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and Zafran, were destroyed and inundated with blood; and more than two hundred thousand patients miserably perished.
On one side the empire of Russia, and on the other that of Turkey, have sentan hundred thousand surgeons provided with lancets, bistouris, and all sorts of instruments, adapted to cut off the morbid and gangrened parts; but the disease has only become more virulent. The delirium has even been so outrageous,* that forty of the patients actually met together for the purpose of dissecting their king, who had never been attacked by the disease, and whose brain and all the vital and noble parts of his body were in a perfectly sound state, as we shall have to remark under the article SUPERSTITION. It is thought, that if the contending parties would refer the case entirely to him, he might effect a cure of the whole nation; but it is one of the symptoms of this cruel malady to be afraid of being cured, as persons labouring under hydrophobia dread even the sight of water.
There are some learned men among us who contend that the disease was brought, a long time since, from Palestine, and that the inhabitants of Jerusalem and Samaria were long subjected to be harassed by it. Others think, that the original seat of the disease was Egypt, and that the dogs and cats, which were there held in the highest consideration, having become mad, communicated the madness of schism, or tearing asunder, to the greater part of the Egyptians, whose weak heads were but too susceptible of the disorder.
It is remarked also, that the Greeks who travelled to Egypt, as, for example, Timeus of Locris and Plato, somewhat injured their brain by the excursion. However, the injury by no means reached madness, or plague, properly so called; it was a sort of delirium which was not at all times easily to be perceived, and which was often concealed under a very plausible appearance of reason. But the Greeks having, in the course of time, carried the complaint among the western and northern nations, the mal-conformation or un
* Assassination of the king of Poland, committed at Warsaw,
fortunate excitability of the brain in our unhappy countries, occasioned the slight fever of Timeus and Plato to break out among us into the most frightful and fatal contagion, which the physicians sometimes called intolerance, and sometimes persecution; sometimes religious war, sometimes madness, and sometime pestilence.
We have seen the fatal ravages committed by this infernal plague over the face of the earth. Many physicians have offered their services to destroy this frightful evil at its very root. But what will appear to many scarcely credible is, that there are entire faculties of medicine, at Salamanca and Coimbra, in Italy and even in Paris, which maintain that schism, division, or tearing asunder, is necessary for mankind; that corrupt humours are drawn off from them through the .. wounds which it occasions; that enthusiasm, which is one of the first symptoms of the complaint, exalts the soul, and produces the most beneficial consequences; that toleration is attended with innumerable inconveniences; that if the whole world were tolerant, great geniuses would want that powerful and irresistible impulse which has produced so many admirable works in theology; that peace is a great calamity to a state, because it brings back the pleasures in its train; and pleasures, after a course of time, soften down that noble ferocity which forms the hero; and that if the Greeks had made a treaty of commerce with the Trojans, instead of making war with them, there would never have been an Achilles, a Hector, or a Homer, and that the race of man would have stagnated in ignorance.
These reasons, I acknowledge, are not without force; and I request time for giving them due consideration.
It has been pretended that divine power is appealed to in regard to this malady, because it is scarcely in human power to cure it.
Possibly some monks began by supposing that kings, in their character of representatives of the divinity, possessed the privilege of curing the scrophula, by touching the patients with their anointed hands. But why not bestow a similar power on emperors, whose dignity surpasses that of kings? or on popes, who call themselves the masters of emperors, and who are more than simple images of God, being his vicars on earth ? It is possible, that some imaginary dreamer of Normandy, in order to render the usurpation of William the bastard the more respectable, conceded to him, in his quality of God's representative, the faculty of curing the scrophula by the tip of his finger.
It was some time after William that this usage became established. We must not gratify the kings of England with this gift, and refuse it to those of France, their liege lords. This would be in defiance of the respect due to the feudal system. In short, this power is traced up to Edward the Confessor in England, and to Clovis in France.
The only testimony, in the least degree credible, of the antiquity of this usage, is to be found in the writings in favour of the house of Lancaster, composed by the judge, sir John Fortescue, under Henry VI. who was recognised king of France at Paris in his cradle, and then king of England, but who lost both kingdoms. Sir John Fortescue asserts, that from time immemorial, the kings of England were in possession of the power of curing the scrophula by their touch. We cannot perceive however that this pretension rendered their persons more sacred in the wars between the roses.
Queens consort could not cure the scrophula, because they were not anointed in the hands, like the kings; but Elizabeth, a queen regnant and anointed, cured it without difficulty.
A sad thing happened to Mortorillo the Calabrian, whom we denominate St. Francis de Paulo. King Louis XI. brought him to Plessis les Tours to cure him of his tendency to apoplexy, and the saint arrived afflicted by scrophula.
Ipse fuit detentus gravi inflatura, quam in parte
inferiori, genæ suæ dextræ circa guttur patiebatur. Chirurgi dicebant, mortum esse scrofarum.”
The saint cured not the king, and the king cured not the saint.
When the king of England, James II., was conducted from Rochester to Whitehall, somebody proposed that he should exhibit a proof of genuine royalty, as for instance, that of touching for the evil; but no one was presented to him. He departed to exercise his sovereignty in France at St. Germain, where he touched some Hibernians. His daughter Mary, king William, queen Anne, and the kings of the house of Brunswick, have cured nobody. This sacred gift departed when people began to reason.
EVERY sect, of whatever opinion it may be, is a rallying point for doubt and error. Scotists, Thomists, Realists, Nominalists, Papists, Calvinists, Molinists, and Jansenists, &c. are only warlike appellations.
There is no sect in geometry; we never say,—An Euclidian, an Archimedian.
When truth is evident, it is impossible to divide people into parties and factions. Nobody disputes that it is broad day at noon.
That part of astronomy which determines the course of the stars, and the return of eclipses, being now known, there is no longer any dispute among astronomers.
It is similar with a small number of truths, which are similarly established; but if you are a Mahometan, as there are many men who are not Mahometans, you may possibly be in error.
What would be the true religion, if Christianity did not exist? That in which there would be no sects; that in which all minds necessarily agreed.
Now, in what doctrine are all minds agreed? In the adoration of one God, and in probity. All the philosophers who have professed a religion have said at all
times—There is a God, and he must be just. Behold then the universal religion established throughout all time and among all men!
The point then in which all agree is true; the systems in regard to which all differ are false.
My sect is the best, says a Brahmin. But, my good friend, if thy sect is the best, it is necessary; for if not absolutely necessary, thou must confess that it is useless. If, on the contrary, it is necessary, it must be so to all men;—how then is it, that all men possess not what is absolutely necessary to them? How is it that the rest of the world laughs at thee and thy Bramah?
When Zoroaster, Hermes, Orpheus, Minos, and all the great men say, -Let us worship God, and be just, no one laughs; but all the world sneers at him who pretends, that to please God it is proper to die holding a cow by the tail; at him who cuts off a particle of foreskin for the same purpose; at him who consecrates crocodiles and onions; at him who attaches eternal salvation to the bones of dead men carried underneath the shirt, or to a plenary indulgence purchased at Rome for two sous and a half.
Whence this universal assemblage of laughing and hissing from one end of the universe to the other? It must be, that the things which all the world derides are not evident truths. What shall we say to a secretary of Sejanus, who dedicates to Petronius a book, in a confused and involved style, entitled “ The Truth of the Sibylline Oracles, proved from Facts."
This secretary at first proves to you, that God sent upon earth many sibyls, one after the other, having no other means of instructing men. It is demonstrated, that God communicated with these sibyls, because the word sibyl signifies council of God? They ought to live a long time, for this privilege at least belongs to persons with whom God communicates. They amounted to twelve, because this number is sacred. They certainly predicted all the events in the world, because Tarquin the Proud bought their book from an old woman for a hundred crowns.
What unbeliever, exclaims the secretary, can deny all these evident facts,