صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

pressions of as many as we can, though necessarily in the briefest manner, it is almost superfluous to say that we do not intend our present article as an essay on education; and still less do we intend to advocate the pet system, or peculiar views of any particular denomination.

If, in the course of our remarks, we evince a preference for any college, university, or seminary, it will be on account of its merit, so far as we are capable of judging of it, not on account of the sect which it represents. If we had any bias of this kind, it would naturally be in favor of the Episcopal Protestant church, in which we have been brought up, and from which we have never seceded; but we think it will be seen that while we have every disposition to do justice to the institutions of that church, we are not the less disposed to be just to the institutions of the Catholic church. In proof of this we will give precedence to the Catholic col. leges and seminaries, and devote more attention to them than to the institutions of all other denominations. This we do because we prefer to give whatever aid we can to the weak rather than to the strong. We do not mean, indeed, that our Catholic colleges are weak intellectually, for, as we shall show in the course of this paper, none are stronger in that respect. What we do mean is simply that they are weak pecuniarily, the Catholics of America being, in general, too poor to afford them an adequate support.

Did we interfere at all in theological subjects, it would be with the view of reconciling all Christian sects with each other; nor would we exclude the Jews from that union; but regarding this as a hopeless task, we confine ourselves to the cause of education. Not that we would ignore religion ; we hold, on the contrary, that there can be no good system of education which is not based upon religion; nay, more, although we cannot pretend to be pious ourselves, we readily admit that the most pious educators are generally the best.

Most of our readers will doubtless deem it needless on onr part to make these remarks, yet we are constantly receiving communications informing us that we have written this or that article in favor of this or that sect. Thus, a Protestant doctor writes to inform us that our article on Luther is “grossly slanderous," and that we must not send our journal to him any more. A Catholic doctor writes from another point of the compass in reference to the same article, denouncing us, though in comparatively mild terms, for our ignorance and bigotry in “dishing up anew those stale slander's about the sale of indulgences”-adding that we evidently did it for the purpose of pandering to the bigotry of ultra-Protestants. A divine from a Pennsylvania village, writes to say that our friendship to popery gives the lie to the motto on our title page, meaning that if we have any pretensions to patriotism, we must at least say nothing good of Catholics as such ; and nearly the same mail brings us a letter informing us that an article on Buddhism, which we had recently published, contained “several covert attacks on the Catholic religion," although it so happened that that had not been written by a Protestant at all, but by a zealons Catholic. One accuses us with being " a Jesuit in disguise," another with being “a malignant enemy of the Jesuits," and the twain are equally peremptory and indignant in ordering their names erased forever from our list! . We trust we need hardly assure our readers that we do not permit ourselves to be in the least influenced by com. munications of this kind; but while they do not at all frighten us, we do not think it irrelevant to allude to them in treating the subject of education. What will perbaps be deemed incredible, is, that we have experienced much more bigotry from intelligent Protestants than from intelligent Catholics ; at least, we have experienced more enlightened liberality from the latter than from the former. We have been in the habit, from our infancy, of hearing the Catholic clergy spoken of as bigoted and intolerant in contrast with the Protestant clergy. We had always reason to doubt the truth of this; we were persuaded from our own observa. tion that there were at least exceptions to the rule; but our experience in conducting this journal for nine years, during which we have had intercourse more or less extensive with clergymnen of all denominations, convinces us that at least in the United States, the Catholic clergy are as liberal and tolerant as the clergy of any other church whatever. In nine

cases out of ten the Catholic bishops and archbishops evince more tolerance, and less bigotry, than the Protestant bishops and archbishops. The latter, though in general very good men, are either altogether indifferent, or they are terribly afraid that popery is preparing some dire calamity for the United States; and as bishops and archbishops are, in these respects, so will the parsons' be. We mention these little matters because they have a direct and important bearing on the subject under consideration.

Probably the majority of our readers are not aware that for the last quarter of a century Catholic theological students have paid much more attention to philosophy than Protestant theological students. In the principal Catholic colleges of Europe students intended for the priesthood have to devote several years to the study of Aristotle and Plato; the students of Louvaine and Maynooth devote three times as much attention to the ancient philosophy as those of Oxford and Cambridge; and every enlightened person will admit that no works exercise a more powerful influence in liberalizing the mind, and purifying it from prejudices of all kinds than those of Plato and Aristotle. But they do not merely remove prejudices; their analytical discussions invigorate the intellect: they develop that persuasive power which, from its wonderful effect, inay be called the magic of the mind.

This may serve to explain, at least in part, why it is that 80 many of the most learned and gifted members of the great Protestant universities of England, including ministers possessing benefices in the richest church in the world, have been induced to resign all and join the Catholic church. Those that are married cannot expect to become priests; and those who are in every manner qualified for the priesthood can only expect to address, in England, a congregation very inferior, so far as wealth and influence are concerned, to that which they have been in the habit of addressing as ministers of the Established Church..

It is evident that it is not alone the dogmas of the Catholic church that cause these conversions; for they were the same in Luther's time as they are now—just the same as they were when no Catholic was admissible to any public office

Vol. XVII.—NO. XXXiv. 20

of trust or emolument. But the education of the Catholic clergy was not the same; it has been much improved, as we have said, during the last quarter of a century. The priests in England do not make much noise; their names rarely appear in the newspapers. Those who neet them casually would not suppose they knew anything; nor do they care to be regarded in a different light; but in their pulpits, and in their papers and periodicals, they show without any ostentation that they are really philosophers as well as priests.

To the late Cardinal Wiseman, more than perhaps to all others, is this great improvement due. Before his time there were few conversions in England ; scarcely any from the learned class. Wiseman had devoted years to the study of philosophy in the land of Cicero and Tacitus. When he came to England, as an humble missionary, he constantly used his pen as well as his tongue; he vindicated his church, but abused no other church. While elevating the standard of Catholic education in every possible manner, he established a quarterly periodical,* which soon took rank with the best in the world. In this journal were commenced those discussions wbich have so powerfully influenced the greatest minds of two of the most ancient and most celebrated universities of Europe.

This country has not afforded similar opportunities for exhibiting the improvement we speak of; but what intelligent person has failed to observe the rapid progress made by the Catholic church in the United States within the last twenty years ? Now, the question is, How has this change been produced ? It cannot be said that our people have become ignorant; perhaps no other people in the world have improved more in intelligence during the same twenty years. But although we have had no cardinal in America, we have had two archbishops who have pursued the same course as Cardinal Wiseman. Archbishop Hughes was equally eloquent, bold, and vigorous with pen and tongue. Even those whom he chastised most severely for their attacks on his religion, could not avoid being influenced by his arguments ;

The Dublin Review.

[ocr errors]

if they were not so influenced, the public at large certainly were ; and, accordingly, when the archbishop died, in this city, three or four years ago, no individual of any rank, profession, or creed, was more universally esteemed and respected by Protestants as well as Catholics—especially by the most enlightened class.

Happily for his people, the other archbishop to whom we allude still lives; and we think that no intelligent person who has any knowledge of the Catholic hierarchy in America, and any faith in our judgment, need be informed that we allude to the Archbishop of Baltimore. Still more effectively than even Archbishop Hughes, the Most Rev. Dr. Spalding has pursued in America the course which Cardinal Wiseman has pursued in England. For a quarter of a century, the venerable and learned metropolitan of the United States has been constantly using his pen as well as his tongue; and his tone towards Protestants has never been harsh or intolerant, but always conciliatory and liberal. This is the true Christian spirit which pervades his History of the Protestant Reformation--& work which deserves to be much better known among Protestants than it is. • Although we only mention the two greatest of the American Catholic prelates, we do not mean but that other dignitaries have also contributed to the good work. With not more than one or two exceptions, all have taken & more or less active part in raising the standard of Catholic education, and teaching even the most ignorant to appreciate the value of knowledge.

The various means by which these results have been produced are not apparent to all. Very few of those who are surprised at the wonderful progress made by the Catholic Church in this country have any accurate idea of them ; it does not occur to them that there is not a Catholic college or university in Europe which is not represented by some of its most accomplished graduates among the Catholic fraternities in the United States, who devote themselves to education. Thus that denomination of our people possess opportunities of having their sons educated by alumni of the celebrated universities of Louvaine, Bruges, Bologna,

« السابقةمتابعة »