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coffers, and gave to the Christian couple the estate from which the sackful of earth had been taken.
It is certain, that far from injuring her husband, the wife, in this instance, acted conformably to his will, not only obeying him, but also saving his life. St. Augustin does not venture to decide on the guilt or virtue of this action; he is afraid to condemn it.
It is, in my opinion, very singular that Bayle should pretend to be more severe than St. Augustin.* He boldly condemns the poor woman.
This would be inconceivable, did we not know how much almost every writer has suffered his pen to belie his heart, —with what facility his own feelings have been sacrificed to the fear of enraging some evil-disposed pedant,-in a word, how inconsistent he has been with himself.
A Father's Reflection. A word on the contradictory education which we bestow upon our daughters. We inculcate an immoderate desire of pleasing; we dictate when nature does enough without us, and add to her lessons every refinement of art. When they are perfectly trained, we punish them if they put in practice the very arts which we have been so anxious to teach ! What should we think of a dancing-master, who, having taught a pupil for ten years, would break his leg because he had found him dancing with other people?
Might not this paragraph be added to the chapter of contradictions ?
AFFIRMATION ON OATH. We shall not say anything of the affirmations so frequently made use of by the learned. To affirm, to decide, is allowable only in geometry. In everything else let us imitate the Doctor Metaphrastes of Molière it may be so; the thing is feasible; it is not impossible; we shall see. Let us adopt Rabelais' perhaps, Montaigne's what know I? the Roman non liquet, or the doubt of the Athenian academy :--but only in profane matters be it understood, for in sacred things we are well aware that doubting is not permitted.
* Bayle's Dictionary-Article Acyndimus.
The primitives, in England called Quakers, are allowed to give testimony in a court of justice on their simple affirmation, without taking an oath. The peers of the realm have the same privilege—the lay peers affirming on their honour, and the bishops laying their hands on their hearts. The Quakers obtained it in the reign of Charles II. and are the only sect in Europe so honoured.
The Lord Chancellor Cowper wished to compel the Quakers to swear like other citizens. He who was then at their head said to him gravely—“Friend Chancellor, thou oughtest to know that our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ hath forbidden us to affirm otherwise than by yea or nay: he hath expressly said, I forbid thee to swear by heaven, because it is the throne of God; by the earth, because it is his footstool ; by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the king of kings; or by thy head, because thou canst not change the colour of a single hair. This, friend, is positive; and we will not disobey God to please thee and thy parliament.”—“It is impossible to argue better,” replied the Chancellor ; “ but be it known to thee, that Jupiter one day ordered all beasts of burden to get shed: horses, mules, and even camels, instantly obeyed; the asses alone resisted; they made so many representations, and brayed so long, that Jupiter, who was good-natured, at last said to them, Asses, 1
grant your prayer : you shall not be shod, but the first slip you make, you shall have a most sound cudgelling.'
It must be allowed that, hitherto, the Quakers have made no slips.
AGAR, OR HAGAR. When a man puts away his mistress-his friend the partner of his bed, he must either make her condition tolerably comfortable, or be regarded, amongst us, as a man of a bad heart.
We are told that Abraham was very rich in the desert of Gerar, although he did not possess an inch of land. However, we know with the greatest certainty that he defeated the armies of four great kings with three hundred and eighteen shepherds.
He should, then, at least have given a small flock to his mistress Agar, when he sent her away in the desert, I speak here according to worldly notions, always reverencing those incomprehensible ways, which are not our ways.
I would have given my old companion Agar a few sheep, a few goats, a few suits of clothes for herself and our son Ismael, a good she-ass for the mother and a pretty foal for the child, a camel to carry their luggage, and at least two servants to attend them and prevent them from being devoured by wolves.
But when the Father of the Faithful exposed his poor mistress and her child in the desert, he gave them only a loaf and a pitcher of water.
Some impious persons have asserted that Abraham was not a very tender father—that he wished to make his bastard son die of hunger and to cut his legitimate son's throat! But again let it be remembered, that these ways were not our ways.
It is said that poor Agar went away into the desert of Beer-sheba. There was no desert of Beer-sheba ; this name was not known until long after: but this is a mere trifle; the foundation of the story is not the less authentic.
It is true that the posterity of Agar's son Ismael took ample revenge on the posterity of Sarah's son Isaac, in favour of whom he had been cast out. The Saracens, descending in a right line from Ismael, made themselves masters of Jerusalem, which belonged by right of conquest to the posterity of Isaac. I would have made the Saracens descend from Sarah ; the etymology would then have been neater. It has been asserted that the word Saracen comes from sarac, a robber. I do not believe that any people have ever called themselves robbers ; nearly all have been robbers, but it is not usual for them to take the title. Saracen descending from Sarah, appears to me to sound better.
ALCHYMY. The emphatic al places the alchymist as much above the ordinary chymist, as the gold which he obtains is superior to other metals. Germany still swarms with people who seek the philosopher's stone, as the water of immortality has been sought in China, and the fountain of youth in Europe. In France, some have been known to ruin themselves in this pursuit.
The number of those who have believed in transmutations is prodigious, and the number of cheats has been in proportion to that of the credulous. At Paris we have seen Signor Dammi, marquis of Conventiglio, obtain some hundred louis from several of the nobility that he might make them gold to the amount of two or three crowns.
The best trick that has ever been performed in alchymy was that of a Rosicrucian who, in 1620, went to Henry, duke of Bouillon, of the house of Turenne, sovereign prince of Sedan, and addressed him as follows : “ You have not a sovereignty proportioned to your great courage, but I will make you richer than the Emperor. I cannot remain for more than two days in your states, having to go to Venice to hold
* The success of Commi Cagliostro, both in Fraure and Eng. land, since the time of Voltaire, proves that the creduliiy bas not beeu long extinct, if it be intirely so at present. The aforesaid count, like the marquis here spokeri of, kuew how to turn the follies of people of quality to his own account, as his scheme of a revived order of Egyptian masonry in Londoo proved. There was to be a female brauch, and several women of fashion, to aild to the splendour of some silly ceremony, lent their jewels, which, it is needless to observe, they vever saw again; but they were wise enough to prefer the loss to public ridicule. Modern Chemistry has done away with much of the delusive foundation of Alchymy, although ihe pretension to form diamonds by a chemical process, is vot much unlike the elder folly. Science has, and ever had, “ bubbles as the water bath." The some. ibing out of nothing, to be created by nominal sinking funds, and the clearance of public debt by the same, is not a jot less extravagant than the pretended gold-making—it is possibly
the grand assembly of the brethren; I only charge you to keep the secret. Send to the first apothecary of
your town for some litharge; throw into it one grain of the red powder which I will give you; put the whole into a crucible; and in a quarter of an hour you will have gold.”
The prince performed the operation, and repeated it three times, in presence of the virtuoso. This man had previously bought up all the litharge from the apothecaries of Sedan, and got it re-sold after mixing with it a few ounces of gold. The adept, on taking leave, made the Duke of Bouillon a present of all his transmuting powder.
The prince, having made three ounces of gold with three grains, doubted not that with three hundred thousand grains he should make three hundred thousand ounces, and that he should in a week possess eighteen thousand seven hundred and fifty pounds of gold, besides what he should afterwards make. It took at least three months to make this powder. The philosopher was in haste to depart; he was without anything, having given all to the prince, and wanted some ready money in order to hold the states-general of hermetic philosophy. He was a man very moderate in his desires, and asked only twenty thousand crowns for the expenses of his journey. The duke, ashamed to give so small a sum, presented him with forty thousand. When he had consumed all the litharge in Sedan, be made no more gold, nor ever more saw his philosopher or his forty thousand crowns.
All pretended alchymic transmutations have been performed nearly in the same manner. To change one natural production into another, as, for example, iron into silver, is a rather difficult operation, since it requires two things a little above our power-the annihilation of the iron and the creation of the silver.
We must not, however, reject all discoveries of secrets and all new inventions. It is with them as with theatrical pieces, there may be one good out of a thousand.