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to quicken them to an alertness in new murderš atid massacres, if it should suit the purpose of the Guises of the day. An assembly, in which sat a multitude of priests and prelates, was obliged to suffer this indignity at its door. The author was not sent to the gallies, nor the players to the house of correction. Not long after this exhibition, those players came forward to the assembly to Claim the rites of that very religion which they had dared to expose, and to shew their prostituted faces in the senate, whilst the archbishop of Paris, whose function was known to his people only by his prayers and benedictions, and his wealth only by his alms, is forced to abandon his house, and to fly from his fiock (as from ravenous wolves) because, truly, in the fixteenth century, the cardinal of Lorraine was a rebel and a murderer.
Such is the effect of the perversion of history, bý those, who, for the fame nefarious purposes, have perverted every other part of learning. ' But those who will stand upon that elevation of reason, which places centuries under our eye, and brings things to the true point of comparison, which obscures little names, and effaces the colours of little parties, and to which nothing can ascend but the spirit and moral quality of human actions, will say to the teachers of the Palais Royal,--the cardinal of Lorraine was the murderer of the sixteenth century, you have the glory of being the murderers in the eighteenth; and this is the only difference between you. But history, in the nineteenth century, beiter understood, and better employed, will, I trust, teach a civilized pofterity to abhor the misdeeds of both these barbarous ages. It will teach future priests and magiftrates not to retaliate upon the speculative and inactive atheists of future times, the enormities committed by the present practical zealots and furious fanatics of that wretched error, which, in its quiefcent state, is more than punished, whenever it is em
braced. It will teach posterity not to make war upon either religion or philosophy, for the abuse which the hypocrites of both have made of the two moit valuable bleilings conferred upon us by the bounty of the universal Patron, who in all things eminently favours and protects the race of man.
If your clergy, or any clergy, should shew themselves vicious beyond the fair bounds allowed to human infirmity, and to those professional faults which can hardly be separated from professional virtues, though their vices never can countenance the exercise of oppression, I do admit, that they would natusally have the effect of abating very much of our indignation against the tyrants who exceed measure and justice in their punishment. I can allow in clergymen, through all their divisions, some tenaciousness of their own opinion; some overflowings of zeal for its propagation; some predilection to their own state and office; some attachment to the intereit of their own corps; some preference to those who liften with docility to their doctrines, beyond those who scorn and deride them. I allow all this, because I am a man who have to deal with men, and who would not, through a violence of toleration, run into the greatest of all intolerance. I must bear with infirmities until they fester into crimes.
Undoubtediy, the natural progress of their paffions, from frailty to vice, ought to be prevented by a watchful eye and a firm hand. But is it true that the body of your clergy had past those limits of a just allowance? From the general style of your late publications of all sorts, one would be led to believe that your clergy in France were a sort of monsters; an horrible composition of superstition, ignorance, fath, fraud, avarice, and tyranny. But is this true? Is it true, that the lapse of time, the cessation of conflicting interests,
the woful experience of the evils resulting from party rage, have had no sort of influence gradually to meliorate their minds? Is it true, that they were daily renewing invasions on the civil power, troubling the domestic quiet of their country, and rendering the operațions of its government feeble and precarious? Is it true, that the clergy of our times have pressed down the laity with an iron hand, and were, in all places, lighting up the fires of a favage persecution? Did they by every fraud endeavour to encrease their estates? Did they use to exceed the due demands on estates that were their own? Or, rigidly screwing up right into wrong, did they convert a legal claim into a yexatious extortion? When not possessed of power, were they filled with the vices of those who envy it? Were they enflamed with a violent litigious fpirit of controversy? Goaded on with the ambition of intellectual sovereignty, were they ready to fly in the face of all magiftrasy, to fire churches, to massacre the priests of other deferiptions, to pull down altars, and to make their way over the ruins of subverted governments to an empire of doctrine, sometimes flattering, sometimes forcing the consciences of men from the jurisdiction of public institutions into a submision to their personal authority, beginning with a claim of liberty and ending with an abuse of power
These, or some of these, were the vịces objected, and not wholly without foundation, to several of the churchmen of former times, who belonged to the two great parties which then divided and diftracted Europe.
If there was in France, as in other countries there visibly is, a great abatement, rather than any increase of these vices, instead of loading the present clergy with the crimes of other men, and the odious character of other times, in common equity they ought to be praised, encouraged, and sup
ported, in their departure from a fpirit which difgraced their predecessors, and for having assumed a temper of mind and manners more suitable to their sacred function.
When my occasions took me into France, towards the close of the late reign, the clergy, under all their forms, engaged a considerable part of my curiosity. So far from finding (except from one set of men, not then very numerous though very active) the complaints and discontents against that body, which fome publications had given me reason to expect, I perceiv ed little or no public or private uneasiness on their account. On further examination, I found the clergy in general, persons of moderate minds and decorous manners; I include the seculars, and the regulars of both sexes. I had not the good fortune to know a great many of the parochial clergy ; but in general I received a perfe@ly good account of their morals, and of their attention to their duties. With fome of the higher clergy I had a personal acquaintance; and of the rest in that class, very good means of information. They were, almost all of them, per fons of noble birth. They resembled others of their own rank; and where there was any difference, it was in their favour. They were more fully educated than the military noblesse; so as by no means to disgrace their profetlion by ignorance, or by want of fitness for the exercise of their authority. They seemed to me, beyond the clerical character, liberal and open ; with the hearts of gentlemen, and men of honour ; neither insolent nor servile in their manners and conduct. They seemed to me rather a superior class ; a set of men, amongst whom you would not be surprised to find a Fenelon. I saw among the clergy in Paris (many of the description are not to be met with any where) men of great learning and candour ; and I had reason to believe, that this description was not confined to Paris. What I found in other
places, I know was accidental; and therefpre to be presumed a fair sample. I spent a few days in a provincial town, where, in the absence of the bishop, I passed my evenings with three clergymen, his vicars general, prisons who would have done honour to any church. They were all well informed ; 'two of them of deep, general, and extensive erudition, antient àrid modern, oriental and western ; partịcularly in their own profession. They had a more extensive knowJedge of our English divines than I expected; and they entered into the genius of those writers with a critical accuracy. One of these gentlemen is since dead, the Abbé Morangis. I pay this tribute, withcut reluctance, to the memory of that noble, reverend, learned, and excellent person; and I should do the same, with equal cheerfulness, to the merits of the others, who I' believe are still living, if I did not fear to hurt those whom I am unable to serve.
Sonie of these 'ecclefiaftics of rank, are, by all titles, persons deserving of general respect. They are deserving of gratitude from me, and from many English. If this letter should ever come into their hands, I hope they will believe there are those of our nation who feel for their unmerited fall, and for the cruel 'confiscation of their fortunes, with no common sensibility. What I fay of them is a testimony, as far as one feeble voice can go, which I owe to truth, Whenever the ques tion of this unnatural persecution is concerned, I will pay it. No one shall prevent me from being just and grateful. The time is fitted for the dutý, and it is particularly becoming to thew our" justice and gratitude, when those who have deserved well of us and of mankind are labouring under popular obloquy and th persecutions of oppressive power. You had before your
before your revolution about hundred and twenty bishops. A few of them were men of eminent lanctity, and charity with: