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it is exercised decline in self-respect, in public spirit, and in religious principle.*
We are next to consider—which will occupy however far shorter space - the legal and constitutional bearings of this
matter. Is there any pretext for saying, that such sacerdotal interference in elections as we have been defending, comes under the legal category of undue influence and intimidation ? Of course if a priest should threaten an elector with any temporal infliction (popular persecution or the like) as likely to follow from his vote- this would be condemned by the law; but then it would also be condemned by the Church. Again, so far as anything which a priest may say, by exciting tumult and disturbance, places physical obstacles in the way of electors securely exercising their franchise, such language (if agency were proved) would void an election; but it would also expose the said priest to ecclesiastical disapproval. Then further, much might be said by a lawyer for the opinion, that any infliction or menace of ecclesiastical censures on those who vote in one particular way, would rank legally under the head of undue influence: and this is one reason indeed, out of several which might be given, why one can hardly imagine it expedient under any circumstances, that the supreme ccclesiastical authority should direct such menace or infliction. On the other hand, we must be allowed to say that never was there a shallower dictum, than that quoted with approval by Judge Keogh from Judge Fitzgerald (Judgment, p. 6).
In the proper exercise of influence upon the electors, the priest may counsel, advise, recommend, entreat, and point out the true line of moral duty, and explain why one candidate should be preferred to another, and throw the whole weight of his character into the scale. But he may not appeal to the fears or terrors, or superstition of those he addresses. Не must not hold out hopes of reward here or hereafter, and he must not use threats of temporal injury, or of disadvantage, or of punishment hereafter. He must not, for instance, threaten to excommunicate or withhold the sacraments, or to expose the party to any other religious disability, or denounce the voting for any particular candidate as a sin, or an offence involving punishment here or hereafter. If he does so with a view to influence a voter or to affect an election, the law considers him guilty of undue influence.
Now, we have nothing to say against this, as regards "threats of temporal injury”; nor shall we here dispute it, as regards
* According to Mr. Mitchell Henry, Judge Keogh, when himself a candidate, described the Irish landlords as “the most heartless, the most thriftless, the most indefensible landocracy on the face of the earth.” He then spoke as violently and unreasonably in one direction, as he now speaks in the other.
“threatening to excommunicate or to withhold the sacraments.” But how as to threats of punishment in another world? No Catholic voter can believe that he will be punished in another world, except for conduct which he believes to be a violation of duty in this world ; and vice versâ. It is unspeakably absurd therefore to draw a distinction, between the priest's representing an act as morally wrong, and his representing it as obnoxious to future punishment. Our excellent contemporary" the Tablet" quotes (Aug. 3) two contemporary writers, in criticism of Judge Fitzgerald's curious dictum :
A correspondent of the “Pall-Mall Gazette,” signing himself “ Leguleius”
puts the distinction laid down by Judge Fitzgerald thus. says to an elector ‘it is your moral duty to vote for my candidate.' The priest, says Judge Fitzgerald, is within the proper exercise of his influence. * But,' answers the elector, “if I disregard my moral duty, what then?'
Then,' says the priest, ‘you will suffer for it hereafter.' If the priest says this, the law, according to the same Judge, considers him guilty of undue influence." “Can anything," asks the writer, “be more childish than such a distinction ?” Supposing that both parties in the conversation are believers, the statement about a man's moral duty implies that he will suffer for the breach of it. . . . . Even the “Standard” admits that we“ certainly cannot punish a man for saying “if you vote for A you will be doing the Church so cruel a wrong, that God will certainly damn you ;' any more than for saying, "if you vote for B, you will help to upset the rights of property, and your land will be taken from you by socialist legislation.”” But the
Standard” goes on to say, we can punish him for saying to the voter if you vote for A, I will send you to hell,'
which last, as the “ Standard” supposes, priests really intend, and are understood, to say. Nothing but the truly disgraceful ignorance of Catholic doctrine which prevails among English Protestants, could make us suppose it possible, that this suggestion of the “ Standard's” is other than a deliberate and wilful falsehood. But none the less, we avail ourselves of its distinct testimony, as to the absolute legality of what priests really do.
Let us look at facts as they are. Take, in the first place, those questions which we have called “sacred.” An elector e.g. is induced by his priest to vote for that candidate, who alone will heartily support denominational education. Why there is no conviction more sincerely and profoundly entertained by any human being, than this elector's conviction, that what the priests of his Church teach him on the subject of denominational education is certainly true.* Or consider such
* For our own part we should of course add, “no conviction more reasonably entertained" : but in the text we are addressing non-Catholics.
"purely political” questions as those which concern tenantright. To resume our former illustration - it would be as absurd to say that Irish priests (while acting in the manner we have above upholden) are exercising undue influence in the matter, as it would have been twenty years ago to say that Mr. Cobden and his friends exercised undue influence against the corn laws. In real truth, there is no one class throughout the United Kingdom who labour with such heartiness and simplicity of intention as do Irish priests, in order that electors may vote conformably to their genuine and honest convictions. At the same time, it is a consoling thought, that this whole matter of voting has been so simplified by the Act of last Session. To our mind, the Ballot Bill was not only expedient, but rather imperatively called for. It has always seemed to us extreme tyranny, that a number of men should (wisely or unwisely) be intrusted with the franchise, and yet receive no security in its free and independent exercise.
As regards, indeed, the last Galway election,—there have not been wanting able writers in England, even among those most bitterly opposed to what they call sacerdotalism, who heartily admit the very certain and obvious truth, that, without using any influence which the law accounts undue, Captain Nolan would have triumphantly carried the day. Accordingly, a wellknown anti-christian (bút Theistic) writer, Mr. Greg-in a letter addressed, with his initials, to the “Pall-Mall Gazette of July 17th-suggests, almost in so many words, the disfranchisement of all Catholic voters throughout the Empire, or at all events throughout Ireland. Our statement will appear incredible; and we print therefore in full the concluding portion of his letter, italicising one sentence.
[The law) cannot righteously control or punish (the priest), nor (what is more to the present purpose) can any fair reasoner righteously blame him, for doing what in his eyes and according to his creed is simply his duty. He has a perfect right to say to a member of his congregation, “ You will be damned if you vote for the enemy of the Church,” provided he really thinks so and can find electors ignorant enough to believe him. You can scarcely inflict penalties upon him, for saying what he thinks, and for being surrounded by men who believe what he says.
Yet neither, it would seem, can the State acquiesce in the results of this its incapacity, nor sit down tamely under this conclusion. To do so-the Irish peasant and the Irish priests being alike blind believers in the power of the clergy to bind and loose in the future world, i. e. to save and to damu * -would practically give to the Pope, and his viceverent Cardinal Cullen, the
* It cannot be necessary for us to point out in detail the gross misconception of Catholic doctrine here implied.--Ep. D. R.
unchecked power of returning seventy devoted and fettered members to the English House of Commons ; a sufficient number, that is, to decide nearly every division, and therefore the entire direction of our policy. What does this mean in its extreme and naked, but still quite possible, practical completeness ? Merely that we should admit into the heart of our legislative and administrative system an ever-present casting vote, always, and by the very conditions of its existence, given at the dictate not only of an alien but of a necessarily hostile potentate, determined by no considerations of the interests of Great Britain, but solely by a consideration for the interests of Rome. If those seventy members were returned by agents of the Emperor of Germany or the Sovereign of France, we should realize the position. Why do we shrink from realizing it now?
Wherein, then, does the spiritual or mental influence exercised by the Irish priest differ radically from all the other forms of undue pressure we have sketched, and why is it so much more obnoxious ? Simply, it would seem, first, in that it is so much more powerful and irresistible, the Irish Catholic being such an out-and-out believer ; and secondly, that it alone is wielded, not by one or other of the many forms of British opinion, but by a foreign power, whose only care about Britain is to embarrass and coerce her.
There is obviously only one logical way out of the difficulty, and this no one dares to look in the face. We shall see what the courts of law do with the hierarchy under Judge Keogh's judgment. But this will scarcely decide the matter. The priesthood have done their work brutally and clumsily this time. They will be more wary and skilful on the next occasion.
As long as Catholics have votes, and are sincere believers in their Church, and ignorant and mentally dependent, and more religious than secularly patriotic, so long will the priesthood, in the exercise of their legitimate functions and their fancied duty, determine Irish elections.
This view, extreme though it be, is at last but a partial application of Professor Huxley's doctrine, that “it is not liberal to tolerate anything which," like the Catholic doctrinal system, “stands against the interests of mankind."* We will not here however deal with what the Professor holds in the abstract, but with what Mr. Greg advocates in the concrete.
And this certainly illustrates what we must call the preternatural infatuation, which not unfrequently seizes the ablest unbeliever, when he contemplates that divine edifice the Christian Church. Let it be observed, that what Mr. Greg gravely proposes, is not the going back to that state of things which immediately preceded the Act of 1829, but to the condition of a much earlier period. He would not merely expel Irish Catholic members, but would disfranchise all Irish Catholic electors. If he had his way, Englishmen should govern the
* Passages will be found of this bearing quoted from Professor Huxley, in our number for last April, pp. 437-8; and in our last number, p. 17.
most Catholic nation in Europe * by placing all local power in the hands of that small minority, who detest and despise the national religion. What would he himself say, if a similar plan had been gravely proposed by an Austrian, some twenty years ago, for the government of Italy? or if it were now gravely proposed by some Russian, for the government of Poland ? Were it really true in fact there cannot be a greater mistake) that Irish Catholicity is essentially inimical to English interests, it would obviously follow, that England cannot, without monstrous injustice, retain Catholic Ireland in subjection.
Before entering on more generous and worthy reasons for the 'repudiation of Mr. Greg's amazing proposal, let us look at its necessary consequences; though in this it is difficult to avoid a certain appearance of unreality, because the proposal itself is so extravagantly unpractical. We should have had difficulty indeed in thinking that he had fully weighed his words before publication : but then he is a singularly grave and unimpassioned writer; and there are several others, who do not indeed speak quite so openly, but who are in the habit nevertheless of using language concerning Irish Catholics, which (so far as we see), has no consistent and comprehensible meaning short of Mr. Greg's. It will really therefore be serviceable to contemplate in the concrete this proposed legislation, however unreal the whole discussion may appear. And that we may bring home to English apprehension what Mr. Greg's plan really involves, let us make a very intelligible (however violently improbable) supposition. France becomes an intensely Catholic country, is governed by a zealous Catholic Bourbon, and is by far the most powerful nation in the civilized world. She subjects England to her dominion, and places all local power in the hand of English Catholics : England in fact being governed, supremely by a French legislature sitting at Paris or Versailles, and subordinately by a Parliament of English Catholics guarded by French bayonets in London. This is a state of things certainly not more than parallel to the Irish government proposed by Mr. Greg. If our readers will imagine the ineffable bitterness and indignation which would possess the English mind on such an lıypothesis,- let them only further suppose the Irish mind similarly inflamed, and estimate the inevitable result.
The first hint of such a measure would so set Irishmen on fire, that its actual passing would be the signal of spontaneous and universal insurrection. The English are prepared for this, and have military forces at hand which thoroughly crush it. It
* Mr. Greg admits that, under perfectly free voting, 70 out of the 100 Irish members would be zealous Catholics, devoted to the Holy See.