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Clergy, it will affix some modification or decla«ration to this clause in the oath, which removing « every ambiguity, may leave them the liberty to
preach and to persuade.» If the Legislature were to do its duty, by rendering the words of the oath explicitly conformable with the intention of administering and taking it, there could be nothing in it to wound the conscience of a juror sinè dolo: and then the commission to the Bishop of Halia would have no object to act upon. In contemplation however of the probable failure of this extraordinary commission, or the perseverance of the Legislature in the present form of the oath, which ex concessis may trouble and wound the juror's conscience, we are driven to consider what ulterior remedies Monsignor J. B. Quarantotti professes to apply to the evils complained of.
It is immaterial to consider what are the precise words of the clerical oath proposed in the Relief Bill; since the remedy is avowedly prescribed upon the palpable presumption, that they are of such a quality or tendency, as to trouble and wound the conscience of an orthodox Catholic : otherwise nothing could be required or even desired to be done, in order to quiet and secure the consciences of the Catholic Clergy, as is self evident. Then upon
the professed presumption, that there is a sense, which the oath is susceptible of, which is repugnant to the Catholic faith, and that this is according to the plain and obvious words of the oath (if not to most, at least to some persons), the rescript commands the acquiescence of the clergy: clerus acquiescat. « And it will be sufficient for them publicly to de
clare, that this, and this only is the sense, in « which they have sworn to it, so that nothing in « the oath be adverse to orthodox doctrine. Of what avail can a verbal declaration be to explain
or do away the obvious meaning and purport of a written oath? But the rescript, it seems, favours Protestanism; as the solicitors, constructors, or procurers of it, once wished to assume the appellation of Protesting Catholic Dissenters. " that this protest may be generally known, and « be for an example to posterity, this construetion « of it shall be publicly recorded.» In what sense, Sir John, can such an explanation or construction of an oath be termed a protest, unless it be a disclaimer or protestation, that the juror took it in a sense different from the obvious and plain sense of the words, in which it is expressed. The VicePrefect's mandate, that such protest shall for the benefit of posterity be publicly recorded in England, is too senseless an arrogation of civil power to be seriously spoken of. Equally piteous is the wish, « that a declaration should be made by some « of the Members of Parliament, that Government « requires the oath from the Catholie Clergy in « this sense, and in no other,» Who, Sir John, knows more experimentally than yourself, of what little avail is the speech of a Member of Parliament, ad sedandas tutandasque conscientias? And who are intended here by Government ? In no sense can the King's Ministers efficiently make any declaration, that shall aid or soften the operation of such an oath. The imposers of it, are the King and two Houses of Parliament. They can only explain or modify their laws, by some new enact
The regular and legal interpreters of the statutes, or any parts of them, are the Judges of the land. And how would they treat a Catholic Clergyman's verbal protest, against the ordinary force
and common acceptation of the words of the cath, he had taken and subscribed? Would the recording of his protest under the order of Monsignor
Quarantotti help his case? In the late revolutionary struggles, French Republicans demanded civic oaths of their clergy, and the French Emperor demanded oaths of subserviency from them. The ministers of each were ever ready with empyric plaisters in their hands to declare, that nothing in the oath was adverse to orthodox doctrine. Did the Ministers' declarations justify their swearing? Surely if Monsignor J.B. Quarantotti be possessed of such a simple nostrum, such a powerful panacea for healing wounded conseiences, as acquiescat clerus, ac satis erit, etc. why importune the Imperial Legislature to furnish remedies ad sedandas tutandasque Catholici Cleri conscientias ? There can be neither delicacy nor difficulty in subscribing any oath, which is to receive its construction and force from other persons.
I am too sensible, Sir John, of having trespassed upon your, as well as the patience of some others : but having undertaken to give a portrait of cannot submit it to be taken off from my labour, in the very critical moment of giving the last and most striking touch to the piece. It is remarkable in all the historical portraits of the great heroes of antiquity, that their predominant passion is always brought so prominently forward, as to subject their brightest actions to its influence and controul. Your's, Sir John, from your own avowal, is that of consistenoy: On the rith day of May, 1813, you Joudly proclaimed on the opening of
your Catholic commission, to communicate your Catholic fears of the order of Jesuits to the House of Commons, that « * if there be any crime, of which I can « be justly accused in reference to the great mea« sure, that crime is consistency.» And on the
* Hist. Let. to Sir J. C. Hippisley, p. 120.
subsequent 24th of the same month, arguing again (in your own steady and plain dealing ) upon the great measure, you repeatedly enforced your former declaration, « I will defy any one to say I « am inconsistent, I will contend, that I am con« sistent.» I cannot then leave behind a cloud, or invisible in the back ground, this brilliant constellation, which irradiates your orbit, velut inter ignes luna minores. Your important speech of that day (and which of your speeches in Parliament is not important?) fixes the date of your conversion (and I presume of your consequent consistency,) to the space of six months before Mr. Butler congratulated you upon it, on the 29th of December, 1812. There was a time, Sir John, (perhaps before the maturity of your consistency) when every . thing Roman pleased you. I will venture however to remind you of the Roman Poet's ideas of painting. The idolatrous Romans knew, more of the art of poetry, and less of that of painting, than their Popish successors. * Some paintings cannot be too closely inspected : others are seen to advantage at a certain distance : some require a faint dusk, whilst others cannot be placed in too strong a light, so as to brave the keenest criticism. I am bold enough, Sir, to aspire to the last quality, which if this second portrait of you fail in, it must be laid to the account of my want of skill and talent, not of industry and inclination, to transmit a faithful resemblance of the great character I have undertaken to exhibit to the
present and future generations. Your consistency has burst forth in vivid coruscation against the order of Jesuits, each time you addressed
* Ut pictura poesis ; erit, quæ si proprius stes,
Te capiat magis : et quædam, si longuis abstes.
Hor.-de Arte Poetica.
brother senators on the great measure, in the year 1814. Never since then did
you enter the arena, to treat them with a Jesuit-baiting, that I have not, by some mystical cause, been chained to the stake, as a necessary appendage to the sport of the day. You spoke rather more largely, than fairly of me, on the 17th of May, 1814 ; but on the 24th of that month, you found « it your duty to correct a mistatement « connected with your motion, which had found
place in several of the public prints : namely, « that Mr. Plowden (not Brown, as erroneously
stated), had. in his History of Ireland broached « doctrines, which some of the
repre'« sented you to have said were Catholic doctrines, « whereas it was quite the reverse*.» Be this as it may, the duty of a Member of Parliament to correct a mistatement connected with his motion, presupposes the original statement to have been connected with it. As I had published my last History
* As I ever wish to throw all the light, I can upon every subject I take in hand, I here remind the Honorable Baronet what I told him in the first Historical Letter (p. 29), that « Every Proprietor of a Paper (now an article of traffic,) en« gages himself to support the principles, which characterise « or denominate some party, as it best suits his interest.»-How literally was this verified by the insertion of the following paragraph in the Morning Chronicle, about the time that Dr. Poynter was leaving London to go to Rome. « Letters from « Rome state, that the busy Dr. Milner has totally failed in his a representations to his Holiness the Pope against the letter of « Quarantotti. The Pope has signified his determination to
acquiesce in such measure, with respect to the l'eto, as « shall be judged necessary by the English Government in the « nomination of Catholic Bishops : so that we trust, that this « important subject will be put to rest.»