« ZurückWeiter »
wonder not without cause, what he could know of the religion" or morality of the Jesuits. The merit of deep investigation into the philosophy of merely animal nature, cannot indeed be denied to BUFFON; but with respect to that moral monster the Jesuit, he was the last man whose opinion is worth possessing: at once the greatest sensualist, and the greatest student of his age; his whole time was divided between his vices and his writings. The grossness of his conversation obliged ladies of any character, even when they were his own guests, to withdraw from his table, that they might escape from his indelicate and licentious observations. During the life of his wife, he was charged with frequent infidelities, and he proceeded to the unwarrantable extreme of debauching young women, and then employing means to procure abortion.
His confidence in the latter period of his life, was almost wholly engrossed by a Mademoiselle Blesseau, who lived with him for many years. Of his infidelity, his works afford ample evidence; and it was this which suggested to him, that immortal renown was the most powerful of death-bed consolations. In his contempt for Religion, he added hypocricy to impiety, attending with regularity the external observances of religion, under pretence that as there must be a religion for the multitude, we should avoid giving offence. "I have always" (he said)" named the Creator, but it is only putting, mentally, in "its place, the energy of nature, which results from the two
great laws of attraction and impulse. When the Sorbonne "molested me, I gave all the satisfaction which they solicited: "it was only a form that I despised, but men are weak enough "to be satisfied with forms. For the same reason, when I fall dangerously ill, I shall not hesitate to send for the Sacraments. "This is due to the public religion. They who act otherwise "are madmen."-Yet gross as this hypocrisy was, as to externals, BUFFON never permitted it to interfere with his personal vices, which he practised to the last, with an obdurate
* "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools!" Romans,
ch. i. ver, 22.
and unfeeling profligacy, that has probably never been exceed ed; the debauching of female children forming his constant and his last delight!
He never fails to allude to sensual gratifications in his works, and never lost sight of them in his practice*. Yet this is the man to whom one of his countrymen (Herault de Sechelles) dared to apply the epithets of "great and good;" and this too is the man, whom MR. DALLAS selects as an evidence in favor of the Jesuits!
MR. DALLAS must not hope to shelter himself under the plea that BUFFON's impieties and immoralities have nothing to do with this question. They are essentially connected with it, because it is evidence to moral character, which Burron gives, and which MR. DALLAS quotes; and it then becomes of importance to ascertain whether the person who gave this evidence had any moral character of his own. It is one thing when a man writes respecting animals, minerals, or vegetables; and another when he ventures upon higher ground, treats of Morals, and eulogizes a Religious Order. The opinion of a Philosopher may be very correct upon the secondary causes of Thunder and Lightning; but if the same Philosopher were boldly to deny the God who was the great primary cause of these appearances, we should without hesitation reject his evidence, upon a question of religion and morality. Thus the Philosopher in question, who virtually rejected the Revelation which God had given to the world, could be expected to know but little of the way in which the Jesuits had adhered to, or departed from it, either in the doctrines they taught, or the practices they observed.
The next authority is that of HALLER (p. 139), and hap chiefly reference to the Missions of the Jesuits, which will be considered hereafter.
The authority of HALLER is succeeded by that of MURA TORI, the Italian Scholar and Antiquary, who also speaks to
* See, in proof of the above facts, Rees's and Brewster's Cyclopedias, and Chalmers's Biographical Dictionary, with their authorities.
the Missions of the Jesuits, in the Extract which is given; and he again is followed by GROTIUS, LEIBNITZ, and BACON, a Triumvirate, who are somewhat unceremoniously lumped together.
We then come to the Evidence supplied in favor of the Jesuits by the Infidel friend and ally of the Atheists, Deists, and Sceptics of the French Revolution, FREDERIC OF PRUSSIA; whom MR. DALLAS, notwithstanding, honours with the epithet of THE GREAT, a title which other splendid villains, and mighty conquerors, have shared in common with him, from the foundation of the world.
The opinion of DR. JOHNSON, which follows in p. 144, requires a little more examination.
MR. DALLAS is perfectly welcome to all the benefit of MRS. PIOZZI's account of DR. JOHNSON's opinion of the Jesuits, if he ever expressed any such opinion. It is somewhat strange, however, that in all BoswELL's conversations with Dr. JOHNSON, he should never have reported him as advancing any opinion in favor of the Jesuits; and it is certain that Mrs. Piozzi is not to be implicitly depended upon for correctness. BOSWELL convicts that sprightly Lady, upon the clearest evidence, of various inaccuracies in her narrative, which convey the most erroneous impressions of DR. JOHNSON's character and opinions. In one place he observes: "As a sincere friend "of the great man whose life I am writing, I think it neces"sary to guard my readers against the mistaken notion of "DR. JOHNSON's character, which this Lady's Anecdotes of "him convey."-See Boswell's Life, Vol. iv. p. 357, Edit. 1799.
Again he observes: "I have had occasion several times in the course of this work, to point out the incorrectness of "MRS. PIOZZI, as to particulars which fell within my own know"ledge." Ib. p. 358.-And again: "I certainly do not claim "too much in behalf of my illustrious friend, in saying, that, "however smart and entertaining her Anecdotes are, they must "not be held as good evidence." Ib. 360. In the same page
BOSWELL, speaks of her "exaggeration and distortion:" and he adds, "It is with concern that I find myself obliged to "animadvert on the inaccuracies of MRS. Piozzi's Anecdotes, "and perhaps I may be thought to have dwelt too long upon "her little collection; but as, from JOHNSON's long intimacy "with her, the account which she has given of him, may have "made an unfavorable and unjust impression, my duty as a "faithful biographer has obliged me reluctantly to perform "this unpleasing task."
Let it however be admitted, for the sake of giving to the friends of the Jesuits all possible advantage from DR. JOHNSON's opinion, that he really did, when in conversation with a French Abbé at Rouen, condemn the destruction of the Jesuits, as stated by MRS. Piozzi, and what does this amount to? Simply, that a learned and excellent Protestant, who is known to have had a strong leaning towards some of the tenets of Popery, expressed an opinion, that this powerful Catholic Order was of advantage to the world, and that therefore it could not be advantageously suppressed. The History which follows may, perhaps, convince all who are open to conviction that DR. JOHNSON was completely mistaken, in the favorable opinion which he is supposed to have formed of this body of men; and that his notion of their being useful to the world, no more established that utility, than his opinion of the advantage of praying for the dead, established the fact that the dead are any better for our prayers. On one occasion DR. JOHNSON argued for THE INQUISITION; maintaining (says Boswell), that "false doctrine should be checked on its first appear"ance, that the civil power should unite with the Church, in
punishing those who dared to attack the established religion, "and that such only were punished by the Inquisition.”—See Boswell's Life, Vol. i. p. 421, Edit. 1799.-Now, although BOSWELL asserts, that this was not JOHNSON's real opinion (in which perhaps he is correct), yet it at least shews, that the colloquial remarks of that great man cannot be always admitted, for the purpose of settling a disputed proposition. He
is well known to have often "talked" (as he bimselt termed it) "for victory,
"And e'en though vanquish'd he could argue still."
We are then informed by MR. DALLAS, that DEAn KirWAN, as well as VOLTAIRE, had his Education among the Jesuits; but, if one of these characters surmounted the errors of his education, and the other did not, this will not prove that the system of education pursued among the Jesuits is therefore a right one.
BAUSSET, a Catholic Bishop of our own times, is next cited (p. 145), to prove the excellence of the Jesuits; which is about as much to the purpose as if BISHOP MILNER were called to establish the same point.
To him succeed JUAN and ULLOA, the two Spanish Catholics, cited by PROFESSOR ROBERTSON.
In the shape that this Professor's statement from those writers appears in the beginning of MR. DALLAS's work, the Extract is all in favor of the Jesuits in PARAGUAY; and therefore MR. DALLAS, in afterwards adverting to JUAN and ULLOA as authorities in favor of the Jesuits, briefly observes that "their very names suggest the virtues and praises of the Je"suits," and that he does "not think it necessary to extend "their testimony." They who have honoured this Answer with a perusal may remember that MR. DALLAS's partial and imperfect Extract from ROBERTSON respecting PARAGuay, has been already exposed: the testimony of JUAN and Ulloa, from which ROBERTSON took his account, is by no means exclusively in favor of the Jesuits, as MR. DALLAS would have us believe. The fact is, that although those Catholic Historians intended to praise all they found, even they have said enough to let us see that all was not quite so praiseworthy as they wished us to think, while the weight of other testimony against the Jesuits in Paraguay is decisive on the subject.
RICHELIEU is MR. DALLAS's next authority (p. 147); but as every Protestant who might read MR. DALLAS's book,