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IX. at the States of Orleans, in 1560:-"By the advice of our council, and in pursuance of the decrees of the Holy Councils, the ancient ordinances of the kings our predecessors, and the decisions of our courts of parliament, we order that all conveying of gold and silver out of our kingdom, and paying of money under the name of annats, vacant or otherwise, shall cease, on pain of a four-fold penalty on the offenders."
This law, promulgated in the general assembly of the nation, must have seemed irrevocable: but, two years afterwards, the same prince, subdued by the court of Rome, at that time powerful, re-established what the whole nation and himself had abrogated.
Henry IV. who feared no danger, but feared Rome, confirmed the annats by an edict of the 22d of January, 1596.
Three celebrated jurisconsults, Dumoulin, Lannoy, and Duaren, have written strongly against annats, which they call a real simony. If, in default of their payment, the pope refuses his bulls, Duaren advises the Gallican church to imitate that of Spain, which, in the twelfth council of Toledo, charged the archbishop of that city, on the pope's refusal, to provide for the prelates appointed by the king.
It is one of the most certain maxims of French law, consecrated by article fourteen of our liberties,* that the bishop of Rome has no right over the temporalities of benefices, but enjoys the revenue of annats only by the king's permission. But ought there not to be a term to this permission? What avails our enlightenment, if we are always to retain our abuses?
The amount of the sums which have been and still are paid to the pope, is truly frightful. The attorneygeneral Jean de St. Romain has remarked that, in the time of Pius II. twenty-two bishoprics having become vacant in France in the space of three years, it was necessary to carry to Rome a hundred and twenty thousand crowns; that sixty-one abbeys having also
* See LIBERTIES-a very improper word to express natural and imprescriptible rights.
become vacant, the like sum had been paid to the court of Rome; that, about the same time, there had been paid to this court for provisions for the priorships, deaneries, and other inferior dignities, a thousand crowns; that for each curate there was at least a grâce expectative, which was sold for twenty-five crowns; besides an infinite number of dispensations, amounting to two millions of crowns. St. Romain lived in the time of Louis XI. Judge, then, what these sums would now amount to. Judge how much other states have given. Judge whether the Roman commonwealth, in the time of Lucullus, drew more gold and silver from the nations conquered by its sword, than the popes, the fathers of those same nations, have drawn from them by their pens.
Supposing that St. Romain's calculation is too high by half, which is very unlikely, does there not still remain a sum sufficiently considerable to entitle us to call the apostolical chamber to an account, and demand restitution, seeing that there is nothing at all apostolical in such an amount of money? *
THEY are said to have been a small sect of the fourth century; but they were rather the sect of every people that had painters and sculptors. As soon as they could draw a little or shape a figure, they made an image of the Divinity.
If the Egyptians consecrated cats and gnats, they also sculptured Isis and Osiris. Bel was carved at Babylon, Hercules at Tyre, Brahma in India.
The Mussulmans did not paint God as a man. The Guebres had no image of the Great Being. The Sabean Arabs did not give the human figure to the stars. The Jews did not give it to God, in their temple. None of these nations cultivated the art of design; and if Solomon placed figures of animals in his temple, it is
* We leave this article, although the abuse no longer exists in France, to show the nature of the labours of Voltaire, and of the pactices which he did so much to overthrow. An Irish Voltairé would be an amazingly useful personage; Swift was something of the kind, but alas, he was a Dean!-T.
likely that he had them carved at Tyre; but all the Jews have spoken of God as of a man.
Although they had no images, they seem to have made God a man on all occasions. He comes down into the garden; he walks there every day at noon; he talks to his creatures; he talks to the serpent; he makes himself heard by Moses, in the bush; he shows him only his back parts on the mountain; he nevertheless talks to him, face to face, like one friend to another.
In the Koran, too, God is always looked upon as a king. In the twelfth chapter, a throne is given him above the waters. He had this Koran written by a secretary, as kings have their orders. He sent this same Koran to Mahomet, by the angel Gabriel, as kings communicate their orders through the great officers of the crown. In short, although God is declared in the Koran to be neither begetting nor begotten, there is ne-' vertheless a morsel of anthropomorphism.
In the Greek and Latin churches, God has always been painted with a great beard.*
THE reading of the whole poem of the late Cardinal Polignac has confirmed me in the idea which I formed of it when he read to me the first book. I am moreover astonished that, amidst the dissipations of the world and the troubles of public life, he should have been able to write a long work in verse, in a foreign language;-he, who could hardly have made four good lines in his own tongue. It seems to me that he often united the strength of Lucretius and the elegance of Virgil. I admire him, above all, for that facility with which he expresses such difficult things.
Perhaps, indeed, his Anti-Lucretius is too diffuse, and too little diversified; but he is here to be examined as a philosopher, not as a poet. It appears to me that so fine a mind as his should have done more justice to the morals of Epicurus, who, though he was really a very bad natural philosopher, was nevertheless a very worthy man, and always taught mildness, temperance,
See, in the article EMBLEM, the verses of Orpheus and Xenophanes.
moderation, and justice, virtues which his example inculcated still more forcibly.
In the Anti-Lucretius, this great man is thus apostrophised
Si virtutis eras avidus, rectique bonique
If virtue, justice, goodness, were thy care,
No, no-the worst of men, the worst of crimes
But Epicurus might reply to the cardinal: "If I had had the happiness of knowing, like you, the true God, of being born, like you, in a pure and holy religion, I should certainly not have rejected that revealed God, whose tenets were necessarily unknown to my mind, but whose morality was in my heart. I could not admit the existence of such gods as were announced to me by paganism. I was too rational to adore divinities made to spring from a father and a mother, like mortals, and like them, to make war upon one another. I was too great a friend to virtue, not to hate a religion which now invited to crime by the example of those gods themselves, and now sold for money the remission of the most horrible enormities. I beheld, on one hand, infatuated men, stained with vices, and seeking to purify themselves before impure gods; and on the other, knaves who boasted that they could justify the most perverse by initiating them in mysteries, by dropping bullock's blood on their heads, or by dipping them in the waters of the Gant ges. I beheld the most unjust wars undertaken with perfect sanctity, so soon as a ram's liver was found unspotted, or a woman, with hair dishevelled and roll
ing eyes, uttered words of which neither she nor any one else knew the meaning. In short, I beheld all the countries of the earth stained with the blood of human victims, sacrificed by barbarous pontiffs to barbarous gods. I consider that I did well to detest such religions. Mine is virtue. I exhorted my disciples not to meddle with the affairs of this world, because they were horribly governed. A true Epicurean was mild, moderate, just, amiable-a man of whom no society had to complain-one who did not pay executioners to assassinate in public those who thought differently from himself. From hence to the holy religion in which you have been bred, there is but one step. I destroyed the false gods; and, had I lived in your day, I would have recognized the true ones.
Thus might Epicurus justify himself concerning his error. He might even entitle himself to pardon respecting the dogma of the immortality of the soul, by saying: Pity me for having combated a truth which God revealed five hundred years after my birth. I thought like all the first Pagan legislators of the world; and they were all ignorant of this truth."
I wish then, that Cardinal Polignac had pitied while he condemned Epicurus: it would have been no detriment to fine poetry.
With regard to physics, it appears to me that the author has lost much time and many verses in refuting the declination of atoms and the other absurdities which swarm in the poem of Lucretius. This is employing artillery to destroy a cottage. Besides, why remove Lucretius's reveries to substitute those of Descartes?
Cardinal Polignac has inserted in his poem some very fine lines on the discoveries of Newton; but in these, unfortunately for himself, he combats demonstrated truths. The philosophy of Newton is not to be discussed in verse; it is scarcely to be approached in prose. Founded altogether on geometry, the genius of poetry is not fit to assail it. The surface of these truths may be decorated with fine verses; but to fathom them, calculation is requisite, and not verse: