Puslapio vaizdai

of Berard; no more virtue in its morality than pure copper in the coin of Monaco. Total absurdity, this is your last conclusion; you give over Christianity, bound hand and foot, to the power of Philosophy. Your generosity is unequalled; decidedly, I must inscribe you at once.'

"You are kind enough, then, Master, to give me the credit of having raised the objections against Christianity to their highest power?' 'I tell you again, it is impossible to do better.' 'I must confess, however,' said I, 'it would be an usurpation on my part to claim for myself the honor of the invention. You know that these objections, with all their strength, were raised against Christianity from the first day of her birth.' I am aware of it: whoever has read the works of our first ancestors must know, that in the fourth century whatever could be said had been said already. Since then, we have only warmed things over again. But the merit which I admire in you is, that you have reduced our whole doctrine to its most simple expression, and extracted its very quintessence. Come, come, Doctor, enough of your modesty; your names and titles, if you please.' And he drew his pencil to enlist me.

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"Seeing my illustrious patient so well prepared, I took delicately my pill No. 2, between my thumb and forefinger, with a tone of timidity and humble respect, Master,' said I, 'before I am invested with this immortal honor, I have one little difficulty to be removed, one small, trifling, little difficulty. I shall presume to ask you for the solution. Here it is: How Do YOU EXPLAIN THE FAITH OF THE UNIVERSE?'

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"Hoc opus, hic labor, this was the asses' bridge, as Scarron translates. I don't understand you exactly,' was his answer. 'I will repeat, then. Eighteen hundred years ago, the world was pagan; to-day, it is Christian. How do you explain the faith of the universe?' 'Express your thoughts more clearly. Most willingly,' I replied, and, taking my pill No. 3, I made him swallow in this


"We agree that Christianity is a mountain of absurdities, of impossibilities, and of superstitions. Yet it has been received and believed by the universe.

"It has been believed on the word of twelve fishermen, without science, without money, without influence.

"It has been believed in the age of Augustus, which was undeniably and eminently the age of philosophy and of light.

"It has been believed in spite of the hundred warning voices of our ancestors, who cried out incessantly, as we do now, that it was absurdity all over.

"It has been believed in spite of the mockery of comedians, who brought its mysteries upon the stage, and held them up to universal derision.

"It has been believed, which is still more astonishing, in spite of Nero, Domitian, Diocletian, and their fellows; and the manner in which they treated refractories, as you are aware, was by no means a joke.

"It has been believed in spite of all the light of reason and all the repugnance of nature.

"And all this, Master, is but a trifle yet. There is something still more inexplicable; something that surpasses all the feats that I have ever witnessed at Nicolet's or Franconi's, Carter's or Van Amburg's. For the sake of believing an absurdity big as a mountain, for the sake of practising a morality which is impossible, for the sake of professing a worship which is ridiculous, the universe without flinching gave up its fortune to confiscation, abandoned with joy its head to the fangs of lions and the claws of bears, its body to the chains of torturers, or to the fires that gleamed around the stake.

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And, moreover (I beseech you, Master, help me out of this dif ficulty, or I shall lose my footing), and, moreover, Christianity has effected this at every point of the globe; at Jerusalem, at Athens, at Rome, as often as you could wish. It was not the common people alone; it was consuls, and senators, and philosophers; it was generals, and colonels, and veteran soldiers; it was noble dames, and rich gentlemen; it was men of all ages and all classes, from the highest to the lowest. I must confess, Master, I have never been able to explain to my perfect satisfaction so strange a delirium. Can you do it for me?'

"The silence with which he honored my discourse, the slight carmine tinge which began to light up his cheek, gave me the assurance that my pill was operating powerfully. The respectable audience meanwhile fulfilled to the letter the beautiful verse of Virgil,

'Conticuere omnes intentique ora tenebant';

that is to say, Ladies, there was no coughing, spitting, blowing of noses, chatting, or whispering; you might have heard a pin drop. I took advantage of this profound silence to continue the administration of my remedy.

"Whilst you are thinking over the difficulty, Master, allow me to suggest a solution which has struck me as not void of probability. I am inclined to believe that the Apostles were British smugglers, who contrived to set the whole world a chewing opium for three hundred and fifteen years. Stupefied by this practice, the poor fools must have said, done, and endured whatever was required of them. The solution appears probable to me for several reasons: 1. The Apostles were Jews by origin. 2. The Jews have always shown a natural inclination for commercial pursuits. 3. The emperors of those days held the Apostles in pretty much the same light the present emperor of China does the English; they called

them, not unfrequently, poisoners and corrupters. This, Master, is the trifling difficulty that annoys me somewhat, and the explanation which I have hit upon with the little philosophical light I possess.'

My illustrious patient turned his head aside, presenting to me in full profile his nose and jaw-bone; then, raising his hand, began to scratch gently behind his right ear; a very simple movement, Gentlemen and Ladies, but picturesque, and strongly symptomatic. His answer was given with a serious catonicoplatonic air. I perceive that there is a little difficulty here; as for the solution you give, it's new. What a pity that I have not at my disposal the telescope of our venerable Dupuis, with which he was enabled to discover Jesus Christ and the twelve Apostles in the signs of the zodiac. Like as not, we should spy out in the moon the vast plains whence those smugglers of Galilee got the opium with which they bedevilled the human race for so many years. My particular friend, Herschell the younger, can no doubt furnish me with the means of verifying this solution; till then, we must needs hunt up another.'

"Master, if it be not too much presumption, allow me to submit another to your judgment. Right or wrong, I must be a philosopher. A philosopher! What a 'noble title! And to you, most excellent Sir, will belong the honor of having added the last gem to the crown of Doctor Evariste. I have, then, another solution to offer. I do it with great diffidence; for, between you and me, I first heard it from an old woman. However, a fool may sometimes give good advice.'


Having thus excited a wholesome appetite in my patient, I extracted slyly from my box pill No. 4, and, rubbing him with it adroitly on the prominence of the os frontis, I went on :

"Here is what I once heard from an old Catholic woman of the old Catholic stamp; I shall translate for you, as well as I am able, her patois of Provence. "The mysteries of Christianity are impenetrable to human reason: true. If you try to measure their depth, your head will soon whirl: true. The morality of the Christian religion is above the strength of human nature true. Its worship, made up of forms, rites, ceremonies, is nothing but a muss : true, very true; I see all that. We old women can understand that two and two make four, and that Christianity at the beginning must have caused a great hue and cry; that it must have passed amongst men for a folly, a scandal, an absurdity as total as the eclipse of last year. But, as I was saying the other day to my neighbour, Mrs. Jones, mankind, that is to say, fine ladies and gentlemen, learned and ignorant, old and young, rich and poor, have believed and do believe Christianity to be true as the Gospel. They saw in it nothing but a muss, a hodge-podge, sure enough. But, marry, the miracles of our Lord Jesus Christ and his Apostles

forced them to believe in it. And, as our parish priest was saying the other day, it is not easy to hold out against a discourse that begins and ends with a miracle. Men saw miracles, therefore, and thousands of them. And that is the reason why they have believed and still do believe."

"After this speech the old woman dropped a courtesy, and was off. ' 'Good riddance to her,' said the lawyer, impatiently. 'What nonsense! Could n't the old fool see that there were no more miracles in favor of Christianity than in favor of any thing else? Are not the laws of nature immutable?'

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"With an agreeable smile and honeyed lips, I replied: 'Be calm, Master, be calm; I proposed the explanation with much diffidence, and only to satisfy you.' Then, taking hold of his hand, feeling his pulse: So, no miracles; you stick there, do you?' 'Are you a fool, Doctor?' said he, angrily; if you admit miracles in the establishment of Christianity, you must bid good bye to philosophy, and turn old woman or Roman Catholic outright.'

Gentlemen and Ladies,' said I, in a loud voice, to the assembly, 'the question is settled. Mankind, upon the word of twelve idiots, and without miracle, received and believed firmly a religion which is equally absurd, impossible, and ridiculous.'

"Well, that's a good one,' cried out a young proletary at the extremity of the hall; and I defy the most capacious known throat in the world, to wit, Mr. Frederic Budget's, to swallow it. But the Doctor has left out the best of it. Mankind, to accommodate this mountain of absurdities in its head, has consented to be whipped, racked, drawn and quartered, strangled, roasted, and ground into minced meat. That is a good one!'


The impertinent young man then burst into a fit of laughter which threatened to become contagious. I restored order and silence by informing the audience that the express object of my journey to Paris was to ask of the Royal Academy of Medicine an explanation of the phenomenon. At the same time, I asked their permission to relate a marvellous instance of my last journey in Italy.


"As the skilful dentist amuses his patient with a story, and in the midst suddenly jerks out the decayed tooth; so did I proceed with mine. Edging up my seat close to his arm-chair, and applying one half of pill No. 5 to the vertex, just at the root of the forelock, I began :

"Returning from Alexandria, I was travelling by Milan, Bologna, and Modena. My route lay through the rich fields of Lombardy and Parma, famous for the victories of the great Napo

leon. My vehicle was a calash, English built, new, brilliant, and light as a feather. Four large Andalusian horses, swift as deer, strong as lions, were at the pole; I had two Norman postilions, hair-brained fellows as ever I saw, but real Phaëtons. The weather was beautiful, the road smooth as a billiard-table or a polished Venetian mirror. I had neither trunk nor baggage of any kind ; my own individuality was the whole load. You may imagine, I did n't run, I flew along the road. Natural enough, was it not, Master? Surely no equipage could be in better trim for rapid travelling.

"But, alas! as the poet sings, Sunt bona mixta malis; every rose has its thorns. Just as I was passing the edge of a wood, eighteen robbers sprung out upon us and began by breaking all the wheels of my carriage. Can you believe the fact, when I tell you, upon the faith of Doctor Evariste de Gypendole, - I have seen it, yes,

seen with my own eyes, my carriage ran as fast as ever?"Ŏh ! Ah!" cried I, like the sworn appraiser of the Hotel Bouillon at Paris, "miracle one!

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"They unhitched my horses and killed my postilions. The speed of my carriage was not diminished. "Oh! Ah! miracle two!"

"The rascals had dug deep trenches across the road. No matter, on went the carriage, as fast as ever. "Oh! Ah! miracle three !"

"They had blocked up the road with immense fragments of rock. On went the carriage, as fast as ever. "Oh! Ah! 't is like the circus feats, from wonderful to more wonderful. Miracle

four ! "

"They piled over me enormous bales, and my carriage, light as a tilbury before, was heavy as a Neapolitan wagon for fifteen horses. Still on it goes as fast as ever. "Incredible! impossible! " said I. "God or the devil must be at work here! There's nothing but miracles, that 's certain."

"What do you think, Master? did I reason correctly?' 'Very correctly, Doctor. The facts once established, I should say with you, God or the devil must have had a hand in it.' He accompanied this answer with a patronizing smile, such as the ministerial bureaucrats sometimes deign to bestow on the old nobility.

"I seized this happy moment to anoint his right temple with the remaining half of the emollient pill No. 5.

"Excellent Sir,' said I, in imitation of the Eastern sages, 'I have spoken in parables. In vulgar language, my superb carriage, new, light, and in perfect order, is Christianity itself, formed by the hand of God; my fiery steeds are its miracles; my postilions, its Apostles; my fine road is the happy disposition of hearts and minds humble and docile to the voice of God. The carriage advancing with such rapidity is Christianity, which, notwithstanding the in

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