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of Germany, the inhabitants went into the streets on stilts.
At length, under Louis XIV. were begun those great roads which other nations have imitated. Their width was limited to sixty feet in the year 1720. They are bordered by trees in many places to the extent of thirty leagues from the capital, which has a most interesting and delightful effect. The Roman military ways were only sixteen feet wide, but were infinitely more solid. It was necessary to repair them every year, as is the practice with us. They were embellished by monuments, by military columns, and even by magnificent tombs; for it was not permitted, either in Greece or Italy, to bury the dead within the walls of cities, and still less within those of temples; to do so would have been no less an offence than sacrilege. It was not then as it is at present in our churches, in which, for a sum of money, ostentatious and barbarous vanity is allowed to deposit the dead bodies of wealthy citizens, infecting the very place where men assemble to adore their God in purity, and where incense seems to be burnt solely to counteract the stench of carcases ; while the poorer classes are deposited in the adjoining cemetery; and both unite their fatal influence to spread contagion among survivors.
The emperors were almost the only persons whose ashes were permitted to repose in the monuments erected at Rome.
Highways sixty feet in width occupy too much land; it is about forty feet more than necessary.
France measures two hundred leagues, or thereabouts, from the mouth of the Rhone to the extremity of Bretagne, and about the same from Perpignan to Dunkirk; reckoning the league at two thousand five hundred toises. This calculation requires, merely for two great roads, an hundred and twenty millions of square feet of land, all which must of course be lost to agriculture. This loss is very considerable in a country where the harvests are by no means always abundant.
An attempt was made to pave the high road from Orleans, which was not of the width above-mentioned;
but it was seen, in no long time, that nothing could be worse contrived for a road constantly covered with heavycarriages. Of these hewn paving stones laid on the ground, some will be constantly sinking, and others rising, above the correct level, and the road becomes rugged, broken, and impracticable; it was therefore found necessary that the plan should be abandoned.
Roads covered with gravel and sand require a renewal of labour every year: this labour interferes with the cultivation of land, and is ruinous to agriculture.
M. Turgot, son of the mayor of Paris, whose name is never mentioned in that city but with blessings, and who was one of the most enlightened, patriotic, and zealous of magistrates—and the humane and beneficent M. de Fontette—have done all in their power, in the provinces of Limousin and Normandy,* to correct this most serious inconvenience.
It has been contended, that we should follow the example of Augustus and Trajan, and employ our troops in the construction of highways. But in that case the soldier must necessarily have an increase of pay; and a kingdom, which was nothing but a province of the Roman empire, and which is often involved in debt, can rarely engage in such undertakings as the Roman empire accomplished without difficulty.
It is a very commendable practice in the Low Coun
* M. de Turgot, when comptroller-general, obtained from the justness and goodness of the king an edict which abolished the corvée, and substituted in its room a general land-tax. But he was compelled to exempt the property of the clergy from that tax, and to fix a part of it upon the tailles.' Notwithstanding however these unfortunate deductions from its general value, it was one of the greatest benefits that could possibly have been conferred upon the nation. This edict, registered in a bed of justice, was in force only for three months; but eight or nine generalities have followed the example of that of Limoges. The country is also indebted to M. Turgot for restricting the width of roads within convenient limits. The roads which have been constructed through his influence in Limousin, are master-pieces of workmanship, and formed on the same principles as the Roman ways, of which some remains still exist in the Gauls; while the roads formed upon the old system of corvée are, inevitably,exceedingly ill-constructed at first, and eternally requiring repairs, so as to be an incessant charge upon the people.- French Ed.
tries to require the payment of a, moderate toll from all carriages, in order to keep the public roads in proper repair. The burden is a very light one. The peasant is relieved from the old system of vexation and oppression, and the roads are in such fine preservation as to form even an agreeable continued promenade.
Canals are much more useful still. The Chinese surpass all other people in these works, which require continual attention and repair. Louis XIV., Colbert, and Riquet, have immortalised themselves by the canal which joins the two seas. They have never been as yet imitated. It is no difficult matter to travel through a great part of France by canals. Nothing could be more easy in Germany than to join the Rhine to the Danube; but men appear to prefer ruining one another's fortunes, and cutting each other's throats about a few paltry villages, to extending the grand means of human happiness.
The Theurgists and ancient sages had always a rod with which they operated.
Mercury passes for the first whose rod worked miracles. It is asserted, that Zoroaster also bore a great rod. The rod of the ancient Bacchus was his Thyrsus, with which he separated the waters of the Orontes, the Hydaspus, and the Red Sea. The rod of Hercules was his club. Pythagoras was always represented with his rod. It is said it was of gold; and it is not surprising, that having a thigh of gold, he should possess a rod of the same metal.
Abaris, priest of the hyperborean Apollo, who it is pretended was contemporary with Pythagoras, was still more famous for his rod. It was indeed only of wood, but he traversed the air astride on it. Porphyry and Iamblichus pretend, that these two grand
* It may be observed, that many of these hints of Voltaire have been subsequently attended to.-T.
Theurgists, Abaris and Pythagoras, amicably exhibited their rods to each other.
The rod, with sages, was at all times a sign of their superiority. The sorcerers of the privy council of Pharoah at first effected as many feats with their rods, as Moses with his own. The judicious Calmet informs us, in his Dissertation on the book of Exodus, that “ these operations of the magi were not miracles, properly speaking, but metamorphoses, viz. singular and difficult indeed, but nevertheless neither contrary to nor above the laws of nature.” The rod of Moses had the superiority which it ought to have over those of the Chotins of Egypt.
Not only did the rod of Aaron share in the honour of the prodigies of that of his brother Moses, but he performed some admirable things with his own. No
can be ignorant that, out of thirteen rods, Aaron's alone blossomed, and bore buds and flowers of almonds.
The devil, who, as is well-known, is a wicked aper of the deeds of saints, would also have his rod or wand, with which he gratified the sorcerers. Medea and Circe were always armed with this mysterious instrument. Hence, a magician never appears at the opera without this rod, and on which account they call their parts, "roles de baguette."
No performer with cups and balls can manage his hey presto! without his rod or wand.
Springs of water and hidden treasures are discovered by the means of a rod made of a hazel twig, which fails not to press the hand of a fool who holds it too fast, but which turns about easily in that of a knave. M. Formey, secretary of the academy of Berlin, explains this phenomenon by that of the loadstone. All the conjurors of past times, it was thought, repaired to a sabbath or assembly on a magic rod or on a broomstick; and judges, who were no conjurors, burned them.
Birchen rods are formed of a handful of twigs of that tree with which malefactors are scourged on the
Nantes.) A sense of decency and propriety is driving this disof Great Britain, and with the existing generation of prejudiced
back. It is indecent and shameful to scourge in this manner the posteriors of young boys and girls; a punishment which was formerly that of slaves. I have seen, in some colleges, barbarians who have stripped children almost naked, a kind of executioner, often intoxicated, lacerate them with long rods, which frequently covered them with blood and produced extreme inflammation. Others struck them more gently, which from natural causes has been known to produce consequences, especially in females, scarcely less disgusting.
By an incomprehensible species of police, the jesuits of Paraguay whipped the fathers and mothers of families on their posteriors.* Had there been no other motive for driving out the jesuits, that would have sufficed.
ROME (COURT OF). BEFORE the time of Constantine, the bishop of Rome was considered by the Roman magistrates, who were unacquainted with our holy religion, only as the chief of a secret sect, frequently tolerated by the government, but sometimes experiencing from it capital punishment. The names of the first
disciples, who were by birth Jews, and of their successors, who governed the little flock concealed in the immense city of Rome, were absolutely unknown by all the Latin writers. We well know that everything was changed, and in what manner everything was changed, under Constantine.
The bishop of Rome, protected and enriched as he * See the voyage of M. Bourgainville, and letters on Paraguay.
+ At the time of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, in the convent in which the girls
were shut up who were torn from the refused to assist at mass on Sundays. When the nuns thought sems of their parents, they were fiercely whipped when they themselves not strong enough, they demanded assistance from ihe
was executed by grenadiers in the pedagogues it will most
garrison, and the whipping
probably expire altogether.-T.