The king was at heart a Catholic; and yet the persecution of the Catholics is one of the most signal events of the times. We can scarcely conceive, in this age, of the spirit of distrust and fear which pervaded the national mind in reference to the Catholics. Every calumny was believed.
From the time at which the true spirit of Christianity, under the dominion of the popes, began to be corrupted, and experience taught what effects might be drawn from material worship, founded chiefly on pomp and a complication of religious ceremonies, the Roman Catholic clergy, especially those of Spain, have never ceased to multiply and vary the means of occupying the imagination of men with exterior acts of an apparently religious character.
Prince Ferdinand, who was in the Austrian service, and a long time Governor of Vienna, was a Catholic, as he could not otherwise have enjoyed that office. He was of a very superior character to the Duke, his brother.
It was very fine indeed, tho' to our heretical feelings the interest lies as much in the romantic associations connected with all the Roman Catholic ceremonies as in anything better. It is not in human nature not to feel more devotion in the imposing solemnity of such a church.
First converted by the Catholics, he threw down the idols, broke the tabus, cleaned out the native priests, executed a few of the recalcitrant ones, and sent all his subjects to church. "Next he fell for the traders, who developed in him a champagne thirst, and he shipped off the Catholic priests to New Zealand.
The priest ruins all, for while your friend seems to agree with you they are so easily led yet the priest will secure his vote to a certainty. So long as a heretic power is at the head, so long Ireland will be discontented. If the country were under the rule of a Roman Catholic power, the people of Ireland would be satisfied with any laws whatever. They would not grumble at anything.
I do not know that it said more on this delicate subject than the English Milton has said; but then Milton did not write for a Roman Catholic community, nor adopt a style likely to captivate the working classes. Madame de Grantmesnil's first book was deemed an attack on the religion of the country, and captivated those among the working classes who had already abjured that religion.
Such was the feeling of William Herbert, Earl of Powis, who was generally regarded as the chief of the Roman Catholic aristocracy, and who, according to Oates, was to have been prime minister if the Popish plot had succeeded. John Lord Bellasyse took the same view of the state of affairs.
Father Hugh Bourke was sent to Spain, and Sir Richard Belling to Rome, where Innocent X, had recently succeeded to that generous friend of the Catholic Irish.
This preliminary chapter would be incomplete were we to forget to bear testimony to the fidelity with which the early Roman Catholic and Protestant missionaries laboured at the great task devolving upon them among the pioneers in the Canadian wilderness.