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could flow from the pen of a Tacitus, a Juvenal, or a Junius, is not merely glossed over as pardonable, but apparently commended as meritorious: and those in whose persons the most sacred rights are violated, and who are rapaciously despoiled of their altars and their temples, are held up to reprobation as criminals: and this by writers who undeservedly enjoy a high degree of reputation.
Suppose that we admit for a moment, (and the admission must be but momentary,) that a paltry minority of a nation, two-thirteenths of the entire population,* have a right to proscribe the great majority from any particular form of worship; to inflict penalties on its exercise; and to dictate any other that may seem meet to them: suppose that the worship practised at the chapel were manifestly illegal or even suppose it were absolutely impious and idolatrous, and that, instead of worshipping the Living God, they were actually worshipping idols, the work of men's hands, that " have eyes and see not, ears and hear not.” Can there, even under all these suppositions, be a shadow of defence pretended for the choice of the time, the place, and the manner of perpetrating this abominable act of violence There was probably no other country under the canopy of heaven, but Ireland, where such odious sacrilege would have been perpetrated, or allowed to pass with impunity, under the auspices and by the direction of the government.
The intent of this base procedure is unambiguous: it speaks its true character clearly and unequivocally. It was an effort to provoke the wretched people to insurrection, in order to renew again the scenes of confiscation and proscription, which fill the sickening and heart-rending pages of the history of that ill-fated country. If this had not been the intention, the government would have let the worship pass over; waited till next day; and then proceeded against the “ idolatrous papists,” in due course of the mild laws of the country:
When the intelligence reached the court of king Charles, instead of recalling the justices, who had abused their trust by promulgating such orders, and punishing the perpetrators of the outrage, he issued a proclamation, whereby he became partíceps criminis ; and, to punish the outraged people for the guilt of their oppressors, ordered the chapel where the sacrilege had been perpetrated, to be razed to the ground, and the oppressed Catholics to be robbed of the rest of their places of worship!
** Before the war, the proportion was as two to eleven."48 + Extracts from a Letter to the Lords Justices and Council of Ire
land, dated January 31, 1629. “By your letters, we understand how the seditious riot, moved by the friars and their adherents at Dublin, hath by your good order and resolution been happily suppressed. And we doubt not but by this occasion you will consider how much it concerneth the good government of that kingdom, to prevent in time the first growing of such evils : for where such people are permitted to swarm, they will When such ruffian violence was perpetrated by a grand dignitary of the church, in the capital, by order of those who held the reins of government, and afterwards received the marked approbation of the British administration, it is easy to conceive to what extent the example must have been followed throughout the kingdom; how deplorable the situation of the Catholics; what a wretched chance of redress they had for any wrong or violence perpetrated on them; and what a loathsome tissue of fables every man, not destitute of truth, honour, honesty, or candour, must pronounce those histories, which, for the most sinister purposes, boldly state the gross, the palpable
48 Petty, 312.
0000000000 soon make their hives, and then endure no government but their own, which cannot otherwise be restrained, than by a due and seasonable execution of the laws, and such directions as from time to time have been sent from his majesty and this board.” ***
“ And such magistrates or officers, if any shall be discovered, that openly or underhand favour such disorders, or do not their duties in suppressing them, and punishing the offenders, you shall do well to take all fit
and safe advantages, by the punishment or displacing of a few, to make the rest more cautious. This we write not as misliking the fair course you have taken ; but to express the concurrence of our judgment with yours, and to assure you of our assistance on all such occasions, wherein for your further proceeding we have advised, and his majesty requireth you accordingly to take order, first, that the HOUSE WHERE SO MANY FRIARS APPEARED IN THEIR HABITS, and wherein the reverend archbishop and the mayor of Dublin received their first affront, BE SPEEDILY DEMOLISHED, and be a mark of terror to the resisters of authority: and that the rest of the houses erected or employed there or elsewhere in Ireland, to the use of superstitious societies, be converted into houses of correction, and to set idle people on work, or to other public uses, for the advancement of justice, good art, or trade.
“ And further, that you use all fit means to discover the founders, benefactors, and maintainers of such societies and colleges, and certify us their names. And that you find out the lands, leases, rents, or revenues applied to their uses, and dispose thereof according to the law. And that you certify also the places and institutions of all such monasteries, priories, nunneries, and other religious houses, and the names of all such persons as have put themselves to be brothers or sisters therein, especially such as are of note, to the end such evil plants be not permitted any more to take root in that kingdom, which we require you to take care of. Lord Keeper,
Earl of Salisbury,
Earl of Kelley,
Lord Viscount Dorchester,
Mr. Secretary Cook,
Sir William Alexander." 48
49 Rushworth, II. 33.
falsehood, that “ the whole nation,” for forty years, previous to 1641, ** enjoyed the undisturbed exercise of their religion: and even in Dublin, where the seat of the king's chief governor was, they went as publicly and as uninterruptedly to their devotions, as he went to his." This falsehood is destitute of the slightest defence or extenuation. It is not on an abstruse, doubtful, or contested point, where, even with the best intentions, error is not easily avoided, and where, of course, error is pardonable. It respects facts of the utmost notoriety, to be found by the most cursory glance on the very surface of history: and I repeat, it cannot for a moment be doubted, that lord Clarendon, when he lent the weight of his name to the story, and committed this sweeping declaration to paper, must have known that he was making an assertion utterly destitute of foundation, to blacken the already-too-much-defamed character of the persecuted, oppressed, and pillaged Roman Catholics : for it was utterly impossible for him to be so conversant with public affairs, or to have read history as he must have done, without being thoroughly acquainted with the infinite variety of pains, penalties, and disqualifications, under which the Roman Catholics laboured in both kingdoms; and which were as utterly incompatible with the state of things he depicted, as light and darkness, heat and cold, vice and virtue, are incompatible with each other.
L'Estrange is disposed to be witty on this subject. He states, that " the priests and friars were so persecuted, that two of them hanged themselves, in their own defence." This is truly a novel mode of “ self-defence.” It is, however, far more probable, and almost certain, that some bloodthirsty and fanatical ruffians, inspired by a holy abhorrence of the superstitious idolatries and abominations of popery,” and availing themselves of the infuriated spirit of the government, seized these unfortunate men privately, and hanged them up, without judge or jury. Of the sanguinary spirit of mobs and factions, when merely connived at by the constituted authorities, and still more when countenanced and excited by them, the world has had many calamitous instances, in ancient and modern times; among which the Roman proscriptions, and the Parisian Septembrization, stand preeminent. But whether those priests died by suicide or murder, is of little importance here: my object being to prove the existence of the persecution of a people, of whom, I beg leave once more to repeat, lord Clarendon and Warner made the extravagant declaration, that “no man could say that he had suffered prejudice or disturbance on account of his religion!!!”
James I. previous to his accession to the throne of England, had held out in his correspondence with the Catholic princes, in order to propitiate them, that he would relax somewhat of the rigour of the penal code against the Irish Roman Catholics,* who, shortly after his
*Some few years before queen Elizabeth's death,“ king James was at the utmost pains to gain the friendship of the Roman Catholic Princes, as a necessary precaution to facilitate his accession to the
60 Clarendon's Ireland, 8.
coronation, sent a deputation to London, to lay their grievances before him, and solicit some indulgence. Sir James Gough, one of the number, on his return to Dublin, announced that the mission had been successful ; " that the agents had been graciously received by the king; and that at his departure his majesty had commanded him to publish in all places of the realm, that he would not force their consciences, nor hinder them from keeping priests in their houses, so as they entertained none of those who maintain that the
to depose or excommunicate his majesty."51 “ This," says Carte, “ being contrary to the king's solemn declaration in England, that he would never grant any toleration to the Roman Catholics, and entailing a curse on his posterity if they granted any, and contrary likewise to the instructions and directions the state had received from the king, for ministering the oath of supremacy to the lawyers and justices of the peace, and for putting the laws against recusants in execution, the deputy reproved him for publishing so apparent an untruth, and told him he did not believe him. But Gough continuing with arrogance to justify the message, the lord deputy thought it necessary to exer. cise a wholesome and seasonable severity upon him."52 Carte does not inform us what this “ wholesome and seasonable severity” was --but we learn from Leland, that the “ deputy committed Sir James Gough close prisoner to the castle of Dublin."53
In 1627, the affairs of Charles I. were in a most deranged state. He was engaged in a war with France, deeply in debt, and much distressed for resources, which he could not prevail on Parliament to afford. In this emergency, the Irish Roman Catholics offered to support constantly five thousand foot and five hundred horse, * provided they were indulged with a mere toleration of their religion, and some other favours of minor importance.t
9900 English throne. Lord Home, who was himself a Papist, was entrusted with a secret commission to the Pope. The archbishop of Glas. gow was an active instrument with those of his own religion. The Pope expressed such favourable sentiments both of the king and of his right to the crown of England, that James thought himself bound some years after to acknowledge the obligation in a public manner. Sir James Lindsey made great progress in gaining the English Papists to acknowledge his inajesty's title."54
" It is certain that the promise king James made to Roman Catholics, was registered, and amounted so high at least as a toleration of their religion."55
*66 Towards the end of the Lord Falkland's government, (there being, great need of money for support of the standing army in Ireland, and maintaining of 500 horse and 5000 foot; much by extraordinary means having been otherwise disposed,) the Catholics of Ireland, (glad of the occasion,) seemed very forward to supply the state, in hopes of a connivance, (if not a toleration,) of their religion."'56
+ “ The toleration they desired,” according to Curry, " was no This proposition, made at a time, when, we are told, that the “Catholics enjoyed the undisturbed exercise of their religion," excited as much alarm and opposition as if the protestant religion was about to be suppressed by act of parliament. The archbishop of Armagh, the celebrated Usher, and all the other dignified clergy of the established church, with a most miserable spirit of bigotry and intolerance, worthy of that persecuting and fanatical age, but disgraceful to the actors, entered a most solemn protest* against the measure, as " an abomination and toleration of idolatry; and as being accessary to the perdition of the seduced people who perish in the deluge of the Catholic apostacy.” It is too obvious to need enforcement, that if the Catholics enjoyed the “ undisturbed exercise of their religion,” it would have been unnecessary to offer so high a price for a mere toleration: nor would the attempt to procure it have produced such a clamour.
51 Carte, I. 21.
53 Leland, II. 530. 66 Osborne, apud Curry, 1.58. 56 Borlase, 1.'
Among the grievances of the nation, the House of Commons in the year 1640, remonstrated, in a memorial “to the lord deputy
more than some respite froin the oppressions and extortions of the ecclesiastical courts; and to have all proceedings against them in those courts, for religion, suspended ; to be released from those exorbitant sums which they were obliged to pay for their christenings and marriages; and particularly to have the extravagant surplice fees of the clergy, and the extraordinary warrants for levying them, abolish
*“ The religion of the Papists is superstitious and idolatrous ; their faith and doctrine enormous and heretical ; their church, in respect to both, apostatical. To give them, therefore, a toleration, or to consent that they may freely exercise their religion, and profess their faith and doctrine, is a grievous sin, and that in two respects ; for first it is to make ourselves accessary not only to their superstitious idolatries and heresies, and in a word to all the abominations of Popery, but also, (which is a consequent of the former,) to the perdition of the seduced people which perish in the deluge of the Catholic apostacy; secondly, to grant them a toleration in respect of any money to be given or contribution to be made by them, is to set religion to sale, and with it the souls of the people, whom Christ hath redeemed with his blood. And as it is a great sin, so it is also a matter of most dangerous consequence, the consideration whereof we commit to the wise and judicious, beseeching the God of Truth to make them who are in authority, zealous of God's glory, and of the advancement of true religion ; zealous, resolute, and courageous against all Popery, superstition, and idolatry.”
James Armachanus, Andrew Alackdens,
Tho. Kilmore and Ardagh,
57 Curry, I. 109.
58 Rushworth, II. 22.