« AnteriorContinua »
infinite and eternal torments the innocent infants whose father he received back into forgiveness and favour?
Pelagius considered God, not merely as an absolute maşter, but as a parent, who left his children at perfect liberty, and rewarded them beyond their merits, and punished them less than their făults deserved.
The language used by him and his disciples was: If all men are born objects of the eternal wrath of that being who confers on them life; if they can possibly be guilty before they can even think, it is then a fearful and execrable offence to give them being, and marriage is the most atrocious of crimes. Marriage, on this system, is nothing more or less than an emanation from the manichean principle of evil, and those who engage in it, instead of adoring God, adore the devil.
Pelagius and his partizans propagated this doctrine in Africa, where the reputation and influence of St. Augustin were unbounded. He had been a manichean, and seemed to think himself called upon to enter the lists against Pelagius. The latter was ill able to resist either Augustin or Jerome; various points however were contested, and the dispute proceeded so far that Augustin pronounced his sentence of damnation upon all children born, or to be born, throughout the world, in the following terms: “ The catholic faith teaches that all men are born so guilty, that even infants are certainly damned when they die without having been regenerated in Jesus."
It would be but a wretched compliment of condolance to offer to a queen of China, or Japan, or India, Scythia or Gothia, who had just lost her infant son, to say-Be comforted, madam; his highness the prince royal is now in the clutches of five hundred devils, who turn him round and round in a great furnace to all eternity, while bis body rests embalmed and in peace within the precincts of your palace.
The astonished and terrified queen enquires, why these devils should eternally roast her dear son the prince royal? She is answered that the reason of it is that his great-grand-father formerly eat of the fruit of knowledge, in a garden. Form an idea, if possible, of the looks and thoughts of the king, the queen, the whole council, and all the beautiful ladies of the court!
The sentence of the African bishop appeared to some divines (for there are some good souls to be found in every place and class) rather severe, and was therefore mitigated by one Peter Chrysologus or Peter Golden-tongue, who invented a suburb to hell, called “ limbo,” where all the little boys and girls that died before baptism might be disposed of. It is a place in which these innocents vegetate without sensation; the abode of apathy; the place that has been called “ The paradise of fools." We find this very expression in Milton. He places this paradise somewhere near the moon !*
Explication of Original Sin. The difficulty is the same with respect to this substituted limbo as with respect to hell. Why should these poor little wretches be placed in this limbo? what had they done? how could their souls, which they had not in their possession a single day, be guilty of a gormandizing that merited a punishment of six thousand
St. Augustin, who damns them, assigns as a reason, that the souls of all men being comprised in that of Adam, it is probable that they were all accomplices. But, as the church subsequently decided, that souls are not made before the bodies which they are to inhabit are originated, that system falls to the ground, notwithstanding the celebrity of its author.
Others said, that original sin was transmitted from soul te soul, in the way of emanation, and that one soul, derived from another, came into the world with all the corruption of the mother-soul. This opinion was condemned.
After the divines had done with the question, the philosophers tried at it. Leibnitz, while sporting with his monads, amused himself with collecting together in Adam all the human monads with their little bodies of monads. This was going further than St. Augustin. But this idea, which was worthy of Cyrano de Bergerac, met with very few to adopt and defend it.
* Ariosto, in the moon itself, in which he deposits the lost wits of Orlando, the writings of Constantine bestowing Rome on pope Sylvester, and all the imaginary existences which never was.-T.
Malebranche explains the matter by the influence of the imagination on mothers. "Eve's brain was so strongly inflamed with the desire of eating the fruit, that her children had the same desire; just like the irresistibly authenticated case of the woman who, after having seen a man racked, was brought to bed of a dislocated infant.
Nicole reduced the affair to “a certain inclination, a certain tendency to concupiscence which we have derived from our mothers. This inclination is not an act; but it will one day become such.” Well said, Nicole; bravo! But, in the mean time, why am I to be damned? Nicole does not even touch the difficulty, which consists in ascertaining how our own souls, which have but recently been formed, can be fairly made responsible for the fault of another soul that lived some thousands of years ago.
What, my good friends, ought to be said upon the subject ? Nothing. Accordingly, I do not give my explication of the difficulty ; I say not a single word.
ORTHOGRAPHY, The orthography of most French books is ridiculous. Almost all ignorant printers print Wisigoths, Westphalia, Wirtemberg, Weteravia, &c.
They know not that the German double V which they thus write W is our consonant V, and that in German they are pronounced Veteravia, Vertemberg, Vestphalia, Visigoth. They write Altona instead of Altena, not knowing that in German an O surmounted with two points is like an E. They know not that in Holland.oe' makes 'ou'; and they always make mistakes in writing this diphthong. Those committed every day by our translators of books are innumerable. As for orthography purely French, habit alone can support its incongruity. Em-ploi-e-roi-ent,' 'oc-troi-e-roi-ent,' which are pronounced octroiraient, emploiraient;
pa-on,' which is pronounced pan; "fa-on,' which we pronounce fan; “la-on,' which we pronounce lan; and an hundred other such barbarities, induce us to sayHodieque månent vestigia ruris.
HORACE, Book ii. ep. i. v.160.
FRANCIS. The above however prevent not Racine, Boileau and Quinault from charming the ear, or La Fontaine from always pleasing.
The English are much more inconsistent; they have perverted all the vowels, they pronounce them differently from all other nations. In orthography, we may say of them with Virgil, Eclogue i. line 67
Et penitus toto divisos orbe Brittannos.
DRYDEN. Yet they have changed their orthography within an hundred years; they no longer write loveth,' speak, eth,' or 'maketh,' but 'loves,' speaks,' makes.'
The Italians have suppressed all their h's. They have made several innovations in favour of the softness of their language.
Writing is the painting of the voice; the more close the resemblance the better it is.
SCHOLARS have not failed to write volumes to inform us exactly to what corner of the earth Ovidius Naso was banished by Octavius Cepias, surnamed Augustus. All that we know of it is, that born at Şulmo and brought up at Rome, he passed ten years on the right shore of the Danube, in the neighbourhood of the Black Sea. Though he calls this land barbarous, we must not fancy that it was a land of savages. There were verses made there: Cotis, the petty king of a part of Thrace, made Getic verses for Ovid. The Latin poet learnt Getic, and also composed lines in this language. It seems as if Greek poetry should have been understood in the ancient country of Orpheus, but this
country was then peopled by nations from the north, who probably spoke a Tartar dialect, a language approaching to the ancient Sclavonian. Ovid seemed not destined to make Tartar verses. The country of the Tomites, to which he was banished, was a part of Mysia, a Roman province, between mount Hemus and the Danube. It is situated in the forty-fourth degree and á half of latitude, like one of the finest climates of France; but the mountains which are at the south, and the winds of the north and east, which blow from the Euxine, the cold and dampness of the forests and of the Danube, rendered this country insupportable to a man born in Italy. Thus Ovid did not live long, but died there at the age of sixty. He complains in his Elegies of the climate and not of the inhabitants.
Quos ego, cùm loca sim vestra perosus, amo. These people crowned him with laurel and gave him privileges, which prevented him not from regretting Rome. It was a great instance of the slavery of the Romans and of the extinction of all laws, when a man born of an equestrian family, like Octavius, exiled a man of another equestrian family, and when one citizen of Rome with one word sent another among the Scythians. Before this time it required a ' plebiscitum,' a law of the nation, to deprive a Roman of his country. Cicero, although banished by a cabal, had at least been exiled with the forms of law.
The crime of Ovid was incontestably that of having seen something shameful in the family of Octavius:
Cur aliquid vidi, cur noxia lumina feci?
Why saw I ought, or why discover crime ? The learned have not decided whether he had seen Augustus with a prettier boy than Mannius, whom he said he would not have because he was too ugly; whether he saw some page in the arms of the empress Livia, whom this Augustus had espoused, while pregnant by another; whether he had seen the said Augustus occupied with his daughter or grand-daughter; or, finally, whether he saw him doing something still worse, torva tuentibus hircis ?' It is most probable