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he mod Mr. Trobensible in Othe
out this Writer's Letters from the mountains; which laid the foundation for the persecution that followed.
I need not tell you, Sir, with what avidity those letters were received by the public, nor that they were proscribed and burnt by the common executioner in various places. For our part, we remained very peaceable spectators of those ridiculous bonfires, till about the end of February ; when the zeal of our ecclefiaftics, which had so long lain (mothering in darkness, burst at once into a blaze. The assembly of our clergy complained both to the administration and the magiftracy, againft the said letters ; representing them as impious, scandalous and heretical; soliciting withal the immediate proscription of them, as also the suppression of the projected edition, and of the Author's works in general,'
The administration, we are told, don't easily take fire at such remonstrances, however overhea:ed with the fury of inordinate zeal. The civil magistrate, nevertheless, took the matter into consideration, and suppressed the book; the officer entrusted with the business of crying it down, making a very whimsical blunder in the discharge of his duty. The cause of their prohibition, as specified in the proclamation, was their having at. tacked every thing the most respectable in our holy religion : instead of which the learned Mr. Town-clerk asserted that they attacked every thing the most reprehensible in our holy religion. This unlucky mistake had a droll effect on the auditors, and was thought by some to have very luckily amended an error in the proclamation. The assembly indeed thought otherwise; and determined to proceed against the author; who, being advised of the great disturbance which the fermentation of this venerable body might cause in the state, thought it his duty, as a good subject, to endeavour to allay the storm. For this purpose, he transmitted the following declaration to Mr. Professor de Montmollin, the pastor of his church ; in order to have it communicated to the assembly :'
Out of the deference I owe to Professor de Montmollin, my pastor, and the respect I bear to the venerable assembly of the clergy, I offer, if they will admit of it, to engage myself, by a writing signed with my own hand, never to publish any new work relative to matters of religion; nor even to treat of religion, though ever so cursorily, in any new work, I may hereafter publish on other subjects : promising farther to continue, both in sentiment and conduct, to display the value I set upon the happiness of being united to the church.- Mr. Professor is desired to communicate this declaration to the venerable assembly.
J. J. Rousseau.” This declaration, it seems, the assembly determined to keep a profound secret, even from those of their own body, who did
other subjects in any neweven to treat oy new
not happen to be present at the time of its delivery. By some means or other, however, it was foon made known to his Prulfian majesty at Berlin; in consequence of which the king's attorney-general at Neufchatel received the following letter, from the Lord Marshall :
• The king is displeased that your fellow-countrymen should be irritated against a man whom he protects ; and hath declared that he will highly resent any farther persecution of Mr. Rousfeau. This I have from his Majesty's own lips; you may report it to whom you please.'
This intimation of the King's pleasure, in behalf of Mr. Rousseau, although immediately made public, was disregarded by the Affembly of the Clergy; who precipitately proceeded, in open defiance of such intimation, as well as in direct opposition to the laws and constitution of this country, to pass fentence of excommunication upon him. They were prevented, however, from carrying their fentence into execution, by the remonstrance of one of their own body. The letter-writer inserts this remonftrance at length; we shall only extract the latter part of it; from which our Readers may not only learn something of the legal jurisdiction of this clerical assembly; but also some of the secret motives for their proceedings.
· The only point in this business, says this remonftrant, in which the Affembly can with propriety interfere ; is an examination into the works of the Writer ; the dispersion and propagation of which, it is its duty to oppofe, by prudent admonitions addressed to the Author, by means of his pastor ; exhorting him to write and publish no more ; and also by making earnest remonstrances to the government, in order to obtain a repeal of the privilege granted for the projected edition of his works.--If the assembly act prudentially they will infilt no farther than to obtain these ends which will be very considerable *. It is undoubtedly of dangerous consequence to extend the privilege of toleration indiscriminately to all foreigners that may accept of it: as this would be, in a manner, to give an invitation to the authors of all pernicious books to seek an azylum in this country, and would risk the making it a general rendezvous for those paultry scribblers, whose sceptical dispositions principally induce them to make their attacks on the doctrines of religion and morality. There is yet another reason wby the assembly, convened to deliberate on this business, should act with caution. It is publickly reported that the first-mover of all its proceedings, resides in a neighbouring capital, in the person of an apostate ecclesiastic; one whose sole view in prose
* Yet these, as the letter-writer remarks, Mr. Rousseau had voluntarily offered, if they would have admitted of them,
cuting this affair is to do himself credit with a D'Alembert and a Voltaire, the rivals and enemies of Rousseau. "Would it not be justly deemed scandalous for an assembly of divines, so greatly distinguished in the reformed part of Europe, to permit themselves to be actuated, in a matter of religious importance by an intriguing ecclesiastic given up to worldly pursuits and personal prospects? How can they think of listening to the infinuations of such a person ; when the matter in question relates to the means of silencing or reclaiming a poor and honest, though mistaken, unbeliever? How can they think of being adviled or directed by a man, who is known to have the strictest connections with an inventor of bawdy tales, defamatory histories, and the reviver of exploded systems of materialism and impiety? How can they bear to be influenced by one, who piques himself, on being the favourite and creature of the amballadors of a crown, which is daily imprisoning or hanging up his countrymen and brethren, for preaching the gospel in its genuine purity; rendering himself by such fervility even an accomplice in the anti-christian cruelties of Popery? Of what influence, I say, should be the suggestions of such a ca bal over an assembly of Protestant divines ?'
We are very sorry to think there should be any room, for fufpeéting either a D'Alembert or a Voltaire of being, in any wise, accessory to Mr. Rousseau's persecution ; and we hope, notwithstanding what is here advanced by the letter-writer, that such infinuations are groundless. Be this as it may : this remonftrance, it seems, occasioned fresh deliberations in the afo sembly; in consequence of which, they referred the matter of excommunication to the proper convocation, viz. that of a consistory of elders of the church at Motiers. To influence the consistory, however, to effect more legally what they had already conceived, the pastor of the church charged himself with a commission to the elders, directing them to cite Rous. seau before them, and to ask him the following questions ;
Į. Whether John James Rousseau doth not believe in Jesus Christ, who died for our fins and rose again for our justifia: *cation?
2. Whether he doth not believe a revelation, and respect the Holy Scriptures as of divine authority ?
The very officious pastor was farther commißioned and direct. ed, in case Mr. Rousseau did not make very satisfactory answers to the above questions, to proceed immediately to excommunicate him ; doubtless says the letter-writer, à quelque prix que ce fût. There is good reason at least, continues he, to conclude as much, by the oppressive and unprecedented measures, taken in the consistory, to intimidate or cajole the elders, by telling
them that Rousseau was the antichrist ; that the safety of the country depended on his excommunication, that the different members of the state were for it; that the allied Cantons, particularly that of Berne, had threatened to renounce its ancient alliance if Rousseau was not excommunicated. Nay reports were even spread about, among the females in Motlers' and its neighbourhood, that Rousseau had afferted, in his last book, that women had no souls: a circumstance, says the writer, that put the poor philosopher in danger of sharing the fate of Orpheus. Nor, says 'he, is this an exaggerated state of the cale; there being a great number of fanatic zealots who would have been glad to furnith a faggot, had Rousseau been at the stake: soʻthat his friends thought it a lucky circumstance that the reverity of the season confined him to his house; as he would else have been in actual peril from the fury of these modern Baca chánts, whose termagánt spirits 'were irritated to the highest pitch in behalf of their suspected fouls."
Mátters were in this situation; when this pretended antichrist addressed a letter to his friend the attorney-general ; from which we shall make a short abstract :
na be approves others behindé to feek
Motiers, March 23, 1765. · I am 'at a loss, Sir, to know whether I ought not to rejoice ad misfortunes, that are 'accompanied with so many consolations. Thore I'expérienced from the receipt of your letter were very agreeable'; though what I'received from the packet it contained; was much more so. I communicated to my Lord Marfhall, some time ago, the reasons which made me desirous of quitting this country, in order to seek' peace for myself, and to leave it with others behind me. I have the satisfaction to find he approves of those reafons, and is of opinion that I ought immediately to depart. Thuś Sir, my refolution is taken; and, though it is taken with regret, is irrevocable. Is it por fible that any of my friends can disapprove of the desire of a man'in my presént melancholy situation, the natural desire of finding some peaceful spot, where my 'bones may be deposited and rest in tranquillity! Had I a sufficient share of health and Spirits, I should gladly have consented, for the public good, to meet my adversaries face to face; but, debilitated by unex: ampled "misfortunes, and worn out with infirmities,' I am very unfit to act'a part which it would be cruelty to impose on me. Harraffed almost to death with disputes and altercations, I can no longer support their perplexity. Leť mé go hěnce, therefore, and die in peace: fór" here it is impoffible; though less from the ill-will of the inhabitants tlian from its 'vicinity to Geneva: an inconvenience which all the good-will'in the world will not enable them to remove,
Croni the ill-in peace
On receiving, but finding use of a long 20
The resolution of leaving this country, being what my enemies have endeavoured to reduce me to, ought naturally to prevent their farther proceedings against me. I am as yet in too poor a state of health to undertake a journey, and it will re.. quire some little time to settle my affairs here before I go. In, the mean time, I hope not to be treated worse than a Turk, a Jew, a Pagan or an Atheist; flattering myself I may be pera mitted, for a few weeks at least, to enjoy that hospitality, which is not refused to the most absolute stranger.”
To return to the proceedings of the confistory. Mr. Rousseau was formgfly cited to appear before them, and promised to obey the summons; but finding himself in an indifferent" state of health, and taking adyice of his friends, he judged it more expedient to decline a personal attendance, and to send in writing what he proposed to say on the occasion. He accorda ingly wrote them the following letter inclosing the declaration, he had made to Mr. De Montmollin, his pastor, when he was received to the Holy Communion in 1762.
- Motiers, March 29, 1765. Gentlemen, On receiving your citation of yesterday, I determined to at. tend you to day; but finding myself extremely indisposed, can.. not pretend to risk the fatigue of 'a long and tedious audience. Having considered also that, with regard to the matter of faith, which is the single object of that citation, I may as well exo! plain myself in writing. I doubt' not also that the charity, * which must ever accompany your zeal, will induce you to ad. mit of the same reply by letter as I should give, were I perfo.' nally present. Give me leave to tell re, then, gentlemen, it' appears to me, that the severity, with which the assembly of the Clergy hath proceeded against me, should have been founded: on fome positive law; which I am assuted does not now exist in this country. Nothing indeed can be more novel, more irregular, or, more destructive to civil, liberty, and above all more contrary to the true spirit of our holy religion, than such violent proceedings in a matter of, pure faith..
For let me bėg of you to consider that, having been long received into the bofom of the Church ; and being neither paftor, nor profeffor, nor in any manner'invested with the authority of public instruction, I ought, not, as a simple individual among the number of the faithful, to be subjected to any examination or inquisition concerning masters of belief.. Such an inquisition, tends indeed to fap the foundations of the reformed religion, at once infringing both on,Gospel, liberty and Christian charity; as well as on theiaushority of the Prince, and the