The Gallican Assembly Of 1682
( Originally Published 1874 )
WHO can despair of the vitality of truth, when the real history of the struggle between the Holy See and Gallicanism, under Lewis XIV., after lying buried for two centuries, under a vast mountain of falsehood, has at last come to light ? And yet this is by no means an overstatement of the fact. The labours of M. Gérin have dealt a fatal blow to the traditions on this subject, which have hitherto been quietly received alike by Protestants and by Catholics. But a long cherished tradition is not at once dispelled from men's minds, even by the publication of clear and unanswerable facts which disprove it. It would be a failure in duty, if Catholics should leave off insisting upon them until the truth has got itself so firmly implanted in men's minds that it will need the courage of a Cumming, a Newdegate, or a Whalley to enable any man to stand forward and talk gravely about Gallican principles ; and if I may in any degree judge from experience this will not be until many a confident writer has been called to account for assuming as admitted facts all the monstrous fictions which M. Gérin has exposed. This may be a somewhat weary task, but I feel no doubt of ultimate success ; nay, I have a good hope that after a few years the Times' itself will not only take it for granted that what used to be called the ' Liberties of the Gallican Church' were really nothing more than maxims forced upon reluctant, but time-serving Catholics, by shameless tyranny on the part of Lewis XIV. and his ministers; but also that such has always been the view taken of the matter by all educated men, and especially by the writers in the Thunderer.
It would not be easy, at any period, to exaggerate the importance of establishing the truth on this subject But, if I am not mistaken, the present crisis of the history of the world, and most especially of England, gives it a new importance. The European world is still in the middle of that great series of earth-quake shocks to which future ages will look back as ' the revolution,' which began with the overthrow of the throne of the Bourbons in France, and as to which no one can as yet form any conjecture when it is to end. In England, especially, it is impossible that the relation of the State to religion should not be seriously altered by the great change which Mr. Disraeli has introduced into our secular institutions. That change is not really less great and momentous, because like other great changes in England, it was brought about by constitutional means, not after the French custom, by force; and we may calculate on seeing it result in a total change of the maxims of our Government. For myself I strongly think that one of its effects is likely to be to diminish the feeling which has long prevailed among English Liberals in favour of religious liberty, and to bring future English Governments into collisions with the Catholic Church, different, perhaps, in form, but not less serious than those which it has experienced with rulers of very different sorts in centuries gone by, and from which it has risen triumphant. If this expectation is well-founded, it is clearly important that, before those collisions are even threatened, the old illusion about the Gallican liberties should be effectually swept away : for the experience of Napoleon I. shows, what indeed common-sense would have sufficed to teach, that there is nothing so welcome to men who, under a new order of things, are setting themselves to assail the Church, as, when they are able to attack it from behind the shelter of great Catholic names of former times.
No man was less tempted to appeal to precedents in the past history of France than Napoleon L, for it was his boast to be the founder of a new order of things. It was only against the Church that he ever thought of urging precedents drawn from the maxims and policy of Lewis XIV. But he was never tired of appealing to the ' declaration of the clergy of France,' in May i 682 ; and to the great name of Bossuet. M. d'Haussonville shows that on March 6, 1810, when railing at the Belgian clergy who remained faithful to Pius VIL, he said, ' You idiots. If I had not found principles like my own in the teaching of Bossuet, and in the maxims of the Gallican Church, I would have turned Protestant ! '
He was wont to repeat that ' the second alone of the four articles contained in the declaration of 1682 would have been enough to enable him to get rid of the Pope.' Accordingly, those articles were incorporated in the ' organic articles,' which, with almost incredible cynicism, he added to the Concordat with Pius VII. after it was signed, and after he had, in vain, used all means of fraud, as well as of force, to get them included in it. Nay, when he seized the States, of the Church, his servile Senate passed, at his dictation, a new enactment, which he published as a law of the French empire, requiring all future Popes on taking possession of their office to swear to observe the four articles of 1682. M. Gerin tells us that this law was quoted by the Count de Montalembert in the French Chamber of Peers (May 20, 1847), and the Assembly received it with something of incredulous surprise. ' Yes, gentlemen,' said the Count, 'so it stands in the Bulletin des lois. And it is well that these monuments of humum folly should, from time to time, be brought forward that men may know how glory itself can be debased by passion.' (P. vi. note.)
The same lesson unquestionably is taught by the volume before me. The glory of Lewis XIV. is disgraced by the tyranny and trickery which it records in so many instances : and, alas, the far higher glory of Bossuet himself is dimmed by his unworthy con-cessions.
As far as Bossuet has, in times past, been under suspicion as disaffected towards the Holy See, M. Gerin clears his reputation. Bossuet, beyond all doubt, was in heart as good an Ultramontane as anyone else. So far as he is to blame, it is not for being hostile to the authority of the Holy See, but for unwillingly allowing himself to be made, to a certain extent, a tool in the hands of those who desired to assail it.
This, I think, no one can doubt, who has read the documents collected by M. Gerin. And it is a fact of great importance. The weight of any man's testimony is destroyed in the judgment of all sober men, if it turns out to have been obtained either by torture, or by the dread of it. Much more is the value of a great man's opinion upon a theological question tainted, if he has de-livered it under secular inducements. It becomes, in fact, not the sentence of a judge, but the pleading of a hired advocate. Bossuet, highly gifted as he ever was, used his gifts in 1682 merely as the advocate of Lewis XIV., or rather, it should be said, of Colbert.
Nothing throws more light upon this than his own conduct, when Lewis, on a former occasion, condescended to use the clergy of France as his tool against Alexander VII.
The outlines of this disgraceful history have been given by all historians. Life and property were in those times insecure in Rome, because the ambassadors of the Catholic powers claimed privileges utterly destructive of all government. Lord Macaulay says:
It had long been the rule at Rome, that no officer of justice or finance could enter the dwelling inhabited by the minister who represented a Catholic state. In process of time, not only the dwelling, but a large precinct round it, was held inviolable. It was a point of honour with every ambassador to extend as widely as possible the limits of the region which was under his protection. At length half the city consisted of privileged districts, within which the Papal government had no more power than within the Louvre or the Escurial. Every asylum was thronged with contra-band traders, fraudulent bankrupts, thieves, and assassins. In every asylum were collected magazines of stolen or smuggled goods. From every asylum ruffians sallied forth nightly, to plunder and stab. In no town in Christendom, consequently, was law so impotent, and wickedness so atrocious, as in the ancient capital of religion and civilisation.'
It is truly amazing to find that this monstrous abuse, when loudly complained of by the Popes, was supported through false principles of honour by the monarchs of Europe. At a Iater period it was put a stop to by Innocent XL, 'who felt on the subject,' says Macaulay, ' as became a Priest and a Prince.' The unequalled outrages which Lewis XIV. then committed, in the endeavour to maintain it. I shall have to mention. I now return to 1662. On the 20th of August in that year the troops, kept on foot by the Duke of Crequi, ambassador of France, attacked some Corsican soldiers in the service of the Pope, and in the fray which followed, two Frenchmen and five Italians were killed. The Pope ascertained that, although the French were the aggressors, his own soldiers afterwards had been to blame, and actually caused two, who were found guilty, to be executed. He also sent an extraordinary minister to Paris, to explain the unfortunate event to Lewis. The King refused to give him an audience, and adopted a line of conduct so exactly similar to that of Napoleon I. towards Pius VII., and also towards the republic of Venice, when it suited his purpose to pick a quarrel with them, that it is difficult to read the narrative without imagining that, by some accident, a page of French history has got out of its place. He gave orders that Avignon should be seized, and sent an army into Italy. That nothing might be wanting to complete his disgrace (and I must add his resemblance to Napoleon), hearing that the Pope was obtaining troops for the defence of Rome from the Catholic Cantons of Switzerland, he sent to assure them that the French troops were marching into Italy only to defend, exalt, and protect the Holy See, 'after the example of his glorious ancestors ;' and that the ' eldest son of the Church could never think of an action so culpable as that of employing his arms against her.' The Pope continued to negotiate, but Lewis demanded that, before he would consider any terms, Alexander should give practical proof of his good intentions, by depriving of his hat, Cardinal Imperiali, governor of Rome ; by giving up to Lewis his own brother, Don Mario, to be dealt with at the King's discretion; and by causing no less than one hundred of his own soldiers and four officers to be hanged, half in the Piazza Farnese, half in the Piazza Navona. Beside all this, the Pope was to engage to send any person whom Lewis might be pleased to name as Legate, to apologise to the King. When the Pope, said the French Ambassador, shall have taken these preliminary steps, it will become possible to believe that he is in good faith desirous to place himself in a position to give satisfaction to the King, my master. ' No account of this wretched affair,' says M. Gérin, ' is more miserable than those given by apologists of the Court of France for instance, by the Abbé Régnier-Desmarais, attaché to the Duke of Crequi's embassy. These monstrous demands were of course rejected by the Pope, and Lewis continued his threats. After a dispute, the details of which I pass over, the affair was ended by a treaty studiously insulting to the Pope, who was compelled to erect in his capital a pyramid, on which were inscribed its conditions ; one of which was, that the whole Corsican nation was disqualified from taking service under the Roman government.
What,' says a writer in the ' Month," if some one had foretold to Lewis that a Corsican dynasty would one day occupy the throne of his descendants, and a Nuncio of the Chigi family,' which was that of Alexander VII., ' should be accredited by the Holy See to the representative of that dynasty?'
I have said more than enough to prove that the quarrel of Lewis XIV. with Alexander VII. in 1662 was merely one of those outrages by which it was his delight to insult the other European sovereigns, such, for instance, as that in which he indulged him-self towards Genoa, when, by the threat of bombarding the city, he compelled the Doge to come in person to Versailles to apologise for an imaginary wrong, selecting this particular reparation simply because it was notoriously a fundamental law, that the Doge, during the period of his reign, might never leave the Ducal Palace and its precincts, and therefore no other submission would be equally insulting to Genoa. As a Catholic, of course his offence in directing these acts of insolent aggression against the Supreme Pontiff was far greater than any other. What his motive was may be doubted. In 1662 he was only four-and-twenty, and his arrogance may have been nothing more than the natural intoxication of so young a man who had been bred up from his very childhood 1 upon the grossest flattery as his daily food. But his continuance in the course of insolent aggression during his life suggests the question whether it was not adopted on calculation.
The paper has been preserved on which the little monarch of six or seven had copied this corrupting maxim six times, signing the whole at the bottom ' Louis,' as who should say 'inspected and approved.'
His power really was irresistible, except by a combination of the European states, which was little likely to be maintained even if it were made. He might naturally believe it to be irresistible ; and if he deliberately aspired to universal empire, it may have been his object both to accustom surrounding monarchs and states to regard him as set above all law, and entitled to demand from them a degree of submission which no other king would have exacted even from his own subjects, and to show to the world that to be avowedly the subject of the great King was the only condition which gave to any nation, province, or city the least chance of escaping from insult and oppression.
Be this as it may, it is certain that from the autumn of 1662 to the year 1664 it was the unconcealed object of Lewis to heap all conceivable insults upon the Pope and his government. With this view he assailed his spiritual power, exactly as with the same view he seized Avignon.
He selected as his weapon in this unholy war the Faculty of Theology at Paris, which before the Revolution was a corporate body,1 composed of the doctors of theology in several colleges of secular and regular clergy, of which the world-famed Sorbonne was by far the most important ; to which colleges 'the Faculty' bore a relation analogous to that of the University to the several colleges in Oxford. The liberties of this body had already been tampered with, but it was still possessed of greater privileges and, above all, animated by more of a spirit of liberty than any other institution left in France_ Thus remaining a solitary monument of ancient freedom in the midst of the arrogance and servility bred by habitual despotism, the Faculty of Theology in some measure occupied the position which, as it is confessed even by the inveterate and bigoted hatred of Gibbon, was occupied by the Catholic Church in the Roman Empire.
The Faculty of Theology then received orders from the King to make a declaration upon the same subjects upon which that of 1682 was afterwards made those of the power of the Pope in temporal matters beyond his own dominions, and especially in France ; and his infallibility.
It is important to observe that neither this declaration nor the much more celebrated one made in 1682 was the spontaneous expression of the sentiments of the French clergy. Neither again were they or any decree called forth, as modern writers have usually assumed, by any ` Papal aggression ' upon the liberty of the French Church and the independent authority of the King. There was no conceivable reason why a declaration against the 'deposing power' should have been made by the faculty or demanded by the King in 1663 any more than at any moment in the last three centuries. The motive was transparent. The King had quarrelled with the Pope. There were two ways in which he could strike at him. He might attack his temporal dominions, and accordingly he seized Avignon and invaded Italy. He might shake his spiritual power, and to do this he turned to the Parliament of Paris and the Faculty of Theology as naturally as in the other case to his troops and their commanders.
Accordingly six articles, in their contents much the same as those of the declaration of 1682, were drawn up and presented to the King by the representatives of the Faculty, headed by the Arch-bishop of Paris, as head of the Sorbonne. The secret history of this affair is disclosed by M. Grin n his ` Introduction.'
It must not be supposed that the King was urged merely by his own pride and ambition ; he was surrounded by dangerous counsellors, who, says M. Gérin, were deeply imbued with animosity against the Church, and especially against the Holy See, and who had their head-quarters in the Parliament of Paris, among that class of legists who, to use the expression of M. Guizot, were at all times a terrible and fatal instrument of tyranny in France.
It is needless to say anything of the history of this famous body, its supreme judicial authority, the influence which it gradually assumed in legislation owing to the custom which required that the King's edicts should be registered on the books of the Parliament before they became law, its struggles to extend its own power, in which it naturally failed, because a body, however respectable, can hardly be a true check upon the master of twenty legions unless it has behind it a real constituency, and the Parliament of Paris was merely a corporation of lawyers, not a representative body. One thing, however, is certain ; it was always steadily opposed to the liberty of the Church and the authority of the Supreme Pontiff. Nothing else could have been expected, for of all things that which lawyers as such hate by the strongest instinct is an ' imperium in inlperio,' any body exercising an authority not derived from the law of the land, nor revocable by it. No individual lawyer was ever really hearty in supporting the authority of the Church, unless he was a man personally religious, and viewing the subject in a supernatural light. And such men are little likely to be the rulers in any great legal corporation. We may, then, take it for granted that any body such as the Parliament of Paris will always be hostile to the independence of the Church.
On this occasion M. Gérin shows, from the manuscript journal of a contemporary, that the Procureur-Général (an officer in many respects answering to the Attorney-General in England) taking advantage of the quarrel between Lewis and the Pope, waited on the King and asked him `whether he wished that the Pope should have the power, whenever he pleased, of taking the crown from his head,' and upon this read him the Bull, Unam Sanctum, the novelty of which made the King open his eyes wide. Upon this M. Gérin adds, ' Now this same Unam Sanctam was published by Boniface VIII, (1302):
The Advocate-General Talon then moved the Parliament, and obtained an order, addressed to the Faculty, forbidding it to allow any thesis to be defended similar to one which had been complained of, in which a bachelor had maintained, in very moderate terms, the authority of the Holy See. This decree the Parliament required should be read in the `general assembly, before the Doctors, and also the Bachelors who had received their first licence, and then formally entered on the Registers of the Faculty.' Two great lawyers, Talon and de Harlay, then went to the meeting of the Faculty, and required obedience in a speech of much insolence towards the Church, but which declared of the King.
The favours which we daily receive from our incomparable King ought to bind us to our duty as strongly as the indispensable necessity which Jesus Christ has imposed upon all the faithful of honouring kings.
The Church, which has just received from his piety the important place of Dunkirk, which his prudence and the necessity of his affairs had obliged him to take from her for some time, reveres him, not only as the living image of the Godhead as a man into whose hands God has committed absolute power, but as her benefactor, her support, and her protector.
For our part we have no words to express our gratitude for his continual labours for our good, but we redouble our prayers for his exaltation. We ask of God to give him everything he can wish for the glory of his government, and for his private and domestic satisfaction; if, indeed, his kingly soul is capable of feeling any in which his subjects do not bear a part. We shall regard him as a mighty conqueror in war as a good and tender father to his people in peace, and shall ask of God to cut short our own years in order to add them to those of his life.
And that these his public and private wishes may not be frustrated, we require that the decree of the Court be now read aloud, and that the registers of the faculty be brought, that it may be transcribed and registered in them 1 (p. 22).
Colbert, Controller of Finance and Secretary of State under Lewis, who was his own Prime Minister, had his tools among the members of the Faculty, and received from them reports of all that passed in the private meetings. These reports have been preserved, but their existence has not hitherto been known. M. Gérin gives them at full length. It appears that the Faculty re-fused the demand of the crown lawyers for the immediate registration of the decree of the Parliament, and only promised to discuss the matter. The discussion was private, and the report of it is now published for the first time. This report is followed by a list of the doctors who ' have acted amiss, or are liable to suspicion in the matter of the decree of the Parliament;' and another of ' those who have done well, and who have specially distinguished themselves, on the same occasion.' It is worth the notice of those who suppose that the opposition to the Pope came from the Gallican Church, that (notwithstanding the open and undisguised use of threats and promises by a despotic government) the former list contains six-and-twenty names, the last only eight. Another important fact, until now quite unknown, is that the name of Bossuet figures among the opponents of the so-called Gallican party. His character is also specially reported upon among those of its opponents. The private report also contains a list of ' communities to be feared on this matter.' It contains, among others, all houses of the regular clergy, and S. Sulpice, ' in which ecclesiastics are trained in a spirit of perfect regularity ; but it is confidently asserted that everything there is extreme for the authority of the Pope? Among the individuals who are reported against as ` strong supporters of the work which all good Frenchmen and true subjects of the King are labouring to oppose,' we find M. de la Motte Fénelon.
At last under open compulsion the decree was registered, April 4 ; but the same day a thesis, similar to that which it forbade, was maintained with the approbation of the Syndic of the Faculty, M. Grandin. Talon was enraged ; the Syndic and several others were called before the Parliament, and Talon having declared that the Syndic, ' far from asking pardon and apologising for his offence, made himself more guilty by the terms in which he de-fended it,' the Parliament immediately suspended him.
A decree [says M. Gérin] no more legal than if the Council of State nowadays should pass a decree suspending a bishop as a president of the Court of Appeal. This act of violence alarmed the timid, and some days afterwards the Court obtained the passing of the ambiguous six articles, signed by only sixty-six doctors, which the Parliament caused to be solemnly registered in all the universities, while it was secretly admitted with disgust that the maxims of the Parliament were condemned by the Faculty. In 1682, when it again became necessary to break the resistance of the Sorbonne which refused to register the Four Articles, De Harlay, the Procureur-General, with satisfaction, reminded the Chancellor, De Tellier, of the severities suffered in 1663 by the doctors, and advised him to employ the same means to subdue them again. His manuscript (now first published) says that ' the example of these will make the doctors anxious to avoid the same by taking some step which may atone for their offence against the King, as they drew up their articles in 1663, in consequence of the trouble you took about it after the interdiction of M. Grandin' (p. 33).
Obtained as they were, these six articles, whatever they might have been, could have had no weight. But it is worth while to observe that they bore evident marks of being reluctantly drawn up ; for, instead of speaking clearly and definitely, as men do who are expressing their own cherished opinions, the writers made them as ambiguous as they could ; and this was noticed by all parties, Parliamentary as well as ecclesiastical, at the time.
It is important to observe that the moment Lewis XIV. had made up his quarrel with Alexander VII., these demonstrations against the Pope suddenly ceased. Not that the lawyers would not willingly have carried them on ; but in truth, as things then were, few men dared to do anything in France, unless they had good reason to know that what they did would be acceptable to the King ; and, much as the lawyers of the Parliament hated the Pope, they loved their own interest far more than they hated him.
They had to wait near seventeen years, when the next quarrel between Lewis and the Pope became serious. That quarrel was even more disgraceful to Lewis than the former, for it originated not in the wanton insolence of a youth intoxicated with the early possession of absolute power, but in a gross act of rapacious tyranny on the part of a man already in middle age.
The kings of France had long exercised a right called the Regale, with regard to the temporalities of certain French sees. They received the revenues and exercised the patronage of those sees during vacancies, and the vacancy was held to continue until the incoming bishop had sworn the oath of allegiance, on taking possession. M. Gérin shows that officers of the crown, at different times, had attempted to extend the claim to other sees, and that this had been expressly prohibited, by royal edicts of Lewis XII. and Henry IV., which last had been registered by the Parliament. The extension of the claim to any diocese not already subject to it had been expressly forbidden by a General Council the second of Lyons), in 1275. In 1 673 and 1675, two declarations were published by Lewis XIV., extending the Regale to all the archbishoprics and bishoprics of France. This was an act of sheer tyranny, besides being avowedly sacrilegious ; and the bishops might well scruple even in submitting to it, as they were forbidden to do so by a decree of a General Council.
It is to be remarked that, to say nothing more, it was clearly as much an illegal act of taxation, and a violation of private right, as anything complained of, for instance, under Charles I., yet writers and speakers both in France and England, who profess to be advocates of liberty as well as justice, have taken the side of the King, only because the Pope was against him. M. Gerin shows that even in our own day, 1861, M. Jules Favre declared, unchecked, in the Legislative Assembly, that the contest on the Pope's side was for money_ This is simply false. The Pope claimed nothing. He had nothing to gain. He was maintaining merely the unquestionable rights not of the Holy See, but of the French bishops.
Not content with extending the Regale to every diocese in France, Lewis applied it to sees which had been long filled up, requiring their holders (some of whom had been in possession for thirty years and more) to close the Regale' by a formal act, by which they would of course admit that their successors were liable to it. So general was the fear of the royal tyranny that resistance was made only by two bishops out of those in a large number of provinces unquestionably free from it. These were Caulet, Bishop of Pamiers, and Pavillon, Bishop of Alet. Pavillon died a year later, so that Caulet was left alone. He had been bishop above thirty years ; but not having ' closed the Regale,' the King treated him as never having taken possession, and proceeded to fill up all vacancies which he had filled in that long period. The Archbishop of Toulouse, his metropolitan, was a creature of the Court, and took entirely against him. Caulet a man revered for his piety and the strictness of his life wrote to the King, and explained that it was impossible to apply the Regale to his see and chapter, be-cause, by an ancient custom confirmed by the Pope and by Lewis XIV. himself, the cathedral was served by canons regular, who practised strict poverty and community of goods, and the see had no property except tithes. The persons appointed to canonries under the Regale had submitted to no novitiate, and were in every way disqualified to hold the offices. The King made no answer ; and the whole property of the Bishop was seized by the Intendant of Montauban, a man afterwards conspicuous in the persecution of the Protestants, and a creature of Colbert's. So rigorously was the seizure executed, that the Bishop lived only upon alms. He wrote a second letter to Lewis, complaining that ' the bare necessaries of life, which are always left to the greatest criminals, had in his case been seized.'
Not content with depriving me of all, it has been made a crime in some persons to have assisted me in my necessity ; and a man in good position at Paris has been forced to hide himself, in order to avoid prison or exile, because it was reported to M. de Chateauneux that he had sent alms to the Bishop of Pamiers, who, as well as the greater part of his curés, was at the time in absolute want of every-thing.
This statement is confirmed by another contemporary manuscript, which shows that Lewis XIV. was, as usual, more just and more merciful than his advisers. The King had been pressed by some persons to send a man of quality to the Bastille for having sent an alms of 2,000 crowns to the Bishop of Pamiers. He checked them by this good amswer : ' It shall never be said that I have put any man into the Bastille for giving alms.'
The clergy of the diocese remained firm to their chief, and suffered with him (p. 46).
The Bishop protected his authority by canonical proceedings, but these were annulled by the metropolitan and the Parliament. He wrote again to the King and to the procureur-géneral. As the last resource, obtaining no redress in France, not one of the 13o bishops moving in his defence, he wrote to the Pope, Innocent XI., since declared Venerable. The Pope showed great caution and moderation. He wrote to the King, March 12, 1678, and received no answer. In the January following he sent a second brief, written as early as September, probably because he wished the King before receiving it to have private knowledge of its con-tents. Receiving no answer, he formally annulled the acts of the Archbishop of Toulouse. He then waited another year, after which he wrote a third time to the King.
Once more we entreat and conjure your Majesty that, remembering the words of our Lord addressed to the prelates of His Church, He that heareth you heareth Me,' you would rather hear me (me who have towards you the bowels of a father, and who give you true and salutary counsel), than those children of unbelief, whose views and affections are only of the earth, and who, by suggestions expedient in appearance, pernicious in fact, are shaking the foundations of your monarchy, which rests upon veneration for things holy, and on the defence of the rights and authority of the Church (p.50).
He ended by expressing his fear that the judgment of God would Iight upon the King, and added that he should not again have recourse to letters, but should use the power which God had placed in his hands, fearing, if he omitted to do so, to be guilty of a criminal neglect in the administration of his apostolic office.
Lewis XIV. was keenly moved by language which no man on earth, except the Pope, had ever had the courage to address to him. The Gallican legists wished to go to farther measures, but they were held back by the King ; and although resolved not to satisfy the desires of the Pope, he temporised (p. 51).
It was proposed to call a national council, but it was feared that if this were done some of the bishops would openly oppose the Regale ; for some were known to speak publicly against it, and others to have protested privately. If nothing was done, it was feared that the King might be excommunicated. Another proposal was to enter into a negotiation, which might be spun out till the Pope should die. The deputies of the clergy met every fifth year to vote subsidies to the King. The King caused them to make ` what is called in the jargon of our times' a manifestation against the Holy See, regretting the conduct of the Pope. Public opinion, however, was against them. Madame de Sévigné wrote to her daughter : ' Is it possible that you have not seen the Pope's letter ? I wish you could. You will see a strange Pope. Why, he speaks with authority. You would say that he is the father of Christians. He does not tremble, he does not flatter, he threatens. It would really seem that he implies some blame against the Archbishop of Paris. What a strange man ! I cannot get Pope Sixtus out of my head.' Madame de Grignan greatly amused her by comparing the French bishops to the wife in Molière, who 'liked to be beaten.' M. Grin says that he has found many con-temporary writings condemning the French bishops, not one in their favour.
While things were in this state, a new cause of quarrel arose. Lewis had appointed a secular superior to a house of Augustinian nuns at Charonne, near Paris, in open violation of the Concordat. The Archbishop, an unworthy creature of the King, took his side. The nuns appealed to the Pope ; Innocent quashed the Arch-bishop's proceedings, and ordered that a superior for three years should be elected out of the community. The King's council and the Parliament declared the Pope's proceedings null, and the legal authorities spoke with a tone of indignant virtue of the resistance they would always offer to the Court of Rome if it thus infringed their liberties.' On the very day on which this happened, the Bishop of Pamiers died. There was a formal schism. The canons in legal and ecclesiastical possession appointed vicars-general to administer the diocese sede vacante; the canons appointed under the Regale appointed another. The vicars-genera], legally appointed, were arrested and imprisoned. Another was elected in their place, who was condemned to death ; he escaped, and was executed in effigy. ' Religious men feared, not without reason,' says M. Gérin, ' that the chastisements of God would fall upon the state.' The executioner fled, and was brought back by force, saying that, though poor and miserable, he was a Catholic, that he was sure the late bishop was a saint, and had always retained his charity towards himself.
At Paris the defenders of 'liberty' took no notice of these things, but were proceeding against the Pope's briefs. At last it was resolved to try, not a national council, but what might look like it. It was from this state of things that the assemblies of the clergy in 1681 and 1682 originated. The first was called at the time the petite assembl'ee It consisted of the bishops who happened to be in Paris. An epigram of Racine said that it made one thing, and one only, quite clear, that we have fifty-two prelates who are not residing in their dioceses. These prelates had before them, no doubt, a task of some difficulty. As to the affair of Pamiers, for instance, it was one about which it was plainly unsafe to say much. They contented themselves with complaining of the form of the Pope's briefs as inconsistent with the `Gallican liberties.' Whether the proceedings of the Government were consistent with any liberties or any justice whatever they did not say. They seemed totally ignorant of all that had passed, except that certain briefs had arrived from Rome the form of which offended their sensitive feelings about liberty. In the same way as to the affair of the nuns of Charonne, nothing was said as to the rights of the case, only the form of the Pope's brief was complained of. The result was that the assembly petitioned the King to call 'a national council, or general assembly of the clergy,' to be composed of two deputies of the first order, and two of the second order, from each province ; the latter to have only a consultative voice, that is, in fact not a national council, but an assembly which it would be easy for the King to pack. The acts of this petite assemblée were printed by the King's orders, and dispersed over France and Italy.
M. Gerin shows that upon all the points in dispute all the names held in the highest authority as Gallicans, especially Bossuet and Fleury, expressed the strongest sense that right was on the side of the Pope and against the King.
On June 16, 1681, the King addressed letters requiring the archbishops of all the provinces subject to his Majesty to hold provincial assemblies, for the purpose of deputing two of the first and two of the second order as deputies to the General Assembly called at Paris for the 1st of October, 1681.
The elections took place; how—M. Gérin tells us at length in his third chapter. It were needless and weary to go as he does through the provinces one after another, and show that in each the choice of the representatives was really with the King, or rather with Colbert. The object of the choice was to find unworthy men, and no doubt it too generally succeeded. If I desired to make any man a revolutionist, I can hardly imagine anything so likely to effect that object as a careful study of this chapter and of the two which follow, in which the members of the Assembly are gone through one by one, and of that on the state of ecclesiastical property under Lewis XIV. But it would be a mistake, as well as wrong, to suppose that the state of things ex-posed in these chapters was a fair sample of the Church of France under Lewis XIV. In justice, it must be remembered that the King, all-powerful as he was, dared not call a national council of the French clergy. Whether if he had, he might have obtained a majority in it no one can now tell. But one thing is certain, that the opposition to his acts would have been so decided, and would have come from quarters so highly and so justly respected, that the moral victory would have been wholly against him. It was to avoid this that he had recourse to an assembly which he, as well as everyone else, well knew could not by possibility have any real authority. Councils (as M. Gérin points out) are either general, national, provincial, or diocesan. The Assembly of 1682 could have no pretension to be either diocesan, provincial, or general. Was it a national council? Such a council consists of all the bishops of a nation, and among Catholics its decrees have no authority until they are confirmed by the Pope. Curiously enough, it was the want of this last qualification which has obtained for the Assembly of 1682 whatever respect it has obtained. Protestants and disaffected Catholics have spoken of it with reverence, because it was assembled to oppose the Pope, and because its proceedings were declared by him null and void. Had it wanted this recommendation ; had it been gathered to condemn any heresy, Jansenism, for instance ; and had its decrees been approved by the Holy See, they would have protested, with great truth, that it was a mere packed assembly, and represented no one except the King.
Even as it actually was, the King by no means avoided opposition among the bishops. M. Grin publishes a very curious report addressed by M. Morant, Intendant of Aix, detailing his interview with Cardinal Grimaldi, Archbishop of Aix. The Cardinal was a man near eighty, and except on business of an indispensable nature, had never left his diocese since his appointment to it. The Intendant's report is, at least in one respect, honourable to the Government of Lewis XIV. It shows that its agents were not afraid to let the real state of things be known to their employers. M. Morant shows himself to have been by no means scrupulous about truth. But at least he did not fear to report to the minister the least pleasant things which the Cardinal said to him, ' the miseries which had always fallen upon kingdoms in which the ecclesiastical authority had been confused with the temporal 'that most of the present difficulties must be attributed to the maxims of the Parliament of Paris ' that the council called for October the first would not be legitimate, and could not be so without the authority of the Pope'—' that it would never be regarded as anything more than a conciliabulum, which the best bishops of France took good care not to attend ; and that the deputies to be chosen in the different provinces had been nominated by lettres de cachet.' This,' says the Intendant, ' he repeated several times in order to make out whether I had not received such a letter touching his own province.' The Cardinal also pointed out that the ' procuration. (the instructions which each province was to give to its representatives), required them beforehand to condemn the Holy See without hearing what had been done.' He particularly called attention to the ' evils which had ensued in a neighbouring country, without expressly naming England,' in which, the reader will remember, the Protestant king had thirty years before been brought to the scaffold by his Protestant subjects. The Intendant then gives his own answer at length ; after which he says the Cardinal ' returned to the fact that the deputies had been named beforehand, as a thing utterly odious, and which showed plainly that what was really wanted was the election of men of a complacent character. I did not think that the time had come for me to be open as to the orders I had received upon this subject ; for which I waited until the assembly of the province should meet.' . . . ' At last he did me the honour to read me his letter to the Chancellor, at the end of which, observing that the Chancellor had told the Cardinal that his Holiness had ex-pressed his wish that there should be an assembly of the clergy rather than a national council, I took advantage of this information (as to the truth of which I assured his Eminence that he must not doubt) to reply to what he said about the necessity of the Pope's authority for the calling of a national council.' Considering that both the Intendant, and the minister to whom he was writing, knew equally well that the statement was wholly without foundation, the gravity of this last sentence is amusing. When this report reached Colbert, he wrote, in the King's name, to ask the advice of the Archbishop of Paris under the circumstances. The Archbishop's answer is not preserved, but anyone acquainted with his abject character can imagine it. The result was, that on August 23 a letter in due form, beginning Mon cousin, and signed by the King himself, was despatched by a special courier to Cardinal Grimaldi, ordering him in very imperious terms to convene the Provincial Assembly for the election of deputies, who were to be empowered by a 'valid commission' to represent the province. But neither the King nor his minister at all reckoned on the Cardinal's submission, and therefore the same day orders were sent to each of his suffragans, the Bishops of Riez, Sisteron, Gap, Apt, and Frejus, commanding them to meet, with the senior among them as their president, and to act without their archbishop. The same day orders were sent to the Intendant, directing him to go to the Cardinal and assure him of his Majesty's intention to leave to the Provincial Assembly ` absolute liberty both as to the nomination of the deputies, and as to powers and instructions to be given to them.' In case the Cardinal Archbishop still refused to obey, the Intendant was to deliver the letters to the suffragans, and to command the Bishop of Riez, in his Majesty's naine, to hold the assembly, sending further instructions as to the bishop's conduct in the matter, which the Intendant was to give ' as from himself.' The instructions end, 'If Cardinal Grimaldi convokes the Assembly you must say nothing to him either as to the nomination of the deputies nor as to the draft of the instructions and powers to be given to them. You must communicate on these subjects with the bishops of the province, and engage them to do what you know to be his Majesty's intentions on the subject.'
The documents do not enable me fully to trace out all the steps which followed. At Carpentras, however, have been found the instructions given by the Provincial Assembly of Aix to their deputies. These direct them to adhere to the rule laid' down by the General Council of Lyons, forbidding the further extension of the Regale ; to protest that its extension to the Churches not hitherto subject to it would be ' contrary to law natural, divine, and canonical ;' to declare that the Regale, where it existed, was a spiritual right, conceded to the Crown by competent ecclesiastical authority, not a temporal right attached inseparably to the Crown ; to declare that the charge against the Pope in the matter of Charonne was unreasonable ; lastly, to defend the prerogatives of the Holy See in the matter of the excommunication issued against the Archbishop of Toulouse in case he should persist in interfering with the administration of the diocese of Pamiers.
But all these efforts were fruitless, In the name of the liberties of the Gallican Church the seal of slavery was once more placed upon the lips of the clergy. The Assembly of Aix was unable either to choose freely its own representatives or to give them its own instructions. On the refusal of Cardinal Grimaldi, the Intendant Morant took upon himself the management of the affair, in union with Valavoin, bishop of Riez, who had been pointed out for this office by Colbert in his despatch of August 23, and who caused himself to be named as representative of the first order, together with Luke Daquin, bishop of Frejus, and brother to the king's physician.
In all the provinces the king showed the same resolution to make himself master of the elections. The candidates excluded by him were either set aside by their colleagues, or set themselves aside in order not to engage in a contest both unequal and useless. The rigours exhibited in the diocese of Pamiers proved that the ministers had made up their minds not to shrink from any violence in putting down all opposition to the orders of Lewis XIV. (p. 15o).
The proofs given of this by M. Gerin in one diocese and province after another, fully establish his statement, but would fill a chapter by themselves. He observes that Bossuet himself bears testimony to the fact that he himself was really deputed not by the province of Paris, by which he was nominally elected, but by the Court ; nay, that long before the elections were held the ministers had settled that he was not only to be a member of the Assembly, but to preach the sermon at the opening. This appears from a letter written by him from the Court at Fontainebleau, before the Provincial Assembly met at Paris, in which he announces that both points were already settled.
So far, then, was the Assembly of 1682 from being a ' National Council,' that it in no sense represented anyone except Lewis and his ministers, by whom its members were selected and chosen. In the province of Rouen Colbert wrote to say that the Bishop of Lisieux was to be elected with the archbishop. Elected he was. But an accident made it impossible for him to attend at Paris, on which Colbert wrote to the Bishop of Avranches to say that in consequence of this accident ' His Majesty has made choice of you to supply the place of M. de Lisieux, who had been named ; and he has caused his intentions upon this subject to be signified to the Archbishop of Rouen. I doubt not that he will do all that is in his power, and that the choice his Majesty has made of you will be carried out: Accordingly the Bishop of Avranches sat in the Assembly. Whether any form of election beyond Lewis's nomination was thought necessary does not appear; M. Gérin supposes that it was not.
As to what was called the ` procuration,' i. e. the powers and instructions to be given by each Provincial Assembly to its representatives, to which, as we have seen, Cardinal Grimaldi so strongly objected (as it required the bishops elected to condemn the Pope's proceedings before hearing anything about them), this was so little left to the provincial bishops that it was drawn up beforehand by the king's creature, de Harlay, Archbishop of Paris, and orders were sent in a circular to all the Intendants throughout the kingdom, that it was to be adopted in each province ' without the least change.' It is given in full by M. Gérin. It required the deputies ` to take measures to set right the contraventions of the provisions of the Concordat, as to frivolous appeals, which had been committed by the Court of Rome in the matters of Charonne, Pamiers, Toulouse, and others.'
It had been settled by Lewis before the assembly was summoned, that this same de Harlay was to preside. Custom, how-ever, if not any actual rule, required that the senior archbishop present should be president. It was, therefore, determined that he should be the senior, and accordingly, although as a general rule the archbishop and one of his suffragans were chosen to re-present each province, yet in every case in which the archbishop was senior to the Archbishop of Paris he was excluded. In every instance what was thus determined beforehand was, either by force or influence, carried out.
It really seems impossible after this signal exposure, that anyone should claim any ecclesiastical authority for this assembly. With Catholics of course it could have had none, even if it had been a free national council, inasmuch as its proceedings were at once declared null and void by the Sovereign Pontiff. It is, however, important to show that it was absolutely without any moral weight, and this M. Gérin's work has far more than proved. Henceforth no reasonable man can believe that the decisions decreed by this assembly proved anything, except the tyranny of Lewis XIV. and the abject servility of too many of the French prelates in his reign. Still, as I have already said, I do not expect that this exposure will prevent its being appealed to by men whose only notion of liberty is the absolute power of the State in things sacred. M. Gérin shows that M. Dupin breaks out into an access of admiration about Lewis's instructions to the provincial councils. They were to choose ` men distinguished for piety, learning, and experience, and whose merit was most known throughout all the provinces.' ` Quelle belle loi eleetorerle!' exclaims M. Dupin. Gerin shows that the real meaning of this was that the Provincial Assemblies should select as the priests to represent them, not men known to the clergy of the province, but strangers chiefly in Paris and mere tools of the Court, and that this was actually done.
In fact, there remains but one thing which can give any weight to the assembly of 1682--the great name of Bossuet, who is always represented as its soul (in Carlyle's language, its king), and who actually drew up the declaration and afterwards wrote a formal defence of what had been done, which he continued to re-touch till his death, and which has since been published. But I am sure that any man who reads with tolerable fairness M. Gérin's seventh chapter, will feel that this event of his life, so far as it does anything at all, only diminishes the credit of Bossuet instead of increasing that of the Assembly. It is a necessity of human nature to long to be able to make a hero of a man we admire ; and I quite understand many persons wishing to be able to believe that Bossuet was altogether a hero. But it is impossible to think so. Those who knew him best felt that his meat qualities were tainted by a sad want of firmness and independence. In 1663, the keen-sighted spies of Colbert, while they mentioned him as taking warmly the ultramontane side in the discussions of the ' Faculty,' saw the weakness of his purpose, which they thought might yet make him a useful tool to the minister. One writes,
M. Bossuet is beyond all question a man of high talent, learned for his years, as much so as a young man who devotes himself to preaching could be, but what has made him go wrong on this occasion is perhaps chiefly his consideration for M. Comet (whose creature he is), and his example.
M. Bossuet is adroit, complacent, bent upon pleasing all with whom he is, and adopting their sentiments when he knows them. He has no mind to get himself into trouble [ne veux point se faire des affaires] ; nor to risk the success of his own projects which he thinks sure to succeed. He thinks it impossible that this [i.e. the quarrel between the king and the Pope] can last. Thus he steers with extraordinary caution, and in the Faculty looks out for some middle course, some shift, when he is not on the other side, and hence he has many followers. Besides, he speaks Latin elegantly and agreeably, and has, in fact, a considerable knowledge of these subjects, because he studied before he devoted himself to preaching, and hence he has weight in the Faculty. Attached to the Jesuits and to those who have the means of making his fortune, more from interest than from inclination, for by nature he is free, keen, satirical, and looks upon many matters quite as a superior [se mettant fort au-dessus de beaucoup de choses]. Hence, whenever he shall see a line which leads to fortune, he will throw himself into it, be it what it may, and will be able to make himself useful to it. He manages peaceably the Dean of S. Thomas, and is followed very willingly by Le Plessis-Gesté and by Thomassin.
These life-like sketches have been till now quite unknown.
M. Gérin quotes from a manuscript in the Imperial Library some lines of Arnauld's, which he supposes to have referred to Bossuet, in which he quotes the saying of S. Augustine about the hireling shepherd, who flies when the flock is in danger from the wolf, fugisti quia tacuisti. ' The prelates were assembled, and none of them opened his mouth to undeceive the king' as to the severities which were going on at Pamiers. In another letter Arnauld says;
The king would have done himself more honour if he had named M. Bossuet to the cardinalate. And yet there is a verumtamen, as to which I fear he will have to give much account to God, and that is, that he had not the courage to represent anything to the king. This is the temper of the times, even in those who in other respects have very great qualities abundance of Iight but little nobleness. Of the same bishop M. de Treville said, ' he had no bone.'
Before, therefore, the great naine of Bossuet can really he urged in favour of the Assembly of 1682 and its proceedings, we must at least ask whether or not he took it as an opportunity of expressing what he really felt, or whether he was reluctantly following the wishes of the Court And this point he answers for himself. Ledieu records that he asked Bossuet who had inspired him with the plan of the propositions of the clergy upon the power of the Church. He replied that M. Colbert, then Minister and Secretary of State, was the real author of them, and the only person who determined the king in the matter. M. Colbert maintained that the quarrel with Rome about the Regale was the best opportunity for renewing the doctrine of France on the use of the power of the Popes. He brought the king over to his opinion against the advice of M. de Tellier, also Minister and Secretary of State Besides, M. de Paris (Harlay de Champvallon), did nothing else in the matter than flatter the Court, catch up the words of the Ministers, and blindly follow their will like a valet (P385).
This is by no means the language of a man who felt that the Assembly had given him an opportunity of bearing testimony to a truth for which he cared. It appears, indeed, that he was so far from feeling this, that he himself persuaded De Tellier and his son (Archbishop of Rheims) from doing what was afterwards done, and told them ' you will have the glory of having brought to a conclusion the affair of the Regale, but that glory will be dimmed by these odious propositions.' ' Even when the king, pressed by Colbert, La Chaise, and Harlay, had given his express orders, Bossuet still proposed that an investigation of the tradition on the subject should be made, which was nothing more than a pretext for an endless discussion '—in fact, much like what leads, among ourselves, to the appointment of a ' committee' of inquiry, on many subjects upon which honourable members do not wish to come to a vote.
Those contemporaries who disliked what was done did not impute it to Bossuet. Fénelon ' wrote in his celebrated letter to Lewis XIV.: "Your Archbishop and your Confessor involved you in the difficulties of the affair of the Regale, and in the troubles with Rome " ' (p. 287).
The whole of M. Gérin's chapter on ' Bossuet and the Assembly of 1682 ' is well worth study. He clearly shows that whenever Bossuet ventured to express his real feelings and opinions, he spoke against the side of which he is generally supposed to have been the
The Gallican Assembly of i 6S2. 167 soul. He afterwards made an apology himself that Protestant kings might be more willing to become Catholics if they saw the power of the Pope limited. But M. Gérin shows that the Protestant Leibnitz took the side of the Pope, and that the strong Gallicans, so far from attracting Protestants, put difficulties in the way of reunion.
The flattery of Lewis XIV., by the Assembly, was, I presume, too gross for Bossuet's taste, but it passed without protest from him :
The deputies of the clergy re-echoed what the contemporary legists were writing ; ' in France it has always been held that kings are not purely laymen, but in a sort of mixed condition.' From the first day to the last they vied with each other to paraphrase the language of the ' Promoteur' Chéron, in the sitting of November 24, who having said that Lewis XI V. surpassed David in sweetness, Solomon in wisdom, Alexander in valour, in power all the Caesars and all the kings of the earth, applied to him this Byzantine text :—' In the army more than king, in the field more than soldier, in the kingdom more than emperor, in civil justice more than praetor, in consistory more than judge, in the Church more than bishop' ( from the proces ' verbal of the Assembly). The Pope in his brief of April 11 reproves this base flattery, and asks, ' Which of you came into the arena to stand as a bulwark for the House of Israel ? Who dared to expose himself to ill-will? Who uttered so much as one voice in memory of the ancient liberty ?'
It is sad to write that Bossuet, who, when speaking freely condemned the Archbishop of Paris as making himself' the valet' of the ministers, was the man who moved that he should be President of the Assembly. This was the same upon whose death Madame de Coulanges wrote to Madame de Sévigné that there were ,only two difficulties in the way of the person who was to be selected to preach his funeral oration, one was his life,' the other 'his death.'
It is at least pleasing to sec that Bossuet was aware of this great infirmity, and asked the superior of a convent to pray for him, `that I may not have complacence for the world' (p. 305).
We must not infer that the ` declaration' expressed Bossuet's real feelings because it was by him that it was drawn up. It is proved that he took this upon himself only to prevent its sense being expressed with much greater violence by men who knew much less than he what they were doing_ It is recorded by Fleury that the Bishop of Tournai had drawn it up ' very ill.'
His propositions maintained that the Holy See as well as the Pope could fall into heresy, and thus overthrew the indefectibility of the Holy See. M. Bousset, shocked at this doctrine, strongly opposed it. The Bishop of Tournai warmly defended it The dispute lasted long. It finished by M. de Tournai refusing to draw up the articles, and on his refusal M. Bossuet was charged with it. This anecdote is attested and given in detail by M. de Fénelon, in a Latin treatise upon the infallibility of the Pope, still in manuscript. He received it from the mouth of M. Bossuet (p. 293).
Bossuet, long afterwards, declared that he undertook the office only to serve Rome by ' preventing things from being pushed to a dangerous extreme.'
There is no doubt that this really was his object, and that he managed it with great skill. His conduct was that of a man who was bent upon satisfying an imperious monarch; and exercising all his ingenuity to do so at the least possible sacrifice of principle. And this intention is evident on the face of the 'declaration.' The articles are full of ambiguities. They were evidently intended to look violent enough to satisfy the Court and yet to be capable of an innocent interpretation. But Bossuet ought to have remembered that his words were sure to be interpreted, not merely by theologians in the schools, but by kings, and the ministers of kings intent upon depriving the Church of her most necessary liberties, and anxious to oppress her under the specious cloak of his authority. The disgrace of having his great name perpetually invoked by Napoleon I., when perpetrating his worst outrages (outrages which Bossuet would have rejected with indignation) was but too just a retribution.
The Gallican Assembly of 1682. 169 M. Gérin sums up his character Happily Bossuet united to this infirmity of character, besides the genius which shines forth in his ' Funeral Orations,' in his ' Discourse on Universal History,' in the 'Variations,' a gift more admirable and more precious still the deep piety which breathes in his ' Sermons,' in 'Letters to La Soeur Cornuau,' and in the ' Meditations upon the Gospel.' But whatever homage is his due, an upright judge will ever repeat with Arnauld, ' There is nevertheless a VERUMTAMEN, for which I fear that he had to render a great account to God' (p. 331).
It is the fashion to say that the ' declaration ' was unopposed in France. There would have been small cause for wonder if it had. It was voted by the Assembly, March 19th, 1682, and on March 20th a decree was issued by the king, commanding that the four articles of the declaration should be registered by every university of his kingdom, and taught by all their Professors. No man could have been surprised if such a decree from such a master had been immediately and universally obeyed. The fact, however, was far otherwise. A general opposition arose, and was only put down by sheer force. Upon this subject I would refer my readers to the very interesting chapter in M. Gérin's book entitled ' Opposition to the Four Articles.' It was most energetic immediately under the eye of the king and his ministers in Paris itself and in the Sorbonne. M. Gerin quotes Le Gendre, ' an unsuspected witness,' to prove that the opposition was almost general, and that de Harlay was specially attacked as the supposed author of the declaration. He adds, ' the common and convenient assertion that it was generally received will have to be given up, and it must be admitted that the doctors opposed to the Gallican maxims were the most pious, the most learned, and the most numerous.' The Gallican Fleury says they included almost all the regular clergy, not only the religious orders but also the communities of priests, although without privileges and subject to the bishops. They leant to that side as most favourable to piety.
The Regulars, almost the only persons who preserve the tradition of the practices of devotion, have united their opinion to this, and have promoted it by their writings, their conversation, and in the direction of consciences. The ancient [i.e. the Gallican] doctrine has remained among the doctors often less pious and less exemplary in their lives than those who teach the other. Sometimes those who have resisted the novelties (i.e., the doctrine opposed to Gallicanism) have been lawyers and politicians, profane and libertine, by whom the truths they teach have been exaggerated and made odious (p. 340).
This is confirmed by the secret reports sent to Colbert. His agents gave him lists of theologians for Rome and against Rome. These lists were drawn up by declared Gallicans, and therefore the praises they give to the characters of those whom they class as 'for Rome ' are the less to be suspected. M. Gerin goes in detail through the different colleges of theology. I have not space to follow him at length. But he much more than makes good his assertion. The Sorbonne had 169 doctors, of whom, 'all but six or seven' were opposed to the declaration ; at the college of Navarre all but one ; at St. Sulpice and the Missions Etrangères 'all but four or five;' among the orders all. As to learning and piety, he shows that the superiority of those opposed to the declaration was strongly and unanimously testified by Colbert's reports.
On the 1st of May, 1682, a deputation of the Parliament was sent to the Sorbonne where the ' Faculty' had its meetings, to require the registration of the ' declaration.' So much opposition did this meet that it was not registered until after a long struggle. The feeling in the ' Faculty' was so strong that the Procureur-General de Harlay reported to Colbert, June 15th, that the debate in the Faculty was adjourned till the next day, and that he judged it necessary to prevent the conclusion of this deliberation ' by whatever means the king judged would be least mischievous,' concluding by saying that he himself ' was neither wise enough nor indiscreet enough to propose any means to be adopted, but awaited the king's commands.' So great was the alarm produced at Court by this report, that the king sent the Marquis de ' Seignelay (Colbert's son) to Paris the same night, to arrange with the archbishop and the heads of the Parliament a comp d'ctat on a small scale, to be put in execution the next day.' So early was the Parliament acting, that at six o'clock the next morning, June z6, an usher arrived from it, signifying to the dean of the faculty a decree already passed by the Parliament the same morning, which declared that as the doctors had presumed to debate upon the articles instead of registering the decree, their further meetings were absolutely forbidden, and the dean and six professors of the Sorbonne, the grand master, and four professors of the college of Navarre, and all others who should be indicated by the Procureur-Géneral, were required to attend at the bar of the Parliament at seven the same morning (p. 357).
The declaration was then registered by force, the books having been sent for to the Parliament, and all future meetings of the Faculty were forbidden. Eight doctors of theology were immediately sent into exile, by ' lettres de cachet.'
But violence of this kind was very reluctantly adopted by the Court because it was plain that, if reported, it would make known to all the world, and especially at Rome, that the ' declaration' had been imposed upon the French clergy only by force.
It was just at this moment that the king suddenly dissolved the Assembly in a manner which his creatures in it felt to be cruelly contemptuous. The Archbishop of Paris went so far as to remonstrate with Colbert, requesting that the letter dissolving it might be couched in more respectful language, and he received a very curt reply from the minister. The professed reason for this sudden step which M. Grin finds in the memoirs of de Cosnac (a member of the Assembly) was, that it was necessary that the bishops should return to their dioceses; the real reason, that matters were arranging themselves at Rome, and as the Assembly had been from the beginning merely a weapon in the hands of the king to attack the Pope, it was contemptuously thrown away when no longer needed. The opposition of the clergy of Paris to the declaration no doubt made the king more anxious to have done with it. It was on June 2 t that the decree of exile was signed against the eight doctors, and on June 29 the Assembly was suddenly dismissed. The king even refused to allow its proceedings to be entered on the archives of the clergy ; nor were they entered until long afterwards, in 1710. The king and his ministers no doubt heartily despised the men who had degraded themselves to gain their favour. A month before, June 2, Colbert had written that the greater part of the Assembly would willingly have changed their doctrine the next day if they had been allowed to do so (P.355).
The Procureur-Général laboured to make use of this incident to get the Faculty of Theology more absolutely into the hands of the king. Its meetings were now suspended and could not be restored without royal permission. In order to save appearances it was resolved to get up among the doctors a petition to be allowed to hold their meetings. ' If the petition had promised adhesion, obedience, submission to the four articles, it would have obtained no signatures. It spoke only of reverence for the king's edict and for the declaration of the clergy.' M. Gerin details some curious instances of the intrigues used to obtain signatures. At last it only obtained those of 150 out of 750 doctors. The Procureur-Général de Harlay urged Colbert to use much greater severity, to deprive a very large number of their seats in the Faculty, to remove all the old professors of theology, and that instead of allowing their successors to be elected by the Faculty they should be nominated by the king, and to limit hence-forth the number of the Faculty to too. Especially he desired to punish the Sorbonne, for which he proposes several measures. M. Gerin gives many interesting particulars on this subject, upon which I must not enter.
Meanwhile, it is pretty certain that the opposition of the other universities less immediately under the eye of the Government was even more energetic than it was at Paris. With regard to the University of Douai, which had been newly annexed to France, M. Gerin has found evidences of this fact. It addresses Lewis himself, expresses the strong and unanimous dislike of his new subjects in Flanders to the doctrine of the declaration, and declares 'the great majority of us are ready to abandon our colleges and to renounce all promotion and dignity rather than submit to opinions repugnant to our consciences.'
Nor was this a temporary opposition. M. Gérin shows that it continued and was general among the French clergy down to the time of the Revolution. As late as 1760, the Abbe Chauvelin spoke of those who were attached to what he called true [i.e. Gallican] maxims as ' some bishops and some doctors,' and the ultramontanes as 'the great multitude,' and declared it necessary to have recourse to authority to compel the Faculty of Theology to obedience.
In fact, after the publication of M. Gérin's invaluable labours, I do not see how any man can in future speak of the French Church in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries as having been Gallican in opinion.
And yet it cannot be denied that there was at least one part thoroughly rotten in that great body. The Assembly of 1682 was only too miserable a proof of it. The king was able to collect by his mere will a meeting of two and thirty bishops, the majority of whom, there is reason to fear, were ready to vote whatever he pleased. In this is most strongly marked the contrast with the existing French Church. ' Out of the ashes of the ancient Church of France has sprung a new hierarchy, worthy of the name and the history of that great nation, as fervent as their S. Bernard, as tender as their S. Francis, as enterprising as their S Lewis, as loyal to the Holy See as their Charlemagne.
when we look at the abuses which the French kings had introduced and established as to the disposal of church property, the real wonder is not that a portion of the French Church was corrupt, but that it had any part sound. Count Montalembert has expressed in language not more eloquent than true, the horrors of this system : ' The most ancient abbeys, the most illustrious in the history of the Church and of our country, were made the appanage of the bastards of kings or of their still more unworthy favourites, sometimes the price of the foul favours of a royal favourite.' Yet bad as this is, the real state of the case as laid bare by M. Grin as worse still. For the corruption would have been much less fatal had it been confined to the circle immediately surrounding the monarch. In fact, the revenues of the Church were systematically employed as a means of bribing the whole of the upper classes. This was effected first by granting abbeys, both of men and women, in commendam, to persons who were not only not religious, but in very many cases were in no sense ecclesiastics, and had often not the least intention of ever being so. Henry IV. carried the matter even farther. Not content with the abbeys, he heaped bishoprics upon his lay favourites. Crillon, for instance, held the temporalities of two archbishoprics, three bishoprics, and an abbey. But I am not sure that the plan followed by Lewis XIV. was not even more mischievous. For he systematically granted large pensions, payable out of the revenues, both of bishoprics and abbeys. For instance, the Bishop of Mende wrote to Colbert, in 1668, that he had to pay one pension of 2,300 livres, three others of 1,500 each, two of 1,200, two of 1000; altogether, 11,200 livres. His object was not to obtain relief from these payments, but to petition the king to give him some additional preferment, to enable him to meet them. Thus a bishop was never really independent in his circumstances. His proper revenues were charged with enormous payments, and he was continually a suitor to the minister, either for abbeys in commendam, or for similar pensions payable out of some abbey or see held by some one else. No means could have been devised so sure to combine all the evils of an endowed and a disendowed Church, of wealth and of poverty. For the property of the Church being known to be great, the people felt, of course, no obligation to sup-port their pastors, and yet these in their turn could only obtain an income by perpetual petitions to the minister. I have no room to copy instances of this ; the chapter to which I have referred is full of them, all in minute detail.
No wonder that courtiers, accustomed to consider rich abbeys and bishoprics merely as funds to be given by the king to whom he would, lost all sense of anything sacred in the property of the Church. There were not wanting men logical enough to draw the legitimate conclusion from the recognised practice, and M. Grin shows that several writers, who might fairly be taken as representatives of the Court, avowed the principle that the property of the Church belonged to the king, and that he might do with it whatever he pleased. This was the principle which Burke denounced with equal eloquence and logic.' But he was certainly mistaken in supposing that, in France at least, it was first introduced by the Revolution. The author says :---
It is a commonplace of our day to deplore, in the interests of royalty itself; that Lewis XIV. gave way so miserably to the spirit of his age by degrading all orders of the state under the feet of royalty.
It can hardly be necessary to explain that Catholics, in supporting Mr. Gladstone's measure on the Irish Establishment, did not for a moment accept these principles. That body was merely a creation of the State, and the property it held had been taken by the State from its rightful owners, and given by it to its own creatures. The right of the Establishment could never rise higher than its source. That Mr. Gladstone and his Ministry felt that their measure was really defensible only on this ground is plain by the fact that they respected all private endowments. Had the same reserve been observed in France the whole property of the Church would have been secure.
How comes it that our historians, so sensitive about the humiliation of the nobles, the parliaments, the communes, the provincial assemblies, .are so little attentive to relate or blame, nay, so much disposed to praise, the incessant encroachments of the crown upon the power of the Church ? Jansenistic and revolutionary prejudices, and the unpopularity with which they have surrounded the Church, are the only explanation of this injustice, against which, thank God, eloquent voices have before now protested.
The crown desired to make the Church a slave like everything else. The French clergy did not resist with sufficient courage. It belonged to the Holy See alone to recall them to their duties, and to defend their rights
According to the theories of the French legists the Church obtained the right of holding property only by the concession of the sovereign, who had the power to withdraw it, and the maxims applied to the property of the clergy by the Constituent Assembly, the Convention, and Napoleon, were known, accepted, and favoured by the counsellors of Lewis XIV.
In 1650 Antoine Estienne, first printer and bookseller in ordinary to the king, published, with privilege, at Paris, under the pseudonym of Francis Paumier, a Remonstrance to His Majesty as to his authority over the temporalities of the Church. He said :--' The kings of France have a supreme right over the temporalities of all the Churches in the realm, with full power to use them in the necessities of the State for the benefit of their subjects, as their Council may advise One of the principal reasons why the dispensation and permission to acquire property, contrary to the ancient statutes of the kingdom, has been given to the clergy by the piety of our kings, is that they and their successors may have a resource always at hand, ready and powerful at all times, in any measure that the public necessities may suggest.'
At the very period of which I am treating, a very able legist of whom Colbert had made use to attack the prerogatives of the Church, the maitre des reguétes, De Fayer de Boutigny, composed his famous treatise on ' The Authority of Kings in the Administration of the Church,' in which be attributes to the king of France a supremacy over the Church both temporal and even spiritual, which made both Popes and Councils superfluous. The absolute sovereignty of the monarch as political magistrate extends over everything which is done, and over everything which exists in his kingdom, over things as well as persons ecclesiastical ; and if it be objected that the objects of the Faith, dogmas and sacraments, are not subject to him, Le Vayer boldly replies that he has both the right and the duty of taking cognisance of them in his character of Most Christian King and Protector of the Canons.
This celebrated theory, which sums up in a learned and well-connected form all the pretensions of lay Gallicanism, does not sensibly differ from the Anglican doctrine the religious supremacy of Henry VIlI. or Queen Victoria. It may well be supposed that in taking such liberties with the spiritual, the legists, Colbert's hirelings, did not spare the temporal domain of the Church (p. 8o).
He shows by several quotations that they claimed for the king the most absolute power to take whatever Church property he pleased, when, as, and for what purposes he pleased.
The author remarks that Innocent XL not only felt it his duty to defend the temporal possessions of the Church, but that living when he did, between the so-called Reformation and the French Revolution, history gave him no example of a revolution seizing the temporalities of the Church which did not also set up a new religion, so that he felt that he was defending the teaching of the Church as well as its possessions.
As to Lewis himself, great as were his offences, I cannot but wonder that they were not more heinous when I calmly consider that he came to the throne at four years of age, and was trained to believe that kings might do whatever they pleased, that as to morals especially, the sixth commandment did not apply to them, and also, that while the lives and properties of all their subjects were absolutely at their disposal, the Church, and all it had, be-longed to them by a special and peculiar right Contemporaries said most truly that the Gallican view was to substitute the infallibility of the king of France for the infallibility of the Pope (p. 469). Feydeau, a doctor of the Sorbonne, has left among his private papers a memorandum dated January 27, 1688 :--' I find that the infallibility of the Court is not to be traced to Mazarin, who was willing enough to change, but to Colbert, who suggested it to the king.' It is greatly to the honour of Lewis XIV. that instead of requiring to be restrained by his advisers, he was, as M. Grin and indeed all other historians) has often occasion to point out, always less unjust, less tyrannical, less rapacious than they wished him to be. I cannot help bearing this in mind in reading the history of his later years, of the reformation of his moral life, and especially of the succession of severe sorrows and humiliations, both in his kingdom and in his family, with which it pleased Him who chastises all whom Ile loves, to visit him in his declining years.
It is the signal punishment of kings who pollute the sanctuary of God, by lavishing upon worthless minions the property and the sacred offices of the Church, that their own minds are of necessity degraded and corrupted by finding themselves always surrounded by men of the one class most hateful and contemptible in the sight not of man alone, but of God—servile, cringing, flattering, covetous, profligate ecclesiastics, Surely out of hell itself no man could possibly be surrounded by creatures more vile. Lewis was fir too able and keen-sighted not to esteem his flatterers as they deserved. It is terrible to think of the contempt with which they must have been regarded by a politician such as Colbert, before whom they were never weary of ostentatiously exposing the foulest deformities of their base characters. Hideous, indeed, are the records of this sort which M. Grin as found preserved among the minister's papers for instance the letters written by Bourlemont, Bishop of Castres, to Bonzy, Bishop of Beziers, and to Colbert himself, on the occasion of the quarrel of Lewis against Alexander VII. about the Corsicans,--letters which, as M. Gérin says, lay open to us the heart of a Gallican Bishop under Lewis XIV. In reading these letters one's first feeling is, that nothing could add to the baseness they make a parade of. Yet, surely, it does add something even to it, to find that one of them, addressed by one bishop to his friend another bishop, must have been sent by him to Colbert. He no doubt felt that he was doing his friend good service. Colbert evidently felt that the French Church was useful only because its property enabled the king to make slaves of all the nobility of his kingdom, and because it provided magnificent appanages for all his own kindred sons, brothers, nephews, cousins. He would probably have felt it an act of virtuous and patriotic disinterestedness to have swept away it and its possessions at a stroke.
What Alexander VIII. felt of these men, he expressed to Cardinal de Botullon.
What the king wished was the only thing that signified ; what the bishops who were nominated might do, made no difference. Be knew the system of France, and the extent to which the authority of the king had been carried, well enough to be sure that the bishops would has e no other sentiments and no other religion than those of the king ; that if the king wished the bishops of France to make a schism with the Holy See they would hardly hesitate to obey him ; that if, on the contrary, the king's intention were that they should declare the Pope infallible in right and in fact, the same bishops would make whatever declaration was required of them on that subject That was his opinion of the Church of France (p. 434).
Lewis himself said of his bishops, no thanks to these gentle-men that I have not assumed the turban. I have only three bishops in my dominions (page 26o). These were exactly those who had refused to fall in with his plans Cardinal Grimaldi, Archbishop of Aix ; Lavardin, Bishop of Rennes ; and the Bishop of Grenoble. Fénelon was not yet a bishop. When the Abbé de Polignac had been sent to him by Alexander VIII., and had had a long conversation with him, he said, ' I have been talking with a man, and that a young man, who has always contradicted me without my ever being able to be angry with him for a single moment.
No doubt it is most likely that, if Lewis had thought fit to have made himself Head of the Church in France, he would have encountered no serious opposition from such men as de Harlay or Bourlemont. Yet I can hardly doubt that, even among the least promising of his ecclesiastics, some would have been found, who would have stopped short when they saw before them the abyss into which they were required to plunge. There were some among that noble army of martyrs and confessors who threw new glory upon the Church of France a century later, from whom little would have been expected beforehand. One, at least, of the Court Prelates of the Assembly of 1682, and at that time one of the least respected of them all, Chavigny, Bishop of Troyes, six teen years later resigned his bishopric to retire into a life of strict penance and solitude. One of our own most glorious martyrs under Henry VIII. had in earlier life expressed himself in a manner, to say the least, very unsatisfactory upon the supremacy of the Holy See, in defence of which he gained his crown. I by no means believe that Lewis XIV., despotic as he was, could have renewed the work of Henry VIII. and Elizabeth, and have made France a Protestant nation. They were assisted by a combination of circumstances which had gone by before his time, and which, in the nature of things, can never return. Protestantism, in their day, was just rushing out from the open gate of hell (like the winds from the cavern of AEolus) a living energetic power of Satan. Such is the nature of all heresies. But not less is it their nature very soon to sink into indifference and languor, and from thence to utter death. Protestantism, which is now dead, and only dangerous by the pestilence engendered by its corrupting corpse, was already sick to death at the end of the seventeenth century. Lewis might have done much mischief, but it would have required power far greater than his, greater than all the power of earth and hell, to put new life into that dying heresy.
Neither are we to think that the wretched flatterers of Lewis X IV. were really what they called themselves, the Church of France. M. Gérin says, after going through the members of the Assembly one by one
Is there one among these priests and bishops whose name can be mentioned as that of a man who lived and saved souls like S. Francis of Sales, S. Charles Borromeo, S. Vincent of Paul, Berolle, Olier, Csar de Bus ? Is there one whose name has been attached to any great Christian institution to any important reform of discipline and manners ? Which of them exercised a salutary influence on his contemporaries ? Which of them whose memory is still blessed by generations who, kneeling before the altars, call him their spiritual father? (p. 259).
And then he mentions several men living at the time whose names are not to be found on the list. Lavardin, Bishop of Rennes, to whom Lewis gave the testimony I have just quoted. The Abbé Aligre, and the great preachers and theologians of that age, Mascaron, Fléchier, Bourdaloue, Fénelon, Huet, Mabillon, Thoinassin, Rancé, Tronson, Brisacier, Tiberge, La. Salle, La Chetardie, and many more. There is but one man whose name I regret to see among the list of such a council, if it were to be held that one is Bossuet.
I have left myself no room to dwell upon M. Gérin's two last chapters. The ninth details the contest between the king and the Pope. It is better known than other parts of this history, because its nature has attracted the attention of secular historians. But upon this he has thrown much new light. Innocent XI. refused to accept any man who had taken part in the Assembly of 1682, when offered for a bishopric. Lewis nominated two. Their Bulls were refused, and the king forbade any other of his nominees to receive his Bulls as long as theirs were refused. This went on for years, until there were more than thirty sees vacant in France. The king and his flatterers threw the blame on the Pope. The Pope published his declaration that he was ready to grant Bulls to any nominee of the king who had not been a member of the Assembly, or who, having been so, would make a fitting retractation. The dispute was further embittered by the question of the ' franchises,' which 1 have already mentioned. Innocent declared that he would receive no ambassador who did not engage to give up the claim which was destructive of the peace and moral order of Rome.. Every other European king agreed to resign so odious a privilege. Lewis alone refused. The Pope sent an embassy to entreat him. The Nuncio mentioned that the Emperor and all other monarchs in Europe had acceded to the desire of the Pope, but Lewis haughtily replied that God had placed him in a position to set the example to others, and to follow that of no man. He refused to surrender the franchises. Innocent declared that he would receive no ambassador by whom they were claimed. Lewis resolved to send an ambassador to Rome, in spite of the Pope's refusal, and to support him by an overwhelming military force. He selected expressly for the purpose the most haughty and overbearing man he could find, who entered Rome by force, attended with a military array. Upon this Innocent excommunicated him. The ambassador, in despite of the excommunication, went to the midnight mass at the Church of S. Lewis of France, and the Pope placed the Church under an interdict. There were not wanting men among the advisers of Lewis who urged him to make a direct schism by directing his nominations to bishoprics to the archbishop of the province, and those to archbishoprics to the provincial bishops. Ent unscrupulous as he was, Lewis refused to be guilty of a crime which would have placed him by the side of Henry VIII. To any length short of that he was prepared to go. He seized Avignon, and arrested a bishop living peaceably in the Pope's dominions, and by an act worthy of Napoleon himself, committed him to prison at Ré, giving instructions that he should be made uncomfortable on his journey, and should be told that he was to be transported to Canada—which in those days was not unlike being banished to another planet. He even instructed his ministers to appeal in his name to a future general council. This appeal was made in the presence of the Archbishop of Paris and of the Père La Chaise.
But he would not quite take the step which would have con-summated the schism. The Pope was firm, and at last the king gave way. When Innocent XI. died he sent an ambassador to the new Pope, Alexander VIII., authorising him to give up the claim to the ' franchise.' At last he allowed the men nominated to bishoprics to sue for their Bulls, and those who had been members of the Assembly made their recantation in the terms demanded by the Pope. Lewis XIV. himself wrote a letter to the Pope promising that his edict enforcing the four articles should be without force or effect. It is characteristic that care was taken to conceal this submission, and it was never known in France for a century. M. Grin in fact gives many details about it never published until now.
I attach great importance to the publication of this work, and feel that M. Gerin has done the Church great service. Some men may be inclined to regard the question as merely historical. But in truth it is far more. It is important that the world should know that it is a mere error to suppose that Gallican principles ever were received by the Church of France ; that they were merely put forward by a handful of the flatterers of Lewis XIV., not less to the disgust of the true Church of France in their own days than in ours. And this M. Gérin has made so plain that nothing but ignorance or disingenuousness can in future deny it.