Page images

begin, they are soon crushed by the dogged opposition of proEnglish railroad managers and other carriers or distributors.

The only industries flourishing in Ireland to-day are distilleries and breweries, and a few chemical works in which the inexhaustible supply of sea-weed of all kinds is reduced to substances like iodine, or some form of manure.

“There is not a shovel or a knife made in Ireland," was the testimony of an authority before the Parliamentary Committee on Irish Industries (1885); and yet Ireland possesses exhaustless quantities of the best iron in the world, with abundance of coal and peat for smelting and manufacture. There is not a police barrack or other government building in the country that is not slated with Welsh slate, though Ireland has vast quarries of superior slate, which cannot reach a market. There is not a yard of broadcloth worn by the Catholic clergy, for instance, made in Ireland; it is imported from England, where it is made from Irish wool. And so runs the whole shameful story of neglect and deliberate suppression.

A land that the Almighty made to teem with milk and honey, a land of rich fields and gentle airs, of sweet waters and lovely prospects, untainted by one poisonous breath of noxious reptile or deadly plant; a land of gold and silver and marble, and every precious element of glory and beauty; and on the surface of this paradise a population driven to despair by poverty, subserviency, and profitless, hopeless toil !

The latest British official who reports for Ireland is the Irish Registrar-General, showing, in the words of the Dublin Freeman's Journal, “ that since May, 1851, the awful number of 3,197,419 men and women of Irish birth (the young and strong ones) have fled their birth-place to find in most cases death in foreign lands, and each year is adding to the terrible national drain.” And, in addition, this leading Irish journal says that 2,500,000 Irish people died in their own country, in the same period, of hardship and starvation.

“What name is to be given to wholesale extermination like this?" indignantly asks the Rt. Rev. Dr. Bagshawe, the revered Bishop of Nottingham, himself an Englishman. “It is carried out by the bayonets of the troops and the constabulary;" and the Bishop adds: “The same murderous work is going on at the present hour with horrible malignity.”

Ireland ought to be the home of a thousand industries. Her children once possessed skill of head and hand to raise her wonderful products into shapes of use and beauty for all the world. But there is hardly a wheel turning in the desolate country. The metals and marbles are covered with earth. The rivers of match

Their great

less water-power pour inutile into the sea; the people fly from the land of their love as from a plague-stricken region.

Never before in human history has a highly-civilized, brave, industrious, religious race suffered from conquest so dreadfully as have the Irish people. In the twelfth century they had laid the wide and deep foundations of a splendid nation. schools had then been filled with students for centuries; they had covered their lovely island with abbeys and churches of surpassing beauty, as the skeletoned ruins testify to the present traveller; they had, alone of all European nations except Greece and Rome, codified a noble system of native law, fitted to the complexities of the highest social order; they had established profound respect for religion, letters and music. Had the Ireland of the twelfth century proceeded uninterrupted into the nineteenth, there would have been an Irish national history rivalling, if not surpassing, the most luminous pages of Hellenic glory. But the growth was invaded from without. The fair structures were thrown down; the learning, law, art, religion were banished or trampled into the earth. The whole country was given to a handful of the conquerors to do with it as they pleased; and they own it still.

“ The landlords,” says Bishop Bagshawe, “are but a handful of the population. Less than 300 persons own one-third of Ireland; half Ireland is owned by less than 800; and two-thirds of it by less than 2000.

The whole number of landlords does not exceed 10,000."

“In Ireland alone,” says John Stuart Mill, “the whole agricultural population can be evicted by the mere will of the landlord, either at the expiration of a lease, or in the far more common case of their having no lease, at six months' notice. In Ireland alone the bulk of a population dependent wholly on the land cannot look forward with confidence to a single year's occupation of it; while the sole outlet for the dispossessed cultivators is expatriation.”

Remedy? The object of this article is diagnosis, not remedy. Diseases in the individual may be cured by medicines, and individual wrongs by the patchwork of legislation. But the moral affliction of an unjust social order cannot be cured by law.

The cruelty or injustice of a strong nation is its disease: it has only one Physician, and He works through the consciences of good men who have opened their eyes to the iniquity.



A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian

Church, edited by Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D.
Vol. I. The CONFESSIONS and LETTERS of St. Augustine, with a

Sketch of his Life and Work. Buffalo : Christian Literature

Company. 1886. Large 8vo. Pp. 619.
Vol. II. St. Augustine's City of God and CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE.

Ibid. 1887. Pp. 621.


T is a wholesome sign of the times that the Fathers of the

Church are beginning once more to attract the attention of students and readers. They have never, at any time, been neglected by the Catholic scholar. For to him they are witnesses of the truth ; and his theology must be learned from the Scriptures not as interpreted by the caprice of private judgment, but by the authority of the Church. And, though she defines her doctrine in councils or by the voice of Peter speaking through his successors, yet it is through the holy Fathers, who are her chief theologians, that she develops and explains her teaching.

Hitherto, generally speaking, the Fathers have not been regarded with much favor by non-Catholic divines. At the beginning of the religious revolution which, near four hundred years ago, destroyed the unity of Catholic faith in good part of Europe, some effort was made by the partisans of the new errors to enlist the Fathers on their side. The breach between the Old and the New, between the Church, with her hereditary faith of fifteen centuries, and the novelties preached by those of the “new learning " or "new gospel," as they called themselves,-bad priests and renegade friars, as the people knew them to be, was so clear and so startling that it became a matter of necessity to make some attempt to show that this total change of creed, polity and ritual was no radical innovation, but simply a giving back to Christendom of her old religion in its first purity. For this the Fathers were paraded as a court of appeal, and passages from their works were quoted, or misquoted rather and shamefully distorted, to lend some color to the desperate attempt. But it was such a wretched failure that the majority of Protestant divines, including many even of the “Reformers” themselves, seeing that no artifice availed to drag the Fathers into the service or extort from them anti-Catholic testimony, gave up in disgust the wearisome task imposed on them by controversial necessity, and found it more expedient to decry and denounce the witnesses they had summoned to their own confusion.

Hence the vile language in which Luther speaks of them. In this he is imitated by his disciples; and by Calvinists too, on the continent of Europe, in Great Britain and America. It may occasionally happen that they quote approvingly a passage or two from some holy Father or Catholic Doctor. But it is not out of reverence for his character or his acknowledged position in the Catholic Church. It is because they imagine they have discovered in his pages something that lends countenance to a pet error of their sect or some partial remnant of truth which commends itself to the approval of their private judgment. It is in this way that the Calvinist and Jansenist love to use or misuse St. Augustine, the Anglican Sts. Ignatius and Cyprian. So, too, the Puritan, John Milton, when he unwisely steps down from Helicon to dabble in theological strife, condescends to praise the Fathers, when he thinks they side with his loose notions of divorce, but in the next breath reviles them like a common scold, when they chance to run counter to his Calvinistic prejudices.

Since Protestantism, like the old Kronos of mythology, has taken to devouring her offspring, and has been swallowed up in turn by Rationalism, to a great extent in Germany and partially at least amongst English-speaking peoples, the hereditary feeling of ill-will and contempt for the Fathers seems to have given way to a better sentiment, more respectful and more just to those venerable worthies of the early Church. Amongst German savants, even divines nominally Lutheran or “ Reformed," the works of these holy and learned men are edited, annotated and studied with zeal and diligence, as writings of great, good men and representatives of the thought and talent of their epoch. This may not be much; it may be nothing more than what they do for Plato or Josephus, Kalidasa or Yayadeva. But it is something after all, especially when we contrast it with the vulgar abuse and ribaldry of Martin Luther and John Milton. It is, we hope, a higher motive that in England and America begins to lead so many to the reading and study of the Fathers. At all events, nothing but edification and real advantage can come of this newly awakened desire for patristic literature. Honest men will learn at last to recognize them as echoes and exponents of the great truths which the Catholic Church has taught from the beginning and teaches at this day, and which in an evil hour men were led by demagogues and false

Gospellers" to reject as human inventions, not consonant with truth and primitive Christianity.

We have spoken before of the first volume of St. Agustine's

works, in which are contained the Confessions and Letters of the holy Doctor. Of the Confessions, that enduring monument of Christian humility, and of the manifold testimonies they bear to Catholic doctrine and practice, we have said enough. The Letters contain a little over five-eighths of what may be found under that name in the Maurine edition, the principal omission being of those letters that touch on the Donatist and Pelagian controversies. The latter, being on subjects of somewhat abstruse character, are not so necessary as those of an historical nature. Hence their absence is not so much selt, especially as the anti-Pelagian treatises of the Saint are fully given in three volumes. But the letters relating to the Donatist schism are so few that they need not have been sacrificed to gain a trifle of space. Besides, they are almost indispensable to give the reader an adequate idea of the mild, amiable character of St. Augustine, breathing as it does intense charity for those who had separated themselves from Catholic unity, and at the same time sternly urging the necessity of visible communion with the Church, which if one knowingly reject, no good works, no austerity of penance, no outward show of holy life can avail him to salvation. We do not even hint that this may have furnished any ground for the omission of the Letters. But we can feel how unpleasant it must naturally be for a Protestant editor to translate and publish for the instruction of his fellow-religionists, as the distinct, unmistakable teaching of Augustine and the Catholic Church of the third and fourth centuries, what he bitterly resents as uncharitable dogmatism when uttered by Leo XIII. and the Catholic Bishops of our day.

The translator of the Letters is Rev. J. F. Cunningham, and though his version is not always literal, it is (as far as we can judge), on the whole, sufficiently faithful. The Index is wholly inadequate. It ought to have been far more complete. For, had all the other works of St. Augustine become the prey of Vandals in Africa or barbaric Goths in Europe, his Letters alone, if they but survived, would sufficiently reveal to posterity the life, character and thoroughly Catholic doctrine of the great Bishop of Hippo. The meagre character of the Index not only offends good taste and propriety, but is occasionally misleading. It is headed "Index of Subjects,” and is preceded by another, ample enough, of the persons to whom the Letters are addressed. Yet of the subjects, which he treats so fondly, so fully and so eloquently, how many are passed over without a single word of mention! The Index has not failed to remind us of Augustine's “ Ignorance of Hebrew," of what he thought of “Scripture" and the “ Epicureans” (three references for each topic), of Anaximenes, Anaxagoras and the Cutzupitæ-a kind of Donatist heretics who lived in Rome

« PreviousContinue »