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MILNER


316


MILNER


able both to tliom iiiul to Miliicr liirnsclf thiit the rcsultins; st:ite of tension vas of short duration. The" clergy learned to value the great qualities of their new- bishop, anil conceived an admiration of him, the tradi- tion of which has lasted to the present day.

Milnor, however, wius not satisfied with his position in the Midlands. He had formed an alliance with the Irish bishops, and with their co-operation, a deter- mined attempt was made to have him transferred to London as coatljutor with right of succession. This scheme was opposed by Bishop Douglass, and ulti- mately defeated, though the pope consented that Mil- ner should l)ecome parliamentary agent to the Irish bishops in their struggle to procure Catholic emancipa- tion, and that for this purpose he should be permitted to go to London as often as necessary. This vmfor- tvmatc disagreement with his colleagues led to regret- table results. Milner found fault with the manner in which the London District was governed, and was not afraid to say so publicly, in nimierous pamphlets and other publications, and even in his pastorals. The subjects of contention were several; hut two espe- cially may be mentioned. One was the well-known "Veto" question, which first came into prominence in the year ISOS. By this it was intended to concede to the ('rown a negative voice in the election of Catholic bishops, by conferring a right to veto any candidate whose loyalty was open to question. The chief Irish bishops had agreed to the measure in 1799; but since then, owing to the postponement of emancipation, the scheme had dropped. Milner revived it, and was for a time the warm advocate of the veto. He found himself in opposition to most of the Irish bishops. He visited Ireland, and afterwards wrote his " Letter to a Parish Priest " (who was really an Irish bishop) in de- fence of his position. The Irish bishops, however, condemned the Veto in 1S08. A year later Milner was converted to their way of thinking, and became as vigorous in opposition to it as he hatl been before in its favour. About this time the English Catholics, in presenting a petition to Parliament, embotlied what was known as their "Fifth Resolution", offer- ing a "grateful concurrence" to a Bill which would give them emancipation, accompanied by any "ar- rangements" for the safe-guarding of the Estab- lished Church which should not be inconsistent with their religion. Milner declared — contrary to the as- sertions of the framers of the Resolution — that the "arrangements" intended, included the Veto, and he denoimced those who signed the petition, including all the other vicars Apostolic of England. In this he received the support of the Irish liishops. Another source of criticism was the want of vigour which he alleged against the London Vicar in combating the Blanchardist schism among the French emigrant clergy, especially the restoration of one of them, Abb6 de Trevaux, to spiritual faculties without a public retractation. In this matter also he was supported by the Irish bishops.

A crisis occurred in 181.S, Dr. Poynter being then Vicar Apostolic of the London District. A Bill for the full emancipation of Catholics was introduced into the House of Commons by Grattan ; but Lord Castlereagh and Mr. Canning introduced amending clauses giving the Crown a veto on the appointment of bishops, to be exercised only on the recommendation of a com- mittee consisting chiefly of Catholic Peers. Milner and the Irish bishops maintained that no Catholic could assent to this without incurring schism. The other vicars Apostolic did not go so far as this, though they oppo.setl the clauses. The leading memlx-rs of the Catholic Board, consisting chiefly of laymen, were in favour of accepting them as the necessary price to pay for emancipation. Milner. however, u.sed all his influence to procure the rejection of the Bill. He printed a " Brief Memorial" in this sense, and distrib- uted it among memljers of Parliament. The Bill


passed its .second reading, but in coruiiiiltcr the clause admitting Catholics to Parliament was defeated by a small majority of four votes, and the Hill was aban- doned. Milner took to himself the cnMlit of having Ix'cn the cause of its defeat, and th<' laymen were so angry with him that, to their permanent disgrace, they publicly expelled him from the committee of the Catholic Hoard. In the meantime Dr. Poynter ap- |)ealed to Home for guidance in the expected event of the re-introduction of the Hill. The pope was at that time the prisoner of Bonaparte, aiid the cardinals were dispersed. In their alisence Mgr. (^luaiantotti. Secre- tary of Propaganda, using the powers with which he had been provisionally invested, issued a Rescript, dated February, 1814, approving of the Bill as it stood. Milner did not fail to see the serious results which would follow from this and decided immediately to appeal to the pope, who having lieen liberated from captivity, was on his way back to Ronii-. His journey was so far successful that the C,)uarantotti Rescript was recalled, and the pope ordered the whole matter to be examined afresh. In the end a decision was promul- gated in the shape of a letter from Cardinal Litta, Pre- fect of Propaganda, to Dr. Poynter, who had also come to Rome. The provisions of the late Bill were condemned; but on the general question of the veto, apart from the Lay Committees, the decision was against Milner; sul)ject to certain safeguards, Catho- lics were empowered to concede a veto to the Crown, provided this negative power was so limited as not to l)e allowed to grow into a positive nomination. This led to further agitation in Ireland, and another deputa- tion was sent to Rome; but the Eiigli.sh Catholics, in- cluding Milner himself, accepted the decision without question. The English vicars Apostolic were, how- ever, naturally opposed to the veto, and in the event it never became necessarj' to utilize the permission granted.

On his return from Rome Milner continued to write controversially, the new "Orthodox Journal" being a frequent medium for his conunimications. His lan- guage was as harsh as ever, and mdiecoming in a bishop, until at length an ajjpeal was made to Rome, and Cardinal Fontana, who was then Prefect of Propa- ganda, forbade him to write in it any more. During the last years of his life Milner withdrew to a great ex- tent from public politics. He ceased to act on behalf of the Irish liishops, and though he did not hold any intercourse with the other vicars Apostolic, he ceased to wTite against them. He devoted himself to literary work. In 1818 his " End of Contro\crsy ", perhaps the Ix-st known of all his books, at length appeared, and it was followed by a war of pamphlets and replies which went on for several years. Feeling his health failing, he applied for a coadjutor, anil Rev. Thomas Walsh, President of Oscott College, was appointed. He was consecrated in 182.5 when all the bishops of England met, and a reconciliation was effected. Milner sur- vived less than a year, his death taking place at his house at "Wolverhampton on 19 A|5ril, 1S26. He left Ijehind him a record of a life marked by whole-hearted devotion to religion, and of eminent services rendered to the cause, both as a writer and a man of action. In both capacities his work was marred bj' the asperity of his language, and his intolerance of any views differ- ing from his own. This made him many enemies through life, and cut him off from his brother bishops during the greater part of his episco])ate. But his lot was ca.st at a difficult time, and he succeeded in com- bating ditficulties which few other men would have faced. He had the advantage of a strong constitution; his vigour and activity were phenomenal, and, added to his devotion to the Holy See, earned for him the title of the English Athanasius.

There are many portraits of Milner: (1) sketch, age about 2.5; (2) miniature, as a bishop about 1803; (3) miniature l)V Kernan (1808 — considered the best