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What is space?" There is no space in void,” exclaimed Leibnitz, after having admitted a void; but when he admitted a void, he had not embroiled himself with Newton, nor disputed with him on the calculus of fluxions, of which Newton was the inventor. This dispute breaking out, there was no longer space or a void for Leibnitz.
Fortunately, whatever may be said by philosophers on these insolvable questions, whether it be for Epicurus, for Gassendi, for Newton, for Descartes, or Rohaut, the laws of motion will be always the same.
Que Rohaut vainement séche pour concevoir
BOILEAU, Ep. v. 31, 32. That Rohaut exhausts himself by vainly endeavouring to understand how motion can exist in a plenum, will ~ not prevent our vessels from sailing to the Indies, and
all motion proceeding with regularity. Pure space, you say, can neither be matter, nor spirit; and as there is nothing in this world but matter and spirit, there can therefore be no space.
So, gentlemen, you assert that there is only matter and spirit, to us who know so little either of the one or the other-a pleasant decision truly! “There are only two things in nature, and these we know not.” Montezuma reasons more justly in the English tragedy of Dryden “ Why come you here to tell me of the emperor* Charles the Fifth? There are but two emperors in the world; he of Peru and myself.” Montezuma spoke of two things with which he was acquainted, but we speak of two things of which we have no precise idea.
We are very pleasant atoms. We make God a spirit in a mode of our own; and because we denomi
* Some petty prince, and one of little fame,
For to this hour I never heard his name;
nate that faculty spirit, which the supreme, universal, eternal, and all-powerful Being has given us, of combining a few ideas in our little brain, of the extent of six inches more or less, we suppose God to be a spirit in the same sense. God always in our image-honest souls!
But how if there be millions of beings of another nature from our matter, of which we know only a few qualities, and from our spirit, our ideal breath of which we accurately know nothing at all?—and who can assert that these millions of beings exist not; or suspects not that God, demonstrated to exist by his works, is eminently different from all these beings, and that space may not be one of them? We are far from asserting with Lucretius
Ergo, preter inane et corpora, tertia per se
Lib. i. v. 446, 447.
CREECH. But may we venture to believe with him, that space is infinite ?
Has any one been ever able to answer his question:Speed an arrrow from the limits of the world—will it fall into nothing, into nihility?
Clarke, who spoke in the name of Newton, pretends that “space has properties; for since it is extended, it is measurable, and therefore exists." But if weanswer, that something may be put where there is nothing, what answer will be made by Newton and Clarke?
Newton regards space as the sensorium of God. I thought that I understood this grand saying formerly, because I was young; at present I understand it no more than his explanation of the apocalypse. Space, the sensorium, the internal organ of God! I lose both Newton and myself there.
Newton thought, according to Locke, that the creation might be explained by supposing that God, by an act of his will and his power, had rendered space impenetrable. It is melancholy that a genius so profound as that possessed by Newton should suggest such unintelligible things.
STAGE (POLICE OF THE). Kings of France were formerly excommunicated; all from Philip I. to Louis VIII. were solemnly so; as also the emperors from Henry IV. to Louis of Bavaria inclusively. The kings of England had likewise a very decent part of these favours from the court of Rome. It was the rage of the times, and this rage cost six or seven hundred thousand men their lives. They actually excommunicated the representatives of monarchs; I do not mean ambassadors, but players, who are kings and emperors three or four times a week, and who govern the universe to procure a livelihood.
I scarcely know of any but this profession, and that of magicians, to which this honour could now be paid;
sorcerers have ceased for the eighty years that sound philosophy has been known to men, there are no longer any victims but Alexander, Cæsar, Athalia, Polyeuctus, Andromache, Brutus, Zaire, and Harlequin.
The principal reason given is, that these gentlemen and ladies represent the passions; but if depicting the human heart merits so horrible a disgrace, a greater rigour should be used with painters and statuaries. There are many licentious pictures which are publicly sold, while we do not represent a single dramatic poem which maintains not the strictest decorum. The Venus of Titian and that of Corregio are quite naked, and are at all times dangerous for our modest youth; but comedians only recite the admirable lines of Cinna for about two hours, and with the approbation of the magistracy under the royal authority. Why therefore are these living personages on the stage more condemned than these mute comedians on canvas? “ Ut pictura poësis erit.” What would Sophocles and Euripides have said, if they could have foreseen that a people, who only ceased to be barbarous by imitating them, would one day inflict this disgrace upon the stage, which in their time received such high glory?
Esopus and Roscius were not Roman senators, it is
true; but the Flamen did not declare them infamous; and the art of Terence was not doubted. The great pope and prince Leo X., to whom we owe the renewal of good tragedy and comedy in Europe, and who caused dramatic pieces to be represented in his palace with so much magnificence, foresaw not that one day, in a part of Gaul, the descendants of the Celts and the Goths would believe they had a right to disgrace that which he honoured. If cardinal Richelieu had lived -- he who caused the Palais-Royal to be built, and to whom France owes the stage-he would no longer have suffered them to have dared to cover those with igno, miny, whom he employed to recite his own works.
It must be confessed, that they were heretics who began to outrage the finest of all the arts.
Leo X., having revived the tragic scene, the pretended reformers required nothing more to exclaim, that it was the work of Satan. Thus the town of Geneva, and several illustrious places of Switzerland, have been an hundred and fifty years without suffering a violin amongst them. The jansenists, who now dance on the tomb of St. Paris, to the great edification of the neighbourhood, in the last century forbad a princess of Conti, whom they governed, to allow her son to learn dancing, saying that dancing was too profane. However, as it was necessary he should be graceful, he was taught the minuet, but they would not allow a violin, and the director was a long time before he would suffer the prince of Conti to be taught with castanets. A few catholic Visigoths on this side the Alps, therefore, fearing the reproaches of the reformers, cried as loudly as they did. Thus, by degrees, the fashion of defaming Cæsar and Pompey, and of refusing certain ceremonies to certain persons paid by the king, and labouring under the eyes of the magistracy, was established in France. We do not declaim against this abuse; for who would embroil himself with powerful men of the present time, for Phedra and heroes of past ages ?*
* The reader will recollect, that the miserable fanatics, restored to partial influence by the return of the Bourbons, resumed the display of this execrable and inconsistent bigotry, at the burial of
We are content with finding this rigour absurd, and with always paying our full tribute of admiration to the master-pieces of our stage.
Rome, from whom we have learned our catechism, uses it not as we do; she has always known how to temper her laws according to times and occasions; she has known how to distinguish impudent mountebanks, who were formerly rightly censured, from the dramatic pieces of Trissin, and of several bishops and cardinals who have assisted to revive tragedy.
Even at present comedies are publicly represented at Rome in religious houses. Ladies go to them without scandal; they think not that dialogues, recited on boards, are a diabolical infamy: We have even seen the piece of . George Dandin' executed at Rome by nuns, in the presence of a crowd of ecclesiastics and ladies. The wise Romans are above all careful how they excommunicate the gentlemen who sing the trebles in the Italian operas; for, in truth, it is enough to be castrated in this world, without being damned in the other.
In the good time of Louis XIV. there was always a bench at the spectacles, which was called the bench of bishops. I have been a witness, that in the minority of Louis XV. cardinal Fleuri, then bishop of Frejus, was very anxious to revive this custom. With other times and other manners, we are apparently much wiser than in the times in which the whole of Europe came to admire our shows, when Richelieu revived the stage in France, when Leo X. renewed the age of Augustus in Italy: but a time will come in which our children, seeing the impertinent work of father Le Brun against the art of Sophocles, and the works of our great men printed at the same time, will exclaim-Is it possible that the French could thus contradict themselves, and that the most absurd barbarity has so proudly raised
an actress named Raucour, whom they were obliged to bury after all. England, however, must not boast too much in this respec as a silly country rector not long ago refused to bury the child of a dissenter; and similar pranks, by brainless bigots of this description, occur sufficiently often to show, that Martin can now and then act as stupidly as his brother Peter.—T.