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Art, V. Thoughts on Religion, and other Subjects. By Blaise Pas
cal. A new Translation, and a Memoir of his Life, by the Rev Edward Craig, A.M. Oxon. 12mo. pp. 296. Price 6s. Edin
burgh. 1825. THE *HE hostility of the Jesuits against the Jansenists, though
marked by circumstances peculiar to the system of the Romish Church, was essentialy but a part of the great warfare which has been carrying on, by the enemies of true religion against its friends, from the days of Cain and Abel, until the present hour. The fair construction of Gospel truth will ultimately lead to the establishment of civil and religious liberty; and this blessed consummation is too much at variance with the interests of hierarchies and Holy Alliances, not to urge their partisans-Legion, their name is, for they are many—to oppose its advent by all methods whatsoever,—by intrigues and slanders, chains and dungeons, fire and sword. The powers of darkness could not have desired a fitter agent than Louis Quatorze. Selfish, sensual, and superstitious, he was governed by his confessor and his mistress, and, as he could not fashion a future state after his own model, he submitted to the very unpleasant necessity of making preparation for eternity after the most approved method. This, the Jesuits told him, was persecution ; and as those worthies were the Rabbies most in vogue, the Grand Monarqué set about being saved according to their prescriptions. The massacres of the Cevennes, and the ruin of Port Royal were the results of his majesty's piety, and he slept quietly, in full confidence that the cries of the Protestants, and the groans of the evangelical Catholics had risen to Heaven, a favoured memorial and an acceptable offering.
Of the effect which all this might have upon the persecutor's eternal interests, it is not in our inclination to express an opinion. It is enough that history has recorded, and will hereafter record in sterner style than times and circumstances have hitherto permitted, her awful verdict. Louis lived long enough to learn the folly and the recoiling destructiveness of ambition; but no earthly experience was to teach him the guilt of persecution. Of its imbecility and self-degradation, he might have a casual glimpse, when his best officers were baffled by a baker's boy, and when he recollected that the ruined cloisters and oratories of Port Royal had sheltered some of the brightest luminaries of his realm and reign.
In the contest between those eminent men and their oppressors, Pascal dealt the keenest blow against the Janissaries of the Vatican. His Provinciales,' as they are commonly, but not very correctly termed, though written in a temporary con
troversy, have been placed among the classics of his country. The criticism of Voltaire, ascribing to them the poignant sarcasm of Moliere, and the impressive eloquence of Bossuet, is not overstrained. They went forth a perpetual and withering satire on the casuistry of the Jesuits and the policy of Rome. Attempts were made at the time of publication, and they have been renewed since then, to fix on Pascal the charge of unfaithful citation ; his own triumphant answer shall be given.
• The contest of M. Pascal with the Jesuits continued for about three years, during which time, he was very much occupied. To ex, pose their errors, required a very diligent study of their voluminous and useless writings; and though, in this respect, Pascal was much indebted to the labour of Arnauld and Nicole, yet, much application on his own part was absolutely necessary. He says,
66 I have been asked, if I had read all the books which I have quoted? I answer, No. To do this, I must have spent a large portion of my life in reading very bad books. But I have twice read the works of Escobar through : the others, my friends read for me. But I have never made use of a single passage, without having read it in the book from which I quoted, and without having studied the ground on which it was brought forward, and examined the context both before and after, that I might not run the risk of citing that as an averment,
which brought forward as an objection."
There was great intrepidity in this conduct of Pascal. His antagonists (and he knew them well) were men designing and determined, deeming all things lawful in the prosecution of their schemes. Poison and the knife were approved syllogisms in their system of logic; nor is it at all improbable, that this formidable adversary was silenced by the first of these conclusive arguments. • The circumstances of his death,' as Mr. Craig shrewdly suggests, “were very peculiar.' The physicians were clearly at fault, and the diseased state of his stomach and intestines, as ascertained on post mortem examination, might awaken suspicion in charity itself, though we do not profess to abound in that amiable quality towards the ecclesiastical gen. tlemen in question.
The “ Pensées” were a posthumous publication, and came before the world under every possible disadvantage. They were the mere shreds and patches of a larger work, and they contained litile more than hints and outlines of more extended discussions; but there is an originality in their conception, combined with a force and comprehension in their expression, that would have rendered suppression inexcusable. A draught is given of the treatise of which they are the sybilline leaves, and it has all the promise of a splendid monument of genius and industry, had its full completion been effected. We are,
however, inclined to doubt whether it may not, in some respects, be more effective in its present state. The almost oracular abruptness of some portions, and the epigrammatic compression of others, stimulate the mind, and keep it on the alert; while the comparison of these detached ideas with the general plan, seems to put us in possession of the process by which this mighty intellect was moving forward to the construction of his magnificent design. Considerable difficulties were connected with the first publication; but the Editors, who were men of the greatest ability, appear to have made a judicious selection and arrangement. Additions have since been made, and the recent reprints appear to contain all that can be expected in this respect.
It is a singular circumstance, that two leaders of the antichristian party, Condorcet and Voltaire, should have successively published editions of these masterly refutations of their own errors. They are, however, said to have exhibited characteristic disingenuousness in their treatment of the work. Mutilation and sarcastic annotation have been charged upon them, and Mr. Craig has repeated the accusation. We have often felt much curiosity to inspect these specimens of infidel comment, but neither of the publications has fallen in our way, and we could have wished that the present Editor had furnished a few details on the subject. Apart from the melancholy considerations which press upon the reflecting mind in the contemplation of malignant opposition to the dispensation of mercy, there must be something inexpressibly ridiculous in the sight of impotent rancour grappling with an adversary of overpowering strength, and shouting triumph in the agonies of defeat.
There are two works which we should feel disposed to recommend most especially to persons of an ingenuous mind, harassed with doubts on the subject of Christianity, and staggered by the sneers of the infidel school. The first is the volume before us, which, for knowledge of the human heart, of man's moral exigencies, and the adaptation of the gospel discoveries, is nearly without a peer. The second is the admirable book of the Abbé Guenée,—The Letters of certain Portuguese
Jews to M. de Voltaire. The arch-flamen of infidelity is there met upon his own ground, and foiled at his favourite weapons. Humour and satire superior to his own, level their dread artillery at his sophisms, his sterile sarcasms, and his ignorant attempts at learned exposition. There is much useful explanation in this able production, and at a time when efforts are making to revive the popularity of Voltaire, we are anxious to place the antidote in view.
. Mr. Craig has executed his task as a translator in a judicious and effective manner. His prolegomenary matter is good, and we prefer making an extract from this part, because we think the paragraph we have selected, contains important suggestions, and because, moreover, a specimen of a writer's average style will generally give the measure of his talents as a translator, so far, at least, as language is concerned.
• 'The man who is saved in the Romish Church, must be essentially protestant against its errors; and till the whole body of the hierarchy shall be brought to this, and to lay their unscriptural and unholy honours at the feet of Him whose power they have usurped, and whose truth and purity they have libelled and insulted, this must continue to be the case. And if this be the fact, then must it ever be a subject of mourning, that any portion of our empire is so criminally left to the meagre chance of salvation in her communion.
However men may differ as to their opinion of the rights of men as subjects of a human government, it becomes them to remember what the Church of Rome has ever been, and what, in all its avowed sentiments and public documents it still is-the patron of ignorance and debasing superstition in the mass of its members. And if they see it right to give liberty to her sons with one hand, they should be yet more strenuous to give them light with the other. Nothing can be more awful, fand to the British empire more disgraceful, than that, 300 years after the Reformation, four millions of its subjects, at our very doors, should be in a state of the most melancholy ignorance of the first principles of the pure word of God, worshipping idols, doing meritorious penances, wearing charms and consecrated amulets, trusting purchased indulgences, vowing allegiance to a foreign potentate as the representative of their God, and denouncing certain perdition on all who are not partakers of their folly. When will the spirit of our fathers come upon us again? Where is the mantle of our Elijahs of former days ? When will a truly Protestant heart return again to the British people? When will the day come, in which we shall be prepared, as a people, in the simplicity of a Scriptural faith, to leave the message of mercy, unfettered by the safeguards of human prudence, to win its triumphant way to the hearts of men ? When will the churches of this favoured land rise, as with one consent, against the vile and debasing superstitions which the influence of Rome still pours as a poisonous deluge over so fair a portion of the British dominions; when they shall go forth, not to increase or per. petuate the political rigours of former days,-not to punish, by the privation of civil rights, the errors of an uninformed and misguided conscience ; but to visit these sad victims of priestcraft and delusion with the kindly offices of mercy and love,-to remonstrate affection. ately, to reason calmly, to open and explain the Scriptures, to preach in their highways and hedges, the unsearchable riches of the Gospel of Christ, and to triumph, as the Head and High-priest of our profession triumphed, by turning them “ from darkness to light, from the power
of Satan unto God.”,
This is the true spirit of Protestantism, and if noble senti ments like these did but animate the bosom, and regulate the zeal of every clergyman, we should not be in danger of having this country again disturbed and disgraced by the unmeaning, and worse than unmeaning, election-cry of No Popery, re-echoed from every
ale-house in the land. The Translator speaks of two former English editions; he has probably not seen a little volume entitled, “The Spirit of • Pascal,' containing a compression, rather than an abridgement of the • Thoughts.' In the complete work, there is a great deal of something like repetition, and the Editor bad evidently taken some pains to retain the substance as well as spirit of the original. How far he had succeeded, we do not exactly recollect.
Art. VI. 1. Travels in Russia, the Krimea, the Caucasus, and Georgia.
By Robert Lyall, M.D. F.L.S. &c. &c. 2 vols. 8vo. pp. 1062.
Price ll. 10s. London. 1825. 2. The Character of the Russians and a Detailed History of Mos
Illustrated with numerous Engravings. With a Dissertation on the Russian Language, and an Appendix. By Robert
Lyall, M.D. 4to. pp. cliv. 640. Price 41. 45. London. 1823. 3. Travels through Russia, Siberia, Poland, Austria, Saxony, Prussia,
Hanover, &c. &c. Undertaken during the Years 1822, 1823, and 1824, while suffering from total Blindness; and comprising an Account of the Author being conducted a State Prisoner from the Eastern Parts of Siberia. By James Holman, R.N. and
K.W. 2.vols. 8vo. (Plates.) Price 11. 4:s. London. 1825. THE *HE manner in which the word Russia has been, for the
past few centuries, growing upon us in significance and extent of meaning, is not a little curious. But a few centuries ago, it designated the most inconsiderable power and the least interesting country in Europe. The Czar, the Sophy, and the Great Mogul had about an equal share in the affairs of Europe and the speculations of politicians. The Crim Tartar was quite as formidable a personage as the Muscovite, and the Turk was much more so. Muscovy, in the map of Europe, with its wooden capital and its two or three frozen ports, presented an appearance something like China in the map of Asia, where, among an assemblage of outlandish names, those of Pekin, Canton, and Nankin are the only ones that excite the least interest. In Hakluyt's Voyages, there is a letter from a Mr. Richard Uscombe to Mr. Henry Lane, dated August, 1571, in which the very heavy news of the burning of the