Richard F. (Richard Frederick) Clarke.

Cardinal Lavigerie ; and, The African slave trade [microform] online

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Online LibraryRichard F. (Richard Frederick) ClarkeCardinal Lavigerie ; and, The African slave trade [microform] → online text (page 1 of 31)
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1889 ;

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ENGLAND lias for a century and more taken lier place
in the forefront of the anti-slavery crusade. She has
long since abolished slavery in all countries under her
own sway. She has rejoiced over its abolition in the
United States of America; her cruisers keep guard
along the African coast to prevent, if possible, or at
least to check, the export of slaves from thence : it is
her earnest desire to penetrate into the heart of the
African continent itself, and destroy the traffic in
human flesh, with all its accompanying miseries.

Various circumstances have hitherto combined to
defeat her designs of mercy. The conflicting interests
of the European Powers and the mutual hostility of
Continental nations have rendered impossible the united
action which alone could produce a permanent effect.
The complications of the Eastern Question have
entangled the position in Northern Africa. But, above
all, the fierce opposition of Mohammedanism to any
European interference with its career of conquest and
of crime has succeeded in frustrating the efforts of the
liberator, even when nominally supported by a Moham-
medan Government. One expedition after another has
failed in the face of the deadly enmity of the Crescent



to the Cross, and of the double-dealing, rapacity, and
corruption of Egyptian officials in the Soudan and on
the Upper Nile.

What has long been needed for the uprooting of
the traffic which degrades and depopulates Africa, and
inflicts on her children revolting cruelties and sufferings
that call out to heaven for vengeance, is an Apostle.
A man fired with the love of God and his fellow-men
can work wonders and attain results that diplomacy
and conferences and the action of the Powers can
never accomplish. Such a man must, of necessity,
have a difficult, it may be an apparently impossible,
task. He can scarcely expect himself to witness the
success of his work. He may pass to his reward with
the end apparently as far off as ever. He is certain to
meet with every sort of discouragement, opposition,
abuse, and ridicule. He will be regarded as a visionary,
an enthusiast, perhaps as a charlatan and an impostor.
But if he himself is defeated, his cause will ultimately
triumph. If he has to sacrifice himself for the cause
of the slave, the sacrifice will be accepted as the con-
dition of Africa's redemption from her present bondage.

Such an apostle, or one whom we may hope that
God has chosen for the apostolate, is the subject of the
following memoir. The name of Cardinal Lavigerie
is already familiar to Englishmen. He has visited
England and given a fresh stimulus to her zeal in the
cause of the slave. He is at the present time strug-
gling against difficulties enough to dishearten any
ordinary man. Jealousy, animosity, suspicion, the
accusation of political and self-interested motives, are
doing their worst to ruin his work. His proposal of


a Congress at Lucerne was unfortunately rendered
impossible by the French elections, which were impend-
ing at the time. He has been accused of postponing
it in order that France might dominate at its assem-
blies, and of being actuated by a desire to place other
countries at a disadvantage to his own.

It is difficult to refute such charges as these ; but
the fact that the programme of his opponents is that
which he had already determined upon, independently
of the representations of his assailants, is the clearest
proof of his disinterested motives, and of his devotion
not to any national or political interests, but to the
interests of our common humanity and to the cause
of God.

Yet the following pages are perhaps the best evi-
dence of what are the aims of Cardinal Lavigerie and
the spirit that has actuated his life. His noble self-
devotion is not the growth of a day or a year. It is
the growth of a lifetime spent in the service of God
and of his fellow-men. In his episcopate in France he
was the apostle of his diocese. In Algeria he was the
apostle of the Arabs, and that under circumstances
which rendered his apostolate a most difficult one. At
the present moment he is the apostle of the slaves of
all Africa. Many may doubt the possibility of success
in the crusade that he is preaching throughout Europe.
Some may regard any sort of armed interference as
likely to do more harm than good. Some there are
whose practical acquaintance with Africa has led them
to believe that it is from the English settlements on the
Western Coast that the work must be begun ; since
there, and there alone, the power of Islam is not yet


dominant. But all must allow that there is no man
living who has the power to effect the regeneration of
Africa that is at present in the hands of Cardinal
Lavigerie, and that, if the Congress of European Powers
is to take any active steps for the suppression of
slavery, they must listen to his counsels and avail
themselves of his personal knowledge of the country
and the people to whose cause he has devoted himself
from the first day that he set foot upon the soil of

In presenting this account of Cardinal Lavigerie's
life and labours, we have to acknowledge our indebted-
ness to Mgr. Grussenmeyer's interesting book, Vingt-
cinq annees d episcopal en France et en Afrique.

E. F. C.



CHAl'TKK *****







AFRICA . . . . . ... . . . 126




I. SLAVERY IN AFRICA ....... 245











Bayonne on October 31, 1825. His father occupied a
good position in the Customs, and his mother, Laure-
Louise Latrilhe, was a daughter of the Director of the
Royal Mint at Bayonne. Both parents were held in
general esteem on account of their high moral character
and strict religious principles.

From his earliest years the future Cardinal gave
unmistakable signs of a vocation to the ecclesiastical
state, those who were his companions still remembering
how he loved to give everything a religious colouring
and re-enact in his very games the ceremonies of the
Church which he had witnessed. As he was the eldest
son, his father had formed views of a different nature
in regard to his future career ; yet when he saw how
decided was the boy's vocation, he had the good sense
not to oppose it : Charles was therefore sent at an early
age to a school in his native town, and subsequently
to the Diocesan Seminary at Larresorre, where he
remained until he was fifteen.



In regard to'this'rjeriod of his life we cannot do better
than quote the words of the illustrious Cardinal himself,
written on the occasion of the death of Monseigneur
Lacroix, bishop of Bayonne :

6 The death of this memorable prelate has deeply
touched me, and this for two reasons. First, because he
was, in my eyes, the chief member of the French Episco-
pate, being moreover the bishop of my native diocese ;
and, secondly, because he played a part in the most
decisive actions of my life.

C I was about thirteen when I received from his hands
the sacrament of confirmation. He had at that period
been recently consecrated, and, looking back along the
vista of years, I can in my mind's eye still see him
entering the cathedral, his brow already whitened by
the snows of age. I can see the place where I sat, in
the nave just opposite the pulpit; I can hear his sermon ;
nay, more, I believe that I could repeat it almost verba-
tim, were I to try to do so, for the sentiments with
which his words inspired me thrilled to the very centre
of my being, and have ever since remained deeply
printed on my heart.

'But my reminiscences do not end here. In the
course of the following year, as I felt an ever-growing
certainty in regard to my vocation, my father presented
me to the Bishop. With equal fidelity can my memory
recall every circumstance connected with that first
interview. Apparently so unimportant, it was to hold
an important place in deciding my destiny. I can see
with the utmost distinctness the reception-room of the
episcopal palace, its ample proportions, magnified by
my childish imagination, its furniture covered with gold-
coloured velvet, the very sofa upon which the good bishop
was seated. My heart beat loudly as I found myself for


the first time in close proximity to a violet cassock.
But the genial kindness of the bishop's manner soon set
me at my ease.

' " So you have a vocation to the priesthood, my
child," he said, as he drew me to his side arid gently
stroked my hair.

4 " Yes, Monseigneur," I replied, emboldened by the
encouraging tone of his voice, my resolution meanwhile
getting the better of my self-distrust.

' " And what is your reason for wishing to be a
priest?" he asked in the next place.

4 " In order that I may have a country parish ! " I

6 My father stared at me, astonished to hear of these
rural predilections, the secret of which had never been
confided to him. The bishop smiled and said : " You
shall first of all go to the Seminary at Larresorre, and
then you shall be whatever God pleases."

' He saw more clearly than I could do what was to
be my lot in life. I went to the Seminary, it is true ;
but whither have not my wandering footsteps led me
since then? The country presbytery has never been
anything more than the dream of my childhood, and
sometimes, it must be confessed, one of the regrets of
my later years, amid the varied turmoil and agitation
which has fallen to my share. But God has led me
hither and thither at His own good pleasure, according
to the prophetic words of Monseigneur Lacroix, and
thus it has come to pass that I am writing these lines
amid the ruins of Carthage, and not in some quiet
corner of my native province.

'Strange as it may sound, it is none the less true
that the bishop, who, when he thus addressed me, more
than forty years ago, seemed to me quite an old man,

B 2


has grown younger in my eyes, in proportion as I
have myself advanced in life, and have found my head
prematurely blanched by the scorching rays of an
Eastern sun. Indeed the day came at last when I found
myself quite as old as he.

6 1 told him this on the occasion of my last visit to
France, several years ago. I chanced to fall in with
him as he was walking on the beach one summer even-
ing, accompanied by his faithful Vicar-General, M.
Franchistegny, and his devoted servant Ernest, his old-
fashioned carriage following slowly at a short distance.
If the bishop had confirmed me, it was M. Franchistegny
who had prepared me for my first communion, and,
finding myself thus unexpectedly thrown into their
company, it was only natural that a flood of bygone
memories should rush in upon me. I uttered my thoughts
aloud, and my two companions seemed equally in-
terested with myself in thus recalling the past. " You
must own," I said in conclusion, " that it is a very un-
common thing for an archbishop, who can boast a snow-
white beard and has attained to my mature period of
life, to find himself strolling along with the bishop who
confirmed him on one side, and the priest who pre-
pared him for his first communion on the other. The
strangest part of the story is that I look the oldest
of the three."

' Here Monseigneur Lacroix interrupted me. " Do
you forget that I am over eighty, while you have
scarcely passed your fiftieth birthday ? "

' " What you say is perfectly true," I answered, with a
smile, "but permit me to remind your lordship that there
are various methods of computing the length of our ex-
istence in this world. One plan is to count the number
of years we have lived, and another to reckon up the


number of miles we have traversed. It is certain that
incessant wanderings wear a man out as quickly as
succeeding years can do. Therefore, if you are thirty
years older than I am, I have assuredly traversed
thousands of miles more than you have, so that after all
we are much on a par."

In 1840 M. Lavigerie placed his son under the
care of M. 1'Abbe Dupanloup, afterwards Bishop of
Orleans, who was at that time Superior of the Lesser
Seminary of St. Nicholas in Paris. It was there that he
made his classical studies, having for companions and
fellow-students many who subsequently filled high
offices in the Church. But here let us once more listen
to his Eminence, as he gives, in a letter written nearly
half a century later to M. 1'Abbe Lagrange, the bio-
grapher of Mgr. Dupanloup, his first impressions of
the Seminary and its much-respected Superior.

' During the course of last year,' he wrote in 1883,
' I was on a visit to France, and it occurred to me
that I should like to see my old Seminary once more.
I never realised the wonderful genius of Mgr. Dupan-
loup as I did when I stood again within the walls of
St. Nicholas. The gloomy old house, with its dusky cor-
ridors and its courtyard shut in by walls so high as to
give it the look of a prison, joined to the shabby
sordid air of the neighbourhood, is calculated to have
a depressing influence. Yet, when I first beheld it, the
dreary abode was inhabited by a bright, joyous, youthful
band. Still the contrast struck me forcibly, coming,
as I did, straight from the bright cloudless sky and
clear mountain air of my southern home, where nature
smiles its most bewitching smile. The leaden skies and
damp fogs of Paris in October made my heart grow
faint within me, until existence itself seemed barely


possible under such conditions. But ere long there
rose above the horizon another sun which warmed and
cheered my soul, awaking it from its torpor, and flood-
ing it with light. The beloved and honoured superior
of the house transformed all things around us by the
power of his intellect and the enthusiasm of his soul,
transporting us all, masters and pupils alike, to those
sublime mountain-tops which the clouds of earth can
never obscure. His bearing, his carriage, his looks,
his words, the deep and living faith betrayed by all
his utterances, completely overcame us, and awoke a
mingled feeling of awe, admiration, and respect, which
no other individual has ever succeeded in calling out,
at least in my own case. He used his influence as
powerful natures alone know how to do, and carried
us away with him, as it were, in a whirlwind of fire,
desiring to take entire possession of us in order that he
might offer us altogether to Jesus Christ according to
the words of St. Paul, " For all are yours, and you are
Christ's." ' l

In 1843 Charles Lavigerie exchanged the Seminary
of St. Nicholas for that of St. Sulpice. He went first of
all to the house at Issy where he made his philo-
sophical studies, and then to that in Paris of which
M. de Courson was Superior. Here his rare talents
attracted the notice of Mgr. Affre, who had just
founded a House of Studies where the monastery of the
Carmelite Fathers formerly was, and which still retained
the name of Les Carmes. He now proposed to Lavi-
gerie that he should take up his abode there, in order
to prepare himself for taking an academical degree.
An offer like this, coming from such a quarter, virtually
constituted a command which left a seminarist no

1 1 Cor. iii. 23.


choice but to obey, and in October 1846, having just
completed his first year of theology, the young Lavigerie
removed to Les Cannes. Less than a twelvemonth
later he took the degree of bachelor and licentiate of
Arts, resuming almost immediately afterwards his
theological studies, which had been temporarily sus-
pended. He was ordained sub-deacon by Mgr. Afire
in December 1846, deacon by Mgr. Sibour in December
1848, and priest by the same prelate on June 2, 1849, in
virtue of a dispensation from the Holy See, as he had
not attained the canonical age of twenty-four.

As soon as the time came for the re-opening of
studies, he returned to Les Carmes at the express
request of its superior, in order that he might go
through the necessary preparation for his doctor's

This he attained in as short a time and with the
same marked distinction that had accompanied his
previous efforts. Of the two essays he submitted to
the examiners, the first was in French, entitled 'An
Essay on the Christian School of Edessa,' and dedicated
to Mgr. Sibour, the then Archbishop of Paris. The
second was in Latin, and entitled 'De Hegesippo,'
being dedicated to M. Victor le Clerc, President of the
Faculty of Letters. Both essays met with the highest
approval, and the youthful candidate received his
doctor's degree without a single dissentient voice.

In the course of the following October, M. 1'Abbe
Lavigerie was appointed professor of Latin literature
in the House of Studies mentioned above. The limited
income of this establishment did not allow of its offer-
ing a sufficient stipend to its professors, and he was,
therefore, appointed at the same time to be assistant
chaplain to two convents situated in the immediate


vicinity. These positions he continued to hold for
about three years, during which he graduated in
theology. By the express desire of Mgr. Sibour, he
competed, in December 1853, for a chaplaincy which
had fallen vacant in the Chapter of Ste. Genevieve and
came out first among the candidates.

He was, however, destined never to fill the office he
had thus won for himself. The impression he made
upon the examiners was so great, that in the course of
the same week the Archbishop of Paris introduced
him to the Minister of Public Instruction with a view to
his nomination to the Chair of Ecclesiastical History at
the Sorbonne. The appointment was at once conferred
upon him, and he entered upon his new duties in the
early part of 1854. The professorship lasted over a
term of seven years, but after his third year M.
Lavigerie was made honorary professor.

It is foreign to the purpose of the present work to
enter into a minute and detailed analysis of his lectures.
Several of the courses delivered by him have been
printed, amongst others a ' Study on Luther,' and some
6 Lessons on Jansenism.' These latter are more especi-
ally worthy of mention, as having roused into fresh
activity the slumbering animosities of the past century,
and brought down upon the head of the young profes-
sor a shower of attacks on the part of a journal which,
though Catholic in name, was Jansenist at heart. Then,
as ever, he showed himself to be a staunch champion of
the rights of the Holy See, and a firm upholder of
Catholic doctrine in all its integrity.

But though his professorial duties left him free to
engage in many good works, he felt that his powers
were cramped. The tranquil and somewhat monoto-
nous life of a lecturer, while it called into play his literary


talents and oratorical gifts, did not afford sufficient scope
for the exercise of his energy and activity. He was a
born missioner, and he needed a different and a wider
field of usefulness. He pined for freer air, and used, as
he said himself, to feel stifled and oppressed.

Ere long a new horizon opened out before him. A
Society had been formed among the leading Catholics
of^ Paris for the purpose of extending the religious and
political influence of France in the East by founding
Catholic schools there. M. Lavigerie shall himself tell
us how he became connected with it : -

' My confessor,' he writes, ' was at that time the
well-known Father de Eavignan, whose name, as I
inscribe it on these pages, awakens within me a feeling
of affectionate respect. From the outset I had been
strongly attracted to him by his eminent virtues, his
force of character, and in a measure also by the sym-
pathy engendered by the early recollections we had in
common ; for he was like myself a native of Bayonne, so
that we had both spent our childhood under the shadow
of the same ancient cathedral, living in different houses
in the very same street.

'Father de Eavignan was a consummate master in
the art of guiding souls, and thoroughly understood my
difficulties and aspirations, though he never spoke
openly about the unsuitability of the life of study and
professorial duties in which obedience to my ecclesias-
tical superiors had induced me to engage. He merely
dropped vague hints from time to time in regard to his
own settled conviction that a more congenial career
was in store for me, doing this doubtless with a view to
sustaining my courage until the right time should

' One day he told me that Father Gagarin had called


upon [him the evening before in order to inform him
that the members of the Society for the Promotion of
Christian Education in the East had decided that the
organisation and direction of the work ought to be
placed in clerical hands. Then he suddenly added, with
a significant smile, " These gentlemen all think that a
certain professor at the Sorbonne is the very man they
want, and they are anxious to secure him. What
answer do you commission me to give them ? " I was
neither surprised nor disconcerted, but expressed my
readiness to accept the proposal if Father de Eavignan
thought it to be the Will of God that I should do so.

6 " I do think it," he answered simply, and these
words settled everything. Whither have not these
four words led me since that day, during a period of
nearly thirty years ? For me the most important point
is that the protracted voyage, which must ere long
come to a close, should bring me at last to the haven
of peace !

'The next morning Father Gagarin made his ap-
pearance at my lodgings, and carried me off with him
in triumph to the room where the committee were
holding a meeting under the presidency of Admiral
Mathieu. The good father did not leave me time to
speak, but explained that he had arranged everything,
and I had merely come to receive the grateful thanks
of the committee. They were duly expressed, and
then the accounts were handed over to me, together
with the cash-box, the latter being absolutely empty !
As we left the house together, Father Gagarin looked
at me with a droll smile, saying as he did so, " My dear
Abbe, you are now afloat ; it remains for you to show
us how well you can swim ! "

This happened about the close of 1856, and from


that hour we may date the commencement of the
apostolic career which Cardinal Lavigerie has pursued
with untiring zeal and marvellous success until the
present time. In order to make the work known, and
raise funds for carrying it on, he used to go week by
week, when his duties at the Sorbonne permitted, to
some fresh town to preach and collect subscriptions,
beginning with those in the neighbourhood and, gra-
dually extending the circle until more distant spots
were reached. But his own graphic words shall tell
the tale :

' What mingled reminiscences I have of those days !
and what an intense sympathy I have ever since
felt for unfortunate individuals who have to go about
begging as I did ! Nevertheless in my mendicant
capacity I generally met with a kind reception, especi-
ally from the bishops. Nor were their flocks behind-
hand in generosit}^ and I could, did time permit,
relate many touching incidents, many instances of
heroic charity and unselfish liberality. But the roses
were by no means free from thorns, and I was bowed
out of houses not a few in a manner which was the
reverse of flattering either to the cause I was advocat-

Online LibraryRichard F. (Richard Frederick) ClarkeCardinal Lavigerie ; and, The African slave trade [microform] → online text (page 1 of 31)