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CONCEALMENT OF CONFESSIONS.
Mr. EDITOR,-Although I may congratulate you, and all friends, to our constitution in Church and State, on the late decision of the Roman Catholic question, in the House of Commons, and thank you, with them, for your efforts in the common cause ; yet, we are not to suffer any vain hope of security, from what has been done, to relax our diligence, in what remains to be done, so long as the turbulent spirit, on the other side of the water, is not laid. The following fact, which I am about to give you, and you may depend upon its authenticity,-may, therefore, be thought, by you, to be worthy of publicity and record. It will serve to shew what is, in these days of effulgence in Christian knowledge, the feeling, about oaths, in the conscience of, I believe, a very respectable Roman Catholic Priest.
Soon after a horrid assassin attempted, in order to elude the punishment of the law for his atrocious crime, to destroy himself ; a near relative of the murdered, most estimable and most lamented, persons, moved by Christian benevolence towards their murderer, requested an intimate friend, who was with him, (having learnt that the man was 'a Roman Catholic) to go to town, in search of a Priest, and to bring him to the dying man, that he might have all the consolation derivable from his peculiar religion. The ecclesiastic, who was procured for this purpose, had not long been seated in the carriage, with the gentleman who had been dispatched to find him, and who accompanied him to the house of the deceased, before he said, "Sir, I hope you are
aware, that whatever confession the man may make to me, as a Priest, -- I shall not be able to divulge it; if he makes any confession to me, as a man,
the case will be different ; it will be the same as a confession made
other man : moreover, Sir, if he were to confess the crime, of “ which he is suspected, to me, as a Priest, and I were to be called upon “' afterwards, to give evidence upon his trial, I should swear that he had “ not confessed it; because the confession would not, in this case, be “ made to me, but to Jesus Christ I" These were, to the best of the recollection of the gentlemen, the very words of the ecclesiastic; and he took occasion to repeat them, in substance, even to the third time.
I had intended, Mr. Editor, to offer you a few remarks upon this extraordinary fact; but I know, that your pages may, already, be more usefully engaged ; and that brevity is an essential article, in communications for a periodical work like your's. I will only add, that the Roman Catholic Priest, upon his arrival, was assured that no advantage should be taken of
Vol. I. (Prot. Adv. September 1813.)
any thing that might pass between him and his patient; and that he should not be called upon, judicially, to give any account of it.
From the same authentic source of intelligence I learn, that there is not the smallest foundation for a report, which has gone abroad, that the man was actuated by any religious zeal, or by any sentiment of revenge, in the perpetration of the horrid deed; but that there is rational grounds for sapposing, that robbery was his first purpose,-murder only his second, in case of his being detected and resisted. 10th July 1813.
*** The poor wretch, whom we saw in the House of Correction in ColdBath Fields, has been tried and executed, and the restraint under which we lay is now removed. We cannot enter into the force of that refined distinction mentioned between confessing to the man and confessing to the Priest ; for the man in question was also a Priest, and could not divest himself of his office and order. If a culprit should confess his crime, and that felony or treason (petty), to Jesus Christ, the man who was witness to the confession must himself approach very near to the commission of a crime, viz, that of misprision of felony or treason, should he not divulge it. The word crime was used, if our correspondent states the language of the ecclesiastic correctly ;--now society has cognizance of crimes ; a man is auswerable for sins at an higher tribunal than this world possesses. A Priest has received “power and commandment to declare and pronounce to" a sincere" penitent, the absolation and remission of" his sin : but we cannot subscribe to the doctrine that the Priest has any thing to do with crime beyond any other man.-- Whatever may have been the real motive of the murderer, we feel convinced that no adequate motive to his horrible deed has as yet been disclosed. He never touched the property of his victims He spoke of a sudden impulse which he felt in his mind, on starting from sleep after intoxication ;" as God is in Heaven, it was a momentary thought." He did not, however, fall instantaneously on the perpetration of murder. He undressed himself ;-he took a sheet from his bed ;-he wrapt it about him by way of disguising his person ;-he armed himself with a poker ;-and, with a light in his hand, proceeded to the apartment of his master and mistress, which was at a considerable distance from the place where he awoke (as he said) out of sleep. That momentary thought seems to have been a determined purpose ;-be prepared himself for an assault, and the conflict with his master lasted a long while. No adequate motive has yet been assigned--one was mentioned--we are unwilling to repeat it ; but we cannot drive from our recollection the murder of Miss Smith in Ireland, by a domestic servant, in the night, after baving sung, in his hearing, the song of “ croppies lie down" in the course of the pree ceding eyeping.
INDEX TO VOL. I.
107 Church of Britain established before
the Church of Rome,
35 “ Choice of Ministers" reviewed, 81
Canning's (Mr.) Speech reviewed, 69
blossomed at Eton,
unfortunate in his
re's Exordium compared with
distressed by his Popish
a's Three assumed Principles
Two Considerations fptile . 138
- a Declaimer,
mistaken in deeming Po-
a Disciple of Gratiano's
Quotation of the Furculæ
referred to Wexford Bridge,
&c. recent Cruelties of Papists, 286
reprobation of “an Awful
ridicules Sir J.C. Hippisley 502
“ Castlereagh's (Lord) Speech," Re-
denies that Mr. Pitt gave a
Pledge to the Papists,
607 Councils, four first, (Parity of) 216
Charlemagne elected Emperor of the
and his Successors held
218 tholics", reviewed & recommended, 333
ple of the Reformation and Revolu-
tion," reviewed and recommended, 361
Ellenborough (Lord) against Conces.
sions to the Roman Catholics,
lates, conduct of, compared,
Freebolder, (Letter of a.) on the Infla-
ence of Romish Priests on the Te-
nantry of Protestants in Ireland, 151
Father Paul's Observations on the Ce.
Fidei Defensor, (Letter of,) containing
-s on the Ure
derstanding between the Pope and
's Ist Letter to Mr. Butler, 553
's 2d Letter to ditto 642
Friend to Harmony and Peace, (Let-
ter of a,) on Masonry,
Filiolus's Specimens of Protestant
French Clergy, Protestation of, in
False Assertions and Forgeries of
14 Gloyeester's (Bp. of) Charge reviewed, 20
-'s Answer to those who
16 exult in the Creed of the Conquer-
's " Protestant Letter to
Lord Somers," reviewed and re-
“ Granville Sharp on Matt. xvi. 18."
Mullingar Resolutions into plain 1073, attains a Supremacy in Spi-
152 the Protestant Bible," reviewed, 294
--'s plausible Proposition, : 528
“ Gregor's, (F. Esq.) Remarks on
reviewed and recommended, 421
214 Grattan's (Mr.) Bill, and Mr. Can-
ro's (Mr.) Bill repeals several
appointment of Roman Pontiff, 217 Grattan, (Mr.) declared to have for
. 316 feited the confidence of the Roman
of the Romish Hierarchy,...... 254
condemued at Franck-
of “ Catholic Emancipation, .. 155
a Dogma of Popery,.....
" Haggii's (Dr.) Letter to Oxforilshire
Freeholders," reviewed and recom-
two Speeches," reviewed,........ 226
shocked at the Bp. of Dur-
-'s (Review of Speeches) con-
· M. Lingard pleasant on,.. 411
-'s Speeches, Review of,
-how to be treated by the
Oath to, void on the autko.
vagainst Concessions,.. 583
Kenyon's (Lord) « Observations on
the Roman Catholic Question," re-
--'s Motion in the House of
Addenda to the Account of
practically mistaken in
ed and recommended by the Editor,
meni," &c. reviewed and recom.