Isaac Disraeli.

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to paint forth on returning to his fireside. The protestants
were then the mart3rrs, because, under Mary, the protestants
had been thrown out of power.

Dodd has opposed to Fox three curious folios, which he
calls " The Church History of England," exhibiting a most
abundant martyrology of the catholics, inflicted by the hands
of the protestants ; who in the succeeding reign of Elizabeth,
after long trepidations and balancings, were confirmed into
power. He grieves over the delusion and seduction of the
black-letter romance of honest John Fox, which he says,
" has obtained a place in protestant churches next to the
Bible, while John Fox himself is esteemed little less than an
evangelist." Dodd's narratives are not less pathetic : for the
situation of the catholic, who had to secrete himself, as well

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as to suffer, was more adapted for romantic adventures, than
even the melancholy but monotonous story of the protestants
tortured in the cell, or bound to the stake. These catholics,
however, were attempting all sorts of intrigues; and the
saints and martyrs of Dodd, to the parliament of England,
were only traitors and conspirators !

Heylin, in his history of the Puritans and the Preshy-
terians, blackens them for political devils. He is the Spag-
nolet of history, delighting himself with horrors at which the
painter himself must have started. He tells of their " oppo-
sitions" to monarchical and episcopal government; their
"innovations" in the church; and their "embroilments"
of the kingdoms. The sword rages in their hands ; treason,
sacrilege, plunder ; while " more of the blood of Englishmen
had poured like water within the space of four years, than
had been shed in the civil wars of York and Lancaster, in
four centuries ! "

Neal opposes a more elaborate history ; where these " great
and good men," the puritans and the presbyterians, "are
placed among the reformers ; " while their fame is blanched
into angelic purity. Neal and his party opined that the
protestant had not sufficiently protested, and that the refor-
mation itself needed to be reformed. They wearied the im-
patient Elizabeth, and her ardent churchmen ; and disputed
with the learned James, and his courtly bishops, about such
ceremonial trifles, that the historian may blush or smile who
has to record them. And when the puritan was thrown out
of preferment, and seceded into separation, he turned into a
presbyter. Nonconformity was their darling sin, and their
sullen triumph.

Calamy, in four painful volumes, chronicles the bloodless
martyrology of the two thousand silenced and ejected min-
isters. Their history is not glorious, and their heroes are
obscure ; but it is a domestic tale ! When the second Charles
was restored, the presbyterians, like every other faction, were
to be amused, if not courted. Some of the king's chaplains

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were selected from among them, and preached once. Their
hopes were raised that they should, by some agreement, be
enabled to share in that ecclesiastical establishment which
they had so often opposed ; and the bishops met the pres-
byters in a convocation at the Savoy. A conference was
held between the high church, resuming the seat of power,
and the low church, now prostrate ; that is, between the old
clergy who had recently been mercilessly ejected by the neWy
who in their turn were awaiting their fate. The conference
was closed with arguments by the weaker, and votes by the
stronger. Many curious anecdotes of this conference have
come down to us. The presbyterians, in their last struggle,
petitioned for indulgence; but oppressors who had become
petitioners, only showed that they possessed no longer the
means of resistance. This conference was followed up by
the Act of Uniformity, which took place on Bartholomew
day, August 24, 1662: an act which ejected Calamy's two
thousand ministers from the bosom of the established church.
Bartholomew day with this party was long paralleled, and
perhaps is still, with the dreadful French massacre of that
fatal saint's day. The calamity was rather, however, of a
private than of a public nature. The two thousand ejected
ministers were indeed deprived of their livings ; but this
was, however, a happier fate than what has often occurred in
these contests for the security of political power. This
ejection was not like the expulsion of the Moriscoes, the
best and most useful subjects of Spain, which was a human
sacrifice of half a million of men, and the proscription of
many Jews from that land of Catholicism ; or the massacre
of thousands of Huguenots, and the expulsion of more than
a hundred thousand, by Louis the Fourteenth from France.
The presbyterian divines were not driven from their father-
land, and compelled to learn another language than their
mother-tongue. Destitute as divines, they were suffered to
remain as citizens ; and the result was remarkable. These
divines could not disrobe themselves of their learning and

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their piety, while several of them were compelled to become
tradesmen: among these the learned Samuel Chandler,
whose literary productions are numerous, kept a bookseller's
shop in the Poultry.

Hard as this event proved in its result, it was, however,
pleaded, that " It was but like for like." And that the his-
tory of " the like " might not be curtailed in the telling, op-
posed to Calamy's chronicle of the two thousand ejected
ministers stands another, in folio magnitude, of the same sort
of chronicle of the clergy of the church of England, with a
title by no means less pathetic.

This is Walker's "Attempt towards recovering an account
of the Clergy of the Church of England who were seques-
tered, harassed, &c., in the late Times.'* Walker is himself
astonished at the size of his volume, the number of his suffer-
ers, and the variety of the sufferings. " Shall the church,"
says he, " not have the liberty to preserve the history of her
sufferings, as well as the separation to set forth an account
of theirs ? Can Dr. Calamy be acquitted for publishing the
history of the Bartholomew sufferers, if I am condemned for
writing that of the sequestered loyalists f " He allows that
" the number of the ejected amounts to two thousand," and
there were no less than " seven or eight thousand of the
episcopal clergy imprisoned, banished, and sent a starving,"
&c., &c.

Whether the reformed were martyred by the catholics, or
the catholics executed by the reformed ; whether the puritans
expelled those of the established church, or the established
church ejected the puritans, all seems reducible to two
classes, conformists and non-conformists, or, in the political
style, the administration and the opposition. When we dis-
cover that the heads of all parties are of the same hot tem-
perament, and observe the same evil conduct in similar situa-
tions ; when we view honest old Latimer with his own hands
hanging a mendicant friar on a tree, and, the government
changing, the friars binding Latimer to the stake ; when we

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see the French catholics cutting out the tongues of the prot-
estants, that they might no longer protest ; the haughty Lu-
ther writing submissive apologies to Leo the Tenth and
Henry the Eighth for the scurrility with which he had
treated them in his writings, and finding that his apologies
were received with contempt, then retracting his retracta-
tions ; when we find that haughtiest of the haughty, John
Knox, when Elizabeth first ascended the throne, crouching
and repenting of having written his famous excommunication
against all female sovereignty ; or pulling down the monaste-
ries, from the axiom that when the rookery was destroyed,
the rooks would never return ; when we find his recent apol-
ogist admiring, while he apologizes for, some extraordinary
proofs of Machiavelian politics, an impenetrable mystery
seems to hang over the conduct of men who profess to be
guided by the bloodless code of Jesus — ^but try them by a
human standard, and treat them as politicians ; and the mo-
tives once discovered, the actions are understood !

Two edicts of Charles the Fifth, in 1555, condemned to
death the Reformed of the Low Countries, even should they
return to the catholic faith, with this exception, however, in
favour of the latter, that they shall not be burnt alive, but
that the men shall be beheaded, and the women buried
ahvel Religion could not then be the real motive of the
Spanish cabinet, for in returning to the ancient faith that
point was obtained ; but the truth is, that the Spanish gov-
ernment considered the reformed as rebels^ whom it was not
safe to readmit to the rights of citizenship. The undisguised
fact appears in the codicil to the will of the emperor, when
he solemnly declares that he had written to the Inquisition
" to burn and extirpate the heretics," after trying to make
Christians of them, because he is convinced that they never
can become sincere catholics ; and he acknowledges that he
had committed a great fault in permitting Luther to return
free on the faith of his safe-conduct, as the emperor was not
bound to keep a promise with a heretic. " It is because that

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I destroyed him not, that heresy has now become strong,
which I am convinced might have been stifled with him in
its birth." * The whole conduct of Charles the Fifth in this
mighty revolution, was, from its beginning, censured by con-
temporaries as purely political. Francis the First observed,
that the emperor, under the colour of religion, was placing
himself at the head of a league to make his way to a pre-
dominant monarchy. " The pretext of religion is no new
thing," writes the Duke of Nevers. " Charles the Fifth had
never undertaken a war against the protestant princes, but
with the design of rendering the imperial crown hereditary
in the house of Austria ; and he has only attacked the elec-
toral princes to ruin them, and to abolish their right of elec-
tion. Had it been zeal for the catholic religion, would he
have delayed from 1519 to 1549 to arm, that he might have
extinguished the Lutheran heresy, which he could easily
have done in 1526 ? But he considered that this novelty
would serve to divide the German princes, and he patiently
waited till the effect was realized." t

Good men of both parties, mistaking the nature of these
religious wars, have drawn horrid inferences ! The " dragon-
nades " of Louis XIV. excited the admiration of Bruyere ;
and Anquetil, in his " Esprit de la Ligue," compares the
revocation of the edict of Nantes to a salutary amputation.
The massacre of St. Bartholomew in its own day, and even
recently, has found advocates ; a Greek professor at the time
asserted that there were two classes of protestants in France,
political and religious ; and that " the late ebullition of public
vengeance was solely directed against the former." Dr.
M'Crie, cursing the catholic with a catholic's curse, execrates
" the stale sophistry of this calumniator." But should we
allow that the Greek professor who advocated their national
crime was the wretch the calvinistic doctor describes, yet the

* Llorente's Critical History of the Inquisition

t Naudd, Considerations Politiques, p. 116. See a curious note in
Harte's Life of Gustavus Adolphus, ii. 129.

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Dature of things cannot be altered by the equal violence of
Peter Charpentier and Dr. M'Crie.

This subject of " Political Eeligionism " is indeed as nice
as it is curious ; politics have been so cunningly worked into
the cause of religion, that the parties themselves will never
be able to separate them ; and to this moment, the most op-
posite opinions are formed concerning the same events, and
the same persons. When public disturbances broke out at
Nisraes on the first restoration of the Bourbons, the protes-
tants, who there are numerous, declared that they were per-
secuted for religion, and their cry, echoed by their brethren
the dissenters, resounded in this country. We have not for-
gotten the ferment it raised here ; much was said, and some-
thing was done. Our minister however persisted in declaring
that it was a mere political affair. It is clear that our gov-
ernment was right on the cause, and those zealous complain-
ants wrong, who only observed the effect ; for as soon as the
Bourbonists had triumphed over the Bonapartists, we heard
no mor^ of those sanguinary persecutions of the protestants
of Nismes, of which a dissenter has just published a large
history. It is a curious fact, that when two writers at the
game time were occupied in a life of Cardinal Ximenes,
Flechier converted the cardinal into a saint, and every inci-
dent in his administration was made to connect itself with his
religious character ; MarsoUier, a writer very inferior to
Flechier, shows the cardinal merely as a politician. The
elegancies of Flechier were soon neglected by the public, and
the deep interests of truth soon acquired, and still retain, for
the less elegant writer, the attention of the statesman.

A modem historian has observed, that " the affairs of re-
ligion were the grand fomenters and promoters of the Thirty
years' war, which first brought down the powers of the North
to mix in the politics of the Southern states." The fact is
indisputable, but the cause is not so apparent. Gustavus
Adolphus, the vast military genius of his age, had designed,
and was successfully attempting, to oppose the overgrown

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power of the imperial house of Austria, which had long
aimed at an universal monarchy in Europe ; a circumstance
which Philip IV. weakly hinted at to the world when he
placed this motto under his arms — ^^ Sine ipso factum est
nihil ;^' an expression applied to Jesus Christ by St John !


An enlightened toleration is a blessing of the last age — it
would seem to have been practised by the Romans, when
they did not mistake the primitive Christians for seditious
members of society ; and was inculcated even by Mahomet,
in a passage in the Koran, but scarcely practised by his fol-
lowers. In modem history, it was condemned^ when religion
was turned into a political contest, under the aspiring house
of Austria — and in Spain — and in France. It required a
long time before its nature was comprehended^ — and to this
moment it is far from being clear, either to the tolerators, or
the tolerated.

It does not appear, that the precepts or the practice of
Jesus and the apostles inculcate the compelling of any to be
Christians ; * yet an expression employed in the nuptial
parable of the great supper, when the hospitable lord com-
manded the servant, finding that he had still room to accom-
modate more guests, to go out in the highways and hedges,
and " compel them to come in, that my house may he JiUedy^
was alleged as an authority by those catholics who called
themselves " the converters," for using religious force, which,
still alluding to the hospitable lord, they called " a charitable
and salutary violence." It was this circumstance which pro-

♦ Bishop Barlow's " Several Miscellaneotis and Weighty Cases of Con-
Bcience Resolved, 1692.^' His " Case of a Toleration in Matters of Re-
ligion," addressed to Robert Boyle, p. 39. This volume was not intended
to have been given to the world, a circumstance which does not make it
the less curious.

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duced Bayle's " Commentaire Philosophique sur ces Paroles
de Jesus Christ," published under the supposititious name of
an Englishman, as printed at Canterbury in 1686, but really
at Amsterdam. It is curious that Locke published his first
letter on "Toleration" in Latin at Grouda, in 1689 — the
second in 1690 — and the third in 1692. Bayle opened the
mind of Locke, and some time after quotes Locke's Latin
letter with high commendation.* The caution of both writers
in publishing in foreign places, however, indicates the pru-
dence which it was deemed necessary to observe in writing
in favour of toleration.

These were the first philosophical attempts ; but the eai'li-
est advocates for toleration may be found among the religious
controversialists of a preceding period ; it was probably started
among the fugitive sects who had found an asylum in Hol-
land. It was a blessing which they had gone far to find, and
the miserable, reduced to humane feelings, are compassionate
to one another. With us the sect called "the Independents'*
had, early in our revolution under Charles the First, pleaded
for the doctrine of religious liberty, and long maintained it
against the presbyterians. Both proved persecutors when
they possessed power. The first of our respectable divines
who advocated this cause was Jeremy Taylor, in his " Dis-
course on the Liberty of Prophesying," 1647, and Bishop
Hall, who had pleaded the cause of moderation in a discourse
about the same period.t Locke had no doubt examined all

* In the article Sancierius. Note F.

t Recent writers among our sectarists assert that Dr. Owen was the Jirst
who wrote in favour of toleration, in 1648 ! Another claims the honour for
John Goodwin, the chaplain of Oliver Cromwell, who published one of his
obscure polemical tracts in 1644, among a number of other persons who, at
that crisis, did not venture to prefix their names to pleas in favour of tol-
eration, so delicate and so obscure did this subject then appear! In 1661,
they translated the liberal treatise of Grotius, De imperio Summarum Pote*-
tatum circa Sacra, under the title of " The Authority of the Highest Powers
about Sacred Things," London, 8vo. 1661. To the honour of Grotius, the
first of philosophical reformers, be it recorded, that he displeased both
parties !

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these writers. The history of opinions is among the most
curious of histories ; and I suspect that Bayle was well
acquainted with the pamphlets of our sectarists, who, in their
flight to Holland, conveyed those curiosities of theology,
whicli had cost them their happiness and their estates : I
think he indicates this hidden source of his ideas, by the
extraordinary ascription of his book to an Englishman, and
fixing the place of its publication at Canterbury I

Toleration has been a vast engine in the hands of modem
politicians. It was established in the United Provinces of
Holland, and our numerous non-conformists took refuge in
that asylum for disturbed consciences ; it attracted a valuable
community of French refugees; it conducted a colony of
Hebrew fugitives from Portugal ; conventicles of Brownists,
quakers' meetings, French churches, and Jewish synagogues,
and (had it been required) Mahometan mosques, in Amster-
dam, were the precursors of its mart, and its exchange ; the
moment they could preserve their consciences sacred to
themselves, they lived without mutual persecution, and mixed
together as good Dutchmen.

The excommunicated part of Europe seemed to be the
most enlightened, and it was then considered as a proof of
the admirable progress of the human mind, that Locke and
Clarke and Newton corresponded with Leibnitz, and others
of the learned in France and Italy. Some were astonished
that philosophers, who differed in their religious opinions,
should communicate among themselves with so much tolera-

It is not, however, clear, that had any one of these sects
at Amsterdam obtained predominance, which was sometimes
attempted, they would have granted to others the toleration
they participated in common. The infancy of a party is
accompanied by a political weakness, which* disables it from
weakening others.

» J. P. Rabaut, but la Revolution Fran^se, p. 27.

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The catholic in this country pleads for toleration ; in his
own, he refuses to grant it. Here, the presbyterian, who
had complained of persecution, once fixed in the seat of
power, abrogated every kind of independence among others.
When the fiames consumed Servetus at Geneva, the contro-
versy began, whether the civil magistrate might punish
heretics, which Beza, the associate of Calvin, maintained : he
triumphed in the small predestinating city of Geneva ; but
the book he wrote was fatal to the protestants a few" leagues
distant, among a majority of catholics. Whenever the protes-
tants complained of the persecutions they suffered, the cath-
olics, for authority and sanction, never failed to appeal to the
volume of their own Beza.

M. Necker de Saussure has recently observed on "what
trivial circumstances the change or the preservation of the
established religion in different districts of Europe has de-
pended ! " When the Reformation penetrated into Switzer-
land, the government of the principality of Neufchatel,
wishing to allow liberty of conscience to all their subjects,
invited each parish to vote " for or against the adoption of
the new worship ; and in all the parishes, except two, the
majority of suffrages declared in favour of the protestant
communion." The inhabitants of the small village of Creis-
sier had also assembled ; and forming an even number, there
happened to be an equality of votes for and against the
change of religion. A shepherd being absent, tending the
flocks on the hills, they summoned him to appear and decide
this important question ; when, having no liking to innova-
tion, he gave his voice in favour of the existing form of wor-
ship ; and this parish remained catholic, and is so at this
day, in the heart of the protestant cantons.

I proceed to ^ some facts, which I have arranged for the
history of Toleration. In the Memoirs of James the Second,
when that monarch published " The Declaration for Liberty
of Conscience," the catholic reasons and liberalizes like a
modem philosopher : he accuses " the jealousy of our clergy,

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who had degraded themselves into intriguers ; and like me-
chanics in a trade, who are afraid of nothing so much as
interlopers — they had therefore induced indifferent persons
to imagine that their earnest contest was not ahout their
faith, but about their temporal possessions. It was incon-
gruous that a church, which does not pretend to be infallible,
should constrain persons, under heavy penalties and punish-
ments, to believe as she does : they delighted, he asserted, to
hold an iron rod over, dissenters and catholics ; so sweet was
dominion, that the very thought of others participating in
their freedom made them deny the very doctrine they
preached." The chief argument the catholic urged on this
occasion was " the reasonableness of repealing laws, which
made men liable to the greatest punishments for that it was
not in their power to remedy, for that no man could force
himself to believe what he really did not believe." *

Such was the rational language of the most bigoted of
zealots ! — The fox can bleat like the lamb. At the very
moment James the Second was uttering this mild expostula-
tion, in his own heart he had anathematized the nation ; for
I have seen some of the king's private papers, which still
exist ; they consist of communications, chiefly by the most
bigoted priests, with the wildest projects, and most infatuated
prophecies and dreams, of restoring the true catholic faith in
England ! Had the Jesuit-led monarch retained the English
throne, the language he now addressed to the nation would
have been no longer used ; and in that case it would have
served his protestant subjects. He asked for toleration, to
become intolerant ! He devoted himself, not to the hundredth
part of the English nation ; and yet he was surprised that
he was left one morning without any army! When the
catholic monarch issued this declaration for " liberty of con-
science," the Jekyll of his day observed, that " it was but
scaffolding : they intend to build another house ; and when

^ Life of James the Second, from his own papers, ii. 114.

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that house (Popery) is built, thej will take down the scaf-

When presbytery was our lord, they who had endured the
tortures of persecution, and raised such sharp outcries for
freedom, of all men were the most intolerant: hardly had
they tasted of the Circean cup of dominion, ere they were
transformed into the most hideous or the most grotesque

Online LibraryIsaac DisraeliCuriosities of literature → online text (page 12 of 43)