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Regium Donum which King William had bestowed on them ; harassed them in its ecclesiastical courts; and vexed them by various appliances of petty tyranny. A sermon preached before a provincial synod held at Antrim in June, 1698, by the Rev. John McBride, Presbyterian minister of Belfast, and printed shortly afterwards, gave grievous offence to many of the High Churchmen of Ulster. The discourse was a very harmless production; it was neither heretical nor inflammatory; it merely asserted that the Christian Church possesses the inherent right of self-government; but its publication was regarded as a most unwarrantable piece of presumption —more especially as the title-page stated that it had been delivered at the meeting of a Presbyterian judicatory. Walkington, the Protestant Bishop of Down and Connor, 1 complained of it to the Irish Lords Justices; Mr. McBride was summoned to the metropolis; and the Archbishop of Dublin and no less than five other prelates were present at his examination. But when the charge was shown to be frivolous, no apology was tendered to the injured pastor; and he was dismissed with an admonition to behave respectfully towards the established clergy. Mr. McBride had not long returned to Belfast when one of his brethren in a distant part of the country was singled out for prosecution. Towards the close of the year 1698, the Rev. William Biggar, Presbyterian minister of Limerick, ventured to preach by invitation in the town of Galway. No non-conformist had officiated for many years in the place; and High Churchmen denounced his appearance as tending to disturb the Protestant peace, and to divide the Protestant interest. Mr. Biggar was accordingly apprehended, taken before the Mayor, and committed to prison. The case was eventually brought under the notice of the Lords Justices; the preacher was obliged to appear in Dublin ; and it was there clearly proved that he had confined himself simply to the exposition of the Gospel ; but, though he was set at liberty, directions were given to the effect that
1 Walkington had been chaplain to the Irish House of Commons, and was indebted for the bishopric to their recommendation. He did not long survive this complaint. He was made bishop in 1695 and died in January, 1699. Cotton's Fasti, iii. 209.
2 Reid, ii. 475-8.
these pastoral visits to "the city of the tribes" must be discontinued.1
Such was the narrow spirit in which the Establishmentconstituting a mere fraction of the population-acted towards a sister Church in Ireland. King William was most desirous to protect and encourage the Presbyterians; but he was often overruled by an unfriendly Legislature; and his death was a heavy blow to the cause of civil and religious liberty.
At this time England had a splendid opportunity of realizing the scheme of a union with Ireland conceived upwards of forty years before by Oliver Cromwell. The colonial Legislature would have now hailed the proposal with the utmost cordiality. In the very commencement of the following reign the Irish House of Commons actually presented a memorial to the Crown expressing a desire for its accomplishment. Well had it been for both countries had the union been forthwith consummated. Had Ireland been admitted to free trade with England, and had the two islands been placed on the same footing in regard to commerce and navigation, both would have reaped the benefit in increased strength and prosperity. They would have been bound together by firmer ties; and identity of interests would have created identity of aims and sympathies. English capital, employed beneficially in Ireland, would have speedily elevated the western isle in the scale of civilization and of comfort. But the jealousy of England raised up difficulties in the way of the political incorporation. The merchants of Great Britain foolishly imagined that the encouragement of colonial interests would have been ruinous to their own. A navigation Act was passed by the English Parliament which completely crippled the trade of Ireland; and laws were made which well-nigh destroyed the Irish woollen manufacture.
i Reid, ii. 478-9. This order seems to have been reversed by instructions from England, as two years afterwards a Presbyterian minister was ordained over a congregation in Galway. Ibid.
? See Froude's English in Ireland, i. 302, 321. Mr. Mitchel is quite mistaken when he asserts that the Irish House of Commons "did not favour” the idea of a union. See his History of Ireland, chap. vi., p. 44. Both the Irish Houses of legislation were in its favour.
when William Molyneux-a patriotic member of the Irish House of Commons and one of the representatives of the University of Dublin-published an essay on “The case of Ireland's being bound by Acts of Parliament made in England," the British House of Commons resolved unanimously that the work was “of dangerous tendency," 1 instead of proceeding to provide a remedy for the evils it described. Thus the seeds of dissension were sown between the two countries ; the English Government managed Ireland with increasing difficulty; and, after a century of heartburnings, the union, which would now have been embraced with enthusiasm, was forced, by the dint of bribery and intimidation, on a most reluctant Irish Legislature.
1 See before vol. i., p. 437, note (3). The English Legislature had of late been making laws which were to extend to Ireland. See, as an example, an act mentioned in p. 177, note (2) of this volume. Mr. Molyneux and others held that the British Senate thus exceeded its powers. It certainly in this way practically ignored the Irish Parliament.
THE REIGN OF ANNE.
A.D. 1702 TO A.D. 1714.
The reign of Queen Anne stands out conspicuously in the annals of Ireland as the period when the system of enforcing conformity to Protestant episcopacy by pains and penalties was most artfully and completely developed. Romanists had already been excluded from seats in the legislature; the bishops now formed the working majority in the House of Lords; and as non-conformists scarcely ever amounted to more than one in thirty of the House of Commons, the High Church party had entire control over the legislation of the country. Anne was rather a weak-minded sovereign; and Irish Presbyterians, as well as Irish Romanists, immediately felt the change when she obtained possession of the sceptre. As she gave her cordial sanction to the policy of the dominant faction, the twelve years of her government form a gloomy chapter in the history of intolerance.
This princess had been little more than a fortnight on the throne, when Bishop King announced to an episcopal corre
1 The laity complained, as one of the prelates confesses, that "the bishops are already too numerous in Parliament for the lay lords there, being twenty-two bishops that generally attend the session, and seldom so many temporal lords." See Mant, ii. 285.
Mant, ii. 69. This is corroborated by Swist who, writing in 1708, says :“The number of professed Dissenters this liament was something under a dozen.” Letter concerning the sacramental test. Works, vol. iv., p. 430. London, 1801. King, writing in 1696, says :—“There were hardly ten Dissenters in the House." Letter to Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry, dated December 15th, 1696. In 1716 there were only six Dissenters in Parliament ; and, in the end of Queen Anne's reign, only four. See Froude's English in Ireland, i. 387.
spondent in London a scheme for annoying and weakening the Presbyterians. The Regium Donum of £1,200 per annum-granted to their ministers by King William-had hitherto been vested in trustees nominated by themselves, and had been distributed among them by an agent of their own appointment. The bishop now proposed that the money should be handed over to the Irish Lord Lieutenant to be used according to his discretion, and to be dispensed to the recipients so as most effectually to promote their political subserviency. “If it be thought fit," said he, "to continue the fund to them, the Government ought to keep the disposal of it in their own hands, and encourage those only by it that comply as they would have them. By which means every particular minister would be at their mercy, and it might be so managed as to be an instrument of division and jealousy amongst them.” 1
It is painful to find any man in the position of Bishop King suggesting such mean and malignant counsel. Some of the ministers whom he was thus seeking to humiliate were as faithful and even as learned as himself;? and at a time when Ireland required so urgently the services of sound Protestant divines he should have had the magnanimity to encourage them in their labours. His insidious advice, in relation to the Royal bounty, was only partially adopted ;3 and he did not cease to murmur at the continuance of the grant, and to persist in urging its withdrawal. Nor was this ungenerous interference with the Regium Donum the only way in which he attempted to vex and injure these brethren. The priests had always been permitted to unite the members of their own
1 Letter from King to Bishop of Clogher, then in London, dated March 24th, 1702. See Mant, ii. 125.
? Boyse, of Dublin, who replied to his Inventions of Men in the Worship of God, was quite his superior as a theologian, and fully equal to him as a writer and a reasoner.
3 The grant henceforth was described in the public records as “to be distributed among such of the ron-conforming ministers, by warrant from the Lord Lieutenant, or other chief governor or governors for the time being, in such manner as he or they shall find necessary for our (her Majesty's) service, or the good of the kingdom.” But, in point of fact, no change was made in the mode of its distribution. Reidl, ii. 494.