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by mortal disease in the meridian of his strength. But these mysteries do not shake our faith. We trace effects to their causes, and bow before the laws of our being. Cowper's case is of this class, as much necessary, in the natural course of things, as those above instanced. And the question, Why was this permitted? resolves itself into the wider question, Why does God allow the good and lovely to suffer at all? Why does He not by perpetual intervention avert calamity from them? a question we need not trouble to answer.

Our next consideration is, that Providence alleviated Cowper's unhappy case, as far as was consistent with the existence of his malady. There were long intervals of suspension. Friends were raised up around him, eager to relieve and comfort him. In Mrs. Un

win especially he found one whose care
never wearied, and whose love never
waned. His employments were pre
cisely of the kind best adapted to divert
his mind from melancholy themes. His
bodily health was good. And without
miraculous interposition more than this
could not be. God suffered natural law
to operate, but broke its force. He did
not avert the calamity, but mitigated it.

He suffered once the madness-cloud
Towards His love to blind him,
Then gently led the blind along

Where breath and bird might find him. These considerations are not explanatory; we do not offer them as such; but at all events they bring the case of Cowper under the general principles of the Divine government, and point out gleams of compassion amidst the darkness of the mystery.


FEW men of our time have been the subject of opinions so contradictory as M. de Lamennais. It is true that no one has questioned the grandeur | of his genius, the extent of his learning, the manly energy and vehemence of his style; but in every other Perhaps, if we scan the facts of the respect there has been lavished upon case a little more closely we shall find him, in unceasing succession, either the that M. de Lamennais has not changed most enthusiastic praise or the bitterest so often or so completely as at first invective This, however, is not to be sight he may seem to have done. There wondered at, if we consider that M. de were in his mind two or three leading Lamennais, during his whole career, principles which constantly reappeared stood foremost in the contests of parties. under different forms, variously applied, Instead of remaining in the higher and and we shall take care to state them in purer regions of thought, he was con- the course of our biographical notice stantly descending to the battle-field, But to ordinary minds which do not with haughty eye and threatening tone, take the trouble to penetrate to the sword in hand, mercilessly striking foundations of things, or to mere condown all whom he considered his ene- troversialists who do not even wish to mies, either in the religious or political be impartial, M. de Lamennais has apworld. And not only was he a party-peared to be the very type of inconsis man, he more than once changed his tency and change. motto, and hoisted new colours; so This illustrious writer did not hesitate that his former friends at last proved to declare, himself, that his opinions his inveterate enemies, and vice versa. had been greatly modified in the course By turns a violent Ultramontanist of his laborious career. These variations and an almost sceptical philosopher, he ascribed to two causes. First, the the champion of absolute despotism and law of progress in every human being. the advocate of the wildest democracy; "There is nothing," said he, "more unmore of a Papist than the Pope himself; reasonable for a man than to remain and a greater revolutionist than the re unchanged in his ideas." Then must publicans of '93, he has explored in his be reckoned the influence of what M

wandering course the whole range of human opinions, from the one extremity to the other, and by the variations which have taken place in his own sentiments he has alternately excited the most ardent applause and the direst hatred.

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de Lamennais called the general intellect, or, to speak more simply, public opinion which changes with the great events of the day. If we take," says he again, "a retrospective view of our own minds, we cannot deny the suc cessive influence exercised over it by the general intellect. . . . In a manner, it was in this soil that our mind had its growth; there it found the sap which, by intimate elaboration, it assimilated to itself, and thus ever undergoing the process of modification, it has traversed the phases of its individual development, according to the degree of its weakness, a weakness which none can better appreciate than the mind itself which suffers from it. As far as sincerity goes, there is not one of our words which we would retract; but we have often been mistaken, and seriously so."

One ought certainly to acknowledge that M. de Lamennais has always been sincere in the promulgation of his theories, and this is no trifling merit at a time when hypocrisy is so generally tolerated. But his many changes, whatever may have been their causes, have necessarily weakened the authority of his name, of his system, of his writings, and have even given a lower idea of his genius. A really superior man is not carried about by the current of passing events as was M. de Lamennais. Before giving his opinion to the world he maturely weighs his principles, and then, insensible to the ephemeral fluctuations of the multitude, he remains firm in the path he has chosen from the beginning. By these signs we recognise those who are destined to become the leaders and the lights of the human race. M. de Lamennais, notwithstanding his remarkable talents, was not fitted for such a position; his intellect had more power than breadth, more depth than grasp; he was a clever dialectician rather than a profound reasoner. True to his purpose he turned neither to the right nor left, but as an arrow from the bow went straight to the end he had in view, neglecting the difficulties which beset his path right and left, till they turned round and attacked him in the rear In other words M. de Lamennais was frequently nothing more than an eloquent declaimer; he had the art of puzzling and of flooring his adversaries, without possessing skill to convince them. In short, he will most probably be deemed by posterity a man of second

rate abilities only. As he was always influenced by the course of circumstances, the events of his life and his writings were intimately connected the one with the other. We shall therefore combine the history of his personal life with that of his opinions.

ROBERT FELICITÉ DE LA MENNAIS, or DE LAMENNAIS, or simply LAMENNAISfor he has spelt his own name in this threefold manner, according as he he longed to the aristocratic or democratic party-was born June 19, 1782, at St. Malo, in the ancient province of Bretagne. It is worthy of remark, that thirteen years before M. Chateaubriand first saw the light in the same town, and nearly in the same street. Thus Bretagne has had the honour of giving to France the two greatest prose writers of the nineteenth century.

The ancestors of M. de Lamennais were armateurs, or ship-brokers; they had received a patent of nobility from Louis XIV. for aiding Admiral Duquesne in his engagements with the Dutch fleets. Since then the Lamennais family, without abandoning commerce, had taken a high standing at St. Malo, and filled with honour and ability several municipal offices. It seems that the young Laennais manifested from his early childhood a taste for the prac tices of Roman Catholicism. He used to build, in play, little chapels in his room, imitating what he saw at church, and trying to copy the ceremonies of worship. A little time after he became a chorister, and neglected his lessons at school that he might assist at the Mass, when performed by the canons. His father, who destined him for business, did not much relish this excess of fervour; accordingly, he went to complain to the Bishop of St. Malo, accusing the sacristans of enticing his son, and encouraging him to disobedience. sir," said the prelate; "it would be guilty in you to thwart the sentiment of precocious devotion which draws your son to the altar; leave him alone, and do not oppose the designs of Providence."

"You are wrong,

However, the young Lamennais was di verted from these devout practices, either by domestic circumstances, or by the great events now agitating the country. Soon after that he lost his mother, a tender and pious woman, who encouraged his taste for religious exercises, and he then

fell under very different influences. The Revolution of 1789, moreover, following up its desperate war against the Roman Catholic Church, shut all religious edifices during the year 1793, proscribed the priests, and under the invocation of the Goddess of Reason inaugurated a reign of frightful Atheism. At such a time it was scarcely possible that the child of St. Malo could pursue his devotions.

His impetuous and undisciplined temper, too, was a poor preparation for the Romanist's passive submission; nay, it was one of the causes which brought | about the religious revolts of his more advanced life. An old governess, who had the task of teaching him to read, could never subdue his indomitable spirit. He studied the art of reading by himself, and with extraordinary | efforts of application and perseverance, when he chose to do so. In like manner he acquired the Latin language. His elder brother, Jean de Lamennais, volunteered to instruct him, but the child soon became weary of his precep- | tor, refused his assistance, and providing himself with a grammar, a dictionary, and several Latin authors, he overcame all obstacles with extraordinary energy. In a very short time he could easily construe Horace, Virgil, and Tacitus. These little anecdotes have their importance; they exhibit the inner man of M. de Lamennais; they explain why he had so much confidence in his own ideas, and his unassisted strength.

His father had lost much money by the Revolution, and compelled to give up his whole time to the retrieving of his fortune, he had no leisure left for the superintendence of his son's education. Young Lamennais was consigned to the care and instruction of an old uncle who lived in the country. This gentleman, not knowing how to conquer the stubborn boy, used to shut him up for days in his library as a sort of prison. This library had two compartments, one containing the classics, books on religion, history, and literature; and the other, including works of a philosophical, heterodox, or immoral character-in one word, all that was dangerous for a youthful mind: in consequence of which, that part of the library was called Hell, and the boy was strictly forbidden to touch the books therein contained. But, as might have been foreseen, the Hell-department of

literature was precisely the one which excited his curiosity. Then only twelve years old, shut up by himself for long hours of solitude, he read all that fell in his way, and eagerly devoured the works of Bayle, Voltaire, Spinoza, and above all Jean Jacques Rousseau, whose opinions made a great impression on his mind. and whose style he imitated better than any other author of our time.

All this reading ill-chosen and illdigested produced in his intellect a perfect chaos of contrary elements. Imagine on the one hand his naturally religious tendencies which had been suppressed, not destroyed, and which remained in him even till his last breath; on the other, fancy those negative systems, those attacks against all the doctrines of Christianity, those theories of Deism and Materialism, which were continually passing under his eyes, and gradually penetrating into his mind: what struggles for a child! what a conflict between light and darkness, between doubt and faith, between good and evil! Was not this an anticipation of the spectacle which M. de Lamennais offered throughout his subsequent career?

His father continued urging him to join in the management of the firm ; but the youth had not the slightest relish for accounts, commercial operations were in no wise to his taste. He plunged deeper and deeper into his studies, and pursued them without guidance, according to the impulse of his own arbitrary nature, passing by turns from philo sophy to theology, from history to jurisprudence, perusing the "Moral Essays' of the Jansenist Nicole after the atheistical diatribes of Diderot; constant, so to speak, only in the desultory cha racter of his readings.

Thus he went on, till he was nearly twenty years old, having learnt much, but knowing nothing thoroughly. At this period we meet with an incident which the biographers of M. de Lamennais have merely alluded to in a few mysterious words, and we feel that we dare not entirely lift up the curtain ourselves. M. de Lamennais wished to see the world; it was a new horizon for him: with the extraordinary ardour he displayed in all things, he frequented drawing-rooms, theatres, frivolous com. pany; and it appears that he formed an attachment as unfortunate as it was violent. "Under the thick veil," says

M. Sainte-Beuve,* "which modesty has defeated his enemies, the philo and silence cast around his youth-sophers, because he has shown much ful years, you might perceive an all- contempt for them. The political feature absorbing sorrow, something unique and of this work is an apology for despotism, deep; then came a decisive catastrophe and one would suppose that Napoleon I. which at one blow broke that heart, and must have sanctioned M. de Lamenthrew him back into the practice of nais; but the Imperial Government took Christian duties." Where is the man offence at some expressions which imwho has not had like experiences in the plied regret at the decay of the clergy's brilliant and exciting days of his youth? influence, and the book was seized by M. de Lamennais was not of a nature order of the minister of police. Our sufficiently calm to bear this trial pa- author was thus beginning early his tiently. Discontented and broken in quarrels with the civil authorities. spirit he separated himself completely from the world, and seeking the loneli ness of his library, turned his attention to those authors who could strengthen his religious faith, so powerfully revived by the blow he had received. He was twenty-two years old when he celebrated his first communion, rather late it is true, but not remarkably so; for the ceremonies of religious worship having been interrupted till the promulgation of the Concordat between Bonaparte and the Pope, the majority of Frenchmen belonging to the same generation never celebrated the communion at all.

The fortune of the family had now almost dwindled away, and M. de Lamennais, having lost his father, was obliged to gain a livelihood by his own exertions. He entered the college of St. Malo as professor of mathematics, and for several years discharged the modest duties belonging to this position. But a strong inclination towards the sacerdotal office made him continue his divinity studies. The elder brother, whom we have before named, had already taken orders. In 1807, the subject of our sketch published a translation of the "Spiritual Guide," a treatise composed in Latin by an ancient priest. It is a book where Roman Catholic piety is exhibited with all its austerities and mystical aspirations. The translation is simple and pleasing; it has been more than once reprinted.

In the following year M. de Lamennais sent to press his "Reflections on the State of the Church." This was his first war-cry against the unbelieving and careless; it contains vigorous thoughts, powerfully expressed, but the author falls, from want of experience, into serious exaggerations; he mistakes abuse for argument, believes himself strong when he is only violent, and thinks he

Critiques et Portraits Littéraires.

In 1811, that is to say, at the age of twenty-nine, M. de Lamennais solicited and obtained his ordination. It is right to remark here that he had never followed a regular course of studies in the clerical schools belonging to his communion. Perhaps, if he had been subjected during his youth to a system of rigid discipline, he would have shown himself more humble before the ecclesiastical hierarchy-or, on the other hand, disgusted with the obedience required by the priests, he would never have adopted the clerical vocation. At all events, priests were scarce in 1811, and the Bishop of St. Malo broke through the customary rules, in order to secure to the Church so distinguished

a servant.

In company with his elder brother, M. de Lamennais now composed, under the title "Tradition of the Church respecting the Institution of Bishops," a work, which was published in 1812. His aim was to prove, contrary to the opinion of some recent Jansenist doctors, that at all times the sanction of the Roman pontiff had been necessary in France to render valid the election of bishops. The authors evinced great erudition in the defence of this assertion; but it remains very doubtful if the bishops, at the time of Clovis, attached much importance to the confirmation of their titles by the Popes. It is only with Gregory I., during the sixth century, that we find clear proofs of a supremacy recognised on behalf of the Papal See.

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as a man greedy of crimes. This was followed by a bitter pamphlet, assailing the University which the Emperor had founded-a pamphlet in which that institution was described as " vicious and impious." To kick the prostrate lion afforded no proof of a generous spirit; but this conduct can be explained by reference to the rancorous passions reigning at the time throughout France. In 1814, the philippics launched against Bonaparte by M. Benjamin Constant, M. de Chateaubriand, and Madame de Staël, were also of the most violent description. There are times when nations, refusing to listen to the voice of justice, applaud only the cries of anger and revenge.

But Napoleon returned unexpectedly from the island of Elba, and M. de Lamennais, dreading the reprisals of the Imperial Government, sought refuge in England. There, according to all his biographers, a curious incident befel him, in which a lady of high rank also played a part.

This little circumstance will be easily understood if we bear in mind that M. de Lamennais, to use the common expression, was no beauty. Picture to yourself a short, spare, mean-looking man, awkward in his manner, slovenly in his dress, and a perfect stranger to the rules of etiquette. If any one looked at him in the face he would cast down his eyes, survey first the one shoe, then the other, or take great pinches of snuff from a large box, to conceal his embarrassment. And let us remark in passing that this timidity, this awkwardness remained with him throughout life At the time when he was shaking the foundation of the Catholic Church, when he was attacking both Kings and Popes with a voice terrific as thunder,-the least visit, an interview with the most obscure stranger renewed all his nervousness. He showed himself brave and bold only when his pen was in his hand.

Well, M. de Lamennais went to England in the spring of 1815, with a letter of introduction to a noble lady, whose name need not be told. Behold, the sacerdotal tribune that was to be, presenting himself clad in a cassock worn threadbare, crumpling in his hand a dirty old hat; scarcely able to articulate a few confused words, he solicited to be taken into the family as a tutor. The lady scanned him from head to foot,


and sent him away in the most disdainful manner. Some one asked her what her reason was for so doing: "I could not receive that man," said she, looked so very stupid." M. de Lamennais was fond of repeating the anecdote to his friends. It is not the first time that a man of genius has been despised on account of his vulgar appearance, nor will it be the last.

Thus defeated in his attempt to procure a situation as tutor, M. de Lamennais entered a school, founded near London, for young émigrés, by the Abbé Caron, of Rennes, and he remained there seven months, discharging the humble duties of an usher. He then returned to France, dreading no longer the power of Napoleon, who was mournfully crossing the ocean on his way to the captivity of St. Helena. He went to the convent of the Feuillantines; afterwards to the seminary of St. Sulpice, and again to his old convent, possessed by an unsettled spirit, and finding nowhere the repose he sought. During these peregrinations he worked hard; the result of his labours-the first volume of the "Essay on Indifference in Matters connected with Religion "-appeared in 1817; the author was thirty-five years old.

Here let us pause over a book which marks an important epoch in the life of the great writer. M. de Lamennais, henceforward styled l'Abbé de Lamennais, passed at once from obscurity to renown; and, to use the words of one of his disciples, Father Lacordaire," in one day the humble priest found himself invested with all the authority Bossuet formerly enjoyed." The members of the sacerdotal body hailed with transports of admiration the intrepid and eloquent champion who displayed in the defence of Catholicism a power of logic and an energy of style never witnessed in the Gallican Church since the days of Bossuet and Fénélon. Great was the enthusiasm even at Rome. The Pope and the cardinals were rejoiced at having found a supporter whom they could oppose to their most distinguished adversaries ; philosophers and sceptics felt astonished at hearing a voice so manly and so universally regarded, proceed from a community which they had thought either. dead or dying. Politicians seeking to strengthen society by reviving religious belief, encouraged the writer who dealt such severe blows at incredulity. Men

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