These three reasons have not proved convincing :1st. When the beloved, in speaking to her lover, says,

." The king hath brought me into his chamber," she evidently speaks of another than her lover; therefore the king is not this lover; it is the king of the festival; it is the paranymph, the master of the house, whom she means; and this Jewess is so far from being the mistress of a king, that throughout the work she is a shepherdess, a country girl, who goes seeking her lover through the fields, and in the streets of the town, and who is stopped at the gates by a porter who steals her garment.

2d. “ I am beautiful as the curtains of Solomon," is the expression of a villager, who would say, I am as beautiful as the king's tapestries; and it is precisely because the name of Solomon is found in this work, that it cannot be his. What monarch could make so ridiculous a comparison?“ Behold," says the beloved, “ behold king Solomon with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals!" Who recognises not in these expressions the common comparisons which girls make in speaking of their lovers? They say,– He is as beautiful as a prince; he has the air of a king, &c.

It is true, that the shepherdess, who is made to speak in this amorous song, says that she is tanned by the sun, that she is brown. Now if this was the daughter. of the king of Egypt, she was not so tanned. Females of quality in Egypt were fair. Cleopatra was so; and, in a word, this person could not be at once a peasant

and a queen,

It is

A monarch who had a thousand wives, might have said to one of them," Let her kiss me with the lips of her mouth; for thy breasts are better than wine.” A king and a shepherd, when the subject is of kissing, might express themselyes in the same manner. true, that it is strange enough it should be pretended, that the girl speaks in this place, and eulogises the breasts of her lover.

We further avow, that a gallant king might have said to his mistress, -"A bundle of myrrh is my wellbeloved unto me; he shall lie all night between my breasts.”

That he might have said to her,--" Thy navel is like a round goblet which wanteth not liquor; thy belly is like an heap of wheat set about with lilies; thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins; thy neck is as a tower of ivory; thine eyes like the fishpools in Heshbon; and thy nose as the tower of Lebanon."

I confess, that the eclogues of Virgil are in a different style; but each has his own, and a Jew is not obliged to write like Virgil.

We have not noticed this fine turn of eastern eloquence: “ We have a little sister, and she hath no breasts. What shall we do for our sister in the day when she shall be spoken for? If she be a wall, we will build upon her; and if she be a door, we will close it."

Solomon, the wisest of men, might have spoken thus in his merry moods; but several rabbins have maintained, not only that that this voluptuous eclogue was not king Solomon's, but that it is not authentic. Theodore of Mopsuestes was of this opinion; and the celebrated Grotius calls the Song of Songs a libertine flagitious work, However, it is consecrated, and we regard it as a perpetual allegory of the marriage of Jesus Christ with the church. We must confess, that the allegory is rather strong, and we see not what the church could understand, when the author says that his little sister has no breasts.

After all, this song is a precious relic of antiquity; it is the only book of love of the Hebrews which remains to us. Enjoyment is often spoken of in it. It is a Jewish eclogue. The style is like that of all the eloquent works of the Hebrews, withoutconnection, without order, full of repetition, confused, ridiculously metaphorical, but containing passages which breathe simplicity and love.

The book of Wisdom is in a more serious taste; but it is no more Solomon's than the Song of Songs. It


is generally attributed to Jesus, the son of Sirac, and by some to Philo of Biblos ; but whoever may be the author, it is believed, that in his time the Pentateuch did not exist; for he says, in chapter 10, that Abraham was going to sacrifice Isaac at the time of the deluge; and in another place he speaks of the patriarch Joseph as of a king of Egypt. At least it is the most natural

The worst of it is, that the author in the same chapter pretends, that in his time the statue of salt into which Lot's wife was changed was to be seen. What critics find still worse is, that the book appears to them a tiresome mass of common places; but they should consider, that such works are not made to follow the vain rules of eloquence. They are written to edify, and not to please, and we should even combat our disinclination to read them.

It is very likely, that Solomon was rich and learned for his time and people. Exaggeration, the inseparable companion of greatness, attributes riches to him which he could not have possessed, and books which he could not have written. Respect for antiquity has since consecrated these errors.

But what signifies it to us, that these books were written by a Jew? Our christian religion is founded on the Jewish, but not on all the books which the Jews have written.

For instance, why should the Song of Songs be more sacred to us than the fables of Talmud? It is, say they, because we have comprised it in the canon of the Hebrews. And what is this canon? It is a col. lection of authentic works. Well, must a work be divine, to be authentic? A history of the little kingdoms of Judah and Sichem, for instance—is it anything but a history? This is a strange prejudice. We hold the Jews in horror, and we insist that all which has been written by them, and collected by us, bears the stamp of Divinity. There never was so palpable a contradiction.





I HAVE seen a somnambulist, but he contented himself with rising, dressing himself, making a bow, and dancing a minuet, all which he did very properly; and having again undressed himself, returned to bed and continued to sleep.

This comes not near the somnambulist of the Encyclopedia. The last was a young seminarist, who set himself to compose a sermon in his sleep. He wrote it correctly, read it from one end to the other, or at least appeared to read it, made corrections, erased some lines, substituted others, and inserted an omitted word. He even composed music, noted it with precision, and after preparing his paper with his ruler, placed the words under the notes without the least mistake, &c. &c.

It is said, that an archbishop of Bourdeaux has witnessed all these operations, and many others equally astonishing. It is to be wished, that this prelate had affixed his attestation to the account, signed by his grand vicars, or at least by his secretary.

But supposing that this somnambulist has done all which is imputed to him, I would persist in putting the same queries to him as to a simple dreamer. I would say to him,-You have dreamed more forcibly than another; but it is upon the same principle; one has had a fever only, the other a degree of madness; but both the one and the other have received ideas and sensations to which they have not attended. You have both done what you did not intend to do.

Of two dreamers, the one has not a single idea, the other a crowd; the one is as insensible as marble, while the other experiences desires and enjoyments. A lover composes a song on his mistress in a dream, and in his delirium imagines himself to be reading a tender letter from her, which he repeats aloud:

Scribit amatori meretrix; dat adultera munus
In noctis spatio miserdrum vulnera durant.

PETRONIUS, chap. civ. Does anything pass within you during this powerful dream more than what passes every day when you are awake?

You, Mr. Seminarist, born with the gift of imitation, you have listened to some hundred sermons, and your brain is prepared to make them : moved by the talent of imitation, you have written them waking; and you are led by the same talent and impulse when you are asleep. But how have you been able to become a preacher in a dream? You went to sleep, without any desire to preach. Remember well the first time that you were led to compose the sketch of a sermon whilst awake. You thought not of it a quarter of an hour before; but seated in your chamber, occupied in a reverie, without any determinate ideas, your memory recals, without your will interfering, the remembrance of a certain holiday; this holiday reminds you that sermons are delivered on that day; you remember a text; this text suggests an exordium ; pens, ink, and paper are lying near you; and you begin to write things you had not the least previous intention of writing.

Such is precisely what came to pass in your noctambulism.

You believe yourself, both in the one and the other occupation, to have done only what you intended to do; and you have been directed without consciousness by all which preceded the writing of the sermon.

In the same manner when, on coming from vespers, you are shut


in your cell to meditate, you have no design to occupy yourself with the image of your fair neighbour; but it somehow or another intrudes; your imagination is inflamed; and I need not refer to the consequences.

You may have experienced the same adventure in your sleep.

What share has your will had in all these modifications of sensation? The same that it has had in the

« ElőzőTovább »