Billeder på siden

and more satisfactory termination to are clear and indisputable. The inhis own luminous exposition.

fluence of this great soul-subduing This gentleman is the son of an "machinery remained up to the peEnglishman who settled in Spain. Heriod of which Mr White writeswas educated in a Spanish university, that is, up to the beginning of the preand became a priest of the Catholic sent century-in all its vigour, unchurch in Spain. In process of time, checked, unresisted, irresistible-an however, his eyes were opened to the universal nightmare brooding over the degrading effects of that faith, more intellect of this once spirited, chivalespecially under the circumstances of rous, and noble people. The ultraSpanish management. He left Spain, royalist partizans of the English press came over to England, renounced Ca turn round and tell us, that in spite tholicism, and was received as a minis of external appearances the system ter of the Protestant church, in whose had lost its worst virus and they service he has ever since continued to dwell with especial triumph on the be surrounded with every species of fact, that of latter times the Inquisirespect. This is the person who has tion had become an almost harmless undertaken to describe the country of shadow of what it once was. Be it so: his birth and education, to that of and what does this prove? To our his ancestry and his adoption ; and it view it proves nothing, but that the would certainly be no easy matter to Inquisition had done its work so thodevise a set of circumstances more like- roughly that it had nothing more to ly to prepare a man for the fit execu do. When a country has been contion of such a task.

quered to the core—when its inhabiNobody, most assuredly, who has tants have lived for ages in the feeblenot read Mr White's book, can have ness of contented subjection, one skeleanticipated anything like the im ton regiment keeps it in order more pression which a careful perusal of effectually, than a whole magnificent it is calculated to leave behind. No standing army could have done at the English reader can easily believe that beginning. And so it was here. The such a system has actually been sub very dream of resistance had been exsisting in full vigour so near to our tirpated. The despotism had sat down selves, within our own time. There secure and opaque. The work was acis such a gulf between-there is such complished. The mind had been train a mixture of the ludicrous and the ed to creeping-what need could there shocking in the whole picture, that beit really requires a continual effort “ To trash for overtopping ?" to remember, that it is not a pic- Hear what Mr White says of one (for ture of mere imagination. The monks -the lazy, ignorant, unhappy swarms struments of this established thraldom

it is only one) of the established inof monks-the crafty, all-penetra- and consider who it is that speaks ting, all-ruling, all-corrupting confessors—the miserable victims of de- —it is one who had himself sat in the ceit withering in a thousand nun

Confessional, as well as kneeled before neries—the bold hypocrisy thundering

itin ten thousand pulpits, and alternate

“ Auricular confession, as a subject of ly fawning and tyrannizivg by as ma

theological controversy, is, probably, beny millions of bedsides-the prostrate neath the notice of many; but I could cowardice of a nation, King, Lords,

not easily allow the name of philosopher and Commons, all alike lying bound

to any one who should look upon an inbeneath the influence of this black ligious practice, as perfectly devoid of

quiry into the moral influence of that repestilence—the total uptying of mind

interest. It has been observed, with great and heart—the universal amalgama- truth, that the most philanthropic man tion of sin and fear the eternal mul

would feel more uneasiness in the extiform struggle, and the uniform gain pectation of having his little finger cut - the whole is so loathsome, that off, than in the assurance that the whole every English eye shrinks back at the empire of China was to be swallowed up, first glance with the sameincredulus the next day, by an earthquake. If ever, odi.

therefore, these lines should meet the eye Revolting, however, as the bring- of the public in some distant country, ing home of such a state of things (for ages must pass before they can see may be to our imagination--the facts the light in Spain), I entreat my readers

to beware of indifference about evils from courage enough to unburthen my conwhich it is their happiness to be free, science by a general confession of the and to make a due allowance for the feel- past. And let it not be supposed that ings which lead me into a short digres- mine is a singular case, arising either sion. They certainly cannot expect to from morbid feeling or the nature of my be acquainted with Spain without a suf- early education. Few, indeed, among the ficient knowledge of the powerful moral many penitents I have examined, have engines which are at work in that coun- escaped the evils of a similar state ; for, try; and they will, perhaps, find that a what a silly bashfulness does in children, Spanish priest may have something to say is often, in after life, the immediate effect which is new to them on the subject of of that shame by which fallen frailty confession.

clings still to wounded virtue. The ne“ The effects of confession upon ycung cessity of confession, seen at a distance, minds, are generally unfavourable to their is lighter than a feather in the balance of future peace and virtue. It was to that desire; while, at a subsequent period, it practice I owed the first taste of remorse, becomes a punishment on delicacy-an while yet my soul was in a state of in- instrument to blunt the moral sense, by fant purity. My fancy had been strong- multiplying the subjects of remorse, and ly impressed with the awful conditions directing its greatest terrors against imaof the penitential law, and the word sa- ginary crimes. crilege had made me shudder on being “ These evils affect, nearly equally, the told that the act of concealing any thought two sexes ; but there are some that fall or action, the rightfulness of which 1 peculiarly to the lot of the softer. Yet suspected, would make me guilty of that the remotest of all at least as long as worst of crimes, and greatly increase my the Inquisition shall exist—is the danger danger of everlasting torments. My pa- of direct seduction from the priest. The rents had, in this case, done no more formidable powers of that odious tribunal than their duty according to the rules of have been so skilfully arrayed against the their church. But, though they had suc- abuse of sacramental trust, that few are ceeded in rousing my fear of hell, this found base and blind enough to make was, on the other hand, too feeble to the confessional a direct instrument of overcome a childish bashfulness, which debauch. The strictest delicacy, hou. made the disclosure of a harmless trifle ever, is, I believe, inadequate fully to opan effort above my strength.

pose the demoralizing tendency of auri“The appointed day came at last, when cular confession. Without the slightest I was to wait on the confessor. Now wa- responsibility, and, not unfrequently, in vering, now determined not to be guilty the conscientious discharge of what he of sacrilege, I knelt before the priest, believes his duty, the confessor conveys leaving, however, in my list of sins, the to the female mind the first foul breath last place to the hideous offence-I be- which dims its virgin purity. He, unlieve it was a petty larceny committed on doubtedly, has a right to interrogate upA young bird. But when I came to the on subjects which are justly deemed dreaded point, shame and confusion fell awkward even for maternal confidence ; upon me, and the accusation stuck in my and it would require more than common throat. The imaginary guilt of this si simplicity to suppose that a discretionlence haunted my mind for four years, ary power of this nature, left in the gathering horrors at every successive con. hands of thousands-men beset with fession, and rising into an appalling spec. more than common temptations to abuse tre, when, at the age of twelve, I was it-will generally be exercised with protaken to receive the sacrament. In this per caution. * But I will no longer miserable state I continued till, with the dwell upon this subject for the present, advance of reason, I plucked, at fourteen, Men of unprejudiced minds will easily

• In justice to Mr White we must quote his Note.-" I must observe, that the degree of delicacy, or its opposite, in a confessor-besides the individual influence of virtue and good breeding-must greatly depend upon the general refinement of the people among whom he exercises his powers. Such is the state of manners in England, that few or none, I will venture to say, among its Catholic females, will probably be aware of any evil tendency in auricular confession. I would not equally answer for Ireland, especially among the lower classes. Since these Letters, however, would not have seen the light without my consent, I must here, once for all, enter my protest against the supposition of their being intended as an attack on the large and

respectable portion of our fellow-subjects who profess the Roman Catholic faith. That I firinly believe in the abstract tendency which is here attributed to Catholicism, I cannot, will not deny. Yet we should not confound Catholicism in the rank luxuriance of full growth, with the same noxious plant gradually tamed and reclaimed under the shade of Protestantism. Thus, while I am persuaded that the religion of Spain, Portugal, and Naples is the main obstacle to the final establishment of liberty in those countries, I positively deny the inference that Catholics must necessarily, and in all possible circumstances, make a wrong use of political power."Editor.

[ocr errors]

conjecture what I leave unsaid while to say that he himself is the hero ; but it shew a hope of convincing such as have is impossible not to suspect that such inade a full and irrevocable surrender of is the fact, knowing, what everybody their judgment, were only to libel my does know, of Mr W.'s own history. own.”

« This first taste of mental liberty was To this we shall only add one fact more delicious than any feeling I ever of our own; and this is, that anybody experienced; but it was succeeded by a who has seen the popular books of re- burning thirst for everything that, by deligious instructiou that are to be found stroying my old mental habits, could on every parlour window throughout strengthen and confirm my unbelief. I Spain-the books that answer there to gave an exorbitant price for any French our Pilgrim's Progress, Whole Duty irreligious books, which the love of gain of Man, Nelson's Fasts and Festivals, induced some Spanish booksellers to imand the like-must be aware that Mr port at their peril. The intuitive knowWhite has much understated the ac- ledge of one another, which persecuted tual horrors of this auricular systein. principles impart to such as cherish them The deliberate filth of these books, in common, made me soon acquainted we speak advisedly-is certainly a

with several members of my own profesthousand miles beyond anything that sion, deeply versed in the philosophical is to be found in the worst books for

school of France. They possessed, and bidden to be sold in England, on the

made no difficulty to lend me, all the score of their indecency. Under the

Antichristian works, which teemed froin

the French press. Where there is no lipretence of confessorial privilege, the priestly authors of these books have berty, there can be no discrimination. arranged, in the form of catechisms, abstinence, makes the mind gorge itself

The ravenous appetite raised by a forced &c., the most minute revelations of with all sorts of food. I suspect I have all the symptoms of every lawless pas

thus imbibed some false, and many crude sion--even of those which it is impos- notions from my French masters. But sible to name to English ears. Stories my circumstances preclude the calm and of ghosts, and dreams, and visions, dispassionate examination which the subworked up often with very consider- ject deserves. Exasperated by the daily able vigour of fancy and language, in- necessity of external submission to doctrines tersperse the details of these horrors;

and persons I delest and despise, my soul and saints, and martyrs, and virgins, overflows with bitterness. Though I acare made to take a part in their expo- knowledge the advantages of moderation, sition. We are really quite serious none being used towards me, I practiwhen we say, that no books that ever cally, and in spite of my better judgment, were written by English profligates by learn to be a fanatic on my own side. profession-nay, that none we have “ Pretending studious retirement, I ever heard of as existing even in France have fitted up a small room, to wbich -come near, speaking merely of sen none but my confidential friends find adsual filth, to some of the most favour mittance. There lie my prohibited books, ed manuals of Spanish piety—manus in perfect conccalment, in a well-contrials which are put into the hands of ved nook under a stair-case. The Broevery girl and boy as soon as they can

viary alone, in its black-binding, clasps, spell out the words; and which are at

and gilt leaves, is kept upon the table, to this moment carried about as perpe

check the doubts of any chance intruder." tual vade-mecums in the sleeves of Descending from these the educated many thousands of Spanish Father gentlemen of the Spanish ChurchConfessors.

whose lofty principles of moral action As for the priests themselves, Mr certainly require no comment after what White certainly represents their state has been quoted, we come to the clergy very boldly. Mark these emphatie of mere laziness--the monks; and then, words

many steps lower, to the chosen shep“ Among my numerous acquaint- herds of the vulgar—the friars. Mr ance in the Spanish clergy, I have never White says, “their distinguishing chamet with any ONE, possessed of bold ta racters are vulgarity, filth, and vice," lents, who has not, sooner or later, chan -and then proceeds as follows:ged from the most sincere piety to a state “ The inveterate superstition which of unbelief."

still supports these institutions among The following is part of a story of us, has lost, of late, its power to draw rewhich Mr White does not expressly cruits to the cloister from the middle and

[ocr errors]

higher classes. Few monks, and scarce consists in a soft clear-toned voice, a tenly a friar, can be found, who, by taking der and affectionate manner, and an inthe cowl, has not escaped a life of menial credible fluency of language.

Being, by toil. Boys of this rank of life are recei. his profession, under a vow of absolute ved as novices at the age of fourteen, and poverty, and the Franciscan rule carrying admitted, after a year's probation, to the this vow so far as not to allow the memperpetual vows of obedience, poverty, and bers of the order to touch money, it was celibacy. Engagements so discordant with generally understood that the produce of the first laws of human nature could hard- these apostolical labours was faithfully ly stand the test of time, even if they deposited, to be used in common by the arose from the deepest feelings of enthu. whole religious community. An incident, siasm. But affection of the mind is however, which lately came to light, has seldom found in our convents. The year given us reason to suspect that we are of noviciate is spent in learning the cant not quite in the secret of the internal and gestures of the vilest hypocrisy, as management of these societies of saintly well as in strengthening, by the example paapers, and that individual industry is of the professed young friars, the original rewarded among them with a considergross manners and vicious habits of the able share of profits. A young female, probationers. The result of such a sys- cousin of the zealous preacher in questem is but too visible. It is a common tion, was living quite alone in a retired jest among the friars themselves, that in part of this town, where her relative paid the act of taking the vows, when the su her, it should seem, not unfrequent visits. perior of the convent draws the cowl Few, however, except her obscure neighover the head of the probationer, he uses bours, suspected her connection with the the words Tolle verecundiam-Put off friar, or had the least notion of her existshame.' And, indeed, were the friars half ence. An old woman attended her in the so true to their profession as they are to day-time, and retired in the evening, this supposed injunction, the church of leaving her mistress alone in the house. Rome would really teem with saints. One morning the street was alarmed by Shameless in begging, they share the the old servant, who, having gained admit scanty meal of the labourer, and extort a tance, as usual, by means of a private key, portion of every product of the earth found the young woman dead in her bed, from the farmer. Shameless in conduct, the room and other parts of the house they spread vice and demoralization being stained with blood. It was clear, among the lower classes, secure in the indeed, upon a slight inspection of the respect which is felt for their profession, body, that no violence had taken place; that they may engage in a course of pro- yet the powerful interest excited at the fligacy without any risk of exposure. moment, and before measures had been When an instance of gross misconduct taken to hush the whole matter, spread obtrudes itself upon the eyes of the pub- the circumstances of the case all over the lic, every pious person thinks it his duty town, and brought the fact to light, that to hush up the report, and cast a veil on the house itself belonged to the friar, hathe transaction. Even the sword of jus- ving been purchased by an agent with tice is glanced aside from these consecra- the money arising from his sermons. The ted criminals. I shall not trouble you hungry vultures of the law would have with more than two cases out of a mul reaped an abundant harvest upon any titude, which prove the power of this po- Jay individual who had been involved in pular feeling.

such a train of suspicious circumstances. “ The most lucrative employment for But, probably, a proper douceur out of friars, in this town, is preaching. I have the sermon fees increased their pious tennot the means to ascertain the number derness for the friar ; while he was so of sermons delivered at Seville in the emboldened by the disposition of the course of the year ; but there is good people to shut their eyes on every circumreason to suppose that the average can stance which might sully the fair name not be less than twelve a-day. One po- of a son of St Francis, that, a few days pular preacher, a clergyman, I know, after the event, he preached a sermon, who scarcely passes one day without denouncing the curse of Heaven on the mounting the pulpit, and reckons on impious individuals who could harbour a three sermons every four-and-twenty belief derogatory to his sacred character. hours during the last half of Lent.

“ Crimes of the blackest description “ Of these indefatigable preachers, the were left unpunished during the last reign, greatest favourite is a young Franciscan from a fixed and avowed determination of friar, called Padre R-z, whose merit the King* not to inflict the punishment

Charles III.

of death upon a priest. Townsend has into pages liable to be seen preris mentioned the murder of a young lady, virginibusque." What we have excommitted by a friar at San Lucar de Bar- tracted, however, may, we dare say, rameda ; and I would not repeat the pain- be accepted as furnishing a sufficient ful narrative, were it not that my ac- justification of our own strong language quaintance with some of her relatives, as at the outset. well as with the spot on which she fell, The population of Spain, then, was, enables me to give a more accurate state- at the time when Buonaparte invaded ment.

her soil, everywhere under the undis“ A young lady, of a very respectable puted, at least unchallenged, influence family in the above-mentioned town, had of this despotic clergy. Holding an for her confessor a friar of the Reformed enormous proportion of the land in or Unshod Carmelites. I have often vi- property-drawing tythes from all the sited the house where she lived, in front rest-furnishing confessors and direcof the convent. Thither her mother took tors to every individual, frora the King her every day to mass, and frequently to to the hangman-omnipotent over the confession. The priest, a man of middle women-artfully adapting themselves age, had conceived a passion for his young to the wants, and desires, and weakpenitent, which, not venturing to disclose, nesses of every class of society-this he madly fed by visiting the unsuspecting great body, embracing, be it observed, girl with all the frequency which the spi- å vast number of deliberate infidels, ritual relation in which he stood towards predominated wide and far; and their her, and the friendship of her parents, rule there was no one to question. allowed him. The young woman, now about nineteen, had an offer of a suitable most closely allied with it, was that of

Second only to this influence, and match, which she accepted, with the ap- the Spanish nobility. They were, of probation of her parents. The day being fixed for the marriage, the bride, accord course, universally' educated by the ing to custom, went, attended by her clergy. The highest offices and emomother, early in the morning to church, without an exception, in the hands of

luments of the church were, almost to confess and receive the sacrament. After giving her absolution, the confes persons born within their own class. sor, stung with the madness of jealousy, Humbled into the semblance of slavish was observed whetting a knife in the kit. submission at the court where they chen. The unfortunate girl had, in the

were compelled to reside during a great meantime, received the host, and was part of the year, the Spanish Signiors now leaving the church, when the villain, enjoyed, when visiting their vast estates her confessor, meeting her in the porch, in the country, a measure of feudal auand pretending to speak a few words in thority and influence, such as has been her ear—a liberty to which his office en- altogether undreamed of in England titled him—stabbed her to the heart in for the last two or three centuries. the presence of her mother. The assas- There the lord and the bishop were all sin did not endeavour to escape. He was in all; and both, it is fair to say, excommitted to prison ; and after the usual erted their sway in a style well calcudelays of the Spanish law, he was con- lated to secure the love and attachment demned to death. The King, however, of the peasantry. In the capital, on commuted this sentence into a confine- the other hand, the court and the ment for life in a fortress at Puerto Rico. clergy were all in all ; while, in the The only anxiety ever shewn by the mur- commercial sea-port towns, the influderer was respecting the success of his

ence of the nobles was, comparatively crime. He made frequent inquiries to speaking, unknown; and the clergy, ascertain the death of the young woman; held their sway, the only universal and the assurance that no man could possess the object of his passion, seemed to sway, divided with an aristrocracy of

mere wealth. make him happy during the remainder of

Such was the state of Spain when a long life.”

Buonaparte began that part of his caThe whole of this book is rich with reer, of which, as it has been so resimilar details. We have merely ex- cently, and so ably sketched in the tracted a single morsel or two, by way Quarterly Review, (article on Souof specimen. The part in which the they's History of the Peninsular War,) nuns are treated of, contains, indeed, we shall say nothing at present. Such, not a few things which we should in every particular, was the state of the scarcely be pardoned for transplanting Spanish mind-such were the predo

« ForrigeFortsæt »