By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: An Account of the Destruction of the Jesuits in France
Author: Alembert, Jean le Rond d'
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "An Account of the Destruction of the Jesuits in France" ***

book was produced from scanned images of public domain
material from the Google Books project.)



  Incorruptam fidem professis, nec amore quisquam,
  & fine odio dicendus est.

  Tacit. Hist. ch. 1.


  Printed for T. BECKET and P. A. De HONDT,
  near Surry-street in the Strand.


  To M. • • •
  OF • • •.

Permit, Sir, an unknown, but zealous, citizen, an impartial historian
of the Jesuits, to pay public homage to that truely philosophical
patriotism which you have displayed in this affair. In exciting
against the society the zeal of the magistrates, you have not
neglected to fix their enlightened attention on all those men, who
may have with this alien society any marks of resemblance, and who,
arrayed in black, gray, or white, may acknowledge like it, in the very
bosom of France, another country, and another sovereign.

You have shewn no less lights in making known to the sage
Depositaries of the laws, all the Men of the party, whoever they be,
all the fanaticks, whatever livery they wear, whether they invoke
_Francis of Paris_, or _Francis of Borgia_, whether they maintain
_predeterminating decrees, or congruous assistances_.

If the author of this writing had been able to ask you your opinions,
his work would, without doubt, have gained greatly by it. May you,
such as it is, grant it your suffrage, and receive it as a slender
mark of the acknowledgement which religion, the state, philosophy, and
letters owe to you.


The different pieces which have been published on the affair of the
Jesuits (if we except therefrom the requisitories of the magistrates)
breathe an animosity or fanaticism in those who have undertaken either
to defend or attack the society. We may say of these historians,
what Tacitus said of the historians of his time: _Neutris cura
posteritatis, inter infensos vel obnoxios_: “None of them were
influenced by any regard for posterity, being themselves among the
exasperated or the obnoxious.” As the author of the following writing
professes a pretty great indifference for quarrels of this sort, he
has had no violence to do himself in order to tell the truth (so far
at least as he has been able to come at the knowledge of it) with
respect to the causes and the circumstances of this singular event:
if he has sometimes told it with energy, he flatters himself at least
that he has delivered it without bitterness, and he hopes that thus
his work will not displease those, who like him are detached from any
spirit of party or interest. He has even waited, before he published
this writing, till peoples' minds should be no longer heated, in regard
to the matter which is the object of it; he will lose thereby,
without doubt, some readers, but the truth will gain by it, or at
least be no loser.

The facts which are related here, are, for the most part, very well
known in France: they are less so to foreigners, for whom we have
proposed to write as well as for the French. The reflexions which have
been to this historical account, may be useful to both, and perhaps
still more to the French than to foreigners.

[Illustration: Decorative image]


The middle of the century, in which we live, appears destined to form
an æra, not only in the history of the human mind, by the revolution
which seems to be preparing itself in our opinions, but also in the
history of states and empires, by the extraordinary events of which
we have successively been witnesses. In less than eight years we have
seen the earth shaken, swallow up a part of Portugal, Spain, Africa,
and Hungary, and terrify by its shocks several other nations; a war
kindled from Lisbon to Petersbourg, for some almost uncultivated
tracts in North-America; the system of Europe changing suddenly its
appearance at the end of two centuries by the strict and unhoped-for
union of the houses of France and Austria; the consequences of that
union, all contrary to what it was natural to have expected from it;
the king of Prussia withstanding alone five formidable powers leagued
against him, and issuing from the bosom of the storm victorious and
covered with glory; an emperor cast headlong from his throne; the
king of Portugal assassinated; France terrifyed at a like attempt,
and trembling for a life the most precious; lastly, the Jesuits,
those men who were thought so powerful, so firmly established, so
redoubtable, driven from the former of these two kingdoms, and
destroyed in the second. This last event, which is, for certain,
neither the most melancholy, nor the greatest of those which we have
just recapitulated, is perhaps neither the least surprising, nor the
least susceptible of reflexions. It is for philosophers to see it such
as it is, to shew it such as it is to posterity, to make known to the
sages of all nations, how passion and hatred have, without knowing it,
assisted reason and justice in this unexpected catastrophe.

In order to explain myself with impartiality on the destruction of the
Jesuits in France, the object of this treatise, we must begin very
far back, and reascend to the very origin of this famous society,
place in one point of view the obstacles which had been opposed to it,
the progresses which it has made, the blows which it has given and
received; lastly, the causes apparent and secret, which brought it to
the brink of the precipice, and which have terminated by throwing it
from thence.

It is somewhat above two hundred years since the society of Jesuits
took birth. Its founder was a Spanish gentleman, who having had
his brain heated by romances of chevalry, and afterwards by books
of devotion, took it into his head to be the Don Quixote of the
Virgin[1], to go and preach to infidels the christian religion which
he knew nothing of, and to associate himself for that purpose with
those adventurers who should think proper to join him.

It will be thought astonishing, without doubt, that an order, become
so powerful and so celebrated, should have for its founder such a man.
This founder was however wise enough to decline entering into the
order of Theatins, which a cardinal, who some years after became pope,
had just established a little before the Jesuits began to appear.
Ignatius, in spite of all the opposition which his society experienced
at its birth, chose rather to be the legislator of an institution
than to subject himself to laws which were not of his making. It seems
as if he foresaw, from that very time, the future grandeur of his
order, and the small figure the other would make, though destined to
be in our times the cradle of a pious prelate, raised from the bosom
of that order (by an impenetrable Providence) to the first dignities
of the state and of the church[2].

Ignatius had also the wit to perceive, that a society which made
particular profession of devotion to the holy see, would find
infallible support from the head of the Roman church, and by these
means from the catholic princes, its dear and faithful sons; and
that thus this society would triumph at length over the transitory
obstacles which it might meet with at its origin. It was in this
view that he gave to it those famous constitutions, since perfected,
and always on the same plan, by two successors very superior to
Ignatius, the two generals Lainez and Aquiviva, so celebrated in the
annals of the Jesuits: the latter especially, intriguing, adroit, and
full of great views, was on all these accounts very proper for the
government of an ambitious society: to him it is indebted, more than
to any other, for those regulations so well contrived and so wise,
that we may style them the master-piece of the industry of human
nature in point of policy, and which have contributed, during two
hundred years, to the aggrandizement and glory of this order. These
regulations, it is true, have ended in being the cause or the motive
of the destruction of the Jesuits in France; but such is the fate
of all human grandeur and power, it is in their very nature to grow
worse and become extinct when they have arrived at a certain degree
of greatness and lustre. The empire of the Assyrians, that of the
Persians, the Roman empire itself, have disappeared, precisely for
this very reason, because they were become too large and too powerful.
These examples ought to console the Jesuits, if it be possible for
Jesuitical pride to be consoled.

We cannot better compare this society, every where surrounded with
enemies, and every where triumphant for the space of two centuries,
than to the marshes of Holland, cultivated by obstinate labour,
besieged by the sea, which threatens every instant to swallow them
up, and perpetually opposing their dikes to that destructive element.
Let these dikes be pierced but in one single place, Holland will be
laid under water after so many ages of labour and of vigilance. This
is what has happened to the society; its enemies have at last found
out the weak part, and pierced its dike; yet those who had raised
it with so much care and patience, those who had afterwards watched
so long over its preservation, those who have cultivated, with so
much success, the soil which was protected by this dike, merit
nevertheless commendation on that account.

Scarce had the company of Jesus (for that is the name which it had
taken), begun to shew itself in France, when it met with numberless
difficulties in establishing itself there. The universities
especially made the greatest efforts to expel these new comers;
it is difficult to decide, whether this opposition does honour or
discredit to the Jesuits who experienced it. They gave themselves
out for the instructors of youth gratis; they counted already
amongst them some learned and famous men, superior perhaps to those
of whom the universities could boast: interest and vanity might
therefore be sufficient motives to their adversaries, at least in
these first moments, to seek to exclude them. We may recollect the
like opposition which the Mendicant orders underwent from these
very universities when they wanted to introduce themselves there;
opposition founded on pretty nearly the same motives, and which ceased
not but by the state into which these orders are fallen, now become
incapable of exciting envy.

On the other side, it is very probable that the society, proud of
that support which it found amidst so many storms, furnished arms to
its adversaries by braving them; it seemed to shew itself, from this
time, with that spirit of invasion which it has but too much displayed
since, but which it has carefully covered at all times with the mask
of religion, and of zeal for the salvation of souls. This desire
of extending itself, and of domineering, appeared already on all
sides: the society insinuated itself into the confidence of several
sovereigns; it caballed at the courts of some others; it rendered
itself formidable to the bishops, by the dependance which it affected
on the court of Rome alone; in short, the more it aggrandized itself,
the more it seemed to justify, by its credit and its intrigues, the
rancour of its enemies against it. To govern the universe, not by
force, but by religion, such appeared to have been the device of this
society from its origin; a device which it has made appear further to
proportion as its existence and its authority gained strength.

Never did it lose sight, either of this object, or of the means (as
smooth as efficacious) which it was to employ in order to succeed in
it. It is perhaps the only one of all the societies, as the house
of Austria is the only one of all the powers of Europe, which has
observed an uniform and constant policy; an inestimable advantage to
societies and sovereign houses. Individuals only pass away, and are
subject in that short space to a small circle of events, which by
no means permit them to have any immutable system. Bodies and great
houses subsist for a long time; and if they pursue always the same
projects, the scene of the world, which, changes perpetually, brings
on at last, soon or late, circumstances favourable to their views.
We must, when once we have declared ourselves their enemy, either
annihilate them entirely, or end in being their victim; so long
as they have one gasp remaining, they cease not to be formidable.
“You have drawn the sword against the Jesuits,” said a man of wit
to a philosopher; “well, throw the scabbard into the fire.” But
individuals, how numerous and animated soever they be, have very
little force against a body: accordingly the Jesuits so decryed, so
attacked, so detested, would subsist perhaps still with more lustre
than ever, if they had not had for irreconcileable enemies other
bodies still subsisting as well as them, and as constantly taken up
with the project of exterminating them, as they have been with that of
aggrandizing themselves.

The manner in which this society established itself in those places
where it found the least resistance, discovers very plainly the
project which we have attributed to them, _of governing mankind_, and
of making religion subservient to that design.

It is thus that the Jesuits have acquired in Paraguai a monarchical
authority, founded, it is said, on persuasion alone, and, on the
lenity of their government: sovereigns in that vast country, they
render happy, it is assured, the people there who obey them, and whom
they have at last effectually subjected to them without employing
violence. The care with which they exclude strangers, prevents our
knowing the particulars of this singular administration; but the
little which has been discovered of it, speaks its praise, and
would render it perhaps to be desired, if the relations be faithful,
that many other barbarous countries, where the people are oppressed
and unhappy, had had, as well as Paraguai, Jesuits for apostles
and masters. If they had found in Europe as few obstacles to their
domination, as in that vast country of America, it is to be believed
that they would rule there at this day with the same empire: France,
and the states into which philosophy has penetrated for the happiness
of mankind, would without doubt have lost greatly thereby; but some
other nations perhaps would not have been more to be pityed for it.
The people know but one thing only, the wants of nature, and the
necessity of satisfying them; the moment they are by their situation
sheltered from misery and suffering, they are content and happy:
liberty is a good which is not made for them, of which they know not
the advantage, and which they possess not but to abuse it to their own
prejudice; they are children who fall down and hurt themselves the
moment they are left to go alone, and who get up again only to beat
their nurse; they must be well fed, kept employed without crushing
them, and led without suffering them to see too plainly their chains.
“This (say they) is what the Jesuits do in Paraguai; this probably
is what they would have done every where else, if the world had been
disposed to permit them.” But in Europe, where they had already so
many masters, they did not think proper to suffer any new ones: this
resistance, tho’ so natural, irritated the Jesuits, and rendered
them wicked: they made those nations, which refused their yoke, feel
all the evils which those nations endeavoured to inflict on them:
useful and respectable in Paraguai, where they found only docility
and gentleness, they became dangerous and turbulent in Europe, where
they met with dispositions a little different; and it is not without
reason it has been said of them, that seeing they did so much good
in a corner of America, and so much ill elsewhere, it was necessary
therefore to send them all to the only place where they were not
hurtful, and to purge the rest of the earth of them.

Let us return to France, or rather to the history of the
establishment of the society in that kingdom. Already had the
Jesuits, supported by the protection of the popes and by that of
kings, succeeded, in spite of the opposition of the universities,
to obtain very great advantages, to found several houses, to raise
at length in Paris itself a college, which was looked upon by the
others with envy. The establishment of this college had undergone
several assaults at different periods: at first Stephen Pasquier, so
well known for his satyrical talents, and several years after Anthony
Arnauld, father of the doctor, had successively pronounced against the
Jesuits those famous pleadings, in which a few truths are found joined
to much declamation. The society, victorious in these pleadings,
had obtained by patent the liberty of continuing its lessons; the
university of Paris was obliged to put up with it, and thought itself
still very happy in not being constrained to admit into its bosom
those ambitious and factious men, who would soon have possessed
themselves of the power: perhaps also they escaped this yoke, only
because the Jesuits disdained to impose it on them: probably they
thought themselves sufficiently strong to raise with success altar
against altar; and their vanity, flattered with making a party by
themselves, nourished from that time the hope which it has since but
too well realized, of taking away from the universities the education
of the most brilliant of the nobility of the kingdom.

In the midst of this war of the universities and the parliaments
against the Jesuits, the assassination of Henry IV. by John Chatel, a
scholar of those fathers, was, as it were, the signal of a new storm
again them, and made that thunder burst which had long rolled over
their heads. The Jesuit Guignard, being convicted of having composed,
in the time of the League, writings favourable to regicide, and of
having kept them after the amnesty, perished by the last torture; and
the parliaments which long since saw with an evil eye those usurpers,
and who sought only a favourable occasion to get rid of them, banished
them from the kingdom, as a “detestable and diabolical society, the
corrupters of youth, and enemies of the king and of the state:” these
were the words of the arrêt.

It is unhappily too certain (and the history of those dreadful
times furnishes melancholy proofs of it) that the maxims which they
reproached Guignard and the Jesuits with, respecting the murder of
kings, were at that time those of all the other religious orders, and
of almost all the ecclesiastics. Henry III. had been assassinated by a
fanatic of the order of Jacobins; their prior Bourgoin had just been
broke upon the wheel for that doctrine; a Carthusian, named Ouin, had
attempted the life of Henry IV. This abominable doctrine was that
of the chiefs of the League, among whom were reckoned priests and
bishops; it was also, if we may venture to say it, that of a great
part of the nation, whom fanaticism had rendered weak and furious.
The crime of the society was then that of many others. But the rancour
of the court of Rome against Henry IV. the particular profession which
the Jesuits made of devotion to that ambitious court; lastly, the
confidence which the king had shewn towards them, in permitting them
to instruct youth; all these motives, strengthened by the just hatred
which their ambition had excited, made them deemed with reason so much
the more dangerous and more criminal. Never have the Jacobins been
reproached with a Bourgoin and Clement, assassins of their fraternity,
as the Jesuits have been reproached with their scholar Chatel, and
Guignard their fellow: the reason is, that the Jacobins are little
dreaded, and that the Jesuits were both feared and odious.

In this their almost general disaster, two parliaments had spared
them, those of Bourdeaux and Toulouse: moreover, in banishing them
the rest of the kingdom, they had neither alienated nor confiscated
their effects; the magistrates who had proscribed them, had committed
that great mistake; those fathers, who had still a corner in France to
take shelter in, made use of the little breath which remained to them,
in preparing for their resurrection; they joined to their intrigues,
within the kingdom, the support of several sovereigns, and especially
of the court of Rome, which Henry IV. feared to displease; and in
spite of the just remonstrances of the parliaments, they obtained
their return a few years after they had been banished. Henry IV. did
much more for them; whether it was that they had found means to render
themselves agreeable to that prince, or that he hoped to find in them
more facility in reconciling with his amours the new religion which he
professed; or whether, lastly, which is most probable, that great and
unfortunate king, having been so often assassinated, and being still
in danger of it, feared and wanted to shew respect for these foxes who
were accused of having tigers at their command, he gave them in France
considerable establishments; among others the magnificent college of
la Flêche, whither he was desirous that his heart should be carried
after his death; lastly, as if to interest them more particularly
in his preservation, notwithstanding the reports which prevailed
against them, he took a Jesuit for confessor. It is pretended that he
acted thus, in order to have, in his very court and about his person,
an hostage who should be answerable to him for that suspected and
dangerous society: it is added, that the Jesuits had been recalled on
the very condition of giving this hostage: if the thing be true, it
must be confessed that they were able, like dexterous men, to make
subservient to their grandeur a law humiliating in itself, and to
avail themselves skilfully, for the augmentation of their credit, of
the distrust and dread which they had inspired.

Louis XIII., who reigned after Henry IV. or rather cardinal Richelieu,
who reigned under his name, continued to favour the Jesuits: he
thought their zeal and their regular conduct would serve at once as an
example and curb to the clergy; and that the permission of teaching,
which had been granted them, and of which they acquitted themselves
with success, would be to the universities an object of emulation.

This great minister was not deceived. It cannot be denied that the
Jesuits, and especially those of France, have produced a great number
of useful works for facilitating to young people the study of letters;
works, by which the universities themselves have profited, so as to
produce, in their turn, similar works, and perhaps better still: the
one and the other are known; and the impartial public has given them
the favourable reception they merited.

Let us add (for we must be just) that no religious society, without
exception, can boast so great a number of men famous in the sciences
and in letters. The Mendicants, even at the time of their greatest
lustre, were but schoolmen, the Benedictines only compilers, the other
monks mere blockheads[3]. The Jesuits exercised themselves with
success in every kind, eloquence, history, antiquities, geometry,
literature both profound and agreeable: there is hardly any class of
writers in which they count not men of the first merit: they have
even had good French writers; an advantage of which no other order
can boast; for this reason, that in order to write well in one’s own
language, it is necessary to keep company with people of fashion, and
that the Jesuits, by the nature of their functions, have been more
dispersed throughout the world than others.

It is assured that the late cardinal Passionei, who detested these
fathers, (for which he might have good reasons) pushed his hatred
against them so far, as not to admit into his fine and numerous
library any writer of the society. I regret this, for the sake both
of the library and of the master; the one lost a number of good
books by it; and the other, so philosophical, as we are assured, in
other respects, was not at all so on this occasion. If any thing can
console the Jesuits, it is that the same cardinal, so sworn an enemy
of all their works, had the misfortune to countenance and extol the
rhapsodies of that same Abraham Chaumeix, whose very name now is
become ridiculous, and who is at present turned down to his proper
place, after having been quoted and celebrated as a kind of father of
the church[4].

The society owes to the form of its institution (so decried in other
respects) this variety of talents which distinguish it. They reject
no sort of abilities, and require no other condition, in order to be
admitted among its members, but a capacity of being useful. To engage
our liberty, we must pay every where, even among the Mendicants.
The Jesuits know nothing of this paltry interest; they receive with
pleasure and gratuitously every person from whom they hope to draw any
good; nobody is useless among them; of those from whom they expect the
least, they make, according to their own expression, _missionaries_
for the villages, or _martyrs_ for the Indies. They have not even
disdained very great personages, little worthy of the titles which
they bore when they made themselves Jesuits, as a Charles of Lorrain,
and several others: their names have served at least as a decoration
to the order, if they were good for nothing else: we may call them the
_honoraries_ of the society.

Two other reasons seem to have contributed to give the Jesuits,
above all the other orders, the advantage of a greater number of
men estimable for their talents and their works: the first is the
duration of their noviciate, and the law which permits them not to
bind themselves by the last vows before the age of thirty-three. The
superiours have the more time to know their subjects, to judge of
them, and to direct them towards the object for which they are most
proper: these subjects moreover, being engaged at a mature age, after
a long probation, and all the time necessary for reflexion, are less
exposed to disgust and to repentance, more attached to the society,
and more disposed to employ their talents for its glory, and for their
own, which comes only afterward.

A second reason of the superiority of the Jesuits over the other
orders, in respect to the sciences and knowledge, is, that they have
sufficient time for resigning themselves up to study, enjoying in
this point as much liberty as can possibly be enjoyed in a regular
community, not being subjected, as the other orders are, to the minute
practices of devotion, and to offices which absorb the greatest part
of the day. If it were not known that hatred makes arms of every
thing, we should have some difficulty to believe, that during their
great and fatal law-suit, it was gravely objected to them as a
crime, in some of the Jansenist pamphlets, that they did not assemble
together so often as other monks, to say, in common, matins and
prayers; as if a religious society (the first duty of which is to be
useful) had nothing better to do than to chant over heavily bad Latin
several hours in the day. It will be said perhaps, that religious
orders are instituted only for prayer: be it so; but in that case let
the religious shut themselves up in their houses, in order to pray
there quite at their ease, and let them be hindered from meddling in
any thing else.

This suppression of praying and chanting, among the Jesuits, before
it became a subject of reproach against them, had been matter of
pleasantry, agreeably to the genius of our nation: “The Jesuits,”
said they, “cannot sing, for birds of prey never do: they are,”
said they again, “a set of folks who get up at four in the morning,
in order to repeat together the litanies at eight in the evening.”
The Jesuits had the good sense to laugh the first at these French
witticisms, and to make no change in their manner of living; they
thought it more serviceable and more honourable to them, to have
Petaus and Bourdaloues, than triflers and chanters.

It must be confessed nevertheless, that in the sciences and the arts,
two kinds have been but feebly cultivated by the Jesuits: these are
French poetry and philosophy. The best of their French poets is
beneath mediocrity; yet French poetry requires, in order to excel
in it, a delicacy of feeling and taste, which cannot be acquired but
by frequenting the world much more than a religious ought to permit
himself to do. This school of urbanity and delicacy is perhaps the
only thing that was wanting to the Jesuit Le Moine to make him a poet
of the first rank; for that Jesuit, according to the judgement given
of him by one of our greatest masters, had, in other respects, an
imagination that was prodigious[5]. If it be asked why the Jesuits
have not had French poets, we must ask why the universities have
not had more of them, and why so many modern Latin poets, taken
throughout the several communities, and throughout all conditions,
have not been able to succeed in making two tolerable French lines in

Philosophy (I mean the true, for school-learning is nothing but the
dregs and refuse of it) has not shone with greater lustre among the
Jesuits; but has it been more brilliant among the other orders? It
is almost impossible that a member of any community should become a
great philosopher: the spirit of a society, of a monastick society in
particular, and more perhaps than any other, the domineering spirit
of the Jesuits, that of a servile devotion to their superiors, are so
many fetters to reason, repugnant to that freedom of thinking which
is so necessary to philosophy. Malebranche is the only philosopher
of eminence that ever belonged to a regular congregation; but that
congregation was composed of free-men; and, besides, Malebranche is
perhaps less a great philosopher, than an excellent philosophic writer.

If any order (by the by) could have hoped to dispute with the Jesuits
the pre-eminence in the sciences and in literature, and perhaps to
have borne away the palm from them, it is this congregation of the
Oratory, of which Malebranche was a most distinguished member. The
freedom enjoyed there, without being ever hampered by vows, the
permission of thinking differently from their superiors, and of
employing their talents according to their own pleasure, this was what
furnished the congregation of the Oratory with excellent preachers,
profound scholars, men illustrious in every way. Accordingly the
Jesuits were very sensible what they had to fear from such rivals.
They persecuted them; and the members of the Oratory had the folly to
expose a weak side to them by becoming Jansenists[6]. By this means
they furnished a pretext to the attacks of their enemies, and have
had the grief to see the decay of their congregation brought about by
their own fault. They have indeed just now collected a few tattered
remains from the plunder of the Jesuits; but these remains will hardly
ever be able to replace what they have lost. We ought, besides, to
do them the justice to own, that they testified not any eagerness to
profit by the ruin of their adversaries: the society in its misfortune
experienced, on the part of the Oratory, a moderation of which they
had never given them the example. But be this moderation counterfeit
or sincere, it is difficult to persuade one’s-self that the Oratory
will ever recover with lustre the blows which have been given it by
the Jesuits: the varnish of Jansenism with which it is still stained,
and which renders it at least suspected by the greater part of the
bishops, the almost general prejudice of the public, and of the
greater part of the magistrates, against all communities, of whatever
kind they be, and, above all, the philosophic spirit which makes
every day great progress, seems to forebode the end of this, and of
other fraternities.

If the culture of the sciences and of letters has contributed to
render the society commendable, and intrigue to make it powerful,
another circumstance has not a little served to render it formidable
to its enemies: and that is the union of all its members for the good
of the common cause. In other societies, the interests and reciprocal
hatred of individuals almost always hurt the good of the corps; but
among the Jesuits it is quite otherwise. Not that in this society the
individuals love each other better than elsewhere; perhaps they even
hate one another more, being by their very constitutions spies and
informers, from their birth, upon each other: yet attack a single
person among them, you are sure of having the whole society for your
enemy. Thus heretofore the Senate and Roman people, often divided
among themselves by intestin dissensions, united at the bare name of
the Carthaginians or of Mithridates. There is not a Jesuit who may not
say, like the wicked spirit in scripture, “My name is Legion.” Never
did republican love his country as every Jesuit loves his society: the
very lowest of its members interests himself in its glory, of which he
thinks some rays reflect upon himself: there is not (if I may presume
to say so) even to their brother the apothecary, or the cook, one
among them who is not proud and jealous of it. They are all at once
put in action by this single spring, which one man directs at his
pleasure; and it is not without reason that they have been defined
“a naked sword, the hilt of which is at Rome.” The love which they
have for their society, subsists even in almost all those who have
left it: whether it be a real attachment founded upon gratitude, or a
policy founded on interest or on fear, there is hardly an ex-Jesuit
who preserves not his connexions with his old brethren; and who, even
tho’ he has reason to complain of them, does not shew himself attached
to their interests, and ready to defend them against their enemies.
For the rest, this attachment of the Jesuits to their society, can
be nothing but the effect of that pride which it inspires them with,
and not at all of the advantages which it procures for each of its
members. Independently of the little confidence and real friendship
which they have one for the other, and the severe life which they lead
within their houses, individuals, whatever merit they may have, are
not at all considered in the corps, but in proportion to the talent
which they have for intrigue: modest merit, or such as is confined
to the labour of the closet, is there unknown, little considered,
sometimes persecuted, if unfortunately the pressing interest of the
society demand it. We have seen in these late times the fathers
Brumoi and Bougeant, the last of the Jesuits who had any true and
solid merit, die of chagrin under the weight of the persecutions
which their fraternity were obliged to make them suffer: these two
men, who were greater philosophers, and more enlightened, than their
state in life seemed to permit, were sacrificed by the society to
the clamours which they had excited; the one by approving a work,
in which the regent of the kingdom (who had been dead about twenty
years before) was indirectly attacked; the other, by a philosophical
joke on “the language of beasts,” for which they obliged him to make
reparation, by confining him to the college of la Flêche, and charging
him with the _making_ of a catechism, which brought him down to the
grave, overwhelmed with disgust and vexation. A hundred years before,
Petau, the famous Petau, had like to have experienced fate very nearly
similar, for having pretended, that before the council of Nice the
church was not fully determined on the divinity of the word[7]. He
died in the college of the Jesuits at Paris, abandoned and in want of
every thing. It seems as if the device of the society had been that of
the ancient Romans; _Salus populi suprema lex esto_[8].

To all these means of augmenting their consideration and their credit,
they join another no less efficacious: this is the regularity of their
conduct and manners. Their discipline on this point is as severe as it
is prudent; and whatever calumny may have published concerning it, it
must be confessed, that no religious order gives less handle in this
respect. Even those among them who have taught the most monstrous
doctrine, who have written on the most obscene subjects, have led the
most edifying and the most exemplary lives. It was at the feet of the
crucifix that the pious Sanchez wrote his abominable and disgusting
work: and it has been said, in particular, of Escobar, equally known
by the austerity of his manners, and the looseness of his doctrines,
that he purchased heaven very dear for himself, but bestowed it at an
easy rate upon others.

We have seen what success the Jesuits had the art to procure
themselves at the court of France: their progress was nearly the
same in almost all the other courts: at the beginning of the present
century there was not in Europe a catholic prince, of whose
conscience they were not the directors, and from whom they had not
obtained the most signal favours; in all parts their enemies raged,
and in all parts they made a jest of their enemies.

They confined not their ambition to Europe; perpetually full of the
project of governing, and of governing by religion, they sent to the
Indies, and to China, missionaries, who carried thither christianity
for the people, and the profane sciences for the princes, for the
grandees, and for the more enlightened persons, whom by these means
they might render favourable to them.

Let us stop here a moment, and examine more particularly, by what kind
of learning and doctrine the Jesuits were able to make such great
progress among the Christians, and among those who were not so.

The religion which we profess turns upon two points; its tenets and
its morality. Among its tenets are the Trinity, the Redemption,
the Real Presence, &c. which, in appearing to confound the human
understanding, present to its belief only truths that are speculative
in themselves: these sorts of truths, how obscure soever they seem
to reason, and how much submission soever they require from it, are
not those which meet with the most opposition from the multitude:
naturally inclined to the marvellous, they are disposed to adopt
blindly the most absurd errors in this kind, and much more the truths
which are only incomprehensible, provided they oppose not their
inclinations. The Jesuits therefore preached those truths in all their
exactness; they knew well that they risked not much. But there are
other tenets, as those of Predestination and of Grace, which border on
practical religion, and which, preached in all their rigour to minds
that are unprepared, would be little adapted to make proselytes. We
must take great care, said the wise and pious Fleury, not to propose
at once to infidels, those articles of our belief, which might shock
them too much. Suppose a missionary should come and say abruptly to
savages, “My children, I make known to you a God, whom you cannot
serve worthily, without his special grace, which he has resolved from
all eternity to give, or to refuse you.” “Very well,” the savages
would say to him, “we will wait for that grace, and till it come we
will remain in our present faith.” What success would the Jesuits
have had, had they proceeded in this manner? Let us suppose that a
Jansenist had been in their place, to preach his incomprehensible
doctrine (which he calls nevertheless modestly the doctrine of St.
Augustine and St. Paul) he would soon have been either abandoned as
a madman, or driven away by the people with stones. The Jesuits
conducted themselves much more dexterously; they proved, according to
the saying of their enemies, the truth of that maxim of scripture,
that the children of darkness act with more prudence in their affairs
than the children of light: they preached to the people they wanted
to convert that Pelagianism of which they make profession, and which
is much more accommodated to the weakness and vanity of human nature;
but they not only preached in a manner better suited to humanity than
the Jansenists would have done; they preached also more artfully than
would Pelagius himself. The heresy of that monk did not meet with
the success it might have had, because it stuck half way. Pelagius,
while he restored to freedom her rights, imposed on her severe ties,
by the morality which he recommended to practice: this morality was
that of the Christian religion in all its austerity, the renouncing
of one’s-self, a penitence the most rigorous, and an eternal warfare
against the passions. The Jesuits perceived that these painful duties
were not made for the common run of mankind, and it was the multitude
they wanted to attract to them. After having softened what the
doctrines of Predestination and Grace have too harsh in appearance,
they did the same with what the ties imposed by Christianity have too
difficult. Great personages, for the most part, are, by the fault
of their education, superstitious, ignorant, and given up to their
passions. The Jesuits permitted them to have mistresses, provided
they displayed a zeal for religion, and an attachment to its outward
forms, which are no more than a kind of amusement when the passions
are satisfied, and which serve besides, to consciences that are but
ill enlightened, by way of a quieter, or, if you will, a palliative
in their hours of remorse. They followed pretty nearly the same plan
with regard to all those whom they directed, and succeeded in making,
by these means, a great number of partisans. The Jesuitical spirit,
in the manner of teaching religion, is pretty well described in the
definition which the Abbé Boileau gave of these fathers: “They are
(said he) a people who lengthen the creed, and shorten the decalogue.”

I cannot help remarking, on this occasion, one singular contradiction
of the human mind in matters of religion. The Jansenists are at once
what it seems impossible to be at the same time, Predestinarians in
opinion, and Rigorists in morality: they say to man, “You have great
duties to fulfill, but you can do nothing of yourself; and whatever
you do, what human virtues soever you practise, every one of your
actions will be A NEW CRIME; at least unless God sanctify you by his
grace, which you will not obtain if you are not predestined to it
gratuitously and before the foreknowledge of your merits.” It must be
confessed, that this doctrine is mild, adapted to consolation, and
above all consistent! But in these sorts of matters, the business is
not to be consistent and reasonable; it is the temper of the person
who dogmatises, and not logic, that dictates to him what he is to
preach. The Jansenist, unpitying in his nature, is equally so, both
in his doctrines and in the morality which he teaches; he is little
embarrassed that the one is contrary to the other: the nature of the
God that he preaches (and who, happily for us, is only his own) is to
be harsh as himself, both in what he would have us do, and in what
he wills that we should believe. What would be thought of a monarch,
who should say to one of his subjects, “You have irons on your legs,
and you have not the power to take them off; however I now inform
you, that if you walk not presently, both for a long time, and very
upright, on the brink of the precipice on which you now stand, you
shall be condemned to eternal punishment[9]?” Such is the God of
the Jansenists; such is their theology in its original and primitive
purity. Pelagius, in his error, was more reasonable. He said to man,
“You can do every thing; but you have a great deal to do.” This
doctrine was less shocking to reason; but, however, very incommodious
and irksome. The Jesuits have, if we may say so, beat down Pelagius’s
price: they have said to Christians, “You can do every thing, and God
requires but little of you.” This is the way in which we must speak
to carnal people; and especially to the great of the age, whenever we
would have them listen to us.

These are not the only cautions which they have taken; for they have
thought of every thing. They have had (indeed in small number) severe
casuists and directors; compared with the small number of those,
who thro’ temper or scruple wanted to impose, in all its rigour,
the yoke of the gospel. By this means, making themselves, to use
the expression, “all to all,” according to a saying of scripture
(the sense of which indeed they wrested a little) on one side they
procured to themselves friends of every kind; and on the other they
refuted, or thought they refuted, before-hand, the objection which
might be made to them, of teaching universally looseness of morals,
and of having made it the uniform doctrine of their society. This kind
of complete assortment, designed to satisfy all tastes, is pretty well
described in the following well-known lines of Despréaux:

    Si Bourdaloue un peu sévère
    Nous dit, craignez la volupté,
    Escobar, lui dit-on, mon père,
    Nous la permet pour la santé.

It must also be observed, that most of those Jesuits, who were so
severe in their writings, or in their sermons, were less so towards
their penitents. It has been said of Bourdaloue himself, that if he
required too much in the pulpit, he abated it in the confessional
chair: a new stroke of policy, well understood on the part of the
Jesuits, in as much as speculative severity suits persons of rigid
morals, and practical condescension attracts the multitude.

In China they employed still other methods: they rendered light to the
people the yoke which they came to impose on them, by permitting them
to mingle with the practical duties of Christianity, some ceremonies
of the religion of the country; to which the multitude, every where
superstitious and tumultuous, was too firmly attached.

This philosophy, so purely human, which sees in the zeal of the
Jesuits, and of many others, to go and preach religion at the
extremities of the earth, nothing more than a means which they make
use of for becoming of consequence and powerful, regards, as the most
dexterous of their missionaries, those who know how best to arrive at
that end. We must not then be astonished, if the society is a little
surprised at the number of invectives and clamours, of which these
fathers have been the object, on account of the Chinese superstitions
which they permitted to their new converts. In that, as well as in
the rest of their conduct, to the very time of their destruction,
they have proved, we repeat it, that they knew mankind better than
their adversaries did: they perceived that they were not to frighten
or disgust their new converts, by prohibiting them a few national
practices which were dear to them, and which they still have it in
their power to interpret as they please. Pope Gregory, who is called
the Great, and who was certainly a man of good sense, seems, if we may
believe the Jesuits, to have set them, in that respect, the example:
they have, at least, pretended to the authority of it. Augustine the
monk, whom this pope had sent into England, to convert the people
who were yet barbarous, consulted him on some remains of ceremonies,
partly civilized, partly Pagan, which the new converts were unwilling
to renounce: he demanded of Gregory, whether he might permit them
those ceremonies. “There is no taking away,” replied that pope, “from
rugged minds, all their habits at once: we ascend not a steep rock
by leaping on it, but by clambering up step by step.” We see here the
principle on which the Jesuits pretend to have conducted themselves
in China. They were persuaded, that without this condescension, the
religion which they preached would not have been even heard there.
I have no doubt, but artful as they are, (or rather as they were)
they have still further palliated and mitigated matters with respect
to other points: and it cannot be denied, that they have done well,
relatively to their own views; since, after all, it was neither God
nor Christianity that they wanted to reign there; it was the society
under those respectable names.

Furthermore, neither the severe morality of religion, nor the
doctrines of grace which they were accused of misrepresenting, are
delivered in so exclusive a manner in scripture, as that we do not
meet there also with several passages favourable to the most moderate
opinions: and we may easily believe, that the Jesuits availed
themselves of those passages, after the example of so many sects which
have found in the Bible, and in the fathers, matter to support their
opinions, while their adversaries found there in like manner wherewith
to combat them. The scriptures are, if I may use the expression,
common arsenals, to which every one goes, in order to arm himself from
head to foot, and just as he pleases. Accordingly it is not without
reason that the catholic church has decided, that it belonged to her
alone to give to infidels the true sense of the scriptures, and of
the fathers: a truth from which we cannot deviate, without exposing
ourselves to a dangerous Pyrrhonism in matter of doctrine.

What is very singular, and must appear more strange still to the
proselytes, whom they went to make at five thousand leagues distance
from our continent of Europe, is, that while the Jesuits preached
Christianity after their manner, other missionaries, their enemies,
monks and seculars, preached it quite differently to the same people;
warning them, at the same time, under pain of damnation, not to
believe in the catechism of the Jesuits. We may judge of the effect
which these contests would produce. “Indeed, gentlemen,” said the
emperor of China to them, “you take a great deal of trouble in coming
so far to preach to us contradictory opinions, concerning which you
are ready to cut one another’s throats.” After having made them
this representation, he left them to preach as long as they would,
persuaded that such apostles could not have any great success. He
availed himself besides, for the good of his country, of the residence
of the Jesuits, who talked much more at court of astronomy and natural
philosophy, than of the Trinity and religion, and who succeeded
at last in rendering the other missionaries either suspected or

It is not that they were not very ready to expose themselves to the
greatest dangers, and even to death, for the sake of that religion
which they burlesqued in their manner of preaching it, and which
served only as an instrument to their ambition. When the emperor
of Japan judged it proper (for reasons which appeared to him
indispensible) to exterminate Christianity from his territories,
the Jesuits had there their martyrs as well as others, and even in
greater numbers. The reader will not be surprised at it, when he
knows what was told me by a person extremely worthy of credit. He was
particularly acquainted with a Jesuit, who had been employed twenty
years in the missions of Canada; and who, while he did not believe a
God, as he owned privately to this friend, had faced death twenty
times for the sake of the religion which he preached with success to
the savages. This friend represented to the Jesuit the inconsistency
of his zeal: “Ah!” replied the missionary, “you have no idea of the
pleasure which is felt in commanding the attention of twenty thousand
people, and in persuading them to what we believe not ourselves.”

Such is the spirit of the method which the Jesuits have followed,
for teaching with success to mankind what they called religion
and Christian morality. Such was the moderate doctrine which they
preached at the court of Louis XIV. and by means of which they
succeeded in rendering themselves so agreeable. Accordingly it
was principally under the reign of that prince that the power, the
credit, and opulence of the Jesuits received in France such prodigious
aggrandizements: it was under this reign that they succeeded in
rendering the clergy dependent on them (we may even say their slaves)
by the disposal of benefices, with which the fathers la Chaize and
le Tellier, the king’s confessors, were successively entrusted: it
was in this reign that they succeeded, in consequence of the need
which the bishops stood in of them, in extorting, even while they
braved them, their confidence, or the appearance of their confidence,
and in obtaining the direction of several seminaries; in which the
youth, destined to the church, were brought up in their doctrines,
and in the hatred of their enemies: it was under this reign that
they succeeded, by decrying or vilifying the other orders and the
secular ecclesiasticks, in invading a great number of colleges, or
at least in obtaining permission for establishing new ones: it was
under this reign that they succeeded so far, through the confidence
and consideration which Louis XIV. gave them, as to draw all the court
to their college of Clermont. We remember still the mark of flattery
which they bestowed on that monarch, by divesting that college of the
name which it bore of the _Society of Jesus_, in order to call it the
college of _Louis the Great_; and nobody is ignorant of the Latin
distich which was made on that occasion, and in which the society was
reproached “with acknowledging no other God but the king.” Thus they
represented them at once as idolaters of despotism, in order to render
them vile, and as preachers of regicide, in order to render them
odious: these two accusations might appear a little contradictory, but
the business was not to speak the exact truth; it was to say of the
Jesuits as much ill as possible.

Lastly, what completed the power and glory of the society was, that
under Louis XIV. the Jesuits succeeded in destroying, or at least
in oppressing in France the Protestants and the Jansenists, their
eternal enemies; the Protestants, by contributing to the revocation
of the edict of Nantes, that source of depopulation and of evils to
this kingdom; the Jansenists, by depriving them of the ecclesiastical
dignities, by arming the bishops against them, by forcing them to
go and preach, and write in foreign countries, where even these
unfortunate people still found persecution.

Under this very reign in which the Jesuits were so powerful, and so
formidable, the most terrible strokes were given them, more terrible
perhaps than any they had felt till that time. The pleadings of
Pasquier and Arnaud were but bombast satyrs, and in a bad taste:
the _Provincial Letters_ gave them a wound much more deadly: this
master-piece of pleasantry and eloquence diverted and moved the
indignation of all Europe at their expense. In vain they replied,
that the greatest part of the theologists and monks had taught, as
well as them, the scandalous doctrine which they were reproached
with: their answers, ill written, and full of gall, were not read,
while every body knew the _Provincial Letters_ by heart. This work
is so much the more admirable, as Paschal in composing it appears
to have divined two things, which seemed not made for divination,
language, and pleasantry. The language was very far from being
formed, as we may judge by the greater part of the works published
at that time, and of which it is impossible to endure the reading:
in the _Provincial Letters_ there is not a single word that is grown
obsolete; and that book, though written above a hundred years ago,
seems as if it had been written but yesterday. Another attempt, no
less difficult, was to make people of wit and good folks laugh at
the questions of _sufficient grace_, _next power_, and the decisions
of the casuists; subjects very little favourable to pleasantry, or,
which is worse still, susceptible of pleasantries that are cold and
uniform, and capable at most of amusing only priests and monks. It
was necessary, for avoiding this rock, to have a delicacy of taste
so much the greater, as Paschal lived very retired, and far removed
from the commerce of the world: he could never have distinguished,
but by the superiority and delicacy of his understanding, the kind of
pleasantry which could alone be relished by good judges in this dry
and insipid matter. He succeeded in it beyond all expression: several
of his bon-mots have even become proverbial in our language, and the
_Provincial Letters_ will be ever regarded as a model of taste and
style. It is only to be feared, that the expulsion of the Jesuits,
lessening the interest which we took in this book, may render the
perusal of it less poignant, and perhaps make it be one day forgot.
This is a fate which the most eloquent author has to apprehend, if he
writes not on subjects that are useful to every nation, and to all
ages: the duration of a work, whatever merit it may have in other
respects, is almost necessarily connected with that of its object. The
_Thoughts of Paschal_, greatly inferior to the _Provincials_, will
live perhaps longer, because there is all reason to believe (whatever
the humble society may say of it) that Christianity will last longer
than they.

The _Provincials_ would be perhaps more assured of the immortality
which they merit in so many respects, if their illustrious author,
that genius so elevated, so universal, and so little formed for
taking an interest in scholastick trumpery, had turned alike both
parties into ridicule. The shocking doctrine of Jansenius, and of St.
Cyran, afforded at least as much room for it as the pliant doctrine
of Molina, Tambourin, and Vasquez. Every work, in which we sacrifice
with success to the publick laughter fanaticks who worry one another,
subsists even after those fanaticks are no more. I might venture to
foretell this advantage to the chapter _on Jansenism_, which we read
with so much pleasure in the excellent _Essay on General History_,
by the most agreeable of our philosophical writers. The irony is
scattered in that chapter to the right and left, with a delicacy
and ease which must cover both the one and the other with indelible
contempt, and make them weary of cutting one anothers’ throats for
nonsensical fancies. Methinks I see Fontaine’s cat[10], before whom
the rabbit and the weasel bring their suit on the subject of a pitiful
hole which they contend for; and who, by way of decision,

    Jettant des deux côtés la griffe en même tems,
    Met les plaideurs d’accord en croquant l’un & l’autre.

No body is perhaps fitter than this illustrious writer, to form a
history of theological quarrels, in order to render them at once both
odious and ridiculous, and thereby deliver mankind for ever from this
shameful and terrible scourge.

_The Practical Morals of the Jesuits_, written by doctor Arnauld,
which came out soon after the _Provincials_, though of a merit greatly
inferior, put the finishing stroke to the throwing upon these fathers
an odium, which they will never be able to wash off. This unfavourable
and deep impression, which is perpetually kept up by the reading
of these books, has even now found, at the end of a century, minds
disposed to believe all the ill which has been said of the Jesuits,
and of approving all the mischief that has been done to them. The
term of _Jesuitical morals_ has been, as it were, consecrated in
our language, to signify loose morals, and that of _Escobarderie_ to
signify an artful lie: and we know how much weight a fashionable way
of speaking carries with it, especially in France, towards procuring
credit to opinions.

The Jesuits, loaded from that time with so much hatred, and such a
number of imputations, were not to be till long after the victims of
it: they triumphed in the first violence of the attack, and became
but the more powerful, the more animated against their enemies, and
the more formidable to them. Yet what enemies had they to deal with?
With men of the greatest merit and reputation, and whose consideration
with the public still increased by their very persecution; an
Arnauld, a Nicole, a Saci; in one word, all the writers of the
celebrated house of Port-Royal. These adversaries were much more to
be dreaded by the society than plain theologists, whom the common
run of mankind listen not to, understand not, and have no esteem
for: they were great philosophers (as great at least as could be in
those days) men of the first class in literature, excellent writers,
and men of an irreproachable conduct. They had in the kingdom, and
even at court, respectable and zealous friends, whom they acquired
by their talents, their virtues, and the signal services for which
literature was indebted to them. The general and rational grammar,
called the _Port-Royal_ grammar, from their being the authors of it;
the excellent _Logic_ called by the same name; the _Greek Roots_;
their learned grammars of the Greek, Latin, Italian, and Spanish;
such were the productions of this free and respectable society. The
illustrious Racine had been their scholar, and had preserved, as well
as Despréaux, his friend, the most intimate connections with them:
their works on religion and morality were read and esteemed by all
France; and by the masculine and correct style in which they were
written, had contributed most of any, next to the _Provincials_, to
the perfection of our language, while the Jesuits counted yet among
their French writers only des Barris and des Garrasses. What pity
that those writers of the Port-Royal, those men of such superior
merit, should have thrown away so much genius and time in ridiculous
controversies on the good or bad doctrine of Jansenius, on idle and
endless discussions on free-will and grace, and on the important
question, Whether five unintelligible propositions be in a book which
nobody reads? Tormented, imprisoned, exiled for these vain disputes,
and employed perpetually in defending so futile a cause, how many
years of their lives have philosophy and letters to regret as lost!
What lights would they not have added to those with which they had
already illumined their age, if they had not been carried away by
these unhappy and pitiful distractions, so unworthy of taking up
the thoughts of men like them! May we venture to say a little more
of this, at the risk of deviating one moment from our subject? Can
reason withhold shedding bitter tears, when she sees how many useful
talents the quarrels, so often excited in the bosom of Christianity,
have buried? how many ages these wretched and scandalous contests have
destroyed to the human understanding? and how many geniuses, formed
for discovering new truths, have employed (to the great regret of true
religion) all their sagacity and abilities, in supporting or giving
reputation to ancient absurdities? When we run through, in the vast
royal library, the first apartment, of an immense extent, and find
it destined, for the greatest part, to a collection, without number,
of the most visionary commentators on the scriptures, of polemical
writers on, questions the most void of meaning, of school divines of
every sort; in short, of so many works from whence there is no drawing
one single page of truth, can we refrain crying out with sorrow (_ad
quid perditio hæc?_) “To what end all this loss?” Again, human nature
would have been in no very great degree to be pitied, if all these
frivolous and absurd objects, these _holy trifles_, as a celebrated
magistrate calls them[11], had ended in ill language only, and had
not occasioned the shedding of torrents of blood. But let us shut
our eyes on these dismal objects, and make only one other reflexion,
as consolatory as it is humiliating to the human mind. How is it
possible, that the same species of beings which invented the art of
writing, arithmetic, astronomy, algebra, chemistry, watch-work, the
art of weaving, so many things in short worthy of admiration in the
mechanical and liberal arts, should have invented the philosophy
and divinity of the schools, judicial astrology, the concomitant
concourse, versatile and congruous grace, the victorious delectation,
absolute accidents, and so many other fooleries, as would occasion
the suspending, by authority of justice, the person who should first
broach them now-a-days? Plato defined man, “an animal with two
feet without feathers.” How ridiculous soever this definition may
appear, it was perhaps difficult (the lights of religion set aside)
to characterise otherwise the indefinable human species; which on
one side seems, by master-pieces of genius, to have approached the
heavenly beings, and on the other, by a thousand incredible marks
of folly and cruelty, to have set itself on a level with the most
stupid and ferocious animals. When we measure the interval between a
Scotus and a Newton, or rather between the works of Scotus and those
of Newton, we must cry out with Terence, _Homo homini quid præstat!_
“What difference there is between man and man!” Or must we only
attribute this immense distance to the enormous difference of ages,
and think with sorrow that the _subtile_ and _absurd doctor_, who
wrote so many chimeras, admired by his contemporaries, had perhaps
been a Newton in an age more enlightened? Let us weigh well all these
reflexions; let us add thereto the perusal of ecclesiastical history,
those kalendars of the virtue of some men, and the weak wickedness of
so many others; let us behold in that history the usurpations, without
number, of the spiritual power; the robberies and the violences
exercised under the pretext of religion; so many bloody wars, so many
cruel persecutions, so many murders committed in the name of a God who
abhors them; and we shall have pretty nearly an exact catalogue of
the advantages which the disputes of Christianity have brought upon

To return to the Jesuits, the nomination of father le Tellier to the
place of confessor to Louis XIV. furnished them with an opportunity of
wreaking fully their vengeance. This violent and inflexible man, hated
by his very brethren, whom he governed with a rod of iron, made the
Jansenists drink “to the very dregs,” according to his own expression,
“of the cup of the society’s indignation.” Scarce was he in place, but
they foresaw the evils of which he would be the cause: and Fontenelle
the philosopher said, on learning his nomination, “the Jansenists have

The first exploit of this ferocious and fiery Jesuit, was the
destruction of Port-Royal, where not one stone was left upon another,
and from whence they dug up the very corpses that were interred there.
This violence, executed with the last barbarity, against a house
respectable for the celebrated persons who had inhabited it, and
against poor nuns, more worthy of compassion than of hatred, excited
clamours throughout the whole kingdom: these clamours have re-echoed
down even to our times; and the Jesuits themselves confessed, on
seeing the spectacle of their destruction, that the stones of
Port-Royal were falling on their own heads to crush them.

But the indignation which the destruction of Port-Royal excited
against them, was nothing in comparison of the general commotion which
the bull _Unigenitus_ occasioned. It is certain that this bull was
their work: we know also the universal opposition which it produced
in almost all the orders of the state: we know the intrigues, the
frauds, the violences, which were put in practice to extort the
acceptance of it. We may remember that Louis XIV. having succeeded in
making it to be received (partly by foul and partly by fair means)
by an assembly of forty prelates, saw with pain nine bishops who
remained in opposition to it: he could have wished, for the peace of
his conscience, an entire uniformity in the episcopal corps. “That is
very easy,” said the duchess his daughter to him, “you need only order
the forty acceptants to be of the opinion of the nine others.” The
propositions condemned were, for the most part, so ill chosen, that it
is pretended that a great prince, on reading them in the bull, took
them for truths which it enjoined to be believed, appeared edified by
them, and was very much surprised, though of a docile disposition,
when his confessor undeceived him.

The magistrates were not the last to rise against this bull. They were
especially shocked at the censure of the ninety-first proposition.
“The dread of an unjust excommunication ought never to hinder us
from doing our duty.” Instructed by the melancholy effects of the
quarrels between the Priesthood and the Empire during so many ages,
they perceived how easy it was to avail themselves of this censure, to
detach the people, by menaces of excommunication, from the fidelity
which they owe their sovereign. They saw, in so rash a condemnation,
the secret attempt which the Jesuits and the court of Rome wanted to
make upon our maxims, of the temporal independence of kings. There
was no subscribing, with any modesty, to the Anathema launched out
against a proposition so evident, but by confining it to a tortured
sense, which it presents not, in judging it (which is ridiculous in
such a case) upon a pretended intention of the author in favour of
excommunicated fanaticks. Who doubts that fanaticks might not abuse
the truth which this proposition includes, to the braving of every
excommunication which they shall think unjust? But is the abuse,
which may be made of a truth, a reason for proscribing it? Would the
scripture itself be safe from a stigma founded on like motives?

Nevertheless, in spite of the opposition of the magistrates, the bull
was registered; every thing plyed, either willingly or by force,
under the weight of the royal authority: the fury with which father
le Tellier, the author of this strange production, persecuted all its
opposers, was carried so far, that the Jesuits themselves, though long
inured to violence, were terrified at his, and said aloud, “Father le
Tellier drives at such a rate, that he will overturn us.” They thought
not perhaps that they were speaking so much truth. It is this bull,
and the persecution which it occasioned, that after fifty years has
given the Jesuits the mortal blow: we shall see it in the sequel
of this recital. But it may not be useless to make, before-hand, an
observation on the conduct and the projects of father le Tellier.
Many people believe, that this Jesuit was a knave, void of religion,
who made its respectable name subservient to his hatred: it is much
more probable that he was a fanatick in reality, who, being persuaded
of the goodness of his cause, thought every thing permitted him, in
order to ensure the triumph of what he supposed to be _the sound
doctrine_. At the same time that he persecuted the Jansenists, he
accused Fontenelle to Louis XIV. as an atheist, for having written
_The History of Oracles_. Fontenelle, the pupil of the Jesuits, their
friend at all times, as well as the great Corneille his uncle,
disapproving also the doctrine and morality of the Jansenists, as far
as a philosopher can disapprove theological opinions; in short, ever
discreet and reserved with respect to religion, in his discourses,
as well as in his writings; such was the man whom le Tellier wanted
to ruin, at the very time that he sought to crush Quesnel and his
partisans. Would he have behaved in this manner, if he had not been
animated by a principle of persuasion?

Happily for Jansenism and for philosophy, Louis XIV. died. Le Tellier,
loaded with the public execration, was exiled to la Flêche, where he
ended, in a short time, a life odious to the whole nation. The duke of
Orleans the regent, being in every respect the reverse of Louis XIV.
was disposed neither to brave with violence the publick clamour, which
the constitution Unigenitus had excited, nor rudely to offend the pope
and the bishops, who were too far engaged to recede: he caused to be
accepted, almost without noise, this fatal bull, which, presented
by the Jesuits, had excited such great clamours: supported by the
philosophers who surrounded him, and who began, from that time, to
command attention; supported above all by his minister Dubois, whose
way of thinking, in matters of religion, was well known, he threw over
this theological dispute, a ridicule which put a stop to it.

The Jesuits, though become less powerful during the regency,
recovered, nevertheless, in a short time, the place of confessor
to the king, of which they had been for a short time deprived: it
is pretended that their restoration at court was one of the secret
articles of the re-union between France and Spain in 1719. It is
added, that this article had been procured by the management of the
Jesuit d’Aubenton, confessor to Philip V. and extremely powerful at
the court of Madrid. For the honour of the ministers which France had
at that time, we must believe that this anecdote is fabulous.

Everything else was peaceable, with respect to the Jesuits, during
the remainder of the regency and the succeeding ministry: they aimed
only at supporting themselves, without making much noise. Cardinal
Fleury, who loved them not, was nevertheless persuaded that they were
to be protected strongly, “as the firmest supports of religion;”
the maintenance of which that minister looked upon as a part of
government. This manner of thinking in cardinal Fleury, with regard
to the Jesuits, is found expressed in some manuscript letters of his,
which I have read. “They are,” said he further, “excellent servants,
but bad masters.” In pursuance of this principle, he treated them
civilly, during his ministry, but without shewing them any marks
of declared favour: on the contrary, he greatly raised (and the
Jesuits were not the better pleased with him for it) the community of
Sulpiciens, who were much less illustrious and less powerful, but
also less formidable. Cardinal Fleury, an enemy to the Jansenists,
whom he looked upon as dangerous, and at the same time very little
biassed for what had any considerable degree of credit in its way,
of whatever kind it was, took under his particular protection this
numerous community: it had all that was necessary to make him think it
worthy thereof: it joined to the merit of being extremely devoted to
the bull, the happiness of having never made any noise. This minister
filled the bishopricks of France with a multitude of the pupils of St.
Sulpicius, who were more commendable for their devotion than their
talents: thus he planted the first seeds of that state of languor into
which the clergy of France seem now-a-days to be fallen, but from
which it is to be hoped they will soon rouze themselves; thanks to the
philosophick spirit which enlightens at present some of its members,
and which makes them justly look upon fanaticism and ignorance as the
two true scourges of Christianity.

However, the bull of which the Jesuits had been the promoters,
and which had met with so much opposition when it appeared, came
insensibly to be received by all the bishops. The French nation,
which clamours so readily, and which more readily still grows tired
of clamouring, was familiarized to a production which it had at first
called _monstrous_: every one received it, with an interpretation
according to his own liking; for such is the wonderful privilege of
these kinds of decisions of the church of Rome, that people may, by
all means, understand them just as they please, and submit to them
at the same time that they continue in their own opinion. Jansenism,
heretofore maintained (in spite of reason) by men of real merit, had
no longer for its support any defenders, but such as were worthy of
such a cause, a few poor and obscure priests, unknown even where they
lived: the phrensy of convulsions, which had raised dissensions in the
party itself, had rendered them completely contemptible, by rendering
them ridiculous: in short, this sect, now expiring and despised, was
at the last gasp, when an unforeseen chain of circumstances restored
it to a new life, which it hoped not for. The viper which the Jesuits
thought crushed, had strength enough to turn back its head, to bite
them in the heel, and to kill them. The reader is here presented with
the succession of causes, by which this strange event was produced.

The parliaments, which had opposed the society from its birth, had but
too much reason for persisting in the same sentiments with regard to
it. They were justly offended at the advantages of power and credit,
which it had obtained in spite of them: they were above all hurt by
the constitution _Unigenitus_, the acceptance of which the intrigues
of the Jesuits had forced them to register; an acceptance which they
thought, as we have seen, contrary to the rights of the crown; and in
order to break forth, waited only for a favourable occasion, without
perhaps presuming to flatter themselves that it would ever occur.

The contest occasioned by the refusal of the sacraments to the
Jansenists, was the first spark of the conflagration, the Helen
of that war, as small in its first object, as it is now become
important by its consequences. One of the principal archbishops of
the kingdom, and a bishop of Mirepoix, his aid and counsellor, both
of them thoroughly persuaded of the excellence of the bull, and of
the damnation of those who rejected it, resolved, like consistent
prelates, to order the communion to be refused to Jansenists at
the point of death. This refusal had before been attempted in some
provinces, but twice or thrice only, at wide intervals, and with
little noise: it was now thought time to take off the mask, and
absolutely to treat the enemies of the bull _Unigenitus_ as hereticks
cut off from the church. If we believe the crowd of constitutionary
theologists, the two prelates, authors and executors of this project,
were extremely in the right: but let us be permitted to relate here
(as mere historians) the singular reasons which were alledged in their
favour, and those that were opposed to them. “The bull _Unigenitus_,”
said its partisans, “ill received without doubt, and even spit upon
at its birth, had terminated in being unanimously received: there was
not, in all Christendom, one bishop who rejected this production,
whether good or bad, of the court of Rome: it was in vain to say that
it overturned the principles of Christianity; that the acceptance
of it had not been free; that some had received it through fear,
others through interest: it was accepted, and without opposition,
by the whole body of pastors. Here then we see, in the principles
of the Catholic church, all that ought to serve, by way of compass,
to plain Christians in their faith. It is not for them to examine
either the doctrines themselves, or the nature of the acceptance; it
is sufficient to them that they see clearly, that the visible church
adopts them. We understand here by the visible church, what every
Catholic understands by the term; that is to say, the pope, the
bishops, and almost all the ecclesiasticks, secular and regular, of
the second order. Whatever be the doctrine which this visible church
teaches, the faithful ought to believe firmly, notwithstanding even
the strongest appearances to the contrary, that it has always taught
the same; otherwise Jesus Christ would not have said true in promising
that church to be always with her. The passages of scripture, and
of the fathers, which may appear the most evidently contrary to the
new catechism, will be explained in a manner favourable to it: the
church has alone the right of fixing the meaning of them. In a word,
from the moment the church speaks, we must submit to her, whatever
she may say. After the council of Nice, the divinity of Jesus Christ
was very far from being as solemnly, as universally, as uniformly
received by the body of pastors, as the bull _Unigenitus_ hath been
in these latter times. Nevertheless, after the council of Nice, the
Arians were, from that time, hereticks declared, not withstanding the
partisans that still adhered to them. It may be; it is even out of
doubt, that in the councils which have decided on matters of faith,
many of the bishops declared for the good cause, through views of
policy, interest, or passion. Witness the unhappy facility with which
most of the prelates, who, under Constantine, had declared that the
Word was God, declared afterwards, under Constantius, that it was
but a man. Witness again the violent conduct of St. Cyril, and of
the council of Ephesus, with regard to Nestorius. Witness, lastly,
the intrigues which too often disturbed those holy assemblies, and
affronted, as we may say, the Holy Ghost, that presides in them. But
still, once more, it is not the motives, it is the result of the
decision, that the faithful ought to consider. It is by this result
alone that they ought to abide: they would have too much to do, if it
were necessary for them to go back again to the causes which dictated
the decree. God hath promised to his church infallibility in her
decisions; but he has not promised to every individual purity in his
motives: he makes use of all sorts of means, even of the passions of
men, for making the truth triumph, and be known; and he employs human
things, in order to make divine matters succeed.”

Agreeably to these reasonings (the justness of which we pretend by
no means to judge of) the partisans of the bull thought themselves
warranted to treat the Jansenists as declared sectaries. The latter
said, in their defence, that the universal church was possessed of
their cause, by the appeal which they had made to a future council;
and that, ‘till the decision which they waited for, they could not be
cast out of her bosom. It was replied, that a crowd of hereticks,
to begin with Pelagius, so odious to the modern Jansenists, had been
looked upon and treated as innovators, without having been condemned
expressly by any œcumenical council. They objected, that the bull
proposed in reality not one truth for belief; the accumulated
qualifications of _hereticks_, _smelling_ of _heresy_, of _ill
sounding_, of _offending pious ears_, &c. were not applied to any
one proposition of father Quesnel’s in particular. Some of their
adversaries, after the example of an illustrious chief of Israel[12],
replied to them, (making a jest probably both of them and the bull)
that it proposed “to believe with an implicit faith indeterminate
truths:” others said simply, that in a list of poisons, it was not
necessary to mark expressly the degree of malignity of each, in
order to warn people to abstain from them. It was demanded again of
the Jansenists, how the church could preserve one of her essential
characters, that of being _visible_, if she were reduced to a handful
of priests, opposed to all the other pastors? And they replied,
that the true church, the _visible_ church, was that which taught
_visibly_ sound doctrine, and which did not authorise, like the bull,
the most shocking Pelagianism: they added, that the church, _visible_
as she is, and must be, was not the less hid in appearance in those
unhappy times, when the fathers of the church assure us that the
whole universe “was astonished to see itself Arian.” In a word, the
Jansenists answered their adversaries, as Sertorius did Pompey,

    Rome n’est plus dans Rome; elle est toute où je suis.

It was thus that the one and the other defended their cause. We say
nothing of the ill language which they added to them, and which on
either side were worthy of their reasons.

The magistrates alone (and this observation is not to be neglected)
opposed, on this occasion, to the constitutionists, reasons that
were unanswerable: they pronounced, that the doctrine, taught or
authorised by the bull, was contrary to the laws of the kingdom, and
of consequence ought not to be a pretext for vexation. Of this the
magistrates were competent judges, and the partisans of the bull had
nothing to reply: it belongs to the depositaries of the law to decide
what is conformable or contrary to it; and this question is not within
the province of the church.

It is certain, besides, that all those refusals of the sacraments,
occasioned by the bull, disturbed private families; that they sowed
dissension among the people: that in this view, at least, the
magistrates ought to take cognizance of it, and to employ, as they
did, the authority of the laws, to put an end to the confusion. But
the inconvenience which attends contests in theology, of hurting the
publick tranquillity, is the fruit of the error which was committed in
France, and almost every where else, of connecting civil affairs with
religion, of requiring a citizen of Paris to be, not only a faithful
subject, but also a good catholic, and as exact in providing holy
bread as in paying his taxes. As long as this spirit shall subsist
among us, the maxim of which fanaticks make an ill use so often, “That
it is better to obey God than man,” will be an invincible obstacle
to the most prudent measures of government and of magistrates for
stifling religious quarrels; because men like better to obey a master
of their own chusing (and who, after all, commands them to do only
what they please) than a master whom they have not chosen, and who
enjoins them what they dislike. In Holland, where the Jansenists form
a church absolutely separate, which the government knows nothing of,
and leaves in peace, they are neither the cause nor the object of any
disturbance. It is only by a discreet toleration (equally avowed by
religion and politicks) that we can prevent those frivolous disputes
from being contrary to the repose of the state, and to the union of
the subject. But when shall we see that happy time?

However this be, the Jansenists, treated at their death as
excommunicated persons, rose up against this new persecution. The
parliament, which had registered the bull with a very ill will,
undertook their defence; it banished the fathers who refused the
communion to dieing Jansenists: the archbishop, on his side, forbad
them, and deprived of their places those priests who obeyed the
parliament; and the unhappy _God-Bearers_ (so they are called) having
before their eyes exile on one side, and famine on the other, found
themselves under a melancholy alternative. Reasonable people were
surprised that the archbishop, the author of their misfortune, did
not go and present himself to the parliament, declare that they had
done nothing but by his orders, and give himself up as a victim for
so many innocents. They had so much the more reason to expect this,
as the virtue of that prelate, and his sincerity in this affair,
were by no means suspected. The Jansenists called him persecutor and
schismatick; the courtiers, obstinate: his partisans compared him
to St. Athanasius, who was also (they said) called obstinate and
rebellious by the courtiers of his time.

The dispute grew more and more warm: the court wished ineffectually
to put a stop to it; the Jansenists had found means to occasion more
trouble in their deaths than they had done during their lives; the
parliaments and the arch-bishop were exiled by turns. At last the
king, justly tired of these disputes, recalled the magistrates, and in
concert with them imposed alike silence on the partisans and on the
adversaries of the bull.

This law of silence, it is true, was not too well observed; it was
particularly broken by the encomiums which the Jansenists bestowed on
it: they printed large volumes to prove that it was necessary to be
silent; they resembled the Pedant in Moliere, who after having talked
a long time, and said abundance of foolish things, promises at last to
keep silence[13], and in order to shew that he maintains his promise,
interrupts every moment the conversation, by observing _that he opens
not his mouth_.

The constitutionists on their side had the presumption to say,
that the King had no right to ordain mad subjects to be silent on
the ridiculous object which heated their imaginations; that the
sixth general council had _anathematized_ the _type_ of the emperor
Constantius, which was also, as they pretended, nothing more than a
_law of silence_. The Jansenists replyed, that this council had done
better still, in _anathematizing_ Pope Honorius.

The King, employed like a good father, according to the expression of
a celebrated author, in parting his children who were fighting, was
desirous of supporting himself by an authority respectable to both
parties, and especially to the most numerous: he thought proper to
consult on this question, by which all France was agitated, the late
pope Benedict XIV. a man of understanding, who loved not the Jesuits,
and who at the bottom despised this controversy. The pope replied like
a crafty Italian; on one side he ordained the acceptance of the bull,
the work of one of his _infallible_ predecessors, which he could
not decently condemn; on the other, he declared at the same time,
that the Jansenists who rejected it, ought nevertheless to have the
sacraments administered to them at their deaths, “but at their own
risque and hazard,” and after having been _thoroughly advertized_ of
the danger which they ran with respect to their eternal salvation.
From this period the refusals of the sacraments became less frequent;
the Jansenists and their adversaries thought they had alike the pope
for them, and tranquillity seemed almost re-established.

It was not even lessened by the step which the parliament thought
itself obliged to take some time after, of protesting anew against
this bull _Unigenitus_; the acceptance of which it had registered
with reluctance. It called not in question indeed the doctrine of the
bull; that would have been to encroach on the authority of the church,
and it knew too well the limits of its own rights: it protested only
against the execution of this bull, declaring it contrary to what
is termed in France “the liberties of the Gallican Church.” This
protest had not the glory it merited; it was the sequel of a number
of writings, of which the French levity began to be tired. Nay,
the partisans of the bull even made a jest, with an indecency that
deserved punishment, of the “pretended liberties of the Gallican
Church,” by virtue of which, the parliament, according to the terms
of its decrees, enjoined the priests, under ignominious penalties, to
administer the sacraments: they saw not, said they jeeringly, how such
decrees supported and favoured the liberty of the church of France,
by forcing its ministers to do what they did not think they ought to
do. This way of talking, these contests, the pieces without number,
which resulted from them, served to feed the frivolous disposition
and gaiety of the nation: people laughed at the reciprocal animosity
of the theologists of both parties, for questions which deserved it
so little: for that animosity, though very usual, and of all ages,
always astonishes and amuses reasonable people. Every body laughed no
less at seeing, that notwithstanding the reiterated orders issued by
the Sorbonne, to mention no more of the bull _Unigenitus_, either in
their writings or their theses, the college displayed an attachment
the most obstinate to this bull, which it had rejected so long.
Nothing more was wanting, it was said, to all the strange things
that had happened on this subject, than to forbid without success
the faculty of divinity from teaching a doctrine which it cost so
much trouble to make them receive. Philosophy, above all, laughed in
silence at all these extravagancies, and amused herself with this
new change of the scene, waiting with patience for an opportunity
of profiting by it. Those among the philosophers who hoped for no
good from these quarrels, took the still wiser part, of laughing at
the whole. They observed the mutual rancour of the Jansenists and
their adversaries, with that disinterested curiosity with which they
observe the combats of animals, well assured, let what would happen,
of ending cause to laugh at the expence of some of them. So many blows
reciprocally struck on both sides with violence, did not yet reach
the Jesuits; employed on one hand in arming the bishops against the
expiring remains of the Jansenists their enemies; and on the other,
in animating, underhand, the court of France against the parliaments,
they were the secret soul of all this war, without appearing to
intermeddle in it. But the Jansenists, who, in the quarrel concerning
the sacraments, had, or at least thought they had, gained ground, grew
bolder by degrees, seemed to prepare for a more decisive stroke; and
the arch-bishop, their enemy, whetted, without knowing it, by his
zeal, the sword with which the society was soon to be pierced.

Two capital errors which the Jesuits committed about that time at
Versailles, began to shake their credit, and to prepare from afar
their disaster. They refused, as we are assured, through motives
of human respect, to take under their direction some powerful
personages[14], who had no reason to expect from them a severity
so singular in many respects. This indiscreet refusal, it is said,
contributed to hasten their ruin by the very hands which they might
have made their support: thus these men, who had been so often
accused of loose morals, and who had maintained themselves at court
by such morals alone, were undone the moment that they wanted (even
to their own great regret) to profess severity; an abundant subject
for reflexions, and an evident proof that the Jesuits, from the very
first till that time, had taken the right way to support themselves,
seeing they ceased to be, the moment that they deviated from it. It is
added, that at the same time that they displeased the court by their
scruples, they displeased it also by their intrigues. They laid, it
was said, snares for some men in place, whose crime in their eyes was
that of being wanting in devotion to the society, the only country
which they know: the usual effect of these sorts of attacks is, to
strengthen the credit which they do not overthrow; those who were the
objects of the Jesuitical plots obtained but the more favour by that

While the Jesuits, rather dreaded than supported by the greater part
of the clergy, animated against themselves the parliaments, and
alienated the persons of the court who had most credit, they also
found the secret to indispose greatly a set of men, less powerful in
appearance, but more formidable than is imagined, that of the men of
letters. Their declamations, at court and in the city, against the
_Encyclopedie_ had irritated against them all those who wished well to
that work, and who were very numerous: their invectives against the
author of the _Henriade_, their old pupil, and for a long time their
friend, had provoked that celebrated writer, who made them sensibly
feel the folly which they had been guilty of in attacking him.
Whatever be our strength, or whatever we imagine it to be, we ought
never to make ourselves enemies of those who, enjoying the advantage
of being read from one end of Europe to the other, are able, with one
stroke of their pen, to inflict a signal and lasting vengeance. This
is a maxim which favour and power itself ought never to make either
individuals, or societies, lose sight of, but which the Jesuits of our
times seem to have forgot to their great misfortune. The lion pretends
to sleep, suffers the wasp to buz around his ears; but grows tired at
last of hearing it, rouses himself, and kills it. For six years and
upwards, the Journalists de Trevoux, and the light troops which low
literature maintained in their pay, abused the celebrated person above
mentioned, who seemed not to know it, and suffered them to go on. At
length tired of seeing himself harrassed by so many insects, he tucked
up the maroders, and silenced their chiefs; and what is of importance
in France to the gaining of a cause, exposed both the one and the
other to publick laughter. While he rendered the Jesuits ridiculous,
they rendered themselves odious to all the sensible men of the nation,
by the spirit of persecution which they preached up in the same
Journal de Trevoux, and the fanaticism which they published in it.
The philosophers, as they are called, whom they sought to maltreat,
forgot, on their side, no opportunity of avenging themselves in their
works; and this they did in a manner the most mortifying to the
Jesuits, without too much engaging and exposing themselves. They did
not say to them as the Jansenists did, “You are ambitious, intriguing,
and knaves:” this accusation would not have humbled the society: they
said to them, “You are blockheads; you have not among you a single man
of learning, whose name is famous in Europe, and worthy of being so:
you boast of your credit; but that credit exists more in opinion than
in reality; it is only a house of cards, which will be overturned the
moment one blows upon it.” They said true, and the event has proved
it. To complete their misfortune, the Jesuits, overwhelmed with the
blows which they had imprudently drawn upon themselves, had not one
single defender able to repel them: they had no good writers, nor
men of merit in any kind; their new enemies, oppressed by them at
Versailles, were too strong for them at the pen; and the value of this
advantage is sensibly felt in a nation which loves to read only to
amuse itself, and which ends always by declaring for that party which
succeeds therein the best. The Jesuits had for them the phantom of
their power; their adversaries had France and all Europe.

It must be confessed that the Jansenists, who never piqued themselves
on being artful, were much more so in these latter times, than they
thought for; and that the Jesuits, who value themselves greatly on
their finesse, were not at all cunning. They fell like fools into the
snare which their enemies had laid for them, without once suspecting
it. The Jansenist Gazetteer, excited only by fanaticism and hatred
(for that half-witted satyrist knew no better) reproached the Jesuits
with pursuing in the Jansenists the phantom of heresy, and of not
falling upon the philosophers, who became daily, according to him,
more numerous and more insolent. The Jesuits stupidly quitted their
expiring prey, to attack men full of vigour, who never thought of
hurting them. What was the consequence? They have not quieted their
old enemies, and have drawn upon themselves new ones, whom they had
nothing to do with. They perceive it very plainly now, but it is too

Such was the situation of these fathers, when the war kindled between
England and France brought upon the society that famous law-suit
which ended in its destruction: the Jesuits carried on a trade with
Martinico; the war having occasioned them some losses, they wanted
to break their correspondents at Lyons and Marseilles; a Jesuit in
France, to whom these correspondents addressed themselves for justice,
talked to them like the _rat retired from the world_: “My friends,”
said the recluse, “things below no longer concern me; and what can a
poor hermit assist you in? What can he do but pray God to help you in
this affair? I hope that he will take some care of you.[15]”

He offered to say a mass for them to obtain from God, instead of the
money which they demanded, the grace to bear in a _Christian-like_
manner their ruin. These merchants, thus robbed and treated like fools
by the Jesuits, attacked them in the regular way of justice; they
pretended that these fathers, by virtue of their constitutions, were
answerable one for the other, and that the Jesuits in France ought to
discharge the debts of their missionaries in America. The Jesuits
were so persuaded of the goodness of their cause, that as they had a
right to be judged before the Great Council, they demanded, in order
to render their triumph more brilliant and complete, to have the
cause brought before the Great Chamber of the parliament of Paris.
They lost it there unanimously, and to the great satisfaction of the
publick, which testified its joy at it by universal applause: they
were condemned to pay immense sums to the parties, with a prohibition
to them to meddle with commerce.

This was but the beginning of their misfortunes. In the law-suit which
they maintained, it had been debated, whether in reality, by their
constitutions, they were answerable one for the other: this question
furnished the parliament with a very natural opportunity of demanding
a sight of those famous constitutions, which had never been either
examined or approved of with the requisite forms. The examination of
these constitutions, and afterward that of their books, furnished
_legal_ means more than sufficient for declaring their institution
contrary to the laws of the kingdom, to the obedience due to the
sovereign, to the security of his person, and to the tranquillity of
the state.

I say _legal_ means; for we ought to distinguish, in this cause, the
_legal_ means on which the destruction of the Jesuits was founded,
from the other motives, no less equitable, of that destruction. We
must not believe, that either the constitutions of these fathers, or
the doctrine they are reproached with, were the only cause of their
ruin, though they may be the only truly _legal_ cause, and the only
one of course which should have been mentioned in the decrees issued
against them. It is but too true, that several other orders have
nearly for principle the same servile obedience which the Jesuits
vow to their superiours, and to the pope; it is but too true, that a
thousand other doctors and religious orders have taught the doctrine
of the power of the church over the temporalities of kings: it was not
merely because they thought the Jesuits worse Frenchmen than other
monks, that they destroyed and dispersed them: it was because they
looked upon them with reason as more to be dreaded on account of
their intrigues and their credit; and this motive, though not _legal_,
is certainly a much better one than was necessary to get rid of them.
The national league against the Jesuits resembles that of Cambray
against the republick of Venice, which had for its principal cause the
riches and insolence of those republicans. The society had furnished
the same motives for hatred. The publick were justly displeased at
seeing persons of a religious order, devoted by their very profession
to humility, to retirement and silence, directing the consciences of
kings, educating the gentry, caballing at court, in the city, and in
the provinces. Nothing irritates reasonable people more, than men who
have renounced the world, and yet seek to govern it. This, in the
eyes of the wise, was the least pardonable crime of the society: this
crime, of which no mention was made, was of greater weight than all
those they were loaded with besides, and which, by their nature, were
more proper to cause a decree to be pronounced against them in a court
of judicature.

The Jesuits have even had the presumption to pretend, and several
bishops their partisans have dared to declare it in print, that the
great collection of assertions, extracted from the Jesuit authors by
order of the parliament, a collection which served as the principal
motive for their destruction, ought not to have had that effect: that
it was compiled in haste by Jansenist priests, and ill-attested by
magistrates who were unfit for the work: that it was full of false
quotations, passages that were mutilated or misunderstood, objections
that were taken for answers: in short, of a thousand other unfair
things of the like nature. The magistrates took the trouble of
replying to these reproaches, and the publick would have excused them:
it cannot be denied, that amidst a great number of exact quotations,
some errors had escaped: they were acknowledged without difficulty.
But could these errors (though they had been much more numerous)
prevent the rest from being true? Besides, were the complaint of the
Jesuits and their defenders as just as it appears to be otherwise,
who will give himself the trouble of examining so many passages?
In the mean time, till the truth be cleared up (if truths of this
nature be worth the trouble) this collection will have produced the
good which the nation desired, the annihilation of the Jesuits; the
reproaches with which we have a right to upbraid them will be more or
less numerous; but the society will not exist; that was the important

This volume of assertions, extracted from the books of the Jesuits,
condemned by the magistrates, had been preceded some years before by
the condemnation of the work of the Jesuit Busenbaum, in which the
doctrine of king-killing is openly maintained: the copy on which this
condemnation was pronounced, bore date 1757, the melancholy æra of
that attempt which filled France with horrour and consternation. The
Jesuits have pretended that this date was a forgery of their enemies,
who, to render them odious, had caused a new title-page to be prefixed
to an old edition: the Jansenists maintained, that the edition was in
reality quite new, and proved in a sensible manner how far, and to
what a degree of impudence, the Jesuits dared be bad subjects. These
Jansenists, so little dexterous in other matters, but very violent
and rancorous, had actually persuaded the greater part of the French
nation, that the atrocious crime in question was the work of the
Jesuits. However, the answers of the criminal to the interrogatories
put to him, as they were made publick, by no means accused those
fathers; but he had been a servant to them, as well as to persons of
the opposite party: he had declared this to his judges; the Jesuits
(for good reasons without doubt, but which we are ignorant of) were
not interrogated, as it seemed they should have been; this was enough
to a great part of the publick, to charge them with the crime.

The assassination of the king of Portugal, which happened the year
following, and in which the society was again involved, served as a
new means to its enemies for maintaining, and making it believed, that
the attempt, which shocked all France, was their work. The friends of
the Jesuits pretended that they were innocent of the crime committed
in Portugal; that the storm raised against them on this occasion, and
of which also they became the victims in that kingdom, was an effect
of the hatred which they had drawn upon them, on the part of the
prime minister Carvalho, who was all-powerful with that prince. But
why should persons of a religious order inspire a minister of state
with hatred against them, unless it be because they have rendered
themselves formidable to that minister by their intrigues? Why should
Mr. Carvalho, who detested the Jesuits, leave in peace the Cordeliers,
the Jacobins, and the Recollects, unless because he found the Jesuits
in his way, and that the others vegetated in peace in their convents,
without doing the state either good or harm? Every religious and
turbulent society merits, on that account alone, that a state should
be purged of them; it is a crime for them to be formidable.

Accordingly the Portugueze minister availed himself dexterously
of the imputation laid to the charge of some of these fathers, of
having advised, directed, and absolved the assassins, for causing
all the Jesuits to be driven out of the kingdom: they were sent to
their general, who, it is said, not knowing what to do with these
new-comers, left them to perish with hunger and want on board the very
vessels which brought them.

M. de Carvalho, when he expelled the Jesuits, caused three of them to
be arrested, who had been declared guilty; but he was not powerful
enough to procure the Jesuit Malagrida to be put to death, though
he passed for the most criminal. The Portugueze populace, ignorant,
superstitious, and full of Romish maxims, would not have suffered a
religious to be delivered up to the secular arm for a crime deserving
of the greatest punishments, because that crime was committed only
against a layman: they were obliged, in order to convict Malagrida of
a crime against God, which should render him worthy of death, to go
and seek out some silly books of devotion, the productions of weakness
and of madness, written by that unhappy Jesuit: it was solely for
these rhapsodies that he was condemned to the fire of the inquisition,
not as guilty of high treason, but as a heretick. They reproached him
with visions and miracles, of which he had had the folly to boast;
they reproached him particularly with having been able, at the age of
seventy-five years, to divert himself all alone in his confinement as
a young novice would have done; which might also have been looked upon
as a kind of miracle, truely worthy of being counted among the others.
It was upon motives of this sort that he was condemned to a most cruel
death: the arrêt did not even make mention of the parricide of which
he was accused; and as M. de Voltaire most excellently remarks, an
excess of severity was joined to an excess of folly.

It was matter of pleasantry to observe the embarrassment into which
the Jesuits and the Jansenists were thrown, on account of this victim
sacrificed to the inquisition. The Jesuits, devoted till that time
to this bloody tribunal, dared no longer take its part, since it had
burnt one of their society: the Jansenists who abhorred it, began
to think it just, from the moment that it had condemned a Jesuit
to the flames. They assured us, and asserted it in print, that the
inquisition was not what they had thought it till then, and that
justice was done there _with much wisdom and deliberation_. Some
magistrates also, till then sworn enemies of the inquisition, seemed
at this juncture to soften a little towards it. One of the first
tribunals in the kingdom condemned to the fire a writing, in which
the Portugueze inquisition was very ill treated on account of the
punishment of Malagrida: and in the declaration which condemned this
writing to the fire, they bestowed many commendations, not wholly
on the inquisition itself, but on the _scrupulous examination_ in
consequence of which the Jesuit was delivered up to the secular arm.

On account of this charge of regicide, so often renewed against the
Jesuits, we shall relate here a curious anecdote. It is astonishing,
that among so many pieces which have called these fathers _assassins_,
not one has made mention of a circumstance indeed little known, but
which seems to afford a fine light to their enemies. At Rome, in their
church of St. Ignatius, they have caused to be represented in the four
corners of the cupola (painted about a hundred years since by one
of their fathers) subjects drawn from the Old Testament; and these
subjects are so many assassinations, or at least murders, committed
in the name of God by the Jewish people: Jael, who, impelled by the
Divine Spirit, drives a nail into Sisera’s head, to whom she had
offered and given hospitality; Judith, who, conducted by the same
guide, cuts off the head of Holofernes, after having seduced and made
him drunk; Sampson, who massacres the Philistines by order of the
Almighty; lastly, David, who slays Goliah. At the top of the cupola,
St. Ignatius, in a glory, darts out flames on the four quarters of
the world, with these words of the New Testament; “I came to set fire
to the earth; and what would I but that it be kindled?” Methinks, if
any thing could make known the spirit of the society, with respect to
the murderous doctrine that is imputed to them, these pictures would
be a stronger proof of it than all the passages which are related
from their authors, and which are common to them with many others:
but the truth is, that these principles, supported in appearance by
the scriptures ill understood, are the principles of the fanaticks
of all ages; and we may add, of the greater part of any sect, when
they believe it to be their interest to propagate them, and that they
can preach them in safety. To them an heretick and infidel prince
is a tyrant, and of course a man whom religion and reason order us
equally to rid ourselves of. The only thing which the Jesuits ought
to be reproached with, is that of having forsaken these abominable
principles later than others, after having more strongly maintained
them; of making particular profession of obedience to the pope, and
of a stricter obedience than the other orders; of being, on this
account, so much the more to be dreaded in the state, the more they
are in credit there, the more dispersed, the more addicted to the
ecclesiastical function, and above all to the instruction of youth;
of never having expressed themselves frankly and clearly (when they
have not been forced to it) on the maxims of government, touching
the infallibility of the pope, and the independence of kings; and
of having given too much room to understand, that they looked upon
these maxims as mere local opinions, which might be maintained either
pro or con, according to the country in which they found themselves
placed. We may say with truth, and without passion, that this manner
of thinking breaks forth in all their works, and in those even of the
French Jesuits, who have wanted to appear less Romish with respect to
our maxims, than their brethren of Italy or Spain.

We must not believe, however, that this submission to the pope, with
which the society are so often reproached, is with them an irrevocable
doctrine. While the Jesuits preached it in Europe with so much zeal,
we may say with madness, to effect the acceptance of the bull which
they had drawn up, they opposed in China the decrees which the
sovereign pontiffs launched out against them on account of the Chinese
ceremonies: they went even so far, as to call in question the pope’s
authority to decide on subjects of that nature. So far it is true,
that their pretended devotion to the pope was only, as we may say, by
way of _inventorial benefit_, and on the tacit condition of favouring
their pretensions, or at least of not prejudicing their interests.

However this be, the parallel which has just been made of the doctrine
of the Jesuits with the other orders, is, in my opinion, the true
point of view from which we should have set out in their destruction.
Among so many magistrates, who have written long examinations on
the affair of the society, M. de la Chalotais, attorney-general of
the parliament of Bretagne, appears more than any other to have
considered this affair like a statesman, a philosopher, an enlightened
magistrate, and one disengaged of all spirit of hatred and of party.
He has not amused himself with proving laboriously and weakly, that
the other monks were better than the Jesuits: he has penetrated
farther and deeper: his march to the fight has been more frank and
firm. “The monastick spirit,” said he, “is the scourge of states: of
all those whom this spirit animates, the Jesuits are the most hurtful,
because they are the most powerful; it is then with them that we must
begin to shake off the yoke of that pernicious race.” It seems as if
this illustrious magistrate had taken for his device the following
verses of Virgil[16].

    Ductoresque ipsos primùm, capita alta ferentes
    Cornibus arboreis, sternit; tum vulgus, & omnem
    Miscet agens telis nemora inter frondea turbam.

The war which he has made with so much success upon the society, is
only the signal of the examination to which he appears desirous of
having the constitutions of the other orders submitted, with a proviso
of preserving those, which on such examination shall be judged useful.
There are even some particular communities, for example, that of the
fraternity called _Ignorantins_, whom he points out expressly to the
vigilance of the magistrates, as having already gained silently much
ground: however, I know not whether I am mistaken, men who bear a name
so little formed to command respect, ought by no means to flatter
themselves with succeeding one day to the Jesuits, among a people with
whom names are apt to give law: it is necessary, in order to have in
France success and enemies, to begin by calling one’s-self otherwise.

With regard to the other monks in general, it belongs to the wisdom
of government to judge of the method they ought to take with them;
but supposing they should one day want to destroy them, or at least
to weaken them enough to prevent their being hurtful, there is an
infallible way of succeeding therein, without employing violence,
which must be avoided even with them: this would be to revive the
ancient laws, which forbid monastick vows before twenty-five years of
age. May the government yield in this respect to the unanimous desire
of enlightened citizens!

In expectation of this disaster of the monastick communities and
the happiness of the state, let us continue and finish the account
of the annihilation of the Jesuits. In spite of the war declared
against the society by the magistrates, those fathers did not think
their destruction unavoidable: the parliament of Paris, which had
given them the first blow, had assigned them a year to judge of their
institution: the party which desired their ruin, blind with hatred,
and knowing neither the laws nor its forms, reproached the parliament
with having granted them so long a term: they were afraid, that the
friends which they had still left at court, would obtain from the
king an evocation to himself alone of the judgement of this affair.
These apprehensions appeared so much the better founded, as, in the
interval of the time assigned for judgement, they had again received
from court pretty striking marks of protection. The parliament, by
the arrêt of the 6th of August, 1761, which adjourned them to appear
at the end of the year for the judgement of their constitutions, had
ordained provisionally the shutting up of their college on the first
of October following: the king, notwithstanding the representations
of the parliament, prorogued this time till the 1st of April; and
this prorogation made it be apprehended, that they might obtain marks
of favour still more signal. Nobody moreover could imagine that a
society, lately so powerful, could ever be annihilated: their very
enemies dared not flatter themselves with it fully; but they wished
at least to deprive them, if it were possible, of the two principal
branches of their credit, the place of confessor to their kings, and
the education of the gentry.

The king, in the midst of all these proceedings, had consulted, on the
institutes of the Jesuits, the bishops who were in Paris: about forty
among them, either through persuasion or policy, had bestowed the
greatest encomiums, both upon the institute and the society: six were
of opinion, that their constitutions should be modified in certain
respects: one alone, the bishop of Soissons, declared the institute
and the order alike detestable. It was pretended that this prelate
(so severe, or so honest) had personal and very grievous subjects
of complaint against the Jesuits, who, on a delicate occasion, had
deceived, exposed, and sacrificed him. Besides resentment, as they
said, and that he wanted to avenge himself of them, this bishop was
become Jansenist, and declared chief of a party, which had no longer
a head, and was soon to have no members. Unhappily for the Jesuits,
the prelate, whom they sought to cry down, was of an unblemished
reputation in point of religion, probity, and manners: he affirmed,
without disguise, that the parliaments were in the right, and
that they could not too effectually get rid of a society, equally
destructive to religion and to the state.

Nevertheless, a plurality of the bishops being favourable to the
preservation of the Jesuits, the king, in order to show deference to
their opinion, issued an edict, the object of which was to suffer them
to subsist, modifying, in several respects, their constitutions. This
edict being carried to the parliament to be registered, met there a
general opposition: they made strong remonstrances against it; and
these remonstrances had more success than the parliament itself could
have expected. The king, without making any reply to them, withdrew
his edict.

In this situation, Martinico, which had already been so fatal to
these fathers, by occasioning the law-suit which they had lost,
hastened, it is said, their ruin, by a singular circumstance. We
received, at the end of March, 1762, the melancholy news of the
taking of that colony. This capture, so important to the English,
occasioned a loss of several millions to our commerce: the wisdom of
the government was desirous of preventing the complaints which so
great a loss would occasion to the publick. They bethought them, by
way of causing a diversion, of furnishing the French with another
subject of conversation; as heretofore Alcibiades thought of cutting
off his dog’s tail, in order to prevent the Athenians from talking of
weightier matters. They declared then to the principal of the college
of the Jesuits, that nothing more remained for them but to obey the
parliament, and to put a stop to their lectures, by the 1st of April,
1762. From that time the colleges were shut up, and the society began
seriously to despair of its fortune: at length the 6th of August,
1762, the day so wished for by the publick, arrived: the institute was
unanimously condemned by the parliament, without any opposition on
the part of the sovereign: their vows were declared not binding, the
Jesuits secularised and dissolved, their effects alienated and sold;
the greater part of the parliaments, sooner or later, treated them
pretty nearly in the same manner; some mingled still more rigour in
their judgements, and drove them away without other form of process.

They lived therefore dispersed here and there, and wearing the secular
habit; but they remained still about the court, and were even in
greater numbers there than ever: they seemed there to brave in silence
their enemies, and to wait, in order to recover themselves, a more
favourable season. It was said pretty loudly, that these foxes were
not destroyed, if they proceeded not at last to shut them up in the
hole where they thought themselves secure; and that they were not
martyrs so long as they were confessors. “They are very sick;” it was
added, “perhaps dieing, but their pulse yet beats.” They were thought
to be so little annihilated, notwithstanding their dispersion, that a
superior of a seminary, to whom their house for novices was offered,
replied, that he would not accept of it, out of fear of _spirits_.

They were not however very far distant from the moment of their
total expulsion; and it was again to the inconsiderate zeal of their
friends that they owed this obligation. A frantick partisan of the
society published, in their defence, a violent treatise, abusing
the magistrates, entitled, _It is Time to Speak_. Somebody said
then, that the magistrates answer should be, _It is Time to Depart_.
Such person was so much the less mistaken, as a new subject of
complaint succeeded, to fill up the measure of these proceedings.
The arch-bishop, of whom we have already made such frequent mention,
thought the rights of the church violated by the arrêts of parliament,
against vows contracted before the altars: he issued, in favour of the
Jesuits, a mandate, which served completely to set the magistrates
against them; some of these fathers were accused of having hawked
about the mandate; some of their votaries, of having vended it: this
was, as it were, the signal of the last blow given to the whole body.
The parliament ordered, that within the space of eight days, every
Jesuit, professed or not professed, who was desirous of remaining in
the kingdom, should make oath that he renounced the institution. The
term was short; they did not choose to give them time to deliberate:
it was feared they might hold secret assemblies among themselves; that
they might write to their general to beg his leave to give way to the
times; that by favour of _mental restrictions_, they might take the
oath which was required; that under the cover of this oath they might
remain in France, in order to wait there a more favourable juncture;
that they might practise at last the maxim of Acomat in Bajazet:

    Promettez; affranchi du péril qui vous presse,
    Vous verrez de quel poids sera votre promesse.

It is certain that the Jesuits, in signing the oath which was
proposed, would have greatly embarrassed the Jansenists their enemies,
who sought only a pretext to get them banished, and to whom that
pretext would have been wanting. It is certain moreover, that as
Frenchmen and as Christians they might have signed conscientiously
what was required of them: this a writer, by no means well affected
in other respects to the society, has proved demonstratively, by a
writing which has fallen into my hands, and which will be found in
the sequel of this history: but whether it was fanaticism or reason,
whether a principle of conscience or human respect, whether honour or
obstinacy, the Jesuits did not what they might have done, and what
it was feared they would do. These men, who were thought so much
disposed to trifle with religion, and who had been represented as
such in a multitude of writings, refused almost all to take the oath
which was required of them: in consequence thereof they had orders
to quit the kingdom; and these orders were executed with rigour. In
vain several of them represented their age, their infirmities, the
services which they had performed; hardly one of their requests was
granted. The justice which had been done on the body, was pushed
against individuals to an extreme severity, which probably was thought
necessary. They wanted to take away from this society, the very
shadow of which seemed to terrify even after it no longer existed,
all means of springing up again one day; sentiments of compassion
were sacrificed to what was deemed reason of state. Nevertheless the
implacable Jansenists, irritated by the very recent remembrance of
the persecutions which the Jesuits had made them undergo, thought
that the parliament had not yet done enough: they resembled the Swiss
Captain, who ordered the dead and the dying to be buried together
on the field of battle: it was represented to him, that some of the
interred still breathed, and begged only to live: “Pho,” said he, “if
we were to mind them, there would not be a dead man among them.”

It is certain that the greater part of the Jesuits, those who in
that society (as elsewhere) interfere with nothing, and who are much
more numerous among them than is imagined, ought not, had it been
possible, to have been punished for the faults of their superiors:
thousands of these innocents were confounded unwillingly with a score
of criminals: nay, further, these innocents were unhappily the only
persons punished, and the only ones to be pitied; for the leaders
had obtained, by their interest, pensions which they could enjoy at
their ease, while the multitude sacrificed remained without bread as
well as without support. All that could be alledged in favour of the
general decree of expulsion pronounced against these fathers, was the
famous passage of Tacitus, relative to that law of the Romans, which
condemned to death all the slaves in a house for the crime of a single
one: _habet aliquid ex iniquo omne magnum exemplum_; “every great
example has somewhat unjust in it.” Thus, in the destruction of the
Templars, a great number of innocents fell victims to the pride and
insolent riches of their chiefs: and thus the disorders, of which the
Templars were accused, were not the only cause of their destruction;
their principal crime was that of having rendered themselves odious
and formidable. Posterity will think the same of the judgement
issued against the Jesuits, and of the exile to which they have been
condemned: they will deem it perhaps severe, at least in appearance,
but perhaps also will judge it indispensible: this time alone can

For the rest, independently of the natural compassion which the aged
Jesuits, or those sick, and without resource, seemed to claim, and
who after all are men, one would think a distinction might have been
made, in the oath which was required, between the professed Jesuits
and those who were not so, between those who had already renounced
the institution and those who adhered to it still, without being
absolutely tied to it. Allow the oath to have been required from the
professed Jesuits, whom they wanted to get rid of, such a precaution
might have been thought necessary: but was it necessary to require
anything more of the Jesuits who were not professed, than a simple
promise that they would not bind themselves to the institution, or
any thing else of the ex-Jesuits, than a bare declaration that they
had renounced it? The contrary conduct which was observed, might have
preserved to the society subjects who were disposed to quit it, and
who were deprived of every other resource: this rigour also might
restore to the order, members which it had already lost.

In proposing these reflexions, I am very far from disapproving of
the conduct of the magistrates; who for just reasons, without doubt,
thought it their duty to act otherwise: it is proper however to
remark, that several parliaments have thought it their duty, on their
parts, to observe a contrary conduct; after having dissolved the
institution, they have left the dispersed Jesuits all the rights of
subjects: but is it not to be feared, said they, that by preserving
them thus in more than one half of the kingdom, they have left to
these men, who are thought so turbulent, a means of forming intrigues,
so much the more dangerous as they are concealed? Once more, time
alone can inform us which of the judges have taken the best method in
this affair; whether the one have not been too rigorous, and whether
the others, in wanting to be less so, have not buried the fire under
the ashes.

Some parliaments besides had pronounced no sentence against the
institution; and the Jesuits subsisted still entire in one part of
France. There was room to apprehend, that at the first signal of
rallying, the _dispersed_ party, suddenly joining the party _united_,
might form a new society, even before any should be in a condition
to oppose it. The wisdom, and the honour also, of government, seemed
to require, that the law, with regard to the Jesuits, whatever it
was, should be uniform throughout the kingdom. These views seem to
have dictated the edict, by which the king has just abolished the
society throughout all France; but permitting, in other respects, its
members to live quietly in their country, under the eye and under the
protection of the laws. May these pacifick intentions of our august
monarch be crowned with the success which they merit!

It was without doubt the better to fulfill these respectable
intentions, that the parliament of Paris, on registering this new
edict, ordained the Jesuits to reside each in his own diocese, and
to present themselves every six months before the magistrates of the
place in which they shall dwell. We know not whether the Jesuits, who
are already withdrawn into foreign countries, will think proper to
submit to this constraint. The same arrêt forbids them to come within
ten leagues of Paris, which banishes them at least six leagues from
Versailles, but prohibits them not from dwelling at Fontainbleau and
Compiegne, where the court resides at least three months in the year.
It was thought, perhaps, that during so short a space of time, their
intrigues at court would not be to be dreaded.

On banishing the Jesuits by its first arrêt, the parliament of Paris
had assigned them pensions for their subsistence: this mitigation to
their exile appeared to many people a contradiction. Wherefore, said
they, facilitate a retreat into foreign countries to subjects reputed
dangerous, apostles of regicide, enemies of the state, and who, by
refusing to renounce the society, prefer their Italian general to
their lawful sovereign? There is no cause, however, for blaming with
severity this apparent contradiction; though we should disapprove,
in logical rigour, of what it is not our province to decide upon,
we ought still more to excuse it, on account of the law of nature
which existed before there were Jansenists and Jesuits. Those who
have hampered themselves in the institution of the society, did it
altogether under the protection of the publick faith and the laws:
if they have refused to renounce it, it may be thro’ a delicacy
of conscience ever to be respected, even in men who are wrong. On
sacrificing them to the necessity which was thought indispensible, of
no longer permitting Jesuits in France, it would have been inhuman to
deprive them of the necessaries of life, and to forbid them even the
air which they breathe. As to the rest, these reflexions, whether well
or ill founded, have no longer place, from the moment that the Jesuits
are permitted, without requiring any thing of them, to remain in the
kingdom: after having deprived the society of its effects, it is right
to furnish its members with the means of subsisting, inasmuch as it is
thought possible, without inconvenience, to restore them to the state
to which they belong.

Let us not forget, before we conclude this narrative, a singular
circumstance, extremely proper to shew, in its true point of
view, the pretended concern for religion, with which several of
its ministers seek to bedeck themselves. Some bishops, who reside
in their dioceses, joined themselves, by their mandates, to the
archbishop, defender of the Jesuits: other bishops (who reside not)
were ready to join themselves also. The parliament made a shew of
wanting to renew, and causing to be observed with rigour, the ancient
laws respecting residence: these bishops then were silent, and their
menacing zeal expired on their lips. Disconcerted and humbled at their
impotence against the enemies of the Jesuits, they will seek perhaps
to indemnify themselves, by falling upon the philosophers, whom they
accuse, very unjustly, of having communicated to the parliament of
Paris their pretended liberty of thinking: even already some of these
prelates, we are assured, have taken this sad and feeble revenge; like
that wretch, on whom, as he was passing, a tile fell from the top of a
house, the roof of which was repairing; and who, to revenge himself,
threw stones up to the first story, not having strength, as he said,
to throw them higher.

Such has been in this kingdom the fate of the Jesuits: the
circumstances of their destruction have been very strange in all
respects; the storm began at a place where it was expected the least,
in Portugal, the most addicted of all the countries of Europe to
priests and monks, which appeared not formed for delivering itself so
speedily from the Jesuits, and still less to set in that respect the
example; their annihilation in France was prepared by the rigour which
they assumed in spite of themselves; lastly, it was consummated by a
dying and abject sect, which has finished, against all expectation,
what an Arnauld, a Paschal, and a Nicole, would neither have been able
to execute, nor attempt, nor even to hope. What more striking example
of that inconceivable fatality which seems to preside over human
affairs, and to bring them, when we expect it least, to the point
of maturity or destruction? It would make a fine chapter, to add to
history the great events which have happened through slender causes.

A well-known writer, speaking in 1759, three years before the
destruction of the Jesuits, of the two parties which divided the
church of France, said of the most powerful party, “that it would
cease soon to exist[17]:” some wanted to make these words pass for
a prophecy; but as probably the writer aspires not to the honour
of being a prophet, he will confess that on writing this sort of
prediction, he was very far from suspecting it was so true. It was
plainly seen, that the party till then oppressed began to gain ground;
but nobody could foresee to what a degree it was to oppress, in its
turn, that by which it had been till then kept under: fine matter to
the enemies of the society, to enforce the validity of their ordinary
commonplace sayings, on the Providence of God in support of what they
call _the good cause_!

It is not less singular, that the French nation, at a time when she
suffered her weakness to appear abroad, by an unsuccessful war,
should have performed this act of vigour at home: it is true, that
on reflexion we shall find perhaps, in the same principle, the cause
of so much weakness without, and of such great strength, or, if
you please, of such great fermentation within: but this political
discussion would carry us too far, and is no part of our subject.

What is more singular still, is, that an undertaking, which would have
been thought very difficult, and even impossible at the beginning of
1761, should have been accomplished in less than two years, without
noise, without resistance, and with as little trouble as they would
have had in destroying the Capuchins and the Pickpusses. We cannot say
of the Jesuits that their death has been as brilliant as their life.
Nay, if any thing ought to humble them, it is that they have perished
so pitifully, so obscurely, without lustre and without glory. Nothing
better discovers a real weakness, which had only the appearance of
strength. The Jesuits will say, without doubt, that they have only
executed, and wanted only to execute, literally the precept of the
gospel; “When they persecute you in one city, fly into another.” But
why, after having forgot this precept for two hundred years, have they
remembered it so late?

Lastly, what will complete our astonishment is, that two or three men
only, who would not have thought themselves destined to effect such a
revolution, should have conceived and accomplished this great project:
the general impulse given to the whole body of the magistracy was
their work, and the fruit of their impetuous activity. Mankind indeed
are seldom led by cold and calm spirits. Tranquill reason has not,
of herself alone, the warmth so necessary to enforce her opinions,
and make us enter into her views: she is content with instructing her
age silently, and without bustle, and to become afterwards a mere
spectatress of the effect, whether good or bad, which her lessons
shall have produced. She resembles, if we may use the comparison,
the “old man of the mountain,” at whose voice the young people, his
disciples, ran to throw themselves over precipices, but who took care
not to throw himself over.

It is true, that this small number of men, who set all the tribunals
of the kingdom in motion against the Jesuits, found the nation
favourably disposed for that fermentation, and eager to support it by
its discourses. We say _by its discourses_; for in France all that the
nation can do, is to speak, right or wrong, for or against, those who
govern: but it must be confessed also, that the publick cry is there
held in some account. Philosophy, against which the Jansenists had
declared war almost as hot as against the company of Jesus, had made,
in spite of them, and happily for them, sensible progresses. The
Jesuits, intolerant by system and situation, were become by it only
the more odious: they were considered, if I may so say, as the giants
of fanaticism; as the most dangerous enemies of reason, and as those
whom it imported most to get rid of. The parliaments, when they began
to attack the society, found this disposition in all minds. It was
properly philosophy, which by the mouth of the magistrates, issued the
decree against the Jesuits: Jansenism was only the sollicitor in it.
The nation, and the philosophers at its head, wished the annihilation
of these fathers, because they are intolerant, persecutors, turbulent,
and formidable: the Jansenists desired it, because the Jesuits
maintain _versatile grace_, and themselves _efficacious grace_. But
for this ridiculous scholastick dispute, and the fatal bull which was
the fruit of it, the society would perhaps still exist, after having
so often merited destruction, for causes somewhat more real and more
weighty. But at last it is destroyed, and reason is avenged.

     Qu’importe de quel bras Dieu daigne se servir?

To these reflexions we may join another no less important, and formed
to serve as a lesson to all religious orders, which may be tempted
to imitate the Jesuits. If those fathers had been prudent enough to
confine the credit of the society to what it might draw from the
sciences and letters, that credit would have been more solid, less
envied, and more durable. It was the spirit of intrigue and ambition
which they displayed, the oppressions which they exercised; in one
word, their enormous power (or what was thought such) and, above all,
the insolence which they joined to it, that ruined them. There is
no believing to what a height they had carried their audaciousness
lately: the following is a pretty recent stroke, which will make them
thoroughly known.

Benedict XIV. at the beginning of his pontificate, accepted the
dedication of a work, which father Norbert the Capuchin had composed
against the Jesuits; for they were come to that pass, as to arm even
the Capuchins against them: _Tu quoque Brute_[18]! cried a famous
satyrist on this occasion. The pope thought he might permit Norbert to
remain at Rome under his protection. He had not the power to do it:
the Jesuits took their measures so well, that in the end they drove
the Capuchin not only out of the pope’s territories, but even out of
all the Catholick states: he was obliged to fly to London, and found
not till 1759 an asylum in Portugal, when the society were driven from
thence: he had the satisfaction, as he tells us himself, to assist
at the execution of Malagrida, and to say mass for the repose of his
soul, while they finished burning his body.

The persecution, so rancorously carried on by the Jesuits against
this monk, who was protected by Benedict XIV. had greatly irritated
that pope against them; he omitted no opportunity of giving them, on
all occasions, disgust, whenever it was in his power. The Jansenists
even doubt not but, if he had lived, he would have availed himself
of the circumstance of their destruction in Portugal and France, to
annihilate the society: but whatever they may say, it is not probable
that a pope, be he what he will, should ever forget so far his own
true interests. The Jesuits are the sovereign Pontif’s Janissaries,
formidable sometimes to their master, like those of the Ottoman Porte,
but necessary like them to the support of the empire. It is the
interest of the court of Rome to curb and to preserve them: Benedict
XIV. had too much sense not to think so. The Czar Peter, it is true,
broke at one time 40,000 Strelitzes, who had revolted, though they
were his best soldiers: but the Czar had twenty millions of subjects,
and could recruit them with other Strelitzes; whereas the Pope, whose
whole power is supported only by the spiritual army under his command,
would not be able easily to recruit it with such soldiers as the
Jesuits, so well disciplined, so devoted to the church of Rome, and so
formidable to the enemies of the sovereign Pontif.

It may be asserted with truth, that Pope Benedict XIV. would have
acted better on such an occasion than his successor Clement XIII.
He would not, like the latter, have written to a king, who did him
the honour of consulting him, “that the Jesuits must remain as
they were:” he would have returned an equivocal answer, as he did
on occasion of the refusal of the sacraments to the Jansenists; he
would have gained time; he would have granted the parliaments some
modifications in regard to the institution (at least with respect
to the French Jesuits); he would have flattered and engaged the
Jansenists, by some bull, in favour of _efficacious grace_: in short,
he would have deadened or weakened the blows that were aimed at his
regiment of guards. But it looks as if, in this affair, the Jesuits
and their friends had been seized with a fit of giddiness, and that
they did themselves all that was necessary to accelerate their ruin:
they shewed themselves, for the first time, inflexible in a matter,
where it was of the highest importance to them not to be so: they
caballed in secret, and talked openly at court against their enemies:
they cried out, that religion was undone, if we parted with them;
that we drove them away only to establish in France incredulity and
heresy: and by these means they cast oil on the fire, instead of
extinguishing it. It looks as if the Jansenists had put up to God,
for the destruction of the society, the following prayer of Joad in

    Daigne, daigne, grand Dieu, sur _son chef_ & sur elle
    Répandre cet esprit d’imprudence & d’erreur,
    De _leur destruction_ funeste avant-coureur.

Accordingly the Jansenists strongly assured us in their bigotted
language, that the _finger of God_ was manifest on all parts in this
affair: “Alas!” replied a quondam Jesuit, seemingly consoled at being
no longer of the order, “you may say, all his four fingers, and the
thumb too!”

Thus then was this famous society cut off from amidst us; heaven grant
that it may be without return, were it only for the sake of peace,
and that we may at last be able to say, _hic jacet_. Its best friends
(we are not afraid to assert it) are too good subjects to think the
contrary: the re-establishment of this turbulent, irritated, and
fanatical society, would do more hurt to the state, than it could, in
the opinion even of its own partisans, do good to the church. This
event (if Providence please to make it durable) will form not only an
epoch, but, according to many people, a true chronological æra in the
history of religion: dates will be reckoned henceforth in that history
from the _Jesuitical Hegira_[19], at least in Portugal and in France;
and the Jansenists hope, that this new _ecclesiastical computation_
will not be long before it be admitted into other Catholic countries.
This is the end of those fervent prayers which they put up to God for
the greatest good of their enemies, and for bringing about “the return
of the society to itself.”

Nothing will be, without doubt, more advantageous and more pleasing
to them. It is well known that every Jansenist, provided he can say,
with the savages in Candide, “Let us have a slice of the Jesuit,”
will be at the summit of his happiness and joy: but it remains to know
what profit reason (which is full as good as Jansenism) will derive
at last from a proscription so greatly desired. I say _reason_, and
not _irreligion_: this is a precaution necessary to be taken; for
the theology of the Jansenists is, as we have seen, so reasonable,
that they are apt to consider the words _reason_ and _irreligion_ as
synonimous. It is certain that the annihilation of the society may
be productive of great advantages to reason, provided the intolerant
spirit of Jansenism succeed not in credit to Jesuitical intolerance;
for we are not afraid to say that, between these two sects, both which
are wicked and pernicious, if we were obliged to choose, and supposing
them to be invested with the same degree of power, the society, which
has just been expelled, would be still the least tyrannical. The
Jesuits, a complaisant set of people, provided we declare ourselves
not their enemies, give sufficient permission to think as we please.
The Jansenists, devoid of consideration as well as abilities, will
have us think just as they do: if they were masters, they would
exercise over our writings, over our understandings, over our
discourses, the most violent inquisition. Happily it is not much to be
feared, that they will ever acquire much credit: the rigor which they
profess will not make its way at court, where folks are very desirous
of being Christians, but on condition that it cost them little; and
their doctrine of Predestination and Grace is too harsh and too
absurd not to shock their minds. Let foreigners reproach France as
much as they will (it is of small importance) on the little concern
she seems to take in her national theatre, so esteemed throughout
all Europe, and on the distinguished favour which she bestows on her
musick, though despised by all nations: those foreigners, envious of
us and our enemies, will not surely ever have the melancholy advantage
of reproaching our government with a more material fault, that of
taking, for the object of its protection, men without talents, without
understanding, unknowing and unknown; after having heretofore carried,
on a violent persecution against the illustrious and respectable
fathers of so pitiful a posterity. Furthermore, the nation, which
begins now to be enlightened, will probably grow enlightened more and
more. Disputes concerning religion will be despised, and fanaticism
will be held in horror. The magistrates, who proscribed the fanaticism
of the Jesuits, are men of too much understanding, too good subjects,
too much fitted for the age they live in, to suffer another fanaticism
to succeed it: even already some of them (among others Mr. de la
Chalotais) have explained themselves so openly as to displease the
Jansenists, and to merit the honour of being placed by them in the
rank of philosophers. That sect seems to say like God, whose language
it so often and so abusively makes use of, “He that is not for me is
against me:” but it will not thereby make the more proselytes. The
Jesuits were regular troops, bred and disciplined under the standard
of superstition: they were the Macedonian phalanx, which it imported
reason to see broken and destroyed. The Jansenists are only Cossacks
and Pandours, of whom reason will have a cheap conquest, seeing they
will fight singly and dispersed. In vain will they cry out as usual,
that it is sufficient to shew an attachment to religion, to be reviled
by _modern philosophers_. It will be replied to them, that Paschal,
Nicole, Bossuet, and the writers of the Port-Royal, were attached to
religion; and that there is not one _modern philosopher_ (at least,
one worthy of that name) who does not revere and honour them. In vain
will they imagine, that because they succeeded to the Jansenism of
Port-Royal, they are to succeed also to the respect which it enjoyed:
it is as if the valets de chambre of a great lord should want to make
themselves be styled his heirs, because they inherited a few of his
cast clothes. Jansenism, in the Port-Royal, was a blemish which it
effaced by great merit: in its pretended successors it is their sole
existence; and what, in the age wherein we live, is an existence so
poor and ridiculous?

Accordingly it need not be doubted but the destruction of their
enemies will soon bring on theirs, not with violence, but by slow
degrees, by insensible transpiration, and through a necessary
consequence of the contempt with which that sect inspires all
sensible people. The Jesuits, driven out by them, and dragging them
along with themselves in their fall, may put up, from this instant, to
their founder St. Ignatius, the following prayer for their enemies,
“Father, pardon them, for they know not what they do.”

To speak seriously, and without circumlocution, it is time that
the laws should lend reason their aid for the annihilation of that
party-spirit, which has so long disturbed the kingdom with ridiculous
controversies; controversies, we are not afraid to assert it, more
fatal to the state than infidelity itself, when it seeks not to make
proselytes. A great prince, it is said, reproached one of his officers
with being a Jansenist or Molinist, I know not which: they told him
he was mistaken, for that the officer was an Atheist: “If he be only
an Atheist,” replied the prince, “that is another affair, and I have
nothing to say to it.” This answer, which some have wanted to turn
into ridicule, was however extremely wise: the prince, as head of
the state, has nothing to fear from an Atheist, who is silent, and
dogmatizes not. Such a wretch, while extremely culpable in the eyes of
God and of reason, is hurtful only to himself, and not to others: the
party-man, the disputant, disturbs society by his idle controversies.
In this case that law of Solon prevails not, by which all who took
not some side in the troubles of the state were declared infamous.
That great legislator was too knowing to rank in this number the
controversies concerning religion, so ill calculated to interest
good subjects; he would rather have made it an honour to shun and to
despise them.

Our gloomy theological quarrels confine not to the limits of the
kingdom the injury and hurt they do us: they debase, in the eyes of
Europe, our nation, already too much humiliated by her misfortunes:
they make strangers, and even the Italians, say, “that the French
know not how to be warm, excepting for billets of confession, or for
buffoons, for the bull Unigenitus, or for the comick opera[20].” Such
is the very unjust idea which a handfull of fanaticks give to all
Europe of the French nation, at a time nevertheless when the truely
estimable part of that nation are more enlightened than ever, more
taken up about useful objects, and fuller of contempt for the follies
and the men that disgrace it.

It is not only the honour of France which is interested in the
annihilation of these vain disputes; the honour of religion is still
more concerned in it, on account of the obstacles which they oppose
to the conversion of unbelievers. I will suppose that one of those
men, who have had the misfortune, in our times, to attack religion
in their writings, and against whom the Jesuits and the Jansenists
have equally exerted themselves, should address at the same time the
two most intrepid theologists of each party, and speak to them thus:
“You are right, gentlemen, to cry out shame against me, and it is my
intention to repair it. Dictate to me then in concert a confession
of faith proper for the purpose, and which may reconcile me first
with God, and afterwards with every one of you.” On the very first
article of the creed, “I believe in God the Father Almighty,” he would
infallibly set by the ears the two Catechists, by asking them if God
is equally powerful over the heart and over the body? “Without doubt,”
the Jansenist would aver: “Not quite so,” the Jesuit would mutter.
“You are a blasphemer,” the former would cry; “And you,” would reply
the second, “a destroyer of the freedom and the merit of good works.”
Both addressing themselves afterward to their proselyte, would say to
him, “Ah, Sir, infidelity is still better than the abominable doctrine
of my adversary: beware of confiding your soul to such bad hands. If
the blind,” says the Gospel, “lead the blind, they will both fall
into the ditch.” It must be owned, that the blind infidel would find
himself a little embarrassed between two men, who offer each to serve
him as guide, and yet mutually charge each other with being blinder
than him. “Gentlemen,” would he say to them, without doubt, “I thank
you both for your charitable offers: God has given me, to conduct me
in the dark, a staff, which is reason, and which you say will lead me
to the faith: well, I will make use of this salutary staff, and I
will draw from it more utility than from you two.”

Nothing more remains then to government and the magistrates, for
the honour of religion and the state, than to repress, and render
alike contemptible, both parties. We say it with so much the more
confidence, as nobody calls in doubt the impartiality of the wise
depositaries of justice, and the hearty contempt which they have for
these absurd contests, the dangerous effects of which their office
has required them to prevent. With what satisfaction will wise and
enlightened subjects see them complete their work? Ought not the
Jansenist Gazetteer and the Convulsionaries[21] to expect from
them, on the first occasion, the same treatment as the Jesuits; with
this difference, however, which we are to put (in point of honour)
between the punishment of a revolted noblesse, and that of a turbulent
populace? The Jesuits uttered their dangerous maxims in open day:
the Convulsionaries and the Jansenist Gazetteer preach and print
their extravagancies in the dark. The obscurity alone with which
these wretches envelope themselves, can shield them from the fate
which they merit: perhaps also there needs to destroy them only to
drag them out of that obscurity, only to order the Convulsionaries
(under pain of whipping) to exhibit their disgusting farces, not in
a garret, but in a fair, for money, among dancers on the rope, and
players with cups and balls, who will soon bring them down: and as to
the Jansenist Gazetteer (under pain of being led through the streets
upon an ass) of printing his dull libel not in his garret, but at
an authorised bookseller’s, at the publisher’s, for example, of the
_Christian Journal_, so widely circulated, and so deserving of being
so. Convulsionaries and gazetteers will vanish, the moment in which
they shall have lost the little merit which remains to them, that of
_clandestineness_. In a very short time the name of the Jansenists
will be forgotten, as that of their adversaries is proscribed; the
destruction of the one, and the disappearance of the others, will
leave no longer any trace to recollect them by: this event, like those
which have preceded it, will be effaced and buried by those which
shall follow; and nothing at most will remain of it but that French
witticism, that the chief of the Jesuits is a broken captain, who has
lost his company.

To conclude, we shall observe that the title of _Society of Jesus_ is
still one of the reproaches which the Jansenists cast on the Jesuits,
as a too proud denomination; by which they seemed to attribute to
themselves alone the quality of Christians: this is a pretty slight
subject of quarrel, and proves only what we have already said, that
hatred has formed weapons of every thing to attack them. The true
crime of the society, we cannot repeat it too often, is not the being
called the _Company of Jesus_, but the having been really a company
of intriguers and fanaticks; the having endeavoured to oppress every
thing which gave it umbrage; the having wanted to domineer in every
thing; the having intermeddled in all affairs and all factions; the
having sought, in a word, rather to render themselves necessary than

The spirit of giddiness, which has occasioned the misfortune of the
Jesuits in France, seems to announce to them a like fate in the rest
of Europe. They have long been cried down in the territories of
the king of Sardinia, and the republick of Venice; and the little
existence they yet preserve there, may very possibly be shaken anew
by the shocks which they have just felt elsewhere: their conduct in
Silesia, during the last war, has not disposed favourably towards them
a prince, in other respects an enemy to superstition and the monkish
race: the house of Austria, which has so long protected them, begins
to be tired of them, and to find out what they are; and they have
all room to fear, lest the bomb, which has burst in Portugal and in
France, should dart some of its splinters against them into all parts
of Europe.

       *       *       *       *       *

We shall close this treatise with the queries, of which mention
has been made above, respecting the oath which was required of the
Jesuits: they are proposed in such a manner, that there seems to be
no doubt, either as to the answer to be made to each, or consequently
as to the part which these fathers should have taken. It appears,
in the writings published on this subject by the Jansenists and the
Jesuits, as if they had made it their business to deviate from the
true point of view of the question. Instead of the idle declamations
which have been printed on both sides, the author seems to have meant
to substitute a little logick: this is the secret for abridging
a number of controversies, which the rhetorick of lawyers and of
mandates would perpetuate to eternity.



Are not the king, or the magistrates who represent him, competent
judges for deciding, whether a religious institution be conformable or
contrary to the laws of the kingdom?


Is it necessary that the spiritual power concur with the temporal, for
this decision, which is purely civil?


Did not the king’s subjects, who submitted themselves to this
institution, submit thereto, on the supposition, nay, in the
persuasion, that the king and the state approved thereof?


If the king, or the magistrates who represent him, having at first
permitted or tolerated the institution, come afterwards to be of
opinion, that it is contrary to the laws of the kingdom, would the
king’s subjects, who had subjected themselves to this institution,
and who took the resolution of renouncing it, wound thereby their


Does the renunciation of the institution import a renunciation of
the vow of _chastity_ and that of _poverty_, which they had taken,
and which neither the king nor the magistrates can hinder them from


Is it making an attempt upon the rights of the spiritual power, to
declare that their vow of obedience, (considered only in a civil
light) is inconsistent with the obedience which they have vowed
from their birth to their lawful sovereign; an obedience, by virtue
of which they live in the territories of that sovereign, under the
protection of the laws?


If the vow which they have made as subjects, be declared contrary to
that which they have made as monks, is not this second vow null of
itself, being destroyed by a vow more ancient and more sacred?


If they think themselves, notwithstanding this consideration, engaged
by their vow of _obedience_; if they prefer a religious state to that
of subjects; can, nay indeed ought not the prince, or the magistrates
who represent him, to declare, that they have forfeited the rights of
subjects, and oblige them to quit a state of which they refuse to be


Have not the professed monks, who shall renounce the institution,
and who are bound besides, by their vow of _poverty_, and by the
renunciation of their effects, a right to require the state to charge
itself with their subsistence?


Would professed monks, who on refusing to renounce their vow
of _obedience_, should receive either from the court, or their
friends[23], notwithstanding their vow of _poverty_, pensions much
greater than is necessary for their subsistence, prove by this
conduct, that they were much less attached to _their vow_ than to
their General; that they refused much more through pride than through
religion, to renounce the society; that they were, in a word, more
Jesuits than Christians?


Ought not those professed monks, who shall renounce the institution,
at the same time, in order to put out of dispute their religion and
their honour, to declare the motives of attachment to their sovereign
and their country, which oblige them to that renunciation, and to
demand a juridical act of that declaration?


Is it necessary to require of the _non-professed_ monks, any thing
more than a mere juridical declaration, that they have made no vows;
and a promise of not making any?


And with regard to those who voluntarily renounced the institution,
before the arrêt, which requires the oath, is it necessary to require
of them any thing else than a simple juridical declaration that they
have renounced it?


Will not the Jesuits equally embarrass the Jansenists their enemies,
whether they take the oath which is required, or whether they take it
not? If they take it, they deprive their inveterate enemies of the
hope and the pleasure of seeing them banished; if they refuse to take
it, they refute, without reply, the imputation which has been so often
cast upon them, of sporting with religion and with oaths? In the first
case they disconcert hatred; in the second they confound calumny.
Which side ought they to take? That of disconcerting hatred, and of
confounding calumny both at once, in joining to the oath, which is
required of them, the declaration, the substance of which is contained
in the XIth Query, and of which we shall give below the formula.


What scourge have been the disputes concerning religion, and in
particular the absurd and miserable contest of Jansenism, which for
upwards of a hundred years has made so many persons unhappy in one
of these two parties, and which now is likely to make as many in the


What a happiness, for nations and for kings, is the banner of
philosophy, which by inspiring for those frivolous disputes the
contempt which they merit, is the only means of preventing their
becoming dangerous?


Who is the author of these reflexions? A Frenchman, attached solely
to his country, who interests himself neither for _versatile grace_,
nor _victorious delectation_; who is neither of any sect, nor of
any order, neither of the congregation of _messieurs_, nor of the
troop of St. Médard; who has neither received money from the General
of the Jesuits, nor been whipped with rods in the garrets of the
Convulsionaries; who wishes that men would live in peace, and that so
much hatred, excited by whims, so many _profound_ acts of knavery,
occasioned by _senseless_ disputes, so many evils, in short, brought
about by so many follies, should teach them at last to be wise.

So be it.

_A form of declaration for the professed monks._

I The undersigning, a professed monk of the late Society called of
Jesus, declare, that when I subjected myself to the institution
and government of that society, I supposed, as an indispensable
condition of that engagement, that it had the approbation of the
king my lawful sovereign; his majesty having declared since, in an
unequivocal manner, by the mouth of the magistrates, depositaries of
his authority, the incompatibility of my vow of obedience, with that
more ancient and sacred vow which I have made to my king and to my
country, and finding myself obliged to choose the one or the other
of these vows, which I can no longer observe together, I think myself
bound, in honour and in conscience, to hold by that which I made as a
Frenchman and subject of his majesty: it is through this sole motive
that I renounce living, henceforward, under the authority of the
institution, and the government of the said society; not intending,
however, to renounce the vow of poverty, and that of chastity, which
I have made, and the observance of which no motive can forbid me;
promising anew to God and to the church, as far as is necessary, to
preserve the virtue of perfect continence, and to receive from those,
who shall think proper to provide me with subsistence, only just what
is absolutely necessary to that very subsistence, pursuant to the
precept of St. Paul. In confirmation whereof I have signed the present
declaration, of which I demand the enrollment, in order to discharge,
at once, without any view either of interest or human respect, what I
owe to God and my king.

_Done at Paris this....._

_A form of declaration for the non-professed Jesuits._

I The undersigning ... declare, that not being bound yet by the vows
of profession to the late Society called of Jesus, and the king my
sovereign having forbidden all his subjects, by the mouth of the
magistrates, depositaries of his authority, to bind themselves to
that institution, I promise and swear, as a good and faithful subject
of his majesty, not to engage myself in the said Society, by any vow
whatever. In confirmation, &c.

_A form of declaration for the ex-Jesuits._

I The undersigning declare, that in the month of ... and year of
... before the arrêt of the court of ... which requires of the late
Jesuits the renunciation of that institution, I made voluntarily that
renunciation, of which the pieces hereunto annexed are vouchers.

 _F I N I S_


[1] See the Jesuit writers of the life of St. Ignatius.

[2] Father Boyer the Theatin, afterwards Bishop of Mirepoix, and since
preceptor to the children of France.

[3] We speak here in general; for it is agreed that there have been,
and are still, in the other orders, some men of merit.

[4] We know from a very respectable and very sure hand, that this
father of the church was some months since at Petersbourg, where he
wrote, for bread, panegyricks on a great princess, who pays to his
eulogies the same regard as to his writings. Nothing more was wanting
to the disgrace of those who set him to work, but to leave him, as
they do, in want, and obliged to go to beg abjectly, at six hundred
leagues, his subsistence.

[5] M. de Voltaire, in his excellent catalogue of the writers of the
age of Louis XIV.

[6] They were very far from this in 16.... when they forbid all the
subjects of the congregation from teaching Jansenism and Cartesianism.

[7] See Bayle’s dictionary under the word Petau. See also the
Longueruana, Part I. p. 86.

[8] The safety of the people is the supreme law.

[9] The reader, perhaps, will not be displeased to see what a
philosopher of much wit, and full of contempt besides for all
theological quarrels, thought of this charming doctrine. “Can it be
possible to give to the word _freedom_ a meaning so forced as that
which the Jansenists give it? We are now, according to them, like a
ball on a billiard-table, indifferent whether it move to the right or
to the left; but at the very time that it moves to the right, it is
maintained to be still indifferent as to its moving to that side; for
this reason, that it might have been driven to the left. Such is what
they have the presumption to call in us _freedom_; a freedom purely
passive, which signifies only the different use which the Creator may
make of our wills, and not the use which we can make of them ourselves
without his help. What fantastic and fallacious language!” _Lettre de
Mr. de la Motte, à Mr. de Fenelon._

[10] Lib. vii. Fabl. 16.

[11] Mr. de la Chalotais, in his _Essay on Education_, presented to
the parliament of Bretagne.

[12] The late cardinal de Tencin.

[13] _Le Dépit amoureux_, Act first, Scene last.

[14] It is said that the Jesuits, out of respect to the Queen and
Dauphin, refused to undertake the spiritual guidance of La Pompadour.
_Appendix_ to the XXXII. Vol. of the _Monthly Review_. p. 499.

[15] _Fontaine_, Lib. VII. Fable iii.

[16] Æneid I.

[17] Mélanges de littérature, d’histoire & de philosophie, par M.
D.... Tom. IV. p. 364.

[18] _And thou too, my dear Brutus!_ It is assured that this satyrist
gave to the word _Brutus_ a more malicious interpretation than we
pretend to approve of.

[19] The reader knows that _hegira_ signifies _flight_, or _expulsion_.

[20] This is what a thousand French have heard said in England, in
Germany, and even at Rome.

[21] It is assured, that the day after the expulsion of the Jesuits,
the Convulsionaries began to foretell it. It is thus that they have
always prophesied; and what is very surprising, they have never been

[22] These queries appear to have been written in the interval between
the arrêt, which ordains the Jesuits to take the oath, and the arrêt
which banished them. It was thought they might be useful, if any
unforeseen circumstance should seem one day to require the Jesuits to
be forced to renounce expressly the institution.

[23] As the Jesuits of Versailles, and some others of the principal
have done.

  │ Transcriber's Note:                                               │
  │                                                                   │
  │ Minor typographical errors have been corrected without note.      │
  │   Others are noted below.                                         │
  │                                                                   │
  │ Ambiguous hyphens at the ends of lines were retained.             │
  │                                                                   │
  │ Italicized words are surrounded by underline characters, _like    │
  │   this_.                                                          │
  │                                                                   │
  │ Errors corrected:                                                 │
  │ Page 18: “usefull” changed to “useful.”  (… useful and respectable│
  │   in Paraguai….)                                                  │
  │ p. 25: “he” → “be.” (… his heart should be carried after his      │
  │   death;)                                                         │
  │ p. 27: “Richlieu” → “Richelieu.” (Henry IV. or rather cardinal    │
  │   Richelieu….)                                                    │
  │ p. 78: “repuputation” → “reputation” ( … the greatest merit and   │
  │   reputation.)                                                    │
  │ p. 86: “co-temporaries” → “contemporaries (… admired by his       │
  │   contemporaries.)                                                │
  │ p. 110: “expresly” → “expressly.” (… without having been          │
  │   condemned expressly.)                                           │
  │ p. 110: “partiticular” → “particular.” (… one proposition of      │
  │   father Quesnel’s in particular.)                                │
  │ p. 126: “ n” → “in.” (… whose crime in their eyes….)              │
  │ p. 156: “expresly” → “expressly.” (… whom he points out           │
  │   expressly….)                                                    │
  │ p.  160” “powerfull” → “powerful.” (… a society, lately so        │
  │   powerful….)                                                     │
  │ p. 201: “pitifull” → “pitiful.” (… fathers of so pitiful a        │
  │   posterity.)                                                     │
  │ p. 204: “stiled” → “styled.”  (… make themselves be styled his    │
  │   heirs….)                                                        │
  │                                                                   │
  │ Variants unchanged:                                               │
  │ New comers (p. 18) and new-comers (p. 145).                       │
  │ Dogmatises (p. 55) and dogmatizes (p. 206).                       │
  │ Expense (p. 72) and expence (p. 124).                             │
  │ Arch-bishop (pp. 117, 125, 167) and archbishop (pp. 115, 116,     │
  │   181).                                                           │

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "An Account of the Destruction of the Jesuits in France" ***

Copyright 2023 LibraryBlog. All rights reserved.