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belief, but they looked on religion as a valuable political engine, the control of which they desired to retain in their own hands. Catholic bishops were especially distasteful, and, during the first eight years of Charles II., only one, the Bishop of Meath, was permitted to re-enter the country, and that privately, under the protection of powerful relatives. The whole Catholic population of three provinces, and of the more fertile portion of Connaught, had been stripped of all property in the land, and reduced to the deepest poverty. Schools and colleges had been all swept away, and their establishment was strictly forbidden, except under the direction of the Protestant clergy. It is needless to say that all public provision for the support of Catholic worship had disappeared, and that the churches throughout the land were in possession of the Protestant ministers, or in ruins. A formal abjuration of the Faith was a necessary condition for obtaining public office from the Crown, and might, at any time, be legally demanded of any one prominent in public affairs. Temporal rewards for formal apostasy were held out to the Catholic people of Ireland in the depths of the misery in which they had been plunged by confiscation, famine, and war. The Duke of Ormond, who had abandoned the creed of his parents, was among the foremost men of the Court, and was enriched by enormous grants of land and money, while Catholic families of equal rank were refused even an opportunity of proving their titles to their own property. The cultivators of the soil had the same temptation held out to them in a different way. Wherever Protestant tenants could be had, the fertile lands were assigned to them, while the Catholics were obliged to extract a precarious livelihood from the mountain sides and bogs. The traces of this system are visible to-day. Throughout Ulster, the rich valleys are almost invariably in the possession of Presbyterian or Episcopalian farmers whose ancestors were established in them over two centuries ago, with a specially favorable tenure, known until lately as the Ulster Tenant Right, while the mountains are almost as invariably peopled by Catholics, whose ancestors forfeited their lands rather than their Faith. The necessary condition for obtaining a share in the rich lands that had been handed over to foreign proprietors was apostasy, and that condition was steadily refused, though the scourge of famine came more than once to remind the Catholics what were the consequences of their refusal. In 1673 more than five hundred Catholics died of starvation in the single archdiocese of Armagh, and the archbishop, Dr. Plunket, wrote that he was only too glad to have enough of oaten bread to support life, and a thatched cabin to reside in. The poverty of the unfortunate population was aggravated by the extortions levied by the Protestant clergy. Fines were claimed for baptisms, marriages and funerals,
from the obdurate Papists, besides the regular tithes of their fields and flocks. When the victims attempted resistance, they were charged with non-attendance at the State worship, and crushed by arbitrary fines at the discretion of the local magistrates, or Protestant bishops who enjoyed judicial as well as clerical functions. When it is remembered that four generations have had to endure life under a system like this, and yet that Ireland is as Catholic to-day as two hundred years ago, we can appreciate the wisdom of the statesmen who have, in late years, undertaken to root out Catholic belief in Germany, Switzerland and France.
The maintenance of the Catholic Church in any country requires the existence not only of priests, but of the regularly organized hierarchy. In Ireland, under Charles II., the parochial clergy were but comparatively undisturbed, or only by such vexations as were common to them with the members of their flocks. The Government jealously prohibited, as a rule, the exercise of any episcopal functions, and hoped thus that the supply of priests would gradually fail, through the action of time and the stop of ordinations. In some dioceses confirmation was not administered during forty or fifty years, and others had been left entirely without bishops during an even longer period. The old Bishop of Kilmore, who alone had been able to baffle the pursuit of Cromwell's police, was utterly broken down in health, and, during the first eight years of the Restoration, Dr. Plunket, of Meath, was the only bishop capable of exercising functions in the whole island. In 1668 the Holy See appointed archbishops to the vacant sees of Dublin, Cashel and Tuam, and also a Bishop of Ossory; but so jealous was the English Government of the arrival of Catholic bishops, that it was thought prudent to have them consecrated in private, and at a distance from Rome. They slipped into their dioceses, one by one, without attracting much attention, and quietly commenced the work of reorganizing the Irish Church. The following year, Oliver Plunket was consecrated Primate of Armagh, with closed doors, in a private chapel in Brussels, and, a few months later, he too, found his way back to Ireland. So reduced in resources were the Irish Catholics that the four archbishops, with as many bishops, were deemed an ample episcopate for the thirty-six dioceses of Ireland. Even that number could hardly be supported by the impoverished people. The revenues of the Primate never exceeded three hundred dollars a year, and he described himself as much wealthier than most of his brethren. The Bishop of Kildare's usual income was only seventy-five dollars, and not a single prelate except the Primate ventured to keep a house of his own. general rule they lived as visitors in the house of some relative or other member of their flock, and exercised their functions as best
they could in private houses, and often in the shade of the woods, or the caves of the mountains. At times, the protection of some friendly official or territorial magnate enabled them to appear with comparative freedom, and such precious moments were eagerly profited by to administer confirmation, or to ordain priests. Thus, on one occasion, the Protestant Bishop of Derry forbade any interference with the Catholic Primate in his diocese, and allowed him to confirm in public. A similar protection was afforded him by Lord Charlemont, and even the Viceroy Berkeley showed himself friendly to the Primate personally. The latter even ventured to hold a Synod at Dublin, in 1670, though, a few months previously orders had been issued for his arrest, in case he should be found in Ireland. But such instances of toleration were intermittent, and liable to be followed by outbursts of persecution. The Archbishop of Tuam was arrested, three or four years after his arrival in Ireland, on a charge of exercising ecclesiastical jurisdiction contrary to law, and, after imprisonment, was sent into exile. In 1673, all the bishops had to hide, and the letters of Dr. Plunket give a vivid idea of their condition at this time. In company with the Archbishop of Cashel he found refuge in a thatched cabin in the mountains, where "they could see the stars through the roof, and were well refreshed by every rain.” They were happy to have enough of oatmeal porridge and milk and oaten bread for their support, and had taken the precaution to carry some books and a supply of candles with them, to resume their studies in their retreat, until an affection of the eyes, brought on by exposure, left the Primate incapable of reading or writing. This outbreak of persecution lasted over a year, and only then could the archbishops venture back to their ordinary residences. Experiences of this kind were of common occurrence in the life of Irish ecclesiastics during the seventeenth century, and it is suggestive that they had no effect in thinning the number of candidates that still continued to offer themselves for the Mission. The Bishop of Meath ordained over two hundred and fifty priests to supply the vacancies made by the Cromwellian persecution, and in 1676 there were nearly three hundred secular priests in Ulster alone, apart from the friars and Jesuits.
It was not enough, however, that men should be found to face the risks of persecution to recruit the priesthood. A certain amount of school training is indispensably required as a preparation for the Catholic priesthood, and on no point has the policy of the English Government been more consistent in Ireland than in keeping control of the schools. From the days of Elizabeth it had been a special offence for any Catholic to give instruction in Ireland, either to his own coreligionists or to others, and the law was
strictly maintained under the restored monarchy of Charles. Primary schools at that time were unthought of, and Trinity College, an essentially Protestant corporation, had practical control of all higher education. A certain amount of such education, however, was a matter of necessity to the Irish Catholics if they were to preserve the Faith permanently, and hence the system of hedge schools arose which for several generations kept up, however rudely, the cause of free education in Ireland. During the seventeenth and the early part of the eighteenth centuries the great majority of the Irish secular priesthood received their education in the clandestine hedge schools. In a visitation of the diocese of Raphoe in 1677, it is so stated, that of fourteen priests only one had ever been outside his native diocese, and the report adds that " they had learned superficially grammar and poetry,” i.e., Latin, and, after the manner of the country, some cases of conscience.” A knowledge of Latin, at least sufficient to read it, and enough of moral theology to solve the ordinary cases of conscience, were the course required for the Irish priesthood in the seventeenth century, and even that could only be attained with the greatest labor. It was not that the Catholics of the persecuted land were indifferent to knowledge, but that its pursuit was legally barred to them, and it was only by stealth that they could venture to hand down the elements of knowledge from generation to generation. In the recent work of a Russian Nihilist, Stepniak's “ Russia under the Czars," the author gives what he regards as a fearful instance of governmental cruelty. He tells how a party of students had been deported to a remote frontier town, and kept under police surveillance while allowed personal freedom. To beguile the monotony they organized a class for mutual instruction, but after a while the suspicions of the chief of police were aroused, and he summarily forbade the continuance of the lectures. To the indignant Russian such inhumanity seemed too gross to be believed, and he quotes it as an instance of the barbarian nature of Russian despotism. The rule of the Russian police captain was, however, for nearly three hundred years the exact system publicly carried out by the English Government in Ireland.
The colleges for the education of Irish priests, which had been founded in different parts of Catholic Europe, must be reckoned among the means by which the Faith was kept alive during the long centuries of the Penal Laws. The number of priests they actually supplied, however, was a very small one. The Irish College at Rome, founded by Cardinal Ludovisi, maintained and educated eight students, those of Salamanca, Santiago, Lisbon, and Alcala about six or seven each, and that of Bordeaux something over twenty. These were the chief colleges from which the Irish
clergy could draw recruits; but the various religious orders, Jesuits, Franciscans, Dominicans, and Augustinians, had also numerous Irish students in their houses on the continent. The main body of the clergy had to be content with whatever instruction it could find at home, and some touching accounts remain of the efforts made by the persecuted people to secure for themselves a higher education. Dr. Plunket, the martyr Primate, retrenched his plain food and wore no cloth but frieze, for the purpose of supporting three Jesuits as teachers in the academy which he established in Drogheda in 1670, during a period of unusual toleration. One of the professors was employed in teaching theology, his pupils being all priests who had no previous opportunities of instruction beyond those afforded by the elementary Latin schools during the reign of Cromwell. The fact that in a single diocese no less than fifty ordained priests were thus enrolled as students, shows to what straits the Church had been brought in Ireland. The other professors taught the usual classic course to about two hundred boys, nearly a quarter being Protestants of good families.
It was only with the utmost difficulty that the school could be supported, as the bulk of the pupils were incapable of contributing anything to the maintenance of their teachers. Even this modest establishment, however, was not suffered to exist beyond three years, when an edict of the Government suppressed it, and compelled the Primate himself to take refuge in the mountains of his diocese to escape arrest. A similar fate befell a Catholic school which had been set up near Dublin, and Catholics were even forbidden to reside in the latter city unless they had been already established there. The Government was fully resolved that if it could not Protestantize its Catholic subjects, at least it could make them ignorant of human learning, and during a long century this policy was rigorously carried out.
While prohibiting the exercise of Catholic worship, the Government of Charles neglected no opportunity of raising divisions among the Catholics. It is significant of the nature of the warfare against Catholicity that, while the Government professed to regard the doctrines of the Church with abhorrence, it was always ready to support any priest who might revolt against his superiors. In Derry a priest named O'Mulderig had been named Vicar Apostolic, but was subsequently deposed for various crimes. Though still professing himself a Catholic, he did not hesitate to call the Government to maintain him in his position as a Catholic prelate, and the required aid was at once given him by the arrest of the priest appointed to take his place. At the beginning of the reign of Charles, a Franciscan, Peter Walsh, who had adopted Jansenist views, attempted to make himself the representative of the whole