Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

sense of protestantism, even during its most rigid, and most flourishing periods, had always the moderation to be convinced of this. For, during those periods, that is, during the reigns of the Sixth Edward; of Elizabeth; of James; of Charles the First ; and until the close of that of Charles the Second, the Ca. tholics, just equally with the Protestants, were admissible, and even constantly admitted, into all the civil offices of the state. They were, then, its legislators ; its magistrates ; its ministers ; its embassadors; the commanders of its fleets, and armies. In short, every office, honor, and dignity, were still open to them. And if, at the close of the Second Charles's reign, they were stripped of these prerogatives,--they were stripped of them, every reader knows, in consequence of a deed of injustice, one of the blackest, and most disgraceful, that ever stained the British annals.

“ It would be well, if, when men contend, that our constitution is necessarily protestant; and that, therefore, protestants alone are entitled to enjoy its benefits--it would be well, if, when they assert this, they would also define what it is, that they mean by the word,Protestant; or, what is the proper signification of this term. In its ordinary acceptation, it designed of course, to bear some reference or other to religion. And does it, then, mean,--as it, certainly, ought, in consistency, to do, when it is used by the members of the esta blished church,—does it mean, that, in order to enjoy the privileges of the state, men should be, all, members of the protestant religion, as it is, by law, established ? When it is said, that the constitution is Protestant, is the meaning of the assertion this,-that, therefore, the king, and his ministers; the members of the legislature, and of the government, are, or ought to be, all of them, the believers in the thirty-nine articles; or the professors of the doctrines of the Church of England ? Is such the import of the term ? No; it is not :-because we may remark it constantly, the state, for ever, admits into its cabinet, and its councils, into its parliaments, and its various offices, men of very different, and even opposite, religion's -Calvinists, Presbyterians, Metliodists, &c. ; nay, men, sometimes, (for we have seen this, too,) of no religion,-Socinians, Unitarians, Deists, and unbelievers. Therefore, the consequence is, that the constitution is not Protestant, in this senise, that men are bound,-in order to enjoy the privileges of the state,-

,--to'profess the religion of the state. • Does the term relate to any other peculiar system of protestantism, professed by any of the various churches of the Reformation ? No; it does not. It relates to none of them. It is a vague, indefinite word. The Calvinist is a Protestant ;, the Methodist, a Protestant; the Quaker, a Protestant ; nay, even the Socinian, the Deist, and the Atheist himself, are as really Protestants, as are the members of the Church of England. For, what constitutes protestanism, is the miere act of protestation against the doctrines of the Church of Rome. Thus, by the laws of this country, the sole criterion, that a man is a Protestant : -and the circumsiance which lays open to him all the honors, or offices, of the State, is the act of declaring against certain Catholic doctrines ;--transubstantiation, the veneration of the saints, the supremacy of the Pope, &c.—So that, thus, the most profane unbeliever, if he only make these dcclarations, is, in the eyes of the law, exactly as much a Protestant, as is the member of the Church of England.

“ The signification of the term • Protestant' being analysed in this manner,-it follows that it is absolutely a word, without any fixed signification; or at least, that its signification, if any, is simply this —" Not Catholic.” It is precisely what

we call, in logic nomen infinitum ;*--such, for example, as non homo,t which may be nothing; or every thing; or any thing, that you please,-provided it be

not a man.' So that the proper sense of the term 'Protestunt,' as it is aplied to religion, is merely this,—That the religion of the kingdom ; of the throne; of the government ; of the parliament; nay, of the established church itself,may be nothing ; or every thing; or any thing, that you please,-provided it be not Catholic. And is it thus,--is it by a term so vague as this, that men should pretend to define the character of the British constitution ? and under the plea, too, of such definition, exclude a large portion of deserving subjects, from almost every prerogative of their birth-right ?”

Judging, even, from these extracts, perhaps, our readers will agree with us in opinion, that the Ca:holic public will feel themselves highly indebted to Dr. Fletcher, for the publication of this valuable little tract, at this crisis, in the history of the Catholic Question. We could wish, however, that he had, by way of appendix, republished with it, the “Essay on Toleration; or, Plea for Liberty of Conscience,” by the Rey. A. O'Leary. What has the English Catholic Board been doing for so many years, that it has entirely neglected this, in our judgment, most efficacious of all methods for accomplishing its, objects ?. viz. the general diffusion of a . pamphlet eminently calculated to make a strong impression on Protestant minds, in favour of their unjustly persecuted Catholic brethren, by the liberality of the sentiments which it breathes ; “ and to inspire all men, with christiani peace, forbearance and charity."

The Relation of the Lady Southwell, an eye-witness of

the late Queen Elizabeth's Sickness and Death. MS. 1st April, 1607.

Her Majesty being in very good health, one day Sir John Stanup, being the vice chamberlain, and secretary Cecil's dependent and familiar, came and presented her majesty with a piece of gold, of the bigness of an angel, full of characters, which he said an old woman in Wales bequeathed her on her death-bed; whereupon he discoursed, how the said old woman, by virtue of the same, lived to the age of 120 years, and being in that age, having all her body withered and consumed, and wanting nature to nourish, she died, commauding the said piece of gold to be carefully sent her majesty; alleging further, that as long as the said old woman wore it upon her body, she could not die.

* An undefined term.

+ Not a man,

The queen, upon the confidence she had hereof, took the said gold, and wore it about her neck. Now, though she felt not suddenly sick, it daily decreased of her rest and feeding, and within 15 days fell downright sick; and the cause being wondered at by my lady Scrope, with whom she was very private and confident, being her near kinswoman, her majesty told her, commanding her to conceal the same; said, she sair one night in her bed, her body exceeding lean and fearful, in a light of fire, for the which, the next day, she desired to see a new looking-glass, which....before she had not seen, but only such a one which of purpose was made to deceive her sight: which glass being brought her, she fell, presently exclaiming at all those which had so much commended her; and took it so offensively, that all those which had before flattered her, durst not come in her sight. Now, falling into extremity, she sat two days and three nights upon her stool, ready dressed; and could never be brought by any of the councił to go to bed, or eat or drink; only my lord admiral one time persuaded her to drink some broth: for any of the rest, she would not answer them to any question : but said softly to my lord admiral's earnest persuasions, that if he knew what she had seen in her bed, he would not persuade her as he did. And secretary Cecil, overhearing her, asked if her majesty had seen any spirits : to which she said, she scorned to answer himsto so idle a question : then he told her how to content the people, her majesty must go to bed : at which she smiled wonderfully, contemning him, saying, that the word must was not to be used to princes, thereupon said, Little man, little man, if your father had lived, he durst not have said so much; but thou knowest I must die, and that maketh thee so presumptuous. And presently commanding him and the rest to depart her chamber, willing my lord admiral to stay; to whom she shook her head, and with a pitiful voice said, “ My lord, I am tied with a chain of iron about my neck :” he alleging her wonted courage to her, she replied, “ I am tied, and the case is altered with me.”

Then

two ladies waiting on her in her chamber, discovered in the bottom of her chair the queen of hearts with a nail of iron knockt through the forehead of it, the which the ladies durst not pull out, remembering that the like thing was 'used to the old lady of Sussex, and proved afterwards for a witchcraft, for the which certain were hanged as instruments of the same. The lady Elizabeth Gilford then waiting on the queen, and leaving her asleep in her privy chambers, met her, as she thought, three or four chambers off. Fearing she would have been displeased that she left her alone, came towards her to excuse herself, and she vanished away; and when she returned into the same chamber where she left, found her asleep as before. So, growing past recovery, having kept her bed fifteen days, besides three days she sat upon the stool, on one day being pulled up by force, stood on her feet fifteen hours. The council sent to her the bishop of Canterbury and other of the prelates, upon the sight of whom she was much offended, cholerickly rating them, bidding them be packing, saying she was no Atheist, but knew full well that they were....hedge-priests, and took it for an indignity, that they should speak to her now, being given over by all, and at the last gasp: keeping still her sense in every thing, and giving even, when she spake, apt answers. Though she spoke very seldom, having then a sore throat, she desired to wash it, that she might answer more freely to what the council demanded, which was to know wbom she would have king ; but they seeing her throat troubled her so much, desired her to hold up her finger, when they named whom liked her. Whereupon they named the king of France, the king of Scotland, at which she never stirred.

They named

my

lord Bearne, whereto she said, "I will have no rascals sit in my seat, but the one worthy to be a king. Hereupon instantly she died. Then the council went forth and reported, she meant the king of Scots : 'whereupon they went to London to proclaim him, leaving her body with charge not to be opened, such being her desire. But Cecil having given a secret warrant to the surgeons, they opened her, which the rest of the council afterwards passed it over, though they meant it not so. Now the body being screwed up, was brought to Whitehall, where, being watched every night by six several ladies, myself that night

[ocr errors]

then watching as one of them, being all about the body which was fast nailed up in a board coffin with leaves of lead covered with velvet, her body and head brake with such a crack, that splitted the wood, lead, and searcloth. Whereupon the next day she was fain to be new taken up; whereupon they gave their verdicts, that if she had not been opened, the decay of the body would have been much worse; but no man durst speak it publicly for displeasing secretary Cecil. Her majesty understood that secretary Cecil had given forth to the people, that she was mad, and therefore in her sickness did many times say to him, ' Cecil, know, I am not mad. You must not think to make queen Jane of me. And although many reports by Cecil's means were spread as how she was distracted, myself, no more than were about her, could ever perceive her speeches, so well apted proceeded from a distracted mind."

F. Parsons, in his book about the queen's death, having said, " and the like to Nabuchodonosor, I doubt not, may be said of queen Elizabeth's felicity against Catholics, if we knew all that iņ the last day of judgment will appear, and whereof her lamentable end may give great presage to them that are wise, For that a woman of so long and large a life as her's was, to pass hence to eternity with so small a sense or feeling of God, as never so much as to name him, nor to suffer others to bring in any speech thereof as they attempted to do, is so pitiful an end as can lightly fallto a Christian soul. The story of which upshot of hers I have read, written by a person of much credit, that was present at all her last sickness, combats, and death, and related all that passed as an eye-witness, which I pass over for brevity and modesty's sake; but it will remain to posterity as a dreadful pattern of a miserable end, after a life of so much jollity." Dr. Barlow replied as follows. « Queen Elizabeth lived and died a true Christian : if at the first assault of her sickness she was silent and solitary, physic will ascribe it to the nature of melancholy diseases, whose symptoms are amongst some other) taciturnitas et solitudo. And as reason would interpret, that, as she in peremptorily refusing her bed, did shew her princely resolution,* Stantem mori; so christian charity would infer,

* The following notes are by F. Parsons. The queen's sickness lasted nearly three weeks : she kept her bed some days before she died.

« НазадПродовжити »