The Social Effects of Protestantism
Brownson's Quarterly Review, April, 1848
ART. V. — Le Protestantisme compare au Catholicisme dans ses Rapports avec la Civilization Europcenne. Par M. L'ABBE JACQUES BALMES. Paris: Debecourt. 1842 -44. 3 tomes. Svo.
WE have not placed this work, by the erudite and eloquent Balmes, at the head of our article for the purpose precisely of reviewing its diversified contents and dwelling on its many peculiar merits and attractions. Adapted in a special manner, from the subject of which it treats, to meet the wants, and by its style and composition to suit the taste, of the present day, we should, indeed, be happy to draw from its varied pages, and prepare for the delight and useful entertainment of our readers, some of those striking views and deep thoughts, rapidly unfolded reasonings and brilliant passages, with which it everywhere abounds ; but we can, for the present, only throw together some thoughts suggested by its first hasty perusal, and add, in the spirit, though not with the polished pen, of the author, a few facts and reflections concerning the practical results of Protestantism on the well-being of the lower classes of society ; — not with any the less poignant grief for the misfortunes of our fellow-beings, because these results lead us to appreciate all the more feelingly the unmixed benefits which have ever flowed from Catholicity, over the humbler as well as upon the higher walks of life. A very incomplete sketch is all that we pretend to draw ; nevertheless, those who follow us, while we trace the bare outlines of one of the many subjects designed by Balmes's master hand, may obtain some faint idea of his general plan, and occasionally, perhaps, catch a glimpse of the enlarged and complete portraiture of his volumes. The work, itself will prove eminently useful, and serve as an ever-ready prompter of new views, to those who may desire to carry out through other departments the comparative study of the social features of Protestantism ; it contains much, also, untouched by us, which will render broader and deeper the contrast between the blessed influence of the unreformed Church of God upon the lowliest of the faithful, and the unblest consequences entailed upon its followers by that sorrowful delusion styled the Reformation.
The Reformation began by holding out to Christendom flattering prospects and promises of a new order of things, such as would, upon the realization of its designs, present to the world a social Utopia. Full time and ample opportunities have been enjoyed for a fair trial of the experiment. The Protestant world may now be presumed to have some evidences to show that it has not all along relied on false promises. Some instalment of the good fortune to be conferred and entailed upon mankind should now be forthcoming. Or if the space of three hundred years is not really allowance enough for working out into effect designs so surpassingly beneficial to society, when accomplished, may not the present generation be permitted, without too much presumption or irreverence, to look around for some tokens of assurance that the pledge given long ago is about to be redeemed, and that its rich portion will not the less surely come one day, for having been so long deferred ? Some faint streaks of gray dawn along the horizon might tell, that, though " long-expected morn delays," still the night is not to last for ever.
The comparative study of the social well-being of the people, which in the religion of Him whose kingdom is not of this world can be only of secondary importance, rises in the face of Protestantism, in consequence of its having held out these prospects and promises, into a matter of even fearful magnitude, and grows into a question of the absolute truth or falsehood of the Reformation. On man's temporal and temporary prosperity hangs an issue of no less than vital consequence to the system of amended religion. Upon this ground the reforming scheme was started ; — first with an eye to the things of Ca?sar, and then to the things of God. The Catholic order reformed or reversed is to " seek " the " adjicien-da" or temporalities, and hope and confide in Providence that "the kingdom of God and his justice " will be " added thereto," as circumstances and occasion require. In accordance with this idea, the Reformers seized a favorable opportunity of calling the attention of men to their social footing, — with which they were easily made discontented, — and then requested them to look to the groundwork of their faith, upon which, they were told, every thing to be complained of depended. If this dependence or connection be disproved by the existence of equally bad effects after the assumed cause—the faith — has been reformed, — the Reformation is proved to be grounded on a falsehood. " An imposition on the Christian family " is its real title and character, if the religious change be accompanied by not only equally bad, but worse and more deplorable effects. This was not foreseen or dreaded in the outset, and the course then pursued was one which steadily tended to make men consider religion more closely in its relations to the happiness of this world than that of the other. The determination was to reform Christianity into a satisfactory and comfortable way of living here, rather than to furnish Christians with any new or surer means of attaining to life hereafter. The reformed creed was of course thus strengthened in the mind, with all the convincing force, and its belief was sunk deeply in the heart by all the weight, of earthly considerations. Protestantism may be supposed to have obtained its view of Christianity and " sighted " religion reformed, not while patiently bearing the cross up the road that leads heavenward, but while wandering, " on pleasure bent," down the pathways that wind round the social conveniences and branch out variously into the temporal affairs of men. The promises held out by the Reformers to those whom they sought to gain over, and the measures they adopted to render their movement popular and acceptable, all look in this direction. A practice was found fault with and abolished ; and then the doctrine which upheld it was rejected. Whatever appealed more directly to those usages, ways of life, and restraints which go far towards making up the outward burden of a people's religious and civil duties, was seized upon with a helping hand and accommodated dexterously to the uneasy shoulder, by being lightened of its weightiest articles; the doctrines connected therewith—in the manner, you might say, of network or lacing —narrowing and shortening themselves conveniently to suit the change.
This line of proceeding — whether adopted blindly or with foresight of its consequences, it matters not to the people — was well calculated to bring about in their incautious and deluded minds a conformity to the doctrinal opinions of those pleasant friends of humanity, who seemed, meanwhile, solely intent on changing the condition and altering the mode of life and manners of society. Their whole course of operations seemed to say to the people, Every thing good, comfortable, nice, and respectable will be yours, only the old religion must first be reformed. In confirmation of this, it may be generally observed, through the whole history of the Protestant sects, that they act perfectly in character against the Church ; drawing invariably their best materials for a plea against her doctrines from the situation and conduct of individuals, or the outward condition of communities. There appear, indeed, to be no other desires in their warm hearts, and no further thoughts in their enlightened minds, than such as would fain enable man to compass and " gain the whole world,"—•without ever pretending to any special mission concerning the quid prodest, or " what shall it profit a man," of the Gospel. The intentions and designs of the Reformation movement, the objects first aimed at, and last to be obtained by all possible means, may also be pretty safely deduced from the eulogies of Protestantism upon itself. It would really seem to follow, from the tone of all these exultations, that if the secular enlightenment, social well-being, and prosperity of the people in this world have not been consulted by the Reformation in a distinguished manner and to an eminent degree, there is little else left on which Protestantism would deign to be congratulated. Does it not seem everywhere tacitly conceded, through this business of innovation and improvement, that in the matter of fitting people for the world to come, by penance and mortification, by constant discipline and searching austerity, by voluntary and vowed self-denial and detachment from this world, the old Church answered full well enough, and needed no reformation or improvement ?
But then, it is said, Christendom was in so unsocial and unelevated a condition after the Dark Ages ! The dignity of the race, the self-respect and independence of the people, the free impulses of the human mind, and the unbounded right of every man to self-management and free choice in all things, were surrounded by so many restraints and restrictions, all obstinately looking to some mode of existence not precisely like this worldly life, that a fundamental change was demanded by the social position of Christendom. There seemed clearly implied in the ideas according to which the Church directed human affairs a dread, or a vague suspicion, about the soul-saving effect of trusting man fully to himself and to his own ideas of social comfort in the advancing position of nations from barbarism towards refinement. And what heart, beginning to be hopefully elated with the advance already effected, could bear with this diffidence and cautiousness ? Of that worldly-wise eagerness and ambition requisite to lead on the nations rapidly and by the shortest path to the eminence — now appearing almost in view and easily attainable — of human perfectibility in a social golden age, the Church seemed to possess little or nothing. Her " Ages of Faith" — really Dark Ages in the progressionist's view — had strangely confirmed her in a habit, natural enough in her " Ages of Persecution," of devoting, now even more fearfully than then, the larger share of her time and efforts to the spiritual man, only looking after his physical well-being, which was bettering itself fast enough, as after a relative and secondary concern ; and who was there, tasting the first fruits of her hard-earned civilization, that languished not to see her course liberalized and reformed ? Every thing in the moderate and measured proceedings of the Church towards the people betrayed her strong and almost offensive recollection of the stern barbarism and sensual grossness of those nations, which it had cost her much prudent toil, it is true, to bring gradually to the point which now had been reached. But was not every one, who had conceived high ideas of what could and might be done from the elevation to which the Church had now led him, panting for some less tame leadership ? Fifteen ages of every variety of texture had unrolled themselves before the Church, and received, together with the unfading sign of faith, such outward finish as their materials would bear. Should the sixteenth century, rich with all the accumulated treasures and wisdom of the past, suffer the slow progress and course of events to continue still to be regulated by that moderator and sanctifier of past ages ? Should it not rather, on the contrary, subject the Church to the impress of the present and succeeding ages of light ? After hundreds of years of obstinately sustained labor and toil and struggle to accomplish her business with mankind, through unnumbered difficulties created by worldliness and irreligion, and through intricate cases suggested by the flesh against the welfare of the soul, — none of which would oppose her again in more enlightened times ! — some prospect of a long respite from such complicated cases dawns at last. Will not the Church now bend unreservedly to the work of man's happiness in this world, and provide fearlessly for his social elevation and enlightenment, in accordance with his opinions and desires ? Amid the peace and prosperity into which, in spite, it may be, of all his own resistance and endeavours, she has now introduced the Christian, can she not even for a moment relax from that all-engrossing concern about his future life ? The light and splendor, gathering under her guidance through many centuries, is now freed from the last passing cloud, and streams from the sixteenth far down through bright vistas opening into succeeding ages, and still, " What doth it profit a man ?" is the calm expostulation of the Church with the admirers of the brightness in which she moves ! But ardent and exalted imaginations are overpowered by the sight of so much profit to be realized for men in their social interests and relations. An earthly paradise blooms out before their eyes ; Reformation beckons them on ; man, they are sure, may now dare trust to himself in this broad daylight, — now think and act for himself, and make his way into the social Eden that opens before him ; and they step out of the ranks, leap all circumvallations, pass every outpost, and bear onwards their own banner rapidly and precipitately down the illumined way, and far into regions of progress and improvement not yet filled with light. Religion was made for man, they now reflect;—should not, then, Christianity, under which civilization has gradually advanced thus far, tend to still higher civilization at once, leave the tardy to their unearthly thoughts, and join the explorers also, and outstrip the Church,—the Church, that still delays, endeavouring to make all things, whether they advance or whether they recede, conform as of old to the views of her mission, and abide by her unchanging standard and fixed ideas ?
Thus felt and reasoned the proud and the disaffected in the beginning of the sixteenth century. The Church had in her civilizing labors done so much for social well-being, that they had come to regard social well-being as the supreme good; she had carried society forward so far, that they felt its absolute perfection might be easily and speedily realized, if she would only turn her attention solely to that end. But as she would not hearken to their advice, deviate from the course she had marked out from the beginning, or hasten her steps according to their wishes, they resolved on her reformation, and, instead of submitting themselves to her direction and control, to subject her to theirs. The Reformation they resolved on they made. It has now gone through three centuries in search of a social Utopia, — with what success let Christendom in the nineteenth century answer.
But it is important, in seeking this answer, that we bear in mind the different positions which the Church and the Reformation respectively occupy with regard to social matters and the people. As the Church still perseveres in maintaining that these things have only a relative and secondary importance, she will not of course be very loud in her claims upon society for whatever very acceptable consequences may have followed her constant pursuit of the one tiling necessary. When her faithful members are hated by the world, or find its prosperity a snare, or suffer persecution for her sake, she not only reminds them that true prophecies are sure to be fulfilled under every system of social progress, but that the beatitudes from the same source are as truthful as any philanthropic axiom. Utilitarian piety it cannot be her object, since it is by no means her interest, to encourage. A sadly deficient means would it prove of securing in all ages and nations unity and universality of belief, to insist upon its close connection with worldly success, comfort, and prosperity, — ever and everywhere, in fact, the most variable and least general of all human conditions. Besides, tastes vary so much among men, ages, and nations, even on this point, that, were such an argument for embracing and holding her faith insisted upon, " the history of the variations of social views, as well as social movements, among Christians," would then furnish the best memoirs for Church history ; whereas the Church now principally traces by these the annals of what is called religion outside of her pale. There is no likelihood, then, it would seem, that the Church will be too forward in claiming great merit for the good things of this world which she may have given to the nineteenth century.
The Reformation, on the other hand, it may be expected, will, consistently enough, seek to hold up prominently before the world, as the fulfilment of the Reformers' promises, and as the proof of their truthfulness and success, the largest possible amount of good realized in this world through the blessed Reformation. As the very unsatisfactory and deranged state of society from which it had its origin founded the character of its mission, moulded its essential features, and shaped its course, how can it be otherwise than unfailing in attention to its great merits and various achievements for society ? To rehearse or point out in the Church those faults, defects, and failures in every thing concerning social happiness which first called forth and still employ this beneficial agency, must consequently claim an equal share of attention. We should also consider that Protestantism must of necessity, not only indulge occasionally, but be continually steeped, in self-applause, or else die by stopping the breath which from the first animated it. For the very name and conception of a reformer must carry with them pretensions to singular excellences and marked superiority. A system which thus writes its own name must
be sure of its own capabilities, if real, or, if successfully deceptive, live on self-delusion. Together with a high idea of its own accomplishments and qualifications, the Reformation must be moved with great pity, if not contempt, for the object that stands in need of its zealous labors. The more it considers itself in this contrast, the more it must be encouraged to think well of itself. The lower the Church that needed to be amended is sunk in the eyes of mankind, the higher must be the key in which the Reformers are extolled for their undertaking ; so that the meed of praise awarded to Protestantism is commensurate with the obloquy cast upon the Church, and all sectarian greatness finally resolves itself, through this analytical process, into a successful diffusion of the belief of the very great evils, of a social and secular bearing, with which Christendom was oppressed previously to the dawn of the Reformation. All the good there is in the present state of society mnst, therefore, be considered by the Reformation as its own production. To waive this, or allow it to be disputed, would have fatal consequences. For, if such evils as are assumed to have existed are discovered to have had only an imaginary existence, Protestantism can be only an imaginary reformation. If the social degree, which was thought by the Reformation to be so low as to disgrace Christianity, was really so high that nothing on earth could then have reached it save a divinely guided institution, to reform means, first, to defame the success of God's work among men, and then to pretend to better success. If greater evils have arisen, and are daily springing into being, since the Reformation, than were ever discerned before, Protestantism appears as one of those delusions that delude only to deform. Not leaving well alone is generally attended with bad consequences ; and the Reformation will be found to have been the destroyer of much that was very well, and the author of as much more that is very evil.
But circumstances, artfully taken advantage of, tend to screen every failure of the Reformation beneath benefits still accruing to society from the very state of things so much calumniated at the time of its rise. And, fortunate at least in this, Protestantism manages, through all its failures, to obtain from the Catholic influences it could not entirely destroy some specious appearance of success, by pretending to be connected, as their efficient cause, with all those social advantages which are only parallel with it in time. Nothing is more convenient for reformers than to declare that they have produced all the good in the midst of which they live, and to maintain that every thing worth mentioning, which has happened since the reformation, is really due to the reformation itself, —post hoc, ergo propter hoc. This is the sophistry, which, when prepared to suit party or sectarian prejudices, looks like argument in the Protestant declaimer's favor, but which, when plainly stated, is perfectly ridiculous and absurd. Suppose, for instance, that the accident of the Reformation had never happened, you will be told, that then, from the sixteenth century to the nineteenth, the sun would never have once risen or set, and that the men of 1516 would, perhaps, long before 1848, have been completely transformed into a generation of fools. Truly ! But the colleges and the universities in which even the Reformers themselves were taught in their boyhood all they knew, — the golden age of literature, which had already so far advanced,— printing, which had already been invented, — America, which had already been discovered, — poetry, painting, sculpture, which had already attained a perfection not yet surpassed,— Christendom already begemmed all over with those time-honored and unrivalled cathedrals, hospitals, and city-like asylums for the afflicted, — the wisdom, the legislation, and military achievements of so many long-renowned nations, — chivalry, learning, benevolence, already organized for hundreds of years, in innumerable bodies spread over the whole Christian world, and counting by crowds and enlisting by thousands the noble, the ardent, and the gifted in their cause, — not to mention, hors dc propos, in the presence of Reformers, holiness and its connections,— what would these not have grown into, in the course of the last three centuries, if the cause which produced them had remained in all its force and activity ? No matter, is the reply ; if the Reformation had not taken place just then, some other catastrophe would have swallowed them all up at. once. So the Reformation must receive the thanks of all Christendom for all modern civilization and enlightenment, arts and sciences, inventions, improvements, intellects, and all !
This species of sophistry, gravely carried out, under various forms, leads many who are deluded by it to place to the credit of the Reformation, not the good it has hindered, but the good which it fortunately could not hinder, and which exists in spite of it, and is really due to Catholicity alone. For it is no sophistry to say, that the cause that alone had given so much real good to the world has been the best and only preserver of its own works, and that the Church, if not interfered with, would successfully have continued what it had always sufficiently performed. Moreover, if conjectures well founded on analogy can ever be allowed, we may venture to say, casting our eyes now over the once Catholic, happy, and civilized Africa and Western and Central Asia, that, had reformation after reformation been as fortunate in expelling the influence of the Church from the European as from the Mohammedan world, the heresiarchs of the sixteenth century would have been men as uncultivated as they became irreligious, and the history of our nineteenth century—had it then found an historian with a pen—■ would have been written in some unchristian and uncivilized language, which is not, thanks be to the Church of God ! our mother tongue. Still, it is not uncommon to hear the improvements and advancement effected in various departments in latter times, and occurrences which, in the necessary course of the world, could not have been expected at an earlier period, but which the course of three hundred years would have brought round at any rate, — though, in all likelihood, without any cost to humanity, if the Reformation had not come along with them,'—'all boldly and unblush-ingly attributed to that same Reformation, a phenomenon which had no greater connection with such progress than its having been permitted by Providence to appear and go on just at this period of time, lest mankind might have become too happy in this world, and have felt less disposed to look on it in its Christian light, as only a place of trial and probation.
The real worth of Catholicity and Catholic influences, as proved by experience to be the most efficient elements of civilization, can, in fact, be despised or denied by no Christian of the present day, who does not owe to the very nest he would fain soil every feather of his own boasted plumage, be whatever it may the attire of knowledge, civilization, or Christianity in which he struts through the world. For the study of the last three hundred years, after an ordinary acquaintance with the fifteen preceding centuries, must convince any impartial mind, that whatever there is really valuable and beneficial to mankind in what we now possess, beyond what was possessed at the opening of the sixteenth century, is nothing but the growth of the seeds then long sown and cultivated, and can in no sense be said to be the fruit of the Reformation. The impartial student will be inclined, on the contrary, to maintain that the true fruits of Protestantism are not that portion of the promising and duly expected harvest which has hung, through sunshine and storm, and ripened on some of the boughs, but whatever has been rudely shaken off in unripeness from as many other branches of the tree of Catholic civilization, which was flourishing in such luxuriant richness and with such goodly promise before the Reformation storm arose. Of a continually augmenting caravan of precious things, some rich remnants have reached us ; but what would have been our store, had no despoiler waylaid or intercepted its course ! Follow the march of united Christendom through one thousand five hundred years of overpowering brilliancy of success, — look at its unshrinking contests with every enemy, and its triumphs over Gnostic sensualist and Platonic refiner, Manichausm in its Eastern originality and its Western diluted form of a hundred heresies, —over the Jewish slaveholder of white Christians and the Moorish invaders of Christendom,—over Mohammedanism, and over the Goths, with their predecessors and followers from every rugged clime, — and then fix. your eyes and heart on its accumulated trophies and treasures, on its still unbroken front and godlike array, as it stands glittering on the bordei's of the sixteenth century, on its way to us, and conceive you never possibly can how this nineteenth century is only what it is, without allowing the Reformation to have possessed a superhuman power for evil. From what eminence, into what depth, has not the illustrious brotherhood of civilized men, separated by the evil genius of reformation, been sunk and plunged ! The wisdom of fifteen generations flung to the winds, the social experience and social erudition, the science and art of benevolence, tried and approved for a millennium and a half, despised and unlearned, and the world now presenting the deplorable spectacles everywhere beheld !
And sad, nay, heart-rending, indeed, is the present condition, the social condition, of the Protestant world. Raise the veil which an artificial civilization hangs over the face of society, fix your attention on those who form the bulk of every community, the laboring classes, the working population, — in the unchristian language of the day styled " the masses," as if they were only huge blocks of brute matter, — and what is it you behold ? Is it the social Utopia, the earthly Eden, promised, to gain which was ihe real end and aim of the Reformation ? Alas, no ! You discover that pauperism, with its concomitant evils, during these Reformation times, has taken such gigantic strides as to have outstripped all calculation, and more than
fulfilled the worst predictions. The noblest hearts of the present generation are saddened, and the wisest heads are puzzled, at the sight. Governments, political economists, associations, and philanthropic schemes of every kind, struggle with ardor, but almost without hope, against the headlong course of this torrent, which is loosing the very foundation-stones of the social edifice, and threatening to submerge — unhappily, not alone — every vestige and remnant of Protestantism in the flood of evils which the Reformation let loose upon itself and the world. " JYIala res, spes multo pejor."
If we had no other evidence, the number and variety of plans and schemes for bettering the condition of the great mass of society would suffice to prove most abundantly, in a matter-of-fact and utilitarian age like ours, that the necessity which calls them into being must be great in the extreme ; while the invariable abandonment of the most promising systems, after a short trial, and the constant search for better plans and more efficient schemes, prove with equal clearness, that, as yet, no means that can be called availing or encouragingly effectual have been found or devised. We every day read or hear of new theories for social reform, and improved systems for ameliorating the condition of the indigent and for the elevation of the lower classes of the people. Every day brings forth some amended legislative enactment on the subjects of education and of the poor, and old, rejected reports are superseded by new committees of inquiry on these matters. We have, in an interminable succession from all quarters, poor-laws, poor-rates, school-rates, factory-bills, relief-bills, plans, theories, and proposals amended and altered, and then amended again, put in operation for a time, found ineffectual, and then rejected, to give place to another plan, theory, system, enactment, or reform,— the afflictions of suffering humanity still continuing, meanwhile, in full force, neither amended, rejected, nor relieved, but increasing. Owenism and Fourierism, and every species of philanthropism, are now tried by amateurs in benevolence, as similar experiments, not long ago, were essayed by amateurs in faith and religious reform, from Luther's ism even down to Parker's ism; and we now have any number of sects of the philanthropic species-, bickering and debating about reformations in workhouse systems, almshouses, and pauper laws, and about new-found means of training and cultivating the never properly understood human being, from college and university bills down to reports about schools of industry, farm-schools and industrial schools, infant schools and ragged schools. In one thing only all seem agreed, — that there exist, even in the so-called most enlightened and liberal nations, an immense amount of ignorance, vagrancy, and abandonment of the young, the most appalling destitution and misery among a large portion of the working classes, as well of the peasantry in the country as of paupers in cities and towns and counties, and a rapidly increasing mortality amongst all these classes, and consequently new maladies spreading amongst all other classes, — and, to heighten the whole, that there is a horrid and pestilential demoralization and immorality in the masses, as they style them, and a most frightful abundance and increase of crime.
This fearful state of things, all agree, cannot be attributed to any present and temporary cause, since it could not have suddenly reached such a pitch, but must have been going on, though less observed, for a great length of time, until at last its wide-spread extent and aggravated nature have revealed its horrors to the most inattentive and alarmed governments as well as individuals. Of more than one nation may be said truly what the Edinburgh Review for July, 1847, says, — " that the destiny and very existence of the nation depend on the satisfactory adjustment of these great questions" ; or that, if these great objects are left unatlained, it will become one of the many nations of whom it is sadly said, —" They were a great people in their day." All agree, that the onward course and increase of the evil are rapid and portentous, and by this admit that as yet no remedy, or even palliative, has been found or effectually applied, — nothing to arrest or direct its course, — since all the systems and theories, plans and reforms, of single individuals, organized bodies, or legislatures and governments, have proved thus far unavailing ; and the daily call is still for more efficient systems, better plans, and newly reformed reforms.
This is the unavoidable conclusion that is forced upon us by all we see and hear and read of, — from the most authentic records and reports of human suffering and crime, and from the official accounts given of their own achievements by social reformers, political economists, and philanthropists, whether in fashionable saloons or private studios, in sectarian Bible-Society rooms or government cabinets, Every number of every English review we meet with confirms every part of this statement. The evil has long been going on and accumulating, — therefore we must say it arises from no present calamity or pressure. It is wide-spread, and therefore must own some very common and general origin. It exists and has been in existence under various forms of government, particularly the liberal and enlightened, — therefore you cannot attribute it to imperfect political organization. It cannot owe its origin to want of liberty, since it thrives and grows most rapidly in this the reign of freedom and liberty ; — want of mercantile or manufacturing progress cannot have engendered it, as these now go on literally by steam, and commerce has nowadays its prince-merchants, and the intercourse of trade has opened colonies and markets in every part of the habitable and almost uninhabitable globe;—• want of knowledge and science and advancement in the age cannot have produced it, for these are by no means " the Dark Ages." No ; this age, in which the misery and abasement of man have reached their lowest depths, is the age which by progress, science, improvements, and inventions has out-topped all past ages.
Where, then, can we find the origin and cause of this distressing state of things, so independent of man's advancement in the arts and sciences, in inventions and in politics, in trade and in commerce, as to go on ever increasing side by side with the increase of all these things ? What cause can it be that follows all these from mother country to colony, and has been so long working onwards, in spite of all the philanthropy and liberality of the last two or three centuries, that now, in the meridian height of the enlightenment of the nineteenth century, it has attained its very highest pitch ? It is certain that absolute ignorance of human nature, and want of knowledge of the human heart, must have presided at its cradle, and allowed it to grow up to this giantlike form ; for these alone can account for the inefficiency and uselessness of all the elaborate measures, immense means, and multiplied reforms now put into operation for its removal, hindrance, or relief. There has been, therefore, and there still is, in all this matter, a sad want of the light and direction of Him who knows and loves all that he has made, and who alone can beneficially govern, by his revelation, that human nature which he created, relieve and solace those human beings whom he has placed in this world, and the depths of whose heart he alone can search. But whence can have arisen this want ? Assuredly, there has been no suspension of the ordinary operations of Divine Providence in governing and ruling mankind. What Divine agency, then, has heen interfered wilh to produce and perpetuate this lamentable state of things ? There is, besides the ordinary providence of God, only one other Divine agency that we know of, and therefore it must be that ; namely, the agency and influence of his blessed extraordinary providence, which we name the true Church of God, and fondly style our Holy Mother. It is this which has been interfered with, — not with impunity. This interference, the cause of all our woes, has been called the reformation of the Church, and passes under the general name of Protestantism ! What, then, since the evil evidently flows from this interference, has suffering humanity to expect from Protestantism ? When, in a moment of passion and excitement, an evil deed is perpetrated, he who commits it may be blind to its awful guilt, and form no idea or have no foresight of its dire consequences ; yet, though unforeseen by him, and though slow and long in reaching their accomplishment, these consequences are still the fruits of his evil-doing, and can and must be traced back to him. Such is the case with the notorious heresiarch of the sixteenth century, and his associates. It matters not, then, whether they foresaw and intended it, or not. The fact is, their doings checked and threw back the onward vigorous career of Catholic civilization, and thus interrupted the successes of those beneficent institutions that for fifteen hundred years had procured, were then providentially procuring, and would of course have continued the longer the more effectually to procure, the welfare and the relief of the indigent, the helpless, the infirm,—indeed, of every class of suffering humanity that was or would be an object of the extraordinary dispensations of Providence. They destroyed by their doings, which they styled the work of reformation, myriads of such institutions, disbanded legions of those enlisted for the welfare of the poor and the safety of the world, killed the spirit that built the hospital and filled it with guardians, and never so much as thought of providing a substitute. They caused much of the time and means which God had destined to the glorious works of benevolence, during the last three hundred years, to be diverted to another purpose, by making it necessary, through their malice, to employ them in self-defence against innovators and their machinations, or in the protection of those of the faithful they were waylaying and striving to seduce from the faith.
In this they inflicted an injury, not only on themselves, but also on those who remained true to the Church ; though the sufferings of these have been light in comparison with those of their own deluded followers. By their so-called reformation they withdrew a portion of the Christian community from the Church, and have kept them for three centuries deprived of that hallowed influence and protection which alone, for fifteen hundred years, had succeeded, through every species of danger, difficulty, and trial, in saving, comforting, and relieving humanity. If, then, the consequences of these doings stand out so frightfully apparent in the present slate of the suffering portion of mankind, it is clear that we are not to expect that the hand which, under pretext of reformation, has inflicted the wounds, will heal them by another reform, and it must be conceded, that, after all the attempts of philanthropy, socialism, and governments, there is no hope but in unre-fonned things, in going back, in being restored to the provident and loving care of the Church of God. If suffering humanity has a ray of hope yet unextinguished, it comes from looking forward to this restoration. It indeed, faith is the vivifying principle, the soul, of the Christian body, if charity is inseparable from the life which that soul imparts, and if benevolent works show the warmth and activity of that life, it is not strange that true faith, real charity, and genuine works of Christian benevolence should all go off the scene together. So the body's activity ceases with its life, and life ends when the soul departs.
But why has not this doctrine, so plain and undoubted, been equally soon and strikingly apparent in the present matter ? The reason may be easily given. It is impossible to suppose that the impulse given by Catholicity in the direction of benevolence, though checked at once, should at once be entirely stopped by the loss of faith. It is natural that it should have gone on for a time, till, growing weaker and fainter, it should finally die away. A good habit acquired by an individual or community, though the means by which it was acquired and strengthened have ceased to operate, does not all at once cease to facilitate the performance of a good work. The recollections, the traditions of a people once Catholic, — even its monuments, though in ruins, —long preserve, un-effaced by innovation, some of the beneficial influences of the Catholic spirit. The wayward, disobedient, and rebellious boy, who has spurned parental authority, and gone to make, as he thinks, a better home for himself, will long, in spite of himself, feel the influence of the instruction and the care of the parent whom he has rejected, and of the happy homestead which he has lucklessly abandoned. If, then, among those who have rejected the faith effects like those produced by the principles of faith are still visible, they proceed, not from the error that has been embraced, nor yet from living faith, but from that rejected faith which still outlives its rejection, at least in some of the lessons it taught.
It is plain and evident, moreover, that no portion of mankind, though segregated from the direct influence of the Church, can escape the indirect influence of her Heaven-guided example and proceedings. Do you think that the sects, if by any possibility they could have got rid of this indirect influence of the Church in matters of doctrine, would have halted or limped long in carrying out at once their principles to the full conclusion they all reach in time ? No ; if Deism, Rationalism, and Transcendentalism did not bloom out fully the first season on every branch of the Protestant tree, it was only because the air and the soil around it retained still some of the effect of the long culture and watering of the Catholic Church. Even the boldest innovator had not courage enough to protest against and reform away all that the old Church taught and teaches ; because she is there still, unimpaired, beaming inside and outside with truth, and fulminating error ; and error gets out of the influence of truth only by growing bolder the farther it gets from it, and then getting farther from it the bolder it grows. Say the same of the moral and the same of the benevolent effects of faith, and their diminution and destruction. It is not surprising, then, that even after three hundred years there should be found out of the Church some traces of that Catholic agency which had been active and fruitful for the preceding fifteen hundred years. The light shed by the sun during some ten or twelve hours lingers on still even when it has set, until it gradually grows fainter and more dim through the decreasing twilight. If there be ever any good and congenial souls out of the Church, who, rare as diamonds, seem to have some glow of Catholic charity, they are indeed like gems in darkness issuing rays they have treasured from a sun long set.
Now it is not wonderful that much should be mistaken for a time as the effect of Protestantism, which was in reality only the effect of old Catholicity, which Protestantism could not yet efface. Hence the difficulty of seeing at once in practice, and as clearly as in principle, that as the body without the soul id dead, so indeed does Christian charity go down into the grave where faith has been buried by the Reformers. We say Christian charity, — for we do not pretend to say that the charity or benevolence that a pagan may have, and the world had before the Church came, natural kind-heartedness, may not exist still in those out of the Church. Philanthropy and Co. are its incorporation. But we do mean to say, that, among those who have left the faith and the Church, whatever there is besides this in individuals, whatever there is beyond the creation of this in institutions, is all due to the faith of the Church,— which leaves, even after her rejection, the sweet odor of benevolence where she once was, and copies of her great models, which can indeed be badly copied, but not originally conceived or designed by any but herself.
Should you now tell us that it follows from what we here say, that, if the influence of the Church once died out completely among them, and she took back all her own from those who reject her, the world separated from the Church would be in these matters much in the same state in which sl0 found the pagan world of antiquity, we would only answer, that to be without the Church before she came, and to be without the Church after rejecting her, is in both cases to be equally without the Church, and so far in the same state ; though to reject her implies more guilt, but not less misfortune, than never to have had her, and therefore may leave people, if not in precisely the same state, in one a little worse. There are, also, some people, nowadays, who seem to discover a strong tendency to the spirit of pagan times in the spirit of the age that is, and who contend that the knowledge or opinions, of evangelical truths retained by the sects would have profiled them little without the Church, or at least without her indirect influence and practical illustration of them. This view finds, undoubtedly, much in the present to confirm it. Indeed, the sects seem themselves to have some suspicion of its truth, and to believe that they find a defence of themselves, not in proving their superiority to pagans, but in proving that they have not fallen below them. Thus the late Robert Hall, the distinguished Baptist minister of Bristol, England, says in defence of Protestantism :— " Look at the sects and parties into which professed Christians are unhappily divided. Where is there one to be found which has innovated on the rules of heathen life, by substituting vice in the place of virtue ? " In general terms this is undoubtedly true, and we concede the praise it implies. We have never intended to represent the uncatholic world as worse than the pagan.
But if the view here taken be correct, and the Christian body expires with the departure of Christian faith, whence, you may ask, comes the system of public establishments, — poorly managed, indeed, — now, in one form or another, spread over the wholo civilized world ? Since, as is well known, there were no such establishments before the time of the Church, we can safely answer, that they would not exist now, were it not for Catholicity and her countless institutions, the embodiments of her charity. The embodiment may be imitated by those who are not Catholics, but the essence is to be found only in the Church. Before Christianity, — which being a fact is the Church, — there were, indeed, kind-hearted individuals, but society had nothing else for the suffering but words of compassion. Public beneficence was unknown, unless there may have been, as in an Eastern kingdom, such an exception as a hospital for old horses ! The founding of public establishments of benevolence never entered into the systems of administration of the nations of antiquity. "What has been done in the way of public charitable establishments by the government in Protestant countries certainly cannot be clue to Protestantism ; for it furnished nothing of the kind for a model. Indeed, wherever they have been founded, it has been, not by Protestantism, but in spite of it; for the world in founding them has had to go against the sect, and give up prejudice against the Church, at least so far as to imitate, as best it might, Catholic institutions, rebuild what the sect had destroyed, and thus far rehabilitate Catholicity in spite of heresy. Protestantism originate such establishments ! Why, the wonderful success and happy results of the Church's time-honored and countless monuments and means of charity were the very things which pointed out to Protestant governments the only likely way of making up in some measure for the horrid deficiency everywhere felt in the Protestant world, and which the Reformation had created by its rejection of Catholicity and its charitable foundations. The selfish nature of private opinion would never even have dreamed of such lovely things, if the benign and beautiful forms of benevolence everywhere called up by the inspirations of Catholic charity had not gleamed like a bright vision across her weary and slumbering eyelids. Such monuments no more belong to Protestant charity than the religious and Gothic architecture of
certain sectarian meeting-houses in this and other cities owes its origin to Protestant genius. Both the one and the other are but poor attempts at copying what always sprung, fresh, glowing, and spontaneous, from the fine mind and big heart of glorious old Mother Church, even in the so-called " Dark Ages," as well as in the earliest times.
But what, in fact, has been the success even of these institutions, borrowed along with much practical experience from the ancient Church, and now maintained and directed by reformed governments and Protestant associations ? We see what it has been, everywhere, in the present frightful condition -of the lower classes in all Protestant countries. Millions, appropriated to build and sustain every species of them, fail utterly to purchase what the prayers and faith of the Catholic Church have in all ages abundantly called forth without bribe or salary ; and the truth beams out to all eyes not wilfully closed, that it is not enough to build and furnish a hospital or poor-house, an asylum or a farm-school, and hire men and women to watch over them for a livelihood. More reliable means than can be secured by " cash payments " must be obtained, or institutions of public beneficence will only serve to aggravate the evils they are intended to cure. Take men and women of sound minds and expansive hearts, apprenticed from earliest youth to meekness and benignity ; school them in austerity and self-mastery, discipline their will and understanding by prayer and deep meditation, and fire them with the resolution to consecrate their whole being, to employ the whole course of their lives, and to devote their undivided energies to the cause of charity and deeds of benevolence ; give some of them hospitals for their homes, the sick and suffering for kindred and friends, to minister to those they love with the warmth of divine charity for their only thought and pleasure ; send others abroad to the abodes of the weak and the afflicted, the infirm and the destitute, and let them look forward to no happiness but such as is measured and fashioned by their present tenderness and kindly care ; give others still for their families the groups of poor children they gather around them, and allow them to spend their lifetime with no thought on earth but that of moulding those young hearts to goodness and true worth, —• of forming them for heaven; — do this, reformers, if you can, and you will have secured for humanity an amount of solace, succour, and relief which all your millions can never purchase through the agency of mercenary superintendents and overseers.
But until this be clone, look, for a proof of the value of un-catholic schemes, on the sad picture presented to the world by even the first of Protestant nations, that fortunate and enlightened empire, where Protestantism, seated on the throne, has reigned for these three hundred years supreme, established and seconded by the law of the land. And what, in fact, is the condition of the lower classes in Great Britain ? What has the establishment and the " united wisdom " of the nation, with all its "commissioners," "committees," and " boards," been able to effect to supply the loss of Catholic faith animating British charity in the good old times of " Merry England" ?*(footnote: " Without being intensely selfish, our countrymen, whether at home or abroad, as well as their sons or brethren of America, have the spirit of enterprise so strong in them, that they are but too apt to forget the claims of humanity and justice, nay, even the true welfare of their offspring, in the prosecution of it. This love of enterprise is at once a virtue and a vice of the Saxon race, the source of many of their most glorious achievements and of their worst crimes. There arc but too many Englishmen who, like Lot, seeing that the land is good, would be content to be settlers in Sodom and Gomorrah, provided that their capital would but return cent, per cent.; and thousands more who, in the present ecstasy of a profitable gain, are much of Vespasian's opinion, expressed in the words of the satirist, Lucri bonus est odor ex re qualibct." — Edinburgh Review, July, 1847.
We cannot admit that this is a characteristic of the Saxon race, for it was not so in old Catholic times, and that it is so now is clue only to the Reformation, and its enlightenment. The Reviewer would do well to meditate Sir John Denham's couplet in The Progress of Learning: —
" 'T is happy when our streams of knowledge flow To fill their banks, but not to overthrow.") Popular education was to have beatified the people ; but, unhappily, on the one hand, popular education — out of the Church — has not been found to be all that was expected, and on the other, no means have been found of obtaining its general diflusion, even such as it may be. The possession of the elements of secular knowledge is now admitted by many to be in itself an equivocal benefit, as no inference in its favor can be drawn from the prison statistics, which so elaborately set forth the numbers of those who can or cannot read and write.(footnote: Edinburgh Review, October, 1817.) A " most powerful and original thinker" confidently presumes that any man, who looks, in the right state of his senses, at the manner in which children are still brought up, after all reforms, in many parts of the land,—England, — will be convinced that parents are " bringing up their children a nuisance on the face of the earth,"*(footnote: .lulni Foster, On Popular Ignorance. | Mind and Matter, &c. London, 1847.) Many others seem to agree with Dr. Millingen, f that the education imparted to the masses will not " diminish the sum of human frailty." Popular education, if anywhere among the reformed, must assuredly in Scotland produce very salutary effects towards increasing the comfort, morality, and elevation of the lower classes. We look into the number for May, 1547, of the North British Revieio, printed in Edinburgh, and read : —
"Mr. Symonds, the Government Commissioner, thus describes the filth of our Scottish towns : — ' The wynds in Glasgow comprise a fluctuating population of from fifteen thousand to thirty thousand
persons Thieving and prostitution constitute the main sources
of the revenue of this population. No pains seem to be taken to purge this Augean pandemonium, this nucleus of crime, filth, and pestilence, existing in the second city of the empire. These wynds constitute the St. Giles of Glasgow ; but I owe an apology to the metropolitan pandemonium for the comparison. A very extensive inspection of the lowest districts of other places, both here and on the Continent, never presented any thing half so bad, cither in intensity of pestilence, physical and moral, or in extent, proportioned to the population.'
" Before a committee of the House of Commons, the same gentleman said, — ' It is my firm belief, that penury, dirt, and misery, drunkenness, disease, and crime, culminate in Glasgow to a pitch unparalleled in Great Britain.' "
What the pitch is there, we may soon see. Meanwhile, the Scottish Reviewer adds, from his own knowledge : —
" Much talk there has been, but nothing has yet been clone, either to stay or to abate the evil. The moral and physical virus is going on accumulating and concentrating in the poorer parts of all our Scottish towns, one day to burst forth in fearful retaliation upon the classes by whose sufferance and apathy these things are so. Not Ireland, but our own neglected towns, threaten one day to become the pest-houses of Great Britain."
Farther on we read : —
" A little while ago, the schoolmaster ahroad was to do every thing for the poor man. It was only needful to count the proportions at school, or enumerate the readers and writers and arithmeticians, to know the measure of the well-being of the people. But did we succeed in coaxing, bribing, or persecuting all the children in all the wynds, lanes, and closes of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, and Paisley to school, and in securing to them, to the full measure, the Scottish education of mere letters, or, if you will, of intellectual superiority to the boors of Norfolk, what would they be the better ? Man is not only what the schoolmaster makes him, but much more what the daily and hourly, the thousand nameless influences of the sights and sounds of his home and neighbourhood make him ; and to oppose only the schoolmaster, or even the schoolmaster and pastor [reformed], to the constant daily and hourly influences and training of dwellings and neighbourhoods, divested of all that can cheer or elevate human beings [true faith ?], is to oppose the force of a torrent by a few twigs! " " To Glasgow and to Edinburgh," further reports Mr. Symonds, "justly belongs the bad preeminence" — in physical degradation.
Let us now view the educational state of the agricultural districts of England. Take Norfolk county as a fair specimen.
"The county of Norfolk," says the North British Reuiew, as cited above, " is a rich agricultural county. It contains not less than seven hundred and fifty parishes. The average population of these seven hundred and fifty parishes is little more than five hundred souls; and its parish churches [reformed]] lie so close to each other, as to appear at every turn of the road or of the coast. In such a state of ecclesiastical sufficiency, one would have expected the intellectual and moral returns to have been amongst the highest in the kingdom, and that Norfolk would have been a great moral and intellectual garden. What says the inspector of the Church of England ? ' Very few adults of either sex can read or write. An opinion prevails, that those who remain of the preceding generation more commonly possessed those acquisitions. A female has oflici-ated as clerk in a parish for the last two years, none of the adult males being able to read. In another parish, the present clerk is the only man in the rank of a laborer who can read. In another, of four hundred souls, when the present school was established, two years ago, no laborer could read or write. A Dissenting minister, addressing a small congregation, was lately interrupted by a cry of " Glory be to your name ! " He immediately repressed the cry, explaining that such language could be used only to the Deity. The answer was, — " Then glory bo to both of you ! " ' This,' says the inspector, ' I have too much reason to believe, is a characteristic fact, the suppression of which would, therefore, disguise the truth.'" *(footnote: * Minutes of Committee of Council on Education, 1840-41-| London Quarterly Review, June, 1817.)
" The intellectual emancipation of the laity was one great result of the Reformation " ! Perhaps their temporal comforts have, nevertheless, been looked to. Mr. Perry, who, during a period of more than seven years, journeyed over a large portion of England, in the capacity, as lie informs us, of travelling agent of an association of philanthropists, draws the following picture of " the general stale of the peasantry in most of the strictly agricultural counties of England " : —
" Our improvements in agriculture, as a science, are capable of being profitably curried to an extent far beyond what they have yet been. But hitherto they have, in many instances, been purchased at a price which humanity shrinks from contemplating. The soil lias been made more productive, but those who till it have not the means of enabling them to enjoy its fruits. Farm-houses have everywhere been greatly improved, but a large proportion of the farm-laborers live in wretched and cheerless hovels. Rents have risen in an extraordinary manner, but poor-rates, have increased to an amount which heavily taxes these rents Nearly two hundred and forty years ago, England had so many poor, that her legislature saw it to be necessary to make a legal provision for them ; but never, till within the present century, could it be said of England's sturdy peasantry, that, as a class, they were pauperized; and never, perhaps, in the annals of any nation, is the fact recorded, that the very means and causes which led to an aggrandizement of its aristocracy, such as no country save this ever witnessed, had the effect of morally and physically deteriorating the condition of ils industrious population to a level to winch no Christianized and civilized state on the face of the earth at this moment presents a parallel.'''' *(footnote: * The Peasantry of England. London, 1846.)
Mr. Perry advises the land-owners " to retrace every wrong step which they or their fathers have taken." But, Mr. Perry, will any thing avail to give them, as you desire, " some other resource than the poor-rates, the moment their labor is even temporarily suspended" (p. 40), unless they retrace the first great faux pas of their fathers ? These poor-rates, you have informed us before, began " two hundred and forty years ago " ! — some fifty years after the Reformation. " We hold it to be demonstrable that the condition of the working classes generally has much improved within the present century, as compared with the last."(footnote: Westminster lievieio, April, 1847. Theories of Population.)
We can form, then, an idea of the central portion of the Reformation times ; — they we're worse than the present. The Westminster Reviexo treats us to a view of the first and earliest portion of these glorious times, in comparison with (his, their latest period, in which we now live.
"There is the recorded fact, that seventy thousand outlaws, vagrants, paupers, and others, who, in 181G, would have been relieved in workhouses in England, or provided with Indian meal in Scotland, or set to works, reproductive or otherwise, in Ireland, or, at the worst, shut up in well warmed and ventilated penitentiaries, [O philanthropic Reformation ]] were, under the government of Henry VIII., summarily disposed of by the hangman. He had sixty thousand men in jail at once. Under the reign of the most merciful of his three children and successors, Harrison says, the average of executions was still four hundred per annum." *(footnote: * Ibid.)
In England, not long ago, one million workingmen, on the brink of starvation, struck work, as a quaint writer has it, tl because no work was to be had," rose in insurrection, and left a dark marginal note on the page of " progress " in manufactures. " The physical condition of the working classes," says the author of England and the English, 1833, " is more wretched than we can bear to consider " ; and he shows, from the documentary evidence on " the Factory Bill," that " the strongest boys employed in factories become crooked in their limbs, and maimed, in a short time, by constant work, day and night, — the form and limbs of young females crippled by seventeen hours a day hard work, all the year through. The weakest children are made, through poverty, to do the drudgery of mules and dogs." Nothing can equal the shameless abandonment of the female peasantry of England, if we may believe the same author.
A postscript to the Westminster Review for April, 1847, states that about seventy thousand children are now in immediate contact with pauperism in those dens, styled workhouses, in Kngland. In the year 1845, says the London Quarterly Review for December, 1846, " there were taken into custody by the metropolitan police, 14,S87 persons of both sexes, under twenty years of age But this
is not a full statement of the annual mischief; much escapes the vigilance of the law ; much falls somewhat within the limits of crime ; much, however pernicious, cannot be ranked with offences against the queen's peace." These are the poor children, born in hatred of Popery, whom the Quarterly compares in boldness, pertness, and dirtiness to London sparrows, though looking, he humanely thinks, pale, feeble, and
sadly inferior to them "in plumpness of outline." What a contrast to the superstitious little Papist rooks, that, well-fed and sleek, used to chatter and swarm around the cathedrals, abbeys, convents, and monasteries in monkish limes ! Nevertheless, they are emancipated, and live under the light, and share the benefits, of the "glorious Reformation."
As to the mining population, we read in the North British Review for November last, — "Certain it is, that till about the commencement of the present century, colliers were kept in a state of perpetual bondage, and, from the first moment of their existence, were considered as belonging to the property which gave them birth " ; and that " the work of the females consisted in carrying the coal from the place where it was excavated to the bottom of the pit, whence it was taken to the surface." From a work by Mr. Bald, who has been nearly half a century at the head of the mining in Scotland, we may copy the following, cited by the Reviewer: —
" The mother sots out first, carrying a lighted candle in her teeth ; the girls follow ; and in this manner they proceed to the pit-bottom, and, with weary steps and slow, ascend the stairs, halting occasionally to draw breath, till they arrive at the hill or pit-top, where the coals are laid down for sale ; and in this manner they go for eight or ten hours, almost without resting. It is no uncommon thing to soc them, when ascending the pit, weeping most bitterly from the excessive severity of the labor ; but the instant they have laid down their burden on the hill, they resume their cheerfulness, and return down the pit singing.
" The execution of work performed by a stout woman in this way is beyond conception. For instance, we have seen a woman, during the space of time above mentioned, take on a load of at least one hundred and seventy pounds avoirdupois, travel with this one hundred and fifty yards up the slope of the coal below ground, ascend a pit by stairs one hundred and seventeen feet, and travel upon the hill twenty yards more to where the coals are laid down. All this she will perform no less than twenty-four times as a day's work."
The Reviewer adds : —
" This extract presents no overdrawn picture, no exaggerated statement. In some respects, indeed, it falls short of what a coal-bearer's work was within the last ten years. It is utterly impossible for language to convey to a stranger any thing like an adequate idea of the immense toil which those poor women had to undergo. It was reckoned nothing extraordinary at a Lothian colliery, where bearers were employed, for a woman to carry on her back from thirty-five to forty hundred weight of coal each day, a distance of between three and four hundred yards, the greater part of the road not higher than four and a half feet, and in some cases a considerable portion of it covered with water."
With regard to the determination to abate the danger of explosion, the Review (p. 39) says : — " The question must be brought to this issue," — the reformed doubt, — " Whether is capital or human life to be sacrificed ? " and humanely adds : —
" It will, no doubt, be a hard thing, if the proprietors of these coal-fields shall be compelled to carry on their operations under such restrictions as may for a time render them unproductive and unprofitable, or even suspend the working of them altogether; but it would be a harder thing still, if they must be worked as at present, with the chance, nay, the certainty, of every few months converting hundrecls of homes into places of perpetual desolation and woe." *(footnote: * We pass over, for want of space, in sketching the condition of reformed England, the horrors of the old convict system of penal settlements, the egregious "solecism of founding infant empires in crime," — settlements which really pertain to England, and of which the Edinburgh Review for July, 1847, in an article entitled, " What is to be done with our Criminals?"—a feavful question for British statesmen, since crime increases in their country at the rate of twelve per cent, per annum, — says, that the only real difficulty in presenting the arguments against the system is " that of giving any tolerable expression to them ; of knowing in what dialect of civilized man, by what periphrases of decency, to bring the atrocities which recent documentary evidence has disclosed before the minds of our countrymen. It is impossible to read them, much less to write them, without feeling the cheek alternately burn with shame or blanch with horror." But transportation to New South Wales or Van Diemen's Land being suspended, in what a condition must the Australian colonies be left, on their way to become, as they will become, vast nations, perhaps extensive empires, — immense moral wildernesses, sprung from the wild luxuriance of the Reformation stem! Alas! wherever England sends out and establishes her colonies, she plants the seeds, nay, often transports the full-grown tree, of her own corrupt — reformed—■civilization ; as the old Phoenicians established, wherever they opened a colony or a factory, the idolatrous worship of the Tyrian Hercules; and who can tell down through how many generations of their posterity it will perpetuate the curse under which she now groans and writhes in agony)
Mr. Thomas Beggs, who is extolled in the Westminster Review for his sound views and most comprehensive grasping of the subject of education and the improvement of the working classes, makes use, in his lately published work, Lectures on the Moral Elevation of the People, of a very appropriate figure, in our present view, to bring before the minds of his " reformed" readers "the moral elevation of the people " of England. .He portrays as gloomy and horrid a picture as his fancy can well furnish, of the state and condition of some ill-fated country, whose u priests are elevated as hierophants," where " the fate of the human mind is emphatically sealed," where " fanaticism and superstition brood over the minds of the people," where " barbarism and sensualism prevail, and hang their heavy cloud over the tomb of intellect, virtue, and knowledge." Is there, kind reader, any such country in any civilized region of this sublunary world of ours ? Hear Mr. Thomas Beggs, whom we must presume to be well informed, at least, as to the condition of his own country. Writing of England in our day, he says :—
" In extensive districts this mental darkness hangs over our population. The ignorance of ow people is a stain upon our character as a nation, and the time has come ichen there, will be much danger in neglecting it."
What is well known to have ever been a glaring calumny, when applied to the most retrograde Catholic people in the most unfavorable times, we are, then, forced to admit to be plain truth with regard to England, irradiated with all the pure light of the Reformation shed upon her people since its first dawn to its meridian splendor in this present day ! The Reformation, then, it seems, has alone been able to realize that state of things which had nowhere existed, even in fancy, but among the Reformers. They alone, in the sixteenth century, were frightened at the imaginary social monsters, which, strange to say, they have now produced. But this is not the first time that it has happened that the spectre which disordered the imagination of the parent has become visible to every eye in the form and features of the child.
Could we persuade ourselves, while going over these scenes of degradation and wretchedness, that " perfect clearness," as Carlyle says, in the evil " were equivalent to a remedy," we would continue our painful task with less reluctance. But we have said enough to disclose the workings of the Reformation on the lower classes in England. With these workings before their eyes, political economy and philanthropy are startled at the practical results of their creed of truths, and their benevolent impulses. They now cast at one another the cause of the cruelty and inhumanity which confessedly fall, between them both, on the "masses." " It has been of late the fashion," says an economist in the Westminster Review for last April, "to decry the truths of political economy as the creed of inhumanity. The inhumanity is with those who would substitute the weakness of the heart for the soundest axioms of experience. We throw back the charge of cruelty upon the pseudo-philanthropists of the day." u A bud political economy," says the Edinburgh Review for last October, " has been, directly and indirectly, the cause of half the crimes of Europe."
Public opinion seems to many the only powerful agent competent to effect any thing really beneficial to society. The efficiency of the provisions of the penal code, the maintenance of any law, the certain detection and punishment of crime, the verdicts of jurors, the truthful observance of an oath, the value, in a word, of all the great social safeguards, depend chiefly upon public opinion, or, if you please, the healthy state of the general conscience. And what can procure this better than religious private opinions and interpretations ? Now it seems, from the Edinburgh Review for July last, that a lamentably perverted sentimentality is extensively diffusing itself among the people,. which may soon render it problematical whether any penal code really calculated to answer its object can be devised,— " a sentimentality which weeps over the criminal, and has no tears to spare for the miseries he has caused, — which transforms the felon into an object of interest, and forgets the innocent sufferers from his cruelty or perfidy." With regard to other equally important matters, the same Review, for October, 1847, says, public opinion on the subject is still a making in England. The able writer in the Westminster, quoted above, now confesses that " his faith in the progress of opinion has been lessened, and his confidence in the improvement of human institutions shaken,—that the world moves, indeed, as was said by Galileo, but that it moves in a circle. In the physical sciences a steady advance appears to be maintained ; but in the moral we alternately advance and recede. Like the course of the earth as a planet, our path is in a prescribed orbit, which we never leave, and in which we are perpetually returning upon the same track." " To attempt," he adds, " to counteract prevailing hallucinations by a lew words of plain sense, is to lift up a voice in the wilderness, which no man regardeth." And yet u the study of our social condition, with the view of bettering the mode, of existence of the poorer and more numerous portion of mankind in the civilized countries of Europe, is one of the most striking and cheering character-' islics of the present century. Widely different as may be the opinions of some of the principal writers on these subjects, — Aialihus [, Sismondi, Degerando, Senior, Queielet, Sadler, and others, — the discussion, nevertheless, of the matters of which they treat serves at least to kindle sparks of light, which, if not revealing the whole truth at once, may guide us to the track where ive shall eventually discover it." *(footnote: * Westminster Review, April, 1847. Art. Theories of Populatmi Histoire de la Revolution Frangoise, Tome T. Paris, 1847.) It would be attained sooner by studying Balmes, and the true history of Catholic institutions.
Even M. Michelet f is touched to the. heart by the un-solaced suffering and helpless wretchedness to which he beholds the poor man of the present day so pitilessly abandoned. He would not be so impolite as to say, in the face of the enlightenment of this siecle, that there is no help for him save and except where he found it before,—that is, under the blessed guardianship of the Church. But he really insinuates as much in his gallant review of the whole case. All the evils the poorer classes now labor under must be charged, according to M. Michelet, to the transfer made some lime ago of the direction and care of schools, hospitals, alms, and the protection of the poor from the Church to the lay power. The Church, you see, wilfully gave up the trust and the office, and therefore is blamable for these really heart-rending consequences. The Church, so actively and successfully engaged through former ages in these occupations of a humane character, modesty-stricken, one day retired from the world, piously disburdening herself on reformers, governments, and philanthropists of every thought and further concern about all these matters of the poor, and of charity, and of benevolence, which would only tend to mix her up too much with worldly distractions. We see and feel the consequences.
Now we agree perfectly with M. Michelet, that the disappearance of the Church from the stage where suffering, sorrow, wretchedness, and the thousand ills that flesh is heir to were struggling in the embraces of compassion, benevolence, and heaven-born charity, through a contest always more favorable, duello mirando, to the messengers of heaven than the evils born of earth, was indeed contemporaneously followed
by the reappearance on the scene of misery in a thousand shapes, overpowering the slight opposition thrown before it, and stalking fearful and gigantic amid the powerless and puny forms of reformation, philanthropy, and all their thwarted and bustling little train. But before this last act there was an intervening act, which comprises an important feature of the drama, and this has been left out. Wherever the Church is seen to retire in any measure from the exercise of the corporal works of mercy, history presents us with a tableau, of which M. Michelet has transferred to his canvas only an isolated figure, suppressing those historic groups whose presence alone can account for the attitude, and explain the position, in which he portrays his modest and world-forsaking Church. She is indeed to be seen, as he represents her, wending her way from the asylums of misery and misfortune, to other scenes, or into the peaceful shades of retirement ; but then history shows us, behind her retiring footsteps, a savage and threatening crowd, — with reform upon their banner,—'dismissing by one door of these asylums their old guardian and keeper, in a condition of worldly nakedness and wounds well suited to excite modesty in that meek personage, and inspire thoughts of retirement from such company. Meanwhile the inmates of these despoiled abodes are thrust out by the opposite gateway, wilh a pittance of out-door relief to buy a new home for them in the world. Lazarus, indeed, scarce beyond the reach of his novel protectors, breaks out into menacing gestures and expressions of rage ; but his anger is directed at the invaders of his happy abode and the despoilers of his ancient guardian, —not, as M. Michelet seems to think, at the expulsed and retiring benefactress, whose fate he well knows he always has shared and always will share through weal and through woe.
The change which, as history shows, soon comes over the abbey halls where Lazarus once had a home, and the successors of the poor man's friend now bestowing all their tenderness on hounds and. hunters, and other such variations of scene, appearing in the background of the picture, — all this should be more than enough to elicit M. Michelet's as well as Lazarus's detestation. But no ! he first philosophizes over the robbery of the poor man's friend, and then pities the poor man, but blames his friend, for the mutual position they now hold. If M. Michelet had the moral courage of Montalambert, he would tell all this pitiful tale in a few words of plain French, giving us to understand his idea to be, that, without the Church, the poor, the afflicted, and the wretched have nothing to expect, but still again and again poverty, affliction, and wretchedness. This, loo, he might say avec connaissance de cause, — for the experiment has been tried, et que voulcz voxis Jdire !
If, according to the sentiment of Dr. Vaughan, in his let-ti r to the Morning Chronicle, Sept. 10, 1847, applauded by the Edinburgh Review, "government should be thankful to see its province daily reduced to a smaller and still smaller compass," that is, by voluntary efforts on the part, of the people, what can present higher claims upon the attention, or more fully entitle itself to the thankfulness, of governments, than the admirable workings of Catholic faith in the direction of benevolence ? The Catholic Church possesses peculiar qualifications — qualifications which no other body does or can possess — for rendering those voluntary efforts not only common and almost universal among individuals, but perpetual in associations which are willingly formed and sustained in her bosom, and of a twofold efficiency, through the self-imposed character of disinterestedness, and the professedly tender and meek spirit of the unsalaried staff and officials of her volunteer corps of benevolence. Legal enactments in the nature of poor-laws and poor-rates were never demanded of the government, until, along with the rejection of the Catholic Church, most of those means and appliances for the relief of the suffering and indigent, which Catholicity had abundantly supplied, were necessarily lost, and some substitute for them was required, not indeed by the diminishing, but by the daily increasing, number of sufferers.
We have in what has been said the proof and the acknowledgment, that as yet nothing has been devised to supply the place of what was taken from the people by the loss of Catholicity. It is impossible at the present day to deny, and no one pretends to deny, the almost hopelessly sad state to which the bulk of the lower classes are now sunk, in those countries which glory the most in the benefits of the Reformation. After three centuries of extraordinary progress and prosperity, Dr. Vaughan very appropriately presents to us a Pioteslant government, much in the attitude and bearing of a step-mother addressing a sadly conditioned family bereft of their natural parent,—"Since your mother is no more, I should be thankful to you if you would manage to provide for vour own wants."
We have taken Great Britain for our example because she is the model Protestant country, and because surely it is in her, if anywhere, we may see the real workings of reform, and collect its genuine fruits. If even in Great Britain Protestantism has been able to produce only a moral and physical state of the population unheard of, prior to reforming times, in any civilized nation, and from which she herself starts back with horror and alarm, surely we may say that she has utterly failed in realizing the social Utopia she promised. In a foregoing article we have proved, that, under a political point of view, she engenders only tyranny or anarchy, oppression or the Reign of Terror. If, then, as we now see, in a social point of view, she brings in her train, not the increase, but the destruction, of social well-being, she must stand condemned of impotence to produce the good she proposed, and, as we said, of a superhuman power to produce, in its most aggravated forms, the very evil she declaimed against and promised to redress. May we not, then, say, that there has been enough of reform, and ask, if, after the failure of its experiment, tried, under every advantage, for three hundred years, suffering humanity does not point to the absolute necessity, not of a further reform, but of n restoration of that which has been reformed away ?