Page images

universal emancipation, decking his wreath with the flowers of every soil, and filling his army with the soldiers of every sect; before whose splendid dawn, every tear exhaling and every vapour vanishing, the colours of the European world have revived, and the spirit of European liberty (may no crime avert the omen!) seems to have arisen! Suppose he was a Catholic, could this have been? Suppose Catholics did not follow him, could this have been ? Did the Catholic Cortes inquire his faith when they gave him the supreme command?' Did the Regent of Portugal withhold from his creed the reward of his valour? Did the Catholic soldier pause at Salamanca to dispute upon polemics ? Did the Catholic chieftain prove upon Barrossa that he kept no faith with heretics, or did the creed of Spain, the same with that of France, the opposite of that of England, prevent their association in the field of liberty?

no, no! the citizen of every clime, the friend of every colour, and the child of every creed, liberty walks abroad in the ubiquity of her benevolence; alike to her the varieties of faith and the vicissitudes of country; she has no object but the happiness of man, no bounds but the extremities of creation. Yes, yes, it was reserved for Wellington to redeem his own country when he was regenerating every other. It was reserved for him to show how vile were the aspersions on your creed, how generous were the glowings of your gratitude. He was a Protestant, yet Catholics trusted him; he was a Protestant, yet

Oh, no,

many of

my creed

Catholics advanced him? he is a Protestant Knight in Catholic Portugal, he is a Protestant Duke in Catholic Spain, he is the Protestant commander of Catholic armies: he is more, he is the living proof of the Catholic's liberality, and the undeniable refutation of the Protestant's injustice. Gentlemen, as a Protestant, though I may blush for the bigotry of who continue obstinate in the teeth of this conviction, still were I a Catholic I should feel little triumph in the victory. I should only hang my head at the distresses which this warfare occasioned to my country. I should only think how long she had writhed in the agony of her disunion; how long she had bent, fettered by slaves, cajoled by iblockheads, and plundered by adventurers; the proverb of the fool, the prey of the politician, the dupe of the designing, the experiment of the desperate, struggling as it were between her own fanatical and infatuated parties, those hellengendered serpents which enfold her, like the Trojan seer, even at the worship of her altars, and crush her to death in the very embraces of her children! It is time (is it not?) that she should be extricated. The act would be proud, the means would be Christian; mutual forbearance, mutual indulgence, mutual concession; I would say to the Protestant, Concede; I would say to the Catholic, Forgive; I would say to both, Though you bend not at the same shrine, you have a common God, and a common country; the one has commanded love, the other kneels to you for

peace. This hostility of her sects has been the disgrace, the peculiar disgrace, of Christianity. The Gentoo loves his cast, so does the Mahometan, so does the Hindoo, whom England out of the abundance of her charity is about to teach her creed ;-I hope she may not teach her practice. But Christianity, Christianity alone exhibits her thousand sects, each denouncing his neighbour here, in the name of God, and damning hereafter out of pure devotion! “ You're a heretic,” says the Catholic: “You're a Papist,” says the Protestant: “I appeal to Saint Peter,” exclaims the Catholic: “I appeal to Saint Athanasius," cries the Protestant: “ and if it goes to damning, he's as good at it as any saint in the calendar.” “You'll all be damned eternally,” moans out the Methodist; 6 I'm the elect!” Thus it is, you see, each has his anathema, his accusation, and his retort, and in the end Religion is the victim! The victory of each is the overthrow of all; and Infidelity, laughing at the contest, writes the refutation of their creed in the blood of the combatants! I wonder if this reflection has ever struck any of those reverend dignitaries who rear their mitres against Catholic emancipation. Has it ever glanced-across their Christian zeal, if the story of our country should have casually reached the valleys of Hindostan, with what an argument they are furnishing the heathen world against their sacred missionary? In what terms could the Christian ecclesiastic answer the Eastern Bramin, when he replied to kis exhortations in language such as this ? " Father,

We have heard your doctrine ; it is splendid in theory, specious in promise, sublime in prospect; like the world to which it leads, it is rich in the miracles of light. But, Father, we have heard that there are times when its rays vanish and leave your sphere in darkness, or when your only lustre arises from meteors of fire, and moons of blood : we have heard of the verdant island which the Great Spirit has raised in the bosom of the waters with such a bloom of beauty, that the very wave she has usurped worships the loveliness of her intrusion. The sovereign of our forests is nots more generous in his anger than her sons; the snow-fake, ere it falls on the mountain, is not purer than her daughters; little inland seas reflect the splendours of her landscape, and her valleys smile at the story of the serpent! Father, is it true that this isle of the sun, this people of the morning, find the fury of the ocean in your creed, and more than the venom of the viper in your policy? Is it Ltrue that for six hundred years, her peasant has not tasted peace, nor her piety rested from persecution? Oh! Brama, defend us from the God of the Christian! Father, father, return to your brethren, retrace the waters; we may live in ignorance, but we live in love, and we will not taste the tree that gives us evil when it gives us wisdom. The heart is our guide, nature is our gospel; in the imitation of our fathers we found our hope, and, if we err, on the virtue of our motives we rely for our redemption.” How would the missionaries of the mitre answer him? How will they

[ocr errors]

answer that insulted Being of whose creed their conduct carries the refutation ?-But to what end do I argue with the Bigot?-a wretch, whom no philosophy can humanize, no charity soften, no religion reclaim, no miracle convert; a monster, who, red with the fires of hell, and bending under the crimes of earth, erects his murderous divinity opon a throne of sculls, and would gladly feed even with a brother's blood the cannibal appetite of his rejected altar! His very interest cannot soften him into humanity. Surely, if it could, no man would be found mad enough to advocate a system which cankers the very heart of society, and undermines the natural resources of government; which takes away the strongest excitement to industry, by closing up every avenue to laudable ambition; which administers to the vanity or the vice of a party, when it should only study the advantage of a people; and holds out the perquisites of state as an impious bounty on the persecution of religion.-I have already shown that ' the power of the Pope, that the power of France, and that the tenets of your creed, were but imaginary auxiliaries to this system. tended obstacle has, however, been opposed to your emancipation. I allude to the danger arising from a foreign influence. What a triumphant answer can you give to that! Methinks, as lately, I see the assemblage of your hallowed hierarchy surrounded by the priesthood, and followed by the people, waving aloft the crucifix of Christ alike against the seductions of the court, and the commande

Another pre

« PreviousContinue »