« PredošláPokračovať »
You, my Lord, have conspicuously proceeded to both: and though your present address is not the same, as when I was permitted to inscribe to you a former work, yet, the sound principles of your heart remain inviolable, they cannot be altered.
To such a Patron, I am proud of the permission which you have granted me, of dedicating these Essays.
I have the Honor to be,
With the utmost respect,
Your Lordship's verzfaithful servant,
READING, August 1, 1806,
À MONG the variety of subjects, which have engaged the notice of authors; the interesting inquiries of Celibacy and Wedlock, either through accident or design, have been suffered to escape a serious investigation. Whether it has been considered right to be silent on these delicate points, and leave every person to the persuasions of his own mind; or whether from the peculiarity or the difficulty of saying any thing useful and satisfactory on such questions; or to whatever other motive we may attribute the omission, it is certain, that the world is not
much indebted to writers for faithful observations and instructions on these topics: nor in common life and society is much information to be gathered; for these subjects are particularly susceptible either of the jokes of stupid levity, or, are made the themes of pensive deliberation.
From these opposite quarters, satisfactory counsel is not to be expected: but if equally distant from either, a middle path be taken, it will be a safeguard to the mind against the follies of the one and the fears of the other.
In representing the different states of Celibacy and Wedlock; instead of confining their observations to the abstract merits or demerits of these allotments; most people are for bringing them to the test of their individual experience, and so long as different tempers and constitutions live on the earth, such representations must necessarily be partial and selfish, and always liable to exception : the person who surrenders up his opinion,
and forbodes his own fate on observing that of another, is perpetually the shuttlecock of fancy and the barometer of accident: equally absurd and spiritless are those, who, on the false principle of watching in others the different events of Celibacy and Wedlock, make up their minds to continue in the one, or engage in the other.
The injunction of Celibate life, was one, among the many superstitions brought by Pythagoras out of Egypt, he forbad marriage to his disciples: The Pythagoreans were under such severe prohibition of marriage, that some of the Priests* purposely disabled themselves from women,
In such high esteem was the Celibacy of Priests among the Pagans, that Æneas, in B 2
Virgil Virgil is supposed to pass through the Ely, sian-Fields, and see no other Priests in Paradise but such as had led a single life; and Zeno, Prince of the Stoicks, held this sort of denial in such reverence, that he never approached a woman,
* As those of Cybele, and the Priests of Diana at Ephesus, who emasculated themselves.
From this Pagan source, the stream has continued to the present time; for their ideas of Celibacy are not only adopted, but their examples are followed by the Priests of the Romish Church; though this kind of abstinence did not pass as a law, nor was insisted on as a matter of Ecclesiastical conformity, till about the year six hundred. In the Council of Trent it was proposed to set the Clergy again at liberty from this yokę, but the Pope would not accede to it.
About the middle of the third century after Christ, it must be confessed that there were some plausible reasons for submitting