Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

9,400 ecclesiastical incumbents, 177 only resigned their preferments, on the accession of queen Elizabeth, as I have met with this assertion in several respectable authors; but an attentive consideration of it, has convinced me that it is erroneous. Wood* informs us, that, “after the catholics had “ left the university of Oxford, upon the alteration " of religion, it was so empty, that there was very “seldom a sermon preached in the university “ church.

The university,” he adds,“ seemed “to be destroyed.” So lately as 1563, the speaker of the house of commons complained, that “many “ of the schools and benefices were seized, the " education of youth disappointed, and the succours “ for knowledge cut off. This,” said the speaker, “I dare aver, that the schools in England are “ fewer than formerly by one hundred, and many “ of them but slenderly stocked; and this is one “ reason, the number of men is so remarkably “ diminished. The universities are decayed, and

great market towns are without either school “ or preacher t.” You know how frequently such representations occur in the histories of those times : could the fact have been as they represent it, if your assertion had been founded? Besides, --I have before me doctor Bridgewater's “ Concertatio," published in 1594: he gives in it the names, and the rank or condition in life, of 1,200 romancatholics, who had been deprived of their livings or estates, or had been imprisoned or banished for

* Cited in Dodd's Church Hist. vol. 2, p. 319. + Collier's Ecc. Hist. vol. 2, p. 480.

their religion, previously to the year 1588, the period when the persecution of the catholics began to rise to its greatest height. He does not include, in this list, those who suffered death for their religion; these he had mentioned, and had described their several sufferings in the former parts of his work. He declares, that he was far from having named all the sufferers, and that he had mentioned the names of those only, whose sufferings had come to his personal knowledge: many, whose names he mentions, died in prison, and some under sentence of death. Is not there ground, therefore, for questioning the truth of the assertions I have noticed ?

You mention, with praise, the moderation of the conduct of queen Elizabeth, in respect to the roman-catholics, at the beginning of her reign. I agree with you, in lauding the feelings which induced her to direct, that the supplication, “ From the tyranny of the bishop of Rome, and all “ his detestable enormities, deliver us, O Lord !”— should be omitted from the litany. I also think, that her directions, that the sacramental bread should be kept in the form of wafers ; and that the language of the article, which affirmed the real presence, should be framed in ambiguous language, proceeded from a desire of making the pale of her new church as comprehensive as possible. May I be permitted to add, without offence, that the consideration which I have given to the history of queen Elizabeth has led me to suppose, that the queen was indifferent to all religions; that her taste inclined to the roman-catholic, and her interest to the protestant; that Leicester, Cecil and Walsingham, her principal ministers, were influenced, in their opposition to the catholic religion, both by inclination and interest ; that they had a strong bias towards the puritan faith and discipline ; and that they possessed, in a great degree,-a degree, perhaps, much greater than their sovereign,—the spirit of intolerance, which tarnished the character of the first reformers ?

XV, 2.

Summary of the Laws passed in the Reign of Queen

Elizabeth against Roman-catholics. I shall first mention, as succinctly as possible, the principal laws, which were passed against the romancatholics during the reign of queen Elizabeth ; then show, in what manner they were executed.

1. By an act passed in the first year of her reign, and usually called the “ Act of Supremacy," archbishops, bishops, and other ecclesiastical officers and ministers, and generally all persons receiving the queen's fee, were required to take the oath of supremacy prescribed by it: such as refused were incapacitated from holding any office; and all, who denied the queen's supremacy, were, for the first offence, punishable by forfeiture of goods and chattels ; for the second, subjected to the penalties of a premunire; and, for the third, rendered guilty of high treason.

It is proper to observe, in this place, that the oath of supremacy, prescribed by this act, was essentially different from the oath of supremacy in present use. By the latter oath, the person swears negatively, that no foreign prince or potentate hath any authority within this realm; by the former, he swore affirmatively, that the queen was head of the church. The present oath is taken without scruple by the protestant dissenters; and it was to favour them, that the negative form was adopted in the reign of William III : the affirmative form was as inconsistent with the principles of the protestant dissenters, as with the principles of the roman-catholics.

I beg leave to call your attention to this observation, when you prepare a new edition of your work.

2. By another act, passed in the first year of Queen Elizabeth,—then usually called the Act of Uniformity,"--all ministers of the church were enjoined to use the Book of Common Prayer, under certain penalties; others were inflicted on those who spoke in derogation of it, or prevented its use : Those, who absented themselves from church, were subjected to a forfeiture of one shilling to the poor for every Sunday upon which they should so absent themselves, and of twenty pounds to the king, if they continued such absence for a month together; and, if they kept in their house an inmate guilty of such absence, they were to forfeit ten pounds for every such month : Every fourth Sunday of absence was held to complete the month ; and thus, in

relation to these penalties, thirteen months were supposed to occur in every year.

3. By an act passed in the fifth year of the queen, persons maintaining the authority of the pope, were subjected to the penalties of a premunire ; and ecclesiastical persons, fellows of colleges in the university, and officers of courts of justice, were compellable to take the oath of supremacy, under the same penalty of premunire for the first offence, and the penalties of high treason for the second : and persons, who had said or heard mass, might have the oath tendered to them; and their refusal of it was punishable by the same penalties.

4. The act of the thirteenth of her majesty enacted, that persons who affirmed that

queen

Elizabeth was not a lawful sovereign; or that any other had a preferable title ; or that she was an heretic, schismatic, or infidel; or that the right to the crown and the succession could not be determined by law; and persons bringing or receiving bulls, briefs, or absolutions, from the pope, -were to be deemed guilty of high treason; their aiders or abettors were made guilty of a premunire ; persons concealing them were punishable for misprision of treason ; and priests bringing Agnus Deis, or similar articles, blessed by the pope, were subjected to premunire.

The pecuniary mulcts for recusancy were rigidly required. The money thus raised from the catholics amounted to a large sum : it was chiefly levied on the poor, the rich purchasing, from Elizabeth, dispensations from attendance at the protestant

« VorigeDoorgaan »