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me, which I hope will be the case, you will be relieved of one half of the immense burden which now oppresses you. I have mentioned to you the fable of Atlas who. supported the heavens upon his shoulders. Hercules relieved him, and carried away the heavens. You are Atlas, and Hercules is the pope. There will be two powers in your empire. Our excellent Clement will be the first. Upon this plan you will enjoy the greatest of all advantages; those of being at leisure while you live, and of being saved when you die.
THE EMPEROR. I am exceedingly obliged to my dear friend the pope, for condescending to take so much trouble; but how will he be able to govern my empire at the distance of six thousand leagues ?
Nothing, may it please your imperial majesty, can be more easy. We are his vicars apostolic, and he is the vicar of God; you will therefore be governed by God himself.
THE EMPEROR. How delightful that will be! I am not however quite easy upon the subject. Will your vice-god share the imperial revenues with myself? For all labour ought to be paid for.
Our vice-god is so kind and good, that in general he will not take, at most, more than a quarter, except in cases of disobedience. Our emoluments will not exceed fifty million ounces of pure silver, which is surely a trifling object in comparison with heavenly advantages.
Yes, it is certainly, as you say, giving them almost for nothing. I suppose your celebrated and benevolent city derives just about the same sum from each of my three neighbours, the great Mogul, the emperor of Japan, and the empress of Russia ; and also from the Persian and the Turkish empires?
I cannot exactly say, that is yet the case; but,
with God's help and our own, I have no doubt it will be so.
THE LMPEROR. And how are you, who are the vicars apostolic, to be paid ?
FATHER BOUVET. We have no regular wages; but we are somewhat like the principal female character in a comedy written by one count Caylus, a countryman of mine; all that 1.... is for myself.
THE EMPEROR. But pray inform me, whether your christian princes in Europe pay your Italian friend or patron in proportion to the assessment laid on me?
FATHER BOUVET. No, they do not ! One half of Europe has separated from him, and pays him nothing; and the other pays him no more than it is obliged to pay.
THE EMPEROR. You told me some time since, that he was sovereign of a very fine and fertile territory.
FATHER BOUVET. Yes; but it produces very little to him: it lies mostly uncultivated.
THE EMPEROR. Poor man! he does not know how to cultivate his own territory, and yet pretends to govern mine.
FATHER BOUVET. Formerly, in one of our councils, that is, in one of our assemblies of priests, which was held in a city called Constance, our holy father caused a proposition to be made for a new tax, for the support of his dignity. The assembly replied, that any necessity for that would be perfectly precluded by his attending to the cultivation of his own lands. This however he took effectual care not to do. He preferred living on the produce of those who labour in other kingdoms. He appeared to think, that this manner of living had an air of greater grandeur.
Well, go and tell him from me, that I not only
make those about me labour, but that I also labour myself; and I doubt much whether it will be for him.
Holy virgin! I am absolutely taken for a fool.
Begone, this instant! I have been too indulgent.
BROTHER ATTIRET, TO FATHER BOUVET. I was right, you see, when I told you, that the emperor, with all his excellence of heart, had also more understanding than both of us together.
PRAYER (PUBLIC), THANKSGIVING, &c.
Very few forms of public prayers used by the ancients still remain.
We have only Horace's beautiful hymn for the secular games of the ancient Romans. This prayer is in the rhythm and measure which the other Romans long after imitated inthe hymn, “Ut queat laxis resonare fibris."
The “Pervigilium Veneris" is written in a quaint and affected taste, and seems unworthy of the noble simplicity of the reign of Augustus. It is possible that this hymn to Venus may have been chaunted in the festivals celebrated in honour of that goddess; but it cannot be doubted, that the poem of Horace was chaunted with much greater solemnity.
It must be allowed, that this secular poem of Horace is one of the finest productions of antiquity; and that the hymn “ Ut queat laxis,” is one of the most flat and vapid pieces that appeared during the barbarous period of the decline of the Latin language. The catholic church in those times paid little attention to eloquence and poetry. We all know very well that God prefers bad verses recited with a pure heart, to the finest verses possible chaunted by the wicked. Good verses however never yet did any harm, and—all other things being equal--must deserve a preference.
Nothing among us ever approached the secular games, which were celebrated at the expiration of every hundred and ten years. Our jubilee is only a faint and feeble copy of it. Three magnificent altars were erected on the banks of the Tiber. All Rome was illuminated for three successive nights; and fifteen priests distributed the lustral water and wax tapers among the men and women of the city who were appointed to chaunt the prayers. A sacrifice was first offered to Jupiter as the great god, the sovereign master of the gods, and afterwards to Juno, Apollo, Latona, Diana, Ceres, Pluto, Proserpine, and the Fates, as to inferior powers. All these divinities had their own peculiar hymns and ceremonies. There were two choirs, one of twenty-seven boys, and the other of twenty-seven girls, for each of the divinities. Finally, on the last day, the boys and girls, crowned with flowers, chaunted the ode of Horace.
It is true, that in private houses his other odes, for Ligurinus and Liciscus and other contemptible characters, were heard at table; performances which undoubtedly were not calculated to excite the finest feelings of devotion; but there is a time for all things, “pictoribus atque poetis.” Caraccio, who drew the figures of Aretin, painted saints also; and in all our colleges we have excused in Horace what the masters of the Roman empire excused in him without any difficulty.
As to forms of prayer, we have only a few slight fragments of that which was recited at the mysteries of Isis. We have quoted it elsewhere, but we will repeat it here, because it is at once short and beautiful.
“ The celestial powers obey thee; hell is in subjection to thee; the universe revolves under thy moving hand; thy feet tread on Tartarus; the stars are responsive to thy voice; the seasons return at thy command; the elements are obedient to thy will.”
We repeat also the form supposed to have been used in the worship of the ancient Orpheus, which we think superior even to the above respecting Isis.
“Walk in the path of justice; adore the sole master of the universe; he is one alone, and self-existent; all other beings owe their existence to him; he acts both in them and by them; he sees all, but has never been himself seen by mortal eyes.
It is not a little extraordinary, that in the Leviticus
and Deuteronomy of the Jews, there is not a single public prayer, not one single formula of public worship. It seems as if the Levites were fully employed in dividing among themselves the viands that were offered to them. We do not even see a single prayer instituted for their great festivals of the passover, the penticost, the trumpets, the tabernacles, the general expiation, or the new moon.
The learned are almost unanimously agreed, that there were no regular prayers among the Jews, except when, during their captivity at Babylon, they adopted somewhat of the manners, and acquired something of the sciences, of that civilized and powerful people. They borrowed all from the Chaldaic Persians, even to their very language, characters, and numerals; and joining some new customs to their old Egyptian rites, they became a new people, so much the more superstitious than before, in consequence of their being, after the conclusion of a long captivity, still always dependent upon their neighbours.
In rebus acerbis
LUCRETIUS, book iii. 52. 53.
The common rout,
CREECH. With respect to the ten other tribes who had been previously dispersed, we may reasonably believe that they were as destitute of public forms of prayer as the two others, and that they had not, even up to the period of their dispersion, any fixed and well-defined religion, as they abandoned that which they professed with so much facility, and forgot even their own name, which cannot be said of the small number of unfortunate beings who returned to re-build Jerusalem.
It is therefore at that period that the two tribes, or rather the two tribes and a half, seemed to have first attached themselves to certain invariable rights, to have written books, and used regular prayers. It is not before that time that we begin to see among them forms of prayer. Esdras ordained two prayers for every day,