Página:Imbert de Saint-Amand Marie Antoinette.djvu/40

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34-_ THE DOWCNFALL OF ROYALTY.

modern history has presented‘ an intellectual and moral anarchy comparable to that which accompanied the revolutionary period in Europe.”

The eighteenth century was punished for incre- dulity by superstition. Having refused to believe the most holy truths, it lent credence to the most fantastic chimeras. For priests it substituted sor- cerers; for Christian ceremonies, the rites of free- masonry. The time was coming when, because it had rejected the Sacred Heart. of Jesus, it was going to bow before the sacred heart of Marat. The adepts of Mesmer and of De Puysegur, the seekers after the philosopher’s stone, the N icolaites of Berlin, the illuminati of Bavaria, enlarged the boundaries of human credulity, and the men who succumbed in the most naive and foolish manner to these wretched weaknesses of mind, were precisely the haughtiest philosophers, those who had prided themselves the most on their distinction as free-thinkers. Such a one was Gustavus III.

This Voltairean Prince, who had held the Chris- tian verities so cheap, was superstitious even to puerility. He did not believe in the Gospels, but he believed in books of magic. In a corner of his palace he had arranged a cupboard witl1 a censer and a pair of candlesticks, before which he performed cabalistic operations in nothing but his shirt. Throughout his entire reign he consulted a fortune- teller named Madame Arfwedsson, who read the fut- ure for him in coffee-grounds. Around his neck