Chapter II.

New Catholic League, and Threatened Crusade against Protestantism.

We greatly err if we regard the above in the light of unconnected efforts. They are parts of a colossal plan, hatched in the Vatican, for the purpose of restoring arbitrary government and papal domination all over Europe. The European DEMOCRACY is the modern Sphinx: the dynasties of the Continent must solve her riddle, or be torn in pieces. They must either rule that democracy or annihilate it. Should they resolve on the first, not only must they feign to be in love with what at heart they abhor, but they must be prepared to grant concessions unlimited in magnitude and endless in number. It is now too late to adopt such a policy; and none know better than the ruling powers themselves, that were it adopted, it would speedily issue in the complete suspension of their functions and the total annihilation of their authority. In the face of constitutions ignored, oaths and promises violated, and the profuse expenditure of blood, which darken the history of the past three years, the least approach towards conciliation would be sternly repulsed by the democratic party. The second alternative only remains, --coercion. The democracy, and, along with that, whatever is free, whether in religion or in government, must be crushed promptly and universally. The last spark must be trodden out, else the conflagration will blaze afresh. Now, in this war the infallible Church presents herself to the absolutist state as by far its oldest and staunchest ally. Her organization, which is the most flexible that exists; her influence, which operates in a domain from which that of the state is shut out, --for, till the intellect and the conscience are blindfolded by superstition, power cannot succeed in permanently enslaving men; are all now made available. Moreover, it is equally the interest of both to quell this revolt; and what so likely as that a community of interest should suggest unity of action? A priori, then, we might infer the existence of a grand conspiracy against the liberties of Europe, even did not the facts already stated, and those we now proceed to state, render the existence of such a conspiracy undoubted. We do not, of course, know the day or the hour when this criminal confederacy was formed, --such transactions belong to the darkness; but the public measures of the conspirators enable us to read the history of their most secret hours, and to unveil the character of their deepest plots.

A crusade has been undertaken simultaneously in all the countries of Europe against civil and religious liberty. This bespeaks concert. The agents who conduct that crusade are the same everywhere, --the priest and the sbirro. Does not this denote confederacy between the ecclesiastical and the civil authorities for their joint domination? The catechism and the bayonet, --the Jesuit and the gendarme, --the Church and the army, --are in combined and vigorous action all over Europe. Look at Rome. Under Pius IX. the era of the worst popes has been revived. The return from Gaeta formed the commencement of a policy as astute in its foreign relations, and more oppressive in its home administration, than even that of Hildebrand. Infallibility sits behind a hedge of bayonets; its assessors are described as "assassins, galley-slaves, and thieves;" and the subordinate agents of its government are undoubtedly spies and police. The patriot, the scholar, the constitutionalist, have all been swept off to prison, or sent into exile. Felons only are at large, who celebrate the saturnalia of license under the archfelon of the Vatican. The fisherman's net is of steel, as its victims know. The keys are no mere symbol now, seeing Peter's successor has become a jailor. Rome, full of dungeons and desolate hearths, and cinctured with fresh graves, sits cowering beneath the baleful shadow of pontifical despotism. The Word of God dare not enter those gates within which the vicar of God sits enthroned. An edition of Diodati's Bible, amounting to some thousands, which was commenced by the American mission under the Roman Republic, lies locked up in the vaults of the Quirinal. The incarcerated Bibles and the incarcerated Romans tell the same tale: they proclaim the unchanged and unchangeable hostility of Rome to religious and civil freedom.

At Naples the same object is pursued by precisely the same methods. Whatever coercion, mental and physical, can do to make a people swallow down the doctrine that kings are divine and popes infallible, is now being done at Naples. The government is conducted by priests, police, and soldiers; the capital is full of spies; the confessional is worked to discover opinion, and the police to extirpate it. There, too, as in Rome, light, and, above all, Protestant light, is the object of profoundest dread. The press is locked, the Bible is prohibited, and the Jesuit laborers in his special vocation as a propagator of ignorance, or of something worse. The few schools taught by British Protestants have all been closed, and the whole youth of the country are under Jesuit tuition.

On Naples the gaze of the civilized world has been fixed, by the astounding disclosures of a British statesman. Let us look narrowly at this model kingdom, and its model king, for such Papists account Ferdinand. Here we behold a specimen of what all kings would be were the jurisdiction and teaching of the Roman Church universal. The acts of Ferdinand, which have filled the world with horror, are but the dogmas of Liguori applied to the science of government.

The tragedy now in progress in Naples commenced in dissimulation and Jesuitism. In 1848 the king inaugurated constitutional government, by swearing, "in the awful name of the Most Holy and Almighty God, to whom alone it appertains to read the depths of the heart, and whom we loudly invoke as the judge of the simplicity of our intentions." Promises and oaths were speedily followed by perfidies and perjuries. The constitution, so solemnly inaugurated, and which included a limited monarchy and two houses, with a guarantee for personal liberty, and the legality of imposts only when imposed by parliament, has been abrogated in every particular. But this crime is small compared with the atrocious maxim which has been unblushingly put forward to justify it, that the king's right is divine, that his powers are unlimited, and that no oaths which restrict his prerogative can bind him. Right orthodox doctrine, according to Liguori. A "Philosophical Catechism" has been compiled by a priest, who acts, of course, under his superiors, and is now, in virtue of a government order, used in all the schools, --"a work, one of the most singular and detestable," says Mr. Gladstone, "I have ever seen." The doctrine of this catechism is, that all who hold liberal opinions will be eternally damned; that kings may violate as many oaths as they please in the cause of papal and monarchical absolutism; and that "the Head of the Church has authority from God to release consciences from oaths, when he judges that there is suitable cause for it."[1]

In the history of the Papacy demoralizing doctrines have invariably been the prelude to dreadful tragedies: so has it been at Naples. A Jeffries redivivus, ferocious, cowardly, blood-thirsty, and as thoroughly the creature of the court as was the infamous minion of James VII., presides over the Neapolitan tribunals. The indiscriminate and insatiable tyranny of this man has swept off all who co-operated with the court in its brief but hollow attempt at constitutional rule; the patriot, the scholar, the gentleman, --all are in prison. From twenty to thirty thousand political prisoners, according to the estimate of Mr. Gladstone, are in the dungeons of Ferdinand. We wish that, like the novelist, we could take a single captive. This clanking of chains on every side, and this gathering of haggard faces, row upon row, till the woe-struck assemblage grows into thousands and tens of thousands, but distract and overwhelm us. These miserable crowds lie pent up in filthy prisons, heavily loaded with irons, and see the light of day only when it gilds the bars in the roof of their vault. Others have been disposed of in Ischia and the adjoining islands on the Neapolitan coast, where they rot in dungeons many feet below sea-level. One cannot point his foot on Neapolitan earth but it is above a dungeon. Where, in works of fiction, shall we find a tragedy like this? The genius of Shakspeare himself never painted a mightier woe.

But the question remains, Who is responsible for all this suffering? We reply by asking, Who taught Ferdinand to revoke the constitution? Who gave him a dispensation from an oath sworn "in the awful name of the Most Holy and Almighty God?" Who wrote the catechism which adjudges to eternal torments all who hold liberal opinions? And who, in fine, are the busy agents in this persecution? The priests of the Roman Church. That Church is responsible for all this suffering. The thirty thousand victims in Naples groan in chains, that such things as purgatory and transubstantiation, with all the revenues therefrom arising, may not be swept away, and the rule of infallibility exploded as a monstrosity. The Neapolitan sbirro, the French bombardier, and the Austrian Croat, are the triple alliance which props up the imposture of the Vatican; and whatever enormities they may choose to perpetrate, Rome must stand accountable for them at the bar of both human and divine justice.

Of the concordats with Spain and Germany we have already spoken. The object of these deeds is to bind these countries more firmly than ever to the Roman see. Claims are put forward, to which these governments would not have listened in ages termed less enlightened than our own; and, if granted, they will reduce the people to a pitch of vassalage unequalled by anything that obtained even in the dark ages. Of a kindred character is the concordat with Tuscany.[2] This instrument establishes, for the first time since the existence of the Florentine state, the complete subjection of the State to the Church, in all matters which the latter may choose to call spiritual: it empowers the Pope to send any number of bulls into the country, and the bishops to enforce them, subject to no control: it erects an ecclesiastical censorship over books and opinions; and it declares that the property of the Church shall be disposed of, not according to the laws of the land, but according to canon law. Those sovereign rights which the Seignory handed down and the Medici defended, the secular power has conspired to surrender into the hands of the spiritual. Between the Croats of Vienna and the priests of the Vatican, liberty is extinguished throughout Italy. The Alps and the Pyrenees enclose a region where men walk about in chains. The Lucifer of this pandemonium is the Pope. If he can prevent it, never shall a single Bible cross the Alps, and eternal darkness must be the fate of Italy.

France is not so retrograde, only because party and the press have still some power there. Louis Napoleon has sold himself and his country to the Pope, that the Pope may make him President for life: he has gone to the Vatican, as Saul went to the Witch of Endor, that he may obtain by sorcery what he cannot command by talent. Thus it is that European Yezideeism goes on. The Pope worships the devil, that he may give him the world; and Louis Napoleon worships the Pope, that he may give him France. Hence a great apparent revival of Popery in that country. The Jesuits being masters of the President, have their own way, and are uncontrolled, save by the mountain and the socialist masses. Pretensions which have lain dormant in France for twenty years have been revived within the past twelve months. Congregations and confraternities are again springing up. Crosses and Calvaries are rising on every road. The Jesuits spend the night in hatching plots, and the day in running about to execute them: they get up, with equal adroitness, sermons and miracles; they enact the schoolmaster, and pull the strings at a Madonna show; they busy themselves in tracking and prosecuting the journalist and the colporteur; they haunt the clubs and the saloons, and introduce themselves into families, and into every sort of society. The Abbé Dauparloup and his associates could not be more bustling and important, though Charles X., in his character of a religious ascetic, had returned from the tomb. Everywhere Jesuitism is seizing on waxen youth, erecting new colleges, expelling liberal professors, dismissing the communal schoolmasters in thousands, and obliging those who fill their places to take the pupils to church and to all the services. The Jesuits are drawing their web over all the country, in the shape of friars of the Christian doctrine, and lay brothers. In most parts of Italy a confession-ticket is demanded as the passport to public office and private employment; and it is not improbable that it will soon be so in France. Louis Napoleon, whom the Jesuits endure as the mere locum tenens of the Bourbon, leans upon the Church, and the Church upon Louis Napoleon; and a powerful army in the hands of the President has given unexpected but fictitious strength to Romanism in France.

In Austria, Prince Schwarzenberg has restored, in all their rigour, the twin-tyrannies of Jesuitism and absolutism. While all other religious bodies have had their privileges abridged, those of the Church of Rome have been fully restored. The placetum regium has been abolished, and the Pope now exercises in Austria uncontrolled power in the appointment of bishops. An association has been formed by the machinations of the Jesuits, called "The Young Catholic Association;" its recruits are drawn mainly from the youth in the schools. Every member, on entering, must swear fidelity to the Pope, and promise to concur in the establishment of missions throughout Austria, and in the realization of religious liberty, --a phrase which can mean only a right to extirpate Protestantism, seeing the Romanists already enjoy full liberty in Austria. During the summer of 1850, Jesuit intrigue had well-nigh precipitated Austria in sanguinary conflict upon Prussia. War was averted only by the concessions and humiliations of the King of Prussia at Olmutz. Protestant congregations in Hungary have been sadly harassed; and it was universally observed, that during the negotiations of 1850, the troops of Austria were quartered exclusively in Protestant districts, after the approved modes of punishing nonconformity set by Ferdinand II. at the beginning of the "thirty years' war," and by our own Charles II. during the "twenty-eight years' persecution."[3] And now the house of Hapsburg has fully returned to its traditionary maxims of rule, and has completed its reaction by its edict, in August of this year (1851), proclaiming the will of the Emperor the sole constitution of the country, and rendering the cabinet and the council of state accountable to the Emperor alone. Thus the last shred of constitutionalism has been swept away, and the naked fabric of pure unmitigated despotism has been set up in its room. Francis Joseph furnishes another example of the historical fact, that the vassals of the Church are uniformly the oppressors of their subjects.

That the Jesuit should nestle once more under the shadow of Schonbrunn, is not surprising; but it may well astonish us that Prussia should open its gates to these men. Yet the fact is as undoubted as it is melancholy. Frederick William, the professedly Protestant King of Prussia, has taken the viper to his bosom, and, with his kingdom, has joined the great anti-protestant league. This man's pedantry in speechmaking, and tinkering in the work of government, --his heroism in words and shortcomings in deeds, --his voice, which is the voice of a Protestant, and his hands, which are the hands of a Papist, --make him the James the Sixth of Germany. In a recent tour in his dominion, he received the popish bishops with smiles and genuflections, while he could find nothing but frowns and sharp reproofs for his protestant ministers. And why? Because they had permitted the Jesuits to outdo them in the courtly work of preaching the doctrine of "divine right" and "implicit obedience." Constitutional journals are silenced, and liberal professors are expelled. The Jesuits have undertaken to inculcate no precepts but those of order and loyalty, and therefore they are free of Prussia. They have descended the Rhine, bringing social dissensions and family discords in their train, and have now penetrated into all parts of the kingdom. There is no power in either the doctrines of Hegel and Fichte, or in the pietist party of Gerlach and Stahl, to resist the strides which despotic Austria is making towards political and ecclesiastical dominion in Prussia. Let Austria once get her barbarian but Catholic provinces into the German confederation, and the fate of Prussia as a Protestant power is sealed. The polypus arms of Roman Catholicism will be stretched over all northern Germany. Unhappy Frederick William! When he struck hands with Austria and the Jesuits, he little thought what woes he was entailing on his house and kingdom.

Nor is it without significance, as tending to prove that this re-action towards political and papal despotism in Germany is the result of concert and combination, that in the July of this summer (1851) the Grand Duke of Anhalt issued a proclamation "To my people." This document, which read as if some greater potentate had held the pen, told the world that "the German governments have pledged themselves to each other energetically to withstand the further development" of liberal principles. From the greatest to the pettiest despot, all have their faces turned towards Rome, as the grand central and model despotism. Every reforming and liberal influence is extinguished; every constitutional organ and party is crushed. The constitutionalist and the missionary are equally the objects of jealousy. The Jesuit and the jailor only can move freely about. Thus the arms of Continental Europe are once more at the service of a power which would stifle every aspiration towards liberty, and would entomb the world in the dense shadow of one colossal despotism.

The object of this league, avowed almost in so many words, is to undo the Reformation in both its political and spiritual effects. But success in this object is impossible, so long as Britain remains a free and Protestant country. This the papal powers very clearly perceive. Their policy, therefore, is either to convert Britain to Romanism and absolutism, or, if that is impossible, to put it down. To convert Britain is the design of the papal aggression, first, by the erection of the hierarchy; next, by introducing popish bishops into the House of Lords; next, by taking into their own hands the whole ecclesiastical and educational machinery of Ireland; next, by bringing over England to Romanism by means of tractarianism, aided by the multiplication of popish cathedrals, convents, and schools; and finally, by changing the coronation oath, marrying the heir-apparent to a popish princess, and, along with his conversion and accession to the throne, inaugurating their full domination in the country. But if we resist this aggression, we may prepare for one of a more physical kind. It is infallibility or the sword that Rome now offers to Britain. The exigencies of the times have forced this course upon the Papacy. Rome must advance. To stand still were, in her case, and in that of the absolutist powers, irretrievable ruin. They have an infidel democracy behind them; and, to conquer it, they must precipitate themselves upon Protestant Britain; for such despotisms as they are now attempting to set up cannot co-exist on the same globe with British constitutionalism and the Protestant faith. Self-preservation, then, dictates this course, and numerous and unequivocal indications point to it as resolved upon. When Cardinal Wiseman arrived in the country, all the papal powers sent him their congratulations. What was this but a defiance to Protestantism? Numerous hints have been dropped by Romanist preachers and organs, that if their rights are denied, the arms of the Catholic powers will enforce them. But the Univers has the merit of speaking frankly out. This is the leading Popish organ in Europe, and doubtless expresses the sentiments of its friends, when it preaches, as it now does, a new crusade against Protestantism. "A heretic examined and convicted by the Church," says L'Univers,[4] used to be delivered over to the secular power, and punished with death. Nothing has ever appeared to us more natural or more necessary. More than one hundred thousand persons perished in consequence of the heresy of Wicliffe; still greater number by that of John Huss; it would not be possible to calculate the bloodshed caused by the heresy of Luther, and it is not yet over. After three centuries, we are at the eve of a re-commencement." Such is the dreadful tragedy which is plotted, and the plotters are not at the pains decently to veil their enormously diabolical purpose. One great St. Bartholomew in Britain, and the reign of absolutism will be established, and the triumphs of the Vatican complete. From Naples, with its twenty thousand chained captives, to Austrian-garrisoned Hamburg, there extends a chain of political forts, linking together the various countries in one powerful confederacy, which converges ominously on Britain. Pelion is piled upon Ossa, and Ossa upon Pelion. Of this towering mass, which threatens alike the pandemonium of democracy below and the heaven of constitutionalism and Protestantism above, the base is Russia and the apex is Rome.

The ghost of the middle ages, --for in this confederacy the political and religious dogmas of these ages live over again, --the ghost of the middle ages, we say, which the world believed had been laid for ever at rest, has returned suddenly from its tomb of three centuries, and now stalks grimly through the awe-struck and terrified nations of Europe, with the mitre of the Church upon its brow, and the iron truncheon of the State in its hand. Its foot is planted with deadly pressure upon the necks of its own subjects; and its mailed arm is raised, to strike down with one decisive blow that one country which is the home of freedom and of Protestantism.

[1] Two Letters to the Earl of Aberdeen on the State Prosecutions of the Neapolitan Government; by the Right Honourable W. E. Gladstone; Lond. 1851. [Back]

[2] Gazetted in the "Tuscan Monitore" of July 5th, 1851. [Back]

[3] While we write, a proof has transpired of the intimate relations betwixt the priests and the governments, and the efforts which the former are prepared to make to maintain the latter. Austria has offered for a loan of eighty-five million francs. The loan has been subscribed for not at all in England; partially in Germany; more generally, though not quite voluntarily, in Austria. But mark! the Romish bishops have agreed to subscribe to the whole extent of the available means of the convents. [Back]

[4] "L'Univers," August 1851. [Back]