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Title: A Philosophical Dictionary, Volume 4
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 4" ***

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








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





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






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

                                                    _VICTOR HUGO._






[Illustration: Voltaire's arrest at Frankfort.]

       *       *       *       *       *






       *       *       *       *       *



According to our custom, we confine ourselves on this subject to the
statement of a few queries which we cannot resolve. Has a Jew a country?
If he is born at Coimbra, it is in the midst of a crowd of ignorant and
absurd persons, who will dispute with him, and to whom he makes foolish
answers, if he dare reply at all. He is surrounded by inquisitors, who
would burn him if they knew that he declined to eat bacon, and all his
wealth would belong to them. Is Coimbra _his_ country? Can he exclaim,
like the Horatii in Corneille:

     _Mourir pour la patrie est un si digne sort_
     _Qu'on briguerait en foule, une si belle mort._

     So high his meed who for his country dies,
     Men should contend to gain the glorious prize.

He might as well exclaim, "fiddlestick!" Again! is Jerusalem his
country? He has probably heard of his ancestors of old; that they had
formerly inhabited a sterile and stony country, which is bordered by a
horrible desert, of which little country the Turks are at present
masters, but derive little or nothing from it. Jerusalem is, therefore,
not his country. In short, he has no country: there is not a square
foot of land on the globe which belongs to him.

The Gueber, more ancient, and a hundred times more respectable than the
Jew, a slave of the Turks, the Persians, or the Great Mogul, can he
regard as his country the fire-altars which he raises in secret among
the mountains? The Banian, the Armenian, who pass their lives in
wandering through all the east, in the capacity of money-brokers, can
they exclaim, "My dear country, my dear country"--who have no other
country than their purses and their account-books?

Among the nations of Europe, all those cut-throats who let out their
services to hire, and sell their blood to the first king who will
purchase it--have they a country? Not so much so as a bird of prey, who
returns every evening to the hollow of the rock where its mother built
its nest! The monks--will they venture to say that they have a country?
It is in heaven, they say. All in good time; but in this world I know
nothing about one.

This expression, "my country," how sounds it from the mouth of a Greek,
who, altogether ignorant of the previous existence of a Miltiades, an
Agesilaus, only knows that he is the slave of a janissary, who is the
slave of an aga, who is the slave of a pasha, who is the slave of a
vizier, who is the slave of an individual whom we call, in Paris, the
Grand Turk?

What, then, is country?--Is it not, probably, a good piece of ground,
in the midst of which the owner, residing in a well-built and commodious
house, may say: "This field which I cultivate, this house which I have
built, is my own; I live under the protection of laws which no tyrant
can infringe. When those who, like me, possess fields and houses
assemble for their common interests, I have a voice in such assembly. I
am a part of the whole, one of the community, a portion of the
sovereignty: behold my country!" What cannot be included in this
description too often amounts to little beyond studs of horses under the
command of a groom, who employs the whip at his pleasure. People may
have a country under a good king, but never under a bad one.


A young pastry-cook who had been to college, and who had mustered some
phrases from Cicero, gave himself airs one day about loving his country.
"What dost thou mean by country?" said a neighbor to him. "Is it thy
oven? Is it the village where thou wast born, which thou hast never
seen, and to which thou wilt never return? Is it the street in which thy
father and mother reside? Is it the town hall, where thou wilt never
become so much as a clerk or an alderman? Is it the church of Notre
Dame, in which thou hast not been able to obtain a place among the boys
of the choir, although a very silly person, who is archbishop and duke,
obtains from it an annual income of twenty-four thousand louis d'or?"

The young pastry-cook knew not how to reply; and a person of reflection,
who overheard the conversation, was led to infer that a country of
moderate extent may contain many millions of men who have no country at
all. And thou, voluptuous Parisian, who hast never made a longer voyage
than to Dieppe, to feed upon fresh sea-fish--who art acquainted only
with thy splendid town-house, thy pretty villa in the country, thy box
at that opera which all the world makes it a point to feel tiresome but
thyself--who speakest thy own language agreeably enough, because thou
art ignorant of every other; thou lovest all this, no doubt, as well as
thy brilliant champagne from Rheims, and thy rents, payable every six
months; and loving these, thou dwellest upon thy love for thy country.

Speaking conscientiously, can a financier cordially love his country?
Where was the country of the duke of Guise, surnamed Balafré--at Nancy,
at Paris, at Madrid, or at Rome? What country had your cardinals Balue,
Duprat, Lorraine, and Mazarin? Where was the country of Attila situated,
or that of a hundred other heroes of the same kind, who, although
eternally travelling, make themselves always at home? I should be much
obliged to any one who would acquaint me with the country of Abraham.

The first who observed that every land is our country in which we "do
well," was, I believe, Euripides, in his "_Phædo_":

     "_Ως παντακῶς γε πατρὶς βοσκοῦσα γῆ_."

The first man, however, who left the place of his birth to seek a
greater share of welfare in another, said it before him.


A country is a composition of many families; and as a family is commonly
supported on the principle of self-love, when, by an opposing interest,
the same self-love extends to our town, our province, or our nation, it
is called love of country. The greater a country becomes, the less we
love it; for love is weakened by diffusion. It is impossible to love a
family so numerous that all the members can scarcely be known.

He who is burning with ambition to be edile, tribune, prætor, consul, or
dictator, exclaims that he loves his country, while he loves only
himself. Every man wishes to possess the power of sleeping quietly at
home, and of preventing any other man from possessing the power of
sending him to sleep elsewhere. Every one would be certain of his
property and his life. Thus, all forming the same wishes, the particular
becomes the general interest. The welfare of the republic is spoken of,
while all that is signified is love of self.

It is impossible that a state was ever formed on earth, which was not
governed in the first instance as a republic: it is the natural march
of human nature. On the discovery of America, all the people were found
divided into republics; there were but two kingdoms in all that part of
the world. Of a thousand nations, but two were found subjugated.

It was the same in the ancient world; all was republican in Europe
before the little kinglings of Etruria and of Rome. There are yet
republics in Africa: the Hottentots, towards the south, still live as
people are said to have lived in the first ages of the world--free,
equal, without masters, without subjects, without money, and almost
without wants. The flesh of their sheep feeds them; they are clothed
with their skins; huts of wood and clay form their habitations. They are
the most dirty of all men, but they feel it not, but live and die more
easily than we do. There remain eight republics in Europe without
monarchs--Venice, Holland, Switzerland, Genoa, Lucca, Ragusa, Geneva,
and San Marino. Poland, Sweden, and England may be regarded as republics
under a king, but Poland is the only one of them which takes the name.

But which of the two is to be preferred for a country--a monarchy or a
republic? The question has been agitated for four thousand years. Ask
the rich, and they will tell you an aristocracy; ask the people, and
they will reply a democracy; kings alone prefer royalty. Why, then, is
almost all the earth governed by monarchs? Put that question to the rats
who proposed to hang a bell around the cat's neck. In truth, the
genuine reason is, because men are rarely worthy of governing

It is lamentable, that to be a good patriot we must become the enemy of
the rest of mankind. That good citizen, the ancient Cato, always gave it
as his opinion, that Carthage must be destroyed: "_Delenda est
Carthago_." To be a good patriot is to wish our own country enriched by
commerce, and powerful by arms; but such is the condition of mankind,
that to wish the greatness of our own country is often to wish evil to
our neighbors. He who could bring himself to wish that his country
should always remain as it is, would be a citizen of the universe.


_Of Time and Place._

A Roman in Egypt very unfortunately killed a consecrated cat, and the
infuriated people punished this sacrilege by tearing him to pieces. If
this Roman had been carried before the tribunal, and the judges had
possessed common sense, he would have been condemned to ask pardon of
the Egyptians and the cats, and to pay a heavy fine, either in money or
mice. They would have told him that he ought to respect the follies of
the people, since he was not strong enough to correct them.

The venerable chief justice should have spoken to him in this manner:
"Every country has its legal impertinences, and its offences of time
and place. If in your Rome, which has become the sovereign of Europe,
Africa, and Asia Minor, you were to kill a sacred fowl, at the precise
time that you give it grain in order to ascertain the just will of the
gods, you would be severely punished. We believe that you have only
killed our cat accidentally. The court admonishes you. Go in peace, and
be more circumspect in future."

It seems a very indifferent thing to have a statue in our hall; but if,
when Octavius, surnamed Augustus, was absolute master, a Roman had
placed in his house the statue of Brutus, he would have been punished as
seditious. If a citizen, under a reigning emperor, had the statue of the
competitor to the empire, it is said that it was accounted a crime of
high treason.

An Englishman, having nothing to do, went to Rome, where he met Prince
Charles Edward at the house of a cardinal. Pleased at the incident, on
his return he drank in a tavern to the health of Prince Charles Edward,
and was immediately accused of high treason. But whom did he highly
betray in wishing the prince well? If he had conspired to place him on
the throne, then he would have been guilty towards the nation; but I do
not see that the most rigid justice of parliament could require more
from him than to drink four cups to the health of the house of Hanover,
supposing he had drunk two to the house of Stuart.

_Of Crimes of Time and Place, which Ought to Be Concealed._

It is well known how much our Lady of Loretto ought to be respected in
the March of Ancona. Three young people happened to be joking on the
house of our lady, which has travelled through the air to Dalmatia;
which has two or three times changed its situation, and has only found
itself comfortable at Loretto. Our three scatterbrains sang a song at
supper, formerly made by a Huguenot, in ridicule of the translation of
the _santa casa_ of Jerusalem to the end of the Adriatic Gulf. A
fanatic, having heard by chance what passed at their supper, made strict
inquiries, sought witnesses, and engaged a magistrate to issue a
summons. This proceeding alarmed all consciences. Every one trembled in
speaking of it. Chambermaids, vergers, inn-keepers, lackeys, servants,
all heard what was never said, and saw what was never done: there was an
uproar, a horrible scandal throughout the whole March of Ancona. It was
said, half a league from Loretto, that these youths had killed our lady;
and a league farther, that they had thrown the _santa casa_ into the
sea. In short, they were condemned. The sentence was, that their hands
should be cut off, and their tongues be torn out; after which they were
to be put to the torture, to learn--at least by signs--how many
couplets there were in the song. Finally, they were to be burnt to death
by a slow fire.

An advocate of Milan, who happened to be at Loretto at this time, asked
the principal judge to what he would have condemned these boys if they
had violated their mother, and afterwards killed and eaten her? "Oh!"
replied the judge, "there is a great deal of difference; to assassinate
and devour their father and mother is only a crime against men." "Have
you an express law," said the Milanese, "which obliges you to put young
people scarcely out of their nurseries to such a horrible death, for
having indiscreetly made game of the _santa casa,_ which is
contemptuously laughed at all over the world, except in the March of
Ancona?" "No," said the judge, "the wisdom of our jurisprudence leaves
all to our discretion." "Very well, you ought to have discretion enough
to remember that one of these children is the grandson of a general who
has shed his blood for his country, and the nephew of an amiable and
respectable abbess; the youth and his companions are giddy boys, who
deserve paternal correction. You tear citizens from the state, who might
one day serve it; you imbrue yourself in innocent blood, and are more
cruel than cannibals. You will render yourselves execrable to posterity.
What motive has been powerful enough, thus to extinguish reason,
justice, and humanity in your minds, and to change you into ferocious
beasts?" The unhappy judge at last replied: "We have been quarrelling
with the clergy of Ancona; they accuse us of being too zealous for the
liberties of the Lombard Church, and consequently of having no
religion." "I understand, then," said the Milanese, "that you have made
yourselves assassins to appear Christians." At these words the judge
fell to the ground, as if struck by a thunderbolt; and his brother
judges having been since deprived of office, they cry out that injustice
is done them. They forget what they have done, and perceive not that the
hand of God is upon them.

For seven persons legally to amuse themselves by making an eighth perish
on a public scaffold by blows from iron bars; take a secret and
malignant pleasure in witnessing his torments; speak of it afterwards at
table with their wives and neighbors; for the executioners to perform
this office gaily, and joyously anticipate their reward; for the public
to run to this spectacle as to a fair--all this requires that a crime
merit this horrid punishment in the opinion of all well-governed
nations, and, as we here treat of universal humanity, that it is
necessary to the well-being of society. Above all, the actual
perpetration should be demonstrated beyond contradiction. If against a
hundred thousand probabilities that the accused be guilty there is a
single one that he is innocent, that alone should balance all the rest.

_Query: Are Two Witnesses Enough to Condemn a Man to be Hanged?_

It has been for a long time imagined, and the proverb assures us, that
two witnesses are enough to hang a man, with a safe conscience. Another
ambiguity! The world, then, is to be governed by equivoques. It is said
in St. Matthew that two or three witnesses will suffice to reconcile two
divided friends; and after this text has criminal jurisprudence been
regulated, so far as to decree that by divine law a citizen may be
condemned to die on the uniform deposition of two witnesses who may be
villains? It has been already said that a crowd of according witnesses
cannot prove an improbable thing when denied by the accused. What, then,
must be done in such a case? Put off the judgment for a hundred years,
like the Athenians!

We shall here relate a striking example of what passed under our eyes at
Lyons. A woman suddenly missed her daughter; she ran everywhere in
search of her in vain, and at length suspected a neighbor of having
secreted the girl, and of having caused her violation. Some weeks after
some fishermen found a female drowned, and in a state of putrefaction,
in the Rhône at Condmeux. The woman of whom we have spoken immediately
believed that it was her daughter. She was persuaded by the enemies of
her neighbor that the latter had caused the deceased to be dishonored,
strangled, and thrown into the Rhône. She made this accusation publicly,
and the populace repeated it; persons were found who knew the minutest
circumstances of the crime. The rumor ran through all the town, and all
mouths cried out for vengeance. There is nothing more common than this
in a populace without judgment; but here follows the most prodigious
part of the affair. This neighbor's own son, a child of five years and a
half old, accused his mother of having caused the unhappy girl who was
found in the Rhône to be violated before his eyes, and to be held by
five men, while the sixth committed the crime. He had heard the words
which pronounced her violated; he painted her attitudes; he saw his
mother and these villains strangle this unfortunate girl after the
consummation of the act. He also saw his mother and the assassins throw
her into a well, draw her out of it, wrap her up in a cloth, carry her
about in triumph, dance round the corpse, and, at last, throw her into
the Rhône. The judges were obliged to put all the pretended accomplices
deposed against in chains. The child is again heard, and still
maintains, with the simplicity of his age, all that he had said of them
and of his mother. How could it be imagined that this child had not
spoken the pure truth? The crime was not probable, but it was still less
so that a child of the age of five years and a half should thus
calumniate his mother, and repeat with exactness all the circumstances
of an abominable and unheard-of crime; if he had not been the
eye-witness of it, and been overcome with the force of the truth, such
things would not have been wrung from him.

Every one expected to feast his eyes on the torment of the accused; but
what was the end of this strange criminal process? There was not a word
of truth in the accusation. There was no girl violated, no young men
assembled at the house of the accused, no murder, not the least
transaction of the sort, nor the least noise. The child had been
suborned; and by whom? Strange, but true, by two other children, who
were the sons of the accused. He had been on the point of burning his
mother to get some sweetmeats.

The heads of the accusation were clearly incompatible. The sage and
enlightened court of judicature, after having yielded to the public fury
so far as to seek every possible testimony for and against the accused,
fully and unanimously acquitted them. Formerly, perhaps, this innocent
prisoner would have been broken on the wheel, or judicially burned, for
the pleasure of supplying an execution--the tragedy of the mob.


_Criminal Prosecution._

Very innocent actions have been frequently punished with death. Thus in
England, Richard III., and Edward IV., effected by the judges the
condemnation of those whom they suspected of disaffection. Such are not
criminal processes; they are assassinations committed by privileged
murderers. It is the last degree of abuse to make the laws the
instruments of injustice.

It is said that the Athenians punished with death every stranger who
entered their areopagus or sovereign tribunal. But if this stranger was
actuated by mere curiosity, nothing was more cruel than to take away his
life. It is observed, in "The Spirit of Laws," that this vigor was
exercised, "because he usurped the rights of a citizen."

But a Frenchman in London who goes to the House of Commons to hear the
debates, does not aspire to the rights of a citizen. He is received with
politeness. If any splenetic member calls for the clearing of the house,
the traveller clears it by withdrawing; he is not hanged. It is probable
that, if the Athenians passed this temporary law, it was at a time when
it was suspected that every stranger might be a spy, and not from the
fear that he would arrogate to himself the rights of citizenship. Every
Athenian voted in his tribe; all the individuals in the tribe knew each
other; no stranger could have put in his bean.

We speak here only of a real criminal prosecution, and among the Romans
every criminal prosecution was public. The citizen accused of the most
enormous crimes had an advocate who pleaded in his presence; who even
interrogated the adverse party; who investigated everything before his
judges. All the witnesses, for and against, were produced in open court;
nothing was secret. Cicero pleaded for Milo, who had assassinated
Clodius, in the presence of a thousand citizens. The same Cicero
undertook the defence of Roscius Amerinus, accused of parricide. A
single judge did not in secret examine witnesses, generally consisting
of the dregs of the people, who may be influenced at pleasure.

A Roman citizen was not put to the torture at the arbitrary order of
another Roman citizen, invested with this cruel authority by purchase.
That horrible outrage against humanity was not perpetrated on the
persons of those who were regarded as the first of men, but only on
those of their slaves, scarcely regarded as men. It would have been
better not to have employed torture, even against slaves.

The method of conducting a criminal prosecution at Rome accorded with
the magnanimity and liberality of the nation. It is nearly the same in
London. The assistance of an advocate is never in any case refused.
Every one is judged by his peers. Every citizen has the power, out of
thirty-six jurymen sworn, to challenge twelve without reasons, twelve
with reasons, and, consequently, of choosing his judges in the remaining
twelve. The judges cannot deviate from or go beyond the law. No
punishment is arbitrary. No judgment can be executed before it has been
reported to the king, who may, and who ought to bestow pardon on those
who are deserving of it, and to whom the law cannot extend it. This case
frequently occurs. A man outrageously wronged kills the offender under
the impulse of venial passion; he is condemned by the rigor of the law,
and saved by that mercy which ought to be the prerogative of the

It deserves particular remark that in the same country where the laws
are as favorable to the accused as they are terrible for the guilty, not
only is false imprisonment in ordinary cases punished by heavy damages
and severe penalties, but if an illegal imprisonment has been ordered by
a minister of state, under color of royal authority, that minister may
be condemned to pay damages corresponding to the imprisonment.

_Proceedings in Criminal Cases Among Particular Nations._

There are countries in which criminal jurisprudence has been founded on
the canon law, and even on the practice of the Inquisition, although
that tribunal has long since been held in detestation there. The people
in such countries still remain in a species of slavery. A citizen
prosecuted by the king's officer is at once immured in a dungeon, which
is in itself a real punishment of perhaps an innocent man. A single
judge, with his clerk, hears secretly and in succession, every witness

Let us here merely compare, in a few points, the criminal procedure of
the Romans with that of a country of the west, which was once a Roman
province. Among the Romans, witnesses were heard publicly in the
presence of the accused, who might reply to them, and examine them
himself, or through an advocate. This practice was noble and frank; it
breathed of Roman magnanimity. In France, in many parts of Germany,
everything is done in secret. This practice, established under Francis
I., was authorized by the commissioners, who, in 1670, drew up the
ordinance of Louis XIV. A mere mistake was the cause of it.

It was imagined, on reading the code "_De Testibus_" that the words,
_Testes intrare judicii secretum,_ signified that witnesses were
examined in secret. But _secretum_ here signifies the chambers of the
judge. _Intrare secretum_ to express speaking in secret, would not be
Latin. This part of our jurisprudence was occasioned by a solecism.
Witnesses were usually persons of the lowest class, and whom the judge,
when closeted with them, might induce to say whatever he wished. These
witnesses are examined a second time, always in secret, which is called,
re-examination; and if, after re-examination, they retract their
depositions, or vary them in essential circumstances, they are punished
as false witnesses. Thus, when an upright man of weak understanding, and
unused to express his ideas, is conscious that he has stated either too
much or too little--that he has misunderstood the judge, or that the
judge has misunderstood him--and revokes, in the spirit of justice, what
he has advanced through incaution, he is punished as a felon. He is in
this manner often compelled to persevere in false testimony, from the
actual dread of being treated as a false witness.

The person accused exposes himself by flight to condemnation, whether
the crime has been proved or not. Some jurisconsults, indeed, have
wisely held that the contumacious person ought not to be condemned
unless the crime were clearly established; but other lawyers have been
of a contrary opinion: they have boldly affirmed that the flight of the
accused was a proof of the crime; that the contempt which he showed for
justice, by refusing to appear, merited the same chastisement as would
have followed his conviction. Thus, according to the sect of lawyers
which the judge may have embraced, an innocent man may be acquitted or

It is a great abuse in jurisprudence that people often assume as law the
reveries and errors--sometimes cruel ones--of men destitute of all
authority, who have laid down their own opinions as laws. In the reign
of Louis XIV., two edicts were published in France, which apply equally
to the whole kingdom. In the first, which refers to civil causes, the
judges are forbidden to condemn in any suit, on default, when the demand
is not proved; but in the second, which regulates criminal proceedings,
it is not laid down that, in the absence of proof, the accused shall be
acquitted. Singular circumstance! The law declares that a man proceeded
against for a sum of money shall not be condemned, on default, unless
the debt be proved; but, in cases affecting life, the profession is
divided with respect to condemning a person for contumacy when the crime
is not proved; and the law does not solve the difficulty.

_Example Taken from the Condemnation of a Whole Family._

The following is an account of what happened to an unfortunate family,
at the time when the mad fraternities of pretended penitents, in white
robes and masks, had erected, in one of the principal churches of
Toulouse, a superb monument to a young Protestant, who had destroyed
himself, but who they pretended had been murdered by his father and
mother for having abjured the reformed religion; at the time when the
whole family of this Protestant, then revered as a martyr, were in
irons, and a whole population, intoxicated by a superstition equally
senseless and cruel, awaited with devout impatience the delight of
seeing five or six persons of unblemished integrity expire on the rack
or at the stake. At this dreadful period there resided near Castres a
respectable man, also of the Protestant religion, of the name of Sirven,
who exercised in that province the profession of a feudist. This man had
three daughters. A woman who superintended the household of the bishop
of Castres, proposed to bring to him Sirven's second daughter, called
Elizabeth, in order to make her a Catholic, apostolical and Roman. She
is, in fact, brought. She is by him secluded with the female Jesuits,
denominated the "lady teachers," or the "black ladies." They instruct
her in what they know; they find her capacity weak, and impose upon her
penances in order to inculcate doctrines which, with gentleness, she
might have been taught. She becomes imbecile; the "black ladies" expel
her; she returns to her parents; her mother, on making her change her
linen, perceives that her person is covered with contusions; her
imbecility increases; she becomes melancholy mad; she escapes one day
from the house, while her father is some miles distant, publicly
occupied in his business, at the seat of a neighboring nobleman. In
short, twenty days after the flight of Elizabeth, some children find her
drowned in a well, on January 4, 1761.

This was precisely the time when they were preparing to break Calas on
the wheel at Toulouse. The word "parricide," and what is worse,
"Huguenot," flies from mouth to mouth throughout the province. It was
not doubted that Sirven, his wife, and his two daughters, had drowned
the third, on a principle of religion.

It was the universal opinion that the Protestant religion positively
required fathers and mothers to destroy such of their children as might
wish to become Catholics. This opinion had taken such deep root in the
minds even of magistrates themselves, hurried on unfortunately by the
public clamor, that the Council and Church of Geneva were obliged to
contradict the fatal error, and to send to the parliament of Toulouse an
attestation upon oath that not only did Protestants not destroy their
children, but that they were left masters of their whole property when
they quitted their sect for another. It is known that, notwithstanding
this attestation, Calas was broken on the wheel.

A country magistrate of the name of Londes, assisted by graduates as
sagacious as himself, became eager to make every preparation for
following up the example which had been furnished at Toulouse. A village
doctor, equally enlightened with the magistrate, boldly affirmed, on
inspecting the body after the expiration of eighteen days, that the
young woman had been strangled, and afterwards thrown into the well. On
this deposition the magistrate issued a warrant to apprehend the father,
mother, and the two daughters. The family, justly terrified at the
catastrophe of Calas, and agreeably to the advice of their friends,
betook themselves instantly to flight; they travelled amidst snow during
a rigorous winter, and, toiling over mountain after mountain, at length
arrived at those of Switzerland. The daughter, who was married and
pregnant, was prematurely delivered amidst surrounding ice.

The first intelligence this family received, after reaching a place of
safety, was that the father and mother were condemned to be hanged; the
two daughters to remain under the gallows during the execution of their
mother, and to be reconducted by the executioner out of the territory,
under pain of being hanged if they returned. Such is the lesson given to

This judgment was equally absurd and abominable. If the father, in
concert with his wife, had strangled his daughter, he ought to have been
broken on the wheel, like Calas, and the mother to have been burned--at
least, after having been strangled--because the practice of breaking
women on the wheel is not yet the custom in the country of this judge.
To limit the punishment to hanging in such a case, was an acknowledgment
that the crime was not proved, and that in the doubt the halter was
adopted to compromise for want of evidence. This sentence was equally
repugnant to law and reason. The mother died of a broken heart, and the
whole family, their property having been confiscated, would have
perished through want, unless they had met with assistance.

We stop here to inquire whether there be any law and any reason that can
justify such a sentence? We ask the judge, "What madness has urged you
to condemn a father and a mother?" "It was because they fled," he
replies. "Miserable wretch, would you have had them remain to glut your
insensate fury? Of what consequence could it be, whether they appeared
in chains to plead before you, or whether in a distant land they lifted
up their hands in an appeal to heaven against you? Could you not see
the truth, which ought to have struck you, as well during their absence?
Could you not see that the father was a league distant from his
daughter, in the midst of twenty persons, when the unfortunate young
woman withdrew from her mother's protection? Could you be ignorant that
the whole family were in search of her for twenty days and nights?" To
this you answer by the words, contumacy, contumacy. What! because a man
is absent, therefore must he be condemned to be hanged, though his
innocence be manifest? It is the jurisprudence of a fool and a monster.
And the life, the property, and the honor of citizens, are to depend
upon this code of Iroquois!

The Sirven family for more than eight years dragged on their
misfortunes, far from their native country. At length, the sanguinary
superstition which disgraced Languedoc having been somewhat mitigated,
and men's minds becoming more enlightened, those who had befriended the
Sirvens during their exile, advised them to return and demand justice
from the parliament of Toulouse itself, now that the blood of Calas no
longer smoked, and many repented of having ever shed it. The Sirvens
were justified.

     _Erudimini, qui judicatis terram._
     Be instructed, ye judges of the earth.



Cromwell is described as a man who was an impostor all his life. I can
scarcely believe it. I conceive that he was first an enthusiast, and
that he afterwards made his fanaticism instrumental to his greatness. An
ardent novice at twenty often becomes an accomplished rogue at forty. In
the great game of human life, men begin with being dupes, and end in
becoming knaves. A statesman engages as his almoner a monk, entirely
made up of the details of his convent, devout, credulous, awkward,
perfectly new to the world; he acquires information, polish, finesse,
and supplants his master.

Cromwell knew not, at first, whether he should become a churchman or a
soldier. He partly became both. In 1622 he made a campaign in the army
of the prince of Orange, Frederick Henry, a great man and the brother of
two great men; and, on his return to England, engaged in the service of
Bishop Williams, and was the chaplain of his lordship, while the bishop
passed for his wife's gallant. His principles were puritanical, which
led him to cordially hate a bishop, and not to be partial to kingship.
He was dismissed from the family of Bishop Williams because he was a
Puritan; and thence the origin of his fortune. The English Parliament
declared against monarchy and against episcopacy; some friends whom he
had in that parliament procured him a country living. He might be said
only now to have commenced his existence; he was more than forty before
he acquired any distinction. He was master of the sacred Scriptures,
disputed on the authority of priests and deacons, wrote some bad
sermons, and some lampoons; but he was unknown. I have seen one of his
sermons, which is insipid enough, and pretty much resembles the holdings
forth of the Quakers; it is impossible to discover in it any trace of
that power by which he afterwards swayed parliaments. The truth is, he
was better fitted for the State than for the Church. It was principally
in his tone and in his air that his eloquence consisted. An inclination
of that hand which had gained so many battles, and killed so many
royalists, was more persuasive than the periods of Cicero. It must be
acknowledged that it was his incomparable valor that brought him into
notice, and which conducted him gradually to the summit of greatness.

He commenced by throwing himself, as a volunteer and a soldier of
fortune, into the town of Hull, besieged, by the king. He there
performed some brilliant and valuable services, for which he received a
gratuity of about six thousand francs from the parliament. The present,
bestowed by parliament upon an adventurer, made it clear that the rebel
party must prevail. The king could not give to his general officers what
the parliament gave to volunteers. With money and fanaticism,
everything must in the end be mastered. Cromwell was made colonel. His
great talents for war became then so conspicuous that, when the
parliament created the earl of Manchester general of its forces,
Cromwell was appointed lieutenant-general, without his having passed
through the intervening ranks. Never did any man appear more worthy of
command. Never was seen more activity and skill, more daring and more
resources, than in Cromwell. He is wounded at the battle of York, and,
while undergoing the first dressing, is informed that his commander, the
earl of Manchester, is retreating, and the battle lost. He hastens to
find the earl; discovers him flying, with some officers; catches him by
the arm, and, in a firm and dignified tone, he exclaims: "My lord, you
mistake; the enemy has not taken that road." He reconducts him to the
field of battle; rallies, during the night, more than twelve thousand
men; harangues them in the name of God; cites Moses, Gideon, and Joshua;
renews the battle at daybreak against the victorious royalist army, and
completely defeats it. Such a man must either perish or obtain the
mastery. Almost all the officers of his army were enthusiasts, who
carried the New Testament on their saddle-bows. In the army, as in the
parliament, nothing was spoken of but Babylon destroyed, building up the
worship of Jerusalem, and breaking the image. Cromwell, among so many
madmen, was no longer one himself, and thought it better to govern than
to be governed by them. The habit of preaching, as by inspiration,
remained with him. Figure to yourself a fakir, who, after putting an
iron girdle round his loins in penance, takes it off to drub the ears of
other fakirs. Such was Cromwell. He becomes as intriguing as he was
intrepid. He associates with all the colonels of the army, and thus
forms among the troops a republic which forces the commander to resign.
Another commander is appointed, and him he disgusts. He governs the
army, and through it he governs the parliament; which he at last compels
to make him commander. All this is much; but the essential point is that
he wins all the battles he fights in England, Scotland, and Ireland; and
wins them, not consulting his own security while the fight rages, but
always charging the enemy, rallying his troops, presenting himself
everywhere, frequently wounded, killing with his own hands many royalist
officers, like the fiercest soldier in the ranks.

[Illustration: Oliver Cromwell.]

In the midst of this dreadful war Cromwell made love; he went, with the
Bible under his arm, to an assignation with the wife of his
major-general, Lambert. She loved the earl of Holland, who served in the
king's army. Cromwell took him prisoner in battle, and had the pleasure
of bringing his rival to the block. It was his maxim to shed the blood
of every important enemy, in the field or by the hand of the
executioner. He always increased his power by always daring to abuse it;
the profoundness of his plans never lessened his ferocious impetuosity.
He went to the House of Commons, and drove all the members out, one
after another, making them defile before him. As they passed, each was
obliged to make a profound reverence; one of them was passing on with
his head covered; Cromwell seized his hat and threw it down. "Learn,"
said he, "to respect me."

When he had outraged all kings by beheading his own legitimate king, and
he began himself to reign, he sent his portrait to one crowned head,
Christina, queen of Sweden. Marvel, a celebrated English poet, who wrote
excellent Latin verses, accompanied his portrait with six lines, in
which he introduces Cromwell himself speaking; Cromwell corrected these
two last verses:

     _At tibi submittit frontem reverentior umbra,_
     _Non sunt hi vultus regibus usque truces._

The spirit of the whole six verses may be given thus:

     _Les armes à la main j'ai défendu les lois;_
     _D'un peuple audacieux j'ai vengé la querelle._
     _Regardez sans frémir cette image fidèle:_
     _Mon front n'est pas toujours l'épouvante des rois._

     'Twas mine by arms t'uphold my country's laws;
     My sword maintained a lofty people's cause;
     With less of fear these faithful outlines trace,
     Menace of kings not always clouds my face.

This queen was the first to acknowledge him after he became protector of
the three kingdoms. Almost all the sovereigns of Europe sent ambassadors
_to their brother Cromwell_--to that domestic of a bishop, who had just
brought to the scaffold a sovereign related to them. They emulously
courted his alliance. Cardinal Mazarin, in order to please him, banished
from France the two sons of Charles I., the two grandsons of Henry IV.,
and the two cousins-german of Louis XIV. France conquered Dunkirk for
him, and the keys of it were delivered into his possession. After his
death, Louis XIV. and his whole court went into mourning, except
mademoiselle, who dared to appear in the circle in colors, and alone to
maintain the honor of her race.

No king was ever more absolute than Cromwell. He would observe "that he
had preferred governing under the name of protector rather than under
that of king, because the English were aware of the limits of the
prerogative of a king of England, but knew not the extent of that of a
protector." This was knowing mankind, who are governed by opinion, and
whose opinion depends upon a name. He had conceived a profound contempt
for the religion to which he owed his success. An anecdote, preserved in
the St. John family, sufficiently proves the slight regard he attached
to that instrument which had produced such mighty effects in his hands.
He was drinking once in company with Ireton, Fleetwood, and St. John,
great grandfather of the celebrated Lord Bolingbroke; a bottle of wine
was to be uncorked, and the corkscrew fell under the table; they all
looked for it, and were unable to find it. In the meantime a deputation
from the Presbyterian churches awaited in the ante-chamber, and an usher
announced them. "Tell them," said Cromwell, "that I have retired, and
_that I am seeking the Lord_." This was the expression employed by the
fanatics for going to prayers. Having dismissed the troop of divines, he
thus addressed his companions: "Those fellows think we are seeking the
Lord, while we are only seeking a corkscrew."

There is scarcely any example in Europe of a man who, from so low a
beginning, raised himself to such eminence. But with all his great
talents, what did he consider absolutely essential to his happiness?
Power he obtained; but was he happy? He had lived in poverty and
disquiet till the age of forty-three; he afterwards plunged into blood,
passed his life in trouble, and died prematurely, at the age of
fifty-seven. With this life let any one compare that of a Newton, who
lived fourscore years, always tranquil, always honored, always the light
of all thinking beings; beholding every day an accession to his fame,
his character, his fortune; completely free both from care and remorse;
and let him decide whose was the happier lot.

     _O curas hominum! O quantim est in rebus inane!_
     O human cares! O mortal toil how vain!


Oliver Cromwell was regarded with admiration by the Puritans and
Independents of England; he is still their hero. But Richard Cromwell,
his son, is the man for me. The first was a fanatic who in the present
day would be hissed down in the House of Commons, on uttering any one of
the unintelligible absurdities which he delivered with such confidence
before other fanatics who listened to him with open mouth and staring
eyes, in the name of the Lord. If he were to say that they must seek the
Lord, and fight the battles of the Lord--if he were to introduce the
Jewish jargon into the parliament of England, to the eternal disgrace of
the human understanding, he would be much more likely to be conducted to
Bedlam than to be appointed the commander of armies.

Brave he unquestionably was--and so are wolves; there are even some
monkeys as fierce as tigers. From a fanatic he became an able
politician; in other words, from a wolf he became a fox, and the knave,
craftily mounting from the first steps where the mad enthusiasm of the
times had placed him, to the summit of greatness, walked over the heads
of the prostrated fanatics. He reigned, but he lived in the horrors of
alarm and had neither cheerful days nor tranquil nights. The
consolations of friendship and society never approached him. He died
prematurely, more deserving, beyond a doubt, of public execution than
the monarch whom, from a window of his own palace, he caused to be led
out to the scaffold.

Richard Cromwell, on the contrary, was gentle and prudent and refused to
keep his father's power at the expense of the lives of three or four
factious persons whom he might have sacrificed to his ambition. He
preferred becoming a private individual to being an assassin with
supreme power. He relinquished the protectorship without regret, to live
as a subject; and in the tranquillity of a country life he enjoyed
health and possessed his soul in peace for ninety years, beloved by his
neighbors, to whom he was a peacemaker and a father.

Say, reader, had you to choose between the destiny of the father and
that of the son, which would you prefer?


Dion Cassius, that flatterer of Augustus and detractor from Cicero,
because Cicero was the friend of liberty--that dry and diffuse writer
and gazetteer of popular rumors, Dion Cassius, reports that certain
senators were of opinion that in order to recompense Cæsar for all the
evil which he had brought upon the commonwealth it would be right, at
the age of fifty-seven, to allow him to honor with his favors all the
ladies who took his fancy. Men are still found who credit this
absurdity. Even the author of the "Spirit of Laws" takes it for a truth
and speaks of it as of a decree which would have passed the Roman senate
but for the modesty of the dictator, who suspected that he was not
altogether prepared for the accession of so much good fortune. But if
the Roman emperors attained not this right by a _senatus-consultum_,
duly founded upon a _plebiscitum_, it is very likely that they fully
enjoyed it by the courtesy of the ladies. The Marcus Aureliuses and the
Julians, to be sure, exercised not this right, but all the rest extended
it as widely as they were able.

It is astonishing that in Christian Europe a kind of feudal law for a
long time existed, or at least it was deemed a customary usage, to
regard the virginity of a female vassal as the property of the lord. The
first night of the nuptials of the daughter of his _villein_ belonged to
him without dispute.

This right was established in the same manner as that of walking with a
falcon on the fist, and of being saluted with incense at mass. The
lords, indeed, did not enact that the _wives_ of their villeins belonged
to them; they confined themselves to the daughters, the reason of which
is obvious. Girls are bashful and sometimes might exhibit reluctance.
This, however, yielded at once to the majesty of the laws, when the
condescending baron deemed them worthy the honor of personally enforcing
their practice.

It is asserted that this curious jurisprudence commenced in Scotland,
and I willingly believe that the Scotch lords had a still more absolute
power over their clans than even the German and French barons over their

It is undoubted that some abbots and bishops enjoyed this privilege in
their quality of temporal lords, and it is not very long since that
these prelates compounded their prerogative for acknowledgments in
money, to which they have just as much right as to the virginity of the

But let it be well remarked that this excess of tyranny was never
sanctioned by any public law. If a lord or a prelate had cited before a
regular tribunal a girl affianced to one of his vassals, in claim of her
quit-rent, he would doubtless have lost his cause and costs.

Let us seize this occasion to rest assured that no partially civilized
people ever established formal laws against morals; I do not believe
that a single instance of it can be furnished. Abuses creep in and are
borne: they pass as customs and travellers mistake them for fundamental
laws. It is said that in Asia greasy Mahometan saints march in
procession entirely naked and that devout females crowd round them to
kiss what is not worthy to be named, but I defy any one to discover a
passage in the Koran which justifies this brutality.

The phallus, which the Egyptians carry in procession, may be quoted in
order to confound me, as well as the idol Juggernaut, of the Indians. I
reply that these ceremonies war no more against morals than circumcision
at the age of eight days. In some of our towns the holy foreskin has
been borne in procession, and it is preserved yet in certain sacristies
without this piece of drollery causing the least disturbance in
families. Still, I am convinced that no council or act of parliament
ever ordained this homage to the holy foreskin.

I call a public law which deprives me of my property, which takes away
my wife and gives her to another, a law against morals; and I am certain
that such a law is impossible. Some travellers maintain that in Lapland
husbands, out of politeness, make an offer of their wives. Out of still
greater politeness, I believe them; but I nevertheless assert, that they
never found this rule of good manners in the legal code of Lapland, any
more than in the constitutions of Germany, in the ordinances of the king
of France, or in the "Statutes at Large" of England, any positive law,
adjudging the right of _cuissage_ to the barons. Absurd and barbarous
laws may be found everywhere; formal laws against morals nowhere.


A curate--but why do I say a curate?--even an imam, a talapoin, or
brahmin ought to have the means of living decently. The priest in every
country ought to be supported by the altar since he serves the public.
Some fanatic rogue may assert that I place the curate and the brahmin on
the same level and associate truth with imposture; but I compare only
the services rendered to society, the labor, and the recompense.

I maintain that whoever exercises a laborious function ought to be well
paid by his fellow-citizens. I do not assert that he ought to amass
riches, sup with Lucullus, or be as insolent as Clodius. I pity the
case of a country curate who is obliged to dispute a sheaf of corn with
his parishioner; to plead against him; to exact from him the tenth of
his peas and beans; to be hated and to hate, and to consume his
miserable life in miserable quarrels which engross the mind as much as
they embitter it.

I still more pity the inconsistent lot of a curate, whom monks, claiming
the great tithes, audaciously reward with a salary of forty ducats per
annum for undertaking, throughout the year, the labor of visiting for
three miles round his abode, by day and by night, in hail, rain, or
snow, the most disagreeable and often the most useless functions, while
the abbot or great tithe-holder drinks his rich wine of Volney, Beaune,
or Chambertin, eats his partridges and pheasants, sleeps upon his down
bed with a fair neighbor, and builds a palace. The disproportion is too

It has been taken for granted since the days of Charlemagne that the
clergy, besides their own lands, ought to possess a tenth of the lands
of other people, which tenth is at least a quarter, computing the
expense of culture. To establish this payment it is claimed on a
principle of divine right. Did God descend on earth to give a quarter of
His property to the abbey of Monte Cassino, to the abbey of St. Denis,
to the abbey of Fulda? Not that I know, but it has been discovered that
formerly, in the desert of Ethan, Horeb, and Kadesh Barnea, the Levites
were favored with forty-eight cities and a tenth of all which the earth
produced besides.

Very well, great tithe-holders, go to Kadesh Barnea and inhabit the
forty-eight cities in that uninhabitable desert. Take the tenth of the
flints which the land produces there, and great good may they do you.
But Abraham having combated for Sodom, gave a tenth of the spoil to
Melchizedek, priest and king of Salem. Very good, combat you also for
Sodom, but, like Melchizedek, take not from me the produce of the corn
which I have sowed.

In a Christian country containing twelve hundred thousand square leagues
throughout the whole of the North, in part of Germany, in Holland, and
in Switzerland, the clergy are paid with money from the public treasury.
The tribunals resound not there with lawsuits between landlords and
priests, between the great and the little tithe-holders, between the
pastor, plaintiff, and the flock defendants, in consequence of the third
Council of the Lateran, of which the said flocks defendant have never
heard a syllable.

The king of Naples this year (1772) has just abolished tithes in one of
his provinces: the clergy are better paid and the province blesses him.
The Egyptian priests, it is said, claimed not this tenth, but then, it
is observed that they possessed a third part of the land of Egypt as
their own. Oh, stupendous miracle! oh, thing most difficult to be
conceived, that possessing one-third of the country they did not quickly
acquire the other two!

Believe not, dear reader, that the Jews, who were a stiff-necked people,
never complained of the extortion of the tenths, or tithe. Give yourself
the trouble to consult the Talmud of Babylon, and if you understand not
the Chaldæan, read the translation, with notes of Gilbert Gaumin, the
whole of which was printed by the care of Fabricius. You will there
peruse the adventure of a poor widow with the High Priest Aaron, and
learn how the quarrel of this widow became the cause of the quarrel of
Koran, Dathan, and Abiram, on the one side, and Aaron on the other.

"A widow possessed only a single sheep which she wished to shear. Aaron
came and took the wool for himself: 'It belongs to me,' said he,
'according to the law, thou shalt give the first of the wool to God.'
The widow, in tears, implored the protection of Koran. Koran applied to
Aaron but his entreaties were fruitless. Aaron replies that the wool
belongs to him. Koran gives some money to the widow and retires, filled
with indignation.

"Some time after, the sheep produces a lamb. Aaron returns and carries
away the lamb. The widow runs weeping again to Koran, who in vain
implores Aaron. The high priest answers, 'It is written in the law,
every first-born male in thy flock belongs to God.' He eats the lamb and
Koran again retires in a rage.

"The widow, in despair, kills her sheep; Aaron returns once more and
takes away the shoulder and the breast. Koran again complains. Aaron
replies: 'It is written, thou shalt give unto the priests the shoulder,
the two cheeks, and the maw.'

"The widow could no longer contain her affliction and said, 'Anathema,'
to the sheep, upon which Aaron observed, 'It is written, all that is
anathema (cursed) in Israel belongs to thee;' and took away the sheep

What is not so pleasant, yet very remarkable, is that in a suit between
the clergy of Rheims and the citizens, this instance from the Talmud was
cited by the advocate of the citizens. Gaumin asserts that he witnessed
it. In the meantime it may be answered that the tithe-holders do not
take _all_ from the people, the tax-gatherers will not suffer it. To
every one his share is just.


     _Suave, mari magno turbantibus aequora ventis,_
     _E terra magnum alterius spectare laborem;_
     _Non quia vexari quemquam est jucunda voluptas,_
     _Sed quibus ipse malis careas, quia cernere suave est._
     _Suave etiam belli certamina magna tueri_
     _Per campos instructa tua sine parte pericli;_
     _Sed nil dulcius est, bene quam munita tenere_
     _Edita doctrina sapientum templa serena_
     _Despicere unde queas alios, passimque videre_
     _Errare, atque viam palantes quaerere vitae,_
     _Certare ingenio, contendere nobilitate,_
     _Noctes atque dies niti praestante labore_
     _Ad summas emergere opes, rerumque potiri._
     _O miseras hominum mentes! O pectora caeca!_

     'Tis pleasant, when the seas are rough, to stand
     And view another's danger, safe at land;
     Not 'cause he's troubled, but 'tis sweet to see
     Those cares and fears, from which ourselves are free;
     Tis also pleasant to behold from far
     How troops engage, secure ourselves from war.
     But, above all, 'tis pleasantest to get
     The top of high philosophy, and set
     On the calm, peaceful, nourishing head of it;
     Whence we may view, deep, wondrous deep below,
     How poor mistaken mortals wandering go,
     Seeking the path to happiness; some aim
     At learning, not nobility, or fame;
     Others, with cares and dangers vie each hour
     To reach the top of wealth and sovereign power.
     Blind, wretched man, in what dark paths of strife
     We walk this little journey of our life.
                                       --CREECH'S _Lucretius_.

I ask your pardon, Lucretius! I suspect that you are here as mistaken in
morals as you are always mistaken in physics. In my opinion it is
curiosity alone that induces people to hasten to the shore to see a
vessel in danger of being overwhelmed in a tempest. The case has
happened to myself, and I solemnly assure you that my pleasure, mingled
as it was with uneasiness and distress, did not at all arise from
reflection, nor originate in any secret comparison between my own
security and the danger of the unfortunate crew. I was moved by
curiosity and pity.

At the battle of Fontenoy little boys and girls climbed up the
surrounding trees to have a view of the slaughter. Ladies ordered seats
to be placed for them on a bastion of the city of Liege that they might
enjoy the spectacle at the battle of Rocoux.

When I said, "Happy they who view in peace the gathering storm," the
happiness I had in view consists in tranquillity and the search of
truth, and not in seeing the sufferings of thinking beings, oppressed
by fanatics or hypocrites under persecution for having sought it.

Could we suppose an angel flying on six beautiful wings from the height
of the Empyrean, setting out to take a view through some loophole of
hell of the torments and contortions of the damned, and congratulating
himself on feeling nothing of their inconceivable agonies, such an angel
would much resemble the character of Beelzebub.

I know nothing of the nature of angels because I am only a man; divines
alone are acquainted with them; but, as a man, I think, from my own
experience and also from that of all my brother drivellers, that people
do not flock to any spectacle, of whatever kind, but from pure

This seems to me so true that if the exhibition be ever so admirable men
at last get tired of it. The Parisian public scarcely go any longer to
see "_Tartuffe_" the most masterly of Molière's masterpieces. Why is it?
Because they have gone often; because they have it by heart. It is the
same with "Andromache."

Perrin Dandin is unfortunately right when he proposes to the young
Isabella to take her to see the method of "putting to the torture;" it
serves, he says, to pass away an hour or two. If this anticipation of
the execution, frequently more cruel than the execution itself, were a
public spectacle, the whole city of Toulouse would have rushed in crowds
to behold the venerable Calas twice suffering those execrable torments,
at the instance of the attorney-general. Penitents, black, white, and
gray, married women, girls, stewards of the floral games, students,
lackeys, female servants, girls of the town, doctors of the canon law
would have been all squeezed together. At Paris we must have been almost
suffocated in order to see the unfortunate General Lally pass along in a
dung cart, with a six-inch gag in his mouth.

But if these tragedies of cannibals, which are sometimes performed
before the most frivolous of nations, and the one most ignorant in
general of the principles of jurisprudence and equity; if the
spectacles, like those of St. Bartholomew, exhibited by tigers to
monkeys and the copies of it on a smaller scale were renewed every day,
men would soon desert such a country; they would fly from it with
horror; they would abandon forever the infernal land where such
barbarities were common.

When little boys and girls pluck the feathers from their sparrows it is
merely from the impulse of curiosity, as when they dissect the dresses
of their dolls. It is this passion alone which produces the immense
attendance at public executions. "Strange eagerness," as some tragic
author remarks, "to behold the wretched."

I remember being in Paris when Damiens suffered a death the most
elaborate and frightful that can be conceived. All the windows in the
city which bore upon the spot were engaged at a high price by ladies,
not one of whom, assuredly, made the consoling reflection that her own
breasts were not torn by pincers; that melted lead and boiling pitch
were not poured upon wounds of her own, and that her own limbs,
dislocated and bleeding, were not drawn asunder by four horses. One of
the executioners judged more correctly than Lucretius, for, when one of
the academicians of Paris tried to get within the enclosure to examine
what was passing more closely, and was forced back by one of the guards,
"Let the gentleman go in," said he, "he is an amateur." That is to say,
he is inquisitive; it is not through malice that he comes here; it is
not from any reflex consideration of self to revel in the pleasure of
not being himself quartered; it is only from curiosity, as men go to see
experiments in natural philosophy.

Curiosity is natural to man, to monkeys, and to little dogs. Take a
little dog with you in your carriage, he will continually be putting up
his paws against the door to see what is passing. A monkey searches
everywhere, and has the air of examining everything. As to men, you know
how they are constituted: Rome, London, Paris, all pass their time in
inquiring what's the news?


There are, it is said, one hundred and forty-four customs in France
which possess the force of law.

These laws are almost all different in different places. A man that
travels in this country changes his law almost as often as he changes
his horses. The majority of these customs were not reduced to writing
until the time of Charles VII., the reason of which probably was that
few people knew how to write. They then copied a part of the customs of
a part of Ponthieu, but this great work was not aided by the Picards
until Charles VIII. There were but sixteen digests in the time of Louis
XII., but our jurisprudence is so improved there are now but few customs
which have not a variety of commentators, all of whom are of different
opinions. There are already twenty-six upon the customs of Paris. The
judges know not which to prefer, but, to put them at their ease the
custom of Paris has been just turned into verse. It was in this manner
that the Delphian pythoness of old declared her oracles.

Weights and measures differ as much as customs, so that which is correct
in the faubourg of Montmartre, is otherwise in the abbey of St. Denis.
The Lord pity us!


Many learned men, and Rollin among the number, in an age in which reason
is cultivated, have assured us that Javan, who is supposed to be the
father of the Greeks, was the grandson of Noah. I believe it precisely
as I believe that Persius was the founder of the kingdom of Persia and
Niger of Nigritia. The only thing which grieves me is that the Greeks
have never known anything of Noah, the venerable author of their race. I
have elsewhere noted my astonishment and chagrin that our father Adam
should be absolutely unknown to everybody from Japan to the Strait of Le
Maire, except to a small people to whom he was known too late. The
science of genealogy is doubtless in the highest degree certain, but
exceedingly difficult.

It is neither upon Javan, upon Noah, nor upon Adam that my doubts fall
at present; it is upon Cyrus, and I seek not which of the fables in
regard to him is preferable, that of Herodotus, of Ctesias, of Xenophon,
of Diodorus, or of Justin, all of which contradict one another. Neither
do I ask why it is obstinately determined to give the name of Cyrus to a
barbarian called Khosrou, and those of Cyropolis and Persepolis to
cities that never bore them.

I drop all that has been said of the grand Cyrus, including the romance
of that name, and the travels which the Scottish Ramsay made him
undertake, and simply inquire into some instructions of his to the Jews,
of which that people make mention.

I remark, in the first place, that no author has said a word of the Jews
in the history of Cyrus, and that the Jews alone venture to notice
themselves, in speaking of this prince.

They resemble, in some degree, certain people, who, alluding to
individuals of a rank superior to their own say, we know the gentlemen
but the gentlemen know not us. It is the same with Alexander in the
narratives of the Jews. No historian of Alexander has mixed up his name
with that of the Jews, but Josephus fails not to assert that Alexander
came to pay his respects at Jerusalem; that he worshipped, I know not
what Jewish pontiff, called Jaddus, who had formerly predicted to him
the conquest of Persia in a dream. Petty people are often visionary in
this way: the great dream less of their greatness.

When Tarik conquered Spain the vanquished said they had foretold it.
They would have said the same thing to Genghis, to Tamerlane, and to
Mahomet II.

God forbid that I should compare the Jewish prophets to the predictors
of good fortune, who pay their court to conquerors by foretelling them
that which has come to pass. I merely observe that the Jews produce some
testimony from their nation in respect to the actions of Cyrus about one
hundred and sixty years before he was born.

It is said, in the forty-fifth chapter of Isaiah, "Thus saith the Lord
to His anointed--His Christ--Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden to
subdue nations before him, and I will loosen the loins of kings to open
before him the two-leaved gates, and the gates shall not be shut. I will
go before thee and make the crooked places straight; I will break in
pieces the gates of brass and cut in sunder the bars of iron. And I will
give thee the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places
that thou mayest know that I the Lord, who call thee by thy name, am
the God of Israel," etc.

Some learned men have scarcely been able to digest the fact of the Lord
honoring with the name of His Christ an idolater of the religion of
Zoroaster. They even dare to say that the Jews, in the manner of all the
weak who flatter the powerful, invented predictions in favor of Cyrus.

These learned persons respect Daniel no more than Isaiah, but treat all
the prophecies attributed to the latter with similar contempt to that
manifested by St. Jerome for the adventures of Susannah, of Bel and the
Dragon, and of the three children in the fiery furnace.

The sages in question seem not to be penetrated with sufficient esteem
for the prophets. Many of them even pretend that to see clearly the
future is metaphysically impossible. To see that which is not, say they,
is a contradiction in terms, and as the future exists not, it
consequently cannot be seen. They add that frauds of this nature abound
in all nations, and, finally, that everything is to be doubted which is
recorded in ancient history.

They observe that if there was ever a formal prophecy it is that of the
discovery of America in the tragedy of Seneca:

                 _Venient annis_
     _Sæcula seris quibus oceanus_
     _Vinculo rerum laxet, et ingens_
     _Pateat tellus,..._

A time may arrive when ocean will loosen the chains of nature and lay
open a vast world. The four stars of the southern pole are advanced
still more clearly in Dante, yet no one takes either Seneca or Dante for

As to Cyrus, it is difficult to know whether he died nobly or had his
head cut off by Tomyris, but I am anxious, I confess, that the learned
men may be right who claim the head of Cyrus was cut off. It is not
amiss that these illustrious robbers on the highway of nations who
pillage and deluge the earth with blood, should be occasionally

Cyrus has always been the subject of remark, Xenophon began and,
unfortunately, Ramsay ended. Lastly, to show the sad fate which
sometimes attends heroes, Danchet has made him the subject of a tragedy.

This tragedy is entirely unknown; the "Cyropædia" of Xenophon is more
popular because it is in Greek. The "Travels of Cyrus" are less so,
although printed in French and English, and wonderfully erudite.

The pleasantry of the romance entitled "The Travels of Cyrus," consists
in its discovery of a Messiah everywhere--at Memphis, at Babylon, at
Ecbatana, and at Tyre, as at Jerusalem, and as much in Plato as in the
gospel. The author having been a Quaker, an Anabaptist, an Anglican, and
a Presbyterian, had finally become a _Fénelonist_ at Cambray, under the
illustrious author of "Telemachus." Having since been made preceptor to
the child of a great nobleman, he thought himself born to instruct and
govern the universe, and, in consequence, gives lessons to Cyrus in
order to render him at once the best king and the most orthodox
theologian in existence. These two rare qualities appear to lack the
grace of congruity.

Ramsay leads his pupil to the school of Zoroaster and then to that of
the young Jew, Daniel, the greatest philosopher who ever existed. He not
only explained dreams, which is the acme of human science, but
discovered and interpreted even such as had been forgotten, which none
but he could ever accomplish. It might be expected that Daniel would
present the beautiful Susannah to the prince, it being in the natural
manner of romance, but he did nothing of the kind.

Cyrus, in return, has some very long conversations with Nebuchadnezzar
while he was an ox, during which transformation Ramsay makes
Nebuchadnezzar ruminate like a profound theologian.

How astonishing that the prince for whom this work was composed
preferred the chase and the opera to perusing it!


You wish to become acquainted with Dante. The Italians call him divine,
but it is a mysterious divinity; few men understand his oracles, and
although there are commentators, that may be an additional reason why
he is little comprehended. His reputation will last because he is little
read. Twenty pointed things in him are known by rote, which spare people
the trouble of being acquainted with the remainder.

The divine Dante was an unfortunate person. Imagine not that he was
divine in his own day; no one is a prophet at home. It is true he was a
prior--not a prior of monks, but a prior of Florence, that is to say,
one of its senators.

He was born in 1260, when the arts began to flourish in his native land.
Florence, like Athens, abounded in greatness, wit, levity, inconstancy,
and faction. The white faction was in great credit; it was called after
a Signora Bianca. The opposing party was called the blacks, in
contradistinction. These two parties sufficed not for the Florentines;
they had also Guelphs and Ghibellines. The greater part of the whites
were Ghibellines, attached to the party of the emperors; the blacks, on
the other hand, sided with the Guelphs, the partisans of the popes.

All these factions loved liberty, but did all they could to destroy it.
Pope Boniface VIII. wished to profit by these divisions in order to
annihilate the power of the emperors in Italy. He declared Charles de
Valois, brother of Philip the Fair, king of France, his vicar in Italy.
The vicar came well armed and chased away the whites and the Ghibellines
and made himself detested by blacks and Guelphs. Dante was a white and a
Ghibelline; he was driven away among the first and his house razed to
the ground. We may judge if he could be for the remainder of his life,
favorable towards the French interest and to the popes. It is said,
however, that he took a journey to Paris, and, to relieve his chagrin
turned theologian and disputed vigorously in the schools. It is added
that the emperor Henry VIII. did nothing for him, Ghibelline as he was,
and that he repaired to Frederick of Aragon, king of Sicily, and
returned as poor as he went. He subsequently died in poverty at Ravenna
at the age of fifty-six. It was during these various peregrinations that
he composed his divine comedy of "Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise."

[Voltaire here enters into a description of the "_Inferno_," which it is
unnecessary to insert, after the various translations into English. The
conclusion, however, exhibiting our author's usual vivacity, is

Is all this in the comic style? No. In the heroic manner? No. What then
is the taste of this poem? An exceedingly wild one, but it contains
verses so happy and piquant that it has not lain dormant for four
centuries and never will be laid aside. A poem, moreover, which puts
popes into hell excites attention, and the sagacity of commentators is
exhausted in correctly ascertaining who it is that Dante has damned, it
being, of course, of the first consequence not to be deceived in a
matter so important.

A chair and a lecture have been founded with a view to the exposition
of this classic author. You ask me why the Inquisition acquiesces. I
reply that in Italy the Inquisition understands raillery and knows that
raillery in verse never does any harm.


We are called upon to reverence David as a prophet, as a king, as the
ancestor of the holy spouse of Mary, as a man who merited the mercy of
God from his penitence.

I will boldly assert that the article on "David," which raised up so
many enemies to Bayle, the first author of a dictionary of facts and of
reasonings, deserves not the strange noise which was made about it. It
was not David that people were anxious to defend, but Bayle whom they
were solicitous to destroy. Certain preachers of Holland, his mortal
enemies, were so far blinded by their enmity as to blame him for having
praised popes whom he thought meritorious, and for having refuted the
unjust calumny with which they had been assailed.

This absurd and shameful piece of injustice was signed by a dozen
theologians on Dec. 20, 1698, in the same consistory in which they
pretended to take up the defence of King David. A great proof that the
condemnation of Bayle arose from personal feeling is supplied by the
fact of that which happened in 1761, to Mr. Peter Anet, in London. The
doctors Chandler and Palmer, having delivered funeral sermons on the
death of King George II., in which they compared him to King David, Mr.
Anet, who did not regard this comparison as honorable to the deceased
monarch, published his famous dissertation entitled, "The History of the
Man after God's Own Heart." In that work he makes it clear that George
II., a king much more powerful than David, did not fall into the errors
of the Jewish sovereign, and consequently could not display the
penitence which was the origin of the comparison.

He follows, step by step, the Books of Kings, examines the conduct of
David with more severity than Bayle, and on it founds an opinion that
the Holy Spirit does not praise actions of the nature of those
attributed to David. The English author, in fact, judges the king of
Judah upon the notions of justice and injustice which prevail at the
present time.

He cannot approve of the assembly of a band of robbers by David to the
amount of four hundred; of his being armed with the sword of Goliath, by
the high priest Abimelech, from whom he received hallowed bread.

He could not think well of the expedition of David against the farmer,
Nabal, in order to destroy his abode with fire and sword, because Nabal
refused contributions to his troop of robbers; or of the death of Nabal
a few days afterwards, whose widow David immediately espoused.

He condemned his conduct to King Achish, the possessor of a few villages
in the district of Gath. David, at the head of five or six hundred
banditti, made inroads upon the allies of his benefactor Achish. He
pillaged the whole of them, massacred all the inhabitants, men, women,
and children at the breast. And why the children at the breast? For
fear, says the text, these children should carry the news to King
Achish, who was deceived into a belief that these expeditions were
undertaken against the Israelites, by an absolute lie on the part of

Again, Saul loses a battle and wishes his armor-bearer to slay him, who
refuses; he wounds himself, but not effectually, and at his own desire a
young man despatches him, who, carrying the news to David, is massacred
for his pains.

Ishbosheth succeeds his father, Saul, and David makes war upon him.
Finally Ishbosheth is assassinated.

David, possessed of the sole dominion, surprised the little town or
village of Rabbah and put all the inhabitants to death by the most
extraordinary devices--sawing them asunder, destroying them with harrows
and axes of iron, and burning them in brick-kilns.

After these expeditions there was a famine in the country for three
years. In fact, from this mode of making war, countries must necessarily
be badly cultivated. The Lord was consulted as to the causes of the
famine. The answer was easy. In a country which produces corn with
difficulty, when laborers are baked in brick-kilns and sawed into
pieces, few people remain to cultivate the earth. The Lord, however,
replied that it was because Saul had formerly slain some Gibeonites.

What is David's speedy remedy? He assembles the Gibeonites, informs them
that Saul had committed a great sin in making war upon them, and that
Saul not being like him, a man after God's own heart, it would be proper
to punish him in his posterity. He therefore makes them a present of
seven grandsons of Saul to be hanged, who were accordingly hanged
because there had been a famine.

Mr. Anet is so just as not to insist upon the adultery with Bathsheba
and the murder of her husband, as these crimes were pardoned in
consequence of the repentance of David. They were horrible and
abominable, but being remitted by the Lord, the English author also
absolves from them.

No one complained in England of the author, and the parliament took
little interest in the history of a kinglet of a petty district in

Let justice be done to Father Calmet; he has kept within bounds in his
dictionary of the Bible, in the article on "David." "We pretend not,"
said he, "to approve of the conduct of David, but it is to be believed
that this excess of cruelty was committed before his repentance on the
score of Bathsheba." Possibly he repented of all his crimes at the same
time, which were sufficiently numerous.

Let us here ask what appears to us to be an important question. May we
not exhibit a portion of contempt in the article on "David," and treat
of his person and glory with the respect due to the sacred books? It is
to the interest of mankind that crime should in no case be sanctified.
What signifies what _he_ is called, who massacres the wives and children
of his allies; who hangs the grandchildren of his king; who saws his
unhappy captives in two, tears them to pieces with harrows, or burns
them in brick-kilns? These actions we judge, and not the letters which
compose the name of the criminal. His name neither augments nor
diminishes the criminality.

The more David is revered after his reconciliation with God, the more
are his previous qualities condemnable.

If a young peasant, in searching after she-asses finds a kingdom it is
no common affair. If another peasant cures his king of insanity by a
tune on the harp that is still more extraordinary. But when this petty
player on the harp becomes king because he meets a village priest in
secret, who pours a bottle of olive oil on his head, the affair is more
marvellous still.

I know nothing either of the writers of these marvels, or of the time in
which they were written, but I am certain that it was neither Polybius
nor Tacitus.

I shall not speak here of the murder of Uriah, and of the adultery with
Bathsheba, these facts being sufficiently well known. The ways of God
are not the ways of men, since He permitted the descent of Jesus Christ
from this very Bathsheba, everything being rendered pure by so holy a

I ask not now how Jurieu had the audacity to persecute the wise Bayle
for not approving all the actions of the good King David. I only inquire
why a man like Jurieu is suffered to molest a man like Bayle.


These are letters of the popes which regulate points of doctrine and
discipline and which have the force of law in the Latin church.

Besides the genuine ones collected by Denis le Petit, there is a
collection of false ones, the author of which, as well as the date, is
unknown. It was an archbishop of Mentz called Riculphus who circulated
it in France about the end of the eighth century; he had also brought to
Worms an epistle of Pope Gregory, which had never before been heard of,
but no vestige of the latter is at present remaining, while the false
decretals, as we shall see, have met with the greatest success for eight

This collection bears the name of Isidore Mercator, and comprehends an
infinite number of decrees falsely ascribed to the popes, from Clement
I. down to Siricius. The false donation of Constantine; the Council of
Rome under Sylvester; the letter of Athanasius to Mark; that of
Anastasius to the bishops of Germany and Burgundy; that of Sixtus III.
to the Orientals; that of Leo. I. relating to the privileges of the
rural bishops; that of John I. to the archbishop Zachariah; one of
Boniface II. to Eulalia of Alexandria; one of John III. to the bishops
of France and Burgundy; one of Gregory, containing a privilege of the
monastery of St. Médard; one from the same to Felix, bishop of Messina,
and many others.

The object of the author was to extend the authority of the pope and the
bishops. With this view, he lays it down as a principle that they can be
definitely judged only by the pope, and he often repeats this maxim that
not only every bishop but every priest, and, generally, every oppressed
individual may, in any stage of a cause, appeal directly to the pope. He
likewise considers it as an incontestable principle that no council, not
even a provincial one, may be held without the permission of the pope.

These decretals, favoring the impunity of bishops, and still more the
ambitious pretensions of the popes, were eagerly adopted by them both.
In 861, Rotade, bishop of Soissons, being deprived of episcopal
communion in a provincial council on account of disobedience, appeals to
the pope. Hincmar of Rheims, his metropolitan, notwithstanding his
appeal, deposes him in another council under the pretext that he had
afterwards renounced it, and submitted himself to the judgment of the

Pope Nicholas I. being informed of this affair, wrote to Hincmar, and
blamed his proceedings. "You ought," says he, "to honor the memory of
St. Peter, and await our judgment, even although Rotade had not
appealed." And in another letter on the same matter, he threatens
Hincmar with excommunication, if he does not restore Rotade. That pope
did more. Rotade having arrived at Rome, he declared him acquitted in a
council held on Christmas eve, 864; and dismissed him to his see with
letters. That which he addressed to all the bishops is worthy of notice,
and is as follows:

"What you say is absurd, that Rotade, after having appealed to the holy
see, changed his language and submitted himself anew to your judgment.
Even although he had done so, it would have been your duty to set him
right, and teach him that an appeal never lies from a superior judge to
an inferior one. But even although he had not appealed to the holy see,
you ought by no means to depose a bishop without our participation, in
prejudice of so many decretals of our predecessors; for, if it be by
their judgment that the writings of other doctors are approved or
rejected, how much more should that be respected which they have
themselves written, to decide on points of doctrine and discipline. Some
tell you that these decretals are not in the book of canons; yet those
same persons, when they find them favorable to their designs, use both
without distinction, and reject them only to lessen the power of the
holy see. If the decretals of the ancient popes are to be rejected
because they are not contained in the book of canons, the writings of
St. Gregory, and the rest of the fathers, must, on the same principle,
be rejected also, and even the Holy Scriptures themselves."

"You say," the pope continues, "that judgments upon bishops are not
among the higher causes; we maintain that they are high in proportion as
bishops hold a high rank in the church. Will you assert that it is only
metropolitan affairs which constitute the higher causes? But
metropolitans are not of a different order from bishops, and we do not
demand different witnesses or judges in the one case, from what are
usual in the other; we therefore require that causes which involve
either should be reserved for us. And, finally, can anyone be found so
utterly unreasonable as to say that all other churches ought to preserve
their privileges, and that the Roman Church alone should lose hers?" He
concludes with ordering them to receive and replace Rotade.

Pope Adrian, the successor of Nicholas I., seems to have been no less
zealous in a similar case relating to Hincmar of Laon. That prelate had
rendered himself hateful both to the clergy and people of his diocese,
by various acts of injustice and violence. Having been accused before
the Council of Verberie--at which Hincmar of Rheims, his uncle and
metropolitan, presided--he appealed to the pope, and demanded permission
to go to Rome. This was refused him. The process against him was merely
suspended, and the affair went no farther. But upon new matters of
complaint brought against him by Charles the Bald and Hincmar of
Rheims, he was cited at first before the Council of Attigny, where he
appeared, and soon afterwards fled; and then before the Council of
Douzy, where he renewed his appeal, and was deposed. The council wrote
to the pope a synodal letter, on Sept. 6, 871, to request of him a
confirmation of the acts which they sent him; but Adrian, far from
acquiescing in the judgment of the council, expressed in the strongest
terms his disapprobation of the condemnation of Hincmar; maintaining
that, since Hincmar declared before the council that he appealed to the
holy see, they ought not to have pronounced any sentence of condemnation
upon him. Such were the terms used by that pope, in his letter to the
bishops of the council, as also in that which he wrote to the king.

The following is the vigorous answer sent by Charles to Adrian: "Your
letters say, 'We will and ordain, by apostolical authority, that Hincmar
of Laon shall come to Rome and present himself before us, resting upon
your supremacy.'

"We wonder where the writer of this letter discovered that a king, whose
duty it is to chastise the guilty and be the avenger of crimes, should
send to Rome a criminal convicted according to legal forms, and more
especially one who, before his deposition, was found guilty, in three
councils, of enterprises against the public peace; and who, after his
deposition, persisted in his disobedience.

"We are compelled further to tell you, that we, kings of France, born
of a royal race, have never yet passed for the deputies of bishops, but
for sovereigns of the earth. And, as St. Leon and the Roman council have
said, kings and emperors, whom God has appointed to govern the world,
have permitted bishops to regulate their affairs according to their
ordinances, but they have never been the stewards of bishops; and if you
search the records of your predecessors, you will not find that they
have ever written to persons in our exalted situation as you have done
in the present instance."

He then adduces two letters of St. Gregory, to show with what modesty he
wrote, not only to the kings of France, but to the exarchs of Italy.
"Finally," he concludes, "I beg that you will never more send to me, or
to the bishops of my kingdom, similar letters, if you wish that we
should give to what you write that honor and respect which we would
willingly grant it." The bishops of the Council of Douzy answered the
pope nearly in the same strain; and, although we have not the entire
letter, it appears that their object in it was to prove that Hincmar's
appeal ought not to be decided at Rome, but in France, by judges
delegated conformably to the canons of the Council of Sardis.

These examples are sufficient to show how the popes extended their
jurisdiction by the instrumentality of these false decretals; and
although Hincmar of Rheims objected to Adrian, that, not being included
in the book of canons, they could not subvert the discipline
established by the canons--which occasioned his being accused, before
Pope John VIII., of not admitting the decretals of the popes--he
constantly cited these decretals as authorities, in his letters and
other writings, and his example was followed by many bishops. At first,
those only were admitted which were not contrary to the more recent
canons, and afterwards there was less and less scruple.

The councils themselves made use of them. Thus, in that of Rheims, held
in 992, the bishops availed themselves of the decretals of Anacletus, of
Julius, of Damasus, and other popes, in the cause of Arnoul. Succeeding
councils imitated that of Rheims. The popes Gregory VII., Urban II.,
Pascal II., Urban III., and Alexander III. supported the maxims they
found in them, persuaded that they constituted the discipline of the
flourishing age of the church. Finally, the compilers of the
canons--Bouchard of Worms, Yves of Chartres, and Gratian--introduced
them into their collection. After they became publicly taught in the
schools, and commented upon, all the polemical and scholastic divines,
and all the expositors of the canon law, eagerly laid hold of these
false decretals to confirm the Catholic dogmas, or to establish points
of discipline, and scattered them profusely through their works.

It was not till the sixteenth century that the first suspicions of their
authenticity were excited. Erasmus, and many others with him, called
them in question upon the following grounds:

1. The decretals contained in the collection of Isidore are not in that
of Denis le Petit, who cited none of the decretals of the popes before
the time of Siricius. Yet he informs us that he took extreme care in
collecting them. They could not, therefore, have escaped him, if they
had existed in the archives of the see of Rome, where he resided. If
they were unknown to the holy see, to which they were favorable, they
were so to the whole church. The fathers and councils of the first eight
centuries have made no mention of them. But how can this universal
silence be reconciled with their authenticity?

2. These decretals do not all correspond with the state of things
existing at the time in which they are supposed to have been written.
Not a word is said of the heresies of the three first centuries, nor of
other ecclesiastical affairs with which the genuine works of the same
period are filled. This proves that they were fabricated afterwards.

3. Their dates are almost always false. Their author generally follows
the chronology of the pontifical book, which, by Baronius's own
confession, is very incorrect. This is a presumptive evidence that the
collection was not composed till after the pontifical book.

4. These decretals, in all the citations of Scripture passages which
they contain, use the version known by the name of "Vulgate," made, or
at least revised, by St. Jerome. They are, therefore, of later date
than St. Jerome.

Finally, they are all written in the same style, which is very
barbarous; and, in that respect, corresponding to the ignorance of the
eighth century: but it is not by any means probable that all the
different popes, whose names they bear, affected that uniformity of
style. It may be concluded with confidence, that all the decretals are
from the same hand.

Besides these general reasons, each of the documents which form
Isidore's collection carries with it marks of forgery peculiar to
itself, and none of which have escaped the keen criticism of David
Blondel, to whom we are principally indebted for the light thrown at the
present day on this compilation, now no longer known but as "The False
Decretals"; but the usages introduced in consequence of it exist not the
less through a considerable portion of Europe.


We begin with observing that we are believers in the universal deluge,
because it is recorded in the holy Hebrew Scriptures transmitted to
Christians. We consider it as a miracle:

1. Because all the facts by which God condescends to interfere in the
sacred books are so many miracles.

2. Because the sea could not rise fifteen cubits, or one-and-twenty
standard feet and a half, above the highest mountains, without leaving
its bed dry, and, at the same time, violating all the laws of gravity
and the equilibrium of fluids, which would evidently require a miracle.

3. Because, even although it might rise to the height mentioned, the ark
could not have contained, according to known physical laws, all the
living things of the earth, together with their food, for so long a
time; considering that lions, tigers, panthers, leopards, ounces,
rhinoceroses, bears, wolves, hyenas, eagles, hawks, kites, vultures,
falcons, and all carnivorous animals, which feed on flesh alone, would
have died of hunger, even after having devoured all the other species.

There was printed some time ago, in an appendix to Pascal's "Thoughts,"
a dissertation of a merchant of Rouen, called Le Peletier, in which he
proposes a plan for building a vessel in which all kinds of animals
might be included and maintained for the space of a year. It is clear
that this merchant never superintended even a poultry-yard. We cannot
but look upon M. Le Peletier, the architect of the ark, as a visionary,
who knew nothing about menageries; and upon the deluge as an adorable
miracle, fearful, and incomprehensible to the feeble reason of M. Le
Peletier, as well as to our own.

4. Because the physical impossibility of a universal deluge, by natural
means, can be strictly demonstrated. The demonstration is as follows:
All the seas cover half the globe. A common measure of their depths
near the shores, and in the open ocean, is assumed to be five hundred

In order that they might cover both hemispheres to the depth of five
hundred feet, not only would an ocean of that depth be necessary over
all the land, but a new sea would, in addition, be required to envelop
the ocean at present existing, without which the laws of hydrostatics
would occasion the dispersion of that other new mass of water five
hundred feet deep, which should remain covering the land. Thus, then,
two new oceans are requisite to cover the terraqueous globe merely to
the depth of five hundred feet.

Supposing the mountains to be only twenty thousand feet high, forty
oceans, each five hundred feet in height, would be required to
accumulate on each other, merely in order to equal the height of the
mountains. Every successive ocean would contain all the others, and the
last of them all would have a circumference containing forty times that
of the first.

In order to form this mass of water, it would be necessary to create it
out of nothing. In order to withdraw it, it would be necessary to
annihilate it. The event of the deluge, then, is a double miracle, and
the greatest that has ever manifested the power of the eternal Sovereign
of all worlds.

We are exceedingly surprised that some learned men have attributed to
this deluge some small shell found in many parts of our continent. We
are still more surprised at what we find under the article on "Deluge,"
in the grand "Encyclopædia." An author is quoted in it, who says things
so very profound that they may be considered as chimerical. This is the
first characteristic of Pluche. He proves the possibility of the deluge
by the history of the giants who made war against the gods!

_Briareus_, according to him, is clearly the deluge, for it signifies
"the loss of serenity": and in what language does it signify this
loss?--in Hebrew. But _Briareus_ is a Greek word, which means "robust":
it is not a Hebrew word. Even if, by chance, it had been so, we should
beware of imitating Bochart, who derives so many Greek, Latin, and even
French words from the Hebrew idiom. The Greeks certainly knew no more of
the Jewish idiom than of the language of the Chinese.

The giant Othus is also in Hebrew, according to Pluche, "the derangement
of the seasons." But it is also a Greek word, which does not signify
anything, at least, that I know; and even if it did, what, let me ask,
could it have to do with the Hebrew?

_Porphyrion_ is "a shaking of the earth," in Hebrew; but in Greek, it is
porphyry. This has nothing to do with the deluge.

_Mimos_ is "a great rain"; for once, he does mention a name which may
bear upon the deluge. But in Greek _mimos_ means mimic, comedian. There
are no means of tracing the deluge of such an origin. _Enceladus_ is
another proof of the deluge in Hebrew; for, according to Pluche, it is
the fountain of time; but, unluckily, in Greek it is "noise."

_Ephialtes_, another demonstration of the deluge in Hebrew; for
_ephialtes_, which signifies leaper, oppressor, incubus, in Greek is,
according to Pluche, "a vast accumulation of clouds."

But the Greeks, having taken everything from the Hebrews, with whom they
were unacquainted, clearly gave to their giants all those names which
Pluche extracts from the Hebrew as well as he can, and all as a memorial
of the deluge.

Such is the reasoning of Pluche. It is he who cites the author of the
article on "Deluge" without refuting him. Does he speak seriously, or
does he jest? I do not know. All I know is, that there is scarcely a
single system to be found at which one can forbear jesting.

I have some apprehension that the article in the grand "Encyclopædia,"
attributed to M. Boulanger, is not serious. In that case, we ask whether
it is philosophical. Philosophy is so often deceived, that we shall not
venture to decide against M. Boulanger.

Still less shall we venture to ask what was that abyss which was broken
up, or what were the cataracts of heaven which were opened. Isaac
Vossius denies the universality of the deluge: "_Hoc est pie nugari_."
Calmet maintains it; informing us, that bodies have no weight in air,
but in consequence of their being compressed by air. Calmet was not
much of a natural philosopher, and the weight of the air has nothing to
do with the deluge. Let us content ourselves with reading and respecting
everything in the Bible, without comprehending a single word of it.

I do not comprehend how God created a race of men in order to drown
them, and then substituted in their room a race still viler than the

How seven pairs of all kinds of clean animals should come from the four
quarters of the globe, together with two pairs of unclean ones, without
the wolves devouring the sheep on the way, or the kites the pigeons,

How eight persons could keep in order, feed, and water, such an immense
number of inmates, shut up in an ark for nearly two years; for, after
the cessation of the deluge, it would be necessary to have food for all
these passengers for another year, in consequence of the herbage being
so scanty.

I am not like M. Le Peletier. I admire everything, and explain nothing.


     _Le pire des états, c'est l'état populaire._
     That sway is worst, in which the people rule.

Such is the opinion which Cinna gave Augustus. But on the other hand,
Maximus maintains, that

     _Le pire des états, c'est l'état monarchique._
     That sway is worst, in which a monarch rules.

Bayle, in his "Philosophical Dictionary," after having repeatedly
advocated both sides of the question, gives, under the article on
"Pericles," a most disgusting picture of democracy, and more
particularly that of Athens.

A republican, who is a stanch partisan of democracy, and one of our
"proposers of questions," sends us his refutation of Bayle and his
apology for Athens. We will adduce his reasons. It is the privilege of
every writer to judge the living and the dead; he who thus sits in
judgment will be himself judged by others, who, in their turn, will be
judged also; and thus, from age to age, all sentences are, according to
circumstances, reversed or reformed.

Bayle, then, after some common-place observations, uses these words: "A
man would look in vain into the history of Macedon for as much tyranny
as he finds in the history of Athens."

Perhaps Bayle was discontented with Holland when he thus wrote; and
probably my republican friend, who refutes him, is contented with his
little democratic city "for the present."

It is difficult to weigh, in an exquisitely nice balance, the iniquities
of the republic of Athens and of the court of Macedon. We still upbraid
the Athenians with the banishment of Cimon, Aristides, Themistocles, and
Alcibiades, and the sentences of death upon Phocion and Socrates;
sentences similar in absurdity and cruelty to those of some of our own

In short, what we can never pardon in the Athenians is the execution of
their six victorious generals, condemned because they had not time to
bury their dead after the victory, and because they were prevented from
doing so by a tempest. The sentence is at once so ridiculous and
barbarous, it bears such a stamp of superstition and ingratitude, that
those of the Inquisition, those delivered against Urbain Grandier,
against the wife of Marshal d'Ancre, against Montrin, and against
innumerable sorcerers and witches, etc., are not, in fact, fooleries
more atrocious.

It is in vain to say, in excuse of the Athenians, that they believed,
like Homer before them, that the souls of the dead were always
wandering, unless they had received the honors of sepulture or burning.
A folly is no excuse for a barbarity.

A dreadful evil, indeed, for the souls of a few Greeks to ramble for a
week or two on the shores of the ocean! The evil is, in consigning
living men to the executioner; living men who have won a battle for you;
living men, to whom you ought to be devoutly grateful.

Thus, then, are the Athenians convicted of having been at once the most
silly and the most barbarous judges in the world. But we must now place
in the balance the crimes of the court of Macedon; we shall see that
that court far exceeds Athens in point of tyranny and atrocity.

There is ordinarily no comparison to be made between the crimes of the
great, who are always ambitious, and those of the people, who never
desire, and who never can desire, anything but liberty and equality.
These two sentiments, "liberty and equality," do not _necessarily_ lead
to calumny, rapine, assassination, poisoning, and devastation of the
lands of neighbors; but, the towering ambition and thirst for power of
the great precipitate them head-long into every species of crime in all
periods and all places.

In this same Macedon, the virtue of which Bayle opposes to that of
Athens, we see nothing but a tissue of tremendous crimes for a series of
two hundred years.

It is Ptolemy, the uncle of Alexander the Great, who assassinates his
brother Alexander to usurp the kingdom. It is Philip, his brother, who
spends his life in guilt and perjury, and ends it by a stab from

Olympias orders Queen Cleopatra and her son to be thrown into a furnace
of molten brass. She assassinates Aridæus. Antigonus assassinates
Eumenes. Antigonus Gonatas, his son, poisons the governor of the citadel
of Corinth, marries his widow, expels her, and takes possession of the
citadel. Philip, his grandson, poisons Demetrius, and defiles the whole
of Macedon with murders. Perseus kills his wife with his own hand, and
poisons his brother. These perfidies and cruelties are authenticated in

Thus, then, for two centuries, the madness of despotism converts
Macedon into a theatre for every crime; and in the same space of time
you see the popular government of Athens stained only by five or six
acts of judicial iniquity, five or six certainly atrocious judgments, of
which the people in every instance repented, and for which they made, as
far as they could, honorable expiation (_amende honorable._) They asked
pardon of Socrates after his death, and erected to his memory the small
temple called _Socrateion_. They asked pardon of Phocion, and raised a
statue to his honor. They asked pardon of the six generals, so
ridiculously condemned and so basely executed. They confined in chains
the principal accuser, who, with difficulty, escaped from public
vengeance. The Athenian people, therefore, appear to have had good
natural dispositions, connected, as they were, with great versatility
and frivolity. In what despotic state has the injustice of precipitate
decrees ever been thus ingenuously acknowledged and deplored?

Bayle, then, is for this once in the wrong. My republican has reason on
his side. Popular government, therefore, is in itself iniquitous, and
less abominable than monarchical despotism.

The great vice of democracy is certainly not tyranny and cruelty. There
have been republicans in mountainous regions wild and ferocious; but
they were made so, not by the spirit of republicanism, but by nature.
The North American savages were entirely republican; but they were
republics of bears.

The radical vice of a civilized republic is expressed by the Turkish
fable of the dragon with many heads, and the dragon with many tails. The
multitude of heads become injurious, and the multitude of tails obey one
single head, which wants to devour all.

Democracy seems to suit only a very small country; and even that
fortunately situated. Small as it may be, it will commit many faults,
because it will be composed of men. Discord will prevail in it, as in a
convent of monks; but there will be no St. Bartholomews there, no Irish
massacre, no Sicilian vespers, no Inquisition, no condemnation to the
galleys for having taken water from the ocean without paying for it; at
least, unless it be a republic of devils, established in some corner of

After having taken the side of my Swiss friend against the dexterous
fencing-master, Bayle, I will add: That the Athenians were warriors like
the Swiss, and as polite as the Parisians were under Louis XIV.; that
they excelled in every art requiring genius or execution, like the
Florentine in time of the Medici; that they were the masters of the
Romans in the sciences and in eloquence, even in the days of Cicero;
that this same people, insignificant in number, who scarcely possessed
anything of territory, and who, at the present day, consist only of a
band of ignorant slaves, a hundred times less numerous than the Jews,
and deprived of all but their name, yet bear away the palm from Roman
power, by their ancient reputation, which triumphs at once over time and

Europe has seen a republic, ten times smaller than Athens, attract its
attention for the space of one hundred and fifty years, and its name
placed by the side of that of Rome, even while she still commanded
kings; while she condemned one Henry, a sovereign of France, and
absolved and scourged another Henry, the first man of his age; even
while Venice retained her ancient splendor, and the republic of the
seven United Provinces was astonishing Europe and the Indies, by its
successful establishment and extensive commerce.

This almost imperceptible ant-hill could not be crushed by the royal
demon of the South, and the monarch of two worlds, nor by the intrigues
of the Vatican, which put in motion one-half of Europe. It resisted by
words and by arms; and with the help of a Picard who wrote, and a small
number of Swiss who fought for it, it became at length established and
triumphant, and was enabled to say, "Rome and I." She kept all minds
divided between the rich pontiffs who succeeded to the Scipios--_Romanos
rerum dominos_--and the poor inhabitants of a corner of the world long
unknown in a country of poverty and _goîtres_.

The main point was, to decide how Europe should think on the subject of
certain questions which no one understood. It was the conflict of the
human mind. The Calvins, the Bezas, and Turetins, were the
Demostheneses, Platos, and Aristotles, of the day.

The absurdity of the greater part of the controversial questions which
bound down the attention of Europe, having at length been acknowledged,
this small republic turned our consideration to what appears of solid
consequence--the acquisition of wealth. The system of law, more
chimerical and less baleful than that of the supralapsarians and the
sublapsarians, occupied with arithmetical calculations those who could
no longer gain celebrity as partisans of the doctrine of crucified
divinity. They became rich, but were no longer famous.

It is thought at present there is no republic, except in Europe. I am
mistaken if I have not somewhere made the remark myself; it must,
however, have been a great inadvertence. The Spaniards found in America
the republic of Tlascala perfectly well established. Every part of that
continent which has not been subjugated is still republican. In the
whole of that vast territory, when it was first discovered, there
existed no more than two kingdoms; and this may well be considered as a
proof that republican government is the most natural. Men must have
obtained considerable refinement, and have tried many experiments,
before they submit to the government of a single individual.

In Africa, the Hottentots, the Kaffirs, and many communities of negroes,
are democracies. It is pretended that the countries in which the greater
part of the negroes are sold are governed by kings. Tripoli, Tunis, and
Algiers are republics of soldiers and pirates. There are similar ones in
India. The Mahrattas, and many other Indian hordes, have no kings: they
elect chiefs when they go on their expeditions of plunder.

Such are also many of the hordes of Tartars. Even the Turkish Empire has
long been a republic of janissaries, who have frequently strangled their
sultan, when their sultan did not decimate them. We are every day asked,
whether a republican or a kingly government is to be preferred? The
dispute always ends in agreeing that the government of men is
exceedingly difficult. The Jews had God himself for their master; yet
observe the events of their history. They have almost always been
trampled upon and enslaved; and, nationally, what a wretched figure do
they make at present!


Hypochondriacal and epileptic persons, and women laboring under
hysterical affections, have always been considered the victims of evil
spirits, malignant demons and divine vengeance. We have seen that this
disease was called the sacred disease; and that while the physicians
were ignorant, the priests of antiquity obtained everywhere the care and
management of such diseases.

When the symptoms were very complicated, the patient was supposed to be
possessed with many demons--a demon of madness, one of luxury, one of
avarice, one of obstinacy, one of short-sightedness, one of deafness;
and the exorciser could not easily miss finding a demon of foolery
created, with another of knavery.

The Jews expelled devils from the bodies of the possessed, by the
application of the root _barath_, and a certain formula of words; our
Saviour expelled them by a divine virtue; he communicated that virtue to
his apostles, but it is now greatly impaired.

A short time since, an attempt was made to renew the history of St.
Paulin. That saint saw on the roof of a church a poor demoniac, who
walked under, or rather upon, this roof or ceiling, with his head below
and his feet above, nearly in the manner of a fly. St. Paulin clearly
perceived that the man was possessed, and sent several leagues off for
some relics of St. Felix of Nola, which were applied to the patient as
blisters. The demon who supported the man against the roof instantly
fled, and the demoniac fell down upon the pavement.

We may have doubts about this history, while we preserve the most
profound respect for genuine miracles; and we may be permitted to
observe that this is not the way in which we now cure demoniacs. We
bleed them, bathe them, and gently relax them by medicine; we apply
emollients to them. This is M. Pome's treatment of them; and he has
performed more cures than the priests of Isis or Diana, or of anyone
else who ever wrought by miracles. As to demoniacs who say they are
possessed merely to gain money, instead of being bathed, they are at
present flogged.

It often happened, that the specific gravity of epileptics, whose fibres
and muscles withered away, was lighter than water, and that they floated
when put into it. A miracle! was instantly exclaimed. It was pronounced
that such a person must be a demoniac or sorcerer; and holy water or the
executioner was immediately sent for. It was an unquestionable proof
that either the demon had become master of the body of the floating
person, or that the latter had voluntarily delivered himself over to the
demon. On the first supposition the person was exorcised, on the second
he was burned. Thus have we been reasoning and acting for a period of
fifteen or sixteen hundred years, and yet we have the effrontery to
laugh at the Kaffirs.

In 1603, in a small village of Franche-Comté, a woman of quality made
her granddaughter read aloud the lives of the saints in the presence of
her parents; this young woman, who was, in some respects, very well
informed, but ignorant of orthography, substituted the word _histories_
for that of _lives_ (_vies_). Her step-mother, who hated her, said to
her in a tone of harshness, "Why don't you read as it is there?" The
girl blushed and trembled, but did not venture to say anything; she
wished to avoid disclosing which of her companions had interpreted the
word upon a false orthography, and prevented her using it. A monk, who
was the family confessor, pretended that the devil had taught her the
word. The girl chose to be silent rather than vindicate herself; her
silence was considered as amounting to confession; the Inquisition
convicted her of having made a compact with the devil: she was condemned
to be burned, because she had a large fortune from her mother, and the
confiscated property went by law to the inquisitors. She was the hundred
thousandth victim of the doctrine of demoniacs, persons possessed by
devils and exorcisms, and of the real devils who swayed the world.


Of all the books written in the western climes of the world, which have
reached our times, Homer is the most ancient. In his works we find the
manners of profane antiquity, coarse heroes, and material gods, made
after the image of man, but mixed up with reveries and absurdities; we
also find the seeds of philosophy, and more particularly the idea of
destiny, or necessity, who is the dominatrix of the gods, as the gods
are of the world.

When the magnanimous Hector determines to fight the magnanimous
Achilles, and runs away with all possible speed, making the circuit of
the city three times, in order to increase his vigor; when Homer
compares the light-footed Achilles, who pursues him, to a man that is
asleep! and when Madame Dacier breaks into a rapture of admiration at
the art and meaning exhibited in this passage, it is precisely then
that Jupiter, desirous of saving the great Hector who has offered up to
him so many sacrifices, bethinks him of consulting the destinies, upon
weighing the fates of Hector and Achilles in a balance. He finds that
the Trojan must inevitably be killed by the Greek, and is not only
unable to oppose it, but from that moment Apollo, the guardian genius of
Hector, is compelled to abandon him. It is not to be denied that Homer
is frequently extravagant, and even on this very occasion displays a
contradictory flow of ideas, according to the privilege of antiquity;
but yet he is the first in whom we meet with the notion of destiny. It
may be concluded, then, that in his days it was a prevalent one.

The Pharisees, among the small nation of Jews, did not adopt the idea of
a destiny till many ages after. For these Pharisees themselves, who were
the most learned class among the Jews, were but of very recent date.
They mixed up, in Alexandria, a portion of the dogmas of the Stoics with
their ancient Jewish ideas. St. Jerome goes so far as to state that
their sect is but a little anterior to our vulgar era.

Philosophers would never have required the aid of Homer, or of the
Pharisees, to be convinced that everything is performed according to
immutable laws, that everything is ordained, that everything is, in
fact, _necessary_. The manner in which they reason is as follows:

Either the world subsists by its own nature, by its own physical laws,
or a Supreme Being has formed it according to His supreme laws: in both
cases these laws are immovable; in both cases everything is necessary;
heavy bodies tend towards the centre of the earth without having any
power or tendency to rest in the air. Pear-trees cannot produce
pine-apples. The instinct of a spaniel cannot be the instinct of an
ostrich; everything is arranged, adjusted, and fixed.

Man can have only a certain number of teeth, hairs, and ideas; and a
period arrives when he necessarily loses his teeth, hair, and ideas.

It is contradictory to say that yesterday should not have been; or that
to-day does not exist; it is just as contradictory to assert that that
which is to come will not inevitably be.

Could you derange the destiny of a single fly there would be no possible
reason why you should not control the destiny of all other flies, of all
other animals, of all men, of all nature. You would find, in fact, that
you were more powerful than God.

Weak-minded persons say: "My physician has brought my aunt safely
through a mortal disease; he has added ten years to my aunt's life."
Others of more judgment say, the prudent man makes his own destiny.

     _Nullum numen abest, si sit Prudentia, sed te_
     _Nos facimus, Fortuna, deam cœoque locamus._
                          --JUVENAL, _Sat_. x. v. 365.

     We call on Fortune, and her aid implore,
     While Prudence is the goddess to adore.

But frequently the prudent man succumbs under his destiny instead of
making it; it is destiny which makes men prudent. Profound politicians
assure us that if Cromwell, Ludlow, Ireton, and a dozen other
parliamentary leaders, had been assassinated eight days before Charles
I. had his head cut off, that king would have continued alive and have
died in his bed; they are right; and they may add, that if all England
had been swallowed up in the sea, that king would not have perished on a
scaffold before Whitehall. But things were so arranged that Charles was
to have his head cut off.

Cardinal d'Ossat was unquestionably more clever than an idiot of the
_petites maisons_; but is it not evident that the organs of the wise
d'Ossat were differently formed than those of that idiot?--Just as the
organs of a fox are different from those of a crane or a lark.

Your physician saved your aunt, but in so doing he certainly did not
contradict the order of nature, but followed it. It is clear that your
aunt could not prevent her birth in a certain place, that she could not
help being affected by a certain malady, at a certain time; that the
physician could be in no other place than where he was, that your aunt
could not but apply to him, that he could not but prescribe medicines
which cured her, or were thought to cure her, while nature was the sole

A peasant thinks that it hailed upon his field by chance; but the
philosopher knows that there was no chance, and that it was absolutely
impossible, according to the constitution of the world, for it not to
have hailed at that very time and place.

There are some who, being shocked by this truth, concede only half of
it, like debtors who offer one moiety of their property to their
creditors, and ask remission for the other. There are, they say, some
events which are necessary, and others which are not so. It would be
curious for one part of the world to be changed and the other not; that
one part of what happens should happen inevitably, and another
fortuitously. When we examine the question closely, we see that the
doctrine opposed to that of destiny is absurd; but many men are destined
to be bad reasoners, others not to reason at all, and others to
persecute those who reason well or ill.

Some caution us by saying, "Do not believe in fatalism, for, if you do,
everything appearing to you unavoidable, you will exert yourself for
nothing; you will sink down in indifference; you will regard neither
wealth, nor honors, nor praise; you will be careless about acquiring
anything whatever; you will consider yourself meritless and powerless;
no talent will be cultivated, and all will be overwhelmed in apathy."

Do not be afraid, gentlemen; we shall always have passions and
prejudices, since it is our destiny to be subjected to prejudices and
passions. We shall very well know that it no more depends upon us to
have great merit or superior talents than to have a fine head of hair,
or a beautiful hand; we shall be convinced that we ought to be vain of
nothing, and yet vain we shall always be.

I have necessarily the passion for writing as I now do; and, as for you,
you have the passion for censuring me; we are both equally fools, both
equally the sport of destiny. Your nature is to do ill, mine is to love
truth, and publish it in spite of you.

The owl, while supping upon mice in his ruined tower, said to the
nightingale, "Stop your singing there in your beautiful arbor, and come
to my hole that I may eat you." The nightingale replied, "I am born to
sing where I am, and to laugh at you."

You ask me what is to become of liberty: I do not understand you; I do
not know what the liberty you speak of really is. You have been so long
disputing about the nature of it that you do not understand it. If you
are willing, or rather, if you are able to examine with me coolly what
it is, turn to the letter L.


The word devout (_dévot_) signifies devoted (_dévoué_), and, in the
strict sense of the term, can only be applicable to monks, and to
females belonging to some religious order and under vows. But as the
gospel makes no mention of vows or devotees, the title should not, in
fact, be given to any person: the whole world ought to be equally just.
A man who calls himself devout is like a plebeian who calls himself a
marquis; he arrogates a quality which does not belong to him; he thinks
himself a better man than his neighbor. We pardon this folly in women;
their weakness and frivolity render them excusable; they pass, poor
things, from a lover to a spiritual director with perfect sincerity, but
we cannot pardon the knaves who direct them, who abuse their ignorance,
and establish the throne of their pride on the credulity of the sex.
They form a snug mystical harem, composed of seven or eight elderly
beauties subjugated by the weight of inoccupation, and almost all these
subjects pay tribute to their new master. No young women without lovers;
no elderly devotee without a director.--Oh, how much more shrewd are the
Orientals than we! A pasha never says, "We supped last night with the
aga of the janissaries, who is my sister's lover; and with the vicar of
the mosque, who is my wife's director."


_Dial of Ahaz._

It is well known that everything is miraculous in the history of the
Jews; the miracle performed in favor of King Hezekiah on the dial of
Ahaz is one of the greatest that ever took place: it is evident that the
whole earth must have been deranged, the course of the stars changed
forever, and the periods of the eclipses of the sun and moon so altered
as to confuse all the ephemerides. This was the second time the prodigy
happened. Joshua had stopped the sun at noon on Gibeon, and the moon on
Ascalon, in order to get time to kill a troop of Amorites already
crushed by a shower of stones from heaven.

The sun, instead of stopping for King Hezekiah, went back, which is
nearly the same thing, only differently described.

In the first place Isaiah said to Hezekiah, who was sick, "Thus saith
the Lord, set thine house in order; for thou shalt die and not live."

Hezekiah wept and God was softened; He signified to him, through Isaiah,
that he should still live fifteen years, and that in three days he
should go to the temple; then Isaiah brought a plaster of figs and put
it on the king's ulcers, and he was cured--"_et curatus est_."

Hezekiah demanded a sign to convince him that he should be cured. Isaiah
said to him, "Shall the shadow go forward ten degrees, or go back ten
degrees?" And Hezekiah answered, "It is a light thing for the shadow to
go down ten degrees; let the shadow return backward ten degrees." And
Isaiah the prophet cried unto the Lord, and He brought the shadow ten
degrees backwards from the point to which it had gone down on the dial
of Ahaz.

We should like to know what this dial of Ahaz was; whether it was the
work of a dialmaker named Ahaz, or whether it was a present made to a
king of that name, it is an object of curiosity. There have been many
disputes on this dial; the learned have proved that the Jews never knew
either clocks or dials before their captivity in Babylon--the only time,
say they, in which they learned anything of the Chaldæans, or the
greater part of the nation began to read or write. It is even known that
in their language they had no words to express clock, dial, geometry, or
astronomy; and in the Book of Kings the dial of Ahaz is called the hour
of the stone.

But the grand question is to know how King Hezekiah, the possessor of
this clock, or dial of the sun--this hour of stone--could tell that it
was easy to advance the sun ten degrees. It is certainly as difficult to
make it advance against its ordinary motion as to make it go backward.

The proposition of the prophet appears as astonishing as the discourse
of the king: Shall the shadow go forward ten degrees, or go back ten
degrees? That would have been well said in some town of Lapland, where
the longest day of the year is twenty hours; but at Jerusalem, where the
longest day of the year is about fourteen hours and a half, ii was
absurd. The king and the prophet deceived each other grossly. We do not
deny the miracle, we firmly believe it; we only remark that Hezekiah and
Isaiah knew not what they said. Whatever the hour, it was a thing
equally impossible to make the shadow of the dial advance or recede ten
hours. If it were two hours after noon, the prophet could, no doubt,
have very well made the shadow of the dial go back to four o'clock in
the morning; but in this case he could not have advanced it ten hours,
since then it would have been midnight, and at that time it is not usual
to have a shadow of the sun in perfection.

It is difficult to discover when this strange history was written, but
perhaps it was towards the time in which the Jews only confusedly knew
that there were clocks and sun-dials. In that case it is true that they
got but a very imperfect knowledge of these sciences until they went to
Babylon. There is a still greater difficulty of which the commentators
have not thought; which is that the Jews did not count by hours as we

The same miracle happened in Greece, the day that Atreus served up the
children of Thyestes for their father's supper.

The same miracle was still more sensibly performed at the time of
Jupiter's intrigue with Alcmena. It required a night double the natural
length to form Hercules. These adventures are common in antiquity, but
very rare in our days, in which all things have degenerated.


The invention of dictionaries, which was unknown to antiquity, is of the
most unquestionable utility; and the "Encyclopædia," which was
suggested by Messrs. d'Alembert and Diderot, and so successfully
completed by them and their associates, notwithstanding all its defects,
is a decisive evidence of it. What we find there under the article
"Dictionary" would be a sufficient instance; it is done by the hand of a

I mean to speak here only of a new species of historical dictionaries,
which contain a series of lies and satires in alphabetical order; such
is the "Historical Literary and Critical Dictionary," containing a
summary of the lives of celebrated men of every description, and printed
in 1758, in six volumes, octavo, without the name of the author.

The compilers of that work begin with declaring that it was undertaken
by the advice of the author of the "Ecclesiastical Gazette," "a
formidable writer," they add, "whose arrow," which had already been
compared to that of Jonathan, "never returned back, and was always
steeped in the blood of the slain, in the carnage of the valiant."--"_A
sanguine interfectorum ab adipe fortium sagitta Jonathæ nunquam abiit

It will, no doubt, be easily admitted that the connection between
Jonathan, the son of Saul, who was killed at the battle of Gilboa, and a
Parisian convulsionary, who scribbles ecclesiastical notices in his
garret, in 1758, is wonderfully striking.

The author of this preface speaks in it of the great Colbert. We should
conceive, at first, that the great statesman who conferred such vast
benefits on France is alluded to; no such thing, it is a bishop of
Montpellier. He complains that no other dictionary has bestowed
sufficient praise on the celebrated Abbé d'Asfeld, the illustrious
Boursier, the famous Genes, the immortal Laborde, and that the lash of
invective on the other hand has not been sufficiently applied to
Languet, archbishop of Sens, and a person of the name of Fillot, all, as
he pretends, men well known from the Pillars of Hercules to the frozen
ocean. He engages to be "animated, energetic, and sarcastic, on a
principle of religion"; that he will make his countenance "sterner than
that of his enemies, and his front harder than their front, according to
the words of Ezekiel," etc.

He declares that he has put in contribution all the journals and all the
anas; and he concludes with hoping that heaven will bestow a blessing on
his labors.

In dictionaries of this description, which are merely party works, we
rarely find what we are in quest of, and often what we are not. Under
the word "Adonis," for example, we learn that Venus fell in love with
him; but not a word about the worship of Adonis, or Adonai among the
Phœnicians--nothing about those very ancient and celebrated
festivals, those lamentations succeeded by rejoicings, which were
manifest allegories, like the feasts of Ceres, of Isis, and all the
mysteries of antiquity.

But, in compensation, we find _Adkichomia_ a devotee, who translated
David's psalms in the sixteenth century; and _Adkichomus_, apparently
her relation, who wrote the life of Jesus Christ in low German.

We may well suppose that all the individuals of the faction which
employed this person are loaded with praise, and their enemies with
abuse. The author, of the crew of authors who have put together this
vocabulary of trash, say of Nicholas Boindin, attorney-general of the
treasures of France, and a member of the Academy of Belles-lettres, that
he was a poet and an atheist.

That magistrate, however, never printed any verses, and never wrote
anything on metaphysics or religion.

He adds that Boindin will be ranked by posterity among the Vaninis, the
Spinozas, and the Hobbeses. He is ignorant that Hobbes never professed
atheism--that he merely subjected religion to the sovereign power, which
he denominates the Leviathan. He is ignorant that Vanini was not an
atheist; that the term "atheist" is not to be found even in the decree
which condemned him; and that he was accused of impiety for having
strenuously opposed the philosophy of Aristotle, and for having disputed
with indiscretion and acrimony against a counsellor of the parliament of
Toulouse, called Francon, or Franconi, who had the credit of getting him
burned to death; for the latter burn whom they please; witness the Maid
of Orleans, Michael Servetus, the Counsellor Dubourg, the wife of
Marshal d'Ancre, Urbain Grandier, Morin, and the books of the
Jansenists. See, moreover, the apology for Vanini by the learned
Lacroze, and the article on "Atheism."

The vocabulary treats Boindin as a miscreant; his relations were
desirous of proceeding at law and punishing an author, who himself so
well deserved the appellation which he so infamously applied to a man
who was not merely a magistrate, but also learned and estimable; but the
calumniator concealed himself, like most libellers, under a fictitious

Immediately after having applied such shameful language to a man
respectable compared with himself, he considers him as an irrefragable
witness, because Boindin--whose unhappy temper was well known--left an
ill-written and exceedingly ill-advised memorial, in which he accuses La
Motte--one of the worthiest men in the world, a geometrician, and an
ironmonger--with having written the infamous verses for which Jean
Baptiste Rousseau was convicted. Finally, in the list of Boindin's
works, he altogether omits his excellent dissertations printed in the
collection of the Academy of Belles-lettres, of which he was a highly
distinguished member.

The article on "Fontenelle" is nothing but a satire upon that ingenious
and learned academician, whose science and talents are esteemed by the
whole of literary Europe. The author has the effrontery to say that "his
'History of Oracles' does no honor to his religion." If Van Dale, the
author of the "History of Oracles," and his abridger, Fontenelle, had
lived in the time of the Greeks and of the Roman republic, it might have
been said with reason that they were rather good philosophers than good
pagans; but, to speak sincerely, what injury do they do to Christianity
by showing that the pagan priests were a set of knaves? Is it not
evident that the authors of the libel, miscalled a dictionary, are
pleading their own cause? "_Jam proximus ardet Ucalegon"_ But would it
be offering an insult to the Christian religion to prove the knavery of
the Convulsionaries? Government has done more; it has punished them
without being accused of irreligion.

The libeller adds that he suspects that Fontenelle never performed the
duties of a Christian but out of contempt for Christianity itself. It is
a strange species of madness on the part of these fanatics to be always
proclaiming that a philosopher cannot be a Christian. They ought to be
excommunicated and punished for this alone; for assuredly it implies a
wish to destroy Christianity to assert that it is impossible for a man
to be a good reasoner and at the same time believe a religion so
reasonable and holy.

Des Yveteaux, preceptor of Louis XIV., is accused of having lived and
died without religion. It seems as if these compilers had none; or at
least as if, while violating all the precepts of the true one, they
were searching about everywhere for accomplices.

The very gentlemanly writer of these articles is wonderfully pleased
with exhibiting all the bad verses that have been written on the French
Academy, and various anecdotes as ridiculous as they are false. This
also is apparently out of zeal for religion.

I ought not to lose an opportunity of refuting an absurd story which has
been much circulated, and which is repeated exceedingly malapropos under
the article of the "Abbé Gedoyn," upon whom the writer falls foul with
great satisfaction, because in his youth he had been a Jesuit; a
transient weakness, of which I know he repented all his life.

The devout and scandalous compiler of the dictionary asserts that the
Abbé Gedoyn slept with the celebrated Ninon de l'Enclos on the very
night of her completing her eightieth year. It certainly was not exactly
befitting in a priest to relate this anecdote in a pretended dictionary
of illustrious men. Such a foolery, however, is in fact highly
improbable; and I can take upon me to assert that nothing can be more
false. The same anecdote was formerly put down to the credit of the Abbé
Chateauneuf, who was not very difficult in his amours, and who, it was
said, had received Ninon's favors when she was of the age of sixty, or,
rather, had conferred upon her his own. In early life I saw a great deal
of the Abbé Gedoyn, the Abbé Chateauneuf, and Mademoiselle de l'Enclos;
and I can truly declare that at the age of eighty years her countenance
bore the most hideous marks of old age--that her person was afflicted
with all the infirmities belonging to that stage of life, and that her
mind was under the influence of the maxims of an austere philosophy.

Under the article on "Deshoulières" the compiler pretends that lady was
the same who was designated under the term prude (_précieuse_) in
Boileau's satire upon women. Never was any woman more free from such
weakness than Madame Deshoulières; she always passed for a woman of the
best society, possessed great simplicity, and was highly agreeable in

The article on "La Motte" abounds with atrocious abuse of that
academician, who was a man of very amiable manners, and a philosophic
poet who produced excellent works of every description. Finally the
author, in order to secure the sale of his book of six volumes, has made
of it a slanderous libel.

His hero is Carré de Montgeron, who presented to the king a collection
of the miracles performed by the Convulsionaries in the cemetery of St.
Médard; who became mad and died insane.

The interest of the republic of literature and reason demands that those
libellers should be delivered up to public indignation, lest their
example, operating upon the sordid love of gain, should stimulate others
to imitation; and the more so, as nothing is so easy as to copy books in
alphabetical order, and add to them insipidities, calumnies, and abuse.

_Extract from the Reflections of an Academician on the "Dictionary of
the French Academy."_

It would be desirable to state the natural and incontestable etymology
of every word, to compare the application, the various significations,
the extent of the word, with use of it; the different acceptations, the
strength or weakness of correspondent terms in foreign languages; and
finally, to quote the best authors who have used the word, to show the
greater or less extent of meaning which they have given to it and to
remark whether it is more fit for poetry than prose.

For example, I have observed that the "inclemency" of the weather is
ridiculous in history, because that term has its origin in the anger of
heaven, which is supposed to be manifested by the intemperateness,
irregularities, and rigors of the seasons, by the violence of the cold,
the disorder of the atmosphere, by tempests, storms, and pestilential
exhalations. Thus then inclemency, being a metaphor, is consecrated to

I have given to the word "impotence" all the acceptations which it
receives. I showed the correctness of the historian, who speaks of the
impotence of King Alphonso, without explaining whether he referred to
that of resisting his brother, or that with which he was charged by his

I have endeavored to show that the epithets "irresistible" and
"incurable" require very delicate management. The first who used the
expression, "the irresistible impulse of genius," made a very fortunate
hit; because, in fact, the question was in relation to a great genius
throwing itself upon its own resources in spite of all difficulties.
Those imitators who have employed the expression in reference to very
inferior men are plagiarists who know not how to dispose of what they

As soon as the man of genius has made a new application of any word in
the language, copyists are not wanting to apply it, very malapropos, in
twenty places, without giving the inventor any credit.

I do not know that a single one of these words, termed by Boileau
"foundlings" (_des mots trouvés_) a single new expression of genius, is
to be found in any tragic author since Racine, until within the last few
years. These words are generally lax, ineffective, stale, and so ill
placed as to produce a barbarous style. To the disgrace of the nation,
these Visigothic and Vandal productions were for a certain time
extolled, panegyrized, and admired in the journals, especially as they
came out under the protection of a certain lady of distinction, who knew
nothing at all about the subject. We have recovered from all this now;
and, with one or two exceptions, the whole race of such productions is
extinct forever.

I did not in the first instance intend to make all these reflections,
but to put the reader in a situation to make them. I have shown at the
letter E that our _e_ mute, with which we are reproached by an Italian,
is precisely what occasions the delicious harmony of our
language:--_empire, couronne, diadème, épouvantable, sensible_. This _e_
mute, which we make perceptible without articulating it, leaves in the
ear a melodious sound like that of a bell which still resounds although
it is no longer struck. This we have already stated in respect to an
Italian, a man of letters, who came to Paris to teach his own language,
and who, while there, ought not to decry ours.

He does not perceive the beauty or necessity of our feminine rhymes;
they are only _e_'s mute. This interweaving of masculine and feminine
rhymes constitutes the charm of our verse.

Similar observations upon the alphabet, and upon words generally, would
not have been without utility; but they would have made the work too


After several weak or tyrannic reigns, the Roman Empire had a good
emperor in Probus, whom the legions massacred, and elected Carus, who
was struck dead by lightning while making war against the Persians. His
son, Numerianus, was proclaimed by the soldiers. The historians tell us
seriously that he lost his sight by weeping for the death of his father,
and that he was obliged to be carried along with the army, shut up in a
close litter. His father-in-law Aper killed him in his bed, to place
himself on the throne; but a druid had predicted in Gaul to Diocletian,
one of the generals of the army, that he would become emperor after
having killed a boar. A boar, in Latin, is _aper_. Diocletian assembled
the army, killed Aper with his own hands in the presence of the
soldiers, and thus accomplished the prediction of the druid. The
historians who relate this oracle deserve to be fed on the fruit of the
tree which the druids revered. It is certain that Diocletian killed the
father-in-law of the emperor, which was his first right to the throne.
Numerianus had a brother named Carinus, who was also emperor, but being
opposed to the elevation of Diocletian, he was killed by one of the
tribunes of his army, which formed his second pretension to the purple.
These were Diocletian's rights to the throne, and for a long time he had
no other.

He was originally of Dalmatia, of the little town of Dioclea, of which
he took the name. If it be true that his father was a laborer, and that
he himself in his youth had been a slave to a senator named Anulinus,
the fact forms his finest eulogium. He could have owed his elevation to
himself alone; and it is very clear that he had conciliated the esteem
of his army, since they forgot his birth to give him the diadem.
Lactantius, a Christian authority, but rather partial, pretends that
Diocletian was the greatest poltroon of the empire. It is not very
likely that the Roman soldiers would have chosen a poltroon to govern
them, or that this poltroon would have passed through all the degrees of
the army. The zeal of Lactantius against a pagan emperor is very
laudable, but not judicious.

Diocletian continued for twenty years the master of those fierce
legions, who dethroned their emperors with as much facility as they
created them; which is another proof, notwithstanding Lactantius, that
he was as great a prince as he was a brave soldier. The empire under him
soon regained its pristine splendor. The Gauls, the Africans, Egyptians,
and British, who had revolted several times, were all brought under
obedience to the empire; even the Persians were vanquished. So much
success without; a still more happy administration within; laws as
humane as wise, which still exist in the Justinian code; Rome, Milan,
Autun, Nicomedia, Carthage, embellished by his munificence; all tended
to gain him the love and respect both of the East and West; so that, two
hundred and forty years after his death, they continued to reckon and
date from the first year of his reign, as they had formerly dated from
the foundation of Rome. This is what is called the era of Diocletian; it
has also been called the era of martyrs; but this is a mistake of
eighteen years, for it is certain that he did not persecute any
Christian for eighteen years. So far from it, the first thing he did,
when emperor, was to give a company of prætorian guards to a Christian
named Sebastian, who is in the list of the saints.

He did not fear to give a colleague to the empire in the person of a
soldier of fortune, like himself; it was Maximian Hercules, his friend.
The similarity of their fortunes had caused their friendship. Maximian
was also born of poor and obscure parents, and had been elevated like
Diocletian, step by step, by his own courage. People have not failed to
reproach this Maximian with taking the surname of Hercules, and
Diocletian with accepting that of Jove. They do not condescend to
perceive that we have clergymen every day who call themselves Hercules,
and peasants denominated Cæsar and Augustus.

Diocletian created two Cæsars; the first was another Maximian, surnamed
Galerius, who had formerly been a shepherd. It seemed that Diocletian,
the proudest of men and the first introducer of kissing the imperial
feet, showed his greatness in placing Cæsars on the throne from men born
in the most abject condition. A slave and two peasants were at the head
of the empire, and never was it more flourishing.

The second Cæsar whom he created was of distinguished birth. He was
Constantius Chlorus, great-nephew, on his mother's side, to the emperor
Claudius II. The empire was governed by these four princes; an
association which might have produced four civil wars a year, but
Diocletian knew so well how to be master of his colleagues, that he
obliged them always to respect him, and even to live united among
themselves. These princes, with the name of Cæsars were in reality no
more than his subjects. It is seen that he treated them like an absolute
sovereign; for when the Cæsar Galerius, having been conquered by the
Persians, went into Mesopotamia to give him the account of his defeat,
he let him walk for the space of a mile near his chariot, and did not
receive him into favor until he had repaired his fault and misfortune.

Galerius retrieved them the year after, in 297, in a very signal manner.
He vanquished the king of Persia in person.

These kings of Persia had not been cured, by the battle of Arbela, of
carrying their wives, daughters, and eunuchs along with their armies.
Galerius, like Alexander, took his enemy's wife and all his family, and
treated them with the same respect. The peace was as glorious as the
victory. The vanquished ceded five provinces to the Romans, from the
sands of Palmyra to Armenia.

Diocletian and Galerius went to Rome to dazzle the inhabitants with a
triumph till then unheard of. It was the first time that the Roman
people had seen the wife and children of a king of Persia in chains. All
the empire was in plenty and prosperity. Diocletian went through all the
provinces, from Rome to Egypt, Syria, and Asia Minor. His ordinary
residence was not at Rome, but at Nicomedia, near the Euxine Sea, either
to watch over the Persians and the barbarians, or because he was
attached to a retreat which he had himself embellished. It was in the
midst of this prosperity that Galerius commenced the persecution against
the Christians. Why had he left them in repose until then, and why were
they then ill treated? Eusebius says that a centurion of the Trajan
legion, named Marcellus, who served in Mauritania, assisting with his
troop at a feast given in honor of the victory of Galerius, threw his
military sash, his arms, and his branch of vine, on the ground, and
cried out loudly that he was a Christian and that he would no longer
serve pagans--a desertion which was punished with death by the council
of war. This was the first known example of the famous persecution of
Diocletian. It is true that there were a great number of Christians in
the armies of the empire, and the interest of the state demanded that
such a desertion should not be allowed. The zeal of Marcellus was pious,
but not reasonable. If at the feast given in Mauritania, viands offered
to the gods of the empire were eaten, the law did not command Marcellus
to eat of them, nor did Christianity order him to set the example of
sedition. There is not a country in the world in which so rash an action
would not have been punished.

However, after the adventure of Marcellus, it does not appear that the
Christians were thought of until the year 303. They had, at Nicomedia, a
superb church, next to the palace, which it exceeded in loftiness.
Historians do not tell us the reasons why Galerius demanded of
Diocletian the instant destruction of this church; but they tell us that
Diocletian was a long time before he determined upon it, and that he
resisted for almost a year. It is very strange that after this he should
be called the _persecutor._ At last the church was destroyed and an
edict was affixed by which the Christians were deprived of all honors
and dignities. Since they were then deprived of them, it is evident that
they possessed them. A Christian publicly tore the imperial edict in
pieces--that was not an act of religion, it was an incitement to revolt.
It is, therefore, very likely that an indiscreet and unreasonable zeal
drew down this fatal persecution. Some time afterwards the palace of
Galerius was burned down; he accused the Christians, and they accused
Galerius of having himself set fire to it, in order to get a pretext for
calumniating them. The accusation of Galerius appeared very unjust; that
which they entered against him was no less so, for the edict having been
already issued, what new pretext could he want? If he really wanted a
new argument to engage Diocletian to persecute, this would only form a
new proof of the reluctance of Diocletian to abandon the Christians,
whom he had always protected; it would evidently show that he wanted new
additional reasons to determine him to so much severity.

It appears certain that there were many Christians tormented in the
empire, but it is difficult to reconcile with the Roman laws the alleged
reported tortures, the mutilations, torn-out tongues, limbs cut and
broiled, and all the insults offered against modesty and public decency.
It is certain that no Roman law ever ordered such punishments; the
aversion of the people to the Christians might carry them to horrible
excesses, but we do not anywhere find that these excesses were ordered,
either by the emperors or the senate.

It is very likely that the suffering of the Christians spread itself in
exaggerated complaints: the "_Acta Sincera_" informs us that the
emperor, being at Antioch, the prætor condemned a Christian child named
Romanus to be burned; that the Jews present at the punishment began to
laugh, saying: "We had formerly three children, Shadrach, Meshach, and
Abednego, who did not burn in the fiery furnace but these do burn." At
that instant, to confound the Jews, a great rain extinguished the pile
and the little boy walked out safe and sound, asking, "Where then is the
fire?" The account goes on to say that the emperor commanded him to be
set free, but that the judge ordered his tongue to be cut out. It is
scarcely possible to believe that the judge would have the tongue of a
boy cut out, whom the emperor had pardoned.

That which follows is more singular. It is pretended that an old
Christian physician named Ariston, who had a knife ready, cut the
child's tongue out to pay his court to the prætor. The little Romanus
was then carried back to prison; the jailer asked him the news. The
child related at length how the old surgeon had cut out his tongue. It
should be observed that before this operation the child stammered very
much but that now he spoke with wonderful volubility. The jailer did not
fail to relate this miracle to the emperor. They brought forward the old
surgeon who swore that the operation had been performed according to the
rules of his art and showed the child's tongue which he had properly
preserved in a box as a relic. "Bring hither another person," said he,
"and I will cut his tongue out in your majesty's presence, and you will
see if he can speak." The proposition was accepted; they took a poor man
whose tongue the surgeon cut out as he had done the child's, and the man
died on the spot.

I am willing to believe that the "Acts" which relate this fact are as
veracious as their title pretends, but they are still more simple than
sincere, and it is very strange that Fleury, in his "Ecclesiastical
History," relates such a prodigious number of similar incidents, being
much more conducive to scandal than edification.

You will also remark that in this year 303, in which it is pretended
that Diocletian was present at this fine affair in Antioch, he was at
Rome and passed all that year in Italy. It is said that it was at Rome,
and in his presence, that St. Genestus, a comedian, was converted on the
stage while playing in a comedy against the Christians. This play shows
clearly that the taste of Plautus and Terence no longer existed; that
which is now called comedy, or Italian farce, seems to have originated
at this time. St. Genestus represented an invalid; the physician asked
him what was the matter with him. "I am too unwieldy," said Genestus.
"Would you have us exorcise you to make you lighter?" said the
physician. "No," replied Genestus, "I will die a Christian, to be raised
again of a finer stature." Then the actors, dressed as priests and
exorcists, came to baptize him, at which moment Genestus really became a
Christian, and, instead of finishing his part, began to preach to the
emperor and the people. The "_Acta Sincera_" relate this miracle also.

It is certain that there were many true martyrs, but it is not true that
the provinces were inundated with blood, as it is imagined. Mention is
made of about two hundred martyrs towards the latter days of Diocletian
in all the extent of the Roman Empire, and it is averred, even in the
letters of Constantine, that Diocletian had much less part in the
persecution than Galerius.

Diocletian fell ill this year and feeling himself weakened he was the
first who gave the world the example of the abdication of empire. It is
not easy to know whether this abdication was forced or not; it is true,
however, that having recovered his health he lived nine years equally
honored and peaceable in his retreat of Salonica, in the country of his
birth. He said that he only began to live from the day of his retirement
and when he was pressed to remount the throne he replied that the
throne was not worth the tranquillity of his life, and that he took more
pleasure in cultivating his garden than he should' have in governing the
whole earth. What can be concluded from these facts but that with great
faults he reigned like a great emperor and finished his life like a



The author of the article "Apocrypha" has neglected to mention a hundred
works recognized for such, and which, being entirely forgotten, seem not
to merit the honor of being in his list. We have thought it right not to
omit St. Dionysius, surnamed the Areopagite, who is pretended to have
been for a long time the disciple of St. Paul, and of one Hierotheus, an
unknown companion of his. He was, it is said, consecrated bishop of
Athens by St. Paul himself. It is stated in his life that he went to
Jerusalem to pay a visit to the holy Virgin and that he found her so
beautiful and majestic that he was strongly tempted to adore her.

After having a long time governed the Church of Athens he went to confer
with St. John the evangelist, at Ephesus, and afterwards with Pope
Clement at Rome; thence he went to exercise his apostleship in France;
and knowing, says the historian, that Paris was a rich, populous, and
abundant town, and like other capitals, he went there to plant a
citadel, to lay hell and infidelity in ruins.

He was regarded for a long time as the first bishop of Paris. Harduinus,
one of his historians, adds that at Paris he was exposed to wild beasts,
but, having made the sign of the cross on them, they crouched at his
feet. The pagan Parisians then threw him into a hot oven from which he
walked out fresh and in perfect health; he was crucified and he began to
preach from the top of the cross.

They imprisoned him with his companions Rusticus and Eleutherus. He
there said mass, St. Rusticus performing the part of deacon and
Eleutherus that of subdeacon. Finally they were all three carried to
Montmartre, where their heads were cut off, after which they no longer
said mass.

But, according to Harduinus, there appeared a still greater miracle. The
body of St. Dionysius took its head in its hands and accompanied by
angels singing "_Gloria tibi, Domine, alleluia_!" carried it as far as
the place where they afterwards built him a church, which is the famous
church of St. Denis.

Mestaphrastus, Harduinus, and Hincmar, bishop of Rheims, say that he was
martyred at the age of ninety-one years, but Cardinal Baronius proves
that he was a hundred and ten, in which opinion he is supported by
Ribadeneira, the learned author of "Flower of the Saints." For our own
part we have no opinion on the subject.

Seventeen works are attributed to him, six of which we have
unfortunately lost; the eleven which remain to us have been translated
from the Greek by Duns Scotus, Hugh de St. Victor, Albert Magnus, and
several other illustrious scholars.

It is true that since wholesome criticism has been introduced into the
world it has been discovered that all the books attributed to Dionysius
were written by an impostor in the year 362 of our era, so that there no
longer remains any difficulty on that head.

_Of the Great Eclipse Noticed by Dionysius._

A fact related by one of the unknown authors of the life of Dionysius
has, above all, caused great dissension among the learned. It is
pretended that this first bishop of Paris, being in Egypt in the town of
Diospolis, or No-Amon, at the age of twenty-five years, before he was a
Christian, he was there, with one of his friends, witness of the famous
eclipse of the sun which happened at the full moon, at the death of
Jesus Christ and that he cried in Greek, "Either God suffers or is
afflicted at the sufferings of the criminal."

These words have been differently related by different authors, but in
the time of Eusebius of Cæsarea it is pretended that two historians--the
one named Phlegon and the other Thallus--had made mention of this
miraculous eclipse. Eusebius of Cæsarea quotes Phlegon, but we have none
of his works now existing. He said--at least it is pretended so--that
this eclipse happened in the fourth year of the two hundredth Olympiad,
which would be the eighteenth year of Tiberius's reign. There are
several versions of this anecdote; we distrust them all and much more
so, if it were possible to know whether they reckoned by Olympiads in
the time of Phlegon, which is very doubtful.

This important calculation interested all the astronomers. Hodgson,
Whiston, Gale, Maurice, and the famous Halley, demonstrated that there
was no eclipse of the sun in this first year, but that on November 24th
in the year of the hundred and second Olympiad an eclipse took place
which obscured the sun for two minutes, at a quarter past one, at

It has been carried still further: a Jesuit named Greslon pretended that
the Chinese preserved in their annals the account of an eclipse which
happened near that time, contrary to the order of nature. They desired
the mathematicians of Europe to make a calculation of it; it was
pleasant enough to desire the astronomists to calculate an eclipse which
was not natural. Finally it was discovered that these Chinese annals do
not in any way speak of this eclipse.

It appears from the history of St. Dionysius the Areopagite, the passage
from Phlegon, and from the letter of the Jesuit Greslon that men like to
impose upon one another. But this prodigious multitude of lies, far from
harming the Christian religion, only serves, on the contrary, to show
its divinity, since it is more confirmed every day in spite of them.


We will commence with Herodotus as the most ancient. When Henry Stephens
entitled his comic rhapsody "The Apology of Herodotus," we know that his
design was not to justify the tales of this father of history; he only
sports with us and shows that the enormities of his own times were worse
than those of the Egyptians and Persians. He made use of the liberty
which the Protestants assumed against those of the Catholic, Apostolic,
and Roman churches. He sharply reproaches them with their debaucheries,
their avarice, their crimes expiated by money, their indulgences
publicly sold in the taverns, and the false relics manufactured by their
own monks, calling them idolaters. He ventures to say that if the
Egyptians adored cats and onions, the Catholics adore the bones of the
dead. He dares to call them in his preliminary discourses, "theophages,"
and even "theokeses." We have fourteen editions of this book, for we
relish general abuse, just as much as we resent that which we deem
special and personal.

Henry Stephens made use of Herodotus only to render us hateful and
ridiculous; we have quite a contrary design. We pretend to show that the
modern histories of our good authors since Guicciardini are in general
as wise and true as those of Herodotus and Diodorus are foolish and

1. What does the father of history mean by saying in the beginning of
his work, "the Persian historians relate that the Phœnicians were the
authors of all the wars. From the Red Sea they entered ours," etc.? It
would seem that the Phœnicians, having embarked at the Isthmus of
Suez, arrived at the straits of Babel-Mandeb, coasted along Ethiopia,
passed the line, doubled the Cape of Tempests, since called the Cape of
Good Hope, returned between Africa and America, repassed the line and
entered from the ocean into the Mediterranean by the Pillars of
Hercules, a voyage of more than four thousand of our long marine leagues
at a time when navigation was in its infancy.

2. The first exploit of the Phœnicians was to go towards Argos to
carry off the daughter of King Inachus, after which the Greeks, in their
turn, carried off Europa, the daughter of the king of Tyre.

3. Immediately afterwards comes Candaules, king of Lydia, who, meeting
with one of his guards named Gyges, said to him, "Thou must see my wife
quite naked; it is absolutely essential." The queen, learning that she
had been thus exposed, said to the soldier, "You shall either die or
assassinate my husband and reign with me." He chose the latter
alternative, and the assassination was accomplished without difficulty.

4. Then follows the history of Arion, carried on the back of a dolphin
across the sea from the skirts of Calabria to Cape Matapan, an
extraordinary voyage of about a hundred leagues.

5. From tale to tale--and who dislikes tales?--we arrive at the
infallible oracle of Delphi, which somehow foretold that Crœsus would
cook a quarter of lamb and a tortoise in a copper pan and that he would
be dethroned by a mullet.

6. Among the inconceivable absurdities with which ancient history
abounds is there anything approaching the famine with which the Lydians
were tormented for twenty-eight years? This people, whom Herodotus
describes as being richer in gold than the Peruvians, instead of buying
food from foreigners, found no better expedient than that of amusing
themselves every other day with the ladies without eating for
eight-and-twenty successive years.

7. Is there anything more marvellous than the history of Cyrus? His
grandfather, the Mede Astyages, with a Greek name, dreamed that his
daughter Mandane--another Greek name--inundated all Asia; at another
time, that she produced a vine, of which all Asia ate the grapes, and
thereupon the good man Astyages ordered one Harpagos, another Greek, to
murder his grandson Cyrus--for what grandfather would not kill his
posterity after dreams of this nature?

8. Herodotus, no less a good naturalist than an exact historian, does
not fail to tell us that near Babylon the earth produced three hundred
ears of wheat for one. I know a small country which yields three for
one. I should like to have been transported to Diabek when the Turks
were driven from it by Catherine II. It has fine corn also but returns
not three hundred ears for one.

9. What has always seemed to me decent and edifying in Herodotus is the
fine religious custom established in Babylon of which we have already
spoken--that of all the married women going to prostitute themselves in
the temple of Mylitta for money, to the first stranger who presented
himself. We reckon two millions of inhabitants in this city; the
devotion must have been ardent. This law is very probable among the
Orientals who have always shut up their women, and who, more than six
ages before Herodotus, instituted eunuchs to answer to them for the
chastity of their wives. I must no longer proceed numerically; we should
very soon indeed arrive at a hundred.

All that Diodorus of Sicily says seven centuries after Herodotus is of
the same value in all that regards antiquities and physics. The Abbé
Terrasson said, "I translate the text of Diodorus in all its
coarseness." He sometimes read us part of it at the house of de Lafaye,
and when we laughed, he said, "You are resolved to misconstrue; it was
quite the contrary with Dacier."

The finest part of Diodorus is the charming description of the island of
Panchaica--"Panchaica Tellus," celebrated by Virgil: "There were groves
of odoriferous trees as far as the eye could see, myrrh and frankincense
to furnish the whole world without exhausting it; fountains, which
formed an infinity of canals, bordered with flowers, besides unknown
birds, which sang under the eternal shades; a temple of marble four
thousand feet long, ornamented with columns, colossal statues," etc.

This puts one in mind of the Duke de la Ferté, who, to flatter the taste
of the Abbé Servien, said to him one day, "Ah, if you had seen my son
who died at fifteen years of age! What eyes! what freshness of
complexion! what an admirable stature! the Antinous of Belvidere
compared to him was only like a Chinese baboon, and as to sweetness of
manners, he had the most engaging I ever met with." The Abbé Servien
melted, the duke of Ferté, warmed by his own words, melted also, both
began to weep, after which he acknowledged that he never had a son.

A certain Abbé Bazin, with his simple common sense, doubts another tale
of Diodorus. It is of a king of Egypt, Sesostris, who probably existed
no more than the island of Panchaica. The father of Sesostris, who is
not named, determined on the day that he was born that he would make him
the conqueror of all the earth as soon as he was of age. It was a
notable project. For this purpose he brought up with him all the boys
who were born on the same day in Egypt, and, to make them conquerors,
he did not suffer them to have their breakfasts until they had run a
hundred and eighty stadia, which is about eight of our long leagues.

When Sesostris was of age he departed with his racers to conquer the
world. They were then about seventeen hundred and probably half were
dead, according to the ordinary course of nature--and, above all, of the
nature of Egypt, which was desolated by a destructive plague at least
once in ten years.

There must have been three thousand four hundred boys born in Egypt on
the same day as Sesostris, and as nature produces almost as many girls
as boys, there must have been six thousand persons at least born on that
day. But women were confined every day, and six thousand births a day
produce, at the end of the year, two millions one hundred and ninety
thousand children. If you multiply by thirty-four, according to the rule
of Kersseboom, you would have in Egypt more than seventy-four millions
of inhabitants in a country which is not so large as Spain or France.

All this appeared monstrous to the Abbé Bazin, who had seen a little of
the world, and who judged only by what he had seen.

But one Larcher, who was never outside of the college of Mazarin arrayed
himself with great animation on the side of Sesostris and his runners.
He pretends that Herodotus, in speaking of the Greeks, does not reckon
by the stadia of Greece, and that the heroes of Sesostris only ran four
leagues before breakfast. He overwhelms poor Abbé Bazin with injurious
names such as no scholar in _us_ or _es_ had ever before employed. He
does not hold with the seventeen hundred boys, but endeavors to prove by
the prophets that the wives, daughters, and nieces of the king of
Babylon, of the satraps, and the magi, resorted, out of pure devotion,
to sleep for money in the aisles of the temple of Babylon with all the
camel-drivers and muleteers of Asia. He treats all those who defend the
honor of the ladies of Babylon as bad Christians, condemned souls, and
enemies to the state.

He also takes the part of the goat, so much in the good graces of the
young female Egyptians. It is said that his great reason was that he was
allied, by the female side, to a relation of the bishop of Meaux,
Bossuet, the author of an eloquent discourse on "Universal History"; but
this is not a peremptory reason.

Take care of the extraordinary stories of all kinds. Diodorus of Sicily
was the greatest compiler of these tales. This Sicilian had not a grain
of the temper of his countryman Archimedes, who sought and found so many
mathematical truths.

Diodorus seriously examines the history of the Amazons and their queen
Theaestris; the history of the Gorgons, who fought against the Amazons;
that of the Titans, and that of all the gods. He searches into the
history of Priapus and Hermaphroditus. No one could give a better
account of Hercules: this hero wandered through half the earth,
sometimes on foot and alone like a pilgrim, and sometimes like a general
at the head of a great army, and all his labors are faithfully
discussed, but this is nothing in comparison with the gods of Crete.

Diodorus justifies Jupiter from the reproach which other grave
historians have passed upon him, of having dethroned and mutilated his
father. He shows how Jupiter fought the giants, some in his island,
others in Phrygia, and afterwards in Macedonia and Italy; the number of
children which he had by his sister Juno and his favorites are not

He describes how he afterwards became a god, and the supreme god. It is
thus that all the ancient histories have been written. What is more
remarkable, they were sacred; if they had not been sacred, they would
never have been read.

It is clear that it would be very useful if in all they were all
different, and from province to province, and island to island, each had
a different history of the gods, demi-gods, and heroes, from that of
their neighbors. But it should also be observed that the people never
fought for this mythology.

The respectable history of Thucydides, which has several glimmerings of
truth, begins at Xerxes, but, before that epoch how much time was


It is neither of a director of finances, a director of hospitals, nor a
director of the royal buildings that I pretend to speak, but of a
director of conscience, for that directs all the others: it is the
preceptor of human kind; it knows and teaches all that should be done or
omitted in all possible cases.

It is clear that it would be very useful if in all courts there were one
conscientious man whom the monarch secretly consulted on most occasions,
and who would boldly say, "_Non licet_." Louis the Just would not then
have begun his mischievous and unhappy reign by assassinating his first
minister and imprisoning his mother. How many wars, unjust as fatal, a
few good dictators would have spared! How many cruelties they would have

But often, while intending to consult a lamb, we consult a fox. Tartuffe
was the director of Orgon. I should like to know who was the
conscientious director of the massacre of St. Bartholomew.

The gospel speaks no more of directors than of confessors. Among the
people whom our ordinary courtesy calls Pagans we do not see that
Scipio, Fabricius, Cato, Titus, Trajan, or the Antonines had directors.
It is well to have a scrupulous friend to remind you of your duty. But
your conscience ought to be the chief of your council.

A Huguenot was much surprised when a Catholic lady told him that she had
a confessor to absolve her from her sins and a director to prevent her
committing them. "How can your vessel so often go astray, madam," said
he, "having two such good pilots?"

The learned observe that it is not the privilege of every one to have a
director. It is like having an equerry; it only belongs to ladies of
quality. The Abbé Gobelin, a litigious and covetous man, directed Madame
de Maintenon only. The directors of Paris often serve four or five
devotees at once; they embroil them with their husbands, sometimes with
their lovers, and occasionally fill the vacant places.

Why have the women directors and the men none? It was possibly owing to
this distinction that Mademoiselle de la Vallière became a Carmelite
when she was quitted by Louis XIV., and that M. de Turenne, being
betrayed by Madame de Coetquin, did _not_ make himself a monk.

St. Jerome, and Rufinus his antagonist, were great directors of women
and girls. They did not find a Roman senator or a military tribune to
govern. These people profited by the devout facility of the feminine
gender. The men had too much beard on their chins and often too much
strength of mind for them. Boileau has given the portrait of a director
in his "Satire on Women," but might have said something much more to the


There have been disputes at all times, on all subjects:--"_Mundum
tradidit disputationi eorum."_ There have been violent quarrels about
whether the whole is greater than a part; whether a body can be in
several places at the same time; whether the whiteness of snow can exist
without snow, or the sweetness of sugar without sugar; whether there can
be thinking without a head, etc.

I doubt not that as soon as a Jansenist shall have written a book to
demonstrate that one and two are three, a Molinist will start up and
demonstrate that two and one are five.

We hope to please and instruct the reader by laying before him the
following verses on "Disputation." They are well known to every man of
taste in Paris, but they are less familiar to those among the learned
who still dispute on gratuitous predestination, concomitant grace, and
that momentous question--whether the mountains were produced by the sea.


      Each brain its thought, each season has its mode;
        Manners and fashions alter every day;
        Examine for yourself what others say;--
      This privilege by nature is bestowed;--
      But, oh! dispute not--the designs of heaven
      To mortal insight never can be given.
      What is the knowledge of this world worth knowing?
      What, but a bubble scarcely worth the blowing?
      "Quite full of errors was the world before;"
      Then, to preach reason is but one error more.

      Viewing this earth from Luna's elevation,
      Or any other convenient situation,
      What shall we see? The various tricks of man.
      _Here_ is a synod--_there_ is a divan;
      Behold the mufti, dervish, iman, bonze,
      The lama and the pope on equal thrones.
      The modern doctor and the ancient rabbi,
      The monk, the priest, and the expectant abbé:
      If you are disputants, my friends, pray travel--
      When you come home again, you'll cease to cavil.

      That wild Ambition should lay waste the earth,
      Or Beauty's glance give civil discord birth;
      That, in our courts of equity, a suit
      Should hang in doubt till ruin is the fruit;
      That an old country priest should deeply groan,
      To see a benefice he'd thought his own
      Borne off by a court abbé; that a poet
      Should feel most envy when he least should show it;
      And, when another's play the public draws,
      Should grin damnation while he claps applause;
      With this, and more, the human heart is fraught--
      But whence the rage to rule another's thought;
      Say, wherefore--in what way--can you design
      To make _your_ judgment give the law to _mine_?

      But chiefly I detest those tiresome elves,
      Half-learned critics, worshipping themselves,
      Who, with the utmost weight of all their lead,
      Maintain against you what yourself have said;
      Philosophers--and poets--and musicians--
      Great statesmen--deep in third and fourth editions--
      They know all--read all--and (the greatest curse)
      They _talk_ of all--from politics to verse;
      On points of taste they'll contradict Voltaire;
      In law e'en Montesquieu they will not spare;
      They'll tutor Broglio in affairs of arms;
      And teach the charming d'Egmont higher charms.
      See them, alike in great and small things clever,
      Replying constantly, though answering never;
      Hear them assert, repeat, affirm, aver,
      Wax wroth. And wherefore all this mighty stir?
      This the great theme that agitates their breast--
      Which of two wretched rhymesters rhymes the best?

      Pray, gentle reader, did you chance to know
      One Monsieur d'Aube, who died not long ago?
      One whom the disputatious mania woke
      Early each morning? If, by chance, you spoke
      Of your own part in some well-fought affair,
      Better than you he knew how, when, and where;
      What though your own the deed and the renown?
      His "letters from the army" put you down;
      E'en Richelieu he'd have told--if he attended--
      How Mahon fell, or Genoa was defended.
      Although he wanted neither wit nor sense,
      His every visit gave his friends offence;
      I've seen him, raving in a hot dispute,
      Exhaust their logic, force them to be mute,
      Or, if their patience were entirely spent,
      Rush from the room to give their passion vent.
      His kinsmen, whom his property allured,
      At last were wearied, though they long endured.
      His neighbors, less athletic than himself,
      For health's sake laid him wholly on the shelf.
      Thus, 'midst his many virtues, this one failing
      Brought his old age to solitary wailing;--
      For solitude to him was deepest woe--
      A sorrow which the peaceful ne'er can know
      At length, to terminate his cureless grief,
      A mortal fever came to his relief,
      Caused by the great, the overwhelming pang,
      Of hearing in the church a long harangue
      Without the privilege of contradiction;
      So, yielding to this crowning dire affliction,
      His spirit fled. But, in the grasp of death,
      'Twas some small solace, with his parting breath,
      To indulge once more his ruling disposition
      By arguing with the priest and the physician.

      Oh! may the Eternal goodness grant him now
      The rest _he_ ne'er to mortals would allow!
      If, even there, he like not disputation
      Better than uncontested, calm salvation.

             *       *       *       *       *

      But see, my friends, this bold defiance made
      To every one of the disputing trade,
      With a young bachelor their skill to try;
      And God's own essence shall the theme supply.

      Come and behold, as on the theatric stage,
      The pitched encounter, the contending rage;
      Dilemmas, enthymemes, in close array--
      Two-edged weapons, cutting either way;
      The strong-built syllogism's pondering might,
      The sophism's vain ignis fatuus light;
      Hot-headed monks, whom all the doctors dread,
      And poor Hibernians arguing for their bread,
      Fleeing their country's miseries and morasses
      To live at Paris on disputes and masses;
      While the good public lend their strict attention
      To what soars far above their sober comprehension.

      Is, then, all arguing frivolous or absurd?
      Was Socrates himself not sometimes heard
      To hold an argument amidst a feast?
      E'en naked in the bath he hardly ceased.
      Was this a failing in his mental vision?
      Genius is sure discovered by collision;
      The cold hard flint by one quick blow is fired;--
      Fit emblem of the close and the retired,
      Who, in the keen dispute struck o'er and o'er,
      Acquire a sudden warmth unfelt before.

      All this, I grant, is good. But mark the ill:
      Men by disputing have grown blinder still.
      The crooked mind is like the squinting eye:
      How can you make it see _itself_ awry?
      Who's in the wrong? Will any answer "I"?
      Our words, our efforts, are an idle breath;
      Each hugs his darling notion until death;
      Opinions ne'er are altered; all we do
      Is, _to arouse conflicting passions, too_.
      Not truth itself should always find a tongue;
      "To be too stanchly right, is to be wrong."

             *       *       *       *       *

      In earlier days, by vice and crime unstained,
      Justice and Truth, two naked sisters, reigned;
      But long since fled--as every one can tell--
      Justice to heaven and Truth into a well.

      Now vain Opinion governs every age,
      And fills poor mortals with fantastic rage.
      Her airy temple floats upon the clouds;
      Gods, demons, antic sprites, in countless crowds,
      Around her throne--a strange and motley mask--
      Ply busily their never-ceasing task,
      To hold up to mankind's admiring gaze
      A thousand nothings in a thousand ways;
      While, wafted on by all the winds that blow,
      Away the temple and the goddess go.
      A mortal, as her course uncertain turns,
      To-day is worshipped, and to-morrow burns.
      We scoff, that young Antinous once had priests;
      We think our ancestors were worse than beasts;
      And he who treats each modern custom ill,
      Does but what future ages surely will.
      What female face has Venus smiled upon?
      The Frenchman turns with rapture to Brionne,
      Nor can believe that men were wont to bow
      To golden tresses and a narrow brow.
      And thus is vagabond Opinion seen
      To sway o'er Beauty--this world's other queen!
        How can we hope, then, that she e'er will quit
      Her vapory throne, to seek some sage's feet,
      And Truth from her deep hiding-place remove,
      Once more to witness what is done above?

      And for the learned--even for the wise--
      Another snare of false delusion lies;
      That rage for systems, which, in dreamy thought,
      Frames magic universes out of naught;
      Building ten errors on one truth's foundation.
      So he who taught the art of calculation,
      In one of these illusive mental slumbers,
      Foolishly sought the Deity in numbers;
      The first mechanic, from as wild a notion,
      Would rule man's freedom by the laws of motion.
      This globe, says one, is an extinguished sun;

      No, says another, 'tis a globe of glass;
      And when the fierce contention's once begun,

      Book upon book--a vast and useless mass--On
      Science's altar are profusely strewn,
      While Disputation sits on Wisdom's throne.

      And then, from contrarieties of speech,
      What countless feuds have sprung! For you may teach,
      In the same words, two doctrines different quite
      As day from darkness, or as wrong from right.
      This has indeed been man's severest curse;
      Famine and pestilence have not been worse,
      Nor e'er have matched the ills whose aggravations
      Have scourged the world through misinterpretations.

      How shall I paint the conscientious strife?
        The holy transports of each heavenly soul--
      Fanaticism wasting human life
        With torch, with dagger, and with poisoned bow;
      The ruined hamlet and the blazing town,
        Homes desolate, and parents massacred,
        And temples in the Almighty's honor reared
      The scene of acts that merit most his frown!
      Rape, murder, pillage, in one frightful storm,
        Pleasure with carnage horribly combined,
        The brutal ravisher amazed to find
      A sister in his victim's dying form!

      Sons by their fathers to the scaffold led;
      The vanquished always numbered with the dead.
      Oh, God, permit that all the ills we know
      May one day pass for merely fabled woe!

      But see, an angry disputant steps forth--
        His humble mien a proud heart ill conceals
      In holy guise inclining to the earth,
        Offering to God the venom he distils.
      "Beneath all this a dangerous poison lies;
        So--every man is neither right nor wrong,
      And, since we never can be truly wise,
        By instinct only should be driven along."
      "Sir, I've not said a word to that effect."
        "It's true, you've artfully disguised your meaning."
      "But, Sir, my judgment ever is correct."
        "Sir, in this case, 'tis rather overweening.
      Let truth be sought, but let all passion yield;
        'Discussion's right, and disputation's wrong;'
      This have I said--and that at court, in field,
        Or town, one often should restrain one's tongue."
      "But, my dear Sir, you've still a double sense;
        I can distinguish--" "Sir, with all my heart;
      I've told my thoughts with all due deference,
        And crave the like indulgence on your part."
      "My son, all 'thinking' is a grievous crime;
      So I'll denounce you without loss of time."

      Blest would be they who, from fanatic power,
        From carping censors, envious critics, free,
        O'er Helicon might roam in liberty,
      And unmolested pluck each fragrant flower!
      So does the farmer, in his healthy fields,
        Far from the ills in swarming towns that spring,
      Taste the pure joys that our existence yields,
        Extract the honey and escape the sting.

[Illustration: "Truth from her deep hiding-place remove once more to
witness what is done above"]


A man who knows how to reckon the paces from one end of his house to the
other might imagine that nature had all at once taught him this distance
and that he has only need of a _coup d'œil_, as in the case of
colors. He is deceived; the different distances of objects can be known
only by experience, comparison, and habit. It is that which makes a
sailor, on seeing a vessel afar off, able to say without hesitation what
distance his own vessel is from it, of which distance a passenger would
only form a very confused idea.

Distance is only the line from a given object to ourselves. This line
terminates at a point; and whether the object be a thousand leagues from
us or only a foot, this point is always the same to our eyes.

We have then no means of directly perceiving distances, as we have of
ascertaining by the touch whether a body is hard or soft; by the taste,
if it is bitter or sweet; or by the ear, whether of two sounds the one
is grave and the other lively. For if I duly notice, the parts of a body
which give way to my fingers are the immediate cause of my sensation of
softness, and the vibrations of the air, excited by the sonorous body,
are the immediate cause of my sensation of sound. But as I cannot have
an immediate idea of distance I must find it out by means of an
intermediate idea, but it is necessary that this intermediate idea be
clearly understood, for it is only by the medium of things known that we
can acquire a notion of things unknown.

I am told that such a house is distant a mile from such a river, but if
I do not know where this river is I certainly do not know where the
house is situated. A body yields easily to the impression of my hand: I
conclude immediately that it is soft. Another resists, I feel at once
its hardness. I ought therefore to feel the angles formed in my eye in
order to determine the distance of objects. But most men do not even
know that these angles exist; it is evident, therefore, that they cannot
be the immediate cause of our ascertaining distances.

He who, for the first time in his life, hears the noise of a cannon or
the sound of a concert, cannot judge whether the cannon be fired or the
concert be performed at the distance of a league or of twenty paces. He
has only the experience which accustoms him to judge of the distance
between himself and the place whence the noise proceeds. The vibrations,
the undulations of the air carry a sound to his ears, or rather to his
sensorium, but this noise no more carries to his sensorium the place
whence it proceeds than it teaches him the form of the cannon or of the
musical instruments. It is the same thing precisely with regard to the
rays of light which proceed from an object, but which do not at all
inform us of its situation.

Neither do they inform us more immediately of magnitude or form. I see
from afar a little round tower. I approach, perceive, and touch a great
quadrangular building. Certainly, this which I now see and touch cannot
be that which I saw before. The little round tower which was before my
eyes cannot be this large, square building. One thing in relation to us
is the measurable and tangible object; another, the visible object. I
hear from my chamber the noise of a carriage, I open my window and see
it. I descend and enter it. Yet this carriage that I have heard, this
carriage that I have seen, and this carriage which I have touched are
three objects absolutely distinct to three of my senses, which have no
immediate relation to one another.

Further; it is demonstrated that there is formed in my eye an angle a
degree larger when a thing is near, when I see a man four feet from me
than when I see the same man at a distance of eight feet. However, I
always see this man of the same size. How does my mind thus contradict
the mechanism of my organs? The object is really a degree smaller to my
eyes, and yet I see it the same. It is in vain that we attempt to
explain this mystery by the route which the rays follow or by the form
taken by the crystalline humor of the eye. Whatever may be supposed to
the contrary, the angle at which I see a man at four feet from me is
always nearly double the angle at which I see him at eight feet. Neither
geometry nor physics will explain this difficulty.

These geometrical lines and angles are not really more the cause of our
seeing objects in their proper places than that we see them of a certain
size and at a certain distance. The mind does not consider that if this
part were to be painted at the bottom of the eye it could collect
nothing from lines that it saw not. The eye looks down only to see that
which is near the ground, and is uplifted to see that which is above the
earth. All this might be explained and placed beyond dispute by any
person born blind, to whom the sense of sight was afterwards attained.
For if this blind man, the moment that he opens his eyes, can correctly
judge of distances, dimensions, and situations, it would be true that
the optical angles suddenly formed in his retina were the immediate
cause of his decisions. Doctor Berkeley asserts, after Locke--going even
further than Locke--that neither situation, magnitude, distance, nor
figure would be discerned by a blind man thus suddenly gifted with

In fact, a man born blind was found in 1729, by whom this question was
indubitably decided. The famous Cheselden, one of those celebrated
surgeons who join manual skill to the most enlightened minds, imagined
that he could give sight to this blind man by couching, and proposed the
operation. The patient was with great difficulty brought to consent to
it. He did not conceive that the sense of sight could much augment his
pleasures, except that he desired to be able to read and to write, he
cared indeed little about seeing. He proved by this indifference that it
is impossible to be rendered unhappy by the privation of pleasures of
which we have never formed an idea--a very important truth. However this
may be, the operation was performed, and succeeded. This young man at
fourteen years of age saw the light for the first time, and his
experience confirmed all that Locke and Berkeley had so ably foreseen.
For a long time he distinguished neither dimensions, distance, nor
form. An object about the size of an inch, which was placed before his
eyes, and which concealed a house from him, appeared as large as the
house itself. All that he saw seemed to touch his eyes, and to touch
them as objects of feeling touch the skin. He could not at first
distinguish that which, by the aid of his hands, he had thought round
from that which he had supposed square, nor could he discern with his
eyes if that which his hands had felt to be tall and short were so in
reality. He was so far from knowing anything about magnitude that after
having at last conceived by his sight that his house was larger than his
chamber, he could not conceive how sight could give him this idea. It
was not until after two months' experience he could discover that
pictures represented existing bodies, and when, after this long
development of his new sense in him, he perceived that bodies, and not
surfaces only, were painted in the pictures, he took them in his hands
and was astonished at not finding those solid bodies of which he had
begun to perceive the representation, and demanded which was the
deceived, the sense of feeling or that of sight.

Thus was it irrevocably decided that the manner in which we see things
follows not immediately from the angles formed in the eye. These
mathematical angles were in the eyes of this man the same as in our own
and were of no use to him without the help of experience and of his
other senses.

The adventure of the man born blind was known in France towards the year
1735. The author of the "Elements of Newton," who had seen a great deal
of Cheselden, made mention of this important discovery, but did not take
much notice of it. And even when the same operation of the cataract was
performed at Paris on a young man who was said to have been deprived of
sight from his cradle, the operators neglected to attend to the daily
development of the sense of sight in him and to the progress of nature.
The fruit of this operation was therefore lost to philosophy.

How do we represent to ourselves dimensions and distances? In the same
manner that we imagine the passions of men by the colors with which they
vary their countenances, and by the alteration which they make in their
features. There is no person who cannot read joy or grief on the
countenance of another. It is the language that nature addresses to all
eyes, but experience only teaches this language. Experience alone
teaches us that, when an object is too far, we see it confusedly and
weakly, and thence we form ideas, which always afterwards accompany the
sensation of sight. Thus every man who at ten paces sees his horse five
feet high, if, some minutes after, he sees this horse of the size of a
sheep, by an involuntary judgment immediately concludes that the horse
is much farther from him.

It is very true that when I see my horse of the size of a sheep a much
smaller picture is formed in my eye--a more acute angle; but it is a
fact which accompanies, not causes, my opinion. In like manner, it makes
a different impression on my brain, when I see a man blush from shame
and from anger; but these different impressions would tell me nothing of
what was passing in this man's mind, without experience, whose voice
alone is attended to.

So far from the angle being the immediate cause of my thinking that a
horse is far off when I see it very small, it happens that I see my
horse equally large at ten, twenty, thirty, or forty paces, though the
angle at ten paces may be double, treble, or quadruple. I see at a
distance, through a small hole, a man posted on the top of a house; the
remoteness and fewness of the rays at first prevent me from
distinguishing that it is a man; the object appears to me very small. I
think I see a statue two feet high at most; the object moves; I then
judge that it is a man; and from that instant the man appears to me of
his ordinary size. Whence come these two judgments so different? When I
believed that I saw a statue, I imagined it to be two feet high, because
I saw it at such an angle; experience had not led my mind to falsify the
traits imprinted on my retina; but as soon as I judged that it was a
man, the association established in my mind by experience between a man
and his known height of five or six feet, involuntarily obliged me to
imagine that I saw one of a certain height; or, in fact, that I saw the
height itself.

It must therefore be absolutely concluded, that distance, dimension, and
situation are not, properly speaking, visible things; that is to say,
the proper and immediate objects of sight. The proper and immediate
object of sight is nothing but colored light; all the rest we only
discover by long acquaintance and experience. We learn to see precisely
as we learn to speak and to read. The difference is, that the art of
seeing is more easy, and that nature is equally mistress of all.

The sudden and almost uniform judgments which, at a certain age, our
minds form of distance, dimension, and situation, make us think that we
have only to open our eyes to see in the manner in which we do see. We
are deceived; it requires the help of the other senses. If men had only
the sense of sight, they would have no means of knowing extent in
length, breadth, and depth, and a pure spirit perhaps would not know it,
unless God revealed it to him. It is very difficult, in our
understanding, to separate the extent of an object from its color. We
never see anything but what is extended, and from that we are led to
believe that we really see the extent. We can scarcely distinguish in
our minds the yellow that we see in a _louis d'or_ from the _louis d'or_
in which we see the yellow. In the same manner, as when we hear the word
"_louis d'or_" pronounced, we cannot help attaching the idea of the
money to the word which we hear spoken.

If all men spoke the same language, we should be always ready to believe
in a necessary connection between words and ideas. But all men in fact
do possess the same language of imagination. Nature says to them all:
When you have seen colors for a certain time, imagination will represent
the bodies to which these colors appear attached to all alike. This
prompt and summary judgment once attained will be of use to you during
your life; for if to estimate the distances, magnitudes, and situations
of all that surrounds you, it were necessary to examine the visual
angles and rays, you would be dead before you had ascertained whether
the things of which you have need were ten paces from you or a hundred
thousand leagues, and whether they were of a size of a worm or of a
mountain. It would be better to be born blind.

We are then, perhaps, very wrong, when we say that our senses deceive
us. Every one of our senses performs the function for which it was
destined by nature. They mutually aid one another to convey to our
minds, through the medium of experience, the measure of knowledge that
our being allows. We ask from our senses what they are not made to give
us. We would have our eyes acquaint us with solidity, dimension,
distance, etc.; but it is necessary for the touch to agree for that
purpose with the sight, and that experience should second both. If
Father Malebranche had looked at this side of nature, he would perhaps
have attributed fewer errors to our senses, which are the only sources
of all our ideas.

We should not, however, extend this species of metaphysics to every case
before us. We should only call it to our aid when the mathematics are


The Socinians, who are regarded as blasphemers, do not recognize the
divinity of Jesus Christ. They dare to pretend, with the philosophers of
antiquity, with the Jews, the Mahometans, and most other nations, that
the idea of a god-man is monstrous; that the distance from God to man is
infinite; and that it is impossible for a perishable body to be
infinite, immense, or eternal.

They have the confidence to quote Eusebius, bishop of Cæsarea, in their
favor, who, in his "Ecclesiastical History," i., 9, declares that it is
absurd to imagine the uncreated and unchangeable nature of Almighty God
taking the form of a man. They cite the fathers of the Church, Justin
and Tertullian, who have said the same thing: Justin, in his "Dialogue
with Triphonius"; and Tertullian, in his "Discourse against Praxeas."

They quote St. Paul, who never calls Jesus Christ "God," and who calls
Him "man" very often. They carry their audacity so far as to affirm that
the Christians passed three entire ages in forming by degrees the
apotheosis of Jesus; and that they only raised this astonishing edifice
by the example of the pagans, who had deified mortals. At first,
according to them, Jesus was only regarded as a man inspired by God, and
then as a creature more perfect than others. They gave Him some time
after a place above the angels, as St. Paul tells us. Every day added to
His greatness. He in time became an emanation, proceeding from God. This
was not enough; He was even born before time. At last He was made God
consubstantial with God. Crellius, Voquelsius, Natalis Alexander, and
Horneck have supported all these blasphemies by arguments which astonish
the wise and mislead the weak. Above all, Faustus Socinus spread the
seeds of this doctrine in Europe; and at the end of the sixteenth
century a new species of Christianity was established. There were
already more than three hundred.


In the article on "Divorce," in the "Encyclopædia," it is said that the
custom of divorce having been brought into Gaul by the Romans, it was
therefore that Basine, or Bazine, quitted the king of Thuringia, her
husband, in order to follow Childeric, who married her. Why not say that
because the Trojans established the custom of divorce in Sparta, Helen
repudiated Menelaus according to law, to run away with Paris into

The agreeable fable of Paris, and the ridiculous one of Childeric, who
never was king of France, and who it is pretended carried off Bazine,
the wife of Bazin, have nothing to do with the law of divorce.

They all quote Cheribert, ruler of the little town of Lutetia, near
Issay--Lutetia Parisiorum--who repudiated his wife. The Abbé Velly, in
his "History of France," says that this Cheribert, or Caribert, divorced
his wife Ingoberg to espouse Mirefleur, the daughter of an artisan; and
afterwards Theudegild, the daughter of a shepherd, who was raised to the
first throne of the French Empire.

There was at that time neither first nor second throne among these
barbarians whom the Roman Empire never recognized as kings. There was no
French Empire. The empire of the French only commenced with Charlemagne.
It is very doubtful whether the word "mirefleur" was in use either in
the Welsh or Gallic languages, which were a _patois_ of the Celtic
jargon. This _patois_ had no expressions so soft.

It is also said that the ruler or governor Chilperic, lord of the
province of Soissonnais, whom they call king of France, divorced his
queen Andovere, or Andove; and here follows the reason of this divorce.

This Andovere, after having given three male children to the lord of
Soissons, brought forth a daughter. The Franks having been in some
manner Christians since the time of Clovis, Andovere, after her
recovery, presented her daughter to be baptized. Chilperic of Soissons,
who was apparently very tired of her, declared that it was an
unpardonable crime in her to be the godmother of her infant, and that
she could no longer be his wife by the laws of the Church. He therefore
married Fredegond, whom he subsequently put away also, and espoused a
Visigoth. To conclude, this scrupulous husband ended by taking Fredegond
back again.

There was nothing legal in all this, and it ought no more to be quoted
than anything which passed in Ireland or the Orcades. The Justinian
code, which we have adopted in several points, authorizes divorce; but
the canonical law, which the Catholics have placed before it, does not
permit it.

The author of the article says that divorce is practised in the states
of Germany, of the confession of Augsburg. He might have added that this
custom is established in all the countries of the North, among the
reformed of all professions, and among all the followers of the Greek

Divorce is probably of nearly the same date as marriage. I believe,
however, that marriage is some weeks more ancient; that is to say, men
quarrelled with their wives at the end of five days, beat them at the
end of a month, and separated from them after six weeks' cohabitation.

Justinian, who collected all the laws made before him, to which he added
his own, not only confirms that of divorce, but he extends it still
further; so that every woman, whose husband is not a slave, but simply
a prisoner of war during five years, may, after the five years have
expired, contract another marriage.

Justinian was a Christian, and even a theologian; how is it, then, that
the Church derogates from his laws? It was when the Church became the
sovereign and the legislator. The popes had not much trouble to
substitute their decretals instead of the civil code in the West, which
was plunged in ignorance and barbarism. They took, indeed, so much
advantage of the prevailing ignorance, that Honorius III., Gregory IX.,
and Innocent III., by their bulls, forbade the civil law to be taught.
It may be said of this audacity, that it is not creditable, but true.

As the Church alone took cognizance of marriages, so it alone judged of
divorce. No prince effected a divorce and married a second wife without
previously obtaining the consent of the pope. Henry VIII., king of
England, did not marry without his consent, until after having a long
time solicited his divorce in the court of Rome in vain.

This custom, established in ignorant times, is perpetuated in
enlightened ones only because it exists. All abuse eternizes itself; it
is an Augean stable, and requires a Hercules to cleanse it.

Henry IV. could not be the father of a king of France without the
permission of the pope; which must have been given, as has already been
remarked, not by pronouncing a _divorce_, but a _lie_; that is to say,
by pretending that there had not been previous marriage with Margaret de


It seems as if nature had given the dog to man for his defence and
pleasure; it is of all animals the most faithful; it is the best
possible friend of man.

It appears that there are several species absolutely different. How can
we believe that a greyhound comes originally from a spaniel? It has
neither its hair, legs, shape, ears, voice, scent, nor instinct. A man
who has never seen any dogs but barbets or spaniels, and who saw a
greyhound for the first time, would take it rather for a dwarf horse
than for an animal of the spaniel race. It is very likely that each race
was always what it now is, with the exception of the mixture of a small
number of them.

It is astonishing that, in the Jewish law, the dog was considered
unclean, as well as the griffin, the hare, the pig, and the eel; there
must have been some moral or physical reason for it, which we have not
yet discovered.

That which is related of the sagacity, obedience, friendship, and
courage of dogs, is as extraordinary as true. The military philosopher,
Ulloa, assures us that in Peru the Spanish dogs recognize the men of the
Indian race, pursue them, and tear them to pieces; and that the Peruvian
dogs do the same with the Spaniards. This would seem to prove that each
species of dogs still retained the hatred which was inspired in it at
the time of the discovery, and that each race always fought for its
master with the same valor and attachment.

Why, then, has the word "dog" become an injurious term? We say, for
tenderness, my sparrow, my dove, my chicken; we even say my kitten,
though this animal is famed for treachery; and, when we are angry, we
call people dogs! The Turks, when not even angry, speak with horror and
contempt of the Christian dogs. The English populace, when they see a
man who, by his manner or dress, has the appearance of having been born
on the banks of the Seine or of the Loire, commonly call him a French
dog--a figure of rhetoric which is neither just to the dog nor polite to
the man.

The delicate Homer introduces the divine Achilles telling the divine
Agamemnon that he is as impudent as a dog--a classical justification of
the English populace.

The most zealous friends of the dog must, however, confess that this
animal carries audacity in its eyes; that some are morose; that they
often bite strangers whom they take for their master's enemies, as
sentinels assail passengers who approach too near the counterscarp.
These are probably the reasons which have rendered the epithet "dog"
insulting; but we dare not decide.

Why was the dog adored and revered--as has been seen--by the Egyptians?
Because the dog protects man. Plutarch tells us that after Cambyses had
killed their bull Apis, and had had it roasted, no animal except the dog
dared to eat the remains of the feast, so profound was the respect for
Apis; the dog, not so scrupulous, swallowed the god without hesitation.
The Egyptians, as may be imagined, were exceedingly scandalized at this
want of reverence, and Anubis lost much of his credit.

The dog, however, still bears the honor of being always in the heavens,
under the names of the great and little dog. We regularly record the

But of all dogs, Cerberus has had the greatest reputation; he had three
heads. We have remarked that, anciently, all went by threes--Isis,
Osiris, and Orus, the three first Egyptian divinities; the three brother
gods of the Greek world--Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto; the three Fates,
the three Furies, the three Graces, the three judges of hell, and the
three heads of this infernal dog.

We perceive here with grief that we have omitted the article on "Cats";
but we console ourselves by referring to their history. We will only
remark that there are no cats in the heavens, as there are goats, crabs,
bulls, rams, eagles, lions, fishes, hares, and dogs; but, in recompense,
the cat has been consecrated, or revered, or adored, as partaking of
divinity or saintship in several towns, and as altogether divine by no
small number of women.


We know that all belief taught by the Church is a dogma which we must
embrace. It is a pity that there are dogmas received by the Latin
Church, and rejected by the Greek. But if unanimity is wanting, charity
replaces it. It is, above all, between hearts that union is required. I
think that we can relate a dream to the purpose, which has already found
favor in the estimation of many peaceably disposed persons.

"On Feb. 18, 1763, of the vulgar era, the sun entering the sign of the
fishes, I was transported to heaven, as all my friends can bear witness.
The mare Borac, of Mahomet, was not my steed, neither was the fiery
chariot of Elijah my carriage. I was not carried on the elephant of
Somonocodom, the Siamese; on the horse of St. George, the patron of
England; nor on St. Anthony's pig. I avow with frankness that my journey
was made I know not how.

"It will be easily believed that I was dazzled; but it will not so
easily be credited that I witnessed the judgment of the dead. And who
were the judges? They were--do not be displeased at it--all those who
have done good to man. Confucius, Solon, Socrates, Titus, Antoninus,
Epictetus, Charron, de Thou, Chancellor de L' Hôpital, and all the great
men who, having taught and practised the virtues that God requires,
seemed to be the only persons possessing the right of pronouncing his

"I shall not describe on what thrones they were seated, nor how many
celestial beings were prostrated before the eternal architect of all
worlds, nor what a crowd of the inhabitants of these innumerable worlds
appeared before the judges. I shall not even give an account of several
little interesting peculiarities which were exceedingly striking.

"I remarked that every spirit who pleaded his cause and displayed his
specious pretensions had beside him all the witnesses of his actions.
For example, when Cardinal Lorraine boasted of having caused some of his
opinions to be adopted by the Council of Trent, and demanded eternal
life as the price of his orthodoxy, there immediately appeared around
him twenty ladies of the court, all bearing on their foreheads the
number of their interviews with the cardinal. I also saw those who had
concerted with him the foundations of the infamous league. All the
accomplices of his wicked designs surrounded him.

"Over against Cardinal Lorraine was John Calvin, who boasted, in his
gross _patois_, of having trampled upon the papal idol, after others had
overthrown it. 'I have written against painting and sculpture,' said he;
'I have made it apparent that good works are of no avail, and I have
proved that it is diabolical to dance a minuet. Send away Cardinal
Lorraine quickly, and place me by the side of St. Paul.'

"As he spoke there appeared by his side a lighted pile; a dreadful
spectre, wearing round his neck a Spanish frill, arose half burned from
the midst of the flames, with dreadful shrieks. 'Monster,' cried he;
'execrable monster, tremble! recognize that Servetus, whom you caused to
perish by the most cruel torments, because he had disputed with you on
the manner in which three persons can form one substance.' Then all the
judges commanded that Cardinal Lorraine should be thrown into the abyss,
but that Calvin should be punished still more rigorously.

"I saw a prodigious crowd of spirits, each of which said, 'I have
believed, I have believed!' but on their forehead it was written, 'I
have acted,' and they were condemned.

"The Jesuit Letellier appeared boldly with the bull Unigenitus in his
hand. But there suddenly arose at his side a heap, consisting of two
thousand _lettres-de-cachet_. A Jansenist set fire to them, and
Letellier was burned to a cinder; while the Jansenist, who had no less
caballed than the Jesuit, had his share of the flames.

"I saw approach, from right and left, troops of fakirs, talapoins,
bonzes, and black, white, and gray monks, who all imagined that, to make
their court to the Supreme Being, they must either sing, scourge
themselves, or walk quite naked. 'What good have you done to men?' was
the query. A dead silence succeeded to this question. No one dared to
answer; and they were all conducted to the mad-houses of the universe,
the largest buildings imaginable.

"One cried out that he believed in the metamorphoses of Xaca, another in
those of Somonocodom. 'Bacchus stopped the sun and moon!' said this one.
'The gods resuscitated Pelops!' said the other. 'Here is the bull _in
cœna Domini_!' said a newcomer--and the officer of the court
exclaimed, 'To Bedlam, to Bedlam!'

"When all these causes were gone through, I heard this proclamation: 'By
the Eternal Creator, Preserver, Rewarder, Revenger, Forgiver, etc., be
it known to all the inhabitants of the hundred thousand millions of
millions of worlds that it hath pleased us to form, that we never judge
any sinners in reference to their own shallow ideas, but only as to
their actions. Such is our Justice.'

"I own that this was the first time I ever heard such an edict; all
those which I had read, on the little grain of dust on which I was born,
ended with these words: 'Such is our _pleasure_.'"


The Roman Republic, which seized so many states, also gave some away.
Scipio made Massinissa king of Numidia.

Lucullus, Sulla, and Pompey, each gave away half a dozen kingdoms.
Cleopatra received Egypt from Cæsar. Antony, and afterwards Octavius,
gave the little kingdom of Judæa to Herod.

Under Trajan, the famous medal of _regna assignata_ was struck and
kingdoms bestowed.

Cities and provinces given in sovereignty to priests and to colleges,
for the greater glory of God, or of the gods, are seen in every country.
Mahomet, and the caliphs, his vicars, took possession of many states in
the propagation of their faith, but they did not make donations of them.
They held by nothing but their Koran and their sabre.

The Christian religion, which was at first a society of poor people,
existed for a long time on alms alone. The first donation was that of
Ananias and Sapphira his wife. It was in ready money and was not
prosperous to the donors.

_The Donation of Constantine._

The celebrated donation of Rome and all Italy to Pope Sylvester by the
emperor Constantine, was maintained as a part of the creed of Rome until
the sixteenth century. It was believed that Constantine, being at
Nicomedia, was cured of leprosy at Rome by the baptism which he received
from Bishop Sylvester, though he was not baptized at all; and that by
way of recompense he gave forthwith the city of Rome and all its western
provinces to this Sylvester. If the deed of this donation had been drawn
up by the doctor of the Italian comedy, it could not have been more
pleasantly conceived. It is added that Constantine declared all the
canons of Rome consuls and patricians--"_patricios et consules effici"_
--that he himself held the bridle of the mare on which the new bishop
was mounted--"_tenentes frenum equi illius_."

It is astonishing to reflect that this fine story was held an article of
faith and respected by the rest of Europe for eight centuries, and that
the Church persecuted as heretics all those who doubted it.

_Donation of Pepin._

At present people are no longer persecuted for doubting that Pepin the
usurper gave, or was able to give, the exarchate of Ravenna to the pope.
It is at most an evil thought, a venial sin, which does not endanger the
loss of body or of soul.

The reasoning of the German lawyers, who have scruples in regard to this
donation, is as follows:

1. The librarian Anastatius, whose evidence is always cited, wrote one
hundred and forty years after the event.

2. It is not likely that Pepin, who was not firmly established in
France, and against whom Aquitaine made war, could give away, in Italy,
states which already belonged to the emperor, resident at

3. Pope Zacharias recognized the Roman-Greek emperor as the sovereign of
those lands, disputed by the Lombards, and had administered the oath to
him; as may be seen by the letters of this bishop, Zacharias of Rome to
Bishop Boniface of Mentz. Pepin could not give to the pope the imperial

4. When Pope Stephen II. produced a letter from heaven, written in the
hand of St. Peter, to Pepin, to complain of the grievances of the king
of the Lombards, Astolphus, St. Peter does not mention in his letter
that Pepin had made a present of the exarchate of Ravenna to the pope;
and certainly St. Peter would not have failed to do so, even if the
thing had been only equivocal; he understands his interest too well.

Finally, the deed of this donation has never been produced; and what is
still stronger, the fabrication of a false one cannot be ventured. The
only proofs are vague recitals, mixed up with fables. Instead of
certainty, there are only the absurd writings of monks, copied from age
to age, from one another.

The Italian advocate who wrote in 1722 to prove that Parma and Placentia
had been ceded to the holy see as a dependency of the exarchate, asserts
that the Greek emperors were justly despoiled of their rights because
they had excited the people against God. Can lawyers write thus in our
days? Yes, it appears, but only at Rome. Cardinal Bellarmine goes still
farther. "The first Christians," says he, "supported the emperors only
because they were not the strongest." The avowal is frank, and I am
persuaded that Bellarmine is right.

_The Donation of Charlemagne._

At a time when the court of Rome believed itself deficient in titles, it
pretended that Charlemagne had confirmed the donation of the exarchate,
and that he added to it Sicily, Venice, Benevento, Corsica, and
Sardinia. But as Charlemagne did not possess any of these states, he
could not give them away; and as to the town of Ravenna, it is very
clear that he kept it, since in his will he made a legacy to his city of
Ravenna as well as to his city of Rome. It is surprising enough that the
popes have obtained Ravenna and Rome; but as to Venice, it is not likely
that the diploma which granted them the sovereignty will be found in the
palace of St. Mark.

All these acts, instruments, and diplomas have been subjects of dispute
for ages. But it is a confirmed opinion, says Giannone, that martyr to
truth, that all these pieces were forged in the time of Gregory VII. "_E
costante opinione presso i piu gravi scrittori che tutti questi
istromenti e diplomi furono supposti ne tempi d'Ildebrando_."

_Donation of Benevento by the Emperor Henry III._

The first well attested donation which was made to the see of Rome was
that of Benevento, and that was an exchange of the Emperor Henry III.
with the pope. It wanted only one formality, which was that the emperor
who gave away Benevento was not the owner of it. It belonged to the
dukes of Benevento, and the Roman-Greek emperors reclaimed their rights
on this duchy. But history supplies little beyond a list of those who
have accommodated themselves with the property of others.

_Donation of the Countess Mathilda._

The most authentic and considerable of these donations was that of all
the possessions of the famous Countess Mathilda to Gregory VII. She was
a young widow, who gave all to her spiritual director. It is supposed
that the deed was twice executed and afterwards confirmed by her will.

However, there still remains some difficulty. It was always believed at
Rome that Mathilda had given all her states, all her possessions,
present and to come, to her friend Gregory VII. by a solemn deed, in her
castle of Canossa, in 1077, for the relief of her own soul and that of
her parents. And to corroborate this precious instrument a second is
shown to us, dated in the year 1102, in which it is said that it is to
Rome that she made this donation; that she recalled it, and that she
afterwards renewed it; and always for the good of her soul.

How could so important a deed be recalled? Was the court of Rome so
negligent? How could an instrument written at Canossa have been written
at Rome? What do these contradictions mean? All that is clear is that
the souls of the receivers fared better than the soul of the giver, who
to save it was obliged to deprive herself of all she possessed in favor
of her physicians.

In short, in 1102, a sovereign was deprived of the power of disposing of
an acre of land; yet after this deed, and to the time of her death, in
1115, there are still found considerable donations of lands made by this
same Mathilda to canons and monks. She had not, therefore, given all.
Finally, this deed was very likely made by some ingenious person after
her death.

The court of Rome still includes among its titles the testament of
Mathilda, which confirmed her donations. The popes, however, never
produce this testament. It should also be known whether this rich
countess had the power to dispose of her possessions, which were most of
them fiefs of the empire.

The Emperor Henry V., her heir, possessed himself of all, and recognized
neither testament, donation, deed, nor right. The popes, in temporizing,
gained more than the emperors in exerting their authority; and in time
these Cæsars became so weak that the popes finally obtained the
succession of Mathilda, which is now called the patrimony of St. Peter.

_Donation of the Sovereignty of Naples to the Popes._

The Norman gentlemen who were the first instruments of the conquests of
Naples and Sicily achieved the finest exploit of chivalry that was ever
heard of. From forty to fifty men only delivered Salerno at the moment
it was taken by an army of Saracens. Seven other Norman gentlemen, all
brothers, sufficed to chase these same Saracens from all the country,
and to take prisoner the Greek emperor, who had treated them
ungratefully. It was quite natural that the people, whom these heroes
had inspired with valor, should be led to obey them through admiration
and gratitude.

Such were the first rights to the crown of the two Sicilies. The bishops
of Rome could no more give those states in fief than the kingdoms of
Boutan or Cachemire. They could not even grant the investiture which
would have been demanded of them; for, in the time of the anarchy of the
fiefs, when a lord would hold his free land as a fief for his
protection, he could only address himself to the sovereign or the chief
of the country in which it was situated. And certainly the pope was
neither the sovereign of Naples, Apulia, nor Calabria.

Much has been written about this pretended vassalage, but the source has
never been discovered. I dare say that it is as much the fault of the
lawyers as of the theologians. Every one deduces from a received
principle consequences the most favorable to himself or his party. But
is the principle true? Is the first fact by which it is supported
incontestable? It is this which should be examined. It resembles our
ancient romance writers, who all take it for granted that Francus
brought the helmet of Hector to France. This casque was impenetrable, no
doubt; but had Hector really worn it? The holy Virgin's milk is also
very respectable; but do the twenty sacristies, who boast of having a
gill of it, really possess it?

Men of the present time, as wicked as foolish, do not shrink from the
greatest crimes, and yet fear an excommunication, which would render
them execrable to people still more wicked and foolish than themselves.

Robert and Richard Guiscard, the conquerors of Apulia and Calabria, were
excommunicated by Pope Leo IX. They were declared vassals of the empire;
but the emperor, Henry III., discontented with these feudatory
conquerors, engaged Leo IX. to launch the excommunication at the head of
an army of Germans. The Normans, who did not fear these thunderbolts
like the princes of Italy, beat the Germans and took the pope prisoner.
But to prevent the popes and emperors hereafter from coming to trouble
them in their possessions, they offered their conquests to the Church
under the name of _oblata._ It was thus that England paid the Peter's
pence; that the first kings of Spain and Portugal, on recovering their
states from the Saracens, promised two pounds of gold a year to the
Church of Rome. But England, Spain, nor Portugal never regarded the pope
as their sovereign master.

Duke Robert, _oblat_ of the Church, was therefore no feudatory of the
pope; he could not be so, since the popes were not the sovereigns of
Rome. This city was then governed by its senate, and the bishop
possessed only influence. The pope was at Rome precisely what the
elector is at Cologne. There is a prodigious difference between the
_oblat_ of a saint and the feudatory of a bishop.

Baronius, in his "Acts," relates the pretended homage done by Robert,
duke of Apulia and Calabria, to Nicholas II.; but this deed is
suspected, like many others; it has never been seen, it has never been
found in any archives. Robert entitled himself "duke by the grace of God
and St. Peter"; but certainly St. Peter had given him nothing, nor was
that saint king of Rome.

The other popes, who were kings no more than St. Peter, received without
difficulty the homage of all the princes who presented themselves to
reign over Naples, particularly when these princes were the most

_Donation of England and Ireland to the Popes by King John._

In 1213, King John, vulgarly called Lackland, or more properly
Lackvirtue, being excommunicated and seeing his kingdom laid under an
interdict, gave it away to Pope Innocent III. and his successors. "Not
constrained with fear, but with my full consent and the advice of my
barons, for the remission of my sins against God and the Church, I
resign England and Ireland to God, St. Peter, St. Paul, and our lord the
Pope Innocent, and to his successors in the apostolic chair."

He declared himself feudatory lieutenant of the pope, paid about eight
thousand pounds sterling in ready money to the legate Pandulph, promised
to pay a thousand more every year, gave the first year in advance to the
legate who trampled upon him, and swore on his knees that he submitted
to lose all in the event of not paying at the time appointed. The jest
of this ceremony was that the legate departed with the money and forgot
to remove the excommunication.

_Examination of the Vassalage of Naples and England._

It may be asked which was the more valuable, the donation of Robert
Guiscard or that of John Lackland; both had been excommunicated, both
had given their states to St. Peter and became only the farmers of them.
If the English barons were indignant at the infamous bargain of their
king with the pope, and cancelled it, the Neapolitan barons could have
equally cancelled that of Baron Robert; and that which they could have
done formerly they certainly can do at present.

Were England and Apulia given to the pope, according to the law of the
Church or of the fiefs, as to a bishop or a sovereign? If to a bishop,
it is precisely contrary to the law of Jesus, who so often forbids his
disciples to take anything, and who declares to them that His kingdom is
not of this world.

If as to a sovereign, it was high treason to his imperial majesty; the
Normans had already done homage to the emperor. Thus no right,
spiritual or temporal, belonged to the popes in this affair. When the
principle is erroneous, all the deductions are so of course. Naples no
more belonged to the pope than England.

There is still another method of providing against this ancient bargain;
it is the right of the people, which is stronger than the right of the
fiefs. The people's right will not suffer one sovereign to belong to
another, and the most ancient law is to be master of our own, at least
when we are not the weakest.

_Of Donations Made by the Popes._

If principalities have been given to the bishops of Rome, they have
given away many more. There is not a single throne in Europe to which
they have not made a present. As soon as a prince had conquered a
country, or even wished to do it, the popes granted it in the name of
St. Peter. Sometimes they even made the first advances, and it may be
said that they have given away every kingdom but that of heaven.

Few people in France know that Julius II. gave the states of King Louis
XII. to the Emperor Maximilian, who could not put himself in possession
of them. They do not sufficiently remember that Sixtus V., Gregory XIV.,
and Clement VIII., were ready to make a present of France to whomsoever
Philip II. would have chosen for the husband of his daughter Clara

As to the emperors, there is not one since Charlemagne that the court of
Rome has not pretended to nominate. This is the reason why Swift, in his
"Tale of a Tub," says "that Lord Peter became suddenly mad, and that
Martin and Jack, his brothers, confined him by the advice of their
relations." We simply relate this drollery as a pleasant blasphemy of an
English priest against the bishop of Rome.

All these donations disappear before that of the East and West Indies,
with which Alexander VI. of his divine power and authority invested
Spain and Portugal. It was giving almost all the earth. He could in the
same manner have given away the globes of Jupiter and Saturn with their

_Particular Donations._

The donations of citizens are treated quite differently. The codes are
unanimously agreed that no one can give away the property of another as
well as that no person can take it. It is a universal law.

In France, jurisprudence was uncertain on this object, as on almost all
others, until the year 1731, when the equitable Chancellor d'Aguesseau,
having conceived the design of making the law uniform, very weakly began
the great work by the edict on donations. It is digested in forty-seven
articles, but, in wishing to render all the formalities concerning
donations uniform, Flanders was excepted from the general law, and in
excepting Flanders, Artois was forgotten, which should have enjoyed the
same exception; so that in six years after the general law, a particular
one was obliged to be made for Artois.

These new edicts concerning donations and testaments were principally
made to do away with all the commentators who had considerably embroiled
the laws, having already compiled six commentaries upon them.

It may be remarked that donations, or deeds of gift, extend much farther
than to the particular person to whom a present is made. For every
present there must be paid to the farmers of the royal domain--the duty
of control, the duty of "_insinuation_" the duty of the hundredth penny,
the tax of two sous in the livre, the tax of eight sous in the livre,

So that every time you make a present to a citizen you are much more
liberal than you imagine. You have also the pleasure of contributing to
the enriching of the farmers-general, but, after all, this money does
not go out of the kingdom like that which is paid to the court of Rome.


What was the origin of this custom? Has it existed since drinking
commenced? It appears natural to drink wine for our own health, but not
for the health of others.

The "_propino_" of the Greeks, adopted by the Romans, does not signify
"I drink to your good health," but "I drink first that you may drink
afterwards"--I invite you to drink.

In their festivals they drink to celebrate a mistress, not that she
might have good health. See in Martial: "_Naevia sex cyathis, septem
Justina bibatur_"--"Six cups for Naevia, for Justina seven."

The English, who pique themselves upon renewing several ancient customs,
drink to the honor of the ladies, which they call toasting, and it is a
great subject of dispute among them whether a lady is toastworthy or
not--whether she is worthy to be toasted.

They drank at Rome for the victories of Augustus, and for the return of
his health. Dion Cassius relates that after the battle of Actium the
senate decreed that, in their repasts, libations should be made to him
in the second service. It was a strange decree. It is more probable that
flattery had voluntarily introduced this meanness. Be it as it may, we
read in Horace:

     _Hinc ad vina redit lætus, et alteris_
     _Te mensis adhibet Deum,_
     _Te multa prece; te prosequitur nero_
     _Defuso pateris; et labiis tuum_
     _Miscet numen; uti Graecia Castoris_
       _Et magni nemore Herculis._
     _Longas o utinam, dux bone ferias_
     _Praestes Hesperiae; dicimus integro_
     _Sicci mane die, dicimus uvidi,_
     _Quum sol oceano subest._

     To thee he chants the sacred song,
       To thee the rich libation pours;
     Thee placed his household gods among,
       With solemn daily prayer adores;
     So Castor and great Hercules of old
     Were with her gods by graceful Greece enrolled.
     Gracious and good, beneath thy reign
       May Rome her happy hours employ,
     And grateful hail thy just domain
     With pious hymn and festal joy.
     Thus, with the rising sun we sober pray,
     Thus, in our wine beneath his setting ray.

It is very likely that hence the custom arose among barbarous nations of
drinking to the health of their guests, an absurd custom, since we may
drink four bottles without doing them the least good.

The dictionary of Trévoux tells us that we should not drink to the
health of our superiors in their presence. This may be the case in
France or Germany, but in England it is a received custom. The distance
is not so great from one man to another at London as at Vienna.

It is of importance in England to drink to the health of a prince who
pretends to the throne; it is to declare yourself his partisan. It has
cost more than one Scotchman and Hibernian dear for having drank to the
health of the Stuarts.

All the Whigs, after the death of King William, drank not to his health,
but to his memory. A Tory named Brown, bishop of Cork in Ireland, a
great enemy to William in Ireland, said, "that he would put a _cork_ in
all those bottles which were drunk to the glory of this monarch." He did
not stop at this silly pun; he wrote, in 1702, an episcopal address to
show the Irish that it was an atrocious impiety to drink to the health
of kings, and, above all, to their memory; that the latter, in
particular, is a profanation of these words of Jesus Christ: "Drink
this in remembrance of me."

It is astonishing that this bishop was not the first who conceived such
a folly. Before him, the Presbyterian Prynne had written a great book
against the impious custom of drinking to the health of Christians.

Finally, there was one John Geza, vicar of the parish of St. Faith, who
published "The Divine Potion to Preserve Spiritual Health, by the Cure
of the Inveterate Malady of Drinking Healths; with Clear and Solid
Arguments against this Criminal Custom, all for the Satisfaction of the
Public, at the Request of a Worthy Member of Parliament, in the Year of
Our Salvation 1648."

Our reverend Father Garasse, our reverend Father Patouillet, and our
reverend Father Nonnotte are nothing superior to these profound
Englishmen. We have a long time wrestled with our neighbors for the
superiority--To which is it due?


_The Scene is in Tartarus. The Furies Entwined with Serpents, and Whips
in Their Hands._

Come along, Barbaquincorix, Celtic druid, and thou, detestable Grecian
hierophant, Calchas, the moment of your just punishment has returned
again; the hour of vengeance has arrived--the bell has sounded!


Oh, heavens! my head, my sides, my eyes, my ears! pardon, ladies,


Mercy! two vipers are penetrating my eye-balls!


A serpent is devouring my entrails!


Alas, how am I mangled! And must my eyes be every day restored, to be
torn again from my head?


Must my skin be renewed only to dangle in ribbons from my lacerated


It will teach you how to palm off a miserable parasitical plant for a
universal remedy another time. Will you still sacrifice boys and girls
to your god Theutates, priest? still burn them in osier baskets to the
sound of a drum?


Never, never; dear lady, a little mercy, I beseech you.


You never had any yourself. Seize him, serpents, and now another lash!


Let them curry well this Calchas, who advances towards us, "With cruel
eye, dark mien, and bristled hair."


My hair is torn away; I am scorched, flayed, impaled!


Wretch! Will you again cut the throat of a beautiful girl, in order to
obtain a favorable gale, instead of uniting her to a good husband?


Oh, what torments! and yet we die not.


Hey-dey! God forgive me, but I hear music! It is Orpheus; why our
serpents, sister, have become as gentle as lambs!


My sufferings cease; how very strange!


I am altogether recovered. Oh, the power of good music! And who are you,
divine man, who thus cures wounds, and rejoices hell itself?


My friends, I am a priest like yourselves, but I never deceived anyone,
nor cut the throat of either boy or girl in my life. When on earth,
instead of making the gods hated, I rendered them beloved, and softened
the manners of the men whom you made ferocious. I shall exert myself in
the like manner in hell. I met, just now, two barbarous priests whom
they were scourging beyond measure; one of them formerly hewed a king in
pieces before the Lord, and the other cut the throat of his queen and
sovereign at the horse gate. I have terminated their punishment, and,
having played to them a tune on the violin, they have promised me that
when they return into the world they will live like honest men.


We promise the same thing, on the word of a priest.


Yes, but "_Passato il pericolo, gabbato il santo._" [_The scene closes
with a-figure Dance, performed by Orpheus, the Condemned, and the
Furies, to light and agreeable music._]


Easy applies not only to a thing easily done, but also to a thing which
appears to be so. The pencil of Correggio is easy, the style of Quinault
is much more easy than that of Despréaux, and the style of Ovid
surpasses in facility that of Persius.

This facility in painting, music, eloquence, and poetry, consists in a
natural and spontaneous felicity, which admits of nothing that implies
research, strength, or profundity. Thus the pictures of Paul Veronese
have a much more easy and less finished air than those of Michel Angelo.
The symphonies of Rameau are superior to those of Lulli, but appear
less easy. Bossuet is more truly eloquent and more easy than Fléchier.
Rousseau, in his epistles, has not near the facility and truth of

The commentator of Despréaux says that "this exact and laborious poet
taught the illustrious Racine to make verses with difficulty, and that
those which appear easy are those which have been made with the most

It is true that it often costs much pains to express ourselves with
clearness, as also that the natural may be arrived at by effort; but it
is also true that a happy genius often produces easy beauties without
any labor, and that enthusiasm goes much farther than art.

Most of the impassioned expressions of our good poets have come finished
from their pen, and appear easy, as if they had in reality been composed
without labor; the imagination, therefore, often conceives and brings
forth easily. It is not thus with didactic works, which require art to
make them appear easy. For example, there is much less ease than
profundity in Pope's "Essay on Man."

Bad works may be rapidly constructed, which, having no genius, will
appear easy, and it is often the lot of those who, without genius, have
the unfortunate habit of composing. It is in this sense that a personage
of the old comedy, called the "Italian," says to another: "Thou makest
bad verses admirably well."

The term "easy" is an insult to a woman, but is sometimes in society
praise for a man; it is, however, a fault in a statesman. The manners of
Atticus were easy; he was the most amiable of the Romans; the easy
Cleopatra gave herself as easily to Antony as to Cæsar; the easy
Claudius allowed himself to be governed by Agrippina; easy applied to
Claudius is only a lenitive, the proper expression is _weak_.

An easy man is in general one possessed of a mind which easily gives
itself up to reason and remonstrance--a heart which melts at the prayers
which are made to it; while a weak man is one who allows too much
authority over him.


In the greatest part of the known world every extraordinary phenomenon
was for a long time believed to be the presage of some happy or
miserable event. Thus the Roman historians have not failed to observe
that an eclipse of the sun accompanied the birth of Romulus, that
another announced his death, and that a third attended the foundation of
the city of Rome.

We have already spoken of the article entitled "The Vision of
Constantine," of the apparition of the cross which preceded the triumph
of Christianity, and under the article on "Prophecy," we shall treat of
the new star which enlightened the birth of Jesus. We will, therefore,
here confine ourselves to what has been said of the darkness with which
all the earth was covered when He gave up the ghost.

The writers of the Greek and Romish Churches have quoted as authentic
two letters attributed to Dionysius the Areopagite, in which he relates
that being at Heliopolis in Egypt, with his friend Apollophanes, he
suddenly saw, about the sixth hour, the moon pass underneath the sun,
which caused a great eclipse. Afterwards, in the ninth hour, they
perceived the moon quitting the place which she occupied and return to
the opposite side of the diameter. They then took the rules of Philip
Aridæus, and, having examined the course of the stars, they found that
the sun could not have been naturally eclipsed at that time. Further,
they observed that the moon, contrary to her natural motion, instead of
going to the west to range herself under the sun, approached on the
eastern side and that she returned behind on the same side, which caused
Apollophanes to say, "These, my dear Dionysius, are changes of Divine
things," to which Dionysius replied, "Either the author of nature
suffers, or the machine of the universe will be soon destroyed."

Dionysius adds that having remarked the exact time and year of this
prodigy, and compared them with what Paul afterwards told him, he
yielded up to the truth as well as his friend. This is what led to the
belief that the darkness happening at the death of Jesus Christ was
caused by a supernatural eclipse; and what has extended this opinion is
that Maldonat says it is that of almost all the Catholics. How is it
possible to resist the authority of an ocular, enlightened, and
disinterested witness, since it was supposed that when he saw this
eclipse Dionysius was a pagan?

As these pretended letters of Dionysius were not forged until towards
the fifteenth or sixteenth century, Eusebius of Cæsarea was contented
with quoting the evidence of Phlegon, a freed man of the emperor Adrian.
This author was also a pagan, and had written "The History of the
Olympiads," in sixteen books, from their origin to the year 140 of the
vulgar era. He is made to say that in the fourth year of the two hundred
and second Olympiad there was the greatest eclipse of the sun that had
ever been seen; the day was changed to night at the sixth hour, the
stars were seen, and an earthquake overthrew several edifices in the
city of Nicæa in Bithynia. Eusebius adds that the same events are
related in the ancient monuments of the Greeks, as having happened in
the eighteenth year of Tiberius. It is thought that Eusebius alluded to
Thallus, a Greek historian already cited by Justin, Tertullian, and
Julius Africanus, but neither the work of Thallus, nor that of Phlegon
having reached us, we can only judge of the accuracy of these two
quotations of reasoning.

It is true that the Paschal "Chronicle of the Greeks," as well as St.
Jerome Anastatius, the author of the "_Historia Miscella_," and
Freculphus of Luxem, among the Latins, all unite in representing the
fragment of Phlegon in the same manner. But it is known that these five
witnesses, so uniform in their dispositions, translated or copied the
passage, not from Phlegon himself, but from Eusebius; while John
Philoponus, who had read Phlegon, far from agreeing with Eusebius,
differs from him by two years. We could also name Maximus and Maleba,
who lived when the work of Phlegon still existed, and the result of an
examination of the whole is that five of the quoted authors copy
Eusebius. Philoponus, who really saw the work of Phlegon, gives a second
reading, Maximus a third, and Maleba a fourth, so that they are far from
relating the passage in the same manner.

In short, the calculations of Hodgson, Halley, Whiston, and Gale Morris
have demonstrated that Phlegon and Thallus speak of a natural eclipse
which happened November 24, in the first year of the two hundred and
second Olympiad, and not in the fourth year, as Eusebius pretends. Its
size at Nicæa in Bithynia, was, according to Whiston, only from nine to
ten digits, that is to say, two-thirds and a half of the sun's disc. It
began at a quarter past eight, and ended at five minutes past ten, and
between Cairo in Egypt, and Jerusalem, according to Mr. Gale Morris, the
sun was totally obscured for nearly two minutes. At Jerusalem the middle
of the eclipse happened about an hour and a quarter after noon.

But what ought to spare all this discussion is that Tertullian says the
day became suddenly dark while the sun was in the midst of his career;
that the pagans believed that it was an eclipse, not knowing that it had
been predicted by the prophet Amos in these words: "I will cause the sun
to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day."
"They," adds Tertullian, "who have sought for the cause of this event
and could not discover it, have denied it; but the fact is certain, and
you will find it noted in your archives."

Origen, on the contrary, says that it is not astonishing foreign authors
have said nothing about the darknesses of which the evangelists speak,
since they only appeared in the environs of Jerusalem; Judæa, according
to him, being designated under the name of all the earth in more than
one place in Scripture. He also avows that the passage in the Gospel of
St. Luke, in which we read that in his time all the earth was covered
with darkness, on account of an eclipse of the sun, had been thus
falsified by some ignorant Christian who thought thereby to throw a
light on the text of the evangelist, or by some ill-intentioned enemy
who wished a pretext to calumniate the Church, as if the evangelists had
remarked an eclipse at a time when it was very evident that it could not
have happened. "It is true," adds he, "that Phlegon says that there was
one under Tiberius, but as he does not say that it happened at the full
moon there is nothing wonderful in that."

"These obscurations," continues Origen, "were of the nature of those
which covered Egypt in the time of Moses, and were not felt in the
quarter in which the Israelites dwelt. Those of Egypt lasted three days,
while those of Jerusalem only lasted three hours; the first were after
the manner of the second, and even as Moses raised his hands to heaven
and invoked the Lord to draw them down on Egypt, so Jesus Christ, to
cover Jerusalem with darkness, extended his hands on the cross against
an ungrateful people who had cried: 'Crucify him, crucify him!'"

We may, in this case, exclaim with Plutarch, that the darkness of
superstition is more dangerous than that of eclipses.


The primitive economy, that which is the foundation of all the rest, is
rural. In early times it was exhibited in the patriarchal life and
especially in that of Abraham, who made a long journey through the arid
deserts of Memphis to buy corn. I shall continue, with due respect, to
discard all that is divine in the history of Abraham, and attend to his
rural economy alone.

I do not learn that he ever had a house; he quitted the most fertile
country of the universe and towns in which there were commodious houses,
to go wandering in countries, the languages of which he did not

He went from Sodom into the desert of Gerar without forming the least
establishment. When he turned away Hagar and the child Ishmael it was
still in a desert and all the food he gave them was a morsel of bread
and a cruse of water. When he was about to sacrifice his son Isaac to
the Lord it was again in a desert. He cut the wood himself to burn the
victim and put it on the back of Isaac, whom he was going to immolate.

His wife died in a place called Kirgath-arba, or Hebron; he had not six
feet of earth in which to bury her, but was obliged to buy a cave to
deposit her body. This was the only piece of land which he ever

However, he had many children, for, without reckoning Isaac and his
posterity, his second wife Keturah, at the age of one hundred and forty
years, according to the ordinary calculation, bore him five male
children, who departed towards Arabia.

It is not said that Isaac had a single piece of land in the country in
which his father died; on the contrary, he went into the desert of Gerar
with his wife, Rebecca, to the same Abimelech, king of Gerar, who had
been in love with his mother.

The king of the desert became also amorous of Rebecca, whom her husband
caused to pass for his sister, as Abraham had acted with regard to Sarah
and this same King Abimelech forty years before. It is rather
astonishing that in this family the wife always passed for the sister
when there was anything to be gained, but as these facts are
consecrated, it is for us to maintain a respectful silence.

Scripture says that Abraham enriched himself in this horrible country,
which became fertile for his benefit, and that he became extremely
powerful. But it is also mentioned that he had no water to drink; that
he had a great quarrel with the king's herdsmen for a well; and it is
easy to discover that he still had not a house of his own.

His children, Esau and Jacob, had not a greater establishment than their
father. Jacob was obliged to seek his fortune in Mesopotamia, whence
Abraham came; he served seven years for one of the daughters of Laban,
and seven other years to obtain the second daughter. He fled with his
wives and the flocks of his father-in-law, who pursued him. A precarious
fortune, that of Jacob.

Esau is represented as wandering like Jacob. None of the twelve
patriarchs, the children of Jacob, had any fixed dwelling, or a field of
which they were the proprietors. They reposed in their tents like
Bedouin Arabs.

It is clear that this patriarchal life would not conveniently suit the
temperature of our atmosphere. A good cultivator, such as Pignoux of
Auvergne, must have a convenient house with an aspect towards the east,
large barns and stables, stalls properly built, the whole amounting to
about fifty thousand francs of our present money in value. He must sow a
hundred acres with corn, besides having good pastures; he should
possess some acres of vineyard, and about fifty for inferior grain and
herbs, thirty acres of wood, a plantation of mulberries, silkworms, and
bees. With all these advantages well economized, he can maintain a
family in abundance. His land will daily improve; he will support them
without fearing the irregularity of the seasons and the weight of taxes,
because one good year repairs the damages of two bad ones. He will enjoy
in his domain a real sovereignty, which will be subject only to the
laws. It is the most natural state of man, the most tranquil, the most
happy, and, unfortunately, the most rare.

The son of this venerable patriarch, seeing himself rich, is disgusted
with paying the humiliating tax of the taille. Having unfortunately
learned some Latin he repairs to town, buys a post which exempts him
from the tax and which bestows nobility. He sells his domain to pay for
his vanity, marries a girl brought up in luxury who dishonors and ruins
him; he dies in beggary, and his only son wears a livery in Paris.



This is an expression consecrated in its appropriation by the fathers of
the Church and even by the primitive propagators of our holy religion.
It signifies the application of oratory to circumstances.

For example: St. Paul, being a Christian, comes to the temple of the
Jews to perform the Judaic rites, in order to show that he does not
forsake the Mosaic law; he is recognized at the end of a week and
accused of having profaned the temple. Loaded with blows, he is dragged
along by the mob; the tribune of the cohort--_tribunis cohortis_
--arrives, and binds him with a double chain. The next day this tribune
assembles the council and carries Paul before it, when the High Priest
Ananias commences proceedings by giving him a box on the ear, on which
Paul salutes him with the epithet of "a whited wall."

"But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees and the other
Pharisees, he cried out in the council, 'Men and brethren, I am a
Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee, of the hope and resurrection of the
dead I am called in question.' And when he had so said there arose a
discussion between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the multitude
was divided. For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection,
neither angel nor spirit, but the Pharisees confess both."

It is very evident from the text that Paul was not a Pharisee after he
became a Christian and that there was in this affair no question either
of resurrection or hope, of angel or spirit.

The text shows that Paul spoke thus only to embroil the Pharisees and
Sadducees. This was speaking with economy, that is to say, with
prudence; it was a pious artifice which, perhaps, would not have been
permitted to any but an apostle.

It is thus that almost all the fathers of the Church have spoken "with
economy." St. Jerome develops this method admirably in his fifty-fourth
letter to Pammachus. Weigh his words. After having said that there are
occasions when it is necessary to present a loaf and to throw a stone,
he continues thus:

"Pray read Demosthenes, read Cicero, and if these rhetoricians displease
you because their art consists in speaking of the seeming rather than
the true, read Plato, Theophrastus, Xenophon, Aristotle, and all those
who, having dipped into the fountain of Socrates, drew different waters
from it. Is there among them any candor, any simplicity? What terms
among them are not ambiguous, and what sense do they not make free with
to bear away the palm of victory? Origen, Methodius, Eusebius,
Apollinarus, have written a million of arguments against Celsus and
Porphyry. Consider with what artifice, with what problematic subtlety
they combat the spirit of the devil. They do not say what they think,
but what it is expedient to say: _Non quod sentiunt, sed quod necesse
est dicunt_. And not to mention other Latins--Tertullian, Cyprian,
Minutius, Victorinus, Lactantius, and Hilarius--whom I will not cite
here; I will content myself with relating the example of the Apostle
Paul," etc.

St. Augustine often writes with economy. He so accommodates himself to
time and circumstances that in one of his epistles he confesses that he
explained the Trinity only because he must say something.

Assuredly this was not because he doubted the Holy Trinity, but he felt
how ineffable this mystery is and wished to content the curiosity of the

This method was always received in theology. It employed an argument
against the Eucratics, which was the cause of triumph to the
Carpocratians; and when it afterwards disputed with the Carpocratians
its arms were changed.

It is asserted that Jesus Christ died for many when the number of
rejected is set forth, but when his universal bounty is to be manifested
he is said to have died for all. Here you take the real sense for the
figurative; there the figurative for the real, as prudence and
expediency direct.

Such practices are not admitted in justice. A witness would be punished
who told the _pour_ and _contre_ of a capital offence. But there is an
infinite difference between vile human interests, which require the
greatest clearness, and divine interests, which are hidden in an
impenetrable abyss. The same judges who require indubitable
demonstrative proofs will be contented in sermons with moral proofs, and
even with declamations exhibiting no proofs at all.

St. Augustine speaks with economy, when he says, "I believe, because it
is absurd; I believe, because it is impossible." These words, which
would be extravagant in all worldly affairs, are very respectable in
theology. They signify that what is absurd and impossible to mortal eyes
is not so to the eyes of God; God has revealed to me these pretended
absurdities, these apparent impossibilities, therefore I ought to
believe them.

An advocate would not be allowed to speak thus at the bar. They would
confine in a lunatic asylum a witness who might say, "I assert that the
accused, while shut up in a country house in Martinique, killed a man in
Paris, and I am the more certain of this homicide because it is absurd
and impossible." But revelations, miracles, and faith are quite a
distinct order of things.

The same St. Augustine observes in his one hundred and fifty-third
letter, "It is written that the whole world belongs to the faithful, and
infidels have not an obolus that they possess legitimately."

If upon this principle a brace of bankers were to wait upon me to assure
me that they were of the faithful, and in that capacity had appropriated
the property belonging to me, a miserable worldling, to themselves, it
is certain that they would be committed to the Châtelet, in spite of the
economy of the language of St. Augustine.

St. Irenæus asserts that we must not condemn the incest of the two
daughters of Lot, nor that of Thamar with her father-in-law, because the
Holy Scripture has not expressly declared them criminal. This verbal
economy prevents not the legal punishment of incest among ourselves. It
is true that if the Lord expressly ordered people to commit incest it
would not be sinful, which is the economy of Irenæus. His laudable
object is to make us respect everything in the Holy Scriptures, but as
God has not expressly praised the foregoing doings of the daughters of
Lot and of Judah we are permitted to condemn them.

All the first Christians, without exception, thought of war like the
Quakers and Dunkards of the present day, and the Brahmins, both ancient
and modern. Tertullian is the father who is most explicit against this
legal species of murder, which our vile human nature renders expedient.
"No custom, no rule," says he, "can render this criminal destruction

Nevertheless, after assuring us that no Christian can carry arms, he
says, "by economy," in the same book, in order to intimidate the Roman
Empire, "although of such recent origin, we fill your cities and your

It is in the same spirit that he asserts that Pilate was a Christian in
his heart, and the whole of his apology is filled with similar
assertions, which redoubled the zeal of his proselytes.

Let us terminate these examples of the economical style, which are
numberless, by a passage of St. Jerome, in his controversy with Jovian
upon second marriages. The holy Jerome roundly asserts that it is plain,
by the formation of the two sexes--in the description of which he is
rather particular--that they are destined for each other, and for
propagation. It follows, therefore, that they are to make love without
ceasing, in order that their respective faculties may not be bestowed in
vain. This being the case, why should not men and women marry again?
Why, indeed, is a man to deny his wife to his friend if a cessation of
attention on his own part be personally convenient? He may present the
wife of another with a loaf of bread if she be hungry, and why may not
her other wants be supplied, if they are urgent? Functions are not given
to lie dormant, etc.

After such a passage it is useless to quote any more, but it is
necessary to remark, by the way, that the economical style, so
intimately connected with the polemical, ought to be employed with the
greatest circumspection, and that it belongs not to the profane to
imitate the things hazarded by the saints, either as regards the heat of
their zeal or the piquancy of their delivery.


According to some authors this word comes from "_electus_," chosen; it
does not appear that its etymology can be derived from any other Latin
word, since all is choice that is elegant. Elegance is the result of
regularity and grace.

This word is employed in speaking of painting and sculpture. _Elegans
signum_ is opposed to _signum rigens_--a proportionate figure, the
rounded outlines of which are expressed with softness, to a cold and
badly-finished figure.

The severity of the ancient Romans gave an odious sense to the word
"_elegantia_." They regarded all kinds of elegance as affectation and
far-fetched politeness, unworthy the gravity of the first ages. "_Vitæ
non laudi fuit_," says Aulus Gellius. They call him an "elegant man,"
whom in these days we designate a _petit-maître (bellus homuncio),_ and
which the English call a "beau"; but towards the time of Cicero, when
manners received their last degree of refinement, _elegans_ was always
deemed laudatory. Cicero makes use of this word in a hundred places to
describe a man or a polite discourse. At that time even a repast was
called elegant, which is scarcely the case among us.

This term among the French, as among the ancient Romans, is confined to
sculpture, painting, eloquence, and still more to poetry; it does not
precisely mean the same thing as grace.

The word "grace" applies particularly to the countenance, and we do not
say an elegant face, as we say elegant contours; the reason is that
grace always relates to something in motion, and it is in the
countenance that the mind appears; thus we do not say an elegant gait,
because gait includes motion.

The elegance of a discourse is not its eloquence; it is a part of it; it
is neither the harmony nor metre alone; it is clearness, metre, and
choice of words, united.

There are languages in Europe in which nothing is more scarce than an
elegant expression. Rude terminations, frequent consonants, and
auxiliary-verbs grammatically repeated in the same sentence, offend the
ears even of the natives themselves.

A discourse may be elegant without being good, elegance being, in
reality, only a choice of words; but a discourse cannot be absolutely
good without being elegant. Elegance is still more necessary to poetry
than eloquence, because it is a part of that harmony so necessary to

An orator may convince and affect even without elegance, purity, or
number; a poet cannot really do so without being elegant: it is one of
the principal merits of Virgil. Horace is much less elegant in his
satires and epistles, so that he is much less of a poet _sermoni

The great point in poetry and the oratorical art is that the elegance
should never appear forced; and the poet in that, as in other things,
has greater difficulties than the orator, for harmony being the base of
his art, he must not permit a succession of harsh syllables. He must
even sometimes sacrifice a little of the thought to elegance of
expression, which is a constraint that the orator never experiences.

It should be remarked that if elegance always appears easy, all that is
easy and natural is not, however, elegant.

It is seldom said of a comedy that it is elegantly written. The
simplicity and rapidity of a familiar dialogue exclude this merit, so
proper to all other poetry. Elegance would seem inconsistent with the
comic. A thing elegantly said would not be laughed at, though most of
the verses of Molière's "_Amphitryon,_" with the exception of those of
mere pleasantry, are elegantly written. The mixture of gods and men in
this piece, so unique in its kind, and the irregular verses, forming a
number of madrigals, are perhaps the cause.

A madrigal requires to be more elegant than an epigram, because the
madrigal bears somewhat the nature of the ode, and the epigram belongs
to the comic. The one is made to express a delicate sentiment, and the
other a ludicrous one.

Elegance should not be attended to in the sublime: it would weaken it.
If we read of the elegance of the Jupiter Olympus of Phidias, it would
be a satire. The elegance of the "Venus of Praxiteles" may be properly
alluded to.


Elias and Enoch are two very important personages of antiquity. They are
the only mortals who have been taken out of the world without having
first tasted of death. A very learned man has pretended that these are
allegorical personages. The father and mother of Elias are unknown. He
believes that his country, Gilead, signifies nothing but the
circulation of time. He proves it to have come from Galgala, which
signifies revolution. But what signifies the name of the village of

The word Elias has a sensible relation to that of Elios, the sun. The
burned sacrifice offered by Elias, and lighted by fire from heaven, is
an image of that which can be done by the united rays of the sun. The
rain which falls, after great heats, is also a physical truth.

The chariot of fire and the fiery horses, which bore Elias to heaven,
are a lively image of the four horses of the sun. The return of Elias at
the end of the world seems to accord with the ancient opinion, that the
sun would extinguish itself in the waters, in the midst of the general
destruction that was expected, for almost all antiquity was for a long
time persuaded that the world would sooner or later be destroyed.

We do not adopt these allegories; we only stand by those related in the
Old Testament.

Enoch is as singular a personage as Elias, only that Genesis names his
father and son, while the family of Elias is unknown. The inhabitants of
both East and West have celebrated this Enoch.

The Holy Scripture, which is our infallible guide, informs us that Enoch
was the father of Methuselah, or Methusalem, and that he only dwelt on
the earth three hundred and sixty-five years, which seems a very short
life for one of the first patriarchs. It is said that he walked in the
way of God and that he appeared no longer because God carried him away.
"It is that," says Calmet, "which makes the holy fathers and most of the
commentators assure us that Enoch still lives; that God has borne him
out of the world as well as Elias; that both will come before the last
judgment to oppose the antichrist; that Elias will preach to the Jews,
and Enoch to the Gentiles."

St. Paul, in his Epistle to the Hebrews--which has been contested--says
expressly, "by faith Enoch was translated, that he should not see death,
because death had translated him."

St. Justin, or somebody who had taken his name, says that Elias and
Enoch are in a terrestrial paradise, and that they there wait the second
coming of Jesus Christ.

St. Jerome, on the contrary, believes that Enoch and Elias are in
heaven. It is the same Enoch, the seventh man after Adam, who is
pretended to have written the book quoted by St. Jude.

Tertullian says that this work was preserved in the ark, and even that
Enoch made a second copy of it after the deluge.

This is what the Holy Scripture and the holy fathers relate of Enoch;
but the profane writers of the East tell us much more. They believe that
there really was an Enoch, and that he was the first who made slaves of
prisoners of war; they sometimes call him Enoc, and sometimes Edris.
They say that he was the same who gave laws to the Egyptians under the
name of Thaut, called by the Greeks Hermes Trismegistus. They give him a
son named Sabi, the author of the religion of the Sabæans.

There was a tradition in Phrygia on a certain Anach, the same whom the
Hebrews call Enoch. The Phrygians held this tradition from the Chaldæans
or Babylonians, who also recognized an Enoch, or Anach, as the inventor
of astronomy.

They wept for Enoch one day in the year in Phrygia, as they wept for
Adonis among the Phœnicians.

The ingenious and profound writer, who believes Elias a person purely
allegorical, thinks the same of Enoch. He believes that Enoch, Anach,
Annoch, signified the year; that the Orientals wept for it, as for
Adonis, and that they rejoiced at the commencement of the new year; that
Janus, afterwards known in Italy, was the ancient Anach, or Annoch, of
Asia; that not only Enoch formerly signified, among all nations, the
beginning and end of the year, but the last day of the week; that the
names of Anne, John, Januarius, Janvier, and January, all come from the
same source.

It is difficult to penetrate the depths of ancient history. When we
seize truth in the dark, we are never sure of retaining her. It is
absolutely necessary for a Christian to hold by the Scriptures, whatever
difficulty he may have in understanding them.


Eloquence was created before the rules of rhetoric, as the languages are
formed before grammar.

Nature renders men eloquent under the influence of great interests or
passions. A person much excited sees things with a different eye from
other men. To him all is the object of rapid comparison and metaphor.
Without premeditation, he vivifies all, and makes all who listen to him
partake of his enthusiasm.

A very enlightened philosopher has remarked that people often express
themselves by figures; that nothing is more common or more natural than
the turns called tropes.

Thus, in all languages, the heart burns, courage is kindled, the eyes
sparkle; the mind is oppressed, it is divided, it is exhausted; the
blood freezes, the head is turned upside down; we are inflated with
pride, intoxicated with vengeance. Nature is everywhere painted in these
strong images, which have become common.

It is from her that instinct learns to assume a modest tone and air,
when it is necessary. The natural desire of captivating our judges and
masters; the concentrated energies of a profoundly stricken soul, which
prepares to display the sentiments which oppress it, are the first
teachers of this art.

It is the same nature which sometimes inspires lively and animated
sallies; a strong impulse or a pressing danger prompts the imagination
suddenly. Thus a captain of the first caliphs, seeing the Mussulmans fly
from the field of battle, cried out, "Where are you running to? Your
enemies are not there."

This speech has been given to many captains; it is attributed to
Cromwell. Strong minds much oftener accord than fine wits.

Rasi, a Mussulman, captain of the time of Mahomet, seeing his Arabs
frightened at the death of their general, Derar, said to them, "What
does it signify that Derar is dead? God is living, and observes your

Where is there a more eloquent man than that English sailor who decided
the war against Spain in 1740? "When the Spaniards, having mutilated me,
were going to kill me, I recommended my soul to God, and my vengeance to
my country!"

Nature, then, elicits eloquence; and if it be said that poets are
created and orators formed, it is applicable only when eloquence is
forced to study the laws, the genius of the judges, and the manners of
the times. Nature alone is spontaneously eloquent.

The precepts always follow the art. Tisias was the first who collected
the laws of eloquence, of which nature gives the first rules. Plato
afterwards said, in his "_Gorgias_," that an orator should have the
subtlety of the logician, the science of the philosopher, almost the
diction of the poet, and the voice and gesture of the greatest actors.

Aristotle, also, showed that true philosophy is the secret guide to
perfection in all the arts. He discovered the sources of eloquence in
his "Book of Rhetoric." He showed that logic is the foundation of the
art of persuasion, and that to be eloquent is to know how to

He distinguished three kinds of eloquence: the deliberative, the
demonstrative, and the judiciary. The deliberative is employed to exhort
those who deliberate in taking a part in war, in peace, etc.; the
demonstrative, to show that which is worthy of praise or blame; the
judiciary, to persuade, absolve, condemn, etc.

He afterwards treats of the manners and passions with which all orators
should be acquainted.

He examines the proofs which should be employed in these three species
of eloquence, and finally he treats of elocution, without which all
would languish. He recommends metaphors, provided they are just and
noble; and, above all, he requires consistency and decorum.

All these precepts breathe the enlightened precision of a philosopher,
and the politeness of an Athenian; and, in giving the rules of
eloquence, he is eloquent with simplicity.

It is to be remarked, that Greece was the only country in the world in
which the laws of eloquence were then known, because it was the only one
in which true eloquence existed.

The grosser art was known to all men; sublime traits have everywhere
escaped from nature at all times; but to rouse the minds of the whole of
a polished nation--to please, convince, and affect at the same time,
belonged only to the Greeks.

The Orientals were almost all slaves; and it is one of the
characteristics of servitude to exaggerate everything. Thus the Asiatic
eloquence was monstrous. The West was barbarous in the time of

True eloquence began to show itself in the time of the Gracchi, and was
not perfected until the time of Cicero. Mark Antony, the orator
Hortensius, Curion, Cæsar, and several others, were eloquent men.

This eloquence perished with the republic, like that of Athens. Sublime
eloquence, it is said, belongs only to liberty; it consists in telling
bold truths, in displaying strong reasons and representations. A man
often dislikes truth, fears reason, and likes a well-turned compliment
better than the sublimest eloquence.

Cicero, after having given the examples in his harangues, gave the
precepts in his "Book of the Orator"; he followed almost all the methods
of Aristotle, and explained himself in the style of Plato.

It distinguishes the simple species, the temperate, and the sublime.

Rollin has followed this division in his "Treatise on Study"; and he
pretends that which Cicero does not, that the "temperate" is a
beautiful river, shaded with green forests on both sides; the "simple,"
a properly-served table, of which all the meats are of excellent flavor,
and from which all refinement is banished; that the "sublime" thunders
forth, and is an impetuous current which overthrows all that resists it.

Without sitting down to this table, without following this thunderbolt,
this current, or this river, every man of sense must see that simple
eloquence is that which has simple things to expose, and that clearness
and elegance are all that are necessary to it.

There is no occasion to read Aristotle, Cicero, and Quintilian, to feel
that an advocate who begins by a pompous exordium on the subject of a
partition wall is ridiculous; it was, however, the fault of the bar
until the middle of the seventeenth century; they spoke with emphasis of
the most trivial things. Volumes of these examples may be compiled; but
all might be reduced to this speech of a witty advocate, who, observing
that his adversary was speaking of the Trojan war and of Scamander,
interrupted him by saying, "The court will observe that my client is not
called Scamander, but Michaut." The sublime species can only regard
powerful interests, treated of in a great assembly.

There may still be seen lively traces of it in the Parliament of
England': several harangues partook of it which were pronounced there in
1739, when they debated about declaring war against Spain. The spirits
of Cicero and Demosthenes seem to have dictated several passages in
their speeches; but they will not descend to posterity like those of the
Greeks and Romans, because they want the art and charm of diction, which
place the seal of immortality on good works.

The temperate species is that of those preparatory discourses, of those
public speeches, and of those studied compliments, in which the
deficiency of matter must be concealed with flowers.

These three species are often mingled, as also the three objects of
eloquence, according to Aristotle: the great merit of the orator
consists in uniting them with judgment.

Great eloquence can scarcely be known to the bar in France, because it
does not conduct to honors, as in Athens, Rome, and at present in
London; neither has it great public interests for its object; it is
confined to funeral orations, in which it borders a little upon poetry.

Bossuet, and after him Fléchier, seem to have obeyed that precept of
Plato, which teaches us that the elocution of an orator may sometimes be
the same as that of a poet.

Pulpit oratory had been almost barbarous until P. Bourdaloue; he was one
of the first who caused reason to be spoken there.

The English did not arrive at that art until a later date, as is avowed
by Burnet, bishop of Salisbury. They knew not the funeral oration; they
avoided, in their sermons, all those vehement turns which appeared not
to them consistent with the simplicity of the Gospel; and they were
diffident of using those far-fetched divisions which are condemned by
Arch-bishop Fénelon, in his dialogues "_Sur l'Éloquence_."

Though our sermons turn on the most important subjects to man, they
supply few of those striking parts which, like the fine passages of
Cicero and Demosthenes, are fit to become the models of all the western
nations. The reader will therefore be glad to learn the effect produced
by M. Massillon, since bishop of Clermont, the first time that he
preached his famous sermon on the small number of the elect. A kind of
transport seized all the audience; they rose involuntarily; the murmurs
of acclamation and surprise were so great as to disturb the orator; and
this confusion only served to augment the pathos of his discourse. The
following is the passage:

"I will suppose that this is our last hour, that the heavens open over
our heads, that time is past, and that eternity commences; that Jesus
Christ is going to appear to judge us according to our works, and that
we are all here to receive from Him the sentence of eternal life or
death: I ask you, overwhelmed with terror like yourselves, without
separating my lot from your own, and putting myself in the same
situation in which we must all one day appear before God our judge--if
Jesus Christ were now to make the terrible separation of the just from
the unjust, do you believe that the greater part would be saved? Do you
believe that the number of the righteous would be in the least degree
equal to the number of the sinners? Do you believe that, if He now
discussed the works of the great number who are in this church, He would
find ten righteous souls among us? Would He find a single one?"

There are several different editions of this discourse, but the
substance is the same in all of them.

This figure, the boldest which was ever employed, and the best timed, is
one of the finest turns of eloquence which can be read either among the
ancients or moderns; and the rest of the discourse is not unworthy of
this brilliant appeal.

Preachers who cannot imitate these fine models would do well to learn
them by heart, and deliver them to their congregations--supposing that
they have the rare talent of declamation--instead of preaching to them,
in a languishing style, things as common-place as they are useless.

It is asked, if eloquence be permitted to historians? That which belongs
to them consists in the art of arranging events, in being always elegant
in their expositions, sometimes lively and impressive, sometimes
elaborate and florid; in being strong and true in their pictures of
general manners and principal personages, and in the reflections
naturally incorporated with the narrative, so that they should not
appear to be obtruded. The eloquence of Demosthenes belongs not to
Thucydides; a studied harangue, put into the mouth of a hero who never
pronounced it is, in the opinion of many enlightened minds, nothing more
than a splendid defect.

If, however, these licences be permitted, the following is an occasion
in which Mézeray, in his great history, may obtain grace for a boldness
so approved by the ancients, to whom he is equal, at least on this
occasion. It is at the commencement of the reign of Henry IV., when that
prince, with very few troops, was opposed near Dieppe by an army of
thirty thousand men, and was advised to retire into England, Mézeray
excels himself in making a speech for Marshal Biron, who really was a
man of genius, and might have said a part of that which the historian
attributes to him:

"What, sire, are you advised to cross the sea, as if there was no other
way of preserving your kingdom than by quitting it? If you were not in
France, your friends would have you run all hazards and surmount all
obstacles to get there; and now you are here, they would have you
depart--would have you voluntarily do that to which the greatest efforts
of your enemies ought not to constrain you! In your present state, to go
out of France only for four-and-twenty hours would be to banish yourself
from it forever. As to the danger, it is not so great as represented;
those who think to overcome us are either the same whom we shut up so
easily in Paris, or people who are not much better, and will rapidly
have more subjects of dispute among themselves than against us. In
short, sire, we are in France, and we must remain here; we must show
ourselves worthy of it; we must either conquer it or die for it; and
even when there is no other safety for your sacred person than in
flight, I well know that you would a thousand times rather die planted
in the soil, than save yourself by such means. Your majesty would never
suffer it to be said that a younger brother of the house of Lorraine had
made you retire, and, still less, that you had been seen to beg at the
door of a foreign prince. No, no, sire--there is neither crown nor honor
for you across the sea; if you thus demand the succor of England, it
will not be granted; if you present yourself at the port of Rochelle, as
a man anxious to save himself, you will only meet with reproaches and
contempt. I cannot believe that you would rather trust your person to
the inconstancy of the waves, or the mercy of a stranger, than to so
many brave gentlemen and old soldiers, who are ready to serve you as
ramparts and bucklers; and I am too much devoted to your majesty to
conceal from you, that if you seek your safety elsewhere than in their
virtue, they will be obliged to seek theirs in a different party from
your own."

This fine speech which Mézeray puts into the mouth of Marshal Biron is
no doubt what Henry IV. felt in his heart.

Much more might be said upon the subject; but the books treating of
eloquence have already said too much; and in an enlightened age,
genius, aided by examples, knows more of it than can be taught by all
the masters in the world.



In Antiquity, everything is emblematical and figurative. The Chaldæans
began with placing a ram, two kids, and a bull among the constellations,
to indicate the productions of the earth in spring. In Persia, fire is
the emblem of the divinity; the celestial dog gives notice to the
Egyptians of the inundations of the Nile; the serpent, concealing its
tail in its head, becomes the image of eternity. All nature is painted
and disguised.

There are still to be found in India many of those gigantic and terrific
statues which we have already mentioned, representing virtue furnished
with ten arms, with which it may successfully contend against the vices,
and which our poor missionaries mistook for representations of the
devil; taking it for granted, that all those who did not speak French or
Italian were worshippers of the devil.

Show all these symbols devised by antiquity to a man of clear sense, but
who has never heard them at all mentioned or alluded to, and he will not
have the slightest idea of their meaning. It would be to him a perfectly
new language.

The ancient poetical theologians were under the necessity of ascribing
to the deity eyes, hands, and feet; of describing him under the figure
of a man.

St. Clement of Alexandria quotes verses from Xenophanes the Colophonian,
which state that every species of animal supplies metaphor to aid the
imagination in its ideas of the deity--the wings of the bird, the speed
of the horse, and the strength of the lion. It is evident, from these
verses of Xenophanes, that it is by no means a practice of recent date
for men to represent God after their own image. The ancient Thracian
Orpheus, the first theologian among the Greeks, who lived long before
Homer, according to the same Clement of Alexandria, describes God as
seated upon the clouds, and tranquilly ruling the whirlwind and the
storm. His feet reach the earth, and His hands extend from one ocean to
the other. He is the beginning, middle, and end of all things.

Everything being thus represented by figure and emblem, philosophers,
and particularly those among them who travelled to India, employed the
same method; their precepts were emblems, were enigmas.

"Stir not the fire with a sword:" that is, aggravate not men who are

"Place not a lamp under a bushel:" conceal not the truth from men.

"Abstain from beans:" frequent not popular assemblies, in which votes
were given by white or black beans.

"Have no swallows about your house:" keep away babblers.

"During a tempest, worship the echo:" while civil broils endure,
withdraw into retirement.

"Never write on snow:" throw not away instruction upon weak and imbecile

"Never devour either your heart or your brains:" never give yourself up
to useless anxiety or intense study.

Such are the maxims of Pythagoras, the meaning of which is sufficiently

The most beautiful of all emblems is that of God, whom Timæus of Locris
describes under the image of "A circle whose centre is everywhere and
circumference nowhere." Plato adopted this emblem, and Pascal inserted
it among his materials for future use, which he entitled his "Thoughts."

In metaphysics and in morals, the ancients have said everything. We
always encounter or repeat them. All modern books of this description
are merely repetitions.

The farther we advance eastward, the more prevalent and established we
find the employment of emblems and figures: but, at the same time, the
images in use are more remote from our own manners and customs.

The emblems which appear most singular to us are those which were in
frequent if not in sacred use among the Indians, Egyptians, and Syrians.
These people bore aloft in their solemn processions, and with the most
profound respect, the appropriate organs for the perpetuation of the
species--the symbols of life. We smile at such practices, and consider
these people as simple barbarians. What would they have said on seeing
us enter our temples wearing at our sides the weapons of destruction?

At Thebes, the sins of the people were represented by a goat. On the
coast of Phœnicia, a naked woman with the lower part of her body like
that of a fish was the emblem of nature.

We cannot be at all surprised if this employment of symbols extended to
the Hebrews, as they constituted a people near the Desert of Syria.

_Of Some Emblems Used by the Jewish Nation._

One of the most beautiful emblems in the Jewish books, is the following
exquisite passage in Ecclesiastes:

"When the grinders shall cease because they are few; when those that
look out of the windows shall be darkened; when the almond tree shall
flourish; when the grasshopper shall become a burden; when desire shall
fail; the silver cord be loosed; the golden bowl be fractured: and the
pitcher broken at the fountain."

The meaning is, that the aged lose their teeth; that their sight becomes
impaired; that their hair becomes white, like the blossom of the almond
tree; that their feet become like the grasshopper; that their hair drops
off like the leaves of the fir tree; that they have lost the power of
communicating life; and that it is time for them to prepare for their
long journey.

The "Song of Songs," as is well known, is a continued emblem of the
marriage of Jesus Christ with the church.

"Let him kiss me with a kiss of his mouth, for thy breasts are better
than wine. Let him put his left hand under my head, and embrace me with
his right hand. How beautiful art thou, my love: thy eyes are like those
of the dove; thy hair is as a flock of goats; thy lips are like a ribbon
of scarlet, and thy cheeks like pomegranates; how beautiful is thy neck!
how thy lips drop honey! my beloved put in his hand by the hole of the
door, and my bowels were moved for him; thy navel is like a round
goblet; thy belly is like a heap of wheat set about with lilies; thy two
breasts are like two young roes that are twins; thy neck is like a tower
of ivory; thy nose is as the tower of Lebanon; thy head is like Mount
Carmel; thy stature is that of a palm tree. I said, I will ascend the
palm tree and will gather of its fruits. What shall we do for our little
sister? she has no breasts. If she be a wall, we will build upon her a
tower of silver; if she be a door, we will enclose her with boards of

It would be necessary to translate the whole canticle, in order to see
that it is an emblem from beginning to end. The ingenious Calmet, in
particular, demonstrates that the palm tree which the lover ascended is
the cross to which our Lord Jesus Christ was condemned. It must however
be confessed, that sound and pure moral doctrine is preferable to these

We find in the books of this people a great number of emblems and types
which shock at the present day, and excite at once our incredulity and
ridicule, but which, to the Asiatics, appear clear, natural, and

God appeared to Isaiah, the son of Amos, and said to him, "Go take thy
girdle from thy loins and thy shoes from thy feet," and he did so,
walking naked and barefoot. And the Lord said, "Like as my servant
Isaiah hath walked naked and barefoot for three years for a sign upon
Egypt and Ethiopia, so shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptian
and Ethiopian prisoners, young and old, naked and barefoot, with their
hind parts uncovered, to the shame of Egypt."

This appears to us exceedingly strange: but let us inform ourselves a
little about what is passing in our own times among Turks, and Africans,
and in India, where we go to trade with so much avidity and so little
success. We shall learn that it is by no means unusual to see the
santons there absolutely naked, and not only in that state preaching to
women, but permitting them to salute particular parts of their body, yet
neither indulging or inspiring the slightest portion of licentious or
unchaste feeling. We shall see on the banks of the Ganges an
innumerable company both of men and women naked from head to foot,
extending their arms towards heaven, and waiting for the moment of an
eclipse to plunge into the river. The citizens of Paris and Rome should
not be too ready to think all the rest of the world bound down to the
same modes of living and thinking as themselves.

Jeremiah, who prophesied in the reign of Jehoiakim, king of Jerusalem,
in favor of the king of Babylon, puts chains and cords about his neck,
by order of the Lord, and sends them to the kings of Edom, Ammon, Tyre
and Sidon, by their ambassadors who had been sent to Zedekiah at
Jerusalem. He commands them to address their master in these words:

"Thus saith the Lord of Hosts the God of Israel, thus shall ye say unto
your masters: I have made the earth, the men, and the beasts of burden
which are upon the ground, by my great power and by my outstretched arm,
and have given it unto whom it seemed good unto me. And now have I given
all these lands into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon,
my servant, and all the beasts of the field have I given him besides,
that they may serve him. I spake also all these words to Zedekiah, king
of Judah, saying unto him, submit your neck to the yoke of the king of
Babylon, serve him, him and his people, and you shall live," etc.

Accordingly, Jeremiah was accused of betraying his king, and of
prophesying in favor of the enemy for the sake of money. It has even
been asserted that he was stoned. It is clear that the cords and chains
were the emblem of that servitude to which Jeremiah was desirous that
the nation should submit.

In a similar manner we are told by Herodotus, that one of the kings of
Scythia sent Darius a present of a bird, a mouse, a frog, and five
arrows. This emblem implied that, if Darius did not fly as fast as a
bird, a mouse, or a frog, he would be pierced by the arrows of the
Scythians. The allegory of Jeremiah was that of weakness; the emblem of
the Scythians was that of courage.

Thus, also, when Sextus Tarquinius consulted his father, whom we call
Tarquinius Superbus, about the policy he should adopt to the Gabii,
Tarquin, who was walking in his garden, answered only by striking off
the heads of the tallest poppies. His son caught his meaning, and put to
death the principal citizens among them. This was the emblem of tyranny.

Many learned men have been of opinion that the history of Daniel, of the
dragon, of the den of seven lions who devoured every day two sheep and
two men, and the history of the angel who transported Habakkuk by the
hair of his head to dine with Daniel in the lion's den, are nothing more
than a visible allegory, an emblem of the continual vigilance with which
God watches over his servants. But it seems to us a proof of greater
piety to believe that it is a real history, like many we find in the
Sacred Scriptures, displaying without figure and type the divine power,
and which profane minds are not permitted to explore. Let us consider
those only as genuine emblems and allegories, which are indicated to us
as such by Holy Scripture itself.

"In the thirteenth year and the fifteenth day of the fourth month, as I
was in the midst of the captives on the banks of the river Chobar, the
heavens were opened, and I saw the visions of God," etc. "The word of
the Lord came to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the
Chaldæans by the river Chobar, and the hand of the Lord was upon him."

It is thus that Ezekiel begins his prophecy; and, after having seen a
fire and a whirlwind, and in the midst of the fire four living animals
resembling a man, having four faces and four wings with feet resembling
those of calves, and a wheel which was upon the earth, and which had
four parts, the four parts of the wheel going at the same time, etc.

He goes on to say, "The spirit entered into me, and placed me firm upon
my feet.... Then the Lord said unto me: 'Son of man, eat that thou
findest; eat this book, and go and speak to the children of Israel.' So
I opened my mouth, and He caused me to eat that book. And the spirit
entered into me and made me stand upon my feet. And he said unto me: 'Go
and shut thyself up in the midst of thy house. Son of man, these are the
chains with which thou shalt set thy face firm against it; thou shalt
be bound,'" etc. "'And thou, son of man, take a tile and place it before
thee and portray thereon the city of Jerusalem.'"

"'Take also a pan of iron, and thou shalt place it as a wall of iron
between thee and the city; thou shalt be before Jerusalem as if thou
didst besiege it; it is a sign to the house of Israel.'"

After this command God orders him to sleep three hundred and ninety days
on his left side, on account of the iniquities of the house of Judah.

Before we go further we will transcribe the words of that judicious
commentator Calmet, on this part of Ezekiel's prophecy, which is at once
a history and an allegory, a real truth and an emblem. These are the
remarks of that learned Benedictine:

"There are some who think that the whole of this occurred merely in
vision; that a man cannot continue lying so long on the same side
without a miracle; that, as the Scripture gives us no intimation that
this is a prodigy, we ought not to multiply miraculous acts without
necessity; that, if the prophet continued lying in that manner for three
hundred and ninety days, it was only during the nights; in the day he
was at liberty to attend to his affairs. But we do not see any necessity
for recurring to a miracle, nor for any circuitous explanation of the
case here stated. It is by no means impossible for a man to continue
chained and lying on his side for three hundred and ninety days. We
have every day before us cases which prove the possibility among
prisoners, sick persons, and persons deranged and chained in a state of
raving madness. Prado testifies that he saw a mad person who continued
bound and lying quite naked on his side upwards of fifteen years. If all
this had occurred only in vision, how could' the Jews of the captivity
have comprehended what Ezekiel meant to say to them? How would that
prophet have been able to execute the divine commands? We must in that
case admit likewise that he did not prepare the plan of Jerusalem, that
he did not represent the siege, that he was not bound, that he did not
eat the bread of different kinds of grain in any other than the same
way; namely, that of vision, or ideally."

We cannot but adopt the opinion of the learned Calmet, which is that of
the most respectable interpreters. It is evident that the Holy Scripture
recounts the matter as a real truth, and that such truth is the emblem,
type, and figure of another truth.

"Take unto thee wheat and barley, and beans and lentils, and millet and
vetches, and make cakes of them for as many days as thou art to sleep on
thy side. Thou shalt eat for three hundred and ninety days ... thou
shalt eat it as barley cakes, and thou shalt cover it with human ordure.
Thus shall the children of Israel eat their bread defiled."

It is evident that the Lord was desirous that the Israelites should eat
their bread defiled. It follows therefore that the bread of the prophet
must have been defiled also. This defilement was so real that Ezekiel
expressed actual horror at it. "Alas!" he exclaimed, "my life (my soul)
has not hitherto been polluted," etc. And the Lord says to him, "I allow
thee, then, cow's dung instead of man's, and with that shalt thou
prepare thy bread."

It appears, therefore, to have been absolutely essential that the food
should be defiled in order to its becoming an emblem or type. The
prophet in fact put cow-dung with his bread for three hundred and ninety
days, and the case includes at once a fact and a symbol.

_Of the Emblem of Aholah and Aholibah._

The Holy Scripture expressly declares that Aholah is the emblem of
Jerusalem. "Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations; thy
father was an Amorite, and thy mother was a Hittite." The prophet then,
without any apprehension of malignant interpretations or wanton
railleries, addresses the young Aholah in the following words:

"_Ubera tua intumuerunt, et pilus tuus germinavit; et eras nuda et
confusione plena_."--"Thy breasts were fashioned, and thy hair was
grown, and thou wast naked and confused."

"_Et transivi per te; et ecce tempus tuum, tempus amantium; et expandi
amictum meum super te et operui ignominiam tuam. Et juravi tibi, et
ingressus sum pactum tecum (ait Dominus Deus), et facta es mihi_."--"I
passed by and saw thee; and saw thy time was come, thy time for lovers;
and I spread my mantle over thee and concealed thy shame. And I swore
to thee, and entered into a contract with thee, and thou becamest mine."

"_Et habens fiduciam in pulchritudine tua fornicata es in nomine tuo; et
exposuisti fornicationem tuam omni transeunti, at ejus fieres_."--"And,
proud of thy beauty, thou didst commit fornication without disguise, and
hast exposed thy fornication to every passerby, to become his."

"_Et ædificavisti tibi lupanar, et fecisti tibi prostibulum in cunctis
plateis_."--"And thou hast built a high place for thyself, and a place
of eminence in every public way."

"_Et divisisti pedes tuos omni transeunti, et multiplicasti
fornicationes tuas_."--"And thou hast opened thy feet to every passerby,
and hast multiplied thy fornications."

"_Et fornicata es cum filiis Egypti vicinis tuis, magnarum carnium; et
multiplicasti fornicationem tuam ad irritandum me_."--"And thou hast
committed fornication with the Egyptians thy neighbors, powerful in the
flesh; and thou hast multiplied thy fornication to provoke me."

The article of Aholibah, which signifies Samaria, is much stronger and
still further removed from the propriety and decorum of modern manners
and language.

"_Denudavit quoque fornicationes suas, discooperuit ignominiam
suam_."--"And she has made bare her fornications and discovered her

"_Multiplicavit enim fornicationes suas, recordans dies adolescentiæ
suæ_."--"For she has multiplied her fornications, remembering the days
of her youth."

"_Et insanivit libidine super concubitum eorum carnes sunt ut carnes
asinorum, et sicut fluxus equorum, fluxus eorum_."--"And she has
maddened for the embraces of those whose flesh is as the flesh of asses,
and whose issue is as the issue of horses."

These images strike us as licentious and revolting. They were at that
time simply plain and ingenuous. There are numerous instances of the
like in the "Song of Songs," intended to celebrate the purest of all
possible unions. It must be attentively considered that these
expressions and images are always delivered with seriousness and
gravity, and that in no book of equally high antiquity is the slightest
jeering or raillery ever applied to the great subject of human
production. When dissoluteness is condemned, it is so in natural and
undisguised terms, but such are never used to stimulate voluptuousness
or pleasantry.

This high antiquity has not the slightest touch of similarity to the
licentiousness of Martial, Catullus, or Petronius.

_Of Hosea, and Some Other Emblems._

We cannot regard as a mere vision, as simply a figure, the positive
command given by the Lord to Hosea to take to himself a wife of
whoredoms and have by her three children. Children are not produced in
a dream. It is not in a vision that he made a contract with Gomer, the
daughter of Diblaim, by whom he had two boys and a girl. It was not in a
vision that he afterwards took to himself an adulteress by the express
order of the Lord, giving her fifteen pieces of silver and a measure and
a half of barley.

The first of these disgraced women signified Jerusalem and the second
Samaria. But the two unions with these worthless persons, the three
children, the fifteen pieces of silver, and the bushel and a half of
barley, were not the less real for having included or been intended as
an emblem.

It was not in a vision that the patriarch Salmon married the harlot
Rahab, the grandmother of David. It was not in a vision that Judah
committed incest with his daughter-in-law Thamar, from which incest
sprang David. It was not in a vision that Ruth, David's other
grandmother, placed herself in the bed with Boaz. It was not in a vision
that David murdered Uriah and committed adultery with Bathsheba, of whom
was born King Solomon. But, subsequently, all these events became
emblems and figures, after the things which they typified were

It is perfectly clear, from Ezekiel, Hosea, Jeremiah, and all the Jewish
prophets, and all the Jewish books, as well as from all other books
which give us any information concerning the usages of the Chaldæans,
Persians, Phœnicians, Syrians, Indians, and Egyptians; it is, I say,
perfectly clear that their manners were very different from ours, and
that the ancient world was scarcely in a single point similar to the
modern one.

Pass from Gibraltar to Mequinez, and the decencies and decorums of life
are no longer the same; you no longer find the same ideas. Two sea
leagues have changed everything.



It is not in the smallest degree probable that all those abominable
absurdities are owing, as Pluche would have us believe, to the foliage
with which the heads of Isis and Osiris were formerly crowned. What
connection can this foliage have with the art of charming serpents, with
that of resuscitating the dead, killing men by mere words, inspiring
persons with love, or changing men into beasts?

Enchantment (_incantatio_) comes, say some, from a Chaldee word, which
the Greeks translate "productive song." _Incantatio_ comes from the
Chaldee. Truly, the Bocharts are great travellers and proceed from Italy
to Mesopotamia in a twinkling! The great and learned Hebrew nation is
rapidly explored, and all sorts of books, and all sorts of usages, are
the fruits of the journey; the Bocharts are certainly not charlatans.

Is not a large portion of the absurd superstitions which have prevailed
to be ascribed to very natural causes? There are scarcely any animals
that may not be accustomed to approach at the sound of a bagpipe, or a
single horn, to take their food. Orpheus, or some one of his
predecessors, played the bagpipe better than other shepherds, or
employed singing. All the domestic animals flocked together at the sound
of his voice. It was soon supposed that bears and tigers were among the
number collected; this first step accomplished, there was no difficulty
in believing that Orpheus made stones and trees dance.

If rocks and pine-trees can be thus made to dance a ballet, it will cost
little more to build cities by harmony, and the stones will easily
arrange themselves at Amphion's song. A violin only will be wanted to
build a city, and a ram's horn to destroy it.

The charming of serpents may be attributed to a still more plausible
cause. The serpent is neither a voracious nor a ferocious animal. Every
reptile is timid. The first thing a reptile does, at least in Europe, on
seeing a man, is to hide itself in a hole, like a rabbit or a lizard.
The instinct of a man is to pursue everything that flies from him, and
to fly from all that pursue him, except when he is armed, when he feels
his strength, and, above all, when he is in the presence of many

The serpent, far from being greedy of blood and flesh, feeds only upon
herbs, and passes a considerable time without eating at all; if he
swallows a few insects, as lizards and chameleons do, he does us a

All travellers relate that there are some very large and long ones;
although we know of none such in Europe. No man or child was ever
attacked there by a large serpent or a small one. Animals attack only
what they want to eat; and dogs never bite passengers but in defence of
their masters. What could a serpent do with a little infant? What
pleasure could it derive from biting it? It could not swallow even the
fingers. Serpents do certainly bite, and squirrels also, but only when
they are injured, or are fearful of being so.

I am not unwilling to believe that there have been monsters among
serpents as well as among men. I will admit that the army of Regulus was
put under arms in Africa against a dragon; and that there has since been
a Norman there who fought against the waterspout. But it will be
granted, on the other hand, that such cases are exceedingly rare.

The two serpents that came from Tenedos for the express purpose of
devouring Laocoon, and two great lads twenty years of age, in the
presence of the whole Trojan army, form a very fine prodigy, and one
worthy of being transmitted to posterity by hexameter verses, and by
statues which represent Laocoon like a giant, and his stout boys as

I conceive this event to have happened in those times when a prodigious
wooden horse took cities which had been built by the gods, when rivers
flowed backward to their fountains, when waters were changed to blood,
and both sun and moon stood still on the slightest possible occasion.

Everything that has been related about serpents was considered probable
in countries in which Apollo came down from heaven to slay the serpent

Serpents were also supposed to be exceedingly sensible animals. Their
sense consists in not running so fast as we do, and in suffering
themselves to be cut in pieces.

The bite of serpents, and particularly of vipers, is not dangerous,
except when irritation has produced the fermentation of a small
reservoir of very acid humor which they have under their gums. With this
exception, a serpent is no more dangerous than an eel.

Many ladies have tamed and fed serpents, placed them on their toilets,
and wreathed them about their arms. The negroes of Guinea worship a
serpent which never injures any one.

There are many species of those reptiles, and some are more dangerous
than others in hot countries; but in general, serpents are timid and
mild animals; it is not uncommon to see them sucking the udder of a cow.

Those who first saw men more daring than themselves domesticate and feed
serpents, inducing them to come to them by a hissing sound in a similar
way to that by which we induce the approach of bees, considered them as
possessing the power of enchantment. The Psilli and Marsæ, who
familiarly handled and fondled serpents, had a similar reputation. The
apothecaries of Poitou, who take up vipers by the tail, might also, if
they chose, be respected as magicians of the first order.

The charming of serpents was considered as a thing regular and constant.
The Sacred Scripture itself, which always enters into our weaknesses,
deigned to conform itself to this vulgar idea.

"The deaf adder, which shuts its ears that it may not hear the voice of
the charmer."

"I will send among you serpents which will resist enchantments."

"The slanderer is like the serpent, which yields not to the enchanter."

The enchantment was sometimes so powerful as to make serpents burst
asunder. The natural philosophy of antiquity made this animal immortal.
If any rustic found a dead serpent in his road, some enchanter must
inevitably have deprived it of its right to immortality:

     _Frigidus in pratis cantando rumpitur anguis._
                                     --VIRG. _Eclogue_ viii. 71.
     Verse breaks the ground, and penetrates the brake,
     And in the winding cavern splits the snake.

_Enchantment of the Dead, or Evocation._

To enchant a dead person, to resuscitate him, or barely to evoke his
shade to speak to him, was the most simple thing in the world. It is
very common to see the dead in dreams, in which they are spoken to and
return answers. If any one has seen them during sleep, why may he not
see them when he is awake? It is only necessary to have a spirit like
the pythoness; and, to bring this spirit of python-ism into successful
operation it is only necessary that one party should be a knave and the
other a fool; and no one can deny that such _rencontres_ very frequently

The evocation of the dead was one of the sublimest mysteries of magic.
Sometimes there was made to pass before the eyes of the inquiring
devotee a large, black figure, moved by secret springs in dimness and
obscurity. Sometimes the performers, whether sorcerers or witches,
limited themselves to declaring that _they_ saw the shade which was
desired to be evoked, and their word was sufficient; this was called
necromancy. The famous witch of Endor has always been a subject of great
dispute among the fathers of the Church. The sage Theodoret, in his
sixty-second question on the Book of Kings, asserts that it is
universally the practice for the dead to appear with the head downwards,
and that what terrified the witch was Samuel's being upon his legs.

St. Augustine, when interrogated by Simplicion, replies, in the second
book of his "Questions," that there is nothing more extraordinary in a
witch's invoking a shade than in the devil's transporting Jesus Christ
through the air to the pinnacle of the temple on the top of a mountain.

Some learned men, observing that there were oracular spirits among the
Jews, have ventured to conclude that the Jews began to write only at a
late period, and that they built almost everything upon Greek fable; but
this opinion cannot be maintained.

_Of Other Sorceries._

When a man is sufficiently expert to evoke the dead by words, he may yet
more easily destroy the living, or at least threaten them with doing so,
as the physician, _malgré lui_, told Lucas that he would give him a
fever. At all events, it was not in the slightest degree doubtful that
sorcerers had the power of killing beasts; and, to insure the stock of
cattle, it was necessary to oppose sorcery to sorcery. But the ancients
can with little propriety be laughed at by us, who are ourselves
scarcely even yet extricated from the same barbarism. A hundred years
have not yet expired since sorcerers were burned all over Europe; and
even as recently as 1750, a sorceress, or witch, was burned at Wurzburg.
It is unquestionable that certain words and ceremonies will effectually
destroy a flock of sheep, if administered with a sufficient portion of

The "Critical, History of Superstitious Ceremonies," by Lebrun of the
Oratory, is a singular work. His object is to oppose the ridiculous
doctrine of witchcraft, and yet he is himself so ridiculous as to
believe in its reality. He pretends that Mary Bucaille, the witch, while
in prison at Valognes, _appeared_ at some leagues distance, according to
the evidence given on oath to the judge of Valognes. He relates the
famous prosecution of the shepherds of Brie, condemned in 1691, by the
Parliament of Paris, to be hanged and burned. These shepherds had been
fools enough to think themselves sorcerers, and villains enough to mix
real poisons with their imaginary sorceries.

Father Lebrun solemnly asserts that there was much of what was
"supernatural" in what they did, and that they were hanged in
consequence. The sentence of the parliament is in direct opposition to
this author's statement. "The court declares the accused duly attainted
and convicted of superstitions, impieties, sacrileges, profanations, and

The sentence does not state that the death of the cattle was caused by
profanations, but by poison. A man may commit sacrilege without as well
as with poison, without being a sorcerer.

Other judges, I acknowledge, sentenced the priest Ganfredi to be burned,
in the firm belief that, by the influence of the devil, he had an
illicit commerce with all his female penitents. Ganfredi himself
imagined that he was under that influence; but that was in 1611, a
period when the majority of our provincial population was very little
raised above the Caribs and negroes. Some of this description have
existed even in our own times; as, for example, the Jesuit Girard, the
ex-Jesuit Nonnotte, the Jesuit Duplessis, and the ex-Jesuit Malagrida;
but this race of imbeciles is daily hastening to extinction.

With respect to lycanthropy, that is, the transformation of men into
wolves by the power of enchantment, we may observe that a young
shepherd's having killed a wolf, and clothed himself with its skin, was
enough to excite the terror of all the old women of the district, and to
spread throughout the province, and thence through other provinces, the
notion of a man's having been changed into a wolf. Some Virgil will soon
be found to say:

     _His ego sæpe lupum fieri, et se condere silvis_
     _Mœrim sæpe animas imis exire sepulchris._

     Smeared with these powerful juices on the plain.
     He howls a wolf among the hungry train,
     And oft the mighty necromancer boasts
     With these to call from tombs the stalking ghosts.

To see a man-wolf must certainly be a great curiosity; but to see human
souls must be more curious still; and did not the monks of Monte Cassino
see the soul of the holy Benedict, or Bennet? Did not the monks of Tours
see St. Martin's? and the monks of St. Denis that of Charles Martel?

_Enchantments to Kindle Love._

These were for the young. They were vended by the Jews at Rome and
Alexandria, and are at the present day sold in Asia. You will find some
of these secrets in the "_Petit Albert_"; and will become further
initiated by reading the pleading composed by Apuleius on his being
accused by a Christian, whose daughter he had married, of having
bewitched her by philtres. Emilian, his father-in-law, alleged that he
had made use of certain fishes, since, Venus having been born of the
sea, fishes must necessarily have prodigious influence in exciting women
to love.

What was generally made use of consisted of vervain, tenia, and
hippomanes; or a small portion of the secundine of a mare that had just
foaled, together with a little bird called wagtail; in Latin

But Apuleius was chiefly accused of having employed shell-fish, lobster
patties, she-hedgehogs, spiced oysters, and cuttle-fish, which was
celebrated for its productiveness.

Apuleius clearly explains the real philtre, or charm, which had excited
Pudentilla's affection for him. He undoubtedly admits, in his defence,
that his wife had called him a magician. "But what," says he, "if she
had called me a consul, would that have made me one?"

The plant satyrion was considered both among the Greeks and Romans as
the most powerful of philtres. It was called _planto aphrodisia_, the
plant of Venus. That called by the Latins _eruca_ is now often added to
the former.--_Et venerem revocans eruca morantem._

A little essence of amber is frequently used. Mandragora has gone out
of fashion. Some exhausted debauchees have employed cantharides, which
strongly affect the susceptible parts of the frame, and often produce
severe and painful consequences.

Youth and health are the only genuine philtres. Chocolate was for a long
time in great celebrity with our debilitated _petits-maîtres_. But a man
may take twenty cups of chocolate without inspiring any attachment to
his person.--"_... ut amoris amabilis esto_." (Ovid, A. A. ii.,
107.)--"Wouldst thou be loved, be amiable."


The greater part of the Greek philosophers held the universe to be
eternal both with respect to commencement and duration. But as to this
petty portion of the world or universe, this globe of stone and earth
and water, of minerals and vapors, which we inhabit, it was somewhat
difficult to form an opinion; it was, however, deemed very destructible.
It was even said that it had been destroyed more than once, and would be
destroyed again. Every one judged of the whole world from his own
particular country, as an old woman judges of all mankind from those in
her own nook and neighborhood.

This idea of the end of our little world and its renovation strongly
possessed the imagination of the nations under subjection to the Roman
Empire, amidst the horrors of the civil wars between Cæsar and Pompey.
Virgil, in his "Georgics" (i., 468), alludes to the general apprehension
which rilled the minds of the common people from this cause: "_Impiaque
eternam timuerunt secula noctem_."--"And impious men now dread eternal

Lucan, in the following lines, expresses himself much more explicitly:

     _Hos Cæsar populos, si nunc non usserit ignis_
     _Uret cum terris, uret cum gurgite ponti._
     _Communis mundo superest rogus...._
                                 --PHARS. vii. v. 812, 14.

     Though now thy cruelty denies a grave,
     These and the world one common lot shall have;
     One last appointed flame, by fate's decree,
     Shall waste yon azure heavens, the earth, and sea.

And Ovid, following up the observations of Lucan, says:

     _Esse quoque in fatis reminiscitur affore tempus,_
     _Quo mare, quo tellus, correptaque regia cœli_,
     _Ardent et mundi moles operosa laboret._
                                     --MET. i. v. 256, 58.

     For thus the stern, unyielding fates decree,
     That earth, air, heaven, with the capacious sea,
     All shall fall victims to consuming fire,
     And in fierce flames the blazing world expire.

Consult Cicero himself, the philosophic Cicero. He tells us, in his book
concerning the "Nature of the Gods," the best work perhaps of all
antiquity, unless we make an exception in favor of his treatise on human
duties, called "The Offices"; in that book, I say, he remarks:

"_Ex quo eventurum nostri putant id, de quo Panœtium addubitare
dicebant; ut ad extremum omnis mundus ignosceret, cum, humore
consumpto, neque terra ali posset, neque remearet, aer cujus ortus, aqua
omni exhausta, esse non posset; ita relinqui nihil præter ignem, a quo
rursum animante ac Deo renovatio mundi fieret; atque idem ornatus

"According to the Stoics, the whole world will eventually consist only
of fire; the water being then exhausted, will leave no nourishment for
the earth; and the air, which derives its existence from water, can of
course no longer be supplied. Thus fire alone will remain, and this
fire, reanimating everything with, as it were, god-like power and
energy, will restore the world with improved beauty."

This natural philosophy of the Stoics, like that indeed of all
antiquity, is not a little absurd; it shows, however, that the
expectation of a general conflagration was universal.

Prepare, however, for greater astonishment than the errors of antiquity
can excite. The great Newton held the same opinion as Cicero. Deceived
by an incorrect experiment of Boyle, he thought that the moisture of the
globe would at length be dried up, and that it would be necessary for
God to apply His reforming hand "_manum emendatricem_." Thus we have the
two greatest men of ancient Rome and modern England precisely of the
same opinion, that at some future period fire will completely prevail
over water.

This idea of a perishing and subsequently to be renewed world was
deeply rooted in the minds of the inhabitants of Asia Minor, Syria, and
Egypt, from the time of the civil wars of the successors of Alexander.
Those of the Romans augmented the terror, upon this subject, of the
various nations which became the victims of them. They expected the
destruction of the world and hoped for a new one. The Jews, who are
slaves in Syria and scattered through every other land, partook of this
universal terror.

Accordingly, it does not appear that the Jews were at all astonished
when Jesus said to them, according to St. Matthew and St. Luke: "Heaven
and earth shall pass away." He often said to them: "The kingdom of God
is at hand." He preached the gospel of the kingdom of God.

St. Peter announces that the gospel was preached to them that were dead,
and that the end of the world drew near. "We expect," says he, "new
heavens and a new earth."

St. John, in his first Epistle, says: "There are at present many
antichrists, which shows that the last hour draws near."

St. Luke, in much greater detail, predicts the end of the world and the
last judgment. These are his words:

"There shall be signs in the moon and in the stars, roarings of the sea
and the waves; men's hearts failing them for fear shall look with
trembling to the events about to happen. The powers of heaven shall be
shaken; and then shall they see the Son of Man coming in a cloud, with
great power and majesty. Verily I say unto you, the present generation
shall not pass away till all this be fulfilled."

We do not dissemble that unbelievers upbraid us with this very
prediction; they want to make us blush for our faith, when we consider
that the world is still in existence. The generation, they say, is
passed away, and yet nothing at all of this is fulfilled. Luke,
therefore, ascribes language to our Saviour which he never uttered, or
we must conclude that Jesus Christ Himself was mistaken, which would be
blasphemy. But we close the mouth of these impious cavillers by
observing that this prediction, which appears so false in its literal
meaning, is true in its spirit; that the whole world meant Judæa, and
that the end of the world signified the reign of Titus and his

St. Paul expresses himself very strongly on the subject of the end of
the world in his Epistle to the Thessalonians: "We who survive, and who
now address you, shall be taken up into the clouds to meet the Lord in
the air."

According to these very words of Jesus and St. Paul, the whole world was
to have an end under Tiberius, or at latest under Nero. St. Paul's
prediction was fulfilled no more than St. Luke's.

These allegorical predictions were undoubtedly not meant to apply to the
times of the evangelists and apostles, but to some future time, which
God conceals from all mankind.

     _Tu ne quaesieris (scire nefas) quem mihi, quem tibi_
       _Finem Dii dederint, Leuconoe, nec Babylonios_
     _Tentaris numeros. Ut melius, quicquid erit, pati!_
                                              --HORACE i. ode xl.

     Strive not Leuconoe, to pry
       Into the secret will of fate,
     Nor impious magic vainly try
       To know our lives' uncertain date.

It is still perfectly certain that all nations then known entertained
the expectation of the end of the world, of a new earth and a new
heaven. For more than sixteen centuries we see that donations to monkish
institutions have commenced with these words: "_Adventante mundi
vespere_," etc.--"The end of the world being at hand, I, for the good of
my soul, and to avoid being one of the number of the goats on the left
hand.... leave such and such lands to such a convent." Fear influenced
the weak to enrich the cunning.

The Egyptians fixed this grand epoch at the end of thirty-six thousand
five hundred years; Orpheus is stated to have fixed it at the distance
of a hundred and twenty thousand years.

The historian Flavius Josephus asserts that Adam, having predicted that
the world would be twice destroyed, once by water and next by fire, the
children of Seth were desirous of announcing to the future race of men
the disastrous catastrophe. They engraved astronomical observations on
two columns, one made of bricks, which should resist the fire that was
to consume the world; the other of stones, which would remain uninjured
by the water that was to drown it. But what thought the Romans, when a
few slaves talked to them about an Adam and a Seth unknown to all the
world besides? They smiled. Josephus adds that the column of stones was
to be seen in his own time in Syria.

From all that has been said, we may conclude that we know exceedingly
little of past events--that we are but ill acquainted with those
present--that we know nothing at all about the future--and that we ought
to refer everything relating to them to God, the master of those three
divisions of time and of eternity.


This Greek word signifies "emotion of the bowels, internal agitation."
Was the word invented by the Greeks to express the vibrations
experienced by the nerves, the dilation and shrinking of the intestines,
the violent contractions of the heart, the precipitous course of those
fiery spirits which mount from the viscera to the brain whenever we are
strongly and vividly affected?

Or was the term "enthusiasm," after painful affection of the bowels,
first applied to the contortions of the Pythia, who, on the Delphian
tripod, admitted the inspiration of Apollo in a place apparently
intended for the receptacle of body rather than of spirit?

What do we understand by enthusiasm? How many shades are there in our
affections! Approbation, sensibility, emotion, distress, impulse,
passion, transport, insanity, rage, fury. Such are the stages through
which the miserable soul of man is liable to pass.

A geometrician attends at the representation of an affecting tragedy. He
merely remarks that it is a judicious, well-written performance. A young
man who sits next to him is so interested by the performance that he
makes no remark at all; a lady sheds tears over it; another young man is
so transported by the exhibition that to his great misfortune he goes
home determined to compose a tragedy himself. He has caught the disease
of enthusiasm.

The centurion or military tribune who considers war simply as a
profession by which he is to make his fortune, goes to battle coolly,
like a tiler ascending the roof of a house. Cæsar wept at seeing the
statue of Alexander.

Ovid speaks of love only like one who understood it. Sappho expressed
the genuine enthusiasm of the passion, and if it be true that she
sacrificed her life to it, her enthusiasm must have advanced to madness.

The spirit of party tends astonishingly to excite enthusiasm; there is
no faction that has not its "_energumens_" its devoted and possessed
partisans. An animated speaker who employs gesture in his addresses, has
in his eyes, his voice, his movements, a subtle poison which passes
with an arrow's speed into the ears and hearts of his partial hearers.
It was on this ground that Queen Elizabeth forbade any one to preach,
during six months, without an express licence under her sign manual,
that the peace of her kingdom might be undisturbed.

St. Ignatius, who possessed very warm and susceptible feelings, read the
lives of the fathers of the desert after being deeply read in romances.
He becomes, in consequence, actuated by a double enthusiasm. He
constitutes himself knight to the Virgin Mary, he performed the vigil of
arms; he is eager to fight for his lady patroness; he is favored--with
visions; the virgin appears and recommends to him her son, and she
enjoins him to give no other name to his society than that of the
"Society of Jesus."

Ignatius communicates his enthusiasm to another Spaniard of the name of
Xavier. Xavier hastens away to the Indies, of the language of which he
is utterly ignorant, thence to Japan, without knowing a word of
Japanese. That, however, is of no consequence; the flame of his
enthusiasm catches the imagination of some young Jesuits, who, at
length, make themselves masters of that language. These disciples, after
Xavier's death, entertain not the shadow of a doubt that he performed
more miracles than ever the apostles did, and that he resuscitated seven
or eight persons at the very least. In short, so epidemic and powerful
becomes the enthusiasm that they form in Japan what they denominate a
Christendom (_une Chrétienté_). This Christendom ends in a civil war, in
which a hundred thousand persons are slaughtered: the enthusiasm then is
at its highest point, fanaticism; and fanaticism has become madness.

The young fakir who fixes his eye on the tip of his nose when saying his
prayers, gradually kindles in devotional ardor until he at length
believes that if he burdens himself with chains of fifty pounds weight
the Supreme Being will be obliged and grateful to him. He goes to sleep
with an imagination totally absorbed by Brahma, and is sure to have a
sight of him in a dream. Occasionally even in the intermediate state
between sleeping and waking, sparks radiate from his eyes; he beholds
Brahma resplendent with light; he falls into ecstasies, and the disease
frequently becomes incurable.

What is most rarely to be met with is the combination of reason with
enthusiasm. Reason consists in constantly perceiving things as they
really are. He, who, under the influence of intoxication, sees objects
double is at the time deprived of reason.

Enthusiasm is precisely like wine, it has the power to excite such a
ferment in the blood-vessels, and such strong vibrations in the nerves,
that reason is completely destroyed by it. But it may also occasion only
slight agitations so as not to convulse the brain, but merely to render
it more active, as is the case in grand bursts of eloquence and more
especially in sublime poetry. Reasonable enthusiasm is the patrimony of
great poets.

This reasonable enthusiasm is the perfection of their art. It is this
which formerly occasioned the belief that poets were inspired by the
gods, a notion which was never applied to other artists.

How is reasoning to control enthusiasm? A poet should, in the first
instance, make a sketch of his design. Reason then holds the crayon. But
when he is desirous of animating his characters, to communicate to them
the different and just expressions of the passions, then his imagination
kindles, enthusiasm is in full operation and urges him on like a fiery
courser in his career. But his course has been previously traced with
coolness and judgment.

Enthusiasm is admissible into every species of poetry which admits of
sentiment; we occasionally find it even in the eclogue; witness the
following lines of Virgil (Eclogue x. v. 58):

     _Jam mihi per rupes videor lucosque sonantes_
     _Ire; libet Partho torquere cydonia cornu_
     _Spicula; tanquam haec sint nostri medicina furoris,_
     _Aut deus ille malis hominum mitescere discat!_

     Nor cold shall hinder me, with horns and hounds
     To thrid the thickets, or to leap the mounds.
     And now, methinks, through steepy rocks I go,
     And rush through sounding woods and bend the Parthian
     As if with sports my sufferings I could ease,
     Or by my pains the god of Love appease.

The style of epistles and satires represses enthusiasm, we accordingly
see little or nothing of it in the works of Boileau and Pope.

Our odes, it is said by some, are genuine lyrical enthusiasm, but as
they are not sung with us, they are, in fact, rather collections of
verses, adorned with ingenious reflections, than odes.

Of all modern odes that which abounds with the noblest enthusiasm, an
enthusiasm that never abates, that never falls into the bombastic or the
ridiculous, is "Timotheus, or Alexander's Feast," by Dryden. It is still
considered in England as an inimitable masterpiece, which Pope, when
attempting the same style and the same subject, could not even approach.
This ode was sung, set to music, and if the musician had been worthy of
the poet it would have been the masterpiece of lyric poesy.

The most dangerous tendency of enthusiasm in this occurs in an ode on
the birth of a prince of the bast, rant, and burlesque. A striking
example of this occurs in an ode on the birth of a prince of the blood

     _Où suis-je? quel nouveau miracle_
     _Tient encore mes sens enchantés_
     _Quel vaste, quel pompeux spectacle_
     _Frappe mes yeux épouvantés?_
     _Un nouveau monde vient d'éclore_
     _L'univers se reforme encore_
     _Dans les abîmes du chaos;_
     _Et, pour réparer ses ruines_
     _Je vois des demeures divines_
     _Descendre un peuple de héros._
                                   --J.B. ROUSSEAU.
     "Ode on the Birth of the Duke of Brittany."

Here we find the poet's senses enchanted and alarmed at the appearance
of a prodigy--a vast and magnificent spectacle--a new birth which is to
reform the universe and redeem it from a state of chaos, all which
means simply that a male child is born to the house of Bourbon. This is
as bad as "_Je chante les vainqueurs, des vainqueurs de la terre_."

We will avail ourselves of the present opportunity to observe that there
is a very small portion of enthusiasm in the "Ode on the Taking of


We all know what the ancients said of this disgraceful passion and what
the moderns have repeated. Hesiod is the first classic author who has
spoken of it.

"The potter envies the potter, the artisan the artisan, the poor even
the poor, the musician the musician--or, if any one chooses to give a
different meaning to the word _avidos_--the poet the poet."

Long before Hesiod, Job had remarked, "Envy destroys the little-minded."

I believe Mandeville, the author of the "Fable of the Bees," is the
first who has endeavored to prove that envy is a good thing, a very
useful passion. His first reason is that envy was as natural to man as
hunger and thirst; that it may be observed in all children, as well as
in horses and dogs. If you wish your children to hate one another,
caress one more than the other; the prescription is infallible.

He asserts that the first thing two young women do when they meet
together is to discover matter for ridicule, and the second to flatter
each other.

He thinks that without envy the arts would be only moderately
cultivated, and that Raphael would never have been a great painter if he
had not been jealous of Michael Angelo.

Mandeville, perhaps, mistook emulation for envy; perhaps, also,
emulation is nothing but envy restricted within the bounds of decency.

Michael Angelo might say to Raphael, your envy has only induced you to
study and execute still better than I do; you have not depreciated me,
you have not caballed against me before the pope, you have not
endeavored to get me excommunicated for placing in my picture of the
Last Judgment one-eyed and lame persons in paradise, and pampered
cardinals with beautiful women perfectly naked in hell! No! your envy is
a laudable feeling; you are brave as well as envious; let us be good

But if the envious person is an unhappy being without talents, jealous
of merit as the poor are of the rich; if under the pressure at once of
indigence and baseness he writes "News from Parnassus," "Letters from a
Celebrated Countess," or "Literary Annals," the creature displays an
envy which is in fact absolutely good for nothing, and for which even
Mandeville could make no apology.

Descartes said: "Envy forces up the yellow bile from the lower part of
the liver, and the black bile that comes from the spleen, which diffuses
itself from the heart by the arteries." But as no sort of bile is
formed in the spleen, Descartes, when he spoke thus, deserved not to be
envied for his physiology.

A person of the name of Poet or Poetius, a theological blackguard, who
accused Descartes of atheism, was exceedingly affected by the black
bile. But he knew still less than Descartes how his detestable bile
circulated through his blood.

Madame Pernelle is perfectly right: "_Les envieux mourront, mais non
jamais l'envie_."--The envious will die, but envy never. ("_Tartuffe_,"
Act V, Scene 3.)

That it is better to excite envy than pity is a good proverb. Let us,
then, make men envy us as much as we are able.


Since the word "_epos_," among the Greeks, signified a discourse, an
epic poem must have been a discourse, and it was in verse because it was
not then the custom to write in prose. This appears strange, but it is
no less true. One Pherecydes is supposed to have been the first Greek
who made exclusive use of prose to compose one of those half-true,
half-false histories so common to antiquity.

Orpheus, Linus, Thamyris, and Musæus, the predecessors of Homer, wrote
in verse only. Hesiod, who was certainly contemporary with Homer, wrote
his "Theogony" and his poem of "Works and Days" entirely in verse. The
harmony of the Greek language so invited men to poetry, a maxim turned
into verse was so easily engraved on the memory that the laws, oracles,
morals, and theology were all composed in verse.

_Of Hesiod._

He made use of fables which had for a long time been received in Greece.
It is clearly seen by the succinct manner in which he speaks of
Prometheus and Epimetheus that he supposes these notions already
familiar to all the Greeks. He only mentions them to show that it is
necessary to labor, and that an indolent repose, in which other
mythologists have made the felicity of man to consist, is a violation of
the orders of the Supreme Being.

Hesiod afterwards describes the four famous ages, of which he is the
first who has spoken, at least among the ancient authors who remain to
us. The first age is that which preceded Pandora--the time in which men
lived with the gods. The iron age is that of the siege of Thebes and
Troy. "I live in the fifth," says he, "and I would I had never been
born." How many men, oppressed by envy, fanaticism, and tyranny, since
Hesiod, have said the same!

It is in this poem of "Works and Days" that those proverbs are found
which have been perpetuated, as--"the potter is jealous of the potter,"
and he adds, "the musician of the musician, and the poor even of the
poor." We there find the original of our fable of the nightingale
fallen into the claws of the vulture. The nightingale sings in vain to
soften him; the vulture devours her. Hesiod does not conclude that a
hungry belly has no ears, but that tyrants are not to be mollified by

A hundred maxims worthy of Xenophon and Cato are to be found in this

Men are ignorant of the advantage of society: they know not that the
half is more valuable than the whole.

Iniquity is pernicious only to the powerless.

Equity alone causes cities to flourish.

One unjust man is often sufficient to ruin his country.

The wretch who plots the destruction of his neighbor often prepares the
way to his own.

The road to crime is short and easy. That of virtue is long and
difficult, but towards the end it is delightful.

God has placed labor as a sentinel over virtue.

Lastly, the precepts on agriculture were worthy to be imitated by
Virgil. There are, also, very fine passages in his "Theogony." Love, who
disentangles chaos; Venus, born of the sea from the genital parts of a
god nourished on earth, always followed by Love, and uniting heaven,
earth, and sea, are admirable emblems.

Why, then, has Hesiod had less reputation than Homer? They seem to me of
equal merit, but Homer has been preferred by the Greeks because he sang
their exploits and victories over the Asiatics, their eternal enemies.
He celebrated all the families which in his time reigned in Achaia and
Peloponnesus; he wrote the most memorable war of the first people in
Europe against the most flourishing nation which was then known in Asia.
His poem was almost the only monument of that great epoch. There was no
town nor family which did not think itself honored by having its name
mentioned in these records of valor. We are even assured that a long
time after him some differences between the Greek towns on the subject
of adjacent lands were decided by the verses of Homer. He became, after
his death, the judge of cities in which it is pretended that he asked
alms during his life, which proves, also, that the Greeks had poets long
before they had geographers.

It is astonishing that the Greeks, so disposed to honor epic poems which
immortalized the combats of their ancestors, produced no one to sing the
battles of Marathon, Thermopylæ, Platæa, and Salamis. The heroes of
these times were much greater men than Agamemnon, Achilles, and Ajax.

Tyrtæus, a captain, poet, and musician, like the king of Prussia in our
days, made war and sang it. He animated the Spartans against the
Messenians by his verses, and gained the victory. But his works are
lost. It does not appear that any epic poem was written-in the time of
Pericles. The attention of genius was turned towards tragedy, so that
Homer stood alone, and his glory increased daily. We now come to his

_Of the Iliad._

What confirms me in the opinion that Homer was of the Greek colony
established at Smyrna is the oriental style of all his metaphors and
pictures: The earth which shook under the feet of the army when it
marched like the thunderbolts of Jupiter on the hills which overwhelmed
the giant Typhon; a wind blacker than night winged with tempests; Mars
and Minerva followed by Terror, Flight, and insatiable Discord, the
sister and companion of Homicide, the goddess of battles, who raises
tumults wherever she appears, and who, not content with setting the
world by the ears, even exalts her proud head into heaven. The "Iliad"
is full of these images, which caused the sculptor Bouchardon to say,
"When I read Homer I believe myself twenty feet high."

His poem, which is not at all interesting to us, was very precious to
the Greeks. His gods are ridiculous to reasonable but they were not so
to partial eyes, and it was for partial eyes that he wrote.

We laugh and shrug our shoulders at these gods, who abused one another,
fought one another, and combated with men--who were wounded and whose
blood flowed, but such was the ancient theology of Greece and of almost
all the Asiatic people. Every nation, every little village had its
particular god, which conducted it to battle.

The inhabitants of the clouds and of the stars which were supposed in
the clouds, had a cruel war. The combat of the angels against one
another was from time immemorial the foundation of the religion of the
Brahmins. The battle of the Titans, the children of heaven and earth,
against the chief gods of Olympus, was also the leading mystery of the
Greek religion. Typhon, according to the Egyptians, had fought against
Oshiret, whom we call Osiris, and cut him to pieces.

Madame Dacier, in her preface to the "Iliad," remarks very sensibly,
after Eustathius, bishop of Thessalonica, and Huet, bishop of Avranches,
that every neighboring nation of the Hebrews had its god of war. Indeed,
does not Jephthah say to the Ammonites, "Wilt not thou possess that
which Chemosh thy god giveth thee to possess? So, whomsoever the Lord
our God shall drive out from before us, from them will we possess."

Do we not see the God of Judah a conqueror in the mountains and repulsed
in the valleys?

As to men wrestling against divinities, that is a received idea. Jacob
wrestled one whole night with an angel. If Jupiter sent a deceiving
dream to the chief of the Greeks, the Lord also sent a deceiving spirit
to King Ahab. These emblems were frequent and astonished nobody. Homer
has then painted the ideas of his own age; he could not paint those of
the generations which succeeded him.

Homer has great faults. Horace confesses it, and all men of taste agree
to it; there is only one commentator who is blind enough not to see
them. Pope, who was himself a translator of the Greek poet, says: "It is
a vast but uncultivated country where we meet with all kinds of natural
beauties, but which do not present themselves as regularly as in a
garden; it is an abundant nursery which contains the seeds of all
fruits; a great tree that extends superfluous branches which it is
necessary to prune."

Madame Dacier sides with the vast country, the nursery and the tree, and
would have nothing curtailed. She was no doubt a woman superior to her
sex, and has done great service to letters, as well as her husband, but
when she became masculine and turned commentator, she so overacted her
part that she piqued people into finding fault with Homer. She was so
obstinate as to quarrel even with Monsieur de La Motte. She wrote
against him like the head of a college, and La Motte answered like a
polite and witty woman. He translated the "Iliad" very badly, but he
attacked Madame Dacier very well.

We will not speak of the "Odyssey" here; we shall say something of that
poem while treating of Ariosto.

_Of Virgil._

It appears to me that the second, fourth, and sixth book of the "Æneid"
are as much above all Greek and Latin poets, without exception, as the
statues of Girardon are superior to all those which preceded them in

It is often said that Virgil has borrowed many of the figures of Homer,
and that he is even inferior to him in his imitations, but he has not
imitated him at all in the three books of which I am speaking; he is
there himself touching and appalling to the heart. Perhaps he was not
suited for terrific detail, but there had been battles enough. Horace
had said of him, before he attempted the "Æneid:"

                 _Molle atque facetum_
     _Virgilio annuerunt gaudentes rure camoenæ._

     Smooth flow his lines, and elegant his style,
     On Virgil all the rural muses smile.

"_Facetum_" does not here signify facetious but agreeable. I do not know
whether we shall not find a little of this happy and affecting softness
in the fatal passion of Dido. I think at least that we shall there
recognize the author of those admirable verses which we meet with in his
Eclogues: "_Ut vidi, ut perii, ut me malus abstulit error_!"--I saw, I
perished, yet indulged my pain.--(Dryden.)

Certainly the description of the descent into hell would not be badly
matched with these lines from the fourth Eclogue:

     _Ille Deum vitam accipiet, divisque videbit_
     _Permistos heroas, et ipse videbitur illis--_
     _Pacatumque reget patriis virtutibus orbem._

     The sons shall lead the lives of gods, and be
     By gods and heroes seen, and gods and heroes see.
     The jarring nations he in peace shall bind,
     And with paternal virtues rule mankind.

I meet with many of these simple, elegant, and affecting passages in the
three beautiful books of the "Æneid."

All the fourth book is filled with touching verses, which move those who
have any ear or sentiment at all, even to tears, and to point out all
the beauties of this book it would be necessary to transcribe the whole
of it. And in the sombre picture of hell, how this noble and affecting
tenderness breathes through every line.

It is well known how many tears were shed by the emperor Augustus, by
Livia, and all the palace, at hearing this half line alone: "_Tu
Marcellus eris."_--A new Marcellus will in thee arise.

Homer never produces tears. The true poet, according to my idea, is he
who touches the soul and softens it, others are only fine speakers. I am
far from proposing this opinion as a rule. "I give my opinion," says
Montaigne, "not as being good, but as being my own."

_Of Lucan._

If you look for unity of time and action in Lucan you will lose your
labor, but where else will you find it? If you expect to feel any
emotion or any interest you will not experience it in the long details
of a war, the subject of which is very dry and the expressions
bombastic, but if you would have bold ideas, an eloquent expatiation on
sublime and philosophical courage, Lucan is the only one among the
ancients in whom you will meet with it. There is nothing finer than the
speech of Labienus to Cato at the gates of the temple of Jupiter Ammon,
if we except the answer of Cato itself:

     _Hœremus cuncti superis? temploque tacente_
     _Nil facimus non sponte Dei_
     _.... Steriles num legit arenas._
     _Ut caneret paucis; mersit ne hoc pulvere verum!_
     _Estne Dei sedes nisi terra et pontus et aer,_
     _Et cœlum et virtus? Superos quid quærimus ultra?_
     _Jupiter est quodcumque vides quocumque moveris._

     And though our priests are mutes, and temples still,
     We act the dictates of his mighty will;
     Canst thou believe, the vast eternal mind,
     Was e'er to Syrts and Libyan sands confined?
     That he would choose this waste, this barren ground,
     To teach the thin inhabitants around?
     Is there a place that God would choose to love
     Beyond this earth, the seas, yon heaven above,
     And virtuous minds, the noblest throne of Jove?
     Why seek we farther, then? Behold around;
     How all thou seest doth with the God abound,
     Jove is seen everywhere, and always to be found.

Put together all that the ancients poets have said of the gods and it is
childish in comparison with this passage of Lucan, but in a vast
picture, in which there are a hundred figures, it is not sufficient that
one or two of them are finely designed.

_Of Tasso._

Boileau has exposed the tinsel of Tasso, but if there be a hundred
spangles of false gold in a piece of gold cloth, it is pardonable. There
are many rough stones in the great marble building raised by Homer.
Boileau knew it, felt it, and said nothing about it. We should be just.

We recall the reader's memory to what has been said of Tasso in the
"Essay on Epic Poetry," but we must here observe that his verses are
known by heart all over Italy. If at Venice any one in a boat sings a
stanza of the "Jerusalem Delivered," he is answered from a neighboring
bark with the following one.

If Boileau had listened to these concerts he could have said nothing in
reply. As enough is known of Tasso, I will not repeat here either
eulogies or criticisms. I will speak more at length of Ariosto.

_Of Ariosto._

Homer's "Odyssey" seems to have been the first model of the
"_Morgante_," of the "_Orlando Innamorato,"_ and the "_Orlando
Furioso_," and, what very seldom happens, the last of the poems is
without dispute the best.

The companions of Ulysses changed into swine; the winds shut up in
goats' skins; the musicians with fishes' tails, who ate all those who
approached them; Ulysses, who followed the chariot of a beautiful
princess who went to bathe quite naked; Ulysses, disguised as a beggar,
who asked alms, and afterwards killed all the lovers of his aged wife,
assisted only by his son and two servants--are imaginations which have
given birth to all the poetical romances which have since been written
in the same style.

But the romance of Ariosto is so full of variety and so fertile in
beauties of all kinds that after having read it once quite through I
only wish to begin it again. How great the charm of natural poetry! I
never could read a single canto of this poem in a prose translation.

That which above all charms me in this wonderful work is that the author
is always above his subject, and treats it playfully. He says the most
sublime things without effort and he often finishes them by a turn of
pleasantry which is neither misplaced nor far-fetched. It is at once the
"Iliad," the "Odyssey," and "Don Quixote," for his principal
knight-errant becomes mad like the Spanish hero, and is infinitely more

The subject of the poem, which consists of so many things, is precisely
that of the romance of "Cassandra," which was formerly so much in
fashion with us, and which has entirely lost its celebrity because it
had only the length of the "_Orlando Furioso,_" and few of its beauties,
and even the few being in French prose, five or six stanzas of Ariosto
will eclipse them all. His poem closes with the greater part of the
heroes and princesses who have not perished during the war all meeting
in Paris, after a thousand adventures, just as the personages in the
romance of "Cassandra" all finally meet again in the house of Palemon.

The "_Orlando Furioso_" possesses a merit unknown to the ancients--it is
that of its exordiums.

Every canto is like an enchanted palace, the vestibule of which is
always in a different taste--sometimes majestic, sometimes simple, and
even grotesque. It is moral, lively, or gallant, and always natural and


_The Manifestation, the Appearance, the Illustration, the Radiance._

It is not easy to perceive what relation this word can have to the three
kings or magi, who came from the east under the guidance of a star. That
brilliant star was evidently the cause of bestowing on the day of its
appearance the denomination of the Epiphany.

It is asked whence came these three kings? What place had they appointed
for their rendezvous? One of them, it is said, came from Africa; he did
not, then, come from the East. It is said they were three magi, but the
common people have always preferred the interpretation of three kings.
The feast of the kings is everywhere celebrated, but that of the magi
nowhere; people eat king's-cake and not magi-cake, and exclaim "the king
drinks"--not "the magi drink."

Moreover, as they brought with them much gold, incense, and myrrh, they
must necessarily have been persons of great wealth and consequence. The
magi of that day were by no means very rich. It was not then as in the
times of the false Smerdis.

Tertullian is the first who asserted that these three travellers were
kings. St. Ambrose, and St. Cæsar of Arles, suppose them to be kings,
and the following passages of Psalm lxxi. are quoted in proof of it:
"The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall offer him gifts. The kings
of Arabia and of Saba shall bring him presents." Some have called these
three kings Magalat, Galgalat, and Saraim, others Athos, Satos, and
Paratoras. The Catholics knew them under the names of Gaspard, Melchior,
and Balthazar. Bishop Osorio relates that it was a king of Cranganore,
in the kingdom of Calicut, who undertook this journey with two magi, and
that this king on his return to his own country built a chapel to the
Holy Virgin.

It has been inquired how much gold they gave Joseph and Mary. Many
commentators declare that they made them the richest presents; they
built on the authority of the "Gospel of the Infancy," which states that
Joseph and Mary were robbed in Egypt by Titus and Dumachus, "but," say
they, "these men would never have robbed them if they had not had a
great deal of money." These two robbers were afterwards hanged; one was
the good thief and the other the bad one. But the "Gospel of Nicodemus"
gives them other names; it calls them Dimas and Gestas.

The same "Gospel of the Infancy" says that they were magi and not kings
who came to Bethlehem; that they had in reality been guided by a star,
but that the star having ceased to appear while they were in the
stable, an angel made its appearance in the form of a star to act in its
stead. This gospel asserts that the visit of the three magi had been
predicted by Zerdusht, whom we call Zoroaster.

Suarez has investigated what became of the gold which the three kings or
magi presented; he maintains that the amount must have been very large,
and that three kings could never make a small or moderate present. He
says that the whole sum was afterwards given to Judas, who, acting as
steward, turned out a rogue and stole the whole amount.

All these puerilities can do no harm to the Feast of the Epiphany, which
was first instituted by the Greek Church, as the term implies, and was
afterwards celebrated by the Latin Church.


Nothing can be clearer than that men, enjoying the faculties of their
common nature, are in a state of equality; they are equal when they
perform their animal functions, and exercise their understandings. The
king of China, the great mogul, or the Turkish pasha cannot say to the
lowest of his species, "I forbid you to digest your food, to discharge
your fæces, or to think." All animals of every species are on an
equality with one another, and animals have by nature beyond ourselves
the advantages of independence. If a bull, while paying his attentions
to a heifer, is driven away by the horns of another bull stronger than
himself, he goes to seek a new mistress in another meadow, and lives in
freedom. A cock, after being defeated, finds consolation in another
hen-roost. It is not so with us. A petty vizier banishes a bostangi to
Lemnos; the vizier Azem banishes the petty vizier to Tenedos; the pasha
banishes the vizier Azem to Rhodes; the janissaries imprison the pasha
and elect another who will banish the worthy Mussulmans just when and
where he pleases, while they will feel inexpressibly obliged to him for
so gentle a display of his authority.

If the earth were in fact what it might be supposed it should be--if men
found upon it everywhere an easy and certain subsistence, and a climate
congenial to their nature, it would be evidently impossible for one man
to subjugate another. Let the globe be covered with wholesome fruits;
let the air on which we depend for life convey to us no diseases and
premature death; let man require no other lodging than the deer or
roebuck, in that case the Genghis Khans and Tamerlanes will have no
other attendants than their own children, who will be very worthy
persons, and assist them affectionately in their old age.

In that state of nature enjoyed by all undomesticated quadrupeds, and by
birds and reptiles, men would be just as happy as they are. Domination
would be a mere chimera--an absurdity which no one would think of, for
why should servants be sought for when no service is required?

If it should enter the mind of any individual of a tyrannical
disposition and nervous arm to subjugate his less powerful neighbor, his
success would be impossible; the oppressed would be on the Danube before
the oppressor had completed his preparations on the Volga.

All men, then, would necessarily have been equal had they been without
wants; it is the misery attached to our species which places one man in
subjection to another; inequality is not the real grievance, but
dependence. It is of little consequence for one man to be called his
highness and another his holiness, but it is hard for me to be the
servant of another.

A numerous family has cultivated a good soil, two small neighboring
families live on lands unproductive and barren. It will therefore be
necessary for the two poor families to serve the rich one, or to destroy
it. This is easily accomplished. One of the two indigent families goes
and offers its services to the rich one in exchange for bread, the other
makes an attack upon it and is conquered. The serving family is the
origin of domestics and laborers, the one conquered is the origin of

It is impossible in our melancholy world to prevent men living in
society from being divided into two classes, one of the rich who
command, the other of the poor who obey, and these two are subdivided
into various others, which have also their respective shades of

You come and say, after the lots are drawn, I am a man as well as you; I
have two hands and two feet; as much pride as yourself, or more; a mind
as irregular, inconsequent, and contradictory as your own. I am a
citizen of San Marino, or Ragusa, or Vaugirard; give me my portion of
land. In our known hemisphere are about fifty thousand millions of acres
of cultivable land, good and bad. The number of our two-footed,
featherless race within these bounds is a thousand millions; that is
just fifty acres for each: do me justice; give me my fifty acres.

The reply is: go and take them among the Kaffirs, the Hottentots, and
the Samoyeds; arrange the matter amicably with them; here all the shares
are filled up. If you wish to have food, clothing, lodging, and warmth
among us, work for us as your father did--serve us or amuse us, and you
shall be paid; if not, you will be obliged to turn beggar, which would
be highly degrading to your sublime nature, and certainly preclude that
actual equality with kings, or even village curates, to which you so
nobly pretend.

All the poor are not unhappy. The greater number are born in that state,
and constant labor prevents them from too sensibly feeling their
situation; but when they do strongly feel it, then follow wars such as
those of the popular party against the senate at Rome, and those of the
peasantry in Germany, England, and France. All these wars ended sooner
or later in the subjection of the people, because the great have money,
and money in a state commands everything; I say in a state, for the case
is different between nation and nation. That nation which makes the best
use of iron will always subjugate another that has more gold but less

Every man is born with an eager inclination for power, wealth, and
pleasure, and also with a great taste for indolence. Every man,
consequently, would wish to possess the fortunes and the wives or
daughters of others, to be their master, to retain them in subjection to
his caprices, and to do nothing, or at least nothing but what is
perfectly agreeable. You clearly perceive that with such amiable
dispositions, it is as impossible for men to be equal as for two
preachers or divinity professors not to be jealous of each other.

The human race, constituted as it is, cannot exist unless there be an
infinite number of useful individuals possessed of no property at all,
for most certainly a man in easy circumstances will not leave his own
land to come and cultivate yours; and if you want a pair of shoes you
will not get a lawyer to make them for you. Equality, then, is at the
same time the most natural and the most chimerical thing possible.

As men carry everything to excess if they have it in their power to do
so, this inequality has been pushed too far; it has been maintained in
many countries that no citizen has a right to quit that in which he was
born. The meaning of such a law must evidently be: "This country is so
wretched and ill-governed we prohibit every man from quitting it, under
an apprehension that otherwise all would leave it." Do better; excite in
all your subjects a desire to stay with you, and in foreigners a desire
to come and settle among you.

Every man has a right to entertain a private opinion of his own equality
to other men, but it follows not that a cardinal's cook should take it
upon him to order his master to prepare his dinner. The cook, however,
may say: "I am a man as well as my master; I was born like him in tears,
and shall like him die in anguish, attended by the same common
ceremonies. We both perform the same animal functions. If the Turks get
possession of Rome, and I then become a cardinal and my master a cook, I
will take him into my service." This language is perfectly reasonable
and just, but, while waiting for the Grand Turk to get possession of
Rome, the cook is bound to do his duty, or all human society is

With respect to a man who is neither a cardinal's cook nor invested with
any office whatever in the state--with respect to an individual who has
no connections, and is disgusted at being everywhere received with an
air of protection or contempt, who sees quite clearly that many men of
quality and title have not more knowledge, wit, or virtue than himself,
and is wearied by being occasionally in their antechambers--what ought
such a man to do? He ought to stay away.


The more superstitious and barbarous any nation is, the more obstinately
bent on war, notwithstanding its defeats; the more divided into
factions, floating between royal and priestly claims; and the more
intoxicated it may be by fanaticism, the more certainly will be found
among that nation a number of citizens associated together in order to
live in peace.

It happens during a season of pestilence that a small canton forbids all
communication with large cities. It preserves itself from the prevailing
contagion, but remains a prey to other maladies.

Of this description of persons were the Gymnosophists in India, and
certain sects of philosophers among the Greeks. Such also were the
Pythagoreans in Italy and Greece, and the Therapeutæ in Egypt. Such at
the present day are those primitive people called Quakers and Dunkards,
in Pennsylvania, and very nearly such were the first Christians who
lived together remote from cities.

Not one of these societies was acquainted with the dreadful custom of
binding themselves by oath to the mode of life which they adopted, of
involving themselves in perpetual chains, of depriving themselves, on a
principle of religion, of the grand right and first principle of human
nature, which is liberty; in short, of entering into what we call vows.
St. Basil was the first who conceived the idea of those vows, of this
oath of slavery. He introduced a new plague into the world, and
converted into a poison that which had been invented as a remedy.

There were in Syria societies precisely similar to those of the
Essenians. This we learn from the Jew Philo, in his treatise on the
"Freedom of the Good." Syria was always superstitious and factious, and
always under the yoke of tyrants. The successors of Alexander made it a
theatre of horrors. It is by no means extraordinary that among such
numbers of oppressed and persecuted beings, some, more humane and
judicious than the rest, should withdraw from all intercourse with great
cities, in order to live in common, in honest poverty, far from the
blasting eyes of tyranny.

During the civil wars of the latter Ptolemies, similar asylums were
formed in Egypt, and when that country was subjugated by the Roman arms,
the Therapeutæ established themselves in a sequestered spot in the
neighborhood of Lake Mœris.

It appears highly probable that there were Greek, Egyptian, and Jewish
Therapeutæ. Philo, after eulogizing Anaxagoras, Democritus, and other
philosophers, who embraced their way of life, thus expresses himself:

"Similar societies are found in many countries; Greece and other regions
enjoy institutions of this consoling character. They are common in
Egypt in every district, and particularly in that of Alexandria. The
most worthy and moral of the population have withdrawn beyond Lake
Mœris to a secluded but convenient spot, forming a gentle declivity.
The air is very salubrious, and the villages in the neighborhood
sufficiently numerous," etc.

Thus we perceive that there have everywhere existed societies of men who
have endeavored to find a refuge from disturbances and factions, from
the insolence and rapacity of oppressors. All, without exception,
entertained a perfect horror of war, considering it precisely in the
same light in which we contemplate highway robbery and murder.

Such, nearly, were the men of letters who united, in France and founded
the Academy. They quietly withdrew from the factious and cruel scenes
which desolated the country in the reign of Louis XIII. Such also were
the men who founded the Royal Society at London, while the barbarous
idiots called Puritans and Episcopalians were cutting one another's
throats about the interpretation of a few passages from three or four
old and unintelligible books.

Some learned men have been of opinion that Jesus Christ, who
condescended to make his appearance for some time in the small district
of Capernaum, in Nazareth, and some other small towns of Palestine, was
one of those Essenians who fled from the tumult of affairs and
cultivated virtue in peace. But the name "Essenian," never even once
occurs in the four Gospels, in the Apocrypha, or in the Acts, or the
Epistles of the apostles.

Although, however, the name is not to be found, a resemblance is in
various points observable--confraternity, community of property,
strictness of moral conduct, manual labor, detachment from wealth and
honors; and, above all, detestation of war. So great is this
detestation, that Jesus Christ commands his disciples when struck upon
one cheek to offer the other also, and when robbed of a cloak to deliver
up the coat likewise. Upon this principle the Christians conducted
themselves, during the two first centuries, without altars, temples, or
magistracies--all employed in their respective trades or occupations,
all leading secluded and quiet lives.

Their early writings attest that they were not permitted to carry arms.
In this they perfectly resembled our Quakers, Anabaptists, and
Mennonites of the present day, who take a pride in following the literal
meaning of the gospel. For although there are in the gospel many
passages which, when incorrectly understood, might breed violence--as
the case of the merchants scourged out of the temple avenues, the phrase
"compel them to come in," the dangers into which they were thrown who
had not converted their master's one talent into five talents, and the
treatment of those who came to the wedding without the wedding
garment--although, I say, all these may seem contrary to the pacific
spirit of the gospel, yet there are so many other passages which enjoin
sufferance instead of contest, that it is by no means astonishing that,
for a period of two hundred years, Christians held war in absolute

Upon this foundation was the numerous and respectable society of
Pennsylvanians established, as were also the minor sects which have
imitated them. When I denominate them respectable, it is by no means in
consequence of their aversion to the splendor of the Catholic church. I
lament, undoubtedly, as I ought to do, their errors. It is their virtue,
their modesty, and their spirit of peace, that I respect.

Was not the great philosopher Bayle right, then, when he remarked that a
Christian of the earliest times of our religion would be a very bad
soldier, or that a soldier would be a very bad Christian?

This dilemma appears to be unanswerable; and in this point, in my
opinion, consists the great difference between ancient Christianity and
ancient Judaism.

The law of the first Jews expressly says, "As soon as you enter any
country with a view to possess it, destroy everything by fire and sword;
slay, without mercy, aged men, women, and children at the breast; kill
even all the animals; sack everything and burn everything. It is your
God who commands you so to do." This injunction is not given in a single
instance, but on twenty different occasions, and is always followed.

Mahomet, persecuted by the people of Mecca, defends himself like a brave
man. He compels his vanquished persecutors to humble themselves at his
feet, and become his disciples. He establishes his religion by
proselytism and the sword.

Jesus, appearing between the times of Moses and Mahomet, in a corner of
Galilee, preaches forgiveness of injuries, patience, mildness, and
forbearance, dies himself under the infliction of capital punishment,
and is desirous of the same fate for His first disciples.

I ask candidly, whether St. Bartholomew, St. Andrew, St. Matthew, and
St. Barnabas, would have been received among the cuirassiers of the
emperor, or among the royal guards of Charles XII.?

Would St. Peter himself, though he cut off Malchus' ear, have made a
good officer? Perhaps St. Paul, accustomed at first to carnage, and
having had the misfortune to be a bloody persecutor, is the only one who
could have been made a warrior. The impetuosity of his temperament and
the fire of his imagination would have made him a formidable commander.
But, notwithstanding these qualities, he made no effort to revenge
himself on Gamaliel by arms. He did not act like the Judases, the
Theudases, and the Barchochebases, who levied troops: he followed the
precepts of Jesus Christ; he suffered; and, according to an account we
have of his death, he was beheaded.

To compose an army of Christians, therefore, in the early period of
Christianity, was a contradiction in terms.

It is certain that Christians were not enlisted among the troops of the
empire till the spirit by which they were animated was changed. In the
first two centuries they entertained a horror for temples, altars,
tapers, incense, and lustral water. Porphyry compares them to the foxes
who said "the grapes are sour." "If," said he, "you could have had
beautiful temples burnished with gold, and large revenues for a clergy,
you would then have been passionately fond of temples." They afterwards
addicted themselves to all that they had abhorred. Thus, having detested
the profession of arms, they at length engaged in war. The Christians in
the time of Diocletian were as different from those of the time of the
apostles, as we are from the Christians of the third century.

I cannot conceive how a mind so enlightened and bold as Montesquieu's
could severely censure another genius much more accurate than his own,
and oppose the following just remark made by Bayle: "a society of real
Christians might live happily together, but they would make a bad
defence on being attacked by an enemy."

"They would," says Montesquieu, "be citizens infinitely enlightened on
the subject of their duties, and ardently zealous to discharge them.
They would be fully sensible of the rights of natural defence. The more
they thought they owed religion, the more they would think they owed
their country. The principles of Christianity deeply engraved on their
hearts would be infinitely more powerful than the false honor of
monarchies, the human virtues of republics, or the servile fear which
operates under despotism."

Surely the author of the "Spirit of Laws" did not reflect upon the words
of the gospel, when saying that real Christians would be fully sensible
of the rights of natural defence. He did not recollect the command to
deliver up the coat after the cloak had been taken; and, after having
received a blow upon one cheek, to present the other also. Here the
principle of natural defence is most decidedly annihilated. Those whom
we call Quakers have always refused to fight; but in the war of 1756, if
they had not received assistance from the other English, and suffered
that assistance to operate, they would have been completely crushed.

Is it not unquestionable that men who thought and felt as martyrs would
fight very ill as grenadiers? Every sentence of that chapter of the
"Spirit of Laws" appears to me false. "The principles of Christianity
deeply engraved on their hearts, would be infinitely more powerful,"
etc. Yes, more powerful to prevent their exercise of the sword, to make
them tremble at shedding their neighbor's blood, to make them look on
life as a burden of which it would be their highest happiness to be

"If," says Bayle, "they were appointed to drive back veteran corps of
infantry, or to charge regiments of cuirassiers, they would be seen like
sheep in the midst of wolves."

Bayle was perfectly right. Montesquieu did not perceive that, while
attempting to refute him, he contemplated only the mercenary and
sanguinary soldiers of the present day, and not the early Christians. It
would seem as if he had been desirous of preventing the unjust
accusations which he experienced from the fanatics, by sacrificing Bayle
to them. But he gained nothing by it. They are two great men, who appear
to be of different opinions, but who, if they had been equally free to
speak, would have been found to have the same.

"The false honor of monarchies, the human virtues of republics, the
servile fear which operates under despotism;" nothing at all of this
goes towards the composition of a soldier, as the "Spirit of Laws"
pretends. When we levy a regiment, of whom a quarter part will desert in
the course of a fortnight, not one of the men enlisted thinks about the
honor of the monarchy: they do not even know what it is. The mercenary
troops of the republic of Venice know their country; but nothing about
republican virtue, which no one ever speaks of in the place of St. Mark.
In one word, I do not believe that there is a single man on the face of
the earth who has enlisted in his regiment from a principle of virtue.

Neither, again, is it out of a servile fear that Turks and Russians
fight with the fierceness and rage of lions and tigers. Fear does not
inspire courage. Nor is it by devotion that the Russians have defeated
the armies of Mustapha. It would, in my opinion, have been highly
desirable that so ingenious a man should have sought for truth rather
than display. When we wish to instruct mankind, we ought to forget
ourselves, and have nothing in view but truth.


In my youth I admired all the reasonings of Samuel Clarke. I loved his
person, although he was a determined Arian as well as Newton, and I
still revere his memory, because he was a good man; but the impression
which his ideas had stamped on my yet tender brain was effaced when that
brain became more firm. I found, for example, that he had contested the
eternity of the world with as little ability as he had proved the
reality of infinite space.

I have so much respect for the Book of Genesis, and for the church which
adopts it, that I regard it as the only proof of the creation of the
world five thousand seven hundred and eighteen years ago, according to
the computation of the Latins, and seven thousand and seventy-eight
years, according to the Greeks. All antiquity believed matter, at least,
to be eternal; and the greatest philosophers attributed eternity also to
the arrangement of the universe.

They are all mistaken, as we well know; but we may believe, without
blasphemy, that the eternal Former of all things made other worlds
besides ours.


On this delicate subject, we shall not speak as theologians. Submitting
in heart and mind to the religion in which we are born, and the laws
under which we live, we shall have nothing to do with controversy; it is
too hostile to all religions which it boasts of supporting--to all laws
which it makes pretensions to explain, and especially to that harmony
which in every period it has banished from the world.

One-half of Europe anathematizes the other on the subject of the
Eucharist; and blood has flowed in torrents from the Baltic Sea to the
foot of the Pyrenees, for nearly two centuries, on account of a single
word, which signifies gentle charity.

Various nations in this part of the world view with horror the system of
transubstantiation. They exclaim against this dogma as the last effort
of human folly. They quote the celebrated passage of Cicero, who says
that men, having exhausted all the mad extravagancies they are capable
of, have yet never entertained the idea of eating the God whom they
adore. They say that as almost all popular opinions are built upon
ambiguities and abuse of words, so the system of the Roman Catholics
concerning the Eucharist and transubstantiation is founded solely on an
ambiguity; that they have interpreted literally what could only have
been meant figuratively; and that for the sake of mere verbal contests,
for absolute misconceptions, the world has for six hundred years been
drenched in blood.

Their preachers in the pulpits, their learned in their publications, and
the people in their conversational discussions, incessantly repeat that
Jesus Christ did not take His body in His two hands to give His
disciples to eat; that a body cannot be in a hundred thousand places at
one time, in bread and in wine; that the God who formed the universe
cannot consist of bread which is converted into fæces, and of wine which
flows off in urine; and that the doctrine may naturally expose
Christianity to the derision of the least intelligent, and to the
contempt and execration of the rest of mankind.

In this opinion the Tillotsons, the Smallridges, the Claudes, the
Daillés, the Amyrauts, the Mestrezats, the Dumoulins, the Blondels, and
the numberless multitude of the reformers of the sixteenth century, are
all agreed; while the peaceable Mahometan, master of Africa, and of the
finest part of Asia, smiles with disdain upon our disputes, and the rest
of the world are totally ignorant of them.

Once again I repeat that I have nothing to do with controversy. I
believe with a lively faith all that the Catholic apostolic religion
teaches on the subject of the Eucharist, without comprehending a single
word of it.

The question is, how to put the greatest restraint upon crimes. The
Stoics said that they carried God in their hearts. Such is the
expression of Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus, the most virtuous of
mankind, and who might almost be called gods upon earth. They understood
by the words "I carry God within me," that part of the divine universal
soul which animates every intelligent being.

The Catholic religion goes further. It says, "You shall have within you
physically what the Stoics had metaphysically. Do not set yourselves
about inquiring what it is that I give you to eat and drink, or merely
to eat. Only believe that what I so give you is God. He is within you.
Shall your heart then be defiled by anything unjust or base? Behold then
men receiving God within them, in the midst of an august ceremonial, by
the light of a hundred tapers, under the influence of the most exquisite
and enchanting music, and at the footstool of an altar of burnished
gold. The imagination is led captive, the soul is rapt in ecstasy and
melted! The votary scarcely breathes; he is detached from every
terrestrial object, he is united with God, He is in our flesh, and in
our blood! Who will dare, or who even will be able, after this, to
commit a single fault, or to entertain even the idea of it? It was
clearly impossible to devise a mystery better calculated to retain
mankind in virtue."

Yet Louis XI., while receiving God thus within him, poisons his own
brother; the archbishop of Florence, while making God, and the Pazzi
while receiving Him, assassinate the Medici in the cathedral. Pope
Alexander VI., after rising from the bed of his bastard daughter,
administers God to Cæsar Borgia, his bastard son, and both destroy by
hanging, poison, and the sword, all who are in possession of two acres
of land which they find desirable.

Julius II. makes and eats God; but, with his cuirass on his back and his
helmet on his head, he imbrues his hands in blood and carnage. Leo X.
contains God in his body, his mistress in his arms, and the money
extorted by the sale of indulgences, in his own and his sister's

Trolle, archbishop of Upsala, has the senators of Sweden slaughtered
before his face, holding a papal bull in his hand. Von Galen, bishop of
Münster, makes war upon all his neighbors, and becomes celebrated for
his rapine.

The Abbé N---- is full of God, speaks of nothing but God, imparts God to
all the women, or weak and imbecile persons that he can obtain the
direction of, and robs his penitents of their property.

What are we to conclude from these contradictions? That all these
persons never really believed in God; that they still less, if possible,
believed that they had eaten His body and drunk His blood; that they
never imagined they had swallowed God; that if they had firmly so
believed, they never would have committed any of those deliberate
crimes; in a word, that this most miraculous preventive of human
atrocities has been most ineffective? The more sublime such an idea, the
more decidedly is it secretly rejected by human obstinacy.

The fact is, that all our grand criminals who have been at the head of
government, and those also who have subordinately shared in authority,
not only never believed that they received God down their throats, but
never believed in God at all; at least they had entirely effaced such an
idea from their minds. Their contempt for the sacrament which they
created or administered was extended at length into a contempt of God
Himself. What resource, then, have we remaining against depredation,
insolence, outrage, calumny, and persecution? That of persuading the
strong man who oppresses the weak that God really exists. He will, at
least, not laugh at this opinion; and, although he may not believe that
God is within him, he yet may believe that God pervades all nature. An
incomprehensible mystery has shocked him. But would he be able to say
that the existence of a remunerating and avenging God is an
incomprehensible mystery? Finally, although he does not yield his belief
to a Catholic bishop who says to him, "Behold, that is your God, whom a
man consecrated by myself has put into your mouth;" he may believe the
language of all the stars and of all animated beings, at once
exclaiming: "God is our creator!"



Yes, we here repeat the observation, a man that is hanged is good for
nothing; although some executioner, as much addicted to quackery as
cruelty, may have persuaded the wretched simpletons in his neighborhood
that the fat of a person hanged is a cure for the epilepsy.

Cardinal Richelieu, when going to Lyons to enjoy the spectacle of the
execution of Cinq-Mars and de Thou, was informed that the executioner
had broken his leg. "What a dreadful thing it is," says he to the
chancellor Séguier, "we have no executioner!" I certainly admit that it
must have been a terrible disaster. It was a jewel wanting in his crown.
At last, however, an old worthy was found, who, after twelve strokes of
the sabre, brought low the head of the innocent and philosophic de Thou.
What necessity required this death? What good could be derived from the
judicial assassination of Marshal de Marillac?

I will go farther. If Maximilian, duke of Sully, had not compelled that
admirable King Henry IV. to yield to the execution of Marshal Birou, who
was covered with wounds which had been received in his service, perhaps
Henry would never have suffered assassination himself; perhaps that act
of clemency, judiciously interposed after condemnation, would have
soothed the still raging spirit of the league; perhaps the outcry would
not then have been incessantly thundered into the ears of the
populace--the king always protects heretics, the king treats good
Catholics shamefully, the king is a miser, the king is an old debauchée,
who, at the age of fifty-seven fell in love with the young princess of
Condé, and forced her husband to fly the kingdom with her. All these
embers of universal discontent would probably not have been alone
sufficient to inflame the brain of the fanatical Feuillant, Ravaillac.

With respect to what is ordinarily called justice, that is, the practice
of killing a man because he has stolen a crown from his master; or
burning him, as was the case with Simon Morin, for having said that he
had had conferences with the Holy Spirit; and as was the case also with
a mad old Jesuit of the name of Malagrida, for having printed certain
conversations which the holy virgin held with St. Anne, her mother,
while in the womb--this practice, it must be acknowledged, is neither
conformable to humanity or reason, and cannot possibly be of the least

We have already inquired what advantage could ensue to the state from
the execution of that poor man known under the name of the madman; who,
while at supper with some monks, uttered certain nonsensical words, and
who, instead of being purged and bled, was delivered over to the

We further ask, whether it was absolutely necessary that another madman,
who was in the bodyguards, and who gave himself some slight cuts with a
hanger, like many other impostors, to obtain remuneration, should be
also hanged by the sentence of the parliament? Was this a crime of such
great enormity? Would there have been any imminent danger to society in
saving the life of this man?

What necessity could there be that La Barre should have his hand chopped
off and his tongue cut out, that he should be put to the question
ordinary and extraordinary, and be burned alive? Such was the sentence
pronounced by the Solons and Lycurguses of Abbeville! What had he done?
Had he assassinated his father and mother? Had people reason to
apprehend that he would burn down the city? He was accused of want of
reverence in some secret circumstances, which the sentence itself does
not specify. He had, it was said, sung an old song, of which no one
could give an account; and had seen a procession of capuchins pass at a
distance without saluting it.

It certainly appears as if some people took great delight in what
Boileau calls murdering their neighbor in due form and ceremony, and
inflicting on him unutterable torments. These people live in the
forty-ninth degree of latitude, which is precisely the position of the
Iroquois. Let us hope that they may, some time or other, become

Among this nation of barbarians, there are always to be found two or
three thousand persons of great kindness and amiability, possessed of
correct taste, and constituting excellent society. These will, at
length, polish the others.

I should like to ask those who are so fond of erecting gibbets, piles,
and scaffolds, and pouring leaden balls through the human brain, whether
they are always laboring under the horrors of famine, and whether they
kill their fellow-creatures from any apprehension that there are more of
them than can be maintained?

I was once perfectly horror-struck at seeing a list of deserters made
out for the short period merely of eight years. They amounted to sixty
thousand. Here were sixty thousand co-patriots, who were to be shot
through the head at the beat of drum; and with whom, if well maintained
and ably commanded, a whole province might have been added to the

I would also ask some of these subaltern Dracos, whether there are no
such things wanted in their country as highways or crossways, whether
there are no uncultivated lands to be broken up, and whether men who are
hanged or shot can be of any service?

I will not address them on the score of humanity, but of utility:
unfortunately, they will often attend to neither; and, although M.
Beccaria met with the applauses of Europe for having proved that
punishments ought only to be proportioned to crimes, the Iroquois soon
found out an advocate, paid by a priest, who maintained that to torture,
hang, rack, and burn in all cases whatsoever, was decidedly the best


But it is England which, more than any other country, has been
distinguished for the stern delight of slaughtering men with the
pretended sword of the law. Without mentioning the immense number of
princes of the blood, peers of the realm, and eminent citizens, who have
perished by a public death on the scaffold, it is sufficient to call to
mind the execution of Queen Anne Boleyn, Queen Catherine Howard, Lady
Jane Grey, Queen Mary Stuart, and King Charles I, in order to justify
the sarcasm which has been frequently applied, that the history of
England ought to be written by the executioner.

Next to that island, it is alleged that France is the country in which
capital punishments have been most common. I shall say nothing of that
of Queen Brunehaut, for I do not believe it. I pass by innumerable
scaffolds, and stop before that of Count Montecuculi, who was cut into
quarters in the presence of Francis I. and his whole court, because
Francis, the dauphin, had died of pleurisy.

That event occurred in 1536. Charles V., victorious on all the coasts of
Europe and Africa, was then ravaging both Provence and Picardy. During
that campaign which commenced advantageously for him, the young dauphin,
eighteen years of age, becomes heated at a game of tennis, in the small
city of Tournon. When in high perspiration he drinks iced water, and in
the course of five days dies of the pleurisy. The whole court and all
France exclaim that the Emperor Charles V. had caused the dauphin of
France to be poisoned. This accusation, equally horrible and absurd, has
been repeated from time to time down to the present. Malherbe, in one of
his odes, speaks of Francis, whom Castile, unequal to cope with in arms,
bereaved of his son.

We will not stop to examine whether the emperor was unequal to the arms
of Francis I., because he left Provence after having completely sacked
it, nor whether to poison a dauphin is to steal him; but these bad lines
decidedly show that the poisoning of the dauphin Francis by Charles V.
was received throughout France as an indisputable truth.

Daniel does not exculpate the emperor. Henault, in his "Chronological
Summary," says: "Francis, the dauphin, poisoned." It is thus that all
writers copy from one another. At length the author of the "History of
Francis I." ventures, like myself, to investigate the fact.

It is certain that Count Montecuculi, who was in the service of the
dauphin, was condemned by certain commissioners to be quartered, as
guilty of having poisoned that prince.

Historians say that this Montecuculi was his cup-bearer. The dauphins
have no such officer: but I will admit that they had. How could that
gentleman, just at the instant, have mixed up poison in a glass of
fresh water? Did he always carry poison in his pocket, ready whenever
his master might call for drink? He was not the only person present with
the dauphin, who was, it appears, wiped and rubbed dry by some of his
attendants after the game of tennis was finished. The surgeons who
opened the body declared, it is said, that the prince had taken arsenic.
Had the prince done so, he must have felt intolerable pains about his
throat, the water would have been colored, and the case would not have
been treated as one of pleurisy. The surgeons were ignorant pretenders,
who said just what they were desired to say; a fact which happens every

[Illustration: Francis I. and his sister.]

What interest could this officer have in destroying his master? Who was
more likely to advance his fortune? But, it is said, it was intended
also to poison the king. Here is a new difficulty and a new

Who was to compensate him for this double crime? Charles V., it is
replied--another improbability equally strong. Why begin with a youth
only eighteen years and a half old, and who, moreover, had two brothers?
How was the king to be got at? Montecuculi did not wait at his table.

Charles V. had nothing to gain by taking away the life of the young
dauphin, who had never drawn a sword, and who certainly would have had
powerful avengers. It would have been a crime at once base and useless.
He did not fear the father, we are to believe, the bravest knight of the
French court; yet he was afraid of the son, who had scarcely reached
beyond the age of childhood!

But, we are informed, this Montecuculi, on the occasion of a journey to
Ferrara, his own country, was presented to the emperor, and that that
monarch asked him numerous questions relating to the magnificence of the
king's table and the economy of his household. This certainly is
decisive evidence that the Italian was engaged by Charles V. to poison
the royal family!

Oh! but it was not the emperor himself who urged him to commit this
crime: he was impelled to it by Anthony de Leva and the Marquis di
Gonzaga. Yes, truly, Anthony de Leva, eighty years of age, and one of
the most virtuous knights in Europe! and this noble veteran, moreover,
was indiscreet enough to propose executing this scheme of poisoning in
conjunction with a prince of Gonzaga. Others mention the Marquis del
Vasto, whom we call du Gast. Contemptible impostors! Be at least agreed
among yourselves. You say that Montecuculi confessed the fact before his
judges. Have you seen the original documents connected with the trial?

You state that the unfortunate man was a chemist. These then are your
only proofs, your only reasons, for subjecting him to the most dreadful
of executions: he was an Italian, he was a chemist, and Charles V. was
hated. His glory then provoked indeed a base revenge. Good God! Your
court orders a man of rank to be cut into quarters upon bare suspicion,
in the vain hope of disgracing that powerful emperor.

Some time afterwards your suspicions, always light and volatile, charge
this poisoning upon Catherine de Medici, wife of Henry II., then dauphin
and subsequently king of France. You say that, in order to reign, she
destroyed by poison the first dauphin, who stood between her husband and
the throne. Miserable impostors! Once again, I say, be consistent!
Catherine de Medici was at that time only seventeen years of age.

It has been said that Charles V. himself imputed this murder to
Catherine, and the historian Pera is quoted to prove it. This however,
is an error. These are the historian's words:

"This year the dauphin of France died at Paris with decided indications
of poison. His friends ascribed it to the orders of the Marquis del
Vasto and Anthony de Leva, which led to the execution of Count
Montecuculi, who was in the habit of corresponding with them: base and
absurd suspicion of men so highly honorable, as by destroying the
dauphin little or nothing could be gained. He was not yet known by his
valor any more than his brothers, who were next in the succession to

"To one presumption succeeded another. It was pretended that this murder
was committed by order of the duke of Orleans, his brother, at the
instigation of his wife, Catherine de Medici, who was ambitious of
being a queen, which, in fact, she eventually was. It is well remarked
by a certain author, that the dreadful death of the duke of Orleans,
afterwards Henry II., was the punishment of heaven upon him for
poisoning his brother--at least, if he really did poison him--a practice
too common among princes, by which they free themselves at little cost
from stumbling-blocks in their career, but frequently and manifestly
punished by God."

Signor di Pera, we instantly perceive, is not an absolute Tacitus;
besides, he takes Montecuculi, or Montecuculo, as he calls him, for a
Frenchman. He says the dauphin died at Paris, whereas it was at Tournon.
He speaks of decided indications of poison from public rumor; but it is
clear that he attributes the accusation of Catherine de Medici only to
the French. This charge is equally unjust and extravagant with that
against Montecuculi.

In fact, this volatile temperament, so characteristic of the French, has
in every period of our history led to the most tragical catastrophes. If
we go back from the iniquitous execution of Montecuculi to that of the
Knights Templars, we shall see a series of the most atrocious
punishments, founded upon the most frivolous presumptions. Rivers of
blood have flowed in France in consequence of the thoughtless character
and precipitate judgment of the French people.

We may just notice the wretched pleasure that some men, and
particularly those of weak minds, secretly enjoy in talking or writing
of public executions, like that they derive from the subject of miracles
and sorceries. In Calmet's "Dictionary of the Bible" you may find a
number of fine engravings of the punishments in use among the Hebrews.
These prints are absolutely sufficient to strike every person of feeling
with horror. We will take this opportunity to observe that neither the
Jews nor any other people ever thought of fixing persons to the cross by
nails; and that there is not even a single instance of it. It is the
fiction of some painter, built upon an opinion completely erroneous.


Ye sages who are scattered over the world--for some sages there
are--join the philosophic Beccaria, and proclaim with all your strength
that punishments ought to be proportioned to crimes:

That after shooting through the head a young man of the age of twenty,
who has spent six months with his father and mother or his mistress,
instead of rejoining his regiment, he can no longer be of any service to
his country:

That if you hang on the public gallows the servant girl who stole a
dozen napkins from her mistress, she will be unable to add to the number
of your citizens a dozen children, whom you may be considered as
strangling in embryo with their parent; that there is no proportion
between a dozen napkins and human life; and, finally, that you really
encourage domestic theft, because no master will be so cruel as to get
his coachman hanged for stealing a few of his oats; but every master
would prosecute to obtain the infliction of a punishment which should be
simply proportioned to the offence:

That all judges and legislators are guilty of the death of all the
children which unfortunate, seduced women desert, expose, or even
strangle, from a similar weakness to that which gave them birth.

On this subject I shall without scruple relate what has just occurred in
the capital of a wise and powerful republic, which however, with all its
wisdom, has unhappily retained some barbarous laws from those old,
unsocial, and inhuman ages, called by some the ages of purity of
manners. Near this capital a new-born infant was found dead; a girl was
apprehended on suspicion of being the mother; she was shut up in a
dungeon; she was strictly interrogated; she replied that she could not
have been the mother of that child, as she was at the present time
pregnant. She was ordered to be visited by a certain number of what are
called (perfectly malapropos in the present instance) wise women--by a
commission of matrons. These poor imbecile creatures declared her not to
be with child, and that the appearance of pregnancy was occasioned by
improper retention. The unfortunate woman was threatened with the
torture; her mind became alarmed and terrified; she confessed that she
had killed her supposed child; she was capitally convicted; and during
the actual passing of her sentence was seized with the pains of
childbirth. Her judges were taught by this most impressive case not
lightly to pass sentences of death.

With respect to the numberless executions which weak fanatics have
inflicted upon other fanatics equally weak, I will say nothing more
about them; although it is impossible to say too much.

There are scarcely any highway robberies committed in Italy without
assassinations, because the punishment of death is equally awarded to
both crimes.

It cannot be doubted that M. de Beccaria, in his "Treatise on Crimes and
Punishments" has noticed this very important fact.


It may be thought that this word should not be permitted to degrade a
dictionary of arts and sciences; it has a connection however with
jurisprudence and history. Our great poets have not disdained frequently
to avail themselves of this word in tragedy: Clytemnestra, in Iphigenia,
calls Agamemnon the executioner of his daughter.

In comedy it is used with great gayety; Mercury in the "Amphitryon" (act
i. scene 2), says: "_Comment, bourreau! tu fais des cris_!"--"How,
hangman! thou bellowest!"

And even the Romans permitted themselves to say: "_Quorsum vadis,
carnifex?_"--"Whither goest thou, hangman?"

The Encyclopædia, under the word "Executioner," details all the
privileges of the Parisian executioner; but a recent author has gone
farther. In a romance on education, not altogether equal to Xenophon's
"Cyropædia" or Fénelon's "Telemachus," he pretends that the monarch of a
country ought, without hesitation, to bestow the daughter of an
executioner in marriage on the heir apparent of the crown, if she has
been well educated, and if she is of a sufficiently congruous
disposition with the young prince. It is a pity that he has not
mentioned the precise sum she should carry with her as a dower, and the
honors that should be conferred upon her father on the day of marriage.

It is scarcely possible, with due _congruity_, to carry further the
profound morality, the novel rules of decorum, the exquisite paradoxes,
and divine maxims with which the author I speak of has favored and
regaled the present age. He would undoubtedly feel the perfect
_congruity_ of officiating as bridesman at the wedding. He would compose
the princess's epithalamium, and not fail to celebrate the grand
exploits of her father. The bride may then possibly impart some acrid
kisses; for be it known that this same writer, in another romance called
"_Héloise_," introduces a young Swiss, who had caught a particular
disorder in Paris, saying to his mistress, "Keep your kisses to
yourself; they are too acrid."

A time will come when it will scarcely be conceived possible that such
works should have obtained a sort of celebrity; had the celebrity
continued, it would have done no honor to the age. Fathers of families
soon made up their minds that it was not exactly decorous to marry their
eldest sons to the daughters of executioners, whatever congruity might
appear to exist between the lover and the lady. There is a rule in all
things, and certain limits which cannot be rationally passed.

     _Est modus in rebus, sunt certi denique fines,_
     _Quos ultra citraque nequit consistere rectum._


_Dieu fit du repentir la vertu des mortels._

The repentance of man is accepted by God as virtue, and perhaps the
finest institution of antiquity was that solemn ceremony which repressed
crimes by announcing that they would be punished, and at the same time
soothed the despair of the guilty by permitting them to redeem their
transgressions by appointed modes of penance. Remorse, it is to be
remembered, must necessarily have preceded expiation, for diseases are
older than medicine, and necessities than relief.

There was, then, previously to all public and legal forms of worship, a
natural and instinctive religion which inflicted grief upon the heart of
any one who, through ignorance or passion, had committed an inhuman
action. A man in a quarrel has killed his friend, or his brother, or a
jealous and frantic lover has taken the life of her without whom he felt
as if it were impossible to live. The chief of a nation has condemned to
death a virtuous man and useful citizen. Such men, if they retain their
senses and sensibility, become overwhelmed by despair. Their consciences
pursue and haunt them; two courses only are open to them, reparation or
to become hardened in guilt. All who have the slightest feeling
remaining choose the former; monsters adopt the latter.

As soon as religion was established, expiations were admitted. The
ceremonies attending them were, unquestionably, ridiculous; for what
connection is there between the water of the Ganges and a murder? How
could a man repair homicide by bathing? We have already commented on the
excess of absurdity and insanity which can imagine that what washes the
body, washes the soul also, and expunges from it the stain of evil

The water of the Nile had afterwards the same virtue as that of the
Ganges; other ceremonies were added to these ablutions. The Egyptians
took two he-goats and drew lots which of the two should be cast out
loaded with the sins of the guilty. This goat was called Hazazel, the
expiator. What connection is there, pray, between a goat and the crime
of a human being?

It is certainly true that in after times this ceremony was sanctified
among our fathers the Jews, who adopted many of the Egyptian rites; but
the souls of the Jews were undoubtedly purified, not by the goat but by

Jason, having killed Absyrtus, his brother-in-law, went, we are told,
with Medea, who was more guilty than himself, to be absolved by Circe,
the queen and priestess of Æa, who passed in those days for a most
powerful sorceress. Circe absolved them with a sucking pig and salt
cakes. This might possibly be a very good dish, but it could neither
compensate for the blood of Absyrtus, nor make Jason and Medea more
worthy people, unless while eating their pig they also manifested the
sincerity of their repentance.

The expiation of Orestes, who had avenged his father by the murder of
his mother, consisted in going and stealing a statue from the Tartars of
the Crimea. The statue was probably extremely ill executed, and there
appeared nothing to be gained by such an enterprise. In later times
these things were contrived better: mysteries were invented, and the
offenders might obtain absolution at these mysteries by submitting to
certain painful trials, and swearing to lead a new life. It is from this
oath that the persons taking it had attached to them, among all nations,
a name corresponding to that of initiated "_qui ineunt vitam
novam_,"--who begin a new career, who enter upon the path of virtue.

We have seen under the article on "Baptism" that the Christian
catechumens were not called initiated till after they had been baptized.

It is indisputable, that persons had not their sins washed away in these
mysteries, but by virtue of their oath to become virtuous: the
hierophant in all the Grecian mysteries, when dismissing the assembly,
pronounced the two Egyptian words, "_Koth, ompheth_," "watch, be pure";
which at once proves that the mysteries came originally from Egypt, and
that they were invented solely for the purpose of making mankind better.

Wise men, we thus see, have, in every age, done all in their power to
inspire the love of virtue, and to prevent the weakness of man from
sinking under despair; but, at the same time there have existed crimes
of such magnitude and horror that no mystery could admit of their
expiation. Nero, although an emperor, could not obtain initiation into
the mysteries of Ceres. Constantine, according to the narrative of
Zosimus, was unable to procure the pardon of his crimes: he was polluted
with the blood of his wife, his son, and all his relations. It was
necessary, for the protection of the human race, that crimes so
flagitious should be deemed incapable of expiation, that the prospect of
absolution might not invite to their committal, and that hideous
atrocity might be checked by universal horror.

The Roman Catholics have expiations which they call penances. We have
seen, under the article on "Austerities," how grossly so salutary an
institution has been abused.

According to the laws of the barbarians who subverted the Roman Empire,
crimes were expiated by money. This was called compounding: "Let the
offender compound by paying ten, twenty, thirty shillings." Two hundred
sous constituted the composition price for killing a priest, and four
hundred for killing a bishop; so that a bishop was worth exactly two

After having thus compounded with men, God Himself was compounded with,
when the practice of confession became generally established. At length
Pope John XXII. established a tariff of sins.

The absolution of incest, committed by a layman, cost four livres
tournois: "_Ab incestu pro laico in foro conscienticæ turonenses
quatuor_." For a man and woman who have committed incest, eighteen
livres tournois, four ducats, and nine carlines. This is certainly
unjust; if one person pays only four livres tournois, two persons ought
not to pay more than eight.

Even crimes against nature have actually their affixed rates, amounting
to ninety livres tournois, twelve ducats, and six carlines: "_Cum
inhibitione turonenses 90, ducatos 12, carlinos 90_," etc.

It is scarcely credible that Leo X. should have been so imprudent as to
print this book of rates or indulgences in 1514, which, however, we are
assured he did; at the same time it must be considered that no spark
had then appeared of that conflagration, kindled afterwards by the
reformers; and that the court of Rome reposed implicitly upon the
credulity of the people, and neglected to throw even the slightest veil
over its impositions. The public sale of indulgences, which soon
followed, shows that that court took no precaution whatever to conceal
its gross abominations from the various nations which had been so long
accustomed to them. When the complaints against the abuses of the Romish
church burst forth, it did all in its power to suppress this
publication, but all was in vain.

If I may give my opinion upon this book of rates, I must say that I do
not believe the editions of it are genuine; the rates are not in any
kind of proportion and do not at all coincide with those stated by
d'Aubigné, the grandfather of Madame de Maintenon, in the confession of
de Sancy. Depriving a woman of her virginity is estimated at six gros,
and committing incest with a mother or a sister, at five gros. This is
evidently ridiculous. I think that there really was a system of rates or
taxes established for those who went to Rome to obtain absolution or
purchase dispensations, but that the enemies of the Holy See added
largely, in order to increase the odium against it. Consult Bayle, under
the articles on "Bank," "Dupinet," "Drelincourt."

It is at least positively certain that these rates were never authorized
by any council; that they constituted an enormous abuse, invented by
avarice, and respected by those who were interested in its not being
abolished. The sellers and the purchasers equally found their account in
it; and accordingly none opposed it before the breaking out of the
disturbances attending the Reformation. It must be acknowledged that an
exact list of all these rates or taxes would be eminently useful in the
formation of a history of the human mind.


We will here attempt to draw from the word "extreme" an idea that may be
attended with some utility.

It is every day disputed whether in war success is ascribable to conduct
or to fortune.

Whether in diseases, nature or medicine is most operative in healing or

Whether in law it is not judicious for a man to compromise, although he
is in the right, and to defend a cause although he is in the wrong.

Whether the fine arts contribute to the glory or to the decline of a

Whether it is wise or injudicious to encourage superstition in a people.

Whether there is any truth in metaphysics, history, or morals.

Whether taste is arbitrary, and whether there is in reality a good and a
bad taste.

In order to decide at once all these questions, take an advantage of
the extreme cases under each, compare these two extremes, and you will
immediately discover the truth.

You wish to know whether success in war can be infallibly decided by
conduct; consider the most extreme case, the most opposed situations in
which conduct alone will infallibly triumph. The hostile army must
necessarily pass through a deep mountain gorge; your commander knows
this circumstance; he makes a forced march, gets possession of the
heights, and completely encloses the enemy in the defile; there they
must either perish or surrender. In this extreme case fortune can have
no share in the victory. It is demonstrable, therefore, that skill may
decide the success of a campaign, and it hence necessarily follows that
war is an art.

Afterwards imagine an advantageous but not a decisive position; success
is not certain, but it is exceedingly probable. And thus, from one
gradation to another, you arrive at what may be considered a perfect
equality between the two armies. Who shall then decide? Fortune; that
is, some unexpected circumstance or event; the death of a general
officer going to execute some important order; the derangement of a
division in consequence of a false report, the operation of sudden
panic, or various other causes for which prudence can find no remedy;
yet it is still always certain that there is an art, that there is a
science in war.

The same must be observed concerning medicine; the art of operating
with the head or hand to preserve the life which appears likely to be

The first who applied bleeding as speedily as possible to a patient
under apoplexy; the first who conceived the idea of plunging a bistoury
into the bladder to extract the stone from it, and of closing up the
wound; the first who found out the method of stopping gangrene in any
part of the human frame, were undoubtedly men, almost divine, and
totally unlike the physicians of Molière.

Descend from this strong and decisive example to cases less striking and
more equivocal; you perceive fevers and various other maladies cured
without its being possible to ascertain whether this is done by the
physician or by nature; you perceive diseases, the issue of which cannot
be judged; various physicians are mistaken in their opinions of the seat
or nature of them; he who has the acutest genius, the keenest eye,
develops the character of the complaint. There is then an art in
medicine, and the man of superior mind is acquainted with its niceties.
Thus it was that La Peyronie discovered that one of the courtiers had
swallowed a sharp bone, which had occasioned an ulcer and endangered his
life; and thus also did Boerhaave discover the complaint, as unknown as
it was dreadful, of a countess of Wassenaer. There is, therefore, it
cannot be doubted, an art in medicine, but in every art there are
Virgils and Mæviuses.

In jurisprudence, take a case that is clear, in which the law
pronounces decisively; a bill of exchange correctly drawn and regularly
accepted; the acceptor is bound to pay it in every country in the world.
There is, therefore, a useful jurisprudence, although in innumerable
cases sentences are arbitrary, because, to the misery of mankind, the
laws are ill-framed.

Would you wish to know whether the fine arts are beneficial to a nation?
Compare the two extremes: Cicero and a perfect ignoramus. Decide whether
the fall of Rome was owing to Pliny or to Attila.

It is asked whether we should encourage superstition in the people.
Consider for a moment what is the greatest extreme on this baleful
subject, the massacre of St. Bartholomew, the massacres of Ireland, or
the Crusades; and the question is decided.

Is there any truth in metaphysics? Advert to those points which are most
striking and true. Something exists; something, therefore, has existed
from all eternity. An eternal being exists of himself; this being cannot
be either wicked or inconsistent. To these truths we must yield; almost
all the rest is open to disputation, and the clearest understanding
discovers the truth.

It is in everything else as it is in colors; bad eyes can distinguish
between black and white; better eyes, and eyes much exercised, can
distinguish every nicer gradation: "_Usque adeo quod tangit idem est,
tamen ultima distant._"


_Of Some Singular Passages in This Prophet, and of Certain Ancient

It is well known that we ought not to judge of ancient usages by modern
ones; he that would reform the court of Alcinous in the "Odyssey," upon
the model of the Grand Turk, or Louis XIV., would not meet with a very
gentle reception from the learned; he who is disposed to reprehend
Virgil for having described King Evander covered with a bear's skin and
accompanied by two dogs at the introduction of ambassadors, is a
contemptible critic.

The manners of the ancient Egyptians and Jews are still more different
from ours than those of King Alcinous, his daughter Nausicáa, and the
worthy Evander. Ezekiel, when in slavery among the Chaldæans, had a
vision near the small river Chobar, which falls into the Euphrates.

We ought not to be in the least astonished at his having seen animals
with four faces, four wings, and with calves' feet; or wheels revolving
without aid and "instinct with life"; these images are pleasing to the
imagination; but many critics have been shocked at the order given him
by the Lord to eat, for a period of three hundred and ninety days, bread
made of barley, wheat, or millet, covered with human ordure.

The prophet exclaimed in strong disgust, "My soul has not hitherto been
polluted"; and the Lord replied, "Well, I will allow you instead of
man's ordure to use that of the cow, and with the latter you shall knead
your bread."

As it is now unusual to eat a preparation of bread of this description,
the greater number of men regard the order in question as unworthy of
the Divine Majesty. Yet it must be admitted that cow-dung and all the
diamonds of the great Mogul are perfectly equal, not only in the eyes of
a Divine Being, but in those of a true philosopher; and, with regard to
the reasons which God might have for ordering the prophet this repast,
we have no right to inquire into them. It is enough for us to see that
commands which appear to us very strange, did not appear so to the Jews.

It must be admitted that the synagogue, in the time of St. Jerome, did
not suffer "Ezekiel" to be read before the age of thirty; but this was
because, in the eighteenth chapter, he says that the son shall not bear
the iniquity of his father, and it shall not be any longer said the
fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on

This expression was considered in direct contradiction to Moses, who, in
the twenty-eighth chapter of "Numbers," declares that the children bear
the iniquity of the fathers, even to the third and fourth generation.

Ezekiel, again, in the twentieth chapter, makes the Lord say that He has
given to the Jews precepts which are not good. Such are the reasons for
which the synagogue forbade young people reading an author likely to
raise doubts on the irrefragability of the laws of Moses.

The censorious critics of the present day are still more astonished with
the sixteenth chapter of Ezekiel. In that chapter he thus takes it upon
him to expose the crimes of the city of Jerusalem. He introduces the
Lord speaking to a young woman; and the Lord said to her, "When thou
wast born, thy navel string was not cut, thou wast not salted, thou wast
quite naked, I had pity on thee; thou didst increase in stature, thy
breasts were fashioned, thy hair was grown, I passed by thee, I observed
thee, I knew that the time of lovers was come, I covered thy shame, I
spread my skirt over thee; thou becamest mine; I washed and perfumed
thee, and dressed and shod thee well; I gave thee a scarf of linen, and
bracelets, and a chain for thy neck; I placed a jewel in thy nose,
pendants in thy ears, and a crown upon thy head."

"Then, confiding in thy beauty, thou didst in the height of thy renown,
play the harlot with every passer-by.... And thou hast built a high
place of profanation ... and thou hast prostituted thyself in public
places, and opened thy feet to every one that passed ... and thou hast
committed fornication with the Egyptians ... and finally thou hast paid
thy lovers and made them presents, that they might lie with thee ... and
by hiring them, instead of being hired, thou hast done differently from
other harlots.... The proverb is, as is the mother, so is the daughter,
and that proverb is used of thee," etc.

Still more are they exasperated on the subject of the twenty-third
chapter. A mother had two daughters, who early lost their virginity. The
elder was called Ahola, and the younger Aholibah.... "Aholah committed
fornication with young lords and captains, and lay with the Egyptians
from her early youth.... Aholibah, her sister, committed still greater
fornication with officers and rulers and well-made cavaliers; she
discovered her shame, she multiplied her fornications, she sought
eagerly for the embraces of those whose flesh was as that of asses, and
whose issue was as that of horses."

These descriptions, which so madden weak minds, signify, in fact, no
more than the iniquities of Jerusalem and Samaria; these expressions,
which appear to us licentious, were not so then. The same vivacity is
displayed in many other parts of Scripture without the slightest
apprehension. Opening the womb is very frequently mentioned. The terms
made use of to express the union of Boaz with Ruth, and of Judah with
his daughter-in-law, are not indelicate in the Hebrew language, but
would be so in our own.

People who are not ashamed of nakedness, never cover it with a veil. In
the times under consideration, no blush could have been raised by the
mention of particular parts of the frame of man, as they were actually
touched by the person who bound himself by any promise to another; it
was a mark of respect, a symbol of fidelity, as formerly among
ourselves, feudal lords put their hands between those of their

We have translated the term adverted to by the word "thigh." Eliezer
puts his hand under Abraham's thigh. Joseph puts his hand under the
thigh of Jacob. This custom was very ancient in Egypt. The Egyptians
were so far from attaching any disgrace to what we are desirous as much
as possible to conceal and avoid the mention of, that they bore in
procession a large and characteristic image, called Phallus, in order to
thank the gods for making the human frame so instrumental in the
perpetuation of the human species.

All this affords sufficient proof that our sense of decorum and
propriety is different from that of other nations. When do the Romans
appear to have been more polished than in the time of Augustus? Yet
Horace scruples not to say, in one of his moral pieces: "_Nec metuo, ne
dum futuo vir rure recurrat_" (Satire II., book i., v. 127.) Augustus
uses the same expression in an epigram on Fulvia.

The man who should among us pronounce the expression in our language
corresponding to it, would be regarded as a drunken porter; that word,
as well as various others used by Horace and other authors, appears to
us even more indecent than the expressions of Ezekiel. Let us then do
away with our prejudices when we read ancient authors, or travel among
distant nations. Nature is the same everywhere, and usages are
everywhere different.

I once met at Amsterdam a rabbi quite brimful of this chapter. "Ah! my
friend," says he, "how very much we are obliged to you. You have
displayed all the sublimity of the Mosaic law, Ezekiel's breakfast; his
delightful left-sided attitudes; Aholah and Aholibah are admirable
things; they are types, my brother--types which show that one day the
Jewish people will be masters of the whole world; but why did you admit
so many others which are nearly of equal strength? Why did not you
represent the Lord saying to the sage Hosea, in the second verse of the
first chapter, 'Hosea, take to thyself a harlot, and make to her the
children of a harlot?' Such are the very words. Hosea takes the young
woman and has a son by her, and afterwards a daughter, and then again a
son; and it was a type, and that type lasted three years. That is not
all; the Lord says in the third chapter, 'Go and take to thyself a woman
who is not merely a harlot, but an adulteress.' Hosea obeyed, but it
cost him fifteen crowns and eighteen bushels of barley; for, you know,
there was very little wheat in the land of promise--but are you aware of
the meaning of all this?" "No," said I to him. "Nor I neither," said the

A grave person then advanced towards us and said they were ingenious
fictions and abounding in exquisite beauty. "Ah, sir," remarked a young
man, "if you are inclined for fictions, give the preference to those of
Homer, Virgil, and Ovid." He who prefers the prophecies of Ezekiel
deserves to breakfast with him.


It is very likely that the more ancient fables, in the style of those
attributed to Æsop, were invented by the first subjugated people. Free
men would not have had occasion to disguise the truth; a tyrant can
scarcely be spoken to except in parables; and at present, even this is a
dangerous liberty.

It might also very well happen that men naturally liking images and
tales, ingenious persons amused themselves with composing them, without
any other motive. However that may be, fable is more ancient than

Among the Jews, who are quite a modern people in comparison with the
Chaldæans and Tyrians, their neighbors, but very ancient by their own
accounts, fables similar to those of Æsop existed in the time of the
Judges, 1233 years before our era, if we may depend upon received

It is said in the Book of Judges that Gideon had seventy sons born of
his many wives; and that, by a concubine, he had another son named

Now, this Abimelech slew sixty-nine of his brethren upon one stone,
according to Jewish custom, and in consequence the Jews, full of
respect and admiration, went to crown him king, under an oak near
Millo, a city which is but little known in history.

Jotham alone, the youngest of the brothers, escaped the carnage--as it
always happens in ancient histories--and harangued the Israelites,
telling them that the trees went one day to choose a king; we do not
well see how they could march, but if they were able to speak, they
might just as well be able to walk. They first addressed themselves to
the olive, saying, "Reign thou over us." The olive replied, "I will not
quit the care of my oil to be promoted over you." The fig-tree said that
he liked his figs better than the trouble of the supreme power. The vine
gave the preference to its grapes. At last the trees addressed
themselves to the bramble, which answered: "If in truth ye anoint one
king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow; and if not,
let fire come out of the bramble and devour the cedars of Lebanon."

It is true that this fable falsifies throughout, because fire cannot
come from a bramble, but it shows the antiquity of the use of fables.

That of the belly and the members, which calmed a tumult in Rome about
two thousand three hundred years ago, is ingenious and without fault.
The more ancient the fables the more allegorical they were.

Is not the ancient fable of Venus, as related by Hesiod, entirely a
fable of nature? This Venus is the goddess of beauty. Beauty ceases to
be lovely if unaccompanied by the graces. Beauty produces love. Love has
features which pierce all hearts; he wears a bandage, which conceals the
faults of those beloved. He has wings; he comes quickly and flies away
the same.

Wisdom is conceived in the brain of the chief of the gods, under the
name of Minerva. The soul of man is a divine fire, which Minerva shows
to Prometheus, who makes use of this divine fire to animate mankind.

It is impossible, in these fables, not to recognize a lively picture of
pure nature. Most other fables are either corruptions of ancient
histories or the caprices of the imagination. It is with ancient fables
as with our modern tales; some convey charming morals, and others very
insipid ones.

The ingenious fables of the ancients have been grossly imitated by an
unenlightened race--witness those of Bacchus, Hercules, Prometheus,
Pandora, and many others, which were the amusement of the ancient world.
The barbarians, who confusedly heard them spoken of, adopted them into
their own savage mythology, and afterwards it is pretended that they
invented them. Alas! poor unknown and ignorant people, who knew no art
either useful or agreeable--to whom even the name of geometry was
unknown--dare you say that you have invented anything? You have not
known either how to discover truth, or to lie adroitly.

The most elegant Greek fable was that of Psyche; the most pleasant, that
of the Ephesian matron. The prettiest among the moderns is that of
Folly, who, having put out Love's eyes, is condemned to be his guide.

The fables attributed to Æsop are all emblems; instructions to the weak,
to guard them as much as possible against the snares of the strong. All
nations, possessing a little wisdom, have adopted them. La Fontaine has
treated them with the most elegance. About eighty of them are
masterpieces of simplicity, grace, finesse, and sometimes even of
poetry. It is one of the advantages of the age of Louis XIV. to have
produced a La Fontaine. He has so well discovered, almost without
seeking it, the art of making one read, that he has had a greater
reputation in France than genius itself.

Boileau has never reckoned him among those who did honor to the great
age of Louis XIV.; his reason or his pretext was that he had never
invented anything. What will better bear out Boileau is the great number
of errors in language and the incorrectness of style; faults which La
Fontaine might have avoided, and which this severe critic could not
pardon. His grasshopper, for instance, having sung all the summer, went
to beg from the ant, her neighbor, in the winter, telling her, on the
word of an animal, that she would pay her principal and interest before
midsummer. The ant replies: "You sang, did you? I am glad of it; then
now dance."

His astrologer, again, who falling into a ditch while gazing at the
stars, was asked: "Poor wretch! do you expect to be able to read things
so much above you?" Yet Copernicus, Galileo, Cassini, and Halley have
read the heavens very well; and the best astronomer that ever existed
might fall into a ditch without being a poor wretch.

Judicial astrology is indeed ridiculous charlatanism, but the
ridiculousness does not consist in regarding the heavens; it consists in
believing, or in making believe, that you read what is not there.
Several of these fables, either ill chosen or badly written, certainly
merit the censure of Boileau.

Nothing is more insipid than the fable of the drowned woman, whose
corpse was sought contrary to the course of the river, because in her
lifetime she had always been contrary.

The tribute sent by the animals to King Alexander is a fable, which is
not the better for being ancient. The animals sent no money, neither did
the lion advise them to steal it.

The satyr who received a peasant into his hut should not have turned him
out on seeing that he blew his fingers because he was cold; and
afterwards, on taking the dish between his teeth, that he blew his
pottage because it was hot. The man was quite right, and the satyr was a
fool. Besides, we do not take hold of dishes with our teeth.

The crab-mother, who reproached her daughter with not walking straight;
and the daughter, who answered that her mother walked crooked, is not
an agreeable fable.

The bush and the duck, in commercial partnership with the bat, having
counters, factors, agents, paying principal and interest, etc., has
neither truth, nature, nor any kind of merit.

A bush which goes with a bat into foreign countries to trade is one of
those cold and unnatural inventions which La Fontaine should not have
adopted. A house full of dogs and cats, living together like cousins and
quarrelling for a dish of pottage, seems also very unworthy of a man of

The chattering magpie is still worse. The eagle tells her that he
declines her company because she talks too much. On which La Fontaine
remarks that it is necessary at court to wear two faces.

Where is the merit of the fable of the kite presented by a bird-catcher
to a king, whose nose he had seized with his claws? The ape who married
a Parisian girl and beat her is an unfortunate story presented to La
Fontaine, and which he has been so unfortunate as to put into verse.

Such fables as these; and some others, may doubtless justify Boileau; it
might even happen that La Fontaine could not distinguish the bad fables
from the good.

Madame de la Sablière called La Fontaine a fabulist, who bore fables as
naturally as a plum-tree bears plums. It is true that he had only one
style, and that he wrote an opera in the style of his fables.

Notwithstanding all this, Boileau should have rendered justice to the
singular merit of the good man, as he calls him, and to the public, who
are right in being enchanted with the style of many of his fables.

La Fontaine was not an original or a sublime writer, a man of
established taste, or one of the first geniuses of a brilliant era; and
it is a very remarkable fault in him that he speaks not his own language
correctly. He is in this respect very inferior to Phaedrus, but he was a
man unique in the excellent pieces that he has left us. They are very
numerous, and are in the mouths of all those who have been respectably
brought up; they contribute even to their education. They will descend
to posterity; they are adapted for all men and for all times, while
those of Boileau suit only men of letters.

_Of Those Fanatics Who Would Suppress the Ancient Fables._

There is among those whom we call Jansenists a little sect of hard and
empty heads, who would suppress the beautiful fables of antiquity, to
substitute St. Prosper in the place of Ovid, and Santeuil in that of
Horace. If they were attended to, our pictures would no longer represent
Iris on the rainbow, or Minerva with her aegis; but instead of them, we
should have Nicholas and Arnauld fighting against the Jesuits and
Protestants; Mademoiselle Perrier cured of sore eyes by a thorn from the
crown of Jesus Christ, brought from Jerusalem to Port Royal; Counsellor
Carré de Montgeron presenting the account of St. Médard to Louis XV.;
and St. Ovid resuscitating little boys.

In the eyes of these austere sages, Fénelon was only an idolater, who,
following the example of the impious poem of the "Æneid," introduced the
child Cupid with the nymph Eucharis.

Pluche, at the end of his fable of the Heavens, entitled "Their
History," writes a long dissertation to prove that it is shameful to
have tapestry worked in figures taken from Ovid's "Metamorphoses"; and
that Zephyrus and Flora, Vertumnus and Pomona, should be banished from
the gardens of Versailles. He exhorts the school of belles-lettres to
oppose itself to this bad taste; which reform alone, he says, is capable
of re-establishing the belles-lettres.

Other puritans, more severe than sage a little time ago, would have
proscribed the ancient mythology as a collection of puerile tales,
unworthy the acknowledged gravity of our manners. It would, however, be
a pity to burn Ovid, Horace, Hesiod, our fine tapestry pictures and our
opera. If we were spared the familiar stories of Æsop, why lay hands on
those sublime fables, which have been respected by mankind, whom they
have instructed? They are mingled with many insipidities, no doubt, but
what good is without an alloy? All ages will adopt Pandora's box, at the
bottom of which was found man's only consolation--hope; Jupiter's two
vessels, which unceasingly poured forth good and evil; the cloud
embraced by Ixion, which is the emblem and punishment of an ambitious
man; and the death of Narcissus, which is the punishment of self-love.
What is more sublime than the image of Minerva, the goddess of wisdom,
formed in the head of the master of the gods? What is more true and
agreeable than the goddess of beauty, always accompanied by the graces?
The goddesses of the arts, all daughters of memory--do they not teach
us, as well as Locke, that without memory we cannot possess either
judgment or wit? The arrows of Love, his fillet, and his childhood;
Flora, caressed by Zephyrus, etc.--are they not all sensible
personifications of pure nature? These fables have survived the
religions which consecrated them. The temples of the gods of Egypt,
Greece, and Rome are no more, but Ovid still exists. Objects of
credulity may be destroyed, but not those of pleasure; we shall forever
love these true and lively images. Lucretius did not believe in these
fabulous gods, but he celebrated nature under the name of Venus.

     _Alma Venus cœli subter labentia signa_
     _Quæ mare navigerum, quæ terras frugiferentes_
     _Concelebras, per te quoniam genus omne animantum_
     _Concipitur, visitque exortum lumina solis_, etc.

     Kind Venus, glory of the blest abodes,
     Parent of Rome, and joy of men and gods;
     Delight of all, comfort of sea and earth,
     To whose kind power all creatures owe their birth, etc.

If antiquity in its obscurity was led to acknowledge divinity in its
images, how is it to be blamed? The productive soul of the world was
adored by the sages; it governed the sea under the name of Neptune, the
air under the image of Juno, and the country under that of Pan. It was
the divinity of armies under the name of Mars; all these attributes were
animated personifications. Jupiter was the only _god_. The golden chain
with which he bound the inferior gods and men was a striking image of
the unity of a sovereign being. The people were deceived, but what are
the people to us?

It is continually asked why the Greek and Roman magistrates permitted
the divinities whom they adored in their temples to be ridiculed on
their stage? This is a false supposition. The gods were not mocked in
their theatres, but the follies attributed to these gods by those who
had corrupted the ancient mythology. The consuls and prætors found it
good to treat the adventure of the two Sosias wittily, but they would
not have suffered the worship of Jupiter and Mercury to be attacked
before the people. It is thus that a thousand things which appear
contradictory are not so in reality. I have seen, in the theatre of a
learned and witty nation, pieces taken from the Golden Legend; will it,
on that account, be said that this nation permits its objects of
religion to be insulted? It need not be feared we shall become Pagans
for having heard the opera of Proserpine at Paris, or for having seen
the nuptials of Psyche, painted by Raphael, in the pope's palace at
Rome. Fable forms the taste, but renders no person idolatrous.

The beautiful fables of antiquity have also this great advantage over
history: they are lessons of virtue, while almost all history narrates
the success of vice. Jupiter in the fable descends upon earth to punish
Tantalus and Lycaon; but in history our Tantaluses and Lycaons are the
gods of the earth. Baucis and Philemon had their cabin changed into a
temple; our Baucises and Philemons are obliged to sell, for the
collector of the taxes, those kettles which, in Ovid, the gods changed
into vases of gold.

I know how much history can instruct us and how necessary it is to know
it; but it requires much ingenuity to be able to draw from it any rules
for individual conduct. Those who know politics only through books will
be often reminded of those lines of Corneille, which observe that
examples will seldom suffice for our guidance, as it often happens that
one person perishes by the very expedient which has proved the salvation
of another.

     _Les exemples recens suffiraient pour m'instruire_
     _Si par l'exemple seul on devait se conduire;_
     _Mais souvent l'un se perd où l'autre s'est sauvé,_
     _Et par où l'un périt, un autre est conservé._

Henry VIII., the tyrant of his parliament, his ministers and his wives,
of consciences and purses, lived and died peaceably. Charles I. perished
on the scaffold. Margaret of Anjou in vain waged war in person a dozen
times with the English, the subjects of her husband, while William III.
drove James II. from England without a battle. In our days we have seen
the royal family of Persia murdered, and strangers upon the throne.

To look at events only, history seems to accuse Providence, and fine
moral fables justify it. It is clear that both the useful and agreeable
may be discovered in them, however exclaimed against by those who are
neither the one nor the other. Let them talk on, and let us read Homer
and Ovid, as well as Titus Livius and Rapin de Thoyras. Taste induces
preferences and fanaticism exclusions. The arts are united, and those
who would separate them know nothing about them. History teaches us what
we are--fable what we ought to be.

     _Tous les arts sont amis, ainsi qu ils sont divins;_
     _Qui veut les séparer est loin de les connaître._
     _L'histoire nous apprend ce que sont les humains,_
     _La fable ce qu ils doivent être._


_On the Meaning of the Word._

The word "faction" comes from the Latin "_facere_"; it is employed to
signify the state of a soldier at his post, on duty (_en faction_),
squadrons or troops of combatants in the circus; green, blue, red, and
white factions.

The acceptation in which the term is generally used is that of a
seditious party in the state. The term "party" in itself implies nothing
that is odious, that of faction is always odious.

A great man, and even a man possessing only mediocrity of talent, may
easily have a party at court, in the army, in the city, or in
literature. A man may have a party in consequence of his merit, in
consequence of the zeal and number of his friends, without being the
head of a party. Marshal Catinat, although little regarded at court, had
a large party in the army without making any effort to obtain it.

A head of a party is always a head of a faction; such were Cardinal
Retz, Henry, duke of Guise, and various others. A seditious party, while
it is yet weak and has no influence in the government, is only a

Cæsar's faction speedily became a dominant party, which swallowed up the
republic. When the emperor Charles VI. disputed the throne of Spain with
Philip V. he had a party in that kingdom, and at length he had no more
than a faction in it. Yet we may always be allowed to talk of the
"party" of Charles VI.

It is different with respect to private persons. Descartes for a long
time had a party in France; it would be incorrect to say he had a
faction. Thus we perceive that words in many cases synonymous cease to
be so in others.


All the powers of matter and mind are faculties; and, what is still
worse, faculties of which we know nothing, perfectly occult qualities;
to begin with motion, of which no one has discovered the origin.

When the president of the faculty of medicine in the "_Malade
Imaginaire_," asks Thomas Diafoirus: "_Quare opium facit dormire_?"--Why
does opium cause sleep? Thomas very pertinently replies, "_Quia est in
eo virtus dormitiva quæ facit sopire."_--Because it possesses a
dormitive power producing sleep. The greatest philosophers cannot speak
more to the purpose.

The honest chevalier de Jaucourt acknowledges, under the article on
"Sleep," that it is impossible to go beyond conjecture with respect to
the cause of it. Another Thomas, and in much higher reverence than his
bachelor namesake in the comedy, has, in fact, made no other reply to
all the questions which are started throughout his immense volumes.

It is said, under the article on "Faculty," in the grand "Encyclopædia,"
"that the vital faculty once established in the intelligent principle by
which we are animated, it may be easily conceived that the faculty,
stimulated by the expressions which the vital _sensorium_ transmits to
part of the common _sensorium,_ determines the alternate influx of the
nervous fluid into the fibres which move the vital organs in order to
produce the alternate contradiction of those organs."

This amounts precisely to the answer of the young physician Thomas:
"_Quia est in eo virtus alterniva quæ facit alternare_." And Thomas
Diafoirus has at least the merit of being shortest.

The faculty of moving the foot when we wish to do so, of recalling to
mind past events, or of exercising our five senses; in short, any and
all of our faculties will admit of no further or better explanation than
that of Diafoirus.

But consider thought! say those who understand the whole secret.
Thought, which distinguishes man from all animals besides: "_Sanctius
his animal, mentisque capacius altæ_." (Ovid's Metamorph. i. 76.)--More
holy man, of more exalted mind!

As holy as you like; it is on this subject, that of thought or mind,
that Diafoirus is more triumphant than ever. All would reply in
accordance with him: "_Quia est in eo virtus pensativa quæ facit
pensare."_ No one will ever develop the mysterious process by which he

The case we are considering then might be extended to everything in
nature. I know not whether there may not be found in this profound and
unfathomable gulf of mystery an evidence of the existence of a Supreme
Being. There is a secret in the originating or conservatory principles
of all beings, from a pebble on the seashore to Saturn's Ring and the
Milky Way. But how can there be a secret which no one knows? It would
seem that some being must exist who can develop all.

Some learned men, with a view to enlighten our ignorance, tell us that
we must form systems; that we shall at last find the secret out. But we
have so long sought without obtaining any explanation that disgust
against further search has very naturally succeeded. That, say they, is
the mere indolence of philosophy; no, it is the rational repose of men
who have exerted themselves and run an active race in vain. And after
all, it must be admitted that indolent philosophy is far preferable to
turbulent divinity and metaphysical delusion.



What is faith? Is it to believe that which is evident? No. It is
perfectly evident to my mind that there exists a necessary, eternal,
supreme, and intelligent being. This is no matter of faith, but of
reason. I have no merit in thinking that this eternal and infinite
being, whom I consider as virtue, as goodness itself, is desirous that I
should be good and virtuous. Faith consists in believing not what seems
true, but what seems false to our understanding. The Asiatics can only
by faith believe the journey of Mahomet to the seven planets, and the
incarnations of the god Fo, of Vishnu, Xaca, Brahma, and Sommonocodom.
They submit their understandings; they tremble to examine: wishing to
avoid being either impaled or burned, they say: "I believe."

We do not here intend the slightest allusion to the Catholic faith. Not
only do we revere it, but we possess it. We speak of the false, lying
faith of other nations of the world, of that faith which is not faith,
and which consists only in words.

There is a faith for things that are merely astonishing and prodigious,
and a faith for things contradictory and impossible.

Vishnu became incarnate five hundred times; this is extremely
astonishing, but it is not, however, physically impossible; for if
Vishnu possessed a soul, he may have transferred that soul into five
hundred different bodies, with a view to his own felicity. The Indian,
indeed, has not a very lively faith; he is not intimately and decidedly
persuaded of these metamorphoses; but he will nevertheless say to his
bonze, "I have faith; it is your will and pleasure that Vishnu has
undergone five hundred incarnations, which is worth to you an income of
five hundred rupees: very well; you will inveigh against me, and
denounce me, and ruin my trade if I have not faith; but I have faith,
and here are ten rupees over and above for you." The Indian may swear to
the bonze that he believes without taking a false oath, for, after all,
there is no demonstration that Vishnu has not actually made five hundred
visits to India.

But if the bonze requires him to believe what is contradictory or
impossible, as that two and two make five, or that the same body may be
in a thousand different places, or that to be and not to be are
precisely one and the same thing; in that case, if the Indian says he
has faith he lies, and if he swears that he believes he commits perjury.
He says, therefore, to the bonze: "My reverend father, I cannot declare
that I believe in these absurdities, even though they should be worth to
you an income of ten thousand rupees instead of five hundred."

"My son," the bonze answers, "give me twenty rupees and God will give
you grace to believe all that you now do not believe."

"But how can you expect or desire," rejoins the Indian, "that God should
do that by me which He cannot do even by Himself? It is impossible that
God should either perform or believe contradictions. I am very willing
to say, in order to give you satisfaction, that I believe what is
obscure, but I cannot say that I believe what is impossible. It is the
will of God that we should be virtuous, and not that we should be
absurd. I have already given you ten rupees; here are twenty more;
believe in thirty rupees; be an honest man if you can and do not trouble
me any more."

It is not thus with Christians. The faith which they have for things
which they do not understand is founded upon that which they do
understand; they have grounds of credibility. Jesus Christ performed
miracles in Galilee; we ought, therefore, to believe all that He said.
In order to know what He said we must consult the Church. The Church has
declared the books which announce Jesus Christ to us to be authentic. We
ought, therefore, to believe those books. Those books inform us that he
who will not listen to the Church shall be considered as a tax-gatherer
or a Pagan; we ought, therefore, to listen to the Church that we may not
be disgraced and hated like the farmers-general. We ought to submit our
reason to it, not with infantile and blind credulity, but with a docile
faith, such as reason itself would authorize. Such is Christian faith,
particularly the Roman faith, which is "_the_ faith" par excellence. The
Lutheran, Calvinistic, or Anglican faith is a wicked faith.


Divine faith, about which so much has been written, is evidently nothing
more than incredulity brought under subjection, for we certainly have no
other faculty than the understanding by which we can believe; and the
objects of faith are not those of the understanding. We can believe only
what appears to be true; and nothing can appear true but in one of the
three following ways: by intuition or feeling, as I exist, I see the
sun; by an accumulation of probability amounting to certainty, as there
is a city called Constantinople; or by positive demonstration, as
triangles of the same base and height are equal.

Faith, therefore, being nothing at all of this description, can no more
be a belief, a persuasion, than it can be yellow or red. It can be
nothing but the annihilation of reason, a silence of adoration at the
contemplation of things absolutely incomprehensible. Thus, speaking
philosophically, no person believes the Trinity; no person believes that
the same body can be in a thousand places at once; and he who says, I
believe these mysteries, will see, beyond the possibility of a doubt, if
he reflects for a moment on what passes in his mind, that these words
mean no more than, I respect these mysteries; I submit myself to those
who announce them. For they agree with me, that my reason, or their own
reason, believe them not; but it is clear that if my _reason_ is not
persuaded, _I_ am not persuaded. I and my reason cannot possibly be two
different beings. It is an absolute contradiction that I should receive
that as true which my understanding rejects as false. Faith, therefore,
is nothing but submissive or deferential incredulity.

But why should this submission be exercised when my understanding
invincibly recoils? The reason, we well know, is, that my understanding
has been persuaded that the mysteries of my faith are laid down by God
Himself. All, then, that I can do, as a reasonable being, is to be
silent and adore. This is what divines call external faith; and this
faith neither is, nor can be, anything more than respect for things
incomprehensible, in consequence of the reliance I place on those who
teach them.

If God Himself were to say to me, "Thought is of an olive color"; "the
square of a certain number is bitter"; I should certainly understand
nothing at all from these words. I could not adopt them either as true
or false. But I will repeat them, if He commands me to do it; and I will
make others repeat them at the risk of my life. This is not faith; it is
nothing more than obedience.

In order to obtain a foundation then for this obedience, it is merely
necessary to examine the books which require it. Our understanding,
therefore, should investigate the books of the Old and New Testament,
just as it would Plutarch or Livy; and if it finds in them incontestable
and decisive evidences--evidences obvious to all minds, and such as
would be admitted by men of all nations--that God Himself is their
author, then it is our incumbent duty to subject our understanding to
the yoke of faith.


We have long hesitated whether or not to publish the following article,
"Faith," which we met with in an old book. Our respect for the chair of
St. Peter restrained us. But some pious men having satisfied us that
Alexander VI. and St. Peter had nothing in common, we have at last
determined to publish this curious little production, and do it without
the slightest scruple.

Prince Pico della Mirandola once met Pope Alexander VI. at the house of
the courtesan Emilia, while Lucretia, the holy father's daughter, was
confined in childbirth, and the people of Rome were discussing whether
the child of which she was delivered belonged to the pope, to his son
the Duke de Valentinois, or to Lucretia's husband, Alphonso of Aragon,
who was considered by many as impotent. The conversation immediately
became animated and gay. Cardinal Bembo relates a portion of it. "My
little Pico," says the pope, "whom do you think the father of my
grandson?" "I think your son-in-law," replied Pico. "What! how can you
possibly believe such nonsense?" "I believe it by faith." "But surely
you know that an impotent man cannot be a father." "Faith," replied
Pico, "consists in believing things because they are impossible; and,
besides, the honor of your house demands that Lucretia's son should not
be reputed the offspring of incest. You require me to believe more
incomprehensible mysteries. Am I not bound to believe that a serpent
spoke; that from that time all mankind were damned; that the ass of
Balaam also spoke with great eloquence; and that the walls of Jericho
fell down at the sound of trumpets?" Pico thus proceeded with a long
train of all the prodigious things in which he believed. Alexander
absolutely fell back upon his sofa with laughing. "I believe all that as
well as you," says he, "for I well know that I can be saved only by
faith, as I can certainly never be so by works." "Ah, holy father!" says
Pico, "you need neither works nor faith; they are well enough for such
poor, profane creatures as we are; but you, who are absolutely a
vice-god--you may believe and do just whatever you please.

"You have the keys of heaven; and St. Peter will certainly never shut the
door in your face. But with respect to myself, who am nothing but a poor
prince, I freely confess that I should have found some very powerful
protection necessary, if I had lain with my own daughter, or had
employed the stiletto and night-shade as often as your holiness."
Alexander VI. understood raillery. "Let us speak seriously," says he to
the prince. "Tell me what merit there can be in a man's saying to God
that he is persuaded of things of which, in fact, he cannot be
persuaded? What pleasure can this afford to God? Between ourselves, a
man who says that he believes what is impossible to be believed, is--a

Pico della Mirandola at this crossed himself in great agitation. "My
God!" says he, "I beg your holiness' pardon; but you are not a
Christian." "I am not," says the pope, "upon my faith." "I suspected
so," said Pico della Mirandola.


Falsity, properly speaking, is the contrary to truth; not intentional

It is said that there were a hundred thousand men destroyed by the great
earthquake at Lisbon; this is not a lie--it is a falsity. Falsity is
much more common than error; falsity falls more on facts, and error on
opinions. It is an error to believe that the sun turns round the earth;
but it is a falsity to advance that Louis XIV. dictated the will of
Charles II.

The falsity of a deed is a much greater crime than a simple lie; it is a
legal imposture--a fraud committed with the pen.

A man has a false mind when he always takes things in a wrong sense,
when, not considering the whole, he attributes to one side of an object
that which belongs to the other, and when this defect of judgment has
become habitual.

Falseheartedness is, when a person is accustomed to flatter, and to
utter sentiments which he does not possess; this is worse than
dissimulation, and is that which the Latins call _simulatio._

There is much falsity in historians; error among philosophers. Falsities
abound in all polemical writings, and still more in satirical ones.
False minds are insufferable, and false hearts are horrible.


When the Duke de la Rochefoucauld wrote his "Thoughts on Self-Love," and
discovered this great spring of human action, one M. Esprit of the
Oratory, wrote a book entitled "Of the Falsity of Human Virtues." This
author says that there is no virtue but by grace; and he terminates each
chapter by referring to Christian charity. So that, according to M.
Esprit, neither Cato, Aristides, Marcus Aurelius, nor Epictetus were
good men, who can be found only among the Christians. Among the
Christians, again, there is no virtue except among the Catholics; and
even among the Catholics, the Jesuits must be excepted as the enemies of
the Oratory; ergo, virtue is scarcely to be found anywhere except among
the enemies of the Jesuits.

This M. Esprit commences by asserting that prudence is not a virtue; and
his reason is that it is often deceived. It is as if he had said that
Cæsar was not a great captain because he was conquered at Dyrrachium.

If M. Esprit had been a philosopher, he would not have examined prudence
as a virtue, but as a talent--as a useful and happy quality; for a great
rascal may be very prudent, and I have known many such. Oh the age of
pretending that "_Nul n'aura de vertu que nous et nos amis_!"--None are
virtuous but ourself and friends!

What is virtue, my friend? It is to do good; let us then do it, and that
will suffice. But we give you credit for the motive. What, then!
according to you, there is no difference between the President de Thou
and Ravaillac? between Cicero and that Popilius whose life he saved, and
who afterwards cut off his head for money; and thou wilt pronounce
Epictetus and Porphyrius rogues because they did not follow our dogmas?
Such insolence is disgusting; but I will say no more, for I am getting

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