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chief design of M. Montalembert's Essay. We, as well as many others, supposed that the chief design of the illustrious author was to induce his countrymen to make an effort to obtain for France a political constitution modelled after that of England, which, in the present state of French society, we look upon both as undesirable and impracticable ; but we are now satisfied that whatever his admiration of the British constitution, or his desire to obtain for his own countrymen the liberty it secures to Englishmen, bis chief design was to warn Catholics in those states which still retain a greater or less degree of constitutional or parliamentary liberty, to be on their guard against the prestige of the Imperial régime, to deepen their love of political freedom, and to induce them to resist manfully, with all the power and influence they possess, the farther extension of the new-fangled Cæsarism which seems to have succeeded in Europe, since 1852, to the Red Republicanism of 1848. He wished, no doubt, to counteract in Switzerland, Prussia, Holland, Belgium, Great Britain, and the United States, the influence of that portion of the French Catholic press, which, not content with yielding the new government in France, a firm, dignitied, and loyal support, has deemed it proper to rehabilitate in its favor theoretic despotism, and to decry as anti-Christian parliamentary government and its defenders. To this design we at least have nothing to object.
We never wished the overthrow of the Monarchy of July, or the Republic of February, 1848. But when that Republic had been once inaugurated, our readers know that we wished it to have a fair trial, and that we believed it susceptible of such modifications and developments as would secure social order, and the freedom, independence, and prosperity of France. We were opposed to the efforts of the monarchists, whatever their dynastic preferences, to subvert it, and re-establish monarchy. But when it had been subverted, and the Empire revived in Napoleon III., although we distrusted the Emperor, especially in relation to the freedom of the Church, we believed it better to give him a loyal support, than to expose France to the horrors of a new revolution, or of a civil war. It was with this view, which we still entertain, that we wrote our strictures on M. Montalembert's Essay, and urged him and his friends not to stand aloof from the government, not to assume an attitude of opposition or quasi-opposition to the new power, but to accept the Emperor as a "fixed fact,” to unite with him, and seek the true interests of their noble country under the Imperial drapeau. But we committed the usual mistake of those who are giving advice in relation to matters they only half understand. Our advice was good, our policy admirable, only it happened to be wholly impracticable. What we urged was what our friends were perfectly willing and even anxious to do, but precisely what the Emperor will not permit them to do.
As a Catholic, we have always looked upon the Imperial government chiefly from the Catholic point of view, and, though not liking it, we have always felt that if it permitted the free, untrammelled expression of Catholic thought and aspirations, it would be endurable and compatible with the best part of liberty. We distrusted from the first the personal dispositions of the Emperor towards religious liberty, and we could find nothing in his words or his acts to give us any assurance that he either understood or desired the true freedom and interests of the Church. We yet trusted that Catholicity had so revived in France, the old-fashioned Gallicanism had been so generally repudiated by the bishops and clergy as well as by a very considerable number of the Catholic nobility, and the devotion to the Holy See had become so wide and so deep, that the Catholic public opinion of the Empire would be strong enough to prevent any gross encroachments on the rights of the Church by the state, and to maintain, in practice at least, full liberty to defend publicly through the press an unmutilated, an unemasculated Catholicity,—liberty, in practice at least, for the Catholic champions to maintain publicly the inherent rights of the Church, and the incompetency of the state in spirituals. We felt confident, if this were so, our friends could erect a barrier to the encroachments of the civil power on the ecclesiastical, practically secure the freedom of conscience, and thus prevent Imperialism from growing into absolute Cæsarism. But we reckoned without our host. It now appears that this liberty is precisely what is most strenuously denied them, and what the Imperial police is on the alert to detect and suppress. Hardly had our criticism on M. Montalembert issued from the press, before we learned that the Correspondant had received an avertissement or warning from the police à propos of an able and spirited Essay by the Prince de Broglie on the present state of religious controversy in France ; we learn from the Univers of the 3d of May last, that it has received a second warning on account of the paper cited at the head of this article by Count Montalembert, written, indeed, with great force and ability, but in a temperate and loyal spirit. One more warning, and the police, as the law now stands, may suppress the publication of the Correspondant entirely, and thus silence the only organ of Catholic independence in France.
We have read both articles, and find it difficult to discover any thing in them at which the government could take exception. The civil power that can fear them must have a vivid consciousness of its own weakness, or the usual sensitiveness of the parvenu. Power that cannot suffer such criticisms as these articles to pass without censure, lest its own stability should be shaken, seems to us to be greatly misplaced in a nation so intelligent and so highly civilized as France, and to be hardly worth defending. We had supposed the Imperial government too strong, and too deeply seated in the heart of France, to fear such criticisms, and we had also supposed that the Emperor himself was too noble, too high-minded, and too generous in his feelings, too keen-sighted as well as too broad and comprehensive in his views, and too much wedded to the interests and dignity of French literature, to which he has made so many and so valuable contributions, to be offended at them, or to suffer his police to interfere to suppress them. Not in France in the nineteenth century, can an Emperor secure a glorious reign and establish his dynasty, by outraging free thought and free speech, and offering an indignity to men of letters, or to loyal though manly intelligence. Intelligence, in the long run, is sure to carry it over brute force, and men of letters will succeed where men of the sword must succumb. He wages an unequal war, who opposes bayonets to the subtil essence of intellect, or attempts to trample out free thought by a charge of his cavalry. Still more unequal war does he wage, who wars against the Catholic conscience and the inherent rights of God's Church. The uncle of the present Emperor, with an army
and a military genius never surpassed, tried both, failed, and went to fret out the remainder of his life, a caged prisoner, on a barren isle of the ocean. Let the nephew take warning by the fate of his uncle. Let him provoke no war of opinion, or imagine that he can by his police extinguish free, manly thought in French breasts, or reduce to silence French lips. Let his police exert their utmost vigilance, let them be, as it were, ubiquitous, yet, through a thousand avenues they cannot guard, the outraged thought will reach the hearts of his subjects, rekindle in them the old Gallic fire, the old Gallic love of freedom, and the old Gallic scorn of chains and slavery. Not yet are Frenchmen prepared to sink into the passive obedience that marks the subjects of Oriental despots.
The article by M. Montalembert, which we have cited, was called forth by a recent declaration of the Council of State, condemning the venerable Bishop of Moulins for an act of ecclesiastical discipline towards one of his priests, an act within his Episcopal competency, and for which he was responsible only to his ecclesiastical superiors. When the First Consul published in 1802 the Concordat conceded to France by the Holy Father in 1801, he annexed to it of his own accord, without consultation with the Holy Father, certain organic articles, among which was one authorizing an appeal from the ecclesiastical courts to the civil, termed Appel comme d'Abus. The Pope on their first appearance protested against these organic articles, and they have never been accepted or submitted to by the Church. To concede the right of appeal from the ecclesiastical courts to the civil, that is, from the Church to the state, would be to surrender to the state the independence of the Church in her own sphere, to subvert her essential constitution, to render it impossible for her to enforce her discipline in the spiritual order on her own subjects, and in principle, to bring the spiritual power into complete subjection to the temporal. Hence the canons of the Church have always prohibited ecclesiastics from appealing from ecclesiastical censures to the state courts for redress. By the canons of the Church in France such an appeal by a priest incurs excommunication. The Abbé Martinet, a priest of the diocese of Moulins, having refused to conform to these canons, his Bishop suspended him from his clerical
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functions. From this act of the Bishop an appeal in behalf of the priest was taken to the Council of State, which entertained it, and declared the Bishop guilty of an abuse. The Council of State thus declares the organic articles of the first Empire, which were no part of the Concordat conceded to the First Consul by the Holy Father, and which had become obsolete, to be in full force in the second Empire. The Council ground their declaration against the Bishop on the decree of Napoleon I., February 5, 1810, reviving the edict of Louis XIV. proclaiming the Four Articles of the French clergy in 1682, and declaring that edict the general law of France. By the declaration of the Council of State in the case of the Bishop of Moulins, reviving that decree, the edict of Louis XIV. is declared to be in force in 1857;
and by that edict the Four Articles are ordered to be enregistered by all the courts of parliament, and all the subjects of the king are forbidden to teach in their houses, colleges, or seminaries, or to write any thing contrary to the doctrine contained in them. It is, furthermore, ordered that all who shall thenceforth be charged to teach theology in the several colleges and universities, shall subscribe to those articles, and no one shall be licensed as a bachelor in theology or canon law, or receive the degree of Doctor, until after having maintained in one of his theses the doctrine they contain. This edict, rendered in 1682, against which the Popes have uniformly protested, and which it is said Louis XIV. revoked, is, according to the Council of State, the present law of France, and consequently every Catholic teaching any thing contrary to those infamous Four Articles is liable to a legal prosecution under the paternal government of Napoleon the Third.
The case of the Bishop of Moulins, M. Montalembert contends, and justly, transcends all former precedents. In all the cases that have heretofore been carried by appeal from the ecclesiastical courts to the Council of State, the dispute has been between the Church and the state, or virtually a case of conflicting jurisdiction ; but in this case the original dispute was not between the Bishop and the civil magistrate, but between the Biship and one of his own ecclesiastics, touching a matter of purely ecclesiastical discipline. The assumption of appellate jurisdiction in such a case by the Council of State is, in principle, the assumption