« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
life-in what? In a perpetual controversy with all they see and hear. They have stories to tell of perversion, and stories to tell of conversion. If it is on the native side it is the first, if on the side of the foreigner the last. One of these ladies talking to me of the Sisters of Charity, used rather strong terms—“I hate, I detest, I abominate."
Why, what do they do ?” “Poh! They walk with their bands in their sleeves,” was, I assure you truly, the answer made.
“ Then why do you live voluntarily, in a Roman Catholic country when you feel so strongly against its religion and its institutions ? Why not live in your own, professedly Protestant one? There you might do good; here I should think you only annoy yourself.”
“ France is my country—my dear, dear country! We were banished from it by Louis the Fourteenth ; but I am now returned to it."
“Ah! then I too ought to claim France as my country, and come to live and work in it, since I have always understood I came over from it with William the Conqueror."
These things are ridiculous; we have said so, and thought so before now.
Napoleon the Great was certainly not a good friend to the Pope; I believe he was not reckoned friendly to Popery; I am not sure that he called himself a Roman Catholic; and I have some idea that the true Roman Catholics of his time might have called him a Protestant. The Protestants of England, who localise the word, may laugh at this, nevertheless it is a fact that Protestant is a term of wide signification. But whatever else Napoleon I. was we are beginning more and more to discern that he was a great politician; that in his plans for the internal government, prosperity and elevation of a nation, he was still greater than in those for foreign conquest. Well, Napoleon I. did not object to employ Sisters of Charity in France, because they were "a Popish thing." He found they were useful; he saw the country required them; and he gave them to the country.
Napoleon reinstated the working religious órders in France; such as that of Vincent de Paul, of Jeanne Biscot, or of the Sisters of St. Agnes, and others also, which had been almost, or altogether destroyed at the Revolution; and the objects and work of which commended itself to his capacious mind as beneficial to the country he was restoring. By an imperial decree he authorised and confirmed the rules of the Sisters of St. Agnes, as being those of “ an institution which conferred a national benefit.” Perhaps Queen Victoria may do something of the same kind for her nation and people. : Under the Consular government, the Minister of the Interior might perhaps so far retain the revolutionary scruples, as to avoid giving the head of the Sisters of Charity the title of Superior; as she is, in the decree of 1801, styled Citizeness Duleau, formerly Superior of the Sisters of Charity; and as such authorised to educate girls for the care of hospitals; to unite herself to such persons as she thinks likely to ensure the success of the institution ; to inhabit a house granted by the government, and to receive pensions of three hundred francs for such persons as are totally destitute. The two first motives assigned for this act of the Consular government of France are these.
That services rendered to the sick can only be properly administered by those whose vocation it is, and who do it in a spirit of love.
That among all the hospitals of the Republic, , those are the best attended which have preserved the noble spirit of their predecessors, whose only object it was to practise a boundless love and charity.
That there is a fear that the order of Sisters, which is a glory to the country, should become extinct--and therefore Citizeness Duleau is ordered to do so and so, and the government of the Republic insures to the institution an annual grant not to exceed twelve thousand francs, or four hundred and eighty pounds.
You say, as a rather provoking answer to my reasonings, that Sisters of Charity are decidedly wanted in England, would doubtless be useful in England, but that they cannot be made applicable to England. There is a difficulty, certainly, where the principle of unity is wanting ; wbere every one has not only a doctrine, but even the interpretation of a doctrine after his or her own judgment; where every one has more or less of self-will, and almost every one would be a teacher, a guide, a director. This is a misfortune. But England still has a Church; a Church which is called the Church of England. Cannot this Church have its own institutions, moulded to its own purposes, and doing its own work, just as if there were no other Church in the world; no sects or parties, or divers denominations in the land ?
Perhaps so, you reply, but we cannot make Sisters of Charity here, because the Church of Rome has made them in France. I cannot reply to this argument as the French Protestants do, and assert that we had them previously. I cannot seek out for their model even in the early British Church, And
I am not sure that they have been at work in the Church of England since the time of the Reformation. You must therefore, either make out a model after your
own device, or take a hint from over the water, and work it out to suit the circumstances you have to meet. My only answer to the charge of imitation being that the whole order of district visitors was invented by Vincent de Paul, as well as that of Sisters of Charity. That the Church of England uses the one and may therefore use the other; that no sect or party objects to the one, and therefore need not object to the other.
The French say that they invent and the English imitate; some more politely say, they invent and the English perfect. What holds good with respect to arts and manufactures, may not certainly hold: good with respect to institutions. I should like to try this however ; and I will now give you some idea of how you might perbaps begin to make such a one in England. Of course there will be merely a few random notions dotted down just as they occurred, and serving for memoranda only, and, as you will see, quite adapted to England.
1. Make your plan. Do not find your materials first, and make your plan afterwards. materials suit your plan, and not your plan your materials.
2. Get your house. In England you will probably have to build it: so few would be found to suit the plan.