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My opportunities of knowledge are too flender to justify that; my acquaintance with this order of men having been in a great measure confined to thofe of the proteftant Church, men of learning and ingenuity, of quiet, fpeculative, and benevolent difpofitions; it is ufually, indeed, this turn of mind which has inclined them to the ecclefiaftical profeffion. 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 Proteftant; and exclufive of all perfonal knowledge of the men, it is natural to think that the habitual performance of the ceremonies of the Christian religion, though intermingled with fome fuperftitious rites, and the preaching the doctrines of benevolence and good-will towards men, muft have fome influence on the lives and characters of those who are thus employed. It is a common error, prevailing in Proteftant countries, to imagine
gine 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 priefts and monks are themselves most fincere 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 falfehood was firft 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 fuperftition, have always chofen to employ fuch men, being fenfible that the inferior actors would perform their parts more perfectly, by acting from nature and real conviction. "Paulum intereffe cenfes," fays Davus to Myfis," ex animo omnia ut fert ،، natura, facias an de induftria *"
* Andria Terentii-" Do you imagine there is but little difference between acting from feeling, as nature dictates, or from art?"
The accounts we receive of their gluttony, are often as ill-founded as thofe of their infidelity. The real character of the majority of monks and inferior ecclefiaftics, both in France and Italy, is that of a fimple, fuperftitious, well-meaning race of men, who for the most part live in a very abftemious and mortified manner, notwithstanding what we have heard of their gluttony, their luxury, and voluptuoufnefs. Such accufations are frequently thrown out by those who are ill entitled to make them. member being in company with an acquaintance of yours, who is diftinguished for the delicacy of his table and the length of his repafts, from which he feldom retires without a bottle of Burgundy for his own share, not to mention two or three glaffes of Champaign between the courses. We had dined a few miles from the town in which we then lived, and were returning in his chariot; it was winter, and he was wrapped in fur to the nose. As we drove along, we met two friars walking through the
the fnow; little threads of icicles hung from their beards; their legs and the upper part of their feet were bare, but their foles were defended from the fnow by wooden fandals. "There goes a couple of dainty rogues," cried your friend as we drew near them; "only think of the folly of "permitting fuch lazy, luxurious rafcals to "live in a State, and eat up the portion of "the poor. I will engage that those two "fcoundrels, as lean and mortified as they "look, will devour more victuals in a "day, than would maintain two industri<6 ous families." He continued railing against the luxury of those two friars, and afterwards expatiated upon the epicurism of the clergy in general; who, he said, were all alike in every country, and of every religion. When we arrived in town, he told me he had ordered a little nice fupper to be got ready at his houfe by the time of our return, and had lately got fome excellent wine, inviting me at the fame time to go home with him; for, continued he, as we
have driven three miles in fuch weather, we ftand in great need of fome refreshment.
That in all Roman Catholic countries, and particularly in Italy, the clergy are too numerous, have too much power, too great a proportion of the lands, and that fome of them live in great pomp and luxury, is undeniable. That the common people would be in a better fituation, if manufactures and the spirit of industry could be introduced among them, is equally true; but even as things are, I cannot help thinking that the state of the Italian peafantry is preferable, in many refpects, to that of the peasants of many other countries in Europe. They are not beaten by their ecclesiastical lords, as thofe of Germany are by their mafters, on every real or imaginary offence. They have not their children torn from them, to be facrificed to the pomp, avarice, or ambition of fome military defpot; nor are they themselves preffed into the fervice as foldiers for life.