The Protestant Reformation by William Cobbett -- LETTER XV.



Kensington, 31st Jan., 1826.


429. WE have now traced the "Reformation," in its deeds, down from the beginning, in the reign of Henry VIII., to the American Revolution; and, all that remains is, to follow it along through the French Revolution, and unto the present day. This is what I propose to do in the present Letter. In the next Letter I shall bring under one view my proofs of this proposition; namely, that, before the event called the" Reformation," England was more powerful and more wealthy, and that the people were more free, more moral, better fed and better clad, than at any time since that, event. And, when I have done that, I shall, in the second volume, give a LIST of all abbeys, priories and other parcels of property, which, according to MAGNA CHARTA, belonged to the Church and the poor, and which were seized on by the Reformation-people. I shall range these under the heads of COUNTIES, and shall give the names of the parties to whom they were granted by the confiscators.

430. The American Revolution, which, as we have seen, grew directly out of those measures which had been adopted in England to crush the Catholics and to extinguish their religion for ever, did, at its very outset, produce good to those same Catholics by inducing the English government to soften, for the sake of its own safety, that PENAL CODE, by which they had so long been scourged. But, now, before we speak of the immediate cause, and of the manner and degree of this softening, we must have a sketch of this HORRIBLE CODE; this monster in legislation, surpassing, in violation of the dictates of humanity and justice, any thing else that the world has ever seen existing under the name of law.

431. We have seen how cruelly the Catholics were treated under "good Queen Bess" and James I.; we have seen how they were fined, mulcted, robbed, pillaged, and punished in body; but, though the penal code against them was then such as to make every just man shudder with horror, we think it, then, gentleness, when we look at its subsequent ferocity. We have seen how Catholics were fined, harassed, hunted, robbed, pillaged, in the reign of "good Bess." We have seen. the same in the reign of her immediate successor, with this addition, that Englishmen were then handed over to be pillaged by Scotchmen. We have seen, that Charles I., for whom they afterwards fought against Cromwell, treated them as cruelly as the two former. We have seen Charles II. most ungratefully abandon them to the persecutions of the Church by law established; and, during this reign we have seen that the Protestants had the baseness, and the King the meanness, to suffer the lying inscription to be put on the MONUMENT on Fish- street Hill, in the city of London, though Lord CLARENDON (whose name the Law- Church holds in so much honour) , in that work which the University of Oxford publishes at the "Clarendon Press," expressly says (p. 348, continuation), that a Committee of the House of Commons, "who were very diligent and solicitous to make the discovery, never were able to find any probable evidence, that there was any other cause of that woeful fire than the displeasure of Almighty God." What infamy, then, to charge the Catholics with it; what an infamy to put the lying inscription on the pillar; what an act of justice, in James II., to efface it; what a shame to William to suffer it to be restored; and what is it to us, then, who now suffer it to remain, without petitioning for its erasure!

432. But, it was after James II. was set aside that the PENAL CODE grew really horrible. And here it is of the greatest consequence to the cause of truth, that we trace this code to its real authors; namely, the Clergy of the Established Church. This is evident enough throughout the whole of this Church's history; but, until the reign of James II., the sovereign was of the Church religion, so that the persecutions appeared to come from him or her. But now, when the King was for softening the penal code; when the King was for toleration; now the world saw who were the real persecutors: and this is a matter to be fully explained and understood, before we come to a more minute account of the code, and to the causes which finally led to its, in great part, abolition.

433. JAMES II. wished to put an end to the penal code; he wished for general toleration; he issued a proclamation, suspending all penal laws relating to religion; and GRANTING A GENERAL LIBERTY OF CONSCIENCE TO ALL HIS SUBJECTS. This was his OFFENCE. For this he and his family were SET ASIDE FOR EVER! No man can deny this. The clergy of the Church set themselves against him. Six of the bishops presented to him an insolent petition against the exercise of this his prerogative, enjoyed and exercised by all his predecessors. They led the way in that opposition, which produced the "glorious revolution," and they were the most active and most bitter of all the foes of that unfortunate King. , whose only real offence was his wishing to give liberty of conscience to all his subjects, and, by showing respect to whose mortal remains (displaced by the French revolutionists) our present King has done himself very great honour.

434, Now, we are going to see a sketch of this terrible code. It must be a mere sketch; two hundred Letters like this would not contain the WHOLE of it. It went on increasing in bulk and in cruelty, from the Coronation of Elizabeth till nearly twenty years after that of George III., till events came, as we shall see, and broke it up. It consisted, at last, of more than a hundred Acts of Parliament, all made for the express purpose of punishing men, because, and only because, they continued faithfully to adhere to the religion, in which our as well as their fathers had lived and died, during a period of nine hundred years! The code differed, in some respects, in its application with regard to England and Ireland, respectively.

435. In ENGLAND this code -- I. stripped the Peers of their hereditary right to sit in Parliament. --II. It stripped gentlemen of their right to be chosen Members of the Commons' House. -- III. It took from all the right to vote at elections, and, though Magna Charta says, that no man shall be taxed without his own consent, it double-taxed every man who refused to abjure his religion, and thus become an apostate. -- IV. It shut them out from all offices of power and trust, even the most insignificant. -- V. It took from them the right of presenting to livings in the Church, though that right was given to Quakers and Jews. -- VI. It fined them at the rate of 20l., a month for keeping away from that Church, to go to which they deemed apostacy. --VII. It disabled them from. keeping arms in their houses for their defence, from maintaining suits at law, from being guardians or executors, from practising in law or physic, from travelling five miles from their houses, and all these under heavy penalties in case of disobedience. -- VIII. If a married woman kept away from Church, she forfeited two-thirds of her dower, she could not be executrix to her husband, and might, during her husband's life-time, be imprisoned, unless ransomed by him at 10l. a month. -- IX. It enabled any four justices of the peace, in case a man had been convicted of not going to church, to call him before them, to compel him to abjure his religion, or, if he refused, to sentence him to banishment for life (without judge or jury), and, if he returned, he was to suffer death. -- X. It enabled any two justices of the peace to call before them, without any information, any man that they chose, above sixteen years of age, and if such man refused to abjure the Catholic religion, and continued in his refusal for six months, he was rendered incapable of possessing land, and any land, the possession of which might belong to him, came into the possession of the next Protestant heir, who was not obliged to account for any profits. -- XI. It made such man incapable of purchasing lands, and all contracts made by him or for him, were null and void. -- XII. It imposed a fine of 10l. a month for employing a Catholic schoolmaster in a private family, and 9l., a day on the schoolmaster so employed. -- XIII. It imposed 100l.. fine for sending a child to a Catholic foreign school, and the child so sent was disabled from ever inheriting, purchasing, or enjoying lands, or profits, goods, debts, legacies, or sums of money. -- XIV. It punished the saying of mass by a fine of l20l., and the hearing of mass with a fine of 60l. -- XV. Any Catholic priest, who returned from beyond the seas, and who did not abjure his religion in three days afterwards, and also any person who returned to the Catholic faith, or procured another to return to it, this merciless, this sanguinary code, punished with hanging. ripping out of bowels, and quartering!

436. In IRELAND the code was still more ferocious, more hideously bloody; for, in the first place, all the cruelties of the English code had, as the work of a few hours, a few strokes of the pen, in one single act, been inflicted on unhappy Ireland; and, then, IN ADDITION, the Irish code contained, amongst many other violations of all the laws of justice and humanity, the following twenty most savage punishments. -- I. A Catholic schoolmaster, private or public, or even usher to a Protestant, was punished with imprisonment, banishment, and finally as a felon. -- II. The Catholic clergy were not allowed to be in the country, without being registered and kept as a sort of prisoners at large, and rewards were given (out of the revenue raised in part on the Catholics) for discovering them, 50l. for an archbishop, or bishop, 20l. for a priest, and 10l. for a schoolmaster or usher. -- III. Any two justices of the peace might call before them any Catholic, order him to declare, on oath, where and when he heard mass, who were present, and the name and residence of any priest or schoolmaster that he might know of; and, if he refused to obey this inhuman inquisition, they had power to condemn him. (without judge or jury) to a year's imprisonment in a felon's gaol, or to pay 20l. -- IV. No Catholic could purchase any manors, nor even hold under a lease for more than thirty-one years. -- V. Any Protestant, if he suspected any one of holding property in trust for a Catholic, or of being concerned in any sale, lease, mortgage, or other contract, for a Catholic; any Protestant thus suspecting, might file a bill against the suspected trustee, and take the estate, or property, from him. -- VI. Any Protestant seeing a Catholic tenant of a farm, the produce of which farm exceeded the amount of the rent by more than one- third, might dispossess the Catholic, and enter on the lease in his stead. -- VII. Any Protestant seeing a Catholic with a horse worth more than five pounds, might take the horse away from him upon tendering him five pounds. --VIII. In order to prevent the smallest chance of justice in these and similar cases, none but known Protestants were to be jurymen in the trial of any such cases. -- IX. Horses of Catholics might be seized for the use of the militia; and, beside this, Catholics were compelled to pay double towards the militia. -- X.. Merchants, whose ships and goods might he taken by privateers, during a war with a Catholic Prince, were to be compensated for their losses by a levy on the goods and lands of Catholics only, though, mind, Catholics were at the same time impressed and compelled to shed their blood in the war against that same Catholic Prince. -- XI. Property of a Protestant, whose heirs at law were Catholics, was to go to the nearest Protestant relation, just the same as if the Catholic heirs had been dead, though the property might he entailed on them. -- XII. If there were no Protestant heir; then, in order to break up all Catholic families, the entail and all heirship were set aside, and the property was divided, share and share alike, amongst all the Catholic heirs. -- XIII. If a Protestant had an estate in Ireland, he was forbidden to marry a Catholic, in, or out, of Ireland. -- XIV. All marriages between Protestants and Catholics were annulled, though many children might have proceeded from them -- XV. Every priest, who celebrated a marriage between a Catholic and a Protestant, or between two Protestants, was condemned to he hanged. -- XVI. A Catholic father could not be guardian to, or have the custody of, his own child, if the child, however young, pretended to be a Protestant; but the child was taken from its own father, and put into the custody of a Protestant relation. -- XVII.. If any child of a Catholic became a Protestant, the parent was to be instantly summoned, and to be made to declare, upon oath, the full value of his or her property of all sorts, and then the Chancery was to make such distribution of the property as it thought fit. -- XVIII. "Wives be obedient unto your own husbands," says the great Apostle. "Wives, be disobedient to them," said this horrid code; for, if the wife of a Catholic chose to turn Protestant, it set aside the will of the husband, and made her a participator in all his possessions, in spite of him, however immoral, however bad a wife or bad a mother she might have been -- XIX. Honour thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long in the land which the Lord, thy God, giveth thee." Dishonour them," said this savage code; for, if any one of the sons of a Catholic father became a Protestant, this son was to possess all the father had, and the father could not sell, could not mortgage, could not leave legacies, or portions out of his estate, by whatever title he might hold it, even though it might have been the fruit of his own toil -- XX. Lastly (of this score, but this is only a part), "the Church, as by law established," was, in her great indulgence, pleased not only to open her doors, but to award (out of the taxes) thirty pounds a year for life to any Catholic priest, who would abjure his religion and declare his belief in hers!

437. Englishmen, Is there a man, a single man, bearing that name, whose blood. will not chill at this recital; who, when he reflects that these barbarities were inflicted on men because, and only because, they adhered with fidelity to the faith of their and our fathers; to the faith of ALFRED, the founder of our nation; to the faith of the authors of Magna Charta, and of all those venerable institutions of which we so justly boast; who, when he thus reflects, and, when he, being as I am, a Protestant of the Church of England, further reflects, that all these cruelties were inflicted for the avowed purpose of giving and preserving predominance to that Church, will not, with me, not only feel deep sorrow and shame for the past, but heartily join me in best endeavours to cause justice to he done to the sufferers for the time to come?

438. As to the injustice, as to the barbarity, as to the flagrant immorality, of the above code, they call for no comment, being condemned by the spontaneous voice of nature herself; but in this shocking assemblage, there are two things which impel us to ask, whether the love of truth, whether a desire to eradicate religious error, could have formed any part, however small, of the motives of these punishers? These two things are, the reward offered to Catholic priests to induce them to come over to our Church; and the terrible means made use of to prevent the intermarriage of Catholics and Protestants, Could these measures ever have suggested themselves to the minds of men, who sincerely believed that the Church religion was supported by arguments more cogent than those by which the Catholic religion was supported? The Law-Church had all the powers, all the honours, all the emoluments, all the natural worldly allurements. These she continually held out to all who were disposed to the clerical order. And if, in addition to all these, she had felt strong in argument, would she have found it necessary to offer, in direct and barefaced words, a specific sum of money to any one who would join her; and that, too, when the pensioned convert, must, as she well knew, break his solemn vow, in order to he entitled to the pay? And, as to intermarriages, why not suffer them, why punish them so severely, why annul them if the Law-Church were sure that the arguments in her favour were the most cogent and convincing? Who has so much power over the mind of woman as her husband? Who over man as his wife? Would one persuade the other to a change of religion? Very likely. One would convert the other in nineteen cases out of twenty. That passion which had subdued religious prejudices, would, in almost every case, make both the parties of the same religion. But, what had the Law-Church to object to this, if she were sure that hers was the true faith; if she were sure that the arguments for her were more clear than those for her opponent; if she were sure that every one who really loved another, who was beloved by that other, and who belonged to her communion, would easily persuade that other to join in that communion? What, in short, had she, if quite sure of all this, to fear from intermarriages? And, if not quite sure of all this, what, I ask you, sensible and just Englishmen, what, had she to plead in justification of the inhuman penal code?

439. Talk of the "fires in Smithfield"! Fires, indeed, which had no justification, and which all Catholics severally condemn; but what, good God! was the death of about two hundred and seventy-seven persons, however cruel and unmerited that death, to the torments above described, inflicted, for more than two hundred years, on millions upon millions of people, to say nothing about the thousands upon thousands of Catholics, who were, during that period, racked to death, killed in prison, hanged, bowelled, and quartered! Besides, let it never be forgotten, that the punishments in Smithfield were for the purpose of reclaiming; for the purpose of making examples of a few, who set at nought the religion of their fathers, and that in which they themselves had been born. And, if these punishments were unjust and cruel as all men agree that they were, what shall we say of, how shall we express sufficient abhorrence of, the above penal- code, which was for the punishment, not of a few, but of millions of people; or the punishment, not of those who had apostatised from the religion of their fathers, but of those who, to their utter worldly ruin, adhered to that religion? If we find no justification, and none, we all say, there was, for the punishments of MARY's reign, inflicted, as all men know they were, on very few persons, and those persons not only apostates from the faith of their fathers, but also, for the most part, either notorious traitors, or felons, and, at the very least, conspirators against, or most audacious insulters of, the royal authority and the person of the Queen; if we find no justification, and we all agree that there was none, for these punishments, inflicted, as all men know they were, during a few months of furious and unreflecting zeal, just after the quelling of a dangerous rebellion, which had clearly proved that apostate and conspirator were one and the same, and had led to the hasty conclusion, that the apostacy must he extirpated, or that it would destroy the throne: if we find, even under such circumstances, no justification for these punishments, where are we to look for, not a justification, but for a ground of qualification of our abhorrence, of the above-mentioned barbarities of more than two hundred years, inflicted on millions upon millions of people; barbarities premeditated in the absence of all provocation; contrived and adopted in all the calmness of legislative deliberation; executed in cold blood, and persevered in for ages in defiance of the admonitions of conscience; barbarities inflicted, not on apostates, but on those who refused to apostatise; not on felons, conspirators, and. rebels, but on innocent persons, on those who had, under all and every circumstance, even while feeling the cruel lash of persecution, been as faithful to their King as to their God; and, as if we were never to come to the end of the atrocity, all this done, too, with regard to Ireland, in flagrant breach of a solemn treaty with the English King!

440. And, is this the "the tolerant, the mild, the meek Church as by law established"? Have we here the proofs of Protestant faith and good works? Was it thus that St. Austin and St, Patrick introduced, and that St. Swithin and Alfred and William of Wykham inculcated, the religion of Christ? Was it out of works like these, that the cathedrals and the palaces and the universities, and the laws and the courts of justice arose? What! punish men for retaining the faith of their fathers; inflict all sorts of insults and cruelties on them for not having become apostates; put them, because they were Catholics, out of the protection of all the laws that their and our Catholic ancestors had framed for the security of their children; call their religion "idolatrous and damnable," treat them as obstinate idolaters, while your Church-Calendar contains none but saints of that very religion; boast of your venerable institutions, all of Catholic origin, while you insult, pillage, scourge, hunt from the face of the earth, the true and faithful adherents to the faith of the authors of those institutions? "Ay," the persecutors seem to have answered, "and hunt them we will." But why, then, if religion be your motive; if your barbarities arise from a desire to convert men from error; why be so lenient to Quakers and Jews; why not only not punish, but suffer them even to appoint parsons to your churches? Ah! my friends, the Law-Church had taken no tithes and lands, and others had taken no abbeys and the like, from Quakers and Jews! Here was the real foundation of the whole of that insatiable rancour, which went on from 1558 to 1778, producing, to millions of innocent people, torment added to torment, and which, at the end of that long period, seemed to have resolved to be satisfied with nothing short of the total extermination of its victims.

441. But, now, all of a sudden, in 1778, the face of things began to change; the Church, as by law established, was, all at once, thought capable of existing in safety, with a great relaxation of the penal code! And, without even asking it, the Catholics found the code suddenly softened, by divers Acts of Parliament, in both countries, and especially in Ireland! This humanity and generosity will surprise us; we shall wonder whence it came; we shall be ready to believe the souls of the parties to have been softened by a sort of miracle, until we look back to paragraphs 425 and 426 . There we see the real cause of this surprising humanity and generosity; there we see the AMERICANS unfurling the standard of independence, and, having been backed by France, pushing on towards success, and, thereby, setting an example to every oppressed people, in every part of the world, unhappy, trodden down Ireland not excepted! There was, too, before the end of the war, danger of invasion on the part of France, who was soon joined in the war by Spain and Holland; so that before the close of the contest, the Catholics had obtained leave to breathe the air of their native country in safety; and, though, as an Englishman, I deeply lament, that this cost England her right arm, I most cordially rejoice in contemplating the event. Thus was fear gratified, in a moment, at the very first demand, with a surrender of that, which had, for ages, been refused to the incessant pleadings of justice and humanity; and thus the American Revolution, which, as we have seen, grew immediately out of the "no-popery," or "glorious," revolution in England, which latter was, as we have clearly seen, made for the express purpose of extinguishing the Catholic religion for ever; thus was this very event the cause of the beginning of a cessation of the horrible persecutions of those, who had, with fidelity wholly without a parallel, adhered to that religion!

442. This great event was soon followed by another still greater; namely, the FRENCH REVOLUTION, or "Reformation" the FIFTH. Humiliation greater than the English Government had to endure, in the above event, it is difficult to conceive; but the French Revolution taught the world what "Reformations" can do, when pushed to their full and natural extent. In England the "Reformation" contented itself with plundering the convents and the poor of their all, and the secular clergy in part. But, in France, they took the whole; though we ought to mark well this difference; that, in France, they applied this whole to the use of the public; a bad use, perhaps; but, to public use they applied the whole of the plunder; while, in England, the plunder was scrambled for, and remained divided amongst individuals!

443. Well; but, here was a great triumph for the clergy of the "Church as by law established"? They, above all men, must have hailed with delight the deeds of the French "Reformation"? No: but, on the contrary, were amongst the foremost in calling for war to put down that "Reformation"! What! not like this "Reformation"! Why, here were convents broken up and monks and nuns dispersed; here were abbey-lands confiscated; here was the Catholic religion abolished; here were Catholic priests hunted about and put to death in almost as savage a manner as those of England had been; here were laws, seemingly translated from our own code, against saying or hearing mass, and against priests returning into the kingdom; here was a complete annihilation (as far as legislative provisions could go) of that which our church clergy called "idolatrous and damnable"; here was a new religion "established by law"; and, that no feature might be defective in the likeness, here was a royal family set aside by law for ever, by what they called a "glorious revolution "; and there would have been an abdicating king, but he was, by mere accident, stopped in his flight, brought back, and put to death, not, however, without an example to plead in the deeds of the English double-distilled Protestant "Reformation" people.

444. What! Can it be true, that our church-clergy did not like this French "Reformation "? And that they urged on war against the men who had sacked convents, killed priests, and abolished that which was "idolatrous and damnable"? Can it be true, that they who rose against King James because he wanted to give Catholics liberty of conscience; that they, who upheld the horrid penal code, in order to put down the Catholic religion in England and Ireland; can it be true, that they wanted war, to put down the men, who had put down that religion in France? Ay, ay! But these men had put down all TITHES too! Ay, and all bishoprics, and deaneries, and prebendaries, and all fat benefices and pluralities! And, if they were permitted to do this with impunity, OTHERS might be tempted to do the same! Well, but, gentlemen of the law-church, though they were wicked fellows for doing this, still this was better than to suffer to remain, that which you always told us was idolatrous and damnable. "Yes, yes; but, then, these men established, by law, ATHEISM, and not Church-of-England Christianity." Now, in the first place, they saw about forty sorts of Protestant religion; they knew that thirty-nine of them must be false; they had seen our rulers make a church by law, just such an one as they pleased; they had seen them alter it by law; and, if there were no standard of faith; no generally acknowledged authority; if English law-makers were to change the sort of religion at their pleasure; why, pray, were not French law-makers to do the same? If English law-makers could take the spiritual supremacy from the successor of Saint Peter, and give it to HENRY-THE-WIFE-KILLER, why might not the French give theirs to LEPEAU? Besides, as to the sort of religion, though ATHEISM is bad enough, could it be WORSE than what you tell us is "idolatrous and damnable"? It might cause people to be damned; but could it cause them to be more than damned? Alas! there remains only the abolition of the TITHES and of the FAT CLERICAL POSTS, as a valid objection, on your part, against "Reformation" the FIFTH; and, I beg the nation to remember, that the war against it has left us to pay, for ever, the interest of a debt, created by that way, of seven hundred millions of pounds sterling, a war which we never should have seen, if we had never seen that which is called a" Reformation."

445. The French Revolution, though it caused numerous horrid deeds to be committed, produced, in its progress and in its end, a great triumph for the Catholics. It put the fidelity of the Catholic priests and the Protestant pastors to the test; and, while not one of the former was ever seen to save his life by giving up his faith, all the latter did it with out hesitation. It showed, at last, the people of a great kingdom returning to the Catholic worship by choice; when they might have been, and may now be, Protestants, without the loss of any one right, immunity, or advantage, civil or military. But the greatest good that it produced fell to the lot of ill-treated Ireland. The revolutionists were powerful, they were daring, they, in 1793, cast their eyes on Ireland; and now, for the second time, a softening of the penal code took place, making a change which no man living ever expected to see! Those who had been considered as almost beneath dogs, were now made capable of being MAGISTRATES; and now amongst many other acts of generosity, we saw established, at the public expense, a COLLEGE for the education of Catholics exclusively, thus doing, by law, that which the law-givers had before made HIGH TREASON! Ah! but, there were the French with an army of four hundred thousand men; and there were the Irish people, who must have been something more, or less, than men, if their breasts did not boil with resentment. Alas! that it should be said of England, that the Irish have never appealed with success but to her fears!

446. And, shall this always be said? Shall it ever be said again? Shall we not now, by sweeping away for ever every vestige of this once horrible and still oppressive code, reconcile ourselves to our long ill-treated brethren and to our own consciences? The code is still a penal code: it is still a just ground of complaint: it has still disqualifications that are greatly injurious, and distinctions that are odious and insulting. I. It still shuts Catholic peers out of those seats in the House of Lords, which are their hereditary right; and Catholic gentlemen out of the House of Commons. II. Then, as if caprice were resolved not to he behind hand with injustice, this code, which allows Catholic freeholders, in Ireland, to vote, at elections, for members of the Parliament of the now "United Kingdom," refuses that right to all Catholics in England! III. It excludes Catholics from all corporations. IV. It excludes them from all offices under the government, in England, but admits them to inferior offices in Ireland. V. It takes from them the right of presenting to any ecclesiastical benefice, though Quakers and Jews are allowed to enjoy that right! VI. It prevents them from endowing any school, or college; for educating children in the Catholic religion; and this, too, while there is now, by law established, a college, for this very purpose, supported out of the taxes! Here is consistency; and here is, above all things, sincerity! What, maintain, out of the taxes, a college to teach exclusively that religion, which you call "idolatrous and damnable"! VII This code still forbids Catholic priests to appear in their canonical habiliments, except in their chapels, or in private houses; and it forbids the Catholic rites to be performed in any building which has a steeple or bells! What! forbid the use of steeples and bells to that religion, which created all the steeples and all the bells; that built and endowed all the churches, all the magnificent cathedrals, and both the Universities! And, why this insulting, this galling, prohibition? Why so sedulous to keep the symbols of this worship out of the sight of the people? Why, gentle law-church, if your features be so lovely as you say they are, and if those of your rival present, as you say they do, a mass of disgusting deformity; why, if this be the case, are you, who are the most gentle. amiable, and beautiful church that law ever created; why, I say, are you. so anxious to keep your rival out of sight? Nay, and out of hearing too! What! gentle and all-persuasive and only true law- church, whose parsons and bishops are such able preachers, and mostly married men into the bargain, what are you afraid of from the steeples and bells, if used by Catholics? One would think, that the more people went to witness the "idolatrous" exhibitions, the better you would like it. Alas! gentle and lovely law-church, there are not now in the kingdom many men so brutishly ignorant as not to see the real motives for this uncommonly decent prohibition. VIII. It forbids a Catholic priest in Ireland, to be guardian to any child. IX. It forbids Catholic laymen in Ireland, to act in the capacity of guardian to the children, or a child, of any Protestant. X. It forbids every Catholic in Ireland to have arms in his house, unless he have a freehold of ten pounds a year, or 300l. in personal property. XI. It disables Irish Catholics from voting at vestries on questions relating to the repair of the church, though they are compelled to pay for those repairs. XII. Lastly, in Ireland, this code still inflicts death, or, at least, a 500l. penalty, on the Catholic priest, who celebrates a marriage between two Protestants, or between a Protestant and a Catholic. Some of the judges have decided, that it is death; others, that it is the pecuniary penalty. Death, or money, however, the public papers have recently announced to us, that such a marriage has now been openly celebrated in Dublin, between the pre sent LORD LIEUTENANT OF IRELAND (who must be a Protestant) and a CATHOLIC LADY of the late rebellious American States! So that, all put together, Dublin exhibits, at this moment, a tolerably curious scene: a College established by law, for the teaching of that religion, which our Church regards as "idolatrous and damnable," and to be guilty of teaching which was, only a few years ago, high treason! A Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, who must belong to our Church, and who must have taken an oath protesting against the Catholic supremacy, taking to his arms a Catholic wife, who must adhere to that supremacy! Then comes a Catholic priest marrying this pair, in the face of two unrepealed laws, one of which condemns him to death for the act, and the other of which condemns him to pay a fine of five hundred pounds! And; lastly, comes, as the public prints tell us, a complimentary letter, on the occasion, to the bridegroom, on the part, and in the handwriting of the King!

447. Well, then, is this code, is any fragment of it longer to continue? is it to continue now, when all idea of conversion to Protestantism is avowedly abandoned, and when it is notorious that the Catholic faith has, in spite of ages of persecution, done more than maintain its ground? Are peers still to be cut off from their hereditary rights and honours; are gentlemen to be shut out of the Commons' House; are lawyers to be stopped in their way to the bench; are freeholders and freemen to be deprived of their franchises; are the whole to lie under a stigma, which it is not in human nature should fail to fill them with resentment; and all this, because they adhere to the religion of their and our fathers, and a religion too, to educate youth in which, exclusively, there is now a college supported out of the taxes? Is all this great body of men, forming one-third part of the whole of the people of this kingdom, containing men of all ranks, from the peer to the labourer, to continue to be thus insulted, thus injured, thus constantly irritated, constantly impelled to wish for distress, danger, defeat, and disgrace to their native country, as affording the only chance of their obtaining justice? And are we, merely to gratify the law-church by upholding her predominance, still to support, in peace, a numerous and most expensive army; still to be exposed, in war, to the danger of seeing concession come too late, and to all those consequences, the nature and extent of which it makes one shudder to think of?

448. Here, then, we are, at the end of three hundred years from the day when Henry VIII. began the work of "Reformation ": here we are, after passing through scenes of plunder and of blood, such as the world never beheld before: here we are, with these awful questions still before us; and here we are, too, with forty sorts of Protestant religion, instead of the one fold, in which our forefathers lived for nine hundred years; here we are, divided and split up into sects each condemning all the rest to eternal flames; here we are, a motley herd of Church people, Methodists, Calvinists, Quakers, and Jews, chopping and changing with every wind; while the faith of St. Austin and St. Patrick still remains what it was when it inspired the heart and sanctified the throne of Alfred.

449. Such, as far as religion is concerned, have been the effects of what is called the "Reformation"; what its effects have been in other respects; how it has enfeebled and impoverished the nation; how it has corrupted and debased the people; and how it has brought barracks, taxing-houses, poor-houses, mad-houses, and gaols, to supply the place of convents, hospitals, guilds, and alms-houses) we shall see in the next letter; and then we shall have before us the whole of the consequences of this great, memorable, and fatal event.


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