Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

care so much for the Church of Ireland, a country you never live in 2– Answer I do not care so much for the Church of Ireland, if I was sure the Church of England would not be destroyed. And is it for the Church of England alone that you fear 2 – Answer Not quite to that, but I am afraid we should all be lost, that every thing would be overturned, and that I should lose my rank and my estate. Here then, we say, is a long series of dangers, which (if there were any chance of their ever taking place) would require half a century for their development; and the danger of losing Ireland by insurrection and invasion, which may happen in six months, is utterly overlooked, and forgotten. And if a foreign influence should ever be fairly established in Ireland, how many hours would the Irish Church, how many months would the English Church, live after such an event How much is any English title worth after such an event — any English family — any English estate * We are astonished that the brains of rich Englishmen do not fall down into their bellies in talking of the Catholic question—that they do not reason through the cardia and the pylorus—that all the organs of digestion do not become intellectual. The descendants of the proudest noblemen in England may become beggars in a foreign land from this disgraceful nonsense of the Catholic question — fit only for the ancient females of a market town. What alarms us in the state of England is the uncertain basis on which its prosperity is placed — and the prodigious mass of hatred which the English government continues, by its obstinate bigotry, to accumulate — eight hundred and forty millions sterling of debt. The revenue depending upon the demand for the shoes, stockings, and breeches of Europe — and seven millions of Catholics in a state of the greatest fury and exasperation. We persecute as if we did not owe a shilling — we spend as if we had no disaffection. This, by possibility, may go on; but it is dangerous walking — the chance is, there will be a fall. No wise man should take such a course. All probabilities are against it. We are VOL. III. ID

astonished that Lord Hertford and Lord Lowther, shrewd and calculating Tories, do not see that it is nine to one against such a game. It is not only the event of war we fear in the military struggle with Ireland; but the expense of war, and the expenses of the English government, are paving the way for future revolutions. The world never yet saw so extravagant a government as the Government of England. Not only is economy not practised—but it is despised; and the idea of it connected with disaffection, Jacobinism, and Joseph Hume. Every rock in the ocean where a cormorant can perch is occupied by our troops — has a governor, deputy-governor, storekeeper, and deputystorekeeper — and will soon have an archdeacon and a bishop. Military colleges, with thirty-four professors, educating seventeen ensigns per annum, being half an ensign for each professor, with every species of nonsense, athletic, Sartorial, and plumigerous. A just and necessary war costs this country about one hundred pounds a minute; whipcord fifteen thousand pounds; red tape seven thousand pounds; lace for drummers and fifers, nineteen-thousand pounds; a pension to one man who has broken his head at the Pole; to another who has shattered his leg at the Equator; subsidies to Persia; secret service-money to Thibet; an annuity to Lady Henry Somebody and her seven daughters – the husband being shot at some place where we never ought to have had any soldiers at all; and the elder brother returning four members to Parliament. Such a scene of extravagance, corruption, and expense as must paralyse the industry, and mar the fortunes, of the most industrious, spirited people that ever existed. Few men consider the historical view which will be taken of present events. The bubbles of last year; the fishing for half-crowns in Vigo Bay; the Milk Muffin and Crumpet Companies; the Apple, Pear, and Plum Associations; the National Gooseberry and Currant Company; will all be remembered as instances of that partial madness to which society is occasionally exposed. What will be said of all the intolerable trash which is issued forth at public meetings of No Popery 2 The follies of one century are scarcely credible in that which || succeeds it. A grandmarmma of 1827 is as wise as a | very wise man of 1727. If the world lasts till 1927, the grandmammas of that period will be far wiser than the tip-top No Popery men of this day. That this childish nonsense will have got out of the drawing-room, there can be no doubt. It will most probably have passed through the steward's room, and butler's pantry, into the kitchen. This is the case with ghosts. They no longer loll on couches and sip tea; but are down on their knees scrubbing with the scullion – or stand sweating, and basting with the cook. Mrs. Abigail turns up her nose at them, and the housekeeper declares for flesh and blood, and will have none of their company. It is delicious to the persecution-fanciers to reflect that no general bill has passed in favour of the Protestant Dissenters. They are still disqualified from holding any office —and are only protected from prosecution by an annual indemnity act. So that the sword of Damocles still hangs over them — not suspended indeed by a thread, but by a cart-rope — still it hangs there an insult, if not an injury, and prevents the painful idea from presenting itself to the mind of perfect toleration, and pure justice. There is the larva of tyranny, and the skeleton of malice. Now this is all we presume to ask for the Catholics — admission to Parliament, exclusion from every possible office by law, and annual indemnity for the breach of law. This is surely much more agreeable to feebleness, to littleness, and to narrowness, than to say, the Catholics are as free, and as eligible, as ourselves. The most intolerable circumstance of the Catholic dispute is, the conduct of the Dissenters. Any man may dissent from the Church of England, and preach againstit, by paying sixpence. Almost every tradesman in a market town is a preacher. It must absolutely be ride-and-tie with them; the butcher must hear the baker in the morning, and the baker listen to the butcher

in the afternoon, or there would be no congregation. We have often speculated upon the peculiar trade of the preacher from his style of action. Some have a tyingup or parcel-packing action; some strike strongly against the anvil of the pulpit ; some screw, some bore, some act as if they were managing a needle. The occupation of the preceding week can seldom be mistaken. In the country, three or four thousand Ranters are sometimes encamped, supplicating in religious platoons, or roaring psalms out of waggons. Now, all this freedom is very proper; because, though it is abused, yet in truth there is no other principle in religious matters, than to let men alone as long as they keep the peace. Yet we should imagine this unbounded licence of Dissenters should teach them a little charity towards the Catholics, and a little respect for their religious freedom. But the picture of sects is this — there are twenty fettered men in a gaol, and every one is employed in loosening his own fetters with one hand, and riveting those of his neighbour with the other. * “If, then,” says a minister of our own Church, the Reverend John Fisher, rector of Wavenden, in this county, in a sermon published some years ago, and entitled “The Utility of the Church Establishment, and its Safety consistent with Religious Freedom”—“If, then, the Protestant religion could have originally worked its way in this country against numbers, prejudices, bigotry, and interest; if, in times of its infancy, the power of the prince could not prevail against it; surely, when confirmed by age, and rooted in the affections of the people — when invested with authority, and in full enjoyment of wealth and power—when cherished by a Sovereign who holds his very throne by this sacred tenure, and whose conscientious attachment to it well warrants the title of Defender of the Faith — surely any attack upon it must be contemptible, any alarm of danger must be imaginary.”’—Iord Nugent's Letter, p. 18.

To go into a committee upon the state of the Catholic Laws is to reconsider, as Lord Nugent justly observes, passages in our domestic history, which bear date about 270 years ago. Now, what human plan, device, or invention, 270 years old, does not require reconsideration?

If a man dressed as he dressed 270 years ago, the pug

CATHOLIC QUESTION. 37

dogs in the streets would tear him to pieces. If he lived in the houses of 270 years ago, unrevised and un-/

corrected, he would die of rheumatism in a week. If he listened to the sermons of 270 years ago, he would perish with sadness and fatigue; and when a man cannot make a coat or a cheese, for 50 years together, without making them better, can it be said that laws made in those days of ignorance, and framed in the

fury of religious hatred, need no revision, and are ca

pable of no amendment 2
We have not the smallest partiality for the Catholic
religion; quite the contrary. That it should exist at
all — that all Catholics are not converted to the Pro-
testant religion – we consider to be a serious evil; but
there they are, with their spirit as strong, and their
opinions as decided, as your own; the Protestant part
of the Cabinet have quite given up all idea of putting
them to death; what remains to be done 2 We all ad-
mit the evil; the object is to make it as little as pos-
sible. One method commonly resorted to, we are sure,
does not lessen, but increase the evil; and that is, to
falsify history, and deny plain and obvious facts, to the
injury of the Catholics. No true friend to the Protest-
ant religion, and to the Church of England, will ever
have recourse to such disingenuous arts as these. -

‘Our histories have not, I believe, stated what is untrue of Queen Mary, nor, perhaps, have they very much exaggerated what is true of her; but our arguers, whose only talk is of Smithfield, are generally very uncandid in what they conceal. It would appear to be little known, that the statutes which enabled Mary to burn those who had conformed to the Church of her father and brother, were Protestant statutes, declaring the common law against heresy, and framed by her father Henry the Eighth, and confirmed and acted upon by Order of Council of her brother Edward the Sixth, enabling that mild and temperate young sovereign to burn divers misbelievers, by sentence of commissioners (little better, says Neale, than a Protestant Inquisition) appointed to “examine and search after all Anabaptists, Heretics, or contemmers of the Book of Common Prayer.” It would appear to be seldom considered, that her zeal might very possibly have been warmed by the circumstance

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »