« السابقةمتابعة »
always chosen out of the abby of Benedictines at St. Gaul. Every father and brother of the convent has a voice in the election, which must afterwards be confirmed by the pope. The last abbot was Cardinal Sfondrati, who was advanced to the purple about two years before his death. The abbot takes the advice and consent of his chapter, before he enters on any matter of importance; as the levying of a tax, or declaring of a war. His chief lay-officer is the grand maître d'hôtel, or high-steward of the household, who is named by the abbot, and has the management of all affairs under him. There are several other judges and distributers of justice appointed for the several parts of his dominions, from whom there always lies an appeal to the prince. His residence is generally at the Benedictine convent at St. Gaul, notwithstanding the town of St. Gaul is a little Protestant republic, wholly independent of the abbot, and under the protection of the cantons.
One would wonder to see so many rich burgeois in the town of St. Gaul, and so very few poor people in a place that has scarce any lands belonging to it, and little or no income but what arises from its trade. But the great support and riches of this little state, is its linen manufacture, which employs almost all ages and conditions of its inhabitants. The whole country about them furnishes them with vast quantities of flax, out of which they are said to make yearly forty thousand pieces of linen cloth, reckoning two hundred ells to the piece. Some of their manufacture is aš finely wrought as any that can be met with in Holland; for they have excellent artizans, and great commodi: ties for whitening. All the fields about the town were 80 covered with their manufacture, that, coming in the dusk of the evening, wé mistook them for a lake. They send off their works upon mules into Italy, Spain, Germany, and all the adjacent countries. They reca kon in the town of St. Gaul, and in the houses that lie scattered about it, near ten thousand souls, of which there are sixteen hundred bourgeois. They chuse their councils and burgomasters out of the body of the bourgeois, as in the other governments of Switzerland, which are every where of the same nature, the difference lying only in the numbers of such as are employed in state affairs, which are proportioned to the grandeur of the states that employ them. The abby and the town bear a great aversion to one another; but, in the general diet of the cantons, their representatives sit together, and act by concert. The abbot deputes his grand maître d'hôtel, and the town one of its burgomasters.
About four years ago the town and abby would have come to an open rupture, had it not been timely prevented by the interposition of their common protectors. The occasion was this. A Benedictine monk, in one of their annual processions, carried his cross erected through the town, with a train of three or four thousand peasants following him. They had no sooner entered the convent than the whole town was in a tumult, occasioned by the insolence of the priest, who, contrary to all precedents, had presumed to carry his cross in that manner. The bourgeois immediately put themselves in arms, and drew down four pieces of their cannon to the gates of the convent, cession, to escape the fury of the citizens, durst not return by the way it came, but, after the devotions of the monks were finished, passed out at a back-door of the convent, that immediately led into the abbot's territories. The abbot on his parţ raises an army, blocks up the town on the side that faces his dominions, and forbids his subjects to furnish it with any of their commodities. While things were just ripe for a war, the cantons, their protectors, interposed as um. pires in the quarrel, condemning the town, that had appeared too forward in the dispute, to a fine of two thousand crowns; and enacting, at the same time, that, as soon as any procession entered their walls, the priest should let the cross hạng about his neck without
touching it with either hand, till he came within the precincts of the abby. The citizens could bring into the field near two thousand men well exercised, and armed to the best advantage, with which they fancy they could make head against twelve or fifteen thousand peasants, for so many the abbot could easily raise in his territories. But the Protestants, subjects of the abby, who, they say, make up a good third of its people, would probably, in case of a war, abandon the cause of their prince for that of their religion. The town of St. Gaul has an arsenal, library, town-houses, and churches, proportionable to the bigness of the state, It is well enough fortified to resist any sudden attack, and to give the cantons time to come to their assistance. The abby is by no means so magnificent as one would expect from its endowments. The church is one huge nef with a double aisle to it. At each end is a large choir. The one of them is supported by vast pillars of stone, cased over with a composition that looks the most like marble of any thing one can imagine. On the ceiling and walls of the church are lists of saints, martyrs, popes, cardinals, archbishops, kings, and queens, that have been of the Benedictine order. There are several pictures of such as have been distinguished by their birth, sanctity, or miracles, with inscriptions that let you into the name and history of the persons represented. I have often wished that some traveller would take the pains to gather all the modern inscriptions which are to be met with in Roman Catholic countries, as Gruter and others have copied out the ancient heathen monuments. Had we two or three volumes of this nature, without
of the collector's own reflections, I am sure there is nothing in the world could give a clearer idea of the Roman Catholic religion, nor expose more the pride, yanity, and self-interest of convents, the abuse of indulgencies, the folly and impertinence of votaries, and, in short, the superstition, credulity, and childishness, of the Roman Catholic religion, One might fill several sheets at St. Gaul, aš there are few considerable convents or churches that would not af. ford large contributions.
As the king of France distributes his pensions through all the parts of Switzerland, the town and abby of St. Gaul come in too for their share. To the first he gives five hundred crowns per annum, and to the other a thousand. This pension has not been paid these three years, which they attribute to their not acknowledging the Duke of Anjou for king of Spain. The town and abby of St. Gaul carry a bear for their arms. The Roman Catholics have this bear's memory in very great veneration, and represent him as the first convert their saint made in the country. One of the most learned of the Benedictine monks gave me the following history of him, which he delivered to me with tears of affection in bis eyes. “St. Gaul, it seems, whom they call the great apostle of Germany, found all this country little better than a vast desert. As he was walking in it, on a very cold day, he chanced to meet a bear in his way. The saint, instead of being startled at the rencounter, ordered the bear to bring him a bundle of wood, and make him a fire. The bear served him to the best of his ability, and, at his departure, was commanded by the saint to retire into the very depth of the woods, and there to pass the rest of his life without eyer hurting man or beast
. From this time,” says the monk, “the bear lived irreproachably, and observed, to his dying day, the orders that the saint had given him.”
I have often considered, with a great deal of pleasure, the profound peace and tranquillity that reign in Switzerland and its alliances. It is very wonderful to see such a knot of governments, which are so divided among themselves in matters of religion, maintain so uninterrupted an union and correspondence, that no one of them is for invading the rights of another, but remains content within the bounds of its first establishment. This, I think, must be chiefly ascribed to the nature of the people, and the consti
tution of their governments. Were the Swiss animated by zeal or ambition, some or other of their states would immediately break in upon the rest; or, were the states so many principalities, they might often have an ambitious sovereign at the head of them, that would embroil his neighbours, and sacrifice the repose of his subjects to his own glory. But, as the inhabitants of these countries are naturally of a heavy, phlegmatic temper, if any of their leading members have more fire and spirit than comes to their share, it is quickly tempered by the coldness and moderation of the rest who sit at the helm with them. To this we may add, that the Alps is the worst spot of ground in the world to make conquests in, a great part of its governments being so naturally intrenched among woods and mountains. However it be, we find no such disorders among them as one would expect in such a multitude of states; for, as soon as any public rupture happens, it is immediately closed up by the moderation and good offices of the rest that interpose.
As all the considerable governments among the Alps are commonwealths, so, indeed, it is a constitution the most adapted of any other to the poverty and barrenness of these countries. We may see, only in a neighbouring government, the ill consequence of having a despotic prince, in a state that is most of it composed of rocks and mountains; for, notwithstanding there is a vast extent of lands, and many of them better than those of the Swiss and Grisons, the common people, among the latter, are much more at their ease, and in a greater affluence of all the conveniences of life. A prince's court eats too much into the income of a poor state, and generally introduces a kind of luxury and magnificence, that sets every particular person upon making a higher figure in his station than is consistent with his revenue.
It is the great endeavour of the several cantons of Switzerland, to banish from among them every thing that looks like pomp or superfluity. To this end the mi