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the ladies of Babylon as bad christians, condemned souls, and enemies to the state.
He also takes the part of the goat, so much in the good graces of the young female Egyptians. It is said that his great reason was, that he was allied, by the female side to a relation of the bishop of Meaux, Bossuet, the author of an eloquent discourse on Universal History; but this is not a peremptory reason.
Take care of extraordinary stories of all kinds.
Diodorus of Sicily was the greatest compiler of these tales. This Sicilian had not a grain of the temper of his countryman Archimedes, who sought and found so many mathematical truths.
Diodorus seriously examines the history of the Amazons and their queen Thalestris; the history of the Gorgons, who fought against the Amazons; that of the Titans, and that of all the gods. He searches into the history of Priapus and Hermaphroditus. No one could give a better account of Hercules : this hero wandered through half the earth, sometimes on foot and alone like a pilgrim, and sometimes like a general at the head of a great army, and all his labours are faithfully discussed; but this is nothing, in comparison with the gods of Crete.
Diodorus justifies Jupiter from the reproach which other grave historians have passed upon him, of having dethroned and mutilated his father. He shows how Jupiter fought the giants, some in his island, others in Phrygia, and afterwards in Macedonia and Italy; the number of children which he had by his sister Juno and his favourites, are not omitted.
He describes how he afterwards became a god, and the supreme god. It is thus that all the ancient histories have been written. What is more remarkable, they were sacred; if they had not been sacred, they would never have been read.
It is well to observe, that though they were sacred they were all different; and from province to province, and island to island, each had a different history of the gods, demi-gods, and heroes, from that of their neighbours. But it should also be observed, that the people never fought for this mythology.
The respectable history of Thucydides, which has several glimmerings of truth, begins at Xerxes ; but, before that epoch, how much time was wasted?
It is neither of a director of finances, a director of hospitals, nor a director of the royal buildings, &c. &c. that I pretend to speak, but of a director of conscience, for that directs all the others : it is the preceptor of human kind; it knows and teaches all that should be done or omitted in all possible cases.
It is clear that it would be very useful, if in all courts there was one conscientious man whom the monarch secretly consulted on most occasions, and who would boldly say,
“ Non licet.” Louis the Just would not then have begun his mischievous and unhappy reign by assassinating his first minister and imprisoning his mother. How many wars, unjust as fatal, a few good dictators would have spared! How many cruel ties they would have prevented !
But often, while intending to consult a lamb, we consult a fox. Tartuffe was the director of Orgon. I should like to know who was the conscientious director of the massacre of St. Bartholomew.
The gospel speaks no more of directors than of confessors. Among the people whom our ordinary courtesy calls pagans, we do not see that Scipio, Fabricius, Cato, Titus, Trajan, or the Antonines, had directors. It is well to have a scrupulous friend to remind you of your duty. But your conscience ought to be the chief of your
council. A hugunot was much surprised when a catholic lady told him that she had a confessor to absolve her from her sins, and a director to prevent her committing them. “How can your vessel so often go astray, madam,” said he, “having two such good pilots ?”
The learned observe, that it is not the privilege of every one to have a director.
It is like having an equerry: it only belongs to ladies of quality. The abbé Gobelin, a litigious and covetous man, directed madame de Maintenon only. The directors of Paris often serve four or five devotees at once: they embroil them with their husbands, sometimes with their lovers, and occasionally fill the vacant places.
Why have the women directors, and the men none? It was possibly owing to this distinction that mademoiselle de la Valliere became a carmelite when she was quitted by Louis XIV. and that M. de Turenne, being betrayed by madame de Coetquin, did not make himself a monk.
St. Jerome, and Rufinus his antagonist, were great directors of women and girls. They did not find a Roman senator or a military tribune to govern. These people profited by the devout facility of the feminine gender. The men had too much beard on their chins, and often too much strength of mind for them. Boileau has given the portrait of a director, in his Satire on Woman, but might have said something much more to
There have been disputes at all times, on all subjects : “ Mundum tradidit disputationi eorum.” There have been violent quarrels about whether the whole is greater than a part; whether a body can be in several places at the same time; whether matter is always impenetrable; whether the whiteness of snow can exist
the sweetness of sugar without sugar; whether there can be thinking without a head, &c.
I doubt not, that so soon as a jansenist shall have written a book to demonstrate that one and two are three, a molinist will start up, and demonstrate that two and one are five.
* This is another satire upon a French folly, and happily one in which English women of quality very slightly indulge. They are of the middle and lower classes who yield to this impertinence in England, and who foster the" dear good men” of the Tartuffe class, to the frequent injury of family peace and social harmony.-T.
We hope to please and instruct the reader, by laying before him the following verses on Disputation. They are well known to every man of taste in Paris ; but they are less familiar to those among the learned, who still dispute on gratuitous predestination, concomitant grace, and that momentous question—whether the mountains were produced by the sea.
Each brain its thought, each season has its mode;
Manvers and fashions alter every day;
Examine for yourself what others say;-
Viewing this earth froin Luna's elevation,
That wild Ambition should lay waste the earth,
But chiefly I detest those tiresome elves,
Who, with the utmost weight of all their lead,
See them, alike in great or small things clever,
Pray, gentle reader, did you chance to know
Of hearing in the church a long harangue * I knew him. He was precisely such as he is depicted by M. de Rulière, the author of this epistle. He was intendant of Caën : but the intendancy was taken from him on account of his rage for disputing about the most trivial things with every one that approached him.--VOLTAIRE.