« AnteriorContinua »
great laugh.) Admire nature-cultivate reason.And you, Legislators, if you desire that the French people should be happy, make haste to propagate these principles, and to teach them in your primary schools, instead of those fanatical principles which have hitherto been taught. The tyranny of Kings was confined to make their people miserable in this life--but those other tyrants, the Priests, extend their dominion into another, of which they have no other idea than of eternal punishments; a doctrine which some men have hitherto had the good nature to believe. But the moment of the catastrophe is come—all these prejudices must fall at the same time. We must destroy them, or they will destroy us. For myself, I honestly avow to the Convention, I am an atheist! (Here there is some noise and tumult. But a great number of members cry out, “ What is that $ to us—you are an honest man!") But I defy a single individual, amongst the twenty-four millions of Frenchmen, to make against me any well-grounded reproach. I doubt whether the Christians or the Catholics, of which the last speaker, and those of his opinion, have been talking to us, can make the same challenge.-(Great applauses.) There is another consideration-Paris has had great losses. It has been deprived of the commerce of luxury; of that factitious splendour which was found at courts, and invited strangers bither. Well! we must repair these losses.---Let me then represent to you the times, that are fast approaching, when our philosophers, whose names are celebrated throughout Europe, Petion, SYEYES, CONDORCET, and others-surrounded in our Pantheon, as the Greek philosophers were at Athens, with a crowd of disciples coming from all parts of Europe, walking like the Peripatetics, and teaching--this man, the system of the universe, and developing the progress of all human knowledge;
that, perfectioning the social system, and shewing in our decree of the 17th of June 1789, the seeds of , the insurrections of the 14th of July, and the 10th of August, and of all those insurrections which are spreading with such rapidity throughout Europe-so that these young strangers, on their return to their respective countries, may spread the same lights, and may operate, for the happiness of mankind, similar revolutions throughout the world.
(Numberless applauses arose, almost throughout the whole Assembly, and in the galleries.)
SPEECH OF MR. DUPONT,
ON THE SUBJECTS OF
RELIGION and PUBLIC EDUCATION.
It is presumed that it may not be thought unseasonable at this critical time to offer to the public, and especially to the more religious part of it, a few slight observations, occasioned by the late famous speech of Mr. Dupont, which exhibits the confession of faith of a considerable Member of the French National Convention. Though the speech itself has been pretty generally read, yet it was thought necessary to prefix it to these remarks, lest such as have no already perused it, might, from an honest reluctance to credit the existence of such principles, dispute its authenticity, and accuse the remarks, if unaccompanied by the speech, of a spirit of invective and unfair exaggeration. At the same time it must be confessed, that its impiety is so monstrous, that many good men were of opinion it ought not to be made familiar to the minds of Englishmen; for there
are crimes with which even the imagination should never come in contact, and which it is almost safer not to controvert than to detail.
But as an ancient nation intoxicated their slaves, and then exposed them before their children, in order to increase their horror of intemperance; so it is hoped that this piece of impiety may be placed in such a light before the eyes of the Christian reader, that, in proportion as his detestation is raised, his faith, instead of being shaken, will be only so much the more strengthened.
This celebrated speech, though delivered in an assembly of politicians, is not on a question of politics, but on one as superior to all political considerations as the soul is to the body, as eternity is to time. The object of this oration is not to dethrone kings, but him by whom kings reign. It does not excite the cry of indignation in the orator that Louis the Sixteenth reigns, but that the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
Nor is this the declaration of some obscure and anonymous person, but it is an exposition of the creed of a public leader. It is not a sentiment hinted in a journal, hazarded in a pamphlet, or thrown out at a disputing club; but it is the implied faith of the rulers of a great nation.
Little notice would have been due to this famous speech, if it had conveyed the sentiments of only one vain orator ; but it should be observed, that it was heard, received, applauded, with two or three exceptions only--a fact, which you, who have scarcely believed in the existence of atheism, will hardly credit, and which, for the honour of the eighteenth century, it is hoped that our posterity will reject as totally incredible.
A love of liberty, generous in its principle, inclines some well meaning but mistaken men still to favour