Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

hypothesis, is that of the indefinite extent of a land. When two shores, the limits of whose extent are unknown, lie opposite to each other, the problem, how far they reach, is speciously resolved by uniting them together. When the Icelandic geographers therefore, tell us that Vinland was supposed to join Africa, they in reality make us acquainted with two facts; first, that it was situated a long way south of Greenland; and secondly, that nothing was known of the extent of its shores, which was supposed to be very great,

Columbus visited Iceland in 1567; and from his general appetence of knowledge it cannot be doubted that he heard of the early voyages of the Northmen and their discovery of Vinland. It has been urged however that the voyage to Vinland, made in a few days from Greenland, a country at that time supposed to be joined to Europe, had little in common with the speculations of Columbus, or calculated to encourage his bold thought of launching across the Atlantic in a tropical latitude. But what could be more to his purpose or better adapted to his views, than the fact that the North men, the boldest of navigators, had knowledge of a land in the west which they supposed to extend far southwards till it met Africa? Or could not the intelligent Genoese find some suggestion in the following more accurate statement of an Icelandic geographer ? On the west of the great sea of Spain, which some call Ginnungagap, and leaning somewhat towards the north, the first land which occurs is the good Vinland.” It would add little to the merit of Columbus, to maintain that he was incapable of benefiting by so good a hint.

ART. VII.-1. Affaires de Rome. Par M. F. De La Mennais.

Paris, 1836, 1837. 2. Paroles d'un Croyant. Par F. De Lamennais. 3. Le Livre du Peuple. Par F. Lamennais. Paris, 1838. AMID the modern phenomena that present themselves to the view of the attentive observers of the political and religious horizon the Abbé Lamennais, or La Mennais, or De La Mennais, aut quocunque nomine gaudet; (for we have him in two of his own books with a duplex movement;) certainly occupies a remarkable position. There are few persons, even of that nation to which the author of Paul Clifford bas given the appellation of Thinkers, that have ever attained, even amid the recherché disquisitions with which they have enlightened, or darkened thinking, to the distinguished originality of M. L'Abbé De La Mennais. The plain common sense of mankind would certainly have con

it.

ducted but few persons to the conclusion that the principles of civil and religious liberty might best be advanced under the fostering culture of the Church of Rome: still fewer are there who would imagine that the liberty of private judgment, either in clergy or laity, would be tolerated under the same auspices. But what may not an original thinker effect? The Abbé conceived these matters perfectly practicable, and set about their instant realization. He had conceived the brilliant notion that he could put the popedom into the Movement party, and accordingly started a journal entitled L'Avenir, and a society in connection with the journal, with the formidable title “ General Agency for the Defence of Religious Liberty." By way of still further aiding bis own object, the following just description of the Jesuits, the most necessarily devoted to the See of Rome of all her adherents, occupied one of the early numbers of L'Avenir.

“ This is neither the place nor the time to criticise the society of the Jesuits, and to seek amid the calumnies of bate, and the encomiums of enthusiasm, pure and vigorous truth. Nothing can be more absurd, more unjust, more revolting than the greater part of the accusations urged against

We can instance no society of which the members claim more deservedly, admiration for their zeal and respect for their virtues. Conceding thus much, to affirm that their iustitute, in itself so holy, is exempt at present from many weighty objections,—to say that it is sufficiently adapted to the state of modern intellect, to the world's present demands, would be untrue. Still this is neither the place nor the time to canvass this mighty question, and we should feel deep anguish if a single word escaped us that could sadden these venerable men at the present moment, when the fanaticism of impiety persecutes under their name the entire Catholic Church.”

The Pope ;-whose arm in all ages has been strengthened by the disciples of Loyola, and who knows the manhood of the Jesuit’s mind, shut up as it is in the concentred powers of the order, to be as utterly lost to the world as the emasculated slave of the East to every purpose of virility; who knows that no state secrets are denied the See, from the fatally disclosed confession of the King of Spain which expelled them from that country, to those of the Bourbon who retained them to the last about his person; and who feels therefore the deep usefulness of the order to his state;-still leans to them with undivided trust, and would seek no firmer supporters, could he but safely use them. This however, in the modern state of feelings towards the order is nearly impossible; and hence, save as secret members of his councils, they are as if they did not exist; yet with him are still potent as if they existed openly. The journal that struck at the Jesuit, in effect assailed 'the Pope; and the Abbé could not but expect that his designating that body as participating in no existing state of feeling or in any of the wants of mankind; and describing them, in short, with a few brilliant compliments to their learning and piety, as useless to the community at large, was a course very ill calculated to satisfy either Jesuit or Pope. It certainly is as singular as it is true that we can trace in this body no work of a lofty range of intellect. In painful researches, in laborious disquisitions, where shall we find the equal of the Jesuit? But he is neither poet, orator, historian, nor philosopher of a high order.* He had in himself and his objects nothing to prompt to the issues of these things, and he became buried in the learning of the schools and estranged from every nobler sentiment and feeling of the heart. To return to M. L'Abbé : at first this solitary journal of the Roman Catholic hierarchy met with high favour. It almost appeared that M. L'Abbé had hit upon the method of contriving, like a celebrated agitator, to keep the Roman Catholics and the Liberalists together; and that the Holy Father and the democracy of this world (his power being nearly gone with the kings of the earth) might establish a system of prosperous union, and the people be again successfully spirited against their rulers. But unluckily the Abbé did not move with sufficient caution, and consequently struck upon the difficult question of the temporal pretensions of the Holy See. Every one who understands Rome well knows that she not only claims entire rule in things temporal and spiritual, but also inculcates passive obedience to the powers whom she authorizes to stand in that light. Rome had applauded L'Avenir, and had encouraged its early efforts, but Rome could not openly go to the length to which the Abbé compromised her by language of this character.

“ Your power is dissipating, and with it the faith. Do you wish to save both ?

Unite both to bumanity, such humanity as eighteen centuries of Christianity have produced. Nothing in this world is stationary. You once reigned over kings, and then kings enslaved you. Separate yourself from monarchs and extend your hand to the people. They will support you with the strong arm; and what is better, with firm affection. Quit the earthly relics of your ancient ruined grandeur; spurn them from you as unworthy of you. You will not long retain them. For what end do you wear these purple rags, save in mockery of what you were? And wbat use are they save to veil the glorious scars which indicate the holy wars, waged by you in ancient times for the human race against their rulers ? Your might is not in exterior pomp, it is internal. It consists in the deep sense of your paternal duties, of your civilizing mission, in a devotedness which knows neither fatigue nor limit to exertion. Resume with the spirit of the early pastors of the Church the

* About six or eight years ago, in a course of lectures publicly announced, we believe at Salamanca, by one of this learned body upon the Sciences in general, the Holy Father thus addressed his admiring audience. “ We shall discuss arithmetic and geometry; all other Sciences lead only to infidelity!"

simple crook, and if it must be so, even the martyr chain. Victory is certain, but at this cost only.”

The conductors of the journal indirectly came under censure, and, taking a journey to Rome, they requested an interview with the Pontiff. It was granted on the express stipulation of the forfeiture of the object for which it was solicited; namely, all discussion on the object of their visit. In this Pope Gregory proved himself neither Innocent nor Sylvan. We suspect that his Holiness had a shrewd guess at his visiter's object;

Scire volunt secreta domus atque inde timeri.And with laudable precaution to preserve the secrets of his house his Holiness, as the Abbé observes, preserved a “ triste and morne silence.” Disappointed in the issue of their journey, and surrounded by persons who really thought the Abbé and council any thing but what they professed themselves, they drew up a justificatory memoir. This was presented to his Holiness by Cardinal Pacca, and entitled “ Mémoire présentée au SouverainPontife Greg. XVII. par les Rédacteurs de L'Avenir et les membres du Conseil de l'Agence générale pour la Défense de la Liberté religieuse.On this Memoir we shall offer a few observations. The Abbé clearly never expected either from the Memoir or the visit to Rome other issues than actually ensued. Still each fulfilled his object. They placed him, while rendering outward obedience to Rome, in the position of a man whose “ lumières” were of a surpassing description, calculated alike to become the Apostle of Despotism or Democracy. He intended to be either, as circumstances should permit. The Memoir in question opens with the startling assertion that the sixteen years anterior to the last revolution may be described in two words. Religion was oppressed by the government and detested by the greater part of the people.” The Bourbons temporized with matters on their restoration, and the state of the church resembled that of the subjects of a tyrant excelling in the art of oppressing those he professed to protect. The Pope's concordat of 1801 was never relished by the emigrant party: the Bourbons neither conciliated them nor their opponents by their medium course. The bishops were prohibited from correspondence with Rome; there were no rural visitations, no ecclesiastical courts. The council of state was the sole judge of religion and conscience; and the entire education of the people was in the hands of the laity. In short the whole life and vitality of religion was enervated or destroyed under the continued support of the imperial regime. The Bourbons were forced into these things by the strong current of external circumstances ; certainly unwillingly; but, had they looked to their interests, they would have begun de novo, and either perished in the attempt or placed their power on a less sandy foundation. It was expected that a different issue would have been the result of their return. The Church had lost all at the foot of the scaffold of Louis XVI.: Napoleon gave it bread, but denied it liberty. The Church on the restoration of the Bourbons did not moot the question of property. The concordat of 1801, the ruthless deed of the Pope, had ceded all. A few minds had anticipated even this, but they were few indeed. The Gallican Church suffered under the republic, the empire, at the restoration; and again in the revolution of 1830 under Louis Philippe. Under this latter sovereign the unhappy Gallican Church is completely excluded from educating the people, since the University enjoys the monopoly, contrary to the charter; and by way of uttering a word of still bitterer scorn, a gratuitous national education for the poorer classes is provided by the state afin de detruire la SUPERSTITION.” It is thus the Ministre des Cultes, Montalivet, compliments the religion of the land! A bitter judgment on the ritual-buried community. The same person unites in himself functions quite equal to any primaey or papacy, for he makes bis own bishops, vicars-general, canons, and curates. He also forces the Gallican Church, contrary to immemorial practice, and for reasons perfectly intelligible to himself and his master, to pray by name for the prince as well as the king, which Napoleon had not enacted. Fêtes are interdicted by the same authority; hot water prescribed for baptism in winter; the birth of the infant (proh pudor! Lord John Russell) is registered before its baptism; and the presentation of the child to the civil power precedes that to the ecclesiastical. Nor is this all; for liberals always carry out measures (saving in England); when the Abbé Gregoire died excommunicated, the government ordered from the prelate a service for the dead and seized the parish church for this purpose. A similar instance occurred with respect to l'Abbé Berthier. And would any one imagine that in sight of all this the Abbé La Mennais advocates the voluntary principle as that most likely to unite matters and to place things under a favourable aspect ? Nothing but that union in which the Church and State remain one fixed body can ever prevent this tyranny of the State over the Church. Nothing but the union of all governing principles in one head can ever prevent the life of the sovereign from being the daily hunt of the subject, as it is in France, or the Church from occupying its present degraded position in that country. If the sovereign hold his crown from the Church and be thus blent with it, if Church and State are both fixed in his person, civil and religious liberty will be invaded neither by the

« AnteriorContinuar »