« PředchozíPokračovat »
bither to the Pope and Cardinals. We have not learned whether they attribute to the Pope and Cardinals, or not, the Irish famine of 1816. We should not, however, be surprised to find that they do. They regard every Catholic Irish servant-girl in a Protestant family as an emissary or an emissaryess of the Pope, initiated more or less into the secret of the Papal conspiracy. Every Irish maid-servant and man-servant is supposed to have no faith, no conscience, but to do the will of the priest, and to be ready to obey his order, whether it be to poison their Protestant master, or to burn down his house. Verily, one is not surprised at Barnum's success. Now the Pope and Cardinals had no more to do with the Irish migration than they had with the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth. The Irish were forced to emigrate by the misgovernment of their country by Protestant England, and came here because we promised them liberty of conscience, civil and political equality, after a short probation, with natural-born citizens, and good wages and plenty of employment. They came here Catholics, and they choose to remain so. They are so far from being engaged in a conspiracy to deliver over this country to the Pope, that, if we were to reproach them at all, it would be for their want of zeal for the conversion of our non-Catholic countrymen. They have suffered so long and so much from the Anglo-Saxon, that they can hardly persuade themselves that his conversion enters into the designs of Providence. They know their faith, and love it; they know the rights it gives them, and the duties it imposes, and there is not one among them who, if ordered by a priest to do anything contrary to Catholic morality, would not say to him, “Get behind me, Satan." If there could be found a priest base enough to give the order supposed, there is no Catholic servant that is so ignorant as to believe it obligatory. He, the priest, would, were he to give it, lose all his influence, and be looked upon, not as a priest, but as a moral monster. To poison one's master or to burn down his house, Catholic morality, as taught to all, condemns, and every Catholic knows that whosoever should advise or order it denies Catholic teaching, and therefore is to be held as separated from the faithful. If an angel from heaven, says St. Paul, should preach to you any other Gospel than that which we have preached, let him be anathema. No con
spiracy by the Pope and clergy to do what is contrary to the faith and morals publicly taught, and which are held by all Catholics, could possibly be formed, and to do what is required by Catholic faith and morals no conspiracy is needed, and no additional power could possibly be derived from it.
There are no doubt among Catholics the silent operations of Divine grace, and the secret or invisible influences of faith and charity; but the Protestant notion that the Church is a huge secret society, somewhat like that of the KnowNothings, is as far from the truth as was the notion of the old heathens, that Christians worshipped an ass's head, and killed and eat an infant in their assemblies. The Church is open and frank, and what she does she does in the light, not in the dark. She has no secrets but those of the interior life, and she condemns all secret societies. Her faith is proclaimed on the house-tops, before all the world; her dogmas and morals are not concealed; all may know them who will; and she calls upon all by her missionaries, not emissaries, to make themselves acquainted with them. Her emissaries, you say, are secretly at work to bring this great, free, and glorious republic under the dominion of Popery. Translate this into civil and gentlemanly language, and it means that Catholic missionaries are at work to convert the people of this country, as of all others, to Catholicity. And what is there so very objectionable in this? If they can, by appeals to reason, history, and Scripture, convince the American people that Catholicity is from God, who has the right to complain ? Reason, history, and Scripture are open to you to use against them, if you choose. They are willing to meet you on fair and equal terms before the American public, and if you are unwilling to meet them on the same terms, or, so meeting them, are worsted, is this their fault?
But Dr. Beecher would persuade us that Popery is itself a grand conspiracy against the Gospel and the liberties of mankind; but Dr. Beecher is not very high authority, nor very persuasive in his speech. He deals too much in filth to have much influence with men of a tolerable stomach. The pretence is absurd. You may say Catholicity in your
, judgment is not true Christianity, and is unfavorable to true freedom, but you cannot say it is a conspiracy. A conspiracy is a combination of men for an evil purpose, more especially an unlawful plot to overthrow a government. In neither sense can you call the Church a conspiracy. It is not a conspiracy against governments in general, or any particular government, certainly not against ours, which it is our sacred duty as Catholics to sustain. It is not a combination for an evil purpose, for the purpose of the Church is to convert the world to Jesus Christ, and to establish on earth the reign of peace. This is a good purpose, and even if the Church could be mistaken, as she uses and suffers to be used none but lawful means to accomplish it, she is and can be no combination of men for an evil purpose. To talk of exposing the Papal conspiracy, is only to expose your own looseness of language, or something still more reprehensible.
But enough. We have wished in what we have said to address ourselves to that class of Protestants — large, we would fain hope who love fair play, and who, however they may dislike Catholicity, would deal justly and honorably with Catholics. We have wished to offer them some suggestions which may, if taken up and pursued by their own thought and reflection, satisfy them that Catholics, even if Ultramontanists, may be as free and act as spontaneously, to say the least, as their Evangelical opponents. In general, however, we are unwilling to assume even the appearance of an apologist. Works like Dr. Beecher's can do us, in the long run, no harm. They can make no lasting impression on the American people, and in the end will operate greatly to the damage of Protestantism. Sensible people will be led by them to ask, Whence is it that Protestantism shows itself so weak and malignant, so untruthful in its statements, so unphilosophical in its reasoning? Can it make no better defence ? Has it no more refinement, no more honesty, no more virtue? Protestantism cannot long survive the asking of such questions.
ART. VI. — LITERARY NOTICES AND CRITICISMS.
1. Fabiola ; or the Church of the Catacombs. By His EMINENCE
CARDINAL WISEMAN. New York: D. & J. Sadlier & Co. 1855. 16mo. pp. 385.
We are indebted to Mr. Donahoe, Catholic bookseller, of this city, for a copy of this singularly beautiful and interesting work, by his Eminence Cardinal Wiseman. Some of our friends in England have started the plan of a popular Catholic library, or a series of popular works designed to furnish to the English-speaking Catholic public a pure, chaste, and elevated literature. English literature is extensive, various, and rich ; but it has for the most part been produced by authors separated from the Church, opposed to her doctrines, or strangers to her spirit. It is uncatholic even when not anti-Catholic. Undoubtedly the English Catholic student must, if he would master his own language, and speak or write to the approbation or comprehension of his fellow-Englishmen, or of Anglo-Americans even, make himself more or less acquainted with it. In any system of education devised for those whose mother tongue is English, its study must hold a prominent place. Not otherwise is it possible to understand our national culture, national modes of thought, or national genius. To exclude it from our Catholic schools and colleges, or from the general reading of Catholic youth, would be in some sense to denationalize our Catholic population, and to produce a total civil and literary, as well as religious, separation between us and our non-catholic countrymen. But, unhappily, there is much danger to the chastity of Catholic thought and life in familiarity with this literature, and those who are fed with it can hardly be expected, without extraordinary grace, to grow up strong and lusty Catholics. Their faith, even when not extinguished, is likely to be pale and sickly, and their charity cold and languid. Highly important is it, therefore, that it should be purified by the infusion of new works, retaining all its nobler qualities, and free from its anti-Catholic and irreligious tendencies.
The production of these works is a matter of some difficulty. The greater part of our educated Catholics have formed their mental habits and tastes in the study of a foreign literature, and are to some extent unpractised and unskilful in the use of their mother tongue. Most of our Catholic books have a certain foreign air and accent, and do not address themselves to our peculiarly English or American home feelings. Their intellectual and religious excellence in a great measure atones for this want of nationality, and renders them as works of pure instruction or edification highly useful and satisfactory, but as works intended to form the literary taste and to satisfy the literary wants of a cultivated and a reading people, they are, it must be confessed, not a little deficient. Translations of foreign works, however well done, cannot supply these wants, because no foreign literary work can ever be thoroughly nationalized by translation. It will always bear traces of its foreign birth and breeding. To a large portion of even our Irish Catholics, English is virtually a foreign tongue, and hence we view with deep interest the opening of the Catholic University in Dublin. The recent conversion of so many eminent men and distinguished scholars from Anglicanism must, however, do much to remedy our want of an English Catholic literature. These converts speak English without any foreign accent, and, except in what touches faith, are as national as any class of their countrymen. They are, too, most of them, active, energetic men, and are fast naturalizing Catholicity in our noble English tongue. But converts cannot do all. As long as they live, the fact that Catholicity was not the faith of their childhood and youth will remain, and have more or less of influence. They can never be perfectly at their ease, and they will often be at a loss where to draw the line between their old life and the new. They need a guide, who has been bred a Catholic, informed throughout with the Catholic spirit, and knowing as it were by instinct what Catholic literature may accept from the non-Catholic world, and what it must reject,
one who finds in himself all that is acceptable in the general literature of his country harmonized with Catholic faith and charity. With such a guide, these converts, both in England and the United States, will do a noble service to English Catholic literature. Such a guide they have in the author of Fabiola, who seems to have made himself thoroughly master of the whole range of English classical literature, familiar with the tastes, the modes of thought, the genius, the inner life, of his Protestant countrymen. Under his direction and patronage, we see no reason why the Popular Catholic Library should not prove of great national importance. We expect much from a literary undertaking in which he takes part, and which is edited by Capes, Northcote, and Thompson, so favorably known through the pages of The Rambler. Fabiola is the only volume of the Popular Library we have seen ; but we see announced The Life of St. Frances of Rome, by that admirable Catholic novelist, if we may so call her, Lady Georgiana Fullerton, whose Lady.Bird, we are bound to say, on a reperusal, deserves much higher praise than we gave it ; The Heroines of Charity, by Aubrey de Vere, Esq. ; and several others which must be of high interest.
Were we to speak of Fabiola in the strong terms our feelings would prompt, we should be deemed extravagant by those who have not read it. It is a most charming book, a truly popular work, and alike pleasing to the scholar and the general reader.