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cardinal to observe. I began to quote Swift's well
“ Who can believe, with common sense,
This was an impertinent interference; and they answered me very sensibly, by alleging that a special providence is a dogma in all religions; and that, at all events, they were bound to obey their church, or leave it! They had made their election. As they took their leave, Mrs. came in from early service, with her prayer book in her hand, and al}. the anathemas of exclusive perfection in her sour face.
Mrs. is a high-church-evangelical protestant-ascendancy lady-once well known in the caste of Dublin gaiety, though now no less distinguished in the album sanctorum of 66 the serious." What a look she cast on my poor little papists, as they passed her! Excommunication by bell, book, and candlelight, and death without benefit of clergy, in every scowling lineament.
“ I did not know these little bigots visited you," said the good Mrs
.; “ you are such a notorious heretic, to say the least.”
“O! I assure you the Catholic saints are much more tolerant than you Protestant saints. My attacks on Catholicism, as I found it restored in Italy by the holy alliance, have not lost me a single Catholic friend in Ireland.”
6 Because, after all, the papists don't care for their religion as a religion.
Theirs is a church without a religion, you know.”
“I don't answer for their zeal,” (I said carelessly, for I hate religious discussions) “but I do for their sincerity, which the appearance of those poor girls attests; they are worn to shadows by this hard lent: they do not even eat eggs or butter.”
“ What absurdity !” said my petulant and wellfed evangelical ; “ I have no patience with it.”
“ But you rigid protestants fast sometimes, when your church bids you ?”
“ Oh! that is a different thing."
“ No further different, than that you fast only to draw down divine vengeance on your political enemies, while they mortify their bodies for the sake of their own souls. How Buonaparte's victories must have raised the price of salt fish! Do you remember what a number of general fasts we had during the war? I have often thought that we owed our success at Waterloo as much to dried ling, as to Wellington.”
“Oh! Lady M-! how can you joke on such solemn subjects ?"
“ Joke! why, if we are ordered to eat fish for the purpose of abating the pride and assuaging the malice of our enemies, there must, I suppose, be some efficacy in cockle sauce, and oyster pâtésor why is meat proscribed ?"
66 The intention of fasts is mortification, and we should abstain on such occasions from everything that administers to our appetites."
“ Then you come back to the black fasts of my poor half starved little friends, which you deem an absurdity.”
6 But these Catholics,” said Mrs. with true lady's logic, " abstain from no pleasure that comes in their way, even on Sundays. J hear they attend your Sunday evening parties.”
“ I give no Sunday evening parties, my dear
Mrs. ; but when the duties of the day are over, and every one has been at mass, church, or meeting, as opinion may lead them, I surround myself with the members of my own dear family ; and if some kind and intimate friend drop in to enjoy a pleasant, rational conversation, he is sure of a place at my cheerful hearth amongst its affectionate habitués."
“ But the sabbath is appointed to be kept holy.”
“ And is it not to keep the sabbath holy, to cultivate the kindliest affections, and to encourage those genial sensations which lead us to live in peace with all mankind ? He, whose first divine manifestation was at a wedding feast, and whose last was at the supper of the disciples he loved, has left us this, not more as a precept than a command.”
“ Aye, but what are your poor servants doing below stairs ?
“Precisely what their masters are doing above -enjoying innocently, and soberly, round a good fire, the rest which the sabbath brings with it reaping the fruits of their industry in the comforts it provides them, and neither driven to a sectarian
meeting nor a public house, to pass their Sunday evenings in making bile or drinking whisky.”
My saint sneered, and shook her head.
“ I will not argue with you, Lady M-, but I will tell you what the world says;" and so having proved to me that I was considered by all the "really religious” people of Dublin as no better than one of the wicked, she made her exit, with a new accession of gall circulating through her system, and more than ever convinced, that to be happy is to be wicked!
It is strange that man, who suffers so severely from the violence of the elements, “ who hath but a short time to live, and is full of misery,” should go so far out of his way to multiply uneasy sensations, and should so often dash aside the enjoyment which reason sanctifies, to court the privation which nature rejects. In strong defiance of animal instinct, there has existed, at all times, a marked disposition to make a merit of self-denial and mortification, and to consider it a virtue to outrage those senses, and sadden that imagination, which were bestowed on man by the Deity, for the promotion of his happiness.