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CHAPTER 6 (continued) - William Edward Hartpole Lecky, Democracy and Liberty, vol. 2 
Democracy and Liberty, edited and with an Introduction by William Murchison, 2 vols. (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1981). Vol. 2.
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DEMOCRACY AND LIBERTY
CHAPTER 6 (continued)
There is one other subject connected with religious liberty that is likely to occupy a large share in the attention of the democracies of the future. It is the position and the aggressive policy of the Catholic Church. Of all the judgments of the great thinkers of the eighteenth century, none have been more signally falsified than those which they formed of the future of the Catholic Church. With scarcely an exception, they believed that its sacerdotal, superstitious, intolerant, and ultramontane elements were silently fading away; that it was taking more and more the character of a purely moralising influence; and that all danger of antagonism between it and the civil power had passed for ever. The delusion lasted for several years after the French Revolution, and it may be very clearly traced in the speeches and writings of the chief advocates of Catholic Emancipation. Many of them lived to acknowledge their mistake. There is a characteristically cynical saying attributed to Lord Melbourne, that on that question ‘all the d—–d fools in England predicted one set of things, and all the sensible men in England another set, and that the d—–d fools proved perfectly right, and the sensible men perfectly wrong.’
I have been told on excellent authority, that Macaulay once expressed in more decorous language a very similar view. ‘I do not mean to take the white sheet,’ he is reported to have said, ‘for I acted honestly and conscientiously, but I now see that all we did for the Catholics has turned out badly.’ The belief that Protestant and Catholic would become almost indistinguishable in the field of politics, and that the association of disaffection with Catholicism was purely casual and ephemeral, has proved ludicrously false, and in Ireland, as on the Continent, the question of priestly influence in politics is one of the most pressing of our time.
Looking back with the cheap wisdom which is supplied by the event, it is not difficult to trace the causes of this disappointment. In the comparatively narrow sphere of the United Kingdom, much is to be attributed to a strangely unbroken series of legislative blunders. Strong arguments have been urged in support of the opinion that some legislation resembling the Irish Penal Code against the Catholics was inevitable after the great social and political convulsions of the Revolution; but two parts of these laws had an evil influence of the most profound and enduring kind. The laws forbidding Catholics to purchase or inherit land, or to acquire lasting and profitable land-tenures, had the effect of producing in Ireland the most dangerous of class divisions; while the laws preventing or restricting Catholic education reduced the Catholic population to a far lower level of civilisation than their Protestant countrymen. When, at last, the hour of emancipation struck, the difficult task was most unskilfully accomplished. By the Irish Act of 1793 the vast ignorant Catholic democracy were granted votes for which they were utterly unfit, while the intelligent and loyal Catholic gentry were still excluded from Parliament, and thus prevented from exercising over their poorer co-religionists the guiding and restraining influence which was pre-eminently wanting.
The education of the priests was equally mismanaged. There was a moment when it would have been quite possible to connect a seminary for the special education of priests with Dublin University, and thus to secure for the teachers of the Irish people a high level of secular education, and close and friendly connection with their Protestant contemporaries. If this course had been adopted, and if it had been combined with a State payment of the priests, the whole complexion of later Irish history might have been changed. But the opportunity was neglected. The priests were left wholly dependent on the dues of their people, and they were educated, apart from all the great secular influences of their time, in a separate seminary, which soon became a hotbed of disloyalty and of obscurantism. Then followed the shameful frustration of Catholic hopes at the time of Lord Fitzwilliam, and of the Union, which left a deep stain upon the good faith of the Government, and added immensely to Catholic disloyalty. Nothing, in the light of history, can be more clear than that it was of vital importance that the Legislative Union should have been accompanied by the three great measures of Catholic Emancipation, the commutation of tithes, and the payment of the priests; but all these measures were suffered to fail. The Catholics remained outside Parliament till a great agitation had brought the country to the verge of civil war. The tithe system, which, more than any other single influence, tended to disorganise and demoralise Irish country life, was suffered to continue unchanged for thirty-eight years after the Union, and State payment of the priests, which nearly all the best judges had pronounced essential to the tranquillity of Ireland, was never accomplished.
It was a strange story, and it seems all the more strange if we compare it with the corresponding measures about the English Catholics. The concession of the suffrage to the vast ignorant majority of Irish Catholics was a measure of great danger, and it was accomplished in 1793; but the English Catholics, who could be no possible danger to the State, were excluded from the franchise till 1829. The Irish Catholics were admitted, before the close of the eighteenth century, to the magistracy, to degrees in Trinity College, to membership of lay corporations, and to every rank in the army except that of general of the staff. In England, for many years after this concession, they could neither be magistrates, nor members of corporations, nor enter the universities, nor legally hold any rank in the army. In Canada, on the other hand, all offices were open to them.1
The ill-fate that hung over British legislation about the Catholics still continued. The permanent insanity of George III. in 1812 removed what at the time of the Union had been deemed the one insuperable obstacle to their emancipation, and the Catholics were then perfectly ready to accept a State endowment for the priesthood, and, at the same time, to concede to the Government a right of veto on the appointment of their bishops. But the ascendency of the Tory party and the ability of Peel succeeded in again deferring the settlement of the question, and, in consequence of the postponement, a new agitation arose under O'Connell, which enormously increased its difficulties. O'Connell induced the Irish priesthood to repudiate the ‘securities’ which they had previously accepted, and which Grattan and most of the other leading advocates of Catholic Emancipation had considered essential to its safe enactment. He gave the agitation an entirely democratic character, dissociating it from the property of the country, and placing the priesthood at its head. The creation of the Catholic Association in 1823 marked the triumph of his influence, and the election of 1826 showed clearly the instrumentality by which it was worked.
The Chief Secretary, Goulburn, described this election in some striking letters to Peel. ‘Never,’ he wrote, ‘were Roman Catholic and Protestant so decidedly opposed. Never did the former act with so general a concert, or place themselves so completely under the command of the priesthood; and never did the priests assume to themselves such authority, and exercise their power so openly in a manner the most extraordinary and alarming.’ The priests exercise on all matters a dominion perfectly uncontrolled and uncontrollable. In many parts of the country their sermons are purely political, and the altars in the several chapels are the rostra from which they declaim on the subject of Roman Catholic grievances, exhort to the collection of rent,2 or denounce their Protestant neighbours in a mode perfectly intelligible and effective, but not within the grasp of the law. In several towns no Roman Catholic will now deal with a Protestant shopkeeper in consequence of the priest's interdiction, and this species of interference, stirring up enmity on one hand and feelings of resentment on the other, is mainly conducive to outrage and disorder…. It is impossible to detail to you in a letter the various modes in which the Roman Catholic priesthood now interfere in every transaction of every description; how they rule the mob, the gentry, and the magistracy; how they impede the administration of justice.3
The evil culminated in 1829. The necessary measure of Catholic emancipation was conceded, but it was conceded not by the triumph of its advocates, but by the intimidation of its enemies. It was carried by a ministry which was placed in power for the special purpose of resisting it, and avowedly in consequence of a great priestly and democratic agitation, and through fear of civil war. Except the disfranchisement of forty-shilling freeholders, no measure was taken to regulate and moderate the change. An oath, it is true, was imposed on Catholic members, binding them in very solemn terms to use no privilege the Act gave them ‘to disturb or weaken the Protestant religion or Protestant government of the United Kingdom.’ But this oath was soon treated, with the full approbation of the priests, as a dead-letter.4 No step was taken for the endowment, or the discipline, or the better education of the priesthood, or for the prevention of exercises of ecclesiastical authority that are subversive of civil rights; while the exclusion of a few eminent Catholics from promotion to which they were most justly entitled contributed immensely to exasperate the leaders and perpetuate the agitation.
The Whig party had long believed that, if Catholic Emancipation were conceded, the Irish priests would become a great restraining and moralising influence on the side of the law. Many of them, both before and after Emancipation, have been so, but it cannot be said that in general this hope was realised. In 1847, Lord Minto was instructed by the British Government to bring their conduct before the authorities at the Vatican, and Lord Palmerston, who was then Minister for Foreign Affairs, wrote him a letter containing the following instructive passage: ‘You may confidently assure the Papal authorities that at the present in Ireland misconduct is the rule and good conduct the exception in the Catholic priests; that they, in a multitude of cases, are the open, and fearless, and shameless instigators to disorder, to violence, and murder, and that every day and every week the better-conducted, who are by constitution of human nature the most quiet and timid, are being scared by their fellow-priests, as well as by their flocks, from a perseverance in any efforts to give good counsel and to restrain violence and crime. Major Mahon, who was shot the other day, was denounced by his priest at the altar the Sunday before he was murdered. He might have been murdered all the same if the priest had not denounced him, but that denunciation, of course, made all the people of the neighbourhood think the deed a holy one instead of a diabolical one…. I really believe there never has been in modern times, in any country professing to be civilised and Christian, nor anywhere out of the central regions of Africa, such a state of crime as now exists in Ireland. There is evidently a deliberate and extensive conspiracy among the priests and the peasantry to kill off or drive away all the proprietors of land, to prevent and deter any of their agents from collecting rent, and thus practically to transfer the land of the country from the landowner to the tenant.’5
The accompanying memorandum of Lord Clarendon, who was then Lord Lieutenant, states the facts in more moderate terms, and throws some light upon their cause.
‘With respect to the priests,’ he writes, ‘I must again report that, as a body, there is not in the world a more zealous, faithful, hardworking clergy, and most of the older priests are friendly to order, to education, and to the general improvement of the people. There are, however, some unfortunate exceptions, but it is among the younger clergy, the curates and coadjutors, that the real mischief-makers are to be found…. There are at this moment numerous cases in which, if evidence could be procured, a prosecution could be sustained against priests as accessories to atrocious crimes by the inciting language they have held to people over whose minds they exercise an absolute control…. From different parts of the country, and from persons upon whose veracity I can confide, I hear either that a landlord has been denounced by name from the altar in a manner which is equivalent to his death-warrant, or that persons giving evidence against criminals are held up as public enemies and traitors, or that people are advised to assemble in mobs and enforce their demands upon individuals. It was only yesterday that I heard of a priest (in the diocese of Dr. McHale) addressing a man in the chapel, and telling him that he would not curse him, because the last man he had cursed died directly, but that before the blossom fell from the potato he would be a corpse. This man's offence was having given evidence in a court of justice against a party that had broken into his house and robbed him. I have sworn depositions now lying on my table in proof of acts of this kind, but the deponents dare not come forward and openly give their evidence, for they say—and I know it to be true—that their lives would not be worth twenty-four hours’ purchase. Indeed, to prevent any misunderstanding upon this subject, the priest usually defies any person to give information of what he has been saying, and warns them of the consequences.
The result of all this is…. that the clergy, to maintain their position, must still pander to the passions of their flock. In places—and there are many—where a priest friendly to order and anxious for the real welfare of his people has given good advice, and intimated that among those present in the chapel there were some who had been guilty of such-and-such crimes, the individuals alluded to will come forward and bid him hold his tongue, and threaten him with vengeance if he proceeds. I could multiply facts and details ad infinitum, for every day some fresh case comes to my knowledge…. Wherever the priests so misconduct themselves, there the people are always found to be the most turbulent and wretched. The indignation, and, I may add, shame, of the respectable Roman classes are extreme…. I feel sure that a Papal prohibition to take part in political agitations and to make use of the places of worship for secular purposes, would be received as a great boon by the well-disposed priests (i.e. the majority of the clergy), who, when they become agitators, yield to intimidation, and are compelled to act against their judgment. If they could appeal to the sanction of the Pope's authority for confining themselves to their spiritual duties, they would not fear to have their chapels deserted, and thus find themselves destitute of the means of subsistence.
‘To the best of my belief, the bishops are not in the habit of punishing such misdeeds as those I have alluded to. They may do so; but I have neither official nor private knowledge of the fact, and, if they do, their interference is not very successful.’6
These extracts will sufficiently explain the nature and causes of a priestly despotism in Ireland which probably, on the whole, exceeds that in any other European country. It is of a somewhat peculiar character, for the political element largely mixes with the religious one. The priests are at once intimidated and intimidators, and their power is often used in ways wholly unsanctioned by the doctrines of their Church. In all those large fields of morals in which they are supported by a healthy moral feeling among their congregations their conduct has usually been exemplary. In those cases in which the moral sense of the community has been gravely perverted, a great proportion of them have either shared, or yielded to the perversion, and they have often lent all their influence to support it.
The events of the last few years have abundantly shown that the evils indicated by Lord Clarendon have not disappeared. The nature, methods and objects of the great recent agrarian conspiracy have been established beyond all reasonable controversy by an exhaustive judicial inquiry before three eminent English judges, and the sworn evidence they have accumulated and the judgments they have given are open to the world. They have pronounced, among other things, that the movement was ‘a conspiracy by a system of coercion and intimidation to promote an agrarian agitation against the payment of agricultural rents, for the purpose of impoverishing and expelling from the country the Irish landlords, who were styled “the English garrison;”’ that the leaders of this conspiracy were active inciters to an intimidation which produced crime and outrage, and that they ‘persisted in it with knowledge of its effect.’7 In every stage of this conspiracy the Catholic priest has been a leading actor. Nearly always he has been the chairman of the local Land League, has collected its subscriptions, inspired its policy, countenanced, at least by his silence, the outrages it produced, supported it from the pulpit and from the altar. It is a memorable and most characteristic fact, that during the ‘no rent conspiracy,’ when the sheriff's officers appeared to enforce the law, the chapel bells were continually rung to summon rioters to resist, or to enable the defaulting farmers to baffle their creditors by driving away their cattle.8 The fraudulent conspiracy known as the Plan of Campaign, and the ‘elaborate and all-pervading tyranny’9 known under the name of boycotting, have been both formally condemned by the highest authority in the Catholic Church; but Catholic priests have been among their warmest supporters and their most industrious instigators, and the men who, in defiance of the censure of their Church, most steadily practised, preached, and eulogised them have been, and are, favoured guests in Catholic episcopal dwellings.
Nor is this all that can be truly said. Under the teaching of the Catholic clergy the moral sense of great masses of the Irish people has been so perverted that the most atrocious murders, if they have any agrarian end, carry with them no blame, and their perpetrators are sedulously sheltered from justice. It is impossible to disguise the significance of the fact that nearly all those murderers who have been brought to justice have been Catholics; that nearly all of them have gone to the gallows fortified by the rites of their Church, and professing the most complete and absolute submission to its commands; and yet, that scarcely in a single instance have they made the only reparation in their power, by publicly acknowledging their guilt and the justice of their sentence. I do not suppose that any English minister would venture to propose that a murderer who sent his victim into another world ‘unhousel'd, disappointed, unanel'd,’ with all his sins upon his head, and with no possiblity of obtaining spiritual consolation or assistance, should himself only be allowed to receive such consolation up to the moment of his conviction. But it may be doubted whether any other single measure would do so much to strengthen criminal law in Ireland.
After the well-known murders that were committed in the Phoenix Park in 1882, protests of more or less sincerity expressing horror at those murders were put forward by popular leaders. But no one who knows Ireland will deny that, when the perpetrators were detected and brought to justice upon the clearest evidence, the strong popular sentiment was in their favour. Those who were present have described the crowds outside the prison-gates at the time of the execution, kneeling on the bare ground, and praying with the most passionate devotion for men whom they evidently regarded as martyrs. One member of the band, it is true, was excepted, and became the object of ferocious hatred; but he was hated, not because he was a murderer, but because he saved his life by giving evidence against his fellow-culprits. It is well known that James Carey was afterwards most deliberately murdered, and that his murderer, having been tried by an English judge and jury, was duly hanged. It is not so well known that in the principal Catholic cemetery of Dublin an imposing monument was soon after erected—as far as I know, without a single ecclesiastical protest—to the murderer of Carey, with an epitaph holding up that murderer, in language in which religion and perverted patriotism are grotesquely mixed, to the admiration and imitation of his countrymen.10 There is, probably, no other Christian country in which such a thing could have happened. There is certainly no Catholic Government that would have permitted it.
The enormous accession of political power which recent legislation has given to the Catholic priesthood in Ireland is very evident. Its whole tendency has been to diminish and destroy the influence of the propertied classes. The ballot, which was supposed to secure freedom of vote, has had no restraining influence upon a priesthood who claim an empire over the thoughts and secret actions of men; and it is stated on good authority that in cases where the secret sentiments of the voters were suspected they have been continually induced to pass themselves off as illiterate, in order that they may vote openly in the presence of their priest. This much at least is certain, that in a country where an excellent system of national education has been established since 1834, and where the average children are certainly far quicker than in England in acquiring instruction, more than one elector out of every five at the election of 1892 professed himself to be an illiterate.11 The suffrage has been so lowered as to place an overwhelming proportion of power in the hands of the classes who are completely under priestly influence, and that influence has been strained to the utmost. Some recent election trials have brought vividly before the world the manner in which it is exercised; which was, indeed, well known to all who are acquainted with Irish life. We have seen a bishop, in his pastorals, dictating the political conduct of the voters with exactly the same kind and weight of authority as if he were prescribing a fast or promulgating a theological doctrine. We have seen the whole body of the priesthood turned into electioneering agents, and employing for political purposes all the engines and powers of their profession. The chapel under this system becomes an electioneering meeting. Priests vested in their sacerdotal robes prescribe the votes of their congregations from the altar, from the pulpit, and, as there is good reason to believe, in the confessional, and every kind of spiritual threat is employed steadily, persistently, and effectually to coerce the voters.12 Few things in politics are more grotesque than a system of legislation which, in the name of Liberal principles, has been endeavouring in every possible way to break down the influence of property, loyalty, and intelligence at elections, and has ended in constituting over a great part of Ireland a monopoly of power in the hands of the priesthood which is quite as absolute as the monopoly that existed in the darkest days of Tory ascendency, and which is certainly immeasurably more prejudicial to the interests of the Empire.
The influences affecting Catholic affairs in Ireland stand somewhat apart from those that have acted upon Continental Catholicism, but a few words may be sufficient to describe the causes that falsified the predictions of the best European judges of the eighteenth century. Something was due to the violent reaction in the direction of religion which followed the horrors of the French Revolution, and, at a later period, of the Commune; and also to the extremely subversive doctrines relating to the foundations of religion, morals, and property, which have of late years been widely disseminated. Probably still more is due to the rapid, and for the most part silent, spread of scepticism and indifferentism among the laity in nearly all Catholic countries. It has detached from all religious practices and controversies numbers who, in another age, would have proved the chief moderating and restraining influence in the Church, and it has thrown the direction of that great organisation more and more into the hands of priests and fanatics. At the same time, the very violence of the conflict between the Church and its opponents has accentuated on each side the points of difference, and the great confiscations of ecclesiastical property have tended powerfully in the same direction. In a Church which is established and endowed, in which secular tribunals have a great place, and which has large temporal and secular interests, there will always be much that diverts or moderates the fervour of the sectarian spirit. But when the priest is nothing but a priest, and when his power and dignity rest exclusively on his sacerdotal character, he will naturally exalt it to the highest point, and the interests of the Church will become the passion of his life. In Protestant Churches, there is a marked difference between the moderation that is displayed and the latitude of opinion that is permitted in established Churches, and the narrower and more intolerant dogmatism that usually prevails in free Churches; but in all branches of Protestantism the marriage of the clergy, and the family interests and affections it entails, have greatly mitigated the purely theological spirit. In Catholicism, with a celibate clergy, with a doctrinal system intended to exalt to the highest degree sacerdotal dignity, and with a Church organisation that is eminently fit to attract to itself the kind of enthusiasm and devotion which is elsewhere attracted to the country, this sacerdotal spirit is incomparably more intense, and the men who converted the priesthood into a mere salaried body, and divested them of all temporal dignity, have unconsciously laboured to strengthen it. It was noticed during the last General Council that, of all the bishops, those who were most conspicuous for their independence and their moderation were the Bishops of Hungary and Croatia; and the manifest explanation was, that they were among the few bishops who were neither disestablished nor disendowed, and that the sentiments of the great nobleman blended in them with the sentiments of the priest. The Italian priests are, probably, at least as superstitious in their theological belief as their colleagues in France, but their fanaticism is much less, and they arouse far less hostility among their people. One great reason of this appears to be, that a small plot of land is attached to each parish in Italy; that the Italian priest, for the most part cultivating it himself, acquires the tastes, habits, interests, and sympathies of a small farmer, while the French priest is a priest, and nothing more, and all his interests are those of his Church.13
A change which has taken place in many countries in the internal arrangements and discipline of the Church has also tended greatly to give the priesthood a more restless, aggressive, and intensely sacerdotal character. Formerly the position of the parish priest was usually a very independent and secure one, much like that of an Anglican rector. It has been of late the policy of the Church to make it more precarious, and to make the priest much more dependent on the goodwill of his bishop.
The increase of Catholic enthusiasm over large portions of the Continent in the latter half of the present century has been very remarkable. Few pages in the history of the nineteenth century will be hereafter regarded as more curious than the revival, in a scientific and highly industrial age, on a vast scale, of the mediæval pilgrimages, with all their old accompaniments of visions and miracles. It is true that, like most successful movements of this century, it has been due not to one but to many impulses, and that these are by no means exclusively religious. Politics have borne a large part; and the period when the pilgrimages assumed their greatest prominence was in the few years that followed the war of 1870, when the French Catholic party were labouring desperately to kindle a strong Legitimist as well as religious fanaticism, for the double purpose of placing the Comte de Chambord on the throne of France, and of restoring the temporal power of the Pope. Apparition after apparition of the Virgin Mary was announced, accompanied by prophecies foreshadowing these events, and the great pilgrimages that were organised were almost wholly in the hands of the Legitimist party.14 Speeches, hymns, banners, and emblems continually pointing to the speedy restoration of the Monarchy of the White Flag, gave them the character of great political demonstrations.
Other motives may be traced which are not very unlike those that have contributed considerably to the success of the great Primrose League in England. The pilgrimages were under very aristocratic guidance, and large classes who were struggling on the verge of good society found that by throwing themselves into the movement their social ambition was largely helped. The desire for change and for new and strong emotions, which is so characteristic of our time, bore a large part. The love of pleasure was gratified by a gigantic excursion, and the love of show by the pomp of a great religious ceremony; the organisation of a pilgrimage introduced a new interest and animation into dull country life; the banner, which was only authorised when a given number of pilgrims had been enlisted, and the enrolment of the largest contributors in ‘the book of gold’ deposited at Lourdes, created a keen emulation.15 Great local and material interests grew up in connection with the pilgrimages. Miraculous waters were widely sold, and much charlatanism, of which the priests were probably very innocent, was connected with them.16 Cures were accomplished, as is always the case under the influence of a strong enthusiasm; and, as is also always the case, they were multiplied and magnified a hundredfold. The pilgrimages acquired the popularity of a new and greatly advertised remedy, and the mere assemblage of vast, enthusiastic multitudes kindled by the force of contagious sympathy an ever-growing flame.
New and comparatively obscure forms of devotion rose rapidly into popularity. The devotion of the Sacre Cœur which grew out of the visions of Marie Alacoque at Paray-le-Monial at the close of the seventeenth century, and which was especially favoured by the Jesuits; the devotions connected with St. Joseph, to which Pius IX. gave a great impulse; the innumerable works of charity and piety associated with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, have been the most remarkable. A vast network of confraternities, ‘cercles,’ Catholic Committees, and other organisations has grown up over France for the purpose of acting on different classes of society, directing, stimulating, and organising religious fervour and propagandism. ‘Christian Corporations’ and ‘Catholic workmen's clubs’ especially multiplied. In 1878 there were said to have been more than four hundred of these clubs in France, with nearly 100,000 persons enrolled in them, and a law which was enacted in 1884, giving fuller powers to syndicates or trades unions, greatly assisted them by giving them a new right of holding property.17
It is impossible in a work like the present to give any adequate account of the vast mass of zeal which has been poured into these various channels, but a careful study will amply repay those who take a serious interest in the religious history of the nineteenth century. Millions of copies of tracts and catechisms for young children and for the poor were scattered abroad, and many of them were pervaded by a superstition as gross and by an intolerance as intense as any that existed in the Middle Ages. Education especially has been the field in which the Catholic priests have shown themselves most active, and there was a period when, in nearly every grade, French education was mainly dominated by their influence.
All this was accompanied by a strong movement towards religious centralisation. Under Pius IX. the power of the Jesuits enormously increased in the Church, and the whole tendency of the ‘Univers’ and of its remarkable editor, Louis Veuillot, was to supersede the influence of the bishops by the more direct action of the Jesuits and of the Pope. The Gallican theory of Catholicism, which gave the French Church a large measure of independence, was definitely overthrown, amid the almost complete indifference of the great body of the laity, who had once been its most ardent supporters; the type of Catholicism identified with the great names of Lamennais, Lacordaire, Montalembert, and de Falloux, which was strongly anti-Gallican, but at the same time on its political side sincerely liberal, was equally crushed. The definition, in 1854, of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception by Pius IX., without the convocation of a General Council, prepared the way for the declaration by the General Council of 1870 that the Pope was infallible in faith and morals; and although some obscurity was still suffered to rest upon the conditions under which this infallibility was called into action, it was left to the Pope himself to define the frontier of his own inspiration. All over Catholic Europe the triumph of the Ultramontane theory was recognised as a great step to complete centralisation, converting the Church from a limited into an absolute monarchy. If the power of the bishops over the parish priests was increased, their own power in the government of the Church was materially diminished. The saying attributed to the old Duke de Sermoneta was as true as it was witty: ‘They entered the Council shepherds—they came out of it sheep.’ By committing itself to the infallibility of the long line of Popes the Church cut itself off from the historical spirit and learning of the age, and has exposed itself to such crushing and unanswerable refutations as the treatise of Janus and the Letters of Gratry. But if Catholicism has dissociated itself more and more from the intellect of Europe, and become more and more incredible to the small class of earnest, truth-seeking scholars, it has greatly increased its power of acting on vast ignorant democracies. A cause which is embodied in a single man is, with such democracies, far more popular than a cause which rests upon any abstract principles or on any governing class, and the Church acquired a greatly increased discipline and concentration, and a much greater power of carrying out a policy independently of all local and national influences.
It had already abundantly shown that its old spirit of intolerance was not abandoned. This was clearly manifested in the Encyclical Letter of Gregory XVI., which was issued in 1832, condemning the prevailing doctrine that men of upright and honest lives might obtain salvation in any faith, tracing to this noxious source the ‘absurd and erroneous opinion, or rather form of madness, which was spread abroad to the ruin of religious and civil society,’ that ‘liberty of conscience must be assured and guaranteed to every one,’ and condemning in terms of equal violence unrestricted liberty of publication. In the Concordat with Spain in 1851, and in the Concordat with the Republic of the Equator in 1862, it was expressly stipulated that ‘no other forms of worship than the Catholic one should be tolerated’ in the land. ‘That each man is free to embrace and profess the religion which by the light of his reason he believes to be true;’ ‘that the Church may not employ force;’ ‘that Church and State should be separated;’ ‘that national Churches may be established which are not under the authority of the Roman Pontiff;’ ‘that it is no longer expedient that the Catholic religion should be considered as the only religion of the State, to the exclusion of all other forms of worship;’ ‘that in countries called Catholic the public exercise of their own religions may be laudably granted to immigrants;’ ‘that the Roman Pontiff ought to come to terms with progress, liberalism, and modern civilisation,’ are among the propositions enumerated in the famous Syllabus of 1864 as authoritatively condemned by the Church. The meaning and scope of such condemnations are clearly shown by the formal ecclesiastical condemnation of the laws or institutions which, in Belgium, Austria, Spain, Tuscany, Bavaria, and some States in South America, have in the present century established freedom of religious worship and accorded civil rights to members of different creeds.18 As late as 1884, Pope Leo XIII. delivered an allocution to the assembled Cardinals, in which he denounced, as one of the worst crimes of the Italian Government, that Protestant doctrines were openly taught and Protestant churches established in Rome itself with complete liberty and impunity and under the protection of the laws.19 As late as 1893 the leading ecclesiastical authorities in Spain protested against the opening of a Protestant church in Madrid as an insult to their faith.20
At the same time, when Governments based on other principles have been established, the Church has usually accepted them, has authorised Catholics to swear allegiance to them, and has used all her spiritual influence to direct and mould them to her ends. Veuillot, in a striking sentence, expressed with great candour the policy of his party. ‘When you are the masters,’ he said to the Liberals and Protestants, ‘we claim perfect liberty for ouselves, as your principles require it; when we are the masters we refuse it to you, as it is contrary to our principles.21
The use of distinctly spiritual influence in politics has been one of the gravest difficulties in Catholic countries. The following, for example, is part of an address issued in 1872 by the Cardinal Archbishop of Chambery to his clergy. ‘Monsieur le Curé, next Sunday, the 7th inst., the election of a deputy will go on in each commune…. Reduce on this day the parish service to a low Mass celebrated early in the morning. Recommend all your electors to go and vote, and to elect a good Catholic. Tell them that it is for them an obligation of conscience under penalty of grave sin. Take care that there is no abstention in your parish.22 In Belgium and in French Canada, as well as in Ireland, priests have been among the most active electioneering agents, and their success has always depended mainly upon their spiritual authority. In Italy, the Pope gives the order which causes great multitudes of electors to abstain from elections. In France, when divorce was established, the ecclesiastical authorities did not content themselves with the legitimate course of informing their flocks that good Catholics must not avail themselves of the privilege granted by the law. They proceeded, ‘with the express approbation of the Pope,’ to issue a declaration directly attacking the administration of public justice, by pronouncing that no Catholic judge could legitimately grant a divorce, and no Catholic advocate plead for one.23 In Germany, the Catholic party have not only won a great victory, but have also formed a distinct and powerful party, and German politics largely depend upon its bargains with the Government. When a ministry had introduced some measure for the increase of the army or navy, on the ground that it is essential to the security of the country, it has more than once happened that the vote of the Catholic party could turn the scale, and that their vote depended avowedly on the concessions on purely Catholic questions that the Government were prepared to make. In Germany, a priesthood far more educated and intelligent than in most countries have thrown themselves heartily into politics, and have done so with brilliant success. The remarkable triumph of the Catholic party at the election of 1890 appears to have been generally attributed by friend and foe to their skilful conduct, and it placed no less than twenty-three priests in the Reichstag, while twenty-seven others sat in the subordinate German parliaments.24 Leo XIII. has been much praised in England for the direction he gave to the French Catholics to rally round the Republic. The measure may have been a wise one; but it is surely a startling thing when Frenchmen who have been long attached to the Royalist or Imperialist cause consider themselves bound by their religious duty to abandon the politics of their lives at the order of an Italian priest.
The Catholic Church is essentially a State within a State, with its frontiers, its policy, and its leaders entirely distinct from those of the nation, and it can command an enthusiasm and a devotion at least as powerful and as widespread as the enthusiasm of patriotism. It claims to be a higher authority than the State: to exercise a Divine, and therefore a supreme, authority over belief, morals, and education, and to possess the right of defining the limits of its own authority. It also demands obedience even where it does not claim infallibility; and it claims a controlling influence over a vast and indefinite province which lies beyond the limits of authoritatively formulated doctrine. The Council of the Vatican laid down that all Catholics, whatever may be their position, ‘are subject to the duty of hierarchical subordination and of a true obedience, not only in the things that concern faith and morals, but also in those which belong to the discipline and the government of the Church spread throughout the universe.’ On the strength of this decree, and on the strength of various Papal encyclicals, or instructions relating to political or social matters, attempts have been made to draw the whole fields of politics, political economy, and social questions within the empire of the Church, on the ground that particular courses adopted on all these questions may promote or impede its interests. In the words of Cardinal Lavigerie, ‘In the order of facts which practically interest religion and the Church’ the counsels or precepts of the Vicar of Christ have an absolute right to the submission of Catholics. To dispute this, and to draw distinctions between less authoritative and more authoritative Papal commands, is, according to the Cardinal, ‘a grave error, condemned by the Council of the Vatican with the other errors of ancient Gallicanism.25
The Church has in every parish one or more priests entirely devoted to its service; it exercises an enormous influence over the whole female population, over the education of the young, over the periods of weakness, sickness, enfeebled faculties, and approaching death. It meddles persistently in domestic life, dictating the conditions of marriage, prescribing to the parent the places of secular education to which he may or may not send his children, interfering between the husband and the wife, and between the parent and the child. It orders all men, under pain of eternal perdition, to attend its ministrations, to obey its precepts, to reveal in the confessional the inmost secrets of their hearts. It professes also to possess spiritual powers which furnish it with extraordinary means of levying taxation. Its teaching about purgatory and Masses, acting, as it does, with peculiar force in the moments of bitter bereavement and in the terrors of approaching death, will always, in a believing Catholic country, secure it an ample independent revenue; and it has in every Church a tribune where its priest can harangue his congregation without the possibility of discussion or reply. Being itself independent of all Governments, and using all Governments for its own purposes, it has much to hope, as well as something to fear, from the transfer of the chief political power in the world to the most ignorant classes, and the modern tendency of most Parliaments to break up into small groups is exceedingly favourable to its influence. No other body possesses in so high a degree the power of cohesion, or can carry out more effectually the policy which has been successfully pursued by the Irish members in the Imperial Parliament. Its leaders are well aware of the enormously disproportioned power that can be exercised in a divided and balanced Parliament by a small group of earnest men who are prepared to subordinate to their special objects all national and party interests. It has also a rare power of waiting for opportunities, often suspending its claims, never formally abandoning them.
Such an organisation cannot be treated by legislators as if it were simply a form of secular opinion, and many good judges look with extreme alarm upon the dangerous power it may acquire in the democracies of the future. In the writings of Laveleye this fear continually appears in the darkest colours; but it must be remembered that Laveleye was a Belgian, and that Belgium is one of the countries where the religious conflict has assumed its acutest form. It is impossible, however, to be blind to the consensus of opinion on this subject which has grown up among the statesmen of most Catholic countries; and the tendency of historical research in Protestant countries is in the same direction. One of the facts which have been most painfully borne upon the minds of the more careful thinkers and students of the present generation is, how much stronger than our fathers imagined were the reasons which led former legislators to impose restrictive legislation on Catholicism. Measures of the Reformation period which, as lately as the days of Hallam, were regarded by the most enlightened historians as simple persecution, are now seen to have been in a large degree measures of necessary self-defence, or inevitable incidents in a civil war. As a matter of strict right, a Church which is in its own nature, in principle, and in practice persecuting wherever it has the power, cannot, like other religions, claim toleration; but all enlightened Protestant and free-thinking opinion would accord it to Catholic belief and worship in the amplest manner. But when the Catholic priests claim to be invested by Divine authority with the prerogatives of teaching, commanding, excommunicating, and forgiving sins, and when, by virtue of their spiritual authority, they attempt to dictate the politics of their congregations, the case cannot be lightly dismissed with mere commonplaces about religious toleration. Two things, at least, may be confidently stated. The one is, that when a large proportion of the electors in a nation submit to such dictation, that nation is very unfit for representative institutions. The other is, that a priesthood which acts on such principles must hold a position essentially different from a Protestant clergy.
In my own opinion, the danger of priestly ascendency is very serious in particular countries and provinces, but is not serious in the world at large. No one who takes a wide and impartial survey of the broad current of human affairs can fail to see that it is not running in the direction of priestly power. It is surely a significant fact that the whole aggregate political force of Catholicism in the world has not been sufficient to maintain the small temporal dominion of the Pope, although Popes who were pronounced to be infallible had declared with the utmost emphasis and authority that the maintenance of this dominion was of vital importance to the Catholic Church. In countries where almost the whole population had been baptised into the Catholic faith, the once terrible weapon of excommunication has proved absolutely idle. Who can fail to be struck with the contrast between the modern Popes, who have been vainly appealing to all Catholic kings and peoples to restore Rome to their dominion, and the ancient Popes, at whose command, during nearly two centuries,26 the flower of martial Christendom poured into the Holy Land, and the chief sovereigns of Europe consented to subordinate all temporal objects to the recovery of Jerusalem from the infidel? If there ever was an occasion in modern times when priestly influence seemed likely to triumph in France, it was during the deep depression which followed the disasters of 1870, when a Legitimist Parliament was elected, and assembled at Bordeaux. All the moral conditions of a great ecclesiastical revival seemed there, and strong political interests seemed turning in the same direction. It was widely believed in Germany, and was openly predicted by Bismarck, that France would place herself after her defeat at the head of the Catholic interest of Europe, and endeavour to paralyse German unity by acting through priestly influence on German Catholics.27 But all such predictions proved absolutely false. The result of the struggle was the total defeat of the Clerical party and the establishment of a fiercely anti-Clerical republic.
Nearly the whole Catholic world in the present century has based its constitutions and its religious legislation on principles that have been condemned by the Church. Full religious liberty, to which she is bitterly opposed, has been almost everywhere established. Civil marriage, which she hates, has passed into the legislation of most Catholic countries. National education, over which she claims an absolute directing power, has in most countries been wrested wholly or in a large measure from her hands. In an age in which, under the influence of democracy, the government of the world is passing more and more into uninstructed hands, no great importance may be attached to the fact that, in the literature of nominally Catholic countries, really Catholic literature holds only an infinitesimal place. It is, however, a more important fact that the press, which represents political force much more faithfully than literature, has long been mainly anti-Catholic, or at least completely indifferent to Catholic teaching. In no other department, indeed, have the Catholic party failed more conspicuously in establishing their influence.
Nor does the popular sentiment in democratic countries show any real signs of returning to the Church. There is, indeed, something in the meddling, monastic, inquisitorial, and pedagogic spirit of priestly government that seems to produce an altogether peculiar irritation in masculine natures. The Roman Government, during the days of the Papal ascendency, was a backward and ignorant Government, honeycombed with abuses, but it was neither extravagant, nor cruel, nor grossly oppressive; it secured for those who lived under it an assured peace and a unique dignity in the world, and it was presided over by a most amiable and well-meaning, though somewhat vain and foolish, old man. There have assuredly been many worse Governments, but few appear to have excited more animosity among its subjects.
The most unjustifiable and contemptible of all recent revolutions is, probably, that which in 1889 destroyed the monarchy in Brazil, deposing after a long, prosperous, and eminently beneficent reign one of the most enlightened and accomplished sovereigns of our age. He was, however, a kind of modern Prospero, caring more for scientific studies than for the government of men, and under his culpably indulgent rule traitors were suffered for at least twenty years to preach treason and form conspiracies with impunity. They succeeded at last, and power fell for a time into the hands of a small group of pretentious, philosophical pedants of a sect which modestly claims for itself the government of the world.28 Their State papers are a curious study, and have, I suppose, seldom been surpassed in grandiloquent absurdity. As might be expected, these men did not long hold power. Their chief in a short time ‘quitted’—in the words of their National Congress—‘the objective life for immortality,’29 and the direction of affairs passed into the strong hands of a series of ambitious soldiers, under whom a once prosperous country has been steadily traversing the well-known path to anarchy and bankruptcy. The significance of the story, however, lies in the fact that the one real public motive that seems to have entered into this revolution was the fear that in the near future priestly influence might acquire a dominating influence in the Government. The Brazilian Constitution of 1891 disclosed clearly the intense hatred of clerical influence that had silently grown up among a people who by race, religion, and circumstances might have been supposed to be one of the most Catholic in the world. Not only was complete religious liberty guaranteed; not only was every civil post, from the highest to the lowest, thrown open to men of all religions; not only was every vestige of privilege withdrawn from the Catholic clergy—it was further provided that civil marriage alone should be recognised by the Republic; that all teaching in public establishments should be exclusively secular; that all cemeteries should be secularised, and placed under the administration of the municipal authorities; that no Church or form of worship should receive any subvention or special privilege from the Government.30
In France, some good judges believe that it is quite possible that a strong and despotic monarchy may again exist, but nearly all admit that this can only be on the condition that it is entirely free from sacerdotal influence; and many think that over large tracts of France, if the State endowment were withdrawn, it would be impossible to maintain the Catholic worship. The hatred with which priests and priestly interference are regarded by great masses of the population seems hardly comprehensible to a Protestant mind; and it will have been observed how frequently the anti-Catholic measures, which English opinion has regarded as most oppressive, have been speedily followed by Government successes at elections. In nearly all Catholic countries some measure of the same spirit may be traced. Even in Ireland it is beginning to grow up, and it is probable that the manner in which the priests in that country have been seeking to maintain their power, by tampering with the first principles of honesty and morality, will be soon found to have undermined, in a great part of the population, the moral foundations on which all religious beliefs and Churches must ultimately rest.
This at least is certain, that the triumph of Ultramontanism in the General Council of 1870 gave the signal for a new and formidable schism between the Catholic Church and lay opinion, and became the starting-point for much new restrictive legislation on ecclesiastical matters. In Austria, Count Beust at once declared the Concordat of 1855 null and void; and a law of 1874, to which I have already referred, gave the Government a right of veto over all ecclesiastical appointments that are not made by the sovereign, and also a superintendency over all ecclesiastical proceedings, and provided carefully against abuses of ecclesiastical authority. In Switzerland, where the sword had been drawn and lives had been lost in a religious war as recently as 1847, the decrees of the Vatican and the aggressive policy of Bishop Mermillod at once produced a renewed, though happily a bloodless, conflict. Immediately after the declaration of Infallibility a law was voted in Geneva obliging all Catholic congregations to receive a fresh authorisation from the Council of State, and making their continued existence dependent on its pleasure. The Pope took a step very similar to the English Papal aggression by creating a new bishopric of Geneva, and appointing the Abbé Mermillod as bishop, and soon after as vicar-apostolic. But in Switzerland he was met by a very different kind of resistance from the abortive Ecclesiastical Titles Act, which some English writers are accustomed to represent as so intolerant. The Government refused to recognise the new bishopric, or to allow the new bishop to exercise his ecclesiastical functions, and, as he declined to obey, he was banished from the country, and an article was introduced into the revised Federal Constitution of 1874 providing that no bishopric may be established on Swiss territory without the approbation of the Government. By the same Constitution no convents or religious orders could be founded, and those which had been suppressed could not be restored. Neither the Jesuits nor any affiliated societies were permitted to exist in any part of Switzerland; all participation of their members either in Church or school is prohibited, and the Federal Government reserves to itself the right of extending similar treatment to all other orders that might introduce danger and disorder into the State. The public schools are gratuitous, open to the members of all creeds, without prejudice to their freedom of conscience and belief. The right of marriage is placed under the protection of the Confederation, and no ‘confessional motive’ is allowed to impede it, and the right of disposing of the places of burial is retained in the hands of the civil powers. Liberty of conscience and belief is pronounced inviolable; but it is essentially a liberty of individuals, and it is pushed to such a point that it deprives Churches of all restraining and disciplinary powers over their members. ‘No one can be constrained to take part in a religious association, to follow a religious teaching, to accomplish a religious act, or to incur any punishments of any kind on account of his religious opinion.’31
It was, however, in the cantonal legislation that the severity of the conflict was most shown. Several of the cantons, and among them the important cantons of Berne, Geneva, and Neuchatel, following in the steps of the Civil Constitution of the clergy which had been created by the French National Assembly in 1789, took the bold step of requiring the election of the parish priests by the people, and of vesting full powers of directing the manner of religious services, the uses to which the churches might be applied, and the instruction of the young, in a parish council consisting chiefly of laymen, and chosen by the general vote of the parishioners. Such a measure, basing the whole ecclesiastical system on popular election and on lay control, was directly opposed to the theory of the Roman Church, and one of its results was that, while it was emphatically condemned by the Pope, the Old Catholics, who consented to adopt it, acquired a great place in Swiss Catholicism. Some measures of extreme and unjustifiable severity were taken. A bishop of Bâle was accused, and finally exiled from his diocese, for having excommunicated two priests who had preached the doctrines of Old Catholicism, and a large number of priests who adhered to him were deprived of their positions. The Canton of Berne even attempted to expel from their parishes all priests who were not elected. The Federal Council and Chamber ultimately declared this measure inconsistent with the Constitution, and pronounced that the Infallibilists had a full right of constituting themselves an independent community; but in a considerable part of Switzerland all public subsidies were withdrawn from those who refused to accept the elective system. The new centralisation at Rome was thus met by a decentralisation so complete that in each parish the parishioners might determine by election the type of doctrine and the character of worship. The avowed object was that each Catholic should have the right of rejecting the doctrine of infallibility, and in order to make the democratic ascendency more complete the priests were required to submit to periodical re-election. The same system was extended, in the Canton of Berne, to the Protestant Churches, which could only retain their subsidies from the State by relinquishing all power of enforcing unity; and this system was sanctioned on appeal by a majority of the electors.32
In Prussia, and, in a less degree, in all Germany, still more strenuous measures were taken. Bismarck wrote to Count Arnim that the effect of the decision of the Council of the Vatican was to reduce the bishops to mere ‘functionaries of a foreign sovereign, and of a sovereign who, by virtue of his claimed infallibility, is the most absolute monarch on the globe’; he dilated in public on the dangerous power the Pope had now acquired of meddling with and controlling the internal affairs of Germany; and he issued a circular despatch to the German ambassadors, directing them to call the attention of the Governments to which they were accredited to the changed position of the Pope, and to the expediency of coming to some agreement about the conditions on which alone the election of ensuing Popes should be recognised.
Legislation of the most drastic kind was at once adopted. In 1872, a German law was carried making every ecclesiastic who, in the exercise of his religious functions, treats public affairs before an assembly in such a way as to imperil public peace liable to two years’ imprisonment; and another German law banished the Society of Jesus and all orders that were in relation with it from German soil, and enabled the Government by a simple measure of police to expel from the Empire any German who belonged to them. In the same year a Prussian law placed all schools, whether they were free or public, under strict Government inspection and control. In the following year the famous Falk laws were passed, which transformed the whole condition of Catholics in Prussia. The separate, isolated, and exclusively clerical system of education, which contributes more than any other cause to the worst characteristics of the priesthood, was put an end to by a law which compelled the ecclesiastical students to receive their education in a national university; or in an authorised seminary. Such seminaries were only authorised in towns where there was no university; they were required to fulfil the same conditions as State establishments; and every step of the education of those intended for the priesthood was submitted to strict Government inspection and control. By other laws the conditions of entry into the priesthood were regulated by the Government; all acts of ecclesiastical discipline and all episcopal condemnations were made subject to the High Court of Justice, which has a right of adjudicating upon them on appeal; and it was expressly enacted that no judgments emanating from an ecclesiastical authority of foreign nationality should have force upon German soil. At the same time, great facilities were given by the Government for the construction of a Church on the basis of Old Catholic doctrine.
Such measures inevitably involved a fierce war between the State and the Catholic Church, and the lay authority encountered an intense and courageous resistance. Three articles in the Prussian Constitution guaranteed to the Evangelical Church and to the Roman Catholic Church the right of governing themselves freely, disposing of their goods, and providing for ecclesiastical nominations, and also gave a legal sanction to the relations between religious societies and their superiors. A law of 1873 modified and restricted these liberties, and in 1875 the three articles were altogether abolished. A long succession of other measures were taken, breaking down the whole system of Catholic government. Civil marriage was established, and the control of burials was taken from the Church; ecclesiastics who refused to obey the new laws were made liable to imprisonment, banishment, fines, and deposition. In 1873 the Cardinal Archbishop of Posen and the Archbishop of Cologne were thrown into prison, and ultimately banished. In 1874 a law was passed providing for the appointment of administrators over the vacant dioceses and parishes. The chapters might elect the substitutes for the bishops, subject to the approval of the Government; but if they refused to do so the civil power appointed them, and in some cases the places of the banished priests might be filled, as in Switzerland, by election. In all parts of the German Empire, ecclesiastics who had been deprived of their functions by a regular judgment might be deprived of their nationality and banished from the country.
The old Pope threw himself into the conflict quite as vehemently as the Prussian statesman. Cardinal Hohenlohe had been selected without any previous consultation to represent the German Empire at the Vatican, but the Pope refused to accept him. Shortly after the first ecclesiastical law had been carried the Pope received a deputation from German Catholics, and in reply to their address he complained bitterly of the persecution which the Church was undergoing in Prussia, and, alluding to the vision in Daniel, he predicted that the little stone might soon fall from the mountain which would shatter the feet of the Colossus. In the beginning of 1875 he issued a fierce Encyclical pronouncing the new legislation invalid, as being contrary to the Divine institution of the Church, and excommunicated all persons who accepted from the temporal power the investiture of which the bishops had been deprived. On the other side language was used about the supreme authority of the State over all religious bodies which seemed an echo of the language of Hobbes in the seventeenth and of Rousseau in the eighteenth century. Except in the case of clergy who were attached to public institutions, the State subsidies were withdrawn from dioceses in which the bishop or his administrator refused to accept the new laws. The Old Catholics were permitted to hold their services in the Catholic parish churches, or to have a proportionate share of the Church lands and revenues. All conventual establishments were abolished; all Catholic religious orders were banished from the Prussian soil.
It was stated on good authority in the beginning of 1875 that no less than five bishops had been imprisoned and six others fined, and that about 1,400 priests had been either fined or imprisoned. Nearly the whole Prussian episcopacy were acting in defiance of the laws, either refusing to submit the programmes of their clerical seminaries to Government inspection and approval, or expelling or excommunicating Old Catholics, or appointing priests to spiritual charges without reference to the civil authorities.
The Cardinal Archbishop of Posen was under arrest for more than two years, and a Bishop of Trèves died in prison.33 In several dioceses all ecclesiastical subsidies from the State were suspended for periods ranging from five to ten years.34 The resistance encountered among the German Catholics showed clearly the power of their faith, and was probably not anticipated by the framers of these laws; and it also soon became evident that the Old Catholic movement, though supported by a few great scholars and very excellent men, was never likely to furnish a dominant or even an important element in German Catholicism. It experienced the fate of most half measures. Serious and independent inquirers, who based their faith upon evidence, nearly always went much further, while those who were indisposed to such inquiries soon acquiesced in a new doctrine, and remained attached to the body which represented in visible and unbroken continuity the old framework or organisation of the Church. In 1881 it was stated in the Prussian Parliament that, owing to the laws making it penal for any priest whose appointment had not been sanctioned by the Government to perform the offices of religion, 601 Roman Catholic parishes were left without curates, and 584 with only half their requisite number.35 Politically, the first and most serious effect of the laws was to consolidate into a single party in the Reichstag the Catholic members from all parts of the Empire. Under the consummate leadership of Dr. Windthorst they steadily increased, and in 1878 they numbered 103. In spite of the great preponderance of Protestantism in the German Empire, the Catholic party was now the most powerful single party in its much-divided Parliament.36
The persecution—for it had come to amount to nothing less—soon ceased. The death of Pius IX., and the accession in 1878 of a much more intelligent Pope, brought a spirit of moderation to the Vatican; and the fact that the French Government had engaged in a violent ecclesiastical contest was probably not without some influence at Berlin. The kaleidoscope of German politics took a new pattern. The great and imperious statesman who presided over it was always accustomed to concentrate his undivided efforts on an immediate and pressing object, and in order to attain it he has never hesitated to enter into new combinations, discard old allies, and connect himself with old enemies. Socialism, not Ultramontanism, now seemed to him the pressing danger, and he also desired to carry out a policy of economical protection which was very displeasing to his former allies. For the success of his new policy Catholic assistance was required. He probably perceived that his crusade against the Church had been based upon a profound miscalculation of moral forces, and he retraced his steps with a promptitude and completeness that would have ruined the reputation of a weaker man. ‘The moment,’ he once said, ‘the interest of the country requires me to put myself in contradiction with myself, I shall do it.’ Almost immediately after the accession of the new Pope overtures were made to the Vatican; the diplomatic relations which had been broken off in 1874 were restored. Dr. Falk, who was most directly concerned in the ecclesiastical laws, was put aside, and the great statesman, who had so lately dilated on the danger of the Pope meddling with the internal affairs of Germany, began a negotiation with the Pope for the purpose of inducing him to put pressure upon the Catholic members in order to induce them to vote for the anti-Socialist laws and for a law in favour of a Government monopoly of tobacco. Bismarck now declared that the anti-Catholic laws had been measures of war, which had become unnecessary since a new spirit of conciliation prevailed in the Vatican; that parts of them were shown by experience to be wholly useless; and that, if they were now abolished, they could always, in case of danger, be re-enacted. A law was carried through the Prussian Parliament giving the Government a discretionary power of applying or not applying the chief portions of them, and this measure was only a prelude to their almost complete repeal.
The Pope was much inclined to do as the Prussian statesman desired, but he would not as yet openly disown the Catholic party in the Reichstag, and he found that party by no means prepared to take its German politics implicitly from Rome. A long period of skilful bargaining ensued, conducted between the Prussian Government and the Vatican behind the back of the Catholic party in Germany. One of the most curious incidents in the negotiations was the selection by Bismarck of the Pope as the arbitrator in a dispute which had risen between Germany and Spain about the Caroline Isles. To the great indignation of the German Ultramontanes, the Pope consented to allow the Prussian ecclesiastics to notify their appointments to the Government before they were carried out, and he afterwards acquiesced in the governors of the provinces retaining a very limited veto on the appointment of parish priests. A proposal to restore the three abrogated articles of the Prussian Constitution was defeated in 1884,37 but nearly all that was important in the Falk laws speedily disappeared. The banished prelates were restored. The payment of the priests in the dioceses where it had been suspended was resumed. The bishops regained almost complete liberty of ecclesiastical discipline, and full power of exercising their spiritual functions outside their own sees. The measures that had been taken for controlling and directing the education of priests, which formed, perhaps, the most really valuable portion of the new laws, were unconditionally surrendered, and, with the important exception of the Jesuits, the religious congregations that had been banished or dissolved were restored to their former position. A sum of twenty millions of marks was in the coffers of the State, representing the ecclesiastical revenues which, during the years of conflict, had been unpaid. After a long controversy this sum was restored to the Church, and distributed among the dioceses from which it had been withheld.38
The repeal of the Falk laws was the price paid by Prince Bismarck for a new act of Papal interference in his favour. The question of the military Septennate was pending, and the Pope undertook to persuade the Catholic party to vote for it. Greatly to their credit, the leaders of the party, though declaring their complete submission to the Papacy on all questions of religion, declined to take their orders from Rome in a matter of purely secular German politics. They were taunted by Bismarck with their disobedience, but they persevered, and their votes contributed to throw out the Bill. A dissolution and general election followed, and two letters were then published, written from Rome by Cardinal Jacobini to the Nuncio in Munich, urging the Catholic party to support the Government, and predicting that by doing so they would obtain a revision of the Falk laws. The triumph of the Government at the election of 1887 was probably largely due to this Papal interference, and the author of the Culturkampf was thus enabled to carry out his policy. The subsequent measure abolishing the anti-Catholic laws was the subject of direct negotiation with Rome; and when the Catholic leaders raised some difficulties about its terms, a letter was written by the Pope himself to the Archbishop of Cologne, directing them to vote for it.39
It was a strange and unexpected transformation-scene. The Catholic party found themselves censured and disavowed by the Pope, and Bismarck attained the immediate object of his policy; but the victory was dearly purchased. It was purchased by a complete and humiliating abandonment of the policy which had been so recently and so deliberately adopted. A precedent full of danger had been established, and the interference of the Papacy with purely German affairs had been not only permitted but invited. Above all, a separate Catholic party had been created in the Reichstag, which remains to the present day a distinct, dangerous, and distracting element in German politics. One of its principal objects has been to increase clerical influence over education, and there was a moment in 1891 when the Government favoured its policy; but on this subject public opinion in Germany proved so strong that the proposed measure was withdrawn.
In Germany, the war against the Catholic Church was waged by men who were for the most part firm believers in Christianity, or at least in Theism. It was a conflict between a despotic and highly centralised Church and a State which was more and more aspiring to be the supreme moulder and regulator of national life. In France, the conflict took a somewhat different form, and broke out at a somewhat later period. The few years that immediately followed the declaration of infallibility, the Franco-German War, and the horrors of the Commune, were in France years of reaction, during which clerical influence seemed to spread. The real battle was waged, as it is always likely to be waged in our day, on the question of education.
In the Consulate and in the early days of the Empire the First Napoleon had founded on the ruins of the educational institutions that were shattered by the Revolution a great system of secondary education. Although religious teaching was given in the lyceums and other institutions which he created, these establishments were essentially lay, military, and highly centralised bodies under the direct control of the Government, and their supreme object was to cultivate civic and military virtues—to foster the ideals and the habits of a nation of soldiers. The Imperial University, which he founded in 1808, had a similarly secular character, and it was given a complete authority over the public teaching of the Empire.40 It was not in any degree an anti-Christian body. It professed to take as the basis of its teaching ‘the principles of the Catholic religion;’ but it was essentially a lay body, and very free from direct ecclesiastical influence. The clergy had their ‘great seminaries,’ or special schools of theology, under the exclusive direction of the bishops; but it was decided by a decree of 1809 that no one could enter them who had not received a degree from the Imperial University; and when the clergy began to found ‘small seminaries,’ which were represented as preparatory schools for the larger seminaries, but which also admitted lay pupils, the Government decided ‘that all such schools must be governed by the University; that they could only be organised by it, and ruled by its authority, and that no teaching could be given in them except by members of the University.41 Very little, however, was as yet done for primary education, and the few schools that were founded for the education of the poor were chiefly placed under the care of religious teaching bodies, which had begun to re-establish themselves in France. They were authorised to teach by the Grand Master of the University.
With the Restoration ecclesiastical influence in French teaching rose rapidly. A strong clerical element was planted in the government of the University, and gave rise to much intestine struggle and some repressive measures. A few very able men, among whom Royer-Collard and Cuvier were the most conspicuous, at this time devoted themselves to education. But the character of education was in a great measure transformed. It was noticed as a characteristic fact, that the classes, which under Napoleon had been summoned by the beat of the drum, were now summoned by bells, and the military aspect of education was replaced by a clerical aspect. The ‘small seminaries’ became recognised ecclesiastical schools under purely ecclesiastical direction; they appear to have been for a time free from University inspection and control, and they were allowed to receive pupils intended for all professions. Between 1821 and 1828 a large number of religious associations were authorised to establish elementary schools, and ‘a letter of obedience’ from the Superior-General of the order to which he belonged was accepted as a sufficient certificate of the ability of the teacher. At the same time the Government of the Restoration was far from desiring to surrender the education of France into the hands of priests, and especially of Jesuits. An ordinance of 1828 placed the secondary ecclesiastical schools, in a great measure, under the rule of the University, and their professors were obliged to affirm in writing that they did not belong to any religious association not legally established in France.42
The Government created by the Revolution of 1830, for the first time, undertook on a large scale public elementary education in France. The charter guaranteed its liberty, and the great measure of Guizot in 1833 carried it into effect. The French statesman declined to adopt the system of compulsory education which had been decreed by the Convention in 1793, and which was actually in force in Prussia and in the greater portion of the German States. At the same time, he wished that primary education should not be a monopoly, and that secular schools and religious schools should have full liberty to develop and compete. With the object of providing efficient teachers for the former the normal schools, which had been founded in 1810, were greatly extended, while the free schools fell chiefly into the hands of religious associations encouraged and assisted by the Government. In the Chamber of Deputies there was a strong feeling against the influence of priests in schools, and in favour of the complete independence of teachers; but Guizot himself was a vehement advocate of religious education, and he succeeded in carrying out, if not all, at least a great part of his design. ‘Popular education,’ he afterwards wrote, ‘ought to be given and received in a religious atmosphere, in order that religious impressions and habits may penetrate from every side. Religion is not a study or an exercise, to which a particular place or hour can be assigned. It is a faith, a law, which should be felt everywhere and at all times, and on no other condition can it fully exercise its salutary influence.’43
Such a passage marks clearly the great change which has passed over the prevailing ideas in France, and indeed in most countries. In founding municipal schools, Guizot insisted that the curé, or pastor, should always be a member of the superintending committee, and that the exclusive appointment of the teachers should be with the Minister of Public Instruction. In the Chamber of Deputies both of these provisions were at first rejected, but by the persuasion and influence of Guizot they were finally inserted. In a circular which was drawn up by Rémusat, and addressed by Guizot to 39,300 elementary teachers in France, they were reminded that elementary education has never really flourished ‘where the religious sentiment has not been combined in those who propagate it with the taste for enlightenment and instruction.’44 The law of 1833 expressly stated that ‘the wish of the parents should be always consulted and followed in what concerns religious teaching,’ and by multiplying schools of different denominations, forbidding proselytism, and exempting children in mixed schools from teaching of which their parents disapproved, this plan appears to have been usually carried out.45
This law had an enormous effect in developing primary education in France. The enfranchisement of education which it began was completed by the very important law of 1850, under the Republic, which broke down the monopoly of the University over secondary education. This body had long been the object of bitter attacks of the Clerical party, on account of the essentially lay character which, in spite of all efforts to tamper with it, it still retained, and the cry of monopoly which was raised against it won many democratic votes. Democracy, indeed, has in general very little sympathy with corporations which represent a high, austere standard of knowledge and research. From this time secondary education as well as primary education became open, all persons of twenty-five having a right to open schools, even though they are not members of the university, provided they fulfil certain specified tests of competence and character; and the members of religious communities were not excluded. A Supreme Council of Education was established, in which the University was represented, but which also included four bishops or archbishops and other important functionaries.
It is not necessary to follow the subsequent modifications that were introduced into the law. It is sufficient to say that the Jesuits, and a number of other religious associations which were closely allied with the Jesuits, flung themselves with great zeal into the field of education that was opened to them, and, although their success in the higher forms of education was not conspicuous, a great part of popular education passed gradually into their hands. In 1874, it was estimated that about a third of all the children, and an immense majority of the girls who were educated in the primary schools, were educated by teachers belonging to religious congregations.46 These bodies had great advantages. Many men, and most women, desired an essentially religious education for their children. The pressure of Church influence was steadily exerted in favour of the Church schools, and great voluntary organisations, indifferent to gain, and animated by a strong religious zeal, had manifest economical advantages. In several indirect ways the Government and the municipalities appear at this time to have favoured them, and in the schools for girls the teachers belonging to religious orders were not obliged to give the proofs of efficiency required from lay teachers.47 The Christian Brothers, who were a recognised order, but who were in close alliance with the Jesuits, were the most successful in primary education. They appear to have had at one time no less than 2,328 public schools in their hands.48 In secondary education the Jesuits and some affiliated orders had an overwhelming preponderance. Some of these organisations, and especially the Jesuits, had no legal existence in France, and had been completely excluded from all education, before 1850.49 It was contended, however, that the liberty of teaching which was proclaimed by the Constitution of 1848, and regulated in its exercise by the law of 1850, virtually abolished these restrictions. In 1874 there were fourteen Jesuit colleges in France, containing about 5,000 pupils, and fifteen others directed by the order of the Marists.50 A law of 1875 gave the Catholic bodies the right of constituting themselves into distinct faculties and granting degrees, thus breaking down the last vestige of the University monopoly.
This was one of the last acts of the very Catholic Assembly which sat immediately after the disasters of the war. Very soon, however, a new spirit began to prevail in French politics. It had already in 1874 found a powerful organ in M. Challemel-Lacour, who, in a speech of great force and eloquence, contended that France was taking a false line in education; that a teaching which was wholly based on the doctrines of the Syllabus, and imbued with all the superstitions of Ultramontanism, was radically and essentially opposed, not only to the teachings of modern science, but also to the principles on which republican government must rest; that it was a patriotic interest of the most vital kind to prevent the youth of France from being educated in anti-revolutionary principles by a reactionary priesthood; and that if this were not done, the next generation of Frenchmen would be completely alienated from both civil and religious liberty. ‘The moral unity of France’ was represented as the chief end of French education; and it was especially deplored that the French youth, having been separated into two sections in the primary and in the secondary schools, were no longer likely to be brought together in the classes of the same University.51
Candid men will, I think, admit that there was a large measure of truth in these representations. Foreigners are too apt to judge modern French Catholicism by its best intellectual products. They judge it by the noble sermons of Lacordaire; by the writings of Montalembert, or Ozanam, or Dupanloup; by the exquisite tenderness and grace that breathe through the religious sentiment of the ‘Récit d'une Sœur.’ Many things in these writings must wither before the touch of an impartial and scientific criticism. Much of this religious sentiment seems to me more akin to the hothouse than to the mountain, to the hectic of consumption than to the flush of health; but no religious nature can fail to feel its beauty and purity. These writings, however, do not represent the strongest influence in French Catholicism. The newspaper which long reflected most faithfully the opinions of the French clergy was the ‘Univers,’ and Louis Veuillot probably exercised in his generation more influence than any other single man in the French Church. I do not know where, in modern times, the religious sentiment has assumed a more repulsive form. He watched with the aspect of a caged tiger all the developments of religious and intellectual liberty around him, pursued with untiring and scurrilous ferocity every Catholic who showed any sympathy for tolerance or any appreciation of goodness outside his own body, and exercised for a long period a kind of reign of terror in the Church. With the great secular world he had little or no direct contact, but the spirit of Veuillot passed largely into the education of the young. The collection of extracts from Catholic educational works which was afterwards brought by Paul Bert before the public showed very decisively how profoundly superstitious and intolerant was much of the prevailing teaching in France; and Catholic nations have very generally agreed about the tendencies of Jesuit education. The success of Germany in the late war had opened French eyes to the supreme importance of national education, and it was felt that it was only by a great effort of internal regeneration that France could regain her position among the nations of the world. The great outburst of pilgrimages and miracles in the first years after the war was attributed by most Frenchmen quite as much to deliberate imposture as to ignorant credulity; and the manifest efforts of the priesthood to turn the force of superstition in the direction of monarchy, as well as their attempt to overthrow the Liberal republic in the May of 1877, kindled a firm and not unnatural indignation. The elections of that year brought strong Republicans to power, and it is by no means surprising that a war against the Church should have begun, which speedily passed beyond all the bounds of reason and moderation.
The first measure, however, was probably neither unwise nor unjust. The Supreme Council of Education was remodelled so as to consist entirely of members of the great teaching bodies; the episcopal element was eliminated from it, and the free schools were only represented in a very small degree. The exclusive right of conferring degrees was restored to the University, and no independent institution was permitted any longer to assume that title. But another step followed, which at once threw France into a paroxysm of agitation. It was the famous Clause 7, which forbade not only the Jesuits, but also all other congregations which were unauthorised by law, from taking any part in teaching either in public or private schools, though they were not prevented from being tutors in private houses.52
This article was in perfect accordance with the law as it had existed before 1850. It was an echo of the ordinance of 1828, and it was far from suppressing religious teaching, as a large number of religious corporations were authorised by law and fully permitted to teach, provided they fulfilled the same conditions of efficiency as lay teachers. The Jesuits, however, and several minor congregations devoted to teaching, were unrecognised, and under the system of liberty which had existed since 1850 they had set up a multitude of popular schools. There were said to have been at this time no less than 141 non-authorised congregations in France, 125 of them of women, and 16 of men; 640 establishments were in their hands; 62,000 pupils were educated by them, and 9,000 of them were taught gratuitously. The measure for their suppression was profoundly unpopular. The majority of the ‘conseils généraux’ were opposed to it, and about 1,700,000 signatures were appended to petitions against it. It passed through the Chamber of Deputies, but the Senate, recognising the strong adverse tendency of opinion, threw it out by 148 votes to 120.53 M. Ferry, however, was determined not to be baffled. He availed himself of a legal power which had long been obsolete, and in March 1880 decrees were issued breaking up and dissolving all religious congregations unauthorised by law.
The measure was undoubtedly legal, but it was at the same time violent, despotic, and unconstitutional. The congregations that were assailed had long existed in France publicly and unmolested, and they had thrown themselves into the work of education and invested large resources in educational purposes with the full knowledge of every successive Government. A minister who has asked and been refused the sanction of Parliament for a particular policy, and who then proceeds to carry out that policy by other means without parliamentary sanction, may be acting in a way that is strictly legal, but he is straining the principles of constitutional government. In modern English politics we have had a somewhat similar case, when a minister submitted the question of the abolition of purchase in the army to the decision of Parliament, and, having been defeated in the House of Lords, proceeded notwithstanding to carry the measure into effect by the exercise of a power of the Crown which had been reserved under a statute of George III. The French measure was not only violent, but in a great degree useless, for it was not difficult for the members of most of the congregations to continue their teaching by transforming themselves, under ecclesiastical authority, into congregations that were duly authorised by law. If the decrees had been directed solely against the Jesuits, they would probably not have been very widely unpopular, and some of the best judges in the Radical party desired at least to limit them to this order. M. de Freycinet, who had succeeded M. Waddington in the French ministry, made a conciliatory speech, plainly pointing to such limitation; and the Prefect of Police, on whom the task of carrying the decrees into effect would chiefly devolve, made strong representations in the same sense. M. de Freycinet, however, was unable to carry his colleagues with him, and was obliged to retire from the ministry, and M. Ferry obtained full power to carry the decrees into effect.
The cry of persecution was at once raised. The congregations put out a manifesto declaring that they were only intended for prayer, education, and charity, and that they were not in alliance with any political party. In October the measure of suppression began. There were numerous arrests. Doors were broken open; convents were barricaded and fortified. There were constant threats of armed resistance, and the Host was exposed, and women prayed day and night in the chapels of the menaced buildings. At Lyons some blood was shed. At Tarascon the somewhat absurd spectacle was exhibited of the public force laying siege to a convent during several days. In Paris there were grave fears that there might be formidable disturbances, and it was resolved to proceed with extreme secrecy and at a very early hour of a dark winter morning. ‘Since the Coup d'Etat of December 2,’ wrote the Prefect of Police, ‘such precautions have never been taken.’ The secret was well kept, and on November 5 the blow was struck. At five in the morning a combined force of police and soldiers simultaneously surrounded eleven convents in Paris. By 9 A.M. all was over. About sixty persons in the convents were arrested for resisting the seizure.54
The result of all this was that many hundreds of men were driven out of their homes and scattered abroad, proclaiming themselves martyrs and awakening over a wide area strong sympathies and bitter resentments; and, in the end, the measure was so much relaxed in its practical application that the Jesuits alone appear to have been effectually expelled from French education. The other congregations, who formed four-fifths of the male unauthorised orders,55 continued, under the shelter of a precarious toleration and by some mutual compromises, to carry on the work of education much as before; and the female unauthorised congregations were not molested. But the chasm between the Catholic and freethinking sections of the French people was greatly deepened.56
The suppression of the unauthorised orders, and especially of the Jesuits, affected chiefly secondary education, for religious education in primary schools was, for the most part, in the hands of authorised congregations.57 A law of 1882 provided that the heads of all private establishments of secondary education must have graduated at the University, and received a certificate of competence from a commission in which the University element preponderated.58 Two laws which were enacted in the preceding year obliged all who were engaged in primary education in public and private schools, with a few specified exceptions, to provide themselves with regular certificates of competence, and at the same time made primary education in the public schools absolutely gratuitous.59
The next important measure to be noticed is the law of March 1882, making primary education obligatory for all children between six and thirteen, excluding all religious teaching from the public schools, and abolishing the provisions of the law of 1850 which gave ministers of religion rights of direction and inspection. This law has sometimes been misrepresented. It did not attempt to suppress all religious education. Primary instruction might be still given, either in public schools or in free schools, or in the family by the father, or by any one he might appoint; but every child educated in the family was liable to an annual examination, beginning at the second year of obligatory instruction, and relating to the subjects taught in public schools, and if the result of the examination was unsatisfactory the parent was compelled to send the child to some public or private school. In the family, of course, religious teaching was entirely unrestrained. In the private schools it was ‘facultative;’ but in the public schools it was absolutely prohibited. The majority in a commune, though they were compelled to endow their school, had no power of relaxing the rule, and they were expressly prohibited from granting any subvention to private schools.60 The public schools were alone endowed. All religious emblems in them were forbidden; and the rule against religious teaching was in some cases so strictly enforced that the mere mention of the name of God was forbidden. The Senate endeavoured to mitigate the measure by an amendment providing that, on the demand of the parents, ministers of different creeds might give religious instruction in the schoolroom on Sundays and also once a week after school hours; but this amendment was rejected by the Chamber of Deputies, and it was finally decided that no religious teaching of any kind could be given in the Government schools. On one day of the week, however, in addition to Sunday, the law provided that there should be a holiday in the schools, in order that parents might provide, ‘if they desired it,’ religious instruction for the children outside the scholastic buildings.
Considered in itself, the system of purely secular State education is not in any way irrational or irreligious. It simply means that the State, which is an essentially lay body, undertakes during a few hours of the day the instruction of the young in certain secular subjects which men of all creeds and parties believe to be highly important to their temporal interest. It is the task of the parents to provide during other hours for such religious education as they desire, and one day in seven is reserved, and a great profession is endowed for the express purpose of religious teaching. The contention that all secular teaching should be conducted in a religious spirit or atmosphere holds a very much larger place in theoretical discussions than in the reality of things. Everybody who has been at an English public school knows how naturally and how strictly religion is allocated to particular times. The many hours of school life that are spent in learning Greek or Latin, or mathematics or geography, or English composition or modern languages, or other secular subjects, are hours with which religion has not, and cannot have, any more to say than it has with the ordinary work of the shopman at his counter or the clerk in his office. Very few parents would think it necessary to inquire into the religious opinions of the tutor who gives their children daily lessons in drawing, or music, or foreign languages. Every one, too, who has any practical experience knows that branches of education like physical science, or history, or even moral philosophy, which have, or may have, some real connection with religious teaching, may be largely and profitably taught without raising any question of controverted divinity.
If this is true of the education of the upper classes, it is at least equally true of the education of the poor. The great mistake in their education has in general been, that it has been too largely and too ambitiously literary. Primary education should open to the poor the keys of knowledge, by enabling the scholar to read, not merely with effort, but with ease and with pleasure. It should teach him to write well and to count well; but for the rest it should be much more technical and industrial than literary, and should be much more concerned with the knowledge and observation of facts than with any form of speculative reasoning or opinions. There is much evidence to support the conclusion that the kinds of popular education which have proved morally, as well as intellectually, the most beneficial have been those in which a very moderate amount of purely mental instruction has been combined with physical, industrial, or military training. The English half-time system of education, which was introduced at the recommendation of the Commission which sat in 1833 to inquire into the condition of factory children, appears to have been extraordinarily efficacious in diminishing juvenile crime, as well as in developing capacity, and the same system has been successfully adopted in the army and navy schools, in district poor-law schools, in industrial and reformatory schools, and in the great schools established by the Children's Aid Society of New York. Some of the most competent judges in England have arrived at the conclusion that an education conducted on such lines is the most powerful of all instruments for raising the condition of the most neglected and demoralised classes of society.61
For a long time the State took no direct part in education. If it now equips boys for the practical battle of life, it has done a good work, even though it leaves the care of those religious questions on which men are profoundly divided to the home, the Church, and the Sunday-school.
It is the custom of many writers, and especially of Catholic writers, to inveigh against purely secular education as if it were morally worthless, or even morally pernicious. I believe this to be a grave error. Religion is probably the most powerful, but it is by no means the only, influence by which character can be formed. Military discipline, the point of honour, the creation of habits, contribute powerfully to this end. It is quite true that a merely intellectual education does not fundamentally change character; but, by giving men a clearer view of their true interests, it contributes largely to the proper regulation of life; by opening a wide range of new and healthy interests it diverts them from much vice; by increasing their capacity for fighting the battle of life, it takes away many temptations, though it undoubtedly creates and strengthens some; and it seldom fails to implant in the character serious elements of discipline and self-control. It especially cultivates the civic and industrial virtues with which the Legislature is chiefly concerned.
When the public opinion of a country favours such a course, a Government is certainly not to be blamed if it confines itself in its public schools to a good secular education which brings children of all denominations together, leaving full liberty to religious teachers to teach their different views to the members of their congregations, either in the schools after class-hours, or in other places. An educational system ought, however, to be an elastic thing, meeting, as far as possible, the wishes of many parents, the requirements of different classes and forms of opinion; and in countries where an unsectarian or purely secular system of public education prevails, it will usually, I believe, be found a wise policy to give some help also to purely denominational institutions, provided that no child is obliged to attend a religious teaching to which its parents object, and that sufficient proofs are furnished of educational efficiency.
In Protestant countries it has also been proved by experience that it is perfectly possible to unite with secular education a certain amount of unsectarian and undogmatic religious teaching. When the School Boards were first established under the Act of 1870, and all religious catechisms and formularies were excluded from the Board schools, Lord Russell strongly advocated the simple reading of the Bible, accompanied by undogmatic explanations. I can well remember the scorn with which this suggestion was received in some theological circles, and the triumphant arguments by which it was shown that an undogmatic religious teaching was an impossible thing, and that the teaching of any one who attempted it must be hopelessly indefinite and misleading. The best answer to these arguments is, that the great majority of the School Boards of England adopted the suggestion of Lord Russell, and made Bible-reading, either without note or comment, or accompanied by simple explanations of an undogmatic character, a leading feature of their teaching; and although some agitation against it has recently arisen, that agitation has been almost wholly extraneous, and appears to have received no support from the parents of the children. Substantially, the religious teaching in the Board schools meets the wants of the overwhelming majority of the parents who make use of them. It is carried on under careful supervision; the teachers are under a strong obligation of honour not to give any controversial bias to their lessons, and with ordinary tact and goodwill they have no difficulty in carrying out their instructions.
Such teaching, no doubt, is not all that theologians would desire, and a large field remains for the priest, the clergyman, and the Sunday-school teacher, but, as far as it goes, it is undoubtedly a great moralising and elevating influence. It is difficult to exaggerate the moral advantage of an early and complete familiarity with the Biblical writings. In after-years the pupils may form widely different judgments of them. Some may hold, with the strictest type of Evangelicals, that every word had been written by Divine dictation, and, disregarding all questions of date or context, or conflicting statements or tendencies, they may be always ready to quote some detached fragment of the Sacred Book as decisive in controversy. Others may look on the Bible as a collection of documents of many different ages and degrees of merit and authority; as the literature of a nation, frequently recast and re-edited, reflecting the conceptions of the universe and the moral ideas and aspirations of many successive stages of development; conveying much valuable historical information, but with a large mixture and environment of myth. But in the one case, as in the other, a familiarity with the Sacred text seldom fails to do something to purify, elevate, and regulate the character, to exalt the imagination, to colour the whole texture of a life.
Even on its purely intellectual side its value is very great. It is related of one of the semi-pagan cardinals of the Renaissance that he dissuaded a friend from reading the Greek Testament lest its bad Greek should spoil his style. But it may be truly said that the pure, simple, and lofty language of the English Bible has done more than any other single influence to refine the taste of the great masses of the English people. It is the most powerful antidote to vulgarity of thought and feeling. If, as is not impossible, the result of educational and theological disputes is to banish all direct religious teaching from Government schools, it is much to be hoped that the simple reading of the Bible without note or comment may at least remain.
The system of education which was adopted by most of the English School Boards was not original. It was, in its main features, a copy of a far older system which has been one of the most successful in the world. There is probably no other single institution to which America owes so much as to the common schools which were established in New England more than two hundred years ago, and which have gradually extended to nearly all parts of the United States. These great free schools are entirely unsectarian and essentially secular, but they are usually opened and closed by a simple prayer, and portions of the Bible are usually read in them without note or comment. Any teacher who taught in them anything hostile to religion, or to any particular creed, would be at once dismissed. They have done more than any other single influence to unify the nation, by bringing together children of different classes and of all religious denominations, and nearly all the greatest and best men that America has produced have concurred in the opinion that, while they have incalculably raised the intellectual level, they have at the same time had moral effects of the most beneficial kind.62 A great system of voluntary Sunday-schools has grown up in their wake, and in these schools denominational teaching is abundantly supplied. Every religious denomination has largely availed itself of the common schools; and although of late years the Catholic priests, in accordance with their usual policy, have been bitterly opposed to them, public opinion in America seems far too sensible of the transcendent value of this system of education to allow it to be tampered with.
With some slight modifications, the same system prevails in nearly all the great British colonies, though it is everywhere bitterly opposed by the Catholic priesthood, and sometimes by a portion of the Anglican clergy. In North America, Newfoundland is the only complete exception, for there the system of education is denominational; and in some parts of the Canadian Dominion and the North-West Territories in America the Catholics have succeeded in obtaining grants for the denominational schools which they have set up in opposition to the unsectarian schools. But in general, throughout British North America the system of State-endowed, unsectarian, and common education exists as in the United States. Its purely secular character is usually qualified by the use of the Lord's Prayer at the opening and close of the lessons; by some Bible-reading and moral instruction, which children whose parents object to it are not obliged to attend; and by provisions that the clergy may, at certain times after the school hours, give the children of their own denomination religious instruction in the schoolhouse.
In Australia and New Zealand very large sums have been devoted to education, and the controversy between the denominationalists, who are mainly Catholic, and the unsectarian party has been very keen. Hitherto, however, the former have been almost everywhere completely defeated. In Victoria the system of education is purely and strictly secular, the State leaving the whole field of religious instruction to the voluntary efforts of the different denominations. In spite of the constant pressure exercised by the priests, a large proportion of the Catholic colonists avail themselves of it, and a large number of the teachers are Catholics. In the other Australian colonies, carefully guarded unsectarian religious teaching exists in the State schools, and the excellent unsectarian Scripture lessons which had been drawn up for the Irish National Schools, but which the priests have now succeeded in expelling, are largely used. In nearly all these colonies, education in some form is compulsory, and in many of them it is free. In Western Australia alone denominational schools (which are nearly all Roman Catholic) are assisted by State funds. In the African colonies, however, a different system prevails, and elementary schools of all kinds, provided they submit to a certain amount of Government supervision and control, are assisted from the public funds.63
It is still one of the great questions of the future how far a system of education modelled on that of the American common schools is likely to predominate. The old Catholic theory, according to which all education except that which the Church had sanctioned was forbidden, has almost wholly passed away. The old Anglican theory, which only gave State sanction and acknowledgment to an education directed by the Established Church, though it allowed the education of other religious bodies to be carried on by purely voluntary effort, is also rapidly disappearing, and in nearly all countries education is now looked upon as one of the most important functions and charges of the Government. There is no probability that this tendency will be reversed. On the contrary, all the signs of the times point to a continual elevation of the standard of State education and a continual extension of free or State-paid teaching. But opinion, in the most enlightened countries, still floats somewhat indecisively between two types of national education. The one school would only assist by public funds united secular education, or secular education tinged with some entirely undogmatic religious and moral teaching, leaving denominational teaching to the voluntary efforts of the different religious bodies. The adherents of this view maintain that Government is absolutely incompetent to deal with questions of conflicting dogmas; that it is a secular body, representing the whole nation; that it is an object of the first importance that members of all religious persuasions should be well instructed in those secular subjects that are most conducive to their temporal interests; and that it is scarcely less important that on those subjects they should be educated as much as possible together. By such an education the sentiment of nationhood is most powerfully strengthened, and those who differ profoundly on religious questions at least grow up united by common sympathies, interests, and friendships.
In countries, however, where the theological temperature is very high, and where sectarian differences are very profound, this system will hardly work. Parents refuse to allow their children to sit on the same bench with those of another creed. They distrust the neutrality of the religious teaching, suspect the teacher of some subversive or proselytising bias, and demand that definite dogmatic instruction should take a central place in all education.
A powerful party also denounce united religious education on another ground. They contend that great numbers of parents, and especially parents of the poorer classes, are quite content with the amount and kind of religious and moral education their children receive in an English Board school or an American common school, and that the result of this education is the rapid growth of an unsectarian religion, in which the moral element reigns supreme, and in which, if the dogmatic element is not wholly suppressed, it is at least regarded as doubtful, subordinate, and unimportant. They allege, with much truth, that this kind of religion has, in our generation, spread more rapidly than any other, and that the systems of national education prevailing through the English-speaking world are powerfully assisting it. Their own theory is, that the public money which is devoted to national education should be divided in proportion to their numbers between the different denominations, who should be allowed to teach their distinctive doctrines freely, at public expense, subject to Government inspection, to Government tests of efficiency, and, if necessary, to a conscience clause.
This view is not confined to Catholic or to Anglican populations. It prevails largely wherever great stress is laid on dogmatic teaching. One very instructive example of it will be found in the recent educational history of the Netherlands, a country where Evangelical Protestantism is perhaps more fervent and more powerful than in any other part of the Continent. A Dutch law of 1857 established through the country an excellent system of secular national education. Secular teaching alone was to be endowed by public funds. No schoolmaster in the national schools was allowed either to give religious instruction or to say, do, or tolerate anything in school hours that could be disrespectful to the religion of any class of pupils. Religious teaching was left wholly to the different religious bodies, but their ministers were at liberty to give it in the schoolrooms outside the regular hours.
This system of education was at once branded as atheistical. The schools were described as without prayer, without Bible, without faith; every effort was made to prevent devout men from acting as teachers in them, or from sending their children to them, and the stricter clergy absolutely refused to teach religion within their walls. The ‘anti-revolutionary party,’ which has played an important part in modern Dutch politics, was chiefly formed to abolish this system of neutral education, and it soon became evident that it represented a great mass of earnest and self-sacrificing conviction. For a time the Liberal party steadily supported the national system, and a law of 1878 greatly extended and strengthened it. It provided, among other things, that every commune must establish a public school, even though it was already amply provided with private schools; and it allowed each commune, if it thought fit, to make the education in its national school gratuitous.
It is certain that the majority of the nation readily acquiesced in this national teaching; but a large and earnest minority were violently opposed to it, and they attested their sincerity in the most conclusive of all ways, by setting up at their own expense numerous voluntary schools for the education of their children. Though the Dutch Protestants number only about 2,700,000 souls, there were in 1888 no less than 480 Bible schools supported by voluntary gifts, with 11,000 teachers and 79,000 pupils. These schools had an annual income of three millions of forms; they had a subscribed capital of sixteen millions of florins, or about 1,340,000l. During ten years their pupils were steadily increasing; they increased more rapidly than the pupils in the State schools, and in fighting the battle of denominational schools the Evangelical Protestants were supported by the Catholics. It was impossible to be blind to the significance of these facts, and when, in 1887, a lowering of the suffrage at last brought the anti-revolutionary party into power, a considerable section of the Liberals concurred with them in a compromise which was based on a system much like that which exists in England, and which has been very generally accepted. The public secular and neutral schools, which had been so fiercely denounced, were left by general consent undisturbed, except that gratuitous instruction in them might no longer be given, except to paupers. On the other hand, the voluntary schools which had attained certain specified dimensions, and which fulfilled certain specified conditions of efficiency, were subsidised by the State.64
The same conflict of principle which existed in the Netherlands existed in a still stronger form in Ireland. If there was a country in the world where a mixed system of education, drawing members of different creeds together, was desirable, it was Ireland, and the National system of education, which was founded in 1834, was intended to establish it. It soon, however, became evident that it did not meet the wishes of the parents, and both the clergy of the Established Church and the Catholic priesthood opposed it. A great Protestant society, called the Church Education Society, was established by voluntary subscriptions for the purpose of founding schools in which it was a first principle that the Bible should be taught to all pupils. On the other hand, the Catholic priesthood only consented to work with the National system on the condition of obtaining in the Catholic parts of Ireland an almost complete control over it. By successive steps they have nearly attained their object, and the system in practice differs little from purely denominational education qualified by a Conscience clause. In few countries is the education of the poorer Catholics more completely in the hands of the priests.
The English compromise, as I have said, seems to me to have been signally successful. No one can be blind to the enormous progress which popular education has made under the School Board system, and a million and a half of children are educated in these schools. In a small minority of them the teaching is exclusively secular. In the large majority the Bible is read and some religious teaching is introduced. On the other hand, the voluntary schools, which earn a subsidy from the State, clearly meet the wishes of a vast and very earnest section of the population. The average attendance of children in them nearly doubled in the ten years that followed the Education Act of 1870. Being largely supported by private benevolence, they have greatly lightened the burden of national education to the taxpayer, and the competition between the two systems has been very favourable to the interests of education. Constant efforts are made, sometimes by the enemies of the School Boards, and sometimes by the enemies of the voluntary schools, to disturb the compromise, but on the whole the double system has probably satisfied a wider area of English opinion than any other system that could be devised.
Whether, however, it can permanently subsist is very doubtful. The establishment of free education by the State, and the constant tendency to raise the standard, and therefore the cost, of State education, are profoundly altering the conditions of the problem. Ther ever-increasing burden thrown on the ratepayer for educational purposes is becoming very serious, and is felt as a great grievance by those classes who derive no benefit from it. It is probable that one of its results will be that, sooner or later, a much larger proportion of the wealthier taxpayers will send their children to the free schools, as the corresponding classes appear to do in the United States and in Victoria.65 Another consequence which appears almost inevitable is the gradual decay of the voluntary schools, if they continue to depend as largely as at present on private contributions and on children's fees. It is scarcely possible that such schools can permanently resist the competition of high-class free schools supported wholly from the rates. In the great centres of population and wealth they may linger on; but in poorer districts this seems impossible, unless the Legislature can be induced to grant them a larger measure of State support. The classes who now chiefly sustain them are too much impoverished by agricultural depression and increasing taxation to bear the double burden, and they are beginning to resent bitterly the obligation. Sooner or later, if the conditions are not altered, great numbers of Church schools will be closed, and the children obliged to resort to the Board Schools. But in the face of the vast multitude of ratepayers who incontestably desire definite dogmatic religious teaching for their children, the demand for a modification of the existing system is likely then to become irresistible. It does not seem to me probable that English opinion will approve of a purely secular education, or that it will in general abandon the unsectarian religious teaching which has proved so salutary and so popular. A very few years ago it appeared at least equally improbable that it would ever consent to endow largely purely denominational schools, but this improbability seems to have recently diminished. The belief that it is criminal for the State to endow the teaching of error, which in the recollection of many of us was so powerful in great portions of the English people, and which was the great obstacle to any system of impartial denominational endowment, has manifestly waned; and the division that has taken place in the Liberal party, and the discredit which the Home Rule policy has cast upon its larger section, have greatly weakened the forces opposed to sectarian education. English legislation, however, is peculiarly fertile in compromises, and it is possible that some arrangement may be made for either strengthening the denominational schools or giving facilities for the dogmatic teaching by voluntary agencies in free Board Schools of those children whose parents desire it. It is a somewhat unfortunate result of the extreme multiplication of religious services that has accompanied the High Church movement, that the clergy have very little time to undertake the duty of teaching religion in the schools.
Probably the only safe rule that can be laid down in dealing with questions of this kind is, that the object of the legislators should be to satisfy, as far as possible, the various phases of national opinion and wishes. One important consideration, however, should not be forgotten. The public opinion which should be really decisive on educational questions is the opinion of the parents, and not that of external bodies. In an age when agitations are largely organised, and organised for party purposes, there is always a danger of the silent force of an unorganised opinion being underrated. The true question to be asked is, whether parents readily send their children to the existing schools, and whether they are satisfied with the results. To a statesman, at least, no worse argument could be directed against the religious teaching of the School Boards than that it so completely satisfies a great proportion of the parents that they ask for no other.
In Catholic countries, compromises such as I have described are almost impossible. Simple Bible-reading is treated rather as an evil than as a good. Religion is far more intensely dogmatic; and even the conception of morality differs widely from that of Protestant countries, on account of the infinitely greater prominence that is given among its elements to distinctively theological practices and duties. The claims of the priesthood, in all countries where they have a real ascendency, go far beyond the sphere of purely theological teaching. Apart from all questions of instruction, they detest mixed education, because it produces friendship and association between Catholics and dissidents. They, at the same time, claim the most absolute rights of superintendence over all education. The amendment which the French Senate vainly tried to insert in the Ferry law in the interests of the Church, authorising religious teachers to teach religion in the schools after school hours, would have established in France the system which actually existed in Belgium under the ecclesiastical law of 1878. The object of this law was to render the general teaching of the communal schools in Belgium purely secular; but it, at the same time, while placing their control in lay hands, expressly provided for the teaching of religion out of class hours by the priests and in the schools. But no measure ever excited a more violent ecclesiastical opposition. The bishops at once condemned the schools. They refused to permit the priests to teach religion in them; they excommunicated the teachers; they withheld the sacraments from parents who suffered their children to attend them, and they speedily erected a great number of voluntary schools, which, in many parts of Belgium, almost emptied the communal schools. In West Flanders, the children frequenting these schools sank between 1878 and 1881 from 66,000 to less than 20,000.66 The Government, finding it impossible to induce the priests to teach religion in the schools, threw that duty on the ordinary schoolmaster, and the dominant party broke off diplomatic relations with Rome, abolished the exemption of the clergy from military service, and stopped several State benefactions to the Church. They were, however, totally defeated. It is evident that the Government measures went beyond the wishes of the parents. At the election of 1884 the Catholic party gained a complete triumph, and the ecclesiastical measures were all repealed.
The French legislators were more successful, but their action was, in some respects, extremely tyrannical. It was not merely that no public schools that were not purely secular were established. The members of the religious orders were driven out of an immense number which already existed, and which, in many cases, they had themselves founded. It was shown by official statistics that, in 1878, more than a fourth of the primary public schools for boys, and nearly two-thirds of those for girls, were under religious masters and mistresses. They had the confidence of the parents, no serious charge was brought against their efficiency, and they were less costly than the lay schools. The law of 1882, though it severely excluded religious teaching from the public schools, did not prevent the members of the authorised orders from giving secular teaching in them. But the law of October, 1886, went much further. It directed that in all public schools of every kind teaching should be exclusively confided to laymen, and that in five years, in all boys’ schools, the substitution of lay for the congregationist element must be complete. The public schools were thus, in the intention of the law, to be wholly disconnected from all religious influence, and as they, and they alone, were endowed and gratuitous, it seemed scarcely possible that in poor districts the free schools could withstand their competition. It was, indeed, the openly expressed hope of the Minister of Instruction that the immense majority of children would thus be forced into the purely lay schools.67
Nor were these schools devoted to a merely colourless secular teaching. The programme of literary studies provided in the law of 1881 was very ambitious in the range of its subjects, and among the first was ‘moral and civil instruction,’ which was to be given without any relation to religion. I do not believe that distinct attacks on religion are to be found in the school-books employed in the public schools, but catechisms depreciating all French history and institutions before the Revolution, and glorifying without qualification the acts of the Revolution, were now generally taught. The attitude of the new Government towards religion was sufficiently shown by the well-attested fact that functionaries have been dismissed because they, or even because their families, had attended Mass; and it was a well-understood fact that few acts were more unfavourable to the prospects of a Government official than that he should be seen attending the religious worship which, according to the Catholic faith, it was a mortal sin to neglect.68 Paul Bert, who represented the most active and proselytising type of atheism, was for some time Minister of Instruction, and, still more strangely, Minister for Public Worship, in France. He chiefly organised the new schools; he himself wrote one of the first manuals of moral and civil instruction, and he made the saying of Gambetta, that ‘Clericalism was the enemy,’ the inspiring motive of his policy. On the occasion of the annual distribution of prizes, presidents were appointed at the nomination of the minister, who delivered addresses in the presence of the children, and some of these addresses were of a kind which had scarcely been heard in France in the worst days of the Revolution. ‘It is pretended,’ said one of these presidents, addressing a number of young children, ‘that we wish schools without God. You cannot turn over a page of your books without finding the name of a god—that is, of a man of genius, of a benefactor, of a hero of humanity. In this point of view we are true pagans, for our gods are numberless.’ ‘Scientific teaching,’ said another, ‘is the only true teaching, for it gives man the certainty of his own value, and impels him towards progress and light, whereas religious teaching plunges him fatally into an obscure night and into an abyss of deadly superstitions.’ ‘It is said,’ declared a third, ‘that we have expelled God from schools. It is an error. One can only expel that which exists, and God does not exist.’69
It is idle to speak of a system under which such things were tolerated as mere secular education, as we should understand the term in England and the United States. It was a deliberate attempt on the part of the Government of a country to de-christianise the nation, to substitute for religion devotion to a particular form of government, to teach the children of the poor to despise and repudiate what they learnt in the church. The partisans of the new schools had many arguments to adduce which, as arguments of recrimination directed against the Catholics, were very powerful. They cited numerous examples of the grossly superstitious and grossly intolerant teaching that was contained in the old manuals of instruction. They showed that the clergy, wherever they had the power, claimed and exercised an absolute authority over schools; that they had expelled all teachers who were not subservient to them, and who were not regular attendants at their worship; that they were educating the French youth in principles directly opposed to those on which the French Republic rested; that they had done their best to overthrow the Republic in 1873 and in 1877. They were, probably, not at all wrong in believing that it is a great misfortune to a nation when the secular education of its youth is controlled by Catholic priests, nor yet in their conviction that it was very necessary to assert the superiority of the State as against the claims of the Church. The importance of education to the well-being of nations was at last clearly felt, and if this work was to be done, it was quite necessary for the State to undertake it. All over the world the Catholic priests claimed to control it, and all over the world the level of education was far lower, and the number of illiterates was far greater, in Catholic than in Protestant countries. The French clergy were strongly opposed to compulsory and gratuitous national education, and, when it was established, it would have been little less than madness to place it in their hands.
These considerations have much weight, and they were reinforced by others of a different kind. A great proportion of the modern controversies on education resolve themselves into one great difference: Ought national education to be regulated by the representatives of the nation, with a view to what they believe to be the interests of the State as a whole, or ought it to be a matter on which the will of the parents should be supreme? In France much more than in England, in the latter half of the nineteenth century much more than in the first half, the former view naturally predominated. The old Greek and Roman notion, according to which it is the duty of the State to mould its citizens in accordance with its civic and moral ideal, has largely revived. It was the doctrine of Danton, who emphatically declared that children belong to the Republic before belonging to their parents. It is equally the doctrine of a powerful school of new German economists. It is the doctrine of the Socialist party in every country. In dealing with national education in a Catholic country this theory of State direction seemed peculiarly applicable. National education, it is argued, is intended mainly for the most ignorant and neglected classes of the community, and in such classes the opinions of the parents are not likely to be either valuable or independent. Perfectly illiterate men will never appreciate the value of education, and if both parents have been educated by a superstitious priesthood, and if one parent is habitually subservient to clerical influence, it is not difficult to predict the course which education will take unless the State intervenes. It is its duty, it is said, to do so in the interests of the nation at large.
These arguments go far to justify the State in establishing a system of good secular education. They do not, however, affect the fact that the system established in France was both intolerant and demoralising, and that it in a great degree defeated its own end. Secular education is not a demoralising thing; but an education which is intended to discredit in the eyes of the young the chief religious and moral organisation of the country can hardly fail to be so, and the lamentable increase of juvenile crime in France is probably largely due to the new system of teaching. ‘The moral unity of France,’ which the education laws were intended to establish, was never further from being attained. In the face of French Catholic opinion, it was not in the power of the legislators to suppress religious teaching, though they did all they could to discourage it; and the result of their policy was, that in two years after the secularisation of schools had been decreed free schools had been established in every quarter of Paris, and fourteen millions of francs had been subscribed for their support. The official examination of children who were educated at home was so unpopular that this portion of the law was scarcely ever enforced.70 The Christian Brothers, who had played a great part in French education, still continued their work. They were driven from the public schools, but they opened innumerable private ones, which were enthusiastically supported by the parents, and great establishments for higher education on Catholic principles were established by private munificence at Lille, Lyons, Angers, and Toulouse.71 Under the influence of persecution and of combat the strongest fanaticism was aroused, and all over the country the distinction between Catholic and freethinking France was accentuated.
The movement, indeed, in favour of religious education was by no means confined to orthodox believers. Every one who knows France knows that great numbers of Frenchmen who are profoundly sceptical about the distinctive doctrines of the Catholic faith are extremely desirous that their children should receive a religious education. Men of this type seldom enter a church, and never a confessional, and they have much more sympathy with Voltaire than with Bossuet, but they believe that some form of positive religious teaching is essential to the stability of society; they look with alarm on the coarse materialism, the revolutionary doctrines, the demoralising literature around them, and they wish their children to grow up believing in God and in the Divine foundations of morality, and under the restraining and ennobling influence of a future life. If teaching of this kind could be obtained without priestcraft and superstition, they would be abundantly satisfied; but if they are obliged to choose between schools that teach superstition and schools that are hostile to all religious ideas, they will undoubtedly accept the former.
The religious war was much intensified by other measures. To cut down the income of an opponent is the meanest of all the forms of controversy; and the very moderate ecclesiastical budget, which was originally given in place of the ecclesiastical property that had been taken at the Revolution, has seemed too large to the modern Republican. Between 1883 and 1889 the stipends were reduced to the smallest limits.72 Few positions, indeed, are more isolated and more depressing than that of a country priest in the many parts of France where the anti-clerical spirit predominates. The mayor, the municipality, the national schoolmaster, the village doctor, are all commonly hostile to him. Most of the men, and many of the women, have given up all religious practices. There are no sufficient funds to keep his church in repair. His own salary from the State does not in general touch the 40l. a year of Goldsmith's village clergyman, and it is only slightly augmented by a few Low Masses and small ecclesiastical fees. He commonly lives an isolated life, with one poor servant, in the midst of hostile influences, and with no prospect before him.73 In everything relating to the Church the bias of the Government is displayed. The salaries of the bishops have been cut down to four hundred pounds a year—the sum at which they had stood in 1801—though the expenses of living have nearly doubled since then. The usual funds for the support of the chapters have been withheld.74 Many small grants, which had for generations been made for assisting the education of poor clergy and for various forms of clerical charity, have been ruthlessly suppressed. Sisters of Charity have been driven from the hospitals. Priests have been impeded or discouraged in ministering to the sick or dying in the hospitals. No Catholic chaplains are permitted in the regiments. The Paris Municipality, which in 1879 actually voted 100,000 francs for the relief of the returned Communists,75 has always signalised itself by the violence of its attacks on all religious teaching. In 1882 it passed a resolution asking for the suppression of all theological instruction in ‘all primary schools.’ ‘No one,’ said one of the members, ‘can prove the existence of God, and our teachers must not be permitted to affirm the existence of an imaginary being.’76 On another occasion, in order to vary the food in certain establishments under its control, they ordered that there should be one day of fast in the week, but added a special provision that it must never be Friday.77
Another measure, which is likely to have far-reaching consequences, is that taking away from all divinity students and Christian Brothers their exemption from military service. Some years must elapse before its full effects can be felt, and the French law on this subject presents a most curious contrast to the policy of the Protestant Government of Great Britain. Here the priests succeeded in persuading, first of all the Irish Protestant Parliament of the eighteenth century, and then the Imperial Parliament, that, with their celibacy and their confessions, they were a class so distinct from all other men that it was a matter of the first necessity that they should be educated in the strictest separation, and that the fine flower of their sanctity should never be exposed to the contagion of mixing in a national university with lay students. In France, the future priesthood will have served in the ranks, and spent a portion of the most susceptible period of their life in the not very saintly atmosphere of a French regiment.
It is remarkable how little agitation this great revolution has produced, and very Catholic voices are sometimes heard defending it. It is said that, by removing an old reproach and invidious exemption, it has done much to diminish the unpopularity of the priesthood; that it is giving them a knowledge of the real world they could never have acquired in an ecclesiastical seminary; that it at least secures that those who are binding themselves irrevocably to a life of celibacy and separation will do so with their eyes open, and with a clear knowledge of the world they are leaving.78 In practice, I believe the measure is often mitigated by sending the seminarist conscripts to serve in the hospitals. Another portion of the French law goes much further, and makes an ordained priest liable to be called from the altar for twenty-eight days’ service in the year. Catholic writers justly say that such a service is utterly inconsistent with the Catholic notion of the priesthood, and that it produces an irritation which is out of all proportion to its military advantage.
It is too soon to speak with any confidence of the ultimate results of the new French policy. In this, as in all similar cases, perhaps less depends upon the letter of the law than upon the spirit in which it is administered. It is certain that in the field of education the tension of conflict has been greatly relaxed, and it is very possible that the public schools have, in most places, assumed a really neutral character, and are giving the great mass of the French people an excellent secular education, without interfering with their religious belief. The spirit that prevailed in the French Government in the days of Gambetta and of Paul Bert has greatly changed. A new spirit of compromise and conciliation seems abroad; and although there is much aggressive atheism in France,79 this does not appear, as far as a stranger can judge, to be encouraged in the public schools. The manuals of ‘civic and moral instruction’ that are in greatest use in these schools are, no doubt, in the eyes of Catholics, very defective, as they establish moral teaching without any reference to Catholic doctrines, and accentuate strongly the political improvement since government was established on the principles of 1789. It is, however, grossly untrue to represent them as irreligious. In one of the principal of them the existence of God, of the immortality of the soul, of the eternal distinction between right and wrong, is strongly maintained. The duty of self-examination is enforced, and a great deal of very excellent and detailed moral teaching is given, in a form that is adapted with singular skill to the comprehension of the young.80 How far the actual vivâ voce teaching is conducted in accordance with this admirable model it is not possible for any one who has not a large practical experience in French education to say.
The stringency of the French laws against priestly interference with politics is very great, and no disposition has hitherto been shown to relax it. The proceedings which are of almost daily occurrence in Ireland would not be tolerated for an hour by a French Government. The law of 1801, forbidding national councils and diocesan synods, and confining the action of each bishop to his own diocese, has been so strictly interpreted that five bishops were prosecuted in 1892 because they jointly signed an episcopal manifesto. Alaw of 1810, reviving an edict of Louis XIV., peremptorily forbids all interference of the Church with temporal affairs. An article of the penal code makes it an offence punishable by from two months’ to two years’ imprisonment for any ecclesiastic in the course of his ministry to censure or to criticise a law of the Government. In less than a year the salaries of a cardinal, an archbishop, five bishops, and a great number of curés were stopped by the Government in order to punish them for offences against these laws. The usual charges were that they condemned divorce from the pulpit; that they had enjoined their parishioners not to send their children to the secular schools; that they had refused absolution to penitents; that they had exhorted the faithful to vote at elections for Catholic candidates. In three cases which occurred in 1892 diocesan catechisms were brought before the law courts because they contained articles declaring that it was a sin to vote badly; that marriage without a religious ceremony was no true marriage, but a criminal connection; that parents must not send their children to bad schools. The tribunal pronounced that the bishops who sanctioned these catechisms had attempted ‘to trace out for the faithful of their dioceses, on the subject of civil duties, a line of conduct under a religious sanction,’ and they accordingly ordered the incriminated passages in the catechisms to be suppressed. It is said on good authority, that in 1892 more ecclesiastics were persecuted on such grounds before the Council of State than in the forty last years of the two monarchies.81
The foregoing pages will, I hope, have given a clear, though by no means an exhaustive, account of the religious conflict which, contrary to the anticipation of the best thinkers of the beginning of the century, divides Catholic countries. It has arisen partly from the reaction against the laisser faire system which has led the State all over Europe to claim higher powers of moulding the characters of its members, and has greatly increased the sense of the importance of national education. It has arisen partly also from the increased sacerdotalism and centralisation of the Church, and from the peculiar facilities it possesses of influencing the new conditions of European politics. In an age when the world is governed by mere numbers, and therefore mainly by the most ignorant, who are necessarily the most numerous, any organisation that has the power of combining for its own purposes great masses of ignorant voters acquires a formidable influence. The facilities the Catholic Church possesses for this purpose are great and manifest, and its interests may easily, in the minds of its devotees, not only dominate over, but supersede, the interests of the State.
Patriotism is at bottom, to most men, a moral necessity. It meets and satisfies that desire for a strong, disinterested enthusiasm in life which is deeply implanted in our nature. It may, however, be extinguished in different ways. Sometimes it is destroyed by the excessive growth in a nation of material and selfish interests. Sometimes it perishes by a kind of atrophy when the fields in which it naturally expatiates are no longer open. This was the case in the despotism of the later Roman Empire, when, the paths of honourable public duty being for the most part closed, the best men ceased to interest themselves in public concerns, and a new ideal type of excellence arose, in which the civic virtues were almost wholly displaced by the virtues of the ascetic, contemplative and religious life. In our own day, the complete political impotence to which the upper and more intelligent classes are reduced in an unqualified democracy is evidently tending, in many countries, to detach them from all interest in public affairs. Often, too, the love of country decays by the substitution of other objects of enthusiasm. Women are, on the whole, more unselfish than men, but in many ages and countries their unselfish enthusiasm has been almost wholly unconnected with national interests. In the periods of the religious wars the true country of the devotee was usually the country of his religion, and not the country of his birth. In modern times, the devout Catholic is very apt to look upon the Church as his true and his higher country, and he accordingly subordinates all his political action to the furtherance of its interests.
There are many signs that Catholicism will in the future tend more and more to an alliance with democracy. It has in most countries lost the dignities and privileges on which its power largely depended. The powers with which it was once closely allied no longer govern the world, and it has always sought to connect itself with what is strongest among mankind. In its early history it will find ample justification for a democratic policy. The election in the early Church of bishops by universal suffrage; the many passages in which the Fathers, in language very like that of modern Socialism, denounced the rich and advocated a community of goods; the Councils, which formed one of the first great experiments in representative government; the essentially democratic character of a worship which brings together on a common plane members of all classes, and of an organisation which enables men of the humblest birth to attain to a dignity far transcending all mere human greatness; the long war waged by the Church against slavery; the great place in the history of liberty which may be claimed for St. Thomas Aquinas and the early Jesuits, as the precursors of the doctrine of the Social contract, may all be appealed to. Even Bossuet, in the days of Louis XIV., had proclaimed that the Church was pre-eminently and originally the city of the poor; that the rich were only admitted into it by tolerance, and on the condition of serving the poor; that the poor had great reason to complain of the inequality of conditions in the world.82 It is impossible not to see that the whole system of mediaeval industry, with its highly organised and protected guilds, which grew up in an eminently Catholic society, has far more affinity to the modern Socialistic ideals than the system of unrestricted and inexorable competition, with a survival of the fittest, which Adam Smith and his followers proclaimed, which Malthus pushed to its most unpopular consequences, which Darwin showed to be the great principle of progress in the world. Even the cosmopolitan character of working-class politics, which is doing much to weaken the exclusive sympathies of nationality, has some tendency to harmonise with the spirit of a cosmopolitan Church.
In Belgium, in England, and perhaps to a still greater degree in the United States, the priesthood are learning—somewhat to their own surprise—how much better the Church can flourish in countries where it has no privileges but perfect freedom than in countries where the whole system of government seems framed on the model of the Syllabus; and a large number of the more intelligent Catholics have come to the conclusion that the Church has much more to fear than to hope from Government interference. Among the many points of interest which Rome presented in the year of the Council, few were greater than the appearance there of a large body of bishops from the United States who were at once intensely Catholic and intensely American, and who were quite accustomed to hold their own amid the stormy freedom of American life. I can remember the course of sermons they preached, in which examples from American history were usually put forward, in a foremost place, among the moral landmarks of the world. I can remember still more vividly the bewilderment of one very eminent American divine, who had long been accustomed to represent Catholicism as the natural ally of democracy and freedom, at the political ideas and the system of government which he found predominating around him. ‘If the Pope only could be made to see,’ I once heard him say, ‘how much better he would get on with public meetings and a free press!’
The downfall of the temporal power, by giving the Papacy a greater independency of secular interests, will probably accelerate this movement. In most countries there now is a strong and growing tendency among Catholic divines to throw themselves ardently into the social question, and, discarding old alliances, to seek new elements of power in connection with the questions that most interest the working classes. This was the policy which Lamennais long since preached with consummate eloquence. This has been, in our day, the policy of Bishop Ketteler in Germany, of Cardinal Gibbons in America, of Cardinal Manning in England, of Father Curd in Italy, of the Comte de Mun in France. In Germany, the Catholic party has more than once shown sympathies with the Socialist party; and both in Germany and Belgium the movement known as ‘Christian Socialism’ has assumed a very considerable importance. Questions of the international regulation of labour; of the legal restriction of hours of labour; of the possibility of placing wages on a wholly different basis from supply and demand; of the establishment by law of a minimum wage; of the extension of co-operative industry, and of associations much like the mediæval guilds for strengthening the working-class interest and diminishing the stress of competition are now constantly discussed in societies presided over by ardent Catholics. The industrial system as at present existing is denounced as essentially unjust. The demand for a Sunday rest naturally forms a leading part of the programme, and the movement has been usually blended with the anti-Semitic crusade, which is represented as a crusade against usury and capital.83
It would be unjust to deny that much very genuine conviction and earnest sympathy with the poor have inspired this movement, though it is, I think, equally certain that questions of ecclesiastical policy and power have entered largely into it. The able and enlightened man who now presides over the Catholic Church has issued a long and remarkable Encyclical ‘On the Condition of the Working Man,’ dealing with the great social questions of the time. I do not think that it has done much to solve them. Questions of this kind cannot be profitably discussed by wide propositions and vague generalities, without entering into controverted details and grappling with concrete difficulties, and it is impossible for a personage whose words are accepted as inspired and infallible to deal with such questions, except in the most general manner. The Encyclical, however, has had an undoubted effect in accentuating the movement which is giving social questions a foremost place in Catholic politics.
It was a prediction of Count Cavour that, sooner or later, Ultramontanism and Socialism would be allied.84 Much that has happened since the death of the great Italian statesman tends to strengthen the probability of his prediction. But, whatever may be thought of the chances of this alliance, it is at least certain that there are real dangers to be feared from the exercise of the spiritual power of the Catholic priests for political purposes over an ignorant population, and with a democratic suffrage. I do not think that this danger has been wisely met either in Germany or France; but I think also that the Catholic Governments of the world are well justified in their belief that the danger is not one that can be neglected by a wise legislator. The most effectual remedy is probably to be found in the withdrawal, as far as public opinion will admit, of secular education from ecclesiastical control, and the establishment of such systems of education as bring together members of different creeds. But those who are aware of the enormous, scandalous, ostentatious clerical coercion that is in the present day practised in Ireland, will probably arrive at the conclusion that the Catholic Governments are quite right in their belief that some further legislation is required. It is true, indeed, that elections may be, and have been, invalidated on the ground of religious intimidation, but this remedy is a very insufficient one. The most crushing intimidation is the most successful, for it scares the witness from the witness-box. The men who are really guilty are altogether unpunished; and even when the election is pronounced void, they usually succeed at the next election in returning their candidates. As long as it remains possible to turn the chapel into an electioneering agency, and to blend politics with religious rites; as long as priests are allowed to overawe the electors at the polling-places, to stand by the ballot-boxes, and take a leading part as personation agents or agents in counting votes, so long clerical intimidation will continue. Two laws, at least, are imperatively needed to meet the evil.
The one is a law making the introduction of politics into the chapels, and the actual or threatened deprivation of religious rites on account of a political vote, a criminal offence punishable by severe penalties. The other is a law putting an end to all personal interference or participation of priests at elections, except as simple voters.
May's Const. Hist. ii. 366.
I.e. the Catholic rent paid to O'Connell and his Association for carrying on the agitation.
Sir Robert Peel's Private Correspondence, pp. 416, 418–19.
Sir R. Peel, in his speech on the Irish Church Establishment, April 2, 1835, expressed very clearly the intention of the authors of the Act. ‘In 1829, the civil disabilities of the Roman Catholics were removed by the Legislature, and the measure by which that object was effected partook also of the nature of a compact, as distinguished from an ordinary law. … By that Act the Protestants of Ireland were led to believe that all intention to subvert the present Church establishment, as settled by law within these realms, was most solemnly disclaimed and utterly abandoned. They were assured, on the obligation of an oath, that no privilege which the Act confers would be exercised to disturb or weaken the Protestant religion or the Protestant government within these realms…. They little thought that, within five years from the passing of that Act, the power which it conferred would be exercised to subvert the Church establishment, so far as regards the property of the Church.’
Ashley's Life of Palmerston, ii. 49–50.
Ashley's Life of Lord Palmerston, ii. 50–53. Lord Palmerston considered that in this letter Lord Clarendon understated the case. He writes to Lord Minto, ‘You may safely go further than Clarendon has chosen to do.’
Report of the Special Commission, 1888, pp. 119–20.
See Clifford Lloyd's Ireland under the Land League, pp. 150–151, 154, 161.
Report of the Special Commission, 1888, p. 53.
The reader may be interested to read the whole of the epitaph, which I have copied in Glasnevin Cemetery. At the top is a dove in the midst of vines, and around it the incription, ‘Thy Will be done.’ Then follows: ‘In Memory of Patrick O'Donnell, who heroically gave up his life for Ireland in London, England, on December 17, 1883.
See a most curious parliamentary return moved for by Mr. Webster (Feb. 20, 1893). Out of 395,024 votes polled in this election, 84,919 were set down as illiterates. In Great Britain the proportion of illiterates among the electors is about 1 in 100.
See especially the South Meath Election petition, tried before Mr. Justice O'Brien and Mr. Justice Andrews, November 16, 1892. A report of the trial has been published, and is very deserving of a careful study. I will only quote the following extract from the charge of Judge O'Brien (a fervent Catholic): ‘Some other matters have been introduced into the case which are, of course, of an extremely delicate and painful character—all the incidents connected with the confessional. Whether it was right or wrong to give that evidence, whatever view may be taken of it on any side or in any respect, the evidence was of an unusual and an unprecedented kind. The statement was that several clergymen, the names of whom are mentioned, had canvassed voters in the confessional; and there is no person at all—there is no Catholic—who cannot understand the tremendous importance of evidence of that kind. In all the instances but one undoubtedly the communication was after the confession was over; but there was one incident—a tremendous and unexampled incident—in which this interference with the franchise—entirely innocent, I believe, and from the purest reasons and motives, according to the evidence—was allowed to intrude into the mysterious sanctity of the Divine commission itself, and in which the absolution of the penitent was postponed at least, owing to the construction possibly made to depend upon the vote he gave…. I certainly do unhesitatingly come to the conclusion that, if the Rev. Mr. Fox did undoubtedly speak in confession to this man concerning his vote, he certainly did so in the strongest sense of his own duty.’
See Laveleye, Le Gouvernement dans la Démocratie, i. 121–24.
Much information on this subject will be found in the very interesting work of the Abbé Michaud, L'Eglise Catholique Romaine en France. See especially pp. 54–92. The illustrious Bishop Dupanloup clearly saw the danger of this multiplication of pretended prophecies; see his Lettre sur les Prophéties Contemporaines (1874).
There is an excellent account of the way in which pilgrimages are got up in Hamerton's Round my House, pp. 265–72; see, too, Michaud, 332–36; Burnouf, Le Catholicisme Contemporaine, pp. 242–45.
M. Michaud quotes the prospectus of a liqueur called L'Immortelle which was on sale: ‘Cette délicieuse liqueur composée avec de l'eau de la fontaine miraculeuse de Lourdes, et avec des plantes et des fruits recueillis dans les splendides vallées de Cauterets, &c., possède, avec le parfum le plus suave, les qualités qui en font une liqueur hygiénique par excellence. Prise avant le repas elle dispose à l'appétit; mais au lieu d'abrutir et de tuer, comme le fait l'absinthe, elle ouvre l'esprit et donne la vie. Prise après le repas elle parfume la bouche, active la digestion, et fait éprouver un bien-être que ne saurait procurer le meilleur cognac ou la plus délicieuse chartreuse,’ &c. (Michaud, pp. 335–36).
Hurlbert's France, pp. 380–83, 388–89. Pressensé, La Liberté Religieuse, pp. 71–72. See, too, Michaud, L'Eglise Romaine en France, pp. 254–69; Burnouf, Le Catholicisme Contemporaine.
The texts of some of these condemnations will be found in Janus; in the introduction of Laveleye to Minghetti's treatise on Church and State (French translation); in Laurent, De l'Eglise et l'Etat, p. 111; and in Mr. Gladstone's pamphlet on Vaticanism. See, too, an excellent chapter in Laveleye's Le Gouvernement dans la Démocratie, i. 146–56.
The text of this important allocution will be found in the pamphlet of Laveleye, La Crise récente en Belgique (1885), p. 29.
See a curious notice of this episode in the Dublin Review, April, 1893, pp. 463–64.
Laveleye, i. 187–88.
Michaud, p. 52.
May 27, 1886. See Revue de Droit International, xxi. 615.
See Kannengieser, Catholiques Allemands, p. 76.
See on this subject La Papauté, le Socialisme et la Démocratie par A. Leroy-Beaulieu, pp. 61–71.
The First Crusade took place in 1096. The loss of Ptolemais, the last Christian possession in the East, was in 1291.
See a striking passage of a speech of Bismarck quoted by Pressensé (La Liberté Religieuse, p. 155).
‘Au nom du passé et de l'avenir, les serviteurs théoriques et les serviteurs pratiques de l'Humanité viennent prendre dignement la direction générale des affaires terrestres, pour construire enfin la vraie providence morale, intellectuelle et matérielle; en excluant irrévocablement de la suprématie politique tous les divers esclaves de Dieu, catholiques, protestants ou déistes, comme étant à la fois arriérés et perturbateurs’ (Aug. Comte, Catéchisme Positiviste, Preface).
See L'Idée Républicaine au Brésil, par Oscar d'Araujo, p. 126. This silly book, written for the purpose of glorifying the revolution, contains much evidence of the treachery by which it was effected.
Dareste, Les Constitutions Modernes, ii. 648–50.
Dareste, i. 496–97.
Pressensé, La Liberté Religieuse depuis 1870, pp. 250–333; Revue de Droit International, xv. 70–72, 77–84; Adams and Cunningham, The Swiss Confederation, pp. 177–88, 274–75.
Kannengieser, Catholiques Allemands, pp. 30–31.
Ibid. p. 218.
Annual Register, 1881, p. 250.
Kannengieser, p. 38.
Dareste, Les Constitutions Modernes, i. 184.
Kannengieser, pp. 220–55.
See an interesting article on this subject, by Valbert, in the Revue des Deux Mondes, March 1, 1887. See, too, the Annual Register, 1887, and Kannengieser, Catholiques Allemands.
Simon, Dieu, Patrie et Liberté, pp. 120, 124–25.
Ibid.; Cousin, Huit Mois au Ministère de l'Instruction publique; Mémoires de Guizot, iii. 67–68.
See two articles by Duruy, Revue des Deux Mondes, May 15, June 1, 1879.
Mémoires, iii. 69.
See the text of this circular in Barnard's System of Instruction in different Countries, ii. 278–80.
See Arnold's Schools and Universities on the Continent, pp. 87–88; Simon, pp. 340–45; Cousin, Rapport sur l'Instruction primaire (Fragments littéraires), pp. 96–145.
Michaud, L'Eglise Romaine en France, pp. 302–303.
Ibid. pp. 290–303.
See an article of Albert Duruy, ‘L'Instruction Publique et la Démocratie’ (Revue des Deux Mondes, 1 Mai 1886).
See Discours de P. Bert, 21 Juin 1879; La Morale des Jésuites, p. 577.
Michaud, p. 305.
Simon, Dieu, Patrie et Liberté, pp. 176–87.
Simon, Dieu, Patrie et Liberté, p. 219.
See the articles of Albert Duruy Revue des Deux Mondes, 1 Juin 1879; Jan. 1880; 15 Juin 1882; 1 Mai 1886.
See a curious account of these measures by M. Andrieux, who was charged with the task of carrying them out (Souvenirs d'un Préfet de Police, i. 210–233, 288–301). See also Duparc et Cochin, Expulsion des Congrégations Religieuses. A vivid picture of the feelings aroused among pious Catholics will be found in the Letters of Mrs. Craven, in her Life by Mrs. Bishop.
Simon, p. 227.
Compare Beaussire, ‘Questions de l'Enseignement sous la Troisième République,’ in the Revue des Deux Mondes, June 15, 1882; Simon, pp. 228–34.
Simon, pp. 311–12, 323.
Ibid. p. 320.
June 16, 1881.
Pichard, Nouveau Code de l'Instruction primaire, pp. 2–4. This work gives the text of all the laws and official circulars relating to primary education.
There is a remarkable paper on this subject, called The Elementary Education and the Half-time System, by Sir Edwin Chadwick (1887). See, too, Dr. Richardson's Health of Nations, i. 161–305.
A most remarkable series of testimonies to this effect will be found in a pamphlet published in 1855, by the Hon. Edward Twisleton, called Evidence as to the Religious Working in the Common Schools in Massachusetts. Among those who gave evidence were Webster, Bancroft, Everett, Bishop Eastburn, Winthrop, Prescott, Sparks, Ticknor, and Longfellow.
A good review of the educational systems in the different colonies will be found in Sir Charles Dilke's Problems of Greater Britain, ii. 358–88. See, too, the notices in the Statesman's Year Book under the different colonies; Goldwin Smith's Canada, pp. 32–35, 36.
An excellent account of this controversy will be found in Choses de Hollande, by E. Lacheret, 1893, pp. 59–82.
See the remarks of Mr. Fairfield, in his Essay on ‘State Socialism at the Antipodes,’ in Mackay's Plea for Liberty, p. 151.
Dublin Review, April 1885. See, too, on this conflict an article of Valbert, in the Revue des Deux Mondes, Nov. 1, 1883.
Simon, Dieu, Patrie et Liberté, pp. 324, 330.
One of the best political writers in France says: ‘En France, depuis une douzaine d'années, le joug que l'Etat fait peser sur les employés est on ne peut plus lourd. Dans bien des localités on demande la destitution des petits fonctionnaires parce que leurs femmes vont à la Messe, à plus forte raison quand ils y vont eux-mêmes. Presque partout on les force à mettre leurs enfants aux écoles laïques publiques, leur enlevant la liberté de les envoyer aux écoles congréganistes privées’ (Leroy-Beaulieu, L'Etat Moderne, et ses Fonctions, p. 81). A traveller who visited Corsica in 1880, speaking of the small attendance at High Mass, says: ‘Officials were conspicuous by their absence. For a prefect or a mayor to attend Mass would have set the world talking for days together; and as for the tribe of smaller functionaries, if any of them harboured an inclination for church-going, they had not the courage to carry it out, for they would have had to face the ridicule of their friends, and might also have been exposed to the machinations of their enemies. “We dare not be seen inside of a church,” officials in Corsica have sometimes said to me, “for fear lest some one should report us to Government.” ‘The author, however, adds this significant note: ‘I learn from my kind reviser, Mrs. Lucas, in 1889, that the reaction about religion which has taken place in France has, since my departure, penetrated to Corsica, and that a change for the better has taken place in church-going, the dread of Government wrath having been, to a large extent, removed. Mrs. Lucas informs me further, that during the time I was myself in Corsica a few officials went to church at dawn in order to worship without being publicly seen, and that one official (a Frenchman) of their acquaintance attended both Vespers and High Mass. Mrs. Lucas, however, here adds that this official, though most hardworking and honest, did not receive, as is customary, a pension when he came to retire from the appointment that he had held’ (Barry's Studies in Corsica (1893), pp. 151–52).
Simon, Dieu, Patrie et Liberté, pp. 350–51. These addresses were delivered in 1882. Of Paul Bert himself the reader may obtain a clear conception if he will read his Morale des Jésuites and the speeches appended to it. In addition to his Manual of Moral and Civil Instruction, he wrote two little scientific books for the schools, but, as far as I have observed, they were very harmless.
Lefebvre, La Renaissance Religieuse en France, pp. 30–32.
See Hurlbert's France, pp. 355–59. Mr. Hurlbert has collected a great deal of curious information about the Catholic revival in France. See, too, the work of M. Léon Lefebvre.
Hurlbert, pp. 406–408.
A striking picture of the position of the country clergy in France will be found in an anonymous book called Pressant Appel du Clergé à l'Episcopat par un Catholique (1893). See especially pp. 78–80.
Duc de Broglie, Le Concordat, pp. 140–41.
Annual Register, 1879, p. 134.
Hurlbert, p. 486.
Leroy-Beaulieu, L'Etat et ses Fonctions, p. 249.
Appel du Clergé à l'Episcopat, pp. 106–8, 303–19.
Some striking illustrations of the extent to which atheism is taught in popular catechisms will be found in Mr. Lilly's Great Enigma, pp. 41–66; but the works Mr. Lilly quotes were not intended for or used in the public schools.
See the Eléments d'Instruction morale et civique, par Gabriel Compayré, 108me édition. See, too, the excellent manuals of G. Bruno, which are furnished gratuitously by the town of Paris to its communal schools:—Instruction morale et civique pour les petits enfants; Les enfants de Marcel, instruction morale et civique en action; Francinet, Principes élémentaires de morale, &c.
Le Concordat, par le Duc de Broglie (1893), pp. 142–60, 172–84, 218–33. See, too, M. Georges Picot, La Pacification religieuse et les suspensions de traitements (1892). It is, however, a complete error to suppose that stringent measures against recalcitrant priests took place only under the Republic. The hand of Napoleon I. was at least as heavy. M. Picot observes in his very interesting book, ‘qu'en 1812 les prisons d'état de Vincennes, de Fenestrelles et de Ham renfermaient 4 cardinaux, 4 évêques, 2 supérieurs généraux, 1 vicaire général, 9 chanoines, et 38 curés desservants et vicaires’ (p. 77).
See his sermon, ‘Sur l'éminente dignité des pauvres dans l'Eglise.’
A great deal of information about this movement will be found in the chapter on Catholic Socialists in Laveleye's Le Socialisme Contemporain; in Kannengeisen's Catholiques Allemands, pp. 115–214; and in Leroy-Beaulieu's La Papauté, le Socialisme et la Démocratie.
Laveleye, Le Socialisme Contemporain, p. 134.