Page images
PDF
EPUB

plan, for he had no right to pre-soppose its existence in America ; but, unfortunately, he put his system of toleration under å restriction that in this country would not be submitted to for a moment, and that outraged every principle of liberty. It was a fundamental regulation of this government, that no person above seventeen years of age should have any benefit or protection of the law, or le capable of any place of profit or honor, who was not a member of some church or profession, having his name recorded in some one, and but one, religious record at once. This indispensable law shook, to its very centre, the foundation of his system of toleration, and introduced into the government all the disorders and abuses from which it was intended it should be exempt. Accordingly we find the several churches became a registry of party; hence arose competition, jarring interests, contention, and strife. The members of the church of England became jealous of the Non-conformists, and wanted to exclude them from government, and oblige them even to shut up the houses where they performed divine worship : from this collision of opinions, called into action by the imperfection of the government itself, perhaps something sooner than the weakness and frailty of human nature would have produced or brought them forward, arose cabals, tumults, and disorders, the folly and violence of wbich bring us back to a conviction of this melancholy truth, that intolerance must, more or less, exist in every government, as the minds of men shall be more or less under the influence of prejudice, bigotry, and superstition; for, until they shall be altogether estranged from them, it will for ever obtrude itself into the title-page, and become part of the history of every human institution.

It was not till the year 1706 that England, by her interference, silenced and annulled these acts of violence and folly, and restored peace and order to the government of America.

If we inquire how far civil liberty was advanced in America by Mr, Locke, we shall find he was not much more successful : he gave to eight proprietors who founded the settlement, and to their heirs, not only all the rights of sovereignty, but all the powers of legislation. The abuses which arose from this part of his plan, and the consequences of them, are known to every one in the least conversant with the history of America.

As to the later government of Pennsylvania, which has so much excited the admiration of all those who delight in the language of fable, the people who flocked there, to speak in the language of a celebrated writer, were a people who had suffered persecution themselves, and had learned mercy! William Penn, a Quaker, was a great as well as a good man; he made toleration the basis of bis government in this part of America, but some of his laws and his internal regulations, though well adapted to promote the prosperity of an infant colony, would be thought very intolerable among a people more advanced in arts and civilization, and who had made some progress in the scierce of legislation. That every child, of what condition soever, above twelve years of age, should be obliged to learn a trade, was an indispensable law; whether good or bad I shall leave to the Reviewers to determine ; and shall only observe, that the laws respecting the security of property in Pennsylvania have peither the sanction of strict justice nor the seal of wisdom upon them.

In any reference, therefore, which the Reviewers can make to any government existing in America, in order to “ discover the true bearings of the Catholic question," whether to the civil or ecclesiastical form of it, they will be alıke unfortunate ; and, in spite of every thing they have said, of every thing that can be said on the subject, though volumes should be written upon it, it will be found that intolerance, or in other words civil restriction, either preceding the necessity of il, or emanating from it, is the mound and bulwark which every government on earth finds it necessary to erect more or less strong around itself, to secure its existence; and that in England it has been the rock and rampart of the constitution, against which the ever rolling ocean of innovation has leat for ages, and retired in froth,

Our autbor had better abstain in future from Latin quotations. We blush for his Latin; but the facts which he adduces, and his mode of reasoning, certainly deserve attention.

MULLINGAR RESOLUTIONS,

To the Editor of the Protestant Advocale. Sir;-My curiosity was strongly excited about a month ago, by an accidental sight of the Prospectus of the PROTESTANT ADVOCATE ; and I waited the publication of your first Number, in order to judge whether your principles agreed with your professions. I believe you to be sincere ; and I offer you my best services, if you choose to accept them.

I am descended from an ancestor of some note in his day; whose name I bear. He was as little liable to be imposed upon by trickery, as any man that ever lived. No false colourings

could deceive him. The net of sophistry could neither entangle, nor hold him. He broke through its meshes, as if they were made of gossamer. He delighted in stripping artifice of its imposing mask; and was fond of uncasing. vulgarity, when it presumed to wear the drapery of refinement. He could detect confusion, pranked out in all the formality of precision. Com. pliments ill-bestowed, particularly disgusted. him; and he presently pointed the shafts of satire at praise-undeserved. Private interest never passed with him for public spirit; nor party zeal for patriot ardour. He had a marvellous faculty at foreseeing consequences; which he could divine to the third and fourth generation of cause and effect. He could mark the first declination from the track of right reason, in morals, in argumentation, br in civil polity; and could predict, with wonderful accuracy, whither the obliquity must necessarily lead, and what the catastrophe must inevitably be. One of his favourite adages was this,-printipis obsta; and, doubtless, had he lived when the first concessions were made to the Romanists, be would have told his country what mischief must necessarily arise to the Protestant-interest from such measures ;-how the expiring hopes of the Papists would be revived; how grateful thanks for favours received, would soon be followed by Petitions for further boons; how Petitions would rise into Remonstrances; and how Remonstrances would be sublimated into Claims, and Claims themselves urged by Menaces. -He might hare warded off much trouble and anxiety, and might have saved the spilling of an ocean of blood in the sister-kingdom. The horrors of the Irish Rebellion, in 1798, might have been prevented; and the infatuation of 1812, in all probability bad gever taken place.

However, I trust that it is not yet too late to retrieve our · errors ;-not yet too late to prevent our reaching that consummation of folly, that highest degree in the climax of political absurdity, viz, the removal of the last remaining barriers erected by onr forefathers to resist the inroads of a dangerous superstition. -Thc Papists must not be invested with power.

You profess to advocate the cause of Protestantism; and I beg leare to associate myself with the band of constitutionalists who co-operate with you; and I hope you will not disdain the assise tance of a plain-spoken man, who is desirous of working at the fortifications of Protestantism, though it be but in the humble capacity of a pioneer. Whilst he calls a spade, a spade; he knows how to dig up nonsense, to shovel it away, and level it with the ground. I send you a sample of my mode of dealing with our adversaries; some of whom have been much busied in framing Resolutions at Mullingar, co. Westmeath, in Ireland. I shall take the liberty of translating this morceau of choice Irish, into plain English.

WESTMEATH CATHOLIC MEETING.*

GERALD Dease, Esq. in the Chair. At a Meeting of the Roman Catholic Freeholders of the County of Westmeath, held in the Court-house, at Mullingar, on Thursday, August the 27th, the following Resolutions, proposed by Christopher Nangle, Esq. and seeonded by J. M'Loughlin, Esq. were unanimously agreed to :

Resolved, That, sensible how considerably the Catholic Cause has gained during the last year, and how much its success is to be attributed to the exertions of our Protestant Countrymen, we take this opportunity of testifying our gratitude for the interest they have taken in our welfare.

Translation. Resolved, That, sensible, from the recent vote of the House of Commons, on Mr. Canning's motion, of the progress which Popery is making; sensible of the apathy of some people, particularly those nominal Protestants to whom all religions are alike, and those who have no religion at all; and depending on the ignorance of others, as to the ultimate views of the Roman Catholics, and the undescriminating liberality of sentiment which sways the rest of the heretics;-we take this opportunity of throwing a little more Popish dust in their eyes; under cover of which we hope, without occasioning fresh alarms, to make further approaches; before we commence a general assault on the lines behind which Protestantism is entrenched.

Resolved, That, conscious of the rectitude of our intentions, of our inviolable attachment to our Sovereign, and anxious to participate in the blessings of that Constitution, whose maxims we admire, and for whose ansallied purity we are willing to sacrifice our lives; we again petition

• See the Morning Herald of Tuesday, Sept. S. Vol. I. [Prot. Ado. Nov. 1812.]

N

Parliament for a Repeal of the Penal Laws still in force against us, and, for that purpose, adopt the Petition agreed to by the General Board of the Catholics of Ireland.

Translation. Resolved, that, the zeal which infames out bosoms in behalf of a system of religion which cannot have a particle of error, or a weak place in it, (being founded on the traditions of men, the authority of general councils, and the infallibility of the Pope,) do pass for knowledge ; that the fond persuasions of our hearts, be esteemed the voice of conscience itself; and that whatever we have done, or hereafter may do, must, à priori, be right ;-conscious therefore of the rectitude of our intentions, and of our inviolable attachment to our Sovereign; notwithstanding his inviolable regard for the oath which he took in Westminster Abbey, on the 22d day of September 1761;—when the heretical and anathematized Archbishop of Canterbury, Secker, anointed him with oil, and set the British crown upon his head ;-anxious to participate in the blessings of the Constitution, viz. certain.places of trust and honour, with handsome salaries annexed to them ; the maxims of which Constitution we admire ;—particularly the inviolability of the Protestant religion, and the Protestant succession to the throne, (for both which constitutional maxims, we are willing to sacrifice our lives :)-resolved, therefore, that we do again petition Parliament for a Repeal of the Penal Laws, already repealed; meaning, after all, not the Penal Laws, although we name them; but those restrictions which prevent our enjoying a participation in the blessings of the Constitution, viz. those situations of power and profit now withheld from us; because we acknowledge not the supremacy of the King, but that of the Bishop of Rome, whom we maintain to be, de juré, Head of the Anglican Church, and of all the Churches in the world, in all the kingdoms of the earth. --Resolved, for these manifold and exquisite reasons, that we do adopt the petition agreed to by the general board of the Papists of Ireland, exercising boldly the fupctions of an imperium in imperio. * Resolved, That, our most grateful thanks are due, for the splendid exertions of their Royal Higbnesses the Dukes of Kent and Sussex, in our favour ; and we trust, that, so far from regretting the steps they

« PreviousContinue »