Imatges de pÓgina
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lishment of the Portuguese in India, written by our countrymen, but not one of them has brought us acquainted with the different governments of that country, with its religious antiquities, bramins, disciples of St. John, Guebres, and Banians. Some letters of Xavier and his successors have, it is true, been preserved to:

We have had histories of the Indies composed at Paris, from the accounts of those missionaries who were unacquainted with the language of the bramins. We have it repeated, in a hundred works, that the Indians worship the devil. The chaplains of a company of merchants quit our country under these impressions, and, as soon as they perceive on the coast some symbolical figures, they fail not to write home that they are the portraits and likenesses of the devil, that they are in the devil's empire, and that they are going to engage in battle with him. They do not reflect that we are the real worshippers of the devil Mammon, and that we travel six thousand leagues from our native land to offer our vows at his shrine, and to obtain the grant of some portion of his trea

sures.

As to those who hire themselves out at Paris to some bookseller in the rue de St. Jacques, and at so much per job, and who are ordered to write a history of Japan, Canada, or the Canaries, as the case requires and opportunity suggests, from the memoirs of a few capuchin friars—to such I have nothing to say.

It is sufficient, if it be clearly understood, that the method which would be proper in writing a history of our own country is not suitable in describing the discoveries of the new world ; that we should not write on a small city as on a great empire; and that the private history of a prince should be composed in a very different manner from the history of France and England.

If you have nothing to tell us, but that on the banks of the Oxus and the Jaxartes, one barbarian has been succeeded by another barbarian, in what respect do

you

benefit the public? These rules are well known; but the art of writing

history well will always be very uncommon. It obviously requires a style grave, pure, varied, and smooth. But we may say with respect to rules for writing history, as in reference to those for all the intellectual arts,—there are many precepts, but few masters.

SECTION V.

History of the Jewish Kings, and of theParalipomena."

Every nation, as soon as it was able to write, has written its own history, and the Jews have accordingly written theirs. Before they had kings, they lived under a theocracy; it was their destiny to be governed by God himself.

When the Jews were desirous of having a king, like the adjoining nations, the prophet Samuel, who was exceedingly interested in preventing it, declared to them, on the part of God, that they were rejecting God himself. Thus the Jewish theocracy ceased when the monarchy commenced. • We may therefore remark, without the imputation of blasphemy, that the history of the Jewish kings was written like that of other nations, and that God did not take the pains himself to dictate the history of a people whom he no longer governed.

We advance this opinion with the greatest diffidence. What may perhaps be considered as confirming it, is, that the“ Paralipomena” very frequently contradict the book of Kings, both with respect to chronology and facts, just as profane bistorians sometimes contradict one another. Moreover, if God always wrote the history of the Jews, it seems only consistent and natural to think that he writes it still ; for the Jews are always his cherished people. They are on some future day to be converted, and it seems that whenever that event happens, they will have as complete a right to consider the history of their dispersion as sacred, as they have now to say, that God wrote the history of their kings.

We may be allowed here to make one reflection; which is, that as God was for a very long period their

king, and afterwards became their historian, we are bound to entertain for all Jews the most profound respect. There is not a single Jew broker, or slop-man, who is not infinitely superior to Cæsar and Alexander. How can we avoid bending in prostration before an old-clothes-man, who proves to us that bis history has been written by God himself, while the histories of Greece and Rome have been transmitted to us merely by the profane hand of man.

If the style of the history of the kings, and of the Paralipomena, is divine, it may nevertheless be true, that the acts recorded in these histories are not divine. David murders Uriah; Ishbosheth and Mephibosheth are murdered; Absalom murders Ammon; Joab murders Absalom; Solomon murders his brother Adonijah; Baasha murders Nadab; Zimri murders Ela; Omri murders Zimri; Ahab murders Naboth; Jehu murders Ahab and Joram; the inhabitants of Jerusalem murder Amaziah, son of Joash; Shallum, son of Jabesh, murders Zachariah, son of Jeroboam; Menahhem murders Shallum, son of Jabesh; Pekah, son of Remaliah, murders Pekahiah, son of Manehem; and Hoshea, son of Elah, murders Pekah, son of Remaliah. We pass over, in silence, many other minor murders. It must be acknowledged, that, if the Holy Spirit did write this history, he did not chuse a subject particularly edifying.

SECTION IV.

Of bad Actions which have been consecrated or excused

in History. It is but too common for historians to praise very depraved and abandoned characters, who have done service either to a dominant sect, or to their nation at large. The praises thus bestowed, come perhaps from a loyal and zealous citizen ; but zeal of this description is injurious to the great society of mankind. Romulus murders his brother, and he is made a god. Constantine cuts the throat of his son, strangles his wife, and murders almost all his family: he has been eulogized in general councils, but history should ever hold up such barbarities to detestation. It is undoubtedly fortunate for us that Clovis was a catholic. It is fortunate for the Anglican church that Henry VIII. abolished monks, but we must at the same time admit that Clovis and Henry VIII. were monsters of cruelty.

When first the jesuit Berruyer, who although a jesuit was a fool, undertook to paraphrase the Old and New Testament in the style of the lowest populace, with no other intention than having them read. He scattered some flowers of rhetoric over the two-edged knife which the Jew Ehud thrust up to the hilt in the stomach of the king Eglon; and over the sabre with which Judith cut off the head of Holofernes after having prostituted herself to his pleasures; and also over many other acts recorded of a similar description. The parliament, respecting the Bible which narrates these histories, nevertheless condemned the jesuit who extolled them, and ordered the Old and New Testament to be burnt:-I mean merely those of the jesuit.

But as the judgments of mankind are ever different in similar cases, the same thing happened to Bayle in circumstances totally different. He was condemned for not praising all the actions of David, king of the province of Judea. A man of the name of Jurieu, a refugee preacher in Holland, associated with some other refugee preachers, were desirous of obliging him to recant. But how could he recant with reference to facts delivered in the scripture? Had not Bayle some reason to conclude that all the facts recorded in the Jewish books are not the actions of saints ? that David,

had committed some criminal acts; and that, if he is called a man after God's own heart, he is called so in consequence of his penitence, and not of his crimes ?

Let us disregard names and confine our consideration to things only. Let us suppose, that during the reign of Henry IV. a clergyman of the League party secretly poured out a phial of oil on the head of a shepherd of Brie; that the shepherd comes to court; that the clergyman presents him to Henry IV. as an excellent violin player, who can completely drive away

like other men,

all care and melancholy; that the king makes him his equerry, and bestows on him one of his daughters in marriage; that afterwards, the king having quarrelled with the shepherd, the latter takes refuge with one of the princes of Germany, his father-in-law's enemy; that he enlists and arms six hundred banditti overwhelmed by debt and debauchery; that with this regiment of brigands he rushes to the field, slays friends as well as enemies, exterminating all, even to women and children at the breast, in order to prevent a single individual's remaining to give intelligence of the horrid butchery. I farther suppose this same shepherd of Brie to become king of France after the death of Henry IV, that he procures the murder of thatking's grandson, after having invited him to sit at meat at his own table, and delivers over to death seven other younger children of his king and benefactor. Who is the man that will not conceive the shepherd of Brie to act rather harshly?

Commentators are agreed that the adultery of David, and his murder of Uriah, are faults which God pardoned. We may therefore conclude that the massacres above mentioned are faults which God also pardoned.

However, Bayle had no quarter given him; but at length some preachers at London having compared George II. to David, one of that monarch's servants prints and publishes a small book, in which he censures the comparison. He examines the whole conduct of David; he goes infinitely farther than Bayle, and treats David with more severity than Tacitus applies to Domitian. This book did not raise in England* the slightest murmur; every reader felt that bad actions are always bad, that God may pardon them when repentence is proportioned to guilt, but that certainly no man can ever approve of them.

There was more reason, therefore, prevailing in England than there was in Holland in the time of Bayle.

* It was subsequently, however, prosecuted by some animals of the “ Constitutional Society" calibre of intellect, and of course rendered popular.-T.

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