallen because it is tiresome, and written in
flat and barbarous verse; thy preface is a prayer for the dead, but it
will not revive them.

Others attest that all Europe has not understood their treatises on
compatibility--on the Supralapsarians--on the difference which should be
made between the Macedonian and Valentinian heresies, etc. Truly, I
believe that nobody understands them, since nobody reads them.

We are inundated with this trash and with continual repetition; with
insipid romances which copy their predecessors; with new systems founded
on ancient reveries; and little histories taken from larger ones.

Do you wish to be an author? Do you wish to make a book? Recollect that
it must be new and useful, or at least agreeable. Why from your
provincial retreat would you assassinate me with another quarto, to
teach me that a king ought to be just, and that Trajan was more virtuous
than Caligula? You insist upon printing the sermons which have lulled
your little obscure town to repose, and will put all our histories under
contributions to extract from them the life of a prince of whom you can
say nothing new.

If you have written a history of your own time, doubt not but you will
find some learned chronologist, or newspaper commentator, who will
relieve you as to a date, a Christian name, or a squadron which you have
wrongly placed at the distance of three hundred paces from the place
where if really stood. Be grateful, and correct these important errors

If an ignoramus, or an empty fool, pretend to criticise this thing or
the other, you may properly confute him; but name him rarely, for fear
of soiling your writings. If you are attacked on your style, never
answer; your work alone should reply.

If you are said to be sick, content yourself that you are well, without
wishing to prove to the people that you are in perfect health; and,
above all, remember that the world cares very little whether you are
well or ill.

A hundred authors compile to get their bread, and twenty fools extract,
criticise, apologize, and satirize these compilations to get bread also,
because they have no profession. All these people repair on Fridays to
the lieutenant of the police at Paris to demand permission to sell their
drugs. They have audience immediately after the courtesans, who do not
regard them, because they know that they are poor customers.

They return with a tacit permission to sell and distribute throughout
the kingdom their stories; their collection of bon-mots; the life of the
unfortunate Régis; the translation of a German poem; new discoveries on
eels; a new copy of verses; a treatise on the origin of bells, or on the
loves of the toads. A bookseller buys their productions for ten crowns;
they give five of them to the journalist, on condition that he will
speak well of them in his newspaper. The critic takes their money, and
says all the ill he can of their books. The aggrieved parties go to
complain to the Jew, who protects the wife of the journalist, and the
scene closes by the critic being carried to Fort Evêque; and these are
they who call themselves authors!

These poor people are divided into two or three bands, and go begging
like mendicant friars; but not having taken vows their society lasts
only for a few days, for they betray one another like priests who run
after the same benefice, though they have no benefice to hope for. But
they still call themselves authors!

The misfortune of these men is that their fathers did not make them
learn a trade, which is a great defect in modern policy. Every man of
the people who can bring up his son in a useful art, and does not,
merits punishment. The son of a mason becomes a Jesuit at seventeen; he
is chased from society at four and twenty, because the levity of his
manners is too glaring. Behold him without bread! He turns journalist,
he cultivates the lowest kind of literature, and becomes the contempt
and horror of even the mob. And such as these, again, call themselves

The only authors are they who have succeeded in a genuine art, be it
epic poetry, tragedy, comedy, history, or philosophy, and who teach or
delight mankind. The others, of whom we have spoken, are, among men of
letters, like bats among the birds. We cite, comment, criticise,
neglect, forget, and, above all, despise an author who is an author

Apropos of citing an author, I must amuse myself with relating a
singular mistake of the reverend Father Viret, cordelier and professor
of theology. He read in the "Philosophy of History" of the good abbé
Bazin that no author ever cited a passage of Moses before Longinus, who
lived and died in the time of the Emperor Aurelian. Forthwith the zeal
of St. Francis was kindled in him. Viret cries out that it is not true;
that several writers have said that there had been a Moses, that even
Josephus had spoken at length upon him, and that the Abbé Bazin is a
wretch who would destroy the seven sacraments. But, dear Father Viret,
you ought to inform yourself of the meaning of the word, to _cite_.
There is a great deal of difference between mentioning an author and
citing him. To speak, to make mention of an author, is to say that he
has lived--that he has written in such a time; to cite is to give one of
his passages--as Moses says in his Exodus--as Moses has written in his
Genesis. Now the Abbé Brazin affirms that no foreign writers--that none
even of the Jewish prophets have ever quoted a single passage of Moses,
though he was a divine author. Truly, Father Viret, you are very
malicious, but we shall know at least, by this little paragraph, that
_you_ have been an author.

The most voluminous authors that we have had in France are the
comptrollers-general of the finances. Ten great volumes might be made of
their declarations, since the reign of Louis XIV. Parliaments have been
sometimes the critics of these works, and have found erroneous
propositions and contradictions in them. But where are the good authors
who have not been censured?


Miserable human beings, whether in green robes or in turbans, whether in
black gowns or in surplices, or in mantles and bands, never seek to
employ authority where nothing is concerned but reason, or consent to be
reviled in all ages as the most impertinent of men, as well as to endure
public hatred as the most unjust.

You have been told a hundred times of the insolent absurdity with which
you condemned Galileo, and I speak to you of it for the hundred and
first. I would have it inscribed over the door of your holy office.

Seven cardinals, assisted by certain minorite friars, threw into prison
the master of thinking in Italy, at the age of seventy; and made him
live upon bread and water because he instructed mankind in that of which
they were ignorant.

Having passed a decree in favor of the categories of Aristotle, the
above junta learnedly and equitably doomed to the penalty of the galleys
whoever should dare to be of another opinion from the Stagyrite, of
whom two councils had burned the books.

Further, a Faculty, which possessed very small faculties, made a decree
_against_ innate ideas, and afterwards another _for_ them, without the
said Faculty being informed, except by its beadles, of what an idea was.

In neighboring schools legal proceedings were commenced against the
circulation of the blood. A process was issued against inoculation, and
the parties cited by summons.

One and twenty volumes of thoughts in folio have been seized, in which
it was wickedly and falsely said that triangles have always three
angles; that a father was older than his son; that Rhea Silvia lost her
virginity before her accouchement; and that farina differs from oak

In another year the following question was decided: _"Utrum chimæra
bombinans in vacuo possit comedere secundas intentiones?"_ and decided
in the affirmative. These judges, of course, considered themselves much
superior to Archimedes, Euclid, Cicero, or Pliny, and strutted about the
Universities accordingly.


How is it that the axis of the earth is not perpendicular to the
equator? Why is it raised toward the north and inclined towards the
south pole, in a position which does not appear natural, and which
seems the consequence of some derangement, or the result of a period of
a prodigious number of years?

Is it true that the ecliptic continually inclines by an insensible
movement towards the equator and that the angle formed by these two
lines has a little diminished in two thousand years?

Is it true that the ecliptic has been formerly perpendicular to the
equator, that the Egyptians have said so, and that Herodotus has related
it? This motion of the ecliptic would form a period of about two
millions of years. It is not that which astounds us, for the axis of the
earth has an imperceptible movement in about twenty-six thousand years
which occasions the precession of the equinoxes. It is as easy for
nature to produce a rotation of twenty thousand as of two hundred and
sixty ages.

We are deceived when we are told that the Egyptians had, according to
Herodotus, a tradition that the ecliptic had been formerly perpendicular
to the equator. The tradition of which Herodotus speaks has no relation
to the coincidence of the equinoctial and ecliptic lines; that is quite
another affair.

The pretended scholars of Egypt said that the sun in the space of eleven
thousand years had set twice in the east and risen twice in the west.
When the equator and the ecliptic coincided, and when the days were
everywhere equal to the nights the sun did not on that account change
its setting and rising, but the earth turned on its axis from west to
east, as at this day. This idea of making the sun set in the east is a
chimera only worthy of the brains of the priests of Egypt and shows the
profound ignorance of those jugglers who have had so much reputation.
The tale should be classed with those of the satyrs who sang and danced
in the train of Osiris; with the little boys whom they would not feed
till after they had run eight leagues, to teach them to conquer the
world; with the two children who cried _bec_ in asking for bread and who
by that means discovered that the Phrygian was the original language;
with King Psammeticus, who gave his daughter to a thief who had
dexterously stolen his money, etc.

Ancient history, ancient astronomy, ancient physics, ancient medicine
(up to Hippocrates), ancient geography, ancient metaphysics, all are
nothing but ancient absurdities which ought to make us feel the
happiness of being born in later times.

There is, no doubt, more truth in two pages of the French Encyclopædia
in relation to physics than in all the library of Alexandria, the loss
of which is so much regretted.



Babel signifies among the Orientals, God the Father, the power of God,
the gate of God, according to the way in which the word is pronounced.
It appears, therefore, that Babylon was the city of God, the holy city.
Every capital of a state was a city of God, the sacred city. The Greeks
called them all Hieropolis, and there were more than thirty of this
name. The tower of Babel, then, signifies the tower of God the Father.

Josephus says truly that Babel signifies confusion; Calmet says, with
others, that Bilba, in Chaldæan, signifies confounded, but all the
Orientals have been of a contrary opinion. The word confusion would be a
strange etymon for the capital of a vast empire. I very much like the
opinion of Rabelais, who pretends that Paris was formerly called Lutetia
on account of the ladies' white legs.

Be that as it may, commentators have tormented themselves to know to
what height men had raised this famous tower of Babel. St. Jerome gives
it twenty thousand feet. The ancient Jewish book entitled _"Jacult"_
gave it eighty-one thousand. Paul Lucas has seen the remains of it and
it is a fine thing to be as keen-sighted as Paul Lucas, but these
dimensions are not the only difficulties which have exercised the

People have wished to know how the children of Noah, after having
divided among themselves the islands of the nations and established
themselves in various lands, with each one his particular language,
families, and people, should all find themselves in the plain of
Shinaar, to build there a tower saying, "Let us make us a name lest we
be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth."

The Book of Genesis speaks of the states which the sons of Noah founded.
It has related how the people of Europe, Africa, and Asia, all came to
Shinaar speaking one language only, and purposing the same thing.

The Vulgate places the Deluge in the year of the world 1656, and the
construction of the tower of Babel 1771, that is to say, one hundred and
fifteen years after the destruction of mankind, and even during the life
of Noah.

Men then must have multiplied with prodigious celerity; all the arts
revived in a very little time. When we reflect on the great number of
trades which must have been employed to raise a tower so high we are
amazed at so stupendous a work.

The patriarch Abraham was born, according to the Bible, about four
hundred years after the deluge, and already we see a line of powerful
kings in Egypt and in Asia. Bochart and other sages have pleasantly
filled their great books with Phœnician and Chaldæan words and
systems which they do not understand. They have learnedly taken Thrace
for Cappadocia, Greece for Crete, and the island of Cyprus for Tyre;
they sport in an ocean of ignorance which has neither bottom nor shore.
It would have been shorter for them to have avowed that God, after
several ages, has given us sacred books to render us better men and not
to make us geographers, chronologists, or etymologists.

Babel is Babylon. It was founded, according to the Persian historians,
by a prince named Tamurath. The only knowledge we have of its
antiquities consists in the astronomical observations of nineteen
hundred and three years, sent by Callisthenes by order of Alexander, to
his preceptor Aristotle. To this certainty is joined the extreme
probability that a nation which had made a series of celestial
observations for nearly two thousand years had congregated and formed a
considerable power several ages before the first of these observations.

It is a pity that none of the calculations of the ancient profane
authors agree with our sacred ones, and that none of the names of the
princes who reigned after the different epochs assigned to the Deluge
have been known by either Egyptians, Syrians, Babylonians, or Greeks.

It is no less a pity that there remains not on the earth among the
profane authors one vestige of the famous tower of Babel; nothing of
this story of the confusion of tongues is found in any book. This
memorable adventure was as unknown to the whole universe as the names of
Noah, Methuselah, Cain, and Adam and Eve.

This difficulty tantalizes our curiosity. Herodotus, who travelled so
much, speaks neither of Noah, or Shem, Reu, Salah, or Nimrod. The name
of Nimrod is unknown to all profane antiquity; there are only a few
Arabs and some modern Persians who have made mention of Nimrod in
falsifying the books of the Jews.

Nothing remains to conduct us through these ancient ruins, unknown to
all the nations of the universe during so many ages, but faith in the
Bible, and happily that is an infallible guide.

Herodotus, who has mingled many fables with some truths, pretends that
in his time, which was that of greatest power of the Persian sovereigns
of Babylon, all the women of the immense city were obliged to go once in
their lives to the temple of Mylitta, a goddess who was thought to be
the same as Aphrodite, or Venus, in order to prostitute themselves to
strangers, and that the law commanded them to receive money as a sacred
tribute, which was paid over to the priesthood of the goddess.

But even this Arabian tale is more likely than that which the same
author tells of Cyrus dividing the Indus into three hundred and sixty
canals, which all discharged themselves into the Caspian Sea! What
should we say of Mézeray if he had told us that Charlemagne divided the
Rhine into three hundred and sixty canals, which fell into the
Mediterranean, and that all the ladies of his court were obliged once in
their lives to present themselves at the church of St. Genevieve to
prostitute themselves to all comers for money?

It must be remarked that such a fable is still more absurd in relation
to the time of Xerxes, in which Herodotus lived, than it would be in
that of Charlemagne. The Orientals were a thousand times more jealous
than the Franks and Gauls. The wives of all the great lords were
carefully guarded by eunuchs. This custom existed from time immemorial.
It is seen even in the Jewish history that when that little nation
wished like the others to have a king, Samuel, to dissuade them from it
and to retain his authority, said "that a king would tyrannize over them
and that he would take the tenths of their vines and corn to give to his
eunuchs." The kings accomplished this prediction, for it is written in
the First Book of Kings that King Ahab had eunuchs, and in the Second
that Joram, Jehu, Jehoiakim, and Zedekiah had them also.

The eunuchs of Pharaoh are spoken of a long time previously in the Book
of Genesis, and it is said that Potiphar, to whom Joseph was sold, was
one of the king's eunuchs. It is clear, therefore, that there were great
numbers of eunuchs at Babylon to guard the women. It was not then a duty
for them to prostitute themselves to the first comer, nor was Babylon,
the city of God, a vast brothel as it has been pretended.

These tales of Herodotus, as well as all others in the same taste, are
now so decried by all people of sense--reason has made so great progress
that even old women and children will no longer believe such
extravagances--_"Non est vetula quæ credat nec pueri credunt, nisi qui
nondum ære lavantur."_

There is in our days only one man who, not partaking of the spirit of
the age in which he lives, would justify the fable of Herodotus. The
infamy appears to him a very simple affair. He would prove that the
Babylonian princesses prostituted themselves through piety, to the
first passengers, because it is said in the holy writings that the
Ammonites made their children pass through the fire in presenting them
to Moloch. But what relation has this custom of some barbarous
hordes--this superstition of passing their children through the flames,
or even of burning them on piles, in honor of I know not whom--of
Moloch; these Iroquois horrors of a petty, infamous people to a
prostitution so incredible in a nation known to be the most jealous and
orderly of the East? Would what passes among the Iroquois be among us a
proof of the customs of the courts of France and of Spain?

He also brings, in further proof, the Lupercal feast among the Romans
during which he says the young people of quality and respectable
magistrates ran naked through the city with whips in their hands, with
which they struck the pregnant women of quality, who unblushingly
presented themselves to them in the hope of thereby obtaining a happy

Now, in the first place, it is not said that these Romans of quality ran
quite naked, on the contrary, Plutarch expressly observes, in his
remarks on the custom, that they were covered from the waist downwards.

Secondly, it seems by the manner in which this defender of infamous
customs expresses himself that the Roman ladies stripped naked to
receive these blows of the whip, which is absolutely false.

Thirdly, the Lupercal feast has no relation whatever to the pretended
law of Babylon, which commands the wives and daughters of the king, the
satraps, and the magi to sell and prostitute themselves to strangers out
of pure devotion.

When an author, without knowing either the human mind or the manners of
nations, has the misfortune to be obliged to compile from passages of
old authors, who are almost all contradictory, he should advance his
opinions with modesty and know how to doubt, and to shake off the dust
of the college. Above all he should never express himself with
outrageous insolence.

Herodotus, or Ctesias, or Diodorus of Sicily, relate a fact: you have
read it in Greek, therefore this fact is true. This manner of reasoning,
which is not that of Euclid, is surprising enough in the time in which
we live; but all minds will not be instructed with equal facility; and
there are always more persons who compile than people who think.

We will say nothing here of the confusion of tongues which took place
during the construction of the tower of Babel. It is a miracle, related
in the Holy Scriptures. We neither explain, nor even examine any
miracles, and as the authors of that great work, the Encyclopædia,
believed them, we also believe them with a lively and sincere faith.

We will simply affirm that the fall of the Roman Empire has produced
more confusion and a greater number of new languages than that of the
tower of Babel. From the reign of Augustus till the time of the
Attilas, the Clovises, and the Gondiberts, during six ages, _"terra erat
unius labii"_--"the known earth was of one language." They spoke the
same Latin at the Euphrates as at Mount Atlas. The laws which governed a
hundred nations were written in Latin and the Greek served for
amusement, whilst the barbarous jargon of each province was only for the
populace. They pleaded in Latin at once in the tribunals of Africa and
of Rome. An inhabitant of Cornwall departed for Asia Minor sure of being
understood everywhere in his route. It was at least one good effected by
the rapacity of the Romans that people found themselves as well
understood on the Danube as on the Guadalquiver. At the present time a
Bergamask who travels into the small Swiss cantons, from which he is
only separated by a mountain, has the same need of an interpreter as if
he were in China. This is one of the greatest plagues of modern life.


Vanity has always raised stately monuments. It was through vanity that
men built the lofty tower of Babel. "Let us go and raise a tower, the
summit of which shall touch the skies, and render our name celebrated
before we are scattered upon the face of the earth." The enterprise was
undertaken hi the time of a patriarch named Phaleg, who counted the good
man Noah for his fifth ancestor. It will be seen that architecture, and
all the arts which accompany it, had made great progress in five
generations. St. Jerome, the same who has seen fauns and satyrs, has not
seen the tower of Babel any more than I have, but he assures us that it
was twenty thousand feet high. This is a trifle. The ancient book,
_"Jacult"_ written by one of the most learned Jews, demonstrates the
height to be eighty-one thousand Jewish feet, and every one knows that
the Jewish foot was nearly as long as the Greek. These dimensions are
still more likely than those of Jerome. This tower remains, but it is no
longer quite so high; several quite veracious travellers have seen it.
I, who have not seen it, will talk as little of it as of my grandfather
Adam, with whom I never had the honor of conversing. But consult the
reverend father Calmet; he is a man of fine wit and a profound
philosopher and will explain the thing to you. I do not know why it is
said, in Genesis, that Babel signifies confusion, for, as I have already
observed, _ba_ answers to father in the eastern languages, and _bel_
signifies God. Babel means the city of God, the holy city. But it is
incontestable that Babel means confusion, possibly because the
architects were confounded after having raised their work to eighty-one
thousand feet, perhaps, because the languages were then confounded, as
from that time the Germans no longer understood the Chinese, although,
according to the learned Bochart, it is clear that the Chinese is
originally the same language as the High German.


Of all the true or fabulous personages of profane antiquity Bacchus is
to us the most important. I do not mean for the fine invention which is
attributed to him by all the world except the Jews, but for the
prodigious resemblance of his fabulous history to the true adventures of

The ancient poets have placed the birth of Bacchus in Egypt; he is
exposed on the Nile and it is from that event that he is named Mises by
the first Orpheus, which, in Egyptian, signifies "saved from the
waters," according to those who pretend to understand the ancient
Egyptian tongue, which is no longer known. He is brought up near a
mountain of Arabia called Nisa, which is believed to be Mount Sinai. It
is pretended that a goddess ordered him to go and destroy a barbarous
nation and that he passed through the Red Sea on foot, with a multitude
of men, women, and children. Another time the river Orontes suspended
its waters right and left to let him pass, and the Hydaspes did the
same. He commanded the sun to stand still; two luminous rays proceeded
from his head. He made a fountain of wine spout up by striking the
ground with his thyrsis, and engraved his laws on two tables of marble.
He wanted only to have afflicted Egypt with ten plagues, to be the
perfect copy of Moses.

Vossius is, I think, the first who has extended this parallel. The
bishop of Avranches, Huet, has pushed it quite as far, but he adds, in
his "Evangelical Demonstrations" that Moses is not only Bacchus, but
that he is also Osiris and Typhon. He does not halt in this fine path.
Moses, according to him, is Æsculapius, Amphion, Apollo, Adonis, and
even Priapus. It is pleasant enough that Huet founds his proof that
Moses is Adonis in their both keeping sheep: _"Et formosus oves, ad
flumina pavit Adonis."_

He contends that he is Priapus because Priapus is sometimes painted with
an ass, and the Jews were supposed, among the Gentiles, to adore an ass.
He gives another proof, not very canonical, which is that the rod of
Moses might be compared to the sceptre of Priapus. _"Sceptrum tribuitur
Priapo, virga Most."_ Neither is this demonstration in the manner of

We will not here speak of the more modern Bacchuses, such as he who
lived two hundred years before the Trojan war, and whom the Greeks
celebrated as a son of Jupiter, shut up in his thigh. We will pause at
him who was supposed to be born on the confines of Egypt and to have
performed so many prodigies. Our respect for the sacred Jewish books
will not permit us to doubt that the Egyptians, the Arabs, and even the
Greeks, have imitated the history of Moses. The difficulty consists
solely in not knowing how they could be instructed in this
incontrovertible history. With respect to the Egyptians, it is very
likely that they never recorded these miracles of Moses, which would
have covered them with shame. If they had said a word of it the
historians, Josephus and Philo, would not have failed to have taken
advantage of it Josephus, in his answer to Appion, made a point of
citing all the Egyptian authors who have mentioned Moses, and he finds
none who relate one of these miracles. No Jew has ever quoted any
Egyptian author who has said a word of the ten plagues of Egypt, of the
miraculous passage through the Red Sea, etc. It could not be among the
Egyptians, therefore, that this scandalous parallel was formed between
the divine Moses and the profane Bacchus.

It is very clear that if a single Egyptian author had said a word of the
great miracles of Moses all the synagogue of Alexandria, all the
disputatious church of that famous town would have quoted such word, and
have triumphed at it, every one after his manner. Athenagorus, Clement,
Origen, who have said so many useless things, would have related this
important passage a thousand times and it would have been the strongest
argument of all the fathers. The whole have kept a profound silence;
they Had, therefore, nothing to say. But how was it possible for any
Egyptian to speak of the exploits of a man who caused all the first born
of the families of Egypt to be killed; who turned the Nile to blood, and
who drowned in the Red Sea their king and all his army?

All our historians agree that one Clodowick, a Sicambrian, subjugated
Gaul with a handful of barbarians. The English are the first to say that
the Saxons, the Danes, and the Normans came by turns to exterminate a
part of their nation. If they had not avowed this truth all Europe would
have exclaimed against its concealment. The universe should exclaim in
the same manner at the amazing prodigies of Moses, of Joshua, of Gideon,
Samson, and of so many leaders and prophets. The universe is silent
notwithstanding. Amazing mystery! On one side it is palpable mat all is
true, since it is found in the holy writings, which are approved by the
Church; on the other it is evident that no people have ever mentioned
it. Let us worship Providence, and submit ourselves in all things.

The Arabs, who have always loved the marvellous, were probably the first
authors of the fables invented of Bacchus, afterwards adopted and
embellished by the Greeks. But how came the stories of the Arabs and
Greeks to agree so well with those of the Jews? It is known that the
Hebrews never communicated their books to any one till the time of the
Ptolemies; they regarded such communication as a sacrilege, and
Josephus, to justify their obstinacy in concealing the Pentateuch from
the rest of the world, says that God punished all foreigners who dared
to speak of the Jewish histories. If we are to believe him, the
historian Theopompus, for only designing to mention them in his work,
became deranged for thirty days, and the tragic poet Theodectes was
struck blind for having introduced the name of the Jews into one of his
tragedies. Such are the excuses that Flavius Josephus gives in his
answer to Appion for the history of the Jews being so long unknown.

These books were of such prodigious scarcity that we only hear of one
copy under King Josiah, and this copy had been lost for a long time and
was found in the bottom of a chest on the report of Shaphan, scribe to
the Pontiff Hilkiah, who carried it to the king.

This circumstance happened, according to the Second Book of Kings, six
hundred and twenty-four years before our vulgar era, four hundred years
after Homer, and in the most flourishing times of Greece. The Greeks
then scarcely knew that there were any Hebrews in the world. The
captivity of the Jews at Babylon still more augmented their ignorance of
their own books. Esdras must have restored them at the end of seventy
years and for already more than five hundred years the fable of Bacchus
had been current among the Greeks.

If the Greeks had founded their fables on the Jewish history they would
have chosen facts more interesting to mankind, such as the adventures of
Abraham, those of Noah, of Methuselah, of Seth, Enoch, Cain, and Eve; of
the fatal serpent and of the tree of knowledge, all which names have
ever been unknown to them. There was only a slight knowledge of the
Jewish people until a long time after the revolution that Alexander
produced in Asia and in Europe; the historian Josephus avows it in
formal terms. This is the manner in which he expresses himself in the
commencement of his reply to Appion, who (by way of parenthesis) was
dead when he answered him, for Appion died under the Emperor Claudius,
and Josephus wrote under Vespasian.

"As the country we inhabit is distant from the sea we do not apply
ourselves to commerce and have no communication with other nations. We
content ourselves with cultivating our lands, which are very fertile,
and we labor chiefly to bring up our children properly, because nothing
appears to us so necessary as to instruct them in the knowledge of our
holy laws and in true piety, which inspires them with the desire of
observing them. The above reasons, added to others already mentioned,
and this manner of life which is peculiar to us, show why we have had no
communication with the Greeks, like the Egyptians and Phœnicians. Is
it astonishing that our nation, so distant from the sea, not affecting
to write anything, and living in the way which I have related, has been
little known?"

After such an authentic avowal from a Jew, the most tenacious of the
honor of his nation that has ever written, it will be seen that it is
impossible for the ancient Greeks to have taken the fable of Bacchus
from the holy books of the Hebrews, any more than the sacrifice of
Iphigenia, that of the son of Idomeneus, the labors of Hercules, the
adventure of Eurydice, and others. The quantity of ancient tales which
resemble one another is prodigious. How is it that the Greeks have put
into fables what the Hebrews have put into histories? Was it by the
gift of invention; was it by a facility of imitation, or in consequence
of the accordance of fine minds? To conclude: God has permitted it--a
truth which ought to suffice.

Of what consequence is it that the Arabs and Greeks have said the same
things as the Jews? We read the Old Testament only to prepare ourselves
for the New, and in neither the one nor the other do we seek anything
but lessons of benevolence, moderation, gentleness, and true charity.


It is generally thought that Roger Bacon, the famous monk of the
thirteenth century, was a very great man and that he possessed true
knowledge, because he was persecuted and condemned to prison by a set of
ignoramuses. It is a great prejudice in his favor, I own. But does it
not happen every day that quacks gravely condemn other quacks, and that
fools make other fools pay the penalty of folly? This, our world, has
for a long time resembled the compact edifices in which he who believes
in the eternal Father anathematizes him who believes in the Holy Ghost;
circumstances which are not very rare even in these days. Among the
things which render Friar Bacon commendable we must first reckon his
imprisonment, and then the noble boldness with which he declared that
all the books of Aristotle were fit only to be burned and that at a time
when the learned respected Aristotle much more than the Jansenists
respect St. Augustine. Has Roger Bacon, however, done anything better
than the Poetics, the Rhetoric, and the Logic of Aristotle? These three
immortal works clearly prove that Aristotle was a very great and fine
genius--penetrating, profound, and methodical; and that he was only a
bad natural philosopher because it was impossible to penetrate into the
depths of physical science without the aid of instruments.

Does Roger Bacon, in his best work, in which he treats of light and
vision, express himself much more clearly than Aristotle when he says
light is created by means of multiplying its luminous species, which
action is called univocal and conformable to the agent? He also mentions
another equivocal multiplication, by which light engenders heat and heat

Roger Bacon likewise tells us that life may be prolonged by means of
spermaceti, aloes, and dragons' flesh, and that the philosopher's stone
would render us immortal. It is thought that besides these fine secrets
he possessed all those of judicial astrology, without exception, as he
affirms very positively in his _"Opus Majus,"_ that the head of man is
subject to the influences of the ram, his neck to those of the bull, and
his arms to the power of the twins. He even demonstrates these fine
things from experience, and highly praises a great astrologer at Paris
who says that he hindered a surgeon from putting a plaster on the leg
of an invalid, because the sun was then in the sign of Aquarius, and
Aquarius is fatal to legs to which plasters are applied.

It is an opinion quite generally received that Roger was the inventor of
gunpowder. It is certain that it was in his time that important
discovery was made, for I always remark that the spirit of invention is
of all times and that the doctors, or sages, who govern both mind and
body are generally profoundly ignorant, foolishly prejudiced, or at war
with common sense. It is usually among obscure men that artists are
found animated with a superior instinct, who invent admirable things on
which the learned afterwards reason.

One thing that surprises me much is that Friar Bacon knew not the
direction of the magnetic needle, which, in his time, began to be
understood in Italy, but in lieu thereof he was acquainted with the
Secret of the hazel rod and many such things Of which he treats in his
"Dignity of the Experimental Art."

Yet, notwithstanding this pitiable number of absurdities and chimeras,
it must be confessed that Roger Bacon was an admirable man for his age.
What age? you will ask--that of feudal government and of the schoolmen.
Figure to yourself Samoyedes and Ostiacs who read Aristotle. Such were
we at that time.

Roger Bacon knew a little of geometry and optics, which made him pass
for a sorcerer at Rome and Paris. He was, however, really acquainted
with the matter contained in the Arabian _"Alhazen,"_ for in those days
little was known except through the Arabs. They were the physicians and
astrologers of all the Christian kings. The king's fool was always a
native; his doctor an Arab or a Jew.

Transport this Bacon to the times in which we live and he would be, no
doubt, a great man. He was gold, encrusted with the rust of the times in
which he lived, this gold would now be quickly purified. Poor creatures
that we are! How many ages have passed away in acquiring a little


Banishment for a term of years, or for life: a penalty inflicted on
delinquents, or on individuals who are wished to be considered as such.

Not long ago it was the custom to banish from within the limits of the
jurisdiction, for petty thefts, forgeries, and assaults, the result of
which was that the offender became a great robber, forger, or murderer
in some other jurisdiction. This is like throwing into a neighbor's
field the stones that incommode us in our own.

Those who have written on the laws of nations have tormented themselves
greatly to determine whether a man who has been banished from his
country can justly be said still to belong to that country. It might
almost as well be asked whether a gambler, who has been driven away from
the gaming-table, is still one of the players at that table.

If by the law of nature a man is permitted to choose his country, still
more is the man who has lost the rights of a citizen at liberty to
choose himself a new country. May he bear arms against his former
fellow-citizens? Of this we have a thousand examples. How many French
Protestants, naturalized in England, Holland, or Germany, have served,
not only against France, but against armies in which their relatives,
their own brothers, have fought? The Greeks in the armies of the king of
Persia fought against the Greeks, their old fellow-countrymen. The Swiss
in the service of Holland have fired upon the Swiss in the service of
France. This is even worse than fighting against those who have banished
you, for, after all, drawing the sword in revenge does not seem so bad
as drawing it for hire.


_A Greek Word, Signifying Immersion._


We do not speak of baptism as theologians; we are but poor men of
letters, who shall never enter the sanctuary. The Indians plunge, and
have from time immemorial plunged, into the Ganges. Mankind, always
guided by their senses, easily imagined that what purified the body
likewise purified the soul. In the subterranean apartments under the
Egyptian temples there were large tubs for the priests and the

     _O nimium faciles qui tristia crimina cædis_
     _Fluminea tolli posse putatis aqua!_

Old Baudier, when he was eighty, made the following comic translation of
these lines:

     _C'est une drôle de maxime,_
     _Qu'une lessive efface un crime._
     One can't but think it somewhat droll,
     Pump-water thus should cleanse a soul.

Every sign being of itself indifferent, God vouchsafed to consecrate
this custom amongst the Hebrew people. All foreigners that came to
settle in Palestine were baptized; they were called domiciliary

They were not forced to receive circumcision, but only to embrace the
seven precepts of the Noachides, and to sacrifice to no strange god. The
proselytes of justice were circumcised and baptized; the female
proselytes were also baptized, quite naked, in the presence of three
men. The most devout among the Jews went and received baptism from the
hands of the prophets most venerated by the people. Hence it was that
they flocked to St. John, who baptized in the Jordan.

Jesus Christ Himself, who never baptized any one, deigned to receive
baptism from St. John. This custom, which had long been an accessory of
the Jewish religion, received new dignity, new value from our Saviour,
and became the chief rite, the principal seal of Christianity. However,
the first fifteen bishops of Jerusalem were Jews. 'The Christians of
Palestine long continued to circumcise. St. John's Christians never
received baptism from Christ.

Several other Christian societies applied a cautery to the baptized,
with a red-hot iron, being determined to the performance of this
extraordinary operation by the words of St. John the Baptist, related by
St. Luke: "I baptize you with water, but He that cometh after me shall
baptize you with fire."

This was practised by the Seleucians, the Herminians, and some others.
The words, "He shall baptize you with fire," have never been explained.
There are several opinions concerning the baptism by fire which is
mentioned by St. Luke and St. Matthew. Perhaps the most likely opinion
is that it was an allusion to the ancient custom of the devotees to the
Syrian goddess, who, after plunging into water, imprinted characters on
their bodies with a hot iron. With miserable man all was superstition,
but Jesus substituted for these ridiculous superstitions a sacred
ceremony--a divine and efficacious symbol.

In the first ages of Christianity nothing was more common than to
postpone the receiving of baptism until the last agony. Of this the
example of the Emperor Constantine is a very strong proof. St. Andrew
had not been baptized when he was made bishop of Milan. The custom of
deferring the use of the sacred bath until the hour of death was soon

_Baptism of the Dead._

The dead also were baptized. This is established by the passage of St.
Paul to the Corinthians: "If we rise not again what shall they do that
receive baptism from the dead?" Here is a point of fact. Either the
dead themselves were baptized, or baptism was received in their names,
as indulgences have since been received for the deliverance of the souls
of friends and relatives out of purgatory.

St. Epiphanius and St. Chrysostom inform us that it was a custom in some
Christian societies, and principally among the Marcionites, to put a
living man under the dead man's bed; he was then asked if he would be
baptized; the living man answered yes, and the corpse was taken and
plunged into a tub of water. This custom was soon condemned. St. Paul
mentions it but he does not condemn it; on the contrary he cites it as
an invincible argument to prove resurrection.

_Baptism by Aspersion._

The Greeks always retained baptism by immersion. The Latins, about the
close of the eighth century, having extended their religion into Gaul
and Germany and seeing that immersion might be fatal to infants in cold
countries, substituted simple aspersion and thus drew upon themselves
frequent anathemas from the Greek Church.

St. Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, was asked if those were really baptized
who had only had their bodies sprinkled all over. He answers, in his
seventy-sixth letter, that several churches did not believe the
sprinkled to be Christians; that, for his own part, he believes that
they are so, but that they have infinitely less grace than those who
have been thrice dipped, according to custom.

A person was initiated among the Christians as soon as he was dipped;
until then he was only a catechumen. To be initiated it was necessary to
have sponsors to answer to the Church for the fidelity of the new
Christians and that the mysteries should not be divulged. Hence it was
that in the first ages the Gentiles had, in general, as little knowledge
of the Christian mysteries as the Christians had of the mysteries of
Isis and the Eleusinian Ceres.

Cyril of Alexandria, in his writing against the Emperor Julian,
expresses himself thus: "I would speak of baptism but that I fear my
words would reach them who are not initiated." At that time there was no
worship without its mysteries, its associations, its catechumens, its
initiated, and its professed. Each sect required new virtues and
recommended to its penitents a new life--_"initium novæ vitæ"_--whence
the word initiation. The initiation of Christians, whether male or
female, consisted in their being plunged quite naked into a tub of cold
water, to which sign was attached the remission of all their sins. But
the difference between Christian baptism and the Greek, Syrian,
Egyptian, and Roman ceremonies was the difference between truth and
falsehood. Jesus Christ was the High Priest of the new law.

In the second century infants began to be baptized; it was natural that
the Christians should desire their children, who would have been damned
without this sacrament, to be provided with it. It was at length
concluded that they must receive it at the expiration of eight days,
because that was the period at which, among the Jews, they were
circumcised. In the Greek Church this is still the custom.

Such as died in the first week were damned, according to the most
rigorous fathers of the Church. But Peter Chrysologos, in the fifth
century, imagined limbo, a sort of mitigated hell, or properly, the
border, the outskirt of hell, whither all infants dying without baptism
go and where the patriarchs remained until Jesus Christ's descent into
hell. So that the opinion that Jesus Christ descended into limbo, and
not into hell, has since then prevailed.

It was agitated whether a Christian in the deserts of Arabia might be
baptized with sand, this was answered in the negative. It was asked if
rosewater might be used, it was decided that pure water would be
necessary but that muddy water might be made use of. It is evident that
all this discipline depended on the discretion of the first pastors who
established it.

The Anabaptists and some other communions out of the pale have thought
that no one should be baptized without a thorough knowledge of the
merits of the case. You require, say they, a promise to be of the
Christian society, but a child can make no engagement. You give it a
sponsor, but this is an abuse of an ancient custom. The precaution was
requisite in the first establishment. When strangers, adult men and
women, came and presented themselves to be received into the society
and share in the alms there was needed a guarantee to answer for their
fidelity; it was necessary to make sure of them; they swore they would
be Jews, but an infant is in a diametrically opposite case. It has often
happened, that a child baptized by Greeks at Constantinople has
afterwards been circumcised by Turks, a Christian at eight days old and
a Mussulman at thirty years, he has betrayed the oaths of his godfather.

This is one reason which the Anabaptists might allege; it would hold
good in Turkey, but it has never been admitted in Christian countries
where baptism insures a citizen's condition. We must conform to the
rights and laws of our country.

The Greeks re-baptize such of the Latins as pass from one of our Latin
communions to the Greek communion. In the last century it was the custom
for these catechumens to pronounce the following words: "I spit upon my
father and my mother who had me ill baptized." This custom still exists,
and will, perhaps, long continue to exist in the provinces.

_Notions of Rigid Unitarians Concerning Baptism._

It is evident to whosoever is willing to reason without prejudice that
baptism is neither a mark of grace conferred nor a seal of alliance, but
simply a mark of profession.

That baptism is not necessary, neither by necessity of precept, nor by
necessity of means. That it was not instituted by Christ and that it
may be omitted by the Christian without his suffering any inconvenience

That baptism should be administered neither to children, nor to adults,
nor, in general, to any individual whatsoever.

That baptism might be of service in the early infancy of Christianity to
those who quitted paganism in order to make their profession of faith
public and give an authentic mark of it, but that now it is absolutely
useless and altogether indifferent.


Baptism, immersion in water, abstersion, purification by water, is of
the highest antiquity. To be cleanly was to be pure before the gods. No
priest ever dared to approach the altar with a soil upon his body. The
natural inclination to transfer to the soul that which appertains to the
body led to the belief that lustrations and ablutions took away the
stains of the soul as they removed those of the garments and that
washing the body washed the soul also. Hence the ancient custom of
bathing in the Ganges, the waters of which were thought to be sacred;
hence the lustrations so frequent among every people. The Oriental
nations, inhabiting hot countries, were the most religiously attached to
these customs.

The Jews were obliged to bathe after any pollution--after touching an
unclean animal, touching a corpse, and on many other occasions.

When the Jews received among them a stranger converted to their
religion they baptized, after circumcising him, and if it was a woman
she was simply baptized--that is, dipped in water in the presence of
three witnesses. This immersion was reputed to give the persons baptized
a new birth, a new life; they became at once Jewish and pure. Children
born before this baptism had no share in the inheritance of their
brethren, born after them of a regenerated father and mother. So that,
with the Jews, to be baptized and to be born again were the same thing,
and this idea has remained attached to baptism down to the present day.
Thus, when John, the forerunner, began to baptize in the Jordan he did
but follow an immemorial usage. The priests of the law did not call him
to account for this baptizing as for anything new, but they accused him
of arrogating to himself a right which belonged exclusively to them --as
Roman Catholic priests would have a right to complain if a layman took
upon himself to say mass. John was doing a lawful thing but was doing it

John wished to have disciples, and he had them. He was chief of a sect
among the lower orders of the people and it cost him his life. It even
appears that Jesus was at first among his disciples, since he was
baptized by him in the Jordan, and John sent some of his own party to
Him a short time before His death.

The historian Josephus speaks of John but not of Jesus--an incontestable
proof that in his time John the Baptist had a greater reputation than
He whom he baptized. A great multitude followed him, says that
celebrated historian, and the Jews seemed disposed to undertake whatever
he should command them.

From this passage it appears that John was not only the chief of a sect,
but the chief of a party. Josephus adds that he caused Herod some
uneasiness. He did indeed make himself formidable to Herod, who, at
length, put him to death, but Jesus meddled with none but the Pharisees.
Josephus, therefore, mentions John as a man who had stirred up the Jews
against King Herod; as one whose zeal had made him a state criminal, but
Jesus, not having approached the court, was unknown to the historian

The sect of John the Baptist differed widely in discipline from that of
Jesus. In the Acts of the Apostles we see that twenty years after the
execution of Jesus, Apollos of Alexandria, though become a Christian,
knew no baptism but that of John, nor had any idea of the Holy Ghost.
Several travellers, and among others Chardin, the most accredited of
all, say that in Persia there still are disciples of John, called Sabis,
who baptize in his name and acknowledge Jesus as a prophet, but not as a

As for Jesus Christ Himself He received baptism but conferred it on no
one; His apostles baptized the catechumens, or circumcised them as
occasion required; this is evident from the operation of circumcision
performed by Paul on his disciple Timothy.

It also appears that when the apostles baptized it was always in the
name of Jesus Christ alone. The Acts of the Apostles do not mention any
one baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost--whence it
may be concluded that the author of the Acts of the Apostles knew
nothing of Matthew's gospel, in which it is said: "Go and teach all
nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and
of the Holy Ghost." The Christian religion had not yet received its
form. Even the Symbol, which was called the Symbol of the Apostles, was
not made until after their time, of this no one has any doubt. In Paul's
Epistle to the Corinthians we find a very singular custom which was then
introduced--that of baptizing the dead, but the rising Church soon
reserved baptism for the living alone; at first none were baptized but
adults, and the ceremony was often deferred until the age of fifty, or
the last sickness, that the individual might carry with him into the
other world the unimpaired virtue of a baptism recently performed.

Now, all children are baptized: none but the Anabaptists reserve this
ceremony for the mature age; they plunge their whole bodies into the
water. The Quakers, who compose a very numerous society in England and
in America, do not use baptism: the reason is that Jesus Christ did not
baptize any of His disciples, and their aim is to be Christians only as
His disciples were--which occasions a very wide difference between them
and other communions.

_Addition to the Article "Baptism" by Abbé Nicaise._

The Emperor Julian, the philosopher, in his immortal "Satire on the
Cæsars," puts these words into the mouth of Constantius, son of
Constantine: "Whosoever feels himself guilty of rape, murder, plunder,
sacrilege, and every most abominable crime, so soon as I have washed him
with this water, he shall be clean and pure."

It was, indeed, this fatal doctrine that occasioned the Christian
emperors, and the great men of the empire, to defer their baptism until
death. They thought they had found the secret of living criminal and
dying virtuous.

How strange an idea--that a pot of water should wash away every crime!
Now, all children are baptized because an idea no less absurd supposes
them all criminal; they are all saved until they have the use of reason
and the power to become guilty! Cut their throats, then, as quickly as
possible, to insure their entrance into paradise. This is so just a
consequence that there was once a devout sect that went about poisoning
and killing all newly-baptized infants. These devout persons reasoned
with perfect correctness, saying: "We do these little innocents the
greatest possible good; we prevent them from being wicked and unhappy in
this life and we give them life eternal."



We have no intention here to inquire at what time Baruch was chief of
the Jewish people; why, being chief, he allowed his army to be commanded
by a woman; whether this woman, named Deborah, had married Lapidoth;
whether she was the friend or relative of Baruch, or perhaps his
daughter or his mother; nor on what day the battle of Tabor, in Galilee,
was fought between this Deborah and Sisera, captain-general of the
armies of King Jabin--which Sisera commanded in Galilee an army of three
hundred thousand foot, ten thousand horse, and three thousand chariots
of war, according to the historian Josephus.

We shall at present leave out of the question this Jabin, king of a
village called Azor, who had more troops than the Grand Turk. We very
much pity the fate of his grand-vizier Sisera, who, having lost the
battle in Galilee, leaped from his chariot and four that he might fly
more swiftly on foot. He went and begged the hospitality of a holy
Jewish woman, who gave him some milk and drove a great cart-nail through
his head while he was asleep. We are very sorry for it, but this is not
the matter to be discussed. We wish to speak of chariots of war.

The battle was fought at the foot of Mount Tabor, near the river Kishon.
Mount Tabor is a steep mountain, the branches of which, somewhat less
in height, extend over a great part of Galilee. Between this mountain
and the neighboring rocks there is a small plain, covered with great
flint-stones and impracticable for cavalry. The extent of this plain is
four or five hundred paces. We may venture to believe that Sisera did
not here draw up his three hundred thousand men in order of battle; his
three thousand chariots would have found it difficult to manœuvre on
such a field.

We may believe that the Hebrews had no chariots of war in a country
renowned only for asses, but the Asiatics made use of them in the great
plains. Confucius, or rather Confutze, says positively that, from time
immemorial, each of the viceroys of the provinces was expected to
furnish to the emperor a thousand war-chariots, each drawn by four
horses. Chariots must have been in use long before the Trojan war, for
Homer does not speak of them as a new invention, but these chariots were
not armed like those of Babylon, neither the wheels nor the axles were
furnished with steel blades.

At first this invention must have been very formidable on large plains,
especially when the chariots were numerous, driven with impetuosity, and
armed with long pikes and scythes, but when they became familiar it
seemed so easy to avoid their shock that they fell into general disuse.

In the war of 1741 it was proposed to renew and reform this ancient
invention. A minister of state had one of these chariots constructed and
it was tried. It was asserted that in large plains, like that of
Lützen, they might be used with advantage by concealing them behind the
cavalry, the squadrons of which would open to let them pass and then
follow them, but the generals judged that this manœuvre would be
useless, and even dangerous, now that battles are gained by cannon only.
It was replied that there would be as many cannon hi the army using the
chariots of war to defend them as in the enemy's army to destroy them.
It was added that these chariots would, in the first instance, be
sheltered from the cannon behind the battalions or squadrons, that the
latter would open and let the chariots run with impetuosity and that
this unexpected attack might have a prodigious effect. The generals
advanced nothing in opposition to these arguments, but they would not
revive this game of the ancient Persians.


Let us observe that the arrangements, the marching, and the evolutions
of battalions, nearly as they are now practised, were revived in Europe
by one who was not a military man--by Machiavelli, a secretary at
Florence. Battalions three, four, and five deep; battalions advancing
upon the enemy; battalions in square to avoid being cut off in a rout;
battalions four deep sustained by others in column; battalions flanked
by cavalry--all are his. He taught Europe the art of war; it had long
been practised without being known.

The grand duke would have had his secretary teach his troops their
exercises according to his new method. But Machiavelli was too prudent
to do so; he had no wish to see the officers and soldiers laugh at a
general in a black cloak; he reserved himself for the council.

There is something singular in the qualities which he requires in a
soldier. He must first have _gagliardia_, which signifies _alert vigor_;
he must have a quick and sure eye--in which there must also be a little
gayety; a strong neck, a wide breast, a muscular arm, round loins, but
little belly, with spare legs and feet--all indicating strength and
agility. But above all the soldier must have honor, and must be led by
honor alone. "War," says he, "is but too great a corrupter of morals,"
and he reminds us of the Italian proverb: War makes thieves, and peace
finds them gibbets.

Machiavelli had but a poor opinion of the French infantry, and until the
battle of Rocroi it must be confessed that it was very bad. A strange
man this Machiavelli! He amused himself with making verses, writing
plays, showing his cabinet the art of killing with regularity, and
teaching princes the art of perjuring themselves, assassinating, and
poisoning as occasion required--a great art which Pope Alexander VI.,
and his bastard Cæsar Borgia, practised in wonderful perfection without
the aid of his lessons.

Be it observed that in all Machiavelli's works on so many different
subjects there is not one word which renders virtue amiable--not one
word proceeding from the heart. The same remark has been made on
Boileau. He does not, it is true, make virtue lovely, but he represents
it as necessary.


Why has Louis Racine treated Bayle like a dangerous man, with a cruel
heart, in an epistle to Jean Baptiste Rousseau, which, although printed,
is but little known?

He compares Bayle, whose logical acuteness detected the errors of
opposing systems, to Marius sitting upon the ruins of Carthage:

     _Ainsi d'un œil content Marius, dans sa fuite,_
     _Contemplait les débris de Carthage détruite._
     Thus exiled Marius, with contented gaze,
     Thy ruins, Carthage, silently surveys.

Here is a simile which exhibits very little resemblance, or, as Pope
says, a simile dissimilar. Marius had not destroyed reason and
arguments, nor did he contentedly view its ruins, but, on the contrary,
he was penetrated with an elevated sentiment of melancholy on
contemplating the vicissitudes of human affairs, when he made the
celebrated answer: "Say to the proconsul of Africa that thou hast seen
Marius seated on the ruins of Carthage."

We ask in what Marius resembled Bayle? Louis Racine, if he thinks fit,
may apply the epithets "hard-hearted" and "cruel" to Marius, to Sulla,
to the triumvirs, but, in reference to Bayle the phrases "detestable
pleasure," "cruel heart," "terrible man," should not be put in a
sentence written by Louis Racine against one who is only proved to have
weighed the arguments of the Manichæans, the Paulicians, the Arians, the
Eutychians, against those of their adversaries. Louis Racine proportions
not the punishment to the offence. He should remember that Bayle
combated Spinoza, who was too much of a philosopher, and Jurieu, who was
none at all. He should respect the good manners of Bayle and learn to
reason from him. But he was a Jansenist, that is to say, he knew the
words of the language of Jansenism and employed them at random. You may
properly call cruel and terrible a powerful man who commands his slaves,
on pain of death, to go and reap corn where he has sown thistles; who
gives to some of them too much food, and suffers others to die of
hunger; who kills his eldest son to leave a large fortune to the
younger. All that is frightful and cruel, Louis Racine! It is said that
such is the god of thy Jansenists, but I do not believe it. Oh slaves of
party, people attacked with the jaundice, you constantly see everything

And to whom has the unthinking heir of a father who had a hundred times
more taste than he has philosophy, addressed this miserable epistle
against the virtuous Bayle? To Rousseau--a poet who thinks still less;
to a man whose principal merit has consisted in epigrams which are
revolting to the most indulgent reader; to a man to whom it was alike
whether he sang Jesus Christ or Giton. Such was the apostle to whom
Louis Racine denounced Bayle as a miscreant. What motive could the
author of "Phædra" and "Iphigenia" have for falling into such a
prodigious error? Simply this, that Rousseau had made verses for the
Jansenists, whom he then believed to be in high credit.

Such is the rage of faction let loose upon Bayle, but you do not hear
any of the dogs who have howled against him bark against Lucretius,
Cicero, Seneca, Epicurus, nor against the numerous philosophers of
antiquity. It is all reserved for Bayle; he is their fellow citizen--he
is of their time--his glory irritates them. Bayle is read and Nicole is
not read; behold the source of the Jansenist hatred! Bayle is studied,
but neither the reverend Father Croiset, nor the reverend Father
Caussin; hence Jesuitical denouncement!

In vain has a Parliament of France done him the greatest honor in
rendering his will valid, notwithstanding the severity of the law. The
madness of party knows neither honor nor justice. I have not inserted
this article to make the eulogy of the best of dictionaries, which would
not be becoming here, and of which Bayle is not in need; I have written
it to render, if I can, the spirit of party odious and ridiculous.


We are very much puzzled to know what this Bdellium is which is found
near the shores of the Pison, a river of the terrestrial paradise which
turns into the country of the Havilah, where there is gold. Calmet
relates that, according to several commentators, Bdellium is the
carbuncle, but that it may also be crystal. Then it is the gum of an
Arabian tree and afterwards we are told that capers are intended. Many
others affirm that it signifies pearls. Nothing but the etymologies of
Bochart can throw a light on this question. I wish that all these
commentators had been upon the spot.

The excellent gold which is obtained in this country, says Calmet, shows
evidently that this is the country of Colchis and the golden fleece is a
proof of it. It is a pity that things have changed so much for
Mingrelia; that beautiful country, so famous for the loves of Medea and
Jason, now produces gold and Bdellium no more than bulls which vomit
fire and flame, and dragons which guard the fleece. Everything changes
in this world; and if we do not skilfully cultivate our lands, and if
the state remain always in debt, we shall become a second Mingrelia.


Certain naturalists assure us that the secretion which produces the
beard is the same as that which perpetuates mankind. An entire
hemisphere testifies against this fraternal union. The Americans, of
whatever country, color, or stature they may be, have neither beards on
their chins, nor any hair on their bodies, except their eyebrows and the
hair of their heads, I have legal attestations of official men who have
lived, conversed, and combated with thirty nations of South America, and
they attest that they have never seen a hair on their bodies; and they
laugh, as they well may, at writers who, copying one another, say that
the Americans are only without hair because they pull it out with
pincers; as if Christopher Columbus, Fernando Cortes, and the other
adventurers had loaded themselves with the little tweezers with which
our ladies remove their superfluous hairs, and had distributed them in
all the countries of America.

I believed for a long time that the Esquimaux were excepted from the
general laws of the new world; but I am assured that they are as free
from hair as the others. However, they have children in Chile, Peru, and
Canada, as well as in our bearded continent. There is, then, a specific
difference between these bipeds and ourselves, in the same way as their
lions, which are divested of the mane, and in other respects differ from
the lions of Africa.

It is to be remarked that the Orientals have never varied in their
consideration for the beard. Marriage among them has always existed, and
that period is still the epoch of life from which they no longer shave
the beard. The long dress and the beard impose respect. The Westerns
have always been changing the fashion of the chin. Mustaches were worn
under Louis XIV. towards the year 1672. Under Louis XIII. a little
pointed beard prevailed. In the time of Henry IV. it was square. Charles
V., Julius II., and Francis I. restored the large beard to honor in
their courts, which had been a long time in fashion. Gownsmen, through
gravity and respect for the customs of their fathers, shaved themselves;
while the courtiers, in doublets and little mantles, wore their beards
as long as they could. When a king in those days sent a lawyer as an
ambassador, his comrades would laugh at him if he suffered his beard to
grow, besides mocking him in the chamber of accounts or of
requests,--But quite enough upon beards.


What a pity and what a poverty of spirit to assert that beasts are
machines deprived of knowledge and sentiment, which effect all their
operations in the same manner, which learn nothing, never improve, etc.

What is this bird, who makes its nest in a semicircle when he attaches
it to a wall; and in a circle on a tree--this bird does all in the same
blind manner! The hound, which you have disciplined for three months,
does he not know more at the end of this time than he did before? Does
the canary, to which you play an air, repeat ft directly? Do you not
employ a considerable time in teaching it? Have you not seen that he
sometimes mistakes it, and that be corrects himself?

Is it because I speak to you that you judge I have sentiment, memory,
and ideas? Well, suppose I do not speak to you; you see me enter my room
with an afflicted air, I seek a paper with disquietude, I open the
bureau in which I recollect to have shut it, I hid it and read it with
joy. You pronounce that I have felt the sentiment of affliction and of
joy; that I have memory and knowledge.

Extend the same judgment to the dog who has lost his master, who has
sought hum everywhere with grievous cries, and who enters the house
agitated and restless, goes upstairs and down, from room to room, and at
last finds in the closet the master whom he loves, and testifies his joy
by the gentleness of his cries, by his leaps and his caresses.

Some barbarians seize this dog, who so prodigiously excels man in
friendship, they nail him to a table and dissect him living to show the
mesenteric veins. You discover in him the same organs of sentiment which
are in yourself. Answer me, machinist, has nature arranged all the
springs of sentiment in this animal that he should not feel? Has he
nerves, and is he incapable of suffering? Do not suppose this
impertinent contradiction in mature.

But the masters of this school ask, what is the soul of beasts? I do not
understand tins question. A tree has the faculty of receiving in its
fibres the sap which circulates, of evolving its buds, its leaves, and
its fruits. You will ask me what is the soul of this tree? It has
received these gifts. The animal has received those of sentiment,
memory, and a certain number of ideas. Who has bestowed these gifts; who
has given these faculties? He who has made the herb of the field to
grow, and who makes the earth gravitate towards the sun.

The souls of beasts are _substantial forms_, says Aristotle; and after
Aristotle, the Arabian school; and after the Arabian school, the
Angelical school; and after the Angelical school, the Sorbonne; and
after the Sorbonne, every one in the world.

The souls of beasts are material, exclaim other philosophers. These have
not been more fortunate than the former. They are in vain asked what is
a material soul? They say that it is a matter which has sensation; but
who has given it this sensation? It is a material soul, that is to say,
it is composed of a matter which gives sensation to matter. They cannot
get out of this circle.

Listen to one kind of beasts reasoning upon another; their soul is a
spiritual being, which dies with the body; but what proof have you of
it? What idea have you of this spiritual being, which has sentiment,
memory, and its share of ideas and combinations, but which can never
tell what made a child of six years old? On what ground do you imagine
that this being, which is not corporeal, perishes with the body? The
greatest beasts are those who have suggested that this soul is neither
body nor spiritan excellent system! We can only understand by spirit
something unknown, which is not body. Thus the system of these gentlemen
amounts to this, that the soul of beasts is a substance which is neither
body, nor something which is not body. Whence can proceed so many
contradictory errors? From the custom which men have of examining what a
thing is before they know whether it exists. They call the speech the
effect of a breath of mind, the soul of a sigh. What is the soul? It is
a name which I have given to this valve which rises and falls, which
lets the air in, relieves itself, and sends it through a pipe when I
move the lungs.

There is not, then, a soul distinct from the machine. But what moves the
lungs of animals? I have already said, the power that moves the stars.
The philosopher who said, _"Deus est animâ brutorum."_--God is the soul
of the brutes--is right; but he should have gone much further.


Since we have quoted Plato on love, why should we not quote him on "the
beautiful," since beauty causes love. It is curious to know how a Greek
spoke of the beautiful more than two thousand years since.

"The man initiated into the sacred mysteries, when he sees a beautiful
face accompanied by a divine form, a something more than mortal, feels a
secret emotion, and I know not what respectful fear. He regards this
figure as a divinity.... When the influence of beauty enters into his
soul by his eyes he burns; the wings of his soul are bedewed; they lose
the hardness which retains their germs and liquefy themselves; these
germs, swelling beneath the roots of its wings, they expand from every
part of the soul (for soul had wings formerly)," etc.

I am willing to believe that nothing is finer than this discourse of the
divine Plato; but it does not give us very clear ideas of the nature of
the beautiful.

Ask a toad what is beauty--the great beauty _To Kalon_; he will answer
that it is the female with two great round eyes coming out of her little
head, her large flat mouth, her yellow belly, and brown back. Ask a
negro of Guinea; beauty is to him a black, oily skin, sunken eyes, and a
flat nose. Ask the devil; he will tell you that the beautiful consists
in a pair of horns, four claws, and a tail. Then consult the
philosophers; they will answer you with jargon; they must have something
conformable to the archetype of the essence of the beautiful--to the _To

I was once attending a tragedy near a philosopher. "How beautiful that
is," said he. "What do you find beautiful?" asked I. "It is," said he,
"that the author has attained his object." The next day he took his
medicine, which did him some good. "It has attained its object," cried I
to him; "it is a beautiful medicine." He comprehended that it could not
be said that a medicine is beautiful, and that to apply to anything
the epithet beautiful it must cause admiration and pleasure. He admitted
that the tragedy had inspired him with these two sentiments, and that it
was the _To Kalon_, the beautiful.

We made a journey to England. The same piece was played, and, although
ably translated, it made all the spectators yawn. "Oh, oh!" said he,
"the _To Kalon_ is not the same with the English as with the French." He
concluded after many reflections that "the beautiful" is often merely
relative, as that which is decent at Japan is indecent at Rome; and that
which is the fashion at Paris is not so at Pekin; and he was thereby
spared the trouble of composing a long treatise on the beautiful.

[Illustration: A beautiful face accompanied by a divine form.]

There are actions which the whole world considers fine. A challenge
passed between two of Cæsar's officers, mortal enemies, not to shed each
other's blood behind a thicket by tierce and quarte, as among us, but to
decide which of them would best defend the camp of the Romans, about to
be attacked by the barbarians. One of the two, after having repulsed the
enemy, was near falling; the other flew to his assistance, saved his
life, and gained the victory. A friend devotes himself to death for his
friend, a son for his father. The Algonquin, the French, the Chinese,
will mutually say that all this is very beautiful, that such actions
give them pleasure, and that they admire them.

They will say the same of great moral maxims; of that of Zoroaster: "If
in doubt that an action be just, desist;" of that of Confucius: "Forget
injuries; never forget benefits."

The negro, with round eyes and flattened nose, who would not give the
ladies of our court the name of beautiful, would give it without
hesitation to these actions and these maxims. Even the wicked man
recognizes the beauty of the virtues which he cannot imitate. The
beautiful, which only strikes the senses, the imagination, and what is
called the spirit, is then often uncertain; the beauty which strikes the
heart is not. You will find a number of people who will tell you they
have found nothing beautiful in three-fourths of the "Iliad"; but nobody
will deny that the devotion of Codrus for his people was fine, supposing
it was true.

Brother Attinet, a Jesuit, a native of Dijon, was employed as designer
in the country house of the Emperor Camhi, at the distance of some
leagues from Pekin.

"This country house," says he, in one of his letters to M. Dupont, "is
larger than the town of Dijon. It is divided into a thousand habitations
on one line; each one has its courts, its parterres, its gardens, and
its waters; the front of each is ornamented with gold varnish and
paintings. In the vast enclosures of the park, hills have been raised by
hand from twenty to sixty feet high. The valleys are watered by an
infinite number of canals, which run a considerable distance to join and
form lakes and seas. We float on these seas in boats varnished and
gilt, from twelve to thirteen fathoms long and four wide. These barks
have magnificent saloons, and the borders of the canals are covered with
houses, all in different tastes. Every house has its gardens and
cascades. You go from one valley to another by alleys, alternately
ornamented with pavilions and grottoes. No two valleys are alike; the
largest of all is surrounded by a colonnade, behind which are gilded
buildings. All the apartments of these houses correspond in magnificence
with the outside. All the canals have bridges at stated distances; these
bridges are bordered with balustrades of white marble sculptured in

"In the middle of the great sea is raised a rock, and on this rock is a
square pavilion, in which are more than a hundred apartments. From this
square pavilion there is a view of all the palaces, all the houses, and
all the gardens of this immense enclosure, and there are more than four
hundred of them.

"When the emperor gives a fête all these buildings are illuminated in an
instant, and from every house there are fireworks.

"This is not all; at the end of what they call the sea is a great fair,
held by the emperor's officers. Vessels come from the great sea to
arrive at this fair. The courtiers disguise themselves as merchants and
artificers of all sorts; one keeps a coffee house, another a tavern; one
takes the profession of a thief, another that of the officer who
pursues him. The emperor and all the ladies of the court come to buy
stuffs, the false merchants cheat them as much as they can; they tell
them that it is shameful to dispute so much about the price, and that
they are poor customers. Their majesties reply that the merchants are
knaves; the latter are angry and affect to depart; they are appeased;
the emperor buys all and makes lotteries of it for all his court.
Farther on are spectacles of all sorts."

When brother Attinet came from China to Versailles he found it small and
dull. The Germans, who were delighted to stroll about its groves, were
astonished that brother Attinet was so difficult. This is another reason
which determines me not to write a treatise on the beautiful.


The bees may be regarded as superior to the human race in this, that
from their own substance they produce another which is useful; while, of
all our secretions, there is not one good for anything; nay, there is
not one which does not render mankind disagreeable.

I have been charmed to find that the swarms which turn out of the hive
are much milder than our sons when they leave college. The young bees
then sting no one; or at least but rarely and in extraordinary cases.
They suffer themselves to be carried quietly in the bare hand to the
hive which is destined for them. But no sooner have they learned in
their new habitation to know their interests than they become like us
and make war. I have seen very peaceable bees go for six months to labor
in a neighboring meadow covered with flowers which secreted them. When
the mowers came they rushed furiously from their hive upon those who
were about to steal their property and put them to flight.

We find in the Proverbs attributed to Solomon that "there are four
things, the least upon earth, but which are wiser than the wise men--the
ants, a little people who lay up food during the harvest; the hares, a
weak people who lie on stones; the grasshoppers, who have no kings and
who journey in flocks; and the lizards, which work with their hands and
dwell in the palaces of kings." I know not how Solomon forgot the bees,
whose instinct seems very superior to that of hares, which do not lie on
stone; or of lizards, with whose genius I am not acquainted. Moreover, I
shall always prefer a bee to a grasshopper.

The bees have, in all ages, furnished the poet with descriptions,
comparisons, allegories, and fables. Mandeville's celebrated "Fable of
the Bees" made a great noise in England. Here is a short sketch of it:

     Once the bees, in worldly things,
       Had a happy government;
     And their laborers and their kings
       Made them wealthy and content;
     But some greedy drones at last
       Found their way into their hive;
       Those, in idleness to thrive,
     Told the bees they ought to fast.
       Sermons were _their_ only labors;
       Work they preached unto their neighbors.
     In their language they would say,
       "You shall surely go to heaven,
       When to us you've freely given
     Wax and honey all away."--
       Foolishly the bees believed,
       Till by famine undeceived;
     When their misery was complete,
       All the strange delusion vanished!
       Now the drones are killed or banished,
     And the bees again may eat.

Mandeville goes much further; he asserts that bees cannot live at their
ease in a great and powerful hive without many vices. "No kingdom, no
state," says he, "can flourish without vices. Take away the vanity of
ladies of quality, and there will be no more fine manufactures of silk,
no more employment for men and women in a thousand different branches; a
great part of the nation will be reduced to beggary. Take away the
avarice of our merchants, and the fleets of England will be annihilated.
Deprive artists of envy, and emulation will cease; we shall sink back
into primitive rudeness and ignorance."

It is quite true that a well-governed society turns every vice to
account; but it is not true that these vices are necessary to the
well-being of the world. Very good remedies may be made from poisons,
but poisons do not contribute to the support of life. By thus reducing
the "Fable of the Bees" to its just value, it might be made a work of
moral utility.


Every country where begging, where mendicity, is a profession, is ill
governed. Beggary, as I have elsewhere said, is a vermin that clings to
opulence. Yes; but let it be shaken off; let the hospitals be for
sickness and age alone, and let the shops be for the young and vigorous.

The following is an extract from a sermon composed by a preacher ten
years ago for the parish of St. Leu and St. Giles, which is the parish
of the beggars and the convulsionaries: "_Pauper es
evangelicantur_"--"the gospel is preached to the poor."

"My dear brethren the beggars, what is meant by the word _gospel_? It
signifies _good news_. It is, then, good news that I come to tell you;
and what is it? It is that if you are idlers you will die on a
dung-hill. Know that there have been idle kings, so at least we are
told, and they at last had not where to lay their heads. If you work,
you will be as happy as other men.

"The preachers at St. Eustache and St. Roche may deliver to the rich
very fine sermons in a flowery style, which procure for the auditors a
light slumber with an easy digestion, and for the orator a thousand
crowns; but I address those whom hunger keeps awake. Work for your
bread, I say; for the Scripture says that he who does not work deserves
not to eat. Our brother in adversity, Job, who was for some time in your
condition, says that man is born to labor as the bird is to fly. Look
at this immense city; every one is busy; the judges rise at four in the
morning to administer justice to you and send you to the galleys when
your idleness has caused you to thieve rather awkwardly.

"The king works; he attends his council every day; and he has made
campaigns. Perhaps you will say he is none the richer. Granted; but that
is not his fault. The financiers know, better than you or I do, that not
one-half his revenue ever enters his coffers. He has been obliged to
sell his plate in order to defend us against our enemies. We should aid
him in our turn. The Friend of Man (_l'Ami des Hommes_) allows him only
seventy-five millions per annum. Another friend all at once gives him
seven hundred and forty. But of all these Job's comforters, not one will
advance him a single crown. It is necessary to invent a thousand
ingenious ways of drawing this crown from our pockets, which, before it
reaches his own, is diminished by at least one-half.

"Work, then, my dear brethren; act for yourselves, for I forewarn you
that if you do not take care of yourselves, no one will take care of
you; you will be treated as the king has been in several grave
remonstrances; people will say, 'God help you.'

"We will go into the provinces, you will answer; we skill be fed by the
lords of the land, by the farmers, by the curates. Do not flatter
yourselves, my dear brethren, that you shall eat at their tables; they
have for the most part enough to do to feed themselves, notwithstanding
the 'Method of Rapidly Getting Rich by Agriculture' and fifty other
works of the same kind, published every day at Paris for the use of the
people in the country, with the cultivation of which the authors never
had anything to do.

"I behold among you young men of some talent, who say that they will
make verses, that they will write pamphlets, like Chisiac, Normotte, or
Patouillet; that they will work for the _'Nouvelles Ecclésiastiques'_
that they will write sheets for Fréron, funeral orations for bishops,
songs for the comic opera. Any of these would at least be an occupation.
When a man is writing for the _'Année Littéraire,'_ he is not robbing on
the highway, he is only robbing his creditors. But do better, my dear
brethren in Jesus Christ--my dear beggars, who, by passing your lives in
asking charity, run the risk of the galleys; do better; enter one of the
four mendicant orders; you will then be not only rich, but honored



This Balthazar Bekker, a very good man, a great enemy of the everlasting
hell and the devil, and a still greater of precision, made a great deal
of noise in his time by his great book, "The World Bewitched."

One Jacques-George de Chaufepied, a pretended continuator of Bayle,
assures us that Bekker learned Greek at Gascoigne. Niceron has good
reasons for believing that it was at Franeker. This historical point has
occasioned much doubt and trouble at court.

The fact is that in the time of Bekker, a minister of the Holy
Gospel--as they say in Holland--the devil was still in prodigious credit
among divines of all sorts in the middle of the seventeenth century, in
spite of the good spirits which were beginning to enlighten the world.
Witchcraft, possessions, and everything else attached to that fine
divinity, were in vogue throughout Europe and frequently had fatal

A century had scarcely elapsed since King James himself--called by Henry
IV. _Master_ James--that great enemy of the Roman communion and the
papal power, had published his "Demonology" (what a book for a king!)
and in it had admitted sorceries, incubuses, and succubuses, and
acknowledged the power of the devil, and of the pope, who, according to
him, had just as good a right to drive Satan from the bodies of the
possessed as any other priest. And we, miserable Frenchmen, who boast of
having recovered some small part of our senses, in what a horrid sink of
stupid barbarism were we then immersed! Not a parliament, not a
presidential court, but was occupied in trying sorcerers; not a great
jurisconsult who did not write memorials on possessions by the devil.
France resounded with the cries of poor imbecile creatures whom the
judges, after making them believe that they had danced round a cauldron,
tortured and put to death without pity, in horrible torments. Catholics
and Protestants were alike infected with this absurd and frightful
superstition; the pretext being that in one of the Christian gospels it
is said that disciples were sent to cast out devils. It was a sacred
duty to put girls to the torture in order to make them confess that they
had lain with Satan, and that they had fallen in love with him in the
form of a goat. All the particulars of the meetings of the girls with
this goat were detailed in the trials of the unfortunate individuals.
They were burned at last, whether they confessed or denied; and France
was one vast theatre of judicial carnage.

I have before me a collection of these infernal proceedings, made by a
counsellor of the Parliament of Bordeaux, named De Langre, and addressed
to Monseigneur Silleri, chancellor of France, without Monseigneur
Silleri's having ever thought of enlightening those infamous
magistrates. But, indeed, it would have been necessary to begin by
enlightening the chancellor himself. What was France at that time? A
continual St. Bartholomew--from the massacre of Vassy to the
assassination of Marshal d'Ancre and his innocent wife.

Will it be believed that in the time of this very Bekker, a poor girl
named Magdalen Chaudron, who had been persuaded that she was a witch,
was burned at Geneva?

The following is a very exact summary of the procès-verbal of this
absurd and horrid act, which is not the last monument of the kind:

"Michelle, having met the devil as she was going out of the town, the
devil gave her a kiss, received her homage, and imprinted on her upper
lip and her right breast the mark which it is his custom to affix on all
persons whom he recognizes as his favorites. This seal of the devil is a
small sign-manual, which, as demonological jurisconsults affirm, renders
the skin insensible.

"The devil ordered Michelle Chaudron to bewitch two girls; and she
immediately obeyed her lord. The relatives of the young women judicially
charged her with devilish practices, and the girls themselves were
interrogated and confronted with the accused. They testified that they
constantly felt a swarming of ants in certain parts of their bodies, and
that they were possessed. The physicians were then called in, or at
least those who then passed as physicians. They visited the girls and
sought on Michelle's body for the devil's seal, which the procès-verbal
calls the _satanic marks_. They thrust a large needle into the spot, and
this of itself was a grievous torture. Blood flowed from the puncture;
and Michelle made known by her cries that satanic marks do not produce
insensibility. The judges, seeing no satisfactory evidence that Michelle
Chaudron was a witch, had her put to the torture, which never fails to
bring forth proofs. The unfortunate girl, yielding at length to the
violence of her tortures, confessed whatever was required of her.

"The physicians again sought for the satanic mark. They found it in a
small dark spot on one of her thighs. They applied the needle; but the
torture had been so excessive that the poor, expiring creature scarcely
felt the wound; she did not cry out; therefore the crime was
satisfactorily proved. But, as manners were becoming less rude, she was
not burned until she had been hanged."

Every tribunal in Christian Europe still rings with similar
condemnations; so long did this barbarous imbecility endure, that even
in our own day, at Würzburg, in Franconia, there was a witch burned in
1750. And what a witch! A young woman of quality, the abbess of a
convent! and in our own times, under the empire of Maria Theresa of

These horrors, by which Europe was so long filled, determined Bekker to
fight against the devil. In vain was he told, in prose and verse, that
he was doing wrong to attack him, seeing that he was extremely like him,
being horribly ugly; nothing could stop him. He began with absolutely
denying the power of Satan; and even grew so bold as to maintain that he
does not exist. "If," said he, "there were a devil, he would revenge the
war which I make upon him."

Bekker reasoned but too well in saying that if the devil existed he
would punish him. His brother ministers took Satan's part and suspended
Bekker; for heretics will also excommunicate; and in the article of
cursing, Geneva mimics Rome.

Bekker enters on his subject in the second volume. According to him, the
serpent which seduced our first parents was not a devil, but a real
serpent; as Balaam's ass was a real ass, and as the whale that swallowed
Jonah was a real whale. It was so decidedly a real serpent, that all its
species, which had before walked on their feet, were condemned to crawl
on their bellies. No serpent, no animal of any kind, is called Satan, or
Beelzebub, or devil, in the Pentateuch. There is not so much as an
allusion to Satan. The Dutch destroyer of Satan does, indeed, admit the
existence of angels; but at the same time he assures us that it cannot
be proved by reasoning. "And if there are any," says he, in the eighth
chapter of his second volume, "it is hard to say what they are. The
Scripture tells us nothing about their nature, nor in what the nature of
a spirit consists. The Bible was made, not for angels, but for men;
Jesus was made a man for us, not an angel."

If Bekker has so many scruples concerning angels, it is not to be
wondered at that he has some concerning devils; and it is very amusing
to see into what contortions he puts his mind in order to avail himself
of such texts as appear to be in his favor and to evade such as are
against him.

He does his utmost to prove that the devil had nothing to do with the
afflictions of Job; and here he is even more prolix than the friends of
that holy man.

There is great probability that he was condemned only through the
ill-humor of his judges at having lost so much time in reading his work.
If the devil himself had been forced to read Bekker's "World Bewitched"
he could never have forgiven the fault of having so prodigiously wearied

One of our Dutch divine's greatest difficulties is to explain these
words: "Jesus was transported by the spirit into the desert to be
tempted by the devil." No text can be clearer. A divine may write
against Beelzebub as much as he pleases, but he must of necessity admit
his existence; he may then explain the difficult texts if he can.

Whoever desires to know precisely what the devil is may be informed by
referring to the Jesuit Scott; no one has spoken of him more at length;
he is much worse than Bekker.

Consulting history, where the ancient origin of the devil is to be found
in the doctrine of the Persians, Ahrimanes, the bad principle, corrupts
all that the good principle had made salutary. Among the Egyptians,
Typhon does all the harm he can; while Oshireth, whom we call Osiris,
does, together with Isheth, or Isis, all the good of which he is

Before the Egyptians and Persians, Mozazor, among the Indians, had
revolted against God and become the devil, but God had at last pardoned
him. If Bekker and the Socinians had known this anecdote of the fall of
the Indian angels and their restoration, they would have availed
themselves of it to support their opinion that hell is not perpetual,
and to give hopes of salvation to such of the damned as read their

The Jews, as has already been observed, never spoke of the fall of the
angels in the Old Testament; but it is mentioned in the New.

About the period of the establishment of Christianity a book was
attributed to "Enoch, the seventh man after Adam," concerning the devil
and his associates. Enoch gives us the names of the leaders of the
rebellious and the faithful angels, but he does not say that war was in
heaven; on the contrary, the fight was upon a mountain of the earth, and
it was for the possession of young women.

St. Jude cites this book in his Epistle: "And the angels, which kept not
their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in
everlasting chains under darkness, unto the judgment of the great
day.... Woe unto them, for they have gone in the way of Cain.... And
Enoch, also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these...."

St. Peter in his second Epistle alludes to the Book of Enoch when he
says: "For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down
to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness...."

Bekker must have found it difficult to resist passages so formal.
However, he was even more inflexible on the subject of devils than on
that of angels; he would not be subdued by the Book of Enoch, the
seventh man from Adam; he maintained that there was no more a devil than
there was a book of Enoch. He said that the devil was imitated from
ancient mythology, that it was an old story revived, and that we are
nothing more than plagiarists.

We may at the present day be asked why we call that Lucifer the _evil
spirit_, whom the Hebrew version, and the book attributed to Enoch,
named Samyaza. It is because we understand Latin better than Hebrew.

But whether Lucifer be the planet Venus, or the Samyaza of Enoch, or the
Satan of the Babylonians, or the Mozazor of the Indians, or the Typhon
of the Egyptians, Bekker was right in saying that so enormous a power
ought not to be attributed to him as that with which, even down to our
own times, he has been believed to be invested. It is too much to have
immolated to him a woman of quality of Würzburg, Magdalen Chaudron, the
curate of Gaupidi, the wife of Marshal d'Ancre, and more than a hundred
thousand other wizards and witches, in the space of thirteen hundred
years, in Christian states. Had Belthazar Bekker been content with
paring the devil's nails, he would have been very well received; but
when a curate would annihilate the devil he loses his cure.


We shall see at the article "Certainty" that we ought often to be very
uncertain of what we are certain of; and that we may fail in good sense
when deciding according to what is called _common_ sense. But what is it
that we call _believing_?

A Turk comes and says to me, "I believe that the angel Gabriel often
descended from the empyrean, to bring Mahomet leaves of the Koran,
written on blue vellum."

Well, Mustapha, and on what does thy shaven head found its belief of
this incredible thing?

"On this: That there are the greatest probabilities that I have not been
deceived in the relation of these improbable prodigies; that Abubeker,
the father-in-law, Ali, the son-in-law, Aisha, or Aisse, the daughter,
Omar, and Osman, certified the truth of the fact in the presence of
fifty thousand men--gathered together all the leaves, read them to the
faithful, and attested that not a word had been altered.

"That we have never had but one Koran, which has never been contradicted
by another Koran. That God has never permitted the least alteration to
be made in this book.

"That its doctrine and precepts are the perfection of reason. Its
doctrine consists in the unity of God, for Whom we must live and die; in
the immortality of the soul; the eternal rewards of the just and
punishments of the wicked; and the mission of our great prophet
Mahomet, proved by victories.

"Its precepts are: To be just and valiant; to give alms to the poor; to
abstain from that enormous number of women whom the Eastern princes, and
in particular the petty Jewish kings, took to themselves without
scruple; to renounce the good wines of Engaddi and Tadmor, which those
drunken Hebrews have so praised in their books; to pray to God five
times a day, etc.

"This sublime religion has been confirmed by the miracle of all others
the finest, the most constant, and best verified in the history of the
world; that Mahomet, persecuted by the gross and absurd scholastic
magistrates who decreed his arrest, and obliged to quit his country,
returned victorious; that he made his imbecile and sanguinary enemies
his footstool; that he all his life fought the battles of the Lord; that
with a small number he always triumphed over the greater number; that he
and his successors have converted one-half of the earth; and that, with
God's help, we shall one day convert the other half."

Nothing can be arrayed in more dazzling colors. Yet Mustapha, while
believing so firmly, always feels some small shadows of doubt arising in
his soul when he hears any difficulties started respecting the visits of
the angel Gabriel; the sura or chapter brought from heaven to declare
that the great prophet was not a cuckold; or the mare Borak, which
carried him in one night from Mecca to Jerusalem. Mustapha stammers; he
makes very bad answers, at which he blushes; yet he not only tells you
that he believes, but would also persuade you to believe. You press
Mustapha; he still gapes and stares, and at last goes away to wash
himself in honor of Allah, beginning his ablution at the elbow and
ending with the forefinger.

Is Mustapha really persuaded--convinced of all that he has told us? Is
he perfectly sure that Mahomet was sent by God, as he is sure that the
city of Stamboul exists? as he is sure that the Empress Catherine II.
sent a fleet from the remotest seas of the North to land troops in
Peloponnesus--a thing as astonishing as the journey from Mecca to
Jerusalem in one night--and that this fleet destroyed that of the
Ottomans in the Dardanelles?

The truth is that Mustapha believes what he does not believe. He has
been accustomed to pronounce, with his mollah, certain words which he
takes for ideas. To _believe_ is very often to _doubt_.

"Why do you believe that?" says Harpagon. "I believe it because I
believe it," answers Master Jacques; and most men might return the same

Believe me fully, my dear reader, when I say one must not believe too
easily. But what shall we say of those who would persuade others of what
they themselves do not believe? and what of the monsters who persecute
their brethren in the humble and rational doctrine of doubt and


_Of the Fifty Thousand and Seventy Jews Struck with Sudden Death for
Having Looked Upon the Ark; of the Five Golden Emeroids Paid by the
Philistines; and of Dr. Kennicott's Incredulity._

Men of the world will perhaps be astonished to find this word the
subject of an article; but we here address only the learned and ask
their instruction.

Bethshemesh was a village belonging to God's people, situated, according
to commentators, two miles north of Jerusalem. The Phœnicians having,
in Samuel's time, beaten the Jews, and taken from them their Ark of
alliance in the battle, in which they killed thirty thousand of their
men, were severely punished for it by the Lord:

_"Percussit eos in secretiori parte natium, et ebullierunt villæ et
agri.... et nati sunt mures, et facta est confusio mortis magna in
civitate."_ Literally: "He struck them in the most secret part of the
buttocks; and the fields and the farmhouses were troubled.... and there
sprung up mice; and there was a great confusion of death in the city."

The prophets of the Phœnicians, or Philistines, having informed them
that they could deliver themselves from the scourge only by giving to
the Lord five golden mice and five golden emeroids, and sending him back
the Jewish Ark, they fulfilled this order, and, according to the express
command of their prophets sent back the Ark with the mice and emeroids
on a wagon drawn by two cows, with each a sucking calf and without a

These two cows of themselves took the Ark straight to Bethshemesh. The
men of Bethshemesh approached the Ark in order to look at it, which
liberty was punished yet more severely than the profanation by the
Phœnicians had been. The Lord struck with sudden death seventy men of
the people, and fifty thousand of the populace.

The reverend Doctor Kennicott, an Irishman, printed in 1768 a French
commentary on this occurrence and dedicated it to the bishop of Oxford.
At the head of this commentary he entitles himself Doctor of Divinity,
member of the Royal Society of London, of the Palatine Academy, of the
Academy of Göttingen, and of the Academy of Inscriptions at Paris. All
that I know of the matter is that he is not of the Academy of
Inscriptions at Paris. Perhaps he is one of its correspondents. His vast
erudition may have deceived him, but titles are distinct from things.

He informs the public that his pamphlet is sold at Paris by Saillant and
Molini, at Rome by Monaldini, at Venice by Pasquali, at Florence by
Cambiagi, at Amsterdam by Marc-Michel Rey, at The Hague by Gosse, at
Leyden by Jaquau, and in London by Beckett, who receives subscriptions.

In this pamphlet he pretends to prove that the Scripture text has been
corrupted. Here we must be permitted to differ with him. Nearly all
Bibles agree in these expressions: seventy men of the people and fifty
thousand of the populace--_"De populo septuaginta viros, et quinquaginta
millia plebis."_ The reverend Doctor Kennicott says to the right
reverend the lord bishop of Oxford that formerly there were strong
prejudices in favor of the Hebrew text, but that for seventeen years his
lordship and himself have been freed from their prejudices, after the
deliberate and attentive perusal of this chapter.

In this we differ from Dr. Kennicott, and the more we read this chapter
the more we reverence the ways of the Lord, which are not our ways. It
is impossible, says Kennicott, for the candid reader not to feel
astonished and affected at the contemplation of fifty thousand men
destroyed in one village--men, too, employed in gathering the harvest.

This does, it is true, suppose a hundred thousand persons, at least, in
that village, but should the doctor forget that the Lord had promised
Abraham that his posterity should be as numerous as the sands of the

The Jews and the Christians, adds he, have not scrupled to express their
repugnance to attach faith to this destruction of fifty thousand and
seventy men.

We answer that we are Christians and have no repugnance to attach faith
to whatever is in the Holy Scriptures. We answer, with the reverend
Father Calmet, that "if we were to reject whatever is extraordinary and
beyond the reach of our conception we must reject the whole Bible." We
are persuaded that the Jews, being under the guidance of God himself,
could experience no events but such as were stamped with the seal of the
Divinity and quite different from what happened to other men. We will
even venture to advance that the death of these fifty thousand and
seventy men is one of the least surprising things in the Old Testament.

We are struck with astonishment still more reverential when Eve's
serpent and Balaam's ass talk; when the waters of the cataracts are
swelled by rain fifteen cubits above all the mountains; when we behold
the plagues of Egypt, and the six hundred and thirty thousand fighting
Jews flying on foot through the divided and suspended sea; when Joshua
stops the sun and moon at noonday; when Samson slays a thousand
Philistines with the jaw-bone of an ass.... In those divine times all
was miracle, without exception, and we have the profoundest reverence
for all these miracles--for that ancient world which was not our world;
for that nature which was not our nature; for a divine book, in which
there can be nothing human.

But we are astonished at the liberty which Dr. Kennicott takes of
calling those deists and atheists, who, while they revere the Bible more
than he does, differ from him in opinion. Never will it be believed that
a man with such ideas is of the Academy of Medals and Inscriptions. He
is, perhaps, of the Academy of Bedlam, the most ancient of all, and
whose colonies extend throughout the earth.


Bilhah, servant to Rachel, and Zilpah, servant to Leah, each bore the
patriarch Jacob two children, and, be it observed, that they inherited
like legitimate sons, as well as the eight other male children whom
Jacob had by the two sisters Leah and Rachel. It is true that all their
inheritance consisted in a blessing; whereas, William the Bastard
inherited Normandy.

Thierri, a bastard of Clovis, inherited the best part of Gaul, invaded
by his father. Several kings of Spain and Naples have been bastards. In
Spain bastards have always inherited. King Henry of Transtamare was not
considered as an illegitimate king, though he was an illegitimate child,
and this race of bastards, founded in the house of Austria, reigned in
Spain until Philip V.

The line of Aragon, who reigned in Naples in the time of Louis XII.,
were bastards. Count de Dunois signed himself "the bastard of Orleans,"
and letters were long preserved of the duke of Normandy, king of
England, which were signed "William the Bastard."

In Germany it is otherwise; the descent must be pure; bastards never
inherit fiefs, nor have any estate. In France, as has long been the
case, a king's bastard cannot be a priest without a dispensation from
Rome, but he becomes a prince without any difficulty as soon as the king
acknowledges him to be the offspring of his sire, even though he be the
bastard of an adulterous father and mother. It is the same in Spain. The
bastard of a king of England may be a duke but not a prince. Jacob's
bastards were neither princes nor dukes; they had no lands, the reason
being that their father had none, but they were afterwards called
_patriarchs_, which may be rendered _arch-fathers_.

It has been asked whether the bastards of the popes might be popes in
turn. Pope John XI. was, it is true, a bastard of Pope Sergius III., and
of the famous Marozia; but an instance is not a law.


Samuel Ornik, a native of Basle, was, as is well known, a very amiable
young man, who, moreover, knew his German and Greek New Testament by
heart. At the age of twenty his parents sent him to travel. He was
commissioned to carry books to the coadjutor at Paris in the time of the
Fronde. He arrived at the archbishop's gate and was told by the Swiss
that _monseigneur_ saw no one. "My dear fellow," said Ornik, "you are
very rude to your countrymen; the apostles allowed every one to
approach, and Jesus Christ desired that little children should come unto
him. I have nothing to ask of your master; on the contrary, I bring him
something." "Enter, then," said the Swiss.

He waited an hour in the first ante-chamber. Being quite artless he
attacked with questions a domestic who was very fond of telling all he
knew about his master. "He must be pretty rich," said Ornik, "to have
such a swarm of pages and footmen running in and out of the house." "I
don't know," answered the other, "what his income is, but I hear Joli
and the Abbé Charier say that he is two millions in debt." "But who is
that lady who came out of a cabinet and is passing by?" "That is Madame
de Pomereu, one of his mistresses." "She is really very pretty, but I
have not read that the apostles had such company in their bedchambers in
a morning." "Ah! that, I believe, is monsieur, about to give audience."
"Say _sa grandeur, monseigneur_." "Well, with all my heart...." Ornik
saluted _sa grandeur_, presented his books, and was received with a most
gracious smile. _Sa grandeur_ said three words to him, and stepped into
his carriage, escorted by fifty horsemen. In stepping in, monseigneur
dropped a sheath and Ornik was astonished that monseigneur should carry
so large an inkhorn. "Do you not see," said the talker, "that it is his
dagger? every one that goes to parliament wears his dagger?" Ornik
uttered an exclamation of astonishment, and departed.

He went through France and was edified by town after town. From thence
he passed into Italy. In the papal territories he met a bishop with an
income of only a thousand crowns, who went on foot. Ornik, being
naturally kind, offered him a place in his cambiatura. "Signor, you are
no doubt going to comfort the sick?" "Sir, I am going to my master."
"Your master? He, no doubt, is Jesus Christ." "Sir, he is Cardinal
Azolino; I am his almoner. He gives me a very poor salary, but he has
promised to place me with Donna Olimpia, the favorite sister-in-law of
_nostro signore_." "What! are you in the pay of a cardinal? But do you
not know that there were no cardinals in the time of Jesus Christ and
St. John?" "Is it possible!" exclaimed the Italian prelate. "Nothing is
more true; you have read it in the Gospel." "I have never read it,"
replied the bishop; "I know only the office of Our Lady." "I tell you
there were neither cardinals nor bishops, and when there were bishops
the priests were almost their equals, as St. Jerome, in several places,
assures us." "Holy Virgin" said the Italian, "I knew nothing about it;
and what of the popes?" "There were no popes either." The good bishop
crossed himself, thinking he was with the evil one, and leaped from the
side of his companion.


This is a Greek word signifying _an attack on reputation_. We find
blasphemia in Demosthenes. In the Greek Church it was used only to
express an injury done to God. The Romans never made use of this
expression, apparently not thinking that God's honor could be offended
like that of men.

There scarcely exists one synonym. Blasphemy does not altogether convey
the idea of sacrilege. We say of a man who has taken God's name in
vain, who, in the violence of anger, has sworn--as it is expressed--by
the name of God, that he has _blasphemed_; but we do not say that he has
committed sacrilege. The sacrilegious man is he who perjures himself on
the gospel, who extends his rapacity to sacred things, who imbrues his
hands in the blood of priests.

Great sacrileges have always been punished with death in all nations,
especially those accompanied by bloodshed. The author of the
_"Institutes au Droit Criminel"_ reckons among divine high treasons in
the second degree, the non-observance of Sundays and holidays. He should
have said the non-observance attended with marked contempt, for simple
negligence is a sin, but not, as he calls it, a sacrilege. It is absurd
to class together, as this author does, simony, the carrying off of a
nun, and the forgetting to go to vespers on a holiday. It is one great
instance of the errors committed by writers on jurisprudence, who, not
having been called upon to make laws, take upon themselves to interpret
those of the state.

Blasphemies uttered in intoxication, in anger, in the excess of
debauchery, or in the heat of unguarded conversation have been subjected
by legislators to much lighter penalties. For instance, the advocate
whom we have already cited says that the laws of France condemn simple
blasphemers to a fine for the first offence, which is doubled for the
second, tripled for the third, and quadrupled for the fourth offence;
for the fifth relapse the culprit is set in the pillory, for the sixth
relapse he is pilloried, and has his upper lip burned off with a hot
iron, and for the seventh he loses his tongue. He should have added that
this was an ordinance of the year 1666.

Punishments are almost always arbitrary, which is a great defect in
jurisprudence. But this defect opens the way for clemency and
compassion, and this compassion is no other than the strictest justice,
for it would be horrible to punish a youthful indiscretion as poisoners
and parricides are punished. A sentence of death for an offence which
deserves nothing more than correction is no other than an assassination
committed with the sword of justice.

Is it not to the purpose here to remark that what has been blasphemy in
one country has often been piety in another?

Suppose a Tyrian merchant landed at the port of Canope: he might be
scandalized on seeing an onion, a cat, or a goat carried in procession;
he might speak indecorously of Isheth, Oshireth, and Horeth, or might
turn aside his head and not fall on his knees at the sight of a
procession with the parts of human generation larger than life; he might
express his opinion at supper, or even sing some song in which the
Tyrian sailors made a jest of the Egyptian absurdities. He might be
overheard by the maid of the inn, whose conscience would not suffer her
to conceal so enormous a crime; she would run and denounce the offender
to the nearest shoen that bore the image of the truth on his breast, and
it is known how this image of truth was made. The tribunal of the
shoens, or shotim, would condemn the Tyrian blasphemer to a dreadful
death, and confiscate his vessel. Yet this merchant might be considered
at Tyre as one of the most pious persons in Phœnicia.

Numa sees that his little horde of Romans is a Collection of Latin
freebooters who steal right and left all they can find--oxen, sheep,
fowls, and girls. He tells them that he has spoken with the nymph Egeria
in a cavern, and that the nymph has been employed by Jupiter to give him
laws. The senators treat him at first as a blasphemer and threaten to
throw him headlong from the Tarpeian rock. Numa makes himself a powerful
party; he gains over some seniors who go with him into Egeria's grotto.
She talks to them and converts them; they convert the senate and the
people. In a little time Numa is no longer a blasphemer, the name is
given only to such as doubt the existence of the nymph.

In our own times it is unfortunate that what is blasphemy at Rome, at
our Lady of Loretto, and within the walls of San Gennaro, is piety in
London, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Berlin, Copenhagen, Berne, Basel, and
Hamburg. It is yet more unfortunate that even in the same country, in
the same town, in the same street, people treat one another as

Nay, of the ten thousand Jews living at Rome there is not one who does
not regard the pope as the chief of the blasphemers, while the hundred
thousand Christians who inhabit Rome, in place of two millions of
Jovians who filled it in Trajan's time, firmly believe that the Jews
meet in their synagogues on Saturday for the purpose of blaspheming.

A Cordelier has no hesitation in applying the epithet of blasphemer to a
Dominican who says that the Holy Virgin was born in original sin,
notwithstanding that the Dominicans have a bull from the pope which
permits them to teach the maculate conception in their convents, and
that, besides this bull, they have in their forum the express
declaration of St. Thomas Aquinas.

The first origin of the schism of three-fourths of Switzerland and a
part of Lower Germany was a quarrel in the cathedral church of Frankfort
between a Cordelier, whose name I forget, and a Dominican named Vigand.

Both were drunk, according to the custom of that day. The drunken
Cordelier, who was preaching, thanked God that he was not a Jacobin,
swearing that it was necessary to exterminate the blaspheming Jacobins
who believed that the Holy Virgin had been born in mortal sin, and
delivered from sin only by the merits of her son. The drunken Jacobin
cried out: "Thou hast lied; thou thyself art a blasphemer." The
Cordelier descended from the pulpit with a great iron crucifix in his
hand, laid it about his adversary, and left him almost dead on the spot.

To revenge this outrage the Dominicans worked many miracles in Germany
and Switzerland; these miracles were designed to prove their faith.
They at length found means to imprint the marks of our Lord Jesus Christ
on one of their lay brethren named Jetzer. This operation was performed
at Berne by the Holy Virgin herself, but she borrowed the hand of the
sub-prior, who dressed himself in female attire and put a glory round
his head. The poor little lay brother, exposed all bloody to the
veneration of the people on the altar of the Dominicans at Berne, at
last cried out murder! sacrilege! The monks, in order to quiet him as
quickly as possible administered to him a host sprinkled with corrosive
sublimate, but the excess of the dose made him discharge the host from
his stomach.

The monks then accused him to the bishop of Lausanne of horrible
sacrilege. The indignant people of Berne in their turn accused the
monks, and four of them were burned at Berne on the 13th of May, 1509,
at the Marsilly gate. Such was the termination of this abominable
affair, which determined the people of Berne to choose a religion, bad
indeed in Catholic eyes, but which delivered them from the Cordeliers
and the Jacobins. The number of similar sacrileges is incredible. Such
are the effects of party spirit.

The Jesuits maintained for a hundred years that the Jansenists were
blasphemers, and proved it by a thousand _lettres-de-cachet_; the
Jansenists by upwards of four thousand volumes demonstrated that it was
the Jesuits who blasphemed. The writer of the _"Gazettes
Ecclésiastiques"_ pretends that all honest men blaspheme against him,
while he himself blasphemes from his garret on high against every honest
man in the kingdom. The gazette-writer's publisher blasphemes in return
and complains that he is starving. He would find it better to be honest
and polite.

One thing equally remarkable and consoling is that never in any country
of the earth, among the wildest idolaters, has any man been considered
as a blasphemer for acknowledging one supreme, eternal, and all-powerful
God. It certainly was not for having acknowledged this truth that
Socrates was condemned to the hemlock, for the doctrine of a Supreme God
was announced in all the Grecian mysteries. It was a faction that
destroyed Socrates; he was accused, at a venture, of not recognizing the
_secondary_ gods, and on this point it was that he was accused as a

The first Christians were accused of blasphemy for the same reason, but
the partisans of the ancient religion of the empire, the Jovians, who
reproached the primitive Christians with blasphemy, were at length
condemned as blasphemers themselves, under Theodosius II. Dryden says:

     This side to-day, to-morrow t'other burns,
     And they're all Gods Almighty in their turns.


Body and matter are here the same thing although there is hardly any
such thing as synonym in the most rigorous sense of the word. There have
been persons who by this word "body" have understood "spirit" also.
They have said spirit originally signifies breath; only a body can
breathe, therefore body and spirit may, after all, be the same thing. In
this sense La Fontaine said to the celebrated Duke de la Rochefoucauld:
_"J'entens les esprits corps et pétris de matière."_ In the same sense
he says to Madame Sablière:

     _Je subtiliserais un morceau de matière,_
     _Quintessence d'atome, extrait de la lumière,_
     _je ne sais quoiplus vif et plus subtil encor...._

No one thought of harassing good Monsieur La Fontaine, or bringing him
to trial for his expressions. Were a poor philosopher, or even a poet,
to say as much nowadays, how many would there be to fall on him! How
many scribblers to sell their extracts for sixpence! How many knaves,
for the sole purpose of making mischief, to cry philosopher!
peripatetic! disciple of Gassendi! pupil of Locke, and the primitive
fathers! damnable!

As we know not what a spirit is, so also we are ignorant of what a body
is; we see various properties, but what is the subject in which those
properties reside? "There is nothing but body," said Democritus and
Epicurus; "there is no such thing as body," said the disciples of Zeno,
of Elia.

Berkeley, bishop of Cloyne, is the last who, by a hundred captious
sophisms, has pretended to prove that bodies do not exist. They have,
says he, neither color, nor smell, nor heat; all these modalities are
in your sensations, not in the objects. He might have spared himself
the trouble of proving this truth for it was already sufficiently known.
But thence he passed to extent and solidity, which are essential to
body, and thinks he proves that there is no extent in a piece of green
cloth because the cloth is not in reality green, the sensation of green
being in ourselves only, therefore the sensation of extent is likewise
in ourselves only. Having thus destroyed extent he concludes that
solidity, which is attached to it, falls of itself, and therefore that
there is nothing in the world but our ideas. So that, according to this
doctor, ten thousand men killed by ten thousand cannon shots are in
reality nothing more than ten thousand apprehensions of our
understanding, and when a female becomes pregnant it is only one idea
lodged in another idea from which a third idea will be produced.

Surely, the bishop of Cloyne might have saved himself from falling into
this excessive absurdity. He thinks he shows that there is no extent
because a body has appeared to him four times as large through a glass
as to his naked eye, and four times as small through another glass.
Hence he concludes, that, since a body cannot be at the same time four
feet, sixteen feet, and but one foot in extent, there is no extent,
therefore there is nothing. He had only to take any measure and say: of
whatever extent this body may appear to me to be, it extends to so many
of these measures.

We might very easily see that extent and solidity were quite different
from sound, color, taste, smell. It is quite clear that these are
sensations excited in us by the configuration of parts, but extent is
not a sensation. When this lighted coal goes out, I am no longer warm;
when the air is no longer struck, I cease to hear; when this rose
withers, I no longer smell it: but the coal, the air, and the rose have
extent without me. Berkeley's paradox is not worth refuting.

Thus argued Zeno and Parmenides of old, and very clever they were; they
would prove to you that a tortoise went along as swiftly as Achilles,
for there was no such thing as motion; they discussed a hundred other
questions equally important. Most of the Greeks made philosophy a
juggle, and they transmitted their art to our schoolmen. Bayle himself
was occasionally one of the set and embroidered cobwebs like the rest.
In his article, "Zeno," against the divisible extent of matter and the
contiguity of bodies he ventures to say what would not be tolerated in
any six-months geometrician.

It is worth knowing how Berkeley was drawn into this paradox. A long
while ago I had some conversation with him, and he told me that his
opinion originated in our being unable to conceive what the subject of
this extension is, and certainly, in his book, he triumphs when he asks
Hylas what this subject, this substratum, this substance is? It is the
extended body, answers Hylas. Then the bishop, under the name of
Philonous, laughs at him, and poor Hylas, finding that he has said that
extension is the subject of extension, and has therefore talked
nonsense, remains quite confused, acknowledges that he understands
nothing at all of the matter; that there is no such thing as body; that
the natural world does not exist, and that there is none but an
intellectual world.

Hylas should only have said to Philonous: We know nothing of the subject
of this extension, solidity, divisibility, mobility, figure, etc.; I
know no more of it than I do of the subject of thought, feeling, and
will, but the subject does not the less exist for it has essential
properties of which it cannot be deprived.

We all resemble the greater part of the Parisian ladies who live well
without knowing what is put in their ragouts; just so do we enjoy bodies
without knowing of what they are composed. Of what does a body consist?
Of parts, and these parts resolve themselves into other parts. What are
these last parts? They, too, are bodies; you divide incessantly without
making any progress.

In short, a subtle philosopher, observing that a picture was made of
ingredients of which no single ingredient was a picture, and a house of
materials of which no one material was a house, imagined that bodies are
composed of an infinity of small things which are not bodies, and these
are called monads. This system is not without its merits, and, were it
revealed, I should think it very possible. These little beings would be
so many mathematical points, a sort of souls, waiting only for a
tenement: here would be a continual metempsychosis. This system is as
good as another; I like it quite as well as the declination of atoms,
the substantial forms, the versatile grace, or the vampires.



You despise books; you, whose lives are absorbed in the vanities of
ambition, the pursuit of pleasure, or in indolence, but remember that
all the known world, excepting only savage nations, is governed by
books. All Africa, to the limits of Ethiopia and Nigritia obeys the book
of the Koran after bowing to the book of the Gospel. China is ruled by
the moral book of Confucius, and a great part of India by the Veda.
Persia was governed for ages by the books of one of the Zoroasters.

In a lawsuit or criminal process, your property, your honor, perhaps
your life, depends on the interpretation of a book which you never read.
It is, however, with books as with men, a very small number play a great
part, the rest are confounded with the multitude.

By whom are mankind led in all civilized countries? By those who can
read and write. You are acquainted with neither Hippocrates, nor
Boerhaave, nor Sydenham, but you place your body in the hands of those
who can read them. You leave your soul entirely to the care of those
who are paid for reading the Bible, although there are not fifty of them
who have read it through with attention.

The world is now so entirely governed by books that they who command in
the city of the Scipios and the Catos have resolved that the books of
their law shall be for themselves alone; they are their sceptre, which
they have made it high treason in their subjects to touch without an
express permission. In other countries it has been forbidden to think in
print without letters-patent.

There are nations in which thought is considered merely as an article of
commerce, the operations of the human understanding being valued only at
so much per sheet. If the bookseller happens to desire a privilege for
his merchandise whether he is selling "Rabelais," or the "Fathers of the
Church," the magistrate grants the privilege without answering for the
contents of the book.

In another country the liberty of explaining yourself by books is one of
the most inviolable prerogatives. There you may print whatever you
please, on pain of being tiresome, and of being punished if you have too
much abused your natural right.

Before the admirable invention of printing, books were scarcer and
dearer than jewels. There were scarcely any books in our barbarous
nations, either before Charlemagne or after him, until the time of
Charles V., king of France, called the Wise, and from this time to
Francis I. the scarcity was extreme. The Arabs alone had them from the
eighth to the thirteenth century of our era. China was full of them when
we could neither read nor write.

Copyists were much employed in the Roman Empire from the time of the
Scipios until the irruption of the barbarians. This was a very
ungrateful employment. The dealers always paid authors and copyists very
ill. It required two years of assiduous labor for a copyist to
transcribe the whole Bible well on vellum, and what time and trouble to
copy correctly in Greek and Latin the works of Origen, Clement of
Alexandria and all the others writers called Fathers!

St. Hieronymos, or Hieronymus, whom we call Jerome, says, in one of his
satirical letters against Rufinus that he has ruined himself with buying
the works of Origen, against whom he wrote with so much bitterness and
violence. "Yes," says he, "I have read Origen, if it be a crime I
confess that I am guilty and that I exhausted my purse in buying his
works at Alexandria."

The Christian societies of the three first centuries had fifty-four
gospels, of which, until Diocletian's time scarcely two or three copies
found their way among the Romans of the old religion.

Among the Christians it was an unpardonable crime to show the gospels to
the Gentiles; they did not even lend them to the catechumens.

When Lucian (insulting our religion of which he knew very little)
relates that "a troop of beggars took him up into a fourth story where
they were invoking the Father through the Son, and foretelling
misfortunes to the emperor and the empire," he does not say that they
showed him a single book. No Roman historian, no Roman author whomsoever
makes mention of the gospels.

When a Christian, who was unfortunately rash and unworthy of his holy
religion had publicly torn in pieces and trampled under foot an edict of
the Emperor Diocletian, and had thus drawn down upon Christianity that
persecution which succeeded the greatest toleration, the Christians were
then obliged to give up their gospels and written authors to the
magistrates, which before then had never been done. Those who gave up
their books through fear of imprisonment, or even of death, were held by
the rest of the Christians to be sacrilegious apostates, they received
the surname of _traditores_, whence we have the word "traitor," and
several bishops asserted that they should be rebaptized, which
occasioned a dreadful schism.

The poems of Homer were long so little known that Pisistratus was the
first who put them in order and had them transcribed at Athens about
five hundred years before the Christian era.

Perhaps there was not at this time in all the East a dozen copies of the
Veda and the Zend-Avesta.

In 1700 you would not have found a single book in all Rome, excepting
the missals and a few Bibles in the hands of papas drunk with brandy.

The complaint now is of their too great abundance. But it is not for
readers to complain, the remedy is in their own hands; nothing forces
them to read. Nor for authors, they who make the multitude of books have
not to complain of being pressed. Notwithstanding this enormous quantity
how few people read! But if they read, and read with advantage, should
we have to witness the deplorable infatuations to which the vulgar are
still every day a prey?

The reason that books are multiplied in spite of the general law that
beings shall not be multiplied without necessity, is that books are made
from books. A new history of France or Spain is manufactured from
several volumes already printed, without adding anything new. All
dictionaries are made from dictionaries; almost all new geographical
books are made from other books of geography; St. Thomas's Dream has
brought forth two thousand large volumes of divinity, and the same race
of little worms that have devoured the parent are now gnawing the

     _Écrive qui voudra, chacun a son métier_
     _Peut perdre impunément de l'encre et du papier._

     Write, write away; each writer at his pleasure
     May squander ink and paper without measure.


It is sometimes very dangerous to make a book. Silhouète, before he
could suspect that he should one day be comptroller-general of the
finances, published a translation of Warburton's "Alliance of Church
and State," and his father-in-law, Astuce the physician, gave to the
public the "Memoirs," in which the author of the Pentateuch might have
found all the astonishing things which happened so long before his time.

The very day that Silhouète came into office, some good friend of his
sought out a copy of each of these books by the father-in-law and
son-in-law, in order to denounce them to the parliament and have them
condemned to the flames, according to custom. They immediately bought up
all the copies in the kingdom, whence it is that they are now extremely

There is hardly a single philosophical or theological book in which
heresies and impieties may not be found by misinterpreting, or adding
to, or subtracting from, the sense.

Theodore of Mopsuestes ventured to call the "Canticle of Canticles," "a
collection of impurities." Grotius pulls it in pieces and represents it
as horrid, and Chatillon speaks of it as "a scandalous production."

Perhaps it will hardly be believed that Dr. Tamponet one day said to
several others: "I would engage to find a multitude of heresies in the
Lord's Prayer if this prayer, which we know to have come from the Divine
mouth, were now for the first time published by a Jesuit."

I would proceed thus: "Our Father, who art in heaven--" a proposition
inclining to heresy, since God is everywhere. Nay, we find in this
expression the leaven of Socinianism, for here is nothing at all said of
the Trinity.

"Thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven--"
another proposition tainted with heresy, for it said again and again in
the Scriptures that God reigns eternally. Moreover it is very rash to
ask that His will may be done, since nothing is or can be done but by
the will of God.

"Give us this day our daily bread"--a proposition directly contrary to
what Jesus Christ uttered on another occasion: "Take no thought, saying
what shall we eat? or what shall we drink?... for after all these things
do the Gentiles seek.... But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His
righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you."

"And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors--" a rash
proposition, which compares man to God, destroys gratuitous
predestination, and teaches that God is bound to do to us as we do to
others. Besides, how can the author say that we forgive our debtors? We
have never forgiven them a single crown. No convent in Europe ever
remitted to its farmers the payment of a sou. To dare to say the
contrary is a formal heresy.

"Lead us not into temptation--" a proposition scandalous and manifestly
heretical, for there is no tempter but the devil, and it is expressly
said in St. James' Epistle: "God is no tempter of the wicked; He tempts
no man."--_"Deus enim intentator malorum est; ipse autem neminem

You see, then, said Doctor Tamponet, that there is nothing, though ever
so venerable, to which a bad sense may not be given. What book, then,
shall not be liable to human censure when even the Lord's Prayer may be
attacked, by giving a diabolical interpretation to all the divine words
that compose it?

As for me, I tremble at the thought of making a book. Thank God, I have
never published anything; I have not even--like brothers La Rue, Du
Ceveau, and Folard--had any of my theatrical pieces played, it would be
too dangerous.

If you publish, a parish curate accuses you of heresy; a stupid
collegian denounces you; a fellow that cannot read condemns you; the
public laugh at you; your bookseller abandons you, and your wine
merchant gives you no more credit. I always add to my paternoster,
"Deliver me, O God, from the itch of bookmaking."

O ye who, like myself, lay black on white and make clean paper dirty!
call to mind the following verses which I remember to have read, and by
which we should have been corrected:

     _Tout ce fatras fat du chauvre en son temps,_
     _Linge il devint par l'art des tisserands;_
     _Puis en lambeaux des pilons le pressèrent_
     _Il fut papier. Cent cerveaux à l'envers_
     _De visions à l'envi le chargèrent;_
     _Puis on le brûle; il vole dans les airs,_
     _Il est fumée aussi bien que la gloire._
     _De nos travaux voilà quelle est l'histoire,_
     _Tout est fumée, et tout nous fait sentir_
     _Ce grand néant qui doit nous engloutir._

     This miscellaneous rubbish once was flax,
     Till made soft linen by the honest weaver;
     But when at length it dropped from people's backs,
     'Twas turned to paper, and became receiver
     Of all that fifty motley brains could fashion;
     So now 'tis burned without the least compassion;
     It now, like glory, terminates in smoke;
     Thus all our toils are nothing but a joke--
     All ends in smoke; each nothing that we follow
     Tells of the nothing that must all things swallow.


Books are now multiplied to such a degree that it is impossible not only
to read them all but even to know their number and their titles.
Happily, one is not obliged to read all that is published, and
Caramuel's plan for writing a hundred folio volumes and employing the
spiritual and temporal power of princes to compel their subjects to read
them, has not been put in execution. Ringelburg, too, had formed the
design of composing about a thousand different volumes, but, even had he
lived long enough to publish them he would have fallen far short of
Hermes Trismegistus, who, according to Jamblicus, composed thirty-six
thousand five hundred and twenty-five books. Supposing the truth of this
fact, the ancients had no less reason than the moderns to complain of
the multitude of books.

It is, indeed, generally agreed that a small number of choice books is
sufficient. Some propose that we should confine ourselves to the Bible
or Holy Scriptures, as the Turks limit themselves to the Koran. But
there is a great difference between the feelings of reverence
entertained by the Mahometans for their Koran and those of the
Christians for the Scriptures. The veneration testified by the former
when speaking of the Koran cannot be exceeded. It is, say they, the
greatest of all miracles; nor are all the men in existence put together
capable of anything at all approaching it; it is still more wonderful
that the author had never studied, nor read any book. The Koran alone is
worth sixty thousand miracles (the number of its verses, or
thereabouts); one rising from the dead would not be a stronger proof of
the truth of a religion than the composition of the Koran. It is so
perfect that it ought not to be regarded as a work of creation.

The Christians do indeed say that their Scriptures were inspired by the
Holy Ghost, yet not only is it acknowledged by Cardinal Cajetan and
Bellarmine that errors have found their way into them through the
negligence and ignorance of the book-sellers and the rabbis, who added
the points, but they are considered as a book too dangerous for the
hands of the majority of the faithful. This is expressed by the fifth
rule of the Index, a congregation at Rome, whose office it is to examine
what books are to be forbidden. It is as follows:

"Since it is evident that if the reading of the Bible, translated into
the vulgar tongue, were permitted to every one indiscriminately the
temerity of mankind would cause more evil than good to arise
therefrom--we will that it be referred to the judgment of the bishop or
inquisitor, who, with the advice of the curate or confessor, shall have
power to grant permission to read the Bible rendered in the vulgar
tongue by Catholic writers, to those to whom they shall judge that such
reading will do no harm; they must have this permission in writing and
shall not be absolved until they have returned their Bible into the
hands of the ordinary. As for such book-sellers as shall sell Bibles in
the vulgar tongue to those who have not this written permission, or in
any other way put them into their hands, they shall lose the price of
the books (which the bishop shall employ for pious purposes), and shall
moreover be punished by arbitrary penalties. Nor shall regulars read or
buy these books without the permission of their superiors."

Cardinal Duperron also asserted that the Scriptures, in the hands of the
unlearned, were a two-edged knife which might wound them, to avoid which
it was better that they should hear them from the mouth of the Church,
with the solutions and interpretations of such passages as appear to the
senses to be full of absurdity and contradiction, than that they should
read them by themselves without any solution or interpretation. He
afterwards made a long enumeration of these absurdities in terms so
unqualified that Jurieu was not afraid to declare that he did not
remember to have read anything so frightful or so scandalous in any
Christian author.

Jurieu, who was so violent t in his invectives against Cardinal
Duperron, had himself to sustain similar reproaches from the Catholics.
"I heard that minister," says Pap, in speaking of him, "teaching the
public that all the characteristics of the Holy Scriptures on which
those pretended reformers had founded their persuasion of their
divinity, did not appear to him to be sufficient. 'Let it not be
inferred,' said Jurieu, 'that I wish to take from the light and strength
of the characteristics of Scripture, but I will venture to affirm that
there is not one of them which may not be eluded by the profane. There
is not one of them that amounts to a proof; not one to which something
may not be said in answer, and, considered altogether, although they
have greater power than separately to work a moral conviction--that is,
a proof on which to found a certainty excluding every doubt--I own that
nothing seems to me to be more opposed to reason than to say that these
characteristics are of themselves capable of producing such a

It is not then astonishing that the Jews and the first Christians, who,
we find in the Acts of the Apostles, confined themselves in their
meetings to the reading of the Bible, were, as will be seen in the
article "Heresy," divided into different sects. For this reading was
afterwards substituted that of various apocryphal works, or at least of
extracts from them. The author of the "Synopsis of Scripture," which we
find among the works of St. Athanasius, expressly avows that there are
in the apocryphal books things most true and inspired by God which have
been selected and extracted for the perusal of the faithful.


Our questions have but little to do with geography, but we shall,
perhaps, be permitted to express in a few words our astonishment
respecting the town of Bourges. The Trévoux Dictionary asserts that "it
is one of the most ancient in Europe; that it was the seat of empire of
the Gauls, and gave laws to the Celts."

I will not combat the antiquity of any town or of any family. But was
there ever an empire of Gaul? had the Celts kings? This rage for
antiquity is a malady which is not easily cured. In Gaul, in Germany,
and in the North there is nothing ancient but the soil, the trees, and
the animals. If you will have antiquities go to Asia, and even there
they are hardly to be found. Man is ancient, but monuments are new; this
has already been said in more articles than one.

If to be born within a certain stone or wooden limit more ancient than
another were a real good it would be no more than reasonable to date the
foundation of the town from the giants' war, but since this vanity is in
no wise advantageous let it be renounced. This is all I have to say
about Bourges.


Courteous reader, observe, in the first place, that Father Thomassin,
one of the most learned men of modern Europe, derives the Brachmans
from the Jewish word _barac_, by a _c_--supposing, of course, that the
Jews had a _c_. This _barac_, says he, signified _to fly_; and the
Brachmans fled from the towns--supposing that there were any towns.

Or, if you like it better, Brachmans comes from _barak_ by a _k_,
meaning to _bless_ or to _pray_. But why might not the Biscayans name
the Brahmins from the word _bran_? which expresses--I will not say what.
They had as good a right as the Hebrews. Really, this is a strange sort
of erudition. By rejecting it entirely, we should know less, but we
should know it better.

Is it not likely that the Brahmins were the first legislators, the first
philosophers, the first divines, of the earth? Do not the few remaining
monuments of ancient history form a great presumption in their favor?
since the first Greek philosophers went to them to learn mathematics;
and the most ancient curiosities, those collected by the emperors of
China, are all Indian, as is attested by the relations in Du Halde's

Of the Shastah, we shall speak elsewhere. It is the first theological
book of the Brahmins, written about fifteen hundred years before the
Vedah, and anterior to all other books.

Their annals make no mention of any war undertaken by them at any time.
The words "arms," "killing," "maiming," are to be found neither in the
fragments of the Shastah that have reached us, nor in the Yajurvedah,
nor in the Kormovedah. At least, I can affirm that I have not seen them
in either of these two latter collections; and it is most singular that
the Shastah, which speaks of a conspiracy in heaven, makes no mention of
any war in the great peninsula between the Indus and Ganges.

[Illustration: India was unknown until after Alexander's conquests.]

The Hebrews, who were unknown until so late a period, never name the
Brahmins; they knew nothing of India till after Alexander's conquests
and their own settling in that Egypt of which they had spoken so ill.
The name of India is to be found only in the book of Esther, and in that
of Job, who was not a Hebrew. We find a singular contrast between the
sacred books of the Hebrews and those of the Indians. The Indian books
announce only peace and mildness; they forbid the killing of animals:
but the Hebrew books speak of nothing but the slaughter and massacre of
men and beasts; all are butchered in the name of the Lord; it is quite
another order of things.

We are incontestably indebted to the Brahmins for the idea of the fall
of celestial beings revolting against the Sovereign of Nature; and it
was probably from them that the Greeks took the fable of the Titans; and
lastly, from them it was that the Jews, in the first century of our era,
took the idea of Lucifer's revolt.

How could these Indians suppose a rebellion in heaven without having
seen one on earth? Such a leap from the human to the divine nature is
difficult of comprehension. We usually step from what is known to what
is unknown.

A war of giants would not be imagined, until some men more robust than
the rest had been seen to tyrannize over their fellow-men. To imagine
the like in heaven, the Brahmins must either have experienced violent
discords among themselves, or at least have witnessed them among their

Be that as it may, it is an astonishing phenomenon that a society of men
who had never made war should have invented a sort of war carried on in
imaginary space, or in a globe distant from our own, or in what is
called the firmament--the empyrean. But let it be carefully observed,
that in this revolt of the celestial beings against their Sovereign,
there were no blows given, no celestial blood spilled, no mountains
thrown at one another's heads, no angels deft in twain, as in Milton's
sublime and grotesque poem.

According to the Shastah, it was only a formal disobedience of the
orders of the Most High, which God punished by relegating the rebellious
angels to a vast place of darkness called Onderah, for the term of a
whole mononthour. A mononthour is a hundred and twenty-six millions of
our years. But God vouchsafed to pardon the guilty at the end of five
thousand years, and their Onderah was nothing more than a purgatory.

He turned them into _Mhurd_, or men, and placed them on our globe, on
condition that they should not eat animals, nor cohabit with the males
of their new species, on pain of returning to the Onderah.

These are the principal articles of the Brahmin faith, which has endured
without intermission from time immemorial to the present day.

This is but a small part of the ancient cosmogony of the Brahmins. Their
rites, their pagods, prove that among them all was allegorical. They
still represent Virtue in the form of a woman with ten arms, combating
ten mortal sins typified by monsters. Our missionaries were acute enough
to take this image of Virtue for that of the devil, and affirm that the
devil is worshipped in India. We have never visited that people but to
enrich ourselves and calumniate them.

_The Metempsychosis of the Brahmins._

The doctrine of the metempsychosis comes from an ancient law of feeding
on cow's milk as well as on vegetables, fruits, and rice. It seemed
horrible to the Brahmins to kill and eat their feeder; and they had soon
the same respect for goats, sheep, and all other animals: they believed
them to be animated by the rebellious angels, who were completing their
purification in the bodies of beasts as well as in those of men. The
nature of the climate seconded, or rather originated this law. A burning
atmosphere creates a necessity for refreshing food, and inspires horror
for our custom of stowing carcasses in our stomachs.

The opinion that beasts have souls was general throughout the East, and
we find vestiges of it in the ancient sacred writings. In the book of
Genesis, God forbids men to eat "their flesh with their blood and their
soul." Such is the import of the Hebrew text. "I will avenge," says he,
"the blood of your souls on the claws of beasts and the hands of men."
In Leviticus he says, "The soul of the flesh is in the blood." He does
more; he makes a solemn compact with man and with all animals, which
supposes an intelligence in the latter.

In much later times, Ecclesiasticus formally says, "God shows that man
is like to the beasts; for men die like beasts; their condition is
equal; as man dies, so also dies the beast. They breathe alike. There is
nothing in man more than in the beast." Jonah, when he went to preach at
Nineveh, made both men and beasts fast.

All ancient authors, sacred books as well as profane, attribute
knowledge to the beasts; and several make them speak. It is not then to
be wondered at that the Brahmins, and after them the Pythagoreans,
believed that souls passed successively into the bodies of beasts and of
men; consequently they persuaded themselves, or at least they said, that
the souls of the guilty angels, in order to finish their purgation,
belonged sometimes to beasts, sometimes to men. This is a part of the
romance of the Jesuit Bougeant, who imagined that the devils are spirits
sent into the bodies of animals. Thus, in our day, and at the extremity
of the west, a Jesuit unconsciously revives an article of the faith of
the most ancient Oriental priests.

_The Self-burning of Men and Women among the Brahmins._

The Brahmins of the present day, who do all that the ancient Brahmins
did, have, we know, retained this horrible custom. Whence is it that,
among a people who have never shed the blood of men or of animals, the
finest act of devotion is a public self-burning? Superstition, the great
uniter of contraries, is the only source of these frightful sacrifices,
the custom of which is much more ancient than the laws of any known

The Brahmins assert that their great prophet Brahma, the son of God,
descended among men, and had seyeral wives; and that after his death,
the wife who loved him the most burned herself on his funeral pile, that
she might join him in heaven. Did this woman really burn herself, as it
is said that Portia, the wife of Brutus, swallowed burning coals, in
order to be reunited to her husband? or is this a fable invented by the
priests? Was there a Brahma, who really gave himself out as a prophet
and son of God? It is likely that there was a Brahma, as there
afterwards were a Zoroaster and a Bacchus. Fable seized upon their
history, as she has everywhere constantly done.

No sooner does the wife of the son of God burn herself, than ladies of
meaner condition must burn themselves likewise. But how are they to
find their husbands again, who are become horses, elephants, hawks,
etc.? How are they to distinguish the precise beast, which the defunct
animates? how recognize him and be still his wife? This difficulty does
not in the least embarrass the Hindoo theologians; they easily find a
_distinguo_--a solution _in sensu composito_--_in sensu diviso_. The
metempsychosis is only for common people; for other souls they have a
sublimer doctrine. These souls, being those of the once rebel angels, go
about purifying themselves; those of the women who immolate themselves
are beatified, and find their husbands ready-purified. In short, the
priests are right, and the women burn themselves.

This dreadful fanaticism has existed for more than four thousand years,
amongst a mild people, who would fear to kill a grasshopper. The priests
cannot force a widow to burn herself; for the invariable law is, that
the self-devotion must be absolutely voluntary. The longest married of
the wives of the deceased has the first refusal of the honor of mounting
the funeral-pile; if she is not inclined, the second presents herself;
and so of the rest. It is said, that on one occasion seventeen burned
themselves at once on the pile of a rajah: but these sacrifices are now
very rare; the faith has become weaker since the Mahometans have
governed a great part of the country, and the Europeans traded with the

Still, there is scarcely a governor of Madras or Pondicherry who has
not seen some Indian woman voluntarily perish in the flames. Mr. Holwell
relates that a young widow of nineteen, of singular beauty, and the
mother of three children, burned herself in the presence of Mrs.
Russell, wife of the admiral then in the Madras roads. She resisted the
tears and the prayers of all present; Mrs. Russell conjured her, in the
name of her children, not to leave them orphans. The Indian woman
answered, "God, who has given them birth, will take care of them." She
then arranged everything herself, set fire to the pile with her own
hand, and consummated her sacrifice with as much serenity as one of our
nuns lights the tapers.

Mr. Charnock, an English merchant, one day seeing one of these
astonishing victims, young and lovely, on her way to the funeral-pile,
dragged her away by force when she was about to set fire to it, and,
with the assistance of some of his countrymen, carried her of! and
married her. The people regarded this act as the most horrible

Why do husbands never burn themselves, that they may join their wives?
Why has a sex, naturally weak and timid, always had this frantic
resolution? Is it because tradition does not say that a man ever married
a daughter of Brahma, while it does affirm that an Indian woman was
married to a son of that divinity? Is it because women are more
superstitious than men? Or is it because their imaginations are weaker,
more tender, and more easily governed?

The ancient Brahmins sometimes burned themselves to prevent the pains
and the languor of old age; but, above all, to make themselves admired.
Calanus would not, perhaps, have placed himself on the pile, but for the
purpose of being gazed at by Alexander. The Christian renegade
Peregrinus burned himself in public, for the same reason that a madman
goes about the streets dressed like an Armenian, to attract the notice
of the populace.

Is there not also an unfortunate mixture of vanity in this terrible
sacrifice of the Indian women? Perhaps, if a law were passed that the
burning should take place in the presence of one waiting woman only,
this abominable custom would be forever destroyed.

One word more: A few hundreds of Indian women, at most, have furnished
this horrid spectacle; but our inquisitions, our atrocious madmen
calling themselves judges, have put to death in the flames more than a
hundred thousand of our brethren--men, women, and children--for things
which no one has understood. Let us pity and condemn the Brahmins; but
let us not forget our miserable selves!

Truly, we have forgotten one very essential point in this short article
on the Brahmins, which is, that their sacred books are full of
contradictions; but the people know nothing of them, and the doctors
have solutions ready--senses figured and figurative, allegories, types,
express declarations of Birma, Brahma, and Vishnu, sufficient to shut
the mouth of any reasoner.


The bread-tree grows in the Philippine islands, and principally in those
of Guam and Tinian, as the cocoa-tree grows in the Indies. These two
trees, alone, if they could be multiplied in our climate, would furnish
food and drink sufficient for all mankind.

The bread-tree is taller and more bulky than our common apple-trees; its
leaves are black, its fruit is yellow, and equal in dimensions to the
largest apple. The rind is hard; and the cuticle is a sort of soft,
white paste, which has the taste of the best French rolls; but it must
be eaten fresh, as it keeps only twenty-four hours, after which it
becomes dry, sour and disagreeable; but, as a compensation, the trees
are loaded with them eight months of the year. The natives of the
islands have no other food; they are all tall, stout, well made,
sufficiently fleshy, and in the vigorous health which is necessarily
produced by the use of one wholesome aliment alone: and it is to negroes
that nature has made this present.

Corn is assuredly not the food of the greater part of the world. Maize
and cassava are the food of all America. We have whole provinces in
which the peasants eat none but chestnut bread, which is more nourishing
and of better flavor than the rye or barley bread on which so many feed,
and is much better than the rations given to the soldiers. Bread is
unknown in all southern Africa. The immense Indian Archipelago, Siam,
Laos, Pegu, Cochin-China, Tonquin, part of China, the Malabar and
Coromandel coasts, and the banks of the Ganges, produce rice, which is
easier of cultivation, and for which wheat is neglected. Corn is
absolutely unknown for the space of five hundred leagues on the coast of
the Icy Sea.

The missionaries have sometimes been in great tribulation, in countries
where neither bread nor wine is to be found. The inhabitants told them
by interpreters: "You would baptize us with a few drops of water, in a
burning climate, where we are obliged to plunge every day into the
rivers; you would confess us, yet you understand not our language; you
would have us communicate, yet you want the two necessary ingredients,
bread and wine. It is therefore evident that your universal religion
cannot have been made for us." The missionaries replied, very justly,
that good will is the one thing needful; that they should be plunged
into the water without any scruple; that bread and wine should be
brought from Goa; and that, as for the language, the missionaries would
learn it in a few years.


He was a very subtle schoolman, who first said that we owe the origin of
the word "buffoon" to a little Athenian sacrificer called _Bupho_, who,
being tired of his employment, absconded, and never returned. The
Areopagus, as they could not punish the priest, proceeded against his
hatchet. This farce, which was played every year in the temple of
Jupiter, is said to have been called _"buffoonery."_ This story is not
entitled to much credit Buffoon was not a proper name; _bouphonos_
signifies an immolator of oxen. The Greeks never called any jest
_bouphonia_. This ceremony, frivolous as it appears, might have an
origin wise and humane, worthy of true Athenians.

Once a year, the subaltern sacrificer, or more properly the holy
butcher, when on the point of immolating an ox, fled as if struck with
horror, to put men in mind that in wiser and happier times only flowers
and fruits were offered to the gods, and that the barbarity of
immolating innocent and useful animals was not introduced until there
were priests desirous of fattening on their blood and living at the
expense of the people. In this idea there is no buffoonery.

This word "buffoon" has long been received among the Italians and the
Spaniards, signifying _mimus, scurra, joculator_--a mimic, a jester, a
player of tricks. Ménage, after Salmasius, derives it from _bocca
infiata_--a bloated face; and it is true that a round face and swollen
cheeks are requisite in a buffoon. The Italians say _bufo magro_--a
meagre buffoon, to express a poor jester who cannot make you laugh.

Buffoon and buffoonery appertain to low comedy, to mountebanking, to all
that can amuse the populace. In this it was--to the shame of the human
mind be it spoken--that tragedy had its beginning: Thespis was a
buffoon before Sophocles was a great man.

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Spanish and English
tragedies were all degraded by disgusting buffooneries. The courts were
still more disgraced by buffoons than the stage. So strong was the rust
of barbarism, that men had no taste for more refined pleasures. Boileau
says of Molière:

      _C'est par-là que Molière, illustrant ses écrits,_
      _Peut-être de son art eût emporté le prix,_
      _Si, moins ami du peuple en ses doctes peintures,_
      _Il n'eût fait quelquefois, grimacer ses figures,_
      _Quitté pour le bouffon l'agréable et fin,_
      _Et sans honte à Terence allié Tabarin._
      _Dans ce sac ridicule où Scapin s'enveloppe,_
      _Je ne reconnais plus l'auteur du Misanthrope._

      Molière in comic genius had excelled,
      And might, perhaps, have stood unparalleled,
      Had he his faithful portraits ne'er allowed
      To gape and grin to gratify the crowd;
      Deserting wit for low grimace and jest,
      And showing Terence in a motley vest.
      Who in the sack, where Scapin plays the fool,
      Will find the genius of the comic school?

But it must be considered that Raphael condescended to paint grotesque
figures. Molière would not have descended so low, if all his spectators
had been such men as Louis XIV., Condé, Turenne, La Rochefoucauld,
Montausier, Beauvilliers, and such women as Montespan and Thianges; but
he had also to please the whole people of Paris, who were yet quite
unpolished. The citizen liked broad farce, and he paid for it. Scarron's
"Jodelets" were all the rage. We are obliged to place ourselves on the
level of our age, before we can rise above it; and, after all, we like
to laugh now and then. What is Homer's "Battle of the Frogs and Mice,"
but a piece of buffoonery--a burlesque poem?

Works of this kind give no reputation, but they may take from that which
we already enjoy.

Buffoonery is not always in the burlesque style, "The Physician in Spite
of Himself," and the "Rogueries of Scapin," are not in the style of
Scarron's "Jodelets." Molière does not, like Scarron, go in search of
slang terms; his lowest characters do not play the mountebank.
Buffoonery is in the thing, not in the expression.

Boileau's "Lutrin" was at first called a burlesque poem, but it was the
subject that was burlesque; the style was pleasing and refined, and
sometimes even heroic.

The Italians had another kind of burlesque, much superior to ours--that
of Aretin, of Archbishop La Caza, of Berni, Mauro, and Dolce. It often
sacrifices decorum to pleasantry, but obscene words are wholly banished
from it. The subject of Archbishop La Caza's _"Capitolo del Forno"_ is,
indeed, that which sends the Desfontaines to the Bicêtre, and the
Deschaufours to the Place de Grève: but there is not one word offensive
to the ear of chastity; you have to divine the meaning.

Three or four Englishmen have excelled in this way: Butler, in his
"Hudibras," which was the civil war excited by the Puritans turned into
ridicule; Dr. Garth, in his "Dispensary"; Prior, in his "Alma," in
which he very pleasantly makes a jest of his subject and Phillips, in
his "Splendid Shilling."

Butler is as much above Scarron as a man accustomed to good company is
above a singer at a pot-house. The hero of "Hudibras" was a real
personage, one Sir Samuel Luke, who had been a captain in the armies of
Fairfax and Cromwell. See the commencement of the poem, in the article
"Prior," "Butler," and "Swift."

Garth's poem on the physicians and apothecaries is not so much in the
burlesque style as Boileau's "Lutrin": it has more imagination, variety,
and naivete than the "Lutrin"; and, which is rather astonishing, it
displays profound erudition, embellished with all the graces of
refinement. It begins thus:

     Speak, Goddess, since 'tis thou that best canst tell
     How ancient leagues to modern discord fell;
     And why physicians were so cautious grown
     Of others' lives, and lavish of their own.

Prior, whom we have seen a plenipotentiary in France before the Peace of
Utrecht, assumed the office of mediator between the philosophers who
dispute about the soul. This poem is in the style of "Hudibras," called
doggerel rhyme, which is the _stilo Berniesco_ of the Italians.

The great first question is, whether the soul is all in all, or is
lodged behind the nose and eyes in a corner which it never quits.
According to the latter system, Prior compares it to the pope, who
constantly remains at Rome, whence he sends his nuncios and spies to
learn all that is doing in Christendom.

Prior, after making a jest of several systems, proposes his own. He
remarks that the two-legged animal, new-born, throws its feet about as
much as possible, when its nurse is so stupid as to swaddle it: thence
he judges that the soul enters it by the feet; that about fifteen it
reaches the middle; then it ascends to the heart; then to the head,
which it quits altogether when the animal ceases to live.

At the end of this singular poem, full of ingenious versification, and
of ideas alike subtle and pleasing, we find this charming line of
Fontenelle: _"Il est des hochets pour tout âge."_ Prior begs of fortune
to "Give us play-things for old age."

Yet it is quite certain that Fontenelle did not take this line from
Prior, nor Prior from Fontenelle. Prior's work is twenty years anterior,
and Fontenelle did not understand English. The poem terminates with this

     For Plato's fancies what care I?
     I hope you would not have me die
     Like simple Cato in the play,
     For anything that he can say:
     E'en let him of ideas speak
     To heathens, in his native Greek.
     If to be sad is to be wise,
     I do most heartily despise
     Whatever Socrates has said,
     Or Tully writ, or Wanley read.
     Dear Drift, to set our matters right,
     Remove these papers from my sight;
     Burn Mat's Descartes and Aristotle--
     Here, Jonathan,--your master's bottle.

In all these poems, let us distinguish the pleasant, the lively, the
natural, the familiar--from the grotesque, the farcical, the low, and,
above all, the stiff and forced. These various shades are discriminated
by the connoisseurs, who alone, in the end, decide the fate of every

La Fontaine would sometimes descend to the burlesque style--Phædrus
never; but the latter has not the grace and unaffected softness of La
Fontaine, though he has greater precision and purity.


These people were originally Huns, who settled near the Volga; and
Volgarians was easily changed into Bulgarians.

About the end of the seventh century, they, like all the other nations
inhabiting Sarmatia, made irruptions towards the Danube, and inundated
the Roman Empire. They passed through Moldavia and Wallachia, whither
their old fellow-countrymen, the Russians, carried their victorious arms
in 1769, under the Empress Catherine II.

Having crossed the Danube, they settled in part of Dacia and Moesia,
giving their name to the countries which are still called Bulgaria.
Their dominion extended to Mount Hæmus and the Euxine Sea.

In Charlemagne's time, the Emperor Nicephorus, successor to Irene, was
so imprudent as to march against them after being vanquished by the
Saracens; and he was in like manner defeated by the Bulgarians. Their
king, named Krom, cut off his head, and made use of his skull as a
drinking-cup at his table, according to the custom of that people in
common with all the northern nations.

It is related that, in the ninth century, one Bogoris, who was making
war upon the Princess Theodora, mother and guardian to the Emperor
Michael, was so charmed with that empress's noble answer to his
declaration of war, that he turned Christian.

The Bulgarians, who were less complaisant, revolted against him; but
Bogoris, having shown them a crucifix, they all immediately received
baptism. So say the Greek writers of the lower empire, and so say our
compilers after them: _"Et voilà justement comme on écrit l'histoire."_

Theodora, say they, was a very religious princess, even passing her
latter years in a convent. Such was her love for the Greek Catholic
religion that she put to death in various ways a hundred thousand men
accused of Manichæism--"this being," says the modest continuator of
Echard, "the most impious, the most detestable, the most dangerous, the
most abominable of all heresies, for ecclesiastical censures were
weapons of no avail against men who acknowledged not the church."

It is said that the Bulgarians, seeing that all the Manichæans suffered
death, immediately conceived an inclination for their religion, and
thought it the best, since it was the most persecuted one: but this, for
Bulgarians, would be extraordinarily acute.

At that time, the great schism broke out more violently than ever
between the Greek church, under the Patriarch Photius, and the Latin
church, under Pope Nicholas I. The Bulgarians took part with the Greek
church; and from that time, probably, it was that they were treated in
the west as heretics, with the addition of that fine epithet, which has
clung to them to the present day.

In 871, the Emperor Basil sent them a preacher, named Peter of Sicily,
to save them from the heresy of Manichæism; and it is added, that they
no sooner heard him than they turned Manichæans. It is not very
surprising that the Bulgarians, who drank out of the skulls of their
enemies, were not extraordinary theologians any more than Peter of

It is singular that these barbarians, who could neither write nor read,
should have been regarded as very knowing heretics, with whom it was
dangerous to dispute. They certainly had other things to think of than
controversy, since they carried on a sanguinary war against the emperors
of Constantinople for four successive centuries, and even besieged the
capital of the empire.

At the commencement of the thirteenth century, the Emperor Alexis,
wishing to make himself recognized by the Bulgarians, their king,
Joannic, replied, that he would never be his vassal. Pope Innocent III.
was careful to seize this opportunity of attaching the kingdom of
Bulgaria to himself: he sent a legate to Joannic, to anoint him king;
and pretended that he had conferred the kingdom upon him, and that he
could never more hold it but from the holy see.

This was the most violent period of the crusades. The indignant
Bulgarians entered into an alliance with the Turks, declared war against
the pope and his crusaders, took the pretended Emperor Baldwin prisoner,
had his head cut off, and made a bowl of his skull, after the manner of
Krom. This was quite enough to make the Bulgarians abhorred by all
Europe. It was no longer necessary to call them Manichæans, a name which
was at that time given to every class of heretics: for Manichæan,
Patarin, and Vaudois were the same thing. These terms were lavished upon
whosoever would not submit to the Roman church.


A quadruped, armed with horns, having cloven feet, strong legs, a slow
pace, a thick body, a hard skin, a tail not quite so long as that of the
horse, with some long hairs at the end. Its blood has been looked upon
as a poison, but it is no more so than that of other animals; and the
ancients, who wrote that Themistocles and others poisoned themselves
with bull's blood, were false both to nature and to history. Lucian, who
reproaches Jupiter with having placed the bull's horns above his eyes,
reproaches him unjustly; for the eye of a bull being large, round, and
open, he sees very well where he strikes; and if his eyes had been
placed higher than his horns, he could not have seen the grass which he

Phalaris's bull, or the Brazen Bull, was a bull of cast metal, found in
Sicily, and supposed to have been used by Phalaris to enclose and burn
such as he chose to punish--a very unlikely species of cruelty. The
bulls of Medea guarded the Golden Fleece. The bull of Marathon was tamed
by Hercules.

Then there were the bull which carried off Europa, the bull of Mithras,
and the bull of Osiris; there are the Bull, a sign of the zodiac, and
the Bull's Eye, a star of the first magnitude, and lastly, there are
bull-fights, common in Spain.


This word designates the bull, or seal of gold, silver, wax, or lead,
attached to any instrument or charter. The lead hanging to the rescripts
despatched in the Roman court bears on one side the head of St. Peter on
the right, and that of St. Paul on the left; and, on the reverse, the
name of the reigning pope, with the year of his pontificate. The bull is
written on parchment. In the greeting, the pope takes no title but that
of "Servant of the Servants of God," according to the holy words of
Jesus to His Disciples--"Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be
your servant."

Some heretics assert that, by this formula, humble in appearance, the
popes mean to express a sort of feudal system, of which God is chief;
whose high vassals, Peter and Paul, are represented by their servant
the pontiff; while the lesser vassals are all secular princes, whether
emperors, kings, or dukes.

They doubtless found this assertion on the famous bull _In cœna
Domini,_ which is publicly read at Rome by a cardinal-deacon every year,
on Holy Thursday, in the presence of the pope, attended by the rest of
the cardinals and bishops. After the ceremony, his holiness casts a
lighted torch into the public square in token of anathema.

This bull is, to be found in Tome i., p. 714 of the _Bullaire_,
published at Lyons in 1673, and at page 118 of the edition of 1727. The
oldest is dated 1536. Paul III., without noticing the origin of the
ceremony, here says that it is an ancient custom of the sovereign
pontiffs to publish this excommunication on Holy Thursday, in order to
preserve the purity of the Christian religion, and maintain union among
the faithful. It contains twenty-four paragraphs, in which the pope

1. Heretics, all who favor them, and all who read their books.

2. Pirates, especially such as dare to cruise on the seas belonging to
the sovereign pontiff.

3. Those who impose fresh tolls on their lands.

10. Those who, in any way whatsoever, prevent the execution of the
apostolical letters, whether they grant pardons or inflict penalties.

11. All lay judges who judge ecclesiastics, and bring them before their
tribunal, whether that tribunal is called an audience, a chancery, a
council, or a parliament.

12. All chancellors, counsellors, ordinary or extraordinary, of any king
or prince whatsoever, all presidents of chanceries, councils, or
parliaments, as also all attorneys-general, who call ecclesiastical
causes before them, or prevent the execution of the apostolical letters,
even though it be on pretext of preventing some violence.

In the same paragraph, the pope reserves to himself alone the power of
absolving the said chancellors, counsellors, attorneys-general, and the
rest of the excommunicated; who cannot receive absolution until they
have publicly revoked their acts, and have erased them from the records.

20. Lastly, the pope excommunicates all such as shall presume to give
absolution to the excommunicated as aforesaid: and, in order that no one
may plead ignorance, he orders:

21. That this bull be published, and posted on the gate of the basilic
of the Prince of the Apostles, and on that of St. John of Lateran.

22. That all patriarchs, primates, archbishops, and bishops, by virtue
of their holy obedience, shall have this bull solemnly published at
least once a year.

24. He declares that whosoever dares to go against the provisions of
this bull, must know that he is incurring the displeasure of Almighty
God and of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul.

The other subsequent bulls, called also _In cœna Domini_, are only
duplicates of the first. For instance, the article 21 of that of Pius
V., dated 1567, adds to the paragraph 3 of the one that we have quoted,
that all princes who lay new impositions on their states, of what nature
soever, or increase the old ones, without obtaining permission from the
Holy See, are excommunicated _ipso facto_. The third bull _In cœna
Domini_ of 1610, contains thirty paragraphs, in which Paul V. renews the
provisions of the two preceding.

The fourth and last bull _In cœna Domini_ which we find in the
_Bullaire_, is dated April 1, 1672. In it Urban VIII. announces that,
after the example of his predecessors, in order inviolably to maintain
the integrity of the faith, and public justice and tranquillity, he
wields the spiritual sword of ecclesiastical discipline to
excommunicate, on the day which is the anniversary of the Supper of our

1. Heretics.

2. Such as appeal from the pope to a future council; and the rest as in
the three former.

It is said that the one which is read now, is of a more recent date, and
contains some additions.

The History of Naples, by Giannone, shows us what disorders the
ecclesiastics stirred up in that kingdom, and what vexations they
exercised against the king's subjects, even refusing them absolution and
the sacraments, in order to effect the reception of this bull, which has
at last been solemnly proscribed there, as well as in Austrian
Lombardy, in the states of the empress-queen, in those of the Duke of
Parma, and elsewhere.

In 1580, the French clergy chose the time between the sessions of the
parliament of Paris, to have the same bull _In cœna Domini_
published. But it was opposed by the procureur-general; and the _Chambre
des Vacations_, under the presidency of the celebrated and unfortunate
Brisson, on October 4, passed a decree, enjoining all governors to
inform themselves, if possible, what archbishops, bishops, or
grand-vicars, had received either this bull or a copy of it entitled
_Litteræ processus_, and who had sent it to them to be published; to
prevent the publication, if it had not yet taken place; to obtain the
copies and send them to the chamber; or, if they had been published, to
summon the archbishops, the bishops, or their grand-vicars, to appear on
a certain day before the chamber, to answer to the suit of the
procureur-general; and, in the meantime, to seize their temporal
possessions and place them in the hands of the king; to forbid all
persons obstructing the execution of this decree, on pain of punishment
as traitors and enemies to the state; with orders that the decree be
printed and that the copies, collated by notaries, have the full force
of the original.

In doing this, the parliament did but feebly imitate Philip the Fair.
The bull _Ausculta Fili_, of Dec. 5, 1301, was addressed to him by
Boniface VIII., who, after exhorting the king to listen with docility,
says to him: "God has established us over all kings and all kingdoms, to
root up, and destroy, and throw down, to build, and to plant, in His
name and by His doctrine. Do not, then, suffer yourself to be persuaded
that you have no superior, and that you are not subject to the head of
the ecclesiastical hierarchy. Whosoever thinks this, is a madman; and
whosoever obstinately maintains it, is an infidel, separated from the
flock of the Good Shepherd." The pope then enters into long details
respecting the government of France, even reproaching the king for
having altered the coin.

Philip the Fair had this bull burned at Paris, and its execution
published on sound of trumpet throughout the city, by Sunday, Feb. 11,
1302. The pope, in a council which he held at Rome the same year, made a
great noise, and broke out into threats against Philip the Fair; but he
did no more than threaten. The famous decretal, _Unam Sanctam_ is,
however, considered as the work of his council; it is, in substance, as

"We believe and confess a holy, catholic, and apostolic church, out of
which there is no salvation; we also acknowledge its unity, that it is
one only body, with one only head, and not with two, like a monster.
This only head is Jesus Christ, and St. Peter his vicar, and the
successor of St. Peter. Therefore, the Greeks, or others, who say that
they are not subject to that successor, must acknowledge that they are
not of the flock of Christ, since He himself has said (John, x, 16)
'that there is but one fold and one shepherd.'

"We learn that in this church, and under its power, are two swords, the
spiritual and the temporal: of these, one is to be used by the church
and by the hand of the pontiff; the other, by the church and by the hand
of kings and warriors, in pursuance of the orders or with the permission
of the pontiff. Now, one of these swords must be subject to the other,
temporal to spiritual power; otherwise, they would not be ordinate, and
the apostles say they must be so. (Rom. xiii, 1.) According to the
testimony of truth, spiritual power must institute and judge temporal
power; and thus is verified with regard to the church, the prophecy of
Jeremiah (i. 10): 'I have this day set thee over the nations and over
the kingdoms.'"

On the other hand, Philip the Fair assembled the states-general; and the
commons, in the petition which they presented to that monarch, said, in
so many words: "It is a great abomination for us to hear that this
Boniface stoutly interprets like a _Boulgare_ (dropping the _l_ and the
_a_) these words of spirituality (Matt., xvi. 19): 'Whatever thou shalt
bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven;' if this signified that if a
man be put into a temporal prison, God will imprison him in heaven."

Clement V., successor to Boniface VIII., revoked and annulled the odious
decision of the bull _Unam Sanctam_, which extends the power of the
popes to the temporalities of kings, and condemns as heretics all who do
not acknowledge this chimerical power. Boniface's pretension, indeed,
ought to be condemned as heresy, according to this maxim of theologians:
"Not only is it a sin against the rules of the faith, and a heresy, to
deny what the faith teaches us, but also to set up as part of the faith
that which is no part of it." (Joan. Maj. m. 3 sent. dist. 37. q. 26.)

Other popes, before Boniface VIII., had arrogated to themselves the
right of property over different kingdoms. The bull is well known, in
which Gregory VII. says to the King of Spain: "I would have you to know,
that the kingdom of Spain, by ancient ecclesiastical ordinances, was
given in property to St. Peter and the holy Roman church."

Henry II. of England asked permission of Pope Adrian IV. to invade
Ireland. The pontiff gave him leave, on condition that he imposed on
every Irish family a tax of one _carolus_ for the Holy See, and held
that kingdom as a fief of the Roman church. "For," wrote Adrian, "it
cannot be doubted that every island upon which Jesus Christ, the sun of
justice, has arisen, and which has received the lessons of the Christian
faith, belongs of right to St. Peter and to the holy and sacred Roman

_Bulls of the Crusade and of Composition._

If an African or an Asiatic of sense were told that in that part of
Europe where some men have forbidden others to eat flesh on Saturdays,
the pope gives them leave to eat it, by a bull, for the sum of two
rials, and that another bull grants permission to keep stolen money,
what would this African or Asiatic say? He would, at least, agree with
us, that every country has its customs; and that in this world, by
whatever names things may be called, or however they may be disguised,
all is done for money.

There are two bulls under the name of _La Cruzada_--the Crusade; one of
the time of Ferdinand and Isabella, the other of that of Philip V. The
first of these sells permission to eat what is called the _grossura_,
viz., tripes, livers, kidneys, gizzards, sweet-breads, lights, plucks,
cauls, heads, necks, and feet.

The second bull, granted by Pope Urban VIII., gives leave to eat meat
throughout Lent, and absolves from every crime except heresy.

Not only are these bulls sold, but people are ordered to buy them; and,
as is but right, they cost more in Peru and Mexico than in Spain; they
are there sold for a piastre. It is reasonable that the countries which
produce gold and silver should pay more than others.

The pretext for these bulls is, making war upon the Moors. There are
persons, difficult of conviction, who cannot see what livers and kidneys
have to do with a war against the Africans; and they add, that Jesus
Christ never ordered war to be made on the Mahometans on pain of

The bull giving permission to keep another's goods is galled the bull of
_Composition_. It is farmed; and has long brought considerable sums
throughout Spain, the Milanese, Naples, and Sicily. The highest bidders
employ the most eloquent of the monks to preach this bull. Sinners who
have robbed the king, the state, or private individuals, go to these
preachers, confess to them, and show them what a sad thing it would be
to make restitution of the whole. They offer the monks five, six, and
sometimes seven per cent., in order to keep the rest with a safe
conscience; and, as soon as the composition is made, they receive

The preaching brother who wrote the "Travels through Spain and Italy"
(_Voyage d'Espagne et d'Italie_), published at Paris, _avec privilège_
by Jean-Baptiste de l'Épime, speaking of this bull, thus expresses
himself: "Is it not very gracious to come off at so little cost, and be
at liberty to steal more, when one has occasion for a larger sum?"

_Bull Unigenitus._

The bull _In cœna Domini_ was an indignity offered to all Catholic
sovereigns, and they at length proscribed it in their states; but the
bull _Unigenitus_ was a trouble to France alone. The former attacked the
rights of the princes and magistrates of Europe, and they maintained
those rights; the latter proscribed only some maxims of piety and
morals, which gave no concern to any except the parties interested in
the transient affair; but these interested parties soon filled all
France. It was at first a quarrel between the all-powerful Jesuits and
the remains of the crushed Port-Royal.

Quesnel, a preacher of the Oratory, refugee in Holland, had dedicated a
commentary on the New Testament to Cardinal de Noailles, then bishop of
Châlons-sur-Marne. It met the bishop's approbation and was well received
by all readers of that sort of books.

One Letellier, a Jesuit, a confessor to Louis XIV. and an enemy to
Cardinal de Noailles, resolved to mortify him by having the book, which
was dedicated to him, and of which he had a very high opinion, condemned
at Rome.

This Jesuit, the son of an attorney at Vire in Lower Normandy, had all
that fertility of expedient for which his father's profession is
remarkable. Not content with embroiling Cardinal de Noailles with the
pope, he determined to have him disgraced by the king his master. To
ensure the success of this design, he had mandaments composed against
him by his emissaries, and got them signed by four bishops; he also
indited letters to the king, which he made them sign.

These manœuvres, which would have been punished in any of the
tribunals, succeeded at court: the king was soured against the
cardinal, and Madame de Maintenon abandoned him.

Here was a series of intrigues, in which, from one end of the kingdom to
the other, every one took a part. The more unfortunate France at that
time became in a disastrous war, the more the public mind was heated by
a theological quarrel.

During these movements, Letellier had the condemnation of Quesnel's
book, of which the monarch had never read a page, demanded from Rome by
Louis XIV. himself. Letellier and two other Jesuits, named Doucin and
Lallemant, extracted one hundred and three propositions, which Pope
Clement XI. was to condemn. The court of Rome struck out two of them,
that it might, at least, have the honor of appearing to judge for

Cardinal Fabroni, in whose hands the affair was placed, and who was
devoted to the Jesuits, had the bull drawn up by a Cordelier named
Father Palerno, Elio a Capuchin, Terrovi a Barnabite, and Castelli a
Servite, to whom was added a Jesuit named Alfaro.

Clement XI. let them proceed in their own way. His only object was to
please the king of France, who had long been displeased with him, on
account of his recognizing the Archduke Charles, afterwards emperor, as
King of Spain. To make his peace with the king, it cost him only a piece
of parchment sealed with lead, concerning a question which he himself

Clement XI. did not wait to be solicited; he sent the bull, and was
quite astonished to learn that it was received throughout France with
hisses and groans. "What!" said he to Cardinal Carpegno, "a bull is
earnestly asked of me; I give it freely, and every one makes a jest of

Every one was indeed surprised to see a pope, in the name of Jesus
Christ, condemning as heretical, tainted with heresy, and offensive to
pious ears, this proposition: "It is good to read books of piety on
Sundays, especially the Holy Scriptures;" and this: "The fear of an
unjust excommunication should not prevent us from doing our duty."

The partisans of the Jesuits were themselves alarmed at these censures,
but they dared not speak. The wise and disinterested exclaimed against
the scandal, and the rest of the nation against the absurdity.

Nevertheless, Letellier still triumphed, until the death of Louis XIV.;
he was held in abhorrence, but he governed. This wretch tried every
means to procure the suspension of Cardinal de Noailles; but after the
death of his penitent, the incendiary was banished. The duke of Orleans,
during his regency, extinguished these quarrels by making a jest of
them. They have since thrown out a few sparks; but they are at last
forgotten, probably forever. Their duration, for more than half a
century, was quite long enough. Yet, happy indeed would mankind be, if
they were divided only by foolish questions unproductive of bloodshed!


It is not as the husband of so many women and the wife of so many men;
as the conqueror of Pompey and the Scipios; as the satirist who turned
Cato into ridicule; as the robber of the public treasury, who employed
the money of the Romans to reduce the Romans to subjection; as he who,
clement in his triumphs, pardoned the vanquished; as the man of
learning, who reformed the calendar; as the tyrant and the father of his
country, assassinated by his friends and his bastard son; that I shall
here speak of Cæsar. I shall consider this extraordinary man only in my
quality of descendant from the poor barbarians whom he subjugated.

You will not pass through a town in France, in Spain, on the banks of
the Rhine, or on the English coast opposite to Calais, in which you will
not find good people who boast of having had Cæsar there. Some of the
townspeople of Dover are persuaded that Cæsar built their castle; and
there are citizens of Paris who believe that the great _châtelet_ is one
of his fine works. Many a country squire in France shows you an old
turret which serves him for a dove-cote, and tells you that Cæsar
provided a lodging for his pigeons. Each province disputes with its
neighbor the honor of having been the first to which Cæsar applied the
lash; it was not by that road, but by this, that he came to cut our
throats, embrace our wives and daughters, impose laws upon us by
interpreters, and take from us what little money we had.

The Indians are wiser. We have already seen that they have a confused
knowledge that a great robber, named Alexander, came among them with
other robbers; but they scarcely ever speak of him.

An Italian antiquarian, passing a few years ago through Vannes in
Brittany, was quite astonished to hear the learned men of Vannes boast
of Cæsar's stay in their town. "No doubt," said he, "you have monuments
of that great man?" "Yes," answered the most notable among them, "we
will show you the place where that hero had the whole senate of our
province hanged, to the number of six hundred."

"Some ignorant fellows, who had found a hundred beams under ground,
advanced in the journals in 1755 that they were the remains of a bridge
built by Cæsar; but I proved to them in my dissertation of 1756 that
they were the gallows on which that hero had our parliament tied up.
What other town in Gaul can say as much? We have the testimony of the
great Cæsar himself. He says in his Commentaries' that we 'are fickle
and prefer liberty to slavery.' He charges us with having been so
insolent as to take hostages of the Romans, to whom we had given
hostages, and to be unwilling to return them unless our own were given
up. He taught us good behavior."

"He did well," replied the virtuoso, "his right was incontestable. It
was, however, disputed, for you know that when he vanquished the
emigrant Swiss, to the number of three hundred and sixty-eight thousand,
and there were not more than a hundred and ten thousand left, he had a
conference in Alsace with a German king named Ariovistus, and Ariovistus
said to him: 'I come to plunder Gaul, and I will not suffer any one to
plunder it but myself;' after which these good Germans, who were come to
lay waste the country, put into the hands of their witches two Roman
knights, ambassadors from Cæsar; and these witches were on the point of
burning them and offering them to their gods, when Cæsar came and
delivered them by a victory. We must confess that the right on both
sides was equal, and that Tacitus had good reason for bestowing so many
praises on the manners of the ancient Germans."

This conversation gave rise to a very warm dispute between the learned
men of Vannes and the antiquarian. Several of the Bretons could not
conceive what was the virtue of the Romans in deceiving one after
another all the nations of Gaul, in making them by turns the instruments
of their own ruin, in butchering one-fourth of the people, and reducing
the other three-fourths to slavery.

"Oh! nothing can be finer," returned the antiquarian. "I have in my
pocket a medal representing Cæsar's triumph at the Capitol; it is in the
best preservation." He showed the medal. A Breton, a tittle rude, took
it and threw it into the river, exclaiming: "Oh! that I could so serve
all who use their power and their skill to oppress their fellow-men!
Rome deceived us, disunited us, butchered us, chained us; and at this
day Rome still disposes of many of our benefices; and is it possible
that we have so long and in so many ways been a country of slaves?"

To the conversation between the Italian antiquarian and the Breton I
shall only add that Perrot d'Ablancourt, the translator of Cæsar's
"Commentaries," in his dedication to the great Condé, makes use of these
words: "Does it not seem to you, sir, as if you were reading the life of
some Christian philosopher?" Cæsar a Christian philosopher! I wonder he
has not been made a saint. Writers of dedications are remarkable for
saying fine things and much to the purpose.


The feast of the Circumcision, which the church celebrates on the first
of January, has taken the place of another called the Feast of the
Calends, of Asses, of Fools, or of Innocents, according to the different
places where, and the different days on which, it was held. It was most
commonly at Christmas, the Circumcision, or the Epiphany.

In the cathedral of Rouen there was on Christmas day a procession, in
which ecclesiastics, chosen for the purpose, represented the prophets of
the Old Testament, who foretold the birth of the Messiah, and--which
may have given the feast its name--Balaam appeared, mounted on a
she-ass; but as Lactantius' poem, and the "Book of Promises," under the
name of St. Prosper, say that Jesus in the manger was recognized by the
ox and the ass, according to the passage Isaiah: "The ox knoweth his
owner, and the ass his master's crib" (a circumstance, however, which
neither the gospel nor the ancient fathers have remarked), it is more
likely that, from this opinion, the Feast of the Ass took its name.

Indeed, the Jesuit, Theophilus Raynaud, testifies that on St. Stephen's
day there was sung a hymn of the ass, which was also called the Prose of
Fools; and that on St. John's day another was sung, called the Prose of
the Ox. In the library of the chapter of Sens there is preserved a
manuscript of vellum with miniature figures representing the ceremonies
of the Feast of Fools. The text contains a description of it, including
this Prose of the Ass; it was sung by two choirs, who imitated at
intervals and as the burden of the song, the braying of that animal.

There was elected in the cathedral churches a bishop or archbishop of
the Fools, which election was confirmed by all sorts of buffooneries,
played off by way of consecration. This bishop officiated pontifically
and gave his blessing to the people, before whom he appeared bearing the
mitre, the crosier, and even the archiepiscopal cross. In those
churches which held immediately from the Holy See, a pope of the Fools
was elected, who officiated in all the decorations of papacy. All the
clergy assisted in the mass, some dressed in women's apparel, others as
buffoons, or masked in a grotesque and ridiculous manner. Not content
with singing licentious songs in the choir, they sat and played at dice
on the altar, at the side of the officiator. When the mass was over they
ran, leaped, and danced about the church, uttering obscene words,
singing immodest songs, and putting themselves in a thousand indecent
postures, sometimes exposing themselves almost naked. They then had
themselves drawn about the streets in tumbrels full of filth, that they
might throw it at the mob which gathered round them. The looser part of
the seculars would mix among the clergy, that they might play some
fool's part in the ecclesiastical habit.

This feast was held in the same manner in the convents of monks and
nuns, as Naudé testifies in his complaint to Gassendi, in 1645, in which
he relates that at Antibes, in the Franciscan monastery, neither the
officiating monks nor the guardian went to the choir on the day of the
Innocents. The lay brethren occupied their places on that day, and,
clothed in sacerdotal decorations, torn and turned inside out, made a
sort of office. They held books turned upside down, which they seemed to
be reading through spectacles, the glasses of which were made of orange
peel; and muttered confused words, or uttered strange cries,
accompanied by extravagant contortions.

The second register of the church of Autun, by the secretary Rotarii,
which ends with 1416, says, without specifying the day, that at the
Feast of Fools an ass was led along with a clergyman's cape on his back,
the attendants singing: "He haw! Mr. Ass, he haw!"

Ducange relates a sentence of the officialty of Viviers, upon one
William, who, having been elected fool-bishop in 1400, had refused to
perform the solemnities and to defray the expenses customary on such

And, to conclude, the registers of St. Stephen, at Dijon, in 1521,
without mentioning the day, that the vicars ran about the streets with
drums, fifes, and other instruments, and carried lamps before the
_pré-chantre_ of the Fools, to whom the honor of the feast principally
belonged. But the parliament of that city, by a decree of January 19,
1552, forbade the celebration of this feast, which had already been
condemned by several councils, and especially by a circular of March 11,
1444, sent to all the clergy in the kingdom by the Paris university.
This letter, which we find at the end of the works of Peter of Blois,
says that this feast was, in the eyes of the clergy, so well imagined
and so Christian, that those who sought to suppress it were looked on as
excommunicated; and the Sorbonne doctor, John des Lyons, in his
discourse against the paganism of the Roiboit, informs us that a doctor
of divinity publicly maintained at Auxerre, about the close of the
fifteenth century, that "the feast of Fools was no less pleasing to God
than the feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin;
besides, that it was of much higher antiquity in the church."

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