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Egyptian lord. It is evident from the text, that they believed the God of the Egyptians and of the Jews, had discovered to this minister the theft of his cup.
Here then we have auguries or divination clearly established in the book of Genesis ; so clearly, that it is afterwards forbidden in Leviticus.--" Ye shall not eat anything with the blood: neither shall ye use enchantment nor observe times. Ye shall pot round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard."
As for the superstition of seeing the future in a cup, it still exists, and is called seeing in the glass. The individual must never have known pollution; he must turn towards the east, and pronounce the words“ Abraxa per dominum nostrum,”—after which he will see in a glass of water whatever he pleases. Children were usually chosen for this operation. They must retain their hair: a shaven head, or one wearing a wig, can see nothing in the glass. This pastime was much in vogue in France, during the regency of the. Duke of Orleans, and still more so in the times preceding.
As for auguries, they perished with the Roman empire. Only the bishops have retained the augurial staff, called the crosier, which was the distinctive mark of the dignity of augur; so that the symbol of falsehood has become the symbol of truth.
There were innumerable kinds of divinations, of which several have reached our latter ages.
This curiosity to read the future, is a malady which only philosophy can cure; for the weak minds that still practise these pretended arts of divination, even the fools who give themselves to the Devil, all make religion subservient to these profanations, by which it is outraged.
It is an observation worthy of the wise, that Cicero, who was one of the college of augurs, wrote a book for the sole purpose of turning auguries into ridicule; but they have likewise remarked that Cicero, at the end of his book says, that “superstition should be destroyed, but not religion. For," he adds, “ the beauty of the universe, and the order of the heavenly bodies, force us to acknowledge an eternal and powerful nature. We must maintain the religion which is joined with the knowledge of this nature, by utterly extirpating superstition; for it is a monster which pursues and presses us on every side. The meeting with a pretended diviner, a presage, an immolated victim, a bird, a Chaldean, an aruspice, a flash of lightning, a clap of thunder, an event accidentally corresponding with what has been foretold to us, everything disturbs and makes us uneasy; sleep itself, which should make us forget all these pains and fears, serves but to redouble them by frightful images."
* Genesis, chap. xix. v. 26–7.
Cicero thought he was addressing only a few Romans; but he was speaking to all men and all ages.
Most of the great men of Rome no more believed in auguries, than Alexander VI. Julius II. and Leo X. believed in Our Lady of Loretto and the blood of St. Januarius. However, Suetonius relates that Octavius, surnamed Augustus, was so weak, as to believe that a fish, which leaped from the sea upon the shore at Actium, foreboded that he should gain the battle. He adds, that having afterwards met an ass-driver, he asked him the name of his ass; and the man having answered that his ass was named Nicholas, which signifies conqueror
of nations, he had no longer any doubts about the victory; and that he afterwards had brazen statues erected to the ass-driver, the ass, and the jumping fish. He further assures us, that these statues were placed in the Capitol.
It is very likely that this able tyrant laughed at the superstitions of the Romans, and that his ass, the driver, and the fish, were nothing more than a joke. But it is no less likely that, while he despised all the follies of the vulgar, he had a few of his own. The barbarous and dissimulating Louis XI. had a firm faith in the cross of St. Louis. Almost all princes, excepting such as have had time to read, and read to advantage, are in some degree infected with superstition.
AUGUSTINE. AUGUSTINE, a native of Tagaste, is here to be considered, not as a bishop, a doctor, a father of the Church, but simply as a man. This is a question in physics, respecting the climate of Africa.
When a youth, Augustine was a great libertine; and the spirit was no less quick in him than the flesh. He says,* that before he was twenty years old, he had learned arithmetic, geometry, and 'music, without a master.
Does not this prove that, in Africa, which we now call Barbary, both minds and bodies advance to maturity more rapidly than amongst us?
These valuable advantages of St. Augustine, would lead one to believe that Empedocles was not altogether in the wrong, when he regarded fire as the principle of nature. It is assisted, but by subordinate agents. It is like a king governing the actions of all his subjects, and sometimes inflaming the imaginations of his people rather too much. It is not without reason that Syphax says to Juba, in the Cato of Addison, that the sun which rolls its fiery car over African heads, places a deeper tinge upon the cheeks, and a fiercer flame within their hearts. That the dames of Zama are vastly superior to the pale beauties of the north :
The glowing dames of Zama's royal court
The pale unripened beauties of the north. Where shall we find in Paris, Strasburgh, Ratisbon, or Vienna, young men who have learned arithmetic, the mathematics, and music, without assistance, and who have been fathers at fourteen?
Doubtless it is no fable that Atlas, prince of Mauritania, called by the Greeks the son of heaven, was a celebrated astronomer, and constructed a celestial sphere, such as the Chinese have had for so many ages. The ancients, who expressed everything in alle
* Confessions, book iv, chap. 16.
gory, likened this prince to the mountain which bears his name, because it lifts its head above the clouds, which have been called the heavens by all mankind who have judged of things only from the testimony of their eyes.
These Moors cultivated the sciences with success, and taught Spain and Italy for five centuries. Things are greatly altered. The country of Augustine is now but a den of pirates; while England, Italy, Germany, and France, which were involved in barbarism, are greater cultivators of the arts than ever the Arabians
Our only object, then, in this article, is to show how changeable a scene this world is. Augustine, from a debauchee, becomes an orator and a philosopher; he puts himself forward in the world; he teaches rhetoric; he turns Manichean, and from Manicheism passes to Christianity. He causes himself to be baptized, together with one of his bastards, named Deodatus; he becomes a bishop, and a father of the Church, His system of grace
has been reverenced for eleven hundred years, as an article of faith. At the end of eleven hundred years, some Jesuits find means to procure an anathema against Augustine's system, word for word, under the names of Jansenius, St. Cyril, Arnaud, and Quesnel.* We ask if this revolution is not, in its kind, as great as that of Africa; and if there be anything permanent upon earth?
The Morals of Augustus. MANNERS can be known only from facts, which facts must be incontestable. It is beyond a doubt that this man, so immoderately praised as the restorer of morals and of laws, was long one of the most infamous debauchees in the Roman commonwealth. His epigram on
* See GRACE.
Fulvia, written after the horrors of the proscriptions, proves that he was no less a despiser of decency in his language than he was a barbarian in his conduct. This abominable epigram is one of the strongest testimonies to Augustus's infamous immorality. Sextus Pompeius also reproached him with shameful weaknesses—“Effeminatum infectatus est.” Anthony, before the triumvirate, declared that Cæsar, great uncle to Augustus, had adopted him as his son, only because he had been subservient to his pleasures—"adoptionem avunculi stupro meritum.”
Lucius Cæsar charged him with the same crime; and even asserted that he had been base enough to sell himself to Hirtius for a
He was so shameless as to take the wife of a consul from her husband in the midst of a supper; he took her to a neighbouring closet, staid with her there for some time, and brought her back to table, without himself, the woman, or her husband blushing at all at the proceeding.
We have also a letter from Anthony to Augustus, couched in these terms—“ Ita valeas ut hanc epistolam cùm leges, non inieris Testullam, aut Terentillam, aut Russillam, aut Salviam, aut omnes. Anne refert ubi et in quam arrigas ?" We are afraid to translate this licentious letter.
Nothing is better known than the scandalous feast of five of the companions of his pleasures with five of the principal women of Rome They were dressed up as gods and goddesses, and imitated all the immodesties invented in fable
Dum nova Divorum cænat adulteria. And on the stage he was publicly designated by this famous line
Videsne ut cinædus orbem digito temperet? Almost every Latin author that speaks of Ovid,
* See article VELETRI.