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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 34


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We hear much at the present day of the decay of the Latin races. It is said that they decline rapidly, and that the future belongs both to the Germanic and to the Slavonic race.

I do not believe that the Latin races are condemned to decline on account of the blood which flows in their veins, that is to say, in consequence of any fatal destiny, fatal, as no people can change its nature or modify its physical constitution; but the fact that Catholic races advance much less rapidly than those which are no longer Catholic, and that, relatively to these latter, they even seem to go back, appears to be proved both by history, and more particularly by contemporary events. This fact is so manifest, that the very bishops themselves, and the Univers, their organ in France, make it a text of their reproaches to unbelieving Catholics.

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Different reasons prevent my attributing this undeniable fact to influences of race. Undoubtedly, the fate of nations depends partly on their physical constitution. Even if we turn back to the origin of things, two causes only can be found capable of explaining the different destinies of various nations, viz., race, and surrounding circumstances;—on the one hand, the constitution of man, on the other, the influence of external nature—the climate, the geographical position, the products of the soil, the aspect of the country, the food. But in point of fact, when the question relates to nations of such mixed blood as that of Europeans, who, moreover, descend from a common stock, it is very difficult to connect the social conditions with the influence of race with any degree of scientific certainty.

The English understand the parliamentary system and the exercise of practical liberty better than the French. Is this owing to the influence of blood? I do not think so; for until near the sixteenth century, France, Spain, and Italy possessed provincial liberties of a very similar character to English liberties. The only notable difference was, that the English had a single parliament, and a centralised system, which proved strong enough to hold its own against royalty. The Norman Conquest having united England, an united parliament was the result; and royalty being very powerful, nobles and commons combined to resist page 11 it, whereas elsewhere they were constantly at strife.

The destinies of France and England only become entirely different from the beginning of the sixteenth century, when the Puritans had defeated the Stuarts, and when Louis XIV., by expelling the Protestants from France, had extirpated the last remnants of local autonomy, and the sole important elements of resistance, with which despotism might have been opposed.

When Protestants of Latin race are seen to rise superior to Germanic, but Catholic populations; when, in one and the same country, and one and the same group, identical in language, and identical in origin, it can be affirmed that Protestants advance more rapidly and steadily than Catholics, it is difficult not to attribute the superiority of the one over the other to the religion they profess.

Sectarian passions or anti-religious prejudice have been too often imported into the study of these questions. It is time that we should apply to it the method of observation, and the scientific impartiality of the physiologist and the naturalist. When the facts are once established, irrefragable conclusions will follow.

It is admitted that the Scotch and Irish are of the same origin. Both have become subject to the English yoke. Until the sixteenth century Ireland was much more civilised than Scotland. During the page 12 first part of the Middle Ages, the Emerald Isle was a focus of civilisation, while Scotland was still a den of barbarians.

Since the Scotch have embraced the reformed religion, they have outrun even the English. The climate and the nature of the soil prevent Scotland being as rich as England; but Macaulay proves that, since the seventeenth century, the Scotch have in every way surpassed the English. Ireland, on the other hand, devoted to Ultramontanism, is poor, miserable, agitated by the spirit of rebellion, and seems incapable of raising herself by her own strength.

What a contrast, even in Ireland, between the exclusively Catholic Connaught, and Ulster, where Protestantism prevails!

Ulster is enriched by industry, Connaught presents a picture of desolation.

I will not allow myself to establish any comparison between the United States and the States of South America, or between the nations of the North and those of the South of Europe. The differences which are to be observed might be explained by the influence of climate or of race. But let us go to Switzerland, and compare the condition of the Cantons of Neuchâtel, Vaud, and Geneva (more particularly before the recent immigration of the Savoy Catholics), with that of Lucerne, Haut-Valais, and the forest Cantons. The former are extraordinarily in page 13 advance of the latter in respect of education, literature, the fine arts, industry, commerce, riches, cleanliness, in a word, civilisation in all its aspects, and in all its senses.

The first are Latin, but Protestant: the second German, but subject to Rome. Surely it is religion, and not race, which is the cause of the superiority of the former.

Let us now turn to a single Canton, that of Appenzell, inhabited throughout by an entirely identical Germanic population. The very same contrast presents itself between the Catholic "Rhodes intérieures" and the Protestant "Rhodes extérieures," as exists between the inhabitants of Neuchâtel and those of Lucerne or Uri. On the one hand, education, activity, industry, relations with the outer world, and by necessary consequence, wealth. On the other, inertia, routine, ignorance and poverty.*

* See Mr. Hepworth Dixon, whose judgment is certainly uninfluenced by any sectarian prejudice. He says in his recent book on Switzerland: "A Liberal puts an Evangelical district in the scale against a Catholic district—such as Appenzell-outer-Rhoden against Appenzell-inner-Rhodon—and demands a verdict on the evidence of eye and ear.

"In outer aspect these half-Cantons have the differences of Canton Berne and Canton Valais. In the lower country, though the village may be built of frames, the style is pretty, the arrangement neat. A fountain and a running water occupy the centre. Near it stand the village church, the council-chamber, and the primary school. Each cottage has a garden to itself. A creeper climbs up every stair and hangs from almost every roof. The click and whirr of looms are heard from every open window, and the little folk go singing on their way to school. The streets are clean, the markets well supplied, and every one you meet is warmly clad. But in the upper country things look poor and bare. Few villages are seen. The people dwell in scattered huts, with styes and stables on the ground, and sleeping rooms above them, like the folks in Biscay and Navarre. These huts, though strongly knit, are rudely planned and roughly built. Each herdsman lives apart from all his fellows whom he only meets at mass, at wrestling-match, and public house. The lads can read and write, for they are Switzers, subject to the Cantonal law; but books and journals are unknown among them, saving here and there some lives of saints, and popular sheets, containing scraps of old wives' lore in place of general and exciting news.

"The Protestant half-Canton grows in wealth and numbers, while the Catholic half-Canton lingers on in poverty and weakness: for the first takes in all strangers, irrespective of their creed, gives ready welcome to ideas on all subjects, and adopts without delay improvements in the loom, her chief domestic engine; while the second shuts her gates to all the world—on Protestants of every country and on Catholics who are not natives of the Canton—keeps her antique sports and dress, retains her shepherd industries as they existed in the Middle Ages, keeps her feast-days and her wrestling-matches, feeds on coarse rye-bread and acid curds, and holds in proud contempt the arts by which her neighbours thrive."

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Wherever the two religions exist together in the same country, the Protestants are more active, more industrious, more economical, and consequently richer, than the Catholics.

"In the United States," says Tocqueville, "the greater part of the Catholics are poor."

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In Canada, all important concerns, manufactures, commerce, and the principal shops in the towns, are in the hands of Protestants.

M. Audiganne, in his remarkable studies on "the working classes of France," observes the superiority of Protestants in industrial enterprise, and his evidence is the more trustworthy that he does not attribute this superiority to Protestantism. "The majority of the operatives of the town of Nismes," he says, "notably the silk weavers, are Catholics, while the leaders of industry and commerce, in a word the capitalists, belong in general to the reformed religion."

"When a single family has divided itself into two branches, the one remaining in the bosom of its ancestral faith, the other enrolling itself under the banner of the new doctrines, you may nearly always remark in the one case increasing embarrassments, in the other, growing wealth." "At Mazamet, the Elbœuf of the South of France," says again M. Audi-ganne, "all the leaders of industry, except one, are Protestant, while the great majority of workmen are Catholic. There is less education among these latter, than among the working families of the Protestant class."

Before the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, the Protestants took the lead in all branches of labour, and the Catholics, unable to compete with them on equal terms, caused them to be forbidden the exercise of various industries in which they excelled, by several page 16 successive edicts, dating from 1662. After their banishment from France, the Protestants brought into England, Prussia, and Holland their spirit of enterprise and thrift, and enriched every district in which they settled. It is partly to reformed Latins that the Germans owe their progress. The refugees of the Revocation introduced various manufactures into England, that of silk among others; and the disciples of Calvin were the civilisers of Scotland.

If we compare the quotations on the Exchange of the public funds of Protestant and Catholic States, we shall find a great difference. The English 3 per cents, are above 92; the French 3 per cents, average 60. The Dutch, Prussian, Danish, and Swedish funds are at least at par; in Austria, Italy, Spain, and Portugal they are lower by 30 or 50 per cent.

Throughout Germany, at the present day, the trade in intellectual works—such as books, reviews, maps, newspapers—is almost entirely in the hands of Jews and Protestants.

In the presence of all these concurring facts, it is difficult not to confess that it is religion, and not race, which is the cause of the extraordinary prosperity of certain nations.

The Reformation imparted to those countries which adopted it a force which history can hardly explain.

Take the Low Countries: we have there two page 17 millions of men upon a soil half sand, half marsh: they resist Spain at a time when she holds Europe in her hand, and no sooner are they freed from the Castilian yoke, than they cover all the seas with their flag, they lead the van of the intellectual world, they possess as many ships as all the rest of the Continent put together, they become the soul of all the great European coalitions, they hold their own against the allied powers of England and France, they present to the United States that type of federal union which gives scope to the indefinite growth of the great Republic, and they set the example of those financial combinations which contribute so powerfully to the actual development of wealth—banks of issue and joint stock companies.

Sweden, with her million of men, and her rocky soil buried in snow for six months of the year, intervenes on the Continent, under Gustavus Adolphus, with heroic might, defeats Austria by the hand of her marvellous strategists, Wrangel, Torstenson, and Banner, and saves the cause of the Reformation. At the present day, England is the mistress of the seas, the first among industrial and commercial nations; in Asia, she rules over two hundred millions of men, and covers the globe with swarms from her own hive. Sir Charles Dilke's fine book 'Greater Britain,' presents the reader with a picture of Anglo-Saxon power throughout the world. The United States increase with bewildering rapidity. page 18 They reckon forty-two million inhabitants. Towards the end of the century, their population will be one hundred millions. Already, they are the richest and most powerful people on the face of the globe.

Protestant Prussia has defeated two empires, each containing twice her own population, the one in seven weeks, the other in seven months. In two centuries, America, Australia, and Southern Africa, will belong to the heretical Anglo-Saxons, and Asia to the schismatic Slaves.

The nations subject to Rome seem stricken with barrenness; they no longer colonise,* they have no powers of expansion. The expression employed by M. Thiers to depict their religious capital, Rome, viduitas et sterilitas, might be also applied to themselves. Their past is brilliant, but their present is gloomy, and their future disquieting. Can there be

* Here is an example taken at random. The Comte de Beauvoir arrives at Canton. There he sees the islet of Sha-Myen, ceded to France and England, situated in the midst of the river. The traveller is struck with the contrast between the part ceded to England and that which belongs to France. "In six years' time (1867) there have sprung up a little English village, a Protestant church, a cricket-ground, a training-ground for race-horses, spacious villas, and magnificent go-downs for the great tea houses of China. A pathway separates the British from the French territory. On our territory there are clumps of uncultivated trees, filth, stray dogs, cats, moles, but not a single house."—'Voyage autour du monde,' vol. ii. p. 427.

page 19 a sadder situation than that of Spain? France, which has rendered such services to the world, is also greatly to be pitied, not because she has been conquered on the field of battle—military reverses may be repaired—but because it seems her fate to be ceaselessly tossed to and fro between despotism and anarchy. Even now, at the moment when, in order to recover herself, she requires the harmonious action of all her sons, the extreme parties are contending for pre-eminence, at the risk of another outburst of civil war. Ultramontanism is the cause of the misfortunes of France; this it is which has weakened the country by that baneful course of action which we will analyse further on. This it was which, through the Empress Eugenie, an organ of the clerical party, brought about the Mexican expedition in order to raise up the Catholic nations of America, and the Prussian war in order to impede the progress of the Protestant States of Europe.*
Italy and Belgium appear more prosperous than France and Spain; but is liberty definitely established in those countries? Able minds doubt it. Recently, a Roman journal, Il Diritto, published a remarkable work on the situation of Italy, with the significant title, 'L'ltalia nera.' "The nations subject to the Pope

* So it was recently asserted by Prince Bismarck from the tribune at Berlin. The Empress in July, 1870, said, "This is my war." The decision in favour of war, in the Supreme Council of Saint Cloud, on the 14th of August, was her doing; the Emperor was well aware of the danger, and reluctant to the last.

page 20 are either dead already or dying," exclaims the author with consternation: "I popoli di religione papale o sono già morti o vanno morendi." "If," he adds, "Italy appears less sickly, the reason is, that the clergy, expecting the restoration of the Pope, first by means of Austrian, now by means of French inter-vention, have not as yet attacked liberty and the constitution from within. The clerical party held aloof during the elections; but all this will be changed. The clergy have already entered the arena at Naples, Rome, and Bologna. The Church covers the country with associations inspired by the Jesuits, and the congregations seize upon the rising generation, whom they bring up in the hatred of Italy and her institutions." This view is just. Italy is at present in the condition in which France found herself after 1789, and Belgium after 1830: the breath of liberty is carrying before it the whole nation, even the clergy. Patriotism, the hope of a brilliant future, the enthusiasm of progress—these inflame all hearts and efface all dissensions; but before long incompatibility must break out between modern civilisation and Roman ideas. The clergy, and especially the Jesuits, in obedience to the voice of Rome, are already setting to work to undermine the barely established edifice of political liberty. This is precisely what has happened in Belgium since 1840.

One of the authors of the Belgian constitution, perhaps the most distinguished among them, said to page 21 me lately, with heartfelt sorrow: "We believed that all that was necessary to found liberty, was to proclaim it, by separating Church and State. I begin to think that we deceived ourselves. The Church, relying on the country districts, seeks to impose her absolute power. The great cities which have given in their adhesion to modern ideas will not let themselves be enslaved without attempting resistance. We are tending, like France, towards civil war. We are already in a revolutionary position. The future appears to me big with troubles." The last elections of 1874 have begun to bring the danger to light. The elections for the Chambers have strengthened the clerical party, while those for the Communes have given power to the liberals in all the large towns. Antagonism between the towns and the provinces, which is one of the causes of civil war in France, begins already to show itself in Belgium also. As long as the government remains in the hands of prudent men, who are more disposed to serve their country than to obey the bishops, grave disorders need not be apprehended. But if the fanatics, who openly accept the Syllabus as their political programme, should attain to power, terrible shocks would follow.

The Catholic countries, on both sides of the Atlantic, are thus a prey to internal struggles which consume their strength, or at least prevent them from advancing as steadily and rapidly as Protestant nations.

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Two centuries ago, supremacy belonged incontestably to the Catholic States. The others were only powers of the second order. Now, put on one side France, Austria, Spain, Italy and South America, and on the other, Russia, the Empire of Germany, England and North America,—clearly the predominance has passed over to the heretics and schismatics. M. Levasseur read of late before L'Institut a curious work, in which he shows that, in 1700, France alone represented 31 per cent., or one-third, of the force of the five great Powers together; whereas now, counting six great European Powers, she possesses no more than 15 per cent., or one-sixth part, of their total force.*

To the eye of every man who desires to consult facts without a foregone conclusion, it is thus manifest that Protestantism is more favourable than Catholicism to the development of nations. We must now find the causes of this fact. I think it is not difficult to point them out.

* 'Compterendu des séances de l'lnstitut,' by M. Vergé, November number, 1872. The population of France was increasing very slowly. In the last quinquennial period, it diminished by 366,000, without counting, of course, the loss of Alsace and Lorraine.