Изображения страниц

They would otherwise signify what they really meant, though their places were the inevitable cost of their plain speaking. The tergiversation, the casuistry, the arrières pensées, of which they must be conscious at heart, however they may put a bold face upon the matter to the public, totally disqualify them to set up the double plea of principle. At the bar of every rational and considerate judgment it cannot be admitted for a single second; ... by posterity it will be scouted, and by heaven disallowed.

But to return to this delusive surplus, which, wherever it may partially be ascertained, is to be applied forsooth to other than ecclesiastical purposes. But then there is to be no set off!

The deficiency in the revenues of the Church, either in the individual exception, or on the general balance, which were a matter one would think of ordinary calculation and obvious remedy, is not to be compensated by any pecuniary vote from our wiseacres of the Honourable House. What even-handed justice! The surplus resources of our reformed Church, coming, in nine cases out of ten, from the estates of Protestant landlords, are to be confiscated in one district, to serve the uses, for education, according to his notions, of the Popish priest, although perhaps, owing to the inadequacy of her funds in a neighbouring locality, the ministrations of her altars must there depend upon the voluntary offering of her children. And the House came to this notable resolution under the pretence of pacifying Ireland !

It must be admitted that the case of the Irish Church is anomalous, and the intrinsic difficulty of the subject exceedingly great.

The alienation of the stores, laid up in the sixteenth century by the Popish hierarchy in that country, to meet the wants of the reformed Church, would appear to be the virtual grievance; so that the redress can be no other than a restitution of the same funds, plus the tithe (whether actual or commuted) which has ever since held by lay impropriators, to answer the need and uses of the Romanists. For the truth of this, see the letters of O'Connell, passim.

However hidden his views, or whatever diversion he may seem to make from them, such is the end at which the enemy is driving, and which, in the long run, one plaint being put to rest after another, he reckons upon accomplishing. If the Legislature do not keep a better watch, while combustibles are being let off in every direction, but will suffer spark after spark to fly up, and think scorn of any peril, because of their insignificancy, unmindful how apt things about are to take fire, " for the minds of men are of themselves as dry fuel," nothing human can prevent the upshot and result of all being in a general blaze. And this will happen, to adopt the language of Hooker, “ not so much by puissance and might of adversaries, as through defect of counsel in them, that should have upheld and defended the same.” Parliament, to all intents and purposes, by looking on with unconcern, will be accessory to the arson of our Protestant Establishment, ... the great breakwater, that shoots its moles and mounds and banks far out into the main, to repel the storms that in these distempered times threaten to choke up the sacred haven of religious liberty.

It is idle to pretend that on the ruins of the Protestant Establishment, the Roman Catholic would not immediately, or in no long time, be erected. Nor do we see why the religion, professed by six-sevenths of the people of Ireland (only that the other seventh are possessed of full nine-tenths of the landed property) should, upon any principle of justice (after the expiration of the clerical estates for life) be precluded from embodying itself into a national church; provided such an institution were compatible with the integrity of the empire, and the safety of the State; provided, in short, that the Papists did not owe allegiance to a foreign pontiff and potentate. But out of their own mouths are they convicted. They declare, both in Ireland, and on this side of the water, that they will never permit the veto of the crown upon the pope's nomination of their bishops a rule which obtains, in every Catholic country, and what is more directly to the purpose, which is conceded in every other realm, where the reformed faith prevails.

We may here discern the dire spirit of papal domination. It is not, therefore, the Romanists in Ireland holding the tenets of transubstantiation, auricular confession, the invocation of saints, or their undue veneration of relics, (however contagious and deplorable we may deem such errors,) which, in the judgment of every candid Christian, affects their right of citizenship; but they are made an exception to what might be (ceteris paribus) but justice, because of that which, in the language of logicians, constitutes their “ essential national attribute," namely, their ULTRA papistry:

It is this foreign allegiance, in conjunction with the pernicious sophism which teaches, that every means, however vile, is sanctified by the end, and their assent to the tenet of there being no salvation out of the pale of their church, ... a tenet that involves persecution as a duty... it is their belief in this EXTRA-NATIONAL creed, with its arms militant of interdicts, excommunications, and the stake, which disqualifies the majority of the ignorant natives of Ireland from ever being permitted to incorporate their religious opinions in a national church. They are incapacited by their own act.

They have taken up a position, either through design or ignorance, ("EETITIOÈS ñ d'áyvolar") inconsistent with the general well-being of the State ... This they were not called upon to do. On the other hand, the political independence of the British empire must not be sacrificed, or even risked, for the sake of adhering to some theoretical standard of right, which must necessarily vary, and which is modified by so many disturbing causes, which cannot be taken into the account. To legislate upon Ireland in the abstract, to which our one-eyed statesmen now-a-days seem inclined, argues nothing less than sheer ignorance and folly. That which is best in itself, is not invariably so, without reference to circumstances, and without limitation. We should not contemplate the mere justice of a measure, per se, but look to the right and to the left, and regard it in all its bearings.

Thus, independently of the chance of the duties of Roman Catholics clashing with their obedience as faithful subjects, the establishment of their Church in Ireland is obnoxious to objections on another score. When the revenues of the Protestant Establishment shall have been confiscated... when, on the other side of the channel, the fallen religion of the land again holds up her venerable head... when, by a sort of sacrilegious barter, the ministers of one faith make a merit of necessity, and solemnize Divine service in the chapels of the other—whilst priests and bishops (no longer titular), celebrate mass in the churches and cathedrals throughout the kingdom, and the consecrated pix is again borne aloft, and the sacring bell rung before the host, beneath the primal sanctuaries of the fathers,... the proper asyla of the saints ... when glebes and tithes, and holy offerings, revert to their long-wronged proprietors, so that by a re-transfer of Church property poetical justice, in the opinion of the Papist, be done to all parties ;-and, in this late generation, according to his notion, “ the sins of the fathers be visited upon the children;"—can there be any man so foolish as to think, that the Apostolic Church on this side of the Irish Channel will be safe “ within the wind of such commotion ?” As sure as all encroachment is progressive, the denationalized faction will scarce retire within their ceded lines in Ireland, ere they again gird themselves for a fresh assault upon institutions, which even now rock to their very centre. Yea, that constitutional throne is imperilled, under whose shadow, through the blessing of Divine Providence, Englishmen of every grade have experienced fewer restraints on their free agency, and more fast security for their lives and well-being, than Plato and Tully would have allowed to be compatible with government, or than Hampden and Milton* could have conceived consistent with morality; and how close have they hauled the vessel to the wind in both respects! Moreover, as a makeweight, they have enjoyed more true national glory than has fallen to the lot of any other people under the cope of heaven.

* " That is not the liberty which we can hope, that no grievance should ever arise in the commonwealth ; That let no man in this world expect; but when complaints are freely heard, deeply considered, and speedily reformed, then is the utmost bound of civil liberty attained that wise men look for."

The revolutionary party in this country, like the hooded Haggard, dart right upward, to prey at the source of light and life, till, grown dizzy in their daring flight, they fall indeed like Lucifer.

Many of the honourable gentlemen in both Houses are possessed of real property to an immense amount. Positively, if any bounds could be assigned to the short-sightedness of the human mind, the consideration of this circumstance would be calculated to astound us. Are those persons indeed so weak, so sunk in self-deception, as to flatter themselves, after the resources of the Church shall have been diverted from their legitimate channels, to commingle with the foul polluted colluvies of Radical confiscation, that the rent-roll of their estates will be suffered to pass unscrutinized ? that their title-deeds will be let alone, because by prescription, they convey a right to exercise the function of landlord, and every quarter day take from the landholder a portion of that floating capital, hardly earned by the sweat of his forehead? Upon what rational grounds, by what impartial logic, on what principle of common sense, shall the Rector of Holkham be pillaged of a fraction of his income, and the talons of confiscation forbear to pounce upon the revenues of the Lord of Holkham? The essential attribute of inviolable possession is at least as firmly annexed to the one description of property, as to the other; and that government, which weakly connives at the infraction of either, is guilty of a violation of the first duty of just rulers. Shall the revenues of a Church, built and endowed eight centuries ago, " in posterum sempiterna religione obligare," be alienated from their sacred destination, and the feud (lay benefice), purchased very many hundred years subsequently, under the same original grant, be not merely indefeasibly vested in the new proprietor, and his descendants, but its value allowed to be augmented by the acquisition of what, so far from having been set forth or contemplated in the original title, is absolutely aliened ? Instead of this being the equitable mode of procedure, (bearing in mind the origin and derivation of the term fief or fee,... the right to hereditaments held in trust) upon the non-fulfilment of the conditions (which in the case under consideration is, that a tithe of the proceeds of the estate should go for the cure of souls, and the advancement of learning in the parish), the inference is, that the feud is avoided, and the property in the soil forfeited. The original grantors could only have devised just nine-tenths of the proceeds, without the reserve of any remainder to their representatives hereafter. If the reversionary interest in the benefice be allowed to be defeated, does it not follow that the coeval tenure by which the landowner holds his estate has been infringed? Whether he

may, or may not, have been a consenting party to this damage, is foreign to the argument. The issue is not narrowed to whether or no the ccclesiæ persona, being held in terrorem, and the lay

proprietor, to answer his self-ends, have a commutative right, under sanction of Parliament, to intrench on the patrimony of the Church, to the hurt of the one party, but, as he vainly flatters himself, the permanent good of the other. ... The question we would moot is, whether the landowner's impropriation to the original holding of a value, given as an absolute right and sacrifice to God, and entailed with a curse upon the alienation of it,does not by his wilful rapine (morally, at least, if not legally) invalidate his title to the entirety? It would not be legitimate argument, but sheer cavilling to pretend, because the landowner is still to be subject to a rent charge,... because, to adopt the language of Hooker, instead of “violently spoiling," he “smoothly defrauds God,” that therefore he will not find himself bettered, in a worldly sense, by his fraudulent composition,—that therefore his crime is venial. Whether any one violate religion and justice in a small or a greater degree, it has the same effect: το δε ευσεβες και το δίκαιον άν τ' επί μικρά τις, αν τ' επί μείζονος, παραβαίνη, την αυτήν έχει δύναμιν.

But he will... he does benefit in most cases (though not always, as the cultivator, after all, will take good care) to the full amount of what the incumbent is robbed of; and the same plea, which once acknowledged, can bear out Parliament in impoverishing the Church of a provision, that ought to have been held inviolably sacred, for the infeudation, however indirectly, of the land proprietor, will hold good hereafter, in letting loose the legislative power upon the landlord, to bereave him of any portion of his inheritance which they may think fit to set apart for the exigencies of the State. We have read in Æsop's Fables of an eagle that stole a cinder from the altar, and fondly thought therewith to enrich her aerie ; but the nest presently caught fire, and in the flames herself and all her eaglets were consumed.

And something like this is the only rational corollary that can be drawn from admitting the principle of Church spoliation, and following it out to its legitimate conclusion.

A doubtful precedent is likely in course of time to ripen into legal practice, and an anomalous wrong soon begets a series of systematic injuries, which take in at length the purblind individuals who lent themselves to the original iniquity; and thus “ Even-handed justice commends th' ingredients of the poisoned chalice to the lips” of the evil-doer. The principle of democratic usurpation-under shelter of which the landowners, taking advantage of the degradation of the Clergy of the Establishment, contrive to feather their nest, will, in the progress of encroachment, be dexterously palmed upon them, to clinch the more forcibly the fetters of their own subjugation.

We would therefore, in earnest heart, recommend them to have their wits about them, and decline being made a cat's paw for the furtherance of schemes, concocted in the Radical pandemonium,

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »