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His danger increasing, he wrote the following note to the Abbé Gaultier:
"You had promised me, Sir, to come and hear me. I intreat you would take the trouble of calling as soon as possible. (Signed)
Paris, February, 1778.
A few days after, he wrote the following declaration, in presence of the same Abbé Gaultier, the Abbé Mignot, and the Marquis de Villevieille, copied from the minutes deposited with M. Moinet, notary, at Paris.
“I, the underwriter, declare, that for these four days past, having been afflicted with a vomiting of blood, at the age of eightyfour, and not having been able to drag myself to the church, the reverend the rector of St. Sulpice having been pleased to add to his good works that of sending to me the Abbé Gaultier, a priest, I confessed to him; and, if it pleases God to dispose of me, I die in the holy Catholic church, in which I was born; hoping that the divine mercy will deign to pardon all my faults. If ever I have scandalized the church, I ask pardon of God and of the church. VOLTAIRE.
March 2, 1778.
"In presence of the Abbé Mignot, my nephew; and the Marquis de Villevieille, my friend.”
After the two witnesses had signed this declaration, Voltaire added these words, copied from the same minutes.
"The Abbé Gaultier, my confessor, having apprized me that it was said among a certain set of people, "I should protest against every thing that I did at my death;" I declare that I never made such a speech, and that it is an old jest, attributed long since to many of the learned, more enlightened than I am.”
Was this declaration a fresh instance of his former hypocrisy? for he had the mean hypocrisy, even in the midst of his efforts against christianity, to receive the sacrament regularly, and to do other acts of religion, merely to be able to deny his infidelity, if accused of it. After the explanations we have unfortunately seen him give of his exterior acts of religion, might there not be room for doubt? Be that as it may, there is a public homage paid to that religion in which he declared he meant to die, notwithstanding his having perpetually conspired against it during his life. This declaration is also signed by that same friend and adept, the Marquis de Villevieille, to whom, eleven years ago, Voltaire was wont to write, "Conceal your march from the enemy, in your endeavours to crush the Wretch!"
Voltaire had permitted this declaration to be carried to the rector of St. Sulpice, and to the Archbishop of Paris, to know whether it would be sufficient. When the Abbé Gaultier returned with the answer, it was impossible for him to gain admittance to the patient. The conspirators had strained every nerve to hinder the chief from consummating his recantation, and every avenue was shut to the priest, whom Voltaire himself had sent for. The demons haunted every access; rage succeeded to fury, and fury to rage again, during the remainder of his life.
Then it was that D'Alembert, Diderot, and about twenty others of the conspirators, who had beset his apartment, never approached him, but to witness theirown ignominy. He would often curse them, and exclaim, " Retire! It is you that have brought me to my present state! Begone! I could have done without you all; but you could not exist without me! And what a wretched glory have you produced me?"
Then would succeed the horrid remembrance of his conspiracy. They could hear him, the prey of anguish and dread, alternately supplicating or blaspheming that God whom he had conspired against, and in plaintive accents would he cry out, "Oh Christ! Oh Jesus Christ!" and then complain that he was abandoned by God and man. The hand which had traced in ancient writ the sentence of an impious and reviling king, seemed to trace before his eyes, Crush them, do crush the Wretch. In vain he turned his head away; the time was coming apace when he was to appear before the tribunal of him whom he had blasphemed; and his physicians, particularly M. Tronchin, calling in to administer relief, thunderstruck, retire, declaring the death of the impious man to be terrible indeed.
The pride of the conspirators would willingly have suppressed these declarations, but it was in vain. The Mareschal of Richelieu flies from the bed-side, declaring it to be a sight too terrible to be sustained; and M. Tronchin, that the furies of Orestes could give but a faint idea of those of Voltaire.
ON THE DEATH OF DAVID HUME.
THE arts and falsehood of infidels in propagating their destructive principles are but little understood by christians in general, and indeed they are often so dark and detestable that a charitable mind is scarcely able to believe them real. It appears, by the statement of the Abbé Baruel, that Voltaire approached his end
with horror, and was endeavouring to return into the bosom of the church in which he had been educated, when his infidel friends, particularly D'Alembert and Diderot, kept from him the priest whom he wished to see. It is a well known fact, that Diderot himself, when he came to die, had the same compunctions, and was treated in a similar manner. It appears, in short, that the fraternity of deists are not willing to trust their system, to trust themselves, nor to trusteach other, to the impressions which may be produced by the near approach of death. Some have, as Voltaire intimates had been affirmed of him, protested beforehand, against all they should utter in a near view of death: and it seems to have been adopted, as a kind of system, by the infidels of Europe, to exclude christian witnesses from the death-bed scenes of their distinguished friends, that thus the truth might be concealed and representations be made favourable to their own cause. From the statement which Adam Smith has published of the death of David Hume, and from the manner in which it has been treated in Europe, both by the friends and enemies of infidelity, the writer of this article was induced to believe that statement to be correct. But on suggesting this idea to the late Dr. Charles Nisbet, whose veracity and whose accuracy of information and narration were singularly unimpeachable, the Dr. replied nearly in these words: "Let David Hume die as he might, the manner of his death was not personally known to Adam Smith. It is a pretty good specimen of infidel friendship, but yet I know it is true, that though Hume's house was in sight of Adam Smith's, he never saw him for several weeks before his death. Hume's infidel friends were careful to keep from him any witnesses but those of their own choice or character, and we do not know how he died, for they have reported what they pleased." This information the writer believes to be strictly correct, and the opinion of judicious friends has corroborated his own, that it is of sufficient importance to be given to the public-Not because it is believed, that either infidels or christians prove their sentiments to be true, by the manner in which they view them at death. At most, they prove no more, as bishop Watson has well remarked, than that they really believe what they can abide by at that honest hour." But it is plain, that infidels themselves do actually lay great stress on this circumstance, by their endeavours to suppress what is unfavourable to their cause, and by their zeal to publish and blazon
* The writer thinks that six weeks were mentioned, but he is not certain.
what they think will serve it. And it is equally manifest, that they find themselves encumbered with no easy task, and furnished with very scanty materials for their work, when they set about the vindication of their system by bringing it to the death-bed testimony of its friends and abettors. Hence their endeavours to make much of a little, to conceal the truth, and to furnish out tales of composure and serenity, which probably are greatly coloured, if not entirely fabricated. Do they wish to combat christians on their own ground? Let the following facts be attended to, and it will be seen, that, after all, they do not attempt a fair competition. Christians, when they come to die, are often afraid that they have not been sincere in the religion they have professed. But you cannot show one instance of a christian in these circumstances, whose fear arises from the apprehension that the system he has embraced, the gospel of Christ, is not true in itself. He is then, more than ever, satisfied that his religious system is true. He is only afraid that he has not lived up to it. On the contrary, the infidel often fears, because he then suspects that his system is not true, and that he is going to be punished because he has lived up to it. G.
THOUGHTS ON SLOTH.
SLOTH and self-indulgence are extremely natural to man. Whoever has informed himself respecting the character of our fellow creatures in their most savage, which is, unquestionably, their most natural state, will be prepared to admit the truth of this observation. The native Indian, as Dr. Robertson remarks, will lie on the ground for many days, and even weeks together; and will only shake off his sloth when excited by appetite, or raised by some violent gust of passion. The case of persons in civilized society is not altogether different. Their artificial wants, indeed, are multiplied, and in consequence of these a system of more permanent industry is produced; but when appetite, as well as ambition and vanity are satisfied, even civilized man, except so far as religion has new created him, relapses into his native sloth.
Let us proceed to point out the manner in which the spirit of idleness and self-indulgence shows itself in this country among the higher and middling ranks of life.
How many hours are needlessly spent by some on their beds; by others in the most idle and frivolous conversation; by others in reading, with a view to the mere gratification of the fancy; by others in unprofitable amusements, in amusements, we mean,
which tend to kill time rather than to afford that recreation which qualifies for future employment? What temptations also break in during these idle hours! what corrupt images play before the fancy! what a general habit of self-indulgence gains strength! Thus a breach is made through which other sins enter, and much of the important business of life is left undone. Sloth is one of those sins into which men fall by imperceptible degrees, and many are altogether given up to it, who are not at all aware that they are incurring any guilt. Among worldly persons, to indulge the humour of the present moment, to do whatsoever thing they like, and to do it simply because they like it, is the professed system. Their conscience is under no alarm on this account.
Sloth, moreover, is a sin into which religious people are more liable to fall than into almost any other. In Popish countries many have retired from the world under the plea of wishing to be uncontaminated by it, and have then passed their days in the indolence of a cloister, professing, indeed, an extraordinary piety, but becoming the drones of the community, and a reproach to religion itself. It is possible also, that a protestant may chuse that sort of domestic ease and self-indulgence, which is little better than the sloth of the monastery, and is nearly allied to it. In escaping one evil we often fall into another. We have, perhaps, been manfully resisting the world; we have become insensible both to its smile and to its frown; we now betake ourselves to our own little religious circle, among whom we are respected and indulged, and are little contradicted; or we retreat into an almost total solitude, thinking that we shall now commune only with God. Are we aware of the dangers to the soul which may arise from the indulgence of sloth in these new circumstances? The body pampered by what are deemed its lawful gratifications, the mind enervated by mental indolence, the little humours habitually indulged, many a precious hour wasted, and a life employed in discussing the controversial niceties of religion, rather than attending to its practical duties, are some of the consequences of even a religious system, when that system allows the indulgence of sloth. Infidels have often brought against the body of christians the charge which we are applying only to a few.
"The world," say they, "is the school of virtue, because it is the scene of activity and exertion; there the humours are contradicted; there sloth is prevented, and the energies are called forth; there the excess of selfishness is repressed; there both the boy and the man are formed for action and extensive services; but the same being in retirement becomes soft, luxurious, and self in