The Protestant Reformation by William Cobbett -- LETTER XII

LETTER XII

ACCESSION OF JAMES I.
HORRID PERSECUTION OF THE CATHOLICS.
GUNPOWDER PLOT.
CHARLES I. QUALIFIED FOR THE RANK OF MARTYR.
"REFORMATION" THE SECOND, OR "THOROUGH GODLY REFORMATION."
CHARLES II. THE PLOTS AND INGRATITUDE OF HIS REIGN.
JAMES II.. HIS ENDEAVOURS TO INTRODUCE GENERAL TOLERATION.
DAWN OF "GLORIOUS" REVOLUTION.

Kensington, 31st October, 1825.

My FRIENDS,

350. IN the foregoing Letters, it has been proved, beyond all contradiction, that the "Reformation," as it is called; was, "engendered in beastly lust, brought forth in hypocrisy and perfidy, and cherished and fed by rivers of "innocent English and Irish blood." There are persons who publish what they call answers to me: but these answers (Which I shall notice again before I have done) all blink the main subject: they dwell upon what their authors assert to be errors in the Catholic Religion; this they do, indeed, without attempting to show how that Protestant Religion, which has about forty different sects, each at open war with all the rest, can be free from error; but, do they deny, that this new religion began in beastly lust, hypocrisy and perfidy; and do they deny, that it was established by plunder, by tyranny, by axes, by gallowses, by gibbets and by racks? Do they face with a direct negative either of these important propositions? No: there are the facts before them; there is the history; and (which they cannot face with a negative) there are the Acts of Parliament, written in letters of blood, and some of these remaining in force, to trouble and torment the people and to endanger the State, even to the present day. What do these answerers do, then? Do they boldly assert, that beastly lust, hypocrisy, perfidy, that the practice of plunder, that the use of axes, gallowses, gibbets and racks, are good things, and outward signs of inward evangelical purity and grace? No: they give no answer at all upon these matters; but rail against the personal character of priests and cardinals and popes, and against rites and ceremonies and articles of faith and rules of discipline, matters with which I have never meddled, and which have very little to do with my subject, my object, as the title of my work expresses, being to "show, that the 'Reformation' has impoverished and degraded the main body of the people of England and Ireland." I have shown that this change of religion was brought about by some of the worst, if not the very worst, people, that ever breathed: I have shown that the means were such as human nature revolts at; so far I can receive no answer from men not prepared to deny the authenticity of the statute- book; it now remains for me to show, from the same sources, the impoverishing and degrading consequences of this change of religion, and that, too, with regard to the nation as a whole, as well as with regard to the main body of the people.

351. But, though we have now seen the Protestant religion established, completely established, by the gibbets, the racks and the ripping knives, I must, before I come to the impoverishing and degrading consequences, of which I have just spoken, and of which I shall produce the most incontestable proofs; I must give an account of the proceedings of the Reformation-people after they had established the system. The present Letter will show us the Reformation producing a second, and that, too (as every generation is wiser than the preceding), with "vast improvements;" the first being only "a godly Reformation," while the second we shall find to be "a thorough godly" one. The next (or thirteenth) Letter will introduce us to a third Reformation, commonly called the "glorious" Reformation, or revolution. The 14th Letter will give us an account of events still greater; namely, the American Reformation, or revolution, and that of the French. All these we shall trace back to the first Reformation as clearly as any man can trace the branches of a tree back to its root. And, then we shall in the remaining Letter, or Letters, see the fruit in the immorality, crimes, poverty and degradation of the main body of the people. It will be curious to behold the American and French Reformations, or revolutions, playing back the principles of the English Reformation-people upon themselves; and, which is not less curious, and much more interesting, to see them force the Reformation-people to begin to cease to torment the Catholics, whom they had been tormenting without mercy for more than two hundred years.

352. The "good and glorious and maiden" and racking and ripping-up Betsy, who, amongst her other "godly" deeds, granted to her minions, to whom there was no longer church-plunder to give, monopolies of almost all the necessaries of life, so that salt, for instance, which used to be about 2d. a bushel, was raised to 15s. or about seven pounds of our present money; the "maiden" Betsy, who had, as Witaker says, expired in sulky silence as to her successor, and had thus left a probable civil war as a legacy of mischief, was, however, peaceably succeeded by JAMES I., that very child of whom poor Mary Stuart was pregnant, when his father Henry Stuart, Earl of Darnley, and associates, murdered RIZZIO in her presence, as we have seen in paragraph 308 , and which child, when he came to man's estate, was a Presbyterian, was generally a pensioner of Bess, abandoned his mother to Bess's wrath, and, amongst his first acts in England, took by the hand, confided in and promoted, that CECIL, who was the son of the Old Cecil, who did, indeed, inherit the great talents of his father, but who had also been, as all the world knew, the deadly enemy of this new King's unfortunate mother.

353. like all the Stuarts, except the last, was at once prodigal and mean, conceited and foolish, tyrannical and weak; but the staring feature of his character was insincerity. It would be useless to dwell in the detail on the measures of this contemptible reign, the prodigalities and debaucheries and silliness of which did, however, prepare the way for that rebellion and that revolution, which took place in the next, when the double-distilled "Reformers" did, at last, provide a "martyr" for the hitherto naked pages of the Protestant Calendar. Indeed, this reign would, as far as my purposes extend, be a complete blank, were it not for; that "gunpowder plot," which alone has caused this Stuart to he remembered, and of which, seeing that it has been, and is yet, made a source of great and general delusion, I shall take much more notice than it would otherwise be entitled to.

354. That there was a plot in the year 1605 (the second year after James came to the throne), the object of which was to blow up the King and both Houses of Parliament, on the first day of the session; that Catholics, and none but Catholics, were parties to this plot; that the conspirators were ready to execute the deed; and that they all avowed this to the last; are facts which no man has ever attempted to deny, any more than any man has attempted to deny that the parties to the Cato-street plot did really intend to cut off the heads of Sidmouth and Castlereagh, which intention was openly avowed by these parties from first to last, to the officers who took them, to the judge who condemned them, and to the people who saw their heads severed from their bodies.

355. But, as the Parliamentary Reformers in general were most falsely and basely accused of instigating to the commission of the last mentioned intended act, so were the Catholics in general, and so are they to this day, not less falsely and less basely accused of instigating to the intended act of 1605. But, as to the conspirators themselves; as to the extent of their crime, are we wholly to leave out of our consideration the provocation they had received? To strike a man is an assault; to kill a man is murder; but, are striking and killing always assault and murder? Oh, no; for we may justifiably assault and kill a robber or a house breaker. The Protestant writers have asserted two things; first, that the Catholics in general instigated to, or approved of, the gunpowder plot; and, second, that this is a proof of the sanguinary principles of their religion. As to the first, the contrary was fully and judicially proved to be the fact; and, as to the second, supposing the conspirators to have had no provocation, those of Cato-street were not Catholics at any rate, nor were those Catholics who qualified Charles I., for a post in the Calendar, and that, too, observe, after he had acknowledged his errors, and had made compensation to the utmost of his power.

356. However, these conspirators had provocation: and now let us see what that provocation was. The King, before he came to the throne, had promised to mitigate the penal laws, which, as we have seen, made their lives a burden. Instead of this, those laws were rendered even more severe than they had been in the former reign. Every species of insult as well as injury which the Catholics had had to endure under the persecutions of the Established Church was now heightened by that leaven of Presbyterian malignity and ferocity, which England had now imported from the North, which had then poured forth upon this devoted country endless hordes of the most greedy and rapacious and insolent wretches that God had ever permitted to infest and scourge the earth. We have seen, in paragraphs 340 , 341 , 342 , 343 , 344 , how the houses of conscientious Catholic gentlemen were rifled, how they were rummaged, in what constant dread these unhappy men lived, how they were robbed of their estates as a punishment for recusancy and other things called crimes; we have seen, that, by the fines, imposed on these accounts, the ancient gentry of England, whose families had, for ages, inhabited the same mansions and had been venerated and beloved for their hospitality and charity; we have seen how all these were gradually sinking into absolute beggary in consequence of these exorbitant extortions; but, what was their lot now! The fines, as had been the practice, had been suffered to fall in arrear, in order to make the fined party more completely at the mercy of the Crown; and JAMES, whose prodigality left him not the means of gratifying the greediness of his Scotch minions out of his own exchequer, delivered over the English Catholic gentry to these rapacious minions, who, thus clad with royal authority, fell, with all their well-known hardness of heart, upon the devoted victims, as the kite falls upon the defenceless dove. They entered their mansions, ransacked their closets, drawers and beds, seized their rent-rolls, in numerous instances drove their wives and children from their doors, and, with all their native upstart insolence, made a mockery of the ruin and misery of the uoffending persons whom they had despoiled.

357. Human nature gave the lie to all preachings of longer passive obedience, and, at last, one of these oppressed and insulted English gentlemen, ROBERT CATESBY, of Northamptonshire, resolved on making an attempt to deliver himself and his suffering brethren from this almost infernal scourge. But, how was he to obtain the means? From abroad, such was the state of things; no aid could possibly be hoped for. Internal insurrection was, as long as the makers and executors of the barbarous laws remained, equally hopeless. Hence he came to the conclusion, that to destroy the whole of them afforded the only hope of deliverance; and to effect this there appeared to him no other way than that of blowing up the parliament-house when, on the first day of the session, all should be assembled together. He soon obtained associates; but, in the whole, they amounted to only about thirteen; and all, except three or four, in rather obscure situations in life, amongst whom was GUY FAWKES, a Yorkshireman who had served as an officer in the Flemish wars. He it was, who undertook to set fire to the magazine, consisting of two hogsheads and thirty-two barrels of gunpowder; he it was, who, if not otherwise to be accomplished, had resolved to blow himself up along with the persecutors of his brethren; he it was, who, on the 5th of November, 1605, a few hours only before the Parliament was to meet, was seized in the vault, with two matches in his pocket and a dark lantern by his side, ready to effect his tremendous purpose; he it was, who, when brought before the King and Council, replied to all their questions with defiance; he it was, who, when asked by a Scotch Lord of the Council, why he had collected so many barrels of gunpowder, answered, "To blow you Scotch beggars back to your native mountains," and, in this answer, proclaimed to the world the true immediate cause of this memorable conspiracy; an answer, which, in common justice, ought to be put into the mouth of those effigies of him, which crafty knaves induce foolish boys still to burn on the 5th of November. JAMES (whose silly conceit made him an author) was just, in one respect, at any rate. In his works, he called FAWKES, "the English SCÆVOLA"; and history tells us that that famous Roman, having missed his mark in endeavouring to kill a tyrant, who had doomed his country to slavery, thrust his offending hand into a hot fire, and let it burn, while he looked defiance at the tyrant.

358. Catesby and the other conspirators were pursued; he and three of his associates died with arms in their hands fighting against their pursuers. The rest of them (except Gresham, (who was poisoned in prison) were executed, and also the famous Jesuit, GARNET, who was wholly innocent of any crime connected with the conspiracy, and who, having come to a knowledge of it, through the channel of confession, had, on the contrary, done everything in his power to prevent the perpetrating of its object. He was sacrificed to that unrelenting fanaticism, which, encouraged by this and other similar successes, at last, as we are soon to see, cut off the head of the son and successor of this very King. The King and Parliament escaped from feelings of humanity in the conspirators. Amongst the disabilities imposed on the Catholics, they had not yet, and were not until the reign of Charles II., shut out of Parliament. So that, if the House were blown up, Catholics, Peers and Members, would have shared the fate of the Protestants. The conspirators could not give warning to the Catholics without exciting suspicions. They did give such warning where they could; and this led to the timely detection; otherwise the whole of the two Houses, and the King along with them, would have been blown to atoms; for, though CECIL evidently knew of the plot long before the time of intended execution; though he took care to nurse it till the moment of advantageous discovery arrived; though he was, in all probability, the author of a warning letter, which, being sent anonymously to a Catholic nobleman, and communicated by him to the Government, became the ostensible cause of the timely discovery; notwithstanding these well- attested facts, it by no means appears, that the plot originated with him, or, indeed, with any body but CATESBY, of whose conduct men will judge differently according to the difference in their notions about passive obedience and non- resistance.

359. This would be enough. of the famous gunpowder plot; but, since it has been ascribed to bloody-mindedness, as the natural fruit of the Catholic religion; since, in our COMMON PRAYER-BOOK, we are taught, in addressing God, to call all Catholics indiscriminately, "our cruel and blood-thirsty enemies," let us see a little what Protestants have attempted, and done, in this blowing-up way. This King James, as he himself averred, was nearly being assassinated by his Scotch Protestant subjects, Earl GOWRY and his associates; and, after that, narrowly escaped being blown up, with all his attendants, by the furious Protestant burghers of Perth. See COLLIER's Church History, vol. ii. p. 663, and 664. Then again the Protestants, in the Netherlands, formed a plot to blow up their governor, the Prince of Parma, with all the nobility and magistrates of those countries, when assembled in the city of Antwerp. But the Protestants did not always fail in their plots, nor were those who engaged in them obscure individuals. Fur, as we have seen in paragraph 310 , this very King James's father, the King of Scotland, was, in 1567, blown up by gunpowder and thereby killed. This was doing the thing effectually. Here was no warning given to anybody; and all the attendants and servants, of whatever religion and of both sexes, except such as escaped by mere accident, were remorselessly murdered along with their master. And who was this done by? By "blood-thirsty Catholics?" No; but by the lovers of the "Avangel," as the wretches called themselves; the followers of that KNOX, to whom a monument has just been erected, or is now erecting at Glasgow. The conspirators, on this occasion, were not thirteen obscure men, and those, too, who had received provocation enough to make men mad; but a body of noblemen and gentlemen, who really had received no provocation at all from MARY STUART, to destroy whom was more the object than it was to destroy her husband. Let us take the account of these conspirators in the words of WITAKER; and, let the reader recollect, that WITAKER, who published his book in 1790, was a parson of the Church of England, Rector of Ruhan-Lanyhorne in Cornwall, and that he was amongst those clergymen who were most strenuously opposed to the rites and ceremonies and tenets of the Catholic Church: but he was a truly honest man, a most zealous lover of truth and hater of injustice. Hear this staunch Church-Parson, then, upon the subject of this Protestant Gunpowder-Plot, concerning which he had made the fullest inquiry and collected together the clearest evidence. He (Vindication, of Mary, Queen of Scots, vol. iii. p. 235,) says, in speaking of the Plot, "The guilt of this wretched woman, ELIZABETH, and the guilt of that wretched man, CECIL, appear too evident, at last, upon the far of the whole. Indeed, as far as we can judge of the matter, the whole disposition of the murderous drama was this. The whole was originally planned and devised betwixt Elizabeth, Cecil, Morton and Murray; and the execution committed to Lethington, Bothwell, and Balfour; and Elizabeth, we may be certain, was to defend the original and more iniquitous part of the conspirators, Morton and Murray, in charging their own murder upon the innocent Mary." Did hell itself, did the devil, who was, as LUTHER himself says, so long the companion and so often the bed-fellow of this first "Reformer," ever devise wickedness equal to this Protestant plot? Let us hear no more, then, about the blood-thirstiness of the Catholic religion; and, if we must still have our 5th of November, let the "moral" disciples of KNOX, the inhabitants of "Modern Athens," have their tenth of February. Let them, too, (for it was Protestants that did the deed) have their 30th of January, the anniversary of the killing of the son of this same King James. Nobody knew better than James himself the history of his father's and his mother's end. He knew that they had both been murdered by Protestants, and that, too, with circumstances of atrocity quite unequalled in the annals of human infamy; and there fore he himself was not for vigorous measures against the Catholics in general, on account of the plot; but love of plunder in his minions prevailed over him; and now began to blaze, with fresh fury, that Protestant Reformation spirit, which, at last, gave him a murdered son and successor, as it had already given him a murdered father and mother.

360. CHARLES I., who came to the throne on the death of his father, in 1625, with no more sense and with a stronger tincture of haughtiness and tyranny than his father, seemed to wish. to go back, in church matters, towards the Catholic rites and ceremonies, while his parliaments and people were every day becoming more and more puritanical. Divers were the grounds of quarrel between them, but the great ground was that of religion. The Catholics were suffering all the while, and especially those in Ireland, who were plundered and murdered by whole districts, and especially under WENTWORTH, who committed more injustice than ever had before been committed even in that unhappy country. But all this was not enough to satisfy the Puritans; and LAUD, the Primate of the Established Church, having done a great many things to exalt that church in point of power and dignity, the purer Protestants called for "another Reformation," and what they called "a thorough godly Reformation."

361. Now, then, this Protestant Church and Protestant King had to learn that "Reformations," like comets, have tails. There was no longer the iron police of Old Bess, to watch and crush all gainsayers. The puritans artfully connected political grievances, which were real and numerous, with religious principles and ceremonies; and, having the main body of the people with them as to the former, while these were, in consequence of the endless change of creeds, become indifferent as to the latter, they soon became, under the name of "The Parliament," the sole rulers of the country; they abolished the Church and the House of Lords, and, finally brought, in 1649, during the progress of their "thorough godly Reformation," the unfortunate King himself to trial and to the block!

362. All very bad, to be sure; but all very natural, seeing what had gone before. If "some such man as Henry VIII.," were, as BURNET says he was, necessary to begin a "Reformation," why not "some such man" as CROMWELL to complete it? If it were right to put to death More, Fisher, and thousands of others, not forgetting the grand mother of Charles, on a charge of treason, why was Charles's head to be so very sacred? If it were right to confiscate the estates of the monasteries, and to turn adrift, or put to death, the abbots, priors, monks, friars, and nuns, after having plundered the latter of even the ear-rings and silver thimbles, could it be so very wrong to take away merely the titles of those who possessed the plundered property? And, as to the Protestant Church, if it were right to establish it on the ruins of the ancient Church, by German bayonets, by fines, gallowses and racks, could it be so very wrong to establish another newer one on its ruins by means a great deal milder? If, at the time we are now speaking of, one of "good Bess's" parsons, who had ousted a priest of Queen Mary, had been alive, and had been made to fly out of his parsonage-house, not with one of Bess's bayonets at his back, but on the easy toe of one of Cromwell's godly Bible-reading soldiers, could that parson have reasonably complained?

363. CROMWELL (whose reign we may consider as having lasted from 1649 to 1659), therefore, though he soon made the Parliament a mere instrument in his hands; though he was tyrannical and bloody; though he ruled with a rod of iron; though he was a real tyrant, was nothing more than the "natural issue," as "maiden" Betsy would have called him, of the "body" of the "Reformation." He was cruel towards the Irish; he killed them without mercy; but, except in the act of selling 20,000 of them to the West Indies as slaves, in what did he treat them worse than Charles, to whom and to whose descendants they were loyal from first to last? And, certainly, even that sale did not equal, in point of atrociousness, many of the acts committed against them during the three last Protestant reigns; and, in point of odiousness and hatefulness, it fell far short of the ingratitude of the Established Church in the reign of Charles II.

364. But, common justice forbids us to dismiss the Cromwellian reign in this summary way; for, we are now to behold "Reformation" the second, which its authors and executors call "a thorough godly Reformation;" insisting that "Reformation" the first was but a half-finished affair, and that the "Church of England as by law established" was only a daughter of the "Old Whore of Babylon." This "Reformation" proceeded just like the former: its main object was plunder. The remaining property of the Church was now, as far as time and other circumstances would allow, confiscated and shared out amongst the "Reformers," who, if they had had time, would have resumed all the former plunder (as they did part of it) and have shared it out again! It was really good to see these "godly" persons ousting from the abbey-lands the descendants of those who had got them in "Reformation" the first, and, it was particularly good to hear the Church-bishops and parsons crying "sacrilege," when turned out of their palaces and parsonage-houses; ay, they who and whose Protestant predecessors had, all their lives long, been justifying the ousting of the Catholic bishops and priests who held them by prescription, and expressly by Magna Charta.

365. As if to make "Reformation" the second as much as possible like "Reformation" the first, there was now a change of religion made by laymen only; the Church clergy were calumniated just as the Catholic clergy had been; the bishops were shut out of Parliament as the abbots and Catholic bishops had been; the cathedrals and churches were again ransacked; Cranmer's tables (put in place of the altars) were now knocked to pieces; there was a general crusade against crosses, portraits of Christ, religious pictures, paintings on church windows, images on the outside of cathedrals, tombs in these and the churches. As the mass-books had been destroyed in "Reformation" the first, the church-books were destroyed in "Reformation" the second, and a new book, called the "DIRECTORY," ordered to be used in its place, a step which was no more than an imitation of Henry VIIIth's "CHRISTIAN MAN," and Cranmer's "PRAYER-BOOK." And, why not this "DIRECTORY"? If the mass-book, of nine hundred years' standing, and approved of by all the people, could be destroyed; surely, the Prayer-Book, of only one hundred years' standing, and never approved of by one half of the people, might also be destroyed. If it were quite right to put the former down, and that, too, as we have seen in paragraph 212 , with the aid of the sword, wielded by German troops, it might naturally enough be thought, that it could not be very wrong to put the latter down with the aid of the sword, wielded by English troops, unless, indeed, there were, which we have not been told, something peculiarly agreeable to English men, in the cut of German steel.

366. It was a pair of "Reformations," as much alike as any mother and daughter ever were. The mother had a CROMWELL (see paragraph 157 ) as one of the chief agents in her work, and the daughter had a CROMWELL, the only difference in the two being, that one was a Thomas and the other an Oliver; the former Cromwell was commissioned to make "a godly reformation of errors, heresies and abuses in the church," and the latter was commissioned to make" a thorough godly reformation in the church;" the former Cromwell confiscated, pillaged and sacked the church, and just the same did the latter Cromwell, except that the latter did not, at the same time, rob the poor, as the former had done; and, which seems a just distinction, the latter died in his bed, and the former, when the tyrant wanted his services no longer, died on a scaffold.

367. The heroes of "Reformation" the second were great Bible-readers, and almost every man became, at times, a preacher. The soldiers were uncommonly gifted in this way, and they claimed a right to preach as one of the conditions upon which they bore arms against the King. Every one interpreted the Bible in his own way: they were all for the Bible without note or comment. ROGER NORTH (a Protestant) in his "EXAMEN" gives an account of all sorts of blasphemies and of horrors committed by these people, who had poisoned the minds of nearly the whole of the community. Hence all sorts of monstrous crimes. At Dover a woman cut off the head of her child, alleging that, like Abraham , she had a particular command from God. A woman was executed at York, for crucifying her mother. She had, at the same time, sacrificed a calf and cock. These are only amongst the horrors of that "thorough godly Reformation;" only a specimen. And why not these horrors? We read of killings in the Bible; and, if every man be to be his own interpreter of that book, who is to say that he acts contrary to his own interpretation? Why not all these new and monstrous sects? If there could be one new religion, one new creed made, why not a thousand? What right had Luther to make a new religion, and then Calvin another new one, and Cranmer one differing from both these, and then "good Bess" to make an improvement upon Cranmer's? Were all these to make new religions, and were the enlightened soldiers of Cromwell's army to be deprived of this right? The former all alleged, as their authority, the "inspiration of the Holy Ghost." What, then, were Cromwell and his soldiers to be deprived of the benefit of this allegation? Poor "godly" fellows, why were they to be the only people in the world not qualified for choosing a religion for themselves and for those whom they had at the point of their bayonets? One of Cromwell's "godly" soldiers went, as NORTH relates, into the church of Walton-upon-Thames with a lantern and five candles, telling the people, that he had a message to them from God, and that they would be damned if they did not listen to him. He put out one light, as a mark of the abolition of the Sabbath; the second, as a mark of the abolition of all tithes and church dues; the third, as a mark of the abolition of all ministers and magistrates; and then the fifth light he applied to setting fire to a Bible, declaring that that also was abolished! These were pretty pranks to play; but, they were the natural, the inevitable, consequence of "Reformation" the first.

368. In one respect, however, these new reformers differed from the old ones. They did, indeed, make a new religion, and command people to follow it; and they inflicted punishments on the refractory; but, those punishments were beds of down compared with oak-planks, when viewed by the side of those inflicted by "good Bess" and her Church. They forbade the use of the Common Prayer-book in all churches, and also in private families; but, they punished the disobedient with a penalty of five pounds for the first offence, ten pounds for the second, and. with three years' imprisonment for the third; and did not hang them and rip out their bowels, as the Church of England sovereigns had done by those who said or heard mass. Bad as these fanatics were, wicked and outrageous as were their deeds, they never persecuted, nor attempted to persecute, with a hundredth part of the cruelty that the Church of England had done; ay, and that it did again, the moment it regained its power, after the restoration of Charles II., when it became more cruel to the Catholics even than it had been in the reign of "good Queen Bess "; and that, too, notwithstanding that the Catholics, of all ranks and degrees, had signalized themselves, during the civil war, in every way in which it was possible for them to aid the royal cause.

369. This, at first sight, seems out of nature; but, if we consider, that this Church of England felt conscious, that its possessions did once belong to the Catholics, that the cathedrals and churches and the colleges, were all the work of Catholic piety, learning and disinterestedness; when we consider this, can we be surprised at these new possessors, who had got possession by such means, too, as we have seen in the course of this work; when we consider this, are we to be surprised, that they should do every thing in their power to prevent the people from seeing, hearing, and contracting a respect for those whom these new possessors had ousted? here we have the true cause of all the hostility of the Church of England clergy towards the Catholics. Take away the possessions, and the hostility would cease to-morrow; though there is, besides that, a wide, and, on their side, a very disadvantageous difference, between a married clergy, and one not married. The former will never have an influence with the people, any thing like approaching that of the latter. There is, too, the well-known superiority of learning on the side of the catholic clergy; to which may be added the notorious fact, that, in fair controversy, the Catholics have always triumphed. Hence the deep-rooted, the inflexible, the persevering and absolutely implacable hostility of this Established Church to the Catholics; not as men, but as Catholics. To what else are we to ascribe, that, to this day, the Catholics are forbidden to have steeples or bells to their chapels? They, whose religion gave us our steeples and our bells! To what else are we to ascribe, that their priests are, even now, forbidden to appear in the streets, or in private houses, in their clerical habiliments, and even when performing their functions at funerals? Why all this anxious pains to keep the Catholic religion out of sight? Men may pretend what they will, but these pains argue anything but consciousness of being right, on the part of those who take those pains. Why, when the English nuns came over to England, during the French revolution, and settled at Winchester, get a bill brought into Parliament (as the Church clergy did) to prevent them from taking Protestant scholars, and give up the bill only upon a promise that they would not take such scholars? Did this argue a conviction in the minds of the Winchester parsons, that Bishop North's was the true religion and that William of Wykham's was the false one? The Church parsons are tolerant enough towards the sects of all descriptions: quite love the Quaker, who rejects baptism and the sacrament; shake hands with the Unitarian, and allow him openly to impugn that, which they tell us in the Prayer-book, a man cannot be saved if he do not firmly believe in; suffer these, ay, and even JEWS, to present to church-livings, and refuse that right to Catholics, from whose religion all the church-livings came!

170. Who, then, can doubt of the motive of this implacable hostility, this everlasting watchfulness, this rancorous jealousy that never sleeps? The common enemy being put down by the restoration of Charles, the Church fell upon the Catholics with more fury than ever. This King, who came out of exile to mount the throne in 1660, with still more prodigality than either his father or grandfather, had a great deal more sense than both put together, and, in spite of all his well-known profligacy, he was, on account of his popular manners, a favourite with his people; but, he was strongly suspected to be a Catholic in his heart, and his more honest brother, JAMES, his presumptive heir, was an openly declared Catholic. Hence the reign of Charles II. was one continued series of plots, sham or real; and one unbroken scene of acts of injustice, fraud, and false-swearing. These were plots ascribed to the Catholics, but really plots against them. Even the great fire in London, which took place during this reign, was ascribed to them, and there is the charge, to this day, going round the base of "the Monument," which POPE justly compares to a big, lying bully.

"Where London's column, pointing to the skies,
Like a tall bully, lifts its head, and lies."

The words are these: "This monument is erected in memory of the burning of this Protestant city, by the Popish faction, in Sept. AD. 1666, for the destruction of the Protestant religion and of old English liberty, and for the introduction of Popery and slavery. But the fury of the Papists is not yet satisfied." It is curious enough, that this inscription was made by order of Sir PATIENCE WARD, who, as ECHARD shows, was afterwards convicted of perjury. BURNET (whom we shall find in full tide by-and-by) says, that one HUBERT, a French Papist, '"confessed that he began the fire;" but HIGGONS (a Protestant, mind,) proves that HUBERT was a Protestant, and RAPIN agrees with Higgons! Nobody knew better than the King the monstrousness of this lie; but Charles II. was a lazy, luxurious debauchee. Such men have always been unfeeling and ungrateful; and this King, who had twice owed his life to Catholic priests, and who had, in fifty-two instances, held his life at the mercy of Catholics (some of them very poor) while he was a wandering fugitive, with immense rewards held out for taking him, and dreadful punishments for concealing him; this profligate King, whose ingratitude to his faithful Irish subjects is without a parallel in the annals of that black sin, had the meanness and injustice to suffer this lying inscription to stand. It was effaced by his brother and successor; but, when the Dutchman and the "glorious revolution" came, it was restored; and there it now stands, all the world, except the mere mob, knowing it to contain a most malignant lie.

371. By conduct like this, by thus encouraging the fanatical part of his subjects in their wicked designs, Charles II. prepared the way for those events by which his family were excluded from the throne for ever. To set aside his brother, who was an avowed Catholic, was their great object. This was, indeed, a monstrous attempt; but, legally considered, what was it more than to prefer the illegitimate Elizabeth to the legitimate Mary Stuart? What was it more, than to enact, that any "natural issue" of the former should be heir to the throne? And, how could the Protestant Church complain of it, when its great maker, Cranmer, had done his best to set aside both the daughters of Henry VIII., and to put Lady Jane Grey on the throne? In short, there was no precedent for annulling the rights of inheritance, for setting aside prescription, for disregarding the safety of property and of person, for violating the fundamental laws of the kingdom, that the records of the, "Reformation" did not amply furnish: and this daring attempt to set aside JAMES on account of his religion, might be truly said, as it was said, to be a Protestant principle; and it was, too, a principle most decidedly acted upon in a few years afterwards.

372. JAMES II. was sober, frugal in his expenses, economical! as to public matters, sparing of the people's purses, pious, and sincere; but weak and obstinate, and he was a Catholic, and his piety and sincerity made him not a match for his artful, numerous, and deeply-interested foes. If the existence of a few missionary priests in the country, though hidden behind wainscots, had called forth thousands of pursuivants, in order to protect the Protestant Church; if to hear mass in a private house bad been regarded as incompatible with the safety of that Church; what was to be the fate of that Church, if a Catholic King continued to sit on the throne! It was easy to see that the ministry, the army, the navy, and all the offices under the government, would soon contain few besides Catholics; and it was also easy to see that, by degrees, Catholics would be in the parsonages and in the episcopal palaces, especially as the King was as zealous as he was sincere. The "Reformation" had made consciences to be of so pliant a nature, men had changed, under it, backward and forward so many times, that this last (the filling of the Church with Catholic priests and bishops) would, perhaps, amongst the people in general, and particularly amongst the higher classes, have produced but little alarm. But, not so with the clergy themselves, who soon saw their danger, and who, "passive" as they were, lost no time in preparing to avert it.

373. James acted, as far as the law would let him, and as far as prerogative would enable him to go beyond the law, on principles of general toleration. By this he obtained the support of the sectaries. But the Church had got the good things, and it resolved, if possible to keep them. Besides this, though the abbey lands and the rest of the real property of the Church and the poor, had been a long while in the peaceable possession of the then owners and their predecessors, the time was not so very distant but that able lawyers, having their opinions backed by a well organised army, might still find a flaw in, here and there, a grant of Henry VIII., Edward VI., and Old Betsy. Be their thoughts what they might, certain it is, that the most zealous and most conspicuous and most efficient of the leaders of the "Glorious Revolution" which took place soon afterwards, and which drove James from the throne, together with his heirs and his house, were amongst those whose ancestors bad not been out of the way at the time when the sharing of the abbey lands took place.

374. With motives so powerful against him, the King ought to have been uncommonly prudent and wary. He was just the contrary. He was severe towards all who opposed his views, however powerful they might be. Some bishops who presented a very insolent, but artful, petition to him, he sent to the Tower, had them prosecuted for a libel, and had the mortification to see them acquitted. As to the behaviour of the Catholics, prudence and moderation was not to be expected from them. Look at the fines, the burning-irons, the racks, the gibbets, and the ripping-knives of the. late reigns, and say if it were not both natural and just, that their joy and exultation should now be without bounds. These were, alas! of short duration, for a plan (we must not call it a plot) having been formed for compelling the King to give up his tolerating projects, and "to settle the kingdom," as it was called, the planners, without any act of Parliament, and without consulting the people in any way whatever, invited WILLIAM, the Prince of Orange, who was the Stadtholder of the Dutch, to come over with a Dutch army to assist them in "settling" the kingdom. All things having been duly prepared, the Dutch guards (who had been suffered to get from Torbay to London by perfidy in the English army) having come to the King's palace and thrusted out the English guards, the King, having seen one "settling" of a sovereign, in the reign of his father, and, apparently, having no relish for another settling of the same sort, fled from his palace and his kingdoms and took shelter in France, instead of fleeing to some distant English city and there rallying his people round him, which, if he had done, the event would, as the subsequent conduct of the people proved, have been very different from what it was.

375. Now came, then, the "glorious Revolution," or Reformation the third; and, when we have taken a view of its progress and completions we shall see how it, in its natural consequences, extorted, for the long-oppressed Catholics, that relief, which, by appeals to the justice and humanity of their persecutors, they had sought in vain for more than two hundred years.

 

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