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fice of dogs : the Christians at York, on St. Luke's day, had a ceremony of whipping dogs, ascribed to a dog having once eaten: a holy wafer, which fell from a priest in the ninster wbile dealing out the sacrament. Virgins in Rome used to sacrifice a cock to Minerva : Christians, in the north of England, used to whip a cock to death on St. Peter's day, in pious vengeance of the second, unlucky crowing which bore testimony to the cowardly hypocrisy of St. Peter, as recorded in the Gospel. The execrable practice of cock-throwing, on the holy Tuesday, when Christians are said to be “ shriven of sins," had a similar religious origin. The Spanish bull-fighting and bull-baiting originated in a Pagan reli, gious rite, celebrating the victory of the Sun over the sign Taurus, at one time the sign of the vernal equinox, though afterwards supplanted by Aries, in the course of equinoctial precession. Sacrifice, which is another word for cruelty, is the basis of all religious rites; and to demonstrate our obstinacy in so sacrificing, we are, if necessary, to sacrifice ourselves as martyrs. It is the same all over India; and sacrifices to the Juggernaut, to the funereal pile of the husband, to Vishnu, 'to Brahma, to Chiven, and to various'idols und wooden Gods, both in India and Africa, are institutions coeval with any traceable vestiges of religion, and their bustory and origin lie buried in the night of past time.
The most silly of all the recorded sacrifices is the attempted immolation of Isaac by his daddy, Abraham ; and a very military Continental painter, in one of the churches, has done supreme justice to the paltry story, by depicting the decrepid patriarch as firing a blunderbuss at his son tied to a halberd-while the angel form of a winged virgin, sent expressly by Jehovah, is making water into the touch-hole-a worthy mode of excusing a worthy servant of the Most High from a worthy action !
It is a curious fact in the natural history of man, that with reli, gion and its bloody rites some of the most noble institutious of humanity are and always have been connected, as the orders of charity in the Romish church, and all the hospitals and alms': houses, all of Catholic origin, in this country. An explanation of this has been attempted on the ground, that man being, as he really is, born in virtue, the child of innocence, he, out of the goodness of his own nature, does charity in despite of the bad religion, whose trammels he is obliged to act under... But I have a better explanation for it than this. While the priests were extorting Peter-pence, remission-of-sin money, and other donations from the deluded people, they, at length, by habitually lying, got to believe their own lies, and extending their avarice beyond the grave, bargained for the promised 7 per cent. interest, and acting on the selfish maxim of Christian charity, that he who gives to the poor, lends to the Lord, they did the best for themselves in the celestial funds, or perhaps expiated some deadly crimes by bribing the Almighty with a loan.
I do not mean these observations as jocular, or as ribaldry. I appeal solemnly to the better feelings of mankind, whether such histories must not inevitably harden the hearts of youth, and unfit men for the exercise of reason, and the impulses of humanity. Turn to any of our religious pictures and legendary emblems, and the same cruelty is always found depicted. St. George stabbing the Cockatrice; St. Michael impaling the Devil; St. Margaret trampling the Dragon : the Holy Virgin standing on the head of the expiring Serpent; St. Catherine kicking out the bowels of the Emperor Maxentius, or leaning on her Executive Wheel; and all the whole of the martyrological pictures which disgrace our cathedral windows-are they not all disgusting mementos of some innate propensity to cruelty in the human mind, which the base and hypocritical have always found the easiest vent for in the ostentatious and insane institutions of cruel, superstitious reli
When I think that there was a time when my own then young mind was allowed to be impressed with such facts, as above related, by the beldames of the nursery and the hireling blaspbemers of the pulpit, I shudder at the ills that European education is still heir to; and shutting up in disgust the bloodstained pages of religious history, that record the wars, persecutions, and cruelties of Christianity, I retire into my garden of plants, and soothe my mind with the beauty and order of phenomena which NATURE every where presents, in spite of the perfidious attempts of RELIGION to represent her author as a monster.
0. 0. Nov. 8, 1826.
Extract from the will of Richard Barrow, a Surgeon, who died at Hounslow, and who owed a premature death to a puncture in the finger while opening a dead body for examination.
“ Hounslow, Jan, 14, 1826. “ I, Richard Barrow, of Hounslow, in the parish of Isleworth, in the County of Middlesex, Surgeon, finding a complaint of my head, which may suddenly terminate my existence, do will.and request, that I may be buried at the least expence possible, namely, that my coffin may have neither name, plate, nor nails; but exactly the same as those supplied by the parish; that no bell be rung for me; no pall used; that my body be not carried into the church; that I be buried in the poor's ground, in a grave not more than four feet deep: that the resurrection-men, if they want me, may have as little trouble as possible; and that in case
my body shonld be taken up, no inquiries be made after it, knowing how necessary bodies are for the benefit of the living. It is also my request, if the thing be possible, that no funeral service
be read over me.”
EXTRACTS FROM VOLTAIRE'S LETTERS TO MADAME
I am of opinion, after having well reflected upon the subject, that we should never think of death, since this thought can only serve to embitter, our life. If we can but avoid any acute suflerings, we have very little reason to dread death; and, why should we feel more when that overtakes us, than when we are going to sleep? These people who ceremoniously announce its approach are the enemies of the human race ; ;we ought to forbid their approach. Death, of itself, is nothing, but thinking of it renders us melancholy..
We are led forward by the general motion which was established by the great master of the universe; we can do nothing for ourselves ; we receive every thing; we are no more masters of our ideas than of the circulation of the blood which flows in our veins ; every being, and every different mode of being, necessarily form a part of the universal law of nature. It is ridiculous -Day, impossible they say, for man to do any thing of bimself, when the multitude of stars merely move in one direction, and are by no means at liberty to alter their courses. It becomes as to boast of being the absolute masters of our will, and of our actions, when every other thing in existence is a slave to the immutable order established in the world by the Supreme Being.
. All our deprivations, all our feelings, all our ideas, are absolutely necessary, that we may fulfil our destiny. You could not avoid writing me the very philosophical and the very melancholy letter, which I have just received from you; and I am obliged to write you in reply, that real courage, a proper degree of resignation to the decrees of nature, a thorough contempt for all kinds of superstition, the great pleasure of feeling myself very superior to the generality of mankind; to which may be added, the per mission we all have to exercise that noblest of all faculties, that of thinking, are very solid consolations.
I agree with you, that life is, at the best, not very desirable; yet we seem from a sort of invincible instinct, to be very anxious for its preservation, because, in addition to this iostinct, nature
has endowed us with what remained at the bottom of Pandora's box-namely, hope.
It is only when this hope quite forsakes us, or when we are seized with a species of insanity, that we are able to triumph over the instinct which attaches us to life, and are induced to endeavour to leave a house, which we think is very badly built, and which we have neither the hope nor the wish to improve. Do not, above all, take a disgust to life : for, upon my word, after one has deeply reflected, we cannot discover that there is any thing better
I had no idea of the happiness which a retired life confers upon
After I had attained the age of sixty*, 1 began to reflect upon
the follies that I had witnessed and had committed ; and I began to perceive that the world is only the theatre of a petty, but continual, warfare, either of the cruel or the ridiculous sort, and a collection of vanity, sufficient to make one sick, as that good deist of a Jew has truly said, who has has taken the name of Solomon, in Ecclesiasticus, which you do not 'chuse to read.
Speaking of the “ System of Nature" he says “this terrible book extends to a great length, and contains too many repetitions, for you to be able to read it with any pleasure : at all events, I have contrived to answer two large volumes in twenty pages.”.
You despise Ezekiel too much, Madam; the levity with which you' mention this great man seems to originate in the frivolity of your country. I can forgive your 'not chusing to breakfast as he did. Do you know that he was the first who durst give the lie to Moses, that he took the liberty of declaring, that God would not punish the children, for the iniquities of their fathers, which occasioned á schism amongst his nation? And pray was it not very Aattering to the Jews to be assured, that after feeding upon fordure, they should be allowed to gorge themselves with homan flesh ?
* This letter is dated 6th of March 1761, Voltaire was then about sixty-six
W. V. H.
Is all the pageantry of this installation into the office of Chief Magistrate of the City of London necessary to sustain the respect due to and the dignity of the office; or is not that pageantry rather the absurd custom of feudal, ignorant and barbarous times? While charters remain to decide the duties of corporations, and while no new charters are ever likely to be granted to
corporations, legislative enactments to repeal the power of those charters, or to take them away altogether, are necessary to an effectual change or abrogation of the customs arising from them.
I cannot perceive that there is any point in magisterial dignity and duties that requires any kind of pageantry, either in the office of the King or Chief Magistrate of the nation, or in that of Lord Mayor or Chief Magistrate of the City of London, or in that of any other magistrate. Magisterial duties and magisterial dignities consist of just decisions between the accuser and the accused, of just interpretations of law, and of attempts to improve, or to get the law improved, wherever it is defective. This is the whole of a magistrate's duty and this cannot be benefitted by pageantry or festivals of any kind. This pageantry and these festivals are immensely expensive and that expence must come from some funds that might be much better applied. The state of society in England is now a mixture of pageantry, luxury and excess with rags, inisery and want. This to a certain degree will be long the state of all societies; but in England, at this time, it wears peculiar features. In adjoining columns of a newspaper we read of a Lord Mayor's Dinner and of the starvation of men who want food only because they want the means of labouring to produce it.
Progressive reforms will remove these unseemly appearances, and all that an individual can do is to raise his voice against them: a sudden or speedy removal can only be effected by a upion of the multitude, who suffer by them, in resolving to suffer no longer.
The time approaches, when the growing sense of the people will look rather to the Lord Mayor in his Justice-Room than in his fine coach and his festivals. A gilded coach and gilded liveries are not enough to procure the applause of sensible men; there must be a conduct virtuous and useful in the public officer. The present Lord Mayor sat on the bench, and encouraged Common Serjeant Denman to sentence Humphrey Boyle to 18 months of imprisonment for selling one of my publications. The London public judges him an intolerant; but, as sure as he displays any of his intolerance in matters of opinion, we will spoil his savage sport, and teach him, that religion is a vice not, powerful enough to stand up against the virtue of free discussion.