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itself when not counteracted by any apparent interest, or strong persuasion : and in no slight part also to a sense of the obloquy which such things have brought upon the papal church, and to the secret and reluctant respect which is paid even in Rome itself to the opinion of protestant Europe: but this is felt more in Italy than in Spain, where the people live more, in a world of their own, and where there are still friars who would exult in renewing their burnt offerings as of old. Superstition has struck deep roots in Belgium also, and in catholic Germany; but there too unbelief exists in alliance with it.
SIR THOMAS MORE. The difference is sufficiently observable, that in protestant countries infidelity declares itself, and forms its societies, if not its factions ; whereas under a catholic establishment, it goes to mass, keeps a formal account with the confessor, takes its full sway in youth and middle age, and ends by applying to the priest for cordials and opiates at last.
MONTESINOS. France offers the only exception to this at present, because infidelity was a fashion there before the Revolution, and has since formed for itself a faction. But if Jesuitism keep the
ground which it has gained in that country, the higher rank of unbelievers will soon be in league with it, in outward appearance, and in policy. There is a root of bigotry in the Bourbon race which may bring forth bitter fruits.
SIR THOMAS MORE. One of the popes* calļed France the quiver from whence Christ would draw those chosen arrows which were to subdue the nations and kingdoms of the earth unto himself.
MONTESINOS. This is a prediction of which the Jesuits have not failed to remind the Bourbon kings. The princes of that blood may be libertines in youth, but they are bigots by inheritance, and cannot become otherwise without a sacrifice of family feeling, which it would require no ordinary sense of duty and strength of conviction to overcome. They are brought up to worship their ancestor St. Louis, to admire the triumph of the Romish faith in the conversion of Henri IV., and to believe that Louis le Grand performed a religious duty when he revoked the edict of Nantes, and carried on a persecution more
* Regnum Galliæ pharetra quam Christus circa femur sibi accinxit, ex quá sagittas electas extrahens emittit in arcu brachii potentis, ut sibi gentes subjiciat et regna.
P. Richeome quotes this from Pope Gregory IX..
odious in its nature, as well as more wicked in its commencement, than any of former times. But from the unhappy principles which are thus inculcated, there arises a sentiment of pride in supporting a system to which their family is, as it were, thus pledged; and where there is this feeling to combine with that ambitious policy which the kings of France must always entertain, till the wisdom which is not of this world shall prevail in the councils of princes, it may reasonably be apprehended that they will take the first opportunity of exciting and fomenting a religious rebellion in Ireland;.. a design in which the Court of Rome would co-operate with more sincerity, than actuated it in its transactions with James II.
SIR THOMAS MORE. It is to prevent this design, and render it impracticable by tranquillizing Ireland, that the admission of the Roman-Catholics to political power is advised by some of your statesmen. Is it the wisdom of their advice, or the sincerity that you doubt?
MONTESINOS. I deny the wisdom ; and in the greater part of those by whom the advice is supported, I doubt the sincerity. The persons who are thus labouring to effect “ that mischief which never foreign enemy could bring to pass,” may be classed and characterized in the words of Queen Elizabeth. There are “ first the broachers and workers thereof, who are in the greatest fault; secondly, the speakers, who by eloquent tales persuaded others, are in the next degree ; thirdly, the agreers, who were so light of belief, that the eloquence of the tales soon overcame them, and they gave more credit thereunto than unto their own wits.”...There, Sir Thomas, was a sovereign, whom you were worthy to have served, and in serving whom you would have found your heart's content! As her chancellor, had you been born forty years later, your head would have lain easily on its pillow, and sat safely on its shoulders.
SIR THOMAS MORE. And you, had you been her subject, would have celebrated her in pastoral and epic verse. Happily she had no want of statesmen, or of poets.
MONTESINOS. It was the glorious age of both. Augustus himself had no such poet to sing his praises, as the one who said that Elizabeth should be
A pattern to all princes living with her,
There are four days which ought to be religiously observed in these kingdoms as national holydays, for thanksgiving and joy: that on which Magna Charta was obtained, Queen Elizabeth's accession, that of the Restoration of the Monarchy, and that on which the Prince of Orange landed at Torbay.
SIR THOMAS MORE. Those days indeed have rendered England what it is, in civil and religious and intellectual freedom. But what days. would you appoint for the national holydays of Ireland ?
MONTESINOS. Alas, those are yet to come! But of the days that are past, there are two which should be marked with black in the Irish Kalendar,.. that on which the elective franchise was given to the Roman-Catholics, and that in which a Protestant Government gave its sanction and support to a seminary for the Romish Priesthood. I know not which was the insaner measure. The other evils with which that poor country has been so long afflicted, are not imputable to the English government, or at most only for its sufferance of them : but these are of its own creation.
SIR THOMAS MORE.