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Our friends know this as well as we do, but we fear that they are partially forgetting it. This essay on the political prospects of England has alarmed us, and forged us to ask ourselves several unpleasant questions. When we see a Catholic, one whom we have long honored as a Catholic leader, excusing and almost praising the Anglican establishment, because he happens to find it an element in a political constitution which he admires, we fear that he is for the moment far more absorbed in the political than in the Catholic question. We cannot doubt the sincerity or the firmness of his faith, but we tremble, lest he forget to subordinate liis politics to his religion, and suffer his love for constitutionalisın to carry him where it would be dangerous for others to attempt to follow him. He overrates the Anglican establishment, and is, in our judgment, quite mistaken in supposing that it tends to keep alive the sense of religion in the English people. It is a part of England's respectability, and helps to sustain it; but it does less for religion than the various dissenting sects. Many men of truly religious aspirations have been found in her communion, we concede, but they.owe nothing to that communion, and are obliged to leave it in order to follow up those aspirations. Gioberti was a sincere and fervent Catholic, and one of the greatest men of modern times, but his Italian patriotism and love of constitutionalism, at tirst cherished for the sake of religion, led him all but to renounce his faith. Poor La Mennais, anxious to relieve Catholicity of its apparent alliance with the despotic courts of Europe, and to ally it with the popular sentiment of the age, ran into heresy, and died a rebel to the church of God. These instances admonish us to be on our guard. We want the freedom of the church, not her alliance with any political order. Here we labor not to form an alliance of Catholicity with democracy; what we labor to do is, to show that the American institutions accord in principle with Catholic teaching, and that we may be good Catholics and loval Americans, and loyal Americans without ceasing to be Catholics. We have shown that here many of the obstacles to the growth of Catholic civilization that have existed in the Old World, have been removed, but we have never dreamed of deriving aid to our religion from the democratic sentiment of the country.
RELIGIOUS LIBERTY IN FRANCE.*
[From Brownson's Quarterly Review for July, 1857.]
In criticising M. Montalembert's essay on The Political Future of England, we suffered ourselves to be betrayed into some remarks which were understood in a sense unfavorable to M. Montalembert and his friends, and favorable to the emperor and the present imperial government of France. Several of the imperialist journals, among which we notice the Revue Contemporaine and Le Constitutionnel, seized with avidity upon our remarks and used them with some effect against the author of the essay and the friends of constitutional government. We owe it to ourselves and to our friends in France to say that our remarks were never intended to have the application, or rather, misapplication that has been made of them. We wrote with the impression that our distrust of the emperor of the French, and our devotion to free institutions, had been so often expressed and were so well known, that we were in no danger of having our meaning or our purpose misapprehended. But in view of the misapplication and perversion which has been made of our remarks by the imperialists, we assure M. Montalembert and his friends, whose organ is the Correspondant, that we regret that they were not differently worded or at least more guarded, for nothing was further from our intention than to embarrass the defender's of constitutional freedom or to please the imperialists. Accustomed in our own country to a free press,
free discussion, and full publicity, it did not, when we were writing, occur to us that publicity is restricted in France, that the French press enjoys only a one-sided freedom, a freedom of the Jansenistic sort, and therefore that our friends would not be at liberty to correct publicly any errors of fact or opinion into which we might fall to their prejudice, or any misapplication or perversion of our remarks that might be made by the imperialist press. Our forgetfulness on this point was not unnatural indeed, but it was hardly excusable, and we sincerely and deeply regret it. We wrote, moreover, with a partial misapprehension of the chief design of M. Montalembert's essay. We, as well as many others, supposed that the chief design of the illustrious author was to induce his countrymen to make an effort to obtain for France a political constitution modelled after that of England, which, in the present state of French society, we look upon both as undesirable and impracticable; but we are now satisfied that whatever his admiration of the British constitution, or his desire to obtain for his own countrymen the liberty it secures to Englishmen, his chief design was to warn Catholics in those states which still retain a greater or less degree of constitutional or parliamentary liberty, to be on their gnard against the prestige of the imperial régime, to deepen their love of political freedom, and to induce them to resist manfully, with all the power and influence they possess, the further extension of the new-fangled cæsarism which seems to have succeeded in Europe, since 1852, to the red-repnblicanism of 1818. He wished, no doubt, to counteract in Switzerland, Prussia, Holland, Belgium, Great Britain, and the United States, the influence of that portion of the French Catholic press, which, not content with yielding the new government in France a firm, dignified, and loyal support, has deemed it proper to rehabilitate in its favor theoretic despotism, and to decry as anti-Christian parliamentary government and its defenders. To this design we at least have nothing to object.
* Des Appels comme d' Abus et des Articles Organiques du Concordat. Par le COMTE DE MONTALEMBERT. Paris : Le Correspondant, April, 1857.
We never wished the overthrow of the monarchy of July, or the republic of February, 1848. But when that republic had been once inaugurated, our readers know that we wished it to have a fair trial, and that we believed it susceptible of such modifications and developments as would secure social order, and the freedom, independence, and prosperity of France. We were opposed to the efforts of the monarchists, whatever their dynastic preferences, to subvert it, and reëstablish monarchy. But when it had been subverted, and the empire revived in Napoleon III., although we distrusted the emperor, especially in relation to the freedom of the church, we believed it better to give him a loyal support, than to expose France to the horrors of a new revolution, or of a civil war. It was with this view, which we still entertain, that we wrote our strictures on M. Montalembert's essay, and urged him and his friends not to stand aloof from the government, not to assume an attitude of opposition or quasi-opposition to the new power, but to accept the emperor as a “fixed fact,” to unite with him, and seek the true interests of their noble country under the imperial drapeau. But we committed the usual mistake of those who are giving advice in relation to matters they only half understand. Our advice was good, our policy admirable, only it happened to be wholly impracticable. What we urged was what our friends were perfectly willing and even anxious to do, but precisely what the emperor will not permit them to do. As a Catholic, we have always looked
the imperial government chiefly from the Catholic point of view, and, though not liking it, we have always felt that if it permitted the free, untrammelled expression of Catholic thought and aspirations, it would be endurable and compatible with the best part of liberty. We distrusted from the first the personal dispositions of the emperor towards religious liberty, and we could find nothing in his words or his acts to give us any assurance that he either understood or desired the true freedom and interests of the church. We yet trusted that Catholicity had so revived in France, the old-fashioned Gallicanism had been so generally repudiated by the bishops and clergy as well as by a very considerable number of the Catholic nobility, and the devotion to the Holy See had become so wide and so deep, that the Catholic public opinion of the empire would be strong enough to prevent any gross encroachments on the rights of the church by the state, and to maintain, in practice at least, full liberty to defend publicly through the press an unmutilated, an unernasculated Catholicity, -liberty, in practice at least, for the Catholic champions to maintain publicly the inherent rights of the church, and the incompetency of the state in spirituals. We felt confident, if this were so, our friends could erect a barrier to the encroachments of the civil power on the ecclesiastical, practically secure the freedom of conscience, and thus prevent imperialism from growing into absolute cæsarism. “But we reckoned without our host. It now appears that this liberty is precisely what is most strenuously denied them, and what the imperial police is on the alert to detect and suppress. Hardly had our criticism on M. Montalembert issued from the press, before we learned that the Correspondant had received an avertissement or warning from the police à propos of an able and spirited essay by the Prince de Broglie on the present state of religious controversy in France; we learn from the Univers of the 3d of sup
May last, that it has received a second warning on account of the paper cited at the head of this article by Count Montaleinl rt, written, indeed, with great force and ability, but in a temperate and loyal spirit. One more warning, and the police, as the law now stands, may suppress the publication of the Correspondant entirely, and thus silence the only organ of Catholic independence in France.
We have read both articles, and find it difficult to discover any thing in them at which the government could take exception. The civil power that can fear them must have a vivid consciousness of its own weakness, or the usual sensitiveness of the parvenu. Power that cannot suffer such criticisms as these articles to pass
without censure, lest its own stability should be shaken, seems to us to be greatly misplaced in a nation so intelligent and so highly civilized as France, and to be hardly worth defending. We had posed the imperial government too strong, and too deeply seated in the heart of France, to fear such criticisms, and we had also supposed that the emperor himself was too noble, too high-minded, and too generous in his feelings, too keensighted as well as too broad and comprehensive in his views, and too much wedded to the interests and dignity of French literature, to which he has made so many and so valuable contributions, to be offended at them, or to suffer his police to interfere to suppress them. Not in France in the nineteenth century, can an emperor secure a glorious reign and establish his dynasty, by outraging free thought and free speech, and offering an indignity to men of letters, or to loyal though manly intelligence. Intelligence, in the long run, is sure to carry it over brute force, and men of letters will succeed where men of the sword must succumb. He wages an unequal war, who opposes bayonets to the subtile essence of intellect, or attempts to trample out free thought by a charge of his cavalry. Still more unequal war does he wage, who wars against the Catholic conscience and the inherent rights of God's church. The uncle of the present emperor, with an army and a military genius never surpassed, tried both, failed, and went to fret out the remainder of his life, a caged prisoner, on a barren isle of the ocean. Let the nephew take warning by the fate of his uncle. Let him provoke no war of opinion, or imagine that he can by his police extinguish free, manly thought in French breasts, or rednce to silence French lips. Let his police exert their utmost vigilance, let them be, as it were, ubiquitous, yet,