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such conversions, in consequence of their own free exanimation of the grounds of the differences between the do&rines of the two religions and their subsequent conviation of the errors of the Romish do&rines ;-all hopes of that kind were counter-acted, and almost destroyed, by the unfortunate measure, adopted in the year 1766, of permitting Mr. John Oliver Briand to return to Quebeck in the character of Bishop of the Pro vince. For, by the power of suspending priests from the exercise of their clerical functions, and depriving them of their benefices, and interdi&ting the performance of divine worship in whole parishes, which he claimed and exercised on various occasions, he kept the clergy in such a fate of terror and subje&tion to him, that no priest would ever venture to express any doubts concerning the do&rines of the Church of Rome, or take the smallest step towards an adoption of the doctrines of the Church of England. Two remarkable instances of his exercise of these dangerous episcopal powers in the Province of Quebeck, exbibit so clearly the imprudence of the measure of permitting him to return into the Province in the character of its Bishop, that, though they have already been published in the year 1776, in the second volume of my Quebeck-papers, I will here Teprint them. They are a translation from an extract from a letter written in French by a Roman-Catholick gentleman in the Province of Quebeck to a friend in London in September, 1775.
A Translation A Translation of two anecdotes concerning
the conduct of John OLIVER BRIAND, the Popish Bishop of Quebeck; extracted from a Letter written by a person of credit in the Province of Quebeck to his friend at London about the end of September, 1775.
Seven years ago Monsieur Vincelot, the Seignior of IDette, at the requisition of the bishop of Quebeck in his visitation of the parishes of his diocese, gave a piece of ground, eigh: French arpents square, for the inhabitants of that parish to build a church upon. And he himself built upon it, at his own expence, an uncommonly spacious parsonage-house, in which the people of the pärifh might meet to hear mass during the time thechurch would take-upin building. And in this house the priest of the parish lived. At the end of two years Monsieur Briand, the bishop, at the request of the inhabitants of the higher part of the parish, appointed another place for the fituation of the church which the inhabitants of it were to build: and the inhabitants accordingly begun to build the church in this latter place; and in the course of three years (they proceeding but slowly in the work) made it fit for the performance of divine service. When the building of the church was compleated, Mr. Vincelot resumed the poffeffion of the former spot of ground and of the parsonage-house which he had built upon it; grounding his right to make this resumption upon the non-performance of the condition upon which alone he had given this ground to the parish, which was "that they should erect a church upon it.” This proceeding gave offence to the bishop, who immediately lent orders to the Curate of the parish to inform Mr. Vincelot, that what he had once given to the church, he could never after resume; and that he, the bishop, therefore required him immediately to restore the piece of ground in question to the Curate of the parish ; and that, if he refused to do so, hc, the bishop, would immediately excommunicate him and all his family. This threat was disregarded by Mr. Vincelot; and he continued to keep possession of the piece of ground. Upon this the Prelate flew into a rage, and immediately commanded the fame Curate of the parish to acquaint Mr. Vincelot that he had excommunicated him, and had extended the excommuni, cation to his wife also, if she joined with him in his refusal to restore the land. Upon this Mr. Vincelot brought the matter before one of the courts of Justice, and there openly reproached the bishop with his palfonate and violent behaviour, and his inordinate ambition and desire of making himself an absolute ruler in the province, and declared bim to be nothing less than a disturber of the publick peace. The Judges observed a profound filence while Mr. Vincelot was speaking, and then decided, that, as the conditions upon which Mr. Vincelot had made the donation of that piece of land to the parish, had not been observed, the land mult revert to Mr. Vincelot. This affair happened in the month of May, 1774, and was the occasion of the bishop's relaxing very much from the haughtiness and severity with which he had before treated Mr. Yincelot
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Another and a much stronger instance of this bishop's violence of temper happened about four months after
the former. A man that lived in the parish of St. John, of which Monsieur Gaspé is the Scignior, want. ed to marry a woman who was his cousin, though in a pretty distant degree. In order to this he applied to the bishop for a dispensation to enable him to do so. As Mr. Briand is rather fond of money, he required of this poor man, for the dispensation he wanted, a sum of money which was greater than the whole value of the land he held in the parish. This threw the poor man man into despairs and he went to the protestant minister of Quebeck, and desired him to marry him. But the minister refused to do so, and informed him of the reasons which induced him to make this refusal. Upon this the man resolves to take a new course of his own contriving. He invites his relations and friends to his house, and gives them a feast; and, before they fit-dowa lo table, he produces his intended bride; and, in the presence of the girl's father and of all the company there assembled, the two parties declare their consent to take cach other for man and wife. Now this proceeding was undoubtedly blameable ; and the man was liable to be punished for it. But the punisment of the guilty parties was not sufficient to satisfy the bishop's vengeance. Besides the man and the woman who had been thus married, he excommunicated all the company who had been present on the occasion, and all the inhabitants of the parish without exception ; so that Monsieur Gaspé, the Seignior of the parish, and his Wife, who live at the diftance of four miles and a half from the place where this offence was committed, were involved in this excommunication. The Curate of Ilette, who does the duty of the parish of St. John, was fent thither by the bishop to carry this sentence of excommunication into execution. He accordingly comes to the parish church, and extinguishes the lamp of the principal altar, throws-down the wax-tapers upon the ground, orders the bell to ring, burns the consecrated bread, and carries-away the box that contained it, the calice, and the fun, and reads the sentence of excommunication, and declares that it is to continue in force fu long as the parish shall harbour within it those two rebels to the authority of the church. Alarmed at this terrible threat, the inhabitants of this unfortunate parish depute their church-wardens to the bishop to implore his mercy. The church - wardens repair to Quebeck, and on their knees intreat the bishop to takeoff the excommunication. But they could make no impression on bim. On the contrary he behaved to them with the greatest rudeness and contempt, saying, “ No! I will by no means take-off this excommunication. I will teach you to dread the power of a bishop: and the rell of the province will, in consequence of your example, become more obedient to the church. I therefore command you to drive those two wretches from among you: and, if you obey Ibis command, I will then confider wbat it may be proper for me to do with respect to the excommunication." The poor church-wardens, still on their knees, fill into tears at those harsh words, and faid in answer to them, " that, as those persons were upon their own land, they, the other parishioners, bad no authority to drive them out of the parish, as his Lord/bip now required Ibem to do : but that this could only be done by ibe Judges.” Get you gone, you blackguards, get out of the room this moment;” replied the bishop, and at the same time opened them the door. Upon this they rose from their kneeling posture, to go out of the room. But one of then, growing bolder than the reft, fared behind in the room for a mort