Imatges de pÓgina

protestants, who had been married in the presence of their parents by a minister of their own communion. The protestant spouse had, like the Jew, changed his religion; and after he had concluded a second marriage with a catholic, the parliament of Grenoble confirmed this second marriage, and declared the first to be null.

If we pass from jurisprudence to legislation, we shall find it as obscure on this important matter, as on so many

others. A decree of the council, of September 15, 1685, says, “that protestants* may marry, provided however that it be in the presence of the principal officer of justice, and that the publications preceding such marriages shall be made at the royal see nearest the place of abode of each of the protestants desirous of marrying, and at the audience only.”

This decree was not revoked by the edict which, three weeks after, suppressed the edict of Nantes. But after the declaration of the 14th of May, 1724, drawn up by cardinal Fleury, the judges would no longer preside over the marriages of protestants, nor permit their banns to be published in their audiences.

By article XV. of this law, the forms prescribed by the canons are to be observed in marriages, as well of new converts as of all the rest of the king's subjects.

This general expression, all the rest of the king's subjects,' has been thought to comprehend the protestants, as well as the catholics, and on this interpretation, such marriages of protestants as were not solemnised according to the canonical forms have been annulled.t

Nevertheless, it seems that the marriages of protestants having been authorised by an express law, they

* Is it not odd, that in France the council itself should have given to the protestants the name of religionists, as if they alone Had any religion, and the rest of the nation were only papists, governed by decrees and bulls ?

+ The whole of this war against common sense will remind the reader of the Unitarian marriage controversy of the present day, and of some extraordinary parliamentary argument on the subject, almost as rational and consistent as the proceedings of the French tribunals.-T.

cannot Row be admitted but by another express law carrying with it this penalty. Besides, the term 'new converts,' mentioned in the declaration, appears to indicate that the term that follows relates to the catholics only. In short, when the civil law is obscure or ambiguous, ought not the judges to decide according to the natural and the moral law?

Does it not result from all this that laws often have need of reformation, and princes of consulting better informed counsellors; rejecting priestly ministers, and distrusting courtiers in the garb of confessors?


I MUST own, that I know not where the author of the “Critical History of Jesus Christ” found, that“St. Mary Magdalen had a criminal intimacy (des complaisances criminelles) with the Saviour of the world."* He

says (page 130, line 11 of the note) that this is an assertion of the Albigenses. I have never read this horrible blasphemy either in the history of the Albigenses, or in their profession of faith. It is one of the great many things of which I am ignorant. I know that the Albigenses had the dire misfortune of not being Roman catholics; but otherwise, it seems to me, they had the most profound reverence for the person

of Jesus. This author of the Critical History of Jesus Christ refers us to the Christiade, a sort of poem in prose(granting that there are such things as poems in prose); I have therefore been obliged to consult the

passage of the Christiade in which this accusation is made. It is in the fourth book or canto, p. 335, note l; the poet of the Christiade cites no authority. In an epic poem, indeed, citations may be spared; but great authorities are requisite in prose, when so grave an assertion is made--one which makes every christian's hair stand erect.

Whether the Albigenses advanced this impiety or

* Histoire Critique de Jesus Christ, ou Analyse Raisonnée des Evangiles, p. 130, note 3.

not, the only result is, that the author of the Christiade sports on the brink of criminality. He somewhat imitates the famous sermon of Menot. He introduces to us Mary Magdalen, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, brilliant with all the charms of youth and beauty, burning with every desire, and immersed in every voluptuousness. According to him, she is a lady at court, exalted in birth and in riches; her brother Lazarus was count of Bethany, and herself marchioness of Magdalet. Martha had a splendid portion, but he does not tell us where her estates lay.

o She had," says the man of the Christiade, a hundred servants, and a crowd of lovers; she might have threatened the liberty of the whole world. But riches, dignities, ambitious grandeur, never were so dear to Magdalen as the seductive error which caused her to be named the sinner. Such was the sovereign beauty of the capital when the young and divine hero arrived there from the extremities of Galilee.* Her other passions yielded to the ambition of subduing the hero of whom she had heard.”

The author of the Christiade then imitates Virgil. The marchioness of Magdalet conjures her portioned sister to further her coquetish designs upon her young hero, as Dido employed her sister Anna to gain the pious Æneas.

She goes to hear Christ's sermon in the temple, although he never preached there. “Her heart Aies before her to the hero she adores: she awaits but one favourable look to triumph over him, to subdue this master of hearts and make him her captive.”

She then goes to him at the house of Simon the leper, a very rich man, who was giving him a grand supper, although the women were never admitted at these feastings, especially among the Pharisees. She pours a large pot of perfumes upon his legs, wipes them with her beautiful fair hair, and kisses them.

I shall not enquire whether the picture which the author draws of Magdalen's holy transports is not more worldly than devout; whether the kisses given are not expressed rather too warmly; nor whether this fine fair hair with which she wipes her hero's legs, does not remind one too strongly of Trimalcion, who, at dinner, wiped his hands with the hair of a young and beautiful slave. He must himself have felt that his pictures might be fancied too glowing; for he anticipates criticism by giving some pieces from a sermon of Massillon's on Magdalen. One passage is as follows:

* No great distance.

“Magdalen had sacrificed her reputation to the world. Her bashfulness and her birth at first defended her against the emotions of her passion; and it is most likely, that to the first shafts which assailed her she opposed the barrier of her modesty and her pride; but when she had lent her ear to the serpent, and consulted her own wisdom, her heart was open to all the assaults of passion. Magdalen loved the world, and thenceforward all was sacrificed to this love; neither the pride that springs from birth, nor the modesty which is the ornament of her sex, is spared in this sacrifice; nothing can withhold her; neither the railleries of worldlings, nor the infidelities of her infatuated lovers, whom she fain would please, but by whom she cannot make herself esteemed-for virtue only is estimable; nothing can make her ashamed; and like the prostitute in the Apocalypse, she bears on her forehead the name of mystery; that is, she was veiled, and was no longer known but in the character of the foolish passion.”

I have sought this passage in Massillon's sermons, but it certainly is not in the edition which I possess. I will venture to say more- -it is not in his style.

The author of the Christiade should have informed us where he picked up this rhapsody of Massillon's, as he should have told us where he read, that the Albigenses dared to impute to Jesus Christ an unworthy intercourse with Mary Magdalen.

As for the marchioness, she is not again mentioned in the work. The author spares us her voyage to Marseilles with Lazarus, and the rest of her adventures,

* Tom. ii. p.321, note 1.

What could induce a man of learning, and sometimes of eloquence, as the author of the Christiade appears to be, to compose this pretended poem? It was, as he tells us in his preface, the example of Milton; but we well know how deceitful are examples. Milton, who- be it observed-did not hazard that weakly monstrosity, a poem in prose-Milton who, in his Paradise Lost, has, amid the multitude of harsh and obscure lines of which it is full, scattered some very fine blank verse, -could not please any but fanatical whigs, as the abbé Grécourt says,

En chantant l'univers perdu pour une pomme,
Et Dieu pour le damner créant le premier homme.

By singing
How God made man on purpose for hell-fire,

And how a stolen apple damned us all. He might delight the presbyterians by making Sin cohabit with Death; by firing off twenty-four pounders in heaven; by making drynesss fight with damp, and heat with cold; by cleaving angels in two, whose halves immediately join again; by building a bridge over chaos; by representing the Messiah taking from a chest in heaven a great pair of compasses to describe the circuit of the earth, &c. Virgil and Horace would perhaps have thought these ideas rather strange. But if they succeeded in England by the aid of some very happy lines, the author of the Christiade was mistaken in expecting his romance to succeed without the assistance of fine verses, which are indeed very difficult to make.

But, says our author, one Jerome Vida, bishop of Alba, once wrote a very powerful Christiade in Latin verse, in which he transcribed many lines from Virgil. Well, my friend, why didst thou write thine in French prose? Why didst not thou too imitate Virgil?

But the late M. d'Escorbiac, of Toulouse, also wrote a Christiade—Alas! Why wast thou so unfortunate as to become the ape of M. d’Escorbiac?

But Milton too wrote his romance of the New Tes

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