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preserved by their masculine good sense, from the latter by the quiet consciousness of English greatness. Of M. Michelet's peculiar style and taste the volume before us abounds with striking illustrations; but in those extracts for which alone we shall trespass on the · Prêtre' we must be extremely guarded and careful. We are far too serious on such subjects to pursue throughout this history of spiritual flirtation, especially connected as it is with such high, and we believe blameless, names, in the satiric and glowing manner of our author. sent justification M. Michelet may have for thus withdrawing the veil from the Confessional, from the intercourse of the Director with his spiritual charge, and from the perilous workings of religious Quietism, we feel no temptation to inquire; but there are two grave and solemn questions on which this book and this whole controversy cannot but fix every reflective mind, and on which we shall presume to offer a few, but we trust dispassionate, observations: the importance of the Family—of domestic virtue and happiness--to the peace and advancement of Europe, especially of France; and the relation of the Christian clergy to their people. With these two questions is connected a third, the celibacy of the clergy–a subject which abroad is assuming no inconsiderable importance even in the Roman Catholic Church ; and, as may hereafter appear, is not altogether without reviving interest among ourselves. .
It may sound trite, even to puerility, that in the present social condition the Family is the sole guarantee for the stability of the State. In the powerlessness of government in the western countries of Europe, there is one great counterpoise to that anarchy which is perpetually impending from the ambition, the insubordinate passions, the means of agitating the public mind through the press, and even from the talents, eloquence, and greatness of those adventurers of society, who are constantly at every hazard, even of the peace of their country, at every sacrifice, even of their own happiness or their own lives, determined to force their way to distinction. This is the solid and substantial weight of those whose family ties
bind them to social order. The husbands and the fathers are the true conservatives; their wives and children are hostages for civil peace. The youth who is loose upon the world is a republican by nature; he has all to gain and nothing to lose by political confusion. In France the history of the country has been almost a long revolution since 1789; and every great general and distinguished statesman has pushed his way to fortune by his energy and talents, because all barriers were thrown down before energy and talent. And that this revolution should not continue; that the future history of France should not be like that which Louis Blanc has written-or rather that which Louis Blanc would wish to write-not a succession of republican abortions, of wild conspiracies against all order and government, of Saint Simonianism, Fourrierism, and every other strange scheme for the complete regeneration, as it is called, of society,—nay, still worse, of actual convulsion and sanguinary strife: that the political condition of France and of other countries who are or may become like France, should rather be the salutary agitation of constitutional government, the ardent but not reckless collision of well organized parties, formed on recognized principles, and nobly striving for ascendancy-not an eternal anarchy, a chronic state of dissolution, till the weary world yearns for the peace of some strong despotism—the one guarantee for all this, under God, is the Family—the Family bound together by strong love, and consciously holding its happiness upon the tenure of public order. If there be any truth in M. Michelet's statement that this source and pledge of peace, the Family, is threatened by the intrusion of a dissociating, not harmonizing religion; if the influence of the priest is producing a wide and general estrangement between the sexes (les prêtres - les envieux naturels du mariage et de la vie de famille); if the men in opinion, in sentiment, in sympathy, are all on one side as to the most momentous questions which can occupy the understanding and the heart, and the females on the other; the only consolation will be that such a state of things cannot endure;
that parents and husbands will assert their power and authority, and a general insurrection of the better feelings will repel the invader from the sanctuary of domestic happiness. But how fearfully will this reaction operate upon religion, thus brought into collision by its unwise apostles with all the holier and better feelings of mankind! Nor is this domestic virtue and happiness in France of light comparative hazard. Of all things it is most difficult to estimate the comparative morality, in certain points, of different countries, or that of the same country at different periods. But for the first time in later French history (must we not ascend almost to St. Louis for an earlier precedent of this moral phenomenon ?) the Court of France has set the high example of domestic virtue. We profess to be utterly and happily ignorant of the scandal of the upper orders in Paris; but that men of observation, and not entirely secluded from the world, can be ignorant of such things, is in itself evidence of a great change. At what former time has not Europe rung with the deeds of the accomplished and shameless mignons and roués of Paris? The statesmen whom we could name as examples of every amiable as well as of every high and honourable virtue may not fairly represent their whole class; but at least that class is not represented by the Richelieus and so forth of old. Notwithstanding the noisy and extravagant enormities in which the drama and romance of Paris delight to revel, we believe that domestic virtue has greatly advanced both in the upper and the middle classes—the bourgeoisie (according to M. Louis Blanc, the actual rulers of the country)-since the Revolution. The security of property, no doubt, is with this class another great guarantee against political confusion; but it is the Family which adds weight and sanctity to property; and both are embarked in a common cause by common interest.
Such being the tremendous hazard—the domestic harmony and happiness, and with the domestic harmony and happiness the domestic morals, and with the morals the only firm security against an eternal succession of revolutionary movements—is
there any real ground for the jealous apprehensions of M. Michelet and his followers ? Is the religion now struggling to regain its lost ascendancy the enemy, instead of the harbinger, of peace? Would it enter into the family, not to purify and elevate, but to disturb—not to soften, to refine, to assert the dignity and authority of the primary domestic relation, but rather to weaken or paralyse that which in the Roman Catholic Church is the holy sacrament of matrimony? Is it hostile only to the godless and frantic doctrines of Jacobinism, or to that real advancement in freedom and civilization which is the better sense of that pregnant word 'progress ?' This is the practical absorbing question, far more than any one connected either with the doctrine or ritual of the Church; it is with the moral working on society that society at least is most concerned.
Let us look, therefore, at the converse of this statement; let us hear the pleadings on this delicate point from the opposite side. Has real religion found its only repose in those who, as their sensitive being more profoundly needs its consolations, in every age have been its most successful teachers; who have converted heathen kingdoms, and reared up the best and wisest of the Christian saints? Is the wife the object of the especial care of the priest, because she alone has her heart open to the sacred persuasives of the faith—and with the apostolic aim, that the unbelieving husband may be sanctified by the believing wife? Is it so, not in order to lead silly women captive' to foolish or harassing superstitions, but that the legitimate influence of woman may be employed in subduing by the sweet lessons of maternal religion that anarchy of fierce passions to which (if the modern romances have any touch of reality) the youth of Paris, and those who crowd from all parts of France to all-engulphing Paris, are cast forth in perilous freedom; and that social anarchy which is constantly threatened by the conflict of these individual anarchs? Is it the noble, the Christian ambition of the clergy thus to introduce a counterpoise to the still dominant irreligion of the present
instructors and leaders of the public mind? Is it, to be more particular, through one parent at least, to prepare the young mind for the dangerous and, as it is asserted, un-Christianizing ordeal of the college or the university? Is it to fight the great battle of the faith in the only field where it can be fought with success ?—where the evil is so deeply-rooted, to strike at the root of the evil ? In a word, is it the humanizing, and socializing, and immortalizing spirit of true Christianity, which is thus gradually to be infused into the illcemented fabric of society? or is it only the galvanic life of Jesuitism, which after some strong and painful paroxysms will give back the weary body to incurable dissolution and decay?
Time alone will show the issue of this conflict, in which we have no intention to engage as partisans, still less the presumption to offer our mediation. But the occasion tempts us, in a spirit altogether undogmatic and uncontroversial, to enter (at far less length indeed than such topics would require) on some questions, which we are persuaded are of the greatest importance to mankind; on which depends the true development (a word much misused) of our religion, at least in its moral and social energies; its wonderful power of self-accommodation to all the inevitable changes in the manners, habits, and opinions of mankind; its predicted authority Seven unto the end of the world.'
The nature of the religion to be taught, and permanently to be maintained throughout Christendom, does not depend altogether on the abstract and speculative doctrines, or on the ritual of the Church, but on the manner of the teaching also— in other words, on the relation of the clergy to the people. What, then, above and beyond their great and undeniable function of officiating in the church and at the altar, of conducting the rites, and administering the Sacraments, is that proper superintendence of the heart and soul of each individual under their charge, which they can assume, in the present state of society, with safety to themselves, with blessing to mankind ?