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Catholic Secular Literature

Brownson's Quarterly Review, July, 1849

Art. IV.  Spirit Sculpture; or the Year before Confirmation. By Enna Duval. Philadelphia : James Fullerton. 1849.  24mo.   pp. 166.

Our readers will perhaps remember, that, some time since, we expressed our decided disapprobation of the greater part of modern novels, and especially of a certain class of so-called Catholic novels, with which, for a moment, it seemed that our community was to be inundated. Our censures were far from being received in the spirit in which they were offered ; and we were charged with being invidious, one-sided, bigoted, and ultra-Catholic, though what ultra-Catholic means, or what sort of an animal it is, we are sure, is more than we know. The Catholic authors censured appear to have taken it for granted that we intended to condemn all works which make use of fiction as a medium of amusement or instruction ; and one gentleman, who had written the longest and heaviest, if not the best, novel of the class specially disapproved, opened a fire upon us in the newspapers, applied to us sundry uncouth epithets, and proved to his own satisfaction, we presume, that we were certainly erroneous, if not, indeed, heretical ; for Nathan the Prophet used allegory, and our Lord himself spake in parables ! It is true, we limited our censures to a special class of works ; it is true, also, that, while we censured that class, we praised another class, in which fiction is employed with great effect as a medium both of instruction and amusement ; but that counted for nothing, for readers who are one-sided, and averse to u nice distinctions," are pretty sure to suppose that authors must be as narrow and undiscriminating as themselves.

It is no easy matter to set the public right, when once it has got a wrong notion concerning your views into its head. It is infallible, and if there has been a blunder, it is, of course, yours, not its. If you finally get it to take in your real meaning, and to understand you correctly, it never conceives that it had misunderstood you, but quietly assumes that you have changed your views, and abandoned your former notions. Nevertheless, on this subject of Catholic novels, we shall try once more to place ourselves before our own public in the light in which we choose to stand, and that, too, without abandoning the ground we have heretofore assumed.

This is a reading age, and reading of some sort Catholics, as well as others, must and will have.  It is idle to suppose that we can satisfy the reading propensity with polemical or ascetic theology.    This may be an evil, but it is one we cannot remove.    Perfection in human affairs is not to be expected; and the greatest fool going is he who imagines himself able to mend alI things,  and who will tolerate no imperfection.   We must do what we can, not always what we would.   Religious are always a small minority, the exception rather than the rule; the great majority are and will be seculars, with secular habits, secular tastes, and and secular pursuits. Our chief attention is due to these, and our principal study must be to enable them to live secular lives without forgetting God, or coming short of salvation; that is, to save men in the world, without compelling them to retire from the world.    The religious state is far higher than the secular, and blessed are they who are called to it; but the secular is not unlawful, and salvation is attainable without forsaking it, and becoming monks, friars, nuns, or sisters.

A slight glance at our Catholic literature-we mean that which is accessible to the mere English student--is sufficient to satisfy us that we have very little literature adapted to seculars, to the great body of the laity living in the world and taking part in its affairs.  The religious are amply provided for.  Our ascetic literature is rich, varied, and extensive.  We have admirable manuals of devotion for all ages and classes, and suitable to all stages and modes of the spiritual life; we have, too, an abundance of theological works, speculative and practical, dogmatical and polemical; but we have no secular literature in English.  The monastery is richly endowed; our secular life has nothing but the crumbs that fall from its table, or teh soup dealt out at its gate.  Secular literature, whether its authors are Catholics or Protestants, breaths, for the most part, an unchristian spirit, and is dangerous to Christian truth and Christian piety.  Here is the literary defect we have wished on various occasions to point out, and which we wish our authors to undertake to remedy.

The novels we censured were intended to remedy this defect,--to supply seculars with amusing, interesting, and instructive reading, which should keep their minds free from error, their hearts protected from impure influences, and both in a healthy state, alike compatible with religious duties and world avocations.  So far as the intention of their authors were concerned, they were admirable; but in execution they were failures, because they were marked by the schism between the spiritual order and the secular, which characterizes all modern society. On their religious side they smelt of the schools or the convent; on their secular side, of unregenerate human nature ; and could as well have been written by pagans, Protestants, or unbelievers, as by Catholics. They lacked unity, failed to temper the two orders together, to blend them in one, or, in other words, to baptize the secular, to infuse into it the Catholic spirit, and yet suffer it to remain secular.

Christianity undoubtedly enjoins self-denial, detachment from society, and contempt of the world ; but morally, not physically. She recognizes and preserves these as physical facts, and the denial enjoined is simply their moral destruction as motives or ends of human activity. Physically considered, they are indispensable. Without the world, there were no society ; without society, no self; and without self, no subject of the Christian law. Hence Christianity suffers us to do no injury to self, to society, or to the world, but, in fact, commands us always and everywhere to seek their true interest, their greatest good,  only as means, not as ends. The cultivation and perfection of our nature, so dwelt upon by the Goethean school, Christianity cannot, in the sense of that school, tolerate,  that is, for the sake of our nature itself; but as the means of comprehending and successfully discharging the duties which devolve on our state in life, she makes them morally obligatory on each one of us to the full extent of our ability and opportunity. The amelioration and perfection of society as an end, or for the sake of society itself, Christianity forbids, and therefore forbids us to sympathize with modern Socialists ; but as a means of enabling all to fulfil the great purpose of their present existence, or to provide for the free and regular operation of the means of securing eternal life, the ultimate destiny of man, she enjoins them, and in no degree permits us to neglect them. She certainly bids us remember always the end for which we have been made, and declares every act sinful, or at least destitute of virtue, that is not referred to God as its ultimate end, and therefore recognizes no duties but duties to God ; yet she makes these duties in almost every case payable to our neighbour, so that, while their glory redounds to God, their benefit inures solely to man and society.
The principle here ..involved is universal in its application. In no case does our religion require ontological or physical destruction. Our ascetic writers, indeed, tell us of the necessity of self-denial, self-crucifixion, self-annihilation ; but their sense is always moral.  What is physical or ontological is the work of the Creator, and all his works are good, very good.  Physically considered, man's nature has not been essentially altered by teh Fall, and is good now as well as when it came from teh hands of the Creator.  We have not a single appetite, passion, or faculty, which, in its being or essential nature,--not in its exercise or manifestation,--did not belong, and which would not be necessary, to us as human beings in a state of innocence.  We did not lose our nature, we did not acquire another nature, by the Fall.  By the Fall we lost the supernatural grace and endowments we before had, by which our nature was maintained in its integrity and we were established in justice, and in consequence of the loss of which our nature became turned away from God, so that we are now naturally averse to him, and need to be converted, that is, turned towards him; but, ontologically considered, taken as pure nature, our nature remained essentially what it had always been, and remains so still, even after conversion or regeneration.  Take, for instance, the appetite for food.  This appetite belongs to us in a state of innocence precisely as much as in a state of sin.  Its satisfaction, that is, the partaking of food, must, then, be a legitimate act; and it would, as we all know, be a sin to starve ourselves to death.  The same is to be said of all our natural appetites.  The crucifixion religion enjoins as a duty--we speak not now of voluntary penances and morifications--is a moral crucifixion.  It forbids us to take food for teh sake of the sensual gratification it affords.  It requires us to eat for the sake of preserving our life and health, and requires us to preserve our life and health, not for their own sake, but for the sake of God.  But in eating and drinking for the end here proposed, and as far as requisite to this end, we experience as much sensual delight as they do who eat and drink for the sake of that delight itself, and perhaps more too.  Hence our Lord says, "Seek first the kingdom of God and his justice, and all these things shall be added to you"; hence he promises that they who lose their life for his sake shall find it, and they who forsake all for him shall be rewarded a hundred-fold even in this life.

Since, then, the self-denial or self-annihilation is moral, not physical, the destruction of nature, and therefore of the secular order which Christianity enjoins, is their destruction simply as ends or motives of our activity, and therefore a destruction perfectly compatible with their physical existence and prosperity.  In the conversion of the individual, grace does not destroy or supersede nature ; it retains and elevates or supernaturalizes it, by infusing into it a higher principle, and enabling it to act to a higher end, as is inferable from the well-known fact that Christianity does not abrogate the law of nature, but confirms it, and makes it an integral part of her own law. The fault of nature, aside from its inadequacy to the supernatural end to which we are destined, is, that, when left to itself, to act without grace, it acts to a subordinate and selfish end, and by so acting carries us away in a direction contrary to that required by religion. Because this is so with nature, it is so with the secular order. What is wanting, then, is not the destruction of the secular, but the change of the direction of its activity ; so that, though it remains, as it always must, below the spiritual, its heart shall always beat in unison with it, and conspire to the same ultimate end.

What we are here to labor for is to conform the secular to the spiritual, so that we may retain it in its natural sphere, and remain seculars, without ceasing to be good Christians, devout Catholics,  not, indeed, by virtue of the secular, but of the spiritual which transforms it, as in conversion our nature itself is transformed by grace, so that our proper acts have a supernatural character and worth. If we overlook or deny this, we, on the one hand, run into infidelity or license, or, on the other, assert that the monastic life or its equivalent is the only normal Christian life, and that we can lawfully be seculars only by dispensation. Religious who withdraw from the world do so, not because it is unlawful to remain in the world, or because they could not have remained in the world without a dispensation, not because salvation is not attainable without entering religion,  but because they have a vocation to do more than is enjoined, to fulfil the Counsels as well as the precepts of the Gospel, and to labor, not only to inherit eternal life, but also for perfection. They voluntarily assume obligations beyond the precepts of the law, and bind themselves to penances and mortifications which exceed what the law exacts, and thus place themselves in a state above that in which we are who have taken upon ourselves no obligations but those which the law imposes. They are, no doubt, highly privileged ; but to require all to be like them, or to treat us poor seculars with food prepared only for them, is only converting in effect the Evangelical Counsels into precepts, and making the road to heaven narrower and more difficult than our Lord himself has made it. It would be not baptizing the secular order, and, by infusing into it the Christian
spirit, Christianizing it, but disowning it altogether, and keeping it always outside of Christianity, and therefore hostile to it.

Undoubtedly, the Christian should always and everywhere aspire to the highest; and he may well fear, if he only aims to get into heaven by the skin of his teeth, that he will not get in at all.  Undoubtedly, exhortations and admonitions to aspire to the highest sanctity should be addressed to all men, to seculars as well as to religious, in such form and manner as the pastor and the spiritual director judge best ; but we must deal with the world as we find it, and consult the practicable as well as the desirable.    By exacting too much, we may get nothing. The bow over-bent is sure to break.    If we furnish to seculars only the spiritual food appropriate to religious, we shall leave them to die of inanition; for that food the state of   their stomachs will not bear.  By insisting on a monastic discipline for seculars, we make them rebel against all spiritual discipline, and  leave them to the operations of unbaptized nature.    Refusing to accept the  secular  in a subordinate  and subservient sphere, we force it, as the condition of its existence, to assert its independence, and to aspire to supremacy.    We thus widen the schism between the spiritual order and the secular, whcih, as we have seen in the foregoing article, is the great evil of all modern society.

The secular order, in its subordinate and subservient sphere, exists by divine right; and within that sphere we have no more right to labor to destroy it, than we have to labor to destroy the spiritual order itself.  We have, on the other hand, no right to assert its independence and supremacy.  It has the right to exist as a servant, no right to exist as a master.  Here are teh two truths which it is always necessary to keep in view.  The recognition of the spiritual alone leads, in effect, to the same result as the recognition of the secular alone; for the secular will always, in spite of us, remain and assert itself; and when not subject to law, it will assert itself without law, or, if need be, against law.  The only way to escape infidelity or licentiousness is, not to demand exclusive spirituality of the mass of manking, but to accept within its sephere the secular, and, by Christianizing, render it not only innocuous, but even serviceable to religion.  We utter nothing new here, and, indeed, only advocate what a class of writers we have for years warred against really have in their minds, if they did but udnerstand themselves.  The only difference between them and us is, that they secularize the spiritual, while we would spiritualize the secular; or rather, they seek a sort of alliance or compromise between the two orders, while we allow no compromise, and seek to temper together the two orders in the unity of life, as soul and body are united in one living man. They would bring religion down to the secular, and take from the integrity oi the spiritual, subtract from its sublimity and universality, while we would leave, as in duty bound, the spiritual m Its integrity, its sublimity, and its universality, and simply conform the secular to it without destroying it. It is not that we would have less of the secular than they, but we would have it under more orthodox and Christian conditions.

One of the most powerful instruments of bringing about the unity we contend for is literature, and in this we agree perfectly with the authors of the Catholic novels we have censured.    We censured them because they did not furnish the kind of literature we needed.   On one side they give us religion, but religion that excludes the secular order;  on the other side, they give us the secular order independent of religion.     I heir religion is for religious,  their secularity  for the   infidel  and licentious ; and instead of tempering the two orders together by infusing the spiritual into the secular, they only alternately sacrifice one order to the other, now the secular to the spiritual, and now the spiritual to the secular.    Here is their defect, a defect which proceeds, not from the intention of their authors, but from the duality which introduces antagonism into their own life,  from   the  schism   which, unsuspected by them, runs through their own interior moral and intellectual world, sundering the two orders, and maintaining them in perpetual hostility one to the other.    What we want is a literature which is the exponent of the harmony in the mind and heart of the two orders, which is adapted to the secular in its subordinate and subservient sphere, and which, without any formal dogmatizing or express ascetic dissertations, exhortations, or admonitions, shall excite the secular only under the  authority of religion, and move it only in directions that religion approves, or at least does not disapprove.
We are far from pretending that works pertaining to a literature of this sort should supersede dogmatical, controversial, or ascetic works, that they are works of the highest order, or even works that., are always and everywhere needed. We hold, of course, that the religious state is higher than the secular, and that general literature is a temporary and accidental want.    But here and now, taking into consideration the age and country, such works are much needed and would be of very high utility.     They would amuse, interest, instruct, cultivate in accordance with truth the mind and the affections, elevate  the  tone of the community, and, when they did  not directly promote virtue, they would still be powerful to preserve and defend innocence,often a primary duty.     1 hey would weed out from the modern world what it still retains ot mediaeval barbarism, advance true civilization, open to thousands a source of rational enjoyment, and preserve a healthy and vigorous state of the public mind and heart.    In a word, they would contribute to what we need, a Christian secular culture,  perhaps   the   greatest want of  our times,  and   that which would more than   any one   thing else  the grace of God supposed aid, not only in preserving the in those who have it, but in winning to it those who now have it not. Purely spiritual culture is amply provided for ; but owing to the barbarism of past ages, and the incredulity and license of the last century and the present, secular culture in unison with the Christian spirit is, and ever has been, only partially provided for, and but imperfectly attained.     It seems to us that the best way for our Catholic writers  not  theologians by profession, and whose works come and must come under the head of general literature - to serve the cause of truth and virtue is to devote themselves, not to controversial or ascetic works, of which we have enough, but to the Christian secular culture of the age, or, in a word, to the advancement of Christian civilization.     They need not  aspire   to   teach Catholic theology ; let it satisfy them to breathe into literature the true Catholic spirit, and', as far as possible, inform the secular world itself with the genuine Christian life.

The field is ample, and genius and talent can never be at a loss for materials.    Undoubtedly, the composition of such works as we suggest will require genius, talent, learning, long and patient study, as well as profound and devout meditation ; but we cannot understand wherefore that should be an objection     Nothing great or good is ever produced on any other conditions, and what is neither great nor good in its order we do  not want ;   we  have enough  of scribblers and   drivellers. No man should open his mouth in public unless he has something to say, and something, too, which the public ought to hear     We know no necessity there may be that every one who can bring together a mass of high-sounding words, or round or polish a period, should turn author, and send forth to the great annoyance of good sense and good taste, his wordy or bis polished no-meanings.     Many  a good man, many a  worthy man, who would have made an excellent hodman, shoemaker, or carpenter, has been spoiled by his ambition to be an author, or at least a writer for the newspapers.    Alas ! the newspapers have much to answer for.    Had it not been for, them, we ourselves probably should have gone through life a respectable  mechanic.    Indeed, many of our so called able editors themselves are more at home at the case than at the desk, and far better at clipping than at inditing.    Even with good brains, no man can succeed well as an author without discipline, without  cultivation.     How, then, shall the poor  wight succeed who has neither brains nor culture ?    Let no such wight attempt authorship on either a large or a small scale.

But, nevertheless, let no one despair.     Genius and talent are more widely diffused than is commonly pretended,     They are both susceptible of growth, and where there is a firm will and a noble purpose, those who promise little in the beginning by persevering effort may finally attain to excellence.   All men are born helpless infants, and are subsequently what they are made or make themselves.    Bulwer, no great philosopher, but a keen observer, shows in his novels two characters, Alice and Fanny, regarded in childhood as partially idiotic, subsequently expanding under the strong passion of love into not only amiable, but highly intellectual, women.   His explanation oi the lact we reject, but the fact itself we can believe was taken from actual life.   The love did not expand the intellect; it simply concentrated the will, and enabled it to act with firmness and vigor. Feebleness of intellect is usually the effect of feebleness oi will.    The intellectual faculties are present and good enough in most men, but the will is too weak and inconstant to apply them with the requisite steadiness and perseverance.     Whatever strong passion or sentiment, demanding lor its gratification the exercise of intellect,  possesses  a  person,  tends to strengthen the will, to give it the force and constancy necessary to call into play the intellectual powers which were previously dormant or dissipated  by being  left  to themselves. Alice  and  Fanny have great susceptibility,  great quickness and strength of feeling, but feeble wills.     They are infantile, and have^no self-subsistence, no force of character, till  the powerful passion of love seizes them.    Then they suddenly unfold, develop unexpected intellectual power, because then, subjected by an invincible motive, they apply it with intensity, energy, constancy, and perseverance.    The principle is not applicable to the passion of love alone.   Men weak and inconstant in all else are often remarkably steady, persevering, and acute in all matter, of business.  Eminent Saints,   estimable for their genius and  learning,  had been dismissed  in  youth from school for their incapacity.    The love of God became with them a ruling passion,   made them strong,  energetic, firm, constant, and then they showed to all men that they had no lack of intellect.    The same thing is evinced by the fact, that some men write and speak admirably under excitement, who can hardly speak or write at all when unexcited.     They do not want intellect, but they want the force of will to use it. Wherever there is a noble purpose, a firm will, a fixed resolution, genius and talent never fail.

The feebleness and frivolousness of modern literature are due to no deterioration of men's intellectual powers, which are as great and as good now as ever they were, but to the want of force and constancy of will, which itself is owing to the neglect of severe studies, the want of true philosophical discipline, and of high and noble aims.    We have, in consequence of the ruin of philosophy commenced by Descartes and completed by the modern French and German philosophers  had our minds brought down from the higher order of speculative truths, and turned outward upon merely material and sensible objects, in which  there  is nothing to   demand   and   nothing to suggest noble aims   or  lofty  purposes.  The good the the will seeks is low and trifling, and no grand and mighty  passion seizes   the soul,  and   concentrates  and  employs all its energies.    Hence we see everywhere weakness and frivolity, imbecility and inconstancy, and hear from the depths of all souls a low wail for something they have not, and which may prove itself adequate to their inborn nobility.

If, then, the order of literature we are contending for does demand genius and talent for its creation, so much the better. It presents a high and noble aim, demands a lofty purpose, and with a strong will and a firm resolution that shrink from no labor, pause before no obstacle, and only gather force from opposition, we can easily answer to its calls. Natures kinder to all men than we commonly imagine, and few there are who cannot, with God's blessing, if they strive wih a strong and  constant will, form  their own characters and attain to more than respectability, if they choose.  To will is always in our power, for will is always free.  Will strongly, will nobly, will firmly, will constantly, and fear not but you will execute, in due time, bravely and successfully.

The aim of the literature we demand is not positive or strictly scientific instruction in religion and morals. The purpose is to cultivate the secular element of individual and social life,  to press that element into the service of religion and morality, on the principle that the Church makes use of poetry and music in celebrating her Divine Offices, or art in the construction and decoration of her altars and temples. The great artist, if he is to aid religion, if he is to subserve her influence by removing the obstacles which the flesh interposes, subduing the passions, and setting the affections to the keynote of devotion, must, it is true, understand his religion well, and in some sense be himself eminently religious ; he must also, if he would be great even as an artist, whatever the sphere or tendency of his art, be a man of genuine science ; for art is the expression of the true under the form of the beautiful, and it is obvious that a man cannot express, under the form of the beautiful, or any other form, what he does not apprehend. Here, perhaps, is the secret of the present low state of art. There is no want of artistic aspiration, skill, or effort, yet throughout the world art languishes, and no great master makes his appearance ; because the aspirants do not qualify themselves for success by genuine scientific culture, do not rise to the clear, distinct, and vivid apprehension of the higher order of truth, the eternal verities of things, and there obtain a noble and worthy ideal. The most that art, in our days, can do, is to copy external nature, paint flowers, or babble of brooks, woods, and green fields ; for we have no science, no philosophy, and even our faith is languid when it is not wholly extinct, and seizes nothing firmly, vividly. Nevertheless, though the artist must be well instructed, be a great theologian, philosopher, and moralist, his province is not to express truth under the form of science, but, as we have said, under that of the beautiful. In a degree, the province of the literature we are contemplating is and should be the same. Instructive it should be, by all means ; but as Beethoven's Symphonies, Hayden's Masses, or Mozart's Requiem are instructive,  instructive by the moral power they excite, the lofty thoughts they suggest, the tone and direction they impart to the whole interior man.

Or, if more direct instruction is aimed at, it should be of that general kind, and in those general departments of knowledge, which are open to men who may be widely apart as to their special views.    The Catholic cultivator of secular literature should, of course, be always governed, influenced, by his religion, and should always take care not to utter a single sentiment not in perfect harmony with his Catholic faih and morals ; but his aim should not be the direct exposition or propagation of his faith, any more than it is when he is cultivaling his field, attending to his merchandise, or taking part in the political  affairs of his country.    He must not affect to be the theological doctor, the missionary, or the spiritual director.    He must remember  that  he is a layman, or at least is to act here as a layman   not as  a professional man.    He may instruct, but it is with  regard to those matters which are properly within the province laymen.    He may even be controversial; but let he controversy be on matters where he may carry with him the suffrages of all men who recognize the law of nature or the authority of natural reason,--where he may have intelligent and well-disposed men, who are not of his communion, for readers and for friends.  There is a vast field in which we can labor, a field which is our own, but in which we may have for fellow laborers many who, in the immediate province of religion, would be against us. Not that we are to make any concession to them or to go out of our way to please them,- far from it; but is is lawful and profitable to bring out the truth which they and we hold or may hold in common.  We must follow out our own principles, and should never court or seek to gain them; but if, in following out our own principles on literary, moral, historical, or political subjects, we gain them thus far, it is an advantage for us, if not for them,that we are under no olbigation to forego. Thus Lingard, in writing the Histoiy of England, did well to keep his character as an historian, and to waive in that work his character as a Catholic doctor.  His business in his work was to write true history, not theology.  If the truth of history redounded to the credit of his Church, all well and good; so far the defence of his Church was legitimate; but beyond that he had nothing to say on the subject.  We wish he had been always mindful of this, and had suffered the theologican to appear less often; for then he would have avoided certain judgments not called for by the purpose of his history, not essential to the full and impartial statement of historic truth, and which, however pleasant they may be to Protestants, are not a little painful to Catholics.

As to the form Catholic literature among us should assume, there need be no controversy.    We make no objection to the novel as a  literary form, and it has much to recommend it. The strong man, of good taste, always avoids whatever is singular or eccentric, and conforms to the fashion and tastes of his age and country as far as he can do so without sacrificing truth and  simplicity.     The novel is a popular form, and may  be adopted  by those who have received the proper culture, and entertain just views, with advantage.    Perhaps there is, just at the moment, no literary form which promises more advantage to the Catholic secular writer than the historical novel.    What might not a Catholic of genius, talent, and learning have made of such a subject as Rienzi,   Harold, Warwick "the  kingmaker," the destruction of Pompeii, Attila, Wat Tyler, Van Artevelde, Darnley, or many others  seized upon by English novelists?    He would have had open to him all the sources  of interest which were open to Protestant authors, besides others peculiar to himself.    He could have been at once true to nature, to history, and to religion and morals, and even without trenching upon the  province of theological controversy.    In Rienzi he could have shown us the impotence of genius, learning, and zeal to restore an order of things which have  passed away, or to establish a political and social order incompatible with the ideas, manners, and customs of the age or country.  In Harold he could have traced the effects on civilization in England, on the one hand, of the barbaric and heathen invasion by the Danes, and,  on the other, of the partially  civilized and Christianized Normans.     In " The Last Days of Pompeii," he could have introduced real Christians in the place of the wild and uncouth fanatics imagined by Bulwer, delineated the corrupting effects of paganism, and sketched the amelioration of morals and manners which everywhere followed the introduction of Christianity.   In Wat Tyler, or in Jack Cade, he might have portrayed the barbarous  state of society which resulted from the establishment of the Northern barbarians on the ruins of Graeco-Roman  civilization,  the sufferings of the enslaved masses, the arrogance and cruelty of the feudal nobility, and at the same time given by way of example solemn admonitions against the folly of attempting to reform society on pantheistic, feociahstic, and agrarian principles, the madness of an insurrection of the  poor against  the rich, of subjects   against legitimate sovereigns.     History,  indeed,  is   full of passages which are replete with instruction for the present, and which the enemies of truth and morals and social order have seized upon and perverted to their base and destructive purposes. Why cannot Catholics seize upon them, and, without perverting them, use them use them in the cause of truth, justice, wisdom, and social order? Are we less learned, less activ, less energetic than our enemies ? Can we not do as much in the cause of truth as they do in the cause of error ? In fact, we sometimes half doubt it, when we see large Catholic populations controlled, enslaved, by a handful of radicals, as we have seen in France and Italy.

Indeed, we feel a little indignant when we see  as we did in the old French Revolution, more than twenty millions of nominal Catholics subiected to  be Reign of Terror, instituted and upheld bv a small and contemptible faction, not numbering a twentieth of the whole population; or as we do two millions and a half in the Papal States without sufficient energy or force of character to free themselves from the despotism of a contemptible radical mob, numbering at best only a few thousands; or even in Catholic states, Jews, heretics, and infidels at the head of affairs; and we confess we cannot but think that the storm that is sweeping over them is but a just judgment of Almighty God uon them for their imbecility and sluggishness. It is time that the friends of truth try to prove themselvesmen, and to take the lead in affairs ;  and we are sure that Catholic secular writers in our day can render no better service even to religion than to possess themselves of the secular literature of the age, and to make it speak the language of truth, of wisdom, of moral majesty,--not in faint, timid tones, or feeble, apologetic whispers, that will be lost in the infidel, Socialistic, and revolutionary din of the times, but in free, bold, manly tones, that will ring through all men's hearts, and recall them to their senses, to think and to act.  Resist the Devil and he will flee from you; show yourself afraid of him, cower and crouch before him, and you are gone.  Pray, trust in God, by all means; but be also active, strong, energetic men, quick to perceive and fearless to perform what duty commands.

Of the little work, the title of which we have quoted at the head of this article, we have not much to say.    It is a quiet, domestic tale, intended for  children  preparing for the sacrament of Confirmation.  It shows fine taste, very considerable powers, and much facility on the part of the author, and gives us promise of far greater and better things from the same source hereafter.  We like its design, its sweet spirit, and its healthy tone.  The author has a ready eye for teh beautiful, a keen perception of character, and, with a little more maturity and practice, will be able to give us specimens of the domestic novel that will rank favorably by the side of Lady Fullerton's Grantley Manor, which, but for the  mistake of mixing  up Protestants and Catholics together, would have been a model of its class.    We should have  been better pleased with Miss Duval's book, if she had left out the excellent Protestant lady she has introduced, and also if she had been less theological. In her own proper department, that of the domestic novel, she writes admirably, with great truth and beauty ; but her theological attainments are not precisely those we look for in a theological professor.    We do not mean this as a censure, for she everywhere maintains the modesty which becomes her sex, and professedly uses, in explaining Catholic doctrine, works which she could have no reason to distrust; and the errors into which she is betrayed are the errors of those she has innocently followed.    Yet, with the exception of three pages (152- 154), which  contain  what we believe all theologians on  a critical examination will agree with us is  unsound  doctrine, we  like Spirit Sculpture very much, and cordially commend  it to the Catholic  public.      We assure   the  excellent author that  we shall be happy to meet her again in a larger and more elaborate work, and risk nothing in promising her beforehand the most gratifying success.