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Those who declaim against the wickedness of the clergy, seem to take it for granted, that this body of men were the authors of the most horrid instances of persecution, massacre, and tyranny, over men's consciences, that are recorded in the annals of mankind; yet Philip II. Charles IX. and Henry VIII. were not Churchmen; and the capricious tyranny of Henry, the frantic fury of Charles, and the persevering cruelty of Philip, seem to have proceeded from the personal characters of these Monarchs, or to have been excited by what they considered as their political interest, rather than by the suggestions of their Clergy

As the subjects of the Ecclesiastical State are, perhaps, the poorest in Italy, this has been imputed to the rapacious disposition which some affert is natural to Churchmen. This

poverty, however, may be otherwise accounted for. Bishop Burnet very judiciously observes, that the subjects of a goVol. II.



vernment, which is at once despotic and elective, labour under peculiar disadvantages; for an hereditary Prince will naturally have considerations for his people which an elective one will not, “ unless he “ has a degree of generosity not common

among men, and least of all among “ Italians, who have a passion for their u families which is not known in other “ places *.”

An elective Prince, knowing that it is only during his reign that his family can receive any benefit from it, makes all the hafte he can to enrich them. To this it may be added, that as Popes generally arrive at Sovereignty at an age when avarice predominates in the human breast, they may be supposed to have a stronger bias than other Princes to that fordid passion; and even when this does not take place, their needy relations are continually prompting them to acts of

op pression, and suggesting ways and means of squeezing the people. Other causes * Vide Bishop Burnet's Travels.

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might be assigned; but that it does not
originate from the imputation above men-
tioned, seems evident from this, that the
. peasants of particular ecclefiaftics, and of
the convents in the Pope's dominions, as
well as in other countries, are generally
less oppressed than those of the lay lords
and princes.

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From what has been thrown out by some celebrated wits, and the commonplace invective of those who affect that character, one would be led to imagine that there is something in the nature of the clerical profession which has a tendency to render men proud and oppressive. Such indiscriminating censure carries no conviction to my mind, because it is contradicted by the experience I have had in life, and by the observations, such as they are, which I have been able to make on human nature. I do not mean, in imitation of the satirists above mentioned, to put the Clergy of all religions on the same footing.


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My opportunities of knowledge are too Nender to justify that; my acquaintance with this order of men having been in a great measure confined to those of the protestant Church, men of learning and ingenuity, of quiet, speculative, and benevolent dispositions; it is usually, indeed, this turn of mind which has inclined them to the ecclesiastical profession.

But though my acquaintance with the Roman Catholic Clergy is very limited, yet the few I do know could not be mentioned as exceptions to what I have just said of the Protestant; and exclusive of all personal knowledge of the men, it is natural to think that the habitual performance of the ceremnonies of the Christian religion, though intermingled with some superstitious rites, and the preaching the doctrines of benevolence and good-will towards men, must have some influence on the lives and characters of those who are thus employed. It is a common error, prevailing in Protestant countries, to imagine that the Roman Catholic Clergy laugh at the religion they inculcate, and regard their flocks as the dupes of an artful plan of imposition. By far the greater part of Roman Catholic priests and monks are themselves most sincere believers, and teach the doctrines of Christianity, and all the miracles of the legend, with a perfect conviction of their divinity and truth. The few who were behind the curtain when falsehood was first embroidered upon truth, and those who have at different periods been the authors of all the masks and interludes which have enriched the grand drama of superstition, have always chosen to employ such men, being sensible that the inferior actors would perform their parts more perfectly, by acting from nature and real conviction. “ Paulum interesse cenfes,” says Davus to Mysis,

ex animo omnia ut fert natura, facias an de industria * "

* Andria Terentii—“. Do you imagine there is but little difference between acting from feeling, as nature dictates, or from art?"

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