Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

king. This monarch's life was twice attempted, the first time in 1593 by Barriere, and it was then asserted that the Jesuits were the instigators of the attempt. The king, however, bore testimony to the falsity of this assertion, for he plainly told the president de Harlay, that it was from a Jésuit he had information of the plot against him, and that a Jesuit had used all the influence he possessed to persuade the assassin from his purpose, assuring him that he would be damned if he took it in hand. The wretch himself declared, both on the rack and on the scaffold, that he had no accomplice. Besides, taking the circumstances in which the Jesuits then stood in France, nothing but the blindest bigotry and prejudice could induce any one to think of charging the Jesuits with the murder of Henry IV. That religious order of men had been banished the kingdom by the parliaments, for some imputed offence, and Henry had just recalled them in opposition to the parliament: now, does it stand to reason, that men would lift up their hands and embrue them with the blood of their best friend and protector? The story may do for the ignorant and bloated bigot, but the man of common sense will never give credit to it. The English Puritans, however, took the advantage of the then state of the press and the public mind to represent the assassination as having been committed through the instigation of the Jesuits, and a proclamation was issued by our James the first, banishing every one of that religious order and all Catholic priests out of this kingdom.

The death of Henry IV. made way for Louis XIII. his son, who being a minor, the kingdom, we are told, "was nominally governed by “ the queen mother, but really by her minion, cardinal Richelieu, a man “ of great abilities, which were unhappily perverted to the worst pur

poses. He was cruel, bigotted, tyrannical, rapacious, and sensual ; “ he trampled on the civil and religious liberties of France; and hesi“ tated not to accomplish his intentions by the most barbarous and in“ famous methods." Here is a character for poor cardinal Richelieu ! but we do not wonder at the picture, as we are subsequently informed that when the mild and meek Hugonots resolved to take up ARMS and FIGHT like warriors, not preach like apostles, for their new-fangled theories, this cardinal-minister defeated all their enterprizes, and caused the walls and fortifications of their chief town, Rochelle, to be destroyed. This success on his part was quite sufficient to earn him so good a name from the advocates of these fighting religionists. The narrator next says :

During the fifty years which succeeded the reduction of Rochelle, the Protestants suffered every indignity, injustice, and cruelty, which their barbarous persecutors could de. vise. They were at the mercy of every petty despot, who, 'drest in a little brief authority,' wished to gratify their malice, or signalize the season of his power, by punishing the heretics, and evincing his attachment to thie infallible church. The consequences of this may easily be imagined; every petty vexation which can render private life miserable, every species of plunder and extortion, and every wanton exertion of arbitrary power, were employed to harrass and molest the Protestants of all nks, sexes, and ages. At length, in 1684, the impious and blasphemous tyrant Louis XIV. who, in imitation of the worst Roman emperors, wished to receive divine honours, and was flattered by his abject courtiers into the belief that he was more than buman, determined to establish his claim to the title of le grand, which their fulsome adulation had bestowed on him, by the extirpation of the heretics from his dominions. Pretending, however, to wish for their conversion to the true faith, he gave them the alternative of voluntarily becoming papists, or being compelled to it. On their refusal to apostatize, they were dragooned ; that is, the dragoons, the most ruffianly and barbarous of his Christian majesty's troops, were qnartered upon them, with orders to live at discretion. Their ideas of discretion inay easily be conceived, and accordingly the unhappy Protestants were exposed to every species of suffering, which lust, avarice, cruelty, bigotry, and brutality, can engender in the breasts of an ignorant, depraved, and infuriated soldiery, absolved from all restraint, and left to the diaboli. cal promptings of their worst passions, whose fames were fanned by the assu cances of the bishops, priests, and friars, that they were fulfilling sacred duty, by punishing the enemies of God and religion !”.

He then goes on to state that more than five hundred thousand persons escaped or were banished ; that those who either were purposely detained, or were unable to escape, were condemned to the gallies, and chained, and imprisoned, and marched from one end of the kingdom to the other ; till at length “the Lord (Oh ! bless the cant) of his infinite mercy,” raised up a deliverer in the person of queen Anno of England, who interfered in their favour, and Lewis in a fright released the captives from their sufferings.

We have not space to enter into a minute refutation of the barefaced falsehoods contained in this narration; nor is it necessary, as the whole is evidently a piece of exaggeration carrying its own refutation. We shall therefore content ourselves with giving a testimony on the other side of the question, and leave the decision with the public. Fox endeavours to make the revocation of the edict to arise from religious motives, whereas it was occasioned by the rebellious proceedings and disposition of the Hugonots. That the French government were desirous they should be converted from the restless doctrines of Calvinism there can be no doubt, but the mode adopted, and the revocation of the edict of Nantes, is very differently related by Proyart, in his Life of the Dauphin, father to Louis XV. and son to the revoker of the edict. This author gives a letter from the Dauphin on this very subject, in which the prince says :

“ I shall not detail that chain of enormities, which have been consigned, in so many authentic records, those secret assemblies, those oaths of confederation, those leagues with foreign powers, those refusals to pay the public taxes, those seditious threats, those open conjurations, those sackings and börnings of towns, those masssacres in cold blood, those assaults upon the kings' persons, those multifarious and unheard of sacrileges. It is suf. ficient to say, that, from Francis I. down 10 our days, that is, under sever: conseeutive reigns, all those evils have desolated the kingdom, with more or less fury. This is the historical fact, which may be loaded with a variety of incidents, but the substance of which cannot be denied, nr called in question. Now, if the prince has not the right of commanding the conscience, he has that at least of providing for the safety of the state, and of chaining down fanaticism, which threatens to introduce anarchy and confusion. Although the king knew well enough, that the Hugunots had nothing for the primordial titles of their privi. leges, but injustice and violence; although their late infractions of the edicts appeared to him a sufficient reason to deprive them of the legal existence, which they had invaded in arms, yet his majesty wished to take counsel. Among other things, it was objected, that the Hugunots, depending upon the assistance of the princes of their religion, might possibly take up arms, &c. The king answered, he was prepared for the worst ; that nothing would be more painful to him, than being forced to shed a single drop of the blood of his subjects ; but that he had armies, and good generals, and would employ them in case of necessity against rebels, who wished to bring destruction upon their own heads. The suppressiou of the edict was agreed upon unanimously. 'The king, who always wished to , treat his most disaffected subjects, as a pastor, and a father, neglected no measures that could win their hearts, and, at the same time, reinove their ignorance. He granted pen. sions, distributed alms, established missions caused books to be circulated, both for the use

of the illiterate and the learned. Success attended the wisdom of his measures. And though it should seem, if credit were given to the infuriated declamations of some of the Hugunot ministers, that the king had armed one half of his subjects, to slaughter the other half; yet the truth is, that every thing passed to the great satisfaction of the king, without effusion of blood, and without disturbance. The most seditious, stunned by this vigorous blow, sbewed thrmselves the most tractable of all. As to those who were more tenacious of eir erroneous tenets, they left 'the kingdom, and took away with them the seeds of all our civil wars.' The prince adds, that although the number of the Hugunots, who went out of France, at this time should amount, according to the inost exaggegerated accounts, to 67,732 persons, including all ages and sexes,--their retreat did not cost the state so many useful members as would have been snatched away by one single year of civil war.

The whole account of this imputed persecution is false and garbled. The excesses which were committed on the Hugonots some time after the revocation of the edict had been executed, were occasioned by the turbulent conduct of the Hugonots themselves. The "plain Christians” extol queen Anne "for her Christian interference in their favour ;" but they forget that this queen was one of the most cruel persecutors of her own Catholic subjects that ever filled the throne of England. The revocation of the edict of Nantes is a favourite theme with the partisans of Protestantism and intolerance, but they carefully conceal the perfidious and disgraceful violation of the treaty of Limerick by William III. and his ministers, before the ink was dry on the parchment which contained the contract. This treaty was made with the Catholics of Ireland under the walls of Limerick, by which the Catholics surrendered up the country to the new monarch, who pledged himself that the Catholics should have perfect liberty of conscience, and the exercise of their civil rights in common with their Protestant brethren, The treaty received the sanction of the great seal of England; yet two months had not elapsed before it was infringed by the Protestant contractors in the face of the whole world; while the Catholics rigidly adhered to its stipulations. Nay, the very pulpits were made instrumental' to justify the violation of the treaty, and a Bishop of Meath was not ashamed to preach that faith was not to be kept with Catholics. This breach of a solemn engagement was followed up by the enactment of the most cruel and.oppressive laws the ingenuity of man could invent to harrass and persecute his fellow man.

An act was passed to prevent Catholics from being educated. Another was passed to disarm them. A third to banish the clergy out of the kingdom. By a fourth Protestants were prevented from intermarrying with Catholics ; and others still more severe followed upon the unhappy sufferers under “Protestant-ascendency.'

When Anne came to the crown new crimes and new sufferings were prepared for the Catholics. They were deprived of their paternal inheritances, and prevented from acquiring an inch of land in the kingdom. The late Mr. Edmund Burke, in his Letter to Sir Hercules Langrishe, alluding to the cruelty of the penal code under which the Catholics groaned, says,

“ You abhorred it, as I did, for its vicious perfection. For I must do it justice. It was a complete system, full of coherence “ and consistency, well digested and well composed in all its parts. It

was a machine of wise and elaborate contrivance, and as well fitted " for the OPPRESSION, IMPOVERISHMENT, and DEGRADATION ós of a people, and the debasement in them of human nature itself, as ever “ proceeded from the perverted ingenuity of man." In short, during this queen's reign, who is lauded by the "few plain Christians," for her merciful interference in favour of the rebellious Hugonots, the legislature was chiefly occupied in devising persecuting statutes to extirpate Popery, as Catholicism was called, and encouraging magistrates and informers to put these cold blooded laws into force. On the 17th of March, 1704, the Irish Parliament resolved unanimously that all magistrates and other persons whatsoever, who neglected or omitted to put the laws against Catholics in due execution, were betrayers of the liberties of the kingdom. And they moreover resolved that the PERSECUTING and INFORMING against Papists, was an HONOURABLE service to Government. The better, too, to encourage the trade, 501. was the price offered for a bishop or archbishop's head; 201. for that of a priest; and 10l. for that of a Catholic school-master, usher, or private tutor. “Charity," says the proverb," begins at home," and we think it would be well if the “few plain Christians" were to set about verifying it. They have shewn a wonderful degree of sympathy for the people of every nation and clime, but those of their own country, who differ from them in religious opinions, and prefer the old faith to new theories. For the fanatics who carried fire and sword into the heart of their native land, they can spare all the milk of human kindness, but not a drop can be spared for the Catholics of England and Ireland.Though groaning under laws the most barbarous and brutal ; though placed worse in their native land, than the black slaves in the West Indies, no sympathetic sigh is offered for their suffering condition, but they have to bear insult, reproach, invective and calumny, as well as the most cruel privation of civilized rights. The supposed persecution of Protestants has been the constant theme of Englishmen; every stratagem has been devised to excite hatred against the Catholies as persecutors from principle, while the statute books of England and Ireland exhibit a continued catalogue of the most remorseless and barbarous laws invented and passed to persecute and oppress the Catholics, for no other cause than their adhering from conscientious motives to the faith taught by the apostles and primitive fathers. What hypocrisy and inconsistency.

We now close the first volume of our labours, having noticed the most prominent historical facts touched upon by Fox as regards foreign countries, and proved them, in almost every case, to have been misstated, falsified, or corrupted. Our next volume will be devoted to an examination of Fox's account of the Reformation in England, and the Persecutions which, he says, preceded it. This is a point of history peculiarly interesting to the reader, and we shall endeavour to illustrate it to the best of our ability.

END OF VOLUME THE FIRST.

12

plena

« ForrigeFortsæt »