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met had accustomed a pigeon to eat grain out of his ear, and made his followers believe that this pigeon brought him messages from God ?
Is it not enough for us, that we are persuaded of the falseness of his sect, and invincibly convinced by faith of the truth of our own, without losing our time in calumniating the Mahometans, who have established themselves from Mount Caucasus to Mount Atlas, and from the confines of Epirus to the extremities of India? We are incessantly writing bad books against them, of which they know nothing. We cry
out that their religion has been embraced by so many nations only because it flatters the senses. But where is the sensuality in ordering abstinence from the wine and liquors in which we indulge to such excess; in pronouncing to every one an indispensable command to give to the poor each year two and a half his income, to fast with the greatest rigour, to undergo a painful operation in the earliest stage of puberty, to make, over arid sands, a pilgrimage of sometimes five hundred leagues, and to pray to God five times a day, even when in the field ?
But, say you, they are allowed four wives in this world, and in the next they will have celestial brides. Grotius expressly says_“It must have required a great share of stupidity to admit reveries so gross and disgusting.”
We agree with Grotius, that the Mahometans have been prodigal of reveries. The man who was constantly receiving the chapters of his Koran from the angel Gabriel, was worse than a visionary; he was an impostor, who supported his seductions by his courage: but certainly there was nothing either stupid or sensual in reducing to four the unlimited number of wives whom the princes, the satraps, the nabobs, and the omrahs of the East kept in their seraglios. It is said that Solomon had three hundred wives and seven hundred concubines. The Arabs, like the Jews, were at liberty to marry two sisters; Mahomet was the first who forbade these marriages. Where, then, is the grossness?
And with regard to the celestial brides, where is the impurity ? Certes, there is nothing impure in marriage, which is acknowledged to have been ordained on earth, and blessed by God himself. The incomprehensible mystery of generation is the seal of the Eternal Being. It is the clearest mark of his power, that he has created pleasure, and through that very pleasure perpetuated all sensible beings.
If we consult our reason alone, it will tell us that it is very likely that the Eternal Being, who does nothing in vain, will not cause us to rise again with our organs to no purpose. It will not be unworthy of the Divine Majesty to feed us with delicious fruits, if he cause us to rise again with stomachs to receive them. The Holy Scriptures inform us that, in the beginning, God placed the first man and the first woman in a paradise of delights. They were then in a state of innocence and glory, incapable of experiencing disease or death. This is nearly the state in which the just will be when, after their resurrection, they shall be for all eternity what our first parents were for a few days. Those, then, must be pardoned, who have thought that, having a body, that body will be constantly satisfied. Fathers of the Church had no other idea of the heavenly Jerusalem. St. Irenæus says,
" that there each vine shall bear ten thousand branches, each branch ten thousand clusters, and each cluster ten thousand grapes,” &c.*
Several Fathers of the Church have, indeed, thought that the blessed in heaven would enjoy all their senses. St. Thomas says, that the sense of seeing will be infinitely perfect; that the elements will be so too; that the surface of the earth will be transparent as glass, 'the water like crystal, the air like the heavens, and the fire like the stars.t
St. Augustin, in his Christian Doctrine, says, that the sense of hearing will enjoy the pleasures of singing and of speech. I
* Book v. chap. 33. + Commentary on Genesis, vol. ii, book 4.
Chap. ii, iii. No. 149.
One of our great Italian theologians, named Piazza, in his Dissertation on Paradise, informs us that the elect will for ever sing and play the guitar: they will have, says he, three nobilities—three advantages, viz. desire without excitement, caresses without wantonness, and voluptuousness without excess:
_“ tres nobilitates; illecebra sine titillatione, blanditia sine mollitudine, et voluptas sine exuberantià."
St. Thomas assures us that the smell of the glorified bodies will be perfect, and will not be diminished by perspiration.-"Corporibus gloriosi serit odor ultima perfectione, nullo modo per humidum repressus.”+ This question has been profoundly treated by a great many other doctors.
Suarez, in his Wisdom, thus expresses himself concerning taste :—“ It is not difficult for God purposely to make some sapid humour act on the organ of taste.”—“ Non est Deo difficile facere ut sapidus humor sit intrà organum gustus, qui sensum illum intentionaliter afficere.”I
And, to conclude, St. Prosper, recapitulating the whole, pronounces that the blessed shall find gratification without satiety, and enjoy health without disease;" Saturitas sine fastidio, et tota sanitas sine morbo."
It is not then so much to be wondered at that the Mahometans have admitted the use of the five senses in their paradise. They say that the first beatitude will be the union with God; but this does not exclude the rest.
Mahomet's paradise is a fable; but once more be it observed, there is in it neither contradiction nor impurity.
Philosophy requires clear and precise ideas, which Grotius had not. He quotes a great deal, and makes a show of reasoning, which will not bear a close examination.
The unjust imputations cast on the Mahometans would suffice to make a very large book. They have subjugated one of the largest and most beautiful countries
* Supplement, part iii. quest. 84.
I Book xvi. chap. 22.
upon earth; to drive them from it would have been a finer exploit than to abuse them.
The Empress of Russia supplies a great example. She takes from them Azoph and Tangarok, Moldavia, Wallachia, and Georgia; she pushes her conquests to the ramparts of Erzerum; she sends against them fleets from the remotest parts of the Baltic, and others covering the Euxine: but she does not say in her manifestos, that a pigeon whispered in Mahomet's ear.
ART OF POETRY. A man of almost universal learning-a man even of genius, who joins philosophy with imagination, uses, in his excellent article ENCYCLOPEDIA, these remarkable words—“ If we except this Perrault, and some others, whose merits the versifier Boileau was not capable of appreciating,” &c.*
This philosopher is right in doing justice to Claude Perrault, the learned translator of Vitruvius, a man useful in more arts than one, and to whom we are indebted for the fine front of the Louvre and for other great monuments; but justice should also be rendered to Boileau. Had he been only a versifier, he would scarcely have been known; he would not have been one of the few great men who will hand down the age of Louis XIV. to posterity. His tart Satires, his fine Epistles, and, above all, his Art of Poetry, are master-pieces of reasoning as well as poetry;
sapere est principium et fons.” The art of versifying is, indeed, prodigiously difficult, especially in our language, where alexandrines follow one another two by two; where it is rare to avoid monotony; where it is absolutely necessary to rhyme; where 'noble and pleasing rhymes are too limited in number; and where a word out of its place, or a harsh syllable, is sufficient to spoil a happy thought. It is like dancing on a rope in fetters ; the greatest success is of itself nothing.
Boileau's Art of Poetry is to be admired, because he always says true and useful things in a pleasing manner, because he always gives both precept and example, and because he is varied, passing with perfect ease, and without ever failing in purity of language, From grave to gay,
from lively to severe. His reputation among men of taste is proved by the fact, that his verses are known by heart; and to philosophers it must be pleasing to find that he is almost always in the right.
As we have spoken of the preference which may sometimes be given to the moderns over the ancients, we will here venture to presume that Boileau's Art of Poetry is superior to that of Horace. Method is certainly a beauty in a didactic poem; and Horace has no method. We do not mention this as a reproach ; for his poem is a familiar epistle to the Pisos, and not a regular work like the Georgics : but there is this additional merit in Boileau, a merit for which philosophers should give him credit.
The Latin Art of Poetry does not seem near so finely laboured as the French. Horace expresses himself, almost throughout, in the free and familiar tone of his other epistles. He displays an extreme clearness of understanding and a refined taste, in verses which are happy and spirited, but often without connection, and sometimes destitute of harmony; he has not the elegance and correctness of Virgil. His work is very good, but Boileau's appears to be still better: and, if we except the tragedies of Racine, which have the superior merit of treating the passions and surmounting all the difficulties of the stage, Despréaux's Art of Poetry is, indisputably, the poem which does most honour to the French language.
It is lamentable when philosophers are enemies to poetry. Literature should be like the house of Mæcenas -“ est locus unicuique suus.”
The author of the Persian · Letters—so easy to write, and among which some are very pretty, others