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"To the Editor of the Watchman.
"June 17, 18*7.
"Sir,—In your paper of the 9th inst., p. 270, are some valuable remarks on the duties of Protestants in reference to the approaching election, but the article in which these remarks occur appears to me to contain some very objectionable matter.
"' And let us not,' you observe, ' for this expression of our opinion, be charged with an attempt to excite a senseless no-Popery clamour, or with cherishing a desire to see our Roman Catholic fellow-subjects treated with injustice.' . . . . 'We do not deny to our Romanist fellow-citizens the full exercise of their civil rights and privileges. We desire that every Roman Catholic should enjoy the full civil liberty of the British subject in common with ourselves.'
"Now, there is much that sounds plausible and liberal in all this, but the principle it involves, if carried out to its legitimate consequences, is just ruinous. It should never be forgotten that Romanists acknowledge a foreign allegiance. This fact, which ought to occupy a prominent place in our argument when treating of the civil rights and privileges of Romanists, you entirely overlook 1 It is, however, this fact upon which Protestants are accustomed to lay so much stress, because it proves that Romanists are not fellow-subjects, and at the same time it justifies Protestant states in withholding from them those privileges which can be justly claimed only by those whose allegiance is undivided.
"Abundant evidence might be brought forward to show that Romanists have no claim to the title of fellow-subjects; the following may suffice:—' The prelates,' said Henry VIII., ' at their consecration, make an oath to the Pope clean contrary to the oath that they make unto us, so that they seem to be his subjects and not ours.'—Hall's Chron., p. 205.
"Bishop Burgess, in his 'Address to the Roman Catholics of the United Kingdom on their subjection to a foreign jurisdiction,'observes, 'The interference of a foreign jurisdiction is contrary to national honour and independence, and has often been attended with great national calamities. To acknowledge the Pope's spiritual jurisdiction is to be the subjects of a power not only foreign but hostile to the Protestant religion; it is to do that which the laws declare to be a treasonable offence, and which but for the unexampled lenity of our tolerant condition, would subject you to the penalties of high treason. How persons, who, by the letter of our Constitution, are liable to such penalties, can have any claim to constitutional privileges, without renouncing all foreign jurisdiction, or how they can be called fellowsubjects with Protestants, without acknowledging with them the entire sovereignty of the King, has not been explained by any of your advocates.'
"Dr. Wordsworth says, 'It is proposed to relieve English Romanists from all penalties for asserting the Pope's supremacy in these realms in opposition to that of the Queen, and for extolling and maintaining his pretended and usurped power over her subjects. What is this but to call upon the State to legalize a public profession on their part, that they are not subjects of the Crown, and to make this nonsubscription of theirs the occasion, ground-work, and reason for legislative innovations and aggressions against the Crown and the Constitution ?'—Dr. Wordsworth on the Repeal of the Popish Penalties, 1847.
"' The empire of Rome is at Rome and no where else. The priests of Rome are subjects of that empire, primarily and supremely, and they acknowledge other authorities only so far as Rome permits, and so far as may be consistent with their allegiance to Rome. These things are so much like truisms, that it seems strange that we should have to repeat, over and over again, facts which everybody knows, and which no one attempts to deny.'—The Churchman's Monthly Review, 1843, p, 380.
"The foregoing is but a tithe of the evidence that might be adduced in confirmation of the fact that Romanists, though often called fellowsubjects, are not such in the strict and legitimate sense of the term. Any claim, therefore, set up on this plea, must be abandoned as untenable. To assert that persons who acknowledge a foreign allegiance are fellow-subjects, and as such entitled to the same civil rights, liberties, and privileges as those who acknowledge no such allegiance, is contrary to reason and common sense. The absurdity of such a proposition is rendered the more apparent, when it is considered that the individual whose subjects Romanists virtually are, is a foreign despot, who arrogates to himself the power of deposing kings, and of absolving men from their allegiance to their lawful sovereigns.
"Dr. Isaac Barrow calls the Roman pontiff a tyrant, usurper, and impostor, and says that 'his pretended authority has nothing but impudence and sophistry to countenance it.' The members of a religion which has such a tyrant for its head, and whose pretensions are so exorbitant, have no right to complain of injustice or persecution if in Protestant states they labour under civil disabilities, and are excluded from offices of trust and power. Surely no Protestant in his senses can seriously contend that persons so situated are fit to be privy councillors, for instance, and intrusted with the secrets of State!
"The Church of Rome has been well described as 'a foreign monarchy grasping at universal dominion.' Nor is this Antichristian monarchy at all scrupulous as to the means it employs for attaining its end. If this circumstance were borne in mind when speaking of the civil rights and privileges of Romanists, we should be spared many crudities that are often uttered upon this subject.
"Since Romanism is irreconcileably antagonistic to Protestantism, and cherishes towards it the most deadly hatred,* Romanists must be dealt with accordingly. The law of self-preservation requires that they should be kept in subjection, and not placed on the same footing with those who are friendly to Protestantism, and acknowledge no foreign allegiance.
* For proof of this hostility, see the recent speech of Lord Arundel in the House of Commons.
"We are sometimes told that the best way to silence Romanists and render them harmless, nay more, to convert them into loyal subjects, is to give them power and put them in places of trust. Such persons might as well argue that the most effectual way to put the Devil to flight is not to resist but to give place to him. Our greatest statesmen have been infatuated enough to act upon this absurd principle. And what has been the consequence? All their measures of concession for conciliating Romanists and tranquillizing Ireland have turned out signal failures, and entirely disappointed their expectations. This is precisely what was predicted by those who were acquainted with the genius of Popery, and exercised their common sense.
"The subject on which I have ventured to address you is one of considerable importance. It is one, moreover, on which many Protestants labour under great misconceptions, and seem to take leave of their reasoning faculties, for their arguments are puerile in the extreme. They are usually based upon false assumptions, such, for instance, as that Romanists are fellow-Christians, holding the head, and retaining the fundamentals of Christianity; and that they are fellow-subjects whose loyalty is only impaired by unjust restrictions.* But as their idolatry nullifies their professed allegiance to Christ, so the relation in which they stand to a foreign potentate, neutralizes their allegiance to the Sovereign of these realms.
"Allow me to add, in conclusion, I hope you will reconsider this subject. I am inclined to think you have expressed yourself somewhat inadvertently in your paper of the 9th inst., and that the conclusion you have arrived at is not the result of mature and deliberate reflection. It is necessary sometimes to caution our friends against making undue concessions to Romanists, for they are very adroit in turning admissions in their favour to the best account. We need, therefore, be very careful how we make them.
"I am, Sir, your obedient, faithful Servant,
* The following may be taken as a specimen of the reasoning sometimes used by persons calling themselves Protestants, and professing attachment to the Established Church :—
"I look upon my Roman Catholic brethren as fellow-subjects and fellow-Christians, believers in the same God, and partners in the same redemption. Speculative differences in some points of faith with me are of no account. They and I have but one religion—the religion of Christianity. Therefore, as children of the same father, as travellers in the same road, and seekers of the same salvation, why not love each other as brothers? It is no part of Protestantism to persecute Catholics : and without justice to the Catholics there can be no security for the Protestant Establishment: as a friend, therefore, to the permanency of this Establishment, to the prosperity of the country, and the justice due to my Catholic brethren, I shall cheerfully give my vote that the Bill be committed.—From a Speech by Dr. John Law. See " The Churchman's Monthly Review" for 1845, pp. 507, 533.
LIFE IN A CONVENT.
BY SAMUEL PHILLIPS DAY, FORMERLY OF THE ORDER OF THE PRESENTATION; AUTHOR OF "MONASTIC INSTITUTIONS; THEIR ORIGIN, PROGRESS,
NATURE, AND TENDENCY."
( Continued from page 215.J
"Idolaters and slaves! would ye impart
Reade's It Ax V.
What a dreadful, but withal, a pitiable delusion, insensibly steals over the spirits, and mars the minds of those who, either disappointed in their anticipations of happiness, sick of society, or of themselves, or lost in the deep dangerous sea of love, seek the cloistered cell, and the eremitical tomb, as the only existing panacea for the relief of their broken hearts and bleeding sorrows—wherein they might forget their insupportable woes, and bury them for everl Strange, to seek for the attenuation of misery from a source of all others the most unlikely to afford the desired relief! True, the wild ravings of the mind may, for a brief moment, become abated by the opiate of monastic quiet rendering the spirit of the unhappy sufferer insensible to its agonies and unconscious of its woes. But the accumulated flood of grief, pent up and rendered impassable for a time, will, ere long, with a power unconquerable as the mighty avalanche, and with destruction as severe, burst its weighty waters with overwhelming and irresistible fury over the devoted spirit—blasting its idolized hopes, frustrating its visionary bliss, tearing from it, with remorseless grasp, the last weak reed to which it clung for support, and deluging with the bitterest of disappointment, its innermost recesses, waking up and creating pangs unknown, unfelt, unborn before!
Sir Bulwer Lytton, in the "Pilgrims of the Rhine," after making mention of that truly wretched visionary Mary de Medicis, whose bruised spirit sought rest in the cloister, thus beautifully, quaintly, and afFectingly pourtrays the monastic life :<—
"Alas! the cell and the convent are but a vain emblem of that desire to fly to God which belongs to distress; the solitude soothes, but the monotony recalls regret. And for my own part, in my frequent tours through Catholic countries, I never saw the still walls in which monastic vanity hoped to shut out the world but a melancholy came over me I What hearts at war with themselves—what unceasing regrets—what pinings after the past—what long and beautiful years devoted to a moral grave, by a momentary rash act—an impulse—a disappointment I"
Oh, my heart shudders, my mind recoils, my blood chills, my soul sickens, at the very thought of those convent prisons, wherein are incarcerated the blooming maiden, and the promising youth—the woman of charms, and the man of worth—whilst all their hopes, their prospects, and their peace lie buried in its sullen gloom. Gladly would I weep tear for tear with those children of misfortune; gladly help them to burst from their captivity, and undo the ties that bind their spirits down! Oh, what is life to you, unhappy being, debarred from its blessings, wretched beyond description, desponding, without hope's bright beam to cheer you, or love's fond flame to warm your frozen hearts? Nay, tell me not that thou art happy in thy misery, and need no solace for thy many woes. Cast off that facetious smile, it is no part of thee. It may deceive the beholder, unacquainted with thy hidden anguish, but it cannot me, for I know thy bosom thoughts, I am acquainted with the doubts that disturb, and the fears that distress thee, having been a participator in thy despondency, and a prisoner like thee. Thy feelings are thwarted, thy affections are congealed, thy desires are unsatisfied. The best happiness you possess is bitter remorse for the past, and dark forebodings of the future. In the unlimited rovings of thy mind (for this cannot be bound by the fell chain of despotism), never have you descried the dove bearing the olive-branch of peace to you. Enlivening spring brings no freshness to thy drooping spirit, nor does the bloom of summer afford thee joy; for winter, dreary, protracted and eternal, encircles thee. Remembrance of family and friends galls thee. Thoughts of former admirers pierce like a dagger thy bleeding breast. Thy present companions in misery are as regardless of thy sorrows, as thou art of theirs. You dare not venture to embosom thy griefs to them, nor can they embosom theirs to you! Affection, friendship, love, the finer feelings of humanity, claim no entrance to the tomb wherein thy living body is enshrouded! And can'st thou, then, be happy there?
Oh, what is life devoid of love?
A barren waste without a flower,
Uncherished by the genial shower;
To quench the thirst of those who stray
Along its dark and troubled way,
No sun may cheer the wanderer there,
The spirit feels its deep despair;
Upon the heart's sepulchral throne,
It feels that it is all alone!
More slowly move to pleasure's strain:
Affects to smile—but smiles in pain!
It is sad enough when the anxious enthusiast becomes so deluded as to embrace with eagerness the monastic state, wherein he anticipates