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Title: A Philosophical Dictionary, Volume 9
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 9" ***

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








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





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






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

                                                  _VICTOR HUGO._


THE HOUDON BUST--_Frontispiece_




[Illustration: Voltaire.]

       *       *       *       *       *






       *       *       *       *       *


"Liberty and property" is the great national cry of the English. It is
certainly better than "St. George and my right," or "St. Denis and
Montjoie"; it is the cry of nature. From Switzerland to China the
peasants are the real occupiers of the land. The right of conquest alone
has, in some countries, deprived men of a right so natural.

The general advantage or good of a nation is that of the sovereign, of
the magistrate, and of the people, both in peace and war. Is this
possession of lands by the peasantry equally conducive to the prosperity
of the throne and the people in all periods and circumstances? In order
to its being the most beneficial system for the throne, it must be that
which produces the most considerable revenue, and the most numerous and
powerful army.

We must inquire, therefore, whether this principle or plan tends clearly
to increase commerce and population. It is certain that the possessor of
an estate will cultivate his own inheritance better than that of
another. The spirit of property doubles a man's strength. He labors for
himself and his family both with more vigor and pleasure than he would
for a master. The slave, who is in the power of another, has but little
inclination for marriage; he often shudders even at the thought of
producing slaves like himself. His industry is damped; his soul is
brutalized; and his strength is never exercised in its full energy and
elasticity. The possessor of property, on the contrary, desires a wife
to share his happiness, and children to assist in his labors. His wife
and children constitute his wealth. The estate of such a cultivator,
under the hands of an active and willing family, may become ten times
more productive than it was before. The general commerce will be
increased. The treasure of the prince will accumulate. The country will
supply more soldiers. It is clear, therefore, that the system is
beneficial to the prince. Poland would be thrice as populous and wealthy
as it is at present if the peasants were not slaves.

Nor is the system less beneficial to the great landlords. If we suppose
one of these to possess ten thousand acres of land cultivated by serfs,
these ten thousand acres will produce him but a very scanty revenue,
which will be frequently absorbed in repairs, and reduced to nothing by
the irregularity and severity of the seasons. What will he in fact be,
although his estates may be vastly more extensive than we have
mentioned, if at the same time they are unproductive? He will be merely
the possessor of an immense solitude. He will never be really rich but
in proportion as his vassals are so; his prosperity depends on theirs.
If this prosperity advances so far as to render the land too populous;
if land is wanting to employ the labor of so many industrious hands--as
hands in the first instance were wanting to cultivate the land--then the
superfluity of necessary laborers will flow off into cities and
seaports, into manufactories and armies. Population will have produced
this decided benefit, and the possession of the lands by the real
cultivators, under payment of a rent which enriches the landlords, will
have been the cause of this increase of population.

There is another species of property not less beneficial; it is that
which is freed from payment of rent altogether, and which is liable only
to those general imposts which are levied by the sovereign for the
support and benefit of the state. It is this property which has
contributed in a particular manner to the wealth of England, of France,
and the free cities of Germany. The sovereigns who thus enfranchised the
lands which constituted their domains, derived, in the first instance,
vast advantage from so doing by the franchises which they disposed of
being eagerly purchased at high prices; and they derive from it, even at
the present day, a greater advantage still, especially in France and
England, by the progress of industry and commerce.

England furnished a grand example to the sixteenth century by
enfranchising the lands possessed by the church and the monks. Nothing
could be more odious and nothing more pernicious than the before
prevailing practice of men, who had voluntarily bound themselves, by the
rules of their order, to a life of humility and poverty, becoming
complete masters of the very finest estates in the kingdom, and treating
their brethren of mankind as mere useful animals, as no better than
beasts to bear their burdens. The state and opulence of this small
number of priests degraded human nature; their appropriated and
accumulated wealth impoverished the rest of the kingdom. The abuse was
destroyed, and England became rich.

In all the rest of Europe commerce has never flourished; the arts have
never attained estimation and honor, and cities have never advanced both
in extent and embellishment, except when the serfs of the Crown and the
Church held their lands in property. And it is deserving of attentive
remark that if the Church thus lost rights, which in fact never truly
belonged to it, the Crown gained an extension of its legitimate rights;
for the Church, whose first obligation and professed principle it is to
imitate its great legislator in humility and poverty, was not originally
instituted to fatten and aggrandize itself upon the fruit of the labors
of mankind; and the sovereign, who is the representative of the State,
is bound to manage with economy, the produce of that same labor for the
good of the State itself, and for the splendor of the throne. In every
country where the people labor for the Church, the State is poor; but
wherever they labor for themselves and the sovereign, the State is rich.

It is in these circumstances that commerce everywhere extends its
branches. The mercantile navy becomes a school for the warlike navy.
Great commercial companies are formed. The sovereign finds in periods of
difficulty and danger resources before unknown. Accordingly, in the
Austrian states, in England, and in France, we see the prince easily
borrowing from his subjects a hundred times more than he could obtain by
force while the people were bent down to the earth in slavery.

All the peasants will not be rich, nor is it necessary that they should
be so. The State requires men who possess nothing but strength and good
will. Even such, however, who appear to many as the very outcasts of
fortune, will participate in the prosperity of the rest. They will be
free to dispose of their labor at the best market, and this freedom will
be an effective substitute for property. The assured hope of adequate
wages will support their spirits, and they will bring up their families
in their own laborious and serviceable occupations with success, and
even with gayety. It is this class, so despised by the great and
opulent, that constitutes, be it remembered, the nursery for soldiers.
Thus, from kings to shepherds, from the sceptre to the scythe, all is
animation and prosperity, and the principle in question gives new force
to every exertion.

After having ascertained whether it is beneficial to a State that the
cultivators should be proprietors, it remains to be shown how far this
principle may be properly carried. It has happened, in more kingdoms
than one, that the emancipated serf has attained such wealth by his
skill and industry as has enabled him to occupy the station of his
former masters, who have become reduced and impoverished by their
luxury. He has purchased their lands and assumed their titles; the old
noblesse have been degraded, and the new have been only envied and
despised. Everything has been thrown into confusion. Those nations which
have permitted such usurpations, have been the sport and scorn of such
as have secured themselves against an evil so baneful. The errors of one
government may become a lesson for others. They profit by its wise and
salutary institutions; they may avoid the evil it has incurred through
those of an opposite tendency.

It is so easy to oppose the restrictions of law to the cupidity and
arrogance of upstart proprietors, to fix the extent of lands which
wealthy plebeians may be allowed to purchase, to prevent their
acquisition of large seigniorial property and privileges, that a firm
and wise government can never have cause to repent of having
enfranchised servitude and enriched indigence. A good is never
productive of evil but when it is carried to a culpable excess, in which
case it completely ceases to be a good. The examples of other nations
supply a warning; and on this principle it is easy to explain why those
communities, which have most recently attained civilization and regular
government, frequently surpass the masters from whom they drew their



This word, in its ordinary acceptation, signifies prediction of the
future. It is in this sense that Jesus declared to His disciples: "All
things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, and in
the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning Me. Then opened He their
understanding that they might understand the Scriptures."

We shall feel the indispensable necessity of having our minds opened to
comprehend the prophecies, if we reflect that the Jews, who were the
depositories of them, could never recognize Jesus for the Messiah, and
that for eighteen centuries our theologians have disputed with them to
fix the sense of some which they endeavor to apply to Jesus. Such is
that of Jacob--"The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver
from between his feet, until Shiloh come." That of Moses--"The Lord thy
God will raise up unto thee a prophet like unto me from the nations and
from thy brethren; unto Him shall ye hearken." That of Isaiah--"Behold a
virgin shall conceive and bring forth a son, and shall call his name
Immanuel." That of Daniel--"Seventy weeks have been determined in favor
of thy people," etc. But our object here is not to enter into
theological detail.

Let us merely observe what is said in the Acts of the Apostles, that in
giving a successor to Judas, and on other occasions, they acted
expressly to accomplish prophecies; but the apostles themselves
sometimes quote such as are not found in the Jewish writings; such is
that alleged by St. Matthew: "And He came and dwelt in a city called
Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets,
He shall be called a Nazarene."

St. Jude, in his epistle, also quotes a prophecy from the book of
"Enoch," which is apocryphal; and the author of the imperfect work on
St. Matthew, speaking of the star seen in the East by the Magi,
expresses himself in these terms: "It is related to me on the evidence
of I know not what writing, which is not authentic, but which far from
destroying faith encourages it, that there was a nation on the borders
of the eastern ocean which possessed a book that bears the name of Seth,
in which the star that appeared to the Magi is spoken of, and the
presents which these Magi offered to the Son of God. This nation,
instructed by the book in question, chose twelve of the most religious
persons amongst them, and charged them with the care of observing
whenever this star should appear. When any of them died, they
substituted one of their sons or relations. They were called magi in
their tongue, because they served God in silence and with a low voice.

"These Magi went every year, after the corn harvest, to a mountain in
their country, which they called the Mount of Victory, and which is very
agreeable on account of the fountains that water and the trees which
cover it. There is also a cistern dug in the rock, and after having
there washed and purified themselves, they offered sacrifices and prayed
to God in silence for three days.

"They had not continued this pious practice for many generations, when
the happy star descended on their mountain. They saw in it the figure of
a little child, on which there appeared that of the cross. It spoke to
them and told them to go to Judæa. They immediately departed, the star
always going before them, and were two days on the road."

This prophecy of the book of Seth resembles that of Zorodascht or
Zoroaster, except that the figure seen in his star was that of a young
virgin, and Zoroaster says not that there was a cross on her. This
prophecy, quoted in the "Gospel of the Infancy," is thus related by
Abulpharagius: "Zoroaster, the master of the Magi, instructed the
Persians of the future manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ, and
commanded them to offer Him presents when He was born. He warned them
that in future times a virgin should conceive without the operation of
any man, and that when she brought her Son into the world, a star should
appear which would shine at noonday, in the midst of which they would
see the figure of a young virgin. 'You, my children,' adds Zoroaster,
'will see it before all nations. When, therefore, you see this star
appear, go where it will conduct you. Adore this dawning child; offer it
presents, for it is the _word_ which created heaven.'"

The accomplishment of this prophecy is related in Pliny's "Natural
History"; but besides that the appearance of the star should have
preceded the birth of Jesus by about forty years, this passage seems
very suspicious to scholars, and is not the first nor only one which
might have been interpolated in favor of Christianity. This is the exact
account of it: "There appeared at Rome for seven days a comet so
brilliant that the sight of it could scarcely be supported; in the
middle of it a god was perceived under the human form; they took it for
the soul of Julius Cæsar, who had just died, and adored it in a
particular temple."

M. Assermany, in his "Eastern Library," also speaks of a book of
Solomon, archbishop of Bassora, entitled "The Bee," in which there is a
chapter on this prediction of Zoroaster. Hornius, who doubted not its
authenticity, has pretended that Zoroaster was Balaam, and that was very
likely, because Origen, in his first book against Celsus, says that the
Magi had no doubt of the prophecies of Balaam, of which these words are
found in Numbers: "There shall come a star out of Jacob, and a sceptre
shall rise out of Israel." But Balaam was no more a Jew than Zoroaster,
since he said himself that he came from Aram--from the mountains of the

Besides, St. Paul speaks expressly to Titus of a Cretan prophet, and St.
Clement of Alexandria acknowledged that God, wishing to save the Jews,
gave them prophets; with the same motive, He ever created the most
excellent men of Greece; those who were the most proper to receive His
grace, He separated from the vulgar, to be prophets of the Greeks, in
order to instruct them in their own tongue. "Has not Plato," he further
says, "in some manner predicted the plan of salvation, when in the
second book of his 'Republic,' he has imitated this expression of
Scripture: 'Let us separate ourselves from the Just, for he incommodes
us'; and he expresses himself in these terms: 'The Just shall be beaten
with rods, His eyes shall be put out, and after suffering all sorts of
evils, He shall at last be crucified.'"

St. Clement might have added, that if Jesus Christ's eyes were not put
out, notwithstanding the prophecy, neither were His bones broken, though
it is said in a psalm: "While they break My bones, My enemies who
persecute Me overwhelm Me with their reproaches." On the contrary, St.
John says positively that the soldiers broke the legs of two others who
were crucified with Him, but they broke not those of Jesus, that the
Scripture might be fulfilled: "A bone of Him shall not be broken."

This Scripture, quoted by St. John, extended to the letter of the
paschal lamb, which ought to be eaten by the Israelites; but John the
Baptist having called Jesus the Lamb of God, not only was the
application of it given to Him, but it is even pretended that His death
was predicted by Confucius. Spizeli quotes the history of China by
Maitinus, in which it is related that in the thirty-ninth year of the
reign of King-hi, some hunters outside the gates of the town killed a
rare animal which the Chinese called kilin, that is to say, the Lamb of
God. At this news, Confucius struck his breast, sighed profoundly, and
exclaimed more than once: "Kilin, who has said that thou art come?" He
added: "My doctrine draws to an end; it will no longer be of use, since
you will appear."

Another prophecy of the same Confucius is also found in his second book,
which is applied equally to Jesus, though He is not designated under the
name of the Lamb of God. This is it: We need not fear but that when the
expected Holy One shall come, all the honor will be rendered to His
virtue which is due to it. His works will be conformable to the laws of
heaven and earth.

These contradictory prophecies found in the Jewish books seem to excuse
their obstinacy, and give good reason for the embarrassment of our
theologians in their controversy with them. Further, those which we are
about to relate of other people, prove that the author of Numbers, the
apostles and fathers, recognized prophets in all nations. The Arabs
also pretend this, who reckon a hundred and eighty thousand prophets
from the creation of the world to Mahomet, and believe that each of them
was sent to a particular nation. We shall speak of prophetesses in the
article on "Sibyls."


Prophets still exist: we had two at the Bicêtre in 1723, both calling
themselves Elias. They were whipped; which put it out of all doubt.
Before the prophets of Cévennes, who fired off their guns from behind
hedges in the name of the Lord in 1704, Holland had the famous Peter
Jurieu, who published the "Accomplishment of the Prophecies." But that
Holland may not be too proud, he was born in France, in a little town
called Mer, near Orleans. However, it must be confessed that it was at
Rotterdam alone that God called him to prophesy.

This Jurieu, like many others, saw clearly that the pope was the beast
in the "Apocalypse," that he held "_poculum aureum plenum
abominationum_," the golden cup full of abominations; that the four
first letters of these four Latin words formed the word papa; that
consequently his reign was about to finish; that the Jews would re-enter
Jerusalem; that they would reign over the whole world during a thousand
years; after which would come the Antichrist; finally, Jesus seated on a
cloud would judge the quick and the dead.

Jurieu prophesies expressly that the time of the great revolution and
the entire fall of papistry "will fall justly in the year 1689, which I
hold," says he, "to be the time of the apocalyptic vintage, for the two
witnesses will revive at this time; after which, France will break with
the pope before the end of this century, or at the commencement of the
next, and the rest of the anti-Christian empire will be everywhere

The disjunctive particle "or," that sign of doubt, is not in the manner
of an adroit man. A prophet should not hesitate; he may be obscure, but
he ought to be sure of his fact.

The revolution in papistry not happening in 1689, as Peter Jurieu
predicted, he quickly published a new edition, in which he assured the
public that it would be in 1690; and, what is more astonishing, this
edition was immediately followed by another. It would have been very
beneficial if Bayle's "Dictionary" had had such a run in the first
instance; the works of the latter have, however, remained, while those
of Peter Jurieu are not even to be found by the side of Nostradamus.

All was not left to a single prophet. An English Presbyterian, who
studied at Utrecht, combated all which Jurieu said on the seven vials
and seven trumpets of the Apocalypse, on the reign of a thousand years,
the conversion of the Jews, and even on Antichrist. Each supported
himself by the authority of Cocceius, Coterus, Drabicius, and Commenius,
great preceding prophets, and by the prophetess Christina. The two
champions confined themselves to writing; we hoped they would give each
other blows, as Zedekiah smacked the face of Micaiah, saying: "Which way
went the spirit of the Lord from my hand to thy cheek?" or literally:
"How has the spirit passed from thee to me?" The public had not this
satisfaction, which is a great pity.


It belongs to the infallible church alone to fix the true sense of
prophecies, for the Jews have always maintained, with their usual
obstinacy, that no prophecy could regard Jesus Christ; and the Fathers
of the Church could not dispute with them with advantage, since, except
St. Ephrem, the great Origen, and St. Jerome, there was never any Father
of the Church who knew a word of Hebrew.

It is not until the ninth century that Raban the Moor, afterwards bishop
of Mayence, learned the Jewish language. His example was followed by
some others, and then they began disputing with the rabbi on the sense
of the prophecies.

Raban was astonished at the blasphemies which they uttered against our
Saviour; calling Him a bastard, impious son of Panther, and saying that
it is not permitted them to pray to God without cursing Jesus: "_Quod
nulla oratio posset apud Deum accepta esse nisi in ea Dominum nostrum
Jesum Christum maledicant. Confitentes eum esse impium et filium impii,
id est, nescio cujus æthnici quern nominant Panthera, a quo dicunt
matrem Domini adulteratam._"

These horrible profanations are found in several places in the "Talmud,"
in the books of Nizachon, in the dispute of Rittangel, in those of
Jechiel and Nachmanides, entitled the "Bulwark of Faith," and above all
in the abominable work of the Toldos Jeschut. It is particularly in the
"Bulwark of Faith" of the Rabbin Isaac, that they interpret all the
prophecies which announce Jesus Christ by applying them to other

We are there assured that the Trinity is not alluded to in any Hebrew
book, and that there is not found in them the slightest trace of our
holy religion. On the contrary, they point out a hundred passages,
which, according to them, assert that the Mosaic law should eternally

The famous passage which should confound the Jews, and make the
Christian religion triumph in the opinion of all our great theologians,
is that of Isaiah: "Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and
shall call his name Immanuel. Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may
know how to refuse the evil, and choose the good. For before the child
shall know how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that
thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings. And it shall come to
pass in that day, that the Lord shall whistle for the flies that are in
the brooks of Egypt, and for the bees that are in the land of Assyria.
In the same day shall the Lord shave with a razor that is hired,
namely, by them beyond the river, by the king of Assyria, the head and
the hair of the genitals, and he will also consume the beard.

"Moreover, the Lord said unto me, take thee a great roll, and write
in it with a man's pen concerning Maher-shalal-hash-baz. And I took
unto me faithful witnesses to record, Uriah the priest, and Zachariah
the son of Jeberechiah. And I went in unto the prophetess; and
she conceived and bare a son; then said the Lord to me, call his name
Maher-shalal-hash-baz. For before the child shall have knowledge to
cry my father and my mother, the riches of Damascus, and the spoil of
Samaria, shall be taken away before the king of Assyria."

The Rabbin Isaac affirms, with all the other doctors of his law, that
the Hebrew word "alma" sometimes signifies a virgin and sometimes a
married woman; that Ruth is called "alma" when she was a mother; that
even an adulteress is sometimes called "alma"; that nobody is meant here
but the wife of the prophet Isaiah; that her son was not called
Immanuel, but Maher-shalal-hash-baz; that when this son should eat honey
and butter, the two kings who besieged Jerusalem would be driven from
the country, etc.

Thus these blind interpreters of their own religion, and their own
language, combated with the Church, and obstinately maintained, that
this prophecy cannot in any manner regard Jesus Christ. We have a
thousand times refuted their explication in our modern languages. We
have employed force, gibbets, racks, and flames; yet they will not give

"He has borne our ills, he has sustained our griefs, and we have beheld
him afflicted with sores, stricken by God, and afflicted." However
striking this prediction may appear to us, these obstinate Jews say that
it has no relationship to Jesus Christ, and that it can only regard the
prophets who were persecuted for the sins of the people.

"And behold my servant shall prosper, shall be honored, and raised very
high." They say, further, that the foregoing passage regards not Jesus
Christ but David; that this king really did prosper, but that Jesus,
whom they deny, did not prosper. "Behold I will make a new pact with the
house of Israel, and with the house of Judah." They say that this
passage signifies not, according to the letter and the sense, anything
more than--I will renew my covenant with Judah and with Israel. However,
this pact has not been renewed; and they cannot make a worse bargain
than they have made. No matter, they are obstinate.

"But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands
of Judah, yet out of thee shall come forth a ruler in Israel; whose
goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting."

They dare to deny that this prophecy applies to Jesus Christ. They say
that it is evident that Micah speaks of some native captain of
Bethlehem, who shall gain some advantage in the war against the
Babylonians: for the moment after he speaks of the history of Babylon,
and of the seven captains who elected Darius. And if we demonstrate that
he treated of the Messiah, they still will not agree.

The Jews are grossly deceived in Judah, who should be a lion, and who
has only been an ass under the Persians, Alexander, the Seleucides,
Ptolemys, Romans, Arabs, and Turks.

They know not what is understood by the Shiloh, and by the rod, and the
thigh of Judah. The rod has been in Judæa but a very short time. They
say miserable things; but the Abbé Houteville says not much more with
his phrases, his neologism, and oratorical eloquence; a writer who
always puts words in the place of things, and who proposes very
difficult objections merely to reply to them by frothy discourse, or
idle words!

All this is, therefore, labor in vain; and when the French abbé would
make a still larger book, when he would add to the five or six thousand
volumes which we have on the subject, we shall only be more fatigued,
without advancing a single step.

We are, therefore, plunged in a chaos which it is impossible for the
weakness of the human mind to set in order. Once more, we have need of a
church which judges without appeal. For in fact, if a Chinese, a Tartar,
or an African, reduced to the misfortune of having only good sense, read
all these prophecies, it would be impossible for him to apply them to
Jesus Christ, the Jews, or to anyone else. He would be in astonishment
and uncertainty, would conceive nothing, and would not have a single
distinct idea. He could not take a step in this abyss without a guide.
With this guide, he arrives not only at the sanctuary of virtue, but at
good canon-ships, at large commanderies, opulent abbeys, the crosiered
and mitred abbots of which are called monseigneur by his monks and
peasants, and to bishoprics which give the title of prince. In a word,
he enjoys earth, and is sure of possessing heaven.


The prophet Jurieu was hissed; the prophets of the Cévennes were hanged
or racked; the prophets who went from Languedoc and Dauphiny to London
were put in the pillory; the Anabaptist prophets were condemned to
various modes and degrees of punishment; and the prophet Savonarola was
baked at Florence. If, in connection with these, we may advert to the
case of the genuine Jewish prophets, we shall perceive their destiny to
have been no less unfortunate; the greatest prophet among the Jews, St.
John the Baptist, was beheaded.

Zachariah is stated to have been assassinated; but, happily, this is not
absolutely proved. The prophet Jeddo, or Addo, who was sent to Bethel
under the injunction neither to eat nor drink, having unfortunately
tasted a morsel of bread, was devoured in his turn by a lion; and his
bones were found on the highway between the lion and his ass. Jonah was
swallowed by a fish. He did not, it is true, remain in the fish's
stomach more than three days and three nights; even this, however, was
passing threescore and twelve hours very uncomfortably.

Habakkuk was transported through the air, suspended by the hair of his
head, to Babylon; this was not a fatal or permanent calamity, certainly;
but it must have been an exceedingly uncomfortable method of travelling.
A man could not help suffering a great deal by being suspended by his
hair during a journey of three hundred miles. I certainly should have
preferred a pair of wings, or the mare Borak, or the Hippogriffe.

Micaiah, the son of Imla, saw the Lord seated on His throne, surrounded
by His army of celestial spirits; and the Lord having inquired who could
be found to go and deceive King Ahab, a demon volunteered for that
purpose, and was accordingly charged with the commission; and Micaiah,
on the part of the Lord, gave King Ahab an account of this celestial
adventure. He was rewarded for this communication by a tremendous blow
on his face from the hand of the prophet Zedekiah, and by being shut up
for some days in a dungeon. His punishment might undoubtedly have been
more severe; but still, it is unpleasant and painful enough for a man
who knows and feels himself divinely inspired to be knocked about in so
coarse and vulgar a manner, and confined in a damp and dirty hole of a

It is believed that King Amaziah had the teeth of the prophet Amos
pulled out to prevent him from speaking; not that a person without teeth
is absolutely incapable of speaking, as we see many toothless old ladies
as loquacious and chattering as ever; but a prophecy should be uttered
with great distinctness; and a toothless prophet is never listened to
with the respect due to his character.

Baruch experienced various persecutions. Ezekiel was stoned by the
companions of his slavery. It is not ascertained whether Jeremiah was
stoned or sawed asunder. Isaiah is considered as having been
incontestably sawed to death by order of Manasseh, king of Judah.

It cannot be denied, that the occupation of a prophet is exceedingly
irksome and dangerous. For one who, like Elijah, sets off on his tour
among the planets in a chariot of light, drawn by four white horses,
there are a hundred who travel on foot, and are obliged to beg their
subsistence from door to door. They may be compared to Homer, who, we
are told, was reduced to be a mendicant in the same seven cities which
afterwards sharply disputed with each other the honor of having given
him birth. His commentators have attributed to him an infinity of
allegories which he never even thought of; and prophets have frequently
had the like honor conferred upon them. I by no means deny that there
may have existed elsewhere persons possessed of a knowledge of the
future. It is only requisite for a man to work up his soul to a high
state of excitation, according to the doctrine of one of our doughty
modern philosophers, who speculates upon boring the earth through to the
Antipodes, and curing the sick by covering them all over with

The Jews possessed this faculty of exalting and exciting the soul to
such a degree that they saw every future event as clearly as possible;
only unfortunately, it is difficult to decide whether by Jerusalem they
always mean eternal life; whether Babylon means London or Paris;
whether, when they speak of a grand dinner, they really mean a fast, and
whether red wine means blood, and a red mantle faith, and a white mantle
charity. Indeed, the correct and complete understanding of the prophets
is the most arduous attainment of the human mind.

There is likewise a further difficulty with respect to the Jewish
prophets, which is, that many among them were Samaritan heretics. Hosea
was of the tribe of Issachar, which dwelt in the Samaritan territory,
and Elisha and Elijah were of the same tribe. But the objection is very
easily answered. We well know that "the wind bloweth where it listeth,"
and that grace lights on the most dry and barren, as well as on the most
fertile soil.


I was at the grate of the convent when Sister Fessue said to Sister
Confite: "Providence takes a visible care of me; you know how I love my
sparrow; he would have been dead if I had not said nine ave-marias to
obtain his cure. God has restored my sparrow to life; thanks to the Holy

A metaphysician said to her: "Sister, there is nothing so good as
ave-marias, especially when a girl pronounces them in Latin in the
suburbs of Paris; but I cannot believe that God has occupied Himself so
much with your sparrow, pretty as he is; I pray you to believe that He
has other matters to attend to. It is necessary for Him constantly to
superintend the course of sixteen planets and the rising of Saturn, in
the centre of which He has placed the sun, which is as large as a
million of our globes. He has also thousands and thousands of millions
of other suns, planets, and comets to govern. His immutable laws, and
His eternal arrangement, produce motion throughout nature; all is bound
to His throne by an infinite chain, of which no link can ever be put out
of place!" If certain ave-marias had caused the sparrow of Sister Fessue
to live an instant longer than it would naturally have lived, it would
have violated all the laws imposed from eternity by the Great Being; it
would have deranged the universe; a new world, a new God, and a new
order of existence would have been rendered unavoidable.

SISTER FESSUE.--What! do you think that God pays so little attention to
Sister Fessue?

METAPHYSICIAN.--I am sorry to inform you, that like myself you are but
an imperceptible link in the great chain; that your organs, those of
your sparrow, and my own, are destined to subsist a determinate number
of minutes in the suburbs of Paris.

SISTER FESSUE.--If so, I was predestined to say a certain number of

METAPHYSICIAN.--Yes; but they have not obliged the Deity to prolong the
life of your sparrow beyond his term. It has been so ordered, that in
this convent at a certain hour you should pronounce, like a parrot,
certain words in a certain language which you do not understand; that
this bird, produced like yourself by the irresistible action of general
laws, having been sick, should get better; that you should imagine that
you had cured it, and that we should hold together this conversation.

SISTER FESSUE.--Sir, this discourse savors of heresy. My confessor, the
reverend Father de Menou, will infer that you do not believe in

METAPHYSICIAN.--I believe in a general Providence, dear sister, which
has laid down from all eternity the law which governs all things, like
light from the sun; but I believe not that a particular Providence
changes the economy of the world for your sparrow or your cat.

SISTER FESSUE.--But suppose my confessor tells you, as he has told me,
that God changes His intentions every day in favor of the devout?

METAPHYSICIAN.--He would assert the greatest absurdity that a confessor
of girls could possibly utter to a being who thinks.

SISTER FESSUE.--My confessor absurd! Holy Virgin Mary!

METAPHYSICIAN.--I do not go so far as that. I only observe that he
cannot, by an enormously absurd assertion, justify the false principles
which he has instilled into you--possibly very adroitly--in order to
govern you.

SISTER FESSUE.--That observation merits reflection. I will think of it.


It is very singular that the Protestant churches agree in exclaiming
that purgatory was invented by the monks. It is true that they invented
the art of drawing money from the living by praying to God for the dead;
but purgatory existed before the monks.

It was Pope John XIV., say they, who, towards the middle of the tenth
century, instituted the feast of the dead. From that fact, however, I
only conclude that they were prayed for before; for if they then took
measures to pray for all, it is reasonable to believe that they had
previously prayed for some of them; in the same way as the feast of All
Saints was instituted, because the feast of many of them had been
previously celebrated. The difference between the feast of All Saints
and that of the dead, is, that in the first we invoke, and that in the
second we are invoked; in the former we commend ourselves to the
blessed, and in the second the unblessed commend themselves to us.

The most ignorant writers know, that this feast was first instituted at
Cluny, which was then a territory belonging to the German Empire. Is it
necessary to repeat, "that St. Odilon, abbot of Cluny, was accustomed to
deliver many souls from purgatory by his masses and his prayers; and
that one day a knight or a monk, returning from the holy land, was cast
by a tempest, on a small island, where he met with a hermit, who said to
him, that in that island existed enormous caverns of fire and flames, in
which the wicked were tormented; and that he often heard the devils
complain of the Abbot Odilon and his monks, who every day delivered some
soul or other; for which reason it was necessary to request Odilon to
continue his exertions, at once to increase the joy of the saints in
heaven and the grief of the demons in hell?"

It is thus that Father Gerard, the Jesuit, relates the affair in his
"Flower of the Saints," after Father Ribadeneira. Fleury differs a
little from this legend, but has substantively preserved it. This
revelation induced St. Odilon to institute in Cluny the feast of the
dead, which was then adopted by the Church.

Since this time, purgatory has brought much money to those who possess
the power of opening the gates. It was by virtue of this power that
English John, that great landlord, surnamed Lackland, by declaring
himself the liegeman of Pope Innocent III., and placing his kingdom
under submission, delivered the souls of his parents, who had been
excommunicated: "_Pro mortuo excommunico, pro quo supplicant

The Roman chancery had even its regular scale for the absolution of the
dead; there were many privileged altars in the fifteenth century, at
which every mass performed for six liards delivered a soul from
purgatory. Heretics could not ascend beyond the truth, that the apostles
had the right of unbinding all who were bound on earth, but not _under_
the earth; and many of them, like impious persons, doubted the power of
the keys. It is however to be remarked, that when the pope is inclined
to remit five or six hundred years of purgatory, he accords the grace
with full power: "_Pro potestate a Deo accepta concedit_."

_Of the Antiquity of Purgatory._

It is pretended that purgatory was, from time immemorial, known to the
famous Jewish people, and it is founded on the second book of the
Maccabees, which says expressly, "that there being found concealed in
the vestments of the Jews (at the battle of Adullam), things consecrated
to the idols of Jamma, it was manifest that on that account they had
perished; and having made a gathering of twelve thousand drachms of
silver, Judas, who thought religiously of the resurrection, sent them to
Jerusalem for the sins of the dead."

Having taken upon ourselves the task of relating the objections of the
heretics and infidels, for the purpose of confounding them by their own
opinions, we will detail here these objections to the twelve thousand
drachms transmitted by Judas; and to purgatory. They say: 1. That twelve
thousand drachms of silver was too much for Judas Maccabeus, who only
maintained a petty war of insurgency against a great king.

2. That they might send a present to Jerusalem for the sins of the dead,
in order to bring down the blessing of God on the survivors.

3. That the idea of a resurrection was not entertained among the Jews at
this time, it being ascertained that this doctrine was not discussed
among them until the time of Gamaliel, a little before the ministry of
Jesus Christ.

4. As the laws of the Jews included in the "Decalogue," Leviticus and
Deuteronomy, have not spoken of the immortality of the soul, nor of the
torments of hell, it was impossible that they should contain the
doctrine of purgatory.

5. Heretics and infidels make the greatest efforts to demonstrate in
their manner, that the books of the Maccabees are evidently apocryphal.
The following are their pretended proofs:

The Jews have never acknowledged the books of the Maccabees to be
canonical, why then should we acknowledge them? Origen declares formally
that the books of the Maccabees are to be rejected, and St. Jerome
regards them as unworthy of credit. The Council of Laodicea, held in
567, admits them not among the canonical books. The Athanasiuses, the
Cyrils, and the Hilarys, have also rejected them. The reasons for
treating the foregoing books as romances, and as very bad romances, are
as follows:

The ignorant author commences by a falsehood, known to be such by all
the world. He says: "Alexander called the young nobles, who had been
educated with him from their infancy, and parted his kingdom among them
while he still lived." So gross and absurd a lie could not issue from
the pen of a sacred and inspired writer.

The author of the Maccabees, in speaking of Antiochus Epiphanes, says:
"Antiochus marched towards Elymais, and wished to pillage it, but was
not able, because his intention was known to the inhabitants, who
assembled in order to give him battle, on which he departed with great
sadness, and returned to Babylon. Whilst he was still in Persia, he
learned that his army in Judæa had fled ... and he took to his bed and

The same writer himself, in another place, says quite the contrary; for
he relates that Antiochus Epiphanes was about to pillage Persepolis, and
not Elymais; that he fell from his chariot; that he was stricken with an
incurable wound; that he was devoured by worms; that he demanded pardon
of the god of the Jews; that he wished himself to be a Jew: it is there
where we find the celebrated versicle, which fanatics have applied so
frequently to their enemies; "_Orabet scelestus ille veniam quam non
erat consecuturus_." The wicked man demandeth a pardon, which he cannot
obtain. This passage is very Jewish; but it is not permitted to an
inspired writer to contradict himself so flagrantly.

This is not all: behold another contradiction, and another oversight.
The author makes Antiochus die in a third manner, so that there is quite
a choice. He remarks that this prince was stoned in the temple of
Nanneus; and those who would excuse the stupidity pretend that he here
speaks of Antiochus Eupator; but neither Epiphanes nor Eupator was

Moreover, this author says, that another Antiochus (the Great) was taken
by the Romans, and that they gave to Eumenes the Indies and Media. This
is about equal to saying that Francis I. made a prisoner of Henry VIII.,
and that he gave Turkey to the duke of Savoy. It is insulting the Holy
Ghost to imagine it capable of dictating so many disgusting absurdities.

The same author says, that the Romans conquered the Galatians; but they
did not conquer Galatia for more than a hundred years after. Thus the
unhappy story-teller did not write for more than a hundred years after
the time in which it was supposed that he wrote: and it is thus,
according to the infidels, with almost all the Jewish books.

The same author observes, that the Romans every year nominated a chief
of the senate. Behold a well-informed man, who did not even know that
Rome had two consuls! What reliance, say infidels, can be placed in
these rhapsodies and puerile tales, strung together without choice or
order by the most imbecile of men? How shameful to believe in them! and
the barbarity of persecuting sensible men, in order to force a belief of
miserable absurdities, for which they could not but entertain the most
sovereign contempt, is equal to that of cannibals.

Our answer is, that some mistakes which probably arose from the copyists
may not affect the fundamental truths of the remainder; that the Holy
Ghost inspired the author only, and not the copyists; that if the
Council of Laodicea rejected the Maccabees, they have been admitted by
the Council of Trent; that they are admitted by the Roman Church; and
consequently that we ought to receive them with due submission.

_Of the Origin of Purgatory._

It is certain that those who admitted of purgatory in the primitive
church were treated as heretics. The Simonians were condemned who
admitted the purgation of souls--_Psuken Kadaron._

St. Augustine has since condemned the followers of Origen who maintained
this doctrine. But the Simonians and the Origenists had taken their
purgatory from Virgil, Plato and the Egyptians. You will find it clearly
indicated in the sixth book of the "Æneid," as we have already remarked.
What is still more singular, Virgil describes souls suspended in air,
others burned, and others drowned:

                     _Aliæ panduntur inanes_
     _Suspensæ ad ventos: aliis sub gurgite vasto_
     _Infectum eluitur scelus, aut exuritur igni._
                               --Æneid, Book vi, 740-742.

     For this are various penances enjoined,
     And some are hung to bleach upon the wind;
     Some plunged in waters, others purged in fires,
     Till all the dregs are drained, and all the rust expires.

And what is more singular still, Pope Gregory, surnamed the great, not
only adopts this doctrine from Virgil, but in his theology introduces
many souls who arrive from purgatory after having been hanged or

Plato has spoken of purgatory in his "Phædon," and it is easy to
discover, by a perusal of "Hermes Trismegistus" that Plato borrowed from
the Egyptians all which he had not borrowed from Timæus of Locris.

All this is very recent, and of yesterday, in comparison with the
ancient Brahmins. The latter, it must be confessed, invented purgatory
in the same manner as they invented the revolt and fall of the genii or
celestial intelligences.

It is in their Shasta, or Shastabad, written three thousand years before
the vulgar era, that you, my dear reader, will discover the doctrine of
purgatory. The rebel angels, of whom the history was copied among the
Jews in the time of the rabbin Gamaliel, were condemned by the Eternal
and His Son, to a thousand years of purgatory, after which God pardoned
and made them men. This we have already said, dear reader, as also that
the Brahmins found eternal punishment too severe, as eternity never
concludes. The Brahmins thought like the Abbé Chaulieu, and called upon
the Lord to pardon them, if, impressed with His bounties, they could not
be brought to conceive that they would be punished so rigorously for
vain pleasures, which passed away like a dream:

     Pardonne alors, Seigneur, si, plein de tes bontés,
     Je n'ai pu concevoir que mes fragilités,
     Ni tous ces vains plaisirs que passent comme un songe,
     Pussent être l'objet de tes sévérités;
     Et si j'ai pu penser que tant des cruautés.
     Puniraient un peu trop la douceur d'un mensonge.
             --EPITRE SUR LA MORT, au Marquis de la Fare.


The abode of physicians is in large towns; there are scarcely any in
country places. Great towns contain rich patients; debauchery, excess at
the tables, and the passions, cause their maladies. Dumoulin, the
physician, who was in as much practice as any of his profession, said
when dying that he left two great physicians behind him--simple diet and
soft water.

In 1728, in the time of Law, the most famous of quacks of the first
class, another named Villars, confided to some friends, that his uncle,
who had lived to the age of nearly a hundred, and who was then killed by
an accident, had left him the secret of a water which could easily
prolong life to the age of one hundred and fifty, provided sobriety was
attended to. When a funeral passed, he affected to shrug up his
shoulders in pity: "Had the deceased," he exclaimed, "but drank my
water, he would not be where he is." His friends, to whom he generously
imparted it, and who attended a little to the regimen prescribed, found
themselves well, and cried it up. He then sold it for six francs the
bottle, and the sale was prodigious. It was the water of the Seine,
impregnated with a small quantity of nitre, and those who took it and
confined themselves a little to the regimen, but above all those who
were born with a good constitution, in a short time recovered perfect
health. He said to others: "It is your own fault if you are not
perfectly cured. You have been intemperate and incontinent, correct
yourself of these two vices, and you will live a hundred and fifty years
at least." Several did so, and the fortune of this good quack augmented
with his reputation. The enthusiastic Abbé de Pons ranked him much above
his namesake, Marshal Villars. "He caused the death of men," he
observed to him, "whereas you make men live."

It being at last discovered that the water of Villars was only river
water, people took no more of it, and resorted to other quacks in lieu
of him. It is certain that he did much good, and he can only be accused
of selling the Seine water too dear. He advised men to temperance, and
so far was superior to the apothecary Arnault, who amused Europe with
the farce of his specific against apoplexy, without recommending any

I knew a physician of London named Brown, who had practised at
Barbadoes. He had a sugar-house and negroes, and the latter stole from
him a considerable sum. He accordingly assembled his negroes together,
and thus addressed them: "My friends," said he to them, "the great
serpent has appeared to me during the night, and has informed me that
the thief has at this moment a paroquet's feather at the end of his
nose." The criminal instantly applied his hand to his nose. "It is thou
who hast robbed me," exclaimed the master; "the great serpent has just
informed me so;" and he recovered his money. This quackery is scarcely
condemnable, but then it is applicable only to negroes.

The first Scipio Africanus, a very different person from the physician
Brown, made his soldiers believe that he was inspired by the gods. This
grand charlatanism was in use for a long time. Was Scipio to be blamed
for assisting himself by the means of this pretension? He was possibly
the man who did most honor to the Roman republic; but why the gods
should inspire him has never been explained.

Numa did better: he civilized robbers, and swayed a senate composed of a
portion of them which was the most difficult to govern. If he had
proposed his laws to the assembled tribes, the assassins of his
predecessor would have started a thousand difficulties. He addressed
himself to the goddess Egeria, who favored him with pandects from
Jupiter; he was obeyed without a murmur, and reigned happily. His
instructions were sound, his charlatanism did good; but if some secret
enemy had discovered his knavery, and had said, "Let us exterminate an
impostor who prostitutes the names of the gods in order to deceive men,"
he would have run the risk of being sent to heaven like Romulus. It is
probable that Numa took his measures ably, and that he deceived the
Romans for their own benefit, by a policy adapted to the time, the
place, and the early manners of the people.

Mahomet was twenty times on the point of failure, but at length
succeeded with the Arabs of Medina, who believed him the intimate friend
of the angel Gabriel. If any one at present was to announce in
Constantinople that he was favored by the angel Raphael, who is superior
to Gabriel in dignity, and that he alone was to be believed, he would
be publicly empaled. Quacks should know their time.

Was there not a little quackery in Socrates with his familiar dæmon, and
the express declaration of Apollo, that he was the wisest of all men?
How can Rollin in his history reason from this oracle? Why not inform
youth that it was a pure imposition? Socrates chose his time ill: about
a hundred years before he might have governed Athens.

Every chief of a sect in philosophy has been a little of a quack; but
the greatest of all have been those who have aspired to govern. Cromwell
was the most terrible of all quacks, and appeared precisely at a time in
which he could succeed. Under Elizabeth he would have been hanged; under
Charles II., laughed at. Fortunately for himself he came at a time when
people were disgusted with kings: his son followed, when they were weary
of protectors.

_Of the Quackery of Sciences and of Literature._

The followers of science have never been able to dispense with quackery.
Each would have his opinions prevail; the subtle doctor would eclipse
the angelic doctor, and the profound doctor would reign alone. Everyone
erects his own system of physics, metaphysics, and scholastic theology;
and the question is, who will value his merchandise? You have dependants
who cry it up, fools who believe you, and protectors on whom to lean.
Can there be greater quackery than the substitution of words for things,
or than a wish to make others believe what we do not believe ourselves?

One establishes vortices of subtile matter, branched, globular, and
tubular; another, elements of matter which are not matter, and a
pre-established harmony which makes the clock of the body sound the
hour, when the needle of the clock of the soul is duly pointed. These
chimeras found partisans for many years, and when these ideas went out
of fashion, new pretenders to inspiration mounted upon the ambulatory
stage. They banished the germs of the world, asserted that the sea
produced mountains, and that men were formerly fishes.

How much quackery has always pervaded history: either by astonishing the
reader with prodigies, tickling the malignity of human nature with
satire, or by flattering the families of tyrants with infamous eulogies!

The unhappy class who write in order to live, are quacks of another
kind. A poor man who has no trade, and has had the misfortune to have
been at college, thinks that he knows how to write, and repairing to a
neighboring bookseller, demands employment. The bookseller knows that
most persons keeping houses are desirous of small libraries, and require
abridgments and new tables, orders an abridgment of the history of Rapin
Thoyras, or of the church; a collection of _bon mots_ from the
Menagiana, or a dictionary of great men, in which some obscure pedant
is placed by the side of Cicero, and a sonneteer of Italy as near as
possible to Virgil.

Another bookseller will order romances or the translation of romances.
If you have no invention, he will say to his workman: You can collect
adventures from the grand Cyrus, from Gusman d'Alfarache, from the
"Secret Memoirs of a Man of Quality" or of a "Woman of Quality"; and
from the total you will make a volume of four hundred pages.

Another bookseller gives ten years' newspapers and almanacs to a man of
genius, and says: You will make an abstract from all that, and in three
months bring it me under the name of a faithful "History of the Times,"
by M. le Chevalier ----, Lieutenant de Vaisseau, employed in the office
for foreign affairs.

Of this sort of books there are about fifty thousand in Europe, and the
labor still goes on like the secret for whitening the skin, blackening
the hair, and mixing up the universal remedy.


I knew in my infancy a canon of Péronne of the age of ninety-two years,
who had been educated by one of the most furious burghers of the
League--he always used to say, the late M. de Ravaillac. This canon had
preserved many curious manuscripts of the apostolic times, although they
did little honor to his party. The following is one of them, which he
bequeathed to my uncle:

_Dialogue of a Page of the Duke of Sully, and of Master Filesac, Doctor
of the Sorbonne, one of the two Confessors of Ravaillac._

MASTER FILESAC.--God be thanked, my dear page, Ravaillac has died like a
saint. I heard his confession; he repented of his sin, and determined no
more to fall into it. He wished to receive the holy sacrament, but it is
not the custom here as at Rome; his penitence will serve in lieu of it,
and it is certain that he is in paradise.

PAGE.--He in paradise, in the Garden of Eden, the monster!

MASTER FILESAC.--Yes, my fine lad, in that garden, or heaven, it is the
same thing.

PAGE.--I believe so; but he has taken a bad road to arrive there.

MASTER FILESAC.--You talk like a young Huguenot. Learn that what I say
to you partakes of faith. He possessed attrition, and attrition, joined
to the sacrament of confession, infallibly works out the salvation which
conducts straightway to paradise, where he is now praying to God for

PAGE.--I have no wish that he should address God on my account. Let him
go to the devil with his prayers and his attrition.

MASTER FILESAC.--At the bottom, he was a good soul; his zeal led him to
commit evil, but it was not with a bad intention. In all his
interrogatories, he replied that he assassinated the king only because
he was about to make war on the pope, and that he did so to serve God.
His sentiments were very Christian-like. He is saved, I tell you; he was
bound, and I have unbound him.

PAGE.--In good faith, the more I listen to you the more I regard you as
a man bound yourself. You excite horror in me.

MASTER FILESAC.--It is because that you are not yet in the right way;
but you will be one day. I have always said that you were not far from
the kingdom of heaven; but your time is not yet come.

PAGE.--And the time will never come in which I shall be made to believe
that you have sent Ravaillac to the kingdom of heaven.

MASTER FILESAC.--As soon as you shall be converted, which I hope will be
the case, you will believe as I do; but in the meantime, be assured that
you and the duke of Sully, your master, will be damned to all eternity
with Judas Iscariot and the wicked rich man Dives, while Ravaillac will
repose in the bosom of Abraham.

PAGE.--How, scoundrel!

MASTER FILESAC.--No abuse, my little son. It is forbidden to call our
brother "_raca_," under the penalty of the _gehenna_ or hell fire.
Permit me to instruct without enraging you.

PAGE.--Go on; thou appearest to me so "_raca_," that I will be angry no

MASTER FILESAC.--I therefore say to you, that agreeably to faith you
will be damned, as unhappily our dear Henry IV. is already, as the
Sorbonne always foresaw.

PAGE.--My dear master damned! Listen to the wicked wretch! A cane! a

MASTER FILESAC.--Be patient, good young man; you promised to listen to
me quietly. Is it not true that the great Henry died without confession?
Is it not true that he died in the commission of mortal sin, being still
amorous of the princess of Condé, and that he had not time to receive
the sacrament of repentance, God having allowed him to be stabbed in the
left ventricle of the heart, in consequence of which he was instantly
suffocated with his own blood? You will absolutely find no good Catholic
who will not say the same as I do.

PAGE.--Hold thy tongue, master madman; if I thought that thy doctors
taught a doctrine so abominable, I would burn them in their lodgings.

MASTER FILESAC.--Once again, be calm; you have promised to be so. His
lordship the marquis of Cochini, who is a good Catholic, will know how
to prevent you from being guilty of the sacrilege of injuring my

PAGE.--But conscientiously, Master Filesac, does thy party really think
in this manner?

MASTER FILESAC.--Be assured of it; it is our catechism.

PAGE.--Listen; for I must confess to thee, that one of thy Sorbonnists
almost seduced me last year. He induced me to hope for a pension or a
benefice. Since the king, he observed, has heard mass in Latin, you who
are only a petty gentleman may also attend it without derogation. God
takes care of His elect, giving them mitres, crosses, and prodigious
sums of money, while you of the reformed doctrine go on foot, and can do
nothing but write. I own I was staggered; but after what thou hast just
said to me, I would rather a thousand times be a Mahometan than of thy

The page was wrong. We are not to become Mahometans because we are
incensed; but we must pardon a feeling young man who loved Henry IV.
Master Filesac spoke according to his theology; the page attended to his


At the time that all France was carried away by the system of Law, and
when he was comptroller-general, a man who was always in the right came
to him one day and said:

"Sir, you are the greatest madman, the greatest fool, or the greatest
rogue, who has yet appeared among us. It is saying a great deal; but
behold how I prove it. You have imagined that we may increase the riches
of a state ten-fold by means of paper. But this paper only represents
money, which is itself only a representative of genuine riches, the
production of the earth and manufacture. It follows, therefore, that you
should have commenced by giving us ten times as much corn, wine, cloth,
linen, etc.; this is not enough, they must be certain of sale. Now you
make ten times as many notes as we have money and commodities; ergo, you
are ten times more insane, stupid, or roguish, than all the comptrollers
or superintendents who have preceded you. Behold how rapidly I will
prove my major."

Scarcely had he commenced his major than he was conducted to St.
Lazarus. When he came out of St. Lazarus, where he studied much and
strengthened his reason, he went to Rome. He demanded a public audience,
and that he should not be interrupted in his harangue. He addressed his
holiness as follows:

"Holy father, you are Antichrist, and behold how I will prove it to your
holiness. I call him ante-Christ or antichrist, according to the meaning
of the word, who does everything contrary to that which Christ
commanded. Now Christ was poor, and you are very rich. He paid tribute,
and you exact it. He submitted himself to the powers that be, and you
have become one of them. He wandered on foot, and you visit Castle
Gandolfo in a sumptuous carriage. He ate of all that which people were
willing to give him, and you would have us eat fish on Fridays and
Saturdays, even when we reside at a distance from the seas and rivers.
He forbade Simon Barjonas using the sword, and you have many swords in
your service, etc. In this sense, therefore, your holiness is
Antichrist. In every other sense I exceedingly revere you, and request
an indulgence '_in articulo mortis_.'"

My free speaker was immediately confined in the castle of St. Angelo.
When he came out of the castle of St. Angelo, he proceeded to Venice,
and demanded an audience of the doge. "Your serenity," he exclaimed,
"commits a great extravagance every year in marrying the sea; for, in
the first place, people marry only once with the same person; secondly,
your marriage resembles that of Harlequin, which was only half
performed, as wanting the consent of one of the parties; thirdly, who
has told you that, some day or other, the other maritime powers will not
declare you incapable of consummating your marriage?"

Having thus delivered his mind, he was shut up in the tower of St. Mark.
When he came out of the tower of St. Mark, he proceeded to
Constantinople, where he obtained an interview with the mufti, and thus
addressed him: "Your religion contains some good points, such as the
adoration of the Supreme Being, and the necessity of being just and
charitable; nevertheless, it is a mere hash composed out of Judaism and
a wearisome heap of stories from Mother Goose. If the archangel Gabriel
had brought from some planet the leaves of the Koran to Mahomet, all
Arabia would have beheld his descent. Nobody saw him, therefore Mahomet
was a bold impostor, who deceived weak and ignorant people."

He had scarcely pronounced these words before he was empaled;
nevertheless, he had been all along in the right.


By this name are designated the remains or remaining parts of the body,
or clothes, of a person placed after his death by the Church in the
number of the blessed.

It is clear that Jesus condemned only the hypocrisy of the Jews, in
saying: "Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye
build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the
righteous." Thus orthodox Christians have an equal veneration for the
relics and images of saints, and I know not what. Doctor Henry ventures
to say that when bones or other relics are changed into worms, we must
not adore these worms; the Jesuit Vasquez decided that the opinion of
Henry is absurd and vain, for it signifies not in what manner corruption
takes place; "consequently," says he, "we can adore relics as much under
the form of worms as under that of ashes."

However this may be, St. Cyril of Alexandria avows that the origin of
relics is Pagan; and this is the description given of their worship by
Theodoret, who lived in the commencement of the Christian era: "They
run to the temples of martyrs," says this learned bishop, "some to
demand the preservation of their health, others the cure of their
maladies; and barren women for fruitfulness. After obtaining children,
these women ask the preservation of them. Those who undertake voyages,
pray the martyrs to accompany and conduct them; and on their return they
testify to them their gratitude. They adore them not as gods, but they
honor them as divine men; and conjure them to become their intercessors.

"The offerings which are displayed in their temples are public proofs
that those who have demanded with faith, have obtained the
accomplishment of their vows and the cure of their disorders. Some hang
up artificial eyes, others feet, and others hands of gold and silver.
These monuments publish the virtue of those who are buried in these
tombs, as their influence publishes that the god for whom they suffered
is the true God. Thus Christians take care to give their children the
names of martyrs, that they may be insured their protection."

Finally, Theodoret adds, that the temples of the gods were demolished,
and that the materials served for the construction of the temples of
martyrs: "For the Lord," said he to the Pagans, "has substituted his
dead for your gods; He has shown the vanity of the latter, and
transferred to others the honors paid to them." It is of this that the
famous sophist of Sardis complains bitterly in deploring the ruin of
the temple of Serapis at Canopus, which was demolished by order of the
emperor Theodosius I. in the year 389.

"People," says Eunapius, "who had never heard of war, were, however,
very valiant against the stones of this temple; and principally against
the rich offerings with which it was filled. These holy places were
given to monks, an infamous and useless class of people, who provided
they wear a black and slovenly dress, hold a tyrannical authority over
the minds of the people; and instead of the gods whom we acknowledge
through the lights of reason, these monks give us heads of criminals,
punished for their crimes, to adore, which they have salted in order to
preserve them."

The people are superstitious, and it is superstition which enchains
them. The miracles forged on the subject of relics became a loadstone
which attracted from all parts riches to the churches. Stupidity and
credulity were carried so far that, in the year 386, the same Theodosius
was obliged to make a law by which he forbade buried corpses to be
transported from one place to another, or the relics of any martyr to be
separated and sold.

During the first three ages of Christianity they were contented with
celebrating the day of the death of martyrs, which they called their
natal day, by assembling in the cemeteries where their bodies lay, to
pray for them, as we have remarked in the article on "Mass." They
dreamed not then of a time in which Christians would raise temples to
them, transport their ashes and bones from one place to another, show
them in shrines, and finally make a traffic of them; which excited
avarice to fill the world with false relics.

But the Third Council of Carthage, held in the year 397, having inserted
in the Scriptures the Apocalypse of St. John, the authenticity of which
was till then contested, this passage of chapter vi., "I saw under the
altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God"--authorized
the custom of having relics of martyrs under the altars; and this
practice was soon regarded so essential that St. Ambrose,
notwithstanding the wishes of the people, would not consecrate a church
where there were none; and in 692, the Council of Constantinople, in
Trullo, even ordered all the altars to be demolished under which it
found no relics.

Another Council of Carthage, on the contrary, in the year 401, ordered
bishops to build altars which might be seen everywhere, in fields and on
high roads, in honor of martyrs; from which were here and there dug
pretended relics, on dreams and vain revelations of all sorts of people.

St. Augustine relates that towards the year 415, Lucian, the priest of a
town called Caphargamata, some miles distant from Jerusalem, three times
saw in a dream the learned Gamaliel, who declared to him that his body,
that of Abibas his son, of St. Stephen, and Nicodemus, were buried in a
part of his parish which he pointed out to him. He commanded him, on
their part and his own, to leave them no longer neglected in the tomb in
which they had been for some ages, but to go and tell John, bishop of
Jerusalem, to come and dig them up immediately, if he would prevent the
ills with which the world was threatened. Gamaliel added that this
translation must be made in the episcopacy of John, who died about a
year after. The order of heaven was that the body of St. Stephen should
be transported to Jerusalem.

Either Lucian did not clearly understand, or he was unfortunate--he dug
and found nothing; which obliged the learned Jew to appear to a very
simple and innocent monk, and indicate to him more precisely the place
where the sacred relics lay. Lucian there found the treasure which he
sought, according as God had revealed it unto him. In this tomb there
was a stone on which was engraved the word "_cheliel_," which signifies
"crown" in Hebrew, as "_stephanos_" does in Greek. On the opening of
Stephen's coffin the earth trembled, a delightful odor issued, and a
great number of sick were cured. The body of the saint was reduced to
ashes, except the bones, which were transported to Jerusalem, and placed
in the church of Sion. At the same hour there fell a great rain, until
which they had had a great drouth.

Avitus, a Spanish priest who was then in the East, translated into Latin
this story, which Lucian wrote in Greek. As the Spaniard was the friend
of Lucian, he obtained a small portion of the ashes of the saint, some
bones full of an oil which was a visible proof of their holiness,
surpassing newly-made perfumes, and the most agreeable odors. These
relics, brought by Orosius into the island of Minorca, in eight days
converted five hundred and forty Jews.

They were afterwards informed by divers visions that some monks of Egypt
had relics of St. Stephen which strangers had brought there. As the
monks, not then being priests, had no churches of their own, they took
this treasure to transport it to a church which was near Usala. Above
the church some persons soon saw a star which seemed to come before the
holy martyr. These relics did not remain long in this church; the bishop
of Usala, finding it convenient to enrich his own, transported them,
seated on a car, accompanied by a crowd of people, who sang the praises
of God, attended by a great number of lights and tapers.

In this manner the relics were borne to an elevated place in the church
and placed on a throne ornamented with hangings. They were afterwards
put on a little bed in a place which was locked up, but to which a
little window was left, that cloths might be touched, which cured
several disorders. A little dust collected on the shrine suddenly cured
one that was paralytic. Flowers which had been presented to the saint,
applied to the eyes of a blind man, gave him sight. There were even
seven or eight corpses restored to life.

St. Augustine, who endeavors to justify this worship by distinguishing
it from that of adoration, which is due to God alone, is obliged to
agree that he himself knew several Christians who adored sepulchres and
images. "I know several who drink to great excess on the tombs, and who,
in giving entertainments to the dead, fell themselves on those who were

Indeed, turning fresh from Paganism, and charmed to find deified men in
the Christian church, though under other names, the people honored them
as much as they had honored their false gods; and it would be grossly
deceiving ourselves to judge of the ideas and practices of the populace
by those of enlightened and philosophic bishops. We know that the sages
among the Pagans made the same distinctions as our holy bishops. "We
must," said Hierocles, "acknowledge and serve the gods so as to take
great care to distinguish them from the supreme God, who is their author
and father. We must not too greatly exalt their dignity. And finally the
worship which we give them should relate to their sole creator, whom you
may properly call the God of gods, because He is the Master of all, and
the most excellent of all." Porphyrius, who, like St. Paul, terms the
supreme God, the God who is above all things, adds that we must not
sacrifice to Him anything that is sensible or material, because, being
a pure Spirit, everything material is impure to Him. He can only be
worthily honored by the thoughts and sentiments of a soul which is not
tainted with any sinful passion.

In a word, St. Augustine, in declaring with _naïveté_ that he dared not
speak freely on several similar abuses on account of giving opportunity
for scandal to pious persons or to pedants, shows that the bishops made
use of the artifice to convert the Pagans, as St. Gregory recommended
two centuries after to convert England. This pope, being consulted by
the monk Augustine on some remains of ceremonies, half civil and half
Pagan, which the newly converted English would not renounce, answered,
"We cannot divest hard minds of all their habits at once; we reach not
to the top of a steep rock by leaping, but by climbing step by step."

The reply of the same pope to Constantina, the daughter of the emperor
Tiberius Constantine, and the wife of Maurice, who demanded of him the
head of St. Paul, to place in a temple which she had built in honor of
this apostle, is no less remarkable. St. Gregory sent word to the
princess that the bodies of saints shone with so many miracles that they
dared not even approach their tombs to pray without being seized with
fear. That his predecessor (Pelagius II.) wishing to remove some silver
from the tomb of St. Peter to another place four feet distant, he
appeared to him with frightful signs. That he (Gregory) wishing to make
some repairs in the monument of St. Paul, as it had sunk a little in
front, and he who had the care of the place having had the boldness to
raise some bones which touched not the tomb of the apostle, to transport
them elsewhere, he appeared to him also in a terrible manner, and he
died immediately. That his predecessor also wishing to repair the tomb
of St. Lawrence, the shroud which encircled the body of the martyr was
imprudently discovered; and although the laborers were monks and
officers of the church, they all died in the space of ten days because
they had seen the body of the saint. That when the Romans gave relics,
they never touched the sacred bodies, but contented themselves with
putting some cloths, with which they approached them, in a box. That
these cloths have the same virtue as relics, and perform as many
miracles. That certain Greeks, doubting of this fact, Pope Leo took a
pair of scissors, and in their presence cutting some of the cloth which
had approached the holy bodies, blood came from it. That in the west of
Rome it is a sacrilege to touch the bodies of saints; and that if any
one attempts, he may be assured that his crime will not go unpunished.
For which reason the Greeks cannot be persuaded to adopt the custom of
transporting relics. That some Greeks daring to disinter some bodies in
the night near the church of St. Paul, intending to transport them into
their own country, were discovered, which persuaded them that the relics
were false. That the easterns, pretending that the bodies of St. Peter
and St. Paul belonged to them, came to Rome to take them to their own
country; but arriving at the catacombs where these bodies repose, when
they would have taken them, sudden lightning and terrible thunder
dispersed the alarmed multitude and forced them to renounce their
undertaking. That those who suggested to Constantina the demand of the
head of St. Paul from him, had no other design than that of making him
lose his favor. St. Gregory concludes with these words: "I have that
confidence in God, that you will not be deprived of the fruit of your
good will, nor of the virtue of the holy apostles, whom you love with
all your heart and with all your mind; and that, if you have not their
corporeal presence, you will always enjoy their protection."

Yet the ecclesiastical history pretends that the translation of relics
was equally frequent in the East and West; and the author of the notes
to this letter further observes that the same St. Gregory afterwards
gave several holy bodies, and that other popes have given so many as six
or seven to one individual.

After this, can we be astonished at the favor which relics find in the
minds of people and kings? The sermons most commonly preached among the
ancient French were composed on the relics of saints. It was thus that
the kings Gontran, Sigebert, and Chilperic divided the states of
Clotaire, and agreed to possess Paris in common. They made oath on the
relics of St. Polyeuctus, St. Hilary, and St. Martin. Yet Chilperic
possessed himself of the place and merely took the precaution of having
a shrine, with a quantity of relics, which he had carried as a safeguard
at the head of his troops, in hopes that the protection of these new
patrons would shelter him from the punishment due to his perjury.
Finally, the catechism of the Council of Trent approved of the custom of
swearing by relics.

It is further observed that the kings of France of the first and second
races kept in their palaces a great number of relics; above all, the cap
and mantle of St. Martin; and that they had them carried in their trains
and in their armies. These relics were sent from the palaces to the
provinces when an oath of fidelity was made to the king, or any treaty
was concluded.



The Epicureans, who had no religion, recommended retirement from public
affairs, study, and concord. This sect was a society of friends, for
friendship was their principal dogma. Atticus, Lucretius, Memmius, and a
few other such men, might live very reputably together; this we see in
all countries; philosophize as much as you please among yourselves. A
set of amateurs may give a concert of refined and scientific music; but
let them beware of performing such a concert before the ignorant and
brutal vulgar, lest their instruments be broken over their heads. If you
have but a village to govern, it _must_ have a religion.

I speak not here of an error; but of the only good, the only necessary,
the only proved, and the second revealed.

Had it been possible for the human mind to have admitted a religion--I
will not say at all approaching ours--but not so bad as all the other
religions in the world--what would that religion have been?

Would it not have been that which should propose to us the adoration of
the supreme, only, infinite, eternal Being, the former of the world, who
gives it motion and life, "_cui nec simile, nec secundum_"? That which
should re-unite us to this Being of beings, as the reward of our
virtues, and separate us from Him, as the chastisement of our crimes?

That which should admit very few of the dogmas invented by unreasoning
pride; those eternal subjects of disputation; and should teach a pure
morality, about which there should never be any dispute?

That which should not make the essence of worship consist in vain
ceremonies, as that of spitting into your mouth, or that of taking from
you one end of your prepuce, or of depriving you of one of your
testicles--seeing that a man may fulfil all the social duties with two
testicles and an entire foreskin, and without another's spitting into
his mouth?

That of serving one's neighbor for the love of God, instead of
persecuting and butchering him in God's name? That which should tolerate
all others, and which, meriting thus the goodwill of all, should alone
be capable of making mankind a nation of brethren?

That which should have august ceremonies, to strike the vulgar, without
having mysteries to disgust the wise and irritate the incredulous?

That which should offer men more encouragements to the social virtues
than expiations for social crimes?

That which should insure to its ministers a revenue large enough for
their decent maintenance, but should never allow them to usurp dignities
and power that might make them tyrants?

That which should establish commodious retreats for sickness and old
age, but never for idleness?

A great part of this religion is already in the hearts of several
princes; and it will prevail when the articles of perpetual peace,
proposed by the abbé de St. Pierre, shall be signed by all potentates.


Last night I was meditating; I was absorbed in the contemplation of
nature, admiring the immensity, the courses, the relations of those
infinite globes, which are above the admiration of the vulgar.

I admired still more the intelligence that presides over this vast
machinery. I said to myself: A man must be blind not to be impressed by
this spectacle; he must be stupid not to recognize its author; he must
be mad not to adore him. What tribute of adoration ought I to render
him? Should not this tribute be the same throughout the extent of space,
since the same Supreme Power reigns equally in all that extent?

Does not a thinking being, inhabiting a star of the Milky Way, owe him
the same homage as the thinking being on this little globe where we are?
Light is the same to the dog-star as to us; morality, too, must be the

If a feeling and thinking being in the dog-star is born of a tender
father and mother, who have labored for his welfare, he owes them as
much love and duty as we here owe to our parents. If any one in the
Milky Way sees another lame and indigent, and does not relieve him,
though able to do it, he is guilty in the sight of every globe.

The heart has everywhere the same duties; on the steps of the throne of
God, if He has a throne, and at the bottom of the great abyss, if there
be an abyss.

I was wrapt in these reflections, when one of those genii who fill the
spaces between worlds, came down to me. I recognized the same aerial
creature that had formerly appeared to me, to inform me that the
judgments of God are different from ours, and how much a good action is
preferable to controversy.

He transported me into a desert covered all over with bones piled one
upon another; and between these heaps of dead there were avenues of
evergreen trees, and at the end of each avenue a tall man of august
aspect gazing with compassion on these sad remains.

"Alas! my archangel," said I, "whither have you brought me?" "To
desolation," answered he. "And who are those fine old patriarchs whom I
see motionless and melancholy at the end of those green avenues, and who
seem to weep over this immense multitude of dead?" "Poor human creature!
thou shalt know," replied the genius; "but, first, thou must weep."

He began with the first heap. "These," said he, "are the twenty-three
thousand Jews who danced before a calf, together with the twenty-four
thousand who were slain while ravishing Midianitish women; the number of
the slaughtered for similar offences or mistakes amounts to nearly three
hundred thousand.

"At the following avenues are the bones of Christians, butchered by one
another on account of metaphysical disputes. They are divided into
several piles of four centuries each; it was necessary to separate them;
for had they been all together, they would have reached the sky."

"What!" exclaimed I, "have brethren thus treated their brethren; and
have I the misfortune to be one of this brotherhood?"

[Illustration: Genius inspiring the muses.]

"Here," said the spirit, "are twelve millions of Americans slain in
their own country for not having been baptized." "Ah! My God! why were
not these frightful skeletons left to whiten in the hemisphere where the
bodies were born, and where they were murdered in so many various ways?
Why are all these abominable monuments of barbarity and fanaticism
assembled here?" "For thy instruction."

"Since thou art willing to instruct me," said I to the genius, "tell me
if there be any other people than the Christians and the Jews, whom zeal
and religion, unhappily turned into fanaticism, have prompted to so many
horrible cruelties?" "Yes," said he; "the Mahometans have been stained
by the same inhuman acts, but rarely; and when their victims have cried
out '_amman_!' (mercy!) and have offered them tribute, they have
pardoned them. As for other nations, not one of them, since the
beginning of the world, has ever made a purely religious war. Now,
follow me!" I followed.

A little beyond these heaps of dead we found other heaps; there were
bags of gold and silver; and each pile had its label: "Substance of the
heretics massacred in the eighteenth century, in the seventeenth, in the
sixteenth," and so on. "Gold and silver of the slaughtered Americans,"
etc.; and all these piles were surmounted by crosses, mitres, crosiers,
and tiaras, enriched with jewels.

"What! my genius, was it then to possess these riches that these
carcasses were accumulated?"

"Yes, my son."

I shed tears; and when by my grief I had merited to be taken to the end
of the green avenues, he conducted me thither.

"Contemplate," said he, "the heroes of humanity who have been the
benefactors of the earth, and who united to banish from the world, as
far as they were able, violence and rapine. Question them."

I went up to the first of this band; on his head was a crown, and in his
hand a small censer. I humbly asked him his name. "I," said he, "am Numa
Pompilius; I succeeded a robber, and had robbers to govern; I taught
them virtue and the worship of God; after me they repeatedly forgot
both. I forbade any image to be placed in the temples, because the
divinity who animates nature cannot be represented. During my reign the
Romans had neither wars nor seditions; and my religion did nothing but
good. Every neighboring people came to honor my funeral, which has
happened to me alone...."

I made my obeisance and passed on to the second. This was a fine old
man, of about a hundred, clad in a white robe; his middle finger was
placed on his lip, and with the other hand he was scattering beans
behind him. In him I recognized Pythagoras. He assured me that he had
never had a golden thigh, and that he had never been a cock, but that he
had governed the Crotonians with as much justice as Numa had governed
the Romans about the same time, which justice was the most necessary and
the rarest thing in the world. I learned that the Pythagoreans examined
their consciences twice a day. What good people! and how far are we
behind them! Yet we, who for thirteen hundred years have been nothing
but assassins, assert that these wise men were proud.

To please Pythagoras I said not a word to him, but went on to Zoroaster,
who was engaged in concentrating the celestial fire in the focus of a
concave mirror, in the centre of a vestibule with a hundred gates, each
one leading to wisdom. On the principal of these gates I read these
words, which are the abstract of all morality, and cut short all the
disputes of the casuists: "When thou art in doubt whether an action is
good or bad, abstain from it."

"Certainly," said I to my genius, "the barbarians who immolated all the
victims whose bones I have seen had not read these fine words."

Then we saw Zaleucus, Thales, Anaximander, and all the other sages who
had sought truth and practised virtue.

When we came to Socrates I quickly recognized him by his broken nose.
"Well," said I, "you then are among the confidants of the Most High! All
the inhabitants of Europe, excepting the Turks and the Crim Tartars, who
know nothing, pronounce your name with reverence. So much is that great
name venerated, so much is it loved, that it has been sought to
discover those of your persecutors. Melitus and Anitus are known because
of you, as Ravaillac is known because of Henry IV.; but of Anitus I know
only the name. I know not precisely who that villain was by whom you
were calumniated, and who succeeded in procuring your condemnation to
the hemlock."

"I have never thought of that man since my adventure," answered
Socrates; "but now that you put me in mind of him, I pity him much. He
was a wicked priest, who secretly carried on a trade in leather, a
traffic reputed shameful amongst us. He sent his two children to my
school; the other disciples reproached them with their father's being a
currier, and they were obliged to quit. The incensed father was
unceasing in his endeavors until he had stirred up against me all the
priests and all the sophists. They persuaded the council of the five
hundred that I was an impious man, who did not believe that the moon,
Mercury, and Mars were deities. I thought indeed, as I do now, that
there is but one God, the master of all nature. The judges gave me up to
the republic's poisoner, and he shortened my life a few days. I died
with tranquillity at the age of seventy years, and since then I have led
a happy life with all these great men whom you see, and of whom I am the

After enjoying the conversation of Socrates for some time, I advanced
with my guide into a bower, situated above the groves, where all these
sages of antiquity seemed to be tasting the sweets of repose.

Here I beheld a man of mild and simple mien, who appeared to me to be
about thirty-five years old. He was looking with compassion upon the
distant heaps of whitened skeletons through which I had been led to the
abode of the sages. I was astonished to find his feet swelled and
bloody, his hands in the same state, his side pierced, and his ribs laid
bare by flogging. "Good God!" said I, "is it possible that one of the
just and wise should be in this state? I have just seen one who was
treated in a very odious manner; but there is no comparison between his
punishment and yours. Bad priests and bad judges poisoned him. Was it
also by priests and judges that you were so cruelly assassinated?"

With great affability he answered--"Yes."

"And who were those monsters?"

"They were hypocrites."

"Ah! you have said all! by that one word I understand that they would
condemn you to the worst of punishments. You then had proved to them,
like Socrates, that the moon was not a goddess, and that Mercury was not
a god?"

"No; those planets were quite out of the question. My countrymen did not
even know what a planet was; they were all arrant ignoramuses. Their
superstitions were quite different from those of the Greeks."

"Then you wished to teach them a new religion?"

"Not at all; I simply said to them--'Love God with all your hearts, and
your neighbor as yourselves; for that is all.' Judge whether this
precept is not as old as the universe; judge whether I brought them a
new worship. I constantly told them that I was come, not to abolish
their law, but to fulfil it; I had observed all their rites; I was
circumcised as they all were; I was baptized like the most zealous of
them; like them I paid the corban; like them I kept the Passover; and
ate, standing, lamb cooked with lettuce. I and my friends went to pray
in their temple; my friends, too, frequented the temple after my death.
In short, I fulfilled all their laws without one exception."

"What! could not these wretches even reproach you with having departed
from their laws?"

"Certainly not."

"Why, then, did they put you in the state in which I now see you?"

"Must I tell you?--They were proud and selfish; they saw that I knew
them; they saw that I was making them known to the citizens; they were
the strongest; they took away my life; and such as they will always do
the same, if they can, to whoever shall have done them too much

"But did you say nothing; did you do nothing, that could serve them as a

"The wicked find a pretext in everything."

"Did you not once tell them that you were come to bring, not peace, but
the sword?"

"This was an error of some scribe. I told them that I brought, not the
sword, but peace. I never wrote anything; what I said might be miscopied
without any ill intent."

"You did not then contribute in anything, by your discourses, either
badly rendered or badly interpreted, to those frightful masses of bones
which I passed on my way to consult you?"

"I looked with horror on those who were guilty of all these murders."

"And those monuments of power and wealth--of pride and avarice--those
treasures, those ornaments, those ensigns of greatness, which, when
seeking wisdom, I saw accumulated on the way--do they proceed from you?"

"It is impossible; I and mine lived in poverty and lowliness; my
greatness was only in virtue."

I was on the point of begging of him to have the goodness just to tell
me who he was; but my guide warned me to refrain. He told me that I was
not formed for comprehending these sublime mysteries. I conjured him to
tell me only in what true religion consisted.

"Have I not told you already?--Love God and your neighbor as yourself."

"What! Can we love God and yet eat meat on a Friday?"

"I always ate what was given me; for I was too poor to give a dinner to
any one."

"Might we love God and be just, and still be prudent enough not to
intrust all the adventures of one's life to a person one does not know?"

"Such was always my custom."

"Might not I, while doing good, be excused from making a pilgrimage to
St. James of Compostello?"

"I never was in that country."

"Should I confine myself in a place of retirement With blockheads?"

"For my part, I always made little journeys from town to town."

"Must I take part with the Greek or with the Latin Church?"

"When I was in the world, I never made any difference between the Jew
and the Samaritan."

"Well, if it be so, I take you for my only master."

Then he gave me a nod, which filled me with consolation. The vision
disappeared, and I was left with a good conscience.


_Questions on Religion._


Warburton, bishop of Gloucester, author of one of the most learned works
ever written, thus expresses himself ("Divine Legation of Moses," i.,
8): "A religion, a society, which is not founded on the belief of a
future state, must be supported by an extraordinary Providence. Judaism
is not founded on the belief of a future state; therefore, Judaism was
supported by an extraordinary Providence."

Many theologians rose up against him; and, as all arguments are
retorted, so was his retorted upon himself; he was told:

"Every religion which is not founded on the dogma of the immortality of
the soul, and on everlasting rewards and punishments, is necessarily
false. Now these dogmas were unknown to the Jews; therefore Judaism, far
from being supported by Providence, was, on your own principles, a false
and barbarous religion by which Providence was attacked."

This bishop had some other adversaries, who maintained against him that
the immortality of the soul was known to the Jews even in the time of
Moses; but he proved to them very clearly that neither the Decalogue,
nor Leviticus, nor Deuteronomy, had said one word of such a belief; and
that it is ridiculous to strive to distort and corrupt some passages of
other books, in order to draw from them a truth which is not announced
in the book of the law.

The bishop, having written four volumes to demonstrate that the Jewish
law proposed neither pains nor rewards after death, has never been able
to answer his adversaries in a very satisfactory manner. They said to
him: "Either Moses knew this dogma, and so deceived the Jews by not
communicating it, or he did not know it, in which case he did not know
enough to found a good religion. Indeed, if the religion had been good
why should it have been abolished? A true religion must be for all times
and all places; it must be as the light of the sun, enlightening all
nations and generations."

This prelate, enlightened as he is, has found it no easy task to
extricate himself from so many difficulties. But what system is free
from them?


Another man of learning, and a much greater philosopher, who is one of
the profoundest metaphysicians of the day, advances very strong
arguments to prove that polytheism was the primitive religion of
mankind, and that men began with believing in several gods before their
reason was sufficiently enlightened to acknowledge one only Supreme

On the contrary, I venture to believe that in the beginning they
acknowledged one only God, and that afterwards human weakness adopted
several. My conception of the matter is this:

It is indubitable that there were villages before large towns were
built, and that all men have been divided into petty commonwealths
before they were united in great empires. It is very natural that the
people of a village, being terrified by thunder, afflicted at the loss
of its harvests, ill-used by the inhabitants of a neighboring village,
feeling every day its own weakness, feeling everywhere an invisible
power, should soon have said: There is some Being above us who does us
good and harm.

It seems to me to be impossible that it should have said: There are two
powers; for why more than one? In all things we begin with the simple;
then comes the compound; and after, by superior light, we go back to the
simple again. Such is the march of the human mind!

But what is this being who is thus invoked at first? Is it the sun? Is
it the moon? I do not think so. Let us examine what passes in the minds
of children; they are nearly like those of uninformed men. They are
struck, neither by the beauty nor by the utility of the luminary which
animates nature, nor by the assistance lent us by the moon, nor by the
regular variations of her course; they think not of these things; they
are too much accustomed to them. We adore, we invoke, we seek to
appease, only that which we fear. All children look upon the sky with
indifference; but when the thunder growls they tremble and run to hide
themselves. The first men undoubtedly did likewise. It could only be a
sect of philosophers who first observed the courses of the planets, made
them admired, and caused them to be adored; mere tillers of the ground,
without any information, did not know enough of them to embrace so noble
an error.

A village then would confine itself to saying: There is a power which
thunders and hails upon us, which makes our children die; let us appease
it. But how shall we appease it? We see that by small presents we have
calmed the anger of irritated men; let us then make small presents to
this power. It must also receive a name. The first that presents itself
is that of "chief," "master," "lord." This power then is styled "My
Lord." For this reason perhaps it was that the first Egyptians called
their god "knef"; the Syrians, "Adonai"; the neighboring nations,
"Baal," or "Bel," or "Melch," or "Moloch"; the Scythians, "Papæus"; all
these names signifying "lord," "master."

Thus was nearly all America found to be divided into a multitude of
petty tribes, each having its protecting god. The Mexicans, too, and the
Peruvians, forming great nations, had only one god--the one adoring
Manco Capak, the other the god of war. The Mexicans called their warlike
divinity "_Huitzilipochtli_," as the Hebrews had called their Lord

It was not from a superior and cultivated reason that every people thus
began with acknowledging one only Divinity; had they been philosophers,
they would have adored the God of all nature, and not the god of a
village; they would have examined those infinite relations among all
things which prove a Being creating and preserving; but they examined
nothing--they felt. Such is the progress of our feeble understanding.
Each village would feel its weakness and its need of a protector; it
would imagine that tutelary and terrible being residing in the
neighboring forest, or on a mountain, or in a cloud. It would imagine
only one, because the clan had but one chief in war; it would imagine
that one corporeal, because it was impossible to represent it otherwise.
It could not believe that the neighboring tribe had not also its god.
Therefore it was that Jephthah said to the inhabitants of Moab: "You
possess lawfully what your god Chemoth has made you conquer; you should,
then, let us enjoy what our god has given us by his victories."

This language, used by one stranger to other strangers, is very
remarkable. The Jews and the Moabites had dispossessed the natives of
the country; neither had any right but that of force; and the one says
to the other: "Your god has protected you in your usurpation; suffer our
god to protect us in ours."

Jeremiah and Amos both ask what right the god Melchem had to seize the
country of Gad? From these passages it is evident that the ancients
attributed to each country a protecting god. We find other traces of
this theology in Homer.

It is very natural that, men's imaginations being heated, and their
minds having acquired some confused knowledge, they should soon multiply
their gods, and speedily assign protectors to the elements, the seas,
the forests, the fountains, and the fields. The more they observed the
stars, the more they would be struck with admiration. How, indeed,
should they have adored the divinity of a brook, and not have adored the
sun? The first step being taken, the earth would soon be covered with
gods; and from the stars men would at last come down to cats and

Reason, however, will advance towards perfection; time at length found
philosophers who saw that neither onions, nor cats, nor even the stars,
had arranged the order of nature. All those philosophers--Babylonians,
Persians, Egyptians, Scythians, Greeks, and Romans--admitted a supreme,
rewarding, and avenging God.

They did not at first tell it to the people; for whosoever should have
spoken ill of onions and cats before priests and old women, would have
been stoned; whosoever should have reproached certain of the Egyptians
with eating their gods would himself have been eaten--as Juvenal relates
that an Egyptian was in reality killed and eaten quite raw in a
controversial dispute.

What then did they do? Orpheus and others established mysteries, which
the initiated swore by oaths of execration not to reveal--of which
mysteries the principal was the adoration of a supreme God. This great
truth made its way through half the world, and the number of the
initiated became immense. It is true that the ancient religion still
existed; but as it was not contrary to the dogma of the unity of God, it
was allowed to exist. And why should it have been abolished? The Romans
acknowledged the "_Deus optimus maximus_" and the Greeks had their
Zeus--their supreme god. All the other divinities were only intermediate
beings; heroes and emperors were ranked with the gods, i.e., with the
blessed; but it is certain that Claudius, Octavius, Tiberius, and
Caligula, were not regarded as the creators of heaven and earth.

In short, it seems proved that, in the time of Augustus, all who had a
religion acknowledged a superior, eternal God, with several orders of
secondary gods, whose worship was called idolatry.

The laws of the Jews never favored idolatry; for, although they admitted
the Malachim, angels and celestial beings of an inferior order, their
law did not ordain that they should worship these secondary divinities.
They adored the angels, it is true; that is, they prostrated themselves
when they saw them; but as this did not often happen, there was no
ceremonial nor legal worship established for them. The cherubim of the
ark received no homage. It is beyond a doubt that the Jews, from
Alexander's time at least, openly adored one only God, as the
innumerable multitude of the initiated secretly adored Him in their


It was at the time when the worship of a Supreme God was universally
established among all the wise in Asia, in Europe, and in Africa, that
the Christian religion took its birth.

Platonism assisted materially the understanding of its dogmas. The
"_Logos_," which with Plato meant the "wisdom," the reason of the
Supreme Being, became with us the "word," and a second person of God.
Profound metaphysics, above human intelligence, were an inaccessible
sanctuary in which religion was enveloped.

It is not necessary here to repeat how Mary was afterwards declared to
be the mother of God; how the consubstantiality of the Father and the
"word" was established; as also the proceeding of the "_pneuma_," the
divine organ of the divine _Logos_; as also the two natures and two
wills resulting from the hypostasis; and lastly, the superior
manducation--the soul nourished as well as the body, with the flesh and
blood of the God-man, adored and eaten in the form of bread, present to
the eyes, sensible to the taste, and yet annihilated. All mysteries have
been sublime.

In the second century devils began to be cast out in the name of Jesus;
before they were cast out in the name of Jehovah or Ihaho; for St.
Matthew relates that the enemies of Jesus having said that He cast out
devils in the name of the prince of devils, He answered, "If I cast out
devils by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out?"

It is not known at what time the Jews recognized Beelzebub, who was a
strange god, as the prince of devils; but it is known, for Josephus
tells us, that there were at Jerusalem exorcists appointed to cast out
devils from the bodies of the possessed; that is, of such as were
attacked by singular maladies, which were then in a great part of the
world attributed to the malific genii.

These demons were then cast out by the true pronunciation of Jehovah,
which is now lost, and by other ceremonies now forgotten.

This exorcism by Jehovah or by the other names of God, was still in use
in the first ages of the church. Origen, disputing against Celsus, says
to him: "If, when invoking God, or swearing by Him, you call Him 'the
God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,' you will by those words do things,
the nature and force of which are such that the evil spirits submit to
those who pronounce them; but if you call him by another name, as 'God
of the roaring sea,' etc., no effect will be produced. The name of
'Israel,' rendered in Greek, will work nothing; but pronounce it in
Hebrew with the other words required, and you will effect the

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

Origen, when speaking thus, is not giving his private opinion; he is but
repeating the universal opinion.

All the religions then known admitted a sort of magic, which was
distinguished into celestial magic, and infernal magic, necromancy and
theurgy--all was prodigy, divination, oracle. The Persians did not deny
the miracles of the Egyptians, nor the Egyptians those of the Persians.
God permitted the primitive Christians to be persuaded of the truth of
the oracles attributed to the Sibyls, and left them a few other
unimportant errors, which were no essential detriment to their religion.
Another very remarkable thing is, that the Christians of the primitive
ages held temples, altars, and images in abhorrence. Origen acknowledges
this (No. 347). Everything was afterwards changed, with the discipline,
when the Church assumed a permanent form.


When once a religion is established in a state, the tribunals are all
employed in perverting the continuance or renewal of most of the things
that were done in that religion before it was publicly received. The
founders used to assemble in private, in spite of magistrates; but now
no assemblies are permitted but public ones under the eyes of the law,
and all concealed associations are forbidden. The maxim formerly was,
that "it is better to obey God than man"; the opposite maxim is now
adopted, that "to follow the laws of the state is to obey God." Nothing
was heard of but obsessions and possessions; the devil was then let
loose upon the world, but now the devil stays at home. Prodigies and
predictions were necessary; now they are no longer admitted: a man who
in the places should foretell calamities, would be sent to a madhouse.
The founders secretly received the money of the faithful; but now, a man
who should gather money for his own disposal, without being authorized
by the law, would be brought before a court of justice to answer for so
doing. Thus the scaffoldings that have served to build the edifice are
no longer made use of.


After our own holy religion, which indubitably is the only good one,
what religion would be the least objectionable?

Would it not be that which should be the simplest; that which should
teach much morality and very few dogmas; that which should tend to make
men just, without making them absurd; that which should not ordain the
belief of things impossible, contradictory, injurious to the Divinity,
and pernicious to mankind; nor dare to threaten with eternal pains
whosoever should possess common sense? Would it not be that which should
not uphold its belief by the hand of the executioner, nor inundate the
earth with blood to support unintelligible sophisms; that in which an
ambiguous expression, a play upon words, and two or three supported
charters, should not suffice to make a sovereign and a god of a priest
who is often incestuous, a murderer, and a poisoner; which should not
make kings subject to this priest; that which should teach only the
adoration of one God, justice, tolerance, and humanity.


It has been said, that the religion of the Gentiles was absurd in many
points, contradictory, and pernicious; but have there not been imputed
to it more harm than it ever did, and more absurdities than it ever

Show me in all antiquity a temple dedicated to Leda lying with a swan,
or Europa with a bull. Was there ever a sermon preached at Athens or at
Rome, to persuade the young women to cohabit with their poultry? Are the
fables collected and adorned by Ovid religious? Are they not like our
Golden Legend, our Flower of the Saints? If some Brahmin or dervish were
to come and object to our story of St. Mary the Egyptian, who not having
wherewith to pay the sailors who conveyed her to Egypt, gave to each of
them instead of money what are called "favors," we should say to the
Brahmin: Reverend father, you are mistaken; our religion is not the
Golden Legend.

We reproach the ancients with their oracles, and prodigies; if they
could return to this world, and the miracles of our Lady of Loretto and
our Lady of Ephesus could be counted, in whose favor would be the

Human sacrifices were established among almost every people, but very
rarely put in practice. Among the Jews, only Jephthah's daughter and
King Agag were immolated; for Isaac and Jonathan were not. Among the
Greeks, the story of "Iphigenia" is not well authenticated; and human
sacrifices were very rare among the ancient Romans. In short, the
religion of the Pagans caused very little blood to be shed, while ours
has deluged the earth. Ours is doubtless the only good, the only true
one; but we have done so much harm by its means that when we speak of
others we should be modest.


If a man would persuade foreigners, or his own countrymen, of the truth
of his religion, should he not go about it with the most insinuating
mildness and the most engaging moderation? If he begins with telling
them that what he announces is demonstrated, he will find a multitude of
persons incredulous; if he ventures to tell them that they reject his
doctrine only inasmuch as it condemns their passions; that their hearts
have corrupted their minds; that their reasoning is only false and
proud, he disgusts them; he incenses them against himself; he himself
ruins what he would fain establish.

If the religion he announces be true, will violence and insolence render
it more so? Do you put yourself in a rage, when you say that it is
necessary to be mild, patient, beneficent, just, and to fulfil all the
duties of society? No; because everyone is of your own opinion. Why,
then, do you abuse your brother when preaching to him a mysterious
system of metaphysics? Because his opinion irritates your self-love. You
are so proud as to require your brother to submit his intelligence to
yours; humbled pride produces the wrath; it has no other source. A man
who has received twenty wounds in a battle does not fly into a passion;
but a divine, wounded by the refusal of your assent, at once becomes
furious and implacable.


Must we not carefully distinguish the religion of the state from
theological religion? The religion of the state requires that the imans
keep registers of the circumcised, the vicars or pastors registers of
the baptized; that there be mosques, churches, temples, days consecrated
to rest and worship, rites established by law; that the ministers of
those rites enjoy consideration without power; that they teach good
morals to the people, and that the ministers of the law watch over the
morals of the ministers of the temples. This religion of the state
cannot at any time cause any disturbance.

It is otherwise with theological religion: this is the source of all
imaginable follies and disturbances; it is the parent of fanaticism and
civil discord; it is the enemy of mankind. A bonze asserts that _Fo_ is
a God,-that he was foretold by fakirs, that he was born of a white
elephant, and that every bonze can by certain grimaces make a _Fo_. A
_talapoin_ says, that _Fo_ was a holy man, whose doctrine the bonzes
have corrupted, and that _Sammonocodom_ is the true God. After a
thousand arguments and contradictions, the two factions agree to refer
the question to the _dalai-lama_, who resides three hundred leagues off,
and who is not only immortal, but also infallible. The two factions send
to him a solemn deputation; and the _dalai-lama_ begins, according to
his divine custom, by distributing among them the contents of his

The two rival sects at first receive them with equal reverence; have
them dried in the sun, and encase them in little chaplets which they
kiss devoutly; but no sooner have the _dalai-lama_ and his council
pronounced in the name of _Fo_, than the condemned party throw their
chaplets in the vice-god's face, and would fain give him a sound
thrashing. The other party defend their _lama_, from whom they have
received good lands; both fight a long time; and when at last they are
tired of mutual extermination, assassination, and poisoning, they
grossly abuse each other, while the _dalai-lama_ laughs, and still
distributes his excrement to whosoever is desirous of receiving the good
father lama's precious favors.


Rhyme was probably invented to assist the memory, and to regulate at the
same time the song and the dance. The return of the same sounds served
to bring easily and readily to the recollection the intermediate words
between the two rhymes. Those rhymes were a guide at once to the singer
and the dancer; they indicated the measure. Accordingly, in every
country, verse was the language of the gods.

We may therefore class it among the list of probable, that is, of
uncertain, opinions, that rhyme was at first a religious appendage or
ceremony; for after all, it is possible that verses and songs might be
addressed by a man to his mistress before they were addressed by him to
his deities; and highly impassioned lovers indeed will say that the
cases are precisely the same.

A rabbi who gave a general view of the Hebrew language, which I never
was able to learn, once recited to me a number of rhymed psalms, which
he said we had most wretchedly translated. I remember two verses, which
are as follows:

     _Hibbitu clare vena haru_
     _Ulph nehem al jeck pharu._

"They looked upon him and were lightened, and their faces were not

No rhyme can be richer than that of those two verses; and this being
admitted, I reason in the following manner:

The Jews, who spoke a jargon half Phœnician and half Syriac, rhymed;
therefore the great and powerful nations, under whom they were in
slavery, rhymed also. We cannot help believing, that the Jews--who, as
we have frequently observed, adopted almost everything from their
neighbors--adopted from them also rhyme.

All the Orientals rhyme; they are steady and constant in their usages.
They dress now as they have dressed for the long series of five or six
thousand years. We may, therefore, well believe that they have rhymed
for a period of equal duration.

Some of the learned contend that the Greeks began with rhyming, whether
in honor of their gods, their heroes, or their mistresses; but, that
afterwards becoming more sensible of the harmony of their language,
having acquired a more accurate knowledge of prosody, and refined upon
melody, they made those requisite verses without rhyme which have been
transmitted down to us, and which the Latins imitated and very often

As for us, the miserable descendants of Goths, Vandals, Gauls, Franks,
and Burgundians--barbarians who are incapable of attaining either the
Greek or Latin melody--we are compelled to rhyme. Blank verse, among all
modern nations, is nothing but prose without any measure; it is
distinguished from ordinary prose only by a certain number of equal and
monotonous syllables, which it has been agreed to denominate "verse."

We have remarked elsewhere that those who have written in blank verse
have done so only because they were incapable of rhyming. Blank verse
originated in an incapacity to overcome difficulty, and in a desire to
come to an end sooner.

We have remarked that Ariosto has made a series of forty-eight thousand
rhymes without producing either disgust or weariness in a single reader.
We have observed how French poetry, in rhyme, sweeps all obstacles
before it, and that pleasure arose even from the very obstacles
themselves. We have been always convinced that rhyme was necessary for
the ears, not for the eyes; and we have explained our opinions, if not
with judgment and success, at least without dictation and arrogance.

But we acknowledge that on the receipt at Mount Krapak of the late
dreadful literary intelligence from Paris, our former moderation
completely abandons us. We understand that there exists a rising sect of
barbarians, whose doctrine is that no tragedy should henceforward be
ever written but in prose. This last blow alone was wanting, in addition
to all our previous afflictions. It is the abomination of desolation in
the temple of the muses. We can very easily conceive that, after
Corneille had turned into verse the "Imitation of Jesus Christ," some
sarcastic wag might menace the public with the acting of a tragedy in
prose, by Floridor and Mondori; but this project having been seriously
executed by the abbé d'Aubignac, we well know with what success it was
attended. We well know the ridicule and disgrace that were attached to
the prose "Œdipus" of De la Motte Houdart, which were nearly as great
as those which were incurred by his "Œdipus" in verse. What miserable
Visigoth can dare, after "Cinna" and "Andromache," to banish verse from
the theatre? After the grand and brilliant age of our literature, can we
be really sunk into such degradation and opprobrium! Contemptible
barbarians! Go, then, and see this your prose tragedy performed by
actors in their riding-coats at Vauxhall, and afterwards go and feast
upon shoulder of mutton and strong beer.

What would Racine and Boileau have said had this terrible intelligence
been announced to them? "_Bon Dieu_"! Good God! from what a height have
we fallen, and into what a slough are we plunged!

It is certain that rhyme gives a most overwhelming and oppressive
influence to verses possessing mere mediocrity of merit. The poet in
this case is just like a bad machinist, who cannot prevent the harsh and
grating sounds of his wires and pulleys from annoying the ear. His
readers experience the same fatigue that he underwent while forming his
own rhymes; his verses are nothing but an empty jingling of wearisome
syllables. But if he is happy in his thoughts and happy also in his
rhyme, he then experiences and imparts a pleasure truly exquisite--a
pleasure that can be fully enjoyed only by minds endowed with
sensibility, and by ears attuned to harmony.



We are told that the Egyptians built their pyramids for no other purpose
than to make tombs of them, and that their bodies, embalmed within and
without, waited there for their souls to come and reanimate them at the
end of a thousand years. But if these bodies were to come to life again,
why did the embalmers begin the operation by piercing the skull with a
gimlet, and drawing out the brain? The idea of coming to life again
without brains would make one suspect that--if the expression may be
used--the Egyptians had not many while alive; but let us bear in mind
that most of the ancients believed the soul to be in the breast. And why
should the soul be in the breast rather than elsewhere? Because, when
our feelings are at all violent, we do in reality feel, about the region
of the heart, a dilatation or compression, which caused it to be thought
that the soul was lodged there. This soul was something aerial; it was a
slight figure that went about at random until it found its body again.

The belief in resurrection is much more ancient than historical times.
Athalides, son of Mercury, could die and come to life again at will;
Æsculapius restored Hippolytus to life, and Hercules, Alceste. Pelops,
after being cut in pieces by his father, was resuscitated by the gods.
Plato relates that Heres came to life again for fifteen days only.

Among the Jews, the Pharisees did not adopt the dogma of the
resurrection until long after Plato's time.

In the Acts of the Apostles there is a very singular fact, and one well
worthy of attention. St. James and several of his companions advise St.
Paul to go into the temple of Jerusalem, and, Christian as he was, to
observe all the ceremonies of the Old Law, in order--say they--"that all
may know that those things whereof they were informed concerning thee
are nothing, but that thou thyself also walkest orderly and keepest the
law." This is clearly saying: "Go and lie; go and perjure yourself; go
and publicly deny the religion which you teach."

St. Paul then went seven days into the temple; but on the seventh he was
discovered. He was accused of having come into it with strangers, and of
having profaned it. Let us see how he extricated himself.

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." The resurrection of the dead formed no
part of the question; Paul said this only to incense the Pharisees and
Sadducees against each other.

"And when he had so said there arose a dissension 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 has been asserted that Job, who is very ancient, was acquainted with
the doctrine of resurrection; and these words are cited: "I know that
my Redeemer liveth, and that one day His redemption shall rise upon me;
or that I shall rise again from the dust, that my skin shall return, and
that in my flesh I shall again see God."

But many commentators understand by these words that Job hopes soon to
recover from his malady, and that he shall not always remain lying on
the ground, as he then was. The sequel sufficiently proves this
explanation to be the true one; for he cries out the next moment to his
false and hardhearted friends: "Why then do you say let us persecute
Him?" Or: "For you shall say, because we persecuted Him." Does not this
evidently mean--you will repent of having ill used me, when you shall
see me again in my future state of health and opulence. When a sick man
says: I shall rise again, he does not say: I shall come to life again.
To give forced meanings to clear passages is the sure way never to
understand one another; or rather, to be regarded by honest men as
wanting sincerity.

St. Jerome dates the birth of the sect of the Pharisees but a very short
time before Jesus Christ. The rabbin Hillel is considered as having been
the founder of the Pharisaïc sect; and this Hillel was contemporary with
St. Paul's master, Gamaliel.

Many of these Pharisees believed that only the Jews were brought to life
again, the rest of mankind not being worth the trouble. Others
maintained that there would be no rising again but in Palestine; and
that the bodies of such as were buried elsewhere would be secretly
conveyed into the neighborhood of Jerusalem, there to rejoin their
souls. But St. Paul, writing to the people of Thessalonica, says:

"For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are
alive, and remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent them
which are asleep.

"For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the
voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in
Christ shall rise first.

"Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up with them in the
clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the

Does not this important passage clearly prove that the first Christians
calculated on seeing the end of the world? as, indeed, it was foretold
by St. Luke to take place while he himself was alive? But if they did
not see this end of the world, if no one rose again in their day, that
which is deferred is not lost.

St. Augustine believed that children, and even still-born infants, would
rise again in a state of maturity. Origen, Jerome, Athanasius, Basil,
and others, did not believe that women would rise again with the marks
of their sex.

In short, there have ever been disputes about what we have been, about
what we are, and about what we shall be.


Father Malebranche proves resurrection by the caterpillars becoming
butterflies. This proof, as every one may perceive, is not more weighty
than the wings of the insects from which he borrows it. Calculating
thinkers bring forth arithmetical objections against this truth which he
has so well proved. They say that men and other animals are really fed
and derive their growth from the substance of their predecessors. The
body of a man, reduced to ashes, scattered in the air, and falling on
the surface of the earth, becomes corn or vegetable. So Cain ate a part
of Adam; Enoch fed on Cain; Irad on Enoch; Mahalaleel on Irad;
Methuselah on Mahalaleel; and thus we find that there is not one among
us who has not swallowed some portion of our first parent. Hence it has
been said that we have all been cannibals. Nothing can be clearer than
that such is the case after a battle; not only do we kill our brethren,
but at the end of two or three years, when the harvests have been
gathered from the field of battle, we have eaten them all; and we, in
turn, shall be eaten with the greatest facility imaginable. Now, when we
are to rise again, how shall we restore to each one the body that
belongs to him, without losing something of our own?

So say those who trust not in resurrection; but the resurrectionists
have answered them very pertinently.

A rabbin named Samaï demonstrates resurrection by this passage of
Exodus: "I appeared unto Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and swore
to give unto them the land of Canaan." Now--says this great
rabbin--notwithstanding this oath, God did not give them that land;
therefore, they will rise again to enjoy it, in order that the oath be

The profound philosopher Calmet finds a much more conclusive proof in
vampires. He saw vampires issuing from churchyards to go and suck the
blood of good people in their sleep; it is clear that they could not
suck the blood of the living if they themselves were still dead;
therefore they had risen again; this is peremptory.

It is also certain that at the day of judgment all the dead will walk
under ground, like moles--so says the "Talmud"--that they may appear in
the valley of Jehoshaphat, which lies between the city of Jerusalem and
the Mount of Olives. There will be a good deal of squeezing in this
valley; but it will only be necessary to reduce the bodies
proportionately, like Milton's devils in the hall of Pandemonium.

This resurrection will take place to the sound of the trumpet, according
to St. Paul. There must, of course, be more trumpets than one; for the
thunder itself is not heard more than three or four leagues round. It is
asked: How many trumpets will there be? The divines have not yet made
the calculation; it will nevertheless be made.

The Jews say that Queen Cleopatra, who no doubt believed in the
resurrection like all the ladies of that day, asked a Pharisee if we
were to rise again quite naked? The doctor answered that we shall be
very well dressed, for the same reason that the corn that has been sown
and perished under ground rises again in ear with a robe and a beard.
This rabbin was an excellent theologian; he reasoned like Dom Calmet.


_Resurrection of the Ancients._

It has been asserted that the dogma of resurrection was much in vogue
with the Egyptians, and was the origin of their embalmings and their
pyramids. This I myself formerly believed. Some said that the
resurrection was to take place at the end of a thousand years; others at
the end of three thousand. This difference in their theological opinions
seems to prove that they were not very sure about the matter.

Besides, in the history of Egypt, we find no man raised again; but among
the Greeks we find several. Among the latter, then, we must look for
this invention of rising again.

But the Greeks often burned their bodies, and the Egyptians embalmed
them, that when the soul, which was a small, aerial figure, returned to
its habitation, it might find it quite ready. This had been good if its
organs had also been ready; but the embalmer began by taking out the
brain and clearing the entrails. How were men to rise again without
intestines, and without the medullary part by means of which they think?
Where were they to find again the blood, the lymph, and other humors?

You will tell me that it was still more difficult to rise again among
the Greeks, where there was not left of you more than a pound of ashes
at the utmost--mingled, too, with the ashes of wood, stuffs and spices.

Your objection is forcible, and I hold with you, that resurrection is a
very extraordinary thing; but the son of Mercury did not the less die
and rise again several times. The gods restored Pelops to life, although
he had been served up as a ragout, and Ceres had eaten one of his
shoulders. You know that Æsculapius brought Hippolytus to life again;
this was a verified fact, of which even the most incredulous had no
doubt; the name of "_Virbius_," given to Hippolytus, was a convincing
proof. Hercules had resuscitated Alceste and Pirithous. Heres did, it is
true--according to Plato--come to life again for fifteen days only;
still it was a resurrection; the time does not alter the fact.

Many grave schoolmen clearly see purgatory and resurrection in Virgil.
As for purgatory, I am obliged to acknowledge that it is expressly in
the sixth book. This may displease the Protestants, but I have no

     _Non tamen omne malum miseris, nec funditus omnes_
     _Corporea excedunt pestes,..._

     Not death itself can wholly wash their stains;
     But long contracted filth even in the soul remains.
     The relics of inveterate vice they wear,
     And spots of sin obscene in every face appear,...

But we have already quoted this passage in the article on "Purgatory,"
which doctrine is here expressed clearly enough; nor could the kinsfolks
of that day obtain from the pagan priests an indulgence to abridge their
sufferings for ready money. The ancients were much more severe and less
simoniacal than we are notwithstanding that they imputed so many foolish
actions to their gods. What would you have? Their theology was made up
of contradictions, as the malignant say is the case with our own.

When their purgation was finished, these souls went and drank of the
waters of Lethe, and instantly asked that they might enter fresh bodies
and again see daylight. But is this a resurrection? Not at all; it is
taking an entirely new body, not resuming the old one; it is a
metempsychosis, without any relation to the manner in which we of the
true faith are to rise again.

The souls of the ancients did, I must acknowledge, make a very bad
bargain in coming back to this world, for seventy years at most, to
undergo once more all that we know is undergone in a life of seventy
years, and then suffer another thousand years' discipline. In my humble
opinion there is no soul that would not be tired of this everlasting
vicissitude of so short a life and so long a penance.


_Resurrection of the Moderns._

Our resurrection is quite different. Every man will appear with
precisely the same body which he had before; and all these bodies will
be burned for all eternity, excepting only, at most, one in a hundred
thousand. This is much worse than a purgatory of ten centuries, in order
to live here again a few years.

When will the great day of this general resurrection arrive? This is not
positively known; and the learned are much divided. Nor do they any more
know how each one is to find his own members again. Hereupon they start
many difficulties.

1. Our body, say they, is, during life, undergoing a continual change;
at fifty years of age we have nothing of the body in which our soul was
lodged at twenty.

2. A soldier from Brittany goes into Canada; there, by a very common
chance, he finds himself short of food, and is forced to eat an Iroquois
whom he killed the day before. This Iroquois had fed on Jesuits for two
or three months; a great part of his body had become Jesuit. Here, then,
the body of a soldier is composed of Iroquois, of Jesuits, and of all
that he had eaten before. How is each to take again precisely what
belongs to him? and which part belongs to each?

3. A child dies in its mother's womb, just at the moment that it has
received a soul. Will it rise again fœtus, or boy, or man?

4. To rise again--to be the same person as you were--you must have your
memory perfectly fresh and present; it is memory that makes your
identity. If your memory be lost, how will you be the same man?

5. There are only a certain number of earthly particles that can
constitute an animal. Sand, stone, minerals, metals, contribute nothing.
All earth is not adapted thereto; it is only the soils favorable to
vegetation that are favorable to the animal species. When, after the
lapse of many ages, every one is to rise again, where shall be found the
earth adapted to the formation of all these bodies?

6. Suppose an island, the vegetative part of which will suffice for a
thousand men, and for five or six thousand animals to feed and labor for
that thousand men; at the end of a hundred thousand generations we shall
have to raise again a thousand millions of men. It is clear that matter
will be wanting: "_Materies opus est, ut crescunt post era saecla_."

7. And lastly, when it is proved, or thought to be proved, that a
miracle as great as the universal deluge, or the ten plagues of Egypt,
will be necessary to work the resurrection of all mankind in the valley
of Jehoshaphat, it is asked: What becomes of the souls of all these
bodies while awaiting the moment of returning into their cases?

Fifty rather knotty questions might easily be put; but the divines would
likewise easily find answers to them all.



_National Rights--Natural Rights--Public Rights._

I know no better way of commencing this subject than with the verses of
Ariosto, in the second stanza of the 44th canto of the "_Orlando
Furioso_," which observes that kings, emperors, and popes, sign fine
treaties one day which they break the next, and that, whatever piety
they may affect, the only god to whom they really appeal, is their

     _Fan lega oggi re, papi et imperatori_
     _Doman saran nimici capitali:_
     _Perche, qual Papparenze esteriori,_
     _Non hanno i cor, non han gli animi tali,_
     _Che non mirando al torto piu che al dritto._
     _Attendon solamente al lor profitto._

If there were only two men on earth, how would they live together? They
would assist each other; they would annoy each other; they would court
each other; they would speak ill of each other; fight with each other;
be reconciled to each other; and be neither able to live with nor
without each other. In short, they would do as people at present do,
who possess the gift of reason certainly, but the gift of instinct also;
and will feel, reason, and act forever as nature has destined.

No god has descended upon our globe, assembled the human race, and said
to them, "I ordain that the negroes and Kaffirs go stark naked and feed
upon insects.

"I order the Samoyeds to clothe, themselves with the skins of reindeer,
and to feed upon their flesh, insipid as it is, and eat dry and half
putrescent fish without salt. It is my will that the Tartars of Thibet
all believe what their _dalai-lama_ shall say; and that the Japanese pay
the same attention to their _dairo_.

"The Arabs are not to eat swine, and the Westphalians nothing else but

"I have drawn a line from Mount Caucasus to Egypt, and from Egypt to
Mount Atlas. All who inhabit the east of that line may espouse as many
women as they please; those to the west of it must be satisfied with

"If, towards the Adriatic Gulf, or the marshes of the Rhine and the
Meuse, or in the neighborhood of Mount Jura, or the Isle of Albion, any
one shall wish to make another despotic, or aspire to be so himself, let
his head be cut off, on a full conviction that destiny and myself are
opposed to his intentions.

"Should any one be so insolent as to attempt to establish an assembly
of free men on the banks of the Manzanares, or on the shores of the
Propontis, let him be empaled alive or drawn asunder by four horses.

"Whoever shall make up his accounts according to a certain rule of
arithmetic at Constantinople, at Grand Cairo, at Tafilet, at Delhi, or
at Adrianople, let him be empaled alive on the spot, without form of
law; and whoever shall dare to account by any other rule at Lisbon,
Madrid, in Champagne, in Picardy, and towards the Danube, from Ulm unto
Belgrade, let him be devoutly burned amidst chantings of the

"That which is just along the shores of the Loire is otherwise on the
banks of the Thames; for my laws are universal," etc.

It must be confessed that we have no very clear proof, even in the
"_Journal Chrétien_," nor in "The Key to the Cabinet of Princes," that a
god has descended in order to promulgate such a public law. It exists,
notwithstanding, and is literally practised according to the preceding
announcement; and there have been compiled, compiled, and compiled, upon
these national rights, very admirable commentaries, which have never
produced a sou to the great numbers who have been ruined by war, by
edicts, and by tax-gatherers.

These compilations closely resemble the case of conscience of Pontas. It
is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished who kill not
in large companies, and to the sound of trumpets; it is the rule.

At the time when Anthropophagi still existed in the forest of Ardennes,
an old villager met with a man-eater, who had carried away an infant to
devour it. Moved with pity, the villager killed the devourer of children
and released the little boy, who quickly fled away. Two passengers, who
witnessed the transaction at a distance, accused the good man with
having committed a murder on the king's highway. The person of the
offender being produced before the judge, the two witnesses--after they
had paid the latter a hundred crowns for the exercise of his
functions--deposed to the particulars, and the law being precise, the
villager was hanged upon the spot for doing that which had so much
exalted Hercules, Theseus, Orlando, and Amadis the Gaul. Ought the judge
to be hanged himself, who executed this law to the letter? How ought the
point to be decided upon a general principle? To resolve a thousand
questions of this kind, a thousand volumes have been written.

Puffendorff first established moral existences: "There are," said he,
"certain modes which intelligent beings attach to things natural, or to
physical operations, with the view of directing or restraining the
voluntary actions of mankind, in order to infuse order, convenience, and
felicity into human existence."

Thus, to give correct ideas to the Swedes and the Germans of the just
and the unjust, he remarks that "there are two kinds of place, in regard
to one of which, it is said, that things are for example, here or there;
and in respect to the other, that they have existed, do, or will exist
at a certain time, as for example, yesterday, to-day, or to-morrow. In
the same manner we conceive two sorts of moral existence, the one of
which denotes a moral state, that has some conformity with place, simply
considered; the other a certain time, when a moral effect will be
produced," etc.

This is not all; Puffendorff curiously distinguishes the simple moral
from the modes of opinion, and the formal from the operative qualities.
The formal qualities are simple attributes, but the operative are to be
carefully divided into original and derivated.

In the meantime, Barbeyrac has commented on these fine things, and they
are taught in the universities, and opinion is divided between Grotius
and Puffendorff in regard to questions of similar importance. Take my
recommendation; read Tully's "Offices."


Nothing possibly can tend more to render a mind false, obscure, and
uncertain than the perusal of Grotius, Puffendorff, and almost all the
writers on the "_jus gentium_."

We must not do evil that good may come of it, says the writer to whom
nobody hearkens. It is permitted to make war on a power, lest it should
become too strong, says the "Spirit of Laws."

When rights are to be established by prescription, the publicists call
to their aid divine right and human right; and the theologians take
their part in the dispute. "Abraham and his seed," say they, "had a
right to the land of Canaan, because he had travelled there; and God had
given it to him in a vision." But according to the vulgate sage
teachers, five hundred and forty-seven years elapsed between the time
when Abraham purchased a sepulchre in the country and Joshua took
possession of a small part of it. No matter, his right was clear and
correct. And then prescription? Away with prescription! Ought that which
once took place in Palestine to serve as a rule for Germany and Italy?
Yes, for He said so. Be it so, gentlemen; God preserve me from disputing
with you!

The descendants of Attila, it is said, established themselves in
Hungary. Till what time must the ancient inhabitants hold themselves
bound in conscience to remain serfs to the descendants of Attila?

Our doctors, who have written on peace and war, are very profound; if we
attend to them, everything belongs of right to the sovereign for whom
they write; he, in fact, has never been able to alienate his domains.
The emperor of right ought to possess Rome, Italy, and France; such was
the opinion of Bartholus; first, because the emperor was entitled king
of the Romans; and, secondly, because the archbishop of Cologne is
chancellor of Italy, and the archbishop of Trier chancellor of Gaul.
Moreover, the emperor of Germany carries a gilded ball at his
coronation, which of course proves that he is the rightful master of the
whole globe.

At Rome there is not a single priest who has not learned, in his course
of theology, that the pope ought to be master of this earth, seeing it
is written that it was said to Simon, the son of Jonas: "Thou art Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my church." It was well said to Gregory
VII. that this treated only of souls, and of the celestial kingdom.
Damnable observation! he replied; and would have hanged the observer had
he been able.

Spirits, still more profound, establish this reasoning by an argument to
which there is no reply. He to whom the bishop of Rome calls himself
vicar has declared that his dominion is not of this world; can this
world then belong to the vicar, when his master has renounced it? Which
ought to prevail, human nature or the decretals? The decretals,

If it be asked whether the massacre of ten or twelve millions of unarmed
men in America was defensible, it is replied that nothing can be more
just and holy, since they were not Catholic, apostolic and Roman.

There is not an age in which the declarations of war of Christian
princes have not authorized the attack and pillage of all the subjects
of the prince, to whom war has been announced by a herald, in a coat of
mail and hanging sleeves. Thus, when this signification has been made,
should a native of Auvergne meet a German, he is bound to kill, and
entitled to rob him either before or after the murder.

The following has been a very thorny question for the schools: The ban,
and the arrière-ban, having been ordered out in order to kill and be
killed on the frontiers, ought the Suabians, being satisfied that the
war is atrociously unjust, to march? Some doctors say yes; others, more
just, pronounce no. What say the politicians?

When we have fully discussed these great preliminary questions, with
which no sovereign embarrasses himself, or is embarrassed, we must
proceed to discuss the right of fifty or sixty families upon the county
of Alost; the town of Orchies; the duchy of Berg and of Juliers; upon
the countries of Tournay and Nice; and, above all, on the frontiers of
all the provinces, where the weakest always loses his cause.

It was disputed for a hundred years whether the dukes of Orleans, Louis
XII., and Francis I., had a claim on the duchy of Milan, by virtue of a
contract of marriage with Valentina de Milan, granddaughter of the
bastard of a brave peasant, named Jacob Muzio. Judgment was given in
this process at the battle of Pavia.

The dukes of Savoy, of Lorraine, and of Tuscany still pretend to the
Milanese; but it is believed that a family of poor gentlemen exist in
Friuli, the posterity in a right line from Albion, king of the Lombards,
who possess an anterior claim.

The publicists have written great books upon the rights of the kingdom
of Jerusalem. The Turks have written none, and Jerusalem belongs to
them; at least at this present writing; nor is Jerusalem a kingdom.


_General Idea of the Rights of the Church or Canon Law, by M. Bertrand,
Heretofore First Pastor of the Church of Berne._

We assume neither to adopt nor contradict the principles of M. Bertrand;
it is for the public to judge of them.

Canon law, or the canon, according to the vulgar opinion, is
ecclesiastical jurisprudence. It is the collection of canons, rules of
the council, decrees of the popes, and maxims of the fathers.

According to reason, and to the rights of kings and of the people,
ecclesiastical jurisprudence is only an exposition of the privileges
accorded to ecclesiastics by sovereigns representing the nation.

If two supreme authorities, two administrations, having separate rights,
exist, and the one will make war without ceasing upon the other, the
unavoidable result will be perpetual convulsions, civil wars, anarchy,
tyranny, and all the misfortunes of which history presents so miserable
a picture.

If a priest is made sovereign; if the dairo of Japan remained emperor
until the sixteenth century; if the _dalai-lama_ is still sovereign at
Thibet; if Numa was at once king and pontiff; if the caliphs were heads
of the state as well as of religion; and if the popes reign at
Rome--these are only so many proofs of the truth of what we advance; the
authority is not divided; there is but one power. The sovereigns of
Russia and of England preside over religion; the essential unity of
power is there preserved.

Every religion is within the State; every priest forms a part of civil
society, and all ecclesiastics are among the number of the subjects of
the sovereign under whom they exercise their ministry. If a religion
exists which establishes ecclesiastical independence, and supports them
in a sovereign and legitimate authority, that religion cannot spring
from God, the author of society.

It is even to be proved, from all evidence, that in a religion of which
God is represented as the author, the functions of ministers, their
persons, property, pretensions, and manner of inculcating morality,
teaching doctrines, celebrating ceremonies, the adjustment of spiritual
penalties; in a word, all that relates to civil order, ought to be
submitted to the authority of the prince and the inspection of the

If this jurisprudence constitutes a science, here will be found the

It is for the magistracy, solely, to authorize the books admissible into
the schools, according to the nature and form of the government. It is
thus that M. Paul Joseph Rieger, counsellor of the court, judiciously
teaches canon law in the University of Vienna; and, in the like manner,
the republic of Venice examined and reformed all the rules in the states
which have ceased to belong to it. It is desirable that examples so wise
should generally prevail.


_Of the Ecclesiastical Ministry._

Religion is instituted only to preserve order among mankind, and to
render them worthy of the bounty of the Deity by virtue. Everything in a
religion which does not tend to this object ought to be regarded as
foreign or dangerous.

Instruction, exhortation, the fear of punishment to come, the promises
of a blessed hereafter, prayer, advice, and spiritual consolation are
the only means which churchmen can properly employ to render men
virtuous on earth and happy to all eternity.

Every other means is repugnant to the freedom of reason; to the nature
of the soul; to the unalterable rights of conscience; to the essence of
religion; to that of the clerical ministry; and to the just rights of
the sovereign.

Virtue infers liberty, as the transport of a burden implies active
force. With constraint there is no virtue, and without virtue no
religion. Make me a slave and I shall be the worse for it.

Even the sovereign has no right to employ force to lead men to religion,
which essentially presumes choice and liberty. My opinions are no more
dependent on authority than my sickness or my health.

In a word, to unravel all the contradictions in which books on the canon
law abound, and to adjust our ideas in respect to the ecclesiastical
ministry, let us endeavor, in the midst of a thousand ambiguities, to
determine what is the Church.

The Church, then, is all believers, collectively, who are called
together on certain days to pray in common, and at all times to perform
good actions.

Priests are persons appointed, under the authority of the State, to
direct these prayers, and superintend public worship generally.

A numerous Church cannot exist without ecclesiastics; but these
ecclesiastics are not the Church.

It is not less evident that if the ecclesiastics, who compose a part of
civil society, have acquired rights which tend to trouble or destroy
such society, such rights ought to be suppressed.

It is still more obvious that if God has attached prerogatives or rights
to the Church, these prerogatives and these rights belong exclusively
neither to the head of the Church nor to the ecclesiastics; because
these are not the Church itself, any more than the magistrates are the
sovereign, either in a republic or a monarchy.

Lastly; it is very evident that it is our souls only which are submitted
to the care of the clergy, and that for spiritual objects alone.

The soul acts inwardly; its inward acts are thought, will, inclination,
and an acquiescence in certain truths, all which are above restraint;
and it is for the ecclesiastical ministry to instruct, but not to
command them.

The soul acts also outwardly. Its exterior acts are submission to the
civil law; and here constraint may take place, and temporal or corporeal
penalties may punish the violations of the law.

Obedience to the ecclesiastical order ought, consequently, to be always
free and voluntary; it ought to exact no other. On the contrary,
submission to the civil law may be enforced.

For the same reason ecclesiastical penalties, always being spiritual,
attach in this world to those only who are inwardly convinced of their
error. Civil penalties, on the contrary, accompanied by physical evil
produce physical effects, whether the offender acknowledge the justice
of them or not.

Hence it manifestly results that the authority of the clergy can only be
spiritual--that it is unacquainted with temporal power, and that any
co-operative force belongs not to the administration of the Church,
which is essentially destroyed by it.

It moreover follows that a prince, intent not to suffer any division of
his authority, ought not to permit any enterprise which places the
members of the community in an outward or civil dependence on the
ecclesiastical corporation.

Such are the incontestable principles of genuine canonical right or law,
the rules and the decisions of which ought at all times to be submitted
to the test of eternal and immutable truths, founded upon natural rights
and the necessary order of society.


_Of the Possessions of Ecclesiastics._

Let us constantly ascend to the principles of society, which, in civil
as in religious order, are the foundations of all right.

Society in general is the proprietor of the territory of a country, and
the source of national riches. A portion of this national revenue is
devoted to the sovereign to support the expenses of government. Every
individual is possessor of that part of the territory, and of the
revenue, which the laws insure him; and no possession or enjoyment can
at any time be sustained, except under the protection of law.

In society we hold not any good, or any possession as a simple natural
right, as we give up our natural rights and submit to the order of civil
society, in return for assurance and protection. It is, therefore, by
the law that we hold our possessions.

No one can hold anything on earth through religion, neither lands nor
chattels; since all its wealth is spiritual. The possessions of the
faithful, as veritable members of the Church, are in heaven; it is there
where their treasures are laid up. The kingdom of Jesus Christ, which He
always announced as at hand, was not, nor could it be, of this world. No
property, therefore, can be held by divine right.

The Levites under the Hebrew law had, it is true, their tithe by a
positive law of God; but that was under a theocracy which exists no
longer--God Himself acting as the sovereign. All those laws have ceased,
and cannot at present communicate any title to possession.

If any body at present, like that of the priesthood, pretend to possess
tithes or any other wealth by positive right divine, it must produce an
express and incontestable proof enregistered by divine revelation. This
miraculous title would be, I confess, an exception to the civil law,
authorized by God, who says: "All persons ought to submit to the powers
that be, because they are ordained of God and established in His name."

In defect of such a title, no ecclesiastical body whatever can enjoy
aught on earth but by consent of the sovereignty and the authority of
the civil laws. These form their sole title to possession. If the clergy
imprudently renounce this title, they will possess none at all, and
might be despoiled by any one who is strong enough to attempt it. Its
essential interest is, therefore, to support civil society, to which it
owes everything.

For the same reason, as all the wealth of a nation is liable without
exception to public expenditure for the defence of the sovereign and the
nation, no property can be exempt from it but by force of law, which law
is always revocable as circumstances vary. Peter cannot be exempt
without augmenting the tax of John. Equity, therefore, is eternally
claiming for equality against surcharges; and the State has a right, at
all times, to examine into exemptions, in order to replace things in a
just, natural, proportionate order, by abolishing previously granted
immunities, whether permitted or extorted.

Every law which ordains that the sovereign, at the expense of the
public, shall take care of the wealth or possessions of any individual
or a body, without this body or individual contributing to the common
expenses, amounts to a subversion of law.

I moreover assert that the quota, whether the contribution of a body or
an individual, ought to be proportionately regulated, not by him or
them, but by the sovereign or magistracy, according to the general form
and law. Thus the sovereign or state may demand an account of the wealth
and of the possessions of everybody as of every individual.

It is, therefore, once more on these immutable principles that the rules
of the canon law should be founded which relate to the possessions and
revenue of the clergy.

Ecclesiastics, without doubt, ought to be allowed sufficient to live
honorably, but not as members of or as representing the Church, for the
Church itself claims neither sovereignty nor possession in this world.

But if it be necessary for ministers to preside at t the altar, it is
proper that society should support them in the same manner as the
magistracy and soldiers. It is, therefore, for the civil law to make a
suitable provision for the priesthood.

Even when the possessions of the ecclesiastics have been bestowed on
them by wills, or in any other manner, the donors have not been able to
denationalize the property by abstracting it from public charges and the
authority of the laws. It is always under the guarantee of the laws,
without which they would not possess the insured and legitimate
possessions which they enjoy.

It is, therefore, still left to the sovereign, or the magistracy in his
name, to examine at all times if the ecclesiastical revenues be
sufficient; and if they are not, to augment the allotted provision; if,
on the contrary, they are excessive, it is for them to dispose of the
superfluity for the general good of society.

But according to the right, commonly called canonical, which has sought
to form a State within the State, "_imperium in imperio_,"
ecclesiastical property is sacred and intangible, because it belongs to
religion and the Church; they have come of God, and not of man.

In the first place, it is impossible to appropriate this terrestrial
wealth to religion, which has nothing temporal. They cannot belong to
the Church, which is the universal body of the believers, including the
king, the magistracy, the soldiery, and all subjects; for we are never
to forget that priests no more form the Church than magistrates the

Lastly, these goods come only from God in the same sense as all goods
come from Him, because all is submitted to His providence.

Therefore, every ecclesiastical possessor of riches, or revenue, enjoys
it only as a subject and citizen of the State, under the single
protection of the civil law.

Property, which is temporal and material, cannot be rendered sacred or
holy in any sense, neither literally nor figuratively. If it be said
that a person or edifice is sacred, it only signifies that it has been
consecrated or set apart for spiritual purposes.

The abuse of a metaphor, to authorize rights and pretensions destructive
to all society, is an enterprise of which history and religion furnish
more than one example, and even some very singular ones, which are not
at present to my purpose.


_Of Ecclesiastical or Religious Assemblies._

It is certain that nobody can call any public or regular assembly in a
state but under the sanction of civil authority.

Religious assemblies for public worship must be authorized by the
sovereign, or civil magistracy, before they can be legal.

In Holland, where the civil power grants the greatest liberty, and very
nearly the same in Russia, in England, and in Prussia, those who wish to
form a church have to obtain permission, after which the new church is
in the states, although not of the religion of the states. In general,
as soon as there is a sufficient number of persons, or of families, who
wish to cultivate a particular mode of worship, and to assemble for that
purpose, they can without hesitation apply to the magistrate, who makes
himself a judge of it; and once allowed, it cannot be disturbed without
a breach of public order. The facility with which the government of
Holland has granted this permission has never produced any disorder; and
it would be the same everywhere if the magistrate alone examined,
judged, and protected the parties concerned.

The sovereign, or civil power, possesses the right at all times of
knowing what passes within these assemblies, of regulating, them in
conformity with public order, and of preventing such as produce
disorder. This perpetual inspection is an essential portion of
sovereignty, which every religion ought to acknowledge.

Everything in the worship, in respect to form of prayer, canticles, and
ceremonies, ought to be open to the inspection of the magistrate. The
clergy may compose these prayers; but it is for the State to approve or
reform them in case of necessity. Bloody wars have been undertaken for
mere forms, which would never have been waged had sovereigns understood
their rights.

Holidays ought to be no more established without the consent and
approbation of the State, who may at all times abridge and regulate
them. The multiplication of such days always produces a laxity of
manners and national impoverishment.

A superintendence over oral instruction and books of devotion, belongs
of right to the State. It is not the executive which teaches, but which
attends to the manner in which the people are taught. Morality above all
should be attended to, which is always necessary; whereas disputes
concerning doctrines are often dangerous.

If disputes exist between ecclesiastics in reference to the manner of
teaching, or on points of doctrine, the State may impose silence on both
parties, and punish the disobedient.

As religious congregations are not permitted by the State in order to
treat of political matters, magistrates ought to repress seditious
preachers, who heat the multitude by punishable declamation: these are
pests in every State.

Every mode of worship presumes a discipline to maintain order,
uniformity, and decency. It is for the magistrate to protect this
discipline, and to bring about such changes as times and circumstances
may render necessary.

For nearly eight centuries the emperors of the East assembled councils
in order to appease religious disputes, which were only augmented by the
too great attention paid to them. Contempt would have more certainly
terminated the vain disputation, which interest and the passions had
excited. Since the division of the empire of the West into various
kingdoms, princes have left to the pope the convocation of these
assemblies. The rights of the Roman pontiff are in this respect purely
conventional, and the sovereigns may agree in the course of time, that
they shall no longer exist; nor is any one of them obliged to submit to
any canon without having examined and approved it. However, as the
Council of Trent will most likely be the last, it is useless to agitate
all the questions which might relate to a future general council.

As to assemblies, synods, or national councils, they indisputably cannot
be convoked except when the sovereign or State deems them necessary. The
commissioners of the latter ought therefore to preside, direct all their
deliberations, and give their sanction to the decrees.

There may exist periodical assemblies of the clergy, to maintain order,
under the authority of the State, but the civil power ought uniformly to
direct their views and guide their deliberations. The periodical
assembly of the clergy of France is only an assembly of regulative
commissioners for all the clergy of the kingdom.

The vows by which certain ecclesiastics oblige themselves to live in a
body according to certain rules, under the name of monks, or of
religieux, so prodigiously multiplied in Europe, should always be
submitted to the inspection and approval of the magistrate. These
convents, which shut up so many persons who are useless to society, and
so many victims who regret the liberty which they have lost; these
orders, which bear so many strange denominations, ought not to be valid
or obligatory, unless when examined and sanctioned by the sovereign or
the State.

At all times, therefore, the prince or State has a right to take
cognizance of the rules and conduct of these religious houses, and to
reform or abolish them if held to be incompatible with present
circumstances, and the positive welfare of society.

The revenue and property of these religious bodies are, in like manner,
open to the inspection of the magistracy, in order to judge of their
amount and of the manner in which they are employed. If the mass of the
riches, which is thus prevented from circulation, be too great; if the
revenues greatly exceed the reasonable support of the regulars; if the
employment of these revenues be opposed to the general good; if this
accumulation impoverish the rest of the community; in all these cases it
becomes the magistracy, as the common fathers of the country, to
diminish and divide these riches, in order to make them partake of the
circulation, which is the life of the body politic; or even to employ
them in any other way for the benefit of the public.

Agreeably to the same principles, the sovereign authority ought to
forbid any religious order from having a superior who is a native or
resident of another country. It approaches to the crime of lèse-majesté.

The sovereign may prescribe rules for admission into these orders; he
may, according to ancient usage, fix an age, and hinder taking vows,
except by the express consent of the magistracy in each instance. Every
citizen is born a subject of the State, and has no right to break his
natural engagements with society without the consent of those who
preside over it.

If the sovereign abolishes a religious order, the vows cease to be
binding. The first vow is that to the State; it is a primary and tacit
oath authorized by God; a vow according to the decrees of Providence; a
vow unalterable and imprescriptible, which unites man in society to his
country and his sovereign. If we take a posterior vow, the primitive one
still exists; and when they clash, nothing can weaken or suspend the
force of the primary engagement. If, therefore, the sovereign declares
this last vow, which is only conditional and dependent on the first,
incompatible with it, he does not dissolve a vow, but decrees it to be
necessarily void, and replaces the individual in his natural state.

The foregoing is quite sufficient to dissipate all the sophistry by
which the canonists have sought to embarrass a question so simple in the
estimation of all who are disposed to listen to reason.


_On Ecclesiastical Penalties._

Since neither the Church, which is the body of believers collectively,
nor the ecclesiastics, who are ministers in the Church in the name of
the sovereign and under his authority, possess any coactive strength,
executive power, or terrestrial authority, it is evident that these
ministers can inflict only spiritual punishments. To threaten sinners
with the anger of heaven is the sole penalty that a pastor is entitled
to inflict. If the name of punishment or penalty is not to be given to
those censures or declamations, ministers of religion have none at all
to inflict.

May the Church eject from its bosom those who disgrace or who trouble
it? This is a grand question, upon which the canonists have not
hesitated to adopt the affirmative. Let us repeat, in the first place,
that ecclesiastics are not the Church. The assembled Church, which
includes the State or sovereign, doubtless possesses the right to
exclude from the congregations a scandalous sinner, after repeated
charitable and sufficient warnings. The exclusion, even in this case,
cannot inflict any civil penalty, any bodily evil, or any merely earthly
privation; but whatever right the Church may in this way possess, the
ecclesiastics belonging to it can only exercise it as far as the
sovereign and State allow.

It is therefore still more incumbent on the sovereign, in this case, to
watch over the manner in which this permitted right is exercised,
vigilance being the more necessary in consequence of the abuse to which
it is liable. It is, consequently, necessary for the supreme civil power
to consult the rules for the regulation of assistance and charity, to
prescribe suitable restrictions, without which every declaration of the
clergy, and all excommunication, will be null and without effect, even
when only applicable to the spiritual order. It is to confound different
eras and circumstances, to regulate the proceedings of present times
from the practice of the apostles. The sovereign in those days was not
of the religion of the apostles, nor was the Church included in the
State, so that the ministers of worship could not have recourse to the
magistrates. Moreover, the apostles were ministers extraordinary, of
which we now perceive no resemblance. If other examples of
excommunication, without the authority of the sovereign, be quoted, I
can only say that I cannot hear, without horror, of examples of
excommunication insolently fulminated against sovereigns and
magistrates; I boldly reply, that these denunciations amount to manifest
rebellion, and to an open violation of the most sacred duties of
religion, charity, and natural right.

Let us add, in order to afford a complete idea of excommunication, and
of the true rules of canonical right or law in this respect, that
excommunication, legitimately pronounced by those to whom the sovereign,
in the name of the Church, expressly leaves the power, includes
privation only of spiritual advantages on earth, and can extend to
nothing else: all beyond this will be abuse, and more or less
tyrannical. The ministers of the Church can do no more than declare that
such and such a man is no more a member of the Church. He may still,
however, enjoy notwithstanding the excommunication, all his natural,
civil, and temporal rights as a man and a citizen. If the magistrate
steps in and deprives such a man, in consequence, of an office or
employment in society, it then becomes a civil penalty for some fault
against civil order.

Let us suppose that which may very likely happen, as ecclesiastics are
only men, that the excommunication which they have been led to pronounce
has been prompted by some error or some passion; he who is exposed to a
censure so precipitate is clearly justified in his conscience before
God; the declaration issued against him can produce no effect upon the
life to come. Deprived of exterior communion with the true Church, he
may still enjoy the consolation of the interior communion. Justified by
his conscience, he has nothing to fear in a future existence from the
judgment of God, his only true judge.

It is then a great question, as to canonical rights, whether the clergy,
their head, or any ecclesiastical body whatever, can excommunicate the
sovereign or the magistracy, under any pretext, or for any abuse of
their power? This question is essentially scandalous, and the simple
doubt a direct rebellion. In fact, the first duty of man in society is
to respect the magistrate, and to advance his respectability, and you
pretend to have a right to censure and set him aside. Who has given you
this absurd and pernicious right? Is it God, who governs the political
world by delegated sovereignty, and who ordains that society shall
subsist by subordination?

The first ecclesiastics at the rise of Christianity--did they conceive
themselves authorized to excommunicate Tiberius, Nero, Claudius, or even
Constantine, who was a heretic? How then have pretensions thus
monstrous, ideas thus atrocious, wicked attempts equally condemned by
reason and by natural and religious rights, been suffered to last so
long? If a religion exists which teaches like horrors, society ought to
proscribe it, as directly subversive of the repose of mankind. The cry
of whole nations is already lifted up against these pretended canonical
laws, dictated by ambition and by fanaticism. It is to be hoped that
sovereigns, better instructed in their rights, and supported by the
fidelity of their people, will terminate abuses so enormous, and which
have caused so many misfortunes. The author of the "Essay on the Manners
and Spirit of Nations" has been the first to forcibly expose the
atrocity of enterprises of this nature.


_Of the Superintendence of Doctrine._

The sovereign is not the judge of the truth of doctrine; he may judge
for himself, like all other men; but he ought to take cognizance of it
in respect to everything which relates to civil order, whether in regard
to purport or delivery.

This is the general rule from which magistrates ought never to depart.
Nothing in a doctrine merits the attention of the police, except as it
interests public order: it is the influence of doctrine upon manners
that decides its importance. Doctrines which have a distant connection
only with good conduct can never be fundamental. Truths which conduce to
render mankind gentle, humane, obedient to the laws and to the
government, interest the State, and proceed evidently from God.


_Superintendence of the Magistracy Over the Administration of the

The administration of the sacraments ought to be submitted to the
careful inspection of the magistrates in everything which concerns
public order.

It has already been observed that the magistrate ought to watch over the
form of the public registry of marriages, baptisms, and deaths, without
any regard to the creed of the different inhabitants of the State.

Similar reasons in relation to police and good government--do they not
require an exact registry in the hands of the magistracy of all those
who make vows, and enter convents in those countries in which convents
are permitted?

In the sacrament of repentance, the minister who refuses or grants
absolution is accountable for his judgment only to God; and in the same
manner, the penitent is accountable to God alone, whether he consummates
it all, or does so well or ill.

No pastor, himself a sinner, ought to have the right of publicly
refusing, on his own private authority, the eucharist to another sinner.
The sinless Jesus Christ refused not the communion to Judas.

Extreme unction and the viaticum, if demanded or requested by the sick,
should be governed by the same, rule. The simple right of the minister
is to exhort the sick person, and it is the duty of the magistrate to
take care that the pastor abuse not circumstances, in order to persecute
the invalid.

Formerly, it was the Church collectively which called the pastors, and
conferred upon them the right of governing and instructing the flock. At
present, ecclesiastics alone consecrate others, and the magistracy ought
to be watchful of this privilege.

It is doubtless a great, though ancient abuse, that of conferring orders
without functions; it is depriving the State of members, without adding
to the Church. The magistrate is called upon to reform this abuse.

Marriage, in a civil sense, is the legitimate union of a man with a
woman for the procreation of children, to secure their due nurture and
education, and in order to assure unto them their rights and properties
under the protection of the laws. In order to confirm and establish this
union, it is accompanied by a religious ceremony, regarded by some as a
sacrament, and by others as a portion of public worship; a genuine
logomachy, which changes nothing in the thing. Two points are therefore
to be distinguished in marriage--the civil contract, or natural
engagement, and the sacrament, or sacred ceremony. Marriage may
therefore exist, with all its natural and civil effects, independently
of the religious ceremony. The ceremonies of the Church are only
essential to civil order, because the State has adopted them. A long
time elapsed before the ministers of religion had anything to do with
marriage. In the time of Justinian, the agreement of the parties, in the
presence of witnesses, without any ceremonies of the Church, legalized
marriages among Christians. It was that emperor who, towards the middle
of the sixth century, made the first laws by which the presence of
priests was required, as simple witnesses, without, however, prescribing
any nuptial benediction. The emperor Leo, who died in 886, seems to have
been the first who placed the religious ceremony in the number of
necessary conditions. The terms of the law itself indeed, which ordains
it, prove it to have been a novelty.

From the correct idea which we now form of marriage, it results in the
first place, that good order, and even piety, render religious forms
adopted in all Christian countries necessary. But the essence of
marriage cannot be denationalized, and this engagement, which is the
principal one in society, ought uniformly, as a branch of civil and
political order, to be placed under the authority of the magistracy.

It follows, therefore, that a married couple, even educated in the
worship of infidels and heretics, are not obliged to marry again, if
they have been united agreeably to the established forms of their own
country; and it is for the magistrate in all such instances to
investigate the state of the case.

The priest is at present the magistrate freely nominated by the law, in
certain countries, to receive the pledged faith of persons wishing to
marry. It is very evident, that the law can modify or change as it
pleases the extent of this ecclesiastical authority.

Wills and funerals are incontestably under the authority of the civil
magistracy and the police. The clergy have never been allowed to usurp
the authority of the law in respect to these. In the age of Louis XIV.
however, and even in that of Louis XV., striking examples have been
witnessed of the endeavors of certain fanatical ecclesiastics to
interfere in the regulation of funerals. Under the pretext of heresy,
they refused the sacraments, and interment; a barbarity which Pagans
would have held in horror.


_Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction._

The sovereign or State may, without doubt, give up to an ecclesiastical
body, or a single priest, a jurisdiction over certain objects and
certain persons, with a power suitable to the authority confided. I
examine not into the prudence of remitting a certain portion of civil
authority into the hands of any body or person who already enjoys an
authority in things spiritual. To deliver to those who ought to be
solely employed in conducting men to heaven, an authority upon earth, is
to produce a union of two powers, the abuse of which is only too easy;
but at least it is evident that any man, as well as an ecclesiastic, may
be intrusted with the same jurisdiction. By whomsoever possessed, it has
either been conceded by the sovereign power, or usurped; there is no
medium. The kingdom of Jesus Christ is not of this world; he refused to
be a judge upon earth, and ordered that men should give unto Cæsar the
things which belonged unto Cæsar: he forbade all dominations to his
apostles, and preached only humility, gentleness, and dependence. From
him ecclesiastics can derive neither power, authority, domination, nor
jurisdiction in this world. They can therefore possess no legitimate
authority, but by a concession from the sovereign or State, from which
all authority in a society can properly emanate.

There was a time in the unhappy epoch of the feudal ages in which
ecclesiastics were possessed in various countries with the principal
functions of the magistracy: the authority of the lords of the lay
fiefs, so formidable to the sovereign and oppressive to the people, has
been since bounded; but a portion of the independence of the
ecclesiastical jurisdictions still exists. When will sovereigns be
sufficiently informed and courageous to take back from them the usurped
authority and numerous privileges which they have so often abused, to
annoy the flock which they ought to protect?

It is by this inadvertence of princes that the audacious enterprises of
ecclesiastics against sovereigns themselves have originated. The
scandalous history of these attempts has been consigned to records which
cannot be contested. The bull "_In cœna Domini_," in particular,
still remains to prove the continual enterprises of the clergy against
royal and civil authority.

_Extract from the Tariff of the Rights Exacted in France by the Court of
Rome for Bulls, Dispensations, Absolutions, etc., which Tariff was
Decreed in the King's Council, Sept. 4, 1691, and Which is Reported
Entire in the Brief of James Lepelletier, Printed at Lyons in 1699, with
the Approbation and Permission of the King. Lyons: Printed for Anthony
Boudet, Eighth Edition._

1. For absolution for the crime of apostasy, payable to the pope,
twenty-four livres.

2. A bastard wishing to take orders must pay twenty-five livres for a
dispensation; if desirous to possess a benefice, he must pay in addition
one hundred and eighty livres; if anxious that his dispensation should
not allude to his illegitimacy, he will have to pay a thousand and fifty

3. For dispensation and absolution of bigamy, one thousand and fifty

4. For a dispensation for the error of a false judgment in the
administration of justice or the exercise of medicine, ninety livres.

5. Absolution for heresy, twenty-four livres.

6. Brief of forty hours, for seven years, twelve livres.

7. Absolution for having committed homicide in self-defence, or
undesignedly, ninety-five livres. All in company of the murderer also
need absolution, and are to pay for the same eighty-five livres each.

8. Indulgences for seven years, twelve livres.

9. Perpetual indulgences for a brotherhood, forty livres.

10. Dispensation for irregularity and incapacity, twenty-five livres; if
the irregularity is great, fifty livres.

11. For permission to read forbidden books, twenty-five livres.

12. Dispensation for simony, forty livres; with an augmentation
according to circumstances.

13. Brief to permit the eating of forbidden meats, sixty-five livres.

14. Dispensation for simple vows of chastity or of religion, fifteen
livres. Brief declaratory of the nullity of the profession of a monk or
a nun, one hundred livres. If this brief be requested ten years after
profession, double the amount.

_Dispensations in Relation to Marriage._

Dispensations for the fourth degree of relationship, with cause,
sixty-five livres; without cause, ninety livres; with dispensation for
familiarities that have passed between the future married persons, one
hundred and eighty livres.

For relations of the third or fourth degree, both on the side of the
father and mother, without cause, eight hundred and eighty livres; with
cause, one hundred and forty-five livres.

For relations of the second degree on one side, and the fourth on the
other; nobles to pay one thousand four hundred and thirty livres;
roturiers, one thousand one hundred and fifty livres.

He who would marry the sister of the girl to whom he has been affianced,
to pay for a dispensation, one thousand four hundred and thirty livres.

Those who are relations in the third degree, if they are nobles, or live
creditably, are to pay one thousand four hundred and thirty livres; if
the relationship is on the side of father as well as mother, two
thousand four hundred and thirty livres.

Relations in the second degree to pay four thousand five hundred and
thirty livres; and if the female has accorded favors to the male, in
addition for absolution, two thousand and thirty livres.

For those who have stood sponsors at the baptism of the children of each
other, the dispensation will cost two thousand seven hundred and thirty
livres. If they would be absolved from premature familiarity, one
thousand three hundred and thirty livres in addition.

He who has enjoyed the favors of a widow during the life of her deceased
husband, in order to legitimately espouse her, will have to pay one
hundred and ninety livres.

In Spain and Portugal, the marriage dispensations are still dearer.
Cousins-german cannot obtain them for less than two thousand crowns.

The poor not being able to pay these taxes, abatements may be made. It
is better to obtain half a right, than lose all by refusing the

No reference is had here to the sums paid to the pope for the bulls of
bishops, abbots, etc., which are to be found in the almanacs; but we
cannot perceive by what authority the pope of Rome levies taxes upon
laymen who choose to marry their cousins.


The progress of rivers to the ocean is not so rapid as that of man to
error. It is not long since it was discovered that all rivers originate
in those eternal masses of snow which cover the summits of lofty
mountains, those snows in rain, that rain in the vapor exhaled from the
land and sea; and that thus everything is a link in the great chain of

When a boy, I heard theses delivered which proved that all rivers and
fountains came from the sea. This was the opinion of all antiquity.
These rivers flowed into immense caverns, and thence distributed their
waters to all parts of the world.

When Aristeus goes to lament the loss of his bees to Cyrene his mother,
goddess of the little river Enipus in Thessaly, the river immediately
divides itself, forming as it were two mountains of water, right and
left, to receive him according to ancient and immemorial usage; after
which he has a view of those vast and beautiful grottoes through which
flow all the rivers of the earth; the Po, which descends from Mount Viso
in Piedmont, and traverses Italy; the Teverone, which comes from the
Apennines; the Phasis, which issues from Mount Caucasus, and falls into
the Black Sea; and numberless others.

Virgil, in this instance, adopted a strange system of natural
philosophy, in which certainly none but poets can be indulged.

Such, however, was the credit and prevalence of this system that,
fifteen hundred years afterwards, Tasso completely imitated Virgil in
his fourteenth canto, while imitating at the same time with far greater
felicity Ariosto. An old Christian magician conducts underground the two
knights who are to bring back Rinaldo from the arms of Armida, as
Melissa had rescued Rogero from the caresses of Alcina. This venerable
sage makes Rinaldo descend into his grotto, from which issue all the
rivers which refresh and fertilize our earth. It is a pity that the
rivers of America are not among the number. But as the Nile, the Danube,
the Seine, the Jordan, and the Volga have their source in this cavern,
that ought to be deemed sufficient. What is still more in conformity to
the physics of antiquity is the circumstance of this grotto or cavern
being in the very centre of the earth. Of course, it is here that
Maupertuis wanted to take a tour.

After admitting that rivers spring from mountains, and that both of them
are essential parts of this great machine, let us beware how we give in
to varying and vanishing systems.

When Maillet imagined that the sea had formed the mountains, he should
have dedicated his book to Cyrano de Bergerac. When it has been said,
also, that the great chains of mountains extend from east to west, and
that the greatest number of rivers also flow always to the west, the
spirit of system has been more consulted than the truth of nature.

With respect to mountains, disembark at the Cape of Good Hope, you will
perceive a chain of mountains from the south as far north as Monomotapa.
Only a few persons have visited that quarter of the world, and travelled
under the line in Africa. But Calpe and Abila are completely in the
direction of north and south. From Gibraltar to the river Guadiana, in a
course directly northward, there is a continuous range of mountains. New
and Old Castile are covered with them, and the direction of them all is
from south to north, like that of all the mountains in America. With
respect to the rivers, they flow precisely according to the disposition
or direction of the land.

The Guadalquivir runs straight to the south from Villanueva to San
Lucar; the Guadiana the same, as far as Badajos. All the rivers in the
Gulf of Venice, except the Po, fall into the sea towards the south. Such
is the course of the Rhone from Lyons to its mouth. That of the Seine is
from the north-northwest. The Rhine, from Basle, goes straight to the
north. The Meuse does the same, from its source to the territory
overflowed by its waters. The Scheldt also does the same.

Why, then, should men be so assiduous in deceiving themselves, just for
the pleasure of forming systems, and leading astray persons of weak and
ignorant minds? What good can possibly arise from inducing a number of
people--who must inevitably be soon undeceived--to believe that all
rivers and all mountains are in a direction from east to west, or from
west to east; that all mountains are covered with oyster-shells--which
is most certainly false--that anchors have been found on the summit of
the mountains of Switzerland; that these mountains have been formed by
the currents of the ocean; and that limestone is composed entirely of
seashells? What! shall we, at the present day, treat philosophy as the
ancients formerly treated history?

To return to streams and rivers. The most important and valuable things
that can be done in relation to them is preventing their inundations,
and making new rivers--that is, canals--out of those already existing,
wherever the undertaking is practicable and beneficial. This is one of
the most useful services that can be conferred upon a nation. The canals
of Egypt were as serviceable as its pyramids were useless.

With regard to the quantity of water conveyed along the beds of rivers,
and everything relating to calculation on the subject, read the article
on "River," by M. d'Alembert. It is, like everything else done by him,
clear, exact, and true; and written in a style adapted to the subject;
he does not employ the style of Telemachus to discuss subjects of
natural philosophy.


It was not until lately that the modern nations of Europe began to
render roads practicable and convenient, and to bestow on them some
beauty. To superintend and keep in order the road is one of the most
important cares of both the Mogul and Chinese emperors. But these
princes never attained such eminence in this department as the Romans.
The Appian, the Aurelian, the Flaminian, the Æmilian, and the Trajan
ways exist even at the present day. The Romans alone were capable of
constructing such roads, and they alone were capable of repairing them.

Bergier, who has written an otherwise valuable book, insists much on
Solomon's employing thirty thousand Jews in cutting wood on Mount
Lebanon, eighty thousand in building the temple, seventy thousand on
carriages, and three thousand six hundred in superintending the labors
of others. We will for a moment admit it all to be true; yet still there
is nothing said about his making or repairing highways.

Pliny informs us that three hundred thousand men were employed for
twenty years in building one of the pyramids of Egypt; I am not disposed
to doubt it; but surely three hundred thousand men might have been much
better employed. Those who worked on the canals in Egypt; or on the
great wall, the canals, or highways of China; or those who constructed
the celebrated ways of the Roman Empire were much more usefully occupied
than the three hundred thousand miserable slaves in building a pyramidal
sepulchre for the corpse of a bigoted Egyptian.

We are well acquainted with the prodigious works accomplished by the
Romans, their immense excavations for lakes of water, or the beds of
lakes formed by nature, filled up, hills levelled, and a passage bored
through a mountain by Vespasian, in the Flaminian way, for more than a
thousand feet in length, the inscription on which remains at present.
Pausilippo is not to be compared with it.

The foundations of the greater part of our present houses are far from
being so solid as were the highways in the neighborhood of Rome; and
these public ways were extended throughout the empire, although not upon
the same scale of duration and solidity. To effect that would have
required more men and money than could possibly have been obtained.

Almost all the highways of Italy were erected on a foundation four feet
deep; when a space of marshy ground or bog was on the track of the road,
it was filled up; and when any part of it was mountainous, its
pretipitousness was reduced to a gentle and trifling inclination from
the general line of the road. In many parts, the roads were supported by
solid walls.

Upon the four feet of masonry, were placed large hewn stones of marble,
nearly one foot in thickness, and frequently ten feet wide; they were
indented by the chisel to prevent the slipping of the horses. It was
difficult to say which most attracted admiration--the utility or the
magnificence of these astonishing works.

Nearly all of these wonderful constructions were raised at the public
expense. Cæsar repaired and extended the Appian way out of his own
private funds; those funds, however, consisted of the money of the

Who were the persons employed upon these works? Slaves, captives taken
in war, and provincials that were not admitted to the distinction of
Roman citizens. They worked by "_corvée_," as they do in France and
elsewhere; but some trifling remuneration was allowed them.

Augustus was the first who joined the legions with the people in labors
upon the highways of the Gauls, and in Spain and Asia. He penetrated the
Alps by the valley which bore his name, and which the Piedmontese and
the French corruptly called the "Valley of Aöste." It was previously
necessary to bring under subjection all the savage hordes by which these
cantons were inhabited. There is still visible, between Great and Little
St. Bernard, the triumphal arch erected by the senate in honor of him
after this expedition. He again penetrated the Alps on another side
leading to Lyons, and thence into the whole of Gaul. The conquered never
effected for themselves so much as was effected for them by their

The downfall of the Roman Empire was that of all the public works, as
also of all orderly police, art, and industry. The great roads
disappeared in the Gauls, except some causeways, "_chaussées_," which
the unfortunate Queen Brunehilde kept for a little time in repair. A man
could scarcely move on horseback with safety on the ancient celebrated
ways, which were now becoming dreadfully broken up, and impeded by
masses of stone and mud. It was found necessary to pass over the
cultivated fields; the ploughs scarcely effected in a month what they
now easily accomplish in a week. The little commerce that remained was
limited to a few woollen and linen cloths, and some wretchedly wrought
hardwares, which were carried on the backs of mules to the
fortifications or prisons called "_châteaux_" situated in the midst of
marshes, or on the tops of mountains covered with snow.

Whatever travelling was accomplished--and it could be but little--during
the severe seasons of the year, so long and so tedious in northern
climates, could be effected only by wading through mud or climbing over
rocks. Such was the state of the whole of France and Germany down to the
middle of the seventeenth century. Every individual wore boots; and in
many of the cities of Germany the inhabitants went into the streets on

At length, under Louis XIV., were begun those great roads which other
nations have imitated. Their width was limited to sixty feet in the year
1720. They are bordered by trees in many places to the extent of thirty
leagues from the capital, which has a most interesting and delightful
effect. The Roman military ways were only sixteen feet wide, but were
infinitely more solid. It was necessary to repair them every year, as is
the practice with us. They were embellished by monuments, by military
columns, and even by magnificent tombs; for it was not permitted, either
in Greece or Italy, to bury the dead within the walls of cities, and
still less within those of temples; to do so would have been no less an
offence than sacrilege. It was not then as it is at present in our
churches, in which, for a sum of money, ostentatious and barbarous
vanity is allowed to deposit the dead bodies of wealthy citizens,
infecting the very place where men assemble to adore their God in
purity, and where incense seems to be burned solely to counteract the
stench of carcasses; while the poorer classes are deposited in the
adjoining cemetery; and both unite their fatal influence to spread
contagion among survivors.

The emperors were almost the only persons whose ashes were permitted to
repose in the monuments erected at Rome.

Highways, sixty feet in width, occupy too much land; it is about forty
feet more than necessary. France measures two hundred leagues, or
thereabouts, from the mouth of the Rhone to the extremity of Brittany,
and about the same from Perpignan to Dunkirk; reckoning the league at
two thousand five hundred toises. This calculation requires, merely for
two great roads, a hundred and twenty millions of square feet of land,
all which must of course be lost to agriculture. This loss is very
considerable in a country where the harvests are by no means always

An attempt was made to pave the high road from Orleans, which was not of
the width above mentioned; but it was seen, in no long time, that
nothing could be worse contrived for a road constantly covered with
heavy carriages. Of these hewn paving stones laid on the ground, some
will be constantly sinking, and others rising above the correct level,
and the road becomes rugged, broken, and impracticable; it was therefore
found necessary that the plan should be abandoned.

Roads covered with gravel and sand require a renewal of labor every
year; this labor interferes with the cultivation of land, and is ruinous
to agriculture.

M. Turgot, son of the mayor of Paris--whose name is never mentioned in
that city but with blessings, and who was one of the most enlightened,
patriotic, and zealous of magistrates--and the humane and beneficent M.
de Fontette have done all in their power, in the provinces of Limousin
and Normandy, to correct this most serious inconvenience.

It has been contended that we should follow the example of Augustus and
Trajan, and employ our troops in the construction of highways. But in
that case the soldier must necessarily have an increase of pay; and a
kingdom, which was nothing but a province of the Roman Empire, and which
is often involved in debt, can rarely engage in such undertakings as the
Roman Empire accomplished without difficulty.

It is a very commendable practice in the Low Countries, to require the
payment of a moderate toll from all carriages, in order to keep the
public roads in proper repair. The burden is a very light one. The
peasant is relieved from the old system of vexation and oppression, and
the roads are in such fine preservation as to form even an agreeable
continued promenade.

Canals are much more useful still. The Chinese surpass all other people
in these works, which require continual attention and repair. Louis
XIV., Colbert, and Riquet, have immortalized themselves by the canal
which joins the two seas. They have never been as yet imitated. It is no
difficult matter to travel through a great part of France by canals.
Nothing could be more easy in Germany than to join the Rhine to the
Danube; but men appear to prefer ruining one another's fortunes, and
cutting each other's throats about a few paltry villages, to extending
the grand means of human happiness.


The Theurgists and ancient sages had always a rod with which they

Mercury passes for the first whose rod worked miracles. It is asserted
that Zoroaster also bore a great rod. The rod of the ancient Bacchus was
his Thyrsus, with which he separated the waters of the Orontes, the
Hydaspus, and the Red Sea. The rod of Hercules was his club. Pythagoras
was always represented with his rod. It is said it was of gold; and it
is not surprising that, having a thigh of gold, he should possess a rod
of the same metal.

Abaris, priest of the hyperborean Apollo, who it is pretended was
contemporary with Pythagoras, was still more famous for his rod. It was
indeed only of wood, but he traversed the air astride of it. Porphyry
and Iamblichus pretend that these two grand Theurgists, Abaris and
Pythagoras, amicably exhibited their rods to each other.

The rod, with sages, was at all times a sign of their superiority. The
sorcerers of the privy council of Pharaoh at first effected as many
feats with their rods as Moses with his own. The judicious Calmet
informs us, in his "Dissertation on the Book of Exodus," that "these
operations of the Magi were not miracles, properly speaking, but
metamorphoses, viz.: singular and difficult indeed, but nevertheless
neither contrary to nor above the laws of nature." The rod of Moses had
the superiority, which it ought to have, over those of the Chotins of

Not only did the rod of Aaron share in the honor of the prodigies of
that of his brother Moses, but he performed some admirable things with
his own. No one can be ignorant that, out of thirteen rods, Aaron's
alone blossomed, and bore buds and flowers of almonds.

The devil, who, as is well known, is a wicked aper of the deeds of
saints, would also have his rod or wand, with which he gratified the
sorcerers: Medea and Circe were always armed with this mysterious
instrument. Hence, a magician never appears at the opera without his
rod, and on which account they call their parts, "_rôles de baguette_."
No performer with cups and balls can manage his hey presto! without his
rod or wand.

Springs of water and hidden treasures are discovered by means of a rod
made of a hazel twig, which fails not to press the hand of a fool who
holds it too fast, but which turns about easily in that of a knave. M.
Formey, secretary of the academy of Berlin, explains this phenomenon by
that of the loadstone. All the conjurers of past times, it was thought,
repaired to a sabbath or assembly on a magic rod or on a broom-stick;
and judges, who were no conjurers, burned them.

Birchen rods are formed of a handful of twigs of that tree with which
malefactors are scourged on the back. It is indecent and shameful to
scourge in this manner the posteriors of young boys and girls; a
punishment which was formerly that of slaves. I have seen, in some
colleges, barbarians who have stripped children almost naked; a kind of
executioner, often intoxicated, lacerate them with long rods, which
frequently covered them with blood, and produced extreme inflammation.
Others struck them more gently, which from natural causes has been known
to produce consequences, especially in females, scarcely less

By an incomprehensible species of police, the Jesuits of Paraguay
whipped the fathers and mothers of families on their posteriors. Had
there been no other motive for driving out the Jesuits, that would have


Before the time of Constantine, the bishop of Rome was considered by the
Roman magistrates, who were unacquainted with our holy religion, only as
the chief of a sect, frequently tolerated by the government, but
frequently experiencing from it capital punishment. The names of the
first disciples, who were by birth Jews, and of their successors, who
governed the little flock concealed in the immense city of Rome, were
absolutely unknown by all the Latin writers. We well know that
everything was changed, and in what manner everything was changed under

The bishop of Rome, protected and enriched as he was, was always in
subjection to the emperors, like the bishop of Constantinople, and of
Nicomedia, and every other, not making even the slightest pretension to
the shadow of sovereign authority. Fatality, which guides the affairs of
the universe, finally established the power of the ecclesiastical Roman
court, by the hands of the barbarians who destroyed the empire.

The ancient religion, under which the Romans had been victorious for
such a series of ages, existed still in the hearts of the population,
notwithstanding all the efforts of persecution, when, in the four
hundred and eighth year of our era, Alaric invaded Italy and beseiged
Rome. Pope Innocent I. indeed did not think proper to forbid the
inhabitants of that city sacrificing to the gods in the capitol, and in
the other temples, in order to obtain the assistance of heaven against
the Goths. But this same Pope Innocent, if we may credit Zosimus and
Orosius, was one of the deputation sent to treat with Alaric, a
circumstance which shows that the pope was at that time regarded as a
person of considerable consequence.

When Attila came to ravage Italy in 452, by the same right which the
Romans themselves had exercised over so many and such powerful nations;
by the right of Clovis, of the Goths, of the Vandals, and the Heruli,
the emperor sent Pope Leo I., assisted by two personages of consular
dignity, to negotiate with that conqueror. I have no doubt, that
agreeably to what we are positively told, St. Leo was accompanied by an
angel, armed with a flaming sword, which made the king of the Huns
tremble, although he had no faith in angels, and a single sword was not
exceedingly likely to inspire him with fear. This miracle is very finely
painted in the Vatican, and nothing can be clearer than that it never
would have been painted unless it had actually been true. What
particularly vexes and perplexes me is this angel's suffering Aquileia,
and the whole of Illyria, to be sacked and ravaged, and also his not
preventing Genseric, at a later period, from giving up Rome to his
soldiers for fourteen days of plunder. It was evidently not the angel of

Under the exarchs, the credit and influence of the popes augmented, but
even then they had not the smallest degree of civil power. The Roman
bishop, elected by the people, craved protection for the bishop, of the
exarch of Ravenna, who had the power of confirming or of cancelling the

After the exarchate was destroyed by the Lombards, the Lombard kings
were desirous of becoming masters also of the city of Rome; nothing
could certainly be more natural.

Pepin, the usurper of France, would not suffer the Lombards to usurp
that capital, and so become too powerful against himself; nothing again
can be more natural than this.

It is pretended that Pepin and his son Charlemagne gave to the Roman
bishops many lands of the exarchate, which was designated the Justices
of St. Peter--"_les Justices de St. Pierre_." Such is the real origin of
their temporal power. From this period, these bishops appear to have
assiduously exerted themselves to obtain something of rather more
consideration and of more consequence than these justices.

We are in possession of a letter from Pope Arian I. to Charlemagne, in
which he says, "The pious liberality of the emperor Constantine the
Great, of sacred memory, raised and exalted, in the time of the blessed
Roman Pontiff, Sylvester, the holy Roman Church, and conferred upon it
his own power in this portion of Italy."

From this time, we perceive, it was attempted to make the world believe
in what is called the Donation of Constantine, which was, in the sequel,
for a period of five hundred years, not merely regarded as an article of
faith, but an incontestable truth. To entertain doubts on the subject of
this donation included at once the crime of treason and the guilt of
mortal sin.

After the death of Charlemagne, the bishop augmented his authority in
Rome from day to day; but centuries passed away before he came to be
considered as a sovereign prince. Rome had for a long period a patrician
municipal government.

Pope John XII., whom Otho I., emperor of Germany, procured to be deposed
in a sort of council, in 963, as simoniacal, incestuous, sodomitical, an
atheist, in league with the devil, was the first man in Italy as
patrician and consul, before he became bishop of Rome; and
notwithstanding all these titles and claims, notwithstanding the
influence of the celebrated Marosia, his mother, his authority was
always questioned and contested.

Gregory VII., who from the rank of a monk became pope, and pretended to
depose kings and bestow empires, far from being in fact complete master
of Rome, died under the protection, or rather as the prisoner of those
Norman princes who conquered the two Sicilies, of which he considered
himself the paramount lord.

In the grand schism of the West, the popes who contended for the empire
of the world frequently supported themselves on alms.

It is a fact not a little extraordinary that the popes did not become
rich till after the period when they dared not to exhibit themselves at

According to Villani, Bertrand de Goth, Clement V. of Bordeaux, who
passed his life in France, sold benefices publicly, and at his death
left behind him vast treasures.

The same Villani asserts that he died worth twenty-five millions of gold
florins. St. Peter's patrimony could not certainly have brought him such
a sum.

In a word, down to the time of Innocent VIII., who, made himself master
of the castle of St. Angelo, the popes never possessed in Rome actual

Their spiritual authority was undoubtedly the foundation of their
temporal; but had they confined themselves to imitating the conduct of
St. Peter, whose place it was pretended they filled, they would never
have obtained any other kingdom than that of heaven. Their policy always
contrived to prevent the emperors from establishing themselves at Rome,
notwithstanding the fine and flattering title of "king of the Romans."
The Guelph faction always prevailed in Italy over the Ghibelline. The
Romans were more disposed to obey an Italian priest than a German king.

In the civil wars, which the quarrel between the empire and the
priesthood excited and kept alive for a period of five hundred years,
many lords obtained sovereignties, sometimes in quality of vicars of the
empire, and sometimes in that of vicars of the Holy See. Such were the
princes of Este at Ferrara, the Bentivoglios at Bologna, the Malatestas
at Rimini, the Manfredis at Faenza, the Bagliones at Perouse, the Ursins
in Anguillara and in Serveti, the Collonas in Ostia, the Riarios at
Forli, the Montefeltros in Urbino, the Varanos in Camerino, and the
Gravinas in Senigaglia.

All these lords had as much right to the territories they possessed as
the popes had to the patrimony of St. Peter; both were founded upon

It is known in what manner Pope Alexander VI. made use of his bastard to
invade and take possession of all these principalities. King Louis XII.
obtained from that pope the cancelling of his marriage, after a
cohabitation of eighteen years, on condition of his assisting the

The assassinations committed by Clovis to gain possession of the
territories of the petty kings who were his neighbors, bear no
comparison to the horrors exhibited on this occasion by Alexander and
his son.

The history of Nero himself is less abominable; the atrocity of whose
crimes was not increased by the pretext of religion; and it is worth
observing, that at the very time these diabolical excesses were
performed, the kings of Spain and Portugal were suing to that pope, one
of them for America, and the other for Asia, which the monster
accordingly granted them in the name of that God he pretended to
represent. It is also worth observing that not fewer than a hundred
thousand pilgrims flocked to his jubilee and prostrated themselves in
adoration of his person.

Julius II. completed what Alexander had begun. Louis XII., born to
become the dupe of all his neighbors, assisted Julius in seizing upon
Bologna and Perouse. That unfortunate monarch, in return for his
services, was driven out of Italy, and excommunicated by the very pope
whom the archbishop of Auch, the king's ambassador at Rome, addressed
with the words "your wickedness," instead of "your holiness."

To complete his mortification, Anne of Brittany, his wife, a woman as
devout as she was imperious, told him in plain terms, that he would be
damned for going to war with the pope.

If Leo X. and Clement VII. lost so many states which withdrew from the
papal communion, their power continued no less absolute than before over
the provinces which still adhered to the Catholic faith. The court of
Rome excommunicated the emperor Henry III., and declared Henry IV.
unworthy to reign.

It still draws large sums from all the Catholic states of Germany, from
Hungary, Poland, Spain, and France. Its ambassadors take precedence of
all others; it is no longer sufficiently powerful to carry on war; and
its weakness is in fact its happiness. The ecclesiastical state is the
only one that has regularly enjoyed the advantages of peace since the
sacking of Rome by the troops of Charles V. It appears, that the popes
have been often treated like the gods of the Japanese, who are sometimes
presented with offerings of gold, and sometimes thrown into the river.


Whether the celebrated isle of Samothrace be at the mouth of the river
Hebrus, as it is said to be in almost all the geographical dictionaries,
or whether it be twenty miles distant from it, which is in fact the
case, is not what I am now investigating.

This isle was for a long time the most famous in the whole archipelago,
and even in the whole world. Its deities called Cabiri, its hierophants,
and its mysteries, conferred upon it as much reputation as was obtained
not long since by St. Patrick's cave in Ireland.

This Samothrace, the modern name of which is Samandrachi, is a rock
covered with a very thin and barren soil, and inhabited by poor
fishermen. They would be extremely surprised at being told of the glory
which was formerly connected with their island; and they would probably
ask, What is glory?

I inquire, what were these hierophants, these holy free masons, who
celebrated their ancient mysteries in Samothrace, and whence did they
and their gods Cabiri come?

It is not probable that these poor people came from Phœnicia, as
Bochart infers by a long train of Hebrew etymologies, and as the Abbé
Barrier, after him, is of opinion also. It is not in this manner that
gods gain establishments in the world. They are like conquerors who
subjugate nations, not all at once, but one after another. The distance
from Phœnicia to this wretched island is too great to admit of the
supposition that the gods of the wealthy Sidon and the proud Tyre should
come to coop themselves up in this hermitage. Hierophants are not such

The fact is, that there were gods of the Cabiri, priests of the Cabiri,
and mysteries of the Cabiri, in this contemptible and miserable island.
Not only does Herodotus mention them, but the Phœnician historian
Sanchoniathon, who lived long before Herodotus, speaks of them in those
fragments which have been so fortunately preserved by Eusebius. What is
worse still, this Sanchoniathon, who certainly lived before the period
in which Moses flourished, cites the great Thaut, the first Hermes, the
first Mercury of Egypt; and this same great Thaut lived eight hundred
years before Sanchoniathon, as that Phœnician acknowledges himself.

The Cabiri were therefore in estimation and honor two thousand and three
or four hundred years before the Christian era.

Now, if you are desirous of knowing whence those gods of the Cabiri,
established in Samothrace, came, does it not seem probable that they
came from Thrace, the country nearest to that island, and that that
small island was granted them as a theatre on which to act their farces,
and pick up a little money? Orpheus might very possibly be the prime
minstrel of these gods.

But who were these gods? They were what all the gods of antiquity were,
phantoms invented by coarse and vulgar knaves, sculptured by artisans
coarser still, and adored by brutes having the name of men.

There were three sorts of Cabiri; for, as we have already observed,
everything in antiquity was done by threes. Orpheus could not have made
his appearance in the world until long after the invention of these
three gods; for he admits only one in his mysteries. I am much disposed
to consider Orpheus as having been a strict Socinian.

I regard the ancient gods Cabiri as having been the first gods of
Thrace, whatever Greek names may have been afterwards given to them.

There is something, however, still more curious, respecting the history
of Samothrace. We know that Greece and Thrace were formerly afflicted
by many inundations. We have read of the deluges of Deucaleon and
Ogyges. The isle of Samothrace boasted of a yet more ancient deluge; and
its deluge corresponds, in point of time, with the period in which it is
contended that the ancient king of Thrace, Xixuter, lived, whom we have
spoken of under the article on "Ararat."

You may probably recollect that the gods of Xixuter, or Xissuter, who
were in all probability the Cabiri, commanded him to build a vessel
about thirty thousand feet long, and a hundred and twelve wide; that
this vessel sailed for a long time over the mountains of Armenia during
the deluge; that, having taken on board with him some pigeons and many
other domestic animals, he let loose his pigeons to ascertain whether
the waters had withdrawn; and that they returned covered with dirt and
slime, which induced Xixuter to resolve on disembarking from his immense

You will say that it is a most extraordinary circumstance that
Sanchoniathon does not make any mention of this curious adventure. I
reply, that it is impossible for us to decide whether it was mentioned
in his history or not, as Eusebius, who has only transmitted to us some
fragments of this very ancient historian, had no particular inducement
to quote any passage that might have existed in his work respecting the
ship and pigeons. Berosus, however, relates the case, and he connects it
with the marvellous, according to the general practice of the ancients.
The inhabitants of Samothrace had erected monuments of this deluge.

What is more extraordinary and astonishing still is, as indeed we have
already partly remarked, that neither Greece nor Thrace, nor the people
of any other country, ever knew anything of the real and great deluge,
the deluge of Noah.

How could it be possible, we once more ask, that an event so awful and
appalling as that of the submersion of the whole earth should be unknown
by the survivors? How could the name of our common father, Noah, who
re-peopled the world, be unknown to all those who were indebted to him
for life? It is the most prodigious of all progidies, that, of so many
grandchildren, not one should have ever spoken of his grandfather!

I have applied to all the learned men that I have seen, and said, Have
you ever met with any old work in Greek, Tuscan, Arabian, Egyptian,
Chaldæan, Indian, Persian, or Chinese, in which the name of Noah is to
be found? They have all replied in the negative. This is a fact that
perpetually perplexes and confounds me.

But that the history of this universal inundation should be found in a
single page of a book written in the wilderness by fugitives, and that
this page should have been unknown to all the rest of the world till
about nine hundred years after the foundation of Rome--this perfectly
petrifies me. I cannot not recover from its impression. The effect
is completely overpowering. My worthy reader, let us both together
exclaim: "_O altitudo ignorantiarum!_"

[Illustration: Samson Destroying the Temple.]


In quality of poor alphabetical compilers, collectors of anecdotes,
gatherers of trifles, pickers of rags at the corners of the streets, we
glorify ourselves with all the pride attached to our sublime science, on
having discovered that "Samson the Strong," a tragedy, was played at the
close of the sixteenth century, in the town of Rouen, and that it was
printed by Abraham Couturier. John Milton, for a long time a
schoolmaster of London, afterwards Latin secretary to the protector,
Cromwell--Milton, the author of "Paradise Lost" and "Paradise
Regained"--wrote the tragedy of "Samson Agonistes"; and it is very
unfortunate that we cannot tell in what year.

We know, however, that it has been printed with a preface, in which much
is boasted, by one of our brethren, the commentator named Paræus, who
first perceived by the force of his genius, that the Apocalypse is a
tragedy. On the strength of this discovery he divided the Apocalypse
into five acts, and inserted choruses worthy of the elegance and fine
nature of the piece. The author of this preface speaks to us of the fine
tragedies of St. Gregory of Nazianzen. He asserts, that a tragedy should
never have more than five acts, and to prove it, he gives us the
"Samson Agonistes" of Milton, which has but one. Those who like
elaborate declamation will be satisfied with this piece.

A comedy of Samson was played for a long time in Italy. A translation of
it was made in Paris in 1717, by one named Romagnesi; it was represented
on the French theatre of the pretended Italian comedy, formerly the
palace of the dukes of Burgundy. It was published, and dedicated to the
duke of Orleans, regent of France.

In this sublime piece, Arlequin, the servant of Samson, fights with a
turkey-cock, whilst his master carries off the gates of Gaza on his

In 1732, it was wished to represent, at the opera of Paris, a tragedy of
Samson, set to music by the celebrated Rameau; but it was not permitted.
There was neither Arlequin nor turkey-cock; but the thing appeared too
serious; besides, certain people were very glad to mortify Rameau, who
possessed great talents. Yet at that time they performed the opera of
"Jephthah," extracted from the Old Testament, and the comedy of the
"Prodigal Son," from the New Testament.

There is an old edition of the "Samson Agonistes" of Milton, preceded by
an abridgment of the history of the hero. The following is this

The Jews, to whom God promised by oath all the country which is between
the river of Egypt and the Euphrates, and who through their sins never
had this country, were on the contrary reduced to servitude, which
slavery lasted for forty years. Now there was a Jew of the tribe of Dan,
named Manoah; and the wife of this Manoah was barren; and an angel
appeared to this woman, and said to her, "Behold, thou shalt conceive
and bear a son; and now drink no wine nor strong drink, neither eat any
unclean thing; for the child shall be a Nazarite to God, from the womb
to the day of his death."

The angel afterwards appeared to the husband and wife; they gave him a
kid to eat; he would have none of it, and disappeared in the midst of
the smoke; and the woman said, We shall surely die, because we have seen
God; but they died not.

The slave Samson being born, was consecrated a Nazarite. As soon as he
was grown up, the first thing he did was to go to the Phœnician or
Philistine town of Timnath, to court a daughter of one of his masters,
whom he married.

In going to his mistress he met a lion, and tore him in pieces with his
naked hand, as he would have done a kid. Some days after, he found a
swarm of bees in the throat of the dead lion, with some honey, though
bees never rest on carrion.

Then he proposed this enigma to his companions: Out of the eater came
forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness: if you guess, I
will give you thirty tunics and thirty gowns; if not, you shall give me
thirty gowns and thirty tunics. The comrades, not being able to guess in
what the solution of the enigma consisted, gained over the young wife
of Samson; she drew the secret from her husband, and he was obliged to
give them thirty tunics and thirty gowns. "Ah," said he to them, "if ye
had not ploughed with my heifer, ye would not have found out my riddle."

Soon after, the father-in-law of Samson gave another husband to his

Samson, enraged at having lost his wife, immediately caught three
hundred foxes, tied them two together by the tails with lighted
firebrands, and they fired the corn of the Philistines.

The Jewish slaves, not being willing to be punished by their masters for
the exploits of Samson, surprised him in the cavern in which he dwelt,
tied him with great ropes, and delivered him to the Philistines. As soon
as he was in the midst of them, he broke his cords, and finding the
jawbone of an ass, with one effort he killed a thousand Philistines.
Such an effort making him very warm, he was dying of thirst, on which
God made a fountain spout from one of the teeth of the ass's jaw-bone.
Samson, having drunk, went into Gaza, a Philistine town; he there
immediately became smitten with a courtesan. As he slept with her, the
Philistines shut the gates of the town, and surrounded the house, when
he arose, took the gates, and carried them away. The Philistines, in
despair at not being able to overcome this hero, addressed themselves to
another courtesan named Delilah, with whom he afterwards slept. She
finally drew from him the secret in which his strength consisted: it was
only necessary to shave him, to render him equal to other men. He was
shaved, became weak, and his eyes being put out, he was made to turn a
mill and to play on the violin. One day, while playing in a Philistine
temple, between two of its columns, he became indignant that the
Philistines should have columned temples, whilst the Jews had only a
tabernacle supported on four poles. He also felt that his hair began to
grow; and being transported with a holy zeal, he pulled down the two
pillars; by which concussion the temple was overthrown, the Philistines
were crushed to death, and he with them.

Such is this preface, word for word.

This is the history which is the subject of the piece of Milton, and
Romagnesi: it is adapted to Italian farce.


This astonishing phenomenon, but not more astonishing than others, this
solid and luminous body, which surrounds the planet Saturn, which it
enlightens, and by which it is enlightened, whether by the feeble
reflection of the sun's rays, or by some unknown cause, was, according
to a dreamer who calls himself a philosopher, formerly a sea. This sea,
according to him, has hardened and become earth or rock; once it
gravitated towards two centres, whereas at present it gravitates only
towards one.

How pleasantly you proceed, my ingenious dreamer! how easily you
transform water into rock! Ovid was nothing in the comparison. What a
marvellous power you exercise over nature; imagination by no means
confounds you. Oh, greediness to utter novelties! Oh, fury for systems!
Oh, weakness of the human mind! If anyone has spoken of this reverie in
the "Encyclopædia," it is doubtless to ridicule it, without which other
nations would have a right to say: Behold the use which the French make
of the discovery of other people! Huyghens discovered the ring of
Saturn, and calculated its appearances; Hook and Flamstead have done the
same thing. A Frenchman has discovered that this solid body was even a
circular ocean, and this Frenchman is not Cyrano de Bergerac!


Without inquiring whether scandal originally meant a stone which might
occasion people to stumble and fall, or a quarrel, or a seduction, we
consider it here merely in its present sense and acceptation. A scandal
is a serious indecorum which is used generally in reference to the
clergy. The tales of Fontaine are libertine or licentious; many passages
of Sanchez, of Tambourin, and of Molina are scandalous.

A man is scandalous by his writings or by his conduct. The siege which
the Augustins maintained against the patrol, at the time of the Fronde,
was scandalous. The bankruptcy of the brother La Valette, of the Society
of Jesuits, was more than scandalous. The lawsuit carried on by the
reverend fathers of the order of the Capuchins of Paris, in 1764, was a
most satisfactory and delightful scandal to thousands. For the
edification of the reader, a word or two upon that subject in this place
will not be ill employed.

These reverend fathers had been fighting in their convent; some of them
had hidden their money, and others had stolen the concealed treasure. Up
to this point the scandal was only particular, a stone against which
only Capuchins could trip and tumble; but when the affair was brought
before the parliament, the scandal became public.

It is stated in the pleadings in the cause, that the convent of the St.
Honoré consumes twelve hundred pounds of bread a week, and meat and wood
in proportion; and that there are four collecting friars, "_quêteurs_,"
whose office it is, conformably to the term, to raise contributions in
the city. What a frightful, dreadful scandal! Twelve hundred pounds of
meat and bread per week for a few Capuchins, while so many artisans
overwhelmed with old age, and so many respectable widows, are exposed to
languish in want, and die in misery!

That the reverend father Dorotheus should have accumulated an income of
three thousand livres a year at the expense of the convent, and
consequently of the public, is not only an enormous scandal, but an
absolute robbery, and a robbery committed upon the most needy class of
citizens in Paris; for the poor are the persons who pay the tax imposed
by the mendicant monks. The ignorance and weakness of the people make
them imagine that they can never obtain heaven without parting with
their absolute necessaries, from which these monks derive their

This single brother, therefore, the chief of the convent, Dorotheus, to
make up his income of a thousand crowns a year, must have extorted from
the poor of Paris, no less a sum than twenty thousand crowns.

Consider, my good reader, that such cases are by no means rare, even in
this eighteenth century of our era, which has produced useful books to
expose abuses and enlighten minds; but, as I have before observed, the
people never read. A single Capuchin, Recollet, or Carmelite is capable
of doing more harm than the best books in the world will ever be able to
do good.

I would venture to propose to those who are really humane and
well-disposed, to employ throughout the capital a certain number of
anti-Capuchins and anti-Recollets, to go about from house to house
exhorting fathers and mothers to virtue, and to keep their money for the
maintenance of their families, and the support of their old age; to love
God with all their hearts, but to give none of their money to monks.
Let us return, however, to the real meaning of the word "scandal."

In the above-mentioned process on the subject of the Capuchin convent,
Brother Gregory is accused of being the father of a child by
Mademoiselle Bras-defer, and of having her afterwards married to
Moutard, the shoe-maker. It is not stated whether Brother Gregory
himself bestowed the nuptial benediction on his mistress and poor
Moutard, together with the required dispensation. If he did so, the
scandal is rendered as complete as possible; it includes fornication,
robbery, adultery, and sacrilege. "_Horresco referens_."

I say in the first place "fornication," as Brother Gregory committed
that offence with Magdalene Bras-defer, who was not at the time more
than fifteen years of age.

I also say "robbery," as he gave an apron and ribbons to Magdalene; and
it is clear he must have robbed the convent in order to purchase them,
and to pay for suppers, lodgings, and other expenses attending their

I say "adultery," as this depraved man continued his connection with
Magdalene after she became Madame Moutard.

And I say "sacrilege," as he was the confessor of Magdalene. And, if he
himself performed the marriage ceremony for his mistress, judge what
sort of man Brother Gregory must really have been.

One of our colleagues in this little collection of philosophic and
encyclopædic questions is now engaged on a moral work, on the subject of
scandal, against the opinion of Brother Patouillet. We hope it will not
be long before it sees the light.


All that we had written on the subject of the grand schism between the
Greeks and Latins, in the essay on the manners and spirit of nations,
has been inserted in the great encyclopædic dictionary. We will not here
repeat ourselves.

But when reflecting on the meaning of the word "schism," which signifies
a dividing or rending asunder, and considering also the present state of
Poland, divided and rent as it is in a manner the most pitiable, we
cannot help anew deploring that a malady so destructive should be
peculiar to Christians. This malady, which we have not described with
sufficient particularity, is a species of madness which first affects
the eyes and the mouth; the patient looks with an impatient and
resentful eye on the man who does not think exactly like himself, and
soon begins to pour out all the abuse and reviling that his command of
language will permit. The madness next seizes the hands; and the
unfortunate maniac writes what exhibits, in the most decided manner, the
inflamed and delirious state of the brain. He falls into demoniacal
convulsions, draws his sword, and fights with fury and desperation to
the last gasp. Medicine has never been able to find a remedy for this
dreadful disease. Time and philosophy alone can effect a cure.

The Poles are now the only people among whom this contagion at present
rages. We may almost believe that the disorder is born with them, like
their frightful plica. They are both diseases of the head, and of a most
noxious character. Cleanliness will cure the plica; wisdom alone can
extirpate schism.

We are told that both these diseases were unknown to the Samartians
while they were Pagans. The plica affects only the common people at
present, but all the evils originating in schism are corroding and
destroying the higher classes of the republic.

The cause of the evil is the fertility of their land, which produces too
much corn. It is a melancholy and deplorable case that even the blessing
of heaven should in fact have involved them in such direful calamity.
Some of the provinces have contended that it was absolutely necessary to
put leaven in their bread, but the greater part of the nation entertain
an obstinate and unalterable belief, that, on certain days of the year,
fermented bread is absolutely mortal.

Such is one of the principal causes of the schism or the rending asunder
of Poland; the dispute has infused acrimony into their blood. Other
causes have added to the effect.

Some have imagined, in the paroxysms and convulsions of the malady under
which they labor, that the Holy Spirit proceeded both from the Father
and the Son: and the others have exclaimed, that it proceeded from the
Father only. The two parties, one of which is called the Roman party,
and the other the Dissident, look upon each other as if they were
absolutely infected by the plague; but, by a singular symptom peculiar
to this complaint, the infected Dissidents have always shown an
inclination to approach the Catholics, while the Catholics on the other
hand have never manifested any to approach them.

There is no disease which does not vary in different circumstances and
situations. The diet, which is generally esteemed salutary, has been so
pernicious to this unhappy nation, that after the application of it in
1768, the cities of Uman, Zablotin, Tetiou, Zilianki, and Zafran were
destroyed and inundated with blood; and more than two hundred thousand
patients miserably perished.

On one side the empire of Russia, and on the other that of Turkey, have
sent a hundred thousand surgeons provided with lancets, bistouries, and
all sorts of instruments, adapted to cut off the morbid and gangrened
parts; but the disease has only become more virulent. The delirium has
even been so outrageous, that forty of the patients actually met
together for the purpose of dissecting their king, who had never been
attacked by the disease, and whose brain and all the vital and noble
parts of his body were in a perfectly sound state, as we shall have to
remark under the article on "Superstition." It is thought that if the
contending parties would refer the case entirely to him, he might effect
a cure of the whole nation; but it is one of the symptoms of this cruel
malady to be afraid of being cured, as persons laboring under
hydrophobia dread even the sight of water.

There are some learned men among us who contend that the disease was
brought, a long time ago, from Palestine, and that the inhabitants of
Jerusalem and Samaria were long harassed by it. Others think that the
original seat of the disease was Egypt, and that the dogs and cats,
which were there held in the highest consideration, having become mad,
communicated the madness of schism, or tearing asunder, to the greater
part of the Egyptians, whose weak heads were but too susceptible to the

It is remarked also, that the Greeks who travelled to Egypt, as, for
example, Timeus of Locris and Plato, somewhat injured their brains by
the excursion. However, the injury by no means reached madness, or
plague, properly so called; it was a sort of delirium which was not at
all times easily to be perceived, and which was often concealed under a
very plausible appearance of reason. But the Greeks having, in the
course of time, carried the complaint among the western and northern
nations, the malformation or unfortunate excitability of the brain in
our unhappy countries occasioned the slight fever of Timeus and Plato to
break out among us into the most frightful and fatal contagion, which
the physicians sometimes called intolerance, and sometimes persecution;
sometimes religious war, sometimes madness, and sometimes pestilence.

We have seen the fatal ravages committed by this infernal plague over
the face of the earth. Many physicians have offered their services to
destroy this frightful evil at its very root. But what will appear to
many scarcely credible is, that there are entire faculties of medicine,
at Salamanca and Coimbra, in Italy and even in Paris, which maintain
that schism, division, or tearing asunder, is necessary for mankind;
that corrupt humors are drawn off from them through the wounds which it
occasions; that enthusiasm, which is one of the first symptoms of the
complaint, exalts the soul, and produces the most beneficial
consequences; that toleration is attended with innumerable
inconveniences; that if the whole world were tolerant, great geniuses
would want that powerful and irresistible impulse which has produced so
many admirable works in theology; that peace is a great calamity to a
state, because it brings back the pleasures in its train; and pleasures,
after a course of time, soften down that noble ferocity which forms the
hero; and that if the Greeks had made a treaty of commerce with the
Trojans, instead of making war with them, there would never have been an
Achilles, a Hector, or a Homer, and that the race of man would have
stagnated in ignorance.

These reasons, I acknowledge, are not without force; and I request time
for giving them due consideration.


It has been pretended that divine power is appealed to in regard to this
malady, because it is scarcely in human power to cure it.

Possibly some monks began by supposing that kings, in their character of
representatives of the divinity, possessed the privilege of curing
scrofula, by touching the patients with their anointed hands. But why
not bestow a similar power on emperors, whose dignity surpasses that of
kings, or on popes, who call themselves the masters of emperors, and who
are more than simple images of God, being His vicars on earth? It is
possible, that some imaginary dreamer of Normandy, in order to render
the usurpation of William the Bastard the more respectable, conceded to
him, in quality of God's representative, the faculty of curing scrofula
by the tip of his finger.

It was some time after William that this usage became established. We
must not gratify the kings of England with this gift, and refuse it to
those of France, their liege lords. This would be in defiance of the
respect due to the feudal system. In short, this power is traced up to
Edward the Confessor in England, and to Clovis in France.

The only testimony, in the least degree credible, of the antiquity of
this usage, is to be found in the writings in favor of the house of
Lancaster, composed by the judge, Sir John Fortescue, under Henry VI.,
who was recognized king of France at Paris in his cradle, and then king
of England, but who lost both kingdoms. Sir John Fortescue asserts, that
from time immemorial, the kings of England were in possession of the
power of curing scrofula by their touch. We cannot perceive, however,
that this pretension rendered their persons more sacred in the wars
between the roses.

Queens consort could not cure scrofula, because they were not anointed
in the hands, like the kings: but Elizabeth, a queen regnant and
anointed, cured it without difficulty.

A sad thing happened to Mortorillo the Calabrian, whom we denominate St.
Francis de Paulo. King Louis XI. brought him to Plessis les Tours to
cure him of his tendency to apoplexy, and the saint arrived afflicted by

"_Ipse fuit detentus gravi, inflatura, quam in parte inferiori, genæ suæ
dextrae circa guttur patiebatur. Chirugii dicebant, mortum esse

The saint cured not the king, and the king cured not the saint.

When the king of England, James II., was conducted from Rochester to
Whitehall, somebody proposed that he should exhibit a proof of genuine
royalty, as for instance, that of touching for the evil; but no one was
presented to him. He departed to exercise his sovereignty in France at
St. Germain, where he touched some Hibernians. His daughter Mary, King
William, Queen Anne, and the kings of the house of Brunswick have cured
nobody. This sacred gift departed when people began to reason.



Every sect, of whatever opinion it may be, is a rallying point for doubt
and error. Scotists, Thomists, Realists, Nominalists, Papists,
Calvinists, Molinists, and Jansenists, are only warlike appellations.

There is no sect in geometry; we never say: A Euclidian, an Archimedian.
When truth is evident, it is impossible to divide people into parties
and factions. Nobody disputes that it is broad day at noon.

That part of astronomy which determines the course of the stars, and the
return of eclipses, being now known, there is no longer any dispute
among astronomers.

It is similar with a small number of truths, which are similarly
established; but if you are a Mahometan, as there are many men who are
not Mahometans, you may possibly be in error.

What would be the true religion, if Christianity did not exist? That in
which there would be no sects; that in which all minds necessarily

Now, in what doctrine are all minds agreed? In the adoration of one God,
and in probity. All the philosophers who have professed a religion have
said at all times: "There is a God, and He must be just." Behold then
the universal religion, established throughout all time and among all
men! The point then in which all agree is true; the systems in regard to
which all differ are false.

My sect is the best, says a Brahmin. But, my good friend, if thy sect is
the best, it is necessary; for if not absolutely necessary, thou must
confess that it is useless. If, on the contrary, it is necessary, it
must be so to all men; how then is it that all men possess not what is
absolutely necessary to them? How is it that the rest of the world
laughs at thee and thy Brahma?

When Zoroaster, Hermes, Orpheus, Minos, and all the great men say: Let
us worship God, and be just, no one laughs; but all the world sneers at
him who pretends, that to please God it is proper to die holding a cow
by the tail; at him who cuts off a particle of foreskin for the same
purpose; at him who consecrates crocodiles and onions; at him who
attaches eternal salvation to the bones of dead men carried underneath
the shirt, or to a plenary indulgence purchased at Rome for two sous and
a half.

Whence this universal assemblage of laughing and hissing from one end of
the universe to the other? It must be that the things which all the
world derides are not evident truths. What shall we say to a secretary
of Sejanus, who dedicates to Petronius a book, in a confused and
involved style, entitled "The Truth of the Sibylline Oracles, Proved
from Facts."

This secretary at first proves to you, that God sent upon earth many
Sibyls, one after the other, having no other means of instructing men.
It is demonstrated, that God communicated with these Sibyls, because the
word "sibyl" signifies "Council of God." They ought to live a long time,
for this privilege at least belongs to persons with whom God
communicates. They amounted to twelve, because this number is sacred.
They certainly predicted all the events in the world, because Tarquin
the Proud bought their book from an old woman for a hundred crowns. What
unbeliever, exclaims the secretary, can deny all these evident facts,
which took place in one corner of the earth, in the face of all the
world? Who can deny the accomplishment of their prophecies? Has not
Virgil himself cited the predictions of the Sibyls? If we have not the
first copies of the Sibylline books, written at a time when no one could
read and write, we have authentic copies. Impiety must be silent before
such proofs. Thus spoke Houteville to Sejanus, and hoped to obtain by it
the place of chief augur, with a revenue of fifty thousand livres; but
he obtained nothing.

That which my sect teaches me is obscure, I confess it, exclaims a
fanatic; and it is in consequence of that obscurity that I must believe
it; for it says itself that it abounds in obscurities. My sect is
extravagant, therefore it is divine; for how, appearing so insane,
would it otherwise have been embraced by so many people. It is precisely
like the Koran, which the Sonnites say presents at once the face of an
angel and that of a beast. Be not scandalized at the muzzle of the
beast, but revere the face of the angel. Thus spoke this madman; but a
fanatic of another sect replied to the first fanatic: It is thou who art
the beast, and I who am the angel.

Now who will judge this process, and decide between these two inspired
personages? The reasonable and impartial man who is learned in a science
which is not that of words; the man divested of prejudice, and a lover
of truth and of justice; the man, in fine, who is not a beast, and who
pretends not to be an angel.


Sect and error are synonymous terms. Thou art a peripatetic and I a
Platonist; we are therefore both in the wrong; for thou opposest Plato,
because his chimeras repel thee; and I fly from Aristotle, because it
appears to me that he knew not what he said. If the one or the other had
demonstrated the truth, there would have been an end of sect. To declare
for the opinion of one in opposition to that of another, is to take part
in a civil war. There is no sect in mathematics or experimental
philosophy: a man who examines the relation between a cone and a sphere
is not of the sect of Archimedes; and he who perceived that the square
of the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle is equal to the sum of the
squares of the other two sides, is not in consequence a Pythagorean.

When we say that the blood circulates, that the air is weighty, that the
rays of the sun are a bundle of seven refrangible rays, it follows not
that we are of the sect of Harvey, of Torricelli, or of Newton; we
simply acquiesce in the truths which they demonstrate, and the whole
universe will be of the same opinion.

Such is the character of truth, which belongs to all time and to all
men. It is only to be produced to be acknowledged, and admits of no
opposition. A long dispute signifies that both parties are in error.


Nicole, in his "Moral Essays," written after two or three thousand
volumes on morals (Treatise on Charity, chap, ii.), says, that "by means
of the gibbets and tortures which are established in common, the
tyrannical designs of the self-love of each individual are repressed."

I will not examine whether we have gibbets in common, as we have fields
and woods in common, and a common purse, or if thoughts are repressed by
wheels; but it seems to me very strange that Nicole has taken highway
robbery and murder for self-love. The distinctions must be a little
more examined. He who should say that Nero killed his mother from
self-love, that Cartouche had much self-love, would not express himself
very correctly. Self-love is not a wickedness; it is a sentiment natural
to all men; it is much more the neighbor of vanity than of crime.

A beggar of the suburbs of Madrid boldly asked alms; a passenger said to
him: Are you not ashamed to carry on this infamous trade, when you can
work? Sir, replied the mendicant, I ask you for money, and not for
advice; and turned his back on him with Castilian dignity. This
gentleman was a haughty beggar; his vanity was wounded by very little:
he asked alms for love of himself, and would not suffer the reprimand
from a still greater love of himself.

A missionary, travelling in India, met a fakir loaded with chains, naked
as an ape, lying on his stomach, and lashing himself for the sins of his
countrymen, the Indians, who gave him some coins of the country. What a
renouncement of himself! said one of the spectators. Renouncement of
myself! said the fakir, learn that I only lash myself in this world to
serve you the same in the next, when you will be the horses and I the

Those who said that love of ourselves is the basis of all our sentiments
and actions were right; and as it has not been written to prove to men
that they have a face, there is no occasion to prove to them that they
possess self-love. This self-love is the instrument of our
preservation; it resembles the provision for the perpetuity of mankind;
it is necessary, it is dear to us, it gives us pleasure, and we must
conceal it.


Oysters, it is said, have two senses; moles four; all other animals,
like man, five. Some people contend for a sixth, but it is evident that
the voluptuous sensation to which they allude is reducible to that of
touch; and that five senses are our lot. It is impossible for us to
imagine anything beyond them, or to desire out of their range.

It may be, that in other globes the inhabitants possess sensations of
which we can form no idea. It is possible that the number of our senses
augments from globe to globe, and that an existence with innumerable and
perfect senses will be the final attainment of all being.

But with respect to ourselves and our five senses, what is the extent of
our capacity? We constantly feel in spite of ourselves, and never
because we will do so: it is impossible for us to avoid having the
sensation which our nature ordains when any object excites it. The
sensation is within us, but depends not upon ourselves. We receive it,
but how do we receive it? It is evident that there is no connection
between the stricken air, the words which I sing, and the impression
which these words make upon my brain.

We are astonished at thought, but sensation is equally wonderful. A
divine power is as manifest in the sensation of the meanest of insects
as in the brain of Newton. In the meantime, if a thousand animals die
before our eyes, we are not anxious to know what becomes of their
faculty of sensation, although it is as much the work of the Supreme
Being as our own. We regard them as the machines of nature, created to
perish, and to give place to others.

For what purpose and in what manner may their sensations exist, when
they exist no longer? What need has the author of all things to preserve
qualities, when the substance is destroyed? It is as reasonable to
assert that the power of the plant called "sensitive," to withdraw its
leaves towards its branches, exists when the plant is no more. You will
ask, without doubt, in what manner the sensation of animals perishes
with them, while the mind of man perishes not? I am too ignorant to
solve this question. The eternal author of mind and of sensation alone
knows how to give, and how to preserve them.

All antiquity maintains that our understanding contains nothing which
has not been received by our senses. Descartes, on the contrary, asserts
in his "Romances," that we have metaphysical ideas before we are
acquainted with the nipple of our nurse. A faculty of theology
proscribed this dogma, not because it was erroneous, but because it was
new. Finally, however, it was adopted, because it had been destroyed by
Locke, an English philosopher, and an Englishman must necessarily be in
the wrong. In fine, after having so often changed opinion, the ancient
opinion which declares that the senses are the inlets to the
understanding is finally proscribed. This is acting like deeply indebted
governments, who sometimes issue certain notes which are to pass
current, and at other times cry them down; but for a long time no one
will accept the notes of the said faculty of theology.

All the faculties in the world will never prevent a philosopher from
perceiving that we commence by sensation, and that our memory is nothing
but a continued sensation. A man born without his five senses would be
destitute of all idea, supposing it possible for him to live.
Metaphysical notions are obtained only through the senses; for how is a
circle or a triangle to be measured, if a circle or a triangle has
neither been touched nor seen? How form an imperfect notion of infinity,
without a notion of limits? And how take away limits, without having
either beheld or felt them?

Sensation includes all our faculties, says a great philosopher. What
ought to be concluded from all this? You who read and think, pray

The Greeks invented the faculty "_Psyche_" for sensation, and the
faculty "_Nous_" for mind. We are, unhappily, ignorant of the nature of
these two faculties: we possess them, but their origin is no more known
to us than to the oyster, the sea-nettle, the polypus, worms, or plants.
By some inconceivable mechanism, sensitiveness is diffused throughout my
body, and thought in my head alone. If the head be cut off, there will
remain a very small chance of its solving a problem in geometry. In the
meantime, your pineal gland, your fleshly body, in which abides your
soul, exists for a long time without alteration, while your separated
head is so full of animal spirits that it frequently exhibits motion
after its removal from the trunk. It seems as if at this moment it
possessed the most lively ideas, resembling the head of Orpheus, which
still uttered melodious song, and chanted Eurydice, when cast into the
waters of the Hebrus.

If we think no longer, after losing our heads, whence does it happen
that the heart beats, and appears to be sensitive after being torn out?

We feel, you say, because all our nerves have their origin in the brain;
and in the meantime, if you are trepanned, and a portion of your brain
be thrown into the fire, you feel nothing the less. Men who can state
the reason of all this are very clever.


_On Natural Liberty._

In several countries, and particularly in France, collections have been
made of the juridical murders which tyranny, fanaticism, or even error
and weakness, have committed with the sword of justice.

There are sentences of death which whole years of vengeance could
scarcely expiate, and which will make all future ages tremble. Such are
the sentences given against the natural king of Naples and Sicily, by
the tribunal of Charles of Anjou; against John Huss and Jerome of
Prague, by priests and monks; and against the king of England, Charles
I., by fanatical citizens.

After these enormous crimes, formally committed, come the legal murders
committed by indolence, stupidity, and superstition, and these are
innumerable. We shall relate some of them in other articles.

In this class we must principally place the trials for witchcraft, and
never forget that even in our days, in 1750, the sacerdotal justice of
the bishop of Würzburg has condemned as a witch a nun, a girl of
quality, to the punishment of fire. I here repeat this circumstance,
which I have elsewhere mentioned, that it should not be forgotten. We
forget too much and too soon.

Every day of the year I would have a public crier, instead of crying as
in Germany and Holland what time it is--which is known very well without
their crying--cry: It was on this day that, in the religious wars
Magdeburg and all its inhabitants were reduced to ashes. It was on May
14th that Henry IV. was assassinated, only because he was not submissive
to the pope; it was on such a day that such an abominable cruelty was
perpetrated in your town, under the name of justice.

These continual advertisements would be very useful; but the judgments
given in favor of innocence against persecutors should be cried with a
much louder voice. For example, I propose, that every year, the two
strongest throats which can be found in Paris and Toulouse shall cry
these words in all the streets: It was on such a day that fifty
magistrates of the council re-established the memory of John Calas, with
a unanimous voice, and obtained for his family the favors of the king
himself, in whose name John Calas had been condemned to the most
horrible execution.

It would not be amiss to have another crier at the door of all the
ministers, to say to all who came to demand _lettres de cachet_, in
order to possess themselves of the property of their relations, friends,
or dependents: Gentlemen, fear to seduce the minister by false
statements, and to abuse the name of the king. It is dangerous to take
it in vain. There was in the world one Gerbier, who defended the cause
of the widow and orphan oppressed under the weight of a sacred name. It
was he who, at the bar of the Parliament of Paris, obtained the
abolishment of the Society of Jesus. Listen attentively to the lesson
which he gave to the society of St. Bernard, conjointly with Master
Loiseau, another protector of widows.

You must first know, that the reverend Bernardine fathers of Clairvaux
possess seventeen thousand acres of wood, seven large forges, fourteen
large farms, a quantity of fiefs, benefices, and even rights in foreign
countries. The yearly revenue of the convent amounts to two hundred
thousand livres. The treasure is immense; the abbot's palace is that of
a prince. Nothing is more just; it is a poor recompense for the services
which the Bernardines continually render to the State.

It happened, that a youth of seventeen years of age, named Castille,
whose baptismal name was Bernard, believed, for that reason, that he
should become a Bernardine. It is thus that we reason at seventeen, and
sometimes at thirty. He went to pass his novitiate at Lorraine, in the
abbey of Orval. When he was required to pronounce his vows, grace was
wanting in him: he did not sign them; he departed and became a man
again. He established himself at Paris, and at the end of thirty years,
having made a little fortune, he married, and had children.

The reverend father, attorney of Clairvaux, named Mayeur, a worthy
solicitor, brother of the abbot, having learned from a woman of pleasure
at Paris, that this Castille was formerly a Bernardine, plotted to
challenge him as a deserter--though he was not really engaged--to make
his wife pass for his concubine, and to place his children in the
hospital as bastards. He associated himself with another rogue, to
divide the spoils. Both went to the court for _lettres de cachet_,
exposed their grievances in the name of St. Bernard, obtained the
letter, seized Bernard Castille, his wife, and their children, possessed
themselves of all the property, and are now devouring it, you know

Bernard Castille was shut up at Orval in a dungeon, where he was
executed after six months, for fear that he should demand justice. His
wife was conducted to another dungeon, at St. Pelagie, a house for
prostitutes. Of three children, one died in the hospital.

Things remained in this state for three years. At the end of this time,
the wife of Castille obtained her enlargement. God is just: He gave a
second husband to the widow. The husband, named Lannai, was a man of
head, who discovered all the frauds, horrors, and crimes employed
against his wife. They both entered into a suit against the monks. It is
true, that brother Mayeur, who is called Dom Mayeur, was not hanged, but
the convent of Clairvaux was condemned to pay forty thousand livres.
There is no convent which would not rather see its attorney hanged than
lose its money.

This history should teach you, gentlemen, to use much moderation in the
fact of _lettres de cachet_. Know, that Master Elias de Beaumont, that
celebrated defender of the memory of Calas, and Master Target that other
protector of oppressed innocence, caused the man to pay a fine of twenty
thousand francs, who by his intrigues had gained a _lettre de cachet_
to seize upon the dying countess of Lancize, to drag her from the bosom
of her family and divest her of all her titles.

When tribunals give such sentences as these, we hear clapping of hands
from the extent of the grand chamber to the gates of Paris. Take care of
yourselves, gentlemen; do not lightly demand _lettres de cachet_.

An Englishman, on reading this article, exclaimed, "What is a _lettre de
cachet_?" We could never make him comprehend it.


In reading history, and seeing its course continually interrupted with
innumerable calamities heaped upon this globe, which some call the best
of all possible worlds, I have been particularly struck with the great
quantity of considerable men in the State, in the Church, and in
society, who have suffered death like robbers on the highway. Setting
aside assassinations and poisonings, I speak only of massacres in a
juridical form, performed with loyalty and ceremony; I commence with
kings and queens; England alone furnishes an ample list; but for
chancellors, knights, and esquires, volumes are required. Of all who
have thus perished by justice, I do not believe that there are four in
all Europe who would have undergone their sentence if their suits had
lasted some time longer, or if the adverse parties had died of apoplexy
during the preparation.

If fistula had gangrened the rectum of Cardinal Richelieu some months
longer, the virtuous de Thou, Cinq-Mars, and so many others would have
been at liberty. If Barneveldt had had as many Arminians for his judges
as Gomerists, he would have died in his bed; if the constable de Luynes
had not demanded the confiscation of the property of the lady of the
Marshal d'Ancre, she would not have been burned as a witch. If a really
criminal man, an assassin, a public thief, a poisoner, a parricide, be
arrested, and his crime be proved, it is certain that in all times and
whoever the judges, he will be condemned. But it is not the same with
statesmen; only give them other judges, or wait until time has changed
interests, cooled passions, and introduced other sentiments, and their
lives will be in safety.

Suppose Queen Elizabeth had died of an indigestion on the eve of the
execution of Mary Stuart, then Mary Stuart would have been seated on the
throne of England, Ireland, and Scotland, instead of dying by the hand
of an executioner in a chamber hung with black. If Cromwell had only
fallen sick, care would have been taken how Charles I.'s head was cut
off. These two assassinations--disguised, I know not how, in the garb of
the laws--scarcely entered into the list of ordinary injustice. Figure
to yourself some highwaymen who, having bound and robbed two passengers,
amuse themselves with naming in the troop an attorney-general, a
president, an advocate and counsellors, and who, having signed a
sentence, cause the two victims to be hanged in ceremony; it was thus
that the Queen of Scotland and her grandson were judged.

But of common judgments, pronounced by competent judges against princes
or men in place, is there a single one which would have been either
executed, or even passed, if another time had been chosen? Is there a
single one of the condemned, immolated under Cardinal Richelieu, who
would not have been in favor if their suits had been prolonged until the
regency of Anne of Austria? The Prince of Condé was arrested under
Francis II., he was condemned to death by commissaries; Francis II.
died, and the Prince of Condé again became powerful.

These instances are innumerable; we should above all consider the spirit
of the times. Vanini was burned on a vague suspicion of atheism. At
present, if any one was foolish and pedantic enough to write such books
as Vanini, they would not be read, and that is all which could happen to
them. A Spaniard passed through Geneva in the middle of the sixteenth
century; the Picard, John Calvin, learned that this Spaniard was lodged
at an inn; he remembered that this Spaniard had disputed with him on a
subject which neither of them understood. Behold! my theologian, John
Calvin, arrested the passenger, contrary to all laws, human or divine,
contrary to the right possessed by people among all nations; immured him
in a dungeon, and burned him at a slow fire with green faggots, that the
pain might last the longer. Certainly this infernal manœuvre would
never enter the head of any one in the present day; and if the fool
Servetus had lived in good times, he would have had nothing to fear;
what is called justice is therefore as arbitrary as fashion. There are
times of horrors and follies among men, as there are times of
pestilence, and this contagion has made the tour of the world.


"I certify that I have many times killed serpents by moistening in a
slight degree, with my spittle, a stick or a stone, and giving them a
slight blow on the middle of the body, scarcely sufficient to produce a
small contusion. January 19, 1757. Figuier, Surgeon."

The above surgeon having given me this certificate, two witnesses, who
had seen him kill serpents in this manner, attested what they had
beheld. Notwithstanding, I wished to behold the thing myself; for I
confess that, in various parts of these queries, I have taken St. Thomas
of Didymus for my patron saint, who always insisted on an examination
with his own hands.

For eighteen hundred years this opinion has been perpetuated among the
people, and it might possibly be even eighteen thousand years old, if
Genesis had not supplied us with the precise date of our enmity to this
reptile. It may be asserted that if Eve had spit on the serpent when he
took his place at her ear, a world of evil would have been spared human

Lucretius, in his fourth book, alludes to this manner of killing
serpents as very well known:

     _Est utique ut serpens hominis contacta salivis._
     _Disperit, ac sese mandendo conficit ipsa._
                                  --LIB., iv, v. 642-643.

     Spit on a serpent, and his vigor flies,
     He straight devours himself, and quickly dies.

There is some slight contradiction in painting him at once deprived of
vigor and self-devouring, but my surgeon Figuier asserts not that the
serpents which he killed were self-devouring. Genesis says wisely that
we kill them with our heels, and not with spittle.

We are in the midst of winter on January 19, which is the time when
serpents visit us. I cannot find any at Mount Krapak; but I exhort all
philosophers to spit upon every serpent they meet with in the spring. It
is good to know the extent of the power of the saliva of man.

It is certain that Jesus Christ employed his spittle to cure a man who
was deaf and dumb. He took him aside, placed His fingers on his ears,
and looking up to heaven, sighed and said to him: "_Ephphatha_"--"be
opened"--when the deaf and dumb person immediately began to speak.

It may therefore be true that God has allowed the saliva of man to kill
serpents; but He may have also permitted my surgeon to assail them with
heavy blows from a stick or a stone, in such a way that they would die
whether he spat upon them or not.

I beg of all philosophers to examine the thing with attention. For
example, should they meet Freron in the street, let them spit in his
face, and if he die, the fact will be confirmed, in spite of all the
reasoning of the incredulous.

I take this opportunity also to beg of philosophers not to cut off the
heads of any more snails; for I affirm that the head has returned to
snails which I have decapitated very effectively. But it is not enough
that I know it by experience, others must be equally satisfied in order
that the fact be rendered probable; for although I have twice succeeded,
I have failed thirty times. Success depends upon the age of the snail,
the time in which the head is cut off, the situation of the incision,
and the manner in which it is kept until the head grows again.

If it is important to know that death may be inflicted by spitting, it
is still more important to know that heads may be renewed. Man is of
more consequence than a snail, and I doubt not that in due time, when
the arts are brought to perfection, some means will be found to give a
sound head to a man who has none at all.


A weight and denomination of money among the Jews; but as they never
coined money, and always made use of the coinage of other people, all
gold coins weighing about a guinea, and all silver coins of the weight
of a small French crown, were called a shekel; and these shekels were
distinguished into those of the weight of the sanctuary, and those of
the weight of the king.

It is said in the Book of Samuel that Absalom had very fine hair, from
which he cut a part every year. Many profound commentators assert that
he cut it once a month, and that it was valued at two hundred shekels.
If these shekels were of gold, the locks of Absalom were worth two
thousand four hundred guineas per annum. There are few seigniories which
produce at present the revenue that Absalom derived from his head.

It is said that when Abraham bought a cave in Hebron from the Canaanite
Ephron, Ephron sold him the cave for four hundred shekels of silver, of
current money with the merchant--_probatæ monetæ publicæ_.

We have already remarked that there was no coined money in these days,
and thus these four hundred shekels of silver became four hundred
shekels in weight, which, valued at present at three livres four sous
each, are equal to twelve hundred and eighty livres of France.

It follows that the little field, which was sold with this cavern, was
excellent land, to bring so high a price.

When Eleazar, the servant of Abraham, met the beautiful Rebecca, the
daughter of Bethnel, carrying a pitcher of water upon her shoulder, from
which she gave him and his camels leave to drink, he presented her with
earrings of gold, which weighed two shekels, and bracelets which weighed
ten, amounting in the whole to a present of the value of twenty-four

In the laws of Exodus it is said that if an ox gored a male or female
slave, the possessor of the ox should give thirty shekels of silver to
the master of the slave, and that the ox should be stoned. It is
apparently to be understood that the ox in this case has produced a very
dangerous wound, otherwise thirty-two crowns was a large sum for the
neighborhood of Mount Sinai, where money was uncommon. It is for the
same reason that many grave, but too hasty, persons suspect that Exodus
as well as Genesis was not written until a comparatively late period.

What tends to confirm them in this erroneous opinion is a passage in the
same Exodus: "Take of pure myrrh five hundred shekels, and of sweet
cinnamon half as much; of sweet calamus two hundred and fifty shekels;
of cassia five hundred shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; and
of olive-oil a ton, to form an ointment to annoint the tabernacle"; and
whosoever anointed himself or any stranger with a similar composition,
was to be put to death.

It is added that with all these aromatics were to be united stacte,
onyx, galbanum, and frankincense; and that a perfume was to be mixed up
according to the art of the apothecary or perfumer.

But I cannot perceive anything in this composition which ought to excite
the doubt of the incredulous. It is natural to imagine that the
Jews--who, according to the text, stole from the Egyptians all which
they could bring away--had also taken frankincense, galbanum, onyx,
stacte, olive-oil, cassia, sweet calamus, cinnamon, and myrrh. They
also, without doubt, stole many shekels; indeed, we have seen, that one
of the most zealous partisans of this Hebrew horde estimates what they
stole, in gold alone, at nine millions. I abide by his reckoning.


The first woman who pronounced oracles at Delphos was called Sibylla.
According to Pausanias, she was the daughter of Jupiter, and of Lamia,
the daughter of Neptune, and she lived a long time before the siege of
Troy. From her all women were distinguished by the name of sibyls, who,
without being priestesses, or even attached to a particular oracle,
announced the future, and called themselves inspired. Different ages and
countries have had their sibyls, or preserved predictions which bear
their name, and collections were formed of them.

The greatest embarrassment to the ancients was to explain by what happy
privilege these sibyls had the gift of predicting the future. Platonists
found the cause of it in the intimate union which the creature, arrived
at a certain degree of perfection, might have with the Divinity. Others
attribute this divine property of the sibyls to the vapors and
exhalations of the caves which they inhabited. Finally others attributed
the prophetic spirit of the sibyls to their sombre and melancholy humor,
or to some singular malady.

St. Jerome maintained that this gift was to them a recompense for their
chastity; but there was at least one very celebrated one who boasted of
having had a thousand lovers without being married. It would have been
much more sensible in St. Jerome and other fathers of the Church to have
denied the prophetic spirit of the sibyls, and to have said that by
means of hazarding predictions at a venture, they might sometimes have
been fulfilled, particularly with the help of a favorable commentary, by
which words, spoken by chance, have been turned into facts which it was
impossible they could have predicted.

It is singular that their predictions were collected after the event.
The first collection of sibylline leaves, bought by Tarquin, contained
three books; the second was compiled after the fire of the capitol, but
we are ignorant how many books it contained; and the third is that which
we possess in eight books, and in which it is doubtful whether the
author has not inserted several predictions of the second. This
collection is the fruit of the pious fraud of some Platonic Christians,
more zealous than clever, who in composing it thought to lend arms to
the Christian religion, and to put those who defended it in a situation
to combat paganism with the greatest advantage.

This confused compilation of different prophecies was printed for the
first time in the year 1545 from manuscripts, and published several
times after, with ample commentaries, burdened with an erudition often
trivial, and almost always foreign to the text, which they seldom
enlightened. The number of works composed for and against the
authenticity of these sibylline books is very great, and some even very
learned; but there prevails so little order and reasoning, and the
authors are so devoid of all philosophic spirit that those who might
have courage to read them would gain nothing but ennui and fatigue. The
date of the publication is found clearly indicated in the fifth and
eighth books. The sibyl is made to say that the Roman Empire will have
only fifteen emperors, fourteen of which are designated by the numeral
value of the first letter of their names in the Greek alphabet. She adds
that the fifteenth, who would be a man with a white head, would bear the
name of a sea near Rome. The fifteenth of the Roman emperors was Adrian,
and the Asiatic gulf is the sea of which he bears the name.

From this prince, continues the sibyl, three others will proceed who
will rule the empire at the same time; but finally one of them will
remain the possessor. These three shoots were Antoninus, Marcus
Aurelius, and Lucius Verus. The sibyl alludes to the adoptions and
associations which united them. Marcus Aurelius found himself sole
master of the empire at the death of Lucius Verus, at the commencement
of the year 169; and he governed it without any colleague until the year
177, when he associated with his son Commodus. As there is nothing which
can have any relation to this new colleague of Marcus Aurelius, it is
evident that the collection must have been made between the years 169
and 177 of the vulgar era.

Josephus, the historian, quotes a work of the sibyl, in which the Tower
of Babel and the confusion of tongues are spoken of nearly as in
Genesis; which proves that the Christians are not the first authors of
the supposition of the sibylline books. Josephus not relating the exact
words of the sibyl, we cannot ascertain whether what is said of the same
event in our collection was extracted from the work quoted by Josephus;
but it is certain that several lines, attributed to the sibyl, in the
exhortations found in the works of St. Justin, of Theophilus of Antioch,
of Clement of Alexandria, and in some other fathers, are not in our
collection; and as most of these lines bear no stamp of Christianity,
they might be the work of some Platonic Jew.

In the time of Celsus, sibyls had already some credit among the
Christians, as it appears by two passages of the answer of Origen. But
in time sibylline prophecies appearing favorable to Christianity, they
were commonly made use of in works of controversy with much more
confidence than by the pagans themselves, who, acknowledging sibyls to
be inspired women, confined themselves to saying that the Christians had
falsified their writings, a fact which could only be decided by a
comparison of the two manuscripts, which few people are in a situation
to make.

Finally, it was from a poem of the sibyl of Cumea that the principal
dogmas of Christianity were taken. Constantine, in the fine discourse
which he pronounced before the assembly of the saints, shows that the
fourth eclogue of Virgil is only a prophetic description of the Saviour;
and if that was not the immediate object of the poet, it was that of the
sibyl from whom he borrowed his ideas, who, being filled with the spirit
of God, announced the birth of the Redeemer.

He believed that he saw in this poem the miracle of the birth of Jesus
of a virgin, the abolition of sin by the preaching of the gospel, and
the abolition of punishment by the grace of the Redeemer. He believed he
saw the old serpent overthrown, and the mortal venom with which he
poisoned human nature entirely deadened. He believed that he saw that
the grace of the Lord, however powerful it might be, would nevertheless
suffer the dregs and traces of sin to remain in the faithful; in a
word, he believed that he saw Jesus Christ announced under the great
character of the Son of God.

In this eclogue there are many other passages which might have been said
to be copies of the Jewish prophets, who apply it themselves to Jesus
Christ; it is at least the general opinion of the Church. St. Augustine,
like others, has been persuaded of it, and has pretended that the lines
of Virgil can only be applied to Jesus Christ. Finally, the most clever
moderns maintain the same opinion.


_Questions on Singing, Music, Modulation, Gesticulation, etc._

Could a Turk conceive that we have one kind of singing for the first of
our mysteries when we celebrate it in music, another kind which we call
"motetts" in the same temple, a third kind at the opera, and a fourth at
the theatre?

In like manner, can we imagine how the ancients blew their flutes,
recited on their theatres with their heads covered by enormous masks,
and how their declamation was written down.

Law was promulgated in Athens nearly as in Paris we sing an air on the
Pont-Neuf. The public crier sang an edict, accompanying himself on the

It is thus that in Paris the rose in bud is cried in one tone; old
silver lace to sell in another; only in the streets of Paris the lyre is
dispensed with.

After the victory of Chæronea, Philip, the father of Alexander, sang the
decree by which Demosthenes had made him declare war, and beat time with
his foot. We are very far from singing in our streets our edicts, or
finances, or upon the two sous in the livre.

It is very probable that the melopée, or modulation, regarded by
Aristotle in his poetic art as an essential part of tragedy, was an
even, simple chant, like that which we call the preface to mass, which
in my opinion is the Gregorian chant, and not the Ambrosian, and which
is a true melopée.

When the Italians revived tragedy in the sixteenth century the
recitative was a melopée which could not be written; for who could write
inflections of the voice which are octaves and sixths of tone? They were
learned by heart. This custom was received in France when the French
began to form a theatre, more than a century after the Italians. The
"_Sophonisba_" of Mairet was sung like that of Trissin, but more
grossly; for throats as well as minds were then rather coarser at Paris.
All the parts of the actors, but particularly of the actresses, were
noted from memory by tradition. Mademoiselle Bauval, an actress of the
time of Corneille, Racine, and Molière, recited to me, about sixty years
ago or more, the commencement of the part of _Emilia_, in "Cinna," as it
had been played in the first representations by La Beaupré. This
modulation resembled the declamation of the present day much less than
our modern recitative resembles the manner of reading the newspaper.

I cannot better compare this kind of singing, this modulation, than to
the admirable recitative of Lulli, criticised by adorers of double
crochets, who have no knowledge of the genius of our language, and who
are ignorant what help this melody furnishes to an ingenious and
sensible actor.

Theatrical modulation perished with the comedian Duclos, whose only
merit being a fine voice without spirit and soul, finally rendered that
ridiculous which had been admired in Des Œuillets, and in Champmeslé.

Tragedy is now played dryly; if we were not heated by the pathos of the
spectacle and the action, it would be very insipid. Our age, commendable
in other things, is the age of dryness.

It is true that among the Romans one actor recited and another made
gestures. It was not by chance that the abbé Dubos imagined this
pleasant method of declaiming. Titus Livius, who never fails to instruct
us in the manners and customs of the Romans, and who, in that respect is
more useful than the ingenious and satirical Tacitus, informs us, I say,
that Andronicus, being hoarse while singing in the interludes, got
another to sing for him while he executed the dance; and thence came the
custom of dividing interludes between dancers and singers: "_Dicitur
cantum egisse magis vigente motu quum nihil vocis usis impediebat_." The
song is expressed by the dance. "Cantum egisse magis vigente motu." With
more vigorous movements.

But they divided not the story of the piece between an actor who only
gesticulates and another who only sings. The thing would have been as
ridiculous as impracticable.

The art of pantomimes, which are played without speaking, is quite
different, and we have seen very striking examples of it; but this art
can please only when a marked action is represented, a theatrical event
which is easily presented to the imagination of the spectator. It can
represent Orosmanes killing Zaïre and killing himself; Semiramis
wounded, dragging herself on the frontiers to the tomb of Ninus, and
holding her son in her arms. There is no occasion for verses to express
these situations by gestures to the sound of a mournful and terrible
symphony. But how would two pantomimes paint the dessertation of Maximus
and Cinna on monarchical and popular governments?

Apropos of the theatrical execution of the Romans, the abbé Dubos says
that the dancers in the interludes were always in gowns. Dancing
requires a closer dress. In the Pays de Vaud, a suite of baths built by
the Romans, is carefully preserved, the pavement of which is mosaic.
This mosaic, which is not decayed, represents dancers dressed like opera
dancers. We make not these observations to detect errors in Dubos;
there is no merit in having seen this antique monument which he had not
seen; and besides, a very solid and just mind might be deceived by a
passage of Titus Livius.



Why do we denominate slaves those whom the Romans called "_servi_," and
the Greeks "_duloi_"? Etymology is here exceedingly at fault; and
Bochart has not been able to derive this word from the Hebrew.

The most ancient record that we possess in which the word "slave" is
found is the will of one Ermangaut, archbishop of Narbonne, who
bequeathed to Bishop Fredelon his slave Anaph--"Anaphinus Slavonium."
This Anaph was very fortunate in belonging to two bishops successively.

It is not unlikely that the Slavonians came from the distant North with
other indigent and conquering hordes, to pillage from the Roman Empire
what that empire had pilliged from other nations, and especially in
Dalmatia and Illyria. The Italians called the misfortune of falling into
their hands "_shiavitu_," and "_schiavi_" the captives themselves.

All that we can gather from the confused history of the middle ages is
that in the time of the Romans the known world was divided between
freemen and slaves. When the Slavonians, Alans, Huns, Heruli,
Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Vandals, Burgundians, Franks and Normans came to
despoil Europe, there was little probability that the multitude of
slaves would diminish. Ancient masters, in fact, saw themselves reduced
to slavery, and the smaller number enslaved the greater, as negroes are
enslaved in the colonies, and according to the practice in many other

We read nothing in ancient authors concerning the slaves of the
Assyrians and the Babylonians. The book which speaks most of slaves is
the "Iliad." In the first place, Briseis is slave to Achilles; and all
the Trojan women, and more especially the princesses, fear becoming
slaves to the Greeks, and spinners for their wives.

Slavery is also as ancient as war, and war as human nature. Society was
so accustomed to this degradation of the species that Epictetus, who was
assuredly worth more than his master, never expresses any surprise at
his being a slave.

No legislator of antiquity ever attempted to abrogate slavery; on the
contrary, the people most enthusiastic for liberty--the Athenians, the
Lacedæmonians, the Romans, and the Carthaginians--were those who enacted
the most severe laws against their serfs. The right of life and death
over them was one of the principles of society. It must be confessed
that, of all wars, that of Spartacus was the most just, and possibly the
only one that was ever absolutely so.

Who would believe that the Jews, created as it might appear to serve all
nations in turn, should also appear to possess slaves of their own? It
is observed in their laws, that they may purchase their brethren for
six years, and strangers forever. It was said, that the children of Esau
would become bondsmen to the children of Jacob; but since, under a
different dispensation, the Arabs, who call themselves descendants of
Esau, have enslaved the posterity of Jacob.

The Evangelists put not a single word into the mouth of Jesus Christ
which recalls mankind to the primitive liberty to which they appear to
be born. There is nothing said in the New Testament on this state of
degradation and suffering, to which one-half of the human race was
condemned. Not a word appears in the writings of the apostles and the
fathers of the Church, tending to change beasts of burden into citizens,
as began to be done among ourselves in the thirteenth century. If
slavery be spoken of, it is the slavery of sin.

It is difficult to comprehend how, in St. John, the Jews can say to
Jesus: "We have never been slaves to any one"--they who were at that
time subjected to the Romans; they who had been sold in the market after
the taking of Jerusalem; they of whom ten tribes, led away as slaves by
Shalmaneser, had disappeared from the face of the earth, and of whom two
other tribes were held in chains by the Babylonians for seventy years;
they who had been seven times reduced to slavery in their promised land,
according to their own avowal; they who in all their writings speak of
their bondage in that Egypt which they abhorred, but to which they ran
in crowds to gain money, as soon as Alexander condescended to allow
them to settle there. The reverend Dom Calmet says, that we must
understand in this passage, "intrinsic servitude," an explanation which
by no means renders it more comprehensible.

Italy, the Gauls, Spain, and a part of Germany, were inhabited by
strangers, by foreigners become masters, and natives reduced to serfs.
When the bishop of Seville, Opas, and Count Julian called over the
Mahometan Moors against the Christian kings of the Visigoths, who
reigned in the Pyrenees, the Mahometans, according to their custom,
proposed to the natives, either to receive circumcision, give battle, or
pay tribute in money and girls. King Roderick was vanquished, and slaves
were made of those who were taken captive.

The conquered preserved their wealth and their religion by paying; and
it is thus that the Turks have since treated Greece, except that they
imposed upon the latter a tribute of children of both sexes, the boys of
which they circumcise and transform into pages and janissaries, while
the girls are devoted to the harems. This tribute has since been
compromised for money. The Turks have only a few slaves for the interior
service of their houses, and these they purchase from the Circassians,
Mingrelians, and nations of Lesser Tartary.

Between the African Mahometans and the European Christians, the custom
of piracy, and of making slaves of all who could be seized on the high
seas, has always existed. They are birds of prey who feed upon one
another; the Algerines, natives of Morocco, and Tunisians, all live by
piracy. The Knights of Malta, successors to those of Rhodes, formally
swear to rob and enslave all the Mahometans whom they meet; and the
galleys of the pope cruise for Algerines on the northern coasts of
Africa. Those who call themselves whites and Christians proceed to
purchase negroes at a good market, in order to sell them dear in
America. The Pennsylvanians alone have renounced this traffic, which
they account flagitious.


I read a short time ago at Mount Krapak, where it is known that I
reside, a book written at Paris, abounding in wit and paradoxes, bold
views and hardihood, resembling in some respects those of Montesquieu,
against whom it is written. In this book, slavery is decidedly preferred
to domesticity, and above all to the free labor. This book exceedingly
pities those unhappy free men who earn a subsistence where they please,
by the labor for which man is born, and which is the guardian of
innocence, as well as the support of life. It is incumbent on no one,
says the author, either to nourish or to succor them; whereas, slaves
are fed and protected by their masters like their horses. All this is
true; but human beings would rather provide for themselves than depend
on others; and horses bred in the forest prefer them to stables.

He justly remarks that artisans lose many days in which they are
forbidden to work, which is very true; but this is not because they are
free, but because ridiculous laws exist in regard to holidays.

He says most truly, that it is not Christian charity which has broken
the fetters of servitude, since the same charity has riveted them for
more than twelve centuries; and that Christians, and even monks, all
charitable as they are, still possess slaves reduced to a frightful
state of bondage, under the name of "_mortaillables, mainmortables_" and
serfs of the soil.

He asserts that which is very true, that Christian princes only
affranchised their serfs through avarice. It was, in fact, to obtain the
money laboriously amassed by these unhappy persons, that they signed
their letters of manumission. They did not bestow liberty, but sold it.
The emperor Henry V. began: he freed the serfs of Spires and Worms in
the twelfth century. The kings of France followed his example; and
nothing tends more to prove the value of liberty than the high price
these gross men paid for it.

Lastly, it is for the men on whose condition the dispute turns to decide
upon which state they prefer. Interrogate the lowest laborer covered
with rags, fed upon black bread, and sleeping on straw, in a hut half
open to the elements; ask this man, whether he will be a slave, better
fed, clothed, and bedded; not only will he recoil with horror at the
proposal, but regard you with horror for making the proposal. Ask a
slave if he is willing to be free, and you will hear his answer. This
alone ought to decide the question.

It is also to be considered that a laborer may become a farmer, and a
farmer a proprietor. In France, he may even become a counsellor of the
king, if he acquire riches. In England, he may become a freeholder, or a
member of parliament. In Sweden, he may become a member of the national
states. These possibilities are of more value than that of dying
neglected in the corner of his master's stable.


Puffendorff says, that slavery has been established "by the free consent
of the opposing parties." I will believe Puffendorff, when he shows me
the original contract.

Grotius inquires, whether a man who is taken captive in war has a right
to escape; and it is to be remarked, that he speaks not of a prisoner on
his parole of honor. He decides, that he has no such right; which is
about as much as to say that a wounded man has no right to get cured.
Nature decides against Grotius.

Attend to the following observations of the author of the "Spirit of
Laws," after painting negro slavery with the pencil of Molière:

"Mr. Perry says that the Moscovites sell themselves readily; I can
guess the reason--their liberty is worth nothing."

Captain John Perry, an Englishman, who wrote an account of the state of
Russia in 1714, says nothing of that which the "Spirit of Laws" makes
him say. Perry contains a few lines only on the subject of Russian
bondage, which are as follows: "The czar has ordered that, throughout
his states, in future, no one is to be called '_golup_' or slave; but
only '_raab_,' which signifies subject. However, the people derive no
real advantage from this order, being still in reality slaves."

The author of the "Spirit of Laws" adds, that according to Captain
Dampier, "everybody sells himself in the kingdom of Achem." This would
be a singular species of commerce, and I have seen nothing in the
"Voyage" of Dampier which conveys such a notion. It is a pity that a man
so replete with wit should hazard so many crudities, and so frequently
quote incorrectly.


_Serfs of the Body, Serfs of the Glebe, Mainmort, etc._

It is commonly asserted that there are no more slaves in France; that it
is the kingdom of the Franks, and that slave and Frank are contradictory
terms; that people are so free there that many financiers die worth more
than thirty millions of francs, acquired at the expense of the
descendants of the ancient Franks. Happy French nation to be thus free!
But how, in the meantime, is so much freedom compatible with so many
species of servitude, as for instance, that of the _mainmort_?

Many a fine lady at Paris, who sparkles in her box at the opera, is
ignorant that she descends from a family of Burgundy, the Bourbonnais,
Franche-Comté, Marche, or Auvergne, which family is still enslaved,
_mortaillable_ and _mainmortable_.

Of these slaves, some are obliged to work three days a week for the
lord, and others two. If they die without children, their wealth belongs
to the lord; if they leave children, the lord takes only the finest
cattle and, according to more than one custom, the most valuable
movables. According to other customs, if the son of a _mainmortable_
slave visits not the house of his father within a year and a day from
his death, he loses all his father's property, yet still remains a
slave; that is to say, whatever wealth he may acquire by his industry,
becomes at his death the property of the lord.

What follows is still better: An honest Parisian pays a visit to his
parents in Burgundy and in Franche-Comté, resides a year and a day in a
_mainmortable_ house, and returning to Paris finds that his property,
wherever situated, belongs to the lord, in case he dies without issue.

It is very properly asked how the province of Burgundy obtained the
nickname of "free," while distinguished by such a species of servitude?
It is without doubt upon the principle that the Greeks called the
furies _Eumenides_, "good hearts."

But the most curious and most consolatory circumstance attendant on this
jurisprudence is that the lords of half these _mainmortable_ territories
are monks.

If by chance a prince of the blood, a minister of state, or a chancellor
cast his eyes upon this article, it will be well for him to recollect,
that the king of France, in his ordinance of May 18, 1731, declares to
the nation, "that the monks and endowments possess more than half of the
property of Franche-Comté."

The marquis d'Argenson, in "_Le Droit Public Ecclesiastique_," says,
that in Artois, out of eighteen ploughs, the monks possess thirteen. The
monks themselves are called _mainmortables_, and yet possess slaves. Let
us refer these monkish possessions to the chapter of contradictions.

When we have made some modest remonstrances upon this strange tyranny on
the part of people who have vowed to God to be poor and humble, they
will then reply to us: We have enjoyed this right for six hundred years;
why then despoil us of it? We may humbly rejoin, that for these thirty
or forty thousand years, the weasels have been in the habit of sucking
the blood of our pullets; yet we assume to ourselves the right of
destroying them when we can catch them.

N.B. It is a mortal sin for a Chartreux to eat half an ounce of mutton,
but he may with a safe conscience devour the entire substance of a
family. I have seen the Chartreux in my neighborhood inherit a hundred
thousand crowns from one of their mainmortable slaves, who had made a
fortune by commerce at Frankfort. But all the truth must be told; it is
no less true, that his family enjoys the right of soliciting alms at the
gate of the convent.

Let us suppose that the monks have still fifty or sixty thousand slaves
in the kingdom of France. Time has not been found hitherto to reform
this Christian jurisprudence; but something is beginning to be thought
about it. It is only to wait a few hundred years, until the debts of the
state be paid.


Fable supposes that one Epimenides in a single nap, slept twenty-seven
years, and that on his awaking he was quite astonished at finding his
grandchildren--who asked him his name--married, his friends dead, his
town and the manners of its inhabitants changed. It was a fine field for
criticism, and a pleasant subject for a comedy. The legend has borrowed
all the features of the fable, and enlarged upon them.

The author of the "Golden Legend" was not the first who, in the
thirteenth century, instead of one sleeper, gave us seven, and bravely
made them seven martyrs. He took his edifying history from Gregory de
Tours, a veridical writer, who took it from Sigebert, who took it from
Metaphrastes, who had taken it from Nicephorus. It is thus that truth is
handed down from man to man.

The reverend father Peter Ribadeneira, of the company of Jesus, goes
still further in this celebrated "Flower of the Saints," of which
mention Is made in Molière's "_Tartuffe_." It was translated, augmented;
and enriched with engravings, by the reverend Antony Girard, of the same
society: nothing was wanting to it.

Some of the curious will doubtless like to see the prose of the reverend
father Girard: behold a specimen! "In the time of the emperor Decius,
the Church experienced a violent and fearful persecution. Among other
Christians, seven brothers were accused, young, well disposed, and
graceful; they were the children of a knight of Ephesus, and called
Maximilian, Marius, Martinian, Dionysius, John, Serapion, and
Constantine. The emperor first took from them their golden girdles; then
they hid themselves in a cavern, the entrance of which Decius caused to
be walled up that they might die of hunger."

Father Girard proceeds to say, that all seven quickly fell asleep, and
did not awake again until they had slept one hundred and seventy-seven

Father Girard, far from believing that this is the dream of a man awake,
proves its authenticity by the most demonstrative arguments; and when
he could find no other proof, alleges the names of these seven
sleepers--names never being given to people who have not existed. The
seven sleepers doubtless could neither be deceived nor deceivers, so
that it is not to dispute this history that we speak of it, but merely
to remark that there is not a single fabulous event of antiquity which
has not been _rectified_ by ancient legendaries. All the history of
Œdipus, Hercules, and Theseus is found among them, accommodated to
their style. They have invented little, but they have _perfected_ much.

I ingenuously confess that I know not whence Nicephorus took this fine
story. I suppose it was from the tradition of Ephesus; for the cave of
the seven sleepers, and the little church dedicated to them, still
exist. The least awakened of the poor Greeks still go there to perform
their devotions. Sir Paul Rycaut and several other English travellers
have seen these two monuments; but as to their devotions there, we hear
nothing about them.

Let us conclude this article with the reasoning of Abbadie: "These are
memorials instituted to celebrate forever the adventure of the seven
sleepers. No Greek in Ephesus has ever doubted of it, and these Greeks
could not have been deceived, nor deceive anybody else; therefore the
history of the seven sleepers is incontestable."


St. Paul says, that the Cretans were all "liars," "evil beasts," and
"slow bellies." The physician Hequet understood by slow bellies, that
the Cretans were costive, which vitiated their blood, and rendered them
ill-disposed and mischievous. It is doubtless very true that persons of
this habit are more prone to choler than others: their bile passes not
away, but accumulates until their blood is overheated.

When you have a favor to beg of a minister, or his first secretary,
inform yourself adroitly of the state of his stomach, and always seize
on "mollia fandi tempora."

No one is ignorant that our character and turn of mind are intimately
connected with the water-closet. Cardinal Richelieu was sanguinary,
because he had the piles, which afflicted his rectum and hardened his
disposition. Queen Anne of Austria always called him "_cul pourri_"
(sore bottom), which nickname redoubled his bile, and possibly cost
Marshal Marillac his life, and Marshal Bassompierre his liberty; but I
cannot discover why certain persons should be greater liars than others.
There is no known connection between the anal sphincter and falsehood,
like that very sensible one between our stomach and our passions, our
manner of thinking and our conduct.

I am much disposed to believe, that by "slow bellies" St. Paul
understood voluptuous men and gross feeders--a kind of priors, canons,
and abbots-commendatory--rich prelates, who lay in bed all the morning
to recover from the excesses of the evening, as Marot observes in his
eighty-sixth epigram in regard to a fat prior, who lay in bed and
fondled his grandson while his partridges were preparing:

     _Un gros prieur son petit fils baisait,_
     _Et mignardait au matin dans sa couche,_
     _Tandis rôtir sa perdrix en faisait, etc._

But people may lie in bed all the morning without being either liars, or
badly disposed. On the contrary, the voluptuously indolent are generally
socially gentle, and easy in their commerce with the world.

However this may be, I regret that St. Paul should offend an entire
people. In this passage, humanly speaking, there is neither politeness,
ability, or even truth. Nothing is gained from men by calling them evil
beasts; and doubtless men of merit were to be found in Crete. Why thus
outrage the country of Minos, which Archbishop Fénelon, infinitely more
polished than St. Paul, so much eulogizes in his "Telemachus"?

Was not St. Paul somewhat difficult to live with, of a proud spirit, and
of a hard and imperious character? If I had been one of the apostles, or
even a disciple only, I should infallibly have quarrelled with him. It
appears to me, that the fault was all on his side, in his dispute with
Simon Peter Barjonas. He had a furious passion for domination. He often
boasts of being an apostle, and more an apostle than his associates--he
who had assisted to stone St. Stephen, he who had been assistant
persecutor under Gamaliel, and who was called upon to weep longer for
his crimes than St. Peter for his weakness!--always, however, humanly

He boasts of being a Roman citizen born at Tarsus, whereas St. Jerome
pretends that he was a poor provincial Jew, born at Giscala in Galilee.
In his letters addressed to the small flock of his brethren, he always
speaks magisterially: "I will come," says he to certain Corinthians,
"and I will judge of you all on the testimony of two or three witnesses;
and I will neither pardon those who have sinned, nor others." This "nor
others" is somewhat severe.

Many men at present would be disposed to take the part of St. Peter
against St. Paul, but for the episode of Ananias and Sapphira, which has
intimidated persons inclined to bestow alms.

I return to my text of the Cretan liars, evil beasts, and slow bellies;
and I recommend to all missionaries never to commence their labors among
any people with insults.

It is not that I regard the Cretans as the most just and respectable of
men, as they were called by fabulous Greece. I pretend not to reconcile
their pretended virtue with the pretended bull of which the beautiful
Pasiphæ was so much enamored; nor with the skill exerted by the artisan
Dædalus in the construction of a cow of brass, by which Pasiphæ was
enabled to produce a Minotaur, to whom the pious and equitable Minos
sacrificed every year--and not every nine years--seven grown-up boys and
seven virgins of Athens.

It is not that I believe in the hundred large cities in Crete, meaning a
hundred poor villages standing upon a long and narrow rock, with two or
three towns. It is to be regretted that Rollin, in his elegant
compilation of "Ancient History," has repeated so many of the ancient
fables of Crete, and that of Minos among others.

With respect to the poor Greeks and Jews who now inhabit the steep
mountains of this island, under the government of a pasha, they may
possibly be liars and evil disposed, but I cannot tell if they are slow
of digestion: I sincerely hope, however, that they have sufficient to


Great men have all been formed either before academies or independent of
them. Homer and Phidias, Sophocles and Apelles, Virgil and Vitruvius,
Ariosto and Michelangelo, were none of them academicians. Tasso
encountered only unjust criticism from the Academy della Crusca, and
Newton was not indebted to the Royal Society of London for his
discoveries in optics, upon gravitation, upon the integral calculus, and
upon chronology. Of what use then are academies? To cherish the fire
which great genius has kindled.

The Royal Society of London was formed in 1660, six years before the
French Academy of Science. It has no rewards like ours, but neither has
it any of the disagreeable distinctions invented by the abbé Bignon, who
divided the Academy of Sciences between those who paid, and honorary
members who were not learned. The society of London being independent,
and only self-encouraged, has been composed of members who have
discovered the laws of light, of gravitation, of the aberration of the
stars, the reflecting telescope, the fire engine, solar microscope, and
many other inventions, as useful as admirable. Could they have had
greater men, had they admitted pensionaries or honorary members?

The famous Doctor Swift, in the last years of the reign of Queen Anne,
formed the idea of establishing an academy for the English language,
after the model of the Académie Française. This project was countenanced
by the earl of Oxford, first lord of the treasury, and still more by
Lord Bolingbroke, secretary of state, who possessed the gift of speaking
extempore in parliament with as much purity as Doctor Swift composed in
his closet, and who would have been the patron and ornament of this
academy. The members likely to compose it were men whose works will last
as long as the English language. Doctor Swift would have been one, and
Mr. Prior, whom we had among us as public minister, and who enjoyed a
similar reputation in England to that of La Fontaine among ourselves.
There were also Mr. Pope, the English Boileau, and Mr. Congreve, whom
they call their Molière, and many more whose names escape my
recollection. The queen, however, dying suddenly, the Whigs took it into
their heads to occupy themselves in hanging the protectors of academies,
a process which is very injurious to the belles-lettres. The members of
this body would have enjoyed much greater advantages than were possessed
by the first who composed the French Academy. Swift, Prior, Congreve,
Dryden, Pope, Addison, and others, had fixed the English language by
their writings, whereas Chapelain, Colletet, Cassaigne, Faret, and
Cotin, our first academicians, were a scandal to the nation; and their
names have become so ridiculous that if any author had the misfortune to
be called Chapelain or Cotin at present, he would be obliged to change
his name.

Above all, the labors of an English academy would have materially
differed from our own. One day, a wit of that country asked me for the
memoirs of the French Academy. It composes no memoirs, I replied; but it
has caused sixty or eighty volumes of compliments to be printed. He ran
through one or two, but was not able to comprehend the style, although
perfectly able to understand our best authors. "All that I can learn by
these fine compositions," said he to me, "is, that the new member,
having assured the body that his predecessor was a great man, Cardinal
Richelieu a very great man, and Chancellor Séguier a tolerably great
man, the president replies by a similar string of assurances, to which
he adds a new one, implying that the new member is also a sort of great
man; and as for himself, the president, he may also perchance possess a
spice of pretension." It is easy to perceive by what fatality all the
academic speeches are so little honorable to the body. "_Vitium est
temporis, potius quam hominis_." It insensibly became a custom for every
academician to repeat those eulogies at his reception; and thus the body
imposed upon themselves a kind of obligation to fatigue the public. If
we wish to discover the reason why the most brilliant among the men of
genius, who have been chosen by this body, have so frequently made the
worst speeches, the cause may be easily explained. It is, that they have
been anxious to shine, and to treat worn-out matter in a new way. The
necessity of saying something; the embarrassment produced by the
consciousness of having nothing to say; and the desire to exhibit
ability, are three things sufficient to render even a great man
ridiculous. Unable to discover new thoughts, the new members fatigue
themselves for novel terms of expression, and often speak without
thinking; like men who, affecting to chew with nothing in their mouths,
seem to eat while perishing with hunger. Instead of a law in the French
Academy to have these speeches printed, a law should be passed in
prevention of that absurdity.

The Academy of Belles-Lettres imposed upon itself a task more judicious
and useful--that of presenting to the public a collection of memoirs
comprising the most critical and curious disquisitions and researches.
These memoirs are already held in great esteem by foreigners. It is only
desirable, that some subjects were treated more profoundly, and others
not treated of at all. They might, for example, very well dispense with
dissertations upon the prerogative of the right hand over the left; and
of other inquiries which, under a less ridiculous title, are not less
frivolous. The Academy of Sciences, in its more difficult and useful
investigation, embraces a study of nature, and the improvement of the
arts; and it is to be expected that studies so profound and
perseveringly pursued, calculations so exact, and discoveries so
refined, will in the end produce a corresponding benefit to the world at

As to the French Academy, what services might it not render to letters,
to the language, and the nation, if, instead of printing volumes of
compliments every year, it would reprint the best works of the age of
Louis XIV., purified from all the faults of language which have crept
into them! Corneille and Molière are full of them, and they swarm in La
Fontaine. Those which could not be corrected might at least be marked,
and Europe at large, which reads these authors, would then learn our
language with certainty, and its purity would be forever fixed. Good
French books, printed with care at the expense of the king, would be
one of the most glorious monuments of the nation. I have heard say, that
M. Despréaux once made this proposal, which has since been renewed by a
man whose wit, wisdom, and sound criticism are generally acknowledged;
but this idea has met with the fate of several other useful
projects--that of being approved and neglected.


Is the mould broken of those who loved virtue for itself, of a
Confucius, a Pythagoras, a Thales, a Socrates? In their time, there were
crowds of devotees to their pagods and divinities; minds struck with
fear of Cerberus and of the Furies, who underwent initiations,
pilgrimages, and mysteries, who ruined themselves in offerings of black
sheep. All times have seen those unfortunates of whom Lucretius speaks:

     _Qui quocumque tamen miseri venere parentant,_
     _Et nigras mactant pecudes, et manibu Divis_
     _In ferias mittunt; multoque in rebus acerbis_
     _Acrius advertunt animus ad religionem._
                               --LUCRETIUS, iii, 51-54.

     Who sacrifice black sheep on every tomb
     To please the manes; and of all the rout
     When cares and dangers press, grow most devout.

Mortifications were in use; the priests of Cybele castrated themselves
to preserve continence. How comes it, that among all the martyrs of
superstition, antiquity reckons not a single great man--a sage? It is,
that fear could never make virtue, and that great men have been
enthusiasts in moral good. Wisdom was their predominant passion; they
were sages as Alexander was a warrior, as Homer was a poet, and Apelles
a painter--by a superior energy and nature; which is all that is meant
by the demon of Socrates.

One day, two citizens of Athens, returning from the temple of Mercury,
perceived Socrates in the public place. One said to the other: "Is not
that the rascal who says that one can be virtuous without going every
day to offer up sheep and geese?" "Yes," said the other, "that is the
sage who has no religion; that is the atheist who says there is only one
God." Socrates approached them with his simple air, his dæmon, and his
irony, which Madame Dacier has so highly exalted. "My friends," said he
to them, "one word, if you please: a man who prays to God, who adores
Him, who seeks to resemble Him as much as human weakness can do, and who
does all the good which lies in his power, what would you call him?" "A
very religious soul," said they. "Very well; we may therefore adore the
Supreme Being, and have a great deal of religion?" "Granted," said the
two Athenians. "But do you believe," pursued Socrates, "that when the
Divine Architect of the world arranged all the globes which roll over
our heads, when He gave motion and life to so many different beings, He
made use of the arm of Hercules, the lyre of Apollo, or the flute of
Pan?" "It is not probable," said they. "But if it is not likely that He
called in the aid of others to construct that which we see, it is not
probable that He preserves it through others rather than through
Himself. If Neptune was the absolute master of the sea, Juno of the air,
Æolus of the winds, Ceres of harvests--and one would have a calm, when
the other would have rain--you feel clearly, that the order of nature
could not exist as it is. You will confess, that all depends upon Him
who has made all. You give four white horses to the sun, and four black
ones to the moon; but is it not more likely, that day and night are the
effect of the motion given to the stars by their Master, than that they
were produced by eight horses?" The two citizens looked at him, but
answered nothing. In short, Socrates concluded by proving to them, that
they might have harvests without giving money to the priests of Ceres;
go to the chase without offering little silver statues to the temple of
Diana; that Pomona gave not fruits; that Neptune gave not horses; and
that they should thank the Sovereign who had made all.

His discourse was most exactly logical. Xenophon, his disciple, a man
who knew the world, and who afterwards sacrificed to the wind, in the
retreat of the ten thousand, took Socrates by the sleeve, and said to
him: "Your discourse is admirable; you have spoken better than an
oracle; you are lost; one of these honest people to whom you speak is a
butcher, who sells sheep and geese for sacrifices; and the other a
goldsmith, who gains much by making little gods of silver and brass for
women. They will accuse you of being a blasphemer, who would diminish
their trade; they will depose against you to Melitus and Anitus, your
enemies, who have resolved upon your ruin: have a care of hemlock; your
familiar spirit should have warned you not to say to a butcher and a
goldsmith what you should only say to Plato and Xenophon."

Some time after, the enemies of Socrates caused him to be condemned by
the council of five hundred. He had two hundred and twenty voices in his
favor, which may cause it to be presumed that there were two hundred and
twenty philosophers in this tribunal; but it shows that, in all
companies, the number of philosophers is always the minority.

Socrates therefore drank hemlock, for having spoken in favor of the
unity of God; and the Athenians afterwards consecrated a temple to
Socrates--to him who disputed against all temples dedicated to inferior


Several kings have been good scholars, and have written good books. The
king of Prussia, Frederick the Great, is the latest example we have had
of it: German monarchs will be found who compose French verses, and who
write the history of their countries. James I. in England, and even
Henry VIII. have written. In Spain, we must go back as far as Alphonso
X. Still it is doubtful whether he put his hand to the "Alphonsine

France cannot boast of having had an author king. The empire of Germany
has no book from the pen of its emperors; but Rome was glorified in
Cæsar, Marcus Aurelius, and Julian. In Asia, several writers are
reckoned among the kings. The present emperor of China, Kien Long,
particularly, is considered a great poet; but Solomon, or Solyman, the
Hebrew, has still more reputation than Kien Long, the Chinese.

The name of Solomon has always been revered in the East. The works
believed to be his, the "Annals of the Jews," and the fables of the
Arabs, have carried his renown as far as the Indies. His reign is the
great epoch of the Hebrews.

He was the third king of Palestine. The First Book of Kings says that
his mother, Bathsheba, obtained from David, the promise that he should
crown Solomon, her son, instead of Adonijah, his eldest. It is not
surprising that a woman, an accomplice in the death of her first
husband, should have had artifice enough to cause the inheritance to be
given to the fruit of her adultery, and to cause the legitimate son to
be disinherited, who was also the eldest.

It is a very remarkable fact that the prophet Nathan, who reproached
David with his adultery, the murder of Uriah, and the marriage which
followed this murder, was the same who afterwards seconded Bathsheba in
placing that Solomon on the throne, who was born of this sanguine and
infamous marriage. This conduct, reasoning according to the flesh, would
prove, that the prophet Nathan had, according to circumstances, two
weights and two measures. The book even says not that Nathan received a
particular mission from God to disinherit Adonijah. If he had one, we
must respect it; but we cannot admit that we find it written.

It is a great question in theology, whether Solomon is most renowned for
his ready money, his wives, or his books. I am sorry that he commenced
his reign in the Turkish style by murdering his brother.

Adonijah, excluded from the throne by Solomon, asked him, as an only
favor, permission to espouse Abishag, the young girl who had been given
to David to warm him in his old age. Scripture says not whether Solomon
disputed with Adonijah, the concubine of his father; but it says, that
Solomon, simply on this demand of Adonijah, caused him to be
assassinated. Apparently God, who gave him the spirit of wisdom, refused
him that of justice and humanity, as he afterwards refused him the gift
of continence.

It is said in the same Book of Kings that he was the master of a great
kingdom which extended from the Euphrates to the Red Sea and the
Mediterranean; but unfortunately it is said at the same time, that the
king of Egypt conquered the country of Gezer, in Canaan, and that he
gave the city of Gezer as a portion to his daughter, whom it is
pretended that Solomon espoused. It is also said that there was a king
at Damascus; and the kingdoms of Tyre and Sidon flourished. Surrounded
thus with powerful states, he doubtless manifested his wisdom in living
in peace with them all. The extreme abundance which enriched his country
could only be the fruit of this profound wisdom, since, as we have
already remarked, in the time of Saul there was not a worker in iron in
the whole country. Those who reason find it difficult to understand how
David, the successor of Saul, so vanquished by the Philistines, could
have established so vast an empire.

The riches which he left to Solomon are still more wonderful; he gave
him in ready money one hundred and three thousand talents of gold, and
one million thirteen thousand talents of silver. The Hebraic talent of
gold, according; to Arbuthnot, is worth six thousand livres sterling,
the talent of silver, about five hundred livres sterling. The sum total
of the legacy in ready money, without the jewels and other effects, and
without the ordinary revenue--proportioned no doubt to this
treasure--amounted, according to this calculation, to one billion, one
hundred and nineteen millions, five hundred thousand pounds sterling, or
to five billions, five hundred and ninety-seven crowns of Germany, or to
twenty-five billions, forty-eight millions of francs. There was not then
so much money circulating through the whole world. Some scholars value
this treasure at a little less, but the sum is always very large for

We see not, after that, why Solomon should torment himself so much to
send fleets to Ophir to bring gold. We can still less divine how this
powerful monarch, in his vast states, had not a man who knew how to
fashion wood from the forest of Libanus. He was obliged to beg Hiram,
king of Tyre, to lend him wood cutters and laborers to work it. It must
be confessed that these contradictions exceedingly exercise the genius
of commentators.

Every day, fifty oxen, and one hundred sheep were served up for the
dinner and supper of his houses, and poultry and game in proportion,
which might be about sixty thousand pounds weight of meat per day. He
kept a good house. It is added, that he had forty thousand stables, and
as many houses for his chariots of war, but only twelve thousand stables
for his cavalry. Here is a great number of chariots for a mountainous
country; and it was a great equipage for a king whose predecessor had
only a mule at his coronation, and a territory which bred asses alone.

It was not becoming a prince possessing so many chariots to be limited
in the article of women; he therefore possessed seven hundred who bore
the name of queen; and what is strange, he had but three hundred
concubines; contrary to the custom of kings, who have generally more
mistresses than wives.

He kept four hundred and twelve thousand horses, doubtless to take the
air with them along the lake of Gennesaret, or that of Sodom, in the
neighborhood of the Brook of Kedron, which would be one of the most
delightful places upon earth, if the brook was not dry nine months of
the year, and if the earth was not horribly stony.

As to the temple which he built, and which the Jews believed to be the
finest work of the universe, if the Bramantes, the Michelangelos, and
the Palladios, had seen this building, they would not have admired it.
It was a kind of small square fortress, which enclosed a court; in this
court was one edifice of forty cubits long, and another of twenty; and
it is said, that this second edifice, which was properly the temple, the
oracle, the holy of holies, was only twenty cubits in length and
breadth, and twenty cubits high. M. Souflot would not have been quite
pleased with those proportions.

The books attributed to Solomon have lasted longer than his temple.

The name of the author alone has rendered these books respectable. They
should be good, since they were written by a king, and this king passed
for the wisest of men.

The first work attributed to him is that of Proverbs. It is a collection
of maxims, which sometimes appear to our refined minds trifling, low,
incoherent, in bad taste, and without meaning. People cannot be
persuaded that an enlightened king has composed a collection of
sentences, in which there is not one which regards the art of
government, politics, manners of courtiers, or customs of a court. They
are astonished at seeing whole chapters in which nothing is spoken of
but prostitutes, who invite passengers in the streets to lie with them.
They revolt against sentences in the following style: "There are three
things that are never satisfied, a fourth which never says 'enough'; the
grave; the barren womb; the earth that is not filled with water, are the
three; and the fourth is fire, which never sayeth 'enough.'

"There be three things which are too wonderful for me; yea, four which I
know not. The way of an eagle in the air, the way of a serpent upon a
rock, the way of a ship in the midst of the sea, and the way of a man
with a maid.

"There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are
exceeding wise. The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their
meat in the summer; the conies are but a feeble race, yet they make
their houses in rocks; the locusts have no king, yet go they forth all
of them by bands; the spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in
kings' palaces."

Can we impute such follies as these to a great king, to the wisest of
mortals? say the objectors. This criticism is strong; it should deliver
itself with more respect.

The Proverbs have been attributed to Isaiah, Elijah, Sobna, Eliakim,
Joachim, and several others; but whoever compiled this collection of
Eastern sentences, it does not appear that it was a king who gave
himself the trouble. Would he have said that the terror of the king is
like the roaring of a lion? It is thus that a subject or a slave speaks,
who trembles at the anger of his master. Would Solomon have spoken so
much of unchaste women? Would he have said: "Look thou not upon the wine
when it is red, when it giveth its color in the glass"?

I doubt very much whether there were any drinking glasses in the time of
Solomon; it is a very recent invention; all antiquity drank from cups of
wood or metal; and this single passage perhaps indicates that this
Jewish collection was composed in Alexandria, as well as most of the
other Jewish books.

The Book of Ecclesiastes, which is attributed to Solomon, is in quite a
different order and taste. He who speaks in this work seems not to be
deceived by visions of grandeur, to be tired of pleasures, and disgusted
with science. We have taken him for an Epicurean who repeats on each
page, that the just and unjust are subject to the same accidents; that
man is nothing more than the beast which perishes; that it is better not
to be born than to exist; that there is no other life; and that there is
nothing more good and reasonable than to enjoy the fruit of our labors
with a woman whom we love.

It might happen that Solomon held such discourse with some of his wives;
and it is pretended that these are objections which he made; but these
maxims, which have a libertine air, do not at all resemble objections;
and it is a joke to profess to understand in an author the exact
contrary of that which he says.

We believe that we read the sentiments of a materialist, at once sensual
and disgusted, who appears to have put an edifying word or two on God in
the last verse, to diminish the scandal which such a book must
necessarily create. As to the rest, several fathers say that Solomon did
penance; so that we can pardon him.

Critics have difficulty in persuading themselves that this book can be
by Solomon; and Grotius pretends that it was written under Zerubbabel.
It is not natural for Solomon to say: "Woe to thee, O land, when thy
king is a child!" The Jews had not then such kings.

It is not natural for him to say: "I observe the face of the king." It
is much more likely, that the author spoke of Solomon, and that by this
alienation of mind, which we discover in so many rabbins, he has often
forgotten, in the course of the book, that it was a king whom he caused
to speak.

What appears surprising to them is that this work has been consecrated
among the canonical books. If the canon of the Bible were to be
established now, say they, perhaps the Book of Ecclesiastes might not be
inserted; but it was inserted at a time when books were very rare, and
more admired than read. All that can be done now is to palliate the
Epicureanism which prevails in this work. The Book of Ecclesiastes has
been treated like many other things which disgust in a particular
manner. Being established in times of ignorance, we are forced, to the
scandal of reason, to maintain them in wiser times, and to disguise the
horror or absurdity of them by allegories. These critics are too bold.

The "Song of Songs" is further attributed to Solomon, because the name
of that king is found in two or three places; because it is said to the
beloved, that she is beautiful as the curtains of Solomon; because she
says that she is black, by which epithet it is believed that Solomon
designated his Egyptian wife.

These three reasons have not proved convincing:

1. When the beloved, in speaking to her lover, says "The king hath
brought me into his chamber," she evidently speaks of another than her
lover; therefore the king is not this lover; it is the king of the
festival; it is the paranymph, the master of the house, whom she means;
and this Jewess is so far from being the mistress of a king, that
throughout the work she is a shepherdess, a country girl, who goes
seeking her lover through the fields, and in the streets of the town,
and who is stopped at the gates by a porter who steals her garment.

2. "I am beautiful as the curtains of Solomon," is the expression of a
villager, who would say: I am as beautiful as the king's tapestries; and
it is precisely because the name of Solomon is found in this work, that
it cannot be his. What monarch could make so ridiculous a comparison?
"Behold," says the beloved, "behold King Solomon with the crown
wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals!" Who
recognizes not in these expressions the common comparisons which girls
make in speaking of their lovers? They say: "He is as beautiful as a
prince; he has the air of a king," etc.

It is true that the shepherdess, who is made to speak in this amorous
song, says that she is tanned by the sun, that she is brown. Now if this
was the daughter of the king of Egypt, she was not so tanned. Females of
quality in Egypt were fair. Cleopatra was so; and, in a word, this
person could not be at once a peasant and a queen.

A monarch who had a thousand wives might have said to one of them: "Let
her kiss me with the lips of her mouth; for thy breasts are better than
wine." A king and a shepherd, when the subject is of kissing, might
express themselves in the same manner. It is true, that it is strange
enough it should be pretended, that the girl speaks in this place, and
eulogizes the breasts of her lover.

We further avow that a gallant king might have said to his mistress: "A
bundle of myrrh is my well beloved unto me; he shall lie all night
between my breasts."

That he might have said to her: "Thy navel is like a round goblet which
wanteth not liquor; 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 as a tower of ivory; thine eyes like the fish pools in Heshbon; and
thy nose as the tower of Lebanon."

I confess that the "Eclogues" of Virgil are in a different style; but
each has his own, and a Jew is not obliged to write like Virgil.

We have not noticed this fine turn of Eastern eloquence: "We have a
little sister, and she hath no breasts. What shall we do for our sister
in the day when she shall be spoken for? If she be a wall, we will build
upon her; and if she be a door, we will close it."

Solomon, the wisest of men, might have spoken thus in his merry moods;
but several rabbins have maintained, not only that this voluptuous
eclogue was not King Solomon's, but that it is not authentic. Theodore
of Mopsuestes was of this opinion, and the celebrated Grotius calls the
"Song of Songs," a libertine flagitious work. However, it is
consecrated, and we regard it as a perpetual allegory of the marriage of
Jesus Christ with the Church. We must confess, that the allegory is
rather strong, and we see not what the Church could understand, when the
author says that his little sister has no breasts.

After all, this song is a precious relic of antiquity; it is the only
book of love of the Hebrews which remains to us. Enjoyment is often
spoken of in it. It is a Jewish eclogue. The style is like that of all
the eloquent works of the Hebrews, without connection, without order,
full of repetition, confused, ridiculously metaphorical, but containing
passages which breathe simplicity and love.

The "Book of Wisdom" is in a more serious taste; but it is no more
Solomon's than the "Song of Songs." It is generally attributed to Jesus,
the son of Sirac, and by some to Philo of Biblos; but whoever may be the
author, it is believed, that in his time the Pentateuch did not exist;
for he says in chapter x., that Abraham was going to sacrifice Isaac at
the time of the Deluge; and in another place he speaks of the patriarch
Joseph as of a king of Egypt. At least, it is the most natural sense.

The worst of it is, that the author in the same chapter pretends, that
in his time the statue of salt into which Lot's wife was changed was to
be seen. What critics find still worse is that the book appears to them
a tiresome mass of commonplaces; but they should consider that such
works are not made to follow the vain rules of eloquence. They are
written to edify, and not to please, and we should even combat our
disinclination to read them.

It is very likely that Solomon was rich and learned for his time and
people. Exaggeration, the inseparable companion of greatness, attributes
riches to him which he could not have possessed, and books which he
could not have written. Respect for antiquity has since consecrated
these errors.

But what signifies it to us, that these books were written by a Jew?
Our Christian religion is founded on the Jewish, but not on all the
books which the Jews have written.

For instance, why should the "Song of Songs" be more sacred to us than
the fables of Talmud? It is, say they, because we have comprised it in
the canon of the Hebrews. And what is this canon? It is a collection of
authentic works. Well, must a work be divine to be authentic? A history
of the little kingdoms of Judah and Sichem, for instance--is it anything
but a history? This is a strange prejudice. We hold the Jews in horror,
and we insist that all which has been written by them, and collected by
us, bears the stamp of Divinity. There never was so palpable a



I have seen a somnambulist, but he contented himself with rising,
dressing himself, making a bow, and dancing a minuet, all which he did
very properly; and having again undressed himself, returned to bed and
continued to sleep.

This comes not near the somnambulist of the "Encyclopædia." The last was
a young seminarist, who set himself to compose a sermon in his sleep. He
wrote it correctly, read it from one end to the other, or at least
appeared to read it, made corrections, erased some lines, substituted
others, and inserted an omitted word. He even composed music, noted it
with precision, and after preparing his paper with his ruler, placed the
words under the notes without the least mistake.

It is said, that an archbishop of Bordeaux has witnessed all these
operations, and many others equally astonishing. It is to be wished that
this prelate had affixed his attestation to the account, signed by his
grand vicars, or at least by his secretary.

But supposing that this somnambulist has done all which is imputed to
him, I would persist in putting the same queries to him as to a simple
dreamer. I would say to him: You have dreamed more forcibly than
another; but it is upon the same principle; one has had a fever only,
the other a degree of madness; but both the one and the other have
received ideas and sensations to which they have not attended. You have
both done what you did not intend to do.

Of two dreamers, the one has not a single idea, the other a crowd; the
one is as insensible as marble, while the other experiences desires and
enjoyments. A lover composes a song on his mistress in a dream, and in
his delirium imagines himself to be reading a tender letter from her,
which he repeats aloud:

     _Scribit amatori meretrix; dat adultera munus_
     _In noctis spatio miserorum vulnera durant._
                              --PETRONIUS, chap. civ.

Does anything pass within you during this powerful dream more than what
passes every day when you are awake?

You, Mr. Seminarist, born with the gift of imitation, you have listened
to some hundred sermons, and your brain is prepared to make them: moved
by the talent of imitation, you have written them waking; and you are
led by the same talent and impulse when you are asleep. But how have you
been able to become a preacher in a dream? You went to sleep, without
any desire to preach. Remember well the first time that you were led to
compose the sketch of a sermon while awake. You thought not of it a
quarter of an hour before; but seated in your chamber, occupied in a
reverie, without any determinate ideas, your memory recalls, without
your will interfering, the remembrance of a certain holiday; this
holiday reminds you that sermons are delivered on that day; you remember
a text; this text suggests an exordium; pens, ink, and paper, are lying
near you; and you begin to write things you had not the least previous
intention of writing. Such is precisely what came to pass in your

You believe yourself, both in the one and the other occupation, to have
done only what you intended to do; and you have been directed without
consciousness by all which preceded the writing of the sermon.

In the same manner when, on coming from vespers, you are shut up in your
cell to meditate, you have no design to occupy yourself with the image
of your fair neighbor; but it somehow or another intrudes; your
imagination is inflamed; and I need not refer to the consequences. You
may have experienced the same adventure in your sleep.

What share has your will had in all these modifications of sensation?
The same that it has had in the coursing of your blood through your
arteries and veins, in the action of your lymphatic vessels, or in the
pulsation of your heart, or of your brain.

I have read the article on "Dreams" in the "Encyclopædia," and have
understood nothing; and when I search after the cause of my ideas and
actions, either in sleeping or waking, I am equally confounded.

I know well, that a reasoner who would prove to me when I wake, and when
I am neither mad nor intoxicated, that I am then an active agent, would
but slightly embarrass me; but I should be still more embarrassed if I
undertook to prove to him that when he slept he was passive and a pure

Explain to me an animal who is a mere machine one-half of his life, and
who changes his nature twice every twenty-four hours.


_Letter on Dreams to the Editor of the Literary Gazette, August, 1764._

Gentlemen: All the objects of science are within your jurisdiction;
allow chimeras to be so also. "_Nil sub sole novum_"--"nothing new under
the sun". Thus it is not of anything which passes in noonday that I am
going to treat, but of that which takes place during the night. Be not
alarmed; it is only with dreams that I concern myself.

I confess, gentlemen, that I am constantly of the opinion of the
physician of M. Pourceaugnac; he inquires of his patient the nature of
his dreams, and M. Pourceaugnac, who is not a philosopher, replies that
they are of the nature of dreams. It is most certain however, with no
offence to your Limousin, that uneasy and horrible dreams denote pain
either of body or mind; a body overcharged with aliment, or a mind
occupied with melancholy ideas when awake.

The laborer who has waked without chagrin, and fed without excess,
sleeps sound and tranquil, and dreams disturb him not; so long as he is
in this state, he seldom remembers having a dream--a truth which I have
fully ascertained on my estate in Herefordshire. Every dream of a
forcible nature is produced by some excess, either in the passions of
the soul, or the nourishment of the body; it seems as if nature intended
to punish us for them, by suggesting ideas, and making us think in spite
of ourselves. It may be inferred from this, that those who think the
least are the most happy; but it is not that conclusion which I seek to

We must acknowledge, with Petronius, "_Quidquid luce fuit, tenebris
agit_." I have known advocates who have pleaded in dreams;
mathematicians who have sought to solve problems; and poets who have
composed verses. I have made some myself, which are very passable. It
is therefore incontestable, that consecutive ideas occur in sleep, as
well as when we are awake, which ideas as certainly come in spite of us.
We think while sleeping, as we move in our beds, without our will having
anything to do either in the motive or the thought. Your Father
Malebranche is right in asserting that we are not able to give ourselves
ideas. For why are we to be masters of them, when waking, more than
during sleep? If your Malebranche had stopped there, he would have been
a great philosopher; he deceived himself only by going too far: of him
we may say:

     _Processit longe flammantia mœnia mundi._
                                  --LUCRETIUS, i, 74.

     His vigorous and active mind was hurled
     Beyond the flaming limits of this world.

For my part, I am persuaded that the reflection that our thoughts
proceed not from ourselves, may induce the visit of some very good
thoughts. I will not, however, undertake to develop mine, for fear of
tiring some readers, and astonishing others.

I simply beg to say two or three words in relation to dreams. Have you
not found, like me, that they are the origin of the opinion so generally
diffused throughout antiquity, touching spectres and manes? A man
profoundly afflicted at the death of his wife or his son, sees them in
his sleep; he speaks to them; they reply to him; and to him they have
certainly appeared. Other men have had similar dreams; it is therefore
impossible to deny that the dead may return; but it is certain, at the
same time, that these deceased, whether inhumed, reduced to ashes, or
buried in the abyss of the sea, have not been able to reserve their
bodies; it is, therefore, the soul which we have seen. This soul must
necessarily be extended, light, and impalpable, because in speaking to
it we have not been able to embrace it: "_Effugit imago par levibus
ventis_." It is moulded and designed from the body that it inhabits,
since it perfectly resembles it. The name of shade or manes is given it;
from all which a confused idea remains in the head, which differs itself
so much more because no one can understand it.

Dreams also appear to me to have been the sensible origin of primitive
prophecy or prediction. What more natural or common than to dream that a
person dear to us is in danger of dying, or that we see him expiring?
What more natural, again, than that such a person may really die soon
after this ominous dream of his friend? Dreams which have come to pass
are always predictions which no one can doubt, no account being taken of
the dreams which are never fulfilled; a single dream accomplished has
more effect than a hundred which fail. Antiquity abounds with these
examples. How constructed are we for the reception of error! Day and
night unite to deceive us!

You see, gentlemen, that by attending to these ideas, we may gather
some fruit from the book of my compatriot, the dreamer; but I finish,
lest you should take me myself for a mere visionary.


                                  JOHN DREAMER.


_Of Dreams._

According to Petronius, dreams are not of divine origin, but

    _Somnia qua mentes ludunt volitantibus umbris,_
    _Non delumbra deum nec ab æthere numina mittunt,_
    _Sed sibi quisque facit._

But how, all the senses being defunct in sleep, does there remain an
internal one which retains consciousness? How is it, that while the eyes
see not, the ears hear not, we notwithstanding understand in our dreams?
The hound renews the chase in a dream: he barks, follows his prey, and
is in at the death. The poet composes verses in his sleep; the
mathematician examines his diagram; and the metaphysician reasons well
or ill; of all which there are striking examples.

Are they only the organs of the machine which act? Is it the pure soul,
submitted to the empire of the senses, enjoying its faculties at

If the organs alone produce dreams by night, why not alone produce ideas
by day? If the soul, pure and tranquil, acting for itself during the
repose of the senses, is the sole cause of our ideas while we are
sleeping, why are all these ideas usually irregular, unreasonable, and
incoherent? What! at a time when the soul is least disturbed, it is so
much disquieted in its imagination? Is it frantic when at liberty? If it
was produced with metaphysical ideas, as so many sages assert who dream
with their eyes open, its correct and luminous ideas of being, of
infinity, and of all the primary principles, ought to be revealed in the
soul with the greatest energy when the body sleeps. We should never be
good philosophers except when dreaming.

Whatever system we embrace, whatever our vain endeavors to prove that
the memory impels the brain, and that the brain acts upon the soul, we
must allow that our ideas come, in sleep, independently of our will. It
is therefore certain that we can think seven or eight hours running
without the least intention of doing so, and even without being certain
that we think. Pause upon that, and endeavor to divine what there is in
this which is animal.

Dreams have always formed a great object of superstition, and nothing is
more natural. A man deeply affected by the sickness of his mistress
dreams that he sees her dying; she dies the next day; and of course the
gods have predicted her death.

The general of an army dreams that he shall gain a battle; he
subsequently gains one; the gods had decreed that he should be a
conqueror. Dreams which are accomplished are alone attended to. Dreams
form a great part of ancient history, as also of oracles.

The "Vulgate" thus translates the end of Leviticus, xix, 26: "You shall
not observe dreams." But the word "dream" exists not in the Hebrew; and
it would be exceedingly strange, if attention to dreams was reproved in
the same book in which it is said that Joseph became the benefactor of
Egypt and his family, in consequence of his interpretation of three

The interpretation of dreams was a thing so common, that the supposed
art had no limits, and the interpreter was sometimes called upon to say
what another person had dreamed. Nebuchadnezzar, having forgotten his
dream, orders his Magi to say what it was he had dreamed, and threatened
them with death if they failed; but the Jew Daniel, who was in the
school of the Magi, saved their lives by divining at once what the king
had dreamed, and interpreting it. This history, and many others, may
serve to prove that the laws of the Jews did not forbid oneiromancy,
that is to say, the science of dreams.


                          Lausanne, Oct. 25, 1757.

In one of my dreams, I supped with M. Touron, who appeared to compose
verses and music, which he sang to us. I addressed these four lines to
him in my dream:

     _Mon cher Touron, que tu m'enchantes_
     _Par la douceur de tes accens!_
     _Que tes vers sont doux et coulans!_
     _Tu les fais comme tu tes chantes._

     Thy gentle accents, Touron dear,
     Sound most delightful to my ear!
     With how much ease the verses roll,
     Which flow, while singing, from thy soul!

In another dream, I recited the first canto of the "Henriade" quite
different from what it is. Yesterday, I dreamed that verses were recited
at supper, and that some one pretended they were too witty. I replied
that verses were entertainments given to the soul, and that ornaments
are necessary in entertainments.

I have therefore said things in my sleep which I should have some
difficulty to say when awake; I have had thoughts and reflections, in
spite of myself, and without the least voluntary operation on my own
part, and nevertheless combined my ideas with sagacity, and even with
genius. What am I, therefore, if not a machine?


A geometrician, a little severe, thus addressed us one day: There is
nothing in literature more dangerous than rhetorical sophists; and among
these sophists none are more unintelligible and unworthy of being
understood than the divine Plato.

The only useful idea to be found in him, is that of the immortality of
the soul, which was already admitted among cultivated nations; but,
then, how does he prove this immortality?

We cannot too forcibly appeal to this proof, in order to correctly
appreciate this famous Greek. He asserts, in his "Phædon" that death is
the opposite of life, that death springs from life, and the living from
the dead, consequently that our souls will descend beneath the earth
when we die.

If it is true that the sophist Plato, who gives himself out for the
enemy of all sophists, reasons always thus, what have been all these
pretended great men, and in what has consisted their utility?

The grand defect of the Platonic philosophy is the transformation of
abstract ideas into realities. A man can only perform a fine action,
because a beauty really exists, which is its archetype.

We cannot perform any action, without forming an idea of the
action--therefore these ideas exist I know not where, and it is
necessary to study them.

God formed an idea of the world before He created it. This was His
_logos_: the world, therefore, is the production of the _logos_!

What disputes, how many vain and even sanguinary contests, has this
manner of argument produced upon earth! Plato never dreamed that his
doctrine would be able, at some future period, to divide a church which
in his time was not in existence.

To conceive a just contempt for all these foolish subtilties, read
Demosthenes, and see if in any one of his harangues he employs one of
these ridiculous sophisms. It is a clear proof that, in serious
business, no more attention is paid to these chimeras than in a council
of state to theses of theology.

Neither will you find any of this sophistry in the speeches of Cicero.
It was a jargon of the schools, invented to amuse idleness--the quackery
of mind.



This is a vague and indeterminate term, expressing an unknown principle
of known effects, which we feel in ourselves. This word "soul" answers
to the "anima" of the Latins--to the "pneuma" of the Greeks--to the term
which each and every nation has used to express what they understood no
better than we do.

In the proper and literal sense of the Latin and the languages derived
from it, it signifies that which animates. Thus people say, the soul of
men, of animals, and sometimes of plants, to denote their principle of
vegetation and life. This word has never been uttered with any but a
confused idea, as when it is said in Genesis: "God breathed into his
nostrils the breath of life, and he became a living soul"; and: "The
soul of animals is in the blood"; and: "Stay not my soul."

Thus the soul was taken for the origin and the cause of life, and for
life itself. Hence all known nations long imagined that everything died
with the body. If anything can be discerned with clearness in the chaos
of ancient histories, it seems that the Egyptians were at least the
first who made a distinction between the intelligence and the soul; and
the Greeks learned from them to distinguish their "_nous_" and their
"_pneuma_." The Latins, after the example of the Greeks, distinguished
"_animus_" and "_anima_"; and we have, too, our soul and our
understanding. But are that which is the principle of our life, and that
which is the principle of our thoughts, two different things? Does that
which causes us to digest, and which gives us sensation and memory,
resemble that which is the cause of digestion in animals, and of their
sensations and memory?

Here is an eternal object for disputation: I say an eternal object, for
having no primitive notion from which to deduce in this investigation,
we must ever continue in a labyrinth of doubts and feeble conjectures.

We have not the smallest step on which to set our foot, to reach the
slightest knowledge of what makes us live and what makes us think. How
should we? For we must then have seen life and thought enter a body.
Does a father know how he produced his son? Does a mother know how she
conceived him? Has anyone ever been able to divine how he acts, how he
wakes, or how he sleeps? Does anyone know how his limbs obey his will?
Has anyone discovered by what art his ideas are traced in his brain, and
issue from it at his command? Feeble automata, moved by the invisible
hand which directs us on the stage of this world, which of us has ever
perceived the thread which guides us?

We dare to put in question, whether the intelligent soul is spirit or
matter; whether it is created before us, or proceeds from nothing at our
birth; whether, after animating us for a day on this earth, it lives
after us in eternity. These questions appear sublime; what are they?
Questions of blind men asking one another: What is light?

When we wish to have a rude knowledge of a piece of metal, we put it on
the fire in a crucible; but have we any crucible wherein to put the
soul? It is spirit, says one; but what is spirit? Assuredly, no one
knows. This is a word so void of meaning, that to tell what spirit is,
you are obliged to say what it is not. The soul is matter, says another;
but what is matter? We know nothing of it but a few appearances and
properties; and not one of these properties, not one of these
appearances, can bear the least affinity to thought.

It is something distinct from matter, you say; but what proof have you
of this? Is it because matter is divisible and figurable, and thought is
not? But how do you know that the first principles of matter are
divisible and figurable? It is very likely that they are not; whole
sects of philosophers assert that the elements of matter have neither
figure nor extent. You triumphantly exclaim: Thought is neither wood,
nor stone, nor sand, nor metal; therefore, thought belongs not to
matter. Weak and presumptuous reasoners! Gravitation is neither wood,
nor sand, nor metal, nor stone; nor is motion, or vegetation, or life,
any of all these; yet life, vegetation, motion, gravitation, are given
to matter. To say that God cannot give thought to matter, is to say the
most insolently absurd thing that has ever been advanced in the
privileged schools of madness and folly. We are not assured that God has
done this; we are only assured that He can do it. But of what avail is
all that has been said, or all that will be said, about the soul? What
avails it that it has been called "_entelechia_," quintessence, flame,
ether--that it has been believed to be universal, uncreated,

Of what avail, in these questions inaccessible to reason, are the
romances of our uncertain imaginations? What avails it, that the fathers
in the four primitive ages believed the soul to be corporeal? What
avails it that Tertullian, with a contradictoriness that was familiar to
him, decided that it is at once corporeal, figured, and simple? We have
a thousand testimonies of ignorance, but not one which affords us a ray
of probability.

How, then, shall we be bold enough to affirm what the soul is? We know
certainly that we exist, that we feel, that we think. Seek we to advance
one step further--we fall into an abyss of darkness; and in this abyss,
we have still the foolish temerity to dispute whether this soul, of
which we have not the least idea, is made before us or with us, and
whether it is perishable or immortal?

The article on "Soul," and all articles belonging to metaphysics,
should begin with a sincere submission to the indubitable tenets of the
Church. Revelation is doubtless much better than philosophy. Systems
exercise the mind, but faith enlightens and guides it.

Are there not words often pronounced of which we have but a very
confused idea, or perhaps no idea at all? Is not the word "soul" one of
these? When the tongue of a pair of bellows is out of order, and the
air, escaping through the valve, is not driven with violence towards the
fire, the maid-servant says: "The soul of the bellows is burst." She
knows no better, and the question does not at all disturb her quiet.

The gardener uses the expression, "Soul of the plants"; and cultivates
them very well without knowing what the term means.

The musical-instrument maker places, and shifts forward or backward, the
soul of a violin, under the bridge, in the interior of the instrument: a
sorry bit of wood more or less gives it or takes from it a harmonious

We have several manufactures in which the workmen give the appellation
of "soul" to their machines; but they are never heard to dispute about
the word: it is otherwise with philosophers.

The word "soul," with us, signifies in general that which animates. Our
predecessors, the Celts, gave their soul the name of "_seel_," of which
the English have made soul, while the Germans retain "_seel_"; and it
is probable that the ancient Teutons and the ancient Britons had no
university quarrels about this expression.

The Greeks distinguished three sorts of souls: "_Psyche_," signifying
the sensitive soul--the soul of the senses; and hence it was that Love,
the son of Aphrodite, had so much passion for Psyche, and that she loved
him so tenderly; "_Pneuma_," the breath which gave life and motion to
the whole machine, and which we have rendered by "_spiritus_"--spirit--a
vague term, which has received a thousand different acceptations: and
lastly, "_nous_," intelligence.

Thus we possess three souls, without having the slightest notion of any
one of them. St. Thomas Aquinas admits these three souls in his quality
of peripatetic, and distinguishes each of the three into three parts.

"_Psyche_" was in the breast; "_Pneuma_" was spread throughout the body;
and "_Nous_" was in the head. There was no other philosophy in our
schools until the present day; and woe to the man who took one of these
souls for another!

In this chaos of ideas, there was however a foundation. Men had clearly
perceived that in their passions of love, anger, fear, etc., motions
were excited within them; the heart and the liver were the seat of the
passions. When thinking deeply, one feels a laboring in the organs of
the head; "therefore, the intellectual soul is in the brain. Without
respiration there is no vegetation, no life; therefore, the vegetative
soul is in the breast, which receives the breath of the air."

When men had seen in their sleep their dead relatives or friends, they
necessarily sought to discover what had appeared to them. It was not the
body, which had been consumed on a pile or swallowed up in the sea and
eaten by the fishes. However, they would declare it was something, for
they had seen it; the dead man had spoken; the dreamer had questioned
him. Was it "_Psyche_"; was it "_Pneuma_"; was it "_Nous_" with whom he
had conversed in his sleep? Then a phantom was imagined--a slight
figure; it was "_skia_"--it was "_daimonos_"--a shade of the manes; a
small soul of air and fire, extremely slender, wandering none knew

In after times, when it was determined to sound the matter, the
undisputed result was, that this soul was corporeal, and all antiquity
had no other idea of it. At length came Plato, who so subtilized this
soul, that it was doubted whether he did not entirely separate it from
matter; but the problem was never resolved until faith came to enlighten

In vain do the materialists adduce the testimony of some fathers of the
Church who do not express themselves with exactness. St. Irenæus says
that the soul is but the breath of life, that it is incorporeal only in
comparison with the mortal body, and that it retains the human figure in
order that it may be recognized.

In vain does Tertullian express himself thus:

"The corporality of the soul shines forth in the Gospel. _'Corporalitas
animæ in ipso evangelio relucesseit.'_" For if the soul had not a body,
the image of the soul would not have the image of the body.

In vain does he even relate the vision of a holy woman who had seen a
very brilliant soul of the color of the air.

In vain does Tatian expressly say:

     _Ψυχὴ μὲν οὖν εἰ τῶν ἀνθρώπων πυλυμερής ἐστιν_

--"The soul of man is composed of several parts."

In vain do they adduce St. Hilary, who said in later times: "There is
nothing created which is not corporeal, neither in heaven nor on earth;
neither visible nor invisible; all is formed of elements; and souls,
whether they inhabit a body or are without a body, have always a
corporeal substance."

In vain does St. Ambrose, in the fourth century, say: "We know nothing
but what is material, excepting only the ever-venerable Trinity."

The whole body of the Church has decided that the soul is immaterial.
These holy men had fallen into an error then universal; they were men:
but they were not mistaken concerning immortality, because it is
evidently announced in the Gospels.

So evident is our need of the decision of the infallible Church on these
points of philosophy, that indeed we have not of ourselves any
sufficient notion of what is called pure spirit, nor of what is called
matter. Pure spirit is an expression which gives us no idea; and we are
acquainted with matter only by a few phenomena. So little do we know of
it, that we call it substance, which word "substance" means that which
is beneath; but this beneath will eternally be concealed from us; this
beneath is the Creator's secret, and this secret of the Creator is
everywhere. We do not know how we receive life, how we give it, how we
grow, how we digest, how we sleep, how we think, nor how we feel. The
great difficulty is, to comprehend how a being, whatsoever it be, has


_Locke's Doubts concerning the Soul._

The author of the article on "Soul," in the "Encyclopædia," who has
scrupulously followed Jacquelot, teaches us nothing. He also rises up
against Locke, because the modest Locke has said:

"Perhaps we shall never be capable of knowing whether a material being
thinks or not; for this reason--that it is impossible for us to
discover, by the contemplation of our own ideas, 'without revelation,'
whether God has not given to some portion of matter, disposed as He
thinks fit, the power of perceiving and thinking; or whether He has
joined and united to matter so disposed, an immaterial and thinking
substance. For with regard to our notions, it is no less easy for us to
conceive that God can, if He pleases, add to an idea of matter the
faculty of thinking, than to comprehend that He joins to it another
substance with the faculty of thinking; since we know not in what
thought consists, nor to what kind of substance this all-powerful Being
has thought fit to grant this power, which could be created only by
virtue of the good-will and pleasure of the Creator. I do not see that
there is any contradiction in God--that thinking, eternal, and
all-powerful Being--giving, if He wills it, certain degrees of feeling,
perception, and thought, to certain portions of matter, created and
insensible, which He joins together as he thinks fit."

This was speaking like a profound, religious, and modest man. It is
known what contests he had to maintain concerning this opinion, which he
appeared to have hazarded, but which was really no other than a
consequence of the conviction he felt of the omnipotence of God, and the
weakness of man. He did not say that matter thought; but he said that we
do not know enough to demonstrate that it is impossible for God to add
the gift of thought to the unknown being called "matter," after granting
to it those of gravitation and of motion, which are equally

Assuredly, Locke was not the only one who advanced this opinion; it was
that of all the ancients--regarding the soul only as very subtile
matter, they consequently affirmed that matter could feel and think.

Such was the opinion of Gassendi, as we find in his objections to
Descartes. "It is true," says Gassendi, "that you know that you think;
but you, who think, know not of what kind of substance you are. Thus,
though the operation of thought is known to you, the principle of your
essence is hidden from you, and you do not know what is the nature of
that substance, one of the operations of which is to think. You resemble
a blind man who, feeling the heat of the sun, and being informed that it
is caused by the sun, should believe himself to have a clear and
distinct idea of that luminary, because, if he were asked what the sun
is, he could answer, that it is a thing which warms...."

The same Gassendi, in his "Philosophy of Epicurus," repeats several
times that there is no mathematical evidence of the pure spirituality of
the soul.

Descartes, in one of his letters to Elizabeth, princess palatine, says
to her: "I confess, that by natural reason alone, we can form many
conjectures about the soul, and conceive flattering hopes; but we can
have no assurance." And here Descartes combats in his letters what he
advances in his books--a too ordinary contradiction.

We have seen, too, that all the fathers in the first ages of the Church,
while they believed the soul immortal, believed it to be material. They
thought it as easy for God to preserve as to create. They said, God made
it thinking, He will preserve it thinking.

Malebranche has clearly proved, that by ourselves we have no idea, and
that objects are incapable of giving us any; whence he concludes that we
see all things in God. This, in substance, is the same as making God
the author of all our ideas; for wherewith should we see ourselves in
Him, if we had not instruments for seeing? and these instruments are
held and directed by him alone. This system is a labyrinth, of which one
path would lead you to Spinozism, another to Stoicism, another to chaos.

When men have disputed well and long on matter and spirit, they always
end in understanding neither one another nor themselves. No philosopher
has ever been able to lift by his own strength the veil which nature has
spread over the first principle of things. They dispute, while nature is


_On the Souls of Beasts, and on Some Empty Ideas._

Before the strange system which supposes animals to be pure machines
without any sensation, men had never imagined an immaterial soul in
beasts; and no one had carried temerity so far as to say that an oyster
has a spiritual soul. All the world peaceably agreed that beasts had
received from God feeling, memory, ideas, but not a pure spirit. No one
had abused the gift of reason so far as to say that nature has given to
beasts the organs of feeling, in order that they may have no feeling. No
one had said that they cry out when wounded, and fly when pursued,
without experiencing either pain or fear.

God's omnipotence was not then denied: it was in His power to
communicate to the organized matter of animals pleasure, pain,
remembrance, the combination of some ideas; it was in His power to give
to several of them, as the ape, the elephant, the hound, the talent of
perfecting themselves in the arts which are taught them: not only was it
in His power to endow almost all carnivorous animals with the talent of
making war better in their experienced old age than in their confiding
youth; not only was it in His power to do this, but He had done it, as
the whole world could witness.

Pereira and Descartes maintained against the whole world that it was
mistaken; that God had played the conjurer; that He had given to animals
all the instruments of life and sensation, that they might have neither
sensation or life properly so called. But some pretended philosophers, I
know not whom, in order to answer Descartes' chimera, threw themselves
into the opposite chimera very liberally, giving "pure spirit" to toads
and insects. "_In vitium ducit culpæ fuga._"

Betwixt these two follies, the one depriving of feeling the organs of
feeling, the other lodging pure spirit in a bug--a mean was imagined,
viz., instinct. And what is "instinct"? Oh! it is a substantial form; it
is a plastic form; it is a--I know not what--it is instinct. I will be
of your opinion, so long as you apply to most things "I know not what";
so long as your philosophy shall begin and end with "I know not"; but
when you "affirm," I shall say to you with Prior, in his poem on the
vanity of the world:

     Then vainly the philosopher avers
     That reason guides our deeds, and instinct theirs.
     How can we justly different causes frame,
     When the effects entirely are the same?
     Instinct and reason how can we divide?
     'Tis the fool's ignorance, and the pedant's pride.

The author of the article on "Soul," in the "Encyclopædia," explains
himself thus: "I represent to myself the soul of beasts as a substance
immaterial and intelligent." But of what kind? It seems to me, that it
must be an active principle having sensations, and only sensations....
If we reflect on the nature of the souls of beasts, it does not of
itself give us any grounds for believing that their spirituality will
save them from annihilation.

I do not understand how you represent to yourself an immaterial
substance. To represent a thing to yourself is to make to yourself an
image of it; and hitherto no one has been able to paint the mind. I am
willing to suppose that by the word "represent," the author means I
"conceive"; for my part, I own that I do not conceive it. Still less do
I conceive how a spiritual soul is annihilated, because I have no
conception of creation or of nothing; because I never attended God's
council; because I know nothing at all of the principle of things.

If I seek to prove that the soul is a real being, I am stopped, and told
that it is a faculty. If I affirm that it is a faculty, and that I have
that of thinking, I am answered, that I mistake; that God, the eternal
master of all nature, does everything in me, directing all my actions,
and all my thoughts; that if I produced my thoughts, I should know
those which I should have the next minute; that I never know this; that
I am but an automaton with sensations and ideas, necessarily dependent,
and in the hands of the Supreme Being, infinitely more subject to Him
than clay is to the potter.

I acknowledge then my ignorance; I acknowledge that four thousand
volumes of metaphysics will not teach us what our soul is.

An orthodox philosopher said to a heterodox philosopher, "How can you
have brought yourself to imagine that the soul is of its nature mortal,
and that it is eternal only by the pure will of God?" "By my
experience," says the other. "How! have you been dead then?" "Yes, very
often: in my youth I had a fit of epilepsy; and I assure you, that I was
perfectly dead for several hours: I had no sensation, nor even any
recollection from the moment that I was seized. The same thing happens
to me now almost every night. I never feel precisely the moment when I
fall asleep, and my sleep is absolutely without dreams. I cannot
imagine, but by conjectures, how long I have slept. I am dead regularly
six hours in twenty-four, which is one-fourth of my life."

The orthodox then maintained against him that he always thought while he
was asleep, without his knowing of it. The heterodox replied: "I
believe, by revelation, that I shall think forever in the next world;
but I assure you, that I seldom think in this."

The orthodox was not mistaken in affirming the immortality of the soul,
since faith demonstrates that truth; but he might be mistaken in
affirming that a sleeping man constantly thinks.

Locke frankly owned that he did not always think while he was asleep.
Another philosopher has said: "Thought is peculiar to man, but it is not
his essence."

Let us leave every man at liberty to seek into himself and to lose
himself in his ideas. However, it is well to know that in 1750, a
philosopher underwent a very severe persecution, for having
acknowledged, with Locke, that his understanding was not exercised every
moment of the day and of the night, no more than his arms or his legs.
Not only was he persecuted by the ignorance of the court, but the
malicious ignorance of some pretended men of letters assailed the object
of persecution. That which in England had produced only some
philosophical disputes, produced in France the most disgraceful
atrocities: a Frenchman was made the victim of Locke.

There have always been among the refuse of our literature, some of those
wretches who have sold their pens and caballed against their very
benefactors. This remark is to be sure foreign to the article on "Soul":
but ought one to lose a single opportunity of striking terror into those
who render themselves unworthy of the name of literary men, who
prostitute the little wit and conscience they have to a vile interest,
to a chimerical policy, who betray their friends to flatter fools, who
prepare in secret the hemlock-draught with which powerful and wicked
ignorance would destroy useful citizens.

Did it ever occur in true Rome, that a Lucretius was denounced to the
consuls for having put the system of Epicurus into verse; a Cicero, for
having repeatedly written, that there is no pain after death; or that a
Pliny or a Varro was accused of having peculiar notions of the divinity?
The liberty of thinking was unlimited among the Romans. Those of harsh,
jealous, and narrow minds, who among us have endeavored to crush this
liberty--the parent of our knowledge, the mainspring of the
understanding--have made chimerical dangers their pretext; they have
forgotten that the Romans, who carried this liberty much further than we
do, were nevertheless our conquerors, our lawgivers; and that the
disputes of schools have no more to do with government than the tub of
Diogenes had with the victories of Alexander.

This lesson is worth quite as much as a lesson on the soul. We shall
perhaps have occasion more than once to recur to it.

In fine, while adoring God with all our soul, let us ever confess our
profound ignorance concerning that soul--that faculty of feeling and
thinking which we owe to His infinite goodness. Let us acknowledge that
our weak reasonings can neither take from nor add to revelation and
faith. Let us, in short, conclude that we ought to employ this
intelligence, whose nature is unknown, in perfecting the sciences which
are the object of the "Encyclopædia," as watchmakers make use of springs
in their watches, without knowing what _spring_ is.


_On the Soul, and on our Ignorance._

Relying on our acquired knowledge, we have ventured to discuss the
question: Whether the soul is created before us? Whether it arrives from
nothing in our bodies? At what age it came and placed itself between the
bladder and the intestines, "cæcum" and "rectum"? Whether it received or
brought there any ideas, and what those ideas are? Whether, after
animating us for a few moments, its essence is to live after us in
eternity, without the intervention of God Himself? Whether, it being a
spirit, and God being spirit, they are of like nature? These questions
have an appearance of sublimity. What are they but questions of men born
blind discussing the nature of light?

What have all the philosophers, ancient and modern, taught us? A child
is wiser than they: he does not think about what he cannot conceive.

How unfortunate, you will say, for an insatiable curiosity, for an
unquenchable thirst after well-being, that we are thus ignorant of
ourselves! Granted: and there are things yet more unfortunate than this;
but I will answer you: "_Sors tua mortalis, non est mortale quod
optas."_--"Mortal thy fate, thy wishes those of gods."

Once more let it be repeated, the nature of every principle of things
appears to be the secret of the Creator. How does the air convey sound?
How are animals formed? How do some of our members constantly obey our
will? What hand places ideas in our memory, keeps them there as in a
register, and draws them thence sometimes at our command, and sometimes
in spite of us? Our own nature, that of the universe, that of the
smallest plant--all, to us, involved in utter darkness.

Man is an acting, feeling, and thinking being; this is all we know of
the matter: it is not given to us to know either what renders us feeling
or thinking, or what makes us act, or what causes us to be. The acting
faculty is to us as incomprehensible as the thinking faculty. The
difficulty is not so much to conceive how this body of clay has feelings
and ideas as to conceive how a being, whatever it be, has ideas and

Behold on one hand the soul of Archimedes, and on the other that of a
simpleton; are they of the same nature? If their essence is to think,
then they think always and independently of the body, which cannot act
without them. If they think by their own nature, can a soul, which is
incapable of performing a single arithmetical operation, be of the same
species as that which has measured the heavens? If it is the organs of
the body that have made Archimedes think, why does not my idiot think,
seeing that he is better constituted than Archimedes, more vigorous,
digesting better, performing all his functions better? Because, say you,
his brain is not so good; but you suppose this; you have no knowledge of
it. No difference has ever been found among sound brains that have been
dissected; indeed, it is very likely that the brain-pan of a blockhead
would be found in a better state than that of Archimedes, which has been
prodigiously fatigued, and may be worn and contracted.

Let us then conclude what we have concluded already, that we are
ignorant of all first principles. As for those who are ignorant and
self-sufficient, they are far below the ape.

Now then dispute, ye choleric arguers; present memorials against one
another; abuse one another; pronounce your sentences--you who know not a
syllable of the matter!


_Warburtons Paradox on the Immortality of the Soul._

Warburton, the editor and commentator of Shakespeare, and Bishop of
Gloucester, using English liberty, and abusing the custom of
vituperating against adversaries, has composed four volumes to prove
that the immortality of the soul was never announced in the Pentateuch;
and to conclude from this very proof, that the mission of Moses, which
he calls "legation," was divine. The following is an abstract of his
book, which he himself gives at the commencement of the first volume:

"1. That to inculcate the doctrine of a future state of rewards and
punishments is necessary to the well-being of civil society.

"2. That all mankind [wherein he is mistaken], especially the most wise
and learned nations of antiquity, have concurred in believing and
teaching, that this doctrine was of such use to civil society.

"3. That the doctrine of a future state of rewards and punishments is
not to be found in, nor did it make part of, the Mosaic dispensation.

"That therefore the law of Moses is of divine origin;

"Which one or both of the two following syllogisms will evince:

"I. Whatever religion and society have no future state for their support
must be supported by an extraordinary Providence.

"The Jewish religion and society had no future state for their support;

"Therefore the Jewish religion and society were supported by an
extraordinary Providence.

"And again,

"II. The ancient lawgivers universally believed that such a religion
could be supported only by an extraordinary Providence.

"Moses, an ancient lawgiver, versed in all the wisdom of Egypt,
purposely instituted such a religion; Therefore Moses believed his
religion was supported by an extraordinary Providence."

What is most extraordinary, is this assertion of Warburton, which he has
put in large characters at the head of his work. He has often been
reproached with his extreme temerity and dishonesty in daring to say
that all ancient lawgivers believed that a religion which is not founded
on rewards and punishments after death cannot be upheld but by an
extraordinary Providence: not one of them ever said so. He does not even
undertake to adduce a single instance of this in his enormous book,
stuffed with an immense number of quotations, all foreign to the
subject. He has buried himself under a heap of Greek and Latin authors,
ancient and modern, that no one may reach him through this horrible
accumulation of coverings. When at length the critic has rummaged to the
bottom, the author is raised to life from among all those dead, to load
his adversaries with abuse.

It is true, that near the close of the fourth volume, after ranging
through a hundred labyrinths, and fighting all he met with on the way,
he does at last come back to his great question from which he has so
long wandered. He takes up the Book of Job, which the learned consider
as the work of an Arab; and he seeks to prove, that Job did not believe
in the immortality of the soul. He then explains, in his own way, all
the texts of Scripture that have been brought to combat his opinion.

All that should be said of him is, that if he was in the right, it was
not for a bishop to be so in the right. He should have felt that two
dangerous consequences might be drawn: but all goes by chance in this
world. This man, who became an informer and a persecutor, was not made a
bishop through the patronage of a minister of state, until immediately
after he wrote his book.

At Salamanca, at Coimbra, or at Rome, he would have been obliged to
retract and to ask pardon. In England he became a peer of the realm,
with an income of a hundred thousand livres. Here was something to
soften his manners.


_On the Need of Revelation._

The greatest benefit for which we are indebted to the New Testament is
its having revealed to us the immortality of the soul. It is therefore
quite in vain that this Warburton has sought to cloud this important
truth, by continually representing, in his "Legation of Moses," that
"the ancient Jews had no knowledge of this necessary dogma," and that
"the Sadducees did not admit it in the time of our Lord Jesus."

He interprets in his own way, the very words which Jesus Christ is made
to utter: "Have ye not read that which is spoken unto you by God saying,
I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob: God
is not the God of the dead, but of the living." He gives to the parable
of the rich bad man a sense contrary to that of all the churches.
Sherlock, bishop of London, and twenty other learned men, have refuted
him. Even the English philosophers have reminded him how scandalous it
is in an English bishop to manifest an opinion so contrary to the Church
of England; and after all, this man has thought proper to call others
impious: like Harlequin, in the farce of "The Housebreaker" (_Le
Dévaliseur des Maisons_) who, after throwing the furniture out at the
window, seeing a man carrying some articles away, cries with all his
might--"Stop, thief!"

The revelation of the immortality of the soul, and of pains and rewards
after death, is the more to be blessed, as the vain philosophy of men
always doubted of it. The great Cæsar had no faith in it. He explained
himself clearly to the whole senate, when, to prevent Catiline from
being put to death, he represented to them that death left man without
feeling--that all died with him: and no one refuted this opinion.

The Roman Empire was divided between two great principal sects: that of
Epicurus, who affirmed that the divinity was useless to the world, and
the soul perished with the body; and that of the Stoics, who regarded
the soul as a portion of the divinity, which after death was reunited to
its original--to the great All from which it had emanated. So that,
whether the soul was believed to be mortal, or to be immortal, all
sects united in contemning the idea of rewards and punishments after

There are still remaining numerous monuments of this belief of the
Romans. It was from the force of this opinion profoundly engraved on all
hearts, that so many Roman heroes and so many private citizens put
themselves to death without the smallest scruple; they did not wait for
a tyrant to deliver them into the hands of the executioner.

Even the most virtuous men, and the most thoroughly persuaded of the
existence of a God, did not then hope any reward, nor did they fear any
punishment. It has been seen in the article on "Apocrypha," that Clement
himself, who was afterwards pope and saint, began with doubting what the
first Christians said of another life, and that he consulted St. Peter
at Cæsarea. We are very far from believing that St. Clement wrote the
history which is attributed to him; but it shows what need mankind had
of a precise revelation. All that can surprise us is that a tenet so
repressing and so salutary should have left men a prey to so many
horrible crimes, who have so short a time to live, and find themselves
pressed between the eternities.


_Souls of Fools and Monsters._

A child, ill-formed, is born absolutely imbecile, has no ideas, lives
without ideas; instances of this have been known. How shall this animal
be defined? Doctors have said that it is something between man and
beast; others have said that it is a sensitive soul, but not an
intellectual soul: it eats, it drinks, it sleeps, it wakes, it has
sensations, but it does not think.

Is there for it another life, or is there none? The case has been put,
and has not yet been entirely resolved.

Some have said that this creature must have a soul, because its father
and its mother had souls. But by this reasoning it would be proved that
if it had come into the world without a nose, it should have the
reputation of having one, because its father and its mother had one.

A woman is brought to bed: her infant has no chin; its forehead is flat
and somewhat black, its eyes round, its nose thin and sharp; its
countenance is not much unlike that of a swallow: yet the rest of his
body is made like ours. It is decided by a majority of voices that it is
a man, and possesses an immaterial soul; whereupon the parents have it
baptized. But if this little ridiculous figure has pointed claws, and a
mouth in the form of a beak, it is declared to be a monster; it has no
soul; it is not baptized.

It is known, that in 1726, there was in London a woman who was brought
to bed every eight days of a young rabbit. No difficulty was made of
refusing baptism to this child, notwithstanding the epidemic folly which
prevailed in London for three weeks, of believing that this poor jade
actually brought forth wild rabbits. The surgeon who delivered her,
named St. André, swore that nothing was more true; and he was believed.
But what reason had the credulous for refusing a soul to this woman's
offspring? She had a soul; her children must likewise have been
furnished with souls, whether they had hands? or paws, whether they were
born with a snout or with a face: cannot the Supreme Being vouchsafe the
gift of thought and sensation to a little nondescript, born of a woman,
with the figure of a rabbit, as well as a little nondescript born with
the figure of a man? Will the soul which was ready to take up its abode
in this woman's fœtus return unhoused?

It is very well observed by Locke, with regard to monsters, that
immortality must not be attributed to the exterior of a body--that it
has nothing to do with the figure. "This immortality," says he, "is no
more attached to the form of one's face or breast than it is to the way
in which one's beard is clipped or one's coat is cut."

He asks: What is the exact measure of deformity by which you can
recognize whether an infant has a soul or not? What is the precise
degree at which it is to be declared a monster and without a soul?

Again, it is asked: What would a soul be that should have none but
chimerical ideas? There are some which never go beyond such. Are they
worthy or unworthy? What is to be made of their pure spirit?

What are we to think of a child with two heads, which is otherwise well
formed? Some say that it has two souls, because it is furnished with two
pineal glands, with two callous substances, with two "_sensoria
communia_." Others answer that there cannot be two souls, with but one
breast and one navel.

In short, so many questions have been asked about this poor human soul,
that if it were necessary to put an end to them all, such an examination
of its own person would cause it the most insupportable annoyance. The
same would happen to it as happened to Cardinal Polignac at a conclave:
his steward, tired of having never been able to make him pass his
accounts, took a journey to Rome, and went to the small window of his
cell, laden with an immense bundle of papers; he read for nearly two
hours; at last, finding that no answer was made, he thrust forward his
head: the cardinal had been gone almost two hours. Our souls will be
gone before their stewards have finished their statements; but let us be
just before God--ignorant as both we and our stewards are.

See what is said on the soul in the "Letters of Memmius."


_Different Opinions Criticised--Apology for Locke._

I must acknowledge, that when I examined the infallible Aristotle, the
evangelical doctor, and the divine Plato, I took all these epithets for
nicknames. In all the philosophers who have spoken of the human
soul, I have found only blind men, full of babble and temerity,
striving to persuade themselves that they have an eagle eye; and others,
curious and foolish, believing them on their word, and imagining that
they see something too.

[Illustration: John Locke.]

I shall not feign to rank Descartes and Malebranche with these teachers
of error. The former assures us that the soul of man is a substance,
whose essence is to think, which is always thinking, and which, in the
mother's womb, is occupied with fine metaphysical ideas and general
axioms, which it afterwards forgets.

As for Father Malebranche, he is quite persuaded that we see all in
God--and he has found partisans: for the most extravagant fables are
those which are the best received by the weak imaginations of men.
Various philosophers then had written the romance of the soul: at
length, a wise man modestly wrote its history. Of this history I am
about to give an abridgment, according to the conception I have formed
of it. I very well know that all the world will not agree with Locke's
ideas; it is not unlikely, that against Descartes and Malebranche, Locke
was right, but that against the Sorbonne he was wrong: I speak according
to the lights of philosophy, not according to the relations of the

It is not for me to think otherwise than humanly; theologians decide
divinely, which is quite another thing: reason and faith are of contrary
natures. In a word, here follows a short abstract of Locke, which I
would censure, if I were a theologian, but which I adopt for a moment,
simply as a hypothesis--a conjecture of philosophy. Humanly speaking,
the question is: What is the soul?

1. The word "soul" is one of those which everyone pronounces without
understanding it; we understand only those things of which we have an
idea; we have no idea of soul--spirit; therefore we do not understand

2. We have then been pleased to give the name of soul to the faculty of
feeling and thinking, as we have given that of life to the faculty of
living, and that of will to the faculty of willing.

Reasoners have come and said: Man is composed of matter and spirit:
matter is extended and divisible; spirit is neither extended nor
divisible; therefore, say they, it is of another nature. This is a
joining together of beings which are not made for each other, and which
God unites in spite of their nature. We see little of the body, we see
nothing of the soul; it has no parts, therefore it is eternal; it has
ideas pure and spiritual, therefore it does not receive them from
matter; nor does it receive them from itself, therefore God gives them
to it, and it brings with it at its birth the ideas of God, infinity,
and all general ideas.

Still humanly speaking, I answer these gentlemen that they are very
knowing. They tell us, first, that there is a soul, and then what that
soul must be. They pronounce the word "matter," and then plainly decide
what it is. And I say to them: You have no knowledge either of spirit or
of matter. By spirit you can imagine only the faculty of thinking; by
matter you can understand only a certain assemblage of qualities,
colors, extents, and solidities, which it has pleased you to call
matter; and you have assigned limits to matter and to the soul, even
before you are sure of the existence of either the one or the other.

As for matter, you gravely teach that it has only extent and solidity;
and I tell you modestly, that it is capable of a thousand properties
about which neither you nor I know anything. You say that the soul is
indivisible, eternal; and here you assume that which is in question. You
are much like the regent of a college, who, having never in his life
seen a clock, should all at once have an English repeater put into his
hands. This man, a good peripatetic, is struck by the exactness with
which the hands mark the time, and still more astonished that a button,
pressed by the finger, should sound precisely the hour marked by the
hand. My philosopher will not fail to prove that there is in this
machine a soul which governs it and directs its springs. He learnedly
demonstrates his opinion by the simile of the angels who keep the
celestial spheres in motion; and in the class he forms fine theses,
maintained on the souls of watches. One of his scholars opens the watch,
and nothing is found but springs; yet the system of the soul of watches
is still maintained, and is considered as demonstrated. I am that
scholar, opening the watch called man; but instead of boldly defining
what we do not understand, I endeavor to examine by degrees what we wish
to know.

Let us take an infant at the moment of its birth, and follow, step by
step, the progress of its understanding. You do me the honor of
informing me that God took the trouble of creating a soul, to go and
take up its abode in this body when about six weeks old; that this soul,
on its arrival, is provided with metaphysical ideas--having consequently
a very clear knowledge of spirit, of abstract ideas, of infinity--being,
in short, a very knowing person. But unfortunately it quits the uterus
in the uttermost ignorance: for eighteen months it knows nothing but its
nurse's teat; and when at the age of twenty years an attempt is made to
bring back to this soul's recollection all the scientific ideas which it
had when it entered its body, it is often too dull of apprehension to
conceive any one of them. There are whole nations which have never had
so much as one of these ideas. What, in truth, were the souls of
Descartes and Malebranche thinking of, when they imagined such reveries?
Let us then follow the idea of the child, without stopping at the
imaginings of the philosophers.

The day that his mother was brought to bed of him and his soul, there
were born in the house a dog, a cat, and a canary bird. At the end of
eighteen months I make the dog an excellent hunter; in a year the
canary bird whistles an air; in six weeks the cat is master of its
profession; and the child, at the end of four years, does nothing. I, a
gross person, witnessing this prodigious difference, and never having
seen a child, think at first that the cat, the dog, and the canary are
very intelligent creatures, and that the infant is an automaton.
However, by little and little, I perceive that this child has ideas and
memory, that he has the same passions as these animals; and then I
acknowledge that he is, like them, a rational creature. He communicates
to me different ideas by some words which he has learned, in like manner
as my dog, by diversified cries, makes known to me exactly his different
wants. I perceive at the age of six or seven years the child combines in
his little brain almost as many ideas as my hound in his; and at length,
as he grows older, he acquires an infinite variety of knowledge. Then
what am I to think of him? Shall I believe that he is of a nature
altogether different? Undoubtedly not; for you see on one hand an idiot,
and on the other a Newton; yet you assert that they are of one and the
same nature--that there is no difference but that of greater and less.
The better to assure myself of the verisimilitude of my probable
opinion, I examine the dog and the child both waking and sleeping--I
have them each bled immediately; then their ideas seem to escape with
their blood. In this state I call them--they do not answer; and if I
draw from them a few more ounces, my two machines, which before had
ideas in great plenty and passions of every kind, have no longer any
feeling. I next examine my two animals while they sleep; I perceive that
the dog, after eating too much, has dreams; he hunts and cries after the
game; my youngster, in the same state, talks to his mistress and makes
love in his dreams. If both have eaten moderately, I observe that
neither of them dream; in short, I see that the faculties of feeling,
perceiving, and expressing their ideas unfold themselves gradually, and
also become weaker by degrees. I discover many more affinities between
them than between any man of strong mind and one absolutely imbecile.
What opinion then shall I entertain of their nature? That which every
people at first imagined, before Egyptian policy asserted the
spirituality, the immortality, of the soul. I shall even suspect that
Archimedes and a mole are but different varieties of the same
species--as an oak and a grain of mustard are formed by the same
principles, though the one is a large tree and the other the seed of a
small plant. I shall believe that God has given portions of intelligence
to portions of matter organized for thinking; I shall believe that
matter has sensations in proportion to the fineness of its senses, that
it is they which proportion them to the measure of our ideas; I shall
believe that the oyster in its shell has fewer sensations and senses,
because its soul being attached to its shell, five senses would not at
all be useful to it. There are many animals with only two senses; we
have five--which are very few. It is to be believed that in other
worlds there are other animals enjoying twenty or thirty senses, and
that other species, yet more perfect, have senses to infinity.

Such, it appears to me, is the most natural way of reasoning on the
matter--that is, of guessing and inspecting with certainty. A long time
elapsed before men were ingenious enough to imagine an unknown being,
which is ourselves, which does all in us, which is not altogether
ourselves, and which lives after us. Nor was so bold an idea adopted all
at once. At first this word "soul" signifies life, and was common to us
and the other animals; then our pride made us a soul apart, and caused
us to imagine a substantial form for other creatures. This human pride
asks: What then is that power of perceiving and feeling, which in man is
called soul, and in the brute instinct? I will satisfy this demand when
the natural philosophers shall have informed me what is sound, light,
space, body, time. I will say, in the spirit of the wise Locke:
Philosophy consists in stopping when the torch of physical science fails
us. I observe the effects of nature; but I freely own that of first
principles I have no more conception than you have. All I do know is
that I ought not to attribute to several causes--especially to unknown
causes--that which I can attribute to a known cause; now I can attribute
to my body the faculty of thinking and feeling; therefore I ought not to
seek this faculty of thinking and feeling in another substance, called
soul or spirit, of which I cannot have the smallest idea. You exclaim
against this proposition. Do you then think it irreligious to dare to
say that the body can think? But what would you say, Locke would answer,
if you yourselves were found guilty of irreligion in thus daring to set
bounds to the power of God? What man upon earth can affirm, without
absurd impiety, that it is impossible for God to give to matter
sensation and thought? Weak and presumptuous that you are! you boldly
advance that matter does not think, because you do not conceive how
matter of any kind should think.

Ye great philosophers, who decide on the power of God, and say that God
can of a stone make an angel--do you not see that, according to
yourselves, God would in that case only give to a stone the power of
thinking? for if the matter of the stone did not remain, there would no
longer be a stone; there would be a stone annihilated and an angel
created. Whichever way you turn you are forced to acknowledge two
things--your ignorance and the boundless power of the Creator; your
ignorance, to which thinking matter is repugnant; and the Creator's
power, to which certes it is not impossible.

You, who know that matter does not perish, will dispute whether God has
the power to preserve in that matter the noblest quality with which He
has endowed it. Extent subsists perfectly without body, through Him,
since there are philosophers who believe in a void; accidents subsist
very well without substance with Christians who believe in
transubstantiation. God, you say, cannot do that which implies
contradiction. To be sure of this, it is necessary to know more of the
matter than you do know; it is all in vain; you will never know more
than this--that you are a body, and that you think. Many persons who
have learned at school to doubt of nothing, who take their syllogisms
for oracles and their superstitions for religion, consider Locke as
impious and dangerous. These superstitious people are in society what
cowards are in an army; they are possessed by and communicate panic
terror. We must have the compassion to dissipate their fears; they must
be made sensible that the opinions of philosophers will never do harm to
religion. We know for certain that light comes from the sun, and that
the planets revolve round that luminary; yet we do not read with any the
less edification in the Bible that light was made before the sun, and
that the sun stood still over the village of Gibeon. It is demonstrated
that the rainbow is necessarily formed by the rain; yet we do not the
least reverence the sacred text which says that God set His bow in the
clouds, after the Deluge, as a sign that there should never be another

What though the mystery of the Trinity and that of the eucharist are
contradictory to known demonstrations? They are not the less venerated
by Catholic philosophers, who know that the things of reason and those
of faith are different in their nature. The notion of the antipodes was
condemned by the popes and the councils; yet the popes discovered the
antipodes and carried thither that very Christian religion, the
destruction of which had been thought to be sure, in case there could be
found a man who, as it was then expressed, should have, as relative to
our own position, his head downwards and his feet upwards, and who, as
the very unphilosophical St. Augustine says, should have fallen from

And now, let me once repeat that, while I write with freedom, I warrant
no opinion--I am responsible for nothing. Perhaps there are, among these
dreams, some reasonings, and even some reveries, to which I should give
the preference; but there is not one that I would not unhesitatingly
sacrifice to religion and to my country.


I shall suppose a dozen of good philosophers in an island where they
have never seen anything but vegetables. Such an island, and especially
twelve such philosophers, would be very hard to find; however, the
fiction is allowable. They admire the life which circulates in the
fibres of the plants, appearing to be alternately lost and renewed; and
as they know not how a plant springs up, how it derives its nourishment
and growth, they call this a vegetative soul. What, they are asked, do
you understand by a vegetative soul? They answer: It is a word that
serves to express the unknown spring by which all this is operated. But
do you not see, a mechanic will ask them, that all this is naturally
done by weights, levers, wheels, and pulleys? No, the philosophers will
say; there is in this vegetation something other than ordinary motion;
there is a secret power which all plants have of drawing to themselves
the juices which nourish them; and this power cannot be explained by any
system of mechanics; it is a gift which God has made to matter, and the
nature of which neither you nor we comprehend.

After disputing thus, our reasoners at length discover animals. Oh, oh!
say they, after a long examination, here are beings organized like
ourselves. It is indisputable that they have memory, and often more than
we have. They have our passions; they have knowledge; they make us
understand all their wants; they perpetuate their species like us. Our
philosophers dissect some of these beings, and find in them hearts and
brains. What! say they, can the author of these machines, who does
nothing in vain, have given them all the organs of feeling, in order
that they may have no feeling? It were absurd to think so--there is
certainly something in thera which, for want of knowing a better term,
we likewise call soul--something that experiences sensations, and has a
certain number of ideas. But what is this principle? Is it something
absolutely different from matter? Is it a pure spirit? Is it a middle
being, between matter, of which we know little, and pure spirit, of
which we know nothing? Is it a property given by God to organized

They then make experiments upon insects; upon earth worms--they cut them
into several parts, and are astonished to find that, after a short time,
there come heads to all these divided parts; the same animal is
reproduced, and its very destruction becomes the means of its
multiplication. Has it several souls, which wait until the head is cut
off the original trunk, to animate the reproduced parts? They are like
trees, which put forth fresh branches, and are reproduced from slips.
Have these trees several souls? It is not likely. Then it is very
probable that the soul of these reptiles is of a different kind from
that which we call vegetative soul in plants; that it is a faculty of a
superior order, which God has vouchsafed to give to certain portions of
matter. Here is a fresh proof of His power--a fresh subject of

A man of violent temper, and a bad reasoner, hears this discourse and
says to them: You are wicked wretches, whose bodies should be burned for
the good of your souls, for you deny the immortality of the soul of man.
Our philosophers then look at one another in perfect astonishment, and
one of them mildly answers him: Why burn us so hastily? Whence have you
concluded that we have an idea that your cruel soul is mortal? From your
believing, returns the other, that God has given to the brutes which are
organized like us, the faculty of having feelings and ideas. Now this
soul of the beasts perishes with them; therefore you believe that the
soul of man perishes also.

The philosopher replies: We are not at all sure that what we call "soul"
in animal perishes with them; we know very well that matter does not
perish, and we believe that God may have put in animals something which,
if God will it, shall forever retain the faculty of having ideas. We are
very far from affirming that such is the case, for it is hardly for men
to be so confident; but we dare not set bounds to the power of God. We
say that it is very probable that the beasts, which are matter, have
received from Him a little intelligence. We are every day discovering
properties of matter--that is, presents from God--of which we had before
no idea. We at first defined matter to be an extended substance; next we
found it necessary to add solidity; some time afterwards we were obliged
to admit that this matter has a force which is called "_vis inertiæ_";
and after this, to our great astonishment, we had to acknowledge that
matter gravitates.

When we sought to carry our researches further, we were forced to
recognize beings resembling matter in some things, but without the
other, attributes with which matter is gifted. The elementary fire, for
instance, acts upon our senses like other bodies; but it does not, like
them, tend to a centre; on the contrary, it escapes from the centre in
straight lines on every side. It does not seem to obey the laws of
attraction, of gravitation, like other bodies. There are mysteries in
optics, for which it would be hard to account, without venturing to
suppose that the rays of light penetrate one another. There is certainly
something in light which distinguishes it from known matter. Light seems
to be a middle being between bodies and other kinds of beings of which
we are ignorant! It is very likely that these other kinds are themselves
a medium leading to other creatures, and that there is a chain of
substances extending to infinity. "_Usque adeo quod tangit idem est,
tamen ultima distant!_"

This idea seems to us to be worthy of the greatness of God, if anything
is worthy of it. Among these substances He has doubtless had power to
choose one which He has lodged in our bodies, and which we call the
human soul; and the sacred books which we have read inform us that this
soul is immortal. Reason is in accordance with revelation; for how
should any substance perish? Every mode is destroyed; the substance
remains. We cannot conceive the creation of a substance; we cannot
conceive its annihilation; but we dare not affirm that the absolute
master of all beings cannot also give feelings and perceptions to the
being which we call matter. You are quite sure that the essence of your
soul is to think; but we are not so sure of this; for when we examine a
fœtus, we can hardly believe that its soul had many ideas in its
head; and we very much doubt whether, in a sound and deep sleep, or in a
complete lethargy, any one ever meditated. Thus it appears to us that
thought may very well be, not the essence of the thinking being, but a
present made by the Creator to beings which we call thinking; from all
which we suspect that, if He would, He could make this present to an
atom; and could preserve this atom and His present forever, or destroy
it at His pleasure. The difficulty consists not so much in divining how
matter could think, as in divining how any substance whatever does
think. You have ideas only because God has been pleased to give them to
you; why would you prevent Him from giving them to other species? Can
you really be so fearless as to dare to believe that your soul is
precisely of the same kind as the substances which approach nearest to
the Divinity? There is great probability that they are of an order very
superior, and that consequently God has vouchsafed to give them a way of
thinking infinitely finer, just as He has given a very limited measure
of ideas to the animals which are of an order inferior to you. I know
not how I live, nor how I give life; yet you would have me know how I
have ideas. The soul is a timepiece which God has given us to manage;
but He has not told us of what the spring of this timepiece is composed.

Is there anything in all this from which it can be inferred that our
souls are mortal? Once more let us repeat it--we think as you do of the
immortality announced to us by faith; but we believe that we are too
ignorant to affirm that God has not the power of granting thought to
whatever being He pleases. You bound the power of the Creator, which is
boundless; and we extend it as far as His existence extends. Forgive us
for believing Him to be omnipotent, as we forgive you for restraining
His power. You doubtless know all that He can do, and we know nothing of
it. Let us live as brethren; let us adore our common Father in
peace--you with your knowing and daring souls, we with our ignorant and
timid souls. We have a day to live; let us pass it calmly, without
quarrelling about difficulties that will be cleared up in the immortal
life which will begin to-morrow.

The brutal man, having nothing good to say in reply, talked a long
while, and was very angry. Our poor philosophers employed themselves for
some weeks in reading history; and after reading well, they spoke as
follows to this barbarian, who was so unworthy to have an immortal soul:

My friend, we have read that in all antiquity things went on as well as
they do in our own times--that there were even greater virtues, and that
philosophers were not persecuted for the opinions which they held; why,
then, should you seek to injure us for opinions which we do not hold? We
read that all the ancients believed matter to be eternal. They who saw
that it was created left the others at rest. Pythagoras had been a cock,
his relations had been swine; but no one found fault with this; his sect
was cherished and revered by all, except the cooks and those who had
beans to sell.

The Stoics acknowledged a god, nearly the same as the god afterwards so
rashly admitted by the Spinozists; yet Stoicism was a sect the most
fruitful in heroic virtues, and the most accredited.

The Epicureans made their god like our canons, whose indolent corpulence
upholds their divinity, and who take their nectar and ambrosia in quiet,
without meddling with anything. These Epicureans boldly taught the
materiality and the mortality of the soul; but they were not the less
respected; they were admitted into all offices; and their crooked atoms
never did the world any harm.

The Platonists, like the Gymnosophists, did not do us the honor to think
that God had condescended to form us Himself. According to them, He left
this task to His officers--to genii, who in the course of their work
made many blunders. The god of the Platonists was an excellent workman,
who employed here below very indifferent assistants; but men did not the
less reverence the school of Plato.

In short, among the Greeks and the Romans, so many sects as there were,
so many ways of thinking about God and the soul, the past and the
future, none of these sects were persecutors. They were all
mistaken--and we are very sorry for it; but they were all peaceful--and
this confounds us, this condemns us, this shows us that most of the
reasoners of the present day are monsters, and that those of antiquity
were men. They sang publicly on the Roman stage: "_Post mortem nihil
est, ipsaque mors nihil._"--"Naught after death, and death is nothing."

These opinions made men neither better nor worse; all was governed, all
went on as usual; and Titus, Trajan, and Aurelius governed the earth
like beneficent deities.

Passing from the Greeks and the Romans to barbarous nations, let us only
contemplate the Jews. Superstitious, cruel, and ignorant as this
wretched people were, still they honored the Pharisees, who admitted the
fatality of destiny and the metempsychosis; they also paid respect to
the Sadducees, who absolutely denied the immortality of the soul and the
existence of spirits, taking for their foundation the law of Moses,
which had made no mention of pain or reward after death. The Essenes,
who also believed in fatality, and who never offered up victims in the
temple, were reverenced still more than the Pharisees and the Sadducees.
None of their opinions ever disturbed the government. Yet here were
abundant subjects for slaughtering, burning, and exterminating one
another, had they been so inclined. Oh, miserable men! profit by these
examples. Think, and let others think. It is the solace of our feeble
minds in this short life. What! will you receive with politeness a Turk,
who believes that Mahomet travelled to the moon; will you be careful not
to displease the pasha Bonneval; and yet will you have your brother
hanged, drawn, and quartered, because he believes that God created
intelligence in every creature?

So spake one of the philosophers; and another of them added: Believe me,
it need never be feared that any philosophical opinion will hurt the
religion of a country. What though our mysteries are contrary to our
demonstrations, they are not the less reverenced by our Christian
philosophers, who know that the objects of reason and faith are of
different natures. Philosophers will never form a religious sect; and
why? Because they are without enthusiasm. Divide mankind into twenty
parts; and of these, nineteen consist of those who labor with their
hands, and will never know that there has been such a person as Locke in
the world. In the remaining twentieth, how few men will be found who
read! and among those who read, there are twenty that read novels for
one that studies philosophy. Those who think are excessively few; and
those few do not set themselves to disturb the world.

Who are they who have waved the torch of discord in their native
country? Are they Pomponatius, Montaigne, La Vayer, Descartes, Gassendi,
Bayle, Spinoza, Hobbes, Shaftesbury, Boulainvilliers, the Consul
Maillet, Toland, Collins, Flood, Woolston, Bekker, the author disguised
under the name of Jacques Massé, he of the "Turkish Spy," he of the
"_Lettres Persanes_" of the "_Lettres Juives_," of the "_Pensées
Philosophiques_"? No; they are for the most part theologians, who,
having at first been ambitious of becoming leaders of a sect, have soon
become ambitious to be leaders of a party. Nay, not all the books of
modern philosophy put together will ever make so much noise in the world
as was once made by the dispute of the Cordeliers about the form of
their hoods and sleeves.


_On the Antiquity of the Dogma of the Immortality of the Soul--A

The dogma of the immortality of the soul is at once the most consoling
and the most repressing idea that the mind of man can receive. This fine
philosophy was as ancient among the Egyptians as their pyramids; and
before them it was known to the Persians. I have already elsewhere
related the allegory of the first Zoroaster, cited in the "Sadder," in
which God shows to Zoroaster a place of chastisement, such as the
_Dardaroth_ or _Keron_ of the Egyptians, the _Hades_ and the _Tartarus_
of the Greeks, which we have but imperfectly rendered in our modern
tongues by the words "_inferno_," "_enfer_," "infernal regions," "hell,"
"bottomless pit." In this place of punishment God showed to Zoroaster
all the bad kings; one of them had but one foot; Zoroaster asked the
reason; and God answered that this king had done only one good action in
his life, which was by approaching to kick forward a trough which was
not near enough to a poor ass dying of hunger. God had placed this
wicked man's foot in heaven; the rest of his body was in hell.

This fable, which cannot be too often repeated, shows how ancient was
the opinion of another life. The Indians were persuaded of it, as their
metempsychosis proves. The Chinese venerated the souls of their
ancestors. Each of these nations had founded powerful empires long
before the Egyptians. This is a very important truth, which I think I
have already proved by the very nature of the soil of Egypt. The most
favorable grounds must have been cultivated the first; the ground of
Egypt is the least favorable of all, being under water four months of
the year; it was not until after immense labor, and consequently after a
prodigious lapse of time, that towns were at length raised which the
Nile could not inundate.

This empire, then, ancient as it was, was much less ancient than the
empires of Asia; and in both one and the other it was believed that the
soul existed after death. It is true that all these nations, without
exception, considered the soul as a light ethereal form, an image of the
body; the Greek word signifying "breath" was invented long after by the
Greeks. But it is beyond a doubt that a part of ourselves was considered
as immortal. Rewards and punishments in another life were the grand
foundation of ancient theology.

Pherecides was the first among the Greeks who believed that souls
existed from all eternity, and not the first, as has been supposed, who
said that the soul survived the body. Ulysses, long before Pherecides,
had seen the souls of heroes in the infernal regions; but that souls
were as old as the world was a system which had sprung up in the East,
and was brought into the West by Pherecides. I do not believe that there
is among us a single system which is not to be found among the ancients.
The materials of all our modern edifices are taken from the wreck of


It would be a fine thing to see one's soul. "Know thyself" is an
excellent precept; but it belongs only to God to put it in practice. Who
but He can know His own essence?

We call "soul" that which animates. Owing to our limited intelligence we
know scarcely anything more of the matter. Three-fourths of mankind go
no further, and give themselves no concern about the thinking being; the
other fourth seek it; no one has found it, or ever will find it.

Poor pedant! thou seest a plant which vegetates, and thou sayest,
"vegetation," or perhaps "vegetative soul." Thou remarkest that bodies
have and communicate motion, and thou sayest, "force"; thou seest thy
dog learn his craft under thee, and thou exclaimest, "instinct,"
"sensitive soul"! Thou hast combined ideas, and thou exclaimest,

But pray, what dost thou understand by these words? This flower
vegetates; but is there any real being called vegetation? This body
pushes along another, but does it possess within itself a distinct being
called force? Thy dog brings thee a partridge, but is there any being
called instinct? Wouldst thou not laugh, if a reasoner--though he had
been preceptor to Alexander--were to say to thee: All animals live;
therefore there is in them a being, a substantial form, which is life?

If a tulip could speak and were to tell thee: I and my vegetation are
two beings evidently joined together; wouldst thou not laugh at the

Let us at first see what thou knowest, of what thou art certain; that
thou walkest with thy feet; that thou digestest with thy stomach; that
thou feelest with thy whole body; and that thou thinkest with thy head.
Let us see if thy reason alone can have given thee light enough by which
to conclude, without supernatural aid, that thou hast a soul.

The first philosophers, whether Chaldæans or Egyptians, said: There must
be something within us which produces our thoughts; that something must
be very subtile; it is a breath; it is fire; it is ether; it is a
quintessence; it is a slender likeness; it is an antelechia; it is a
number; it is a harmony. Lastly, according to the divine Plato, it is a
compound of the _same_ and the _other_. "It is atoms which think in us,"
said Epicurus, after Democrites. But, my friend, how does an atom think?
Acknowledge that thou knowest nothing of the matter.

The opinion which one ought to adopt is, doubtless, that the soul is an
immaterial being; but certainly we cannot conceive what an immaterial
being is. No, answer the learned; but we know that its nature is to
think. And whence do you know this? We know, because it does think. Oh,
ye learned! I am much afraid that you are as ignorant as Epicurus! The
nature of a stone is to fall, because it does fall; but I ask you, what
makes it fall?

We know, continue they, that a stone has no soul. Granted; I believe it
as well as you. We know that an affirmative and a negative are not
divisible, are not parts of matter. I am of your opinion. But matter,
otherwise unknown to us, possesses qualities which are not material,
which are not divisible; it has gravitation towards a centre, which God
has given it; and this gravitation has no parts; it is not divisible.
The moving force of bodies is not a being composed of parts. In like
manner the vegetation of organized bodies, their life, their instinct,
are not beings apart, divisible beings; you can no more cut in two the
vegetation of a rose, the life of a horse, the instinct of a dog, than
you can cut in two a sensation, an affirmation, a negation. Therefore
your fine argument, drawn from the indivisibility of thought, proves
nothing at all.

What, then, do you call your soul? What idea have you of it? You cannot
of yourselves, without revelation, admit the existence within you of
anything but a power unknown to you of feeling and thinking.

Now tell me honestly, is this power of feeling and thinking the same as
that which causes you to digest and to walk? You own that it is not; for
in vain might your understanding say to your stomach--Digest; it will
not, if it be sick. In vain might your immaterial being order your feet
to walk; they will not stir, if they have the gout.

The Greeks clearly perceived that thought has frequently nothing to do
with the play of our organs; they admitted the existence of an animal
soul for these organs, and for the thoughts a soul finer, more
subtile--a _nous_.

But we find that this soul of thought has, on a thousand occasions, the
ascendency over the animal soul. The thinking soul commands the hands to
take, and they obey. It does not tell the heart to beat, the blood to
flow, the chyle to form; all this is done without it. Here then are two
souls much involved, and neither of them having the mastery.

Now, this first animal soul certainly does not exist; it is nothing more
than the movement of our organs. Take heed, O man! lest thou have no
more proofs but thy weak reason that the other soul exists. Thou canst
not know it but by faith; thou art born, thou eatest, thou thinkest,
thou wakest, thou sleepest, without knowing how. God has given thee the
faculty of thinking, as He has given thee all the rest; and if He had
not come at the time appointed by His providence, to teach thee that
thou hast an immaterial and an immortal soul, thou wouldst have no
proof whatever of it.

Let us examine the fine systems on the soul, which thy philosophy has

One says that the soul of man is part of the substance of God Himself;
another that it is part of the great whole; a third that it is created
from all eternity; a fourth that it is made, and not created. Others
assure us that God makes souls according as they are wanted, and that
they arrive at the moment of copulation. They are lodged in the seminal
animalcules, cries one. No, says another, they take up their abode in
the Fallopian tubes. A third comes and says: You are all wrong; the soul
waits for six weeks, until the fœtus is formed, and then it takes
possession of the pineal gland; but if it finds a false conception, it
returns and waits for a better opportunity. The last opinion is that its
dwelling is in the callous body; this is the post assigned to it by La
Peyronie. A man should be first surgeon to the king of France to dispose
in this way of the lodging of the soul. Yet the callous body was not so
successful in the world as the surgeon was.

St. Thomas in his question 75 and following, says that the soul is a
form subsisting _per se_, that it is all in all, that its essence
differs from its power; that there are three vegetative souls, viz., the
nutritive, the argumentative, and the generative; that the memory of
spiritual things is spiritual, and the memory of corporeal things is
corporeal; that the rational soul is a form "immaterial as to its
operations, and material as to its being." St. Thomas wrote two thousand
pages, of like force and clearness; and he is the angel of the schools.

Nor have there been fewer systems contrived on the way in which this
soul will feel, when it shall have laid aside the body with which it
felt; how it will hear without ears, smell without a nose, and touch
without hands; what body it will afterwards resume, whether that which
it had at two years old, or at eighty; how the _I_--the identity of the
same person will subsist; how the soul of a man become imbecile at the
age of fifteen, and dying imbecile at the age of seventy, will resume
the thread of the ideas which he had at the age of puberty; by what
contrivance a soul, the leg of whose body shall be cut off in Europe,
and one of its arms lost in America, will recover this leg and arm,
which, having been transformed into vegetables, will have passed into
the blood of some other animal. We should never finish, if we were to
seek to give an account of all the extravagances which this poor human
soul has imagined about itself.

It is very singular that, in the laws of God's people, not a word is
said of the spirituality and immortality of the soul; nothing in the
Decalogue, nothing in Leviticus, or in Deuteronomy.

It is quite certain, it is indubitable, that Moses nowhere proposes to
the Jews pains and rewards in another life; that he never mentions to
them the immortality of their souls; that he never gives them hopes of
heaven, nor threatens them with hell; all is temporal.

Many illustrious commentators have thought that Moses was perfectly
acquainted with these two great dogmas; and they prove it by the words
of Jacob, who, believing that his son had been devoured by wild beasts,
said in his grief: "I will go down into the grave--_in infernum_--unto
my son"; that is, I will die, since my son is dead.

They further prove it by the passages in Isaiah and Ezekiel; but the
Hebrews, to whom Moses spoke, could not have read either Ezekiel or
Isaiah, who did not come until several centuries after.

It is quite useless to dispute about the private opinions of Moses. The
fact is that in his public laws he never spoke of a life to come; that
he limited all rewards and punishments to the time present. If he knew
of a future life, why did he not expressly set forth that dogma? And if
he did not know of it, what were the object and extent of his mission?
This question is asked by many great persons. The answer is, that the
Master of Moses, and of all men, reserved to Himself the right of
expounding to the Jews, at His own time, a doctrine which they were not
in a condition to understand when they were in the desert.

If Moses had announced the immortality of the soul, a great school among
the Jews would not have constantly combated it. This great retreat of
the Sadducees would not have been authorized in the State; the Sadducees
would not have filled the highest offices, nor would pontiffs have been
chosen from their body.

It appears that it was not until after the founding of Alexandria that
the Jews were divided into three sects--the Pharisees, the Sadducees,
and the Essenes. The historian Josephus, who was a Pharisee, informs us
in the thirteenth book of his "Antiquities" that the Pharisees believed
in the metempsychosis; the Sadducees believed that the soul perished
with the body; the Essenes, says Josephus, held that souls were
immortal; according to them souls descended in an aerial form into the
body, from the highest region of the air, whither they were carried back
again by a violent attraction; and after death, those which had belonged
to the good dwelt beyond the ocean in a country where there was neither
heat nor cold, nor wind, nor rain. The souls of the wicked went into a
climate of an opposite description. Such was the theology of the Jews.

He who alone was to instruct all men came and condemned these three
sects; but without Him we could never have known anything of our soul;
for the philosophers never had any determinate idea of it; and
Moses--the only true lawgiver in the world before our own--Moses, who
talked with God face to face, left men in the most profound ignorance on
this great point. It is, then, only for seventeen hundred years that
there has been any certainty of the soul's existence and its

Cicero had only doubts; his grandson and granddaughter might learn the
truth from the first Galileans who came to Rome.

But before that time, and since then, in all the rest of the earth where
the apostles did not penetrate, each one must have said to his soul:
What art thou? whence comest thou? what dost thou? whither goest thou?
Thou art I know not what, thinking and feeling: and wert thou to feel
and think for a hundred thousand millions of years, thou wouldst never
know any more by thine own light without the assistance of God.

O man! God has given thee understanding for thy own good conduct, and
not to penetrate into the essence of the things which He has created.

So thought Locke; and before Locke, Gassendi; and before Gassendi, a
multitude of sages; but we have bachelors who know all of which those
great men were ignorant.

Some cruel enemies of reason have dared to rise up against these truths,
acknowledged by all the wise. They have carried their dishonesty and
impudence so far as to charge the authors of this work with having
affirmed that the soul is matter. You well know, persecutors of
innocence, that we have said quite the contrary. You must have read
these very words against Epicurus, Democritus, and Lucretius: "My
friend, how does an atom think? Acknowledge that thou knowest nothing
of the matter." It is then evident, ye are calumniators.

No one knows what that material being is, which is called "spirit," to
which--be it observed--you give this material name, signifying "wind."
All the first fathers of the Church believed the soul to be corporeal.
It is impossible for us limited beings to know whether our intelligence
is substance or faculty: we cannot thoroughly know either the extended
being, or the thinking beings, or the mechanism of thought.

We exclaim to you, with the ever to be revered Gassendi and Locke, that
we know nothing by ourselves of the secrets of the Creator. And are you
gods, who know everything? We repeat to you, that you cannot know the
nature and distinction of the soul but by revelation. And is not this
revelation sufficient for you? You must surely be enemies of this
revelation which we claim, since you persecute those who expect
everything from it, and believe only in it.

Yes, we tell you, we defer wholly to the word of God; and you, enemies
of reason and of God, treat the humble doubt and humble submission of
the philosopher as the wolf in the fable treated the lamb; you say to
him: You said ill of me last year; I must suck your blood. Philosophy
takes no revenge; she smiles in peace at your vain endeavors; she mildly
enlightens mankind, whom you would brutalize, to make them like


What is space? "There is no space in void," exclaimed Leibnitz, after
having admitted a void; but when he admitted a void, he had not
embroiled himself with Newton, nor disputed with him on the calculus of
fluxions, of which Newton was the inventor. This dispute breaking out,
there was no longer space or a void for Leibnitz.

Fortunately, whatever may be said by philosophers on these insolvable
questions, whether it be for Epicurus, for Gassendi, for Newton, for
Descartes, or Rohaut, the laws of motion will be always the same.

     _Que Rohaut vainement sèche pour concevoir_
     _Comment tout étant plein, tout a pu se mouvoir_.
                               --BOILEAU, Ep. v, 31-32.

That Rohaut exhausts himself by vainly endeavoring to understand how
motion can exist in a plenum will not prevent our vessels from sailing
to the Indies, and all motion proceeding with regularity. Pure space,
you say, can neither be matter, nor spirit; and as there is nothing in
this world but matter and spirit, there can therefore be no space.

So, gentlemen, you assert that there is only matter and spirit, to us
who know so little either of the one or the other--a pleasant decision,
truly! "There are only two things in nature, and these we know not."
Montezuma reasons more justly in the English tragedy of Dryden: "Why
come you here to tell me of the emperor Charles the Fifth? There are
but two emperors in the world; he of Peru and myself." Montezuma spoke
of two things with which he was acquainted, but we speak of two things
of which we have no precise idea.

We are very pleasant atoms. We make God a spirit in a mode of our own;
and because we denominate that faculty spirit, which the supreme,
universal, eternal, and all-powerful Being has given us, of combining a
few ideas in our little brain, of the extent of six inches more or less,
we suppose God to be a spirit in the same sense. God always in _our_
image--honest souls!

But how, if there be millions of beings of another nature from our
matter, of which we know only a few qualities, and from our spirit, our
ideal breath of which we accurately know nothing at all? and who can
assert that these millions of beings exist not; or suspects not that
God, demonstrated to exist by His works, is eminently different from all
these beings, and that space may not be one of them?

We are far from asserting with Lucretius--

     _Ergo, præter inane et corpora, tertia per se_
     _Nulla potest rerum in numero natura referri._
                                --LIB., i, v. 446, 447.

     That all consists of body and of space.--CREECH.

But may we venture to believe with him, that space is infinite?

Has any one been ever able to answer his question: Speed an arrow from
the limits of the world--will it fall into nothing, into nihility?

Clarke, who spoke in the name of Newton, pretends that "space has
properties, for since it is extended, it is measurable, and therefore
exists." But if we answer, that something may be put where there is
nothing, what answer will be made by Newton and Clarke?

Newton regards space as the sensorium of God. I thought that I
understood this grand saying formerly, because I was young; at present,
I understand it no more than his explanation of the Apocalypse. Space,
the sensorium, the internal organ of God! I lose both Newton and myself

Newton thought, according to Locke, that the creation might be explained
by supposing that God, by an act of His will and His power, had rendered
space impenetrable. It is melancholy that a genius so profound as that
possessed by Newton should suggest such unintelligible things.


Kings of France were formerly excommunicated; all from Philip I. to
Louis VIII. were solemnly so; as also the emperors from Henry IV. to
Louis of Bavaria inclusively. The kings of England had likewise a very
decent part of these favors from the court of Rome. It was the rage of
the times, and this rage cost six or seven hundred thousand men their
lives. They actually excommunicated the representatives of monarchs; I
do not mean ambassadors, but players, who are kings and emperors three
or four times a week, and who govern the universe to procure a

I scarcely know of any but this profession, and that of magicians, to
which this honor could now be paid; but as sorcerers have ceased for the
eighty years that sound philosophy has been known to men, there are no
longer any victims but Alexander, Cæsar, Athalie, Polyeucte, Andromache,
Brutus, Zaïre, and Harlequin.

The principal reason given is, that these gentlemen and ladies represent
the passions; but if depicting the human heart merits so horrible a
disgrace, a greater rigor should be used with painters and sculptors.
There are many licentious pictures which are publicly sold, while we do
not represent a single dramatic poem which maintains not the strictest
decorum. The Venus of Titian and that of Correggio are quite naked, and
are at all times dangerous for our modest youth; but comedians only
recite the admirable lines of "Cinna" for about two hours, and with the
approbation of the magistracy under the royal authority. Why, therefore,
are these living personages on the stage more condemned than these mute
comedians on canvas? "_Ut pictura poesis erit_." What would Sophocles
and Euripides have said, if they could have foreseen that a people, who
only ceased to be barbarous by imitating them, would one day inflict
this disgrace upon the stage, which in their time received such high

Esopus and Roscius were not Roman senators, it is true; but the Flamen
did not declare them infamous; and the art of Terence was not doubted.
The great pope and prince, Leo X., to whom we owe the renewal of good
tragedy and comedy in Europe, and who caused dramatic pieces to be
represented in his palace with so much magnificence, foresaw not that
one day, in a part of Gaul, the descendants of the Celts and the Goths
would believe they had a right to disgrace that which he honored. If
Cardinal Richelieu had lived--he who caused the Palais Royal to be
built, and to whom France owes the stage--he would no longer have
suffered them to have dared to cover with ignominy those whom he
employed to recite his own works.

It must be confessed that they were heretics who began to outrage the
finest of all the arts. Leo X., having revived the tragic scene, the
pretended reformers required nothing more to convince them that it was
the work of Satan. Thus the town of Geneva, and several illustrious
places of Switzerland, have been a hundred and fifty years without
suffering a violin amongst them. The Jansenists, who now dance on the
tomb of St. Paris, to the great edification of the neighborhood, in the
last century forbade a princess of Conti, whom they governed, to allow
her son to learn dancing, saying that dancing was too profane. However,
as it was necessary he should be graceful, he was taught the minuet, but
they would not allow a violin, and the director was a long time before
he would suffer the prince of Conti to be taught with castanets. A few
Catholic Visigoths on this side the Alps, therefore, fearing the
reproaches of the reformers, cried as loudly as they did. Thus, by
degrees, the fashion of defaming Cæsar and Pompey, and of refusing
certain ceremonies to certain persons paid by the king, and laboring
under the eyes of the magistracy, was established in France. We do not
declaim against this abuse; for who would embroil himself with powerful
men of the present time, for hedra and heroes of past ages?

We are content with finding this rigor absurd, and with always paying
our full tribute of admiration to the masterpieces of our stage.

Rome, from whom we have learned our catechism, does not use it as we do;
she has always known how to temper her laws according to times and
occasions; she has known how to distinguish impudent mountebanks, who
were formerly rightly censured, from the dramatic pieces of Trissin, and
of several bishops and cardinals who have assisted to revive tragedy.
Even at present, comedies are publicly represented at Rome in religious
houses. Ladies go to them without scandal; they think not that
dialogues, recited on boards, are a diabolical infamy. We have even seen
the piece of "George Dandin" executed at Rome by nuns, in the presence
of a crowd of ecclesiastics and ladies. The wise Romans are above all
careful how they excommunicate the gentlemen who sing the trebles in the
Italian operas; for, in truth, it is enough to be castrated in this
world, without being damned in the other.

In the good time of Louis XIV., there was always a bench at the
spectacles, which was called the bench of bishops. I have been a
witness, that in the minority of Louis XV., Cardinal Fleury, then bishop
of Fréjus, was very anxious to revive this custom. With other times and
other manners, we are apparently much wiser than in the times in which
the whole of Europe came to admire our shows, when Richelieu revived the
stage in France, when Leo X. renewed the age of Augustus in Italy: but a
time will come in which our children, seeing the impertinent work of
Father Le Brun against the art of Sophocles, and the works of our great
men printed at the same time, will exclaim: Is it possible that the
French could thus contradict themselves, and that the most absurd
barbarity has so proudly raised its head against some of the finest
productions of the human mind?

St. Thomas of Aquinas, whose morals were equal to those of Calvin and
Father Quesnel--St. Thomas, who had never seen good comedy, and who knew
only miserable players, thinks however that the theatre might be useful.
He had sufficient good sense and justice to feel the merit of this art,
unfinished as it was, and permitted and approved of it. St. Charles
Borromeo personally examined the pieces which were played at Milan, and
gave them his approbation and signature. Who after that will be
Visigoths enough to treat Roderigo and Chimene as soul-corrupters?
Would to God that these barbarians, the enemies of the finest of arts,
had the piety of Polyeucte, the clemency of Augustus, the virtue of
Burrhus, and would die like the husband of Al-zira!


Which is the best? I have not hitherto known any person who has not
governed some state. I speak not of messieurs the ministers, who really
govern; some two or three years, others six months, and others six
weeks; I speak of all other men, who, at supper or in their closet,
unfold their systems of government, and reform armies, the Church, the
gown, and finances.

The Abbé de Bourzeis began to govern France towards the year 1645, under
the name of Cardinal Richelieu, and made the "Political Testament," in
which he would enlist the nobility into the cavalry for three years,
make chambers of accounts and parliaments pay the poll-tax, and deprive
the king of the produce of the excise. He asserts, above all, that to
enter a country with fifty thousand men, it is essential to economy that
a hundred thousand should be raised. He affirms that "Provence alone has
more fine seaports than Spain and Italy together."

The Abbé de Bourzeis had not travelled. As to the rest, his work abounds
with anachronisms and errors; and as he makes Cardinal Richelieu sign
in a manner in which he never signed, so he makes him speak as he had
never spoken. Moreover, he fills a whole chapter with saying that reason
should guide a state, and in endeavoring to prove this discovery. This
work of obscurities, this bastard of the Abbé de Bourzeis, has long
passed for the legitimate offspring of the Cardinal Richelieu; and all
academicians, in their speeches of reception, fail not to praise
extravagantly this political masterpiece.

The Sieur Gatien de Courtilz, seeing the success of the "_Testament
Politique_" of Richelieu, published at The Hague the "_Testament de
Colbert_" with a fine letter of M. Colbert to the king. It is clear that
if this minister made such a testament, it must have been suppressed;
yet this book has been quoted by several authors.

Another ignoramus, of whose name we are ignorant, failed not to produce
the "_Testament de Louis_" still worse, if possible, than that of
Colbert. An abbé of Chevremont also made Charles, duke of Lorraine, form
a testament. We have had the political testaments of Cardinal Alberoni,
Marshal Belle-Isle, and finally that of Mandrin.

M. de Boisguillebert, author of the "Détail de la France" published in
1695, produced the impracticable project of the royal tithe, under the
name of the marshal de Vauban.

A madman, named La Jonchere, wanting bread, wrote, in 1720, a "Project
of Finance," in four volumes; and some fools have quoted this
production as a work of La Jonchere, the treasurer-general, imagining
that a treasurer could not write a bad book on finance.

But it must be confessed that very wise men, perhaps very worthy to
govern, have written on the administration of states in France, Spain,
and England. Their books have done much good; not that they have
corrected ministers who were in place when these books appeared, for a
minister does not and cannot correct himself. He has attained his
growth, and more instruction, more counsel, he has not time to listen
to. The current of affairs carries him away; but good books form, young
people, destined for their places; and princes and statesmen of a
succeeding generation are instructed.

The strength and weakness of all governments has been narrowly examined
in latter times. Tell me, then, you who have travelled, who have read
and have seen, in what state, under what sort of government, would you
be born? I conceive that a great landed lord in France would have no
objection to be born in Germany: he would be a sovereign instead of a
subject. A peer of France would be very glad to have the privileges of
the English peerage: he would be a legislator. The gownsman and
financier would find himself better off in France than elsewhere. But
what country would a wise freeman choose--a man of small fortune,
without prejudices?

A rather learned member of the council of Pondicherry came into Europe,
by land, with a brahmin, more learned than the generality of them. "How
do you find the government of the Great Mogul?" said the counsellor.
"Abominable," answered the brahmin; "how can you expect a state to be
happily governed by Tartars? Our rajahs, our omras, and our nabobs are
very contented, but the citizens are by no means so; and millions of
citizens are something."

The counsellor and the brahmin traversed all Upper Asia, reasoning on
their way. "I reflect," said the brahmin, "that there is not a republic
in all this vast part of the world." "There was formerly that of Tyre,"
said the counsellor, "but it lasted not long; there was another towards
Arabia Petræa, in a little nook called Palestine--if we can honor with
the name of republic a horde of thieves and usurers, sometimes governed
by judges, sometimes by a sort of kings, sometimes by high priests; who
became slaves seven or eight times, and were finally driven from the
country which they had usurped."

"I fancy," said the brahmin, "that we should find very few republics on
earth. Men are seldom worthy to govern themselves. This happiness should
only belong to little people, who conceal themselves in islands, or
between mountains, like rabbits who steal away from carnivorous animals,
but at length are discovered and devoured."

When the travellers arrived in Asia Minor, the counsellor said to the
brahmin, "Would you believe that there was a republic formed in a corner
of Italy, which lasted more than five hundred years, and which
possessed this Asia Minor, Asia, Africa, Greece, the Gauls, Spain, and
the whole of Italy?" "It was therefore soon turned into a monarchy?"
said the brahmin. "You have guessed it," said the other; "but this
monarchy has fallen, and every day we make fine dissertations to
discover the causes of its decay and fall." "You take much useless
pains," said the Indian: "this empire has fallen because it existed. All
must fall. I hope that the same will happen to the empire of the Great
Mogul." "Apropos," said the European, "do you believe that more honor is
required in a despotic state, and more virtue in a republic?" The term
"honor" being first explained to the Indian, he replied, that honor was
more necessary in a republic, and that there is more need of virtue in a
monarchical state. "For," said he, "a man who pretends to be elected by
the people, will not be so, if he is dishonored; while at court he can
easily obtain a place, according to the maxim of a great prince, that to
succeed, a courtier should have neither honor nor a will of his own.
With respect to virtue, it is prodigiously required in a court, in order
to dare to tell the truth. The virtuous man is much more at his ease in
a republic, having nobody to flatter."

"Do you believe," said the European, "that laws and religions can be
formed for climates, the same as furs are required at Moscow, and gauze
stuffs at Delhi?" "Yes, doubtless," said the brahmin; "all laws which
concern physics are calculated for the meridian which we inhabit; a
German requires only one wife, and a Persian must have two or three.

"Rites of religion are of the same nature. If I were a Christian, how
would you have me say mass in my province, where there is neither bread
nor wine? With regard to dogmas, it is another thing; climate has
nothing to do with them. Did not your religion commence in Asia, from
whence it was driven? does it not exist towards the Baltic Sea, where it
was unknown?"

"In what state, under what dominion, would you like to live?" said the
counsellor. "Under any but my own," said his companion, "and I have
found many Siamese, Tonquinese, Persians, and Turks who have said the
same." "But, once more," said the European, "what state would you
choose?" The brahmin answered, "That in which the laws alone are
obeyed." "That is an odd answer," said the counsellor. "It is not the
worse for that," said the brahmin. "Where is this country?" said the
counsellor. The brahmin: "We must seek it."


There have been always such in Europe, and probably in all the earth, so
natural is it to assemble the family, to know its interests, and to
provide for its wants! The Tartars had their _cour-ilté_. The Germans,
according to Tacitus, assembled to consult. The Saxons and people of the
North had their _witenagemot_. The people at large formed
states-general in the Greek and Roman republics.

We see none among the Egyptians, Persians, or Chinese, because we have
but very imperfect fragments of their histories: we scarcely know
anything of them until since the time in which their kings were
absolute, or at least since the time in which they had only priests to
balance their authority.

When the comitia were abolished at Rome, the Prætorian guards took their
place: insolent, greedy, barbarous, and idle soldiers were the republic.
Septimius Severus conquered and disbanded them.

The states-general of the Ottoman Empire are the janissaries and
cavalry; in Algiers and Tunis, it is the militia. The greatest and most
singular example of these states-general is the Diet of Ratisbon, which
has lasted a hundred years, where the representatives of the empire, the
ministers of electors, princes, counts, prelates and imperial cities, to
the number of thirty-seven, continually sit.

The second states-general of Europe are those of Great Britain. They are
not always assembled, like the Diet of Ratisbon; but they are become so
necessary that the king convokes them every year.

The House of Commons answers precisely to the deputies of cities
received in the diet of the empire; but it is much larger in number, and
enjoys a superior power. It is properly the nation. Peers and bishops
are in parliament only for themselves, and the House of Commons for all
the country.

This parliament of England is only a perfected imitation of certain
states-general of France. In 1355, under King John, the three states
were assembled at Paris, to aid him against the English. They granted
him a considerable sum, at five livres five sous the mark, for fear the
king should change the numerary value. They regulated the tax necessary
to gather in this money, and they established nine commissioners to
preside at the receipt. The king promised for himself and his
successors, not to make any change in the coin in future.

What is promising for himself and his heirs? Either it is promising
nothing, or it is saying: Neither myself nor my heirs have the right of
altering the money; we have not the power of doing ill.

With this money, which was soon raised, an army was quickly formed,
which prevented not King John from being made prisoner at the battle of

Account should be rendered at the end of the year, of the employment of
the granted sum. This is now the custom in England, with the House of
Commons. The English nation has preserved all that the French nation has

The states-general of Sweden have a custom still more honorable to
humanity, which is not found among any other people. They admit into
their assemblies two hundred peasants, who form a body separated from
the three others, and who maintain the liberty of those who labor for
the subsistence of man.

The states-general of Denmark took quite a contrary resolution in 1660;
they deprived themselves of all their rights, in favor of the king. They
gave him an absolute and unlimited power; but what is more strange is,
that they have not hitherto repented it.

The states-general in France have not been assembled since 1613, and the
cortes of Spain lasted a hundred years after. The latter were assembled
in 1712, to confirm the renunciation of Philip V., of the crown of
France. These states-general have not been convoked since that

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