« PreviousContinue »
“probation of their priests and confessors, against “ the person and life of queen Elizabeth ; and “ after her death, of the infamous and detestable
gunpowder treason to have destroyed king James “ and his posterity, with the whole nobility of the
kingdom : so that in those times, the pope having
excommunicated the whole kingdom, and ab“ solved the subjects from all their oaths of fidelity, “ there seemed no expedient to preserve the
crown, but the using those severities against those “ who were professed enemies to it. But that “ since those times, that the romish-catholics had “ lived quietly, that rigour had not been used : " and that the king his father's clemency towards " those of that profession,-(which clemency ex“tended no further than the dispensing with the “utmost rigour of the laws),--was the ground of “ the scandal of his being popishly affected, that “ contributed as much to his ruin, as any particular “ malice in the worst of his enemies.'
“The king hearkened attentively to all that was “said, and then answered, that he could not “ doubt but there was some very extraordinary rea“ son for making such strange laws: but what“ ever the reason then was, that it was at present " and for many years past very evident, that there “ was no such malignity in the roman-catholics, " that should continue that heavy yoke upon their “ necks. That he knew well enough, that if he “ were in England, he had not in himself the power “ to repeal any act of parliament, without the con“sent of parliament: but that he knew no reason
why he might not profess, that he did not like “ those laws which caused men to be put to death “ for their religion; and that he would do his best, “ if ever God restored him to his kingdom, that “ those bloody laws might be repealed. And that “ if there were no other reason of state than he “ could yet comprehend, against the taking away " the other penalties, he should be glad that all “ those distinctions between his subjects might be “ removed; and that whilst they were all equally
good subjects, they might equally enjoy his pro“ tection.' And his majesty did frequently, when “ he was in the courts of catholic princes, and when “ he was sure to hear the sharpness of the laws in
England inveighed against, enlarge upon the
same discourse : and it had been a very un“seasonable presumption in any man, who would “ have endeavoured to have dissuaded him from “ entertaining that candour in his heart.
“ With this gracious disposition his majesty re“ turned into England; aud received his catholic
subjects with the same grace and frankness, that “ he did his other : and they took all opportuni“ ties to extol their own sufferings, which they “ would have understood to have been for him. “And some very noble persons there were, wb “ had served his father very worthily in the war, and “ suffered as largely afterwards for having done so: “ but the number of those was not great, but much greater than of those who showed
affection to " him or for him, during the time of his absence,
" and the government of the usurper*. Yet some “ few there were, even of those who had suffered
most for his father, who did send him supply when “ he was abroad, though they were hardly able “ to provide necessaries for themselves : and in his
escape from Worcester, he received extraordinary “ benefit, by the fidelity of many poor people of " that religion; which his majesty was never re“served in the remembrance of t. And this gra“cious disposition in him did not then appear
ingrateful to any. And then upon an address “ made to the house of peers in the name of the " roman-catholics for some relaxation of those laws “ which were still in force against them, the house “.of peers appointed that committee, which is men“ tioned before, to examine and report all those
penal statutes, which reached to the taking away “the life of any roman-catholic, priest or layman, “ for his religion : there not appearing one lord “ in the house, who seemed to be unwilling that “ those laws should be repealed. And after that “ committee was appointed, the roman-catholic “ lords and their friends for some days diligently “ attended it, and made their observations upon “ several acts of parliament, in which they desired
But on a sudden this committee was
• What has been mentioned respecting the loyalty of the catholics, in a preceding page, shows this insinuation to be altogether unfounded.
+ We have seen how little it was noticed by the noble historian.
discontinued, and never after revived; the ro“man catholics never afterwards being solicitous “ for it.
“ The argument was now to be debated amongst “ themselves, that they might agree what would
please them: and then there quickly appeared “ that discord and animosity between them, that
never was nor ever will be extinguished; and of “ which the state might make much other use than “ it hath done. The lords and men of estates were “ not satisfied, in that they observed the good-nature “ of the house did not appear to extend further, “ than the abolishing those laws which concerned “ the lives of the priests, which did not much affect “ them: for besides that, those spectacles were no
longer grateful to the people : they were confi“dent that they should not be without men to dis
charge those functions; and the number of such “ was more grievous to them than the scarcity. “ That, which they desired, was the removal of “ those laws, which being let loose would deprive “ them of so much of their estates, that the re"mainder would not preserve them from poverty. “ This indulgence would indeed be grateful to " them ;' for the other they cared not. Nor were " the ecclesiastics at all pleased with what was “proposed for their advantage, but looked upon " themselves as deprived of the honour of martyr“ dom by this remission, that they might undergo
restraints, which will be more grievous than death " itself: and they were very apprehensive, that “ there would remain some order of them excluded, “ as there was even a most universal prejudice against “ the jesuits; or that there would be some limi“ tations of their numbers, which they well knew “ the catholics in general would be very glad of, though they could not appear to desire it.
“ There was a committee chosen amongst them of “ the superiors of all orders,and of the secular clergy, “ that sat at Arundel-house, and consulted together “ with some of the principal lords and others of “ the prime quality of that religion, what they “ should say or do in such and such cases which " probably might fall out. They all concluded, at “ least apprehended, that they should never be dis
pensed with in respect of the oaths, which were enjoined to be taken by all men, without their
submitting to take some other oath, that might “ be an equal security of and for their fidelity to “ the king, and the preservation of the peace
of “the kingdom. And there had been lately scat“tered abroad some printed papers, written by
some regular and secular clergy, with sober propositions to that purpose, and even the form of
an oath and subscription to be taken or made by “ all catholics; in which there was an absolute re“ nunciation or declaration against the temporal "authority of the pope, which, in all common “ discourses amongst the protestants, all roman“ catholics made no scruple to renounce and dis
claim: but it coming now to the subject-matter “ of the debate in this committee, the jesuits de
clared, with much warmth, that they ought not; nor could they with a good conscience, as catho