ページの画像
PDF
ePub

by the few. If the good would but use their political power, they might carry everything before them, and Spain might again present an example of a nation at once most Catholic and most prosperous; but the good, although the majority, do not rise up and take their place and assert their rights. The people have from generation to generation been trained in the practice of submission to authority. The habit of obedience has become a portion of their moral nature ; and they have not yet taken in the idea of the principle upon which constitutional government is grounded-each power in the State acting as a check and counterpoise to the others; the people meanwhile yielding but a bare obedience to the party which for the time being is in the ascendency: The very machinery which the carrying out of this principle involves, helps to discredit it in their eyes. Struggle, agitation, canvassing at elections, continual political contest these things never used to be called honourable, or useful, or virtuous, and the people are slow to understand how of a sudden, within a few years, they should have become, not only desirable, but laudable. In short, their traditions and their habits for centuries have been diametrically opposed to the whole spirit and action of constitutional government; and as yet they neither perceive the duties, nor do they avail themselves of the power and the rights, consequent on the position which a new form of government has created. But this is not quite the whole account of the reason why the few are able to lord it over the many, and why the wicked triumph and the good succumb. The effrontery and boldness of vice are greater than the independence and courage of virtue, unless virtue has risen above the mean. There is nothing more lamentable than to see how the wicked few, as in Italy so in Spain, parade the standard of their own ungodliness and live up boldly to it in word and work, and how the good, though numerically superior, too often not only shrink back and hide themselves, as though they were ashamed of their own goodness, but even refuse boldly to unfurl the banner of the Cross of Christ. Sometimes in good faith, as if it were the only course left to them, sometimes from timidity, they disappear altogether from the scene, or they sue for peace, as if powerless to offer any effectual resistance-contenting themselves with exclaiming that the world is growing more and more evil, and misfortunes are coming upon them such as their fathers had never to endure. There is, however, a growing party in the country, including a small band of senators and deputies, who are manfully using their rights in the right cause, and are endeavouring to teach the multitude that new duties have fallen upon them, and that they must fulfil them, if they love their country, and desire that religion should flourish as heretofore, and that God's honour should no longer be trampled on in Spain. May this small though noble company increase and multiply! May they enlighten the eyes and strengthen the hands of their fellow-countrymen !

Will, then, the Church, crippled as she has been, and still is, be equal to her task? We are no prophets. We believe in her innate power : will this power be appreciated and duly used ? The future will decide. We may note, however, as among the encouraging signs of the times,-1st, that the influence of the court, since the present universally esteemed saintly prelate has been its spiritual director, has been worthy of Spain's most Catholic days; and that the queen is openly and avowedly pious, and devoted to the Church. 2nd, that a wonderful change has taken place in the higher ranks. A generation or two back the ideas of the Encyclopædia were a passport to society ; now they are an absolute bar to an entrance into it. Then, 3rd, as to the multitude, the best informed assert that, were the convents to be re-opened, they would at once be replenished again with abundant vocations. 4th, that nothing can exceed the simple faith and piety to be found in the small country towns and villages. If a priest goes to the church and rings the bell, the building is at once filled to hear him preach; and it is a people most easily melted to contrition, and moved to make a full and sincere confession. When a retreat or mission is given, there is scarcely a man or woman in the place who does not attend and profit by it. We have known most touching examples of the effect of missions and retreats. There is no want of faith, no hardness of heart, none of that stolid indifference among the poor country people which we are familiar with in what are called more civilized countries. Missions, however, unfortunately, are comparatively rare, because the religious orders are destroyed. 5th,—and this is the most hopeful sign of all, — the ecclesiastical seminaries, those seed-plots of the Church, are increasing in number and efficiency; the bishops watching over them with the tenderest care. The bishops themselves are well chosen, and are excellent men, thanks to the pious zeal and conscientiousness of the queen,-not of her ministers of State. Lastly, the Holy Seeto which the Church of Spain has always been most loyally and conspicuously devoted—in the Concordat of 1851, obtained a pledge from the Government to exclude from the Spanish dominions every other form of religion but that of the Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman (vide 1st article of Concordat). We mention these points, not by way of discussion or as exhausting the subject, but as testifying to the deep impression which the Catholic faith has made on the Spanish people, so that not the waters of many years of suffering and impiety have been able to efface it.

The following passage is so much to the point that we think we do well to transcribe it. The writer, as a Protestant, confounds the obedience rendered to the divine authority of the Church with “ a blind submission to priestly authority,” and, as an American citizen, identifies the honour paid to rulers and superiors with “ loyalty to mere rank and place;" but his testimony to the sterling qualities of the Spanish people is not the less valuable on that account ; perhaps only the more so. “The law of progress is on Spain for good or for evil, as it is on the other nations of the earth ; and her destiny, like theirs, is in the hand of God, and will be fulfilled. The material resources of her soil and position are as great as those of any people that now occupies its meted portion of the globe. The mass of her inhabitants, and especially of her peasants, has been less changed, and in many respects less corrupted, by the revolutions of the last century, than any of the nations who have pressed her borders, or contended with her power. They are the same race of men who twice drove back the Crescent from the shores of Europe, and twice saved from shipwreck the great cause of Christian civilization. They have shown the same spirit at Saragossa that they showed two thousand years before at Saguntum. They are not a ruined people. And while they preserve the sense of honour, the sincerity, and the contempt for what is sordid and base, that have so long distinguished their national character, they cannot be ruined.”—Ticknor's History of Spanish Literature," vol. iii.

p. 323.

church you

With respect to the custom of dancing before the Blessed Sacrament (alluded to at p. 11), we have received the following additional particulars since the article was in type : “Within the church there is the dance at the Christmas midnight Mass, in the Cathedral of Seville. It is performed by six little choir-boys in the sanctuary, and is called de los Seises. Outside the

have dancing at any village procession of Corpus Christi, by some graceful lads, castanet in hand, who keep carefully a backward step. Occasionally a few girls will take their place to sing a loa of praise and triumph (in the same position), at intervals in the procession. The “Pange Lingua' is sung by all present, alternating with the dance, until they return to the porch of the church, when the hymn alone is heard. The same thing occurs in the processions of August 15th, September 8th, and December 8th, before the image of the Blessed Virgin, when it is carried beyond the church door with cross, banner, and canopy. On all such occasions a play is acted in the afternoon, in the open air, by the youthful performers, which is succeeded by a general dance."

33

ART, II.-THE ABYSSINIAN SCHISM.

1. Ludolfi Historia Æthiopica. Francofurti ad Mænum. 1681. 2. Bruce's Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile. 5 vols. Edinburgh,

1790. 3. The Highlands of Æthiopia. By Major Harris. 3 vols. London :

Longmans. 1844. 4. Life in Abyssinia. By Mansfield Parkyns. 2 vols. London : J. Murray.

1853. 5. Travels, Researches, and Missionary Labours in Eastern Africa. By the

Rev. Dr. Krapf. London: Trübner & Co. 1860. 6. Wanderings among the Fálashas of Abyssinia. By Rev. H. Stern.

London : Wertheim, Macintosh, & Hunt. 1862. A

existed, age after age, in a sort of petrified state, in the wide regions of the East, the Abyssinian state Church holds a singular place. It deserves our attention on several grounds : for example, as a disfigured relic of the missionary successes of the Catholic Church in the important times of S. Athanasius; as a Christian community still exhibiting that admixture of Judaism which turns us back in thought to the earliest Christian converts and their peculiar difficulties, as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles; as an involuntary witness to the Catholic Church, on the one hand, by its even exaggerated admission of certain practices alleged by Protestants to be only innovations of Rome, and on the other, by the vague and contradictory character of its doctrines, accounted for by its long-continued separation from the supreme authority of Catholic truth; finally, as the religious organization of a barbarous people, who are both physically and politically of much interest to the student of history—in the former respect, as holding, in an ethnological point of view, a sort of midway position between the Caucasian and Negro races; in the latter, as affording the solitary instance in Africa of a degree of civilization that exceeds the savage culture of kingdoms like Dahomey. The Abyssinians probably have been a nation of much higher rank than they are at present: they possess regular institutions modelled on the Christian type, however debased ; and they have a literature apparently much resembling that of the earlier mediæval period of Europe, and a learned class possessed of a cultivation not despicable, considering their opportunities.

VOL. 1.-NO. I. [New Series.]

D

So that we may safely predict at least this much, that if Africa, as many well-informed thinkers believe, is one day to be raised from the degradation in which it has grovelled throughout so many ages, Abyssinia is destined to play some great part in

ch restoration. If we add to all this, the history of its civil revolutions, highly curious as those of an empire in much the state of the early times of Saxon England; its reconstruction, in our days, we may almost say, whilst we write, by a barbarian conqueror of great ability, Kasai, or Theodorus, whose name scarcely reached Europe amidst the tumult of our own Russian war; the heroic efforts of the Society of Jesus in the seventeenth century to reclaim this fallen Church, then but just becoming known to Europe, which had hitherto heard of it only as the mythical kingdom of Prester John; the repeated exertions of late years made by Mgr. de Jacobis and his illustrious companions for the same object, ending alike in their sufferings and expulsion, as though individuals only, and not whole communities, as a general rule, are permitted the grace of being converted from schism,-if, we say, these fields of inquiry be added to the foregoing, the reader will perceive that the whole subject is not only one of unusual interest, but that, in order to its just treatment, we cannot include in the compass allotted to an article more than a limited portion of the entire discussion. What we propose, therefore, to confine ourselves to at present is the constitution, doctrine, and ceremonies of the Abyssinian Church, premising some account of the early relations of the Abyssinian people to the Jewish nation, and of their conversion in the fourth century.

The sources of our information are chiefly the great work of Ludolf; the modern travellers in Abyssinia, such as Bruce, and, in our own times, Harris, Parkyns, Krapf, and Stern; the letters relating to Mgr. Massaia's and Mgr. de Jacobis' mission in the “Annals of the Propagation of the Faith,” and some MS. letters from a native Abyssinian priest, written from the country in the years 1853-55, and kindly communicated to us by the respected ecclesiastic to whom, then at Rome, they were addressed.

Abyssinia, in classical and ecclesiastical language Æthiopia, called by its inhabitants Hábesh, is an extensive region of somewhat undefined limits, stretching from Sennaar and Tàka north to beyond the Galla countries on the south, and from the White Nile to the Red Sea east and west. It formed for many ages one empire under sovereigns claiming descent from Menilek, son of the queen of Saba (or Sheba, to use the name more familiar to English literature) by Solomon, and called by the title of Negus. But from the sixteenth century this empire

« 前へ次へ »