Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

was affected. In silence, and apparently with some compunctious visitations, they returned to their homes.”* In 1803, the doom of secularization fell on many of the religious houses in Germany, and this policy was extended soon afterwards, under the auspices of Napoleon, to Italy and Poland. According to the writer of the article “Religious Orders” in the “Encyclopædia Americana,” “no monasteries were to be found in Europe, except in Russia, (which tolerates the usages of all religions,) in Austria, Sardinia, Sicily, Ireland, Spain, and Portugal, when Pius the Seventh, in 1814, decreed the restoration of all the religious orders. In truth this proclamation affected only the States of the Church, where the Pope uses the religious orders to superintend public instruction, and charities to the poor, for which, with his shattered finances, he is himself unable to provide. The courts of Madrid, Turin, Modena, Lucca, and Naples, followed the example of the Pope, and have begun to reinstate in their ancient possessions, the religious who had been displaced by institutions of common utility. The latest concordats of the Pope with Naples, France, and Bavaria, contained stipulations in favor of the religious orders. In Bavaria where the monasteries were abolished, some have been restored. The period of religious orders, however, is past both in France and Germany ; for in these countries the advancing spirit of the age renders all monastic institutions unnecessary; and such establishments, almost everywhere, want money and popular favor.” From a careful comparison of the ecclesiastical statistics given by Malte-Brun, and other more recent authorities, we suspect that the writer in the Encyclopædia underrates the success of this new effort to revive the monastic spirit;—an effort which is extensively felt even in this country, where it is said, no fewer than twenty-seven convents have already been established. The burning of the convent at Charlestown, last year, produced an excitement at the time, which we shall do nothing to revive: but the subject would seem to call for a remark or two in this connexion. We belong to a denomination which, so far as doctrine is concerned, differs more widely, perhaps, than any other, from the Catholics. We also agree with Milton, as regards practice; we “cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue, unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees her adversary, but slinks out of the race where the immortal garland is to be run for, not without dust and heat.” Mr. Hume, it is true, himself no friend to monachism, and others, Protestants as well as Catholics, have thought, not without some show of reason, to make an exception in favor of nunneries;* but the state of public opinion, and the changes which have taken place in society, make it necessary even that this should he given up. Still it was with extreme regret and mortification that we had occasion to record the outrage referred to above: not merely because it was an act of lawless violence, but because it partook, to a certain extent, of the nature of religious persecution ; and this is not only abhorrent to our principles and feelings, but invariably has the effect, however it may seem to succeed for a time, (if it does not amount to instant and absolute extirpation,) ultimately to promote the very cause which it is called in to check or suppress. Notwithstanding all that has been said about a “foreign conspiracy against the liberties of the United States,” it will yet be found, we suspect, that the reaction, occasioned by the spirit manifested in this country against the Catholics, will do more to establish Catholicism here, a thousand times over, than his Excellency Prince Metternich, or the St. Leopold Foundation. On the other hand, the Catholics and their friends entirely mistake or misrepresent the movement, if they would make it to be irreconcilable with a love of religious liberty, even on the part of a large proportion of the rioters themselves. The biographer of St. Theresa, that pink and paragon of recluses, tells us, that “at Toledo a young woman, who had gained a reputation of virtue, petitioned to be admitted to the habit, but added: “I will bring with me my Bible.” “What!” said the saint, ‘your Bible Do not come to us. We are poor women, who know nothing but how to spin, and to do what we are bid.’”* From anecdotes like this a very unfavorable opinion has been formed by Protestants and by many Catholics of the slavish spirit pervading monastic institutions, which, in this particular instance, was aggravated by a growing and morbid jealousy in the community of all secret institutions, and by rumors, current and generally accredited though unfounded, of mysterious abominations practised at Mount Benedict under the cover of darkness, and of the actual constraint and duress in which one or more of the inmates were at that moment unrighteously and illegally held. Under these circumstances is it not conceivable that the mob, so far as religion, or deliberation of any kind, was at all concerned in the matter, believed themselves to be doing the work, not of inquisitors but deliverers ? One lesson, however, we hope will be gathered from this untoward event, -a lesson of great importance in these times of ultraism, and of a disposition to suppress ultraism by violent measures. We hope it will come to be undersood, that they who exasperate and inflame the passions of the people on any subject, until it passes their power to restrain or regulate them, are responsible for the consequences before the bar of public opinion, and the bar of God. ED.

* Historical JMemoirs of the Church of France, pp. 266, 267.

* Commenting on the dissolution of the religious houses in England, the historian observes: “There appeared also a great difference between the case of nuns and that of friars ; and the one institution .#. be laudable, while the other was exposed to great blame. The males of all ranks, if endowed with industry, might be of service to the public ; and none of them could want employment suited to his station and capacity. But a woman of family who failed of a settlement in the married state, an accident to which such persons were more liable than women of lower station, had really no rank she properly filled ; and a convent was a retreat, both honorable and agreeable, from the inutility and often want, which attended her situation.”— Hume's History of England, Vol. IV. p. 156. Pope also in his Eloisa to Abelard, sings the blessedness of the “vestal's lot.”

“How happy is the blameless vestal's lot
The world forgetting, by the world forgot :
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind
Each prayer accepted, and each wish resigned ;
Labor and rest, that equal periods keep ;
Obedient slumbers that can wake and weep ;
Desires composed, affections ever even ;
Tears that delight, and sighs that wast to heaven.
Grace shines around her with serenest beams,
And whispering angels prompt her golden dreams.
For her the unfading rose of Eden blooms,
And wings of seraphs shed divine perfumes;
For her the spouse prepares the bridal ring,
For her white virgins hymeneals sing;
To sounds of heavenly harps she dies away,
And melts in visions of eternal day.”

vol. XIX. — 3D s. vol. I. No. 1. 11

* Butler's Lives of the Saints, Vol. X. p. 366.

ART. IV. — A Memoir of JAMEs JAckson, Jr., M. D. With
Evtracts from his Letters to his Father; and Medical
Cases, collected by him. By JAMEs JAckson, M. D.,
Professor of the Theory and Practice of Physicin Harvard
University ; and Physician of the Massachusetts General
Hospital. Boston. 1835. 8vo. pp. 444.
*

This book has not been published, but printed only for private distribution; and we should not have thought ourselves at liberty to make it the subject of an article without the permission of the author, which we have solicited and obtained. We were ourselves strongly affected by the reading of the Memoir, though the writer of this article had not the pleasure of personally knowing the subject of it, — and we believed that we could hardly render a better service to the community than by contributing to make some of its characteristics more generally known. It is a beautiful, simple, true exhibition of moral worth, of correct sentiments and principles of action, of parental and filial confidence and friendship, of the generous ardor of a young man giving himself up without reserve to the duties which he regarded as assigned to him by Providence, and of the religious composure and selfcommand, with which a parent, fully sensible of the extent of his deprivation, can yet retrace the virtues of such a son, in the trust that he has only resigned them to the keeping of God. From much that appears around us, it affords relief and encouragement to turn to such examples of private and domestic virtue, to contemplate those rich veins of worth running below the surface, which, as in the present case, are occasionally laid open to view, and to recollect, that, whatever evils may exist in our community, it still produces such parents and such SOnS.

To young men, especially of the two professions, the medical and the clerical, in which the possession or the want of ability, extensive and correct knowledge, skill, and faithfulness, most affect the well-being of others, this Memoir affords an admirable lesson. No right-minded young man can read it without such sympathy, as will excite him to more strenuous exertions. Very glad should we be to believe, that those who have chosen the profession of clergymen were in general possessed with as strong a feeling, as the young physician whose loss our

society deplores, of the necessity of thorough, well-directed study, of intellectual preparation for their duties, and with an equal sense of the uncertainty and worthlessness of superficial information and merely traditionary opinions. There is great deficiency without doubt in both professions; and so far as a single example may tend to correct it, none can do so more effectually than that here presented. A large proportion of the most religious books are not of the number of those which assume that name. On the contrary, of books called religious, very many are founded upon false conceptions of our nature, of the religious character, of our duties and trials, of the world actually existing around us, of life and death. We are presented with views so partial, distorted, and exaggerated, that the religious man of the author's imagination becomes a being at once impossible and displeasing, very unlike the good, who are to be found in the real intercourse of the world. The most religious books, whether they bear that name or not, are those which impress us most deeply with a feeling of our responsibilities in the common offices of life; of the unending nature of moral and intellectual improvement; of the instability of our present form of being, and the certainty of higher modes of existence; of the imperishable character of all true excellence; of the deep remembrances and intimate affections that connect us with the world to come, by ties as real as those which bind us to the present; of the efficacy of the principles and dispositions, founded on a belief of the moral nature of God, and the immortality of those we love, as well as our own, to give moral power, to animate and console; and of the worth of those sympathies, which unite us with the friends whom God has made near to us, with whatever can enjoy or suffer, and with Him who is the source, strength, and hope of all goodness and love. The influence of the Memoir before us we regard as truly religious. But we ought rather to occupy the limits within which we are confined, by extracts from the Memoir itself, than by our own remarks. It begins thus;—

“The following pages contain a memoir of the life of my late son, James Jackson, Junior, M. D., with extracts from his letters, and a selection from the medical cases collected by him, principally in Paris. I have been induced to print these cases by the solicitation of those, who knew how he had collected them. I have been induced to write the memoir in consequence of the sug

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »