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ever attacks we may still remain exposed from other quarters."
“But of late, you seem entirely to have forgotten, Edward,”, exclaimed Lady Helen, “ that we are a Protestant country.”
"Indeed, my dear Lady, I have so completely forgotten it, that I cannot remember ever having thought it. We are, to my mind, as a nation, essentially and not very unequally divided upon matters of religious belief, and I do think that we should try and legislate in a measure for all, since we impose our burdens upon all, and claim the allegiance of
" But we do not obtain the allegiance of all,” retorted Lady Helen, "since so many are satisfied to divide theirs between our Queen and a foreign sovereign.”
“What! the divided allegiance again, my lady? I really thought that that was exploded, ever since we admitted that Catholics might, as well as Protestants, command our regiments and our ships."
“But do they, or do they not receive their Bulls, commands, and so forth from Rome, and
obey them, also, I want to know ?” exclaimed the Baronet, emphatically striking the table with his fist.
“Don't break the glasses, I say,” replied the incorrigible Edward, “and Cécile will tell you all about it.”
“ Indeed I will not,” said Cécile smiling. “I beg leave to remark that I am saying nothing at all, and not even looking up from the table.”
“Then, I suppose that I must state," resumed Edward, “under correction, of course, from the most Holy Expurgatorius, that there are still, in the Christian world, a certain number of benighted millions who, obstinately looking to the Unity of their Faith, and to the stability of its institutions, do prefer a Spiritual to a Temporal, a Catholic to a National Head. I cannot help laughing once a day, at least, when I think how well satisfied we English are to live in utter oblivion of all that is going on, even at our very gates. It has been my fate to repeat this very question to Austrians, to Spaniards, and to Frenchmen, each ready to run his sword through my body if I expressed the slightest doubt of the independence of their country, or of their own devotion to it, and I have invariably received the same answer to it.”
“What question and what answer ?” muttered the Baronet.
“Whether the Catholic acknowledgement of the Pope's Supremacy, in any way interfered with their feelings or their duties towards their country and its sovereign. And I was obliged to repeat my question more than once to make it even intelligible. I particularly remember the answer of one Frenchman, and he a Colonel in the army too: "Do you think,' said he to me, that the most arbitrary of all our rulers, Napoleon, would have been satisfied to reestablish a religion which practically transferred to another than to himself any requisite portion of his subjects' fealty. Besides,' added he, 'recollect that we may wish to change the form of our Government without overthrowing our religion; and we are better satisfied to look to Rome, for a last appeal in religious controversies, than to place our Church and Spiritual concerns under the eventual authority of Cavaignac, Louis Napoleon, or Ledru Rollin.”
“Well, they may have those feelings, and we may have others, I should hope,” interrupted the impatient Baronet.
“Of course," replied his imperturbable son, “ but take care, in this question, at least, that the National sentiment be not merely the cloak for the sectarian prejudice.”
“Prejudice ! of course it is always prejudice," cried Sir Charles. “And yet I wish you or somebody would tell me, where the line between Spiritual and Temporal authority is to run, and who is to draw it.”
“ The question is a most complicated one, I know, and it is in no one's power to divest it entirely of its essential difficulties. My own opinion is, that any state claiming the allegiance of a considerable body of Roman Catholics would do well, for its own sake, to enter into some sort of agreement with Rome respecting their condition and government. Failing, however, this ordinary and obvious remedy, nothing, I should say, is easier than for the Civil Power amply to provide for its own security by purely civil and social enactments. I have not the slightest objection to see a Roman Catholic traitor drawn and quartered, when duly convicted, be he layman, priest, or
prelate: but it appears to me a very different matter, constructively to accuse the whole body of permanent treason. Indeed, to my mind, it would be every bit as logical to ostracize the Independants, because Cromwell and his followers discovered the most conclusive texts in Holy Writ for the judicial murder of Charles I., as to proscribe our Roman Catholic countrymen because some day the Pope might incite them to political misconduct.”
“Exactly; we are to make no sort of distinction here,” said Sir Charles, “ while in foreign countries a Protestant is sent to prison merely for reading the Bible.”
“If, in other states, the Crown or the majority choose to abuse their power, it is an example which I would rather discard than emulate. But in judging the conduct of foreign countries in these matters, we should perhaps, in fairness and candour, inquire whether they have among their subjects Protestant communities or not. In the latter case, and without examining whether certain religious tenets and practices may not be used now among them, as they have often been in our own history, for political watchwords and