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As ignorance of the law, indeed, is no legal excuse for the breach of it, it would be kind in the administrators of juftice to make the restrictions of our laws more generally known than they are. And thus if, on the importation of any scandalous book from abroad, the Bench of Bishops, or a committee of the Clergy by them appointed, should write an exhortation to the Booksellers of this kingdom, setting forth the dangerous consequences that might attend a translation of it into the vulgar tongue; and if at the same time, another notice were fent from the police, setting forth wherein such a translation would be derogatory to the laws of the kingdom, and advising translators and Booksellers of their own danger in undertaking it ;-all this would be no more than we might expect from the watchful guardians over our religion and morals. But if, instead of this, the book should be publickly advertised, a new edition of the original be made in this metropolis, and be bought up with avidity; while only one or two prelates should be found pious enough to interest themselves in preventing its circulation ; and that not by a pastoral exhortation from themselves, but by an officious information to a Minister of State; and if, instead of a proper advice from the police, a threat of seizing papers, and of profecutions, should come from a King's messenger, this laft method, we say, would give room for suspecting at least that both the magistracy and the clergy neglected their own departments, to interfere with that of each other. Nay, we fear, there would be some room for men greatly tenacious of their liberty, to suspect an inclination in the administrators of our laws to, dispense with the cost and trouble of getting them enacted ; and of adopting a fat pro lege voluntas in all cases where they might think it necessary. It is true that, to threaten a prosecution is not to threaten punishment; but it is well Ķnown, that prosecutions, coming from a certain quarter, prove a severe punishment, even on those who are acquitted by their country as innocent. Add to this, that such threats from those who have a person at command that can put them in practice, ex officio, carry with them a shrewd intimation that they take upon themselves to judge both of the nature of the crime, and of the intent and meaning of the laws that forbid it. It is feldom, however, that our ministers are the most able lawyers ; so that it is evident they act rather from what they would have to be law, than what really is so. It is from this propenfity, in the executive part of government, to dispense with the legillative part, that we see with extreme reluctance any occare fion given to countenance it: thinking it extremely rata and imprudent in individuals to take fuch steps as may appear to jullify an administration in the exercise of such dangerous prerogatives. Philosophers, or those who pretend to be fo, have
ftill less reason than any other people in the world, to give occasion; for we know not any of these who are fond of persecution, in hopes of making a merit with heaven of their sufferings ; nor have any of them so high an opinion of faith, as to pretend that the future happiness of mankind depends on their belief of any particular tenets f. An Enthufiaft, who should be firmly persuaded that mankind were fallen into errours that would involve them in eternal perdition, would have at least an excuseable motive for endeavouring at all hazards to convert them. And if, added to this perfuafion, he were fanatical cnough to think himself honoured by perfecution, or that he had a call from above to the holy work of reformation ; it were not to be wondered at, if he should break through all bounds of civil and political restraint, in obedience to his supposed call, and to save his fellow-creatures from everlasting damnation. But what motive, what call, hath a philosopher to fly indecently in the face of civil institutions, merely to acquaint the world of its ignorance and prejudices? Is it a zeal for truth? Whence this zeal? Thofe who love the truth, merely for its own sake, might well content themfelves with the fingular pleasure of enjoying and contemplating its beauty, without communicating the knowlege of it to others. Their zeal arises therefore, from some other motive, which refpects the rest of mankind ; and this must either be Philanthropy or Vanity.
If the happiness of mankind, even in this life, immediately depended on the belief or knowlege of the truth, the philanthropist would have a noble and animating motive for detecting falsehood and combating errour: but philosophers know too well that, with regard to individuals, knowlege doth by no means confer a proportionable degree of happiness on the porfessor. It is indeed admitted that political happiness and the comparative felicity of different ages, are intimately connected with the developement of truth, or the progress and improvement of Science. At the same time, also, it must be acknowleged that the investigation of truth, is the moft noble task, in which human genius can be employed. It seems to us, nevertheless,
☆ It is true that Kings, and Secretaries of State, generally give them. selves as little trouble as even philosophers, about the salvation of souls. They care but little whether à people be damned or not in the next world, if they do but bleed plentifully or submit chearfully to be taxed in this. History affords us, indeed, some instances of pious Princes who had the fouls, as well as the bodies, of their subjects at heart; the fame hittories will inform us, however, that the fatal efforts of their zeal have generally ended in the loss of half those subjects, by massacre or expatriation.
that truth ought no more to be propagated than suppressed by violence. It appears, from the experience of past ages, that Providence intended truth should arise out of errour only by flow degrees. The latter, considered in general, is not an acute disease, to be removed by violent remedies; but a chronical one that can be eradicated only by mild and inoffensive means. Sudden and great revolutions, in the sentiments of mankind, have seldom been effected without many and very terrible evils both to individuals and to states. Not that such revolutions have been, therefore, less beneficial to posterity ; but we know * not any right men have to set people on cutting one another's throats in one age for the benefit of the succeeding. And, indeed, if any partiality were in this case excusable, it would certainly be that which is in favour of our contemporaries t. It is to Vanity, therefore, not to the ambition of knowing more than the rest of the world, but to the pride of letting the world know so, that we must impute much of that fervent zeal for truth, which 'hath so plentifully stocked the world with books of irreligion and scepticism.
We have thought ourselves under the necessity of being thus explicit, with regard to the publication of the present work ; for though we cannot approve of the methods which have been taken indiscriminately to suppress it, we are sorry, for the credit of the reputed Author, to confess that a considerable part of it ought to be committed to the flames. Exceptionable, indeed, as it is on a religious account, we could wish the censure it deserves even in this respect, the severest we are under the necellity of passing on it. But there are some passages, particularly the whole article entitled amour nommé Socratique, that we conceive could only come from the pen of one of the most inconsiderate, dissolute and abandoned of mankind. Nothing can be more infamous than what is there advanced in palliation of the most detestable of all crimes; nor can any thing be more false in fact than the imputing a vice to the natural palsions of youth and innocence, which is hardly ever practised but
+ Not that we suppose falsehood or errour can offer, in general, any means for governing mankind superiour to those of truth. We are no advocates for salutary prejudices, nor do we think it ever can be wrong to investigate truth and expose falsehood : there may be errours, however, committed in the manner of doing this, almost as fatal to fociety for a time, as those which are intended to be removed. Every preju. dice, like every malady, is certainly an evil ; but there are some maladies so habitual and deeply rooted, that the milder means only should be employed to remove them, unless we would endanger the conftitution by causing a worse evil than we mean to cure.
by by wretches already debilitated by exceffive debauchery, or by those in whom Nature never implanted the smallest germe of love or delicacy. Our courts of justice are fufficiently convinced, by hateful experience, that, if very young persons are ever made accessory to this horrid species of guilt, the principal, the seducer, is ever some hypocritical monster, old enough to be hackneyed in the ways of vice and iniquity,
We hope Mr. de Voltaire was not the Author of this artiele; as we doubt not but those into whose hands this work may fall, will cancel the pages containing it, with a just deteftation of the Writer 1.
As to the rest of the book, it consists of a miscellaneous collection of the most common and striking arguments made use of by Sceptics, in their attacks on revelation; intermixed with those adopted by modern philosophers in combating fanaticism, or enthusiasm, and in detecting the errours and abfurdities of ignorance, prejudice and fuperstition. We shall select a few of the latter articles; as they are written in that agreeable and feductive style and manner, which plainly indicate, that if Mr. de Voltaire did not write the whole, he has had the principal share in this heterogeneous compound.
CATECHISME DU JARDINIER. The Gardener's Catechism, or a
Dialogue between Bashaw Tullan, and Karpas the Gardener.
Tullan. You fell your fruit, friend Karpos, very dear; however it is pretty good.-Pray what religion do you profefs now?
Karpos. Why, faith, my lord Bashaw, I can't very well tell you. W ben our little ifland * belonged to the Greeks, I remember I was ordered to fay that Agion pneuma proceeded only from Ica patrou. I was told to pray to God, ftanding bolt upright, with my arms across; and was prohibited eating milk in lent. When the Venetians came, our new Italian curate ordered me to say that Agion pneuma proceeded both from Tou patrou and
I The applauses we have so frequently bestowed on M. de Voltaire, have been paid him, for the most part, as the tribute due to his fuperior talents. If we have at any time commended the design of his writings, it was when we conceived those talents exerted in the defence of truth and liberty. Those, who have thought proper to cenfure us on this account, know us but little, if they think we make no diftinction between the writings of an advocate for religious liberty, and those of an irreligious Libertine. At the same time, it must be observed, that we judge of the design of a work by the contents of it, and not from the private sentiments or character the world may have imputed to its author.
Tow you, permitting me to eat milk, and making me pray on my knees. On the return of the Greeks, and their expelling the Venetians, I was obliged again to renounce Tou you and milkporridge. You have at length expelled the Greeks, and I head you cry out as loud as you can Allah illa Allah! For my part, I no longer know what I am ; but I love God with all my heart, and sell my fruit very reasonably.
Tuttan. You have some fine figs there.
Karpos. Because I am an honest man; I may sell my figs if I please; but I muft not sell my daughter.
Tutan. And pray by what law are you forbidden not to fell one kind of fruit as well as another?
Karpos. By the law of all honeft Gardeners. The honour of my daughter is not my property, but hers. It is not, with us, a marketable commodity.
Tuttan. You are then disloyal to your Bashaw.
Karpos. Not at all. I am his faithful servant in every thing that is just, so long as he continues my master.
Tutian. And so, if your Greek patriarch should form a plot against me, and should order you, in the name of Tou patrou and Tor you, to enter into it, you would not have devotion enough to turn traitor ? Ha!
Karpos. Not I.
Tutan. And, pray, why ihould you refuse to obey your patriarch on such an occasion ?
Karpos. Because I have taken an oath of allegiance to you, asmy Bashaw; and I know that Tou patrou does not command any one to engage in plots and conspiracies.
Tucan. I am glad of that, at least. But, what if the Greeks should retake the ille, and expel your Bafhaw; would you be faithful to me ftill?
Karpos. What! when you are no longer my Bashaw? Tucian. What then will become of your oath of allegiance ?
Karpos. Something like my figs; you will not be any more the better for it. Craving your honour's pardon, it is that if you were now dead, I hould owe you no allegiance.
Tuttan. The supposition is a little impolite; but however your conclusion is true.
Karpos. And would it not be the same, my Lord, if you were expelled ? for you would have a fucceffor to whom I must take a fresh oath of allegiance. Why should you require fidelity of me when it would be no longer of use to you? That would be just