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The accounts we receive of their gluttony, are often as ill-founded as those of their infidelity. The real character of the majority of monks and inferior ecclesiastics, both in France and Italy, is that of a simple, superstitious, well-meaning race of men, who for the most part live in a very abstem mious and mortified manner, notwithstanding what we have heard of their gluttony, their luxury, and voluptuousness. Such accusations are frequently thrown out by those who are ill entitled to make them. member being in company with an acquaintance of yours, who is distinguished for the delicacy of his table and the length of his repasts, from which he seldom retires without a bottle of Burgundy for his own share, not to mention two or three glasses 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 snow; little threads of icicles hung from their beards; their legs and the upper part of their feet were bare, but their soles were defended from the snow by wooden sandals. “ There goes a couple of dainty “ rogues,” cried your friend as we drew near them ; “ only think of the folly of “ permitting such lazy, luxurious rascals to u live in a State, and eat up the portion of . us the
poor. I will engage that those two “ scoundrels, as lean and mortified as they " look, will devour more viduals in a “ day, than would maintain two industrious 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 supper to be got ready at his house by the time of our return, and had lately got some excellent wine, inviting me at the same time to go home with him ; for, continued he, as we
bave driven three miles in such weather, we stand in great need of some 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 some of them live in great pomp and luxury, is undeniable. That the common people would be in a better situation, 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 peasantry is preferable, in many respects, to that of the peasants of many other countries in Europe. They are not beaten by their ecclesiastical lords, as those of Germany are by their masters, on every real or imaginary offence. They have not their children torn from them, to be sacrificed to the pomp, avarice, or ambition of some military despot; nor are they themselves pressed into the service as foldiers for life.
In England and in France the people take an interest in all national disputes, and consider the cause of their country or their Prince as their own; they enter into the service voluntarily, and fight with ardour for the glory of the country or King they love. Those ideas enable them to submit to a thousand hardships without repining, and they feel the sensations of happiness in the midst of toil, want, and danger. But in Germany, where the passions are annihilated, and a man is modelled into a machine before he is thought a good soldier, where his blood is sold by the Prince to the highest bidder, where he has no quarrel with the enemy he murders, and no allegiance to the Monarch for whom he fights, the being liable to be forced into such a service, is one of the most dreadful of all calamities. Yet a regiment of such compelled soldiers, dressed in gaudy uniform, and powdered for a review, with music founding and colours flying, makes a far more
brilliant appearance than a cluster of
peafants with their wives and children upon a holiday. But if we could examine the breasts of the individuals, we should find in those of the former nothing but the terror of punishment, hatred of their officers, distrust of each other, and life itself fupported only by the hope of defertion; while the bosoms of the latter are filled with all the affections of humanity, undisturbed by fear or remorse.