Front Page Titles (by Subject) THE PRESBYTERIANS. - The Works of Voltaire, Vol. XIX (Philosophical Letters)
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THE PRESBYTERIANS. - Voltaire, The Works of Voltaire, Vol. XIX (Philosophical Letters) 
The Works of Voltaire. A Contemporary Version. A Critique and Biography by John Morley, notes by Tobias Smollett, trans. William F. Fleming (New York: E.R. DuMont, 1901). In 21 vols. Vol. XIX.
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The Church of England is confined wholly to England and Ireland, Presbyterianism being the established religion in Scotland. This Presbyterianism is exactly the same as Calvinism, as it was established in France, and is now professed at Geneva. As the priests of this sect receive but very inconsiderable stipends from their churches, and consequently cannot live in the same luxurious manner with bishops, they very naturally exclaim against honors to which they cannot attain. Figure to yourself the haughty Diogenes trampling under foot the pride of Plato. The Scotch Presbyterians are not very unlike that proud and beggarly reasoner. Diogenes did not treat Alexander with half the insolence with which these treated King Charles II., for when they took up arms in his cause against Cromwell, who had deceived them, they compelled that poor prince to undergo the hearing of three or four sermons every day; would not suffer him to play; reduced him to a state of penance and mortification; insomuch, that Charles very soon grew weary of these pedants, and made his escape from them with as much joy as a youth does from school.
In presence of the young, the gay, the sprightly French graduate, who bawls for a whole morning together in the divinity school, and makes one at a concert in the evening with the ladies, a Church of England clergyman is a Cato. But this Cato is a very Jemmy, when compared with a Scotch Presbyterian. The latter affects a solemn gait, a sour countenance, wears a broad–brimmed hat and a long cloak over a short coat, preaches through the nose, and calls by the name of “Whore of Babylon” all churches where the ministers are so fortunate as to enjoy a good five or six thousand a year, and where the people are weak enough to suffer this, and give them the titles of “my lord,” “your grace,” or “your eminence.” These gentlemen, who have also some churches in England, have brought an outside of gravity and austerity in some measure into fashion. To them is owing the sanctification of Sunday in the three kingdoms. People are forbidden to work or take any recreation on that day, which is being twice as severe as 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 genteel, play on that day; the rest of the nation go either to church, to the tavern, or to a kept mistress’.
Though the Episcopal and Presbyterian sects are the two prevailing ones in Great Britain, yet all others are very welcome to come and settle in it, and they live very sociably together, though most of their preachers hate one another almost as cordially as a Jansenist damns a Jesuit.
Take a view of the Royal Exchange in London, a place more venerable than many courts of justice, where the representatives of all nations meet for the benefit of mankind. There the Jew, the Mahometan, and the Christian transact business together, as though they were all of the same religion, and give the name of Infidels to none but bankrupts; there the Presbyterian confides in the Anabaptist, and the Churchman depends upon the Quaker’s word. At the breaking up of this pacific and free assembly, some withdraw to the synagogue, and others to take a glass. This man goes and is baptized in a great tub, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; that man has his son’s foreskin cut off, and causes a set of Hebrew words—to the meaning of which he himself is an utter stranger—to be mumbled over the infant; others retire to their churches, and there wait the inspiration of heaven with their hats on; and all are satisfied.
If one religion only were allowed in England, the government would very possibly become arbitrary; if there were but two, the people would cut one another’s throats; but, as there is such a multitude, they all live happy, and in peace.