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CLERICAL DRESS ON THE CONTINENT.
Cork, February, 1845.
MR. URBAN-In the North American Review for July, 1844, under the head of "the Rev. Sidney Smith's Works, at page 28, I find it remarked, “that the most extravagant humourists of modern times, Rabelais, Scarron, Swift, and Sterne, were priests." This, doubtless, is true as regards the prior-named Frenchman and the two English, or rather, Irish men, (both being born in Ireland;) but the joyous cripple, Madame de Maintenon's first husband,* never
* A less harmonious alliance, in physical or moral consideration, could hardly be contemplated than this marriage, which took place in 1651, between a girl not sixteen, beautiful, accomplished, and decorous, and a man of forty, once indeed prepossessing and attractive, but then the paralysed victim of a thoughtless frolic, distorted in deformity, as he describes himself, to the shape of the letter z, the wreck and impotent shadow of former manliness, and the very type, in act, language, and character, of the ludicrous or burlesque. But Mademoiselle D'Aubigné yielded to the pressure of extreme necessity and utter destitution of fortune, in thus realising the union of Beauty and the Beast. Scarron, however, sunk as he was in bodily infirmity, still upheld his vivacious humour, and never allowed his spirits to decline, if they did not even rise, with his continued sufferings; nor, probably, would it be difficult, in a general retrospect, to show that some of the most sportive effusions of fancy have been produced under corporal anguish. Scarron died in 1660. His widow's second marriage offers a perfect contrast to this of early date; for it was with one of the handsomest men, and certainly the most powerful monarch, in Europe, Louis XIV. Other monarchs
proceeded beyond the external forms requisite to possess the revenue without the duties of a Church benefice. A great share of scandal was thus reflected on the sacerdotal state by the conduct of men wholly without ordination or cure of souls, assuming its habit, which was likewise not unfrequently worn by poor literary aspirants, because the cheapest, and a ready passport to all classes of society, when a gentleman's necessary dress was a costly charge. For such young men it was a presumptive recommendation to parents, to collegiate institutions, or to book pub
have attained a greater age; but I do not recollect a longer reign, though, without reckoning the ten years of minority, from 1643 to 1653, his personal rule did not, in truth, precede the death of Mazarin in 1661. Our venerable George III. ascended the throne in legal manhood, and filled it for sixty years, if the final decade of mental eclipse be included. The Indian sovereign, Aureng-Zeyb, is generally considered a centenarian; but, born in 1619, he died in 1707, which reduces the figure to eighty-eight, and his reign was limited to fifty-two years. Probably the longest life of an European ruler is that of Alphonso, the first Burgundian King of Portugal, who, according to his epitaph, as translated by D. A. de Lemos Faria e Castro, in his "Historia Geral de Portugal,” (livro x., cap. v.,) died at ninety-one, after a reign of seventy-three years, in 1185. "Setenta e trez annos do seu reinado, e de idade novente e humo." His birth, indeed, dates from 1095, and he succeeded his father in 1112, not, however, as King, but as Count; and in fact his mother, to whom Portugal belonged by right, held the reins of government until 1128, while the country was still tributary to the Spanish crowns of Leon and Castille. It was not until the memorable battle of Ourique, in 1139, "malagrossa batalha e gloriosa victoria sobre Jamar e cinque reis Mouros, do Campo de Ourique," that he emancipated Portugal, and raised it, with himself, so hailed by the acclamations of his victorious army, to the regal title. As King, therefore, his reign was confined to fiftysix years. Numerous miracles, as was the fashion of the day, are announced as prelusive and subsequent to the overthrow of the invading Moors, similar to the marks of Heaven's favor which signalised the triumphs, just four centuries before, of Charles Martel over the same race, (732-737.) But the best fruit and most interesting monument of the liberation of the country, was the National Convention of Lamego, assembled in 1143, “para estabelecer as leis fundamutaes do Reino," the Magna Charta of the realm, though long illusive under royal abuse; a fate to which our own Runnymead, in 1215, has been too often subjected in its violated spirit.
lishers, while it bound them by no vows, and imposed no attributive functions, as the free lives of many too clearly showed; and the duly invested members of the priesthood (though, in general, I can aver, of decorous and suitable demeanor,) wanted not those usurpers of their gown to swell the apparent list of their own aberrant brethren. Scarron's biographer, Theophile Gautier, thus confirms what I have stated"Il ne possédait aucune des qualités qu'éxigent les grandes fonctions de prêtre: aussi s'en tint-il au petit collet, qui n'engageait à rien, et ne vous empêchait pas de porter l'épée, et d'être raffiné duelliste, comme l'Abbé de Gondi-(the famous Cardinal de Retz, in his early career,)-Le petit collet était un costume propre, leste, dégagé, presque galant, et peu coûteux, qui signifiait seulement que la personne qui le portait avait des prétensions à la littérature, ou à quelque bénéfice. Costumé de la sorte l'on pouvait se présenter partout ........... les portes s'ouvraient d'elles-mêmes devant Monsieur l'Abbé ......... il était le bien-venu des grands seigneurs, et des belles dames. Pour se marier, il fallut que Scarron résignât son bénéfice,” &c. Here I may passingly observe, that the word "petit-collet," so comprehensive in application, literally means the neck or collar band, distinctive of ecclesiastics; but, by metonymy, "pars pro toto," it implies generally the clerical dress. That of the monastic order was quite different, and varied in hue or form, according to their respective regulations, as may be seen in Dugdale, Helyot, &c., but a singular volume relative to the Carmelite habit appears little known. The title is, "Typus seu pictura vestis religiosæ qua distincte repræsentatur ......... monachorum
multiplex habitus; et potissimæ rationes ob quas Carmelita pullo seu grisæo-nigro (iron-grey) colore nativo in vestibus utuntur." (Paris, 1625, 4to.) The author was called in his order, "Leo de Sancto Joanne," but his family name was "Jean Macé," á native of Rennes in Brittany, (1600-1671.) He was also writer of "Carmelus Restitutus," (1634, 4to.,) in which he fondly traces the institution of his order to the prophet Elijah, on Mount Carmel. The monastic colors, it would appear, were not always uniform; for the Dominicans used black in England, while in France, where, from having their original church in the "rue St. Jacques," they were called "Jacobins," their robe, in my perfect recollection, was white. Some controversy on the subject will be found in the Gentleman's Magazine for March and April, 1830, pp. 194 and 307.
Several celebrated writers, named and apparelled as Abbés, had equally stopped at the earliest stage of the engagement, satisfied with the tonsure, while many more adopted the cassock even without that preliminary. Of the former category, I may mention the two brothers, Mably and Condillac, (Rousseau's temporary pupils,) the poet Delille, the astronomer La Caille and Barthélemy, author of "Les Voyages du Jeune Anacharsis," whose words are, "Je finis mon séminaire, et quoique pénétré des sentiments de la religion, peut-être même parceque j'en étais pénétré, je n'eus pas la moindre idée d'entrer dans le ministère ecclésiastique." (Life, prefixed to his great work.) Of the Abbé de Montgaillard, the historian of the French Revolution, his eldest brother, the Marquis, when contesting his will, in 1834, before the Parisian tribunal, thus expressed himself: "Il y a une ving
taine d'années, mon jeune frère, Guillaume Honoré, à qui l'on donnait le titre d'Abbé, quoiqu'il n'ait jamais été ecclésiastique, publia une composition historique," &c. In fact, I am not unwarranted in affirming that most of the Catholic continental writers, previous to the Revolution had, with, or without, ulterior intentions, at some early period worn the cassock. Marmontel did so at Toulouse, though totally disengaged from its implied obligations. "Ma relation," he says, "avec Voltaire, à qui j'écrivais quelquesfois, n'avait pas peu contribué à altérer en moi l'esprit de l'état ecclésiastique." (Mémoires, tome i., livre 11.)* Gresset similarly quitted the Jesuits before the consummation of his vows, and, entering the world, married; but his "Adieux aux Jésuites," and, Epître au Père Bougeant," are beautiful testimonies of his respect and gratitude for the order. In the "Reliques of Father Prout," volume the first, page 279, will be found an elegant tribute to Gresset's merit, with an admirable version of his inimitable
This writer, of pleasing but no elevated talents, soon enlisted himself among the most devoted of Voltaire's adherents, covertly diffusing his principles, and insidiously undermining the fabric of Christianity. A posthumous poem was published in 1819 by his son, contrary, it would appear, to Marmontel's dying injunctions; but if, in the final hour of reflection or repentance, his conscience smote him, why expose his family, though not the public, to the poisoned sting? why, on becoming sensible of his error, not have destroyed its record, the manuscript? The title of this effusion of licentious imagery, profane allusion, and revolting language, far beyond even its prototype, the Patriarch's Pucelle, is "La Neuvaine de Cythère." This worthy son, Louis-Joseph, died in great distress at New York in 1830.
The contrast of Marmontel's happy days of youth and innocence in his native village, so attractive in his description, with the turmoil, discomfort, and vexations of his subsequently dissipated life, can hardly fail to strike the reader of his biography. Most, indeed, of the memoirs proceeding from our neighbours present the same grounds of comparison. It was specially exemplified in the varied scenes of Madame Roland's life, as shewn at page 266 of this volume.