'The so-called Eeformation soon "ceased to be reform; it grew to be a Eevolution. . . . The congregation gradually became the foous of political disaffection, as well as of religious animosity. They produced authorities from Holy Writ for sedition and rebellion, as well as for murder. Crude democratic theories were in vogue. A theocracy saturated with socialism was the form of government which the leaders of the movement openly approved." — Maitland of Lethington, vol. L, pp. 216-217. For the shameless details of Knox's treason and treachery, the reader is referred to the Cecil-Eandolph correspondence. They are too large to insert here. " The tortuous intrigues ud political duplicities of the Minister of Eighteousness may be forgiven by those who hold that the end justifies the means ; bu' the inhumanity which Knox occasionally manifested, hardly, from any point of view, admits of palliation. . . . No page is more revolting to the modern student of morals than hardy the gross superstition touching this miserable fanatic, that his crimes and misdemeanours are freely forgiven him, or at all events tacitly ignored.
Knox was a traitor to his Prince and his country : of that there can be no manner of doubt; and the Scots, as a nation, are, fortunately, not tolerant of traitors, of whom, indeed, they would appear to have had rather more than their fair share. Yet in some parts of the country, so enduring is prejudice, and so dense is ignorance, that this shabby adventurer is even yet glorified to the skies! Surely in this fact we have a strange and almost unaccountable phenomenon presented to us. Other traitors, almost if not quite as popular in their times, have paid the debt of Nemesis by being found out, and have been unceremoniously ejected from their respective temples of fame.
But this John Knox, one of the most egregious, and unblushing of the Judas kind, continues in almost unimpaired enjoyment of his original honours, in spite of all that historians can do or say to dislodge him! What is the explanation of this singular conundrum ? The Scots, as a nation, are credited with rather more than average intelligence. Cannot they see that their idol has not only feet of clay, but has the heart of a scoundrel as well ? We are afraid that whilst many do see, they are afraid to trust the obvious evidence of their senses; whilst the rest have neither inclination nor capacity to think for themselves, being content to deserve that contemptuous appellation which Knox himself bestowed on them—the rascal multitude.
that on which the historian of the Eeformation deliberately, in cold blood, long after the event, registers his indecent triumph." —Maitland of Lethington, vol. i., p. 226.
Sostrong is prejudice in the Presbyterian camp thatweregard it as little short of madness to attempttopersuade them. If people will not read, will notbeinformed or instructed, it is better to leave themalone, since a waste of good breath to cool indifferentporridge cannot be justified, even on the groundofextraordinary expenditure. They have theirhistories, not the old ones, but the new : why dotheynot read them ? They have, presumably, theirpastors and masters: why do they not listen tothem?Perhaps these last, more intent on butteringtheir bread than imparting instruction, havejoined that widespread conspiracy against knowledge,of which religious prejudice is the mainstay.Ifso, the Presbyterians should look to themselves.Surely they are not children to be bubbledin this ridiculous manner.
Thereare one or two things, however, which, beforeclosing, we should like to say. They are notintendedfor the rascal multitude, but are addressedto thinking people—to Highlanders especially,whose ears have not been positively deafenedby the screams of the Reformation-at-any-pricepartisans of John Knox. The first considerationwe would offer them is this, namely, thatallthe best modern Protestant writers are nowagreed that the abuses in the Church before theso-called Reformation have been "grossly exaggerated".1The second is this, that the so-calledReformation was a political rather than a religiousmovement. The third is, that even supposingreformation were necessary and justifiable, itwasneither the one nor the other to invite foreign 'Skelton, Maitland of Lethington, vol. i., p. 68. See also-Home Brown's Knox, etc assistance—to play the traitor, in other words—in] order to that end. The fourth is, that the so-called] Reformation was not followed by the purely intelì lectual results commonly claimed for it. The fifth' is, that the seeds of Scotland's dependence were] sown when the so-called Reformation was endorsed] by the majority of the English-speaking people ml Scotland. And now for a few observations uporij these several heads.
It has been said that the so-called Reformation was a measure of spiritual and intellectual emanctì pation, drafted by Providence in favour of the] northern nations. Let us hear what Skelton ha| to say on that subject. " When we are told," saysa he,1 " that Knox's Reformation was the cause of alll that is ' best and greatest' in the Scottish character! we are tempted to ask whether in point of fact the] Scot since Knox's time has risen to any high moral or spiritual level ? It is probable that under anl| form of religion or government the national caution] and the natural shrewdness would have led to] material success and worldly prosperity. But is it just to assert that the severe and gloomy Puritanism] of the preachers has impressed upon the national] conscience a finer ideal of duty or a higher standard of purity ? If this could be truly asserted, then,] indeed, the narrowness, the fierceness, the bigotry! might be forgiven. That the life led by 'the] Scottish commons' since the Reformation has beenl as a rule, simple, frugal and devout, I would gladly! believe; but that it has been in many respects al maimed and stunted life, wanting in beauty and] attractiveness and the instinctive refinement of] more favoured nations, as well as hard, narrow! 1 Vol. vii., p. 70.
and merciless in conduct and judgment, cannot, I am afraid, be denied. Nor do sobriety, purity and cleanliness quite consist with certain unpleasant returns which have been taken to show (rather unfairly I believe) that among the nations of Europe the countrymen and countrywomen of Knox are the most intemperate and the most unchaste."
It has been said, on what evidence does not appear, that the so-called Reformation was followed by a great outburst of intellectual activity in those countries in which, under "the most favoured nation treatment" we presume—to borrow a modern expression—this religious holocaust occurred. For our own parts, however, we can discover no evidence of extraordinary activity in either England, Germany, (Switzerland, Scandinavia, or the Lowlands of Scotland—no rich harvest of genius, that is to say, that can legitimately be ascribed to the prophets of the Eeformation, and their works. If the Church before the so-called Reformation was master of all, in the sense of being tyrant of all, as is frequently asserted, how came it to pass that the fifteenth and the sixteenth centuries were distinguished by so extraordinary an intellectual activity, which began to languish the moment the Protestant heresy arose V If, on the other hand, the Church was too
1 It is perhaps inevitable that Protestants should think that before their heresy " arrived," society, from an intellectual point of view, was a blank. But however much credit so whimsical a notion may do to their simple hearts, it does not say much for their intelligence. It has been well said that, had it not been for (he Catholic Church, their very Bible (touching which they have no agreement, save to differ) would not have been preserved for them! A similar tendency to date the origin of all things from the commencement of events important and interesting only to themselves is observable among savages.
indolent, too deeply steeped in vice and sloth, too much busied about her own trifling affairs, to exercise her influence for the suppression of genius (as others contend), how came it to pass that, intellectually considered, the period of the so-called Reformation is as barren as a sand dune ? It will be seen at once that the two statements cannot be reconciled. They amount to a contradiction in terms ; and for that reason are to be regarded with the utmost suspicion by every well-regulated mind. Either the Church was capable of playing the infamous role so often ascribed to her by ignorant Protestants of seeking to discourage and to suppress learning and knowledge " in the interests of superstition"—in which case the famous names connected with the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries would not have come down to us ; or she was incapable of doing anything of the kind—in which latter case what is to become of all the frothy language that has been indulged in touching the *' tyranny " of the Church and the state of slavish bondage in which for her own selfish and unjustifiable ends she is supposed to have held the minds of all men, seeing that if she were too idle or indifferent to exercise her influence, men of genius were necessarily free to come and to go, as it were, just as they pleased ?1 " The influence of the Knoxian Reformation . . . upon the intellectual life was distinctly disastrous," says Mr. Skelton, in the interesting work we have already quoted from. " Their first business in Scotland was to construct an exhaustive form of excommunication
1 In point of fact, the license allowed by many of the clergy before the period of the so-called Eeformation was a contributory »cause to the Church's undoing on that occasion, as a reference io the scandalous literature of the time will conclusively prove.
—directly thereafter they succeeded in obtaining anActfrom the Estates which punished witchcraft withdeath. It need not be added that the higher literature (English) of Scotland, the literature which hasgiven Scotland a place among the nations, owes nothing to its Puritanism. Hume, Burns, Scott, eachin his own fashion, led the revolt against the Knoxian tradition."
To what depths of prejudice and follya Protestant criticwho is at a loss for an argument will descend maybe gathered from the following observation whichwas recently passed on a paper in this Review. "Protestantism has encouraged the Gael to think, andcompelled him to learn to read, and he is not likely to regard it as an enemy." To borrow this writer's own language, " comment is needless " !— orrather would be so were it not that we have some charitable hopes of snatching even this brand from the burning — of instilling some reason, honesty and common-sense even into this most unpromising exemplar of the rascal multitude.
Wehave said it before, and we repeat it, that "inthe long life of the Gael, Protestantism, and all thatitimplies in a civil as well as in a religious way,has been but an unprofitable and melancholy experiment. The best of his traditions antedate Protestantism. His literature, his art, and his music have come down from Catholic times." We oftheCeltic race have not a single author to boast ofwhose works can justly be styled Protestant.1 Andwewere certainly familiar with letters long
'With the doubtful exception of Buchanan, the hymn-writer, whose gloomy adumbrations suggest a natural comparison between his own productions and the exhalations of a somewhat similar Puritan "mystic"—the English Bunyan, to wit.
before the advent of the co-religionists of Joha Knox. To assert that " Protestantism has encouraged the Gael to think and compelled him to learn to read," as a writer in one of the best-known newspapers in Scotland gravely declares, is, to be candid,] a lie, as well as a foolish impertinence; and we make no doubt that Protestant Highlanders will be vastly obliged by this handsome tribute to their own and their forebears' intelligence. Indeed, it is scarcely worth while to refute so transparent a slander—1 even for the satisfaction of reading this ignorant critic a much-needed lesson. Its extravagant terms supply its own refutation. If- Celtic literature began with the so-called Reformation, instead of dating its fall from the political consequences which followed it, there might be something to say for the observation. There cannot possibly be otherwise.
We have touched already on the political consequences of the so-called Reformation in so far as they relate to the Highlanders. We have seen that the religious revolution inaugurated by Knox: remained stationary for some time, and that it was long before it ventured to set foot in the Highlands. But when it did come at last, after much halting and delay, it is interesting to observe in what light the disciples of Knox—and Celtic and kindred societies whose object is " the preservation of the] language and literature of the Gael" should make a joyful note of the circumstance—regarded our literature. Carswell, who was sent in order to teach us how to read and to think—he appears to have been the first "body" "frae Glesga'" or elsewhere charged with so charitable a mission—! though a Gael, was thoroughly imbued with the spirit of John Knox and his illiberal disciples. "Is mortsaothair sin (ars esan) re sgriobhadh do laimh,agfechain an neithe buailtear sa chlò arai-brisgeagasaraithghiorra bhios gach èn ni dhà mheddachriochnughadh leis. Agas is mor an doilleagasandorchadas peacaidh agas aineolais agasindtleachda do lucht deachtaidh agas sgriobhtha agaschumdaigh na Gaoidheilge, gurab is mò is mian leoagasgurab mò ghnathuidheas siad eachtradha dimhaoineachabuaidheartha bregacha saoghalta do cumadh arThuathaibhdè Dhanondagas ar mhacaibh mileadh agas arna curadhaibh agas Fhind mhac Cumhail gona fhianaibh agas ar mhòran eile nach airbhim."Thenote thus struck by the first " reformers " intheirdealings with the Gael of Scotland have set thetune, it is no exaggeration to say, to their successorsin the ministerial function of the Presbyterian Church. With few exceptions, indeed, the ministers of that Church are opposed to the cultivation of the language and literature of the Gael,which they appear to regard as an impediment to thatworldly prosperity and success which, in viewof their doctrinal weakness, and the melancholystateof confusion into which their persuasion hasfallen,they no doubt feel themselves presently compelledto preach, in the vain endeavour to justifytheir existence. The Free Church of Scotlandhasbeen,and is, a notorious offender in this
1 That ia to say, being interpreted—" And great is the blindness and sinful darkness and ignorance and evil design of such as teach and write and cultivate the Gaelic language, that with the view of obtaining for themselves the vain rewards of this world, they are more desirous, and more accustomed, to compose rain, tempting, lying, worldly histories, concerning the Tuath de Dannan and concerning warriors and champions and Fingal the son of Camhal, with his heroes, and concerning many others which I will not at present enumerate".—Carswel's Gaelio translation of the Confession of Faith, etc. Extract from the Epistle Dedicatory, printed in the year 1567.