« AnteriorContinuar »
“ l'auraient plongé dans le feu éternel de l'enfer si la sainte “ Vierge, à qu'il avait dédié un monastère, n'avait fléchi la “ colère divine. Il est permis de douter de la vision; mais, “ dit Fleury, ce récit prouve que les personnes de la plus " haute vertu étaient persuadées que ce pape avait commis “ d'énormes péchés. Quels sont les trois dont parlait saint “Lutgarde? Il serait extrêmement difficile de les choisir dans “ la vie d'Innocent."
The French critics conclude their review of this historical essay" in the following significative language.
“ 'In his historical observations," say they,“ as well as in “ his narrative, the author displays the greatest caution and “ discretion. Forty years ago, perhaps, when philosophical “books produced, per se, some effect upon a reading public, " this kind of circumspection, otherwise so laudable, might
have savoured of timidity-but it is a judicious maxim that “ of conforming to the spirit of the times. If the great object “be attained, the writer may vary his tone, according to the “conjuncture in which he writes. Delicate eyes can bear only “ a half light.--As for the literary execution of this work, it “is uniformly excellent. The plan is exceedingly good; the
topics are well arranged, and selected with much judgment; " the style throughout is correct, elegant and concise. This
essay when improved by the hand of the author, must assert " and maintain, a very distinguished rank among our best “ histories. “Works written in this spirit cooperate with the views of a
government no less enlightened, than it is successful and “ firm. The hopes of the enemies of reason are now at an “ end. It is in vain that periodical and other writers preach
up to us, the prejudices of the thirteenth century. They are
hypocrites who flatter the passions of a certain party, with a “ view to serve their private interests. Religious intolerance “is no more. The lustre of the Roman purple has faded "away. If the triple tiara should one day lift itself up, at least
no crowned head will ever, hereafter, be seen bent before it. “ Monachism is nearly abolished. All the institutions of the "middle ages are falling one after another: notwithstanding
some casual obstacles the human mind is advancing in its “course: we may add that its progress is accelerated, as it is " aided and seconded by force. Those plans which the genius of " letters dared only to suggest in the age of philosophy, are “ now adopted, executed and extended by the genius of victory."
The meaning of the phrases which we have here quoted, and which were undoubtedly written under the auspices of the French government, is too obvious to be mistaken. Nothing can be more virulent than the attack, which the author, who is here extolled for his circumspection, has made upon all the most sacred institutions, and the favourite tenets of the catholic religion. He shows them no mercy whatever. The reviewers must then understand by the discretion which they commend in him,-his having abstained from abusing christianity in general. His exposition of the supposed deformity of the catholic religion is the “half-light," which he is said to have let in upon his readers. What then would be the full illumination, but a powerful invective against christianity in general? The reviewers have, indeed, explained themselves in this sense, when they speak of “the plans which the genius of " letters dared to suggest in the age of philosophy.” It is notorious to the whole world, that these plans aimed at the subversion of all christian altars. The organs of the French ruler, disclose a secret of no small importance, when they tell us, so formally and authoritatively, that the plans of the age of philosophy (that is of the age of Voltaire, &c.) are "adopted, “ executed and extended by the genius of victory." By the meditated extension of these plans, we must understand, the substitution of some new creed, for the dogmas of christianity; -otherwise there would be no amplification of the projects of the age of philosophy, which went very fully to the extinction of christianity, but did not provide for the establishment of another faith. The sword then is to accelerate the progress
of the human mind, not only to the rejection of its present belief, but to the adoption of some other creed. The sword in the hand of Mahomet was once successful, in achieving a similar purpose, and it is imagined, that its agency may be equally efficacious in this instance.*
We have, for some time past, entertained a suspicion, that Bonaparte meditates some extraordinary changes, in the religion of the European Continent. He has, in his replies to some of the addresses made to him on the occasion of his marriage, openly declared himself against the papal power, and even indulged in severe invectives against the Catholic religion in general.
There is a striking coincidence between the doctrine of the French reviewers and that of the prophet of Mecca.
“ The sword,” says Mahomet, " is the key of heaven and of hell: a drop “ of blood shed in the cause of God, a night spent in arms, is of more avail “ than two months of fisting or prayer: whosoever falls in battle his sins are “ forgiven: at the day of judgment his wounds shall be resplendent as “ vermillion and odoriferous as musk; and the loss of his limbs shall be sup• plied by the wings of angels and cherubim.” See Gibbon ch. L. for a fu! exposition of the martial tenets of the Koran.
The press of Paris teems with publications levelled against the papal power, the celibacy of the priests, the intolerance of the religious spirit* &c. We observe that numerous dissertations have been warmly commended, and industriously circulated throughout the empire, the object of which is, to show the beneficial influence, that the enterprise of Mahomet might have had upon the world, if accidental obstacles had not counteracted its natural tendency. The following was the prize question of the Institute for the year 1809—“To examine what was, during " the three first ages of the Hegira, the influence of Mahome“ tanism over the intellect, the manners and the government “ of the nations, among whom it was established.” To institute comparisons unfavourable to the christian system, appears to have been the purport of nearly all the essays, to which this question gave birth. We know not whether it be the intention of Bonaparte to propagate the Koran by the sword, but we shrewdly suspect, that he is somewhat inclined to follow the example of Mahomet;—to have a revelation of his own; and
The portion of freedom left to the clergy of France, and the light in which they are viewed by the Government, may be illustrated, by the following extraordinary provisions, which we translate from the new Penal code of the Empire.
“ Any minister of worship who, in the exercise of his ministry, or in any public Assembly, shall pronounce a discourse containing a criticism or censure on the Government, or on any law or Imperial decree, or any other act of public authority, shall suffer imprisonment for a space of time not less than three months, and not exceeding two years.
“ If the discourse should contain a direct provocation to a disobedience of the laws, or other acts of public authority, or tend to arm one part of the community against the other, the minister of worship pronouncing it, shall be punished by an imprisonment of from two to five years, even should the provocation prove nugatory; but should it be followed by any effect, then the punishment shall be banishment if that effect be but a simple act of disobe. dience; but if it amount to sedition, the minister shall undergo the penalties provided for sedition.
“ Any minister of worship who, in any pastoral instructions couched under any form whatever, shall take upon himself (se sera ingéré) to criticise or censure either the Government or any act of public authority, shall undergo the penalty of banishment, and a still heavier infliction if his writings be of a seditious tendency.
“ Any minister of worship who shall hold a correspondence with a foreign court of power, upon any religious matters or questions, qvithout having first apprised thereof, the minister of the Emperor charged with the superintendence of public worship, and without having first obtained his sanction, shall, for this act alone, be punished by a fine, and by an imprisonment of not more than two years and 1:ot less than two months.
If the above mentioned correspondence be accompanied or followed, by ang other act, contrary to the
formal dispositions of a law, or a decree of the Emperor, the culprit shall undergo the penalty of banishment, &c.”—The two lasi clauses allude particularly to the intercourse between the French clergy and the Pope.
to declare himself, not only the master, but the prophet of the West. The christian doctrine is opposed to the spirit of war and conquest, and may, therefore, be proscribed, to give way to another, more congenial to the temper and views, of a military despotism. Upon the model of the Koran, there may be easily framed, a code of superstition exempt from the political im. perfections of the original, and still more efficaciously calculated to diffuse the martial spirit, to inflame the thirst of conquest, and to produce among the victorious troops of the empire, a devotion to their leaders, of that blind and fanatical character, which contributed so materially to the triumphs of Islamism.
Mémoire sur les Athéniens. We have received the last Annual Report, of the second class of the Institute of France, containing an analysis of the labours of the year. We find nothing in it, which could amuse or instruct our readers, but the following account of a curious memoir, presented by Mr. Levesque, on the manners and usages of the Athenians.
" It is not” says the reporter, Mr. Ginguené, “ merely a
single event of the history of Athens, or any particular “ usage of the Athenians, that Mr. Levesque has undertaken
to. discuss: his memoir embraces whatever relates to their
manners and usages. This subject is too extensive to be “ fully developed in this report. I shall therefore confine
myself to that part which treats of the wealth of the rich “ Athenians; of their manner of living, and of the luxury of " their houses and repasts.”
“ Athens was one of the most opulent and flourishing re“ publics of Greece, and yet poor, when compared with “the Roman republic, or even with the least considerable “ states of modern Europe. The wealthiest of the Athenians “ would be scarcely held to be in easy circumstances, accord“ing to our rates.
“ Athens had some magnificent edifices, but could not have “ been a very fine city. The houses of Miltiades and Themis" tocles did not differ from those of obscure citizens. The “ city contained ten thousand houses, but, in general, of so "little value, that many sold for half a talent (500 dollars] " and some for much less. That of Socrates with all its furni
ture was worth but five mine, less than one hundred dol.
“ lars. The property of a rich citizen, Crisobulus, was worth
one hundred times as much. We know that a house at Eleu“sis, cost but three hundred drachm«, less than one hundred “ dollars. The celebrated and extensive garden of Epicurus, “ which contained a fine nursery of olives, cost eighty minæ, “ about fourteen hundred dollars. In fine, in the time of the “ orator Lysias, a very handsome house could be purchased “ in the city for fifty minæ,-less than one thousand dollars. “ A man was held to possess a competency, when he had an « income of twenty-two minæ,-not quite three hundred 6 dollars.
“Let us now examine what was considered as an exorbitant “ fortune. Conon commanded for a long time the troops of “the republic; he was also, for a long time, an officer of high “ rank in the service of the Persian monarch, and must have
received great rewards, and have reaped considerable pro* fits. It was found, by his will, that his whole estate am vune d
to no more than forty talents;—about forty-three thous.nd “ dollars. Alcibiades inherited a large fortune; was for hive " years at the head of the armies; levied heavier contributions u than any of the generals; and nevertheless, those who cal“culated most largely with regard to his fortune, did not " estimate it at more than one hundred talents."
“ The Athenian proprietaries were fond of residing in the country; they cultivated their own lands, and did not, con
sequently, incur very heavy expenses on their own account. “ Many of them engaged in commercial speculations; they
bought slaves, made them work at different trades, and “ reaped the profits of their labour. Sophocles was, on several “ occasions, one of the generals of the republic. His father is « said to have been a blacksmith; possibly on account of his “having made his slaves work in a forge. The demagogue, “ Cleon, is called a tanner by Aristophanes, because he em
ployed his slaves in a tan-yard. The father of the orator De“ mosthenes employed his in cabinetmaking: he had two shops “ in which fifty-two bought slaves worked, and from the produce 66 of their labour, he derived a net income of forty-two minæ; “ somewhat more than seven hundred dollars. Many of the “ distinguished citizens had flour-mills; others, bake-shops; “ some rendered the domestic labour of their wives and fe“male relations profitable; and it was thus, that with a very “ limited capital, they procured a competent revenue.
“ They enriched themselves particularly by lending their money, and oftentimes by lending that which was not their own.—The ordinary rate of interest was twelve per cent. but VOL. I.