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The Modern Regime, Volume 2 The Origins of Contemporary France, Volume 6 by Hippolyte A. Taine

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addition to the vow of chastity also taken by the secular priest, the
members of religious orders also take two other distinct and precise
vows. By the vow of poverty he (or she) renounces all property
whatever, at least that which is fully and completely his own,[3] the
arbitrary use of possessions, the enjoyment of what belongs to him
personally, which vow leads him to live like a poor man, to endure
privations, to labor, and beyond this, even to fasting, to
mortifications, to counteracting and deadening in himself all those
instincts by which man rebels against bodily suffering and aims at
physical well being. By the vow of obedience he (or she) gives
himself up entirely to a double authority: one, in writing, which is
discipline, and the other a living being, consisting of the superior
whose business it is to interpret, apply and enforce the rule. Except
in unheard-of cases, where the superior's injunctions might be
expressly and directly opposed to the letter of this rule,[4] he
interdicts himself from examining, even in his own breast, the
motives, propriety and occasion of the act prescribed to him; he has
alienated in advance future determinations by entirely abandoning
self-government; hence-forth, his internal motor is outside of himself
and in another person. Consequently, the unforeseen and spontaneous
initiative of free will disappears in his conduct to give way to a
predetermined, obligatory and fixed command, to a system (cadre) which
envelops him and binds together in its rigid compartments the entire
substance and details of his life, anticipating the distribution of
his time for a year, week by week, and for every day, hour by hour,
defining imperatively and circumstantially all action or inaction,
physical or mental, all work and all leisure, silence and speech,
prayers and readings, abstinences and meditations, solitude and
companionship, hours for rising and retiring, meals, quantity and
quality of food, attitudes, greetings, manners, tone and forms of
language and, still better, mute thoughts and the deepest sentiments.
Moreover, through the periodical repetition of the same acts at the
same hours, lie confines himself to a cycle of habits which are
forces, and which keep growing since they are ever turning the inward
balance on the same side through the ever-increasing weight of his
entire past. Through eating and lodging together, through a communion
of prayer, through incessant contact with other brethren of the same
religious observances, through the precaution taken to join with him
one companion when he goes out and two companions when he lodges
elsewhere, through his visits to and fro to the head establishment, he
lives in a circle of souls strained to the same extent, by the same
processes, to the same end as himself, and whose visible zeal
maintains his own. - Grace, in this state of things, abounds. Such is
the term bestowed on the silent and steady, or startling and brusque,
emotion by which the Christian enters into communication with the
invisible world, an aspiration and a hope, a presentiment and a
divination, and even often a distinct perception. Evidently, this
grace is not far off, almost within reach of the souls which, from the
tenor of their whole life, strive to attain it. They have closed
themselves off on the earthly side, therefore, these can no longer
look or breathe otherwise than heavenward.

At the end of the eighteenth century, the monastic institution no
longer produced this effect; deformed, weakened and discredited
through its abuses, especially in the convents of males, and then
violently overthrown by the Revolution, it seemed to be dead. But, at
the beginning of the nineteenth century, behold it springing up again
spontaneously, in one direct, new, strong and active jet and higher
than the old one, free of the excrescences, rottenness and parasites
which, under the ancient régime, disfigured and discolored it. No
more compulsory vows, no "frocked" younger sons "to make an elder," no
girls immured from infancy, kept in the convent throughout their
youth, led on, urged, and then driven into a corner and forced into
the final engagement on becoming of age; no more aristocratic
institutions, no Order of Malta and chapters of men or of women in
which noble families find careers and a receptacle for their
supernumerary children. No more of those false and counterfeit
vocations the real motive of which was, sometimes pride of race and
the determination not to lose a social standing, sometimes the animal
attractions of physical comfort, indolence and idleness. No more lazy
and opulent monks, occupied, like the Carthusians of Val Saint-Pierre,
in overeating, stupefied by digestion and routine, or, like the
Bernardines of Granselve[5] turning their building into a worldly
rendezvous for jovial hospitality and themselves taking part, foremost
in rank, in prolonged and frequent parties, balls, plays and hunting-
parties; in diversions and gallantries which the annual fête of Saint
Bernard, through a singular dissonance, excited and consecrated. No
more over-wealthy superiors, usufructuaries of a vast abbatial
revenue, suzerain and landlord seigniors, with the train, luxury and
customs of their condition, with four-horse carriages, liveries,
officials, antechamber, court, chancellorship and ministers of
justice, obliging their monks to address them as "my lord," as lax as
any ordinary layman, well fitted to cause scandal in their order by
their liberties and to set an example of depravity. No more lay
intrusions, commendatory abbés or priors, interlopers, and imposed
from above; no more legislative and administrative interferences[6] in
order to bind monks and nuns down to their vows, to disqualify them
and deprive them almost of citizenship, to exclude them from common
rights, to withhold from them rights of inheritance and testamentary
rights, from receiving or making donations, depriving them in advance
of the means of subsistence, to confine them by force in their
convents and set the patrol on their track, and, on trying to escape,
to furnish their superior with secular help and keep down
insubordination by physical constraint. Nothing of this subsists
after the great destruction of 1790. Under the modern régime, if any
one enters and remains in a convent it is because the convent is more
agreeable to him than the world outside; there is no other motive no
pressure or hindrance of an inferior or different kind, no direct or
indirect, no domestic or legal constraint, no ambition, vanity and
innate or acquired indolence, no certainty of finding satisfaction for
a coarse and concentrated sensuality. That which now operates is the
awakened and persistent vocation; the man or the woman who takes vows
and keeps them, enters upon and adheres to his or her engagement only
through a spontaneous act deliberately and constantly renewed through
their own free will.

Thus purified, the monastic institution recovers its normal form,
which is the republican and democratic form, while the impracticable
Utopia which the philosophers of the eighteenth century wanted to
impose on lay society now becomes the effective régime under which the
religious communities are going to live. In all of them, the
governors are elected by the governed; whether the suffrage is
universal or qualified, one vote is as good as another; votes are
counted by heads, and, at stated intervals, the sovereign majority
uses its right anew; with the Carmelites, it is every three years and
to elect by secret ballot, not alone one authority but all the
authorities, the prior, the sub-prior and the three clavières.[7] -
Once elected, the chief, in conformity with his mandate, remains a
mandatory, that is to say a laborer assigned a certain work, and not a
privileged person enjoying a gratification. His dignity is not a
dispensation, but an additional burden; along with the duties of his
office, he subjects himself to an observance of the rules - having
become a general, he is no better off than the simple soldier; he
rises as early and his daily life is no better; his cell is as bare
and his personal support not more expensive. He who commands ten
thousand others lives as poorly, under the same strict instructions,
with as few conveniences and with less leisure than the meanest
brother.[8] Over and above the austerities of ordinary discipline this
or that superior imposed on himself additional mortifications which
were so great as to astonish as well as edify his monks. Such is the
ideal State of the theorist, a Spartan republic, and for all,
including the chiefs, an equal ration of the same black broth. There
is another resemblance, still more profound. At the base of this
republic lies the corner-stone designed in anticipation by Rousseau,
then hewn and employed, well or ill, in the constitutions or
plébiscites of the Revolution, the Consulate and the Empire, to serve
as the foundation of the complete edifice. This stone is a primitive
and solemn agreement by all concerned, a social contract, a pact
proposed by the legislator and accepted by the citizens; except that,
in the monastic pact, the will of the acceptors is unanimous, earnest,
serious, deliberate and permanent, while, in the political pact, it is
not so; thus, whilst the latter contract is a theoretical fiction, the
former is an actual verity.

For, in the small religious cité, all precautions are taken to have
the future citizen know for what and how far he engages himself. The
copy of the rules which is handed to him in advance explains to him
the future use of each day and of each hour, the detail in full of the
régime to which he is to subject himself. Besides this, to forestall
any illusion and haste on his part he is required to make trial of the
confinement and discipline; he realizes through personal, sensible and
prolonged experience what he must undergo; before assuming the habit,
he must serve a novitiate of at least one year and without
interruption. Simple vows sometimes precede the more solemn vows; with
the Jesuits, several novitiates, each lasting two or three years,
overlie and succeed each other. Elsewhere, the perpetual engagement
is taken only after several temporary engagements; up to the age of
twenty-five the "Fréres des Ecoles Chrétiennes" take their vows for a
year; at twenty-five for three years; only at twenty-eight do they
take them for life. Certainly, after such trials, the postulant is
fully informed; nevertheless, his superiors contribute what they know.
They have watched him day after day; deep down under his superficial,
actual and declared disposition they define his profound, latent, and
future intention; if they deem this insufficient or doubtful, they
adjourn or prevent the final profession: "My child, wait-your vocation
is not yet determined," or "My friend, you were not made for the
convent, return to the world!" - Never was a social contract signed
more knowingly, after greater reflection on what choice to make, after
such deliberate study: the conditions of human association demanded by
the revolutionary theory are all fulfilled and the dream of the
Jacobins is realized. But not where they planned it: through a
strange contrast, and which seems ironical in history, this day-dream
of speculative reason has produced nothing in the lay order of things
but elaborate plans on paper, a deceptive and dangerous Declaration
of (human) Rights, appeals to insurrection or to a dictatorship:
incoherent or still-born organizations, in short, abortions or
monsters; in the religious order of things, it adds to the living
world thousands of living creatures of indefinite viability. So that,
among the effects of the French revolution, one of the principal and
most enduring is the restoration of monastic institutions....

From the Consulate down to the present day they can everywhere be seen
sprouting and growing. Early, new sprouts shoot out and cover the old
trunks of which the revolutionary axe had cut off the branches. In
1800, "the re-establishment of a corporation shocked current
ideas."[9] But the able administrators of the Consulate required
volunteer women for service in their hospitals. In Paris, Chaptal,
the minister, comes across a lady superior whom he formerly knew and
enjoins her to gather together ten or a dozen of her surviving
companions; he installs them in the rue Vieux-Colombier, in a building
belonging to the hospitals, and which he furnishes for forty novices;
at Lyons, he notices that the "Sisters" of the general hospital were
obliged, that they might perform their duties, to wear a lay dress; he
authorizes them to resume their costume and their crosses; he allows
them two thousand francs to purchase necessaries, and, when they have
donned their old uniform, he presents them to the First Consul. Such
is the first sprout, very small and very feeble, that appears in the
institution of Saint-Vincent de Paule at Paris and in that of Saint-
Charles at Lyons. In our days[10](around 1885), the congregation of
Saint-Charles, besides the parent-house at Lyons, has 102 others with
2,226 nuns, and the congregation of Saint-Vincent de Paule, besides
the parent-house at Paris, has 88 others with 9,130 nuns. Often, the
new vegetation on the trunk amputated by the Revolution is much richer
than on the old one; in 1789, the institution of the "Fréres des
Ecoles Chrétiennes" had 800 members; in 1845, there were 4,000; in
1878, 9,818; on the 31st of December, 1888, there were 12,245. In
1789, it counted 126 houses; in 1888, there were 1,286. - Meanwhile,
alongside of the old plantations, a large number of independent germs,
new species and varieties, spring up spontaneously, each with its own
aim, rules and special denomination. On Good Friday, April 6, 1792, at
the very date of the decree of the Legislative Assembly abolishing all
religious communities,[11] one is born, that of the "Sœurs de la
Retraite Chrétienne," at Fontenelle, and, from year to year, similar
plants constantly and suddenly spring out of the ground for a century.
The list is too long to be counted; a large official volume of more
than four hundred pages is filled with the mere statement of their
names, localities and statistics. - This volume, published in 1878,
divides religious institutions into two groups. We find in the first
one, comprising the legally authorized societies, at first 5
congregations of men possessing 224 establishments with 2,418 members,
and 23 associations of men with 20,341 members and supplying 3,086
schools; next, 259 congregations of women and 644 communities which
possess 3,196 establishments, supplying 16,478 schools and counting
113,750 members. In the second group, comprising unauthorized
societies, we find 384 establishments of men with 7,444 members, and
602 establishments of women with 14,003 members, - in all, in both
groups, 30,287 brethren and 127,753 sisters. Considering the total
population, the proportion of brethren in 1789 and in our day is about
the same; it is their spirit which has changed; at the present day,
all desire to remain in their profession, while in 1789 two-thirds
wanted to withdraw from it. As to the proportion of Sisters, it has
increased beyond all calculation.[12] Out of 10,000 women in the
population, there were, in 1789, 28 Sisters; in 1866, 45; in 1878,

Carmelites, Clarisses, Filles du Cœur de Jésus, Réparatrices, Sœurs du
Saint-Sacrament, Visitandines, Franciscaines, Benedictines and others
like these, about 4000 nuns or sisters, are contemplatists. The
Carthusians, Cistercians, Trappists, and some others, about 1800 monks
and brethren who, for the most part, till the ground, do not impose
labor on themselves other than as an accessory exercise; their first
and principal object is prayer, meditation and worship; they, too,
devote their lives to contemplation on the other world and not to the
service of this one. But all the others, more than 28,000 men and
more than 123,000 women, are benefactors by institution and voluntary
laborers, choosing to devote themselves to dangerous, revolting, and
at least ungrateful services - missions among savages and barbarians,
care of the sick, of idiots, of the insane, of the infirm, of the
incurable, the support of poor old men or of abandoned children;
countless charitable and educational works, primary schools, orphan
asylums, houses of refuge and prisons, and all gratuitously or at the
lowest wages through a reduction of bodily necessities to the lowest
point, and of the personal expenditure of each brother or sister.[14]
Evidently, with these men and with these women, the ordinary balance
of motives which prompt people is reversed; in the inward balance of
the scale it is no longer selfishness which prevails against altruism,
but the love of others which prevails against selfishness. - Let us
look at one of their institutions just at the moment of its formation
and see how the preponderance passes over from the egoistic to the
social instinct. The first thing we always find at the origin of the
enterprise is compassion; a few kind hearts have been moved at the
aspect of misery, degradation and misconduct; souls or bodies were in
distress and there was danger of shipwreck; three or four saviors have
come to the rescue. At Rouen, in 1818, it is a poor girl who, by
advice of her curé, brings together a few of her friends in her
garret; during the day they study in a class and at night they work
for their living; today, under the title of "Sœurs du Sacré-Cœur de
Jésus," they number 800. Elsewhere, at Laval, the founder of the
House of Refuge for poor repentants is a plain ironing-girl who began
her " House" by charitably harboring two prostitutes; these brought
others, and there are now a hundred of similar institutions. Most
frequently, the founder is the desservant or vicar of the place, who,
moved by local misery, fancies at first that he is doing only local
work. Thus, there is born in 1806 at Rouissé-sur-Loire the
congregation of "La Providence," which now has 918 "Sisters," in 193
houses; in 1817, at Lovallat, the association of "Les Petits-Frères de
Marie," which numbers to-day 3600 brethren; in 1840, at Saint-Servan,
the institution of "Les Petites-Sœurs des Pauvres," who now number
2685, and, with no other help but alms-giving, feed and care for, in
their 158 houses, 20,000 old men, of which 13,000 live in their 93
domiciles in France; they take their meals after the inmates, and eat
only what they leave; they are prohibited from accepting any endowment
whatever; by virtue of their rules they are and remain mendicants, at
first, and especially, in behalf of their old men, and afterwards and
as accessory, in their own behalf. Note the circumstances of the
undertaking and the condition of the founders - they were two village
work-women, young girls between sixteen and eighteen for whom the
vicar of the parish had written short regulations (une petite règle);
on Sunday, together in the cleft of a rock on the seaside, they
studied and meditated over this little summary manual, performed the
prescribed devotions, this or that prayer or orison at certain hours,
saying their beads, the station in the church, self-examination and
other ceremonies of which the daily repetition deposits and
strengthens the supernatural mental conception. Such, over and above
natural pity, is the superadded weight which fixes the unstable will
and maintains the soul permanently in a state of abnegation. - At
Paris, in the two halls of the Prefecture of Police, where prostitutes
and female thieves remain for a day or two in provisional confinement,
the " Sisters '' of "Marie-Joseph," obliged by their vows to live
constantly in this sewer always full of human dregs, sometimes feel
their heart failing them; fortunately, a little chapel is arranged for
them in one corner where they retire to pray, and in a few minutes
they return with their store of courage and gentleness again revived.
- Father Etienne, superior of the "Lazarists" and of the " Filles de
Saint-Vincent de Paule," with the authority of long experience, very
justly observed to some foreign visitors,[15] "I have given you the
details of our life, but I have not told you the secret of it. This
secret, here it is - it is Jesus Christ, known, loved, and served in
the Eucharist."

II. Evolution of the Catholic Church.

The mystic faculty. - Its sources and works. - Evangelical
Christianity. - Its moral object and social effect. - Roman
Christianity. - Development of the Christian idea in the West. -
Influence of the Roman language and law. - Roman conception of the
State. - Roman conception of the Church.

In the thirteenth century, to the communicant on his knees about to
receive the sacrament, the Host often faded out of sight; it
disappeared, and, in its place, appeared an infant or the radiant
features of the Savior and, according to the Church doctors, this was
not an illusion but an illumination.[16] The veil had lifted, and the
soul found itself face to face with its object, Jesus Christ present
in Eucharist. This was second sight, infinitely superior in certainty
and reach to the former, a direct, full view granted by grace from
above, a supernatural view. - By this example, which is an extreme
case, we comprehend in what faith consists. It is an extraordinary
faculty operating alongside of and often in conjunction with our
natural faculties; over and above things as our observation naturally
presents them to us, it reveals to us a beyond, a majestic, grandiose
world, the only one truly real and of which ours is but the temporary
veil. In the depths of the soul, much below the superficial crust of
which we have any conscience,[17] impressions have accumulated like
subterranean waters. There, under the surging heat of innate
instincts, a living spring has burst forth, growing and bubbling in
the obscurity; let a shock or a fissure intervene and it suddenly
sprouts up and forces its way above the surface; the man who has this
within him and in whom it overflows is amazed at the inundation and no
longer recognizes himself; the visible field of his conscience is
completely changed and renewed; in place of his former and vacillating
and scattered thoughts he finds an irresistible and coherent belief, a
precise conception, and intense picture, a passionate affirmation,
sometimes even positive perceptions of a species apart and which come
to him not from without but from within, not alone mere mental
suggestions, like the dialogues of the "Imitation" and the
"intellectual locutions" of the mystics, but veritable physical
sensations like the details of the visions of Saint Theresa, the
articulate voices of Joan of Arc and the bodily stigmata of Saint

In the first century, this beyond discovered by the mystic faculty was
the kingdom of God, opposed to the kingdoms of this world;[18] these
kingdoms, in the eyes of those who revealed them, were worthless;
through the keen insight of the moral and social instinct, these
large, generous and simple hearts had divined the internal defect of
all the societies or States of the century. Egoism in these was too
great; there was in them a lack of charity,[19] the faculty of loving
another equally with one's self, and thus of loving, not only a few,
but all men, whoever they might be, simply because they were men, and
especially the meek, the humble and the poor; in other words, the
voluntary repression of the appetites by which the individual makes of
himself a center and subordinates other lives to himself, the
renunciation of "the lusts of the flesh, of the eyes and of vanity,
the insolence of wealth and luxury, of force and of power."[20] -
Opposed to and in contrast with this human order of things, the idea
of a divine order of things was born and developed itself - a Heavenly
Father, his reign in heaven, and very soon, perhaps on the morrow, his
reign here below; his son descending to the earth to establish his
reign and dying on the cross for the salvation of men; after him, his
Spirits, sent by him, the inward breath which animates his disciples
and continues his work; all men brethren and beloved children of the
same common father; here and there spontaneous groups who have learned
"these good tidings" and propagated them; small scattered communities
which live in the expectation of an ideal order of things and yet, by
anticipation, realizing it from this time forth; "All[21] were of one
heart and one soul, . . . for as many as were possessors of lands or
houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold
and laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made
unto every man according as he had need," all happy in being together,
in mutual love and in feeling themselves regenerate or pure.

Here is to be found in the soul a new regulator and motor, and
moreover a powerful organ, appropriate and effective, obtained through
internal recasting and metamorphosis, like the wings with which an
insect is provided after its transformation. In every living organism,
necessity, through tentative effort and selections, thus produces the
possible and requisite organ. In India, five hundred years before our
era, it was Buddhism; in Arabia, six hundred years after our era, it
was Islam; in our western societies it is Christianity. At the present
day, after eighteen centuries on both continents, from the Ural to the
Rocky Mountains, amongst Russian moujiks and American settlers, it
works as formerly with the fishermen of Galilee and in the same way,
in such a way as to substitute for the love of self the love of
others; neither in substance nor in use has any change taken place;
under its Greek, Catholic or Protestant envelope, it is still, for
four hundred millions of human beings, the spiritual means, the great,
indispensable pair of wings by which man rises upward above himself,
above his groveling existence and his limited horizons, leading him on
through patience, hope and resignation to serenity, and beyond to
temperance, purity, goodness, and self-devotion and self-sacrifice.
Always and everywhere, for the past eighteen hundred years, as soon as
these wings grow feeble or give way, public and private morals
degenerate. In Italy, during the Renaissance, in England under the
restoration, in France under the Convention and Directory, man becomes
as pagan as in the first century; the same causes render him the same
as in the times of Augustus and Tiberius, that is to say voluptuous
and cruel: he abuses himself and victimizes others; a brutal,
calculating egoism resumes its ascendancy, depravity and sensuality
spread, and society becomes a den of cut-throats and a brothel.[22]

After contemplating this spectacle near by, we can value the
contribution to modern societies of Christianity, how much modesty,
gentleness and humanity it has introduced into them, how it maintains
integrity, good faith and justice. Neither philosophic reason,
artistic or literary culture, or even feudal, military or chivalric
honor, nor any administration or government can replace it. There is
nothing else to restrain our natal bent, nothing to arrest the
insensible, steady, down-hill course of our species with the whole of
its original burden, ever retrograding towards the abyss. Whatever its
present envelope may be, the old Gospel still serves as the best
auxiliary of the social instinct.

Among its three contemporary forms, that which groups together the
most men, about 180 millions of believers, is Catholicism, in other
words, Roman Christianity, which two words, comprising a definition,
contain a history. At the origin, on the birth of the Christian
principle, it expressed itself at first in Hebrew, the language of
prophets and of seers; afterwards, and very soon, in Greek, the
language of the dialecticians and philosophers; at last, and very
late, in Latin, the language of the jurisconsults and statesmen; then
come the successive stages of dogma. All the evangelical and
apostolic texts, written in Greek, all the metaphysical
speculations,23 also in Greek, which served as commentary on these,
reached the western Latins only through translations. Now, in
metaphysics, Latin poorly translates the Greek[24]; it lacks both the
terms and the ideas; what the Orient says, the Occident only half
comprehends; it accepts this without dispute and confidently holds it
as truth.[25] At length in its turn, in the fourth century, when,
after Theodosius, the Occident breaks loose from the Orient, it
intervenes, and it intervenes with its language, that is to say with
the provision of ideas and words which its culture provided; it
likewise had its instruments of precision, not those of Plato and
Aristotle, but others, as special, forged by Ulpian, Gaius and twenty
generations of jurists through the original invention and immemorial
labor of Roman genius. "To say what is law," to impose rules of
conduct on men, is, in abridged form, the entire practical work of the
Roman people; to write this law out, to formulate and coordinate these
rules, is, in abridged form, its entire scientific work, and with the
Romans in the third, fourth and fifth centuries, during the decadence
of other studies, the science of law was still in full force and
vigor.[26] Hence, when the Occidentals undertook the interpretation
of texts and the elaboration of the Creed it was with the habits and
faculties of jurisconsults, with the preoccupations and mental
reservations of statesmen, with the mental and verbal instruments
which they found suitable. In those days, the Greek doctors, in
conflict with the monophysites and monothelites, brought out the
theory of the divine essence; at the same date, the Latin doctors,
opposing the Pelagians, Semi-Pelagians and Donatists, founded the
theory of human obligation.[27] Obligation, said the Roman jurists,
is a lien of law" by which we are held to doing or suffering
something to free us from indebtedness. Out of this juridical
conception, which is a masterpiece of Roman jurisprudence, issued, as
with a bud full of sap, the new development of the Creed. - On the one
hand, we are obligated towards God, for, in relation to him, we are,
in legal terms, insolvent debtors, heirs of an infinite debt,
incapable of paying it and of satisfying our creditor except through
the interpostion of a superhuman third person[28] who assumes our
indebtedness as his own; still more precisely, we are delinquents,
guilty from birth and by inheritance, condemned en masse and then
pardoned en masse, but in such a way that this pardon, a pure favor,
not warranted by any merit of our own, always remains continual and
revocable at will; that, for a few only, it is or becomes plenary and
lasting, that no one amongst us can be sure of obtaining it, and that
its award, determined beforehand on high, forever remains for us a
State secret. Hence the prolonged controversies on Predestination,
Free-will and Original Sin, and the profound investigations on man
before, during and after the Fall. Hence, also, the accepted
solutions, not very conclusive and, if one pleases, contradictory, but
practical, average and well calculated for maintaining mankind in
faith and obedience, under the ecclesiastical and dogmatic government
which, alone, is authorized to lead man on in the way of salvation.

On the other hand, we are obligated to the Church, for she is a cité,
the city of God, and, following the Roman definition, the cité is not
an abstract term, a collective term, but a real, positive existence,
"the commonwealth " (chose publique), that is to say a distinct entity
consisting of generations which succeed each other in it, of infinite
duration and of a superior kind, divine or nearly so, which does not
belong to individuals but to which they belong, an organized body,
with special form and structure, based on traditions, constituted by
laws and ruled by a government. The absolute authority of the
community over its members and the despotic leadership of the
community by its chiefs - such is the Roman notion of the State and,
for much stronger reasons, of the Church. She, thus, is a militant,
conquering, governing Rome, predestined to universal empire, a
legitimate sovereign like the other one, but with a better title, for
she derives hers from God. It is God who, from the beginning, has
preconceived and prepared her, who has bodied her forth in the Old
Testament and announced her through the prophets; it is the Son of God
who has built her up, who, to all eternity, will never fail to
maintain and guide her steps, who, through his constant inspiration,
ever remains present in her and active through her. He has committed
to her his revelation. She alone, expressly delegated by Christ,
possesses second sight, the knowledge of the invisible, the
comprehension of the ideal order of things as its Founder prescribed
and instituted, and hence, accordingly, the custodianship and
interpretation of the Scriptures, the right of framing dogmas and
injunctions, of teaching and commanding, of reigning over souls and
intellects, of fashioning belief and morals. Henceforth, the mystic
faculty is to be confined within dikes. At bottom, this is the
faculty for conceiving of the ideal, to obtain a vision of it, to have
faith in this vision and to act upon it; the more precious it is the
greater the necessity of its being under control. To preserve it from
itself, to put it on guard against the arbitrariness and diversity of
individual opinions, to prevent unrestrained digression, theoretically
or practically, either on the side of laxity or of rigor, requires a
government. - That this is a legacy of ancient Rome the Catholic
Church does not dispute. She styles herself the Roman Church. She
still writes and prays in Latin. Rome is always her capital; the
title of her chief is that which formerly designated the head of the
pagan cult; after 1378 all the Popes except five, and since 1523 all,
have been Italians; at the present day, thirty-five out of sixty-four
cardinals are likewise Italians. The Roman stamp becomes still more
evident on comparing the millions of Christians who are Catholics with
the millions of Christians who are not. Among the primitive
annexations and ulterior acquisitions of the Roman Church, several
have separated from her, those of the countries whose Greek, Slavic
and Germanic populations never spoke Latin and whose language is not
derived from the Latin. Poland and Ireland are alone, or nearly so,
the only countries which have remained loyal, because, with these, the
Catholic faith, under the long pressure of public calamities, has
become incorporated with national sentiment. Elsewhere the Roman
deposit is non-existent or too thin. On the contrary, all the
populations that were once Latinized have at bottom remained Catholic;
four centuries of imperial rule and of Roman assimilation have
deposited in them of layers of habits, ideas and sentiments which
endure.[29] To measure the influence of this historic layer it is
sufficient to note that three elements compose it, all three
contemporary, of the same origin and of the same thickness, a Roman
language, the civil law of Rome, and Roman Christianity; each of these
elements, through its consistence, indicates the consistence of the

Hence the profound and established characteristics by which the
Catholic branch now distinguishes itself from the other two issuing
from the same Christian trunk. With the Protestants, the Bible, which
is the Word of God, is the sole spiritual authority; all the others,
the Doctors, Fathers, tradition, Popes and Councils, are human and,
accordingly, fallible; in fact, these have repeatedly and gravely
erred.[30] The Bible, however, is a text which each reader reads with
his own eyes, more or less enlightened and sensitive, with eyes which,
in Luther's time, possessed the light and sensibility of the sixteenth
century, and which, at the present time, read with the sensibility and
light of the nineteenth century; so that, according to epochs and
groups, the interpretation may vary, while authority, if not as
regards the text, or at least its meaning, belongs wholly to the
individual. With the Greeks and Slavs, as with the Catholics, it
belongs only to the Church, that is to say to the heads of the Church,
the successors of the apostles. But with the Greeks and Slavs, since
the ninth century, the Church had decreed no new dogmas; according to
her, revelation had stopped; the creed was finished, final and
complete, and there was nothing to do but to maintain it. - On the
contrary, with the Catholics, after as before that date, the creed
never ceased developing itself, always becoming more precise, and
revelation kept on; the last thirteen councils were inspired like the
first seven, while the first one, in which Saint Peter at Jerusalem
figured, enjoyed no more prerogatives than the last one convoked by
Pius IX. at the Vatican. The Church is not "a frozen corpse,"[31]
but a living body, led by an always active brain which pursues its
work not only in this world but likewise in the next world, at first
to define it and next to describe it and assign places in it; only
yesterday she added two articles of faith to the creed, the immaculate
conception of the Virgin and the infallibility of the Pope; she
conferred ultra-terrestrial titles; she declared Saint Joseph patron
of the universal Church; she canonized Saint Labre; she elevated Saint
François de Sales to the rank of Doctor. But she is as conservative
as she is active. She retracts nothing of her past, never rescinding
any of her ancient decrees; only, with the explanations, commentaries
and deductions of the jurist, she fastens these links closer together,
forms an uninterrupted chain of them extending from the present time
back to the New Testament and, beyond, through the Old Testament, to
the origins of the world, in such a way as to coordinate around
herself the entire universe and all history. Revelations and
prescriptions, the doctrine thus built up is a colossal work, as
comprehensive as it is precise, analogous to the Digest but much more
vast; for, besides canon law and moral theology, she includes dogmatic
theology, that is to say, besides the theory of the visible world, the
theory of the invisible world and its three regions, the geography of
Hell, Purgatory and Paradise, immense territories of which our earth
is merely the vestibule, unknown territories inaccessible to sense and
reason, but whose confines, entrances, issues and subdivisions, the
inhabitants and all that concerns them, their faculties and their
communications, are defined, as on Peutinger's map and in the Notitia
imperii romani, with extraordinary clearness, minutia and exactitude,
through a combination of the positive spirit and the mystic spirit and
by theologians who are at once Christians and administrators. In this
relation, examine the "Somme" of Saint Thomas. Still at the present
day his order, the Dominican, furnishes at Rome those who are
consulted on matters of dogma; or rather, in order to abridge and
transcribe scholastic formula into perceptible images, read the
"Divine Comedy "by Dante.[32] It is probable that this description,
as far as imagination goes, is still to-day the most exact as well as
most highly-colored presentation of the human and divine world as the
Catholic Church conceives it. She has charge of its keys and reigns
and governs in it. The prestige of such a government over multitudes
of minds and souls, susceptible to discipline, without personal
initiative, and in need of firm and systematic guidance, is supreme.
It is equal to or superior to that of the ancient roman State with its
120 million subjects. Outside of the Empire all seemed to these souls
anarchy or barbarism; the same impression exists with the Catholics in
relation to their Church. Whether spiritual or temporal, an authority
is more likely to be approved and venerated when, always visible and
everywhere present, it is neither arbitrary nor capricious, but
orderly, restrained by texts, traditions, legislation and
jurisprudence, derived from above and from a superhuman source,
consecrated by antiquity and by the continuity, coherence and grandeur
of its work, in short, by that character which the Latin tongue is
alone capable of expressing and which it terms majesty.

Among the acts which religious authority prescribes to its subjects,
there are some which it imposes in its own name - rites, outward
ceremonies and other observances - of which the principal ones, in the
Catholic catechism, form a sequence to the "commandments of God," and
which are entitled the "commandments of the Church." - With the
Protestants, where Church authority is almost gone, rites have almost
disappeared; considered in themselves, they have ceased to be regarded
as obligatory or meritorious; the most important ones, the Eucharist
itself, have been retained only as commemorative or as symbolic; the
rest, fasts, abstinences, pilgrimages, the worship of saints and the
Virgin, relics of the cross, words committed to memory, genuflections
and kneeling before images or altars, have been pronounced vain; in
the way of positive injunctions none remain but the reading of the
Bible, while duty in outward demonstration of piety is reduced to
piety within, to the moral virtues, to truthfulness, probity,
temperance and steadfastness, to the energetic determination to
observe the watchword received by man in two forms and which he finds
in two concordant examples, in the Scriptures as interpreted by his
conscience, and in his conscience as enlightened by the Scriptures.
As another consequence, the Protestant priest has ceased to be a
delegate from on high, the indispensable mediator between man and God,
alone qualified to give absolution and to administer the rites by
which salvation is obtained; he is simply a man, graver, more learned,
more pious and more exemplary than other men, but, like the others,
married, father of a family and entering into civil life, in short a
semi-layman. The laymen whom he leads owe him deference, not
obedience; he issues no orders; he sentences nobody; speaking from the
rostrum to a gathering is his principal, almost unique, office, and
the sole purpose of this is instruction or an exhortation. - With the
Greeks and Slaves, with whom the authority of the Church is merely of
a preservative nature, all the observances of the twelfth century have
subsisted, as rigorously in Russia as in Asia Minor or in Greece,
although fasting and Lents, which Southern stomachs can put up with,
are unhealthy for the temperaments of the North. Here, likewise, these
observances have assumed capital importance. The active sap,
withdrawn from theology and the clergy, flows nowhere else; these, in
an almost paralyzed religion, constitute almost the sole vivifying
organ, as vigorous and often more so, than ecclesiastical authority;
in the seventeenth century, under the patriarch Nicon, thousands of
"old believers," on account of slight rectifications of the liturgy,
the alteration of a letter in the Russian translation of the name of
Jesus, and the sign of the cross made by three instead of two fingers,
separated themselves and, to-day, these dissenters, multiplied by
their sects, count by millions. Defined by custom, every rite is
sacred, immutable, and, when exactly fulfilled, sufficient in itself
and efficacious; the priest who utters the words and makes the motions
is only one piece in the mechanism, one of the instruments requisite
for a magic incantation; after his instrumentation, he falls back into
his human negativity; he is nothing more than an employee paid for his
ministration. And this ministration is not exalted in him by an
extraordinary and visible renunciation, by perpetual celibacy, by
continence promised and kept; he is married,[33] father of a family,
needy, obliged to shear his flock to support himself and those
belonging to him, and therefore is of little consideration; he is
without moral ascendancy; he is not the pastor who is obeyed, but the
official who is made use of.

The role of the priest in the Catholic Church is quite different.
Through her theory of rites she confers on him incomparable dignity
and real personal power. - According to this theory, observances and
ceremonies possess intrinsic and peculiar virtue; undoubtedly, these
require some mental base, which is found in earnest piety; but earnest
piety independent of these is not enough; it lacks its final
consequence, its praiseworthy completion or "satisfaction,"[34] the
positive act by which we atone for our sins to God and demonstrate our
obedience to the Church.[35] It is the Church, the living interpreter
of God's will, which prescribes these rites; she is then the mistress
of these and not the servant; she is empowered to adapt their details
and forms to necessities and circumstances, to lighten or simplify
them according to time and place, to establish the communion in one
shape, to substitute the Host in place of bread, to lessen the number
and rigor of the ancient Lents, to determine the effects of diverse
pious works, to apply, ascribe and transfer their salutary effects, to
assign proper value and reward to each devotional act, to measure the
merit derived from them, the sins they efface and the pardons these
obtain not only in this world but in the next one. By virtue of her
administrative habits, and with the precision of a bookkeeper, she
casts up her accounts of indulgences and notes on the margin the
conditions for obtaining them, - a certain prayer repeated so many
times on certain days and what for, so many days less in the great
penitentiary into which every Christian, however pious, is almost sure
to get on dying, this or that diminution of the penalty incurred, and
the faculty, if the penitent rejects this deduction for himself, of
bestowing the benefit on another. By virtue of her authoritative
habits and the better to affirm her sovereignty, she regards as
capital sins the omission of the rites and ceremonies she commands, -
"not going to mass on Sunday or on fête-days;[36] eating meat on
Friday or Saturday unnecessarily;" not confessing and communing at
Easter, a mortal sin which "deprives one of the grace of God and
merits eternal punishment" as well as "to slay and to steal something
of value." For all these crimes, unforgivable in themselves, there is
but one pardon, the absolution given by the priest, that is to say,
confession beforehand, itself being one of the observances to which we
are bound by strict obligation and at the very least once a year.

Through this office the Catholic priest rises above human conditions
to an immeasurable height; for, in the confessional, he exercises
supreme power, that which God is to exercise at the Last Judgment, the
formidable power of punishing or remitting sins, of judgment or of
absolution, and, if he intervenes on the death-bed, the faculty of
consigning the impenitent or repentant soul to an eternity of rewards
or to an eternity of damnation.[37] No creature, terrestrial or
celestial, not even the highest of archangels, or St. Joseph or the
Virgin,[38] possesses this veritably divine prerogative. He alone
holds it through exclusive delegation, by virtue of a special
sacrament, the order which assigns to him the privilege of conferring
five others, and which endows him for life with a character apart,
ineffaceable and supernatural. - To render himself worthy of it, he
has taken a vow of chastity, he undertakes to root out from his flesh
and his heart the consequences of sex; he debars himself from marriage
and paternity; through isolation, he escapes all family influences,
curiosities and indiscretions; he belongs wholly to his office. He has
prepared himself for it long beforehand, he has studied moral theology
together with casuistry and become a criminal jurist; and his sentence
is not a vague pardon bestowed on penitents after having admitted in
general terms that they are sinners. He is bound to weigh the gravity
of their errors and the strength of their repentance, to know the
facts and details of the fall and the number of relapses, the
aggravating or extenuating circumstances, and, therefore, to
interrogate in order to sound the soul to its depths. If some souls
are timorous, they surrender themselves to him spontaneously and, more
than this, they have recourse to him outside of his tribunal; he marks
out for them the path they must follow, he guides them at every turn;
he interferes daily, he becomes a director as was said in the
seventeenth century, the titular and permanent director of one or of
many lives.[39] This is still the case at the present day, and
especially for women and for all nuns; the central conception around
which all Roman ideas turn, the conception of the imperium and of
government, has here found its perfect accomplishment and attained to
its final outermost limits.

There are now of these spiritual governors about 180,000, installed in
the five regions of the world, each assigned to the leadership of
about 1000 souls and as special guardian of a distinct flock, all
ordained by bishops instituted by the Pope, he being absolute monarch
and declared such by the latest council. In the new Rome as in the
ancient Rome, authority has gradually become concentrated until it has
centered in and is entrusted wholly to the hands of one man. Romulus,
the Alban shepherd, was succeeded by Cœsar Augustus, Constantine or
Theodosius, whose official title was "Your Eternal," "Your Divine,"
and who pronounced their decrees "immutable oracles." Peter, the
fisherman of Galilee, was succeeded by infallible pontiffs whose
official title is "Your Holiness," and whose decrees, for every
Catholic, are "immutable oracles" in fact as in law, not
hyperbolically, but in the full sense of the words expressed by exact
terms. The imperial institution has thus formed itself anew; it has
simply transferred itself from one domain to another; only, in passing
from the temporal order of things to the spiritual order, it has
become firmer and stronger, for it has guarded against two defects
which weakened its antique model. - One the one hand, it has provided
for the transmission of supreme power; in old Rome, they did not know
how to regulate this; hence, when an interregnum occurred, the many
violent competitors, the fierce conflicts, the brutalities, all the
usurpations of force, all the calamities of anarchy. In Catholic Rome,
the election of the sovereign pontiff belongs definitively to a
college of prelates[40] who vote according to established formalities;
these elect the new pope by a majority of two-thirds, and, for more
than four centuries, not one of these elections has been contested;
between each defunct pope and his elected successor, the transfer of
universal obedience has been prompt and unhesitating and, during as
after the interregnum, no schism in the Church has occurred. - On the
other hand, in the legal title of Cœsar Augustus there was a defect.
According to Roman law, he was only the representative of the people;
the community had delegated all its rights incorporate to him; but in
it alone was omnipotence vested. According to canon law, omnipotence
was vested solely in God; it is not the Catholic community which
possesses this and delegates it to the Pope;[41] his rights accrue to
him from another and higher source.[42] He is not the elect of the
people, but the interpreter, vicar and representative of Jesus Christ.

III. The Church today.

Existing Catholicism and its distinctive traits. - Authority, its
prestige and supports. - Rites, the priest, the Pope. - The Catholic
Church and the modern State. - Difficulties in France born out of
their respective constitutions. -

Such is the Catholic Church of to-day, a State constructed after the
type of the old Roman empire, independent and autonomous, monarchical
and centralized, with a domain not of territory but of souls and
therefore international, under an absolute and cosmopolite sovereign
whose subjects are simultaneously subjects of other non-religious
rulers. Hence, for the Catholic Church a situation apart in every
country, more difficult than for Greek, Slavic or Protestant churches;
these difficulties vary in each country according to the character of
the State and with the form which the Catholic Church has received in
them.[43] In France, since the Concordat, these difficulties are of
greater gravity than elsewhere.

When, in 1802, the Church initially received her French form, this was
a complete systematic organization, after a general and regular plan,
according to which she formed only one compartment of the whole.
Napoleon, by his Concordat, organic articles and ulterior decrees, in
conformity with the ideas of the century and the principles of the
Constituent Assembly, desired to render the clergy of all kinds, and
especially the Catholic clergy, one of the subdivisions of his
administrative staff, a corps of functionaries, mere agents assigned
to religious interests as formerly to civil matters and therefore
manageable and revocable. This they all were, in fact, including the
bishops, since they at once tendered their resignations at his order.
Still, at the present day all, except the bishops, are in this
situation, having lost the ownership of their places and the
independence of their lives, through the maintenance of the consular
and imperial institutions, through removal, through the destruction of
the canonical and civil guarantees which formerly protected the lower
clergy, through the suppression of the officialité; through the
reduction of chapters to the state of vague shadows, through the
rupture or laxity of the local and moral tie which once attached every
member of the clergy to a piece of land, to an organized body, to a
territory, to a flock, and through the lack of ecclesiastical
endowment, through the reduction of every ecclesiastic, even a
dignitary, to the humble and precarious condition of a salaried

A régime of this kind institutes in the body subject to it an almost
universal dependence, and hence entire submission, passive obedience,
and the stooping, prostrate attitude of the individual no longer able
to stand upright on his own feet.[45] The clergy to which it is
applied cannot fail to be managed from above, which is the case with
this one, through its bishops, the Pope's lieutenant-generals, who
give the countersign to all of them. Once instituted by the Pope,
each bishop is the governor for life of a French province and all-
powerful in his circumscription we have seen to what height his moral
and social authority has risen, how he has exercised his command, how
he has kept his clergy under discipline and available, in what class
of society he has found his recruits, through what drill and what
enthusiasm every priest, including himself, is now a practiced soldier
and kept in check; how this army of occupation, distributed in 90
regiments and composed of 50,000 resident priests, is completed by
special bodies of troops subject to still stricter discipline, by
monastic corporations, by four or five thousand religious
institutions, nearly all of them given to labor and benevolence; how,
to the subordination and correct deportment of the secular clergy is
added the enthusiasm and zeal of the regular clergy, the entire
devotion, the wonderful self-denial of 30,000 monks and of 120,000
nuns; how this vast body, animated by one spirit, marches steadily
along with all its lay supporters towards one end. This purpose,
forever the same, is the maintenance of its dominion over all the
souls that it has won over, and the conquest of all the souls over
which it has not yet established its domination.

Nothing could be more antipathetic to the French State. Built up like
the Church, after the Roman model, it is likewise authoritative and
absorbent. In the eyes of Napoleon, all these priests appointed or
sanctioned by him, who have sworn allegiance to him, whom he pays
annually or quarterly, belong to him in a double sense, first under
the title of subjects, and next under the title of clerks. His
successors are still inclined to regard them in the same light; in
their hands the State is ever what he made it, that is to say a
monopolizer, convinced that its rights are illimitable and that its
interference everywhere is legitimate, accustomed to governing all it
can and leaving to individuals only the smallest portion of
themselves, hostile to all bodies that might interpose between them
and it, distrustful and ill-disposed towards all groups capable of
collective action and spontaneous initiation, especially as concerns
proprietary bodies. A self-constituted daily overseer, a legal
guardian, a perpetual and minute director of moral societies as of
local societies, usurper of their domains, undertaker or regulator of
education and of charitable enterprises, the State is ever in
inevitable conflict with the Church. The latter, of all moral
societies, is the most active; she does not let herself be enslaved
like the others, her soul is in her own keeping; her faith, her
organization, her hierarchy and her code are all her own. Against the
rights of the State based on human reason, she claims rights founded
on divine revelation, and, in self-defense, she justly finds in the
French clergy, as the State organized it in 1802, the best disciplined
militia, the best classified, the most capable of operating together
under one countersign and of marching in military fashion under the
impulsion that its ecclesiastical leaders choose to give it.

Elsewhere, the conflict is less permanent and less sharp the two
conditions which aggravate it and maintain it in France are, one or
both, wanting. In other European countries, the Church has not the
French form imposed upon it and the difficulties are less; in the
United States of America, not only has it not undergone the French
transformation, but the State, liberal in principle, interdicts itself
against interventions like those of the French State and the
difficulties are almost null. Evidently, if there was any desire to
attenuate or to prevent the conflict it would be through the first or
the last of these two policies. The French State, however,
institutionally and traditionally, always invasive, is ever tempted to
take the contrary course.[46] - At one time, as during the last years
of the Restoration and the first years of the second Empire, it allies
itself with the Church; each power helps the other in its domination,
and in concert together they undertake to control the en tire man. In
this case, the two centralizations, one ecclesiastic and the other
secular, both increasing and prodigiously augmented for a century,
work together to overpower the individual. He is watched, followed
up, seized, handled severely, and constrained even in his innermost
being; he can no longer breathe the atmosphere around him; we can well
remember the oppression which, after 1823 and after 1852, bore down on
every independent character and on every free intellect. - At another
time, as under the first and the third Republic, the State sees in the
Church a rival and an adversary; consequently, it persecutes or
worries it and we of to-day see with our own eyes how a governing
minority, steadily, for a long time, gives offence to a governed
majority where it is most sensitive; how it breaks up congregations of
men and drives free citizens from their homes whose only fault is a
desire to live, pray and labor in common; how it expels nuns and monks
from hospitals and schools, with what detriment to the hospital and to
the sick, to the school and to the children, and against what
unwillingness and what discontent on the part of physicians and
fathers of families, and at what bungling waste of public money, at
what a gratuitous overburdening of taxation already too great.

IV. Contrasting Vistas.

Other difficulties of the French system. - New and scientific
conception of the world. - How opposed to the Catholic conception. -
How it is propagated. - How the other is defended. - Losses and gains
of the Catholic Church. - Its narrow and broad domains. - Effects of
Catholic and French systems on Christian sentiment in France. -
Increased among the clergy and diminished in society.

Other disadvantages of the French system are still worse. - In (the
nineteenth) century, an extraordinary event occurs. Already about the
middle of the preceding century, the discoveries of scientists,
coordinated by the philosophers, had afforded the sketch in full of a
great picture, still in course of execution and advancing towards
completion, a picture of the physical and moral universe. In this
sketch the point of sight was fixed, the perspective designed, the
various distances marked out, the principal groups drawn, and its
outlines were so correct that those who have since continued the work
have little to add but to give precision to these and fill them
up.[47] In their hands, from Herschel and Laplace, from Volta, Cuvier,
Ampère, Fresnel and Faraday to Darwin and Pasteur, Burnouf, Mommsen
and Renan, the blanks on the canvas have been covered, the relief of
the figures shown and new features added in the sense of the old ones,
thus completing it without changing in any sense the expression of the
whole, but, on the contrary, in such a way as to consolidate,
strengthen and perfect the master-conception which, purposely or not,
had imposed itself on the original painters, all, predecessors and
successors, working from nature and constantly inviting a comparison
between the painting and the model. - And, for one hundred years, this
picture, so interesting, so magnificent, and the accuracy of which is
so well guaranteed, instead of being kept private and seen only by
select visitors, as in the eighteenth century, is publicly exposed and
daily contemplated by an ever-increasing crowd. Through the practical
application of the same scientific discoveries, owing to increased
facilities for travel and intercommunication, to abundance of
information, to the multitude and cheapness of books and newspapers,
to the diffusion of primary instruction, the number of visitors has
increased enormously.[48] Not only has curiosity been aroused among
the workmen in towns, but also with the peasants formerly plodding
along in the routine of their daily labor, confined to their circle of
six leagues in circumference. This or that small daily journal treats
of divine and human things for a million of subscribers and probably
for three millions of readers. - Of course, out of a hundred visitors,
ninety of them are not capable of comprehending the sense of the
picture; they give it only a cursory glance; moreover, their eyes are
not properly educated for it, and they are unable to grasp masses and
seize proportions. Their attention is generally arrested by a detail
which they interpret in a wrong way, and the mental image they carry
away is merely a fragment or a caricature; basically, if they have
come to see a magisterial work, it is most of all due to vanity and so
that his spectacle, which some of them enjoy, should not remain the
privileged of a few. Nevertheless, however imperfect and confused
their impressions, however false and ill-founded their judgments, they
have learned something important and one true idea of their visit
remains with them: of the various pictures of the world not one is
painted by the imagination but from nature.[49]

Now, between this picture and that which the Catholic Church presents
to them, the difference is enormous. Even with rude intellects, or
minds otherwise occupied, if the dissimilarity is not clearly
perceived it is vaguely felt; in default of scientific notions, the
simple hearsay caught on the wing, and which seem to have flickered
through the mind like a flash of light over a hard rock, still
subsists there in a latent state, amalgamating and agglutinating into
a solid block until at length they form a massive, refractory
sentiment utterly opposed to faith. - With the Protestant, the
opposition is neither extreme nor definitive. His faith, which the
Scriptures give him for his guidance, leads him to read the Scriptures
in the original text and, hence, to read with profit, to call to his
aid whatever verifies and explains an ancient text, linguistics,
philology, criticism, psychology, combined with general and particular
history; thus does faith lay hold on science as an auxiliary.
According to diverse souls, the role of the auxiliary is more or less
ample it may accordingly adapt itself to the faculties and needs of
each soul, and hence extend itself indefinitely, and already do we see
ahead the time when the two collaborators, enlightened faith and
respectful science, will together paint the same picture, or each
separately paint the same picture twice in two different frames. -
With the Slavs and Greeks, faith, like the Church and the rite, is a
national thing; creed forms one body with the country, and there is
less disposition to dispute it; besides, it is not irksome; it is
simply a hereditary relic, a domestic memorial, a family icon, a
summary product of an exhausted art no longer well understood and
which has ceased to produce. It is rather sketched out than
completed, not one feature having been added to it since the tenth
century; for eight hundred years this picture has remained in one of
the back chambers of the memory, covered with cobwebs as ancient as
itself, badly lighted and rarely visited; everybody knows that it is
there and it is spoken of with veneration; nobody would like to get
rid of it, but it is not daily before the eyes so that it may be
compared with the scientific picture. - Just the reverse with the
Catholic picture. Each century, for eight hundred years, has applied
the brush to this picture; still, at the present time we see it grow
under our eyes, acquiring a stronger relief, deeper color, a more
vigorous harmony, an ever more fixed and striking expression. - To
the articles of belief which constitute the creed for the Greek and
Slavic church, thirteen subsequent Catholic councils have added to it
many others, while the two principal dogmas decreed by the last two
councils, Transubstantiation by the council of Trent and the
Infallibility of the Pope by that of the Vatican, are just those the
best calculated to hinder forever any reconciliation between science
and faith.

Thus, for Catholic nations, the dissimilarity, instead of diminishing,
is aggravated; both pictures, one painted by faith and the other by
science, become more and more dissimilar, while the profound
contradiction inherent in the two conceptions becomes glaring through
their very development, each developing itself apart and both in a
counter-sense, one through dogmatic verdicts and through the
strengthening of discipline and the other by ever-increasing
discoveries and by useful applications, each adding daily to its
authority, one by precious inventions and the other by good works,
each being recognized for what it is, one as the leading instructor of
positive truths and the other as the leading instructor of sound
morality. That is why we find a combat in each Catholic breast as to
which of the two concepts is to be accepted as guide. To every sincere
mind and to one capable of entertaining both, each is irreducible to
the other. To the vulgar mind, unable to combine both in thought,
they exist side by side and clash with each other only occasionally
when action demands a choice. Many intelligent, cultivated people, and
even savants, especially specialists, avoid confronting them, one
being the support of their reason and the other the guardian of their
conscience; between them, in order to prevent any possible conflict,
they interpose in advance a wall of separation, a compartment
partition,[50]" which prevents them from meeting and clashing.
Others, at length, clever or not too clear-sighted politicians, try to
force their agreement, either by assigning to each its domain and in
prohibiting mutual access, or by uniting both domains through the
semblance of bridges, by imitation stairways, and other illusory
communications which the phantasmagoria of human eloquence can always
establish between incompatible things and which procure for man, if
not the acquisition of a truth, at least a pleasure in the play of
words. The ascendancy of the Catholic faith over these uncertain,
inconsequent, tormented souls is more or less weak or strong according
to time, place, circumstance, individuals and groups; in the larger
group it has diminished, while it has increased in the smaller one.

The latter comprises the regular and secular clergy with its
approximate recruits and its small body of supporters; never was it so
exemplary and so fervent; the monastic institution in particular never
flourished so spontaneously and more usefully. Nowhere in Europe are
more missionaries formed, so many "brethren" for small schools, so
many volunteers, male and female, in the service of the poor, the
sick, the infirm and of children, such vast communities of women
freely devoting their lives to teaching and to charity.[51] Life in
common, under uniform and strict rules, to a people like the French,
more capable than any other of enthusiasm and of emulation, of
generosity and of discipline, naturally prone to equality, sociable
and predisposed to fraternity through the need of companionship,
sober, moreover, and laborious, a life in common is no more
distasteful in the convent than in the barracks, nor in an
ecclesiastical army more than in a lay army, while France, always
Gallic, affords as ready a hold nowadays to the Roman system as in the
time of Augustus. When this system obtains a hold on a soul it keeps
its hold, and the belief it imposes becomes the principal guest, the
sovereign occupant of the intellect. Faith, in this occupied
territory, no longer allows her title to be questioned; she condemns
doubt as a sin, she interdicts investigation as a temptation, she
presents the peril of un belief as a mortal danger, she enrolls
conscience in her service against any possible revolt of reason. At
the same time that she guards herself against attacks, she strengthens
her possession; to this end, the rites she prescribes are efficient,
and their efficiency, multiplicity and convergence - confession and
communion, retreats, spiritual exercises, abstinences, and ceremonies
of every kind, the worship of saints and of the Virgin, of relics and
images, orisons on the lips and from the heart, faithful attendance on
the services and the exact fulfillment of daily duties - all attest

Through its latest acquisitions and the turn it now takes, Catholic
faith buries itself in and penetrates down to the very depths of the
sensitive and tried souls which it has preserved from foreign
influences; for it supplies to this chosen flock the aliment it most
needs and which it loves the best. Below the metaphysical, abstract
Trinity, of which two of the three persons are out of reach of the
imagination, she has set up an historical Trinity whose personages are
all perceptible to the senses, Mary, Joseph and Jesus. The Virgin,
since the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, has risen to an
extraordinary height; her spouse accompanies her in her
exaltation;[52] between them stands their son, child or man, which
forms the Holy Family.[53] No worship is more natural and more
engaging to chaste celibates in whose brain a pure, vague vision is
always present, the reverie of a family constituted without the
intervention of sex. No system of worship furnishes so many precise
objects for adoration, all the acts and occurrences, the emotions and
thoughts of three adorable lives from birth to death and in the
beyond, down to the present day. Most of the religious institutions
founded within the past eighty years devote themselves to meditation
on one of these lives considered at some one point of incident or of
character, either purity, charity, compassion or justice, conception,
nativity or infancy, presence in the Temple, at Nazareth, at Bethany,
or on Calvary, the passion, the agony, the assumption or apparition
under this or that circumstance or place, and the rest. There are now
in France, under the name and patronage of Saint Joseph alone, one
hundred and seventeen congregations and communities of women. Among
so many appellations, consisting of special watchwords designating and
summing up the particular preferences of a devout group, one name is
significant there are seventy-nine congregations or communities of
women which have devoted themselves to the heart of Mary or of Jesus
or to both together.[54] In this way, besides the narrow devotion
which is attached to the corporeal emblem, a tender piety pursues and
attains its supreme end, the mute converse of the soul, not with the
dim Infinite, the indifferent Almighty who acts through general laws,
but with a person, a divine person clothed with the vesture of
humanity and who has not discarded it, who has lived, suffered and
loved, who still loves, who, in glory above, welcomes there the
effusions of his faithful souls and who returns love for love.

All this is incomprehensible, bizarre or even repulsive to the public
at large, and still more so to the vulgar. It sees in religion only
what is very plain, a government; and in France, it has already had
enough of government temporally; add a complementary one on the
spiritual side and that will be more and too much. Alongside of the
tax-collector and the gendarme in uniform, the peasant, the workman
and the common citizen encounter the curé in his cassock who, in the
name of the Church, as with the other two in the name of the State,
gives him orders and subjects him to rules and regulations. Now every
rule is annoying and the latter more than the others; one is rid of
the tax-collector after paying the tax, and of the gendarme when no
act is committed against the law; the curé is much more exacting; he
interferes in domestic life and in private matters and assumes to
govern man entirely. He admonishes his parishioners in the
confessional and from the pulpit, he lords it over them even in their
inmost being, and his injunctions bind them in every act, even at
home, around the fireside, at table and in bed, comprising their
moments of repose and relaxation, even hours of leisure and in the
tavern. Villagers, after listening to a sermon against the tavern and
drunkenness, murmur and are heard to exclaim: "Why does he meddle with
our affairs? Let him say his mass and leave us alone." They need him
for baptism, marriage and burial, but their affairs do not concern
him. Moreover, among the observances he prescribes, many are
inconvenient, tasteless or disagreeable - fasting, Lent, a passive
part in a Latin mass, prolonged services, ceremonies of which the
details are all insignificant, but of which the symbolic meaning is
to-day of no account to people in attendance; add to all this the
mechanical recitation of the Pater and of the Ave, genuflections and
crossing one's self, and especially obligatory confession at specified
dates. Nowadays the worker and the peasant manage without these
constraints. In many villages, there is nobody at high mass on
Sundays but women, and often, in small numbers, one or two troops of
children led by the clerical instructor and by the "Sister," with a
few old men; the great majority of the men remain outside, under the
porch and on the square before the church chatting with each other
about the crops, on local news and on the weather.

In the eighteenth century, when a curé was obliged to report to the
"intendant " the number of inhabitants of his parish, he had only to
count his communicants at the Easter service; their number was about
that of the adult and valid population, say one half or two fifths of
the sum total.[55] Now, at Paris, out of two millions of Catholics
who are of age, about one hundred thousand perform this strict duty,
aware of its being strict and the imperative prescription of which is
stamped in their memory by a rhyme which they have learned in their
infancy;[56] out of one hundred persons, this is equal to five
communicants, of which four are women and one is a man, in other
words, about one woman out of twelve or thirteen and one man out of
fifty. In the provinces,[57] and especially in the country, there is
good reason for doubling and even tripling these figures; in the
latter case, the most favorable one and, without any doubt, the
rarest, the proportion of professed Christians is that of one to four
among women and one man out of twelve. Evidently, with the others who
make not attend Church regularly, with the three women and the eleven
other men, their faith is only verbal; if they are still Catholics, it
is on the outside and not within.

Besides this separation from the main body and this indifference,
other signs denote disaffection and even hostility. - In Paris, at the
height of the Revolution, in May and June 1793, the shopkeepers,
artisans and market-women, the whole of the common people, were still
religious,[58] "kneeling in the street" when the Host passed by, and
before the relics of Saint Leu carried along in ceremonial procession,
passionately fond of his worship, and suddenly melted, "ashamed,
repentant and with tears in their eyes, when, inadvertently, their
Jacobin rulers tolerated the publicity of a procession. Nowadays,
among the craftsmen, shopkeepers and lower class of employees, there
is nothing more unpopular than the Catholic Church. Twice, under the
Restoration and the second Empire, she has joined hands with a
repressive government, while its clergy has seemed to be not merely an
efficient organ but, again, the central promoter of all repression. -
Hence, accumulated bitterness that still survives. After 1830, the
archbishopric of Saint-Germain l'Auxerrois is sacked; in 1871 the
archbishop and other ecclesiastical hostages are murdered. For two
years after 1830 a priest in his cassock dared not show himself in
public;[59] he ran the risk of being insulted in the streets; since
1871, the majority of the Parisian electors, through the interposition
of the Municipal Council which they elect over and over again,
persists in driving "Brethren" and "Sisters" from the schools and
hospitals in order to put laymen in their places and pay twice as much
for work not done as well.[60] - In the beginning, antipathy was
confined to the clergy; through contamination, it reached the
doctrine, to include the faith, the entire Catholicism and even
Christianity itself. Under the Restoration, it was called, in
provocative language, the priest party, and under the second Empire,
the clericals. Afterwards, confronting the Church and under a contrary
name, the anti-clerical league was formed by its adversaries, a sort
of negative church which possessed, or tried to, its own dogmas and
rites, its own assemblies and discipline: and for lack of something
better, it has its own fanaticism, that of aversion; on the word being
given, it marches, rank and file, against the other, its enemy, and
manifests, if not its belief, at least its unbelief in refusing or in
avoiding the ministration of the priest. In Paris, twenty funerals out
of a hundred, purely civil, are not held in a church; out of one
hundred marriages, twenty-five, purely civil, are not blessed by the
Church; twenty-four infants out of a hundred are not baptized.[61]

And, from Paris to the provinces, both sentiment and example are
propagated. For sixteen years, in our parliaments elected by
universal suffrage, the majority maintains that party in power which
wages war against the Church; which, systematically and on principle,
is and remains hostile to the Catholic religion; which has its own
religion for which it claims dominion; which is possessed by a
doctrinal spirit, and, in the direction of intellects and souls, aims
at substituting this new spirit for the old one; which, as far as it
can, withdraws from the old one its influence, or its share in
education and in charity; which breaks up the congregations of men,
and overtaxes congregations of women; which enrolls seminarians in the
army, and deprives suspect curés of their salaries; in short, which,
through its acts collectively and in practice, proclaims itself anti-
Catholic. Many of its acts certainly displease the peasant. He would
prefer to retain the teaching "brother" in the public school and the
"sister" in the hospital as nurse or as teacher in the school; both
would cost less, and he is used to their dark dresses and their white
caps; moreover, he is not ill-disposed towards his resident curé, who
is a "good fellow." Nevertheless, in sum, the rule of the curé is not
to his taste; he does not wish to have him back, and he distrusts
priests, especially the aspect of their allies who now consist of the
upper bourgeoisie and the nobles. Hence, out of ten million electors,
five or six millions, entertaining partial dislikes and mute
reservations, continue to vote, at least provisionally, for anti-
Christian radicals. All this shows that, through an insensible and
slow reaction, the great rural mass, following the example of the
great urban mass, is again becoming pagan[62]; for one hundred years
the wheel turns in this sense, without stopping, and this is serious,
still more serious for the nation than for the Church.

In France, the inner Christianity, has, for all that, through the dual
effect of its Catholic and French envelope, grown warmer among the
clergy especially among the regular clergy, but is has cooled off
among the people and it is especially here that it is needed.

Post Scriptum:
Taine died in 1893 not long after having written this. Much has
happened since and the struggle between "Lay Republicans" and the
Catholic Church has continued. In "QUID 2000," a French popular
reference manual containing on page 515 some notes on the evolution of
the Catholic religion in France, we can read the following:

"1899-11-11 the police occupies l'Assomption, 6, rue François Ier. The
Augustin brothers are accused in court for breaking the law forbidding
unauthorized assemblies. .. 1900 Thomas, mayor of Kremlin-Bicêtre,
forbids the wearing of the ecclesiastical costume in his town. This
example is followed by others..." Reading further we may learn that
later in 1901 to 1904 the various Catholic orders are forbidden or
dissolved and most French Church property seized. In 1905 a law
decreeing a separation between the State and the Church is narrowly
and bitterly voted and a struggle between France and the Pope begins
... Between 1914 and 1918 25 000 priests and seminarians are mobilized
and app. 5000 among them fall. This disarms many of the Church's
enemies and in 1920 funds are appropriated for the re-establishment of
the French embassy to the Pope in Rome. etc. etc. Today the Catholic
religion is tolerated more or less in the same manner as Judaism,
Islam etc. (SR.)


[1] The Budget of 1881. 17,010 desservans of small parishes have 900
francs per annum; 4500 have 1000 francs; 9492, sixty years of age and
over, have from 1100 to 1300 francs. 2521 curés of the second class
have from 1200 to 1300 francs; 850 curés of the first class, or rated
the same, have from 1500 to 1600 francs; 65 archiprêtre curés have
1600 francs, that of Paris 2400 francs; 709 canons have from 1600 to
2400 francs; 193 vicars-general have from 2500 to 4000 francs. -Abbé
Bougaud, "le Grand Péril," etc., p.23. In the diocese of Orleans,
which may be taken as an average type, fees, comprising the receipts
for masses, are from 250 to 300 francs per annum, which brings the
salary of an ordinary desservant up to about 1200 francs.

[2] The fees, etc., of the curé of the Madeleine are estimated at
about 40,000 francs a year. The prefect of police has 40,000 francs a
year, and the prefect of the Seine, 50,000 francs.

[3] Prælectiones juris canonici, II., 264-267.

[4] Ibid., II., 268.

[5] "The Ancient Régime," pp. 119, 147. (Ed. Laffont I. pp. 92, 115.)
(On the "Chartreuse" of Val Saint-Pierre, read the details given by
Merlon de Thionville in his "Mémoires.")

[6] Prœlectiones juris canonici, II.,205. (Edict of Louis XIII., 1629,
art. 9.)

[7] The following are other instances. With the "Filles de Saint-
Vincent de Paule," the superior of the "Prètres de la Mission"
proposes two names and all the Sisters present choose one or the other
by a plurality of votes. Local superiors are designated by the Council
of Sisters who always reside at the principal establishment. - With
the "Frères des Écoles Chrétiennes," assembled at the call of the
assistants in function, a general chapter meets at Paris, 27 rue
Oudinot. This chapter, elected by all professed members belonging to
the order, comprises 15 directors of the leading houses and 15 of the
older brethren who have been at least fifteen years in profession.
Besides these 30, the assistants in function, or who have resigned,
and the visitors of the houses form, by right, a part of the chapter
which comprises 72 members. This chapter elects the general superior
for ten years. He is again eligible; he appoints for three years the
directors of houses, and he can prolong or replace them. With the
Carthusians, the superior-general is elected by the professed brethren
of the Grande Chartreuse who happen to be on hand when the vacancy
occurs. They vote by sealed ballots unsigned, under the presidency of
two priors without a vote.

[8] The reader may call to mind the portrait of Brother Philippe by
Horace Vernet. For details of the terrible mortifications inflicted on
himself by Lacordaire see his life by Father Chocarne. "Every sort of
mortification which the saints prized, hair-cloth jackets of penance,
scourges, whips of every kind and form, he knew of and used. . . . He
scourged himself daily and often several times during the day. During
Lent and especially on Good Friday he literally scored and flayed
himself alive."

[9] Notes (unpublished) by Count Chaptal.

[10] "État des congrégations, communantés et associations
religieuses, autorisées et non-autorisées, dressé en execution"
according to article 12, law of Dec. 28, 1876. (Imprimerie nationale,
1878) - "L'Institut des frères des écoles chrétiennes," by Eugène
Rendu (1882), p. 10. - Th. W. Allies, "Journal d'un voyage en France,
p.81. (Conversation with Brother Philippe, July i6, 1845.) -
"Statistique de I'nstitut des Frères des Ecoles Chrétiennes," Dec.31,
1888. (Drawn up by the head establishment.) Out of the 121 houses of
1789, there were 117 of these in France and 4 in the colonies. Out of
the 1,286 houses of 1888, there are 1,010 in France and in the
colonies. The other 276 are in other countries.

[11] Émile Keller, "Les Congrégations religieuses en France" (1880),
preface, xxIII., xvIII., and p. 492.

[12] In 1789, 37,000 Sisters; in 1866, 86,000 Sisters ("Statistique de
la France," 1866); in 1878, 127,753 Sisters ("État des congrégations,"

[13] . (But today, around 1990, there are only 5 nuns per 10,000
inhabitants. SR.)

[14] Émile Keller, ibid., passim. - In many communities of men and of
women the personal expenses of each member are not over 300 francs per
annum; with the Trappists at Devielle this is the maximum. - If the
value of the useful labor performed by these 160,000 monks and nuns be
estimated at 1000 francs per head, which is below the real figures,
the total is 160 millions per annum; estimate the expenses of each
monk or nun at 500 francs per head and the total is 80 millions a
year. The net gain to the public is 80 millions per annum.

[15] "La Charité à Nancy," by Abbé Girard, p. 245. - The same judgment
is confirmed by the Rev. T. W. Allies, in a "Journal d'un voyage en
France," 1848, p. 291. "The dogma of the real presence is the centre
of the whole religious life of the Church (Catholic): it is the
secret support of the priest in his mission, so painful and so filled
with abnegation. It is by this that the religious orders are

[16] This question is examined by St. Thomas in his Summa Theologica.

[17] For the past twenty years, owing to the researches of
psychologists and physiologists, we have begun to know something of
the subterranean regions of the mind and the latent processes taking
place there. The storing, the residue and unconscious combination of
images, the spontaneous and automatic transformation of images into
sensations, the composition, disassociations and splitting into dual
personalities of the ego, the alternate or simultaneous coexistence of
two, or more than two, distinct persons in the same individual, the
suggestions accomplished later and at fixed dates, the chock of the
return from the inside to the outside, and the physical effect on the
nervous extremities of the mental sensations, all these late
discoveries have resulted in a new conception of mind, and psychology,
thus renewed, throws a sharp light on history.

[18] See in "Herodiade," by Flaubert, the depicting of these "kingdoms
of the world or of the century," as they appeared to Palestinian eyes
in the first century. For the first four centuries we must consider,
confronting the Church, by way of contrast and in full relief, the
pagan and Roman world, the life of the day, especially in the baths,
at the circus, in the theatre, the gratuitous supplies of food, of
physical enjoyments and of spectacles to the idle populace of the
towns, the excesses of public and private luxury, the enormity of
unproductive expenditure, and all this in a society which, without our
machines, supported itself by hand-labor; next, the scantiness and
dearness of available capital, a legal rate of interest at twelve per
cent, the latifundia, the oberati, the oppression of the working
classes, the diminution of free laborers, the exhaustion of slaves,
depopulation and impoverishment, at the end the colon attached to his
glebe, the workman to his tool, the curiale to his curie, the
administrative interference of the centralized State, its fiscal
exigencies, all that it sucked out of the social body, and the more
strenuously inasmuch as there was less to be sucked out of it. Against
these sensual habits and customs and this economic system the Church
has preserved its primitive aversion, especially on two points, in
relation to the theatre and to loaning money at interest.

[19] See St. Paul's epistle to the Romans, ch. I., 26 to 32; also the
First Epistle to the Corinthians, ch. XIII.

[20] The First Epistle of John, II. 16.

[21] Acts of the Apostles, ch. IV.,32, 34 and 35.

[22] I cannot help but conclude that the two world wars, started by
Christian Governments, led to socialism and religious decay. How large
a role television played in removing the need for clerical guidance
and comfort is hard to determine, the fact is that the Churches in
Europe stand mostly empty and Taine's description fits rather will on
today's society. (SR.)

[23] Saint Athanasius, the principal founder of Christian metaphysics,
did not know Latin and learned it with great difficulty at Rome when
he came to defend his doctrine. On the other hand, the principal
founder of western theology, Saint Augustin, had only an imperfect
knowledge of Greek.

[24] For example, the three words which are essential and technical in
metaphysical speculations on the divine essence, have no real equivalent
in Latin, while the words by which an attempt is made to render these
terms, verbum, substantia, persona, are very inexact. Persona and
substantia, in Tertullian, are already used in their Roman sense, which
is always juridical and special.

[25] Sir Henry Sumner Maine, "Ancient Law," p. 354. The following is
profound in a remarkable degree: " Greek metaphysical literature
contained the sole stock of words and ideas out of which the human
mind could provide itself with the means of engaging in the profound
controversies as to the Divine Persons, the Divine Substance, and the
Divine Natures. The Latin language and the meager Latin philosophy
were quite unequal to the undertaking, and accordingly the western or
Latin-speaking provinces of the Empire adopted the conclusions of the
East without disputing or reviewing them."

[26] Maine, "Ancient Law," p.357 "The difference between the two
theological systems is accounted for by the fact that, in passing from
the East to the West, theological speculation had passed from a
climate of Greek metaphysics to a climate of Roman law." Out of this
arose the Western controversies on the subject of Free-will and Divine
Providence. "The problem of Free-will arises when we contemplate a
metaphysical conception under a legal aspect."

[27] Ibid. "The nature of Sin and its transmission by inheritance; the
debt owed by man and its vicarious satisfaction; the necessity and
sufficiency of the Atonement; above all the apparent antagonism
between Free-will and the Divine Providence-these were the points
which the West began to debate as ardently as ever the East had
discussed the articles of its more special creed." This juridical
fashion of conceiving theology appears in the works of the oldest
Latin theologians, Tertullian and Saint Cyprian.

[28] Ibid. Among the technical notions borrowed from law and here used
in Latin theology we may cite "the Roman penal system, the Roman
theory of the obligations established by Contract or Delict," the
intercession or act by which one assumes the obligation contracted by
another, "the Roman view of Debts and of the modes of incurring,
extinguishing and transmitting them, the Roman notion of the
continuance of individual existence by Universal Succession,"

[29] Cf. Fustel de Coulanges, "La Gaule Romaine," p.96 and following
pages, on the rapidity, facility and depth of the transformation by
which Gaul became Latinized.

[30] The Church of England, in its confession of faith, makes this
express declaration.

[31] As called by Joseph de Maistre, referring to the Greek church.

[32] Duke Sermoneta-Gaetani has shown in his geographic map of the
"Divine Comedy" the exact correspondence of this poem with the "Somme"
by Saint Thomas. - It was already said of Dante in the middle ages,
Theologus Dantes nullius dogmatis expers.

[33] Cf. "L'Empire des tsars et les Russes," by Anatole Leroy-
Beaulieu, vol. III., entire, on the characteristics of the Russian

[34] Bossuet, ed. Deforis, VI., 169. The Meaux catechism (reproduced,
with some additions, in the catechism adopted by Napoleon). "What
works are deemed satisfactory?" - "Works unpleasant to us imposed by
the priest as a penance." - "Repeat some of them." - "Alms-giving,
fastings, austerities, privations of what is naturally agreeable,
prayers, spiritual readings."

[35] Ibid. "Why is confession ordained?" - "To humble the sinner. .
. " - "Why again?" - "To submit one's self to the power of the Keys
and to the judgment of the priests who have the power to punish and
remit sins."

[36] Bossuet, ibid., Catéchisme de Meaux, VI., 140-142.

[37] "Manreze du prêtre," by Father Caussette, I., 37. "Do you see
that young man of twenty-five who will soon traverse the sanctuary to
find the sinners awaiting him? It is the God of this earth who
sanctifies him. . . Were Jesus Christ to descend into the confessional
he would say, Ego te absolvo. He is going to say with the same
authority, Ego te absolvo. Now this is an act of the supreme power; it
is greater, says Saint Augustin, than the creation of heaven and
earth." - T. W. Allies, " Journal d'un voyage en France," 1845, p.97.
"Confession is the chain which binds all Christian life."

[38] "Manreze du prêtre," I., 36. "The Mother of God has undoubtedly
more credit than you, but she has less authority. Undoubtedly, she
accords favors, but she has not given one single absolution."

[39] Could one imagine that Stalin, that that apostate former student
expelled from the Tiflis Theological Seminary, would, on reading
Taine's text, have conceived the idea of having communist
missionaries, directed by the KGB in Moscow, direct an army of agents
inside the capitalist world? (SR.)

[40] Like a central committee of the communist party? (SR.)

[41] Prœ1ectiones juris canonici, I., 101. "The power entrusted to St.
Peter and the apostles is wholly independent of the community of

[42] Here Lenin pretended to install the Proletariat and announced its
(his own) dictatorship. (SR.)

[43] Here we have a clear model for an International Communist Party,
tasked with the creation of a visible organization whenever this is
possible, but with an invisible structure of missionaries, recruiters,
controllers, policemen and agents, since any bourgeois state must,
once it discovers the party's true aims, forbid it and drive it
underground. To the Christian dream of an eternal life in heaven or
hell, the communist movement has its promise of a millenary on earth
contrasted by the immediate annihilation of any traitor or dangerous
opponent. (SR.)

[44] "Cours alphabétique et méthodique du droit canon," by Abbé André,
and "Histoire générale de Église, vol. XIII., by Bercastel et Henrion.
The reader will find in these two works an exposition of the diverse
statutes of the Catholic Church in other countries. Each of these
statutes differs from ours in one or several important articles; the
fixed, or even territorial, endowment of the clergy, the nomination to
the episcopate by the chapter, or by the clergy of the diocese, or by
the bishops of the province, public competition for curacies,
irremovability, participation of the chapter in the government of the
diocese, restoration of the officialité; return to the prescriptions
of the Council of Trent (Cf. especially the Concordats between the
Holy See and Prussia, Bavaria, Wurtemberg, Baden, the two Hesses,
Belgium, Austria, Spain, and the statutes accepted or established by
the Holy See in Ireland and the United States.)

[45] The brothers Allignol, "De l'État actuel du clergé en France,"
p.248. "The mind of the desservant is no longer his own. Let him
beware of any personal sentiment or opinion! . . . He must cease being
himself and must lose, it may be said, his personality." - Ibid.,
preface, XIX. " Both of us, placed in remotes country parishes, . . .
are in a position to know the clergy of the second class well, to
which, for twenty years, we belong."

[46] The principal means of action of the State is the right of
appointing bishops. The Pope, however, installs them; consequently,
the Minister of Worship must have an understanding beforehand with the
nuncio, which obliges it to nominate candidates irreproachable in
doctrine and morals, but it avoids nominating ecclesiastics that are
eminent, enterprising or energetic; once installed and not removable,
they would cause trouble. Such, for example, was M. Pie, bishop of
Poitiers, nominated by M. de Falloux in the time of the Prince-
President, and so annoying during the Empire; in order to keep him in
check, M. Levert, the cleverest and most adroit prefect, had to be
sent to Poitiers; for many years they waged the most desperate war
under proper formalities, each playing against the other the shrewdest
and most disagreeable tricks. Finally, M. Levert, who had lost a
daughter and was denounced from the pulpit, was obliged, on account of
his wife's feelings, to leave the place. (This happened to my own
knowledge, as between 1852 and 1867 I visited Poitiers five times.) At
the present day, the Catholics complain that the government nominates
none but mediocre men for bishops and accepts none others for cantonal
curés. (Today, in 1999, we can look back on a century of quarrelling,
even war, between Rome and Paris with the separation of the Catholic
Church and the State in 1905, sequestration of all church property,
impoverishment of the clergy, interdiction of the different orders,
papal bulls, ending in 1914 when the State had to concentrate all
effort towards winning the war. Today the church is allowed to operate
but its influence is much reduced as it the case for all the religions
since the advent of the consumer society with television etc. SR.)

[47] "The Ancient Régime," pp 171, 181, 182. (Ed. Laffont I., p. 129
to 139.)

[48] M. de Vitrolles, "' Mémoires," I., 15. (This passage was written
in 1847.) "Under the Empire, readers were to those of the present day
as one to a thousand. Newspapers, in very small number, scarcely
obtained circulation. The public informed itself about victories, as
well as the conscription, in the articles of the 'Moniteur,' posted by
the prefects." - From 1847 to 1891, we all know by our own experience
that the number of readers has augmented prodigiously.

[49] I wonder what Taine would have said of television, that system
which allows its producers to make all mankind believe that the lies
and figments of the imaginations put in front of them show the true
and real world as it is. (SR.)

[50] An expression by Renan in relation to Abbé Lehir, an accomplished
professor of Hebrew.

[51] Th. W. Allies, rector of Launton, "Journal d'un voyage en
France," p.245. (A speech by Father Ravignan, August 3, 1848) "What
nation in the Roman church is more prominent at the present day for
its missionary labors? France, by far. There are ten French
missionaries to one Italian." Several French congregations, especially
the "Petites Soeurs des Pauvres" and the "Frères des Écoles
Chrétiennes," are so zealous and so numerous that they overflow
outside of France and have many establishments abroad.

[52] "Manreze du prêtre, by Father Caussette, II.,419: "Now that I
have placed one of your hands in those of Mary let me place the other
in those of Saint Joseph. . . . Joseph, whose prayers in heaven are
what commands to Jesus were on earth. Oh, what a sublime patron, and
what powerful patronage! . . . Joseph, associated in the glory of
divine paternity; . . Joseph, who counts twenty-three kings among his
ancestors!" Along with the month of the year devoted to the adoration
of Mary, there is another consecrated to Saint Joseph.

[53] "État des congrégations," etc. (1876). Eleven congregations or
communities of women are devoted to the Holy Family and nineteen
others to the Child-Jesus or to the Infancy of Jesus.

[54] One of these bears the title of "Augustines de l'intérieur de
Marie and another is devoted to the "Cœuragonisant de Jésus."

[55] At Bourron (Seine-et-Marne), in 1789, which had 600 inhabitants,
the number of communicants at Easter amounted to 300; at the present
day, out of 1200 inhabitants there are 94

[56] Th. W. Allies, "Journal d'un voyage en France," III., p. 18: "M.
Dufresne (July 1845) tells us that out of 1,000,000 inhabitants in
Paris 300,000 attend mass and 50,000 are practising Christians." - (A
conversation with Abbé Petitot, curé of Saint-Louis d'Antin, July
7.1847.) "2,000,000 out of 32,000,000 French are really Christians and
go to confession." - At the present day (April 1890) an eminent and
well-informed ecclesiastic writes: "I estimate the number of those who
observe Easter at Paris at about 100,000." - "The number of professing
Christians varies a great deal according to parishes: Madeleine, 4,500
out of 29,000 inhabitants; Saint Augustin, 6,500 out of 29,000; Saint
Eustache, 1,750 out of 20,000; Bellancourt, 500 out of 10,000;
Grenelle, 1,500 out of 47,500; and Belleville, 1,500 out of 60,000

[57] Abbé Bougaud, "Le Grand Péril," etc., p.44 : "I know a bishop
who, on reaching his diocese, tried to ascertain how many of the
400,000 souls entrusted to his keeping performed their Easter duties.
He found 37,000. At the present day, owing to twenty years of effort,
this number reaches 55,000. Thus, more than 300,000 are practically
unbelievers." - "Vie de Mgr. Dupanloup," by Abbé Lagrange, I., 5'.
(Pastoral letter by Mgr. Dupanloup, 1851.) "He considers that he is
answerable to God for nearly 350,000 souls, of which 200,000 at least
do not fulfill their Easter duties; scarcely 45,000 perform this great

[58] "The Revolution," II.,390. (Ed. Laff. I., p. 177.)

[59] Th.-W. Allies, "Journal," etc., p.240 (Aug. 2, 1848, conversation
with Abbé Petitot):" In 1830, the priests were obliged for two years
to abandon wearing their costume in the street, and only recovered
their popularity by their devotion to the sick at the time of the
cholera." - In 1848, they had won back respect and sympathy; " the
people came and begged them to bless their liberty-poles." - Abbé
Petitot adds: "The church gains ground every day, but rather among the
upper than the lower classes."

[60] Émile Keller, "Les Congrégations," etc., p.362 (with the figures
in relation to Schools). - "Débats" of April 27, 1890 (with the
figures in relation to hospitals. Deaths increased in the eighteen
secularized hospitals at the rate of four per cent).

[61] Fournier de Flaix, "Journal de la Société de Statistique," number
for Sep. 1890, p.260. (According to registers kept in the
archiepiscopal archives in Paris) - "Compte-rendu des operations du
Conseil d'administration des pompes funèbres à Paris" (1889): funerals
wholly civil in 1882, 19.33 per cent; in 1888, 19.04 per cent; in
1889, 18.63 per cent. - " Atlas de statistique municipale." ("Débats"
of July 10, 1890:) The poorer the arrondissement, the greater the
number of civil funerals; Ménilmontant wins hands down, one third of
the funerals here being civil.

[62] Abbé Joseph Roux (curé at first of Saint-Silvain, near Tulle, and
then in a small town of Corrèze), "Pensées," p. 132 (1886): "There is
always something of the pagan in the peasant. He is original sin in
all its brutish simplicity." - " The peasant passed from paganism to
Christianity mostly through miracles; he would go back at less cost
from Christianity to paganism. . . . It is only lately that a monster
exists, the impious peasant. . . . The rustic, in spite of school-
teachers, even in spite of the curés, believes in sorcerers and in
sorcery the same as the Gauls and Romans." - Therefore the means
employed against him are wholly external. ("Vie de Mgr. Dupanloup," by
Abbé Lagrange, pastoral notes of Mgr. Dupanloup, I., 64.) "What has
proved of most use to you in behalf of religion in your diocese during
the last fifteen years? Is it through this - is it through that? No,
it is through medals and crosses. Whatever is given to these good
people affords them pleasure; they like to have presents of Our Lord
and the Blessed Virgin. These objects, with them, stand for religion.
A father who comes with his child in his arms to receive the medal
will not die without confessing himself." - The reader will find on
the clergy and peasantry in the south of France details and pictures
taken from life in the novels of Ferdinand Fabre ("L'abbé Tigrane,"
"les Courbezons," "Lucifer,," "Barnabé," "Mon Oncle Célestin,"
"Xavière," "Ma Vocation").

BOOK SIXTH. Public instruction.



Public instruction and its three effects. - Influences of the master,
of the pupils on each other, and of discipline. - Case in which all
three tend towards producing a particular type of man.

AT fixed intervals a man, in a room, gathers around him children,
youths, a group of young people, ten, twenty, thirty or more; he talks
to them for one or two hours and they listen to him. They sit
alongside of each other, look in each other's faces, touch each
other's elbows, feel that they are class-mates, of the same age and
occupied with the same tasks. They form a society and in two ways, one
with another and all with the master. Hence they live under a
statute: every society has one of its own, spontaneous or imposed on
it; as soon as men, little or big, come together in any number, in a
drawing-room, in a café, in the street, they find themselves subject
to a local charter, a sort of code which prescribes to them, or
interdicts a certain sort of conduct. And so with the school:
positive rules along with many tacit rules are here observed and these
form a mould which stamps on minds and souls a lasting imprint.
Whatever a public lesson may be, whatever its object, secular or
ecclesiastic, whether its subject-matter is religious or scientific,
from the bottom to the top of the scale, from the primary school and
the catechism up to the great seminary, in upper schools and in the
faculties, we find in abridgment the academic institution. Of all
social engines, it is probably the most powerful and the most
efficient; for it exercises three kinds of influence on the young
lives it enfolds and directs, one through the teacher, another through
the fellow students and the last through rules and regulations.

On the one hand, the master, considered a scholar, teaches with
authority and the pupils, who feel that they are ignorant, learn with
confidence. - On the other hand, outside of his family and the
domestic circle, the student finds in his group of comrades a new,
different and complete world which has its own ways and customs, its
own sense of honor and its own vices, its own view of things (esprit
de corps), in which independent and spontaneous judgments arise,
precocious and haphazard presentiments, expressions of opinion on all
things human and divine. It is in this environment that he begins to
think for himself, in contact with others like himself and his equals,
in contact with their ideas, much more intelligible and acceptable to
him than those of mature men, and therefore much more persuasive,
contagious and exciting; these form for him the ambient, penetrating
atmosphere in which his thought arises, grows and shapes itself; he
here adopts his way of looking at the great society of adults of which
he is soon to become a member, his first notions of justice and
injustice, and hence an anticipated attitude of respect or of
rebellion, in short, a prejudice which, according as the spirit of the
group is reasonable or unreasonable, is either sound or unsound,
social or antisocial. - Finally, the discipline of the school has its
effect. Whatever its rules and regulations may be, whether liberal or
despotic, lax or strict, monastic, military or worldly, whether a
boarding or a day school, mixed or exclusive, in town or in country,
with predominance of gymnastic training or intellectual efforts, with
the mind given to the study of things or to the study of words, the
pupil enters into a ready-made setting. According to the diversities
of this setting or framework he practices different exercises; he
contracts different habits; he is developed or stunted physically or
morally, in one sense or in a contrary sense. Hence, just as the
system is good or bad, he becomes more or less capable or incapable of
bodily or mental effort, of reflection, of invention, of taking the
initiative, of starting an enterprise, of subordinating himself to a
given purpose, of willing, persistent association, that is to say, in
sum, of playing an active and useful part on the stage of the world he
is about to enter upon. Observe that this apprenticeship in common,
sitting on benches according to certain regulations and under a
master, lasts six, ten, fifteen years and often twenty; that girls are
not exempt from it; that not one boy out of a hundred is educated to
the end at home by a private teacher; that, in secondary and even in
superior instruction, the school wheel turns uniformly and without
stopping ten hours a day if the scholar boards outside, and twenty-
four hours a day if he boards within; that at this age the human clay
is soft, that it has not yet received its shape, that no acquired and
resistant form yet protects it from the potter's hand, against the
weight of the turning-wheel, against the friction of other morsels of
clay kneaded alongside of it, against the three pressures, constant
and prolonged, which compose public education.

Evidently, there is here an enormous force, especially if the three
pressures, instead of opposing each other, as often happens, combine
and converge towards the production of a certain finished type of man;
if, from infancy to youth and from youth to adult age, the successive
stages of preparation are superposed in such a way as to stamp the
adopted type deeper and with more exactness; if all the influences and
operations that impress it, near or far, great or small, internal or
external, form together a coherent, defined, applicable and applied
system. Let the State undertake its fabrication and application, let
it monopolize public education, let it become its regulator, director
and contractor, let it set up and work its machine throughout the
length and breadth of the land, let it, through moral authority and
legal constraint, force the new generation to enter therein - it will
find twenty years later in these minors who have become major, the
kind and number of ideas it aimed to provide, the extent, limit and
form of mind it approves of, and the moral and social prejudice that
suits its purposes.

II. Napoleon's Educational Instruments.

Napoleon's aim. - University monopoly. - Revival and multitude of
private schools. - Napoleon regards them unfavorably. - His motives. -
Private enterprises compete with public enterprise. - Measures against
them. - Previous authorization necessary and optional suppression of
them. - Taxes on free education in favor of the university. - Decree
of November, 1811. - Limitation of secondary teaching in private
schools. - How the university takes away their pupils. - Day-schools
as prescribed. - Number of boarders limited. - Measures for the
restriction or assimilation of ecclesiastical schools. - Recruits
forcibly obtained in prominent and ill-disposed families. - Napoleon
the sole educator in his empire.

Such is the aim of Napoleon:[1]

"In the establishment of an educational corps," he says to
himself,[2] "my principal aim is to secure the means for directing
political and moral opinions."

Still more precisely, he counts on the new institution to set up and
keep open for inspection a universal and complete police registry.
"This registry must be organized in such a way as to keep notes on
each child after age of nine years."[3] Having seized adults he wants
to seize children also, watch and shape future Frenchmen in advance;
brought up by him, in his hands or in sight, they become ready-made a
assistants, docile subjects and more docile than their parents.[4]
Amongst the latter, there are still to many unsubmissive and
refractory spirits, too many royalists and too many republicans;
domestic traditions from family to family contradict each other or
vary, and children grow up in their homes only to clash with each
other in society afterwards. Let us anticipate this conflict; let us
prepare them for concord; all brought up in the same fashion, they
will some day or other find themselves unanimous,[5] not only
apparently, as nowadays through fear or force, but in fact and
fundamentally, through inveterate habit and by previous adaptation of
imagination and affection. Otherwise, "there will be no stable
political state" in France;[6] "so long as one grows up without
knowing whether to be a republican or monarchist, Catholic or
irreligious, the State will never form a nation; it will rest on
uncertain and vague foundations; it will be constantly exposed to
disorder and change." - Consequently, he assigns to himself the
monopoly of public instruction; he alone is to enjoy the right to
manufacture and sell this just like salt and tobacco; "public
instruction, throughout the Empire, is entrusted exclusively to the
university. No school, no establishment for instruction whatever,"
superior, secondary, primary, special, general, collateral, secular or
ecclesiastic, "may be organized outside of the imperial university and
without the authorization of its chief."[7]

Every factory of educational commodities within these boundaries and
operating under this direction is of two sorts. Some of them, in the
best places, interconnected and skillfully grouped, are national units
founded by the government, or at its command, by the communes, -
faculties, lycées, colleges, and small communal schools; others,
isolated and scattered about, are private institutions founded by
individuals, such as boarding-schools and institutions for secondary
instruction, small free schools. The former, State undertakings,
ruled, managed, supported and turned to account by it, according to
the plan prescribed by it and for the object it has proposed, are
simply a prolongation of itself; it is the State which operates in
them and which, directly and entirely, acts through them: they enjoy
therefore all its favor and the others all its disfavor. The latter,
during the Consulate, revived or sprung up by hundreds, in all
directions, spontaneously, under the pressure of necessity, and
because the young need instruction as they need clothes, but
haphazard, as required according to demand and supply, without any
superior or common regulation - nothing being more antipathetic to the
governmental genius of Napoleon:

"It is impossible,"[8] he says, "to remain longer as we are, since
everybody can start an education shop the same as a cloth shop"

and furnish as he pleases, or as his customers please, this or that
piece of stuff, even of poor quality, and of this or that fashion,
even extravagant or out of date: hence so many different dresses, and
a horrible medley. One good obligatory coat, of stout cloth and
suitable cut, a uniform for which the public authority supplies the
pattern, is what should go on the back of every child, youth or young
man; private individuals who undertake this matter are mistrusted
beforehand. Even when obedient, they are only half-docile; they take
their own course and have their own preferences, they follow their own
taste or that of parents. Every private enterprise, simply because it
exists and thrives, constitutes a more or less independent and
dissenting group, Napoleon, on learning that Sainte-Barbe, restored
under the direction of M. de Lanneau, had five hundred inmates,
exclaims:[9] "How does it happen that an ordinary private individual
has so many in his house?" The Emperor almost seems jealous; it seems
as if he had just discovered a rival in one corner of his university
domain; this man is an usurper on the domain of the sovereign; he has
constituted himself a centre; he has collected around him clients and
a platoon; now, as Louis XIV. said, the State must have no "platoons
apart." Since M. de Lanneau has talent and is successful, let him
enter the official ranks and become a functionary. Napoleon at once
means to get hold of him, his house and his pupils, and orders M. de
Fontaines, Grand-Master of the University, to negotiate the affair; M.
de Lanneau will be suitably compensated; Sainte-Barbe will be formed
into a lycée, and M. de Lanneau shall be put at the head of it. Let it
be noted that he is not an opponent, an irregular: M. de Fontaines
himself praises his teaching, his excellent mind, his perfect
exactitude, and calls him the universitarian of the university. But he
does not belong to it, he stands aloof and stays at home, he is not
disposed to become a mere cog-wheel in the imperial manufactory.
Therefore, whether he is aware of it or not, he does it harm and all
the more according to his prosperity; his full house empties the
lycées; the more pupils he has the less they have. Private enterprises
in their essence enter into competition with public enterprise.

For this reason, if tolerated by the latter, it is reluctantly and
because nothing else can be done; there are too many of them; the
money and the means to replace them at one stroke would be wanting.
Moreover, with instruction, the consumers, as with other supplies and
commodities, naturally dislike monopoly; they must be gradually
brought to it; resignation must come to them through habit. The State,
accordingly, may allow private enterprises to exist, at least for the
time being. But, on condition of their being kept in the strictest
dependence, of its arrogating to itself the right over them of life
and death, of reducing them to the state of tributaries and branches,
of utilizing them, of transforming their native and injurious rivalry
into a fruitful and forced collaboration. Not only must private
schools obtain from the State its express consent to be born, for lack
of which they are closed and their principals punished,[10] but again,
even when licensed, they live subject to the good-will of the Grand-
Master, who can and must close them as soon as he recognizes in them
"grave abuses and principles contrary to those professed by the
University." Meanwhile, the University supports itself with their
funds; since it alone has the right to teach, it may profit by this
right, concede for money the faculty of teaching or of being taught
alongside of it, oblige every head of an institution to pay so much
for himself and so much for each of his pupils; in sum, here as
elsewhere, in derogation of the university blockade, as with the
continental blockade, the state sells licenses to certain parties. So
true is this that, even with superior instruction, when nobody
competes with it, it sells them: every graduate who gives a course of
lectures on literature or on science must pay beforehand, for the
year, 75 francs at Paris and 50 francs in the provinces. Every
graduate who begin to lecture on law or medicine must pay beforehand
150 francs at Paris and 100 francs in the provinces.[11] There is
the same annual duty on the directors of secondary schools, boarding-
schools and private institutions. Moreover, to obtain the
indispensable license, the master of a boarding-school at Paris must
pay 300 francs, and in a province 200 francs; the principal of an
institution in Paris pays 600 francs, and in the provinces 400 francs;
besides that, this license, always revocable, is granted only for ten
years; at the end of the ten years the titular must obtain a renewal
and pay the tax anew. As to his pupils, of whatever kind, boarding
scholars, day scholars, or even gratis,[12] the University levies on
each a tax equal to the twentieth of the cost of full board; the
director himself of the establishment is the one who fixes and levies
the tax; he is the responsible collector of it, book-keeper and the
debtor. Let him not forget to declare exactly the terms of his school
and the number of his pupils; otherwise, there is investigation,
verification, condemnation, restitution, fine, censure, and the
possible closing of his establishment.

Book of the day: