Puslapio vaizdai
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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 ? -"Oh! Ah! cried I, like the sworn appraiser of the Hotel Bouillon at Paris,“ miracle one !"

“ • 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."

56. 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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comprehensibility of its dogma, and the severity of its morality, notwithstanding the objections of philosophers, and the scaffolds, the burning piles, the racks of persecution, notwithstanding the horrible repugnance of human nature, and every possible obstacle, spread in a moment from east to west. And the human race cried out, with a voice like an eagle-scream, “Miracle ! miracle!” For we are weak enough to believe, Master, — mankind and I, that God was at work, and seriously, too, in this matter. Never, no never, could Peter, Paul, and company have converted, otherwise, even one old woman. And they did convert the world! I can't endure myself for being subject to such a weakness; for it deprives me of the great honor of being counted amongst the philosophers, and stuffs me with Christian faith enough for two like me. To complete my misfortune, you have increased the evil instead of curing it. It 's too bad of you ; if you go on at this rate, you 'll give me faith enough for four. .... Yes, Master, to my sorrow I must say it, you are in a fair way of building up between philosophy and me a wall as high as the great wall of China.'' You wrong me, Doctor; I have told you, and tell you again, in the establishment of Christianity there is no more miracle than in the palm of my hand.' That's just what drives me to despair.'

Why, if there's no miracle, who can force you to believe?' You, Master.' *I?' 'Yes, you; you pretend to deny all miracles, and at the same time you multiply them beyond all bounds. Instead of clearing up, charitably, my little difficulty, you have made it a thousand times more inexplicable, and the faith of the universe a thousand times more miraculous.' • How so?'

••• You remember my adventure in Italy, my calash, horses, postilions, and the rest?' Certainly.' By denying miracles, don't

• you see what you are doing ?'An act perfectly philosophical.' Pardon me, not quite. Why not?' 'Will you allow me to tell you?' By all means, Doctor.' Well, then, it's painful for me to say so, but I must declare you are worse than Mrs. Jones, and all the old women of Christendom.' That 's strange enough.' 'Alas! but it is so; your act is superlatively Catholic." • You're an odd man, Doctor.' But you are more so, and cruel to boot. By denying miracles, you smash every wheel of the Christian chariot; yet it runs over the world, nobody knows the fact better than you, and runs with the rapidity of lightning. And I must cry out, even louder than in the plains of Lombardy and Parma, “Oh! ah! miracle! miracle !” And you, Master, are the very man who draws from me this anti-philosophic cry. It is you, who, by the creation of this unheard-of miracle, this chariot running without wheels, increase my admiration, and destroy in my heart the sprouting germ of dear infidelity, and make me a Christian strong as four put together. Is this what I am to expect from you, Master, - I who am so willing to become the candid and simple child of philosophy?'

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The illustrious lawyer opened his eyes, ears, and mouth full stretch, and looked for all the world like a rascally debtor who pretends not to understand a man who duns him in plain terms, and holds up his note of hand to his very nose.

I went on with my elegy: You have carried even further your perfidious stratagem. After the example of your predecessors, Celsus, Porphyry, Voltaire, Rousseau, and Volney, you have changed the Apostles into myths, allegories, imaginary beings, signs of the zodiac; or, at the most, they were, according to you, but beggars, barefooted vagrants, fanatics, and jugglers, detestable in the sight of Heaven, that curses imposture, and of earth, that holds it in abhorrence. What have you done? You have unhitched the horses, you have killed the postilions; you have created a wonder tall as the pyramids of Egypt, a chariot that runs not only without wheels, but without horse or postilion. I am forced to cry out, louder and louder, “Oh! ah! miracle ! miracle !” My astonishment swells more and more, and you give me Christian faith for ten. Thus, after having extended to my very lips the delicious cup of infidelity, suddenly you draw it back again, and leave me to suffer the torments of Tantalus.'

" At this stage of the exhibition, a feeling of surprise began to spread through the audience, and I heard a low whispering circulate amongst them. My illustrious patient enjoyed the privilege of the prisoner at the bar in a court of justice, - that of being the object of universal curiosity, and the centre of attraction for all eyes. “I went on in a plaintive tone: As if the sore blows

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have dealt already were not enough to crush within me the precious germ of impiety, you still pound at it with a fury that the Grand Inquisitor Torquemada might take for a model. In the dogma of Christianity I perceived only mysteries that humbled reason, and you have pointed out to me absurdities that annihilate it. Already I was at a loss to account, without some miracle, for the faith of the universe in mysteries so incomprehensible: how much more necessary will that miracle be to explain its faith in perfect absurdities! If a man of sense, to believe common mysteries, so as to let his throat be cut in their defence, must have, say, one hundred miracles of twenty carats each, we may calculate, that, to believe palpable absurdities, to have them stuck fast, nailed and clinched, in his head and heart, he must have at least one million of miracles thirty carats each; and I doubt whether that would be enough, if the man happens to be the whole human race. Now the dogma of Christiani. ty, you say, is a total absurdity, — absurdity first quality, fast colors, the tomahawk of genius, and extinguisher of the light of reason.' * I say so still,' muttered the lawyer. "'Pon honor, this is too bad; you 'll not stop as long as a single stone of my philosophical edifice is left standing. You have already broken the wheels of the chariot, VOL. II. NO. II.

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unhitched the horses, killed the postilions, and now you begin to dig trenches in the road, and yet on goes the chariot faster than ever. I must cry, I must shout, louder than in Italy, “Oh! Ah! miracle! miracle!” And it is you, Master, who fill my throat with this cry, the death-knell of my youthful incredulity; you who invent the incomparable miracle of a chariot that runs, that flies, without wheels, horses, or driver, over a road cut up by pits and ditches. In spite of myself, my faith grows to the strength of a giant, my admiration overflows, and you make me as Catholic as the Pope of Rome himself. Tu quoque, Brute! cried Cæsar, when he saw Brutus amongst his assassins. And you too, Master, you side with the apologists of Christianity ! fiercer than all the rest, you pierce to the heart your wretched disciple! Tu quoque, Brute!'

“These last words I pronounced with so much emotion, and in a manner so perfectly dramatic, that the Professor of Geometry of the Royal College was moved to tears.

“Seeing my patient more calm, I continued in the same sad and reproachful tone : Yes, Master, with a vigor of logic that would do honor to a better cause, you drive my poor philosophy to its last intrenchment; and I see clearly, you will grant neither truce nor quarter, until you exterminate it in my heart. The moral code of Christianity, to believe you, is tyranny, is an iron yoke, an impossibility, and its worship a bundle of superstitions. Nothing more was wanting to constitute the most astonishing of miracles. You have broken the wheels of the chariot, untackled the horses, killed the drivers, and cut up the roads; but this was not enough; you now pile up mountains of rock in the way, and heap on the vehicle enormous loads, - enough to make it eighteen hundred times heavier than the constitutional car of state. And in spite of all these obstacles, in spite of all these reasons for not going, the chariot goes still, and runs, and flies. And I am left to roar till I'm hoarse, ten thousand times louder than in Italy, “Oh! ah! miracle without measure ! miracle ! miracle without end! I no longer believe; I see.” And instead of making a philosopher of me, you make me a Christian ready to have my throat cut for it. Is it thus that you instruct youth? Is it thus that you repay my confidence, and clear up my little difficulty ? Sorrowful, disheartened, pushed back for ever from the smiling regions of blessed philosophy, what other honest way have I now left to explain the faith of the universe, which you have made a thousand times more inexplicable, and a thousand times more miraculous, than all Catholicity put together could have done? What means have I left but to say:

" It is prodigiously incredible; therefore either prodigiously diabolical or prodigiously divine ?"

*** Alas! vain hope! Were I to say, for the sake of dodging the obligation of becoming, body and soul, Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman, that the devil worked prodigiously to establish Christiani

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ty, men would laugh in my face. For none but a fool would cut a stick for his own back, or buy a halter to stretch his own neck. Now we must give the devil his due: he may have a cloven foot and horns like a he-goat; but he is no fool. Nolens, volens, I must conclude, the establishment of Christianity is a fact prodigiously incredible, prodigiously impossible. Hence it is clear as two and two make four, that God had prodigiously to do with it; therefore the faith of the universe is prodigiously divine. Incredibile, ergo divinum. Incredibilissimum, ergo divinissimum.

“Nor, unfortunately, is this all; you force me to drink the cup to the very dregs. For I am obliged, whether or no, under pain of a mortal sin, a sin of which Doctor Evariste will never be capable nor guilty, the sin of folly, bad logic, -I am obliged to swallow every drop, and to confess that the doctrines of Catholicity, in dogma, in morality, and in worship, are nothing but pure truth; that the whole concern done up in the envelope of this great miracle must pass through without further question, like a letter through the mail. God can never perform miracles to accredit error.

"Good heavens, what a blunder ! Instead of turning out philosopher like yourself, I am driven to be as Catholic as the Pope ! What a sad plight you've brought me to, Master! For you have yourself put into my mouth this terrible, this fatal Incredibilissimum, ergo divinissimum ; prodigiously incredible, therefore prodigiously divine. This is the last groan of my expiring infidelity; and, I must say it, you have drawn it forth from my despairing heart."

“Having pronounced these words, Gentlemen and Ladies, I sunk back in my chair. The laborious administration of my pill No. 5 was at an end. We were all watching the effect in silence. It was feared by some, hoped for by others, guessed at by all; and soon it began to be visible.

“ Powerfully worked upon by this mighty antidote, and exhausted by his efforts to expectorate the viperian phlegm, the patient sunk back in his chair, rolled his eyes three times, and began to doze, much like the readers of the young historian of the French Revolution, or the admirers of Lord Guizot.

This symptom, Gentlemen and Ladies, is very encouraging ; it announces the neutralization of the venom, and the commencement of the cure. To hasten this happy effect, — for, I repeat it, my precious salve claims the honor of healing instantaneously, radically, and without pain, all bites whatsoever of the black serpent,

-I profited by this lucky nap to apply simultaneously to the occiput and left temple of the illustrious patient my two remaining pills, Nos. 6 and 7. Immediately I drew them forth from this very identical box which you see. But how do you think I did it ? Lengthwise or broadwise ? Not at all. With a rough and ruthless hand, as the tax-gatherer snatches the last shilling from the purse of the

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