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Of course nothing of that kind was even dreamt of when La Mennais arrived at Munich, in 1832, on his return from Rome, in anxious expectation of what the Pope would decide in regard to the doctrines of the Acenir. His immediate object in coming to Bavaria was to secure the political sympathy of that celebrated school—and it was proffered without delay. His own attitude towards the new government in France was exactly the same as that of the Bavarian Catholics. They only required practical and entire freedom for the exercise of their religion, such as it was guaranteed by the Constitution. There existed, therefore, between them and the French Catholics what the latter would call une harmonie préétablie ; and we must remember likevise that M. de la Mennais, being still, to all appearance, an orthodox priest, lic was considered as their lawful and most illustrious representative. Besides, through the Acenir he had conquered the adhesion of Baader, one of the champions of German philosophy, who a year before had become his co-religionist and an active contributor to
There was a moment, indeed, when Schelling himself seemed yielding to the influence of the great agitator. At least, such was M. Rio's opinion. The celebrated German philosopher was then undergoing one of those mental evolutions ishich so frequently marked his career. Hitherto he knew La Mlennais only by his writings, and had come to the conclusion that he was the most powerful dialectician of his times. In Schelling's language the word had a far deeper meaning than re usually attach to it, as vas proved by the fact that he wished for a secret interview with La Vlennais. The interview took place, and Rio alone was admitted as an eyewitness, on account of his command of the German language. The incident is so curious and so utterly unknown that we cannot do better than borrow his own narrative:
Schelling's ideas had taken a different course from what they were formerly, and I was suficiently acquainted with that difference not to despair of seeing him take a decisive step in his new direction. His recent lessons on the philosophy of revelation, and the deep impression they had made even beyond the precincts of the University, were considered by many of his colleagues as a sign of the times, or as the symptoms of a reaction, the need of which became daily more apparent, in consequence of the anarchy that prevailed on metaphysical matters in the minds of men. Once upon this track, Schelling had made, or at least appeared to have made, enormous conressions not only to Christianity as it is understood by Protestant theologians, but even to Catholicism, with all its traditional organism ; and he had gone so far as to regret that the unity of doctrine to which it owes its whole strength might not be transplanted, though with certain restrictions, on the ground of philosophical science.
Evidently such was the undercurrent of his thoughts, as was shown by the long and curious conversation at which I had the happiness to attend. But instead of seeking in faith for a remedy to the evil under which our intellect was labouring, he sought for it in science itself, or rather among those whose genius made them worthy, as it were, of being its high priests ; and it was easy to perceive, notwithstanding his reticences, that he would readily have awarded the dignity to himself.
As the interview in question took place but a few days after La Mennais' arrival in Munich, there was no time for ascertaining the precise points of the German's novel doctrine ; great, therefore, was the surprise of the two Frenchmen when they heard him set forth an ingenious theory of three churches, among which he distributed the whole human race and the work of redemption. To St. Peter the patronage of Catholicity,-somewhat too much entrammelled, said he, in Jewish ceremonies; to St. Paul, the patronage of Protestantism with all its Hellenic affinities; and last, not least, St. John was to govern the great Church, over which the three apostles were to preside, as being a sort of grand Christian Pantheon.
Such was the solution proposed by Schelling, in the name of German science, the only science, in his eyes, bearing a character of universality. Those alone who have known La Mennais can figure to themselves his attitude on hearing this truly amazing exposition. We think we can even now see that thin pallid face, where thought had furrowed many a wrinkle, the eyebrows knit together so deeply that they literally concealed those grey eyes of his, from whence ever and anon flashed fire ; whilst, under any strong impulse, his thin, yet expressive lips, were curved by a grim smile.
Such must have been La Monnais' lycaring, though M. Rio does not say it in so many words. There was no standing for him on this loose ground, so lie chose his own. As a thorough, carent, iron reasoner, we might say, La Mennais had not his match, though he was a superficial mctaphysician. For more than a full Hour hic kept his two auditors spellbound, and wondering at the ease with which he tore to shreds the whole system. It is but fair to adı, that Schelling himself did not belie his own genius, since he extorted the almiration of the younger Breton by the elevation of his views, and his splendid powers as a metaphysician. “When ve parted,” says M. Rio, “I could almost have regretted the sympathy lie bad cxcited within me; but this only made me the prouder of the victory gained by my countryman over the greatest yenins of Germany. What a pity that hundreds --nay, thousands ---of auditors were not there to transmit elsewhere the impression which such a spectacle must needs have made on them.”
But how would he be able to preserve the chain of thought and expressions of the above conversation ? Rio's first idea was to prompt M. de la Mennais himself to write down the details under the excitement of the hour, but the latter refused to do so from a feeling of delicacy. At last, yielding to the repeated prayers of his young friend, he drew np the following précis of the discussion ; on condition, however, that it should never be made known until after the death of both antagonists. The document will appear of still greater interest if we remember that a few months after its writer became an apostate :
“We were both of opinion that one peculiar feature of the period in which we are now entering would be the spiritual freedom of peoples ; or, according to La Mennais, that conscience and intellect would cease to be, in any degree, dependent on any purely human power.
“Schelling, going still further, maintained that, in his opinion, the abore independence would extend to the Church itself; so that, though every man would depend on his reason alone for his belief, nevertheless a universal belief would arise, founded upon an irresistible conviction, itself based upon the development of science, and destined to supersede faith. That science will be absolutely adequate to its own ends ; it will bring back mankind to unity, because, on the one hand, it will rest on certain primitive facts; and, on the other, on a method hitherto unknown to the world, by the help of which it will be possible to deduce progressively and rigorously from those primitive facts the whole body of Christianity, or, in other words, all the laws of humanity.
“ The discussion starting from the above premisses, La Mennais observed :
“(1.) That those primitive facts upon which science was to operate, and without which science could not even exist, are dogmatical quite as well as historical. So they themselves must be believed at the very outset, and believed as absolutely certain ; so, again, science is not self-supported, is not adequate to her own ends, and she must needs fall back on a pre-existing faith of a nature totally different from our usual scientific convictions. (2.) The scientific development of this pre-existing faith, even supposing it to be possible in the sense attached to it by Schelling, could never exist but among a small number of men, whilst the great mass of mankind must erer remain totally strangers to it.
“To this Schelling agreed, adding even that the great multitude of human beings would continue to be led by authority, and to believe without discussion in the doctrine of those who should found their convictions on the scientific method.
“On this La Mennais remarked that, according to the above opinion, the Catholic principle was allowed to be indispensable for the great body of mankind, and those alone were freed from it who, in the language of the Catholic Church, are called the teaching body, as being entrusted, through teaching, with the care of forming the faith of others. To this Schelling likewise assented.
“But, subjoined La Mennais, what degree of certainty shall we have of the results obtained through science? If you say that reason in affirming
them cannot err, you make the reason of each man more infallible than the Church itself, which only pretends to a traditional infallibility ; you make reazon as infallible as God himself. If, on the contrary, reason is fallible, every truth without exception, every law of humanity, becomes doubtful.
“ Schelling by no means attributed such an infallibility to reason; and, relatively to the sccond part of the dilemma, on its liability to error, and, consequently, to contradictory convictions entertained by the holders of scientific beliefs, he maintained that community of opinion and unity would exist in the method alone, not in its various applications.
“ This was no solution of the difficulty, it was an admission of it, it was declaring it insoluble. Schelling felt it, and appeared to concede :
“ (1.) That there does exist a certain order of primeval truths, totally independent of science, and forming its very foundation.
“ (2.) That those facts, besides the historical events recorded among the annals of Christianity, contain the doymas and precepts, in one word, every matter of belief in the Church, and proposed by her as such.
“(3.) That those primeval facts, thus defined, subsist by their own virtue ; science cannot produce thein no more than she can weaken them.
" (4.) That every scientific result, contradicting those facts, must needs ba acknowledged as false, and as such rajectel. To this Schelling formally assented.
“ F. DE LA MENTAIS.”
Such is the synopsis of this debate held in 1832 between two of the most powerful thinkers of our times, such the line of argument which called La Mennais to bring his antagonist to bay. The under-current of liis mind was yet on the whole Catholic, as is easy to perceive ; but shortly after, in the midst of his ovations and the rejoicings of his new Bavarian friends, he was informed that Rome had condemnnel his views. From that day he was an altered man; wounded pride got the upper hand in his soul, and to what a miserable end came the apostate priest all the world knows. Suffice it to say, that in the course of a few more months Rio and La Memais parted, never to see each other again. What link could now bring them together? And perhaps, after all, the
? younger of these two Bretons was the only one who preserved those solemn and doleful remembrances of the past.
During four successive residences at Munich, and three others in Italy, our author had found out that the study of Christian art was something far more extensive than he had at first imagined. “The character of grandeur,” says he, “ almost overpowering for faculties like mine, at least in such a direction, actel as a discouraging cause, not only on account of so many new ideas it gave rise to, but also on account of the new ground on which I must needs take my stand. Since Schelling, now a member of the Munich Academy of Science, had enthroned, as it were, within its walls the science of Æsthetics hy his famous specch on the relation of the fine arts to mature, not only had the Beautiful taken the lead of all other sciences, but it had made tributaries of all the different branches of literature, and the notion of Ideal was quite as familiar to moralists is to poets and philosophers. "In order to obtain a full appreciation of this admirable movement,” adds a French critic, it would be necessary to read Goethe's letters on Italy, Tieck's novels, and, above all, Jean Paul Richter, of whom we may say with truth that during his long life he was an apostle and ardent missionary of the Ideal, inaugurated by Schelling in his system of transcendental philosophy. Jean Paul Richter sought for his inspirations in religious traditions, and in his eyes Christianity had acted as a sort of Last Judgment, dooming to death the old World of Heathenism and sense, to make way for the spiritual world.
Thus, all around the master mind of Schelling there was a host of minor, yet ardent, spirits, intent upon vulgarizing, as the French put it, the new doctrines. Their names were Haman, Claudius, Jacobi, Shenkendorf, Stolberg, and many others.
Schelling was doubtless the grand discoverer in this region, and yet if we are to judge from M. Rio's personal experience, it was by no means easy to follow in his wake. The Germans scem over-fond of an archaic terminology which they create for themselves, mindless of all the world besides, as if obscurity were depth, or clearness and precision were real faults in a writer. At any rate, our author found it necessary to get his master's lofty adumbrations translated into common mortal language, and probably they lost nothing by the translation. Indeed, it was only at a later period that M. Rio was certain of really understanding the philosopher's transcendental idealism ; but we must refer the reader to his pages for a summary of the system.
After all, if we were to give our own opinion on the subject, we should say that there was an innate, and perhaps unconscious, tendency to pantheism in Schelling's idea of æsthetics, as will always be the case, whatever may be their genius, with those who rear their cdifice on science alone. We therefore doubt greatly whether the author of “Christian Art ” would have profited much by the lessons of his German masters. Fortunately for him and for ourselves, he had other resources of a more practical kind at his command; first, in the Italian researches (“ Italianische-Forschungen”) of Baron von Rumohr; secondly, in his own researches among the galleries and historical depositories of Italy; and thirdly, in his constant intercourse with the most eminent men of France and England. The German work was the production of a wealthy Danish noileman, who devoted a considerable part of his life and fortune to the study of Italian art, ever tracing it back to its true source of inspiration-pure relig'on, ever repudiating the