« AnteriorContinuar »
be sustained. Yet in our own minds the question is really unimportant. We have proved the insufficiency of Protestantism to sustain democracy. What then? Have we in so doing proved that Protestantism is not the true religion ? Not at all; for we have no infallible evidence that democracy is the true or even the best form of government. It may be so, and the great majority of the American people believe it is so; but they may be mistaken, and Protestantism be true, notwithstanding its incompatibility with republican institutions. So we have proved that Catholicity is necessary to sustain such institutions. But what then? Have we proved it to be the true religion? Not at all. For such institutions may themselves be false and mischievous. Nothing in this way is settled in favor of one religion or another, because no system of politics can ever constitute a standard by which to try a religious system. Religion is more ultimate than politics, and you must conform your politics to your religion, and not your religion to your politics. You must be the veriest infidels to deny this.
This conceded, the question the Protestants raise is exceedingly insignificant. The real question is, Which religion is from God? If it be Protestantism, they should refuse to subject it to any human tot, and should blush to think of compelling it to conform to any thing human; for when God speaks, man has nothing to do but to listen and obey. So, having decided that Catholicity is from God, save in condescension to the weakness of our Protestant brethren, we must refuse to consider it in its political bearings. It speaks from God, and its speech overrides every other speech, its authority every other authority. It is the sovereign of sovereigns. He who could question this, admitting it to be from God, has yet to obtain his first religious conception, and to take his first lesson in religious liberty; for we are to hear God, rather than hearken unto men. But we have met the Protestants on their own ground, because, though in doing so we surrendered the vantage-ground we might occupy, we know the strength of Catholicity and the weakness of Protestantism. We know what Protestantism has done for liberty, and what it can do. It can take off restraints, and introduce license, but it can do nothing to sustain true liberty. Catholicity depends on no form of government; it leaves the people to adopt such forms of government as they please, because under any or all forms of government it can fulfil its mission of training up souls for heaven; and the eternal salvation of one single soul is worth more than, is a good far outweighing, the most perfect civil liberty, nay, all the worldly prosperity and enjoyment ever obtained or to be obtained by the whole human race.
It is, after all, in this fact, which Catholicity constantly brings to our minds, and impresses upon our hearts, that consists its chief power, aside from the grace of the sacraments, to sustain popular liberty. The danger to that liberty comes from love of the world, the ambition for power or place, the greediness of gain or distinction. It comes from lawless passions, from inordinate love of the goods of time and sense. Catholicity, by showing us the vanity of all these, by pointing us to the eternal reward that awaits the just, moderates this inordinate love, these lawless passions, and checks the rivalries and struggles in which popular liberty receives her death blow. Once learn that all these things are vanity, that even civil liberty itself is no great good, that even bodily slavery is no great evil, that the one thing needful is a mind and heart conformed to the will of God, and you have a disposition which will sustain a democracy wherever introduced, though doubtless a disposition that would not lead you to introduce it where it is not.
But this last is no objection, for the revolutionary spirit is as fatal to democracy as to any other form of government. It is the spirit of insubordination and of disorder. It is opposed to all fixed rule, to all permanent order. It loosens every thing, and sets all afloat. Where all is floating, where nothing is fixed, where nothing can he counted on to be tomorrow what it is to-day there is no liberty, no solid good. The universal restlessness of Protestant nations, the universal disposition to change, the constant movements of the populations, so much admired by shortsighted philosophers, are a sad spectacle to the sober-minded Christian, who would, as far as possible, find in all things a type of that eternal fixedness and repose he looks forward to as the blessed reward of his trials and labors here. Catholicity comes here to our relief. All else may change, but it changes not. All else may pass away, but it remains where and what it was, a type of the immobility and immutability of the eternal God.
[From Brownson's Quarterly Review for January, 1845.)
We have read this pamphlet with pleasure and instruction. It is written in good temper, and with a good share of ability. It triumphantly refutes the oft repeated slander, that the Roman Catholic Church is incompatible with republican institutions and popular freedom; and though it contains expressions, and, if by a Catholic, concessions, which we do not approve or believe warranted, we commend it to the American Protestant Society, and especially to the socalled Native American party. Either can hardly fail to profit by its careful and diligent perusal.
We have introduced this pamphlet simply as the text of some few remarks on the subject of NATIVE AMERICANISM. We are ourselves native-born, and we hope not deficient in true love of country. Though not blind to the faults of our countrymen, and endeavoring on all occasions to place the love of God before the love of country, we believe we possess some share of genuine patriotic feeling. We know we have loved American institutions; and we are ready to vindicate them, with what little ability we may have, on any occasion, and against any and every sort of enemies. But we confess that we have and have had, from the first, no sympathy, with what is called Native Americanism. We have seen no necessity for a movement against foreigners who choose to make this land their home; and we have felt that. such a movement, while it could lead to no good, might lead to results truly deplorable.
We have been accustomed to trace the hand of a merciful Providence in reserving this New World to so late a day for Christian civilization; we have been in the habit of believing that it was not without a providential design, that here: was reserved an open field in which that civilization, disengaging itself from the vices and corruptions of the Old World, might display itself in all its purity, strength, and glory. We have regarded it as a chosen land, not for
* Catholicism compatible with Republican Government, and in full Accord ance with Popular Institutions. By FENELON. New York: 1844. VOL. X-2
one race, or one people, but for the wronged and downtrodden of all nations, tongues, and kindreds, where they might come as to a holy asylum of peace and charity. It has been a cause of gratulation, of ardent thankfulness to Almighty God, that here was founded, as it were, a city of refuge, to which men might flee from oppression, be free from the trammels of tyranny, regain their rights as men, and dwell in security. Here all partition walls which make enemies of different races and nations were to be broken down; all senseless and mischievous distinctions of rank and caste were to be discarded; and every man, no matter where born, in what language trained, was to be regarded as man, —as nothing more, as nothing less. Here we were to found, not a republic of Englishmen, of Frenchmen, of Dutchmen, of Irishmen, but of men; and to make the word American mean, not a man born on this soil or on that, but a free and accepted member of the grand republic of men. Such is what has been boasted as the principle and the destiny of this New World; and with this, we need not say, Native Americanism is directly at war.
The great principle of true Americanism, if we may use the word, is, that merit makes the man. It'discards all distinctions which are purely accidental, and recognizes only such as are personal. It places every man on his own two feet, and says to him, Be a man, and you shall be esteemed according to your worth as a man ; you shall be commended only for your personal merits; you shall be made to suffer only for your personal demerits. To each one according to his capacity, to each capacity according to its works. This is Americanism. It is this which has been our boast, which has constituted our country's true glory. It is this which we have inherited from our fathers; it is this which we hold as a sacred trust, and must preserve in all its purity, strength, and activity, if we would not prove “ degenerate sons of noble sires; and it is this, which Native Americanism, socalled, opposes, and because it opposes this, no true American can support it.
There is something grateful to all our better feelings in the thought, that here is a home to which the oppressed can come, and find the rights, the respect, and the well-being denied them in the land of their birth. The emigrant's condition is not a little improved by touching upon our shores; and the condition of his brother-laborers, whom he leaves behind, is also not a little ameliorated, and the general sum of well-being is greatly augmented. On the simple score of philanthropy, then, who would not struggle to keep our country open to the emigrant, and be prepared to welcome him as a brother, and to rejoice that another is added to the family of freemen?
But even as a question of our own interest as a people, we should welcome the foreigner. If we would sit down and reckon up what we lose and what we gain by foreigners coming to settle among us, we should find the gain greatly overbalances the loss. Naturalized citizens constitute no inconsiderable portion of our population, and by no means the least important portion. "Without these, what would have been our condition now? Whose labor has cleared away many of our western forests, dug our canals and railroads ? and by whose labor and practical skill have we introduced our manufactures, and brought them to their present high state of perfection In all the branches of manufactures, in nearly all branches of mechanical industry, the head workmen, if we have been rightly informed, are foreigners. And why foreigners, rather than native-born ? Surely, not because there is any partiality for foreigners over native Americans, but because they are more thorough masters of their business. Then, who man
ur navy, of which we are so justly proud ? and who constitute, in time of war, the rank and file of our army? Not all foreigners, truly; but not a few who were not born on American soil. No small portion of our hardy seamen are of alien birth ; but they are none the less true to our flag on that account, nor any the less freely do they spill their blood for our national defence or national glory. We do not agree with the assertion said to have been made by a foreigner residing amongst us, that native Americans are cowards, and if we did, we have still too much of the old Adam, and of the narrow feeling of former times, to suffer him, without rebuke, to tell us so. Americans are not deficient in courage, and will, when necessary, face the enemy as boldly as any other people on the globe. Nevertheless, our ranks are not dishonored by foreigners, and no native-born citizens have ever done our country's flag more honor or fought more valiantly in its defence, than the brave and warın-hearted Irish; and none would do us more efficient service again, were we so unhappy as to be involved in a war. In the Revolution, we found men not born in America could fight manfully for us, and then they were not considered as in