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The most superficial reader must perceive, and the most bigotted will not dare deny, that there are here most palpable contradictions that there must be egregious errors on one side or the other--that if the statements of L'Estrange, Baker, Carte, Leland, Ware and Harris be true, Temple's, lord Clarendon's, and Warner's must be utterly false. There is no other alternative. The assertion, that men who are“ indicted for not going to a church,” the doctrines of which they disapprove, and who, unless they take the oath of supremacy, which is a virtual renunciation of their religion, are expelled from the magistracy, heavily fined and thrown into prison, have " suffered no prejudice on account of their religion," is a most barefaced falsehood : and the assertion that those enjoy the undisturbed exercise of their religion," whose worship is sacrilegiously violated in the face of day-whose chalices and crucifixes are feloniously purloined—whose altar and ornaments are hewed in pieces-whose priests are banished under severe penalties, in case of return-or dragged from the altar to prison in the midst of divine service and whose churches, chapels, colleges, and convents, are seized, confiscated, or razed to the ground, is such a monstrous violation of truth, as in any other case than the history of ill-fated Ireland, would destroy the credibility of the writers for ever. No language of reprobation can be too strong to brand those, how exalted soever their sphere of life, who lent their names to such scandalous deception on the world, in a case so very plain-so unsusceptible of mistakea case involving the character of a nation, as well as the whole train of the eventful history of the succeeding half century. The history of the world, in the most fabulous era of its existence, can scarcely furnish a more miserable or deceptious literary fraud.
I say distinctly“ literary fraud"-for, with the exercise of the highest degree of charity which the case can require, it is impossible to believe that Temple or Clarendon could have been unacquainted with the circumstances stated by the other writers, and with the various proclamations issued and enforced in Ireland, during their millennium of forty years, for the banishment of the Catholic clergy, the seizure and confiscation of their churches, colleges, and conventsthe prohibition of their teaching schools, &c. &c. From one of these proclamations, I annex a few extracts. Extracts from a Proclamation by Lord Faulkland, Lord Deputy of
Ireland, dated April 1st, 1629. 6 Forasmuch as we cannot but take notice, that the late intermission of legal proceedings against Popish pretended or titulary arch
42 Leland, II. 540.
bishops, bishops, abbots, deans, vicars-general, Jesuits, friars, and others of that sort that derive their pretended authorny and orders from the see of Rome, hath bred such an extraordinary insolence and presumption in them, as that they have dared of late not only to assemble themselves in public places, to celebrate their superstitious serrices in all parts of the kingdom!!! but also have erected houses and buildings, called public oratories, colleges, mass-houses, and convents of friars, monks, and nuns, in the eye and open view of the state and elsewhere.
« These are therefore to will and require, and in his majesty's name straightly to charge and command, all and all manner of such pretended or títulary archbishops, bishops, deans, vicars-general, archdeacons, and others, deriving any pretended authority, power, or jurisdiction, from the see of Roine, that they and every of them forbear from henceforth to exercise any such power, jurisdiction, or authority, within this kingdom; and that all such abbots, priors, 'Jesuits, friars, monks, and others of that sort as aforesaid, do forthwith break
up their convents and assemblies, in all houses of friars, colleges, monasteries, and other places, wheresoever they are or shall be conventually or collegiately assembled together, within this kingdom, and to relinquish the same, and to disperse and separate themselves.
“ And that all and every of the orders before named, and other priests whatsoever, do from henceforth forbear to preach, teach, or celebrate their service, in any church, chapel, or other public oratory or place, or to teach any school, in any place or places whatsoever within the said kingdom!!!
* And we do further charge and command all and singular the owners of such houses of friars, colleges, monasteries, schools, oratories, mass-houses, and nunneries, that they, and every of them respectively, in default of the persons before-named, their voluntary relinquishing of the said houses of friars, colleges, monasteries, schools, oratories, mass-houses, and nunneries, do forthwith expel and thrust forth all and singular such friars, Jesuits, and other monastical persons, out of the same; and do convert the game to more lawful uses, upon pain to have their said houses seized upon to his majesty's use; and both the one and the other to be proceeded against for their una lawful assemblies, and maintenance of such unlawful conventicles and corrupt nurture of children, in the severest manner that by the laws and statutes of this kingdom, and ecclesiastical government of the same, may be had or extended!!! whereof they and every of them are to take notice, and to yield due obedience thereunto, as they and every of them will avoid his majesty's high indignation, and the consequence thereof."43
This proclamation goes the full length of suppressing the public exercise of the Roman Catholic religion altogether : for their priests were prohibited from “ celebrating their service in any church, chapel, or other public oratory or place whatever.”
And to aggravate the severity of this proceeding, the proclamation was calculated to barbarize the nation, by debarring the great body of
45 Rushworth, II, 21.
them of education, and thus bringing them up in brutal ignorance. The priests, who were at that period almost the only schoolmasters in the kingdom, were prohibited from " teaching school, in any place or places whatsoever in the said kingdom.” The mind sickens in tracing such constant, unvarying scenes of rapine, wickedness, and tyranny, unrelieved by any thing that can afford consolation on reflexion, or redeem the character of the government from richlyearned execration.
Extract of " a letter from the lord deputy Wentworth, to the lord primate and the rest of the commissioners for ecclesiastical causes, June 2, 1636-Whereas the whole clergy of this kingdom, in convocation assembled, did present their humble petition, amongst other things, that all popish schoolmasters might be suppressed, that inquiry should be made by fit commissioners into the abuses of free schools, and to give speedy order for the reformation of them; that whereas frequent burials in abbeys is an occasion of the great neglect and contempt of parish churches, and mainly prejudicial to the clergy, some good course might be taken to restrain that abuse by act of state, we have thought fit not only to testify our approbation thereof, but also to desire you, as those to whose care it most particularly belongs, to take the same into your serious consideration, and we do hereby require and authorize you to advise of some good means whereby the said abuses may be prevented in future."44
Dr. Leland, discussing the oppressions and penalties which the Roman Catholics suffered, reasons with great sang froid on the folly of their subjecting themselves to such disadvantages, and appears to believe that there is no more difficulty in a change of religion, than in a change of the fashion of dress. He very philosophically states, that "men whose religious principles expose them to grievous disadvantages in society, are particularly bound to examine those principles with care and accuracy, lest they sacrifice the interests of themselves and their posterity to an illusion."
This is iniserable cant, which applies with equal force and propriety to the case of all persecutors, of all ages and every country. Dioclesian, Nero, Mahomet, Lauderdale, or Dalhousie, might with equal propriety have held the same language to the unhappy objects on whom they wreaked their vengeance, as the Irish government. They might have said, while they were preparing their stakes and their flames, or about to shoot down their victims, “ You ought to examine with care and accuracy those principles which expose you to grievous disadvantages, and not to sacrifice your own interests, and those of your posterity, to an illusion.” The idea of an entire nation laying aside as illusions, religious opinions imbibed in infancy, and a form of worship to which they had been accustomed through life, and the attachment to which “grew with their growth,” would never have entered into the mind of any man who was not temporarily a dotard ; and whatever might have been the ordinary range of Dr. Leland's mind, he must at that moment have been in a state of dotage.
In one of the preceding extracts from Leland, we are informed that
44 Strafford, U. 7.
45 Leland, II. 517.
the Roman Catholics “ earnestly intreated for even a temporary relaxation of the penal laws"-offering as a boon “two, three, or even four subsidies." Yet this is during a period in which Clarendon and Warner both declare that no man could say that she had suffered any prejudice or disturbance on account of his religion !" If the Catholics enjoyed the free exercise of their religion-if they suffered no “prejudice or disturbance on account of it," such an application was a work of extreme supererogation. But they were, forsooth, so prodigal of their wealth, that they were willing to lavish it most extravagantly for the removal of evils which did not exist!
In the same spirit of delusion, he states, that the result of their application was to produce “a general, cautious, and moderate execution of those statutes."
We have fully seen how very “ moderate” was the execution of those statutes—that the Roman Catholics were subject to frequent indictments, enormous fines, to the seizure of their churches, to the banishment of their clergy, imprisonment, and exclusion from office! This is what the veracious historian calls a “moderate execution of those statutes."
It is impossible to read, without indignation, the manner in which the flagitious attack on the congregation in Cook-street, the narrative of which is quoted above from L'Estrange, is noticed by Carte and Leland. The former states that the recusants * took greater liberties, in contempt of the laws, “ than either the state could indulge them with safety to its reputation, or themselves practise consistent with the rules of prudence. Not content with the enjoyment of their religion, the celebration of the mass, and the exercise of ecelesiastical jurisdiction in a private and modest way, in which they were connived at by the government, they would needs do all this in an open and public manner. They frequented their religious meetings and masses as constantly and with as much confidence as the protestants did their churches. And when the magistrates, offended with too open an insult to their authority, offered to apprehend the officiating priest, he was rescued by the multitude in a tumultuous manner even at Dublin, under the very nose of the government, with horrid affronts to the archbishop and mayor of the city:??:&
It is difficult to conceive of a stronger instance of historical chicane than is here displayed; and it is a fair specimen of the man in which Irish history is generally written. The enormities perpetrated on the Irish are softened down or palliated, and most of them wholly omitted ; while the magnifying powers of the microscope, or the inventive talents of Munchausen, are applied to depict the Irish as objects of abhorrence. Had the Roman Catholics been engaged in some dangerous conspiracy to subvert the government; or in the act of enlisting soldiers for that purpose; or had they in preparation some “ infernal machine" to blow up the castle, it might be said, that " they took greater liberties than the state could indulge them in." But to use such language, to mark with reprobation the mere act of assembling peaceably to worship God in the manner practised in their country, and throughout the whole of Christendom, for ages,
46 Carte, I. 53.
displays a most disgraceful illiberality: and to feign such strong setsibilities for the “ horrid affront” put upon a mitred ruffian,* who was resisted in a sacrilegious attack upon the altars of the Living God, is inexpressibly disgusting; and in any independent court of literature, would be sufficient to have the writer expelled from the honourable corps of historians.
Leland informs us, that the incident,” (that is, the attack on the priest, the altar, and the congregation, and the resistance on the part of the Catholics,) “was represented in England in the most offensive manner, and seemed to reproach that mistaken lenity which had encouraged the recusants to this outrage:" that is, gentle reader, “ thế outrage" of repelling a savage assault, which would have disgraced a gang of Algerines or Ostrogoths. “It was deemed neither safe nor politic to connive at such insolence! By an order of the English council, fifteen religious houses were seized to the king's use: and the popish college, erected in Dublin, was assigned to the university, which for the present converted it into a protestant seminary."
Such is the miserable manner in which the hotch potch, palmed on the world as history, is written. An outrage which imperiously required the most glowing language of abhorrence and reprobation, that
* The “horrid affront” on a mitred ruffian. This style of expression towards so elevated a character as an archbishop, will offend the eyes and ears of some delicate readers, who will regard it as shocking and indecorous. But I have not lightly adopted it. I have well weighed the matter, before I determined to use it; and, instead of any apology, make no scruple to avow, that did the English language afford terms of reprobation stronger and more significant, but not scurrilous, I should have used them. If an archbishop, a governor, a president, a king, or an emperor, be not ashamed to act like a ruffian, ought we to be either afraid or ashamed to style him a ruffian? Whatever scruples others may have on this subject, I have none. I have called, and shall continue to call, throughout this work, men and things by their proper names, regardless of titles or dignities: and, believing that the crime here perpetrated was only second to murder, and that none but a ruffian would contemplate, none, but a ruffian order, and none but a ruffian undertake its commission, I unhesitatingly incur the responsibility of designating it by its peculiarly appropriate phrase. Indeed, the higher, the more exalted the perpetrator, the more justice and propriety there is in marking the deed with the strongest language. Can any terms be too strong to stamp the guilt of a minister of the Living God, leading a furious mob to destroy the altars of that Living God? “A ruffian,” according to Sheridan, is “ a brutal, boisterous, mischievous fellow!" And would any but a most “brutal, boisterous, mischievous fellow,” head a licentious band of mercenary soldiers, in an attack upon an unarmed and defenceless body of men, women, and children, in the solemn act of worshipping the Living God, or deface and destroy his altars, and d'urloin the ornaments consecrated to his worship?
47 Leland, IIr. 8.