« السابقةمتابعة »
blow be eradicated, without leaving the seeds of future innovation. But as this exception would imply some apology for the ancient pagan persecutions, or for the extirpation of Christianity in China and Japan, it surely, on account of this detested consequence, ought to be rather buried in eternal silence and oblivion.
Though these arguments appear entirely satisfactory, yet such is the subtlety of human wit, that Gardiner and the other enemies to toleration were not reduced to silence; and they still found topics on which to maintain the controversy. The doctrine, said they, of liberty of conscience, is founded on the most flagrant impiety, and supposes such an indifference among all religions, such an obscurity in theological doctrines, as to render the church and magistrate incapable of distinguishing with certainty the dictates of heaven from the mere fictions of human imagination. If the divinity reveals principles to mankind, he will surely give a criterion by which they may be ascertained ; and a prince who knowingly allows these principles to be perverted or adulterated is infinitely more criminal than if he gave permission for the vending of poison, under the shape of food, to all his subjects. Persecution may indeed seem better calculated to make hypocrites than converts; but experience teaches us that the habits of hypocrisy often turn into reality; and the children at least, ignorant of the dissimulation of their parents, may happily be educated in more orthodox tenets. It is absurd, in opposition to considerations of such unspeakable importance to plead the temporal and frivolous interests of civil society, and if matters be thoroughly examined, even that topic will not appear so universally certain in favor of toleration, as by soine it is represented. Where sects arise whose fundamental principle on all sides is to execrate and abhor each other, what choice has the magistrate left but to take part, and by rendering one sect entirely prevalent, to restore, at least for a time, the public tranquillity. The political body, being here sickly, must not be treated as if it were in a state of sound health ; and an affected neutrality in the prince, or even a cool preference, may serve only to encourage the hopes of all the sects, and keep alive their animosity: ... and if persecution of any kind be admitted, the most bloody and violent will surely be allowed the most justifiable, as the most effectual. Imprisonments, fines, confiscations, whippings, serve only to irritate the sects; but the stake, the wheel, and the gibbet must soon terminate in the extirpation or banishment of all the heretics inclined to give disturbance, and in the entire silence and submission of the rest.
The arguments of Gardiner, being more agreeable to the cruel bigotry of Mary and Philip, were better received ; and though Pole pleaded, as is affirmed, the advice of the emperor, who recommended it to his daughter-in-law not to exercise violence against the Protestants, and desired her to consider his own example, who, after endeavoring through his whole life to extirpate heresy, had in the end reaped nothing but disappointment, the scheme of toleration was entirely rejected. It was determined to let loose the laws in their full vigor against the reformed religion; and England was soon filled with scenes of horror which have ever since rendered the Catholic religion the object of general detestation, and which proved that no human depravity can equal revenge and cruelty covered with the mantle of religion.
THE ANGLICAN CHURCH UNDER ELIZABETH.
(From “ History of England.”) Of all the European churches which shook off the yoke of papal authority, no one proceeded with so much reason and moderation as the Church of England: an advantage which had been derived partly from the interposition of the civil magistrate in this innovation, partly from the gradual and slow steps by which the Reformation was conducted in that kingdom. Rage and animosity against the Catholic religion was as little indulged as could be supposed in such a revolution ; the fabric of the secular hierarchy was maintained entire; the ancient liturgy was preserved, so far as was thought consistent with the new principles ; many ceremonies, become venerable from age and preceding use, were retained ; the splendor of the Romish worship, though removed, had at least given place to order and decency ; the distinctive habits of the clergy, according to their different ranks, were continued: no innovation was admitted merely from spite and opposition to former usage: and the new religion, by mitigating the genius of the ancient superstition, and rendering it more compatible with the peace and interests of society, had preserved itself in that happy medium which wise men have always sought, and which the people have so seldom been able to maintain.
MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS.
( From “ History of England.”) Thus perished, in the forty-fifth year of her age, and the nineteenth of her captivity in England, Mary, Queen of Scots
a woman of great accomplishments both of body and mind, natural as well as acquired; but unfortunate in her life, and during one period very unhappy in her conduct. The beauties of her person and graces of her air combined to make her the most amiable of women, and the charms of her address and con. versation aided the impression which her lovely figure made on the hearts of all beholders. Ambitious and active in her temper, yet inclined to cheerfulness and society ; of a lofty spirit, constant and even vehement in her purpose, yet polite, and gentle, and affable in her demeanor, she seemed to partake only so much of the male virtues as to render her estimable, without relinquishing those soft graces which compose the proper ornament of her sex.
In order to form a just idea of her character, we must set aside one part of her conduct, while she abandoned herself to the guidance of a profligate man; and must consider these faults — whether we admit them to be imprudences or crimes — as the result of inexplicable though not uncommon inconstancy in the human mind, of the frailty of our nature, of the violence of passion, and of the influences which situations, and sometimes momentary incidents, have on persons whose principles are not thoroughly confirmed by experience and reflection. Enraged by the ungrateful conduct of her husband, seduced by the treacherous counsel of one in whom she reposed confidence, transported by the violence of her own temper, which never lay sufficiently under the guidance of discretion, she was betrayed into actions which may with some difficulty be accounted for, but which admit of no apology, nor even of alleviation. An enumeration of her qualities might carry the appearance of a panegyric; an account of her conduct must in some parts wear the aspect of severe satire and invective.
(From “ History of England.”) THERE are few great personages in history who have been more exposed to the calumny of enemies, and the adulation of friends, than Queen Elizabeth ; and yet there is scarcely any whose reputation has been more certainly determined by the unanimous consent of posterity. The unusual length of her administration and the strong features of her character were able to overcome all prejudices; and obliging her detractors to abate much of their invectives, and her admirers somewhat of their panegyrics, have at last, in spite of political factions, — and, what is more, of religious animosities, - produced a uniform judgment with regard to her conduct.
Her vigor, her constancy, her magnanimity, her penetration, vigilance, address, are allowed to merit the highest praises, and appear not to have been surpassed by any person who ever filled a throne. A conduct less rigorous, less imperious, more sincere, more indulgent to her people, would have been requisite to form a perfect character. By the force of her mind she controlled all her more active and stronger qualities, and prevented them from running into excess. Her heroism was exempt from temerity, her frugality from avarice, her friendship from partiality, her active temper from turbulency and a vain ambition. She guarded not herself with equal care or equal success from lesser infirmities — the rivalship of beauty, the desire of admiration, the jealousy of love, and the sallies of anger.
Her singular talents for government were founded equally on her temper and her capacity. Endowed with a great command over herself she soon obtained an uncontrolled ascendant over her people ; and while she merited all their esteem by her real virtues, she also engaged their affections by her pretended ones. Few sovereigns succeeded to the throne in more difficult circumstances, and none ever conducted the government with such uniform success and felicity. Though unacquainted with the practice of toleration -- the true secret for managing religious factions — she preserved her people, by her superior prudence, from those confusions in which theological controversy had involved all the neighboring nations; and though her enemies were the most powerful princes of Europe, the most active, the most enterprising, the least scrupulous, she was able by her vigor to make deep impression on their states. Her own greatness meanwhile remained unimpaired. ...
When we contemplate her as a woman, we are apt to be struck with the highest admiration of her great qualities and extensive capacity, but we are also apt to require some more softness of disposition, some greater lenity of temper, some of those amiable weaknesses by which her sex is distinguished. But the true method of estimating her merit is to lay aside all these considerations, and consider her merely as a rational being placed in authority, and intrusted with the government of mankind.