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titude gave them, for the first time, power founded upon feeling and opinion :thus, they were enabled to overawe their haughty accomplices, and enforce their growing demands to a share in the prosecution of the common cause.
• Time,' said a great man, is perpetually changing human affairs; it is wisdom to watch his progress, and adapt the institutions of the state to his changes; and without attention to these, history is but an almanack, and experience a cheat.' It was a just and pregnant apophthegm; with not the less either of force or of beauty, from that unaffectedness of expression, which distinguishes the eloquence of the right honourable orator. discover, without recurring to the voice of revelation, that there is some mighty confluence of destinies, to which the whole human race is incessantly on its way: in the most permanent societies, and most tranquil seasons, a process is carried on, which tends to separate man from his institutions, as, in the lapse of ages, the fixed stars themselves have deserted their primeval signs. To look, therefore, to the past alone, is the error of a schoolman, who renounces tlie world of living realities, and sojourns in the shadowy region of his own abstractions. To watch, and to provide for, those silent influences, which time is continually shedding; to correct irregularities, some as they arise, others in their causes; to make every new measure a liberal analogy from the past, and a safe precedent for the future ; and thus, while the parts are in unceasing flow, to secure the continued stability of the system ; — these are the noblest cares of a statesman, the cares which approach nearest to the plastic energy of Providence, • reaching mightily from one end to the other, and sweetly ordering all things.'
The statesmen of the present day have departed, in many respects, from the practice of their predecessors. It was not the vanity of empiricism turning aside from the admonitions of history, to throw the public weal into a crucible, or to invoke some idol within the breast * for a response upon the fate of empires, —which dictated this conduct; it was a grave conviction, that new objects and events, as they successively arose, acted upon the pre-existing mass, and induced a variety of new relations. To maintain the state in a wholesome correspondence with this order of nature, was obviously the design of that alterative course which our public men have been lately pursuing. Conscious, then, as they must be, that every notable occurrence, and every material change in the posture of affairs, would furnish a new element in their own calculations, they will not insist upon a tame identity of details, as necessary for the proof of a uniform policy in others. In proportion as they give men credit for a spirit and integrity similar to their own, they will be prepared to find in them a system of adaptation to the mutability
* Idolum Specâs. - Bacon.
of earthly things, and to regard it as the best evidence of a wise consistency.
Now, the church of Rome, whether it be considered locally in these islands, or diffusively throughout Christendom, is pre-eminently marked by this continuity of principle. What is a century in the history of a nation ?' asked the most brilliant of our statesmen, when he would extort an argument from the supposed * recency of the penal laws :
* Many penal laws, and these the best aimed of the whole code, are some centuries earlier than the Reformation ; they relate to the correspondence between ecclesiastics and the court of Rome. Henry the Eighth did no more than follow up the principles of his predecessors, in opposing a foreign jurisdiction, and, upon all speculative points, was a furious Roman Catholic. Of late years, a mistaken tenderness for religious liberty has protected the prelates in all their intrigues; but, as every sober man saw that restraint must be laid somewhere, the gentry have continued to suffer, for the licentious freedom of their guides. As it may
be desirable to show, that our earlier statutes did provide for the coercion of the clergy, the following instance is quoted from a Roman Catholic writer. • It may be objected,' says Dr. O'Connor, ‘that Lalor, vicar-general of Dublin, was persecuted for exercising his functions in 1606. Countrymen, beware, these are loose assertions. — Inquire into facts, and you will find that Lalor was justly prosecuted, not persecuted, on the Catholic statute of Præmunire, enacted in the Catholic reign of Richard the Second, for the security of a Catholic state. He was prosecuted on that act, for exercising foreign jurisdiction within the realm of Ireland, in order to convince the Irish, says Sir John Davies, that even popish kings and parliaments deemed the pope an usurper of those exorbitant jurisdictions which he claimed, and thought them inconsistent with the loyalty of the subject and the independence of the
« what is a century in the history of the papacy ?' is a question which might have been proposed with much more reason.
Twelve centuries have passed over its head; during that astonishing period, its plans, like its ecclesiastical discipline, have been modified to suit the place or the occasion, but its purpose has retained that unshaken firmness which is ascribed to its faith. • The hands,' says Dr. Robertson, which held the reins of administration, might change, but the spirit which conducted them was always the same. While the measures
• He was convicted, and sentenced accordingly. But, though this occurred the very next year after the discovery of the Gunpowder plot, yet, such was James's moderation, that the sentence was never executed; and, to show the Irish that no persecution of their religion was meant, the king issued, in the course of that very year, a commission of several graces, one of which was to secure all Irish estates, by new patents, against all the claims of the crown.
• Aye, — but Lalor was first prosecuted on the act of Supremacy. Granted ; — and, therefore, he humbled himself to the Court, and made a recognition, that he was not lawful vicargeneral in the diocese of Dublin, Kildare, and Ferns. Upon this recognition, he would have been enlarged; but finding an outcry raised against him, that he had renounced the pope's supremacy, he declared that he meant only to acknowledge the king's authority in mere temporals, without any reference to the church. A religious cry was now raised against the government; Lalor was extolled as a confessor who was persecuted for religion; and, therefore, to satisfy the Irish how grossly their credulity was imposed upon, the prosecution on the statute 2d of Elizabeth was quashed, and a new prosecution was instituted, on the Catholic act of Præmunire. Never did man incur the penalty of the law more deservedly than Lalor.' - Historical Address, ii.
of other governments fluctuated, and the objects at which they aimed varied, the church kept one end in view; and to this unrelaxing constancy of pursuit, it was indebted for its success, in the boldest attempts ever made by human ambition.' Time has changed, and is changing, the form of every thing around it, new modelling constitutions, shifting the balance of power, creating or destroying states and empires ; — his heavy hand falls weakly upon the papacy. This singular monarchy bears up mysteriously against the rush of events; opposing innovation, while opposition is prudent; and, when it bends to the force of circumstances, preparing to recover its lost ascendency, with unabated alacrity, and inexhaustible resources.
In the narrower sphere of Ireland, it is easy to trace the same unbroken spirit, with the same pliancy of external accommodation. For the last fifty years, the Roman Catholic bishops have been engaged, with little intermission, in treating with various members of the government, both in England and Ireland: in every instance, they have over-reached or eluded them, and held on their sinuous course of aggrandisement, without sustaining one decisive defeat. They have received with equal freedom, and treated with equal dexterity, the overtures which were made to them, from time to time, by aspirants after place, and declaimers upon patriotism. They have intrigued with all parties ; they have cajoled and vilified, used and abused them, as suited their purposes, yet never