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CHARLES BLUNDELL, ESQ.
IN THE COUNTY OF LANCASTER.
I REQUEST your acceptance of my REPLY TO DR SOUTHEY'S "BOOK OF THE CHURCH;"-a work with which
are not unacquainted.
It abounds with the strongest criminations of the roman-catholic religion, and of the conduct of our roman-catholic ancestors. I do not recollect that a publication more offensive, either to the understandings or the feelings of the roman-catholics, has appeared within our memory.
I willingly admit, that, to produce against our creed or conduct, all that research or fair argument can supply, is legitimate controversy; but surely, to conceal, or to represent our merits very briefly and imperfectly, and to display our defects at length, and with the highest colouring; to impute to our general body what, in justice, is only chargeable on individuals; or to estimate the writings or actions of our ancestors in the dark ages, by the notions and manners of the present age, is a crying injustice.
Does not doctor Southey too often fall into all these errors? Is he sufficiently aware, -that the roman-catholics have sustained a defamation of three hundred years?—That, in consequence of it, an immense mass of prejudice was raised against them? That it yet retains its place in many uninstructed minds; and that it is not wholly eradicated from all the liberal and the informed? None of these believe that London was set on fire by the
roman-catholics, or in the truth of Oates's revelations: But the prejudice originally created by these fictions, has not entirely lost its effect it still influences some respectable persons, in their opinions of the roman-catholic religion, much more than they are aware of.
This prejudice, "the Book of the Church" is admirably calculated both to keep alive and to increase: To counteract its tendency is the object of the present pages. If doctor Milner had framed "his Strictures upon the "Book of the Church" on a more extensive plan, it would have made this or any other answer to it unnecessary.
Such as my pages are,-I INSCRIBE THEM TO YOU: I hope they do not contain a word, at which the very learned, elegant and eloquent author of the work, to which they are addressed, can take just offence. My publications are numerous,-perhaps too numerous: --but I trust they do not contain one harsh
word; one, by which I have ever offended, either against charity, or even against civility.
No person admires more than I do, the golden sentence of St. Francis of Sales,that "a good christian is never outdone in good manners."
With the greatest respect,
I have the honour to be,
Your most obedient Servant,
Lincoln's-Inn, 4 November 1824.