Nonfiction > Lionel Strachey, et al., eds. > The World’s Wit and Humor > French
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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes.  1906.
Vols. X–XI: French
 
The Presbyterians
By Voltaire (1694–1778)
 

AS the priests of this sect receive but very inconsiderable stipends from their churches, and consequently cannot emulate the splendid luxury of bishops, they exclaim very naturally against honors which they can never attain to. Imagine the haughty Diogenes trampling underfoot the pride of Plato. The Scotch Presbyterians are not very unlike that proud though tattered reasoner. Diogenes did not use Alexander half so impertinently as these treated King Charles II. For when they took up arms in his cause in opposition to Cromwell, who had deceived them, they forced that poor monarch to undergo the hearing of three or four sermons every day, would not allow him to play cards, and reduced him to a state of penitence and mortification, so that Charles soon grew sick of these pedants, and accordingly escaped from them with as much gladness as a boy does from school.
  1
  A Church of England minister appears as another Cato in presence of a juvenile, sprightly French graduate, who bawls for a whole morning together in the divinity schools, and hums a song in chorus with ladies in the evening; but this Cato is a very spark beside a Scotch Presbyterian. The latter affects a serious gait, puts on a sour look, wears a huge broad-brimmed hat and a long cloak over a very short coat, preaches through the nose, and gives the name of the Whore of Babylon to all churches where the ministers are so fortunate as to enjoy an annual revenue of five or six thousand pounds, and where the people are weak enough to allow this, and to give them the titles of my lord, your lordship, or your eminence.  2
  These gentlemen, who have also some churches in England, introduced there the mode of grave and severe exhortations. To them is owing the sanctification of Sunday in the three kingdoms. People are there forbidden to work or take any recreation on that day, in which the severity is twice as great as that of the Romish Church. No operas, plays, or concerts are allowed in London on Sundays, and even cards are so expressly forbidden that none but persons of quality, and those we call the genteel, play on that day. The rest of the nation go either to church, to the tavern, or to see their mistresses.  3
 
 
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