all your good faith. What remorse I had for exciting your credulity! A thousand times upon the point of bursting forth publicly, I was going to open your eyes, but a fear superior to my strength restrained me and forced me to silence until my death."
The abbot Meslier had written two letters to the curates of his neighborhood to inform them of his Testament; he told them that he had consigned to the chancery of St. Minnehould a copy of his manuscript in 366 leaves in octavo; but he feared it would be suppressed, according to the bad custom established to prevent the poor from being instructed and knowing the truth.
The curate Meslier, the most singular phenomenon ever seen among all the meteors fatal to the Christian religion, worked his whole life secretly in order to attack the opinions he believed false. To compose his manuscript against God, against all religion, against the Bible and the Church, he had no other assistance than the Bible itself, Moreri Montaigne, and a few fathers.
While the abbot Meslier naively acknowledged that he did not wish to be burned till after his death, Thomas Woolston, a doctor of Cambridge, published and sold publicly at London, in his own house, sixty thousand copies of his "Discourses" against the miracles of Jesus Christ.
It was a very astonishing thing that two priests should at the same time write against the Christian religion. The curate Meslier has gone further yet than Woolston; he dares to treat the transport of our Saviour by the devil upon the mountain, the wedding of Cana, the bread and the fishes, as absurd fables, injurious to divinity, which were ignored during three hundred years by the whole Roman Empire, and finally passed from the lower class to the palace of the emperors, when policy obliged them to adopt the follies of the people in order the more easily to subjugate them. The denunciations of the English priest do not approach those of the Champagne priest. Woolston is sometimes indulgent, Meslier never. He was a man profoundly embittered by the crimes he witnessed, for which he holds the Christian religion responsible. There is no miracle which to him is not an object of contempt and horror; no prophecy that he does not compare to those of Nostredamus. He wrote thus against Jesus Christ when in the arms of death, at a time when the most dissimulating dare not lie, and when the most intrepid tremble. Struck with the difficulties which he found in Scripture, he inveighed against it more bitterly than the Acosta and all the Jews, more than the famous Porphyre, Celse, Iamblique, Julian, Libanius, and all the partisans of human reason.
There were found among the books of the curate Meslier a printed manuscript of the Treatise of Fenelon, Archbishop of Cambray, upon the existence of God and His attributes, and the reflections of the Jesuit Tournemine upon Atheism, to which treatise he added marginal notes signed by his hand.
of the NATIONAL CONVENTION upon the proposition to erect a statue to the curate Jean Meslier, the 27 Brumaire, in the year II. (November 17, 1793). The National Convention sends to the Committee of Public Instruction the proposition made by one of its members to erect a statue to Jean Meslier, curate at Etrepigny, in Champagne, the first priest who had the courage and the honesty to abjure religious errors.
PRESIDENT AND SECRETARIES.
SIGNED—P. A. Laloy, President; Bazire, Charles Duval, Philippeaux, Frecine, and Merlin (de Thionville), Secretaries.
Certified according to the original.
MEMBERS OF THE COMMITTEE OF DECREES AND PROCESS-VERBAL.
SIGNED—Batellier, Echasseriaux, Monnel, Becker, Vernetey, Pérard, Vinet, Bouillerot, Auger, Cordier, Delecloy, and Cosnard.