Philosophical Dictionary, by Voltaire

RAVAILLAC.

I knew in my infancy a canon of Péronne of the age of ninety-two years, who had been educated by one of the most furious burghers of the League — he always used to say, the late M. de Ravaillac. This canon had preserved many curious manuscripts of the apostolic times, although they did little honor to his party. The following is one of them, which he bequeathed to my uncle:

Dialogue of a Page of the Duke of Sully, and of Master Filesac, Doctor of the Sorbonne, one of the two Confessors of Ravaillac.

Master Filesac.

— God be thanked, my dear page, Ravaillac has died like a saint. I heard his confession; he repented of his sin, and determined no more to fall into it. He wished to receive the holy sacrament, but it is not the custom here as at Rome; his penitence will serve in lieu of it, and it is certain that he is in paradise.

Page.

— He in paradise, in the Garden of Eden, the monster!

Master Filesac.

— Yes, my fine lad, in that garden, or heaven, it is the same thing.

Page.

— I believe so; but he has taken a bad road to arrive there.

Master Filesac.

— You talk like a young Huguenot. Learn that what I say to you partakes of faith. He possessed attrition, and attrition, joined to the sacrament of confession, infallibly works out the salvation which conducts straightway to paradise, where he is now praying to God for you.

Page.

— I have no wish that he should address God on my account. Let him go to the devil with his prayers and his attrition.

Master Filesac.

— At the bottom, he was a good soul; his zeal led him to commit evil, but it was not with a bad intention. In all his interrogatories, he replied that he assassinated the king only because he was about to make war on the pope, and that he did so to serve God. His sentiments were very Christian-like. He is saved, I tell you; he was bound, and I have unbound him.

Page.

— In good faith, the more I listen to you the more I regard you as a man bound yourself. You excite horror in me.

Master Filesac.

— It is because that you are not yet in the right way; but you will be one day. I have always said that you were not far from the kingdom of heaven; but your time is not yet come.

Page.

— And the time will never come in which I shall be made to believe that you have sent Ravaillac to the kingdom of heaven.

Master Filesac.

— As soon as you shall be converted, which I hope will be the case, you will believe as I do; but in the meantime, be assured that you and the duke of Sully, your master, will be damned to all eternity with Judas Iscariot and the wicked rich man Dives, while Ravaillac will repose in the bosom of Abraham.

Page.

— How, scoundrel!

Master Filesac.

— No abuse, my little son. It is forbidden to call our brother “raca,” under the penalty of the gehenna or hell fire. Permit me to instruct without enraging you.

Page.

— Go on; thou appearest to me so “raca,” that I will be angry no more.

Master Filesac.

— I therefore say to you, that agreeably to faith you will be damned, as unhappily our dear Henry IV. is already, as the Sorbonne always foresaw.

Page.

— My dear master damned! Listen to the wicked wretch! A cane! a cane!

Master Filesac.

— Be patient, good young man; you promised to listen to me quietly. Is it not true that the great Henry died without confession? Is it not true that he died in the commission of mortal sin, being still amorous of the princess of Condé, and that he had not time to receive the sacrament of repentance, God having allowed him to be stabbed in the left ventricle of the heart, in consequence of which he was instantly suffocated with his own blood? You will absolutely find no good Catholic who will not say the same as I do.

Page.

— Hold thy tongue, master madman; if I thought that thy doctors taught a doctrine so abominable, I would burn them in their lodgings.

Master Filesac.

— Once again, be calm; you have promised to be so. His lordship the marquis of Cochini, who is a good Catholic, will know how to prevent you from being guilty of the sacrilege of injuring my colleagues.

Page.

— But conscientiously, Master Filesac, does thy party really think in this manner?

Master Filesac.

— Be assured of it; it is our catechism.

Page.

— Listen; for I must confess to thee, that one of thy Sorbonnists almost seduced me last year. He induced me to hope for a pension or a benefice. Since the king, he observed, has heard mass in Latin, you who are only a petty gentleman may also attend it without derogation. God takes care of His elect, giving them mitres, crosses, and prodigious sums of money, while you of the reformed doctrine go on foot, and can do nothing but write. I own I was staggered; but after what thou hast just said to me, I would rather a thousand times be a Mahometan than of thy creed.

The page was wrong. We are not to become Mahometans because we are incensed; but we must pardon a feeling young man who loved Henry IV. Master Filesac spoke according to his theology; the page attended to his heart.

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