Philobiblon: One of those quotes ...

Monday, January 03, 2005

One of those quotes ...

... you hear around, but without mention of the source.

"Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest."

It is from Jean Meslier, curé of Ètrèpigny in Champagne (1664-1729). "Initially he was not an atheist but a blasphemer. In his cooler moments, however, he realized that the monster-God that he railed against could not in fact exist - a fact which saddened and depressed him as it would appear later to have saddened and depressed John Stuart Mill and Bertrand Russell, taking the sting out of their rebellious stand. Promethean defiance was not something that accorded well with reason."*

Depressingly, but not surprisingly, the first four hits on Google are Christian sites. There's a private translation into English of part of his Mon Testament (edited by Voltaire) here, the text in French here, and a short English biography is included here.

Interestingly, his home town celebrates him. I can feel a pilgrimage coming on ...

* From A Short History of Western Atheism, J. Thrower, Pemberton Books, 1971, London, p. 100.


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