« 上一頁繼續 »
David, in order to cut off the Ikirt of the robe, set his foot between those of Abner, who was asleep by the fide of Saul; that Abner having turned himself at this moment, so confined David, that he could not extricate himself, without awaking either the one or the other; that, in this perplexity, God dispatched a fly, which stung Abner in the leg, and thus, not only extricated him, but gave him an opportunityof carrying off the king's halberd, and his cruise of Water.
In imitation of the Jews and Pagans, it would seem, that some Christians have also attempted to introduce infects in aid of their religion. J. Baldus, in order to Drove the real presence in the Eucharist, relates, that a number of bees having found the hr.st on the ground, paid it homage, and carried It, very refptctfully to their hive. Friar Baptiste, of Pisa, in hii> book confermifatum vita P. Francisci ad vitam I. C. tells as, that a spicier hav ing accidentally fallen into the chalice, while St Francis was saying mass, that holy man chose rather to swallow the spider, than, by throwing it away, to lose one drop of the precious beverage j and he adds, O prodigy I that the spider afterwards came out of the bone of his leg, without doing him any harm. We likewise read, in Nieremberg, that, St Francis.walking one day in a garden, saw a grasshopper, which immediately quitted the plant it fat on, and perched upon his hand; that he ordered it to sing the praises of God, and, that with a pretty loud veice, it immediately began a very fine psalm!
Revenge is so sweet that however opposite it may be to the laws of God and man, it is nevertheless very grateful to persons who have not yet learnt to forgive their enemies. They continually lie in wait to ■ disturb the repose of the person they hate, and ir is of little importance to them in what way they attack him, provided they accomplish their purpose. This terrible passion finds in nature but too many means of gratification; even insects have often been employed to minister to its fury. There was a time when in Italy this horrid practice was so successfully carried on by means of the poison of a species of hairy caterpillar that it was found necessary to restrain it by the severest laws. The great have not been less inclined to indulge this passion than the common people; and power, and the consciousness of impunity have made them carry resentment to the utmost. In 1126, Henry the young, surnamed the posthumous, Margrave of Metz, &c. had no sooner vanquished the Margrave Conrad the great, than he resolved to tyrannize over a prince whom the success of one battle had put in his power. He committed him prisoner to the castle of Kirchberg, shut him up in an iron cage, and exposed him night and day to the stings of flies and gnats. Sigefroi, Arch
1 • /i
bishop of Cologne acted in the same cruel way to Adolphus Count of Berg. That prelate was so enslaved by passion, th*t he forgot his duty to himself and' his enemy; he seized his person, contrary to the faith of a solemn promise, and devoted him to be the food of insects ; he ordered him to be rubbed over with honey, to be inclosed in a cage, and drawn aster him as a part of his retinue, wherever he went. I remember to have somewhere read that a cerain Pagan Emperor, wishing to resine on the punishments inflicted on the Christians, invented one of singular cruelty. He buried the unhappy victim up to the neck in the earth, and leaving the head bare and rubbing the face with honey, abandoned him to the tormenting bites and stings of innumerable insects.
The severity of judges, or barbarity of jailors to their prisoners is a circumstance which I consider as an abuse of their power and consequently as a crime against the law. I speak of those criminals who are allowed to rot in their silth, and who for want of a little straw, are half eaten with vermin before their last hour arrives. 1 may be told that malefactors worthy of death, are not to be exempted from the hardships of a prison; but where do you sind that they ought to be subjected to two punishments at pnce ? The sentence of a criminal is undoubtedly anticipated when the short interval between it and his death is rendered more cruel, and often less supportable than the punishment itself. The conscience of judges should be intere!ted in watching over the c«n: duct of their officers, and in attending to the condition of the unhappy persons whose. lives are in their hands.
We are enjoined by the laws to do no injury to any person, whether by hurting his person or his property. The injunction is general, and allows no exception Ception, nor will admit any excuse, so that lawfully We cannot harbour wasps to the prejudice of our; neighbour's bees. This case appeared so important lo legislators, that they have wisely imposed on it the severest penalties.
Suicide is another crime, condemned equally by divine and human laws. To give up a reasonable felf love, to renounce our desire of lise, and to make ourselves the hangman of our own bodies, is in my. opinion the most enormous abuse that can be made of reason and free agency. This is the case of those who have been held up to our admiration for chusing rather to abridge their days by the empoisoned juice of some vile insect or reptile, than to support a trifling distress or a transient pain.
However unlimited the power of a sovereign may be, he degrades his throne, and sullies his sceptre if he disputes the awards of justice, or hesitates between cruelty and mercy. When by means of poison he gets rid of an innocent or pardonable subject, he descends from the height of glory to the lowest degree of abiseruenr. Ic is. in vain for him to sweeten the poisoned draught, that is less an act of clemency than a mark of persidy, and a resinement of cruelty. In this he imitates the senate of Athens, who being resolved to punish Socrates, accused of Atheism, because he believed in one God only, prepared for him a drink agreeable to the taste, but fatal to life.
C H A P IX.
Of The Abuses Made Of Insects In Medecine.
The great end of medecine is to preserve or to restore the health of mankind: to swerve from these principles is an error; to act contrary to them is a crime. The vulgar generally fall into both these faults, having a strong tradition as to the foundation of their belies. Towards St John's day, there is found at the root of several plants, a kind of berry of a purple colour, which is nothing but the web of some beetles. Foolisn people imagine it is the fruit of St John, which grows only on that particular day, and which being hung from the roof or bruised on the cloaths, is a preservative from disease, during the rest of the year. .:
Ignorant quacks, and unexperienced physicians generally fail in cases where others succeed. The reason is plain, because they are unaquaimed with the common rules; or if they know them, they know only the entrance, but not the issue. Hence it happens that not having the capacity to prepare medecines, to regulate the doses, or to give them in a convenient vehicle, they lose their patients by those very medccines which would have cured them, if administred by other hands. There are cases in which insects operate with much success; but the cure is never more uncertain, than when we expect it from those