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prehend why one brain has incoherent ideas, or why the ideas of another arife in regular fucceffion. They think themfelves fages, and yet in this circumftance they rank with the fool.
Had the fool a brighter moment, poor mortals, might he fay, who neither know the cause of my misfortune nor the cure, tremble left you should be reduced to the fame fate with me, or even to a worfe condition than mine. You are certainly of no better extraction than Charles VI. king of France, Henry the Sixth of England, or than the emperor Venceslaus, who, in the fame century, loft the faculty of reafon. You have not more wit, very likely, than Blaise Pafcal, James Abadie, or Jonathan Swift, who all died idiots. The laft, however, founded a hospital for us. Would you have me go and retain a place for you?
ST. FRANCIS XAVERIUS. It is aftonishing that such a writer as Bouhours, a man of acknowledged tafte and genius, fhould, though a Jefuit, fo far depart from the dignity of manly fenfe and veracity, as to write the lying history of the life of this faint. It is ftill more aftonishing, that in the enlightened age of Lewis XIV. the age of a Bayle and a Racine, fuch trumpery fhould meet with public approbation and be read with applaufe. The faint, according to the good Jefuit, did many miracles. He raised eight children from the dead. He let his crucifix fall into the fea, near the island of Baranivia, and a crab brought it to him in its claws within the space of twenty-four hours. In a ftorm at fea he was prefent in two veffels a hundred and fifty leagues diftant from each other, at the fame time, in one of which he officiated as pilot; and this was attefted by all the paffengers, who could neither be impofed on themselves, nor have tive for impofing on others.'
We wonder that Mr. Voltaire, after mentioning thefe marvellous things, fhould not have exclaimed with honeft Sigelius, Reverende pater, femper ita mentire et non dubitabo.
GEOGRAPHY. It is with geographical, as with moral knowledge; it is a difficult matter to become acquainted with the world without going into it.
The most popular book of geography in Europe is that of Hubner. It is in the hands of all young people from Mofcow to the fource of the Rhine: and all the youth of Germany derive their information from it.
In this book you find that Jupiter became enamoured of Europa, precisely 1300 years before the Christian era.
In this too you are told, that there is no fuch thing as either exceffive heat or cold in Europe. Yet there have been certain fummers, when perfons have actually died through exceffive heat; and: in the north of Sweden and of Ruflia, the cold is frequently fo intenfe that the thermometer finks to the lowest pitch.
• Hubner reckons about 30 millions of inhabitants in Europe; by which he makes a miftake only of about 70 millions. He fays, that, except in Ruffia, there is not above a league of uninhabited ground in Europe; whereas I have now before my eyes 40 leagues of mountains, covered with eternal fnow, over which neither man nor bird ever past.'
If thefe reprefentations be true, the state of geographical know ledge in the north of Europe must be miferable indeed. It is not, however, to be wondered at. The labour and expence of attaining to accuracy in this fcience are too great for private enterprize. Actual furveys of the feveral parts of the world, authentic defcriptions and just admeasurements, can only be effected under the patronage of princes. This has been done in China, which was furveyed by the Jefuits at the expence of the emperor Cam-hi. Through all the reft of Afia, Africa, and a great part of Europe, modern geographers have followed and retailed the errors of antiquity.
One of the greatest advantages of geography, fays Voltaire, is, in my opinion, this. Your neighbouring goffips are continually reproaching you for not thinking as they think in St. James's ftreet. Confider, fay they, what multitudes of refpectable people have been of our opinion, from Peter Lombard, to the Abbé Petit-Pied. The whole univerfe has embraced the truths that we profefs. They prevail quite through the fuburb of St. Honorius, at Chaillot, and the Lord knows where.-Now is your time to take your map of the world. Shew them all Africa, the empires of China and Japan, the Indies, Turkey and Perfia, and the Ruffian empire, larger than the Roman. Let them run with the end of their finger over all Scandinavia, the whole north of Germany, the three kingdoms of Great Britain, the best part of the Low-Countries and of Switzerland; then make them obferve in the four quarters of the globe, and that other part, immense as it is unknown, what millions of human beings there must be, who never fo much as heard of their opinions, and what prodigious numbers having heard of them, have held them in contempt or deteftation. What! my good friends, would you fay, is St. James's ftreet to be pitted against the whole universe?
Julius Cæfar, you would tell them, who carried his empire far beyond this ftreet, did not know one fyllable of what they apprehend to be univerfal; and that their ancestors, to whom the fame Julius Cæfar gave his ftirrap-leathers, knew no more of it than he.'
Very true! but the last manœuvre would be unfair. It would be taking an ungentleman-like advantage of the poor Jacobin's ignorance of chronology.
GLORY. We are fuch fools that we have represented the Supreme Being as though he were as fond of glory as ourselves,
Ben-Al-Betif, the worthy prefident of the Dervises, one day addreffed them to the following purpofe,-You do very well, my brethren, to ufe frequently that holy formulary of our koran, In the name of the merciful God!' for God exercifeth mercy, and you learn to practise it by repeating in common the words that recommend a virtue, on which the very existence of mankind depends. But, my brethren, beware of imitating the prefumptuous fpirit of thofe, who exprefly boast of doing things to the glory of God. If a young foph maintains a thefis, at which a fool in fur prefides, he fails not to write at the head of it, ad majorem Dei gloriam. A good muffulman, if he has washed his hall, abfurdly writes on his door, for the honour and glory of God. This, however piously intended, is, in fact, im
pious. What would you think of a fcullion, if on emptying the Sultan's close-ftool, he should say, for the bonour and glory of our invincible Monarch? The distance between the Sultan and the fcullion, certainly bears no proportion to the distance between the Supreme Being and the Sultan.
Wretched reptiles of the earth, what have you to do with the glory of an infinite Being? Can he poffibly be fond of glory? Can he receive glory from you? Can he enjoy it? How long, ye animals of two feet, without feathers, will ye reprefent God after your own image? What, because you are vain, because you love glory, muft you conclude the eternal Being loves it likewife? If there were many gods, each, poffibly, might be defirous of the applaufe of his fellows. There, and there only, could exift the glory of a God. Were we allowed to compare infinite greatnefs with the meannefs of a human being, we fhould fuppofe that God would act upon the principles of Alexander, who would not enter the lifts with any but kings. But, you, poor creatures, what glory can you communicate to God? Ceafe to prophane his facred name. An Emperor, ramed Octavius Auguftus, forbad any encomiums to be spoken of him in the public fchools, that his name might not be made cheap. But you can neither extenuate nor add to the glory of the Supreme Being. Reflect on your own nothingness; be filent, and adore.
So fpake Ben-Al Betif, and the Dervises cried, glory be to God! Ben-Al-Betif has spoken well.'
We leave thefe obfervations (which breathe the true fpirit of their Author) to the reflection of our difcerning Readers.
TASTE. The trueft tafte, in every thing, is to imitate nature, with fidelity, force, and grace.
But is not grace merely arbitrary? Not fo, because it confifts in giving an agreeable animation to the object you reprefent.
As an artift forms his tafte by little and little, fo it is with the tafte of a nation. It lies brooding in the dark for many ages, at length a faint dawn begins to fhew itself; then appears the full day, after which nothing is before us but a long twilight.'
In one obfervation in this article, Mr. Voltaire feems to have erred. Theocritus and Virgil, he fays, had a right to fpeak with pleasure of fhades and cool waters in their eclogues. Thomfon, in his Seafons, fhould not have admitted the idea of them: at least, he fays, that his defcriptions ought to have been of a quite contrary kind.
Now were Mr. Voltaire in England during any part of that hot weather which we frequently have in our fummer months, we will venture to fay, that he would read with as much pleasure as we have many a time read the following delicious lines :
Thrice happy he! who on the sunless fide
Nor with lefs pleasure these animated verses:
Welcome, ye fhades! ye bowery thickets hail!
We are not fo cold in climate or in genius, as to have no affection either for fhade or water, nor any relish for the description of those objects,
Nec tam averfus Equos Tyria Sol jungit ab urbe.
When Mr. Voltaire affects to place Corneille above our divine Shakespeare, we feel no indignation at fuch a prepofterous preference; we do not even charge the critic with a total want of tafte and judgment, in the works of genius. We know the innocent vanity which attends the amor patria, and forgive him while (if we may apply the following line in an idea different from what was originally intended).
He holds his farthing candle to the fun.' GOVERNMENT. A view of the English government. It is ca rious to obferve the progrefs by which governments are established. I fhall not here fpeak of Tamerlane, because I know not precifely the mystery of government in the Mogul's dominions; but we may fee it more clearly in the administration of England. Beside, I thall find a greater pleasure in examining the latter, than I fhould in the former adminiftration; because in England you have men, in India chiefly flaves.
And first, for the Norman baftard, who took it into his head to make himself king of England. No doubt he had as much right to it as St, Lewis had afterwards to grand Cairo, but St. Lewis anluckily neglected to get a title to grand Cairo made out in the court of Rome; whereas William took care to have his claim made lawful and even facred, by obtaining from Pope Alexander II. an arret confirming his divine right, without fo much as hearing the defence of the adverfary, and by the fole virtue of thefe words, whatsoever show fhalt bind on earth, the fame shall be bound in heaven. His competitor Harold, the legal monarch, being thus bound by an arret iffued from heaven, William ftrengthened his caufe by a more powerful argument, which was the battle of Haftings. Thus he reigned by virtue of the fame power which had established Pepin and Clovis in France, the Goths and the Lombards in Italy, the Vifigoths, and after them the Arabs in Spain, the Vandals in Africa, and, in fhort, all the monarchs in the world, in their turns.
It must be owned that William had as much right as the Saxons or the Danes, who had likewife as much right as the Romans before them. And the title of thefe heroes was equal at least to that of highwaymen, or, if you pleafe, to that of polecats, in a poultryyard.
All these great men, were fuch arrant robbers on the highway, that, from Romulus to the Buccaneers, the Spolia opima were the
principal object. Plunder and pillage, beef and mutton were the game. So that the names of foldier and robber were frequently fynonimous.
This William, then, is established a king by divine right, and William Rufus, who ufurped the crown against the right of his eldelt brother, is a king likewife, by the fame divine right, and Henry the third, ufurper after him, might equally plead the fame.
The Norman barons, who, at their own expence, had concurred in the invafion of England, wanted a recompence. It was neceffary that they should have it, and that they fhould be conftituted the first officers of the crown. The fineft demefnes were given up to them. It is clear that William would much rather have kept the lands himfelf, and have made body-guards of his Norman lords; but it would have been rifquing too much. He was obliged to share them*.
As to the Anglo-Saxon lords, they could not kill them all, nor yet reduce all of them to a state of flavery. They left them the dignity of manorial lords. And thus things were held in an equal balance till the first quarrel.
But what became of the reft of the nation? Nothing more than what has happened to all the people in Europe, a state of vaffalage.
In short, after the folly of the Crufades, the ruined princes fold their liberties to the peasants, who had acquired a little money by labour and commerce, towns were enfranchifed, the commons had their privileges, and the rights of mankind fprung from anarchy ittelf.
The Barons, throughout, were at variance both with their prince and with each other. Every thing wore the afpect of a civil war. Yet from this difmal chaos arofe a ray of light, which, however feeble, served as a guide to the people, and made their circumstances fomething lefs deplorable.
The kings of England having dominions in France, it is no wonder if many establishments in the ftate refembled the French.
The English court of chancery was in imitation of the council of ftate, over which the chancellor of France prefided.
The court of king's-bench was erected on the model of the parliament inftituted by Philip the fair.
The common-pleas were the fame with the jurifdiction of the chatelet.
The court of exchequer refembled that of the generals of the finances, which, in France, is become the court of aids.
The maxim that crown-lands are unalienable was evidently in imitation of the French government.
The right of the king of England to have his ranfom paid by his fubjects, in cafe of his being made a prifoner of war; his right
And fome of them were not contented with their fhares, which naturally occafioned many future jealoufies and divifions. The name of a village in Somerfetthire, remains a curious monument of this difcontent. It is called Norton-mal-Reward.