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fully and wickedly perverts the meaning of the clearest things ; a man, in fine, who will convince those who are already convinced, and will hurt those who wish to be hurt.
But does he not quote authorities, does he not reason on them ? Certainly. Satan himself was an adept at quoting Scripture, as well as a subtle reasoner; yet Satan is the “father of lies.” Michelet quotes different authors, but does he furnish chapter and verse ? He cites authors, but what authors ? Writers of both sexes, who were renegades, apostates, or infidels, and as little reliable as himself. He refers, with commendation, to Sue's Wandering Jew, the truth of which he confirms :' he quotes Llorente, the apostate priest and the traitor, for one of the foulest and most infamous aspersions on Catholic morality that we have ever read. He quotes authorities, forsooth! He takes the easy method of quoting whole books at a time, and of quoting them sometimes from memory alone. And yet he is an historian and a reasoner !
Such a logician would have been likely to reach erroneous conclusions, even had he started out with correct premises; but the premises of Michelet are, in general, wholly false and untenable, as little to be relied on as his facts and authorities. The burden of his reasoning against the moral tendency of the Confessional consists in the wholly groundless assumption that, even at the present day, the principles of Quietism are those by which the confessor is regulated. And how does he defend this palpable untruth? He defends it, by showing that the Spanish Monk Molinos, and a few other obscure casuists once taught this dangerous and impure doctrine. But does he not himself admit, that Molinos and his principles were publicly and solemnly condemned by the Catholic Church? Does he not admit, that he was condemned for the very reasons that he himself assigns against his doctrine ? Does he not admit, that this doctrine has been dead and buried for centuries ? That so soon as its impure tendency was discovered, it was rejected with horror and loathing by the Church ? Yes, he well knows all this ; and yet he would hold the Church and the Confessional responsible for the principles of Molinos, some of the most disgusting of which he parades in his book, and gloats over with manifest delight. How blind is malignity !
And yet, gentle reader, this impure wretch, whose whole book teems with foul obscenity, treats his readers to the following curious specimen of hypocritical prudery in his preface :
“ The work presented a grave difficulty, that of speaking with decency on a subject which our adversaries have treated with incredible grossness. • To the pure all things are pure ;' I know the rnaxim, but I have often preferred to let my opponents escape, when I had them in my power, rather than follow them into the marsh and mire !!.'»5
Risum teneatis ? The man who indited this passage would fain per
1 P. 166, note.
2 Pp. 178-9, note. 8 The distinctive and worst feature in Quietism, was the assertion that the soul might attain to so great a degree of quietude in God as to be incapable of sin, no matter what was done in the body. 4 P. 105.
5 P. xiii
suade his readers, that the greatest and best men of the Catholic Church during the last three centuries were little better than wicked and impure hypocrites, whose whole lives were given up to libertinism, and whose whole study was to cloak it over with ingenious expedients and sophistry, that deceived every one but the acute and pure-minded M. Michelet; that the holy friendship of St. Francis de Sales and St. Frances de Chantal was nothing but a well sustained amour ; that Fenelon's spiritual direction of Madam de Guyon and Madam de Maisonfort, and Bossuet's advices to Madam Cornuan, were prompted and guided by the same impure motive; and that this feature is apparent from the published correspondence of all those eminent and saintly personages ! This foul-mouthed slander of men, whose names will be radiant with brightness and glory for centuries after his own shall have been forgotton, or remembered only with execration, runs through many long chapters of his book.
He picks up a sentence here, and another there ; he poisons their meaning by causing the words to pass through the alembic of his own impure mind; he strings them together to suit the theory devised by his own foul suspicions; and he thus succeeds in extracting impurity out of things the most pure, darkness out of light. Like a serpent crawling through a beautiful flower garden, and infecting the fragrant atmosphere with its pestilent breath, he succeeds in extracting nothing but poison from the sweetest and loveliest flowers. He leaves the slime of his poisonous fangs on every thing he has touched, while his hissing excites no other feelings than those of unspeakable disgust. He has not even the fascination of the serpent about him ; there is "no speculation" in his dull, glaring, lustreless eye. Every one feels that the foul creature should be cast out, and be permitted to crawl only among kindred reptiles.
Such precisely was the feeling lately awakened in the French chambers, when the very book we are now examining was made a matter of complaint by certain members, who expressed their astonishment in the face of all France, that a public professor in the College de France should be allowed to depart from his appropriate sphere, and to prostitute his professorship to purposes so utterly vile.' A member friendly to Michelet was appointed to examine and report on the merits of the book, especially in reference to the professorship held by the author; and he reported that, having perused the work with attention, notwithstanding the unspeakable disgust which every page of it awakened in his bosom, he was of opinion that its author merited an indignant rebuke. There was no opposition in the chambers; the same feeling of loathing seemed to pervade all minds; and even the most unblushing infidel of them all dared not offer an apology for the author.?
1 Michelet and Quinet, two professors in the College de France, both of whom had glaringly porverted their respective professorships of history and the literature of southern Europe into envenomed assaults on Christianity, were lately compelled, by the French government, to confine themselves to their appropriate spheres of instruction
2 We have derived these facts chiefly from a distinguished individual, who was in Paris at the sme.
Such, then, is Michelet: the transcendentalist, the pantheist, the deist, the falsifier of the clearest facts, the open perverter of history, the foul slanderer of the great and good, the hot-headed, incoherent, raving hater of the priesthood, of Catholicity, of Christianity; the man who would, if he dared, avow the sentiment attributed to Diderot, a wish that “the last of kings should be strangled with the bowels of the last of priests ;” and who would, if he had the power, re-enact in France the bloody horrors of the French revolution. And yet this man's pestilent book is re-produced in this country by Reverend preachers of the gospel of peace, charity, and truth, and commended by them to the perusal of the public! It is republished as a capital work against the errors of “popery," and as one likely to produce a powerful impression! It is well for these men to charge the Catholic Church with teaching and acting on the maxim : “ The end justifies the means.” They will truly have an awful account to give at the bar of God. Let them look to it in time.
Is it not after all a great honor to the Catholic Church, that her holy institutions can be attacked only by such men and by such means as these? If Catholicity could be assailed by fair means, why resort to foul ? If the Confessional be so immoral in its tendency, why cannot this be shown without employing base slander and transparent falsehood? If the Catholic priesthood be so very wicked, why not prove it by other evidence than low and unworthy suspicion? Are the Protestant clergy, even in this country, so very immaculate themselves, that they can afford to throw stones at their neighbors? Is there no beam in their own eyes, that they should be so very solicitous about extracting the mote from those of their brethren ? Let them take heed to themselves before the great day of account, when “the hidden things of darkness shall be made manifest, and the counsels of hearts shall be revealed.”
If the Confessional be so very immoral and impure, why was not the discovery made centuries ago? How has this institution been sustained for so many ages? How did it happen that the whole Christian world, for the first fifteen centuries, revered it as an institution of God, and resorted to it as a divinely appointed means of obtaining the remission of sins, through an application made therein of the blood of Christ? How has it happened that both sexes and all classes, that men, women, and children, that Popes, bishops, priests, and laymen, that emperors and empresses, kings and queens, princes and princesses, have so long, so perseveringly, and so universally practised Confession. How has it happened, that husbands and fathers have been so long slumbering, when their nearest and dearest interests were assailed, when the very fountains of their domestic bliss were poisoned? How has it happened, that they not only looked calmly on, while their most warmly cherished affections and hopes were thus blighted, but even aided by their counsel and example in the continuance of the horrible violation ?
And is it come to this, that, in the nineteenth century, in the boasted Age of enlightenment and gallantry to the sex, men should be found 2 R2
wearing the garb of ministers of God, who give utterance to the implied aspersion, that during the first fifteen hundred years all the females, and during the last three centuries, two thirds of the females of Christendom, were and are immoral and corrupt? That this corruption has pervaded all classes from the princess to the peasant girl, and that the only means to guard against it is to abolish Confession altogether?
Gracious God ! upon what times have we fallen! When what is selfstyled pure and evangelical religion can be sustained only by such foul imputations on the great body of Christians; when the country is inundated with filth, in order to create and keep up this impression ; when Reverend preachers lend their name and influence to such pollution ; can we wonder at the wide-spread infidelity and corruption of morals so apparent in the rising generation? Can we marvel that, from the official statement of the American Almanac, more than half of our adull population over twenty-one years of age belongs to no religion whatever ? If Christianity, in its oldest form, and as taught and practised by two-thirds of the Christian world even at the present enlightened day, in nations too the most polished and civilized, has produced, and still produces such fruits, can we wonder that men turn from it with disgust, and throw themselves into the swelling ranks of infidelity ? Can we be surprised at this result, when the works of such infidels as Michelet are circulated, by authority, among our population, as excellent and highly useful productions ?
Tell us not, that the corrupting influences of the Confessional have been conclusively established by published extracts from our own accredited theologians, Dens, Liguori, and others. Such
» champions as Sparry, the driveling apostate Smith, and many more of the same stamp, have indeed flooded our land with such publications, teeming with obscenity, said to be translated from our own authors; and Sparry, for acting as traveling pedler of such books, was arrested by the civil authorities in Pennsylvania. Our enemies are heartily welcome to all the laurels they have won in this campaign. They proved their own groveling impurity of mind and heart; they did not, because they could not, sully the lily-white purity of Catholicity. Their false and garbled extracts showed only their own dishonesty and baseness.
By precisely the same process of collecting and publishing in a body disjointed fragments, according to a pre-conceived theory, one might prove that the studies of law and of medicine are immoral in their tendency, and should be wholly abolished ; and that even the sacred and inspired Scriptures of God teem with impurity, and are corrupting in their influence! Do not those men know, that there are in the studies of medicine and law, many very plain details on certain delicate subjects, which should not be spread out for general reading, but which, in the connection in which they stand, are highly useful, if not indispensably necessary ? Do they not know that those works are strictly professional, and as such not at all blame-worthy ? And why will they not have the candor and honesty, to make the same allowance in regard to Catholic theological works,— written in Latin, withdrawn by this circumstance and by their very nature from the popular gaze, and strictly professionai in their character and tendency ? Or is it proper to enter into those details in English,-a language accessible to all, — for the purpose of unfolding human laws, and treating the ills of the body, and not proper to do the same in Latin,-a language hidden from the multitude,- for the much higher and nobler purpose of developing the divine law, and unfolding the necessary remedies for the maladies of the soul ?
Do not the holy Scriptures themselves furnish us with a precedent for this? Are there not many chapters in the Bible which a pure-minded female would not venture to read aloud in company? And is the Bible corrupt for this? What would be thought of another Sparry or Smith, who should be at the pains of collecting together and publishing in one volume, with a running commentary, all those Scriptural extracts, for the purpose of establishing the immorality of the Bible? And what are we to think of the men who have republished and who circulate with zealous commendation the thoroughly infamous book of Michelet, in which the foul infidel more than intimates that the Canticle of Canticles, or Song of Solomon, is little more than a mere love song breathing, in “burning language,” the sentiments of a carnal affection ; and who tries to prove that the great Bossuet was a carnal-minded and corrupt man, because in his correspondence with Madam Cornuan, he employs and comments upon the language of that Canticle ?' Out upon such pretended delicacy, and real hypocrisy! One feels almost tempted to exclaim with Shakspeare :
I forth to whip hypocrisy." The real secret of all this clamor against the Confessional is found in the simple fact, that Confession is very hard to flesh and blood, and exceedingly humbling to human pride. It is very painful, to feel compelled to reveal our wickedness to a fellow-creature as sinful as ourselves. But this very feature of Confession is, perhaps, the strongest proof of its divine origin. Christianity in its very nature wars against flesh and blood, and inculcates self-denial and humility. The practice of Confession is highly calculated to keep alive this feeling. How is it possible that man would and could ever have introduced a doctrine so very painful ? How is it possible that mankind could have been persuaded to adopt a practice so very humbling, unless they firmly believed that Christ himself had enjoined it as a command, and as an essential condition for obtaining pardon of sin? Whoever knows anything of human nature, knows that, however easy it may be to introduce changes for the worse,
1 Page 96, seq. In a long note, the author furnishes us with extracts from Bossuet's correspondence, in which the expressions he (Michelet) reprobates most, are precisely those of the divine spouse of the Canticles! Wbere spiritual love alone is indicated, accompanied by spiritual union with the divine Spouse, he can understand nothing but mere carval love! that Bossuet, the great adversary of even the most mitigated form of Quietism, was in reality a Quietist himself, merely because he wrote this commentary on the Canticle of Canticles! The berutiful devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus he perverts in the same vile way. (Page 112, seqq.) These are pretty fair specimens of his mind and heart, and of his reasoning.
He attempts to prove