« PredošláPokračovať »
The following documents, which we have been requested to publish, will speak for themselves, without any commentary of ours.
When a man so acute, and liberal withal, as the author of the “ History of New York” and the “ Sketch Book," should allow his prejudices to warp his judgment so far as to take for granted the existence of certain odious clauses (which had no existence) in an ancient parchment writing, exhibited to him, and which he did not, and probably could not read; it is no wonder that in a country like this, where such deplorable ignorance respecting the Catholic religion prevails, inultitudes should be found ever ready to swallow the most absurd and incredible falsehoods, when that religion is in question. We willingly acquit Colonel Wildman of any intention to deceive Mr. Irving. Very likely he has been the dupe of some malignant foe of our Church, who wishing to pass himself off for an antiquary, skilled in deciphering ancient manuscripts, has repaid the hospitalities of Newstead by misleading its gallant host. We cannot doubt that Mr. Washington Irving will, after reading the following pages, redeem his pledge, by correcting, in the next edition of the “ Crayon Miscellany," the extraordinary mistake into which he has fallen. In doing so, however, he will be doing but partial justice to the Catholic body; for, to make ample and complete retribution, he ought to issue a leaf with his next edition omitting the paragraph complained of, with an instruction to holders of the previous editions, to cancel the leaf which contains it, and to substitute the other in its place.
We are enabled to state for the information of our readers, that an application was made to the Secretary of the Record Commission
(C. P. Cooper, Esq., Q.C.), and to the Augmentation Office, and the information obtained from the learned gentleman and from the office was to this effect : that all general pardons, however slight the offence, (even such, for instance, as a slight transgression of the then severe forest laws) would be worded in the manner in which the charter said to have been found in the brazen eagle was worded. The words which appear unnecessarily to have given so much scandal, viz., " pro omnimodus proditionibus, murdris, raptibus mulierum," are general words inserted in every general pardon of the period, and therefore do not even imply that the persons pardoned were guilty of any such crimes.
“ Charleston, Dec. 28th, 1836. “Dear Sir,-Number 2 of the Crayon Miscellany, containing Abbotsford and Newstead Abbey, printed in 1835, by Carey and Lea, of Philadelphia, was put into my hands by a respectable and pureminded Carolinian lady, who blushingly told me that even Washington Irving recorded a disgraceful historical fact against Catholicity, regarding an indulgence said to be granted to the Augustinian friars in the reign of one of the English kings.
“ Though a Presbyterian by birth, she said she never could believe that a number of the Christian priesthood of any country or age, were so notoriously depraved as this portion of your book represents them to have been. She asked me, whether, as a Catholic bishop, I knew of its truth from ecclesiastical history, or whether I believed the circumstance as stated. After reading pages 98, and 181, of “Newstead Abbey,' which runs thus :- This order (Augustinian) was originally simple, and abstemious in its mode of living, and exemplary in its conduct; but it would seem that it gradually lapsed into those abuses which disgraced too many of the wealthy monastic establishments, for there are documents amongst its archives, which intimate the preva. lence of gross misrule, and dissolute sensuality among its members. One of the parchment scrolls (found in the eagle of molten brass) throws rather an awkward light upon the kind of life led by the friars of Newstead. It is an indulgence granted to them for a certain number of months, in which plenary pardon is assured in advance for all kinds of crime, amongst which several of the most gross and sensual are speci. fically mentioned ;' I did not hesitate to assure her, on the faith of a Christian Bishop, that the statement appeared to me not only false, but
impossible: and wholly irreconcileable with the principles or practice of Roman Catholic theology, which I had taught in one of the first colleges of Europe, and which I learned in my youth, under some of the most eminent French and Irish professors.
“The reading of your Sketch Book’ impressed my mind favourably towards you, not only as a. polished scholar, but as a faithful writer (as far as a fair exercise of the imaginative faculties, which poets, novelists, and painters so freely, and sometimes so usefully, adopt) is compatible with historical details. But on this occasion you have left the region of amusing fiction, and called your book an historical notice; consequently I have a right to ask, as a man of honour, whether you have seen the documents, and satisfied yourself as to their authenticity, integrity, and veracity, according to the laws of sound criticism, and the rules of written testimony? If this abominable story issued from the press of the clerical Pandemonium at New York, which disgraces the moral dignity of a few individual American ministers, whose deathwarrant as to credibility has been already signed and sealed by Colonel Stone, and other enlightened Protestant citizens, I would not dwell upon the loathsome fable for a moment, but the mental gems of Geoffrey Crayon
‘Like orient pearls, at random strung,' find homes and hearts ready to enshrine them in the schools of youthful innocence, and on the shelves of philosophers and Christians, of all denominations and countries. It is, therefore, not only as a guardian of public morals, but as a fearless friend to historical truth, that I raise my voice, and am so sensitively slow in the belief of this infamous extract. May I hope, for your fame, that it was an unintentional error of fact, or a hasty view of some forged parchment which, like the feigned letter of Pope Gregory XVI., by that foolish fanatic M Ghee, was palmed upon an aristocratic audience at Exeter Hall, and believed for a few days in London and elsewhere. You know. from history, how
easy the execution of such a record could have been at former periods of British history. May I then respectfully, but firmly, as a British subject, and a Roman Catholic bishop, ask an explanation for what I conceive to be a libel on the faith and morality of millions, and a slander upon one of the ancient religious institutions of a portion of my country.
“Yours faithfully in Christ, * Washington Irving, Esq.
“WM. CLANCY, Bp., &c."
“Greenburgh, April 29th, 1837. “Dear Sir,-I must apologise to you for not having replied to your letter at an earlier date, but it was received at a hurried moment, during a hasty visit to town, and was mislaid among my papers, so that it has but just been found. I feel sincere and deep regret that anything in my writings should have given you the concern which you express, and am made conscious by it, that in the matter in question, I have written without sufficient circumspection. As to the passage cited by you from • Newstead Abbey,' they were taken from memoranda noted down after inspecting the document to which they relate. That document was found in the way I have stated, among the deeds and grants of the Abbey, and were considered genuine. I did not examine it particularly ; the part to which I have alluded, was pointed out to me by Colonel Wildman. As it is very possible there may have been some error or mis. apprehension in this matter, I shall write to Colonel Wildman on the subject, and if I find I have been under a mistake, will make a point of acknowledging and correcting it in a future edition.
“I can only add, that I have not been influenced in this matter by any feeling of hostility to the Roman Catholic Church, being perfectly free from anything of the kind, and regarding with the sincerest indignation and disgust the assaults made upon that Church by various bigots of the Protestant sects in this country. I have the honour to remain, very respectfully, your much obliged servant,
" WASHINGTON IRVING.” “ The Right Rev. Wm. Clancy, Bishop of Oriense, Coadjutor of Charleston diocese.”
“ Charleston, May 26th, 1837. “ Dear Sir,—On my return from the provincial council at Baltimore, I found your letter, dated Greenburg, April 29th, 1837, on my table. I regret that circumstances prevented you from answering my inquiry at earlier period, as it would be grateful to the assembled hierarchy, and clergy of the United States, even by a private communication, to learn that so enlightened and influential a writer 'regards with the sincerest indignation and disgust the assaults made upon the
Roman Catholic Church, by various bigots of the Protestant sects in this country. The object of my letter is partially attained by your candid and honourable declaration, that you did not examine the document particularly, and the promise of correction in another edition, if you have misstated the meaning of the original. You will in all probability, get no additional evidence from Colonel Wildman, if he be the same individual who directed your attention to it. As it is, I presume, a Latin parchment scroll, in the peculiar style and lettering of the supposed age of Leo X (clarum et venerabile nomen), I shall write to Dr. Lingard, the celebrated English historian, and also to Counsellor D'Alton, of Dublin, not less celebrated as an antiquarian, and ask either, or both of these gentlemen, to investigate its authenticity, and its exact meaning. So anxious am I to satisfy myself fully on the matter, that I should not hesitate, if my professional avocations ever called me to Europe, to visit that part of England, specifically for the purpose of ocular inspection. It would be a strange contradiction, if the same Pope who so sternly and justly refused a dispensation to the eighth Henry, who has been strongly but truly called a royal monster, would grant an indulgence in advance for all kinds of crime, to a religious order, who were bound by vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience. As this word indulgence is strangely misunderstood by Protestants, you will not refuse to learn what the Catholic Church understands by it. It is simply a remission or mitigation of those temporal punishments which the sinner still owes to the eternal justice, even after the forgiveness of the guilt of his offences; just like the act of St. Paul to the incestuous Corinthian whom he excommunicated (1 Cor. v); and in the second chapter of his second epistle, having been informed of the sorrow and repentance of the criminal, he tells the Corinthians, ' To whom ye forgive anything, I forgive also, for if I forgave anything to whom I forgave it for your sakes in the person of Christ.' In like manner in the early ages, the bishops granted, at the request of the martyrs, a remission of the canonical penances to those individuals whose repentance was marked by peculiar fervour: this relaxation was exactly our indulgence, so that it is not an encouragement nor permission to sin, on the contrary, it implies and presupposes a sincere conversion from sin, a real detestation of iniquity, and a fixed determination to avoid it for the time to come. Again, the only doctrine which the Council of Trent proposes as an article of faith regarding them, is, • That Jesus Christ has imparted to his Church the power of granting indulgences, and that the use of them is beneficial.' I am very far