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and smuggled him into the church-yard in the dead of night* Happy! thrice happy! had he met on that fatal night with a custom-house officer. He would have escaped with the contraband goods. But alas! his destiny was to meet with one 'of those officers who have recourse to what the moderator calls the Court Christian* A decree (whether real or fictitious I cannot tell) from the Bishop's-court was produced by the carrioruhunter and another, who were hurrying away the peasant, fainting after a violent resistance. Luckily he was met by an intimate friend of mine, who released him by paying the charnel house fees.
These anecdotes I relate to shew that, notwithstanding Doctor Woodward's zeal in defence of what he writes in favour of ecclesiastical agents, they are oppressive, and impose both on Bishops'-courts and their employers. I do not say, that they do it with their consent: far be it from me. It was against the prophet's will his servant received presents from Naaman the Assyrian officer: and it is against the clergy's consent that their agents are vexatious to the poor. But there is this difference between the Bishop and the prophet: 'the latter struck his 'agent with the leprosy; the Bishop of Cloyne spins out a * chapter of his pamphlet to shew that his agents are imma'culate.' I shall then join the moderator in his litany, from such agents good Lord deliver us! In parishes where the rectors took the tithes into their own hands, it is acknowy. ledged that the clergyman has received much more than ever he did through the mediation of such agents, besides the additional comfort of seeing peace, harmony and confidence restored to his district. It is not my business to make calculations, nor is it a part of my duty to run over parishes, in order to know how far a wretched peasant may be relieved by the removal of a relentless agent, who, like a dense cloud, intercepts the rays of benignity, which would certainly cheer him by a more immediate communication with a clergyman, whose ministry is peace, and whose duty is charity. I only glance at such matters as far as they are interwoven with a subject which it is my duty to illustrate, in order to vindicate both the Catholic body and myself from the false and groundless imputation of attempting the over
throw of the established religion, by encroaching upon the
rights of its clergy.
The supineness with which the Bishop of Cloyne upbraids the Protestant gentlemen, shews that the lower classes were truly miserable, and that their table of rates was only' proportioned to their circumstances. That they are truly miserable all parties must agree. This supineness also shews that the Protestant nobility and gentry were under no apprehension of the constitution, either in church or state. Neither was the Bishop of Cloyne; otherwise he, who is one of the pilots, would not have slept for the space of fifteen months at the helm, if he really foresaw that the ship was in danger of going to the bottom: though he now alarms three kingdoms with the danger to the established church from Catholics and dissenters, pulling down and rising tip. But the Catholic nobility and gentry foresaw, from the reasons I have already alleged, that they would be misrepresented to Government, and that the old game of Popish plots and confederacies would be renewed. They had moreover their properties to defend, and their character to support: as men and subjects they were as much interested as others in the preservation of the peace of society. And the history of a country where their ancestors swayed for ages the sceptre of authority, informed them that, in the successive revolutions occasioned either by brave and fortunate aspirers, or by timid, ductile, and unfortunate kings, the Catholics have been invariably the losers. The Bishop of Cloyne then must be a stranger to the passions of the heart, of which interest has so strong a hold; or unacquainted with the history of the kingdom; or under a very strong bias; or prepossessed with a strange notion of their stupidity—if he supposes they had any thing to expect by the commotions of a rabble. If Government, however, had been induced to believe that tehy had such prospects in view, and mistaken the shadow for the reality, the Catholics would have become equally obnoxious. And what efforts are now making to persuade Government that phantoms are realities, let the public judge from the pamphlets dispersed all over.the three kingdoms. The fox in the fable did well to take to his heels when the lion issued a proclamation, ordering all the horned beasts to quit the forest. And although no branches sprouted from his head, yet his remark was very wise, when he said, What if his. majesty thought I had horns. It was then prudent in the Catholic gentlemen to have taken the most effectual steps to remove every suspicion to which their misrepresenters are so industrious in laying them open. They were the firet to take the alarm: they transmitted an address to Government through the Secretary of State. On hearing that the common people complained in a few places of the exactions and rigorous conduct of their parochial clergy, they were the first to interfere in writiug* to the Catholic prelates of the province, pressing them in the most earnest manner to inquire into the conduct of their clergy, and to remove, by every means their wisdom could auggest,any causeof complaint,and every occasion of obloquy.
The application could not be made to more proper persons than to prelates, whose lives are so many living ai;d. animated sermons; some of them, by their birth, titles, and fortunes, would be this instant seated in the House of Peers, deliberating with the nobles of the land, on these measures on which the fate of a nation must depend, if they could leave their creed at its threshold. Others are, by their knowledge and wisdom, qualified for directing the councils of kings. And the piety and exemplary lives of them all would make them objects of veneration in any age, o# in any nation. A letter addressed to these venerable and illustrious prelates, from the Catholic gentlemen, was attended to with the same condescension as if it were the mandate of a superior. They assembled, deliberated, and enquired into the conduct of their clergy; when in four or five parishes, they discovered that the pastors and flocks could not agree, either from inflexibility in the former, who perhaps thought themselves injured by submitting to regulations dictated by their inferiors, or from the obstinacy of the latter, who would abide by no regulating standard for the support of their pastors, but such as they themselves thought fit to determine: or from a personal dislike founded perhaps upon the recollection of severe usage, prompted more by ardent and good-natured zeal, than By this sage discretion, which attains its end by more lenient means. Let the motives of discontent be what they maj, without having recourse to canonical quibbles, which must ever be superceded when the peace of society interferes, the wise prelates removed the Pastors, and substituted others in theirroom. A more painful sacrifice could not have been made; nor could a more evident proof bo adduced to shew the falseness of the infamous charge, that the ill usage received by the Catholic Pastors from their flocks, was but a sham battle, like that of the Doctor, who, ichrn he beat his wife, said that he beat half himself A silly simile, arid worthy of the Lord Bishop of Cloyne's able ■writer, Theophilus. Not satisfied with giving this proof of their most ardent desire for the restoration of peace and good order, the prelates gave the most public and signal proofs of a disinterestedness worthy the most apostolical times. After declaring that a small stipend was requisite for the support of their clergy, they enjoin that this stipend be not exacted with rigour; and that even if it be refused, they are not to refuse their spiritual assistance, but to shew upon all occasions, that zeal, disinterestedness, and charity enforced by the Gospel, for the sake of which they had made an anticipated sacrifice of all the prospects of this life, in their early days, at the foot of the altar. No more could have been said; no more could have been done. Such of their clergy as had not been forced by violence from their parishes, declared from their altars, that it was for the sanctification of their own souls and those of their flocks, not for the sake of any worldly emolument, that they took orders; that they required nothing of them but what they themselves were willing to give, and that no mercenary views would ever hinder them from going day or night to their assistance, whilst they had strength to perform their functions. All were unanimous in crying out with the Prophet, if it be on my account that this storm is raised, cast me overboa Are these the prelates whom the Bishop of Cloyne < poses to the detestation of such as cannot explain their consecration oath, which he has translated, in his sixth edition, into English for the instruction of the ignorant? For I am to suppose, he presumes that the Peers and Com>
Let the zeal, activity, and disinterestedness of those prelates be compared with the passive silence of the Bishop of Cloyne for the space of fifteen months. And let the public determine to whom the community is most indebted, for endeavouring to restore peace and order to a distracted province. *
Where are now those agitating Friars and Romish Missionaries sent here to sow sedition; and of whom Doctor Woodward speaks in his Postscript? I challenge him in the face of the kingdom to produce either agitating Friar, or Romish Missionary, or parish Priest, sent here to sow sedition, or who has sown sedition. The Bishop of Cloyne cannot: produce one: he must then prove a negative, which, in his Postscript in extenuation of Theophilus's slanders, he acknowledges hard to be proved. The Bishop perceiving that negatives are no proofs, has a recourse to casual affirmations, by saying, perhaps Theophilus alludes to Mr. O'Leary's Letters, #-c. Here the attack is personal on Mr. O'Leary, the Friar with a barbarous sirname, whose letters are most artfully contrived to sow sedition. Such a heavy charge re-' quires a full investigation, and must plead my apology with my readers for proceeding farther in my defence. Previous to the arrival of the Catholic prelates in Cork, we were continually alarmed with the insurrections in the diocese of Cloyne. They spread gradually, and, as I remarked before, Captain Right's proclamations were at last posted up against the gates of the chapels of that city. Tithes, proetors, and priest's dues, were alleged as causes of complaint, and became the subject of general conversation.
The common people who, in times of persecution used to follow their clergy into recesses of forests, to hear their prayers and instructions, nailed up chapels in some places against their pastors in the very blaze of toleration-. The disorders which would arise from such proceedings were easily foreseen; and it was requisite that some persons should step forth to stem the torrent. Doctor Mann, the Protestant Bishop of Cork, was absent for the benefit of his health: the Catholic Bishop of the same diocese, the present Lord Dunboyne, had been under the necessity of going to Dublin on