Page images
PDF
EPUB

authority. The Emperor found him with the nation following in its train, self suddenly plunged into war, and till it took possession of the temple, war with his own subjects, whose and signalized at once its spirit and victory and defeat were equally and its power, by driving out the moneyhourly draining the national blood. changers, the old hereditary monoBut a new enemy soon rushed into poly that had used holiness only as the field. Republican France threw a cover for usurpation. The house her sword into the scale; and the of God was a den of thieves no more. Netherlands, the appanage of Austria A few years would have spread the for almost three centuries, were cut Reformation from end to end of the away from her for ever.

island, but its progress was suddenly Another memorable instance stands stopped by royal rapacity. The king before the eyes of Europe, to teach Jaid his hands on the revenues of the her sovereigns wisdom. The first Church. Henry had a right to overact of the French Revolution was to throw the Romish hierarchy as a seize upon the property of the corruption of religion; he had no Church. Are we to follow her ex- right to alienate its property from ample, at the risk of her punish- the service of all religion. The Roment? Is England prepared to un- mish priesthood had been corrupt dergo the long agonies of France ? stewards, and they deserved to be Are her nobles ready for exile, her stripped of their stewardship. But people for her chains and the con- the guilt of the servants could not scription; her palaces for the revel- criminate the estate. It was given ry of her Mob, and her Churches for for the purposes of God, it had been the pollutions of Jacobinism? The abused to the purposes of the priest; form of her vengeance may be dif- and now, instead of being restored to ferent, but justice will not sleep, its original sacredness, it was abused and if England lay but a finger on to the purposes of the king. The the consecrated property, heavy will rapacity which had broken short the be her visitation, and the heavier for strength of the Reformation in Eng. her warning, for her experience, and land proceeded the greater lengths for her consciousness of the guilt of of power, safe from public scrutiny, the sacrilege. If the Irish Church is in an island little regarded by the given over to the plunder of its ene- English Parliaments or people. Onemies, the punishment will come, and half of the entire revenue of the conwoe be to the nation that abets the verted Church was seized. The guilt and shares the spoil.

crown confiscated to its own use, or The history of the Reformation in that of its dependents, five bunIreland is full of the same moral. It dred and sixty-two rectories, with shows us the noblest effort ever one hundred and eighteen additional made to introduce light and religion parishes, in all, six hundred and into the body of a nation frustrated eighty parishes ! The great nobles, by the spirit of spoil. It shows us their relatives, every man who comthe punishment inflicted in retribu- manded influence with the Governtion, and it assigns the cause why ment, rushed to this general distriIreland has been for the last three bution of sacrilege. The tithes, aliencenturies a source of toil, anxiety, ated to laymen, amounted to three waste, and weakness to England, if hundred thousand pounds a-year! she is not finally destined to be her But rapacity did not stop here. A ruin. The Reformation fixed its foot fresh seizure was made of the glebe in Ireland about nine years before lands. They were still able to furthe death of Henry the Eighth. It nish a meal for those wholesale demade way rapidly through the coun- vourers. They seized upon fourteen try. The Romish superstitions dis- hundred and eighty glebes! A curse appeared before it. The power of fell instantly upon the transaction. the Pope was trampled under its The Reformation suddenly stopped step. It went on like the original -it was all_but strangled in the revelation, strong in its simplicity, birth. The Protestant clergy, the more highly adorned in its naked- stronghold of English allegiance, deness than the pompous and embroi- cayed out of the land, or struggled dered superstition that it came to for a meagre and failing subsistence. displace or to purify. It went on The churches fell into ruin ; vast districts were left without education, gentry of the land. Their argument without protection, without a know. for this atrocious robbery was the ledge of the simplest rudiments of argument which we hear at this hour. religion. English feelings died; fu- “ The clergy are few; the country is rious animosities rose up in their naked of religious teachers; the place. The English language was Churches are in ruins; and therefore again superseded by the dialect of we must despoil.” It was in vain the country. The Romish supersti- urged upon the legislature, that the tions again flooded the land, pervert- remedy for the national evils was not ing all its admirable powers into the to despoil

, but to restore. To build materials of national ruin ; degrading Churches, to enable the churchmen its courage into ferocity, its feelings to reside; to give back the sacred into savage revenge; its allegiance property, without which, knowledge, into a wild clanship of blood and loyalty, and religion must perish. plunder; its ability into the subtle. These were the arguments of truth ties and stratagems of obscure, but and sound policy. The arguments perpetual and sanguinary rebellion. of power and peculation were mightThe whole tempest fell upon the ier, and they prevailed. The unresistunhappy victims of royal rapacity ing church was plundered. An act of with a weight of ruin unexampled in Parliament declared that the “tithe the records of Europe. The Refor- of agistment” was claimable no longmation, the cause of truth and Eng- er, and, with that last contemptuous land, perished under the knife. Mas. violation of right, which acknowledges sacre was the retribution on the Go- that it acts in scorn of law, Parliavernment and the nation, which had ment actually prohibited all Barrisrioted in the spoils of the Church of ters from pleading in any action for Ireland. The immediate sufferers the tithe of pasture land. Thus the were the Protestants of Ireland ; but Church was not simply robbed, but the blow fell deepest upon England. commanded to abstain from exclaimThe pangs of the murdered were ing against the robbery; not simply soon done. But the lasting ven- stripped of its chief possession, but geance was on that Government, and laid under ban for seeking the comthat country to which Ireland, from mon defence of the beggar against that hour to this, has been a source his injurer. of restless anxiety; a refuge for But let us look to the sequel. The every desperate principle, the fort. Church was unresisting, and the act ress of a religion hostile to her be- had its full sweep. The great landlief, and to her allegiance; a port for holders in Parliament rejoiced in the sails of every enemy; an open their plunder of a feeble opponent. province for the career of every But they soon had another enemy to fierce passion and envenomed con- deal with. A furious peasant insurspiracy; disaffection growing with rection arose in those pasture provinits growth, until we reckon the le- ces. The lives and properties of the vies of rebellion by millions, and landlords were suddenly at the mercy hear from two thousand darkened of the pike and the firebrand. Whitealtars the cry of “ Down with Eng- boyism, the concentration of the reland !”

venge, the avarice, the riot, and the Or let us look to a single instance superstition of the multitude, tore in this long history of wretchedness, and ravaged the whole south of Irethe results of a single crime; a single land. The clergy suffered in the feature in the physiognomy where all common war against all property. is convulsion. In the middle of the But the national devastation amountlast century, the Irish Parliament ed to millions in money, and more committed a new act of spoliation in than millions in the check of comthe Irish Church. In the lapse of merce and civilisation, in the renewyears the chief part of the land had ed barbarism of the popular mind, in fallen into pasture. The great land- the degradation of the national chaholders now determined to seize up- racter, and the utter disgrace of goon the tithes of this pasture, thus vernment. This insurrection lasted depriving the impoverished clergy of fifty years ! Nominally a war against nearly the whole of that portion of tithes, it was a furious revolt against their income, paid by the nobles and all law, for the plunder of all pro

perty. During this fatal period, Ire- But the enemies of the Church land was held in perpetual terror. and of your Majesty have pronounAll the activity of a repentant legis- ced that an Establishment, above lature was useless against a form of beggary, is injurious to nations, and hostility that perpetually defied its hostile to Religion. The argument is grasp ; that was visible only in its the logic of party for the purposes havoc ; that made its voice heard on- of gain,-against nature, against hisly in the arteries of the country tory,—the perversion of fact for which it convulsed and tore. Law the perversion of the understandfollowed it, marking every step withing, - a vulgar and insolent soblood-but followed it, only to see phism. It confounds the superfluity fresh ravages starting up hourly in of the individual with the opulence its track. Armies followed it, and of the whole; finds the virtues of they might as well have chased the the Church guilty of the vices of the clouds on the ridges of the hills, priest, and brands with the same acwhere the peasant avengers of a cusation the piety of the altar and the cause, of which they knew nothing, luxury of the servant who defrauds stood scoffing at the hopelessness of the altar. pursuit. Misery overspread the most But by whom was founded the fertile portion of Ireland. The prison- most magnificent Establishment that ships were freighted with the Insur- the world has ever seen? By whom gents; the jails were crowded, the was that worship ordained, to which scaffold groaned; but the Insurgency every individual of the nation, or of was not put down. It even spread the blood of the nation, far or near, under the pressure of government. gave his yearly tribute ;-to whose From the south, it flowed into the service a twelfth tribe of the nation centre and the north of Ireland. was devoted, with more than a tenth Banditti, under various names, car- part of the whole income of the land? ried fire and sword through the The Jewish Establishment was the estates of the nobles, until the time was express work of inspiration, the offripe for the catastrophe. A new ma- spring, not of the fears and vanities teriel was then thrown in to rouse the of kings or priests, but of the direct popular combustion to a flame. The command of the Creator. But the French Revolution was thenummoner proportion is stronger still. The of the new spirit of evil. Political folly tribe of Levi, to which was approand atheist fury were flung blazing in- priated, by the Divine command, a to the heap which had beensmoulder. tenth of the whole produce of Juing for fifty years. The peasant pas- dea-animals of pasture, corn, oil, sions were roused by French parti- wipe, and fruits,-was not even a sanship. The hatred of the Church twelfth part of the population. In and the landlord were swelled into the most populous period of the hatred of all that bore the name of Jewish government, under its Kings, authority. A republican Directory the males of the Tribe, from thirty

now arrayed against the years old, were calculated at no more Crown. A rebel army stood in the than thirty-eight thousand, in a pofield against the King's troops; bat- pulation of about six millions ; or, tles were fought, towns were sack- allowing for women, children, and ed, prisoners burned alive, five pro- the aged, scarcely a fortieth of the vinces were desolated, a million of male population of Israel. The money was wasted in the suppres- priests, a class chosen from among sion of the rebellion; the banish- the Levites, and sharing in their inment of multitudes, the utter im- come, received, in addition, offerings poverishment of multitudes; and the of first fruits, and contributions of bones of ten thousand of the unfor- other provision for their peculiar use. tunate peasantry mingled with those And of this no part was given for of many a gallant soldier of the King's the poor, an additional tithe of the troops, bleaching on fields of obscure produce of the land being allotted but bloody encounters, were the con- for their subsistence. Thirty-eight summation of an act of Government, thousand men devoted to the temple that, like its predecessor a century service in a population not the third before, began in rapine and. was of Great Britain. And by whom was punished in massacre.

this appointed? The same autho

was

[ocr errors]

rity which has given Revelation to demonstration go further ? or can it

be possible to doubt that the Great The outcry now is against Tithes. Author of this code was not master They are declaimed against by all of resources innumerable for the the orators of the clubs, as a public support of his worship, without this plunder. They are written against system, if it had been injurious in by all the political economists, those its nature? Or is it a contradiction philosophers of confusion, and pro- to the nature of things, that, under nounced to be, by the very nature of the most exact and universal system things, ruinous to the growth of pro- of tithe ever seen, Judea was, for perty, and especially fatal to agri- three hundred years, the happiest culture. But by what authority was country of the earth ; that hier hills the whole income of the Jewish na- and valleys were a proverb for abuntion placed under tithe? Was it by dance; and that it was not till she an authority ignorant of the working held back her hand from the supof its own principles, or desirous to port of her national church, and break down the nation which it had shared its property with the worrescued ? While we are told that ship of the heathen, that she felt the tithe is the very bane of all industry, first symptom of national downfall. the utter enemy of all improvement, The British clergy do not claim especially in the cultivaiion of the

their property in right of the Jewish ground; what are the facts ? The code. They claim it on the same whole property of Judea was agri- right by which the King of England cultural. She had neither mines nor sits on his throne-the law, and manufactures of any moment, nei- by possession older than the sancther colony nor commerce of any tion of any lay property in England, extent. Yet it was on this agricul- or in Europe. In point of right, they tural country that a universal sys- separate themselves altogether from tem of tilhe was laid, and laid by any fancied inheritance of the privi. the command of that Power which leges of the Jewish church. But they supremely willed the happiness of appeal to the history of that church, the Land; which, knowing what was unanswerable proof, that the worst and best for the nation, enact. system on which they depend is neied a system of contribution to its ther hostile to nature, nor injurious church, more extensive, unremitted, to man; they appeal to its origin, as and munificent, than ever was seen the appointment of the Divine Wison Earth, before or since, and which dom, and to its results, as the eviexhibited the soundness of the prin- dence that it is consistent with the ciple, and the safety of the measure, wellbeing of industry, the comforts in the most singular productiveness of the people, and the wealth of naand splendid luxuriance of a soil

tions. owing so little to nature, that it owed Your Majesty's Coronation Oath nearly all to industry.

is your answer, and the answer of Such is the true answer to the half- the Church, to all who demand that witted oratory of the popular de- you should sanction the general spoil. claimer, and to the solemn ignorance You have sworn to the nation that of the dreaming philosopher. The you will preserve all rights and prifirst example of a church was by vileges of the Church as by law estathe express will of the Deity, de- blished. Your Majesty's enemies clared amid the thunderings and call on you to rob the Church which lightnings of Sinai. That church

you have sworn to defend, and tell was appointed an Established Church, you that this robbery is accorda great Religious Institute, con- ing to law. They have the audacity joined with the Government of the to tell you, in defiance of the comState, each sustaining and influen- mon meaning of the English tongue, cing the other; the Church consecra- that protection implies the power, ting the State, the State defending and the power implies the right of the civil rights of the Church. That plunder. 'With the pistol of the highEstablished Church was appointed to wayman at the breast, such language derive its support from tithes, and might be heard, and must be com, those tithes were laid exclusively plied with. But for such theory, and upon the produce of the soil. Can such practice, the lawyer of the high

as

way would be hanged. Are we to told, that the extinction of the Bribe told, that was established by law,” tish throne was contemplated in the leaves an opening for all changes to phrase, “as established by law ?" If be made by the Legislature ? And this could be the case, we ought to must not this miserable perversion shape our language to the fact. Let of truth and reason be answered by the oath of allegiance be subject to the question-Does an oath to pre- this construction, and it may be the serve mean a permission to break pretext for rebellion to-morrow. Let down? Was this the intention of the its sacred promise of fidelity to the framers of the oath ?

King be open to the colouring which But to come still closer to the may be thrown on it by the vote of point. Was it the belief of any man, a popular body, and the oath may be among the thousands who rejoiced conspiracy, or nothing. But what in seeing a constitutional King take man ever heard of a contingent oath the great constitutional pledge, and of allegiance, or allowed the obligabind himself, by all his hopes here tion contracted to his King in the and hereafter, to fidelity to the peo- presence of God, to be dissolved at ple, their rights, and institutions ?- the caprice of any assembly, while Or was it tlie belief of any of those the King is true to his bond ? But high functionaries who administered no chicane of language can make a the oath, that they were then dicta- pledge to preserve the Church in all ting a formula for the seizure of the her rights, according to law, irnply a revenues of the Irish Church, to the possibility of every kind of wrong, amount of nearly one half of her total according to law," the seizure of revenues ? that they were then dis. half her income, “ according to law." carding one half of her Bishops, and Push the principle to its natural finally and for ever confiscating the length, and the oath to the preservawhole of the lands appointed for the tion of the Church will cover her support of the whole Episcopal or- total destruction; for the right is as der of Ireland ?- That your Majesty much violated in the half as in the took the Coronation Oath in perfect whole. Change may be made, but sincerity, I unequivocally believe. it must be for improvement. The That you never even contemplated plunder of half the rerenues of the the possibility of the sweeping em- Church cannot be for improvement; bezzlement now urged upon you by and it is therefore totally indefenyour enemies, I as unequivocally be. sible. Revenues, under cover of the lieve; and that, if it had been pro- phrase, “ according to law,” might posed to you in that solemn hour, be distorted into the justification of when you pledged yourself to the the wildest caprice of rabble folly, utmost defence of every privilege of or the blackest deed of rabble crime. the Constitution, and, by especial Charles I. died by a vote of the name, of the privileges of the Church Legislature-Louis XVI. died by a of the Empire, you would have spurn- vote of the Legislature. That coed the proposer with the astonish- vering of all iniquity, in the mouths ment natural to a man of honour and of the English Roundhead and the integrity, insulted by a proposal of French Jacobin, “ according to law," the deepest injury to his conscience. wrapped the regicide. But the com

Let the phrase, “ as by law esta- mon indignation of mankind refused blished,” once be suffered to imply, to suffer this insult to its reason“ as by the will” of every predomi- stripped the robe from his forehead, nant party, and every change of opi- and sent him branded to his grave. nion in the Legislature, and the whole But what is the actual state of the frame of society is unhinged. What Irish Church? As it for the express contract can stand, if its firmness de- purpose of proving the utter basepends on the vote of a popular as- ness of the cry of Reform, where the sembly? What pledge between man voice is the voice of rapine, the Irish and man—what between King and Church never was so free from all people? The throne is “established stain of inefficiency as at this hour. by law;" a vote of the House of Never was there a holier spirit of Commons may declare the throne energy infused through its entire useless, as it has declared in times system-never a more vigorous procovered with blood. Are we to be secution of all the objects that make

« PreviousContinue »