John Wayles Eppes to Francis Eppes
|Dear Francis||Washington Jan 1st 1819|
I find from the letters recieved from your Mama and yourself this week that neither of you recieved my last—
The old mode of keeping christmas seems to be going generally out of fashion—It has changed very much since my recollection Formerly all classes of society kept it as a kind of feast—It is now merely kept by labouring people—all other classes of society resume their accustomed occupations, after christmas day—Perhaps no period for mirth and relaxation can with greater propriety be chosen by the labouring class of society—Their labours for the year have ceased and before commencing the new year they devote to mirth and relaxation a few days at the close of the year—
I am glad you feel pleasure in the history you are reading—A correct history of the priests in all countries would perhaps place them much on a footing—In the formation of all the different sects meekness and humility has distinguished them—It is however a melancholy fact that all of them when armed with power have in turn become persecutors—The great value of history so far as respects Religion is that it carries irresistable conviction to the mind that it is unsafe for1 the Government of a country to give a preference to any—In some countries (where particular sects are patronized by the Government),2 the Clergy become corrupt and abandoned and in others have proscribed and burnt those who differ with them in opinion—Your sentiment that there are good and bad of all denominations is certainly correct—Hume is perhaps more execrated by the clergy than any other historian—He was a free thinker a most heinous crime with the clergy of all denominations. He treated with the freedom which he extended to all other citizens the priests—another dreadful crime—
In our country fortunately we have nothing to do with disputes about Religion—If a man is upright and honest in all his transactions no enquiry is made about his religion—The right to worship god according to our own fancy whim or caprice is not denied in this enlightened country3 and is one of the great blessings secured by the revolution.
The forms of worship are left to the women and the priests—all admitted to be equally good and having in view the same object—Mans improvement in moral rectitude—
The mail is just closing & I must bid you adieu.