« PreviousContinue »
individuals, You should bave explained, whether the treason with which You professed to charge them, was that which was treason under the subsisting law of the realm ; or that which never was treason till Elizabeth's Draconian laws made it such. By not attending to this, You frequently, and often very, injuriously to the Roman Catholics, mislead your readers.
6.-Thus all the ground upon which You iattempt to advocate the sanguinary code of Elizabeth, fails You. But to proceed,
I have frequently considered the nature of the supremacy conferred uporr Queen Elizabeth by this act of the first year of her reign: I have given the result to the public, in my Historical Memoirs of the English, Irish and Scottish Catholics.*?
It appears to me clear, that, if the act conferring it, ascribed explicitly and unequivocally temporal sovereignty, only, to the queen and her successors, and if the clauses in it which deny the supremacy of the Pope, had denied his temporal power only, the oath would have been unobjectionable, and have been taken universally; or at least with a very trifling exception, by the whole Catholic body. 1939
90, But the oath went much further. Agreeing in nothing else," Hume, t and Mr Neale foassert, to use the words of the former, that “ Elizabeth " always pretended, that, in quality of supreme
V B10 • Ch. XXIV. 6. + Ch. XL.
1 Ch. II.
"head of the chureh, she was fully empowered
to decide all questions which might arise with "u regard to doctrine, discipline, and worship, and
would never allow her parliament so much as ' to take these points into consideration. Mr. Neale's arguments
" that the act was intended to sa confer on the Queen some powers, merely
spiritual, and belonging of right to the church, appear to me incontrovertible.
It could not therefore be taken, either by the Catholics or the Puritans: even the party afterwards denominated the High Church, could I not take it consistently with their own principles : Would you assign to George IV. the spiritual prerogative claimed by Elizabeth, and generally allowed to be assigned to her by this oath Pdths
You know that the oath was altered at the Revolation; that then, the assertion of the spiritual supremacy of the Crown' was expunged, and the denial of any foreign supremacy substituted for it. -Was not this an unequivocal admission, that the disbelief of the spiritual supremacy of the Crown, for which Roman Catholics and Puritans had in such numbers, and for so great a length of time, been persecuted, was perfectly consistent with the allegiance of English subjects ? +370---You next proceed to the Common Prayer. It is now considered, and from the beginning was considered, to contain several things contrary to the doctrine of the Roman Catholic church. This can admit of no doubt.
No Roman Catholic could therefore conscientiously attend a church, in which the ritual of the Common Prayer was used. ti: By the act of the first of Elizabeth, those who absented themselves from their parish churches, were liable to a forfeiture of one shilling to the poor, for every Lord's day in which they so absented themselves; if they continued their absence for a month together, they were liable to a forfeitúre of 20% to the king; and if they kept in their own house any inmate guilty of such absence, they were to forfeit vol. for every such inmate. Every fourth Sunday was understood to complete the month : , thus, thirteen months were, in relation to those penalties, 'supposed to complete the year. “Strange and severe,” You say, (p. 193), 1 as those laws now must be considered, great pro"gress in liberality had evidently been made by “ their comparative mildness. That it must be % remembered is the only point which it is now il necessary to prove. The payment of one shil, "iling, or twenty pounds, was not so terrible as fire
and faggot. : No prince in Europe at this time
defended or sanctioned the laws respecting reli“ gion, with penalties so mild as these,”. A previous admission of your own shows your last assertion to be unfounded. - In page 186, You inform us, that " in Germany, the treaty of Passaw
had given to both parties a temporary repose.",,? - » But in this view which You give of the case, two important circumstances, : wholly passed over
by You, must be taken into consideration. In every other state of Europe, the religion which the sovereign defended or sanctioned, was the antient religion of the kingdom; and the numerical proportion of those against whom it was to be so defended or sanctioned, was very small. Twothirds of the English nation were, at Elizabeth's accession to the throne, Roman Catholics; and their's was both the antient and the actual religion of the country. Now, to consign by one legislative provision, two-thirds of a nation to fire and faggot, was impossible.' I cannot therefore give Elizabeth as much credit as You do for abstaining from this attempt, or think it proves an increase of liberality. What she could not do, she did not; what she could do, she did : she consigned two-thirds of her subjects for adhering to the antient and actual religion of the country, to degradation, vexation, want, beggary and inanition.
According to the best calculations, money, in the time of Elizabeth, was between three and four times its value in the present time. Taking it at the lowest of those values, one Sunday's absence from church subjected the delinquent by the laws of Elizabeth to a forfeiture of three shillings; a month's absence, to a forfeiture of 6ol.; a year's, to a forfeiture of 780l. of our money. Is it possible to justify those inflictions ? to consider the sure and certain consequence of them without horror ? The immediate operation of them was to spoliate the nobility and higher gentry of a portion of yeomen, 19
their rents, which they could ill afford to spare ; to reduce the commoners to yeomen;
to labourers; and the labourers, to helots.
But,---what language can adequately describe the barbarity of Elizabeth's religious legislation in respect to CATHOLIC INELAND, immediately after her accession to the throne ?-Her spiritual supremacy was required to be professed by all the pation, a nation, which consisted wholly of Roman Catholids,---under the successive penalties of a forfeiture of all the party's real, and all his personal estate, of premunire, and the punishment of traitors by death and embowelment alive. Absence from the Protestant service was punishable by a forfeiture of 12d. for each offence--equal, at that time, in Ireland, to 108. of our present money. The service was to be read in the English language, then wholly unintelligible to the Irish people ;but with liberty to the clergyman, if he should think proper, to read it in Latin, a language equally unintelligible to all but the clergy. Is this the legislation of a princess, whose tolerating principles and mildness, and of councillors whose wisdom and justice. You so highly eulogize ? Does history record an instance of intolerance equally savage ? You, however, mențion with applause (page 193) " the calm, sober, and reflecting mind” which contrived them, and its « comparative mildness.”
* Doctor Lingard's History, Vol. V. c. X. Penalties of " Recusancy