Lecture 5. Logical Inconsistency of the Protestant View

Judging by One-Sided Rule
Illustrations of One-Sidedness
Further Illustrations
    Persecution of Converts
    Right to Make Converts
    Principle of Toleration
    Insult and Mockery
    Dr.Achilli and the Inquisition
    English History of Violence


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{177} A CONSIDERATION was incidentally introduced into the argument which engaged our attention last week, Brothers of the Oratory, which deserves insisting on, in the general view which I am taking of the present position of the Catholic Religion in England. I then said that, even putting aside the special merits and recommendations of the Catholic rule of celibacy, as enjoined upon the Priesthood and as involved in Monachism, (with which I was not concerned,) and looking at the question in the simple view of it, to which Protestants confine themselves, and keeping ourselves strictly on the defensive, still, when instances of bad priests and bad religious are brought against us, we might fairly fall back upon what may be called the previous question. I mean, it is incumbent on our opponents to show, that there are fewer cases of scandal among the married clergy than among unmarried; fewer cases of mental conflict, of restlessness, of despondency, of desolation, of immorality, and again of cruel slavery and hopeless suffering, among Protestant women, whether unmarried or wives than among Catholic nuns. It must be shown that {178} in such instances of guilt or sorrow which can be adduced, the priests accused have fallen into sin, the nuns compassionated have passed from happiness to misery, distinctly by virtue of the vow which binds them to a single life:—for till this is proved nothing is proved. Protestants, however, for the most part find it very pleasant to attack others, very irksome and annoying to defend themselves; they judge us by one rule, themselves by another; and they convict us of every sin under heaven for doing sometimes what they do every day.

This one-sidedness, as it may be called, is one of the very marks or notes of a Protestant; and bear in mind, when I use the word Protestant, I do not mean thereby all who are not Catholics, but distinctly the disciples of the Elizabethan Tradition. Such an one cannot afford to be fair; he cannot be fair if he tries. He is ignorant, and he goes on to be unjust. He has always viewed things in one light, and he cannot adapt himself to any other; he cannot throw himself into the ideas of other men, fix upon the principles on which those ideas depend, and then set himself to ascertain how those principles differ, or whether they differ at all, from those which he acts upon himself; and, like a man who has been for a long while in one position, he is cramped and disabled, and has a difficulty and pain, more than we can well conceive, in stretching his limbs, straightening them, and moving them freely.


This narrow and one-sided condition of the Protestant intellect might be illustrated in various ways. {179}

(1.) For instance, as regards the subject of Education. It has lately been forcibly shown that the point which the Catholic Church is maintaining against the British Government in Ireland, as respects the Queen's Colleges for the education of the middle and upper classes, is precisely that which Protestantism maintains, and successfully maintains, against that same Government in England—viz., that secular instruction should not be separated from religious [Note 1]. The Catholics of Ireland are asserting the very same principle as the Protestants of England; however, the Minister does not feel the logical force of the fact; and the same persons who think it so tolerable to indulge Protestantism in the one country, are irritated and incensed at a Catholic people for asking to be similarly indulged in the other. But how is it that intelligent men, who can ascend in their minds from the fall of an apple to the revolution of a comet, who can apply their economical and political inductions from English affairs to the amelioration of Italy and Spain—how is it that, when they come to a question of religion, they are suddenly incapable of understanding that what is reasonable and defensible in one country, is not utterly preposterous and paradoxical in another? What is true under one degree of longitude, is true under another. You have a right indeed to say that Catholicism itself is not true; but you have no right, for it is bad logic, to be surprised that those who think it true act consistently with that supposition; you do not well to be angry with those who resist a policy in Ireland which your own friends {180} and supporters cordially detest and triumphantly withstand in England.

(2.) Take again a very different subject. A Protestant blames Catholics for showing honour to images; yet he does it himself. And first, he sees no difficulty in a mode of treating them, quite as repugnant to his own ideas of what is rational, as the practice he abominates; and that is, the offering insult and mockery to them. Where is the good sense of showing dishonour, if it be stupid and brutish to show honour? Approbation and criticism, praise and blame go together. I do not mean, of course, that you dishonour what you honour; but that the two ideas of honour and dishonour so go together, that where you can apply—(rightly or wrongly, but still)—where it is possible to apply the one, it is possible to apply the other. Tell me, then, what is meant by burning Bishops, or Cardinals, or Popes in effigy? has it no meaning? is it not plainly intended for an insult? Would any one who was burned in effigy feel it no insult? Well, then, how is it not absurd to feel pain at being dishonoured in effigy, yet absurd to feel pleasure at being honoured in effigy? How is it childish to honour an image, if it is not childish to dishonour it? This only can a Protestant say in defence of the act which he allows and practises, that he is used to it, whereas to the other he is not used. Honour is a new idea, it comes strange to him; and, wonderful to say, he does not see that he has admitted it in principle already, in admitting dishonour, and after preaching against the Catholic who crowns an image of the Madonna, he complacently goes his way, and sets light to a straw effigy of Guy Fawkes. {181}

But this is not all; Protestants actually set up images to represent their heroes, and they show them honour without any misgiving. The very flower and cream of Protestantism used to glory in the statue of King William on College Green, Dublin; and, though I cannot make any reference in print, I recollect well what a shriek they raised some years ago, when the figure was unhorsed. Some profane person one night applied gunpowder, and blew the king right out of his saddle; and he was found by those who took interest in him, like Dagon, on the ground. You might have thought the poor senseless block had life, to see the way people took on about it, and how they spoke of his face, and his arms, and his legs; yet those same Protestants, I say, would at the same time be horrified, had I used "he" and "him" of a crucifix, and would call me one of the monsters described in the Apocalypse, did I but honour my living Lord as they their dead king.

(3.) Another instance:—When James the Second went out, and the aforesaid William came in, there were persons who refused to swear fidelity to William, because they had already sworn fidelity to James; and who was to dispense them from their oath? yet these scrupulous men were the few. The many virtually decided that the oath had been conditional, depending on their old king's good behaviour, though there was nothing to show it in the words in which it ran: and that accordingly they had no need to keep it any longer than they liked. And so, in a similar way, supposing a Catholic priest, who has embraced the Protestant persuasion, to come over to this country and marry a wife, who among his new co-religionists {182} would dream of being shocked at it? Every one would think it both natural and becoming, and reasonable too, as a protest against Romish superstition; yet the man has taken the vow, and the man has broken it. "Oh! but he had no business to make such a vow; he did it in ignorance, it was antichristian, it was unlawful." There are then, it seems, after all, such things as unlawful oaths, and unlawful oaths are not to be kept, and there are cases which require a dispensation; yet let a Catholic say this, and he says nothing more—(rather he says much less than the Protestant; for he strictly defines the limits of what is lawful and what is unlawful! he takes a scientific view of the matter, and he forbids a man to be judge in his own case),—let a Catholic, I say, assert what the Protestant practises, and he has furnished matter for half-a-dozen platform speeches, and a whole set of Reformation Tracts.

These are some of the instances, which might be enlarged upon, of the blindness of our opponents to those very same acts or principles in themselves, which they impute as enormities to us; but I leave them for your consideration, my Brothers, and proceed to an instance of a different character.


What is a more fruitful theme of declamation against us than the charge of persecution? The Catholic Church is a persecuting power; and every one of us is a persecutor; and, if we are not by nature persecutors, yet we are forced to be persecutors by the necessity we lie under of obeying a persecuting Church. Now let us direct a careful attention to this Protestant {183} land, which has so virtuous a horror of persecution, and so noble a loathing of persecutors, and so tender a compassion for the persecuted, and let us consider whether the multitude of men are not, to say the least, in the same boat with us; whether there is anything which we are said to do which they do not do also, anything which we are said to have done which they have not done, and therefore, whether, with this theoretical indignation of persecution on the one hand, and this practical sanction of it on the other, they are not in the very position of that great king, in his evil hour, who sentenced a transgressor, when he himself was "the man."

Now I suppose, when men speak of persecution, and say that Catholics persecute, they mean that Catholics, on the score of religious opinions, inflict punishment on persons, property, privileges, or reputation; that we hate, calumniate, mock, mob and distress those who differ from us; that we pursue them with tests, disabilities, civil penalties, imprisonment, banishment, slavery, torture and death; that we are inflexible in our tempers, relentless in our measures, perfidious in our dealings, and remorseless in our inflictions. Something of this kind will be said, with a good deal of exaggeration even at very first sight; but still, as even a candid man may perhaps fancy, with some truth at the bottom. Well, see what I propose to do. I shall not discuss any point of doctrine or principle; such a task would not fall within the scope of these Lectures; I am not going to assume that savage cruelty, ruthless animosity, frantic passion, that the love of tormenting and delight in death are right, nor am I going to assume that they {184} are wrong; I am not entering upon any question of the moral law;—moreover I will not discuss how far Catholics fairly fall in fact under the charge of barbarity, mercilessness, and fanaticism, and for this reason, because it is not my concern; for I mean to maintain, that the acts imputed to Catholics, whatever be their character, so very closely resemble in principle what is done by Protestants themselves, and in a Protestant's judgment is natural, explicable, and becoming, that Protestants are just the very last persons in the world who can with safety or consistency call Catholics persecutors, for the simple reason, that they should not throw stones who live in glass houses.

I am maintaining no paradox in saying this; it is a truth which is maintained by intelligent Protestants themselves. There is Dr. Whately, the present Protestant Archbishop of Dublin, one of the first writers of the day, and a most violent opponent of Catholicism; listen how he speaks, at the very time he is inveighing against our Holy Religion. "The Romish Church," he says, "which has so long and so loudly been stigmatized as a persecuting Church, is, indeed, deeply stained with this guilt, but cannot with any reason be reckoned the originating cause of it ...This, as well as the other Romish errors, has its root in the evil heart of the unrenewed man. Like the rest, it neither began with Romanism, nor can reasonably be expected to end with it." [Note 2]

Now, what I shall do is, to take the Protestant in his house, his family, and his circle of friends, in his occupation, and his civil and political position, as a {185} good kind father, as a liberal master, as a useful member of society; and to consider, as regards this matter of persecution, whether, could he see himself in a looking-glass, he would not mistake himself for a Catholic.

For instance, what is the first and natural act on the part of a Protestant father of a family, when he receives the intelligence that his son or daughter, grown up to man's or woman's estate, nay, long since come of age, has become, or is on the point of becoming a Catholic? Of course there are exceptions; but in most cases his conduct is so uniform, so suggestive of a general law, to which particular cases belong, that I almost fear to describe it, lest, what is farthest from my wish, I seem to be personal, and to be indulging in satire, when I am but pursuing an argument. "My dear John or James," the father says, calling him by his Christian name, "you know how tenderly I love you, and how indulgent I have ever been to you. I have given you the best of educations, and I have been proud of you. There is just one thing I cannot stand, and that is Popery; and this is the very thing you have gone and taken up. You have exercised your right of private judgment; I do not quarrel with you for this; you are old enough to judge for yourself; but I too have sacred duties, which are the unavoidable result of your conduct. I have duties to your brothers and sisters;—never see my face again; my door is closed to you. It wounds me to come to this decision, but what can I do? My affection for you is as strong as ever it was, but you have placed yourself under influences hostile to your father's roof and your own home, and you must take the consequences." {186}

No one can look round him, who has much to do with conversions and converts, without seeing this fulfilled often to the letter, and mutatis mutandis, in a variety of parallel cases. Protestants have felt it right, just, and necessary, to break the holiest of earthly ties, and to inflict the acutest temporal suffering on those who have exercised their private judgment in the choice of a religion. They have so acted, and they so act daily. A sense of duty to religious opinions, and of the supposed religious interests of those intrusted to them, has triumphed over the feelings of nature. Years have passed, perhaps death has come, without any signs of recognition passing from the father to the son. Sometimes the severance and its consequences may be sterner still: the wife may be sent away, her children taken from her, because she felt a call in conscience to join the Catholic Church. The son has been cut off (as they say) to a shilling. The daughter has been locked up, her books burned, the rites of her religion forbidden her. The malediction has been continued to the third generation; the grandchildren, the child unborn, has not been tolerated by the head of the family, because the parents were converts to the faith of their forefathers.

Nature pleads; and therefore, to fortify the mind, the various reasons for such severity must be distinctly passed before it, and impressed upon it, and passion must be roused to overcome affection. "Such a base, grovelling, demoralising religion, unworthy of a man of sense, unworthy of a man! I could have borne his turning Drummondite, Plymouth-Brother, or Mormonite. He might almost have joined the {187} Agapemone. I would rather see him an unbeliever; yes, I say it deliberately, Popery is worse than Paganism. I had rather see him dead. I could have borne to see him in his coffin. I cannot see him the slave of a priest. And then the way in which he took the step: he never let me know, and had been received before I had had a hint about it;" or "he told me what he meant to do, and then did it in spite of me;" or, "he was so weak and silly," or "so head-strong," or "so long and obstinately set upon it." "He had nothing to say for himself," or "he was always arguing." "He was inveigled into it by others," or "he ought to have consulted others, he had no right to have an opinion. Anyhow he is preferring strangers to his true friends; he has shown an utter disregard of the feelings of his parents and relations; he has been ungrateful to his father."

These are a few out of the many thoughts which pass through the Protestant's mind under the circumstances I have supposed, and which impel him to inflict a severe penalty on a child for a change of religion. And if there be Protestant fathers who demur to the correctness of this representation (and I am using the word Protestant in its proper sense, as I have noticed several times before), I beg to ask such parents whether, in fact, they have themselves suffered the affliction I have supposed,—I mean, that of their children becoming Catholics; and, if they have not, I entreat them to fancy such an affliction for a moment, and how they would feel and act if it really took place. Rather they will not be able to get themselves to fancy it; I am sure that most of them will revolt from the thought in indignation; the {188} very supposition irritates them. "I should like to see any son or daughter of mine turning Papist!" is the thought which spontaneously rises to their mind.

I have been speaking of the upper and middle classes: in the lower the feeling is the same, only more uncourteously expressed, and acted on more summarily. The daughter, on her return home, tells the mother that she has been attending, and means to attend, the Catholic chapel; whereupon the mother instantly knocks the daughter down, and takes away from her bonnet and shawl, and the rest of her clothes to keep her in-doors: or if it is the case of a wife, the husband falls to cursing, protests he will kill her if she goes near the Catholics, and that if the priest comes here, he will pitch him out of window. Such are specimens of what Dr. Whately truly calls, "the evil heart of the unrenewed man."

Perhaps, however, the one party or the other gives way; milder counsels prevail with the persecutor, or the persecuted is menaced into submission. A poor child is teased and worried, till, to escape black looks, sharp speeches, petty mortifications, and the unsympathizing chill of the domestic atmosphere, she consents to go to Protestant worship; and is forced to sit, stand, and kneel, in outward deference to a ceremonial, which she utterly disbelieves, and perhaps hates. At length, doing violence to her conscience, she loses her sense of the reality of Catholicism, grows indifferent to all religion, sceptical of the truth of everything, and utterly desponding and sick at heart and miserable. Her friends suspect her state, but it is better than Popery; their detestation of the {189} Catholic religion is so intense, that, provided their child is saved from its influence, for them she may believe anything or nothing; and as to her distress of mind, time will overcome it—they will get her married. Such is a Protestant's practical notion of freedom of opinion, religious liberty, private judgment, and those other fine principles which he preaches up with such unction in public meetings, and toasts so enthusiastically at public dinners.

Perhaps, however, there is a compromise. Terms are made, conditions extracted; the parties who have made the mistake of thinking they might judge for themselves, are taken into favour again,—are received under the paternal roof on the rigid stipulation that no sign of Catholicism is to escape them; their mouths are to be sealed; their devotional manuals to be hid; their beads must never escape from their pocket; their crucifix must lie in a drawer; Opinion is to be simply put down in the family.

As to domestic servants whose crime it is to be Catholics, far more summary measures are taken with them, not less cruel in effect, though more plausible in representation. They are the first to suffer from a popular cry against the Catholic religion. Perhaps some reverend person, high in station, draws public attention to this defenceless portion of the community,—not to protect them from those moral dangers which benevolent statesmen are striving to mitigate,—but to make them the objects of suspicion, and to set their masters and mistresses against them. Suddenly a vast number of young persons are thrown out of their situations, simply because they are Catholics—because, forsooth, they are supposed to be emissaries {190} of the Jesuits, spies upon the family, and secret preachers of Popery. Whither are they to go? home they have none; trial and perils they have without number, which ought to excite remorse in the breasts of those who, at the gain of a smart argument in controversy, or a telling paragraph in a speech or a charge, are the cause of their misfortunes. They look about in vain for a fresh place; and their only chance of success is by accepting any wages, however poor, which are offered them, and going into any service, however hard, however low, however disadvantageous. Well, but let us suppose the best that can befall them: they shall be tolerated in a household and not discharged; but what is the price they pay for this indulgence! They are to give up their religious duties; never to go to confession; only once or twice a year to mass; or an arrangement is made, as a great favour, to allow them to go monthly. Moreover, they are had up into the parlour or drawing-room for family prayers, or to hear tracts and treatises, abusive of their religion, or to endure the presence of some solemn Protestant curate, who is expressly summoned to scare and browbeat, if he cannot persuade, a safe victim, whom her hard circumstances have made dependent on the tyranny of others.

Now, I would have every Protestant, to whom my words may come, put his hand on his heart and say, first, whether scenes such as I have been describing, whether in high life or in low, are not very much what he would call persecution in Catholics, and next, whether they can, by any the utmost ingenuity, be referred, in the cases supposed, to any Catholic influence as their cause. On the contrary, they come {191} out of the very depths and innermost shrine of the Protestant heart: it is undeniable, the very staunchest Protestants are the actors in them: nay, the stauncher they are, the more faithfully do they sustain their part: and yet, I repeat, if a similar occurrence were reported of some Catholic family in Italy or Spain, these very persons whose conduct I have been describing would listen with great satisfaction to the invectives of any itinerant declaimer, who should work up the sternness of the father, the fury of the mother, the beggary of children and grandchildren, the blows struck, the imprecations uttered, the imprisonment, the over-persuasion, or the compulsory compromise, into a demonstration that Popery was nothing else than a persecuting power, which was impatient of light, and afraid of inquiry, and which imposed upon fathers, mothers, and husbands, under pain of reprobation, the duty of tormenting their children, and discharging their servants at an hour's warning.

Let us walk abroad with those children or servants, who, by the spirit of Protestantism, have been sent about their business for being Catholics, and we shall see fresh manifestations of its intolerance. Go into the workshops and manufactories, you will find it in full operation. The convert to Catholicism is dismissed by his employer; the tradesman loses his custom; the practitioner his patients; the lawyer has no longer the confidence of his clients; pecuniary aid is reclaimed, or its promise recalled; business is crippled, the shop cannot be opened; the old is left without provision, the young without his outfit—he must look about for himself; his friends fight shy of {192} him; gradually they drop him, if they do not disown him at once. There used to be pleasant houses open to him, and a circle of acquaintance. People were glad to see him, and he felt himself, though solitary, not lonely; he was by himself, indeed, but he had always a refuge from himself, without having recourse to public amusements which he disliked. It is now all at an end; he gets no more invitations; he is not a welcome guest. He at length finds himself in Coventry; and where his presence once was found, now it is replaced by malicious and monstrous tales about him, distorted shadows of himself, freely circulated, and readily believed. What is his crime?—he is a Catholic among Protestants.


If such is the conduct of Protestant society towards individuals, what is it not against the Priest? what against the Catholic Name itself? Do you think it is with the good will of Establishment, Wesleyan Connection, and various other denominations of religion, that Catholics are in Birmingham at all? do we worship—have we a place of worship,—with or against the will of the bodies in question? Would they not close all our churches and chapels tomorrow, would they not cut the ground from under us, if they could? what hinders them from turning us all out of the place, except that they can't? Attend to this, my Brothers, and observe its bearing. You know what an outcry is raised, because the Roman Government does not sell or give ground to Protestants to build a Protestant Church in the centre of Rome; that government hinders them there, because it is {193} able: Protestants do not hinder us here, because they are not able. Can they, in the face of day, deny this?—they cannot. Why, then, do they find fault with others who do, because they can, what they themselves would do if they could? Do not tell me, then, that they are in earnest when they speak of the "intolerance of Catholics" abroad; they ought to come into Court with clean hands. They do just the same themselves, as far as they can; only, since they cannot do it to their mind's content, they are determined it shall form an article of impeachment against us; and they eagerly throw a stone that comes to hand, though it is only by an accident that it does not fall back on themselves.

It has lately been reported in the papers that the Catholics of Italy are going to build a church in London for their poor countrymen, who in great numbers are found there. Let them go to the Board of Woods and Forests (and less equitable bodies might be found), and try to negotiate a purchase of ground for a site; would Government for a moment entertain the proposal? would it not laugh at their impudence in asking? would the people suffer the Government, even if it were disposed? would there not be petitions sent up to the two Houses, enough to break the tables on which they were ranged,—petitions to the Queen, enough to block up the Home Office? would not the whole press, both daily and weekly, in town and in country, groan and tremble under the portentous agitation such a project would occasion? Happily for Catholics, other ground is to be had. But would not Court and Ministry, Establishment, Wesleyans, almost every political party, almost all the denominations of {194} London, the Court of Aldermen, the Common Council, the City Companies, the great landlords, the Inns of Court, and the Vestries, hinder any Catholic Church if they could? Yet these are the parties to cry out against a line of conduct in Rome which they do their best to imitate in London.

But this is not all: in spite of their manifesting, every day of their lives, an intense desire to do us all the harm in their power, wonderful to say, they go on to reproach us with ingratitude. We evince no gratitude, say the Protestant Bishops, for the favours which have been shown us. Gratitude for what? What favours have we received? the Frenchman's good fortune, and nothing else. When he boasted the king had spoken to him, he was naturally asked what the king had said: and he answered that his Majesty had most graciously cried out to him, "Fellow, stand out of the way." Statesmen would ignore us if they could; they recognise us in order to coerce; they cannot coerce without recognising, therefore at last they condescend to recognise. When there was a proposal, several years ago, for an interchange of ministers between England and the Pope, then they would not have his name mentioned; he was not to be called by any title of his own, but by a new-fangled name, framed for the occasion. He was to be known as "Sovereign of the Roman States;" a title which pretty well provided, should occasion occur, for treating with some other sovereign power in his States who should not be he. Now that they wish to do him an injury, forthwith they wake up to the fact of his existence. Our statesmen affect to know nothing of the greatest power on {195} earth, the most ancient dynasty in history, till it comes right across their path, and then they can recognise as foes, what before they could not recognise as gentlemen.

Indeed, if the truth must be told, so one-sided is this Protestantism, that its supporters have not yet admitted the notion into their minds, that the Catholic Church has as much right to make converts in England as any other denomination. It is a new idea to them; they had thought she ought to be content with vegetating, as a sickly plant, in some back-yard or garret window; but to attempt to spread her faith abroad—this is the real insidiousness, and the veritable insult. I say this advisedly. Some public men, indeed, have even confessed it; they have been candid enough to admit distinctly, that the Penal Bill is intended to throw a damper on our energies; and others imply it who dare not say it. There are words, for instance, imputed to the Prime Minister, with reference to a publication of my own, which put the matter in a very clear point of view. I have to acknowledge his civility to myself personally; and I am sure, though I have an aversion to his party and his politics, of twenty, nay thirty years' standing, yet I bear nothing but goodwill to himself, except as the representative of the one and of the other. But now consider what he said. It appears he had laid it down, that his only object in his Parliamentary measure was to resist any temporal pretensions of the Pope; and in proof, observe, that such pretensions were made, what does he do but quote some words which I used in a sermon preached at Chad's last October, on occasion of {196} the Establishment of the Hierarchy. Now what was that sermon about? was there a word in it about Catholics exercising or gaining temporal power in England, which was the point on which he was insisting?—not a syllable. I may confidently say, for I know my own feelings on the subject, that the notion of any civil or political aggrandisement of Catholicism never came into my head. From the beginning to the end of the sermon, I spoke simply and purely of conversions—of conversions of individuals, of the spread of the Church by means of individual conversions, by the exercise of private judgment, by the communication of mind with mind by the conflict of opinion, by the zeal of converts, and in the midst of persecution; not by any general plan of operation, or by political movement, or by external influence bearing upon the country. Such a growth of Catholicism, intellectual, gradual, moral, peaceable, and stable, I certainly predicted and predict, and such only: yet this, though the fruit of free opinion and disputation, is adduced by the Premier as an intelligible, as a sufficient, reason for introducing a measure of coercion.

An intellectual movement must be met by Act of Parliament. Can a clearer proof be required, that not our political intrigues—for we are guilty of none—but our moral and argumentative power, is the real object of apprehension and attack? they wish to coerce us because we are zealous, and they venture to coerce us because we are few. They coerce us for the crime of being few and wishing to be many. They coerce us while they can, lest they should not dare to coerce when another twenty years has passed {197} over our heads. "Hit him, he's down!" this is the cry of the Ministry, the country gentlemen, the Establishment, and Exeter Hall. Therefore are we ultramontanes; therefore are we aggressive; this is our conspiracy, that we have hearts to desire what we believe to be for the religious well-being of others, and heads to compass it. Two centuries ago, all England, you know, was in terror about some vast and mysterious Popish plot, which was to swallow up the whole population, without any one knowing how. What does the historian Hume—no Catholic, certainly,—say on the subject? "Such zeal of proselytism," he observes, "actuates that sect (meaning us) that its missionaries have penetrated into every nation of the globe; and in one sense there is a Popish plot perpetually carrying on against all states, Protestant, Pagan, and Mahometan." [Note 3] The simple truth! this is the unvarnished account of the matter: we do surpass in zeal every other Religion, and have done so from the first. But this, surely, ought to be no offence, but a praise: that Religion which inspires the most enthusiasm has a right to succeed. If to cherish zeal, if to deal the blows of reason and argument, if this be political, if this be disloyal, certainly we deserve worse punishment than the deportation suggested by one member of Parliament, and the 500 penalty proposed by another.

Had indeed the ruling powers of the country, when coercion was in their power, refrained from coercion, and turned a host of controversialists in upon us instead; had a gracious answer come from the Throne {198} in return for the loyal address of the Protestant Bishops, commanding them to refute us, and never to enter the royal closet again without a tail of twenty converts apiece; had a Parliamentary Committee been appointed to inquire into the best means of denying our facts, and unravelling our arguments; had a reward of some 1000 been offered for our scientific demolition, in Bridgewater Treatise or Warburton Lecture, we should have felt gratitude towards those who had rather fail in their end than be ungenerous in their measures. But for years and years the case has been just the reverse; they have ever done us all the harm that they could, they have not done only what they could not. They have only made concessions under the influence of fear. Small thanks for scanty favours; such thanks as Lazarus's for the rich man's crumbs which could not help falling from the table: it is no virtue to grant what you cannot deny. Now, what is the state of the case; Protestant sects quarrel among themselves, they scramble for power, they inflict injuries on each other; then at length they come to think it would be well to bear and forbear. They establish the great principle of toleration, not at all for our sakes, simply for the sake of each other, one and all devoutly wishing that they could tolerate each other without tolerating us. We, born Britons and members of the body politic as much as they, accidentally come under the shadow of a toleration which was meant for others. When they find that common sense and fairness are too strong for them, and that they cannot keep us out, and, moreover, that it is dangerous to do so, they make a merit of letting us in, and they {199} wish us to be grateful for a privilege which is our birthright as much as it is theirs.

I know well there is a rising feeling, there are emergent parties in this country, far more generous and equitable, far more sensible, than to deserve these imputations; but I am speaking all along of the dominant faction, and of the children of the Tradition. As for the latter, it will be long before they realise the fact that we are on a social equality with themselves, and that what is allowable in them is allowable in us. At present, it is a matter of surprise to them that we dare to speak a word in our defence, and that we are not content with the liberty of breathing, eating, moving about, and dying in a Protestant soil. That we should have an opinion, that we should take a line of our own, that we should dare to convince people, that we should move on the offensive, is intolerable presumption, and takes away their breath. They think themselves martyrs of patience if they can keep quiet in our presence, and condescending in the heroic degree, if they offer us any lofty civility. So was it the other day, when the late agitation began; the hangers-on of Government said to us, "Cling tight to our coat-tails; we are your best friends; we shall let you off easy; we shall only spit upon you; but beware of those rabid Conservatives;" and they marvelled that we did not feel it to be the highest preferment for the Catholic Church to wait in the ante-chambers of a political party. So it is with your Protestant controversialist, even when he shows to best advantage; his great principle of disputation is that he is up, and the Catholic is down; and his great duty is to show it. {200} He is intensely conscious that he is in a very eligible situation, and his opponent in the gutter; and he lectures down upon him, as if out of a drawing-room window. It is against his nature to be courteous to those for whom he feels so cordial a disdain, and he cannot forgive himself for stooping to annihilate them. He mistakes sharpness for keenness, and haughtiness for strength; and never shows so high and mighty in manner as when he means to be unutterably conclusive. It is a standing rule with him to accuse his opponent of evasion and misstatement; and, when in fault of an argument, he always can impugn his motives, or question the honesty of his professions.

Such is the style of that writer to whom Cardinal Wiseman alludes in his late Appeal to the English people. The person I speak of is a gentleman and a scholar, nay, one of the most distinguished Protestant theologians of the day; but that did not hinder him, on the occasion alluded to by the Cardinal, from strutting about with indignation that a Catholic should intrude himself into the quarrels of the Establishment, and from fancying that rudeness would be an indication of superiority. In his title-page he describes his pamphlet as "A letter to N. Wiseman, D.D., calling himself Bishop of Melipotamus;" then he addresses him, not "Rev. Sir," but "Sir," and talks of it being reported that he has "received the form of episcopal consecration at Rome," and tells him this is no excuse for his "acting in opposition to his legitimate diocesan, the [Protestant] Bishop of Worcester." He proceeds to speak of Dr. Wiseman's "characteristic sagacity," and of the "leaders of his {201} party;" reminds him that "in the eyes of his superiors the end sanctifies the means," and says that a mistake of fact, of which he accuses him, "appears to be not quite unintentional." He is ever upon stilts, and, as the pamphlet proceeds, there is an ever-thickening recurrence of such rhetoric as "Excuse me, Sir," and "Now, Sir," and "Such, Sir," and "But, Sir," and "Yes, Sir," and " No, Sir." I should not notice this pamphlet, which is of some years' standing, did I think the writer at all repented of its tone, and might not any day publish just such another. After all, it is but an instance in detail of the Protestant Tradition; for such has been the received style of the Church of England ever since the days of such considerable men as Laud, Taylor, Stillingfleet, and Ussher. Moreover, it is emphatically the gentleman-like manner of conducting the controversy with us, in contrast to that of the pulpit or the platform, where the speaker considers himself a sort of theological Van Amberg, scares us with his eye, and hits up to and fro with his cudgel.


Now for another department of this petty persecution. That able writer, Dr. Whately, whom I have already quoted in this Lecture, and whom, for the love I bear him, from all memories, in spite of our religious differences, I take pleasure in quoting, whenever I can do so with any momentary or partial agreement with him—the Protestant Archbishop of Dublin, I say, writing on the subject of persecution, is led to speak of insult and abuse, calumny, ridicule, and blasphemy, as directed by the professors of {202} one religion against those of another; and he uses the following remarkable words:—"Undoubtedly," he says, "they ought to enjoy this protection, not only of their persons and property, but of their comfort and feelings also. The State is both authorised and bound to prohibit and to guard against, by her own appropriate penalties, not only everything that may tend to a breach of the peace, but also everything that unnecessarily interferes with the comfort, and molests the feelings of any one. I say, unnecessarily, because it may be painful indeed to a man's feelings to have his opinions controverted, and to be obliged to encounter opponents; but then free discussion is necessary for the attainment and maintenance of truth. Not so with ridicule and insult; to forbid these can be no violation of religious liberty, since no man can be bound in conscience to employ such weapons: they have manifestly no tendency to advance the cause of truth; they are, therefore, analogous to the slaughter of women and children, and other non-belligerents, which is regarded by all civilized nations as a violation of the laws of war; these being unnecessary cruelties, since they have no direct tendency to bring the war to a conclusion." And then he goes on to say, "It is evident that all this reasoning applies with equal force to the case of persons of every religious persuasion, whether Christians of various sects, or Jews, or Mahometans. All of these, though they must be prepared indeed to encounter fair argument, should be protected, not only from persecution, but from insult, libel and mockery, as occasioning a useless interruption of public or of domestic peace and comfort; and this being an offence against {203} society, may justly be prohibited and punished by human laws." [Note 4]

Here, you will observe, a writer, setting down his thoughts on persecution twenty-five years ago, when the present state of the controversy was as yet in the womb of the future, distinctly tells us that insult, abuse, and mockery, are inconsistent with religious liberty, and that they should be prohibited by law, even as directed against Mahometans. Now I accept the sentiment, though I will not adopt it without an explanation. I consider then, that in applying it to the existing state of things, we must distinguish between religious objects and rites, and the persons who acknowledge them. I cannot reprobate, in a free country like this, the ridicule of individuals, whoever they are; and I think it would be a very evil day when it was forbidden. From the Lord Chancellor and Prime Minister, to the ephemeral charlatan or quack, who astonishes the world with his impudence and absurdity, it is desirable that all should be exposed to the ridicule of any who choose to make them the objects of it. In no other way are various abuses, or encroachments, or nuisances, or follies, so easily and gently got rid of; it is a most healthy expression of public opinion; it is a safety-valve for feelings, which if not allowed so harmless an escape, might end in a serious explosion. Moreover, it is our boast among the nations, that, while elsewhere it is dangerous, with us it is positively healthy. In France or in Italy, I suppose, no Government could stand against public ridicule; the Anglo-Saxon is good-natured in his {204} satire; and he likes his rulers not at all the worse, or rather the better, that he can distort them into attitudes, and dress them up in masquerade. And this permission must be suffered to extend to the case of persons who bear a religious profession, as well as that of others; though in this case the line will sometimes be difficult to draw. It will be painful, indeed, to those who look up to them, to see one whom they revere, or who is associated with what is sacred in their minds, made the subject of insult and buffoonery, as it may be annoying to the private circle and painful to the relatives of a statesman or public man, who undergoes a similar ordeal; but, as matters go in this country, there is no sufficient ground for prohibiting, nor much wisdom in complaining. But the case is very different when the religious rite is insulted, and the individual for the sake of the rite. For example, were England a Catholic country, I can fancy a caricature of a fat monk or a fanatical pilgrim being quite unobjectionable; it would argue no disrespect to the Religion itself, but would be merely a blow at an abuse of religion, in the instance of certain individuals who were no ornament to it; on the other hand, in a Protestant land, it would or would not be an insult to Catholicism, according to the temper of the moment, and the colouring and details of the satire. However, my business is not to draw the line between what is allowable and what is unfair as regards ridicule in matters of religion, but merely to direct your attention to this point, that I have no wish, when it can be helped, to shelter the persons of religious men under the sacredness of the Religion itself.

With this explanation, then, in favour of ridicule, I {205} accept Dr. Whately's doctrine as reasonable and true; but consider, my Brothers, its application to ourselves. What a remarkable light does it cast on the relative position of Protestants and Catholics in England during the current year! Our author tells us that insult and mockery, in religious controversy, is as cowardly and cruel as the slaughter of women and children in war, and he presses on us the duty of the State to prohibit by penalties such interference with the comforts and feelings of individuals; now, I repeat, what a remarkable illustration have Protestants supplied to this doctrine of a Protestant divine since Michaelmas last! The special champions of toleration, the jealous foes of persecution, how studiously and conscientiously, during nine long months, have they practised what they preached! What a bright example have they set to that religious communion which they hold in such abhorrence on the ground of its persecuting spirit! Oh, the one-sided intellect of Protestantism! I appeal in evidence of it to a great banquet, where, amid great applause, the first judge of the land spoke of trampling Cardinal Wiseman's hat under his feet. I appeal to the last fifth of November, when jeers against the Blessed Sacrament and its rites were chalked up in the Metropolis with impunity, under the very shadow of the Court, and before the eyes of the Home Office and the Police. I appeal to the mock processions to ridicule, and bonfires to burn, what we hold most venerable and sacred, not only Pope, and Cardinal and Priest, but the very Mother of our Lord, and the Crucifix itself. I appeal to those ever-growing files of newspapers, whose daily task, in the tedious succession {206} of months has been to cater for the gross palate of their readers all varieties of disgusting gossip, and of bitter reproach, and of extravagant slander, and of affronting, taunting, sneering, irritating invective against us. I appeal to the buckram nuns of Warwickshire, Nottingham, and Clapham, to the dungeons of Edgbaston, and the sin-table of St. Gudule's. I appeal to the outrageous language perpetrated in a place I must not name, where one speaker went the length of saying, what the reporters suppressed for fear of consequences, that a dear friend and brother of mine, for whose purity and honour I would die, mentioning him by name, went about the country, as the words came to the ears of those present, seducing young women. I appeal to the weekly caricatures, not of persons only and their doings, but of all that is held sacred in our doctrines and observances, of our rites and ceremonies, our saints and our relics, our sacred vestments and our rosaries. I appeal to the popular publication, which witty and amusing in its place, thought it well to leave its "sweetness" and its "fatness," to change make-believe for earnest, to become solemn and sour in its jests, and awkwardly to try its hand at divinity, because Catholics were the game. I appeal to the cowardly issue of a cowardly agitation, to the blows dealt in the streets of this very town upon the persons of the innocent, the tender, and the helpless;—not to any insult or affliction which has come upon ourselves, for it is our portion, and we have no thought of complaining,—but to the ladies and the schoolgirls, who, at various times, up to the day I am recording it, because they are Catholics, have been the {207} victims of these newspaper sarcasms, and these platform blasphemies. I appeal to the stones striking sharply upon the one, and the teeth knocked out of the mouths of the other. Dr. Whately's words have been almost prophetic; mockery and insult have literally terminated in the bodily injury of those non-belligerents, who are sacred by the laws of all civilised warfare. Such are some of the phenomena of a Religion which makes it its special boast to be the Prophet of Toleration.


And in the midst of outrages such as these, my Brothers of the Oratory, wiping its mouth, and clasping its hands, and turning up its eyes, it trudges to the Town Hall to hear Dr. Achilli expose the Inquisition. Ah! Dr. Achilli, I might have spoken of him last week, had time admitted of it. The Protestant world flocks to hear him, because he has something to tell of the Catholic Church. He has a something to tell, it is true; he has a scandal to reveal, he has an argument to exhibit. It is a simple one, and a powerful one, as far as it goes—and it is one. That one argument is himself; it is his presence which is the triumph of Protestants; it is the sight of him which is a Catholic's confusion. It is indeed our great confusion, that our Holy Mother could have had a priest like him [Note 5]. He feels the force of the argument, and he shows himself to the multitude that is gazing on him. "Mothers of families," he seems to say, "gentle maidens, innocent children, look at me, for I am worth looking at. You do not {208} see such a sight every day. Can any Church live over the imputation of such a birth as I am?" [Note 6]

*        *         *         *         *         *

Yes, you are an incontrovertible proof that priests may fall and friars break their vows. You are your own witness; but while you need not go out of yourself for your argument, neither are you able. With you the argument begins; with you too it ends: the beginning and the ending you are both. When you have shown yourself, you have done your worst and your all; you are your best argument and your sole. Your witness against others is utterly invalidated by your witness against yourself. You leave your sting in the wound; you cannot lay the golden eggs, for you are already dead.

For how, Brothers of the Oratory, can we possibly believe a man like this in what he says about persons, and facts, and conversations, and events, when he is of the stamp of Maria Monk, of Jeffreys, and of Teodore, and of others who have had their hour, and then been dropped by the indignation or the shame of mankind? What call is there on Catholics to answer what has not yet been proved? what need to answer the evidence of one who has not replied to the Police reports of Viterbo, Naples, and Corfu? He tells me that a Father Inquisitor said to him, "Another time," that you are "shut up in the Inquisition," "you" will not "get away so easily." [Note 7] I do not believe it was said to him. He reports that a Cardinal said of him, "We must either make him a Bishop, or shut him up {209} in the Inquisition." [Note 8] I do not believe it. He bears witness, that "the General of the Dominicans, the oldest of the Inquisitors, exclaimed against him before the council, 'This heretic, we had better burn him alive.'" [Note 9] I don't believe a word of it. "Give up the present Archbishop of Canterbury," says he, "amiable and pious as he is, to one of these rabid Inquisitors; he must either deny his faith, or be burned alive. Is my statement false? Am I doting?" [Note 10] Not doting, but untrustworthy. "Suppose I were to be handed over to the tender mercy of this Cardinal [Wiseman], and he had full power to dispose of me as he chose, without losing his character in the eyes of the nation, ... should I not have to undergo some death more terrible than ordinary?" Dr. Achilli does not dote; they dote who trust him.

Why do I so confidently assert that he is not to be believed?—first, because his life for twenty years past creates no prepossession in favour of his veracity; secondly, because during a part of that period, according to his own confession, he spoke and argued against doctrines, which at the very time he confessed to be maintained by the communion to which he belonged; thirdly, because he has ventured to deny in the general, what official documents prove against him in the particular; fourthly, because he is not simple and clear enough in his narrative of facts to inspire any confidence in him; fifthly, because he abounds in misstatements and romance, as any one will see who knows anything of the matters he is writing about; sixthly, because he runs counter to facts known and confessed by all. {210}


Indeed, I should not finish my Lecture tonight, my Brothers, if I went through the series of historical facts which might be detailed in contradiction of the statements which this author advances, and in proof of the utterly false view which Protestants take of the Inquisition, and of the Holy See in connection with it. I will set down a few. A recent Catholic controversialist, a Spanish writer of great name, Dr. Balmez, goes so far as to say "that the Roman Inquisition has never been known to pronounce the execution of capital punishment, although the Apostolic See has been occupied, during that time, by Popes of extreme rigour and severity in all that relates to the civil administration." [Note 11]—"We find," he continues, "in all parts of Europe scaffolds prepared to punish crimes against religion; scenes which sadden the soul were everywhere witnessed. Rome is an exception to the rule;—Rome, which it has been attempted to represent as a monster of intolerance and cruelty ... The Popes, armed with a tribunal of intolerance, have not spilt a drop of blood; Protestants and philosophers have shed torrents." Moreover, the Spanish Inquisition, against which, and not the Roman, it is more common to inveigh, though Dr. Achilli writes about the Roman, the Spanish Inquisition, which really was bloody, is confessed by great Protestant authorities, such as Ranke, and Guizot, to have been a political, not an ecclesiastical institution; its officials, though ecclesiastics, were {211} "appointed by the crown, responsible to the crown, and removable at its pleasure." [Note 12] It had, indeed, been originally authorised by the Pope, who, at the instance of the civil power, granted it a bull of establishment; but as soon as it began to act, its measures so deeply shocked him, that he immediately commenced a series of grave remonstrances against its proceedings, and bitterly complained that he had been deceived by the Spanish Government. The Protestant Ranke distinctly maintains that it was even set up against the Pope and the Church. "As the jurisdiction of the Court," he says, "rested on the Royal Supremacy, so its exercise was made available for the maintenance of the Royal authority. It is one of those spoliations of the ecclesiastical power, by which this government rose into strength; ... in its nature and its object, it was a purely political institute." Moreover, the Pope, anxious and displeased at what was going on, appointed a new functionary to reside on the spot, with the office of Judge of Appeals from the Inquisition, in favour of the condemned: and when this expedient was evaded, he appointed special judges for particular cases; and lastly, when the cruelty of the Spanish Government and its officials, lay and ecclesiastical, defeated this second attempt to ameliorate the evil, then he encouraged the sufferers to flee to Rome, where he took them under his protection [Note 13]. In this way it is recorded, that in one {212} year he rescued 230 persons, and 200 in another. Sometimes he directly interfered in Spain itself; in the beginning of one year he liberated fifty heretics; and fifty more a month or two later; three further interpositions of mercy are recorded within the year. Sometimes he set aside and annulled the judgments passed: sometimes he managed to rescue the condemned from the infamy and civil consequences of the sentence; sometimes he actually summoned, censured, and excommunicated the Inquisitor; and often he took the part of the children of those whose property was forfeited to the crown. Moreover he refused to allow the Spanish Government to introduce their Inquisition into Naples, or the Milanese, which then belonged to Spain, from his disapprobation of its rigour.

Such conduct as this is but in accordance with the historical character of the Holy See, in all times and in all countries. Doubtless in the long course of eighteen hundred years, there are events which need explanation, and which Catholics themselves might wish otherwise: but the general tenor and tendency of the traditions of the Papacy have been mercy and humanity. It has ever been less fierce than the nations, and in advance of the age: it has ever moderated, not only the ferocity of barbarians, but the fanaticism of Catholic populations. Let the accusations which can be made against it be put in form; let the formal charges be proved: let the proved offences be counted up; and then Protestants themselves will be able to determine what judgment is to be passed on the language in which they indulge themselves against it. "An actual hell," says their present oracle, Dr. Achilli, "seems to {213} be at the command of this Church, and it may be known by the name of the Inquisition ... The Inquisition is truly a hell, invented by priests ... Christianity suffers more now than in former times under this harsh slavery." [Note 14] The Inquisition, it seems, is a hell; then there are many other hells in the world present and past, and worse hells, though this is the only one of which Dr. Achilli has had experience. He, indeed, may be excused for not knowing that, in his reprobation of the Inquisition, he is in fact virtually reflecting upon the nation, at whose good opinion he is aiming; but Protestants, had they the caution of ordinary disputants, would have known better than to accept a field of controversy, far less dangerous to their enemy than to themselves. Judgment and justice, like charity, begin at home: and before they commiserate culprits two thousand miles away, they would do well to feel some shame at victims of their own making. They are shocked, forsooth, at religious ascendancy and religious coercion at Rome; as if the ideas and the things were foreign to a British soil and a British policy. The name alone of the Inquisition, says Dr. Achilli, "is sufficient to incite in the minds of all rational beings a sentiment of horror and repugnance, little inferior to what Christians experience with respect to hell itself." [Note 15] A true word! what is the Inquisition but a name? What is the Court of Queen's Bench but a name? why should not, in this matter, the names be interchanged? what has the Inquisition done at Rome, which the Royal name and authority has not done in England? The question is, not what a tribunal is called, but what has been its {214} work. Dr. Achilli, it seems, has been imprisoned by the Inquisition, for preaching in Rome against the religion of Rome: and has no one ever been put in prison, or fined, or transported, or doomed to death in England, for preaching against the religion of England? Those adversaries, indeed, of Catholicism pleaded that Catholicism was rebellion: and has Dr. Achilli had nothing to do with a party not only dangerous, but actually and contemporaneously subversive of the Pontifical Government? It seems never to occur to a Protestant, that he must not do in his own case what he blames in another; and should he at any time leave off a practice, he is surprised that every one else has not left it off at the same moment, and he has no mercy on any that has not;—like converted prodigals, who are sternly unforgiving towards the vices they have only just abandoned themselves.


It is in my own memory, that a popular writer was convicted in the King's Bench, and sentenced to fine and imprisonment, for parodying passages of the Anglican Prayer Book. It is within my own memory, that an unbeliever in Christianity incurred a similar sentence, for exposing and selling his publications in a shop in Fleet Street. Why is Christianity to be protected by law, if Catholicism is not? What has the Inquisition done to Dr. Achilli, which the King's Bench did not do, and more, to Hone and Carlyle? Why is that so shocking today, which came so natural to you thirty years ago? Not many years have passed since Unitarian worship was a legal offence: the Unitarian creed was felony, and Unitarian {215} congregations incurred the penalty of transportation. "If the civil magistrate," says Dr. Whately, "have no rightful jurisdiction whatever in religious concerns, it is quite as much an act of injustice, though of far less cruelty, to fine a Socinian, as to burn him." [Note 16] Nor, indeed, was burning absent; five men were burnt in Elizabeth's reign for denying the Holy Trinity, of whom the Protestant Bishop of Norwich burnt three. In the next reign, the Protestant Bishop of London burnt one, and the Protestant Bishop of Lichfield another. A third was sentenced, but the compassion of the people saved him. Catholics have fared even worse; they have not, indeed, been burned, but they have been tortured, hung, cut down alive, cut open alive, quartered, and boiled. Nay, it is only quite lately, that heavy penal inflictions have been taken off the daily acts of our religion. Many of us, my Brothers, as you know well, wear about us crosses, pictures, medals, beads, and the like, blessed by the Pope; they are still illegal; an Agnus Dei is still illegal. Nay, five years have not fully passed, since the bringing them into the kingdom, and the giving them away, and the receiving and wearing them was punishable, by outlawry, forfeiture of all goods and chattels to the Queen, and imprisonment for life. Yet British Law is the wonder of the world, and Rome is Antichrist!

Nor has this prohibition been at all times an empty menace, as it is today: time was, when it was followed out into its extreme consequences. The possession of an Agnus Dei was the foremost charge in the indictment brought against the first of our {216} Martyrs among the Missionary Priests in the reign of bloody Elizabeth. "As soon as the Sheriff came into the chamber," say the Acts of the martyrdom of Cuthbert Maine, "he took Mr. Maine by the bosom, and said to him, What art thou? he answered, I am a man. Whereat the Sheriff, being very hot, asked if he had a coat of mail under his doublet; and so unbuttoned it, and found an Agnus Dei case about his neck, which he took from him, and called him traitor and rebel, with many other opprobrious names." [Note 17] Maine was hanged, cut down alive, falling from a great height, and then quartered. He was the first-fruit of a sanguinary persecution, which lasted a hundred years. John Wilson, while they tore out his heart said, "I forgive the Queen, and all that are the cause of my death." Edward Campion was cruelly torn and rent upon the rack divers times. "Before he went to the rack, he used to fall down at the rack-house door, upon both knees, to commend himself to God's mercy; and upon the rack he called continually upon God, repeating often the holy name of Jesus. His keeper asked him the next day, how he felt his hands and feet, he answered, 'Not ill, because not at all.' He was hanged and embowelled at Tyburn." Ralph Sherwin came next; the hangman, taking hold of him with his bloody hands, which had been busy with the bowels of the martyred priest who preceded him, said to him, thinking to terrify him, "Come, Sherwin, take thou also thy wages." But the holy man, nothing dismayed, embraced him with a cheerful countenance, and reverently kissed the blood that stuck to his hands; at {217} which the people were much moved. He had been twice racked, and now he was dealt with as his brother before him. Thomas Sherwood, after six months' imprisonment in a dark and filthy hole, was hanged, cut down alive, dismembered, bowelled, and quartered. Alexander Brian had needles thrust under his nails, was torn upon the rack, hanged, and beheaded. George Haydock was suffered to hang but a very little while, when the Sheriff ordered the rope to be cut, and the whole butchery to be performed upon him while he was alive, and perfectly sensible. John Finch was dragged through the streets, his head beating all the way upon the stones; was then thrust into a dark and fetid dungeon, with no bed but the damp floor; was fed sparingly, and on nothing but oxen's liver. Here he was left first for weeks, then for months; till at length he was hanged, and his quarters sent to the four chief towns of Lancashire. Richard White, being cut down alive, pronounced the sacred name of Jesus twice, while the hangman had his hands in his bowels. James Claxton was first put into little ease, that is, a place, where he could neither stand, lie, nor sit; there he was for three days, fed on bread and water. Then he was put into the mill to grind; then he was hanged up by the hands, till the blood sprang forth at his fingers' ends: at length he was hanged, dying at the age of twenty-one years. These are the acts, these are the scenes, which Protestants, stopping their ears, and raising their voices, and casting dust into the air, will not let us inflict upon them. No, it is pleasanter to declaim against persecution, and to call the Inquisition a hell, than to consider their own devices, and {218} the work of their own hands. The catalogue reaches to some hundred names. One was killed in this manner in 1577, two in 1578, four in 1581, eleven in 1582, thirteen in 1583 and 1584, nineteen in 1585 and 1586, thirty-nine in 1587 and 1588, and so on at intervals to the end of the seventeenth century; besides the imprisonments and transportations, which can hardly be numbered. What will the Protestants bring against the Holy See comparable to atrocities such as these? not, surely, with any fairness, the burnings in Queen Mary's reign, the acts, as they were, of an English party, inflamed with revenge against their enemies, and opposed by Cardinal Pole, the Pope's Legate, as well as by the ecclesiastics of Spain.


My time is run out, Brothers of the Oratory, before my subject is exhausted. One remark I will make in conclusion. The horrors I have been describing are no anomaly in the history of Protestantism. Whatever theoretical differences it has had on the subject with the Catholic Religion, it has, in matter of fact, ever shown itself a persecuting power. It has persecuted in England, in Scotland, in Ireland, in Holland, in France, in Germany, in Geneva. Calvin burnt a Socinian, Cranmer an Anabaptist, Luther advised the wholesale murder of the fanatical peasants, and Knox was party to bloody enactments and bloody deeds. You would think that with scandals such as these at their door, Protestants would find it safest to let history alone, and not meddle with the question of persecution at all, from a lively consciousness of deeds identical with those {219} which they impute to the Catholic Church. Not a bit of it. What then is their view of the matter? Strange to say, they make it their plea of exculpation, and the actual difference between Catholics and them, that they condemn persecution on principle; in other words, they bring their own inconsistency as the excuse for their crime. Now I grant them, I am far from disputing it, that a man who holds a right principle, and occasionally, nay often, offends against it, is better than he who holds the opposite wrong principle, and acts consistently upon it; but that is not the present case. The case before us is that of persons who never once have acted on the principle they profess—never once; for they cannot produce their instance, when Protestants, of whatever denomination, were in possession of national power for any sufficient time, without persecuting some or other of their polemical antagonists. So it has been, so it is now. Three centuries ago Protestantism in England set off on its course with murdering Catholic priests; only a few months have passed since a clergyman of the Establishment gave out to his congregation that transportation was too good for us, and he thought we all ought to be put to death. So far from the Protestant party feeling any real shock at this avowal, a little while after, a second clergyman, as influential in Manchester as the first mentioned is in Liverpool, repeated the sentiment; and still no shock or sensation in the Protestant public was the result. Doubtless they gave their reasons for wishing it, sufficient in their own judgment, and so too did the Protestant Elizabeth, so too did Gardiner and the other advisers of the {220} Catholic Mary; but still such was the upshot of their reasons, death to every Catholic priest. The present case then is not of an individual, or a ruler, or a body politic laying down a good principle, and not being able at times and under circumstances, through passion or policy, to act up to it; no, it is the case of a religion saying one thing, and on every actual and possible occasion doing another. Can such a religion extenuate its acts on the ground of its professions? Yet this is the excuse, nay, this is the boast, the glory, of the Protestant party:—"We always do one thing, and we always say another; we always preach peace, but we always make war; we have the face of a lamb, and the claws of a dragon. And we have another boast; to be sure, we persecute, but then, as a set off, you see, we always denounce in others what we are in the practice of doing ourselves; this is our second great virtue. Observe, we, persecutors, protest against persecution,—virtue one; next, we, persecutors, blacken and curse the Papists for persecuting,—virtue two; and now for a third virtue—why, we are so superlatively one-sided, that we do not even see our own utter inconsistency in this matter, and we deny, that what is a stigma in their case is even a scandal in ours. We think that profession and denunciation make up a good Christian, and that we may persecute freely, if we do but largely quote Scripture against it."

And now I might leave Protestants to explain this matter if they can, and to unravel the mystery how it is that, after all their solemn words against persecution, they have persecuted, as I have shown, whenever, wherever, and however they could, from Elizabeth down to Victoria, from the domestic circle {221} up to the Legislature, from black looks to the extremity of the gibbet and the stake; I might leave them, but I am tempted to make them one parting suggestion. I observe, then, it is no accident that they unite in their history this abjuration with this practice of religious coercion; the two go together. I say it boldly and decidedly, and do not flinch from the avowal—Protestants attempt too much, and they end in doing nothing. They go too far; they attempt what is against nature, and therefore impossible. I am not proving this; it is a separate subject; it would require a treatise. I am only telling the Protestant world why it is they ever persecute, in spite of their professions. It is because their doctrine of private judgment, as they hold it, is extreme and unreal, and necessarily leads to excesses in the opposite direction. They are attempting to reverse nature, with no warrant for doing so; and nature has its ample revenge upon them. They altogether ignore a principle which the Creator has put into our breasts, the duty of maintaining the truth; and, in consequence, they deprive themselves of the opportunity of controlling, restraining and directing it. So was it with the actors in the first French Revolution: never were there such extravagant praises of the rights of reason; never so signal, so horrible a profanation of them. They cried, "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity," and then proceeded to massacre the priests, and to hurry the laity by thousands to the scaffold or the river-side.

Far other is the conduct of the Church. Not to put the matter on higher and doctrinal grounds, it is plain, if only to prevent the occurrence of injustice and cruelty, she must—to use a phrase of the day— {222} direct impulses, which it is impossible from the nature of man to destroy. And in the course of eighteen hundred years, though her children have been guilty of various excesses, though she herself is responsible for isolated acts of most solemn import, yet for one deed of severity with which she can be charged, there have been a hundred of her acts, repressive of the persecutor and protective of his victims. She has been a never-failing fount of humanity, equity, forbearance, and compassion, in consequence of her very recognition of natural ideas and instincts, which Protestants would vainly ignore and contradict: and this is the solution of the paradox stated by the distinguished author I just now quoted, to the effect that the Religion which forbids private judgment in matters of Revelation, is historically more tolerant than the Religions which uphold it. His words will bear repetition: "We find, in all parts of Europe, scaffolds prepared to punish crimes against religion; scenes which sadden the soul were everywhere witnessed. Rome is one exception to the rule; Rome, which it has been attempted to represent a monster of intolerance and cruelty. It is true, that the Popes have not preached, like the Protestants, universal toleration; but the facts show the difference between the Protestants and the Popes. The Popes armed with a tribunal of intolerance, have scarce spilt a drop of blood; Protestants and philosophers have shed it in torrents." [Note 18]

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1. Vide Tablet Newspaper, May 31, 1851.
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2. Whately on Romanism, p. 225.
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3. Charles the Second, ch. 67.
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4. Letters on the Church, p. 53. I am told (1872) the Archbishop never owned the authorship of this able volume.
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5. Vide Dublin Review for July, 1850, and "Authentic Brief Sketch of the Life of Dr. Giacinto Achilli." Richardsons.
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6. The paragraphs omitted are those which were decided by jury to constitute a libel, June 24, 1852. [For omitted text, see Life of Cardinal Newman, chapter 10, note 2.—NR]
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7. Dealings with the Inquisition, p. 2.
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8. Ibid. p. 27.
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9. Ibid. p. 46.
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10. Ibid. p. 75.
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11. Balmez' Protestantism, transl., p. 166.—I am rather surprised that this is stated so unrestrictedly, vide Life of St. Philip Neri, vol. i.; however, the fact is substantially as stated, even though there were some exceptions to the rule.
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12. Vide an able article in the Dublin Review, June, 1850,—which is my authority for this and other facts.
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13. Gieseler says that "the Popes at first tried to draw some advantage from the new Institution by selling [ecclesiastical] absolution for the crime of apostasy."—Vol. iii. p. 335. It is easy to throw out such insinuations as to objects and motives.
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14. Inquisition, pp. 5, 11.
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15. Ibid. p. 5.
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16. Letters on the Church, p. 42.
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17. Challoner's Missionary Priests.
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18. Since this Lecture has been in type, I have been shown De Maistre's Letters on the Inquisition, and am pleased to see that in some places I have followed so great a writer.
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Newman Reader — Works of John Henry Newman
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