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chief (which I must say became me exceedingly,) and after stretching our legs for a few miles, and seeing Jack Randall, Ned Turner, and Scroggins, pass on the top of one of the Bath coaches, we engaged with the driver of the second to take us to London for the usual fee. I got inside, and found three other passengers. One of them was an old gentleman with an aquiline nose, powdered hair, and a pigtail, and who looked as if he had played many a rubber at the Bath rooms. I said to myself, he is very like Mr. Windham; I wish he would enter into conversation, that I might hear what fine observations would come from those finely-turned features. However, nothing passed, till, stopping to dine at Reading, some inquiry was made by the company about the fight, and I gave (as the reader may believe) an eloquent and animated description of it. When we got into the coach again, the old gentleman, after a graceful exordium, said, he had, when a boy, been to a fight between the famous Broughton and George Stevenson, who was called the Fighting Coachman, in the year 1770, with the late Mr. Windham. This beginning flattered the spirit of prophecy within me, and he riveted my attention.
He went on—“George Stevenson was coachman to a friend of my father's. He was an old man when I saw him some years afterwards. He took hold of his own arm and said, there was muscle here once, but now it is no more than this young gentleman's.' He added, well, no matter; I have been here long, I am willing to go hence, and hope I have done no more harm than another man.' Once," said my unknown companion, “ I asked him if he had ever beat Broughton? He said Yes; that he had fought with him three times, and the last time he fairly beat him, though the world did not allow it. I'll tell
you how it was, master. When the seconds lifted us up in the last round, we were so exhausted, that neither of us could stand, and we fell upon one another, and as Master Broughton fell uppermost, the mob gave it in his favour, and he was said to have won the battle. But,' says he,
the fact was, that as his second (John Cuthbert) lifted him up, he said to him, “I'll fight no more, I've had enough;" which,' says Stevenson, you know gave me the victory. And to prove to this was the case, when John Cuthbert was on his death-bed, and they asked him if there was any thing on his mind which he wished to confess, he answered, “ Yes, that there was one thing he wished to set right, for that certainly Master Stevenson won that last fight with Master Broughton; for he whispered him as he lifted him up in the last round of all, that he had had enough.”' “ This," said the Bath gentleman, “ was a bit of human nature;" and I have written this account of the fight on purpose that it might not be lost to the world. He also stated as a proof of the candour of mind in this class of men, that Stevenson acknowledged that Broughton could have beat him in his best day; but that he (Broughton) was getting old in their last rencounter. When we stopped in Piccadilly, I wanted to ask the gentleman some questions about the late Mr. Windham, but had not courage. I got out, resigned my coat and green silk handkerchief to Pigott (loth to part with these ornaments of life), and walked home in high spirits.
P. S. Toms called upon me the next day, to ask me if I did not think the fight was a complete thing? I said I thought it was. I hope he will relish my account of it.
LETTERS FROM SPAIN.
BY DON LEUCADIO DOBLADO.
Seville, 1803. I HAVE connected few subjects with more feelings of disgust and pain than that of the Religious Orders in this country. The evil of this institution, as it relates to the male sex, is so unmixed, and unredeemed by any advantage, and its abuse, as applied to females, so common and cruel, that I recoil involuntarily from the train of thought which I feel rising in my mind. But the time approaches, or my wishes overstep my judgment, when this and such gross blemishes of society will be finally extirpated from the face of the civilized world. The struggle must be long and desperate; and neither the present nor the ensuing generation are likely to see the end. Let me, however, flatter myself with the idea, that by exposing the mischievous effects of the existing system, I am contributing-no matter how little-towards its final destruction. Such a notion alone can give me courage to proceed.
Gibbon has delineated, with his usual accuracy, the origin and progress of monastic life ;* and to his elegant pages I must refer you for information on the historical part of my subject. But his account does not come down to the establishment of the Mendicant Orders of Friars. The distinction, however, between these and the Monks is not very important. The Monks, as the original name implies, retired from the world to live in perfect solitude. As these fanatics increased, many associations were formed, whose members, professing the same rule of religious life, were distinguished by the appropriate name of Cænobites. When, at length, the frantic spirit which drove thousands to live like wild beasts in the deserts, had relaxed, and the original Eremites were gradually gathered into the more social establishment of convents, the original distinction was forgotten, and the primitive name of Monks became prevalent. Still holding up their claims to be considered Anachorites, even when they had become possessed of lands and princely incomes, their monasteries were founded in the neighbourhood, but never within the precincts of towns; and though the service of their churches is splendid, it is not intended for the benefit of the people, and the Monks are seldom seen either in the pulpit or the confessional.
The Friars date their origin from the beginning of the 13th century, and were instituted for the express purpose of acting as auxiliaries to the clergy. Saint Dominic, the most odious, and Saint Francis, the most frantic of modern saints, enlisted their holy troops without any limitation of number; for, by quartering them on the productive population of Christendom, the founders took no concern for the daily supply of their numerous followers.
The Dominicans, however, having succeeded in the utter destruction of the Albigenses, and subsequently monopolized for more than three centuries the office of inquisitors, enriched themselves with the spoils of their victims, and are in the enjoyment of considerable wealth. The Franciscans continue to thrive upon alms : and trusting the promise inade to Saint Francis, in a vision, that his followers should never feel
| Persons who live in common.
want, they urge the abundant supplies which flow daily into their con vents as a permanent miracle which attests the celestial origin of their order.
With the historical proofs of Saint Francis's financial vision I confess myself perfectly unacquainted. But when I consider that the general or chief of those holy beggars derives from the collections daily made by his friars a personal income of twenty thousand a year, I cannot withhold my assent to its genuineness; for who, except a supernatural being, could possess such a thorough knowledge of the absurdity of mankind
It would be tedious to enter into a description of the numerous Orders comprehended under the two classes of Monks and Friars. The distinguishing characters of the first are wealth, ease, and indulgencethose of the last, vulgarity, filth, and vice. I shall only add that, among the Monks, the Benedictines are at the top of the scale for learning and decency of manners, while the Hieronimites deservedly occupy the bottom. To the Friars I am forced to apply the Spanish proverb“ There is little choice in a mangy flock.” The Franciscans, however, both from their multitude and their low habits of mendicity, may be held as the proper representatives of all that is most objectionable in the religious orders.
The inveterate superstition which still supports these institutions among us bas lost, of late, its power to draw recruits to the cloister from the middle and higher classes. Few monks, and scarcely a friar, can be found, who, by taking the cowl, has not escaped a life of menial toil. Boys of this rank of life are received as novices at the age of fourteen, and admitted, after a year's probation, to the perpetual vows of obedience, poverty, and celibacy. Engagements so discordant with the first laws of human nature could hardly stand the test of time, even if they arose from the deepest feelings of enthusiasm. But this affection of the mind is seldom found in our convents. The year of noviciate is spent in learning the cant and gestures of the vilest hypocrisy, as well as in strengthening, by the example of the professed young friars, the original gross manners and vicious habits of the probationers.* The result of such a system is but too visible. It is a common jest among the friars themselves, that in the act of taking the vows, when the superior of the convent draws the cowl over the head of the probationer, he uses the words Tolle verecundiam—“Put off shame.” And, indeed, were the friars half so true to their profession as they are to this supposed injunction, the Church of Rome would really teem with saints. Shameless in begging, they share the scanty meal of the labourer, and extort a portion of every produce of the earth from the farmer. Shameless in conduct, they spread vice and demoralization among
the lower classes, secure in the respect which is felt for their profession, that they may engage in a course of profligacy without any risk of exposure. When an instance of gross misconduct obtrudes itself upon the eyes of the public, every pious person thinks it his duty to hush up the report, and cast a veil on the transaction.
The Spanish satirical romance “Fray Gerundio de Campazas,” contains a lively picture of the internal economy of a convent. It was written by a Jesuit of the name of Isla, not with the view of making the religious orders contemptible, but for the purpose of checking the foppery and absurdity of the popular preachers. Yet this work Could not escape the censures of the Inquisition.
Even the sword of justice is glanced aside from these consecrated criminals. I shall not trouble you with more than two cases, out of a thousand, which prove the power of this popular feeling.
The most lucrative employment for friars, in this town, is preaching. I have not the means to ascertain the number of sermons delivered at Seville in the course of the year; but there is good reason to suppose that the average cannot be less than twelve a-day. One popular preacher, a clergyman, I know, who scarcely passes one day without mounting the pulpit, and reckons on three sermons every four-and-twenty hours during the last half of Lent.
Of these indefatigable preachers, the greatest favourite is a young Franciscan friar, called Padre R-z, whose only merit consists in a soft clear-toned voice, a tender and affectionate manner, and an incredible fluency of language. Being, by his profession, under a vow of absolute poverty, and the Franciscan rule carrying this vow so far as not to allow the members of the order to touch money, it was generally understood that the produce of these apostolical labours was faithfully deposited to be used in common by the whole religious community. An incident, however, which lately came to light, has given us reason to suspect that we are not quite in the secret of the internal management of these societies of saintly paupers, and that individual industry is rewarded among them with a considerable share of profits. Å young female cousin of the zealous preacher in question was living quite alone in a retired part of this town, where her relative paid her, it should seem, not unfrequent visits. Few, however, except her obscure neighbours, suspected her connexion with the friar, or had the least notion of her existence. An old woman attended her in the daytime, and retired in the evening, leaving her mistress alone in the house. One morning the street was alarmed by the old servant, wbo, having gained admittance, as usual, by means of a private key, found the young woman dead in her bed, the room and other parts of the house being stained with blood. It was clear, indeed, upon a slight inspection of the body, that no violence had taken place; yet the powerful interest excited at the moment, and before measures had been taken to hush the whole matter, spread the circumstances of the case all over the town, and brought the fact to light that the house itself belonged to the friar, having been purchased by an agent with the money arising from his sermons. The hungry vultures of the law would have reaped an abundant harvest upon any lay individual who had been involved in such a train of suspicious circumstances. But, probably, a proper douceur out of the sermon fees increased their pious tenderness for the friar; while he was so emboldened by the disposition of the people to shut their eyes on every circumstance which might sully the fair name of a son of Saint Francis, that, a few days after the event, he preached a sermon, denouncing the curse of Heaven on the impious individuals who could harbour a belief derogatory to his sacred character.
Crimes of the blackest description were left unpunished during the last reign, from a fixed and avowed determination of the King not to inflict the punishment of death upon a priest. Townsend has mentioned the murder of a young lady committed by a friar at San Lucar de Barrameda ; and I would not repeat the painful narrative, were it not that my acquaintance with some of her relatives, as well as with
the spot on which she fell, enables me to add accuracy to his statement:
“A young lady, of a very respectable family in the above-mentioned town, had for her confessor a friar of the Reformed or Unshod Carmelites. I have often visited in the house where she lived in front of the convent. Thither her mother took her every day to mass, and frequently to confession. The priest, a man of middle age, had conceived a passion for his young penitent, which, not venturing to disclose, he madly fed by visiting the unsuspecting girl with all the frequency which the spiritual relation in which he stood towards her, and the friendship of her parents, allowed him. The young woman, now about nineteen, had an offer of a suitable match, which she accepted with the approbation of her parents. The day being fixed for the marriage, the bride, according to custom, went, attended by her mother, early in the morning to church, to confess and receive the sacrament. After giving her absolution, the confessor, stung with the madness of jealousy, was observed whetting a knife in the kitchen. The unfortunate girl had, in the mean time, received the host, and was now leaving the church, when the villain, her confessor, meeting her in the porch, and pretending to speak a few words in her ear-a liberty to which his office entitled him-stabbed her to the heart in the presence of her mother. The assassin did not endeavour to escape. He was committed to prison; and after the usual delays of the Spanish law, he was condemned to death. The King, however, commuted this sentence into a confinement for life in a fortress at Puerto Rico. "The only anxiety ever shown by the murderer was on the success of his crime. He made frequent inquiries to ascertain the death of the young woman; and the assurance that no man could possess the object of his passion seemed to make him happy during the remainder of a long life.”
Instances of enthusiasm are so rare, even in the most austere Orders, that there is strong ground to suspect its seeds are destroyed by a pervading corruption of morals. The Observant Franciscans, the most numerous community in this town, have not been able to set up a living saint after the death, which happened four or five years since, of the last in the series of servants to the Order, who, for time immemorial, have been a source of honour and profit to that convent. Besides the lay-brothers, a kind of upper servants under religious vows, but excluded from the dignity of holy orders, the friars admit some peasants, under the name of Donados-Donati, in the Latin of the middle ages, who, like their predecessors of servile condition, give themselves up, as their name expresses it, to the service of the convent. As these people are now-a-days at liberty to leave their voluntary servi. tude, none are admitted but such as by the weakness of their understanding, and the natural timidity arising from a degree of imbecility, are expected to continue for life in a state of religious bondage. They wear the habit of the Order, and are employed in the most menial offices, except such as, being able to act, or rather to bear the character of extraordinary sanctity, are sent about the town to collect alms for their employers. These idiot saints are seen daily with a vacillating step, and a look of the deepest humility, bearing about an image of the child Jesus, to which a basket for alms is appended, and offering, not