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Chapter 9


No sooner had Amazan landed on the flat muddy shore of Batavia, than he immediately set out toward the city of the Seven Mountains. He was obliged to traverse the southern part of Germany. At every four miles he met with a prince and princess, maids of honor, and beggars. He was greatly astonished every where at the coquetries of these ladies and maids of honor, in which they indulged with German good faith. After having cleared the Alps he embarked upon the sea of Dalmatia, and landed in a city that had no resemblance to any thing he had heretofore seen. The sea formed the streets, and the houses were erected in the water. The few public places, with which this city was ornamented, were filled with men and women with double faces—that which nature had bestowed on them, and a pasteboard one, ill painted, with which they covered their natural visage; so that this people seemed composed of spectres. Upon the arrival of strangers in this country, they immediately purchase these visages, in the same manner as people elsewhere furnish themselves with hats and shoes. Amazan despised a fashion so contrary to nature. He appeared just as he was.

Many ladies were introduced, and interested themselves in the handsome Amazan. But he fled with the utmost precipitancy, uttering the name of the incomparable princess of Babylon, and swearing by the immortal gods, that she was far handsomer than the Venetian girls.

"Sublime traitoress," he cried, in his transports, "I will teach you to be faithful!"

Now the yellow surges of the Tiber, pestiferous fens, a few pale emaciated inhabitants clothed in tatters which displayed their dry tanned hides, appeared to his sight, and bespoke his arrival at the gate of the city of the Seven Mountains,—that city of heroes and legislators who conquered and polished a great part of the globe.

He expected to have seen at the triumphal gate, five hundred battalions commanded by heroes, and in the senate an assembly of demi-gods giving laws to the earth. But the only army he found consisted of about thirty tatterdemalions, mounting guard with umbrellas for fear of the sun. Having arrived at a temple which appeared to him very fine, but not so magnificent as that of Babylon, he was greatly astonished to hear a concert performed by men with female voices.

"This," said he, "is a mighty pleasant country, which was formerly the land of Saturn. I have been in a city where no one showed his own face; here is another where men have neither their own voices nor beards."

He was told that these eunuchs had been trained from childhood, that they might sing the more agreeably the praises of a great number of persons of merit. Amazan could not comprehend the meaning of this.

They then explained to him very pleasantly, and with many gesticulations, according to the custom of their country, the point in question. Amazan was quite confounded.

"I have traveled a great way," said he, "but I never before heard such a whim."

After they had sung a good while, the Old Man of the Seven Mountains went with great ceremony to the gate of the temple. He cut the air in four parts with his thumb raised, two fingers extended and two bent, in uttering these words in a language no longer spoken: "To the city and to the universe." Amazan could not see how two fingers could extend so far.

He presently saw the whole court of the master of the world file off. This court consisted of grave personages, some in scarlet, and others in violet robes. They almost all eyed the handsome Amazan with a tender look; and bowed to him, while commenting upon his personal appearance.

The zealots whose vocation was to show the curiosities of the city to strangers, very eagerly offered to conduct him to several ruins, in which a muleteer would not choose to pass a night, but which were formerly worthy monuments of the grandeur of a royal people. He moreover saw pictures of two hundred years standing, and statues that had remained twenty ages, which appeared to him masterpieces of their kind.

"Can you still produce such work?" said Amazan.

"No, your excellency," replied one of the zealots; "but we despise the rest of the earth, because we preserve these rarities. We are a kind of old clothes men, who derive our glory from the cast-off garbs in our warehouses."

Amazan was willing to see the prince's palace, and he was accordingly conducted thither. He saw men dressed in violet colored robes, who were reckoning the money of the revenues of the domains of lands, some situated upon the Danube, some upon the Loire, others upon the Guadalquivir, or the Vistula.

"Oh! Oh!" said Amazan, having consulted his geographical map, "your master, then, possesses all Europe, like those ancient heroes of the Seven Mountains?"

"He should possess the whole universe by divine right," replied a violet-livery man; "and there was even a time when his predecessors nearly compassed universal monarchy, but their successors are so good as to content themselves at present with some monies which the kings, their subjects, pay to them in the form of a tribute."

"Your master is then, in fact, the king of kings. Is that his title?" said Amazan.

The Old Man of the Seven Mountains.—"The Old Man of the Seven Mountains went with great ceremony to the gate of the temple. He cut the air in four parts with his thumb raised, two fingers extended and two bent, in uttering these words in a language no longer spoken: 'To the city and to the universe.'"

"Your excellency, his title is the servant of servants! He was originally a fisherman and porter, wherefore the emblems of his dignity consist of keys and nets; but he at present issues orders to every king in Christendom. It is not a long while since he sent one hundred and one mandates to a king of the Celts, and the king obeyed."


The personal service of Pius IX. as it existed in 1873, without counting Swiss gensdarmes, palatine guards, &c., is thus described by the author of The Religion of Rome, page 21.

"The pope for his own exclusive personal service has four palatine cardinals, three prelates and a master, ten prelates of the private chamber, amongst whom are a cup-bearer, and a keeper of the wardrobe; then two hundred and fifteen domestic prelates. Then follow two hundred and forty-nine supernumerary prelates of the private chamber, four private chamberlains of the sword and cloak, Roman patricians, one of whom is a master of Santo Ospizto.

"What things are these? what service do these private chamberlains render? what is the use of this cloak and sword? We will undertake to say that they do not know themselves. Let us proceed. Then come next a quarter-master major, a correspondent general of the post, and one hundred and thirty fresh private chamberlains of the sword and cloak! Oh! it is a labor to count them! Next come two hundred and sixty-five honorary monsignori extra urbem, six honorary chamberlains of the sword and cloak, then eight private chaplains. What a number of private affairs must the pope have? Then eighty-one honorary chaplains extra urbem; then—but enough, enough, enough!

"No! not enough for the pope. Then come two private monsignori of the tonsure—still private!—then eighteen supernumeraries: two adjutants of the chamber, a private steward—again private!—then nineteen ushers, participants, and twenty-four supernumeraries. Then—ah! there are no more. Let us cast up those we have named; they amount only to a bagatelle of one thousand and twenty-five persons! And take note, that there are not included in this list the palatine administration, and the tribunal of the majordomo, the Swiss guards, the gensdarmes, etc., etc.

"If it be difficult for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven, how shall he who inhabits the Vatican enter there?—who has treasures of all sorts, money, precious gems, precious and countless works of art, vessels of silver and gold, and who has on his head not one crown but three? who causes himself to be borne on the shoulders of men; who causes them to kiss his feet; who has millions of income, and a thousand persons to attend upon him?

"There is, in fact, nothing to be compared with the effrontery with which the Vatican enacts the comedy of poverty. Yes, it has reason to believe still in miracles; it is an actual miracle which the Roman court works, in drawing from the pockets of the poor the obolus necessary to buy them bread, to spend it before their faces in Sybaritic luxury, in a palace of The Thousand and One Nights. On the day of Epiphany, the Jesuits sent to the Vatican some hundreds of women and children of the Trastevere, to carry to the pope a gift of money. The children to succor the poverty of the pope, who consumes on himself and household enough to maintain a whole city, gave him the money which they had received in gifts from their parents, and the women of the Trastevere, the few pence that they had laid aside for the needs of their families.

"But what is most extraordinary is, that these women and children who bestowed their charity on the pope, went to do it into halls full of gold, marble, precious stones, velvet, silk, embroidery, paintings, and statues, into the Vatican, that gigantic palace, which occupies a space of fifteen hundred feet in length, and eight hundred in breadth, with twenty courts, two hundred staircases, eleven thousand rooms, galleries and halls full of treasures, and the construction of which has cost hundreds of millions. These children and these women passing through so much wealth never were struck with the idea that Pius IX. ought to be something more than a beggar; that there is no monarch in the world who has an abode like the popes of Rome—the very sight of the gifts sent by all the world to Pius IX. being enough to strike them dumb with astonishment.

"Now these women and these children don't comprehend this, and here is the miracle. This Pius IX. ought to go into the cottages of these poor women and take them money, instead of their going to carry it into the luxurious palace of the pope.

"The miracle becomes still greater every time that the Pope, replying to those who bring money, talks of Jesus; for Jesus was in a stable, not in a palace of eleven thousand rooms. Jesus would at once have sent away the Swiss, the gensdarmes, the palatine guards, the chamberlains private and not private, etc., and would have said to the people of the Trastevere, and of the quarters of the poor: 'Come here into the Vatican, poor people, leave those wretched cabins where you suffer so much; come to me; I have eleven thousand rooms to offer you, one of which is quite enough for me, and so I will divide these amongst those who have none.' This would have been said by Christ, whom Pius IX. invokes so often, calling himself His vicar or steward. But try, ye poor, to enter into the Vatican, and you will find at once at the door a Swiss, who will chase you away by blows of his halberd. He will let in anyone who comes to bring money, but not a soul who comes to ask for it."—E.

"Your fisherman must then have sent five or six hundred thousand men to put these orders in execution?"

"Not at all, your excellency. Our holy master is not rich enough to keep ten thousand soldiers on foot: but he has five or six hundred thousand divine prophets dispersed in other countries. These prophets of various colors are, as they ought to be, supported at the expense of the people where they reside. They proclaim, from heaven, that my master may, with his keys, open and shut all locks, and particularly those of strong boxes. A Norman priest, who held the post of confident of this king's thoughts, convinced him he ought to obey, without questioning, the one hundred and one thoughts of my master; for you must know that one of the prerogatives of the Old Man of the Seven Mountains is never to err, whether he deigns to speak or deigns to write."

"In faith," said Amazan, "this is a very singular man; I should be pleased to dine with him."

"Were your excellency even a king, you could not eat at his table. All that he could do for you, would be to allow you to have one served by the side of his, but smaller and lower. But if you are inclined to have the honor of speaking to him, I will ask an audience for you on condition of the buona mancia, which you will be kind enough to give me." "Very readily," said the Gangarid. The violet-livery man bowed: "I will introduce you to-morrow," said he. "You must make three very low bows, and you must kiss the feet of the Old Man of the Seven Mountains." At this information Amazan burst into so violent a fit of laughing that he was almost choked; which, however, he surmounted, holding his sides, whilst the violent emotions of the risible muscles forced the tears down his cheeks, till he reached the inn, where the fit still continued upon him.

At dinner, twenty beardless men and twenty violins produced a concert. He received the compliments of the greatest lords of the city during the remainder of the day; but from their extravagant actions, he was strongly tempted to throw two or three of these violet-colored gentry out of the window. He left with the greatest precipitation this city of the masters of the world, where young men were treated so whimsically, and where he found himself necessitated to kiss an old man's toe, as if his cheek were at the end of his foot.

Francois-Marie Arouet Voltaire

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