The Church And Napoleon I
( Originally Published 1874 )
THE three volumes before me are a reprint of the part which has already appeared of a series of articles in the ` Revue des deux Mondes.' We have still to expect the continuation, which will fill at least one, if not more additional volumes, and the three now published leave us (as is so often the case with the second volume of a novel) exactly in the most exciting crisis of the narrative. Stil], although I feel an eagerness for the remainder of the work, which could hardly be much greater if the conclusion of the struggle it relates were not already known to all the world, I am not disposed to wait for it before introducing my readers to the portion which has already appeared. The fact is, that a very large part of the details of the narrative are new, not only to English but even to French readers. I must confess that 1 was quite unprepared to suspect the existence of so many hitherto unpublished sources of information as the diligence of M. D'Haussonville has discovered. Looking at the volumes of M. Thiers, as multitudinous and massive as they are eloquent and lively, and still more at the one-and-twenty vast tomes of the Napoleon correspondence, published by order of the present emperor, which contain the portion of his uncle's letters written before 1811, I supposed that diligence, fairness, skill, and judgment in working quarries in these great mountains of facts, was all that could be required of him who should give, in a separate form, the history of Napoleon's dealings with the Church. Such, however, was not the case. M. Thiers, although, as a matter of course, he relates what may be called the public and external events, apparently does not understand, and certainly does not state or explain, the principles and motives which, on the side of the Pope, were the real causes of these events. The Napoleon correspondence, if it were complete, would of course give all that could be desired on the side of the emperor. Unfortunately, it is not complete. What other documents are omitted intentionally or not, I cannot say. That those which throw most light upon the conduct of Napoleon towards the Pope have been omitted, not because their importance was not appreciated, but expressly because they revealed facts which the authorities of the second Empire think it most prudent to conceal M. D'Haussonville proves to demonstration. It appears that the charge of publishing the invaluable documents preserved in the different official registers of Paris and elsewhere, was committed, by Napoleon III., to a commission, at the head of which was placed his cousin, Prince Jerome Napoleon. This commission were to publish the documents entire, and M. D'Haussonville bears testimony to the fidelity with which they performed their task. But, after fifteen volumes had appeared, the old commission was cancelled and a new one issued. What change was made in the members of the commission we are not told. Prince Napoleon was still President. But a more important change was made. In the Preface to the sixteenth volume of the correspondence they declare that, in future, it will be their object to publish only those documents which present such a picture of Napoleon as the commissioners believe that he himself would have wished to have presented to posterity, if he could have survived to see the publication. Perhaps no man ever lived who would have wished that such a disclosure of his conduct and motives should be wholly complete and fair. However that may be, it is most certain that Napoleon I. was not that man. All the world knew before, what certainly no reader of the volumes before me could fail to learn if he had not already known it, that at every period of his life, whether in war or peace, false-hood of the grossest and most outrageous character, was the instrument which he used most freely, naturally, and spontaneously. In war, we have been told, all stratagems are allowed. This military maxim, it seems, had so completely occupied the whole soul of Napoleon I. that he applied it not merely to military affairs, but to all in which he took any part. It is truly surprising that although his vast genius enabled him to perceive, by a happy instinct, almost every other propriety of the exalted rank to which he had raised himself, yet never at any period of his greatness, not even when he was, and loved to call himself, Emperor, not of France, but of the West ; when kings and queens, the representatives of the proudest dynasties, accounted themselves honoured by being allowed to follow him at the most deferential distance ; never, even then, did he consider it beneath his dignity to practise, in his own person, the most humiliating frauds, and solemnly to utter in his own person falsehoods which, if he wished them to be told, he might at least have left to some subordinate agent. The sovereign who had the absolute command of such a tool as Fouche was clearly under no necessity to take this portion at least of his dirty work into his own hands. Yet, immediately after the peace of Tilsit, when every European power, except England, was at his feet ; and when he had attained a greatness quite without example since the reign of Charlemagne, we find Napoleon condescending to write a letter to his adopted son, Eugene Beauharnais, his viceroy in Italy, in which he attempted, by the most violent threats, to shake the resolution of Pius VIL This letter to the viceroy he was to copy, and to enclose it in another addressed in his own name to the Pope. But Napoleon would not trust him to compose it. He wrote every word of the letter from Eugene to the Pope, with his own hand.
Eugene was only to copy and sign it. It began, 'I enclose to your Holiness an extract from a long letter which I have received from my most honoured father and Sovereign at Dresden. Your Holiness will permit me to say, that the disputes raised at Rome are calculated to provoke a great Monarch, who is deeply penetrated with religious sentiments, and who feels the immense services which he has rendered to religion in France, in Italy, in Germany, in Poland, and in Saxony. He is well aware that the world regards him as the column of the Christian faith, and the enemies of religion as a prince who has restored to the Catholic religion in Europe the supremacy she had lost.' After some more language of this sort was to come the Emperor's letter to the Prince, and then Eugene, once more in his own name, was to write; ' Holy Father, this letter was not intended to be sent to the eyes of your Holiness !' Napoleon ended the whole in his own name to his adopted son, ` You will send this letter to the Pope, and write to me at Paris.'
It is plain enough that Napoleon was the last man to scruple about giving a false impression of his conduct and motives, and that no rule could less conduce to historical truth than that of publishing only what he would wish to have been published had he still survived. But this applies specially to his correspondence with Pius VII. and his ministers. Upon this point I am not left to conjecture, for I find that 1 ' Napoleon thought fit to cause a great number of papers relating to his dealings with the Holy See to be burned; no doubt because he considered them injurious to his reputation. This was executed at Rome by General Miollis, at Paris by the chief of the archives of the late office of Secretary of State. But authentic copies of these curious documents have escaped destruction.' Of these copies large use is made in the volumes before me, and page after page there are letters painting most graphically the scenes going on at Rome, and in particular the orders and wishes of Napoleon himself But to almost every one of these extracts is a footnote : ' Not included in the Napoleon correspondence.'
Hence it is that to almost every one of the most curious events of which he gives us the details, M. D'Haussonville adds that it has been hitherto quite unknown in France. In many instances the facts most clearly proved by these documents are among those most exactly contrary to the positive statements of Napoleon in the reminiscences which he dictated to his companions in exile in St. Helena. As a striking example, I may mention his statement that ' at no time were more than fifty-three priests under restraint (retenus), in consequence of the dispute with Rome, and in their case the restraint was exceedingly slight.' Upon this assertion M. D'Haussonville says :
Following my constant custom, I undertake to make Napoleon refute himself, and that by his own letters, the authentic copies of which lie before me. True, they are not included in the official correspondence of Napoleon; but I am sure that the persons who have not thought it expedient to publish them (no doubt because they exhibit the Emperor in a different light from that in which he would have wished to be represented to posterity) will feel it even less expedient to contradict them. When the Emperor put clown this exact number of fifty-three priests, who were the only ecclesiastics
put under restraint' (retenus), in consequence of the dispute with Rome, he had no doubt forgotten (such things are easily forgotten) that, without counting any of those who may have been 'part under restraint,' in virtue of his general orders, he had, with his own hand, given orders to put under restraint, in Italy alone, a number infinitely greater. I suppose it was a similar failure of memory, less easily explained in that case, which induced the editors of the official correspondence to omit these orders, so numerous and so ruthless.
He then shows that in a single year Napoleon himself gave express orders by which, in the Roman States only, thirteen car. dinals. nineteen bishops, and ' a multitude of canons and grand vicars, the number of which it is difficult to ascertain,' were sent from Rome to France, and placed under restraint, under the surveillance of the imperial police in different provincial towns, and, moreover, above two hundred priests were transported to Corsica. (Napoleon by no means considered the island where he was born a paradise.) The number arbitrarily arrested in France itself, and thrown without trial into different prisons, no one can now estimate. Of this last practice also the author gives numerous examples from letters 'not published in the correspondence of Napoleon L'
I have said enough to show that M. DEaussonville is no indiscriminate admirer of all that was said and done by Napoleon L The fact that his work has appeared in the ' Revue des deux Mondes,' that its publication has not been interrupted, and that he is now allowed to republish it in a separate form, is the strongest illustration of the immense difference between the pre-sent system, which places the press of France under the control of law, (although of law which in England would be accounted most oppressive,) and that which subjected it to ` avertissements.' I am very sure that a very few years ago no journal would have dared to publish this work. That such a work should have obtained any degree of popularity in France illustrates another fact hardly less important how much the popularity of the name of Napoleon I. has been diminished (at least among the more educated classes) within the last few years. Under the restoration he came to be looked back upon only as the conqueror who had so often led the armies of France to victory.
All the suffering which in every country affects many classes after the close of a long war, and which was so severely felt in England in 1816, 1817, &c., was naturally laid to the score of the Bourbons. They were accused of having lowered France from the pinnacle of glory to which he had raised it. It was the name of Napoleon that carried the election of the present Emperor, first as President then as Emperor. As Frenchmen have become weary of a rule which they connect with that of Napoleon I., they have become more willing to examine how far his `glory' was a real benefit to France. I suspect this feeling has not to any very considerable degree spread among the peasantry ; that it has become general in the higher classes I am sure.
If France at all resembles England, it is quite possible that this reaction against the blind idolatry of Napoleon which formerly prevailed, may, at least for a time, go farther than reason warrants. For, assuredly, however we may feel the deep moral degradation of his character, his genius will ever be more and more highly appreciated as we more minutely study his life. M. D'Haussonville is far from underrating it. His whole narrative brings Napoleon before us in the strongest relief, as a man able with almost equal ease to grasp every subject to which it was his interest to turn his attention ; who detected with an unerring instinct the peculiar gifts and character of every man with whom he had any dealings, and saw with the eye of genius whom he could employ, and for what purpose ; and about whom it may be much doubted whether, in any one instance, he was mistaken. Until his head had been turned by a prosperity and glory such as, perhaps, no other man ever attained, he was, alike in every relation of war, politics, legislation, and diplomacy, as wary as he was daring. That he had to do with the weakest opponent never seems to have appeared to him a reason for neglecting any one precaution which could have been necessary against the strongest. When he had made up his mind to seize Rome, although the Pope was without any means of resistance, although he was himself distant from it by half a continent, and although he had brave, able, and trustworthy servants on the spot, he thought it necessary exactly to prescribe in writing all the most minute particulars of the combinations desirable for the purpose ; to arrange exactly the number of men to be despatched from the north of Italy, and the number from Naples, the days on which they were to arrive at the different points, and how they were to combine. With characteristic disregard of truth and honour, he detailed the falsehoods to be communicated at different parts of the proceeding to the Government of the Holy Father, and gave especial orders that, as soon as his troops had entered Rome, supposing the people to submit in quiet, the French Minister was to give a ball, to which the chief ladies of Rome and the French officers were to be invited ; and that meanwhile all measures were to be taken, by placing French soldiers in the post-office and every other public office, to accustom the Romans to see the administration of their city in the hands of the French. Should any resistance arise, it was at once and sternly to be put down by grape-shot. All this time he continued to assure the Pope's Government, first that his troops were merely passing through the States of the Church on their way to Naples, and were not to enter Rome ; and when they had entered it, that they had come merely to seize some brigands, who were devastating the Neapolitan States, and who found refuge under the Pope's Government. Those who have read the similar complaints against the administration of Pius IX. which have been so loudly made by the Roman correspondents of London newspapers for the last few years, will not be surprised to hear, that when Rome had been occupied on this pretence, not so much as one person there was even charged with being a brigand. The pretence had served its purpose, and was quietly laid aside. In short, it is impossible to read M. D'Haussonville's narrative without feeling that, for the purpose of silently occupying Rome, the great Emperor thought it worth while to lavish all his genius and all his treachery, as freely as when, nearly at the same time, he allured the royal family of Spain into his trap at Bourdeaux.
No doubt, the circumstances of the revolutionary era afforded him a matchless opportunity of action, but never was there a man whose success, and I may also say whose fall, was more wholly his own.
Almost every real mistake that he ever made may be traced to a moral, not an intellectual defect. There was one exception to the penetrating power with which his eagle eye penetrated and appreciated the character of all with whom he had to do. When he had to do with men to whom conscience and the fear and love of God were not mere specious words, but realities by which their lives were governed, his penetration failed him, for he was morally incapable of realising the existence of such a character. No reader of the volumes before me can doubt that this moral. incapacity was the one cause of every serious mistake into which he fell. In dealing, for instance, with Pius VIL and with Consalvi, he over-reached himself: because he could not find it possible to believe that in their minds their own interests, however serious, so far from being the leading consideration, actually had no place at all when their duty to God and the Church was in question. It was only this incapacity to conceive of conscience as a real governing principle, which led him to commit himself to a contest with the Church, from which, when it had once begun, his pride, and his interest alike forbade him to draw back. He had never imagined that he was bringing himself into collision with men who could not be moved either by munificent bribes or by tremendous threats ; and that he should really be compelled either to give up that to which he had publicly committed himself, or else to push matters to the last extremities of violence and open tyranny. And thus he found himself involved unawares in a struggle, in which it was simply impossible that he should prevail, and yet in which he was afraid, as well as ashamed, to be defeated. It was this moral defect alone which blinded him to a danger, of which thousands of poor peasants in his dominions could have warned him. For they were conscious of what he, with all his genius, did not know —the truth expressed by Pius IX. in words which have echoed through the world, Non Possumus, and which Pins VII. stated to the diplomatist, a real though unavowed agent of Napoleon, sent to sound him in his prison at Savona :—' When opinions are founded on the voice of conscience and the sense of duty, they become unalterable. Believe me, there is in the world no physical force which can, in the long-run, contend with a moral force of this nature.' Napoleon had hoped to find the purpose of the gentle, aged monk altered by long imprisonment and separation from his friends and counsellors. His agent, on bringing him back this answer, added that 'he had found the Pope a little aged, but not unwell, calm, unruffled as ever, and without a tinge of bitterness in his remarks, even when speaking of the subjects which it was impossible that he should fail to feel most acutely.' It is exactly against moral force such as this that physical force is utterly powerless.
This is, in truth, the one subject of the volumes before me. It is the history of a physical force utterly irresistible, breaking itself in the vain effort to overcome the force of conscience and the power of grace ; that is, to conquer Him who lives in the Christian's heart. It divides itself naturally into two parts, separate in the main, although one sometimes runs into the other Napoleon's relations to Rome, and to the Catholics of France. His relations to Rome have the unity of an epic. They begin with the election of Pius VII. to the Chair of S. Peter in the conclave at Venice in the beginning of the year 1800, and end only with his own downfall. The present volumes, as I have said, continue the narrative only to January, 181 i. Eleven years seem to a man who looks back after he has passed middle life but as a few days. But in those years were developed a series of events the most wonderful in modem history. When the history commences, the House of Austria, in full possession of the dignity and prestige of the Holy Roman Empire, was mistress of Italy, and in actual possession of the greater part of the States of the Church. Naples, virtually her vassal, held the remainder ; and neither power made any secret of its resolution to keep permanently what it had got. The Austrian intrigues at the Conclave were aimed expressly at this object ; and when, by a remarkable series of events, very well related by the author, the election fell, against the will of Austria, upon Pius VII., the resolution was at once shown to make him a mere tool of the Empire, and especially to refuse to give up the Legations. The whole position both of Austria and Naples to-wards the Pope was changed by one event the battle of Marengo. France, not Austria, became once more mistress of Italy; and for fourteen years it was from France, and France alone, that the Holy See had anything to fear. Napoleon's first measures were intended to gain the confidence of the Catholics of Italy, and they succeeded. He assured the clergy of the Milanese that when he had come into Italy two years before as a General under the Directory, he had been unable to adopt a policy of his own that as First Consul he was now master.
All the changes then made, chiefly in discipline, were opposed to my views and wishes. As the mere instrument of a government which cared nothing for the Catholic religion, I was then unable to prevent the disorders which it was bent on stirring up, cost what they might, with the view of overthrowing it. Now I have full powers. I have resolved to employ every instrument which seems to me calculated to give security and confidence to that religion. France has been educated by her sufferings. Her eyes are at length opened ; she perceives that the Catholic religion is the only anchor which can keep her steady on the troubled waves, and save her from the tempest. She has invited it again to her bosom. In this good work I cannot conceal the fact that I have had a great share. I can assure you that the churches of France have been re-opened, that the Catholic religion is resuming its ancient dignity, and that the people look with reverence upon the consecrated pastors who are returning full of zeal to the midst of their abandoned flocks. As soon as I have an opportunity of communicating with the new Pope, I hope to have the happiness of removing every obstacle which could possibly stand in the way of the entire reconciliation of France with the Head of the Church. I shall be glad that the public should be informed, through the press, of the sentiments by which I am animated, that it may be known, not only in Italy and France, but in all Europe, what my dispositions are.
No wonder that Catholic Italy threw itself with delight into the arms of a young hero who, in the moment of his most brilliant triumph, reversed without delay thus publicly, the fatal policy on which France had been acting for more than eight years. Hitherto, wherever the French troops took possession, the clergy had been driven out and persecuted. Foreign nations had seen the most venerable of the French clergy seeking in exile a precarious maintenance from the charity of surrounding nations, and had heard from them that they were themselves but the remnant which had escaped the guillotine. What a consolation such words as these from the mouth of the man who, almost at the same moment, had made himself master of France, and France mistress of Italy ! Nor had the Italian clergy any reason to doubt that Bonaparte was a sincere Catholic. He was of a family Italian, Catholic, and religious. It is difficult for us to divest ourselves of the memory of his subsequent actions sufficiently to judge of him as Italian Catholics in 1800 necessarily judged. They did not, like us, know even the past for instance, that he had made a profession of belief in Islamism equally satisfactory to the ulemas of Egypt only the year before.
The next measure of the First Consul was to bring about the 'Concordat' AI. D'Haussonville relates, very graphically, all the steps towards it the negotiations, first at Rome, and afterwards at Paris. It was to his first negotiator at Rome, M. Cacault, that Napoleon gave the celebrated injunction, 'Remember to treat the Pope as if he had two hundred thousand men at his command.' Unfortunately, with him was joined another negotiator, a priest whose antecedents led men to trust him, for he had been among the most influential leaders of the royalist peasantry in La Vendée but who was undeserving of their confidence. This is the same person who, being made Bishop of Orleans on the conclusion of the Concordat, distinguished himself by the basest subserviency to Napoleon, and whose disgrace, if I remember rightly, has been noted by the pen of the distinguished prelate who now sits in his seat. The unworthy conduct of this man, and of Cardinal Caprara, who was long Legate at Paris, no doubt contributed to confirm Napoleon in the fatal opinion that ' every man has his price,' and to lead him into his worst errors. I cannot follow M. D'Haussonville through these negotiations. When Napoleon found that he did not get his own way, he threatened to invade the States of the Church, and found that the threat produced no effect. He then threatened to lead France into schism, and even to make it Protestant. In his calmer moments, disposed as he always was to reckon on his power, he felt that this exceeded it.
It would be a folly to join himself to the constitutional bishops and priests. Their influence was gone. They could lend him no force ; still, they do very well to threaten Consalvi with. To put himself at the head of a separate Church, to make himself Pope, for him a man of war in his sword and spurs, would be simply impossible. Would they have him make himself hated like Robespierre, or laughed at like Laréveillere Lepeaux ? To make France Protestant ! Easily said, no doubt. But everything cannot be done in France, say what they may ; even he could do nothing except by going with real feelings. The Catholic was the ancient religion of the land. Half France at least would remain Catholic, and there would be no end of disputes and divisions. The people must have a religion, and that religion must be in the hands of the Government (vol. i. p. 107).
Still, neither to the Pope nor his minister did he confess even so much as this, and it would be a serious responsibility to push him, by insisting upon anything which could lawfully be conceded, into a renewal of the persecution which had hardly ceased, or even into a schism like that of the constitutional clergy. A powerful monarch, quite reckless of the welfare of souls, is, no doubt, always at a great advantage in dealing with a Pontiff with whom the good of souls is a primary consideration.
One point upon which there was much difficulty, but which the Pope ultimately conceded, was whether the Concordat should declare Catholicism the religion of the State, or only that of the vast majority of the French people. At last, after long debates and many delays, the terms of the Concordat were settled, and Napoleon agreed to withdraw the articles in which he had em-bodied the Gallican doctrines. Nothing, therefore, remained except to sign : and a meeting was held for that purpose. It had been expressly declared that it was a mere formality, ' which would hardly occupy a quarter of an hour.' I need hardly tell, what all the world knows, how, at the moment when he was about to put his hand to the document as the representative of the Holy Father, Cardinal Consalvi discovered that Napoleon had attempted a fraud upon him, by substituting for the document to which he had agreed, another containing the obnoxious articles. I must refer to the author for the vivid description of scenes which followed, which are too long to be extracted here.
Napoleon throughout kept up the character of one who united with the highest genius the lowest and most paltry meanness and falsehood. It is universally known that when the Concordat was at last signed, he published it with the rejected articles added to it as if they had been agreed upon. At the same time he attempted another fraud, not so generally known, for, having always given Consalvi to understand that if the Concordat were concluded, he would have nothing to do with the schismatical clergy, except on condition of their making due submission to the Pope ; he had no sooner obtained the signature, than he caused one of his agents to mention to the legate, as a matter of course, that as many as possible of 'both clergies' (i.e. the Catholic and the schismatical) would attend at the Te Deum sung for the conclusion at Notre Dame. At the same time he condescended to another trick of the same sort. There had been a dispute whether the legate should take an oath which had formally been required from legates a latere in France. The First Consul had promised that it should not be required, and in fact it was not. But, to satisfy the Gallicans, a formal notice was officially inserted in the 'Moniteur,' asserting that Cardinal Consalvi had taken the oath, which, for greater effect, was printed at full length
The manner in which the difficulty about the constitutional clergy was got over, was also characteristic of Napoleon. There were two ecclesiastics wholly free from the taint of the schism, and of unblemished reputation, upon whom, however, Napoleon, with his usual knowledge of character, felt sure that he might rely for any service, however unworthy. These were the Abbés Bernier and Pancemont. They were named by the First Consul for the sees of Orleans and Vannes. The legate, in the name of the Pope, gladly gave them canonical authority and episcopal consecration, and congratulated his Holiness upon the character of these appointments. The bishops who had compromised them-selves in the constitutional schism, and whom the First Consul, against the wishes of the legate and against his own promises, had nominated to other sees, had of course been required ' explicitly to confess their schism and to abjure their past errors.' The bishops of Orleans and Vannes attested that they had made this declaration before themselves, but no sooner had the constitutional bishops obtained canonical investiture than they boasted that they had done nothing of the sort, and that they had even torn into a thousand scraps the letter which had been proposed for their signature in the name of the Holy Father. ' Between such opposite assertions,' asks the author, ' which are we to trust ?' Then, after adding that facts are now notorious against the up-rightness of M. Bernier, but that nothing was ever alleged to the discredit of M. de Pancemont, he adds :—
In such a case there are, in fact, no positive proofs. Still it is with surprise and pain that, in searching among the contemporary documents for the means of forming my own judgment, I found, in the correspondence of Napoleon L, two letters which may perhaps throw an unexpected light upon the conduct of the two prelates. One is a request to M. de Talleyrand to give to the Abbe Bernier a sum of thirty thousand francs (L1,200) out of the secret service money, to assist him in negotiating suitably with the Legate ; the other an order to Citizen Portalis to hold at the disposition of M. de Pancemont, Bishop of Vannes (without any publicity), the sum of fifty thousand francs (12,000).
I have mentioned merely a few instances of the affair of the Concordat because they illustrate the character of Napoleon, who certainly was, of all great men in history, the most willing to descend to any littleness, any meanness, any falsehood, any treachery, if it seemed likely to accomplish his ends. The whole course of a matter complicated by many strange intrigues, and extending over many months, is related in a lucid narrative by M. D'Haussonville. The publication of the Concordat was long delayed by Napoleon after it was formally signed, partly in consequence of the disputes to which I have alluded, partly for a reason highly characteristic of him. No man ever thought more of what Englishmen would laugh at as theatrical effects. If he wished to publish a decree against British commerce, it was no mere coincidence which occasioned him to sign it in his head-quarters, at the palace of the King of Prussia, at Berlin ; the decree regulating the Opera at Paris was dated from Moscow. In this case, he had set his heart upon publishing the Concordat on the anniversary of the coup d'etat by which he had placed himself at the head of the State the 18th Brumaire (Nov. 9). As soon as this was gone by, instead of pressing the matter forward as he had done all along, he intentionally delayed it. His reason was, that he thought the next best thing would be to publish the Concordat at such a moment that the Te Deum at Notre Dame might be sung on Easter day. For that day, he caused the state carriages of the unfortunate Louis XVI., which had lain by in dust and neglect for ten years, to be regilt for his use. In the same spirit, he selected as preacher on the occasion, the Cardinal de Boisgelin, an exemplary prelate, but whom he no doubt selected because he had preached five and twenty years before in the same pulpit at the coronation of Louis XVI. What a deluge had swept over France since that day ! But who shall say that in matters such as this, a man so keen-sighted, did not rightly estimate the effect to be produced upon the minds of the people whom he so thoroughly understood ?
In the negotiations which went on while the publication of the Concordat was delayed, as well as in those which followed, it was the misfortune of the Holy See that the Legate at Paris, though by no means a hypocrite or indifferent to duty, was yet not to be trusted. This was Cardinal Caprara, a man of illustrious birth, and who had already been employed in high positions. Napoleon insisted on his being appointed to the office, practically refusing to receive anyone else. Although he was not the man whom Pius VII. would have selected, no definite cause could be alleged for refusing him, and he was appointed. He retained the office until, after the extreme outrages of the Emperor upon the Holy See, the Pope recalled his powers, and appointed no successor. In that time it is not too much to say that, although there is no reason to suppose he intended to betray the cause of the Church, yet he conducted himself on numerous occasions rather as the minister of the Emperor than of the Pope. More than once he acted in direct disobedience to the positive commands and instructions of the Holy See, and at last so entirely lost the confidence of the Holy Father, that, instead of instructing him to say what he had too good reason to believe would not be said, he used to send letters written in full, which his nuncio was only to sign and deliver. M. D'Haussonville finds that Caprara, on several occasions, allowed himself to be under pecuniary obligations to Napoleon.
The next affair of importance between Napoleon and the Holy Father was the coronation in Notre Dame. M. D'Haussonville tells excellently all the circumstances which led to this event the Emperor's notion of the extreme importance of the religious sanction it would give his title, especially as tending to remove the ill effects of the recent murder of the Duke d'Enghien ; the consternation of Cardinal Caprara when first sounded upon it by Napoleon ; his pressing importunities to the Holy Father not to refuse ; the promises so made as to give the Pope to understand more than Napoleon had any intention of fulfilling ; the Pope's enthusiastic reception by the French people, and the jealousy which it excited in the mind of Napoleon.
For all this, and much more, I must refer my readers to his pages. It is, however, important to notice that Napoleon's uncle, Cardinal Fesch, earnestly pressed Pius VII. to make the restitution of the Legations (still held by the French) and a compensation for Avignon and Carpentras a condition of his consent, and that the Pope (although hoping this from the Emperor's generosity) steadily refused to mix the temporal question with the spiritual points upon which he felt bound in conscience to insist. One of these was the form of the coronation oath which the Pope was to tender to the Emperor. As drawn up by the Emperor, it bound him to ' respect and make others respect the laws of the Concordat.' This the Pope refused, because it might be taken to include the 'organic articles,' which, though not really part of the Concordat, had been published as such by Napoleon. A still more important question arose upon the words to respect and cause to be respected the liberty of worships' [la liberté des caches]. To this Cardinal Consalvi, in the name of the Pope, objected : ' This implies an engagement, not to tolerate and allow, but to support and protect ; and it extends, not only to the persons but to the things, that is to all worships [a tous les allies]. But a Catholic cannot protect the error of false worships.'' Caprara replies to this, that the terms of the oath meant nothing. But Consalvi rejoins The formula is such as a Catholic ought not to take, and a Pope cannot authorise by his presence. It is of the essence of the Catholic religion to be intolerant. No one must be quieted with any hope that this difficulty about the oath in the Pope's presence may be evaded (l'espoir de tourner cette diffîciulté). Pius VII. will not be a party to it. He has declared to Cardinal Fesch that, if the attempt is made, he will not hesitate to rise from his seat the same instant, let what may come of it (vol. i. p. 334).
One curious fact, the explanation of which has been hitherto unknown, and has been discovered by M. D'Haussonville, is that while the newspapers of all Europe were filled with circumstantial descriptions of this remarkable scene, the ' Moniteur' alone so minute as to all that magnified the Emperor gave no account of it. This was because Napoleon's act in putting the Imperial crown upon his own head instead of receiving it from the Holy Father, was a breach of an engagement expressly made upon this very point. Consalvi had pointed out that in every instance the Monarch had received the crown from the Prelate, from whom he received the anointing, and made it a condition of the Holy Father's coming that this custom should be observed. With his usual perfidy the Emperor gave and broke the promise. Pius declared that if any authorised report was published which showed that things had not been done as had been arranged beforehand, he would make a public protest stating the breach of engagement. To avoid this the 'Moniteur' suppressed all report of the proceedings. Every act of Napoleon's life seems full of the same strange mixture of dignity and meanness.
Pius VII, returned to Rome the fact is remarkable so much fascinated by that wonderful power which Napoleon acquired over 1 Vol, i, p. 330.
The Church and Napoleon I. 203 all who personally approached him, that no future events, no lapse of time, no outrages, no crimes, were ever able to destroy the affection with which the Holy Father regarded him. From that day began the series of those outrages and crimes which culminated in the prison at Savona, and the scenes at Fontainebleau. Every condition upon which he had insisted, every hope which had been held out to him, had been violated ; but even to the last Pius seems to have found a difficulty in forcing himself to believe that Napoleon himself could be personally guilty of the perfidy and impiety which marked his public measures. Almost as soon as he had reached Rome, a question arose, in consequence of Napoleon's introducing into his Italian kingdom, in which the whole people were Catholics, the rules adopted in France. While Consalvi wrote in strong terms to the Legate, Pius VIL wrote (I may say affectionately) to Napoleon. He received an answer, accompanied by one to the French Minister of Rome (Cardinal Fesch), in which he was directed to arrange with the Holy See modifications of the decree.' To this he replied The proofs which your Majesty gives me of your attachment to religion and your opposition to the false spirit of philosophy of the age, have filled me with consolation. Everything which comes directly from your Majesty always shows the greatness and uprightness of your character. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the feelings to which you may be fully assured that my own most fully and most sincerely answer. Be equally convinced that, so far as I am concerned, I am guided by no policy. My only guides are the maxims of the Gospel and the laws of the Church. You may, therefore, be sure beforehand that I shall always proceed in perfect simplicity of heart, and with all possible spirit of conciliation and moderation.
Well would it have been for Napoleon if he could have believed what the Holy Father here said in simple sincerity of heart, as to the motives of his own conduct ; it would have saved him from his greatest and most fatal mistakes as well as crimes. But, as I have already said, this was exactly what the moral defect of his own character made impossible to him. That men should profess sentiments of exalted generosity, of noble self-sacrifice, of simple devotion to the cause of duty ; this seemed to him perfectly natural. He felt, as strongly as anyone else, that there are occasions on which such professions are highly becoming, just as it was fit that, on the day of his coronation, he should dress himself in sweeping robes of the richest crimson velvet, spangled with golden bees. Such things were excellent in their place, and so were professions of high principle. In their place he used them himself, and approved of their use by others. What he could not imagine, what he never brought himself to believe was that any man should really be guided by such principles in the practical business of life. As soon would he have thought of riding into a fierce and bloody battle in his coronation robes. And hence, he never really understood the conduct of the Holy See. Being sure that the reasons alleged for it could not be possibly true, he had to look about for others, and fixed upon some, not in themselves unlikely or irrational, but which quite misled him, because the real reason was that which he had begun by setting aside, without examination, as simply impossible. The first instance of this immediately followed. Jerome Bonaparte had married a Protestant lady in the United States. It was manifestly convenient that the marriage should be dissolved that he might take a wife from one of the royal families of Catholic Germany. At once, and without doubt of a favourable result, the Emperor applied to the Pope. He felt sure that Pius could feel no objection, for it was evidently for the interest of the Church that the Emperor should be surrounded with Catholics rather than Protestants. The Holy Father replied, by a letter in his own hand, assuring him of his wish to declare the marriage null if he could, and explaining why, on the evidence as yet before him, he could not do so without violating the laws of God and the Church. He concluded ;
It is therefore out of my power in the present state of things to pronounce the marriage null. If I should usurp a power which I have not, I should render myself guilty of an abuse abominable before the judgment-seat of God; and your Majesty yourself, in your justice, would blame me for pronouncing a sentence opposite to the testimony of my conscience and to the invariable principles of the Church. Hence I confidently hope that your Majesty will feel certain that it is only by an absolute want of power that the desire I have always felt to second, as far as lies in me, all your designs, and particularly in a matter which so closely touches your august person, has in this instance been made inefficacious. And I entreat you to accept this sincere declaration as an evidence of my truly fatherly affection.
Every Catholic who has paid any attention to the subject well knows that the facts set forth by Pius VII, in this letter, and not disputed on the other side, made it, not merely inexpedient or unbecoming, but simply impossible, that he should, without monstrous wickedness, declare Jerome's marriage null and void.' His reply was merely an example of the Non possums. This letter put Napoleon beside himself with rage. The Pope refuse to take, at his request, a step so obviously expedient and beneficial for all parties ! What could be his motive ? That which he alleged, of course, could have nothing to do with it. What had conscience and the ' judgment-seat of God' to do with a practical matter such as this? Very good things, no doubt, to talk about on fitting occasions, but quite out of place now. The refusal, therefore, must have been given to spite him ; and he had not far to go to find the motive. He knew that he had both robbed and cheated the Pope by keeping the ' Legations.' No doubt this refusal was the Pope's way of showing his anger at the wrong and the insult. Of course, taking this view of the matter, he was sure that he could easily overcome the resistance of so feeble an enemy by making him feel that, however reasonable his indignation might be, he would lose much more than he could possibly gain by indulging it.
From this point, then, began the contest between Napoleon and Pius VII. Almost at the same moment the policy of Napoleon took a turn which made him feel it important to have the practical control, not merely of the Legations (of which he still kept possession), but of the whole States of the Church. A few months before, his whole heart had been fixed upon the invasion of England (and he never varied from his policy of keeping, at all costs, on friendly terms with other powers while he was attacking any one) ; he therefore intended to keep things quiet on the Continent. The failure of his plan of invasion in the summer of 1805 determined him to attack Austria. In that war it was of great importance not to leave behind him any country in which England might raise the standard of opposition to him, and such a country be believed the States of the Church to be. True, the Sovereign Pontiff professed absolute neutrality but he had already shown so judged Napoleon by the affair of the divorce that he hated Napoleon, and would do him an injury if he could ; the Emperor therefore resolved to occupy Ancona, a harbour which in a war with Austria it would not do to leave in hostile hands. To a mild letter of remonstrance from the Holy Father he replied (waiting until after the stupendous victory of Austerlitz) by letters of studied insult addressed both to himself and to the French Minister at Rome (Cardinal Fesch). To the latter, after referring again to the affair of the divorce, he declared;
To the Pope I am Charlemagne ; because, like Charlemagne, I unite the crown of France to that of the Lombards, and because my empire extends to the boundaries of the East. I expect, therefore, that his conduct towards me should be regulated upon this principle. If good conduct is maintained, I shall not change the outward appearance of things ; if not, I shall reduce the Pope to be only Bishop of Rome. In truth, nothing can be so unreasonable as the Court of Rome (vol. ii. p. 78).
Here, probably, Napoleon first gave an indication of the principle upon which he intended to act towards the temporal dominions of the Pope. A little later he expressed it more and more plainly. In few words it was, that the Pope should nominally remain an independent sovereign, both in war and peace, on condition of his becoming, in fact, a feudatory of the French Emperor. It is probable that his natural disposition would have led him to say nothing about these intentions, but silently to assume in detail the control of Rome, and to let the fact that he had become sovereign of the Roman States break by degrees upon the minds both of the Pope and his subjects. Eut it was not open to him to adopt this plan, because it was necessary to his other plans to assume immediate authority. He was at war with England and Russia. It was convenient that the States of the Church should take his side in the war; he resolved, therefore, as he said in the letter I have just quoted, that there must be no delay, that the Pope must either at once join in the war, or be at once deprived of his territory. Six weeks later, February 22nd, 1806, he explained this, in plain words, to the Holy Father himself.
I share all your Holiness's distress, and can imagine your perplexity. You may avoid it all by going straight forward, and not entering into a political Iabyrinth, and into considerations for powers which, in a religious point of view, are heretical and out of the Church, and, in a political, are far removed from your States, unable either to protect or injure you. I shall not touch the independence of the Holy See. I shall even cause it to be repaid for whatever it may lose by the movements of my army. But the condition must be, that your Holiness must be to me, in matters temporal (aura pour moi dans le temporel, les mimes egards que je lui porte pour le spirituel), what I am to you in matters spiritual ; that you must cease to have any useless consideration for heretics, enemies of the Church, and for powers which are unable to do you any good. Your Holiness is Sovereign of Rome ; but I am its Emperor. All my enemies must be yours. It is not fit that any agent of the King of Sardinia, any Englishman, Russian, or Swede, should reside at Rome, or in your States, or that any vessel of those powers should enter your ports (vol. ii. p. lot).
The author remarks, ` It was the Emperor's ordinary calculation, and ever afterwards his habit, when he wished to make a strong impression on anyone, to assume towards him an attitude of complaint and a tone of profound irritation.' The letter before me is an example of this, but I have not room for half of it. But he wrote the same day to his Minister at Rome
You must demand the expulsion from the States of the Pope of all English, Russians, and Swedes, and all persons attached to the Court of the King of Sardinia. No vessel either Swedish, English, or Russian, must be allowed to enter the States of the Pope, or else I will confiscate them. I do not intend the Court of Rome in future to take any part in politics. I will protect its States against all the world. It is useless that it should have so much consideration for the enemies of religion. Say that I am Charlemagne, the sword of the Church, their Emperor, and that I must be treated as such. I am making known my intentions to the Pope in a few words. If he does not keep to them, I shall reduce him to the same condition he was in before Charlemagne (vol. ii. p. 105).
I grudge to the letters of Napoleon the space I am compelled to give them, because without having them before their eyes together the Sacred College, and asked the opinion of its members one by one, reserving his own till the last. The opinion was unanimous, with the single exception of one French Cardinal. The answer was then written :
March at, 1806.
I owe it to God, to the Church, and to myself, to the attachment I profess towards your Majesty, to your own glory, which I have as much at heart as yourself, to speak freely and sincerely, as becomes the uprightness of my character and the duty of my ministry. I have had, and always shall have, the greatest consideration for your Majesty; but still I can neither lend myself to anything absolutely contrary to the obligations which inevitably result from my double character of Prince and Pontiff, nor hide the truths of which I am in my conscience intimately convinced, nor accede to demands directly inconsistent with the oath I have taken, before the face of the Almighty, and at His altar, to maintain untouched from age to age the charge of the patrimony of the Roman Church Your Majesty desires that I should expel from my States all Russians, English, and Swedes, and all the agents of the King of Sardinia ; and that I should close my ports against the vessels of those three nations. That is to say, you demand that I, renouncing the peace I enjoy, should place myself, with regard to those Powers, in a state of war and open hostility. Permit me to say, with perfect sincerity, that it is not with a view to my temporal interests, but by reason of duties most essential and inseparable from my character, that I find it impossible to accede to this demand. I, the Vicar of the Eternal WORD, who is not the God of discord, but of concord and peace, who, according to the expression of the Apostle, came into the world to put an end to the enmities of the world, how could I possibly discard the precept of my Divine Master, and place myself in opposition to the mission to which He has called me? It is not my will but the will of God that lays down the duty of peace towards all, without distinction of Catholic or heretic, of those near or remote, of those from whom we can hope benefits or fear great evils. If, as your Majesty says, I ought not ' to enter into the labyrinth of politics,' from which, in fact, I have held, and shall always hold, myself aloof, how much more ought I to abstain from taking part in the evils of a war which has no cause except politics, in which no attack is made upon religion, and in which there is even involved a Catholic Power ! Nothing but the necessity of repelling a hostile aggression, or defending religion from peril, has afforded to my predecessors a legitimate motive for giving up the condition of peace. If, through human frailty, any one of them has not been subject to these maxims, his conduct, I declare openly, can never serve as an example to mine.
Then Pius VII. explained with the same gentleness and the same sound reason that to expel from his States the subjects of heretical Powers, who were at war with the Emperor, and to shut his ports against them, would be to provoke an inevitable interruption of the daily communications which existed between the
Holy See and the Catholics who lived under the rule of these courts.
The irresistible force of human events has sometimes led to this fatal interruption of communication between the head of the Church and some of its most faithful members. The Church has then deeply grieved at the calamity. But if she became the cause herself, what would be the bitterness of her remorse, and how could she smother the inward voice of conscience, which would eternally reproach her with so unpardonable a fault ? The Catholics who live in heretical countries are, moreover, no small number. Can I abandon so many faithful souls, when I am required by the Gospel to do everything in order to seek one ? There are millions in the Russian empire ; there are millions upon millions in the regions subject to England. They enjoy the free exercise of their religion ; they are protected. What a responsibility to have led to the prohibition of religion in these lands, the ruin of holy missions, the stagnation of spiritual affairs ! An in-calculable evil for religion and for Catholicism ; an evil for which I should have to accuse myself, and for which I should have to give a strict account before the judgment-seat of God ! (Vol. ii. p. 141.)
The Emperor had complained of many serious evils resulting from dilatory proceedings at Rome. The Pope replies Your Majesty would have spared me the pain of your blame if you had considered that such affairs absolutely require mature counsel, and that it is impossible in discussing them to be as rapid as in temporal matters. This accusation your Majesty particularises by applying it to the ecclesiastical affairs of Germany. You say that for the sake of worldly interests, and the vain prerogatives of the tiara, souls are left to perish. I receive as from the hand of the Most High the humiliating bitterness of the reproach which your Majesty has thought fit to make to me. God and the world are my witnesses whether or not my conduct has been guided by worldly interests and vain prerogatives.
The Pope then explained that the ecclesiastical arrangements of Germany had been complicated, and their settlement delayed, by the territorial changes which had resulted from Napoleon's wars. He continued
Your Majesty lays down the principle that you arc Emperor of Rome. 1 reply, with apostolic frankness, that the Pope, who became Sovereign of Rome so many centuries ago that no other sovereignty on earth can go back to a more remote point in history, does not acknowledge, and never has acknowledged, any power superior to himself in his own dominions. I will add that no Emperor has ever had the least right over Rome. Your Majesty is immensely great ; you have been elected, crowned, consecrated, acknowledged, Emperor of the French, but not Emperor of Rome. There exists no Emperor of Rome ; there can exist none unless the Sovereign Pontiff shall have been despoiled of the sovereign authority he exercises at Rome. We well know that there exists an Emperor of the Romans ; but this is a title elective and merely honorary, acknowledged by all Europe, and by your Majesty yourself, as belonging to the Emperor of Germany, and cannot be borne by two Sovereigns at the same time. Your Majesty tells me that my relations towards yourself ought to be those which existed between my predecessors and Charlemagne. Charlemagne found Rome in the hands of the Popes. He acknowledged and confirmed without reserve their dominion, and augmented it by new donations ; but never did he claim to exercise any supremacy over the Popes, even considered as mere temporal Princes. Never did he require from them any dependence or any subjection of any kind Finally, ten centuries have passed since the time of Charlemagne, which renders it useless to go back to a more ancient origin. I am compelled to point out to your Majesty that the principles you have advanced cannot be sustained. Still less is it possible that I should accept the consequences which you would draw from them I cannot admit the maxim by which your Majesty lays down that I ought to be towards you in matters temporal as your Majesty towards me in matters spiritual. The extent given to this proposition entirely alters the character and destroys the very essence of these two powers. Spiritual things, in fact, do not admit of simple relations [simples egards] ; they come from [relevent de] a divine right. Their essence is superior and transcendent, and does not admit of any comparison with temporal objects. A Catholic Sovereign is such, solely because he professes to conform himself to the decisions of the visible head of the Church, and to acknowledge him as the master of truth '[maitre de la vérité] and sole Vicar of God upon earth. There can, therefore, be no identity, no equality between the spiritual relation of a Catholic Sovereign to the Chief of the Hierarchy, and the relations of one temporal Sovereign to another. .... The second consequence which your Majesty desires to draw from these principles is to establish the point that your enemies must of necessity become my enemies also. This doctrine is absolutely contrary to the character of my divine mission, which knows no enmity even towards those who are unhappily separated from the centre of unity; and I could not subscribe to it without breaking the bond of common paternity which exists between the Sovereign Pontiffs and all Sovereigns who are within the bosom of the Church. For, according to your Majesty's very proposition, every time a Catholic Power was at war, it would be my duty to treat it as an enemy. (Vol. ii. p. 146.)
Pius VII. then pointed out that Napoleon, who prided him-self upon being 'the avenger and defender of the Church,' would be inconsistent with himself if he demanded the adoption of principles 'through which my temporal independence, so advantageous to my spiritual mission, would in the end be entirely destroyed!
Among so many trials I have no support except the uprightness of my intentions, the confidence inspired into me by the justice of my cause, and, above all, the hope that your Majesty's filial affection will respond to my overflowing fatherly tenderness ; but if I am disappointed, if the heart of your Majesty is not touched by my words, I shall suffer whatever may corn with evangelical resignation. I shall submit to every kind of calamity, and accept it as coming from God ; I shall encounter all the adversities of this life rather than make myself unworthy of my ministry by deviating from the line laid down by my conscience In conclusion, I will believe that you will not wholly forget that, at this moment, when I am at Rome a prey to so many and such terrible troubles, not one year has passed since I quitted Paris I give you with my whole heart my fatherly benediction. (Vol. ii. p. 148.)
I cannot but feel how much the force of this letter is weakened and lost, by the fact that my readers cannot possibly have before their minds a just sense of what Napoleon really was when it was written. Never before had the power of a man been so widely extended and so absolute ; for none even of the heathen Emperors of Rome, whose dominions were more extended, at any time held the actual strings by which all the resources and powers of the empire were set in motion so absolutely in his own hands. What is chiefly impressed upon me in reading the volumes of M. D'Haussonville (especially in connection with those of M. Thiers) is, that for many years no one, either within or without his dominions, had presumed to resist the will of Napoleon, or to give a direct refusal even to his most unjust and most unreasonable demands. At Paris, the ambassadors of the most ancient, most powerful, and proudest royal and imperial houses of Europe trembled before him. When he took the field it was only because the most abject submission could not suffice to avert his dreadful wrath from those whom he thought it his interest to crush. He was wont to look around him upon the great Powers of the Continent and consider, not which of them he could subdue, for he was confident that none could resist him, but which he should for the present spare. A little later he balanced in his own mind, in the same spirit, from which of those houses he should accept a successor to the divorced Josephine. In truth, for years past no one within the European Continent had ever presumed to oppose him. England, no doubt, was still out of his reach, but he doubted not that if only he could get within arm's length of her he could break her in pieces, and meanwhile he boasted that he had shut her out of the world by his continental blockade. But that he should be defied, not in the frenzy of despair, but soberly and calmly, by an unarmed old man ; that his orders should be not only disobeyed, but argued against and shown to be unreasonable, —it was beyond belief, beyond imagination, The letter of which I have given such copious extracts, ' filled him,' says M. D'Haussonville, ' not with rage only, but with indignation.' And now began the death-struggle between the all-powerful Emperor and the unresisting Pontiff. His anger was increased by Cardinal Fesch, whose conscience would not allow him to go wholly against the Pope (a little later he refused to accept the archbishopric of Paris, when urged by the Emperor to take it without the authority of the Holy Father), but who hated Cardinal Consalvi to such a degree of madness as even to accuse him of having instigated a murder which had been committed at Rome, in order to throw the odium of it on the French. At last Consalvi had been compelled to resign. Fesch himself was recalled because work was to be done upon which Napoleon did not choose to employ his uncle. M. Alquier, his successor, warned the Emperor in very striking language (vol. ii. p. 303) that in matters which touched his con-science Pius was not influenced or controlled by any adviser, but took his own course. If Napoleon believed him, which may be doubted, he perhaps felt it too late to retreat now. My space will not allow me to follow the different measures of aggression by which Napoleon laid his hands inch by inch upon the dominions of the Holy Father. It was highly characteristic that the execution of the final outrages, even when fully determined, was long.
The Church and Napoleon L 215 delayed, and things remained as they were, because Napoleon was engaged in the difficult and somewhat alarming campaign which ended in the battle of Jena; and while he had before him the task of breaking the power of Prussia, he would not subject himself to any increase of his enemies by a new outrage, even on Pius VII. On the 31st of July, 1806, we have another letter of the Pope, addressed nominally to his Nuncio at Paris, at that time an open partisan of the Emperor, for Napoleon (on pretexts characteristically false and little) had now refused to communicate with him directly, but evidently intended for the eye of the Emperor. I wish my space allowed me to give the whole of it.
I have earnestly commended myself to that God, of whom I, unworthy as I am, am Vicar on earth, and to St. Peter the Apostle, of whom I am the successor, to obtain the light of which I have need, in order to give the answer you demand. Here is that answer, written with my own hand, as an additional proof of the importance I attach to matters of such weight, and how sincere and deep are the sentiments by which I am actuated, and which I am obliged to make known to you. My reasons for refusing to make the declaration demanded of me are too strong, too just, too powerful to make possible any change of opinion. They are founded not upon human considerations, as is imagined, but upon the most essential duties imposed upon me both by my character as the common father of the faithful, and by the nature of my ministry of peace. Admit that the English (as his Majesty tells you), will never believe that Rome suffered itself to be destroyed for their sake, and will never be grateful for it, that is not what I have to consider. I have thought only of my own duties, which lay me under the obligation of not causing any injury to religion by the interruption of communications between the head and the members of the Church, in any place where Catholics exist. This interruption I should myself provoke if I were to exercise acts of hostility against any one nation, and make myself a partner in a war against it. If the injuries caused to religion carne from the acts of another, like that which may result from the measures which his Majesty may take in consequence of my refusal to agree to his demand, I shall grieve over them in bitterness of heart, and shall adore the judgments of God, who, for the secret designs of His Providence, allows them. But if, betraying my sacred character and the nature of my ministry, I should take part in a war which provoked resentments injurious to the Church, those evils would be my own act ; and this it is that I cannot do. I cannot, in order to avoid the evils with which I am threatened, give occasion by my own fault to those evils to the Church which I have mentioned. Those with which I am threatened are not necessary evils, they depend solely on the will of his Majesty, who is free to make them actual or to avoid them
His Majesty has told you that if Rome and the States of the Church are once in his hands, they will never come out of them. His Majesty may easily believe this, and persuade himself of it, but I reply frankly that if his Majesty has a right to be confident that power is on his side, I, for my part, know that above all monarchs there reigns a God, the avenger of justice and innocence, before whom every human power must bend. You tell me that the Emperor says to you that the affair has now become public, and that therefore he cannot go back. But I must crave his Majesty to consider that he can lose nothing of his greatness and magnanimity, when it is not before an earthly potentate, a rival of his power, that he gives way and bends, but before the representations and entreaties of a priest of Jesus Christ, his father and his friend. If this consideration does not avail to persuade him, I am bound to tell him with apostolic freedom that, if his Majesty is committed in honour before men, I am committed in conscience before God ; that the head of the Church will never take part in war ; that I assuredly will not be first to give to the Church and the world an example which none of my predecessors, during eighteen centuries, has given, that of uniting myself in a state of war progressive, in-definite, permanent, against any nation whatever ; that I cannot accede to the federative system of the French Empire ; that my dominions, transmitted to me independent of all federation, must remain so by the nature of my apostolical ministry ; and that if this independence is attacked, if the threats which are addressed to me are executed without any regard to my dignity and to the affection which binds me to his Majesty, then I shall see in that the signal of an open persecution, and shall appeal to the judgment of God. My course is irrevocable. Nothing can change it ; neither threats, nor the execution of those threats. These sentiments you may regard as my testament I am ready, if necessary, to sign it with my blood, fortifying myself, if persecution breaks out, with those words of our Divine Master, 'Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice sake.' Make known these sentiments to his Majesty in their fullest extent ; I expressly command it But at the same time tell the Emperor that he still has my affection, and that I have every wish to give him every proof of it which is in my power, and to continue to show myself his best friend; but what is demanded is out of my power to do.
This letter was indeed the Holy Father's last word. It re-minds one of those of Moses when he appeared for the last time before Pharaoh, ' Thou shalt see my face no more ;' and of those more solemn words of his Lord and Master when, for the last time He left the Temple, ' Ye shall see Me no more.' It is true that the end was for some months delayed, not by scruples on the part of the Emperor, but by the war with Prussia. And then came the perfidious seizure of the city of Rome itself, of which I have already spoken. At that point my space compels me to close my account of the relations of the Holy Father with Napoleon, although the part of M. D'Haussonville's book already published carries them on for a year later. The seizure of Rome is the most natural conclusion of the first stage of those relations which was ended when Pius VIL was no longer, even nominally, in possession of his dominions. When the work is completed I hope to return to it.
I must, however, notice that the author thinks the Holy Father was inconsistent, because at the last moment he consented to forbid the entry of English and Russian ships to his ports, after having declared it a point of conscience which he could not yield. It is strange that he does not see that things had then come to a point at which the one cause always assigned by Pius VII. for his refusal no longer applied. The French were in full possession of all his ports, especially Ancona and Civita, Vecchia ; the Customs' revenues were appropriated by them ; his soldiers had been incorporated into the French army. It was therefore evident that his conceding this particular point could no longer be regarded by the English Government as an act of war, because the French occupation had already excluded English ships. His concession, therefore, at that particular moment only confirmed what he had always said, that his refusal of it had been an act of duty, and not a mere point of worldly honour. When the duty no longer forbad, the concession was made. In confirmation of this it is to be observed, that in conceding this one point he still absolutely refused to join in the war or to submit his States to the federal authority of the French empire. The concession, therefore, had no effect, beyond proving the sincerity of the Pope's declaration, that he was anxious to concede all he could concede with a safe conscience.
But in truth the wishes of Napoleon had by this time greatly changed. Time had been when he had meant what he said, that he wished the Pope to continue at Rome a nominal sovereign if only he would exercise his sovereignty in that state of subordination to the French Emperor which he required from his brothers and other subordinate kings. But he wished this no longer. On the contrary, he was now eagerly looking for a pretext for re-moving him into France and establishing him there, in all splendour and state, as one of the great officers of the new Empire. His plan was to give him a revenue of 120,000L. sterling per annum, magnificent palaces, &c. ; he even went so far as to name Rheims as the place designed for his residence. This was part of his plan for making the Catholic Church as distinctly a tool in the hands of the French Emperor as the Russian schism actually in the hands of the autocrat of the Russias. This is not the inference drawn by others as to his desires and wishes, it was his own deliberate plan, sketched in letters at the time and fully drawn out in a note dictated by himself at St. Helena. It was, of course, inconsistent with the quasi independence of the Pope, and therefore it is plain in the latter communications between Rome and Paris that the Emperor's fear was lest the Pope should con-cede what he demanded. So strong was this fear, that in transmitting an ultimatum of almost inconceivable insolence, he expressly retained the right of adding to it, if accepted, any new demands that it might be always in his power to force the Pope into a refusal which would give him an excuse for going to extremities.
It is impossible not to feel that, to human appearance, the Catholic Church was in greater danger in January, 1810, than at any former period. She had to face not a barbarian invasion like that of Attila, but a strongly-compacted empire ; and what she had to fear from it was not a persecution like that of Nero, which was sure to purify and ;mite the Church by the same acts which gave to individual confessors a martyr's tortures and a martyr's crown, but a deliberate and well-devised system by which she was to be pampered, crippled, and enslaved. Against such a system she had to rely, humanly speaking, on the personal qualities of Pius VII., an old, mild, gentle, unresisting monk. All the world now knows that she prevailed ; but, before the event, all the world believed her success to be hopeless. And, considering that the greatest danger of all was that of an election to the Papacy under the tyranny of Napoleon, it is impossible not to note the remarkable Providence by which the reign of Pius VII., which began at the moment when the victory of Marengo was about to make Napoleon absolute master of Italy, was continued until his empire and himself had passed away. It is with something like anxiety that one reads, even now, of the precautions taken by the tyrant to have the cardinals always absolutely in his power, that he might at any moment be ready to act in case of a vacancy.
What use Napoleon intended to make of the Catholic Church when he held her, as he already securely reckoned upon doing, as a tool in his hands, we may see by his actual conduct towards the clergy of France. These volumes are full of instances of the combination of a grinding tyranny which dictated the most minute details of the daily ministration, not merely of great prelates, but of village curds, with falsehood and fraud so deliberate, and so shameless, that even after all we know of Napoleon it is hardly credible.
Perhaps the most curious illustration of his dealings in ecclesiastical matters, hitherto unknown even in France, was the manner in which he contrived to impose a new catechism upon all the dioceses of France. All the world knows that it was professedly authorised by the Pope. It has been made a ground of complaint against Pius VIL (and apparently not without reason), that he should have deprived the bishops of their discretion in this matter, for the benefit, not of the Church, but of the Emperor. It has now been shown that, in truth, he did exactly the reverse. All that passed is most graphically related by M. D'Haussonville. In the concordat as published by Napoleon it is declared, ' There shall be only one liturgy and one catechism for all the churches of France.' This, however, was one of his perfidious additions to the real Concordat. The author skilfully brings in, into the midst of his account of Napoleon's strange interference about the catechism, extracts from two letters written just at the same time, which show how little he really cared about doctrine. He wrote to his sister Eliza, his Satrap at Lucca-
`My sister, require no oath of the priests. Nothing will come of that except new difficulties. Go straight on to suppress the convents.'
A few days later he wrote :--
' The Pope's brief is nothing as long as it remains secret in your hands. Lose not an hour not a minute in annexing the property of the convents to the State. Do not trouble yourself about any dogma. Lay hands on the property of the monks, that is the really important matter, and let everything else take its chance.' (Vol. ii. p. 254)
It is curious to find the same man at the same moment so anxious about the exact doctrinal teaching of the children in every French parish. The Nuncio at Paris, Cardinal Caprara, a tool in his hands, wrote a letter, intended to draw a permission from Rome, for the use of a single catechism in all the parishes of France. Consalvi, ' with his usual acuteness,' suspected something behind, and answered:
' The Holy See has always desired, aimed at uniformity in the manner of teaching and learning Christian doctrine. For this end, Pius V., after the decree of the Council of Trent, ordered that the Roman catechism for parish priests should be published, and Clement VlI. that of Bellarmine for children. Yet their liberty of choice has never been taken from the bishops, and especially from those beyond the Alps, except so far as is defined by Benedict XIV., in the constitution Etsi Minimum, Chap. xvii. Therefore the Holy Father, following the example of his predecessors, will not interfere with the French bishops in their choice of the catechism which each of them may judge most suitable to the special circumstances of his own flock, provided that the wise directions of Benedict XIV. are observed Should the Government wish to give the preference to any one catechism, or perhaps to make a new one, and impose it by authority upon the use of the bishops, His Holiness would be unable not to regard that act as an insult to the whole body of the Episcopate. His Holiness would have it observed that the Divine Legislator has given the right of teaching only to his Apostles, and to the bishops, their successors, and not to any others It does not belong therefore to the secular power to choose or to prescribe to the bishops the catechism which it prefers. This belongs only to the judgment of the Church Should it come to your knowledge that anyone has a plan for taking an advantage of the religion of the Emperor, and obtaining from him the authorisation and promulgation of a catechism of this sort, your Eminence will not hesitate to warn his Majesty upon the subject, and to say to him, in the name of his Holiness, to be on his guard against the authors of such counsels, and that the Holy Father is persuaded that in matters of doctrine, certainly his Imperial Majesty has no thought of arrogating to himself a power which God has confided exclusively to the Church and to the Vicar of Jesus Christ The Holy Father would feel the greatest repugnance to prescribe to the bishops of a whole nation the use of the same catechism in such a manner that the prelates could not vary from it according to the wants of their respective dioceses.' (Vol. ii. p. 280.)
It is a remarkable proof of Consalvi's foresight that he should have suspected a trap so skilfully prepared for him. Never, probably, did he suspect what really happened. Caprara sup-pressed the letters, and falsely declared that he had authority to approve the new catechism; and some days later (February 1806) formally approved it in the name and by the authority of the Pope.' Next appeared an official notice that a catechism ' uniform and obligatory upon all the dioceses of France was about to be published immediately with the official approbation of the Cardinal Legate.' When this ' Moniteur' reached Rome, Consalvi wrote in the name of the Pope a second letter expressing his doubts whether the announcement could be correct ; but strictly requiring Caprara to take no step in the matter without referring it to Rome. This letter also Caprara suppressed, and it cannot be imagined that the Emperor did not well know all about these letters, but Caprara took rare that he should have no official knowledge of them.
It soon appeared why so much trouble had been taken. The new catechism professed to be that of Bossuct, whose name suffices to throw any Frenchman into an ecstasy of admiration which deprives him of the use of his intellect. In the main it was so ; but, in explaining the fourth commandment of God. Bossuet had taught that it requires us ' to respect all superiors, pastors, kings, magistrates, and others.'
' The Prince himself,' says M. D'Haussouville, who was none other than Lewis XIV., 'was familiarly mixed up with the crowd of " superiors." ' What was enough for Louis was far from satisfying Napoleon. M. D'Haussonville shows that this part of the catechism was drawn up by himself and his minister. The duties of his subjects towards Napoleon fill three lessons. Napoleon at first wrote, ' Is submission to the Government of France a dogma of the Church?' The answer was his own writing--'Yes, Scripture teaches that he who resists the Powers resists the order of God. Yes ; the Church imposes upon us the most special duties towards the Government of France, the protection of religion and of the Church. She requires us to love and cherish it, and to be ready to make any sacrifice in its service.' This was modified at the suit of the theologians at Paris. i But as the catechism finally stood it declares---
Christians owe to the princes by whom they are governed, and in particular we owe to Napoleon I., our Emperor, love, reverence, obedience, fidelity, military- service, tributes, &c. &c.'
It then gives the special claim of Napoleon L, as 'raised up by God under circumstances of difficulty to re-establish public worship, and the religion of our fathers, and to be its Protector. By his profound and active wisdom he has restored and preserved public order. By his mighty arm he defends the State. By the consecration he has received from the Sovereign Pontiff, the Head of the Universal Church, he has become the Lord's anointed. Q. What must we think of those who fail in their duty towards our Emperor? A. According to the Apostle St. Paul, they resist the order established by God Himself, and make themselves worthy of eternal damnation.'
There is a good deal more, but this is enough. One other thing Napoleon wanted to alter in Bossuet's catechism the declaration, extra ecclesiam nulla salus. This, however, M. D'Haussonville says he gave up when it was pointed out to him that he had insisted on pronouncing eternal damnation against all who opposed his government, or who even had not sufficient love towards him. This argument ad hominem, says the author, prevailed, ' especially as it was only a question of pronouncing the damnation of some souls.' The fact is that Napoleon was enamoured of that style of argument. He was fond of calling together the clergy of a district and giving them a charge in a style of his own. To such an assembly at Breda (March 6, 1810) he delivered a long sermon, ending, ' if you persist in your maxims, you will be wretched here below, and damned in the other world.' It was well that the latter part of the sentence was less in his power than the former. To the clergy of the Department of the Dyle he declared, ' I won't have either the religion or the notions of the Gregory VII.s, the Bonifaces, the Juliuses, who wished to subject kingdoms and kings to their power, and excommunicated emperors to disturb the tranquillity of peoples. I believe, let people say what they may, that they are burning in hell for the disturbance they stirred up by their extravagant pretensions?
The mainspring of his government in matters ecclesiastical was perpetual imprisonment, authorised by his simple fiat communicated in a letter to his Minister of Police. How many hundreds of country priests were left thus to die by inches in state prisons for years together, merely because some one had complained to the Emperor of a sermon delivered on some occasion, I have no means of estimating. The number must have been very large. Lord Shaftesbury's mouth must water when he thinks how the Ritualists would have fared under the great Emperor. First, he would have a check upon all appointments. To effect this he required that for all the high clerical offices a degree in the imperial university should be a sine qua non, and this, as he writes to his Minister of Religion, ' can be refused in the case of any man known to entertain notions suggest something to us to find him specially mentioning the wrongs of Ireland as a subject to be insisted upon. But he condescended lower than this. On one occasion, when no one as yet suspected that he was thinking of the divorce of Josephine, he was the guest of the Archbishop of Bordeaux. He was in high good humour and most munificent; even condescending to re-prove the Archbishop for not allowing himself greater personal comforts. But the Grand Vicar and a chanoine ventured to state, in answer to some remark of the Emperor, the doctrine of the Church about divorce and the indissolubility of marriage. He was enraged, and had no sooner returned to Paris than he wrote to require the Archbishop to deprive them of their offices. To his Minister he wrote
Make known my displeasure to M. Robert, priest at Bourges. He preached a very bad sermon on the 15th of August.' Sometimes he addressed his Minister of the Interior, to require him to set right ecclesiastics who, in his opinion, erred from their duty. More commonly, however, the orders were given to his Commandant of Gendarmerie, or by preference to his Minister of Police, the Duke of Otranto (Fouché), whom he charges to watch attentively the manner in which the members of the French clergy conducted themselves.
The Abbe de Courcy,' he writes to M. Lacépède, 'does me great mischief. He is always corresponding with his parishioners [a ses diocesans]. I desire that that man be arrested and confined in a convent' But before long convents did not seem to him a place of retreat sufficiently secure. Some days later Napoleon, this time addressing Fouché, wrote, ' It is important that you keep your eyes open upon the diocese of Poitiers. It is really shameful that you have not yet had the Abbe Stewens arrested. They are asleep, for how else could a wretched priest have escaped' (June 30th, 1805). His Minister of Police had generally a more lucky hand, and then his master addressed compliments to him, even from the heart of Poland.
'I see by your letter of the 12th that you have arrested a curd of la Vendde. You have done quite right. Keep him in prison.' It is needless to say that these arrests were not preceded by any investigation or followed by any trial. In proportion to the difficulty of the relations to the Holy See their number became more considerable, and thus little by little, in France as in Italy, the prisons were peopled by a multitude of obscure priests. They were committed sometimes to the dungeons of Vincennes, sometimes to the Isle of Sainte Marguerite, to Fenestrella, to Ivrée, and to all the places of confinement set apart for political offenders. In many cases there was nothing alleged against them except suspected opinions on matters of religious discipline, some thoughtless act (props?) or insignificant fault into which they had been imprudently led by an excess of Ultramontane zeal. Once imprisoned, these unfortunate men became dangerous to release, for they would have been applauded and made much of as martyrs by the enthusiastic partisans of the Holy Father, who himself was confined as a prisoner at Savona. In prison, therefore, they were kept indefinitely. Of these poor priests, whose plebeian names have never figured in any history, everyone either perished in the dungeons which the Emperor had assigned to them, (if they were old men), or else never left them till after his fall Many of them never had any means of guessing the particular reasons which led to their arrest. (Vol. ii. p. 246.)
I regret that my space forbids me to call attention to many details of extreme interest, especially with regard to the relations of the Emperor to the French clergy and laity.
NOTE.—I have been disappointed at not finding such clear information as I desired as to the grounds of the sentence of nullity passed upon the marriage of Josephine. The author says there are documents on this subject to which he has been refused access. They seem, although in this I may be mistaken, to have been made accessible to M. Thiers. One important fact he was the first to establish, viz., that a religious marriage between Napoleon and Josephine was celebrated by Cardinal Fesch the night before the Coronation at Notre Dame. The question is whether there were any real grounds for pronouncing that marriage null. The great fact to prove that there must have been such grounds is that M. Emery, a man far above suspicion, delivered his opinion against the validity of the marriage. His reasons he did not state. The author says that Napoleon was so inconceivably shameless as to desire that the sentence of nullity should be grounded upon his having with-holden his consent. It is difficult to suppose that other grounds would not be found were all the documents accessible. They may have been connected with a subject at which the author only hints in reference to the marriage of Louis Bonaparte with Hortense Beauharnais, and with the anger of Louis when it was proposed that the eldest son of that marriage should be declared presumptive heir to the Emperor, which he refused to sanction, as it would give colour to reports already existing as to the birth of that child.