Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

6

[ocr errors]

6

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

not obliged to avow a secret crime; and in other ways it tends to favour intrigue and bad means of arriving at employments.'— Vol. i. pp. 423, 424.

Again, P. Bauny asks, 'Les valets qui se plaignent de leurs gages * peuvent-ils d'eux-mêmes les croître en se garnissant les mains d'autant de bien appartenant à leur maîtres, comme ils s'ima

ginent en être nécessaire pour égaler les dits gages à leur peine ?' and answers, 'Ils le peuvent, en quelques rencontres, comme lorsqu'ils sont si pauvres en cherchant condition, qu'ils ont été obliger d'accepter l'offre qu'on leur a faite, ou que les autres ' valets de leur sorte gaynent d'avantage ailleurs.' · Voila,' says M. Maynard, encore une matière fort délicate. Innocent XI. and the Assembly of 1700 have condemned the proposition, that "" men-servants and maid-servants may take in secret from their

masters, wherewith to compensate their labour, which they judge 'to be greater than the salary which they receive."This seems absolute and clear; and M. Maynard says it is a blameable doctrine, inasmuch as it leaves the estimation of the value to the interested party, and opens the gate to an infinity of domestic thefts. But, he adds, not even P. Bauny taught this proposition. What he exactly means by this we are at a loss to understand, unless he means that P. Bauny used other words.

But he proceeds himself to ask,— Follows it from this that in certain circumstances, infinitely rare if we please, servants ' may not use secret compensation?' He replies that, under certain conditions-e.g. the certainty of the debt-its being a matter of rigorous justice-impossible to be otherwise recovered - free from scandal or injury to a third party—and the debtor not liable to have to pay twice,-it is certainly permitted,' to creditors in general. The concourse of conditions is rare, and therefore it is a question rather speculative than practical; but where they do concur, all theologians allow it. And why should servants be excepted? By all means, he says, make more severe conditions for them, as they are more liable to make mistakes—'à la bonne heuremais doit-on les priver absolument du droit de compenser eux-mêmes les injustices de 'maitres durs et impitoyables ? Les théologiens, Jésuites ou non, 'n'ont pas eu ce triste courage.' They justify the principle by the example of Jacob and Laban, and leave the domestics in

the condition of other creditors, only with greater limitations,' all which, we are told, P. Bauny gives. The permitted cases are, 1, when agreement for increase of wages in proportion to increased usefulness is not kept; 2, when servants have been forced into a service for fear of starving. But Bauny excepts from this liberty the case of servants, 1, taken out of pure compassion; or, 2, at their own request; or, 3, not under worse

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

6

6

condition than others. Avec ces limitations, la décision de Bauny n'est pas dangereuse, surtout si le confesseur est laissé juge, et bien rarement trouvera-t-il son application.' And thus the honour and the intention of both Pope and Casuist, though seemingly of directly opposite views, are judiciously reconciled. But it brings forcibly before us how difficult a thing it must be to condemn’ a proposition.

So much for the effect of the condemnation. It is a fait accompli, to be treated with all respect. But M. Maynard suggests that its importance is still further diminished, if we consider its history :

• Madame de Sevigné is too amusing,' he observes, when she affects so much pity for her“ pauvres frères," whom she makes into victims when they were really persecutors.... “When they did not consult the Pope,” she says,

they were schismatics; when they complain to him about these opinions probables, they are rebels." Eh ! oui, sans doute, Madame; they first did not consult the Pope, for fear of hearing the condemnation of their heretical doctrines; they afterwards have recourse to him to denounce faithful priests, and trouble further the Church and the State. In the first case, were they not schismatics ; in the second, rebels Louis XIV. was therefore wise in placing his agents on the great roads, to prevent any such communications between the Pope and the Jansenists. But he did not succeed in barring that passage to them, and the denunciation reached Innocent XI. The Pope then pronounced on the question of fact, not on that of right, and condemned, in 1679, the sixty-five propositions, as he was bound to condemn them, wherever found, to show that the Church does not approve laxities in morality. But he did not attribute them to the Jesuits, or condemn them as corrupters of morality.'— Vol. i. pp. 182, 183.

But, though it might have been owing to the unfortunate failure of the efforts of Louis XIV. to stop them, that the Jansenists succeeded in forcing the Pope to consider an inopportune question, his decision, when forced, could be but one way, and was right. A modest foot-note, however, ventures further to insinuate the intrusion of a cause which takes off still more from the real, though not the formal effect of the act. The Jesuits knew the Pope's duty better than himself sometimes; but a price must be paid for helping a man in spite of himself :

• We must observe, however, that Innocent XI. did not love the Jesuits, and wished to change their Institute. He was a great and holy Pontiff, but inflexible even to harshness, jealous of his rights even to obstinacy, and impracticable when his authority was in question. In the affair of the Regale, the Jesuits had shown themselves more French than Roman. He had sent them his briefs, which the Parliament suppressed, with orders to publish them and certify their authenticity. The Jesuits remained neuter, et ne voulurent pas se rendre impossibles en France en s'opposant aux lois du royaume. He had even entrusted to P. Dez a brief of excommunication against Louis XIV., but the Jesuit took care not to publish it. He kept it secret, to leave the Pope time for reflection ; and in fact Innocent XI. withdrew it himself, acknowledging in the end how wise had been the

Vol. i. pp. 294–296.

p. 183.

conduct of the Jesuits. This however did not prevent him from entertaining a grudge against them; and the condemnation of the sixty-five propositions, though just in itself, was without doubt an act of rerenge.'—Vol. i.

From a writer who, in the case of Jansenism, argues that Infallibility means nothing unless it includes Infallibility as to fact, this is remarkable. Which is the true interpretation of the censures, must be settled between those who think most about the meaning of the propositions, and those who feel most about the honour of the Jesuits. It is at least ambiguous, whether it is public feeling or the censures of Rome, which prevents Escobars and Caramuels from appearing now.

Such is M. Maynard's way of vindicating a system, whose speculations and practical decisions ranged with equal boldness and equal solemnity, and with equal arbitrariness in relaxing or tightening, from the obligation of the first and great commandment to the problem whether chocolate were meat or drink,' or whether, and in what shape, using tobacco violated the eucharistic fast. We are familiar with the gross exaggerations of its meaning and design, made for party purposes-for a Maynooth bill, for instance-on one side. Here we have equally gross shuffling and effrontery, to get rid of obvious facts, on the other. We are not going here to reduce and adjust these rival extravagances; but it may be said, that to fair examination, the truth does not seem to lie

I'Quid de potione in Hispania, (ut Occidentali India, dicta vulgo chocolate ?" Aliquando dixi pro potu haberi, sed parum meriti jejunio relinquere ob vires, quas jejunanti adjicit, omnino inedia sublata, aut impedita; nec absolute cuperem usum hujusce potionis, uti mortificationi jejunii ab Ecclesiæ intentæ apprime adversantem ; at magis authoritati adhærens quam rationi, potum esse assero, sed non uti condit abusus, sed quemadmodum potio ab Indis ad Hispaniam pervenit. Unde chocolate" ovis aut lacte conditum potus non est, sed cibus substantialissimus. Item hujusmodi potin admodum crassa in notabili quantitate jejunium violat. Verum “chocolate” liquidum adeo, ut unicæ potioni uncia una adhibeatur saccharo necessario potus est, et absque scrupulo absumi potest. Unicam potionem appello quod capit commune vas, quod vicara vulgo assolet appellari. Quod si assignata proportione ea potionis quantitas condiatur, licet vas non semel evacuetur, jejunium non solvitur, temperantia fortasse violata, quia potus est, quemadmodum de vino asserimus.'-Escobar, Tr. i. Exam. xiii. cap. 3. Praxis sec. S. J. de Jejunio.

2. • 11* regula est: ad frangendum jejunium requiritur ut accipiatur aliquid per modum comestionis aut potationis: quare communiter dicunt Suar. Lugo, Conc. Holzm. Rone. Escob. Croix, Elb., quicquid dicant aliqui pauci, non lædere jejun. tabacum per nares sumtum, licet aliquid illius descenderet in stomachum, ratione allatâ . . . saltem ait Bened. XIV. hoc est permissum propter usum universalem inter fideles receptum.

* Pariter, tabaci fumus ore haustus non frangit jejun., ut etiam communiter docent Suar. Vill. Trullenc. &c. cum eodem Bened. XIV. qui similiter testatur hanc esse hodiernam consuetudinem, confirmatam communi DD. consensu. Limitant tamen Salmant., et dicunt frangere jejun. qui ex proposito transmitteret fumum in stomachum, dicendo quod hæc esset vera comestio, dum talis fumus etiam aliquo modo nutriret; sed hæc limitatio communius et probabilius negatur ab Escob. Præp. March. Viva, Spor. Renzi. Tamb. Diana, &c. Et ratio est, quia fumus non sumitur per modum cibi, nec est cibus in se comestibilis aut manducabilis, quem voluerit Ecclesia prohibere, juxta communem DD. sensum.'-Liguori, Hom. Ap. Tract. xv. p. 3, n. 38, 39.

very deep. If we look into its history, its first cause is to be sought in the inherited habits of thought, which had been formed in the middle age schools. The extravagant licence of speculating and

. deciding had passed from doctrine to questions of morality and conscience; it was the fashion and mania of the day; serious men competed in the hardihood and strangeness of their solutions, and good men seemed to take a pride in finding out how much they could allow-in speculation at any rate-to be lawful. Conditions, restrictions, distinctions multiplied of course; but so did the authorities and decisions, inventing doubts, extending liberty, and taking away scruples. It is all done in these countless folios of Moral Theology, just as if it had no more to do with real human action than with the movements of the stars—all for the mere pleasure of speculating, and with the zest of a race in avoiding a corner, and the inventiveness of a legal debate, in pressing or giving the slip to the letter of an Act of Parliament.

Its next cause was the practical needs of casuistry—the endeavour to fix what cannot be fixed, the limits, in every possible case, of mortal sin. Casuistry may be a natural growth of the wants of conscience, and its place in a system like that of Rome is obvious. Whether it can supply those wants or not, the attempt to do so may doubtless be made with fairness and soberness; and it is impossible to doubt the ability or religious mind of many, whose meditations it has engaged. Such, in spite of Pascal, were Suarez and Vasquez. But its extent and its utility are limited; and the mischief of which it may be the occasion is obvious, if it becomes formal, or attempts to supersede or overshadow the individual conscience. And this tendency was plainly visible even in the best writers of the class. Doubtless moral questions are very important and often very hard ones. But there are endless questions on which no answer can be given except a bad one,— which cannot be answered in the shape proposed at all. We may think it very desirable to be able to state in the abstract, yet for practical use, the extreme cases, which excuse killing, or taking what is not our own; but if we cannot get beyond decisions, which leave the door open for unquestionable murders or thefts, or shut it only by vague verbal restrictions, unexplained and inexplicable, about prudence,' and moderation, and necessity,' and 'gravity of circumstances,' it is a practical illustration of the difficulty of casuistry, which seems to point out, that unless we can do better,

6

we had best leave it alone. But these men were hard to daunt. They could not trust the consciences of mankind with principles of duty, but they could trust without a misgiving their own dialectic forms, as a calculus which nothing could resist. Nothing in the feelings or actions of men was too fleeting, too complicated, too subtle to be grasped, analysed, expressed and laid

up for use, by means of the verbal technicalities of their method. No question would they dismiss as insoluble or absurd.

The consequence was twofold. Their method often did fail, and in the attempt to give exact formulæ of right and wrong action, they proved unable to express the right without comprehending the wrong with it. Then as it was not their way to reopen and reexamine, they were driven on that strange maxim for a practical philosophy, that much might be lawful in speculation which was unlawful in practice. They did not shrink from consequences; but they, or at least their defenders, took refuge in the alleged unfairness of taking them at their word. But it is scarcely possible to believe that this scientific

. impotence was the only consequence of their misdirected labour. From all evil designs the leaders, at any rate, may be safely absolved; though whether they did not lose their sense of the reality of human action, in the formal terms in which they contemplated it, may be a question. But though the design of corrupting morality is one of the most improbable charges against any men, the effect may more easily follow, even where not intended. When great authorities lay down conclusions which seem to relax the strength of obligation, man must cease to be the creature of affected self-deceit and mixed character, which we know him to be, if any verbal guarding can save them from misleading him-misleading under the pretence of obed:ence. These Casuists would not trust the individual conscience; and it had its revenge. They were driven onwards till they had no choice left between talking nonsense, or what was worse. They would ticket, and control, and provide for the most evanescent and mixed forms of will and feeling. They would set conscience to rights in minutest detail; and so they had to take the responsibility of whatever could not be set to rights. Nature outwitted them; it gave up its liberty in the gross, and then forced them to surrender it again in detail. They claimed to lay down exactly the measure and shape of every form of stealing ; so whenever the letter of their rules did not hold there was no stealing. Nay, it made them avowedly allow for its waywardness in the rules they laid down, as the price of its submission to control at all. And thus, at length, under the treatment of compilers and abridgers, and under the influence of

« PreviousContinue »