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Rhea Silvia of Romulus. Thus Arlequin was right in saying, on seeing all that passed in the world:
“ Tutto il mondo è fatto come la nostra famiglia.”
“ All the world is formed like our family." The religion of this Siamese proves to us that no legislator ever taught immorality. Take notice, reader, that the morality of Brama, of Zoroaster, Numa, Thaut, Pythagoras, Mahomet, and even of the fish Oannes, is the same. I have often said, that a man would be stoned who should preach relaxed morals ; and this is why the jesuits themselves have had such austere preachers.
The rules which Sammonocodom gives to the talapoins, his disciples, are as severe as those of St. Basil and St. Bennet.
Fly from singing, dances, assemblies, and all which can soften the soul.” “ Have neither gold nor silver.”
Speak only of justice, and labour for her alone.”
Sleep little, eat little, and have but one coat.” " Never jest. “Meditate in secret, and reflect often on the frailty of human things."
By what fatality, by what misfortune, has it happened, that in all countries the excellence of so holy and necessary a morality has always been dishonoured by extravagant stories, and by more ridiculous prodigies than all the fables of the Metamorphoses? Why is there not a single religion, the precepts of which are not those of a sage, and the dogmas those of a fool ? It is well understood that I except our own, which is infinitely wise in all senses.
Is it not, that legislators contenting themselves with giving useful and reasonable precepts, the disciples and commentators on the first disciples would improve upon them? They have said-We shall not be sufficiently respected, if our founder does not boast something supernatural and divine. Our Numa must absolutely have had meetings with the nymph Egeria; one of the thighs of Pythagoras must be of pure gold; and the mother of
Sammonocodom must be a virgin, even while bringing him forth; he must be born on a rose, and become a god.
The first Chaldeans have only transmitted to us some very honest moral precepts; this is not sufficient—it is much finer, that these precepts should have been announced by a pike which came twice a day from the bottom of the Euphrates to preach a sermon.
These unlucky disciples, these detestable commentators, have not foreseen that they might pervert mankind. All reasonable people say—These are very good precepts; I might have said as much myself; but as to these doctrines, they are impertinent, absurd, revolting, and capable of disgracing the best precepts in the world. "What follows? These reasonable people have passions like the talapoins, and the stronger these passions are, the more boldly they will exclaim-My talapoins have deceived me on the doctrine, they may also have deceived me as to the maxims which oppose my passions. They then shake off the yoke, because it has been awkwardly put on, and no longer believe in God, because they see clearly that Sammonocodom is not God. I have already informed my dear reader of this in several passages, whilst I was at Siam, and I have conjured him to believe in God in spite of the talapoins.
The reverend father Tachard, who was so much amused in the vessel with the young Destouches, a midshipman, who afterwards composed the music of the opera of Issé, well knows that what I say is very true.
of a Younger Brother of the God Sammonocodom.
See whether I have been wrong in frequently exhorting my readers to define terms, and to avoid ambiguity. A foreign word, which you very badly translate by the word god, makes you fall a thousand times into very great errors.
The supreme essence, the supreme intelligence, the soul of nature, the great being, the eternal geometrician who has arranged everything with order, weight, and measure,—that is God. But when we give the same name to Mercury, to the Roman emperors, to Priapus, to the divinity of nipples, the divinity of our nether ends, to the
wind-escaping god, to the god of privies, we understand it no longer; we know not where or what it is. A Jewish judge, a sort of bailiff, is called god in our holy scriptures; an angel is called a god. The name of gods is given to the idols of some little neighbouring nations of the Jewish hordes. • Sammonocodom, properly speaking, is not a god; and one proof that he is not a god is, that he became one, and that he had a brother named Thevatat, who was hanged and damned.
Now it is not strange that in a family there should be one clever man who makes his fortune, and another ill-advised one who is punished by justice. Sammonocodom became a saint; he was canonized in the Siamese manner : and his brother, who was a wicked rake, and who was crucified, went into hell, where he still remains.
Our travellers have related, that when we would preach a crucified God to them, they laugh at us. They tell us that the cross might have been the punishment of the brother of a god, but not of a god himself. This reasoning appears plausible enough, but it is not convincing in good logic; for since the true God gave to Pilate power to crucify himself, he might much more reasonably give power to crucify his brother. Indeed Jesus Christ had a brother, St. James, who was stoned, and who was not the less a god. The bad actions imputed to Thevatat, brother of the god Sammonocodom, is a still weaker argument against the abbé de Choisi and father Tachard; for it might very well happen, that Thevatat was unjustly hanged, and that he merited heaven, instead of being damned; all which amounts to a nice point. As to the rest, it is demanded, how father Tachard, in so little time, could l'earn sufficient of Siamese to dispute with the talapoins ?
We answer, that Tachard understood the Siamese language precisely as Francis Xavier understood the Indian.
WHETHER the celebrated isle of Samothrace be at the mouth of the river Hebrus, as it is said to be in almost all the geographical dictionaries, or whether it be twenty miles distant from it, which is in fact the case, is not what
am now investigating. This isle was for a long time the most famous in the whole archipelago, and even in the whole world. Its deities called Cabiri, its hierophants, and its mysteries, conferred upon it as much reputation as was obtained not long since by St. Patrick's cave in Ireland.*
This Samothrace, the modern name of which is Samandrachi, is a rock covered with a very thin and barren soil, and inhabited by poor fishermen. They would be extremely surprised at being told of the glory which was formerly connected with their island; and they would probably ask, What is glory?
I inquire, what were these hierophants, these holy free-masons, who celebrated their ancient mysteries in Samothrace, and whence did they and their gods Cabiri come?
It is not probable that these poor people came from Phenicia, as Bochart infers by a long train of Hebrew etymologies, and as the abbé Barrier, after him, is of opinion also. It is not in this manner that gods gain establishments in the world. They are like conquerors who subjugate nations, not all at once, but one after
* This cave of St. Patrice, or St. Patriek, is one of the gates of purgatory. The ceremonies and ordeals to wbich the monks subjected the pilgrims who came to visit this formidable cave, were exceedingly similar to those which were connected with the mysteries of Isis and Samothrace. Those of our readers who may be disposed to a studious examination and full comprehension of the questions to which we direct their attention, will perceive with some degree of satisfaction, that the same knaveries and extravagances which they may have observed in their own country have not been exclusively confined to that, but have in fact made the cir. euit of the world, and all for the sake of honour and profit. See the extract from the purgatory of St. Patrick, by M. Sinner.
another. The distance from Phenicia to this wretched island is too great to admit of the supposition that the gods of the wealthy Sidon and the proud Tyre should come to coop themselves up in this hermitage. Hierophants are not such fools.
The fact is, that there were gods of the Cabiri, priests of the Cabiri, and mysteries of the Cabiri, in this contemptible and miserable island. Not only does Herodotus mention them, but the Phenician historian Sanchoniathon, who lived long before Herodotus, speaks of them in those fragments which have been so fortunately preserved by Eusebius. What is worse still, this Sanchoniathon, who certainly lived before the period in which Moses flourished, cites the great Thaut, the first Hermes, the first Mercury of Egypt; and this same great Thaut lived eight hundred years before Sanchoniathon, as that Phenician acknowledges himself.
The Cabiri were therefore in estimation and honour, two thousand and three or four hundred years before the christian era.
Now, if you are desirous of knowing whence those gods of the Cabiri, established in Samothrace, came, does it not seem probable that they came from Thrace, the country nearest to that island, and that that smalí island was granted them as a theatre on which to act their farces, and pick up a little money? Orpheus might very possibly be the prime minstrel of these gods.
But who were these gods? They were what all the gods of antiquity were, phantoms invented by coarse and vulgar knaves, sculptured by artisans coarser still, and adored by brutes having the name of men.
There were three sorts of Cabiri; for, as we have already observed, everything in antiquity was done by threes.
Orpheus could not have made his appearance in the world until long after the invention of these three gods; for he admits only one in his mysteries. I am much disposed to consider Orpheus as having been a strict socinian.