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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.
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.
“ V. COMPOSITION OF THE Salve.
“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
fraudulent speculations. But, you know it well, Gentlemen and Ladies, such is not the motto of Doctor Evariste, No, no, he's a different man; and, as a proof of his disinterested honesty, hear my declaration. This salve, so wonderful in its effects, — this salve, of which the discovery has cost me fifty years of labor and journeying, I now deliver up gratuitously and without charge to the public. Judge for yourselves, before you use it; for, without any sort of mystery, I am going to make you acquainted with all the elements which compose it, and give you full directions for its use.
“ In the first place, A Jove principium, as Virgil says, - which may signify, Ladies, To cook a hare, first catch a hare, — 1 begin by hunting out, in the stagnant pools where they hatch, black serpents of all sizes, old and young and middle-aged, and even not yet hatched. When caught, I chop their heads off. That is to say, Gentlemen and Ladies, in Catholic Apostolic Roman language, I dig out infidelity wherever it has nested itself: I cut off its head, by taking its own objections against Christianity, of whatever kind they may be, past, present, future, old, new, flat, or horned, to the right or to the left, up or down: I gather them from the mouth of the beardless youth or the whiskered man, from the parlour and the workshop, from the head and tail of the philosophical army; objections in rhyme and prose, from every language and gibberish; objections from big books and little books, from huge folios covered with dust, and from perfumed pamphlets : I place them all in a mortar hermetically sealed, so that no part can evaporate, cessary precaution. The result produced by trituration is a greasy lump, which, being placed in the alembic, conveys into my receive er the quintessence of the whole, which I am going now to present you.
“In its dogma, Christianity is but a tissue of myths, of fables, of inconsistencies revolting to our reason. It-teaches that Jesus Christ is God: absurd! That he was born of a mother ever virgin : absurd ! That there is but one God, and in this one nature three distinct persons: absurd! That this God foresees all things, and whatever he foresees happens infallibly; and yet man is a free agent : absurd! That this God is all, and yet man is something: absurd! That for a sin of a single moment, this God, whom Christianity still calls good, punishes a frail creature with an eternity of torments : absurd! That all men are born with the guilt of a sin committed by their first parent : absurd! That the Son of God, coming into this world, was born in a stable; that he died upon a cross, between two thieves: absurd! That he and his Apostles performed miracles : absurd, too! since the laws of nature are immutable, and the Apostles were only stupid fools, the first Christians idiots who believed whatever they were told, without examining, without reasoning, - carried away by a fanatic love of glory and of novelty. In fine, Christianity, viewed in its dogma, whether by parts or in a lump, is nothing but a long string of absurdities.
“You perceive, Gentlemen and Ladies, that my chemical operation has been quite successful; the ingredients have lost nothing of their strength; and all these black serpents' heads, or, theologically, all the objections of infidelity against the Christian dogma, when cut off, hacked, triturated, and distilled, furnish us with the quintessence of all the sophisms written, said, sung, or howled, from Celsus down to Voltaire and his latest posterity, born or to be born. Having proceeded thus far, I inscribe: DOGMA OF CHRISTIANITY, Total ABSURDITY. And there 's one point settled.
“Now for its morality. I hope to satisfy this amiable audience that my chemical process is equally perfect in this respect. It furnishes us with an elixir of the following nature.
“By its very first commandment, the moral code of Christianity obliges me to believe all the absurdities comprised in its dogma: impossible! It obliges me to forgive my enemies, and love them as myself: impossible! It obliges me to sacrifice the dearest, the strongest inclinations of my nature: impossible! It obliges me to confess
my sins, however shameful, however secret, to a man like myself: impossible! It obliges me to practise virtues which degrade a man; humility, which makes him a poltroon ; detachment, which makes him a bad citizen; the flight of the world, which makes him a misanthrope ; the constant fear of hell, which makes him an idiot : impossible! To all this it adds a long list of practices, observances, privations, which bind a man hand and foot: impossible! In one word, the moral code of Christianity bears no proportion to human weakness; that it should have come from a God infinitely wise and good is impossible. It is therefore false and tyrannical,- absurd !
“What have you to say, Gentlemen Chemists of the Imperial and Royal Academies of Paris, London, Vienna, Petersburg, and Pekin? Can you hope to arrive at results more complete, when you try by analysis to discover the component elements of bodies ? You may hang yourself for spite, illustrious Orfila! never, even with Marsh's apparatus, will you be able to detect in a dead dog the arsenical parts half so completely as Doctor Evariste culls out, by his peculiar process, the last and most minute atom of the black serpent's venom. Deny it who can: I hold here in my receiver the whole essential acid of all the objections, past, present, or future, that can be made against the moral code of Christianity. I conclude, therefore: Morality of ChristiANITY, TOTAL IMPOSSIBILITY. And there's a second point settled.
“I terminate the whole process, Gentlemen and Ladies, by the objections against Catholic worship, and I obtain the salt which you are now going to see. The worship of Christianity is a heap of vain and ridiculous superstitions, fit only for old women and children at the most. Pour a few drops of water on the head of an infant, with certain words, and he is cleansed from sin, — made white as snow:
superstition ! Rub his forehead with oil, and he becomes strong enough to vanquish the most formidable enemies : superstition ! He takes a piece of bread over which the priest has pronounced a few words, and it is no longer bread, - it is God in person : superstition ! Is he sick ? Anoint the organs of his senses, and his sins are forgiven him: superstition! And, then, all these genuflexions, these ceremonies which have neither rhyme nor reason, a real puppetshow that sets a fool a staring, but excites pity in a sensible man, what is all this but superstition, eternal superstition ? And yet this is the whole form and substance of Catholic worship.
“I appeal to this honorable society, whether I have mitigated in any manner the venom of the black serpent, and whether, by my chemical operation, it has not even acquired a more intense degree of malignity. I say, therefore : WORSHIP OF CHRISTIANITY, TOTAL SUPERSTITION. And there's the third point settled.
“Gentlemen and Ladies, this is all; for Christianity is attackable only on these three points. Remember, now, what you have heard. All the objections which infidelity can possibly make, when ground up and distilled, give for result a composition fully expressed by these three terms, which have become technical: ABSURDITY, IMPOSSIBILITY, SUPERSTITION. Absurdity in the dogma; impossibility in the morality, superstition in the worship; here is the honorable label of Christianity.
“This is the compound of my admirable specific, which I divide into pills numbered 1, 2, 3, &c., as high as seven. The composition of this incomparable salve is therefore simple and easy, but at the same time in strict accordance with all chemical and pharmaceutic rules.
“ VI. APPLICATION OF THE Salve to ENCEPHALIC WOUNDS.
PREPARATIVE MEASURES. “Gentlemen and Ladies, the father of the medical art, the great Hippocrates, in his Aphorisms, recommends to all Doctors to approach their patients as a candidate for election does the voters of his district: with head uncovered, brow serene, sweet and caressing forms of speech, and a smile on the lips, if possible. I do my best to follow this fundamental precept of the art. Do I meet with a victim of the black serpent? I manifest the greatest interest in him, and give signs of deep sympathy. I am perfectly accommodating, and suffer him to spit out whatever he may have in his throat, or elsewhere.
“But I cannot better instruct you, Gentlemen and Ladies, in the true method of applying this precious salve, than by relating to you exactly my own treatment of an illustrious patient, whose case
is recent. For, as the Roman orator says, Fabricando fit faber ; or, as the Mantuan swan has sung, Ab uno disce omnes; which implies, Ladies, If you can work one slipper, you can work a thousand.
“ To proceed; on my return from my last voyage to Rio de la Plata, in South America, I landed at Bordeaux, on the Garonne ; travelling thence to Paris, I stopped at Tours, in Touraine. I put up at the house of a friend, who informed me, with great consternation, that the most celebrated lawyer of the place had been bitten in the head by the black serpent. He has since bitten several others,' said my friend ; and these, others still'; so that the viperian contagion is likely to spread far and wide; and unless you come to our aid, Doctor, we are lost.'
“ We are lost! What an impressive word, Gentlemen and Ladies, when spoken to the ear of a doctor! It was hardly uttered when I was up and doing. In twenty-two minutes and four seconds, I had visited the mayor at his office, and had announced in every part of the town, that a public meeting would be held that very evening, with permission of the constituted authorities, at which I would cure gratuitously, radically, instantaneously, and without pain, all encephalic wounds of the black serpent. The name of Doctor Evariste de Gypendole was soon in every
mouth. “When the assembly was convened, I drew near to my patient, who was seated in an arm-chair, taking care to follow exactly the rule of Hippocrates before quoted. At my approach, he manifested a slight convulsive motion, followed immediately by an inclination to expectorate. I encouraged him to it; and suddenly his lips flying open with the reverse of a steel-trap action, he fung this discharge full in my face: 'Yes, Sir, the dogma of Christianity is absurdity, three fourths at least !'
“ This eructation, near as I stood, did not, however, disturb me or make me shrink ; — I have undergone many of the kind. On the contrary, I stepped a little nearer, and, holding this small box under the patient's nose, I made him inhale the perfume of my pills, saying, at the same time, · Most excellent Sir, you are too moderate by far; say rather that the dogma of Christianity is a total absurdity, total as the eclipse of the moon on the 29th day of July, 1830. I grant you all.'. T'hereupon I felt his pulse, with a smile.
“ An inclination to expectorate was again manifested, and he threw at my feet a new discharge : 'Yes, Sir, the morality of Christianity is an impossibility, a system of tyranny in most points.'
“ I presented again my fragrant box to the olfactory nerves of the patient, accompanying the application with these words, in a caressing tone : ‘Speak out freely; say it is such in every point; granted, granted.' 'I felt his pulse again; it was more regular; the muscles of his face relaxed, and he half opened his eyes to look VOL. II. NO. II.