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THE CHURCH AND JUSTICE.
can suppress the world with a nod; if what God created with one word, he can exterminate with one word, the world is annihilated.
This state of uneasiness, anger, and trembling hate explains alone the incredible fury of the church in the middle ages, in proportion as she beheld her rival, Justice, arise against her.
The latter was scarcely perceptible at first. Nothing was so low, so minute, so humble. A paltry blade of grass, gotten in the furrow; even stooping, you would hardly have perceived it.
Justice, thou who wast lately so feeble, how canst thou grow so fast! If I but turn aside a moment, I know thee no longer. I find thee every hour grown ten cubits higher. Theology quakes, reddens with anger, and turns pale.
Then begins a terrible, frightful struggle, beyond the power of language to express. Theology flinging aside the demure mask of grace, abdicating, denying herself, in order to annihilate Justice, striving to absorb to destroy her within herself, to swallow her up. Behold them standing face to face; which of them, at the end of this mortal combat, is found to have absorbed, incorporated, assimilated the other?
Let the revolutionary reign of Terror beware of comparing herself with the Inquisition. Let her never boast of having, in her two or three years, paid back to the old system what it did to us for six hundred years! The Inquisition would have good cause to laugh! What are the twelve thousand men guillotined of the one, to the millions of men butchered, hung, broken on the wheel,-to that pyramid of burning stakes,-to those masses of burnt flesh, which the other piled up to heaven. The single Inquisition of one of the provinces of Spain states, in an authentic monument, that in sixteen years it burned twenty thousand men! But why speak of Spain, rather than of the Albigenses, of the Vaudois of the Alps, of the Beggars of Flanders, of the Protestants of France, or of the horrible crusade against the Hussites, and so many nations whom the pope abandoned to the sword?
History will inform us that in her most ferocious and implacable moments the Revolution trembled at the thought of aggravating death, that she shortened the sufferings of victims, removed the hand of man, and invented a machine to abridge the pangs of death.
And it will also inform us that the church of the middle ages exhausted herself in inventions to augment suffering, to render it poignant, intense; that she found out exquisite arts of torture, ingenious means to contrive that, without dying, one might long taste of death-and that, being stopped in that path by inflexible nature, who, at a certain degree of pain, mercifully grants death, she wept at not being able to make man suffer longer.
I cannot, I will not agitate that sea of blood. If God allow me one day to touch it, that blood shall boil again with life, flow in torrents to drown false history and the hired flatterers of murder, to fill their lying mouths.
Well do I know that the greater part of those grand butcheries can no longer be related. They have burnt the books, burnt the men, burnt the calcined bones over again, and flung away the ashes. When, for instance, shall I recover the history of the Vaudois, or of the Albigenses? The day when I shall have the history of the star that I saw falling to-night. A world, a whole world has sunk, perished, both men and things. poem has been recovered, and bones have been found at the bottom of caverns; but no names, no signs. Is it with these sad remnants that I can form that history again? Let our enemies triumph that they have rendered us powerless, and at having been so barbarous that one cannot, with certainty, recount their barbarities! At least the desert speaks, the desert of Languedoc, the solitudes of the Alps, the unpeopled mountains of Bohemia, and so many other places, where man has disappeared, where the earth has become sterile for ever, and where Nature, after man, seems itself exterminated.
But one thing cries louder than all their destructions (and this one thing is authentic), which is, that the system which killed in the name of a principle, in the name of a faith, made use indifferently of two opposite principles, the tyranny of kings, and the blind anarchy of nations. In one single century, the sixteenth, Rome changed three times, throwing herself now to the right, now to the left, without either prudence or decency. First, she gives herself up to the kings; next, she throws herself into the arms of the people; then again, she returns to the kings. Three lines of policy, but one aim. How attained? No What aim? To destroy the power of thought.
MASSACRE OF ST. BARTHOLOMEW.
A writer has discovered that the pope's nuncio had no foreknowledge of the Saint Bartholomew (massacre). And I have discovered that the pope had prepared it,—worked at it, for
"A trifle," says another, "a mere local affair, a vengeance of Paris."
In spite of the utter disgust, the contempt, the sickness, which these theories occasion me, I have confronted them with the records of history, with unexceptionable documents. And I have found far and near, the blood-red traces of the massacre. I can prove that, from the day when Paris proposed (1561) the general sale of the goods of the clergy, from the day when the church beheld the king wavering, and tempted by the hopes of that booty, she turned hastily, violently towards the people, and employed every means in her power, by preaching, by alms, by different influences, and by her immense connection, her converts, trades-people, and mendicants, to organize the massacre.
A popular affair," say you. True. But tell us also by what diabolical scheme, by what infernal perseverance, you worked during the space of ten years to pervert the understanding of the people, to excite and drive them mad.
O spirit of cunning and murder! I have lived too many centuries in face of thee, throughout the middle ages, for thee ever to deceive me. After having so long denied justice and liberty, thou didst assume their name for thy shout of war. In their name thou didst work a rich mine of hate,-that eternal repining which inequality implants in the heart of man, the envy of the poor for the rich. Thou tyrant, thou proprietor, and the most ravenous in the world, didst unhesitatingly embrace on a sudden, and exceed, with one bound, the most impracticable theories of the Levellers.
Before the Saint Bartholomew massacre, the clergy used to say to the people, in order to excite them, "The Protestants are nobles, provincial gentlemen. That was true; the clergy having already exterminated, stifled Protestantism in the towns. The castles alone being shut, were still able to remain Protestant. But read of their earlier martyrs; they were the inhabitants of towns, petty tradesmen, and workmen. Those creeds which were pointed out to the hatred of people as those of the
aristocracy, had sprung from the very people. know that Calvin was the son of a cooper?
Who does not
It would be too easy for me to show how all this has been misrepresented in our time by writers subservient to the clergy, and then copied without consideration. I wanted only to show, by one example, the ferocious address with which the clergy urged the people, and made for themselves a deadly weapon of social jealousy. The detail would be curious; I regret to postpone it. I could tell you the plans resorted to, in order to work the ruin of an individual or a set of men; calumny, skilfully directed by a special press, slowly manipulated in the schools and seminaries, especially in the parlours of convents, directly intrusted (in order to be more quickly diffused) to penitents, to the suborned trades-people of the curates and canons, was put in motion among the people. How it worked itself into fury in those establishments of gluttony, termed Brotherhoods, to which, among other things, they abandoned the immense wealth of the hospitals. Low, paltry, miserable details, but without which the wholesale murders perpetrated by a Catholic rabble would remain incomprehensible.
Occasionally, if it was sought to destroy a man of repute, superior art was added to these manoeuvres. By means of money or intimidation, some talented writer was found and let loose upon him. Thus, the king's confessor, to succeed in getting Vallée burnt, made Ronsard write against him. And so to ruin Théophile, the confessor instigated Balzac, who could not forgive Théophile for having drawn his sword for him, and saved him from personal chastisement.
In our own times, I have had an opportunity of noticing how the same set, in the name of the Church, arouse and foster hatred and disturbance in the breasts of the obscure and lower orders, the very dregs of society. I once saw, in a city of the west, a young professor of philosophy, whom the ecclesiastics wanted to expel from his chair, followed, and pointed at in the street by a mob of women. What did they know about philosophical questions? Nothing, save what they were taught in the confessional. They were not less furious on that account, standing before their doors, pointing, and shouting: 66 There he is!
In a large city in the eastern department, I was witness
VIOLENCE AGAINST DUMOULIN.
to another, and, perhaps, still more odious spectacle. An old Protestant pastor, almost blind, who, every day, and often several times in the day, was followed and insulted by the children of a school, who pulled him behind, and strove to throw him down.
That is their usual way of beginning their game; by innocent agents, against whom you cannot defend yourself,-little children, women. On more favourable occasions, in unenlightened provinces, easy to be excited, men take a share in the game. The master, who holds to the church, as a member of some confrèrie, as a tradesman or a lodger, grumbles, shouts, cabals, and collects a mob. The journeyman and the valet get drunk to do mischief; the apprentice follows-surpasses themstrikes, without knowing why, the very children sometimes assassinate.
Next come false reasoners, foolish theorists, to baptize this pious assassination with the name of justice of the people, to canonize the crime perpetrated by tyrants in the name of liberty.
Thus it was, that, in the selfsame day, they found means to slaughter, with one blow, all that formed the honour of France, the first philosopher of the age, the first sculptor, and the first musician, Ramus, Jean Goujon, and Goudimel. How much rather would they have butchered our great jurisconsult, the enemy of Rome and the Jesuits, the genius of right,— Dumoulin !
Happily, he was safe. He had spared them a crime; his noble life had taken refuge in God. But, before that time, he had seen riots organised four times by the clergy against him and his home. That holy temple of study four times violated and pillaged, his books profaned and dispersed, his manuscripts, irreparable patrimony of mankind, flung into the gutter and destroyed. They have not destroyed Justice; the living spirit contained in those books was emancipated by the flames; it expanded and pervaded everything, impregnating the very atmosphere, so that, thanks to the murderous fury of fanaticism, they could breathe no air but that of equity.