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sert 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 a; 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 sonIsaac, 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.

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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 Count Cagliostro, both in France and England, since the time of Voltaire, proves that the credulity has not been long extinct, if it be intirely so at present. The aforesaid count, like the marquis here spoken of, knew how to turn the follies of people of quality to his own account, as his scheme of a revived order of Egyptian masoury in London proved. There was to be a female brauch, and several women of fashion, to add to the splendour of some silly ceremony, lent their jewels, which, it is needless to observe, they never 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 the preteusion to form diamonds by a chemical process, is not much unlike the elder folly. Science has, and ever had," bubbles as the water bath." The something 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

more so.

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, he 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..

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ALCORAN,

OR, MORE PROPERLY, THE KORAN.

SECTION 1.

THIS book governs with despotic sway the whole of northern Africa, from Mount Atlas to the desert of Barca, the whole of Egypt, the coasts of the Ethiopian Sea to the extent of six hundred leagues, Syria, Asia Minor, all the countries round the Black and the Caspian Seas (excepting the kingdom of Astracan) the whole empire of Hindostan, all Persia, a great part of Tartary; and in Europe, Thrace, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Servia, Bosnia, Greece, Epirus, and nearly all the islands as far as the little strait of Otranto, which terminates these immense possessions.

In this prodigious extent of country there is not a single Mahometan who has the happiness of reading our sacred books; and very few of our literati are acquainted with the Koran, of which we almost always form a ridiculous idea, notwithstanding the researches of our really learned men.

The first lines of this book are as follow:-" Praise to God, the sovereign of all worlds-to the God of mercy, the sovereign of the day of justice! Thee we adore! to thee only do we look for protection. Lead us in the right way-in the way of those whom thou hast loaded with thy graces, and not in the way of the objects of thy wrath-of them who have gone astray.'

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Such is the introduction. Then come three letters, A, L, M, which, according to the learned Sale, are not understood, for each commentator explains them in his own way; but the most common opinion is, that they signify Ali, Latif, Magid-God, Grace, Glory.

God himself then speaks to Mahomet in these words:

"This book admitteth not of doubt. It is for the direction of the just, who believe in the depths of the faith, who observe the times of prayer, who distribute

in alms what it hath pleased me to give them, who believe in the revelation which hath descended to thee, and was delivered to the prophets before thee. Let the faithful have a firm assurance in the life to come; let them be directed by their Lord; and they shall be happy."

"As for unbelievers, it mattereth not whether thou callest them or no: they do not believe; the seal of unbelief is on their hearts and on their ears; a terrible punishment awaiteth them.

"There are some who say, "We believe in God and in the Last Day, but in their hearts they are unbelievers. They think to deceive the Eternal; they deceive themselves without knowing it. Infirmity is in their hearts, and God himself increaseth this infirmity," &c.

These words are said to have incomparably more energy in Arabic. Indeed, the Koran still passes for the most elegant and most sublime book which has been written in that language.

1

We have imputed to the Koran a great number of foolish things which it never contained. It was chiefly against the Turks, who had become Mahometans, that our monks wrote so many books, at a time when no other opposition was of much service against the conquerors of Constantinople. Our authors, much more numerous than the Janissaries, had no great difficulty in ranging our women on their side; they persuaded them that Mahomet looked upon them merely as intelligent animals; that, by the laws of the Koran, they were all slaves, having no property in this world, nor any share in the Paradise of the next. The falsehood of all this is evident; yet it has all been firmly believed.

It was, however, only necessary, in order to discover the deception, to have read the fourth sura or chapter of the Koran, in which would have been found the following laws, translated in the same manner by Du Ryer, who resided for a long time at Constantinople; by Maracci, who never went there; and by Sale, who lived twenty-five years among the Arabs.

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