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History of the protestant Reformation by William Cobbett

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THE HISTORY OF THE PROTESTANT REFORMATION IN ENGLAND AND IRELAND

SHOWING HOW THAT EVENT HAS IMPOVERISHED THE MAIN BODY OF THE PEOPLE 

IN THOSE COUNTRIES

IN A SERIES OF LETTERS ADDRESSED TO ALL SENSIBLE AND JUST ENGLISHMEN

By

WILLIAM COBBETT

 

LETTER I. 

INTRODUCTION.

Kensington, 29th November, 1824

MY FRIENDS,

1. WE have recently seen a rescript from the King to the Bishops, 

the object of which was, to cause them to call upon their Clergy to 

cause collections of money to be made in the several parishes 

throughout England, for the purpose of promoting what is called the 

"religious education" of the people. The Bishops, in conveying their 

instructions, on this subject, to their Clergy, direct them to send 

the money thus collected to a Mr. JOSHUA WATSON, in London, who, it 

seems, is the Treasurer of this religious education concern, and who 

is, or lately was, a wine and spirit dealer, in Mincing-lane, 

Fenchurch-street. This same Mr. WATSON is also the head man of a 

society, called the "Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge." The 

present Bishop of Winchester, in his first charge to the Clergy of 

his diocese, says, that this society is the "correct expounder of 

evangelical truth, and firm supporter of the established Church;" and 

he accordingly strongly recommends that the publications put forth by 

this society be put into the hands of the scholars of those schools, 

to promote which, the above-mentioned collections were made by royal 

authority.

2. We shall, further on, have an opportunity of asking what sort of 

a Clergy this must be, who, while they swallow, in England and 

Ireland, about eight millions a year, call upon their parishioners 

for money to be sent to a wine and spirit merchant, that he may cause 

the children of the country to have a "religious education." But not 

to stop, at present, for this purpose, pray observe, my friends, that 

this society for "promoting Christian knowledge" is continually 

putting forth publications, the object of which is to make the people 

of England believe that the Catholic religion is "idolatrous and 

damnable;" and that, of course, the one-third part of the whole of 

our fellow subjects are idolaters, and are destined to eternal 

perdition, and that they, of course, ought not to enjoy the same 

rights that we Protestants enjoy. These calumniators know well, that 

this same Catholic religion was, for nine hundred years, the only 

Christian religion known to our forefathers. This is a fact which 

they cannot disguise from intelligent persons; and, therefore, they, 

like the Protestant Clergy, are constantly applauding the change 

which took place about two hundred years ago, and which change goes 

by the name of the REFORMATION.

3. Before we proceed further, let us clearly understand the meaning 

of these words: CATHOLIC, PROTESTANT, and REFORMATION. CATHOLIC means 

universal, and the religion, which takes this epithet, was called 

universal, because all Christian people of every nation acknowledged 

it to be the only true religion, and because they all acknowledged 

one and the same head of the Church, and this was the POPE, who, 

though he generally resided at Rome, was the head of the Church in 

England, in France, in Spain, and, in short, in every part of the 

world where the Christian religion was professed. But, there came a 

time, when some nations, or, rather, parts of some nations, cast off 

the authority of the POPE, and, of course, no longer acknowledged him 

as the head of the Christian Church. These nations or parts of 

nations, declared, or protested, against the authority of their 

former head, and also against the doctrines of that Church, which, 

until now, had been the only Christian Church. They, therefore, 

called themselves Protestors, or PROTESTANTS; and this is now the 

appellation given to all who are not Catholics. As to the word 

REFORMATION, it means, an alteration for the better; and it would 

have been hard indeed if the makers of this great alteration could 

not have contrived to give it a good name,

4. Now, my friends, a fair and honest inquiry will teach us, that 

this was an alteration greatly for the worse; that the "REFORMATION," 

as it is called, was engendered in beastly lust, brought forth in 

hypocrisy and perfidy, and cherished and fed by plunder, devastation, 

and by rivers of innocent English and Irish blood; and that, as to 

its more remote consequences, they are, some of them, now before as

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