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a part of our faith and religion, occasioned by their errors.When the additions which the Church of Rome hath made to the ancient Christian faith, and their innovations in practice are pared off, that which remains of their religion is ours. Sermon 27. With such a concordance, then, between the two religions in essential points, it is rather too much to proscribe one of them, as so hostile to the other, as to be a sufficient cause for debarring all those who profess it, from the most valuable of those privileges, to which all British subjects are by their birthright entitled. There are many other countries the inhabitants of which are divided in their religious creeds, as they are in Ireland; but in none of these is this made a ground of civil disqualification. Is the Government of England less stable, or her rulers less enlightened, than those of these other nations? It is but the other day, we observe, that the King of Prussia has founded a new university at Bonn, where the Catholics are placed on an equal footing in every respect with the Protestants; and a long code of regulations enacted, to protect them from every species of molestation on account of their religion. What will Oxford, and Cambridge, and Dublin say to this?
The newest, however, and most fashionable charge against the Catholics is, that they are hostile to the progress of Education; and they are accused not only of hindering others from teaching their poor, but of studiously neglecting this duty themselves. Fifty years ago there might have been some ground for this imputation; but it is utterly groundless at present; and we are happy to have it in our power to lay before our readers the most ample and conclusive proofs of its falsehood.
Most of them, indeed, may recollect, that an advertisement appeared repeatedly in all the London papers, in the course of last year, soliciting subscriptions for a new Institution for the Education of the Irish Poor of all Persuasions; to which were subjoined, the signed recommendations of three of the Catholic Archbishops of that kingdom, and of the Earl of Fingal; and we are enabled to say, on the authority of a gentleman who lately visited the school in Dublin, that no similar institution is conducted in a better manner. The same gentleman conversed with a titular Archbishop concerning this plan of Catholic education, and learnt from him, that the only impediment in the way of establishing similar schools, in all parts of Ireland, was the difficulty of obtaining money to provide school-houses. Teachers of the best description were to be had in sufficient numbers, without any expense, from an association of young men, of independent means, who devoted themselves to public teaching.
The following extracts, however, from the 11th Report of the Hibernian Society for 1817, throw an invaluable light upon this interesting subject. They are taken from Letters written by or to the Inspectors of the Society, on the spot; and as they contain a good deal of valuable information, in the most authentic shape, we shall make no apology for giving them in some abundance. At page 9, we read,
In the parish of A, the Catholic rector favoured the school, while the curate opposed it: the latter denounced the school from the altar, and prohibited the parents from sending their children thi ther for instruction. The rector was absent when this took place: But having been informed of all that occurred, he took an early op portunity from the altar of speaking very highly of the Society; he recommended it as the greatest blessing to the poor; exhorted his people not to lose the oppor unity offered for the education of their children; and observed, that he had examined the books used in the school. and had found they were not only free from error, but were the best he had ever met with. '--P. 35. Letter from the Rev. T. C. parish priest, October 19, 1816. You highly honour me by inserting my name as one of the visitors to the schools of the Hibernian Society. I shall do all in my power to promote the education of youth in its vicinity, in concert with that laudable Institution.-P. 36. Letter from the Rev. J—— F, parish priest, March 17, 1817. I have ever felt anxious for the instruction of the poor of every description, but especially of those of my own communion, whenever that object could be obtained, without compromising their faith; and as I could discover no tendency in your schools in the parish of Ccontrary to either faith or morals, if I did not give them my public sanction, at least I gave them no opposition. I did, and still do propose to visit them occasionally.'-Letter from an Inspector. Priest M'G. who had been our inveterate enemy, forbidding his parishioners to send their children to our schools, is now our cordial friend, and has made application for a free school to be established in his chapel. Priest M'N. also, who formerly persecuted the schools, now favours them. In an adjoining parish, Priest B― assured the people, that the institution of the schools was the best thing that had ever been done for Ireland for the benefit of the poor. He also recommended the reading of the Scriptures. By these means the prejudices of the people have been considerably removed, and the schools are now crowded with pupils. '-P. 38. ‘ Their priest M'G— favours the institution, and orders them to send their children to the schools.' -P. 40. The priest behaved friendly, and said he wished much for the prosperity of the schools. After the priest left us, D told me, that had it not been for his kind offices, he should not have been able to establish a school there.'-P. 41. The Priest G- prayed sincerely for the prosperity of the schools, though he confessed that in the beginning he was a great enemy to them.'
We shall make no apology for adding some further extracts from the 12th Report of the Hibernian Society for 1818; because we are quite sure that no information can be more really useful and interesting, than these plain statements of what is actually going on amongst the Catholic Clergy and their flocks, concerning education.
P. 27. I know not whether I have mentioned the establishment of a very extensive school in the parish chapel belonging to Priest O-1, the first enemy the schools had to contend with. Around the altar, from which so many anathemas were hurled against the Scriptures and all who should read them, are now assembled in peace the children of his then terrified and appalled hearers.-P. 41. The priests have been consulted, and cheerfully allow the children under their inspection to use the Testament, and commit it to memory.'P. 43. Letter from the Rev. R. H. parish priest, July 17, 1817. Would to God that all Christians, of whatever denomination, would zealously unite to rescue the poor from ignorance, and diffuse amongst them the light of the Gospel! I understand that some clergymen of my persuasion do not approve of the method offered by the Society for the instruction of the poor Irish, under the apprehension, I sup-> pose, of their gaining proselytes to the Protestant religion. I entertain no suspicion of that tendency, but judge very favourably of their laudable design; and, consequently, shall always feel happy in contributing my mite towards the edification of my poor parishioners. '— P. 44. Letter from the Rev. P. I. parish priest, October 20, 1817. 'I should consider myself guilty of a sin of the blackest die, was 1 not to inform you of every iota which could have the least tendency to injure so laudable an institution.'--P. 45. Priest M'N. who had been a great enemy to our schools, made application, a few days ago, for one to be established in his parish.-P. 57. The priests, who were our greatest enemies in this country, are at present recommending what they formerly prohibited.-P. 62. On Good Friday last, a conference was held in the town of G-, at which 33 priests were present, as also the Bishop. The different priests who did not like the institution, requested the Bishop to give orders to suppress our schools. Priest H opposed their proceedings, quoting from Scripture the inconsistency of such as would resist the truth, or prevent the education of the poor who were in ignorance; which had such an effect on the Bishop, that he said, "You may do what you please in your different parishes about this matter; but for me, I heartily coincide with Mr H."-P. 72. My school goes on well; and although the Catholic priest has a free school in opposition to me, several Catholic children have come to my school from it. ’— P. 36. Priest B., a man who, for avowed hostility to the schools, cannot be exceeded, set up a free school here.'-P. 41. A priest newly come from M is using all his might to put down Mr G's school; and, for this purpose, is taxing the people to keep a school in G――
We need not proceed, we believe, with these citations. It is impossible, after reading what we have already transcribed, to doubt either that a great proportion of the priests now approve of the poorer Catholics sending their children to free schools; or that those who continue to interdict that practice, have been stimulated to the erection of other schools for their instruction.
Of all the miserable effects produced by the present system of Catholic oppression, none is more conspicuously mischievous, than the fatal obstruction it creates to the due administration of the laws, for the preservation of the public peace. The lawless habits of the people, in the ordinary and best state of the interior, and all the occasional disturbances of a more serious character, are to be traced to the system of law which has divided the inhabitants of Ireland into a Protestant Ogliarchy, administering in detail the government of the country over a Catholic multitude:-the one armed with all sorts of arbitrary powers; the other excluded from the Constitution, and subjected to every species of penalties. Of the actual state of an Irish county, the following may be taken as a pretty correct representation-A population of 100,000 souls inhabiting about 250,000 acres; the whole divided into large estates by grants, not very ancient, of the old Catholic lands, from the Crown to the Protestant followers of English armies; nearly all the proprietors of those which exceed 4000l. a year, absentees; the other proprietors, few in number, with the richer class of Protestant tenants, having their incomes from leases for lives renewable for ever, forming the resident Magistracy; the actual occupiers of the soil a multitude of small Catholic farmers, holding each from four to 100 acres of land; and a crowd of Catholic peasantry, all of whom also hold land, and live in cabins scattered over the face of the country. As the poorer Catholics have never known the law but as an enemy, they regard it with a natural hostility; and there exists, throughout all Ireland, an indigenous combination to evade, to violate, and to resist it. The most flagrant outrages occur in every part of the country, and are allowed to pass unpunished, from the difficulty of obtaining information, of making arrests, and of procuring evidence. Trees are cut down and carried away, of such size as to require many men and horses to perform the work; yet no one can be got to name the parties. Cattle are stolen and driven through a populous country; potatoes are dug and carried off in the night; hay stacks robbed; lands grazed; cows milked in the fields, and every species of small theft committed;-concerning all of which deeds, and their perpetrators, the whole Catholic population know every thing, and the Protestant magistrates and suf
ferers can learn nothing. It has frequently happened, during the late bad years, that when a tenant has expected to be distrained for his rent, he has collected lis neighbours, and carried off the whole produce of his farmn in the course of a night, and divided the custody of it in such a manner as to deprive the landlord of his remedy, and yet have it faithfully preserved for his own advantage. It is a sort of standing rule among the country people, to do every species of injury to those who interfere with the old occupier of a farm when it is out of lease, or possession of it recovered by ejectment-though he may have robbed his landlord, and be the most worthless character in every other respect; and all this without any one running much risk of being brought to punishment. It is almost useless to attempt to recover rent by distraining cattle, because, in 99 cases out of 100, a rescue is sure to be effected; and this not always by the party interested, but by the voluntary interposition of the lower: orders to afford protection against the laws. Warrants can rarely be executed without great danger to the officers, who are continually obliged to have a military force with them to take possession of the smallest tenements. Whenever a Magistrate endeavours to enforce the laws, and succeeds in bringing offenders to justice, he becomes exposed to every species of revengeful retaliation; his property is injured, and his life is often. sacrificed to a conscientious discharge of his duty, Witnesses, whenever their evidence goes to the taking away of the life of an offender, can rarely escape death themselves, except by quitting their own country. In short, the people, by their univer sal combination against the administration of the laws, and their general system of intimidation, have virtually banished all law, and left society to work its way in a manner unprecedented in any civilized community. The influence of the Priest is often sufficient to maintain some degree of order; but that which regulates, for the most part, the conduct of one man towards another, is a sort of compromise or truce, which takes place between the higher and lower orders. The former, in a manner, bribes the latter to abstain from injuring him by many little acts of kindness, and more of forgiveness for small offences; while the latter, on the whole, finds it his advantage to keep tolerably well with them who have power to destroy him. Neither con fidence in the power of laws, on one side, nor apprehension of punishment, on the other, enters much into the considerations which govern the conduct of these two great parties.
These things, utterly without precedent in the history of any other nation in the same state of society, must have causes; and
VOL. XXXI. NO. 61.