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released, may be justly attributed, not to any fear of the Pope, but partly to the difficulty of changing long established laws, even when they are acknowledged to be useless or pernicious ; partly to a resolution formed by a great number of our fellow subjects, to resist any measure whatsoever favourable to any class of Dissenters; and partly to the irritation which has beeu produced by the peculiar circunstances under which the measure of Catholic Emancipation, as it is called, has been brought forward.
The protracted discussion of that measure has had the effect of making all England ‘ring from side to side' with the names and actions of Gregory VII. and Innocent III. We shall conclude this article by stating the reasons which induce us to believe, that if the authority of the See of Rome were totally annihilated, the opposition to Catholic Emancipation would not be sensibly diminished.
The opponents of Catholic Emancipation may be divided into four classes ; though many belong to more than one class, and not a few may, with equal propriety, be assigned to every class. We will consider these four classes in their proper order.
The first class comprizes the members of the present administration, and their political adherents. We believe that our readers, of all sects and parties, will acknowledge, that whether Catholic Emancipation be a good or a bad measure, it is the interest of the present administration not only to prevent it from taking place, but also to render the supporters of it odious in the eyes of that people to whose voice the Sovereign of a free people is compelled to attend in the choice of his ministers. With such persons, it is evidently fruitless to enter into any discussion of the objections to that measure. Many of theni, indeed, candidly acknowledge in private, that these objections have no real solidity, and that their own opposition to Catholic Emancipation is caused by circumstances merely of a temporary nature.
In the second class, we place all persons who resolutely and blindly oppose every innovation in the constitution of the country; and whose mouths are full of the old adages, Nolumus leges Anglice mulari-Stat super rius antiquas-Mcddle not with them. that are given to change, &c. To this class belong many of the sages of the law; an order of men which, in every country, is apt to consider the existing order of things as the most perfect model of political wisdom; to adhere closely to every established error; and to tremble at every proposition of improvement. If the Catholics could be persuaded to renoun the spiritual ani
thority of the Pope, there remains the declaration against transubstantiation and the invocation of saints, besides all the laws which affect Dissenters in general. It is not to be supposed that persons of this description will ever willingly consent to the repeal of a considerable number of statutes, which our ancestors, who were so much better judges of these matters than we are, thought necessary to the prescrvation of the constitu:ion.
The third class consisis chiefly of most of the clergy of the Established Church, and of such of the laity as aspire to the character of Highchurch men. The members of this class are adverse to the admission of any persons who do not profiss the religion of the State, to offices of trust and emolument. Many of them do not scruple to maintain, that Dissenters, of all sorts and conditions, must, from the nature of things, be enemics to the government of their country: A Presbyterian Chancellor would not be less offensive in their eyes, perhaps more offensive to several of them, than a Catholic Chancellor. Instead et rais. ing the Catholics even to the political situation of the Protestant Dissenters, they desire to depress the Protestant Di-senters to the political situation of the Catholics. * Of the numerous pamphlets on this subject written by clergymen of the Church of England which we have seen, we recollect only one, in which the admission of Protestant Dissenters to ofiices is recommended; while the exclusion of Catholics from them is defended. Mrle Mesurier, in his Sequel to the Scrious Examination into the lioman (atholic Claims, (p. 68), produces the following passage from Selclen's Talle Talk. • The Protestants in France bear office in • the state, because, though their religion is different, yet they " acknowledge no other king but the king of France. The l'un • pists in England,- they must have a king of their own, a Pepe, • that must do something in our kingdom; therefore, there is no • reason they should enjoy the same privileges.' On these words Mr le Mesurier remarks~ This is a most just and true distinc• tion. Protestants own no foreign heud of their church, there«fore they have no temptation to overset the government under
" which * Observations on the Roman Catholic Question, by Lord Kenyon,
The most effectual way, therefore, of affordir security to ar Established Church, is to restrict to its members the possession
of that power, which, if placed in other hands, would endurger • it. Therefore it is required, in this country, that not only the Sis. • vereign, but all persons appointed to cffices of power and trust, 's should be of the Established Religion.' It this doctile can be clearly proved, it seems to be a Lecdless waste of time and labour, to duell upon the particular objections to the admission of Cathclics to offices of power and trust.
I which they live, if not molested.' A person better acquainted v.ith the theory than with the practice of dialectics, would naturally infer froin Mr le Mesurier's words, that it' Catholics did not own a foreign head of their church, he would be willing to admit then to offices in the state, as well as Protestant Dissenters. A passage which occurs at the very threshold of his writings on this subject, clearly demonstrates the erroneousness of such an interence. I will go farther, and venture to express my opinion, that • such is the general spirit of the Romisli Church, such is the ! tondency of all the institutions and doctrines which are peculiar • to it, that it can never with safety be admitted to more than • a toleration in a Protestant state.' Scrious Examination, &c.
To the fourth class belong all persons who view the Roman Catholic religion with the eyes of the old Puritans. Under this class are comprehended many of the Protestant Dissenters of the inore ancient sects, * together with almost all the Methodists, taking the appellation in its most comprehensive sense. A Me thodist troubles himself very little about foreign influence' and • divided allegiance.' He considers a Catholic, not as a kind of rebel, but as a kind of idolater; a believer in free-will and jus lification by works, a suppresser of the scriptures, and a perse. cutor of the godly. When we observe the great and increasing influence of the Methodists, we do not hesitate to consider them as by far the niost formidable enemies to the Catholics; and, in, deed, as no despicable enemies of some other persons. It is principally by nicans of the Methodists that the popular cry of No-Popery has been excited.
Upon ihe whole, we firmly believe, that if the bulk of the Irish nation were members of the Greck or Armenian Church, instead of the Roman Church, the question of Emancipation would stand very nearly, if not exactly, where it stands at prcsent. There is another opinion upon this subject, which we have sometimes been tempted to adopt, and which we will submit to the consideration of our readers, without any commentary or explanation. We suspect, that if the four, or three, or two inillions of Irish Catholics were unanimously to offer to embrace any modification of Protestantism, except the Established Religion, many, if not most of those who feel, or affect to feel, such dreadful apprehensions of foreign influence,' would answer, in the words of Othello, " 'Tis better as it is.'
* See especially the Ilints of Philagatharches, reviewed in our Vol. XVII. p. 393.
Art. X. Childe Harold's Pilgrimage. A Rom.zint. By Lord
Byron. 4to. pp. 230. London, 1812.
ance at our tribunal ;-and this, though it bear a very affected title, is realls a volume of very considerable power, spirit and originality-which not only atones for the evil works of his nonage, but gives promise of a further excellence hereafter ; to which it is quite comfortable to look forward.
The most surprising thing about the present work, indeed, is, that it should please and interest so much as it does, with so few of the ordinary ingredients of interest or poetical delight. There is no story or adventure-and, indeed, no incident of any kind; the whole poem—to give a very short ac
it-consisting of a series of reflections made in travelling through a part of Spain and Portugal, and in sailing up the Mediterranean to the shores of Greece. These reflections, too, and the descriptions out of which they arise, are presented without any regular order or connexion-being sometimes strung upon the slender thread of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, and sometimes held together by the still slighter tie of the author's local situation at the time of writing. As there are no incidents, there cannot well be any characters ;—and accordingly, with the exception of a few national sketches, which form part of the landscape of his pilgrimage, that of the hero himself is the only delineation of the kind that is offered to the reader of this volume ;-and this hero, we must say, appears to us as oddly chosen as he is imperfectly employed. Childe Harold is a sated epicure--sickened vith the very fiulness of prosperity-oppressed with ennui, and stung with occasional remorse ;-his heart hardened by a long course of sensual indulgence, and his opinion of mankind degraded by bis acquaintance with the baser part of them. In this state he wanders over the fairest and most interesting parts of Europe, in the vain hope of stimulating his palsied sensibility by novelty, or at least of occasionally forgetting his mental anguish in the toils and perils of his journey, Like Milton's fiend, however, he sees undelighted all delight, and passes on through the great wilderness of the world with a heart shut to all human sympathy, -sullenly despising the stir both of its business and its pleasures—but hating and despising Himself most of all, for beholding it with so litile emotion.
Lord Byron takes the trouble to caution his readers against supposing that he meant to shadow out his own character under the dark and repulsive traits of that which we have just exhibited; a caution which was surely unnecessary-though it is impossible
not to observe, that the mind of the noble author has been so far tinged by his strong conception of this Satanic personage, that the sentiments and reflections which he delivers in his own name, have all received a shade of the same gloomy and misanthropic colouring which invests those of his imaginary hero. The general strain of those sentimients, too, is such a9 we shou!' have thought very little likely to attract popularity, in the present temper of this country. They are not only complexionally dark and disdainful, but run directly counter to very many of our national passions, and most favoured propensities. Lord Byron speaks with the most unbounded contempe of the Portuguese-with despondence of Spain—and in a very slighting and sarcastic manner of wars, and victories, and military heroes in general. Neither are his religious opinions more orthodox, we apprehend, than his politics ; for he not only speaks without any respect of priests, and creeds, and dogmas of all descriptions, but doubts very freely of the immortality of the soul, and other points as fundamiental.
Such are some of the disadvantages under which this poem lays claim to the public favour į and it will be readily understood that we think it has no ordinary merit, when we say, that we have little doubt that it will find favour, in spite of these disa advantages. Its chief excellence is a singular freedom and boldness, both of thought and expression, and a great occasional force and felicity of diction, which is the more pleasing that it does not appear to be the result either of long labour or humble imitation. There is, indeel, a tone of self-willed independence and originality about the whole composition-a certain plain manliness and strength of manner, which is infinitely refreshing after the sickly affectations of so many modern writers; and reconciles us not only to the asperity into which it sometimes degenerates, but even in some degree to the unamiableness upon which it constantly borders. We do not know, indeed, whether there is not something piquant in the very novelty and singularity of that cast of misanthropy and universal scorn, which we have already noticed as among the repulsive features of the composition. It excites a kind of curiosity, at least, to see how objects, which have been usually presented under so different an aspect, appear through so dark a medium ; and undoubtedly gives great effect to the flashes of emotion and suppressed sensibility that occasionally burst through the gloon. The best parts of the poem, accordingly, are those which embody those stern and disa dainful reflexions, to which the autlior seems to recur with unfeigned cordiality and eagerness--and through which we think we can sometimes discern the strugglings of a gentler feeling, to