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which has given birth to so many men, illus-
trious in every department of knowledge. Its
course was still attended by the young semi-
narians. The other excellent colleges of the
Province, those of Neustadt, Neisse, Schweid-
nitz, Jaur, and Liegnitz, the pride and orna-
ment of Silesia, also furnished a great number
of students for the theological course, who
completed their studies at Breslau."*

One of these students was Father Theiner
himself, who feels himself under the obligation
of paying elsewhere, a tribute of gratitude to the
Jesuits, as represented by his former professor.
" I owe," says he, " the education of my youth
to this Kcehler, so well known in Silesia, who
has the glory of having introduced into that
province the solid study of the oriental tongues.
The services rendered by Kcehler to public in-
struction are recognized equally by Catholics
and Protestants. From the knowledge of the
Jesuits which I afterwards acquired, I can
bear witness that he was a worthy member of
his illustrious order. I have often heard him
express with the most amiable simplicity a
pious wish to expire in the habit of the

* Tom. ii, p. 48. f Tom - i; Introd. p. 51.


There is a work in which the praise of
Christianity is celebrated from the mouth of
Rousseau, who is condemned to become the
apologist of a religion he spurned. A some-
what similar character we impose upon the
reluctant Father Theiner, in transforming him
into the apologist of the Society of Jesus.

3. It is objected that Frederick, King of Prus-
sia, who had entertained a high opinion of the
Jesuits, on the occasion of his visit to Silesia
(where, we have just been informed, by their
labors, education had retained its primitive ex-
cellence), was not a little astonished at finding
in the Universities and Colleges (which, as we
have just seen, were the pride and ornament of
the province], even in the celebrated University
of Breslau, men of a surprising mediocrity,
and on that account required, that capable
professors should be procured from the French
and Italian provinces.

We indeed know that Frederick II, after
the suppression, charged the Jesuits of Silesia
to invite their brethren of the other provinces
to participate in his hospitality, assigning to
each a pension of seven hundred florins ; but
in that royal act, we discover nothing more
than a deed of charity towards the proscribed,



or an act of policy, inasmuch as they would
be useful to his subjects ; but nowhere have
we found that this invitation addressed to
foreign Jesuits was prompted by a knowledge of
the deficiencies of the Silesian Jesuits. Without
doubt the latter were possessed of less literary
taste than their brethren of France and Italy,
and of this we have seen some testimony in
the book of the Franciscan Prochaska, where
he accuses the Jesuits of Bohemia and Mora-
via (perhaps the same fault is imputable to
those of Silesia), of inculcating a false taste
and a declamatory style of composition ; but
we have certainly proved that in erudition
they were not inferior.

But as for this diminution in Frederick's
esteem for the Jesuits, the assertion is not
supported by the slightest proof. On the con-
trary, we shall quote the words of Frederick
himself, in which he expresses his real senti-
ments. Being determined to prefefve them
in his kingdom, he wrote to Abbe* Columbini,
his agent at Rome, an autograph letter, dated
from Potsdam, September 13th, 1773, in which
he informs him of this intention in the follow-
ing terms: "I am determined that in my
kingdom the Jesuits shall continue to exist,


and maintain their ancient form. In the
treaty of Breslau I guaranteed the status quo
of the Catholic religion ; nor have I ever seen
better priests, in any point of view, than the
Jesuits. You may add, that since I belong to
an heretical sect, His Holiness holds no power
to dispense me from the obligation of keeping
my word, or from my duty as a king and an
honest man." On the 15th of May, 1774,
writing to D'Alembert, who was dissatisfied
that the Jesuits were not completely extermi-
nated, and feared that other kings, moved by
the example of Prussia, might demand of
Frederick seed to cultivate in their own king-
doms, he replied : " I view them only as men
of letters, whose place in the instruction of
youth it would be difficult, if not impossible, to
supply. Of the Catholic clergy of this country,
they alone apply themselves to literature.
This renders them so useful and necessary,
that you need not fear any one shall obtain
from me a single Jesuit." The contradiction
between the Frederick of history and the
Frederick invented by the enemies of the
Jesuits, can only be paralleled by the opposi-
tion between Father Theiner, the author


of "Ecclesiastical Institutions," and Father
Theiner, who wrote the "History of Clement
XIV." But where we find on the one side
assertion without proof, and on the other
authentic testimony, the choice admits of no
doubt or delay.

It is still objected, that in order to remedy
the decline of learning in the University of
Vienna, until then directed exclusively by the
Jesuits, Maria Theresa was forced to deprive
them of several important professorships, and
confide them to secular priests and religious of
various orders.

Note meanwhile another contradiction. The
Jesuits, we were informed, after having en-
grossed the offices of education throughout
Germany, had not formed one really distin-
guished man; and yet see how suddenly
spring up professors of the sublimest sciences,
capable not only of succeeding them, but of
imparting a superior education, of supplying
their deficiencies. But let the names and the
works of the new professors be produced.
Where that renown, that splendor, which was
to eclipse the glory of the Jesuits ? We turn the
leaves of our historical and our bibliographical


dictionaries in vain : we discover no mention
of either. Reference may be made to Michael
Ignatius Schmidt, the author of a voluminous
history of Germany, written in the national
language. But Schmidt had been a pupil of
the Jesuits at Wurtzburg ; he did not come to
Vienna at the invitation of Joseph II, and
only arrived at the time of the suppression ;
and finally his arrival coincides with the be-
ginning of those endeavors, which Joseph
made, to effect a change in the constitution of
the Church, a coincidence which brings into
suspicion the power with which he was in-
vested, and subjected him to many accusa-
tions, especially those preferred by the Bishop
of Wurtzburg, of connivance in the measures of
the schismatical prince. It will be remem-
bered that we saw in our third chapter, that
the Jesuits were not expelled from the pro-
fessorships, and others substituted, for the pur-
pose of elevating the standard of learning, but
in order to gain a favorable opportunity to
introduce Jansenism and infidelity.

That there was a decline of learning in the
schools of the Jesuits is not proved, cannot be
proved by the citation of a single authentic
testimony. If the change then effected in


public instruction, had been simply to modify
and enlarge the course of studies pursued in
the University, to draw the schools of the
Empire within the influence of that literary
movement, which had passed through France,
and was now gaining ground in the Protestant
States, we should acknowledge its legitimacy,
we should laud it as honorable. It was the
aim of Cardinal Migazzi, it was what the
Jesuits, first in the Catholic body, were en-
deavoring to effect. It was the object of
Michael Denis and his associates of the Society,
who then aided in the development of the
national literature. To the examples and
proofs already adduced at the termination of
the second chapter, we might in addition heap
up other examples, and other conclusive facts.
We might name Francis Schoenfeld, who,
besides many German works, wrote poetry
full of ardor and elevation. To some we might
impart the information, that, as early as the
seventeenth century, there lived a Jesuit,
Father Frederick de Spe*e, who was the first to
reveal the poetic richness of the German idiom,
and to evince by his own example the flexi-
bility with which it accommodates itself to all
the necessities of lyric rhythm. This collec-


tion of sacred poetry, entitled " Trutz-Nachti-
gall," is characterized by its strength and in-
spiration, and Father Spee is even now ranked
as the first of the religious poets.

If the development of the national litera-
ture among the Catholics was here retarded,
the causes were the proscription of the Jesuits,
and the evil influence of Stock and his accom-
plices. Under the pretext of reforming in-
struction, these innovators sought to substitute
their schismatical doctrines. Then by blend-
ing what was good and necessary with what
was poisonous, they caused pious Catholics to
distrust even the good and salutary.

What should we say, for example, of the rule
promulgated by Stock, this great reformer of
education, "that no one should be ordained
priest, who could not read the Holy Scriptures
in the original Greek and Hebrew/' How
absurd, -how utterly impracticable ! For say-
ing mass, for administering the sacraments,
for catechizing, for preaching, the sole duties
of the greater part of priests, what indispensa-
ble necessity for an acquaintance with the
Hebrew language ? Are all aspirants to the
sacred ministry capable of passing through so
arduous a course of studies ? And then, if it


be requisite to apply themselves to the acqui-
sition of these difficult languages, what time
will remain to acquire knowledge indispensa-
ble to the sacred ministry, what time even to
exercise it ? Jansenism, under various forms,
always pursues the same projects; to realize
the project of Bourg-Fontaine, it would anni-
hilate the sacraments, by rendering their ad-
ministration impossible.

It is undoubtedly desirable, that some of the
Catholic clergy should devote themselves to
the critical study of Scripture; but this portion
must necessarily be the smaller. So thought
the Jesuits, who taught all that was necessary
for their ministry, and particularly the prac-
tices of piety and zeal ; the few privileged by
nature, they directed to the acquisition of
sublimer knowledge. So thought St. Ignatius,
who established this distinction in the Society
itself; so thought St. Charles Borromeo, who
had adopted it for his own priests: but the
zeal and the wisdom of an Ignatius and a
Charles Borromeo, fell short of the far-reach-
ing aim of the Viennese reformers.

4. Let us examine the question proposed still
more narrowly, and reply still more directly.
In the beginning of the eighteenth century,


the statistics of the Society of Jesus showed
the existence of six hundred and twelve col-
leges, one hundred and fifty-seven pension-
nates, or normal schools, and twenty-four
Universities, empowered to confer degrees. A
half century later, from the same source, we
find that in spite of the antagonism of infi-
delity, the number of colleges had augmented
to six hundred and sixty-nine !

These Colleges were almost universally in
a state of prosperity, and their professors were
men of more or less distinction in the learned
world. It would be impossible to investigate
the condition of each Institution ; but let us
choose, for an indication of the rest, the Uni-
versity of Wurtzburg, and the Theresan Col-
lege at Vienna, in the midst of that Germany,
where, as the accusation runs, the Society of
Jesus had been most oblivious of its honorable
traditions. Of the former, we obtain our de-
tails from " An Essay on the History" of this
University, by Christian Bcenike. A cursory
glance at the work will remove all suspicion
of any bias for the Jesuits. On the one hun-
dred and sixty-first page, we find : " Father
Francis Huberti, professor of the higher

branches of mathematics, from the year 1754,



worthily filled the chair which had been
adorned by Fathers Athanasius Kircher and
Caspar Schott in the preceding century." On
page two hundred and seventy-three, we read :
" The zeal for Biblical and Hebrew studies, so
happily diffused through our University by
Fathers Videnhofer and Nicholas Zillich, de-
creased after their death. ... To restore these
studies, the Prince Bishop Adam Frederick
successively appointed to the Chair of Holy
Scripture Fathers Henry Kilber and Thomas
Holtzclau, who had published (in 1768) their
learned works on theology (the celebrated
theology of Wurtzburg) ." Thus sacred and
profane science were then flourishing at Wurtz-
burg, under the direction of the Jesuits.

Of the Theresan College, we obtain informa-
tion from a published letter of Rossignol de
Val-Louise, dated in 1767. After having cele-
brated the Imperial Gymnasium as one of the
most famous schools in the world, he thus
continues : " In this institution were assem-
bled the flower of the nobility from every
part of the Austrian dominions : there were
Germans, Hungarians, Italians, and Flemings.
There were cultivated, with the utmost dili-
gence and corresponding success, science, lite-


rature, and the fine arts. Natural History
was an object of particular inquiry. Collec-
tions were formed by the students, and the
productions of nature imitated. Mathematics,
natural philosophy, geography, history, music,
dancing, fencing, in fact, everything was taught
that could be deemed necessary to form an
accomplished cavalier.* Thirty of the pupils
devoted themselves to the study of jurispru-
dence. These being of a more advanced age
were separated from the others. Infidel phi-
losophy would scarcely appreciate the motive
of this discrimination. It was not then cus-
tomary to frequent the sacraments of Confes-
sion and Communion more than once a month.
These youths confessed and communicated
monthly, and were thus inured to such prac-
tices of piety, as they might be expected to
retain in after-life. But what will particularly
interest our countrymen of France, is the tone
of amenity, politeness, and urbanity, pervading
the school. A stranger was sure of hospitable
entertainment, and of being made to feel as if
he were in no foreign land. An interpreter
was not needed. The students spoke all the

* The College, at that time, counted among its profes-
sors, Khell, Michael Denis, Eckhel, Paul de Mako, etc,


languages with the same degree of facility,
and yet this exercise did not encroach upon
their ordinary tasks. The habit was thus ac-
quired. On one day of the week, all were
compelled to speak German, a second was as-
signed for Latin, the third for Italian, and
two days were prescribed for French. Thus
what I am about to relate will appear less
surprising. I was seated at table by the side
of the young Count Bathiani, an Hungarian,
of only eleven years of age. He conversed
with me for some time. I had already heard
him speak Latin with the fluency and pro-
priety of an experienced professor : when he
spoke French, you would say that he had
been educated on the banks of the Loire, at
Blois, or Orleans. Our conversation was prin-
cipally at the table. During the meal there
was no reading, in order that the students
might take advantage of that time to habituate
themselves to the use of the languages, and to
the manners of good society. For this object
the tables were round, or oval, and constructed
so as to accommodate eight students and four
Jesuits, the latter so distributed as to have care
of all. Each pupil, in turn, administered to
the wants of his companions, and thus learned


how to do so with propriety. Such decorum
regulated their whole conduct, that although
I remained for some time in their midst, I
never heard a single expression otherwise
than in perfect harmony with the respect due
to religion, with purity of morals, and with
courtesy which good breeding prescribes."*

This distinguished success, this splendor of
the Theresan College, this reputation which
attracted crowds of pupils, was principally
owing to the exertions of Father Henry Ke-
rens. Maria Theresa had observed his ex-
traordinary qualifications, and had specially
demanded him for her College, where he
taught moral philosophy and history, and was
afterwards appointed Eector. The Empress,
after the suppression, recompensed the zeal so
happily exercised in his former office, by
nominating him to the See of Neustadt.
There he displayed the sanctity of a worthy
prelate, and was one of the few possessed of
courage sufficient to resist the innovations of
Joseph II. The prefect of studies was Father
Francis Charles Palma, who also signalized
himself by his skill in directing and forming

* Letter to M. Noel, Editor of Gruthrie's Geography,
p. 16. (Turin, 1805.)



the young nobility. After the abolition of the
Society, Maria Theresa named him Bishop
Suffragan of the Archdiocese of Kolocza, in
Hungary. And, finally, in the same college
was displayed the ability of Father Sigismund
Hohenwart, professor and prefect, a man
familiar with almost every modern tongue.
To his charge, Maria Theresa committed the
education of her grandson, afterwards Francis
II. This prince, as a mark of grateful esteem,
obtained for him, in 1803, the Archiepiscopal
See of Vienna, and merited, by this happy
choice, the felicitations of Pius VII.

An examination of the other colleges of
Europe, will show the same flourishing condi-
tion, and the same remarkable men. Have
we not heard the honorable testimony borne
by the members of the University, to the
capacity of the Jesuits who directed the Col-
lege of Louis-le-Grand ? But why continue the
investigation ? We have already made an enu-
meration of members illustrious for their learn-
ing, who belonged to the Society at the date of
its suppression; these men, we repeat had been,
or were then professors, and in number sur-
passed those of the preceding ages of the Society.
Granting that in certain branches, theology,


for instance, they were behind their fathers,
for this they compensated by their superiority
in mathematics and the natural sciences, and
in everything were in advance of their rivals.
In theology, what magnificent professors were
Hermann, Manhart, Reuter, Gravina, Giorgi,
Piascevich, Kilber, Holtzclau, Neubaiier, Voit,
Faure, Bolgeni, Iturriaga, Gener, Sardagna,
Stattler, Stoppini, and Zaccaria ! Videnhofer,
Veith, Nicolai, Tirsch, Haselbauer, Weite-
nauer, Curti, Hartzheim, Goldhagen, Franz,
Khell, Zillich, Girardeau, in holy scripture
and the sacred languages ! Schwartz, Biner,
Zallinger, Zech, Stefanucci, Antony Schmidt,
and Vogt, in canon law ! Eximeno, Beraud,
ScherfFer, Eivoire, Pezenas, Lagrange, Yeiga,
Asclepi, Ximenes, Hell, Monteiro, Kratz, Ric-
cati, Benvenuti, Belgrade, Walcher, Weiss,
Weinhart, Wiilfen, Steppling, Huberti, Pau-
lian, Liesganig, Lecchi and Boscovich, in the
mathematical and natural sciences ! Contzen,
Storkenau, Du Tertre, Mako, Horvath, Sag-
ner, Andre, Para du Phanjas, Azevedo, Denis,
Terreros, Colomes, Isla, Guenard, Grou, Wurs,
Andres, Bettinelli, Mazzolari, Larraz, Rossi,
Rubbi, RafFei, Santi, Lagomarsini, Lampillas,
Serrano, Tiraboschi, Geoffroi, Desbillons, Bro-


tier, Fraud, Paul, D'Aussy, Ambroggi, Nog-
hera, Benedetti, Cunich, Zamagna, Morcelli,
in philosophy and literature ! Masdeu, Panel,
Schiiz, Keri, Daude, Schwartz, Hansitz, Hai-
den, Prileszki, Katona, Holl, Frcelich, Polh,
Kaprinai, Naruszewicz, Lazeri and Eckel, in
antiquities and the sciences connected with
history !

How then, let us ask again, with this cata-
logue before us, can we be told that the pro-
fessors of the Society of Jesus were absolutely,
or even relatively inferior? With whom
would you compare them? The Protestants?
But, at least in the natural sciences and theo-
logy, the Protestants of that, and former ages,
present no shining names. Their advance-
ment in literature, occurring in the last cen-
tury, is posterior to, or atmost coincident with
the dispersion of the Jesuits.

The friends of the Society of Jesus, there-
fore, retract none of the eulogies they have
lavished on the last days of that illustrious
body. They may continue to speak of the
grandeur of the Colossus, at a time when an
entire age combined to effect its demolition,
and they will not be charged with exaggera-
tion by men of intelligence, by men cognizant


of the facts. In unison with every great, every
noble voice of the time, they may join in de-
ploring the irreparable loss then sustained by
European literature and science; they may
send forth ardent prayers, that upon our age,
the unlucky heir to the miseries and ruins of
an age of infidelity, may not devolve the
heritage of its senseless animosities, that it
may permit the Society of Jesus to be con-
structed on its ancient basis, and allow it to
form a new generation, a generation of studi-
ous, learned and spotless youth.



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Online LibraryMichel Ulysse MaynardThe studies and teaching of the Society of Jesus, at the time of its suppression, 1750-1773 → online text (page 13 of 19)