Page images
PDF
EPUB

design of re-establishing the Roman intention of the Legislature which Catholic religion. Of these, the dis- imposed that oath was thereby to bind pensing with laws was the most dan- the energies of the realm, by the gerous, as the exercise of such a power strongest ties of religion and conwould, of course, at once render the science, to the perpetual maintenance monarch absolutely despotic. Odious of the Protestant Church of England." as such a power, however employed, Mr Lane enters into a concise, but must be to a free people, it was ren- learned statement of the reasons on dered still more so in this case, (as which he rightly holds, that in the De Lolme has observed,) by being transactions of the Revolution are made the instrument of the subvere found ample grounds upon which the sion of the Protestant religion. Of the legislature of that day may be vindifamous “ Declaration" of the Prince of cated from the imputation of having Orange, when he embarked on his glo- been guided, with respect to the exrious enterprise, it is surely unneces- clusion of the Roman Catholics from sary now to say more, than that it con- power, by a narrow and vindictive tains these words, “ we have nothing policy: an imputation which to serve before our eyes, in this our underta- a present purpose) has been openly, king, but the preservation of the Pro- and also by implication, cast upon it testant religion.” “That the Protes- by those who, on this occasion, as tant religion, and the peace, honour, Burke said of other worthies, “ desire and happiness of these nations may be to be thought to understand the prin established upon lasting foundations." ciples of the Revolution of 1688 better This Declaration was, as Dr Phillpotts than those by whom it was brought forcibly expresses it, “ the hinge on about,” though, on other occasions, which the subsequent great transac- they are in the habit of appealing, in tions were made to turn; “ the princi. support of their own notions, to the ples and ends proclaimed in it were provisions of that legislature, as ma. referred to as the guiding rule, the nifesting the highest degree of wischart, and compass, by which the dom, moderation, and foresight. The vessel of the state was steered in safety, principle of excluding Roman Cathothrough its perilous and obstructed lics from the executive and legislative course." And immediately on the ap- departments of the state, did not ori. pearance, and in express approbation ginate in the exigencies of that period, of the principles contained in it, more nor were the restrictions upon the in, than one public declaration was made, fluence of their religion designed to as we have seen, as well by the most have merely a temporary operation. distinguished individuals, as by nu. The exclusion of Roman Catholics merous bodies of Englishmen. Passing from the throne, could then, as now, over the proceedings in the first Par. only be justified consistently on one liament, we come to the ceremony of principle, namely, that it is inconthe Coronation Oath-the House of sistent with the safety of this Proteste Commons attending on the next day ant kingdom (to use the language of to congratulate their Majesties on the the Bill of Rights) to be governed by occasion, when the Speaker in his a Popish Prince, or by any King or address said, “ that what completes Queen marrying a Papist. What was our happiness, is the experience we the language of the address of the have of your Majesty's continual care House of Commons, 20th December to maintain the Protestant religion; so 1680, to Charles the Second, which Mr that we can no longer apprehend any Lane justly calls prophetic ? " As the danger of being deprived of that inese issue of our most deliberate thoughts timable blessing either by secret prac- and consultations, that for the Papists tices or by open violence.” “ Here to have their hopes continued, that a then,” says Dr Phillpotts, “ we have prince of that religion should succeed an express acknowledgment, that the to the throne of these kingdoms, was maintenance of the Protestant religion utterly inconsistent with the preserwas the first object of the Statesmen vation of the Protestant religion, and of that day; and connecting this ac the prosperity, peace, and welfare of knowledgment with the occasion on the Protestant subjects." And here which it was made, and the plain Mr Lane quotes a well-known senallusion to the oath their Majesties had tence and a most emphatic one it is both taken, we cannot doubt that the employed by Lord Shaftesbury in the

debate on the state of the nation-two places of influence, all who " enter. years before-March 25, 1678, prog- tain scruples” of renouncing obedience nosticating the mischief which would to the jurisdiction or authority of ensue from the accession of a Papist “a foreign prince, prelate, state, or to the crown, and which did ensue on potentate within this realm.” By inthe occurrence of that event which he corporating, in one and the same relaboured to prevent. “ Popery and solution, these important provisions, slavery, like two sisters, go hand in affecting the sovereign and the subject, hand, and sometimes one goes first, they stamped them with the same au. sometimes the other ; but wheresoever thority. Nothing can be better on this the one enters, the other always fole point than the following passage :lowing close at hand !” Hume (a philosopher, who, as Mr Lane justly

“ The strong terms used in the esta.

blishment of these provisions with reference remarks, like Shaftesbury, regarded to the permanency of them, afford no ground religion only as a politician,) assigns, to charge the Legislators of 1688 with enas the result of his observation, “ the tertaining the absurd design of attempting disadvantages of recalling the abdi. to give by words an immutability to their cated family, consist chiefly in their institutions, of which, in the nature of religion, which affords no toleration, things, those institutions were not suscep. or peace, or security, to any other com

tible. Their language is to be taken with munion."

reference to the remarkable circumstances Though, however, it were admitted,

under which it was used, and to the sub

ject to which it was applied. They well that the Legislature of 1688 only con

knew that they could not, indeed, by the firmed a principle of government long

employment of the most solemn and em. before introduced, and that, in doing phatic terms, stay the hand of innovation so, they regarded not merely the im in after times. But they could, and they mediate dangers to be apprehended did, thereby render the enactments com. from the adherents of the expelled prised, expressly or by implication, within family, but the political tendency, in the articles of that compact, fundamental a Protestant state, of the principles of Laws of the Constitution. Future Legisthe Roman Catholic religion, still,

lators might adopt principles opposed to could nothing farther be adduced, it

those upon which they acted ; future Sovemight perhaps be urged, that there is

reigos might reign by another tenure than

that which they instituted ; but it was for not anything to shew that the exclu.

them to mark in indelible characters upon sion of Roman Catholics from politi

the records of the Revolution, a warning cal power was designed to be esta.

which should go down with their institublished as a permanent principle of tions to posterity :-that, should any of the Constitution. But the maintenance those fundamental laws be abolished, the of this principle, namely, the exclue character of the Constitution would be sion of Roman Catholics from power, changed, and the compact of the Revolution was an article of the express contract

be at an end !" of 1688, and one of the conditions In the Act of Settlement, (after conupon which the Crown was settled in firming the law for excluding Papists the Protestant, to the exclusion of the from the Throne,) it is enacted that Roman Catholic, line of succession every king and queen who shall succeed For the terms of this contract we can to the Crown by virtue thereof, “ shall refer to those legislative enactments have the Coronation Oath administeralone, by which the settlement of the ed to him, or her, or them, at their Crown was made, namely, the Bill of respective coronations, according to Rights, as incorporated with the act the act for establishing the Coronation of settling the succession of the Crown, Oath, and shall make, subscribe, and and the several acts passed as circum- repeat the declaration (against Popery) stances required, in corroboration of in the Bill of Rights." Now, in thus the principle then laid down. The coupling the Coronation Oath with Parliament of 1688, by a new Act of the declaration against Popery, is it Supremacy, formed by retaining as possible to doubt that they can intend much of the old oath as exclusively to refer to the same objects, and were affected Roman Catholics, at the same designed to have, in one important time that they extended to the Throne particular, the same operation, namethe principle of exclusion, deliberately ly, to render the Crown a barrier confirmed the existing laws, disqualin against the encroachments of Popery? fying from the legislation, and other Mr Lane has some acute remarks, in

a note, respecting the declaration fullest extent, we should feel that a against Popery

i fatal blow had been struck at the " It may here occur to the reader, that heart of the well-being of Britainin none of the claims yet made by the Ro: but we should feel still that the King man Catholics for unlimited concession,' did right. But this much is clear as has the exclusion of persons of that com- day, that neither honest and enlightmunion from the Throne, on account of ened king, nor honest and enlightened their religious tenets, been touched upon subject, can think that it is an easy as a grievance; and that it has been fre

thing to come to that conclusionquently declared by the advocates of those

that any little difficulties with which claims in Parliament, that the concession

the interpretation of the oath may of them would in no degree affect the pro

be surrounded, can be all brushed visions for securing the Protestant succes. sion. But let us suppose members of Par

away like old cobwebs, by the reckliament to be exempted from this and other less and unhallowed hands of tempotests against Popery; how long does any rizing, say at once pettifogging lawrational person suppose that this declara yers. King William felt that oath tion would remain in force as regards the “rounding his temples" with an Sovereign ? Would it not then be urged awful weight; and had he tampered with great force, that when this Royal Test with its almost ineffable sanctity, he was required to be taken before the two would have speedily been dismissed on Houses of Parliament, it was contem- the heels of the Abricated and reduced plated that it would be taken in an assem.

back again into the Prince of Orange. bly of Protestants only, and that it is not to be endured that men should be sub

Times indeed are different - but jected in this liberal age to the pain of ha

times are also the same. The Tree ving their religion thus stigmatized in their

of British Liberty-the oak in whose presence ? an annoyance to which the Le shadow dethroned monarchs have slept, gislature of 1688 obviously never intended till their restoration to their thrones, Roman Catholics to be subjected. Before in foreign lands—has flung out more the next accession, doubtless this remain gigantic limbs, and its trunk is more ing barrier,—the issue of the deliberate tower-like. But its sap is the same thoughts and consultations' of former Par. and rough and thick as is its venerliaments, and established at the Revolu.

able rind, and enclosed within the tion as absolutely essential to the peace and security of this Protestant kingdom,'

sacred pale planted around it by the would be removed ! To save appearances,

wisdom of those who dropt it of old some other form, with many holiday and an acorn into the soil, that has sent lady terms, as efficacious as the tests in up that Glory to the sun, it may be use before this declaration was framed, perforated and drilled through by would perhaps be substituted ; and the foolish foresters seeking, perhaps, as principle of a Protestant succession be left they say, but to revivify-till the (as the Church of England would have plague of poison penetrate to the heart, been left by the Bill proposed in 1825) to and in far less time-many, many centhe security of the preamble of the Act of turies less than it took to grow up Parliament, in the body of which the ex. into the monarch of all the woods. isting security would be repealed !”

will it decay, while weeping Liberty, Now, we ask, is the Coronation ere she leave the land, will inscribe on Oath what Lord Liverpool chose to the stem, call it, a bugbear? George the Third

« Magni stat nominis umbra." was not afraid of bugbears. He had too true a British soul for that-too Let no man, then, who has the heart clear a conscience. We shall not say and soul of an Englishman, the conthat no King of England could grant science of a Christian, dare to degrade the Catholic claims without violating himself by talking of the bigoted prehis Coronation Oath. It is a case of judices of King George the Third on conscience. If, on consulting his con- the subject of his own Coronation science, often and long, and seeking Oath. It is easy for paltry persons to enlighten it by all discourse of who break their word, either in letter reason with man, and all prayer to or spirit, on every occasion that suits God, a King of England should with their interest or convenience, to turn the holiest reverence of his Coronation up their lips and noses at a king's Oath-the most awful oath that ever Coronation Oath. The creatures have fell from the lips of the Lord's anoints only for a moment to imagine themed-grant the Catholic claims to their selves, by the grace of God, King of

Great Britain, France, and Ireland, son, and compass the king's death, with the same character on a throne, not only “ his withers would be una that had hitherto dignified an imi- wrung," but his body undecapie tation mahogany arm-chair bought tated? Such declaration is utterly ira cheap at a sale of the household fur, reconcilable with his manly characniture of a retired retailer of brown ter-it is absolute infatuation-and sugar and black tea, neatly wrapped covers himself, as editor of his journal, up in ounce-weight paper pyramids; with deep, dark, and ineffaceable dis, and such a “cutpurse of the Empire," grace. As the head of the Whig party would have no more scruple in cheats in Scotland, the only man of great ing his country than his customers. genius among them, he not only is But we expect the gentlemen of Eng- answerable for all such articles, but land to speak in a very different mood he ought either to rejoice in them of the solemn sanction of a great oath. when in print, or suitably to dispose Dr Phillpotts has, with well-merited of them in manuscript. He is under and unsparing severity, slashed up a no physical necessity-we shall not palıry article in the Edinburgh Ře profane the term moral—of editing view on this subject-making use, all either high or petty treason--insos along, not unwarrantably, though we lent insults on his dead king's capa. wish it had been otherwise, of the city and conscience-inhuman insults name of Mr Jeffrey. One writer at on that disorder in his reason with least, name ungiven but not unknown, which it pleased God to visit him ; (Mr Brougham, beyond all doubt, though, perhaps, the visitation was one although Dr Phillpotts says he has of mercy on his old age. Mr Jeffrey been assured on good authority of the cannot regard such things with absocontrary,) in that Journal, which, lute indifference, still less can be, like though brought on its marrow-bones others, chuckle over them in the same by the Doctor, still keeps striking in savage glee in which they were scribe effectuully at its victorious assailant, bled by “ certainly the First Man in has written-often indeed, before this the House.” Neither is it credible -of the late king, in a style most re. that he can have overlooked them; volting and loathsome. Mr.Jeffrey, and therefore he inust stand the brunt we all know, is not that writer ; but of Dr Phillpotts's fire, which is kept we are altogether at a loss to under- up with great steadiness, quickness, stand how he could ever have brought and precision, till the fort in which himself to declare, indignantly too, the editor has taken up a position is re. that he is not responsible for any duced to ashes, the governor made pristatements made by others in the Re- soner, after narrowly escaping death, view of which he is editor. He is and the garrison marched out without not, we grant, responsible for every the honours of war. sentence, word, or syllable ; and on The king, in one of his letters to subjects of mere literature, or even Mr Pitt, had said that he considered philosophical speculation,—though the Coronation Oath as a religious obthen too, surely a certain consistency ligation on him to maintain the fun. is expected, and a certain responsibi damental maxims of the Constitution, lity incurred,-it would be absurd to namely, that the Church of England, take him, or any other editor of a being the established one, those who periodical journal, too severely to task hold employments in the State must for sentiments and opinions, to which be members of it, and consequently he might give his *“ imprimatur," obliged, not only to take oaths against without stamping upon them the au. Popery, but to receive the Holy Com. thority of his own approbation. But munion agreeably to the rites of the in a most momentous and mighty Church of England. He adds, that question of national politics, invol. this opinion was not formed on the ving the character and conscience of moment, but had been imbibed by his king, and the best, nay all the in- him for forty years. The Reviewer, terests of his country, how can an says Dr Phillpotts, “with the folly, eminent and distinguished person like as well as the malice, of a Thersites, is Mr Jeffrey have the folly to declare, pleased to charge his Majesty, in very that he, the editor, stands aloof from plain terms, for expressing these senhis contributors, and that, in fact, timents, with the alternative either of were they to be guilty of high trea dotage or falsehood. “It is quite ima

possible," says he, “ that one having hold employments in the State must be all his faculties about him could write members of the Established Church ? . this, with the regard to truth which the “There remains the statute of 1793. And late King has been so much praised

so much praised what are the provisions of that Act? Why, for." Nothing, truly, can be more dis

that Roman Catholics may hold all of

fices civil and military,' except those which gusting than that a traitorous eneer.

are properly, and according to all reason. But Dr Phillpotts goes on to expose the

able construction, employments in the gross ignorance of the Reviewer, who

State ;' from these they are, by that very has said, “ To say nothing of the statute, expressly excluded. Forty Indemnity Bills, which he had “ Let my readers now look back to the made acts, how came he to pass the insolent charge brought by Mr Jeffrey Irish acts of 1778 and 1793, which took against this prince, who, beyond all who off infinitely more restrictions from the ever sat before him on the British throne, Catholics than they left behind !The

deserved and acquired the glorious title of Reviewer also says, in reference to

a Patriot King, and then let them assign to the late King's having consulted the

his calumniator that measure of indigna

tion which their own feelings will dictate. late Lord Kenyon, as in a case of con

" But Mr Jeffrey is not satisfied with science, respecting the Coronation reviling the late King; he must also give Oath,“we much question the fairness, us his notion of what is the duty of all if not the constitutionality, of secretly kings, in the very delicate matter of inconsulting a Chief-Justice and an At forming their own conscience, in a case in torney-General, instead of a Cabinet which their own conscience alone is responMinister, upon the policy to be pursued sible; and the result is, that the sovereign in a great question of state.” Now, is must, in fact, have no conscience at all. it not “ quite refreshing” to behold He must consider himself as degraded from here the infliction of the bastinado?

the rank of a moral and accountable crea

ture, and must submit to be directed in all "Mi Jeffrey knows quite well, what is his sentiments, even of religious duty, by the nature of an Indemnity Act, and he his cabinet for the time being. This is has probably looked into one of those of really the sum and substance of Mr Jef. which he is speaking. He must know, frey's opinion, though he has thought fit therefore, that there is nothing whatever in to express it in the following very peculiar such an Act at variance with the princi. terms:- We much question the fairness, ple which his Majesty professed ;-that, so if not the constitutionality, of secretly confar from it, a Bill of Indemnity proceeds sulting a chief justice, and an attorney. on the very principle of recognising the general, instead of a cabinet minister, upon binding character of the Law which has the policy to be pursued in a great question been violated, though it excuse the viola of State. Mr Jeffrey is no fool; he knows tion, in consideration of the special circum. as well as any man, that the point on which stances of the occasion. As far, therefore, the King consulted Lord Kenyon, was no. as the Indemnity Acts are concerned, it is thing like what he has thought proper here quite plain, that Mr Jeffrey has made this to state it. He knows, that his Majesty indecent charge absolutely without a par. did not, on this occasion, consult his chief ticle of ground on which to sustain it." justice on any matter of State at all, but

" But he speaks further of the Irish on a previous question, which, whatever Acts of 1778 and 1793, saying that His may be Mr Jeffrey's sentiments upon it, Majesty could not with truth, if he were in appeared to George III., and, thank God, his senses, assert that he had the view he appears to George IV., infinitely more im. professes of his Coronation Oath, when he portant to him than any matter of State assented to them. Did Mr Jeffrey ever whatever. His previous question was, whe. look into these Statutes ? The first of them, ther, if a measure which had been, in fact, I am bound in charity to believe, that he rejected by his cabinet at that particular never so much as saw. For if he had seen time, should ever hereafter be proposed to it, he could not have had the effrontery to him, he, the King, was not so bound by affect to adduce it in derogation of his Ma. his Coronation Oath, that he must give his jesty's honour. That Act enables Papists, decided negative to it? This, I say, was on taking certain oaths, to enjoy the rights the point on which Lord Kenyon was conof property on the same footing as their sulted ; it was a point of conscience; and Protestant fellow-subjects. What is there on it the King, with perfect' fairness,' and in this at variance with his Majesty's prin. perfect constitutionality,' might have con. ciple, of maintaining it as a fundamental sulted any person whatsoever,-MrJeffrey, maxim of the Constitution, that those who if he had pleased. If it were not so, what

. It was not revived during the next six years.

« PreviousContinue »