Just to show his friend that no, Belknap was not associating freedom of conscience with acceptance of the Society of Friends or Roman Catholicism, Belknap

included the tale of ‘a young gentleman who is lately returned from the Havanna’, Cuba, where ‘he became acquainted with a Spanish priest’, who condescended to allow the young man to peer at a generally restricted portrait of the Virgin Mary. ‘You may judge of his feelings when, on drawing up the veil, a black face appeared, shewing a set of ne white teeth’. In reply to the young man’s astonishment, ‘the priest very seriously told him that the negroes were the best friends the Church had in that part of the world now’. ‘Upon the whole’, Belknap concluded, ‘it appeared that this smutty business is an instance of priestcra , which knows how to accommodate itself to its interest in every shape and colour’.3