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em.[181] All these brought in money. Every religious and moral sentiment is disgusted at hearing of the disorders and frauds of the monks, and yet the truth of history requires that they should be made known. Here is one of the means—of the blasphemous means—they employed to deceive the people. At Hales in Gloucestershire, the monks pretended that {89} they had preserved some of Christ's blood in a bottle. The man whos

e deadly sins God had not yet pardoned could not see it, they said; while the absolved s

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inner saw it instantaneously. Thousands of penitents crowded thither from all parts. If a rich man confessed to the priest a

nd laid his gift on the altar, he was conducted into the mysterious chapel, where the precious vessel stood in a magnificent

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case. The penitent knelt down and looked, but saw nothing. 'Your sin is not yet forgiven,' said the priest. Then came anoth

er confession, another offering, another introduction into the sanctuary; but the unfortunate man opened his eyes in vain, h

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e could see nothing until his contribution satisfied the monks. The commissioners having sent for the vessel, found it to be

a 'crystall very thick on one side and very transparent on the other.'[182] 'You see, my lords,' said a candid friar, 'when

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a rich penitent appears, we turn the vessel on the thick side; that, you know, opens his heart and his purse.'[183] The tra

nsparent side did not appear until he had placed a large donation on the altar. =THE FRAUD AT BOXLEY.= No discovery produc

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ed a greater sensation in England than that of the practices employed at Boxley in Kent. It possessed a famous crucifix, the image on which, carved in wood, gave an affirmative nod with the head, if the offering was accepted, winked the eyes and bent the body. If the offering was too small, the indignant figure turned away its head and made a sign of disapproval.[184] One

of the Commissioners took down the crucifix from the wall, and discovered the pipes which carried the wires that the priestly conjuror was wont to pull.[185] Having put the machine in motion, he {90} said: 'You see what little account the monks have made of us and our forefathers.' The friars trembled with shame and alarm, while the spectators, says the record, roared

with laughter, like Ajax.[186] The king sent for the machine, and had it worked in the presence of the court. The figure rolled its eyes, opened its mouth, turned up its nose, let its head fall, and bent its back. 'Upon my word,' s

aid the king, 'I do not know whether I ought not to weep rather than laugh, on seeing how the poor people of England have been fooled for so many centuries.' These vile tricks were the least of the sins of those wretches. In severa

l convents the visitors found implements for coining base money.[187] In others they discovered traces of the horrible cruelties practised by the monks of one faction against those of another. Descending into the gloomy dungeons, th

ey perceived, by the help of their torches, the bones of a great number of wretched people, some of whom had died of hunger and others had been crucified.[188] But debauchery was the most frequent case. Those pretended priests of a

God who has said: Be ye holy, for I the Lord am holy, covered themselves with the hypocritical mantle of their priesthood, and indulged in infamous impurities. They discovered one monk, who, turning auricular confession to an abomin

able purpose, had carried adultery into two or three hundred families. The list was exhibited, and some of the Commissioners, to their great astonishment, says a contemporary writer, found the names of their own wives upon it.[189]

There were sometimes riots, sieges, and battles. The {91} Royal Commissioners arrived at Norton Abbey in Cheshire, the abbots of which were notorious for having carried on a scandalous traffic with the convent plate. On the last

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day of their visit, the abbot sent out his monks to muster his supporters, and collected a band of two or three hundred men, who surrounded the monastery, to prevent the commissioners from carrying anything away. The latter took refuge in a tower, which they barricaded. It was two hours past midnight: the abbot had ordered an ox to be killed to feed his rabble, seated ro


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