In Lent one meal and one collation (a half meal) are allowed: the first at mid-day. Meat is permitted on Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, by the archbishop's "mandement." Fridays and Saturdays are maigre days through the year, but not fasts. The other fasts of the year are very few, the greater number having been abolished by the Concordat. They are Christmas Eve, Whitsun Eve, St. Peter's Eve, the vigils of the Assumption and All Saints.
M. Gaduel told me that the good professors of S. Sulpice receive no salary whatever. They live, he said, as children in a father's house, provided with everything they want, but they are not given money. If one has need of a coat, he asks for it, and has it. Should they be taken ill, and be unable to continue their functions, they will be supported and tenderly provided for all their days. They take no vows, and can leave when they please; and they retain whatever private property they may possess. Those who have none receive 100 francs a year for their charities; for you know, he said, they cannot go into the city without a sou. Thus their life is entirely detached from the cares of this world, from the desire of wealth, and all that attaches to it. Yet is it, from its sedentariness and severely abstract pursuits, as well as from the continued pressure on the heart and conscience, a trying life. Health, I imagine, is only maintained by the weekly relaxation of Wednesday, and the annual vacation of two months in August and September.
We talked on many other subjects with M. l'Abbé Carron. He was very desirous to explain the honour paid to the Blessed Virgin Mary. One and all reject with horror anything like adoration being offered to her, or that she is anything more than the most favoured channel of grace.
At two we went to M. Bonnetty, who took us to the house of the Benedictines, then in Rue Notre Dame des Champs, where we saw the Abbé Guéranger, a very pleasing person. Talked of editions of the Fathers, the labours of the Benedictines, the movement in England. He struck me as very mild and charitable. In the library M. de Montalembert was sitting writing. We did not know who it was at the time.
On the opposite side of the street, through a private door, we entered into a most beautiful little chapel just erected in the style of the thirteenth century. It belongs to some religious garde-malades, connected with the sisters of charity, who were saying their office as we came in. The architecture is exceedingly rich: all the windows of painted glass. I have never seen anything so exquisite as this chapel. The apse was richly painted and decorated. Afterwards we set off for S. Denis, but gave it up. Looked into S. Eustache, an imposing church of the renaissance, very lofty and spacious. Also S. Germain l'Auxerrois, which is interesting. It has been restored since the riots, and is being filled with painted glass.
Saturday, July 5. – Set off for S. Denis: the abbey has been wonderfully restored since I was there, and is now exceedingly imposing and interesting. The aisles round the choir have been most richly painted and decorated, the central roof not yet. All the windows are of stained glass, forming a complete sketch of French history, wherein Dagobert and S. Louis, Napoleon, Louis XVIII. and Louis Philippe, strangely figure. The tombs of François I. and Louis XII. are very beautiful. The western front resembles Mantes in character; very beautiful; pinnacles of the spire curious and most pleasing. We went to drink tea with Miss Young, her mother, a French lady, and an Irish priest, M. Macarthy, who assists at S. Sulpice. He said the seats there were let to a woman for 35,500 francs per annum. The chief duty of a Catholic is not to go to mass, but to confess and receive absolution. Before marriage every one is compelled to confess, but they do not necessarily receive absolution. This priest's conversation gave one a notion that to common minds the confessional would often be as it were wiping off an old debt, and beginning a new score. "He said there were about 14,000 or 15,000 communicants at Easter in that parish out of a population of 50,000. He seemed to think many might be people who would fall back again into grievous faults, but nearly all at the time had good intentions. I rather thought he made too little a matter of the probability of many falling back: but I may have been mistaken. He said, however, that S. Sulpice was not a measure of Paris, being the most pious parish in the city. He said also, that there was very little temptation to hypocrisy, religion being rather at a discount in public opinion. I should hope from this and other accounts, that there was a very considerable leaven of true piety in this place, bad as it is." – M.
Sunday, July 6. – The heat excessive. We went to Bishop Luscombe's chapel: many staid to the Holy Communion. "There was a discontented French priest there, who, I fear, is going to set up for himself. I had a little talk with the Bishop between services. He has, if I am not mistaken, a totally false view of the position of the French Church. He thinks it is falling to pieces, as a man might think Oriel was coming down, if he did not know there was a live Provost and Fellows inside to repair it when necessary. The discontented go to him and tell him their tale, as the college weapons might fall on the head of any one in quad; and of course they do their best to make him think that all is as rotten as they are. The Roman Catholic clergy, I believe, do not know much of him, or he of them, and he is shut out from the sight of what is best among them." – M.
At five dined with M. Bonnetty. We found there two priests, one of whom, M. D'Alzon, was going to preach at Notre Dame des Victoires that evening for the archiconfrèrie du sacré Cœur de Marie. He seemed an able man, was vicaire general of Nismes, a person of property, who was bent on taking orders. He could not understand how we could preach with a book before us; said no one would listen in France. The other priest, M. Jacquemet, was a very pleasing modest person. We adjourned to the garden of the missions étrangères; met there M. Drach, who had been chief rabbin. He has written a book on the harmony of the Synagogue and the Church; seemed to think he could settle the difficulty concerning the day of the Passover by Jewish traditions.
M. Bonnetty took us to Mrs. Ryon's in the Place belle Chasse. The heat excessive.
Monday, July 7. – We called on M. Defresne; much struck by his conversation. He said all that was best in religion was at Paris: out of a million of inhabitants there were 300,000 going to mass, and 50,000 practising Christians; this was the kernel of religion in the country, the pure gold. He justified the shops being left open by the government on Sunday, for the people generally being without belief, it would be an act of sheer tyranny to shut them. Louis Philippe was now employing against the Jesuits the same arbitrary power he had used to expel l'Abbé Châtel. On religious matters he did not seem to understand how an instructed person could remain with good faith out of the Roman Church. The Puseyites, he seemed to think, did not belong to the Establishment. M. Defresne speaks with remarkable energy; we both wished to have another talk with him. Thence we went to the Pères Lazaristes; M. Aladel received us, gave us the rules of the sisters of charity. Their chief work being the relief of the sick, &c. they have no office, properly so called, and their hours are subject to variation. They rise, winter and summer, at 4 to 4½; 4½ to 5½ meditation, prayer, a subject for meditation given the evening before; 5½ hear mass – this is the ordinary time, but it varies: for instance, they would attend the church in their immediate neighbourhood at whatever hour it might be. Every day spiritual reading, – the Chaplet: it lasts a long half hour; has many special prayers added by their founder, which cannot be seen. In the evening a second meditation for half an hour, always before six o'clock. Vocal prayers before bed time, at half-past eight. Subject of meditation given. These exercises of piety are never given up, as in cases of extreme sickness the sister attending waits till the others have done, and is then relieved by them. They do not go out after nightfall. Dinner at half-past eleven. Supper at six. Their duties are, 1. visiting the sick; 2. attending hospitals; 3. dressing the sick at their own house; 4. keeping schools at their own house. Each school belongs to a sister, who is generally the same; one takes care of the linen, another of the kitchen, and so on. M. Aladel then attacked us on matters of controversy; could not conceive persons of intelligence and good faith remaining out of the pale of the Roman Church. Indeed, this is universally the first thing with them – to be in communion with Rome. Without unity they can conceive no holiness, nor self-devotion, nor even sincerity. We said we admitted the primacy of Rome, but not an absolute power; and referred back to the times of the early Patriarchs, as St. Athanasius. His reply was, that the Pope allowed them to institute their own Bishops, and where this permission was not openly expressed it was implied; a mode of assumption which soon puts an end to all difficulties. The Greeks and Russians were schismatics, but far nearer than we. To him, as to every other Roman Catholic with whom we conversed, the English Church is simply a mass of heresy and schism. We regretted the controversial language of this conversation. Called on M. Labbé, and had a friendly talk with him. He describes the actual state of the Colleges of the University as horrible in point of morality. He is now, at forty-five, sitting down to the study of Greek, to pass his degree of M.A. at the University, in order that he may be privileged to teach under it. At Lady Elgin's in the evening, whither M. Bonnetty conducted us, we found a lively party in the garden. The chief conversation was on magnetising, there being a young man of great powers that way present, but he declined giving us any specimen of his power: he said it took too much out of him, and sometimes bestowed on him the maladies he relieved others from. Thus, he succeeded in transferring a lady's headache to himself. The heat very great to-day.
Tuesday, July 8. – We called on M. Théodore Ratisbonne, a man of about forty-two, with striking Jewish physiognomy, gentle and pleasing in manner. I was very much struck with his conversation. We said we came to learn as much as we could of Catholic institutions. 'As for Protestantism,' said he, 'I believe it has produced good fathers of families, good morals, kindly social feelings, and so on; but as for perfect devotion of the heart to God, it seems to me quite barren. But the soul should not walk, she should fly.' On the worship of the Blessed Virgin, so called, he said, 'Place yourself in the presence of Jesus Christ, for He is ever present, He is always the same. You would see beside Him the Blessed Virgin and the Apostles. You would throw yourself at his feet; but having done so, would you have no thought for His mother? Would you turn your back upon her? Would that be a way of gaining His favour? Or, place yourself at the foot of the Cross, remember His last words, and how can any Christian have other than filial feelings towards her? But there is not a child of the poorest Catholic peasant who would for an instant confound the reverence paid to the mother of his Lord with the worship due only to God. C'est une horreur. Elle est une simple créature, une fille d'Adam, notre sœur; mais elle a réçu la grace d'être mère de Dieu. Moi, je baise un tableau de ma mère, de mes sœurs, de mes amis; et je ne baiserais pas celui de la Sainte Vierge? Je fléchis le genou devant les rois de la terre; je ne le fléchirais pas devant elle?' He took up a book by a Protestant minister, I think of Geneva, and read to us with great indignation the account he had made up of a Roman priest's sermon on the Blessed Virgin – the adoring her, and so on. He said the Protestant remarks on that subject were full of bad faith, and were in the highest degree shocking to Catholics. I asked him about his brother's conversion: he said, over and above the printed account which I had seen, 'My brother, two hours after his conversion, was seen by Cardinal Mezzofanti, who was ready to throw himself on his knees in adoration to God. Nothing was known of my brother at Rome, and at first great apprehensions were entertained as to what his character might turn out to be. He had never read two pages of the Bible, never received any religious instruction whatever, was altogether of a light and superficial character. The Blessed Virgin appeared to him as close as I am to you; she made a motion to him that he should remain quiet under the divine influence. On rising out of his ecstacy he had received intuitively the knowledge of the Christian faith. He came and lived three months with me; I never talked with him as to what he should do; I carefully abstained from exercising any influence over him. I had, indeed, great apprehensions of him, as to what his future life would be. At the end of that time I said to him, I am going to offer mass for you, to know what your future vocation will be. He replied, without the slightest hesitation or emotion, I am in no doubt about that. Two courses are open to me: one is to become a priest and live here with you; we should be two brothers together, – that would be, indeed, a delightful life: the other is to enter the Company of Jesus. I do not know what that is, but I shall become a Jesuit. I was very much astonished. As tu bien réflechi, je lui dis? – Je n'y ai pas réflechi, mais la S. Vierge me l'a dit. – Alors je me tus, je ne dis plus une parole. He knew so little what the Jesuits were; he had so great an apprehension what would happen to him, that when he left me he agreed that, if he was unhappy, he would put a certain mark in his letter for me to come and see him. I went after a time to see him: I found him engaged in cleaning the dirtiest parts of the house. They had put him on the severest trials to test his resolution; he surmounted them all, and now, since he has been three years among them, he has never had even l'ombre de peine. I believe that he has more than once received a repetition of the grace he had at Rome, but I have never asked him on the subject. His vocation has been marked out by the Blessed Virgin for the conversion of the Jews. My uncle is worth from six to seven millions of francs: he has disinherited my brother, who has renounced every thing. He built a small church near here: before going into the order of the Jesuits he distributed all his property to the poor, as is their custom; previous to his conversion he had never had vision or anything of the kind.'
M. Ratisbonne, seeing we were greatly interested in all he said, warmed in his manner, and before parting he gave each of us a small book; mine is a Catechism. I told him how much I had liked his life of S. Bernard. 'Ah,' he said, 'you have had the patience to read that.' I begged him to allow me to call on him again before leaving. We then went to Miss Young's, where I wrote down as much as I could remember of our conversation, which had greatly moved me. Thence M. Carron took us to several booksellers; we also called on M. Galais at the Séminaire S. Sulpice, and delivered our letter; as he had a class shortly after, we proposed coming again on Thursday. We then adjourned to the church a short time, to various libraries, and did not get home till late.
Wednesday, July 9. – Called on M. Martin Noirlieu, Curé of St. Jacques; we found him very affable, and desirous to oblige. Talked about the state of things in England, and said we were most desirous to see things as they were, and to get rid of all prejudice. I said the culte of the Blessed Virgin was that which stood most in our way; and remarked, how in their litanies to her, after a simple address to the different persons of the Holy Trinity, there followed a reiterated invocation of her under many various titles, throwing, as it were, into the shade the Godhead. He excused this, because in those litanies her intercession was especially requested, and spoke of other litanies to Jesus, &c. He also said the Church was in no way committed to those popular devotions of the Archiconfrèrie, &c. He, for example, had had nothing to do with them at all; but lately he had had occasion to preach severely against the idea of any virtue being supposed to reside in images themselves. He strongly recommended Bossuet's Exposition, as being a faithful account of the Church's doctrines. There was strict unity as to dogma, but within that limit there were a vast number of things which might or might not be true. He has been curé since 1836; about 300 communicants every Sunday in his parish, which has 15,000 people. Among them are many Jansenists. At Easter rather less than half the people communicate; he excused there not being more by their having severe notions on the subject. Spoke favourably of his people. Walked with us to S. Etienne; a strange mixture of Gothic and Renaissance, with some fine features; the tomb of S. Geneviève, which he said was of the fourth century. Thence to S. Gervais, a fine church of the latest Gothic, the Lady Chapel of which has been most beautifully restored and decorated; there are five painted windows, and four very interesting frescoes by Delorme, of incidents in her life. The whole church is to be done after the same manner. The government, too, are going to spend 80,000l. in thoroughly restoring Notre Dame: all the windows are to be of painted glass. There is a curious pendent crown, wrought in stone, in the roof of this chapel. M. Noirlieu invited us to be at a "conférence," which he would hold with some of his parishioners on Saturday, who assisted him in the instruction of the poor. He left us, and we went to see la Sainte Chapelle, but were disappointed, as a ticket from the architect is necessary. Here, too, scaffolding is up, and restoration in full progress. We then mounted the towers of Notre Dame, and enjoyed for some time that noble view of the stateliest of modern cities. I never felt more admiration of this magnificent city than on this visit: one is ever painfully contrasting the meanness of our public buildings, and the wretched appearance of our brick houses in London, with the noble quais and palaces of Paris. These towers themselves are of wonderful solidity, and evidently built for spires; in truth, they ought to be double their present height. Here is, however, a great want of towers and spires in this view, such as there must once have been at Paris. We took a peep also at the great bell, – an immense creature. At five o'clock we went to dine with Bishop Luscombe: found him in his picture gallery, which he took great delight in showing us. We met here a Mr. Parkes, an American clergyman, who was elected Bishop of Alabama two years ago, but declined on the score of health. He is an interesting person. I had a long conversation with him on the state of the Church in England, America, and France. He, too, has a strong notion of Roman corruption, but is quite ignorant of their practice and services, having never read even the Mass. I endeavoured to persuade him, on the ground of the Church's decided voice, that the validity of baptism did not depend on the administrator; but he seemed to think there was equal authority for the doctrine of Transubstantiation. I said, as to that there were really only two Ideas on the doctrine of the Holy Eucharist: the one was a real true objective presence of our Lord's Body and Blood; and the other no presence at all, but an impression produced by faith on the individual, – a commemoration, or what not. If we agreed, as we did, with the Church of Rome in the former view, it was better not to fight about the mode in which she has stated it, her real intent being to force a shuffling and evasive party to accept or reject the truth distinctly. The Church of England, rejecting the Roman definition, has not herself fenced the truth on the Protestant side, which may make us more forbearing as to condemning the Roman mode of statement, being, as we are, entirely of accord with her as to the real truth, which lies at the bottom of the controversy – the Christian's highest and inconceivable blessing. He thought that high and low in the Church of England could not long go on together, and heartily wished we might get rid of state interference and control at any cost. 'Meet in convocation,' said he, 'and if you are turned out of doors, adjourn to the street; suffer anything and everything, but do not let the state control you.' We walked home with Mr. Parkes: he seems a most sincere and candid person.
Thursday, July 10. – M. Galais took us over the Séminaire de S. Sulpice. There is nothing remarkable in the building. The pupils are rather more than 200: their appearance is very devout; they seem of low rank in life generally, and this is no doubt the case, but with exceptions; for instance, we heard today of the son of M. Ségur, who is there. Each pupil has a small room to himself, which opens on the corridor; it has a bed, table, little stove, and hardly anything more, with a crucifix and little statue of the Blessed Virgin, belonging to the house. They make their own beds: they are not allowed to enter each other's rooms at all, but, if they wish to speak to one another, the stranger stands in the passage, and the occupant at his door. The whole is under the inspection of the archbishop, who has a chamber here, but does not often come. There are twelve masters. The state of instruction as regards the Church is as follows in France generally. In each diocese there is one or more petits séminaires, which are for children, not only such as are to be ecclesiastics, but laymen also. These are the only schools in which morals and religion are made a primary consideration; and, therefore, though they have nothing to do with the university, and are excluded from all privileges, they are sought after by the sounder part of the community. To these succeeds, for ecclesiastics alone, the grand séminaire for each diocese; this of S. Sulpice is the most eminent in France. The studies are for five years; two in philosophy, three in theology. They are thus arranged, as we took them down from the lips of M. Galais.
Sometimes, perhaps in half the dioceses of France, these two years of philosophy are contracted to one. The three years of theology are thus arranged: —
A course of Holy Scripture twice a-week, exclusive of private study of it.
Authors used: —
Bailly, 8 vols.
Bouvier, Institutiones Theologicæ.
Carrière, De Jure, et Justitia, &c.
Tronson, Forma Cleri.
These three years of theology are sometimes expanded to four.
For the dogma of the Roman Church, M. Galais said, the canons of the Council of Trent, with the acts of the councils generally, were the only authentic or symbolic sources; next to this comes catechismus ad parochos. Bossuet's Exposition is regarded as quite a standard book; likewise Moëhler's Symbolism. He recommended strongly, for the interior life, "Louis de Grenada," "Rodriguez," "S. François de Sales;" spoke highly of Olier's life.
We were greatly pleased with M. Galais' courtesy. He took us also over the library, which is very good indeed; beginning with a complete collection of the Fathers, through the schoolmen, down to modern times: it was arranged chronologically. "He pointed out to us 'Tronson's Forma Cleri' as giving the best idea of their whole discipline." – M. At M. Bonnetty's we found M. l'Abbé d'Alzon, who kindly took us to the convent of the Dames de l'Assomption, Rue des Postes. In passing, we looked into the chapel of the Jesuits, in their house at Paris, which has made such a noise. They are about 20 here, and in all France 210: and these few, but picked and valiant men, fill with dread the hosts of the freethinkers and infidels in France; they know not how to meet them but with persecution. We were greatly interested indeed with the Dames de l'Assomption. We saw the Supérieure and a sister, which latter was English. We had a long conversation, in which she explained the object of their society, lately founded – to communicate a Christian education to the children of the higher ranks, especially of the aristocratie de l'argent, who of all ranks in France are most alienated from religion. The Supérieure spoke with much feeling and intelligence, and with that beauty and distinctness of expression which makes the French language so pleasing in a female mouth. She said they had been much struck, in their experience, with the mass of knowledge and accomplishments which existed out of the Church and the sphere of her influence, or rather in antagonism to her. Beside the usual vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience, they took a fourth – to extend the kingdom of the Saviour to the utmost of their power; and the best means to do this, they thought, was to lay hold of the education of the higher ranks, and impress on it a religious character. 'This could only be done,' she said, 'by a religious congregation; for how can those who live in the world, and seek after its prizes, form their pupils to the contempt of the world? How can those who work for riches themselves teach others to live above them? How, especially, can the children of the rich be strongly impressed with Christian truth save by those who themselves bear the cross?' 'Religious orders,' she said, 'are like branches which, one after the other, spring out of a tree; the trunk itself lasts on, but the branches, it may be, after a time drop off, and give place to others. We do not desire that our order should last when it ceases to be useful, and therefore we have strictly provided that it should possess no funds after the acquisition of the house and garden, which is necessary for our existence: all that we allow is, that any sister may have a pension for life – but this is not necessary; if we find any one of suitable disposition and acquirements, we should be happy to admit her without any. Besides this we receive payments from our pupils: we think it more Christian to work for our living; nor would our pupils be in a comfortable position if they did not pay us.' These sisters recite all the offices of the Breviary in Latin, but not during the night, but anticipating them: they rise at five, go to bed at ten; they attend Mass daily, and have an hour of meditation every morning, and half-an-hour in the evening. 'But,' said M. D'Alzon, 'you know that, wherever there are religious orders, there must be one secret source of strength – intimate union with the Saviour.' 'You mean,' I said, 'that which springs from the Real Presence.' They all agreed; and the Supérieure continued – 'We could never sustain this life, were it not for the thought that we were spouses of Christ – that is the one thought which is the centre of our life.' I said, 'I am sure there are thousands of young persons in England who would enter into religious orders if we had them.' She agreed, and said, 'they must not be purely active, but largely contemplative; there was something pensive and melancholy in the English female character, which shrunk back from a purely active life such as that of the Sisters of Charity.' They were astonished and much gratified when I read to them the Absolution in the Service of the Sick, which pronounces absolution, by virtue of the priestly office, categorically, not declaratively: they agreed that it was perfectly Catholic. The demeanour of these ladies – the four that I saw – struck me exceedingly: it was gentle, perfectly that of ladies, yet intellectual: like that of those who felt they had a noble mission, and had courage to execute it. Their dress also is very becoming – a dark robe with a white hood, and white cross on the centre of the breast. All their servants take the same vows, eat at the same table; the only difference being, that they are less intelligent and accomplished.
In the evening we went for a short time into the gardens of the Tuileries; I had never before seen the orange trees out there, and the gay and cheerful spirit of the scene struck me, so much more brilliant than the aspect of our parks.
Friday, July 11. – M. was poorly with a headache, so I went alone to M. Galais at the Séminaire, who sent a young priest with me to M. Poileau's school, about a mile to the south-west of Paris. There are more than 300 pupils there; it is the largest establishment of the kind not in connection with the university. I saw the chapel, which was very neatly arranged, and the infirmerie, in which was a priest; there were several beds ranged in alcoves on each side, and some sick boys in them; a relation had come to see one, and one who seemed by her dress to be a sister of charity, another. The boys sleep in dormitories, ranged much in the same manner; it so happened that the head of the establishment and the next person to him were both away, and the rooms being locked we did not go into them. We saw a class preparing for their first communion. The rule of the house is that they confess constantly, but communion is left open. The boys pay 40l. a year each, and the masters receive the same sum, besides board and lodging. The house was encompassed with gardens, and an exercising ground, with poles, &c. for the boys; their ages run from 7 to 18 or 19: sometimes the conscription finds them there. My conductor had been drawn for the conscription, and had to pay 1800 francs for a remplaçant. He said about forty were drawn yearly on a city of 7000 or 8000; he was the eighty-first or so, but there were so many of those who drew before him incapacitated from one cause or other, that he and several beyond him came into the forty eligible. On returning I went to M. Galais again, as he had invited me, and he talked to me near two hours and a half. I thought him very well instructed and clear-headed; he gave me a sketch of the disputes of the Thomists and Molinists on Grace; and the system of Suarez on the subject, the science absolue, science moyenne, and science probable of God. The Church holds the two extreme points; on the one hand the absolute necessity of the grace of God anticipating, as well as capacitating, every human movement, on the other hand, the free concurrence of the human will, but she does not attempt to define, as matter of faith, the mode of their coexistence. He seemed to think Suarez, next to St. Thomas, was the greatest of theological minds. Once, in a dispute with a Dominican, the latter produced a sentence of St. Augustine which told strongly against Suarez; he kept silence, but when his turn came to reply, he said, 'That sentence is not in St. Augustine;' the other repeated that it was. 'It is not,' returned Suarez; 'I know St. Augustine by heart, and that sentence does not occur in his writings.' They searched, but were unable to find it anywhere. That evening his conscience smote Suarez for having said publicly, though with truth, that he knew St. Augustine by heart, and he confessed himself on account of it. On the subject of the Holy Eucharist, I inquired whether the Church would require more than that after the words of consecration the Body and Blood of our Lord were really and truly present, independent of the faith of the individual: he said, 'Yes; she would require a belief that the bread was destroyed, (détruit,) that its substance was changed, and its appearance, or accidents, only remained, to meet our senses. There were many opinions how this took place, but none of them were de fide, provided the thing was believed.' M. Galais gave me much more information respecting the seminary, which I put opposite the former remarks thereon. It seems to me that no greater care can be taken to form the inward mind to the duties of the sacerdotal office, and to exclude all who have not a genuine vocation. Nothing can exceed the kindness of M. Galais in giving information. In the evening we went to St. Severin, to hear M. D'Alzon preach: we lost our way, and were late, and so at too great a distance to hear him well. He spoke on the Real Presence, the junction of the Divinity with the Humanity, and the blessings thence flowing forth, rather with passion and feeling than with deep reflection. His incessant action contrasts strongly with our quiet manner. I can well imagine that reading his sermon would be quite insupportable to him, as well as to the people. At the same time such sermons as Newman's would be lost on them. I cannot but think that speaking from the pulpit without book ought to form part of our education.
Saturday, July 12. – M. D'Alzon took us over M. l'Abbé Migne's great printing establishment. It contains 175 workmen, and everything is done therein; binding, stereotyping, as well as printing, and selling besides. He produces a very large octavo volume in double columns, Latin for five francs, and Greek and Latin for eight francs: the former he is about to raise to six francs. His patrology is to contain 200 such volumes of Latin authors, and 100 of Greek: 46 are come out. The cheapness is wonderful, and necessary for the small incomes of those who would chiefly want such books, and the execution fair. M. Migne is a priest, and acts not from a desire to gain, but to assist the clergy. However, the Archbishop has forbidden him to say Mass at present.
We looked into the Louvre for an hour to-day, and enjoyed the glimpse of the pictures: the first time we have so indulged ourselves.
In the evening went to M. Noirlieu, who introduced us into a conférence de S. Vincent de Paul. About 40 young men present, of the rank and age of students, who meet weekly; they each take about a couple of families to visit and assist. This sort of thing exists in 33 parishes in Paris. Here there are about 50 members, in S. Sulpice 120. It is a visiting society, but under better rule than ours; and it was pleasing to see, as being formed out of exactly that part of society which is generally most alienated from such works. They gave us a copy of their rules. "The abbé himself had less to do with it than I had expected, but I believe he has an instruction in his church on Sunday evening, especially for the workmen whose families are thus visited. They conclude the meeting with short prayers, in which, by the bye, there occurs an invocation of the Blessed Virgin, which all repeat aloud, and which I did not like to repeat with them, being the one I mentioned, some time ago, as not being fully approved at Rome. These things are a puzzle to me. I can blink them for a time, but when I come into close contact, I feel them again, and wonder much how they can agree, not with infallibility, but with the wisdom which I feel otherwise fully disposed to allow to the Church of Rome. This particular case is in favour of Rome. But then Rome allows and sanctions what must almost necessarily involve things to which I cannot reconcile myself. The system of devotion to the Blessed Virgin, as it now stands, wants some foundation beyond all they tell me of when I ask them to give an account of it. Perhaps, in their own mind, they consider that the mind of the Church expressed in her perpetual practice is the real ground; but for the Church being so minded I am sure they do not assign sufficient grounds. If such grounds there are, they must be found in mediæval revelation; at least, I can hardly conceive mere development going so far with any authority." – M.
Sunday, July 13. – Went to Bishop Luscombe's service. He preached. In our return, we looked into the Chapelle Expiatore – one certainly of the most touching spots of Paris. Under the statues of Louis XVI. and Marie Antoinette respectively are inscribed their last words – golden words indeed – which can hardly be read, especially on the spot where their bodies rested for twenty-one years, without tears. In the evening we went to the Ecole des Frères Chrétiens, 6. Rue du Fleurus, and were conducted by some of the brethren to the most extraordinary scene we have witnessed in France. It was a meeting held in the parish church of S. Marguerite, to give prizes to the assiduous members of the society of S. Francois Xavier, which is composed of artizans, who attend periodically to be instructed. After Vespers and Compline, Monseigneur the Archbishop of Chalcedoine was introduced, under whom the séance was held. The curé then briefly stated the course of proceedings, and presently commenced a dispute between M. l'Abbé Massard, prêtre directeur, and M. l'Abbé Croze, on the subject whether there were or were not miracles; the former maintaining the negative, the latter the affirmative. The usual philosophical objections were put by l'Abbé Massard, very fairly and with great vivacity, and were answered by l'Abbé Croze with vivacity still greater and superior ingenuity. Constant approbation and laughter attended both question and answer, there being a large number of women outside the barrier in the aisles, the workmen members occupying the nave, and all seemed to relish to the utmost the nature of the colloquy. It was, indeed, extremely well imagined to convey to minds of that class a ready answer to specious philosophical objections against the truth of religion; and, though no doubt previously arranged by the two disputants, had all the air of being poured forth with extreme volubility on the spur of the moment. To give a notion of the thing: – "M. Massard proposed the subject of Miracles; and on being asked, What about miracles? said, he should dispute against them. L'Abbé Croze asked him what he meant by miracles. M. Massard began, personating an eager and hasty infidel, with a rough account of them. 'I don't mean to give a philosophical definition; I mean what every body means – an extraordinary thing, such as one never saw – in fact, an impossible thing.' L'Abbé Croze complained that this was too vague, and gave his own definition – 'an act surpassing human power, and out of the ordinary course of nature, and which consequently must be referred to some supernatural power.' L'Abbé Massard then made a speech of some length about the impossibility of miracles, and the absurdity of some that were found in history, and concluded by denying all. M. Croze made him begin to repeat his arguments one by one, saying, he would then serve him as Horatius did the Curiatii. M. Massard said, in repetition, 'God cannot work a miracle, for it would be a disorder; it would be against his own laws,' &c. L'Abbé Croze said, 'he could not see why He, who makes the sun rise every day, might not stop it one day, as the maker of a watch can stop the watch. A miracle is no exertion of force in the Almighty, no more than for one who walks to stop walking an instant,' &c. M. Massard changed his ground, and" – M. – urged Hume's argument, that even if a miracle were acted before our eyes, we could have no proofs that it was a miracle equal in force to the antecedent improbability that a miracle would be done. M. Croze pulled this to pieces, to the great amusement of the auditory. 'What,' said he, 'can anything be more ridiculous than to tell me that proofs are wanted, when a miracle is done before my eyes? If I see a man whom I well know in the last stage of sickness, witness afterwards his death and burial, and, a year or two after that, that man reappears before my eyes, do I want any proof of the miracle? If I meet an ass in the street and say to him, Ass, speak, philosophise; and he forthwith opens his mouth and argues, do I want any proof that it is a miracle? If I meet an ox going along, and I say, Ox, fly; and he flies, do I want proof of the miracle? If one evening all the women in Paris were to become dumb, and could not speak' – here a burst of laughter broke from all parts of the church, and it was some time before the orator triumphant could proceed. "M. Massard said, 'Well, but there have been sorcerers and magicians who performed miracles; Moses was met by sorcerers who did the same miracles that he did.' Croze – 'Not the same: they imitated one or two, but then failed.' He went on with an eloquent apostrophe to Moses, ending with an allusion to the final plague; and then he went on further to illustrate the difference between divine and diabolical miracles, by the history of St. Peter and Simon Magus. M. Massard said, 'But if any one were to work as many miracles by the power of the devil as are recorded in Holy Scripture, must we then believe him?' M. Croze – 'No; we have been told that Antichrist will work miracles at the end of the world; but we are assured that God has wrought them in proof of His religion, and He cannot have deceived us. Therefore we may safely reject any pretended revelation that is contrary to what we have received.'" – M.
The last question was, 'You have well proved that there can be, and have been, miracles, but now I wish to put an objection to you, which I think you will find it very hard to answer. How is it that God works no miracles now?' M. Croze rejoins, 'Is that your great difficulty? There are fifty answers I might give you. As, for instance, that God does not choose to work them now, and certainly we have no right to ask His reasons; or, that now His religion is established, it has no need of the confirmation of miracles. These and numberless other answers might be given, but I prefer showing you, that it is not at all desirable miracles should be worked. Two medical charlatans once went into a town, and, in order to get themselves practice, instead of putting out that they had specific remedies for the gout, or the liver, or the digestion, or what not, they declared, on that day three weeks, they would go in broad daylight into the cemetery and raise to life any whom they were asked to raise, however long he had been dead. The bait took; their house in the mean time was besieged with patients, for it was naturally supposed that they, who could raise the dead, could cure the living. In the mean time, as the day approached, the more timid said to the other, 'What shall we do, for if we do not raise the dead man we shall certainly be stoned.' 'Don't be afraid,' said the other, 'I know mankind better than that;' and, indeed, the next day a middle-aged man came to them, and offered them a considerable sum if they would go away without raising the dead. 'Ah! Messieurs,' said he, 'j'avais une si méchante femme.' Another burst of laughter throughout the church. 'I had such a shrew of a wife. God in his goodness has been pleased to relieve me of her; if she should be the one you pitch upon, I should be a lost man.' Presently came two young men, and said, 'Ah! Messieurs, an old man died the other day and left us a great fortune: if you raise him up, I am afraid we shall be lost men, for he will certainly take it from us again.' Not long after came the magistrates, who had reason to fear lest a certain person, who was now quietly out of the way, should return to life and trouble them. And they besought and authorised our charlatans to leave the city before the appointed day. So you see it would be a very undesirable thing to have the power to work miracles. So I might answer you; but I, for my part, believe there have been miracles in modern times.' Here he cited some, which I did not catch. Such was the nature of this conférence between M. Massard and M. Croze, which latter had a countenance remarkable for finesse and subtilty and comic humour. Profaneness to the church was supposed to be guarded against by stretching a curtain before the altar at some little distance.
This was followed by an energetic and rhetorical sermon from L'Abbé Frappaz, on the love of Christ, and on faith, hope, and charity, which was listened to with great attention, and applauded more than once. "After this they sang 'Monstra te esse matrem' to a lively hopping air." – M.
Then came a long distribution of prizes, in books and pictures, to the most attentive members, which were delivered to each by the Archbishop of Chalcedoine, while at intervals the choir struck out verses of a hymn in honour of St. Francis Xavier, which was echoed through the church. In the mean time the curtain had been withdrawn, and the altar brilliantly lighted up for a salut pontificalement célébré. This, however, we did not stay for, as it was already past ten.
Monday, July 14. – We went up to Montmartre, having a letter for the curé; but we found that he had moved to Charenton, behind Père la Chaise. Round the church there is a small garden, with the Stations, which terminate on the north side in a Calvary; there are the three crosses, and figures as large as life, on a little rocky eminence; beneath is the sepulchre, with a recess for the body, a window and two doors: on the south side a small chapel of Notre Dame des Sept Douleurs, in which she is represented with Christ in her arms. Underneath is the following inscription, which we copied as a specimen of expressions, such as, though unauthorised by the Roman Church, are continually found in and about churches, and do much harm: —
"Ne sortez pas du Calvaire sans invoquer Notre Dame des Sept Douleurs. Elle pleine de grace, le soutien des malheureux, la consolation des affligés, le refuge des pécheurs, et des opprimés.
"Elle vient du mont Valérien; elle opère des grands prodiges, adressons nous à elle avec confiance; elle nous sera propice, et nous consolera dans nos peines. Priez pour nous, Mère de Dieu, qui avons recours à vous."
We showed this to M. Galais in the evening: he censured it, declared it was contrary to the rule, which required that no such thing should be set up without the authority of the Bishop, and said he would have it made known to the Archbishop of Paris.
The church is very old, plain and ugly outside; its apse misappropriated into a telegraph station; inside it is a little better: Norman in style. The chief interest about it to us was that here St. Ignatius de Loyola made his first profession.
We enjoyed the prospect of Paris from the hill below; but that of London is, I think, finer; for this general view wants grievously the towers and spires of the middle ages: in that vast expanse there are but few buildings which soar above the common range. Notre Dame, S. Jacques de la Boucherie, The Pantheon, Les Invalides, and one or two others, seem as nothing in that great city.
We visited M. Galais again this afternoon, as he was going out to their maison de campagne, for his retreat of eight days, to-morrow. He was reciting his Breviary when we entered his chamber; he begged permission to continue, then knelt down for the Lord's Prayer, and after that talked with us above an hour. He also took us to the Supérieur. I told him we were desirous to learn all we could of their discipline. He said the seminaries had been originally established with a view to cultivate the interior life, and as places of religious recueillement, – the young men going to the Sorbonne for instruction. All this had been put a stop to at the Revolution; and now, the university being under the direction of infidels, they were obliged to make their seminaries serve for instruction as well as for works of piety. They wished to have a chair of Ecclesiastical History. He inquired about the state of Christian philosophy at Oxford, and said they looked for something to be done on that subject, where the stress of the battle with infidelity now lies. He also asked whether as careful a guard was kept over young men preparing for orders as with them: on which point we were ashamed to answer. M. Galais invited us to their maison de campagne, and we agreed to go on Saturday.
Tuesday, July 15. – We ventured to call on the Père Lacordaire, and were richly rewarded for our boldness, inasmuch as we had more than an hour's very animated talk with him. Behold a veritable monk, a St. Bernard as it were, returned again in the vigour of manhood; in his white Dominican dress he looked the very beau idéal of the Church's warrior, armed at all points for the encounter with heresy, and walking serene and fearless amid the troubles of life and the shock of falling systems. A fresh and rosy countenance, a keen dark eye, and most animated expression, contributed to form one of the most striking figures I have ever beheld. I thought it was worth coming to Paris to see him. Perhaps the knowledge that he was a most eloquent preacher had something to do with this feeling. "I asked him about the Tiers Ordre de S. Dominic. He said that it was under no vow, but they might add to their profession the vow of celibacy (chastity they call it always), or that of obedience, or both. The rule, as modified by authoritative dispensations, may be observed with tolerable ease by persons living in society. Father Lacordaire himself, as superior of the Dominicans in France, has received from Rome certain dispensations for those who may embrace the third order; and there are already some fifty of them, if I remember right, in Paris." – M.
We talked about the Anglican movement. He spoke also of the miserable state of the University in France; that, instead of being local, it was extended every where, and so had no body, no coherence. Its professors were bandied about, from one end of France to the other, at the pleasure of the government. He said they were engaged in a great contest for the liberty of the religious orders: that was nearly won: it would certainly arrive. Protestantism showed its deadness by producing no monastic institutions: there was no sign more convincing to his mind than this. If we had a true spring of life among us, how could we have failed to put forth what is so undeniably accordant with the spirit of the cross? After we had talked some time, I said, 'I should like to put a question to you. Suppose a person of intelligence, of perfect good faith, who is ready to make any sacrifice for religion, who uses all possible means to attain to the truth; suppose such a person, firmly convinced that the English Church is a branch of the Catholic Church; though unhappily separated from the Roman Church; would you condemn him – that is, put him out of the pale of salvation?' 'Monsieur,' said he, 'there is only one thing which can excuse a person for not belonging to the Church, and that is invincible ignorance. You know in certain cases even the heathen may be saved. But such a person cannot be in invincible ignorance; for there are only three things by which a man can be prevented from seeing the truth: either the truth in itself must be of insufficient power to convince him; or there must be a defect of understanding; or a corruption of will. But the first is out of the question. The truth of itself must always be sufficient: to suppose otherwise would be to censure God. Either then there must be a defect of understanding, but in the cases of the leaders of the Anglican movement, that is out of the question, because they are men of great powers of mind, of great distinction; there remains only then the corruption of the will, which, indeed, is often so subtle, that men are unconscious of its influence. Nevertheless, in the sight of God it is the will which in such cases leads astray, and then such men are condemned, and cannot plead invincible ignorance – when indeed you come to the individual, I will not attempt to judge: it is written, "nolite judicare," for it is utterly impossible for any human being to know the inward state of another. But I only say of the class that such persons cannot plead invincible ignorance – for the truth itself, as I have said, cannot be insufficient; and their intellectual powers are such, that in these also there can be no impediment; consequently the obstacle must be in the will, however unconscious the individual may be of it. A thousand considerations of family, of fortune, of habit, and what not, surround a man, and insensibly warp him, but he is still under condemnation, for it is his own will that is corrupt. If I were to go into a public square in Paris and raise three men from the dead, would all that saw it believe?' 'Certainly not,' I said. 'Why then is that? There is some secret obstacle in their will.' We tried in vain to make him understand that a person might be conscientiously convinced, after the most patient study, that the Church of England was part of the true Church, but in vain. It was plainly an idea that he could not and would not receive.
I put the case of the Greek and Russian Churches. He exempted the poor and illiterate from censure, but in the case of the instructed he said it must be the spirit of schism which secretly turned them away from the truth. I said there were bishops and monks and multitudes of persons of a devoted and severe life on their side, who failed to see the claims of the Roman See. 'Ah,' he said, 'it has always been so; in our Saviour's time they ascribed his miracles to Beelzebub; how was it that they who saw Lazarus raised from the dead went and informed the chief priests of it?' In short, so complete a conviction of the truth of the whole Roman system possessed his mind, that he was utterly unable to conceive a person of ability and sincerity coming to any other conclusion. We only put the case hypothetically, but he would not admit it even so; he said, it is morally and metaphysically impossible.
"I said, 'I wish I could show you the interior of a mind like that of – . Born and educated in Anglicanism, he has given great attention to religious truth, and in particular to the points in question. He has no desire but to be in the Catholic Church and to labour for it, but he believes that the Church of England is a branch of it, unhappily separated for a time by peculiar circumstances from the rest; and now in a state of appeal. In remaining where he is, he believes he is doing his duty. What do you think of such a case?' He said, 'I cannot judge of individuals,' but, &c. over again. He spoke as if he did not know much of England. I said to him, 'the question after all is one of fact: there are facts in England with which you are not acquainted.'" – M.
He did not seem acquainted with the peculiarities of our position. He spoke with great energy and ability. I can fancy what his force in the pulpit must be.
We went to M. D'Alzon, who conducted us to Dom Guéranger; he received us with great kindness. The Pope has just erected a bishopric at Perth, in New South Wales, and one of his élèves is going out there; he suddenly resolved upon it three weeks ago, and seems quite in high spirits at the thought of it. There are now one Roman Catholic archbishopric and three bishoprics there, – Sydney, Hobartown, Adelaide, and Perth. They said Dr. Flaget, Bishop of Bardstown, had been sent out with his pontifical and a paper mitre; 'as for his cross,' said Dom Guéranger, 'he could cut that out of a tree.' We put nearly the same question to him as to the Père Lacordaire, but he was more indulgent in his answer. He said, provided such a person was strictly sincere, and used every means to discover the truth, he must be judged to belong to the soul of the Church, though he was separated from its body, and would be saved. He said our formularies for the consecration of bishops and priests were deficient, so that, granting the succession even, it would be more than doubtful whether they were true bishops and priests; but being pressed he admitted that the Roman Church had never yet been called upon to decide the point, and that in fact it was not decided, though there was a general opinion among them about it. When I told him that Coleridge had collected 50,000l. for St. Augustine's, and what was the object of it, he was much astonished. 'If you English were restored to the Church,' he said, 'you would evangelise the world; Spaniards and Portuguese, Italians and French, must yield to you, with the resources you command.' Talking of liturgies, he remarked spontaneously, how those of the East were full of addresses to the Blessed Virgin: half or a third of every page was devoted to her. They went before the Roman Church in that respect. When the Council of Ephesus gave her the title of 'Mother of God,' there were public rejoicings throughout the city in consequence. He did not seem to like admitting that the prayers of St. Ephrem to the Blessed Virgin were not authentic; said it was his style. (Morris tells me the style of his Syriac works is very different from that of his Greek, and the matter much deeper.) At parting he expressed a wish, that if we came to Paris again, we would come and see him. We took a look at the beautiful chapel of the Sœurs Garde-Malades, with fresh admiration of it. We had expressed a wish to M. D'Alzon to see some sackcloth and instruments of penitence; so he took us to a house of Carmelite nuns of St. Therèse, near the Luxembourg: one of them conversed behind the grille and curtain, which was quite impervious to the sight on both sides. It is part of their special duty to pray for the conversion of Protestants. These Carmelites discipline themselves every Friday. The sister showed us some of their instruments of discipline; corporal austerities, however, by all that we could learn, are not common, nor are they generally allowed by confessors, partly that the health of few will allow of them; partly, there is a danger of pride thence arising.
Wednesday, July 16. – M. D'Alzon came and breakfasted with us, and afterwards took us to the establishment of the Frères Chrétiens, Rue du Faubourg St. Martin, 165., where the Supérieur Général, Frère Philippe, received us. There was little to see in the house, as they expected the Strasburg railway would come through them and drive them away. He said the number of brethren altogether was 4000; of pupils under them, adult and children, 198,000: they increase yearly. They were almost dispersed at the first revolution, but returned again through Cardinal Fesch, who found four of the brethren, who had taken refuge at Lyons, and brought them to Paris. Frère Philippe is very plain and homely: his picture, by Horace Vernet, has made a great sensation here.
M. D'Alzon then took me to a house of priests in the Rue de la Planche. I had a long talk with two of them. The first was a confessor to a penitentiary, in which eighty women are received at the cost of the city of Paris. His account of their penitence was touching. It is rare that any leave them without being thoroughly changed, provided they stay long enough. But the picture which he gave of the depravity general in Paris on this head was frightful. It is a wonderful spectacle, the close contact into which the most sublime self-devotion and the most abandoned sensuality are brought in this great city; on the one hand, consider the daily prayers and mortifications, and works of charity of those Carmelites, who are ever engaged in interceding for the conversion of sinners; of those nuns of the Adoration, who are ever contemplating the most wonderful of mysteries; of those Ladies of the Assumption, who dedicate the talents and accomplishments God has given them, under the vows of poverty, obedience, and chastity, to the direct furtherance of his kingdom; of those solitary and homeless priests – without father and without mother, without ties of family or worldly possessions, truly after the order of Melchisedec – who are ever offering the most holy Sacrifice, and building up the mystical body: on the other hand, think of that gulph of libertinage and selfishness, which is ever swallowing fresh victims – hearts young and unsuspicious, warm and confiding – polluting body and soul with the dregs of uncleanness, and hurrying them away too often into the presence of the Judge. No tale of misery ever told in fiction surpasses that which is daily enacting in Paris again and again. Amid such things we live, and truly we have need both to pray ourselves, and to call upon all spirits of the just made perfect to intercede for us and for our brethren. And yet it is the same flesh and blood – the same body, soul, and spirit – the same man, which is thus fearfully working for the devil, or thus heroically fighting for God. O mystery of the grace of God and of the human will, which is past finding out!
In the evening we visited, for a short time, the church of Notre Dame de Lorette, which is sumptuously decorated inside with paintings all over; it has a double row of pillars each side. The subjects seem chosen with great judgment, and the legends are more truly Catholic than one often sees. The expense of this church must have been enormous. We also looked into La Madeleine – very beautiful indeed it is, and as grand as the Grecian style can be, but it furnishes one with the best proof that such is not the proper style for a church.
Thursday; July 17. – We looked into La Madeleine again, at the Messe du midi. Its sumptuousness is astonishing. If, however, it were not safer to admire than to criticise in such cases, one might observe how vast a space is lost in the walls and arrangements of the interior, the breadth which strikes the eye being only fifty feet, while the real breadth of the side walls is at least eighty. Its architecture seems the inversion of that of St. Ouen or Amiens, inasmuch as it makes the least effect out of the greatest means, while the other makes the greatest effect out of the least means; all seems aerial and heaven-pointing in the one style; while the other seems unable, with its vast bulk, to rise from the earth, and perpetually crosses the eye with its horizontal lines – faithful images both of the religions they represent.