Voltaire - DogmasOn the 18th of February in the year 1763, the sun entering into the sign of the Fish, Iwas transported to Heaven, as all my friends know. It wasnt at all Mohammeds mareBorac that was my mount; nor was Elijahs flaming chariot my vehicle; I was carriedneither by the elephant of Sammonocodom the Siamese, nor by the steed of St. George,patron of England, nor by St. Anthonys pig: I frankly confess I havent the slightest ideahow my voyage came about.Youll find it easy to believe that I was blinded with astonishment; but what you wontbelieve is that I witnessed the judgment of all the dead. And who were the judges? Theywere, as you might have guessed, all those who had done well to mankind - Confucius,Solon, Socrates, Titus, the Antonines, Epictetus - all the great men who, having taughtand practiced the virtues that God demands, seemed the only ones eligible to executehis decrees.I wont bother saying what thrones they were seated upon, nor how many millions ofcelestial beings were prostrate before the Creator of all the worlds, nor what a crowdof inhabitants of these innumerable globes had been summoned before the judges. I willrestrict myself here to giving an account of a few quite interesting little details by which Iwas particularly struck.I noticed that each dead person who pleaded his case, and who paraded out his finesentiments, had standing beside him all the witnesses of his deeds. For example, whenthe Cardinal of Lorraine bragged of having managed to get several of his opinionsaccepted by the Council of Trent, and, as the prize for his orthodoxy, demanded eternallife, there appeared around him in a trice twenty courtesans or ladies of the court, eachbearing on her forehead the number of her rendez-vous with the cardinal. Also to beseen were those who had helped him lay the foundations of the League - all theaccomplices in his perverse schemes came swarming around him.Opposite the cardinal was Calvin, who boasted, in his crude dialect, of having given afew kicks to the papal idol, after others had pulled it down. "I wrote against painting andsculpture," he said, "I made it perfectly clear that good works are good for nothing, and Iproved that it is diabolical to dance the minuet. Run the Cardinal of Lorraine out of here,and set me by the side of St. Paul."As he spoke, one saw next to him a pile of burning logs. A horrible ghost, wearing ahalf-burned Spanish collar, came out from amidst the flames, with dismaying cry:"Monster," he shouted, "execrable monster, tremble! Recognize that Servetius whomyou condemned to die by the most cruel of methods because he had disputed with youthe manner in which three persons could share a single substance." At this, the judges
ordained that the Cardinal of Lorraine be thrown into the abyss, but that Calvin bepunished yet more severely.I saw a prodigious crowd of dead who said, "I believed, I believed!"; but on theirforeheads was written: "I did"; and they were condemned.The Jesuit Le Tellier appeared proudly, the bull Unigenitus in his hand. But at his sidethere arose of a sudden a heap of lettres de cachet. A Jansenist set them on fire: LeTellier was burned to the bones; and the Jansenist, who had conspired no less than theJesuit, was thrown into the flames in turn.I saw streaming in from right and left troups of fakirs, of talapoins, of bonzes, of monksin white, in black, in gray, who had all imagined that, to pay court to the Supreme Being,it was necessary to chant, to flog oneself, to walk around in full nude. I heard anawesome voice ask them, "What good have you done to your fellow man?" Upon thisfollowed a dismal silence; none dared answer, and they were all led away to the mad-house of the universe - the hugest buildings you could ever imagine.One cried out, "It is in the metamorphoses of Xaca that one must believe!" Another: "Inthose of Sammonocodum!" "Bacchus stopped the sun and the moon!" said this one."The gods revived Pelops!" said that. "Heres the bull in Cœna Domini!" declared anewcomer. And the judges baliff cried, "To the madhouse, to the madhouse!"When all these proceedings were done, I heard promulgated the following decree: "ONBEHALF OF THE ETERNAL CREATOR, CONSERVATOR, REWARDER, PUNISHER,PARDONER, etc., be it known to all the inhabitants of the hundred thousand millions ofbillions of worlds it has pleased us to fashion, that we never judge said inhabitantsaccording to their empty ideas, but solely according to their actions; for such is ourjustice."I confess that this was the first time I had ever heard such a declaration: all those I haveread on the little grain of sand where I was born ended with these words: "For such isour pleasure."