After mass was over, we were shewn into a chamber behind the high altar, where a door opened to the recess, in which the Virgin is placed, and where we were permitted, or rather required to kiss her hand. At the same time, I perceived a great many pilgrims entering the apartments, whose penitential faces plainly discovered the reverence and devotion with which they approached her sacred presence. When we returned, we were presented to the Prior; a lively, genteel man, of good address; who, with Pere Tendre, the Frenchman, shewed us an infinite quantity of jewels, vessels of gold and silver, garments, &c. which have been presented by Kings, Queens, and Emperors, to the convent, for the purpose of arraying this miraculous image. I begin to suspect that you will think I am become half a Catholic;—indeed, I begin to think so myself; and if ever I publicly renounce that faith which I now hold, it shall be done in a pilgrimage to Montserrat; for I do not see why God, who delights so much in variety, as all his mighty works testify; who has not made two green leaves of the same tint,—may not, nay, ought not to be worshipped by men of different nations, in variety of forms. I see no absurdity in a set of men meeting as the Quakers do, and sitting in silent contemplation, reflecting on the errors of their past life, and resolving to amend in future. I think an honest, good Quaker, as respectable a being as an Archbishop; and a monk, or a hermit, who think they merit heaven by the sacrifice they make for it, will certainly obtain it: and as I am persuaded the men of this society think so, I highly honour and respect them: I am sure I feel myself much obliged to them. They have a good library, but it is in great disorder; nor do I believe they are men of much reading; indeed, they are so employed in confessing the pilgrims and poor, that they cannot have much time for study.
I forgot to tell you, that at Narbonne I had been accosted by a young genteel couple, a male and female, who were upon a pilgrimage; they were dressed rather neat than fine, and their garments were adorned with cockle and other marine shells; such, indeed, all the poorer sort of pilgrims are characterised with. They presented a tin box to me, with much address, but said nothing, nor did I give them any thing; indeed, I did not then know, very well, for what purpose or use the charity they claimed was to be applied. This young couple were among the strangers who were now approaching the sacred image. I was very desirous of knowing their story, who they were, and what sins people so young, and who looked so good, had been guilty of, to think it necessary to come so far for absolution. Their sins on the road, I could be at no loss to guess at; and as they were such as people who love one another are very apt to commit, I hope and believe, they will obtain forgiveness of them.—They were either people of some condition, or very accomplished Chevaliers d’Industrie; though I am most inclined to believe, they were brother and sister, of some condition.