Page images
PDF
EPUB

the fury natural to men exasperated by many injuries, cut off a good number, and compelled the rest to fly in the utmost consternation to the island of Cu. bagua. The small volony settled there on account of the pearl-fishery, catching the panic with which their countrymen had been seized, abandoned the island, and not a Spaniard remained in any part of the continent, or adjacent islands, from the Gulf of Paria to the borders of Darien. Astonished at such & succession of disasters, Las Casas was asbained to show his face after this fatal termination of all bis splendid schemes. He shut himself up in the convent of the Dominicans at St. Domingo, and soon after assumed the habit of that order.

“ Though the expulsion of the colony from Cumana happened in the year one thousand five hundred and twenty-one, I have chosen to trace the progress of Las Casas's negotiations from the first rise to their final issue without interruption. His system was the object of long and attentive discussion; and though his efforts in behalf of the oppressed Americans, partly from his own rashness and imprudence, and partly from the malevolent opposition of his adversaries, were not attended with that success which he promised with too sanguine confidence, great praise is due to bis humane activity, which gave rise to various regulations that were of some benefit to that unhappy people.” -History of America, book iii.

“Cortes, astonished and enraged at their obstinacy, (the Tlascalans,) was going to overturn their altars and cast down their idols with the same violent hand as at Tempoalla, if Father Bartholomew de Olmedo, chaplain to the expedition, had not checked his inconsiderate impetuosity. He represented the imprudence of such an attempt in a large city newly reconciled and filled with people no less superstitious than warlike; he declared that the proceeding at Tempoalla bad always appeared to him precipitate and unjust; that religion was not to be propagated by the sword or infidels to be converted by violence; that other weapons were to be employed in this ministry: patient instruction must enlighten the understanding, and pious example captivate the heart, before men could be induced to abandon error and embrace the truth.? .. At a time when the rights of conscience were little understood in the Christian world and the idea of toleration unknown, one is astonished to find a Spanish monk of the sixteenth century among the first advocates against persecution and in behalf of religious liberty. The remonstrances of an ecclesiastic no less respectable for wisdom than virtue had their proper weight with Cortes." - Ibid., book iv.

Having shown that the depopulation of America could not be attributed to the policy of the Spanish government, Robertson adds the remarks which we have cited in the text, and which declare that destruction still less imputable to any intolerant measures of the Catholic missionaries. He says in another place, “When the zeal of Philip II. established the inquisition in America in the year 1570, the Indians were exempted from the jurisdiction of that severe tribunal, and still continue under the inspection of their diocesans."-Ibid., book viii.

· Herrera, dec. 2, lib. x. c. 5; dec. 3, lib. ii. c. 3, 4, 5; Oviedo, Hist., lib. xix. c. 5; Go mara, c. 77; Davila Pudilla, lib. i. c. 97; Remisal, Hist. Gen., lib. xi. c. 22, 23.

* B. Diaz, c. lxxvii. p. 54; c. lxxxiii. p. 61.

[ocr errors]

If we examine attentively and impartially all the facts mentioned by the Presbyterian writer,-if at the same time we consider the number of hospitals established by the American Indians, the admirable missions of Paraguay, &c.— we cannot resist the conviction that there never was a fouler calumny than that wbich attributes to Christianity the destruction of the aboriginal people of the New World.

The Irish Massacre. The Irish massacre, in 1641, was the result of national much more than of religious animosities. Oppressed for a long time by the English, robbed of their possessions, thwarted in their manners, customs, and religion, reduced almost to the condition of slaves by haughty and tyrannical mastera, the Irish were at length driven to despair, and resolved upon acts of vengeance. Tbey were not, however, the aggressors in this borrible tragedy; they were objects of violence themselves before they inflicted it upon others. Millon, in his Recherches sur l'Irlande, appended to his translation of Arthur Young, mentions some interesting facts which it may bo useful to lay before the reader.

Some of the Irish having taken up arms in consequence of the oppressive system which weighed upon their unhappy country, a military force was ordered to march against them and to exterminate them. “* The officers and soldiers,' says Castlehaven, ó without discriminating rebels from subjects, killed indiscriminately in many places men, women, and children; which exasperated the rebels, and induced them to commit in turn the same cruelties upon the English. It is evident, from the assertion of Lord Castlehaven, that the English were the aggressors by order of their commanders, and that the crime of the Irish was their having followed so barbarous an example,

“I cannot believe,' adds Castlehaven, that there were at that time in Ireland, without the walls of the towns, a tenth part of the British subjects whom Temple and others mention to have been killed by the Irish. It is evident that he repeats two or three times, in different places, the names of persons and the same circumstances, and that he puts down some hundreds as having been massacred at that time who lived for several years afterward. It is therefore right that, notwithstanding the unfounded calumnies which some have circulated against the Irish, I should do justice to their nation, and declare that it was never the intention of their chiefs to authorize the cruelties which were practised among them.'

“ The example of the Scotch in a great degree caused the Irish Catholics to rebel, who were already dissatisfied at seeing themselves on the eve of either renouncing their religion or quitting their country. A petition to this effect, signed by many thousand Protestants of Ireland and presented to the English parliament, justified their fears. It had been already boasted of in public that before the end of the year there would not be a single Papist in Ireland; this produced its effect in England. The king having by a forced condescension surrendered his Irish affairs to the parliament, that tribunal made an ordinance on the 8th December which promised the entire extirpation of the Irish. It was decreed that Popery would not be any longer suffered in either Ireland or any other of his majesty's states. This parliament likewise granted, in Feb

[ocr errors]

" MacGeoghegan, p. 574.

66

ruary following, to English adventurers, in consideration of a certain sum of money, two millions five hundred thousand acres of profitable lands in Ireland, without including bogs, woods, or barren mountains, and this at a time when the number of landed proprietors implicated in the insurrection was exceedingly small. To satisfy the engagements entered into with the English, as above, many honest men who never conspired against the king or state were to be dispossessed, &c.

The Irish, particularly those of Ulster, had not forgotten the unjust confiscation of six whole counties within the forty years immediately preceding. They looked upon the new possessors as unjust possessors of the property of others, and ... the grief of these old proprietors was changed into revenge; they seized upon the houses, the flocks, and the furniture of the new-comers, whose fine and commodious habitations, erected on the lands of the Irish, were destroyed either by force or by the flames.

“Such were the first hostilities committed by the Irish against the English. No blood had yet been spilled. The English were the first aggressors, and, their example having been too closely followed by the Catholics of Ulster, the disorder soon became general throughout the kingdom. It was a national quarrel between the Irish Catholics and the English Protestants, which led, in 1641, to a dreadful scene of bloodshed. MacGeogbegan asserts that six times as many Catholics as Protestants were killed on this occasion :-1. Because the former were scattered through the country and consequently more exposed to the rage of a licentious goldiery, while the latter were for the most part entrenched in fortified towns and castles, which protected them against the violence of a maddened populace. Those who resided in the country retired upon the first alarm to the cities and other places of security, where they remained during the war; some passed over to England or Scotland; so that very few perished, with the exception of those who had been overtaken by the first fury of the rebels. The country-people were put to the sword by the English soldiery without distinction of age or sex. 2. The number of Catho. lics who suffered death from the Cromwellians on the charge of participating in the massacre was so small that they could not have possibly put to death so great a number of Protestants.2

“So soon as the war bad ended, courts of justice were held to convict the murderers of the Protestants. The whole who were convicted amounted to one hundred and forty Catholics, who were chiefly of the lower classes; though, their enemies being the judges, witnesses were suborned to prosecute, and several among those found guilty declared themselves innocent of the crimes for which they were sentenced to suffer. If similar investigations had takon place against the Protestants, and witnesses from among the Catholics admitted against them, nine parliamentarians out of every ten would have been inevitably convicted (before a fair tribunal) of murder upon the Catholics.'3

Thus do we find that those sanguinary results which have been charged

t

Ibid., p. 576.

* MacGeogheghan, p. 575, &c.
• Millon, Recherches sur l'Irlande. See MacGeogheghan, loc. cit.

upon a religion of peace and humanity were produced by the passions of men, by their animosities and interests, often quite foreign to the question of religion. What would pbilosophy say if it were accused nowadays of baring erected the scaffolds of Robespierre? Was it not in the name of philosophy that so many innocent victims were slaughtered, as the name of religion has been abused for the perpetration of crime? How many acts of cruelty and intolerance may be objected to those very Protestants who boast of being alone in practising the philosophy of Christianity! The penal statutes against the Irish Catholics, called Laws of Discorery, equal in oppression and surpass in immorality all the legislation with which Catholic countries have ever been reproached. By these laws,

1. All Roman Catholics were completely disarmed.
2. They were declared incompetent to acquire lands.
3. Entails were made void, and divided equally among the children.

4. If a child abjured the Catholic faith, he inherited the paternal estate, though the youngest of the family.

5. If the son abjured his religion, the father lost all control over his property, receiving only a pension from his estate, which fell to the son.

6. No Catholic could take a lease for more than thirty-one years.

7. Unless two-thirds of the yearly value were reserved, an informant could obtain the benefit of the lease.

8. A priest who celebrated mass was transported, and, if he returned, was hung.

9. If a Catholic owned a horse worth over five pounds sterling, it was confiscated to the benefit of the informer.

10. According to a regulation of Lord Hardwick, Catholics were deelared incapable of lending money on mortgage.'

It is worthy of remark that this law was not passed till five or six years after the death of King William,—that is, when the disturbances in Ireland had ceased, and England had reached its climax of enlightenment, civilization, and prosperity. It must not be supposed that in those days of excitement, when the best men are sometimes led too far, the true members of the Catholic Church approved the excesses of the party that bore their name. The massacre of St. Bartholomew was a subject of tears even at the Court of Mediei and in the chamber of Charles IX.

“I have been informed,” says Brantome, “that at the massacre of St. Bartholomew, Queen Isabella, not being aware of what was going on, retired to her chamber as usual, and heard nothing of the event until the next morning. On learning it, she exclaimed, “Alas! is my husband aware of this? *Yes, madam, it was answered her, he directs the whole affair!'Ob! how is that?' she rejoined. “What counsellors could have inspired bim with such a design? O, my God, I beseech thee to forgive him; for, if thou dost not take pity on him, I fear much that this error will not be pardoned him;' and, immediately taking her book of devotions, she began to pray God with tears in her eyes."2

· Travels of Arthur Young.

» Mémoires, tomne ii.

NOTE VV, (p. 632.) “ The summit of Mount St. Gothard," says Ramond, "is a granite level, bare, and surrounded with rocks of moderate height and very irregular form, which bound the view on every side and confine it within the most frightful solitude. Three small lakes, and the gloomy asylum of the capuchin monks, are the only objects that break the monotony of this desert region, which presents not the slightest appearance of vegetation. The profound silence which reigns there is something new and surprising to those who come from the plains below. Not the least murmur is to be heard in the place. The wind in its course meets with no foliage; but, when violent, it makes a plaintive sound along the pointed rock In vain would the traveller hope, by ascending these clills, to obtain a view of some inhabited country. Below is seen but a confu. sion of rocks and torrents, while in the distance are discerned only barren peaks covered with eternal snows, piercing the clouds which float over the valleys and often conceal them under an impenetrable veil. Nothing beyond this reaches the eye, except a dark-blue sky, which, sinking far below the horizon, completes the picture on all sides, and appears like an immense sea enveloping this mass of mountains.

“ The poor capuchins who reside at the asylum are during nine months of the year buried under the snow, which often accumulates, in one night, as high as the roof of their house and closes every entrance into the convent. In this case, they form an egress from the upper windows, which serve as doors. It is easy to conceive that they must frequently suffer from hunger and cold, and that, if any cenobites are entitled to assistance, they are assuredly of the number."2

Military hospitals trace their origin to the Benedictine monks. Every convent of that order supported a veteran soldier, and afforded him a retreat for the remainder of his life. By uniting these different benefactions in one, Louis XIV. established the Hôtel des Iuralide8,3 Thus has the religion of peace opened an asylum also for our old warriors.

NOTE WW, (p. 607.) It is very difficult to present an exact account of the colleges and hospitals, owing to the incompleteness of statistical and geographical works. Some give the population of a state, without inentioning the number of cities; others mention the number of parishes, omitting that of cities. The maps are covered with the names of towns, castles, and villages. The histories of particular provinces generally disregard statistical information, telling us only of the ancient wars of barons and of municipal rights. Ecclesiastical historians, also, are too circumscribed in their subjects, and dwell but little on facts of a gene

1 Traduct. des Lettres de Corre sur la Suisse.

. Such is the dictate of humanity, which, however, seems to have been little understood by the radical government of Switzerland, when, a few years ago, it robbed the heroic monks of Mount St. Bernard of their revenues. T.

: A magnificent institution, among the principal monuments of Paris, where veteran and infirm soldiers are provided with every comfort. See Part 3, b. 1, ch. 6. T.

« PreviousContinue »