« PreviousContinue »
one or more might, if necessary, be rejected, but so that the list should not be renewed nor so diminished, as that a sufficient number might not remain for his Holiness to choose from. He then expressed surprise and some displeasure that the letter from Genoa had not been published; the bare reading of which, he said, would have considerably allayed the pious alarm and ferment of the people.
I proceeded to point out to his Holiness the destruction of religion in Ireland, which would unavoidably follow from the interference of the government in our religious concerns &c. &c. and supported by my two companions my words seemed to make a considerable impression. His Holiness then remitted my papers, as he had done with those of the bishops, who had their audience five days before, to the Secretary of State, Cardinal Goosalvi, with whom, and Cardinal Litta, his Holiness was to consult. I instantly waited on the former; his Eminence told me, he should have many and long conversations with me on the matter, it being of the highest importance.
“ I expected that the business would, according to the regular course be referred to Cardinal Litta, who is bound by his office to look to the religion of Ireland, and then, the Remonstrance could not fail of success. A regular of the Dominican order, high in the confidence of his Holiness, has expressed to me his utter abomination of the measure of a Veto, and I expect most beneficial results from the aid of his influence.
“ The prelates are impatient for an answer, and speak of leaving this in a fortnight. For my part knowing the multiplicity of business which occupies the Holy See, and the consequent tardiness in giving her answers, I am determined to remain to the last, until the matter is settled.
“ Cardinal Litta and the under secretaries of Propaganda, give me the same explanation of the letter from Genoa, that his Holiness did. This letter, which I have read, and of which Cardinal Litta promised me a copy, that it might be published, agrees perfectly with this explanation,
“ If Cardinal Gonsalvi hesitates, I expect to have the subect brought before a consistory of the Cardinals, in which case, the generals of the religious orders will give considerable assistance.
“ Monsignor Quarantotti has been frequently reprimanded by his Holiness and the Cardinal for his rescript. He is an aged and weak man, and is in compassion allowed still to countersign the rescripts of the Propaganda.
“ When I told Cardinal Litta the reasons for which the deputation, to which I was appointed secretary, declined coming, his Eminence observed that the remonstrance itself was sufficient introduction ; that from the English Catholic board of last year came by post to Mr. M'Pherson.
“ Cardinals Litta and Galessi, both tell me that the proposition contained in the letter from Genoa was rejected by the English ministers as not sufficient to satisfy the wish of govern
The former told the bishops that an appeal from the people of a whole nation must be attended to; so that I expect a favourable answer, though I fear, I must wait a considerable time for it. I shall not, however, lose my time, which is busily employed in removing the prejudice against Ireland, which English calumny has sown deep in the Roman soil.
“ I see you have disturbances in Ireland ; our enemies begin to play off the same game as in 98—excite disturbances and break the spirits of the people.
The secretary having read the last paragraph, replaced the letter in the bundle of papers from which he had taken it, but Mr. O'Connell was not to be so satisfied. The letter had no customary conclusion to it, and therefore it bore on the face of it, a direct mutilation, and a concealment of something that it was not deemed advisable to make public. This circumstance extracted from Mr. O'Connell the severest animadversions; he gave it as bis decided opinion that there was some foul play in some unknown quarter, and he expressed his determination to sift it to the bottom.
On the day, however, when the letter of the Pope was to be taken into consideration, Mr. Hayes made the following declaration.
Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen,
Before any discussion arises upon the document which has been read before the committee, I beg for a moment the favour of your attention. I have always made it a rule to sacrifice my private feelings and advantage to the public weal. Hence acting at Rome in my official capacity, faithful to my trust, no blandishment, no terror could warp me from what I conceived to be my duty. Addressing the mild and venerable Father of the faithful, or surprised in my bed of sickness by an armed force, I endeavoured according to the best of my judgement, to exhibit in my conduct the feelings and principles of my constituents.
But my delegated character has long since expired; I have now no public duty to perform: no public principle is involved in my conduct. I stand before this meeting a private individual, and therefore my every duty of a public nature becomes personal.
If the document now read, censures my conduct whilst at Rome, I stop not to inquire whether it be authentic or not; whether its charges be vague and specific, whether proved or otherwise. I stop not to inquire how the name of his Holiness came to be attached to it: whether it be the result of legal or canonical discussion, or whether those, who deprived me of liberty, have succeeded in depriving me also of my character in the eyes of the sovereign Pontiff. I stop not to ask why the document did not precede my arrest? why it has been issued twelvemonths later? in a word, why the indictment should follow the punishment: enough for me, if the Holy Father has been pleased to censure my conduct.
By faith a Catholic ; by ordination a priest; by obedience a child of the Holy See, I bow with unhesitating submission, respect, and veneration to the centre of Catholicism and source of ecclesiastical subordination, the vice-gerent of Jesus Christ. I solemnly declare, that I should choose death, rather than
allow any private or personal feeling or consideration to betray me into the slightest contest with or disrespect towards the authority or dignity of the head of the Catholic Church, Pope Pius the seventh. My tongue shall never utter a syllable of Complaint, nor my pen trace a line of vindication, for lest scandal should arise, in the words of the prophet, I exclaim, “ Take me up and cast me into the sea.”
From this moment, therefore, I publicly announce myself unconnected with every proceeding to which this document may give rise ; and this my declaration shall without delay be transmitted to Rome, prostrating myself at the feet of the Holy Father; expressing my poignant regret that my conduct in any respect should have given offence, humbly imploring his forgiveness, and assuring him of my obedience, and readiness to comply with any further form of satisfaction, which in his paternal wisdom and goodness, he may vouchsafe to command.”
During the perusal of this meek and penitent address, a frown sat upon the countenance of Mr. O'Connell, as if something were highly displeasing to him. He could at length no longer control his feelings, and with that spirit of animation which so peculiariy distinguishes him, he censured in the most pointed terms the judgment of those, who had selected a priest as the delegate of the Irish Catholics to the Holy See. In the conduct, which had been pursued towards the reverend gentleman, he threw the whole blame on the Catholic laity of Rome, whose conduct, he considered, ought to be made the subject of a vigorous examination, so as to discover to what particular party, the censure ought to be attached, and the obloquy removed, which had thereby been thrown upon the members of the Catholic Board in Ireland. Mr. O'Connell further said, that it would be seen from the Letter of the Pope, that a reference was made to a vetoistical arrangement, which his Holiness conceived the people were already in possession of; by a letter addressed by him sometime since to the Irish bishops, he could not but regret the necessity of disapproving of this proceeding upon their part, by having intercepted this document from the people, to whom they in consequence owed an explanation, The Sub-committee had within a few days received a copy of a letter addressed to the Irish bishops, with Dr. Troy's certificate annexed, as a true copy, but it had been rumoured that such was not a true copy, in consequence of which, the Sub-committee waited on Dr. Troy, who admitted that it was not a true copy, as parts of it relative to the Irish bishops were omitted, and Dr. Troy altered his certificate to that effect. The part omitted is avowed to treat the Irish bishops with severe censure. Such a violation was unjustifiable, as the bishops were always too humble, meek, and humiliated, but they could not from their conscience agree to a veto, and this circumstance should be generally known, in order to ensure from their flocks the more veneration and respect. It was therefore expedient that a deputation be renewed to Dr. Troy, for the purpose of getting a perfect copy of the Letter of the Pope to the bishops, as it was quite clear that the Pope's letter does not refer to a fragment, but to the entire of that communication : the great struggle and question were for Protestant supremacy in Ireland. He felt the inconvenience in his profession, as every day juniors were placed over his head, but he would give up all hopes and interest personally, sooner than surrender his objection to the Vote; the board should therefore in his opinion require a correct and full copy of all the documents upon the subject.”
A sub-committee was finally appointed, consisting of Messrs. O'Connell, M'Donnell, Lanigan, Scully, Howley, and Woulfe, for the purpose of considering most maturely, and reporting to the board, the appropriate proceedings most suitable in consequence of the letter from his Holiness the Pope.
The thanks of the meeting were unanimously voted to Daniel O'Connell, Esq. for his able conduct in the chair and the assembly broke up.