Montesquieu

The first men, says Porphyry, sacri­fi­ced only plants.1 For such a sim­ple ritual, each man could be a pon­tiff in his family.

The natu­ral desire to please the deity mul­ti­plied cere­mo­nies, because of which the men, occu­pied with agri­culture, became inca­pa­ble of per­for­ming them all and ful­filling the details.

Particular pla­ces were dedi­ca­ted to the gods ; there had to be minis­ters to take care of them, as each citi­zen takes care of his house and domes­tic affai­res. Thus the peo­ples who have no priests are ordi­na­rily bar­ba­rians. Such the Pedalians once were,2 and such are still the Wolgusky.3

Persons dedi­ca­ted to the deity had to be hono­red, espe­cially among peo­ples who had come up with a cer­tain notion of a cor­po­ral purity requi­site for approa­ching the pla­ces most agreea­ble to the gods, and depen­dent on cer­tain prac­ti­ces.

The ser­vice of the gods requi­ring conti­nual atten­tion, most peo­ples were incli­ned to make a sepa­rate body of the clergy. Thus, among the Egyptians, the Jews, and the Persians,4 cer­tain fami­lies were conse­cra­ted to the deity, which were self-per­pe­tua­ting and did the ser­vice. There were even some reli­gions which had not only the idea of sepa­ra­ting eccle­sias­tics from busi­ness, but also of spa­ring them the trou­ble of a family, and this is the prac­tice of the prin­ci­pal branch of Christian law.

I shall not adress here the conse­quen­ces of the law of celi­bacy : it is obvious that it could become harm­ful to the degree that the body of the clergy was too exten­sive, and that conse­quently the body of the laity would not be exten­sive enough.

By the nature of human unders­tan­ding, in mat­ters of reli­gion we like wha­te­ver sup­po­ses an effort, as in mora­lity we like spe­cu­la­ti­vely wha­te­ver bears the conno­ta­tion of seve­rity. Celibacy has been more agreea­ble to peo­ples to whom it see­med the least sui­ted, and for whom it could have more regret­ta­ble conse­quen­ces. In the coun­tries of sou­thern Europe, where by the nature of the cli­mate the law of celi­bacy is more dif­fi­cult to observe, it has been retai­ned ; in those of the north, where the pas­sions are less lively, it has been bani­shed. Furthermore, in coun­tries where there are few inha­bi­tants, it has been allo­wed ; in those where there are many, it has been rejec­ted. It will be obvious that all these obser­va­tions bear only on the exces­sive exten­sion of celi­bacy, and not on celi­bacy as such.

[Porphyry, De abstinentia.]

Lilio Giraldi, p. 726.

Siberian peoples. See relation of Mr. Everard Isbrands-Ides, in Recueil des voyages du Nord, vol. VIII [p. 1–217].

See Mr. Hyde.