29 JANUARY 1910, Page 48


Memoirs of Scottish Catholics, 1627-1792. , Selected from hitherto, Unedited MSS. by William Forbes Leith, S.J. 2 vols. (Longmans and Co. 24s. net.)—Father Leith has collected in these two volumes a mass of materials for history. Their precise value it is for the scientific inquirer to determine. That the documents here printed are genuine and contemporary will not be questioned. We know the writers and the dates, and for the most part the circumstances in which they were written. How far the writers knew or were capable of judging of the facts is another matter. One thing is evident, that the Roman Catholic population of Scotland during the greater portion of the period included in these two volumes had a very hard time. In the early decades of the seventeenth century they suffered between two contending forces both adverse to themselves : the Episcopacy favoured by the Stuart Kings, and Presbyterianism. When the latter triumphed they were no better off. The times became easier after the Restoration, though the adherents of the Pope were in theory as much under the ban as the adherents of the Covenant. After 1688, especially when the conflict between Jacobite and Hanoverian became acute, their situation was difficult in the extreme. That they were Jacobites to a man cannot be doubted for a moment. We need not depreciate their sincerity, nor withhold our pity when we read of their sufferings. But it is only just to their opponents to realise the situation. Can we imagine what would have happened, say, in Spain if a Protestant minority had endeavoured to set a Prince of their own faith on the throne ? May we not be sure that a thousand victims would have suffered for one that so suffered in Scotland?