Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

service. Mr. Andrews * computes the annual amount of the money, thus received by Elizabeth for dispensations, at twenty thousand pounds.

5. The act of the twenty-third of queen Elizabeth subjected all persons, pretending to have power to withdraw her majesty's subjects from their allegiance, or from the established religion, or moving them to promise obedience to the see of Rome, or any other potentate, to the punishment of high treason: Persons so withdrawn, their aiders and abettors, and persons knowing of such practices and not disclosing them, were rendered guilty of misprision of treason. Every priest saying mass, was to forfeit two hundred marks ; every person hearing it, was to forfeit one hundred ; and each was to be imprisoned for a year, and till he had paid the fine. This statute also aggravated the penalties of recusancy, and contained other severe inflictions.

6. The still severer act of the twenty-seventh year of her majesty's reign, enacted, 1. that all jesuits, seminary and other priests, within the realm, should depart out of it, under pain of being judged traitors, and suffering death, as in the case of treason; and jesuits, seminary and other priests, coming into the realm, were subjected to the same penalties : 2. Persons receiving or maintaining them, were to be adjudged felons, without benefit of clergy: 3. Persons sending money to the seminaries, or to any of their inmates, were subjected to the penalties of a premunire : 4. And persons knowing of any such priest, and not discovering him within

Continuation of Henry's Hist, vol. 2, p. 35.

[ocr errors]

twelve days, were to be fined and imprisoned at the king's pleasure.--It should be observed, that the punishment of premunire, mentioned in this and the other statutes, to which I have referred, was, that, from the time of conviction, the convict should be out of the protection of the king, and his lands and goods forfeited to him ; and that his body should remain at the king's pleasure.

7. To these inflictions we must add, the court of high commission, established by queen Elizabeth, under the provisions of an act passed in the first year of her reign. Agreeing in little else, Hume* and Neale † perfectly accord in their accounts of the unconstitutional nature and arbitrary rules of this tribunal, and of the enormities of its proceedings. “ It was,” says the former of these writers, " a real inquisition, attended with all the iniquities “ as well as cruelties inseparable from that tribu“ nal.” It was aimed against all dissenters from the established religion ; but the roman-catholics were the principal sufferers under it. Permit me to express some surprise, that I do not find, in the present chapter of your work, a single word of bitter condemnation of the institution of this unconstitutional, cruel, and iniquitous tribunal.

You say, that “ the proceedings of Elizabeth's " government, both towards the papists and puri“ tans, were grounded upon these principles : that “conscience is not to be restrained, but won by 165 force of truth, witli the aid of time, and use of all

* Hist. of England, c. 12.
+ History of the Puritans, vol. 1, p. 10.

"good means of persuasion ; and that cases of con“science, when they exceed their bounds, and

grow to be matter of faction, lose their nature; “ and however they may be coloured with the pre“ tence of religion, are then to be restrained and

punished.”

But, -had faction been proved against any, when the first laws against recusancy were published ; or when the court of high commission was established? Do you not, in this place, to justify the penalties for recusancy, unwaringly adopt the most objectionable tenet of intolerance : that theological opinion is to be the test of civil allegiance? And thus make it just and fair to infer, from a person's holding a theological opinion contrary to the religion of the state, that his allegiance is unsound; and that he should, therefore, be punished for the unsoundness of it, by pains, penalties and disabilities of extreme severity? It was in consequence the adoption of this principle, that the romancatholics and presbyterians suffered in England during the reign of queen Elizabeth, and her three next successors; and that presbyterians suffered in Scotland during the reign of Charles II. You say the puritans grew to matter of faction: But which preceded the other? did the law precede the faction, or the faction precede the law ?

You treat the points in difference between the established church and puritans as trifles; or, as you call them, after Calvin, “ tolerable fooleries." But who is to be the judge, in these cases, of what

of

is important, and what is trifling and foolery? If you say the state,—then the Roman magistrate justly punished the christians for what he considered their trifling and foolish non-conformity to the pontifical law of Rome. If you deny this power to the Roman state, but ascribe it to the English parliament, I call upon you to declare the ground of this distinction: if it is, because the latter had the Bible, which the Roman state had not, I ask you, why the roman-catholic or the puritan interpretation of the Bible should not be thought as good as that of the establishment ?

Elizabeth, you intimate, foresaw danger in the principles of the puritans. But do principles, before they come into action, justify actual persecution ?-Besides,—did the principle of the puritans amount to more than the principle professed by all protestants as the basis of their religion,-that they, acknowledge no divine law but the scriptures; no interpreter of them but the understanding and conscience of the individual who peruses them?

You mention some calumnies and hearsay stories, printed by two Spanish or Portuguese monks: but what are we to say to the calumnies against the roman-catholics, respecting the fire of London, Oates's plot, and “ the hundreds of the ghosts of

protestants drowned by the rebels at Portadown “ bridge, who," as Temple avers in his history of the Irish rebellion, “were seen in the river, bolt-upright, “and were heard to cry out for revenge on the Irish One of them,” he says,

was seen with

" rebels.

“hands lifted up, and standing in that posture “ from the twenty-ninth of December to the latter “ end of the following month.”

Surely it now is full time that all this laughable, but mischievous trifling and foolery, should have an end!

XV. 3.

Executions of the Roman-catholics under the sanguinary

part of the Penal Code of Queen Elizabeth. I HAVE shortly mentioned their sufferings under, the enactments against recusancy, I now proceed to mention the inflictions under the sanguinary provisions of some of these acts.

The total number of those who suffered capitally under them is calculated by Dodd, in his Church History, at one hundred and ninety-one : further inquiries by doctor Milner increase their number to two hundred and four. Fifteen of these, he says, were condemned for denying the queen's supremacy; one hundred and twenty-six for the exercise of priestly functions; and the others for being reconciled to the catholic faith, or aiding or assisting priests. In this list, no person is included who was executed for any plot, either real or imaginary, except eleven, who suffered for the pretended plot of Rheims, or Rome; a plot, which, as doctor Milner justly observes, was so daring a forgery, that even Camden, the partial biographer of Elizabeth, allows the sufferers to have been political victims.

R

« VorigeDoorgaan »