Puslapio vaizdai

where it has just found a place for hatching its brood in the Melodeon. But we proceed to let the learned and scientific Doctor describe, in his own inimitable manner, the effects of the bite of the black serpent, or rather, its diagnostics.



"The Creator, Gentlemen and Ladies, as it was learnedly observed four thousand years ago by Nangazaki, the great philosopher of Japan,-the Creator has placed in this world a wonderful variety of beasts. Amongst them all, if we except certain bipeds having neither tails nor feathers, according to the definition, so profoundly true, of the illustrious Diogenes, - there is not one so hideous, and at the same time so dangerous, not one that inspires the human heart with so much dread, repugnance, and horror, as those of the reptile kind. Now I assert, and with deep conviction, too, that the black serpent is of all reptiles the most dangerous, the most foul, the most repulsive. Does my amiable audience require proof of what I advance? Let them listen to what I have to say concerning the nature of its venom.

"You imagine, perhaps, Gentlemen and Ladies, that it infects the blood. Not at all; you're wrong. That it vitiates the animal spirits. Wrong again. It does worse; it does a thousand times worse; it infects the heart and vitiates the brain. It makes a man mad; and so mad that you may order forthwith a strait jacket; wicked, so wicked that he 's fit only for the halter. I can hardly describe its lamentable effects better than by laying before this honorable society an imperfect sketch of the sad spectacle which I myself witnessed a few months ago.

"In the course of my long peregrinations over the old and new continents, I chanced to arrive in a vast kingdom, situated about fifteen hundred leagues from the territory of the Iroquois. The black serpent is there in swarms, and I saw numberless poor wretches infected by its venom. The first that came under my observation had been bitten in the head. You have heard the false and discordant sounds which a violin gives when its cords are unstrung. All that is nothing compared to the extravagant ideas that issued from their diseased brains. They imagined that they had become- what do you think, Ladies and Gentlemen? - princes? O, no! Kings? Not that either. Emperors? You're out again. Trifles like these are the fancies of our common fools, such as one sees at Charenton, Bicêtre, and like places. But mine belonged to a higher class, and were not so easily satisfied. They believed themselves come, guess once more! Do you give it up? In their great modesty, they believed themselves to be - gods! nothing more nor less!!

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"There they were, rubbing their hands with delight, and shouting out, to the tune of the Carmagnole, 'Go ahead! go ahead! God is done for, Christianity is gone,-dead and buried. Bravo! now we'll put the world to rights!' Then, with a degree of grave solem. nity the most laughable that can be imagined, had not their madness concerned a matter so important, they set to work to prop up their infant godship, by endeavouring to prove that the God whom we adore had come to naught.

"One young man, of low stature, who possessed the singular advantage- although not singular in that country of having but one eye and that purblind, whose brow was furrowed with premature wrinkles, and whom, with a broad-skirted green coat, a hat somewhat à la militaire, and very large spectacles, I seem to see before me now, capered about, shouting incessantly, 'What a smash! I can count seventy-two solecisms in the moon. God was nothing but a booby, when he undertook to create the world. He's used up now; it's all over.'

66 'Another, a tall, spare man, with pallid countenance, and voice harsh and tremulous, not unlike the cry of a goat, an antediluvian pedagogue, the true Napoleon of all absurdities, repeated unceasingly, with the solemn monotony of a pendulum, 'Silence! silence, stupid human race! thou hast mistaken for God a man who knew not a word of rhetoric. I can prove to you, book in hand, that Jesus Christ never read two pages of my Treatise on the Art of Oratory, Amsterdam, princeps edition, 1838. Who'll answer that?' Another, dressed in a blue cloak, with a great number of ribbons and gewgaws paraded about his neck and breast, cried out, with a stentorian voice, To the vote, Gentlemen! to the vote! the Gospel is inadmissible, except with an amendment. To the vote! to the vote!' Immediately there was a shout from all sides, 'Adopted. God is completely upset! adopted, and we only are Gods! Adopted. Hats off, mortals, and down upon your knees!'

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"At these words, a cry of Order, order!' was heard from another group close by. In the centre appeared a middle-aged man, a head taller than the rest. His costume was Scottish, crossed all over with silvery-looking palms and forms of trans-rhenish syllogisms. He was praying devoutly, with his eyes fixed upon himself; the others were all agog, listening to him. I was exceedingly curious to find out his name, when some one whispered in my ear, 'That's the Grand Lama of the me and the not-me.' 'O God!' spoke out then the pontiff to himself, as it were, hear them not, for they are fools: thy being has naught that is exclusive; thou art not, as they, me and not-me: thou art the universal me: yea, thou art thyself, objecting thyself infinitely to thyself: and man and nature are thyself, objecting thee finitely to thyself: thou art we, and we are thou: eternity is thyself, time thyself, space thyself, number thyself, totality thyself: all is but thee for in thee all is me and naught not-me.'

"This devout and most lucid prayer drew down thunders of applause. For my own part, all that I could understand from it was, that I had met with a class of madmen who had less egotism than the preceding. They thought themselves gods, to be sure; but at least they were willing to share their godship with other beings." pp. 17-23.

The author then exposes, in his own peculiar manner, the system of Pantheism, which doles out the Divinity by the yard, as it were, assigning its due portion to every sort of being. The manner in which he describes the perfect anarchy of opinions brought about by atheistic philosophy is inimitable.

"A little farther on, I fell in with a large crowd, and, entering into the midst of them, said, in the politest tone possible, Gentlemen, may I be permitted to ask to what family you belong?' A dozen tongues broke loose at once: To the family of machines, booby, brothers to windmills, and cousins to patent turnspits.' 'That's not true,' said a dozen others; ' we belong to the branch of elastic and digesting tubes, open at both ends.' False, false!' cried out others; we are all of the finny tribe; fishes from father to son; carps arrived at the full development of perfectibility, consisting in the original plus the hair, minus the tail.'

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"All maintained their ambitious pretensions with great vehemence of speech and gesture. Such confusion, such noise and racket, was enough to set all the dogs in the country barking. From words they came to thumps, Insults from one side were answered by blows from the other; which amounts to what the great Aristotle calls the ultima ratio regum; an expression that may be translated, for your especial benefit, Ladies, the first principle of morality amongst wolves.

"Very soon the fight became general. The gods ran up, espousing some one side, some another. What a mournful scene did I behold! The wretched victims of the viperian poison, in paroxysms of rage, shouted, pounded, rolled their eyes in frenzy, ran their tongues out, argued by kicks and cuffs, howled, barked, caterwauled, bellowed, till at length they were covered with wounds, blood, and dirt, and the field became a second Waterloo. I was told that such scenes as I have just described occur frequently every week. You may call it, Ladies and Gentlemen, a drama, melodrama, tragedy, or comedy, as you please; but it is what I call a lesson of philosophy. Much affected by this sight, I left these, and moved on to the quarters of the modest. They are so called because they acknowledge that they are not quite gods. Here an old man, with powdered wig, broad ruffles on his bosom and wrists, and large shoe-buckles, accosted me. 'We're aware of it,' said he; the Supreme Being does exist; but he is a gentleman who sleeps all night, and dozes all day in an arm-chair. The act of

creation exhausted all his strength. He cast this world into the immensity of space, like a balloon in the air, or a ship without helmsman on the ocean.- There, go ahead, on your own hook, as well as you can,' said he; and, returning to his apartment, he gave the key a double turn, and locked the door." - pp. 25-28. In the following paragraph the good Doctor portrays with much wit and truth the moral corruption which is the necessary consequence of a belief in Deism, and the frivolity of those occupations and aims which are all that is left to man, when he has no God whom he is bound to serve, and no future destiny to strive for. He then passes to the second class of victims.

"The second category of patients that I found in the same kingdom, fifteen hundred leagues from the country of the Iroquois, comprises those who had been bitten in the region of the heart. But before I proceed, my love for suffering humanity will not allow me, Gentlemen and Ladies, to withhold from you one observation which is essential. I have verified it nine thousand eight hundred and fifty-nine times, in the course of my long medical career. Whereas the cobra-capelo aims at a man's nose, and the rattlesnake at his calf, if he has any, the black serpent attacks invariably and exclusively the head and the heart. Moreover, I have always found, of a hundred patients, that ninety-nine and a half were first wounded in the heart, and that, as a general rule, the brain suffers only from sympathy.

"This being premised, Gentlemen and Ladies, I proceed. By the bite of the black serpent, the heart is decomposed, and its very nature changed; all its movements are henceforth downwards, instead of upwards. What was before sweet as honey to the patient's palate is now bitter as wormwood; the food of common people is disgusting, and he flies from it with as much horror as a mad dog from a bucket of cold water. Only mention to him the name of sweetmeats, pastries, and all those nice tit-bits that make the mouth of any civilized man water, and you make him retch with nausea, - you are sure of giving him cramp in the stomach, or convulsions. Give him meats fit for kings or for the gods themselves, let them be served on a table covered with cloths white as the snow of Caucasus; he dives under the table, devours the most disgusting garbage, gnaws bones like a dog, and, instead of quaffing nectar from golden goblets, he prefers to lie down flat by the roadside, and guzzle muddy water from the gutter."-pp. 30-32.

These various speeches which the Doctor Evariste de Gypendole places in the mouths of his mad patients, and which fit there so well, our readers may suspect are in reality the substance of different systems of infidel philosophy which have all had their day, and many of which are still greatly in vogue.

Granting the suspicions of our readers to be well founded, we must say, the Doctor does them no injustice; and the arguments by which they would subvert Christian faith, the only sure basis of true philosophy, when stripped of the brilliancy and ornaments of style by which their authors have embellished them, when analyzed and reduced to a bare, simple proposition, after all, mean precisely what was uttered by the victims of the black serpent, and nothing more. Some of them, in fact, are taken almost textually from the writings of these authors.

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In the following chapter, the learned, scientific, and humane Doctor proceeds to narrate his labors and trials in pursuit of a remedy for the bite of the black serpent, and the rare providence by which he hit upon the principle which led to the discovery and composition of his incomparable salve. It is full of interest, wit, humor, and hits at all manner of quacks and quack nostrums, moral, philosophical, social, political; all of which our readers may well believe are home-thrusts somebody. They know already enough of our Doctor to believe that Doctor Evariste de Gypendole is, in very deed, as he says, no quack, although ignorant of none of the various species of quackery in vogue or out of vogue. The search was long and painful, and the laborious Doctor seems at times to have almost despaired of success; but at length, through the blessing of a good Providence, success crowned his labors, the incomparable salve was discovered, and the black serpent henceforth rendered harmless as a dove. We should be glad to follow the Doctor in this search, a more notable one than the search after the philosopher's stone, but we hasten to the composition of the salve itself.

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"You are convinced, I trust, Gentlemen and Ladies, that I have no inclination to gull the public or take advantage of its simplicity. You might as well make a French peer of the respectable dean of the Royal Academy of Medicine at Paris, as to confound my precious salve with a host of quack nostrums, of which the wonderful virtue is proclaimed to the world every day by a venal press, with great flourishes of drums and trumpets. An enlightened public knows how to discern, cuique suum. We know how to detect all these Parisian catch-pennies, patented as they may be. Virtus post nummos, as that experienced man, the great poet of Tibur, has sung; that is to say, Ladies,' Truth, virtue, and honor, after dollars and cents.' This is the motto adopted by the authors of such

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