Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

a pope. .

Gregory, acknowledges at the same time that this turbulent man disgraced his heroism by his prophecies. He had the audacity to create an emperor, and in that he did well, as the emperor Henry IV. had made

Henry deposed him, and he deposed Henry. So far there is nothing to object;—both sides are equal. But Gregory took it into his head to turn prophet; he predicted the death of Henry IV. for the year 1080; but Henry IV. conquered, and the pretended emperor Rodolphus was defeated and slain in Thuringia by the famous Godfrey of Bouillon, a man more truly great than all the other three.

This proves, in my opinion, that Gregory had more enthusiasm than talent.

I subscribe with all my heart to the remark of Bayle, that “when a man undertakes to predict the future, he is provided against everything by a face of brass, and an inexhausible magazine of equivocations." But your enemies deride your equivocations; they also have a face of brass like yourself; and they expose you as a knave, a braggart, and a fool.

7thly. Our great man ended his public career with witnessing the taking of Rome by assault, in the year 1083. He was besieged in the castle, since called St. Angelo, by the same emperor Henry IV., whom he had dared to dispossess, and died in misery and contempt at Salerno, under the protection of Robert Guiscard the Norman.

I ask pardon of modern Rome, but when I read the history of the Scipios, the Catos, the Pompeys, and the Cæsars, I find a difficulty in ranking with them a factious monk who was made a pope under the name of Gregory VII.

But our Gregory has obtained even a yet finer title; he has been made a saint, at least at Rome. It was the famous cardinal Coscia who effected this canonization under pope Benedict XIII. Even an office or service of St. Gregory VII. was printed, in which it was said, that that saint “ absolved the faithful from the allegiance which they had sworn to their emperor.”. Many parliaments of the kingdom were desirous

of having this legend burnt by the executioner ; but Bentivoglio, the nuncio,-who kept one of the actresses at the opera, of the name of Constitution, as his mistress, and had by her a daughter called la Légende; a man otherwise extremely amiable, and a most interesting companion,-procured from the ministry a mitigation of the threatened storm ; nd, after passing sentence of condemnation on the legend of St. Gregory, the hostile party were contented to suppress it and to laugh at it.

HAPPY-HAPPILY. What is called happiness is an abstract idea, composed of various ideas of pleasure; for he who has but a moment of pleasure is not a happy man, in like manner that a moment of grief constitutes not a mi. serable one. Pleasure is more transient than happiness, and happiness than felicity. When a person says-I am happy at this moment, he abuses the word, and only means I am pleased. When pleasure is. continuous, he may then call himself happy. When this happiness lasts a little longer, it is a state of felicity. We are sometimes

very

far from being happy in prosperity, just as a surfeited invalid eats nothing of a great feast prepared for him.

The ancient adage, “No person should be called happy before his death,”, seems to turn on very false principles, if we mean by this maxim that we should not give the name of happy to a man who had been so constantly. from his birth to his last hour. This continuity of agreeable moments is rendered impossible by the constitution of our organs, by that of the elements on which we depend, and by that of mankind, on whom we depend still more. Constant happiness is the philoso. pher's stone of the soul; it is a great deal for us not to be a long time unhappy. A person whom we might suppose to have always enjoyed a happy life, who perishes miserably, would certainly merit the appellation of happy until his death, and we might boldly pronounce that he had been the happiest of men. Socrates might have been the happiest of the Greeks, although superstitious, absurd, or iniquitous judges, or all together, juridically poisoned him at the age of seventy years, on the suspicion that he believed in one only God.

The philosophical maxim so much agitated, “ Nemo ante obitum felix,” therefore, appears absolutely false in every sense; and if it signifies that a happy man may die an unhappy death, it signifies nothing of consequence.

The proverb of being “ Happy as a king" is still more false. Every body knows how the vulgar deceive themselves.

It is demanded, if one condition is happier than another? If man in general is happier than woman? It would be necessary to have tried all conditions, to have been man and woman like Tiresias and Iphis, to decide this question; still more would it be necessary to have lived in all conditions, with a mind equally proper to each; and we must have passed through all the possible state of man and woman to judge of it.

It is further demanded, if of two men one is happier than the other? It is very clear that he who has the gout and stone, who loses his fortune, his honour, his wife and children, and who is condemned to be hanged immediately after having been mangled, is less happy in this world in everything, than a young vigorous sultan, or La Fontaine's cobbler.

But we wish to know which is the happiest of two men equally healthy, equally rich, and of an equal condition? It is clear, that it is their temper which decides it. The most moderate, the least anxious, and at the same time the most sensible, is the most happy; but unfortunately the most sensible is often the least moderate. It is not our condition, it is the temper of our souls which renders us happy. This disposition of our soul depends on our organs, and our organs have been arranged without our having the least part in the arrangement.

It belongs to the reader to make his reflexions on the above. There are many articles on which he can say more than we ought to tell him. In matters of art, it is necessary to instruct him; in affairs of morals, he should be left to think for himself,

There are dogs whom we caress, comb, and feed with biscuits, and to whom we give pretty females : there are others which are covered with the mange, which die of hunger; others which we chase and beat, and which a young surgeon slowly dissects, after having driven four great nails into their paws. Hasit depended upon these poor dogs to be happy or unhappy?

We say a happy thought, a happy feature, a happy repartee, a happy physiognomy, happy climate, &c. These thoughts, these happy traits, which strike like sudden inspirations, and which are called the happy sallies of a man of wit, strike like flashes of light across our eyes, without our seeking it. They are no more in our power than a happy physiognomy; that is to say, a sweet and noble aspect, so independent of us, and so often deceitful. The happy climate is that which nature favours: so are happy imaginations, so is happy genius, or great talent. And who can give himself genius? or who, when he has received some ray of this flame, can preserve it always brilliant?

When we speak of a happy rascal, by this word we only comprehend his success. “ Felix Sylla”—the fortunate Sylla, an Alexander VI., a duke of Borgia, have happily pillaged, betrayed, poisoned, ravaged, and assassinated. But being villains, it is very likely that they were very unhappy, even when not in fear of persons resembling themselves.

It may happen to an ill-disposed person, badly educated,-a Turk for example, of whom it ought to be said, that he is permitted to doubt the Christian faith

to put a silken cord round the necks of his visiers, when they are rich; to strangle, massacre, or throw his brothers into the Black sea, and to ravage a hundred leagues of country for his glory. It may happen, I say, that this man has no more remorse than his mufti, and is very happy,-on all which the reader may duly ponder.

T'here were formerly happy planets, and others unhappy, or unfortunate; unhappily, they no longer exist.

Some people would have deprived the public of this useful Dictionary - happily, they have not succeeded.

Ungenerous minds, and absurd fanatics, every day endeavour to prejudice the powerful and the ignorant against philosophers. If they were unhappily listened to, we should fall back into the barbarity from which philosophers alone have withdrawn us.

HEAVEN (CIEL MATERIEL.) The laws of optics, which are founded upon the nature of things, have ordained that, from this small globe of earth on which we live, we shall always see the material heaven as if we were the centre of it, although we are far from being that centre.

That we shall always see it as a vaulted roof, hanging over a plane, although there is no other vaulted roof than that of our atmosphere, which has no such plane.

That our sun and moon will always appear one third larger at the horizon than at their zenith, although they are nearer the spectator at the zenith than at the horizon.

Such are the laws of optics, such is the structure of your eyes, that, in the first place, the material heaven, the clouds, the

moon,

the
sun,

which is at so vast a distance from you; the planets, which in their apogee are still at a greater distance from it; all the stars placed at distances yet vastly greater, comets and meteors, everything, must appear to us in that vaulted roof as consisting of our atmosphere.

The sun appears to us, when in its zenith, smaller than when at fifteen degrees below; at thirty degrees below the zenith it will appear still larger than at fifteen; and finally, at the horizon, its size will seem larger yet; so that its dimensions in the lower heaven decrease in consequence of its elevations, in the following proportions :At the horizon

100 At fifteen degrees above

68 At thirty degrees

50 At forty-five degrees

40

« AnteriorContinua »