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A Residence in France During the Years 1792, 1793,

Neither theistical nor atheistical it is nihilistical


"Volumes have been written to determine whether or no a republic of Atheists could exist. I maintain that every other republic is a chimera. If you once admit the existence of a heavenly Sovereign, you introduce the wooden horse within your walls!--What you adore by day will be your destruction at night.

"A people of theists necessarily become revelationists, that is to say, slaves of priests, who are but religious go-betweens, and physicians of damned souls.

"If I were a scoundrel, I should make a point of exclaiming against atheism, for a religious mask is very convenient to a traitor.

"The intolerance of truth will one day proscribe the very name of temple 'fanum,' the etymology of fanaticism.

"We shall instantly see the monarchy of heaven condemned in its turn by the revolutionary tribunal of victorious Reason; for Truth, exalted on the throne of Nature, is sovereignly intolerant.

"The republic of the rights of man is, properly speaking, neither theistical nor atheistical--it is nihilistical."

Many of the most eminent conforming Prelates and Clergy were arrested, and even individuals, who had the reputation of being particularly devout, were marked as objects of persecution. A new

calendar was devised, which excluded the ancient festivals, and limited public worship to the decade, or tenth day, and all observance of the Sabbath was interdicted. The prisons were crouded with sufferers in the cause of religion, and all who had not the zeal or the courage of martyrs, abstained from manifesting any attachment to the Christian faith.

While this consternation was yet recent, the Deputies on mission in the departments shut up the churches entirely: the refuse of low clubs were paid and encouraged to break the windows and destroy the monuments; and these outrages, which, it was previously concerted, should at first assume the appearance of popular tumult, were soon regulated and directed by the mandates of the Convention themselves. The churches were again opened, an atheistic ritual, and licentious homilies,* were substituted for the proscribed service--and an absurd and ludicrous imitation of the Greek mythology was exhibited, under the title of the Religion of Reason.--

* I have read a discourse pronounced in a church at Paris, on the decade, so indecent and profane, that the most humble audience of a country-puppet show in England would not have tolerated it.

On the principal church of every town was inscribed, "The Temple of Reason;" and a tutelary goddess was installed with a ceremony equally pedantic, ridiculous, and profane.*

* At Havre, the goddess of Reason was drawn on a car by four cart-horses, and as it was judged necessary, to prevent accidents, that the horses should be conducted by those they were accustomed to, the carters were likewise put in requisition and furnished with cuirasses a l'antique from the theatre. The men, it seems, being neither martial nor learned, were not au fait at this equipment, and concluding it was only a waistcoat of ceremony, invested themselves with the front behind, and the back part laced before, to the great amusement of the few who were sensible of the mistake.


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