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have an increase of fever during the wane of the moon: these ideas and a thousand others were the errors of ancient charlatans, who judged without reasoning, and who, being themselves deceived, deceived others.
Historical Prejudices. The greater part of historians have believed without examining, and this confidence is a prejudice. Fabius Pictor relates, that several ages before him a vestal of the town of Alba, going to draw water in her pitcher, was violated, that she was delivered of Romulus and Remus, that they were nourished by a she-wolf. The Roman people believed this fable; they examined not whether at that time there were vestals in Latium; whether it was likely that the daughter of a king should go out of her convent with a pitcher, or whether it was probable that a she-wolf should suckle two children, instead of eating them: prejudice established it.
A monk writes, that Clovis being in great danger at the battle of Tolbiac, made a vow to become a christian if he escaped; but is it natural that he should address a strange god on such an occasion? Would not the religion in which he was born have acted the most powerfully? Where is the christian who, in a battle against the Turks, would not rather address himself to the holy virgin Mary, than to Mahomet? He adds, that a pigeon brought the phial in his beak to anoint Clovis, and that an angel brought the oriflamme to conduct him: the prejudiced believed all the stories of this kind. Those who are acquainted with human nature well know, that the usurper Clovis, and the usurper Rollo, or Rol, became christians to govern the christians more securely, as the Turkish usurpers became mussulmans to govern the mussulmans more securely.
Religious Prejudices. If your nurse has told you, that Ceres presides over corn, or that Vishnou and Xaca became men several times, or that Sammonocodom cut down a forest, or that Odin expects you in his hall near Jutland, or that Mahomet, or some other, made a journey to heaven; finally, if your preceptor afterwards thrusts into your brain what your nurse has engraven on it, you will possess it for life. If your judgment would rise above these prejudices, your neighbours, and above all the ladies, exclaim “impiety," and frighten you; your dervise, fearing to see his revenue diminished, accuses you before the cadi; and this cadi, if he can, causes you to be impaled, because he would command fools, and he believes that fools obey better than others; which state of things will last until your neighbours and the dervise and cadi begin to comprehend, that folly is good for nothing, and that persecution is abominabằe.
PRESBYTERIAN. The Anglican religion is predominant only in England and Ireland; presbyterianism is the established religion of Scotland. This presbyterianism is nothing more than pure Calvinism, such as at once existed in France, and still exists at Geneva.
In comparison with a young and lively French bachelor in divinity, brawling during the morning in the schools of theology, and singing with the ladies in the evening, a church-of-England divine is a Cato; but this Cato is himself a gallant in the presence of the Scottish presbyterians. The latter affect a solemn walk, a serious demeanour, a large hat, a long robe beneath a short one, and preach through the nose. All churches in which the ecclesiastics are so happy as to receive an annual income of fifty thousand livres, and to be addressed by the people as
your grace," or “ your eminence," they denominate the whore of Babylon.* These gentlemen have also several churches in England, where they maintain the same manners and gravity as in Scotland. It is to them chiefly that the English are indebted for the strict sanctification of Sunday throughout the three kingdoms. They are forbidden either to labour or to amuse themselves. No opera, no concert, no comedy in Lon
* It need not be said that something of this has abated since the time of Voltaire.-T.
don on a Sunday. Even cards are expressly forbidden; and there are only certain people of quality who are deemed open souls who play on that day. The restof the nation attend sermons, taverns, and their small affairs of love.
Although episcopacy and presbyterianism predominate in Great Britain, all other opinions are welcome and live tolerably well together, although the various preachers reciprocally detest each other with nearly the same cordiality as a jansenist damns a jesuit.
Enter into the Royal Exchange of London, a place more respectable than many courts, in which deputies from all nations assemble for the advantage of mankind. There the Jew, the Mahometan, and the Christian, bargain with one another as if they were of the same religion, and bestow the name of infidel upon bankrupts only. There the presbyterian gives credit to the anabaptist, and the votary of the establishment accepts the promise of the quaker. On the separation of these free and pacific assemblies, some visit the synagogue, others repair to the tavern. Here one proceeds to baptise his son in a great tub, in the name of the father, son, and holy ghost; there another deprives his boy of a small portion of his foreskin, and mutters over the child some Hebrew words which he cannot understand; a third kind hasten to their chapels to wait for the inspiration of the Lord with their hats on; and all are content.
Was there in England but one religion, despotism might be apprehended; if two only, they would seek to cut each other's throats; but as there are at least thirty, they live together in peace and happiness.
PRETENSIONS. THERE is not a single prince in Europe who does not assume the title of sovereign of a country possessed by his neighbour. This political madness is unknown in the rest of-the world. The king of Boutan never called himself emperor of China; nor did the so
vereign of Tartary ever assume the title of king of Egypt
The most splendid and comprehensive pretensions have always been those of the popes; two keys, saltier, gave them clear and decided possession of the kingdom of heaven. They bound and unbound everything on earth. This ligature made them masters of the continent; and St. Peter's nets gave them the dominion of
Many learned theologians thought, that when these gods were assailed by the Titans, called Lutherans, Anglicans, and Calvinists, &c., they themselves reduced some articles of their pretensions. It is certain that many of them became more modest, and that their celestial court attended more to propriety and decency; but their pretensions were renewed on every opportunity that offered. No other proof is necessary than the conduct of Aldobrandini, Clement VIII., to the great Henry IV., when it was deemed necessary to give him an absolution that he had no occasion for, on account of his being already absolved by the bishops of his own kingdom, and also on account of his being victorious.
Aldobrandini at first resisted for a whole year, and refused to acknowledge the duke of Nemours as the ambassador of France. At last he consented to open to Henry the gate of the kingdom of heaven, on the following conditions:
1. That Henry should ask pardon for having made the sub-porters, that is the bishops, open the gate to him, instead of applying to the grand porter.
2. That he should acknowledge himself to have forfeited the throne of France till Aldobrandini, by the plenitude of his power, reinstated him on it.
3. That he should be a second time consecrated and crowned; the first coronation having been null and void, as they were performed without the express order of Aldobrandini.
4. That he should expel all the protestants from his kingdom; which would have been neither honourable nor possible. It would not have been honourable, because the protestants had profusely shed their blood to establish him as king of France; and it would not have been possible, as the number of these dissidents amounted to two millions.
5. That he should immediately make war on the grand Turk, which would not have been more honourable or possible than the last condition, as the grand Turk had recognised him as king of France at a time when Rome refused to do so, and as Henry had neither. troops, nor money, nor ships, to engage in such an insane war with his faithful ally..
6. That he should receive in an attitude of complete prostration the absolution of the pope's legate, according to the usual form in which it is administered; that is in fact, that he should be actually scourged by the legate.
7. That he should recal the jesuits, who had been expelled from his kingdom by the parliament for the attempt made to assassinate him by Jean Chatel, their scholar.
I omit many other minor pretensions. Henry obtained a mitigation of a number of them. In particular, he obtained the concession, although with a great deal of difficulty, that the scourging should be inflicted only by proxy, and by the hand of Aldobrandini himself.
You will perhaps tell me, that his holiness was obliged to require those extravagant conditions by that old and inveterate demon of the south, Philip II., who was more powerful at Rome than the pope himself. You compare Aldobrandini to a contemptible poltroon of a soldier whom his colonel forces forward to the trenches by caning him.
To this I answer, that Clement VIII. was indeed afraid of Philip II., but that he was not less attached to the rights of the tiara; and that it was so exquisite a gratification for the grandson of a banker to scourge a king of France, that Aldobrandini would not altogether have conceded this point for the world.
You will reply, that should a pope at present renew such pretensions, should he now attempt to apply the scourge to a king of France, or Spain, or Naples, or