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a man who possessed so much wit, should have made so miserable an use of it. He is a drunken philosopher, who wrote only in the moments of his intoxication.
Dr. Swift is Rabelais sober, and living in good company. He has not indeed the gaiety of the former, but he has all the finesse, sense, discrimination, which is wanted by our curate of Meudon. His verse is in a singular taste, and almost inimitable. He exhibits a fine vein of humour, both in prose and in verse; but in order to understand it, it is necessary to visit his country.
In this country, which appears so extraordinary to other parts of Europe, it has excited little surprise that doctor Swift, dean of a cathedral, should make merry in his Tale of a Tub with Catholicism, Lutheranism, and Calvinism : his own defence is, that he has not meddled with christianity. He pretends to respect the parent while he scourges the children. Certain fastidious persons are of opinion, that his lashes are so long, they have even reached the father.
This famous Tale of a Tub, is the ancient story of the three invisible rings, which a father bequeathed to his three children. These three rings were the Jewish, the Christian, and the Mahometan religions. It is still more an imitation of the history of Mero and Enegu by Fontenelle. Mero is the anagram of Rome. Enegu of Geneva, and they are two sisters who aspire to the succession of the kingdom of their father. Mero reigns the first, and Fontenelle represents her as a sorceress, who plays tricks with bread and effects conjuration with dead bodies. This is precisely the Lord Peter of Swift, who presents a piece of bread to his two brothers, and says to them, “Here is some excellent burgundy, my friends; this partridge is of a delicious flavour." Lord Peter in Swift performs the same part with the Mero of Fontenelle.
Thus almost all is imitation. The idea of the Persian Letters was taken from that of the Turkish Spy. Boyardo imitated Pulci; Ariosto, Boyardo; the most original wits borrow from one another. Cervantes
makes a madman of his Don Quixote, but is Orlando anything else? It would be difficult to decide by which of the two knight-errantry is most ridiculed, the grotesque portraiture of Cervantes, or the fertile imagination of Ariosto? Metastasio has borrowed the greater part of his operas from our French tragedies; and many English authors have copied us, and said nothing about it.* It is with books as with the fires in our grates; every body borrows a light from his neighbour to kindle his own, which in its turn is communicated to others, and each partakes of all.
PRIVILEGE_PRIVILEGED CASES. Custom, which almost always prevails against reason, would have the offences of ecclesiastics and monks against civil orders, which are very frequent, called privileged offences; and those offences common which regard only ecclesiastical discipline, cases that are abandoned to the sacerdotal hierarchy, and with which the civil power does not interfere.
The church having no jurisdiction but that which sovereigns have granted it, and the judges of the church being thus only judges privileged by the sovereign, those cases should be called privileged which it is their province to judge, and those common offences which are punishable by the prince's officers. But the canonists, who are very rarely exact in their expressions, particularly when treating of regal jurisprudence, having regarded a priest called the official, as being of right the sole judge of the clergy, they have entitled that privilege, which in common law belongs to lay tribunals, and the ordinances of the monarch have adopted this expression in France.
To conform himself to this custom, the judge of the * Especially in our comedy. It is astonishing how great a portion of that which we call genteel comedy, has been borrowed from the French. he Schoo for Scandal is scarcely an exception. As to Murphy, he is a wholesale borrower from Destouches and others; but the Rosciad settles his share of dramatic merit.-T.
church takes cognisance only of common crime; in respect to privileged cases he can act only concurrently with the regal judge, who repairs to the episcopal court, where however he is but the assessor of the judge of the church. Both are assisted by their register; each separately, but in one another's presence, takes notes of the course of the proceedings. The official who presides alone interrogates the accused; and if the royal judge has questions to put to him, he must have permission of the ecclesiastical judge to propose them.
This procedure is composed of formalities, and produces delays which should not be admitted in criminal jurisprudence. Judges of the church who have not made a study of laws and formalities are seldom able to conduct criminal proceedings without giving place to appeals, which ruin the accused in expense, make him languish in chains, or retard his punishment if he is guilty.
Besides, the French have no precise law to determine which are privileged cases.
A criminal often groans in a dungeon for a whole year, without knowing what tribunal will judge him.
Priests and monks are in the state and subjects of of it. It is very strange, that when they trouble society they are not to be judged, like other citizens, by the officers of the sovereign.
Among the Jews, even the high priest had not the privilege which our laws grant to simple parish priests. Solomon deposed the high priest Abiathar,* without referring him to the synagogue to take his trial. Jesus Christ, accused before a secular and pagan judge, challenged not his jurisdiction. St. Paul, translated to the tribunal of Felix and Festus, declined not their judgment.
The emperor Constantine first granted this privilege to bishops. Honorius and Theodosius the younger extended it to all the clergy, and Justinian confirmed it.
* I. Kings, ii. 26, 27.
In digesting the criminal code of 1670, the counsellor of state, Pussort, and the president of Novion, wished to abolish the conjoint proceeding, and to give to royal judges alone the right of judging the clergy accused of privileged cases; but this so reasonable desire was combatted by the first president De Lamoignon, and the advocate-general Talon, and a law which was made to reform our abuses confirmed the most ridiculous of them.
A declaration of the king, of the 26th of April, 1657, forbids the parliament of Paris to continue the proceeding commenced against cardinal Retz, accused of high treason. The same declaration desires that the suits of cardinals, archbishops, and bishops of the kingdom, accused of the crime of high treason, are to be conducted and judged by ecclesiastical judges, as ordered by the canons,
But this declaration, contrary to the customs of the kingdom, has not been registered in any parliament, and would not be followed. Our books relate several sentences which have doomed cardinals, archbishops, and bishops to imprisonment, deposition, confiscation, and other punishments. These punishments were pronounced against the bishop of Nantes, by sentence of the 25th of June, 1455.
Against Jean de la Balue, cardinal and bishop of Angers, by sentence dated the 29th of July, 1469.
Against Jean Hebert, bishop of Constance, in 1480.
Against Louis de Rochechouart, bishop of Nantes, in 1481.
Against Geoffroi de Pompadour, bishop of Perigueux, and George d'Amboise, bishop of Montauban, in 1488.
Against Geoffroi Dintiville, bishop of Auxerre, in 1531.
Against Bernard Lordat, bishop of Pumiers, in 1537.
Against cardinal de Chatillon, bishop of Beauvais, the 19th of March, 1569.
Against Geoffroi de La Martonie, bishop of Amiens, the 9th of July, 1594. VOL. V,
Against Gilbert Genebrard, archbishop of Aix, the 26th of January, 1596.
Against William Rose, bishop of Senlis, the 5th of September, 1598.
Against cardinal de Sourdis, archbishop of Bordeaux, the 17th of November, 1615.
The parliament sentenced cardinal de Bouillon to be imprisoned, and seized his property on the 20th of June, 1710.
Cardinal de Mailly, archbishop of Rheims, in 1717, made a law tending to destroy the ecclesiastical peace established by the government. The hangman publicly burned the law by sentence of parliament.
The sieur Languet, bishop of Soissons, having maintained that he could not be judged by the justice of the king even for the crime of high treason, was condemned to pay a fine of ten thousand livres.
In the shameful troubles excited by the refusal of sacraments, the simple presidial of Nantes condemned the bishop of that city to pay a fine of six thousand francs, for having refused the communion to those who demanded it.
In 1764, the archbishop of Auch, of the name of Montillet, was fined, and his command, regarded as a defamatory libel, was burnt by the executioner at Bordeaux.
These examples have been very frequent. The maxim, that ecclesiastics are entirely amenable to the justice of the king, like other citizens, has prevailed throughout the kingdom. There is no express law which commands it; but the opinion of all lawyers, the unanimous cry of the nation, and the good of the state, are in themselves a law.
“LIBERTY and property” is the great national cry of the English. It is certainly better than" St. George and my right,” or “St. Denis and Mont-joie;" it is, the cry of nature.