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of a dispute, in the course of which I had not employed the slightest personality.' He gives, at this part of the book, some account of his companions at the Sorbonne; and among others, of Turgot. Of this distinguished person Morellet gives the following character : The prominent marks of his intellect Ware penetration, which seizes the most accurate relations of ideas, and extent which generalizes many to a system.
Perspicuity of mind was not his merit. Although not actually obscure, he had not the details of his knowledge, with the precision necessary for instruction. Our author complains that the future minister had at this time the rage of perfection, and was led to leave his enterprises unfinished, from his desire to render their success complete. He illustrates this fact by an anecdote of a mechanical project of Turgot, to perfect thermometers. When he discovered that with whatever precision the boiling point of water may be graduated in any given state of the atmosphere, the pressure of the external air on the bulb and tube, will still slightly affect the column of mercury, independently of the expansion and contraction of the fluid; he endeavored to overcome this obstacle, and in the mean time suspended the completion of his instruments. The same spirit was, according to our author, extended to his ministry. He had requested Morellet, and others, to furnish him with
preambles for some acts regulating the corn trade. I remember,' says the Abbé, ‘he sent me back three of these papers, and asked my opinion upon them.' In a few days I returned them to him without drafting another, as I was satisfied with them all. He insisted on knowing which I thought best, and I replied “ the one you employ first.” The edict had already been expected for two months, and he kept it two months longer.'
On quitting the Sorbonne in 1752, Morellet, after the failure of several projects to establish himself, obtained the situation of tutor to the son of M. de la Galaizière, chancellor of the king of Poland. The boy was at this time ten years old, and soon attached himself with great affection to his preceptor. It was at this period that Morellet_formed his acquaintance with Diderot and D'Alembert. The occasion of first seeing the former, with whom he was afterwards intimately connected, is thus described :
• I became acquainted with both (Diderot and D'Alembert) at the time of the persecution excited against the Abbé de Prades,
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for his famous thesis, now forgotten, but which occupied all Paris for two months, when the Sorbonne and theology had not fallen into the utter neglect they have since experienced.'
• The Abbé de Prades and Diderot were acquainted, and in going to see the heretical Abbé, I found there the philosopher, who was much worse than a heretic. The Abbé had not expected to excite such scandal. The two or three propositions in his thesis, which were the subject of the declamations of the clergy, were in fact, the reply to the objections of infidels against the authenticity of the books of Moses, the scripture chronology, and the authority of the church. At last the Abbé was forced to seek an asylum at the court of the king of Prussia, who received him at the solicitation of d'Alembert. After the departure of de Prades, I continued to go to see Diderot, but in private propter metum Judæorum. I employed for this good work the mornings of Sundays, when my pupil was amusing himself or engaged in the religious exercises of the college. The conversation of Diderot, an extraordinary man, whose talents, as well as whose faults, were undoubted, had great power and interest. His manner of arguing was animated, perfectly sincere, acute without obscurity, brilliant in illustrations, fertile, various, and adapted to excite the talents of others. One could accompany him for hours in succession, with the pleasure of floating down a clear and gentle stream through a fine country. I have enjoyed few intellectual pleasures superior to his conversation,' &c.
About this time D'Alembert and Diderot employed Morellet to labor in the Encyclopedia. He had just written a painphlet, as he says, in the style of Swift, on the occasion of some severities exercised against the protestants of the south of France. His philosophical friends were delighted at this occurrence, as it was, according to him, their doctrine that toleration could not exist without religious indifference. The Abbé, on the contrary, maintained what he calls the difference between civil and religious toleration. By civil toleration, he understands, as we understand it in our country, the liberty which each religion enjoys, of teaching its doctrines and practising its rites in every point, in which they are not opposed to the public morality and the peace of the community. For this species of toleration Morellet was an advocate, but opposed to what he calls ecclesiastical toleration or religious indifference. By this he appears, when his theory is examined a little carefully, to mean merely the personal belief of the sovereign and the magistrates. It is not easy to see, however, how this affects the question. A sovereign and the other
magistrates may be perfectly convinced of the truth of the Catholic religion, and yet allow other sects to exercise their rites publicly. This is undoubtedly true, that the rulers for the time being, have the same liberty of conscience with other citizens, but there appears nothing more ecclesiastical in the one than the other, and no propriety in any distinction between them. It is not very fair, however, to be too strict with our author's distinctions, as he declares the object to have been to avoid a word which was attempted to be rendered odious.'
Great clamor was, as is well known, excited by the appearance of the volumes of the Encyclopedia, but it is not perhaps as well known that the philosophers' were extremely anxious to obtain the interference of government in their favor, and the prosecution of some of their antagonists. D'Alembert, in particular, was loud in his complaints to M. de Malesherbes, and employed our author to present them to the attention of that minister. 'I often discussed the great question of the liberty of the press, and its limits, with him,' says Morellet, but when I attempted to explain to my friend D'Alembert, the principles of M. de Malesherbes, I could not make him understand them, and the philosopher stormed and swore according to his bad habit.' These complaints produced two letters from M. de Malesherbes, to Morellet and D'Alembert, in which the American doctrine of the perfect liberty of the press is stated with great simplicity; and the somewhat petulant complaints of the philosophers are alluded to with propriety and dignity. The following rather alarming opinion is, however, expressed, of the self love of that miserable profession of society, whose duty it is to cultivate an exquisite sensibility, for the sake of amúsing the idle and luxurious with the suffering it produces : • As to men of letters, experience has convinced me that whoever is engaged with the concerns of their self love, must renounce their friendship, or employ a partiality which would render him unworthy of it.'
Morellet soon after accompanied his pupil to Italy, on the occasion of the opening of a conclave, at the death of Benedict XIV. After the usual accidents on the road, one of which particularly is described very minutely, where their carriage passed over a precipice, but fortunately without the travellers, they arrived at Rome, a little too late for the opening of the conclave. They consoled themselves, however, with the reflection rather more philosophical than the two kinds of toleration, that there were other things in Rome worth seeing. They went the rounds of the public buildings, pictures, &c. but Morellet declares himself to have received little pleasure from
'I must acknowledge to my shame,' says he, that the impression I received from these masterpieces of art, was weak, in comparison with that which I observed in real amateurs and in artists. In fact, I am near sighted, which is a very great disadvantage, but besides, I am strongly inclined to believe that the habit of thinking profoundly, of occupying internally all the mental faculties, of concentrating one's self, is, to a certain degree, opposed to the sensibility demanded by the arts of imitation. At Rome, he made an extract from the Directorium Inquisitorum,' of Nicholas Eymeric, grand inquisitor in the fourteenth century. Under the title of Manual of Inquisitors,' Morellet collected the most revolting customs and inflictions from the information to the execution of the criminal. This summary of the severities of this barbarous institution, was undoubtedly very striking. The author was, however, surprised, and almost incredulous, when assured by M. de Malesherbes, that the criminal jurisprudence of France contained the very same cruelties with the Italian church. Indeed, at the time when these processes were most customary in the church, the administration of the state was also sullied with the most disgusting and obscene ignorance, and the most ferocious barbarity, and every baronial castle was, in proportion, provided with as ample means of torture and exaction, as the vaults of the Holy Office. The stain on the church, therefore, does not consist so much in its dungeons having been shut in the fourteenth century, as in their not having been opened till the nineteenth. By the late intelligence from Portugal, it appears that the cells built in the form of an inverted cone, where the prisoner could not even stand without pain, and the furnaces in which the victim was bricked up and quick-lime showered on him from above, have continued in use to the present day. With respect to the enormities in question, we find the following judgment in a letter of Voltaire, on reading the manual. Men do not deserve to live ;' says he, for there is wood and fire, and yet they have not employed them to burn these monsters in their infamous retreats. It seems that the philosopher's justice was of the same complexion as the inquisitors' charity.
Morellet, while on this visit to the south, had the opportunity of hearing the famous improvisatrice Corilla, and gives the following account of her performance :
• The Signora used to receive us very pleasantly, and after half an hour's conversation was always ready and disposed to improvisate for us.
• A subject was given her. She recollected herself a moment, and then began to utter, coldly enough, some stanzas, in the measure and rhyme of Tasso, and to a very simple air, with which she was accompanied by a person behind her on a harpsichord, or rather a little spinnet. As she advanced in the subject, she became animated, and the accompaniment more rapid. Her eyes grew sparkling, her color rose, and her personal appearance became very brilliant. In continuing for some time, when the subject was extensive enough to give her the opportunity, she composed and uttered the concluding stanzas with extreme rapidity; as fast as one could recite verses he knew perfectly by heart. The fire flashed from her eyes and her movements became impetuous and rapid. She was a true pythoness, and yet her physiognomy was not disfigured or extravagant.
She declaimed a quarter of an hour or more in succession. It is natural to ask if this performance was elegant and correct. At the time of which I speak, though tolerably familiar with Italian, I was not sufficiently so to form an opinion. I can only say, I observed some very agreeable stanzas, some filled with brilliant points, and others grave and sustained, and that on the whole, it was a very agreeable exhibition to the eyes, and entertainment to the taste, to hear her improvisate.'
We have not room for the Abbé’s critiques on St. Peter's and other works of art; but the following little anecdote is perhaps worth recording :
Since I am upon the subject of the impression produced by the arts, I will remark the observation I made at Rome and Naples, of the effect of music on Italian ears. An effect which shows the total difference between such a people and ourselves, who pretend to relish music, deprived as we are generally of the peculiar sense to which sounds are addressed, and as Caraccioli, the Neapolitan ambassador says of us, with our ears lined with morocco.
• It was the custom for the ambassador of France, on the fête of St Louis, to give an illumination and concert to the people. The bishop of Laon, our ambassador, had built an orchestra for stringed instruments, in front of the palace of the French embassy, and another for wind instruments opposite ; each composed of more than a hundred performers. The street, which is the corso, and the square were filled with people. The two orchestras played alternately or together. In these magnificent tutti the effect was admirable, and the silence of the people was so deep one might have applied to them with justice,
Densum humeris bibit aure vulgus.