Page images
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

compelled to flee to the summits of the loftiest mountains, or to 'seek refuge in the valleys of Dauphiné, among a people of simi'lar habits of religion.' For this he quotes, in a note, the 'Mer'cury' of Vittorio Siri, a pensioned writer, whose representations of a matter which so much interested the whole Catholic body, must be taken with the utmost distrust. Dr Lingard adds, in another note, It would be a difficult task to determine by whom, ' after the reduction of La Torre, the first blood was wantonly drawn, or to which party the blame of superior cruelty really 'belongs. The authorities on each side are interested, and there'fore suspicious.' Why then state unhesitatingly in the text what comes from only one side? The persecutions alleged by the one, are as warmly denied by the other; and to the ravages of the military in Angrogna and Lucerne, are opposed the massacres of the Catholics in Perousa and San Martino.' (Vol. xi. 261.) The best authorities probably are in Thurloe's Collection of Papers; and Dr Lingard quotes several of these on either side. But we find no mention of any massacre of the Catholics in Perousa and St Martin. The great massacre was in Lucerne, on April 21, 1655, by an army of several thousand men. This was the slaughter of the Vaudois, followed up by other ravages, which resounded through Europe. It is true that, having taken up arms with the usual intrepidity of that extraordinary people, and driven their oppressors from La Torre and other villages, they did not give much quarter. It may be admitted also, on Morland's authority, that some exaggerations were circulated by the Vaudois ministers. Yet Morland himself, having been in the country, and not disposed, as appears, to take any thing on trust, has written a history of this very massacre. Such authority is surely better than that of Siri, and far better than that of a letter from Mazarin (Thurloe, iii. 536) to the French ambassador at the court of Cromwell, whom it was his business to conciliate; the varnish of a man, not only interested, but proverbially regardless of veracity. We shall add, that Denina (Istoria dell' Italia Occidentale, iii. 328) asserts, that by conversation with some of the inhabitants of the valleys themselves, he has ascertained that many of the stories of Vaudois ministers tortured and murdered, are the invention of Leger, instigated by the judicial punishment of a relation. But the accounts we read in Thurloe, of the date of May 1655, are not, in general, borrowed from Leger. Independently of external evidence, which in such cases is usually contradictory, we need only consider the circumstances of the two parties, and the general disposition of the Catholic potentates in that age, to decide which was more likely to be the aggressor. In the great cause of

Wolf versus Lamb, we are irresistibly sceptical of the plaintiff's grievances.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

It is mentioned, in another place, (p. 133,) of the Vaudois, probably in order to insinuate that their case was not a very hard one, that they refused the offer of Cromwell to settle in Ireland. This is certainly true. But the grounds of their refusal, besides the general attachment of mountaineers to their fastnesses, are given in a letter from Leger to Mr Stouppe. (Thurloe, iii. 459.) They display the noble constancy of that people, and their generous pride in the consciousness of their antiquity. They were the last survivors, as they were probably the eldest, of those churches in Italy who stood aloof from the corruptions of Rome. I confess,' says Leger, when at first I heard of the massacre made among them, I had that thought, that those who had escaped that butchery ought to go and 'settle themselves elsewhere, not seeing any likelihood for them ' to return home, or to live peaceably there. But having im'parted the matter to the pastors of those churches that are now dispersed, they have represented unto me, that they ought not ' to yield so easily to those, who, little by little, do mutilate and 'consume the body of our churches; having destroyed those of Calabria in the year 1650, those of the Marquisate of Saluces in 1597 and 1602, and those of the valley of Barcelonne, ' within the dominions of the Duke of Savoy, in 1623. That 'they ought not to forsake those churches, which can prove their 'succession from the very time of the apostles; Claudius Turin" ensis, Bishop of Turin, who had been counsellor to Charles the Great, having highly erected there the standard of the truth, long before the Waldenses came thither. That, in the 'said valleys, there are several places that are strong by nature. That there are yet great numbers of our brethren under arms, 'who have taken up heart again, and are entered again into part ' of the inheritance of their fathers,' &c. It is well known that they not only compelled the house of Savoy to respect their property and religion in this contest, but, when expelled in the following generation from their valleys, returned by one of the most romantic enterprises related in history, traversing the whole line of Alps from Geneva, and obtained by force the possession of their country, which, with more discouragement than persecution, they continue to enjoy.


It has often been questioned whether Cromwell was rescued by death from a reverse of fortune in 1658, or might have maintained his authority as before, had his life been protracted. Mr Godwin seems to think he was in little danger. Dr Lingard, on the other hand, is of opinion, that his authority was never on

a more precarious footing; arguing from his poverty, and the impossibility of calling any Parliament which would answer his purpose, as well as from the ambitious intrigues of some among his generals and counsellors, who, from his increasing infirmities, began to cherish other views. The supposition, however, ought to exclude those infirmities; and it may still be asked, whether the same Cromwell, who reached supreme power, might not, with equal vigour of mind and body, have retained it. That he had little to fear from the royalist partisans, except assassination, of which he was more painfully apprehensive than became so brave a man, we entertain no doubt; nor do we see what the republicans could have done against him, after so many failures, unless he had provoked the army, by too imprudently urging forward his favourite scheme of putting the crown on his head. Speculations, however, as to what might have happened in circumstances which did not occur, are not apt to be very satisfactory; nor are they perhaps of much utility, though it is sometimes amusing to indulge them.

On the debated question, whether Monk began, long before he left Scotland, to entertain the design of restoring Charles to the throne, Dr Lingard inclines to the affirmative side; and we are disposed to agree with him, though we think he relies too much on the authority of Price. In the account of the manner in which the lords took their seats in the Convention Parliament, which met April 25, 1660, he is not strictly accurate. A few,' he says, of the excluded peers attempted to take their seats, and met with no opposition; the example was imitated by others, and in a few days the Presbyterian lords formed not 'more than one-fifth of the House.'-P. 439. But, in fact, on the first day a committee was appointed to consider what lords should have letters written to require their attendance. There was never any intention to exclude the peers whose creation was antecedent to 1642; but those whose patent had passed the great seal, after it was taken to Oxford, and had been declared incapable by ordinances of the Long Parliament, were still excluded by an order of the House of Lords, so late as May 4, 1660. This was vacated May 31; but it indicates that the Presbyterian lords formed more a good deal than one-fifth of the House.

The change which took place in 1664, as to the direct taxation of the clergy, is well known; but it has not been so important in its consequences as the following paragraph intimates :

Hitherto the clergy had preserved the honourable privilege of taxing themselves, and had usually granted in convocation the same number of clerical subsidies as was voted of lay subsidies by the two Houses of Parliament. But this distinction could not conveniently be

maintained, when money was to be raised by county rates; and it was therefore agreed, that the right of the clergy should be waved in the present instance; but, at the same time, be preserved for them by a proviso in the act. The proviso, however, was illusory, and the right has never since been exercised. In return, the clergy claimed what could not in justice be denied, the privilege of voting as freeholders at elections; a privilege which, though never expressly granted, has since been recognised by different statutes. But a consequence followed from this arrangement, which probably was not foreseen. From the moment that the convocation ceased to vote money, it became of little service to the crown. It was no longer suffered to deliberate, to frame ecclesiastical canons, or to investigate the conduct, or regulate the concerns, of the church. It was, indeed, summoned, and the members met as usual, but merely as a matter of form; for a royal mandate immediately arrived, and an adjournment, prorogation, or dissolution followed. That, however, which seems the most extraordinary is, that this change in the constitution, by which one of the three estates ceased, in fact, to exist, and a new class of freeholders, unknown to the law, was created, owes its origin, not to any legisla tive enactment, but to a merely verbal agreement between the Lord Chancellor and Archbishop Sheldon.'-Vol. xii. 121. 8vo. edit.

It is not an uncommon opinion among the English clergy at the present day, that they have been despoiled of their ancient constitutional privileges by the discontinuance of the convocation. Not that they contend for the right of separate taxation, which, in the modern system of finance, would of course be found impracticable; but a notion has been promulgated among them, that laws affecting ecclesiastical interests were formerly passed with the consent of their own representatives. This error is in some degree countenanced by the preceding passage; for to say that one of the three estates ceased, in fact, to exist,' by the practice of proroguing the convocation without proceeding to business, is at least to imply that that body was previously an estate of the realm. This it certainly never was; the clergy are strictly one of the three estates, and that name is also very regularly given to the lords spiritual in Parliament; but the convocations, separately called by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York in their respective provinces, by authority of the king, never had the smallest pretension to any other legislative power than to enact canons for the government of the church, which, when sanctioned by the crown, are binding on the clergy, but have no authority, as has been repeatedly decided, over the laity; nor was their consent, on any occasion, required for the validity of a statute in ecclesiastical concerns. It is true, that in the reign of Edward I., and three or four of his successors, an assembly of delegates from the clergy, not provincial but national, and sum

moned immediately by the king's writ to the bishops, appears to have sometimes enjoyed a decisive voice in statutes affecting the church; but this assembly, commonly said to be called by virtue of the pramunienes clause, from the first word of a sentence in the writ, has very long gone into disuse, nor has any return been made to the writ, we believe, since the reign of Henry VIII. But the mistake of Dr Lingard is still greater, if possible, in supposing that the convocation was no longer suffered to deliberate, or regulate, the concerns of the church, in consequence of its discontinuing to grant subsidies, and thus becoming of little service to the crown. The fact is, on the contrary, that the period when the convocation for the province of Canterbury (that of York having never been of the slightest importance) sat most frequently, attracted most attention, and put forward the most ambitious claims, was after it had ceased altogether to impose taxes on its constituents. In this respect also, the clergy at the present day have permitted themselves to be deceived. Far from the cessation of these ecclesiastical assemblies being an infringement of their ancient rights, their meetings, except for the purposes of taxation, were not at all common before the reign of Anne, when a theory favourable to their authority having gained ground, chiefly through the artful misrepresentations of Atterbury, and the ministers favouring, or not venturing to oppose, the highchurch party, they were permitted to sit during the session of Parliament, and to enter upon many topics which had not been handled by their predecessors. This continued after the accession of George I., till it was found expedient for public tranquillity to silence a very factious spirit by a prorogation. But whoever looks at Wilkins's Concilia, will see how few had been their effective meetings since the Reformation. They were consulted by Henry VIII. about his divorce; they sat under Edward VI., but with no share in the great changes of his reign; they opposed in vain the restoration of Protestantism in the first year of Elizabeth; they sanctioned (when changed in person and character) the Thirty-Nine Articles in the queen's fifth year, which is the principal instance of their interference; they enacted some canons in 1603, which are still in force, and some in 1640, which have not been confirmed; and they agreed to some changes proposed by the crown in 1661. These, we believe, are all the instances of any importance wherein they did any thing more than grant money, while to grant their own money remained their privilege; while, on the other hand, subsequently to their loss of that privilege, they appear to have debated on subjects affecting the church's interest once or twice in the reign of Charles II., for some short time under William III., and very frequently,

« PreviousContinue »