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urious manner in which they live in their convents, whatever truth there may have been in them formerly, are certainly now in a great measure without foundation. I remember when I was at the Grande Chartreuse, near Grenoble, which has a considerable district of land belonging to it, I was informed, and this information was confirmed by what I saw, that those monks were gentle and generous masters, and that their tenants were envied by all the peasantry around, on account of the treatment they received, and the comparatively easy terms on which they held their farms. From the inquiries I have made in France, Germany, and Italy, I am convinced that this is usually the case with those peasants who belong to convent lands; and very often, I have been informed, besides having easy rents, they also find affectionate friends and protectors in their masters, who visit them in sickness, comfort them in all distresses, and are of service to their families in various shapes.

I have been speaking hitherto of the peasantry belonging to convents; but I believe I might extend the remark to the tenants of ecclesiastics in general, though they are often represented as more proud and oppressive masters than any class of men whatever; an aspersion which may have gained credit the more easily on this account, that instances of cruelty and oppression in ecclesiastics strike more, and raise a greater indignation, than the same degree of wickedness in other men; they raise a greater indignation, because they are more unbecoming of clergymen, and they strike more when they do happen, because they happen seldomer. The ambition of popes some centuries ago, when the court of Rome was in its zenith, the unlimited influence and power which particular churchmen acquired in England and France, had those effects upon their actions and characters, which ambition and power usually have on the characters of men; it rendered them insolent, unfeeling, and persecuting. Yet, for every cruel and tyrannical pope that history has recorded, it will be easy to name two or three Roman emperors who have surpassed them in every species of wickedness; and England and France have had prime ministers with all the vices, without the abilities, of Wolsey and Richelieu.

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 assert is natural to church

This poverty, however, may be otherwise accounted for. Bishop Burnet very judiciously observes, that the subjects of a government, which is at oncc 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 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 haste 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 sordid passion ; and even when this does not take place, their needy relations are continually prompting them to acts of oppression, and suggesting ways and means of

* Vide Bishop Burnet's Travels.


squeezing the people. Other causes might be assigned ; but, that it does not originate from the imputation above mentioned, seems evident from this, that the peasants of particular ecclesiastics, 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.

From what has been thrown out by some celebrated wits, and the common-place 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. My opportunities of knowledge are too slender to justify that ; my acquaintance with this order of men having been in a great

a 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 ceremonies 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,

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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. 6 Paulum interesse censes,' says Davus to Mysis, ' ex animo omnia ut fert natura, facias an de industria." *

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

abstemious and mortified manner, notwithstanding what we have heard of their gluttony, their luxury, and voluptuousness. Accusations are frequently thrown out by those who are ill entitled to make them. I remember 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; lit. tle 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 wę


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

drew near them; only think of the folly of permitting such lazy luxurious rascals to live in a state, and eat up the portion of the

poor. I will engage that those two scoundrels, as lean and mortified as they look, will devour more victuals 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 have 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 soldiers for life.

In England and in France the people take an interest in all national disputes, and consider the cause of their countrý 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,

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