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Literary Policy of the Church of Rome

From Brownson’s Quarterly Review for January, 1845

The journal, the title of which we have placed at the head of this article, is the organ of the Episcopal Methodists of this country, and is conducted with considerable spirit and ability. If not remarkable for profound erudition and sever logic, it is at least quite commendable for its rhetoric; and if we miss in its pages the simplicity and unction of the earlier Methodists, we still find its papers characterized by a liveliness and freshness which contrast favorably with the more elaborate essays in religious periodicals of much higher pretensions. It is thoroughly Protestant, and holds the benighted Papists in due horror. Its number for July last contains an article against the Catholic Church, which, for its hearty hatred of Catholicity, and its vituperative character, if not for its strength and energy of expression, would have gladdened the heart of even Luther himself. Although the article is nothing but a string of false charges, or misrepresentations, from beginning the end, we have thought it would not be amiss to notice it, because its subject is one of great importance, on which the church of Christ is perpetually traduced by its enemies and persecutors.

"It is proposed in this paper," says the Methodist Quarterly Review, "to exhibit the proof that the church of Rome has ever waged a deadly warfare upon the liberty of the press, and upon literature, and that her expurgatory and prohibitory policy is perpetuated to the present hour, not only against the truth of revelation, but equally against the truth in nature and in science, both learning and religion have been the doomed victims of her perennial despotism." – p. 348.

The analysis of this passage gives us four distinct charges against the church of Rome, namely: 1. Hostility to the Liberty of the Press; 2. Hostility to Literature; 3. Hostility to Science; 4. Hostility to Revelation and Religion.

The first three of these charges, even if well founded, are urged with an ill grace by a Methodist. If we have been rightly informed, the Methodist press is itself under the strict surveillance of the bishops and elders, and the Methodist people have, we believe, great scruples about purchasing books, even of their own denomination, when not published by their own book society, which monopolizes the principal part of their publishing business. We even remember the time when the Methodist ministers were proverbial for their ignorance, and distinguished for their contempt for human science and learning. A better feeling is now, we are happy to admit, beginning to obtain among them, and the denomination has succeeded in establishing a few very respectable schools of its own; but we have not yet heard of a Methodist in this country of any remarkable literary attainments, and we are quite sure that no Methodist, clergyman or layman, has as yet made any valuable or permanent contribution either to literature or to science. It betrays, then, a great want of modesty, on the part of a Methodist editor, to bring charges of hostility either to literature or science against any portion of the community, however true in itself such a charge might be. We are commanded to cast the splinter out of our own eye, before we undertake to pull the mote out of our brother’s eye. But this by the way. We proceed to take up and consider, in their order, each of the four charges preferred.

1. The Methodist Quarterly Review charges the church of Rome with having ever waged a deadly warfare upon the liberty of the press, and promises to exhibit the proofs which sustain it; but these proofs it seems to have forgotten. The editor has apparently presumed his readers prepared in advance to believe any thing which can be said against the Roman Church, and therefore ready to take the assertion itself for proof. He does not adduce a single fact to prove his assertion, and, more than all that, he cannot. We deny his assertion, and defy him to lay his finger on a single act of the Roman Catholic Church, which indicates the least hostility on her part to a free press. He tells us, and he enters into a ling and labored argument to prove, that the church is now what she always was, and always was what she is now. For this we thank him. We not only concede, but we contend, that she is now what she always was, and always was what she is now, and always will be to the end of time. We hold the church to be immutable, like Him whom she represents. Will it be pretended, that, prior to the sixteenth century, the church, as the church, ever waged war upon the liberty of the press? Prior to the invention of printing, there was no press, in the modern sense of the term; how could the church, then, be said to be hostile to its freedom? Is the Methodist reviewer acquainted with the writings of the fathers and monks of the middle ages? Does he find in them any want of freedom of thought or of expression? Prior to the invention of printing, the office of the modern press was mainly supplied by the pulpit. Did ever press speak freer than the old Catholic pulpit, when the humble priest dared address the monarch on his throne as a man and a sinner, and the cowed monk feared not to reprove even the pope himself? But the church has not changed, and therefore, if it was not hostile to the freedom of the press then, it is not now.

Printing itself was invented before the reformation, in good old Catholic times, and by a Catholic. Its glory belongs to Catholics, not to Protestants. And who were the first to welcome it, and to sustain the first printers? The dignitaries of the Catholic Church. The first printers in Italy, companions of Faust, were received and protected by the pope. The earliest patrons of Caxton, the first printer in England, were Thomas Milling, bishop of Hereford, and the Abbot of Westminster Abbey, and it was in Westminster Abbey that he established his first printing office. It was by the aid of the bishop of Holun, that Mathieson was enabled to introduce printing into Iceland, and whoever knows any thing of the subject knows, that the church of Rome has always encouraged literature and the free multiplication of books.

But the Methodist Quarterly Review adduces the instance of expurgatory indexes etc., as proof of hostility on the part of the church of Rome to the liberty of the press. The existence of such indexes we of course admit; but so far as they concern merely the pope’s own temporal dominions, they come not within the scope of our present argument. The temporal court of Rome is to be judged the same as any other court, and the church is no more responsible for its acts than it is for the acts of the court of France, of Spain, or even of England. The expurgatory indexes concern us, as members of the Roman Catholic Church, only so far as they are designed for the instruction of the faithful throughout the world. But what, after all, are these expurgatory indexes, about which we hear so much, and which are such frightful monsters to our Protestant brethren? They are simply matters of discipline, prepared by the highest pastoral authority in the church,- not to encroach on the liberty of the press, for no book is likely to find a place in the index, if not published,- but to guard the faithful against the destructive effects of the licentiousness of the press. This is all.

Nobody, we presume, no matter of what religious persuasion, can recommend to all persons the indiscriminate reading of all manner of books and tracts which may be published. There are books, and books even not within some value when read by persons prepared to profit by them, which no prudent parent would put into the hands of his children. It is not every book that is suitable for every person’s reading. A full-grown man, well grounded in his principles, and strengthened and confirmed by divine grace, may perhaps read without injury any publication; but what Christian father would not tremble to find his son, some eighteen or twenty years of age, reading Paine’s Age of Reason, Volney’s Ruins, or Baron d’Holbach’s Systeme de la Nature? Or what Christian mother would willingly see her daughter reading Wolstonecraft’s Rights of Woman, or the novels of Paul de Kock, Sir Bulwer Lytton, George Sand, or Eugene Sue, before experience, and maturity of thought and sentiment, had secured her against the subtle poison they contain? Books are companions, and bad books are as dangerous as any other species of companions. Evil communications corrupt good manners, and we may be corrupted by reading bad books as well as by frequenting bad company. Everybody knows this, and every father of a family, if he deserves at all the name, has virtually an index expurgatorius, which he does his best to enforce on all entrusted to his care. All admit its importance, so far as concerns children or young persons. Would the Methodist bishops and elders tolerate Universalist, Unitarian, Papistical, or infidel books in their Sunday-school libraries, or recommend them to the members of their flock for family reading? Do not the American Sunday-school Union alter, expurgate, or amend the books they publish, to make them conform to their standard of orthodoxy and propriety? Do not the laws of Massachusetts, New York, nay, of every state in the Union that has a public school system, institute an expurgatory index, by prohibiting all sectarian books from being used in the schools, or introduced into the common school libraries? And so far as relates to the common schools in this commonwealth, what is our board of education, with its learned secretary, but a "congregation of the Index"?

In all communities there are numbers who are children as long as they live. Every clergyman, no matter of what denomination, can point to not a few in his congregation, who are by no means qualified for reading with profit, or without detriment, all manner of books or publications which may be issued; and we know no clergyman that does not use his utmost influence to prevent the members of his flock from reading such works as in his judgment may prove injurious to them. Indeed, we see not how he could answer it to his conscience and to his God, if he should not. Is he not, by virtue of his office, set as an overseer, to watch over, guard, and promote their spiritual welfare? Our early acquaintance with the Methodists, with whom in good measure we were brought up, has led us to believe that their ministers are by no means remiss in this duty. Indeed, all the sects, unless we must except Unitarians and Universalists, do their best to prevent their respective members from reading publications hostile to their peculiar tenets. The Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, and Congregationalists, are as strict in this respect as Catholics themselves. Each denomination has an expurgatory index, as much as the church of Rome,- only it does not publish it,- and an index equally exclusive, to say the least. What, then, but rank hypocrisy, is this outcry against the Catholic Church? Wherein is her peculiar offence? Is it in the fact, that she publishes her index for the guidance of the faithful throughout the world, and does not profess one thing and do another?

But, as we have said, the index is merely an affair of discipline, and simply points out the books not approved by the church, which are not sound in the faith, or which cannot be read without danger to piety or morals. Yet the reading of the books placed in the index is not absolutely prohibited; it is simply remitted to the discretion of the bishops or pastors, and may be allowed to any one, when any good reason can be assigned why it should be.

But we are told, or may be told, that the church of Rome establishes a rigid censorship of the press. Not the church of Rome, but the court of Rome; and not for the church universal, but for the pope’s temporal dominions. How rigid this censorship may be we know not, nor does it concern us, who are not temporal subjects of the pope, to inquire. The pope, as temporal prince, is an independent sovereign, and is at liberty to govern his subjects in his own way, as much so as any other temporal prince. But it must be remembered that this question of the censorship of the press has two sides, or at least has something to be said in its favor; for there is no country on earth that tolerates the unlimited freedom of the press. There are some Protestant countries in Europe,- Prussia, for instance,- which subject the press to the most rigid censorship; so rigid, that the censors have been known to erase the word liberty, as "treasonable." England, indeed, boasts that her press is free; she establishes no censorship; and yet she restrains its liberty by treating as blasphemous libels the publications which contain certain doctrines. George Houston,- at present, we believe, one of the editors of the New York Herald,- was imprisoned two years and a half in London, fro publishing an infidel work, entitled Ecce Homo. Robert Taylor, also, was long imprisoned in Oakham jail for writing certain infidel works. We, in this country, claim to have a free press; and yet Abner Kneeland, a few years since, was imprisoned in Boston for writing a certain newspaper paragraph; and one knows Dr. Knowlton was also, a short time before, imprisoned for publishing a certain infamous book. There are publications which no civilized people can tolerate, and which no Christian people can suffer to circulate freely. All have their index expurgatorius. Some place more works in it, others fewer. The question between them is not one of principle, but one of more or less. The only difference in principle, too, between those nations which profess to have a free press, and those which have a censorship, is, that the latter endeavor to prevent the mischief from being done, while the former only seek to punish the authors of it, after they have done it. Which is the wiser course we shall not undertake to decide. But one thing we will say, the licentiousness of the press should alarm every one who regards the moral and spiritual health of the people. The floods of obscene and corrupting novels and other cheap publications, which have of late inundated the country, are not to pass off without leaving terrible waste and destruction behind; and unless the moral portion of the community, especially the clergy, in the bosom of their several flocks, use their utmost endeavors, and exert all their pastoral authority, to prevent these works from being read by the young, the unsuspecting, and the impressionable, the most frightful corruption of morals and manners will soon spread over the whole land. The Methodist Quarterly Review, instead of bringing false charges against the church of Rome, would do a much greater service to God and the country, if it would use its influence to guard our young community from the blasting effects of the recent licentiousness of the Boston and New York presses. Here is an object worthy of all its holy zeal.

But the Methodist Quarterly Review seeks to establish its proposition by alleging that the church of Rome wages a deadly war upon the liberty of mind and conscience. That the church of Rome teaches, that conscience needs to be enlightened by the word of God before it can be followed as a safe guide, we freely admit; and that she also teaches, that private judgment in interpreting the word of God or articles of the faith should yield to the church, is by no means denied. Every Catholic believes the Holy Catholic Church infallible and authoritative. He believes that Christ has instituted a ministry which is competent to teach by authority, and competent because Christ is always with it, enabling it to teach the truth, and preventing it from teaching error. So far as submission to this authority is a restriction on freedom of mind, the Catholic Church undoubtedly restricts it. But this no Catholic feels to be any restriction at all; for to him the decision of the church is the highest conceivable evidence of truth; and it therefore guides him to the truth, instead of restraining him from embracing it. He feels it his blessed privilege to have an authority which cannot err, to decide for him, and set him right, where his own reason might lead him astray.

But must not this yielding to authority make one a mental slave, destroy all mental vigor, and tend to reduce or retain one in intellectual imbecility, in the most brutish ignorance? Certainly, if the authority be human, or that of any one of our sects. The full force of this reply can be understood by none but a Catholic. The Catholic Church is divine, it is a supernatural institution, and supernaturally sustained and protected. It teaches all truth, that is, all truth pertaining to religion and morals. It decides positively on no other subject. It leaves, then, necessarily, the human mind free to discover and defend the truth on all subjects; and both truth and error on all subjects but the fundamental principles of religion and morals. Is not this liberty enough to satisfy and sober friend of freedom? If you run athwart these fundamental principles, you are unquestionably arrested; but why arrested? Because the church will not tolerate your truth? Not at all. For all truth is homogenous, and therefore, so long as you follow the truth, you cannot run athwart her decisions. You are arrested, then, because the church cannot tolerate your error. You are free to advocate all truth, but not free to advocate all error. Here is all the restriction placed upon you; and surely this leaves ample room for the freest thought, and the fullest investigation of all subjects.

Btu any such restriction, imposed by any one of the sects, would, we grant, have the effect supposed; because no sect is catholic, that is, no sect teaches all truth, and the authority of the sect is confessedly human. There are many religious truths which the Methodists, for instance, do not accept; and they have, moreover, no promise of the continued presence of the Holy Ghost to lead them into all truth. They do not even pretend that their decisions on matters of faith are the result of any but human wisdom. In subjecting us to them, they would subject us to human authority in matters of faith and conscience, which is the grossest tyranny; they would also debar us from entertaining and defending all truth not embraced within their defective symbols. We should then be really reduced to slavery, and brutish ignorance and mental imbecility would quickly follow. The government of God is freedom, that of man is tyranny.

But why all this clamor against the Roman Catholic Church as to freedom of mind? To hear our sectarians, one would think that they were the friends of freedom of thought and conscience. They talk of the right of private judgment, as if they really recognized it, and suffered every man to be his own judge of what is or is not true. All delusion! There is no religious denomination on earth, that allows unlimited freedom of mind, or the unrestricted right of private judgment. The Protestant rule is deceptive and self-contradictory. All Protestant sects professedly recognize the right of private judgment, but all in the same breath deny it. They affirm the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the word of God, and the sole rule of faith and practice. Now, here is an authority set up at once above private judgment; for no private judgment is permitted to decide against the word of God.

But "private judgment is free to interpret the word of God." No such thing. The written word does not interpret itself, and is no rule till interpreted. Each sect puts its own interpretation on it; and that interpretation each member of the sect must accept or acquiesce in, on pain of heresy and excommunication. The Methodists excommunicate from their communion the member who lapses into what they call heresy, and so do all the other sects. We ourselves, many years ago, were excommunicated, and without either a hearing or a notice, by the Universalists, for having embraced views not quite in harmony with theirs. Even the Unitarians, who have, with us, no written creed, if they do not formally disfellowship the member of their denomination, who interprets the word of God differently from the interpretation which they tacitly adopt, excommunicate virtually, by turning the cold shoulder, by refusing ministerial intercourse, by nods, winks, hints, suggestions, private denunciations, etc. Is it not so? That it is, many of our friends have had experimental proof. Nothing is more false than this hypocritical cant of Protestants about the right of private judgment. It means ever only that "you are free to judge that what I believe is true, and what I disbelieve is false." Nothing more. Every Protestant sect has persecuted those of its members who attempted to exercise practically the right of private judgment, and in every country where any one Protestant sect has been strong enough to establish its faith by law, it has done so. The first instance on record, we believe, of absolute civil liberty in regard to religious faith, is the Catholic colony of Maryland, founded by Lord Baltimore; and the Protestants no sooner gained the ascendancy in that colony than they established the Protestant religion by law. The Puritans were notorious for their intolerance, and we have heard of their banishing, branding, imprisoning, and hanging persons, for presuming to exercise the right of private judgment. The Anglican Church has been from the first a persecuting church, and her history in this respect is the blackest page in the whole history of humanity; and even the evangelical bishop of the diocese of Vermont has recently proposed the establishment of a council, one part of whose duty it shall be to exercise a censorship of the press. Surely, Protestants, who are notorious the world over for their intolerance and their hostility to freedom of thought and conscience, should not talk about mental slaves and the liberty of the press. Let them give some proofs that they themselves comprehend and love even the first elements of freedom, before they bring railing accusations against others.

2. But, continues the reviewer, "the church of Rome has ever waged a deadly war upon literature." We do not know precisely in what sense the reviewer here uses the term, church of Rome; but we presume he will not object to our understanding by the church of Rome, the whole Latin Church, for at least one thousand years next preceding the reformation, and all particular churches which have since continued in communion with the see of Rome, and to acknowledge the pope as the visible head of the church. The charge, then, is, that the whole Latin Church, from the sixth century to the sixteenth, and the whole Roman Catholic Church since, as the Church, has waged an unceasing and deadly warfare upon literature.

Now, the reviewer not only makes this charge, but he declares it the design of his paper "to exhibit the proofs" of it. Well, what proofs dies he exhibit? Not a proof,- not the shallow of a proof; nor does he even attempt to bring any proof, but the assertion of hostility to a free press, which we have proved to be groundless. If the church has ever waged this war upon literature, how happens it that the reviewer can adduce no decree of council, universal, national, or provincial; no papal bull; nor, at least, some sermon, charge, letter, or other writing, of some cardinal or bishop, condemning literature and literary pursuits? It is strange, if this war has been unceasingly waged for at least thirteen hundred years, all over Europe, and in the face of all the world, that our reviewer can find no proof of the fact, but an unfounded assertion, and an unwarrantable inference from certain expurgatory indexes. Since he can find none, it is fair to presume none exists.

The simple truth is, as every one knows, who is at all acquainted with the literary history of Christendom, that the Catholic Church has been, from the first, the warm friend and generous patron of literature. A charge more false, more directly in the face and eyes of well-known truth, it is impossible to invent; and our Methodist friend, if he had knowledge enough of literature to be entitled even to take the sacred name upon his lips, would not have dared to make the statement he has; for we are not willing to consider him one of those who are given up "to believe a lie that they may be damned."

The early fathers of the church, St. Justin Martyr, Clemens Alexdrinus, Origen, Tertullian, St. Basil, Lactantius, St. John Chrysostom, the Gregories, St. Jerome, St. Augustine, and others, were not only the most learned men of their times, but can well take rank with the most learned men of the palmist days of Greece and Rome. They loved learning, and encouraged it by both precept and example; and have always been held in the highest honor in the Roman Catholic Church, and, with one or two exceptions, of almost apostolic authority. It is idle to pretend that a church which reveres these noble and enlightened men as the glory of their race, and studies diligently their works, is hostile to literature. To a Christian heart and understanding, literature does not consist mainly in an acquaintance with the poets, comedians, orators, and philosophers of pagan Greece and Rome. The Catholic has never condemned the study of these, but he has always felt that the Christian literature of the early ages of the church was richer, and more befitting a follower of Jesus. And herein is the difference between Catholics and Protestants. With Protestants, the first names you hear are Homer, Virgil, Horace, Cicero, and Caesar. With a Catholic, the first names you hear are the holy fathers, St. Jerome, St. Augustine, St. Basil, St. John Chrysostom, St. Gregory Nazianzen, St. Gregory Nyssen, St. Leo, and St. Gregory the Great. He has poets, orators, philosophers, of his own, who belong to the church, by whose labors the church, under God, was built up and sustained, and enabled to achieve its immortal conquests over Jewish prejudice, pagan darkness, idolatry, and corruption, and over pestilential heresies and destructive schisms. If he has preferred those to the Greek and Roman classics, it is to his honor, and proves that he has never been willing to sacrifice his faith as a Christian upon the altars of Jupiter, Apollo, Bacchus, or Cybele. It proves that the Christian life-blood has ever continued to circulate in his veins, and his heart to beat quicker at the mention of the cross of Christ. It proves that he has felt himself connected by one inner life to the whole army of martyrs, and, through the blessing of God, made one of the holy communion of saints. He needed not to wander to Greece or Rome, to linger in the Academy, the Lyceum, the Garden, or the Partico, to refresh his soul with the words of life. He inherited, in the sacred literature of his church, a wealth which made all that pagan antiquity had to offer appear poor, mean, and contemptible. Of all this our poor Protestants know nothing, feel nothing. Having left their father’s house, and spent their portion of the heavenly inheritance in their riotous living, sectarian jars, and theological janglings, ready to starve, they would fain feed their famished souls with the husks of heathenism. O, would they could once remember that in their father’s house there is bread enough to spare!

But there never has been a period in the history of the church, when the valuable literary works even of Greece and Rome were not studied, and appreciated at their full value. We are indebted to the old monks, in their cloisters, for the preservation of all that remains to us of Greek and Roman literature. The monks and the secular clergy, though they never placed this literature above the Sacred Scriptures and the writings of the fathers, yet made themselves acquainted with it, and probably even in the "Dark Ages" appreciated it more justly then we do. But even if they did not, does it follow that they were hostile to literature? Cannot a man love and encourage literature, without loving and encouraging the study of the Greek and Roman classics? Is there no literature for us, but that of Greece and Rome? Even admitting this gross absurdity, who, we ask, revived the study of Greek and Roman letters? We hear of the dark ages, and then of the revival of letters. But when was this revival, and by whom was it effected? It took place about a century before the birth of Protestantism, and was effected by the encouragement and patronage of the Roman Catholic Church. It was the pope who provided an asylum at Rome for the Greek scholars who fled from the Mahometan conquerors of Constantinople. Very little has been learned of ancient Greek and Roman literature, which was not well known in Western Europe long before the reformation.

But we do not rest here. We dare affirm that no period in the history of our race, of equal length, can be pointed out, so remarkable for its intellectual and literary activity, as the thousand years dating from the beginning of the sixth century, and extending to the commencement of the sixteenth. These are the thousand years of what Protestants would call the peculiar reign of Popery. This period opens with the entire dissolution of the old world. The northern barbarians have overthrown the western empire, and seated themselves permanently on its ruins. The old world has disappeared, and nothing remains standing to connect the present with the past, but the ecclesiastical society. Greek and Roman civilization, its arts, sciences, and refinements, save what are retained by the church, are swept away. Ignorance and barbarism have resumed their ancient dominion. In the midst of this ignorance and barbarism, on the ruins of a past world, when all is to be begun anew, the church takes her stand. Now, in order to judge fairly of what the church has done for the human race, whether in reference to religion, morals, literature, or science, we must ascertain what she attempted with the rude materials on which she was obliged to work, and what she actually effected. We must compare the state of European society at the beginning of the sixth century with what it was at the beginning of the sixteenth. The question to be decided is not, whether, during this period, the state of society, morally or intellectually considered, was perfect, or all that could be desired; but whether the church constantly exerted herself for its advancement, and whether, at the end of the period, an advance had been effected as great as under the circumstances could be reasonably expected. Judged in this way, the church, to say the least, has nothing to fear. During those thousand years, nearly all was effected that has been effected for modern society, and we fearlessly assert that there is not a Protestant country in Europe that can at this moment show a social state in advance of what had then been reached.

But our concern is now more especially with literature. It must be remembered that literature in Greece and Rome, in their palmiest days, was but slightly diffused. Even under the Roman empire, when some schools were established by the public, there was nothing like a public system of education. At the commencement of the sixth century, as we may learn from Guizot and others, the civil schools of the empire were nearly all destroyed, and theological schools had not yet been established. Now, if the church had been hostile to literature, here was the precise state of things she would have desired. If ignorance was what she loved, and wished to perpetuate, here was ignorance to her heart’s content, and the condition of its perpetuation. But what is the conduct of the church? She immediately sets to work to establish schools, the great monasterial schools, cathedral or Episcopal schools, and parochial schools. So early as 529, we find the Council of Vaison in France urging the establishment of country schools. In the beginning of the sixth century arose the cathedral schools in Spain, where children, offered by their parents, were to be educated under the eye of the bishop, and to dwell under one roof. In the same century arose, too, the schools of the Benedictine monks, which soon spread themselves over the whole Western Church. Of these, the most celebrated was that of the Island of Lerins, founded by Saint Honoratus, and which produced Maximus, Faustus, Hilary, Caesarius, Vincent, Eucherius, Salvius, and many other eminent men and scholars. The school of Seville, in Spain, was justly renowned. Of this school, Mariana, the Spanish historian, says, "that, as if from a citadel of wisdom, many came forth illustrious, both for probity of manners, and for learning. St. Isidore gave this precept for this and all similar schools in Spain,- ‘The care of nurturing children, will pertain to the man, whom the father will have chosen, a man of sacred and grave wisdom, informing the children not only by the study of letters, but also by the magisterial documents of virtue.’"(trans. from Latin). Before the close of the fifteenth century, nearly all of Western Europe was covered over with schools. This is especially true of England and many parts of Germany. All the great renowned universities of Europe were founded prior to the reformation, such as the universities of Bologna, Paris, Oxford, and Cambridge. In England, the monasterial, cathedral, and parochial schools, nearly all of which were destroyed by the reformation, brought education within the reach of the great mass of the people. Nor less solicitous was the church for the multiplication of books and the establishment of libraries. Cassiodorus had nearly set the example to the monasteries, by placing his own splendid library in Monte Cassino. Nearly all the monasteries were graced and enriched by valuable libraries. In each monastery was a scriptorium, and a number of monks employed and copying and binding manuscripts. Mabillon speaks of the immense manual labor by the Cistercians and Carthusians in copying manuscripts and in writing them out for the public. "Be not troubled at the labor through fatigue," says Thomas a Kempis, in addressing youth; "for God is the cause of every good work, who will render to every man his recompense, according to his pious intention, in heaven. When you are dead, those persons who read the volumes which were formerly written beautifully by you will then pray for you: and if he who giveth a cup of cold water shall not lose his reward, much more he who gives the living waters of wisdom shall not lose his recompense in heaven." Estates and legacies were often bequeathed for the support of the scriptorium in abbeys. At Montrouge, indulgences were often given for a supply of books. The pope, by his bull, in the year 1246, requests the monks and other persons to send, at their own expense, books to the churches of Prussia and Livonia, which were unprovided. One can hardly restrain his indignation, when he recollects that the rich libraries of the universities and abbeys of England, collected by the pious and learned churchmen through so many ages, were nearly all destroyed by the enlightened reformers in the sixteenth century; or repress his disgust at the Protestant journalist, who, after his brethren have done their best to obliterate every literary monument of Catholic antiquity, has the effrontery to come forward in open day and charge the Catholic Church with having "ever waged a deadly war upon literature." Alas! None are so blind as those who will not see.