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indifferent persons, on business, on the news of the day-but not on subjects which touch the heart and the moral life, on eternity, religion, the soul, and God. Take the moment when it would be most delightful to withdraw yourself with your family into some common subject of thought and feeling, in the quiet of the evening, around the family board. There, in your own home, by your own fireside, do you venture to speak on these subjects? Your mother shakes her head in sadness, your wife contradicts, your daughter shows her disapprobation by her silence: they are on one side of the table, you on the other, and alone. One would suppose, that in the midst of them, opposite to you, is seated some invisible person, to controvert all you say. Do we wonder that such is the state of the family? Our wives and daughters are brought up, are governed, by our enemies ; —the enemy, M. Michelet explains himself with unhesitating frankness, is the priest !
If we were about to throw ourselves headlong into this conflict, we should be much disposed (our readers must excuse the levity for the aptness of the illustration) to adopt in serious earnestness the prayer of the honest Irishman, who rushed into the thick of an irresistible fray, shouting, God grant I may take the right side !' Such, however, is not our design; we have enough to do to keep the peace at home, without embarking in our neighbour's religious quarrels. Yet the Christianity of the whole world is bound together by deep and untraceable sympathies; it has many common interests, even where the interests appear most adverse ; many secret influences emanate from the most hostile forms of faith, which bring them into the most strange and unexpected relationship. There is an unity among the lovers of peace and true Christian love, which places men of the most opposite and conflicting views together upon a calm and commanding height. The same principles are at work under the most despotic and most democratic forms of Church polity. In the Free Church movement in Scotland there is a strong Hildebrandine element—and Ireland claims the right of resisting the infallible authority of Rome, when
Rome would command peace and order. The great abstract question of education by the Church, or by the State, is of universal interest : the incorporation, or the dissociation of religion from the general system of instruction. Yet the manner, and even the principles on which the position and influence of the clergy in that system will be discussed, will depend on the circumstances of each country. In France, at present, the Church proclaims itself the advocate of full liberty of education ; the University rests its exclusive claim on what it asserts to be the public weal, the actual constitution and the genius of the better and more French part of the people, on its nationality as established after the revolution. The clergy assert their right to open schools and seminaries upon the broad principles of religious freedom; their opponents disclaim all hostility to true religion, but in report, in novel, and in treatise, denounce the irreclaimable Jesuitism which, openly and contrary to law, is endeavouring to obtain possession of the public mind; and which, if not the boast (nous sommes tous Jésuites), has been the incautious admission of at least one ardent writer.
Is then the Christianity on which M. Michelet, and those who think and feel with M. Michelet, would open as he asserts their inmost hearts to their mothers and their wives, but on which the stern voice of the priest interdicts all sympathy, communion, and harmony—is this the religion—we say not of the Gospel in our high Protestant sense, but—of such a more rational and practically spiritualized Roman Catholicism as it were the worst arrogance of exclusiveness to deny might be imagined to arise, not by rudely rending off, but by quietly dropping the more unevangelic doctrines, and the haughty pretensions irreconcilable with a more enlightened age: such as might arise in the Church of Bossuet and Fénélon, purified in the fire of revolutionary degradation and suffering, taught wisdom and humility by the sad remembrance of times when Christian faith and Christian feelings were alike extinguished ; conscious of its own delinquencies (for the Church of Fénélon,
of St. Vincent de Paul, was the Church of Dubois and Rohan); above all, national as becomes the Church of a great nation; intelligent as becomes that of an intellectual people; without the dishonest concession or compromise of one true Christian principle, but with no needless opposition to the state of the public mind; a purely and sublimely moral and religious, not a turbulent political power ?—Is it religion with any depth and vitality, with any definite creed, with any commanding authority over the conscience, with any active zeal, any sincere love of Christ and his faith in its purity? Is it more than a something cold and negative---the fastidious or indignant repudiation of the follies and superstitions of an antiquated faith-more than a conscientious aversion, justified by profound historical inquiry, for the evils of the Confessional, with its manuals of all imaginable and unimaginable crimes; for the Direction, with its dangerous intimacies and morbid excitements; the ultramontane pretensions of the clergy, and their revival of all the frauds and puerilities of mediaval miracle ? What religion, what Christianity would M. Michelet propose in place of that form of the faith which he considers absolutely irreconcilable with the state of the male mind in France ? What power, what influence would he leave to the priest ? what should be his intercourse with the family? what his social and political position ? To us the writer's lofty phrases of the modern spirit, of liberty, and of the future' (de l'esprit moderne, de la liberte, et de l'avenir), convey no clear sense ; but they are coupled with some significant and ill-boding expressions about democratical sermons, which M. Michelet appears to hail as the only hope of improvement in the clergy. Now we must assert our impartial aversion to democratic as well as to absolutist sermons. If, as a distinguished partisan of the Church party has boldly declared, it is a contest between the sons of the Crusaders and the sons of Voltaire, we must be permitted to hold our sympathies in abeyance. We are as little disposed to that Mahometan fire and sword Christianity, as to the Antichristian philosophism of Ferney.
We are bound, indeed, to acknowledge that it would be the height of injustice to represent M. Michelet, the historian, as an infidel writer, or even as hostile to Roman Catholic Christianity. The strong charges of inconsistency which are brought against him are his fullest exculpation. Striking and eloquent passages from his History in favour of the monkish system, the power of the Papacy, the celibacy of the clergy, are adduced in triumphant refutation of his arguments in the present controversy. But even if these passages expressed the mature and deliberate opinions of M. Michelet, occurring as they do in their proper historical place, with reference to a remote age, and a totally different state of civilization, we must pronounce them utterly irrelevant, and without any legitimate bearing on the present question. We take the opportunity of protesting against the watchful industry with which every attempt to treat the Papacy and the religion of the Middle Ages with fairness and sound philosophy, is seized upon as an extorted concession of Protestant prejudice to the power of truth ; as an unwilling homage to the majesty of Rome; as an approximation worthy of every encouragement, to a recognition of the perpetual supremacy, the irrepealable sanctity of the whole creed and all the usages of Papal Christianity. As if any form of Christian belief was without its beneficial power; as if any amount of engrafted human invention could absolutely obscure the blessed light of Christ's faith : more especially a form of that faith so wonderfully, we will venture to add providentially, self-adapted to the dark ages, as that great Papal system, which it is as impossible to contemplate without awe, and even admiration and respect, as without gratitude that in his good time God was pleased either to shatter it to the ground, or to allow it to sink into natural decay and dissolution.
But this, in truth, is a writer whom we scarcely think it fair to bind down to the full meaning of his own most forcible and brilliant passages. M. Michelet is an historian of a very peculiar character, and in some of the qualifications of that noblest literary function, unrivalled, or almost unrivalled, in the
present day. He is profound and indefatigable in research ; in his composition he has a singular felicity of arranging and grouping his facts almost in a dramatic form ; some parts of his narrative pass like scenes before the imagination ; he has practised skill and at times consummate success, not merely in the description, but in the impersonation of character; he has wonderful power in throwing himself back into other periods, and environing himself, as it were, with all the incidents of the time—he lives, and makes us live among the men, and the deeds, the passions and opinions of each successive period : and the age too lives again; it is M. Michelet's boast, and no ungrounded boast, constantly to renew its actual, peculiar, characteristic life. But in all these points it is the ambition of M. Michelet to be always striking. From his diligent, and, we believe, conscientious study of the old chronicles and records, he is constantly picking out, usually with judgement, always with acuteness, the slighter discriminating touches or incidents, the epigrams as it were of history : but on these he often lays very undue stress. He is so perpetually straining after the drama, and poetry, and romance of history, as sometimes almost to leave out the history itself. Instead of the calm and equable flow of the historian, rising occasionally to majesty, or stooping almost to familiarity, according to the character of the facts which he relates, we have a succession of lively and picturesque chapters, in which after all we find it difficult to trace the course of events. M. Michelet, in short, is often a brilliant writer on history, rather than an historian. He will not accuse us of estimating his ambition too low, when we say that he aspires to be the Shakspeare and Walter Scott as well as the Livy and Tacitus of French history; but there are two other unlucky weaknesses in M. Michelet, which even our sincere admiration of his genius must not permit us to disguise-one a dreamy sentimentalism, the other a claptrap adulation of national vanity, to which neither the English dramatist nor the novelist condescend, though possessing the privilege of poetry and romance. From the first they were