Imatges de pÓgina

for a standard ; and not a piece of money of twelve sous value in their pockets. Our coachmen have gold watches that the seven kings of Rome, the Camilluses, Manliuses, and Fabiuses, could not have paid for.

If by chance the wife of a receiver-general of finances was to have this chapter read at her toilette by the bel-esprit of the house, she would have a strange contempt for the Romans of the three first centuries and would not allow a Manlius, Curius, or Fabius to enter her antichamber, should he come on foot and not have wherewithal to take his part at play.

Their ready money was of brass. It served at once for arms and money.

They fought and reckoned with brass. Three or four pounds of brass of twelve ounces weight paid for an ox. They bought necessaries at market, as we buy them at present, and men had, as in all times, food, clothing, and habitations. The Romans, poorer than their neighbours, conquered them, and continually augmented their territory for the space of five hundred years, before they coined silver money.

The soldiers of Gustavus Adolphus in Sweden had nothing but copper money for their pay, before they made conquests out of their own country.

Provided we have a pledge of exchange for the necessary things of life, commerce will continually go on. It signifies not whether this pledge be of shells or paper. Gold and silver have prevailed everywhere, only because they have been the most rare.

It was in Asia that the first manufactures of money of these two metals commenced, because Asia was the cradle of all the arts.

There certainly was no money in the Trojan war. Gold and silver passed by weight : Agamemnon might have had a treasure, but certainly no money.

What has made several hardy scholars suspect that the Pentateuch was not written until the time in which the Hebrews began to procure coins from their neighbours is, that: in more than one. passage mention is made of shekels. It is there said, that Abraham, who

[ocr errors]

was a stranger, and had not an inch of land in the country of Canaan, bought there a field and a cave in which to bury his wife, for four hundred shekels of sil. ver current money. The judicious Dom Calmet values this sum at four hundred and forty-eight livres, six sous, nine deniers, according to the ancient calculations adopted at random, in which the mark of silver was of six-and-twenty livres value. As the mark of silver has however increased by half the sum, the present value would be eight hundred and ninety-six livres.

Now, as in that time there was no coined money answering to the word 'pecunia,' that would make a little difficulty, from which it is not easy to extricate ourselves.

Another difficulty is, that in one place it is said that Abraham bought this field in Hebron, and in another in Sichem.I On that point consult the venerable Bede, Raban, Maure, and Emanuel Sa.

We will now speak of the riches which David left to Solomon in coined money. Some make it amount to twenty-one or twenty-two millions of French livres, others to five-and-twenty. There is no keeper of the royal treasure, nor tefterdan of the grand Turks, who can exactly compute the treasure of king Solomon; but the young bachelors of Oxford and the Sorbonne make out the amount without difficulty. ; I will not speak of the innumerable adventures which have happened to money since it has been stamped, marked, valued, altered, increased, buried, and stolen, having through all its transformations constantly remained the idol of mankind. It is so much loved, that among all christian princes there still exists an old law which is not to allow gold and silver to go out of their kingdoms. This law implies one of two things, either that these princes reign over fools who lavish their money in a foreign country for their pleasure, or that we must not pay our debts to foreigners. It is however clear that no person is foolish enough to give his money without reason, and that when we are in debt to a foreigner we should pay him either in bills of exchange, commodities, or legitimate coin. Thus this law has not been executed since we began to open our eyes—which is not long ago.

* Genesis xxiii. 16.

† The bold scholars, who, under this pretext and several others, attribute the Pentateuch to others than to Moses, further found their opinion on the evidences of St. Theodoret, Mazius, &c. They say, if St. Theodoret and Mazius affirm, that the book of Joshua was not written by Joshua, and is not the less admirable, can we not also believe, that the Pentateuch is very admirable without being written by Moses? See on this point the first book of the Critical History of the Old Testament, by the reverend father Simon of the Oratory. But whatever so many scholars may have said, it is clear that we should attach ourselves to the opinion of the holy Roman and apostolic church, the only infallible one. · Acts vii. 16. VOL. v.


There are many things to be said on coined money; as on the unjust and ridiculous augmentation of specie, which suddenly loses considerable sums to a state on the melting down again; on the re-stamping, with an augmentation of ideal value, which augmentation invites all your neighbours and all your enemies to re-coin your money and gain at your expense : in short, on twenty other equally ruinous expedients. Several new books are full of judicious remarks upon this subject. It is more easy to write on money than to obtain it; and those who gain it, jest much at those who only know how to write about it.

In general, the art of government consists in taking as much money as possible from one part of the citizens to give to the other.

It is demanded, if it be possible radically to ruin a kingdom of which the soil in general is fertile? We answer, that the thing is not practicable, since from the war of 1689 to the end of 1769, in which we write, everything has continually been done which could ruin France and leave it without resource, and yet it never could be brought about. It is a sound body which has had a fever of eighty years with relapses, and which has been in the hands of quacks, but which will survive.*

* The truth of this paragraph has been amply proved, but it isequally evident that if ruin could not be produced by so

MONSTERS. THE definition of monsters is more difficult than is generally imagined. Are we to apply the term to animals of enormous size; to a fish, or a serpent fifteen feet long, for instance? There are some, however, that are twenty or even thirty feet long, in comparison with which of course the others, instead of enormous or monstrous, would appear small.

There are monsters through defect. But, if a generally well-made and handsome man were destitute from his birth of the little toes and little fingers, would he be a monster? Teeth are more necessary to a man: I have seen a man who never had a tooth. He was in other respects pleasing in his person. Even destitution of the organs of generation, still more necessary in the system of nature, would not constitute the person thus defective a monster.

There are monsters by excess as well as by defect. But those who have six fingers, or three testicles, or two perforations instead of one, or the spine elongated in the form of a small tail, are not considered monsters. · The third kind consists of those which have members of other animals; as for example, a lion with the wings of an ostrich, or a serpent with the wings of an eagle, like the griffin and ixion of the Jews. But all bats have wings, and flying fish have them, without being monsters.

Let us then reserve the name for animals whose deformities strike us with horror.

Yet the first negro, upon this idea, was a monster to white women; and the most admirable of European beauties was a monster in the negroes.

If Polyphemus and the Cyclops had really existed, people who carried an eye on each side of the root of much misgovernment, it rendered revolution inevitable. In fact, the French revolution was the natural effort of a diseased but robust body, to throw off a complication of disorders which could be borne no longer, and was as inevitable as fever in the natural body under similar circumstances.-T.


eyes of

the nose, would in the island of Lipari, and the neighbourhood of Mount Ætna, have been pronounced monsters. I

once saw, at a fair, a young woman with four nipples or rather dugs, and what resembled the tail of a cow hanging down between them. She was decidedly a monster when she displayed her neck, but was rather an agreeable woman in appearance when she concealed it.

Centaurs and Minotaurs would have been monsters, þut beautiful monsters. The well-proportioned body of a horse serving as a base or support to the upper part of a man, would have been a masterpiece of nature's workmanship ou earth; just as we draw the masterpieces of heaven, those spirits which we call angels, and which we paint and sculpture in our churches, adorned sometimes with two wings, sometimes with four, and sometimes even with six.

We have already asked, with the judicious Locke, what is the boundary of distinction between the human and merely animal figure; what is the point of monstrosity at which it would be proper to take your stand against baptizing an infant, against admitting it as a member of the human species, against according to it the possession of a soul? We have seen that this boundary is as difficult to be settled, as it is difficult to ascertain what a soul is; for there certainly are none who know what it is but theologians.

Why should the satyrs which St. Jerome saw, the offspring of women and baboons, have been reputed monsters? Might it not be thought, on the contrary, that their lot was in reality happier than our's?. Must they not have possessed more strength and more agility ? and would they not have laughed at us as an unfortunate race, to whom nature had refused both tails and clothing? A mule, the offspring of two different species; a jumart, the offspring of a bull and a mare; a tarin, the offspring, we are told, of a canarybird and hen linnet-are not monsters.

But how is it that mules, jumarts, and tarins, which are thus produced in nature, do not themselves re

« AnteriorContinua »