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Title: A Philosophical Dictionary, Volume 3
Author: Voltaire, 1694-1778
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Philosophical Dictionary, Volume 3" ***

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 facsimiles




     _The WORKS of VOLTAIRE_

     _"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."_







[Illustration: Voltaire receives Mme. d'Épinay at Les Délices.]

       *       *       *       *       *






       *       *       *       *       *



We have spoken of love. It is hard to pass from people _kissing_ to
people _eating_ one another. It is, however, but too true that there
have been cannibals. We have found them in America; they are, perhaps,
still to be found; and the Cyclops were not the only individuals in
antiquity who sometimes fed on human flesh. Juvenal relates that among
the Egyptians--that wise people, so renowned for their laws--those pious
worshippers of crocodiles and onions--the Tentyrites ate one of their
enemies who had fallen into their hands. He does not tell this tale on
hearsay; the crime was committed almost before his eyes; he was then in
Egypt, and not far from Tentyra. On this occasion he quotes the Gascons
and the Saguntines, who formerly fed on the flesh of their countrymen.

In 1725 four savages were brought from the Mississippi to Fontainebleau,
with whom I had the honor of conversing. There was among them a lady of
the country, whom I asked if she had eaten men; she answered, with great
simplicity that she had. I appeared somewhat scandalized; on which she
excused herself by saying that it was better to eat one's dead enemy
than to leave him to be devoured by wild beasts, and that the conquerors
deserved to have the preference. We kill our neighbors in battles, or
skirmishes; and, for the meanest consideration, provide meals for the
crows and the worms. There is the horror; there is the crime. What
matters it, when a man is dead, whether he is eaten by a soldier, or by
a dog and a crow?

We have more respect for the dead than for the living. It would be
better to respect both the one and the other. The nations called
polished have done right in not putting their vanquished enemies on the
spit; for if we were allowed to eat our neighbors, we should soon eat
our countrymen, which would be rather unfortunate for the social
virtues. But polished nations have not always been so; they were all for
a long time savage; and, in the infinite number of revolutions which
this globe has undergone, mankind have been sometimes numerous and
sometimes scarce. It has been with human beings as it now is with
elephants, lions, or tigers, the race of which has very much decreased.
In times when a country was but thinly inhabited by men, they had few
arts; they were hunters. The custom of eating what they had killed
easily led them to treat their enemies like their stags and their boars.
It was superstition that caused human victims to be immolated; it was
necessity that caused them to be eaten.

Which is the greater crime--to assemble piously together to plunge a
knife into the heart of a girl adorned with fillets, or to eat a
worthless man who has been killed in our own defence?

Yet we have many more instances of girls and boys sacrificed than of
girls and boys eaten. Almost every nation of which we know anything has
sacrificed boys and girls. The Jews immolated them. This was called _the
Anathema_; it was a real sacrifice; and in Leviticus it is ordained that
the living souls which shall be devoted shall not be spared; but it is
not in any manner prescribed that they shall be eaten; this is only
threatened. Moses tells the Jews that unless they observe his ceremonies
they shall not only have the itch, but the mothers shall eat their
children. It is true that in the time of Ezekiel the Jews must have been
accustomed to eat human flesh; for, in his thirty-ninth chapter, he
foretells to them that God will cause them to eat, not only the horses
of their enemies, but moreover the horsemen and the rest of the
warriors. And, indeed, why should not the Jews have been cannibals? It
was the only thing wanting to make the people of God the most abominable
people upon earth.


In the essay on the "Manners and Spirit of Nations" we read the
following singular passage: "Herrera assures us that the Mexicans ate
the human victims whom they immolated. Most of the first travellers and
missionaries say that the Brazilians, the Caribbees, the Iroquois, the
Hurons, and some other tribes, ate their captives taken in war; and
they do not consider this as the practice of some individuals alone, but
as a national usage. So many writers, ancient and modern, have spoken of
cannibals, that it is difficult to deny their existence. A hunting
people, like the Brazilians or the Canadians, not always having a
certain subsistence, may sometimes become cannibals. Famine and revenge
accustomed them to this kind of food; and while in the most civilized
ages we see the people of Paris devouring the bleeding remains of
Marshal d'Ancre, and the people of The Hague eating the heart of the
grand pensionary, De Witt, we ought not to be surprised that a momentary
outrage among us has been continual among savages.

"The most ancient books we have leave no room to doubt that hunger has
driven men to this excess. The prophet Ezekiel, according to some
commentators, promises to the Hebrews from God that if they defend
themselves well against the king of Persia, they shall eat of 'the flesh
of horses and of mighty men.'

"Marco Polo says that in his time in a part of Tartary the magicians or
priests--it was the same thing--had the privilege of eating the flesh of
criminals condemned to death. All this is shocking to the feelings; but
the picture of humanity must often have the same effect.

"How can it have been that nations constantly separated from one another
have united in so horrible a custom? Must we believe that it is not so
absolutely opposed to human nature as it appears to be? It is certain
that it has been rare, but it is equally certain that it has existed. It
is not known that the Tartars and the Jews often ate their fellow
creatures. During the sieges of Sancerre and Paris, in our religious
wars, hunger and despair compelled mothers to feed on the flesh of their
children. The charitable Las Casas, bishop of Chiapa, says that this
horror was committed in America, only by some nations among whom he had
not travelled. Dampierre assures us that he never met with cannibals;
and at this day there are not, perhaps, any tribes which retain this
horrible custom."

Americus Vespucius says in one of his letters that the Brazilians were
much astonished when he made them understand that for a long time the
Europeans had not eaten their prisoners of war.

According to Juvenal's fifteenth satire, the Gascons and the Spaniards
had been guilty of this barbarity. He himself witnessed a similar
abomination in Egypt during the consulate of Junius. A quarrel happening
between the inhabitants of Tentyra and those of Ombi, they fought; and
an Ombian having fallen into the hands of the Tentyrians, they had him
cooked, and ate him, all but the bare bones. But he does not say that
this was the usual custom; on the contrary, he speaks of it as an act of
more than ordinary fury.

The Jesuit Charlevoix, whom I knew very well, and who was a man of
great veracity, gives us clearly to understand in his "History of
Canada," in which country he resided thirty years, that all the nations
of northern America were cannibals; since he remarks, as a thing very
extraordinary, that in 1711 the Acadians did not eat men.

The Jesuit Brebeuf relates that in 1640 the first Iroquois that was
converted, having unfortunately got drunk with brandy, was taken by the
Hurons, then at war with the Iroquois. The prisoner, baptized by Father
Brebeuf by the name of Joseph, was condemned to death. He was put to a
thousand tortures, which he endured, singing all the while, according to
the custom of his country. They finished by cutting off a foot, a hand,
and lastly his head; after which the Hurons put all the members into a
cauldron, each one partook of them, and a piece was offered to Father

Charlevoix speaks in another place of twenty-two Hurons eaten by the
Iroquois. It cannot, then, be doubted, that in more countries than one,
human nature has reached this last pitch of horror; and this execrable
custom must be of the highest antiquity; for we see in the Holy
Scriptures that the Jews were threatened with eating their children if
they did not obey their laws. The Jews are told not only that they shall
have the itch, and that their wives shall give themselves up to others,
but also that they shall eat their sons and daughters in anguish and
devastation; that they shall contend with one another for the eating of
their children; and that the husband will not give to his wife a morsel
of her son, because, he will say, he has hardly enough for himself.

Some very bold critics do indeed assert that the Book of Deuteronomy was
not composed until after the siege of Samaria by Benhadad, during which,
it is said in the Second Book of Kings, that mothers ate their children.
But these critics, in considering Deuteronomy as a book written after
the siege of Samaria, do but verify this terrible occurrence. Others
assert that it could not happen as it is related in the Second Book of
Kings. It is there said: "And as the king of Israel was passing by upon
the wall [of Samaria], there cried a woman unto him, saying, 'Help, my
lord, O king.' And he said, 'If the Lord do not help thee, whence shall
I help thee? out of the barn floor? or out of the wine-press?' And the
king said unto her, 'What aileth thee?' And she answered, 'This woman
said unto me, give thy son, that we may eat him to-day, and we shall eat
my son to-morrow. So we boiled my son, and did eat him; and I said unto
her on the next day, 'Give thy son, that we may eat him,' and she hath
hid her son.'"

These censors assert that it is not likely that while King Benhadad was
besieging Samaria, King Joram passed quietly by the wall, or upon the
wall, to settle differences between Samaritan women. It is still less
likely that one child should not have satisfied two women for two days.
There must have been enough to feed them for four days at least. But
let these critics reason as they may, we must believe that fathers and
mothers ate their children during the siege of Samaria, since it is
expressly foretold in Deuteronomy. The same thing happened at the siege
of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar; and this, too, was foretold by Ezekiel.

Jeremiah exclaims, in his "Lamentations": "Shall the women eat their
fruit, and children of a span long?" And in another place: "The hands of
the pitiful women have sodden their own children." Here may be added the
words of Baruch: "Man has eaten the flesh of his son and of his

This horror is repeated so often that it cannot but be true. Lastly, we
know the story related in Josephus, of the woman who fed on the flesh of
her son when Titus was besieging Jerusalem. The book attributed to
Enoch, cited by St. Jude, says that the giants born from the commerce of
the angels with the daughters of men were the first cannibals.

In the eighth homily attributed to St. Clement, St. Peter, who is made
to speak in it, says that these same giants quenched their thirst with
human blood and ate the flesh of their fellow creatures. Hence resulted,
adds the author, maladies until then unknown; monsters of all kinds
sprung up on the earth; and then it was that God resolved to drown all
human kind. All this shows us how universal was the reigning opinion of
the existence of cannibals.

What St. Peter is made to say in St. Clement's homily has a palpable
affinity with the story of Lycaon, one of the oldest of Greek fables,
and which we find in the first book of Ovid's "Metamorphoses."

The "Relations of the Indies and China," written in the eighth century
by two Arabs, and translated by the Abbé Renaudot, is not a book to
which implicit credit should be attached; far from it; but we must not
reject all these two travellers say, especially when their testimony is
corroborated by that of other authors who have merited some belief. They
tell us that there are in the Indian Sea islands peopled with blacks who
ate men; they call these islands Ramni.

Marco Polo, who had not read the works of these two Arabs, says the same
thing four hundred years after them. Archbishop Navarette, who was
afterwards a voyager in the same seas, confirms this account: "_Los
Europeos que cogen, es constante que vivos se los van comiendo_."

Texeira asserts that the people of Java ate human flesh, which
abominable custom they had not left off more than two hundred years
before his time. He adds that they did not learn milder manners until
they embraced Mahometanism.

The same thing has been said of the people of Pegu, of the Kaffirs, and
of several other African nations. Marco Polo, whom we have just now
cited, says that in some Tartar hordes, when a criminal had been
condemned to death they made a meal of him: _"Hanno costoro un bestiale
e orribile costume, che quando alcuno e guidicato a morte, lo tolgono,
e cuocono, e mangian' selo."_

What is more extraordinary and incredible is that the two Arabs
attributed to the Chinese what Marco Polo says of some of the Tartars:
that, "in general, the Chinese eat all who have been killed." This
abomination is so repugnant to Chinese manners, that it cannot be
believed. Father Parennin has refuted it by saying that it is unworthy
of refutation.

It must, however, be observed that the eighth century, the time when
these Arabs wrote their travels, was one of those most disastrous to the
Chinese. Two hundred thousand Tartars passed the great wall, plundered
Pekin, and everywhere spread the most horrible desolation. It is very
likely that there was then a great famine, for China was as populous as
it is now; and some poor creatures among the lowest of the people might
eat dead bodies. What interest could these Arabians have in inventing so
disgusting a fable? Perhaps they, like most other travellers, took a
particular instance for a national custom.

Not to go so far for examples, we have one in our own country, in the
very province in which I write; it is attested by our conqueror, our
master, Julius Cæsar. He was besieging Alexia, in the Auxois. The
besieged being resolved to defend themselves to the last extremity, and
wanting provisions, a great council was assembled, in which one of the
chiefs, named Critognatus, proposed that the children should be eaten
one after another to sustain the strength of the combatants. His
proposal was carried by a majority of voices. Nor is this all;
Critognatus in his harangue tells them that their ancestors had had
recourse to the same kind of sustenance in the war with the Cimbri and

We will conclude with the testimony of Montaigne. Speaking of what was
told him by the companions of Villegagnon, returned from Brazil, and of
what he had seen in France, he certifies that the Brazilians ate their
enemies killed in war, but mark what follows: "Is it more barbarous to
eat a man when dead than to have him roasted by a slow fire, or torn to
pieces by dogs and swine, as is yet fresh in our memories--and that not
between ancient enemies, but among neighbors and fellow-citizens--and,
which is worse, on pretence of piety and religion?" What a question for
a philosopher like Montaigne! Then, if Anacreon and Tibullus had been
Iroquois, they would have eaten men! Alas! alas!


Well; two Englishmen have sailed round the world. They have discovered
that New Holland is an island larger than Europe, and that men still eat
one another there, as in New Zealand. Whence come this race? supposing
that they exist. Are they descended from the ancient Egyptians, from the
ancient people of Ethiopia, from the Africans, from the Indians--or from
the vultures, or the wolves? What a contrast between Marcus Aurelius, or
Epictetus, and the cannibals of New Zealand! Yet they have the same
organs, they are alike human beings. We have already treated on this
property of the human race; it may not be amiss to add another

The following are St. Jerome's own words in one of his letters: _"Quid
loquar de cæteris nationibus, quum ipse adolescentulus in Gallia viderim
Scotos, gentem Britannicam, humanis vesci carnibus, et quum per silvas
porcorum greges pecudumque reperiant, tamen pastorum nates et fæminarum
papillas solere abscindere et has solas ciborum delicias
arbitrari?"_--What shall I say of other nations; when I myself, when
young, have seen Scotchmen in Gaul, who, though they might have fed on
swine and other animals of the forest, chose rather to cut off the
posteriors of the youths and the breasts of the young women, and
considered them as the most delicious food."

Pelloutier, who sought for everything that might do honor to the Celts,
took the pains to contradict Jerome, and to maintain that his credulity
had been imposed on. But Jerome speaks very gravely, and of what he
_saw_. We may, with deference, dispute with a father of the church about
what he has heard; but to doubt of what he has _seen_ is going very far.
After all, the safest way is to doubt of everything, even of what we
have seen ourselves.

One word more on cannibalism. In a book which has had considerable
success among the well-disposed we find the following, or words to the
same effect: "In Cromwell's time a woman who kept a tallow chandler's
shop in Dublin sold excellent candles, made of the fat of Englishmen.
After some time one of her customers complained that the candles were
not so good. 'Sir,' said the woman, 'it is because we are short of

I ask which were the most guilty--those who assassinated the English, or
the poor woman who made candles of their fat? And further, I ask which
was the greatest crime--to have Englishmen cooked for dinner, or to use
their tallow to give light at supper? It appears to me that the great
evil is the being killed; it matters little to us whether, after death,
we are roasted on the spit or are made into candles. Indeed, no
well-disposed man can be unwilling to be useful when he is dead.


There is not an ancient fable, not an old absurdity which some simpleton
will not revive, and that in a magisterial tone, if it be but authorized
by some classical or theological writer.

Lycophron (if I remember rightly) relates that a horde of robbers who
had been justly condemned in Ethiopia by King Actisanes to lose their
ears and noses, fled to the cataracts of the Nile and from thence
penetrated into the Sandy Desert, where they at length built the temple
of Jupiter Ammon.

Lycophron, and after him Theopompus, tells us that these banditti,
reduced to extreme want, having neither shoes, nor clothes, nor
utensils, nor bread, bethought themselves of raising a statue of gold
to an Egyptian god. This statue was ordered one evening and made in the
course of the night. A member of the university much attached to
Lycophron and the Ethiopian robbers asserts that nothing was more common
in the venerable ages of antiquity than to cast a statue of gold in one
night, and afterwards throw it into a fire to reduce it to an impalpable
powder, in order to be swallowed by a whole people.

But where did these poor devils, without breeches, find so much gold?
"What, sir!" says the man of learning, "do you forget that they had
stolen enough to buy all Africa and that their daughters' earrings alone
were worth nine millions five hundred thousand livres of our currency?"

Be it so. But for casting a statue a little preparation is necessary. M.
Le Moine employed nearly two years in casting that of Louis XV. "Oh! but
this Jupiter Ammon was at most but three feet high. Go to any pewterer;
will he not make you half a dozen plates in a day?"

Sir, a statue of Jupiter is harder to make than pewter plates, and I
even doubt whether your thieves had wherewith to make plates so quickly,
clever as they might be at pilfering. It is not very likely that they
had the necessary apparatus; they had more need to provide themselves
with meal. I respect Lycophron much, but this profound Greek and his yet
more profound commentators know so little of the arts--they are so
learned in all that is useless, and so ignorant in all that concerns
the necessaries and conveniences of life, professions, trades, and daily
occupations that we will take this opportunity of informing them how a
metal figure is cast. This is an operation which they will find neither
in Lycophron, nor in Manetho, nor even in St. Thomas's dream.

I omit many other preparations which the encyclopædists, especially M.
Diderot, have explained much better than I could do, in the work which
must immortalize their glory as well as all the arts. But to form a
clear idea of the process of this art the artist must be seen at work.
No one can ever learn in a book to weave stockings, nor to polish
diamonds, nor to work tapestry. Arts and trades are learned only by
example and practice.



The ingenious La Motte says of Cato, in one of his philosophical rather
than poetical odes:

     _Caton, d'une âme plus égale,_
     _Sous l'heureux vainqueur de Pharsale,_
     _Eût souffert que Rome pliât;_
     _Mais, incapable de se rendre,_
     _Il n'eut pas la force d'attendre_
     _Un pardon qui l'humiliât._

     Stern Cato, with more equal soul,
     Had bowed to Cæsar's wide control--
     With Rome had to the conqueror bowed--
     But that his spirit, rough and proud,
     Had not the courage to await
     A pardoned foe's too humbling fate.

It was, I believe, because Cato's soul was always equal, and retained
to the last its love for his country and her laws that he chose rather
to perish with her than to crouch to the tyrant. He died as he had
lived. Incapable of surrendering! And to whom? To the enemy of Rome--to
the man who had forcibly robbed the public treasury in order to make war
upon his fellow-citizens and enslave them by means of their own money. A
pardoned foe! It seems as if La Motte-Houdart were speaking of some
revolted subject who might have obtained his majesty's pardon by letters
in chancery.

It seems rather absurd to say that Cato slew himself through weakness.
None but a strong mind can thus surmount the most powerful instinct of
nature. This strength is sometimes that of frenzy, but a frantic man is
not weak.

Suicide is forbidden amongst us by the canon law. But the decretals,
which form the jurisprudence of a part of Europe, were unknown to Cato,
to Brutus, to Cassius, to the sublime Arria, to the Emperor Otho, to
Mark Antony, and the rest of the heroes of true Rome, who preferred a
voluntary death to a life which they believed to be ignominious.

We, too, kill ourselves, but it is when we have lost our money, or in
the very rare excess of foolish passion for an unworthy object. I have
known women kill themselves for the most stupid men imaginable. And
sometimes we kill ourselves when we are in bad health, which action is a
real weakness.

Disgust with our own existence, weariness of ourselves is a malady
which is likewise a cause of suicide. The remedy is a little exercise,
music, hunting, the play, or an agreeable woman. The man who, in a fit
of melancholy, kills himself to-day, would have wished to live had he
waited a week.

I was almost an eye-witness of a suicide which deserves the attention of
all cultivators of physical science. A man of a serious profession, of
mature age, of regular conduct, without passions, and above indigence,
killed himself on Oct. 17, 1769, and left to the town council of the
place where he was born, a written apology for his voluntary death,
which it was thought proper not to publish lest it should encourage men
to quit a life of which so much ill is said. Thus far there is nothing
extraordinary; such instances are almost every day to be met with. The
astonishing part of the story is this:

His brother and his father had each killed himself at the same age. What
secret disposition of organs, what sympathy, what concurrence of
physical laws, occasions a father and his two sons to perish by their
own hands, and by the same kind of death, precisely when they have
attained such a year? Is it a disease which unfolds itself successively
in the different members of a family--as we often see fathers and
children die of smallpox, consumption, or any other complaint? Three or
four generations have become deaf or blind, gouty or scorbutic, at a
predetermined period.

Physical organization, of which moral is the offspring, transmits the
same character from father to son through a succession of ages. The
Appii were always haughty and inflexible, the Catos always severe. The
whole line of the Guises were bold, rash, factious; compounded of the
most insolent pride, and the most seductive politeness. From Francis de
Guise to him who alone and in silence went and put himself at the head
of the people of Naples, they were all, in figure, in courage, and in
turn of mind, above ordinary men. I have seen whole length portraits of
Francis de Guise, of the Balafré, and of his son: they are all six feet
high, with the same features, the same courage and boldness in the
forehead, the eye, and the attitude.

This continuity, this series of beings alike is still more observable in
animals, and if as much care were taken to perpetuate fine races of men
as some nations still take to prevent the mixing of the breeds of their
horses and hounds the genealogy would be written in the countenance and
displayed in the manners. There have been races of crooked and of
six-fingered people, as we see red-haired, thick-lipped, long-nosed, and
flat-nosed races.

But that nature should so dispose the organs of a whole race that at a
certain age each individual of that family will have a passion for
self-destruction--this is a problem which all the sagacity of the most
attentive anatomists cannot resolve. The effect is certainly all
physical, but it belongs to occult physics. Indeed, what principle is
not occult?

We are not informed, nor is it likely that in, the time of Cæsar and the
emperors the inhabitants of Great Britain killed themselves as
deliberately as they now do, when they have the vapors which they
denominate the spleen.

On the other hand, the Romans, who never had the spleen, did not
hesitate to put themselves to death. They reasoned, they were
philosophers, and the people of the island of Britain were not so. Now,
English citizens are philosophers and Roman citizens are nothing. The
Englishman quits this life proudly and disdainfully when the whim takes
him, but the Roman must have an _indulgentia in articulo mortis_; he can
neither live nor die.

Sir William Temple says that a man should depart when he has no longer
any pleasure in remaining. So died Atticus. Young women who hang and
drown themselves for love should then listen to the voice of hope, for
changes are as frequent in love as in other affairs.

An almost infallible means of saving yourself from the desire of
self-destruction is always to have something to do. Creech, the
commentator on Lucretius, marked upon his manuscripts: "N.B. Must hang
myself when I have finished." He kept his word with himself that he
might have the pleasure of ending like his author. If he had undertaken
a commentary upon Ovid he would have lived longer.

Why have we fewer suicides in the country than in the towns? Because in
the fields only the body suffers; in the town it is the mind. The
laborer has not time to be melancholy; none kill themselves but the
idle--they who, in the eyes of the multitude, are so happy.

I shall here relate some suicides that have happened in my own time,
several of which have already been published in other works. The dead
may be made useful to the living:

_A Brief Account of Some Singular Suicides._

Philip Mordaunt, cousin-german to the celebrated earl of
Peterborough--so well known in all the European courts, and who boasted
of having seen more postillions and kings than any other man--was a
young man of twenty-seven, handsome, well made, rich, of noble blood,
with the highest pretensions, and, which was more than all, adored by
his mistress, yet Mordaunt was seized with a disgust for life. He paid
his debts, wrote to his friends, and even made some verses on the
occasion. He dispatched himself with a pistol without having given any
other reason than that his soul was tired of his body and that when we
are dissatisfied with our abode we ought to quit it. It seemed that he
wished to die because he was disgusted with his good fortune.

In 1726 Richard Smith exhibited a strange spectacle to the world from a
very different cause. Richard Smith was disgusted with real misfortune.
He had been rich, and he was poor; he had been in health, and he was
infirm; he had a wife with whom he had naught but his misery to share;
their only remaining property was a child in the cradle. Richard Smith
and Bridget Smith, with common consent, having embraced each other
tenderly and given their infant the last kiss began with killing the
poor child, after which they hanged themselves to the posts of their

I do not know any other act of cold-blooded horror so striking as this.
But the letter which these unfortunate persons wrote to their cousin,
Mr. Brindley, before their death, is as singular as their death itself.
"We believe," say they, "that God will forgive us.... We quit this life
because we are miserable--without resource, and we have done our only
son the service of killing him, lest he should become as unfortunate as
ourselves...." It must be observed that these people, after killing
their son through parental tenderness, wrote to recommend their dog and
cat to the care of a friend. It seems they thought it easier to make a
cat and dog happy in this life than a child, and they would not be a
burden to their friends.

Lord Scarborough quitted this life in 1727, with the same coolness as he
had quitted his office of Master of the Horse. He was reproached, in the
House of Peers, with taking the king's part because he had a good place
at court. "My lords," said he, "to prove to you that my opinion is
independent of my place, I resign it this moment." He afterwards found
himself in a perplexing dilemma between a mistress whom he loved, but
to whom he had promised nothing, and a woman whom he esteemed, and to
whom he had promised marriage. He killed himself to escape from his

These tragical stories which swarm in the English newspapers, have made
the rest of Europe think that, in England, men kill themselves more
willingly than elsewhere. However, I know not but there are as many
madmen or heroes to be found in Paris as in London. Perhaps, if our
newspapers kept an exact list of all who had been so infatuated as to
seek their own destruction, and so lamentably courageous as to effect
it, we should, in this particular, have the misfortune to rival the
English. But our journals are more discreet. In such of them as are
acknowledged by the government private occurrences are never exposed to
public slander.

All I can venture to say with assurance is that there is no reason to
apprehend that this rage for self-murder will ever become an epidemical
disorder. Against this, nature has too well provided. Hope and fear are
the powerful agents which she often employs to stay the hand of the
unhappy individual about to strike at his own breast. Cardinal Dubois
was once heard to say to himself: "Kill thyself! Coward, thou darest

It is said that there have been countries in which a council was
established to grant the citizens permission to kill themselves when
they had good and sufficient reasons. I answer either that it was not
so or that those magistrates had not much to do.

It might, indeed, astonish us, and does, I think, merit a serious
examination, that almost all the ancient Roman heroes killed themselves
when they had lost a battle in the civil wars. But I do not find,
neither in the time of the League, nor in that of the Frond, nor in the
troubles of Italy, nor in those of England, that any chief thought
proper to die by his own hand. These chiefs, it is true, were
Christians, and there is a great difference between the principles of a
Christian warrior and those of a Pagan hero. But why were these men whom
Christianity restrained when they would have put themselves to death,
restrained by nothing when they chose to poison, assassinate, and bring
their conquered enemies to the scaffold? Does not the Christian religion
forbid these murders much more than self-murder, of which the New
Testament makes no mention?

The apostles of suicide tell us that it is quite allowable to quit one's
house when one is tired of it. Agreed, but most men would prefer
sleeping in a mean house to lying in the open air.

I once received a circular letter from an Englishman, in which he
offered a prize to any one who should most satisfactorily prove that
there are occasions on which a man might kill himself. I made no answer:
I had nothing to prove to him. He had only to examine whether he liked
better to die than to live.

Another Englishman came to me at Paris in 1724; he was ill, and promised
me that he would kill himself if he was not cured by July 20. He
accordingly gave me his epitaph in these words: "_Valet curia!_"
"Farewell care!" and gave me twenty-five louis to get a small monument
erected to him at the end of the Faubourg St. Martin. I returned him his
money on July 20, and kept his epitaph.

In my own time the last prince of the house of Courtenai, when very old,
and the last branch of Lorraine-Harcourt, when very young, destroyed
themselves almost without its being heard of. These occurrences cause a
terrible uproar the first day, but when the property of the deceased has
been divided they are no longer talked of.

The following most remarkable of all suicides has just occurred at
Lyons, in June, 1770: A young man well known, who was handsome, well
made, clever, and amiable, fell in love with a young woman whom her
parents would not give to him. So far we have nothing more than the
opening scene of a comedy, the astonishing tragedy is to follow.

The lover broke a blood-vessel and the surgeons informed him there was
no remedy. His mistress engaged to meet him, with two pistols and two
daggers in order that, if the pistols missed the daggers might the next
moment pierce their hearts. They embraced each other for the last time:
rose-colored ribbons were tied to the triggers of the pistols; the lover
holding the ribbon of his mistress's pistol, while she held the ribbon
of his. Both fired at a signal given, and both fell at the same instant.

Of this fact the whole city of Lyons is witness. Pætus and Arria, you
set the example, but you were condemned by a tyrant, while love alone
immolated these two victims.

_Laws Against Suicide._

Has any law, civil or religious, ever forbidden a man to kill himself,
on pain of being hanged after death, or on pain of being damned? It is
true that Virgil has said:

     _Proximo, deinde tenent mæsti loca, qui sibi lethum_
     _Insontes peperere manu, lucemque perosi_
     _Projecere animas. Quam vellent æthere in alto_
     _Nunc et pauperiem et duros perferre labores!_
     _Fata obstant, tristique palus inamabilis unda_
     _Alligat, et novies Styx interfusa coercet._
                    --ÆNEIS, lib. vi. v. 434 et seq.

     The next in place, and punishment, are they
     Who prodigally throw their souls away--
     Fools, who repining at their wretched state,
     And loathing anxious life, suborn their fate;
     With late repentance now they would retrieve
     The bodies they forsook, and wish to live;
     Their pains and poverty desire to bear,
     To view the light of heaven and breathe the vital air;--
     But fate forbids, the Stygian floods oppose,
     And, with nine circling streams, the captive souls inclose.

Such was the religion of some of the pagans, yet, notwithstanding the
weariness which awaited them in the next world it was an honor to quit
this by killing themselves--so contradictory are the ways of men. And
among us is not duelling unfortunately still honorable, though forbidden
by reason, by religion, and by every law? If Cato and Cæsar, Antony and
Augustus, were not duellists it was not that they were less brave than
our Frenchmen. If the duke of Montmorency, Marshal de Marillac, de Thou,
Cinq-Mars, and so many others, chose rather to be dragged to execution
in a wagon, like highwaymen, than to kill themselves like Cato and
Brutus, it was not that they had less courage than those Romans, nor
less of what is called _honor_. The true reason is that at Paris
self-murder in such cases was not then the fashion; but it was the
fashion at Rome.

The women of the Malabar coast throw themselves, living, on the funeral
piles of their husbands. Have they, then, more courage than Cornelia?
No; but in that country it is the custom for the wives to burn

In Japan it is the custom for a man of honor, when he has been insulted
by another man of honor, to rip open his belly in the presence of his
enemy and say to him: "Do you likewise if thou hast the heart." The
aggressor is dishonored for ever if he does not immediately plunge a
great knife into his belly.

The only religion in which suicide is forbidden by a clear and positive
law is Mahometanism. In the fourth sura it is said: "Do not kill
yourself, for God is merciful unto you, and whosoever killeth himself
through malice and wickedness shall assuredly be burned in hell fire."

This is a literal translation. The text, like many other texts, appears
to want common sense. What is meant by "Do not kill yourself for God is
merciful"? Perhaps we are to understand--Do not sink under your
misfortunes, which God may alleviate: do not be so foolish as to kill
yourself to-day since you may be happy to-morrow.

"And whosoever killeth himself through malice and wickedness." This is
yet more difficult to explain. Perhaps, in all antiquity, this never
happened to any one but the Phrædra of Euripides, who hanged herself on
purpose to make Theseus believe that she had been forcibly violated by
Hippolytus. In our own times a man shot himself in the head, after
arranging all things to make another man suspected of the act.

In the play of George Dandin, his jade of a wife threatens him with
killing herself to have him hanged. Such cases are rare. If Mahomet
foresaw them he may be said to have seen a great way. The famous
Duverger de Haurane, abbot of St. Cyran, regarded as the founder of Port
Royal, wrote, about the year 1608, a treatise on "Suicide," which has
become one of the scarcest books in Europe.

"The Decalogue," says he, "forbids us to kill. In this precept
self-murder seems no less to be comprised than murder of our neighbor.
But if there are cases in which it is allowable to kill our neighbor
there likewise are cases in which it is allowable to kill ourselves.

"We must not make an attempt upon our lives until we have consulted
reason. The public authority, which holds the place of God, may dispose
of our lives. The reason of man may likewise hold the place of the
reason of God: it is a ray of the eternal light."

St. Cyran extends this argument, which may be considered as a mere
sophism, to great length, but when he comes to the explanation and the
details it is more difficult to answer him. He says: "A man may kill
himself for the good of his prince, for that of his country, or for that
of his relations."

We do not, indeed, see how Codrus or Curtius could be condemned. No
sovereign would dare to punish the family of a man who had devoted
himself to death for him; nay, there is not one who would dare neglect
to recompense it. St. Thomas, before St. Cyran, had said the same thing.
But we need neither St. Thomas, nor Cardinal Bonaventura, nor Duverger
de Haurane to tell us that a man who dies for his country is deserving
of praise.

The abbot of St. Cyran concludes that it is allowable to do for
ourselves what it is noble to do for others. All that is advanced by
Plutarch, by Seneca, by Montaigne, and by fifty other philosophers, in
favor of suicide is sufficiently known; it is a hackneyed topic--a
wornout commonplace. I seek not to apologize for an act which the laws
condemn, but neither the Old Testament, nor the New has ever forbidden
man to depart this life when it has become insupportable to him. No
Roman law condemned self-murder; on the contrary, the following was the
law of the Emperor Antoine, which was never revoked:

"If your father or your brother not being accused of any crime kill
himself, either to escape from grief, or through weariness of life, or
through despair, or through mental derangement, his will shall be valid,
or, if he die intestate his heirs shall succeed."

Notwithstanding this humane law of our masters we still drag on a sledge
and drive a stake through the body of a man who has died a voluntary
death; we do all we can to make his memory infamous; we dishonor his
family as far as we are able; we punish the son for having lost his
father, and the widow for being deprived of her husband.

We even confiscate the property of the deceased, which is robbing the
living of the patrimony which of right belongs to them. This custom is
derived from our canon law, which deprives of Christian burial such as
die a voluntary death. Hence it is concluded that we cannot inherit from
a man who is judged to have no inheritance in heaven. The canon law,
under the head "_De Pœnitentia_," assures us that Judas committed a
greater crime in strangling himself than in selling our Lord Jesus


Among those who have had the leisure, the means, and the courage to seek
for the origin of nations, there have been some who have found that of
our Celts, or at least would make us believe that they had met with it.
This illusion being the only recompense of their immense travail, we
should not envy them its possession.

If we wish to know anything about the Huns--who, indeed, are scarcely
worth knowing anything about, for they have rendered no service to
mankind--we find some slight notices of those barbarians among the
Chinese--that most ancient of all nations, after the Indians. From them
we learn that, in certain ages, the Huns went like famishing wolves and
ravaged countries which, even at this day are regarded as places of
exile and of horror. This is a very melancholy, a very miserable sort of
knowledge. It is, doubtless, much better to cultivate a useful art at
Paris, Lyons, or Bordeaux, than seriously to study the history of the
Huns and the bears. Nevertheless we are aided in these researches by
some of the Chinese archives.

But for the Celts there are no archives. We know no more of their
antiquities than we do of those of the Samoyeds or the Australasians.

We have learned nothing about our ancestors except from the few words
which their conqueror, Julius Cæsar, condescended to say of them. He
begins his "Commentaries" by dividing the Gauls into the Belgians,
Aquitanians, and Celts.

Whence some of the daring among the erudite have concluded that the
Celts were the Scythians, and they have made these Scythio-Celts
include all Europe. But why not include the whole earth? Why stop short
in so fine a career?

We have also been duly told that Noah's son, Japhet, came out of the
Ark, and went with all speed to people all those vast regions with
Celts, whom he governed marvellously well. But authors of greater
modesty refer the origin of our Celts to the tower of Babel--to the
confusion of tongues--to Gomer, of whom no one ever heard until the very
recent period when some wise men of the West read the name of Gomer in a
bad translation of the Septuagint.

Bochart, in his "Sacred Chronology"--what a chronology!--takes quite a
different turn. Of these innumerable hordes of Celts he makes an
Egyptian colony, skilfully and easily led by Hercules from the fertile
banks of the Nile into the forests and morasses of Germany, whither, no
doubt, these colonists carried the arts and the language of Egypt and
the mysteries of Isis, no trace of which has ever been found among them.

I think they are still more to be congratulated on their discoveries,
who say that the Celts of the mountains of Dauphiny were called
Cottians, from their King Cottius; that the Bérichons were named from
their King Betrich; the Welsh, or Gaulish, from their King Wallus, and
the Belgians from Balgem, which means quarrelsome.

A still finer origin is that of the Celto-Pannonians, from the Latin
word _pannus_, cloth, for, we are told they dressed themselves in old
pieces of cloth badly sewn together, much resembling a harlequin's
jacket. But the best origin of all is, undeniably, the tower of Babel.


All these things, which would be useless and impertinent in a state of
pure nature, are, in our corrupt and ridiculous state, of great service.
Of all nations, the Chinese are those who have carried the use of
ceremonies to the greatest length; they certainly serve to calm as well
as to weary the mind. The Chinese porters and carters are obliged,
whenever they occasion the least hindrance in the streets, to fall on
their knees and ask one another's pardon according to the prescribed
formula. This prevents ill language, blows and murders. They have time
to grow cool and are then willing to assist one another.

The more free a people are, the fewer ceremonies, the fewer ostentatious
titles, the fewer demonstrations of annihilation in the presence of a
superior, they possess. To Scipio men said "Scipio"; to Cæsar, "Cæsar";
but in after times they said to the emperors, "your majesty," "your

The titles of St. Peter and St. Paul were "Peter" and "Paul." Their
successors gave one another the title of "your holiness," which is not
to be found in the Acts of the Apostles, nor in the writings of the

We read in the history of Germany that the dauphin of France, afterwards
Charles V., went to the Emperor Charles IV. at Metz and was presented
after Cardinal de Périgord.

There has since been a time when chancellors went before cardinals;
after which cardinals again took precedence of chancellors.

In France the peers preceded the princes of the blood, going in the
order of their creation, until the consecration of Henry III.

The dignity of peer was, until that time, so exalted that at the
ceremony of the consecration of Elizabeth, wife to Charles IX., in 1572,
described by Simon Bouquet, _échevin_ of Paris, it is said that the
queen's _dames_ and _demoiselles_ having handed to the _dame d'honneur_
the bread, wine and wax, with the silver, for the offering to be
presented to the queen by the said _dame d'honneur_, the said _dame
d'honneur_, being a duchess, commanded the _dames_ to go and carry the
offering to the princesses themselves, etc. This _dame d'honneur_ was
the wife of the constable Montmorency.

The armchair, the chair with a back, the stool, the right hand and the
left were for several ages important political matters. I believe that
we owe the ancient etiquette concerning armchairs to the circumstance
that our barbarians of ancestors had at most but one in a house, and
even this was used only by the sick. In some provinces of Germany and
England an armchair is still called a sick-chair.

Long after the times of Attila and Dagobert, when luxury found its way
into our courts and the great men of the earth had two or three
armchairs in their donjons, it was a noble distinction to sit upon one
of these thrones; and a castellain would place among his titles how he
had gone half a league from home to pay his court to a count, and how he
had been received in an easy-chair.

We see in the Memoirs of Mademoiselle that that august princess passed
one-fourth of her life amid the mortal agonies of disputes for the
back-chair. Were you to sit in a certain apartment, in a chair, or on a
stool, or not to sit at all? Here was enough to involve a whole court in
intrigue. Manners are now more easy; ladies may use couches and sofas
without occasioning any disturbance in society.

When Cardinal de Richelieu was treating with the English ambassadors for
the marriage of Henriette of France with Charles I., the affair was on
the point of being broken off on account of a demand made by the
ambassadors of two or three steps more towards a door; but the cardinal
removed the difficulty by taking to his bed. History has carefully
handed clown this precious circumstance. I believe that, if it had been
proposed to Scipio to get between the sheets to receive the visit of
Hannibal, he would have thought the ceremony something like a joke.

For a whole century the order of carriages and taking the wall were
testimonials of greatness and the source of pretensions, disputes, and
conflicts. To procure the passing of one carriage before another was
looked upon as a signal victory. The ambassadors went along the streets
as if they were contending for the prize in the circus; and when a
Spanish minister had succeeded in making a Portuguese coachman pull up,
he sent a courier to Madrid to apprise the king, his master, of this
great advantage.

Our histories regale us with fifty pugilistic combats for precedence--as
that of the parliament with the bishops' clerks at the funeral of Henry
IV., the _chambre des comptes_ with the parliament in the cathedral when
Louis XIII. gave France to the Virgin, the duke of Epernon with the
keeper of the seals, Du Vair, in the church of St. Germain. The
presidents of the _enquêtes_ buffeted Savare, the _doyen_ of the
_conseillers de grand' chambre_, to make him quit his place of honor (so
much is honor the soul of monarchical governments!), and four archers
were obliged to lay hold of the President Barillon, who was beating the
poor _doyen_ without mercy. We find no contests like these in the
Areopagus, nor in the Roman senate.

In proportion to the barbarism of countries or the weakness of courts,
we find ceremony in vogue. True power and true politeness are above
vanity. We may venture to believe that the custom will at last be given
up which some ambassadors still retain, of ruining themselves in order
to go along the streets in procession with a few hired carriages, fresh
painted and gilded, and preceded by a few footmen. This is called
"making their entry"; and it is a fine joke to make your entry into a
town seven or eight months before you arrive.

This important affair of punctilio, which constitutes the greatness of
the modern Romans--this science of the number of steps that should be
made in showing in a _monsignor_, in drawing or half drawing a curtain,
in walking in a room to the right or to the left--this great art, which
neither Fabius nor Cato could ever imagine, is beginning to sink; and
the train-bearers to the cardinals complain that everything indicates a

A French colonel, being at Brussels a year after the taking of that
place by Marshal de Saxe, and having nothing to do, resolved to go to
the town assembly. "It is held at a princess'," said one to him. "Be it
so," answered the other, "what matters it to me?" "But only princes go
there; are you a prince?" "Pshaw!" said the colonel, "they are a very
good sort of princes; I had a dozen of them in my anteroom last year,
when we had taken the town, and they were very polite."

In turning over the leaves of "Horace" I observe this line in an epistle
to Mæcenas, "_Te, dulcis amice revisam_."--"I will come and see you, my
good friend." This Mæcenas was the second person in the Roman Empire;
that is, a man of greater power and influence than the greatest monarch
of modern Europe.

Looking into the works of Corneille, I observed that in a letter to the
great Scuderi, governor of Notre Dame de la Garde, etc., he uses this
expression in reference to Cardinal Richelieu: "Monsieur the cardinal,
your master and mine." It is, perhaps, the first time that such language
has been applied to a minister, since there have been ministers, kings
and flatterers in the world. The same Peter Corneille, the author of
"Cinna," humbly dedicates that work to the Sieur de Montauron, the
king's treasurer, whom in direct terms he compares to Augustus. I regret
that he did not give Montauron the title of monseigneur or my lord.

An anecdote is related of an old officer, but little conversant with the
precedents and formulas of vanity, who wrote to the Marquis Louvois as
plain monsieur, but receiving no answer, next addressed him under the
title of monseigneur, still, however, without effect, the unlucky
monsieur continuing to rankle in the minister's heart. He finally
directed his letter "to my God, my God Louvois"; commencing it by the
words, "my God, my Creator." Does not all this sufficiently prove that
the Romans were magnanimous and modest, and that we are frivolous and

"How d'ye do, my dear friend?" said a duke and peer to a gentleman. "At
your service, my dear friend," replied he; and from that instant his
"dear friend" became his implacable enemy. A grandee of Portugal was
once conversing with a Spanish hidalgo and addressing him every moment
in the terms, "your excellency." The Castilian as frequently replied,
"your courtesy" (_vuestra merced_), a title bestowed on those who have
none by right. The irritated Portuguese in return retorted "your
courtesy" on the Spaniard, who then called the Portuguese "your
excellency." The Portuguese, at length wearied out, demanded, "How is it
that you always call me your courtesy, when I call you your excellency,
and your excellency when I call you your courtesy?" "The reason is,"
says the Castilian with a bow, "that all titles are equal to me,
provided that there is nothing equal between you and me."

The vanity of titles was not introduced into our northern climes of
Europe till the Romans had become acquainted with Asiatic magnificence.
The greater part of the sovereigns of Asia were, and still are, cousins
german of the sun and the moon; their subjects dare not make any
pretension to such high affinity; and many a provincial governor, who
styles himself "nutmeg of consolation" and "rose of delight" would be
empaled alive if he were to claim the slightest relationship to the sun
and moon.

Constantine was, I think, the first Roman emperor who overwhelmed
Christian humility in a page of pompous titles. It is true that before
his time the emperors bore the title of god, but the term implied
nothing similar to what we understand by it. Divus Augustus, Divus
Trajanus, meant St. Augustus, St. Trajan. It was thought only
conformable to the dignity of the Roman Empire that the soul of its
chief should, after his death, ascend to heaven; and it frequently even
happened that the title of saint, of god, was granted to the emperor by
a sort of anticipated inheritance. Nearly for the same reason the first
patriarchs of the Christian church were all called "your holiness." They
were thus named to remind them of what in fact they ought to be.

Men sometimes take upon themselves very humble titles, provided they can
obtain from others very honorable ones. Many an abbé who calls himself
brother exacts from his monks the title of monseigneur. The pope styles
himself "servant of the servants of God." An honest priest of Holstein
once addressed a letter "to Pius IV., servant of the servants of God."
He afterwards went to Rome to urge his suit, and the inquisition put him
in prison to teach him how to address letters.

Formerly the emperor alone had the title of majesty. Other sovereigns
were called your highness, your serenity, your grace. Louis XI. was the
first in France who was generally called majesty, a title certainly not
less suitable to the dignity of a powerful hereditary kingdom than to an
elective principality. But long after him the term highness was applied
to kings of France; and some letters to Henry III. are still extant in
which he is addressed by that title. The states of Orleans objected to
Queen Catherine de Medici being called majesty. But this last
denomination gradually prevailed. The name is indifferent; it is the
power alone that is not so.

The German chancery, ever unchangeable in its stately formalities, has
pretended down to our own times that no kings have a right to a higher
title than serenity. At the celebrated treaty of Westphalia, in which
France and Sweden dictated the law to the holy Roman Empire, the
emperor's plenipotentiaries continually presented Latin memorials, in
which "his most sacred imperial majesty" negotiated with the "most
serene kings of France and Sweden"; while, on the other hand, the French
and Swedes fail not to declare that their "sacred majesties of France
and Sweden" had many subjects of complaint against the "most serene
emperor." Since that period, however, the great sovereigns have, in
regard to rank, been considered as equals, and he alone who beats his
neighbor is adjudged to have the pre-eminence.

Philip II. was the first majesty in Spain, for the serenity of Charles
V. was converted into majesty only on account of the empire. The
children of Philip II. were the first highnesses; and afterwards they
were royal highnesses. The duke of Orleans, brother of Louis XIII., did
not take up the title of royal highness till 1631; then the prince of
Condé claimed that the most serene highness, which the Dukes de Vendôme
did not venture to assume. The duke of Savoy, at that time royal
highness, afterwards substituted majesty. The grand duke of Florence
did the same, excepting as to majesty; and finally the czar, who was
known in Europe only as the grand duke, declared himself emperor, and
was recognized as such.

Formerly there were only two marquises in Germany, two in France and two
in Italy. The marquis of Brandenburg has become a king, and a great
king. But at present our Italian and French marquises are of a somewhat
different species.

If an Italian citizen has the honor of giving a dinner to the legate of
his province, and the legate, when drinking, says to him, "Monsieur le
marquis, to your good health," he suddenly becomes a marquis, he and his
heirs after him, forever. If the inhabitant of any province of France,
whose whole estate consists of a quarter part of a little decayed
castle-ward, goes to Paris, makes something of a fortune, or carries the
air of having made one, he is styled in the deeds and legal instruments
in which he is concerned "high and mighty seigneur, marquis and count,"
and his son will be denominated by his notary "very high and very mighty
seigneur," and as this frivolous ambition is in no way injurious to
government or civil society, it is permitted to take its course. Some
French lords boast of employing German barons in their stables; some
German lords say they have French marquises in their kitchens; it is not
a long time since a foreigner at Naples made his coachman a duke. Custom
in these cases has more power than royal authority. If you are but
little known at Paris, you may there be a count or a marquis as long as
you please; if you are connected with the law of finance, though the
king should confer on you a real marquisate, you will not, therefore, be
monsieur le marquis. The celebrated Samuel Bernard was, in truth, more a
count than five hundred such as we often see not possessing four acres
of land. The king had converted his estate of Coubert into a fine
county; yet if on any occasion he had ordered himself to be announced as
Count Bernard, etc., he would have excited bursts of laughter. In
England it is different; if the king confers the title of earl or baron
on a merchant, all classes address him with the designation suitable to
it without the slightest hesitation. By persons of the highest birth, by
the king himself, he is called my lord. It is the same in Italy; there
is a register kept there of monsignori. The pope himself addresses them
under that title; his physician is monsignor, and no one objects.

In France the title of monseigneur or my lord is a very serious
business. Before the time of Cardinal Richelieu a bishop was only "a
most reverend father in God."

Before the year 1635 bishops did not only not assume the title of
monseigneur themselves, but they did not even give it to cardinals.
These two customs were introduced by a bishop of Chartres, who, in full
canonicals of lawn and purple, went to call Cardinal Richelieu
monseigneur, on which occasion Louis XIII. observed that "Chartrain
would not mind saluting the cardinal _au derrière_."

It is only since that period that bishops have mutually applied to each
other the title of monseigneur.

The public made no objection to this application of it; but, as it was a
new title, not conferred on bishops by kings, they continued to be
called sieurs in edicts, declarations, ordinances and all official
documents; and when the council wrote to a bishop they gave him no
higher title than monsieur.

The dukes and peers have encountered more difficulty in acquiring
possession of the title of monseigneur. The _grande noblesse_, and what
is called the grand robe, decidedly refuse them that distinction. The
highest gratification of human pride consists in a man's receiving
titles of honor from those who conceive themselves his equals; but to
attain this is exceedingly difficult; pride always finds pride to
contend with.

When the dukes insisted on receiving the title of monseigneur from the
class of gentlemen, the presidents of the parliaments required the same
from advocates and proctors. A certain president actually refused to be
bled because his surgeon asked: "In which arm will you be bled,
monsieur?" An old counsellor treated this matter somewhat more gayly. A
pleader was saying to him, "Monseigneur, monsieur, your secretary"....
He stopped him short: "You have uttered three blunders," says he, "in
as many words. I am not monseigneur; my secretary is not monsieur; he is
my clerk."

To put an end to this grand conflict of vanity it will eventually be
found necessary to give the title of monseigneur to every individual in
the nation; as women, who were formerly content with mademoiselle, are
now to be called madame. In Spain, when a mendicant meets a brother
beggar, he thus accosts him: "Has your courtesy taken chocolate?" This
politeness of language elevates the mind and keeps up the dignity of the
species. Cæsar and Pompey were called in the senate Cæsar and Pompey.
But these men knew nothing of life. They ended their letters with
_vale_--adieu. We, who possess more exalted notions, were sixty years
ago "affectionate servants"; then "very humble and very obedient"; and
now we "have the honor to be" so. I really grieve for posterity, which
will find it extremely difficult to add to these very beautiful
formulas. The Duke d'Épernon, the first of Gascons in pride, though far
from being the first of statesmen, wrote on his deathbed to Cardinal
Richelieu and ended his letter with: "Your very humble and very
obedient." Recollecting, however, that the cardinal had used only the
phrase "very affectionate," he despatched an express to bring back the
letter (for it had been actually sent off), began it anew, signed "very
affectionate," and died in the bed of honor.

We have made many of these observations elsewhere. It is well, however,
to repeat them, were it only to correct some pompous peacocks, who would
strut away their lives in contemptibly displaying their plumes and their


I am certain; I have friends; my fortune is secure; my relations will
never abandon me; I shall have justice done me; my work is good, it will
be well received; what is owing to me will be paid; my friend will be
faithful, he has sworn it; the minister will advance me--he has, by the
way, promised it--all these are words which a man who has lived a short
time in the world erases from his dictionary.

When the judges condemned L'Anglade, Le Brun, Calas, Sirven, Martin,
Montbailli, and so many others, since acknowledged to have been
innocent, they were certain, or they ought to have been certain, that
all these unhappy men were guilty; yet they were deceived. There are two
ways of being deceived; by false judgment and self-blindness--that of
erring like a man of genius, and that of deciding like a fool.

The judges deceived themselves like men of genius in the affair of
L'Anglade; they were blinded by dazzling appearances and did not
sufficiently examine the probabilities on the other side. Their wisdom
made them believe it certain that L'Anglade had committed a theft, which
he certainly had not committed; and on this miserable _uncertain_
certainty of the human mind, a gentleman was put to the ordinary and
extraordinary question; subsequent thrown, without succor, into a
dungeon and condemned to the galleys, where he died. His wife was shut
up in another dungeon, with her daughter, aged seven years, who
afterwards married a counsellor of the same parliament which had
condemned her father to the galleys and her mother to banishment.

It is clear that the judges would not have pronounced this sentence had
they been really certain. However, even at the time this sentence was
passed several persons knew that the theft had been committed by a
priest named Gagnat, associated with a highwayman, and the innocence of
L'Anglade was not recognized till after his death.

They were in the same manner certain when, by a sentence in the first
instance, they condemned to the wheel the innocent Le Brun, who, by an
arrêt pronounced on his appeal, was broken on the rack, and died under
the torture.

The examples of Calas and Sirven are well known, that of Martin is less
so. He was an honest agriculturist near Bar in Lorraine. A villain stole
his dress and in this dress murdered a traveller whom he knew to have
money and whose route he had watched. Martin was accused, his dress was
a witness against him; the judges regarded this evidence as a certainty.
Not the past conduct of the prisoner, a numerous family whom he had
brought up virtuously, neither the little money found on him, nor the
extreme probability of his innocence--nothing could save him. The
subaltern judge made a merit of his rigor. He condemned the innocent
victim to be broken on the wheel, and, by an unhappy fatality the
sentence was executed to the full extent. The senior Martin is broken
alive, calling God to witness his innocence to his last breath; his
family is dispersed, his little property is confiscated, and scarcely
are his broken members exposed on the great road when the assassin who
had committed the murder and theft is put in prison for another crime,
and confesses on the rack, to which he is condemned in his turn, that he
only was guilty of the crime for which Martin had suffered torture and

Montbailli, who slept with his wife, was accused with having, in concert
with her, killed his mother, who had evidently died of apoplexy. The
council of Arras condemned Montbailli to expire on the rack, and his
wife to be burnt. Their innocence was discovered, but not until
Montbailli had been tortured. Let us cease advertence to these
melancholy adventures, which make us groan at the human condition; but
let us continue to lament the pretended certainty of judges, when they
pass such sentences.

There is no certainty, except when it is physically or morally
impossible that the thing can be otherwise. What! is a strict
demonstration necessary to enable us to assert that the surface of a
sphere is equal to four times the area of its great circle; and is not
one required to warrant taking away the life of a citizen by a
disgraceful punishment?

If such is the misfortune of humanity that judges must be contented with
extreme probabilities, they should at least consult the age, the rank,
the conduct of the accused--the interest which he could have in
committing the crime, and the interest of his enemies to destroy him.
Every judge should say to himself: Will not posterity, will not entire
Europe condemn my sentence? Shall I sleep tranquilly with my hands
tainted with innocent blood? Let us pass from this horrible picture to
other examples of a certainty which leads directly to error.

Why art thou loaded with chains, fanatical and unhappy Santon? Why hast
thou added a large iron ring on thy miserable scourge? It is because I
am certain of being one day placed in the first heaven, by the side of
our great prophet. Alas, my friend, come with me to the neighborhood of
Mount Athos and thou wilt see three thousand mendicants who are as
certain that thou wilt go to the gulf which is under the narrow bridge,
as that they will all go to the first heaven!

Stop, miserable Malabar widow, believe not the fool who persuades you
that you shall be reunited to your husband in all the delights of
another world, if you burn yourself on his funeral pile! No, I persist
in burning myself because I am certain of living in felicity with my
husband; my brahmin told me so.

Let us attend to less frightful certainties, and which have a little
more appearance of truth. What is the age of your friend Christopher?
Twenty-eight years. I have seen his marriage contract, and his baptismal
register; I knew him in his infancy; he is twenty-eight--I am certain of

Scarcely have I heard the answer of this man, so sure of what he said,
and of twenty others who confirmed the same thing, when I learn that for
secret reasons, and by a singular circumstance the baptismal register of
Christopher has been antedated. Those to whom I had spoken as yet know
nothing of it, yet they have still the same certainty of that which is

If you had asked the whole earth before the time of Copernicus: has the
sun risen? has it set to-day? all men would have answered: We are quite
certain of it. They were certain and they were in error.

Witchcraft, divinations, and possessions were for a long time the most
certain things in the world in the eyes of society. What an innumerable
crowd of people who have seen all these fine things and who have been
certain of them! At present this certainty is a little shaken.

A young man who is beginning to study geometry comes to me; he is only
at the definition of triangles. Are you not certain, said I to him, that
the three angles of a triangle are equal to two right angles? He
answered that not only was he not certain of it, but that he had not the
slightest idea of the proposition. I demonstrated it to him. He then
became very certain of it, and will remain so all his life. This is a
certainty very different from the others; they were only probabilities
and these probabilities, when examined, have turned out errors, but
mathematical certainty is immutable and eternal.

I exist, I think, I feel grief--is all that as certain as a geometrical
truth? Yes, skeptical as I am, I avow it. Why? It is that these truths
are proved by the same principle that it is impossible for a thing to
exist and not exist at the same time. I cannot at the same time feel and
not feel. A triangle cannot at the same time contain a hundred and
eighty degrees, which are the sum of two right angles, and not contain
them. The physical certainty of my existence, of my identity, is of the
same value as mathematical certainty, although it is of a different

It is not the same with the certainty founded on appearances, or on the
unanimous testimony of mankind.

But how, you will say to me, are you not certain that Pekin exists? Have
you not merchandise from Pekin? People of different countries and
different opinions have vehemently written against one another while
preaching the truth at Pekin; then are you not assured of the existence
of this town? I answer that it is extremely probable that there may be a
city of Pekin but I would not wager my life that such a town exists, and
I would at any time wager my life that the three angles of a triangle
are equal to two right angles.

In the "_Dictionnaire Encyclopédique_" a very pleasant thing appears. It
is there maintained that a man ought to be as certain that Marshal Saxe
rose from the dead, if all Paris tells him so, as he is sure that
Marshal Saxe gained the battle of Fontenoy, upon the same testimony.
Pray observe the beauty of this reasoning: as I believe all Paris when
it tells me a thing morally possible, I ought to believe all Paris when
it tells me a thing morally and physically impossible. Apparently the
author of this article has a disposition to be risible; as to ourselves
who have only undertaken this little dictionary to ask a few questions,
we are very far from possessing this very extensive certainty.


The gradation of beings rising from the lowest to the Great Supreme--the
scale of infinity--is an idea that fills us with admiration, but when
steadily regarded this phantom disappears, as apparitions were wont to
vanish at the crowing of the cock.

The imagination is pleased with the imperceptible transition from brute
matter to organized matter, from plants to zoophytes, from zoophytes to
animals, from animals to men, from men to genii, from these genii, clad
in a light aërial body, to immaterial substances of a thousand different
orders, rising from beauty to perfection, up to God Himself. This
hierarchy is very pleasing to young men who look upon it as upon the
pope and cardinals, followed by the archbishops and bishops, after whom
are the vicars, curates and priests, the deacons and subdeacons, then
come the monks, and the capuchins bring up the rear.

But there is, perhaps, a somewhat greater distance between God and His
most perfect creatures than between the holy father and the dean of the
sacred college. The dean may become pope, but can the most perfect genii
created by the Supreme Being become God? Is there not infinity between

Nor does this chain, this pretended gradation, any more exist in
vegetables and animals; the proof is that some species of plants and
animals have been entirely destroyed. We have no murex. The Jews were
forbidden to eat griffin and ixion, these two species, whatever Bochart
may say, have probably disappeared from the earth. Where, then, is the

Supposing that we had not lost some species, it is evident that they may
be destroyed. Lions and rhinoceroses are becoming very scarce, and if
the rest of the nations had imitated the English, there would not now
have been a wolf left. It is probable that there have been races of men
who are no longer to be found. Why should they not have existed as well
as the whites, the blacks, the Kaffirs, to whom nature has given an
apron of their own skin, hanging from the belly to the middle of the
thigh; the Samoyeds, whose women have nipples of a beautiful jet.

Is there not a manifest void between the ape and man? Is it not easy to
imagine a two-legged animal without feathers having intelligence without
our shape or the use of speech--one which we could tame, which would
answer our signs, and serve us? And again, between this species and man,
cannot we imagine others?

Beyond man, divine Plato, you place in heaven a string of celestial
substances, in some of which we believe because the faith so teaches us.
But what reason had you to believe in them? It does not appear that you
had spoken with the genius of Socrates, and though Heres, good man, rose
again on purpose to tell you the secrets of the other world, he told you
nothing of these substances. In the sensible universe the pretended
chain is no less interrupted.

What gradation, I pray you, is there among the planets? The moon is
forty times smaller than our globe. Travelling from the moon through
space, you find Venus, about as large as the earth. From thence you go
to Mercury, which revolves in an ellipsis very different from the
circular orbit of Venus; it is twenty-seven times smaller than the
earth, the sun is a million times larger, and Mars is five times
smaller. The latter goes his round in two years, his neighbor Jupiter in
twelve, and Saturn in thirty; yet Saturn, the most distant of all, is
not so large as Jupiter. Where is the pretended gradation?

And then, how, in so many empty spaces, do you extend a chain
connecting the whole? There can certainly be no other than that which
Newton discovered--that which makes all the globes of the planetary
world gravitate one towards another in the immense void.

Oh, much admired Plato! I fear that you have told us nothing but fables,
that you have spoken to us only as a sophist! Oh, Plato! you have done
more mischief than you are aware of. How so? you will ask. I will not
tell you.


The present, we say, is pregnant with the future; events are linked one
with another by an invincible fatality. This is the fate which, in
Homer, is superior to Jupiter himself. The master of gods and men
expressly declares that he cannot prevent his son Sarpedon from dying at
the time appointed. Sarpedon was born at the moment when it was
necessary that he should be born, and could not be born at any other; he
could not die elsewhere than before Troy; he could not be buried
elsewhere than in Lycia; his body must, in the appointed time, produce
vegetables, which must change into the substance of some of the Lycians;
his heirs must establish a new order of things in his states; that new
order must influence neighboring kingdoms; thence must result a new
arrangement in war and in peace with the neighbors of Lycia. So that,
from link to link, the destiny of the whole earth depended on the
elopement of Helen, which had a necessary connection with the marriage
of Hecuba, which, ascending to higher events, was connected with the
origin of things.

Had any one of these occurrences been ordered otherwise, the result
would have been a different universe. Now, it was not possible for the
actual universe not to exist; therefore it was not possible for Jupiter,
Jove as he was, to save the life of his son. We are told that this
doctrine of necessity and fatality has been invented in our own times by
Leibnitz, under the name of sufficing reason. It is, however, of great
antiquity. It is no recent discovery that there is no effect without a
cause and that often the smallest cause produces the greatest effects.

Lord Bolingbroke acknowledges that he was indebted to the petty quarrels
between the duchess of Marlborough and Mrs. Masham for an opportunity of
concluding the private treaty between Queen Anne and Louis XIV. This
treaty led to the peace of Utrecht; the peace of Utrecht secured the
throne of Spain to Philip V.; Philip took Naples and Sicily from the
house of Austria. Thus the Spanish prince, who is now king of Naples,
evidently owes his kingdom to Mrs. Masham; he would not have had it, nor
even have been born, if the duchess of Marlborough had been more
complaisant towards the queen of England; his existence at Naples
depended on one folly more or less at the court of London.

Examine the situations of every people upon earth; they are in like
manner founded on a train of occurrences seemingly without connection,
but all connected. In this immense machine all is wheel, pulley, cord,
or spring. It is the same in physical order. A wind blowing from the
southern seas and the remotest parts of Africa brings with it a portion
of the African atmosphere, which, falling in showers in the valleys of
the Alps, fertilizes our lands; on the other hand our north wind carries
our vapors among the negroes; we do good to Guinea, and Guinea to us.
The chain extends from one end of the universe to the other.

But the truth of this principle seems to me to be strangely abused; for
it is thence concluded that there is no atom, however small, the
movement of which has not influenced the actual arrangement of the whole
world; that the most trivial accident, whether among men or animals, is
an essential link in the great chain of destiny.

Let us understand one another. Every effect evidently has its cause,
ascending from cause to cause, into the abyss of eternity; but every
cause has not its effect, going down to the end of ages. I grant that
all events are produced one by another; if the past was pregnant with
the present, the present is pregnant with the future; everything is
begotten, but everything does not beget. It is a genealogical tree;
every house, we know, ascends to Adam, but many of the family have died
without issue.

The events of this world form a genealogical tree. It is indisputable
that the inhabitants of Spain and Gaul are descended from Gomer, and the
Russians from his younger brother Magog, for in how many great books is
this genealogy to be found! It cannot then be denied that the grand
Turk, who is also descended from Magog, is obliged to him for the good
beating given him in 1769 by the Empress Catherine II. This occurrence
is evidently linked with other great events; but whether Magog spat to
the right or to the left near Mount Caucasus--made two or three circles
in a well--or whether he lay on his right side or his left, I do not see
that it could have much influence on present affairs.

It must be remembered, because it is proved by Newton, that nature is
not a plenum, and that motion is not communicated by collision until it
has made the tour of the universe. Throw a body of a certain density
into water, you easily calculate that at the end of such a time the
movement of this body, and that which it has given to the water, will
cease; the motion will be lost and rest will be restored. So the motion
produced by Magog in spitting into a well cannot have influenced what is
now passing in Moldavia and Wallachia. Present events, then, are not the
offspring of all past events, they have their direct lines, but with a
thousand small collateral fines they have nothing to do. Once more be it
observed that every being has a parent but every one has not an


When we have seen with our own eyes a mountain advancing into a
plain--that is, an immense rock detached from that mountain, and
covering the fields, an entire castle buried in the earth, or a
swallowed-up river bursting from below, indubitable marks of an immense
mass of water having once inundated a country now inhabited, and so many
traces of other revolutions, we are even more disposed to believe in the
great changes that have altered the face of the world than a Parisian
lady who knows that the square in which her house stands was formerly a
cultivated field, but a lady of Naples who has seen the ruins of
Herculaneum underground is still less enthralled by the prejudice which
leads us to believe that everything has always been as it now is.

Was there a great burning of the world in the time of Phaethon? Nothing
is more likely, but this catastrophe was no more caused by the ambition
of Phaethon or the anger of Jupiter the Thunderer than at Lisbon, in
1755, the Divine vengeance was drawn down, the subterraneous fires
kindled, and half the city destroyed by the fires so often lighted there
by the inquisition--besides, we know that Mequinez, Tetuan and
considerable hordes of Arabs have been treated even worse than Lisbon,
though they had no inquisition. The island of St. Domingo, entirely
devastated not long ago, had no more displeased the Great Being than
the island of Corsica; all is subject to eternal physical laws.

Sulphur, bitumen, nitre, and iron, enclosed within the bowels of the
earth have overturned many a city, opened many a gulf, and we are
constantly liable to these accidents attached to the way in which this
globe is put together, just as, in many countries during winter, we are
exposed to the attacks of famishing wolves and tigers. If fire, which
Heraclitus believed to be the principle of all, has altered the face of
a part of the earth, Thales's first principle, water, has operated as
great changes.

One-half of America is still inundated by the ancient overflowings of
the Maranon, Rio de la Plata, the St. Lawrence, the Mississippi, and all
the rivers perpetually swelled by the eternal snows of the highest
mountains in the world, stretching from one end of that continent to the
other. These accumulated floods have almost everywhere produced vast
marshes. The neighboring lands have become uninhabitable, and the earth,
which the hands of man should have made fruitful, has produced only

The same thing happened in China and in Egypt: a multitude of ages were
necessary to dig canals and dry the lands. Add to these lengthened
disasters the irruptions of the sea, the lands it has invaded and
deserted, the islands it has detached from the continent and you will
find that from east to west, from Japan to Mount Atlas, it has
devastated more than eighty thousand square leagues.

The swallowing up of the island Atlantis from the ocean may, with as
much reason, be considered historical, as fabulous. The shallowness of
the Atlantic as far as the Canaries might be taken as a proof of this
great event and the Canaries themselves for fragments of the island

Plato tells us in his "_Timæus_," that the Egyptian priests, among whom
he had travelled, had in their possession ancient registers which
certified that island's going under water. Plato says that this
catastrophe happened nine thousand years before his time. No one will
believe this chronology on Plato's word only, but neither can any one
adduce against it any physical proof, nor even a historical testimony
from any profane writer.

Pliny, in his third book, says that from time immemorial the people of
the southern coasts of Spain believed that the sea had forced a passage
between Calpe and Abila: _"Indigenæ columnas Herculis vocant, creduntque
per fossas exclusa antea admisisse maria, et rerum naturæ mutasse

An attentive traveller may convince himself by his own eyes that the
Cyclades and the Sporades were once part of the continent of Greece, and
especially that Sicily was once joined to Apulia. The two volcanos of
Etna and Vesuvius having the same basis in the sea, the little gulf of
Charybdis, the only deep part of that sea, the perfect resemblance of
the two soils are incontrovertible testimonies. The floods of Deucalion
and Ogyges are well known, and the fables founded upon this truth are
still more the talk of all the West.

The ancients have mentioned several deluges in Asia. The one spoken of
by Berosus happened (as he tells us) in Chaldæa, about four thousand
three, or four hundred years before the Christian era, and Asia was as
much inundated with fables about this deluge as it was by the
overflowings of the Tigris and Euphrates, and all the rivers that fall
into the Euxine.

It is true that such overflowings cannot cover the country with more
than a few feet of water, but the consequent sterility, the washing away
of houses, and the destruction of cattle are losses which it requires
nearly a century to repair. We know how much they have cost Holland,
more than the half of which has been lost since the year 1050. She is
still obliged to maintain a daily conflict with the ever-threatening
ocean. She has never employed so many soldiers in resisting her enemies
as she employs laborers in continually defending her against the
assaults of a sea always ready to swallow her.

The road from Egypt to Phœnicia, along the borders of Lake Serbo, was
once quite practicable, but it has long ceased to be so; it is now
nothing but a quicksand, moistened by stagnant water. In short, a great
portion of the earth would be no other than a vast poisonous marsh
inhabited by monsters, but for the assiduous labor of the human race.

We shall not here speak of the universal deluge of Noah. Let it suffice
to read the Holy Scriptures with submission. Noah's flood was an
incomprehensible miracle supernaturally worked by the justice and
goodness of an ineffable Providence whose will it was to destroy the
whole guilty human race and form a new and innocent race. If the new
race was more wicked than the former, and became more criminal from age
to age, from reformation to reformation, this is but another effect of
the same Providence, of which it is impossible for us to fathom the
depths, the inconceivable mysteries transmitted to the nations of the
West for many ages, in the Latin translation of the Septuagint. We shall
never enter these awful sanctuaries; our questions will be limited to
simple nature.


[From the Greek word signifying _Impression_, _Engraving_.--It is what
nature has engraved in us.]

Can we change our character? Yes, if we change our body. A man born
turbulent, violent, and inflexible, may, through falling in his old age
into an apoplexy, become like a silly, weak, timid, puling child. His
body is no longer the same, but so long as his nerves, his blood, and
his marrow remain in the same state his disposition will not change any
more than the instinct of a wolf or a polecat. The English author of
"The Dispensary," a poem much superior to the Italian "_Capitoli_" and
perhaps even to Boileau's "_Lutrin_", has, as it seems to me, well

     How matter, by the varied shape of pores,
     Or idiots frames, or solemn senators.

The character is formed of our ideas and our feelings. Now it is quite
clear that we neither give ourselves feelings nor ideas, therefore our
character cannot depend on ourselves. If it did so depend, every one
would be perfect. We cannot give ourselves tastes, nor talents, why,
then, should we give ourselves qualities? When we do not reflect we
think we are masters of all: when we reflect we find that we are masters
of nothing.

If you would absolutely change a man's character purge him with diluents
till he is dead. Charles XII., in his illness on the way to Bender, was
no longer the same man; he was as tractable as a child. If I have a wry
nose and cat's eyes I can hide them behind a mask, and can I do more
with the character that nature has given me?

A man born violent and passionate presents himself before Francis I.,
king of France, to complain of a trespass. The countenance of the
prince, the respectful behavior of the courtiers, the very place he is
in make a powerful impression upon this man. He mechanically casts down
his eyes, his rude voice is softened, he presents his petition with
humility, you would think him as mild as (at that moment at least) the
courtiers appear to be, among whom he is often disconcerted, but if
Francis I. knows anything of physiognomy, he will easily discover in his
eye, though downcast, glistening with a sullen fire, in the extended
muscles of his face, in his fast-closed lips, that this man is not so
mild as he is forced to appear. The same man follows him to Pavia, is
taken prisoner along with him and thrown into the same dungeon at
Madrid. The majesty of Francis I. no longer awes him as before, he
becomes familiar with the object of his reverence. One day, pulling on
the king's boots, and happening to pull them on ill, the king, soured by
misfortune, grows angry, on which our man of courtesy wishes his majesty
at the devil and throws his boots out the window.

Sixtus V. was by nature petulant, obstinate, haughty, impetuous,
vindictive, arrogant. This character, however, seems to have been
softened by the trials of his novitiate. But see him beginning to
acquire some influence in his order; he flies into a passion against a
guardian and knocks him down. Behold him an inquisitor at Venice, he
exercises his office with insolence. Behold him cardinal; he is
possessed _della rabbia papale_; this rage triumphs over his natural
propensities; he buries his person and his character in obscurity and
counterfeits humility and infirmity. He is elected pope, and the spring
which policy had held back now acts with all the force of its
long-restrained elasticity; he is the proudest and most despotic of

     _Naturam expellas furea, tamen usque recurret._
     Howe'er expelled, nature will still return.

Religion and morality curb the strength of the disposition, but they
cannot destroy it. The drunkard in a cloister, reduced to a quarter of a
pint of cider each meal will never more get drunk, but he will always be
fond of wine.

Age weakens the character; it is as an old tree producing only a few
degenerate fruits, but always of the same nature, which is covered with
knots and moss and becomes worm-eaten, but is ever the same, whether oak
or pear tree. If we could change our character we could give ourselves
one and become the master of nature. Can we give ourselves anything? do
not we receive everything? To strive to animate the indolent man with
persevering activity, to freeze with apathy the boiling blood of the
impetuous, to inspire a taste for poetry into him who has neither taste
nor ear were as futile as to attempt to give sight to one born blind. We
perfect, we ameliorate, we conceal what nature has placed in us, but we
place nothing there ourselves.

An agriculturist is told: "You have too many fish in this pond; they
will not thrive, here are too many cattle in your meadows; they will
want grass and grow lean." After this exhortation the pikes come and eat
one-half this man's carps, the wolves one-half of his sheep, and the
rest fatten. And will you applaud his economy? This countryman is
yourself; one of your passions devours the rest and you think you have
gained a triumph. Do we not almost all resemble the old general of
ninety, who, having found some young officers behaving in a rather
disorderly manner with some young women, said to them in anger:
"Gentlemen, is this the example that I set you?"



Cicero frequently speaks of universal charity, _charitas humani
generis_; but it does not appear that the policy or the beneficence of
the Romans ever induced them to establish charitable institutions, in
which the indigent and the sick might be relieved at the expense of the
public. There was a receptacle for strangers at the port of Ostia,
called Xenodokium, St. Jerome renders this justice to the Romans.
Almshouses seem to have been unknown in ancient Rome. A more noble usage
prevailed--that of supplying the people with corn. There were in Rome
three hundred and twenty-seven public granaries. This constant
liberality precluded any need of alms-houses. They were strangers to

Neither was there any occasion among the Romans for founding charities.
None exposed their own children. Those of slaves were taken care of by
their masters. Childbirth was not deemed disgraceful to the daughters of
citizens. The poorest families, maintained by the republic and
afterwards by the emperors, saw the subsistence of their children

The expression, "charitable establishment," _maison de charité_, implies
a state of indigence among modern nations which the form of our
governments has not been able to preclude.

The word "hospital," which recalls that of hospitality, reminds us of a
virtue in high estimation among the Greeks, now no longer existing; but
it also expresses a virtue far superior. There is a mighty difference
between lodging, maintaining, and providing in sickness for all
afflicted applicants whatever, and entertaining in your own house two or
three travellers by whom you might claim a right to be entertained in
return. Hospitality, after all, was but an exchange. Hospitals are
monuments of beneficence.

It is true that the Greeks were acquainted with charitable institutions
under the name of _Xenodokia_, for strangers, _Nosocomeia_, for the
sick, and _Ptokia_, for the indigent. In Diogenes Laertius, concerning
Bion, we find this passage: "He suffered much from the indigence of
those who were charged with the care of the sick."

Hospitality among friends was called _Idioxenia_, and among strangers
_Proxenia_. Hence, the person who received and entertained strangers in
his house, in the name of the whole city, was called _Proxenos_. But
this institution appears to have been exceedingly rare. At the present
day there is scarcely a city in Europe without its hospitals. The Turks
have them even for beasts, which seems to be carrying charity rather too
far, it would be better to forget the beasts and think more about men.

This prodigious multitude of charitable establishments clearly proves a
truth deserving of all our attention--that man is not so depraved as he
is stated to be, and that, notwithstanding all his absurd opinions,
notwithstanding all the horrors of war which transform him into a
ferocious beast, we have reason to consider him as a creature naturally
well disposed and kind, and who, like other animals, becomes vicious
only in proportion as he is stung by provocation.

The misfortune is that he is provoked too often.

Modern Rome has almost as many charitable institutions as ancient Rome
had triumphal arches and other monuments of conquest. The most
considerable of them all is a bank which lends money at two per cent.
upon pledge, and sells the property if the borrower does not redeem it
by an appointed time. This establishment is called the _Archiospedale_,
or chief hospital. It is said always to contain within its walls nearly
two thousand sick, which would be about the fiftieth part of the
population of Rome for this one house alone, without including the
children brought up, and the pilgrims lodged there. Where are the
computations which do not require abatement?

Has it not been actually published at Rome that the hospital of the
Trinity had lodged and maintained for three days four hundred and forty
thousand five hundred male and twenty-five thousand female pilgrims at
the jubilee in 1600? Has not Misson himself told us that the hospital of
the Annunciation at Naples possesses a rental of two millions in our
money? (About four hundred thousand dollars.)

However, to return, perhaps a charitable establishment for pilgrims who
are generally mere vagabonds, is rather an encouragement to idleness
than an act of humanity. It is, however, a decisive evidence of humanity
that Rome contains fifty charitable establishments including all
descriptions. These beneficent institutions are quite as useful and
respectable as the riches of some monasteries and chapels are useless
and ridiculous.

To dispense food, clothing, medicine, and aid of every kind, to our
brethren, is truly meritorious, but what need can a saint have of gold
and diamonds? What benefit results to mankind from "our Lady of Loretto"
possessing more gorgeous treasures than the Turkish sultan? Loretto is a
house of vanity, and not of charity. London, reckoning its charity
schools, has as many beneficent establishments as Rome.

The most beautiful monument of beneficence ever erected is the Hôtel des
Invalides, founded by Louis XIV.

Of all hospitals, that in which the greatest number of indigent sick are
daily received is the Hôtel Dieu of Paris. It frequently contains four
or five thousand inmates at a time. It is at once the receptacle of all
the dreadful ills to which mankind are subject and the temple of true
virtue, which consists in relieving them.

It is impossible to avoid frequently drawing a contrast between a fête
at Versailles or an opera at Paris, in which all the pleasures and all
the splendors of life are combined with the most exquisite art, and a
Hôtel Dieu, where all that is painful, all that is loathsome, and even
death itself are accumulated in one mass of horror. Such is the
composition of great cities! By an admirable policy pleasures and luxury
are rendered subservient to misery and pain. The theatres of Paris pay
on an average the yearly sum of a hundred thousand crowns to the
hospital. It often happens in these charitable institutions that the
inconveniences counterbalance the advantages. One proof of the abuses
attached to them is that patients dread the very idea of being removed
to them.

The Hôtel Dieu, for example, was formerly well situated, in the middle
of the city, near the bishop's palace. The situation now is very bad,
for the city has become overgrown; four or five patients are crowded
into every bed, the victim of scurvy communicates it to his neighbor and
in return receives from him smallpox, and a pestilential atmosphere
spreads incurable disease and death, not only through the building
destined to restore men to healthful life but through a great part of
the city which surrounds it.

M. de Chamousset, one of the most valuable and active of citizens, has
computed, from accurate authorities, that in the Hôtel Dieu, a fourth
part of the patients die, an eighth in the hospital of Charity, a ninth
in the London hospitals, and a thirtieth in those of Versailles. In the
great and celebrated hospital of Lyons, which has long been one of the
best conducted in Europe, the average mortality has been found to be
only one-fifteenth. It has been often proposed to divide the Hôtel Dieu
of Paris into smaller establishments better situated, more airy, and
salubrious, but money has been wanting to carry the plan into execution.

     _Curtae nescio quid semper abest rei._

Money is always to be found when men are to be sent to the frontiers to
be destroyed, but when the object is to preserve them it is no longer
so. Yet the Hôtel Dieu of Paris has a revenue amounting to more than a
million (forty thousand pounds), and every day increasing, and the
Parisians have rivalled each other in their endowments of it.

We cannot help remarking in this place that Germain Brice, in his
"Description of Paris," speaking of some legacies bequeathed by the
first president, Bellievre, to the hall of the Hôtel Dieu, named St.
Charles, says: "Every one ought to read the beautiful inscription,
engraved in letters of gold on a grand marble tablet, and composed by
Oliver Patru, one of the choicest spirits of his time, some of whose
pleadings are extant and in very high esteem.

"Whoever thou art that enterest this sacred place thou wilt almost
everywhere behold traces of the charity of the great Pomponne. The gold
and silver tapestry and the exquisite furniture which formerly adorned
his apartments are now, by a happy metamorphosis, made to minister to
the necessities of the sick. That divine man, who was the ornament and
delight of his age, even in his conflict with death, considered how he
might relieve the afflicted. The blood of Bellievre was manifested in
every action of his life. The glory of his embassies is full well
known," etc.

The useful Chamousset did better than Germain Brice, or than Oliver
Patru, "one of the choicest spirits of his time." He offered to
undertake at his own expense, backed by a responsible company, the
following contract:

The administrators of the Hôtel Dieu estimated the cost of every
patient, whether killed or cured, at fifty livres. M. Chamousset and the
company offered to undertake the business, on receiving fifty livres on
recovery only. The deaths were to be thrown out of the account, of which
the expenses were to be borne by himself.

The proposal was so very advantageous that it was not accepted. It was
feared that he would not be able to accomplish it. Every abuse attempted
to be reformed is the patrimony of those who have more influence than
the reformers.

A circumstance no less singular is that the Hôtel Dieu alone has the
privilege of selling meat in Lent, for its own advantage and it loses
money thereby. M. Chamousset proposed to enter into a contract by which
the establishment would gain; his offer was rejected and the butcher,
who was thought to have suggested it to him, was dismissed.

     _Ainsi chez les humains, par un abus fatal,_
     _Le bien le plus parfait est la source du mal._

     Thus serious ill, if tainted by abuse,
     The noblest works of man will oft produce.


Charles IX., king of France, was, we are told, a good poet. It is quite
certain that while he lived his verses were admired. Brantôme does not,
indeed, tell us that this king was the best poet in Europe, but he
assures us that "he made very genteel quatrains impromptu, without
thinking (for he had seen several of them), and when it was wet or
gloomy weather, or very hot, he would send for the poets into his
cabinet and pass his time there with them."

Had he always passed his time thus, and, above all, had he made good
verses, we should not have had a St. Bartholomew, he would not have
fired with a carbine through his window upon his own subjects, as if
they had been a covey of partridges. Is it not impossible for a good
poet to be a barbarian? I am persuaded it is.

These lines, addressed in his name to Ronsard, have been attributed to

     _La lyre, qui ravit par de si doux accords,_
     _Te soumets les esprits dont je n'ai que les corps;_
     _Le maître elle t'en rend, et te fait introduire_
     _Où le plus fier tyran ne peut avoir d'empire._

     The lyre's delightful softly swelling lay
     Subdues the mind, I but the body sway;
     Make thee its master, thy sweet art can bind
     What haughty tyrants cannot rule--the mind.

These lines are good. But are they his? Are they not his preceptor's?
Here are some of his royal imaginings, which are somewhat different:

     _Il faut suivre ton roi qui t'aime par sur tous_
     _Pour les vers qui de toi coulent braves et doux;_
     _Et crois, si tu ne viens me trouver à Pontoise,_
     _Qu'entre nous adviendra une très-grande noise._

     Know, thou must follow close thy king, who oft
     Hath heard, and loves thee for, thy verse so soft;
     Unless thou come and meet me at Pontoise,
     Believe me, I shall make no little noise.

These are worthy the author of the massacre of St. Bartholomew. Cæsar's
lines on Terence are written with rather more spirit and taste; they
breathe Roman urbanity. In those of Francis I. and Charles IX. we find
the barbarism of the Celts. Would to God that Charles IX. had written
more verses, even though bad ones! For constant application to the fine
arts softens the manners and dispels ferocity:

     _Emollit mores, nec sinit esse feros._

Besides, the French languages scarcely began to take any form until long
after Charles IX. See such of Francis I.'s letters as have been
preserved: "_Tout est perdu hors l'honneur_"--"All is lost save
honor"--was worthy of a chevalier. But the following is neither in the
style of Cicero nor in that of Cæsar:


"_Tout a fleure ynsi que je me volois mettre o lit est arrivé Laval qui
m'a aporté la serteneté du lévement du siege."_

"All was going so well that, when I was going to bed Laval arrived, and
brought me the certainty of the siege being raised."

We have letters from the hand of Louis XIII., which are no better
written. It is not required of a king to write letters like Pliny, or
verses like Virgil; but no one can be excused from expressing himself
with propriety in his own tongue. Every prince that writes like a lady's
maid has been ill educated.



We have frequently observed elsewhere, how rash and injudicious it is to
controvert with any nation, such as the Chinese, its authentic
pretensions. There is no house in Europe, the antiquity of which is so
well proved as that of the Empire of China. Let us figure to ourselves a
learned Maronite of Mount Athos questioning the nobility of the
Morozini, the Tiepolo, and other ancient houses of Venice; of the
princes of Germany, of the Montmorencys, the Chatillons, or the
Talleyrands, of France, under the pretence that they are not mentioned
in St. Thomas, or St. Bonaventure. We must impeach either his sense or
his sincerity.

Many of the learned of our northern climes have felt confounded at the
antiquity claimed by the Chinese. The question, however, is not one of
learning. Leaving all the Chinese literati, all the mandarins, all the
emperors, to acknowledge Fo-hi as one of the first who gave laws to
China, about two thousand five hundred years before our vulgar era;
admit that there must be people before there are kings. Allow that a
long period of time is necessary before a numerous people, having
discovered the necessary arts of life, unite in the choice of a common
governor. But if you do not make these admissions, it is not of the
slightest consequence. Whether you agree with us or not, we shall always
believe that two and two make four.

In a western province, formerly called Celtica, the love of singularity
and paradox has been carried so far as to induce some to assert that the
Chinese were only an Egyptian, or rather perhaps a Phœnician colony.
It was attempted to prove, in the same way as a thousand other things
have been proved, that a king of Egypt, called Menes by the Greeks, was
the Chinese King Yu; and that Atoes was Ki, by the change of certain
letters. In addition to which, the following is a specimen of the
reasoning applied to the subject:

The Egyptians sometimes lighted torches at night. The Chinese light
lanterns: the Chinese are, therefore, evidently a colony from Egypt. The
Jesuit Parennin who had, at the time, resided five and twenty years in
China, and was master both of its language and its sciences, has
rejected all these fancies with a happy mixture of elegance and
sarcasm. All the missionaries, and all the Chinese, on receiving the
intelligence that a country in the extremity of the west was developing
a new formation of the Chinese Empire, treated it with a contemptuous
ridicule. Father Parennin replied with somewhat more seriousness: "Your
Egyptians," said he, "when going to people China, must evidently have
passed through India." Was India at that time peopled or not? If it was,
would it permit a foreign army to pass through it? If it was not, would
not the Egyptians have stopped in India? Would they have continued their
journey through barren deserts, and over almost impracticable mountains,
till they reached China, in order to form colonies there, when they
might so easily have established them on the fertile banks of the Indus
or the Ganges?

The compilers of a universal history, printed in England, have also
shown a disposition to divest the Chinese of their antiquity, because
the Jesuits were the first who made the world acquainted with China.
This is unquestionably a very satisfactory reason for saying to a whole
nation--"You are liars."

It appears to me a very important reflection, which may be made on the
testimony given by Confucius, to the antiquity of his nation; and which
is, that Confucius had no interest in falsehood: he did not pretend to
be a prophet; he claimed no inspiration: he taught no new religion; he
used no delusions; flattered not the emperor under whom he lived: he
did not even mention him. In short, he is the only founder of
institutions among mankind who was not followed by a train of women. I
knew a philosopher who had no other portrait than that of Confucius in
his study. At the bottom of it were written the following lines:

     Without assumption he explored the mind,
     Unveiled the light of reason to mankind;
     Spoke as a sage, and never as a seer,
     Yet, strange to say, his country held him dear.

I have read his books with attention; I have made extracts from them; I
have found in them nothing but the purest morality, without the
slightest tinge of charlatanism. He lived six hundred years before our
vulgar era. His works were commented on by the most learned men of the
nation. If he had falsified, if he had introduced a false chronology, if
he had written of emperors who never existed, would not some one have
been found, in a learned nation, who would have reformed his chronology?
One Chinese only has chosen to contradict him, and he met with universal

Were it worth our while, we might here compare the great wall of China
with the monuments of other nations, which have never even approached
it; and remark, that, in comparison with this extensive work, the
pyramids of Egypt are only puerile and useless masses. We might dwell on
the thirty-two eclipses calculated in the ancient chronology of China,
twenty-eight of which have been verified by the mathematicians of
Europe. We might show, that the respect entertained by the Chinese for
their ancestors is an evidence that such ancestors have existed; and
repeat the observation, so often made, that this reverential respect has
in so small degree impeded, among this people, the progress of natural
philosophy, geometry, and astronomy.

It is sufficiently known, that they are, at the present day, what we all
were three hundred years ago, very ignorant reasoners. The most learned
Chinese is like one of the learned of Europe in the fifteenth century,
in possession of his Aristotle. But it is possible to be a very bad
natural philosopher, and at the same time an excellent moralist. It is,
in fact, in morality, in political economy, in agriculture, in the
necessary arts of life, that the Chinese have made such advances towards
perfection. All the rest they have been taught by us: in these we might
well submit to become their disciples.

_Of the Expulsion of the Missionaries from China._

Humanly speaking, independently of the service which the Jesuits might
confer on the Christian religion, are they not to be regarded as an
ill-fated class of men, in having travelled from so remote a distance to
introduce trouble and discord into one of the most extended and
best-governed kingdoms of the world? And does not their conduct involve
a dreadful abuse of the liberality and indulgence shown by the
Orientals, more particularly after the torrents of blood shed, through
their means, in the empire of Japan? A scene of horror, to prevent the
consequence of which the government believed it absolutely indispensable
to shut their ports against all foreigners.

The Jesuits had obtained permission of the emperor of China, Cam-hi, to
teach the Catholic religion. They made use of it, to instil into the
small portion of the people under their direction, that it was incumbent
on them to serve no other master than him who was the viceregent of God
on earth, and who dwelt in Italy on the banks of a small river called
the Tiber; that every other religious opinion, every other worship, was
an abomination in the sight of God, and whoever did not believe the
Jesuits would be punished by Him to all eternity; that their emperor and
benefactor, Cam-hi, who could not even pronounce the name of Christ, as
the Chinese language possesses not the letter "r," would suffer eternal
damnation; that the Emperor Yontchin would experience, without mercy,
the same fate; that all the ancestors, both of Chinese and Tartars,
would incur a similar penalty; that their descendants would undergo it
also, as well as the rest of the world; and that the reverend fathers,
the Jesuits, felt a sincere and paternal commiseration for the damnation
of so many souls.

They, at length, succeeded in making converts of three princes of the
Tartar race. In the meantime, the Emperor Cam-hi died, towards the close
of the year 1722. He bequeathed the empire to his fourth son, who has
been so celebrated through the whole world for the justice and the
wisdom of his government, for the affection entertained for him by his
subjects, and for the expulsion of the Jesuits.

They began by baptizing the three princes, and many persons of their
household. These neophytes had the misfortune to displease the emperor
on some points which merely respected military duty. About this very
period the indignation of the whole empire against the missionaries
broke out into a flame. All the governors of provinces, all the Colaos,
presented memorials against them. The accusations against them were
urged so far that the three princes, who had become disciples of the
Jesuits, were put into irons.

It is clear that they were not treated with this severity simply for
having been baptized, since the Jesuits themselves acknowledge in their
letters, that _they_ experienced no violence, and that they were even
admitted to an audience of the emperor, who honored them with some
presents. It is evident, therefore, that the Emperor Yonchin was no
persecutor; and, if the princes were confined in a prison on the borders
of Tartary, while those who had converted them were treated so
liberally, it is a decided proof that they were state prisoners, and not

The emperor, soon after this, yielded to the supplications of all his
people. They petitioned that the Jesuits might be sent away, as their
abolition has been since prayed for in France and other countries. All
the tribunals of China urged their being immediately sent to Macao,
which is considered as a place without the limits of the empire, and the
possession of which has always been left to the Portuguese, with a
Chinese garrison.

Yonchin had the humanity to consult the tribunals and governors, whether
any danger could result from conveying all the Jesuits to the province
of Canton. While awaiting the reply, he ordered three of them to be
introduced to his presence, and addressed them in the following words,
which Father Parennin, with great ingenuousness, records: "Your
Europeans, in the province of Fo-Kien, intended to abolish our laws, and
disturbed our people. The tribunals have denounced them before me. It is
my positive duty to provide against such disorders: the good of the
empire requires it.... What would you say were I to send over to your
country a company of bonzes and lamas to preach their law? How would you
receive them?... If you deceived my father, hope not also to deceive
me.... You wish to make the Chinese Christians: your law, I well know,
requires this of you. But in case you should succeed, what should we
become? the subjects of your kings. Christians believe none but you: in
a time of confusion they would listen to no voice but yours. I know
that, at present, there is nothing to fear; but on the arrival of a
thousand, or perhaps ten thousand vessels, great disturbances might

"China, on the north, joins the kingdom of Russia, which is by no means
contemptible; to the south it has the Europeans, and their kingdoms,
which are still more considerable; and to the west, the princes of
Tartary, with whom we have been at war eight years.... Laurence Lange,
companion of Prince Ismailoff, ambassador from the czar, requested that
the Russians might have permission to establish factories in each of the
provinces. The permission was confined to Pekin, and within the limits
of Calcas. In like manner I permit you to remain here and at Canton as
long as you avoid giving any cause of complaint. Should you give any, I
will not suffer you to remain either here or at Canton."

In the other provinces their houses and churches were levelled to the
ground. At length the clamor against them redoubled. The charges most
strenuously insisted upon against them were, that they weakened the
respect of children for their parents, by not paying the honors due to
ancestors; that they indecently brought together young men and women in
retired places, which they called churches; that they made girls kneel
before them, and enclosed them with their legs, and conversed with them,
while in this posture, in undertones. To Chinese delicacy, nothing
appeared more revolting than this. Their emperor, Yonchin, even
condescended to inform the Jesuits of this fact; after which he sent
away the greater part of the missionaries to Macao, but with all that
polite attention which perhaps the Chinese alone are capable of

Some Jesuits, possessed of mathematical science, were retained at
Pekin; and among others, that same Parennin whom we have mentioned; and
who, being a perfect master both of the Chinese and of the Tartar
language, had been frequently employed as an interpreter. Many of the
Jesuits concealed themselves in the distant provinces; others even in
Canton itself; and the affair was connived at.

At length, after the death of the Emperor Yonchin, his son and
successor, Kien-Lung, completed the satisfaction of the nation by
compelling all the missionaries who were in concealment throughout his
empire to remove to Macao: a solemn edict prevented them from ever
returning. If any appear, they are civilly requested to carry their
talents somewhere else. There is nothing of severity, nothing of
persecution. I have been told that, in 1760, a Jesuit having gone from
Rome to Canton, and been informed against by a Dutch factor, the Colao
governor of Canton had him sent away, presenting him at the same time
with a piece of silk, some provisions, and money.

_Of the pretended Atheism of China._

The charge of Atheism, alleged by our theologians of the west, against
the Chinese government at the other end of the world, has been
frequently examined, and is, it must be admitted, the meanest excess of
our follies and pedantic inconsistencies. It was sometimes pretended, in
one of our learned faculties, that the Chinese tribunals or parliaments
were idolatrous; sometimes that they acknowledged no divinity whatever:
and these reasoners occasionally pushed their logic so far as to
maintain that the Chinese were, at the same time, atheists and

In the month of October, 1700, the Sorbonne declared every proposition
which maintained that the emperor and the Colaos believed in God to be
heretical. Bulky volumes were composed in order to demonstrate,
conformably to the system of theological demonstration, that the Chinese
adored nothing but the material heaven.

     _Nil praeter nubes et coeli numen adorant._
     They worship clouds and firmament alone.

But if they did adore the material heaven, that was their God. They
resembled the Persians, who are said to have adored the sun: they
resembled the ancient Arabians, who adored the stars: they were neither
worshippers of idols nor atheists. But a learned doctor, when it is an
object to denounce from his tripod any proposition as heretical or
obnoxious, does not distinguish with much clearness.

Those contemptible creatures who, in 1700, created such a disturbance
about the material heaven of the Chinese, did not know that, in 1689,
the Chinese, having made peace with the Russians at Nicptchou, which
divides the two empires, erected, in September of the same year, a
marble monument, on which the following memorable words were engraved in
the Chinese and Latin languages:

"Should any ever determine to rekindle the flames of war, we pray the
sovereign reign of all things, who knows the heart, to punish their
perfidy," etc.

A very small portion of modern history is sufficient to put an end to
these ridiculous disputes: but those who believe that the duty of man
consists in writing commentaries on St. Thomas, or Scotus, cannot
condescend to inform themselves of what is going on among the great
empires of the world.


We travel to China to obtain clay for porcelain, as if we had none
ourselves; stuffs, as if we were destitute of stuffs; and a small herb
to be infused in water, as if we had no simples in our own countries. In
return for these benefits, we are desirous of converting the Chinese. It
is a very commendable zeal; but we must avoid controverting their
antiquity, and also calling them idolaters. Should we think it well of a
capuchin, if, after having been hospitably entertained at the château of
the Montmorencys, he endeavored to persuade them that they were new
nobility, like the king's secretaries; or accused them of idolatry,
because he found two or three statues of constables, for whom they
cherished the most profound respect?

The celebrated Wolf, professor of mathematics in the university of
Halle, once delivered an excellent discourse in praise of the Chinese
philosophy. He praised that ancient species of the human race,
differing, as it does, in respect to the beard, the eyes, the nose, the
ears, and even the reasoning powers themselves; he praised the Chinese,
I say, for their adoration of a supreme God, and their love of virtue.
He did that justice to the emperors of China, to the tribunals, and to
the literati. The justice done to the bonzes was of a different kind.

It is necessary to observe, that this Professor Wolf had attracted
around him a thousand pupils of all nations. In the same university
there was also a professor of theology, who attracted no one. This man,
maddened at the thought of freezing to death in his own deserted hall,
formed the design, which undoubtedly was only right and reasonable, of
destroying the mathematical professor. He scrupled not, according to the
practice of persons like himself, to accuse him of not believing in God.

Some European writers, who had never been in China, had pretended that
the government of Pekin was atheistical. Wolf had praised the
philosophers of Pekin; therefore Wolf was an atheist. Envy and hatred
seldom construct the best syllogisms. This argument of Lange, supported
by a party and by a protector, was considered conclusive by the
sovereign of the country, who despatched a formal dilemma to the
mathematician. This dilemma gave him the option of quitting Halle in
twenty-four hours, or of being hanged; and as Wolf was a very accurate
reasoner, he did not fail to quit. His withdrawing deprived the king of
two or three hundred thousand crowns a year, which were brought into
the kingdom in consequence of the wealth of this philosopher's

This case should convince sovereigns that they should not be over ready
to listen to calumny, and sacrifice a great man to the madness of a
fool. But let us return to China.

Why should we concern ourselves, we who live at the extremity of the
west--why should we dispute with abuse and fury, whether there were
fourteen princes or not before Fo-hi, emperor of China, and whether the
said Fo-hi lived three thousand, or two thousand nine hundred years
before our vulgar era? I should like to see two Irishmen quarrelling at
Dublin, about who was the owner, in the twelfth century, of the estate I
am now in possession of. Is it not clear, that they should refer to me,
who possess the documents and titles relating to it? To my mind, the
case is the same with respect to the first emperors of China, and the
tribunals of that country are the proper resort upon the subject.

Dispute as long as you please about the fourteen princes who reigned
before Fo-hi, your very interesting dispute cannot possibly fail to
prove that China was at that period populous, and that laws were in
force there. I now ask you, whether a people's being collected together,
under laws and kings, involves not the idea of very considerable
antiquity? Reflect how long a time is requisite, before by a singular
concurrence of circumstances, the iron is discovered in the mine,
before it is applied to purposes of agriculture, before the invention of
the shuttle, and all the arts of life.

Some who multiply mankind by a dash of the pen, have produced very
curious calculations. The Jesuit Petau, by a very singular computation,
gives the world, two hundred and twenty-five years after the deluge, one
hundred times as many inhabitants as can be easily conceived to exist on
it at present. The Cumberlands and Whistons have formed calculations
equally ridiculous; had these worthies only consulted the registers of
our colonies in America, they would have been perfectly astonished, and
would have perceived not only how slowly mankind increase in number, but
that frequently instead of increasing they actually diminish.

Let us then, who are merely of yesterday, descendants of the Celts, who
have only just finished clearing the forests of our savage territories,
suffer the Chinese and Indians to enjoy in peace their fine climate and
their antiquity. Let us, especially, cease calling the emperor of China,
and the souba of the Deccan, idolaters. There is no necessity for being
a zealot in estimating Chinese merit. The constitution of their empire
is the only one entirely established upon paternal authority; the only
one in which the governor of a province is punished, if, on quitting his
station, he does not receive the acclamations of the people; the only
one which has instituted rewards for virtue, while, everywhere else, the
sole object of the laws is the punishment of crime; the only one which
has caused its laws to be adopted by its conquerors, while we are still
subject to the customs of the Burgundians, the Franks, and the Goths, by
whom we were conquered. Yet, we must confess, that the common people,
guided by the bonzes, are equally knavish with our own; that everything
is sold enormously dear to foreigners, as among ourselves; that, with
respect to the sciences, the Chinese are just where we were two hundred
years ago; that, like us, they labor under a thousand ridiculous
prejudices; and that they believe in talismans and judicial astrology,
as we long did ourselves.

We must admit also, that they were astonished at our thermometer, at our
method of freezing fluids by means of saltpetre, and at all the
experiments of Torricelli and Otto von Guericke; as we were also, on
seeing for the first time those curious processes. We add, that their
physicians do not cure mortal diseases any more than our own; and that
minor diseases, both here and in China, are cured by nature alone. All
this, however, does not interfere with the fact, that the Chinese, for
four thousand years, when we were unable even to read, knew everything
essentially useful of which we boast at the present day.

I must again repeat, the religion of their learned is admirable, and
free from superstitions, from absurd legends, from dogmas insulting both
to reason and nature, to which the bonzes give a thousand different
meanings, because they really often have none. The most simple worship
has appeared to them the best, for a series of forty centuries. They
are, what we conceive Seth, Enoch, and Noah to have been; they are
contented to adore one God in communion with the sages of the world,
while Europe is divided between Thomas and Bonaventure, between Calvin
and Luther, between Jansenius and Molina.


_Establishment of Christianity, in its Civil and Political
State.--Section I._

God forbid that we should dare to mix the sacred with the profane! We
seek not to fathom the depths of the ways of Providence. We are men, and
we address men only.

When Antony, and after him Augustus, had given Judæa to the Arabian,
Herod--their creature and their tributary--that prince, a stranger among
the Jews, became the most powerful of all kings. He had ports on the
Mediterranean--Ptolemais and Ascalon; he built towns; he erected a
temple to Apollo at Rhodes, and one to Augustus in Cæsarea; he rebuilt
that of Jerusalem from the foundation, and converted it into a strong
citadel. Under his rule, Palestine enjoyed profound peace. In short,
barbarous as he was to his family, and tyrannical towards his people,
whose substance he consumed in the execution of his projects, he was
looked upon as a Messiah. He worshipped only Cæsar, and he was also
worshipped by the Herodians.

The sect of the Jews had long been spread in Europe and Asia; but its
tenets were entirely unknown. No one knew anything of the Jewish books,
although we are told that some of them had already been translated into
Greek, in Alexandria. The Jews were known only as the Armenians are now
known to the Turks and Persians, as brokers and traders. Further, a Turk
never takes the trouble to inquire, whether an Armenian is a Eutychian,
a Jacobite, one of St. John's Christians, or an Arian. The theism of
China, and the much to be respected books of Confucius, were still less
known to the nations of the west, than the Jewish rites.

The Arabians, who furnished the Romans with the precious commodities of
India, had no more idea of the theology of the Brahmins than our sailors
who go to Pondicherry or Madras. The Indian women had from time
immemorial enjoyed the privilege of burning themselves on the bodies of
their husbands; yet these astonishing sacrifices, which are still
practised, were as unknown to the Jews as the customs of America. Their
books, which speak of Gog and Magog, never mention India.

The ancient religion of Zoroaster was celebrated; but not therefore the
more understood in the Roman Empire. It was only known, in general, that
the magi admitted a resurrection, a hell, and a paradise; which doctrine
must at that time have made its way to the Jews bordering on Chaldæa;
since, in Herod's time, Palestine was divided between the Pharisees,
who began to believe the dogma of the resurrection, and the Sadducees,
who regarded it only with contempt.

Alexandria, the most commercial city in the whole world, was peopled
with Egyptians, who worshipped Serapis, and consecrated cats; with
Greeks, who philosophized; with Romans, who ruled; and with Jews, who
amassed wealth. All these people were eagerly engaged in money-getting,
immersed in pleasure, infuriate with fanaticism, making and unmaking
religious sects, especially during the external tranquillity which they
enjoyed when Augustus had shut the temple of Janus.

The Jews were divided into three principal factions. Of these, the
Samaritans called themselves the most ancient, because Samaria (then
Sebaste) had subsisted, while Jerusalem, with its temple, was destroyed
under the Babylonian kings. But these Samaritans were a mixture of the
people of Persia with those of Palestine.

The second, and most powerful faction, was that of the Hierosolymites.
These Jews, properly so called, detested the Samaritans, and were
detested by them. Their interests were all opposite. They wished that no
sacrifices should be offered but in the temple of Jerusalem. Such a
restriction would have brought a deal of money into their city; and, for
this very reason, the Samaritans would sacrifice nowhere but at home. A
small people, in a small town, may have but one temple; but when a
people have extended themselves over a country seventy leagues long, by
twenty-three wide, as the Jews had done--when their territory is almost
as large and populous as Languedoc or Normandy, it would be absurd to
have but one church. What would the good people of Montpellier say, if
they could attend mass nowhere but at Toulouse?

The third faction were the Hellenic Jews, consisting chiefly of such as
were engaged in trade or handicraft in Egypt and Greece. These had the
same interests with the Samaritans. Onias, the son of a high priest,
wishing to be a high priest like his father, obtained permission from
Ptolemy Philometor, king of Egypt, and in particular from the king's
wife, Cleopatra, to build a Jewish temple near Bubastis. He assured
Queen Cleopatra that Isaiah had foretold that the Lord should one day
have a temple on that spot; and Cleopatra, to whom he made a handsome
present, sent him word that, since Isaiah had said it, it must be. This
temple was called the Onion; and if Onias was not a great sacrificer, he
commanded a troop of militia. It was built one hundred and sixty years
before the Christian era. The Jews of Jerusalem always held this Onion
in abhorrence, as they did the translation called the Septuagint. They
even instituted an expiatory feast for these two pretended sacrileges.
The rabbis of the Onion, mingling with the Greeks, became more learned
(in their way) than the rabbis of Jerusalem and Samaria; and the three
factions began to dispute on controversial questions, which necessarily
make men subtle, false, and unsocial.

The Egyptian Jews, in order to equal the austerity of the Essenes, and
the Judates of Palestine, established, some time before the birth of
Christianity, the sect of the Therapeutæ, who, like them, devoted
themselves to a sort of monastic life, and to mortifications. These
different societies were imitations of the old Egyptian, Persian,
Thracian, and Greek mysteries, which had filled the earth, from the
Euphrates and the Nile to the Tiber. At first, such as were initiated
into these fraternities were few in number, and were looked upon as
privileged men; but in the time of Augustus, their number was very
considerable; so that nothing but religion was talked of, from Syria to
Mount Atlas and the German Ocean.

Amidst all these sects and worships, the school of Plato had established
itself, not in Greece alone, but also in Rome, and especially in Egypt.
Plato had been considered as having drawn his doctrine from the
Egyptians, who thought that, in turning Plato's ideas to account, his
word, and the sort of trinity discoverable in some of his works, they
were but claiming their own.

This philosophic spirit, spread at that time over all the known
countries of the west, seems to have emitted, in the neighborhood of
Palestine, at least a few sparks of the spirit of reasoning. It is
certain that, in Herod's time, there were disputes on the attributes of
the divinity, on the immortality of the soul, and the resurrection of
the body. The Jews relate, that Queen Cleopatra asked them whether we
were to rise again dressed or naked?

The Jews, then, were reasoners in their way. The exaggerating Josephus
was, for a soldier, very learned. Such being the case with a military
man, there must have been many a learned man in civil life. His
contemporary, Philo, would have had reputation, even among the Greeks.
St. Paul's master, Gamaliel, was a great controversialist. The authors
of the "_Mishna_" were polymathists.

The Jewish populace discoursed on religion. As, at the present day, in
Switzerland, at Geneva, in Germany, in England, and especially in the
Cévennes, we find even the meanest of the inhabitants dealing in
controversy. Nay, more; men from the dregs of the people have founded
sects: as Fox, in England; Münzer, in Germany; and the first reformers
in France. Indeed, Mahomet himself, setting apart his great courage, was
nothing more than a camel-driver.

Add to these preliminaries that, in Herod's time, it was imagined, as is
elsewhere remarked, that the world was soon to be at an end. In those
days, prepared by divine providence, it pleased the eternal Father to
send His Son upon earth--an adorable and incomprehensible mystery, which
we presume not to approach.

We only say, that if Jesus preached a pure morality; if He announced the
kingdom of heaven as the reward of the just; if He had disciples
attached to His person and His virtues; if those very virtues drew upon
Him the persecutions of the priests; if, through calumny, He was put to
a shameful death; His doctrine, constantly preached by His disciples,
would necessarily have a great effect in the world. Once more let me
repeat it--I speak only after the manner of this world, setting the
multitude of miracles and prophecies entirely aside. I maintain it, that
Christianity was more likely to proceed by His death, than if He had not
been persecuted. You are astonished that His disciples made other
disciples. I should have been much more astonished, if they had not
brought over a great many to their party. Seventy individuals, convinced
of the innocence of their leader, the purity of His manners, and the
barbarity of His judges, must influence many a feeling heart.

St. Paul, alone, became (for whatever reason) the enemy of his master
Gamaliel, must have had it in his power to bring Jesus a thousand
adherents, even supposing Jesus to have been only a worthy and oppressed
man. Paul was learned, eloquent, vehement, indefatigable, skilled in the
Greek tongue, and seconded by zealots much more interested than himself
in defending their Master's reputation. St. Luke was an Alexandrian
Greek, and a man of letters, for he was a physician.

The first chapter of John displays a Platonic sublimity, which must have
been gratifying to the Platonists of Alexandria. And indeed there was
even formed in that city a school founded by Luke, or by Mark (either
the evangelist or some other), and perpetuated by Athenagoras, Pantænus,
Origen, and Clement--all learned and eloquent. This school once
established, it was impossible for Christianity not to make rapid

Greece, Syria, and Egypt, were the scenes of those celebrated ancient
mysteries, which enchanted the minds of the people. The Christians, too,
had their mysteries, in which men would eagerly seek to be initiated;
and if at first only through curiosity, this curiosity soon became
persuasion. The idea of the approaching end of all things was especially
calculated to induce the new disciples to despise the transitory goods
of this life, which were so soon to perish with them. The example of the
Therapeutæ was an incitement to a solitary and mortified life. All these
things, then, powerfully concurred in the establishment of the Christian

The different flocks of this great rising society could not, it is true,
agree among themselves. Fifty-four societies had fifty-four different
gospels; all secret, like their mysteries; all unknown to the Gentiles,
who never saw our four canonical gospels until the end of two hundred
and fifty years. These various flocks, though divided, acknowledged the
same pastor. Ebionites, opposed to St. Paul; Nazarenes, disciples of
Hymeneos, Alexandres, and Hermogenes; Carpocratians, Basilidians,
Valentinians, Marcionites, Sabellians, Gnostics, Montanists--a hundred
sects, rising one against another, and casting mutual reproaches, were
nevertheless all united in Jesus; all called upon Jesus; all made Jesus
the great object of their thoughts, and reward of their travails.

The Roman Empire, in which all these societies were formed, at first
paid no attention to them. They were known at Rome only by the general
name of Jews, about whom the government gave itself no concern. The Jews
had, by their money, acquired the right of trading. In the reign of
Tiberius four thousand of them were driven out of Rome; in that of Nero
the people charged them and the new demi-Christian Jews with the burning
of Rome.

They were again expelled in the reign of Claudius, but their money
always procured them re-admission; they were quiet and despised. The
Christians of Rome were not so numerous as those of Greece, Alexandria
and Syria. The Romans in the earlier ages had neither fathers of the
church nor heresiarchs. The farther they were from the birthplace of
Christianity, the fewer doctors and writers were to be found among them.
The church was Greek; so much so, that every mystery, every rite, every
tenet, was expressed in the Greek tongue.

All Christians, whether Greek, Syrian, Roman, or Egyptian, were
considered as half Jewish. This was another reason for concealing their
books from the Gentiles, that they might remain united and
impenetrable. Their secret was more inviolably kept than that of the
mysteries of Isis or of Ceres; they were a republic apart--a state
within the state. They had no temples, no altars, no sacrifice, no
public ceremony. They elected their secret superiors by a majority of
voices. These superiors, under the title of ancients, priests, bishops,
or deacons, managed the common purse, took care of the sick and pacified
quarrels. Among them it was a shame and a crime to plead before the
tribunals or to enlist in the armed force; and for a hundred years there
was not a single Christian in the armies of the empire.

Thus, retired in the midst of the world and unknown even when they
appeared, they escaped the tyranny of the proconsuls and prætors and
were free amid the public slavery. It is not known who wrote the famous
book entitled "_Τῶν Ἀποστόλων Διδαχαί_" (the Apostolical Constitutions),
as it is unknown who were the authors of the fifty rejected gospels, of
the Acts of St. Peter, of the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, and of
so many other writings of the first Christians; but it is likely that
the "Constitutions" are of the second century. Though falsely attributed
to the apostles, they are very valuable. They show us what were the
duties of a bishop chosen by the Christians, how they were to reverence
him, and what tribute they were to pay him. The bishop could have but
one wife, who was to take good care of his household: "_Μιᾶς ἂνδρα
γεγενόμενον γυναικὸς μονογάμου κάλόν τοῦ ὶδίου προεστότα_."

Rich Christians were exhorted to adopt the children of poor ones.
Collections were made for the widows and orphans; but the money of
sinners was rejected; and, nominally, an innkeeper was not permitted to
give his mite. It is said that they were regarded as cheats; for which
reason very few tavern-keepers were Christians. This also prevented the
Christians from frequenting the taverns; thus completing their
separation from the society of the Gentiles.

The dignity of deaconess being attainable by the women, they were the
more attached to the Christian fraternity. They were consecrated; the
bishop anointing them on the forehead, as of old the Jewish kings were
anointed. By how many indissoluble ties were the Christians bound

The persecutions, which were never more than transitory, did but serve
to redouble their zeal and inflame their fervor; so that, under
Diocletian, one-third of the empire was Christian. Such were a few of
the human causes that contributed to the progress of Christianity. If to
these we add the divine causes, which are to the former as infinity to
unity, there is only one thing which can surprise us; that a religion so
true did not at once extend itself over the two hemispheres, not
excepting the most savage islet.

God Himself came down from heaven and died to redeem mankind and
extirpate sin forever from the face of the earth; and yet he left the
greater part of mankind a prey to error, to crime, and to the devil.
This, to our weak intellects, appears a fatal contradiction. But it is
not for us to question Providence; our duty is to humble ourselves in
the dust before it.


Several learned men have testified their surprise at not finding in the
historian, Flavius Josephus, any mention of Jesus Christ; for all men of
true learning are now agreed that the short passage relative to him in
that history has been interpolated. The father of Flavius Josephus must,
however, have been witness to all the miracles of Jesus. Josephus was of
the sacerdotal race and akin to Herod's wife, Mariamne. He gives us long
details of all that prince's actions, yet says not a word of the life or
death of Jesus; nor does this historian, who disguises none of Herod's
cruelties, say one word of the general massacre of the infants ordered
by him on hearing that there was born a king of the Jews. The Greek
calendar estimates the number of children murdered on this occasion at
fourteen thousand. This is, of all actions of all tyrants, the most
horrible. There is no example of it in the history of the whole world.

Yet the best writer the Jews have ever had, the only one esteemed by the
Greeks and Romans, makes no mention of an event so singular and so
frightful, he says nothing of the appearance of a new star in the east
after the birth of our Saviour--a brilliant phenomenon, which could not
escape the knowledge of a historian so enlightened as Josephus. He is
also silent respecting the darkness which, on our Saviour's death,
covered the whole earth for three hours at midday--the great number of
graves that opened at that moment, and the multitude of the just that
rose again.

The learned are constantly evincing their surprise that no Roman
historian speaks of these prodigies, happening in the empire of
Tiberius, under the eyes of a Roman governor and a Roman garrison, who
must have sent to the emperor and the senate a detailed account of the
most miraculous event that mankind had ever heard of. Rome itself must
have been plunged for three hours in impenetrable darkness; such a
prodigy would have had a place in the annals of Rome, and in those of
every nation. But it was not God's will that these divine things should
be written down by their profane hands.

The same persons also find some difficulties in the gospel history. They
remark that, in Matthew, Jesus Christ tells the scribes and pharisees
that all the innocent blood that has been shed upon earth, from that of
Abel the Just down to that of Zachary, son of Barac, whom they slew
between the temple and the altar, shall be upon their heads.

There is not (say they) in the Hebrew history any Zachary slain in the
temple before the coming of the Messiah, nor in His time, but in the
history of the siege of Jerusalem, by Josephus, there is a Zachary, son
of Barac, slain by the faction of the Zelotes. This is in the
nineteenth chapter of the fourth book. Hence they suspect that the
gospel according to St. Matthew was written after the taking of
Jerusalem by Titus. But every doubt, every objection of this kind,
vanishes when it is considered how great a difference there must be
between books divinely inspired and the books of men. It was God's
pleasure to envelop alike in awful obscurity His birth, His life, and
His death. His ways are in all things different from ours.

The learned have also been much tormented by the difference between the
two genealogies of Jesus Christ. St. Matthew makes Joseph the son of
Jacob, Jacob of Matthan, Matthan of Eleazar. St. Luke, on the contrary,
says that Joseph was the son of Heli, Heli of Matthat, Matthat of Levi,
Levi of Melchi, etc. They will not reconcile the fifty-six progenitors
up to Abraham, given to Jesus by Luke, with the forty-two other
forefathers up to the same Abraham, given him by Matthew; and they are
quite staggered by Matthew's giving only forty-one generations, while he
speaks of forty-two. They start other difficulties about Jesus being the
son, not of Joseph, but of Mary. They moreover raise some doubts
respecting our Saviour's miracles, quoting St. Augustine. St. Hilary,
and others, who have given to the accounts of these miracles a mystic or
allegorical sense; as, for example, to the fig tree cursed and blasted
for not having borne figs when it was not the fig season; the devils
sent into the bodies of swine in a country where no swine were kept; the
water changed into wine at the end of a feast, when the guests were
already too much heated. But all these learned critics are confounded by
the faith, which is but the purer for their cavils. The sole design of
this article is to follow the historical thread and give a precise idea
of the facts about which there is no dispute.

First, then, Jesus was born under the Mosaic law; He was circumcised
according to that law; He fulfilled all its precepts; He kept all its
feasts; He did not reveal the mystery of His incarnation; He never told
the Jews He was born of a virgin; He received John's blessing in the
waters of the Jordan, a ceremony to which various of the Jews submitted;
but He never baptized any one; He never spoke of the seven sacraments;
He instituted no ecclesiastical hierarchy during His life. He concealed
from His contemporaries that He was the Son of God, begotten from all
eternity, consubstantial with His Father; and that the Holy Ghost
proceeded from the Father and the Son. He did not say that His person
was composed of two natures and two wills. He left these mysteries to be
announced to men in the course of time by those who were to be
enlightened by the Holy Ghost. So long as He lived, He departed in
nothing from the law of His fathers. In the eyes of men He was no more
than a just man, pleasing to God, persecuted by the envious and
condemned to death by prejudiced magistrates. He left His holy church,
established by Him, to do all the rest.

Let us consider the state of religion in the Roman Empire at that
period. Mysteries and expiations were in credit almost throughout the
earth. The emperors, the great, and the philosophers, had, it is true,
no faith in these mysteries; but the people, who, in religious matters,
give the law to the great, imposed on them the necessity of conforming
in appearance to their worship. To succeed in chaining the multitude you
must seem to wear the same fetters. Cicero himself was initiated in the
Eleusinian mysteries. The knowledge of only one God was the principal
tenet inculcated in these mysteries and magnificent festivals. It is
undeniable that the prayers and hymns handed down to us as belonging to
these mysteries are the most pious and most admirable of the relics of
paganism. The Christians, who likewise adored only one God, had thereby
greater facility in converting some of the Gentiles. Some of the
philosophers of Plato's sect became Christians; hence in the three first
centuries the fathers of the church were all Platonists.

The inconsiderate zeal of some of them in no way detracts from the
fundamental truths. St. Justin, one of the primitive fathers, has been
reproached with having said, in his commentary on Isaiah, that the
saints should enjoy, during a reign of a thousand years on earth, every
sensual pleasure. He has been charged with criminality in saying, in
his "Apology for Christianity," that God, having made the earth, left it
in the care of the angels, who, having fallen in love with the women,
begot children, which are the devils.

Lactantius, with other fathers, has been condemned for having supposed
oracles of the sibyls. He asserted that the sibyl Erythrea made four
Greek lines, which rendered literally are:

     With five loaves and two fishes
     He shall feed five thousand men in the desert;
     And, gathering up the fragments that remain,
     With them he shall fill twelve baskets.

The primitive Christians have been reproached with inventing some
acrostic verses on the name Jesus Christ and attributing them to an
ancient sibyl. They have also been reproached with forging letters from
Jesus Christ to the king of Edessa, dated at a time when there was no
king in Edessa; with having forged letters of Mary, letters of Seneca to
Paul, false gospels, false miracles, and a thousand other impostures.

We have, moreover, the history or gospel of the nativity and marriage of
the Virgin Mary; wherein we are told that she was brought to the temple
at three years old and walked up the stairs by herself. It is related
that a dove came down from heaven to give notice that it was Joseph who
was to espouse Mary. We have the protogospel of James, brother of Jesus
by Joseph's first wife. It is there said that when Joseph complained of
Mary's having become pregnant in his absence, the priests made each of
them drink the water of jealousy, and both were declared innocent.

We have the gospel of the Infancy, attributed to St. Thomas. According
to this gospel, Jesus, at five years of age, amused himself, like other
children of the same age, with moulding clay, and making it, among other
things, into the form of little birds. He was reproved for this, on
which he gave life to the birds, and they flew away. Another time, a
little boy having beaten him, was struck dead on the spot. We have also
another gospel of the Infancy in Arabic, which is much more serious.

We have a gospel of Nicodemus. This one seems more worthy of attention,
for we find in it the names of those who accused Jesus before Pilate.
They were the principal men of the synagogue--Ananias, Caiaphas, Sommas,
Damat, Gamaliel, Judah, Nephthalim. In this history there are some
things that are easy to reconcile with the received gospels, and others
which are not elsewhere to be found. We here find that the woman cured
of a flux was called Veronica. We also find all that Jesus did in hell
when He descended thither. Then we have the two letters supposed to have
been written by Pilate to Tiberius concerning the execution of Jesus;
but their bad Latin plainly shows that they are spurious. To such a
length was this false zeal carried that various letters were circulated
attributed to Jesus Christ. The letter is still preserved which he is
said to have written to Abgarus, king of Edessa; but, as already
remarked, there had at that time ceased to be a king of Edessa.

Fifty gospels were fabricated and were afterwards declared apocryphal.
St. Luke himself tells us that many persons had composed gospels. It has
been believed that there was one called the Eternal Gospel, concerning
which it is said in the Apocalypse, chap, xiv., "And I saw another angel
fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel.".... In the
thirteenth century the Cordeliers, abusing these words, composed an
"eternal gospel," by which the reign of the Holy Ghost was to be
substituted for that of Jesus Christ. But never in the early ages of the
church did any book appear with this title. Letters of the Virgin were
likewise invented, written to Ignatius the martyr, to the people of
Messina, and others.

Abdias, who immediately succeeded the apostles, wrote their history,
with which he mixed up such absurd fables that in time these histories
became wholly discredited, although they had at first a great
reputation. To Abdias we are indebted for the account of the contest
between St. Peter and Simon the magician. There was at Rome, in reality,
a very skilful mechanic named Simon, who not only made things fly across
the stage, as we still see done, but moreover revived in his own person
the prodigy attributed to Dædalus. He made himself wings; he flew; and,
like Icarus, he fell. So say Pliny and Suetonius.

Abdias, who was in Asia and wrote in Hebrew, tells us that Peter and
Simon met at Rome in the reign of Nero. A young man, nearly related to
the emperor, died, and the whole court begged that Simon would raise him
to life. St. Peter presented himself to perform the same operation.
Simon employed all the powers of his art, and he seemed to have
succeeded, for the dead man moved his head. "This is not enough," cries
Peter; "the dead man must speak; let Simon leave the bedside and we
shall see whether the young man is alive." Simon went aside and the
deceased no longer stirred, but Peter brought him to life with a single

Simon went and complained to the emperor that a miserable Galilean had
taken upon himself to work greater wonders than he. Simon was confronted
with Peter and they made a trial of skill. "Tell me," said Simon to
Peter, "what I am thinking of?" "If," returned Peter, "the emperor will
give me a barley loaf, thou shalt find whether or not I know what thou
hast in thy heart." A loaf was given him; Simon immediately caused two
large dogs to appear and they wanted to devour it. Peter threw them the
loaf, and while they were eating it he said: "Well, did I not know thy
thoughts? thou wouldst have had thy dogs devour me."

After this first sitting it was proposed that Simon and Peter should
make a flying-match, and try which could raise himself highest in the
air. Simon tried first; Peter made the sign of the cross and down came
Simon and broke his legs. This story was imitated from that which we
find in the "_Sepher toldos Jeschut_," where it is said that Jesus
Himself flew, and that Judas, who would have done the same, fell
headlong. Nero, vexed that Peter had broken his favorite, Simon's, legs,
had him crucified with his head downwards. Hence the notion of St.
Peter's residence at Rome, the manner of his execution and his

The same Abdias established the belief that St. Thomas went and preached
Christianity in India to King Gondafer, and that he went thither as an
architect. The number of books of this sort, written in the early ages
of Christianity, is prodigious.

St. Jerome, and even St. Augustine, tell us that the letters of Seneca
and St. Paul are quite authentic. In the first of these letters Seneca
hopes his brother Paul is well: "_Bene te valere, frater, cupio_." Paul
does not write quite so good Latin as Seneca: "I received your letters
yesterday," says he, "with joy."--"_Litteras tuas hilaris
accepi_".--"And I would have answered them immediately had I had the
presence of the young man whom I would have sent with them."--"_Si
præsentiam juvenis habuissem_." Unfortunately these letters, in which
one would look for instruction, are nothing more than compliments.

All these falsehoods, forged by ill-informed and mistakenly-zealous
Christians, were in no degree prejudicial to the truth of Christianity;
they obstructed not its progress; on the contrary, they show us that the
Christian society was daily increasing and that each member was desirous
of hastening its growth.

The Acts of the Apostles do not tell us that the apostles agreed on a
symbol. Indeed, if they had put together the symbol (the creed, as we
now call it), St. Luke could not in his history have omitted this
essential basis of the Christian religion. The substance of the creed is
scattered through the gospels; but the articles were not collected until
long after.

In short, our creed is, indisputably, the belief of the apostles; but it
was not written by them. Rufinus, a priest of Aquileia, is the first who
mentions it; and a homily attributed to St. Augustine is the first
record of the supposed way in which this creed was made; Peter saying,
when they were assembled, "I believe in God the Father Almighty"--Andrew,
"and in Jesus Christ"--James, "who was conceived by the Holy Ghost"; and
so of the rest.

This formula was called in Greek _symbolos_; and in Latin _collatio_.
Only it must be observed that the Greek version has it: "I believe in
God the Father, maker of heaven and earth." In the Latin, _maker_,
_former_, is rendered by "_creatorem_". But afterwards, in translating
the symbol of the First Council of Nice, it was rendered by

Constantine assembled at Nice, opposite Constantinople, the first
ecumenical council, over which Ozius presided. The great question
touching the divinity of Jesus Christ, which so much agitated the
church, was there decided. One party held the opinion of Origen, who
says in his sixth chapter against Celsus, "We offer our prayers to God
through Christ, who holds the middle place between natures created and
uncreated; who leads us to the grace of His Father and presents our
prayers to the great God in quality of our high priest." These
disputants also rest upon many passages of St. Paul, some of which they
quote. They depend particularly upon these words of Jesus Christ: "My
Father is greater than I"; and they regard Jesus as the first-born of
the creation; as a pure emanation of the Supreme Being, but not
precisely as God.

The other side, who were orthodox, produced passages more conformable to
the eternal divinity of Jesus; as, for example, the following: "My
Father and I are one"; words which their opponents interpret as
signifying: "My Father and I have the same object, the same intention; I
have no other will than that of My Father." Alexander, bishop of
Alexandria, and after him Athanasius, were at the head of the orthodox;
and Eusebius, bishop of Nicomedia, with seventeen other bishops, the
priest Arius, and many more priests, led the party opposed to them. The
quarrel was at first exceedingly bitter, as St. Alexander treated his
opponents as so many anti-christs.

At last, after much disputation, the Holy Ghost decided in the council,
by the mouths of two hundred and ninety-nine bishops, against eighteen,
as follows: "Jesus is the only Son of God; begotten of the Father; light
of light; very God of very God; of one substance with the Father. We
believe also in the Holy Ghost," etc. Such was the decision of the
council; and we perceive by this fact how the bishops carried it over
the simple priests. Two thousand persons of the latter class were of the
opinion of Arius, according to the account of two patriarchs of
Alexandria, who have written the annals of Alexandria in Arabic. Arius
was exiled by Constantine, as was Athanasius soon after, when Arius was
recalled to Constantinople. Upon this event St. Macarius prayed so
vehemently to God to terminate the life of Arius before he could enter
the cathedral, that God heard his prayer--Arius dying on his way to
church in 330. The Emperor Constantine ended his life in 337. He placed
his will in the hands of an Arian priest and died in the arms of the
Arian leader, Eusebius, bishop of Nicomedia, not receiving baptism until
on his deathbed, and leaving a triumphant, but divided church. The
partisans of Athanasius and of Eusebius carried on a cruel war; and what
is called Arianism was for a long time established in all the provinces
of the empire.

Julian the philosopher, surnamed the apostate, wished to stifle their
divisions, but could not succeed. The second general council was held at
Constantinople in 1381. It was there laid down that the Council of Nice
had not decided quite correctly in regard to the Holy Ghost; and it
added to the Nicene creed that "the Holy Ghost was the giver of life and
proceeded from the Father, and with the Father and Son is to be
worshipped and glorified." It was not until towards the ninth century
that the Latin church decreed that the Holy Ghost proceeded from the
Father and the Son.

In the year 431, the third council-general, held at Ephesus, decided
that Jesus had "two natures and one person." Nestorius, bishop of
Constantinople, who maintained that the Virgin Mary should be entitled
Mother of Christ, was called _Judas_ by the council; and the "two
natures" were again confirmed by the council of Chalcedon.

I pass lightly over the following centuries, which are sufficiently
known. Unhappily, all these disputes led to wars, and the church was
uniformly obliged to combat. God, in order to exercise the patience of
the faithful, also allowed the Greek and Latin churches to separate in
the ninth century. He likewise permitted in the east no less than
twenty-nine horrible schisms with the see of Rome.

If there be about six hundred millions of men upon earth, as certain
learned persons pretend, the holy Roman Catholic church possesses
scarcely sixteen millions of them--about a twenty-sixth part of the
inhabitants of the known world.


Every one knows that this is the feast of the nativity of Jesus. The
most ancient feast kept in the church, after those of Easter and
Pentecost, was that of the baptism of Jesus. There were only these three
feasts, until St. Chrysostom delivered his homily on Pentecost. We here
make no account of the feasts of the martyrs, which were of a very
inferior order. That of the baptism of Jesus was named the Epiphany, an
imitation of the Greeks, who gave that name to the feasts which they
held to commemorate the appearance or manifestation of the gods upon
earth--since it was not until after his baptism that Jesus began to
preach the gospel.

We know not whether, about the end of the fourth century, this feast was
solemnized in the Isle of Cyprus on the 6th of November; but St.
Epiphanius maintained that Jesus was born on that day. St. Clement of
Alexandria tells us that the Basilidians held this feast on the 15th of
the month _tybi_, while others held it on the 15th of the same month;
that is, it was kept by some on the 10th of January, and by others on
the 6th; the latter opinion is the one now adopted. As for the nativity,
as neither the day nor the month nor the year of it was known, it was
not celebrated.

According to the remarks which we find appended to the works of the same
father, they who have been the most curious in their researches
concerning the day on which Jesus was born, some said that it was on
the 25th of the Egyptian month _pachon_, answering to the 20th of May;
others that it was the 24th or 25th of _pharmuthi_, corresponding to the
19th and 20th of April. The learned M. de Beausobre says that these
latter were the days of St. Valentine. Be this as it may, Egypt and the
East kept the feast of the birth of Jesus on the 6th of January, the
same day as that of His baptism; without it being known (at least with
certainty) when, or for what reason, this custom commenced.

The opinion and practice of the western nations were quite different
from those of the east. The centuriators of Magdeburg repeat a passage
in Theophilus of Cæsarea, which makes the churches of Gaul say: "Since
the birth of Christ is celebrated on the 25th of December, on whatever
day of the week it may fall, so also should the resurrection of Jesus be
celebrated on the 25th of March, whatever day of the week it may be, the
Lord having risen again on that day."

If this be true, it must be acknowledged that the bishops of Gaul were
very prudent and very reasonable. Being persuaded, as all the ancients
were, that Jesus had been crucified on the 23d of March, and had risen
again on the 25th, they commemorated His death on the 23d and His
resurrection on the 25th, without paying any regard to the observance of
the full moon, which was originally a Jewish ceremony, and without
confining themselves to the Sunday. Had the church imitated them, she
would have avoided the long and scandalous disputes which nearly
separated the East from the West, and were not terminated until the
First Council of Nice.

Some of the learned conjecture that the Romans chose the winter solstice
for holding the birth of Jesus, because the sun then begins again to
approach our hemisphere. In Julius Cæsar's time the civil and political
solstice was fixed for the 25th of December. This at Rome was a festival
in celebration of the returning sun. Pliny tells us that it was called
_bruma_; and, like Servius, places it on the 8th of the calends of
January. This association might have some connection with the choice of
the day, but it was not the origin of it. A passage in Josephus
(evidently forged), three or four errors of the ancients, and a very
mystical explanation of a saying of St. John the Baptist, determined
this choice, as Joseph Scaliger is about to inform us.

It pleased the ancients (says that learned critic) to suppose--first,
that Zacharias was sovereign sacrificer when Jesus was born. But nothing
is more untrue; it is no longer believed by any one, at least among
those of any information.

Secondly--the ancients supposed that Zacharias was in the holy of
holies, offering incense, when the angel appeared to him and announced
the birth of a son.

Thirdly--as the sovereign sacrificer entered the temple but once a year,
on the day of expiation, which was the 10th of the Jewish month
_rifri_, partly answering to the month of September, the ancients
supposed that it was the 27th; and that _afterwards_, on the 23d or
24th, Zacharias having returned home after the feast, Elizabeth, his
wife, conceived John the Baptist; when the feast of the conception of
that saint was fixed for those days. As women ordinarily go with child
for two hundred and seventy or two hundred and seventy-four days, it
followed that the nativity of John was fixed for the 24th of June. Such
was the origin of St. John's day, and of Christmas day, which was
regulated by it.

Fourthly--it was supposed that there were six entire months between the
conception of John the Baptist and that of Jesus; although the angel
simply tells Mary that Elizabeth was then in the sixth month of her
pregnancy; consequently the conception of Jesus was fixed for the 25th
of March; and from these various suppositions it was concluded that
Jesus must have been born on the 25th of December, precisely nine months
after his conception.

There are many wonderful things in these arrangements. It is not one of
the least worthy of admiration, that the four cardinal points of the
year--the equinoxes and the solstices, as they were then fixed--were
marked by the conceptions and births of John the Baptist and Jesus. But
it is yet more marvellous and worthy of remark, that the solstice when
Jesus was born is that at which the days begin to increase; while that
on which John the Baptist came into the world was the period at which
they begin to shorten. The holy forerunner had intimated this in a very
mystical manner, when speaking of Jesus, in these words: "He must grow,
and I must become less."

Prudentius alludes to this in a hymn on the nativity of our Lord. Yet
St. Leo says that in his time there were persons in Rome who said the
feast was venerable, not so much on account of the birth of Jesus as of
the return, and, as they expressed it, the new birth of the sun. St.
Epiphanius assures us it was fully established that Jesus was born on
the 6th of January; but St. Clement of Alexandria, much more ancient and
more learned than he, fixes the birth on the 18th of November, of the
twenty-eighth year of Augustus. This is deduced, according to the Jesuit
Petau's remark on St. Epiphanius, from these words of St. Clement: "The
whole time from the birth of Jesus Christ to the death of Commodus was a
hundred and ninety-four years, one month and thirteen days." Now
Commodus died, according to Petau, on the last of December, in the year
192 of our era; therefore, according to St. Clement, Jesus was born one
month and thirteen days before the last of December; consequently, on
the 18th of November, in the twenty-eighth year of the reign of
Augustus. Concerning which it must be observed that St. Clement dates
the reign of Augustus only from the death of Antony and the capture of
Alexandria, because it was not until then that Augustus was left the
sole master of the empire. Thus we are no more assured of the year of
this birth than we are of the month or the day. Though St. Luke
declares, "that He had perfect understanding of all things from the very
first," he clearly shows that he did not know the exact age of Jesus
when He says that, when baptized, He "began to be about thirty years
old." Indeed, this evangelist makes Jesus born in the year of the
numbering which, according to him, was made by Cyrenus or Cyrenius,
governor of Syria; while, according to Tertullian, it was made by
Sentius Saturninus. But Saturninus had quitted the province in the last
year of Herod, and, as Tacitus informs us, was succeeded by Quintilius
Varus; and Publius Sulpicius Quirinus or Quirinius, of whom it would
seem St. Luke means to speak, did not succeed Quintilius Varus until
about ten years after Herod's death, when Archelaus, king of Judæa, was
banished by Augustus, as Josephus tells us in his "Jewish Antiquities."

It is true that Tertullian, and St. Justin before him, referred the
pagans and the heretics of their time to the public archives containing
the registers of this pretended numbering; but Tertullian likewise
referred to the public archives for the account of the darkness at
noonday at the time of the passion of Jesus, as will be seen in the
article on "Eclipse"; where we have remarked the want of exactness in
these two fathers, and in similar authorities, in our observations on a
statue which St. Justin--who assures us that he saw it at Rome--says
was dedicated to Simon the magician, but which was in reality dedicated
to a god of the ancient Sabines.

These uncertainties, however, will excite no astonishment when it is
recollected that Jesus was unknown to His disciples until He had
received baptism from John. It is expressly, "beginning with the baptism
of Jesus," that Peter will have the successor of Judas testify
concerning Jesus; and, according to the same Acts, Peter thereby
understands the whole time that Jesus had lived with them.


The world has long disputed about ancient chronology; but has there ever
been any? Every considerable people must necessarily possess and
preserve authentic, well-attested registers. But how few people were
acquainted with the art of writing? and, among the small number of men
who cultivated this very rare art, are any to be found who took the
trouble to mark two dates with exactness?

We have, indeed, in very recent times the astronomical observations of
the Chinese and the Chaldæans. They only go back about two thousand
years, more or less, beyond our era. But when the early annals of a
nation confine themselves simply to communicating the information that
there was an eclipse in the reign of a certain prince, we learn,
certainly, that such a prince existed, but not what he performed.

Moreover, the Chinese reckon the year in which an emperor dies as still
constituting a part of his reign, until the end of it; even though he
should die the first day of the year, his successor dates the year
following his death with the name of his predecessor. It is not possible
to show more respect for ancestors; nor is it possible to compute time
in a manner more injudicious in comparison with modern nations.

We may add that the Chinese do not commence their sexagenary cycle, into
which they have introduced arrangement, till the reign of the Emperor
Iao, two thousand three hundred and fifty-seven years before our vulgar
era. Profound obscurity hangs over the whole period of time which
precedes that epoch.

Men are generally contented with an approximation--with the "pretty
nearly" in every case. For example, before the invention of watches,
people could learn the time of day or night only approximately. In
building, the stones were pretty nearly hewn to a certain shape, the
timber pretty nearly squared, and the limbs of the statue pretty nearly
chipped to a proper finish; a man was only pretty nearly acquainted with
his nearest neighbors; and, notwithstanding the perfection we have
ourselves attained, such is the state of things at present throughout
the greater part of the world.

Let us not then be astonished that there is nowhere to be found a
correct ancient chronology.

That which we have of the Chinese is of considerable value, when
compared with the chronological labors of other nations. We have none of
the Indians, nor of the Persians, and scarcely any of the ancient
Egyptians. All our systems formed on the history of these people are as
contradictory as our systems of metaphysics.

The Greek Olympiads do not commence till seven hundred and twenty-eight
years before our era of reckoning. Until we arrive at them, we perceive
only a few torches to lighten the darkness, such as the era of
Nabonassar, the war between Lacedæmon and Messene; even those epochs
themselves are subjects of dispute.

Livy took care not to state in what year Romulus began his pretended
reign. The Romans, who well knew the uncertainty of that epoch, would
have ridiculed him had he undertaken to decide it. It is proved that the
duration of two hundred and forty years ascribed to the seven first
kings of Rome is a very false calculation. The first four centuries of
Rome are absolutely destitute of chronology.

If four centuries of the most memorable empire the world ever saw
comprise only an undigested mass of events, mixed up with fables, and
almost without a date, what must be the case with small nations, shut up
in an obscure corner of the earth, that have never made any figure in
the world, notwithstanding all their attempts to compensate, by prodigy
and imposture, for their deficiency in real power and cultivation?

_Of the Vanity of Systems, Particularly in Chronology._

The Abbé Condillac performed a most important service to the human mind
when he displayed the false points of all systems. If we may ever hope
that we shall one day find the road to truth, it can only be after we
have detected all those which lead to error. It is at least a
consolation to be at rest, to be no longer seeking, when we perceive
that so many philosophers have sought in vain.

Chronology is a collection of bladders of wind. All who thought to pass
over it as solid ground have been immersed. We have, at the present
time, twenty-four systems, not one of which is true.

The Babylonians said, "We reckon four hundred and seventy-three thousand
years of astronomical observations." A Parisian, addressing him, says,
"Your account is correct; your years consisted each of a solar day; they
amount to twelve hundred and ninety-seven of ours, from the time of
Atlas, the great astronomer, king of Africa, till the arrival of
Alexander at Babylon."

But, whatever our Parisian may say, no people in the world have ever
confounded a day with a year; and the people of Babylon still less than
any other. This Parisian stranger should have contented himself with
merely observing to the Chaldæans: "You are exaggerators, and our
ancestors were ignorant. Nations are exposed to too many revolutions to
permit their keeping a series of four thousand seven hundred and
thirty-six centuries of astronomical calculations. And, with respect to
Atlas, king of the Moors, no one knows at what time he lived. Pythagoras
might pretend to have been a cock, just as reasonably as you may boast
of such a series of observations."

The great point of ridicule in all fantastic chronologies is the
arrangement of all the great events of a man's life in precise order of
time, without ascertaining that the man himself ever existed. Lenglet
repeats after others, in his chronological compilation of universal
history, that precisely in the time of Abraham, and six years after the
death of Sarah, who was little known to the Greeks, Jupiter, at the age
of sixty-two, began to reign in Thessaly; that his reign lasted sixty
years; that he married his sister Juno; that he was obliged to cede the
maritime coasts to his brother Neptune; and that the Titans made war
against him. But was there ever a Jupiter? It never occurred to him that
with this question he should have begun.


_Summary of the History of the Christian Church._

We shall not extend our views into the depths of theology. God preserve
us from such presumption. Humble faith alone is enough for us. We never
assume any other part than that of mere historians.

In the years that immediately followed Jesus Christ, who was at once God
and man, there existed among the Hebrews nine religious schools or
societies--Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenians, Judahites, Therapeutæ,
Rechabites, Herodians, the disciples of John, and the disciples of
Jesus, named the "brethren," the "Galileans," the "believers," who did
not assume the name of Christians till about the sixteenth year of our
era, at Antioch; being directed to its adoption by God himself, in ways
unknown to men. The Pharisees believed in the metempsychosis. The
Sadducees denied the immortality of the soul, and the existence of
spirits, yet believed in the Pentateuch.

Pliny, the naturalist--relying, evidently, on the authority of Flavius
Josephus--calls the Essenians "_gens æterna in qua nemo nascitur_"--"a
perpetual family, in which no one is ever born"--because the Essenians
very rarely married. The description has been since applied to our

It is difficult to decide whether the Essenians or the Judahites are
spoken of by Josephus in the following passage: "They despise the evils
of the world; their constancy enables them to triumph over torments; in
an honorable cause, they prefer death to life. They have undergone fire
and sword, and submitted to having their very bones crushed, rather
than utter a syllable against their legislator, or eat forbidden food."

It would seem, from the words of Josephus, that the foregoing portrait
applies to the Judahites, and not to the Essenians. "Judas was the
author of a new sect, completely different from the other three;" that
is, the Sadducees, the Pharisees, and the Essenians. "They are," he goes
on, "Jews by nation; they live in harmony with one another, and consider
pleasure to be a vice." The natural meaning of this language would
induce us to think that he is speaking of the Judahites.

However that may be, these Judahites were known before the disciples of
Christ began to possess consideration and consequence in the world. Some
weak people have supposed them to be heretics, who adored Judas

The Therapeutæ were a society different from the Essenians and the
Judahites. They resembled the Gymnosophists and Brahmins of India. "They
possess," says Philo, "a principle of divine love which excites in them
an enthusiasm like that of the Bacchantes and the Corybantes, and which
forms them to that state of contemplation to which they aspire. This
sect originated in Alexandria, which was entirely filled with Jews, and
prevailed greatly throughout Egypt." The Rechabites still continued as a
sect. They vowed never to drink wine; and it is, possibly, from their
example that Mahomet forbade that liquor to his followers.

The Herodians regarded Herod, the first of that name, as a Messiah, a
messenger from God, who had rebuilt the temple. It is clear that the
Jews at Rome celebrated a festival in honor of him, in the reign of
Nero, as appears from the lines of Persius: "_Herodis venere dies_,"
etc. (Sat. v. 180.)

     "King Herod's feast, when each Judaæan vile,
      Trims up his lamp with tallow or with oil."

The disciples of John the Baptist had spread themselves a little in
Egypt, but principally in Syria, Arabia, and towards the Persian gulf.
They are recognized, at the present day, under the name of the
Christians of St. John. There were some also in Asia Minor. It is
mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles (chap, xix.) that Paul met with
many of them at Ephesus. "Have you received," he asked them, "the holy
spirit?" They answered him. "We have not heard even that there is a holy
spirit." "What baptism, then," says he, "have you received?" They
answered him, "The baptism of John."

In the meantime the true Christians, as is well known, were laying the
foundation of the only true religion.' He who contributed most to
strengthen this rising society, was Paul, who had himself persecuted it
with the greatest violence. He was born at Tarsus in Cilicia, and was
educated under one of the most celebrated professors among the
Pharisees--Gamaliel, a disciple of Hillel. The Jews pretend that he
quarrelled with Gamaliel, who refused to let him have his daughter in
marriage. Some traces of this anecdote are to be found in the sequel to
the "Acts of St. Thekla." These acts relate that he had a large
forehead, a bald head, united eye-brows, an aquiline nose, a short and
clumsy figure, and crooked legs. Lucian, in his dialogue
"_Philopatres_," seems to give a very similar portrait of him. It has
been doubted whether he was a Roman citizen, for at that time the title
was not given to any Jew; they had been expelled from Rome by Tiberius;
and Tarsus did not become a Roman colony till nearly a hundred years
afterwards, under Caracalla; as Cellarius remarks in his "Geography"
(book iii.), and Grotius in his "Commentary on the Acts," to whom alone
we need refer.

God, who came down upon earth to be an example in it of humanity and
poverty, gave to his church the most feeble infancy, and conducted it in
a state of humiliation similar to that in which he had himself chosen to
be born. All the first believers were obscure persons. They labored with
their hands. The apostle St. Paul himself acknowledges that he gained
his livelihood by making tents. St. Peter raised from the dead Dorcas, a
sempstress, who made clothes for the "brethren." The assembly of
believers met at Joppa, at the house of a tanner called Simon, as
appears from the ninth chapter of the "Acts of the Apostles."

The believers spread themselves secretly in Greece: and some of them
went from Greece to Rome, among the Jews, who were permitted by the
Romans to have a synagogue. They did not, at first, separate themselves
from the Jews. They practised circumcision; and, as we have elsewhere
remarked, the first fifteen obscure bishops of Jerusalem were all
circumcised, or at least were all of the Jewish nation.

When the apostle Paul took with him Timothy, who was the son of a
heathen father, he circumcised him himself, in the small city of Lystra.
But Titus, his other disciple, could not be induced to submit to
circumcision. The brethren, or the disciples of Jesus, continued united
with the Jews until the time when St. Paul experienced a persecution at
Jerusalem, on account of his having introduced strangers into the
temple. He was accused by the Jews of endeavoring to destroy the law of
Moses by that of Jesus Christ. It was with a view to his clearing
himself from this accusation that the apostle St. James proposed to the
apostle Paul that he should shave his head, and go and purify himself in
the temple, with four Jews, who had made a vow of being shaved. "Take
them with you," says James to him (Acts of the Apostles xxi.), "purify
yourself with them, and let the whole world know that what has been
reported concerning you is false, and that you continue to obey the law
of Moses." Thus, then, Paul, who had been at first the most summary
persecutor of the holy society established by Jesus--Paul, who
afterwards endeavored to govern that rising society--Paul the
Christian, Judaizes, "that the world may know that he is calumniated
when he is charged with no longer following the law of Moses."

St. Paul was equally charged with impiety and heresy, and the
persecution against him lasted a long time; but it is perfectly clear,
from the nature of the charges, that he had travelled to Jerusalem in
order to fulfil the rites of Judaism.

He addressed to Faustus these words: "I have never offended against the
Jewish law, nor against the temple." (Acts xxv.) The apostles announced
Jesus Christ as a just man wickedly persecuted, a prophet of God, a son
of God, sent to the Jews for the reformation of manners.

"Circumcision," says the apostle Paul, "is good, if you observe the law;
but if you violate the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. If
any uncircumcised person keep the law, he will be as if circumcised. The
true Jew is one that is so inwardly."

When this apostle speaks of Jesus Christ in his epistles, he does not
reveal the ineffable mystery of his consubstantiality with God. "We are
delivered by him," says he, "from the wrath of God. The gift of God hath
been shed upon us by the grace bestowed on one man, who is Jesus
Christ.... Death reigned through the sin of one man; the just shall
reign in life by one man, who is Jesus Christ." (Romans v.)

And, in the eighth chapter: "We are heirs of God, and joint-heirs of
Christ;" and in the sixteenth chapter: "To God, who is the only wise, be
honor and glory through Jesus Christ... You are Jesus Christ's, and
Jesus Christ is God's." (1 Cor. chap. iii.)

And, in 1 Cor. xv. 27: "Everything is made subject to him, undoubtedly,
excepting God, who made all things subject to him."

Some difficulty has been found in explaining the following part of the
Epistle of the Philippians: "Do nothing through vain glory. Let each
humbly think others better than himself. Be of the same mind with Jesus
Christ, _who, being in the likeness of God, assumed not to equal himself
to God_." This passage appears exceedingly well investigated and
elucidated in a letter, still extant, of the churches of Vienna and
Lyons, written in the year 117, and which is a valuable monument of
antiquity. In this letter the modesty of some believers is praised.
"They did not wish," says the letter, "to assume the lofty title of
martyrs, in consequence of certain tribulations; after the example of
Jesus Christ, who, being in the likeness of God, did not assume the
quality of being equal to God." Origen, also, in his commentary on John,
says: "The greatness of Jesus shines out more splendidly in consequence
of his self-humiliation than if he had assumed equality with God." In
fact, the opposite interpretation would be a solecism. What sense would
there be in this exhortation: "Think others superior to yourselves;
imitate Jesus, who did not think it an _assumption_ to be equal to God?"
It would be an obvious contradiction; it would be putting an example of
full pretension for an example of modesty; it would be an offence
against logic.

Thus did the wisdom of the apostles establish the rising church. That
wisdom did not change its character in consequence of the dispute which
took place between the apostles Peter, James, and John, on one side, and
Paul on the other. This contest occurred at Antioch. The apostle
Peter--formerly Cephas, or Simon Bar Jona--ate with the converted
Gentiles, and among them did not observe the ceremonies of the law and
the distinction of meats. He and Barnabas, and the other disciples, ate
indifferently of pork, of animals which had been strangled, or which had
cloven feet, or which did not chew the cud; but many Jewish Christians
having arrived, St. Peter joined with them in abstinence from forbidden
meats, and in the ceremonies of the Mosaic law.

This conduct appeared very prudent; he wished to avoid giving offence to
the Jewish Christians, his companions; but St. Paul attacked him on the
subject with considerable severity. "I withstood him," says he, "to his
face, because he was blamable." (Gal. chap. ii.)

This quarrel appears most extraordinary on the part of St. Paul. Having
been at first a persecutor, he might have been expected to have acted
with moderation; especially as he had gone to Jerusalem to sacrifice in
the temple, had circumcised his disciple Timothy, and strictly complied
with the Jewish rites, for which very compliance he now reproached
Cephas. St. Jerome imagines that this quarrel between Paul and Cephas
was a pretended one. He says, in his first homily (vol. iii.) that they
acted like two advocates, who had worked themselves up to an appearance
of great zeal and exasperation against each other, to gain credit with
their respective clients. He says that Peter--Cephas--being appointed to
preach to the Jews, and Paul to the Gentiles, they assumed the
appearance of quarrelling--Paul to gain the Gentiles, and Peter to gain
the Jews. But St. Augustine is by no means of the same opinion. "I
grieve," says he, in his epistle to Jerome, "that so great a man should
be the patron of a lie."--(_patronum mendacii_).

This dispute between St. Jerome and St. Augustine ought not to diminish
our veneration for them, and still less for St. Paul and St. Peter. As
to what remains, if Peter was destined for the Jews, who were, after
their conversion, likely to Judaize, and Paul for strangers, it appears
probable that Peter never went to Rome. The Acts of the Apostles makes
no mention of Peter's journey to Italy.

However that may be, it was about the sixtieth year of our era that
Christians began to separate from the Jewish communion; and it was this
which drew upon them so many quarrels and persecutions from the various
synagogues of Rome, Greece, Egypt, and Asia. They were accused of
impiety and atheism by their Jewish brethren, who excommunicated them in
their synagogues three times every Sabbath-day. But in the midst of
their persecutions God always supported them.

By degrees many churches were formed, and the separation between Jews
and Christians was complete before the close of the first century. This
separation was unknown to the Roman government. Neither the senate nor
the emperors of Rome interested themselves in those quarrels of a small
flock of mankind, which God had hitherto guided in obscurity, and which
he exalted by insensible gradations.

Christianity became established in Greece and at Alexandria. The
Christians had there to contend with a new set of Jews, who, in
consequence of intercourse with the Greeks, had become philosophers.
This was the sect of _gnosis_, or gnostics. Among them were some of the
new converts to Christianity. All these sects, at that time, enjoyed
complete liberty to dogmatize, discourse, and write, whenever the Jewish
courtiers, settled at Rome and Alexandria, did not bring any charge
against them before the magistrates. But, under Domitian, Christianity
began to give some umbrage to the government.

The zeal of some Christians, which was not according to knowledge, did
not prevent the Church from making that progress which God destined from
the beginning. The Christians, at first, celebrated their mysteries in
sequestered houses, and in caves, and during the night. Hence, according
to Minucius Felix, the title given them of _lucifugaces._ Philo calls
them Gesséens. The names most frequently applied to them by the
heathens, during the first four centuries, were "Galileans" and
"Nazarenes"; but that of "Christians" has prevailed above all others.
Neither the hierarchy, nor the services of the church, were established
all at once; the apostolic times were different from those which

The mass now celebrated at matins was the supper performed in the
evening; these usages changed in proportion as the church strengthened.
A more numerous society required more regulations, and the prudence of
the pastors accommodated itself to times and places. St. Jerome and
Eusebius relate that when the churches received a regular form, five
different orders might be soon perceived to exist in them--superintendents,
_episcopoi_, whence originate the bishops; elders of the society,
_presbyteroi_, priests, _diaconoi_, servants or deacons; _pistoi_,
believers, the initiated--that is, the baptized, who participated in the
suppers of the agape, or love-feasts; the _catechumens_, who were
awaiting baptism; and the _energumens_, who awaited their being
exorcised of demons. In these five orders, no one had garments different
from the others, no one was bound to celibacy; witness Tertullian's
book, dedicated to his wife; and witness also the example of the
apostles. No paintings or sculptures were to be found in their
assemblies during the first two centuries; no altars; and, most
certainly, no tapers, incense, and lustral water. The Christians
carefully concealed their books from the Gentiles; they intrusted them
only to the initiated. Even the catechumens were not permitted to recite
the Lord's prayer.

_Of the Power of Expelling Devils, Given to the Church._

That which most distinguished the Christians, and which has continued
nearly to our own times, was the power of expelling devils with the sign
of the cross. Origen, in his treaties against Celsus, declares--at No.
133--that Antinous, who had been defied by the emperor Adrian, performed
miracles in Egypt by the power of charms and magic; but he says that the
devils came out of the bodies of the possessed on the mere utterance of
the name of Jesus.

Tertullian goes farther; and from the recesses of Africa, where he
resided, he says, in his "Apology"--chap. xxiii.--"If your gods do not
confess themselves to be devils in the presence of a true Christian, we
give you full liberty to shed that Christian's blood." Can any
demonstration be possibly clearer?

In fact, Jesus Christ sent out his apostles to expel demons. The Jews,
likewise, in his time, had the power of expelling them; for, when Jesus
had delivered some possessed persons, and sent the devils into the
bodies of a very numerous herd of swine, and had performed many other
similar cures, the Pharisees said: "He expels devils through the power
of Beelzebub." Jesus replied: "By whom do your sons expel them?" It is
incontestable that the Jews boasted of this power. They had exorcists
and exorcisms. They invoked the name of God, of Jacob, and of Abraham.
They put consecrated herbs into the nostrils of the demoniacs. Josephus
relates a part of these ceremonies. This power over devils, which the
Jews have lost, was transferred to the Christians, who seem likewise to
have lost it in their turn.

The power of expelling demons comprehended that of destroying the
operations of magic; for magic has been always prevalent in every
nation. All the fathers of the Church bear testimony to magic. St.
Justin, in his "Apology"--book iii.--acknowledges that the souls of the
dead are frequently evoked, and thence draws an argument in favor of the
immortality of the soul. Lactantius, in the seventh book of his "Divine
Institutions," says that "if any one ventured to deny the existence of
souls after death, the magician would convince him of it by making them
appear." Irenæus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Cyprian the bishop,
all affirm the same. It is true that, at present, all is changed, and
that there are now no more magicians than there are demoniacs. But God
has the sovereign power of admonishing mankind by prodigies at some
particular seasons, and of discontinuing those prodigies at others.

_Of the Martyrs of the Church._

When Christians became somewhat numerous, and many arrayed themselves
against the worship established in the Roman Empire, the magistrates
began to exercise severity against them, and the people more
particularly persecuted them. The Jews, who possessed particular
privileges, and who confined themselves to their synagogues, were not
persecuted. They were permitted the free exercise of their religion, as
is the case at Rome at the present day. All the different kinds of
worship scattered over the empire were tolerated, although the senate
did not adopt them. But the Christians, declaring themselves enemies to
every other worship than their own, and more especially so to that of
the empire, were often exposed to these cruel trials.

One of the first and most distinguished martyrs was Ignatius, bishop of
Antioch, who was condemned by the Emperor Trajan himself, at that time
in Asia, and sent to Rome by his orders, to be exposed to wild beasts,
at a time when other Christians were not persecuted at Rome. It is not
known precisely what charges were alleged against him before that
emperor, otherwise so renowned for his clemency. St. Ignatius must,
necessarily, have had violent enemies. Whatever were the particulars of
the case, the history of his martyrdom relates that the name of Jesus
Christ was found engraved on his heart in letters of gold; and from this
circumstance it was that Christians, in some places, assumed the name of
Theophorus, which Ignatius had given himself.

A letter of his has been preserved in which he entreats the bishops and
Christians to make no opposition to his martyrdom, whether at the time
they might be strong enough to effect his deliverance, or whether any
among them might have influence enough to obtain his pardon. Another
remarkable circumstance is that when he was brought to Rome the
Christians of that capital went to visit him; which would prove clearly
that the individual was punished and not the sect.

The persecutions were not continued. Origen, in his third book against
Celsus, says: "The Christians who have suffered death on account of
their religion may easily be numbered, for there were only a few of
them, and merely at intervals."

God was so mindful of his Church that, notwithstanding its enemies, he
so ordered circumstances that it held five councils in the first
century, sixteen in the second, and thirty in the third; that is,
including both secret and tolerated ones. Those assemblies were
sometimes forbidden, when the weak prudence of the magistrates feared
that they might become tumultuous. But few genuine documents of the
proceedings before the proconsuls and prætors who condemned the
Christians to death have been delivered down to us. Such would be the
only authorities which would enable us to ascertain the charges brought
against them, and the punishments they suffered.

We have a fragment of Dionysius of Alexandria, in which he gives the
following extract of a register, or of records, of a proconsul of Egypt,
under the Emperor Valerian: "Dionysius, Faustus Maximus, Marcellus, and
Chæremon, having been admitted to the audience, the prefect Æmilianus
thus addressed them: 'You are sufficiently informed through the
conferences which I have had with you, and all that I have written to
you, of the good-will which our princes have entertained towards you. I
wish thus to repeat it to you once again. They make the continuance of
your safety to depend upon yourselves, and place your destiny in your
own hands. They require of you only one thing, which reason demands of
every reasonable person--namely, that you adore the gods who protect
their empire, and abandon that different worship, so contrary to sense
and nature.'"

Dionysius replied, "All have not the same gods; and all adore those whom
they think to be the true ones." The prefect Æmilianus replied: "I see
clearly that you ungratefully abuse the goodness which the emperors have
shown you. This being the case, you shall no longer remain in this city;
and I now order you to be conveyed to Cephro, in the heart of Libya.
Agreeably to the command I have received from your emperor, that shall
be the place of your banishment. As to what remains, think not to hold
your assemblies there, nor to offer up your prayers in what you call
cemeteries. This is positively forbidden. I will permit it to none."

Nothing bears a stronger impress of truth than this document. We see
from it that there were times when assemblies were prohibited. Thus the
Calvinists were forbidden to assemble in France. Sometimes ministers or
preachers, who held assemblies in violation of the laws, have suffered
even by the altar and the rack; and since 1745 six have been executed on
the gallows. Thus, in England and Ireland, Roman Catholics are forbidden
to hold assemblies; and, on certain occasions, the delinquents have
suffered death.

Notwithstanding these prohibitions declared by the Roman laws, God
inspired many of the emperors with indulgence towards the Christians.
Even Diocletian, whom the ignorant consider as a persecutor--Diocletian,
the first year of whose reign is still regarded as constituting the
commencement of the era of martyrdom, was, for more than eighteen years,
the declared protector of Christianity, and many Christians held
offices of high consequence about his person. He even married a
Christian; and, in Nicomedia, the place of his residence, he permitted a
splendid church to be erected opposite his palace.

The Cæsar Galerius having unfortunately taken up a prejudice against the
Christians, of whom he thought he had reason to complain, influenced
Diocletian to destroy the cathedral of Nicomedia. One of the Christians,
with more zeal than prudence, tore the edict of the emperor to pieces;
and hence arose that famous persecution, in the course of which more
than two hundred persons were executed in the Roman Empire, without
reckoning those whom the rage of the common people, always fanatical and
always cruel, destroyed without even the form of law.

So great has been the number of actual martyrs that we should be careful
how we shake the truth of the history of those genuine confessors of our
holy religion by a dangerous mixture of fables and of false martyrs.

The Benedictine Prior (Dom) Ruinart, for example, a man otherwise as
well informed as he was respectable and devout, should have selected his
genuine records, his "_actes sinceres_," with more discretion. It is not
sufficient that a manuscript, whether taken from the abbey of St. Benoit
on the Loire, or from a convent of Celestines at Paris, corresponds with
a manuscript of the Feuillans, to show that the record is authentic;
the record should possess a suitable antiquity; should have been
evidently written by contemporaries; and, moreover, should bear all the
characters of truth.

He might have dispensed with relating the adventure of young Romanus,
which occurred in 303. This young Romanus had obtained the pardon of
Diocletian, at Antioch. However, Ruinart states that the judge
Asclepiades condemned him to be burnt. The Jews who were present at the
spectacle, derided the young saint and reproached the Christians, that
their God, who had delivered Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego out of the
furnace, left _them_ to be burned; that immediately, although the
weather had been as calm as possible, a tremendous storm arose and
extinguished the flames; that the judge then ordered young Romanus's
tongue to be cut out; that the principal surgeon of the emperor, being
present, eagerly acted the part of executioner, and cut off the tongue
at the root; that instantly the young man, who, before had an impediment
in his speech, spoke with perfect freedom; that the emperor was
astonished that any one could speak so well without a tongue; and that
the surgeon, to repeat the experiment, directly cut out the tongue of
some bystander, who died on the spot.

Eusebius, from whom the Benedictine Ruinart drew his narrative, should
have so far respected the real miracles performed in the Old and New
Testament--which no one can ever doubt--as not to have associated with
them relations so suspicious, and so calculated to give offence to weak
minds. This last persecution did not extend through the empire. There
was at that time some Christianity in England, which soon eclipsed, to
reappear afterwards under the Saxon kings. The southern districts of
Gaul and Spain abounded with Christians. The Cæsar Constantius Chlorus
afforded them great protection in all his provinces. He had a concubine
who was a Christian, and who was the mother of Constantine, known under
the name of St. Helena; for no marriage was ever proved to have taken
place between them; he even divorced her in the year 292, when he
married the daughter of Maximilian Hercules; but she had preserved great
ascendency over his mind, and had inspired him with a great attachment
to our holy religion.

_Of the Establishment of the Church Under Constantine._

Thus did divine Providence prepare the triumph of its church by ways
apparently conformable to human causes and events. Constantius Chlorus
died in 306, at York, in England, at a time when the children he had by
the daughter of a Cæsar were of tender age, and incapable of making
pretensions to the empire. Constantine boldly got himself elected at
York, by five or six thousand soldiers, the greater part of whom were
French and English. There was no probability that this election,
effected without the consent of Rome, of the senate and the armies,
could stand; but God gave him the victory over Maxentius, who had been
elected at Rome, and delivered him at last from all his colleagues. It
is not to be dissembled that he at first rendered himself unworthy of
the favors of heaven, by murdering all his relations, and at length even
his own wife and son.

We may be permitted to doubt what Zosimus relates on this subject. He
states that Constantine, under the tortures of remorse from the
perpetration of so many crimes, inquired of the pontiffs of the empire,
whether it were possible for him to obtain any expiation, and that they
informed him that they knew of none. It is perfectly true that none was
found for Nero, and that he did not venture to assist at the sacred
mysteries in Greece. However, the Taurobolia were still observed, and it
is difficult to believe that an emperor, supremely powerful, could not
obtain a priest who would willingly indulge him in expiatory sacrifices.
Perhaps, indeed, it is less easy to believe that Constantine, occupied
as he was with war, politic enterprises, and ambition, and surrounded by
flatterers, had time for remorse at all. Zosimus adds that an Egyptian
priest, who had access to his gate, promised him the expiation of all
his crimes in the Christian religion. It has been suspected that this
priest was Ozius, bishop of Cordova.

However this might be, God reserved Constantine for the purpose of
enlightening his mind, and to make him the protector of the Church. This
prince built the city of Constantinople, which became the centre of the
empire and of the Christian religion. The Church then assumed a form of
splendor. And we may hope that, being purified by his baptism, and
penitent at his death, he may have found mercy, although he died an
Arian. It would be not a little severe, were all the partisans of both
the bishops of the name of Eusebius to incur damnation.

In the year 314, before Constantine resided in his new city, those who
had persecuted the Christians were punished by them for their cruelties.
The Christians threw Maxentius's wife into the Orontes; they cut the
throats of all his relations, and they massacred, in Egypt and
Palestine, those magistrates who had most strenuously declared against
Christianity. The widow and daughter of Diocletian, having concealed
themselves at Thessalonica, were recognized, and their bodies thrown
into the sea. It would certainly have been desirable that the Christians
should have followed less eagerly the cry of vengeance; but it was the
will of God, who punishes according to justice, that, as soon as the
Christians were able to act without restraint, their hands should be
dyed in the blood of their persecutors.

Constantine summoned to meet at Nice, opposite Constantinople, the first
ecumenical council, of which Ozius was president. Here was decided the
grand question that agitated the Church, relating to the divinity of
Jesus Christ. It is well known how the Church, having contended for
three hundred years against the rights of the Roman Empire, at length
contended against itself, and was always militant and triumphant.

In the course of time almost the whole of the Greek church and the whole
African church became slaves under the Arabs, and afterwards under the
Turks, who erected the Mahometan religion on the ruins of the Christian.
The Roman church subsisted; but always reeking with blood, through more
than six centuries of discord between the western empire and the
priesthood. Even these quarrels rendered her very powerful. The bishops
and abbots in Germany all became princes; and the popes gradually
acquired absolute dominion in Rome, and throughout a considerable
territory. Thus has God proved his church, by humiliations, by
afflictions, by crimes, and by splendor.

This Latin church, in the sixteenth century, lost half of Germany,
Denmark, Sweden, England, Scotland, Ireland, and the greater part of
Switzerland and Holland. She gained more territory in America by the
conquests of the Spaniards than she lost in Europe; but, with more
territory, she has fewer subjects.

Divine Providence seemed to call upon Japan, Siam, India, and China to
place themselves under obedience to the pope, in order to recompense
him for Asia Minor, Syria, Greece, Egypt, Africa, Russia, and the other
lost states which we mentioned. St. Francis Xavier, who carried the holy
gospel to the East Indies and Japan, when the Portuguese went thither
upon mercantile adventure, performed a great number of miracles, all
attested by the R.R.P.P. Jesuits. Some state that he resuscitated nine
dead persons. But R.P. Ribadeneira, in his "Flower of the Saints,"
limits himself to asserting that he resuscitated only four. That is
sufficient. Providence was desirous that, in less than a hundred years,
there should have been thousands of Catholics in the islands of Japan.
But the devil sowed his tares among the good grain. The Jesuits,
according to what is generally believed, entered into a conspiracy,
followed by a civil war, in which all the Christians were exterminated
in 1638. The nation then closed its ports against all foreigners except
the Dutch, who were considered merchants and not Christians, and were
first compelled to trample on the cross in order to gain leave to sell
their wares in the prison in which they are shut up, when they land at

The Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman religion has become proscribed in
China in our own time, but with circumstances of less cruelty. The
R.R.P.P. Jesuits had not, indeed, resuscitated the dead at the court of
Pekin; they were contented with teaching astronomy, casting cannon, and
being mandarins. Their unfortunate disputes with the Dominicans and
others gave such offence to the great Emperor Yonchin that that prince,
who was justice and goodness personified, was blind enough to refuse
permission any longer to teach our holy religion, in respect to which
our missionaries so little agreed. He expelled them, but with a kindness
truly paternal, supplying them with means of subsistence, and conveyance
to the confines of his empire.

All Asia, all Africa, the half of Europe, all that belongs to the
English and Dutch in America, all the unconquered American tribes, all
the southern climes, which constitute a fifth portion of the globe,
remain the prey of the demon, in order to fulfil those sacred words,
"many are called, but few are chosen."--Matt. xx., 16.

_Of the Signification of the Word "Church." Picture of the Primitive
Church. Its Degeneracy. Examination into those Societies which have
Attempted to Re-establish the Primitive Church, and Particularly into
that of the Primitives called Quakers._

The term "church" among the Greeks signified the assembly of the people.
When the Hebrew books were translated into Greek, "synagogue" was
rendered by "church", and the same term was employed to express the
"Jewish society," the "political congregation," the "Jewish assembly,"
the "Jewish people." Thus it is said in the Book of Numbers, "Why hast
thou conducted the church into the wilderness;" and in Deuteronomy, "The
eunuch, the Moabite, and the Ammonite, shall not enter the church; the
Idumæans and the Egyptians shall not enter the church, even to the third

Jesus Christ says, in St. Matthew, "If thy brother have sinned against
thee [have offended thee] rebuke him, between yourselves. Take with you
one or two witnesses, that, from the mouth of two or three witnesses,
everything may be made clear; and, if he hear not them, complain to the
assembly of the people, to the church; and, if he hear not the church,
let him be to thee as a heathen or a publican. Verily, I say unto you,
so shall it come to pass, whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be
bound in heaven, and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed
in heaven"--an illusion to the keys of doors which close and unclose the

The case is here, that of two men, one of whom has offended the other,
and persists. He could not be made to appear in the assembly, in the
Christian church, as there was none; the person against whom his
companion complained could not be judged by a bishop and priests who
were not in existence; besides which, it is to be observed, that neither
Jewish priests nor Christian priests ever became judges in quarrels
between private persons. It was a matter of police. Bishops did not
become judges till about the time of Valentinian III.

The commentators have therefore concluded that the sacred writer of
this gospel makes our Lord speak in this passage by anticipation--that
it is an allegory, a prediction of what would take place when the
Christian church should be formed and established.

Selden makes an important remark on this passage, that, among the Jews,
publicans or collectors of the royal moneys were not excommunicated. The
populace might detest them, but as they were indispensable officers,
appointed by the prince, the idea had never occurred to any one of
separating them from the assembly. The Jews were at that time under the
administration of the proconsul of Syria, whose jurisdiction extended to
the confines of Galilee, and to the island of Cyprus, where he had
deputies. It would have been highly imprudent in any to show publicly
their abomination of the legal officers of the proconsul. Injustice,
even, would have been added to imprudence, for the Roman
knights--equestrians--who farmed the public domain and collected Cæsar's
money, were authorized by the laws.

St. Augustine, in his eighty-first sermon, may perhaps suggest
reflections for comprehending this passage. He is speaking of those who
retain their hatred, who are slow to pardon.

_"Cepisti habere fratrem tuum tanquam publicanum. Ligas ilium in terra;
sed ut juste alliges vide; nam injusta vincula dirsumpit justitia. Cum
autem correxeris et concordaveris cum fratre tuo solvisti eum in
terra."_ You began to regard your brother as a publican; that is, to
bind him on the earth. But be cautious that you bind him justly, for
justice breaks unjust bonds. But when you have corrected, and afterwards
agreed with your brother, you have loosed him on earth.

From St. Augustine's interpretation, it seems that the person offended
shut up the offender in prison; and that it is to be understood that, if
the offender is put in bonds on earth, he is also in heavenly bonds; but
that if the offended person is inexorable, he becomes bound himself. In
St. Augustine's explanation there is nothing whatever relating to the
Church. The whole matter relates to pardoning or not pardoning an
injury. St. Augustine is not speaking here of the sacerdotal power of
remitting sins in the name of God. That is a right recognized in other
places; a right derived from the sacrament of confession. St. Augustine,
profound as he is in types and allegories, does not consider this famous
passage as alluding to the absolution given or refused by the ministers
of the Roman Catholic Church, in the sacrament of penance.

_Of the "Church" in Christian Societies._

In the greater part of Christian states we perceive no more than four
churches--the Greek, the Roman, the Lutheran, and the reformed or
Calvinistic. It is thus in Germany. The Primitives or Quakers, the
Anabaptists, the Socinians, the Memnonists, the Pietists, the
Moravians, the Jews, and others, do not form a church. The Jewish
religion has preserved the designation of synagogue. The Christian sects
which are tolerated have only private assemblies, "conventicles." It is
the same in London. We do not find the Catholic Church in Sweden, nor in
Denmark, nor in the north of Germany, nor in Holland, nor in three
quarters of Switzerland, nor in the three kingdoms of Great Britain.

_Of the Primitive Church, and of Those Who Have Endeavored to
Re-establish It._

The Jews, as well as all the different people of Syria, were divided
into many different congregations, as we have already seen. All were
aimed at a mystical perfection. A ray of purer light shone upon the
disciples of St. John, who still subsist near Mosul. At last, the Son of
God, announced by St. John, appeared on earth, whose disciples were
always on a perfect equality. Jesus had expressly enjoined them, "There
shall not be any of you either first or last.... I came to serve, not to
be served. He who strives to be master over others shall be their

One proof of equality is that the Christians at first took no other
designation than that of "brethren." They assembled in expectation of
the spirit. They prophesied when they were inspired. St. Paul, in his
first letter to the Corinthians, says to them, "If, in your assembly,
any one of you have the gift of a psalm, a doctrine, a revelation, a
language, an interpretation, let all be done for edification. If any
speak languages, as two or three may do in succession, let there be an

"Let two or three prophets speak, and the others judge; and if anything
be revealed to another while one is speaking, let the latter be silent;
for you may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all exhort;
the spirit of prophecy is subject to the prophets; for the Lord is a God
of peace.... Thus, then, my brethren, be all of you desirous of
prophesying, and hinder not the speaking of languages."

I have translated literally, both out of reverence for the text, and to
avoid any disputes about words. St. Paul, in the same epistle, admits
that women may prophesy; although, in the fourteenth chapter, he forbids
their speaking in the assemblies. "Every woman," says he, "praying or
prophesying without having a veil over her head, dishonoreth her head,
for it is the same as if she were shaven."

It is clear, from all these passages and from many others, that the
first Christians were all equal, not merely as brethren in Jesus Christ,
but as having equal gifts. The spirit was communicated to them equally.
They equally spoke different languages; they had equally the gift of
prophesying, without distinction of rank, age, or sex.

The apostles who instructed the neophytes possessed over them,
unquestionably, that natural pre-eminence which the preceptor has over
the pupil; but of jurisdiction, of temporal authority, of what the world
calls "honors," of distinction in dress, of emblems of superiority,
assuredly neither they, nor those who succeeded them, had any. They
possessed another, and a very different superiority, that of persuasion.

The brethren put their money into one common stock. Seven persons were
chosen by themselves out of their own body, to take charge of the
tables, and to provide for the common wants. They chose, in Jerusalem
itself, those whom we call Stephen, Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon,
Parmenas, and Nicholas. It is remarkable that, among seven persons
chosen by a Jewish community, six were Greeks.

After the time of the apostles we find no example of any Christian who
possessed any other power over other Christians than that of
instructing, exhorting, expelling demons from the bodies of
"energumens," and performing miracles. All is spiritual; nothing savors
of worldly pomp. It was only in the third century that the spirit of
pride, vanity, and interest, began to be manifested among the believers
on every side.

The agapæ had now become splendid festivals, and attracted reproach for
the luxury and profusion which attended them. Tertullian acknowledges

"Yes," says he, "we make splendid and plentiful entertainments, but was
not the same done at the mysteries of Athens and of Egypt? Whatever
learning we display, it is useful and pious, as the poor benefit by it."
_Quantiscumque sumptibus constet, lucrum est pietatis, si quidem inopes
refrigerio isto juvamus._

About this very period, certain societies of Christians, who pronounced
themselves more perfect than the rest, the Montanists, for example, who
boasted of so many prophecies and so austere a morality; who regarded
second nuptials as absolute adulteries, and flight from persecution as
apostasy; who had exhibited in public holy convulsions and ecstasies,
and pretended to speak with God face to face, were convicted, it was
said, of mixing the blood of an infant, a year old, with the bread of
the eucharist. They brought upon the true Christians this dreadful
reproach, which exposed them to persecutions.

Their method of proceeding, according to St. Augustine, was this: they
pricked the whole body of the infant with pins and, kneading up flour
with the blood, made bread of it. If any one died by eating it, they
honored him as a martyr.

Manners were so corrupted that the holy fathers were incessantly
complaining of it. Hear what St. Cyprian says, in his book concerning
tombs: "Every priest," says he, "seeks for wealth and honor with
insatiable avidity. Bishops are without religion; women without modesty;
knavery is general; profane swearing and perjury abound; animosities
divide Christians asunder; bishops abandon their pupils to attend the
exchange, and obtain opulence by merchandise; in short, we please
ourselves alone, and excite the disgust of all the rest of the world."

Before the occurrence of these scandals, the priest Novatian had been
the cause of a very dreadful one to the people of Rome. He was the first
anti-pope. The bishopric of Rome, although secret, and liable to
persecution, was an object of ambition and avarice, on account of the
liberal contributions of the Christians, and the authority attached to
that high situation.

We will not here describe again what is contained in so many authentic
documents, and what we every day hear from the mouths of persons
correctly informed--the prodigious number of schisms and wars; the six
hundred years of fierce hostility between the empire and the priesthood;
the wealth of nations, flowing through a thousand channels, sometimes
into Rome, sometimes into Avignon, when the popes, for two and seventy
years together, fixed their residence in that place; the blood rushing
in streams throughout Europe, either for the interest of a tiara utterly
unknown to Jesus Christ, or on account of unintelligible questions which
He never mentioned. Our religion is not less sacred or less divine for
having been so defiled by guilt and steeped in carnage.

When the frenzy of domination, that dreadful passion of the human heart,
had reached its greatest excess; when the monk Hildebrand, elected
bishop of Rome against the laws, wrested that capital from the emperors,
and forbade all the bishops of the west from bearing the name of pope,
in order to appropriate it to himself alone; when the bishops of
Germany, following his example, made themselves sovereigns, which all
those of France and England also attempted; from those dreadful times
down even to our own, certain Christian societies have arisen which,
under a hundred different names, have endeavored to re-establish the
primitive equality in Christendom.

But what had been practicable in a small society, concealed from the
world, was no longer so in extensive kingdoms. The church militant and
triumphant could no longer be the church humble and unknown. The bishops
and the large, rich, and powerful monastic communities, uniting under
the standards of the new pontificate of Rome, fought at that time _pro
aris et focis_, for their hearths and altars. Crusades, armies, sieges,
battles, rapine, tortures, assassinations by the hand of the
executioner, assassinations by the hands of priests of both the
contending parties, poisonings, devastations by fire and sword--all were
employed to support and to pull down the new ecclesiastical
administration; and the cradle of the primitive church was so hidden as
to be scarcely discoverable under the blood and bones of the slain.

_Of the Primitives called Quakers._

The religious and civil wars of Great Britain having desolated England,
Scotland, and Ireland, in the unfortunate reign of Charles I., William
Penn, son of a vice-admiral, resolved to go and establish what he called
the primitive Church on the shores of North America, in a climate which
appeared to him to be mild and congenial to his own manners. His sect
went under the denomination of "Quakers," a ludicrous designation, but
which they merited, by the trembling of the body which they affected
when preaching, and by a nasal pronunciation, such as peculiarly
distinguished one species of monks in the Roman Church, the Capuchins.
But men may both snuffle and shake, and yet be meek, frugal, modest,
just, and charitable. No one denies that this society of Primitives
displayed an example of all those virtues.

Penn saw that the English bishops and the Presbyterians had been the
cause of a dreadful war on account of a surplice, lawn sleeves, and a
liturgy. He would have neither liturgy, lawn, nor surplice. The apostles
had none of them. Jesus Christ had baptized none. The associates of Penn
declined baptism.

The first believers were equal; these new comers aimed at being so, as
far as possible. The first disciples received the spirit, and spoke in
the assembly; they had no altars, no temples, no ornaments, no tapers,
incense, or ceremonies. Penn and his followers flattered themselves
that they received the spirit, and they renounced all pomp and ceremony.
Charity was in high esteem with the disciples of the Saviour; those of
Penn formed a common purse for assisting the poor. Thus these imitators
of the Essenians and first Christians, although in error with respect to
doctrines and ceremonies, were an astonishing model of order and morals
to every other society of Christians.

At length this singular man went, with five hundred of his followers, to
form an establishment in what was at that time the most savage district
of America. Queen Christina of Sweden had been desirous of founding a
colony there, which, however, had not prospered. The Primitives of Penn
were more successful.

It was on the banks of the Delaware, near the fortieth degree of
latitude. This country belonged to the king of England only because
there were no others who claimed it, and because the people whom we call
savages, and who might have cultivated it, had always remained far
distant in the recesses of the forests. If England had possessed this
country merely by right of conquest, Penn and his Primitives would have
held such an asylum in horror. They looked upon the pretended right of
conquest only as a violation of the right of nature, and as absolute

King Charles II. made Penn sovereign of all this wild country by a
charter granted March 4, 1681. In the following year Penn promulgated
his code of laws. The first was complete civil liberty, in consequence
of which every colonist possessing five acres of land became a member of
the legislature. The next was an absolute prohibition against advocates
and attorneys ever taking fees. The third was the admission of all
religions, and even the permission to every inhabitant to worship God in
his own house, without ever taking part in public worship.

This is the law last mentioned, in the terms of its enactment: "Liberty
of conscience being a right which all men have received from nature with
their very being, and which all peaceable persons ought to maintain, it
is positively established that no person shall be compelled to join in
any public exercise of religion.

"But every one is expressly allowed full power to engage freely in the
public or private exercise of his religion, without incurring thereby
any trouble or impediment, under any pretext; provided that he
acknowledge his belief in one only eternal God Almighty, the creator,
preserver, and governor of the universe, and that he fulfil all the
duties of civil society which he is bound to perform to his fellow

This law is even more indulgent, more humane, than that which was given
to the people of Carolina by Locke, the Plato of England, so superior to
the Plato of Greece. Locke permitted no public religions except such as
should be approved by seven fathers of families. This is a different
sort of wisdom from Penn's.

But that which reflects immortal honor on both legislators, and which
should operate as an eternal example to mankind, is, that this liberty
of conscience has not occasioned the least disturbance. It might, on the
contrary, be said that God had showered down the most distinguished
blessings on the colony of Pennsylvania. It consisted, in 1682, of five
hundred persons, and in less than a century its population had increased
to nearly three hundred thousand. One half of the colonists are of the
primitive religion; twenty different religions comprise the other half.
There are twelve fine chapels in Philadelphia, and in other places every
house is a chapel. This city has deserved its name: "Brotherly Love."
Seven other cities, and innumerable small towns, flourish under this law
of concord. Three hundred vessels leave the port in the course of every

This state, which seems to deserve perpetual duration, was very nearly
destroyed in the fatal war of 1755, when the French, with their savage
allies on one side, and the English, with theirs, on the other, began
with disputing about some frozen districts of Nova Scotia. The
Primitives, faithful to their pacific system of Christianity, declined
to take up arms. The savages killed some of their colonists on the
frontier; the Primitives made no reprisals. They even refused, for a
long time, to pay the troops. They addressed the English general in
these words: "Men are like pieces of clay, which are broken to pieces
one against another. Why should we aid in breaking one another to

At last, in the general assembly of the legislature of Pennsylvania, the
other religions prevailed; troops were raised; the Primitives
contributed money, but declined being armed. They obtained their object,
which was peace with their neighbors. These pretended savages said to
them, "Send us a descendant of the great Penn, who never deceived us;
with him we will treat." A grandson of that great man was deputed, and
peace was concluded. Many of the Primitives had negro slaves to
cultivate their estates. But they blushed at having, in this instance,
imitated other Christians. They gave liberty to their slaves in 1769.

At present all the other colonists imitate them in liberty of
conscience, and although there are among them Presbyterians and persons
of the high church party, no one is molested about his creed. It is this
which has rendered the English power in America equal to that of Spain,
with all its mines of gold and silver. If any method could be devised to
enervate the English colonies it would be to establish in them the

The example of the Primitives, called "Quakers," has given rise in
Pennsylvania to a new society, in a district which it calls Euphrates.
This is the sect of Dunkers or Dumpers, a sect much more secluded from
the world than Penn's; a sort of religious hospitallers, all clothed
uniformly. Married persons are not permitted to reside in the city of
Euphrates: they reside in the country, which they cultivate. The public
treasury supplies all their wants in times of scarcity. This society
administers baptism only to adults. It rejects the doctrine of original
sin as impious, and that of the eternity of punishment as barbarous. The
purity of their lives permits them not to imagine that God will torment
His creatures cruelly or eternally. Gone astray in a corner of the new
world, far from the great flock of the Catholic Church, they are, up to
the present hour, notwithstanding this unfortunate error, the most just
and most inimitable of men.

_Quarrel between the Greek and Latin Churches in Asia and Europe._

It has been a matter of lamentation to all good men for nearly fourteen
centuries that the Greek and Latin Churches have always been rivals, and
that the robe of Jesus Christ, which was without a seam, has been
continually rent asunder. This opposition is perfectly natural. Rome and
Constantinople hate each other. When masters cherish a mutual aversion,
their dependents entertain no mutual regard. The two communions have
disputed on the superiority of language, the antiquity of sees, on
learning, eloquence, and power.

It is certain that, for a long time, the Greeks possessed all the
advantage. They boasted that they had been the masters of the Latins,
and that they had taught them everything. The Gospels were written in
Greek. There was not a doctrine, a rite, a mystery, a usage, which was
not Greek; from the word "baptism" to the word "eucharist" all was
Greek. No fathers of the Church were known except among the Greeks till
St. Jerome, and even he was not a Roman, but a Dalmatian. St. Augustine,
who flourished soon after St. Jerome, was an African. The seven great
ecumenical councils were held in Greek cities: the bishops of Rome were
never present at them, because they were acquainted only with their own
Latin language, which was already exceedingly corrupted.

The hostility between Rome and Constantinople broke out in 452, at the
Council of Chalcedon, which had been assembled to decide whether Jesus
Christ had possessed two natures and one person, or two persons with one
nature. It was there decided that the Church of Constantinople was in
every respect equal to that of Rome, as to honors, and the patriarch of
the one equal in every respect to the patriarch of the other. The pope,
St. Leo, admitted the two natures, but neither he nor his successors
admitted the equality. It may be observed that, in this dispute about
rank and pre-eminence, both parties were in direct opposition to the
injunction of Jesus Christ, recorded in the Gospel: "There shall not be
among you first or last." Saints are saints, but pride will insinuate
itself everywhere. The same disposition which made a mason's son, who
had been raised to a bishopric, foam with rage because he was not
addressed by the title of "my lord," has set the whole Christian world
in flames.

The Romans were always less addicted to disputation, less subtle, than
the Greeks, but they were much more politic. The bishops of the east,
while they argued, yet remained subjects: the bishop of Rome, without
arguments, contrived eventually to establish his power on the ruins of
the western empire. And what Virgil said of the Scipios and Cæsars might
be said of the popes:

_"Romanos rerum dominos gentemque togatam"_--Æneid, i. 286.

This mutual hatred led, at length, to actual division, in the time of
Photius, papa or overseer of the Byzantine Church, and Nicholas I., papa
or overseer of the Roman Church. As, unfortunately, an ecclesiastical
quarrel scarcely ever occurs without something ludicrous being attached
to it, it happened, in this instance, that the contest began between two
patriarchs, both of whom were eunuchs: Ignatius and Photius, who
disputed the chair of Constantinople, were both emasculated. This
mutilation depriving them of the power of becoming natural fathers, they
could become fathers only of the Church. It is observed that persons of
this unfortunate description are meddling, malignant, and plotting.
Ignatius and Photius kept the whole Greek court in a state of

The Latin, Nicholas I., having taken the part of Ignatius, Photius
declared him a heretic, on account of his admitting the doctrine that
the breath of God, or the Holy Spirit, proceeded from the Father and the
Son, contrary to the unanimous decision of the whole Church, which had
decided that it proceeded from the Father only.

Besides this heretical doctrine respecting the procession, Nicholas ate,
and permitted to be eaten, eggs and cheese in Lent. In fine, as the very
climax of unbelief, the Roman papa had his beard shaved, which, to the
Greek papas, was nothing less than downright apostasy; as Moses, the
patriarchs, and Jesus Christ were always, by the Greek and Latin
painters, pictured with beards.

When, in 879, the patriarch Photius was restored to his seat by the
eighth ecumenical council--consisting of four hundred bishops, three
hundred of whom had condemned him in the preceding council--he was
acknowledged by Pope John as his brother. Two legates, despatched by him
to this council, joined the Greek Church, and declared that whoever
asserted the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father and the Son was a
Judas. But the practice of shaving the chin and eating eggs in Lent
being persisted in, the two churches always remained divided.

The schism was completed in 1053 and 1054, when Michael Cerularius,
patriarch of Constantinople, publicly condemned the bishop of Rome, Leo
IX., and all the Latins, adding to all the reproaches against them by
Photius that, contrary to the practice of the apostles, they dared to
make use of unleavened bread in the eucharist; that they wickedly ate
blood puddings, and twisted the necks, instead of cutting off the heads,
of pigeons intended for the table. All the Latin churches in the Greek
empire were shut up, and all intercourse with those who ate blood
puddings was forbidden.

Pope Leo IX. entered into serious negotiation on this matter with the
Emperor Constantine Monomachus, and obtained some mitigations. It was
precisely at this period that those celebrated Norman gentlemen, the
sons of Tancred de Hauteville, despising at once the pope and the Greek
emperor, plundered everything they could in Apulia and Calabria, and ate
blood puddings with the utmost hardihood. The Greek emperor favored the
pope as much as he was able; but nothing could reconcile the Greeks with
the Latins. The Greeks regarded their adversaries as barbarians, who did
not know a single word of Greek. The irruption of the Crusaders, under
pretence of delivering the Holy Land, but in reality to gain possession
of Constantinople, completed the hatred entertained against the Romans.

But the power of the Latin Church increased every day, and the Greeks
were at length gradually vanquished by the Turks. The popes, long
since, became powerful and wealthy sovereigns; the whole Greek Church
became slaves from the time of Mahomet II., except Russia, which was
then a barbarous country, and in which the Church was of no account.

Whoever is but slightly informed of the state of affair in the Levant
knows that the sultan confers the patriarchate of the Greeks by a cross
and a ring, without any apprehension of being excommunicated, as some of
the German emperors were by the popes, for this same ceremony.

It is certainly true that the church of Stamboul has preserved, in
appearance, the liberty of choosing its archbishop; but never, in fact,
chooses any other than the person pointed out by the Ottoman court. This
preferment costs, at present, about eighty thousand francs, which the
person chosen contrives to get refunded from the Greeks. If any canon of
influence and wealth comes forward, and offers the grand vizier a large
sum, the titular possessor is deprived, and the place given to the last
bidder; precisely as the see of Rome was disposed of, in the tenth
century, by Marozia and Theodora. If the titular patriarch resists, he
receives fifty blows on the soles of his feet, and is banished.
Sometimes he is beheaded, as was the case with Lucas Cyrille, in 1638.

The Grand Turk disposes of all the other bishoprics, in the same manner,
for money; and the price charged for every bishopric under Mahomet II.
is always stated in the patent; but the additional sum paid is not
mentioned in it. It is not exactly known what a Greek priest gives for
his bishopric.

These patents are rather diverting documents: "I grant to N----, a
Christian priest, this order, for the perfection of his felicity. I
command him to reside in the city herein named, as bishop of the infidel
Christians, according to their ancient usage, and their vain and
extravagant ceremonies, willing and ordaining that all Christians of
that district shall acknowledge him, and that no monk or priest shall
marry without his permission." That is to say, without paying for the

The slavery of this Church is equal to its ignorance. But the Greeks
have only what they deserve. They were wholly absorbed in disputes about
the light on Mount Tabor, and the umbilical cord, at the very time of
the taking of Constantinople.

While recording these melancholy truths we entertain the hope that the
Empress Catherine II. will give the Greeks their liberty. Would she
could restore to them that courage and that intellect which they
possessed in the days of Miltiades and Themistocles; and that Mount
Athos supplied good soldiers and fewer monks.

_Of the Present Greek Church._

The Greek Church has scarcely deserved the toleration which the
Mussulmans granted it. The following observations are from Mr. Porter,
the English ambassador in Turkey:

"I am inclined to draw a veil over, those scandalous disputes between
the Greeks and Romans, on the subject of Bethlehem and the holy land, as
they denominate it. The unjust and odious proceedings which these have
occasioned between them are a disgrace to the Christian name. In the
midst of these debates the ambassador appointed to protect the Romish
communion becomes, with all high dignity, an object of sincere

"In every country where the Roman Catholic prevails, immense sums are
levied in order to support against the Greek's equivocal pretensions to
the precarious possession of a corner of the world reputed holy; and to
preserve in the hands of the monks of the Latin communion the remains of
an old stable at Bethlehem, where a chapel has been erected, and where
on the doubtful authority of oral tradition, it is pretended that Christ
was born; as also a tomb, which may be, and most probably may not be,
what is called his sepulchre; for the precise situation of these two
places is as little ascertained as that which contains the ashes of

What renders the Greeks yet more contemptible in the eyes of the Turks
is the miracle which they perform every year at Easter. The poor bishop
of Jerusalem is inclosed in a small cave, which is passed off for the
tomb of our Lord Jesus Christ, with packets of small wax tapers; he
strikes fire, lights one of these little tapers, and comes out of his
cave exclaiming: "The fire is come down from heaven, and the holy taper
is lighted." All the Greeks immediately buy up these tapers, and the
money is divided between the Turkish commander and the bishop. The
deplorable state of this Church, under the dominion of the Turk, may be
judged from this single trait.

The Greek Church in Russia has of late assumed a much more respectable
consistency, since the Empress Catherine II. has delivered it from its
secular cares; she has taken from it four hundred thousand slaves, which
it possessed. It is now paid out of the imperial treasury, entirely
dependent on the government, and restricted by wise laws; it can effect
nothing but good, and is every day becoming more learned and useful. It
possesses a preacher of the name of Plato, who has composed sermons
which the Plato of antiquity would not have disdained.


England is the country of sects; "_multæ sunt mansiones in domo patris
mei:_" an Englishman, like a free man, goes to heaven which way he
pleases. However, although every one can serve God in his own way, the
national religion--that in which fortunes are made--is the Episcopal,
called the Church of England, or emphatically, "The Church." No one can
have employment of any consequence, either in England or Ireland,
without being members of the establishment. This reasoning, which is
highly demonstrative, has converted so many nonconformists that at
present there is not a twentieth part of the nation out of the bosom of
the dominant church.

[Illustration: Empress Catherine.]

The English clergy have retained many Catholic ceremonies, and above all
that of receiving tithes, with a very scrupulous attention. They also
possess the pious ambition of ruling the people, for what village rector
would not be a pope if he could?

With regard to manners, the English clergy are more decorous than those
of France, chiefly because the ecclesiastics are brought up in the
universities of Oxford and Cambridge, far from the corruption of the
metropolis. They are not called to the dignities of the Church until
very late, and at an age when men, having no other passion than avarice,
their ambition is less aspiring. Employments are, in England, the
recompense of long service in the church, as well as in the army. You do
not _there_ see young men become bishops or colonels on leaving college;
and, moreover, almost all the priests are married. The pedantry and
awkwardness of manners, acquired in the universities, and the little
commerce they have with women, generally oblige a bishop to be contented
with the one which belongs to him. The clergy go sometimes to the
tavern, because custom permits it, and if they get "_Bacchi plenum_" it
is in the college style, gravely and with due decorum.

That indefinable character which is neither ecclesiastical nor secular,
which we call abbé, is unknown in England. The ecclesiastics there are
generally respected, and for the greater part pedants. When the latter
learn that in France young men distinguished by their debaucheries, and
raised to the prelacy by the intrigues of women, publicly make love; vie
with each other in the composition of love songs; give luxurious suppers
every day, from which they arise to implore the light of the Holy
Spirit, and boldly call themselves the apostles' successors--they thank
God they are Protestants. But what then? They arc vile heretics, and fit
only for burning, as master Francis Rabelais says, "with all the
devils." Hence I drop the subject.


The Gospel forbids those who would attain perfection to amass treasures,
and to preserve their temporal goods: "Lay not up for yourselves
treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where
thieves break through and steal." "If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell
that thou hast, and give to the poor." "And every one that hath forsaken
houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or
children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundred-fold,
and shall inherit everlasting life."

The apostles and their first successors would not receive estates; they
only accepted the value, and, after having provided what was necessary
for their subsistence, they distributed the rest among the poor.
Sapphira and Ananias did not give their goods to St. Peter, but they
sold them and brought him the price: _"Vende quæ habes et da

The Church already possessed considerable property at the close of the
third century, since Diocletian and Maximian had pronounced the
confiscation of it, in 302.

As soon as Constantine was upon the throne he permitted the churches to
be endowed like the temples of the ancient religion, and from that time
the Church acquired rich estates. St. Jerome complains of it in one of
his letters to Eustochium: "When you see them," says he, "accost the
rich widows whom they meet with a soft and sanctified air, you would
think that their hands were only extended to give them their blessing;
but it is, on the contrary, to receive the price of their hypocrisy."

The holy priests received without claiming. Valentinian I. thought it
right to forbid the ecclesiastics from receiving anything from widows
and women, by will or otherwise. This law, which is found in the
Theodosian code, was revoked by Marcian and Justinian.

Justinian, to favor the ecclesiastics, forbade the judges, by his new
code xviii. chap. ii., to annul the wills made in favor of the Church,
even when executed without the formalities prescribed by the laws.

Anastasius had enacted, in 471, that church property should be held by a
prescription, or title, of forty years' duration. Justinian inserted
this law in his code; but this prince, who was continually changing his
jurisprudence, subsequently extended this proscription to a century.
Immediately several ecclesiastics, unworthy of their profession, forged
false titles, and drew out of the dust old testaments, void by the
ancient laws, but valid according to the new. Citizens were deprived of
their patrimonies by fraud; and possessions, which until then were
considered inviolable, were usurped by the Church. In short, the abuse
was so crying that Justinian himself was obliged to re-establish the
dispositions of the law of Anastasius, by his novel cxxxi. chap. vi.

The possessions of the Church during the first five centuries of our era
were regulated by deacons, who distributed them to the clergy and to the
poor. This community ceased at the end of the fifth century, and Church
property was divided into four parts--one being given to the bishops,
another to the clergy, a third to the place of worship, and the fourth
to the poor. Soon after this division the bishops alone took charge of
the whole four portions, and this is the reason why the inferior clergy
are generally very poor.

_Monks possessing Slaves._

What is still more melancholy, the Benedictines, Bernardines, and even
the Chartreux are permitted to have mortmains and slaves. Under their
domination in several provinces of France and Germany are still
recognized: personal slavery, slavery of property, and slavery of person
and property. Slavery of the person consists in the incapacity of a
man's disposing of his property in favor of his children, if they have
not always lived with their father in the same house, and at the same
table, in which case all belongs to the monks. The fortune of an
inhabitant of Mount Jura, put into the hands of a notary, becomes, even
in Paris, the prey of those who have originally embraced evangelical
poverty at Mount Jura. The son asks alms at the door of the house which
his father has built; and the monks, far from giving them, even arrogate
to themselves the right of not paying his father's creditors, and of
regarding as void all the mortgages on the house of which they take
possession. In vain the widow throws herself at their feet to obtain a
part of her dowry. This dowry, these debts, this paternal property, all
belong, by divine right, to the monks. The creditors, the widow, and the
children are all left to die in beggary.

Real slavery is that which is effected by residence. Whoever occupies a
house within the domain of these monks, and lives in it a year and a
day, becomes their serf for life. It has sometimes happened that a
French merchant, and father of a family, led by his business into this
barbarous country, has taken a house for a year. Dying afterwards in his
own country, in another province of France, his widow and children have
been quite astonished to see officers, armed with writs, come and take
away their furniture, sell it in the name of St. Claude, and drive away
a whole family from the house of their father.

Mixed slavery is that which, being composed of the two, is, of all that
rapacity has ever invented, the most execrable, and beyond the
conception even of freebooters. There are, then, Christian people
groaning in a triple slavery under monks who have taken the vow of
humility and poverty. You will ask how governments suffer these fatal
contradictions? It is because the monks are rich and the vassals are
poor. It is because the monks, to preserve their Hunnish rights, make
presents to their commissaries and to the mistresses of those who might
interpose their authority to put down their oppression. The strong
always crush the weak; but why must monks be the stronger?


It is at a time when, in France, the fine arts are in a state of
decline; in an age of paradox, and amidst the degradation and
persecution of literature and philosophy, that an attempt is made to
tarnish the name of Cicero. And who is the man who thus endeavors to
throw disgrace upon his memory? It is one who lends his services in
defence of persons accused like himself; it is an advocate, who has
studied eloquence under that great master; it is a citizen who appears
to be, like Cicero, animated by devotion to the public good.

In a book entitled "Navigable Canals," a book abounding in grand and
patriotic rather than practical views, we feel no small astonishment at
finding the following philippic against Cicero, who was never concerned
in digging canals:

"The most glorious trait in the history of Cicero is the destruction of
Catiline's conspiracy, which, regarded in its true light, produced
little sensation at Rome, except in consequence of his affecting to give
it importance. The danger existed much more in his discourses than in
the affair itself. It was an enterprise of debauchees which it was easy
to disconcert. Neither the principal nor the accomplices had taken the
slightest measure to insure the success of their guilty attempt. There
was nothing astonishing in this singular matter but the blustering which
attended all the proceedings of the consul, and the facility with which
he was permitted to sacrifice to his self-love so many scions of
illustrious families.

"Besides, the life of Cicero abounds in traits of meanness. His
eloquence was as venal as his soul was pusillanimous. If his tongue was
not guided by interest it was guided by fear or hope. The desire of
obtaining partisans led him to the tribune, to defend, without a blush,
men more dishonorable, and incalculably more dangerous, than Catiline.
His clients were nearly all miscreants, and, by a singular exercise of
divine justice, he at last met death from the hands of one of those
wretches whom his skill had extricated from the fangs of human justice."

We answer that, "regarded in its true light," the conspiracy of Catiline
excited at Rome somewhat more than a "slight sensation." It plunged her
into the greatest disturbance and danger. It was terminated only by a
battle so bloody that there is no example of equal carnage, and scarcely
any of equal valor. All the soldiers of Catiline, after having killed
half of the army of Petrius, were killed, to the last man. Catiline
perished, covered with wounds, upon a heap of the slain; and all were
found with their countenances sternly glaring upon the enemy. This was
not an enterprise so wonderfully easy as to be disconcerted. Cæsar
encouraged it; Cæsar learned from it to conspire on a future day more
successfully against his country.

"Cicero defended, without a blush, men more dishonorable, and
incalculably more dangerous than Catiline!" Was this when he defended in
the tribune Sicily against Verres, and the Roman republic against
Antony? Was it when he exhorted the clemency of Cæsar in favor of
Ligarius and King Deiotarus? or when he obtained the right of
citizenship for the poet Archias? or when, in his exquisite oration for
the Manilian law, he obtained every Roman suffrage on behalf of the
great Pompey?

He pleaded for Milo, the murderer of Clodius; but Clodius had deserved
the tragical end he met with by his outrages. Clodius had been involved
in the conspiracy of Catiline; Clodius was his mortal enemy. He had
irritated Rome against him, and had punished him for having saved Rome.
Milo was his friend.

What! is it in our time that any one ventures to assert that God
punished Cicero for having defended a military tribune called Popilius
Lena, and that divine vengeance made this same Popilius Lena the
instrument of his assassination? No one knows whether Popilius Lena was
guilty of the crime of which he was acquitted, after Cicero's defence of
him upon his trial; but all know that the monster was guilty of the most
horrible ingratitude, the most infamous avarice, and the most detestable
cruelty to obtain the money of three wretches like himself. It was
reserved for our times to hold up the assassination of Cicero as an act
of divine justice. The triumvirs would not have dared to do it. Every
age, before the present, has detested and deplored the manner of his

Cicero is reproached with too frequently boasting that he had saved
Rome, and with being too fond of glory. But his enemies endeavored to
stain his glory. A tyrannical faction condemned him to exile, and razed
his house, because he had preserved every house in Rome from the flames
which Catiline had prepared for them. Men are permitted and even bound
to boast of their services, when they meet with forgetfulness or
ingratitude, and more particularly when they are converted into crimes.

Scipio is still admired for having answered his accusers in these words:
"This is the anniversary of the day on which I vanquished Hannibal; let
us go and return thanks to the gods." The whole assembly followed him to
the Capitol, and our hearts follow him thither also, as we read the
passage in history; though, after all, it would have been better to have
delivered in his accounts than to extricate himself from the attack by a
_bon mot_.

Cicero, in the same manner, excited the admiration of the Roman people
when, on the day in which his consulship expired, being obliged to take
the customary oaths, and preparing to address the people as was usual,
he was hindered by the tribune Matellus, who was desirous of insulting
him. Cicero had begun with these words: "I swear,"--the tribune
interrupted him, and declared that he would not suffer him to make a
speech. A great murmuring was heard. Cicero paused a moment, and
elevating his full and melodious voice, he exclaimed, as a short
substitute for his intended speech, "I swear that I have saved the
country." The assembly cried out with delight and enthusiasm, "We swear
that he has spoken the truth." That moment was the most brilliant of
his life. This is the true way of loving glory. I do not know where I
have read these unknown verses:

     _Romains, j'aime la gloire, et ne veux point m'en taire_
     _Des travaux des humains c'est le digne salaire,_
     _Ce n'est qu'en vous qu'il la faut acheter;_
     _Qui n'ose la vouloir, n'ose la mériter._

     Romans, I own that glory I regard
     Of human toil the only just reward;
     Placed in your hands the immortal guerdon lies,
     And he will ne'er deserve who slights the prize.

Can we despise Cicero if we consider his conduct in his government of
Cilicia, which was then one of the most important provinces of the Roman
Empire, in consequence of its contiguity to Syria and the Parthian
Empire. Laodicea, one of the most beautiful cities of the East, was the
capital of it. This province was then as flourishing as it is at the
present day degraded under the government of the Turks, who never had a

He begins by protecting Ariobarzanes, king of Cappadocia, and he refuses
the presents which that king desires to make him. The Parthians come and
attack Antioch in a state of perfect peace. Cicero hastily marches
towards it, comes up with the Parthians by forced marches at Mount
Taurus, routs them, pursues them in their retreat, and Arsaces, their
general, is slain, with a part of his army.

Thence he rushes on Pendenissum, the capital of a country in alliance
with the Parthians, and takes it, and the province is reduced to
submission. He instantly directs his forces against the tribes of
people called Tiburanians, and defeats them, and his troops confer on
him the title of Imperator, which he preserved all his life. He would
have obtained the honors of a triumph at Rome if he had not been opposed
by Cato, who induced the senate merely to decree public rejoicings and
thanks to the gods, when, in fact, they were due to Cicero.

If we picture to ourselves the equity and disinterestedness of Cicero in
his government; his activity, his affability--two virtues so rarely
compatible; the benefits which he accumulated upon the people over whom
he was an absolute sovereign; it will be extremely difficult to withhold
from such a man our esteem.

If we reflect that this is the same man who first introduced philosophy
into Rome; that his "Tusculan Questions," and his book "On the Nature of
the Gods," are the two noblest works that ever were written by mere
human wisdom, and that his treatise, "_De Officiis_," is the most useful
one that we possess in morals; we shall find it still more difficult to
despise Cicero. We pity those who do not read him; we pity still more
those who refuse to do him justice.

To the French detractor we may well oppose the lines of the Spanish
Martial, in his epigram against Antony (book v., epig. 69, v. 7):

     _Quid prosunt sacræ pretiosa silentia linguae?_
     _Incipient omnes pro Cicerone loqui._

     Why still his tongue with vengeance weak,
     For Cicero all the world will speak!

See, likewise, what is said by Juvenal (sat. iv., v. 244):

     _Roma patrem patriae Ciceronem libera dixit._
     Freed Rome, him father of his country called.


When Herodotus narrates what he was told by the barbarians among whom he
travelled, he narrates fooleries, after the manner of the greater part
of travellers. Thus, it is not to be supposed that he expects to be
believed in his recital of the adventure of Gyges and Candaules; of
Arion, carried on the back of a dolphin; of the oracle which was
consulted on what Crœsus was at the time doing, that he was then
going to dress a tortoise in a stew-pan; of Darius' horse, which, being
the first out of a certain number to neigh, in fact proclaimed his
master a king; and of a hundred other fables, fit to amuse children, and
to be compiled by rhetoricians. But when he speaks of what he has seen,
of the customs of people he has examined, of their antiquities which he
has consulted, he then addresses himself to men.

"It appears," says he, in his book "_Euterpe_," "that the inhabitants of
Colchis sprang from Egypt. I judge so from my own observations rather
than from hearsay; for I found that, at Colchis, the ancient Egyptians
were more frequently recalled to my mind than the ancient customs of
Colchis were when I was in Egypt.

"These inhabitants of the shores of the Euxine Sea stated themselves to
be a colony founded by Sesostris. As for myself, I should think this
probable, not merely because they are dark and woolly-haired, but
because the inhabitants of Colchis, Egypt, and Ethiopia are the only
people in the world who, from time immemorial, have practised
circumcision; for the Phœnicians, and the people of Palestine,
confess that they adopted the practice from the Egyptians. The Syrians,
who at present inhabit the banks of Thermodon, acknowledge that it is,
comparatively, but recently that they have conformed to it. It is
principally from this usage that they are considered of Egyptian origin.

"With respect to Ethiopia and Egypt, as this ceremony is of great
antiquity in both nations, I cannot by any means ascertain which has
derived it from the other. It is, however, probable that the Ethiopians
received it from the Egyptians; while, on the contrary, the
Phœnicians have abolished the practice of circumcising new-born
children since the enlargement of their commerce with the Greeks."

From this passage of Herodotus it is evident that many people had
adopted circumcision from Egypt, but no nation ever pretended to have
received it from the Jews. To whom, then, can we attribute the origin of
this custom; to a nation from whom five or six others acknowledge they
took it, or to another nation, much less powerful, less commercial, less
warlike, hid away in a corner of Arabia Petræa, and which never
communicated any one of its usages to any other people?

The Jews admit that they were, many ages since, received in Egypt out of
charity. Is it not probable that the lesser people imitated a usage of
the superior one, and that the Jews adopted some customs from their

Clement of Alexandria relates that Pythagoras, when travelling among the
Egyptians, was obliged to be circumcised in order to be admitted to
their mysteries. It was, therefore, absolutely necessary to be
circumcised to be a priest in Egypt. Those priests existed when Joseph
arrived in Egypt. The government was of great antiquity, and the ancient
ceremonies of the country were observed with the most scrupulous

The Jews acknowledge that they remained in Egypt two hundred and five
years. They say that, during that period, they did not become
circumcised. It is clear, then, that for two hundred and five years the
Egyptians did not receive circumcision from the Jews. Would they have
adopted it from them after the Jews had stolen the vessels which they
had lent them, and, according to their own account, fled with their
plunder into the wilderness? Will a master adopt the principal symbol of
the religion of a robbing and runaway slave? It is not in human nature.

It is stated in the Book of Joshua that the Jews were circumcised in the
wilderness. "I have delivered you from what constituted your reproach
among the Egyptians." But what could this reproach be, to a people
living between Phœnicians, Arabians, and Egyptians, but something
which rendered them contemptible to these three nations? How effectually
is that reproach removed by abstracting a small portion of the prepuce?
Must not this be considered the natural meaning of the passage?

The Book of Genesis relates that Abraham had been circumcised before.
But Abraham travelled in Egypt, which had been long a flourishing
kingdom, governed by a powerful king. There is nothing to prevent the
supposition that circumcision was, in this very ancient kingdom, an
established usage. Moreover, the circumcision of Abraham led to no
continuation; his posterity was not circumcised till the time of Joshua.

But, before the time of Joshua, the Jews, by their own acknowledgment,
adopted many of the customs of the Egyptians. They imitated them in many
sacrifices, in many ceremonies; as, for example, in the fasts observed
on the eves of the feasts of Isis; in ablutions; in the custom of
shaving the heads of the priests; in the incense, the branched
candle-stick, the sacrifice of the red-haired cow, the purification with
hyssop, the abstinence from swine's flesh, the dread of using the
kitchen utensils of foreigners; everything testifies that the little
people of Hebrews, notwithstanding its aversion to the great Egyptian
nation, had retained a vast number of the usages of its former masters.
The goat Azazel, which was despatched into the wilderness laden with the
sins of the people, was a visible imitation of an Egyptian practice. The
rabbis are agreed, even, that the word Azazel is not Hebrew. Nothing,
therefore, could exist to have prevented the Hebrews from imitating the
Egyptians in circumcision, as the Arabs, their neighbors, did.

It is by no means extraordinary that God, who sanctified baptism, a
practice so ancient among the Asiatics, should also have sanctified
circumcision, not less ancient among the Africans. We have already
remarked that he has a sovereign right to attach his favors to any
symbol that he chooses.

As to what remains since the time when, under Joshua, the Jewish people
became circumcised, it has retained that usage down to the present day.
The Arabs, also, have faithfully adhered to it; but the Egyptians, who,
in the earlier ages, circumcised both their males and females, in the
course of time abandoned the practice entirely as to the latter, and at
last applied it solely to priests, astrologers, and prophets. This we
learn from Clement of Alexandria, and Origen. In fact, it is not clear
that the Ptolemies ever received circumcision.

The Latin authors who treat the Jews with such profound contempt as to
apply to them in derision the expressions, "_curtus Apella_", "_credat
Judæus Apella_," "_curti Judæi_" never apply such epithets to the
Egyptians. The whole population of Egypt is at present circumcised, but
for another reason than that which operated formerly; namely, because
Mahometanism adopted the ancient circumcision of Arabia. It is this
Arabian circumcision which has extended to the Ethiopians, among whom
males and females are both still circumcised.

We must acknowledge that this ceremony appears at first a very strange
one; but we should remember that, from the earliest times, the oriental
priests consecrated themselves to their deities by peculiar marks. An
ivy leaf was indented with a graver on the priests of Bacchus. Lucian
tells us that those devoted to the goddess Isis impressed characters
upon their wrist and neck. The priests of Cybele made themselves

It is highly probable that the Egyptians, who revered the instrument of
human production, and bore its image in pomp in their processions,
conceived the idea of offering to Isis and Osiris through whom
everything on earth was produced, a small portion of that organ with
which these deities had connected the perpetuation of the human species.
Ancient oriental manners are so prodigiously different from our own that
scarcely anything will appear extraordinary to a man of even but little
reading. A Parisian is excessively surprised when he is told that the
Hottentots deprive their male children of one of the evidences of
virility. The Hottentots are perhaps surprised that the Parisians
preserve both.


There may be something perhaps still remaining for remark under this
head, even after Du Cange's "Dictionary" and the "Encyclopædia." We may
observe, for instance, that so wonderful was the respect paid to
learning, about the eleventh and twelfth centuries, that a custom was
introduced and followed in France, in Germany, and in England, of
remitting the punishment of the halter to every condemned criminal who
was able to read. So necessary to the state was every man who possessed
such an extent of knowledge. William the Bastard, the conqueror of
England, carried thither this custom. It was called _benefit of
clergy_--"_beneficum clericorum aut clergicorum._"

We have remarked, in more places than one, that old usages, lost in
other countries, are found again in England, as in the island of
Samothrace were discovered the ancient mysteries of Orpheus. To this day
the benefit of clergy subsists among the English, in all its vigor, for
manslaughter, and for any theft not exceeding a certain amount of value,
and being the first offence. The prisoner who is able to read demands
his "benefit of clergy," which cannot be refused him. The judge refers
to the chaplain of the prison, who presents a book to the prisoner, upon
which the judge puts the question to the chaplain, "_Legit?_" "Does he
read?" The chaplain replies: "_Legit ut clericus._" "He reads like a
clergyman." After this the punishment of the prisoner is restricted to
the application of a hot branding iron to the palm of his hand.

_Of the Celibacy of the Clergy._

It is asked whether, in the first ages of the Church, marriage was
permitted to the clergy, and when it was forbidden? It is unquestionable
that the clergy of the Jewish religion, far from being bound to
celibacy, were, on the contrary, urged to marriage, not merely by the
example of their patriarchs, but by the disgrace attached to not leaving

In the times, however, that preceded the first calamities which befell
the Jews, certain sects of rigorists arose--Essenians, Judaites,
Therapeutæ, Herodians; in some of which--the Essenians and Therapeutæ,
for examples--the most devout of the sect abstained from marriage. This
continence was an imitation of the chastity of the vestals, instituted
by Numa Pompilius; of the daughter of Pythagoras, who founded a convent;
of the priests of Diana; of the Pythia of Delphos; and, in more remote
antiquity, of the priestesses of Apollo, and even of the priestesses of
Bacchus. The priests of Cybele not only bound themselves by vows of
chastity, but, to preclude the violation of their vows, became eunuchs.
Plutarch, in the eighth question of his "Table-talk," informs us that,
in Egypt, there are colleges of priests which renounce marriage.

The first Christians, although professing to lead a life as pure as that
of the Essenians and Therapeutæ, did not consider celibacy as a virtue.
We have seen that nearly all the apostles and disciples were married.
St. Paul writes to Titus: "Choose for a priest him who is the husband of
one wife, having believing children, and not under accusation of
dissoluteness." He says the same to Timothy: "Let the superintendent be
the husband of one wife." He seems to think so highly of marriage that,
in the same epistle to Timothy, he says: "The wife, notwithstanding her
prevarication, shall be saved in child-bearing."

The proceedings of the Council of Nice, on the subject of married
priests, deserve great attention. Some bishops, according to the
relations of Sozomen and Socrates, proposed a law commanding bishops and
priests thenceforward to abstain from their wives; but St. Paphnucius
the Martyr, bishop of Thebes, in Egypt, strenuously opposed it;
observing, "that marriage was chastity"; and the council adopted his
opinion. Suidas, Gelasius, Cesicenus, Cassiodorus, and Nicephorus
Callistus, record precisely the same thing. The council merely forbade
the clergy from living with agapetæ, or female associates besides their
own wives, except their mothers, sisters, aunts, and others whose age
would preclude suspicion.

After that time, the celibacy of the clergy was recommended, without
being commanded. St. Jerome, a devout recluse, was, of all the fathers,
highest in his eulogiums of the celibacy of priests; yet he resolutely,
supports the cause of Carterius, a Spanish bishop, who had been married
twice. "Were I," says he, "to enumerate all the bishops who have entered
into second nuptials, I should name as many as were present at the
Council of Rimini"--_"Tantus numerus congregabitur ut Riminensis synodus

The examples of clergymen married, and living with their wives, are
innumerable. Sydonius, bishop of Clermont, in Auvergne, in the fifth
century, married Papianilla, daughter of the Emperor Avitus, and the
house of Polignac claims descent from this marriage. Simplicius, bishop
of Bourges, had two children by his wife Palladia. St. Gregory of
Nazianzen was the son of another Gregory, bishop of Nazianzen, and of
Nonna, by whom that bishop had three children--Cesarius, Gorgonia, and
the saint.

In the Roman decretals, under the canon Osius, we find a very long list
of bishops who were the sons of priests. Pope Osius himself was the son
of a sub-deacon Stephen; and Pope Boniface I., son of the priest
Jocondo. Pope Felix III. was the son of Felix, a priest, and was himself
one of the grandfathers of Gregory the Great. The priest Projectus was
the father of John II.; and Gordian, the father of Agapet. Pope
Sylvester was the son of Pope Hormisdas. Theodore I. was born of a
marriage of Theodore, patriarch of Jerusalem; a circumstance which
should produce the reconciliation of the two Churches.

At length, after several councils had been held without effect on the
subject of the celibacy, which ought always to accompany the priesthood,
Pope Gregory excommunicated all married priests; either to add
respectability to the Church, by the greater rigor of its discipline, or
to attach more closely to the court of Rome the bishops and priests of
other countries, who would thus have no other family than the Church.
This law was not established without great opposition.

It is a very remarkable circumstance that the Council of Basel, having
deposed, at least nominally, Pope Eugenius IV., and elected Amadeus of
Savoy, many bishops having objected against that prince that he had been
married, Æneas Sylvius, who was afterwards pope, under the name of Pius
II., supported the election of Amadeus in these words: "_Non solum qui
uxorem habuit, sed uxorem habens, potest assumere_"--"Not only may he be
made a pope who _has been_ married, but also he who _is_ so."

This Pius II. was consistent. Peruse his letters to his mistress, in the
collection of his works. He was convinced, that to defraud nature of her
rights was absolute insanity, and that it was the duty of man not to
destroy, but to control her.

However this may be, since the Council of Trent there has no longer been
any dispute about the celibacy of the Roman Catholic clergy; there have
been only desires. All Protestant communions are, on this point, in
opposition to Rome.

In the Greek Church, which at present extends from the frontiers of
China to Cape Matapan, the priests may marry once. Customs everywhere
vary; discipline changes conformably to time and place. We here only
record facts; we enter into no controversy.

_Of Clerks of the Closet, Since Denominated Secretaries of State and

Clerks of the closet, clerks of the king, more recently denominated
secretaries of state, in France and England, were originally the "king's
notaries." They were afterwards called "secretaries of orders"
--_secrétaires des commandemens_. This we are informed of by the
learned and laborious Pasquier. His authority is unquestionable, as he
had under his inspection the registers of the chamber of accounts,
which, in our own times, have been destroyed by fire.

At the unfortunate peace of Cateau-Cambrésis, a clerk of Philip II.,
having taken the title of secretary of state, de l'Aubespine, who was
secretary of orders to the king of France, and his notary, took that
title likewise, that the honors of both might be equal, whatever might
be the case with their emoluments.

In England, before the reign of Henry VIII., there was only one
secretary of the king, who stood while he presented memorials and
petitions to the council. Henry VIII. appointed two, and conferred on
them the same titles and prerogatives as in Spain. The great nobles did
not, at that period, accept these situations; but, in time, they have
become of so much consequence that peers of the realm and commanders of
armies are now invested with them. Thus everything changes. There is at
present no relic in France of the government of Hugh Capet, nor in
England of the administration of William the Bastard.


It is certain that the sun and atmosphere mark their empire on all the
productions of nature, from man to mushrooms. In the grand age of Louis
XIV., the ingenious Fontenelle remarked:

"One might imagine that the torrid and two frigid zones are not well
suited to the sciences. Down to the present day they have not travelled
beyond Egypt and Mauritania, on the one side, nor on the other beyond
Sweden. Perhaps it is not owing to mere chance that they are retained
within Mount Atlas and the Baltic Sea. We know not whether these may not
be the limits appointed to them by nature, or whether we may ever hope
to see great authors among Laplanders or negroes."

Chardin, one of those travellers who reason and investigate, goes still
further than Fontenelle, when speaking of Persia. "The temperature of
warm climates," says he, "enervates the mind as well as the body, and
dissipates that fire which the imagination requires for invention. In
such climates men are incapable of the long studies and intense
application which are necessary to the production of first-rate works in
the liberal and mechanic arts," etc.

Chardin did not consider that Sadi and Lokman were Persians. He did not
recollect that Archimedes belonged to Sicily, where the heat is greater
than in three-fourths of Persia. He forgot that Pythagoras formerly
taught geometry to the Brahmins. The Abbé Dubos supported and developed,
as well as he was able, the opinion of Chardin.

One hundred and fifty years before them, Bodin made it the foundation of
his system in his "Republic," and in his "Method of History"; he asserts
that the influence of climate is the principle both of the government
and the religion of nations. Diodorus of Sicily was of the same opinion
long before Bodin.

The author of the "Spirit of Laws," without quoting any authority,
carried this idea farther than Chardin and Bodin. A certain part of the
nation believed him to have first suggested it, and imputed it to him as
a crime. This was quite in character with that part of the nation
alluded to. There are everywhere men who possess more zeal than

We might ask those who maintain that climate does everything, why the
Emperor Julian, in his "_Misopogon_" says that what pleased him in the
Parisians was the gravity of their characters and the severity of their
manners; and why these Parisians, without the slightest change of
climate, are now like playful children, at whom the government punishes
and smiles at the same moment, and who themselves, the moment after,
also smile and sing lampoons upon their masters.

Why are the Egyptians, who are described as having been still more grave
than the Parisians, at present the most lazy, frivolous, and cowardly of
people, after having, as we are told, conquered the whole world for
their pleasure, under a king called Sesostris? Why are there no longer
Anacreons, Aristotles, or Zeuxises at Athens? Whence comes it that Rome,
instead of its Ciceros, Catos, and Livys, has merely citizens who dare
not speak their minds, and a brutalized populace, whose supreme
happiness consists in having oil cheap, and in gazing at processions?

Cicero, in his letters, is occasionally very jocular on the English. He
desires his brother Quintus, Cæsar's lieutenant, to inform him whether
he has found any great philosophers among them, in his expedition to
Britain. He little suspected that that country would one day produce
mathematicians whom he could not understand. Yet the climate has not at
all changed, and the sky of London is as cloudy now as it was then.

Everything changes, both in bodies and minds, by time. Perhaps the
Americans will in some future period cross the sea to instruct Europeans
in the arts. Climate has some influence, government a hundred times
more; religion and government combined more still.

_Influence of Climate._

Climate influences religion in respect to ceremonies and usages. A
legislator could have experienced no difficulty in inducing the Indians
to bathe in the Ganges at certain appearances of the moon; it is a high
gratification to them. Had any one proposed a like bath to the people
who inhabit the banks of the Dwina, near Archangel, he would have been
stoned. Forbid pork to an Arab, who after eating this species of animal
food (the most miserable and disgusting in his own country) would be
affected by leprosy, he will obey you with joy; prohibit it to a
Westphalian, and he will be tempted to knock you down. Abstinence from
wine is a good precept of religion in Arabia, where orange, citron, and
lemon waters are necessary to health. Mahomet would not have forbidden
wine in Switzerland, especially before going to battle.

There are usages merely fanciful. Why did the priests of Egypt devise
circumcision? It was not for the sake of health. Cambyses, who treated
as they deserved both them and their bull Apis, the courtiers of
Cambyses, and his soldiers, enjoyed perfectly good health without such
mutilation. Climate has no peculiar influence over this particular
portion of the person of a priest. The offering in question was made to
Isis, probably on the same principle as the firstlings of the fruits of
the earth were everywhere offered. It was typical of an offering of the
first fruits of life.

Religions have always turned on two pivots--forms of ceremonies, and
faith. Forms and ceremonies depend much on climate; faith not at all. A
doctrine will be received with equal facility under the equator or near
the pole. It will be afterwards equally rejected at Batavia and the
Orcades, while it will be maintained, _unguibus et rostro_--with tooth
and nail--at Salamanca. This depends not on sun and atmosphere, but
solely upon opinion, that fickle empress of the world.

Certain libations of wine will be naturally enjoined in a country
abounding in vineyards; and it would never occur to the mind of any
legislator to institute sacred mysteries, which could not be celebrated
without wine, in such a country as Norway.

It will be expressly commanded to burn incense in the court of a temple
where beasts are killed in honor of the Divinity, and for the priests'
supper. This slaughter-house, called a temple, would be a place of
abominable infection, if it were not continually purified; and without
the use of aromatics, the religion of the ancients would have
introduced the plague. The interior of the temple was even festooned
with flowers to sweeten the air.

The cow will not be sacrificed in the burning territory of the Indian
peninsula, because it supplies the necessary article of milk, and is
very rare in arid and barren districts, and because its flesh, being dry
and tough, and yielding but little nourishment, would afford the
Brahmins but miserable cheer. On the contrary, the cow will be
considered sacred, in consequence of its rareness and utility.

The temple of Jupiter Ammon, where the heat is excessive, will be
entered only with bare feet. To perform his devotions at Copenhagen, a
man requires his feet to be warm and well covered.

It is not thus with doctrine. Polytheism has been believed in all
climates; and it is equally easy for a Crim Tartar and an inhabitant of
Mecca to acknowledge one only incommunicable God, neither begotten nor
begetting. It is by doctrine, more than by rites, that a religion
extends from one climate to another. The doctrine of the unity of God
passed rapidly from Medina to Mount Caucasus. Climate, then, yields to

The Arabs said to the Turks: "We practiced the ceremony of circumcision
in Arabia without very well knowing why. It was an ancient usage of the
priests of Egypt to offer to Oshiret, or Osiris, a small portion of what
they considered most valuable. We had adopted this custom three
thousand years before we became Mahometans. You will become circumcised
like us; you will bind yourself to sleep with one of your wives every
Friday, and to give two and a half per cent. of your income annually to
the poor. We drink nothing but water and sherbet; all intoxicating
liquors are forbidden us. In Arabia they are pernicious. You will
embrace the same regimen, although you should be passionately fond of
wine; and even although, on the banks of the Phasis and Araxes, it
should often be necessary for you. In short, if you wish to go to
heaven, and to obtain good places there, you will take the road through

The inhabitants north of the Caucasus subject themselves to these laws,
and adopt, in the fullest extent, a religion which was never framed for

In Egypt the emblematical worship of animals succeeded to the doctrines
of Thaut. The gods of the Romans afterwards shared Egypt with the dogs,
the cats, and the crocodiles. To the Roman religion succeeded
Christianity; that was completely banished by Mahometanism, which will
perhaps be superseded by some new religion.

In all these changes climate has effected nothing; government has done
everything. We are here considering only second causes, without raising
our unhallowed eyes to that Providence which directs them. The Christian
religion, which received its birth in Syria, and grew up towards its
fulness of stature in Alexandria, inhabits now those countries where
Teutat and Irminsul, Freya and Odin, were formerly adored.

There are some nations whose religion is not the result either of
climate or of government. What cause detached the north of Germany,
Denmark, three parts of Switzerland, Holland, England, Scotland, and
Ireland, from the Romish communion? Poverty. Indulgences, and
deliverance from purgatory for the souls of those whose bodies were at
that time in possession of very little money, were sold too dear. The
prelates and monks absorbed the whole revenue of a province. People
adopted a cheaper religion. In short, after numerous civil wars, it was
concluded that the pope's religion was a good one for nobles, and the
reformed one for citizens. Time will show whether the religion of the
Greeks or of the Turks will prevail on the coasts of the Euxine and
Ægean seas.


The power by which the parts of bodies are kept together. It is a
phenomenon the most common, but the least understood. Newton derides the
hooked atoms, by means of which it has been attempted to explain
coherence; for it still remained to be known why they are hooked, and
why they cohere. He treats with no greater respect those who have
explained cohesion by rest. "It is," says he, "an occult quality."

He has recourse to an attraction. But is not this attraction, which may
indeed exist, but is by no means capable of demonstration, itself an
occult quality? The grand attraction of the heavenly bodies is
demonstrated and calculated. That of adhering bodies is incalculable.
But how can we admit a force that is immeasurable to be of the same
nature as one that can be measured?

Nevertheless, it is demonstrated that the force of attraction acts upon
all the planets and all heavy bodies in proportion to their solidity;
but it acts on all the particles of matter; it is, therefore, very
probable that, while it exists in every part in reference to the whole,
it exists also in every part in reference to cohesion; coherence,
therefore, may be the effect of attraction.

This opinion appears admissible till a better one can be found, and that
better is not easily to be met with.


Since the fall of Carthage, no people had been powerful in commerce and
arms at the same time, until Venice set the example. The Portuguese
having passed the Cape of Good Hope, were, for some time, great lords on
the coast of India, and even formidable in Europe. The United Provinces
have only been warriors in spite of themselves, and it was not as united
between themselves, but as united with England that they assisted to
hold the balance of Europe at the commencement of the eighteenth

Carthage, Venice, and Amsterdam have been powerful; but they have acted
like those people among us, who, having amassed money by trade, buy
lordly estates. Neither Carthage, Venice, Holland, nor any people, have
commenced by being warriors, and even conquerors, to finish by being
merchants. The English only answer this description; they had fought a
long time before they knew how to reckon. They did not know, when they
gained the battles of Agincourt, Crécy, and Poitiers, that they were
able to deal largely in corn, and make broadcloth, which would be of
much more value to them than such victories. The knowledge of these arts
alone has augmented, enriched, and strengthened the nation. It is only
because the English have become merchants that London exceeds Paris in
extent and number of citizens; that they can spread two hundred ships of
war over the seas, and keep royal allies in pay.

When Louis XIV. made Italy tremble, and his armies, already masters of
Savoy and Piedmont, were ready to take Turin, Prince Eugene was obliged
to march to the skirts of Germany, to the succor of the duke of Savoy.
Having no money, without which he could neither take nor defend towns,
he had recourse to the English merchants. In half an hour they advanced
him the sum of five millions of livres, with which he delivered Turin,
beat the French, and wrote this little billet to those who had lent it
him: "Gentlemen, I have received your money, and I flatter myself that I
have employed it to your satisfaction." All this excites just pride in
an English merchant, and makes him venture to compare himself, and not
without reason, to a Roman citizen. Thus the younger sons of a peer of
the realm disdain not to be merchants. Lord Townsend, minister of state,
had a brother who was contented with being a merchant in the city. At
the time that Lord Orford governed England, his younger brother was a
factor at Aleppo, whence he would not return, and where he died. This
custom--which, however, begins to decline--appeared monstrous to the
petty German princes. They could not conceive how the son of a peer of
England was only a rich and powerful trader, while in Germany they are
all princes. We have seen nearly thirty highnesses of the same name,
having nothing for their fortunes but old armories and aristocratical
hauteur. In France, anybody may be a marquis that likes; and whoever
arrives at Paris from a remote province, with money to spend, and a name
ending in _ac_ or _ille_, may say: "A man like me!" "A man of my
quality!" and sovereignly despise a merchant; while the merchant so
often hears his profession spoken of with disdain that he is weak enough
to blush at it. Which is the more useful to a state--a well-powdered
lord, who knows precisely at what hour the king rises and retires, and
who gives himself airs of greatness, while playing the part of a slave
in the antechamber of a minister; or a merchant who enriches his
country, sends orders from his office to Surat and Aleppo, and
contributes to the happiness of the world?


There is sometimes in vulgar expressions an image of what passes in the
heart of all men. "_Sensus communis_" signified among the Romans not
only common sense, but also humanity and sensibility. As we are not
equal to the Romans, this word with us conveys not half what it did with
them. It signifies only good sense--plain, straightforward
reasoning--the first notion of ordinary things--a medium between dulness
and intellect. To say, "that man has not common sense," is a gross
insult; while the expression, "that man has common sense," is an affront
also; it would imply that he was not quite stupid, but that he wanted
intellect. But what is the meaning of common sense, if it be not sense?
Men, when they invented this term, supposed that nothing entered the
mind except by the senses; otherwise would they have used the word
"sense" to signify the result of the common faculty of reason?

It is said, sometimes, that common sense is very rare. What does this
expression mean? That, in many men, dawning reason is arrested in its
progress by some prejudices; that a man who judges reasonably on one
affair will deceive himself grossly in another. The Arab, who, besides
being a good calculator, was a learned chemist and an exact astronomer,
nevertheless believed that Mahomet put half of the moon into his sleeve.

How is it that he was so much above common sense in the three sciences
above mentioned, and beneath it when he proceeded to the subject of half
the moon? It is because, in the first case, he had seen with his own
eyes, and perfected his own intelligence; and, in the second, he had
used the eyes of others, by shutting his own, and perverting the common
sense within him.

How could this strange perversion of mind operate? How could the ideas
which had so regular and firm a footing in his brain, on many subjects,
halt on another a thousand times more palpable and easy to comprehend?
This man had always the same principles of intelligence in him; he must
have therefore possessed a vitiated organ, as it sometimes happens that
the most delicate epicure has a depraved taste in regard to a particular
kind of nourishment.

How did the organ of this Arab, who saw half of the moon in Mahomet's
sleeve, become disordered--By fear. It had been told him that if he did
not believe in this sleeve his soul, immediately after his death, in
passing over the narrow bridge, would fall forever into the abyss. He
was told much worse--if ever you doubt this sleeve, one dervish will
treat you with ignominy; another will prove you mad, because, having all
possible motives for credibility, you will not submit your superb reason
to evidence; a third will refer you to the little divan of a small
province, and you will be legally impaled.

All this produces a panic in the good Arab, his wife, sister, and all
his little family. They possess good sense in all the rest, but on this
article their imagination is diseased like that of Pascal, who
continually saw a precipice near his couch. But did our Arab really
believe in the sleeve of Mahomet? No; he endeavored to believe it; he
said, "It is impossible, but true--I believe that which I do not
credit." He formed a chaos of ideas in his head in regard to this
sleeve, which he feared to disentangle, and he gave up his common sense.


Repentance for one's faults is the only thing that can repair the loss
of innocence; and to appear to repent of them, we must begin by
acknowledging them. Confession, therefore, is almost as ancient as civil
society. Confession was practised in all the mysteries of Egypt, Greece,
and Samothrace. We are told, in the life of Marcus Aurelius, that when
he deigned to participate in the Eleusinian mysteries, he confessed
himself to the hierophant, though no man had less need of confession
than himself.

This might be a very salutary ceremony; it might also become very
detrimental; for such is the case with all human institutions. We know
the answer of the Spartan whom a hierophant would have persuaded to
confess himself: "To whom should I acknowledge my faults? to God, or to
thee?" "To God," said the priest. "Retire, then, O man."

It is hard to determine at what time this practice was established among
the Jews, who borrowed a great many of their rites from their neighbors.
The Mishna, which is the collection of the Jewish laws, says that often,
in confessing, they placed their hand upon a calf belonging to the
priest; and this was called "the confession of calves."

It is said, in the same Mishna, that every culprit under sentence of
death, went and confessed himself before witnesses, in some retired
spot, a short time before his execution. If he felt himself guilty he
said, "May my death atone for all my sins!" If innocent, he said, "May
my death atone for all my sins, excepting that of which I am now

On the day of the feast which was called by the Jews _the solemn
atonement_, the devout among them confessed to one another, specifying
their sins. The confessor repeated three times thirteen words of the
seventy-seventh Psalm, at the same time giving the confessed thirty-nine
stripes, which the latter returned, and they went away quits. It is said
that this ceremony is still in use.

St. John's reputation for sanctity brought crowds to confess to him, as
they came to be baptized by him with the baptism of justice; but we are
not informed that St. John gave his penitents thirty-nine stripes.
Confession was not then a sacrament; for this there are several reasons.
The first is, that the word "sacrament" was at that time unknown, which
reason is of itself sufficient. The Christians took their confession
from the Jewish rites, and not from the mysteries of Isis and Ceres. The
Jews confessed to their associates, and the Christians did also. It
afterwards appeared more convenient that this should be the privilege of
the priests. No rite, no ceremony, can be established but in process of
time. It was hardly possible that some trace should not remain of the
ancient usage of the laity of confessing to one another.

In Constantine's reign, it was at first the practice publicly to confess
public offences. In the fifth century, after the schism of Novatus and
Novatian, penitentiaries were instituted for the absolution of such as
had fallen into idolatry. This confession to penitentiary priests was
abolished under the Emperor Theodosius. A woman having accused herself
aloud, to the penitentiary of Constantinople, of lying with the deacon,
caused so much scandal and disturbance throughout the city that
Nectarius permitted all the faithful to approach the holy table without
confession, and to communicate in obedience to their consciences alone.
Hence these words of St. John Chrysostom, who succeeded Nectarius:
"Confess yourselves continually to God; I do not bring you forward on a
stage to discover your faults to your fellow-servants; show your wounds
to God, and ask of Him their cure; acknowledge your sins to Him who will
not reproach you before men; it were vain to strive to hide them from
Him who knows all things," etc.

It is said that the practice of auricular confession did not begin in
the west until about the seventh century, when it was instituted by the
abbots, who required their monks to come and acknowledge their offences
to them twice a year. These abbots it was who invented the formula: "I
absolve thee to the utmost of my power and thy need." It would surely
have been more respectful towards the Supreme Being, as well as more
just, to say: "May He forgive both thy faults and mine!"

The good which confession has done is that it has sometimes procured
restitution from petty thieves. The ill is, that, in the internal
troubles of states, it has sometimes forced the penitents to be
conscientiously rebellious and blood-thirsty. The Guelph priests refused
absolution to the Ghibellines, and the Ghibellines to the Guelphs.

The counsellor of state, Lénet, relates, in his "Memoirs," that all he
could do in Burgundy to make the people rise in favor of the Prince
Condé, detained at Vincennes by Cardinal Mazarin, was "to let loose the
priests in the confessionals"--speaking of them as bloodhounds, who were
to fan the flame of civil war in the privacy of the confessional.

At the siege of Barcelona, the monks refused absolution to all who
remained faithful to Philip V. In the last revolution of Genoa, it was
intimated to all consciences that there was no salvation for whosoever
should not take up arms against the Austrians. This salutary remedy has,
in every age, been converted into a poison. Whether a Sforza, a Medici,
a Prince of Orange, or a King of France was to be assassinated, the
parricide always prepared himself by the sacrament of confession. Louis
XI., and the Marchioness de Brinvilliers always confessed as soon as
they had committed any great crime; and they confessed often, as
gluttons take medicines to increase their appetite.

_The Disclosure of Confessions._

Jaurigini and Balthazar Gérard, the assassins of William I., Prince of
Orange, the dominican Jacques Clément, Jean Châtel, the Feuillant
Ravaillac, and all the other parricides of that day, confessed
themselves before committing their crimes. Fanaticism, in those
deplorable ages, had arrived at such a pitch that confession was but an
additional pledge for the consummation of villainy. It became sacred for
this reason--that confession is a sacrament.

Strada himself says: _"Jaurigni non ante facinus aggredi sustinuit, quam
expiatam noxis animam apud Dominicanum sacerdotem cœlesti pane
firmaverit"._ "Jaurigini did not venture upon this act until he had
purged his soul by confession at the feet of a Dominican, and fortified
it by the celestial bread."

We find, in the interrogatory of Ravaillac, that the wretched man,
quitting the Feuillans, and wishing to be received among the Jesuits,
applied to the Jesuit d'Aubigny and, after speaking of several
apparitions that he had seen, showed him a knife, on the blade of which
was engraved a heart and a cross, and said, "This heart indicates that
the king's heart must be brought to make war on the Huguenots."

Perhaps, if this d'Aubigny had been zealous and prudent enough to have
informed the king of these words, and given him a faithful picture of
the man who had uttered them, the best of kings would not have been

On August 20, 1610, three months after the death of Henry IV., whose
wounds yet bleed in the heart of every Frenchman, the Advocate-General
Sirvin, still of illustrious memory, required that the Jesuits should be
made to sign the four following rules:

1. That the council is above the pope. 2. That the pope cannot deprive
the king of any of his rights by excommunication. 3. That ecclesiastics,
like other persons, are entirely subject to the king. 4. That a priest
who is made acquainted, by confession, with a conspiracy against the
king and the state, must disclose it to the magistrates.

On the 22nd, the parliament passed a decree, by which it forbade the
Jesuits to instruct youth before they had signed these four articles;
but the court of Rome was then so powerful, and that of France so
feeble, that this decree was of no effect. A fact worthy of attention
is, that this same court of Rome, which did not choose that confession
should be disclosed when the lives of sovereigns were endangered,
obliged its confessors to denounce to the inquisitors those whom their
female penitents accused in confession of having seduced and abused
them. Paul IV., Pius IV., Clement VIII., and Gregory XV., ordered these
disclosures to be made.

This was a very embarrassing snare for confessors and female penitents;
it was making the sacrament a register of informations, and even of
sacrileges. For, by the ancient canons, and especially by the Lateran
Council under Innocent III., every priest that disclosed a confession,
of whatever nature, was to be interdicted and condemned to perpetual

But this is not the worst; here are four popes, of the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries, ordering the disclosure of a sin of impurity, but
not permitting that of a parricide. A woman, in the sacrament, declares,
or pretends, before a carmelite, that a cordelier has seduced her; and
the carmelite must denounce the cordelier. A fanatical assassin,
thinking that he serves God by killing his prince, comes and consults a
confessor on this case of conscience; and the confessor commits a
sacrilege if he saves his sovereign's life.

This absurd and horrible contradiction is one unfortunate consequence of
the constant opposition existing for so many centuries between the civil
and ecclesiastical laws. The citizen finds himself, on fifty occasions,
placed without alternative between sacrilege and high treason; the rules
of good and evil being not yet drawn from beneath the chaos under which
they have so long been buried. The Jesuit Coton's reply to Henry IV.
will endure longer than his order. "Would you reveal the confession of a
man who had resolved to assassinate me?" "No; but I would throw myself
between him and you."

Father Coton's maxim has not always been followed. In some countries
there are state mysteries unknown to the public, of which revealed
confessions form no inconsiderable part. By means of suborned confessors
the secrets of prisoners are learned. Some confessors, to reconcile
their conscience with their interest, make use of a singular artifice.
They give an account, not precisely of what the prisoner has told them,
but of what he has not told them. If, for example, they are employed to
find out whether an accused person has for his accomplice a Frenchman or
an Italian, they say to the man who employs them, "the prisoner has
sworn to me that no Italian was informed of his designs;" whence it is
concluded that the suspected Frenchman is guilty.

Bodin thus expresses himself, in his book, "_De la République_": "Nor
must it be concealed, if the culprit is discovered to have conspired
against the life of the sovereign, or even to have willed it only; as in
the case of a gentleman of Normandy, who confessed to a monk that he had
a mind to kill Francis I. The monk apprised the king, who sent the
gentleman to the court of parliament, where he was condemned to death,
as I learned from M. Canage, an advocate in parliament."

The writer of this article was himself almost witness to a disclosure
still more important and singular. It is known how the Jesuit Daubenton
betrayed Philip V., king of Spain, to whom he was confessor. He thought,
from a very mistaken policy, that he should report the secrets of his
penitent to the duke of Orleans, regent of the kingdom, and had the
imprudence to write to him what he should not, even verbally,
communicate to any one. The duke of Orleans sent his letter to the king
of Spain. The Jesuit was discarded, and died a short time after. This is
an authenticated fact.

It is still a grave and perplexing question, in what cases confessions
should be disclosed. For, if we decide that it should be in cases of
human high treason, this treason may be made to include any direct
offence against majesty, even the smuggling of salt or muslins. Much
more should high treasons against the Divine Majesty be disclosed; and
these may be extended to the smallest faults, as having missed evening

It would, then, be very important to come to a perfect understanding
about what confessions should be disclosed, and what should be kept
secret. Yet would such a decision be very dangerous; for how many things
are there which must not be investigated!

Pontas, who, in three folio volumes, decides on all the possible cases
of conscience in France, and is unknown to the rest of the world, says
that on no occasion should confession be disclosed. The parliaments have
decided the contrary. Which are we to believe? Pontas, or the guardians
of the laws of the realm, who watch over the lives of princes and the
safety of the state?

_Whether Laymen and Women Have Been Confessors?_

As, in the old law, the laity confessed to one another; so, in the new
law, they long had the same privilege by custom. In proof of this, let
it suffice to cite the celebrated Joinville, who expressly says that
"the constable of Cyprus confessed himself to him, and he gave him
absolution, according to the right which he had so to do." St. Thomas,
in his dream, expresses himself thus: _"Confessio ex defectu sacerdotis
laico facta, sacramentalis est quodam modo."_ "Confession made to a
layman, in default of a priest, is in some sort sacramental."

We find in the life of St. Burgundosarius, and in the rule of an unknown
saint, that the nuns confessed their very grossest sins to their abbess.
The rule of St. Donatus ordains that the nuns shall discover their
faults to their superior three times a day. The capitulars of our kings
say that abbesses must be forbidden the exercise of the right which they
have arrogated against the custom of the holy church, of giving
benediction and imposing hands, which seems to signify the pronouncing
of absolution, and supposes the confession of sins. Marcus, patriarch of
Alexandria, asks Balzamon, a celebrated canonist of his time, whether
permission should be granted to abbesses to hear confessions, to which
Balzamon answers in the negative. We have, in the canon law, a decree of
Pope Innocent III., enjoining the bishops of Valencia and Burgos, in
Spain, to prevent certain abbesses from blessing their nuns, from
confessing, and from public preaching: "Although," says he, "the blessed
Virgin Mary was superior to all the apostles in dignity and in merit,
yet it is not to her, but to the apostles, that the Lord has confided
the keys of the kingdom of heaven."

So ancient was this right, that we find it established in the rules of
St. Basil. He permits abbesses to confess their nuns, conjointly with a
priest. Father Martène, in his "Rights of the Church," says that, for a
long time, abbesses confessed their nuns; but, adds he, they were so
_curious_, that it was found necessary to deprive them of this

The ex-Jesuit Nonnotte should confess himself and do penance; not for
having been one of the most ignorant of daubers on paper, for that is no
crime; not for having given the name of _errors_ to truths which he did
not understand; but for having, with the most insolent stupidity,
calumniated the author of this article, and called his brother _raca_ (a
fool), while he denied these facts and many others, about which he knew
not one word. He has put himself in danger of hell fire; let us hope
that he will ask pardon of God for his enormous folly. We desire not the
death of a sinner, but that he turn from his wickedness and live.

It has long been debated why men, very famous in this part of the world
where confession is in use, have died without this sacrament. Such are
Leo X., Pélisson, and Cardinal Dubois. The cardinal had his perineum
opened by La Peyronie's bistoury; but he might have confessed and
communicated before the operation. Pélisson, who was a Protestant until
he was forty years old, became a convert that he might be made master of
requests and have benefices. As for Pope Leo X., when surprised by
death, he was so much occupied with temporal concerns, that he had no
time to think of spiritual ones.

_Confession Tickets._

In Protestant countries confession is made to God; in Catholic ones, to
man. The Protestants say you can hide nothing from God, whereas man
knows only what you choose to tell him. As we shall never meddle with
controversy, we shall not enter here into this old dispute. Our literary
society is composed of Catholics and Protestants, united by the love of
letters; we must not suffer ecclesiastical quarrels to sow dissension
among us. We will content ourselves with once more repeating the fine
answer of the Greek already mentioned, to the priest who would have had
him confess in the mysteries of Ceres: "Is it to God, or to thee, that I
am to address myself?" "To God." "Depart then, O man."

In Italy, and in all the countries of obedience, every one, without
distinction, must confess and communicate. If you have a stock of
enormous sins on hand, you have also grand penitentiaries to absolve
you. If your confession is worth nothing, so much the worse for you. At
a very reasonable rate, you get a printed receipt, which admits you to
communion; and all the receipts are thrown into a pix; such is the rule.

These bearers' tickets were unknown at Paris until about the year 1750,
when an archbishop of Paris bethought himself of introducing a sort of
spiritual bank, to extirpate Jansenism and insure the triumph of the
bull _Unigenitus_. It was his pleasure that extreme unction and the
viaticum should be refused to every sick person who did not produce a
ticket of confession, signed by a constitutionary priest.

This was refusing the sacrament to nine-tenths of Paris. In vain was he
told: "Think what you are doing; either these sacraments are necessary,
to escape damnation, or salvation may be obtained without them by faith,
hope, charity, good works, and the merits of our Saviour. If salvation
be attainable without this viaticum, your tickets are useless; if the
sacraments be absolutely necessary, you damn all whom you deprive of
them; you consign to eternal fire seven hundred thousand souls,
supposing you live long enough to bury them; this is violent; calm
yourself, and let each one die as well as he can."

In this dilemma he gave no answer, but persisted. It is horrible to
convert religion, which should be man's consolation, into his torment.
The parliament, in whose hands is the high police, finding that society
was disturbed, opposed--according to custom--decrees to mandaments. But
ecclesiastical discipline would not yield to legal authority. The
magistracy was under the necessity of using force, and to send archers
to obtain for the Parisians confession, communion, and interment.

By this excess of absurdity, men's minds were soured and cabals were
formed at court, as if there had been a farmer-general to be appointed,
or a minister to be disgraced. In the discussion of a question there are
always incidents mixed up that have no radical connection with it; and
in this case so much so, that all the members of the parliament were
exiled, as was also the archbishop in his turn.

These confession tickets would, in the times preceding, have caused a
civil war, but happily, in our days, they produced only civil cavils.
The spirit of philosophy, which is no other than reason, has become,
with all honest men, the only antidote against these epidemic disorders.


It is well observed, in the "_Dictionnaire Encyclopédique_," in the
article "Confiscation," that the _fisc_, whether public, or royal, or
seignorial, or imperial, or disloyal, was a small basket of reeds or
osiers, in which was put the little money that was received or could be
extorted. We now use bags; the royal _fisc_ is the royal _bag_.

In several countries of Europe it is a received maxim, that whosoever
confiscates the body, confiscates the goods also. This usage is
established in those countries in particular where custom holds the
place of law; and in all cases, an entire family is punished for the
fault of one man only.

To confiscate the body, is not to put a man's body into his sovereign
lord's basket. This phrase, in the barbarous language of the bar, means
to get possession of the body of a citizen, in order either to take away
his life, or to condemn him to banishment for life. If he is put to
death, or escapes death by flight, his goods are seized. Thus it is not
enough to put a man to death for his offences; his children, too, must
be deprived of the means of living.

In more countries than one, the rigor of custom confiscates the property
of a man who has voluntarily released himself from the miseries of this
life, and his children are reduced to beggary because their father is
dead. In some Roman Catholic provinces, the head of a family is
condemned to the galleys for life, by an arbitrary sentence, for having
harbored a preacher in his house, or for having heard one of his sermons
in some cavern or desert place, and his wife and family are forced to
beg their bread.

This jurisprudence, which consists in depriving orphans of their food,
was unknown to the Roman commonwealth. Sulla introduced it in his
proscriptions, and it must be acknowledged that a rapine invented by
Sulla was not an example to be followed. Nor was this law, which seems
to have been dictated by inhumanity and avarice alone, followed either
by Cæsar, or by the good Emperor Trajan, or by the Antonines, whose
names are still pronounced in every nation with love and reverence. Even
under Justinian, confiscations took place only in cases of high treason.
Those who were accused having been, for the most part, men of great
possessions, it seems that Justinian made this ordinance through avarice
alone. It also appears that, in the times of feudal anarchy, the princes
and lords of lands, being not very rich, sought to increase their
treasure by the condemnation of their subjects. They were allowed to
draw a revenue from crime. Their laws being arbitrary, and the Roman
jurisprudence unknown among them, their customs, whether whimsical or
cruel, prevailed. But now that the power of sovereigns is founded on
immense and assured wealth, their treasure needs no longer to be swollen
by the slender wreck of the fortunes of some unhappy family. It is true
that the goods so appropriated are abandoned to the first who asks for
them. But is it for one citizen to fatten on the remains of the blood of
another citizen?

Confiscation is not admitted in countries where the Roman law is
established, except within the jurisdiction of the parliament of
Toulouse. It was formerly established at Calais, where it was abolished
by the English when they were masters of that place. It appears very
strange that the inhabitants of the capital live under a more rigorous
law than those of the smaller towns; so true is it, that jurisprudence
has often been established by chance, without regularity, without
uniformity, as the huts are built in a village.

The following was spoken by Advocate-General Omer Talon, in full
parliament, at the most glorious period in the annals of France, in
1673, concerning the property of one Mademoiselle de Canillac, which had
been confiscated. Reader, attend to this speech; it is not in the style
of Cicero's oratory, but it is curious:

"In the thirteenth chapter of Deuteronomy, God says, 'If thou shalt find
a city where idolatry prevails, thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants
of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all
that is therein. And thou shalt gather all the spoil of it into the
midst of the street thereof, and shalt burn with fire the city and all
the spoil thereof, every whit, for the Lord thy God.'

"So, in the crime of high treason, the king seized the property, and the
children were deprived of it. Naboth having been proceeded against,
'_quia maledixerat regi_,' King Ahab took possession of his inheritance.
David, being apprised that Mephibosheth had taken part in the rebellion,
gave all his goods to Sheba, who brought him the news--'_Tibi sunt omnia
quæ fuerunt Mephibosheth._'"

The question here was, who should inherit the property of Mademoiselle
de Canillac--property formerly confiscated from her father, abandoned by
the king to a keeper of the royal treasure, and afterwards given by this
keeper of the royal treasure to the testatrix. And in this case of a
woman of Auvergne a lawyer refers us to that of Ahab, one of the petty
kings of a part of Palestine, who confiscated Naboth's vineyard, after
assassinating its proprietor with the poniard of Jewish justice--an
abominable act, which has become a proverb to inspire men with a horror
for usurpation. Assuredly, Naboth's vineyard has no connection with
Mademoiselle de Canillac's inheritance. Nor do the murder and
confiscation of the goods of Mephibosheth, grandson of King Saul, and
son of David's friend Jonathan, bear a much greater affinity to this
lady's will.

With this pedantry, this rage for citations foreign to the subject; with
this ignorance of the first principles of human nature; with these
ill-conceived and ill-adapted prejudices, has jurisprudence been treated
on by men who, in their sphere, have had some reputation.



_Of the Conscience of Good and of Evil._

Locke has demonstrated--if we may use that term in morals and
metaphysics--that we have no innate ideas or principles. He was obliged
to demonstrate this position at great length, as the contrary was at
that time universally believed. It hence clearly follows that it is
necessary to instil just ideas and good principles into the mind as soon
as it acquires the use of its faculties.

Locke adduces the example of savages, who kill and devour their
neighbors without any remorse of conscience; and of Christian soldiers,
decently educated, who, on the taking of a city by assault, plunder,
slay, and violate, not merely without remorse, but with rapture, honor,
and glory, and with the applause of all their comrades.

It is perfectly certain that, in the massacres of St. Bartholomew, and
in the "_autos-da-fé_" the holy acts of faith of the Inquisition, no
murderer's conscience ever upbraided him with having massacred men,
women, and children, or with the shrieks, faintings, and dying tortures
of his miserable victims, whose only crime consisted in keeping Easter
in a manner different from that of the inquisitors. It results,
therefore, from what has been stated, that we have no other conscience
than what is created in us by the spirit of the age, by example, and by
our own dispositions and reflections.

Man is born without principles, but with the faculty of receiving them.
His natural disposition will incline him either to cruelty or kindness;
his understanding will in time inform him that the square of twelve is a
hundred and forty-four, and that he ought not to do to others what he
would not that others should do to him; but he will not, of himself,
acquire these truths in early childhood. He will not understand the
first, and he will not feel the second.

A young savage who, when hungry, has received from his father a piece of
another savage to eat, will, on the morrow, ask for the like meal,
without thinking about any obligation not to treat a neighbor otherwise
than he would be treated himself. He acts, mechanically and
irresistibly, directly contrary to the eternal principle.

Nature has made a provision against such horrors. She has given to man a
disposition to pity, and the power of comprehending truth. These two
gifts of God constitute the foundation of civil society. This is the
reason there have ever been but few cannibals; and which renders life,
among civilized nations, a little tolerable. Fathers and mothers bestow
on their children an education which soon renders them social, and this
education confers on them a conscience.

Pure religion and morality, early inculcated, so strongly impress the
human heart that, from the age of sixteen or seventeen, a single bad
action will not be performed without the upbraidings of conscience. Then
rush on those headlong passions which war against conscience, and
sometimes destroy it. During the conflict, men, hurried on by the
tempest of their feelings, on various occasions consult the advice of
others; as, in physical diseases, they ask it of those who appear to
enjoy good health.

This it is which has produced casuists; that is, persons who decide on
cases of conscience. One of the wisest casuists was Cicero. In his book
of "Offices," or "Duties" of man, he investigates points of the greatest
nicety; but long before him Zoroaster had appeared in the world to guide
the conscience by the most beautiful precept, "If you _doubt_ whether an
action be good or bad, abstain from doing it." We treat of this

_Whether a Judge Should Decide according to his Conscience, or according
to the Evidence._

Thomas Aquinas, you are a great saint, and a great divine, and no
Dominican has a greater veneration for you than I have; but you have
decided, in your "Summary," that a judge ought to give sentence
according to the evidence produced against the person accused, although
he knows that person to be perfectly innocent. You maintain that the
deposition of witnesses, which must inevitably be false, and the
pretended proofs resulting from the process, which are impertinent,
ought to weigh down the testimony of his own senses. He saw the crime
committed by another; and yet, according to you, he ought in conscience
to condemn the accused, although his conscience tells him the accused is
innocent. According to your doctrine, therefore, if the judge had
himself committed the crime in question, his conscience ought to oblige
him to condemn the man falsely accused of it.

In my conscience, great saint, I conceive that you are most absurdly and
most dreadfully deceived. It is a pity that, while possessing such a
knowledge of canon law, you should be so little acquainted with natural
law. The duty of a magistrate to be just, precedes that of being a
formalist. If, in virtue of evidence which can never exceed probability,
I were to condemn a man whose innocence I was otherwise convinced of, I
should consider myself a fool and an assassin.

Fortunately all the tribunals of the world think differently from you. I
know not whether Farinaceus and Grillandus may be of your opinion.
However that may be, if ever you meet with Cicero, Ulpian, Trebonian,
Demoulin, the Chancellor de l'Hôpital, or the Chancellor d'Aguesseau, in
the shades, be sure to ask pardon of them for falling into such an

_Of a Deceitful Conscience._

The best thing perhaps that was ever said upon this important subject is
in the witty work of "Tristram Shandy," written by a clergyman of the
name of Sterne, the second Rabelais of England. It resembles those small
satires of antiquity, the essential spirit of which is so piquant and

An old half-pay captain and his corporal, assisted by Doctor Slop, put a
number of very ridiculous questions. In these questions the French
divines are not spared. Mention is particularly made of a memoir
presented to the Sorbonne by a surgeon, requesting permission to baptize
unborn children by means of a clyster-pipe, which might be introduced
into the womb without injuring either the mother or the child. At length
the corporal is directed to read to them a sermon, composed by the same
clergyman, Sterne.

Among many particulars, superior even to those of Rembrandt and Calot,
it describes a gentleman, a man of the world, spending his time in the
pleasures of the table, in gaming, and debauchery, yet doing nothing to
expose himself to the reproaches of what is called good company, and
consequently never incurring his own. His conscience and his honor
accompany him to the theatres, to the gaming houses, and are more
particularly present when he liberally pays his lady under protection.
He punishes severely, when in office, the petty larcenies of the vulgar,
lives a life of gayety, and dies without the slightest feeling of

Doctor Slop interrupts the reading to observe that such a case was
impossible with respect to a follower of the Church of England, and
could happen only among papists. At last the sermon adduces the example
of David, who sometimes possessed a conscience tender and enlightened,
at others hardened and dark.

When he has it in his power to assassinate his king in a cavern, he
scruples going beyond cutting off a corner of his robe--here is the
tender conscience. He passes an entire year without feeling the
slightest compunction for his adultery with Bathsheba and his murder of
Uriah--here is the same conscience in a state of obduracy and darkness.

Such, says the preacher, are the greater number of mankind. We concede
to this clergyman that the great ones of the world are very often in
this state; the torrent of pleasures and affairs urges them almost
irresistibly on; they have no time to keep a conscience. Conscience is
proper enough for the people; but even the people dispense with it, when
the question is how to gain money. It is judicious, however, at times,
to endeavor to awaken conscience both in mantua-makers and in monarchs,
by the inculcation of a morality calculated to make an impression upon
both; but, in order to make this impression, it is necessary to preach
better than modern preachers usually do, who seldom talk effectively to

_Liberty of Conscience._

[Translated from the German.]

[We do not adopt the whole of the following article; but, as it contains
some truths, we did not consider ourselves obliged to omit it; and we do
not feel ourselves called upon to justify what may be advanced in it
with too great rashness or severity.--_Author._]

"The almoner of Prince ----, who is a Roman Catholic, threatened an
anabaptist that he would get him banished from the small estates which
the prince governed. He told him that there were only three authorized
sects in the empire--that which eats Jesus Christ, by faith alone, in a
morsel of bread, while drinking out of a cup; that which eats Jesus
Christ with bread alone; and that which eats Jesus Christ in body and in
soul, without either bread or wine; and that as for the anabaptist who
does not in any way eat God, he was not fit to live in monseigneur's
territory. At last, the conversation kindling into greater violence, the
almoner fiercely threatened the anabaptist that he would get him hanged.
'So much the worse for his highness,' replied the anabaptist; 'I am a
large manufacturer; I employ two hundred workmen; I occasion the influx
of two hundred thousand crowns a year into his territories; my family
will go and settle somewhere else; monseigneur will in consequence be a

"'But suppose monseigneur hangs up your two hundred workmen and your
family,' rejoined the almoner, 'and gives your manufactory to good

"'I defy him to do it,' says the old gentleman. 'A manufactory is not to
be given like a farm; because industry cannot be given. It would be more
silly for him to act so than to order all his horses to be killed,
because, being a bad horseman, one may have thrown him off his back. The
interest of monseigneur does not consist in my swallowing the godhead in
a wafer, but in my procuring something to eat for his subjects, and
increasing the revenues by my industry. I am a gentleman; and although I
had the misfortune not to be born such, my occupation would compel me to
become one; for mercantile transactions are of a very different nature
from those of a court, and from your own. There can be no success in
them without probity. Of what consequence is it to you that I was
baptized at what is called the age of discretion, and you while you were
an infant? Of what consequence is it to you that I worship God after the
manner of my fathers? Were you able to follow up your wise maxims, from
one end of the world to the other, you will hang up the Greek, who does
not believe that the spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son; all
the English, all the Hollanders, Danes, Swedes, Icelanders, Prussians,
Hanoverians, Saxons, Holsteiners, Hessians, Würtembergers, Bernese,
Hamburgers, Cossacks, Wallachians, and Russians, none of whom believe
the pope to be infallible; all the Mussulmans, who believe in one God,
and who give him neither father nor mother; the Indians, whose religion
is more ancient than the Jewish; and the lettered Chinese, who, for the
space of four thousand years, have served one only God without
superstition and without fanaticism. This, then, is what you would
perform had you but the power!' 'Most assuredly,' says the monk, 'for
the zeal of the house of the Lord devours me.' _'Zelus domus suæ comedit

"'Just tell me now, my good almoner,' resumed the anabaptist, 'are you a
Dominican, or a Jesuit, or a devil?' 'I am a Jesuit,' says the other.
'Alas, my friend, if you are not a devil, why do you advance things so
utterly diabolical?' 'Because the reverend father, the rector, has
commanded me to do so.' 'And who commanded the reverend father, the
rector, to commit such an abomination?' 'The provincial.' 'From whom did
the provincial receive the command?' 'From our general, and all to
please the pope.'

"The poor anabaptist exclaimed: 'Ye holy popes, who are at Rome in
possession of the throne of the Cæsars--archbishops, bishops, and abbés,
become sovereigns, I respect and fly you; but if, in the recesses of
your heart, you confess that your opulence and power are founded only on
the ignorance and stupidity of our fathers, at least enjoy them with
moderation. We do not wish to dethrone you; but do not crush us. Enjoy
yourselves, and let us be quiet. If otherwise, tremble, lest at last
people should lose their patience, and reduce you, for the good of your
souls, to the condition of the apostles, of whom you pretend to be the

"'Wretch! you would wish the pope and the bishop of Würtemberg to gain
heaven by evangelical poverty!' 'You, reverend father, would wish to
have me hanged!'"

[Illustration: "I'm a Jesuit."]


What is our real nature, and what sort of a curious and contemptible
understanding do we possess? A man may, it appears, draw the most
correct and luminous conclusions, and yet be destitute of common sense.
This is, in fact, too true. The Athenian fool, who believed that all the
vessels which came into the port belonged to him, could calculate to a
nicety what the cargoes of those vessels were worth, and within how many
days they would arrive from Smyrna at the Piræus.

We have seen idiots who could calculate and reason in a still more
extraordinary manner. They were not idiots, then, you tell me. I ask
your pardon--they certainly were. They rested their whole superstructure
on an absurd principle; they regularly strung together chimeras. A man
may walk well, and go astray at the same time; and, then, the better he
walks the farther astray he goes.

The Fo of the Indians was son of an elephant, who condescended to
produce offspring by an Indian princess, who, in consequence of this
species of left-handed union, was brought to bed of the god Fo. This
princess was sister to an emperor of the Indies. Fo, then, was the
nephew of that emperor, and the grandson of the elephant and the monarch
were cousins-german; therefore, according to the laws of the state, the
race of the emperor being extinct, the descendants of the elephant
become the rightful successors. Admit the principle, and the conclusion
is perfectly correct.

It is said that the divine elephant was nine standard feet in height.
You reasonably suppose that the gate of his stable should be above nine
feet in height, in order to admit his entering with ease. He consumed
twenty pounds of rice every day, and twenty pounds of sugar, and drank
twenty-five pounds of water. You find, by using your arithmetic, that he
swallows thirty-six thousand five hundred pounds weight in the course of
a year; it is impossible to reckon more correctly. But did your elephant
ever, in fact, exist? Was he the emperor's brother-in-law? Had his wife
a child by this left-handed union? This is the matter to be
investigated. Twenty different authors, who lived in Cochin China, have
successively written about it; it is incumbent on you to collate these
twenty authors, to weigh their testimonies, to consult ancient records,
to see if there is any mention of this elephant in the public registers;
to examine whether the whole account is not a fable, which certain
impostors have an interest in sanctioning. You proceed upon an
extravagant principle, but draw from it correct conclusions.

Logic is not so much wanting to men as the source of logic. It is not
sufficient for a madman to say six vessels which belong to me carry two
hundred tons each; the ton is two thousand pounds weight; I have
therefore twelve hundred thousand pounds weight of merchandise in the
port of the Piræus. The great point is, are those vessels yours? That is
the principle upon which your fortune depends; when that is settled, you
may estimate and reckon up afterwards.

An ignorant man, who is a fanatic, and who at the same time strictly
draws his conclusions from his premises, ought sometimes to be smothered
to death as a madman. He has read that Phineas, transported by a holy
zeal, having found a Jew in bed with a Midianitish woman, slew them
both, and was imitated by the Levites, who massacred every household
that consisted one-half of Midianites and the other of Jews. He learns
that Mr. ----, his Catholic neighbor, intrigued with Mrs. ----, another
neighbor, but a Huguenot, and he will kill both of them without scruple.
It is impossible to act in greater consistency with principle; but what
is the remedy for this dreadful disease of the soul? It is to accustom
children betimes to admit nothing which shocks reason, to avoid relating
to them histories of ghosts, apparitions, witches, demoniacal
possessions, and ridiculous prodigies. A girl of an active and
susceptible imagination hears a story of demoniacal possessions; her
nerves become shaken, she falls into convulsions, and believes herself
possessed by a demon or devil. I actually saw one young woman die in
consequence of the shock her frame received from these abominable



_The Age of Constantine._

Among the ages which followed the Augustan, that of Constantine merits
particular distinction. It is immortalized by the great changes which it
ushered into the world. It commenced, it is true, with bringing back
barbarism. Not merely were there no Ciceros, Horaces, and Virgils, any
longer to be found, but there was not even a Lucan or a Seneca; there
was not even a philosophic and accurate historian. Nothing was to be
seen but equivocal satires or mere random panegyrics.

It was at that time that the Christians began to write history, but they
took not Titus Livy, or Thucydides as their models. The followers of the
ancient religion wrote with no greater eloquence or truth. The two
parties, in a state of mutual exasperation, did not very scrupulously
investigate the charges which they heaped upon their adversaries; and
hence it arises that the same man is sometimes represented as a god and
sometimes as a monster.

The decline of everything, in the commonest mechanical arts, as well as
in eloquence and virtue, took place after the reign of Marcus Aurelius.
He was the last emperor of the sect of stoics, who elevated man above
himself by rendering him severe to himself only, and compassionate to
others. After the death of this emperor, who was a genuine philosopher,
there was nothing but tyranny and confusion. The soldiers frequently
disposed of the empire. The senate had fallen into such complete
contempt that, in the time of Gallienus, an express law was enacted to
prevent senators from engaging in war. Thirty heads of parties were
seen, at one time, assuming the title of emperor in thirty provinces of
the empire. The barbarians already poured in, on every side, in the
middle of the third century, on this rent and lacerated empire. Yet it
was held together by the mere military discipline on which it had been

During all these calamities, Christianity gradually established itself,
particularly in Egypt, Syria, and on the coasts of Asia Minor. The Roman
Empire admitted all sorts of religions, as well as all sects of
philosophy. The worship of Osiris was permitted, and even the Jews were
left in the enjoyment of considerable privileges, notwithstanding their
revolts. But the people in the provinces frequently rose up against the
Christians. The magistrates persecuted them, and edicts were frequently
obtained against them from the emperors. There is no ground for
astonishment at the general hatred in which Christians were at first
held, while so many other religions were tolerated. The reason was that
neither Egyptians nor Jews, nor the worshippers of the goddess of Syria
and so many other foreign deities, ever declared open hostility to the
gods of the empire. They did not array themselves against the
established religion; but one of the most imperious duties of the
Christians was to exterminate the prevailing worship. The priests of the
gods raised a clamor on perceiving the diminution of sacrifices and
offerings; and the people, ever fanatical and impetuous, were stirred up
against the Christians, while in the meantime many emperors protected
them. Adrian expressly forbade the persecution of them. Marcus Aurelius
commanded that they should not be prosecuted on account of religion.
Caracalla, Heliogabalus, Alexander, Philip, and Gallienus left them
entire liberty. They had, in the third century, public churches
numerously attended and very opulent; and so great was the liberty they
enjoyed that, in the course of that century, they held sixteen councils.
The road to dignities was shut up against the first Christians, who were
nearly all of obscure condition, and they turned their attention to
commerce, and some of them amassed great affluence. This is the resource
of all societies that cannot have access to offices in the state. Such
has been the case with the Calvinists in France, all the Nonconformists
in England, the Catholics in Holland, the Armenians in Persia, the
Banians in India, and the Jews all over the world. However, at last the
toleration was so great, and the administration of the government so
mild, that the Christians gained access to all the honors and dignities
of the state. They did not sacrifice to the gods of the empire; they
were not molested, whether they attended or avoided the temples; there
was at Rome the most perfect liberty with respect to the exercises of
their religion; none were compelled to engage in them. The Christians,
therefore, enjoyed the same liberty as others. It is so true that they
attained to honors, that Diocletian and Galerius deprived no fewer than
three hundred and three of them of those honors, in the persecution of
which we shall have to speak.

It is our duty to adore Providence in all its dispensations; but I
confine myself to political history. Manes, under the reign of Probus,
about the year 278, formed a new religion in Alexandria. The principles
of this sect were made up of some ancient doctrines of the Persians and
certain tenets of Christianity. Probus, and his successor, Carus, left
Manes and the Christians in the enjoyment of peace. Numerien permitted
them entire liberty. Diocletian protected the Christians, and tolerated
the Manichæans, during twelve years; but in 296 he issued an edict
against the Manichæans, and proscribed them as enemies to the empire and
adherents of the Persians. The Christians were not comprehended in the
edict; they continued in tranquillity under Diocletian, and made open
profession of their religion throughout the whole empire until the
latter years of that prince's reign.

To complete the sketch, it is necessary to describe of what at that
period the Roman Empire consisted. Notwithstanding internal and foreign
shocks, notwithstanding the incursions of barbarians, it comprised all
the possessions of the grand seignor at the present day, except Arabia;
all that the house of Austria possesses in Germany, and all the German
provinces as far as the Elbe; Italy, France, Spain, England, and half of
Scotland; all Africa as far as the desert of Sahara, and even the Canary
Isles. All these nations were retained under the yoke by bodies of
military less considerable than would be raised by Germany and France at
the present day, when in actual war.

This immense power became more confirmed and enlarged, from Cæsar down
to Theodosius, as well by laws, police, and real services conferred on
the people, as by arms and terror. It is even yet a matter of
astonishment that none of these conquered nations have been able, since
they became their own rulers, to form such highways, and to erect such
amphitheatres and public baths, as their conquerors bestowed upon them.
Countries which are at present nearly barbarous and deserted, were then
populous and well governed. Such, were Epirus, Macedonia, Thessaly,
Illyria, Pannonia, with Asia Minor, and the coasts of Africa; but it
must also be admitted that Germany, France, and Britain were then very
different from what they are now. These three states are those which
have most benefited by governing themselves; yet it required nearly
twelve centuries to place those kingdoms in the flourishing situation in
which we now behold them; but it must be acknowledged that all the rest
have lost much by passing under different laws. The ruins of Asia Minor
and Greece, the depopulation of Egypt and the barbarism of Africa, are
still existing testimonials of Roman greatness. The great number of
flourishing cities which covered those countries had now become
miserable villages, and the soil had become barren under the hands of a
brutalized population.


_Character of Constantine._

I will not here speak of the confusion which agitated the empire after
the abdication of Diocletian. There were after his death six emperors
at once. Constantine triumphed over them all, changed the religion of
the empire, and was not merely the author of that great revolution, but
of all those which have since occurred in the west. What was his
character? Ask it of Julian, of Zosimus, of Sozomen, and of Victor; they
will tell you that he acted at first like a great prince, afterwards as
a public robber, and that the last stage of his life was that of a
sensualist, a trifler, and a prodigal. They will describe him as ever
ambitious, cruel, and sanguinary. Ask his character of Eusebius, of
Gregory Nazianzen, and Lactantius; they will inform you that he was a
perfect man. Between these two extremes authentic facts alone can enable
us to obtain the truth. He had a father-in-law, whom he impelled to hang
himself; he had a brother-in-law whom he ordered to be strangled; he had
a nephew twelve or thirteen years old, whose throat he ordered to be
cut; he had an eldest son, whom he beheaded; he had a wife, whom he
ordered to be suffocated in a bath. An old Gallic author said that "he
loved to make a clear house."

If you add to all these domestic acts that, being on the banks of the
Rhine in pursuit of some hordes of Franks who resided in those parts,
and having taken their kings, who probably were of the family of our
Pharamond or Clodion _le Chevelu_, he exposed them to beasts for his
diversion; you may infer from all this, without any apprehension of
being deceived, that he was not the most courteous and accommodating
personage in the world.

Let us examine, in this place, the principal events of his reign. His
father, Constantius Chlorus, was in the heart of Britain, where he had
for some months assumed the title of emperor. Constantine was at
Nicomedia, with the emperor Galerius. He asked permission of the emperor
to go to see his father, who was ill. Galerius granted it, without
difficulty. Constantine set off with government relays, called
_veredarii_. It might be said to be as dangerous to be a post-horse as
to be a member of the family of Constantine, for he ordered all the
horses to be hamstrung after he had done with them, fearful lest
Galerius should revoke his permission and order him to return to
Nicomedia. He found his father at the point of death, and caused himself
to be recognized emperor by the small number of Roman troops at that
time in Britain.

An election of a Roman emperor at York, by five or six thousand men, was
not likely to be considered legitimate at Rome. It wanted at least the
formula of "_Senatus populusque Romanus_." The senate, the people, and
the prætorian bands unanimously elected Maxentius, son of the Cæsar
Maximilian Hercules, who had been already Cæsar, and brother of that
Fausta whom Constantine had married, and whom he afterwards caused to be
suffocated. This Maxentius is called a tyrant and usurper by our
historians, who are uniformly the partisans of the successful. He was
the protector of the pagan religion against Constantine, who already
began to declare himself for the Christians. Being both pagan and
vanquished, he could not but be an abominable man.

Eusebius tells us that Constantine, when going to Rome to fight
Maxentius, saw in the clouds, as well as his whole army, the grand
imperial standard called the _labarum_, surmounted with a Latin P. or a
large Greek R. with a cross in "_saltier_," and certain Greek words
which signified, "By this sign thou shalt conquer." Some authors pretend
that this sign appeared to him at Besancon, others at Cologne, some at
Trier and others at Troyes. It is strange that in all these places
heaven should have expressed its meaning in Greek. It would have
appeared more natural to the weak understandings of men that this sign
should have appeared in Italy on the day of the battle; but then it
would have been necessary that the inscription should have been in
Latin. A learned antiquary, of the name of Loisel, has refuted this
narrative; but he was treated as a reprobate.

It might, however, be worth while to reflect that this war was not a war
of religion, that Constantine was not a saint, that he died suspected of
being an Arian, after having persecuted the orthodox; and, therefore,
that there is no very obvious motive to support this prodigy.

After this victory, the senate hastened to pay its devotion to the
conqueror, and to express its detestation of the memory of the
conquered. The triumphal arch of Marcus Aurelius was speedily dismantled
to adorn that of Constantine. A statue of gold was prepared for him, an
honor which had never been shown except to the gods. He received it,
notwithstanding the _labarum_, and received further the title of
Pontifex Maximus, which he retained all his life. His first care,
according to Zosimus, was to exterminate the whole race of the tyrant,
and his principal friends; after which he assisted very graciously at
the public spectacles and games.

The aged Diocletian was at that time dying in his retreat at Salonica.
Constantine should not have been in such haste to pull down his statues
at Rome; he should have recollected that the forgotten emperor had been
the benefactor of his father, and that he was indebted to him for the
empire. Although he had conquered Maxentius, Licinius, his
brother-in-law, an Augustus like himself, was still to be got rid of;
and Licinius was equally anxious to be rid of Constantine, if he had it
in his power. However, their quarrels not having yet broken out in
hostility, they issued conjointly at Milan, in 313, the celebrated edict
of liberty of conscience. "We grant," they say, "to all the liberty of
following whatever religion they please, in order to draw down the
blessing of heaven upon us and our subjects; we declare that we have
granted to the Christians the free and full power of exercising their
religion; it being understood that all others shall enjoy the same
liberty, in order to preserve the tranquillity of our government." A
volume might be written on such an edict, but I shall merely venture a
few lines.

Constantine was not as yet a Christian; nor, indeed, was his colleague,
Licinius, one. There was still an emperor or a tyrant to be
exterminated; this was a determined pagan, of the name of Maximin.
Licinius fought with him before he fought with Constantine. Heaven was
still more favorable to him than to Constantine himself; for the latter
had only the apparition of a standard, but Licinius that of an angel.
This angel taught him a prayer, by means of which he would be sure to
vanquish the barbarian Maximin. Licinius wrote it down, ordered it to be
recited three times by his army, and obtained a complete victory. If
this same Licinius, the brother-in-law of Constantine, had reigned
happily, we should have heard of nothing but his angel; but Constantine
having had him hanged, and his son slain, and become absolute master of
everything, nothing has been talked of but Constantine's _labarum_.

It is believed that he put to death his eldest son Crispus, and his own
wife Fausta, the same year that he convened the Council of Nice. Zosimus
and Sozomen pretend that, the heathen priests having told him that there
were no expiations for such great crimes, he then made open profession
of Christianity, and demolished many temples in the East. It is not
very probable that the pagan pontiffs should have omitted so fine an
opportunity of getting back their grand pontiff, who had abandoned them.
However, it is by no means impossible that there might be among them
some severe men; scrupulous and austere persons are to be found
everywhere. What is more extraordinary is, that Constantine, after
becoming a Christian, performed no penance for his parricide. It was at
Rome that he exercised that cruelty, and from that time residence at
Rome became hateful to him. He quitted it forever, and went to lay the
foundations of Constantinople. How dared he say, in one of his
rescripts, that he transferred the seat of empire to Constantinople, "by
the command of God himself?" Is it anything but an impudent mockery of
God and man? If God had given him any command, would it not have
been--not to assassinate his wife and son?

Diocletian had already furnished an example of transferring the empire
towards Asia. The pride, the despotism, and the general manners of the
Asiatics disgusted the Romans, depraved and slavish as they had become.
The emperors had not ventured to require, at Rome, that their feet
should be kissed, nor to introduce a crowd of eunuchs into their
palaces. Diocletian began in Nicomedia, and Constantine completed the
system at Constantinople, to assimilate the Roman court to the courts of
the Persians. The city of Rome from that time languished in decay, and
the old Roman spirit declined with her. Constantine thus effected the
greatest injury to the empire that was in his power.

Of all the emperors, he was unquestionably the most absolute. Augustus
had left an image of liberty; Tiberius, and even Nero, had humored the
senate and people of Rome; Constantine humored none. He had at first
established his power in Rome by disbanding those haughty prætorians who
considered themselves the masters of the emperors. He made an entire
separation between the gown and the sword. The depositories of the laws,
kept down under military power, were only jurists in chains. The
provinces of the empire were governed upon a new system.

The grand object of Constantine was to be master in everything; he was
so in the Church, as well as in the State. We behold him convoking and
opening the Council of Nice; advancing into the midst of the assembled
fathers, covered over with jewels, and with the diadem on his head,
seating himself in the highest place, and banishing unconcernedly
sometimes Arius and sometimes Athanasius. He put himself at the head of
Christianity without being a Christian; for at that time baptism was
essential to any person's becoming one; he was only a catechumen. The
usage of waiting for the approach of death before immersing in the water
of regeneration, was beginning to decline with respect to private
individuals. If Constantine, by delaying his baptism till near the point
of death, entertained the notion that he might commit every act with
impunity in the hope of a complete expiation, it was unfortunate for the
human race that such an opinion should have ever suggested itself to the
mind of a man in possession of uncontrolled power.



The more we see of the world, the more we see it abounding in
contradictions and inconsistencies. To begin with the Grand Turk: he
orders every head that he dislikes struck off, and can very rarely
preserve his own. If we pass from the Grand Turk to the Holy Father, he
confirms the election of emperors, and has kings among his vassals; but
he is not so powerful as a duke of Savoy. He expedites orders for
America and Africa, yet could not withhold the slightest of its
privileges from the republic of Lucca. The emperor is the king of the
Romans; but the right of their king consists in holding the pope's
stirrup, and handing the water to him at mass. The English serve their
monarch upon their knees, but they depose, imprison, and behead him.

Men who make a vow of poverty, gain in consequence an income of about
two hundred thousand crowns; and, in virtue of their vow of humility,
they become absolute sovereigns. The plurality of benefices with care
of souls is severely denounced at Rome, yet every day it despatches a
bull to some German, to enable him to hold five or six bishoprics at
once. The reason, we are told, is that the German bishops have no cure
of souls. The chancellor of France is the first person in the State, but
he cannot sit at table with the king, at least he could not till lately,
although a colonel, who is scarcely perhaps a gentleman--_gentil-homme_
--may enjoy that distinction. The wife of a provincial governor is a
queen in the province, but merely a citizen's wife at court.

Persons convicted of the crime of nonconformity are publicly roasted,
and in all our colleges the second eclogue of Virgil is explained with
great gravity, including Corydon's declarations of love to the beautiful
Alexis; and it is remarked to the boys that, although Alexis be fair and
Amyntas brown, yet Amyntas may still deserve the preference.

If an unfortunate philosopher, without intending the least harm, takes
it into his head that the earth turns round, or to imagine that light
comes from the sun, or to suppose that matter may contain some other
properties than those with which we are acquainted, he is cried down as
a blasphemer, and a disturber of the public peace; and yet there are
translations _in usum Delphini_ of the "Tusculan Questions" of Cicero,
and of Lucretius, which are two complete courses of irreligion.

Courts of justice no longer believe that persons are possessed by
devils, and laugh at sorcerers; but Gauffredi and Grandier were burned
for sorcery; and one-half of a parliament wanted to sentence to the
stake a monk accused of having bewitched a girl of eighteen by breathing
upon her.

The skeptical philosopher Bayle was persecuted, even in Holland. La
Motte le Vayer, more of a skeptic, but less of a philosopher, was
preceptor of the king Louis XIV., and of the king's brother. Gourville
was hanged in effigy at Paris, while French minister in Germany.

The celebrated atheist Spinoza lived and died in peace. Vanini, who had
merely written against Aristotle, was burned as an atheist; he has, in
consequence, obtained the honor of making one article in the histories
of the learned, and in all the dictionaries, which, in fact, constitute
immense repositories of lies, mixed up with a very small portion of
truth. Open these books, and you will there find not merely that Vanini
publicly taught atheism in his writings, but that twelve professors of
his sect went with him to Naples with the intention of everywhere making
proselytes. Afterwards, open the books of Vanini, and you will be
astonished to find in them nothing but proofs of the existence of God.
Read the following passage, taken from his "_Amphitheatrum_," a work
equally unknown and condemned; "God is His own original and boundary,
without end and without beginning, requiring neither the one nor the
other, and father of all beginning and end; He ever exists, but not in
time; to Him there has been no past, and will be no future; He reigns
everywhere, without being in any place; immovable without rest, rapid
without motion; He is all, and out of all; He is in all, without being
enclosed; out of everything, without being excluded from anything; good,
but without quality; entire, but without parts; immutable, while
changing the whole universe; His will is His power; absolute, there is
nothing of Him of what is merely possible; all in Him is real; He is the
first, the middle, and the last; finally, although constituting all, He
is above all beings, out of them, within them, beyond them, before them,
and after them." It was after such a profession of faith that Vanini was
declared an atheist. Upon what grounds was he condemned? Simply upon the
deposition of a man named Francon. In vain did his books depose in favor
of him; a single enemy deprived him of life, and stigmatized his name
throughout Europe.

The little book called "_Cymbalum Mundi_," which is merely a cold
imitation of Lucian, and which has not the slightest or remotest
reference to Christianity, was condemned to be burned. But Rabelais was
printed "_cum privilegio_"; and a free course was allowed to the
"Turkish Spy," and even to the "Persian Letters"; that volatile,
ingenious, and daring work, in which there is one whole letter in favor
of suicide; another in which we find these words: "If we suppose such a
thing as religion;" a third, in which it is expressly said that "the
bishops have no other functions than dispensing with the observance of
the laws"; and, finally, another in which the pope is said to be a
magician, who makes people believe that three are one, and that the
bread we eat is not bread, etc.

The Abbé St. Pierre, a man who could frequently deceive himself, but who
never wrote without a view to the public good, and whose works were
called by Cardinal Dubois, "The dreams of an honest citizen"; the Abbé
St. Pierre, I say, was unanimously expelled from the French Academy for
having, in some political work, preferred the establishment of councils
under the regency to that of secretaries of state under Louis XIV.; and
for saying that towards the close of that glorious reign the finances
were wretchedly conducted. The author of the "Persian Letters" has not
mentioned Louis XIV. in his book, except to say that he was a magician
who could make his subjects believe that paper was money; that he liked
no government but that of Turkey; that he preferred a man who handed him
a napkin to a man who gained him battles; that he had conferred a
pension on a man who had run away two leagues, and a government upon
another who had run away four; that he was overwhelmed with poverty,
although it is said, in the same letter, that his finances are
inexhaustible. Observe, then, I repeat, all that this writer, in the
only work then known to be his, has said of Louis XIV., the patron of
the French Academy. We may add, too, as a climax of contradiction, that
that society admitted him as a member for having turned them into
ridicule; for, of all the books by which the public have been
entertained at the expense of the society, there is not one in which it
has been treated more disrespectfully than in the "Persian Letters." See
that letter wherein he says, "The members of this body have no other
business than incessantly to chatter; panegyric comes and takes its
place as it were spontaneously in their eternal gabble," etc. After
having thus treated this society, they praise him, on his introduction,
for his skill in drawing likenesses.

Were I disposed to continue the research into the contraries to be found
in the empire of letters, I might give the history of every man of
learning or wit; just in the same manner as, if I were inclined to
detail the contradictions existing in society, it would be necessary to
write the history of mankind. An Asiatic, who should travel to Europe,
might well consider us as pagans; our week days bear the names of Mars,
Mercury, Jupiter, and Venus; and the nuptials of Cupid and Psyche are
painted in the pope's palace; but, particularly, were this Asiatic to
attend at our opera, he would not hesitate in concluding it to be a
festival in honor of the pagan deities. If he endeavored to gain more
precise information respecting our manners, he would experience still
greater astonishment; he would see, in Spain, that a severe law forbids
any foreigner from having the slightest share, however indirect, in the
commerce of America; and that, notwithstanding, foreigners--through the
medium of Spanish factors--carry on a commerce with it to the extent of
fifteen millions a year. Thus Spain can be enriched only by the
violation of a law always subsisting and always evaded. He would see
that in another country the government establishes and encourages a
company for trading to the Indies, while the divines of that country
have declared the receiving of dividends upon the shares offensive in
the sight of God. He would see that the offices of a judge, a commander,
a privy counsellor, are purchased; he would be unable to comprehend why
it is stated in the patents appointing to such offices that they have
been bestowed gratis and without purchase, while the receipt for the sum
given for them is attached to the commission itself. Would not our
Asiatic be surprised, also, to see comedians salaried by sovereigns, and
excommunicated by priests? He would inquire why a plebeian
lieutenant-general, who had won battles, should be subject to the
_taille_, like a peasant; and a sheriff should be considered, at least
in reference to this point, as noble as a Montmorency; why, while
regular dramas are forbidden to be performed during a week sacred to
edification, merry-andrews are permitted to offend even the least
delicate ears with their ribaldry. He would almost everywhere see our
usages in opposition to our laws; and were we to travel to Asia, we
should discover the existence of exactly similar contradictions.

Men are everywhere inconsistent alike. They have made laws by piecemeal,
as breaches are repaired in walls. Here the eldest sons take everything
they are able from the younger ones; there all share equally. Sometimes
the Church has ordered duels, sometimes it has anathematized them. The
partisans and the opponents of Aristotle have been both excommunicated
in their turn; as have also the wearers of long hair and short hair.
There has been but one perfect law in the world, and that was designed
to regulate a species of folly--that is to say, play. The laws of play
are the only ones which admit of no exception, relaxation, change or
tyranny. A man who has been a lackey, if he plays at _lansquenet_ with
kings, is paid with perfect readiness when he wins. In other cases the
law is everywhere a sword, with which the strongest party cuts in pieces
the weakest.

In the meantime the world goes on as if everything was wisely arranged;
irregularity is part of our nature. Our social world is like the natural
globe, rude and unshapely, but possessing a principle of preservation;
it would be folly to wish that mountains, seas, and rivers were traced
in regular and finished forms; it would be a still greater folly to
expect from man the perfection of wisdom; it would be as weak as to
wish to attach wings to dogs or horns to eagles.

_Examples Taken from History, from Sacred Scripture, from Numerous
Authors, etc._

We have just been instancing a variety of contradictions in our usages,
our manners, and our laws, but we have not said enough. Everything,
particularly in Europe, has been made in the same manner as Harlequin's
habit. His master, when he wanted to have a dress made for him, had not
a piece of cloth, and therefore took old cuttings of all sorts of
colors. Harlequin was laughed at, but then he was clothed.

The Germans are a brave nation, whom neither the Germanicuses nor the
Trajans were ever able completely to subjugate. All the German nations
that dwelt beyond the Elbe were invincible, although badly armed; and
from these gloomy climes issued forth, in part, the avengers of the
world. Germany, far from constituting the Roman Empire, has been
instrumental in destroying it.

This empire had found a refuge at Constantinople, when a German--an
Austrasian--went from Aix-la-Chapelle to Rome, to strip the Greek Cæsars
of the remainder of their possessions in Italy. He assumed the name of
Cæsar Imperator; but neither he nor his successors even ventured to
reside at Rome. That capital could not either boast or regret that from
the time of Augustulus, the final excrement of the genuine Roman
Empire, a single Cæsar had lived and been buried within its walls.

It is difficult to suppose the empire can be "holy," as it professes
three different religions, of which two are declared impious,
abominable, damnable, and damned, by the court of Rome, which the whole
imperial court considers in such cases to be supreme. It is certainly
not Roman, since the emperor has not any residence at Rome.

In England people wait upon the king kneeling. The constant maxim is,
"The king can do no wrong"; his ministers only can deserve blame; he is
as infallible in his actions as the pope in his judgments. Such is the
fundamental, the "Salic" law of England. Yet the parliament sat in
judgment on its king, Edward II., who had been vanquished and taken
prisoner by his wife; he was declared to have done all possible wrong,
and deprived of all his rights to the crown. Sir William Tressel went to
him in prison, and made him the following complimentary address:

"I, William Tressel, as proxy for the parliament and the whole English
nation, revoke the homage formerly paid you; I put you to defiance, and
deprive you of royal power, and from this time forth we will hold no
allegiance to you."

The parliament tried and sentenced King Richard II., grandson of the
great Edward III. Thirty-one articles of accusation were brought against
him, among which two are not a little singular--that he had borrowed
money and not repaid it; and that he had asserted before witnesses that
he was master of the lives and properties of his subjects.

The parliament deposed Henry VI., who, undoubtedly, was exceedingly
wrong, but in a somewhat different sense: he was imbecile.

The parliament declared Edward IV. a traitor, and confiscated his goods;
and afterwards, on his being successful, restored him. As for Richard
III., he undoubtedly committed more wrong than all the others; he was a
Nero, but a bold one; and the parliament did not declare his wrongs till
after he was slain.

The House of Commons imputed to Charles I. more wrong than he was justly
chargeable with, and brought him to the scaffold. Parliament voted that
James II. had committed very gross and flagrant wrongs, and particularly
that of withdrawing himself from the kingdom. It declared the throne
vacant; that is, it deposed him. In the present day, Junius writes to
the king of England that he is faulty in being good and wise. If these
are not contradictions, I know not where to find them.

_Contradictions in Certain Rites._

Next to those great political contradictions, which are subdivided into
innumerable little ones, nothing more forcibly attracts our notice than
the contradiction apparent in reference to some of our rites. We hate
Judaism. No longer than fifteen years ago Jews were still burned at the
stake. We consider them as murderers of our God, and yet we assemble
every Sunday to chant Jewish psalms and canticles; it is only owing to
our ignorance of the language that we do not recite them in Hebrew. But
the fifteen first bishops, the priests, deacons and congregation of
Jerusalem, which was the cradle of the Christian religion, always
recited the Jewish psalms in the Jewish idiom of the Syriac language;
and, till the time of the Caliph Omar, almost all the Christians, from
Tyre to Aleppo, prayed in that Jewish idiom. At present any one reciting
the psalms as they were originally composed, or chanting them in the
Jewish language, would be suspected of being a circumcised Jew, and
might be burned as one; at least, not more than twenty years since, that
would have been his fate, although Jesus Christ was circumcised, as were
also his apostles and disciples. I set aside the mysterious doctrines of
our holy religion--everything that is an object of faith--everything
that we ought to approach only with awe and submission. I look only at
externals; I refer simply to observances; I ask if anything was ever
more contradictory?

_Contradictions in Things and Men._

If any literary society is inclined to undertake a history of
contradictions, I will subscribe for twenty folio volumes. The world
displays nothing but contradictions. What would be necessary to put an
end to them? To assemble the states-general of the human race. But,
according to the nature and constitution of mankind, it would be a new
contradiction were they to agree. Bring together all the rabbits in the
world, and there would not be two different minds among them.

I know only two descriptions of immovable beings in the
world--geometricians and brute animals; they are guided by two
invariable rules--demonstration and instinct. Some disputes, indeed,
have occurred between geometricians, but brutes have never varied.

The contrasts, the lights and shades, in which men are represented in
history, are not contradictions; they are faithful portraits of human
nature. Every day both censure and admiration are applied to Alexander,
the murderer of Clitus, but the avenger of Greece; the conqueror of
Persia, and the founder of Alexandria; to Cæsar, the debauchee, who
robbed the public treasury of Rome to enslave his country, but whose
clemency was equal to his valor, and whose genius was equal to his
courage; to Mahomet, the impostor and robber, but the only legislator of
religion that ever displayed courage, or founded a great empire; to the
enthusiast, Cromwell, at once knave and fanatic, the murderer of his
king by form of law, but equally profound as a politician, and valiant
as a warrior. A thousand contrasts frequently present themselves at once
to the mind, and these contrasts are in nature. They are not more
astonishing than a fine day followed by a tempest.

_Apparent Contradictions in Books._

We must accurately distinguish in books, and particularly the sacred
ones, between apparent and real contradictions. It is said in the
Pentateuch that Moses was the meekest of men, and that he ordered
twenty-three thousand Hebrews to be slain who had worshipped the golden
calf, and twenty-four thousand more, who had, like himself, married
Midianitish women. But sagacious commentators have adduced solid proofs
that Moses possessed a most amiable temper, and that he only executed
the vengeance of God in massacring these forty-seven thousand
Israelites, as just stated.

Some daring critics have pretended to perceive a contradiction in the
narrative in which it is said that Moses changed all the waters of Egypt
into blood, and that the magicians of Pharaoh afterwards performed the
same prodigy--the Book of Exodus leaving no interval of time between the
miracle of Moses and the magical operation of the enchanters.

It appears, at first view, impossible that these magicians should change
to blood that which was already made such; but the difficulty may be
removed by supposing that Moses had allowed the waters to resume their
original nature, in order to give Pharaoh time for reflection. This
supposition is the more plausible, inasmuch as, if not expressly favored
by the text, the latter is not contrary to it.

The same skeptics inquire how, after all the horses were destroyed by
hail, in the sixth plague, Pharaoh was able to pursue the Jewish nation
with cavalry. But this contradiction is not even an apparent one, since
the hail which killed all the horses that were out in the fields, could
not fall on those which were in the stables.

One of the greatest contradictions which has been supposed to be found
in the history of the kings is the utter scarcity of offensive and
defensive arms among the Jews at the time of the accession of Saul,
compared with the army of three hundred and thirty thousand men, whom he
conducted against the Ammonites who were besieging Jabesh Gilead.

It is a fact related that, then, and even after that battle, there was
not a lance, not even a single sword, among the whole Hebrew people;
that the Philistines prevented the Hebrews from manufacturing swords and
lances; that the Hebrews were obliged to have recourse to the
Philistines for sharpening and repairing their plowshares, mattocks,
axes, and pruning-hooks.

This acknowledgment seems to prove that the Hebrews consisted of only a
very small number, and that the Philistines were a powerful and
victorious nation, who kept the Israelites under the yoke, and treated
them as slaves; in short, that it was impossible for Saul to collect
three hundred and thirty thousand fighting men, etc.

The reverend Father Calmet says it is probable "that there is a little
exaggeration in what is stated about Saul and Jonathan"; but that
learned man forgets that the other commentators ascribe the first
victories of Saul and Jonathan to one of those decided miracles which
God so often condescended to perform in favor of his miserable people.
Jonathan, with his armor-bearer only, at the very beginning, slew twenty
of the enemy; and the Philistines, utterly confounded, turned their arms
against each other. The author of the Book of Kings positively declares
that it was a miracle of God: _"Accidit quasi miraculum a Deo."_ There
is, therefore, no contradiction.

The enemies of the Christian religion, the Celsuses, the Porphyrys, and
the Julians, have exhausted the sagacity of their understandings upon
this subject. The Jewish writers have availed themselves of all the
advantages they derived from their superior knowledge of the Hebrew
language to explain these apparent contradictions. They have been
followed even by Christians, such as Lord Herbert, Wollaston, Tindal,
Toland, Collins, Shaftesbury, Woolston, Gordon, Bolingbroke, and many
others of different nations. Fréret, perpetual secretary of the Academy
of Belles Lettres in France, the learned Le Clerc himself, and Simon of
the Oratory thought they perceived some contradictions which might be
ascribed to the copyists. An immense number of other critics have
endeavored to remove or correct contradictions which appeared to them

We read in a dangerous little book, composed with much art: "St. Matthew
and St. Luke give each a genealogy of Christ different from the other;
and lest it should be thought that the differences are only slight, such
as might be imputed to neglect or oversight, the contrary may easily be
shown by reading the first chapter of Matthew and the third of Luke. We
shall then see that fifteen generations more are enumerated in the one
than in the other; that, from David, they completely separate; that they
join again at Salathiel; but that, after his son, they again separate,
and do not reunite again but in Joseph.

"In the same genealogy, St. Matthew again falls into a manifest
contradiction, for he says that Uzziah was the father of Jotham; and in
the "_Paralipomena_," book I, chap. iii., v. II, 12, we find three
generations between them--Joas, Amazias, and Azarias--of whom Luke, as
well as Matthew, make no mention. Further, this genealogy has nothing to
do with that of Jesus, since, according to our creed, Joseph had had no
intercourse with Mary."

In order to reply to this objection, urged from the time of Origen, and
renewed from age to age, we must read Julius Africanus. See the two
genealogies reconciled in the following table, as we find it in the
repository of ecclesiastical writers:


     Solomon and his                            Nathan and his
     descendants, enumerated                    descendants, enumerated
     by Saint                                   by Saint
     Matthew.                                   Luke.


     Mathan, her first                          Melchi, or rather
     husband.                                   Mathat, her second
                       The wife of these two
                       persons successively,
     Jacob, son of     married first to Heli,          Heli.
     Mathan, the       by whom she had no
     first husband.    child, and afterwards
                       to Jacob, his brother.

     Joseph, natural                            Legitimate son of
     son of Jacob.                              Heli.

There is another method to reconcile the two genealogies, by St.
Epiphanius. According to him, Jacob Panther, descended from Solomon, is
the father of Joseph and of Cleophas. Joseph has six children by his
first wife--James, Joshua, Simeon, Jude, Mary, and Salome. He then
espouses the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus, and the daughter of
Joachim and Anne.

There are many other methods of explaining these two genealogies. See
the "Dissertation" of Father Calmet, in which he endeavors to reconcile
St. Matthew with St. Luke, on the genealogy of Jesus Christ. The same
learned skeptics, who make it their business to compare dates, to
explore books and medals, to collate ancient authors, and to seek for
truth by human skill and study, and who lose in their knowledge the
simplicity of their faith, reproach St. Luke with contradicting the
other evangelists, and in being mistaken in what he advances on the
subject of our Lord's birth. The author of the "Analysis of the
Christian Religion" thus rashly expresses himself on the subject (p.

"St. Luke says that Cyrenius was the governor of Syria, when Augustus
ordered the numbering of all the people of the empire. We will show how
many decided falsehoods are contained in these few words. First, Tacitus
and Suetonius, the most precise of historians, say not a single word of
the pretended numbering of the whole empire, which certainly would have
been a very singular event, since there never had been one under any
emperor--at least, no author mentions such a case. Secondly, Cyrenius
did not arrive in Syria till ten years after the time fixed by St. Luke;
it was then governed by Quintilius Varus, as Tertullian relates, and as
is confirmed by medals."

We contend that in fact there never was a numbering of the whole Roman
empire, but only a census of Roman citizens, according to usage;
although it is possible that the copyists may have written "numbering"
for "census." With regard to Cyrenius, whom the copyists have made
Cirinus, it is certain that he was not governor of Syria at the time of
the birth of Jesus Christ, the governor being Quintilius Varus; but it
is very probable that Quintilius might send into Judæa this same
Cyrenius, who ten years after succeeded him in the government of Syria.
We cannot dissemble, however, that this explanation still leaves some

In the first place, the census made under Augustus does not correspond
in time with the birth of Jesus Christ. Secondly, the Jews were not
comprised in that census. Joseph and his wife were not Roman citizens.
Mary, therefore, it is said, being under no necessity, was not likely to
go from Nazareth, which is at the extremity of Judæa, within a few miles
of Mount Tabor, in the midst of the desert, to lie in at Bethlehem,
which is eighty miles from Nazareth.

But it might easily happen that Cirinus, or Cyrenius, having been sent
to Jerusalem by Quintilius Varus to impose a poll-tax, Joseph and Mary
were summoned by the magistrate of Bethlehem to go and pay the tax in
the town of Bethlehem, the place of their birth. In this there is
nothing contradictory. The critics may endeavor to weaken this solution
by representing that it was Herod only who imposed taxes; that the
Romans at that time levied nothing on Judæa; that Augustus left Herod
completely his own master for the tribute which that Idumean paid to the
empire. But, in an emergency, it is not impossible to make some
arrangement with a tributary prince, and send him an intendant to
establish in concert with him the new tax.

We will not here say, like so many others, that copyists have committed
many errors, and that in the version we possess there are to be found
more than ten thousand; we had rather say with the doctors of the Church
and the most enlightened persons, that the Gospels were given us only to
teach us to live holily, and not to criticise learnedly.

These pretended contradictions produced a dreadful impression on the
much lamented John Meslier, rector of Etrepigni and But in Champagne.
This truly virtuous and charitable, but at the same time melancholy,
man, being possessed of scarcely any other books than the Bible and some
of the fathers, read them with a studiousness of attention that became
fatal to him. Although bound by the duties of his office to inculcate
docility upon his flock, he was not sufficiently docile himself. He saw
apparent contradictions, and shut his eyes to the means suggested for
reconciling them. He imagined that he perceived the most frightful
contradictions between Jesus being born a Jew and afterwards being
recognized as God; in regard to that God known from the first as the son
of Joseph the carpenter and the brother of James, yet descended from an
empyrean which does not exist, to destroy sin upon earth that is still
covered with crimes; in regard to that God, the son of a common artisan
and a descendant of David on the side of his father, who was not in fact
his father; between the creator of all worlds, and the descendant of the
adulterous Bathsheba, the prurient Ruth, the incestuous Tamar, the
prostitute of Jericho, the wife of Abraham, so suspiciously attractive
to a king of Egypt, and again at the age of ninety years to a king of

Meslier expatiates with an impiety absolutely monstrous on these
pretended contradictions, as they struck him, for which, however, he
might easily have found an explanation, had he possessed only a small
portion of docility. At length his gloom so grew upon him in his
solitude that he actually became horror-stricken at that holy religion
which it was his duty to preach and love; and, listening only to his
seduced and wandering reason, he abjured Christianity by a will written
in his own hand, of which he left three copies behind him at his death,
which took place in 1732. The copy of this will has been often printed,
and exhibits, in truth, a most cruel stumbling-block. A clergyman, who
at the point of death, asks pardon of God and his parishioners for
having taught the doctrines of Christianity; a charitable clergyman, who
holds Christianity in execration because many who profess it are
depraved; who is shocked at the pomp and pride of Rome, and exasperated
by the difficulties of the sacred volume; a clergyman who speaks of
Christianity like Porphyry, Jamblichus, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, and
Julian! And this just as he is to make his appearance before God! How
fatal a case for him, and for all who may be led astray by his example!

In a similar manner the unfortunate preacher Antony, misled by the
apparent contradictions which he imagined he saw between the new and the
old law, between the cultivated olive and the wild olive, wretchedly
abandoned the Christian religion for the Jewish; and, more courageous
than John Meslier, preferred death to recantation.

It is evident from the will of John Meslier that the apparent
contradictions of the gospel were the principal cause of unsettling the
mind of that unfortunate pastor, who was, in other respects, a man of
the strictest virtue, and whom it is impossible to think of without
compassion. Meslier is deeply impressed by the two genealogies, which
seem in direct opposition; he had not seen the method of reconciling
them; he feels agitated and provoked to see that St. Matthew makes the
father and mother of the child travel into Egypt, after having received
the homage of the three eastern magi or kings, and while old King Herod,
under the apprehension of being dethroned by an infant just born at
Bethlehem, causes the slaughter of all the infants in the country, in
order to prevent such a revolution. He is astonished that neither St.
Luke, nor St. Mark, nor St. John make any mention of this massacre. He
is confounded at observing that St. Luke makes Joseph, and the blessed
Virgin Mary, and Jesus our Saviour, remain at Bethlehem, after which
they withdraw to Nazareth. He should have seen that the Holy Father
might at first go into Egypt, and some time afterwards to Nazareth,
which was their country.

If St. Matthew alone makes mention of the three magi, and of the star
which guided them to Bethlehem from the remote climes of the East, and
of the massacre of the children; if the other evangelists take no notice
of these events, they do not contradict St. Matthew; silence is not

If the three first evangelists--St. Matthew, St. Mark, and St.
Luke--make Jesus Christ to have lived but three months from his baptism
in Galilee till his crucifixion at Jerusalem; and if St. John extends
that time to three years and three months, it is easy to approximate St.
John to the other evangelists, as he does not expressly state that Jesus
Christ preached in Galilee for three years and three months, but only
leaves it to be inferred from his narrative. Should a man renounce his
religion upon simple inferences, upon points of controversy, upon
difficulties in chronology?

It is impossible, says Meslier, to harmonize St. Mark and St. Luke;
since the first says that Jesus, when he left the wilderness, went to
Capernaum, and the second that he went to Nazareth. St. John says that
Andrew was the first who became a follower of Jesus Christ; the three
other evangelists say that it was Simon Peter.

He pretends, also, that they contradict each other with respect to the
day when Jesus celebrated the Passover, the hour and place of His
execution, the time of His appearance and resurrection. He is convinced
that books which contradict each other cannot be inspired by the Holy
Spirit; but it is not an article of faith to believe that the Holy
Spirit inspired every syllable; it did not guide the hand of the
copyist; it permitted the operation of secondary causes; it was
sufficient that it condescended to reveal the principal mysteries, and
that in the course of time it instituted a church for explaining them.
All those contradictions, with which the gospels have been so often and
so bitterly reproached, are explained by sagacious commentators; far
from being injurious, they mutually clear up each other; they present
reciprocal helps in the concordances and harmony of the four gospels.

And if there are many difficulties which we cannot solve, mysteries
which we cannot comprehend, adventures which we cannot credit, prodigies
which shock the weakness of the human understanding, and contradictions
which it is impossible to reconcile, it is in order to exercise our
faith and to humiliate our reason.

_Contradictions in Judgments Upon Works of Literature or Art._

I have sometimes heard it said of a good judge on these subjects, and of
exquisite taste, that man decides according to mere caprice. He
yesterday described Poussin as an admirable painter; to-day he
represents him as an ordinary one. The fact is, that Poussin has merited
both praise and censure.

There is no contradiction in being enraptured by the delicious scenes
of the Horatii and Curiatii, of the Cid, of Augustus and of Cinna, and
afterwards in seeing, with disgust and indignation, fifteen tragedies in
succession, containing no interest, no beauty, and not even written in

It is the author himself who is contradictory. It is he who has the
misfortune to differ entirely from himself. The critic would contradict
himself, if he equally applauded what is excellent and detestable. He
will admire in Homer the description of the girdle of Venus; the parting
of Hector and Andromache; the interview between Achilles and Priam. But
will he equally applaud those passages which describe the gods as
abusing and fighting with one another; the uniformity in battles which
decide nothing; the brutal ferocity of the heroes, and the avarice by
which they are almost all actuated; in short, a poem which terminates
with a truce of eleven days, unquestionably exciting an expectation of
the continuation of the war and the taking of Troy, which, however, are
not related?

A good critic will frequently pass from approbation to censure, however
excellent the work may be which he is perusing.


Contrast, opposition of figures, situations, fortune, manners, etc. A
modest shepherdess forms a beautiful contrast in a painting with a
haughty princess. The part of the impostor and that of Aristes
constitute a very admirable contrast in "_Tartuffe_."

The little may contrast with the great in painting, but cannot be said
to be contrary to it. Opposition of colors contrasts; but there are also
colors contrary to each other; that is, which produce an ill effect
because they shock the eye when brought very near it.

"Contradictory" is a term to be used only in logic. It is contradictory
for anything to be and not to be; to be in many places at once; to be of
a certain number or size, and not to be so. An opinion, a discourse, or
a decree, we may call contradictory. The different fortunes of Charles
XII. have been contrary, but not contradictory; they form in history a
beautiful contrast.

It is a striking contrast--and the two things are perfectly
contrary--but it is not contradictory, that the pope should be
worshipped in Rome, and burned in London on the same day; that while he
was called God's vicegerent in Italy, he should be represented in the
streets of Moscow as a hog, for the amusement of Peter the Great.

Mahomet, stationed at the right hand of God over half the globe, and
damned over the other half, is the greatest of contrasts. Travel far
from your own country, and everything will be contrast for you. The
white man who first saw a negro was much astonished; but the first who
said that the negro was the offspring of a white pair astonishes me
much more; I do not agree with him. A painter who represents white men,
negroes, and olive-colored people, may display fine contrasts.


About the year 1724 the cemetery of St. Médard abounded in amusement,
and many miracles were performed there. The following epigram by the
duchess of Maine gives a tolerable account of the character of most of

     _Un décrotteur à la Royale,_
     _Du talon gauche estropié,_
     _Obtint, pour grâce speciale,_
     _D'être tortueux de l'autre pied._

     A Port-Royal shoe-black, who had _one_ lame leg,
     To make both alike the Lord's favor did beg;
     Heaven listened, and straightway a miracle came,
     For quickly he rose up, with _both_ his legs lame.

The miracles continued, as is well known, until a guard was stationed at
the cemetery.

     _De par le roi, défense à Dieu_
     _De faire miracles en ce lieu._

     Louis to God:--To keep the peace,
     Here miracles must henceforth cease.

It is also well known that the Jesuits, being no longer able to perform
similar miracles, in consequence of Xavier having exhausted their stock
of grace and miraculous power, by resuscitating nine dead persons at one
time, resolved in order to counteract the credit of the Jansenists, to
engrave a print of Jesus Christ dressed as a Jesuit. The Jansenists, on
the other hand, in order to give a satisfactory proof that Jesus Christ
had not assumed the habit of a Jesuit, filled Paris with convulsions,
and attracted great crowds of people to witness them. The counsellor of
parliament, Carré de Montgeron, went to present to the king a quarto
collection of all these miracles, attested by a thousand witnesses. He
was very properly shut up in a château, where attempts were made to
restore his senses by regimen; but truth always prevails over
persecution, and the miracles lasted for thirty years together, without
interruption. Sister Rose, Sister Illuminée, and the sisters Promise and
Comfitte, were scourged with great energy, without, however, exhibiting
any appearance of the whipping next day. They were bastinadoed on their
stomachs without injury, and placed before a large fire; but, being
defended by certain pomades and preparations, were not burned. At
length, as every art is constantly advancing towards perfection, their
persecutors concluded with actually thrusting swords through their
chairs, and with crucifying them. A famous schoolmaster had also the
benefit of crucifixion; all which was done to convince the world that a
certain bull was ridiculous, a fact that might have been easily proved
without so much trouble. However, Jesuits and Jansenists all united
against the "Spirit of Laws," and against, and against.... and
against.... and.... And after all this we dare to ridicule Laplanders,
Samoyeds, and negroes!


They must be skeptics indeed who doubt that _pain_ comes from _panis_.
But to make bread we must have corn. The Gauls had corn in the time of
Cæsar; but whence did they take the word _blé_? It is pretended that it
is from _bladum_, a word employed in the barbarous Latin of the middle
age by the Chancellor Desvignes, or De Erneis, whose eyes, it is said,
were torn out by order of the Emperor Frederick II.

But the Latin words of these barbarous ages were only ancient Celtic or
Teutonic words Latinized. _Bladum_ then comes from our _blead_, and not
our _blead_ from _bladum_. The Italians call it _bioda_, and the
countries in which the ancient Roman language is preserved, still say

This knowledge is not infinitely useful; but we are curious to know
where the Gauls and Teutons found corn to sow? We are told that the
Tyrians brought it into Spain, the Spaniards into Gaul, and the Gauls
into Germany. And where did the Tyrians get this corn? Probably from the
Greeks, in exchange for their alphabet.

Who made this present to the Greeks? It was the goddess Ceres, without
doubt; and having ascended to Ceres, we can scarcely go any higher.
Ceres must have descended from heaven expressly to give us wheat, rye,
and barley. However, as the credit of Ceres, who gave corn to the
Greeks, and that of Ishet, or Isis, who gratified the Egyptians with
it, are at present very much decayed, we may still be said to remain in
uncertainty as to the origin of corn.

Sanchoniathon tells us that Dagon or Dagan, one of the grandsons of
Thaut, had the superintendence of the corn in Phœnicia. Now his Thaut
was near the time of our Jared; from which it appears that corn is very
ancient, and that it is of the same antiquity as grass. Perhaps this
Dagon was the first who made bread, but that is not demonstrated.

What a strange thing that we should know positively that we are obliged
to Noah for wine, and that we do not know to whom we owe the invention
of bread. And what is still more strange, we are still so ungrateful to
Noah that, while we have more than two thousand songs in honor of
Bacchus, we scarcely sing one in honor of our benefactor, Noah.

A Jew assured me that corn came without cultivation in Mesopotamia, as
apples, wild pears, chestnuts, and medlars, in the west. It is as well
to believe him, until we are sure of the contrary; for it is necessary
that corn should grow spontaneously somewhere. It has become the
ordinary and indispensable nourishment in the finest climates, and in
all the north.

The great philosophers whose talents we estimate so highly, and whose
systems we do not follow, have pretended, in the natural history of the
dog (page 195), that men created corn; and that our ancestors, by means
of sowing tares and cow-grass together, changed them into wheat. As
these philosophers are not of our opinion on shells, they will permit us
to differ from them on corn. We do not think that tulips could ever have
been produced from jasmine. We find that the germ of corn is quite
different from that of tares, and we do not believe in any
transmutation. When it shall be proved to us, we will retract.

We have seen, in the article "Breadtree," that in three-quarters of the
earth bread is not eaten. It is pretended that the Ethiopians laughed at
the Egyptians, who lived on bread. But since corn is our chief
nourishment, it has become one of the greatest objects of commerce and
politics. So much has been written on this subject, that if a laborer
sowed as many pounds of wheat as we have volumes on this commodity, he
might expect a more ample harvest, and become richer than those who, in
their painted and gilded saloons, are ignorant of the excess of his
oppression and misery.

Egypt became the best country in the world for wheat when, after several
ages, which it is difficult to reckon exactly, the inhabitants found the
secret of rendering a destructive river--which had always inundated the
country, and was only useful to the rats, insects, reptiles, and
crocodiles of Egypt--serviceable to the fecundity of the soil. Its
waters, mixed with a black mud, were neither useful to quench the thirst
of the inhabitants, nor for ablution. It must have required a long time
and prodigious labor to subdue the river, to divide it into canals, to
found towns on lands formerly movable, and to change the caverns of the
rocks into vast buildings.

All this is more astonishing than the pyramids; for being accomplished,
behold a people sure of the best corn in the world, without the
necessity of labor! It is the inhabitant of this country who raises and
fattens poultry superior to that of Caux, who is habited in the finest
linen in the most temperate climate, and who has none of the real wants
of other people.

Towards the year 1750, the French nation, surfeited with tragedies,
comedies, operas, romances, and romantic histories--with moral
reflections still more romantic, and with theological disputes on grace
and on convulsionaries, began to reason upon corn. They even forgot the
vine, in treating of wheat and rye. Useful things were written on
agriculture, and everybody read them except the laborers. The good
people imagined, as they walked out of the comic opera, that France had
a prodigious quantity of corn to sell, and the cry of the nation at last
obtained of the government, in 1764, the liberty of exportation.

Accordingly they exported. The result was exactly what it had been in
the time of Henry IV., they sold a little too much, and a barren year
succeeding, Mademoiselle Bernard was obliged, for the second time, to
sell her necklace to get linen and chemises. Now the complainants passed
from one extreme to the other, and complained against the exportation
that they had so recently demanded, which shows how difficult it is to
please all the world and his wife.

Able and well-meaning people, without interest, have written, with as
much sagacity as courage, in favor of the unlimited liberty of the
commerce in grain. Others, of as much mind, and with equally pure views,
have written in the idea of limiting this liberty; and the Neapolitan
Abbé Gagliana amused the French nation on the exportation of corn, by
finding out the secret of making, even in French, dialogues as amusing
as our best romances, and as instructive as our good serious books. If
this work did not diminish the price of bread, it gave great pleasure to
the nation, which was what it valued most. The partisans of unlimited
exportation answered him smartly. The result was that the readers no
longer knew where they were, and the greater part took to reading
romances, expecting that the three or four following years of abundance
would enable them to judge. The ladies were no longer able to
distinguish wheat from rye, while honest devotees continued to believe
that grain must lie and rot in the ground in order to spring up again.


_Meetings of Ecclesiastics, Called Together to Resolve Doubts or
Questions on Points of Faith or Discipline._

The use of councils was not unknown to the followers of the ancient
religion of Zerdusht, whom we call Zoroaster. About the year 200 of our
era, Ardeshir Babecan, king of Persia, called together forty thousand
priests, to consult them touching some of his doubts about paradise and
hell, which they call the _gehen_--a term adopted by the Jews during
their captivity at Babylon, as they did the names of the angels and of
the months. Erdoviraph, the most celebrated of the magi, having drunk
three glasses of a soporific wine, had an ecstasy which lasted seven
days and seven nights, during which his soul was transported to God.
When the paroxysm was over, he reassured the faith of the king, by
relating to him the great many wonderful things he had seen in the other
world, and having them written down.

We know that Jesus was called _Christ_, a Greek word signifying
_anointed_; and his doctrine _Christianity_, or _gospel_, i.e., _good
news_, because having, as was his custom, entered one Sabbath day the
synagogue of Nazareth, where he was brought up, He applied to Himself
this passage of Isaiah, which He had just read: "The spirit of the Lord
is on me, because He hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the
poor." They of the synagogue did, to be sure, drive Him out of their
town, and carry Him to a point of the hill, on which it was built, in
order to throw Him headlong from it; and His relatives "went out to lay
hold on Him," for they were told, and they said, "that He was beside
Himself." Nor is it less certain that Jesus constantly declared He had
come not to destroy the law or the prophecies, but to fulfil them.

But, as He left nothing written, His first disciples were divided on the
famous question, whether the Gentiles were to be circumcised and ordered
to keep the Mosaic law. The apostles and the priests, therefore,
assembled at Jerusalem to examine this point, and, after many
conferences, they wrote to the brethren among the Gentiles, at Antioch,
in Syria, and in Cilicia, a letter of which we give the substance: "It
has seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us, not to impose upon you any
obligations but those which are necessary, viz., to abstain from meats
offered up to idols, from blood, from the flesh of choked animals, and
from fornication."

The decision of this council did not prevent Peter, when at Antioch,
from continuing to eat with the Gentiles, before some of the
circumcised, who came from James, had arrived. But Paul, seeing that he
did not walk straight in the path of gospel truth, resisted him to the
face, saying to him before them all. "If thou, being a Jew, livest after
the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the
Gentiles to live as do the Jews?" Indeed Peter had lived like the
Gentiles ever since he had seen, in a trance, "heaven opened, and a
certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet, knit
at the four corners, and let down to the earth; wherein were all manner
of four-footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping
things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise,
Peter, kill and eat."

Paul, who so loudly reproved Peter for using this dissimulation to make
them believe that he still observed the law, had himself recourse to a
similar feint at Jerusalem. Being accused of teaching the Jews who were
among the Gentiles to renounce Moses, he went and purified himself in
the temple for seven days, in order that all might know that what they
had heard of him was false, and that he continued to observe the law;
this, too, was done by the advice of all the priests, assembled at the
house of James--which priests were the same who had decided with the
Holy Ghost, that these observations were unnecessary.

Councils were afterwards distinguished into general and particular.
Particular councils are of three kinds--national, convoked by the
prince, the patriarch, or the primate; provincial, assembled by the
metropolitan or archbishop; and diocesan, or synods held by each bishop.
The following is a decree of one of the councils held at Macon:

"Whenever a layman meet a priest or a deacon on the road, he shall
offer him his arm; if the priest and the layman are both on horseback,
the layman shall stop and salute the priest reverently; and if the
priest be on foot, and the layman on horseback, the layman shall
dismount, and shall not mount again until the ecclesiastic be at a
certain distance; all on pain of interdiction for as long a time as it
shall please the metropolitan."

The list of the councils, in Moréri's "Dictionary," occupies more than
sixteen pages, but as authors are not agreed concerning the number of
general councils, we shall here confine ourselves to the results of the
first eight that were assembled by order of the emperors.

Two priests of Alexandria, seeking to know whether Jesus was God or
creature, not only did the bishops and priests dispute but the whole
people were divided, and the disorder arrived at such a pitch that the
Pagans ridiculed Christianity on the stage. The emperor Constantine
first wrote in these terms to Bishop Alexander and the priest Arius, the
authors of the dissension: "These questions, which are unnecessary, and
spring only from unprofitable idleness, may be discussed in order to
exercise the intellect; but they should not be repeated in the hearing
of the people. Being divided on so small a matter, it is not just that
you should govern, according to your thoughts, so great a multitude of
God's people. Such conduct is mean and puerile, unworthy of the priestly
office, and of men of sense. I do not say this to compel you entirely
to agree on this frivolous question, whatever it is. You may, with a
private difference, preserve unity, provided these subtleties and
different opinions remain secret in your inmost thoughts."

The emperor, having learned that his letter was without effect,
resolved, by the advice of the bishops, to convoke an ecumenical
council--_i.e_., a council of the whole habitable earth, and chose for
the place of meeting the town of Nicæa, in Bithynia. There came thither
two thousand and forty-eight bishops, who, as Eutychius relates, were
all of different sentiments and opinions. This prince, having had the
patience to hear them dispute on this point, was much surprised at
finding among them so little unanimity; and the author of the Arabic
preface to this council says that the records of these disputes amounted
to forty volumes.

This prodigious number of bishops will not appear incredible when it is
recollected that Usher, quoted by Selden, relates that St. Patrick, who
lived in the fifth century, founded three hundred and sixty-five
churches, and ordained the like number of bishops; which proves that
then each church had its bishop, that is, its overlooker.

In the Council of Nice there was read a letter from Eusebius of
Nicomedia, containing manifest heresy, and discovering the cabal of
Arius's party. In it was said, among other things, that if Jesus were
acknowledged to be the Son of God uncreated, He must also be
acknowledged to be consubstantial with the Father. Therefore it was that
Athanasius, a deacon of Alexandria, persuaded the fathers to dwell on
the word _consubstantial_, which had been rejected as improper by the
Council of Antioch, held against Paul of Samosata; but he took it in a
gross sense, marking division; as we say, that several pieces of money
are of the same metal: whereas the orthodox explained the term
_consubstantial_ so well, that the emperor himself comprehended that it
involved no corporeal idea--signified no division of the absolutely
immaterial and spiritual substance of the Father--but was to be
understood in a divine and ineffable sense. They moreover showed the
injustice of the Arians in rejecting this word on pretence that it was
not in the Scriptures--they who employ so many words which are not there
to be found; and who say that the Son of God was brought out of nothing,
and had not existed from all eternity.

Constantine then wrote two letters at the same time, to give publicity
to the ordinances of the council, and make them known to such as had not
attended it. The first, addressed to the churches in general, says, in
so many words, that the question of the faith has been examined, and so
well cleared up, that no difficulty remains. In the second, among
others, the church of Alexandria is thus addressed: "What three hundred
bishops have ordained is no other than the seed of the only Son of God;
the Holy Ghost has declared the will of God through these great men,
whom he inspired. Now, then, let none doubt--let none dispute, but each
one return with all his heart into the way of truth."

The ecclesiastical writers are not agreed as to the number of bishops
who subscribed to the ordinances of this council. Eusebius reckons only
two hundred and fifty; Eustathius of Antioch, cited by Theodoret, two
hundred and seventy; St. Athanasius, in his epistle to the Solitaries,
three hundred, like Constantine; while, in his letter to the Africans,
he speaks of three hundred and eighteen. Yet these four authors were
eye-witnesses, and worthy of great faith.

This number 318, which Pope St. Leo calls mysterious, has been adopted
by most of the fathers of the church. St. Ambrose assures us that the
number of 318 bishops was a proof of the presence of our Lord Jesus
Christ in his Council of Nicæa, because the cross designates three
hundred, and the name of Jesus eighteen. St. Hilary, in his defence of
the word _consubstantial_, approved in the Council of Nice, though
condemned fifty-five years before in the Council of Antioch, reasons
thus: "Eighty bishops rejected the word _consubstantial_, but three
hundred and eighteen have received it. Now this latter number seems to
me a sacred number, for if is that of the men who accompanied Abraham,
when, after his victory over the impious kings, he was blessed by him
who is the type of the eternal priesthood." And Selden relates that
Dorotheus, metropolitan of Monembasis, said there were precisely three
hundred and eighteen fathers at this council, because three hundred and
eighteen years had elapsed since the incarnation. All chronologists
place this council in the year 325 of our modern era; but Dorotheus
deducts seven years, to make his comparison complete; this, however, is
a mere trifle. Besides, it was not until the Council of Lestines, in
743, that the years began to be counted from the incarnation of Jesus.
Dionysius the Less had imagined this epoch in his solar cycle of the
year 526, and Bede had made use of it in his "Ecclesiastical History."

It will not be a subject of astonishment that Constantine adopted the
opinion of the three hundred or three hundred and eighteen bishops who
held the divinity of Jesus, when it is borne in mind that Eusebius of
Nicomedia, one of the principal leaders of the Arian party, had been an
accomplice in the cruelty of Licinius, in the massacres of the bishops,
and the persecutions of the Christians. Of this the emperor himself
accuses him, in the private letter which he wrote to the church of

"He sent spies about me," says he, "in the troubles, and did everything
but take up arms for the tyrant. I have proofs of this from the priests
and deacons of his train, whom I took. During the Council of Nicæa, with
what eagerness and what impudence he maintained, against the testimony
of his conscience, the error exploded on every side! repeatedly
imploring my protection, lest, being convicted of so great a crime, he
should lose his dignity. He shamefully circumvented and took me by
surprise, and carried everything as he chose. Again, see what has been
done but lately by him and Theogenes."

Constantine here alludes to the fraud which Eusebius of Nicomedia and
Theogenes of Nicæa resorted to in subscribing. In the word "omoousios,"
they inserted an iota, making it "omoiousios," meaning of like
substance; whereas the first means of _the same_ substance. We hereby
see that these bishops yielded to the fear of being displaced or
banished; for the emperor had threatened with exile such as should not
subscribe. The other Eusebius, too, bishop of Cæsarea, approved the word
_consubstantial_, after condemning it the day before.

However, Theonas of Marmarica, and Secundus of Ptolemais continued
obstinately attached to Arius; and, the council, having condemned them
with him, Constantine banished them, and declared by an edict that
whosoever should be convicted of concealing any of the writings of Arius
instead of burning them, should be punished with death. Three months
after, Eusebius of Nicomedia and Theogenes were likewise exiled into
Gaul. It is said that, having gained over the individual who, by the
emperor's order, kept the acts of the council, they had erased their
signatures, and begun to teach in public that the Son must not be
believed to be consubstantial with the Father.

Happily, to replace their signatures and preserve entire the mysterious
number three hundred and eighteen, the expedient was tried of laying the
book, in which the acts were divided into sessions, on the tomb of
Chrysanthus and Mysonius, who had died while the council was in session;
the night was passed in prayer and the next morning it was found that
these two bishops had signed.

It was by an expedient nearly similar, that the fathers of the same
council distinguished the authentic from the apocryphal books of
Scripture. Having placed them altogether upon the altar, the apocryphal
books fell to the ground of themselves.

Two other councils, assembled by the emperor Constantine, in the year
359, the one, of upwards of four hundred bishops, at Rimini, the other,
of more than a hundred and fifty, at Seleucia; after long debates,
rejected the word _consubstantial_, already condemned, as we have before
said, by a Council of Antioch. But these councils are recognized only by
the Socinians.

The Nicene fathers had been so much occupied with the consubstantiality
of the Son, that they had made no mention of the church in their symbol,
but contented themselves with saying, "We also believe in the Holy
Ghost." This omission was supplied in the second general council,
convoked at Constantinople, in 381, by Theodosius. The Holy Ghost was
there declared to be the Lord and giver of life, proceeding from the
Father, who with the Father and Son is worshipped and glorified, who
spake by the prophets. Afterwards the Latin church would have the Holy
Ghost proceed from the Son also; and the "filioque" was added to the
symbol: first in Spain, in 447; then in France, at the Council of Lyons,
in 1274; and lastly at Rome, notwithstanding the complaints made by the
Greeks against this innovation.

The divinity of Jesus being once established, it was natural to give to
his mother the title of Mother of God. However, Nestorius, patriarch of
Constantinople, maintained in his sermons that this would be justifying
the folly of the Pagans, who gave mothers to their gods. Theodosius the
younger, to have this great question decided, assembled the third
general council at Ephesus, in the year 431, and in it Mary was
acknowledged to be the mother of God.

Another heresy of Nestorius, likewise condemned at Ephesus, was that of
admitting two persons in Jesus. Nevertheless, the patriarch Photius
subsequently acknowledged two natures in Jesus. A monk named Eutyches,
who had already exclaimed loudly against Nestorius, affirmed, the better
to contradict them both, that Jesus had also but one nature. But this
time the monk was wrong; although, in 449, his opinion had been
maintained by blows in a numerous council at Ephesus. Eutyches was
nevertheless anathematized, two years afterwards, by the fourth general
council, held under the emperor Marcian at Chalcedon, in which two
natures were assigned to Jesus.

It was still to be determined, with one person and two natures, how many
wills Jesus was to have. The fifth general council, which in the year
553 quelled, by Justinian's order, the contentions about the doctrine of
three bishops, had no leisure to settle this important point. It was not
until the year 680 that the sixth general council, also convened at
Constantinople by Constantine Pogonatus, informed us that Jesus had
precisely two wills. This council, in condemning the Monothelites, who
admitted only one, made no exception from the anathema in favor of Pope
Honorius I., who, in a letter given by Baronius, had said to the
patriarch of Constantinople:

"We confess in Jesus Christ one only will. We do not see that either the
councils or the Scriptures authorize us to think otherwise. But whether,
from the works of divinity and of humanity which are in him, we are to
look for two operations, is a point of little importance, and one which
I leave it to the grammarians to decide."

Thus, in this instance, with God's permission, the account between the
Greek and Latin churches was balanced. As the patriarch Nestorius had
been condemned for acknowledging two persons in Jesus, so Pope Honorius
was now condemned for admitting but one will in Jesus.

The seventh general council, or the second of Nice, was assembled in
787, by Constantine, son of Leo and Irene, to re-establish the worship
of images. The reader must know that two Councils of Constantinople, the
first in 730, under the emperor Leo, the other twenty-four years after,
under Constantine Copronymus, had thought proper to proscribe images,
conformably to the Mosaic law and to the usage of the early ages of
Christianity. So, also, the Nicene decree, in which it is said that
"whosoever shall not render service and adoration to the images of the
saints as to the Trinity, shall be deemed anathematized," at first
encountered some opposition. The bishops who introduced it, in a Council
of Constantinople, held in 789, were turned out by soldiers. The same
decree was also rejected with scorn by the Council of Frankfort in 794,
and by the Caroline books, published by order of Charlemagne. But the
second Council of Nice was at length confirmed at Constantinople under
the emperor Michael and his mother Theodora, in the year 842, by a
numerous council, which anathematized the enemies of holy images. Be it
here observed, it was by two women, the empresses Irene and Theodora,
that the images were protected.

We pass on to the eighth general council. Under the emperor Basilius,
Photius, ordained patriarch of Constantinople in place of Ignatius, had
the Latin church condemned for the "filioque" and other practices, by a
council of the year 866: but Ignatius being recalled the following
year, another council removed Photius; and in the year 869 the Latins,
in their turn, condemned the Greek church in what they called the eighth
general council--while those in the East gave this name to another
council, which, ten years after, annulled what the preceding one had
done, and restored Photius.

These four councils were held at Constantinople; the others, called
_general_ by the Latins, having been composed of the bishops of the West
only, the popes, with the aid of false decretals, gradually arrogated
the right of convoking them. The last of these which assembled at Trent,
from 1545 to 1563, neither served to convert the enemies of papacy nor
to subdue them. Its decrees, in discipline, have been scarcely admitted
into any one Catholic nation: its only effect has been to verify these
words of St. Gregory Nazianzen: "I have not seen one council that has
acted with good faith, or that has not augmented the evils complained of
rather than cured them. Ambition and the love of disputation, beyond the
power of words to express, reign in every assembly of bishops."

However, the Council of Constance, in 1415, having decided that a
council-general receives its authority immediately from Jesus Christ,
which authority every person, of whatever rank or dignity, is bound to
obey in all that concerns the faith; and the Council of Basel having
afterwards confirmed this decree, which it holds to be an article of
faith which cannot be neglected without renouncing salvation, it is
clear how deeply every one is interested in paying submission to


_Notice of the General Councils._

Assembly, council of state, parliament, states-general, formerly
signified the same thing. In the primitive ages nothing was written in
Celtic, nor in German, nor in Spanish. The little that was written was
conceived in the Latin tongue by a few clerks, who expressed every
meeting of _lendes_, _herren_, or _ricohombres_, by the word
_concilium_. Hence it is that we find in the sixth, seventh, and eighth
centuries so many councils which were nothing more than councils of

We shall here speak only of the great councils called _general_, whether
by the Greek or by the Latin church. At Rome they were called _synods_,
as they were in the East in the primitive ages--for the Latins borrowed
names as well as things from the Greeks.

In 325 there was a great council in the city of Nicæa, convoked by
Constantine. The form of its decision was this: "We believe that Jesus
is of one substance with the Father, God of God, light of light,
begotten, not made. We also believe in the Holy Ghost."

Nicephorus affirms that two bishops, Chrysanthus and Mysonius, who had
died during the first sittings, rose again to sign the condemnation of
Arius, and incontinently died again, as I have already observed.
Baronius maintains this fact, but Fleury says nothing of it.

In 359 the emperor Constantius assembled the great councils of Rimini
and of Seleucia, consisting of six hundred bishops, with a prodigious
number of priests. These two councils, corresponding together, undo all
that the Council of Nice did, and proscribe the consubstantiality. But
this was afterwards regarded as a false council.

In 381 was held, by order of the emperor Theodosius, a great council at
Constantinople, of one hundred and fifty bishops, who anathematize the
Council of Rimini. St. Gregory Nazianzen presides, and the bishop of
Rome sends deputies to it. Now is added to the Nicene symbol: "Jesus
Christ was incarnate, by the Holy Ghost, of the Virgin Mary. He was
crucified for us under Pontius Pilate. He was buried, and on the third
day he rose again, according to the Scriptures. He sits at the right
hand of the Father. We also believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and
giver of life, who proceeds from the Father."

In 431 a great council was convoked at Ephesus, by the emperor
Theodosius II. Nestorius, bishop of Constantinople, having violently
persecuted all who were not of his opinion on theological points,
undergoes persecution in his turn, for having maintained that the Holy
Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus Christ, was not mother of God; because
said he, Jesus Christ being the word, the Son of God, consubstantial
with His Father, Mary could not, at the same time, be mother of God the
Father and of God the Son. St. Cyril exclaims loudly against him.
Nestorius demands an ecumenical council, and obtains it. Nestorius is
condemned; but Cyril is also displaced by a committee of the council.
The emperor reverses all that has been done in this council, then
permits it to re-assemble. The deputies from Rome arrive very late. The
troubles increasing, the emperor has Nestorius and Cyril arrested. At
last he orders all the bishops to return, each to his church, and after
all no conclusion is reached. Such was the famous Council of Ephesus.

In 449 another great council, afterward called "the banditti," met at
Ephesus. The number of bishops assembled is a hundred and thirty; and
Dioscorus, bishop of Alexandria, presided. There are two deputies from
the church of Rome, and several abbots. The question is, whether Jesus
Christ has two natures. The bishops and all the monks of Egypt exclaim
that "all who would divide Jesus Christ ought themselves to be torn in
two." The two natures are anathematized; and there is a fight in full
council, as at the little Council of Cirta in 355, and at the minor
Council of Carthage.

In 452, the great Council of Chalcedon was convoked by Pulcheria, who
married Marcian on condition that he should be only the highest of her
subjects. St. Leo, bishop of Rome, having great influence, takes
advantage of the troubles which the quarrel about the two natures has
occasioned in the empire, and presides at the council by his legates--of
which we have no former example. But the fathers of the council,
apprehending that the church of the West will, from this precedent,
pretend to the superiority over that of the East, decide by their
twenty-eighth canon, that the see of Constantinople, and that of Rome,
shall enjoy alike the same advantages and the same privileges. This was
the origin of the long enmity which prevailed, and still prevails,
between the two churches. This Council of Chalcedon established the two
natures in one only person.

Nicephorus relates that, at this same council, the bishops, after a long
dispute on the subject of images, laid each his opinion in writing on
the tomb of St. Euphemia, and passed the night in prayer. The next
morning the orthodox writings were found in the saint's hand, and the
others at her feet.

In 553, a great council at Constantinople was convoked by Justinian, who
was an amateur theologian, to discuss three small writings, called _the
three chapters_, of which nothing is now known. There were also disputes
on some passages of Origen.

Vigilius, bishop of Rome, would have gone thither in person; but
Justinian had him put in prison, and the Patriarch of Constantinople
presided. No member of the Latin church attended; for at that time Greek
was no longer understood in the West, which had become entirely

In 680, another general council at Constantinople was convoked by
Constantine the bearded. This was the first council called by the Latins
_in trullo_, because it was held in an apartment of the imperial palace.
The emperor, himself, presided; on his right hand were the patriarchs of
Constantinople and Antioch; on his left, the deputies from Rome and
Jerusalem. It was there decided that Jesus Christ had two wills; and
Pope Honorius I., was condemned as a Monothelite, i.e., as wishing Jesus
Christ to have but one will.

In 787, the second Council of Nice was convoked by Irene, in the name of
the emperor Constantine, her son, whom she had deprived of his eyes. Her
husband, Leo, had abolished the worship of images, as contrary to the
simplicity of the primitive ages, and leading to idolatry. Irene
re-established this worship; she herself spoke in the council, which was
the only one held by a woman. Two legates from Pope Adrian V., attended,
but did not speak, for they did not understand Greek: the patriarch did

Seven years after, the Franks, having heard that a council at
Constantinople had ordained the adoration of images, assemble, by order
of Charles, son of Pepin, afterwards named Charlemagne, a very numerous
council at Frankfort. Here the second Council of Nice is spoken of as
"an impertinent and arrogant synod, held in Greece for the worshipping
of pictures."

In 842, a great council at Constantinople was convoked by the empress
Theodora. The worship of images was solemnly established. The Greeks
have still a feast in honor of this council, called the _orthodoxia_.
Theodora did not preside. In 861, a great council at Constantinople,
consisting of three hundred and eighteen bishops, was convoked by the
emperor Michael. St. Ignatius, patriarch of Constantinople, is deposed,
and Photius elected.

In 866, another great council was held at Constantinople, in which Pope
Nicholas III. is deposed for contumacy, and excommunicated. In 869 was
another great council at Constantinople, in which Photius, in turn, is
deposed and excommunicated, and St. Ignatius restored.

In 879, another great council assembled at Constantinople, in which
Photius, already restored, is acknowledged as true patriarch by the
legates of Pope John VIII. Here the great ecumenical council, in which
Photius was deposed, receives the appellation of "_conciliabulum_." Pope
John VIII. declares all those to be Judases who say that the Holy Ghost
proceeds from the Father and the Son.

In 1122-3, a great council at Rome was held in the church of St. John of
Lateran by Pope Calixtus II. This was the first general council convoked
by the popes. The emperors of the West had now scarcely any authority;
and the emperors of the East pressed by the Mahometans and by the
Crusaders, held none but wretched little councils.

It is not precisely known what this Lateran was. Some small councils had
before been assembled in the Lateran. Some say that it was a house built
by one Lateran in Nero's time; others, that it was St. John's church
itself, built by Bishop Sylvester. In this council, the bishops
complained heavily of the monks. "They possess," said they, "the
churches, the lands, the castles, the tithes, the offerings of the
living and the dead; they have only to take from us the ring and the
crosier." The monks remained in possession.

In 1139 was another great Council of Lateran, by Pope Innocent II. It is
said there were present a thousand bishops. A great many, certainly.
Here the ecclesiastical tithes are declared to be of _divine right_, and
all laymen possessing any of them are excommunicated. In 1179 was
another great Council of Lateran, by Pope Alexander III. There were
three hundred bishops and one Greek abbot. The decrees are all on
discipline. The plurality of benefices is forbidden.

In 1215 was the last general Council of Lateran, by Pope Innocent III.,
composed of four hundred and twelve bishops, and eight hundred abbots.
At this time, which is that of the Crusades, the popes have established
a Latin patriarch at Jerusalem, and one at Constantinople. These
patriarchs attend the council. This great council says that, "God having
given the doctrine of salvation to men by Moses, at length caused His
son to be born of a virgin, to show the way more clearly," and that "no
one can be saved out of the Catholic church."

The _transubstantiation_ was not known until after this council. It
forbade the establishment of new religious orders; but, since that time,
no less than eighty have been instituted. It was in this council that
Raymond, count of Toulouse, was stripped of all his lands. In 1245 a
great council assembled at the imperial city of Lyons. Innocent IV.
brings thither the emperor of Constantinople, John Palæologus, and makes
him sit beside him. He deposes the emperor Frederick as a _felon_, and
gives the cardinals red hats, as a sign of hostility to Frederick. This
was the source of thirty years of civil war.

In 1274 another general council was held at Lyons. Five hundred bishops,
seventy great and a thousand lesser abbots. The Greek emperor, Michael
Palæologus, that he may have the protection of the pope, sends his Greek
patriarch, Theophanes, to unite, in his name, with the Latin church. But
the Greek church disowns these bishops.

In 1311, Pope Clement V. assembled a general council in the small town
of Vienne, in Dauphiny, in which he abolishes the Order of the Templars.
It is here ordained that the Bégares, Beguins, and Béguines shall be
burned. These were a species of heretics, to whom was imputed all that
had formerly been imputed to the primitive Christians. In 1414, the
great Council of Constance was convoked by an emperor who resumes his
rights, viz.: by Sigismund. Here Pope John XXIII., convicted of numerous
crimes, is deposed; and John Huss and Jerome of Prague, convicted of
obstinacy, are burned. In 1431, a great council was held at Basel, where
they in vain depose Pope Eugene IV., who is too clever for the council.

In 1438, a great council assembled at Ferrara, transferred to Florence,
where the excommunicated pope excommunicates the council, and declares
it guilty of high treason. Here a feigned union is made with the Greek
church, crushed by the Turkish synods held sword in hand. Pope Julius
II. would have had his Council of Lateran, in 1512, pass for an
ecumenical council. In it that pope solemnly excommunicated Louis XII.,
king of France, laid France under an interdict, summoned the whole
parliament of Provence to appear before him, and excommunicated all the
philosophers, because most of them had taken part with Louis XII. Yet
this council was not, like that of Ephesus, called the Council of

In 1537, the Council of Trent was convoked, first at Mantua, by Paul
III., afterwards at Trent in 1543, and terminated in December, 1561,
under Pius VI. Catholic princes submitted to it on points of doctrine,
and two or three of them in matters of discipline. It is thought that
henceforward there will be no more general councils than there will be
states-general in France or Spain. In the Vatican there is a fine
picture, containing a list of the general councils, in which are
inscribed such only as are approved by the court of Rome. Every one puts
what he chooses in his own archives.


_Infallibility of Councils._

All councils are, doubtless, infallible, being composed of men. It is
not possible that the passions, that intrigues, that the spirit of
contention, that hatred or jealousy, that prejudice or ignorance, should
ever influence these assemblies. But why, it will be said, have so many
councils been opposed to one another? To exercise our faith. They were
all right, each in its time. At this day, the Roman Catholics believe in
such councils only as are approved in the Vatican; the Greek Catholics
believe only in those approved at Constantinople; and the Protestants
make a jest of both the one and the other: so that every one ought to be

We shall here examine only the great councils: the lesser ones are not
worth the trouble. The first was that of Nice, assembled in the year 325
of the modern era, after Constantine had written and sent by Osius his
noble letter to the rather turbulent clergy of Alexandria. It was
debated whether Jesus was created or uncreated. This in no way concerned
morality, which is the only thing essential. Whether Jesus was in time
or before time, it is not the less our duty to be honest. After much
altercation, it was at last decided that the Son was as old as the
Father, and _consubstantial_ with the Father. This decision is not very
easy of comprehension, which makes it but the more sublime. Seventeen
bishops protested against the decree; and an old Alexandrian chronicle,
preserved at Oxford, says that two thousand priests likewise protested.
But prelates make not much account of mere priests, who are in general
poor. However, there was nothing said of the Trinity in this first
council. The formula runs thus: "We believe Jesus to be consubstantial
with the Father, God of God, light of light, begotten, not made; we also
believe in the Holy Ghost." It must be acknowledged that the Holy Ghost
was treated very cavalierly.

We have already said, that in the supplement to the Council of Nice it
is related that the fathers, being much perplexed to find out which were
the authentic and which the apocryphal books of the Old and the New
Testament, laid them all upon an altar, and the books which they were to
reject fell to the ground. What a pity that so fine an ordeal has been

After the first Council of Nice, composed of three hundred and seventeen
infallible bishops, another council was held at Rimini; on which
occasion the number of the infallible was four hundred, without
reckoning a strong detachment, at Seleucia, of about two hundred. These
six hundred bishops, after four months of contention, unanimously took
from Jesus his _consubstantiality_. It has since been restored to him,
except by the Socinians: so nothing is amiss.

One of the great councils was that of Ephesus, in 431. There, as already
stated, Nestorius, bishop of Constantinople, a great persecutor of
heretics, was himself condemned as a heretic, for having maintained
that, although Jesus was really God, yet His mother was not absolutely
mother of God, but mother of Jesus. St. Cyril procured the condemnation
of Nestorius; but the partisans of Nestorius also procured the
deposition of St. Cyril, in the same council; which put the Holy Ghost
in considerable perplexity.

Here, gentle reader, carefully observe, that the Gospel says not one
syllable of the consubstantiality of the Word, nor of Mary's having had
the honor of being mother of God, no more than of the other disputed
points which brought together so many infallible councils.

Eutyches was a monk, who had cried out sturdily against Nestorius, whose
heresy was nothing less than supposing two persons in Jesus; which is
quite frightful. The monk, the better to contradict his adversary,
affirmed that Jesus had but one nature. One Flavian, bishop of
Constantinople, maintained against him, that there must absolutely be
two natures in Jesus. Thereupon, a numerous council was held at Ephesus
in 449, and the argument made use of was the cudgel, as in the lesser
council of Cirta, in 355, and in a certain conference held at Carthage.
Flavian's nature was well thrashed, and two natures were assigned to
Jesus. At the Council of Chalcedon, in 451, Jesus was again reduced to
one nature.

I pass by councils held on less weighty questions, and come to the sixth
general Council of Constantinople, assembled to ascertain precisely
whether Jesus--who, after having for a long period had but one nature,
was then possessed of two--had also two wills. It is obvious how
important this knowledge is to doing the will of God.

This council was convoked by Constantine the Bearded, as all the others
had been by the preceding emperors. The legates from the bishop of Rome
were on the left hand, and the patriarchs of Constantinople and Antioch
on the right. The train-bearers at Rome may, for aught I know, assert
that the left hand is the place of honor. However, the result was that
Jesus obtained two wills.

The Mosaic law forbade images. Painters and sculptors had never made
their fortunes among the Jews. We do not find that Jesus ever had any
pictures, excepting perhaps that of Mary, painted by Luke. It is,
however, certain that Jesus Christ nowhere recommends the worship of
images. Nevertheless the primitive Christians began to worship them
about the end of the fourth century, when they had become familiar with
the fine arts. In the eighth century this abuse had arrived at such a
pitch that Constantine Copronymus assembled, at Constantinople, a
council of three hundred and twenty bishops, who anathematized
image-worship, and declared it to be idolatry.

The empress Irene, the same who afterwards had her son's eyes torn out,
convoked the second Council of Nice in 787, when the adoration of images
was re-established. But in 794 Charlemagne had another council held at
Frankfort, which declared the second of Nice idolatrous. Pope Adrian IV.
sent two legates to it, but he did not convoke it.

The first great council convoked by a pope was the first of Lateran, in
1139; there were about a thousand bishops assembled; but scarcely
anything was done, except that all those were anathematized who said
that the Church was too rich. In 1179, another great council of Lateran
was held by Alexander III., in which the cardinals, for the first time,
took precedence of the bishops. The discussions were confined to matters
of discipline. In another great council of Lateran, in 1215, Pope
Innocent III. stripped the count of Toulouse of all his possessions, by
virtue of his excommunication. It was then that the first mention was
made of _transubstantiation_.

In 1245, was held a general council at Lyons, then an imperial city, in
which Pope Innocent IV. excommunicated the emperor Frederick II., and
consequently deposed him, and forbade him the use of fire and water. On
this occasion, a red hat was given to the cardinals, to remind them that
they must imbrue their hands in the blood of the emperor's partisans.
This council was the cause of the destruction of the house of Suabia,
and of thirty years of anarchy in Italy and Germany.

In a general council held at Vienne, in Dauphiny, in 1311, the Order of
the Templars was abolished: its principal members having been condemned
to the most horrible deaths, on charges most imperfectly established.
The great Council of Constance, in 1414, contented itself with
dismissing Pope John XXIII., convicted of a thousand crimes, but had
John Huss and Jerome of Prague burned for being obstinate; obstinacy
being a much more grievous crime than either murder, rape, simony, or
sodomy. In 1430 was held the great council of Basel, not recognized at
Rome because it deposed Pope Eugenius IV., who would not be deposed. The
Romans reckon among the general councils the fifth Council of Lateran,
convoked against Louis XII., king of France, by Pope Julius II.; but
that warlike pope dying, the council had no result.

Lastly, we have the great Council of Trent, which is not received in
France in matters of discipline; but its doctrine is indisputable,
since, as Fra Paolo Sarpi tells us, the Holy Ghost arrived at Trent from
Rome every week in the courier's bag. But Fra Paolo Sarpi was a little
tainted with heresy.

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