THE ORIGINS OF CONTEMPORARY FRANCE, VOLUME 6
THE MODERN REGIME, VOLUME 2
by Hippolyte A. Taine
BOOK FIFTH. The Church.
Chapter I. Moral Institutions
Book Sixth. Public Instruction.
Chapter Iii. Evolution Between 1814 And 1890.
After Taine's death in March 1893, his nephew Andre Chevrillon arranged his last manuscripts on the Church and Education for publication and wrote the following introduction which also tells us much about Taine and his works
PREFACE By Andre Chevrillon.
"To treat of the Church, the School, and the Family, describe the modern milieu and note the facilities and obstacles which a society like our own encounters in this milieu, such was the program of the last section of the "Origins of Contemporary France." The preceding volume is a continuation of the first part of this program; after the commune and the department, after local societies, the author was to study moral and intellectual bodies in France as organized by Napoleon. This study completed, this last step taken, he was about to reach the summit. He was about to view France as a whole, to comprehend it no longer through a detail of its organs, in a state of formation, but its actual existence; no longer isolated, but plunged, along with other occidental nations, into the modern milieu, experiencing with them the effects of one general cause which changed the physical and intellectual condition of men; which dissolved sentiments formerly grouping them together, more or less capable at length of adapting themselves to new circumstances and of organizing according to a new type suited to the coming age that now opens before us.
Only a part of this last volume was written, that which relates to the Church and to public instruction. Death intervened and suddenly arrested the pen. M. Taine, at this moment, was about completing his analysis of subordinate societies in France.—For those who have followed him thus far it is already clear that the great defect of the French community is the fragmentation of the individuals, who isolated, dwindling, and prostrate at the feet of the all-powerful State, who, due to remote historical causes, and yet more so by modern legislation, have been made incapable of "spontaneously grouping around a common interest." Very probably—and of this we may judge by two sketches of a plan, undoubtedly provisional, but the ideas of which were long settled in his mind—M. Taine would have first described this legislation and defined its principles and general characteristics. He meant to show it more and more systematic, deliberately hostile to collective enterprise, considering secondary bodies not as "distinct, special organs," endowed with a life of their own, "maintained and stimulated by private initiation," but as agents of the State "which fashions them after a common pattern, imposes on them their form and prescribes their work."—This done, this defect pointed out, the author was to enumerate the consequences flowing from it, the social body entirely changed, "not only in its proportions but in its innermost texture," every tendency weakened by which individuals form groups that are to last longer than themselves, each man reduced to his own self, the egoistic instinct enhanced while the social instinct wastes away for want of nourishment, his daily imagination solely concerned with life-long aims, incapacitated for politics as he is "lacking spheres of action in which he may train himself according to his experiences and faculties", his mind weakening in idleness and boredom or in a thirst for pleasure and personal success,—in short, an organic impoverishment of all faculties of cohesion, leading to the destruction of the natural centers of grouping and, consequently, to political instability.
One association of special import remains, the most spontaneous, the deepest rooted, so old that all others derive from it, so essential that in any attack upon it we see even the substance of the social body decaying and diminishing. On the nature of the Family; on its profound physiological origins; on its necessary role in the prolongation and "perpetuation of the individual" by affording him "the sole remedy for death"; on its primitive constitution among men of our own race; on its historic organization and development "around the family home"; on the necessity of its subsistence and continuance in order to insure the duration of this home; on its other needs, M. Taine, with his knowledge of man and of his history, had given a good deal of thought to fundamental ideas analogous to those which he has consecrated to the classic spirit, to the origin of honor and conscience, to the essence of local society, so many stones, as it were, shaped by him from time to time and deeply implanted as the foundations of his criticism of institutions. Having set forth the proper character and permanent wants of the Family he was able to study the legislation affecting it, and, first, "the Jacobin laws on marriage, divorce, paternal authority and on the compulsory public education of children; next, the Napoleonic laws, those which still govern us, the Civil Code" with that portion of it in which the equality and leveling spirit is preserved, along with "its tendency to regard property as a means of enjoyment" instead of the starting-point and support of "an enduring institution."—Having exposed the system, M. Taine meant to consider its effects, those of surrounding institutions, and to describe the French family as it now exists. He had first studied the "tendency to marriage"; he had considered the motives which, in general, weaken or fortify it, and appreciated those now absent and now active in France. According to him, "the healthy ideal of every young man is to found a family, a house of infinite duration, to create and to rule." Why in modern France does he give his thoughts to "pleasure and of excelling in his career"? Why does he regard marriage "without enthusiasm, as a last measure, as a 'settling-down,' and not as a beginning, the commencement of a veritable career, subordinating all others to it and regarding these, pecuniary and professional, as auxiliary and as means?"—After the tendency to marriage, "the tendency to paternity." How does the shrunken family come to live only for itself? In what way, in default of other interests,—homestead, domain, workshop, lasting local undertakings,—how does the heart, now deprived of its food by the lack of invisible posterity, fall back on affection for visible progeny? In a country where there are few openings, where careers are overcrowded, what are the effects of this paid idolatry, and, to sum up in one phrase, in what way does the French system of to-day tend to develop the most fatal of results, the decline in the birth rate?
Here the study of institutions on a grand scale terminated. Formerly, M. Taine had contemplated a completion of his labors by a description of contemporary France, the product of origins scrutinized by him and of which he had traced the formation. Having disengaged his factors he meant to combine them, to show them united and acting in concert, all centering on the great actual facts which dominate the rest and which determine the order and structure of modern society. As he had given a picture of old France he aimed to portray France as it now is, with its various groups,—village, small town and large city,—with its categories of men, peasants, workmen, bourgeois, functionaries and capitalists; with the forces that impel each class along, their passions, their ideas, their desires. Besides the numerical statistics of person he meant to have set forth the moral statistics of souls. According to him, psychological conditions exist which render the social activity of men possible or impossible. And, especially, "in a given society, there is always a psychological state which provokes the state of that society." It was his aim to seek out in the novel, in poetry, in the arts since 1820, that is to say in all works that throw light on the various and successive kinds of the reigning ideal—in philosophy, in religion, in industry, in all branches of French action and thought—the signs of the psychological tendencies of modern Frenchman in this or that social condition. What would this book have been? M. Taine had sketched it out so far back, he had abandoned it for so long a time and never alluded to it, that nothing remains by which we can form any idea of it. But, in this undertaking demanding so much science, so much intuition, so much experience of accurate observation, of general views and precise generalization—in this vast study requiring such profound knowledge, not alone of France but of societies offering points of comparison with her, we may be certain that the author of Notes sur Paris, Notes sur l'Angleterre, of the Ancien Regime, the critic accustomed to interpret civilizations, literature and works of art, the thinker, in fine, who, to prepare himself for the greatest tasks he undertook, traveled five times over France, studying its life with the eyes of an artist, in the light of history and of psychology, ever preceding his philosophic study with visual investigation, would have been equal to the task.
Already for several years, M. Taine, aware that his time was short, had narrowed the limits of the work he was engaged upon. But what his work lost in breadth and in richness of detail it would have gained in depth and in power. All his master ideas would have been found in it, foreshortened and concentrated. Always seeking in this or that group of them what he called his generators, intellectual and moral as well as political, he would have described all those which explain the French group. Unfortunately, here again the elements are wanting which allow one to foreshadow what this final analysis and last construction might have been. M. Taine did not write in anticipation. Long before taking the pen in hand he had derived his most significant facts and formed his plan. He carried them in his brain where they fell into order of themselves. Ten lines of notes, a few memoranda of conversations—faint reflections, to us around him, of the great inward light—are all that enable one to attempt an indication of the few leading conceptions were to complete "Les Origines de la France Contemporaine."
"Le Milieu Moderne", was to have been the title of the last book. The question here is how to discover the great characteristics of the period into which European societies entered and about were to live. Rising to a higher point of view than that to which he had confined himself in studying France, M. Taine regarded its metamorphosis as a case of transformation as general as the passage of the Cite antique over to the Roman Empire over to the feudal State. Now, as formerly, this transformation is the effect of a "change in the intellectual and physical condition of men"; that is to say, in other words, in the environment that surrounds them. Such is the advent of a new geological period, of a glacial period, for example, or, more precisely, "the very slow and then accelerated upheaval of a continent, forcing the submarine species which breathe by gills to transform themselves into species which breathe by lungs." It is impossible to divine in what sense this adaptation takes place if we do not comprehend the event, that is to say if we do not perceive its starting-point and the innate force which produces it. According to Taine, this force, in the present case, is the progress the increasing authority of positive, verifiable science. What a definition he would have given of science and its essence! What a tableau of its progress, the man whose thought was matured at the moment when the scientific spirit entered into history and literature; who breathed it in his youth with the fervid and sacred enthusiasm of a poet seeing the world grow brighter and intelligible to him, and who, at the age of twenty-five, demanded of it a method and introduced this into criticism and psychology in order to give these new life—the mechanical equivalent of heat, natural selection, spectroscopic analysis, the theory of the microbes, recent discoveries in physics and the constitution of matter, research into historic origins, psychological explanation of texts, extension of oriental researches, discoveries of prehistoric conditions, comparative study of barbaric communities—every grand idea of the century to which he has himself contributed, all those by which science embraces a larger and larger portion of the universe, he saw them containing the same essence; all combining to change the conception of the world and substitute another, coherent and logical in the best minds, but then confused and disfigured as it slowly descends to the level of the crowd.—He would have described this decent, the gradual diffusion, the growing power of the new Idea, the active ferment which it contains after the manner of a dogma, beneficent or pernicious according to the minds in which it lodges, capable of arming men and of driving them on to pure destruction when not fully comprehended, and capable of reorganizing them if they can grasp its veritable meaning.
Its first effects are simply destructive, for, through Darwinism, through experimental psychology, through the physiology of the brain, through biblical exegesis, through the comparative study of savage communities and their moral systems, the new concepts at first shocks the religious idea which it tends to replace; even, with the half- cultivated and in the minds of novices, it tends to pure negation, to hostility against existing religions. To every social gathering around the religious idea that explains and sustains it, what a disturbance in the secular system formed by the co-ordination and mutual adaptation of laws, customs, morality, and institutions! What a rupture of the inward equilibrium which maintains man passive and tranquil! The consequent mental agitation will lead to agitation, impulsion, ambitions, lassitude, despondency, and disorder in all the sentiments which had thus far maintained every species of society, the family, the commune, the Church, free association and the State!—Now, along with the immediate effects of science on the intellectual habits of men consider the effects of its application to their material condition; at first, their increased well-being, their power increased, then the rupture of the ties that bind them to their birthplace, the concentration of masses of workmen in the towns to which they are attracted by great and rapid industrial development, the influx of new ideas, of every species of information, the gradual decline of the old hereditary prejudices of caste and parish which act automatically as instincts, and are useful as instincts to the small groups in which the individual is born and in which he lives. How could such a profound change in the condition of humanity fail to undermine everywhere the order of things which group men together? Why should not the new milieu at once attack all ancient forms of society? For, at the moment of its establishment, there exists in Europe a general form of society manifest through features in common; a monarchy—hereditary royalty, dynastic but frequently limited, at least in fact,—a privileged nobility performing military service as a special function, a clergy organized as a Church, proprietary and more or less privileged, local or special bodies also proprietary— provinces, communes, universities, brotherhoods, corporations—laws and customs which base the family on paternal authority, perpetuating it on the natal soil and by social rank; in brief, institutions which modern ideas disturb in every direction, the first effect of which is, while developing the spirit of doubt and investigation, to break down subordination to the king, to the gentleman, to the noble, and, in general, to dissolve society founded on heredity. Such phenomena are already observable everywhere, the ruin of feeble corporations by the state, its constant tendency to interference, to the absorption of every special service and the descent of power into the hands of a numerical majority.—What plan, then, governs these societies in the way of reorganization, and, since they all belong to a common type, what are the common resources and difficulties of adaptation? On what lines must the metamorphosis be effected in order to arrive at a viable creations? And, abandoning the general problem in order to return to contemporary France, grown up and organized under our own eyes, how does the great modern event affect it? How does "this common factor combine with special factors, permanent and temporary," belong to our system? With the French, whose hereditary spirit and character are easily defined, in this society founded on Napoleonic institutions moved by our "administrative mechanism," what are the peculiar tendencies of a leveling democracy which seeks immediate establishment? Among the maladies which are special with us—feeble birth-rate, political instability, absence of local life, slow industrial and commercial development, despondency and pessimism—can an aptitude for transformation which we do not possess be distinguished in the sense demanded by the new milieu? The knowledge we have of our origins, of our psychology, of our present constitution, of our circumstances, what hopes are warranted?
M. Taine could not have replied to all these questions. If, twenty years ago, on the morrow after our disasters, just as we once more set about a new organization, putting aside literature, art, and philosophy, noble contemplation and pure speculation, abandoning works already projected, he gave himself up to the technical study of law, political economy and administrative history; if, for twenty years, he secluded himself and devoted himself to his task—at what a cost of prolonged effort, with what a strain his mental faculties, with what weariness and often with what dissatisfaction!—if he shortened his life, it was to discharge what he deemed a duty to that suffering France which he loved with tender and silent passion, the duty of aiding in her cure by establishing the general diagnosis which a philosopher-historian was warranted in presenting after a profound study of its vital constitution. The examination finished, he felt that he had a right to offer the diagnosis. Not that his modesty permitted him to foretell the future or to dictate reforms. When his opinion was asked in relation to any reform he generally declined giving it. "I am merely a consulting physician," he would reply; "I do not possess sufficient details on that particular question—I am not sufficiently familiar with circumstances which vary from day to day." In effect, according to him, there is no general principle from which one can deduce a series of reforms. On the contrary, his first recommendation would have been not to try to find simple solutions in political and social matters, but to proceed by experiments, according to temperaments, and accepting the irregular and the incomplete.—One becomes resigned to this course by a study of history and by acquiring "the sense of surrounding facts and developments." Here do we find the general remedy for the destructive effects produced by the brusque progress of science, and she herself furnishes this remedy, when, from the hasty and the theoretical, she becomes experimental and builds on the observation of facts and their relations. "Through psychological narration, through the analysis of psychological conditions which have produced, maintained, or modified this or that institution, we may find a partial solution to each question of reform," gradually discovering laws and establishing the general conditions that render possible or impossible any given project. When constituted and then developed, reorganized, respected and applied to human affairs, the sciences of humanity may become a new instrument of power and civilization, and, just as the natural sciences have taught us to derive profit from physical forces, they may teach us to benefit by moral forces. M. Taine believed that the French were very well qualified for this order of study: if any other people possess superior mental faculties in respect of memory or a better knowledge of philology, he thought we had in our favor a superiority of the psychological sense.
Except for such beneficial generalities which may provide general hygienic guidelines, could M. Taine have suggested immediate remedies? It is scarcely probable. In any even, he was not a partisan for hasty decentralization. When, under the influence of a bad system, an organization has contracted a vice that reaches its vital organs, the following treatment nearly becomes mandatory; in any event, no sudden modification of it must be thought of; all that can be done is to lessen its pernicious effect by resorting to make-shift or short term measures. Taking advantage of unforeseen circumstances, using great circumspection, noting favorable symptoms that had impressed him—for example a certain new birth of the spirit of association under the Third Republic—leaving to political authorities the care "of adjusting means" to the diversity and mobility of things, we may believe that M. Taine would have confined himself to indicating in what sense we could, with prudence, lay our course. To do this, it sufficed for him to sum up his diagnosis and lay down the conditions of duration and progress. In a matter of such vital import nobody can speak for him. Accordingly, if the conclusion is not written, whoever knows how to read his thought may divine it. The work, such as it is, is finished; it already contains his ideas in full; the intelligent eye has only to follow them and to note their consequences and combination.
Menthon, St-Bernard, October, 1893.
BOOK FIFTH. THE CHURCH.
CHAPTER I. MORAL INSTITUTIONS
I. Napoleon's Objectives.
Centralization and moral institutions—Object of the State in absorbing Churches.—Their influence on civil society.
After the centralizing and invading State has taken hold of local societies there is nothing left for it but to cast its net over moral societies, and this second haul is more important than the first one; for, if local societies are based on the proximity of physical bodies and habitations, the latter are formed out of the accord which exists between minds and souls; in possessing these, the hold is no longer on the outside but on the inside of man, his thought, his will; the incentive within is laid hold of, and this directly; then only can he be fully mastered, and disposed of at discretion. To this end, the main purpose of the conquering State is the possession of the Churches; alongside as well as outside of itself, these are the great powers of the nation; not only does their domain differ from its own but, again it is vaster and lies deeper. Beyond the temporal patrimony and the small fragment of human history which the eyes of the flesh perceive, they embrace and present to mental vision the whole world and its first cause, the total ordinance of things, the infinite perspective of a past eternity and that of an eternity to come. Underneath the corporeal and intermittent actions which civil power prescribes and regulates, they govern the imagination, the conscience and the affections, the whole inward being, that mute, persistent effort of which our visible acts are simply the incomplete expressions and rare outbursts. Indeed, even when they set limits to these, voluntarily, conscientiously, there is no limit; in vain do they proclaim, if Christian, that their kingdom is not of this world; nevertheless, it is, since they belong to it; masters of dogma and of morals, they teach and command in it. In their all-embracing conception of divine and human things, the State, like a chapter in a book, has its place and their teachings in this chapter are for it of capital importance. For, here do they write out its rights and duties, the rights and duties of its subjects, a more or less perfect plan of civil order. This plan, avowed or dissimulated, towards which they incline the preferences of the faithful, issues at length, spontaneously and invincible from their doctrine, like a plant from its seed, to vegetate in temporal society, flower and fructify therein and send its roots deeper down for the purpose of shattering or of consolidating civil and political institutions. The influence of a Church on the family and on education, on the use of wealth or of authority, on the spirit of obedience or of revolt, on habits of initiation or of inertia, of enjoyment or of abstention, of charity or of egoism, on the entire current train of daily practice and of dominant impulses, in every branch of private or public life, is immense, and constitutes a distinct and permanent social force of the highest order. Every political calculation is unsound if it is omitted or treated as something of no consequence, and the head of a State is bound to comprehend the nature of it if he would estimate its grandeur.
II. Napoleon's opinions and methods.
Napoleon's opinions on religion and religious belief.—His motives in preferring established and positive religions. —Difficulty in defining the limit between spiritual and temporal authority.—Except in Catholic countries, both united in one hand.—Impossible to effect this union in France arbitrarily.—Napoleon's way of attaining this end by another process.—His intention of overcoming spiritual authority through temporal interests.
This is what Napoleon does. As usual with him, in order to see deeper into others, he begins by examining himself:
"To say from whence I came, what I am, or where I am going, is above my comprehension. I am the watch that runs, but unconscious of itself."
These questions, which we are unable to answer,
"drive us onward to religion; we rush forward to welcome her, for that is our natural tendency. But knowledge comes and we stop short. Instruction and history, you see, are the great enemies of religion, disfigured by the imperfections of humanity.... I once had faith. But when I came to know something, as soon as I began to reason, which happened early, at the age of thirteen, my faith staggered and became uncertain."
This double personal conviction is in the back-ground of his thinking, when he drafted the Concordat:
"It will be said that I am a papist. I am nothing. In Egypt I was a Moslem; here I shall be a Catholic, for the good of the people. I do not believe in religions. The idea of a God!" (And then, pointing upward:) "Who made all that?"
Imagination has already decorated this great name with its legends. Let us content ourselves with those already existing; "the restlessness of man" is such that he cannot do without them; in default of those already made he would fashion others, haphazard, and still more strange. The positive religions keep man from going astray; it is these which render the supernatural definite and precise; "he had better catch it there than pick it up at Mademoiselle Lenormand's, or with some fortune-teller or a passing charlatan." An established religion
"is a kind of vaccination which, in satisfying our love of the marvelous, protects us against quacks and sorcerers; the priests are far better than the Cagliostros, Kants, and the rest of the German mystics."
In sum illuminism and metaphysics, speculative inventions of the brain or of a contagious overexcitement of the nervous system, all these illusions of gullible men, are basically unhealthy, and, in general, anti-social. Nevertheless, since they are part of human nature, let us accept them like so many streams tumbling down a slope, but on condition that they remain in their own beds and that they have many but no new ones and never one bed alone for itself.
"I do not want a dominant religion, nor the establishment of new ones. The Catholic, Reformed, and Lutheran systems, established by the Concordat, are sufficient."
Their direction and force are intelligible, and their irruptions can be guarded against. Moreover, the present inclinations and configurations of the human soil favor them; the child follows the road marked out by the parent, and the man follows the road marked out when a child.
"Listen, last Sunday, here at Malmaison, while strolling alone in the solitude enjoying the repose of nature, my ear suddenly caught the sound of the church-bell at Rueil. I was moved, so strong is the force of early habits and education! I said to myself, What an impression this must make on simple, credulous people!"
Let us gratify them; let us give back these bells and the rest to the Catholics. After all, the general effect of Christianity is beneficial.
"As far as I am concerned, I do not see in it the mystery of the incarnation, but the mystery of social order, the association of religion with paradise, an idea of equality which keeps the rich from being massacred by the poor."
"Society could not exist without an inequality of fortunes, and an inequality of fortunes without religion. A man dying of starvation alongside of one who has abundance would not yield to this difference unless he had some authority which assured him that God so orders it that there must be both poor and rich in the world, but that in the future, and throughout eternity, the portion of each will be changed."
Alongside of the repressive police exercised by the State there is a preventive police exercised by the Church. The clergy, in its cassock, is an additional spiritual gendarmerie, much more efficient than the temporal gendarmerie in its stout boots, while the essential thing is to make both keep step together in concert.
Between the two domains, between that which belongs to civil authority and that which belongs to religious authority, is there any line of separation?
"I look in vain where to place it; its existence is purely chimerical. I see only clouds, obscurities, difficulties. The civil government condemns a criminal to death; the priest gives him absolution and offers him paradise."
In relation to this act, both powers operate publicly in an inverse sense on the same individual, one with the guillotine and the other with a pardon. As these authorities may clash with each other, let us prevent conflicts and leave no undefined frontier; let us trace this out beforehand; let us indicate what our part is and not allow the Church to encroach on the State.—The Church rally wants all; it is the accessory which she concedes to us, while she appropriates the principal to herself.
"Mark the insolence of the priests who, in sharing authority with what they call the temporal power, reserve to themselves all action on the mind, the noblest part of man, and take it on themselves to reduce my part merely to physical action. They retain the soul and fling me the corpse!"
In antiquity, things were much better done, and are still better done now in Moslem countries.
"In the Roman republic, the senate was the interpreter of heaven, and this was the incentive of the force and strength of that government. In Turkey, and throughout the Orient, the Koran serves as both a civil and religious bible. Only in Christianity do we find the pontificate distinct from the civil government."
And even this has occurred only in one branch of Christianity. Everywhere, except in Catholic countries,
"in England, in Russia, in the northern monarchies, in one part of Germany, the legal union of the two powers, the religious control in the hands of the sovereign, 'is an accomplished fact.' One cannot govern without it; otherwise, the repose, dignity, and independence of a nation are disturbed at every moment."
It is a pity that "the difficulty cannot be overcome as with Henry VIII. in England. The head of the French government would then, by legislative statute, be the supreme head of the French Church."
Unfortunately, this is repugnant to France. Napoleon often tries to bring it about, but is satisfied that in this matter "he would never obtain national cooperation"; once embarked," fully engaged in the enterprise, "the nation would have abandoned him." Unable to take this road, he takes another, which leads to the same result. As he himself afterwards states, this result "was, for a long time and always, the object of his wishes and mediations.... It is not his aim to change the faith of his people; he respects spiritual objects and wants to rule them without meddling with them; his aim is to make these square with his views, with his policy, but only through the influence of temporal concerns." That spiritual authority should remain intact; that it should operate on its own speculative domain, that it to say, on dogmas, and on its practical domain, namely, on the sacraments and on worship; that is should be sovereign on this limited territory, Napoleon admits, for such is the fact. We have only to open our eyes to see it; right or wrong, spiritual authority on this distinct domain is recognized sovereign, obeyed, effective through the persistent, verified loyalty of believers. It cannot be done away with by supposing it non-existent; on the contrary, a competent statesman will maintain it in order to make use of it and apply it to civil purposes. Like an engineer who comes across a prolific spring near his factory, he will not try to dry it up, nor let the water be dispersed and lost; he has no idea of letting it remain inactive; on the contrary, he collects it, digs channels for it, directs and economizes the flow, and renders the water serviceable in his workshops. In the Catholic Church, the authority to be won and utilized is that of the clergy over believers and that of the sovereign pontiff over the clergy.
"You will see," exclaimed Bonaparte, while negotiating the Concordat, "how I will turn the priests to account, and, first of all, the Pope!"
III. Dealing with the Pope.
Services which he obliges the Pope to render.—Resignation or dismissal of the old bishops.—End of the constitutional Church.—Right of appointing bishops and of sanctioning cures given to the First Consul.
"Had no Pope existed," he says again, "it would have been necessary to create him for the occasion, in the same way that the Roman consuls appointed a dictator for difficult circumstances." Only such a dictator could effect the coup d'etat which the First Consul needed, in order to constitute the head of the new government a patron of the Catholic Church, to bring independent or refractory priests under subjection, to sever the canonical cord which bound the French clergy to its exiled superiors and to the old order of things, "to break the last thread by which the Bourbons still communicated with the country." "Fifty emigre bishops in the pay of England now lead the French clergy. Their influence must be got rid of, and to do this the authority of the Pope is essential; he can dismiss or make them resign." Should any of them prove obstinate and unwilling to descend from their thrones, their refusal brings them into discredit, and they are "designated as rebels who prefer the things of this world, their terrestrial interests to the interests of heaven and the cause of God." The great body of the clergy along with their flocks will abandon them; they will soon be forgotten, like old sprouts transplanted whose roots have been cut off; they will die abroad, one by one, while the successor, who is now in office, will find no difficulty in rallying the obedient around him, for, being Catholic, his parishioners are so many sheep, docile, taken with externals, impressionable, and ready to follow the pastoral croisier, provided it bears the ancient trademark, consists of the same material, is of the same form, conferred from on high and sent from Rome. The bishops having once been consecrated by the Pope, nobody save a Gregory or some antiquarian canonist will dispute their jurisdiction.
The ecclesiastical ground is thus cleared through the interposition of the Pope. The three groups of authorities thereon which contend with each other for the possession of consciences—the refugee bishops in England, the apostolic vicars, and the constitutional clergy— disappear, and now the cleared ground can be built on. "The Catholic religion being declared that of the majority of the French people, its services must now be regulated. The First Consul nominates fifty bishops whom the Pope consecrates. These appoint the cures, and the state pays their salaries. The latter may be sworn, while the priests who do not submit are sent out of the country. Those who preach against the government are handed over to their superiors for punishment. The Pope confirms the sale of clerical possessions; he consecrates the Republic." The faithful no longer regard it askance. They feel that they are not only tolerated, but protected by it, and they are grateful. The people recover their churches, their cures, the forms of worship to which they are almost instinctively accustomed, the ceremonial which, to their imagination, belongs to every important act of their lives, the solemn rites of marriage, baptism, burial, and other sacramental offices.—Henceforth mass is said every Sunday in each village, and the peasants enjoy their processions on Corpus-Christi day, when their crops are blessed. A great public want is satisfied. Discontent subsides, ill-will dies out, the government has fewer enemies; its enemies, again, lose their best weapon, and, at the same time, it acquires an admirable one, the right of appointing bishops and of sanctioning the cures. By virtue of the Concordat and by order of the Pope, not only, in 1801, do all former spiritual authorities cease to exist, but again, after 1801, all new titularies, with the Pope's assent, chosen, accepted, managed, disciplined, and paid by the First Consul, are, in fact, his creatures, and become his functionaries.
IV. The Pope, Napoleon's employee.
Other services expected of the Pope.—Coronation of Napoleon at Notre-Dame.—Napoleonic theory of the Empire and the Holy See.—The Pope a feudatory and subject of the Emperor. —The pope installed as a functionary at Paris, and arch-chancellor on spiritual matters.—Effect of this for Italy.
Over and above this positive and real service obtained from the sovereign pontiff, he awaits others yet more important and undefined, and principally his future coronation in Notre Dame. Already, during the negotiations for the Concordat, La Fayette had observed to him with a smile: "You want the holy oil dropped on your head"; to which he made no contradictory answer. On the contrary, he replied, and probably too with a smile: "We shall see! We shall see!" Thus does he think ahead, and his ideas extend beyond that which a man belonging to the ancient regime could imagine or divine, even to the reconstruction of the empire of the west as this existed in the year 800. "I am not Louis XIV.'s successor," he soon declares, "but of Charlemagne.... I am Charlemagne, because, like Charlemagne, I unite the French crown to that of the Lombards, and my empire borders on the Orient." In this conception, which a remote history furnishes to his boundless ambition, the terrible antiquitarian finds the gigantic and suitable framework, the potent, specious terms, and all the verbal reasons he requires. Under Napoleon, the successor of Charlemagne, the Pope can be only a vassal: "Your Holiness is the sovereign of Rome, but I am its emperor," the legitimate suzerain. "Provided with "fiefs and counties" by this suzerain, the Pope owes him political fealty and military aid; failing in this, the endowment, which is conditional, lapses and his confiscated estates return to the imperial domain to which they have never ceased to belong. Through this reasoning and this threat, through the rudest and most adroit moral and physical pressure, the most insidious and most persevering, through spoliation, begun, continued and completed by the abduction, captivity and sequestration of the Holy Father himself, he undertakes the subjection of the spiritual power: not only must the Pope be like any other individual in the empire, subject by his residence to territorial laws, and hence to the government and the gendarmerie, but again he must come within the administrative lines; he will no longer enjoy the right of refusing canonical investiture to bishops appointed by the emperor, "he will, on his coronation, swear not to take any measures against the four propositions of the Gallican Church," he will become a grand functionary, a sort of arch-chancellor like Cambaceres and Lebrun, the arch chancellor of the Catholic cult.—Undoubtedly, he resists and is obstinate, but he is not immortal, and if he does not yield, his successor will: it suffices to choose one that is manageable, and to this end things work in the next conclave.
"With my influence and our forces in Italy," Napoleon says afterwards, "I did not despair, sooner or later, by one means or another, of obtaining for myself the control of the Pope, and, thenceforward, what an influence, what a lever on the opinion of the rest of the world!"
"Had I returned victorious from Moscow, I intended to exalt the Pope beyond measure, to surround him with pomp and deference. I would have brought him to no longer regretting his temporality; I would have made him an idol. He would have lived alongside of me. Paris would have become the capital of Christendom, and I would have governed the religious world the same as the political world.... I would have had my religious as well as legislative sessions; my councils would have represented Christianity; the Popes would have been merely their presidents. I would have opened and closed these assemblies, sanctioned and published their decrees, as was done by Constantine and Charlemagne." In 1809, the restoration of the great Carlovingian and Roman edifice had begun; its physical foundations were laid. By virtue of a decree, "the expenses of the Sacred College and of the Propaganda were declared imperial." The Pope, like the new dukes and marshals, was endowed with a landed income on "property in different parts of the empire, two millions of rural revenue free of all taxation. "Necessarily" the Pope must have two palaces, one at Paris and the other at Rome. He is already nearly fully installed in Paris, his person being all that was lacking. On arriving from Fontainebleau, two hours off, he would find everything belonging to his office; "the papers of the missions and the archives of Rome were already there." "The Hotel Dieu was entirely given up to the departments of the court of Rome. The district around Notre Dame and the Ile Saint-Louis was to be the headquarters of Christendom!" Rome, the second center of Christendom, and the second residence of the Pope, is declared "an imperial and free city, the second city of the empire"; a prince of the empire, or other grand dignitary, is to reside there and "hold the court of the emperor." "After their coronation in the cathedral of Notre Dame at Paris, the emperors" will go to Italy before the tenth year of their reign, and be "crowned in the church of St. Peter at Rome." The heir to the imperial throne "will bear the title and receive the honors of the King of Rome." Observe the substantial features of this chimerical construction. Napoleon, far more Italian than French, Italian by race, instinct, imagination, and souvenirs, considers in his plan the future of Italy, and, on casting up the final accounts of his reign, we find that the net profit is for Italy and the net loss is for France. "Napoleon wanted to create the Italian kingdom over again, combining Piedmont, Tuscany, etc., in one united independent nation, bounded by the Alps and the sea.... This was to be the immortal trophy erected in his honor.... He awaited impatiently the birth of a second son that he might take him to Rome, crown him King of Italy and proclaim the independence of the great peninsula under the regency of Prince Eugene." Since Theodoric and the Lombard kings, it is the Pope who, in preserving his temporal sovereignty and spiritual omnipotence, has maintained the sub-divisions of Italy; let this obstacle be removed and Italy will once more become a nation. Napoleon prepares the way, and constitutes it beforehand by restoring the Pope to his primitive condition, by withdrawing from him his temporal sovereignty and limiting his spiritual omnipotence, by reducing him to the position of managing director of Catholic consciences and head minister of the principal cult authorized in the empire.
V. State domination of all religion.
Services which Napoleon desires or expects from the French clergy.—His Roman idea of civil power.—Development of this conception by the jurists.—Every religious association must be authorized.—Legal statutes which fix the doctrine and discipline of the four authorized Churches.—Legal organization of the Catholic Church.—Its doctrine and discipline to be that of the old Gallican Church.—New situation of the French Church and new role of civil power. —It sets aside its ancient obligations.—It retains and augments its regalian rights.—The Church of France before 1789 and after 1802.—Increased preponderance and complete dominion of the civil power.
In carrying out this plan, he will use the French clergy in mastering the Pope, as the Pope has been made use of in mastering the French clergy. To this end, before completing the Concordat and decreeing the Organic Articles, he orders for himself a small library, consisting of books on ecclesiastical law. The Latin works of Bossuet are translated for him, and he has drawn up an exposition of the Gallican parliamentary doctrine. The first thing is to go down to the roots of the subject, which he does with extraordinary facility, and then, recasting and shaping all theories to suit himself, he arrives at an original, individual conception, at once coherent, precise, and practical; one which covers the Caesar and which he applies alike to all churches, Catholic, Lutheran, Calvinist, and even Jewish, to every religious community now existing and in time to come. His master-idea is that of the Roman legists and of ancient imperial jurisprudence; here, as elsewhere, the modern Caesar goes back beyond his Christian predecessors to Constantine, and farther still, to Trajan and Augustus. So long as belief remains silent and solitary, confined within the limits of individual conscience, it is free, and the State has nothing to do with it. But let it transgress these limits, address the public, bring people together in crowds for a common purpose, manifest itself openly, it is subject to control; forms of worship, ceremonies, preaching, instruction and propaganda, the donations it calls forth, the assemblies it convenes, the organization and maintenance of the bodies it engenders, all the positive applications of the inward reverie, are temporal works. In this sense, they form a province of the public domain, and come within the competency of the government, of the administration and of the courts. The State has a right to interdict, to tolerate, or to authorize them, and always to give them proper direction. Sole and universal proprietor of the outward realm in which single consciences may communicate with each other, it intervenes, step by step, either to trace or to bar the way; the road they follow passes over its ground and belongs to it; its watch, accordingly, over their proceedings is, and should be, daily; and it maintains this watch for its own advantage, for the advantage of civil and political interests, in such a way that concern for the other world may be serviceable and not prejudicial to matters which belong to this one. In short, and as a summary, the First Consul says, in a private conversation:
"The people want a religion, and this religion should be in the hands of the government!"
On this theme, his jurists, old parliamentarians or conventionalists, his ministers and counselors, Gallicans or Jacobins, his spokesmen in the legislative assembly or the tribunate, all imbued with Roman law or with the Contrat Social are capital megaphones for proclaiming the omnipotence of the State in polished sentences. "The unity of public power and its universality," says Portalis, "are a necessary consequence of its independence." "Public power must be self-sufficient; it is nothing if not all..." Public power cannot tolerate rivals; it cannot allow other powers to establish themselves alongside of it without its consent, perhaps to sap and weaken it. "The authority of a State might become precarious if men on its territory exercise great influence over minds and consciences, unless these men belong to it, at least in some relation." It is careless "if it remains unfamiliar or indifferent to the form and the constitution of the government which proposes to govern souls," if it admits that the limits within which the faith and obedience of believers "can be made or altered without its support, if it has not, in its legally recognized and avowed superiors, guarantees of the fidelity of inferiors." Such was the rule in France for the Catholic cult previous to 1789, and such is to be the rule, after 1801, for all authorized cults. If the State authorizes them, it is "to direct such important institutions with a view to the greatest public utility." Solely because it is favorable to "their doctrine and their discipline" it means to maintain these intact and prevent "their ministers from corrupting the doctrine entrusted to their teaching, or from arbitrarily throwing off the yoke of discipline, to the great prejudice of individuals and the State." Hence, in the legal statute by which a Church is incorporated and realizes what she is, it states in precise terms what it exacts or permits her to be; henceforward she shall be this or that and so remain; her dogmas and her canons, her hierarchy and her internal regime, her territorial subdivisions and circumscriptions, her regular or casual sources of income, her teachings and her liturgy are definite things and fixed limitations. No ecclesiastical assembly, Protestant, Catholic, or Israelite, shall formulate or publish any doctrinal or disciplinary decision without the government's approbation. No ecclesiastical assembly, Protestant, Catholic, or Israelite, shall be held without the approval of the government. All sacerdotal authorities, bishops and cures, pastors and ministers of both Protestant confessions, consistorial inspectors and presidents of the Augsbourg Confession, notables of each Israelite circumscription, members of each Israelite consistory, members of the central Israelite consistory, rabbis and grand-rabbis, shall be appointed or accepted by the government and paid by it through an executory" decision of its prefects. All the professors of Protestant or Catholic seminaries shall be appointed and paid by the government. Whatever the seminary, whether Protestant or Catholic, its establishment, its regulations, its internal management, the object and spirit of its studies, shall be submitted to the approval of the government. In each cult, a distinct, formulated, official doctrine shall govern the teaching, preaching, and public or special instruction of every kind; this, for the Israelite cult, is" the doctrine expressed by the decisions of the grand Sanhedrin"; for the two Protestant cults, the doctrine of the Confession of Augsbourg, taught in the two seminaries of the East, and the doctrine of the Reformed Church taught in the Genevan seminary; for the Catholic cult, the maxims of the Gallican Church, the declaration, in 1682, of the assembly of the clergy and the four famous propositions depriving the Pope of any authority over sovereigns in temporal matters, subordinating the Pope to ecumenical councils in ecclesiastical and spiritual concerns, and which, in the government of the French Church, limit the authority of the Pope to ancient usages or canons inherited by that Church and accepted by the State.
In this way, the ascendancy of the State, in ecclesiastical matters, increases beyond all measure and remains without any counterpoise. Instead of one Church, it maintains four, while the principal one, the Catholic, comprising 33 million followers, and more dependent than under the old monarchy, loses the privileges which once limited or compensated it for its subjection.—Formerly the prince was its temporal head, on condition that he should be its exterior arm, that it should have the monopoly of education and the censorship of books, that he should use his strong arm against heretics, schismatics and free-thinkers. Of all these obligations which kings accepted, the new sovereign frees himself, and yet, with the Holy See, he holds on to the same prerogatives and, with the Church, the same rights as his predecessors. He is just as minutely dictatorial as formerly with regard to the details of worship. Sometimes he fixes the fees and perquisites of the priests for administering the sacraments: "This charge is a purely civil and temporal operation, since it resolves itself into a levy of so many pence on the citizen. Bishops and priests should not be allowed to decide here. The government alone must remain the arbiter between the priest who receives and the person who pays." Sometimes, he intervenes in the publication of plenary indulgence: "It is essential that indulgences should not be awarded for causes which might be contrary to public order or to the welfare of the country; the political magistrate is equally interested in knowing what the authority is that grants indulgences; if its title to act is legal, to what persons indulgences are granted, what persons are entrusted with their distribution, and what persons are to fix the term and duration of extraordinary prayers."—Thus bound and held by the State, the Church is simply one of its appendices, for its own free roots by which, in this close embrace, it still vegetates and keeps erect have all been cut off short; torn from the soil and grafted on the State, they derive their sap and their roots from the civil powers. Before 1789, the clergy formed a distinct order in temporal society and, above all others, a body possessing property and exempt from taxes, a tax-payer apart which, represented in periodical assemblies, negotiated every five years with the King himself, granted him subsidies and, in exchange for this "disinterested gift," secured for itself concessions or confirmations of immunities, prerogatives and favors. Today, it is merely a collection of ordinary individuals and subjects, even less than that—an administrative staff similar to that of the university, of the magistrature, of the treasury, and of the woods and forests, even more closely watched and bridled, with more detailed precautions and stricter interdictions. Before 1789, the cures and other second-class officials were, for the most part, selected and installed without the prince's intervention, sometimes by the bishop of the diocese or a neighboring abbe, sometimes by independent collators, by the titular himself, by a lay patron or a chapter, by a commune, by an indultaire, by the pope, while the salary of each titular, large or small, was his private property, the annual product of a piece of land or of some indebtedness attached to his office and which he administered. Nowadays, every incumbent, from the cardinal-archbishop down to a canon, cantonal cure, and director or teacher in a seminary, is appointed or accepted by the civil power to which he swears fidelity. His salary, set down in the budget, is simply that of a public employee, so many francs and centimes for which he comes monthly to the office of the treasury paymaster, along with others of his colleagues who are employed by the State in non-Catholic cults, together with others, his quasi-colleagues, whom the State employs in the university, in the magistrature, in the gendarmerie, and in the police. Such, in all branches of social life, is the universal and final effect of the Revolution. In the Church, as elsewhere, it has extended the interference and preponderance of the State, not inadvertently but intentionally, not accidentally but on principle. "The Constituent" (Assembly), says Simeon, "had rightly recognized that, religion being one of the oldest and most powerful means of government, it was necessary to bring it more than it had been under the control of the government." Hence, the civil constitution of the clergy; "its only mistake was not to reconcile itself with the Pope." At present, thanks to the agreement between Pope and government (Napoleon, First Consul), the new regime completes the work of the ancient regime and, in the Church as elsewhere, the domination of the centralizing State is complete.
VI. Napoleon Executes the Concordat.
Reasons for suppressing the regular clergy.—Authorized religious associations.—The authorization revocable.
These are the grand lines of the new ecclesiastical establishment, and the general connections by which the Catholic Church, like an apartment in a building, finds itself included in and incorporated with the State. It need not disconnect itself under the pretext of making itself more complete; there it is, built and finished; it cannot add to or go beyond this; no collateral and supplementary constructions are requisite which, through their independence, would derange the architectural whole, no monastic congregations, no body of regular clergy; the secular clergy suffices. "Never has it been contested that the public power had the right to dissolve arbitrary institutions which do not insist on the essence of religion and which are judged suspicious or troublesome to the State." As a principle, all religious communities should be judged in this way; for they are spontaneous bodies; they form their own organization, and without the aid of the State, through the free will of their members; they live apart, according to the proper and peculiar statute which they adopt, outside of lay society, alongside of the established Church, under distinct chiefs chosen by themselves, sometimes under foreign ones, all more or less independent, all, through interest and by instinct, gathered around the Holy See, which, against diocesan authority and episcopal jurisdiction, serves them as protector. Formerly, the monks formed the Pope's militia; they recognized no other sovereign, and thus were they more to be feared by governments than the secular clergy. The latter, without them, "would never have caused embarrassment;" henceforth there will be no other body. "I want bishops, cures, vicars, and that's all! Religious communities have been allowed to re-establish themselves against my instructions;—I am informed that, at Beauvais, the Jesuits have formed establishments under the name of the Fathers of Faith. It should not be allowed"—and he prohibits it by decree. He dissolves "all associations formed under the pretext of religion and unauthorized." He decides that, in future, "no aggregation or association of men or of women shall be formed under pretext of religion unless formally authorized;" he enjoins the prosecuting attorneys of his courts "to prosecute even by extra proceedings all persons of both sexes who directly or indirectly violate this decree." He reserves to himself, however, the faculty of authorizing communities by which he can profit, and, in fact, he authorizes several of these as instruments which society needs, or which are useful to the State, especially nursing or teaching sisters of charity, the brethren of Christian schools, and, first in rank, the Lazarists and the Fathers of foreign missions. "These monks," he says, will be of great service in Asia, in Africa, and in America. I will send them to procure information on the state of the country. Their robe protects them, while it is a cover to political and commercial designs.... I will allow them a capital to start with of 15,000 francs rental.... They cost little, are respected by savages, and, having no official character, can not compromise the government." Moreover, "religious zeal leads them to undertake work and to face perils which are beyond the strength of a civil agent."—Of course, as they are "secret diplomatic agents," the government must keep them in hand and direct them. Consequently, "their superior must no longer reside in Rome, but at Paris." The same precaution is taken with reference to other congregations, which, in teaching or in charity, become regular auxiliaries of the lay power. "The general-superior of the Sisters of Charity will live in Paris; the entire body will then be in the hands of the government." As to the brethren of the Christian schools, Napoleon absorbs these in his university. "They must be licensed by the grand-master, who will certify to their internal regulations, accept their oaths, prescribe a special costume, and superintend their schools." Observe the exigencies of the government at this point, its measures for controlling the religious orders authorized by it. Abbe Hanon, the common superior of the Sisters of Saint-Vincent de Paul, having refused to place Madame Laetitia (Napoleon's mother) at the head of the council of the order, is carried off at night and shut up at Fenestrelles, while the Sisters, who, following the instructions of their founder, refuse to recognize a superior appointed by the civil power, are treated in the same manner as formerly the nuns of Port-Royal.
"It is time to put an end to this scandal of the Sisters of Charity in rebellion against their superiors. It is my intention to suppress all the houses which, in twenty-four hours after the notice you give them, do not return to subordination. You will replace the houses suppressed, not by Sisters of the same order, but by those of another order of charity. The Sisters at Paris will lose their influence, which will be a good thing."
Whatever the communities may be, the authorization by which they organize is merely a favor, and every favor granted may be withdrawn.
"I will have no more missions of any kind. I established missionaries in Paris and gave them a house: I cancel it all. I am content with religion at home; I do not care to spread it abroad... . I make you responsible if (in a month from this) on the first of October there are any missions or congregations still existing in France."—
Thus does the regular clergy live, under a revocable title, by toleration, despotically, suspended by a thread which, perhaps to- morrow, may be cut at the masters pleasure.
VII. System to which the regular clergy is subject.
System to which the regular clergy is subject.—Restoration and application of Gallican doctrines.—Gallicanism and submission of the new ecclesiastical staff.—Measures taken to insure the obedience of the existing clergy and that of the clergy in the future.—Seminaries.—Small number of these allowed.—Conditions granted to them.—Proceedings against suspicious teachers and undisciplined pupils.
The secular clergy remains, better protected, it seems, and by a less precarious statute, for this statute is an international and diplomatic act, a solemn and bilateral treaty which binds the French government, not only to itself but to another government, to an independent sovereign and the recognized head of the whole Catholic Church.—Consequently, it is of prime importance to rebuild and raise higher the barriers which, in ancient France, separated the secular clergy from the Pope, the customs and regulations which constituted the Gallican Church a province apart in the Church universal, the ecclesiastic franchises and servitudes which restricted the Pope's jurisdiction in order that the jurisdiction of the king might be extended. All these servitudes to the advantage of the lay sovereign, and all these franchises to the prejudice of the ecclesiastic sovereign, are maintained and increased by the new statute. By virtue of the Concordat and by consent of the Pope, the First Consul acquires the same rights and privileges in relation to the Holy See as the old government," that is to say the same exclusive right to nominate future French cardinals and to have as many as before in the sacred college, the same right to exclude in the sacred conclave, the same faculty of being the unique dispenser in France of high ecclesiastical places and the prerogative of appointing all the bishops and archbishops on French territory. And better still, by virtue of the Organic Articles and in spite of the Pope's remonstrances, he interposes, as with the former kings, his authority, his Council of State and his tribunals between the Holy See and the faithful. "No bull, brief, rescript, decree... of the court of Rome, even when bearing only on individuals, shall be received, published, printed or otherwise executed without permission of the government. No person, bearing the title of apostolic nuncio, legate, vicar or commissioner, ... shall, without the same authorization, exercise on the French soil or elsewhere any function in relation to the interests of the Gallican Church.... All cases of complaint by ecclesiastical superiors and other persons shall be brought before the Council of State." Every minister of a cult who shall have carried on a correspondence with a foreign court on religious matters or questions without having previously informed the Minister of Worship and obtained his sanction shall, for this act alone, be subject to a penalty of from one hundred to five hundred francs and imprisonment during a term of from one month to two years. Every communication from high to low and from low to high between the French Church and its Roman head, cut off at will, intervention by a veto or by approval of all acts of pontifical authority, to be the legal and recognized head of the national clergy, to become for this clergy an assistant, collateral, and lay Pope—such was the pretension of the old government, and such, in effect, is the sense, the juridical bearing, of the Gallican maxims. Napoleon pro-claims them anew, while the edict of 1682, by which Louis XIV. applied them with precision, rigor and minuteness, "is declared the general law of the empire."
There are no opponents to this doctrine, or this use of it, in France. Napoleon counts on not encountering any, and especially among his prelates. Gallican before 1789, the whole clergy were more or less so through education and tradition, through interest and through pride; now, the survivors of this clergy are those who provide the new ecclesiastical staff, and, of the two distinct groups from which it is recruited, neither is predisposed by its antecedents to become ultramontane. Some among these, who have emigrated, partisans of the ancient regime, find no difficulty in thus returning to old habits and doctrines, the authoritative protectorate of the State over the Church, the interference of the Emperor substituted for that of the King, and Napoleon, in this as in other respects, the legitimate, or legitimated, successor of the Bourbons. The others, who have sworn to the civil constitution of the clergy, the schismatics, the impenitent and, in spite of the Pope, reintegrated by the First Consul in the Church, are ill-disposed towards the Pope, their principal adversary, and well-disposed towards the First Consul, their unique patron. Hence, "the heads of the Catholic clergy, that is to say, the bishops and grand-vicars,... are attached to the government;" they are "enlightened" people, and can be made to listen to reason.
"But we have three or four thousand cures or vicars, the progeny of ignorance and dangerous through their fanaticism and their passions."
If these and their superiors show any undisciplined tendencies, the curb must be tightly drawn. Fournier, a priest, having reflected on the government from his pulpit in Saint-Roch, is arrested by the police, put in Bicetre as mad, and the First Consul replies to the Paris clergy who claim his release "in a well-drawn-up petition,":
"I wanted to prove to you, when I put my cap on the wrong side out, that priests must obey the civil power."
Now and then, a rude stroke of this sort sets an example and keeps the intractable on the right path who would otherwise be tempted to leave it. At Bayonne, concerning a clerical epistle in which an ill-sounding phrase occurs, "the grand-vicar who drew it up is sent to Pignerol for ten years, and I think that the bishop is exiled."
At Seez, when constitutional priests are in disfavor, the bishop is compelled to resign on the instant, while Abbe Langlois, his principal counsellor, taken by the gendarmes, led to Paris from police station to police station, is shut up in La Force, in secret confinement, with straw for a bed, during fourteen days, then imprisoned in Vincennes for nine months, so that, finally, seized with paralysis, he is transferred to an insane retreat, where he remains a prisoner up to the end of the reign.
Let us provide for the future as well as for the present, and, beyond the present clergy, let us train the future clergy. The seminaries will answer this purpose: "Public ones must be organized so that there may be no clandestine seminaries, such as formerly existed in the departments of Calvados, Morbihan and many others;... the formation of young priests must not be left to ignorance and fanaticism."—"Catholic schools need the surveillance of the government."—There is to be one of these in each metropolitan district, and "this special school must be in the hands of the authorities."—"The directors and teachers shall be appointed by the First Consul"; men will be placed there who are "cultivated, devoted to the government and friendly to toleration; they will not confine themselves to teaching theology, but will add to this a sort of philosophy and correct worldliness."—A future cure, a priest who controls laymen and belongs to his century, must not be a monk belonging to the other world, but a man of this world, able to adapt himself to it, do his duty in it with propriety and discretion, accept the legal establishment of which he is a part, not damn his Protestant neighbors, Jews or freethinkers too openly, be a useful member of temporal society and a loyal subject of the civil power; let him be a Catholic and pious, but within just limits; he shall not be an ultramontanist or a bigot.—Precautions are taken to this effect. No seminarist may become subdeacon without the consent of the government, and the list of ordinations each year, sent to him at Paris by the bishop, is returned, cut down to the strictly necessary. From the very beginning, and in express terms, Napoleon has reserved all curacies and vicarages for "ecclesiastics pensioned by virtue of the laws of the Constituent Assembly." Not only, through this confusion between pension and salary, does he lighten a pecuniary burden, but he greatly prefers old priests to young ones; many of them have been constitutionnels, and all are imbued with Gallicanism; it is he who has brought them back from exile or saved them from oppression, and they are grateful for it; having suffered long and patiently, they are weary, they must have grown wiser, and they will be manageable. Moreover, he has precise information about each one; their past conduct is a guarantee of their future conduct; he never chooses one of them with his eyes shut. On the contrary, the candidates for ordination are strangers, the government which accepts them knows nothing about them except that, at the age when the fever of growth or of the imagination takes a fixed form, they have been subject for five years to a theological education and to a cloistral life. The chances are that, with them, the feverishness of youth will end in the heat of conviction and in the prejudices of inexperience; in this event, the government which exempts them from the conscription to admit them in the Church exchanges a good military recruit for a bad ecclesiastical recruit; in place of a servant it creates an opponent. Hence, during the fifteen years of his reign, Napoleon authorizes only six thousand new ordinations, in all four hundred per annum, one hundred for each diocese or six or seven per annum. Meanwhile, by his university decrees, he lets lay daylight into clerical enclosures and shuts the door of all ecclesiastical dignities to suspicious priests. For more security, in every diocese in which "the principles of the bishop" do not give him full satisfaction, he prohibits all ordination, nomination, promotion, or favor whatever. "I have stricken off all demands relating to the bishoprics of Saint-Brieuc, Bordeaux, Ghent, Tournay, Troyes and the Maritime Alps.... My intention is that you do not, for these dioceses, propose to me any exemption of service for conscripts, no nominations for scholarships, for curacies, or for canonries. You will send in a report on the dioceses which it would be well to strike with this ban." Towards the end, the Gallicism of Bossuet no longer suffices for him; he allowed it to be taught at Saint-Sulpice, and M. Emery, director of this institution, was the priest in France whom he esteemed the most and most willingly consulted; but a pupil's imprudent letter had been just intercepted, and, accordingly, the spirit of that association is a bad one. An order of expulsion of the director is issued and the installation in his place of a new one "day after to-morrow," as well as new administrators of whom none shall be Sulpician. "Take measures to have this congregation dissolved. I will have no Sulpicians in the seminary of Paris. Let me know the seminaries that are served by Sulpicians in order that they too may be sent away from these seminaries."—And let the seminarists who have been badly taught by their masters take heed not to practice in their own behalf the false doctrines which the State proscribes; especially, let them never undertake, as they do in Belgium, to disobey the civil power in deference to the Pope and their bishop. At Tournay, all those over eighteen years of age are sent to Magdebourg; at Ghent, the very young or those not fit for military service are put in Saint-Pelagie; the rest, two hundred and thirty-six in number, including forty deacons or sub-deacons, incorporated in an artillery brigade, set out for Wesel, a country of marshes and fevers, where fifty of them soon die of epidemics and contagion.—There is ever the same terminal procedure; to Abbe d'Astros, suspected of having received and kept a letter of the Pope, Napoleon, with threats, gave him this ecclesiastical watchword:
"I have heard that the liberties of the Gallican Church are being taught: but for all that, I wear the sword, so watch out!"
So behind all his institutions one discovers the military sanction, the arbitrary punishment, physical constraint, the sword ready to strike; involuntarily, the eyes anticipates the flash of the blade, and the flesh is feels in advance the rigid incision of the steel.
VIII. Administrative Control.
Changes in the ecclesiastical hierarchy.—Motives for subordinating the lesser clergy.—The displacement of assistant priests.—Increase of episcopal authority.—Hold of Napoleon over the bishops.
Thus is a conquered country treated. He is, in relation to the Church, as in a conquered country. Like Westphalia or Holland, she is a naturally independent country which he has annexed by treaty, which he has been able to include but not absorb in his empire, and which remains invincibly distinct. The temporal sovereign, in a spiritual society, especially such a sovereign as he is,—nominally Catholic, scarcely Christian, at best a deist and from time to time as it suits,—will never be other than an external suzerain and a foreign prince. To become and remain master in such an annexed country it is always advisable to exhibit the sword. Nevertheless, it would not be wise to strike incessantly; the blade, used too often, would wear out; it is better to utilize the constitution of the annex, rule over it indirectly, not by an administrative bureau (regie), but by a protectorate, in which all indigenous authorities can be employed and be made responsible for the necessary rigors. Now, by virtue of the indigenous constitution, the governors of the Catholic annex—all designated beforehand by their suitable and indelible character, all tonsured, robed in black, celibates and speaking Latin—form two orders, unequal in dignity and in number; one inferior, comprising myriads of cures and vicars, and the other superior, comprising some dozens of prelates.
Let us turn this ready-made hierarchy to account; and, the better to use it, let us tighten the strings. In agreement with the upper clergy and the Pope, we will increase the subjection of the lower clergy; we will govern the inferiors through the superiors; whoever has the head has the body; it is much easier to handle sixty bishops and archbishops than forty thousand vicars and cures; in this particular we need not undertake to restore primitive discipline; we must not be either antiquaries or Gallicans. Let us be careful not to give back to the second-class clergy the independence and stability they enjoyed before 1789, the canonical guarantees which protected them against episcopal despotism, the institution of competition, the rights conferred by theological grades, the bestowal of the best places on the wisest, the appeal to the diocesan court in case of disgrace, the opposing plea before the officialite, the permanent tie by which the titular cure, once planted in his parish, took root there for life, and believed himself bound to his local community like Jesus Christ to the universal Church, indissolubly, through a sort of mystic marriage. "The number of cures," says Napoleon, "must be reduced as much as possible, and the number of assistants (desservans) multiplied who can be changed at will," not only transferable to another parish, but revocable from day to day, without formalities or delay, without appeal or pleading in any court whatsoever. Henceforth, the sole irremovable cures are the four thousand; the rest, under the name of succursalists, numbering thirty thousand, are ecclesiastical clerks, surrendered to the discretionary power of the bishop. The bishop alone appoints, places and displaces all belonging to his diocese at his pleasure, and with a nod, he transfers the most competent from the best to the worst post, from the large borough or small town, where he was born and has lived at ease near his family, to some wretched parish in this or that village buried in the woods or lost on a mountain, without income or presbytery; and still better, he cuts down his wages, he withdraws the State salary of five hundred francs, he turns him out of the lodgings allowed him by the commune, on foot on the highway, with no viaticum, even temporary, excluded from ecclesiastical ministries, without respect, demeaned, a vagabond in the great lay world whose ways are unknown to him and whose careers are closed to him. Henceforth, and forever, bread is taken out of his mouth; if he has it to-day, it is lacking on the morrow. Now, every three months, the list of succursalists at five hundred francs drawn up by the bishop, must be countersigned by the prefect. In his upper cabinet, near the mantelpiece on which the visiting-cards of every considerable personage in the department are displayed, facing the emperor's bust, the two delegates of the emperor, his two responsible and judicial managers, the two superintended overseers of the conscription, confer together on the ecclesiastical staff of the department. In this as in other matters, they are and feel themselves kept in check from on high, curbed and forced, willingly or not, to come to some agreement. Compulsory collaborators by institution, each an auxiliary of the other in the maintenance of public order, they read over article by article the list of appointments of their common subordinates; should any name have bad notes, should any succursalist be marked as noisy, undesirable, or suspect, should there be any unfavorable report by the mayor, gendarmerie or upper police, the prefect, about to sign, lays down his pen, quotes his instructions and demands of the bishop against the delinquent some repressive measure, either destitution, suspension or displacement, removal to an inferior parish, or, at least, a comminatory reprimand, while the bishop, whom the prefect may denounce to the minister, does not refuse to the prefect this act of complacency.
Some months after the publication of the Concordat, Mademoiselle Chameron, an opera-dancer, dies, and her friends bear her remains to the church of Saint-Roch for internment. They are refused admittance, and the cure, very rigid, "in a fit of ill-humor," orders the doors of the church to be shut; a crowd gathers around, shouts and launches threats at the cure; an actor makes a speech to appease the tumult, and finally the coffin is borne off to the church of Les Filles-Saint-Thomas, where the assistant priest, "familiar with the moral of the gospel," performs the funeral service. Incidents of this kind disturb the tranquility of the streets and denote a relaxation of administrative discipline. Consequently the government, doctor in theology and canon law, intervenes and calls the ecclesiastical superior to account. The first Consul, in an article in the Moniteur, haughtily gives the clergy their instructions and explains the course that will be pursued against them by his prelates. "The Archbishop of Paris orders the cure of Saint-Roch into retirement for three months, in order that he may bear in mind the injunction of Jesus Christ to pray for one's enemies, and, made sensible of his duties by meditation, may become aware that these superstitious customs..., which degrade religion by their absurdities, have been done away with by the Concordat and the law of Germinal 18." From now on all priests and cures are prudent, circumspect, obedient, and reserved, because their spiritual superiors are so as well, and could not be otherwise. Each prelate, posted in his diocese, is maintained there in isolation; a watch is kept on his correspondence; he may communicate with the Pope only through the Minister of Worship; he has no right to act in concert with his colleagues; all the general assemblies of the clergy, all metropolitan councils, all annual synods are suppressed. The Church of France has ceased to exist as one corps, while its members, carefully detached from each other and from their Roman head, are no longer united, but juxtaposed. Confined to a circumscription, like the prefect, the bishop himself is simply an ecclesiastical prefect, a little less uncertain of his tenure of office; undoubtedly, his removal will not be effected by order, but he can be forced to send in his resignation. Thus, in his case, as well as for the prefect, his first care will be not to excite displeasure, and the next one, to please. To stand well at court, with the minister and with the sovereign, is a positive command, not only on personal grounds, but for the sake of Catholic interests. To obtain scholarships for the pupils of his seminary, to appoint the teachers and the director that suits him, to insure the acceptance of his canons, cantonal cures, and candidates for the priesthood, to exempt his sub-deacons from military service, to establish and to defray the expenses of the chapels of his diocese, to provide parishes with the indispensable priest, with regular services and the sacraments, requires favors, which favors cannot be enjoyed without an affectation of obedience and zeal and, more important still, devotion. Moreover, he is only a human being. If Napoleon has selected him, it is on account of his intelligence, knowing what he is about, open to human motives, not too rigid and of too easy conscience; in the eyes of the master, the first quality is an obedient personality attached to his system and person. Moreover, with his candidates, he has always taken into consideration the hold they give him through their weaknesses, vanity and needs, their ostentatious ways and expenditure, their love of money, titles and precedence, their ambition, desire for promotion, enjoyment of credit, and right of obtaining places for proteges and relations. He avails himself of all these advantages and finds that they answer his purpose. With the exception of three or four saints, like Monsignor d'Aviau or Monsignor Dessolles, who he has inadvertently put into the episcopate, the bishops are content to be barons, and the archbishops counts. They are glad to rank higher and higher in the Legion of Honor; they loudly assert, in praise of the new order of things, the honors and dignities it confers on these or those prelates who have become members of the legislative corps or been made senators. Many of them receive secret pay for secret services, pecuniary incentives in the shape of this or that amount in ready money. In sum, Napoleon has judged accurately; with hesitation and remorse, nearly the whole of his episcopal staff, Italian and French, 66 prelates out of 80, are open to "temporal influences". They yield to seductions and threats; they accept or submit, even in spiritual matters, to his positive ascendancy.
Moreover, among these dignitaries, nearly all of whom are blameless, or, at least, who behave well and are generally honorable, Napoleon finds a few whose servility is perfect, unscrupulous individuals ready for anything that an absolute prince could desire, like Bishops Bernier and De Pancemont, one accepting a reward of 30,000 francs and the other the sum of 50,000 francs for the vile part they have played in the negotiations for the Concordat; a miserly, brutal cynic like Maury, archbishop of Paris, or an intriguing, mercenary skeptic like De Pradt, archbishop of Malines; or an old imbecile, falling on his knees before the civil power, like Rousseau, bishop of Orleans, who writes a pastoral letter declaring that the Pope is as free in his Savona prison as on his throne at Rome. After 1806, Napoleon, that he may control men of greater suppleness, prefers to take his prelates from old noble families—the frequenters of Versailles, who regard the episcopate as a gift bestowed by the prince and not by the Pope, a lay favor reserved for younger sons, a present made by the sovereign to those around his person, on the understood condition that the partisan courtier who is promoted shall remain a courtier of the master. Henceforth nearly all his episcopal recruits are derived from "members of the old noble stock." "Only these," says Napoleon, "know how to serve well."
IX. The Imperial Catechism
Political use of the episcopacy.—The imperial catechism. —Pastoral letters.
From the first year the effect arrived at is better than could be expected. "Look at the clergy," said the First Consul to Roederer; "every day shows that in spite of themselves their devotion to the government is increasing, and much beyond their anticipation. Have you seen the pastoral declaration of Boisgelin, archbishop of Tours?... He says that the actual government is the legitimate government, that God disposes of thrones and kings as he pleases and that he adopts the chiefs whom the people prefer. Your yourself could not have said that better." But notwithstanding that this is said in the pastoral letter, it is again said in the catechism. No ecclesiastical publication is more important: all Catholic children are to learn this by heart, for the phrases they recite will be firmly fixed in their memories. Bossuet's catechism is good enough, but it may be improved,—there is nothing that time, reflection, emulation, and administrative zeal cannot render perfect! Bossuet teaches children "to respect all superiors, pastors, kings, magistrates, and the rest." "But these generalities," says Portalis, "no longer suffice. They do not give the proper tendency to the subject's submission. The object is to center the popular conscience on the person of Your Majesty." Accordingly, let us be precise, make appointments and secure support.
The imperial catechism, a great deal more explicit than the royal catechism, adds significant development to the old one, along with extra motives:
"We specially owe to our Emperor, Napoleon the First, love, respect, obedience, fidelity, military service, and tributes ordained for the preservation of the empire and his throne... For God has raised him up for us in times of peril that he might restore public worship and the holy religion of our fathers and be its protector."
Every boy and girl in each parish recite this to the vicar or cure after vespers in their tiny voices as a commandment of God and of the Church, as a supplementary article of the creed. Meanwhile the officiating priest in the pulpit gravely comments on this article, already clear enough, at every morning or evening service; by order, he preaches in behalf of the conscription and declares that it is a sin to try to escape from it, to be refractory; by order, again, he reads the army bulletins giving accounts of the latest victories; always by order, he reads the last pastoral letter of his bishop, a document authorized, inspired and corrected by the police. Not only are the bishops obliged to submit their pastoral letters and public instructions to the censorship; not only by way of precaution, are they forbidden to print anything except on the prefecture presses, but again, for still greater security, the bureau of public worship is constantly advising them what they must say. First and foremost, they must laud the Emperor. But in what terms, and with what epithets, without indiscretion or mistake, in order not to meddle with politics, not to appear as a party managed from above, not to pass for megaphones, is not explained, and is therefore a difficult matter. "You must praise the Emperor more in your pastoral letters," said Real, prefect of police, to a new bishop. "Tell me in what measure." "I do not know," was the reply. Since the measure cannot be prescribed, it must be ample enough. There is no difficulty as regards other articles.—On every occasion the Paris offices take care to furnish each bishop with a ready-made draft of his forthcoming pastoral letter—the canvas on which the customary flowers of ecclesiastical amplification are to be embroidered. It differs according to time and place. In La Vendee and in the west, the prelates are to stigmatize "the odious machinations of perfidious Albion," and explain to the faithful the persecutions to which the English subject the Irish Catholics. When Russia is the enemy, the pastoral letter must dwell on her being schismatic; also on the Russian misunderstanding of the supremacy of the Pope. Inasmuch as bishops are functionaries of the empire, their utterances and their acts belong to the Emperor. Consequently he makes use of them against all enemies, against each rival, rebel or adversary, against the Bourbons, against the English and the Russians, and, finally, against the Pope.
X. The Council of 1811.—The Concordat of 1813.
Similar to the Russian expedition, this is the great and last throw of the dice, the decisive and most important of his ecclesiastical undertakings, as the other is in political and military affairs. Just as, under his leadership, he forces by constraint and, under his lead, a coalition of the political and military powers of his Europe against the Czar,—Austria, Prussia, the Confederation of the Rhine, Holland, Switzerland, the kingdom of Italy, Naples, and even Spain,—so does he by constraint and under his lead coalesce all the spiritual authorities of his empire against the Pope. He summons a council, consisting of eighty-four bishops that are available in Italy and in France. He takes it upon himself to drill them, and he makes them march. To state what influences he uses would require a volume—theological and canonical arguments, appeals to Gallican souvenirs and Jansenist rancors, eloquence and sophisms, preparatory maneuvers, secret intrigues, public acting, private solicitations, steady intimidation, successful pressures, thirteen cardinals exiled and deprived of their insignia, two other cardinals confined in Vincennes, nineteen Italian bishops conveyed to France under escort, without bread or clothes. Fifty priests of Parma, fifty of Plaisance, besides one hundred other Italian priests, sent away or confined in Corsica. All congregations of men in France—Saint-Lazare, Mission, Christian Doctrine, Saint-Sulpice—dissolved and suppressed. Three bishops of the council seized in bed at daylight, put into a cell and kept in close confinement, forced to resign and to promise in writing not to carry on correspondence with their dioceses; arrest of their adherents in their dioceses; the Ghent seminarists turned into soldiers, and, with knapsack on their backs, leaving for the army; professors at Ghent, the canons of Tournay, and other Belgian priests shut up in the citadels of Bouillon, Ham and Pierre-Chatel. Near the end, the council suddenly dissolved because scruples arise, because it does not yield at once to the pressure brought to bear on it, because its mass constitutes its firmness, because men standing close together, side by side, stand all the longer. "Our wine in the cask is not good," said Cardinal Maury; "you will find that it will be better in bottles." Accordingly, to make it ready for bottling, it must be filtered and clarified, so as to get rid of the bad elements which disturb it and cause fermentation. Many Opponents are in prison, many have retired from their dioceses, while the rest are brought to Paris and cunningly worked upon, each member in turn, apart and confined, tete-a-tete with the Minister of Worship, until all, one by one, are brought to sign the formula of adhesion. On the strength of this, the council, purged and prepared, is summoned afresh to give its vote sitting or standing, in one unique session; through a remnant of virtue it inserts a suspensive clause in the decree, apparently a reservation, but the decree is passed as ordered. Like the foreign regiment in an army corps which, enlisted, forced into line, and goaded on with a sharp sword, serves, in spite of itself, against its legitimate prince, unwilling to march forward to the attack, meaning at the last moment to fire in the air, so does it finally march and fire its volley notwithstanding.
Napoleon, on the other hand, treats the Pope in the same fashion, and with like skill and brutality. As with the Russian campaign, he has prepared himself for it long beforehand. At the outset there is an alliance, and he concedes great advantages to the Pope as to the Czar, which will remain to them after his fall; but these concessions are made only with a mental reservation, with the instinctive feeling and predetermination to profit by the alliance, even to making an independent sovereign whom he recognizes as his equal, his subordinate and a tool; hence, quarrels and war. This time also, in the expedition against the Pope, his strategy is admirable,—the entire ecclesiastical territory studied beforehand, the objective point selected, all disposable forces employed and directed by fixed marches to where the victory is to be decisive, the conquest extended and the seat of the final dominion established; the successive and simultaneous use of every kind of means—cunning, violence, seduction and terror. Calculation of the weariness, anxiety and despair of the adversary; at first menaces and constant disputes, and then flashes of lightning and multiplied claps of thunder, every species of brutality that force can command; the States of the Church invaded in times of peace, Rome surprised and occupied by soldiers, the Pope besieged in the Quirinal, in a year the Quirinal taken by a nocturnal assault, the Pope seized and carried off by post to Savona and there confined as a prisoner of state almost in cellular seclusion, subject to the entreaties and manoeuvres of an adroit prefect who works upon him, of the physician who is a paid spy, of the servile bishops who are sent thither, alone with his con-science, contending with inquisitors relieving each other, subject to moral tortures as subtile and as keen as old-time physical tortures, to tortures so steady and persistent that he sinks, loses his head, "no longer sleeps and scarcely speaks," falling into a senile condition and even more than senile condition, "a state of mental alienation." Then, on issuing from this, the poor old man is again beset; finally, after waiting patiently for three years, he is once more brusquely conducted at night, secretly and incognito, over the entire road, with no repose or pity though ill, except stopping once in a snow-storm at the hospice on Mount Cenis, where he comes near dying; put back after twenty-four hours in his carriage, bent double by suffering and in constant pain; jolting over the pavement of the grand highway until almost dead and landed at Fontainebleau, where Napoleon wishes to have him ready at hand to work upon. "Indeed," he himself says, "he is a lamb, an excellent, worthy man whom I esteem and am very fond of."