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of a full toleration under the usurpation of a man, who, whatever were his vices and his crimes, had this claim to their gratitude. But we return to the consideration of the State of France in a religious view, prior to the Revolution.
The only religion established or protected in that kingdom, was the Romish superstition, or, in another word more emphatic from the accumulated force of a thousand horrid associations, Popery. Popery, however, although we believe it to be essentially unchanged, and unchangeable under every modification, conveniently accommodates itself to the manners of the people who receive it. In Spain, Popery is rank bigotry and exterminating cruelty; in Italy, it assumes the shape, or rather forms the veil of licentiousness; in Germany, it is gross infidelity; in France, its peculiar feature was empty pageantry, being at once a state engine and a national amusement. The characters of the clergy answered to the religion to which they were attached. They were a class in which piety was still more rare than talent. There were few Bossuets, but a Fenelon was a prodigy. They were, finally, a class burdening the people, but dependent on the State.
All that has been suggested as to the importance of a middle class, and of a counterpoise in the opulence of the commoner to the power of the peer and the influence of the crown, applies to shew the extremely pernicious influence of this vast mass of inert population, circulating, without imparting energy or becoming assimilated in its circulation, through all the veins of the body politic. The clergy of France were, as the clergy of an endowed, or, at any rate, of an exclusive religious establishment must necessarily be, a species of nobility, differing from the nobility principally in this, that they had only a life interest in the order to which they belonged, and that they held their rank more immediately in fealty to the monarch: a confederacy, rather, having interests separate from those of other citizens, the gradations of which were externally collateral with all ranks in society, yet still distinct from all; the whole really forming a preponderating accession to the aristocracy, yet, in strict alliance with the State.
But in the case of the Roman Catholic Priesthood, there is another circumstance which still more forcibly illustrates its incompatibility with national independence. The spirit of the order, especially in the most powerful of its ecclesiastical incorporations, moulded every member of that priesthood to ona purpose, and that purpose utterly fatal to the liberties of mankind, being no other than the establishment of a domination over the intellect and conscience. All other objects of their ministry were subordinate to this. For this purpose they framed their league with the temporal monarch; and the success with which the Cardinal toiled in the cabinet, and the Confessor in the chamber, is matter of history. To a nation held in this twofold bondage, infidelity seemed to display the charms of enfranchisement, and no wonder it was greedily embraced. Nor will all the splendours of Notre Dame, nor will all the armies of St. Dominick, recover the French nation to a cordial subjection to Popery. Yet, this is to be the established religion of France!
It is not in the power of any government to confer religion on a nation: we will go further and affirm that it is not in its power to benefit the interests of religion by its interference. It has long been shewn, that premiums and monopolies originally designed for the encouragement of trade, have been rather injurious than otherwise, by interfering with its natural course. Light will find an entrance, and water its level. All the aid which governments can render to truth, to moral and religious knowledge, and to freedom, is comprised in this, Remove the obstructions. Institutions which originate with the people themselves, will always be most adapted to the occasion ; and since they will partake of the character of those who framed them, they will always be most efficient, and best proportioned to the actual want. It is seldom that the bestowments of a government are wisely made, or graciously received. It is the glory of England, that all that is munificent in her charities,all that is patrioticin her institutions, her noblest achievements, her commercial great* ness, but above all, her exertions in the cause of Christianity, have proceeded solely from the people, have been the natural product of faculties freely exercised, and principles actively in operation; and the greatness of our government consists in its resting on the wills and resources of such a people. This, then, is the third point of contrast, which the circumstances of the English people exhibit to those of France. We have an endowed hierarchy, but it is disarmed of spiritual power; and although admitted in its higher ranks to a share in the legislative functions, it is excluded altogether from the executive. The interests of the English Clergy are much more closely united with those of the people, than those of other countries, the single circumstance of the abolition of celibacy being attended with the most important benefit. Lastly, by the increased toleration of religious opinions, the people are in agreat measureleft to the free and uncontrolled supply of their moral wants, and the heart cannot in this respect be deceived: at least, the Bible shall direct the diseased mind to its cure, and the wounded heart to its Comforter.
One more circumstance, we cannot unfortunately term it a point of contrast, forces itself on the mind, in contemplating the present state of France, as an auxiliary cause of its present debasement, and this is rear. The national vanity of the French, has ever busied itself with dreams of conquest, and projects of invasion. The portfolios of the minister have been swelled with surveys and plans for carrying into execution traditional schemes of this nature. Arbitrary monarchs would find it politic to devise measures for beguiling the nation and employing the army, and the temper of the French has led them to be at all times satisfied with the glory for which they suffered and paid. France has stood prominent in the annals of glorious achievement as a military nation ; but a military nation cannot be a free nation. The very means of levying wurat pleasure, is too great a trust to be committed with impunity to the hands of any ruler, because the possession of those means makes it his interest to perpetuate war. War can be carried on only at the expense of the industry of the nation; and the way in which the necessity forrepairing the ranks-moweddown by the cannon operates, leads to invasions on the personal independence of the subject, to the destruction of the sacredness of individual will. The brilliant prospects of advancement which the army holds out to younger branches of families in the higher orders, is another circumstance of prejudicial influence on the best interests of society; and the extended patronage and indirect influence which war throws into the hands of the State, is so much deducted from popular independence. On these accounts, then, the nation which, seduced by vain glory, or precipitated by false policy, aims at securing a military preeminence, is cherishing a passion fatal to her civil freedom, her commercial prosperity, her domestic virtues, and her true interests. And what is this military glory which has conspired to ruin France, to devastate Europe, and which threatens to replunge the nations in barbarism? The glory of successful murder, in which men are the agents and demons only the spectators! O high heroic sainted valour! the service of Moloch was less fatal to human happiness than thine.
'It remains,' then, as Mr. Scott justly remarks, ' for ourselves to provide for the future, and to render our country an exception to the common history of nations, which generally commences political and social decline, from the apex of military fame. It is true, that the exertions necessary to attain to the latter, have a debauching as well as an exhausting tendency,—but Britain has, more surely and fuHy than any other State ever had, the principles of counteraction and renovation within herself. The great matter is, that men of influence and power among us, should see with a clear eye into what tbinis die very essence of the strength of Great Britain,—and have hearts good enough, and intellects sound enough, to dispose them to address themselves to strengthen and encourage the only real vital principle of their country's pre-eminence hitherto.' p. 228.
This is, indeed, 'the great matter,' and whether or not we thould be found entirely to agree with this intelligent and Spirited writer, as to what that vital principle is, which constituted the strength and pre-eminence of Great Britain, we fully accord with the general tenor of his remarks; and we extract, with a high degree of pleasure, the following admirable reflections.
'The political institutions of society are at least as far from having reached perfection, as the arts and sciences; and if change and experiment are not so practicable in the former as in the latter, yet, in proportion as it is mischievous to tamper with them but when the occasion is clear, the opportunity striking, and the call urgent, it is dangerous and guilty to withstand those great invitations which at intervals summon mankind to improve their condition.—It would be stupidly base to set down all these disturbances that have of late years agitated Europe, to a wilful and unfounded temper of popular insub, ordination:—the convulsion can only fairly be considered as a natural working, accompanied with painful and diseased symptoms, but occasioned by the growth of men's minds beyond the institutions that had their origin in a very inferior state of information. Nor should England consider herself out of the need of advancing herself further, because she is already advanced beyond her neighbours; on the contrary, ber strength and wisdom lie in maintaining her wonted prerogative of being the first to move forward in a safe road,—of first catching the bright prospect of further attainments,—and securing for herself, in the independence and fortitude of her judgment, what others tardily copy from her practice. The vigorous habits of action and thought, which her rulers have found so valuable in the late struggle for national fame and pre-eminence, are only to be preserved, as they were engendered,—namely, by admitting popular opinion to busy itself with the internal affairs of the country, to exercise itself freely on the character of its political establishments, to grapple on even ground with professional and official prejudices and prepossessions, and finally, to knock every thing down that does not stand firm in its own moral strength.—This is England's duty to herself,—and to the world at large she owes an equally sacred one: viz. so to regulate the application of her influence and power, that it shall oppose no tendency to good,—that it shall never be available to evil and bigoted designs, masking themselves under canting professions,—but justify those loud and confident calls which she has every where addressed to generous hearts and fine spirits, demanding that they should feel and join her cause as a common one for the honour, the interests, and the hopes of human nature.' pp. 229—232.
Mr. Scott proceeds to remark—but the popularity of his former volume will secure, and we are glad of it, an extensive circulation for his present work, and we need not therefore swell this article with further quotations—that 'It may be doubted/ whether this country has, in every respect, 'duly maintained * the high ground on which she assumes to stand.1 He alludoe th strong terms, to the conduct of the head of the English QtiTernment, in conveying 'the signs of personal esteem,' to that imbecile and execrable tyrant Ferdinand of Spain, whom he justly designates as 'an ungrateful despot, an enslaver of his 'people contrary to law,' 'an usurper,' who 'ought to b«
*deemed quite as distasteful, if not so dangerous' a one, as Bonaparte. He calls upon the nation to prove that it was, as it was pretended, 'in pure indignation against tyranny-, ftfld the 'pretensions of villainous imposture, that she fought in Spain,—
*and not solely against Buonaparte as the enemy of England's 'teas and muslins, her severe maritime code, and her suspicious
*Indian conquests!' and he concludes with manfully affirming, in a spirit worthy of an Englishman, that
* T$o one, surely, now-a-days, will be found in this country to maintain that mere birth alone constitutes royal legitimacy. If so narrow an interpretation were that, according to which the principle is understood by that combination of persons in authority over society who have done so much to render it paramount, and who say they are resolved to keep it so,—mankind would have much less reason for congratulation than they are instructed to believe they possess. The glory of the people of England has been well proved in what they have sustained and achieved,—the chief glory of their rulers remains still to be proved.' p. 233.
We do hope and trust, that the asserter of these worthy sentiments, will never be either tempted by interest, or impelled by necessity, to swerve from the line of honourable and patriotic independence.
Mr. Scott makes no allusion to the subject of the disturbances in the South of France. He probably had not at the time the requisite data, on which to form a competent opinion of their real nature. The public will not much longer be the sport of contrary opinions on this subject. The pamphlet affixed to the present article, translated, and we are sorry to say, badly translated, from the French of a Protestant clergyman, himself a sufferer and an exile, will serve to convince the most incredulous, we imagine, that they have had a religious, not a political origin, that they have assumed a most malignant character, and that, inasmuch as not a single instance can be addnced of the agents in those infamous transactions, having been brought to condign punishment, the French government has incurred a degree of implication in them, from which it is imperiously called upon to discharge itself. The Author of the Memorial asks, . , -- i
* Will the kind of protection which is now granted to the Protestants of Nismes be of long duration? The Protestant powers who have overthrown the Government under which they were protected, should at least become their protectors. It would be truly worthy