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In every branch of science, art, literature, and mechanics, the grandest achievements have been performed. No longer relying on his own hands, man has made the sun, the air, the earth, the sea, his laborers. The powers of nature are bent aside from their ancient course and forced to move through channels prescribed them by this puny creature, their former slave. In consequence, the world of mankind is being rapidly redeemed from error, want, ignorance, disease, and the various ills to which savage flesh is heir, and is rising into the general enjoyment of comfort, luxury even ; while the stream of knowledge, rapidly widening and deepening, is adding wonderfully to our powers of achievement, and grandly extending our scope of useful labor and our field of happiness.
Every railroad built, every canal dug, every telegraph wire stretched, every vessel launched, every city erected, every new field sown, is a direct payment into the great treasury of mankind; significant, not only to us but to our descendants, of increased facilities of intercourse, of quicker communication, of more extended commerce, of more various and more comfortable homes, of greater and cheaper food-supplies. What has not been, what is not being done in these directions ? On every side around us roars the iron voice of industry, building up far faster than time and change can throw down; and luxuries which were of old the pride of palaces now reside within the walls of hovels. All physical nature is ransacked for its supplies of material, all mental nature for its principles of application, and from a happy union of the two the great present is being formed.
But this is not the only, nor the highest, domain of modern progress. Not mechanics only is advancing, but science and literature are keeping pace with it; and, despite the pitiable displays of human greed and mendacity, the moral sense of the world at large is moving upward. Philanthropy has attained a development never witnessed in former ages of the world. Not the least among human treasures are the numerous colleges, hospitals, and other free institutions built by the accumulated wealth of generous donors. Single souls, big with benevolence, have forced a mitigation of the horrors of prison discipline, made slavery odious, and relieved the great hives of humanity of much of the misery and crime which naturally gravitate to the shadowy quarters of mighty cities.
War is becoming distasteful to the human soul, not for lack of bravery, but for horror of suffering. The cruel sports of the great cities of antiquity could no more be revived in a modern metropolis than could the mythology of Greece be taught in modern temiples. This grand idea of human fra. ternity is being developed, till the peoples, if not the rulers, of civilized nations, are ready to clasp hands as sons of one father, and decide their disputes by the calm voice of peaceful decision rather than by the bloody settlement of the sword. In this new Republic beyond the seas all nations are becoming one nation, sons of every race and every climate clasping hands and merging into one strange compound, the whole world being being the soil, all mankind the seed, whence is springing the wondrous plant of American citizenship.
ART. IV.-1. Vie de J. B. De La Salle. Par M. LAMY. Paris. 2. Memoir of the Abbé Lacordaire. MONTALMBERT. 3. Euvres du tres Hon. Frère Philippe. 1836, 1872. 4. Les Frères des Ecoles Chrétiennes en Amerique. RENE DE
Saint MAURIS. 5. L'Etat et ses Limites. Par Ed. LABOULAYE. 6. Le Prix de Boston. Paris. 7. Les Frères à l'Academie. Paris.
IN allowing ourselves to be persuaded to insert in our last number an article designed to vindicate the character of Pope Alexander VI., we felt it due both to our readers and to ourselves to say frankly, that we regarded the Borgia pontiff as utterly incapable of vindication. This being our unalterable conviction, we did not hesitate to reject the article alluded to, on having carefully perused it.
VOL. XXVI.—NO. LII.
In the present case all the circumstances are different. But one word more of Roderick Borgia, before we turn our attention to Jean Baptiste de la Salle, and ask our readers to appreciate the contrast between this particular Abbé and this particular Pope-between the ecclesiastic who was content to live and die an instructor of youth, and the ecclesiastic who, not content with calling himself the vicegerent of Christ and successor of St. Peter, claimed the right to bestow kingdoms or empirés on his favorites.
To us a vindication of Alexander VI. seemed no more laudable a task than a vindication of Nero; and certainly we regarded the former performance as not less impossible than the latter. When earnestly requested, however, or rather importuned to open our pages to such an historical discussion, we comply, but beg leave very decidedly, as has been seen, not to adopt the pious view of our correspondent. But in declining to place ourselves in the position of a false witness by presenting to our readers as an infallible saint one whom we regarded much more as an incorrigible sinner, we abstained as much as possible from saying anything which enlightened Roman Catholics should regard as a reflection on their religion or church. And it is but justice to the latter class to say that they have evidently regarded our course in that light.
But unhappily the enlightened form but a small minority in this country, especially in the diocese of New York; and, accordingly, we are as much abused as we could have been had it been our hand, and not the pontiff's own, that mixed the poison of which the Borgia Pope is said to have died. We do not complain of this, however; we are quite aware that it can do us no harm. The Catholic, as well as the Protestant readers of the National Quarterly, cannot but regard it as entirely consistent, that a Catholic organ which gravely recommends the importation into the United States of the holy water of Lourdes, to be sold at two dollars a bottle, for pious purposes, should abuse us fish-woman-like, partly for refusing to accept Roderick Borgia as an immaculate, infallible saint, and partly for our inability to appreciate the profound learning and exalted piety of such “venerated prelatess” a
the Corrigans, the McQuades, etc. Nor is it any fault of ours, if this intelligent class of Catholics think that the conductor of the Catholic organ alluded to would throw mud and garbage at any heretic, though once a heretic himself, for the price of one gallon, at retail, of the holy water of Lourdes, or for one bottle, imperial measure, of Irish whiskey.*
* It is but justice to say, that, so faras we are aware, none of the more respectable class of Catholic journals, such as the Baltimore Mirror, Boston Pilot, Philadelphia Standard, and Philadelphia Record, have ever abused us. On the contrary, no Protestant journals have complimented us more highly. We could hardly expect that even such enlightened and liberal Catholic journals would expressly commend the course forced on us in regard to Alexander VI.; but their silence on the subject is commendation enough. It certainly may be regarded as a frank, honest admission of the truth. Then we will take two of the most liberal and most intelligent Protestant journals in the United States as an index of the estimate of the latter class. Thus, the Philadelphia North American, whose literary department is always managed by a liberal scholar, says that in our preface we give “expression to the enlightened sense of Christendom, Catholic as well as Protestant." The Boston Globe, a journal of a similarly high character, whose literary department is, we are assured, in the hands of one of the ablest and most eminent critics of New England—a well-known author and orator, as well as a critic-disposes of the same article as follows:
“ Two articles have given us great amusement, that on 'The Puffing Element in American Literature,' and that on 'Pope Alexander VI.' The latter reminds us of Sydney Smith's comments on Niebuhr's History of Rome: Have you heard of Niebuhr's discoveries ? All Roman history reversed; Tarquin turning out an excellent family man, and Lucretia a very doubtful character, whom Lady - would not have visited.' In the rehabilitation of historical personages, we are perfectly willing to admit that much injustice has been done to Tiberius, Nero, and Henry the Eighth; but we clung to Pope Alexander as our favorite monster. It seems, however, that this good prelate has been outrageously abused. Hereafter we must look on the Borgias as vigorous philanthropists. We have read the article with roars of—we trust- innocent laughter. There is something in American Roman Catholics which strangely distinguishes them from their Italian brethren who profess the same faith. They can swalloro anything; the Italian variety of the species is more critical. Still, we patriotically stand by our countrymen, and shall hereafter inscribe Pope Alexander on the list of our saints. There are ugly charges against him, such as licentiousness, incest, and murder, but we concede that the writer in the National Quarterly has shown that they are ill-founded. It is to be said that the editor of the Review, Dr. Sears, while consenting to print the article, emphatically repudiates its conclusions. He, as a thinker and scholar, is inclined to the common opinion of civilized mankind that Alexander was a scamp rather than a
Now we take leave of Alexander VI. and his worthy champion, and turn our attention, for a moment, to the article for which we intend these remarks as an introduction. While we should be heartily ashamed had we permitted ourselves to become a party, even by implication, to the rehabilitation or vindication of Roderick Borgia, we readily admit that too much cannot be said in favor of Jean Baptiste de la Salle. But had we accepted the former as a saint, what impartial, intelligent man or woman could have regarded the present article in any other light than as a “ whitewashing” performance?
No doubt, interested parties will tell us that we make this distinction, because the followers of De la Salle have so long been our patrons and friends. But it is not so. We certainly appreciate their friendship, and are thankful for their patronage. But when or where have we been the champion of a sham of any kind, for any consideration whatever? In what instance have we acted, even in our poorest days, like the poor apothecary, who sells the fatal drug destined to destroy, or at leust endanger life, for no better reason than that he wants the money? It is not, then, for their patronage, but for their genuine, unpretending worth that we have on various occasions invited the attention of our readers, Catholic as well as Protestant, to the educational labors of the Christian Brothers.
Had patronage or lucre been our ruling motive, we would not have said one word in favor of any Catholic order. But since we have always been willing, nevertheless, to bestow the meed of praise wherever we thought it deserved, if we permitted our opinions to be warped by money, the Jesuits, and not the Christian Brothers, would have been our favorites. For, be it remembered that the good Fathers were the first of all Catholic orders to patronize us. Before we had any personal knowledge of the Christian Brothers, the disciples of Loyola had not only given us patronage but made iis magnificent offers. But we soon find that in order to make our fortune in this way, we must have no opinions of our own; we must think as we are bid; we must be ready to believe anything and everything. Above all things we must maintain stoutly that the learning of the Jesuits is unfathomable, and that all other Catholic or