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cause, was, according to a dreamer* who calls himself a philosopher, formerly a sea. This sea, according to him, has hardened and become earth or rock; once it gravitated towards two centres, whereas at present it gravitates only towards one.
How pleasantly you proceed, my ingenious dreamer ! how easily you transform water into rock! Ovid was nothing in the comparison. What a marvellous
power you exercise over nature; imagination by no means confounds you.-Oh, greediness to utter novelties! Oh, fury for systems! Oh, weakness of the human mind! If any one has spoken of this reverie in the Encyclopedia, it is doubtless to ridicule it, without which other nations would have a right to say-Behold the use which the French make of the discovery of other people! Huyghens discovered the ring of Saturn, and calculated its appearances; Hook and Flamstead have done the same thing. A Frenchman has discovered, that this solid body was even a circular ocean, and this Frenchman is not Cyrano de Bergerac !
WITHOUT enquiring whether scandal originally meant a stone which might occasion people to stumble and fall, or a quarrel, or a seduction, we consider it here merely in its present sense and acceptation. A scandal is a serious indecorum which is used generally in reference to the clergy. The tales of Fontaine are libertine or licentious; many passages of Sanchez, of Tambourin, and of Molina, are scandalous.
A man is scandalous by his writings or by his conduct. The siege which the Augustins maintained against the patrol, at the time of the Fronde, was scandalous. The bankruptcy of the brother La Valette, of the society of jesuits, was more than scandalous. The law-suit carried on by the reverend fathers of the order of the capuchins of Paris, in 1764, was a most
Maupertuis, upon whom this brief article is a mere jeus
satisfactory and delightful scandal to thousands. For the edification of the reader, a word or two upon that subject in this place will not be ill employed.
These reverend fathers had been fighting in their convent; some of them had hidden their money, and others had stolen the concealed treasure. Up to this point the scandal was only particular, a stone against which only capuchins could trip and tumble; but when the affair was brought before the parliament, the scandal became public,
It is stated in the pleadings in the cause,* that the convent of St. Honore consumes twelve hundred pounds of bread a week, and meat and wood in proportion; and that there are four collecting friars, 'queteurs, whose office it is, conformably to the term, to raise contributions in the city. What a frightful, dreadful 'scandal! Twelve hundred pounds of meat and bread per week for a few capuchins, while so many artisans overwhelmed with old age, and so many respectable widows, are exposed to languish in want, and die in misery!
That the reverend father Dorotheust should have accumulated an income of three thousand livres a-year at the expense of the convent, and consequently of the public, is not only an enormous scandal, but an absolute robbery, and a robbery committed upon the most needy class of citizens in Paris; for the poor are the persons who pay the tax imposed by the mendicant monks. Theignorance and weakness of the people make them imagine, that they can never obtain heaven without parting with their absolute necessaries, from which these monks derive their superfluities.
This single brother therefore, the chief of the convent, Dorotheus, to make up his income of a thousand crowns a-year, must have extorted from the poor of Paris no less a sum than twenty thousand crowns.
Consider, my good reader, that such cases are by no means rare, even in this eighteenth century of our era, which has produced useful books to expose abuses and enlighten minds; but, as 'I have before observed, the people never read. A single capuchin, recollet or carmelite, is capable of doing more harm than the best books in the world will ever be able to do good.
* Page 27, of the Memorial against the Brother Anastasius presented to the Parliament.
+ Page 3, ibid.
I would venture to propose to those, who are really humane and well-disposed, to employ throughout the capital a certain number of anti-capuchins and antirecollets, to go about from house to house exhorting fathers and mothers to virtue, and to keep their money for the maintenance of their families, and the support of their old age; to love God with all their hearts, but to give none of their money to monks. -Let us return, however, to the real meaning of the word scandal.
In the above-mentioned process* on the subject of the capuchin convent, brother Gregory is accused of being the father of a child by mademoiselle Bras-defer, and of having her afterwards married to Moutard the shoe-maker. It is not stated whether brother Gregory himself bestowed the nuptial benediction on his mistress and poor Moutard, together with the required dispensation. If he did so, the scandal is rendered as complete as possible ; it includes fornication, robbery, adultery, and sacrilege.--"Horresco referens.'
I say in the first place fornication,' as brother Gregory committed that offence with Magdalene Bras-defer, who was not at the time more than fifteen years
I say also robbery,' as he gave an apron and ribbands to Magdalene; and it is clear he must have robbedthe convent in order to purchase them, and to pay for suppers, lodgings, and other expenses attending their intercourse.
I say "adultery,' as this depraved man continued his connection with Magdalene after she became madame Moutard.
* Page 43, of the Memorial against the Brother Anastasius.
And I say sacrilege,' as he was the confessor of Magdalene. And, if he himself performed the marriage ceremony for his mistress, judge what sort of man brother Gregory must really have been.
One of our colleagues in this little collection of philosophic and encyclopedic questions, is now engaged on a moral work, on the subject of scandal, against the opinion of brother Patouillet. We hope it will not be long before it sees the light.
ALL that we had written on the subject of the grand schism between the Greeks and Latins, in the essay on the manners and spirit of nations, has been inserted in the great encyclopedic dictionary. We will not here repeat ourselves.
But when reflecting on the meaning of the word schism, which signifies a dividing or rending asunder, and considering also the present state of Poland, divided and rent as it is in a manner the most pitiable, we cannot help anew deploring that a malady so destructive should be peculiar to christians. This malady, which we have not described with sufficient particularity, is a species of madness which first affects the
and the mouth; the patient looks with an inflamed and resentful eye on the man who does not think exactly like himself
, and soon begins to pour out all the abuse and reviling that his command of language will permit. The madness next seizes the hands; and the unfortunate maniac writes what exhibits, in the most decided manner, the inflamed and delirious state of the brain. He falls into demoniacal convulsions, draws his sword, and fights with fury and desperation to the last gasp. Medicine has never been able to find a remedy for this dreadful disease: Time and philosophy alone can effect a cure.
The Poles are now the only people among whom this contagion at present rages. We may almost believe that the disorder is born with them, like their frightful plica. They are both diseases of the head, and of a most noxious character. Cleanliness will cure the plica; wisdom alone can extirpate schism.
We are told that both these diseases were unknown to the Sarmatians while they were pagans.
'The plica affects only the common people at present, but all the evils originating in schism are corroding and destroying the higher classes of the republic.
The cause of the evil is the fertility of their land, which produces too much corn. It is a melancholy and deplorable case, that even the blessing of heaven should in fact have involved them in such direful calamity. Some of the provinces have contended, that it was absolutely necessary to put leaven in their bread, but the greater part of the nation entertain an obstinate and unalterable belief that, on certain days of the year, fermented bread is absolutely mortal.*
Such is one of the principal causes of the schism or the rending asunder of Poland; the dispute has infused acrimony into their blood. Other causes have added to the effect.
Some have imagined, in the paroxysms and convulsions of the malady under which they labour, that the holy spirit proceeded both from the father and the son; and the others have exclaimed, that it proceeded from the father only. The two parties, one of which is called the Roman party, and the other the dissident, look upon one another as if they were absolutely infected by the plague; but, by a singular symptom peculiar to this complaint, the infected dissidents have always shown an inclination to approach the catholics, while the catholics on the other hand have never manifested any to approach them.
There is no disease which does not vary in different circumstances and situations. The diet, which is generally esteemed salutary, has been so pernicious to this unhappy nation, that after the application of it in 1768, the cities of Uman, Zablotin, Tetiou, Zilianki,
• An allusion to the quarrel about the ordinary bread with which the Russians communicate, and the unleavened bread used by the catholic Poles.