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NOTE ON THE SECOND ARTICLE OF THE APRIL
THE following remarks occur in our last number (p. 285) :
A question has quite recently been raised, how far it can be legitimate for a Catholic writer to allege publicly a charge of doctrinal unsoundness against any theory, which certain other Catholics may maintain. Doubts have been expressed, whether it is in accordance with the Church's spirit and principles, to adduce such a charge otherwise than in the way of private appeal to ecclesiastical authority; and whether a different practice, so far as it prevails in England, has not arisen from Catholics living in the midst of a Protestant world. Now as we have ourselves from time to time made accusations of the very kind here censured, we shall not be suspected of undue aggressiveness if we briefly refer to this allegation : for if it could be maintained, it would follow that the view of our duties, on which we have habitually acted, is seriously opposed to ecclesiastical principle. And as our purpose is exclusively to speak in our own defence, we must beg our readers to bear in mind a fact, which we have often mentioned; viz., that whatever we write with any doctrinal bearing, is submitted to censors, who are appointed by the Archbishop of the diocese in which our Review is published.
The writer, to whom we here principally referred, explains, that his remarks had no reference to ourselves, and do not cover our particular case. “Even in principle,” he says, certainly in practice, there is a wide difference between controversy carried on in a recognised organ of Catholic literature, which has a responsible editor, assisted (though a layman) by censors appointed by authority,—and an anonymous charge in the columns of a newspaper, even the Editor of which is not responsible for the opinions expressed by his correspondents,' who have no technical restraint but the law of libel." Nothing can be more straightforward and satisfactory than this state, ment. The question raised is one of great and constantly recurring practical importance, and one on which it is very desirable that Catholic writers should be united in judgment.
We are in entire accordance with another remark, made by the same writer with some reference to ourselves. We are as far as he can be from desiring. "the most unbridled independence of anonymous comment in matters of doctrine." "The press," he adds, "is a valuable weapon for the defence of the Church, but every one knows that it is a weapon peculiarly liable to abuse." We heartily concur.
Notices of Books.
A Scheme of University Education in Ireland. By a PROTESTANT CELT.
London : Stanford.
E mentioned in our last number, that we defer to a future occasion all
University education in Ireland. We will only say therefore, concerning the one now before us, that it is most ably and carefully wrought out, with a very complete and ample reference to all the various necessities of the case. The general spirit of the pamphlet is truly admirable; and we can only hope that there are many Irish Protestants, who resemble our author.
There is one fundamental truth, repeatedly forgotten in England, to which he draws attention. We cannot express it better than in his own words :
"It not unfrequently happens in controversial affairs, that one who ought to be a suitor in court places himself in the position of a judge. In imagi, nation he sits upon the bench, and he lays the flattering unction to his soul that he has perfect judicial impartiality; while in reality he carries with him all the one-sidedness of the plaintiff or defendant.
“The 'Secularist' or 'Non-Dogmaticist' (call him by what name you please) does this. He fancies that he is a judge, and he says, 'I am just. I am impartial. I am judge, and I treat you various Dogmaticists-Catholic, Anglican, and Presbyterian—all alike, with even-handed justice. I am not as Queen Elizabeth and other sinful persons of that class, one favouring Protestants and persecuting Catholics ; I am a just judge.
“To this the Dogmaticists reply, 'Who made you a judge over us? This is no question of Catholic against Protestant. It is a far greater and more important one. It is one of us altogether against you. Come off the bench; you are only a suitor.'
“The question of abstract justice which we have at present before us in Ireland then is this. How is the State to deal justly, as between Dogmaticists' and 'Non-Dogmaticists'?
“Is it just for the State to give to the latter sect, and to say no to the former ? " (pp. 6, 7.)
But not only are these “Non-Dogmaticists” a mere sect like any other ; beyond all possible doubt, they are the very smallest sect of all. “ All will agree that the Non-Dogmaticists and their secular allies” !--so far as Ireland is concerned—“are at present in a hopeless minority” (p. 8). To legislate for Ireland in the predominant interest of undenominational education, is not merely to legislate in the predominant interest of one single sect,--but it is to
legislate in the predominant interest of the smallest and most insignificant sect existing throughout the whole country.
Our author draws another distinction (pp. 8, 9); viz., between Catholic Irish “ Ecclesiasticism” and “ Non-Ecclesiasticism,” as he respectively calls them. Our impression is, that he is here mistaken in his statement of fact, through his unacquaintance with Catholic doctrine. There are two different classes of important questions, which have to be considered in any scheme of higher education : the former class being those which are connected directly or indirectly with faith and morals, the latter those which have no such connection. Thus it is a question of the former class, whether some given philosophical or historical opinion be cognisable on theological grounds as false or objectionable ; while it is a question of the latter class, whether such opinion admitted to be theologically unobjectionable) be really in accordance with reason and with facts. Again, it is a question of the former class, whether some given arrangement of studies give sufficient prominence to the inculcation of religion and morality ; but it is a question of the latter class, whether some given arrangement of studies be the best for developing the learner's intellect, imagination, taste. Now all Catholics, who understand the first elements of their religion, will admit that on questions of the former class the Church is de jure absolutely supreme : whereas, in regard to the latter class, there is no specially clerical prerogative ; and the most loyal Catholic may earnestly desire, that the laity should have a co-ordinate and influential voice in their decision. Only of course it is always exclusively. within the Church's province to decide, what are those particular questions over which her
supremacy extends. If our author had duly pondered on this simple distinction, he would have been more accurate, we believe, in his statements of fact. Moreover, he would have been more sparing in his sarcasms on “ the Irish Catholic Sinbad” (p. 9); and would thus have avoided what, we think, is the only blot in his very excellent disquisition.
The Life of S. Jane Frances Fremyot de Chantal. By EMILY BOWLES.
London: Burns & Oates. WHIS volume forms the second of the quarterly series, conducted by the
managers of the “Month," a series from which very valuable service may be expected for the Church : and Miss Bowles has given us in it a beautiful and touching sketch of the life of the great Mother of the Visitation. We are told by the Editor in his preface, that “the work was originally intended as a sketch of the life and character of the great Saint whose name it bears, chiefly in connection with her own family and children," but that afterwards it was thought a pity not to complete the narration " by some account of Madame de Chantal herself, not only as a mother in the natural order, but also as the Spiritual Mother of numerous generations of
souls so dear to God and so precious to the Church, as the Nuns of the Visitation are well known to have been.” We heartily rejoice that this second thought has been acted up to, for the result is one of the most interesting, and in its own way one of the most perfect sketches of the outer life of a great Saint that we have ever had the happiness of reading. The child-life of S. Jane Frances in the rambling old house at Dijon, her married and widowed life at Bourbilly,—beautiful Bourbilly with its grand old trees, and green meadows and sloping vineyards, and in the distance the forest "stretching for miles, and filling with its purple outline all the space to the horizon,”—her more anxious life at Monthelon, where the gloom of the old castle, so different from Bourbilly, must have seemed to her typical of that darker gloom of sin which in some measure hung over the place; her meeting with S. Francis de Sales, who was to be for the whole of her future life as “the good Angel of God, accompanying her, and ordering all things well ;' her work among the sick and poor; her final vocation ; the history of her dealings with her children and all connected with her; the chosen souls whom God gathered round her to serve as foundation-stones of the Visitation; her life at the Gallery-house at Annecy ; the progress of the great work of the Visitation; her intercourse with Angélique Arnauld and S. Vincent de Paul; her last journey and illness, and the last night of her life on earth,—all these scenes stand out before us as so many vivid pictures of the life of the valiant woman, whose “strength and beauty are her clothing, and who shall laugh at the latter day.”
We have said above that the work before us is a sketch of the outer life of the Saint, and as nothing more seems to have been intended either by the authoress or the editor, we have no right to complain that we have not received more solid information as to her inner life, by what might be called a more “hagiological” and definite treatment of her practice of heroic virtue. We would not, indeed, have our readers to suppose from these remarks that we are not permitted to have glimpses of her inner life, for we are favoured with many such glimpses, but then they are glimpses only. We are not allowed steadily to gaze deep down into those depths of heroic sanctity, where lie the roots of that Divine life whose fruits are unto everlasting. This life of S. Jane Frances is not a life which we can take up and find our attention at once concentrated on the Saint's heroic struggle after some particular virtue, which we ourselves are endeavouring by God's grace to cultivate, and which we may perhaps wish to compare with the exercise of the same virtue in the lives of other Saints. This is not a life in which the heroic virtues of the Saint are all set down each in its proper place, along with facts, gifts, and miracles, so that without difficulty we may apply the lessons to be learnt from them to our own daily spiritual life ; in other words, this is not a life for spiritual reading. In our last number, while fully admitting that biographical lives of the Saints are most valuable, and peculiarly suited to the tastes and needs of the present day, we dwelt on the necessity, which we think exists, of also having Saints' lives written on such a method and in such a style as may best serve for spiritual purposes. Now, although this life of S. Jane Frances, as we said above, is intended to be merely a biographical sketch, and nothing more, and as such cannot fail to be productive of much very important service ; yet, as it illustrates in a very marked manner what we consider to be the disadvantages of the biographical method, we may perhaps be allowed to dwell somewhat at length upon the subject.
No one, we venture to say, who takes up this beautiful book-say, for instance, during his quarter of an hour for spiritual reading—but will find it rather a distraction than a help, in some respects a positive hindrance to his purpose. He has only a few minutes at his disposal, during which he hopes to take in enough of solid spiritual food to sustain his soul during the struggles and weariness of the day. What does he find ? Page after page of beautiful writing and often of minute description, the very charm of which carries his thoughts far away from the Saints' heroic virtue, and even from his own soul, the nourishment of which is the sole object for which he has taken up the book. The style is so attractive that he stops to admire it, perhaps even reads a passage or two aloud, in order that the sweet sound of the melody may fall upon his ears. It is so picturesque, that it is suggestive of many thoughts-all beautiful in themselves, but charming the mind far away from the main object in view. The human interest,--and it is so great that we ourselves confess that we could hardly lay down the book till we had finished it,-prevails to such an extent over the saintly elementalthough of course this is never altogether absent—that the reader becomes absorbed in the story rather than in the sanctity of the Saint; and when the time for spiritual reading is over, and he lays down the book, he finds that, after all, however much his mind has been entertained and delighted, his soul has not been fed with the bread of the strong, which he stands so much in need of for the nourishment of his spiritual life. He opens the book, we will say, at chapter xi., and his eyes fall on the following striking passage (p. 96) :
“It would read more like some fairy story than a record of real life were we to follow the little Baroness de Thorens through the first year of marriage in the old Castle de Sales. It is wonderful that, with all the pictures we possess of possible heroines in poetry and prose, no painter has tried his hand upon the actual beauty of this extraordinary and touching scene. Nothing could be depicted more full of grace and charm than the figures of this young Bernard, bright-faced and golden-haired, with his large, transparent blue eyes, and his girl-haroness, with her richly-coloured young face, sweet with its modest gravity and a kind of peaceful responsibility. We can imagine her sitting at work either in the long galleries or antique chambers of the castle, with their high coved ceilings and deep windows with stained glass, or kneeling in the quaint oratory, roofed with blue and sown with stars ; or again, wandering with her chivalrous husband among the exquisite valleys, gazing with rapt delight upon the mountains bathed in rose-coloured and purple light, or gathering primroses and violets from the rich spring carpet, which at the time of their coming home spread under the hoary oaks and pines."
Now what will be the ejaculations which this beautiful passage, so full of purely human interest, will call forth from the reader, except such as these :
What a perfect picture !” “How I should like to see it made the subject of a painting !” What will be the practical resolution taken after reading it,