Lecture 2. Tradition the Sustaining Power of the Protestant View

English Tradition Blocks Accurate Perception of Catholic Church
Definition, Proper and Improper Use of Tradition
    Example - Tradition of Pharisees
    Application to England
Roots and Supports of English Protestant Tradition
    English Character
    Loyalty to Sovereign
    Law
    Fashion and Opinion
    Literature
    Anglican Clergy
Some Elements of Traditional English View of Catholicism
Anecdote re Charles the Second
Notes

—NR

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{42} CONSIDERING, what is as undeniable a fact as that there is a country called France, or an ocean called the Atlantic, the actual extent, the renown, and the manifold influence of the Catholic Religion—considering that it surpasses in territory and in population any other Christian communion, nay, surpasses all others put together,—considering that it is the religion of two hundred millions of souls, that it is found in every quarter of the globe, that it penetrates into all classes of the social body, that it is received by entire nations, that it is so multiform in its institutions, and so exuberant in its developments, and so fresh in its resources, as any tolerable knowledge of it will be sure to bring home to our minds,—that it has been the creed of intellects the most profound and the most refined, and the source of works the most beneficial, the most arduous, and the most beautiful,—and, moreover, considering that, thus ubiquitous, thus commanding, thus philosophical, thus energetic, thus efficient, it has remained one and the same for centuries,—considering that all this must be owned by its most virulent enemies, explain it how they will; {43} surely it is a phenomenon the most astounding, that a nation like our own should so manage to hide this fact from their minds, to intercept their own vision of it, as habitually to scorn, and ridicule, and abhor the professors of that Religion, as being, from the nature of the case, ignorant, unreasoning, superstitious, base, and grovelling. It is familiar to an Englishman to wonder at and to pity the recluse and the devotee who surround themselves with a high enclosure, and shut out what is on the other side of it; but was there ever such an instance of self-sufficient, dense, and ridiculous bigotry, as that which rises up and walls in the minds of our fellow-countrymen from all knowledge of one of the most remarkable phenomena which the history of the world has seen? This broad fact of Catholicism—as real as the continent of America, or the Milky Way—which Englishmen cannot deny, they will not entertain; they shut their eyes, they thrust their heads into the sand, and try to get rid of a great vision, a great reality, under the name of Popery. They drop a thousand years from the world's chronicle, and having steeped them thoroughly in sin and idolatry would fain drown them in oblivion. Whether for philosophic remark or for historical research, they will not recognise what infidels recognise as well as Catholics—the vastness, the grandeur, the splendour, the loveliness of the manifestations of this time-honoured ecclesiastical confederation. Catholicism is for fifteen hundred years as much a fact, and as great a one (to put it on the lowest ground) as is the imperial sway of Great Britain for a hundred; how can it then be actually imbecile or extravagant to believe in it and to join {44} it, even granting it were an error? But this island, as far as religion is concerned, really must be called, one large convent, or rather workhouse; the old pictures hang on the walls; the world-wide Church is chalked up on every side as a wivern or a griffin; no pure gleam of light finds its way in from without; the thick atmosphere refracts and distorts such straggling rays as gain admittance. Why, it is not even a camera obscura; cut off from Christendom though it be, at least it might have a true picture of that Christendom cast in miniature upon its floor; but in this inquisitive age, when the Alps are crested, and seas fathomed, and mines ransacked, and sands sifted, and rocks cracked into specimens, and beasts caught and catalogued, as little is known by Englishmen of the religious sentiments, the religious usages, the religious motives, the religious ideas of two hundred millions of Christians poured to and fro, among them and around them, as if, I will not say, they were Tartars or Patagonians, but as if they inhabited the moon. Verily, were the Catholic Church in the moon, England would gaze on her with more patience, and delineate her with more accuracy, than England does now.

This phenomenon is what I in part brought before you in my last Lecture: I said we were thought dupes and rogues, because we were not known: because our countrymen would not be at the pains, or could not stand the shock of realizing that there are two sides to every question, and that in this particular question, perhaps, they had taken the false side. And this evening I am proceeding to the inquiry how in a century of light, where we have re-written our {45} grammars and revolutionized our chronology, all this can possibly come to pass; how it is that the old family picture of the Man and the Lion keeps its place, though all the rest of John Bull's furniture has been condemned and has been replaced. Alas! that he should be inspecting the silks and the china, and the jewellery of East and West, but refuse to bestow a like impartial examination on the various forms of Christianity!

Now, if I must give the main and proximate cause of this remarkable state of mind, I must simply say that Englishmen go by that very mode of information in its worst shape, which they are so fond of imputing against Catholics; they go by tradition, immemorial, unauthenticated tradition. I have no wish to make a rhetorical point, or to dress up a polemical argument. I wish you to investigate the matter philosophically, and to come to results which, not you only, Brothers of the Oratory, who are Catholics, but all sensible men, will perceive to be just and true. I say, then, Englishmen entertain their present monstrous notions of us, mainly because those notions are received on information not authenticated, but immemorial. This it is that makes them entertain those notions; they talk much of free inquiry; but towards us they do not dream of practising it; they have been taught what they hold in the nursery, in the school-room, in the lecture-class, from the pulpit, from the newspaper, in society. Each man teaches the other: "How do you know it?" "Because he told me." "And how does he know it?" "Because I told him;" or, at {46} very best advantage, "We both know it, because it was so said when we were young; because no one ever said the contrary; because I recollect what a noise, when I was young, the Catholic Relief Bill made; because my father and the old clergyman said so, and Lord Eldon, and George the Third; and there was Mr. Pitt obliged to give up office, and Lord George Gordon, long before that, made a riot, and the Catholic Chapels were burnt down all over the country." Well, these are your grounds for knowing it; and how did these energetic Protestants whom you have mentioned know it themselves? Why, they were told by others before them, and those others by others again a great time back; and there the telling and teaching is lost in fog; and this is mainly what has to be said for the anti-Catholic notions in question. Now this is to believe on tradition.

Take notice, my Brothers, I am not reprobating the proper use of tradition; it has its legitimate place and its true service. By tradition is meant, what has ever been held, as far as we know, though we do not know how it came to be held, and for that very reason think it true, because else it would not be held. Now, tradition is of great and legitimate use as an initial means of gaining notions about historical and other facts; it is the way in which things first come to us; it is natural and necessary to trust it; it is an informant we make use of daily. Life is not long enough for proving everything; we are obliged to take a great many things upon the credit of others. Moreover, tradition is really a ground in reason, an argument for believing, to a certain point; but then observe, we do not commonly think it right and safe, on the score of {47} mere vague testimony, to keep our eyes and ears so very closely shut against every other evidence, every other means of proof, and to be so furiously certain and so energetically positive that we know all about the matter in question. No; we open our senses wide to what may be said on the other side. We make use of tradition, but we are not content with it; it is enough to begin with, not enough to finish upon.

Tradition, then, being information, not authenticated, but immemorial, is a prima-facie evidence of the facts which it witnesses. It is sufficient to make us take a thing for granted, in default of real proof; it is sufficient for our having an opinion about it; it is sufficient often to make us feel it to be safest to act in a certain way under circumstances; it is not sufficient in reason to make us sure, much less to make us angry with those who take a different view of the matter. It is not sufficient to warrant us to dispense with proof the other way, if it be offered to us. Supposing, for instance, there was a general belief or impression in England, running up beyond the memory of man, though unsupported by any distinct evidence, that the composer Tallis was the author of the Protestant Hundredth Psalm tune, or that Charles the Second was poisoned, or that Bishop Butler of Durham died Catholic, I consider we certainly should have acquiesced in the tradition, taken it for granted, and made it our own, as long as it was our only means of forming an opinion on the respective points in question. We should have thought the fact to be such, while there was nothing to set against it. Nor would any other course have been reasonable. But, supposing {48} in contravention of these traditions, a manuscript of the Psalm tune in question was found in some German library, in the handwriting of Luther; or supposing a statement existed purporting to be drawn up by Charles's medical attendants, accounting for his death and attributing it, with all appearance of truth, to some natural complaint; or, again, supposing his death was imputed to a very unlikely person, Bishop Ken, or Mr. Evelyn; or supposing Butler's chaplain had left an account of Butler's last hours, from which it was demonstrable that up to the last day of his life he was a Protestant; should we passionately reject, or superciliously make light of this separate evidence, because we were content with our tradition? or, if we were tempted to do so, could we possibly defend our conduct in reason, or recommend it to another? Surely, it would be as extravagant to refuse the presumptions or the evidence offered us in the second place, as to refuse the tradition in the first. Thus, a tradition being an anonymous informant, is of force only under the proviso that it cannot be plausibly disputed.

I am speaking of a single or solitary tradition; for if there be two or three distinct traditions, all saying the same thing, then it is a very different matter; then, as in the case of two or three independent witnesses in a judicial proceeding, there is at once a cumulation of evidence, and its joint effect is very great. Thus, supposing, besides the current belief in England, there was a local tradition, in some out the way district in Ireland, to the effect that a certain family had gained its estates in reward for the share which its ancestor had in the assassination of Charles {49} the Second, we should certainly consider it at least a singular coincidence; for it would be a second tradition, and if proved to be distinct and independent, would quite alter the influence of the first upon our minds, just as two witnesses at a trial produce an effect on judge and jury simply different from what either of them would produce by himself. And in this way a multiplication of traditions may make a wonderfully strong proof, strong enough even for a person to die for, rather than consent to deny the fact attested; and, therefore, strong enough in reason for him to be very positive upon, very much excited, very angry, and very determined. But when such strong feeling and pertinacity of purpose are created by a mere single and solitary tradition, I cannot call that state of mind conviction, but prejudice.

Yet this, I must maintain, is the sort of ground on which Protestants are so certain that the Catholic Church is a simple monster of iniquity. If you asked the first person you met why he believed that our religion was so baneful and odious, he would not say, "I have had good proofs of it;" or, "I know Catholics too well to doubt it;" or, "I am well read in history, and I can vouch for it;" or, "I have lived such a long time in Catholic countries, I ought to know;"—(of course, I do not mean that no one would make such a reply, but I mean that it would not be the reply of the mass of men; far from it). No; single out a man from the multitude, and he would say something of this sort: "I am sure it is;" he will look significant, and say, "You will find it a hard job to make me think otherwise;" or he will look wise {50} and say, "I can make a pretty good guess how things go on among you;" or he will be angry, and cry out, "Those fellows, the priests, I would not believe them, though they swore themselves black in the face;" or he will speak loudly, and overbear and drown all remonstrance: "It is too notorious for proof; every one knows it; every book says it; it has been so ruled long ago. It is rather too much in the nineteenth century to be told to begin history again, and to have to reverse our elementary facts." That is, in other words, the multitude of men hate Catholicism mainly on tradition, there being few, indeed, who have made fact and argument the primary or the supplemental grounds of their aversion to it. And observe, they hate it on a single, isolated tradition, not a complex, conclusive tradition—not the united tradition of many places. It is true, indeed, that Holland, and Geneva, and Prussia, each has its own tradition against the Catholic Church; but our countrymen do in no sense believe, from any judgment they form on those united British and foreign traditions, but from the tradition of their own nation alone; which, though certainly it comprises millions of souls, nevertheless, is so intimately one by the continual intercourse and mutual communication of part with part, that it cannot with any fairness be considered to contain a number of separate testimonies, but only one. Yet this meagre evidence, I say, suffices to produce in the men of this generation an enthusiastic, undoubting and energetic persuasion that we torture heretics, immure nuns, sell licences to sin, and are plotting against kings and governments; all, I say, because this was said of Catholics when they were boys. It {51} is the old heirloom, the family picture, which is at once their informant and their proof.

Nor is this phenomenon, remarkable as it is, without its parallel in former passages of the world's history. We have a notable instance in Holy Writ; to which I hope I may allude without risking a theological discussion. We read there of certain parties animated with extreme religious bitterness, simply on the incentive, and for the defence, of traditions which were absolutely worthless. The popular party in Judea, at the Christian era, were the dupes of a teaching, professing, indeed, the authority of their forefathers, or what they called "the tradition of the ancients;" but, in reality, nothing more or less than the "commandment and tradition of men;" of fallible men, nay, not only deceivable, but actually deceived men. This was the fatal flaw in their argument; the tradition might have been kept ever so accurately and religiously, it might with full certainty have been derived from the foregoing generation, and have existed beyond the furthest memory; but this proved nothing while it was traceable up to man, not to a divine informant, as its ultimate resolution or first origin. The stream cannot rise higher than its source; if the wellspring of the tradition be human, not divine, what profits its fidelity? Such as is the primary authority, so will be the continuous, the latest derivation. And this, accordingly, was the judgment pronounced in the instance to which I have alluded, on both the doctrine and its upholders. "In vain do they worship Me, teaching doctrines and commandments of men." As is the origin, so is the tradition; when the origin is true, the tradition will be true; {52} when the origin is false, the tradition will be false. There can most surely be true traditions, that is, traditions from true sources; but such traditions, though they really be true, do not profess to prove themselves; they come accompanied by other arguments; the true traditions of Divine Revelation are proved to be true by miracle, by prophecy, by the test of cumulative and collateral evidences, which directly warrant and verify them. Such were not the traditions of the Pharisee—they professed to speak for themselves, they bore witness to themselves, they were their own evidence; and, as might have been expected, they were not trustworthy—they were mere frauds; they came, indeed, down the stream of time, but that was no recommendation, it only put the fraud up higher; it might make it venerable, it could not make it true.

Yet it is remarkable, I say, how positive and fanatical the Jewish people was in its maintenance of these lies. It was irritated, nay maddened, at hearing them denounced; rose up fiercely against their denouncers; and thought they did God service in putting them to death. It is plain, then, that a popular feeling is not necessarily logical because it is strong.

Now, of course, a great number of persons will not easily allow the fact, that the English animosity against Catholicism is founded on nothing more argumentative than tradition; but, whether I shall succeed in proving this point or not, I think I have at least shown already that tradition is, in itself, quite a sufficient explanation of the feeling. I am not assigning a trifling and inadequate cause to so great {53} an effect. If the Jews could be induced to put to death the Founder of our Religion and His disciples on tradition, there is nothing ridiculous in saying that the British scorn and hatred of Catholicism may be created by tradition also. The great question is, the matter of fact, is tradition the cause? I say it is, and in saying so, observe, I am speaking of the multitude, not dwelling on exceptions, however numerous in themselves; for doubtless there is a certain number of men, men of thought and reading, who oppose Catholicism, not merely on tradition, but on better arguments; but, I repeat, I am speaking of the great mass of Protestants. Again, bear in mind, I am speaking of what really is the fact, not of what the mass of Protestants will confess. Of course, no man will admit, if he can help it, even to himself, that he is taking his views of the Catholic Church from Bishop Newton, or buckling on his sword against her preachers, merely because Lord George Gordon did the like; on the contrary, he will perhaps sharply retort, "I never heard of Bishop Newton or of Lord George Gordon—I don't know their names;" but the simple question which we have to determine is the real matter of fact, and not whether the persons who are the subjects of our investigation will themselves admit it. To this point then, viz., the matter of fact—Do Protestants go by tradition? on which I have said something already, I shall now proceed to direct your attention.

How, then, stands the matter of fact? Do the people of this country receive their notion of the Catholic Church in the way of argument and examination, {54} as they would decide in favour of rail roads over other modes of conveyance, or on plans of parish relief or police regulations, and the like? or does it come to them mainly as a tradition which they have inherited, and which they will not question, though they have in their hands abundant reasons for questioning it? I answer, without a doubt, it comes to them as a tradition; the fact is patent and palpable: the tradition is before our eyes, unmistakable; it is huge, vast, various, engrossing; it has a monopoly of the English mind, it brooks no rival, and it takes summary measures with rebellion.

2.

When King Henry began a new religion, when Elizabeth brought it into shape, when her successors completed and confirmed it, they were all of them too wise, and too much in earnest, not to clench their work. They provided for its continuance after them. They, or at least the influences which ruled them, knew well enough that Protestantism, left to itself, could not stand. It had not that internal consistency in its make, which would support it against outward foes, or secure it against internal disorders. And the event has justified their foresight; whether you look at Lutheranism or Calvinism, you find neither of those forms of religion has been able to resist the action of thought and reason upon it during a course of years; both have changed and come to nought. Luther began his religion in Germany, Calvin in Geneva; Calvinism is now all but extinct in Geneva, and Lutheranism in Germany. It could not be otherwise; such an issue was predicted by Catholics {55} as well as instinctively felt by the Reformers, at the time that Protestantism started. Give it rope enough, and any one could prophesy its end, so its patrons determined that rope it should not have, but that private judgment should come to a close with their own use of it. There was enough of private judgment in the world, they thought, when they had done with it themselves. So they forcibly shut-to the door which they had opened, and imposed on the populations they had reformed an artificial tradition of their own, instead of the liberty of inquiry and disputation. They worked their own particular persuasion into the political framework of things, and made it a constitutional or national principle; in other words, they established it.

Now, you may say that Catholicism has often been established also. True, but Catholicism does not depend on its establishment for its existence, nor does its tradition live upon its establishment; it can do without establishment, and often dispenses with it to an advantage. A Catholic nation, as a matter of course, establishes Catholicism because it is a Catholic nation; but in such a case Catholicism and its tradition come first, and establishment comes second; the establishment is the spontaneous act of the people; it is a national movement, the Catholic people does it, and not the Catholic Church. It is but the accident of a particular state of things, the result of the fervour of the people; it is the will of the masses; but, I repeat, it is not necessary for Catholicism. Not necessary, I maintain, and Ireland is my proof of it; there Catholicism has been, not only not established; it has been persecuted for three hundred {56} years, and at this moment it is more vigorous than ever; whereas, I defy you to bring any instance of a nation remaining Lutheran or Calvinist for even a hundred years, under similarly unpromising circumstances. Where is the country in the whole world, where Protestantism has thriven under persecutions, as Catholicism has thriven in Ireland? You might, indeed, allege in explanation of the fact, that persecution binds a body together; but I do not think that even persecution would, for any course of years, bind Protestants together in one body; for the very principle of private judgment is a principle of disunion, and that principle goes on acting in weal and in woe, in triumph and in disappointment, and its history gives instances of this. But I am speaking, not of what is supposable under certain circumstances, but of what has been the fact; and I say, looking at the subject historically, Protestantism cannot last without an establishment, though Catholicism can; and next, I say, that that establishment of Protestantism is not the work of the people, is not a development of their faith, is not carried by acclamation, but is an act of calculating heads, of State policy, of kingcraft; the work of certain princes, statesmen, bishops, in order, if possible to make that national which as yet is not national, and which, without that patronage, never would be national; and, therefore, in the case of Protestantism, it is not a matter of the greater or less expediency, sometimes advisable, sometimes not, but is always necessary, always imperative, if Protestantism is to be kept alive. Establishmentism is the very life of Protestantism; or, in other words, Protestantism comes in upon the nation, Protestantism is maintained {57} not in the way of reason and truth, not by appeals to facts, but by tradition, and by a compulsory tradition; and this, in other words, is an establishment.

Now, this establishment of Protestantism was comparatively an easy undertaking in England, without the population knowing much what Protestantism meant, and I will tell you why: there are certain peculiarities of the English character, which were singularly favourable to the royal purpose. As I have just said, the legitimate instruments for deciding on the truth of a religion are these two, fact and reason, or in other words, the way of history and the way of science; and to both the one and the other of these, the English mind is naturally indisposed. Theologians proceed in the way of reasoning; they view Catholic truth as a whole, as one great system of which part grows out of part, and doctrine corresponds to doctrine. This system they carry out into its fulness, and define in its details, by patient processes of reason; and they learn to prove and defend it by means of frequent disputations and logical developments. Now, all such abstract investigations and controversial exercises are distasteful to an Englishman; they suit the Germans, and still more the French, the Italians, and the Spaniards; but as to ourselves, we break away from them as dry, uncertain, theoretical, and unreal. The other means of attaining religious truth is the way of history; when, namely, from the review of past times and foreign countries, the student determines what was really taught by the Apostles in the beginning. Now, an Englishman, as is notorious, takes comparatively little interest in the manners, customs, opinions, or {58} doings of foreign countries. Surrounded by the sea, he is occupied with himself; his attention is concentrated on himself; and he looks abroad only with reference to himself. We are a home people; we like a house to ourselves, and we call it our castle; we look at what is immediately before us; we are eminently practical; we care little for the past; we resign ourselves to existing circumstances; we are neither eclectics nor antiquarians; we live in the present. Foreign politics excite us very little; the Minister of Foreign Affairs may order about our fleets, or sign protocols, at his good pleasure, provided he does nothing to cripple trade, or to raise the price of wheat or cotton. Much less do we care to know how they worship, or what they believe, in Germany or in Spain; rather, we are apt to despise their whole apparatus of religion, whatever it is, as odd and outlandish; and as to past times, English divines have attempted as little for ecclesiastical history as they have attempted for theological science.

Now you see how admirably this temper of Englishmen fits in with the exigencies of Protestantism; for two of the very characteristics of Protestantism are, its want of past history, and its want of fixed teaching. I do not say that no Protestants have investigated or argued; that no Protestants have made appeals to primitive Christianity; such an assertion would be absurd; it was a rule of the game, as it may be called, that they should do so; they were obliged to say what it was that they held, and to prove it they were obliged to recur to ecclesiastical history; certainly; but they have done so because they could not help it; they did so for the moment; {59} they did so for a purpose; they did so as an argumentum ad hominem; but they did so as little as they could, and they soon left off doing so. Now especially the Latitudinarian party professes to ignore doctrine, and the Evangelical to ignore history. In truth, philosophy and history do not come natural to Protestantism; it cannot bear either; it does not reason out any point; it does not survey steadily any course of facts. It dips into reason, it dips into history; but it breathes more freely when it emerges again. Observe, then;—the very exercises of the intellect, by which religious truth is attained, are just those which the Englishman is too impatient, and Protestantism too shallow, to abide; the natural disposition of the one most happily jumps with the needs of the other. And this was the first singular advantage of Protestantism in England: Catholics reasoned profoundly upon doctrine, Catholics investigated rigidly the religious state of other times and places: in vain,—they had not found the way to gain the Englishman; whereas their antagonists had found a weapon of their own, far more to the purpose of the contest than argument or fact.

That weapon is, what is so characteristic of our people, loyalty to the Sovereign. If there is one passion more than another which advantageously distinguishes the Englishman, it is that of personal attachment. He lives in the present, in contrast to the absent and the past. He ignores foreigners at a distance! but when they come to him, if they come recommended by their antecedents, and make an appeal to his eyes and his ears, he almost worships them. We all recollect with what enthusiasm {60} the populace received Marshal Soult on his visit to London a few years ago; it was a warm and hearty feeling, elicited by the sight of a brave enemy and a skilful commander, and it took his own countrymen altogether by surprise. The reception given to Louis Philippe, who was far from popular among us, was of a similarly hospitable character; nay, Napoleon himself, who had been the object of our bitterest hatred, on his appearance as a prisoner off the British coast, was visited by numbers with an interest, respect, and almost sympathy, which I consider (mutatis mutandis) would not all have been shown towards Wellington or Blucher, had they been prisoners in France. Again, I suppose the political principles of the Emperor Nicholas are as cordially hated in England as his religious principles are in disrepute in Rome; yet even he, on his successive visits to the two places, encountered a far less flattering reception from the Roman populace than from the people of England. Who so unpopular, thirty years ago, as that remarkable man, Lord Londonderry? yet, when he appeared at George the Fourth's coronation, the sight of his noble figure and bearing drew shouts of applause from the multitude, who had thought they hated him. George himself, worthless as he seems to have been, for how many years had he been an object of popular admiration! till his wife, a more urgent candidate for the eye of pity and sympathy, supplanted him. Charles the Second, the most profligate of monarchs, lived in the hearts of his people till the day of his death. It is the way with Englishmen. A saint in rags would be despised; in broadcloth, or in silk, he would be thought something more than ordinary. {61} St. Francis of Assisi, bareheaded and barefooted, would be hooted; St. Francis Xavier, dressed up like a mandarin, with an umbrella over his head, would inspire wonder and delight. A Turk, a Parsee, a Chinese, a Bonze—nay, I will say, a chimpanzee, a hippopotamus—has only to show himself in order to be the cynosure of innumerable eyes, and the idol of his hour. Nay, even more,—I will say a bold thing,—but I am not at all sure, that, except at seasons of excitement like the present, the Pope himself, however he may be abused behind his back, would not be received with cheers, and run after by admiring crowds, if he visited this country, independent of the shadow of Peter which attends him, winning favour and attracting hearts, when he showed himself in real flesh and blood, by the majesty of his presence and the prestige of his name. Such, I say, is the Englishman; with a heart for many objects, with an innate veneration for merit, talents, rank, wealth, science, not in the abstract, however, but as embodied in a visible form; and it is the consciousness of this characteristic which renders statesmen at this moment, of whatever cast of politics, so afraid of the appearance of cardinals and a hierarchy in the midst of the people they have to govern.

3.

These antagonist peculiarities of the English character which I have been describing, lay clear and distinct before the sagacious intellects which were the ruling spirits of the English Reformation. They had to deal with a people who would be sure to revolt from the unnatural speculations of Calvin, and {62} who would see nothing attractive in the dreamy and sensual doctrines of Luther. The emptiness of a ceremonial, and the affectation of a priesthood, were no bribe to its business-like habits and its ingrained love of the tangible. Definite dogma, intelligible articles of faith, formularies which would construe, a consistent ritual, an historical ancestry, would have been thrown away on those who were not sensitive of the connexion of faith and reason. Another way was to be pursued with our countrymen to make Protestantism live; and that was to embody it in the person of its Sovereign. English Protestantism is the religion of the throne: it is represented, realised, taught, transmitted in the succession of monarchs and an hereditary aristocracy. It is religion grafted upon loyalty; and its strength is not in argument, not in fact, not in the unanswerable controversialist, not in an apostolical succession, not in sanction of Scripture—but in a royal road to faith, in backing up a King whom men see, against a Pope whom they do not see. The devolution of its crown is the tradition of its creed; and to doubt its truth is to be disloyal towards its Sovereign. Kings are an Englishman's saints and doctors; he likes somebody or something at which he can cry "huzzah," and throw up his hat. Bluff King Hal, glorious Bess, the Royal Martyr, the Merry Monarch, the pious and immortal William, the good King George, royal personages very different from each other,—nevertheless, as being royal, none of them comes amiss, but they are all of them the objects of his devotion, and the resolution of his Christianity.

It was plain, then, what had to be done in order {63} to perpetuate Protestantism in a country such as this. Convoke the legislature, pass some sweeping ecclesiastical enactments, exalt the Crown above the Law and the Gospel, down with Cross and up with the lion and the dog, toss all priests out of the country as traitors; let Protestantism be the passport to office and authority, force the King to be a Protestant, make his Court Protestant, bind Houses of Parliament to be Protestant, clap a Protestant oath upon judges, barristers-at-law, officers in army and navy, members of the universities, national clergy; establish this stringent Tradition in every function and department of the State, surround it with the lustre of rank, wealth, station, name, and talent; and this people, so impatient of inquiry, so careless of abstract truth, so apathetic to historical fact, so contemptuous of foreign ideas, will ex animo swear to the truth of a religion which indulges their natural turn of mind, and involves no severe thought or tedious application. The Sovereign is the source and the centre, as of civil, so of ecclesiastical arrangements; truth shall be synonymous with order and good government;—what can be simpler than such a teaching? Puritans may struggle against it, and temporarily prevail; sceptics may ridicule it, object, expose and refute; readers of the Fathers may try to soften and embellish it with the colours of antiquity; but strong in the constitution of the law, and congenial to the heart of the people, the royal tradition will be a match for all its rivals, and in the long run will extinguish the very hope of competition.

So counselled the Achitophels of the day; it was devised, it was done. Then was the inauguration of {64} the great picture of the Lion and the Man. The Virgin Queen rose in her strength; she held her court, she showed herself to her people; she gathered round her peer and squire, alderman and burgess, army and navy, lawyer and divine, student and artisan. She made an appeal to the chivalrous and the loyal, and forthwith all that was noble, powerful, dignified, splendid, and intellectual, touched the hilt of their swords, and spread their garments in the way for her to tread upon. And first of all she addressed herself to the Law; and that not only because it was the proper foundation of a national structure, but also inasmuch as, from the nature of the case, it was her surest and most faithful ally. The Law is a science, and therefore takes for granted afterwards whatever it has once determined; hence it followed, that once Protestant, it would be always Protestant; it could be depended on; let Protestantism be recognised as a principle of the Constitution, and every decision, to the end of time, would but illustrate Protestant doctrines and consolidate Protestant interests. In the eye of the Law precedent is the measure of truth, and order the proof of reasonableness, and acceptableness the test of orthodoxy. It moves forward by a majestic tradition, faithful to its principles, regardless of theory and speculation, and therefore eminently fitted to be the vehicle of English Protestantism such as we have described it, and to co-operate with the monarchical principle in its establishment. Moreover, a number of delicate questions which had been contested in previous centuries, and had hither-to been involved in contradictory precedents, now received once for all a Protestant solution. There had {65} been prolonged disputes between the Pontificate and the Regale, the dispute about Investitures, of Rufus with St. Anselm, of Henry the Second with St. Thomas, of Henry of Winchester with St. Edmund; and the eighth Harry had settled it in his own way, when, on Cardinal Fisher's refusing to acknowledge his spiritual power, he had, without hesitation, proceeded to cut off his head; but the Law, with its Protestant bias, could now give dignity and form to what, up to this time, to say the least, were ex parte proceedings. It was decided, once for all, what was the rule and what the exception; the courts gave judgment that the saints were to be all in the wrong, the kings were to be all in the right; whatever the Crown had claimed was to be its due, whatever the Pope claimed was to be a usurpation. What could be more simple and conclusive? the most sacred power in the order of nature, "whose voice is the harmony of the world," to whom "all things in earth do homage," the hereditary wisdom and the collective intelligence of a mighty nation in Parliament assembled, the venerable Judges of the land were retained in the interests of a party, their ripe experience, their profound thought, their subtle penetration, their well regulated prudence, were committed for good and all to the politics of a crisis.

So much for the Law; but this was only one of those great functions of the nation which became the instrument of the Protestant Tradition. Elizabeth had an influence on her side, over and above, and even greater than the authority of the Law. She was the queen of fashion and of opinion. The principles of Protestantism rapidly became the standard generally, {66} to which genius, taste, philosophy, learning, and investigation were constrained and bribed to submit. They are her legacy to the nation, and have been taken for granted ever since as starting-points in all discussion and all undertakings. In every circle, and in every rank of the community, in the court, in public meetings, in private society, in literary assemblages, in the family party, it is always assumed that Catholicism is absurd. No one can take part in the business of the great world, no one can speak and debate, no one can present himself before his constituents, no one can write a book, without the necessity of professing that Protestant ideas are self-evident, and that the religion of Alfred, St. Edward, Stephen Langton, and Friar Bacon, is a bygone dream. No one can be a Catholic without apologising for it. And what is in vogue in the upper classes is ever, as we know, ambitiously aped in the inferior. The religious observances of the court become a reigning fashion throughout the social fabric, as certainly as its language or its mode of dress; and, as an aspirant for distinction advances from a lower grade of society to an upper, he necessarily abandons his vulgar sect, whatever it is, for the national Protestantism. All other ways of thought are as frightful as the fashions of last year; the present is the true and the divine; the past is dark because its sun has set, and ignorant because it is dumb, and living dogs are worth more than dead lions. As to Catholicism, the utmost liberality which can be extended towards it, is to call it pretty poetry, bearable in a tragedy, intolerable in fact; the utmost charity towards its professors is to confess that they may be better than their creed,—perhaps believe it, {67} and are only dupes,—perhaps doubt it, and are only cowards. Protestantism sets the tone in all things; and to have the patronage of the wealthy, the esteem of the cultivated, and the applause of the many, Catholics must get its phrases by heart.

It is the profession of a gentleman; Catholicism, of underbred persons, of the vulgar-minded, the uncouth, and the ill-connected. We all can understand how the man of fashion, the profligate, the spendthrift, have their own circles, to which none but men of their own stamp and their own opinions are admitted; how to hate religion and religious men, to scoff at principle, and to laugh at heaven and hell, and to do all this with decorum and good breeding, are the necessary title for admittance; and how, in consequence, men at length begin to believe what they so incessantly hear said, and what they so incessantly say by rote themselves,—begin to suspect that, after all, virtue, as it is called, is nothing else than hypocrisy grafted on licentiousness; and that purity and simplicity and earnestness and probity are but the dreams of the young and the theoretical:—it is by a similar policy, and by a similar process, that the fathers and patrons of the English Reformation have given a substance, a momentum, and a permanence to their tradition, and have fastened on us Catholics, first the imputation, then the repute of ignorance, bigotry, and superstition.

And now I will mention a distinct vehicle of the Protestant tradition in England, which was an instance of good fortune, greater than its originators could possibly have anticipated or contrived. Protestantism became, not only the tradition of law and of good society, but the tradition of literature also. There is {68} no English literature before the age of Elizabeth; but with the latter years of her reign begins that succession of great authors which continues to flow on down to this day. So it was, that about the commencement of the sixteenth century learning revived; on the taking of Constantinople by the Turks, the men of letters of the imperial city, and, what was of more consequence, its libraries, became the property of the West. Schools were opened for the cultivation of studies which had made Greece as renowned among the nations in the gifts of intellect as Judea has been in the gifts of grace. The various perfections of the Greek language, the treasures of Greek thought, the life and taste of Greek art, after the sleep of ages, burst upon the European mind. It was like the warmth, the cheerfulness, and the hues of spring succeeding to the pure and sublime, but fantastic forms of winter frost-work. The barbarism, the sternness, the untowardness of the high and noble medieval school, eyed with astonishment the radiance, and melted beneath the glow of a genius unrivalled in the intellectual firmament. A world of ideas, transcendent in beauty and endless in fertility, flooded the imagination of the scholar and the poet. The fine arts underwent a classical development, and the vernacular tongues caught the refinement and the elegance of the age of Pericles and Alexander. The revival began in Catholic Italy; it advanced into Catholic France; at length it showed itself in Protestant England. A voice came forth from the grave of the old world, as articulate and keen as that of a living teacher; and it thrilled into the heart of the people to whom it came, and it taught them to respond to it {69} in their own tongue,—and that teaching was coincident in this country with the first preaching of Protestantism. It was surely a most lucky accident for the young religion, that, while the English language was coming to the birth with its special attributes of nerve, simplicity, and vigour, at its very first breathings Protestantism was at hand to form it upon its own theological patois, and to educate it as the mouth-piece of its own tradition. So, however, it was to be; and soon,

As in this bad world below
Noblest things find vilest using,

the new religion employed the new language for its purposes, in a great undertaking, the translation of its own Bible; a work which, by the purity of its diction, and the strength and harmony of its style, has deservedly become the very model of good English, and the standard of the language to all future times. The same age, which saw this great literary achievement, gave birth to some of the greatest masters of thought and composition in distinct departments of authorship. Shakespeare, Spenser, Sidney, Raleigh, Bacon, and Hooker are its own; and they were, withal, more or less the panegyrists of Elizabeth and her Religion, and moreover, at least the majority of them, adherents of her creed, because already clients of her throne. The Mother of the Reformation is, in the verses of Shakespeare, "a fair vestal throned by the west;" in the poem of Spenser she is the Faery Queen, Gloriana, and the fair huntress, Belphebe, while the militant Christian is rescued from the seductions of Popery, Duessa, by Una, the True Church, or Protestant Religion. The works of these {70} celebrated men have been but the beginning of a long series of creations of the highest order of literary merit, of which Protestantism is the intellectual basis, and Protestant institutions the informing object. What was wanting to lead the national mind a willing captive to the pretensions of Protestantism, beyond the fascination of genius so manifold and so various? What need of controversy to refute the claims of Catholicism, what need of closeness of reasoning, or research into facts, when under a Queen's smile this vast and continuous Tradition had been unrolled before the eyes of men, luminous with the most dazzling colours, and musical with the most subduing strains? Certainly the lion's artists, even had they had the fairest play, could have set up no rival exhibition as original and as brilliant as this.

Nor was it court poets alone, as time went on, who swelled the torrent of the Protestant Tradition. Milton from the middle class, and Bunyan from among the populace, exerted an influence superior to Shakespeare himself, whose great mind did not condescend to the direct inculcation of a private or a sectarian creed. Their phrases, their sentiments, are the household words of the nation, they have become its interpreters of Scripture, and, I may say, its prophets,—such is the magical eloquence of their compositions; so much so, that I really shall not be far from the mark in saying of them, and this is true of Shakespeare also, that the ordinary run of men find it very difficult to determine, in respect to the proverbs, instances, maxims, and half sentences, which are in the nation's mouth, which, and how much, is from the Bible, and how much from the authors I {71} have mentioned. There is a saying, "Give me the framing of a nation's proverbs, and others may frame its laws;" and its proverbs are the produce of its literature. What, indeed, could possibly stand against the rush of vehemence of such a Tradition, which has grown fuller and fuller, and more and more impetuous, with every successive quarter of a century! Clarendon and the statesmen, Locke and the philosophers, Addison and the essayists, Hume, Robertson, and the historians, Cowper and the minor poets, the reviews and magazines of the present century, all proceed upon the hypothesis, which they think too self-evident for proof, that Protestantism is synonymous with good sense, and Catholicism with weakness of mind, fanaticism, or some unaccountable persuasion or fancy. Verse and prose, grave and gay, the scientific and the practical, history and fable, all is animated spontaneously, or imperiously subdued, by the spirit of Henry and Elizabeth. I say, ''imperiously subdued,'' because the Tradition of Protestantism is strong enough, not only to recommend, but to force its reception on each successive generation of authors. It compels when it cannot persuade. There is Alexander Pope, a Catholic, and who would discover it from the run of his poems? There is Samuel Johnson, born a Protestant, yearning for the Catholic Church, and bursting out into fitful defences of portions of her doctrine and discipline, yet professing to the last that very Protestantism which could neither command his affections, nor cure his infirmities. And, in our own time, there was Walter Scott, ashamed of his own Catholic tendencies and cowering before the jealous frown of the tyrant {72} Tradition. There was Wordsworth, obliged to do penance for Catholic sonnets by anti-Catholic complements to them. Scott, forsooth, must plead antiquarianism in extenuation of his prevarication; Wordsworth must plead Pantheism; and Burke again, must plead political necessity. Liberalism, scepticism, infidelity, these must be the venial errors, under plea of which a writer escapes reprobation for the enormity of feeling tenderly towards the Religion of his fathers, and of his neighbours around him. That Religion labours under a proscription of three centuries, and it is outlawed by immemorial custom.

No wonder, then, that Protestantism, being the religion of our literature, has become the Tradition of civil intercourse and political life; no wonder that its assumptions are among the elements of knowledge, unchangeable as the moods of logic, or the idioms of language, or the injunctions of good taste, or the proprieties of good manners. Elizabeth's reign is "golden," Mary is "bloody," the Church of England is "pure and apostolical," the Reformers are "judicious," the Prayer Book is "incomparable," or "beautiful," the Thirty-nine Articles are "moderate." "Pope" and "pagan" go together, and "the Pope, the Devil, and the Pretender." The anti-Catholic rancour is carried into your marts of commerce; London is burned down, and forthwith your greatest architect is instructed to set up a tall pillar to perpetuate the lie, that the Papists were the incendiaries. Take your controversy with you when you sit down to cards and let the taunting name of Pope Joan be the title of your game. Run a horse the coming year, and among your Sorcerers, Lamplighters, Malibrans, {73} and Priams, you will find Crucifix a striking, perhaps a lucky name for your beast; it is but the emblem of an extinct superstition. Dress up for some fancy ball, or morris-dance, and let the Grand Turk jump about on one side of you, and the Pope with cross, and beads, and triple crown, upon the other. Go to the stage of the Mountebank, and teach him, when he displays his sleight-of-hand, to give effect to his tricks by the most sacred words of the Catholic ritual. Into your very vocabulary let Protestantism enter; let priest, and mass, and mass-priest, and mass-house have an offensive savour on your palate; let monk be a word of reproach; let Jesuitism and Jesuitical, in their first intention, stand for what is dishonourable and vile. What chance has a Catholic against so multitudinous, so elementary a Tradition. Here is the Tradition of the Court, and of the Law, and of Society, and of Literature, strong in themselves, and acting on each other, and acting on a willing people, and the willing people acting on them, till the whole edifice stands self-supported, reminding one of some vast arch (as at times may be seen), from which the supports have crumbled away by age, but which endures still, and supports the huge mass of brickwork which lies above it, by the simple cohesion of parts which that same age has effected. My Brothers of the Oratory, you see what I meant when I spoke of the Tradition of the Pharisees, and said that it might be powerful in influence, though it was argumentatively weak; you see why it is that the fair form of Catholicism, as it exists in the east, west, and south, never crosses the retina of a Protestant's imagination:—it is the incubus {74} of this Tradition, which cumbers the land, and opposes an impregnable barrier between us and each individual Protestant whom we happen to address. Whoever he is, he thinks he knows all about our religion before speaking to us,—nay, perhaps much better than we know it ourselves. And now, if I said no more, I have said abundantly sufficient for the point I have had in view; and yet there is one portion of the subject still behind, which is almost more to my purpose than anything which I have hitherto mentioned.

4.

Protestantism is also the Tradition of the Anglican Clergy; and in speaking of them with reference to it, as I am going to speak, Brothers of the Oratory, do not suppose me to be forgetful either of their private worth or their social uses. As the other functions of the Constitution subserve the temporal welfare of the community, so does the established clergy minister to it with a special fidelity. But here I am all along speaking of Kings, Lords, Commons, Law, Literature, and so also of the Clergy, not simply as parts of the body politic, but as organs of Protestantism; and, as I have pointed out the office which other political ranks and departments fulfil in its propagation, so am I now to speak of the duties of the Religious Establishment. I say, then, that its especial duty as a religious body, is not to inculcate any particular theological system, but to watch over the anti-Catholic Tradition, to preserve it from rust and decay, to keep it bright and keen, and ready for action on any emergency or peril. It is the way with human nature {75} to start with vigour, and then to flag; years tell upon the toughest frames; time introduces changes; prejudices are worn away; asperities are softened; views opened; errors are corrected; opponents are better understood; the mind wearies of warfare. The Protestant Tradition, left to itself, would in the course of time languish and decline; laws would become obsolete, the etiquette and usages of society would alter, literature would be enlivened with new views, and the old Truth might return with the freshness of novelty. It is almost the mission of the established clergy, by word and writing, to guard against this tendency of the public mind. In this specially consists its teaching; I repeat, not in the shreds of Catholic doctrine which it professes, not in proofs of the divinity of any creed whatever, not in separating opinion from faith, not in instructing in the details of morals, but mainly in furbishing up the old-fashioned weapons of centuries back; in cataloguing and classing the texts which are to batter us, and the objections which are to explode among us and the insinuations and the slanders which are to mow us down. The Establishment is the keeper in ordinary of those national types and blocks from which Popery is ever to be printed off,—of the traditional view of every Catholic doctrine, the traditional account of every ecclesiastical event, the traditional lives of popes and bishops, abbots and monks, saints and confessors,—the traditional fictions, sophisms, calumnies, mockeries, sarcasms, and invectives with which Catholics are to be assailed.

This, I say, is the special charge laid upon the Establishment. Unitarians, Sabellians, Utilitarians, {76} Wesleyans, Calvinists, Swedenborgians, Irvingites, Freethinkers, all these it can tolerate in its very bosom; no form of opinion comes amiss; but Rome it cannot abide. It agrees to differ with its own children on a thousand points, one is sacred—that her Majesty the Queen is "The Mother and Mistress of all Churches;" on one dogma it is infallible, on one it may securely insist without fear of being unseasonable or excessive—that "the Bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this realm." Here is sunshine amid the darkness, sense amid confusion, an intelligible strain amid a Babel of sounds; whatever befalls, here is sure footing; it is, "No peace with Rome," "Down with the Pope," and "The Church in danger." Never has the Establishment failed in the use of these important and effective watchwords; many are its shortcomings, but it is without reproach in the execution of this its special charge. Heresy, and scepticism, and infidelity, and fanaticism, may challenge it in vain; but fling upon the gale the faintest whisper of Catholicism, and it recognises by instinct the presence of its connatural foe. Forthwith, as during the last year, the atmosphere is tremulous with agitation, and discharges its vibrations far and wide. A movement is in birth which has no natural crisis or resolution. Spontaneously the bells of the steeples begin to sound. Not by an act of volition, but by a sort of mechanical impulse, bishop and dean, archdeacon and canon, rector and curate, one after another, each on his high tower, off they set, swinging and booming, tolling and chiming, with nervous intenseness, and thickening emotion, and deepening volume, the old ding-dong which {77} has scared town and country this weary time; tolling and chiming away, jingling and clamouring and ringing the changes on their poor half-dozen notes, all about "the Popish aggression," "insolent and insidious," "insidious and insolent," "insolent and atrocious," "atrocious and insolent," "atrocious, insolent, and ungrateful," "ungrateful, insolent, and atrocious," "foul and offensive," "pestilent and horrid," "subtle and unholy," "audacious and revolting," "contemptible and shameless," "malignant," "frightful," "mad," "meretricious,"—bobs (I think the ringers call them), bobs, and bobs-royal, and triple-bob-majors, and grandsires,—to the extent of their compass and the full ring of their metal, in honour of Queen Bess, and to the confusion of the Holy Father and the Princes of the Church [Note 1].

So it is now; so it was twenty years ago; nay, so it has been in all years as they came, even the least controversial. If there was no call for a contest, at least there was the opportunity of a triumph. Who could want matter for a sermon, if ever his thoughts would not flow, whether for convenient digression, or effective peroration? Did a preacher wish for an illustration of heathen superstition or Jewish bigotry, or an instance of hypocrisy, ignorance, or spiritual pride? the Catholics were at hand. The deliverance from Egypt, the golden calf, the fall of Dagon, the sin of Solomon, the cruelties of Jezebel, the worship of Baal, the destruction of the brazen serpent, the finding of the Law, the captivity in Babylon, Nebuchodonosor's {78} image, Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians, and Zealots, mint, anise, and cummin, brazen pots and vessels, all in their respective places and ways, would give opportunity to a few grave words of allusion to the "monstrous errors," or the "childish absurdities" of the "Romish faith." Does any one wish an example of pride? there stands Wolsey; of barbarity? there is the Duke of Alva; of rebellion? there is Becket; of ambition? there is Hildebrand; of profligacy? there is Csar Borgia; of superstition? there is Louis the Eleventh; of fanaticism? there are the Crusaders. Saints and sinners, monks and laymen, the devout and the worldly, provided they be but Catholics, are heaped together in one indiscriminate mass, to be drawn forth for inspection and exposure according to the need.

The consequence is natural;—tell a person of ordinary intelligence, Churchman or Dissenter, that the vulgar allegations against us are but slanders, simple lies, or exaggerations, or misrepresentations or, as far as they are true, admitting of defence or justification, and not to the point; and he will laugh in your face at your simplicity, or lift up hands and eyes at your unparalleled effrontery. The utmost concession he will make is to allow the possibility of incidental and immaterial error in the accusations which are brought against us; but the substance of the traditional view he believes, as firmly as he does the Gospel, and, if you reject it and protest against it, he will say it is just what is to be expected of a Catholic, to lie and to circumvent. To tell him, at his time of life, that Catholics do not rate sin at a fixed price, that they may not get absolution for a sin {79} in prospect, that priests can live in purity, that nuns do not murder each other, that the laity do not make images their God, that Catholics would not burn Protestants if they could! Why, all this is as perfectly clear to him as the sun at noonday; he is ready to leave the matter to the first person he happens to meet; every one will tell us just the same; only let us try; he never knew there was any doubt at all about it; he is surprised, for he thought we granted it. When he was young, he has heard it said again and again; to his certain knowledge it has uniformly been said the last forty, fifty, sixty years, and no one ever denied it; it is so in all the books he ever looked into; what is the world coming to? What is true, if this is not? So, Catholics are to be whitewashed! What next?

And so he proceeds in detail;—the Papists not worship the Virgin Mary! why, they call her "Deipara," which means "equal to God."

The Pope not the man of sin! why, it is a fact that the Romanists distinctly maintain that "the Pope is God, and God is the Pope."

The Pope's teaching not a doctrine of devils! here is a plain proof of it; Cardinal Bellarmine expressly "maintains that, if the Pope commanded us to practise vice or shun virtue, we are obliged to do so, under pain of eternal damnation."

Not a Pope Joan! why, she was "John the Eighth, her real name was Gilberta, she took the name of John English, delivered public lectures at Rome, and was at length unanimously elected Pope."

What! Councils infallible! open your eyes, my brother, and judge for yourself: "fifteen hundred {80} public women followed the train of the Fathers of Constance."

Jesuits! here are at least twenty thousand in England; and, horrible to say, a number of them in each of the Protestant Universities, and doubtless a great many at Oscott.

Beauty and sanctity of the Popish festivals! do you not know that the Purification "is the very feast that was celebrated by the ancient Pagan Romans in honour of the goddess Proserpina?"

The Papists not corrupters of the Scriptures! look into their Bibles, and you will find they read the prophecy in Genesis, "She shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel."

Popery preach Christ! no; "Popery," as has been well said, "is the religion of priestcraft; from the beginning to the end it is nothing but priest, priest, priest." [Note 2]

I shall both weary and offend you, my Brothers, if I proceed. Even absurdity becomes tiresome after a time, and slanders cast on holy things and persons, when dwelt on, are too painful for a Catholic's ears; yet it was necessary for my subject to give instances of the popular views of us and of our creed, as they are formed under the operation of the Tradition of Elizabeth.

Here I am reminded of another sort of Tradition, started by a very different monarch, which in the event was handled very differently. It is often told how Charles the Second once sent a grave message to the Royal Society. That scientific body was founded in {81} his reign, and the witty king, as became his well-known character, could not help practising a jest upon it. He proposed a question for its deliberation; he asked it, as I daresay you have often heard, to tell him how it was that a live fish weighed less heavily in water than after it was dead. The Society, as it was in duty bound, applied itself to solve the phenomenon, and various were the theories to which it gave occasion. At last it occurred to its members to determine the fact, before deciding on any of them; when, on making the experiment, to their astonishment they found that the hypothesis was a mere invention of their royal master's, because the dead fish was not heavier in water than the living.

Well would it be if Englishmen in like manner, instead of taking their knowledge of us at (what may be called) royal hand, would judge about us for themselves, before they hunted for our likeness in the book of Daniel, St. Paul's Epistles, and the Apocalypse. They then would be the first to smile at their own extravagances; but, alas! as yet, there are no such signs of such ordinary prudence. Sensible in other matters, they lose all self-command when the name of Catholicism is sounded in their ears. They trust the voice of Henry or Elizabeth, with its thousand echoes, more than their own eyes, and their own experience; and they are zealous in echoing it themselves to the generation which is to follow them. Each in his turn, as his reason opens, is indoctrinated in the popular misconception. At this very time, in consequence of the clamour which has been raised against us, children in the streets, of four and five years old, are learning and using against us terms of abuse, {82} which will be their tradition all through their lives, till they are grey-headed, and have, in turn, to teach it to their grandchildren. They totter out, and lift their tiny hands, and raise their thin voices, in protest against those whom they are just able to understand are very wicked and very dangerous; and they run away in terror when they catch our eye. Nor will the growth of reason set them right; the longer they live, and the more they converse with men, the more will they hate us. The Maker of all, and only He, can shiver in pieces this vast enchanted palace in which our lot is cast; may He do it in His time!

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Notes

1. The foregoing lecture in 1851 was, by an accidental coincidence, written simultaneously with an able pamphlet by Serjeant Bellasis, apropos of the conduct of the Anglican clergy of the day.
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2. Vide Stephen's Spirit of the Church of Rome; Edgar's Variations; Cramp's Text-Book of Popery, &c.; the books I happen to have at hand.
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Newman Reader — Works of John Henry Newman
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