Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

the other, nor is himself understood. In these disputes, one has in bis head the power of acting; a second, the power of willing; a third, the desire of executing : each revolves in his own circle, and they never meet. It is the same with quarrels about grace.

Who can understand its nature, its operations, the sufficiency which is not sufficient, and the efficacy which is in-effectual ?*

The words substantial form were pronounced for two thousand years without suggesting the least notion. For these, plastic natures have been substituted, but still without any thing being gained.

A traveller, stopped in his way by a torrent, asks a villager on the opposite bank to show him the ford :

Go to the right,” shouts the countryman:-He takes the right and is drowned. The other runs up crying-—“Oh! how unfortunate! I did not tell him to go to his right, but to mine !"

The world is full of these misunderstandings. How will a Norwegian, when reading this formula, Servant of the Servants of God, discover that it is the Bishop of Bishops, and King of Kings, who speaks?

At the time when the Fragments of Petronius made a great noise in the literary world, Meibomius, a noted learned man of Lubeck, read in the printed letter of another learned man of Bologna—“We have here an entire Petronius, which I have seen with my own eyes and admired;"-Habemus hic Petronium integrum, quem vidi meis oculis non sine admiratione. He immes diately set out for Italy, hastened to Bologna, went to the librarian Capponi, and asked him if it were true that they had the entire Petronius at Bologna. Capponi answered that it was a fact which had long been public. “ Can I see this Petronius ?-Be so good as to show him to me.” “Nothing is more easy,” said Capponi. He then took him to the church in which the body of St. Petronius was laid. Meibomius ordered horses and fled.

* In the same way, man is powerless as to good, and (of him. self) adequate only to evil, and yet an accountable creature.-T.

[ocr errors]

If the Jesuit Daniel took a warlike abbot, abbatem martialem, for the abbot Martial, a hundred historians have fallen into still greater mistakes. The Jesuit d'Orleans, in his Revolutions of England, wrote indifferently Northampton or Southampton, only mistaking the north for the south, or vice versa.

Metaphysical terms, taken in their proper sense, have sometimes determined the opinion of twenty nations. Every one knows the metaphor of Isaiah, How hast thou fallen from heaven, thou star which rose in the morning ? This discourse was imagined to have been addressed to the Devil; and as the Hebrew word answering to the planet Venus was rendered in Latin by the word Lucifer, the Devil has ever since beeri called Lucifer. *

Much ridicule has been bestowed on the Chart of the Tender Passion by Madlle. Seuderi. The lovers embark on the river Tendre; they dine at Tendre sur Estime, sup at Tendre sur Inclination, sleep at Tendre sur Désir, find themselves the next morning at Tendre sur Passion, and lastly at Tendre sur Tendre. These ideas may be ridiculous, especially when Clelia, Horatius Coclés, and other rude and austere Romans, set out on the voyage : but this geographical chart at least shows us that Love has various lodgings; and that the same word does not always signify the same thing. There is a prodigious difference between the love of Tarquin and that of Celadon-between David's love for Jonathan, which was stronger than that of women, and the abbé Desfontaines' love for little chimney-sweepers.f

The most singular instance of this abuse of words these voluntary equivoques--these misunderstandings which have caused so many quarrels,-is the Chinese King-tien." The missionaries having violent disputes about the meaning of this word, the Court of Rome sent a Frenchman, named Maigrot, whom they made the imaginary bishop of a province in China, to adjust

See Beker and Device + Materials for anglicising a note upon this allusion, have abounded of late, and that without departing from the sacred profession of which the Rev. Abbé was so worthy a member.-T.

[ocr errors]

the difference. Maigrot did not know a word of Chinese ; but the emperor deigned to grant that he should be told what he understood by King-tien. Maigrot would not believe what was told him, but caused the emperor of China to be condemned at Rome!

The abuse of words is an inexhaustible subject. In history, in morality, in jurisprudence, in medicine, bat especially in theology, beware of ambiguity.

ACADEMY Academies are to universities, as maturity is to childhood, oratory to grammar, or politeness to the first lessons in civility. Academies, not being stipendiary, ought to be entirely free: such were the academies of Italy; such is the French Academy; and such, more particularly, is the Royal Society of London.

The French Academy, which formed itself, received, it is true, letters patent from Louis XIII., but without any salary, and consequently without any subjection: hence it was that the first men in the kingdom, and even princes, sought admission into this illustrious body. The Society of London has possessed the same advantage. :: The celebrated Colbert, being a member of the French Academy, employed some of his brethren to compose inscriptions and devices for the public buildings. This assembly, to which Boileau and Racine afterwards belonged, soon became an academy of itself. The establishment of this Academy of Inscriptions, now called that of the Belles-Lettres, máy, indeed, be dated from the year 1661, and that of the Academy of Sciences from 1666. We are indebted for both establishments to the same minister, who contributed in so many ways to the splendour of the age of Louis XIV.

After the deaths of Jean Baptiste. Colbert and the Marquis de Louvois, when Count de Pontchartrain, secretary of state, had the department of Paris, he entrusted the government of the new academies to his nephew, the abbé Bignon. Then were first dévised honorary fellowships requiring no learning, and with

**

ont' remuneration; places with salaries disagreeably distinguished from the former; fellowships without salaries; and scholarships, a title still more disagreeable, which has since been suppressed. The Academy of the Belles-lettres was put on the same footing; both submitted to the immediate control of the secretary of state, and to the revolting distinction of honoraries, pensionaries, and pupils.

The abbé Bignon ventured to propose the same regulation to the French Academy, of which he was a member; but he was heard with unanimous indignation. The least opulent in the Academy were the first to reject his offers, and to prefer liberty to pena sions and honours. The abbé Bignou, who, in the laudable intention of doing good, had dealt too freely with the noble sentiments of his brethren, never again -set his foot in the French Academy.

The word Academy became so celebrated, that when Lulli, who was a sort of favourite, obtained the establishment of his Opera, in 1692, he had interest enough to get inserted in the patent, that it was a Royal Academy of Music, in which Ladies and Gentlemen might sing without demeaning themselves. He did not confer the same honour on the dancers; the public, however, have always continued to go to the Opera, but never' to the Academy of Music.

It is known that the word Academy, borrowed from the Greeks, originally signified a society or school of philosophy at Athens, which met in a garden bequeathed to it by Academus.

The Italians were the first who instituted such so cieties after the revival of letters; the academy Della Crusca is of the sixteenth century. Academies were afterwards established in every town where the sciences were cultivated.

The Society of London has never taken the title of Academy.

The provincial academies have been of signal advantage. They have given birth to emulation, forced youth io labour, introduced them to a course of good reading, dissipated the ignorance and prejudices of some of our towns, fostered a spirit of politeness, and, as far as it is possible, destroyed pedantry.

Scarcely anything has been written against the French Academy, except frivolous and insipid pleasantries. St. Evremond's comedy of The Academicians had some reputation in its time; but a proof of the little merit it possessed is, that it is now forgotten; whereas, the good satires of Boileau are immortal.

ADAM.

SECTION I. So much has been said and so much written concerning Adam, his wife, the Preadamites, &c. and the Rabbis have put forth so many idle stories respecting Adam, and it is so dull to repeat what others have said before, that I shall here hazard an idea entirely new,-one, at least, which is not to be found in any ancient author, father of the church, preacher, theologian, critic, or scholiast, with whom I am acquainted. I mean the profound secresy with respect to Adam which was observed throughout the habitable earth, Palestine only excepted, until the time when the Jewish books began to be known in Alexandria, and were translated into Greek under one of the Ptolemies. Still they were very little known; for large books were very rare and very dear. Besides, the Jews of Jerusalem were so incensed against those of Alexandria, loaded them with so many reproaches for having translated their Bible into a profane tongue, called them so many ill names, and cried so loudly to the Lord, that the Alexandrian Jews concealed their translation as much as possible : it was so secret, that no Greek or Roman author speaks of it before the time of the emperor Aurelian.

* Notwithstanding the ingenuity of Voltaire, there is much to be said on both sides. Dependent academies are only Staté Engines; and those which are independent, too likely to become sleepy poneutities, or jealous and intolerant factions. Proviucial societics may be serviceable for a season, and probably are so.--T.

« AnteriorContinuar »