« AnkstesnisTęsti »
er mistake it was not possible to commit, and greater in. justice could not be done us. The Know-Nothing party is now comparatively dead, passion has had time to subside, and Catholic charity may induce those who so grossly misconstrued our motives, to inquire if they were not too hasty, and if our course, which seemed to them so unjust and ungenerous, was not dictated by a wise and prudent regard for all the interests attacked by the Know-Nothings. A little reflection, it seems to us, might have convinced the persons who took offence, that, supposing us to have the least grain of common sense, we could not have meant any such thing as they supposed ; and cominon justice, not to say Catholic charity, if passion and suspicion had slept, would have prevented us even from being accused. We had and have no interests and no affections but such as are bound up with the Catholic body of which we are an insignificant member, and as the portion of that body from which we have the most to hope for Catholicity are Irish or of Irish descent, it is ridiculous to suppose that we were anti-Irish in our feelings, or were disposed to join the Know-Nothings in a war against Irish Catholics, which could be only a war equally against ourselves.
Certainly, we do not allude to these bygone events for the purpose of complaining ; we suffered, yet not more than we expected to suffer ; but we allude to them for the purpose of reminding those who suppose that there is an American party forming amongst the Catholics of this country, and that it is necessary to crush it out by crushing every man supposed likely to favor it, that they should guard against ungenerous suspicions, lest they in the end bring about the very thing they oppose, and to which we are as strongly opposed as they are. It is difficult for flesh and blood to bear with equanimnity what we have had to bear during the last three years, from men whom we have done our best to serve, and if the grace of God had not restrained us, and our deep devotion to the Catholic cause had not influenced us, we might, when provoked almost beyond endurance, have even ourselves been tempted to do what we should forever have regretted. Confidence begets confidence, and suspicion breeds suspicion, and sometimes makes the thing it dreads. We think there has been too great readiness to suspect American-born Catholics and converts of designs, intentions, aims, and wishes which we would be the last to entertain. We have ourselves been sneered at in the Catholic press as a convert ; sometimes we have been scolded because we did not show a proper regard for converts, at other times we have been admonished that being a convert we should shut up our mouth; and one journal has gone so far as to sing its palinode for the encouragement it had given us, and to admonish Catholics that they are too ready to confide in converts and to push them forward. All this is sad, sad, and not the best way to encourage conversions. It is hard enough to feel that one is a convert, that he has not had the advantages of being trained from his childhood in the true faith, and of having grown up with Catholic habits and tastes, without having it flung in his face by Catholics, if he ventures to speak boldly on Catholic matters. But these are trifles, and are mentioned only to show that if there are complaints on one side there might be complaints also on the other, and that the only way is for all to study mutual forbearance, mutual confidence, and mutual charity, so that there shall be, as there ought to be, no one side or the other side, but one body, with no rent or schism in it. In reality there is no American side, and no foreign side, but there are American feelings and foreign feelings, which it would not be impossible for evil-minded persons to push to the formation of a native party and a foreign party. Happily, through the good providence of God, no such parties are formed among us, and we trust there never will be, certainly shall not be by our means. We publish our Review because originally invited to do so by the Prelates of the Church, and because we wish to serve Catholic interests; but if we believed that it was likely to produce any such division, or could, under any possible combination of circumstances, become the organ of any particular section of the Catholic body, we would discontinue it with the present number, for the evil it would do would far overbalance any good it could possibly effect; and we assure the authorities of the Church that the moment they signify to us that they lack confidence in its usefulness, that moment we will
discontinue it at whatever loss to ourselves personally. We want no party for us or against us ; we want to form no schism or school ; we want simply to serve the Catholic cause. When it is made clear to us that in the opinion of those who are the proper judges we are not serving it, we shall retire, not because of clamors, or opposition, but because our only motive for publishing a Catholic Review will then cease to exist.
Although we have made these remarks apropos of Father Hecker's book, happily neither he nor it is implicated in them, and one of its great merits is, though addressing Americans, it is not American in any offensive sense, and avoids all references that could offend the most fastidious foreign-born Catholic, yet its author has a livelier sympathy with his own countrymen than we have, and is less disturbed by the dangerous tendencies by which they are affected than we are. With him hope is constant, everliving, and active; with us it is spasmodic, and is kept up only by an effort. We fear the tendencies now at work in our people will carry them so far, licentiousness and corruption of all sorts, in public and private life, will become so universal before the salutary influences of the Church can be brought to bear on them with the requisite power, that they will need to be visited by Almighty God in judgment rather than in mercy. We fear also that they are more likely to carry away with them a large proportion of our Catholic population, than this population is to restrain them; we fear that even the salt that should save them will lose its savor, and we tremble hardly less for our Catholic than for our non-Catholic population. But it is always better to take counsel of our hopes than of our fears, and we will not dwell on our gloomy forebodings, which, after all, may spring from the ill-health, under the depression of which we are forced to write.
In conclusion, we wish to thank the author sincerely and earnestly for his deeply interesting and highly valuable book. It is free from routine, from all cant, from all pretensions; a fresh, sincere, earnest, genuine book, warm from the mind and heart of the writer, and cannot fail to reach the minds and hearts of his readers. It is written in a style of great force and beauty, free, spirited, and seductive. The parts which please us the most are those in which the author answers the popular objections of the day to Catholicity. His answers to them are almost universally happy, brief, animated, witty, good-natured, and conclusive, refuting the objector without ever wounding his selflove or mortifying his vanity. It is in its way a model of controversial writing, and it cannot fail to have a good influence on our polemical literature, to which it is certainly one of the most important contributions ever made by a native-born Catholic. We are much mistaken, if it do not prove one of the most popular works ever issued by our American press, and it will certainly establish the author in the first rank among our most esteemed Catholic writers. The author may not realize all his expectations as to the influence on the precise classes he addresses, but there are many minds, where they are not looked for, that it will reach and help, and it will be read with interest and profit very generally by members of his own communion. It belongs to the class of books of which we cannot have too many, and which can nowhere else be produced but in our own country.
ART. IV.-1. Dramas. By CHARLES JAMES CANNON.
New York: Dunigan & Brother, 1857.
351. 2. Poems Dramatic and Miscellaneous. The same. New York: The same, 1851. 12mo. Pp. 208.
. 3. Ravellings from the Web of Life. By GRANDFATHER
GREENWAY. New York: D. & J. Sadlier & Co., 1855. 12mo, pp. 364.
These are not all the publications with which Mr. Cannon has favored the public, but they are the principal of those which we have seen, with the exception of Mora Carmody and Father Felix, heretofore noticed in this Review. Mr. Cannon is not a literary man by profession, and devotes to the cultivation of letters only his leisure moments. We judge from the preface to the Poems that he looks upon himself as not having received the encouragement to which he is entitled, and though he is above complaining, he feels that the critics have unduly neglected him. We may ourselves have in this respect fallen under his suspicion, but if we have failed to extend to him all the consideration that is his due, it has been unintentionally, or because we did not suppose our good or bad opinion could be of the least importance to him. A popular writer, who addresses the public at large, and treats topics that lie within the range of the common mind, can neither be made nor unmade by the critics, and is pretty sure in the long-run to obtain the rank he merits. The public judgment of such a writer will in general be the true one. The exception is more likely to be in his favor than against him. In our country, learning, ability, genius, if a man really has them, will sooner or later make themselves felt and acknowledged, although by espousing an unpopular cause, an unpopular party, or by running athwart prevailing tastes, prejudices, or convictions, he may not be a popular author.
Mr. Cannon has labored long and industriously to promote in our Catholic population a taste for polite literature, and to contribute what he could to create for us such a literature. For this he deserves credit, and even supposing him not to possess genius of the highest order, he should be honored and encouraged. He has had a laudable ambition to be a poet, and to gain an honorable place among the poets of this his native country. Whether he is entitled to that place or not, we cannot presume to say ; for we have a great distrust of our judgment in poetry. There was a time when we read and loved poetry, when we even thought we really could tell poetry if we found it; but we find so niuch praised nowadays as poetry, so much passing for poetry of the first order, which in our younger days would hardly have been regarded as respectable prose, that we no longer dare undertake to decide even for ourselves what is or is not poetry. We do not think Mr. Cannon is a poet to rank with Shakspeare, Milton, or Byron, but as far as we can judge he is the equal of many whom we have seen very highly praised by critics of far more pretension than we Frankly, we like for ourselves his prose better than his poetry, and find him more agreeable in the character of Grandfather Greenway than in any other character in which we have seen him. His Ravellings from the Web of Life have in them touches of true genius, and we have read them with much interest and pleasure. They indicate nice observation, deep feeling, happy descriptive powers, and now and then some