Voltaire XIV

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T H E R T . H O N . J O H N M O R L E Y  
F O R T Y - T H R E E V O L U M E S
brin you years oj tboupbt
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I impart yet I can pot s|
I have traveled arnons tbe
peoples o^ tbe eartb -^
am a rover-^ Oft-Urpes
I strc^ froro tbe/lresLde
cberlsbes n$e-aabo
^or!e*^%bould you/Lnd
n!e bon&e-an$oi$' n!y
brothers -on tbe bool^
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Limited to one thousand sets
for 4merica and 7reat 8ritain0
.8et"een t"o servants of 9umanity: "ho appeared
eighteen hundred years apart: the rf ;< a mysterious relation0
* * * Let us say it "ith a sentiment of
profound respect= >2U2 (+= 3OL+4I) 2?IL50
Of that divine tear and of that human smile is composed the
s"eetness of the present [email protected] ; ;
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ode0 It is proper that all things occupy their o"n
4Nect not strange terms of epression: or ne"
"ords: in a treatise on religion: lie the 4bbe 9oute-
ville J neither declaim in a physical treatise0 4void
pleasantry in the mathematics: and ourish and e-
travagant Kgures in a pleading0 If a poor intoi-
cated "oman dies of an apopley: you say that she
eclaim that her mortal remains are conKded to the
earth0 If the bell tolls at her burial: it is her
funeral nell ascending to the sies0 In all this you
thin you imitate #icero: and you only copy ?aster
ithout style: it is impossible that there can be a
good "or in any ind of elouence or poetry0 4
profusion of "ords is the great vice of all our mod-
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ern philosophers and anti-philosophers0 +he .2ys-
tlme de la 6ature. is a great proof of this truth0 It
is very diMcult to give just ideas of 7od and na-
ture: and perhaps eually so to form a good style0
4s the ind of eecution to be employed by every
artist depends upon the subject of "hich he treats
as the line of (oussin is not that of +eniers: nor
the architecture of a temple that of a common house:
nor music of a serious opera that of a comic one
so has each ind of "riting its proper style: both
in prose and verse0 It is obvious that the style of
history is not that of a funeral oration: and that the
despatch of an ambassador ought not to be "ritten
lie a sermon J that comedy is not to borro" the
boldness of the ode: the pathetic epression of the
tragedy: nor the metaphors and similes of the epic0
very species has its diNerent shades: "hich may:
ho"ever: be reduced to t"o: the simple and the ele-
vated0 +hese t"o inds: "hich embrace so many
others: possess essential beauties in common: "hich
beauties are accuracy of idea: adaptation: elegance:
propriety of epression: and purity of language0
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for these ualities J the diNerence consists in the em-
ployment of the corresponding tropes0 +hus: a
character in comedy "ill not utter sublime or philo-
sophical ideas: a shepherd spout the notions of a
conueror: not a didactic epistle breathe forth pas-
sion J and none of these forms of composition ought
to ehibit bold metaphor: pathetic eclamation: or
vehement epression0
many shades: and it is the art of adjusting them
"hich contributes to the perfection of elouence and
poetry0 It is by this art that 3irgil freuently ealts
the eclogue0 +his verse= Ut vidi ut peril: ut me
mains abstulit errorP Qclogue viii: v0 HDR I sa"0
I perished: yet indulged my painP Q5rydenR "ould
be as Kne in the mouth of 5ido as in that of a shep-
herd: because it is nature: true and elegant: and the
sentiment belongs to any condition0 8ut this =
: #astaneasue nuces me uas 4maryllis amabat0
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2uch as my 4maryllis used to love0
belongs not to an heroic personage: because the al-
lusion is not such as "ould be made by a hero0
 +hese t"o instances are eamples of the cases
in "hich the mingling of styles may be defended0
 +ragedy may occasionally stoopJ it even ought to
do so0 2implicity: according to the precept of 9or-
ace: often relieves grandeur0 t tragicus plerumuc
G (hilosophical
the tragic language humbly o"s QrancisR0
 +hese t"o verses in +itiis: so natural and so ten-
t crois toujours la voirpour fa premttrefois0
8)6I#: acte ii: scene I0
ach day: for Kve years: have I seen her face:
4nd each succeeding time appears the Krst0
"ould not be at all out of place in serious comedy J
but the follo"ing verse of 4ntiochus = 5ans I; orient
desert uel dcvint mon ennuiP QId0: acte i: scene HR
 +he lonely east: ho" "earisome to me P "ould not
suit a lover in comedyJ the Kgure of the .lonely
east. is too elevated for the simplicity of the busin0
e have already remared: that an author "ho
"rites on physics: in allusion to a "riter on physics:
called 9ercules: adds that he is not able to resist a
philosopher so po"erful0 4nother "ho has "ritten
a small boo: "hich he imagines to be physical and
moral: against the utility of inoculation: says that if
the smallpo be diNused artiKcially: death "ill be
tation0 +here is another "hich is the result of neg-
ligence: "hich is that of mingling "ith the simple
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taste0 e often read in [email protected]: and even in 5an-
iel: "ho: having "ritten so long after him: ought to
be more correct: that .a general pursued at the heels
5ictionary0 $
ind in Livy: +acitus: 7uicciardini: or #larendon0
Let us observe: that an author accustomed to this
ind of style can seldom change it "ith his subject0
In his operas: La ontaine composed in the style of
his fablesJ and 8enserade: in his translation of
Ovid;s .?etamorphoses:. ehibited the same ind
of pleasantry "hich rendered his madrigals success-
ful0 (erfection consists in no"ing ho" to adapt
our style to the various subjects of "hich "e treat J
but "ho is altogether the master of his habits: and
able to direct his genius at pleasure !
34)IOU2 2+,L2 5I2+I67UI2950
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 +he eeble0
eaness of the heart is not that of the mind:
nor "eaness of the soul that of the heart0 4 feeble
soul is "ithout resource in action: and abandons
itself to those "ho govern it0 +he heart "hich is
"ea or feeble is easily softened: changes its incli-
nations "ith facility: resists not the seduction or
the ascendency reuired: and may subsist "ith a
strong mindJ for "e may thin strongly and act
"ealy0 +he "ea mind receives impressions "ith-
out resistance: embraces opinions "ithout eami-
nation: is alarmed "ithout cause: and tends naturally
to superstition0
4 "or may be feeble either in its matter or its
IO (hilosophical
style J by the thoughts: "hen too common: or "hen:
being correct: they are not suMciently profoundJ
and by the style: "hen it is destitute of images: or
turns of epression: and of Kgures "hich rouse
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neral orations of ?ascaron are "ea: and his style
is lifeless0
very speech is feeble "hen it is not relieved by
ingenious turns: and by energetic epressions J but
a pleader is "ea: "hen: "ith all the aid of elo-
uence: and all the earnestness of action: he fails in
ratiocination0 6o philosophical "or is feeble: not-
"ithstanding the deKciency of its style: if the reason-
ing be correct and profound0 4 tragedy is "ea:
although the style be other"ise: "hen the interest is
not sustained0 +he best-"ritten comedy is feeble
if it fails in that "hich the Latins call the .vis com-
ica:. "hich is the defect pointed out by #aesar in
 +erence= .Lenibus atue utinant scriptis adjuncta
foret vis comical.
 +his is above all the sin of the "eeping or sen-
timental comedy QlarmoyanteR 0 eeble verses are
not those "hich sin against rules: but against gen-
iusJ "hich in their mechanism are "ithout va-
riety: "ithout choice epression: or felicitous inver-
sions J and "hich retain in poetry the simplicity and
homeliness of prose0 +he distinction cannot be bet-
ter comprehended than by a reference to the sim-
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.lo"ery/; that "hich is in blossom J a tree in
blossom: a rose-bush in blossom = people do not say:
o"ers "hich blossom0 Of o"ery bloom: the car-
nation seems a miture of "hite and rose-color0 e
sometimes say a o"ery mind: to signify a person
possessing a lighter species of literature: and "hose
imagination is lively0
than forcible0 +his metaphor is correctly taen from
o"ers: "hich are sho"y "ithout strength or sta-
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ment0 +he lighter beauties are in their place "hen
there is nothing more solid to say J but the o"ery
style should be banished from a pleading: a sermon:
or a didactic "or0
hile banishing the o"ery style: "e are not to
reject the soft and lively images "hich enter nat-
urally into the subject J a fe" o"ers are even ad-
missible J but the o"ery style cannot be made suit-
able to a serious subject0
 +his style belongs to productions of mere amuse-
ment J to idyls: eclogues: and descriptions of the sea-
sons: or of gardens0 It may gracefully occupy a
portion of the most sublime ode: provided it be duly
relieved by [email protected] of more masculine beauty0 It
D' (hilosophical
has little to do "ith comedy: "hich: as it ought to
0 possess a resemblance to common life: reuires more
of the style of ordinary conversation0 It is still less
admissible in tragedy: "hich is the province of
strong passions and momentous interests J and "hen
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in certain descriptions in "hich the heart taes no
part: and "hich amuse the imagination "ithout mov-
ing or occupying the soul0
 +he o"ery style detracts from the interest of
tragedy: and "eaens ridicule in comedy0 It is in
its place in the rench opera: "hich rather ourishes
on the passions than ehibits them0 +he o"ery
is not to be confounded "ith the easy style: "hich re-
 jects this class of embellishment0
#oldness of 2tyle0
It is said that a piece of poetry: of elouence: of
music: and even of painting: is cold: "hen "e loo
for an animated epression in it: "hich "e Knd not0
Other arts are not so susceptible of this defect J for
instance: architecture: geometry: logic: metaphysics:
all the principal merit of "hich is correctness: can-
not properly be called "arm or cold0 +he picture
of the family of 5arius: by ?ignard: is very cold in
comparison "ith that of Lebrun: because "e do not
discover in the personages of ?ignard the same af-
iction "hich Lebrun has so animatedly epressed
in the attitudes and countenances of the (ersian
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princesses0 ven a statue may be cold J "e ought
5ictionary0 Ij
to perceive fear and horror in the features of an 4n-
dromeda: the eNect of a "rithing of the musclesJ
and anger mingled "ith courageous boldness in the
attitude and on the bro" of 9ercules: "ho suspends
and strangles 4ntaeus0
the soul become cold: "hen they are epressed in
common terms: and are unaided by imagination0 It
is this latter "hich maes love so animated in )acine:
and so languid in his imitator: #ampistron0
 +he sentiments "hich escape from a soul "hich
sees concealment: on the contrary: reuire the most
simple epression0 6othing is more animated than
those verses in .+he #id. = .7o J I hate thee not
thou no"est it J I cannot0. +his feeling "ould be-
come cold: if conveyed in studied phrases0
or this reason: nothing is so cold as the timid
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style0 -4 hero in a poem says: that he has encoun-
tered a tempest: and that he has beheld his friend
perish in the storm0 9e touches and aNects: if he
speas "ith profound grief of his loss that is: if
he is more occupied "ith his friend than "ith all the
restJ but he becomes cold: and ceases to aNect us:
if he amuses us "ith a description of the tempest J
if he speas of the source of .the Kre "hich "as boil-
ing up the "aters: and of the thunder "hich roars
and "hich redoubles the furro"s of the earth and
of the "aves0. #oldness of style: therefore: often
arises from a sterility of ideasJ often from a deK-
ciency in the po"er of governing them J freuently
DH (hilosophical
that is too far-fetched0
 +he author "ho is cold only in conseuence of
being animated out of time and place: may correct
this defect of a too fruitful imagination J but he "ho
is cold from a deKciency of soul is incapable of self-
correction0 e may allay a Kre "hich is too in-
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tense: but cannot acuire heat if "e have none0
On #orruption of 2tyle0
corrupted: although "e have models of almost all
inds0 One of the greatest defects of the day: "hich
contributes most to this defect: is the miture of
style0 It appears to me: that "e authors do not
suMciently imitate the painters: "ho never introduce
the attitudes of #alot "ith the Kgures of )aphael0
I perceive in histories: other"ise tolerably "ell "rit-
ten: and in good doctrinal "ors: the familiar style
of conversation0 2ome one has formerly said: that
"e must "rite as "e spea J the sense of "hich la"
is: that "e should "rite naturally0 e tolerate ir-
regularity in a letter: freedom as to style: incorrect-
ness: and bold pleasantries: because letters: "ritten
spontaneously: "ithout particular object or act: are
negligent conversations J but "hen "e spea or treat
of a subject formally: some attention is due to de-
corum J and to "hom ought "e to pay more respect
than to the public !
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4uthors have sought to spea of science as 3oi-
ture spoe to ?ademoiselle (aulet of gallantry:
"ithout dreaming that 3oiture by no means ehib-
its a correct taste in the species of composition in
"hich he "as esteemed ecellent J for he often taes
the false for the reKned: and the aNected for the nat-
ural0 (leasantry is never good on serious points:
because it al"ays regards subjects in that point
D F (hilosophical
of vie" in "hich it is not the purpose to consider
them0 It almost al"ays turns upon false relations
and euivoue: "hence joers by profession usually
possess minds as incorrect as they are superKcial0
It appears to me: that it is as improper to mingle
styles in poetry as in prose0 +he macaroni style has
for some time past injured poetry by this medley of
mean and of elevated: of ancient and of modern e-
pression0 In certain moral pieces it is not musical
to hear the "histle of )abelais in the midst of
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"e should leave to inferior minds: and attend to the
lessons of good sense and of 8oileau0 +he follo"-
ing is a singular instance of style: in a speech deliv-
ered at 3ersailles in D&H%=
2peech 4ddressed to the 1ing QLouis C30R by ?0
le #amus: irst (resident of the #ourt of 4ids0
.2ire +he conuests of your majesty are so
rapid: that it "ill be necessary to consult the po"er
of belief on the part of posterity: and to soften their
surprise at so many miracles: for fear that heroes
should hold themselves dispensed from imitation:
and people in general from believing them0
.8ut no: sire: it "ill be impossible for them to
doubt it: "hen they shall read in history that your
majesty has been at the head of your troops: record-
ing them yourself in the Keld of ?ars upon a drum0
 +his is to engrave them eternally in the temple of
a"ay from your victory J that their allies have been
"itnesses of their shame: and that all of them have
hastened to the combat only to [email protected] the glory
of the conueror0
.e venture to say to your majesty: relying on
the love that you bear to your people: that there is
but one "ay of augmenting our happiness: "hich is
to diminish your courageJ as heaven "ould lavish
its prodigies at too costly a rate: if they increased
your dangers: or those of the young heroes "ho con-
stitute our dearest hopes0.
longer superstitiousJ the reformation of the si-
teenth century has made us more prudent J the (rot-
estants have taught us better manners0
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8ut "hat then is the blood of a 2t0 >anuarius:
"hich you liuefy every year by bringing it near his
head ! ould it not be better to mae ten thousand
beggars earn their bread: by employing them in use-
ful tass: than to boil the blood of a saint for their
amusement! +hin rather ho" to mae their pots
hy do you still: in )ome: bless the horses and
3ol0 id a
presence of ladies ! 5o they thin there is no road
to heaven but by ogging!
4re those pieces of the true cross: "hich "ould
suMce to build a hundred-gun ship are the many
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relics acno"ledged to be false are the many false
miracles so many monuments of an enlightened
piety !
neighbors of 2t0 >ames of #ompostello: or those of
Our Lady of Loretto0 ,et ho" many sacristies are
there "here you still Knd pieces of the 3irgin;s
go"n: vials of her mil: and locs of her hair P 4nd
have you not still: in the church of (uy-en-3elay:
her 2on;s foresin preciously preserved!
 ,ou all no" the abominable farce that has been
played: ever since the early part of the fourteenth
century: in the chapel of 2t0 Louis: in the (alais at
(aris: every ?aundy +hursday night0 4ll the pos-
sessed in the ingdom then meet in this church0
 +he convulsions of 2t0 ?edard fall far short of the
horrible grimaces: the dreadful bo"lings: the vio-
lent contortions: made by these "retched people0
4 piece of the true cross is given them to iss: en-
chased in three feet of gold: and adorned "ith pre-
cious stones0 +hen the cries and contortions are
redoubled0 +he devil is then appeased by giving the
demoniacs a fe" sousJ but the better to restrain
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them: Kfty archers of the "atch are placed in the
church "ith Ked bayonets0
 +he same eecrable farce is played at 2t0 ?aur0
I could cite t"enty such instances0 8lush: and cor-
rect yourselves0
their raree-sho"s: etc0 J that the people have at all
times been fond of prodigies: fortune-tellers: pil-
grimages: and uac-doctors J that in the most re-
mote antiuity they celebrated 8acchus delivered
from the "aves: "earing horns: maing a fountain
of "ine issue from a roc by a stroe of his "and:
passing the )ed 2ea on dry ground "ith all his
people: stopping the sun and moon: etc0 J that at
Lacedaemon they ept the t"o eggs brought forth
by Leda: hanging from the dome of a temple J that
in some to"ns of 7reece the priests sho"ed the nife
"ith "hich Iphigenia had been immolated: etc0
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 +here are other "ise men "ho say 6ot one of
these superstitions has produced any goodJ many
of them have done great harm= let them then be
2#+IO6 II0
I beg of you: my dear reader: to cast your eye
for a moment on the miracle "hich "as lately
"ored in Lo"er 8rittany: in the year of our Lord
D&&D0 6othing can be more authentic = this publica-
tion is clothed in all the legal forms0 )ead =
'O (hilosophical
4ppearance of Our Lord >esus #hrist in the
9oly 2acrament of the 4ltarJ "hich "as "ored
by the 4lmighty (o"er of 7od in the (arish
#hurch of (aimpolc: near +rcguier: in Loiter
8rittany: on +"elfth-day0
ing the chanting of the 2alve: rays of light "ere
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for a "hole half-hour: during "hich there appeared
a rainbo" over the top of the church0 +he foot-
prints of >esus remained on the tabernacle: "here
they are still to be seenJ and many miracles are
"ored there every day0 4t four in the afternoon:
 >esus having disappeared from over the tabernacle:
the curate of the said parish approached the altar:
and found there a letter "hich >esus had leftJ he
"ould have taen it up: but he found that he could
not lift it0 +his curate: together "ith the vicar:
"ent to give information of it to the bishop of
 +reguier: "ho ordered the forty-hour prayers to be
said in all the churches of the to"n for eight days:
during "hich time the people "ent in cro"ds to
see this holy letter0 4t the epiration of the eight
days: the bishop "ent thither in procession: at-
tended by all the regular and secular clergy of the
to"n: after three days; fasting on bread and "ater0
 +he procession having entered the church: the
5ictionary0 ' D
bishop nelt do"n on the steps of the altarJ and
after asing of 7od the grace to be able to lift this
letter: he ascended to the altar and too it up "ith-
out diMculty J then: turning to the people: he read
it over "ith a loud voice: and recommended to all
"ho could read to peruse this letter on the Krst
riday of every monthJ and to those "ho could
not read: to say Kve paternosters: and Kve ave-
marias: in honor of the Kve "ounds of >esus #hrist:
in order to obtain the graces promised to such as
shall read it devoutly: and the preservation of the
fruits of the earth0 (regnant "omen are to say:
for their happy delivery: nine paters and nine aves
for the beneKt of the souls in purgatory: in order
that their children may have the happiness of re-
ceiving the holy sacrament of baptism0
.4ll that is contained in this account has been
approved by the bishop: by the lieutenant-general
of the said to"n of +reguier: and by many persons
of distinction "ho "ere present at this miracle0.
.#opy of the Letter ound Upon the 4ltar: at the
 +ime of the ?iraculous 4ppearance of Our
Lord >esus #hrist: in the ?ost 9oly 2acrament
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.verlasting life: everlasting punishments: or
everlasting delights: none can foregoJ one part
must be chosen either to go to glory: or to depart
into torment0 +he number of years that men pass
on earth in all sorts of sensual pleasures and e-
DD (hilosophical
der: theft: slander: and impurity: no longer per-
mitting it to be suNered that creatures created in
?y image and lieness: redeemed by the price of
?y blood on the tree of the cross: on "hich I suf-
fered passion and death: should oNend ?e continu-
ally: by transgressing ?y commands and abandon-
ing ?y divine la" I "arn you all: that if you con-
0tinue to live in sin: and I behold in you neither
remorse: nor contrition: nor a true and sincere con-
fession and satisfaction: I shall mae you feel the
"eight of ?y divine arm0 8ut for the prayers of
?y dear mother: I should already have destroyed
the earth: for the sins "hich you commit one against
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another0 I have given you si days to labor: and
the seventh to rest: to sanctify ?y 9oly 6ame: to
hear the holy mass: and employ the remainder of
the day in the service of 7od ?y ather0 8ut: on
the contrary: nothing is to be seen but blasphemy
and drunennessJ and so disordered is the "orld
that all in it is vanity and lies0 #hristians: instead
of taing compassion on the poor "hom they be-
hold every day at their doors: prefer fondling dogs
and other animals: and letting the poor die of hunger
and thirst abandoning themselves entirely to 2atan
by their avarice: gluttony: and other vices J instead
of relieving the needy: they prefer sacriKcing all to
their pleasures and debauchery0 +hus do they de-
clare "ar against ?e0 4nd you: iniuitous fathers
and mothers: suNer your children to s"ear and bias-
5ictionary0 'S
them a good education: you avariciously lay up
for them "ealth: "hich is dedicated to 2atan0 I
tell you: by the mouth of 7od ?y ather and
?y dear mother: of all the cherubim and sera-
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phim: and by 2t0 (eter: the head of ?y church:
that if you do not amend your "ays: I "ill send
you etraordinary diseases: by "hich all shall perish0
 ,ou shall feel the just anger of 7od ?y atherJ
you shall be reduced to such a state that you
shall not no" one another0 Open your eyes:
and contemplate ?y cross: "hich I have left to be
your "eapon against the enemy of manind: and
your guide to eternal gloryJ loo upon ?y head
cro"ned "ith thorns: ?y feet and hands pierced
"ith nailsJ I shed the last drop of ?y blood to
redeem you: from pure fatherly love for ungrateful
children0 5o such "ors as may secure to you
?y mercy J do not s"ear by ?y 9oly 6ame J pray
to ?e devoutly J fast often J and in particular give
alms to the poor: "ho are members of ?y body
for of all good "ors this is the most pleasing to
?e J neither despise the "ido" nor the orphan J
mae restitution of that "hich does not belong to
you J y all occasions of sin J carefully eep ?y
commandmentsJ and honor ?ary ?y very dear
.2uch of you "ho shall not proKt by the "arn-
ings I give them: such as shall not believe ?y
"ords: "ill: by their obstinacy: bring do"n ?y
8/20/2019 Voltaire XIV
avenging arm upon their heads J they shall be over-
"helmed by misfortunes: "hich shall be the fore-
runners of their Knal and unhappy endJ after
"hich they shall be cast into everlasting ames:
"here they shall suNer endless pains the just
punishment reserved for their crimes0
.On the other hand: such of you as shall mae
a holy use of the "arnings of 7od: given them in
this letter: shall appease 9is "rath: and shall ob-
tain from 9im: after a sincere confession of their
faults: the remission of their sins: ho" great soever
they may be0
.5 84U3OI): Lieut0-7en0 of (olice0
.+his letter must be carefully ept: in honor of
our Lord >esus #hrist0.
60 80 It must be observed that this piece of
absurdity "as printed at 8ourges: "ithout there
having been: either at +reguier or at (aimpole: the
smallest pretence that could aNord occasion for such
an imposture0 9o"ever: "e "ill suppose that in a
future age some miracle-Knder shall thin Kt to
prove a point in divinity by the appearance of >esus
#hrist on the altar at (aimpole: "ill he not thin
himself entitled to uote #hrist;s o"n letter: printed
at 8ourges ."ith permission. ! ill he not prove:
by facts: that in our time >esus "ored miracles
every"here! 9ere is a Kne Keld opened for the
9outevilles and the 4badies0
 +he thirty conspirators "ho fell upon the ing
of (oland: in the night of 6ovember S: of the pres-
ent year: D&&D: had communicated at the altar of
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the 9oly 3irgin: and had s"orn by the 9oly 3irgin
to butcher their ing0
not entirely in a state of grace: "hen he received
into his stomach the body of the 9oly 3irgin;s o"n
2on: together "ith 9is blood: under the appearance
of breadJ and that "hile he "as taing the oath
to ill his ing: he had his god in his mouth for only
t"o of the ing;s domestics0 +he guns and pistols
Kred at his majesty missed him J he received only a
slight shot-"ound in the face: and several sabre-
"ounds: "hich "ere not mortal0 9is life "ould
have been at an end: but that humanity at length
combated superstition in the breast of one of the
assassins named 1osinsi0 hat a moment "as
that "hen this "retched man said to the bleeding
prince= .,ou are: ho"ever: my ingP. .,es:.
ans"ered 2tanislaus 4ugustus: .and your good
ing: "ho has never done you any harm0. .+rue:.
said the otherJ .but I have taen an oath to ill
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cited by a holy and religious @eal: have resolved to
avenge the 5eity: religion: and our country: out-
raged by 2tanislaus 4ugustus: a despiser of la"s
both divine and human: a favorer of atheists and
heretics: do promise and s"ear: before the sacred
and miraculous image of the mother of 7od: to
etirpate from the face of the earth him "ho dis-
honors her by trampling on religion0 0000 2o
help us 7odP.
employ their pious ardor in causing blood to o"
and ravaging their country: have succeeded in
(oland: as else"here: in inculcating on the minds
of their aMliated: that it is allo"able to ill ings0.
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sa" for three days in the house of the reverend
5ominican fathers J and "hen these accessory
mons "ere ased "hy they had harbored thirty
armed men "ithout informing the government of
it: they ans"ered: that these men had come to per-
form their devotions: and to fulKl a vo"0
O ye times of #hatel: of 7uinard: of )icodovis: of
(oltrot: of )availlac: of 5amiens: of ?alagrida: are
you then returning! 9oly 3irgin: and +hou her
5ictionary0 '&
holy 2on: let not ,our sacred names be abused for
the commission of the crime "hich disgraced them P
?0 >ean 7eorges le ranc: bishop of (uy-en-
3elay: says: in his immense pastoral letter to the
inhabitants of (uy: pages '%G-$: that it is the phi-
losophers "ho are seditious0 4nd "hom does he
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accuse of sedition! )eaders: you "ill be aston-
ishedJ it is Loce: the "ise Loce himselfP 9e
maes him an accomplice in the pernicious designs
of the earl of 2haftesbury: one of the heroes of the
philosophical party0
4lasP ?0 >ean 7eorges: ho" many mistaes in
a fe" "ords P irst: you tae the grandson for the
grandfather0 +he earl of 2haftesbury: author of
the .#haracteristics. and the .Inuiry Into 3irtue:.
that .hero of the philosophical party:. "ho died in
D&DS: cultivated letters all his life in the most pro-
found retirement0 2econdly: his grandfather: Lord-
#hancellor 2haftesbury: to "hom you attribute mis-
deeds: is considered by many in ngland to have
been a true patriot0 +hirdly: Loce is revered as a
"ise man throughout urope0
I defy you to sho" me a single philosopher: from
Boroaster do"n to Loce: that has ever stirred up
a seditionJ that has ever been concerned in an at-
tempt against the life of a ing J that has ever dis-
turbed societyJ and: unfortunately: I "ill Knd you
a thousand votaries of superstition: from hud
do"n to 1osinsi: stained "ith the blood of ings
and "ith that of nations0 2uperstition sets the
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them0 (erhaps these poor philosophers are not de-
voted enough to the 9oly 3irgin J but they are so
to 7od: to reason: and to humanity0
(olesP if you are not philosophers: at least do
not cut one another;s throats0 renchmen P be gay:
and cease to uarrel0 2paniardsP let the "ords
.inuisition. and .holy brotherhood. be no longer
uttered among you0 +urs: "ho have enslaved
7reece mons: "ho have [email protected] her disap-
pear ye from the face of the earth0
2#+IO6 I30
6early all that goes farther than the adoration
of a supreme being: and the submission of the
heart to his eternal orders: is superstition0 +he for-
giveness of crimes: "hich is attached to certain cere-
monies: is a very dangerous one0
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Infenas rnittunt0
O faciles nimium: gut tristia crimina cadis:
luminea to 9i posse putatis auaP
O3I5: asti ii: H%-HF0
 ,ou thin that 7od "ill forget your homicide: if
you bathe in a river: if you immolate a blac sheep:
and a fe" "ords are pronounced over you0 4 sec-
ond homicide then "ill be forgiven you at the same
price: and so of a thirdJ and a hundred murders
"ill cost you only a hundred blac sheep and a
hundred ablutions0 3e miserable mortals: do bet-
5ictionary0 '$
ter J but let there be no murders: and no oNerings of
blac sheep0
hat an infamous idea: to imagine that a priest
of Isis and #ybele: by playing cymbals and castanets:
"ill reconcile you to the 5ivinity0 4nd "hat then
is this priest of #ybele: this vagrant eunuch: "ho
lives on your "eaness: and sets himself up as a
mediator bet"een heaven and you! hat patent
has he received from 7od! 9e receives money
from you for muttering "ords J and you thin that
the 8eing of 8eings ratiKes the utterance of this
charlatan P
festival days: in honor of 5iana or (omona: or some
one of the secular divinities of "hich your calendar
is full J be it so0 5ancing is very agreeable J it is
useful to the body J it ehilarates the mind J it does
no harm to any oneJ but do not imagine that
(omona and 3ertumnus are much pleased at your
having jumped in honor of them: and that they
may punish you for having failed to jump0 +here
are no (omona and 3ertumnus but the gardener;s
spade and hoe0 5o not be so imbecile as to believe
that your garden "ill be hailed upon: if you have
missed dancing the pyrrhic or the corda0
 +here is one superstition "hich is perhaps par-
8/20/2019 Voltaire XIV
placing among the gods great men "ho have been
benefactors to manind0 It "ere doubtless better
to conKne ourselves to regarding them simply as
SE (hilosophical
3enerate: "ithout "orshipping: a 2olon: a +hales:
a (ythagorasJ but do not adore a 9ercules for
having cleansed the stables of 4ugeas: and for
having lain "ith Kfty "omen in one night0
4bove all: be"are of establishing a "orship for
vagabonds "ho have no merit but ignorance: en-
thusiasm: and KlthJ "ho have made idleness and
beggary their duty and their glory0 5o they "ho
have been at best useless during their lives: merit an
apotheosis after their deaths! 8e it observed: that
the most superstitious times have al"ays been those
of the most horrible crimes0
2#+IO6 v0
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slave is to the tyrant J nay more the superstitious
man is governed by the fanatic: and becomes a
fanatic himself0 2uperstition: born in (aganism:
adopted by >udaism: infected the #hurch in the
earliest ages0 4ll the fathers of the #hurch: "ith-
out eception: believed in the po"er of magic0 +he
#hurch al"ays condemned magic: but she al"ays
believed in itJ she ecommunicated sorcerers: not
as madmen "ho "ere in delusion: but as men "ho
really had intercourse "ith the devils0
4t this day: one half of urope believes that the
other half has long been and still is superstitious0
 +he (rotestants regard relics: indulgences: macera;
tions: prayers for the dead: holy "ater: and almost
5ictionary0 S D
all the rites of the )oman church: as mad supersti-
tions0 4ccording to them: superstition consists in
mistaing useless practices for necessary ones0
4mong the )oman #atholics there are some: more
enlightened than their forefathers: "ho have re-
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they defend their adherence to those "hich they
have retained: by saying they are indiNerent: and
"hat is indiNerent cannot be an evil0
It is diMcult to mar the limits of superstition0
4 renchman travelling in Italy thins almost
everything superstitious J nor is he much mistaen0
 +he archbishop of #anterbury asserts that the arch-
bishop of (aris is superstitiousJ the (resbyterians
cast the same reproach upon his grace of #anter-
bury: and are in their turn called superstitious by
the Auaers: "ho in the eyes of the rest of #hris-
tians are the most superstitious of all0
It is then no"here agreed among #hristian so-
cieties "hat superstition is0 +he sect "hich appears
to be the least violently attaced by this mental dis-
ease: is that "hich has the fe"est rites0 8ut if: "ith
but fe" ceremonies: it is strongly attached to an
absurd belief: that absurd belief is of itself euiva-
lent to all the superstitious practices observed from
the time of 2imon the ?agician: do"n to that of
the curate 7aufredi0 It is therefore evident that
"hat is the foundation of the religion of one sect: is
by another sect regarded as superstitious0
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S' (hilosophical
it: and are accused of it by them0 ho shall decide
this great cause ! 2hall not reason ! 8ut each sect
declares that reason is on its side0 orce then "ill
decide: until reason shall have penetrated into a suf-
Kcient number of heads to disarm force0
or instance = there "as a time in #hristian u-
rope "hen a ne"ly married pair "ere not permitted
to enjoy the nuptial rights: until they had bought
that privilege of the bishop and the curate0 ho-
soever: in his "ill: did not leave a part of his prop-
erty to the #hurch: "as ecommunicated: and de-
prived of burial0 +his "as called dying uncon-
fessed i0 e0: not confessing the #hristian religion0
4nd "hen a #hristian died intestate: the #hurch re-
lieved the deceased from this ecommunication: by
maing a "ill for him: stipulating for and enforcing
the payment of the pious legacy "hich the defunct
should have made0
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2t0 Louis ordained: after the #ouncil of 6ice: held
in D'S%: that every "ill to the maing of "hich a
priest had not been called: should be null J and the
pope decreed that the testator and the notary should
be ecommunicated0
 +he ta on sins "as: if possible: still more scan-
dalous0 It "as force "hich supported all these la"s:
to "hich the superstition of nations submitted J and
it "as only in the course of time that reason caused
these shameful veations to be abolished: "hile it
left so many others in eistence0
5ictionary0 SS
9o" far does policy permit superstition to be
undermined! +his is a very notty uestionJ it
is lie asing ho" far a dropsical man may be
punctured "ithout his dying under the operationJ
this depends on the prudence of the physician0
#an there eist a people free from all supersti-
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tious prejudices! +his is asing: #an there eist
a people of philosophers! It is said that there is
no superstition in the magistracy of #hina0 It is
liely that the magistracy of some to"ns in urope
"ill also be free from it0 +hese magistrates "ill
then prevent the superstition of the people from
being dangerous0 +heir eample "ill not enlighten
the mobJ but the principal [email protected] "ill restrain it0
ormerly: there "as not perhaps a single religious
tumult: not a single violence: in "hich the to"ns-
people did not tae part: because these to"nspeople
"ere then part of the mobJ but reason and time
have changed them0 +heir ameliorated manners
"ill improve those of the lo"est and most ferocious
of the populace J of "hich: in more countries than
one: "e have striing eamples0 In short: the
fe"er superstitions: the less fanaticism J and the less
fanaticism: the fe"er calamities0
.I "ould lay a "ager: mademoiselle: that you no"
not your credo P. .hat P. said she: .not no" my
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credo! I "ill repeat it to you0 ;(ater noster iii0;
0000 9elp me: I remember no more0. or myself:
I repeat my pater and credo every morning0 I am
not lie 8roussin: of "hom )eminiac said: that al-
though he could distinguish a sauce almost in his
infancy: he could never be taught his creed or pater-
noster =
(osstda la sauce )obert:
 +he term . symbol. comes from the "ord .sytn-
bolein:. and the Latin church adopts this "ord be-
cause it has taen everything from the 7ree
church0 ven slightly learned theologians no"
that the symbol: "hich "e call apostolical: is not
that of all the apostles0
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and signs by "hich those initiated into the mysteries
of #eres: #ybele: and ?ythra: [email protected] one
anotherJ and #hristians in time had their symbol0
If it had eisted in the time of the apostles: "e
thin that 2t0 Lue "ould have spoen of it0
4 history of the symbol is attributed to 2t0
4ugustine in his one hundred and Kfteenth sermon J
he is made to say: that (eter commenced the symbol
by saying= .I believe in 7od: the ather 4lmighty0.
 >ohn added = .?aer of heaven and earth J. >ames
proceeded = .I believe in >esus #hrist: 9is only 2on:
our Lord:. and so on "ith the rest0 +his fable has
been epunged from the last edition of 4ugustineJ
5ictionary0 S%
and I relate it to the reverend 8enedictine fathers: in
order to no" "hether this little curious article
ought to be left out or not0
 +he fact is: that no person heard anything of this
8/20/2019 Voltaire XIV
.creed. for more than four hundred years0 (eople
also say that (aris "as not made in a day: and peo-
ple are often right in their proverbs0 +he apostles
had our symbol in their hearts: but they put it not
into "riting0 One "as formed in the time of 2t0
Irenaeus: "hich does not at all resemble that "hich
"e repeat0 Our symbol: such as it is at present: is
of the Kfth century: "hich is posterior to that of
6ice0 +he passage "hich says that >esus descended
into hell: and that "hich speas of the communion
of saints: are not found in any of the symbols "hich
preceded ours J and: indeed: neither the gospels: nor
the 4cts of the 4postles: say that >esus descended
into hell J but it "as an established opinion: from
the third century: that >esus descended into 9ades:
or +artarus: "ords "hich "e translate by that of
hell0 9ell: in this sense: is not the 9ebre" "ord
.sheol:. "hich signiKes .under ground:. .the pit. J
for "hich reason 2t0 4thanasius has since taught
us ho" our 2aviour descended into hell0 9is hu-
manity: says he: "as not entirely in the tomb: nor
entirely in hell0 It "as in the sepulchre: according
to the body: and in hell: according to the soul0
2t0 +homas aMrms that the saints "ho arose at
the death of >esus #hrist: died again to rise after-
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SF (hilosophical
saints "ere raised once or t"ice0 Our symbol has
been formed: I confess: recently: but virtue is from
all eternity0
If it is permitted to uote moderns on so grave
a matter: I "ill here repeat the creed of the 4bbe
de 2t0 (ierre: as it "as "ritten "ith his o"n hand: in
his boo on the purity of religion: "hich has not
been printed: but "hich I have copied faithfully =
.I believe in one 7od alone: and I love 9im0
I believe that 9e enlightens all souls coming into
the "orldJ thus says 2t0 >ohn0 8y that: I under-
stand all souls "hich see 9im in good faith0 I
believe in one 7od alone: because there can be but
one soul of the 7reat 4ll: a single vivifying being:
a sole #reator0
8/20/2019 Voltaire XIV
.I believe in 7od: the ather 4lmighty J because
9e is the common ather of nature: and of all men:
"ho are eually 9is children0 I believe that 9e
"ho has caused all to be born eually: "ho arranges
the springs of their life in the same manner: "ho
has given them the same moral principles: as soon
as they reect: has made no diNerence bet"een 9is
children but that of crime and virtue0
.I believe that the just and righteous #hinese is
more precious to 9im than the cavilling and arro-
gant uropean scholar0 I believe that 7od: being
our common ather: "e are bound to regard all men
as our brothers0 I believe that the persecutor is
5ictionary0 S&
the poisoner and parricide0 I believe that theo-
logical disputes are at once the most ridiculous farce:
and the most dreadful scourge of the earth: im-
mediately after "ar: pestilence: famine: and leprosy0
.I believe that ecclesiastics should be paid and
8/20/2019 Voltaire XIV
eepers of registers of births and deaths J but there
should be given to them neither the riches of farm-
ers-general: nor the ran of princes: because both
corrupt the soul J and nothing is more revolting
than to see men so rich and so proud preach humil-
ity through their clers: "ho have only a hundred
cro"ns; "ages0
should be married: as in the 7ree church J not
only to have an honest "oman to tae care of their
household: but to be better [email protected]: to give good
subjects to the state: and to have plenty of "ell-
bred children0
.I believe that many mons should give up the
monastic form of life: for the sae of the country
and themselves0 It is said that there are men "hom
#irce has changed into hogs: "hom the "ise Ulysses
must restore to the human form0.
.(aradise to the beneKcentP. e repeat this
symbol of the 4bbe 2t0 (ierre historically: "ithout
approving of it0 e regard it merely as a curious
singularity: and "e hold "ith the most respectful
8/20/2019 Voltaire XIV
SG (hilosophical
U65)2+465 by system a supposition J for if
a system can be proved: it is no longer a system:
but a truth0 In the meantime: led by habit: "e say
the celestial system: although "e understand by it
the real position of the stars0
I once thought that (ythagoras had learned the
true celestial system from the #haldaeansJ but I
thin so no longer0 In proportion as I gro" older:
I doubt of all things0 6ot"ithstanding that 6e"-
ton: 7regory: and 1eil honor (ythagoras and the
#haldaeans "ith a no"ledge of the system of
#opernicus: and that latterly ?0 ?onier is of their
opinion: I have the impudence to thin other"ise0
One of my reasons is: that if the #haldaeans had
been so "ell informed: so Kne and important a dis-
covery "ould not have been lost: but "ould have
8/20/2019 Voltaire XIV
http://slidepdf.com/reader/full/voltaire-xiv 59/460
been handed do"n from age to age: lie the ad-
mirable discoveries of 4rchimedes0
more "idely informed than the #haldaeans: in order
to be able to contradict the apparent testimony of
the senses in regard to the celestial appearances=
that it reuired not only the most reKned eperi-
mental observation: but the most profound mathe-
matical scienceJ as also the indispensable aid of
telescopes: "ithout "hich it is impossible to dis-
cover the phases of 3enus: "hich prove her course
5ictionary0 S$
around the sun: or to discover the spots in the sun:
"hich demonstrate his motion round his o"n almost
immovable ais0 4nother reason: not less strong:
is that of all those "ho have attributed this dis-
covery to (ythagoras: no one can positively say ho"
he treated it0
years after (ythagoras: teaches us: that according to
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tarthJ that light and darness: cold and heat: "et
tnd dry: are eually distributed J that "e must not
at beans J that the soul is divided into three parts J
that (ythagoras had formerly been 4talides: then
uphorbus: after"ards 9ermotimus J and: Knally:
that this great man studied magic very profoundly0
5iogenes says not a "ord concerning the true sys-
tem of the "orld: attributed to this (ythagoras J and
it must be confessed that it is by no means to an
aversion to beans that "e o"e the calculations "hich
at present demonstrate the motion of the earth and
planets generally0
thus = .4ll the philosophers declare that the earth is
in a state of repose J but (hilolaus: the peripatetic:
thins that it moves round Kre in an obliue circle:
lie the sun and the moon0. +his gibberish has
HO (hilosophical
it is asserted: developed the discoveries of the #hal-
daeans in regard to the motion of the earth and other
planets: he is so obscure: that allace has been
obliged to play the commentator from one end of
him to the other: in order to render him intelligible0
inally: it is very much to be doubted "hether
the boo: attributed to this 4ristarchus of 2amos:
really belongs to him0 It has been strongly sus-
pected that the enemies of the ne" philosophy have
constructed this forgery in favor of their bad cause0
It is not only in respect to old charters that similar
forgeries are resorted to0 +his 4ristarchus of
2amos is also the more to be suspected: as (lutarch
accuses him of bigotry and malevolent hypocrisy:
in conseuence of being imbued "ith a direct con-
trary opinion0 +he follo"ing are the "ords of
(lutarch: in his piece of absurdity entitled .+he
)ound 4spect of the ?oon0. 4ristarchus the
2amian said: .that the 7rees ought to punish
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"ere immovable: and that it is the earth "hich
travels through the @odiac by turning on its ais0.
 +hey "ill tell me that even this passage proves
that the system of #opernicus "as already in the
head of #leanthes and others of "hat import is it
"hether 4ristarchus the 2amian "as of the opinion
5ictionary0 HD
of #leanthes: or his accuser: as the >esuit 2einer
"as subseuently 7alileo;s! it eually follo"s that
the true system of the present day "as no"n to
the ancients0
I reply: noJ but that a very slight part of this
system "as vaguely surmised by heads better or-
[email protected] than the rest0 I further ans"er that it "as
never received or taught in the schools: and that it
never formed a body of doctrine0 4ttentively peruse
this .ace of the ?oon. of (lutarch: and you "ill
Knd: if you loo for it: the doctrine of gravitation J
but the true author of a system is he "ho demon-
8/20/2019 Voltaire XIV
honor of this discovery0 +hree or four "ords
brought to light in an old author: "hich ehibit
some distant glimpse of his system: ought not to
deprive him of the glory of the discovery0
Let us admire the great rule of 1epler: that the
revolutions of the planets round the sun are in pro-
portion to the cubes of their distances0 Let us still
more admire the profundity: the justness: and the
invention of the great 6e"ton: "ho alone discovered
the fundamental reasons of these la"s unno"n to
all antiuity: "hich have opened the eyes of man-
ind to a ne" heaven0
(etty compilers are al"ays to be found "ho dare
to become the enemies of their age0 +hey string
together passages from (lutarch and 4thenaeus: to
prove that "e have no obligations to 6e"ton: to
H' (hilosophical
glory of the ancients: "hom they pretend have said
everythingJ and they are so imbecile as to thin
that they divide the glory by publishing it0 +hey
t"ist an epression of 9ippocrates: in order to per-
suade us that the 7rees "ere acuainted "ith the
circulation of the blood better than 9arvey0 hy
not also assert that the 7rees "ere possessed of
better musets and Keld-piecesJ that they thre"
bomb-shells farther: had better printed boos: and
much Kner engravings! +hat they ecelled in oil-
paintings: possessed looing-glasses of crystal: tele-
scopes: microscopes: and thermometers! 4ll this
may be found out by men: "ho assure us that 2olo-
mon: "ho possessed not a single seaport: sent eets
to 4merica: and so forth0
One of the greatest detractors of modern times
is a person named 5utens: "ho Knished by com-
piling a libel: as infamous as insipid: against the
philosophers of the present day0 +his libel is en-
titled the .+ocsin. J but he had better have called
it his cloc: as no one came to his aid J and he has
only tended to increase the number of the Boilusses:
"ho: being unable to produce anything themselves:
spit their venom upon all "ho by their productions
8/20/2019 Voltaire XIV
 +48O): O) +948O)0
in general conversation0 It is not true that this
5ictionary0 HS
mountain is a league and a half high: as mentioned
in certain dictionaries0 +here is no mountain in
 >udaea so elevated J +abor is not more than si hun-
dred feet high: but it appears loftier: in conseuence
of its situation on a vast plain0
 +he +abor of 8ohemia is still more celebrated
by the resistance "hich the imperial armies encoun-
tered from Bisa0 It is from thence that they have
given the name of +abor to intrenchments formed
"ith carriages0 +he +aborites: a sect very similar
to the 9ussites: also tae their name from the latter
.consecration0. +he same thing as .telesma:. or
.philactery:. a preservative charm: Kgure: or char-
acterJ a superstition "hich has prevailed at all
times and among all people0 It is usually a sort of
medal: cast and stamped under the ascendency of
certain constellations0 +he famous talisman of
#atherine de ?edici still eists0
 +4)+U +4)+U)I0
 +4)+U: a name invented by ?oliere: and no"
adopted in all the languages of urope to signify
hypocrites: "ho mae use of the cloa of religion0
.9e is a +artuNe J he is a true +artuNe0. +ar-
tuferie: a ne" "ord formed from +artuNe the
HH (hilosophical
action of a hypocrite: the behavior of a hypocrite:
the navery of a false devotee J it is often used in
the disputes concerning the 8ull Unigenitus0
8/20/2019 Voltaire XIV
languages: the metaphor epressed by the "ord
.taste. a feeling of beauty and defects in all the
arts0 It is a uic perception: lie that of the tongue
and the palate: and in the same manner anticipates
consideration0 Lie the mere sense: it is sensitive
and luuriant in respect to the good: and rejects the
bad spontaneously J in a similar "ay it is often un-
certain: divided: and even ignorant "hether it ought
to be pleasedJ lastly: and to conclude the resem-
blance: it sometimes reuires to be formed and cor-
rected by habit and eperience0
 +o constitute taste: it is not suMcient to see and
to no" the beauty of a "or0 e must feel and be
aNected by it0 6either "ill it suMce to feel and be
aNected in a confused or ignorant mannerJ it is
necessary to distinguish the diNerent shadesJ
nothing ought to escape the promptitude of its dis-
cernment J and this is another instance of the re-
semblance of taste: the sense: to intellectual tasteJ
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for an epicure "ill uicly feel and detect a miture
of t"o liuors: as the man of taste and connoisseur
"ill: "ith a single glance: distinguish the miture of
5ictionary0 H%
t"o styles: or a defect by the side of a beauty0 9e
"ill be enthusiastically moved "ith this verse in
the 9oratii=
hat have him do .gainst three! 5ieP
9e feels involuntary disgust at the follo"ing=
Ou gu;un beau dtsespoir alors le secourut0
4#+ iii: sc0 F0
4s a physical bad taste consists in being pleased
only "ith high seasoning and curious dishes: so a bad
8/20/2019 Voltaire XIV
taste in the arts is pleased only "ith studied orna-
ment: and feels not the pure beauty of nature0
4 depraved taste in food is gratiKed "ith that
"hich disgusts other people = it is a species of dis-
ease0 4 depraved taste in the arts is to be pleased
"ith subjects "hich disgust accomplished minds:
and to prefer the burlesue to the noble: and the Kni-
cal and the aNected to the simple and natural = it is
a mental disease0 4 taste for the arts is: ho"ever:
much more a thing of formation than physical taste J
for although in the latter "e sometimes Knish by
liing those things to "hich "e had in the Krst in-
stance a repugnance: nature seldom renders it neces-
sary for men in general to learn "hat is necessary
to them in the "ay of food: "hereas intellectual
taste reuires time to duly form it0 4 sensible young
man may not: "ithout science: distinguish at once
the diNerent parts of a grand choir of musicJ in
a Kne picture: his eyes at Krst sight may not perceive
HF (hilosophical
8/20/2019 Voltaire XIV
ment of colors: and correctness of design J but by
little and little his ears "ill learn to hear and his
eyes to see0 9e "ill be aNected at the Krst rep-
resentation of a Kne tragedy: but he "ill not perceive
the merit of the unities: nor the delicate manage-
ment that allo"s no one to enter or depart "ithout
a suMcient reason: nor that still greater art "hich
concentrates all the interest in a single oneJ nor:
lastly: "ill he be a"are of the diMculties overcome0
It is only by habit and reection: that he arrives
spontaneously at that "hich he "as not able to dis-
tinguish in the Krst instance0 In a similar "ay: a
national taste is gradually formed "here it eisted
not before: because by degrees the spirit of the best
artists is duly imbibed0 e accustom ourselves to
loo at pictures "ith the eyes of Lebrun: (oussin:
and Le 2ueur0 e listen to musical declamation
from the scenes of Auinalt "ith the ears of Lulli:
and to the airs and accompaniments "ith those of
)ameau0 inally: boos are read in the spirit of
the best authors0
If an entire nation is led: during its early culture
of the arts: to admire authors abounding in the de-
fects and errors of the age: it is because these au-
thors possess beauties "hich are admired by every-
8/20/2019 Voltaire XIV
body: "hile at the same time readers are not suM-
ciently instructed to detect the imperfections0 +hus:
Lucilius "as [email protected] by the )omans: until 9orace
made them forget him J and )egnier "as admired
5ictionary0 H&
by the rench: until the appearance of 8oileau J and
if old authors "ho stumble at every step have: not-
"ithstanding: attained great reputation: it is be-
cause purer "riters have not arisen to open the eyes
of their national admirers: as 9orace did those of
the )omans: and 8oileau those of the rench0
It is said that there is no disputation on taste: and
the observation is correct in respect to physical taste:
in "hich the repugnance felt to certain aliments:
and the preference given to others: are not to be
disputed: because there is no correction of a defect
of the organs0 It is not the same "ith the arts "hich
possess actual beauties: "hich are discernible by a
good taste: and unperceivable by a bad one J "hich
last: ho"ever: may freuently be improved0 +here
are also persons "ith a coldness of soul: as there
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are defective mindsJ and in respect to them: it is
of little use to dispute concerning predilections: as
they possess none0
decoration: and euipage: "hich: ho"ever: scarcely
belong to the department of the Kne arts: but are
rather aNairs of fancy0 It is fancy rather than taste
"hich produces so many ne" fashions0
 +aste may become vitiated in a nation: a misfor-
tune "hich usually follo"s a period of perfection0
earing to be called imitators: artists see ne" and
devious routes: and y from the pure and beautiful
nature of "hich their predecessors have made so
much advantage0 If there is merit in these labors:
HG (hilosophical
this merit veils their defects: and the public in love
"ith novelty runs after them: and becomes dis-
gusted: "hifch maes "ay for still minor eNorts to
please: in "hich nature is still more abandoned0
 +aste loses itself amidst this succession of novelties:
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the last one of "hich rapidly eNaces the other J the
public loses its ."hereabout:. and regrets in vain
the ight of the age of good taste: "hich "ill re-
turn no more: although a remnant of it is still pre-
served by certain correct spirits: at a distance from
the cro"d0
 +here are vast countries in "hich taste has never
eisted = such are they in "hich society is still rude:
"here the sees have little general intercourse: and
"here certain arts: lie sculpture and the painting of
animated beings: are forbidden by religion0 here
there is little general intercourse: the mind is strait-
ened: its edge is blunted: and nothing is possessed
on "hich a taste can be formed0 here several of
the Kne arts are "anting: the remainder can seldom
Knd suMcient support: as they go hand in hand: and
rest one on the other0 On this account: the 4siat-
ics have never produced Kne arts in any department:
and taste is conKned to certain nations of urope0
2#+IO6 II0
Is there not a good and a bad taste! ithout
doubtJ although men diNer in opinions: manners:
and customs0 +he best taste in every species of cul-
8/20/2019 Voltaire XIV
5ictionary0 H$
since it consists in giving animation and s"eetness
to the objects represented0 8et"een t"o men: the
one of "hom is gross and the other reKned: it "ill
readily be allo"ed that one possesses more grace
than the other0
his rage for embroidering nothings: "as occasion-
ally reKned and agreeable: "rote some verses to the
great #onde upon his illness: "hich are still re-
garded as very tasteful: and among the best of this
structed tragedies for #ardinal )ichelieu made
some verses: "hich are printed at the end of ?al-
herbe and )acan0 hen compared "ith those of
3oiture referred to: every reader "ill allo" that the
8/20/2019 Voltaire XIV
verses of 3oiture are the production of a courtier
of good taste: and those of L;Ktoile the labor of a
coarse and unintellectual pretender0
It is a pity that "e can gift 3oiture "ith occa-
sional taste only = his famous letter from the carp to
the pie: "hich enjoyed so much reputation: is a too
etended pleasantry: and in passages ehibiting
very little nature0 Is it not a miture of reKnement
and coarseness: of the true and the false! as it
right to say to the great #onde: "ho "as called .the
pie. by a party among the courtiers: that at his
name the "hales of the 6orth perspired profusely:
3ol0 DH H
and that the subjects of the emperor had epected
to fry and to eat him "ith a grain of salt ! as it
proper to "rite so many letters: only to sho" a lit-
tle of the "it "hich consists in puns and conceits!
4re "e not disgusted "hen 3oiture says to the
great #onde: on the taing of 5unir = .I epect
8/20/2019 Voltaire XIV
you to [email protected] the moon "ith your teeth0. 3oiture ap-
parently acuired this false taste from ?arini: "ho
came into rance "ith ?ary of ?edici0 3oiture
and #ostar freuently cite him as a model in their
letters0 +hey admire his description of the rose:
daughter of 4pril: virgin and ueen: seated on a
thorny throne: etending majestically a o"ery
sceptre: having for courtiers and ministers the amor-
ous family of the @ephyrs: and "earing a crov"i of
gold and a robe of scarlet =
8ella Kglia c+4prile:
corteggiata intorno
(orta c+or; la corona et tfostro il man to0
3oiture: in his thirty-Kfth letter to #ostar: com-
pliments the musical atom of ?arini: the feathered
voice: the living breath clothed in plumage: the
"inged song: the small spirit of harmony: hidden
amidst diminutive lungsJ all of "hich terms are
employed to convey the "ord nightingale=
5ictionary0 %D
vestito di penne: un vivoKato:
Una piuma canora: un canto alato:
Un spiritef che Qfarmonia compos to
3ive in auguste viscere nascosto0
 +he bad taste of [email protected] "as of a diNerent de-
scription J he composed familiar letters in a fustian
style0 9e "rote to the #ardinal de la 3alette: that
neither in the deserts of Libya: nor in the abyss of
the sea: there "as so furious a monster as the sciat-
ica J and that if tyrants: "hose memory is odious
8/20/2019 Voltaire XIV
eual to the sciatica: the martyrs "ould have en-
dured them for their religion0
 +hese emphatic eaggerations these long and
stately periods: so opposed to the epistolary style
these fastidious declamations: garnished "ith 7ree
and Latin: concerning t"o middling sonnets: the
merits of "hich divided the court and the to"n: and
upon the miserable tragedy of .9erod the Infanti-
cide:. all indicate a time and a taste "hich "ere
yet to be formed and corrected0 ven .#inna:. and
the .(rovincial Letters:. "hich astonished the na-
tions: had not yet cleared a"ay the rust0
4s an artist forms his taste by degrees: so does
a nation0 It stagnates for a long time in barbarism J
then it elevates itself feebly: until at length a noon
appears: after "hich "e "itness nothing but a long
and melancholy t"ilight0 It has long been agreed:
that in spite of the solicitude of rancis I0: to pro-
duce a taste in rance for the Kne arts: this taste
%' (hilosophical
CI30: and "e already begin to complain of its de-
generacy0 +he 7rees of the lo"er empire confess:
that the taste "hich reigned in the days of (ericles
"as lost among them: and the modern 7rees admit
the same thing0 Auintilian allo"s that the taste of
the )omans began to decline in his days0
Lope de 3ega made great complaints of the bad
taste of the 2paniards0 +he Italians perceived:
among the Krst: that everything had declined among
them since their immortal siteenth century: and
that they have "itnessed the decline of the arts:
"hich they caused to spring up0
4ddison often attacs the bad taste of the ng-
lish in more than one department as "ell "hen he
ridicules the carved "ig of 2ir #loudesley 2hovel:
as "hen he testiKes his contempt for a serious em-
ployment of conceit and pun: or the introduction of
mountebans in tragedy0
taste has been "anting at certain periods in their
country: their neighbors may certainly feel it: as
8/20/2019 Voltaire XIV
looers-on J and as it is evident among ourselves
that one man has a good and another a bad taste:
it is eually evident that of t"o contemporary na-
tions: the one may be rude and gross: and the other
reKned and natural0
"e disgust the "hole nation to "hich "e allude: as
"e provoe an individual of bad taste "hen "e
5ictionary0 %S
see to improve him0 It is better to "ait until time
and eample instruct a nation "hich sins against
taste0 It is in this "ay that the 2paniards are be-
ginning to reform their drama: and the 7ermans to
create one0
Of 6ational +aste0
 +here is beauty of all times and of all places: and
there is lie"ise local beauty0 louence ought to
be every"here persuasive: grief aNecting: anger im-
petuous: "isdom tranuil J but the details "hich
8/20/2019 Voltaire XIV
some of their most happy metaphors and compari-
sons from the marine: "hile (arisians seldom see
anything of ships0 4ll "hich aNects an nglishman
in relation to liberty: his rights and his privileges:
"ould mae little impression on a renchman0
 +he state of the climate "ill introduce into a cold
and humid country a taste for architecture: furni-
ture: and clothing: "hich may be very good: but
not admissible at )ome or in 2icily0 +heocritus and
3irgil: in their eclogues: boast of the shades and of
the cooling freshness of the fountains0 +homson:
in his .2easons:. d"ells upon contrary attractions0
4n enlightened nation "ith little sociability "ill
not have the same points of ridicule as a nation
eually intellectual: "hich gives in to the spirit of
society even to indiscretion J and: in conseuence:
these t"o nations "ill diNer materially in their com-
edy0 (oetry "ill be very diNerent in a country
%H (hilosophical
they enjoy liberty "ithout bounds0
8ut it "ill al"ays be true that the pastoral paint-
ing of 3irgil eceeds that of +homson: and that
there has been more taste on the bans of the +iber
than on those of the +hamesJ that the natural
scenes of the (astor ido are incomparably superior
to the [email protected] of )acan J and that )acine and
?oliere are inspired persons in comparison "ith the
dramatists of other theatres0
In general: a reKned and certain taste consists
in a uic feeling of beauty amidst defects: and de-
fects amidst beauties0 +he epicure is he "ho can
discern the adulteration of "ines: and feel the pre-
dominating avor in his viands: of "hich his asso-
ciates entertain only a confused and general per-
4re not those deceived "ho say: that it is a mis-
fortune to possess too reKned a taste: and to be too
much of a connoisseur J that in conseuence "e be-
8/20/2019 Voltaire XIV
come too much occupied by defects: and insensible
to beauties: "hich are lost by this fastidiousness!
Is it not: on the contrary: certain that men of taste
alone enjoy true pleasure: "ho see: hear: and feel:
that "hich escapes persons less sensitively organ-
[email protected]: and less mentally disciplined !
 +he connoisseur in music: in painting: in archi-
tecture: in poetry: in medals: etc0: eperiences sen-
5ictionary0 %%
sations of "hich the vulgar have no comprehension J
the discovery even of a fault pleases him: and maes
him feel the beauties "ith more animation0 It is the
advantage of a good sight over a bad one0 +he man
of taste has other eyes: other ears: and another tact
from the uncultivated man J he is displeased "ith
the poor draperies of )aphael: but he admires the
noble purity of his conception0 9e taes a pleas-
ure in discovering that the children of Laocoon
bear no proportion to the height of their father: but
the "hole group maes him tremble: "hile other
spectators are unmoved0
8/20/2019 Voltaire XIV
genius: "ho placed the colossal statue of (eter the
7reat at 2t0 (etersburg: criticises "ith reason the
attitude of the ?oses of ?ichelangelo: and his
small: tight vest: "hich is not even an Oriental cos-
tumeJ but: at the same time: he contemplates the
air and epression of the head "ith ecstasy0
)arity of ?en of +aste0
It is aicting to reect on the prodigious number
of men above all: in cold and damp climates "ho
possess not the least spar of taste: "ho care not for
the Kne arts: "ho never read: and of "hom a large
portion read only a journal once a month: in or-
der to be put in possession of current matter: and
to furnish themselves "ith the ability of saying
things at random: on subjects in regard to "hich
they have only confused ideas0
%F (hilosophical
8/20/2019 Voltaire XIV
"ill you Knd more than one or t"o good libraries:
and those private0 ven in the capital of the prov-
inces "hich possess academies: taste is very rare0
It is necessary to select the capital of a great
ingdom to form the abode of taste: and yet even
there it is very partially divided among a small num-
ber: the populace being "holly ecluded0 It is un-
no"n to the families of traders: and those "ho are
occupied in maing fortunes: "ho are either en-
grossed "ith domestic details: or divided bet"een
unintellectual idleness and a game at cards0 very
place "hich contains the courts of la": the oMces
of revenue: government: and commerce: is closed
against the Kne arts0 It is the reproach of the hu-
man mind that a taste for the common and ordinary
introduces only opulent idleness0 I ne" a com-
missioner in one of the oMces at 3ersailles: "ho
eclaimed = .I am very unhappy J I have not time
to acuire a taste0.
In a to"n lie (aris: peopled "ith more than si
hundred thousand persons: I do not thin there are
three thousand "ho cultivate a taste for the Kne arts0
hen a dramatic masterpiece is represented: a cir-
cumstance so very rare: people eclaim = .4ll (aris
8/20/2019 Voltaire XIV
or less: are printed0
small number of privileged souls0 It "as: there-
5ictionary0 %&
CI30: a ing born "ith taste0
(auci: uos auus amavit
 >upiter: aut ardens: eveit ad athera virtus
5is geniti: potuere0
 +o fe" great >upiter imparts his grace:
4nd those of shining "orth and heavenly race0
Ovid has said in vain: that 7od has created us
to loo up to heaven= .rectos ad sidera tollere
vultus. ?en are al"ays crouching on the ground0
hy has a misshapen statue: or a bad picture: "here
the Kgures are disproportionate: never passed for a
masterpiece ! hy has an ill-built house never been
regarded as a Kne monument of architecture ! hy
in music "ill not sharp and discordant sounds please
the ears of any one! 4nd yet: very bad and bar-
barous tragedies: "ritten in a style perfectly 4llo-
brogian: have succeeded: even after the sublime
scenes of #orneille: the aNecting ones of )acine:
and the Kne pieces "ritten since the latter poet0 It is
only at the theatre that "e sometimes see detestable
compositions succeed both in tragedy and comedy0
hat is the reason of it ! It is: that r0 species of
delusion prevails at the theatre J it is: that the suc-
cess depends upon t"o or three actors: and some-
times even upon a single oneJ and: above all: that
a cabal is formed in favor of such pieces: "hilst men
of taste never form any0 +his cabal often lasts for
an entire generation: and it is so much the more act-
ive: as its object is less to elevate the bad author than
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necessary to adjust the real value of things in the
 +here are three inds of taste: "hich in the long
run prevail in the empire of the arts0 (oussin "as
obliged to uit rance and leave the Keld to an in-
ferior painter J Le ?oine illed himself in despair J
and 3anloo "as near uitting the ingdom: to eer-
cise his talents else"here0 #onnoisseurs alone have
put all of them in possession of the ran belonging
to them0 e often "itness all inds of bad "ors
meet "ith prodigious success0 +he solecisms: bar-
barisms: false statement: and etravagant bombast:
are not felt for a"hile: because the cabal and the
senseless enthusiasm of the vulgar produce an into-
ication "hich discriminates in nothing0 +he con-
noisseurs alone bring bac the public in due time J
and it is the only diNerence "hich eists bet"een
the most enlightened and the most cultivated of na-
tions J for the vulgar of (aris are in no respect be-
yond the vulgar of other countriesJ but in (aris
8/20/2019 Voltaire XIV
lead the cro"d0 +his cro"d is rapidly ecited in
popular movements: but many years are necessary
to establish in it a general good taste in the arts0
mon in the third and fourth centuries0 +he throat
of a bull "as cut on a great stone slightly hoi-
5ictionary0 %$
neath this stone "as a trench: in "hich the person
"hose oNence called for epiation received upon
his body and his face the blood of the immolated
animal0 >ulian the (hilosopher condescended to
submit to this epiation: to reconcile himself to the
priests of the 7entiles0
(O( (ius II0: in an epistle to >ohn (eregal: ac-
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"ithout money J it sells even the imposition of hands
and the gifts of the 9oly 7host J nor does it grant
the remission of sins to any but the rich0
8efore him: 2t0 4ntonine: archbishop of lor-
ence: had observed that in the time of 8oniface IC0:
"ho died in DHEH: the )oman court "as so infa-
mously stained "ith simony: that beneKces "ere con-
ferred: not so much on merit: as on those "ho
brought a deal of money0 9e adds: that this pope
Klled the "orld "ith plenary indulgences J so that
the small churches: on their festival days: obtained
them at a lo" price0
 +hat pontiN;s secretary: +heodoric de 6ieur:
does indeed inform us: that 8oniface sent uestors
into diNerent ingdoms: to sell indulgences to such
as should oNer them as much money as it "ould
have cost them to mae a journey to )ome to fetch
them J so that they remitted all sins: even "ithout
FE (hilosophical
for money: dispensations for irregularities of every
sortJ saying: that they had in that respect all the
po"er "hich #hrist had granted to (eter: of binding
and unbinding on earth0
4nd: "hat is still more singular: the price of
every crime is Ked in a Latin "or: printed at
)ome by order of Leo C0: and published on 6o-
vember DG: D%DH: under the title of ;+aes of the
9oly and 4postolic #hancery and (enitentiary0.
4mong many other editions of this boo: pub-
lished in diNerent countries: the (aris edition
uarto D%'E: +oussaint 5enis: )ue 2t0 >acues: at
the "ooden cross: near 2t0 ,ves: "ith the ing;s
privilege: for three years bears in the frontispiece
the arms of rance: and those of the house of ?ed-
ici: to "hich Leo C0 belonged0 +his must have de-
ceived the author of the .(icture of the (opes.
Q+ableau de (apesR: "ho attributes the establish-
ment of these taes to Leo C0: although (olydore
3irgil: and #ardinal d;Ossat agree in King the
period of the invention of the chancery ta about
the year DS'E: and the commencement of the peni-
tentiary ta about siteen years later: in the time
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of 8enedict CII0
 +o give some idea of these taes: "e "ill here
copy a fe" articles from the chapter of absolutions =
4bsolution for one "ho has carnally no"n his
mother: his sister: etc0: costs Kve drachmas0 4bso-
lution for one "ho has deo"ered a virgin: si
5ictionary0 FD
another;s confession: seven drachmas0 4bsolution
for one "ho has illed his father: his mother: etc0:
Kve drachmas0 4nd so of other sins: as "e shall
shortly see J but: at the end of the boo: the prices
are estimated in ducats0
4 sort of letters too are here spoen of: called
confessional: by "hich: at the approach of death: the
pope permits a confessor to be chosen: "ho gives
full pardon for every sin J these letters are granted
only to princes: and not to them "ithout great dif-
Kculty0 +hese particulars "ill be found in page S'
of the (aris edition0
 +he court of )ome "as at length ashamed of this
boo: and suppressed it as far as it "as able0 It
"as even inserted in the epurgatory inde of the
#ouncil of +rent: on the false supposition that here-
tics had corrupted it0
It is true that 4ntoine 5u (inet: a rench gen-
tleman of ranche-#omte: had an abstract of it
printed at Lyons in D%FH: under this title= .#asual
(eruisites of the (ope;s 2hop. Q+aes des (arties
#asuclles de la 8outiue du (apcR: .taen from the
5ecrees: #ouncils: and #anons: ancient and modern:
in order to verify the discipline formerly observed
in the #hurchJ by 40 50 (0. 8ut: although he
does not inform us that his "or is but an abridg-
ment of the other: yet: far from corrupting his orig-
inal: he on the contrary stries out of it some odious
passages: such as the follo"ing: beginning page 'S:
F' (hilosophical
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having "here"ith: they cannot be consoled0.
It is also true: that 5u (inet estimates these taes
in tournois: ducats: and carlins J but: as he observes
Qpage H'R that the carlins and the drachmas are of
the same value: the substituting for the ta of Kve:
si: or seven drachmas in the original: the lie num-
ber of carlins: is not falsifying it0 e have a proof
of this in the four articles already uoted from the
of his indred by birth or aMnity: or his godmother:
is taed at Kve carlins0 4bsolution for one "ho
deo"ers a young "oman: is taed at si carlins0
4bsolution for one "ho reveals the confession of
a penitent: is taed at seven carlins0 4bsolution for
one "ho has illed his father: his mother: his
brother: his sister: his "ife: or any of his indred
they being of the laity is taed at Kve carlins J for
if the deceased "as an ecclesiastic: the homicide
"ould be obliged to visit the sanctuary0 e "ill
here repeat a fe" others0
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fornication "hatsoever: committed by a cler: