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When we have made some modest remonstrances upon this strange tyranny on the part of people who have vowed to God to be poor and humble, they will then reply to us : We have enjoyed this right for six hundred years; why then despoil us of it? We may humbly rejoin, that for these thirty or forty thousand years,
the weazels have been in the habit of sucking the blood of our pullets; yet we assume to ourselves the right of destroying them when we can catch them.
N.B. It is a mortal sin for a chartreux to, eat half an ounce of mutton, but he may with a safe conscience devour the entire substance of a family. I have seen the chartreux in my neighbourhood inherit an hundred thousand crowns from one of their mainmortable slaves, who had made a fortune by commerce at Frankfort. But all the truth must be told: it is no less true, that his family enjoys the right of soliciting alms at the gate of the convent.
Let us suppose that the monks have still fifty or sixty thousand slaves in the kingdom of France. Time has not been found hitherto to reform this christian jurisprudence; but something is beginning to be thought about it. It is only to wait a few hundred years,
until the debts of the state be paid.*
SLEEPERS (THE SEVEN). FABLE-supposes that one Epimenides, in a single nap, slept twenty-seven years, and that on his awaking he was quite astonished at finding his grandchildren married—who asked him his name-his friends dead, his town and the manners of its inhabitants changed. It was a fine field for criticism, and a pleasant subject for a
* It is scarcely necessary to observe how the debts of the state were paid, and still less so to call attention to the detestable oppression which the revolution, whatever its own character, put an end to. It is easy to talk of the sufferings of priests and nobles during this convulsion ; but a slight glance at the details in this article, and similar exposures, will rapidly supply two sides to the question.-T.
comedy. The legend has borrowed all the features of the fable, and enlarged upon them.
The author of the Golden Legend was not the first who in the thirteenth century, instead of one sleeper, gave us seven, and bravely made them seven martyrs. He took this edifying history from Gregory de Tours, a veridical writer, who took it from Sigebert, who took it from Metaphrastes, who had taken it from Nicephorus. It is thus that truth is handed down from man to man.
The reverend father Peter Ribadeneira, of the company of Jesus, goes still further in his celebrated Flower of the Saints, of which mention is made in Molière's Tartuffe. It was translated, augmented, and enriched with engravings, by the reverend father Antony Girard, of the same society: nothing was wanting to it.
Some of the curious will doubtless like to see the prose
of the reverend father Girard : behold a specimen!
“ In the time of the emperor Decius, the church experienced a violent and fearful persecution. Among other christians, seven brothers were accused, young, well-disposed, and graceful; they were the children of a knight of Ephesus, and called Maximilian, Marius, Martinian, Dionysius, John, Serapion, and Constantine. The emperor first took from them their golden girdles; when they hid themselves in a cavern, the entrance of which Decius caused to be walled up,
that they might die of hunger.”
Father Girard proceeds to say, that all seven quickly fell asleep, and did not awake again until they had slept one hundred and seventy-seven years.
Father Girard, far from believing that this is the dream of a man awake, proves its authenticity by the most demonstrative arguments; and when he could find no other proof, alleges the names of these seven sleepers-names never being given to people who have not existed. The seven sleepers doubtless could neither be deceived nor deceivers, so that it is not to dispute this history that we speak of it, but merely to re
mark, that there is not a single fabulous event of antiquity which has not been rectified by ancient legendaries. All the history of Edipus, Hercules, and Theseus, is found among them, accommodated to their style. They have invented little, but they have perfected much.
I ingenuously confess, that I know not whence Nicephorus took this fine story. I suppose it was from the tradition of Ephesus; for the cave of the seven sleepers, and the little church dedicated to them, still exist. The least awakened of the poor Greeks still
there to perform their devotions. Sir Paul Rycaut and several other English travellers have seen these two monuments; but as to their devotions there, we hear nothing about them.
Let us conclude this little article with the reasoning of Abbadie: “ These are memorials instituted to celebrate for ever the adventure of the seven sleepers. No Greek in Ephesus has ever doubted of it, and these Greeks could not have been deceived, nor deceive anybody else; therefore the history of the seven sleepers is incontestable."
SLOW BELLIES (VENTRES PARESSEUX).
St. Paul says, that the Cretans were all • liars,' Sevil beasts,' and slow bellies.'* The physician Hequet understood by slow bellies, that the Cretans were costive, which vitiated their blood, and rendered them ill-disposed and mischievous. It is doubtless very true, that persons of this habit are more prone to choler than others: their bile passes cumulates until their blood is overheated.
When you have a favour to beg of a minister, or his first secretary, inform yourself adroitly of the state of his stomach, and always seize on “mollia fandi tempora.'
No one is ignorant, that our character and turn of mind are intimately connected with the water-closet. Cardinal Richelieu was sanguinary, because he had
* Ep. to Titus, i. 12.
SLOW BELLIES (VENTRES PARESSEUX). the piles, which afflicted his rectum and hardened his disposition. Queen Anne of Austria always called him 'cul pourri' (sore bottom), which nickname redoubled his bile, and possibly cost marshal Marillac his life, and marshal Bassompierre his liberty; but I cannot discover why certain persons should be greater liars than others. There is no known connection between the anine sphincter and falsehood, like that very sensible one between our stomach and our passions, our manner of thinking and our conduct.
I am much disposed to believe, that by slow bellies' St. Paulunderstood voluptuous men and gross feedersa kind of priors, canons, and abbots-commendatory-rich prelates, who lay in bed all the morning to recover from the excesses of the evening, as Marot observes in his eighty-sixth epigram in regard to a fat prior, who lay in bed and fondled his grandson while his partridges were preparing:
Un gros prieur son petit fils baisait,
Tandis rotir sa perdrix en faisait, &c. But people may lie in bed all the morning without being either liars or badly disposed. On the contrary, the voluptuously indolent are generally socially gentle, and easy in their commerce with the world.
However this may be, I regret that St. Paul should offend an entire people. In this passage, humanly speaking, there is neither politeness, ability, or even truth. Nothing is gained from men by calling them evil beasts; and doubtless men of merit were to be found in Crete. Why thus outrage the country of Minos, which archbishop Fenelon, infinitely more polished than St. Paul, so much eulogises in his Telemachus ?
Was not St. Paul somewhat difficult to live with, of a proud spirit, and of a hard and imperious character? If I had been one of the apostles, or even a disciple only, I should infallibly have quarrelled with him. It appears to me, that the fault was all on his side, in his dispute with Simon Peter Barjonas. He had a furious passion for domination. He often' boasts of being an
apostle, and more an apostle than his associates--he who had assisted to stone St. Stephen, he who had been assistant persecutor under Gamaliel, and who was called upon to weep longer for his crimes than St. Peter for his weakness !-always however humanly speaking
He boasts of being a Roman citizen born at Tarsus, whereas St. Jerome pretends, that he was a poor provincial Jew, born at Giscala in Galilee. In his letters addressed to the small flock of his brethren, he always speaks magisterially—“ I will come," says he to cer. tain Corinthians, and I will judge of you all on the testimony of two or three witnesses; and I will neither pardon those who have sinned, nor others.” This ‘nor others' is somewhat severe.
Many men at present would be disposed to take the part of St. Peter against St. Paul, but for the episode of Ananias and Sapphira, which has intimidated persons inclined to bestow alms.
I return to my text of the Cretan liars, evil beasts, and slow bellies; and I recommend to all missionaries never to commence their labours among any people with insults.
It is not that I regard the Cretans as the most just and respectable of men, as they were called by fabulous Greece. I pretend not to reconcile their pretended virtue with the pretended bull of which the beautiful Pasiphæ was so much enamoured; nor with the skill exerted by the artisan Dædalus in the construction of a cow of brass, by which Pasiphe was enabled to produce a Minotaur, to whom the pious and equitable Minos sacrificed every year—and not every nine years-seven grown-up boys and seven virgins of Athens.
It is not that I believe in the hundred large cities in Crete, meaning a hundred poor villages standing upon a long and narrow rock, with two or three towns. It is to be regretted, that Rollin, in his elegant compilation of Ancient History, has repeated so many of the ancient fables of Crete, and that of Minos among others.
With respect to the poor Greeks and Jews who now inhabit the steep mountains of this island, under the