blem in geometry. In the mean time, your pineal gland, your fleshly body, in which abides your soul, subsists for a long time without alteration, while your separated head is so full of animal spirits, that it frequently exhibits motion after its removal from the trunk. It seems as if at this moment it possessed the most lively ideas, resembling the head of Orpheus, which still uttered melodious song, and chaunted Eurydice, when cast into the waters of the Hebrus.

If we think no longer, after losing our heads, whence does it happen that the heart beats and appears to be sensitive after being torn out ?

We feel, you say, because all our nerves have their origin in the brain; and in the mean time, if you are trepanned, and a portion of your brain be thrown into the fire, you feel nothing the less. Men who can state the reason of all this are very clever.


On Natural Liberty. In several countries, and particularly in France, collections have been made of the juridical murders which tyranny, fanaticism, or even error and weakness, have committed with the sword of justice. There are sentences of death which whole


of vengeance could scarcely expiate, and which will make all future ages tremble, Such are the sentences given against the legitimate king of Naples and Sicily, by the tribunal of Charles of Anjou ; against John Huss and Jerome of Prague, by priests and monks; and against the king of England Charles I. by fanatical citizens.

After these enormous crimes, formally committed, come the legal murders committed by indolence, stupidity, and superstition, and these are innumerable. We shall relate some of them in other articles.

In this class we must principally place the trials for witchcraft, and never forget that even in our days, in 1750, the sacerdotal justice of the bishop of Wurtzbourg has condemned as a witch a nun, a girl of

quality, to the punishment of fire. I here repeat this circumstance, which I have elsewhere mentioned, that it should not be forgotten. We forget too much and too soon.

Every day of the year I would have a public crier, instead of crying as in Germany and Holland what time it is (which is known very well without their crying) cry,—It was on this day, that in the religious wars Magdebourg and all its inhabitants were reduced to ashes. It was on this 14th of May, that Henry IV. was assassinated, only because he was not submissive to the pope ; it was on such a day, that such an abominable cruelty was perpetrated in your town, under the name of justice.

These continual advertisements would be very useful; but the judgments given in favour of innocence against persecutors should be cried with a much louder voice. For example, I propose, that every year, the two strongest throats which can be found in Paris and Toulouse shall


these words in all the streets :--It was on such a day, that fifty magistrates of the council re-established the memory of John Calas, with an unanimous voice, and obtained for his family the favours of the king himself, in whose name John Calas had been condemned to the most horrible execution.

It would not be amiss to have another crier at the door of all the ministers, to say to all who came to demand lettres-de-cachet, in order to possess themselves of the property of their relations, friends, or dependents,- Gentlemen, fear to seduce the minister by false statements, and to abuse the name of the king. It is dangerous to take it in vain. There was in the world one Gerbier, who defended the cause of the widow and orphan oppressed under the weight of a sacred name. It was he who, at the bar of the parliament of Paris, obtained the abolishment of the society of Jesus. Listen attentively to the lesson which he gave to the society of St. Bernard, conjointly with master Loiseau, another protector of widows. You must first know, that the reverend Bernardine fathers of Clairvaux possess seventeen thousand acres of wood, seven large forges, fourteen large farms, a quantity of fiefs, benefices, and even rights in foreign countries. The yearly revenue of the convent amounts to two hundred thousand livres. The treasure is immense; the abbot's palace is that of a prince. Nothing is more just; it is a poor recompense for the services which the Bernardines continually render to the state.

It happened, that a youth of seventeen years of age, named Castille, whose baptismal name was Bernard, believed, for that reason, that he should become a Bernardine. It is thus that we reason at seventeen, and sometimes at thirty. He went to pass his noviciate in Lorraine, in the abbey of Orval. When he was required to pronounce his vows, grace was wanting in him: he did not sign them; he departed and became a man again. He established himself at Paris, and at the end of thirty years, having made a little fortune, he married and had children.

The reverend father, attorney of Clairvaux, named Mayeur, a worthy solicitor, brother of the abbot, haying learned from a woman of pleasure at Paris, that this Castille was formerly a Bernardine, plotted to challenge him as a deserter-though he was not really engaged to make his wife pass for his concubine, and to place his children in the hospital as bastards. He associated himself with another rogue, to divide the spoils. Both went to the court for lettres-de-cachet, exposed their grievances in the name of St. Bernard, obtained the lettre, seized Bernard Castille, his wife, and their children, possessed themselves of all the property, and are now devouring it, you know where.

Bernard Castille was shut up at Orval in a dungeon, where he died at the end of six months, for fear that he should demand justice. His wife was conducted to another dungeon, at St. Pelagie, a house for prostitutes. Of three children, one died in the hospital. Things remained in this state for three years.

At the end of this time, the wife of Castille obtained her enlargement. God is just: he gave a second husband to the widow. The husband, named Lannai, was a

man of head, who discovered all the frauds, horrors, and crimes employed against his wife. They both entered into a suit against the monks.* It is true, that brother Mayeur, who is called dom Mayeur, was not hanged, but the convent of Clairvaux was condemned to pay forty thousand crowns. There is no convent which would not rather see its attorney hanged than

lose its money

This history should teach you, gentlemen, to use much moderation in the fact of lettres-de-cachet. Know, that master Elias de Beaumont,t that celebrated defender of the memory of Calas, and master Target, that other protector of oppressed innocence, caused the man to pay a fine of twenty thousand franks, who by his intrigues had gained a lettre-de-cachet to seize upon the dying countess of Lancize, to drag her from the bosom of her family, and divest her of all her titles.

When tribunals give such sentences as these, we hear clapping of hands from the extent of the grand chamber to the gates of Paris. Take care of yourselves, gentlemen; do not lightly demand lettres-decachet.

An Englishman, on reading this article, exclaimed, “What is a lettre-de-cachet?” We could never make him comprehend it.

SENTENCES OF DEATH. In reading history, and seeing its course continually interrupted with innumerable calamities heaped upon this globe, which some call the best of all possible worlds, I have been particularly struck with the great quantity of considerable men in the state, in the church, and in society, who have suffered death like robbers on the highway. Setting aside assassinations and poisonings, I speak only of massacres in a juridical form, performed with loyalty and ceremony.

* The sentence is of 1764.

+ The sentence is of 1770. There are other similar sentences pronounced by parliaments of provinces.

I commence with kings and queens; England alone furnishes an ample list; but for chancellors, knights, and esquires, volumes are required. Of all who have thus perished by justice, I do not believe that there are four in all Europe who would have undergone their sentence, if their suits had lasted some time longer, or if the adverse parties had died of apoplexy during the preparation.

If fistula had gangrened the rectum of cardinal Richelieu some months sooner, the virtuous De Thou, Cinq Mars, and so many others, would have been at liberty. If Barnevelt had had as many Arminians for his judges as Gomarists, he would have died in his bed: if the constable de Luynes had not demanded the confiscation of the property of the lady of Marshal d'Ancre, she would not have been burnt as a witch. If a really criminal man, an assassin, a public thief, a poisoner, a parricide, be arrested, and his crime be proved, it is certain that in all times and whoever the judges, he will be condemned. But it is not the same with statesmen; only give them other judges, or wait until time has changed interests, cooled passions, and introduced other sentiments, and their lives will be in safety.

Suppose queen Elizabeth had died of an indigestion on the eve of the execution of Mary Stuart, then Mary Stuart would have been seated on the throne of England, Ireland and Scotland, instead of dying by the hand of an executioner in a chamber hung with black. If Cromwell had only fallen sick, care would have been taken how Charles the First's head was cut off. These two assassinations-disguised, I know not how, in the garb of the laws-scarcely enter into the list of ordinary injustice. Figure to yourself some highwaymen who, having bound and robbed two passengers,

* The correctness of Voltaire may be doubted in both these instances ; it was not merely the policy of Elizabeth, but the passions and interests of a predominant anti-catholic party, to which Mary owed her death; and among the companions of Cromwell were others as bold and determined as himself, who would equally have cut off the head of a man belonging to a family, upon whom no one ever relied without suffering for it.-T.

« ElőzőTovább »