Fifth study—Education—Parallel English

[These draft translations are part of on ongoing effort to translate both editions of Proudhon’s Justice in the Revolution and in the Church into English, together with some related works, as the first step toward establishing an edition of Proudhon’s works in English. They are very much a first step, as there are lots of decisions about how best to render the texts which can only be answered in the course of the translation process. It seems important to share the work as it is completed, even in rough form, but the drafts are not suitable for scholarly work or publication elsewhere in their present state. — Shawn P. Wilbur, translator]

CINQUIÈME ÉTUDE

DE L’ÉDUCATION
 
À Son Éminence Mgr , Cardinal-Archevêque de Besançon.

I

ESSAYS IN POPULAR PHILOSOPHY. — N°5

OF JUSTICE

IN THE REVOLUTION

AND IN THE CHURCH.

FIFTH STUDY.

EDUCATION.

To His Eminence Monseigneur Matthieu , Cardinal-Archbishop of Besançon.

Monseigneur

Napoléon Ier dit dans ses mémoires :

« Mon enfance n’eut rien de remarquable ; je n’étais qu’un enfant curieux et obstiné. »

C’est justement ce que l’on peut dire de la plupart des enfants du peuple.

Je m’étais toujours flatté, sous ce rapport, d’être au niveau de la multitude et du grand homme, et ne m’attendais pas que, sous l’inspiration de mon archevêque, un entrepreneur de biographies viendrait chercher dans l’insignifiance de mes premières années les symptômes de ce que, trente ans plus tard, en suivant obstinément le sillon de mon siècle, je devais devenir.

J’avais tort, certes : rien n’est indifférent au chrétien. Pour lui tout est préordonné : race, condition, inclinations, premières influences. Dites à ce chrétien, d’un individu pris au hasard, que cet homme est né pauvre, de parents à l’humeur entreprenante, raisonneuse, insoumise, sarcastique, comme on en trouve aujourd’hui partout, il vous répondra en hochant la tête que c’est une bouture de 93, que certainement Dieu ne l’aime pas.

Né au plus épais de ce limon révolutionnaire, je devais donc avoir reçu une éducation en rapport avec mon origine, avec le sang rustique qui coule dans mes veines, avec cet esprit de critique qui a fait de mes auteurs et collatéraux des liseurs de Codes, qui ferait bientôt de la nation tout entière une société de démons, si les Ignorantins n’y mettaient ordre.

“Every day (at my father’s) there was a concert of imprecations against Providence, against society, against men.”

So asserts M. de Mirecourt, and I have no doubt that he drew his information from a good source.

Ma foi, s’il faut vous dire la vérité, Monseigneur, nous faisions encore pis, ne pensant guère plus à la Providence que nous ne comptions sur la société ; et vous savez que l’indifférence en matière de religion est bien autre chose que le blasphème. Je l’avouerai donc, on pratiquait chez nous avec tiédeur ; mais si tiède qu’elle fût, cette pratique pouvait paraître encore méritoire, tant on en attendait peu de chose. Mais on n’était pas ce qui s’appelle blasphémateur, incrédule ; on avait la foi du charbonnier ; on aimait mieux s’en rapporter à M le curé que d’y aller voir. « La religion, disait mon oncle Brutus, est aussi nécessaire à l’homme que le pain ; elle lui est aussi pernicieuse que le poison. » J’ignore où il avait attrapé cette sentence antinomique, dont je n’étais pas alors en état d’apprécier la valeur. Mais je sais fort bien que, tout en acceptant le pain, sans nous enquérir de la farine, nous avions grand’peur du poison, ce qui nous tenait perpétuellement dans l’occasion prochaine de l’incrédulité. Le premier cependant, et je crois le seul de la famille jusqu’à présent, je suis devenu pour tout de bon esprit fort et le plus grand blasphémateur du siècle, comme vous l’avez écrit quelque part. Il est bon que vous sachiez comment cela m’arriva.

Monseigneur,

Napoleon I said in his memoirs:

“My childhood was unremarkable; I was just a curious and obstinate child.”

This is precisely what can be said of most of the children of the people.

I had always flattered myself, in this respect, to be on the level of the multitude and of the great man, and did not expect that, under the inspiration of my archbishop, an entrepreneur of biographies would come to seek in the insignificance of my early years the symptoms of what, thirty years later, by stubbornly following the furrow of my century, I was to become.

I was wrong, of course: nothing is indifferent to the Christian. For him everything is preordained: race, condition, inclinations, first influences. Tell this Christian, regarding an individual taken at random, that this man was born poor, of parents with an enterprising, reasoning, rebellious, sarcastic spirit, as one finds today everywhere, he will answer you by shaking his head that he is a cutting from ’93 , that certainly God does not love him.

Born in the thickest of this revolutionary silt, I must therefore have received an education in keeping with my origins, with the rustic blood that runs in my veins, with this spirit of criticism which made my authors and relatives readers of Codes, which would soon turn the whole nation into a society of demons, if the Ignorantines did not put it in order.

“Every day (at my father’s) there was a concert of imprecations against Providence, against society, against men.”

So asserts my biographer, and I have no doubt that he drew his information from a good source.

My word, if I must tell you the truth, Monseigneur, we did even worse, thinking little more of Providence than we counted on society; and you know that indifference in matters of religion is very different from blasphemy. So I will admit it, we practiced at home with lukewarmness; but lukewarm as it was, this practice might still appear meritorious, so little was expected of it. But we were not what is called a blasphemer, an unbeliever; we had the faith of the collier; we preferred to rely on the curé rather than go and see. “Religion,” said my uncle Brutus, “is as necessary to man as bread; it is as pernicious to him as poison.” I don’t know where he got this contradictory sentence, the value of which I was not then in a condition to appreciate. But I know very well that, while accepting the bread, without asking about the flour, we were very afraid of the poison, which held us perpetually on the verge of unbelief. The first however, and I believe the only one of the family so far, I have become pour tout de bon esprit fort and the greatest blasphemer of the century, as you have written somewhere. It is good that you know how it happened to me.

II

My first doubts about faith came to me around my sixteenth year, following the mission that was preached in 1825 at Besançon, and the reading I made of the Demonstration of the Existence of God, by Fénelon. Daniel Stern, in her History of the Revolution of 1848, relates this anecdote about me, which is true. When I learned from the Duke of Burgundy’s tutor that there were atheists (I write this word as it is pronounced in Besançon), men who deny God, and who explain everything by the declension of atoms, or, as La Place would say, by matter and movement, I fell into an extraordinary reverie. I would have liked to hear these men themselves defending their thesis; read them, as I read Fénelon. A dangerous curiosity, if you like, which predicted nothing good, but which testified after all to my desire to educate myself and, I dare say it, to my sincerity: for, finally, if there was, whatever people say, no God! If there was anything other than God! or if God were nothing like what the people think and what the priests say! If the role that this mysterious being plays in the world were in the opposite direction to what our religion supposes!… Where would that lead us? Where wouldn’t that lead us?

In this regard, I will record here a fact that, despite my growing skepticism, I was unable to attribute to the clinamen. Being at college, I received as a prize, for five consecutive years, 1. three times the Abrégé de l’Ancien Testament, by Royaumont, 1 vol. in-12; 2. twice the Lives of the Saints, extracted from Godescard, also in-12; while some of my comrades, better qualified, received good works of literature and history. If, I told myself, the clinamen was the law of the universe, just the opposite would happen. I, who am poor, and who cannot even buy my schoolbooks, am emptying themselves, and the piles of prizes should fall to me because of gravity. So another force must turn them away. There is Providence here below!… Ah! Would it like to make a Stanislas Kostka of the cooper’s son?… This reflection, which was at the same time an explanation as such of the phenomenon, had a double advantage for me: first, to preserve me from envy, then to put me on my guard.

M. de Mirecourt cites another trait of the hardness of my soul:

“At the time of his first communion, Christian maxims cannot crush his pride.”

Would I be noted on the parish registers? Pest! What a policy!

I was a little over ten years old when I had my first communion, and had only read at that time the Gospel and the Quatre Fils Aymon. I was in the fullness of my innocence; and if the priest Sirebon, who confessed me, were in this world, he would tell you laughable stories. His prudence, of course, went faster than my thoughtlessness. The biggest sin that I remember is that at the Passion sermon that was preached to us two days before this big day, the girls, whose pews were placed opposite those of the boys, wept hot tears, and it made me want to laugh. Can you imagine those Madeleines from ten to eleven?… At that age, I could hardly understand the female heart and its precocious tenderness. Poor little ones! They are old at this hour. I would like to know how, with the ammunition of the catechism, they resisted the assaults of love, the seductions of vanity and the discouragements of misery.

Why shouldn’t I own up to it? I have always had little taste for the works of the devout life: going to confession, taking communion, visiting the Blessed Sacrament, kissing the crucifix, witnessing the washing of the feet, all that displeased me; a profound antipathy for the clerks, beadles and churchwardens, all of whom I regarded as arrogant Tartuffes. I had observed early that there was no good God for his sexton; and I detested this church brood, which would have made me dislike even the most beautiful saints in paradise.

Un de mes amis, forcé comme moi de faire sa première communion, s’était présenté à la sainte table le Système de la Nature, du baron d’Holbach, sur la poitrine, en signe de protestation. Je n’étais pas de cette force, mais je bataillais avec le confesseur, et je me rappelle fort bien qu’un jour qu’il me grondait d’avoir mangé, en temps de maigre, des pommes de terre cuites avec de la graisse de cochon, — vous comprenez que nous n’avions pas autre chose, — je lui répondis : Mon père, mon pâque ne vaut pas votre vendredi saint !

Tandis que la religion se perd pour le peuple, elle devient pour les riches, comme la musique et les modes, un embellissement de l’existence, je dirais presque un objet de luxe. Quelle peut être la cause de ce revirement ? Est-ce la faute de Voltaire ? Est-ce la faute de Rousseau ? Ou n’est-ce pas plutôt celle de l’Église ? Nous en jugerons tout à l’heure.

My first doubts about faith came to me around my sixteenth year, following the mission that was preached in 1825 at Besançon, and the reading I made of the Demonstration of the Existence of God, by Fénelon. Daniel Stern, in her History of the Revolution of 1848, relates this anecdote about me, which is true. When I learned from the Duke of Burgundy’s tutor that there were atheists (I write this word as it is pronounced in Besançon), men who deny God, and who explain everything by the declension of atoms, or, as La Place would say, by matter and movement, I fell into an extraordinary reverie. I would have liked to hear these men themselves defending their thesis; read them, as I read Fénelon. A dangerous curiosity, if you like, which predicted nothing good, but which testified after all to my desire to educate myself and, I dare say it, to my sincerity: for, finally, if there was, whatever people say, no God! If there was anything other than God! or if God were nothing like what the people think and what the priests say! If the role that this mysterious being plays in the world were in the opposite direction to what our religion supposes!… Where would that lead us? Where wouldn’t that lead us?

In this regard, I will record here a fact that, despite my growing skepticism, I was unable to attribute to the clinamen. Being at college, I received as a prize, for five consecutive years, 1. three times the Abrégé de l’Ancien Testament, by Royaumont, 1 vol. in-12; 2. twice the Lives of the Saints, extracted from Godescard, also in-12; while some of my comrades, better qualified, received good works of literature and history. If, I told myself, the clinamen was the law of the universe, just the opposite would happen. I, who am poor, and who cannot even buy my schoolbooks, am emptying themselves, and the piles of prizes should fall to me because of gravity. So another force must turn them away. There is Providence here below!… Ah! Would it like to make a Stanislas Kostka of the cooper’s son?… This reflection, which was at the same time an explanation as such of the phenomenon, had a double advantage for me: first, to preserve me from envy, then to put me on my guard.

My biography cites another trait of the hardness of my soul:

“At the time of his first communion, Christian maxims cannot crush his pride.”

Would I be noted on the parish registers? Pest! What a policy!

I was a little over ten years old when I had my first communion, and had only read at that time the Gospel and the Quatre Fils Aymon. I was in the fullness of my innocence; and if the priest Sirebon, who confessed me, were in this world, he would tell you laughable stories. His prudence, of course, went faster than my thoughtlessness. The biggest sin that I remember is that at the Passion sermon that was preached to us two days before this big day, the girls, whose pews were placed opposite those of the boys, wept hot tears, and it made me want to laugh. Can you imagine those Madeleines from ten to eleven?… At that age, I could hardly understand the female heart and its precocious tenderness. Poor little ones! They are old at this hour. I would like to know how, with the ammunition of the catechism, they resisted the assaults of love, the seductions of vanity and the discouragements of misery.

Why shouldn’t I own up to it? I have always had little taste for the works of the devout life: going to confession, taking communion, visiting the Blessed Sacrament, kissing the crucifix, witnessing the washing of the feet, all that displeased me; a profound antipathy for the clerks, beadles and churchwardens, all of whom I regarded as arrogant Tartuffes. I had observed early that there was no good God for his sexton; and I detested this church brood, which would have made me dislike even the most beautiful saints in paradise.

One of my friends, forced like me to make his first communion, had presented at the holy table Baron d’Holbach’s System of Nature on his chest, as a sign of protest. I was not of this strength, but I fought with the confessor, and I remember very well that one day when he scolded me for having eaten, in times of abstinence, potatoes cooked with fat. of pig, — you understand that we had nothing else, — I answered him: My father, my Easter is not worth your Good Friday!

While religion is lost for the people, it becomes for the rich, like music and fashions, an embellishment of existence, I would almost say an object of luxury. What could be the cause of this reversal? Is it Voltaire’s fault? Is it Rousseau’s fault? Or is it not rather that of the Church? We will judge presently.

CHAPTER ONE.

General idea of Education. — Intervention of the religious idea.

III

After morals, the Church has always regarded education as its triumph; it is the most beautiful jewel of her crown. There is no one but her, to hear her, who knows how to bring up the youth, train their minds and their hearts. You won’t need a long speech to show that in matters of education the Church has no right to be proud, any more than in matters of morality.

And first of all, what does the Church bring to the education of the subjects she nurtures? What does she provide of her own? What is her role, her specialty?

In principle, the education of the individual is homogeneous and proportional to the state of the species: it is the concentration in the soul of the young man of the rays which issue from all the points of the collectivity.

All education therefore aims to produce the man and the citizen according to a miniature image of society, by the methodical development of the physical, intellectual and moral faculties of the child.

In other words, education is the creation of mores in the human subject, taking this word mores in its broadest and highest sense, which includes not only rights and duties, but also all the modes of the soul, sciences, arts, industries, all the exercises of body and mind.

Now, it is obvious that ecclesiastical education does not exactly have the aim of fulfilling this program.

The Church, for example, does not meddle in the work of hands; it knows no industrial, agricultural, extractive or transport operations; running workshops, servicing offices, stores, etc. All this, however, composes the manners or forms of production, the influence of which is so great on the mind and the heart. Apprenticeship is none of her business .

The Church is no less foreign to the sciences. It may be that among its members it counts scholars, such, for example, as the famous Gerbert, who despite his reputation as a sorcerer was made pope under the name of Sylvester II. But it is not as priests that they are scholars; and it is a fact that for this knowledge, borrowed from elsewhere and which the Church qualifies as profane, they are not more esteemed. The Church, by virtue of her institution, never had the slightest initiative in science: she often persecuted it, despised it, for the services it rendered, without the privilege of the Holy Spirit, to humanity; and more than ever she is wary of it. When Gregory XIII wanted to reform the calendar, he turned to a non-ecclesiastical scholar, Lilio; when Galileo, pursuing the science of Lilio, tried to accommodate it to the Christian faith, he was tortured by the inquisition; and when Mabillon, according to Genoude’s report, prevented a Roman congregation from declaring heretical the opinion that maintains that Noah’s deluge was not universal, it was certainly not as a theologian that he made himself heard, but as a scholar, and above all a prudent adviser. There would be no end to telling such stories.

However, we can say that science, like labor, also has its mores, the action of which on general morality is incalculable: it is its methods, its classifications, analyses, hypotheses, etc., the habituation of which will always make the mind balk at faith.

In what concerns the arts, the repugnance of the Church is still stronger. Inheritor of the Pharisaical tradition, she has always seen in painting and statuary aids to idolatry; and if Rome, from the fifteenth  century, has relaxed, thanks to the emigration of the Greeks, the reform soon came to recall her to the severity of discipline. Moreover, modern criticism positively denies Christian art. The so-called Gothic architecture dates from the end of the Crusades; it was solemnly abolished by Brunelleschi and Bramante, who geometrically demonstrated its ineptitude, and never appeared in Rome. The painting begins with Giotto, a pupil of the ancients. Christianity can only become aesthetic by apostatizing itself: so it absolutely condemns tragedy, comedy, opera, dance, gymnasiums; it proscribes even the novel; he would like to annihilate Greek and Latin literature. And the reason for this ostracism is obvious: the arts tend to the exaltation of the human person, through the deployment of strength, talent and beauty, which is in diametrical opposition to the method of mortification and prayer. that salvation requires.

What has the Church done in philosophy? Nothing: the question implies a contradiction. Philosophy, wherever it shows itself, is the extra-religious movement of the mind, the march towards science, an object foreign to faith. The Church is theologian; it is her specialty. She uses philosophy, but she is not a philosopher. Scholasticism, so famous in the past and so forgotten, emerged fully armed fro, the books of Aristotle, who came very close to being placed in the ranks of the Fathers.

Does the Church know Justice? Does it have jurisprudence? — Yes, you will say, there is canon law. Indeed, we have shown in our previous studies how the Church, by virtue of its dogma, modified the ideas of the ancients on Justice, in its relations with respect to persons, distribution of goods and government. But, without returning to the criticism we have made of this pretended reform, it suffices to observe that canon law is universally neglected and that, if the youth takes lessons in law and political economy, it is not not of the Church that they ask them. The teaching of Justice, as well as its application by the courts, has always been part of the temporal: would you dare to treat this secularization as heresy?

The Church, in a word, is no more responsible for forming citizens than it is for forming producers and artists. This is not the object of her mission; and if we have seen subjects issued from the hands of the priests rise to a high degree of civic and human dignity, they did not derive this advantage from the Church; they were indebted to the energy of their nature and to the external influences that they received from all sides. Was it the Church or philosophy that produced this forever glorious generation of 1789?

I have just summarized in a few lines the main objects of education and teaching: work, science, art, philosophy, justice, the latter including public and private morality.

But education also constitutes an art, the most difficult of all the arts; a science, the deepest of all the sciences. Education is the most important function of society, that which has most occupied legislators and wise men. Men need only the precept; in childhood there must be an apprenticeship in duty itself, the exercise of conscience, as well as of body and thought. The Church, as well as the university, has produced excellent teachers of youth: who denies it? It suffices to recall their master, Fénelon; and I know, without believing it, all the good that has been said of the Jesuits.

That is not the question. It is about whether education is in itself a religious and priestly profession, or a purely civil profession; if at least the Church, which claims the privilege, possesses, for the accomplishment of this great work, a method of its own, a talent, an aptitude, a genius that is its own and flows from its dogma or, to put it better, from the grace attached to his ministry. From Xenophon to Rousseau and Madame Necker de Saussure, the philosophical spirit has produced numerous treatises on education, which the Church has copied, imitated, modified or contradicted, just as others copy, modify or contradict the processes of ecclesiastical education. How is the Church essentially different from secularism and philosophy?

For me, I admit that it is impossible for me to recognize, here more than elsewhere, the slightest specialty. Ecclesiastical education differs from secular education only in the religious spirit and the habits of piety that are mixed with it: for the rest, the ecclesiastical masters proceed like the lay masters, to such an extent that in the episcopal colleges, apart from the duties of piety, of which the priest alone is the minister, the laity and the clergy are used indiscriminately for all the rest.

Thus, even in education, the Church, in order to be something, is forced to encroach on the secular domain; it possesses nothing of its own. So is the ideal that resides in it incompatible by its nature with any practical and utilitarian element?

These eliminations made, what remains for the teaching of the Church and what does it do in education? What can be the object of its pedagogy?

 

CHAPTER ONE.

General idea of Education. — Intervention of the religious idea.

I. — After morals, the Church has always regarded education as its triumph; it is the most beautiful jewel of her crown. There is no one but her, to hear her, who knows how to bring up the youth, train their minds and their hearts. You won’t need a long speech to show that in matters of education the Church has no right to be proud, any more than in matters of morality.

And first of all, what does the Church bring to the education of the subjects she nurtures? What does she provide of her own? What is her role, her specialty?

In principle, the education of the individual is homogeneous and proportional to the state of the species: it is the concentration in the soul of the young man of the rays which issue from all the points of the collectivity.

All education therefore aims to produce the man and the citizen according to a miniature image of society, by the methodical development of the physical, intellectual and moral faculties of the child.

In other words, education is the creation of mores in the human subject, taking this word mores in its broadest and highest sense, which includes not only rights and duties, but also all the modes of the soul, sciences, arts, industries, all the exercises of body and mind.

Now, it is obvious that ecclesiastical education does not exactly have the aim of fulfilling this program.

The Church, for example, does not meddle in the work of hands; it knows no industrial, agricultural, extractive or transport operations; running workshops, servicing offices, stores, etc. All this, however, composes the manners or forms of production, the influence of which is so great on the mind and the heart. Apprenticeship is none of her business.

The Church is no less foreign to the sciences. It may be that among its members it counts scholars, such, for example, as the famous Gerbert, who despite his reputation as a sorcerer was made pope under the name of Sylvester II. But it is not as priests that they are scholars; and it is a fact that for this knowledge, borrowed from elsewhere and which the Church qualifies as profane, they are not more esteemed. The Church, by virtue of her institution, never had the slightest initiative in science: she often persecuted it, despised it, for the services it rendered, without the privilege of the Holy Spirit, to humanity; and more than ever she is wary of it. When Gregory XIII wanted to reform the calendar, he turned to a non-ecclesiastical scholar, Lilio; when Galileo, pursuing the science of Lilio, tried to accommodate it to the Christian faith, he was tortured by the inquisition; and when Mabillon, according to Genoude’s report, prevented a Roman congregation from declaring heretical the opinion that maintains that Noah’s deluge was not universal, it was certainly not as a theologian that he made himself heard, but as a scholar, and above all a prudent adviser. There would be no end to telling such stories.

However, we can say that science, like labor, also has its mores, the action of which on general morality is incalculable: it is its methods, its classifications, analyses, hypotheses, etc., the habituation of which will always make the mind balk at faith.

In what concerns the arts, the repugnance of the Church is still stronger. Inheritor of the Pharisaical tradition, she has always seen in painting and statuary aids to idolatry; and if Rome, from the fifteenth  century, has relaxed, thanks to the emigration of the Greeks, the reform soon came to recall her to the severity of discipline. Moreover, modern criticism positively denies Christian art. The so-called Gothic architecture dates from the end of the Crusades; it was solemnly abolished by Brunelleschi and Bramante, who geometrically demonstrated its ineptitude, and never appeared in Rome. The painting begins with Giotto, a pupil of the ancients. Christianity can only become aesthetic by making itself pagan: so it absolutely condemns tragedy, comedy, opera, dance, gymnasiums; it proscribes even the novel; he would like to annihilate Greek and Latin literature. And the reason for this ostracism is obvious: the arts, auxiliaries to morals, tend to the exaltation of the human person, through the deployment of strength, talent and beauty, which is in diametrical opposition to the method of mortification and prayer. that salvation requires.

What has the Church done in philosophy? Nothing: the question implies a contradiction. Philosophy, wherever it shows itself, is the extra-religious movement of the mind, the march towards science, an object foreign to faith. The Church is theologian; it is her specialty. She uses philosophy, but she is not a philosopher. Scholasticism, so famous in the past and so forgotten, emerged fully armed fro, the books of Aristotle, who came very close to being placed in the ranks of the Fathers.

Does the Church know Justice? Does it have jurisprudence? — Yes, you will say, there is canon law. Indeed, we have shown in our previous studies how the Church, by virtue of its dogma, modified the ideas of the ancients on Justice, in its relations with respect to persons, distribution of goods and government. But, without returning to the criticism we have made of this pretended reform, it suffices to observe that canon law is universally neglected and that, if the youth takes lessons in law and political economy, it is not not of the Church that they ask them. The teaching of Justice, as well as its application by the courts, has always been part of the temporal: would you dare to treat this secularization as heresy?

The Church, in a word, is no more responsible for forming citizens than it is for forming producers and artists. This is not the object of her mission; and if we have seen subjects issued from the hands of the priests rise to a high degree of civic and human dignity, they did not derive this advantage from the Church; they were indebted to the energy of their nature and to the external influences that they received from all sides. Was it the Church or philosophy that produced this forever glorious generation of 1789?

I have just summarized in a few lines the main objects of education and teaching: work, science, art, philosophy, justice, the latter including public and private morality.

But education also constitutes an art, the most difficult of all the arts; a science, the deepest of all the sciences. Education is the most important function of society, that which has most occupied legislators and wise men. Men need only the precept; in childhood there must be an apprenticeship in duty itself, the exercise of conscience, as well as of body and thought. The Church, as well as the university, has produced excellent teachers of youth: who denies it? It suffices to recall their master, Fénelon; and I know, without believing it, all the good that has been said of the Jesuits.

That is not the question. It is about whether education is in itself a religious and priestly profession, or a purely civil profession; if at least the Church, which claims the privilege, possesses, for the accomplishment of this great work, a method of its own, a talent, an aptitude, a genius that is its own and flows from its dogma or, to put it better, from the grace attached to his ministry. From Xenophon to Rousseau and Madame Necker de Saussure, the philosophical spirit has produced numerous treatises on education, which the Church has copied, imitated, modified or contradicted, just as others copy, modify or contradict the processes of ecclesiastical education. How is the Church essentially different from secularism and philosophy?

For me, I admit that it is impossible for me to recognize, here more than elsewhere, the slightest specialty. Ecclesiastical education differs from secular education only in the religious spirit and the habits of piety that are mixed with it: for the rest, the ecclesiastical masters proceed like the lay masters, to such an extent that in the episcopal colleges, apart from the duties of piety, of which the priest alone is the minister, the laity and the clergy are used indiscriminately for all the rest.

Thus, even in education, the Church, in order to be something, is forced to encroach on the secular domain; it possesses nothing of its own. So is the ideal that resides in it incompatible by its nature with any practical and utilitarian element?

These eliminations made, what remains for the teaching of the Church and what does it do in education? What can be the object of its pedagogy?

IV

All practical morality rests on this first principle, common to philosophy and religion:

Sin defiles the soul; living with it is worse than dying.

Such is the dictamen of conscience, whether it expresses itself through the dagger of Lucretia, who kills herself for a defilement to which she has not consented, but whose stain remains on her; or if it breaks out with still more energy in the sacrifice of Cato, who, despairing of overcoming the tyrant, strikes himself rather than witness the rape of the republic.

It is fashionable among Christians to blame and vituperate these heroic suicides. Saint Augustine has found a way to joke about Lucretius; the troop of historiographers has rushed on Cato. Let’s move on, if you like, to the very fact of suicide, which is a separate question, and let’s admit that Lucretius, Cato, Brutus, all those great souls who, in the face of dishonor, did not haggle over their lives, if they had the advantage of being born in the faith of Christ, would have been able to do better than die. But is it not true that their resolution, such as it is, attests to the inner horror of the soul for sin and the essential quality of our virtue? Potiùs mori quàm fœdari! Rather death than disgrace! A maxim as old as man, which bears witness to the soul’s intuition of itself and its purity; a maxim that, if it is correct, creates ethics and pedagogy immediately and without further assistance; and, if it is false, involves them both. All our hygiene, and in case of sickness all our moral medication, is established on this foundation.

However, to this law, of a psychological order, Christianity adds a consideration of another order.

Sin, it says, offends God, who forbids it, and sooner or later punishes it.

At first glance, there does not seem to be anything here that affects the principle. On the contrary, to run away from evil and to practice good we have two motives, respect for ourselves and respect for the divinity. What harm can the second do to the first?

Ne quid nimis: I am wary of this dualism.

Let us not be astonished by this mysterious appearance of the divine idea; and since in matters of morality it is above all a question of ourselves, and secondarily of a so-called interested Other, let us reason about this Other, whom we do not yet know, with the dignity and coolness that befit a moral and free being.

First, what is God getting involved in? I have never heard that he ordered me, on pain of lèse-majesté towards his person, to eat, to breathe, to sleep, to perform any of the functions that affect my animal life. Whether I enjoy or suffer, he doesn’t mind; he leaves me to my own direction, under my exclusive responsibility. Why doesn’t he do the same with my moral life? Are the laws of my conscience less certain than those of my organism, or more inviolable with impunity? When I do wrong, does not sin punish me instantly, with shame and remorse, as virtue, if I do well, rewards me with the opinion of my worth? Nonne si benè egeris recipies, sin autem malè statim in foribus peccatum? says Jehovah himself to Cain in Genesis. Do I not have enough, then, to observe my interior law, with this double sanction of joy and sadness; just as the double sanction of sickness and health is enough for me to cure my body?…

From whatever side one approaches the question, either from the side of God or from the side of conscience, the motive of religion, for a soul who reflects and who respects himself, has the right to surprise. But here is what is even more vexing.

I want God to be interested, as much as people say, in my moral life, when he cares so little for my organic life. What can this mean for my morality? For in the end it is not the profit that God can derive for himself from my virtue that is in question here, but my own perfection; it is only for my own good that God, joining his command to that of my conscience, commands me to be wise. That being so, I ask what will my obedience add to my value? Nothing at all. Before God, I am like the vassal before his suzerain. As long as I pay the tribute, I remain for this Majesty a submissive creature, a good servant if you will; I become a moral subject only insofar as, by a voluntary adhesion, I respect myself in its law: which constitutes between religion and morality an irreducible difference, which we shall soon see change into a veritable antagonism.

It is with the assent of the heart as with the adherence of the mind. Just as it is not by my faith in the revealed word that I make an act of intelligence, but by the judgment that I pass on this revelation; likewise it is not by my piety towards heaven that I perform an act of moral sense, but by my free virtue. Remove this freedom from my conscience and my reason, I am nothing more than a slave, an animal more or less docile, but devoid of morality, consequently unworthy of the esteem of its master.

I could support this analogy with a multitude of texts borrowed from theology and the Bible. Saint Paul wants our obedience to be reasoned, rationabile sit obsequium vestrum; he repudiates the servile faith. And the psalmist recommends that we constantly meditate on the law of God. How then can one not conclude, a pari, that obedience to the law being meritorious only insofar as it is free and the law is acknowledged by the conscience, religion, from the point of view of morality, is useless?

Let us observe, in passing, that the quality of God does not matter. Put Jupiter or Allah in place of Christ; put Nature, Humanity or a figure without energy or authority: the result remains the same. Whatever the god and the feeling he inspires in me, as soon as I am no longer driven to do good by the sole inspiration of my conscience, the merit of my action is nonexistent; in the scales of justice, it is zero.

Thus religion, of whatever kind, natural or supernatural, positive or mystical, adding nothing to the morality of man, is useless for education. Far from serving it, it can only falsify it, by charging the conscience with impure motives and maintaining cowardice, the principle of all degradation.

All practical morality rests on this first principle, common to philosophy and religion:

Sin defiles the soul; living with it is worse than dying.

Such is the dictamen of conscience, whether it expresses itself through the dagger of Lucretia, who kills herself for a defilement to which she has not consented, but whose stain remains on her; or if it breaks out with still more energy in the sacrifice of Cato, who, despairing of overcoming the tyrant, strikes himself rather than witness the rape of the republic.

It is fashionable among Christians to blame and vituperate these heroic suicides. Saint Augustine has found a way to joke about Lucretius; the troop of historiographers has rushed on Cato. Let’s move on, if you like, to the very fact of suicide, which is a separate question, and let’s admit that Lucretius, Cato, Brutus, all those great souls who, in the face of dishonor, did not haggle over their lives, if they had the advantage of being born in the faith of Christ, would have been able to do better than die. But is it not true that their resolution, such as it is, attests to the inner horror of the soul for sin and the essential quality of our virtue? Potiùs mori quàm fœdari! Rather death than disgrace! A maxim as old as man, which bears witness to the soul’s intuition of itself and its purity; a maxim that, if it is correct, creates ethics and pedagogy immediately and without further assistance; and, if it is false, involves them both. All our hygiene, and in case of sickness all our moral medication, is established on this foundation.

However, to this law, of a psychological order, Christianity adds a consideration of another order:

Sin, it says, offends God, who forbids it, and sooner or later punishes it.

At first glance, there does not seem to be anything here that affects the principle. On the contrary, to run away from evil and to practice good we have two motives, respect for ourselves and respect for the divinity. What harm can the second do to the first?

Ne quid nimis: I am wary of this dualism.

Let us not be astonished by this mysterious appearance of the divine idea; and since in matters of morality it is above all a question of ourselves, and secondarily of a so-called interested Other, let us reason about this Other, whom we do not yet know, with the dignity and coolness that befit a moral and free being.

First, what is God getting involved in? I have never heard that he ordered me, on pain of lèse-majesté towards his person, to eat, to breathe, to sleep, to perform any of the functions that affect my animal life. Whether I enjoy or suffer, he doesn’t mind; he leaves me to my own direction, under my exclusive responsibility. Why doesn’t he do the same with my moral life? Are the laws of my conscience less certain than those of my organism, or more inviolable with impunity? When I do wrong, does not sin punish me instantly, with shame and remorse, as virtue, if I do well, rewards me with the opinion of my worth? Nonne si benè egeris recipies, sin autem malè statim in foribus peccatum? says Jehovah himself to Cain in Genesis. Do I not have enough, then, to observe my interior law, with this double sanction of joy and sadness; just as the double sanction of sickness and health is enough for me to cure my body?

From whatever side one approaches the question, either from the side of God or from the side of conscience, the motive of religion, for a soul who reflects and who respects himself, has the right to surprise. But here is what is even more vexing.

I want God to be interested, as much as people say, in my moral life, when he cares so little for my organic life. What can this mean for my morality? For in the end it is not the profit that God can derive for himself from my virtue that is in question here, but my own perfection; it is only for my own good that God, joining his command to that of my conscience, commands me to be wise. That being so, I ask what will my obedience add to my value? Nothing at all. Before God, I am like the vassal before his suzerain. As long as I pay the tribute, I remain for this Majesty a submissive creature, a good servant if you will; I become a moral subject only insofar as, by a voluntary adhesion, I respect myself in its law: which constitutes between religion and morality an irreducible difference, which we shall soon see change into a veritable antagonism.

It is with the assent of the heart as with the adherence of the mind. Just as it is not by my faith in the revealed word that I make an act of intelligence, but by the judgment that I pass on this revelation; likewise it is not by my piety towards heaven that I perform an act of moral sense, but by my free virtue. Remove this freedom from my conscience and my reason, I am nothing more than a slave, an animal more or less docile, but devoid of morality, consequently unworthy of the esteem of its master.

I could support this analogy with a multitude of texts borrowed from theology and the Bible. Saint Paul wants our obedience to be reasoned, rationabile sit obsequium vestrum; he repudiates the servile faith. And the psalmist recommends that we constantly meditate on the law of God. How then can one not conclude, a pari, that obedience to the law being meritorious only insofar as it is free and the law is acknowledged by the conscience, religion, from the point of view of morality, is useless?

Let us observe, in passing, that the quality of God does not matter. Put Jupiter or Allah in place of Christ; put Nature, Humanity or a figure without energy or authority: the result remains the same. Whatever the god and the feeling he inspires in me, as soon as I am no longer driven to do good by the sole inspiration of my conscience, the merit of my action is nonexistent; in the scales of justice, it is zero.

Thus religion, of whatever kind, natural or supernatural, positive or mystical, adding nothing to the morality of man, is useless for education. Far from serving it, it can only falsify it, by charging the conscience with impure motives and maintaining within it cowardice, the principle of all degradation.

V

Thus speaks theory: what, in its turn, does experience say?

À force de recommander la piété envers les dieux comme le point capital de la morale, insensiblement on lui a subordonné la Justice ; le respect de l’humanité et de ses lois a passé après la crainte, toujours plus ou moins intéressée, des natures supérieures ; de cette crainte, par elle-même immorale, le sacerdoce a fait le principe de la vertu, initium sapientiæ timor Domini. Ce qui n’était proposé d’abord que comme motif auxiliaire d’attachement au bien et d’horreur pour le mal est devenu la raison principale et prépondérante. Alors, l’intervention de la divinité dans la vie intérieure érigée en article de foi, la conscience s’est fanée ; la piété diminuant, les mœurs se sont corrompues ; et l’homme, pour avoir voulu se donner l’appui d’une idole, a été déchu : le soi-disant péché originel n’a pas d’autre origine.

Such was the influence of piety during the religious period, which embraces the twenty centuries before the Christian era.

The sequel can be guessed.

Demoralized by a first religion, the conscience seeks its salvation in a reform. It creates for itself a redemptive divinity, capable of restoring its primitive virtue, and of restoring justice within in. It is the work that Christianity, religion par excellence of the fall and of rehabilitation, was willing to undertake, by defining itself in the following proposition, which forms, with the two stated above, its moral trilogy.

Religion is the set of therapeutic and prophylactic means, taught by God himself, by which degraded man recovers his virtue and preserves his mores.

Let us note the logic of this new system, to which all religions born and to be born tend fatally, as to their last form.

Man, though he was created in a state of innocence, not possessing in himself sufficient reason for good, could not fail to fail. It is therefore not to himself, to a virtuous reaction of his conscience, that he must ask for reparation for his sin; it is to the superior Essence, whose word has kindled in the heart of man the torch of the law, and who alone, possessing holiness, can communicate to his servant, with the precept, the strength to practice it, to persevere in it, and if he deviates from it, to come back to it.

So that we can consider Christian education as a kind of mental allopathy, according to which man, attacked by a constitutional affection and currently prevaricating, is returned to the good, not by the energy skillfully excited by his soul, but by the application of the graces or medicinal virtues of the holy being, who is God.

This established, here is how the Church intends to combat sin, to form and support morals, to arm the conscience against its own weaknesses.

While secular education applies itself to molding man in his body, his intelligence, his social relations, by demonstrating the laws of nature and of the mind, the teaching of law and civility, the Church, by conjurations called sacraments of which she has the privilege, by the weekly and anniversary exorcism of her offices, by the practice of mortification and silent prayer, by the direction of intention, above all by an absolute faith in revealed truths, pretends to attack sin in its germ, to prune the will and to give to our inclinations all the morality of which they are susceptible.

Such is the object of Christian teaching properly so called: those who, intellectualizing more, have claimed to free Christianity from this ritual, and to reduce it to the pure love of God and to pure morality, have been declared quietists, atheists and, what is worse, immoral, consequently cut off from the communion of the Church and doomed to hell.

C’est d’après ce principe que le fondateur principal de la secte chrétienne aurait été, par un oracle particulier, nommé Jésus, sauveur, libérateur, guérisseur, du même nom que les Esséniens, en grec Thérapeutes, comme qui dirait guérisseurs de consciences, par l’allopathie théurgique.

And it is to conform to the same thought that the said Jesus would have said to his disciples:

“Go, teach all the nations; baptize them (wash them, purify them), in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Spirit, and communicate to them my ordinances. Those whose sins you forgive, they will be forgiven; those from whom you retain forgiveness, they will be retained.”

III. — Thus speaks theory: what, in its turn, does experience say?

By dint of recommending piety to the gods as the fundamental point of morality, justice has imperceptibly been subordinated to it; respect for humanity and its laws has taken second place to the fear, always more or less interested, of superior natures; from this fear, by itself immoral, the priesthood has made the principle of virtue, initium sapientiæ timor Domini. What was at first proposed only as an auxiliary motive of attachment to good and horror of evil has become the principal and preponderant reason. Then, the intervention of the divinity in the inner life erected into an article of faith, the conscience faded; piety diminishing, morals have become corrupted; and man, for having wanted to give himself the support of an idol, has fallen: the so-called original sin has no other origin.

Such was the influence of piety during the first religious period, which embraces the twenty centuries before the Christian era.

The sequel can be guessed.

Demoralized by a first religion, the conscience seeks its salvation in a reform. It creates for itself a redemptive divinity, capable of restoring its primitive virtue, and of restoring justice within in. It is the work that Christianity, religion par excellence of the fall and of rehabilitation, was willing to undertake, by defining itself in the following proposition, which forms, with the two stated above, its pedagogy.

Religion is the set of therapeutic and prophylactic means, taught by God himself, by which degraded man recovers his virtue and preserves his mores.

Let us note the logic of this new system, to which all religions born and to be born tend fatally, as to their last form.

Man, though he was created in a state of innocence, not possessing in himself sufficient reason for good, could not fail to fail. It is therefore not to himself, to a virtuous reaction of his conscience, that he must ask for reparation for his sin; it is to the superior Essence, whose word has kindled in the heart of man the torch of the law, and who alone, possessing holiness, can communicate to his servant, with the precept, the strength to practice it, to persevere in it, and if he deviates from it, to come back to it.

So that we can consider Christian education as a kind of mental allopathy, according to which man, attacked by a constitutional affection and currently prevaricating, is returned to the good, not by the energy skillfully excited by his soul, but by the application of the graces or medicinal virtues of the holy being, who is God.

This established, here is how the Church intends to combat sin, to form and support morals, to arm the conscience against its own weaknesses.

While secular education applies itself to molding man in his body, his intelligence, his social relations, by demonstrating the laws of nature and of the mind, the teaching of law and civility, the Church, by conjurations called sacraments of which she has the privilege, by the weekly and anniversary exorcism of her offices, by the practice of mortification and silent prayer, by the direction of intention, above all by an absolute faith in revealed truths, pretends to attack sin in its germ, to prune the will and to give to our inclinations all the morality of which they are susceptible.

Such is the object of Christian teaching properly so called: those who, intellectualizing more, have claimed to free Christianity from this ritual, and to reduce it to the pure love of God and to pure morality, have been declared quietists, atheists and, what is worse, immoral, consequently cut off from the communion of the Church and doomed to hell.

It is according to this principle that the principal founder of the Christian sect would have been, by a particular oracle, named Jesus, savior, liberator, healer, of the same name as the Essenes, in Greek Therapeutae, as if to say healers of consciences, by theurgic allopathy.

And it is to conform to the same thought that the said Jesus would have said to his disciples:

“Go, teach all the nations; baptize them (wash them, purify them), in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Spirit, and communicate to them my ordinances. Those whose sins you forgive, they will be forgiven; those from whom you retain forgiveness, they will be retained.”

VI

I confess, in spite of the respect which the name of Christ inspires in me, that neither my reason nor my conscience could bend to this system, the counterpart of which had been given in Upper Asia, several centuries before, by the famous Buddha.

Natural philosophy, from Bacon to Arago, has as its principle that if one wants to do good physics, good chemistry, good mathematics, I would even say, with Broussais, good medicine, one must abstain from all ontological and religious speculation, never involving the idea of God or of the soul, the authority of revelation, the fear of Satan or the hope of eternal life. It is necessary to observe the facts attentively, to analyze them with exactitude, to define them with accuracy, to classify them with method, to generalize them with circumspection and to affirm nothing that cannot always, and at will, be confirmed by experience.

In agreement with these sages, and contrary to the doctrine of the Christian legislator, I maintain that the same must be done for morals, and that to address it through religion, as prescribed by Christ and Buddha, is to corrupt it…

Education is too vast a subject for me to be able to cover all its parts in a few pages. I will therefore confine myself to the examination of the following four questions, which seem to me to carry the rest:

How is man instituted by the Church in his conscience?

How, under this same direction, is he positioned with regard to society?

How, within nature?

How, in the face of death?

What I have to say about ecclesiastical pedagogy will allow us to judge, by way of opposition, what revolutionary pedagogy must one day be: for, alas! We must not refuse to face the fact that, even in the days of the proscription of the priests, the education of the people has not ceased to be Christian; and all of us, generations of 89, of 93, of 1809, of 1814, of 1830 and of 1848, we were made—posterity will say whether it was for our misfortune or our glory—children of God and of the Church.

IV. — I confess, in spite of the respect which the name of Christ inspires in me, that neither my reason nor my conscience could bend to this system, the counterpart of which had been given in Upper Asia, several centuries before, by the famous Buddha.

Natural philosophy, from Bacon to Arago, has as its principle that if one wants to do good physics, good chemistry, good mathematics, I would even say, with Broussais, good medicine, one must abstain from all ontological and religious speculation, never involving the idea of God or of the soul, the authority of revelation, the fear of Satan or the hope of eternal life. It is necessary to observe the facts attentively, to analyze them with exactitude, to define them with accuracy, to classify them with method, to generalize them with circumspection and to affirm nothing that cannot always, and at will, be confirmed by experience.

In agreement with these sages, and contrary to the doctrine of the Christian legislator, I maintain that the same must be done for morals, and that to address it through religion, as prescribed by Christ and Buddha, is to corrupt it…

Education is too vast a subject for me to be able to cover all its parts in a few pages. I will therefore confine myself to the examination of the following four questions, which seem to me to carry the rest:

How is man instituted by the Church in his conscience?

How, under this same direction, is he positioned with regard to society?

How, within nature?

How, in the face of death?

What I have to say about ecclesiastical pedagogy will allow us to judge, by way of opposition, what revolutionary pedagogy must one day be: for, alas! We must not refuse to face the fact that, even in the days of the proscription of the priests, the education of the people has not ceased to be Christian; and all of us, generations of 89, of 93, of 1809, of 1814, of 1830 and of 1848, we were made—posterity will say whether it was for our misfortune or our glory—children of God and of the Church.

CHAPTER II.

The man within himself. — Symbolism of worship and prayer. — Dual Consciousness.

VII

The pedagogy of the Church, like its economy and its politics, therefore has as its point of departure the dogma of our innate malice, which is useful that I recall at this moment.

Man, through the infection of his nature, cannot by himself will and do good.

There is not, said Luther after St. Paul, in the man not justified by Christ, moral virtue without pride and without sadness, that is to say without sin. So, we don’t become righteous by doing what is just; but, having become righteous, we do what is just.

This principle admitted, the question of education is reduced for every Christian and, as we shall soon see, for every religious spirit, to teaching man, with the precepts of morality, which by themselves would remain powerless, sacramental or justifying practices, whose dispensation constitutes the proper specialty of the Church.

Well! This insulting doctrine, common to all religions up to and including deism, which makes man a subject incapable a priori of thinking his modes, of wanting them, of producing them, of remaining faithful to them, a subject refractory with regard to his own essence; perhaps my reason, overwhelmed by the deluge of crimes that covers the earth, would not have been repugnant to this psychological contradiction, if at least it were true that it brought some alleviation to the tyranny of sin. But this is precisely what I deny: I maintain that, if by nature we are vicious and perverse, religion, by its method of justification, makes us worse.

 

CHAPTER II.

The man within himself. — Symbolism of worship and prayer. — Dual Consciousness.

V. — The pedagogy of the Church, like its economy and its politics, therefore has as its point of departure the dogma of our innate malice, which is useful that I recall at this moment.

Man, through the infection of his nature, cannot by himself effectively will and do good.

There is not, said Luther after St. Paul, in the man not justified by Christ, moral virtue without pride and without sadness, that is to say without sin. So, we don’t become righteous by doing what is just; but, having become righteous, we do what is just.

This principle admitted, the question of education is reduced for every Christian and, as we shall soon see, for every religious spirit, to teaching man, with the precepts of morality, which by themselves would remain powerless, sacramental or justifying practices, whose dispensation constitutes the proper specialty of the Church.

Well! This insulting doctrine, common to all religions up to and including deism, which makes man a subject incapable a priori of thinking his modes, of wanting them, of producing them, of remaining faithful to them, a subject refractory with regard to his own essence; perhaps my reason, overwhelmed by the deluge of crimes that covers the earth, would not have been repugnant to this psychological contradiction, if at least it were true that it brought some alleviation to the tyranny of sin. But this is precisely what I deny: I maintain that, if by nature we are vicious and perverse, religion, by its method of justification, makes us worse.

VIII

Let us take our thoughts back to those nascent societies, where mores are barely taking shape, where conscience is still looking for itself. A man appears, poet, diviner, priest, master of ceremonies. He offers the astonished commoners, as supernatural powers, his unofficial mediation. First, he seizes imaginations with imposing forms: we see him bow down, get up, invoke the sky, as if he were talking to a character visible to him alone. He commands submission through terror, he captures confidence through mystery. Then, and this is the decisive, lasting part of his ministry, he endeavors to create habits of piety in the masses, to mold wills and minds by means of symbols and rites intended to constantly recall to the people, not the moral law, which he himself, priest of the Most High, knows little more than those in whose name he officiates, but the transcendental Subject of high morality and of all law. — Let us place ourselves in the presence of God, said the priest, Introibo ad altare Dei : it is the summary of the ancient religion in its entirety. So that Justice, science of truth, whose name was engraved on Aaron’s rational; morality, promised by the priest, and only figured in adoration, finds itself replaced by another feeling, the fear of God, works of justice by acts of latria, virtue by faith.

What now does Christianity, that law of reparation that was to reform and complete the old, add to this? Take me back, Monsignor, if I miss one iota: because for you, as for the Revolution, it is of great interest.

Your whole religious science, like that of the good women who heal by means of secret formulas, like that of magnetizers who act by fluidic emanations, is reduced to a repertoire of gestures and verbal formulas, in which you suppose, on the strength of your revelations, and provided that there is added a sincere intention, the property of curing the soul of sin and bringing it back to wisdom.

What a conscience is that of the Christian, with his arsenal of magic words, incantations, obsecrations and talismans, against the innumerable multitude of sins and demons! — This one, says the Evangelical Reformer somewhere, speaking of an evil spirit that his disciples had not been able to expel, this one cannot be conquered by the sole invocation of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, not even by the effective name of Jehovah: it requires prayer and fasting! — To curb the ardor of the young Tobit, the angel Raphael (the name of Raphael means medicine of God), after having smoked the nuptial chamber with the liver of a fish caught in the Euphrates, ordered the new husband to pass the first night of his wedding in prayer, kneeling on a prie-dieu, next to his wife. For some other devilry alms are advised. But see the slope! The virtue of almsgiving also has its limits: then give, give to the Church what, given to the poor, will not have been successful for you…. I abstain from any commentary.

VI. — Let us take our thoughts back to those nascent societies, where mores are barely taking shape, where conscience is still looking for itself. A man appears, poet, diviner, priest, master of ceremonies. He offers the astonished commoners, as supernatural powers, his unofficial mediation. First, he seizes imaginations with imposing forms: we see him bow down, get up, invoke the sky, as if he were talking to a character visible to him alone. He commands submission through terror, he captures confidence through mystery. Then, and this is the decisive, lasting part of his ministry, he endeavors to create habits of piety in the masses, to mold wills and minds by means of symbols and rites intended to constantly recall to the people, not the moral law, which he himself, priest of the Most High, knows little more than those in whose name he officiates, but the transcendental Subject of high morality and of all law. — Let us place ourselves in the presence of God, said the priest, Introibo ad altare Dei : it is the summary of the ancient religion in its entirety. So that Justice, science of truth, whose name was engraved on Aaron’s rational; morality, promised by the priest, and only figured in adoration, finds itself replaced by another feeling, the fear of God, works of justice by acts of latria, virtue by faith.

What now does Christianity, that law of reparation that was to reform and complete the old, add to this? Take me back, Monsignor, if I miss one iota: because for you, as for the Revolution, it is of great interest.

Your whole religious science, like that of the good women who heal by means of secret formulas, like that of magnetizers who act by fluidic emanations, is reduced to a repertoire of gestures and verbal formulas, in which you suppose, on the strength of your revelations, and provided that there is added a sincere intention, the property of curing the soul of sin and bringing it back to wisdom.

What a conscience is that of the Christian, with his arsenal of magic words, incantations, obsecrations and talismans, against the innumerable multitude of sins and demons! — This one, says the Evangelical Reformer somewhere, speaking of an evil spirit that his disciples had not been able to expel, this one cannot be conquered by the sole invocation of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, not even by the effective name of Jehovah: it requires prayer and fasting! — To curb the ardor of the young Tobit, the angel Raphael (the name of Raphael means medicine of God), after having smoked the nuptial chamber with the liver of a fish caught in the Euphrates, ordered the new husband to pass the first night of his wedding in prayer, kneeling on a prie-dieu, next to his wife. For some other devilry alms are advised. But see the slope! The virtue of almsgiving also has its limits: then give, give to the Church what, given to the poor, will not have been successful for you…. I abstain from any commentary.

IX

Let us dwell for a moment on this theurgy, inseparable from any religious system.

The man who, having formed the concept of God through the activity of his understanding, then makes this concept intervene in his practical reason as the subject, motive and sanction of Justice; that man, as I said (2nd study), will be led sooner or later to put his concept in harmony with the function that his conscience assigns to him, that is to say that he will realize it in soul and in body, and finally will make an idol of it.

The substantification of the divine concept, consequently its animation, its personality, its incarnation, its history, all these mysterious concretions of which dogmatic theology is composed, have their origin in the attribution that primitive man makes to a metaphysical subject, other than himself, of judicial authority, which is his prerogative.

The same evolution, from the abstract to the concrete, is observed in the acts of worship.

God created for the imaginary need of his conscience, the believer concludes from it, he cannot not conclude from it, that a communication, a relationship, exists between his soul and the divinity. This relation, which the discreet theists enclose in the depths of the consciousness, and to which they attribute the virtuous inclinations of the soul, the man of a more radiant faith does not delay in discovering it outside of the consciousness, in the faculties of his being and the phenomena of nature. Everything is, for the true believer, a manifestation of divinity. And, as the distinction between spiritual and corporeal things is a pure fiction of dialectics, the theist, who admits the existence of relations between himself and the divinity, tends invincibly to exteriorize these relations, to seize their trace in certain material facts, symbols, signs or vehicles of divine action, to which he therefore attributes the same efficacy as to an immediate impression of God.

Faith in the sacraments is therefore an integral part of faith in the divinity: which falls within the proposition previously demonstrated, that all natural religion, provided it has roots and takes little development, will sooner or later become revealed religion; all worship in spirit will manifest itself as genuflection.

Now, what is the sacrament other than a pure fetishism? From the profession of faith of the Savoyard Vicar to that of the savage, there is only the distance from the principle to the consequence: by which we see that the more reasonable of the two would not be the philosopher, if it were not a law for philosophy to always begin with inconsistency.

VII. — Let us dwell for a moment on this theurgy, inseparable from any religious system.

The man who, having formed the concept of God through the activity of his understanding, then makes this concept intervene in his practical reason as the subject, motive and sanction of Justice; that man, as I said (2nd study), will be led sooner or later to put his concept in harmony with the function that his conscience assigns to him, that is to say that he will realize it in soul and in body, and finally will make an idol of it.

The substantification of the divine concept, consequently its animation, its personality, its incarnation, its history, all these mysterious concretions of which dogmatic theology is composed, have their origin in the attribution that primitive man makes to a metaphysical subject, other than himself, of judicial authority, which is his prerogative.

The same evolution, from the abstract to the concrete, is observed in the acts of worship.

God created for the imaginary need of his conscience, the believer concludes from it, he cannot not conclude from it, that a communication, a relationship, exists between his soul and the divinity. This relation, which the discreet theists enclose in the depths of the consciousness, and to which they attribute the virtuous inclinations of the soul, the man of a more radiant faith does not delay in discovering it outside of the consciousness, in the faculties of his being and the phenomena of nature. Everything is, for the true believer, a manifestation of divinity. And, as the distinction between spiritual and corporeal things is a pure fiction of dialectics, the theist, who admits the existence of relations between himself and the divinity, tends invincibly to exteriorize these relations, to seize their trace in certain material facts, symbols, signs or vehicles of divine action, to which he therefore attributes the same efficacy as to an immediate impression of God.

Faith in the sacraments is therefore an integral part of faith in the divinity: which falls within the proposition previously demonstrated, that all natural religion, provided it has roots and takes little development, will sooner or later become revealed religion; all worship in spirit will manifest itself as genuflection.

Now, what is the sacrament other than a pure fetishism? From the profession of faith of the Savoyard Vicar to that of the savage, there is only the distance from the principle to the consequence: by which we see that the more reasonable of the two would not be the philosopher, if it were not a law for philosophy to always begin with inconsistency.

X

As water cleanses the body of its defilements, so, says the sacramentary, ablution performed according to the sacred rite, with faith or just the desired intention, purifies the soul of its original stain. What does religion teach us through this mystery? It is that in principle all nature is imbued with God; that the phenomena that surround us are relations, not only of the physical order, but also of the divine order; that, consequently, in order to obtain grace through the vehicle of phenomena, it suffices to unite ourselves in intention to the divine Mercy, at the same time that we fulfill, in body, the condition of phenomenality. This is why in the sacrament the matter is more than a sign or a symbol; it acquires a supernatural virtue, which makes it necessary for the accomplishment of the mystery. It is so true, for example, that water is indispensable to Christian regeneration, that if you remove the liquid infusion from the profession of faith of the neophyte, despite all the invocations, there is no baptism and sin remains. On the contrary, let an unbeliever, a Jew, a Mohammedan, baptize the newborn child, pronouncing over him the formula: I baptize you, in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and the child is a Christian, he is entered into grace; let death strike him, he will see God.

Thus religious thought, after having conceived the transcendental world, causes this world to produce, through the intermediary of visible creatures, supernatural effects. Hence the miracles wrought by the name of Jehovah, by the mantle of Elijah, the rod of Elisha, the nails of the true Cross, the bones of the saints; hence the virtue attributed to the holy chrism, to the holy oils, to the images, medals, scapulars, etc., in which the whole Church considers, according to the pleasure of God, intermediaries, instruments or vehicles of the action of heaven. Hence, finally, among the ministers of worship and generally among all believers, a certain disposition to content themselves, on the part of the indifferent, with external demonstrations: they always hope that by the efficacy that it has pleased God to attach to the symbols of his worship, the material act, reacting on the will, will determine faith. A single appearance at mass, a semblance of confession, a trifle, is enough for their piety. They are accused of hypocrisy; this is wrong. What the worldly treats here with a grimace, and which on their part would be an indignity, precisely proves the sincerity of the faithful.

VIII. — As water cleanses the body of its defilements, so, says the sacramentary, ablution performed according to the sacred rite, with faith or just the desired intention, purifies the soul of its original stain. What does religion teach us through this mystery? It is that in principle all nature is imbued with God; that the phenomena that surround us are relations, not only of the physical order, but also of the divine order; that, consequently, in order to obtain grace through the vehicle of phenomena, it suffices to unite ourselves in intention to the divine Mercy, at the same time that we fulfill, in body, the condition of phenomenality. This is why in the sacrament the matter is more than a sign or a symbol; it acquires a supernatural virtue, which makes it necessary for the accomplishment of the mystery. It is so true, for example, that water is indispensable to Christian regeneration, that if you remove the liquid infusion from the profession of faith of the neophyte, despite all the invocations, there is no baptism and sin remains. On the contrary, let an unbeliever, a Jew, a Mohammedan, baptize the newborn child, pronouncing over him the formula: I baptize you, in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and the child is a Christian, he is entered into grace; let death strike him, he will see God.

Thus religious thought, after having conceived the transcendental world, causes this world to produce, through the intermediary of visible creatures, supernatural effects. Hence the miracles wrought by the name of Jehovah, by the mantle of Elijah, the rod of Elisha, the nails of the true Cross, the bones of the saints; hence the virtue attributed to the holy chrism, to the holy oils, to the images, medals, scapulars, etc., in which the whole Church considers, according to the pleasure of God, intermediaries, instruments or vehicles of the action of heaven. Hence, finally, among the ministers of worship and generally among all believers, a certain disposition to content themselves, on the part of the indifferent, with external demonstrations: they always hope that by the efficacy that it has pleased God to attach to the symbols of his worship, the material act, reacting on the will, will determine faith. A single appearance at mass, a semblance of confession, a trifle, is enough for their piety. They are accused of hypocrisy; this is wrong. What the worldly treats here with a grimace, and which on their part would be an indignity, precisely proves the sincerity of the faithful.

XI

In 1848, when petitions rained down on the National Assembly from the four corners of France, asking that I be expelled as an atheist, I received a letter sent from the provinces. The writing was beautiful, the spelling impeccable; enough distinction in style. Neither signature nor address; the author, however, was a woman, moreover, she said, still young and living in the world, who went to balls when there were balls, and who, since the Republic apparently, was only concerned with the things of God. In the fold of the letter, a medal of the Virgin, attached to a silk cord.

“You don’t want God,” she told me. “Wretch! What do you want then?… You do not know me, and probably you will never know me; but you have done me a lot of harm… I beg you as a favor, Monsieur, to wear this little medal, which is very precious to me, and our good Mother will save you in spite of yourself. I am sending it to you without my husband knowing, although no doubt he would have approved. Like you, sir, he is a man of intelligence, but with the difference that he believes in God and worships him.”

Immediately, I took off my coat, my tie, and I put the little medal under my shirt…. Now that the time is far off, I can’t help but shudder again at my imprudence. Can you imagine the atheist carrying a blessed coin?… Suppose that one evening, picked up in the street, dead or wounded, the neighborhood doctor had discovered this relic on my skin! What a scandal! What conjectures there would have been!… I was a lost man. Well! Hard heads, as Christ said, body without souls, if I lost faith in God, I gained faith in humanity, this faith which is defined as Justice and Indulgence. What is the more or less superstitious devotion of a woman to me? What do her pretensions to sanctity and literature weigh in my eyes? I no more believe in her genius than in her miracles; but I believe in her heroism, in her devotion, in that superhuman tenderness that, despite her faith, protests in her against the damnation of the atheist; I expect everything from the virtue of her sacrifice, and I adore in her the conscience of the human race. This cord, this medal are ridiculous tidbits, but charged with the scent of a doleful and passionate soul, became for me a talisman that was to protect me from the excess of my anger toward man, and irony with regard to women. Certainly the miracle expected by my pious donor was not accomplished; she will at least know, if she reads these lines, that I have not failed in her wish, and that I will be able to boast, in the tribunal of the great Judge, of having had in my life a quarter of an hour of good will.

IX. — In 1848, when petitions rained down on the National Assembly from the four corners of France, asking that I be expelled as an atheist, I received a letter sent from the provinces. The writing was beautiful, the spelling impeccable; enough distinction in style. Neither signature nor address; the author, however, was a woman, moreover, she said, still young and living in the world, who went to balls when there were balls, and who, since the Republic apparently, was only concerned with the things of God. In the fold of the letter, a medal of the Virgin, attached to a silk cord.

“You don’t want God,” she told me. “Wretch! What do you want then?… You do not know me, and probably you will never know me; but you have done me a lot of harm… I beg you as a favor, Monsieur, to wear this little medal, which is very precious to me, and our good Mother will save you in spite of yourself. I am sending it to you without my husband knowing, although no doubt he would have approved. Like you, sir, he is a man of intelligence, but with the difference that he believes in God and worships him.”

Immediately, I took off my coat, my tie, and I put the little medal under my shirt…. Now that the time is far off, I can’t help but shudder again at my imprudence. Can you imagine the atheist carrying a blessed coin?… Suppose that one evening, picked up in the street, dead or wounded, the neighborhood doctor had discovered this relic on my skin! What a scandal! What conjectures there would have been!… I was a lost man. Well! Hard heads, as Christ said, body without souls, if I lost faith in God, I gained faith in humanity, this faith which is defined as Justice and Indulgence. What is the more or less superstitious devotion of a woman to me? What do her pretensions to sanctity and literature weigh in my eyes? I no more believe in her genius than in her miracles; but I believe in her heroism, in her devotion, in that superhuman tenderness that, despite her faith, protests in her against the damnation of the atheist; I expect everything from the virtue of her sacrifice, and I adore in her the conscience of the human race. This cord, this medal are ridiculous tidbits, but charged with the scent of a doleful and passionate soul, became for me a talisman that was to protect me from the excess of my anger toward man, and irony with regard to women. Certainly the miracle expected by my pious donor was not accomplished; she will at least know, if she reads these lines, that I have not failed in her wish, and that I will be able to boast, in the tribunal of the great Judge, of having had in my life a quarter of an hour of good will.

XII

I would not like to be accused of joking on a subject that lends itself so much to ridicule: licentiousness in matters of religion has been worn out since Voltaire. But who does not see that Christianity, the last term of paganism, of theism, is there in its entirety? Without faith in the sacraments, in relics, in images, there is no religion. And since there are no absolute limits, no distinctions between the world of nature and the world of grace, the same thought that led to this therapy of the soul being imagined suggested, for the satisfaction material interests, a multitude of practices equally authorized, if not commanded by the Church: so that we can judge by the character of the latter the value of the former.

He who has the power to save us from sin, the devotees said to themselves, can also preserve us from all illnesses and accidents. This principle established, recourse to the Divinity no longer has any limits. There are therefore formulas against the influence of the evil spirit, for all the circumstances of life: birth, puberty, engagement, marriage, pregnancy, childbirth, rest, weaning, illnesses, death; — for all actions: get up, go to bed, work, rest, visits, walks; — for all times: solstices, equinoxes, new moons, weeks, morning, noon, evening; — for all matters: when the king goes to war and when he returns from war, when a prefect is installed, when a bishop is enthroned, when a house is built, when a mine is opened, when a ship is launched, when a church is dedicated or a bell is cast; — for all accidents, bad weather and calamities, rain and drought, thunder, hail, frost, flood, fire, famine, pestilence, epizootic disease, etc. The newspapers once reported that a quarry owner, having had his work blessed by the Bishop of Viviers, witnessed by all his clergy, detached from the mountain a mass of one hundred thousand tons of stone: it is true that had taken care to set fire to a powder charge of 10,000 kilograms.

There are saints endowed, by divine permission, with special prerogatives for the preservation from plagues and diseases: shipwrecks, ferocious beasts, insects, fevers, wounds, scrofula, scabies, leprosy, malignant pustule, dysentery, epilepsy, hydrophobia; saints for sheep pox, farcin, tournil, rheumatism, hemorrhoids; patrons for all trades, corporations, parishes, cities, provinces and kingdoms. Christianity left nothing to do with politics, or economics, or insurance, or medicine, or strategy; it had provided for everything by its formulas: Ite, docete omnes gentes.

X. — I would not like to be accused of joking on a subject that lends itself so much to ridicule: licentiousness in matters of religion has been worn out since Voltaire. But who does not see that Christianity, the last term of paganism, of theism, is there in its entirety? Without faith in the sacraments, in relics, in images, there is no religion. And since there are no absolute limits, no distinctions between the world of nature and the world of grace, the same thought that led to this therapy of the soul being imagined suggested, for the satisfaction material interests, a multitude of practices equally authorized, if not commanded by the Church: so that we can judge by the character of the latter the value of the former.

He who has the power to save us from sin, the devotees said to themselves, can also preserve us from all illnesses and accidents. This principle established, recourse to the Divinity no longer has any limits. There are therefore formulas against the influence of the evil spirit, for all the circumstances of life: birth, puberty, engagement, marriage, pregnancy, childbirth, rest, weaning, illnesses, death; — for all actions: get up, go to bed, work, rest, visits, walks; — for all times: solstices, equinoxes, new moons, weeks, morning, noon, evening; — for all matters: when the king goes to war and when he returns from war, when a prefect is installed, when a bishop is enthroned, when a house is built, when a mine is opened, when a ship is launched, when a church is dedicated or a bell is cast; — for all accidents, bad weather and calamities, rain and drought, thunder, hail, frost, flood, fire, famine, pestilence, epizootic disease, etc. The newspapers once reported that a quarry owner, having had his work blessed by the Bishop of Viviers, witnessed by all his clergy, detached from the mountain, at the moment of the benediction, a mass of one hundred thousand tons of stone: it is true that had taken care to set fire to a powder charge of 10,000 kilograms.

There are saints endowed, by divine permission, with special prerogatives for the preservation from plagues and diseases: shipwrecks, ferocious beasts, insects, fevers, wounds, scrofula, scabies, leprosy, malignant pustule, dysentery, epilepsy, hydrophobia; saints for sheep pox, farcin, tournil, rheumatism, hemorrhoids; patrons for all trades, corporations, parishes, cities, provinces and kingdoms. Christianity left nothing to do with politics, or economics, or insurance, or medicine, or strategy; it had provided for everything by its formulas: Ite, docete omnes gentes.

XIII

Is it for himself that man, this creature so beautiful in his body, so sublime in his soul, destined to become the generous type of moral life, plunges with a kind of delight into this ocean of superstitions!… Is he acting under the instigation of a jealous spirit, by a chastisement of the Divinity, or by some horrible conspiracy of the priesthood?

You would take me for some backward Voltairean, Monseigneur, if, after having skimmed over your religious instruction with a smile, I did not give the psychological reason for it; if I did not show, even in this abasement to which man can be led by Faith, the grandeur of his thought and the poetry of his conscience.

Let us say it then, for the instruction of a Church ignorant of its own mysteries: there is really only one misunderstanding to correct here. Change the address, and all this apocalyptic unreason becomes the epic of human virtue.

This source of all good and all holiness, which the religious soul calls its Lord, its Christ, its Father, it is itself that it contemplates in the ideal of its power and its beauty. Virgil puts it in his own words: God is the eternal power of mankind:

Ô Pater, ô hominum divûmque æterna potestas !

These genii, these angels, these saints, who form the retinue of the Most High, are all the faculties of this soul, which it realizes and personifies, in order to invoke them afterwards as its patrons and protectors. This monster of ignominy that it calls Satan is still it, in the ideality of its ugliness. And this endless adoration, unintelligible to the priest as well as to the vulgar, is the perpetual hymn that it sings to itself to exhort itself to think well, to love well, to say well and to do well; the rhapsody, always new, of its struggles, its miseries and its triumphs; the beating of wings that raises it towards the sublimities of Justice.

Such a hallucination, you will say, would be more marvelous than religion itself, the mystery of which is claimed to be explained in this way.

Nothing could be more natural, however: you will be the judge.

From the moment that man, incapable at first of disentangling in himself the Justice of which he experiences the sentiment, is led by the constitution of his understanding to seek for it outside his conscience a subject in which it resides, as I have already explained (2nd Study, chap. 2), it is quite simple that he invokes this just Judge, both against the enemies who threaten him and against his own inclinations; let him ask his advice, let him beg him to strengthen him, to sustain him, to purify him, to raise him in virtue. It is therefore itself that the soul invokes, prays to and conjures; it is to its own conscience that it appeals; and, in whatever way the prayer is turned, it will only be the expression of the self that implores itself under the name of God; it will not even have any meaning, it will only be intelligible through this prosopopoeia.

An example, familiar to all my readers, which by itself sums up the whole of religion, the whole breviary, will make intelligible this alienation of the human soul, which, taking itself for an Other, calls itself, worships itself like the Eve of Milton, without knowing itself.

XI. — Is it for himself that man, this creature so beautiful in his body, so sublime in his soul, destined to become the generous type of moral life, plunges with a kind of delight into this ocean of superstitions!… Is he acting under the instigation of a jealous spirit, by a chastisement of the Divinity, or by some horrible conspiracy of the priesthood?

You would take me for some backward Voltairean, Monseigneur, if, after having skimmed over your religious instruction with a smile, I did not give the psychological reason for it; if I did not show, even in this abasement to which man can be led by Faith, the grandeur of his thought and the poetry of his conscience.

Let us say it then, for the instruction of a Church ignorant of its own mysteries: there is really only one misunderstanding to correct here. Change the address, and all this apocalyptic unreason becomes the epic of human virtue.

This source of all good and all holiness, which the religious soul calls its Lord, its Christ, its Father, it is itself that it contemplates in the ideal of its power and its beauty. Virgil puts it in his own words: God is the eternal power of mankind:

O Pater, d hominum divèmque æterna potestas (A)!

These genii, these angels, these saints, who form the retinue of the Most High, are all the faculties of this soul, which it realizes and personifies, in order to invoke them afterwards as its patrons and protectors. This monster of ignominy that it calls Satan is still it, in the ideality of its ugliness. And this endless adoration, unintelligible to the priest as well as to the vulgar, is the perpetual hymn that it sings to itself to exhort itself to think well, to love well, to say well and to do well; the rhapsody, always new, of its struggles, its miseries and its triumphs; the beating of wings that raises it towards the sublimities of Justice.

Such a hallucination, you will say, would be more marvelous than religion itself, the mystery of which is claimed to be explained in this way. Nothing could be more natural, however: you will be the judge.

From the moment that man, incapable at first of disentangling in himself the Justice of which he experiences the sentiment, is led by the constitution of his understanding to seek for it outside his conscience a subject in which it resides, as I have already explained (2nd Study, chap. 2), it is quite simple that he invokes this just Judge, both against the enemies who threaten him and against his own inclinations; let him ask his advice, let him beg him to strengthen him, to sustain him, to purify him, to raise him in virtue. It is therefore itself that the soul invokes, prays to and conjures; it is to its own conscience that it appeals; and, in whatever way the prayer is turned, it will only be the expression of the self that implores itself under the name of God; it will not even have any meaning, it will only be intelligible through this prosopopoeia.

An example, familiar to all my readers, which by itself sums up the whole of religion, the whole breviary, will make intelligible this alienation of the human soul, which, taking itself for an Other, calls itself, worships itself like the Eve of Milton, without knowing itself.

XIV

You who give confirmation to Christians, Monsignor, you know your Pater, no doubt; but, have you ever understood anything?

An appeal to sovereign perfection, an act of submission to the eternal order, of devotion to Justice, of faith in its reign, of moderation in desires, of regret for faults committed, of charity towards one’s neighbor; recognition of free will, invocation to virtue, anathema to vice, affirmation of truth: the morality of forty centuries is summed up in these humble and moving words, which Christian tradition attributes to its Man-god.

What pains appeased, courage strengthened, resentments vanquished, doubts vanished, by the recitation of this prayer, more accessible to hearts than to minds! When the poor, debased, lazy liar approaches us, prayer on their lips, such is the grace of this truly evangelical word that we feel drawn, despite ourselves, to alms. Pater noster!… Alas! with the exception of a few privileged scholars, this is all the people know of their rights and duties. After the Decalogue and the Dominical Prayer, nothing. Thirty-four lines in thirty-four centuries! Tell me, Monsignor, what are the priesthoods for?

Taken in the literal sense, as the Church does, the Lord’s Prayer is only a web of silly, contradictory, even immoral and impious ideas. One can extract from it a dozen heresies, condemned by the Holy See; and it is perhaps by relying on the Pater, understood in the manner of priests, that Jérôme Lalande concludes that its author was an atheist.

But penetrate below the letter, always absurd when it is a question of prayer, and this same prayer will seem to you to have an incomparable morality and rationality.

Father! — Father of whom, father of what? Does the Christian God engender in the manner of Jupiter, whom Homer rightly calls father of men and gods? This interpretation cannot be accepted. Should we take the thing in the psychic sense, and say that the soul, an emanation of the divinity, here affirms its celestial origin? But the generation of souls by the Most High is no more understandable, does not appear to be better established than that of bodies; moreover, the theory of emanation has been condemned by the Church, and I do not believe that philosophy dreams of restoring it to honor. Will it be said that Father here has the meaning of Creator? The idea, indeed, is orthodox; but there is no doubt that the religious soul, in speaking to his Father, means only that this father is also the author of everything. The Creator therefore does not explain the Father; and the continuation of the speech, the obvious intention of the text, demands more. What remains, if not to take the name of Father as a synonym of Sovereign, patron, master and, at the same time, model, according to what Scripture says elsewhere, Be holy as I am holy; steward and purveyor of the soul and of society? Now, who is this father, protector and prototype of the soul that prays to him? According to the Church, it is God, a being apart, whom we assume to be all good, all wise and all-powerful, in whose image we are created, who is alone capable of understanding us and granting our desires. I maintain that this Father is nothing other than the soul itself, enlarged in its own eyes by the conception of the social idea or of Justice, elevated by this conception of right to be the equal of society itself, which, unable at first to recognize itself with this sublime character, calls out to itself under a cabalistic name, and prompts itself to virtue through the contemplation of its ideal. To say, after that, that it conceives of this Father as the creator of nature, amounts to saying that having attained through Justice the feeling of the infinite, positing itself as infinite, it brings into this infinity every cause, every idea, every power, every life, because the infinite must include everything, and infinity is one.

Who is in heaven. — Someone in the heavens! The Jew, who made the heavens of metal, and lodged there as in a palace his Jehovah, could believe it; the first-century pagans and Christians as well. Nowadays, this material localization is impossible. Heaven is everywhere and nowhere; it is literally nonsense. It is therefore necessary to resort again to the figure: heaven is the summit of creation, the highest point of Olympus with several summits, as Homer says, Ἀϰροτάτη ϰορύφη πολυδείραδος Οὸλυμποιο, all that is highest in the united kingdoms of nature. Father who is in heaven, this therefore means: Sovereign essence, source of all Justice, elevated above all creatures!… It is God, you will say again. You go quickly in interpretation, and you settle for very little. The soul can only believe, know and affirm what it feels or experiences; and the only thing of which it has any feeling here is itself; it is its self, which nothing equals in the visible world, and which it discovers through the telescope of transcendental contemplation. The soul acts here like the child who, learning to speak, before saying me, designates himself in the third person: will you conclude, on the naive word of this child, that he is double?…

Hallowed be thy name. — The name, according to the energy of the oriental style, is the same thing as the definition, that is to say the essence. Now, to whom can the vow of sanctification be appropriate here? To God? It is impossible. God, despite all blasphemy and all idolatry, is inviolable. The soul therefore thinks in reality otherwise than it expresses itself; and when it says to its Father: Hallowed be thy name, it is as if it said to itself: Through the contemplation of my pure essence, let me sanctify myself and make myself more and more like myself, like my type, like my ideal! It is, in other words, what the oracle of Delphi recommended, with less emphasis, to the pious man, when he said to him: Know thyself. Whatever violence we do to words, we are no longer in heaven; the sanctificetur makes us descend into humanity: the Gospel and the Pythia agree.

May your kingdom come. — The kingdom of God is eternal, says Scripture; it does not fall in time. The proposition can therefore still only concern man, a progressive being, capable of advancing indefinitely in Justice, for whom the reign of God is nothing other than the exaltation of his own essence, and the development of his freedom. God, in this kingdom, has nothing to do.

May your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. — The will of the Almighty cannot encounter any obstacle: taken in the rigor of the term, prayer would be an impertinence. On the other hand, the assimilation of the earth to the heavens is no better understood, unless the earth is taken in a figurative sense, as we saw earlier that heaven was itself taken. Let us suppose then that it is a question of the will of the just soul, a will beyond reproach like that of God, who is its figure; the thought, which just now seemed devoid of meaning, becomes sublime. May your will, O my soul, be accomplished in the lower region of my consciousness, as it occurs in the heights of my understanding! I see the good and I approve of it, says the poet, video meliora proboque; why must I follow evil? deteriora sequor! Is it chance that formed in the Pater, on the one hand, this incoherent series of unintelligible thoughts; on the other, this marvelous chain of moral, as well as rational, interpretations?

Give us today our daily bread. — The human species, bent under sin, is a beggar: that is its whole argument in favor of Providence. But it is impossible, with the most robust faith, to admit a divinity occupied with these daily cares. God has established, from eternity and for eternity, the order of the world; he does not change it according to our desires, nor according to our merit or our demerit. We are falling therefore more and more into anthropomorphism, which is inadmissible to the orthodox faith. But this doubling, today and daily, that is to say from day to day, gradually, so shocking when addressed to God, the absolute Being, is high philosophy when applied to the being who passes, to humanity. It signifies, referring to previous propositions, that if the moral (divine) order, considered as a whole, is regulated according to eternity, in application it is only realized according to time. Give me today my daily bread, that is to say let me know today, and in all the circumstances of my life, what I have to do to obey the eternal order. Doesn’t Christ say that he is the bread of life? It is the law of labor for individuals, of transition for societies, the most disciplinary, the most moral of all laws.

And forgive us our debts. — What account between God and man? What tenancy agreement passed between the finite and the infinite, the necessary and the contingent, the absolute and the relative? Where is this contract written? Who wrote the articles? Who signed it for me? Who will settle the parts? What royalty is stipulated between the author of things and his tenant? I do not claim the eminent domain of this land that I plow while soaking it with my sweat: the nature that cast me there, and the labor of which it makes a law for me, are my only titles. But I don’t know the owner… This first phrase is unintelligible: let us see what happens next.

As we forgive our debtors . — The correlation is obvious. Thus my relationship with God is established because of my relationship with my fellow men. As I will have done to them, he will do to me. For the second time the order from above is declared to be the counterpart of that from below, but with this difference, that just now it was my will that had to be regulated by that of its God, its model, sicut in coelo and in terra; and that now it is the will of this God that announces that he must act according to mine. Who will explain this riddle to us?

Stick to the literal, and I challenge you to find the key. Return to the tropic sense, and you will bow once more. The praying soul exhorts itself to good through the contemplation of its essential beauty; but at the same time it recognizes that it is subject to failing in the daily struggles of animal life. How will it recover from its falls? Through love. There is no justification for the man who does not love, that is to say who does not forgive, for it is all one; he who does not seek at the same time the realization of Justice in himself and in his brothers. Such a man is not a saint; he is a hypocrite, an apostate. Save yourselves by charity; this word of the Gospel, put into song, is the principle of the new Justice, which achieves purification through forgiveness, contrary to the Justice of ancient times, which knew only how to hate and take revenge.

And do not let us fall into temptation, but deliver us… — This needs no further comment. That the feeling of our celestial beauty sweeps us away from the tyranny of inferior attractions: that is the meaning. It is a resumption of the first sentences of the Prayer, a ritornello in the style of the religious antiphons, and according to the rules of Hebrew versification. Theologians have built on this their theory of efficacious grace, without which man cannot do good or recover from his falls, but which never fails those who ask for it: absurd literalism, destructive of all morality, like any philosophy,

From Evil. — At the last word, the allegory shows itself uncovered. As the virtuous ideality has been personified under the name of Father, the contrary ideality is personified as the Evil One. One of the two personifications carries the other; and the prayer, going from thesis to the antithesis, but always remaining on the ground of allegory, ends as it began. Christians, following the example of the Magi, made sin a real being, created according to some, uncreated according to others, the irreconcilable enemy of the Father, all of whose faculties, passions and enjoyments are for evil, like those of the Father. are for the good. It made sense. Whoever affirms God, affirms the Devil; but as the century no longer believes in the devil, and as the Church herself seems to be ashamed of it, I will be allowed to say in my turn that whoever denies the devil denies God, at least as preceptor, model and judge of our morality: as on all the rest I abandon it.

Amen. — A Hebrew word meaning truly. What! Truly, this string of mystagogical, incomprehensible ideas, I speak of the Lord’s Prayer according to theChristian interpretation; this apocalypse, this gibberish, that would be the summary of my faith, the rule of my reason, the support of my virtue, the pledge of my immortality! O Father, who art in heaven! Truly, if I were a Christian, I would recite to you seven times a day the prayer that Christ, your putative son, taught us, only to obtain from you the understanding of it.

XII. — You who give confirmation to Christians, Monsignor, you know your Pater, no doubt; but, have you ever understood anything?

An appeal to sovereign perfection, an act of submission to the eternal order, of devotion to Justice, of faith in its reign, of moderation in desires, of regret for faults committed, of charity towards one’s neighbor; recognition of free will, invocation to virtue, anathema to vice, affirmation of truth: the morality of forty centuries is summed up in these humble and moving words, which Christian tradition attributes to its Man-god.

What pains appeased, courage strengthened, resentments vanquished, doubts vanished, by the recitation of this prayer, more accessible to hearts than to minds! When the poor, debased, lazy liar approaches us, prayer on their lips, such is the grace of this truly evangelical word that we feel drawn, despite ourselves, to alms. Pater noster!… Alas! with the exception of a few privileged scholars, this is all the people know of their rights and duties. After the Decalogue and the Dominical Prayer, nothing. Thirty-four lines in thirty-four centuries! Tell me, Monsignor, what are the priesthoods for?

Taken in the literal sense, as the Church does, the Lord’s Prayer is only a web of silly, contradictory, even immoral and impious ideas. One can extract from it a dozen heresies, condemned by the Holy See; and it is perhaps by relying on the Pater, understood in the manner of priests, that Jérôme Lalande concludes that its author was an atheist.

But penetrate below the letter, always absurd when it is a question of prayer, and this same prayer will seem to you to have an incomparable morality and rationality.

Father! — Father of whom, father of what? Does the Christian God engender in the manner of Jupiter, whom Homer rightly calls father of men and gods? This interpretation cannot be accepted. Should we take the thing in the psychic sense, and say that the soul, an emanation of the divinity, here affirms its celestial origin? But the generation of souls by the Most High is no more understandable, does not appear to be better established than that of bodies; moreover, the theory of emanation has been condemned by the Church, and I do not believe that philosophy dreams of restoring it to honor. Will it be said that Father here has the meaning of Creator? The idea, indeed, is orthodox; but there is no doubt that the religious soul, in speaking to his Father, means only that this father is also the author of everything. The Creator therefore does not explain the Father; and the continuation of the speech, the obvious intention of the text, demands more. What remains, if not to take the name of Father as a synonym of Sovereign, patron, master and, at the same time, model, according to what Scripture says elsewhere, Be holy as I am holy; steward and purveyor of the soul and of society? Now, who is this father, protector and prototype of the soul that prays to him? According to the Church, it is God, a being apart, whom we assume to be all good, all wise and all-powerful, in whose image we are created, who is alone capable of understanding us and granting our desires. I maintain that this Father is nothing other than the soul itself, enlarged in its own eyes by the conception of the social idea or of Justice, elevated by this conception of right to be the equal of society itself, which, unable at first to recognize itself with this sublime character, calls out to itself under a cabalistic name, and prompts itself to virtue through the contemplation of its ideal. To say, after that, that it conceives of this Father as the creator of nature, amounts to saying that having attained through Justice the feeling of the infinite, positing itself as infinite, it brings into this infinity every cause, every idea, every power, every life, because the infinite must include everything, and infinity is one.

Who is in heaven. — Someone in the heavens! The Jew, who made the heavens of metal, and lodged there as in a palace his Jehovah, could believe it; the first-century pagans and Christians as well. Nowadays, this material localization is impossible. Heaven is everywhere and nowhere; it is literally nonsense. It is therefore necessary to resort again to the figure: heaven is the summit of creation, the highest point of Olympus with several summits, as Homer says, Ἀϰροτάτη ϰορύφη πολυδείραδος Οὸλυμποιο, all that is highest in the united kingdoms of nature. Father who is in heaven, this therefore means: Sovereign essence, source of all Justice, elevated above all creatures!… It is God, you will say again. You go quickly in interpretation, and you settle for very little. The soul can only believe, know and affirm what it feels or experiences; and the only thing of which it has any feeling here is itself; it is its self, which nothing equals in the visible world, and which it discovers through the telescope of transcendental contemplation. The soul acts here like the child who, learning to speak, before saying me, designates himself in the third person: will you conclude, on the naive word of this child, that he is double?…

Hallowed be thy name. — The name, according to the energy of the oriental style, is the same thing as the definition, that is to say the essence. Now, to whom can the vow of sanctification be appropriate here? To God? It is impossible. God, despite all blasphemy and all idolatry, is inviolable. The soul therefore thinks in reality otherwise than it expresses itself; and when it says to its Father: Hallowed be thy name, it is as if it said to itself: Through the contemplation of my pure essence, let me sanctify myself and make myself more and more like myself, like my type, like my ideal! It is, in other words, what the oracle of Delphi recommended, with less emphasis, to the pious man, when he said to him: Know thyself. Whatever violence we do to words, we are no longer in heaven; the sanctificetur makes us descend into humanity: the Gospel and the Pythia agree.

May your kingdom come. — The kingdom of God is eternal, says Scripture; it does not fall in time. The proposition can therefore still only concern man, a progressive being, capable of advancing indefinitely in Justice, for whom the reign of God is nothing other than the exaltation of his own essence, and the development of his freedom. God, in this kingdom, has nothing to do.

May your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. — The will of the Almighty cannot encounter any obstacle: taken in the rigor of the term, prayer would be an impertinence. On the other hand, the assimilation of the earth to the heavens is no better understood, unless the earth is taken in a figurative sense, as we saw earlier that heaven was itself taken. Let us suppose then that it is a question of the will of the just soul, a will beyond reproach like that of God, who is its figure; the thought, which just now seemed devoid of meaning, becomes sublime. May your will, O my soul, be accomplished in the lower region of my consciousness, as it occurs in the heights of my understanding! I see the good and I approve of it, says the poet, video meliora proboque; why must I follow evil? deteriora sequor! Is it chance that formed in the Pater, on the one hand, this incoherent series of unintelligible thoughts; on the other, this marvelous chain of moral, as well as rational, interpretations?

Give us today our daily bread. — The human species, bent under sin, is a beggar: that is its whole argument in favor of Providence. But it is impossible, with the most robust faith, to admit a divinity occupied with these daily cares. God has established, from eternity and for eternity, the order of the world; he does not change it according to our desires, nor according to our merit or our demerit. We are falling therefore more and more into anthropomorphism, which is inadmissible to the orthodox faith. But this doubling, today and daily, that is to say from day to day, gradually, so shocking when addressed to God, the absolute Being, is high philosophy when applied to the being who passes, to humanity. It signifies, referring to previous propositions, that if the moral (divine) order, considered as a whole, is regulated according to eternity, in application it is only realized according to time. Give me today my daily bread, that is to say let me know today, and in all the circumstances of my life, what I have to do to obey the eternal order. Doesn’t Christ say that he is the bread of life? It is the law of labor for individuals, of transition for societies, the most disciplinary, the most moral of all laws.

And forgive us our debts. — What account between God and man? What tenancy agreement passed between the finite and the infinite, the necessary and the contingent, the absolute and the relative? Where is this contract written? Who wrote the articles? Who signed it for me? Who will settle the parts? What royalty is stipulated between the author of things and his tenant? I do not claim the eminent domain of this land that I plow while soaking it with my sweat: the nature that cast me there, and the labor of which it makes a law for me, are my only titles. But I don’t know the owner… This first phrase is unintelligible: let us see what happens next.

As we forgive our debtors . — The correlation is obvious. Thus my relationship with God is established because of my relationship with my fellow men. As I will have done to them, he will do to me. For the second time the order from above is declared to be the counterpart of that from below, but with this difference, that just now it was my will that had to be regulated by that of its God, its model, sicut in coelo and in terra; and that now it is the will of this God that announces that he must act according to mine. Who will explain this riddle to us?

Stick to the literal, and I challenge you to find the key. Return to the tropic sense, and you will bow once more. The praying soul exhorts itself to good through the contemplation of its essential beauty; but at the same time it recognizes that it is subject to failing in the daily struggles of animal life. How will it recover from its falls? Through love. There is no justification for the man who does not love, that is to say who does not forgive, for it is all one; he who does not seek at the same time the realization of Justice in himself and in his brothers. Such a man is not a saint; he is a hypocrite, an apostate. Save yourselves by charity; this word of the Gospel, put into song, is the principle of the new Justice, which achieves purification through forgiveness, contrary to the Justice of ancient times, which knew only how to hate and take revenge.

And do not let us fall into temptation, but deliver us… — This needs no further comment. That the feeling of our celestial beauty sweeps us away from the tyranny of inferior attractions: that is the meaning. It is a resumption of the first sentences of the Prayer, a ritornello in the style of the religious antiphons, and according to the rules of Hebrew versification. Theologians have built on this their theory of efficacious grace, without which man cannot do good or recover from his falls, but which never fails those who ask for it: absurd literalism, destructive of all morality, like any philosophy,

From Evil. — At the last word, the allegory shows itself uncovered. As the virtuous ideality has been personified under the name of Father, the contrary ideality is personified as the Evil One. One of the two personifications carries the other; and the prayer, going from thesis to the antithesis, but always remaining on the ground of allegory, ends as it began. Christians, following the example of the Magi, made sin a real being, created according to some, uncreated according to others, the irreconcilable enemy of the Father, all of whose faculties, passions and enjoyments are for evil, like those of the Father. are for the good. It made sense. Whoever affirms God, affirms the Devil; but as the century no longer believes in the devil, and as the Church herself seems to be ashamed of it, I will be allowed to say in my turn that whoever denies the devil denies God, at least as preceptor, model and judge of our morality: as on all the rest I abandon it.

Amen. — A Hebrew word meaning truly. What! Truly, this string of mystagogical, incomprehensible ideas, I speak of the Lord’s Prayer according to theChristian interpretation; this apocalypse, this gibberish, that would be the summary of my faith, the rule of my reason, the support of my virtue, the pledge of my immortality! O Father, who art in heaven! Truly, if I were a Christian, I would recite to you seven times a day the prayer that Christ, your putative son, taught us, only to obtain from you the understanding of it.

XV

That the Pater is really of the composition of Jesus, as the compilers of the official Gospels wish; or that it should be seen only as an assemblage of formulas of prayer that have been current for a long time in the eucologes, as maintained by modern criticism, it matters little to my object. I look for the inspiration, not the style. Fifteen centuries later than the Decalogue in thought and date, it can be said that the Lord’s Prayer is fifteen centuries earlier in form.It is morality in myth, like the speech of the serpent to Eve and the sacrifice of Abraham. Between Moses making Jehovah speak like a Roman praetor on his tribunal, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, and Christ praying to his Father, there is as much distance as between the legends of Hercules, Perseus, Bellerophon, sung by poets, and the Peloponnesian War, told by Thucydides.

Is it then so difficult to understand that the man who prays to God is like the poet who invokes the muse, the latter appealing to his genius, the former to his conscience? Since old Homer, and probably long before Homer, we are no longer taken in by poetic fiction. Will we still be taken in much longer by priestly fictions? Our reason has certainly lost nothing by having begun to speak in prose. Are we afraid that our moral sense will succumb if we stop reciting paternosters?

When Sappho, in her ode to Venus, conjures the goddess of beauty to bring her unfaithful lover back to her, and she says to her: Fight with me; it is as if she were speaking to her own sex, whose invincible attraction is unknown in her person. When Hippocrates, in that magnificent oath which is like the hymn of medical conscience, invokes Hygieia, Aesculapius, all the divinities of medicine, it is as if he were swearing on his own life, whose mysterious powers make the object of his study. When Socrates recommends to his disciple Antisthenes to sacrifice to the Graces, it is as if he were saying to him: It is permissible for the philosopher to be poor; it is never permissible to be unpleasant and unclean. Would Christian worship be an exception to this series? But on what then do you establish the proof?

That the Pater is really of the composition of Jesus, as the compilers of the official Gospels wish; or that it should be seen only as an assemblage of formulas of prayer that have been current for a long time in the eucologes, as maintained by modern criticism, it matters little to my object. I look for the inspiration, not the style. Fifteen centuries later than the Decalogue in thought and date, it can be said that the Lord’s Prayer is fifteen centuries earlier in form.It is morality in myth, like the speech of the serpent to Eve and the sacrifice of Abraham. Between Moses making Jehovah speak like a Roman praetor on his tribunal, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, and Christ praying to his Father, there is as much distance as between the legends of Hercules, Perseus, Bellerophon, sung by poets, and the Peloponnesian War, told by Thucydides.

Is it then so difficult to understand that the man who prays to God is like the poet who invokes the muse, the latter appealing to his genius, the former to his conscience? Since old Homer, and probably long before Homer, we are no longer taken in by poetic fiction. Will we still be taken in much longer by priestly fictions? Our reason has certainly lost nothing by having begun to speak in prose. Are we afraid that our moral sense will succumb if we stop reciting paternosters?

When Sappho, in her ode to Venus, conjures the goddess of beauty to bring her unfaithful lover back to her, and she says to her: Fight with me; it is as if she were speaking to her own sex, whose invincible attraction is unknown in her person. When Hippocrates, in that magnificent oath which is like the hymn of medical conscience, invokes Hygieia, Aesculapius, all the divinities of medicine, it is as if he were swearing on his own life, whose mysterious powers make the object of his study. When Socrates recommends to his disciple Antisthenes to sacrifice to the Graces, it is as if he were saying to him: It is permissible for the philosopher to be poor; it is never permissible to be unpleasant and unclean. Would Christian worship be an exception to this series? But on what then do you establish the proof?

XVI

Everyone knows, along with the Pater, the program of Christian devotion: Credo, Confiteor, Benedicite, Gratias, Veni Creator, Veni Sancte, Sub tuum, Angelus, De Profundis, Gloria patri, the parish office, hours, visits, rosaries , etc. Well! There is not one of these mystical recitations, the substance of which is common to all cults, that does not serve as a cover for some moral thought, which reflection has given a glimpse of, but of which theology causes the trace to be lost.

Everyone has heard of holy water, blessed candles, blessed branches, holy oils, holy chrism, medals, scapulars, reliquaries, crosses and signs of the cross, genuflections, prostrations, elevations of the heart, ejaculatory prayers. At this time the Church is working to bring back into force the holidays and working days, fat and lean, marriageable and unmarriageable; Advents, Lents, novenas, vigils or vigils, tomorrows and octaves. As for the fasts, cilices, disciplines, abstinences, vows in time or perpetual, they are no longer known except in the houses of profession. Well! Again, there is not one of these practices, of a fastidious or cruel devotion, that was not originally the symbol of some virtuous exercise, imagined to keep the soul in suspense, of which clerical materialism has not made, with time, an absurd superstition.

What has not been said for and against indulgences, a ridiculous conception, whichever way you take it, when you understand it in the sense of the Church; a sublime idea unworthily disguised, when we place ourselves in the point of view of the human soul, conceived as subject-object of all religion?

It is impossible for man to mingle with social life without receiving some defilement from it, and losing something of his innocence and justice. Is it necessary as a result to abstain, to go to the desert and live alone? It would be selfishness, and it is impossible. We must act, fight, support the struggle against evil, with as little failure as possible, no doubt, but at the risk of the saddest falls. Honor to those who have won, and forgiveness to the fallen! But shame on the Puritans who abstain and claim, after the battle, the right to berate their brothers and command them!… The first and greatest sacrifice that man owes to his fellows is that of his own holiness: let him receive, therefore, in advance, the absolution of his faults, provided, of course, that he neglects nothing in preserving himself from evil.

Tetzel dishonored indulgences; Luther, even more fanatical than Tetzel, misunderstood its mythology. Luther wanted to be more Christian than the pope; that’s saying enough. For me, in default of other wisdom, I would prefer Rabelais and pantagruelianism to the whole Reformation.

The persons least versed in the science of the Scriptures know today what the sacrament of the Eucharist was, in its institution: a fraternal meal, a commemoration, a commitment. Among all peoples, participation in the hearth, at the table, in bread, in salt, was the symbol of hospitality, and like the seal of this first contract. Of all the ceremonies of this kind, the most solemn was the immolation of a victim, whose flesh, offered to the gods, then eaten, seemed an embodiment of the oath. Moses, having given the law to the Israelites, immolates a victim, with whose blood he sprinkles the multitude. This is the blood of the covenant that Jehovah has made with you, he said to them; and by this sprinkling binds them to the law. Jesus, posing as a reformer of Mosaicism, uses a similar formula; instead of the flesh and blood of animals, he takes bread and wine: This, he says, lifting up the cup, is the blood of the new covenant. He deliberately employs the expressions of Moses, so that we can understand his thought better, and so that we do not misunderstand the metaphor; he goes so far as to explain that bread and wine, flesh and blood, are only matter, signs in themselves without value; that the true food on which the faithful should feed is the word, better than that, the idea, intelligible food of the soul. There is not a word in the four gospels that does not relate to this interpretation, and not one that presents the slightest difficulty.

But such a rationalism would have been the destruction of the messianic faith. Jesus dead, they began by making him a redeeming messiah; from this idea they passed to that of expiatory victim; as victim, he had to be eaten according to the ancient rite, according to which the victim offered for sin had to be eaten by the sinner: as if, in these bodies of Christians and Jews, Justice, morality, rehabilitation, could only have entered on condition of being eaten. And so will all consistent theism. Just as the idea of God, author and guarantor of Justice, implies that of the decay of man, it also implies the idea of sacraments: the sacrament of regeneration is baptism; the sacrament of expiation is penance; the sacrament of justification, by the communion or eating of God: it is the Eucharist. If God is the principle of our Justice, the father of our souls, the guardian of our consciences, the Eucharist is a truth. From there, this prodigious dogma of the transubstantiation, which we see emerging in Saint Paul, a fanatic who had not heard the master and was dogmatizing on his own account; which reached its perfection in the Council of Trent, and caused the Church and the Reformation to wander for two and a half centuries; hence, finally, that Eucharistic fetishism, for which the clergy reserves all its pomp, and which has not yet ceased to be an occasion of sacrilege, persecution and buffoonery.

I have spoken of this judgment of the court of Rouen that condemns a young man to six months in prison for unworthy communion. While I was at college, a pupil took it into his head to seal a letter with the host he had kept from his communion, and it seems that the same thing happened elsewhere more than once. This madman, whose name I could say, was punished much more severely than the one from Yvetot: he became a Jesuit! All this is nothing compared to that vicar who, unable to persuade a patient to receive the sacrament, administered it in spite of him, by infusing a host in his herbal tea. When will you blush, Christians, for all the blunders into which your superstition drives you?

Lou bon Due, ç’ost lou chaud; the good Lord is the sun, said an old wine-grower of eighty, who every Sunday, while the others were at mass, took his basket and went through the streets to pick up droppings, which he then carried to his vineyard. Few people in our country of Christianity have seen idolaters: I knew this one. But was he more so than the Council of Trent, transforming consecrated bread into God; more than Luther, putting his God in the bread; more than Calvin, claiming in his turn that God was only represented by the bread?…

Humanity produces its gods, as it produces its kings and nobles; it makes its theology, as well as its economy and its politics, by a sort of infatuation with itself: it is always the story of Nebuchadnezzar, who goes into ecstasies in his glory and ends up eating grass..

If a man, among the savages, has faithfully observed during his life the rites of the jugglers, respected the taboo, offered sacrifices on the prescribed days, assiduously recited his prayers, he is a saint; his soul is received in the abode of the blessed, while that of the impious is thrown into the dark abyss. The same belief reigns in India, in Tibet, in China, in countries subject to Islam, everywhere; it was that of all peoples formerly attached to polytheism, and Christianity has hardly added to it. Instead of seeing in this universality of superstition the scattered rays of a primitive revelation, is it not more judicious to grasp there the movement of the human soul, which, contemplating itself in the mirror of consciousness, first affirms itself as other, while waiting for analysis to teach him to recognize himself?

 

XIV. — Everyone knows, along with the Pater, the program of Christian devotion: Credo, Confiteor, Benedicite, Gratias, Veni Creator, Veni Sancte, Sub tuum, Angelus, De Profundis, Gloria patri, the parish office, hours, visits, rosaries , etc. Well! There is not one of these mystical recitations, the substance of which is common to all cults, that does not serve as a cover for some moral thought, which reflection has given a glimpse of, but of which theology causes the trace to be lost.

Everyone has heard of holy water, blessed candles, blessed branches, holy oils, holy chrism, medals, scapulars, reliquaries, crosses and signs of the cross, genuflections, prostrations, elevations of the heart, ejaculatory prayers. At this time the Church is working to bring back into force the holidays and working days, fat and lean, marriageable and unmarriageable; Advents, Lents, novenas, vigils or vigils, tomorrows and octaves. As for the fasts, cilices, disciplines, abstinences, vows in time or perpetual, they are no longer known except in the houses of profession. Well! Again, there is not one of these practices, of a fastidious or cruel devotion, that was not originally the symbol of some virtuous exercise, imagined to keep the soul in suspense, of which clerical materialism has not made, with time, an absurd superstition.

What has not been said for and against indulgences, a ridiculous conception, whichever way you take it, when you understand it in the sense of the Church; a sublime idea unworthily disguised, when we place ourselves in the point of view of the human soul, conceived as subject-object of all religion?

It is impossible for man to mingle with social life without receiving some defilement from it, and losing something of his innocence and justice. Is it necessary as a result to abstain, to go to the desert and live alone? It would be selfishness, and it is impossible. We must act, fight, support the struggle against evil, with as little failure as possible, no doubt, but at the risk of the saddest falls. Honor to those who have won, and forgiveness to the fallen! But shame on the Puritans who abstain and claim, after the battle, the right to berate their brothers and command them!… The first and greatest sacrifice that man owes to his fellows is that of his own holiness: let him receive, therefore, in advance, the absolution of his faults, provided, of course, that he neglects nothing in preserving himself from evil.

Tetzel dishonored indulgences; Luther, even more fanatical than Tetzel, misunderstood its mythology. Luther wanted to be more Christian than the pope; that’s saying enough. For me, in default of other wisdom, I would prefer Rabelais and pantagruelianism to the whole Reformation.

The persons least versed in the science of the Scriptures know today what the sacrament of the Eucharist was, in its institution: a fraternal meal, a commemoration, a commitment. Among all peoples, participation in the hearth, at the table, in bread, in salt, was the symbol of hospitality, and like the seal of this first contract. Of all the ceremonies of this kind, the most solemn was the immolation of a victim, whose flesh, offered to the gods, then eaten, seemed an embodiment of the oath. Moses, having given the law to the Israelites, immolates a victim, with whose blood he sprinkles the multitude. This is the blood of the covenant that Jehovah has made with you, he said to them; and by this sprinkling binds them to the law. Jesus, posing as a reformer of Mosaicism, uses a similar formula; instead of the flesh and blood of animals, he takes bread and wine: This, he says, lifting up the cup, is the blood of the new covenant. He deliberately employs the expressions of Moses, so that we can understand his thought better, and so that we do not misunderstand the metaphor; he goes so far as to explain that bread and wine, flesh and blood, are only matter, signs in themselves without value; that the true food on which the faithful should feed is the word, better than that, the idea, intelligible food of the soul. There is not a word in the four gospels that does not relate to this interpretation, and not one that presents the slightest difficulty.

But such a rationalism would have been the destruction of the messianic faith. Jesus dead, they began by making him a redeeming messiah; from this idea they passed to that of expiatory victim; as victim, he had to be eaten according to the ancient rite, according to which the victim offered for sin had to be eaten by the sinner: as if, in these bodies of Christians and Jews, Justice, morality, rehabilitation, could only have entered on condition of being eaten. And so will all consistent theism. Just as the idea of God, author and guarantor of Justice, implies that of the decay of man, it also implies the idea of sacraments: the sacrament of regeneration is baptism; the sacrament of expiation is penance; the sacrament of justification, by the communion or eating of God: it is the Eucharist. If God is the principle of our Justice, the father of our souls, the guardian of our consciences, the Eucharist is a truth. From there, this prodigious dogma of the transubstantiation, which we see emerging in Saint Paul, a fanatic who had not heard the master and was dogmatizing on his own account; which reached its perfection in the Council of Trent, and caused the Church and the Reformation to wander for two and a half centuries; hence, finally, that Eucharistic fetishism, for which the clergy reserves all its pomp, and which has not yet ceased to be an occasion of sacrilege, persecution and buffoonery.

I have spoken of this judgment of the court of Rouen that condemns a young man to six months in prison for unworthy communion. While I was at college, a pupil took it into his head to seal a letter with the host he had kept from his communion, and it seems that the same thing happened elsewhere more than once. This madman, whose name I could say, was punished much more severely than the one from Yvetot: he became a Jesuit! All this is nothing compared to that vicar who, unable to persuade a patient to receive the sacrament, administered it in spite of him, by infusing a host in his herbal tea. When will you blush, Christians, for all the blunders into which your superstition drives you?

Lou bon Due ç’ost lou chaud; the good Lord is the sun, said an old wine-grower of eighty, who every Sunday, while the others were at mass, took his basket and went through the streets to pick up droppings, which he then carried to his vineyard. Few people in our country of Christianity have seen idolaters: I knew this one. But was he more so than the Council of Trent, transforming consecrated bread into God; more than Luther, putting his God in the bread; more than Calvin, claiming in his turn that God was only represented by the bread?…

Humanity produces its gods, as it produces its kings and nobles; it makes its theology, as well as its economy and its politics, by a sort of infatuation with itself: it is always the story of Nebuchadnezzar, who goes into ecstasies in his glory and ends up eating grass..

If a man, among the savages, has faithfully observed during his life the rites of the jugglers, respected the taboo, offered sacrifices on the prescribed days, assiduously recited his prayers, he is a saint; his soul is received in the abode of the blessed, while that of the impious is thrown into the dark abyss. The same belief reigns in India, in Tibet, in China, in countries subject to Islam, everywhere; it was that of all peoples formerly attached to polytheism, and Christianity has hardly added to it. Instead of seeing in this universality of superstition the scattered rays of a primitive revelation, is it not more judicious to grasp there the movement of the human soul, which, contemplating itself in the mirror of consciousness, first affirms itself as other, while waiting for analysis to teach him to recognize himself?

XVII

I conclude: religion, whatever its god, spirit or fetish; whatever the dogma, theism or pantheism, vitalism or socialism, resolving itself into a mythology of thought, divides conscience: consequently it destroys morality, by substituting for the positive notion of Justice a notion that is subintroduced and illegitimate.

There would be only one case in which religion could be an exception to this rule, and that would be when it had conscience itself as its symbol or divinity, or, to put it better, Justice, in the abstract ideality of its notion; but then religion would be identical with Justice, which destroys the hypothesis.

This is why Christianity, whose God is taken as something other than consciousness, although he is a representation of consciousness; which, consequently, constitutes in us a double consciousness, the natural consciousness and the theological consciousness, possesses, in matters of morality, only the rudiments of truth, plus a symbolism or semiology, that is to say an affirmation figurative of Justice and Morality; but of true morality, none. The science of mores and the efficacy of the moral sense can be born only by the cessation of the myth, by the return of the soul to itself, which is, properly speaking, the end of the reign of God.

Thus man, insofar as he obeys his reason known as such, is moral; and he will become all the more so as, his reason extending more each day, he embraces its law with a more virile courage. His maxim of virtue is: Works without faith.

But insofar as the man follows his religious vision taken as a superior commandment, I say that he is immoral; and, as he can no more stop in fable than in truth, his immorality will be all the more profound as he serves his idol with a more complete abandonment of himself, with a more entire religion. The last word of his piety will be thus: Faith without works.

Duplicity of conscience, that is to say the annihilation of conscience, such is the fatal pitfall of any church, of any religion. What is called party spirit, spirit of sect, of caste, of corporation, of school, of system, as well as the theological spirit, leads there…

Now, conscience destroyed, Justice, the occasional cause of theological reason, damaged, religion vanishes in its turn and gives way to atheism, no longer that scientific atheism that consists, in the interest of truth and Justice, in eliminating from consciousness any consideration of the supernatural order; but this atheism, the father of crime, peculiar to subjects who have been taught that religion is the whole of morality and who, having worn out their faith, pass without hesitation from scorn for their idol to scorn for humanity.

I will not seek in the minor seminaries, the sacred hearts and other houses of education for both sexes directed by the clergy, examples in support of my thesis. Everyone knows what becomes of these runts of the Christian pedagogy, when, the time of generous outbreaks past, the failure of faith delivers them defenseless to the flames of immorality. But isn’t modern society, so hypocritical, so cowardly, so desperate, a daughter of the Church? Were not our fathers brought up by her according to the principles of this sacred prophylaxis? And haven’t we also, for a century, through criticism, science, liberty, exhausted what fervor we had? Now, now that indifference has invaded us all, is it not true that a universal corruption devours us, corruption of the mind, corruption of the heart, corruption of the senses; vices which a once pious imagination alone could invent, and which the world, without religion, without the ideal which is its essence, would never have known?…

XV. — I conclude: religion, whatever its god, spirit or fetish; whatever the dogma, theism or pantheism, vitalism or socialism, resolving itself into a mythology of thought, divides conscience: consequently it destroys morality, by substituting for the positive notion of Justice a notion that is subintroduced and illegitimate.

There would be only one case in which religion could be an exception to this rule, and that would be when it had conscience itself as its symbol or divinity, or, to put it better, Justice, in the abstract ideality of its notion; but then religion would be identical with Justice, which destroys the hypothesis.

This is why Christianity, whose God is taken as something other than consciousness, although he is a representation of consciousness; which, consequently, constitutes in us a double consciousness, the natural consciousness and the theological consciousness, possesses, in matters of morality, only the rudiments of truth, plus a symbolism or semiology, that is to say an affirmation figurative of Justice and Morality; but of true morality, none. The science of mores and the efficacy of the moral sense can be born only by the cessation of the myth, by the return of the soul to itself, which is, properly speaking, the end of the reign of God.

Thus man, insofar as he obeys his reason known as such, is moral; and he will become all the more so as, his reason extending more each day, he embraces its law with a more virile courage. His maxim of virtue is: Works without faith.

But insofar as the man follows his religious vision taken as a superior commandment, I say that he is immoral; and, as he can no more stop in fable than in truth, his immorality will be all the more profound as he serves his idol with a more complete abandonment of himself, with a more entire religion. The last word of his piety will be thus: Faith without works.

Duplicity of conscience, that is to say the annihilation of conscience, such is the fatal pitfall of any church, of any religion. What is called party spirit, spirit of sect, of caste, of corporation, of school, of system, as well as the theological spirit, leads there.

Now, conscience destroyed, Justice, the occasional cause of theological reason, damaged, religion vanishes in its turn and gives way to atheism, no longer that scientific atheism that consists, in the interest of truth and Justice, in eliminating from consciousness any consideration of the supernatural order; but this atheism, the father of crime, peculiar to subjects who have been taught that religion is the whole of morality and who, having worn out their faith, pass without hesitation from scorn for their idol to scorn for humanity.

I will not seek in the minor seminaries, the sacred hearts and other houses of education for both sexes directed by the clergy, examples in support of my thesis. Everyone knows what becomes of these runts of the Christian pedagogy, when, the time of generous outbreaks past, the failure of faith delivers them defenseless to the flames of immorality. But isn’t modern society, so hypocritical, so cowardly, so desperate, a daughter of the Church? Were not our fathers brought up by her according to the principles of this sacred prophylaxis? And haven’t we also, for a century, through criticism, science, liberty, exhausted what fervor we had? Now, now that indifference has invaded us all, is it not true that an incurable corruption devours us, corruption of the heart and corruption of the senses; vices that a once pious imagination alone could invent, and which the world, without religion, without the ideal that is its essence, would never have known?

XVIII

Religion and Justice are between them like the two extremities of the pendulum: when one rises, the other descends; this is inevitable. Do not cry at the paradox: it is the purest of the doctrine of the mystics and ascetics that I have just summarized in this image.

It is not enough for the perfect to strive for the possession of God by the uselessness of his life and the annihilation of his will; he must prove his love by the annihilation of his own Justice, a false light, according to him, incapable of enlightening him on the way to holiness and beatitude. As he is dead to the world, to philosophy, to pleasure, to pride, the perfect must still die to consciousness; he would be unworthy of heaven, his virtue would stain the Divinity, if he preserved the least ray that was not of it. Thus, between the reprobate whom divine Justice delivers to hell and the chosen one welcomed by Mercy there is, from the point of view of morality, no difference: both have equally arrived, one by sacrifice, the other by impiety, the latter for glory, the former for shame, to moral stripping, to the nothingness of conscience.

Doubtless as long as the baptized, the redeemed, the confessed, the communicated, the confirmed preserve the faith, one can hope that he will do evil only halfway: for, as for true Justice, in the faithful there is none. But what will happen presently, if this chosen vessel lacks perseverance? Faith having passed away, Justice will return no more; and we will have in a living being what all human malice would be unable by itself to produce, an entirely gangrenous, rotten soul.

The absolute extinction of the moral sense, impossible in the man whom religion has not exhausted, is the proper evil of the devout; it is the plague of the priesthood. It is only among priests and pontiffs that these monsters are found in whom the reasoned practice of crime is an effect of atheism, itself an effect of double consciousness. The dreadful times of Alexander VI and Leo X are over: the Revolution separates us from them forever. Thanks to her, the purified Church will not return to these customs of Sodom. But let the Revolution weaken and, as the daily revelations of the Assize Courts say only too well, we would soon see multiply again that clergy, of every rank and every order, that religion, first embraced with exstasy and then lost without return, has broken in defiance of all social law, and for whom the exploitation of the multitude, the pleasures of the belly, rape, incest, adultery, pederasty, take the place of sacraments and mysteries. The secret of the Society of Jesus, disguised under its famous motto, Ad majorent Dei gloriam, has always seemed to me to be a pact of tyranny and debauchery, based on popular superstition and priestly atheism. That I am wrong is the most ardent of my wishes, although the events that are happening at the moment in Belgium are not such as to make me reverse my judgment. The priest who believes in virtue through religion can always, as long as he believes, become a citizen and a just man; the priest whom impiety has rendered immoral is below punishment: all that remains is to suffocate him in the manure.

This sad end of religious education seems to have been foreseen by the apostles of Christianity themselves; something told them that faith is the tomb of morality. Hence the fiery dispute that arose between Peter, James and John, on the one hand, and Paul, the enlightened man of Damascus, on the other, over the preponderance of Faith and Justice. The first three, immediate disciples of Christ, witnesses of his invectives against Pharisaical hypocrisy, made good works all of religion; the apostle of the Gentiles, stronger in dialectics, maintained that faith alone gave virtue to good works and, taking his adversaries by their own maxims, he showed them that it was necessary either to abandon the law of Christ, and even of God, as useless or to recognize with him that man justified himself only by grace, and that the first act of the Christian was to die to his own virtue. All of us who have received the baptism of Christ, he said, have buried ourselves with him; our baptism is the mortuary act of our soul: Quicumque baptizati sumus in Christo, consepulti sumus cum illo per baptismum in mortem. This is sung throughout the Church, on Easter Sunday, at the procession to the baptismal font: the Church attesting by this ceremony that she has agreed with Paul’s opinion, according to which man does not become a child of God except by renouncing his conscience.

XVI. — Religion and Justice are between them like the two extremities of the pendulum: when one rises, the other descends; this is inevitable. Do not cry at the paradox: it is the purest of the doctrine of the mystics and ascetics that I have just summarized in this image.

It is not enough for the perfect to strive for the possession of God by the uselessness of his life and the annihilation of his will; he must prove his love by the annihilation of his own Justice, a false light, according to him, incapable of enlightening him on the way to holiness and beatitude. As he is dead to the world, to philosophy, to pleasure, to pride, the perfect must still die to consciousness; he would be unworthy of heaven, his virtue would stain the Divinity, if he preserved the least ray that was not of it. Thus, between the reprobate whom divine Justice delivers to hell and the chosen one welcomed by Mercy there is, from the point of view of morality, no difference: both have equally arrived, one by sacrifice, the other by impiety, the latter for glory, the former for shame, to moral stripping, to the nothingness of conscience.

Doubtless as long as the baptized, the redeemed, the confessed, the communicated, the confirmed preserve the faith, one can hope that he will do evil only halfway: for, as for true Justice, in the faithful there is none. But what will happen presently, if this chosen vessel lacks perseverance? Faith having passed away, Justice will return no more; and we will have in a living being what all human malice would be unable by itself to produce, an entirely gangrenous, rotten soul.

The absolute extinction of the moral sense, impossible in the man whom religion has not exhausted, is the proper evil of the devout; it is the plague of the priesthood. It is only among priests and pontiffs that these monsters are found in whom the reasoned practice of crime is an effect of atheism, itself an effect of double consciousness. The dreadful times of Alexander VI and Leo X are over: the Revolution separates us from them forever. Thanks to her, the purified Church will not return to these customs of Sodom. But let the Revolution weaken and, as the daily revelations of the Assize Courts say only too well, we would soon see multiply again that clergy, of every rank and every order, that religion, first embraced with exstasy and then lost without return, has broken in defiance of all social law, and for whom the exploitation of the multitude, the pleasures of the belly, rape, incest, adultery, pederasty, take the place of sacraments and mysteries. The secret of the Society of Jesus, disguised under its famous motto, Ad majorent Dei gloriam, has always seemed to me to be a pact of tyranny and debauchery, based on popular superstition and priestly atheism. (C) That I am wrong is the most ardent of my wishes, although the events that are happening at the moment in Belgium are not such as to make me reverse my judgment. The priest who believes in virtue through religion can always, as long as he believes, become a citizen and a just man; the priest whom impiety has rendered immoral is below punishment: all that remains is to suffocate him in the manure.

This sad end of religious education seems to have been foreseen by the apostles of Christianity themselves; something told them that faith is the tomb of morality. Hence the fiery dispute that arose between Peter, James and John, on the one hand, and Paul, the enlightened man of Damascus, on the other, over the preponderance of Faith and Justice. The first three, immediate disciples of Christ, witnesses of his invectives against Pharisaical hypocrisy, made good works all of religion; the apostle of the Gentiles, stronger in dialectics, maintained that faith alone gave virtue to good works and, taking his adversaries by their own maxims, he showed them that it was necessary either to abandon the law of Christ, and even of God, as useless or to recognize with him that man justified himself only by grace, and that the first act of the Christian was to die to his own virtue. All of us who have received the baptism of Christ, he said, have buried ourselves with him; our baptism is the mortuary act of our soul: Quicumque baptizati sumus in Christo, consepulti sumus cum illo per baptismum in mortem. This is sung throughout the Church, on Easter Sunday, at the procession to the baptismal font: the Church attesting by this ceremony that she has agreed with Paul’s opinion, according to which man does not become a child of God except by renouncing his conscience.

CHAPTER III.

Man before society. — Law of respect violated by ecclesiastical education.

XIX

Whoever desires the end desires the means.

Do we want to form citizens or subjects? Workers or paupers? Heroes or good men? We have two roads to follow. If education proceeds from double consciousness, its path will be servility and hypocrisy, and nothing but that; if it has Justice as its point of departure, without transcendental consideration, it will be liberty and virtue, and it cannot be anything else.

So which path will the Church take?

A society, as the Church can conceive it according to its dogma, requires individuals of various calibers: some cut out for servile and abject functions, which are naturally in greater number; others for average conditions; some for the command, administration, fortune. All of the rest must be fashioned in such a way that, in the absence of zeal, their interests, their prejudices, even their vices, contribute to the general aim.

Ecclesiastical education will therefore have as its object:

1. The teaching of worship, that is to say the creation in souls of a second consciousness, dominating the natural consciousness: I treated this point in the first part of this study;

2. The accommodation to the spirit of the Church of all so-called profane studies and, as far as possible, their suppression, the positive and frank character of these studies making them incompatible with piety and faith. It is of this, Monsignor, that I must speak with you now.

Let us begin with primary education.

CHAPTER III.

Man before society. — Law of respect violated by ecclesiastical education.

XVII. — Whoever desires the end desires the means.

Do we want to form citizens or subjects? Workers or paupers? Heroes or good men? We have two roads to follow. If education proceeds from double consciousness, its path will be servility and hypocrisy, and none other; if it has Justice as its point of departure, without transcendental consideration, it will advance by liberty and virtue, and it will run no risk of going astray.

So which path will the Church take?

A society, as the Church can conceive it according to its dogma, requires individuals of various calibers: some cut out for servile and abject functions, which are naturally in greater number; others for average conditions; some for the command, administration, fortune. All of the rest must be fashioned in such a way that, in the absence of zeal, their interests, their prejudices, even their vices, contribute to the general aim.

Ecclesiastical education will therefore have as its object:

1. The teaching of worship, that is to say the creation in souls of a second consciousness, dominating the natural consciousness: I treated this point in the first part of this study;

2. The accommodation to the spirit of the Church of all so-called profane studies and, as far as possible, their suppression, the positive and frank character of these studies making them incompatible with piety and faith. It is of this, Monsignor, that I must speak with you now.

Let us begin with primary education.

XX

Forty years ago, some friends of the people sought to introduce into France the method of mutual teaching, known as the Lancaster method. They understood that the elements of knowledge should not be limited to graphic signs; that in the child, as in the man, the reason cannot be split, and that with the reading, the writing, the grammar, the rules of the calculation, it was important to add some notions of practical philosophy, all the better received in that they reached the soul of the child without the help of the master, by contact alone of his classmates.

In this regard, I would say that I am far from granting as much importance as is generally done to what the school of Fourier called the blossoming and development of aptitudes, and which Christian pedagogy simply calls the search for a vocation. I do not deny that it is useful for everyone that the individual draws from his faculties and renders to his fellows the best possible service; but I think that, life being a fight, man a free being, it is for the fight that it is important to arm him; which will be done much less by the mind than by the character. It is therefore necessary that a man be prepared for all situations, and that he know how to show himself worthy and happy, if not triumphant, at the risk of being only an instrument in the hand of fate or, as the Christian says, of Providence.

M. de Lamartine writes in his Cours Familiar de Littérature, February 1857 issue:

“Perhaps I would have sung an epic poem if it had been the age of the epic. But who is doing what he could have done, in this world where everything is built against nature? It is not me. We dream of pyramids, and we sketch a few molehills. Nothing exists but fragments in our destiny, and we ourselves are only a trimming of these fragments: every man, however gifted he may appear to be, is but a truncated statue.”

M. de Lamartine was brought up by the Jesuits: that would be guessed from his style, even if he did not take care to teach it to us. What a poor citizen is he who curses his century because that century has not made him a Homer! Well! What prevented you, great failed man, from being a Cincinnatus? Wouldn’t that have been better for your glory and for the safety of the Republic?

“This method of teaching, I read, in connection with the mutual school, in an article in the Moniteur of January 30, 1853 by M. Rendu, very mediocre as regards instruction, is all-powerful for the education, as far as character is concerned. It is therefore the English system par excellence. As for me, said a teacher, I seek to cast iron in the souls of the children.”

Fifteen hundred mutual schools existed under the Restoration: all disappeared little by little, by the ordinance of April 8, 1824, which removed primary education from the University to give it to the bishops. I passed through this school, which had been established at Besançon by MM. Ordinaire: as Mr. Rendu remarks, the schoolchildren were not overwhelmed with lessons; none of them aspired to become president of a democracy or champion of an Iliad: they looked like little citizens.

Since 1824, the Ignorantines or Brothers of Christian Doctrine have invaded everything. I will say nothing of their teaching, where sacred history, the catechism, the exercises of piety, hold such a great place, where everything is subordinated to the meter of faith. Everyone knows that the year of first communion is lost for study; it is for the children of the people like a foretaste of conscription. But what we can affirm is that instead of this liberal and proud education promised by the method of Lancaster, the people receive, thanks to the Ignorantines, an education such as the Church and despotism demand. The child, who was held back by the censorship of his comrades, who was so happily stimulated by their suffrage, has no motive left but a precocious superstition, the fear of humiliation, even of blows. Whisks, sticks, kneepads, tortures of all kinds, such is the ecclesiastical discipline, for the school and for the convent. The priest likes to chastise, correct, punish, strike; affliction of the soul at the same time as of the body, by kneeling, imprisonment, ridicule. The mores of the century put a brake on this afflictive and infamous penitentiary; but let’s wait for the end.

“A judgment of the Court of Paris, handed down in 1838, notes that in the establishment of Saint-Nicolas, where more than three hundred children aged six to fifteen were brought together under Abbé Bervanger, the instruments of punishment were sharp-edged genouillères, and for more serious faults improved genouillères . The use of these genouillères was frequent, say the inspectors in their report.” (A.  Guillard, Elements of statistics.)

We haven’t forgotten the story of this dressed-up oaf who, in one of our establishments in Algeria, had students who had incurred a punishment tied to a horse’s tail.

The Church, which teaches so little, has nothing to do with characters. Its purpose, highly avowed, is dumbing down . Far from wanting to pour iron into the souls of children, she works to make a soft wax out of it. When the bishop Gaume, in his Ver rongeur, declaims against the classics, others, bolder, complete his thought and denounce reading. Science, they say, is bad for religion and order: what need are there for shepherds, farmhands, laborers to know how to read? The shepherd who looked after the cattle of the Roman nobility on the Apennines, the slave chained in the ergastula did not read. No one in the senate would have offered to show them letters, any more than to teach them arms. We know the saying of Pascal, the inventor of stupidity as a principle of religion: I do not find it good for the faith, he said, that we deepen the system of Copernicus. What Pascal said of astronomy can be applied to all kinds of books. We do not care that the people acquire reading habits; this is why we authorize the fewest possible newspapers, magazines, brochures, even when they are harmless and simply useful. There is talk of subjecting small literary journals to security and stamp duty. Against socialism, said M. Thiers, no doubt with more irony than hatred, I see only one remedy, war abroad and the suppression of the primary schools.

XVII. — Forty years ago, some friends of the people sought to introduce into France the method of mutual teaching, known as the Lancaster method. They understood that the elements of knowledge should not be limited to graphic signs; that in the child, as in the man, the reason cannot be split, and that with the reading, the writing, the grammar, the rules of the calculation, it was important to add some notions of practical philosophy, all the better received in that they reached the soul of the child without the help of the master, by contact alone of his classmates.

In this regard, I would say that I am far from granting as much importance as is generally done to what the school of Fourier called the blossoming and development of aptitudes, and which Christian pedagogy simply calls the search for a vocation. I do not deny that it is useful for everyone that the individual draws from his faculties and renders to his fellows the best possible service; but I think that, life being a fight, man a free being, it is for the fight that it is important to arm him; which will be done much less by the mind than by the character. It is therefore necessary that a man be prepared for all situations, and that he know how to show himself worthy and happy, if not triumphant, at the risk of being only an instrument in the hand of fate or, as the Christian says, of Providence.

M. de Lamartine writes in his Cours Familiar de Littérature, February 1857 issue:

“Perhaps I would have sung an epic poem if it had been the age of the epic. But who is doing what he could have done, in this world where everything is built against nature? It is not me. We dream of pyramids, and we sketch a few molehills. Nothing exists but fragments in our destiny, and we ourselves are only a trimming of these fragments: every man, however gifted he may appear to be, is but a truncated statue.”

M. de Lamartine was brought up by the Jesuits: that would be guessed from his style, even if he did not take care to teach it to us. What a poor citizen is he who curses his century because that century has not made him a Homer! Well! What prevented you, great failed man, from being a Cincinnatus? Wouldn’t that have been better for your glory and for the safety of the Republic?

“This method of teaching, I read, in connection with the mutual school, in an article in the Moniteur of January 30, 1853 by M. Rendu, very mediocre as regards instruction, is all-powerful for the education, as far as character is concerned. It is therefore the English system par excellence. As for me, said a teacher, I seek to cast iron in the souls of the children.”

Fifteen hundred mutual schools existed under the Restoration: all disappeared little by little, by the ordinance of April 8, 1824, which removed primary education from the University to give it to the bishops. I passed through this school, which had been established at Besançon by MM. Ordinaire: as Mr. Rendu remarks, the schoolchildren were not overwhelmed with lessons; none of them aspired to become president of a democracy or champion of an Iliad: they looked like little citizens.

Since 1824, the Ignorantines or Brothers of Christian Doctrine have invaded everything. I will say nothing of their teaching, where sacred history, the catechism, the exercises of piety, hold such a great place, where everything is subordinated to the meter of faith. Everyone knows that the year of first communion is lost for study; it is for the children of the people like a foretaste of conscription. But what we can affirm is that instead of this liberal and proud education promised by the method of Lancaster, the people receive, thanks to the Ignorantines, an education such as the Church and despotism demand. The child, who was held back by the censorship of his comrades, who was so happily stimulated by their suffrage, has no motive left but a precocious superstition, the fear of humiliation, even of blows. Whisks, sticks, genouillères, tortures of all kinds, such is the ecclesiastical discipline, for the school and for the convent. The priest likes to chastise, correct, punish, strike; affliction of the soul at the same time as of the body, by kneeling, imprisonment, ridicule. The mores of the century put a brake on this afflictive and infamous penitentiary; but let’s wait for the end.

“A judgment of the Court of Paris, handed down in 1838, notes that in the establishment of Saint-Nicolas, where more than three hundred children aged six to fifteen were brought together under Abbé Bervanger, the instruments of punishment were sharp-edged genouillères, and for more serious faults improved genouillères. The use of these genouillères was frequent, say the inspectors in their report.” (A.  Guillard, Elements of statistics.)

We haven’t forgotten the story of this dressed-up oaf who, in one of our establishments in Algeria, had students who had incurred a punishment tied to a horse’s tail.

The Church, which teaches so little, has nothing to do with characters. Its purpose, highly avowed, is dumbing down . Far from wanting to pour iron into the souls of children, she works to make a soft wax out of it. When the bishop Gaume, in his Ver rongeur, declaims against the classics, others, bolder, complete his thought and denounce reading. Science, they say, is bad for religion and order: what need are there for shepherds, farmhands, laborers to know how to read? The shepherd who looked after the cattle of the Roman nobility on the Apennines, the slave chained in the ergastula did not read. No one in the senate would have offered to show them letters, any more than to teach them arms. We know the saying of Pascal, the inventor of stupidity as a principle of religion: I do not find it good for the faith, he said, that we deepen the system of Copernicus. What Pascal said of astronomy can be applied to all kinds of books. We do not care that the people acquire reading habits; this is why we authorize the fewest possible newspapers, magazines, brochures, even when they are harmless and simply useful. There is talk of subjecting small literary journals to security and stamp duty. Against socialism, said M. Thiers, no doubt with more irony than hatred, I see only one remedy, war abroad and the suppression of the primary schools.

XXI

In a certain department that it is useless to name, and I don’t need to recount the era either, the prefect, being on tour, one day called together the mayors of an entire arrondissement. He congratulates them on the good performance of their fields and meadows, exhorts them to perseverance, and adds the following:

“By working well, my friends, you enrich yourselves, and, enriching yourselves, you serve the country and the State. Remain in your condition of laborers; guard yourselves, for your children, from the prestige of a useless science, proper at most to make ambitious and discontented men. A good farmer must know how to read and sign his contracts: more knowledge can only lead him to harm. It is the pretension to knowledge that makes the disturbers; that’s where so many oppositional people and revolutionaries come from. If among you there are such subjects, I urge you to let me know of them; I shall be able, in twenty-four hours, to rid your communes of them.”

The mayors look at each other, not knowing what to say. Finally, the most daring takes the floor; he thanks the prefect for his encouragement, of which he is proud:

“But,” he adds, “there is one point on which we cannot agree with you, Monsieur le Préfet, that of the education to be given to our children. Let me tell you the reasons.

“We cultivate better than our fathers did, we know that; but we also know that it is to the instruction they gave us that we are indebted. We therefore believe that, just as our fathers were right to want their sons to know more than they, we are not wrong ourselves to want our children to know more than us. The progress of our agriculture depends on it.

“You have noticed, Mr. Prefect, with what care our irrigation canals were built, our inheritances marked out, surrounded by ditches. However, we could not have carried out all this work if we did not have some notions of geometry, because it would be impossible for us to pay surveyors.

“You seem to fear that the education acquired will lead us to take a dislike to agriculture and to leave our fields. Think again, Mr. Prefect: it’s just the opposite that happens to us. We know how to appreciate our position and estimate at its true value the condition of the inhabitants of cities, and if we aspire to educate ourselves more, it is to attach ourselves ever more to our profession of laborers.

“As for the spirit of opposition that you dread, we are convinced, monsieur le préfet, that a large state is governed like a small one; and our habit is to put in our municipal administration a great deal of gentleness, conciliation, above all regularity, calling, moreover, everyone to the council. It’s the only way to make everyone happy, to avoid jealousies and hatred, and to live together as if we were just one family…”

Which of the two, the prefect or the peasant, do you think, Monseigneur, is the moral man and the statesman?

But what am I asking you? Your opinion is not in doubt: you are one of the principal agents of the organized persecution against science. In Franche-Comté, it is under your eyes and with your authorization that this happens, the priests search the schools, remove all the books they find incompatible with the spirit of the Church, or useless . Do you deny the fact, Monsignor?… One cites for me, among others, the arrondissement of Montbéliard, where country children are no longer received in schools after the age of fourteen. I heard it from a bourgeois friend of mine, prudent and circumspect in character, the most honest man in town… Elsewhere, a teacher assures me, it is forbidden to teach arithmetic in these primary schools; the monopoly of calculation is granted to the sons of the bourgeois. In Lombardy, under the protection of the Austrian sword, the bishops, bad citizens, but devoted to the emperor and to the holy see, do no worse. Protest then, archbishop, against these facts of which any Frenchman can draw up a list today; protest, I tell you, not only by a denial bearing your signature, your seal, and the countersignature of your Vicar General, but by a vigorous organization of education, in conformity with the rights of man and of the citizen.

It is also said that the young men of your college have great difficulty in obtaining their diplomas. It’s probably because the teachers give too much time in the Christian way, and not enough in the man’s way. I have known in my classes young people who have returned from the Jesuits, pretty little tartuffes, my goodness: they weren’t sixteen years old, they rolled their eyes and had taken on the trick of hypocrisy. One cannot belong to science and to salvation; and I doubt whether the handsome young men sent from Paris to Chartres for the procession of the Black Virgin will make heroes or geniuses.

“In the primary school,” says M. de Magnitot, “teaching must be directed in such a way as not to produce any change of class”

M. Blanc Saint-Bonnet formally asks, in order to accomplish the French Restoration, four things:

Unlimited liberty for the Church;

Limited liberty for all the rest of the nation;

Superior instruction for the aristocracy, on the condition that the Church gives it;

Ignorance for the commoners.

And to ensure the latter, he advises: 1. To operate a seizure in France of all the bad books; 2. To immediately  dismiss all primary teachers from the normal schools.

This is published in a fine little volume; and there is not a Christian who protests, a priest who disapproves, a journalist whose blood rushes to the brain, and who dares to call upon the authors of such outrages the thunderbolt of public reprobation!!!

XIX. — In a certain department that it is useless to name, and I don’t need to recount the era either, the prefect, being on tour, one day called together the mayors of an entire arrondissement. He congratulates them on the good performance of their fields and meadows, exhorts them to perseverance, and adds the following:

“By working well, my friends, you enrich yourselves, and, enriching yourselves, you serve the country and the State. Remain in your condition of laborers; guard yourselves, for your children, from the prestige of a useless science, proper at most to make ambitious and discontented men. A good farmer must know how to read and sign his contracts: more knowledge can only lead him to harm. It is the pretension to knowledge that makes the disturbers; that’s where so many oppositional people and revolutionaries come from. If among you there are such subjects, I urge you to let me know of them; I shall be able, in twenty-four hours, to rid your communes of them.”

The mayors look at each other, not knowing what to say. Finally, the most daring takes the floor; he thanks the prefect for his encouragement, of which he is proud:

“But,” he adds, “there is one point on which we cannot agree with you, Monsieur le Préfet, that of the education to be given to our children. Let me tell you the reasons.

“We cultivate better than our fathers did, we know that; but we also know that it is to the instruction they gave us that we are indebted. We therefore believe that, just as our fathers were right to want their sons to know more than they, we are not wrong ourselves to want our children to know more than us. The progress of our agriculture depends on it.

“You have noticed, Mr. Prefect, with what care our irrigation canals were built, our inheritances marked out, surrounded by ditches. However, we could not have carried out all this work if we did not have some notions of geometry, because it would be impossible for us to pay surveyors.

“You seem to fear that the education acquired will lead us to take a dislike to agriculture and to leave our fields. Think again, Mr. Prefect: it’s just the opposite that happens to us. We know how to appreciate our position and estimate at its true value the condition of the inhabitants of cities, and if we aspire to educate ourselves more, it is to attach ourselves ever more to our profession of laborers.

“As for the spirit of opposition that you dread, we are convinced, monsieur le préfet, that a large state is governed like a small one; and our habit is to put in our municipal administration a great deal of gentleness, conciliation, above all regularity, calling, moreover, everyone to the council. It’s the only way to make everyone happy, to avoid jealousies and hatred, and to live together as if we were just one family…”

Which of the two, the prefect or the peasant, do you think, Monseigneur, is the moral man and the statesman?

But what am I asking you? Your opinion is not in doubt: you are one of the principal agents of the organized persecution against science. In Franche-Comté, it is under your eyes and with your authorization that this happens, the priests search the schools, remove all the books they find incompatible with the spirit of the Church, or useless . Do you deny the fact, Monsignor?… One cites for me, among others, the arrondissement of Montbéliard, where country children are no longer received in schools after the age of fourteen. I heard it from a bourgeois friend of mine, prudent and circumspect in character, the most honest man in town… Elsewhere, a teacher assures me, it is forbidden to teach arithmetic in these primary schools; the monopoly of calculation is granted to the sons of the bourgeois. In Lombardy, under the protection of the Austrian sword, the bishops, bad citizens, but devoted to the emperor and to the holy see, do no worse. Protest then, archbishop, against these facts of which any Frenchman can draw up a list today; protest, I tell you, not only by a denial bearing your signature, your seal, and the countersignature of your Vicar General, but by a vigorous organization of education, in conformity with the rights of man and of the citizen.

It is also said that the young men of your college have great difficulty in obtaining their diplomas. It’s probably because the teachers give too much time in the Christian way, and not enough in the man’s way. I have known in my classes young people who have returned from the Jesuits, pretty little tartuffes, my goodness: they weren’t sixteen years old, they rolled their eyes and had taken on the trick of hypocrisy. One cannot belong to science and to salvation; and I doubt whether the handsome young men sent from Paris to Chartres for the procession of the Black Virgin will make heroes or geniuses.

“In the primary school,” says M. de Magnitot, “teaching must be directed in such a way as not to produce any change of class”

M. Blanc Saint-Bonnet formally asks, in order to accomplish the French Restoration, four things:

Unlimited liberty for the Church;

Limited liberty for all the rest of the nation;

Superior instruction for the aristocracy, on the condition that the Church gives it;

Ignorance for the commoners.

And to ensure the latter, he advises: 1. To operate a seizure in France of all the bad books; 2. To immediately  dismiss all primary teachers from the normal schools.

This is published in a fine little volume; and there is not a Christian who protests, a priest who disapproves, a journalist whose blood rushes to the brain, and who dares to call upon the authors of such outrages the thunderbolt of public reprobation!!!

XXII

 

Since the Church, through the organ of M. Blanc Saint-Bonnet, recognizes that a sum of instruction is indispensable, at least for aristocrats, we must see what this instruction granted by the Church to its predestined is.

Can you believe it? it is worse than the ignorance reserved for the poor. Here is the program, collected from a series of facts made more or less public and from official acts:

a) Elimination of philosophy and history courses.

b) Application of the progressive tax to studies. Imitated from the pontifical government.

“The University of Rome, says M. A. Guillard, is affordable only to lords. To be admitted, you must have an income of… scudi; the number escapes us, what does it matter? It is enough that the desire to learn be taxed and repressed as a need for luxury.”

c) Forbidding lay teachers to give individual lessons.

d) Recommendation to teachers of mathematics to confine themselves to the teaching of arithmetic, and to avoid philosophical considerations touching certainty and method. I collected the confession of a professor and the complaints of several students from the École polytechnique and the Conservatoire.

e) For greater security, establishment everywhere of ecclesiastical colleges, minor seminaries, religious institutions, in competition with the lyceums and in place of lay houses. According to the Almanach du Clergé de France for 1856, cited by the Siècle, the number of colleges, institutions and boarding schools owned by the French clergy, amounted, at the beginning of last year, to one hundred and sixty-six. not including the minor seminaries or ecclesiastical secondary schools, the major seminaries, the innumerable establishments directed by religious corporations, the schools held by the brothers of Christian doctrine. In the department of Saone-et-Loire alone there are, I have been assured, sixteen Jesuit establishments.

f) Dismissal of teachers suspected of philosophism. In Ghent, the University was suspended by the Pope until the expulsion of two professors designated as hostile to the Church and to the faith. But Belgium is a land of blessing. How marvelous that the Jesuits depose the philosophers, where they believe themselves strong enough to re-establish the mortmain! Among us, there will soon be no more philosophers in education; there will only be thurifers.

g) Emendation of history, according to the system of Loriquet.

h) Expurgation of the sciences, in accordance with the texts of the Bible.

i) Mutilation and distortion of authors. See in the Revue des Deux-Mondes, article by M. Cyprien Robert, professor at the College of France, in what way the Latin clergy devastated the monuments of Slavic literature, wherever they could reach them. And do not believe the Protestant devotion less subject to vandalism, where the interests of its faith seem compromised. A friend of mine, who visited Egypt, told me that the famous philologist Richard Lepsius, sent by His Majesty the King of Prussia to study the hieroglyphic monuments, never failed, after taking copies of the inscriptions, to break with blows of a hammer these venerable characters: a sure means of cutting short any subsequent discussion. The hieroglyphs could be used to confirm the statement of Manetho, who, assigning to Menes more than six thousand years of date, therefore carried him well beyond the deluge and the creation itself. Mr. Lepsius has rectified this chronology, and is not afraid that another will rectify his own. Unfortunately, the fraud is known, and Mr. Lepsius can boast of having worked, as we say on this side of the Rhine, for the King of Prussia.

j) Emendation of the classics; in certain small colleges, they are suppressed purely and simply, according to the system of Gaume.

k) Burning of books: there are societies for the repurchase of dangerous books, which are immediately delivered to the flames. The day will come when the public libraries will be sorted, and the works pointed out to religious vindictiveness will be pulped. Already, note has been taken at the Imperial Library of the nature of the books requested, for the communication of which readers are required to give their signature.

l) Censorship of booksellers: a bookseller, to whom a writer in distress offered his library, refused to buy Diderot, Voltaire, Volney, etc., saying that the sale of these authors was prohibited.

m) Policing of peddling: under the pretext of protecting morals, the circulation of any writing opposed to the system is prohibited. (See the circular of the Archbishop of Milan, December 25, 1855.)

n) Obligation for students and teachers to fulfill the duties of worship. In Péronne, the rector requires his subordinates to go to confession and celebrate Easter. Soon the teaching profession will be placed under the regime of primary school teachers, subject to general retreats, like the one that took place recently at Lons-le-Saulnier, from which they emerge, if not better, certainly exhausted in mind and body.

o) Forbidden to receive in the same schools pupils of different faiths. (See the circular of the Bishop of Arras, in the Presse of August 8, 1856.) Renewed means of Louis XIV, after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes: No dissidence, or no school.

p) Proscription of distinguished subjects, unless entire submissive to the Church. — Two students were refused in the contest for Normal School because of their unusual ability.

g) Formation of subjects devoted to the clergy to fill all the faculties, according to the vacancies, the functions of the teaching profession.

Moreover, the Church treats its shepherds like its sheep. I am told of a young ecclesiastic who was unable to obtain permission from his bishop to take his bachelor of science degree; for this he had to change dioceses.

To these means of prevention are added encouragement, I use the term honest, and, if encouragement is not enough, repression.

For the masters, there are promotions, cumulations, university privileges, classic monopolies, patents and pensions; — for students, diplomas, appointments, exemptions from military service, wealthy marriages, etc.

Everything is combined to make studies at once onerous, intolerable and insufficient. On the one hand, the professors complain of the lowering of public instruction; on the other, the students cry out against the excessive conditions imposed for obtaining diplomas. The youth of the schools are treated like the hunters of Africa, subjected to a purifying gymnastics, where the middling and the weak succumb. Don’t we have any left?

And note that one cannot accuse the Emperor’s government of this obscurantism, rather than that of Louis-Philippe, rather than that of the Restoration. It is a system that comes from above, that carries along the country and the State. In certain capitals of the department, there is a Jesuit college and an imperial high school side by side: the prefect, obeying the spirit of the time more than that of his job, a bad courtier but an excellent Christian, entrusts his son to the reverend fathers; he attends the distribution of college prizes and does not appear at that of the lyceum. Isn’t it clear that the empire is nothing, that the counter-revolution is everything?…

In Paris, institutions for young girls will soon be run exclusively by nuns. For these, no diplomas are required, no conditions of knowledge, morality or method; clothing takes the place of everything; no inspections: a young girl can be put in the in pace without either the family or the imperial prosecutor knowing anything about it. On the contrary, for lay teachers, repeated, formidable examinations; dearly bought diplomas; frequent, severe visits from the study room to the kitchen. The quality of secularism in education is a cause for suspicion.

XX. — Since the Church, through the organ of M. Blanc Saint-Bonnet, recognizes that a sum of instruction is indispensable, at least for aristocrats, we must see what this instruction granted by the Church to its predestined is. Can you believe it? it is worse than the ignorance reserved for the poor. Here is the program, collected from a series of facts made more or less public and from official acts:

a) Elimination of philosophy and history courses.

b) Application of the progressive tax to studies. Imitated from the pontifical government.

“The University of Rome, says M. A. Guillard, is affordable only to lords. To be admitted, you must have an income of… scudi; the number escapes us, what does it matter? It is enough that the desire to learn be taxed and repressed as a need for luxury.”

c) Forbidding lay teachers to give individual lessons.

d) Recommendation to teachers of mathematics to confine themselves to the teaching of arithmetic, and to avoid philosophical considerations touching certainty and method. I collected the confession of a professor and the complaints of several students from the École polytechnique and the Conservatoire.

e) For greater security, establishment everywhere of ecclesiastical colleges, minor seminaries, religious institutions, in competition with the lyceums and in place of lay houses. According to the Almanach du Clergé de France for 1856, cited by the Siècle, the number of colleges, institutions and boarding schools owned by the French clergy, amounted, at the beginning of last year, to one hundred and sixty-six. not including the minor seminaries or ecclesiastical secondary schools, the major seminaries, the innumerable establishments directed by religious corporations, the schools held by the brothers of Christian doctrine. In the department of Saone-et-Loire alone there are, I have been assured, sixteen Jesuit establishments.

f) Dismissal of teachers suspected of philosophism. In Ghent, the University was suspended by the Pope until the expulsion of two professors designated as hostile to the Church and to the faith. Among us, there will soon be no more philosophers in education; there will only be thurifers.

g) Emendation of history, according to the system of Loriquet.

h) Expurgation of the sciences, in accordance with the texts of the Bible.

i) Mutilation and distortion of authors. See in the Revue des Deux-Mondes, article by M. Cyprien Robert, professor at the College of France, in what way the Latin clergy devastated the monuments of Slavic literature, wherever they could reach them. And do not believe the Protestant devotion less subject to vandalism, where the interests of its faith seem compromised. A friend of mine, who visited Egypt, told me that the famous philologist Richard Lepsius, sent by His Majesty the King of Prussia to study the hieroglyphic monuments, never failed, after taking copies of the inscriptions, to break with blows of a hammer these venerable characters: a sure means of cutting short any subsequent discussion. The hieroglyphs could be used to confirm the statement of Manetho, who, assigning to Menes more than six thousand years of date, therefore carried him well beyond the deluge and the creation itself. Mr. Lepsius has rectified this chronology, and is not afraid that another will rectify his own. Unfortunately, the fraud is known, and Mr. Lepsius can boast of having worked, as we say on this side of the Rhine, for the King of Prussia. (D)

j) Emendation of the classics; in certain small colleges, they are suppressed purely and simply, according to the system of Gaume.

k) Burning of books: there are societies for the repurchase of dangerous books, which are immediately delivered to the flames. The day will come when the public libraries will be sorted, and the works pointed out to religious vindictiveness will be pulped. Already, note has been taken at the Imperial Library of the nature of the books requested, for the communication of which readers are required to give their signature.

l) Censorship of booksellers: a bookseller, to whom a writer in distress offered his library, refused to buy Diderot, Voltaire, Volney, etc., saying that the sale of these authors was prohibited.

m) Policing of peddling: under the pretext of protecting morals, the circulation of any writing opposed to the system is prohibited. (See the circular of the Archbishop of Milan, December 25, 1855. See also the application of the law on peddling, throughout the French empire.) (E)

n) Obligation for students and teachers to fulfill the duties of worship. In Péronne, the rector requires his subordinates to go to confession and celebrate Easter. Soon the teaching profession will be placed under the regime of primary school teachers, subject to general retreats, like the one that took place recently at Lons-le-Saulnier, from which they emerge, if not better, certainly exhausted in mind and body.

o) Forbidden to receive in the same schools pupils of different faiths. (See the circular of the Bishop of Arras, in the Presse of August 8, 1856.) Renewed means of Louis XIV, after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes: No dissidence, or no school.

p) Proscription of distinguished subjects, unless entire submissive to the Church. — Two students were refused in the contest for Normal School because of their unusual ability.

g) Formation of subjects devoted to the clergy to fill all the faculties, according to the vacancies, the functions of the teaching profession.

Moreover, the Church treats its shepherds like its sheep. I am told of a young ecclesiastic who was unable to obtain permission from his bishop to take his bachelor of science degree; for this he had to change dioceses.

To these means of prevention are added encouragement, I use the term honest, and, if encouragement is not enough, repression. For the masters, there are promotions, cumulations, university privileges, classic monopolies, patents and pensions; — for students, diplomas, appointments, exemptions from military service, wealthy marriages, etc.

Everything is combined to make studies at once onerous, intolerable and insufficient. On the one hand, the professors complain of the lowering of public instruction; on the other, the students cry out against the excessive conditions imposed for obtaining diplomas. The youth of the schools are treated like the hunters of Africa, subjected to a purifying gymnastics, where the middling and the weak succumb. Don’t we have any left?

And note that one cannot accuse the Emperor’s government exclusively of this obscurantism, rather than that of Louis-Philippe, rather than that of the Restoration. The power has its share of responsibility, which I fully intend to leave to it, but the system comes from above and carries along the country and the State. In certain capitals of the department there is a Jesuit college and an imperial high school side by side: the prefect, obeying the spirit of the time more than that of his job, a bad courtier but an excellent Christian, entrusts his son to the reverend fathers, he attends the distribution of the college prizes, and does not appear at that of the lyceum. Isn’t it clear that the empire is only an instrument directed by the counter-revolution?

In Paris, institutions for young girls will soon be run exclusively by nuns. For these, no diplomas are required, no conditions of knowledge, morality or method; clothing takes the place of everything; no inspections: a young girl can be put in the in pace without either the family or the imperial prosecutor knowing anything about it. On the contrary, for lay teachers, repeated, formidable examinations; dearly bought diplomas; frequent, severe visits from the study room to the kitchen. The quality of secularism in education is a cause for suspicion.

XXIII

What the ancient Church did in the memorable periods of Constantine, Theodosius and Attila—destruction of books, monuments, inscriptions, pictures, statues, temples; condemnation of ideas, persecution of authors—the modern Church begins again, with as much fury and more skill than ever. And the work of darkness advances rapidly, if, however, it is permitted to judge the effects of obscurantism by those of education, as one judges the contrary by its contrary.

Mr. O’Moore, former Viceroy of Ireland, said in my presence that in twenty years Catholicism would have disappeared from the island. The means employed for this is simple: numerous primary schools have been founded, of a superior power, in which, because of the difference in worship, it has been agreed that religion should not be spoken of to the children. Religious instruction forms a separate object, reserved for priests and ministers, as in our high schools for the chaplain. The school time elapsed, Protestantism appeals to these young reasons, who owe tp it the ability to read and think for themselves; it distributes its Bibles, provokes the examination: for Catholic souls Protestantism is emancipation; so many readers, so many defectors. It suffices for a dogma to appeal to reason for reason to prefer it and, in the absence of philosophy, to attach itself to it. Already, in 1852, Mr. O’Moore had observed that, out of a population of a hundred thousand souls, the Catholic Church had only blessed four or five marriages, while in preceding years it was still several hundred.

This system of school neutrality has been adopted in Holland: there too Catholicism encounters light and liberty as adversaries.

“In the greater part of Germany, the laws oblige parents to send their children to school, or to furnish proof of the instruction they receive at home. These laws date from the origin of Protestantism. In Saxony, the Elector Maurice converted the great convents into schools, without touching their endowments; the prebend that fed idle monks, useless to the state, now maintains the functionaries who render the most useful and laborious services to it.” (A. Guillard, Éléments de statistique.)

In France we follow a diametrically opposed system.

Since the expedition to Rome in 1849, the great nation seems to have taken it upon itself to bring about the counter-revolution over the globe: to begin with, it puts on a frock, takes off its shoes, shaves itself, hoods itself, becomes Jesuitized. In the latest meetings of the medical board, it has been noticed that the number of young people who cannot read has increased. At the same time that the condition of professors and schoolmasters is diminished, the endowments and salaries of the clergy are increased; we deliver up teaching, the future, to a corporation that in 1851 numbered 82,000 subjects, and whose income, in property, casuel, allocations from the budget of the communes and the State, reaches at least one hundred million francs.

With a staff of 82,000 agents, which in twenty years will have doubled;

With an income of 100 million, which will triple;

With the privilege of primary instruction, the adulteration and repression of higher education, the gagging of the press, the censorship of books, the sorting of libraries, the corruption of the teaching body;

With the complicity of the bourgeoisie and the support of four hundred thousand bayonets,

The Church, in twenty years, will have done with emasculated and tamed France what she has done with Italy, Spain, Ireland, what she is doing with Belgium, a stupefied nation: a society composed of proletarians, privileged people and priests, which, no longer producing either citizens or thinkers, devoid of moral sense, armed only against the liberties of the world, will end up raising against it the indignation of the dissenting races, and be dragged through the mud of history.

XXI. — What the ancient Church did in the memorable periods of Constantine, Theodosius and Attila—destruction of books, monuments, inscriptions, pictures, statues, temples; condemnation of ideas, persecution of authors—the modern Church begins again, with as much fury and more skill than ever. And the work of darkness advances rapidly, if, however, it is permitted to judge the effects of obscurantism by those of education, as one judges the contrary by its contrary.

Mr. O’Moore, former Viceroy of Ireland, said in my presence that in twenty years Catholicism would have disappeared from the island. The means employed for this is simple: numerous primary schools have been founded, of a superior power, in which, because of the difference in worship, it has been agreed that religion should not be spoken of to the children. Religious instruction forms a separate object, reserved for priests and ministers, as in our high schools for the chaplain. The school time elapsed, Protestantism appeals to these young reasons, who owe tp it the ability to read and think for themselves; it distributes its Bibles, provokes the examination: for Catholic souls Protestantism is emancipation; so many readers, so many defectors. It suffices for a dogma to appeal to reason for reason to prefer it and, in the absence of philosophy, to attach itself to it. Already, in 1852, Mr. O’Moore had observed that, out of a population of a hundred thousand souls, the Catholic Church had only blessed four or five marriages, while in preceding years it was still several hundred. (F)

This system of school neutrality has been adopted in Holland: there too Catholicism encounters light and liberty as adversaries.

“In the greater part of Germany, the laws oblige parents to send their children to school, or to furnish proof of the instruction they receive at home. These laws date from the origin of Protestantism. (G) In Saxony, the Elector Maurice converted the great convents into schools, without touching their endowments; the prebend that fed idle monks, useless to the state, now maintains the functionaries who render the most useful and laborious services to it.” (A. Guillard, Éléments de statistique.)

In France we follow a diametrically opposed system.

Since the expedition to Rome in 1849, the great nation seems to have taken it upon itself to bring about the counter-revolution over the globe: to begin with, it puts on a frock, takes off its shoes, shaves itself, hoods itself, becomes Jesuitized. In the latest meetings of the medical board, it has been noticed that the number of young people who cannot read has increased. At the same time that the condition of professors and schoolmasters is diminished, the endowments and salaries of the clergy are increased; we deliver up teaching, the future, to a corporation that in 1851 numbered 82,000 subjects, and whose income, in property, casuel, allocations from the budget of the communes and the State, reaches at least one hundred million francs.

With a staff of 82,000 agents, which in twenty years will have doubled;

With an income of 100 million, which will triple;

With the privilege of primary instruction, the adulteration and repression of higher education, the gagging of the press, the censorship of books, the sorting of libraries, the corruption of the teaching body;

With the complicity of the bourgeoisie and the support of four hundred thousand bayonets,

The Church, in twenty years, will have done with emasculated and tamed France what she has done with Italy, Spain, Ireland, what she is doing with Belgium, a stupefied nation: a society composed of proletarians, privileged people and priests, which, no longer producing either citizens or thinkers, devoid of moral sense, armed only against the liberties of the world, will end up raising against it the indignation of the dissenting races, and be dragged through the mud of history.

XXIV

What the Church strives to inculcate in minds by what she calls her teaching, she shows to the imaginations in the figures and ceremonies of her worship.

In order to raise the old world and maintain it on its basis, if ever this great enterprise is accomplished, the first thing, according to the Christian spirit, is to re-establish, along with the principle of authority, the principle of hierarchy.

“When the aristocracy of a society is lost,” says M.  Blanc Saint-Bonnet, “everything is lost.”

“When a people can no longer provide an aristocracy, it is because it is exhausted. And it is a sign of decadence when a people envies its aristocracy.

“It is necessary, in order to save us, that the bourgeoisie must become ennobled: it is the nobility that founded the nation.” (De la Restauration française, Book 3.)

And in order to make a new feudalism for the bourgeoisie, we know the procedure to follow (see the Manuel du Spéculateur à la Bourse): all that is missing is priestly consecration, it will not fail.

What is the cult? A representation of society.

The man who, according to the prescription of the Apostle, has stripped himself of his natural conscience and who has put on the theological faith like a breastplate, is no more than a puppet dancing before his idol, as David danced before the ark, much to the pity of his wife Michol.

Let us enter the church during the service, on the day of a great feast. Seats are distributed according to dignities: work bench, stalls for fabricators, churchwardens, prefects of congregations, civil and military authorities; the middle class has chairs paid by the day and by the year; the multitude, standing or crouching, crowds behind the pillars, at the back of the chapels, out of sight of the high altar and the pulpit.

At the sermon, if the lord, prelate or prince is present, the preacher, who is supposed to speak for everyone, addresses him by name.

At the offering, the luminaries each receive the incense separately; while the people are regaled en masse with the last of three strokes of the censer.

It is thus that the Church instills in souls respect for the hierarchy. How many times, but in vain, the conscience of the people has grumbled about it!

In 1830, a few days before the July revolution, the Duchess of Angoulême passing through Besançon, I witnessed the scandal caused to our wine-growers, the Boussebots, by Bishop Cardinal de Rohan, when he received the princess under the porch of the cathedral with the incense and the canopy: it seemed to them that such an honor should be reserved for God. The Revolution, as we saw a few weeks later, infected those heads!…

Who has not observed the order of the processions? The commoners in front, by age, sex and corporations; then the religious orders; then the clergy, massed near the dais, surrounded by the magistracy, the chiefs of the army, like bodyguards. Always the gradation of ranks and castes. While the youth of quality, powdered, curled, dressed in dazzling albs, girded with belts of silver and gold, carry before the Blessed Sacrament the cassolettes where the perfumes burn, little poor people caught among the charcoal burners and blacksmiths are responsible for the embers and tongs. I remember that one day, no gamin wanting the commission, I bravely offered myself with a comrade to fill this office, the procession could no more do without the stove than the monstrance. It seemed to me that, following the example of I don’t know which old man to whom his fellow citizens had entrusted the cleaning of the sewers, I was going to illustrate my position. Everyone, the abbots like the others, laughed at me. What was I thinking of imagining that Christians were equal before the Blessed Sacrament? I had chosen to be despised in the house of the Lord, Elegi abjectus esse in domo Domini, and I was despised; it was right.

The Corpus Christi procession provided Châteaubriant with the most beautiful of his amplifications. It was not without concentrated anger that I read, at the age of twenty, the works of this phrase-monger without conscience, without philosophy, whose whole dignity was in the eloquence. This then, I said to myself, is what one leads the nations with! Those of 89, witnesses of feudal tyranny and the corruptions of the priesthood, would not have been taken in by this tinsel; it is enough, in 1804, for a Jacobin soldier to call himself emperor, to change feelings and ideas. Those who had been emancipated by philosophical reason were seduced in their turn by literary fantasia. What genius, indeed, in Christianity! What poetry in this feudal world! The beautiful things that the chimes, the rattle, the Yule log, the bean of the Kings, the ashes of Lent! These wretched classics, for three centuries, had not thought of it; the romantics will live on it for fifteen years. O holy abodes of monks, arise! The fathers have auctioned you off in their madness; the sons will restore you in their repentance…

The hierarchical insult pursues man to the cemetery.

Funerals, like weddings, are of several classes. In a village in Picardy, the priest, in order to mark the scale of the rows, took it into his head to have the funeral processions follow two different paths: one steep, narrow, and in a straight line, for the poor; the other developed into a broad and superb curve, for the wealthy. The mayor, liberal spirit, from whom I hold the anecdote, wants to oppose this abuse of distinction; he orders that the high road be followed by everyone. Denunciation of the mayor to the prefect by the parish priest; interpellations of the prefect; explanations given by the municipal leader. The priest wins his case; and the mayor, suspected of revolutionism, is forced to resign.

 

XXII. — What the Church strives to inculcate in minds by what she calls her teaching, she shows to the imaginations in the figures and ceremonies of her worship.

In order to raise the old world and maintain it on its basis, if ever this great enterprise is accomplished, the first thing, according to the Christian spirit, is to re-establish, along with the principle of authority, the principle of hierarchy.

“When the aristocracy of a society is lost,” says M.  Blanc Saint-Bonnet, “everything is lost.

“When a people can no longer provide an aristocracy, it is because it is exhausted. And it is a sign of decadence when a people envies its aristocracy.

“It is necessary, in order to save us, that the bourgeoisie must become ennobled: it is the nobility that founded the nation.” (De la Restauration française, Book 3.)

And in order to make a new feudalism for the bourgeoisie, we know the procedure to follow (see the Manuel du Spéculateur à la Bourse): all that is missing is priestly consecration, it will not fail.

What is the cult? A representation of society.

The man who, according to the prescription of the Apostle, has stripped himself of his natural conscience and who has put on the theological faith like a breastplate, is no more than a puppet dancing before his idol, as David danced before the ark, much to the pity of his wife Michol.

Let us enter the church during the service, on the day of a great feast. Seats are distributed according to dignities: work bench, stalls for fabricators, churchwardens, prefects of congregations, civil and military authorities; the middle class has chairs paid by the day and by the year; the multitude, standing or crouching, crowds behind the pillars, at the back of the chapels, out of sight of the high altar and the pulpit.

At the sermon, if the lord, prelate or prince is present, the preacher, who is supposed to speak for everyone, addresses him by name.

At the offering, the luminaries each receive the incense separately; while the people are regaled en masse with the last of three strokes of the censer.

It is thus that the Church instills in souls respect for the hierarchy. How many times, but in vain, the conscience of the people has grumbled about it!

In 1830, a few days before the July revolution, the Duchess of Angoulême passing through Besançon, I witnessed the scandal caused to our wine-growers, the Boussebots, by Bishop Cardinal de Rohan, when he received the princess under the porch of the cathedral with the incense and the canopy: it seemed to them that such an honor should be reserved for God. The Revolution, as we saw a few weeks later, at the demolition of the mission cross, infected those heads!…

Who has not observed the order of the processions? The commoners in front, by age, sex and corporations; then the religious orders; then the clergy, massed near the dais, surrounded by the magistracy, the chiefs of the army, like bodyguards. Always the gradation of ranks and castes. While the youth of quality, powdered, curled, dressed in dazzling albs, girded with belts of silver and gold, carry before the Blessed Sacrament the cassolettes where the perfumes burn, little poor people caught among the charcoal burners and blacksmiths are responsible for the embers and tongs. I remember that one day, no gamin wanting the commission, I bravely offered myself with a comrade to fill this office, the procession could no more do without the stove than the monstrance. It seemed to me that, following the example of I don’t know which old man to whom his fellow citizens had entrusted the cleaning of the sewers, I was going to illustrate my position. Everyone, the abbots like the others, laughed at me. What was I thinking of imagining that Christians were equal before the Blessed Sacrament? I had chosen to be despised in the house of the Lord, Elegi abjectus esse in domo Domini, and I was despised; it was right.

The Corpus Christi procession provided Châteaubriant with the most beautiful of his amplifications. It was not without concentrated anger that I read, at the age of twenty, the works of this phrase-monger without conscience, without philosophy, whose whole dignity was in the eloquence. This then, I said to myself, is what one leads the nations with! Those of 89, witnesses of feudal tyranny and the corruptions of the priesthood, would not have been taken in by this tinsel; it is enough, in 1804, for a Jacobin soldier to call himself emperor, to change feelings and ideas. Those who had been emancipated by philosophical reason were seduced in their turn by literary fantasia. What genius, indeed, in Christianity! What poetry in this feudal world! The beautiful things that the chimes, the rattle, the Yule log, the bean of the Kings, the ashes of Lent! These wretched classics, for three centuries, had not thought of it; the romantics will live on it for fifteen years. O holy abodes of monks, arise! The fathers have auctioned you off in their madness; the sons will restore you in their repentance…

The hierarchical insult pursues man to the cemetery. Funerals, like weddings, are of several classes. In a village in Picardy, the priest, in order to mark the scale of the rows, took it into his head to have the funeral processions follow two different paths: one steep, narrow, and in a straight line, for the poor; the other developed into a broad and superb curve, for the wealthy. The mayor, liberal spirit, from whom I hold the anecdote, wants to oppose this abuse of distinction; he orders that the high road be followed by everyone. Denunciation of the mayor to the prefect by the parish priest; interpellations of the prefect; explanations given by the municipal leader. The priest wins his case; and the mayor, suspected of revolutionism, is forced to resign.

XXV

I read two volumes published by Bishop Dupanloup, Bishop of Orléans, on Haute Éducation intellectuelle; and however unwilling this prelate may be to do me justice for justice, I have no hesitation in saying that I found some very good things in his book.

I agree with him on the preponderance of the Humanities over the sciences. I only believe that it is possible, without tiring the pupils, to melt into the Humanities, from the seventh year onwards, a dose of science more considerable than was done in the past. What is bad for young heads, what overwhelms and suffocates them, is not so much the multitude of things they are taught as the multiplicity of courses, faculties and divisions.

I am also grateful to Archbishop Dupanloup for wanting to repair, as far as it is in him, the wrongs of Bishop Gaume with regard to the classics, although at base Bishop Gaume seems to me to be more consistent in his way of seeing and more Christian than Bishop Dupanloup.

I applaud moreover, and without reserve, what the learned bishop says of Authority and Respect in education, and am in no way afraid of the name of God , which he places, like an epigraph, at the head of his excellent pedagogy. It is so easy to translate the name of God, to give to this sign a rational, social, psychological, even physical interpretation, that it would be necessary to be very fastidious to look for quibbles on this subject with the pious Director.

Yes, it is in the family and in the school that authority has its home: if it confines itself there, it will never be to be feared. And in order to explain this authority, I do not need to relate it to a mysterious, divine source; it results from the child’s weakness and inexperience, from the affection of the father who represents him, from the responsibility of those to whom the father has entrusted the child, from the law of nature that has thus united the generations to each other, from the conditions of the human spirit, which always begins by believing as stated what later he will have to affirm by reason; finally, from social solidarity. Yes, finally, I proclaim with Mgr Dupanloup that the basis of all morality is in respect: what then is the Justice that I defend, if not respect for man?…

But here I stop my author and ask him:

Do you seriously believe that respect can exist in Catholicism? And, however much trouble you take in your seminaries to inculcate its maxim, can you deny that it is constantly contradicted by your social practice, by your discipline and by your dogma?

Can there be respect in a system where conditions are declared, by divine authority, to be unequal? In a system where the education given to the multitude, with a view to hierarchy, consists of a kind of moral and intellectual castration; where the young of the people are brought up for exploitation, like the young of animals for consumption?

What is respect? Mgr Dupanloup, such a skilful Latinist, knows it better than anyone: it is equality of consideration. — Respectus, from re-spicere, to look while turning, so as to see the person one is looking at from the front. The sidelong glance is a sign of fatuity, of deceit; like the look below, suspicio, is one of distrust and hatred.

What is contempt, in Latin despectio? The inequality of consideration. — Despectio, from de-spicere, to look up and down.

From contempt to respect, the difference is from the oblique to the horizontal.

What respect then, I do not say from master to pupil, from father to child, since, by the nature of things, the pupil must one day be the equal of his master, the child sooner or later replace his father; — but from the individual of superior condition to that of inferior condition, if the second should never rise to the level of the first, except by the favor of the prince or the predestination of God?

What respect from the noble to the commoner?

What respect from the rich to the poor?

What respect does the bourgeois master-juror have for the proletarian whom he pays?

What respect does the officer brought up at great expense, in the special schools of the State, for rank and for glory, have for the conscript who does not know how to read and only asks for his leave?

What respect from the believer to the free-thinker, from the theologian of the Sacred Congregation to the philosopher whose writings he condemns?…

Mr. Guizot, who always has great words at his service when it comes to asserting an untruth, dared to write:

“Catholicism is the greatest and holiest school of reverence the world has had.”

Yes, if by respect you mean the salutations, genuflections, and all the grimaces of childish and Christian civility. Isn’t the supreme bon ton for a great lord knowing how to say hello! in as many different ways as there are degrees on the hierarchical ladder? M. Guizot calls this science of airs and graces respect! For us, men of the Revolution, it is insolence. Alas! The dynasty of Orleans would still reign if its Prime Minister, when he ascended the tribune, had not had two ways of saluting, if M. Guizot had not stooped so low while speaking of the king, while he stood so stiff in responding to the nation….

XXII. — I read two volumes published by Bishop Dupanloup, Bishop of Orléans, on Haute Éducation intellectuelle; and however unwilling this prelate may be to do me justice for justice, I have no hesitation in saying that I found some very good things in his book.

I agree with him on the preponderance of the Humanities over the sciences. I only believe that it is possible, without tiring the pupils, to melt into the Humanities, from the seventh year onwards, a dose of science more considerable than was done in the past. What is bad for young heads, what overwhelms and suffocates them, is not so much the multitude of things they are taught as the multiplicity of courses, faculties and divisions.

I am also grateful to Archbishop Dupanloup for wanting to repair, as far as it is in him, the wrongs of Bishop Gaume with regard to the classics, although at base Bishop Gaume seems to me to be more consistent in his way of seeing and more Christian than Bishop Dupanloup.

I applaud moreover, and without reserve, what the learned bishop says of Authority and Respect in education, and am in no way afraid of the name of God, which he places, like an epigraph, at the head of his excellent pedagogy. It is so easy to translate the name of God, to give to this sign a rational, social, psychological, even physical interpretation, that it would be necessary to be very fastidious to look for quibbles on this subject with the pious Director.

Yes, it is in the family and in the school that authority has its home: if it confines itself there, it will never be to be feared. And in order to explain this authority, I do not need to relate it to a mysterious, divine source; it results from the child’s weakness and inexperience, from the affection of the father who represents him, from the responsibility of those to whom the father has entrusted the child, from the law of nature that has thus united the generations to each other, from the conditions of the human spirit, which always begins by believing as stated what later he will have to affirm by reason; finally, from social solidarity.

Yes, finally, I proclaim with Mgr Dupanloup that the basis of all morality is in respect: what then is the Justice that I defend, if not respect for man?…

But here I stop my author and ask him:

Do you seriously believe that respect can exist in Catholicism? And, however much trouble you take in your seminaries to inculcate its maxim, can you deny that it is constantly contradicted by your social practice, by your discipline and by your dogma?

Can there be respect in a system where conditions are declared, by divine authority, to be unequal? In a system where the education given to the multitude, with a view to hierarchy, consists of a kind of moral and intellectual castration; where the young of the people are brought up for exploitation, like the young of animals for consumption?

What is respect? Mgr Dupanloup, such a skilful Latinist, knows it better than anyone: it is equality of consideration. — Respectus, from re-spicere, is the gaze of a man who, as he walks, turns around, so as to salute the person passing by him. He who goes straight on his way, without looking at anyone, like the soldier on drill, lacks respect. The sideways glance is a sign of fatuity, of deceit, just as the downward glance, suspicio, is one of mistrust and hatred. Similarly, contempt, in Latin despectio, is inequality of consideration. Despectio, from de-spicere, looking up and down. From contempt, hatred or cunning to respect, the difference is from the oblique to the horizontal.

What respect then, I do not say from master to pupil, from father to child, since, by the nature of things, the pupil must one day be the equal of his master, the child sooner or later replace his father; — but from the individual of superior condition to that of inferior condition, if the second should never rise to the level of the first, except by the favor of the prince or the predestination of God?

What respect from the noble to the commoner?

What respect from the rich to the poor?

What respect does the bourgeois master-juror have for the proletarian whom he pays?

What respect does the officer brought up at great expense, in the special schools of the State, for rank and for glory, have for the conscript who does not know how to read and only asks for his leave?

What respect from the believer to the free-thinker, from the theologian of the Sacred Congregation to the philosopher whose writings he condemns?Mr. Guizot, who always has great words at his service when it comes to asserting an untruth, dared to write:

“Catholicism is the greatest and holiest school of reverence the world has had.”

Yes, if by respect you mean the salutations, genuflections, and all the grimaces of childish and Christian civility. Isn’t the supreme bon ton for a great lord knowing how to say hello! in as many different ways as there are degrees on the hierarchical ladder? M. Guizot calls this science of airs and graces respect! For us, men of the Revolution, it is insolence. Alas! The dynasty of Orleans would still reign if its Prime Minister, when he ascended the tribune, had not had two ways of saluting, if M. Guizot had not stooped so low while speaking of the king, while he stood so stiff in responding to the nation.

XXVI

But I realize that we no longer get along. What human language, with more or less accuracy, calls respect, derives, according to the priest, from religion, that is to say, to speak like feudalism, from the homage-lige, which, beginning at God, ends at the bastard of the slave girl, and necessarily implies inequality. According to us, on the contrary, respect derives from the jus, that is to say from the virile dignity, declared by the Revolution to be identical and adequate among all men.

Sons of the Revolution, we affirm equality, which the sons of religion deny in the name of their faith. This is why they accuse us of having destroyed respect, and why they regard us as infamous, in our life, in our soul and in our body, barely worthy, after our death, to be removed. by the rubbish contractor.

Not a day goes by that they don’t insult us.

The Revolution, by declaring liberty of conscience, made cemeteries public property. The Church, not content with leading the rich and the poor there by various paths, claims this property as holy, and claims to keep the unbelievers away from it. In Chelles (Seine-et-Marne), an old colonel refuses, on his deathbed, the help of religion. The priest had the corpse thrown into a corner reputed to be infamous since the burial of one guillotined. The mayor, donning his sash, had to order a grave to be dug in a decent place, and by his official intervention saved the body of the freethinker from the insult of the priest.

It seems, however, that the Concordat having regulated, with the approval of the pope, the relations between the Revolution and the Church, the clergy should respect this law, received by them with so much joy. It is not so.

In Saint-Étienne, there is a college of Jesuits, under the invocation of Saint Michael. However, just as the Church loves processions, the Reverend Fathers love the theater. I have before me a show bulletin, La Vendée militaire , a drama in five scenes, with songs, played by young people from the college, belonging to the first families of the country. All the relatives and friends, to the number of five or six hundred people, attended the performance, which doubtless was not ignored by the police. But the power only got angry when the students, elated by their roles, emancipated themselves to the point of breaking the bust of the Emperor and dragging him through the mud. Is not the Vendée, in effect, Cadoudal, and the Emperor the usurpation?

Thus, after a peace of more than half a century, the Church reignited war; at the same time that it ruins and transports the republicans, it forms in its colleges generals for a future Vendée. To it, to attack the Revolution, all latitude, all favor; to us, proscribed, to defend it, the gag and Cayenne. This is how she teaches, how she practices respect.

Every nation divided in itself will perish, says the Gospel. The aristocratic class, brought up by the priests, goes on one side; the commoners, in whom the revolutionary spirit dominates more and more, draws from the other: unless the new carries away the old, tearing is inevitable.

Walking in the Luxembourg, I heard a group of kids reading and commenting among themselves on a popular little book, the Mystères de l’Inquisition. — What! said the most energetic of the gang, does the good Lord want people to be killed like this? — Of course, replied another, who knew his Sacred History inside out; and he quoted the famous examples of Moses, of Samuel, of the prophet Elias, of Mathathias. -— Well! It doesn’t matter, continued the other. I tell you that, if that time came again, my father would immediately pick up his gun!… Oh! yes, we will still have gunshots, and woe then, woe to Jerusalem!… The authority of the priest over the children of the people is lost, a country justice of the peace told me; the word of the father prevails, and the first communion, which for the greatest number is the last, has taken on the significance of a divorce.

XXIV. — But I realize that we no longer get along. What human language, with more or less accuracy, calls respect, derives, according to the priest, from religion, that is to say, to speak like feudalism, from the homage-lige, which, beginning at God, ends at the bastard of the slave girl, and necessarily implies inequality. According to us, on the contrary, respect derives from the jus, that is to say from the virile dignity, declared by the Revolution to be identical and adequate among all men. Sons of the Revolution, we affirm equality, which the sons of religion deny in the name of their faith. This is why they accuse us of having destroyed respect, and why they regard us as infamous, in our life, in our soul and in our body, barely worthy, after our death, to be removed. by the rubbish contractor. Not a day goes by that they don’t insult us.

The Revolution, by declaring liberty of conscience, made cemeteries public property. The Church, not content with leading the rich and the poor there by various paths, claims this property as holy, and claims to keep the unbelievers away from it. In Chelles (Seine-et-Marne), an old colonel refuses, on his deathbed, the help of religion. The priest had the corpse thrown into a corner reputed to be infamous since the burial of one guillotined. The mayor, donning his sash, had to order a grave to be dug in a decent place, and by his official intervention saved the body of the freethinker from the insult of the priest.

It seems, however, that the Concordat having regulated, with the approval of the pope, the relations between the Revolution and the Church, the clergy should respect this law, received by them with so much joy. It is not so.

In Saint-Étienne, there is a college of Jesuits, under the invocation of Saint Michael. However, just as the Church loves processions, the Reverend Fathers love the theater. I have before me a show bulletin, La Vendée militaire , a drama in five scenes, with songs, played by young people from the college, belonging to the first families of the country. All the relatives and friends, to the number of five or six hundred people, attended the performance, which doubtless was not ignored by the police. But the power only got angry when the students, elated by their roles, emancipated themselves to the point of breaking the bust of the Emperor and dragging him through the mud. Is not the Vendée, in effect, Cadoudal, and the Emperor the usurpation?

Thus, after a peace of more than half a century, the Church reignited war; at the same time that it ruins and transports the republicans, it forms in its colleges generals for a future Vendée. To it, to attack the Revolution, all latitude, all favor; to us, proscribed, to defend it, the gag and Cayenne. This is how she teaches, how she practices respect.

Every nation divided in itself will perish, says the Gospel. The aristocratic class, brought up by the priests, goes on one side; the commoners, in whom the revolutionary spirit dominates more and more, draws from the other: unless the new carries away the old, tearing is inevitable.

Walking in the Luxembourg, I heard a group of kids reading and commenting among themselves on a popular little book, the Mystères de l’Inquisition. — What! said the most energetic of the gang, does the good Lord want people to be killed like this? — Of course, replied another, who knew his Sacred History inside out; and he quoted the famous examples of Moses, of Samuel, of the prophet Elias, of Mathathias. -— Well! It doesn’t matter, continued the other. I tell you that, if that time came again, my father would immediately pick up his gun!… Oh! yes, we will still have gunshots, and woe then, woe to Jerusalem!… The authority of the priest over the children of the people is lost, a country justice of the peace told me; the word of the father prevails, and the first communion, which for the greatest number is the last, has taken on the significance of a divorce.

XXVII

Like so many others, I have repeatedly been surprised by this ecclesiastical duplicity, which people wanted, but wrongly, to make the prerogative of the Company of Loyola. It was repugnant to me to think that a body as considerable as the Catholic clergy, in its relations with the powers of society, which are Philosophy, Science, Labor, as well as the State, would not recoil before treason. and murder, where it cannot succeed by capture and cunning.

I ended up realizing this phenomenon. It is not the individuals who must be accused: it is the Church.

In the individual, priest or layman, the natural conscience constantly comes to straighten out the aberrations of the transcendental conscience; and, apart from the rare cases of an absolute perversion, one can say that the man is always better than the believer.

But communities do not behave like individuals. They obey only their idea, their social reason, if I may say so, without allowing themselves to be distracted by any other sentiment.

The Church is a collectivity formed solely by and for faith, in which human affections disappear, and where the religious conscience remains alone, speaking and ordering in the name of God.

Now, what is God, in the order of conscience, according to the Church?

God is the absolute master of the universe, which he governs by his good pleasure and leads by roads known to him alone. Would God, who, according to theologians, could create an infinity of universes different from this one, be chained by laws? Will God make an irrevocable pact with man? One would be foolish to think so! God does what he wants, and no one has the right to hold him accountable.

Du tombeau, quand tu veux, tu sais nous rappeler.
Tu frappes et guéris ; tu perds et ressuscites !
Ils ne s’assurent point en leurs propres mérites,
Mais en ton nom sur eux invoqué tant de fois,
En tes serments, jurés au plus saint de leurs rois ;
En ce temple, où tu fais ta demeure sacrée,
Et qui doit du soleil égaler la durée.

Now, government of God and government of the Church are the same thing.

It is at the prayer of the Church that God kills the Sennacheribs, the Balthazars, the Antiochus, the Decius, the Galeriuses, the Julians: why should the Church that curses, whose prayer brings death, not put its hand to execution?

Is the conscience of the Church, which is the very conscience of God, governed by the justice of men?…

The Church has her hand on any soul lacking in faith, Arius or Jean Hus, Savonarola or Henri IV. Who then, if he is not an atheist, could call her to account for the manner in which she executes her sentences?

For nearly seventy years the Church has not ceased to raise her prayers to God against the Revolution, like the Jews during the captivity of Babylon. What do we say of the concordat? A sheet of paper, which it pleased God to use, like the edict of Cyrus, to free his people, but which could not serve as a title for a new captivity. A pope, a man, out of prudence, out of necessity, was able to lend his hands to this transaction; the Church, whose collectivity represents God himself, is not bound by his signature?

Thus the Church, in everything she does, acts conscientiously. What seems to us a crime in her is a duty. It is out of duty that she despoils and proscribes paganism, after her apologists have so often demanded pagan tolerance; out of duty she burns the philosophers, after the Apostle declared that faith must be rational and free; out of duty she slaughters the Revolution, after Pius VII made a pact with the Revolution.

The Church is the double consciousness of humanity.

Just as civil society has the right of justice over all those who violate the laws of natural conscience, which is itself; in the same way the Church attributes to herself the right of Justice over all those who, even innocent from the point of view of the natural conscience, sin against the religious conscience, which is also her.

And this is what explains to us, finally, how in the human soul the greatest villainy can unite with a deep religion: this phenomenon has no other cause than the stifling of the natural conscience by the transcendent consciousness.

Caligula, Nero, Heliogabalus, the most cowardly, the most infamous of all tyrants, were models of piety. Tiberius, without respect for the gods, is fatalistic: one superstition is worth another; it is the monster of monsters. Balthazar Gérard, Jacques Clément, Ravaillac, were saints. It is this alliance of religion with crime that constitutes hypocrisy, from the Greek ὑποκριτὴς , comedian, as one would say theater conscience, the vice par excellence of Christian souls. Tartuffe is a true devotee, don’t doubt it: this monster believes so well in God and in hell that he has lost his moral sense. Molière, a disciple of Gassendi, knew this, although he had given the play the Imposter as a subtitle; but his successors did not understand this, and that is why they no longer know how to play Tartuffe. Nor was Napoleon mistaken when, full of his ideas of religious restoration, he said: If Tartuffe had been composed under my reign, I would not have permitted its performance. May God forgive the great Napoleon, since he trusted him! But the head of state who, being able to raise the conscience of the people, placed it under the yoke of the Church, will reckon with posterity.

XXV. — Like so many others, I have repeatedly been surprised by this ecclesiastical duplicity, which people wanted, but wrongly, to make the prerogative of the Company of Loyola. It was repugnant to me to think that a body as considerable as the Catholic clergy, in its relations with the powers of society, which are Philosophy, Science, Labor, as well as the State, would not recoil before treason. and murder, where it cannot succeed by capture and cunning. I ended up realizing this phenomenon. It is not the individuals who must be accused: it is the Church.

In the individual, priest or layman, the natural conscience constantly comes to straighten out the aberrations of the transcendental conscience; and, apart from the rare cases of an absolute perversion, one can say that the man is always better than the believer.

But communities do not behave like individuals. They obey only their idea, their social reason, if I may say so, without allowing themselves to be distracted by any other sentiment.

The Church is a collectivity formed solely by and for faith, in which human affections disappear, and where the religious conscience remains alone, speaking and ordering in the name of God.

Now, what is God, in the order of conscience, according to the Church?

God is the absolute master of the universe, which he governs by his good pleasure and leads by roads known to him alone. Would God, who, according to theologians, could create an infinity of universes different from this one, be chained by laws? Will God make an irrevocable pact with man? One would be foolish to think so! God does what he wants, and no one has the right to hold him accountable.

From death Thou canst recall us when Thou wilt!
Thou strikest and Thou healest, Thou destroyest
And Thou resuscitatest. We rely
Not on our own deserts, but on Thy name,
Invoked so frequently, and on Thy oath
Sworn to the most devout of all our kings,
Within this temple made Thy holy dwelling,
And which the sun’s duration is to last.

(Racine, Athaliah)

Now, government of God and government of the Church are the same thing.

It is at the prayer of the Church that God kills the Sennacheribs, the Balthazars, the Antiochus, the Decius, the Galeriuses, the Julians: why should the Church that curses, whose prayer brings death, not put its hand to execution?

Is the conscience of the Church, which is the very conscience of God, governed by the justice of men?

The Church has her hand on any soul lacking in faith, Arius or Jean Hus, Savonarola or Henri IV. Who then, if he is not an atheist, could call her to account for the manner in which she executes her sentences?

For nearly seventy years the Church has not ceased to raise her prayers to God against the Revolution, like the Jews during the captivity of Babylon. What do we say of the concordat? A sheet of paper, which it pleased God to use, like the edict of Cyrus, to free his people, but which could not serve as a title for a new captivity. A pope, a man, out of prudence, out of necessity, was able to lend his hands to this transaction; the Church, whose collectivity represents God himself, is not bound by his signature?

Thus the Church, in everything she does, acts conscientiously. What seems to us a crime in her is a duty. It is out of duty that she despoils and proscribes paganism, after her apologists have so often demanded pagan tolerance; out of duty she burns the philosophers, after the Apostle declared that faith must be rational and free; out of duty she slaughters the Revolution, after Pius VII made a pact with the Revolution.

The Church is the double consciousness of humanity.

Just as civil society has the right of justice over all those who violate the laws of natural conscience, which is itself; in the same way the Church attributes to herself the right of Justice over all those who, even innocent from the point of view of the natural conscience, sin against the religious conscience, which is also her. (H)

And this is what explains to us, finally, how in the human soul the greatest villainy can unite with a deep religion: this phenomenon has no other cause than the stifling of the natural conscience by the transcendent consciousness.

Caligula, Nero, Heliogabalus, the most cowardly, the most infamous of all tyrants, were models of piety. Tiberius, without respect for the gods, is fatalistic: one superstition is worth another; it is the monster of monsters. Balthazar Gérard, Jacques Clément, Ravaillac, were saints. It is this alliance of religion with crime that constitutes hypocrisy, from the Greek ὑποκριτὴς , comedian, as one would say theater conscience, the vice par excellence of Christian souls. Tartuffe is a true devotee, don’t doubt it: this monster believes so well in God and in hell that he has lost his moral sense. Molière, a disciple of Gassendi, knew this, although he had given the play the Imposter as a subtitle; but his successors did not understand this, and that is why they no longer know how to play Tartuffe. Nor was Napoleon mistaken when, full of his ideas of religious restoration, he said: If Tartuffe had been composed under my reign, I would not have permitted its performance. May God forgive the great Napoleon, since he trusted him! But the head of state who, being able to raise the conscience of the people, placed it under the yoke of the Church, will reckon with posterity. (I).

XXVIII

Let us conclude this chapter.

Catholicism, which boasts of moralizing man, only succeeds, by the double consciousness that it creates in his soul, and by the factitious education that is its consequence, in making him a sly character, a hypocrite, full of gall, an enemy of society and the human race.

Now, what is true of Catholicism will be true of any other church, since the law of any church is to organize itself by virtue of a dogma, taken as the rule and sanction of law, consequently to divide the conscience and to distort the education.

Give the education of youth to Saint-Simon, to Fourier, to Cabet, to Robespierre: each of them will adapt it to his system; give it to M. Cousin, he will make eclectics for you; give it to a Marshal of France, he will make you soldiers.

It is this thought, common to all sects, that for sixty years has caused the liberty of education to be proscribed in France. As in politics we are in favor of centralization, in education we are of the University. The Church, scholars believe, won’t last forever, and we will inherit its position. Better to wait than risk losing everything. — So how, in attacking the Church, care is taken to protect the monopoly! We do not want a pedagogy that would train man for himself, freeing him from all prejudice, all dogmatism, all transcendental hallucination. We would fear, if the spirit of youth became free, that there would no longer be employment for the geniuses who arrogate to themselves the government of the virile age. The depravity of the child is the pledge of the servility of the adult.

I will deal with industrial education in the Sixth Study.

XXVI. — Let us conclude this chapter.

Catholicism, which boasts of moralizing man, only succeeds, by the double consciousness that it creates in his soul, and by the factitious education that is its consequence, in making him a sly character, a hypocrite, full of gall, an enemy of society and the human race.

Now, what is true of Catholicism will be true of any other church, since the law of any church is to organize itself by virtue of a dogma, taken as the rule and sanction of law, consequently to divide the conscience and to distort the education.

Give the education of youth to Saint-Simon, to Fourier, to Cabet, to Robespierre: each of them will adapt it to his system; give it to M. Cousin, he will make eclectics for you; give it to a Marshal of France, he will make you soldiers.

It is this thought, common to all sects, that for sixty years has caused the liberty of education to be proscribed in France. As in politics we are in favor of centralization, in education we are of the University. The Church, scholars believe, won’t last forever, and we will inherit its position. Better to wait than risk losing everything. — So how, in attacking the Church, care is taken to protect the monopoly! We do not want a pedagogy that would train man for himself, freeing him from all prejudice, all dogmatism, all transcendental hallucination. We would fear, if the spirit of youth became free, that there would no longer be employment for the geniuses who arrogate to themselves the government of the virile age. The depravity of the child is the pledge of the servility of the adult.

I will deal with industrial education in the Sixth Study.

CHAPITRE IV.

Man in nature.

XXIX

Hitherto we have considered the mores of humanity as forming a separate section in the constitution of the universe.

But reason says, and this is one of the finest intuitions of modern philosophy, that human morality is an integral part of the universal order; so that, in spite of discordances, more apparent than real, which science must learn to reconcile, the laws of the one are also those of the other.

From this higher point of view, man and nature, the world of liberty and the world of fatality, form a harmonic whole: matter and spirit agree to constitute humanity and all that surrounds it from the same elements, subject to the same laws.

Indissoluble monument, of which the universe provides the foundations, of which the Earth is the pedestal, and Man the statue.

CHAPITRE IV.

Man in nature.

XXVII. — Hitherto we have considered the mores of humanity as forming a separate section in the constitution of the universe.

But reason says, and this is one of the finest intuitions of modern philosophy, that human morality is an integral part of the universal order; so that, in spite of discordances, more apparent than real, which science must learn to reconcile, the laws of the one are also those of the other.

From this higher point of view, man and nature, the world of liberty and the world of fatality, form a harmonic whole: matter and spirit agree to constitute humanity and all that surrounds it from the same elements, subject to the same laws. Indissoluble monument, of which the universe provides the foundations, of which the Earth is the pedestal, and Man the statue.

XXX

 

Applied to the economy and to justice, this way of looking at things leads to solutions that are as important as they are unexpected.

Without examining whether the different races originally issued from the same stock, how then, under the influence of the climate, they received their respective physiognomies, it is certain at least that each of them can and must be regarded as native to the soil where it was found, neither more nor less than the plants that grow there and the animals that live there.

Through this indigeneity, the man and the earth become immanent to each other, I mean, not chained like the serf and the glebe, but endowed with the same qualities, the same energies, and if I dare say, of the same consciousness.

This is expressed by this principle of economy and law, for which there is no longer any need to exhaust the resources of controversy: The land belongs to the race that was born there, no other being able to give better in the manner it demands. The Caucasian was never able to survive in Egypt; our northern races do not succeed better in Algeria; the Anglo-Saxon withers in America or becomes Redskin. As for crossings, where they can take place, far from destroying the native population, they only refresh it, give it more tone and vigor: we know today that bloods mingle, but do not merge, and always one of the two races ends up returning to its type and absorbing the other.

From this kinship of race and soil, the foundation of all collective territorial possession, it is easy to deduce individual possession, subject moreover to much more complicated conditions than national possession.

Finally, collective and individual possession leads to a third principle, glimpsed rather than defined by the ancient legislators, sacrificed by all the utopians, which modern society is in the process of losing, while making desperate efforts to retain it, hereditary transmission.

Thus man and earth, like Adam and Eve in Genesis, can say to each other: Bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh! United by marriage, united in their destiny and in their mores, they produce their generations in common; and one does not know which, children of woman or products of the soil, can be reputed more children of the earth or children of humanity.

The Revolution was to give this ancient contract solemn form; but here, as everywhere, faith begins by putting man in contradiction with morals.

Doubtless you do not think, Monsignor, that it is by chance that the Church constantly encounters the Revolution on its way, and I do not believe it either. Et lux in tenebris lucet, says John. If the light radiated equally from everywhere, or the bodies gave no shadow and were translucent, how would we have the sensation of light? Likewise, without the divorce of consciousness, how would we have understood liberty? Without the fictions of theology and the exhibitions of worship, how would we have discovered morality? Without the Church, how would the Revolution have happened?

We will see that without Christianity we would never have understood the possession of the land, in the place of which we have put the divorce of property.

XXVIII. — Applied to the economy and to justice, this way of looking at things leads to solutions that are as important as they are unexpected.

Without examining whether the different races originally issued from the same stock, how then, under the influence of the climate, they received their respective physiognomies, it is certain at least that each of them can and must be regarded as native to the soil where it was found, neither more nor less than the plants that grow there and the animals that live there.

Through this indigeneity, the man and the earth become immanent to each other, I mean, not chained like the serf and the glebe, but endowed with the same qualities, the same energies, and if I dare say, of the same consciousness.

This is expressed by this principle of economy and law, for which there is no longer any need to exhaust the resources of controversy: The land belongs to the race that was born there, no other being able to give better in the manner it demands. The Caucasian was never able to survive in Egypt; our northern races do not succeed better in Algeria; the Anglo-Saxon withers in America or becomes Redskin. As for crossings, where they can take place, far from destroying the native population, they only refresh it, give it more tone and vigor: we know today that bloods mingle, but do not merge, and always one of the two races ends up returning to its type and absorbing the other.

From this kinship of race and soil, the foundation of all collective territorial possession, it is easy to deduce individual possession, subject moreover to much more complicated conditions than national possession.

Finally, collective and individual possession leads to a third principle, glimpsed rather than defined by the ancient legislators, sacrificed by all the utopians, which modern society is in the process of losing, while making desperate efforts to retain it, hereditary transmission.

Thus man and earth, like Adam and Eve in Genesis, can say to each other: Bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh! United by marriage, united in their destiny and in their mores, they produce their generations in common; and one does not know which, children of woman or products of the soil, can be reputed more children of the earth or children of humanity.

The Revolution was to give this ancient contract solemn form; but here, as everywhere, faith begins by putting man in contradiction with morals.

Doubtless you do not think, Monsignor, that it is by chance that the Church constantly encounters the Revolution on its way, and I do not believe it either. Et lux in tenebris lucet, says John. If the light radiated equally from everywhere, or the bodies gave no shadow and were translucent, how would we have the sensation of light? Likewise, without the divorce of consciousness, how would we have understood liberty? Without the fictions of theology and the exhibitions of worship, how would we have discovered morality? Without the Church, how would the Revolution have happened? We will see that without Christianity we would never have understood the possession of the land, in the place of which we have put the divorce of property.

XXXI

Christianity is the religion of universal separation, of endless division, of irreconcilable antagonism, of absolute isolation, of impossible abstractions.

After separating spirit from matter, as the God of Genesis separates dry from wet, light from shadow; after having distinguished souls from bodies, set the good principle against the bad, raised the sky above the earth, created in man a double consciousness, and instituted that system of hypocrisy which makes Tartuffe blessed and of Socrates a reprobate, here it separates man from nature, so that, as it has made him unhappy in his consciousness, it makes him fugitive and disinherited on earth.

The earth! How would the Christian love it, this sacred land, which the ancients surrounded with a worship full of tenderness and which is for us, in itself, almost all of nature? To love the earth, to possess it, to enjoy it in a legitimate union, with that vigor of love that belongs to the human soul, the Christian is incapable of it: that would be impiety, pantheism, a return to primitive idolatry, worse than that, a relapse into chaos, into the horror of polytheism itself.

Hatred of the outside world is essential to Christianity; it stems from the very dogma of creation, and from the antinomies that it brings with it.

For the Christian instructed by the Bible, the earth, like the sun, the moon and all the spheres, is a dead thing, vile matter, an instrument of the divine manifestations, but one which has nothing in common with the divine Being, nor consequently with the soul of man, its immortal daughter.

For such is the relationship that religion establishes between God and the universe; such it will be, by the necessary progress of the idea, between man and the earth. The revelation itself took care to tell us so. Why does the Decalogue forbid worshiping anything above in heaven, or below on earth, except because heaven and earth, and everything in them, are considered creatures, works of manufacture, consequently stripped of all proper life, of will, of intelligence, of substance itself? Basically, they are nothing.

What case then could we make for a nature that God defines, not as part of himself, but as the work of his fingers?

How could we see a mother, a nanny, a sister, a wife, when he barely deigns to touch her with the tip of his foot?

The earth belongs to Jehovah, says the psalmist, and all its furnishings: Domini est terra et plenitudo ejus. — And what does he make of this earth, O sublime champion of the greatness of God? Admire the Jew’s response: Jehovah, master of all the earth, has chosen a little corner there, Mount Moriah, to have a temple built there and to deliver his oracles there!… Quis ascendet in montem Domini?

Thus, between God and the visible universe, the relationship, according to the Christian, is that of an absolute master over his thing: this is the opposite of what is affirmed by fetishism, pantheism, animism and all the opinions that, without absolutely denying the Divinity, tend to make it enter into the general system of existences. There can be no question today of resuscitating these old theories, in the face of which Christianity was to appear as an antithesis; but any antithesis, being by itself only one side of the idea, must follow the fate of the thesis, save oneself with it or perish, which also implies that the Christian dogma is insufficient, and the morality that is deduced from it is false.

Why is man subject to death? It is, says the spiritualist, because he is composed of spirit and earth, the first destined for heaven, from whence it is drawn; the second to the inert mass from which it issued: Revertatur pulvis ad terram suam unde erat, et spiritus redeat ad Deum qui dedit illum. The earth is the primary cause of our mortality! What metaphysics!

Also the priesthood did not neglect anything to exalt the contempt of the believer towards this old mother: it felt that there was there, for its ghost, a rival to be feared.

Let the earth be cursed, says Genesis; let it sprout brambles and thorns for you. Those who have visited the places where biblical dogma once reigned can tell if the curse does not seem to have passed that way.

The earth is a vale of tears, which our most ardent desire must be to leave.

Ecclesiastes counts the joys with which nature fills man; it reviews the marvels of creation, and at each it repeats this lamentable cry: Vanity! And from vanity to vanity it concludes with this word, which gives the secret of its sadness: Remember your Creator, Memento Creatoris tui! He is not cheerful, the God of the Bible!

Christianity makes more of this desolation:

“Do you want to be perfect?” says Jesus, according to the first Gospel, to the rich young man. “Go, sell everything you have, give it to the poor, take up your cross, and follow me.”

The words Take up your cross, put in the mouth of Jesus before the cross had become the symbol of the sect, sufficiently indicate that it is not the Galilean who speaks, but the Church, the daughter of the Synagogue, of the pure race of Aaron and Ezra.

“Lay up,” he says elsewhere, “treasures in heaven, and not on earth; these fear neither rust nor thieves.”

This theory of detachment keeps coming back. The hatred of the rich, which attracted so many miserable people to the sect, has something to do with it, as James testifies, in his Catholic epistle, chap. v. But the basis of the doctrine is the very hatred of wealth, the hatred of well-being, the hatred of territorial possession, a hatred based on the theological separation of God and nature, soul and body.

“What is death!” exclaims the Pensez-y bien. “It is a general separation from all the things of this world. When you have come to this fatal moment, there will no longer be for you either pleasures, or burdens, or relatives, or riches, or greatnesses, or friends. (There will only be the priest!) If you had all the goods of the world at your disposal, all that will accompany you only to the grave. A shroud and a coffin is all you will take away from this life. Consider it well!”

The missionaries do not stop returning to this funeral picture, the conclusion of which is predicted:

“If death is to deprive us forever of the passing goods of this world, which we can only enjoy for a few years, why seek them so eagerly? Why possess them with so much attachment? Wouldn’t it be better to make them your sacrifice to God right now?”

That is to say, to the Church, is it not true, Monsignor? For what is bad for man is good for the Church: the first passes away like a shadow; the second neither enjoys nor dies, which is why she has received from God power and property over the whole globe.

You have to see with what stories the Pensez-y bien seasons its morality!

“The great Saladin, before dying, called him who carried before him his banner in battle, and commanded him to attach to the end of a spear the sheet in which he was to be buried, to raise it like the standard of death that triumphs over so great a prince, and to shout, showing it to the people: This is all that the great Saladin takes away from his conquests.”

If the great Saladin did that, I declare that he was no longer right in the head, otherwise one would have to admit that he had been nothing but an imbecile all his life. I pass over the examples of the great Charles V, the great Saint Francis of Borgia, the great Antiochus, the great Balthazar, the great Indian prince Josaphat, and a host of others, taken from the Comte de Valmont and from the fathers. These pitiful rhapsodies are sold with your approval, Monsignor, and with the approval of your colleagues: these are the lessons with which you fill the minds of the people, who, moreover, take it easy, and would have soon and forever abandoned you, if, destitute of capital, of credit, of property, of science, deprived of all the guarantees of nature and of society, in this system in which he is forced to live, despair did not bring them back incessantly to the feet of your mercy.

XXIX. — Christianity is the religion of universal separation, of endless division, of irreconcilable antagonism, of absolute isolation, of impossible abstractions.

After separating spirit from matter, as the God of Genesis separates dry from wet, light from shadow; after having distinguished souls from bodies, set the good principle against the bad, raised the sky above the earth, created in man a double consciousness, and instituted that system of hypocrisy which makes Tartuffe blessed and of Socrates a reprobate, here it separates man from nature, so that, as it has made him unhappy in his consciousness, it makes him fugitive and disinherited on earth.

The earth! How would the Christian love it, this sacred land, which the ancients surrounded with a worship full of tenderness and which is for us, in itself, almost all of nature? To love the earth, to possess it, to enjoy it in a legitimate union, with that vigor of love that belongs to the human soul, the Christian is incapable of it: that would be impiety, pantheism, a return to primitive idolatry, worse than that, a relapse into chaos, into the horror of polytheism itself.

Hatred of the outside world is essential to Christianity; it stems from the very dogma of creation, and from the antinomies that it brings with it.

For the Christian instructed by the Bible, the earth, like the sun, the moon and all the spheres, is a dead thing, vile matter, an instrument of the divine manifestations, but one which has nothing in common with the divine Being, nor consequently with the soul of man, its immortal daughter.

For such is the relationship that religion establishes between God and the universe; such it will be, by the necessary progress of the idea, between man and the earth. The revelation itself took care to tell us so. Why does the Decalogue forbid worshiping anything above in heaven, or below on earth, except because heaven and earth, and everything in them, are considered creatures, works of manufacture, consequently stripped of all proper life, of will, of intelligence, of substance itself? Basically, they are nothing.

What case then could we make for a nature that God defines, not as part of himself, but as the work of his fingers?

How could we see a mother, a nanny, a sister, a wife, when he barely deigns to touch her with the tip of his foot?

The earth belongs to Jehovah, says the psalmist, and all its furnishings: Domini est terra et plenitudo ejus. — And what does he make of this earth, O sublime champion of the greatness of God? Admire the Jew’s response: Jehovah, master of all the earth, has chosen a little corner there, Mount Moriah, to have a temple built there and to deliver his oracles there!… Quis ascendet in montem Domini?

Thus, between God and the visible universe, the relationship, according to the Christian, is that of an absolute master over his thing: this is the opposite of what is affirmed by fetishism, pantheism, animism and all the opinions that, without absolutely denying the Divinity, tend to make it enter into the general system of existences. There can be no question today of resuscitating these old theories, in the face of which Christianity was to appear as an antithesis; but any antithesis, being by itself only one side of the idea, must follow the fate of the thesis, save oneself with it or perish, which also implies that the Christian dogma is insufficient, and the morality that is deduced from it is false.

Why is man subject to death? It is, says the spiritualist, because he is composed of spirit and earth, the first destined for heaven, from whence it is drawn; the second to the inert mass from which it issued: Revertatur pulvis ad terram suam unde erat, et spiritus redeat ad Deum qui dedit illum. The earth is the primary cause of our mortality! What metaphysics!

Also the priesthood did not neglect anything to exalt the contempt of the believer towards this old mother: it felt that there was there, for its ghost, a rival to be feared.

Let the earth be cursed, says Genesis; let it sprout brambles and thorns for you. Those who have visited the places where biblical dogma once reigned can tell if the curse does not seem to have passed that way.

The earth is a vale of tears, which our most ardent desire must be to leave.

Ecclesiastes counts the joys with which nature fills man; it reviews the marvels of creation, and at each it repeats this lamentable cry: Vanity! And from vanity to vanity it concludes with this word, which gives the secret of its sadness: Remember your Creator, Memento Creatoris tui! He is not cheerful, the God of the Bible!

Christianity makes more of this desolation:

“Do you want to be perfect?” says Jesus, according to the first Gospel, to the rich young man. “Go, sell everything you have, give it to the poor, take up your cross, and follow me.”

The words Take up your cross, put in the mouth of Jesus before the cross had become the symbol of the sect, sufficiently indicate that it is not the Galilean who speaks, but the Church, the daughter of the Synagogue, of the pure race of Aaron and Ezra.

“Lay up,” he says elsewhere, “treasures in heaven, and not on earth; these fear neither rust nor thieves.”

This theory of detachment keeps coming back. The hatred of the rich, which attracted so many miserable people to the sect, has something to do with it, as James testifies, in his Catholic epistle, chap. v. But the basis of the doctrine is the very hatred of wealth, the hatred of well-being, the hatred of territorial possession, a hatred based on the theological separation of God and nature, soul and body.

“What is death!” exclaims the Pensez-y bien. “It is a general separation from all the things of this world. When you have come to this fatal moment, there will no longer be for you either pleasures, or burdens, or relatives, or riches, or greatnesses, or friends. (There will only be the priest!) If you had all the goods of the world at your disposal, all that will accompany you only to the grave. A shroud and a coffin is all you will take away from this life. Consider it well!”

The missionaries do not stop returning to this funeral picture, the conclusion of which is predicted:

“If death is to deprive us forever of the passing goods of this world, which we can only enjoy for a few years, why seek them so eagerly? Why possess them with so much attachment? Wouldn’t it be better to make them your sacrifice to God right now?”

That is to say, to the Church, is it not true, Monsignor? For what is bad for man is good for the Church: the first passes away like a shadow; the second neither enjoys nor dies, which is why she has received from God power and property over the whole globe.

You have to see with what stories the Pensez-y bien seasons its morality!

“The great Saladin, before dying, called him who carried before him his banner in battle, and commanded him to attach to the end of a spear the sheet in which he was to be buried, to raise it like the standard of death that triumphs over so great a prince, and to shout, showing it to the people: This is all that the great Saladin takes away from his conquests.”

If the great Saladin did that, I declare that he was no longer right in the head, otherwise one would have to admit that he had been nothing but an imbecile all his life. I pass over the examples of the great Charles V, the great Saint Francis of Borgia, the great Antiochus, the great Balthazar, the great Indian prince Josaphat, and a host of others, taken from the Comte de Valmont and from the fathers. These pitiful rhapsodies are sold with your approval, Monsignor, and with the approval of your colleagues: these are the lessons with which you fill the minds of the people, who, moreover, take it easy, and would have soon and forever abandoned you, if, destitute of capital, of credit, of property, of science, deprived of all the guarantees of nature and of society, in this system in which he is forced to live, despair did not bring them back incessantly to the feet of your mercy.

XXXII

Is the earth, says the Church to her children, worth your quarreling for its possession? Does it deserve your love? Men of one day! What does it matter to you that during your short life this scrap is inscribed under your name or under the name of another? What is there in this mud, in this rock, in these bushes, in this gorse, that charms you? Will you eat it, this vile matter? Will you make it your mistress, your queen? Finally, what is there in common between man, a spiritual being, made to love and serve God, and this earth, fit at most to produce grass for your cattle, hard bread for your stomach, and which will one day cover your corpse?

And, with this reasoning of Seneca, man has lost the sense of nature; he has moved away from it as from an impure slime. Instead of this innate love that every living being has for the things placed in its use and habituation, artificial feelings have developed, strange mores; and for having insulted nature, we have seen intelligence and justice fail more and more in ourselves.

Intelligence first.

The Christian philosopher is incapable, as long as he remains in the faith, of rising to an exact notion of order in the universe, and consequently of science.

From the principle, in fact, that the world was created, it follows that it is created for a supernatural end, the end of being having to be in relation to the principle of being and its complementary expression. Consequently, any philosophy that would seek the end of the universe in itself would be in contradiction with the spiritualist principle, so boldly formulated by Descartes, and of which the orthodox faith is only the development.

For the theologian, the world is and cannot be anything other than a monument erected by the Supreme Being to his own glory, an incessant witness to his existence; it is a book on each page of which he reads the name of God. Such is the conception of Bossuet, of Fénelon, of Bonnet, and of all those who, starting from the idea of a Demiurge and placing the principle or the efficient cause of the world outside the world, render themselves powerless to find in the world either reason or end, and are obliged, from every point of view, to relate them to God. Whence the result that the world must be considered as a fragile and transient whole, which survives momentarily only because the breath of God nourishes it and his hand prevents it from falling. To suppose, as Laplace has demonstrated, that the universe subsists by itself, and that to produce its marvels the interplay of a small number of elements is sufficient, is to cause the Divinity to disappear, and with it religion.

From this strange idea of an ultra-worldly finality of the world, or of the non-existence in itself and for itself of the universe, came the opinion of the end of the world, which Ovid, by an ingenious fiction, makes arise for the first time in the brain of Jupiter. In fact, the Demiurge should draw the consequences of its principle itself, and use the rights guaranteed to it by its title. Jupiter, says the poet, seeing the crimes of men, prepared, in concert with the gods, to strike them down. But he reflected that he ran the risk of setting fire to the sky; that, moreover, a day would come when, destinies being accomplished, the machine of the world was to break and be delivered to the flames; consequently, instead of fire, he contented himself with using water. Those whom Providence does not know how to govern, it drowns: was it worth changing religion to turn this comical legend into an article of faith?

Esse quoque in fatis reminiscitur affore tempus
Quo mare, que tellus correptaque regia cœli
Ardeat, et mundi moles operosa laboret.

XXX. — Is the earth, says the Church to her children, worth your quarreling for its possession? Does it deserve your love? Men of one day! What does it matter to you that during your short life this scrap is inscribed under your name or under the name of another? What is there in this mud, in this rock, in these bushes, in this gorse, that charms you? Will you eat it, this vile matter? Will you make it your mistress, your queen? Finally, what is there in common between man, a spiritual being, made to love and serve God, and this earth, fit at most to produce grass for your cattle, hard bread for your stomach, and which will one day cover your corpse?

And, with this reasoning of Seneca, man has lost the sense of nature; he has moved away from it as from an impure slime. Instead of this innate love that every living being has for the things placed in its use and habituation, artificial feelings have developed, strange mores; and for having insulted nature, we have seen intelligence and justice fail more and more in ourselves.

Intelligence first.

The Christian philosopher is incapable, as long as he remains in the faith, of rising to an exact notion of order in the universe, and consequently of science.

From the principle, in fact, that the world was created, it follows that it is created for a supernatural end, the end of being having to be in relation to the principle of being and its complementary expression. Consequently, any philosophy that would seek the end of the universe in itself would be in contradiction with the spiritualist principle, so boldly formulated by Descartes, and of which the orthodox faith is only the development.

For the theologian, the world is and cannot be anything other than a monument erected by the Supreme Being to his own glory, an incessant witness to his existence; it is a book on each page of which he reads the name of God. Such is the conception of Bossuet, of Fénelon, of Bonnet, and of all those who, starting from the idea of a Demiurge and placing the principle or the efficient cause of the world outside the world, render themselves powerless to find in the world either reason or end, and are obliged, from every point of view, to relate them to God. Whence the result that the world must be considered as a fragile and transient whole, which survives momentarily only because the breath of God nourishes it and his hand prevents it from falling. To suppose, as Laplace has demonstrated, that the universe subsists by itself, and that to produce its marvels the interplay of a small number of elements is sufficient, is to cause the Divinity to disappear, and with it religion.

From this strange idea of an ultra-worldly finality of the world, or of the non-existence in itself and for itself of the universe, came the opinion of the end of the world, which Ovid, by an ingenious fiction, makes arise for the first time in the brain of Jupiter. In fact, the Demiurge should draw the consequences of its principle itself, and use the rights guaranteed to it by its title. Jupiter, says the poet, seeing the crimes of men, prepared, in concert with the gods, to strike them down. But he reflected that he ran the risk of setting fire to the sky; that, moreover, a day would come when, destinies being accomplished, the machine of the world was to break and be delivered to the flames; consequently, instead of fire, he contented himself with using water. Those whom Providence does not know how to govern, it drowns: was it worth changing religion to turn this comical legend into an article of faith? The verses of Ovid are very beautiful:

Esse quoque in fatis reminiscitur affore tempus
Quo mare, quo tellus eorreptaque regia cœli
Ardeat, et mundi moles operosa laboret.

XXXIII

But what is only absurdity in philosophy, transported into the order of Justice, becomes depravity. Such dogma, such morality: as the earth is in the sight of God, it will be for the legislator.

Of all the distinctions engendered by the theological principle, perhaps the most disastrous is that which, after having separated in the civil right possession from property, has claimed to pursue this distinction in practice to its final consequences.

Quiritarian right made the Roman republic perish: it is this right that threatens to engulf modern society.

It is this eminent domain, imitated from the divine omnipotence, which, founded solely on the will, is preserved by the will, transmitted by the will and can only be lost through the lack of will; it is this right to use and abuse, which the century strives to retain and with which it can no longer live, that produces in our day the desertion of the land and the desolation of society.

The metaphysics of property has devastated the French soil, decapitated the mountains, dried up the springs, changed the rivers into torrents, rendered the valleys stony: all with the authorization of the government. It has made agriculture odious to the peasant, and even more odious to the country.

Not that exploitation stops: the necessity of subsistence will always put at the mercy of the modern exploiter more workers than the ancient property had slaves; and agriculture, becoming industrialized day by day, will know how to take from the soil, cultivated even by servile hands, all that it can give.

I mean that man, rich as well as poor, owner as well as colonist, wholeheartedly detaches himself from the earth. Existences are, so to speak, in the air: we no longer cling to the ground, as before, because we inhabit it, because we cultivate it, because we breathe its emanations, because we live of his substance, because it was received from our fathers with their blood, and because it will be transmitted in our race; because we took from it our body, our temperament, our instincts, our ideas, our character, and couldn’t part with it without dying. One clings to the ground as to a tool, less than that, to an inscription of rents by means of which one perceives each year, on the common mass, a certain income. As for that profound feeling for nature, that love of the soil that only rustic life gives, it has died out. A sensitivity to convention particular to blasé societies, to which nature no longer reveals itself except in the novel, the living room, the theater, has taken its place. If a few cases of nostalgia are still observed, it is among good bourgeois who, on the strength of their serials or by doctor’s prescription, had gone to retire in the country. After a few weeks they find themselves exiled: the fields are odious to them; the city and death claim them.

This split between man and the earth, whose first cause is in theological dogmatism and its interminable antinomies, is manifested by the most diverse, often even the most opposed practices: agglomeration and fragmentation, mortmain, colonization, emphyteusis, renting, sharecropping, abandonment of crops, spontaneous depopulation, common grazing, alternately authorized and prohibited, conversion of arable land into pasture, deforestation, industrialism, mortgage, mobilization, limited partnership.

All the economists have remarked on this: the scourge that once ruined Italy, the demoralization of landed possession, rages over modern nations with an increase of malignity. Man no longer loves the earth: owner, he sells it, he rents it, he divides it into shares, he prostitutes it, he traffics in it, he speculates in it; — farmer, he torments it, he violates it, he exhausts it, he sacrifices it to his impatient cupidity, he never unites with it.

It is because we have lost the taste for nature: as the magpie loves the gold it steals, so our generation loves the fields and the woods. They are sought after as a cash deposit, bucolic fantasy and asylum; or else for the pride of property, to say: This is mine! But these powerful attractions, this community of life that nature has placed between itself and man, we no longer feel: the Christian sirocco, passing over our souls, has withered them.

Antaeus is dead, the giant, son of the Earth, who, each time he touched his mother, regained new strength; he was strangled by the Brigand, and his sons curse the soil to which they are attached. Who will raise Antaeus? Who will deliver his children?

XXXI. — But what is only absurdity in philosophy, transported into the order of Justice, becomes depravity. Such dogma, such morality: as the earth is in the sight of God, it will be for the legislator.

Of all the distinctions engendered by the theological principle, perhaps the most disastrous is that which has separated possession from property in civil right.

The quiritarian right of property, pursued to its last consequences, and independent of any effective possession, caused the Roman Republic to perish: it is this right that threatens to engulf modern society.

It is this eminent domain, imitated from the divine omnipotence, which, founded solely on the will, is preserved by the will, transmitted by the will and can only be lost through the lack of will; it is this right to use and abuse, which the century strives to retain and with which it can no longer live, that produces in our day the desertion of the land and the social desolation.

The metaphysics of property has devastated the French soil, decapitated the mountains, dried up the springs, changed the rivers into torrents, rendered the valleys stony: all with the authorization of the government. It has made agriculture odious to the peasant, and even more odious to the country; it drives depopulation.

Not that exploitation stops altogether: growing pauperism will always put at the mercy of the modern exploiter more workers than ancient property had slaves; and agriculture, becoming industrialized day by day, finds in the machine the means to supplement servitude.

I mean that man, rich as well as poor, owner as well as colonist, wholeheartedly detaches himself from the earth. Existences are, so to speak, in the air: we no longer cling to the ground, as before, because we inhabit it, because we cultivate it, because we breathe its emanations, because we live of his substance, because it was received from our fathers with their blood, and because it will be transmitted in our race; because we took from it our body, our temperament, our instincts, our ideas, our character, and couldn’t part with it without dying. One clings to the ground as to a tool, less than that, to an inscription of rents by means of which one perceives each year, on the common mass, a certain income. As for that profound feeling for nature, that love of the soil that only rustic life gives, it has died out. A sensitivity to convention particular to blasé societies, to which nature no longer reveals itself except in the novel, the living room, the theater, has taken its place. If a few cases of nostalgia are still observed, it is among good bourgeois who, on the strength of their serials or by doctor’s prescription, had gone to retire in the country. After a few weeks they find themselves exiled: the fields are odious to them; the city and death claim them.

This split between man and the earth, whose first cause is in theological dogmatism and its interminable antinomies, is manifested by the most diverse, often even the most opposed practices: agglomeration and fragmentation, mortmain, colonization, emphyteusis, renting, sharecropping, abandonment of crops, spontaneous depopulation, common grazing, alternately authorized and prohibited, conversion of arable land into pasture, deforestation, industrialism, mortgage, mobilization, limited partnership.

All the economists have remarked on this: the scourge that once ruined Italy, the demoralization of landed possession, rages over modern nations with an increase of malignity. Man no longer loves the earth: owner, he sells it, he rents it, he divides it into shares, he prostitutes it, he traffics in it, he speculates in it; — farmer, he torments it, he violates it, he exhausts it, he sacrifices it to his impatient cupidity, he never unites with it.

It is because we have lost the taste for nature: as the magpie loves the gold it steals, so our generation loves the fields and the woods. They are sought after as a cash deposit, bucolic fantasy and asylum; or else for the pride of property, to say: This is mine! But these powerful attractions, this community of life that nature has placed between itself and man, we no longer feel: the Christian sirocco, passing over our souls, has withered them.

Antaeus is dead, the giant, son of the Earth, who, each time he touched his mother, regained new strength; he was strangled by the Brigand, and his sons curse the soil to which they are attached. Who will raise Antaeus? Who will deliver his children?

XXXIV

And yet there is in the heart of man, for this nature that envelops him, an intimate love, the first of all; a love that I don’t undertake to explain — who will explain love to me? — but a real love, and one that, like all true sentiments, also had its mythology.

What, I pray you, is this worship addressed to Heaven, to the stars, to the Earth above all, this great mother of things, magna parens rerum, Cybele, Tellus, Vesta, Rhée, Ops, if not a love song to Nature?

What are these nymphs of the mountains, of the forests, of the fountains, these fairies, these undines, and all this fantastic world, if it is not still love?

Personification of natural forces, you will say, idolatry! So be it; but by personifying the forces or, what comes to the same thing, by lending a soul to each power of nature, man only manifests his own soul and expresses his love. Idolatry, the worship of forms, is precisely morality. Why is this Cybele so good, so good that she allows herself to be loved by shepherds? Why are these nymphs so beautiful, these geniuses so charming, if it is not because the human soul creates them, like the God of the Sunday prayer, from the purest of its affections?

Now, the love of nature does not pass away, believe me, with mythology, any more than the moral sense is extinguished with the prayer in the heart of the philosopher, any more than the cult of beauty withers in the presence of the corpse in the soul of the anatomist.

When M. de Humboldt measured the Chimborazo, do you believe that this figure of 6,000 meters—a league and a half, no more—destroyed in him the feeling of the infinite that he felt at the sight of the Cordilleras?

When Linnaeus, de Jussieu, by a patient analysis, invented their classifications, do you think that they remained insensitive to this imperishable beauty that, with each spring, bursts with so much profusion in the plants?

All these men, I tell you, Monseigneur, are lovers, they are idolaters; and it is because they are idolaters that they are moral; it is because they began with idolatry that they carried the cult of science so high, and that grateful humanity places them in their turn among the geniuses and the gods.

But you, iconoclast by principle, insulter of eternal forms, blasphemer of ideas, burner of books, how could you recognize this consanguinity of man and nature, the necessary condition, the first degree of all morality?

For if, as I said at the beginning of this chapter, there is no community of essence between man and the world; if our soul, radically distinct from matter, is to be conceived as a simple and therefore amorphous thing, of which movement in all directions is the only attribute, it follows that man, reduced to pure freedom, cannot must allow himself to be conditioned by any law; that, like God himself, who, before producing by his omnipotence the matter of the universe, had produced the laws by his intelligence, he has no morality except his good pleasure; consequently that the condition of man on earth is that of a tyrant, or rather, since he cannot destroy the work of God, of a captive and fallen soul; that thus his person has no dignity save that which he receives from his religion; that, moreover, as the domination of pure spirit over inert and passive matter is absolute, there are no authentic and obligatory forms either for the economic order or for the political order, and that the natural state of societies is arbitrariness.

XXXII. — And yet there is in the heart of man, for this nature that envelops him, an intimate love, the first of all; a love that I don’t undertake to explain — who will explain love to me? — but a real love, and one that, like all true sentiments, also had its mythology.

What, I pray you, is this worship addressed to Heaven, to the stars, to the Earth above all, this great mother of things, magna parens rerum, Cybele, Tellus, Vesta, Rhée, Ops, if not a love song to Nature?

What are these nymphs of the mountains, of the forests, of the fountains, these fairies, these undines, and all this fantastic world, if it is not still love?

Personification of natural forces, you will say, idolatry! So be it; but by personifying the forces or, what comes to the same thing, by lending a soul to each power of nature, man only manifests his own soul and expresses his love. Idolatry, the worship of forms, is precisely morality. Why is this Cybele so good, so good that she allows herself to be loved by shepherds? Why are these nymphs so beautiful, these geniuses so charming, if it is not because the human soul creates them, like the God of the Sunday prayer, from the purest of its affections?

Now, the love of nature does not pass away, believe me, with mythology, any more than the moral sense is extinguished with the prayer in the heart of the philosopher, any more than the cult of beauty withers in the presence of the corpse in the soul of the anatomist.

When M. de Humboldt measured the Chimborazo, do you believe that this figure of 6,000 meters—a league and a half, no more—destroyed in him the feeling of the infinite that he felt at the sight of the Cordilleras?

When Linnaeus, de Jussieu, by a patient analysis, invented their classifications, do you think that they remained insensitive to this imperishable beauty that, with each spring, bursts with so much profusion in the plants?

All these men, I tell you, Monseigneur, are lovers, they are idolaters; and it is because they are idolaters that they are moral; it is because they began with idolatry that they carried the cult of science so high, and that grateful humanity places them in their turn among the geniuses and the gods.

But you, iconoclast by principle, insulter of eternal forms, blasphemer of ideas, burner of books, how could you recognize this consanguinity of man and nature, the necessary condition, the first degree of all morality?

For if, as I said at the beginning of this chapter, there is no community of essence between man and the world; if our soul, radically distinct from matter, is to be conceived as a simple and therefore amorphous thing, of which movement in all directions is the only attribute, it follows that man, reduced to pure freedom, cannot must allow himself to be conditioned by any law; that, like God himself, who, before producing by his omnipotence the matter of the universe, had produced the laws by his intelligence, he has no morality except his good pleasure; consequently that the condition of man on earth is that of a tyrant, or rather, since he cannot destroy the work of God, of a captive and fallen soul; that thus his person has no dignity save that which he receives from his religion; that, moreover, as the domination of pure spirit over inert and passive matter is absolute, there are no authentic and obligatory forms either for the economic order or for the political order, and that the natural state of societies is arbitrariness.

XXXV

Must it be I who give you such lessons today? Must it be that, after having shown by what law of equilibrium property is legitimized, I still have to defend, from the point of view of psychology, this possession of the earth without which the life of man is no longer, like property itself, anything but an abstraction!

Nothing metaphysical, unreal, purely abstract and nominal can form part of the practical and positive order of human things. This is clearly deduced from our axioms, and the Revolution put an end to all these fictions of transcendence.

A pure conception of the self, haughty expression of its absolutism, property, as we have said (Third Study, ch . vi ), is indispensable to the social economy; but it only enters into human commerce on two conditions; one, to submit to the common balance of values and services; the other, to realize itself in an effective possession. Without this condition, it would remain immoral.

Oh what! The social power — that power of collectivity that, under the mystical names of monarchy, aristocracy, government, authority, etc., has been taken for so long, sometimes for an action of heaven, sometimes for a fiction of the mind — we have found it to be a real thing; Economics, we have recognized as a real science; Justice itself has appeared to us as a reality: it is only on this condition of realism that we have been able to lay the foundations of right and morals, and free ourselves from ancient corruption, and property would remain in the state of a ghost, would still be just a word, serving to express the wantonness of the heart and mind, a negation!… It is inadmissible.

I therefore say that, if property is, as it ought to be, something real, it becomes so by this possession, which the Code and all the jurisprudence clearly distinguish from property; a possession that I have always defended, and which has nothing in common with the old Cainite right, born of a false regard from Jehovah. It is by possession that man puts himself in communion with nature, while by ownership he separates himself from it; in the same way that man and woman are in communion through domestic habit, while sensuality keeps them in isolation.

For it is not enough, for the success of the plowman and for the happiness of his life, that he has a general knowledge of his art, of the different natures of the ground, and of the chemical elements that compose it; even this title of proprietor, so dear to pride, is not enough for him; he must know for a long time, by patrimonial tradition and daily practice, the land he cultivates; that he holds it, if I dare say so, in the manner of plants, by the root, by the heart and by the blood: just as it is not enough for a man, to live with a woman, to know the physiology of sex and of to bear the title of husband or servant; it is necessary that he assimilates his wife, that he knows her by heart, that he possesses her instinctively, so that, present or absent, she thinks only of him, reflects only his action and his will. Why can’t I evoke here the testimony of those millions of rustic and simple souls, who, without asking where their health and joy come from, live in the affection of nature and do not suspect that the Catechism and the Code are precisely the two enemies who constantly work to make them lose it!

You studied psychology at the seminary, Monsignor; so you know nothing about the soul of the people. You did not see it, this soul, spring from the earth, like the seed sown by the winds of autumn, which rises in the spring; you have not followed, like me, its efflorescence: for you have not lived with the people, you are not of them, you are not them. Permit me, then, to cite to you, in my person, a sample of that existence that the Church, for eighteen centuries, has endeavored to stifle under her whitewash. It’s more interesting, I assure you, than your organs, your bells, your painted windows, your vaulted arches and all your architecture.

XXXIII. — Must it be I who give you such lessons today? Must it be that, after having shown by what law of equilibrium property is legitimized, I still have to defend, from the point of view of psychology, this possession of the earth without which the life of man is no longer, like property itself, anything but an abstraction!

Nothing metaphysical, unreal, purely abstract and nominal can form part of the practical and positive order of human things. This is clearly deduced from our axioms, and the Revolution put an end to all these fictions of transcendence.

A pure conception of the self, haughty expression of its absolutism, property, as we have said (Third Study, ch . vi ), is indispensable to the social economy; but it only enters into human commerce on two conditions; one, to submit to the common balance of values and services; the other, to realize itself in an effective possession. Without this double condition, it would remain immoral.

Oh what! The social power — that power of collectivity that, under the mystical names of monarchy, aristocracy, government, authority, etc., has been taken for so long, sometimes for an action of heaven, sometimes for a fiction of the mind — we have found it to be a real thing; Economics, we have recognized as a real science; Justice itself has appeared to us as a reality: it is only on this condition of realism that we have been able to lay the foundations of right and morals, and free ourselves from ancient corruption, and property would remain in the state of a ghost, would still be just a word, serving to express the wantonness of the heart and mind, a negation! It is inadmissible.

I therefore say that, if property is, as it ought to be, something real, it becomes so by this possession, which the Code and all the jurisprudence clearly distinguish from property; a possession that I have always defended, and which has nothing in common with the old Cainite right, born of a false regard from Jehovah. It is by possession that man puts himself in communion with nature, while by ownership he separates himself from it; in the same way that man and woman are in communion through domestic habit, while sensuality keeps them in isolation.

For it is not enough, for the success of the plowman and for the happiness of his life, that he has a general knowledge of his art, of the different natures of the ground, and of the chemical elements that compose it; even this title of proprietor, so dear to pride, is not enough for him; he must know for a long time, by patrimonial tradition and daily practice, the land he cultivates; that he holds it, if I dare say so, in the manner of plants, by the root, by the heart and by the blood: just as it is not enough for a man, to live with a woman, to know the physiology of sex and of to bear the title of husband or servant; it is necessary that he assimilates his wife, that he knows her by heart, that he possesses her instinctively, so that, present or absent, she thinks only of him, reflects only his action and his will. Why can’t I evoke here the testimony of those millions of rustic and simple souls, who, without asking where their health and joy come from, live in the affection of nature and do not suspect that the Catechism and the Code are precisely the two enemies who constantly work to make them lose it!

You studied psychology at the seminary, Monsignor; so you know nothing about the soul of the people. You did not see it, this soul, spring from the earth, like the seed sown by the winds of autumn, which rises in the spring; you have not followed, like me, its efflorescence: for you have not lived with the people, you are not of them, you are not them. Permit me, then, to cite to you, in my person, a sample of that existence that the Church, for eighteen centuries, has endeavored to stifle under her whitewash. It’s more interesting, I assure you, than your organs, your bells, your painted windows, your vaulted arches and all your architecture.

XXXVI

My biographer addresses me with such a strange reproach:

“In college, as later in the workshop, he refuses to share his classmates’ games, stays apart, disdains friends, indulges, between working hours, in solitary walks, etc.”

No doubt I was already contemplating the destruction of the family and property. Reactionary stupidity having made of me, in 1848, an ogre, it was necessary to find me an ogre’s youth, and I would not be surprised if there were people ready to swear that they knew me as an ogre.

In fact, I may have seemed, from twelve to twenty, a little shy. The fault was not with my heart, but with the Christian system, which, perverting the notions, atrophying the instincts, disguises the man and imposes on him artificial feelings, in the place of those that nature gave him.

How easy it would be for me, by erasing what malice has put in false colors in this painting of my youth, to pose as a beardless philosopher, fleeing the corruption of cities and meditating in solitude on the miseries of humanity!

The truth is much less favorable to me; that is why it is more instructive, and why I want to reestablish it.

Until the age of twelve, my life was spent almost entirely in the fields, occupied sometimes with small rustic jobs, sometimes tending the cows. I was a herdsman for five years. I don’t know of an existence that is both more contemplative and more realistic, more opposed to that absurd spiritualism that forms the basis of education and of Christian life, than that of the man of the fields. In the city, I felt out of place. The workman is nothing like a countryman; patois aside, he does not speak the same language, he does not adore the same gods; one feels that he has gone through the polisher; he lodges between the barracks and the seminary, he touches the Academy and the town hall. What an exile for me when I had to attend college classes, where I lived only by the brain, where, among other simplicities, they claimed to initiate me into the nature I was leaving, by narrations and themes!

The peasant is the least romantic, the least idealistic of men. Immersed in reality, he is the opposite of the dilettante, and will never give thirty sous for the most magnificent landscape painting. He loves nature as the child loves his nurse, less concerned with her charms, the sentiment of which is not foreign to him, however, than with her fecundity. It is not he who will fall in ecstasy in front of the countryside of Rome, its majestic lines and its superb horizon; like the prosaic Montaigne, he will see only the desert, the pestilential puddles and the malaria. He does not imagine that there is poetry and beauty where his soul discovers only famine, disease and death: in agreement in this with the cantor of the Georgics, who, while celebrating the richness of the countryside, doubtless did not imagine, with the lanky rhymers of our time, that it was its anti-poetic element. The peasant loves nature for its powerful breasts, for the life with which it abounds. He does not touch it with an artist’s eye; he caresses it with both arms, like the lover of the Song of Songs: Veni, et inebriemur uberibus; he eats it. Read Michelet recounting the round of the peasant, on Sunday, around his land: what intimate enjoyment! What gazes!… It took me time and study, I admit, to find pleasure in these descriptions of sunrise and sunset, moonlight and the four seasons. I was twenty-five when the tutor of the Emile, the prototype of the genre, still seemed to me, as regards the feeling of nature, only the thin son of a watchmaker. Those who speak so well enjoy little; they resemble the tasters who, to appreciate the wine, take it in the silver and look at it through the crystal.

What a pleasure it used to be to roll in the tall grass, which I would have liked to graze like my cows; to run barefoot on level paths, along hedges; to sink my legs, en rechaussant (rebinant) les verts turquies, in the deep and fresh earth! More than once, on warm June mornings, I happened to take off my clothes and take a dew bath on the lawn. What do you say to this muddy existence, Monsignor? It makes mediocre Christians, I assure you. I could barely distinguish the self from the non-self then. The self, it was everything I could touch with my hand, reach with my eyes, and which was good for me; the non-self was all that could harm or resist me. The idea of my personality was confused in my head with that of my well-being, and I was careful not to look for the unextended and immaterial substance underneath. All day I filled myself with blackberries, rampions, meadow salsify, green peas, poppy seeds, grilled corn cobs, berries of all kinds, sloes, wounds, alisises, cherries, eglantines, lambrusques wild fruits; I gorged myself on a mass of raw vegetables enough to kill a nicely brought up petty bourgeois, which produced no other effect on my stomach than to give me a formidable appetite in the evening. Nature does not harm those who belong to it.

Alas! I could no longer make these superb pecks today. Under the pretext of preventing damage, the administration had all the fruit trees in the forests destroyed. A hermit would no longer find his life in our civilized woods. The poor are forbidden to pick up even acorns and beechnuts; forbidden to cut the grass of the paths for their goats. Go poor folk, go to Africa and Oregon:

……. Veteres migrate coloni !

What showers have I endured! How many times, soaked to the skin, have I dried my clothes on my body, in the breeze or in the sun! How many baths taken at all hours, summer in the river, winter in the springs! I climbed trees; I crammed myself into caves; I caught frogs on the run, crayfish in their holes, at the risk of encountering an ugly salamander; then I kept grilling my game over the coals. There are, from man to beast, to all that exists, secret sympathies and hatreds of which civilization takes away the feeling. I loved my cows, but with unequal affection; I had preferences for a hen, for a tree, for a rock. I had been told that the lizard is a friend of man, and I sincerely believed it. But I have always fought hard against snakes, toads and caterpillars. — What had they done to me? No offence. I do not know ; but the experience of humans made me hate them more and more.

So I nearly wept while reading the farewells of Philoctetes, so well translated from Sophocles by Fénelon:

“O happy day, sweet light, you finally show yourself, after so many years! I obey you, I leave after having greeted these places. Farewell, dear lair! Farewell, nymphs of these damp meadows! I will no longer hear the dull sound of the waves of this sea. Farewell, shore, where so many times I have suffered the insults of the air! Farewell, promontory, where Echo so often repeated my moans! Farewell, sweet fountains, which were so bitter to me! Farewell, O land of Lemnos! let me go happily, since I go where the will of the gods and of my friends calls me.”

Those who, having never experienced these powerful illusions, accuse the superstition of country people, sometimes make me pity them. I was grown up and still believed in nymphs and fairies; and if I don’t miss those beliefs, I have a right to complain about how I was made to lose them.

XXXIV. — My biographer addresses me with this strange reproach:

“In college, as later in the workshop, he refuses to share his classmates’ games, stays apart, disdains friends, indulges, between working hours, in solitary walks, etc.”

No doubt I was already contemplating the destruction of the family and property. Reactionary stupidity having made of me, in 1848, an ogre, it was necessary to find me an ogre’s youth, and I would not be surprised if there were people ready to swear that they knew me as an ogre.

In fact, I may have seemed, from twelve to twenty, a little shy. The fault was not with my heart, but with the Christian system, which, perverting the notions, atrophying the instincts, disguises the man and imposes on him artificial feelings, in the place of those that nature gave him.

How easy it would be for me, by erasing what malice has put in false colors in this painting of my youth, to pose as a beardless philosopher, fleeing the corruption of cities and meditating in solitude on the miseries of humanity!

The truth is much less favorable to me; that is why it is more instructive, and why I want to reestablish it.

Until the age of twelve, my life was spent almost entirely in the fields, occupied sometimes with small rustic jobs, sometimes tending the cows. I was a herdsman for five years. I don’t know of an existence that is both more contemplative and more realistic, more opposed to that absurd spiritualism that forms the basis of education and of Christian life, than that of the man of the fields. In the city, I felt out of place. The workman is nothing like a countryman; patois aside, he does not speak the same language, he does not adore the same gods; one feels that he has gone through the polisher; he lodges between the barracks and the seminary, he touches the Academy and the town hall. What an exile for me when I had to attend college classes, where I lived only by the brain, where, among other simplicities, they claimed to initiate me into the nature I was leaving, by narrations and themes!

The peasant is the least romantic, the least idealistic of men. Immersed in reality, he is the opposite of the dilettante, and will never give thirty sous for the most magnificent landscape painting. He loves nature as the child loves his nurse, less concerned with her charms, the sentiment of which is not foreign to him, however, than with her fecundity. It is not he who will fall in ecstasy in front of the countryside of Rome, its majestic lines and its superb horizon; like the prosaic Montaigne, he will see only the desert, the pestilential puddles and the malaria. He does not imagine that there is poetry and beauty where his soul discovers only famine, disease and death: in agreement in this with the cantor of the Georgics, who, while celebrating the richness of the countryside, doubtless did not imagine, with the lanky rhymers of our time, that it was its anti-poetic element. The peasant loves nature for its powerful breasts, for the life with which it abounds. He does not touch it with an artist’s eye; he caresses it with both arms, like the lover of the Song of Songs: Veni, et inebriemur uberibus; he eats it. Read Michelet recounting the round of the peasant, on Sunday, around his land: what intimate enjoyment! What gazes!… It took me time and study, I admit, to find pleasure in these descriptions of sunrise and sunset, moonlight and the four seasons. I was twenty-five when the tutor of the Emile, the prototype of the genre, still seemed to me, as regards the feeling of nature, only the thin son of a watchmaker. Those who speak so well enjoy little; they resemble the tasters who, to appreciate the wine, take it in the silver and look at it through the crystal.

What a pleasure it used to be to roll in the tall grass, which I would have liked to graze like my cows; to run barefoot on level paths, along hedges; to sink my legs, en rechaussant (rebinant) les verts turquies, in the deep and fresh earth! More than once, on warm June mornings, I happened to take off my clothes and take a dew bath on the lawn. What do you say to this muddy existence, Monsignor? It makes mediocre Christians, I assure you. I could barely distinguish the self from the non-self then. The self, it was everything I could touch with my hand, reach with my eyes, and which was good for me; the non-self was all that could harm or resist me. The idea of my personality was confused in my head with that of my well-being, and I was careful not to look for the unextended and immaterial substance underneath. All day I filled myself with blackberries, rampions, meadow salsify, green peas, poppy seeds, grilled corn cobs, berries of all kinds, sloes, wounds, alisises, cherries, eglantines, lambrusques wild fruits; I gorged myself on a mass of raw vegetables enough to kill a nicely brought up petty bourgeois, which produced no other effect on my stomach than to give me a formidable appetite in the evening. Nature does not harm those who belong to it.

Alas! I could no longer make these superb pecks today. Under the pretext of preventing damage, the administration had all the fruit trees in the forests destroyed. A hermit would no longer find his life in our civilized woods. The poor are forbidden to pick up even acorns and beechnuts; forbidden to cut the grass of the paths for their goats. Go poor folk, go to Africa and Oregon:

… Veteres migrate coloni!

Que d’ondées j’ai essuyées! Que de fois, trempé jusqu’aux os, j’ai séché mes habits sur mon corps, à la bise ou au soleil! Que de bains pris à toute heure, l’été dans la rivière, l’hiver dans les sources! Je grimpais sur les arbres; je me fourrais dans les cavernes; j’attrapais les grenouilles à la course, les écrevisses dans leurs trous, au risque de rencontrer une affreuse salamandre ; puis je faisais sans désemparer griller ma chasse sur les charbons. Il ya, de l’homme à la bête, à tout ce qui existe, des sympathies et des haines secrètes dont la civilisation Ôte le sentiment. J’aimais mes vaches, mais d’une affection inégale; j’avais des préférences pour une poule, pour un arbre, pour un rocher. On m’avait dit que le lézard est ami de l’homme, et je le croyais sincèrement. Mais j’ai toujours fait rude guerre aux serpents, aux crapauds et aux chenilles. — Que m’avaient-ils fait ? Nulle offense. Je ne sais; mais l’expérience des humains me les a fait détester toujours davantage.

So I nearly wept while reading the farewells of Philoctetes, so well translated from Sophocles by Fénelon:

“O happy day, sweet light, you finally show yourself, after so many years! I obey you, I leave after having greeted these places. Farewell, dear lair! Farewell, nymphs of these damp meadows! I will no longer hear the dull sound of the waves of this sea. Farewell, shore, where so many times I have suffered the insults of the air! Farewell, promontory, where Echo so often repeated my moans! Farewell, sweet fountains, which were so bitter to me! Farewell, O land of Lemnos! let me go happily, since I go where the will of the gods and of my friends calls me.”

Those who, having never experienced these powerful illusions, accuse the superstition of country people, sometimes make me pity them. I was grown up and still believed in nymphs and fairies; and if I don’t miss those beliefs, I have a right to complain about how I was made to lose them.

XXXVII

Certainly, in this life of complete spontaneity, I scarcely thought of the origin of the inequality of fortunes, any more than of the mysteries of faith. No starvation, no envy. At my father’s, we breakfasted in the morning on maize porridge, called gaudes; at noon, potatoes; in the evening, soup with bacon, and that throughout the week. Despite the economists who praise the English diet, we were, with this vegetable diet, fat and strong. Do you know why? It is because we breathe the air of our fields and because we live on the product of our cultivation. The people have the feeling of this truth when they say that the air of the country nourishes the peasant, whereas the bread that one eats in Paris does not hold back hunger.

Without knowing it, and despite my baptism, I was a kind of practical pantheist. Pantheism is the religion of children and savages; it is the philosophy of all those who, held back by age, education, language, in sensitive life, have not arrived at abstraction and the ideal, two things which are, in my opinion, good to postpone as much as possible.

I am therefore not of the opinion of Rousseau, who, for fear of superstition, wanting precisely to base faith on reasoning and conscience, forbade himself to speak of God to his pupil before the twentieth year, then handed him over to theology: an excellent method for perpetuating the superstition! The notion of God, like that of substance and cause, is primitive, peculiar especially to untrained minds, and must lose its empire in proportion as they rise to true science. So let the children talk at their ease, all their fill, of God, of angels, of souls, of fairies, of griffins, of Hercules, like kings and queens; let their understanding lose its innocence, a necessary condition for the positive speculations of virility. During the first age, the conceptions of mysticism, so easily received by the imagination, serve as a supplement and as a preparation for metaphysics. Take care only that these conceptions, turning to fanaticism, do not usurp in their hearts the place that Justice alone should occupy. When the time comes, they will vanish by themselves, and your prudence will not have to fear from this side of indiscreet questions. Pierre Leroux cries out somewhere: What will you answer to your young daughter when she asks you: What is God? Well! Worthy philosopher, I will ask in my turn: What is the Bogeyman?

What is needed, in fact, to change the idolatrous conceptions of childhood into social philosophy? Show the young man, by the relation of laws and the analogy of forms, the chain of beings; imbue his intelligence with this sublime truth, that the laws of nature are the same as those of the mind and of Justice, and that, if this supreme ideal that religion calls God has its reality somewhere, it is in the heart of the honest man. This is how you will lead your pupil from the sphere of sensation into that of morals.

And what is morality, after all, in beings to whom friction with their fellows has not yet given the exact notion of relations and developed a juridical sense, if not this universal love, very unclassical, I admit it, and even less romantic, unrefined, unsentimental, but real, sovereign, fruitful; where genius is formed, where character is tempered, where personality is constituted, where superstition and mysticism are extinguished; divine love, which is not reduced to touching this mother nature with the lips, like the nun who receives the host, or like Pyramus kissing Thisbe through the garden gate.

 

XXXV. — Certainly, in this life of complete spontaneity, I scarcely thought of the origin of the inequality of fortunes, any more than of the mysteries of faith. No starvation, no envy. At my father’s, we breakfasted in the morning on maize porridge, called gaudes; at noon, potatoes; in the evening, soup with bacon, and that throughout the week. Despite the economists who praise the English diet, we were, with this vegetable diet, fat and strong. Do you know why? It is because we breathe the air of our fields and because we live on the product of our cultivation. The people have the feeling of this truth when they say that the air of the country nourishes the peasant, whereas the bread that one eats in Paris does not hold back hunger.

Without knowing it, and despite my baptism, I was a kind of practical pantheist. Pantheism is the religion of children and savages; it is the philosophy of all those who, held back by age, education, language, in sensitive life, have not arrived at abstraction and the ideal, two things which are, in my opinion, good to postpone as much as possible.

I am therefore not of the opinion of Rousseau, who, for fear of superstition, wanting precisely to base faith on reasoning and conscience, forbade himself to speak of God to his pupil before the twentieth year, then handed him over to theology: an excellent method for perpetuating the superstition! The notion of God, like that of substance and cause, is primitive, peculiar especially to untrained minds, and must lose its empire in proportion as they rise to true science. So let the children talk at their ease, all their fill, of God, of angels, of souls, of fairies, of griffins, of Hercules, like kings and queens; let their understanding lose its innocence, a necessary condition for the positive speculations of virility. During the first age, the conceptions of mysticism, so easily received by the imagination, serve as a supplement and as a preparation for metaphysics. Take care only that these conceptions, turning to fanaticism, do not usurp in their hearts the place that Justice alone should occupy. When the time comes, they will vanish by themselves, and your prudence will not have to fear from this side of indiscreet questions. Pierre Leroux cries out somewhere: What will you answer to your young daughter when she asks you: What is God? Well! Worthy philosopher, I will ask in my turn: What is the Bogeyman?

What is needed, in fact, to change the idolatrous conceptions of childhood into social philosophy? Show the young man, by the relation of laws and the analogy of forms, the chain of beings; imbue his intelligence with this sublime truth, that the laws of nature are the same as those of the mind and of Justice, and that, if this supreme ideal that religion calls God has its reality somewhere, it is in the heart of the honest man. This is how you will lead your pupil from the sphere of sensation into that of morals.

And what is morality, after all, in beings to whom friction with their fellows has not yet given the exact notion of relations and developed a juridical sense, if not this universal love, very unclassical, I admit it, and even less romantic, unrefined, unsentimental, but real, sovereign, fruitful; where genius is formed, where character is tempered, where personality is constituted, where superstition and mysticism are extinguished; divine love, which is not reduced to touching this mother nature with the lips, like the nun who receives the host, or like Pyramus kissing Thisbe through the garden gate.

XXXVIII

Out of school, I had reached my twentieth year. My father had lost his field; the mortgage had eaten it up. Who knows if he would not have clung to existence with a good land credit institution and I would have remained a peasant and conservative all my life? But land credit will only work vigorously if the Revolution gets its hands on it… I was forced to take up a profession. Having become a proofreader, what did you want me to do between working hours? The day was ten hours. Sometimes I happened to read, in this interval, in first proof, eight sheets in-12 of works of theology and devotion: excessive work, to which I owe having become short-sighted. Poisoned with bad air, metallic miasmas, unhealthy emanations; my heart sated with insipid reading, I was in no hurry to do anything but get out of town to shake off this infection. Do you ever see peasants leaving high mass at the time of the sermon? So I fled, across fields, this ecclesiastical dispensary where my youth was swallowed up. To have the purest air, I scandais, term of college, the high mountains that border the valley of Doubs, and did not fail, when there was a storm, to take in the spectacle of it. Snuggled up in a hole in the rock, I liked to look the fulgurant Jupiter in the face, cœlo tonantem, without defying it or fearing it. Do you believe that I was there as a scholar or as an artist? Not one more than the other. I will not decide which of the two is more worthy of my admiration, the painter who has himself tied to the mainmast of a ship in order to better grasp the hurricane, or the physicist who recognizes and chains up the thunderbolt; of the landscape painter who shows me a view of the Alps on a square meter of canvas, or of Saussure who calculates the height of Mont-Blanc to within a few fathoms. What I felt, in my solitary contemplation, was something else. The lightning, I said to myself, and its thunder, the winds, the clouds, the rain, it is me again…. In Besançon, the good women have the habit, when it lights up, of crossing themselves. I thought I found the reason for this pious practice in the feeling that I felt, that every crisis of nature is an echo of what happens in the soul of man.

This is how my education took place, the education of a child of the people. All do not enjoy, I agree, the same force of resistance, the same investigative activity; but all are of the same dispositions. It is this contrast between the real life suggested by nature, and the factitious education given by Religion, that gave birth to philosophical doubt in me and warned me against the opinions of sects and the institutions of society.

Since then, I had to civilize myself. But shall I admit it? the little that I have taken on disgusts me. I find that in this so-called civilization, saturated with hypocrisy, life is colorless and tasteless; the passions without energy, without frankness; the narrow imagination, the affected or flat style. I hate houses with more than one floor, in which, contrary to the social hierarchy, the little ones are hoisted the top, the tall ones established near the ground; I detest, like prisons, churches, seminaries, convents, barracks, hospitals, asylums and crèches. All of this seems demoralizing to me. And when I remember that the word pagan, paganus, means peasant; that paganism, the peasantry, that is to say the cult of rural divinities, rural pantheism, is the last name under which polytheism was vanquished and crushed by its rival; when I think that Christianity has condemned nature at the same time as humanity, I wonder if the Church, by dint of taking the opposite course to fallen religions, has not ended up taking the opposite course to common sense and good morals; if her spirituality is anything other than the spontaneous combustion of souls; if Christ, who was to redeem us, did not instead find himself betraying us; if the so-called thrice-holy God is not, on the contrary, the thrice-impure God; if, while you shout to us: Head up, Sursùm, look to the heavens, you do not do precisely what is necessary to throw us, head down, into the well.

This is what I have been asking myself, for a long time now, and that to which I urgently call, Monsignor, your attention. Show me, from the point of view of intelligences and characters, of family and city relations, of the inner world that is consciousness and of the outer world that is nature, show me the morality and efficiency of ecclesiastical education; and not only will you have deserved well from civilization and the people, but, what is better for you and will be no less decisive, you will have snatched from unbelief its most peremptory argument.

XXXVI. — Out of school, I had reached my twentieth year. My father had lost his field; the mortgage had eaten it up. Who knows if he would not have clung to existence with a good land credit institution and I would have remained a peasant and conservative all my life? But land credit will only work vigorously if the Revolution gets its hands on it… I was forced to take up a profession. Having become a proofreader, what did you want me to do between working hours? The day was ten hours. Sometimes I happened to read, in this interval, in first proof, eight sheets in-12 of works of theology and devotion: excessive work, to which I owe having become short-sighted. Poisoned with bad air, metallic miasmas, unhealthy emanations; my heart sated with insipid reading, I was in no hurry to do anything but get out of town to shake off this infection. Do you ever see peasants leaving high mass at the time of the sermon? So I fled, across fields, this ecclesiastical dispensary where my youth was swallowed up. To have the purest air, I scandais, term of college, the high mountains that border the valley of Doubs, and did not fail, when there was a storm, to take in the spectacle of it. Snuggled up in a hole in the rock, I liked to look the fulgurant Jupiter in the face, cœlo tonantem, without defying it or fearing it. Do you believe that I was there as a scholar or as an artist? Not one more than the other. I will not decide which of the two is more worthy of my admiration, the painter who has himself tied to the mainmast of a ship in order to better grasp the hurricane, or the physicist who recognizes and chains up the thunderbolt; of the landscape painter who shows me a view of the Alps on a square meter of canvas, or of Saussure who calculates the height of Mont-Blanc to within a few fathoms. What I felt, in my solitary contemplation, was something else. The lightning, I said to myself, and its thunder, the winds, the clouds, the rain, it is me again…. In Besançon, the good women have the habit, when it lights up, of crossing themselves. I thought I found the reason for this pious practice in the feeling that I felt, that every crisis of nature is an echo of what happens in the soul of man.

This is how my education took place, the education of a child of the people. All do not enjoy, I agree, the same force of resistance, the same investigative activity; but all are of the same dispositions. It is this contrast between the real life suggested by nature, and the factitious education given by Religion, that gave birth to philosophical doubt in me and warned me against the opinions of sects and the institutions of society.

Since then, I had to civilize myself. But shall I admit it? the little that I have taken on disgusts me. I find that in this so-called civilization, saturated with hypocrisy, life is colorless and tasteless; the passions without energy, without frankness; the narrow imagination, the affected or flat style. I hate houses with more than one floor, in which, contrary to the social hierarchy, the little ones are hoisted the top, the tall ones established near the ground; I detest, like prisons, churches, seminaries, convents, barracks, hospitals, asylums and crèches. All of this seems demoralizing to me. And when I remember that the word pagan, paganus, means peasant; that paganism, the peasantry, that is to say the cult of rural divinities, rural pantheism, is the last name under which polytheism was vanquished and crushed by its rival; when I think that Christianity has condemned nature at the same time as humanity, I wonder if the Church, by dint of taking the opposite course to fallen religions, has not ended up taking the opposite course to common sense and good morals; if her spirituality is anything other than the spontaneous combustion of souls; if Christ, who was to redeem us, did not instead find himself betraying us; if the so-called thrice-holy God is not, on the contrary, the thrice-impure God; if, while you shout to us: Head up, Sursùm, look to the heavens, you do not do precisely what is necessary to throw us, head down, into the well.

This is what I have been asking myself, for a long time now, and that to which I urgently call, Monsignor, your attention. Show me, from the point of view of intelligences and characters, of family and city relations, of the inner world that is consciousness and of the outer world that is nature, show me the morality and efficiency of ecclesiastical education; and not only will you have deserved well from civilization and the people, but, what is better for you and will be no less decisive, you will have snatched from unbelief its most peremptory argument.

CHAPTER V.

Man in the face of death.

XXXIX

Death is the decisive proof of the value of the education and morality of a society.

Tell me the death of a man, and I will tell you his life; reciprocally, tell me the life of this man, and I will predict his death. I disregard sudden deaths, which leave the dying unaware of their state, like existences weighed down by a tyranny or an invincible fatality.

This subject is serious: we will seek its elements through history.

The ancients, religious as they were, speculated little: as befits a nascent civilization, they practiced more. No sentences on death, any more than on life; no disdain for this one, no boasting of that one. Just as one tried to live one’s life as well as possible, one died one’s death naturally, calmly, without fear or regret.

Religion, which occupied itself with so many things, said nothing, almost nothing about death; it only appeared at the funeral.

There was indeed some vague, obscure myth that spoke of the subterranean kingdom, of the abode of the shadows, of their transmigration, of their appearances, of their rebirth; but this myth, neglected, coarse, as we see in Homer, conceived at the edge of the pits, at the sight of corpses, or in front of the stakes that consumed them, does not seem to have exercised any serious influence on practice. There is in the Iliad, at the beginning of the first book, a word that shows how little esteem was held for the soul, how little place it held in the existence of heroes:

“Sing, Muse, that fatal anger that precipitated into Tartarus a crowd of generous souls of heroes, and delivered them themselves as food to the dogs and the birds.”

Themselves, αὐτοὺς, i.e. bodies, as opposed to souls, ψυχας!

It even seems that, from the most ancient times, the belief in the ghosts was despised: it is this that the Romans designated by the word superstition, formed from superesse or superstare, as one would say faith in survival, or better faith in ghosts. Belief in the immortality of souls was not part of religion; it was, on the contrary, a shameful degeneration of it.

As for Mosaicism, it is notorious that the Sadducees, who represented its pure tradition, denied the distinction of the soul, and, a fortiori, its survival. This opinion was introduced, after the captivity of Babylon, by the Pharisees, a word that means, according to one or the other of the two etymologies given to it, heretics, or followers of Parseeism, that is to say of the doctrine of Zoroaster.

CHAPTER V.

Man in the face of death.

XXXVII. — Death is the decisive proof of the value of the education and morality of a society.

Tell me the death of a man, and I will tell you his life; reciprocally, tell me the life of this man, and I will predict his death. I disregard sudden deaths, which leave the dying unaware of their state, like existences weighed down by a tyranny or an invincible fatality.

This subject is serious: we will seek its elements through history.

The ancients, religious as they were, speculated little: as befits a nascent civilization, they practiced more. No sentences on death, any more than on life; no disdain for this one, no boasting of that one. Just as one tried to live one’s life as well as possible, one died one’s death naturally, calmly, without fear or regret.

Religion, which occupied itself with so many things, said nothing, almost nothing about death; it only appeared at the funeral.

There was indeed some vague, obscure myth that spoke of the subterranean kingdom, of the abode of the shadows, of their transmigration, of their appearances, of their rebirth; but this myth, neglected, coarse, as we see in Homer, conceived at the edge of the pits, at the sight of corpses, or in front of the stakes that consumed them, does not seem to have exercised any serious influence on practice. There is in the Iliad, at the beginning of the first book, a word that shows how little esteem was held for the soul, how little place it held in the existence of heroes:

“Sing, Muse, that fatal anger that precipitated into Tartarus a crowd of generous souls of heroes, and delivered them themselves as food to the dogs and the birds.”

Themselves, αὐτοὺς, i.e. bodies, as opposed to souls, ψυχας! (J)

It even seems that, from the most ancient times, the belief in the ghosts was despised: it is this that the Romans designated by the word superstition, formed from superesse or superstare, as one would say faith in survival, or better faith in ghosts. (K) Belief in the immortality of souls was not part of religion; it was, on the contrary, a shameful degeneration of it.

As for Mosaicism, it is notorious that the Sadducees, who represented its pure tradition, denied the distinction of the soul, and, a fortiori, its survival. This opinion was introduced, after the captivity of Babylon, by the Pharisees, a word that means, according to one or the other of the two etymologies given to it, heretics, or followers of Parseeism, that is to say of the doctrine of Zoroaster.

XL

Expecting nothing from religion, the good death, euthanasia, among the ancients, resulted from two causes: the plenitude of existence and social communion.

He died full of days, says the Bible, meaning by this word, not so much the number of years as the perfect order, congruity and beauty of life, in all its periods and manifestations.

Death, thus obtained, is the last of the beatitudes. Far from appearing bitter, it excludes any addition of happiness, consequently any supplement of life. This is the idea rendered by La Fontaine:

Nothing disturbs his end, it is the evening of a beautiful day.

Here, in eighteen syllables, is the whole practice of the ancients on dying well; this is their sacrament.

The second cause that made their death happy was the feeling of the social communion in which they expired.

There is a good example of this in the couplet of Simonides engraved at the passage of Thermopylae on the tomb of the three hundred Spartans: Passer-by, go and tell Lacedaemon that we died here in order to obey its laws.

No allusion to a later life, novain exaltation. The pure and simple fact, sublime in its simplicity: Here we are dead, but we live in Lacedaemon.

It is in this sense that we must hear the song of Harmodius: I will carry my sword in a branch of myrtle, as Harmodius and Aristogiton did, when they struck down the tyrant Hipparchus, at the feasts of the Panathenaic… No, dear Harmodius, you are not dead; you live in the blessed islands, in the company of Achilles and Diomede… Here, it is the citizen who puts himself in communion with the ancient heroes, still alive in the bosom of the fatherland, whom neither the iron of the neither the enemy nor the rage of tyrants can reach.

Athens had made this idea an institution; it was the funeral oration of citizens who had died for their country, whose names were engraved on the public marbles, and whose children were brought up at the expense of the treasury. Do we believe that this was not worth our Requiem?

Social communion, expressed by the family, organized by the city, by the confederation or the amphictyony; a life that was prolonged beyond the tomb by participation in the life of the ancestors and that of the descendants; it was thus that death disappeared, encompassed in the perpetuity of the fatherland, and that the last sigh escaped in the rapture of fraternity.

“Among the Romans,” says M. Franz de Champagny, “man united his life with that of his ancestors and that of his descendants. Instead of prolonging his life into a dubious eternity, he prolonged it by the more intimate feeling of heredity. For him, the immortality of the family, of the tribe, of the country, replaced the immortality of the soul… The Elysium of the Roman was the future greatness of Rome. Virtue, patriotism and ancient glory come from there: they are civic virtues transformed into religious virtues. (Les Césars)

Family, tribe, country: what meager immortality for us Christians!… We must believe, however, that this idea of social communion and collective life was not without some reality for the ancients, since it made them produce so many acts of heroism, which, despite our claims to holiness and our verbiage, still remain our models.

Needless to observe, moreover, that of these two conditions on which the good death depended, namely the plenitude of life and social communion, the first presupposes the second. No full life for the slave, for the condemned, for the banished, for one whose homeland was invaded by the foreigner, torn apart by civil war or enslaved by the tyrant. For that one, absolute void of existence; consequently, death with all its horrors.

XXXVIII. — Expecting nothing from religion, the good death, euthanasia, among the ancients, resulted from two causes: the plenitude of existence and social communion.

He died full of days, says the Bible, meaning by this word, not so much the number of years as the perfect order, congruity and beauty of life, in all its periods and manifestations.

Death, thus obtained, is the last of the beatitudes. Far from appearing bitter, it excludes any addition of happiness, consequently any supplement of life. This is the idea rendered by La Fontaine:

Nothing disturbs his end, it is the evening of a beautiful day.

Here, in eighteen syllables, is the whole practice of the ancients on dying well.

The second cause that made their death happy was the feeling of the social communion in which they expired.

There is a good example of this in the couplet of Simonides engraved at the passage of Thermopylae on the tomb of the three hundred Spartans: Passer-by, go and tell Lacedaemon that we died here in order to obey its laws.

No allusion to a later life, novain exaltation. The pure and simple fact, sublime in its simplicity: Here we are dead, but we live in Lacedaemon.

It is in this sense that we must hear the song of Harmodius: I will carry my sword in a branch of myrtle, as Harmodius and Aristogiton did, when they struck down the tyrant Hipparchus, at the feasts of the Panathenaic… No, dear Harmodius, you are not dead; you live in the blessed islands, in the company of Achilles and Diomede… Here, it is the citizen who puts himself in communion with the ancient heroes, still alive in the bosom of the fatherland, whom neither the iron of the neither the enemy nor the rage of tyrants can reach.

Athens had made this idea an institution; it was the funeral oration of citizens who had died for their country, whose names were engraved on the public marbles, and whose children were brought up at the expense of the treasury. Do we believe that this was not worth our Requiem?  What commemoration has been made, in France, of the soldiers killed at Sebastopol?

Social communion, expressed by the family, organized by the city, by the confederation or the amphictyony; a life that was prolonged beyond the tomb by participation in the life of the ancestors and that of the descendants; it was thus that death disappeared, encompassed in the perpetuity of the fatherland, and that the last sigh escaped in the rapture of fraternity.

“Among the Romans,” says M. Franz de Champagny, “man united his life with that of his ancestors and that of his descendants. Instead of prolonging his life into a dubious eternity, he prolonged it by the more intimate feeling of heredity. For him, the immortality of the family, of the tribe, of the country, replaced the immortality of the soul… The Elysium of the Roman was the future greatness of Rome. Virtue, patriotism and ancient glory come from there: they are civic virtues transformed into religious virtues. (Les Césars)

Family, tribe, country: what meager immortality for us Christians! We must believe, however, that this idea of social communion and collective life was not without some reality for the ancients, since it made them produce so many acts of heroism, which, despite our claims to holiness and our verbiage, still remain our models.

Needless to observe, moreover, that of these two conditions on which the good death depended, namely the plenitude of life and social communion, the first presupposes the second. No full life for the slave, for the condemned, for the banished, for one whose homeland was invaded by the foreigner, torn apart by civil war or enslaved by the tyrant. For that one, absolute void of existence; consequently, death with all its horrors.

XLI

So, what despair gripped ancient society when, as a result of revolutions, the social bond came to be broken, and there was no longer any communion! It is one of the most striking phenomena in history, and at the same time the least understood, not to say the least perceived. As collective life dissolves, as individual life loses its fullness, we see the anguish of death increase. It seems that the desolate souls, once so calm, so alive in death, are crying out under its sting. The great Pan is dead; the souls are in consternation, and they fill the air with their groans!

Then begins the period of dissolution: the consciousness, isolated, lost, seeks a remedy for the horror that torments it, and tries in vain to stun itself. It’s a rout, every man for himself! Poetry dreams of skeletons; the Freemasons of Eleusis offer their mysteries, the philosophers their abstractions. Who will deliver us from this atrocious thought of death? Because, alas! no more fatherland, no more euthanasia: life and death are both absurd.

It is with Ionia that the debacle begins.

The Greeks of Ionia fell under the Persian domination. To add to their misery, between them and the great king stood native tyranny. No more communion: the wealthy and the slaves, for whom the libidinous life replaces heroism. The poems of Anacreon are filled with this terror: nothing hurts as much to see as this octogenarian poet ceaselessly calling, against death, the intoxication of voluptuousness:

They told me, the women:

Anacreon, you are old!

Take a mirror, and look at 

Your hair: there is no more. 

And your forehead is shaved!

— Me, if I have any hair left

Or if all are gone,

I don’t know; but I know well 

That it is a duty for the old man

To lead a happy life

The closer he approaches death.

Thus, the inimitable life, as Antony and Cleopatra called it, this recipe for despair, was practiced in Asia from the time of Anacreon, five centuries BC.

After the Great Median War, Greece was torn apart by civil war; every republic calls the foreigner, and all liberty expires under the Macedonians. Epicurus appears, and what Anacreon had sung, his school puts into theory.

It was this theory that, joined to the skepticism of Carneades, at first excited the reprobation of the Romans.

But the great republic leans in its turn towards its ruin; the emperor replaces the Latin communion: victors and vanquished become the pale subjects of death. Lucretius places his philosophy under the invocation of Venus. Horace lines up unceremoniously in the large stable, with Mecenas and his friends. All the nobility, the equestrian order, exhausted, panting, embrace the religion of pleasure. Virgil, who sang of Roman regeneration, of Caesar’s messianism, called in turn to his aid the philosophy of Epicurus, the science of Archimedes and the metaphysics of Plato. He believes in patriotic virtue no more than the others, and saves himself in humanity.

Some protest in favor of ancient customs, out of hatred for the prince, disgust with the multitude, regret for their honors: they belong so well to their century that they do not even think that this old republic, if it could be reborn, would be the only and effective remedy for the fear of death.

XXXIX. — So, what despair gripped ancient society when, as a result of revolutions, the social bond came to be broken, and there was no longer any communion! It is one of the most striking phenomena in history, and at the same time the least understood, not to say the least perceived. As collective life dissolves, as individual life loses its fullness, we see the anguish of death increase. It seems that the desolate souls, once so calm, so alive in death, are crying out under its sting. The great Pan is dead; the souls are in consternation, and they fill the air with their groans!

Then begins the period of dissolution: the consciousness, isolated, lost, seeks a remedy for the horror that torments it, and tries in vain to stun itself. It’s a rout, every man for himself! Poetry dreams of skeletons; the Freemasons of Eleusis offer their mysteries, the philosophers their abstractions. Who will deliver us from this atrocious thought of death? Because, alas! no more fatherland, no more euthanasia: life and death are both absurd.

It is with Ionia that the debacle begins.

The Greeks of Ionia fell under the Persian domination. To add to their misery, between them and the great king stood native tyranny. No more communion: the wealthy and the slaves, for whom the libidinous life replaces heroism. The poems of Anacreon are filled with this terror: nothing hurts as much to see as this octogenarian poet ceaselessly calling, against death, the intoxication of voluptuousness:

They told me, the women:

Anacreon, you are old!

Take a mirror, and look at 

Your hair: there is no more. 

And your forehead is shaved!

— Me, if I have any hair left

Or if all are gone,

I don’t know; but I know well 

That it is a duty for the old man

To lead a happy life

The closer he approaches death.

Thus, the inimitable life, as Antony and Cleopatra called it, this recipe for despair, was practiced in Asia from the time of Anacreon, five centuries BC.

After the Great Median War, Greece was torn apart by civil war; every republic calls the foreigner, and all liberty expires under the Macedonians. Epicurus appears, and what Anacreon had sung, his school puts into theory.

But the great republic leans in its turn towards its ruin; the emperor replaces the Latin communion: victors and vanquished become the pale subjects of death. Lucretius places his philosophy under the invocation of Venus. Horace lines up unceremoniously in the large stable, with Mecenas and his friends. All the nobility, the equestrian order, exhausted, panting, embrace the religion of pleasure. Virgil, who sang of Roman regeneration, of Caesar’s messianism, called in turn to his aid the philosophy of Epicurus, the science of Archimedes and the metaphysics of Plato. He believes in patriotic virtue no more than the others, and saves himself in humanity.

Some protest in favor of ancient customs, out of hatred for the prince, disgust with the multitude, regret for their honors: they belong so well to their century that they do not even think that this old republic, if it could be reborn, would be the only and effective remedy for the fear of death.

XLII

We are approaching the transition that will soon bring Christianity. In the absence of a communion that no longer exists, which we do not even know how to realize, we ask for faith! Stoicism brings its dogma, as impotent as that of Epicurus.

Sorte de platonisme pratique et sévère, le stoïcisme prend le contre-pied d’Épicure : il foule aux pieds la volupté ; il nie que la douleur soit un mal ; dans la vertu seule il découvre le souverain bien, dans le vice la souveraine misère, et enseigne à mépriser la mort, en élevant à la hauteur d’une déduction métaphysique la vieille, l’impure croyance aux revenants, la Superstition !

With what art it decorates it!

“The world is an animated, living being; God is its soul: and as the soul and the body of man form a single subject, so God and the world form an inseparable whole, which is the Absolute.

“Of this Absolute bodies and souls are the parts, whose union constitutes our life and of which our death is only the separation. After death, the soul principle returns to God, the universal soul; the body is returned to the elements.”

It is thus that the Stoics try to uplift mores and restore courage.

You have to see how timidly they are welcomed! Honest people, men of determined virtue, would like them to be right; they dare not indulge in it. Cicero admires them, favors them; but Carneades robs him of his faith!

Cato reads and rereads his Phaedo before dying, not so much to encourage himself, as has been said: he who had preserved the ancient mores was certainly no more afraid of death than a Cassius, a Petronius and so many other Epicureans who died with honor. Cato sought to console himself for the republic; he sought to see if the loss of liberty did not have some reason in the eternal order.

Thrasea does like Cato. Before receiving his condemnation, he discusses with Demetrius the separation of soul and body. Then, when the quaestor arrives, bearer of the fatal order, the Roman bids farewell to the philosopher, orders his wife to save herself for his daughter, happy that his son-in-law does not share his torture; and entirely in that sacred communion of family and country, of which he is the last representative, he has his vein opened, and offers his blood, like a libation, — to the immortality of the soul? — no, to Jupiter the liberator.

Tacitus, at the end of the life of Agricola, his father-in-law, exclaims, in a movement of poetic tenderness:

“If there is a sojourn in the manes of the saints; if, as the philosophers wish it, great souls do not perish with bodies.”

We see that for Tacitus it is a question of a new opinion, which the ancients had not known, and of which their religion had not felt the need. It has been said that laws are the sign of the decadence of nations: how is it that the belief in a future life spreads among men, just in times when they are no longer worth anything in this one?

XL. — We are approaching the transition that will soon bring Christianity. In the absence of a communion that no longer exists, which we do not even know how to realize, we ask for faith! Stoicism brings its dogma, as impotent as that of Epicurus.

Sorte de platonisme pratique et sévère, le stoïcisme prend le contre-pied d’Épicure : il foule aux pieds la volupté; il nie que la douleur soit un mal ; dans la vertu seule il découvre le souverain bien, dans le vice la souveraine misère, et enseigne à mépriser la mort, en élevant à la hauteur d’une déduction métaphysique la vieille, l’impure croyance aux revenants, la superstition.

With what art it decorates it!

“The world is an animated, living being; God is its soul: and as the soul and the body of man form a single subject, so God and the world form an inseparable whole, which is the Absolute.

“Of this Absolute bodies and souls are the parts, whose union constitutes our life and of which our death is only the separation. After death, the soul principle returns to God, the universal soul; the body is returned to the elements.” (L)

It is thus that the Stoics try to uplift mores and restore courage.

You have to see how timidly they are welcomed! Honest people, men of determined virtue, would like them to be right; they dare not indulge in it. Cicero admires them, favors them; but Carneades robs him of his faith!

Cato reads and rereads his Phaedo before dying, not so much to encourage himself, as has been said: he who had preserved the ancient mores was certainly no more afraid of death than a Cassius, a Petronius and so many other Epicureans who died with honor. Cato sought to console himself for the republic; he sought to see if the loss of liberty did not have some reason in the eternal order.

Thrasea does like Cato. Before receiving his condemnation, he discusses with Demetrius the separation of soul and body. Then, when the quaestor arrives, bearer of the fatal order, the Roman bids farewell to the philosopher, orders his wife to save herself for his daughter, happy that his son-in-law does not share his torture; and entirely in that sacred communion of family and country, of which he is the last representative, he has his vein opened, and offers his blood, like a libation, — to the immortality of the soul? — no, to Jupiter the liberator.

Tacitus, at the end of the life of Agricola, his father-in-law, exclaims, in a movement of poetic tenderness:

“If there is a sojourn in the manes of the saints; if, as the philosophers wish it, great souls do not perish with bodies.”

We see that for Tacitus it is a question of a new opinion, which the ancients had not known, and of which their religion had not felt the need. It has been said that laws are the sign of the decadence of nations: how is it that the belief in a future life spreads among men, just in times when they are no longer worth anything in this one?

XLIII

But we have only touched on this funereal subject.

Supposing that the theory of the dissociation of souls and bodies could have been, as well as that of Epicurus, of some relief in universal terror, it will be understood that such remedies were not within the reach of the vulgar, and that, the day when the masses would claim in their turn an antidote against the boredom of death, the erotico-bachic poems of Anacreon, Alcaeus, Horace, as well as the Platonic and Stoic speculations, would be a mediocre effect.

Now, that day had come. Roman society dissolved, the plebs, as well as the patriciate, were in a vacuum; vulgar souls, like elite souls, hung in the air, open to the wind, like burst bladders; this is Virgil’s picture of it:

… Aliæ panduntur inanes
Suspensæ ad ventos.

Who would come to the aid of this multitude?

There are doctors for all fortunes.

Greece, whose glory and decadence had preceded that of Rome by several centuries, had produced, for the use of the lower classes, a peremptory philosophy. Not everyone is allowed to go to Corinth, said Demosthenes. — No, replied Diogenes; but everyone is permitted to not go there, and to do without Corinth.

The cynics find here, in the general shipwreck, their employment, and, without it appearing, it is their system which is the most fashionable. Too few people are able to take the sugar-coated pills of Epicurus, an even smaller number could digest Zeno’s transcendental pills; Diogenes’ beggar’s bag is accessible to everyone.

The Caesarean plebs, four to five hundred thousand lazzaroni sharing the empire with Caesar, nourished by the frumentation, that is to say almost for nothing, bathed for nothing, content with their beggary, take the heroic step of despising cordially an existence of which they lost, by giving themselves to Caesar, the feeling, the dignity, the exercise, the object and the meaning.

To fortify themselves against death, they accustomed themselves to disregarding life: an easy thing, under the government of Caesar. Life, indeed, has become meaningless for this multitude. Instead of the plenitude of days, which made the happiness of the ancients, they have spleen. If, then, it is no longer anything to live, in this society in dust, how would it be something to die? Hear the Praetorian’s cry to the fugitive Nero, trembling before death: Usque adeone mori miserum est? Your reign is over, so die: is that so difficult?

Analyze the character of the Roman people of the last days of the republic and those of the empire: at bottom, you find only cynicism; it is cynicism, in the majesty of the Capitol, that constitutes the temperament of the people-king, the moral life of Rome, the genius of Caesar.

Now, when the people meddle in something, philosophy or religion, love of God or contempt for life, they arrive at fantastic conceptions, they create giants and monsters. The sons of the wolf, taking up the besace, and getting it into their heads to fight death and its terrors, were to give birth to a horrible idea, which would make history shudder.

Suicide was no longer new; for a long time we had learned, by noble examples, to honor it; we knew that it was the refuge of dignity against any injury from tyranny or fortune: a vulgar merit, a trifle, of which no one spoke any more. The republic dead, suicide was worn out.

What did the ferocitas romana discover? — Gladiator fights.

XLI. — But we have only touched on this funereal subject.

Supposing that the theory of the dissociation of souls and bodies could have been, as well as that of Epicurus, of some relief in universal terror, it will be understood that such remedies were not within the reach of the vulgar, and that, the day when the masses would claim in their turn an antidote against the boredom of death, the erotico-bachic poems of Anacreon, Alcaeus, Horace, as well as the Platonic and Stoic speculations, would be a mediocre effect.

Now, that day had come. Roman society dissolved, the plebs, as well as the patriciate, were in a vacuum; vulgar souls, like elite souls, hung in the air, open to the wind, like burst bladders; this is Virgil’s picture of it:

… Aliæ panduntur inanes

Suspensæ ad ventos,

Who would come to the aid of this multitude?

There are doctors for all fortunes.

Greece, whose glory and decadence had preceded that of Rome by several centuries, had produced, for the use of the lower classes, a peremptory philosophy. Not everyone is allowed to go to Corinth, said Demosthenes. — No, replied Diogenes; but everyone is permitted to not go there, and to do without Corinth.

The cynics find here, in the general shipwreck, their employment, that, without it appearing, it is their system which is the most fashionable. Too few people are able to take the sugar-coated pills of Epicurus, an even smaller number could digest Zeno’s transcendental pills; Diogenes’ beggar’s bag is accessible to everyone.

The Caesarean plebs, four to five hundred thousand lazzaroni sharing the empire with Caesar, nourished by the frumentation, that is to say almost for nothing, bathed for nothing, content with their beggary, take the heroic step of despising cordially an existence of which they lost, by giving themselves to Caesar, the feeling, the dignity, the exercise, the object and the meaning.

To fortify themselves against death, they accustomed themselves to disregarding life: an easy thing, under the government of Caesar. Life, indeed, has become meaningless for this multitude. Instead of the plenitude of days, which made the happiness of the ancients, they have spleen. If, then, it is no longer anything to live, in this society in dust, how would it be something to die? Hear the Praetorian’s cry to the fugitive Nero, trembling before death: Usque adeone mori miserum est? Your reign is over, so die: is that so difficult?

Analyze the character of the Roman people of the last days of the republic and those of the empire: at bottom, you find only cynicism; it is cynicism, in the majesty of the Capitol, that constitutes the temperament of the people-king, the moral life of Rome, the genius of Caesar.

Now, when the people meddle in something, philosophy or religion, love of God or contempt for life, they arrive at fantastic conceptions, they create giants and monsters. The sons of the wolf, taking up the besace, and getting it into their heads to fight death and its terrors, were to give birth to a horrible idea, which would make history shudder.

Suicide was no longer new; for a long time we had learned, by noble examples, to honor it; we knew that it was the refuge of dignity against any injury from tyranny or fortune: a vulgar merit, a trifle, of which no one spoke any more. The republic dead, suicide was worn out.

What did the ferocitas romana discover? — Gladiator fights.

XLIV

Some people blame bull fighting as fostering cruelty; the stern Albion has given up its boxing. What would we say if the government, instead of sending those condemned to death to the scaffold, took it into its head, for the entertainment of the people, to have them beaten in the middle of the hippodrome until death ensued?…

But it was not two men, two criminals, of whom Rome gave itself the treat; there were hundreds, thousands of prisoners, veritable butcheries, where blood flowed in torrents as in the fields of Pharsalus and Philip. Under the republic, it was forbidden to give more than a hundred gladiators at a time. Augustus, wanting to please the people, raised this number to sixty couples per performance. The rage of these spectacles always increasing, the figure of one hundred and twenty men was soon exceeded, on the demand of the people and by the complaisance of the senate; not to mention that these massacres took place everywhere: the smallest cities had their circus, with their barracks of gladiators. King Agrippa of Judea had fourteen hundred condemned men beaten one day. Gordian, being aedile, regularly gave from one hundred and fifty to five hundred pairs. Trajan, in a single day brought forth ten thousand gladiators; and in the great naumachia that took place, under the empire of Claudius, on Lake Fucin, there were as many as nineteen thousand combatants. At the triumph of Probe, six hundred men were destined for the circus: of this number, eighty, having escaped, attacked the spectators, spread through the city, and were finally overthrown by the legionaries, after having sold their lives dearly. It was a huge scandal.

Historians who have touched on this question, such as Châteaubriand, do not generally fail to exploit it for the benefit of Christianity: as if the combats of gladiators, in which Roman corruption satiated itself for more than five centuries, were the essence of paganism, as if the reason for this bloody phenomenon need not be sought elsewhere!

According to Cicero, Seneca, Pliny, Juvenal and the contemporary authors, we see that public opinion regarded them as a school of courage, where citizens learned to despise blood and death. Under one emperor, I believe it was Septimius Severus, as people thought of reforming mores, the jurists who formed the imperial council strongly supported the fights of the circus, necessary, they said, to maintain military courage and train the soul of the soldier.

But it is obvious that this allegation contains only half the truth: why did the soldier of the empire need this stimulant, which the warriors of the republic had done without? The real cause, I repeat, is in the universal disorganization that, leaving man without freedom, without rights, without communion, without a country, offering only Caesar as compensation for his loneliness, drove him to contempt of life at the same time as it delivered him defenseless to the pangs of death.

The influence, such as it is, of the combats of gladiators on courage, manifests itself in the too vaunted martyrs of Christianity. It is the same coolness in the face of death, the same bravery or swagger, the same impassiveness. They die, these fighters of Christ, as gladiators. This is the praise given to them by the ecclesiastical writers: the comparison constantly recurs in the accounts of the martyrology and in the hymns. When free men, knights, senators, women, rushed into the circus, with no other goal than to show their courage in an all-out fight, like fanatics, united against the emperor by their faith in the Eternal Messiah, wouldn’t they have known how to die for their Church and for their God?…

XLII. — Some people blame bull fighting as fostering cruelty; the stern Albion has given up its boxing. What would we say if the government, instead of sending those condemned to death to the scaffold, took it into its head, for the entertainment of the people, to have them beaten in the middle of the hippodrome until death ensued?

But it was not two men, two criminals, of whom Rome gave itself the treat; there were hundreds, thousands of prisoners, veritable butcheries, where blood flowed in torrents as in the fields of Pharsalus and Philip. Under the republic, it was forbidden to give more than a hundred gladiators at a time. Augustus, wanting to please the people, raised this number to sixty couples per performance. The rage of these spectacles always increasing, the figure of one hundred and twenty men was soon exceeded, on the demand of the people and by the complaisance of the senate; not to mention that these massacres took place everywhere: the smallest cities had their circus, with their barracks of gladiators. King Agrippa of Judea had fourteen hundred condemned men beaten one day. Gordian, being aedile, regularly gave from one hundred and fifty to five hundred pairs. Trajan, in a single day brought forth ten thousand gladiators; and in the great naumachia that took place, under the empire of Claudius, on Lake Fucin, there were as many as nineteen thousand combatants. At the triumph of Probe, six hundred men were destined for the circus: of this number, eighty, having escaped, attacked the spectators, spread through the city, and were finally overthrown by the legionaries, after having sold their lives dearly. It was a huge scandal.

Historians who have touched on this question, such as Châteaubriand, do not generally fail to exploit it for the benefit of Christianity: as if the combats of gladiators, in which Roman corruption satiated itself for more than five centuries, were the essence of paganism, as if the reason for this bloody phenomenon need not be sought elsewhere!

According to Cicero, Seneca, Pliny, Juvenal and the contemporary authors, we see that public opinion regarded them as a school of courage, where citizens learned to despise blood and death. Under one emperor, I believe it was Septimius Severus, as people thought of reforming mores, the jurists who formed the imperial council strongly supported the fights of the circus, necessary, they said, to maintain military courage and train the soul of the soldier.

But it is obvious that this allegation contains only half the truth: why did the soldier of the empire need this stimulant, which the warriors of the republic had done without? The real cause, I repeat, is in the universal disorganization that, leaving man without freedom, without rights, without communion, without a country, offering only Caesar as compensation for his loneliness, drove him to contempt of life at the same time as it delivered him defenseless to the pangs of death. (M)

The influence, such as it is, of the combats of gladiators on courage, manifests itself in the too vaunted martyrs of Christianity. It is the same coolness in the face of death, the same bravery or swagger, the same impassiveness. They die, these fighters of Christ, as gladiators. This is the praise given to them by the ecclesiastical writers: the comparison constantly recurs in the accounts of the martyrology and in the hymns. When free men, knights, senators, women, rushed into the circus, with no other goal than to show their courage in an all-out fight, like fanatics, united against the emperor by their faith in the Eternal Messiah, wouldn’t they have known how to die for their Church and for their God?

XLV

But I am anxious to know how Christianity undertook to put an end to this panic, which more than the massacres of the circus and all the debauchery dishonored the end of pagan society.

The first word of Christianity was a cry of victory. What are you talking about, cynics, with your contempt for life? You, Stoics, of your indifference to pain and death? All of you, heirs of the ancient sages, interpreters of the gods, of the evaporation of souls and impalpable manes? What do you boast to us, band of Epicurus, with your joys in despair? And you, hungry plebs of Romulus, with your gladiator fights? Listen to these men, coming from Judea, whom Nero had pitched and flambéed in his gardens, as lanterns. They announce… the resurrection of the body!

It was here, in fact, that the new sectarians began.

Christianity, by its origins, had more than one relationship with the sects that had given themselves the mission of restoring to the Romans the calm and serenity of their ancestors. From the cynics, it had the affectation of poverty and detachment; from the Stoics it took gravity and already spiritualism; from the epicureans, it retained, for the time that would follow the return of Christ, the hope of material delights. But it surpassed them all by his prodigious dogma of the resurrection of the body, without which the immortality of souls would itself have appeared only a consolation prize.

Certainly, it was not the least addition that Paul and the others allowed themselves in the doctrine of the Galilean. But this is how religions are formed. A religion is a symbol, which means a contribution. Pharisaism had to pay its share in this: Jesus, who during his life had not ceased to pursue it, owed it after his death the advantage, without which he would not have become a god, of resurrecting.

Could a Jewish heart taste the survival of the soul in the metaphysical way of the Stoics? What is that, a soul?… Can it eat, drink and make love?… Pharisaism therefore affirmed immortality, no longer by a hollow and obscure metempsychosis, not by conservation, within the ether, of that particle of divinity, divinæ particulam auræ, as the philosophers said, that forms the quintessence of our being, but by means of a beautiful and good resurrection in body and soul, and, what was better, very soon.

All who died in the faith of Christ were to rise to reign with him; the contemporary generation would not pass away before this resurrection arrived. In the second century, the writers of the Gospels, who had not yet seen anything, nevertheless believed they had to repeat the promise. Then the resurrection is postponed to the third century, then it is calculated for the fifth. From century to century, millenarianism redid its calculations. Finally, the expectation being always deceived, we decided to return the announcement. It was said at first that the Messiah, returning shortly after his ascension, would raise the dead and reign with his followers for a thousand years, after which all would end; it was now claimed that this messianic coming was to take place only at the end of the world, as the conclusion of all things.

Be that as it may, despite physics, despite Descartes, who founded the new spiritualism by his distinction of substances, the Church has preserved the dogma of the resurrection of bodies and teaches it in its catechism. It is no longer, it is true, as before, the pivot of propaganda; but it is still an article, the penultimate, of the profession of faith, carnis resurrectionem.

Imagine the astonishment of the Romans at this strange idea, when for the first time it appeared in the capital of the Empire, which Tacitus, precisely on this occasion, compares to a sink of human follies!

These men, who dared not believe the Stoics about the immortality of souls, what must they have thought of this incredible idea of the resurrection of bodies? Faith in the ghosts was treated by them as superstition: what would the return of corpses be? Only one thing can give an idea of the disgust they must have felt, and that is the belief in vampires, still widespread among the Slavic peoples, and which has no other origin than the resurrection. Exitiabilis superstitio, says Tacitus, who is almost consoled, at this idea, for the atrocious torture by which Nero caused these wretches to perish.

XLIII. — But I am anxious to know how Christianity undertook to put an end to this panic, which more than the massacres of the circus and all the debauchery dishonored the end of pagan society.

The first word of Christianity was a cry of victory. What are you talking about, cynics, with your contempt for life? You, Stoics, of your indifference to pain and death? All of you, heirs of the ancient sages, interpreters of the gods, of the evaporation of souls and impalpable manes? What do you boast to us, band of Epicurus, with your joys in despair? And you, hungry plebs of Romulus, with your gladiator fights? Listen to these men, coming from Judea, whom Nero had pitched and flambéed in his gardens, as lanterns. They announce… the resurrection of the body!

It was here, in fact, that the new sectarians began.

Christianity, by its origins, had more than one relationship with the sects that had given themselves the mission of restoring to the Romans the calm and serenity of their ancestors. From the cynics, it had the affectation of poverty and detachment; from the Stoics it took gravity and already spiritualism; from the epicureans, it retained, for the time that would follow the return of Christ, the hope of material delights. But it surpassed them all by his prodigious dogma of the resurrection of the body, without which the immortality of souls would itself have appeared only a consolation prize.

Certainly, it was not the least addition that Paul and the others allowed themselves in the doctrine of the Galilean. But this is how religions are formed. A religion is a symbol, which means a contribution. Pharisaism had to pay its share in this: Jesus, who during his life had not ceased to pursue it, owed it after his death the advantage, without which he would not have become a god, of resurrecting.

Could a Jewish heart taste the survival of the soul in the metaphysical way of the Stoics? What is that, a soul?… Can it eat, drink and make love?… Pharisaism therefore affirmed immortality, no longer by a hollow and obscure metempsychosis, not by conservation, within the ether, of that particle of divinity, divinæ particulam auræ, as the philosophers said, that forms the quintessence of our being, but by means of a beautiful and good resurrection in body and soul, and, what was better, very soon.

All who died in the faith of Christ were to rise to reign with him; the contemporary generation would not pass away before this resurrection arrived. In the second century, the writers of the Gospels, who had not yet seen anything, nevertheless believed they had to repeat the promise. Then the resurrection is postponed to the third century, then it is calculated for the fifth. From century to century, millenarianism redid its calculations. Finally, the expectation being always deceived, we decided to return the announcement. It was said at first that the Messiah, returning shortly after his ascension, would raise the dead and reign with his followers for a thousand years, after which all would end; it was now claimed that this messianic coming was to take place only at the end of the world, as the conclusion of all things.

Be that as it may, despite physics, despite Descartes, who founded the new spiritualism by his distinction of substances, the Church has preserved the dogma of the resurrection of bodies and teaches it in its catechism. It is no longer, it is true, as before, the pivot of propaganda; but it is still an article, the penultimate, of the profession of faith, carnis resurrectionem.

Imagine the astonishment of the Romans at this strange idea, when for the first time it appeared in the capital of the Empire, which Tacitus, precisely on this occasion, compares to a sink of human follies!

These men, who dared not believe the Stoics about the immortality of souls, what must they have thought of this incredible idea of the resurrection of bodies? Faith in the ghosts was treated by them as superstition: what would the return of corpses be? Only one thing can give an idea of the disgust they must have felt, and that is the belief in vampires, still widespread among the Slavic peoples, and which has no other origin than the resurrection. Exitiabilis superstitio, says Tacitus, who is almost consoled, at this idea, for the atrocious torture by which Nero caused these wretches to perish.

XLVI

Will you ask me, after that, if the cordial offered by Christianity against the fear of death produced the effect?

Alas! the disease was one of those that cannot be cured by conjurations and acts of faith. Neither taurobolium, nor baptism, nor infusions of blood nor immersion in water could do anything about it.

With Christianity, the world seemed like a phantasmagoria.

“And I saw,” says the Apocalypse, “a pale horse, and he who rode it was called Death , and Hell followed him.”

A society that lived only in the hope of resurrection was indeed dead; its cities, its palaces, its theaters were cemeteries, its temples catacombs. Dead from its terror, or dead from its new religion, which do you think is more to the glory of the Christian name?

As long as the persecution lasted, the struggle sustaining courage, the Church lived the life of the ancient society: the era of the martyrs, which begins and ends at the same time as that of the gladiators, is the liveliest in ecclesiastical history.

But when Caesar was converted, when the emperors, attacked under the purple of the universal disease, were seen to provide themselves, at their last moments, with the sacraments of the dead, all virtue vanished. On the one hand, the resurrection postponed until the end of the centuries, the souls, awaiting the hour of reunion with the body, kept in limbo; on the other hand, the terror of the judgments of God, all this, far from attenuating the evil, only made it worse. The Christian world, barely established, nearly fled, so sad was life to it, so full of trembling was death. Some, like Antoine, leave at the age of eighteen for the desert, strip themselves of their life, appease God by a death of fifty or eighty years. Others, like Jérôme, without quite leaving the world, become exhausted with abstinences, are ruined by labors and vigils, pursued as they are by the trumpet of the last day.

Centuries have passed, and humanity continues to walk in its own mourning: the whole Middle Ages is one long burial. The Homer of feudal society is Dante: he sings of Hell, Purgatory and Paradise. Its philosopher is the author of the Imitation: he advocates the intimate pleasures of solitude, the pleasures of undressing, the selfishness of the coffin. Surely the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, bringing back philosophy, the sciences, letters, the arts, industry and its discoveries, will, to the powerful cries of the Renaissance and the Reformation, put an end to this pilgrimage from beyond the grave, change into a joyful civilization the Church of darkness and its nocturnal feasts. Nothing of the sort: philosophy and the muses are still ghosts. Draped in their shrouds and making the sign of the cross, they refine death; they teach us to savor it, to taste it, as the martyrs did not know how to do, as the Fathers of the desert never suspected.

Read our sermonaries, our ascetic and mystical authors, our small and high devotional books: always the terror of the other life, the dramaturgy of death. Death! Eternity! Judgment! Heaven or Hell! Have you thought about these four last endings? There is a book, a model of the genre, that still circulates through the countryside: it is the Trésor des âmes du Purgatoire. Full of apparitions of the dead and the damned, one cannot imagine the harm done by this abominable work, with what pusillanimity it filled the soul of the people.

Caesar was asked which death seemed preferable to him: The quickest and most unexpected, he replied. All the Romans thought like him. Hurry up, that’s the only prayer addressed to the executioners by those doomed by imperial tyranny. The guillotine would have delighted them with ease.

Christianity, on the contrary, has made sudden death a symptom of damnation, the greatest of misfortunes. Before expiring, shouldn’t the Christian recognize himself? There is a prayer of Saint Bridget expressly to ward off this danger. I knew, in my early youth, a young man who, after a violent exercise, suddenly seized with vomiting blood, cried out in his distress: Quickly, a doctor and a priest! Not a word, neither for his friends nor for his family; he forgot even his mother. The fear of death, exalted by that of hell, stifled in him all human feelings. I shall never forget that cry of supreme selfishness: Quickly a doctor and a priest!

The fear of death is a means for the Church of government and capture. She said to the young girl: Think of death! Stifle this thought of love, thought of damnation; spouse of Jesus Christ, the most beautiful of the children of men, bring him your virginity and your dowry; and you will be saved! And you will be holy! And you will be canonized! The poor girl listens: If I were going to damn myself! she thinks. She feels the emptiness of her existence without love; and this emptiness, which she would triumph over so easily by marriage, causes her to bury herself in celibacy. All alive she embraces death, like the warbler fascinated by the snake, which rushes crying into its throat.

XLIV.— Will you ask me, after that, if the cordial offered by Christianity against the fear of death produced the effect?

Alas! the disease was one of those that cannot be cured by conjurations and acts of faith. Neither taurobolium, nor baptism, nor infusions of blood nor immersion in water could do anything about it.

With Christianity, the world seemed like a phantasmagoria.

“And I saw,” says the Apocalypse, “a pale horse, and he who rode it was called Death, and Hell followed him.”

A society that lived only in the hope of resurrection was indeed dead; its cities, its palaces, its theaters were cemeteries, its temples catacombs. Dead from its terror, or dead from its new religion, which do you think is more to the glory of the Christian name?

As long as the persecution lasted, the struggle sustaining courage, the Church lived the life of the ancient society: the era of the martyrs, which begins and ends at the same time as that of the gladiators, is the liveliest in ecclesiastical history.

But when Caesar was converted, when the emperors, attacked under the purple of the universal disease, were seen to provide themselves, at their last moments, with the sacraments of the dead, all virtue vanished. On the one hand, the resurrection postponed until the end of the centuries, the souls, awaiting the hour of reunion with the body, kept in limbo; on the other hand, the terror of the judgments of God, all this, far from attenuating the evil, only made it worse. The Christian world, barely established, nearly fled, so sad was life to it, so full of trembling was death. Some, like Antoine, leave at the age of eighteen for the desert, strip themselves of their life, appease God by a death of fifty or eighty years. Others, like Jérôme, without quite leaving the world, become exhausted with abstinences, are ruined by labors and vigils, pursued as they are by the trumpet of the last day.

Centuries have passed, and humanity continues to walk in its own mourning: the whole Middle Ages is one long burial. The Homer of feudal society is Dante: he sings of Hell, Purgatory and Paradise. Its philosopher is the author of the Imitation: he advocates the intimate pleasures of solitude, the pleasures of undressing, the selfishness of the coffin. Surely the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, bringing back philosophy, the sciences, letters, the arts, industry and its discoveries, will, to the powerful cries of the Renaissance and the Reformation, put an end to this pilgrimage from beyond the grave, change into a joyful civilization the Church of darkness and its nocturnal feasts. Nothing of the sort: philosophy and the muses are still ghosts. Draped in their shrouds and making the sign of the cross, they refine death; they teach us to savor it, to taste it, as the martyrs did not know how to do, as the Fathers of the desert never suspected.

Read our sermonaries, our ascetic and mystical authors, our small and high devotional books: always the terror of the other life, the dramaturgy of death. Death! Eternity! Judgment! Heaven or Hell! Have you thought about these four last endings? There is a book, a model of the genre, that still circulates through the countryside: it is the Trésor des âmes du Purgatoire. Full of apparitions of the dead and the damned, one cannot imagine the harm done by this abominable work, with what pusillanimity it filled the soul of the people.

Caesar was asked which death seemed preferable to him: The quickest and most unexpected, he replied. All the Romans thought like him. Hurry up, that’s the only prayer addressed to the executioners by those doomed by imperial tyranny. The guillotine would have delighted them with ease.

Christianity, on the contrary, has made sudden death a symptom of damnation, the greatest of misfortunes. Before expiring, shouldn’t the Christian recognize himself? There is a prayer of Saint Bridget expressly to ward off this danger. I knew, in my early youth, a young man who, after a violent exercise, suddenly seized with vomiting blood, cried out in his distress: Quickly, a doctor and a priest! Not a word, neither for his friends nor for his family; he forgot even his mother. The fear of death, exalted by that of hell, stifled in him all human feelings. I shall never forget that cry of supreme selfishness: Quickly a doctor and a priest!

The fear of death is a means for the Church of government and capture. She said to the young girl: Think of death! Stifle this thought of love, thought of damnation; spouse of Jesus Christ, the most beautiful of the children of men, bring him your virginity and your dowry; and you will be saved! And you will be holy! And you will be canonized! The poor girl listens: If I were going to damn myself! she thinks. She feels the emptiness of her existence without love; and this emptiness, which she would triumph over so easily by marriage, causes her to bury herself in celibacy. All alive she embraces death, like the warbler fascinated by the snake, which rushes crying into its throat.

XLVII

Review the illustrious dead among the Christians: it is there that we must see the effect of this exitiabilis susperstitio, as Tacitus calls it. I stick to the classic examples.

Pascal, like Saint Jerome, pursued by a deadly hallucination, renounces marriage, becomes a monk, and dies in terror.

La Fontaine, affected by the contagion, wears a hair shirt in his last moments.

Racine abdicates his genius, begins to rhyme psalms, and makes small chapels with his children.

The great Condé, it is Bossuet who tells it in his funeral oration, encourages himself to leave life by the hope of seeing God “as he is, face to face,” sicuti est, facie ad faciem. The man whose courage had astonished the bravest, touched by Christian terrors, bent before the priest, and trembled. There was nothing in that soul, which had known neither country nor justice, and which faith had bewitched.

Turenne, a convert, stands ready to die, doing his devotions every day, so well, says Madame de Sévigné, that no one, either at court, or in the city, or in the army, had the least anxiety about his salvation.

The death of Fénelon, told by Cardinal de Beausset, is lamentable. Struck in his affections, in his legitimate ambition, exiled by a despot king, condemned by the pope, betrayed by Madame de Maintenon, separated from religious society, from political society, from all society, he drags along a desolate existence in mourning. . Having reached his last hour, he continues to exhort himself with texts from the Bible. After so many unjust persecutions, deceived hopes, atrocious wrenchings in heart and mind, the terror of eternal judgments still pursues him, the man of charity par excellence!. The more that he has been just, pious, loving, sympathetic to all, devoted to his country and to his prince, the more his religion fills him with bitterness. Oh! If I had against Christianity only this death of Fénelon, that would be enough for my hatred: I would never forgive this God.

Bossuet, the Hercules of the priesthood, Bossuet, on his deathbed, recalls the dying sinner recounted by Massillon in his Petit-Carême. What pain in dying!… Usque adeòne mori miserum est? With each pain he murmurs a verse from the breviary, especially the one that the dying Jesus repeated in the Garden of Olives: “Thy will be done, not mine! Fiat voluntas tua! After a glorious and full life, laden with years and labors, death is cruel to him, he groans, like that big fat king of the Amalekites whom Judge Samuel had killed: Siccine separat amara mors!… After having supported the Christian edifice on his robust shoulders for so long, the Gallican hero feels the emptiness of the system: no family, no social communion, not even Catholic life; the Bishop of Meaux is no more for the Church than the lowest of the faithful. Fiat voluntas tua! May Christ, who passed through this agony, aid him!

“The night from Thursday to Friday, April 11, was so bad, the pains were so intense during the morning until noon, that all the assistants believed that Bossuet was going to breathe his last. Father Bossuet, his nephew, then threw himself at the foot of his bed to ask for his blessing. Bossuet was full of the Spirit of God, speaking little, but always with piety. The Abbé Ledieu expressed to him at the same time his profound gratitude for all his kindness, begging him to think sometimes of the friends he left on earth, who were so devoted to his person and to his glory. At this word of glory, Bossuet, already entered into the tomb, already a stranger to the earth, seized with terror in the presence of the supreme judge whose judgment he was awaiting, half rising from his bed in pain, and revived by a holy indignation, regained the strength to distinctly pronounce these words: Cease this talk, and ask forgiveness for me of God for my sins. (Histoire de Bossuet, by Cardinal de Beausset.)

This is how the bishop of Nîmes died, Mgr Cart, another saint; and it is thus that you will die in your turn, Monsignor: for you too are a sincere Christian, devoted to the glory of the Church and prostrate before the judgments of God.

XLV. — Review the illustrious dead among the Christians: it is there that we must see the effect of this exitiabilis susperstitio, as Tacitus calls it. I stick to the classic examples.

Pascal, like Saint Jerome, pursued by a deadly hallucination, renounces marriage, becomes a monk, and dies in terror.

La Fontaine, affected by the contagion, wears a hair shirt in his last moments.

Racine abdicates his genius, begins to rhyme psalms, and makes small chapels with his children.

The great Condé, it is Bossuet who tells it in his funeral oration, encourages himself to leave life by the hope of seeing God “as he is, face to face,” sicuti est, facie ad faciem. The man whose courage had astonished the bravest, touched by Christian terrors, bent before the priest, and trembled. There was nothing in that soul, which had known neither country nor justice, and which faith had bewitched.

Turenne, a convert, stands ready to die, doing his devotions every day, so well, says Madame de Sévigné, that no one, either at court, or in the city, or in the army, had the least anxiety about his salvation.

The death of Fénelon, told by Cardinal de Beausset, is lamentable. Struck in his affections, in his legitimate ambition, exiled by a despot king, condemned by the pope, betrayed by Madame de Maintenon, separated from religious society, from political society, from all society, he drags along a desolate existence in mourning. . Having reached his last hour, he continues to exhort himself with texts from the Bible. After so many unjust persecutions, deceived hopes, atrocious wrenchings in heart and mind, the terror of eternal judgments still pursues him, the man of charity par excellence!. The more that he has been just, pious, loving, sympathetic to all, devoted to his country and to his prince, the more his religion fills him with bitterness. Oh! If I had against Christianity only this death of Fénelon, that would be enough for my hatred: I would never forgive this God.

Bossuet, the Hercules of the priesthood, Bossuet, on his deathbed, recalls the dying sinner recounted by Massillon in his Petit-Carême. What pain in dying!… Usque adeòne mori miserum est? With each pain he murmurs a verse from the breviary, especially the one that the dying Jesus repeated in the Garden of Olives: “Thy will be done, not mine! Fiat voluntas tua! After a glorious and full life, laden with years and labors, death is cruel to him, he groans, like that big fat king of the Amalekites whom Judge Samuel had killed: Siccine separat amara mors!… After having supported the Christian edifice on his robust shoulders for so long, the Gallican hero feels the emptiness of the system: no family, no social communion, not even Catholic life; the Bishop of Meaux is no more for the Church than the lowest of the faithful. Fiat voluntas tua! May Christ, who passed through this agony, aid him!

“The night from Thursday to Friday, April 11, was so bad, the pains were so intense during the morning until noon, that all the assistants believed that Bossuet was going to breathe his last. Father Bossuet, his nephew, then threw himself at the foot of his bed to ask for his blessing. Bossuet was full of the Spirit of God, speaking little, but always with piety. The Abbé Ledieu expressed to him at the same time his profound gratitude for all his kindness, begging him to think sometimes of the friends he left on earth, who were so devoted to his person and to his glory. At this word of glory, Bossuet, already entered into the tomb, already a stranger to the earth, seized with terror in the presence of the supreme judge whose judgment he was awaiting, half rising from his bed in pain, and revived by a holy indignation, regained the strength to distinctly pronounce these words: Cease this talk, and ask forgiveness for me of God for my sins. (Histoire de Bossuet, by Cardinal de Beausset.)

This is how the bishop of Nîmes died, Mgr Cart, another saint; and it is thus that you will die in your turn, Monsignor: for you too are a sincere Christian, devoted to the glory of the Church and prostrate before the judgments of God.

XLVIII

Let us conclude now.

The normal existence of man, considered as an individual, as head or member of a family, as citizen and patriot, as scholar, artist, industrialist, or soldier, presupposes a death that is in harmony with it, that is, say calm, gentle, satisfied, rather joyful than bitter.

Now, under Christianity, from its origin down to our own day, the death of man has not been happy, any more than in the last centuries of paganism.

There is therefore an anomaly in the existence and in the education of the Christians, as in that of the pagans of the decadence; and if it happens that the bad death is essential to Christianity, to its dogma, to its faith, it must necessarily be concluded that Christianity is not a moral religion, it is a religion of demoralization.

XLVI. — Let us conclude now.

The normal existence of man, considered as an individual, as head or member of a family, as citizen and patriot, as scholar, artist, industrialist, or soldier, presupposes a death that is in harmony with it, that is, say calm, gentle, satisfied, rather joyful than bitter.

Now, under Christianity, from its origin down to our own day, the death of man has not been happy, any more than in the last centuries of paganism.

There is therefore an anomaly in the existence and in the education of the Christians, as in that of the pagans of the decadence; and if it happens that the bad death is essential to Christianity, to its dogma, to its faith, it must necessarily be concluded that Christianity is not a moral religion, it is a religion of demoralization.

CHAPTER VI.

The Man in the Face of Death. (continued.)

XLIX

What does revolutionary philosophy teach us in its turn about this serious question of dying well?

I will try to present the deduction from it, keeping the reserve required by a doctrine which is produced for the first time, and which, consequently, must content itself with laying down its foundations.

I first set aside, as foreign to the subject, the question of the immortality of the soul, which I abandon to mysticism, true science allowing me neither to reject it nor to accept it.

Whether or not there is a God, sovereign personality, soul of the universe, of whom nature is the product and humanity the daughter, science, which proceeds by observation, cannot say a thing. It neither affirms nor denies; it doesn’t know, doesn’t even understand, and doesn’t worry about it. What does Justice, which must exist by itself and demonstrate itself to the conscience without foreign adminicule, care about this hypothesis?

Similarly, whether or not there is a survival for humanity, a renewal of life for souls and bodies, science says nothing about it, and morality cares just as little. As it exists independently of the idea of God and apart from its existence, it also exists apart from immortality; it does not need this myth any more than the other.

Euthanasia or dying well, being part of morality, must, like living well, do without any consideration of survival; it is a flat refusal of the immortality or migration of souls, which presents itself as a consolation for death.

The Revolution, by reforming the social economy and organizing equality, assures each man the fullness of his days: the first condition of a happy death. — By re-establishing Justice in the State, it ensures universal communion: the second condition of euthanasia.

But what is death in itself? What is it to die? Such is the question that philosophy asks itself, and whose preliminary solution is required by morality, barely leaving room for doubt on what we regard, with the wise men of all times, as the signs of the good death, the fullness of existence and social communion.

CHAPTER VI.

The Man in the Face of Death. (continued.)

XLVII. — What does revolutionary philosophy teach us in its turn about this serious question of dying well?

I will try to present the deduction from it, keeping the reserve required by a doctrine which is produced for the first time, and which, consequently, must content itself with laying down its foundations.

I first set aside, as foreign to the subject, the question of the immortality of the soul, which I abandon to mysticism, true science allowing me neither to reject it nor to accept it.

Whether or not there is a God, sovereign personality, soul of the universe, of whom nature is the product and humanity the daughter, science, which proceeds by observation, cannot say a thing. It neither affirms nor denies; it doesn’t know, doesn’t even understand, and doesn’t worry about it. What does Justice, which must exist by itself and demonstrate itself to the conscience without foreign adminicule, care about this hypothesis?

Similarly, whether or not there is a survival for humanity, a renewal of life for souls and bodies, science says nothing about it, and morality cares just as little. As it exists independently of the idea of God and apart from its existence, it also exists apart from immortality; it does not need this myth any more than the other.

L’euthanasie ou le bien mourir, faisant partie de la morale, doit se passer, comme le bien vivre, de toute considération de survivance; c’est ane fin de non-recevoir contre l’immortalité ou migration des âmes, qu’elle se présente comme consolation de la mort.

The Revolution, by reforming the social economy and organizing equality, assures each man the fullness of his days: the first condition of a happy death. — By re-establishing Justice in the State, it ensures universal communion: the second condition of euthanasia.

But what is death in itself? What is it to die? Such is the question that philosophy asks itself, and whose preliminary solution is required by morality, barely leaving room for doubt on what we regard, with the wise men of all times, as the signs of the good death, the fullness of existence and social communion.

L

Spiritualist writers, preoccupied with their dreams of immortality, do not fail to say that death is not an end, but a suspension, a transition, or a transformation of existence.

Death has been called eternal sleep, which promises an inactive immortality; others make death the sister of sleep, consanguineus leti sopor; then we say the sleep of death; finally, sleep and death are taken as synonyms: “Sleep already closes my drowned eyes,” says Virgil in Eurydice, expiring for the second time, conditionque natantia lumina somnus.

The moderns, borrowing their comparisons from natural history, compare the existence of man to the evolution of the insect which from caterpillar or worm becomes chrysalis, and then butterfly. Our death would thus be a rebirth, the moment when we leave this coarse envelope, to put on the wings of immortality. M. Jean Reynaud even thinks that there are worlds where the passage from one life to another takes place without an interruption of feeling, without a sudden change in the body, without a break in continuity.

“I find nothing impossible in the fact that there are happy quarters in the universe where the reigning law is to rise from one world to another, by means of a corresponding transformation of the organic apparatuses, without any act of splitting, and by marrying, so to speak, by an insensible transition, death with rebirth. It is thus that we see the insect, after having lived first in the darkness of the earth, then crawling on the ground, slowly rearranging its limbs, metamorphosing visibly, and finally springing up on its own. same, armed with shining wings, and full of new ardor, in the middle of the light population of the aerial world. My imagination (his imagination!) in no way refuses to represent, within these enormous gatherings of stars that we discover in the distance of the sky, beings acquiring during their lifetime, by the exercise of their virtues, organs of a higher nature, by the aid of which, without losing a moment’s consciousness of themselves, they would successively transport themselves, with inexpressible delights, in the company of their friends, from one residence to a better residence.” (Terre et Ciel, p. 300.)

Some call to their aid organic chemistry. They see in life and death a double phenomenon of animal composition and decomposition, under the alternately increasing and decreasing action of an unknown principle, soul, spirit or life. This principle takes hold of matter, fashions a body out of it, struggles successfully for some time against the chemical reactions that tend to dissolve it, then, overcome in the end by their accumulation, separates itself from this worn-out organism to begin again elsewhere the same exercise.

I regret disturbing all this poetry; but morality does not live on imaginations, any more than the natural sciences, and it is impossible to see anything else in all this palingenesis.

First, the kind of antithesis that is established between the chemical principle and the vitalist principle, brought back to the point of view that concerns us, says too much or not enough. Immortality, or to put it better metempsychosis, would thus be common to man and beasts; what did I say? to the plants themselves, which is absurd. But were I to admit the transmigration of sensitive and vegetative life, what could result from it for the determination of my morals? What does my justice matter? What matters above all to the happiness of my last moments?

As for the induction drawn from the different phases of organic evolution, notably in insects, apart from the fact that it is completely gratuitous, it still seems to me to lack logic, in that these phases indicate a continuous ascent of life in the animal, while death is a general cessation, brought about by a regular decrease. Thus, the passage from the worm to the state of chrysalis, in which we see an analogue of death, is nothing other than the puberty of the animal: nature, by conferring on it with the faculty of generating new organs, or transforming the ancients, basically does nothing more for the insect than what it does for man himself, in whom virility also occurs with a deployment, not to say a supplement of organism. The phase of puberty has its very marked opposition in woman, in the cessation of the menstrual flow, which completes our demonstration that, the phenomena that bring about death being radically opposed to those that produce life, it is against all logic to assimilate them and, consequently, to draw from them an argument in favor of survival.

This observation on the puberty of insects, which I present with all the reserve that my incompetence commands of me, will put us on the road to the truth.

XLVIII. — Spiritualist writers, preoccupied with their dreams of immortality, do not fail to say that death is not an end, but a suspension, a transition, or a transformation of existence.

Death has been called eternal sleep, which promises an inactive immortality; others make death the sister of sleep, consanguineus leti sopor; then we say the sleep of death; finally, sleep and death are taken as synonyms: “Sleep already closes my drowned eyes,” says Virgil in Eurydice, expiring for the second time, conditionque natantia lumina somnus.

The moderns, borrowing their comparisons from natural history, compare the existence of man to the evolution of the insect which from caterpillar or worm becomes chrysalis, and then butterfly. Our death would thus be a rebirth, the moment when we leave this coarse envelope, to put on the wings of immortality. M. Jean Reynaud even thinks that there are worlds where the passage from one life to another takes place without an interruption of feeling, without a sudden change in the body, without a break in continuity.

“I find nothing impossible in the fact that there are happy quarters in the universe where the reigning law is to rise from one world to another, by means of a corresponding transformation of the organic apparatuses, without any act of splitting, and by marrying, so to speak, by an insensible transition, death with rebirth. It is thus that we see the insect, after having lived first in the darkness of the earth, then crawling on the ground, slowly rearranging its limbs, metamorphosing visibly, and finally springing up on its own. same, armed with shining wings, and full of new ardor, in the middle of the light population of the aerial world. My imagination (his imagination!) in no way refuses to represent, within these enormous gatherings of stars that we discover in the distance of the sky, beings acquiring during their lifetime, by the exercise of their virtues, organs of a higher nature, by the aid of which, without losing a moment’s consciousness of themselves, they would successively transport themselves, with inexpressible delights, in the company of their friends, from one residence to a better residence.” (Terre et Ciel, p. 300.)

Some call to their aid organic chemistry. They see in life and death a double phenomenon of animal composition and decomposition, under the alternately increasing and decreasing action of an unknown principle, soul, spirit or life. This principle takes hold of matter, fashions a body out of it, struggles successfully for some time against the chemical reactions that tend to dissolve it, then, overcome in the end by their accumulation, separates itself from this worn-out organism to begin again elsewhere the same exercise.

I regret disturbing all this poetry; but morality does not live on imaginations, any more than the natural sciences, and it is impossible to see anything else in all this palingenesis.

First, the kind of antithesis that is established between the chemical principle and the vitalist principle, brought back to the point of view that concerns us, says too much or not enough. Immortality, or to put it better metempsychosis, would thus be common to man and beasts; what did I say? to the plants themselves, which is absurd. But were I to admit the transmigration of sensitive and vegetative life, what could result from it for the determination of my morals? What does my justice matter? What matters above all to the happiness of my last moments?

As for the induction drawn from the different phases of organic evolution, notably in insects, apart from the fact that it is completely gratuitous, it still seems to me to lack logic, in that these phases indicate a continuous ascent of life in the animal, while death is a general cessation, brought about by a regular decrease. Thus, the passage from the worm to the state of chrysalis, in which we see an analogue of death, is nothing other than the puberty of the animal: nature, by conferring on it with the faculty of generating new organs, or transforming the ancients, basically does nothing more for the insect than what it does for man himself, in whom virility also occurs with a deployment, not to say a supplement of organism. The phase of puberty has its very marked opposition in woman, in the cessation of the menstrual flow, which completes our demonstration that, the phenomena that bring about death being radically opposed to those that produce life, it is against all logic to assimilate them and, consequently, to draw from them an argument in favor of survival.

This observation on the puberty of insects, which I present with all the reserve that my incompetence commands of me, will put us on the road to the truth.

LI

Any existence that begins to occur has an end.

I mean here by end, not the cessation of the vital movement, but the goal towards which this movement is directed, and which, once reached, implies in the subject the cessation of life, which has become useless.

It follows from this that, death embracing both in its definition: 1. the highest term of organic evolution, that is to say a positive phenomenon; 2. the cessation or the slowing down of the movement that is the consequence of it, that is to say a negative phenomenon, we do not know death, we only know half of it, when we consider it only under this last aspect; to have the complete idea of it, it is necessary to consider it also under the other.

Death, in a word, is not nothingness; I do not hesitate to proclaim this principle at the head of this dissertation: for, I will repeat it here with common sense, and with the inventors of immortality themselves, nothing is made from nothing, nothing goes to nothing, nothing is nothing. If the dogma of survival depended on the application of these axioms, nothing would be more certain.

What, then, is death?

In the category of organized beings, the positive, culminating term of life is reproduction.

The individual awakens to life, emerges from its seed, grows, blossoms, emits its germ; then it dies imperceptibly, naturally, normally, leaving little by little its life to this germ, to which it ends up passing entirely: this is the law, visible above all in annual plants.

Who could here mark the precise moment of the vital cessation? Who does not see that death is a full half of life, life a full half of death? First, this life is concentrated in the seed; placed in the right conditions, it develops into a stem, along which it seems to rise to accumulate in the flower. According to the circumstances, this movement is more or less rapid, subject moreover to periodic intermittences, during which life rests: sleep, for all living beings, is a momentary return to the fetal state. Then the ineffable mystery is accomplished: life, having reached its goal, seems to be divided between two beings, the father and the child. For a few days you could not say if it belongs to one more than to the other, one would believe that they are but one; but soon you see it pass entirely to the embryo, which is detached, and leaves with it the father, who is dead.

Death, in a word, is the transmigration of life from one subject to another subject, by a particular act of life itself, which is called generation.

Among the insects, existence behaves in exactly the same way: it ends with generation. Many males perish in mating; females survive only as long as necessary for egg laying.

Perennial plants are no exception to this law. All produce seeds, and in all the seminiferous bud, or fruit, is extinguished at the maturity of the seed. Only, while in annual plants fruiting brings about the complete death of the plant, here the stem and the roots preserve a vitality that allows them to push out new buds the following year, as if in a first efflorescence their productive force had not been exhausted.

So it is with the great animals and with man: they survive the production of their seed and its hatching, sometimes long enough to see the children of their children up to the third and fourth generation,

Et natos natorum, et qui nascentur ab illis.

The reason for this survival is the education of the offspring.

From the duration of this education results for the parent subject the faculty of multiplying its generations: something that does not take place in annual plants and insects, and which would seem an exuberance of nature, an anomaly, if considerations of another order did not explain the mystery.

XLIX. — Any existence that begins to occur has an end.

I mean here by end, not the cessation of the vital movement, but the goal towards which this movement is directed, and which, once reached, implies in the subject the cessation of life, which has become useless.

It follows from this that, death embracing both in its definition: 1. the highest term of organic evolution, that is to say a positive phenomenon; 2. the cessation or the slowing down of the movement that is the consequence of it, that is to say a negative phenomenon, we do not know death, we only know half of it, when we consider it only under this last aspect; to have the complete idea of it, it is necessary to consider it also under the other.

Death, in a word, is not nothingness; I do not hesitate to proclaim this principle at the head of this dissertation: for, I will repeat it here with common sense, and with the inventors of immortality themselves, nothing is made from nothing, nothing goes to nothing, nothing is nothing. If the dogma of survival depended on the application of these axioms, nothing would be more certain.

What then, finally, is death?

In the category of organized beings, the positive, culminating term of life is reproduction.

The individual awakens to life, emerges from its seed, grows, blossoms, emits its germ; then it dies imperceptibly, naturally, normally, leaving little by little its life to this germ, to which it ends up passing entirely: this is the law, visible above all in annual plants.

Who could here mark the precise moment of the vital cessation? Who does not see that death is a full half of life, life a full half of death? First, this life is concentrated in the seed; placed in the right conditions, it develops into a stem, along which it seems to rise to accumulate in the flower. According to the circumstances, this movement is more or less rapid, subject moreover to periodic intermittences, during which life rests: sleep, for all living beings, is a momentary return to the fetal state. Then the ineffable mystery is accomplished: life, having reached its goal, seems to be divided between two beings, the father and the child. For a few days you could not say if it belongs to one more than to the other, one would believe that they are but one; but soon you see it pass entirely to the embryo, which is detached, and leaves with it the father, who is dead.

Death, in a word, is the transmigration of life from one subject to another subject, by a particular act of life itself, which is called generation.

Among the insects, existence behaves in exactly the same way: it ends with generation. Many males perish in mating; females survive only as long as necessary for egg laying.

Perennial plants are no exception to this law. All produce seeds, and in all the seminiferous bud, or fruit, is extinguished at the maturity of the seed. Only, while in annual plants fruiting brings about the complete death of the plant, here the stem and the roots preserve a vitality that allows them to push out new buds the following year, as if in a first efflorescence their productive force had not been exhausted.

So it is with the great animals and with man: they survive the production of their seed and its hatching, sometimes long enough to see the children of their children up to the third and fourth generation:

Et natos natorum, et qui nascentur ab illis.

The reason for this survival is the education of the offspring. From the duration of this education results for the parent subject the faculty of multiplying its generations: something that does not take place in annual plants and insects, and which would seem an exuberance of nature, an anomaly, if considerations of another order did not explain the mystery.

LII

To die, understanding by this word what physiological observation indicates, that is to say the second period of vital evolution, therefore means to reproduce; and if we grasp the phenomenon in its characteristic moment, to die is to accomplish the essential function of life, that which requires the highest degree of energy and exaltation. We feel it in the erotic spasm, rapid as lightning in vigorous individuals who know how to preserve their liberty in passion, but which in old people resembles a real passing away, from which more than one cannot recover.

Reread in the Nouvelle Héloïse the description of the kiss in the grove, the first pledge given by love, the first alert to death.

Is this where it ends? Yes, certainly, if you reduce existence to individuality, less than that, to the generative function, of which the two sexes form by their union the complete apparatus; no, if you consider existence in the series of generations, in their solidarity, their identity, which means, for man, in their moral life and in their works.

So whether I consider death from the point of view of nature, or whether I consider it from that of Justice, it appears to me as the consummation of my being; and the more I consult my heart, the more I perceive that, far from fleeing it with dread, I aspire to it with enthusiasm.

To pass from one home to another, or from a father to become a child, for life is not to end; and as this passage, this becoming, for every living being the solemn moment, the supreme act of existence, it follows that death, in the will of nature, is adequate to bliss: death is love.

He who loves wants to die; it is the thought of the Song: Fortis ut mors dilectio, says the wife. Even if it would mean dying, nothing will prevent me from loving you. This was the thought of that enthusiast who asked Cleopatra for a night, and consented to die afterwards.

And here you no longer have to distinguish between the kinds of love: the voluptuous and the chaste lover, the sensualist and the platonic, are subject to the same law. And the father, the friend, the citizen, think the same. For one as for the others, when passion has reached its paroxysm, when consciousness has risen to the pitch of heroism, dying is nothing, loving alone is something. M. Blanc-Saint-Bonnet, glimpsing this identity of death and love, encountered a beautiful thought:

“No one,” he says, “has entered further into love than he who has seen death several times.”

On the contrary, wean the heart from love and the conscience from Justice, empty the soul through contempt and selfishness, and you will have cowardice, apostasy and all its shame.

A man has been seen, in our times, filled by nature, fortune and celebrity, but type of selfishness and pride, dishonoring his last moments by a defection like one seldom sees in philosophy: this man is Heinrich Heine.

After having courted the Revolution for a long time, caressed Democracy, savored popularity, having sung of atheism and pleasure, having become a cripple, having in his heart neither faith nor love, without communion either with nature or with society , he becomes a deist, he returns, he says, to religious sentiment. Logic, his misanthropy, his secret terrors, would have him go as far as Catholicism; he is ashamed: he has hissed too much, too much blasphemed the religion of Christ! But he advocates the Bible and Judaism; he admires Moses and his legislation. Never, he says, did religion have an enemy in him. He is pleased to have married in Saint-Sulpice, and to have made the commitment to raise his children in the Christian religion. He believes that Catholicism will last many centuries yet and, like M. Cousin, he doffs his hat. It seems that, not daring out of human respect to address his prayer to Christ, he is trying by salamalecs to corrupt him. Protesting his esteem for the priest, after having hurled sarcasm at Hegel, at the Revolution, at the people of February, at the Protestant Reformation, at the new German exegesis, he ends with the praise of the Jesuits.

Henri Heine died as he had lived, as a whore; his place is in the charnel house of the Filles repenties: he would shame the Salpetriere.

Next to this shameful death, put that of a revolutionary.

I have really liked it, said Danton as he left the Conciergerie to go to the guillotine; then immediately, delighted at the memory of his two wives and his children, by the greater image of the fatherland, he added: I served the revolution, I overthrew royalty, I founded the republic… He had poured out his soul, like his love: what could the guillotine do to him?

Jesus, at the decisive moment, is dying: God forbid that I accuse him, along with Celsus and Porphyry, of having lacked courage! If his religion has become, through the terror of death, the scourge of humanity; the fault was not his, he who understood life differently and preached by example. But Jesus is celibate; he has weaned himself from love, he has given everything to the sect, he has only created an equivocal generation and he does not even know if this generation, ready to deny him, to flee, will survive him! He lacks that virile courage that conscience supplies but does not replace, and he has only an imperfect notion of justice. Superior to Danton for holiness, he is inferior to him for the energy that Love, Paternity and Right give to the soul; and that is why no man in the face of death has ever equaled Danton.

L. — To die, understanding by this word what physiological observation indicates, that is to say the second period of vital evolution, therefore means to reproduce; and if we grasp the phenomenon in its characteristic moment, to die is to accomplish the essential function of life, that which requires the highest degree of energy and exaltation. We feel it in the erotic spasm, rapid as lightning in vigorous individuals who know how to preserve their liberty in passion, but which in old people resembles a real passing away, from which more than one cannot recover.

Reread in the Nouvelle Héloïse the description of the kiss in the grove, the first pledge given by love, the first alert to death.

Is this where it ends? Yes, certainly, if you reduce existence to individuality, less than that, to the generative function, of which the two sexes form by their union the complete apparatus; no, if you consider existence in the series of generations, in their solidarity, their identity, which means, for man, in their moral life and in their works.

So whether I consider death from the point of view of nature, or whether I consider it from that of Justice, it appears to me as the consummation of my being; and the more I consult my heart, the more I perceive that, far from fleeing it with dread, I aspire to it with enthusiasm.

To pass from one home to another, or from a father to become a child, for life is not to end; and as this passage, this becoming, for every living being the solemn moment, the supreme act of existence, it follows that death, in the will of nature, is adequate to bliss: death is love.

He who loves wants to die; it is the thought of the Song: Fortis ut mors dilectio, says the wife. Even if it would mean dying, nothing will prevent me from loving you. This was the thought of that enthusiast who asked Cleopatra for a night, and consented to die afterwards.

And here you no longer have to distinguish between the kinds of love: the voluptuous and the chaste lover, the sensualist and the platonic, are subject to the same law. And the father, the friend, the citizen, think the same. For one as for the others, when passion has reached its paroxysm, when consciousness has risen to the pitch of heroism, dying is nothing, loving alone is something. M. Blanc-Saint-Bonnet, glimpsing this identity of death and love, encountered a beautiful thought:

“No one,” he says, “has entered further into love than he who has seen death several times.”

On the contrary, wean the heart from love and the conscience from Justice, empty the soul through contempt and selfishness, and you will have cowardice, apostasy and all its shame.

A man has been seen, in our times, filled by nature, fortune and celebrity, but type of selfishness and pride, dishonoring his last moments by a defection like one seldom sees in philosophy: this man is Heinrich Heine.

After having courted the Revolution for a long time, caressed Democracy, savored popularity, having sung of atheism and pleasure, having become a cripple, having in his heart neither faith nor love, without communion either with nature or with society , he becomes a deist, he returns, he says, to religious sentiment. Logic, his misanthropy, his secret terrors, would have him go as far as Catholicism; he is ashamed: he has hissed too much, too much blasphemed the religion of Christ! But he advocates the Bible and Judaism; he admires Moses and his legislation. Never, he says, did religion have an enemy in him. He is pleased to have married in Saint-Sulpice, and to have made the commitment to raise his children in the Christian religion. He believes that Catholicism will last many centuries yet and, like M. Cousin, he doffs his hat. It seems that, not daring out of human respect to address his prayer to Christ, he is trying by salamalecs to corrupt him. Protesting his esteem for the priest, after having hurled sarcasm at Hegel, at the Revolution, at the people of February, at the Protestant Reformation, at the new German exegesis, he ends with the praise of the Jesuits.

Henri Heine died as he had lived, as a whore; his place is in the charnel house of the Filles repenties: he would shame the Salpetriere.

Next to this shameful death, put that of a revolutionary.

I have really liked it, said Danton as he left the Conciergerie to go to the guillotine; then immediately, delighted at the memory of his two wives and his children, by the greater image of the fatherland, he added: I served the revolution, I overthrew royalty, I founded the republic… He had poured out his soul, like his love: what could the guillotine do to him?

Jesus, at the decisive moment, is dying: God forbid that I accuse him, along with Celsus and Porphyry, of having lacked courage! If his religion has become, through the terror of death, the scourge of humanity; the fault was not his, he who understood life differently and preached by example. But Jesus is celibate; he has weaned himself from love, he has given everything to the sect, he has only created an equivocal generation and he does not even know if this generation, ready to deny him, to flee, will survive him! He lacks that virile courage that conscience supplies but does not replace, and he has only an imperfect notion of justice. Superior to Danton for holiness, he is inferior to him for the energy that Love, Paternity and Right give to the soul; and that is why no man in the face of death has ever equaled Danton.

LIII

On these principles we can now build a theory.

It is a fact which has been observed for a long time, that death is all the more painful as life has been deprived of enjoyment. The man who has lived, as we say in a sense that is not mine here, is more determined for the fight; and a great error of our imagination is to believe that the celibate is more enterprising, more devoted, more ready to sacrifice, than the man who is the lover, husband, or father of a family. The law of Moses exempted the newly married or simply engaged Israelite from military service: it did not want a man who walked into the enemy with regret. Antiquity is full of this spirit. The famous Ten Thousand each had his companion; we do not see that they were more cowardly. And whatever devotion the Crimean army showed, I would venture to say that our soldiers would have felt less desolation in their hearts, if in their sufferings they had found this softening of love.

But if this principle of courage in the presence of death cannot be ignored, there is another kind of satisfaction no less powerful, that which springs from a duty accomplished, from an idea carried out.

Man, an intelligent, laboring being, the most industrious and the most sociable of beings, whose dominant is not love, but a law higher than love, man does not produce, does not engender only, like other animals, through sex; his generations are of several orders: he also generates by work, by intelligence, and especially by Justice.

Hence those heroic devotions to science, unknown to the vulgar; those martyrdoms of labor and industry, which the novel and the theater salute; hence the Dying for the Fatherland, so much repeated since Tyrtaeus. Let me greet you, all of you who knew how to rise up and die, in 89, in 92 and in 1830! You are in the communion of liberty, more alive than we who have lost it.

Hence also all those repentances in extremis, which the priest attributes to the efficacy of his ministry, and which are only the awakening of Justice, the cry of conscience, at the approach of death.

Produce an idea, a book, a poem, a machine; in a word, to make, as the tradesmen say, his masterpiece;

To serve his country and Humanity, to save the life of a man, to produce a good deed, to repair an injustice, to recover from crime by confession and tears:

All this is engendering; it is to reproduce oneself in social life, as to become a father is to reproduce oneself in organic life; I would almost say, if I were allowed to speak this language, it is to make oneself a participant in the Divinity.

The destiny of man is to expend himself entirely for his offspring, natural and spiritual; and that not only in the generative act, but in the initiation by work, which is its complement. And this expenditure that he makes of his being is his glory, it is his beatitude, his immortality.

This is what death is: the final act of love of the creature having reached the fullness of physical, intellectual and moral existence, and returning his soul in a paternal kiss. Moses, says the legend, after having delivered his people from the servitude of the Egyptians, after having disciplined them in the wilderness and led them victorious into the land of Canaan, died in Jehovah’s kiss.

The psalmist expresses the same idea, Beati qui in Domino moriuntur, that is to say, according to the energy of the mythical language, which under the name of God understands the social collectivity: Blessed are those who die in the embrace of their people! Who wouldn’t want to die like this?

In summary, human life reaches its fullness, it is ripe for heaven, as Massillon says, when it has satisfied the following conditions:

1. Love, paternity, family: extension and perpetuation of being by carnal generation, or reproduction of the subject in body and soul, person and will;

2. Work, or industrial generation: extension and perpetuation of being by its action on nature. Because as I said above, man also has a love for nature; he unites with it, and from this fruitful union issues a generation of a new order;

3. Social communion, or Justice: participation in collective life and in the progress of Humanity.

Love and paternity can be supplemented by consanguinity, by existence within an adopted family, especially by labor. Labor is the real substitute for love. Man, even in the affections which vitality gives birth to in him, is not so enslaved to the organism that he must inevitably fulfill all of its functions: love among elite souls has no of organs.

Labor and Justice do not replace or supplement each other.

If these conditions are violated, existence is anxious; man, unable to live or to die, belongs to misery.

If, on the contrary, these same conditions are met, existence is full: it is a feast, a love song, a perpetual enthusiasm, an endless hymn to happiness. At whatever hour the signal is given, man is ready: for he is always in death, which means in life and in love.

LI. — On these principles we can now build a theory.

It is a fact which has been observed for a long time, that death is all the more painful as life has been deprived of enjoyment. The man who has lived, as we say in a sense that is not mine here, is more determined for the fight; and a great error of our imagination is to believe that the celibate is more enterprising, more devoted, more ready to sacrifice, than the man who is the lover, husband, or father of a family. The law of Moses exempted the newly married or simply engaged Israelite from military service: it did not want a man who walked into the enemy with regret. Antiquity is full of this spirit. The famous Ten Thousand each had his companion; we do not see that they were more cowardly. And whatever devotion the Crimean army showed, I would venture to say that our soldiers would have felt less desolation in their hearts, if in their sufferings they had found this softening of love.

But if this principle of courage in the presence of death cannot be ignored, there is another kind of satisfaction no less powerful, that which springs from a duty accomplished, from an idea carried out.

Man, an intelligent, laboring being, the most industrious and the most sociable of beings, whose dominant is not love, but a law higher than love, man does not produce, does not engender only, like other animals, through sex; his generations are of several orders: he also generates by work, by intelligence, and especially by Justice.

Hence those heroic devotions to science, unknown to the vulgar; those martyrdoms of labor and industry, which the novel and the theater disdain; hence the Dying for the Fatherland, so much repeated since Tyrtaeus.

Let me salute you, all of you who knew how to rise up and die, in 89, in 92 and in 1830! You are in the communion of liberty, more alive than we who have lost it.

Hence also all those repentances in extremis, which the priest attributes to the efficacy of his ministry, and which are only the awakening of Justice, the cry of conscience, at the approach of death.

Produce an idea, a book, a poem, a machine; in a word, to make, as the tradesmen say, his masterpiece;

To serve his country and Humanity, to save the life of a man, to produce a good deed, to repair an injustice, to recover from crime by confession and tears:

All this is engendering; it is to reproduce oneself in social life, as to become a father is to reproduce oneself in organic life; I would almost say, if I were allowed to speak this language, it is to make oneself a participant in the Divinity.

The destiny of man is to expend himself entirely for his offspring, natural and spiritual; and that not only in the generative act, but in the initiation by work, which is its complement. And this expenditure that he makes of his being is his glory, it is his beatitude, his immortality.

This is what death is: the final act of love of the creature having reached the fullness of physical, intellectual and moral existence, and returning his soul in a paternal kiss. Moses, says the legend, after having delivered his people from the servitude of the Egyptians, after having disciplined them in the wilderness and led them victorious into the land of Canaan, died in Jehovah’s kiss. The psalmist expresses the same idea, Beati qui in Domino moriuntur, that is to say, according to the energy of the mythical language, which under the name of God understands the social collectivity: Blessed are those who die in the embrace of their people! Who wouldn’t want to die like this?

LII. — In summary, human life reaches its fullness, it is ripe for heaven, as Massillon says, when it has satisfied the following conditions:

1. Love, paternity, family: extension and perpetuation of being by carnal generation, or reproduction of the subject in body and soul, person and will;

2. Work, or industrial generation: extension and perpetuation of being by its action on nature. Because as I said above, man also has a love for nature; he unites with it, and from this fruitful union issues a generation of a new order;

3. Social communion, or Justice: participation in collective life and in the progress of Humanity.

Love and paternity can be supplemented by consanguinity, by existence within an adopted family, especially by labor. Labor is the real substitute for love. Man, even in the affections which vitality gives birth to in him, is not so enslaved to the organism that he must inevitably fulfill all of its functions: love among elite souls has no of organs.

Labor and Justice do not replace or supplement each other.

If these conditions are violated, existence is anxious; man, unable to live or to die, belongs to misery.

If, on the contrary, these same conditions are met, existence is full: it is a feast, a love song, a perpetual enthusiasm, an endless hymn to happiness. At whatever hour the signal is given, man is ready: for he is always in death, which means in life and in love.

LIV

What meaning, then, could have for me, either from the point of view of morality or from the point of view of destiny, this hypothesis of despair, which has become a principle of religion in tyrannized societies: If there is another life after dead?

I conceive that a frightened ontology, finding a contradiction in these two terms that embrace all life, to appear and to disappear, seeks the solution of this antinomy in an eternity of being where passing forms reproduce themselves endlessly; where, consequently, people and faces meet; where each self, exhausted by a first evolution, resurrects for another; where any specimen of our organic essence, given at such a moment of collective life by a combination of circumstances that must not return, and conceived as substantial individuality, soul or monad, reappears with its modes, its faculties, its character, its memories and the feeling of its inviolable identity. I conceive, I say, that an unstoppable speculation agitates these psycho-theological curiosities: of what use can they be for my present destiny, for the rule of my morals, for the happiness of my life and the sweetness of my death?

By my birth, by my family, by my loves, I know that I am in organic communion with all my species; through my work, I know that I am in communion with all of nature; through my justice, I know that I am in communion with society: I am in communion with the whole universe. Thanks to this communion, there are not even little children whose lives do not have their fullness. They have hurt no one; they have filled us with joy. We collected their smiles, their looks, their pure grace, their lovely words. Unable to feel death, they have reached perfection; and if we have loved them, we have lost nothing.

What can your immortality add to my happiness and my virtue? Am I not now immortal, to speak your style, since I am in the past, in the present, in the future, in infinity? You cannot give me more than the sublime, whether I love or I produce, or whether I accomplish the works of Justice. Now, this sublime, I possess it; it depends on me and on the use I know how to make of my faculties: your immortality will never surpass it.

If that is what you call being immortal, I am; if it is a question of something else, I no longer understand you, my mind being unable to conceive, my soul not being able to desire, anything beyond the sublime.

There is a solemn act in the life of man that translates all this doctrine, an act today almost unknown to the people, but which the Roman regarded as sacred: it is the Testament.

What does this monument of the last will signify, by which man acts beyond the tomb?

This only, that the testator, in dying, affirms the continuation of his presence in the family and the society from the heart of which he vanishes.

Antiquity, which believed little in the survival of souls, was very religious with regard to the testament: at the moment of giving battle, all the Roman soldiers made theirs. Like the three hundred of Leonidas, like Moses, they died in the kiss of the fatherland. When the Bible, recounting the death of the patriarchs, concludes with these words: He was reunited with his fathers, it expresses the high thought of the testament. When Jesus on the cross exclaims: My Father, I commend my soul into your hands, by this act of communion with Humanity, designated under the mystical allegory of the Father, he is making his testament. The testament! It is the name given to the doctrine of Christ, as to that of Moses.

We all have a testament to make; but the perfect Christian does not test, unless it is a question of disinheriting his own and leaving his property to the Church. The Christian on his deathbed has nothing to say to his brothers except this mournful farewell: Pray for me! It is not his soul that remains to us, it is ours that he invites to follow him: what a reversal!

Death, if I may be permitted this figure borrowed from economics and which has nothing out of place here, is the balance by which our career is liquidated. If this career is full, there is profit; it is euthanasia, death in rapture. If, on the contrary, the journey has been made by way of vice and misfortune, there is a deficit: it is death in despair, bankruptcy in existence.

Today, when the Revolution has barely done more than show itself to the world, a happy death is as rare as liberty and justice: most of us end up as criminals. No social communion, no peace for our last moments. The family would still support us: it dissolves in its turn; those who talk about it the most are those who dishonor it the most, and it only appears at the last hour to season it with regrets. Labor, surrounded by everything that makes it repugnant and painful, without reciprocity for the mercenary, without dignity for the capitalist and the entrepreneur, who see in it only a means of fortune, would labor make the dying man rejoice with his skeleton face? Empty of love and virtue we come to the end of the day, empty we must fall asleep: is it surprising that instead of the joys of plenitude we find only the agony of hunger?

LIII. — What meaning, then, could have for me, either from the point of view of morality or from the point of view of destiny, this hypothesis of despair, which has become a principle of religion in tyrannized societies: If there is another life after dead? 

I conceive that a frightened ontology, finding a contradiction in these two terms that embrace all life, to appear and to disappear, seeks the solution in an eternity of being where passing forms reproduce themselves endlessly; where, consequently, people and faces meet; where each self, exhausted by a first evolution, resurrects for another; where any specimen of our organic essence, given at such a moment of collective life by a combination of circumstances that must not return, and conceived as substantial individuality, soul or monad, reappears with its modes, its faculties, its character, its memories and the feeling of its inviolable identity. I conceive, I say, that an unstoppable speculation agitates these psycho-theological curiosities: of what use can they be for my present destiny, for the rule of my morals, for the happiness of my life and the sweetness of my death?

By my birth, by my family, by my loves, I know that I am in organic communion with all my species; through my work, I know that I am in communion with all of nature; through my justice, I know that I am in communion with society: I am in communion with the whole universe. Thanks to this communion, there are not even little children whose lives do not have their fullness. They have hurt no one; they have filled us with joy. We collected their smiles, their looks, their pure grace, their lovely words. Unable to feel death, they have reached perfection; and if we have loved them, we have lost nothing.

What can your immortality add to my happiness and my virtue? Am I not now immortal, to speak your style, since I am in the past, in the present, in the future, in infinity? You cannot give me more than the sublime, whether I love or I produce, or whether I accomplish the works of Justice. Now, this sublime, I possess it; it depends on me and on the use I know how to make of my faculties: your immortality will never surpass it.

If that is what you call being immortal, I am; if it is a question of something else, I no longer understand you, my mind being unable to conceive, my soul not being able to desire, anything beyond the sublime.

There is a solemn act in the life of man that translates all this doctrine, an act today almost unknown to the people, but which the Roman regarded as sacred: it is the Testament.

What does this monument of the last will signify, by which man acts beyond the tomb?

This only, that the testator, in dying, affirms the continuation of his presence in the family and the society from the heart of which he vanishes.

Antiquity, which believed little in the survival of souls, was very religious with regard to the testament: at the moment of giving battle, all the Roman soldiers made theirs. Like the three hundred of Leonidas, like Moses, they died in the kiss of the fatherland. When the Bible, recounting the death of the patriarchs, concludes with these words: He was reunited with his fathers, it expresses the high thought of the testament. (N) When Jesus on the cross exclaims: My Father, I commend my soul into your hands, by this act of communion with Humanity, designated under the mystical allegory of the Father, he is making his testament. The testament! It is the name given to the doctrine of Christ, as to that of Moses.

We all have a testament to make; but the perfect Christian does not test, unless it is a question of disinheriting his own and leaving his property to the Church. The Christian on his deathbed has nothing to say to his brothers except this mournful farewell: Pray for me! It is not his soul that remains to us, it is ours that he invites to follow him: what a reversal!

Death, if I may be permitted this figure borrowed from economics and which has nothing out of place here, is the balance by which our career is liquidated. If this career is full, there is profit; it is euthanasia, death in rapture. If, on the contrary, the journey has been made by way of vice and misfortune, there is a deficit: it is death in despair, bankruptcy in existence.

Today, when the Revolution has barely done more than show itself to the world, a happy death is as rare as liberty and justice: most of us end up as criminals. No social communion, no peace for our last moments. The family would still support us: it dissolves in its turn; those who talk about it the most are those who dishonor it the most, and it only appears at the last hour to season it with regrets. Labor, surrounded by everything that makes it repugnant and painful, without reciprocity for the mercenary, without dignity for the capitalist and the entrepreneur, who see in it only a means of fortune, would labor make the dying man rejoice with his skeleton face? Empty of love and virtue we come to the end of the day, empty we must fall asleep: is it surprising that instead of the joys of plenitude we find only the agony of the end?

LV

Have you ever, Monseigneur, witnessed a beautiful death? Listen again to this story; it is neither a hero nor a genius, but a poor artisan, a pure race of free thinkers, who ends up in revolutionary communion as never a Christian knew how to do in that of the Church:

My father, at the age of sixty-six, exhausted by work, in which the blade, as they say, had worn out the scabbard, suddenly felt that his end had come. Never, I must say, did I notice in him a word, a gesture, that testified to impiety any more than to devotion. He neither prayed nor blasphemed, entirely devoted to his business, expecting nothing but his labor, and importuning neither heaven nor men with his solicitations. Sometimes at great solemnities, I have seen him do like everyone else, go to mass: he was bored there, understanding nothing, as foreign to the matter as a deaf-mute. If the priest ascended the pulpit, he couldn’t stand it any longer, and without laughing or thinking, he left quickly. Surely the weight of his devotions was light.

On the day of his death, he had, something which is not uncommon, the fixed feeling of his end. So he wanted to prepare for the great journey, and gave his instructions himself. Relatives and friends are summoned; a modest supper is served, enlivened by soft conversation. At dessert, he begins his farewells, expresses his regrets to one of his sons who died ten years earlier, who died before his time.I was absent, for the service…. of the family. His youngest son, taking the cause of his emotion badly, said to him: Come on, father, drive away these sad ideas. Why do you despair? Aren’t you a man? Your time has not yet come.

— You are mistaken, replied the old man, if you imagine that I am afraid of death. I tell you it is over; I feel it, and I wanted to die among you. Come on, let’s serve the coffee!… He tastes a few spoonfuls. — I have had a lot of trouble in my life, he said; I have not succeeded in my undertakings (the innocent!); but I have loved you all, and I die without reproach. Tell your brother that I regret leaving you so poor; but that he persevere…

A relative of the family, somewhat devout, thinks he must comfort the patient, saying, like the catechism, that not everything ends with death; that it is then that we must give an account, but that God’s mercy is great…. Cousin Gaspard, replies my father, I don’t know what’s going on, and I don’t think about it at all. I feel neither fear nor desire; I die surrounded by what I love, I have my paradise in my heart.

Around ten o’clock he fell asleep, murmuring a last good evening, friendship, good conscience, the hope of a better destiny for those he left behind, all coming together within him to give perfect calm to his last moments. . The next day my brother wrote to me with transport: Our father died bravely!… The priests will not canonize him; but I, who knew him, proclaim him in my turn a brave man, and do not wish for myself any other funeral oration.

LIV. — Have you ever, Monseigneur, witnessed a beautiful death? Listen again to this story; it is neither a hero nor a genius, but a poor artisan, a pure race of free thinkers, who ends up in revolutionary communion as never a Christian knew how to do in that of the Church.

My father, at the age of sixty-six, exhausted by work, in which the blade, as they say, had worn out the scabbard, suddenly felt that his end had come. Never, I must say, did I notice in him a word, a gesture, that testified to impiety any more than to devotion. He neither prayed nor blasphemed, entirely devoted to his business, expecting nothing but his labor, and importuning neither heaven nor men with his solicitations. Sometimes at great solemnities, I have seen him do like everyone else, go to mass: he was bored there, understanding nothing, as foreign to the matter as a deaf-mute. If the priest ascended the pulpit, he couldn’t stand it any longer, and without laughing or thinking, he left quickly. Surely the weight of his devotions was light.

On the day of his death, he had, something which is not uncommon, the fixed feeling of his end. So he wanted to prepare for the great journey, and gave his instructions himself. Relatives and friends are summoned; a modest supper is served, enlivened by soft conversation. At dessert, he begins his farewells, expresses his regrets to one of his sons who died ten years earlier, who died before his time.I was absent, for the service…. of the family. His youngest son, taking the cause of his emotion badly, said to him: Come on, father, drive away these sad ideas. Why do you despair? Aren’t you a man? Your time has not yet come. — You are mistaken, replied the old man, if you imagine that I am afraid of death. I tell you it is over; I feel it, and I wanted to die among you. Come on, let’s serve the coffee!… He tastes a few spoonfuls. — I have had a lot of trouble in my life, he said; I have not succeeded in my undertakings (the innocent!); but I have loved you all, and I die without reproach. Tell your brother that I regret leaving you so poor; but that he persevere…

A relative of the family, somewhat devout, thinks he must comfort the patient, saying, like the catechism, that not everything ends with death; that it is then that we must give an account, but that God’s mercy is great…. Cousin Gaspard, replies my father, I don’t know what’s going on, and I don’t think about it at all. I feel neither fear nor desire; I die surrounded by what I love, I have my paradise in my heart.

Around ten o’clock he fell asleep, murmuring a last good evening, friendship, good conscience, the hope of a better destiny for those he left behind, all coming together within him to give perfect calm to his last moments. . The next day my brother wrote to me with transport: Our father died bravely!… The priests will not canonize him; but I, who knew him, proclaim him in my turn a brave man, and do not wish for myself any other funeral oration.

LVI

Compare this death with that of the Christian, surrounded by candles, crucifixes, holy water; to whom the confessor speaks of the judgments of God, who is rubbed with holy oils, who is overwhelmed with exorcisms, as if, on the threshold of the tomb, the torture of the reprobate were beginning!

Oh what! Here are men, the first in genius and glory, filled with the admiration of their contemporaries, sure of posterity, for whom death is unbearable: they are Christians.

And this poor cooper, a stranger to all greatness, dying of weariness in a cottage, smiles at his last hour; his conscience takes the place of everything; he is happy. He is not impious, the man of the people does not know impiety; but he is no more a Christian than he who, on the edge of the grave, gives a tear to the son who is no more, because the death of this son who preceded him diminishes him; who regrets his unfortunate undertakings, because they leave him a void; who does not fear the other life, but who does not need it, because he has it in his heart!

To look death in the face, to greet it with love, to place one’s soul in the hands of one’s children, and to escape into the family, leaving one’s body on the ground like a scrap, that is neither spiritualist nor mystical, nor a Christian; it is quite simply social reality, it is Justice.

Today, when we are neither with Christ nor with the Revolution, we have invented hideous ways for the dying. Around the patient, everything conspires to hide his condition from him: they amuse him, they deceive him, they chloroform him; we do it so well that he passes away without having thought of it. No last words, novissima verba; no transmission of the soul, no testament. He is dying like a dog: Unus is finite hominis and jumenti.

O death! Eldest sister of the loves, always a virgin and always fruitful, you whom I recognized in the first sigh of my youth, which I felt with every surge of my civic enthusiasm, to which I can already offer thirty years and more of labor, sweet and happy Death, could you frighten me? Isn’t it you that I adore in love and friendship? You on whom I meditate in eternal truth? You whom I cultivate in this nature, whose communion stifles in my heart even the feeling of my poverty? You, finally, to whom I have erected a temple in my soul, and whom I never cease to invoke, O sovereign Justice!…

If you come today, I am ready: I love my own and I am loved by them; I fought well, bonum certamen certavi; if I have made mistakes, at least I have not despaired of virtue, and I have always recovered. I have begun my testament, which others will complete, and I have the firm confidence that anyone who has read it will understand this strong word, that there is no servitude for one who has made a pact with death. If you don’t come until tomorrow, I’ll be even better prepared; I will have done more, I will embrace you with an effusion one degree more ardent. If you delay ten years, I will leave as if for the triumph.

O death! Calumniated for so long, and who is terrible only to the wicked, the only ones worthy of being called immortals, would you not be the fateful enigma whose word must make the sphinx of religions vanish, by delivering humanity from its terrors? You haven’t told me everything yet; you keep more than one secret from me. Teach me, and I will repeat your word; and all the nations will confess that you are the only living and true Christ.

LV. — Compare this death with that of the Christian, surrounded by candles, crucifixes, holy water; to whom the confessor speaks of the judgments of God, who is rubbed with holy oils, who is overwhelmed with exorcisms, as if, on the threshold of the tomb, the torture of the reprobate were beginning!

Oh what! Here are men, the first in genius and glory, filled with the admiration of their contemporaries, sure of posterity, for whom death is unbearable: they are Christians.

And this poor cooper, a stranger to all greatness, dying of weariness in a cottage, smiles at his last hour; his conscience takes the place of everything; he is happy. He is not impious, the man of the people does not know impiety; but he is no more a Christian than he who, on the edge of the grave, gives a tear to the son who is no more, because the death of this son who preceded him diminishes him; who regrets his unfortunate undertakings, because they leave him a void; who does not fear the other life, but who does not need it, because he has it in his heart!

To look death in the face, to greet it with love, to place one’s soul in the hands of one’s children, and to merge into the family, leaving one’s body on the ground like a scrap, that is neither spiritualist nor mystical, nor a Christian; it is quite simply social reality, it is Justice.

Today, when we are neither with Christ nor with the Revolution, we have invented hideous ways for the dying. Around the patient, everything conspires to hide his condition from him: they amuse him, they deceive him, they chloroform him; we do it so well that he passes away without having thought of it. No last words, novissima verba; no transmission of the soul, no testament. He is dying like a dog: Unus is finite hominis and jumenti. (O)

O death! Eldest sister of the loves, always a virgin and always fruitful, you whom I recognized in the first sigh of my youth, which I felt with every surge of my civic enthusiasm, to which I can already offer thirty years and more of labor, sweet and happy Death, could you frighten me? Isn’t it you that I adore in love and friendship? You on whom I meditate in eternal truth? You whom I cultivate in this nature, whose communion stifles in my heart even the feeling of my poverty? You, finally, to whom I have erected a temple in my soul, and whom I never cease to invoke, O sovereign Justice!…

If you come today, I am ready: I love my own and I am loved by them; I fought well, bonum certamen certavi; if I have made mistakes, at least I have not despaired of virtue, and I have always recovered. I have begun my testament, which others will complete, and I have the firm confidence that anyone who has read it will understand this strong word, that there is no servitude for one who has made a pact with death. If you don’t come until tomorrow, I’ll be even better prepared; I will have done more, I will embrace you with an effusion one degree more ardent. If you delay ten years, I will leave as if for the triumph.

O death! Calumniated for so long, and who is terrible only to the wicked, the only ones worthy of being called immortals, would you not be the fateful enigma whose word must make the sphinx of religions vanish, by delivering humanity from its terrors? You haven’t told me everything yet; you keep more than one secret from me. Teach me, and I will repeat your word; and all the nations will confess that you are the only living and true Christ.

APPENDIX.

NOTES AND CLARIFICATIONS.

Footnote (A), page 26.

God, power of mankind. “It is not permitted,” observes a critic of our friends, “to interpret this line of Virgil in this way.” — Metaphorically, no: the word potestas, word for word puissance, power, in the place quoted (Aeneid, book X, v. 18), is taken for sovereign. But if there is a poet to whom it is sometimes permissible to attribute, apart from the epic or figurative meaning, a philosophical meaning, a meaning which, in the particular case, is moreover the literal meaning, it is certainly Virgil. Virgil is the cantor of a new religion, of the religion which later became Christianity, that is to say, the most complete symbolism of the human soul and of the destinies of Humanity. According to this great poet, philosopher, hierophant and innovator, an infinite Spirit agitates matter, maintains life in the Universe, gives birth to all living beings. Our souls are seeds of it, semina, emanations. In other words, God, the infinite, eternal, absolute spirit, which reveals itself only by particularizing itself and uniting itself, in the form of souls, with organized bodies, God is in us, God is each of us, he is the power that makes us be; he is, therefore, epically speaking, our sovereign. The word is double-meaning, potestas. This is the opposite of what Saint Paul says: We live in God, we move, we are in God. The doctrine of Virgil has been abandoned, although on this particular point it was perhaps nearer the truth—we are dealing here with metaphysical truth—than that of the Apostle.

Virgil, as we will show elsewhere (Study IX), in undertaking his poem, was not making a work of pure fantasy or pure nationality: under the names of the vulgar gods, it was faith in the future that he was expressing, as he sang, in the glory of Rome, of the greatness of civilization. This admitted, and no one can dispute it, the poem of Virgil, an imitation, at first glance, of those of Homer, acquires a unique originality in the splendor of poetry. The expressions that Virgil borrows from the Iliad and the Odyssey have in his language a significance that they did not have in the Greek. Thus the title of father and king of men and gods given to Zeus, does not imply his eternity: Zeus, son of Kronos, is not eternal; in good mythology, there would be a contradiction. In the Aeneid, on the contrary, a poem at once historical and philosophical, national and humanitarian, traditional and palingenesian, Jupiter, although son of Saturn, is called an eternal power, because the poet, full of his subject as much as of his model, deliberately mixes, in his thought, mythology and metaphysics, Homer and Plato, and creates for himself a style of his own, which will gradually become the style of the new theology.

Footnote (B), page 43.

Corruption of the Church of Rome. — The immorality, quite out of line, which at all times has distinguished the Church of Rome, is one of the most considerable facts of ecclesiastical history and, from the religious point of view, the most inexplicable. Neither climate, nor race, nor anything in the order of nature and society that can excite concupiscence and weaken virtuous energy, can here be invoked as the cause of this singular and quite special dissolution. Ancient Italy was the nursery of all virtues: it was by its virtue, even more than by its arms, that the Roman republic triumphed over the nations; nowhere did the family seem more holy, marriage more chaste, morals more frugal; the first, finally, among the cities, Rome rose to the notion of universal law and made it the law of the world. What could have made papal Rome the bottomless receptacle of all filth? How did the center of Christianity become the center of corruption? To this question, those of our readers who have followed us can make the answer: it is precisely that Rome is the seat of the Papacy, the capital of Catholicism.

Once it is recognized that the religious principle, given in appearance to serve as the support and safeguard of human virtue, is the very principle of human dissolution, it follows that where we find the hearth of this cult, there also is the focus of immorality. It is the spectacle of Roman corruptions that, from the era of the martyrs until the present moment, has aroused against Rome the indignation of the peoples, of the reformers and of the princes, at the same time as it has brought upon it the anathema of the saints. In the 12th century, Saint Bernard declared the disease incurable. It was the sight of this intense corruption that made Luther indignant; that, two centuries later, brought the reforming enterprise of Port-Royal, exterminated by iron and fire, at the request of the Pope and the Jesuits. At that time, all Christians of note, even those whom the Papacy had canonized, Saint Francis de Sales, Saint Vincent de Paul, Saint Charles Borromeo, the Cardinal de Bérulle, the Bishop of Belley M. Camus, as well as Jansenius and Saint-Cyran, mourned the abuses and wounds of the court of Rome. Time marches on, and the dreadful canker does not lessen. What morality should be expected from people supposedly in charge of God’s business? It was after seeing Rome, as Luther had seen it three hundred years before, that the Abbé de Lamennais wrote his Paroles d’un croyant, an act of abjuration of the Christian faith. It is the feeling of this immorality that at this moment divides the Orthodox and makes the most fervent desire the abolition of the temporal power of the popes as a remedy for Roman infamy, and the only means of preventing the imminent destruction of Catholicism. After 1848, was it not enough for the government of the French Republic to approach this rotten trunk to infect the whole generation? The visible change in the mores of the French people, that painful enigma of contemporary history, dates from there. December 2 is the poisoned fruit that we brought back from the Rome expedition. Will Rome yield to the cries of her friends who beg her with clasped hands to grant reforms? No: the idea of reforming the Church has become more impractical than ever; abandoning the temporal power would serve no purpose. The Church of Rome can only regain a semblance of sanctity on the condition of no longer being the mother and mistress of the other churches, on the condition of returning to evangelical democracy, soon to be absorbed by social democracy. The pulpit of immorality must perish; the salvation of the human race is at stake.

Footnote (C), page 43.

The secret of the Jesuits. — It is horrible to think so, but it must be said, because necessity makes it a law. Let us forget the individuals, all more or less unconscious of the thought that leads them; only see the corporation in the high points of its history. What is the Society of Jesus aiming for? For the enslavement of mankind, by the combination of ignorance, superstition, force and corruption of the heart. Above all, thinks the society of Jesus, it is necessary that man obey, that the greatest number serve the smallest: religion, like government, is given only for that. Does the Society of Jesus believe in the truth of Christianity? What does it matter to it, really? Any religion is good, which fulfills the stated purpose. To tame conscience and reason, to subject the will, to make oneself master of man, this is what religious truth consists of. Christianity or paganism, a matter of time and place. The Jesuits behave accordingly: they are ready for all transactions; it is only the goal on which they do not vary. Through them the faith of Christ was continually diminished; it turns to Lamaism, to idolatry, favoring, provoking all the aberrations of the mind and the senses. The little bit of sound morality that Christianity preserved in its penitentiary institutions, thanks to the Jesuits, was everywhere corrupted. Before Molinos and Madame Guyon, they propagated the doctrine of moral annihilation, by which the soul, whatever it does, no longer sins; it is they who have most contributed to fashioning the equivocal tenderness of religious gallantry. Faced with their appalling ravages, Richelieu, according to Michelet, recoiled. It was the Jesuits who started the war against the Reformed. Why? Because the Reformation was a protest against Roman immorality, and because, with its principle of free inquiry, it was the first step towards the emancipation of the masses. The Jesuits prepared the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. Why? Because reformed France put orthodox France to shame, and from reform in the spiritual to reform in the temporal, there is only one step. Apart from orthodoxy, there is no morality, say the Jesuits; outside the communion of the Holy See, there is no government, no property. The Jesuits organized the persecution against the Jansenists and engineered the devastation of Port-Royal. Why? Because Port-Royal and the Jansenists had denounced the infamies of Jesuit morality; because, fervent Christians but pure in their morals, they dreamed of saving Christianity and the Church, and they had dared, relying on Saint Augustine, to utter the word reform. Saint-Cyran, Jansénins, Aroauld, Pascal, and their friends, accused of rigor, judged their adversary well: they were mistaken in imagining that, to purge the Church, it was necessary to begin by demolishing the company of Jesus. The Church is the new Babylon, of which the Jesuits are the praetorians.

Others had tried to justify the murder accomplished, in extreme cases, for the salvation of the country, the demand for liberty, the safeguard of honor, the repression of triumphant crime. If the fact remained equivocal, the excuse at least was honest. It was reserved for the Jesuits to organize the persecution, to sharpen the dagger, to mix the poison, to spread calumny against every species of human virtue. If liberty, if truth, if justice, they said, dared to aspire to existence apart from faith, well, perish liberty, truth and justice! Any virtue that does not pertain to the Church is abominable, and must be pursued with sword and fire. War on the independents, war on the philosophers, war to the death on the virtuous souls who do not live in the foil The regicides preached, encouraged by the Jesuits in the 16th century had no other sense.

It was the Jesuits who, in their establishments in Paraguay, where they commanded simultaneously as priests, as proprietors, as generals and as sultans, gave the first attempt at that theocratic, military and monastic communism towards which France has tended since the December 2, and where the sheltered multitude, men, women, children, is no longer in the hands of the masters but an instrument of lucre and voluptuousness. The missions of Paraguay are the crime of an atheistic priesthood, conspiring at once against liberty, against science, against right and against modesty. Today, having returned to France by permission of the Emperor and despite the law, the Jesuits are the secret directors of this counter-revolution whose thought is none other than that of Loyola: To stifle all free thought, all purely human virtue, and reorganize the exploitation of the working masses, for the greater glory of God and the enjoyment of his elect.

Footnote (D), page 58.

Egyptian Chronology. — According to the historian Manetho, of whom Eusebius and Syncellus have preserved some fragments, the first Egyptian dynasty was founded by Menes, 5.867 years BC (L’ Egypte, by Champollion-Figeac, in the collection of the Univers pittoresque.) From Menes to Alexander, 331 BC. BC, the number of dynasties is 31, that of kings 355, not including those of the 15th dynasty, which lasted 250 years. This whole story of Manetho was destroyed by the episcopal conspiracy, as contrary to the Bible. For a long time the Egyptian chronology was cited as an example of the vanity of peoples, inclined to forge fabulous annals. But since the discovery of Champollion, Manetho’s report has become more believable, and if the decipherers of hieroglyphics do not yet admit the date of 5,867 BC for Menes, at least we have already been able to ascertain , for one of his successors, that of 4,500, which takes us far beyond the biblical flood and creation itself.

Footnote (E), page 56.

Peddling. — The Presse of January 27, 1859 contains the following:

“— A curious trial has just been judged by the Criminal Court of Colmar. Jacques Bessner, resident at the civil hospice and mailroom worker or postman, gave Sieur Corneille, shoemaker, a brochure entitled Doctrine de l’Écriture-Sainte sur le culte de Marie, and directed mainly against the dogma of the Immaculate Conception .

“The prosecution charged Jacques Bessner with having committed an offense against the law that prohibits the distribution and peddling of writings not bearing the official stamp. This is the first time that the application of the law on peddling has been called for in this case.

“The defender, M. Yves, sought to establish that article 6 of the law of July 18, 1849 only affects those who make a profession of peddling and selling books, that it subjects only those to a prior authorization, but that it is not applicable to those who, like Bessner, only take a book from their library to lend it to a neighbor or a friend; that to confuse someone who only lends his book, of which he is the owner, with those who carry on the business of peddling or selling books, would be the overthrow of sound notions of law.

“The court condemned Jacques Bessner to 50 francs fine and costs.”

Here, then, by virtue of an arbitrary interpretation of an arbitrary law, is the French magistracy at the service of the Inquisition against the despisers of the Immaculate Conception? This is what is called today, in France, protecting morality. And everything goes at the same pace: Justice, under the empire of Napoleon III, is on the platform; the magistrates are the torturers.

Footnote (F), page 57.

England and Ireland. — It should not be imagined, after to the facts reported in the text, that England takes the education of the Irish seriously to heart. Oh, no! Its philanthropy does not go that far. What it does with it is for no other purpose than to ruin Catholicism, and thereby hasten the destruction of a nationality the does not want to surrender. To decatholicization the English add a means no less efficacious, and which shows the value they place, in petto, on their converts: this means is eviction. Here is what the Nord of May 2, 1860, reports on this subject. To denounce English hypocrisy, Catholic corruption and imperial tyranny is always to serve the same cause and to deserve well from the Revolution.

“The Process server… is the constable who will bring notices of eviction to the leaseholders (tenant farmers), and his job is not a sinecure, the habit of a certain number of landlords being to send such notices regularly to their tenants, reserving the right not to follow up, and only to keep them perpetually at their mercy. — As for the driver, as his name indicates, it is up to him to enforce the sentences of extermination (expulsion) and to chase from their cabins and their lands (drive, push, chase) the tenants the landlord wants to get rid of.

“Most of the time, these agents are not enough to accomplish their task; — for it is not only a question of throwing the furniture of the poor cabin into the road, nor of taking the sick woman who is trembling with fever in her blankets and laying her on the back of the neighboring ditch; for that, two men are enough; — but there are houses to demolish, there is above all an exasperated population to intimidate and contain.

“The constables will therefore be summoned to lend a hand to the drivers and, if necessary, the militia itself will take up arms at the requisition of the sheriff. The iron bars and the levers to demolish the residences of the tenants, the bayonets to impose on a multitude in despair, it is in the middle of this apparatus that the sentences of extermination are often carried out, and one understands that popular indignation has blackened the ignominious and too deserved name of crowbar-brigade (lever militia) all these agents of a brutal authority. 269,253 houses or huts destroyed, such are, according to official documents and for the ten years between 1841 and 1851, the records of service of an army that—God be praised!—has no equal in the world. More than 50,000 families were evicted in 1849 alone.

“These 12,000 wreckers are spread all over Ireland. Any landlord magistrate can, in the sessions of the grand jury, obtain from the government one or more garrisons, according to the number of barracks at his disposal, which he proportions less to the extent of his lands than to the rigor with which he uses the right of eviction. It is thus that quite recently the Protestant bishop of Tuam, Lord Plunket, finding the four barracks of constables that he had already established in the middle of his estates insufficient, asked for and obtained a fifth. If all the landlords of Ireland restricted, there would soon be a need for the government to increase the cadre of the crowbar-brigade.

Excerpt from the session of the House of Commons of March 19 , 1860. — Mr. Maguire calls upon the First Secretary of Ireland (Mr. Cardwell) and asks him if it is true that a detachment of the 15th Hussars has been sent to Castlebar, County Mayo, to contribute in the eviction of more than sixty families of tenants representing two hundred and fifty souls, from the estates of Lord Plunket, Bishop of Tuam, at Partry, in that county. Does the Irish Secretary know that these evictions were brought about by the refusal of the exclusively Catholic tenants to send their children to the schools established by Lord Plunket in a anti-Catholic spirit?

“Mr. Cardwell. — Troops have indeed been sent to Castlebar. This measure had been made necessary by the state of effervescence in this part of Ireland.”

Footnote (G), page 57.

Compulsory education. — Last year, 1859, an attempt was made in Belgium, by the young liberal party, to establish compulsory education in all the communes, following the example of what has been practiced since the origin of Protestantism in one part of Germany. This attempt failed and, in our view, it was inevitable that it would fail. Not, certainly, because the proposal was in itself bad and inopportune: it is always good and opportune to instruct the people; but it is because the partisans of the proposal, in order to make it acceptable, had thought it necessary to remove from it the socialist character, which is precisely its value. In politics, any proposal for reform is necessarily linked to a system of ideas that must first be recognized, in that the legislator, to whom the proposal is submitted, who also follows his system, judges whether it suits him to reject it or to grant it. Now, it was not difficult to understand that since the origin of Protestantism, of which the partisans of compulsory education invoked the example, the circumstances were no longer the same; that if the Reformed of the sixteenth century imposed instruction on the people, it was with a view to reform and to prevent any relapse into Catholicism; but that today, after the explosion of 1848, the question of compulsory education is indissolubly linked, no longer to religion, which has become free and consequently a secondary thing, but to the question of the right to work, that is to say to a whole economic revolution, and that to claim to separate them one from the other is at the same time to lack logic, to misunderstand its era, and, for some, to deny their flag. The conclusion was forced: since everyone, Catholics, old liberals, young liberals, speaks out against socialism, it is best to move on to the agenda.

Our goal, in writing this note, was not to censure the young Belgian liberal party, but to show, with regard to education, that everything is linked in society as in nature, and that the mixture of systems, Eclecticism, or as we say doctrinarism, has no more chance of succeeding in politics than in physiology. In this, the young Belgian liberal party, which one could call the anti-doctrinaire party, agrees with us. How then did it not see that its proposal for compulsory education, in the circumstances in which he produced it, with the exclusion of socialist and republican ideas, was reduced to an eclecticism? To propose to conservative Belgium, in the present state of things, to make education compulsory, was to propose the transfusion of the blood of a bull into a man’s body.

Note (H), page 68.

Ecclesiastical abuses. — The Church, as we have said elsewhere, delights in cracking down, in killing when necessary: her genius is to martyrize. This comes to it from two causes: first, from her dogma, which condemns nature and leads to affliction; taken from the fact that she believes only in her own martyrs, and that she does not accept that philosophers, heretics, should suffer death rather than renounce their opinions. You cry, Galileo; therefore it is not true that the earth turns: this is the great argument of the Christian controversialists. Whoever does not accept their reasons is declared by them to be in bad faith, and therefore worthy of punishment. The Spanish Inquisition is too well known. But the inquisition is not only Spanish, it is even more Roman, it is of the very essence of Catholicism. The inquisition was not received in France; but the Gallican Church carried out the crusade against the Albigensians, she carried out the dragonnades, two acts of the fiercest inquisition. Those who doubt how much the Church, in matters of belief, likes to resort to force, can read the last writing of Michelet, Louis XIV, and the Histoire de Port-Royal, by Sainte-Beuve. They will see there that the French clergy was complicit in the violence and spoliation committed against the Protestants after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. Bossuet, Fenelon—these two names dispense with the need of citing others—approved. The disciples of the tender Vincent de Paul lent their ministry. The Jansenists themselves, taking advantage of an hour’s respite, joined forces with the Jesuits: the great Arnauld wrote from the depths of his exile to support the policy of Louis XIV, to excuse and justify his harshness. The Church pronounced; the truth was established: the Huguenots had nothing to complain of except their obstinacy. Also by what right, twenty-five years later, Did the Jansenists come to complain about the devastation of their convent and the exhumation of their saints? The Archbishop of Noailles only applied to them the measures taken against the Protestants, and gentle Fenelon, who had felt no thrill at the dragonnades, happily applauded the destruction of the Jansenists. He too had had to suffer for his dear Madame Guyon and her absurd quietism: but, once condemned by the Pope, he had submitted, he had hated his error, and it was with perfect certainty of conscience that he supported the measures of rigor against the Jansenists and the Protestants. Why don’t they open their eyes to the light! To believe, in fact, for the Christian, is not only to renounce his reason, it is to renounce charity towards whoever does not believe or believes otherwise. Now, if we reflect that all these believers take communion, eat Christ, God made man, at the same time that they exterminate themselves, are we not justified in saying that Christianity is a variety of cannibalism?

Note (I), page 68.

Devotion and crime. — In the last volume he has just published, Louis XIV et la Révocation de l’édit de Nantes, M. Michelet has perfectly grasped this character of Christian devotion. After having shown, in quietism, molinosism, illuminism, the alliance of the highest piety with the excess of lust, he shows, with regard to the famous Madame de Brinvilliers, that illuminism was still going beyond, and did not recoil before assassination and parricide. Madame de Brinvilliers was devout, arch-devout; her principal accomplice and seducer, the Chevalier de Sainte-Croix, was devout: both steeped in mysticism, assiduous readers of the Imitation, of the books of Desmarets, Bona, Malaval, Molinos. Penautier, a friend of Sainte-Croix and of Madame de Brinvilliers, whom no one wanted to find guilty, was also devout. We have the confession of Madame de Brinvilliers, written by herself before her arrest, during his retirement in a convent in Liège. “She puts there in succession,” says Michelet, “on the same line, appalling crimes and puerilities, and also impossible things.” She burned down a house. She poisoned her father and her brothers. She was raped at age five by her brother (who was seven). Plus, such petty little girl sins. All this jumbled together. She especially notes and accentuates more strongly what is against canon law and the commandments of the Church. In a word, the refinement of devotion has deprived her of the feeling of proportion between the peccadilloes of her youth and the crimes of her mature age. With all her poisonings and adulteries, she retains a certain ingenuity as a person who lacks the discernment of good and evil. One could say of her, figuratively,

Inguinis et capitis quæ sint discrimina nescit.

The role of Tartuffe was conceived by Molière in this spirit: Michelet shows it very well. The jargon of this wretch is entirely composed of expressions borrowed from the Jesuit writers, the quietists, from that whole impure school towards which Fenelon inclined, when he was so roughly shaken by Bossuet. Tartufe has been a misunderstood masterpiece in France for 150 years. On the strength of the subtitle (Tartuffe or the Impostor), we have made him a crook who feigns a piety he does not have, while he is positively devout, like Brinvilliers, Sainte-Croix, Penautier, Marie Alacoque, Madame Guyon, Molinos, etc.: which makes the character much more dramatic and the calamity denounced by the great actor much more frightening.

Note (J), page 95.

Souls and bodies. — Alongside this passage from Homer, making the reality of the human being consist in the body, we can quote a no less forceful saying from Virgil. In the sixth book of the Aeneid, Aeneas meets in the underworld the shadow of his former pilot Palinure, who says to him:

Nunc me fluctus habet versantque in litiore venti;

now i am at the mercy of the waves, and the winds toss me against the shore.

Note that it is no longer the poet who speaks here, as in the Iliad; it is the soul itself. A Christian poet would only have failed to make this soul say: My body is at the mercy of the waves. With the pagan it is quite another thing: the soul is only the shadow of the body, an idea, a nothingness. It says, speaking in the name of the body, and as its representative in the realm of death: i am at the mercy of the waves. The famous passage from Job, c. XIX, 25-27, which we report below (note N), must be understood according to these data. The same sense of realism inspired this verse:

Better a lout standing than an emperor buried.

Note (K), page 96.

Superstition. — The etymology, or rather the interpretation that we give of this word appears bold to some people. The Latin word superstitio, we are told, unquestionably formed of super-esse or super-stare, corresponded, for meaning, to the Greek δεισιδαιμονία, fear of spirits, and Cicero explains it by timor inanis deorum, chimerical fear of the gods (De Nat. Deor. I, 42). Servius, commenting on verse 815 of the 12th book of the Aeneid, explains it in the same way: Superstitio est superstantium, id est coelestium rerum, inanis et superfluus timor, excessive and chimerical fear of superior things, that is to say, heavenly.

I admit that these explanations, especially when brought together with the phrase of Tacitus quoted further down in the text, seem to me rather to confirm the interpretation given on page 96 than to contradict it. What are these superior, or rather super-existent things, that are the object of the fear of the superstitious? It is not the sun, nor the moon, nor the stars, nor the lightning, nor the clouds, objects of the primitive cult: there is nothing chimerical about these things, and one could fear them without being precisely affected by superstition. But the spirits, the souls of the dead, what remains after the dissolution of the corpse, this is what people have always been afraid of, and which has sometimes made the philosophers turn pale.

Others bring the word superstitio from the Greek [ ], the same as superstare, to stand on, to protect, which would relate to the belief in talismans, which protect those who wear them. There are two criticisms to make of this interpretation of a Latin word whose meaning is well known: the first is that it comes from the Greek, the second is that, by the admission of all the commentators, it carries an idea of terror, such as that caused on the souls of mortals by the appearance of spirits. No man can see me, said God to Moses, and live.

Note (L), page 100.

Death and Immortality (Opinions of the Ancients on). — It is certain that the idea of immortality, following the belief in a future life, goes back earlier than Christianity: it is only necessary to prove it by the word αθάνατος, immortal, an epithet given to the gods, which dates to the origin of religion itself. The fear of spirits, δεισιδαιμονία, superstitio, is hardly less ancient. What we wanted to say, by relating to Christianity the belief in immortality or survival, is that it is from the Christian revolution, from the times which preceded and determined it, and from those which followed it, that the immortality of the soul has taken so great a place in life, either as a motive of virtue or as a means of consolation and encouragement.

Plato makes Socrates say, in the Phaedo: “Be aware that I hope to meet soon with just men, without however being able to affirm it entirely. But as for finding good masters with the gods, that is what I affirm… as far as one can affirm things of this nature.” (We see that Plato is in doubt: he would like to believe, but something is missing.) — “That is why I don’t grieve at dying as one ordinarily grieves; but I have good hope that there will be a destiny for men after their death, and that it will be better for the good than for the wicked, as the ancient traditions promise.” — And further on: “It is a very old opinion that souls, on leaving the world, go to hell; and from there they return to this world, thus returning from death to life.”

Now, if Socrates appeals to ancient traditions, it just proves that in his time people hardly believed in them, and that metempsychosis was an opinion of pure curiosity.

Cicero is no bolder than Plato. To support the opinion of the immortality of souls, he says (Tuscul., t. 1, ch. 12): “I have strong authorities to present to you. First of all, I will cite all of antiquity. The more closely it touched the origin of things and the first productions of the gods, the more the truth was perhaps known to it. Now, the general belief of the ancients was that death did not extinguish all feeling and that man, on leaving this life, was not annihilated: Unum illud erat insitum priscis illis… esse in morte sensum, neque ercessu Vitæ sic deleri hominem ut funditüs interiret.”

Yes, one could have replied to Cicero, superstition is old: it is due to the distinction in the human being of two kinds of phenomena, intellectual and moral phenomena, and bodily or physiological phenomena. But it has decreased a great deal; and this is due to the growth of the human mind and the development of morality. Now, if you are not careful, you will become superstitious again, with a superstition worse than that of your fathers; and this return has its cause in the state of society, presently in full decadence. Everything is therefore explained, and you have no beginning of probability for your immortality. As for the idea that the ancients, being closer to the origin of things, possessed more insight, it is an illusion of your optics, similar to that which would make you believe that the first humans were more innocent, because their newer conscience would have received fewer bad examples.

Cicero, moreover, a little earlier, ch. 11, after reporting the different opinions of philosophers on the soul, adds: Harumssentiarum quæ vera sit, Deus aliquid viderit; quæ verisimillima magna questio est; The gods alone know exactly what it is; we cannot even, in such a matter, decide what is probable. Whereupon Mr. Victor Leclerc makes this remark. “There is, in fact, only divine revelation that can instruct us fully and infallibly on a matter so obscure in itself.” All in good time. On this M. Leclerc cites the decisions of the councils. Which amounts to saying, as we say ourselves, that Christianity is the true founder and popularizer of the belief in the immortality of the soul.

Virgil, who can be considered as a sort of precursor, is more positive; his teaching is formal, and has something threatening about it: Discite justitiam, moniti, and non lemnere divos.

But Virgil is only a poet: the philosophers are reserved: we have seen this though the examples of Cato, Thrasea and Tacitus. Seneca nowhere affirms the immortality of the soul. He says of death (Epist. CIV): Maximum malum judicabis mortem? Cum in illa nihil sit mali, nisi, quod ante ipsam est, timeri. Would you regard death as evil? But the only evil that you can reproach it for, which does not belong to it, since it precedes it, is that you are afraid of it.

Obviously Christianity was needed to attest to the immortality of the soul, to make it an article of common faith, a hope for the good and a terror for the wicked.

Note (M), page 105.

The Gladiators. — It is certain that the bravery of the Roman soldier under the emperors was not of the same species as that of the soldier of the republic. The spirit was no longer the same: although, in an action, the soldier of the praetorium did perhaps as good a service as that of Scipio, it is easy to see that the heroism of the former was not more than swagger in the latter. What makes the hero is the moral feeling: love of country and freedom, devotion to the republic and its institutions. Nothing similar existed with the praetorian, who made up for it with self-love, the lure of booty, the hope of gratifications, contempt for other peoples, above all by the little regard he had for a life limited to material enjoyments. In all these respects, the type of Roman soldier under the Empire is the gladiator.

The gladiator in his arena was as much and braver than the praetorian on the battlefield. Where did this bravery come from? From vanity, developed in the fencing halls, exalted by the applause of the circus; from esprit de corps, barracks or school rivalries, training skilfully practiced on degraded beings for months, even years; more than anything, from the insignificance of a life whose brutality and debauchery had soon given the last word. (See the Gladiateur de Ravenne, a dramatic study translated from the German, inserted in the Revue germanique of January and February 1858.) Many of these gladiators were freed: they did not leave their profession for that.

A similar revolution took place under the First Empire in the French army. All historians have noted the profound difference between the soldiers of the republic and those of the empire; civic virtue on the one hand, military pride on the other. Since then, the spirit of the French soldier has improved a little; we saw it in 1830 and in 1848. With an emperor who has nothing at all in him of a warrior, one can hope that in the presence of the indignant nation the French soldier would regain his patriotism.

Note (N), page 127.

Euthanasia, or the good death. — M. Renan, in his Préface de la traduction de Job, confirms all that we are saying here of the feelings of the ancients on death.

“Until about the time of Job (700 BC), the Semitic mind had held itself to a theory of human destiny of prodigious simplicity. The man, after his death, descended to the Scheol, an underground sojourn that it is often difficult to discern from the tomb, and where the dead preserved a vague existence analogous to that of the manes of Greek and Latin antiquity, and especially to that of the shadows of the Odyssey. The dogma of the immortality of the soul, which would have offered an immediate and easy solution to the perplexities of which we speak, does not appear for a moment, at least in the philosophical and moral sense that we give to it; the resurrection of bodies is glimpsed only in the most indecisive way. Death did not awaken any sad idea, when the man was going to rejoin his fathers and when he left many children behind him. In this respect, no difference existed between the Hebrews and the other peoples of high antiquity… But all ideas were disturbed, when catastrophes like that of Job were told under the tent hitherto pure of such scandals. All the old philosophy of the fathers was in disarray; the wise men of Theman, whose first principle was that man receives here his reward or his punishment, would find themselves backward minds; in the presence of such misfortunes, they only knew how to cry on the ground in silence, for seven days and seven nights.”

Thus the same causes that, at the beginning of our era, demoralized men, made death unbearable and circulated everywhere the hope of a reparative survival, these causes, we say, began to stir, 700 years before J. -C., the society of the desert and were a prelude to the resurrectionist dogma, which was not to reach its full maturity and popularization until seven centuries later. “I know,” said Job in the exaltation of his pain, that he who must justify me is alive, and that he will finally appear on earth. When this skin will be shredded, reduced to the state of a skeleton, I will see God. I will see him for myself; my eyes will contemplate him, not those of another: my loins are consumed with waiting within me.” Job flatters himself that he will be rehabilitated after his death by God himself, rendering his judgment in the presence of the corpse of the just calumniated. It is not a question here, as one believed, either of immortality or of resurrection; Job does not hope to come back to life. But he enjoys in advance the testimony of God, which he believes he already sees through his eyeballs without pupils. His words remind us of those of Homer, making being consist, not in the soul, but in the body; those of Virgil, causing the shade of Palinure to say: Nunc me fluctus habet. Such is the meaning of this passage which has so embarrassed commentators.

Mr. Renan concludes as we do:

“The (ultramundane) future of man has not become clearer, and perhaps it is good that an eternal veil covers truths that have their value only when they are the fruit of a pure heart. But a word, which neither Job nor his friends utter, has acquired a meaning and a sublime value: Duty (why not say Justice?), with its incalculable philosophical consequences, by imposing itself on all, resolves all doubts, reconciles all oppositions and serves as a basis for rebuilding what reason destroys or allows to crumble. Thanks to this revelation without ambiguity or obscurity, we affirm that the one who will have chosen the good will have been the true sage. This one will be immortal; for his works will live in the definitive triumph of Justice, the summary of the divine work which is accomplished by humanity. Humanity does the divine as the spider spins its web; the march of the world is enveloped in darkness, but it goes towards God. While the wicked, foolish or frivolous man will die entirely, in the sense that he will leave nothing in the general result of the work of his species, the man devoted to good and beautiful things will participate in the immortality of what he has loved. Who lives today as much as the obscure Galileo who, eighteen hundred years ago, threw into the world the sword that divides us and the word that unites us? Only the works of the man of genius and of the good man escape universal decay…” (Job, by E. Renan, 1860).

Note (O), page 132.

Death and Funerals. — On this point, as on many others, the Revolution pursues its established path, and reveals its progress by numerous symptoms. In Paris and throughout France, many people die without the assistance of the Church; a smaller number are buried unaccompanied by the clergy. One is a free thinker in the country of Voltaire; but one does not always have the courage of one’s free thought. The freedom of association enjoyed in Belgium has made it possible to go one step further.

There are two societies in Brussels for the elimination of the religious service at burials: the Société d’afranchissement, founded on August 21, 1854, and the Société des Solidaires, which appears to have broken off from the preceding one, and only goes back to the month of December 1858. — The first “aims to free man from prejudices, especially with regard to the manner in which burials have been carried out up to the present day.” — “The associates,” adds article I of the statutes, “recognize that they do not need the intervention of the clergy at the moment of dying.” The second has as its object civil burial, mutual assistance and propaganda. To be admitted into the Société d’affranchissement, one must be at least 15 years old; in the society of the Solidaires, 21. In both associations, all the members are required to attend funerals, on pain of a fine of 25 and 50 centimes, the proceeds of which are used in good works.

According to the documents that have been furnished to us, the Société d’affranchissement has received, since its establishment, more than 600 members, nearly half of whom are scattered in America, England, France and other countries. Recruitment is mainly from the working class. The Solidaires are 60 in number. Among the people buried by the care of the two societies we distinguish: Arnauld Bataille, editor of the newspaper Le Prolétaire; J.-B. Langlois, Flemish writer; J. de Potter, former member of the provisional government of Belgium; Madame Amable Lemaitre, wife of a French refugee.

Isn’t this how Christianity began? People from all countries and all languages, mostly working people, among them a few scholars and a few bourgeois. The idea runs around the world: it is still only a germ, but everything is there. The Social Revolution, begun a long time ago in ideas, begins in practice with burials: burial outside the Church is the symbol of social resurrection.

NEWS OF THE REVOLUTION.

OF THE CAUSES OF HISTORY AND OF THE MUTUAL EDUCATION OF PEOPLES.

I. — The simplest glance cast over human societies is sufficient to reveal in these moving masses a relationship, not only of superior to inferior, of sovereign to subject, but also of teacher to disciple.

The State, first of all, the State that commands, fights, directs, represses, punishes, is also a teaching body. The state, with its legislative, judicial, executive powers, with its magistracy, is the type of the _University_, flanked by its faculties and schools.

Below the state we find the corporations. The priest, the noble, the bourgeois, as well as the statesman and the magistrate, fulfill equally, each on their own, vis-à-vis the layman, the peasant and the worker, the role of instructors. Such is the primitive, grandiose plan of education in humanity: where we establish rare and miserable schools, humble teachers badly paid, social spontaneity has given the _caste_., The caste! We only knew it through its insolence and prevarications. But we would do ourselves a wrong if we refused to recognize in the chief of the clan, in the lord surrounded by his servants and his pages, in the patrician followed by his clientele, in the bourgeois, honored with the mastery, leading his companions and apprentices, as in the priest, apostle, doctor and catechist, a man of teaching. Nature itself seems to have presided over this organization: education is the attribute par excellence of paternity. The word disciple is synonymous with son. My son, says Wisdom, listen to your father’s lesson; Fili mi, audi discipli patris tui. From this point of view, one can say that half of society is occupied in instructing the other.

From people to people, the same relationship is no less perceptible.

As far back as historical memories go, conquering nations and conquered nations appear. Now, among all the calamities that conquest drags in its wake, one cannot deny it this singular trait, that it is at the same time a propaganda. Asia gives birth to its religions; at the same time the great monarchies are founded, that is to say that immense conquests swallow up immense pedagogies. The Egyptians, Indians, Assyrians, Persians, were all apostles of religions; at a time nearer to us, Mahomet continues this Asiatic tradition. Vanquisher of the Persians, Alexander becomes initiator in his turn. The Jews preserved in their theology the traces of this double initiation of the Persians and the Greeks, and transmitted it to the Christians. Conquering Rome enacts universal law: My law, says Christ, is a law of love; My kingdom is not of this world. But when the empire of the Caesars has succumbed, we see the chiefs of Barbary, as they embrace Christianity, become conquerors and converts. France, finally, publishes its Declaration of Rights, and immediately becomes conqueror: it would have conquered the world, if by its fantasy of a renewed empire of the Caesars it had not been unfaithful to its principle, if moreover the Revolution and the conquest were not mutually exclusive.

History, says Lessing, is the education of Humanity. Let us add that this education is a mutual teaching, given, received, until now, with great blows of spears and swords. All peoples, after having played the role of disciples, aspire to that of masters. Dogmas, laws, languages, philosophy, politics, and politics above all, pass and pass again, always fighting; they cluster, merge, incorporate, then dismember, make revolutions, fight furious battles and, through these bloody kisses, communicate their prejudices, their superstitions, their idols, their virtues and their vices, tyranny and liberty.

Mais d’où les peuples tirent-ils la matière de leurs leçons? Les idées mènent l’humanité : nous avons eu déjà plus d’une occasion dans ces études d’en faire la remarque; les principes sont les fils dont est tissée l’histoire. Sans idées, sans principes, l’État vacille comme un homme ivre, et la société s’affaisse rapidement. Qui donne les idées et les principes? Comment surgissent-ils dans la spontanéité des nations? Chaque race produit-elle ses idées propres, comme la terre produit sa végétation, comme la plante pousse ses fleurs et ses graines ?

This question raises another: How, from people to people, do ideas become accepted? What ensures the success of this teaching? Which almost amounts to saying: What is the influence of a people on another people and on the general civilization? And what, in certain cases, destroys the initiative, the preponderance of this rather than that?

To this double question, here is our answer:

II. — Ideas, expression of general facts, product of time, result of situations, have no country; they are universal, impersonal, given in the development of all peoples, whose whole merit is limited to the priority of need, which stimulates intelligence. They form the common treasure of the human race; their ownership cannot be claimed by anyone: this is why they impose themselves on everyone, by will and by force, and why they are likely to spread, even by way of arms; it is thus, finally, that they assure the superiority of those who represent them, and that they give their sanction to victory.

Such is not, however, it must be confessed, the opinion that still in our day governs peoples, governments and even philosophers. These ideas, which serve as motive and regulator of history, are almost regarded as particular creations of races, effects of temperament and climate; consequently, the facts and gestures of history are explained by a primordial nature, by innate inclinations, by an indescribable genius prior to all reflection, a genius that constitutes the law proper to each nation, but would prove absolutely nothing for the others. Hence, it is said, the fierce resistance, hence the conquests, then the revolutions, and all the scenography of history. Far from recognizing the immanence and universality of ideas, they go so far as to bring in the Divinity and its irreconcilable antagonist, the devil. Christians are convinced that the Jewish people were chosen by God to receive the deposit of moral and religious truths, while the idolatrous nations were given over to the suggestions of demons. Muslims say the same of Muhammad; the Chinese, of Buddha. Apart from religious opinions, those who have allowed themselves to reason about the movement of civilization have done little more than transport to the soil, to the climate, to the diet, in the most materialistic sense, the honor of the first revelations. There would thus be, according to these philosophers, aristocratic races and servile races; lands that spontaneously produce polytheism, like the earth produces mushrooms and mosses, others where monotheism grows and prospers; polygamous temperaments, and monogamous temperaments, The monarchy would be native to France, like the oak and the beech; federalism to Italy; all the ideas that animate nations, finally, would have their first cause in the blood, elaborated, like globules, by the combined influences of air, water, light, food, etc. So that the movements of history would be determined a priori by the physiological constitution of the races, and lastly by the influences of the earth, in which one could say that they have their reservoir, with cholera, yellow fever, typhus and all kinds of miasmas.

Some authors imagine that they have laid the foundations of the philosophy of history, when they have repeated, after a thousand others, that the races of the south, for example, are distinguished by the mobility of the imagination, those of the north by the firmness of judgement; that the Frenchman is vain, inconstant, dissipative, unconcerned with liberty, while the Englishman stands out for the opposite qualities, pride, tenacity, economy, respect for right. With these fanciful portraits, it would be almost possible to trace the horoscope of the nations, as they pretend to explain their history; we have seen those physiognomists who, pushing the paradox to the limit, pronounced, with comic gravity, judgments of damnation and apotheosis. The Decembrist party, from the Mémoires de Ste-Hélène, swore the downfall of the Babylone britannique; others, in retaliation, declare the French people the enemy of the human race. It is thus that pedantic impertinence, added to popular superstition, maintains between nations those homicidal contempts, those insulting prejudices and those furious hatreds that so marvelously serve political intriguers and usurpers.

Of course, we would not want to deny that history is affected by the temperament of its actors, and that we only find in the physiognomy of the masses, and consequently in their evolutions, something that is so easy to note on the faces of the individuals. The soul of a people is given, first, in its physical qualities, then in its language, in the spontaneity of its beliefs and the intimacy of its institutions. All this can, up to a point, account for the facts of local life; but, when it is a question of history, all that is nothing compared to ideas, which take on a character more and more freed from all personality, and whose impulse even sometimes seems all the more irresistible as their appearance seems more unexpected and their source more foreign.

Let us therefore repeat once again, in connection with the mutual education of nations, what we said when speaking of the reason of state (4th Study, note (A), page 158):

Nature has poduced man and the earth, the first with his faculties, the second with its kingdoms; both united by the solidarity of their abilities and their lives.

But man alone, by the movement of his mind, makes his education, and the moments of this education compose his history. Simple and bare history, at the beginning, like the life of the patriarch, but a history that becomes more complicated as the ideas appear and tend to be realized. Here nature no longer figures except as an auxiliary; it furnishes the materials and the instruments, and falls to the second rank: the initiative is left to the mind.

It follows from this that ideas, wherever they arise, are basically identical, universal, impersonal; they are not generations, but apperceptions, abstractions; they are not linked to race, they are not a product of the climate, a secretion of the blood. They are formulas of relations that, depending only on the laws of reason and the necessity of things, are the same in all men. Thus the ideas of God, of religion, of soul, of sovereignty, of property, of government, of country, of priesthood, of nobility, of mastery, etc., are present at all latitudes; being pronounced in speech, they can indeed take on a local color: this is not what constitutes their essence and their value. They are indigenous to the whole globe: that is why they direct the world, which recognizes them as its own, and why they engender events. Among these ideas, there is one that serves as a regulator for others and that takes precedence over everything: it is Justice. Well, Justice is what is most essential to humanity, and therefore least personal to races and individuals. The respect of the nations has related it to God; no one has ever dared to say: It is mine, and I claim its inheritance. Justice is the supreme motor of civilization: its consummation would be the consummation of history.

We understand, from this, how peoples can be educators of each other and how they carry one another along the great road of civilization. It is because Justice, the institutions it engenders and the ideas that recall it are common to all; from the universality and impersonality of these ideas arise the tacit obligations that bind people together, and whose code forms what we call the Right of Nations.

The nations, by virtue of the Justice that is immanent to them all, owe each other respect, example, advice, service and justice; as they are all independent and sovereign, they form, for their disputes, a jury, in which each figures both as a juror and as a litigant. Here, in a few words, is the whole substance of the right of nations: Take away from ideas their impersonal character, there is nothing left. If ideas were no more than a particular suggestion, a physiological effect, a manifestation of local nature, no dowry, no duty could arise from them. They would remain incommunicable; each people would separately follow its nature, like the lion, the eagle and the crocodile. Populations would flee from each other, exterminate each other; the war would not be followed by any compromise, by any truce; an irreconcilable antagonism would long since have made the human race disappear.

Instead of this, we see that the nations agree, even seek one another, with all the power of their universal ideas; they do not reject each other until they meet on their individual sides. What irritates them against each other is not discipline, it is not war; the idea, when it is right, has always caused victory to be forgiven; it is the claim to autocracy, it is insolence, exploitation, arbitrariness.

Let us therefore conclude that the physical and mental dispositions of the races have little to do with history. Nations are at the service of ideas; they are not mistresses, owners, still less producers. They are valid through ideas and only through ideas: it could even be that some nation that, in history, has played the greatest role, owed it precisely to its less marked personality, to its ease in capturing ideas and implementing them. The interests come then to modify, in the application, the data of the idea; as to temperament and character, their action is the weakest of all. In a word, there are no initiating races in the strict sense of the word; no privileged races or accursed races, no sovereign nations or subject nations. There are only instruments, more or less docile, more or less devoted, according to their interests and circumstances, to Progress; more or less explicit organs of what some call Providence, others Destiny, and which for us is the idea, and above the idea, Right.

A few historical recollections, in support of these considerations, will be all the better received by our readers as they help to understand the present time.

III. — For nearly 2,000 years, the country that today forms France has lived ideas that the backlash of revolutions from outside caused its inhabitants to develop, and which one would believe were imported from abroad, so much does the series of events here produces illusion. Almost nothing is known of Gaul before the arrival of Caesar. At the time of the Roman invasion, the country was divided into a multitude of small states, corresponding to as many distinct nationalities, which are still easy to recognize today. Gaul in this resembled Germania: it was a confederation. The federative idea was common to both countries, born of the juxtaposition at the same time as the solidarity of the territories. More advanced, however, than Germania, Gaul then presented, in each of its small states, this division by classes that we find, at certain times, among all peoples: nobility, bourgeoisie, multitude, plus a clergy, the Druids, just as, much later, the Germans had, without them needing to ask their neighbors the Gauls for the seed. The generation of ideas is spontaneous; they grow everywhere the same, yellow, blue or red, according to the terrain, basically equivalent and identical; foreign influence appears there, like rain or drought, only to hasten or retard the germination.

The distinction of classes given, their antagonism follows: in this respect again, there is no distinction to be made between peoples. In the time of Caesar, Gaul had, in terms of internal divisions, nothing to envy even Rome. This was precisely what determined the conquest. In Rome the patriciate was on its decline; the plebs, or as we said a hundred years ago, the third estate had become preponderant, Caesar was its leader. The conquest of Gaul, facilitated by the alliance of the native bourgeoisie with the Roman general, decided, in both countries, the triumph of plebeian power. In all this, I do not see, on any side, the slightest vestige of invention. Rome triumphed because she carried, in the folds of her toga, the revolutionary idea, which was, in varying degrees of development, that of all peoples. Leaving aside the particular motives, which were certainly not one of complete disinterestedness on the part of the bourgeois of Gaul, this revolution was inevitable. If it had not begun with Italy, it would have begun with Gaul: in this case, the world would have received the law, not from the Romans, but from the Gallic peoples.

One consequence of this revolution was to introduce political unity into Gaul: in this, too, Rome only responded to the thought of all peoples. Unity was required first of all by the solidarity of plebeian interests, which had to defend themselves everywhere against the offensive return of the nobles. This principle will never leave Gaul: for a moment eclipsed by feudalism, it will return, but without the aid of foreigners, by the sole fact of the alliance of the communes with royalty; it will be carried to its maximum power by the definitive triumph of the third estate.

Thus, in the presence of the Roman, universal, legal, imperial, plebeian idea, Gaul abdicated its federalism, got rid of its old cult, renounced its national institutions, substituted or mixed Latin with its language. Such is, in history, the interplay of ideas; such is above all the skepticism of interests. Politically, it is true, Gaul no longer belongs to itself, but it does not remain without compensation. By becoming a Roman province, it becomes one of the centers of the empire; from Diocletian, the empire of the West is really the empire of Gaul.

After the Latin influence, which released in it the bourgeois and unitary principle, Gaul underwent the Christian influence, which tore it definitively from polytheism, both Roman and indigenous. It is not to my readers that I need to say that Gaul received Christianity, not so much as a revelation coming from the East, as because she found it at the bottom of her own aspirations. Constantine was a deist, before rallying to the Gospel; everything in Greece, Italy, and Gaul that had any intellectual value, any energy of conscience, thought the same. Gaul did not accept the Christian dogma in its rigor; faithful to its spirit of moderation, it took a middle position between Saint Augustine and Pelagius, in which it can be said that it was followed by all of Christendom. Calvinism, which later pushed the principle of predestination and grace to the extreme, ended in a contradiction: not only did it fail to realize its dogma in practice, it drew from it something completely unforeseen, the principle of popular sovereignty. The Gallic spirit was more logical: the same good sense that in the fifth century made it reject Augustinian rigorism, made it reject Calvinism in the sixteenth century, Jansenism in the seventeenth century. The Papacy has followed the same wanderings: basically, whatever it may say, it is semi-Pelagian. If later France, through the revolution, was democratized, it was not by a deduction from Christian dogma, but by the progress of philosophical reason that is the very negation of Christianity.

Thus, even in the order of faith, Gaul, barely baptized, becomes herself a missionary; she observes in everything that temperament that one is sure to encounter where the middle class has prevailed over the nobility and dominates the masses. Christian Gaul rejected, ex æquo, both the ultra-democratic consequences that some drew from the words of Christ and the theocratic pretensions of the ultramontanes. The Albigenses were treated in France as the Donatists had been in Africa by Constantine, and it was Saint Louis who declared the power of kings independent of that of Popes. Allow whoever wishes to accuse here the forced inconsistency of the human mind in insoluble questions: I defy anyone to find there either vanity of race, or inconstancy of temperament, or parochialism. It is always, following the same ideas, the same interests, the same difficulties of application, which bring back the same phenomena.

Based on what we have just said, we can account for the influences and reactions of history.

Gaul undergoes the Roman revolution of the plebs, because it finds the principle of it in its own bosom. — It loses at the same time its nationality, because the Roman movement, which was that of Humanity itself, made, for a time, any nationality, even that of Rome, impossible.

Gaul underwent the reformation of the Gospel, because it found in itself the principle and the need for it: it proved it by its mitigated interpretation of the dogma.

Gaul, which has become France, submits to the feudal system, because the givens are within it, and circumstances make it a law. — But immediately, when royalty and the bourgeoisie unite, France attacks feudalism and restores its political unity, which has become necessary again as in the time of Caesar.

At the end of the 18th century, France, which since the Roman conquest had played an ever-increasing, often even preponderant role, suddenly seized the initiative: was it by chance that the idea that directed it belonged to it? Not at all: for more than three centuries the French Revolution had been prepared by the ruin of feudalism, by the Renaissance, by the Reformation, by the revolutions of England and the Low Countries; by the incessant work of philosophy, literature, science, and finally by the blossoming of economic ideas. The idea of 89 is universal, impersonal: that’s why it invaded Europe. If the explosion had not taken place in France, in 89, it would have taken place fifty years later, in Germany; had it not been for Germany, it would have found its ancient home in Italy, its man in Garibaldi.

Thus ideas march, thus peoples discipline each other, monitors of universal reason and executors of its decrees. Suppose that in the place of this universal reason, an arbitrary, autocratic, insolent influence arrogates the direction of things: as protests break out everywhere, populations are quivering in agitation, states take up arms, and civilization falls back into the doldrums, until the pestiferous influence is eradicated. In the principles of history, which are those of the Right of Nations, the idea will have for sanction, if need be, conquest: arbitrariness brings back coalitions and dismemberments. When Rome had exhausted her mandate, the Barbarians invaded her from all sides; the subjugated populations regained their independence, and it was done with the Roman name. A similar example was given, at the beginning of this century, by the ephemeral power of Napoleon I; and if the despotism of her his aspired to spread, France, instead of giving the lesson to other peoples, would end by receiving it again.

IV. — The France of 1789 was for fifteen years the principal organ of the movement. Its wars were propaganda wars; its ideas, much more than the courage of its soldiers, made it successful. The peoples welcomed the revolution; the kings themselves had ended by placing themselves under its protection and asking its advice. In defending the Revolution, France was the monitor of progress. With the empire, the situation was changed; instead of the idea, there was a man. Immediately everything became hostile again: after having trampled on the nations for a long time, Imperial France was twice invaded and, as the only punishment, for all guarantee of peace towards the united Europe, invited to re-establish representative government in France, the principal work of the Revolution. In 1814 and 1815, the allies, who could not only have taken back from France all of its conquests, but  dismember it themselves, were content to do for it what Julius Caesar and his legions did, from 58 to 48 BC, for the Gallic bourgeoisie, what William of Orange did in 1688 for England. The coalition, in acting thus, obeyed a principle, the principle of European balance. So, whatever the Bonapartist literature may have said, France in 1814 thanked the allies. They believed then, and France believed itself cured, recovered from the seductions of false glory, reconciled with the idea. Disappointment! Ten years of despotism had made France personal, insensitive to liberty, disdainful of right. During the thirty-six years that it enjoyed representative government, it only knew how to recriminate against invasion, accuse treaties, threaten the foreigner. December 2 came to give rise to this detestable selfishness: today it is no longer the ideas of 89 that govern France: avarice, national vanity, the thirst for conquest and military fantasy have taken hold and hold the Sabbath there. So, as in 1813, Europe again became hostile to it; the people withdraw from our influence; Italy itself, our freedwoman of yesterday, is wary; it would depend only on Austria that it separate itself completely from us from now on. France, always dreaded, because its army is the most formidable machine of destruction that exists, France no longer holds the head of the movement. The idea of 89, universal, impersonal, formed from all the liberal traditions spread throughout the world, a summary of the philosophy of nations, the idea of 89 continues its course apart from the French influence; it has nothing so much to fear today as this influence. While the peoples were all, one after the other, in the whirlwind of new principles, France, which no longer understands itself, is following a policy of panic. No more clarity in spirit, no more consistency in intentions; contradiction at every step, resulting in impotence.

What a singular teacher of nations was the France of 1852! What ideas it had! What a morality its morality was! What examples its examples! What initiative its initiative!

What we have been talking about in France since December 2 is, first of all, revenge to be taken for all our defeats: revenge for Aboukir and Trafalgar, revenge for Moscow, revenge for Leipzig, revenge for Waterloo. Revenge! And why do it? Under what principle? In the name of what idea? In what does general civilization find itself interested, and does the progress of peoples depend on it?

Then we claim for France its natural borders: we ask to remake the political map of Europe. M. Jourdan, the acolyte, the thurifer of Father Enfantin, demands it; M. About affirms it: men with ideas, what do you say? When Dumouriez conquered Belgium, Pichegra Holland, Bonaparte Italy, and the Directory pronounced the incorporation of these provinces into the territory of the Republic, that at least had its justification. We knew what the oath of the Jeu de Paume, the storming of the Bastille, the night of August 4, even January 21, and the abolition of worship meant. But the events of December 2, but the kidnapping of the National Assembly, but the looting of the Bank, but the massacre in the streets of Paris, but the perjury: what does all this mean? And what a lesson for Europe!

I would like to know what Napoleon III went to Baden to propose to the sovereigns of Germany assembled to receive him. The slander claimed that the sole purpose of this visit was to reassure the discontented interests by a peaceful demonstration and to facilitate a stock market coup for the benefit of the camarila. The Bourse, in fact, went up, on the day of the interview, by 50 centimes; the next two days it fell back to 45. But let’s not be slanderous.

Was it a new idea, useful to the happiness of humanity, that the Emperor of the French went to impart to the crowned guests of Baden? — But Napoleon III, like Napoleon I, everyone knows, is ideophobic.

Is it a project of perpetual peace, a new Holy Alliance, that he brought to them? — But for nothing in the world would he disarm. Conscription is still 100,000 men; the size of the conscripts has even been reduced by one or two centimeters; they announce, from the hand of the Emperor, a history of Caesar and a book on artillery.

Is it his mediation that he offers to Germany, like his uncle in the past, no longer just to divide up the secularized communities, but in order to constitute German unity, following the example of French unity? — But Napoleon III would see a case for war in this unity.

Is it a cordial entente that he seeks in order to organize Italian unity in common? — But he does not want Italian unity any more than Germanic unity.

Is it the reconstitution of the Ottoman Empire that preoccupies him? — But he is seeking the Russian alliance.

At the time of his accession to the empire, Napoleon III declared, by way of thanks to the French people, that, by the sole fact that he was restored to the throne of his uncle, the treaties of 1815 were torn up, and that, in this repeal, the country found a first satisfaction, and the pledge of its future preponderance. Would the abrogation of treaties also, by chance, be the pledge which the Emperor offers to the united sovereigns of his peaceful intentions? — Wonderful, sire; but, the torn treaties, what principle do you substitute for them? Your idea, your right, what is it? In 1854, you made war on Russia to maintain the balance of Europe, which did not mean anything other than the treaties of 1815. Is it only a revision of these treaties that you want? But that would be to confirm them, to reverse your judgment: do you have the courage to do it?

The day before Napoleon III left for the interview in Baden-Baden, a Te Deum was sung in Paris for the annexation of Nice and Savoy. The annexation of these two provinces to France was the price paid by Victor-Emmanuel for Lombardy and Tuscany. Here, then, are peoples a commodity that kings and emperors traffic in, according to their particular ambition? How to accuse, after that, the division of 1815? How can one still reproach the Congress of Vienna for having distributed, corralled the nations like herds? Surely the Congress has done no worse than Napoleon III and Viotor-Emmanuel? Was it the free exchange of territories and populations that the Emperor of the French went to Baden to propose?

But, we are told, you do not take universal suffrage into account, by which the annexation was confirmed, legitimized, and sanctioned. We have nothing today without the consent of the nations themselves.

Universal suffrage! Here, then, is the idea that Napoleon III went to submit to the acceptance of the princes in Baden-Baden!

In 1848 universal suffrage passed, in fact, for a principle. It was seen as the realization of the sovereignty of the people, a progress on the electoral system of 1830. Put to the test, universal suffrage gave the saddest opinion of its political capacity. In France, it served, for the second time, to establish and consolidate despotism. It has been proven that the property-owning bourgeoisie of 1830 was much more liberal than universal suffrage, before and after the coup d’etat. In Savoy and Nice, the same suffrage, exercised under the supervision of the Franco-Piedmontese authorities, led the people to the abjuration of the fatherland, to the abdication of nationality, of sovereignty, of everything that constitutes the dignity of a race, the glory of man and citizen. Universal suffrage, under the conditions of December 2, is suicide. — Is this the benefit that Napoleon III dreams of making the peoples of Europe enjoy?

The masses, which made the empire, care little about these contradictions. The more waste there is, the more they find their emperor a clever man. After all, they thinks, Napoleon III came from my bosom: he is the man of the Revolution. Why then, if the Emperor is the man of the Revolution, does he not allow the Romans, as he allowed those of Tuscany, to appoint, by universal suffrage, the sovereign of their choice?

Garibaldi leaves for his Sicily expedition. M. de Cavour having delivered Nice, the native town of Garibaldi, to the Emperor, the Niçard hero, who does not wish to be a subject of the Empire, not even a member of the Legislative Body, has gone to seek another country. On the first day, the newspapers of the imperial government called him a buccaneer. But we realize that this produces a bad effect among the people, and on the third day we proclaim Garibaldi a great man. What, with regard to Garibaldi, is the true thought of His Imperial Majesty? As for this brave multitude, whose admiration determined the reversal of the press, we would like to know, in the case where Garibaldi, conqueror of the King of Naples, should come with his army to ask the Emperor of the French for his dear Nice, which M. de Cavour has unfortunately cut off from the Italian fatherland, how he would be received.

If Napoleon III was able, at the request of Victor-Emmaauel, to intervene against Austria, Garibaldi was also able, at the request of the Sicilians, to intervene against King Francis; and the English, summoned by Garibaldi and the Sicilians, can intervene in their turn, all the better because it is always for the same cause. Why then, in Paris, do they show themselves so touchy about this possible intervention of England, contrary even to the wishes of the Sicilians, in the event that they should choose for their king Victor-Emmanuel? — The unity of Italy, we are told, would harm French unity. — So much the worse for France. Why should Italy not have the right to constitute itself in the image of France? Isn’t it its protege, its daughter? Does the French people intend to be surrounded only by nations of the second order? That would betray bad intentions. — But the Treaty of Zurich!… — Ah! Then, you come back to the treaties; or to put it better, you affirm the treaties when it is you who make them, and as long as they are suitable; you tear them as soon as they bother you. Will you tell us, finally, how you intend to reconcile all these formulas: Intervention and non-intervention, unity and federation, violation of treaties and respect for treaties, imperial government and constitutional government, respect for nationalities and natural frontiers?

Oh! Let the enemies of the great nation hiss. We will cover our faces, but we will ask in our turn if there is more intelligence, more morality around France than in France itself; whether it would be prudent to trust Russia and Austria when they invoke treaties or engage in liberal demonstrations; if we can believe England when she speaks of the liberty of peoples; if universal suffrage, as stupid in Savoy and Nice, where it abjures the fatherland, as in Paris where it gives itself an autocrat, would be wiser in Belgium; if the Magyar nobles, who never ceased to count on Napoleon III, are as democratic as the ex-dictator Kossuth asserts; if this Italy itself, whose dazzling patriotism is today the only virtue which consoles Europe, is not already tormented on all sides by its age-old vices and its incurable machiavellianism?

We have said it: ideas alone make history, and through them people serve each other as teachers. But today there are no more ideas; contemporary history is nothing but a history of our intrigues and our corruptions. The Revolution is marching, yes, and Progress is being accomplished; but by force of circumstance and without anyone’s initiative. Il mondo va da se.

END OF THE FIFTH STUDY.

About Shawn P. Wilbur 2701 Articles
Independent scholar, translator and archivist.