Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

wasting war, with a bankrupt treasury, and without a navy and army sufficient to cope with the powers of Europe allied against the French Republic. A man, wounded and faint from loss of blood, may express the liveliest sympathy for his brother sinking in the waters before his eyes, while he refrains from a plunge which he knows must be suicidal. We justify the Father of his Country, and thank God that so steady a hand was on the helm of our government in that critical hour. He was too unselfish to float along in the current of the popular enthusiasm; but he resisted that current, and put his adminis

2 tration into the minority in the next Congress, preferring temporary unpopularity for himself to permanent injury to his country,

Nor can we agree with the Preacher in his declaration that England's neutrality during our late civil war was of a character like that which we maintained toward France in her struggle with European despotism. Of the latter he says:

But while the people were willing, another spirit ruled the government. It hastened, with equal zeal and alacrity, to identify itself with the enemies both of the country and its principles. The doctrine of neutrality was then born into the political world

-a cup that has since been faithfully commended to our unwilling lips by the power that then won the chiefest benefit from its creation. How perfectly the type and the antitype agree. England's course toward us is exactly copied after that which we pursued against the French Republic.

We have read history in vain if this statement accords with the facts. We have yet to learn that Washington's neutrality toward France was a thinly disguised hostility, exhibiting itself in rejoicing over the defeats of the French armies, and in perinitting Alabamas to be fitted out in our ports under the British flag to prey upon French merchantmen, and that the United States accorded to the English vessels of war privileges in American ports which were denied to the French.

Mr. Haven eloquently portrays the indignities heaped upon America in the day of her recent troubles.

The recital of the acts in which the feelings of the British aristocracy found expression would be longer than that in which our first Congress indicted its King. Before a battle had been fought, even before an army on either side had been gathered, it took every possible step to insult, weaken, embarrass, and destroy Creator and Sustainer of all law, they both hardened their hearts, and yet God hardened them also. He allowed those natural laws to work their perfect work in them.” Hence, Davis clung to independence against all entreaties to make a compromise, till the Southern Confederacy fell, and he became a fugitive. This entire historical parallel is in a style of thrilling eloquence, exhibiting the fine analytical and descriptive powers of the writer.

Art. III.-ROMANISM AND THE COMMON SCHOOL

SYSTEM.

POPERY dissolves under the influence of American institutions and ideas. Years ago Bishop England, of Charleston, S. C., deplored this fact, in his correspondence with the Leopold Foundation, from which funds have been so largely drawn for Papal propagandism in America. The Romanist journals incessantly discuss the fact. Occasionally an American convert, like Father Hecker, boasts of the progress of Popery here; but his shrewder brethren rebuke his exaggerations, and show overwhelming proofs to the contrary. "There never was a greater error,” says the “Western Catholic;" "true, millions of Catholics, flying from misery in the Old World, have taken refuge in the New, and their millions of offspring now cover all the land. But this is a loss to the Church, not a gain; for two thirds of them are lost to their faith. There are ten millions, at least, of persons in these United States, born of Catholic parents, who are now heathens. There are said to be five millions still faithful to the faith of their fathers. The natural increase of Catholic population, in this country, is more than one hundred per cent. in a generation. If the same causes which are at work now continue, that one hundred per cent. will be lost to the Church as sure as it will come.” The Catholic journal of Philadelphia, “The Universe,” makes similar statements, and numbers the annual loss of Catholic children in New York city by tens of thousands.

Few, if any of these losses, can be attributed to direct Protestant efforts--to conversions from Popery. They are the ! result of indirect national influence. The first generation of the children of Catholic immigrants adhere, more or less, to the Church; the second generation are scarcely found at its altars ; the third generation are irrecoverably lost in the mass of liberalized American citizens. Papists are every-where about us; they are in all our houses, like the frogs of Egypt, but the process of Americanizing goes invincibly on; and the Church population does not keep pace with that of the nation, nor with that of Protestanism, nor with that of some individual Protestant denominations. Popery once possessed Canada, , Maryland, Florida, and Louisiana—the old Louisiana from New Orleans to St. Louis. Now Protestantism predominates in all those regions. In most of them Methodism alone is numerically stronger than Romanism. The former has, to-day, more churches in Baltimore (founded by Catholics) than the latter. According to the official census, from Washington, it has in the Republic more church accommodations, (sittings,) it has also a much more numerous clergy, and a larger population.

It is, then, an incontestable fact that Popery, as an effete or medieval system, is incompatible with the advanced thought of this country, and, therefore, in spite of its indefatigable exertions, and its accessions by immigration, it melts away under our civilization as the icebergs from the Pole dissolve when they get into the Gulf Stream. It is an exotic, and cannot thrive in our soil.

One fact tells fatally against it: it cannot raise up here an indigenous priesthood. Its young men become too much Americanized to be willing to enter numerously the ecclesiastical office with its celibacy, its hierarchical, un-American restrictions, and its medieval ideas and habits. Hence it must continually recruit its priesthood from Europe. How can such a Church succeed among the American people? What would become of any leading Protestant denomination-Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, or Episcopalian-were it dependent perpetually on an outlandish clergy? Could it be a power among the American people, who are so egotistically yet nobly national ? Young Catholics become, we have said, Americanized here, and that means Protestantized. The process of this change, this assimilation, is not, we reaffirm, in any direct proselyting influence of Protestant Churches. It is chiefly in the Common School System

[ocr errors]

of our education. It is there that intellect, aspiration, consideration, self-reliance, self-determination, are awakened. The enlightened citizen ceases to be the subjected Papist. There never has been, perhaps, in the history of the world, a more effective example of quiet, pervasive, invincible civilizing power than that presented in the American Common School. It is, as Burke called Chivalry," the cheap defense of nations.” The American Common Schools are the cheap and chief fortifications of the Republic.

The astuter, leading minds of Popery in America, have not failed to perceive this potent influence of the Common School. They acknowledge, at last, that they can no longer stand before it. Popery or the Common School must go down. There is absolutely no other alternative. Nearly all these men are foreigners, as are most of our population who still remain subject to their sway. To attack a public interest so dear to the national heart, so prized by the national intelligence, as the Common School, would be a delicate, perhaps a dangerous, experiment. They have, therefore, been very measured, very gradual in their opposition. They first required the expurgation of our text-books. Some of us remember this stage of the controversy in New York city. They have opposed the use of the "authorized ” English version of the Bible in the schools; Cincinnati has excluded it, and the opposition is appearing in Pittsburgh, Chicago, and other places; we cannot doubt that it will extend over the country. In this movement they have bad the co-operation of all opponents of the Christian Scripturesthe Jews, German Rationalists, skeptics, and the non-religious population of the country generally. But its success has emboldened them to disclose their real intent, namely, the destruction of the whole Common School System. Their opposition to the Bible was but tentative-a pretense. They now hesitate not to avow their hostility to the entire public education. They were supposed to be hostile to Protestant or sectarian partialities in the schools, and their hostility seemed plausible; but it is now seen that they are positively contending for sectarian, for ecclesiastical, education. The Jews, the German Rationalists, the non-religious population of the country generally, sided with them in their opposition to the Bible from hostility to sectarian education; but now that it has become

obvious that they assail the entire Common School System—that their ultimate aim is the substitution in its place of a more intensely sectarian system, an ecclesiastically controlled system, a Papal system-these non-Protestant auxiliaries cannot cooperate with them; they must necessarily fly to the opposite flag. And if the question becomes a party-political one, as seems inevitable, these allies will prove unavailable to the Papists. It will become a contest not only between Popery and Protestantism, but between Popery and the nation; between a non-American, a foreign hierarchy, on the one hand, and the American people, including Protestants, Jews, German Rationalists, and the non-religious population generally, on the other; a controversy over a fundamental, indefeasible condition of the national liberty and the national life. For no maxim in social and political life has been more completely demonstrated than that popular liberty, popular government, cannot co-exist with popular ignorance. Popular sovereignty essentially means popular intelligence and virtue. As the intelligence of the citizen is necessary to the very life of the State, these commonwealths have provided, at the expense of millions, for the common education of their juvenile population. To deny this right of the State is to deny its right to exist. The American people will summarily decide any question which touches its national life. There can be no doubt, therefore, of the issue of this contest if the controversy is rightly managed. So far as its ecclesiastical bearing is concerned, there is one Protestant denomination which alone is numerically competent to confront the Romanists, and it will not fail to do so, should the struggle go on. Its clergy and journals are now summoning it to preparation for that struggle; and in less than three months it will, we predict, stand ready to a man for the uncompromising defense of this great national interest.

We need hardly pause to prove that the contest has assumed this new aspect; that it is no longer a question of Bible or no Bible in the schools, but a question of Common Schools or no Common Schools. The avowals of the Romanists on the subject are explicit and quite universal. Purcell, the Cincinnati prelate, has avowed their position to the Board of Education in that city. Archbishop M'Closkey has declared it: “I can answer,” he says, “ that, so far as our Catholic children are con

[ocr errors]
« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »