תמונות בעמוד

the meanest person, such as a footman, could not be buried for less than four pistoles. There is a tax, also, as I am informed, of eight crowns laid on every burial for the king.

9 and 10. Marriages and Baptisms.-The gain which the priests have by marriages and baptisms is also very excessive.

11. Boarders. They gain likewise by their schools and boarders, but it may be said, in some sense, that what they gain that way is honestly got: yet hereby they do likewise take the bread out of the mouths of abundance of school-masters, who are honester men than themselves, have nothing else to live on, have families to maintain, and who pay taxes to the king proportionably to their income. But they are accustomed to inspire their scholars with pernicious sentiments, also a false and bastard devotion, which inclines them to shake off all subjection to their parents, to make themselves Jesuits, or priests of the oratory; and to give their estates to the order into which they enter themselves; or, at least, to make their relations pay them a good pension, of which the convent reaps the profit. They do likewise corrupt those children in another manner; at least, the Jesuits labour under the scandal of it; and, indeed, there is no wickedness of which they are not capable.

The other monks, who neither keep schools nor boarders, do nevertheless seduce abundance of young people, under pretence of confessing them, and, by virtue of the credit which they have, to creep into houses: they insnare and seduce also the parents to become monks and nuns, and to give them their estates, especially in the time of widowhood: nay, sometimes they persuade them to be unmarried on that account; and so create divi. sions betwixt man and wife, and their children. They do likewise debauch their wives and daughters, know all the secrets of old and young, and make their own advantage of the weakness of every one.

In many places, the nuns do likewise take young boarders, who oftentimes learn something else than virtue among

them and, by degrees, they persuade them also to turn nuns, especially if there be any profit to be had by it to the convent: for the relations of the girls give them either a considerable sum of money for ever, or a good annual pension ; which is so much loss to the capital stock of the kingdom.

There are also many of these convents, both of monks and runs, who, for money, take in the young bastards of persons of quality, that would not have the thing known; and many times they make away with them; there have been found, in ponds, cisterns, and houses of office, several corpšes and bones of these

12. Tapers and Torches.-They plunder the people also by their tapers, wax-candles, and torches, which they use in grand processions ; for they oblige the people to furnish these things,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

poor infants.

and all that is not spent belongs, as they allege, to the church; that is to say, to the priests or monks. It is well enouyh known, that, on certain days, which they look upon as great festivals, they oblige every corporation or company, in great towns, to furnish huge torches, each of which sometimes represents an history of the Old and New Testament, or fabulous legend; or sometimes they will have the images of five or six persons, or as many beasts, in wax, so weighty that they must have ten or twelve men to carry one of these torches. They carry twenty such in procession, which cost sometimes more than ten or twenty thousand livres (£833 6s. 8d.). This is chiefly to be seen on that day which they call the Feast of God; for the Popes (good men !) have thought fit that God should have a festival, as well as Dominic, Loyola, Xavier, &c.

13. Burning Convents. There is yet another secret way, that the monks are charged with using, to levy a great sum of money upon the people and their own devotionists, all at once. When their convent and its dependencies, or their church, is old and does not please them, they themselves set it on fire, and then make heavy lamentations for the sad accident which it hath pleased God to permit; and then they go abegging for money to rebuild what is burnt. If it require thirty thousand livres, more or less, to rebuild it as it was, they will raise at least one hundred thousand upon the people, leaving always the work unfinished, and give out that the sums raised were but very small, and not enough to carry on the work ; for none but themselves know exactly what is given, or what the building bath cost, because they take care that nobody shall be acquainted with their affairs; and so this turnishes. them with a pretence to beg constantly, and to procure legacies from some silly people when dying, on pretence of finishing the work.

14. Minor Relics. There are many orders who sell little relics, which they say have been consecrated by the Pope, and beads that bave touched some miraculous images. The Carmelites have what they call the apparel of the Virgin, &c.

15. Holy Days. The holy days are, moreover, very gainful to the ecclesiastics of all sorts, because the people go to church on those days with more devotion than on Sundays: cause abundance of masses to be said, and, besides paying for them, give money also to the box. Those festival days are like ao many fairs, wherein' the clergy make money of their merchandise. They are likewise very advantageous to the Pope, not only in that they contribute to the enriching of his ecclesiastical troops at the expense of those powers whom he has brought under his yoke, but that they weaken the princes by keeping in their king. doms armies and garrisons of priests and monks, who have sworn to him, as being, in their opinion, superior to the king. Thus they are constantly ready either to revolt or to kill kings,



when the Pope desires it, or when princes would have them contribute to the charge of the state.

But those festivals we now treat of are, above all, advantageous to the Popes in this, that they raise them above all human authority, by which they give laws to the consciences of men, and oblige them to adore and invoke whom they please, and, for the most part, villains ; that is to say, the Popes themselves, and the ministers of their tyranny. Thence also they reap another grand advantage, viz. the money which they squeeze from the people for canonizing such and such saints.

16. Various Impositions.--I must not forget here, the profit which they make by means of their Father Titrier, or title-maker, as they call him, especially in the religious communities, for whom he forges titles, that they may deprive the laics of their

The Popes having erected marriage into a sacrament; by this means, they render themselves judges of the birth and legitimacy of the children of princes and great men, which keep them in a dependence upon the Popes; for, under pretext that marriage is a sacrament, according to them, and that the Pope is the sove. reiga judge of sacraments, he can bastardise or legitimate whom he pleases.

They often attempt to draw within their own cognisance all testaments, treaties, acts, and contracts betwixt man and man, under the pretext that the oaths, by which they are confirmed, are matters whereof the violation concerns the conscience. In this manner, they would render themselves absolute masters of all the estates, as well as of the quiet and honour, of mankind.

The exemption which the ecclesiastics plead from the ordinary courts of justice occasions a great disorder in society, of which the Popish clergy make their advantage.

They get money also by granting dispensations for eating meat in Lent, and at other times.

They also squeeze money from sick persons, or their friends, for carrying their pretended sacrament and holy oils to them.

Their mischievous clergy have a great number of other methods to plunder the people of their substance; and they invent new ones from time to time, or extend and enlarge the old ones.

I confess that all the riches, which the clergy individually do thus cunningly procure from the people, is not absolutely lost to the kingdom; because they either spend it themselves, and so it circulates again among the people; but it is certain that this money would have been much more profitable to the state, had it been in the hands of those addicted to trade, husbandry, or handicrafts, and who have children to breed up. Moreover, it is not true that the ignorant Papists give their estates willingly to the priests : for they are the poor people whom they have made drunk with their idolatries and superstitions; threatening thera


with hell and purgatory if they do not give them, and promising them heaven if they give. Therefore, those who believe their follies, are under a moral necessity of giving them.

But instead of applying this money to any sort of use, these villains spend it in excess of eating and drinking, and other lewd debaucheries, or otherwise hoard it up in their coffers, or turn usurers.

ARTICLE II.;',!', Ti

The Second Article relates to the excessive multitude of ecclesiastics in France. They are computed at three hundred thousand males and females; whereof, 1 am sure, forty thousand males would be sufficient for the service of their pretended church, such as it is; so that there remain two hundred and sixty thousand useless ecclesiastics.

Then it is to be observed, that three hundred thousand adult persons, such as they, are worth double the number of others taken out of the common mass of people, especially if we consider that the greatest part of those ecclesiastics are males. Let us reckon the work, then, to which those two hundred and sixty thousand useless persons ought to apply themselves only at threepence per day, one with another, without victuals; and let us suppose, also, that they work three hundred days in a year, the unprofitable holy days being abolished ; that amounts to above eleven millions five hundred thousand livres per annuin, pure loss. I am willing to abate a million and a half for the lace, points, &c. made by some nuns, and what some poor priests and monks work for in their gardens; yet there remains still above ten millions of pure loss, without taking notice of the contagion of their bad example of idleness, which corrupts the people : and, besides, it is certain that they spend their time in doing mischief.

I take no notice neither of their maintenance, which is ill bestowed, and is another robbery that they commit on the nation, seeing it ought to be employed in maintaining others who are more useful. This article amounts to as much as the other; for these people, as I have said, own that, by their professions, they are not to work or to marry, and so devour the rest of the laborious people that have families. This is a robbery upon the commonwealth, according to the axiom-Non nobis nati sumus ed patriæ et liberis : we are not born for ourselves, but for ur country and children.

[ocr errors]

ARTICLE IN. Mendicant friars, in particular, are a very great charge to the kingdom, all of them being absolutely needless : and these beg

ging friars are so much more intolerable than the endowed monasteries, as, by their voluntary begging and laziness, they are very chargeable to the people, who maintain them richly, one way or other. For ordinarily they eat the best, and drink abundance of wine; while many honest people, who are useful subjects in the kingdom, have much ado to get bread by their labour. They are, moreover, greater hypocrites, and more ignorant than the rest of the clergy, and abundance of handsome youug women choose them for their confessors, because of their seeming devo. tion and mortification ; under which pretext they commit a deal of uncleanness. It'is supposed that there are above sixty thousand of these monks in the kingdom ; let us reckon, then, that they cost the kingdom but sixpence a-piece per day, one with another, that will exceed six millions of livres per annum. This is the least they spend : for most part of them live in good cities or towns, where they fare deliciously, but take care, as much as they can, to conceal their good cheer, because that would prevent the people's giving them so much. I have several times seen divers spits full of choice pullets, venison, and wild fowl, roasting for them in by-houses (at a little distance from their convents), and they would tell me, that these things were sent out of charity to the good fathers.


All these several sorts of ecclesiastics live unmarried. The Popish ecclesiastics in France are computed, as I said, at three hundred thousand, who; being all of them sunmarried, render three hundred thousand other adult persons, which Nature had designed them for wives, useless for propagation. If the rest of the nation should do thus, it would be entirely extinguished in fifty or sixty years. It is observed, from the registers of births and burials in most kingdoms, that there is nearly an equal proportion betwixt the birth and death of both sexes; which is a proof that they are born for one another. Now, if, according to the observation of naturalists, six hundred thousand

persons double in two hundred years time. These, in eight hundred years, ought to be nine millions, according to the ordinary progress of generation. But, because the number of ecclesiastics was not near so great at that time as at present; and, moreover, because France was not near so well peopled in those days as it hath been since, we shall content ourselves with a fourth part of of these nine millions.

Without the people a country is worth nothing ; about thirty years ago, the people of France might have been valued at fifteen hundred livres a-piece, one with another : so that the loss of two millions and two hundred and fifty thousand souls, amounts to three thousand three hundred and fifty millions, which, being di

« הקודםהמשך »