Imatges de pÓgina
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selves, and are daily held up to us as the model of wisdom. The following are a few of them:

“ Not to eat the pelican, nor the ossifrage, nor the griffin, nor the ixion, nor the eel, nor the hare, because the hare ruminates, and has not its foot cloven.”

“ Against men's sleeping with their wives during certain periodical affections, under pain of death to both of the offending parties.”

To exterminate without pity all the unfortunate inhabitants of the land of Canaan, who were not even acquainted with them; to slaughter the whole, to massacre all, men and women, old men, children, and animals, for the greater glory of God.”

“ To sacrifice to the Lord whatever any man shall have devoted as an anathema to the Lord, and to slay it without power

of ransom." To burn widows who, not being able to be married again to their brothers-in-law, had otherwise consoled themselves on the highway or elsewhere,* &c. &c.

A jesuit, who was formerly a missionary among the cannibals, at the time when Canada still belonged to the king of France, related to me that once, as he was explaining these Jewish laws to his neophytes, a little impudent Frenchman, who was present at the catechising, cried out, “ They are the laws of cannibals.” One of the Indians replied to him, “ You are to know, Mr. Flippant, that we are people of some decency and kindness. We never had among us any such laws; and if we had not some kindness and decency, we should treat you as an inhabitant of Canaan, in order to teach you civil language."

It appears upon a comparison of the code of the Chinese with that of the Hebrews, that laws naturally

* This was the case of Tamar, who, having veiled herself, went out and enticed her father-in-law Judah, who did not recognise 'her. She in consequence became pregnant, and was condemned to be burnt. The sentence was so much the more cruel, as, if it had been carried into execution, our Saviour, who descends in a direct line from Judah and Tamar, would never have been born, at least unless all the events of the universe had been arranged in a different manner.

follow the manners of the people who make them. If vultures and doves had laws, they would undoubtedly be of a

very

different character.

SECTION III.

Sheep live in society very mildly and agreeably; their character passes for being a very gentle one, because we do not see the prodigious quantity of animals devoured by them. We may however conceive, that they eat them very innocently and without knowing it, just as we do when we eat Sassenege cheese. The republic of sheep is a faithful image of the age of gold.

A hen-roost exhibits the most perfect representation of monarchy. There is no king comparable to a cock. If he marches haughtily and fiercely in the midst of his people, it is not out of vanity. If the enemy is adyancing, he does not content himself with issuing an order to his subjects to go and be killed for him, in virtue of his unfailing knowledge and resistless power; he goes in person himself, ranges his young troops behind him, and fights to the last gasp. If he conquers, it is himself who sings the “Te Deum.' In his civil or domestic life there is nothing so galant, so respectable, and so disinterested. Whether he has in his royal beak a grain of corn or a grub-worm, he bestows it on the first of his female subjects that comes within his presence.

In short Solomon in his harem was not to be compared to a cock in a farm-yard.

If it be true that bees are governed by a queen to whom all her subjects make love, that is a more per- . fect government still.

Ants are considered as constituting an excellent democracy. This is superior to every other state, as all are, in consequence of such a constitution, on terms of equality, and every individual is employed for the hap

The republic of beavers is superior even to that of ants, at least if we may judge by their performances in masonry

Monkeys are more like merry-andrews than a regu

piness of all.

own

larly governed people; they do not appear associated under fixed and fundamental laws, like the species previously noticed. We resemble monkeys more than any

other animals in the talent of imitation, in the levity of our ideas, and in that inconstancy which has always prevented our having uniform and durable laws.

When nature formed our species, and imparted to us a certain portion of instinct, self-love for our preservation, benevolence for the safety and comfort of others, love which is common to every class of animal being, and the inexplicable gift of combining more ideas than all the inferior animals together ;-after bestowing on us this out-fit, she said to us, “ Go, and do the best you can.”

There is not a good code of laws in any single country. The reason is obvious : laws have been made for particular purposes, according to time, place, exigences, and not with general and systematic views.

When the exigences upon which laws were founded are changed or removed, the laws themselves become ridiculous. Thus the law which forbade eating pork and drinking wine was perfectly reasonable in Arabia, where pork and wine are injurious; but at Constantinople it is absurd.

The law which confers the whole fief or landed property on the eldest son, is a very good one in a time of general anarchy and pillage. The eldest is then the commander of the castle, which sooner or later will be attacked by brigands; the younger brothers will be his chief officers, and the labourers his soldiers. All that is to be apprehended is, that the younger brother may assassinate or poison the elder, his liege lord, in order to become himself the master of the premises : but such instances are uncommon, because nature has so combined our instincts and passions, that we feel a stronger horror against assassinating our elder brother, than we feel a desire to succeed to his authority and estate. But this law, which was suitable enough to the owners of the gloomy, secluded, and turreted mansions, in the days of Chilperic, is detestable when the case relates wholly to the division of family property in a civilized and well-governed city.

To the disgrace of mankind, the laws of play or gaming are, it is well known, the only ones that are throughout just, clear, inviolable, and carried into impartial and perfect execution. Why is the Indian who laid down the laws of a game of chess willingly and promptly obeyed all over the world, while the decretals of the popes, for example, are at present an object of horror and contempt? The reason is, that the inventer of chess combined everything with caution and exactness for the satisfaction of the players, and that the popes in their decretals looked solely to their own advantage. The Indian was desirous at once of exercising the minds of men and furnishing them with amusement; the popes were desirous of debasing and brutifying them. Accordingly, the game of chess has remained substantially the same for upwards of five thousand years, and is common to all the inhabitants of the earth, while the decretals are known only at Spoléto, Orvieto, and Loretto, and are there secretly despised even by the most shallow and contemptible of the practitioners.

SECTION IV.

During the reigns of Vespasian and Titus, when the Romans were embowelling the Jews, a very rich Israelite fled with all the gold he had accumulated by his occupation as a usurer, and conveyed to Eziongaber the whole of his family, which consisted of his wife, then far advanced in years, a son, and a daughter; he had in his train two eunuchs, one of whom acted as a cook, and the other a sa labourer and vine-dresser; and a pious Essenian, who knew the Pentateuch completely by heart, acted as his almoner. All these embarked at the port of Eziongebir, traversed the sea commonly called Red, although it is far from being so, and entered the Persian Gulph to go in search of the land of Ophir, without knowing where it was.

A dreadful tempest soon after this came on, which drove the Hebrew family towards the coast of India ; and the vessel was. wrecked on one of the Maldive islands now called Padrabranca, but which was at that time uninhabited.

The old usurer and his wife were drowned; the son and daughter, the two eunuchs, and the almoner were saved. They took as much of the provisions out of the wreck as they were able; erected for themselves little cabins on the island, and lived there with considerable convenience and comfort. You are aware that the island of Padrabranca is within five degrees of the line, and that it furnishes the largest cocoa-nuts and the best pine-apples in the world; it was pleasant to have such a lovely asylum at a time when the favourite people of God were elsewhere exposed to persecution and massacre; but the Essenian could not refrain from tears when he reflected, that perhaps those on that happy island were the only Jews remaining on the earth, and that the seed of Abraham was about to be annihilated.

“Its restoration depends entirely upon you," said the young Jew; “marry my sister." "I would willingly," said the almoner, “but it is against the law. I am an Essenian; I have made a vow never to marry; the law enjoins the strictest observance of a vow; the Jewish race may come to an end, if it must be so; but in order to prevent it, I will certainly not marry your sister, beautiful and amiable as I admit she is.”

“My two eunuchs,” resumed the Jew, can be of no service in this affair; I will therefore marry her myself, if you have no objection; and you shall bestow the usual marriage benediction.”

“I had a hundred times rather be embowelled by the Roman soldiers,” said the almoner,“ than to be instru. mental to your committing incest; were she your sister by the father's side only, the law would allow of your marriage ; but as she is your sister by the same mother, such a marriage would be abominable.”

“I can readily admit,” returned the young man,“that it would be a crime at Jerusalem, where I might see many

other young women one of whom I might marry: but in the isle of Padrabranca, where I see nothing but

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