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1899
OF WISCONSIN.

BROWNSON'S

QUARTERLY REVIEW.

.

JANUARY, 1860.

Art. I.Pope or President ? Startling Disclosures of

Romanism as revealed by its own Writers. FACTS FOR AMERICANS. New York: Delisser. 1859. 12mo. pp. 360.

The title of this anonymous and flashy publication reveals the class of works to which it belongs, and warns us that the author or compiler draws largely on the ignorance and credulity of the non-Catholic public. It is hard to believe that any one of ordinary intelligence can be moved by his

Startling Disclosures,” or disturbed by his pretended "Facts for Americans." His work, however, is not without a certain smartness, as we Yankees say; but it bear's no trace of a liberal culture, a generous mind, or a loving heart. It is, from beginning to end, unscrupulous in its statements, unchristian, indecent, and untrustworthy, and a melancholy example of the influence of passion and prejudice in warping a man's judgment and drying up all the noble and generous sympathies which nature denies to

We are almost amazed at its misapplication of the passages its author quotes from Catholic writers, and the facility with which it extracts a foul and revolting sense from the most simple and innocent language; and were it Vol. I.-No. I.

1

no one.

not for certain mistakes, misinterpretations, misapplications, and perversions of our own meaning and purposes by men whom we highly esteem, and whose motives we respect, we should say, without the least hesitation, that no honest man, no man not moved by satanic malice as well as assisted by satanic cunning, could have written it. But after all, men are oftener weak than wicked, and it is seldom safe for us to go from the book to the interior motives and character of its author.

Of course, no man who respects himself, or the public, will attempt a detailed reply to the numerous misconceptions, misrepresentations, misstatements, and false inferences of this popular anti-Catholic and Know-Nothing publication. Its "facts" are no facts, and its "startling discloBures" are hardly so much as ingenious fictions. It falsifies even the facts it cites, and misrepresents and perverts the meaning of Catholic writers, even when it quotes, as it seldom does, their words correctly, by separating them from their connection, and interpreting or applying them in accordance with a preconceived theory which has no foundation in fact, and which no Catholic does or could entertain for a moment. It misapprehends and misapplies every thing it encounters in Catholic books, Catholic history, Catholic doctrine, or Catholic practice. The extracts are garbled, and words are wreșted to favor a meaning obviously incompatible with the whole scope and design of him who uses them. Its author starts with the foregone conclusion, that our religion is an imposture, that the Church is mystical Babylon, “the Mystery of Iniquity," and the Sovereign Pontiff the Man of Sin, the veritable anti-Christ foretold by the Apostles, and then looks through Catholic history to find, not passages which, honestly interpreted, do sustain, but which may be made to appear to sustain that foregone conclusion. He constructs his theory from his passions and prejudices, his ignorance and weakness, and then seeks for facts to support it; he fixes bis conclusion, and then seeks or manufactures premises that will warrant it. This is the case with all the popular “No-Popery” writers with whom we are acquainted. That this is unfair, unscientific, and wholly objectionable, no man denies; but it is the method adopted by most men, when treating a subject under the influence of strong passions and strong prejudices, and on which the truth happens to be against them. Error is never fair, candid, just.

Then, again, no man, however thoroughly master of his subject he may be, or whatever the pains he may take to guard himself against misapprehension or misrepresentation, not even when writing a formal and scientific treatise, designed to exhaust its subject, can always so write that it is impossible for an unfriendly critic to pervert his language, or to cite his words in support of views he does not take, and would abhor to take. He must leave something unsaid ; he must trust something to the intelligence, the candor, and the good faith of his readers. “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God.” Omit the words, the fool hath said in his heart, and you make the Scriptures teach atheism. “Judas went out and hanged himself," "Go thou and do likewise,” Bring these two passages together, and the Scriptures will be made to enjoin suicide. By a similar unfairness our author or compiler perverts the sense of Catholic authors and of Catholic doctrines and practices. Men, even of honest intentions and fair minds, will sometimes also pervert the sense of their author through ignorance, or, what is worse, false knowledge. They lack the key to his purpose and meaning, and undertake to supply it from their own ignorance, or their own false theories, and thus give to a writer a sense which is by no means his. Our author or compiler lacks the key to the sense of Catholic doctrines and practices, and therefore to the writings of Catholics; and interpreting those writings by his own ignorance, or by his preconceived theory of what Catholicity must be, he perverts the teachings of the Church, makes her teach doctrines which she rejects, and sanction practices which she abominates. Few men can see the real fact which passes before their eyes, and fewer still can relate the fact they have seen precisely as it happened, as the experience of all our courts of law amply proves. Most men

. give you instead of the fact itself, their own impression, or their own theory of the fact. Hence it is, that ordinary history, as written, is so untrustworthy, and that so few, even among the highly cultivated, can read history with profit. We read some time since a letter from one of the most distinguished prelates, and one of the first scholars in Ireland, evidently intended to deny a charge bronght by some Exeter Hall orator against one of his priests, in which the denial, though assumed in the writer's mind, is not once expressed in words. The writer is so intent on expressing his indignation at the baseness of the charge, that he forgets to make the denial itself. Yet nothing would be more unfair than to regard the charge as true, because the letter written to deny it does not expressly deny it.

These remarks apply to nearly all the popular works against our religion, that issue from the anti-Catholic

press of this or any other country. We will not say that they are all written in bad faith; we will not say that their authors may not believe them passably just, or that they may not have written them with a sort of honesty of purpose ; but we assure our readers that we have not seen one of them which is not a gross perversion of the truth, and an inexcusable misrepresentation of facts from beginning to end. Most of them seem to us to be written without any respect for truth, and on the principle, that the end justifies the means. Their authors seem to have really persuaded themselves that Catholicity is a bad and extremely dangerous thing, and that no means are unlawful that will tend to crush it. They are so carried away by their wrath and hatred, that they see and judge every thing in a false light, and do and say things that would shock even themselves in their sober moments, if sober moments they could ever have. Hatred is love reversed, and blinds one not less than love itself, if not, indeed, even more. Who trusts the lover's account of his mistress? Or who that has had the misfortune to be in love has not said and done a thousand fantastic things, that he cannot, now the fit is off, bear to have recall

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