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Chapter 2


You know the skillful conduct of the Earl of Peterborough after he took Barcelona, how successfully he prevented pillage, restored order, and rescued the Duchess of Popoli from the hands of some drunken Germans, who robbed and abused her. Conceive the surprise, grief, rage, and tears, of our friend Freind, on learning that John was confined in the dungeons of the holy inquisition, and condemned to the stake. You know that cold temperaments are frequently most energetic when great events call them into action. You should have seen this distracted father, whom you were accustomed to think imperturbable, fly to the dungeon of his son more rapidly than the horses at Newmarket hasten to the goal. The fifty soldiers who went with him were soon out of breath, and always a hundred paces behind. At length he reached the cell and entered it. What a scene! what tears! what joy! Twenty victims, devoted to the same ceremony, are delivered. All the prisoners take arms and fight with our soldiers. The buildings of the holy office are destroyed in ten minutes, and they breakfasted beside the ruins, on the wine and ham of the inquisitors.

Condemned by the Inquisition.—He was confined to a very damp cellar, and sentenced to be burnt the following Sunday, in full ceremony, clothed in a San-bénito, wearing a sugar-loaf cap, in honor of our Savior and the Virgin Mary, his mother.

In the midst of the roar of cannon, the sound of trumpets and drums, announcing our victory to Catalonia, our friend Freind recovered his accustomed tranquillity of manner. He was as calm as the sky after a day of storm. He was raising to God a heart as serene as his countenance, when he perceived a black spectral figure, clad in a surplice, issue from a vault, and fall at his feet, crying for mercy.

"Who are you?" said our friend. "Do you come from Hades?"

"Almost," rejoined the other. "I am Don Jeronimo Bueno Caracucarador, inquisitor. I solicit most humbly your forgiveness for wishing to roast your son in public. I took him for a Jew."

"Supposing that to be the case," said our friend with his customary sang froid, "does it become you, Señor Caracucarador, to roast people alive because they are descended from a sect that formerly inhabited a rocky canton near the Syrian desert? What does it matter to you whether a man is circumcised or not? that he observe Easter at the full of the moon, or on the following Sunday? It is very bad reasoning to say, 'That man is a Jew; therefore I must have him burnt, and take his property.' The Royal Society of London do not reason in that way.

"Do you know, Señor Caracucarador, that Jesus Christ was a Jew—that he was born, lived, and died a Jew? that he observed the passover like a Jew, at the full of the moon? that all his apostles were Jews? that they went to the temple after his death, as we are expressly told? that the first fifteen secret bishops of Jerusalem were Jews? But my son is no Jew; he belongs to the established church. How came it into your head to burn him alive?"

The inquisitor, overawed by the learning of Monsieur Freind, and still prostrate at his feet, replied:

"Alas! sir, we know nothing about this at the University of Salamanca. Forgive me, once more. The true reason is, your son took from me my favorite, Donna Boca Vermeja."

"Ah! if he took your favorite, that's another thing. We should never take 'our neighbor's goods.' That is not, however, a sufficient reason for burning a young man to death. As Leibnitz says, 'The punishment should be in proportion to the crime.' You Christians on the other side of the British Channel, especially toward the South, make no more of roasting each other, be it the Counsellor Dubourg, M. Servetus, or those who were burned in the reign of Philippe II., surnamed El Discreto, than we do of roasting a joint of beef in London. But bring Miss Boca Vermeja before me, that I may learn the truth from her own mouth."

Boca Vermeja appeared weeping, looking the handsomer for her tears, as women generally do.

"Is it true, Miss, that you are devotedly attached to M. Caracucarador, and that my son has abducted you?"

"Abducted me? The English gentleman! I never met with any one so amiable and good-looking as your son. You are very fortunate in being his father. I could follow him to the world's end. I always hated that ugly inquisitor, who whipped me and Mademoiselle Las Nalgas till he nearly brought blood. If you wish to make me happy, you will cause the old fellow to be hanged at my bedroom window."

Just as Boca Vermeja was thus speaking, the Earl of Peterborough sent for the inquisitor Caracucarador, to have him hanged. You will not be surprised to hear that Mr. Freind firmly opposed this measure.

"Let your just displeasure," said he, "give way to generous feelings. A man should never be put to death but when it is absolutely necessary for the safety of others. The Spaniards say the English are barbarians, who kill all the priests that come in their way. This might have injured the cause of the arch-duke, for whom you have taken Barcelona. I have sufficient satisfaction in rescuing my son, and putting it out of the power of this rascally monk to exercise his inquisitorial functions."

In a word, the wise and charitable Freind was contented with getting Caracucarador flogged, as he had whipped Miss Boca Vermeja and Miss Las Nalgas.

Such clemency affected the Catalonians. The persons rescued from the inquisition felt that our religion was better than theirs. Nearly all requested to be admitted members of the established church; even some bachelors of the University of Salamanca, who chanced to be at Barcelona, requested instruction. The greater part soon became enlightened, with the exception of a certain Don Inigo-y-Medroso, y-Comodios, y-Papalamiendos, who obstinately adhered to his opinions.

Francois-Marie Arouet Voltaire

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