The Columbia Encyclopedia’s
Crimes Against The Truth
HOW A POPULAR REFERENCE WORK IS BEING USED AS A
WEAPON AGAINST FREE CULTURE AND TWISTED TO
FIT THE PURPOSES OF LYING OBSCURANTISTS
A few months ago I published a work, “History’s Greatest Liars,” in which I examined a dozen manuals of world or European history which have issued from the American press in the last quarter of a century. Their main purpose seems to have been to tell Europe how to understand itself; to dispel the mist of superstition and prejudice with which its own earlier historians, from Gibbon and Mommsen to the great Cambridge History, have obscured its fine medieval record, and to select the vital elements out of the vast jumble of uncouth names, bewildering dates, and insignificant events which used to pass as history. But having to dip occasionally into these ponderous tomes in composing my earlier historical works, I have been repeatedly startled to find that what was — now — in the new history was not true and what was true was not new. I therefore made a systematic examination of the works. Within the prescribed limits of my book I could not pursue the enquiry beyond the Reformation, and in the present volume I extend it as far as the Second World War.
We realists will agree with Leonard Woolf when he says:
“The sordid and savage, story of history has been written by man’s irrationality, and the thin precarious crust of civilization which has from time to time been built over the bloody mess has always been built on reason.”
If the worst fears of many sagacious observers of our time are realized, same angel in the upper counting-house will in a few years write off the story of man, impatiently, as “From Armageddon to the Third World War.” And when I discovered that the new history was written under the influence and in favor of one of the worst agencies that have hindered progress for the last 15 or 16 centuries, the Church of Rome, I feared that it must have had some share in causing the present mental aberration of the race.
But how shall a man judge between the statement and the counter-statement? Most of my readers know that I have given the full evidence for our version of European history in scores of works. Other readers, it seemed, might turn to a very learned- looking new encyclopedia which assures them that in the compilation of it “enormous and painstaking effort was expended to make it the most complete and up-to-date of its kind.” For the second edition of this Columbia Encyclopedia, which was published in 1950, we are told that “every article was again most carefully scrutinized and, where necessary, pruned and revised.” I have checked it throughout on the points on which, as I have shown, the American public is duped by the new history and the latest edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, and here is the result.
The Columbia Encyclopedia
Death For Heresy Continues
Galileo And The Advance Of Science
The Jesuits And Democracy
Louis XIV And The Edict Of Nantes
Paralysis Of The Catholic World
Voltaire And The Philosophers
The French Revolution
The Fight For Democracy
The Papal States
The Revolt Against Reason
The Third Revolution
The Emergence Of Communism
The Papal Policy In The Twentieth Century
This work takes its title from the fact that it was, it says, “compiled and edited at Columbia University.” it must be the weightiest volume that the American press ever produced. The new edition of it, which appeared last year, seems to weigh about 20 pounds. What the advantage of compressing 6,000,000 words — the equivalent of 60 novels of the average length — in one volume may be I cannot imagine. It has the disadvantage that, while 30 folk simultaneously could consult separate volumes, of an ordinary encyclopedia, one must imagine a queue of readers impatiently waiting their turn in the National Library to consult this oracle.
The editors may plead that they had to find room for 70,000 entries. I venture to suggest that the number could have been reduced to about 20,000 if they had omitted one to three line notices of obscure villages abroad and obscure men, from the days of the pyramids to our own time, which no one will ever read; or, at the most, some learned professor, who has other and more reliable works of reference might possibly find an interest in one of these once in 10 years. Many further thousands of entries, short biographical notices of mythical saints, obscure popes, kings and queens who merely lived, loved and died, soldiers of no distinction, bishops, humdrum professors and authors, etc., might Safely have been omitted, and less space given to royal persons might have spared space for kings who really helped the world along or queens who sinned more picturesquely. The English Charles I and Charles II, for instance, have a full enormous page to themselves, while monarchs who are worth remembering get about a tenth of a page each,
But let me say at once that this encyclopedia has certainly one distinction, though it does not boast of it. It has more ladies than men on the list of its editorial and writing staff, 31 females and 28 males. We, of course, applaud their bold vindication of the new equality of the sexes; or we would applaud if we could take it as proof that the majority of experts on the many subjects discussed are now feminine. Unfortunately, we cannot infer that if we know the technique of creating an encyclopedia. A number of real experts are paid handsomely to write and sign lengthy articles on subjects of which they are masters, and the bulk of the work is copied from earlier encyclopedias by a large number of “Penny-a- liners.” None of the articles in the Columbia are signed. You might infer from this that all articles are written by experts, but we shall have reason, presently, to doubt this.
There are, on the other hand, peculiarities of this encyclopedia that one is tempted to ascribe to the preponderantly feminine character of the staff. Sex questions, for instance, which deeply interest large numbers of readers in America, are treated with an inconvenient delicacy or ignored altogether. The article “Sex” might be read in a Sunday-School, and it is perhaps creditable to the editors that they seem never to have heard, since they have not a line about them, of such things as sexology, adultery, aphrodisiacs, paederasty, sodomy, lesbianism, girdles of chastity, perversion, Ivan Bloch, Professor Kinsey, or any of the technicalities of modern sexology.
Doubtless it would be a mistake to affect to sex the same influence in the very different treatment of religion, which is boundlessly hospitable. Most of the articles of this nature seem to have been written by Fundamentalists or Catholics. On the cover the work boasts that it has at least a few words on every proper name in the Bible, and you know what that means for the Old Testament. From Adam and Eve to Peter they are treated with respect, and the writers who do not treat them with this respect are apt to be ignored. There is a paragraph about a Professor Haldeman who, it appears, was a school-master about the middle of the last century, but Mr. Haldeman-Julius is not mentioned. I should have thought that hundreds of thousands of Americans were more interested in my distinguished friend than in Abiaraph, Abitub, or Arboga. Last year the editors of the new International ‘Who’s Who’ did me the honor of putting me among the 40,000 most distinguished citizens of the earth, but, alas, I am shut out of this Columbia Valhalla. Atheism (which is wrongly defined) gets the same number of lines as Athangild. It has now as many supporters as the pope, but the encyclopedia assures us readers that it has now “few active advocates except the orthodox Marxian Communists;” who, by the way, have been for many years very chary of advocating it.
In contrast, Romanism is treated with a generosity that must have touched the hearts, if not the pockets, of its supporters. Just once or twice a bit of the truth slipped through while the censor slumbered. For instance, in the article “Eunuchs” it is admitted that men castrated for the purpose sang the soprano parts in the papal choir at Rome until the latter part of the 19th century. Catholics got this cut out of the last edition of the encyclopedia Britannica and vigorously denied it when I stated it.
But such lapses are rare in the Columbia. Usually in any article relating to the church there is so much suppression or smothering of harsh facts, so much truly Catholic sentiment, that one feels that the pope must have given, or sold cheaply, some of his Iron Crosses to members of the staff. In the chief articles (Mass, Eucharist, Confession, the soul, relics, lives of the popes, etc.) one seems to smell the fragrant breath of a Child of Mary. Saints and martyrs whom even the Jesuit experts have shown to be myths are here enshrined with all the old respect, while medieval mystics like St. Anselm get as much space as the Emperor Hadrian or Frederick II. Individual notices of scores of popes to whom not even a Catholic ever refers swell the volume of the work, and their virtues and high qualities — just two out of the scores of sinners are admitted to have been “immoral” — astonish us. Where it is advisable, from the Catholic angle, to be silent, the encyclopedia, is silent. It has no articles on toleration, persecution, the death-sentence for heresy, mental reservation, apostates, Catholic nullification of marriages, torture, Feasts of Fools, the Syllabus, etc., and other bits of false statement reconcile the reader to the peculiar position of the Church. For instance, in the article on marriage we read that “in all human groups, simple or advanced, anthropologists find monogamy to be the dominant form of marriage.” In so far as this covers the Catholic doctrine of the indissolubility of marriage it is the exact reverse of the truth.
In view of all this we know what to expect in the field of history, which today is more dreaded by the Church than science because in its own version of European history it rivals Baron Munchausen. Articles of an historical nature show generally — where the Catholic Encyclopedia has not had to be consulted, as in lives of saints, martyrs and popes — the guidance of the new history. In my criticism of this I complained in the first place of the way in which it slighted the most notable advances, from the modern angle, in the Greek-Roman civilization — the Ionic- Epicurean line of thought and its fine results in the science of Alexandria and the social-welfare schemes of the Roman Empire — and later attempts, foiled by the popes in the Dark Age, to bring the race back to this line. The objection applies in full force to the new encyclopedia. The growth of a sound conception of the universe and life in the ancient world is ignored, and the work of the Ostrogoths, the Lombards, and particularly the Arabs is miserably undervalued.
On the other hand the Catholic myth that their Church, instead of bringing darkness upon civilization, brought light into a dark world and made heroic efforts to preserve it after the collapse of the Roman Empire is sustained in hundreds of articles. In the list of the popes, which is obviously borrowed from the Catholic Encyclopedia, 40 out of the first 50 are described as saints. The halo decorates even Victor I (friend of the most brazen concubine in the harem of the debauched Emperor Commorlus), Collistus (ex- slave and, imprisoned for theft, and a corrupter of the church), Damasus (who got elected by his followers murdering 150 of those of his rivals, an acknowledged forger of lies and myths, and the only pope who was indicted by the civil authorities for adultery), Boniface I (who, fought his way to the throne), Zosimus I (whom some historians think as bad as Damasus,) Symmachus (repeatedly accused of adultery), and Hormisdas (whose son, “St.” Silvarius, succeeded to the papacy). The Church, moreover, gives the first 30 popes their halo on the ground that most of them earned the crown of martyrdom, whereas, even the Catholic experts on the martyrs like Duchesne, Delehaye, Ehrhard, etc., admit that only one Pope ever died for his faith. Even the ancient legend of the seven persecutions of the early church finds place in this up-to-date encyclopedia. History has recognized for the last hundred years that there were only two.
The Dark Age, it seems, has been so completely abolished by the new historians that it has not here been considered worthy of a special entry. It is explained in the article on the Middle Ages that at one time the phrase Dark Age was applied to the whole of the Middle Ages. No historian ever did this, so the encyclopedia’s little joke — that we now see that the darkness was not so much in the period as in the mind of those who considered it — falls flat. Nor is the encyclopedia more impressive when, following the new historians, it gives the Carolingian Renaissance as one of the great discoveries that make the Dark Age light. Our encyclopedia even says that “the preservation of classical literature was due almost entirely to his initiative” — which is more daring, even than the myth that “the monks preserved the classics” — but it admits that he is “scarcely to be considered educated by later standards.” In point of fact his secretary tells us that though he tried hard, he never learned to write. However, the encyclopedia tells us that he was a man of such “simple manners” and led such a “frugal existence” that the Church declared him “Blessed” (or a semi-saint). I should not have thought that any cultivated person was unaware that he was a savage in war (the Saxon war), and that he and his daughters and court had a notorious contempt for the Church’s supreme virtue, chastity.
As I showed in the earlier volume, it is now generally agreed in history that the work of Charlemagne has bean greatly exaggerated and that it was in any case wiped out in the next generation. I admit that the Columbia could quote in its support practically the whole of the historians, but listen to this. In its article on Pope Nicholas I, who became Pope 54 years after the death of Charlemagne, the Catholic Encyclopedia says about the time of his accession:
“Christianity in western Europe was then in a melancholy condition. The Empire of Charlemagne has fallen to pieces. … Christendom seemed on the brink of anarchy…. There was danger of a universal decline of the higher civilization.”
Contemporary with Charlemagne was the Lombard civilization in Italy which did make a permanent impression. Our encyclopedia barely mentions it. The pope and Charlemagne (who got most of his teachers from it) did their best to destroy it.
The article on “Education” (which is shorter than the following article on King Edward I) has not a single word about the system of universal free schooling for the sons of the workers in the Roman empire which had no equal in history until the French Revolution. Thus the reader who has been inoculated with the monstrous lie that “the church first gave the world schools” is encouraged to persevere in it. Much the same is the impression given by the article “Libraries.” There is a reference to the “great public libraries of the Roman Empire,” of which it is lightly said that as they were “filled with pagan learning” they were destroyed or burned. We are told also that the Arabs “collected and preserved many libraries.” Not a word is said about the burning of the Alexandrian Library and others by the monks and Christian mobs long before the Middle Ages began, and, as no figures are given, the reader gets a totally false, perspective. He might be less disposed to surrender the phrase Dark Age if he were told that the Alexandrian Library had about 500,000 books, and the Arab royal library at Cordova (in the 10th century) had the same number, but no monastic library in the whole of Europe had as many as 2,000 books (99 percent religious), and very few had 500. throughout the Middle Ages. Yet this is what the chief of the new historians, Professor Thompson, has established in his defense of medieval culture.
The article on Roger Bacon says of his 30-year confinement in monasteries of his order, which is fully substantiated in the most reliable biography of him, in the Dictionary of National Biography:
“Bacon would seem to be involved in some obscure trouble with the authorities of the Church, but there is no evidence that his difficulties were caused by his interest in science, and it would seem more likely that they were due to his notoriously pugnacious disposition.”
Instead of explaining that, as is now well known, his remarkable scientific learning was derived entirely from the Spanish Arabs through a school of their science at Oxford, it is scurvily granted only that he was “acquainted with Arab Aristotellanism.” Aristotle’s share in his science was like a single pebble in a truck-load of ballast.
The article on the Arabs is just as inadequate, and in the article on Sylvestus II (Gerbert) not a single word is said about the Arab character of his learning and his studies in Cordova. Under the title Canossa we get the discredited myth that the Emperor Henry stood or knelt three days barefoot in the snow begging absolution of the pope; a legend that Professor Thompson himself refutes. Under “Chivalry” we get the full flavor of the Catholic myth of the Age of Chivalry.
My readers will have noticed that in the field of historical lies this is my pet aversion, for this purely mythical moral splendor during three centuries is still generally believed outside serious history (and by most of the new historians) and regarded as one of the best redeeming features of the Middle Ages, while every historical expert on any country in Europe during the period (1100- 1400) shows that it is the exact opposite of the truth. Yet here in the Columbia you get the myth in all it’s virginal freshness. There is not even a hint that it was ever disputed. The “ethical code” of the knights, who were almost entirely on the moral level of Hitler’s worst troops, is said to be “Still the basis of the ethic of gentlemanly conduct.” We get unctuous passages like this:
“The cult of the Virgin, with which chivalrous love is intimately connected, was the supreme expression of the glorification of womanhood.”
That is as flagrant a defiance of the facts as the saying of a Jesuit writer that the Inquisition was a model court for the administration of justice. For the overwhelmingly greater part of the women of the Age of Chivalry were “viragoes,” as Professor Luchaire calls them, who despised tenderness and chastity. It is only when the Inquisition got busy that we find a few pious sonnets; and Bayard, who is here given as a type of chivalry, does not belong to the age of chivalry at all. The standard work of Leon Gautier is given as the chief authority, yet he says, often in violent language, just the opposite of what the dreamy writer of the article says. I notice that peculiarity in several places.
The Donation of Constantine, the blatant forgery by which the popes claimed that the Emperor Constantine had bequeathed nearly the whole of Italy to the papacy, may seem an awkward document to mention when the Catholic Encyclopedia acknowledges that it was a forgery. But Our encyclopedia glides gracefully — much more easily than its Catholic colleague — over the thin ice. It seems that it was “never of great practical value.” In point of fact, as I pointed out 30 years ago, Pope Hadrian, in whose court it was forged, expressly reminds Charlemagne (Ep. LX) that it was the bases of the swollen territorial claims of the papacy, and this makes it clear that the forged document was shown to the Frank monarch when he was taken, melodramatically, to the “tomb of St. Peter,” to sign the document which, by the way, mysteriously disappeared) in which he awarded nearly the whole of Italy to the pope. The Columbia adds that “it was not, as is sometimes asserted, universally accepted in the Middle Ages.” The undisputed fact is that from the date of Charlemagne’s award (774) to within a few years of the end of the Middle Ages (as fixed by this encyclopedia) it was universally accepted. To the great anger of the papacy, which severely punished him, Lorenzo Valla then exposed the forgery, but the Church insisted that it was genuine and up-held it until the 19th century. Equally false is the statement that the pope’s temporal power did not rest on the Donation of Charlemagne but on that of his father, Pepin. That monarch awarded the pope only the territory he had conquered in Italy, which was far smaller; and Pepin, an entirely ignorant and boorish soldier, was duped by a forged “letter from St. Peter in heaven,” which we still have, just as Charlemagne was duped by the forged Donation of Constantine.
For the errors and misleading statements in the devout article on the Crusades I should require an essay and must refer my readers to my discussion of these piratical expeditions in my earlier volume. Our encyclopedia regards them as an outcome of “the highest point which religious devotion had reached in Western Europe,” though it does admit an infiltration of less august motives. The description of the knights of Europe at the beginning of the 12th century as very devout is humorous. They were then in the most brutal and licentious stage of the so-called Age of Chivalry. In calling for the first crusade the pope, whose sermon we, still have, held out to the knights the prospect of rich loot, and all experts on the crusades acknowledge that, except in a few cases, the motives were greed, love of fighting, and liberation from the heavy feudal burdens at home. Historians admit also that the Turks did not hinder pilgrimages as the Columbia, says, and a crusade was unnecessary. The pope chiefly aimed at bringing the Greek Church under Rome. Naturally the perfidy and horrors of the Fourth Crusade, which I described in the earlier volume, do not appear in this article.
Just before the Fourth Crusade the Knights whet their appetites for loot in the massacre of the Albigensians, and this foulest episode of the 13th century is gravely misrepresented. The reader has not the least idea of its magnitude. It was not the people of Albi (one city) but a population of hundreds of thousands all over Southeastern France that defied the church: not because they all embraced what is called the Albigensian creed, which few strictly adopted, but because of the corruption of the church. The article does not tell that it took 300,000 soldiers several years to reduce the region, so numerous were the rebels. The article says that the action of Pope Innocent III in sending a body of preachers to them was decisive — they notoriously accomplished nothing and that is why the Pope turned to violence but their efforts were hampered by “the war which soon broke Out.” and this war was “overshadowed by political interests from the first.” This is a miserable sophistication of the whole ghastly story in order to conceal the guilt of the pope. Not a word is said about the duplicity with which he engineered the “war,” and the reader has no suspicion of the mighty volume during three or four years of rape, loot, and murder, as described, by contemporary Catholic writers.
Out of it all, as the encyclopedia rightly says, emerged the Inquisition; for even after the appalling carnage and the ravishing of the most civilized part of Christendom large numbers continued to reject the faith. So this grim institution was, says the encyclopedia, just “an emergency measure” — it lasted in Catholic countries until the 19th century — and in the usual fashion of Catholic propagandists it tells the reader that the worst evils were due to the civil authorities and the people, who, in their horror of heresy, compelled the gentle papal authorities to act. “Burning of heretics was not common in the Middle Ages” the writer says. The editors have overlooked the fact that in the article on Witchcraft we read, “Burning, as for heresy, was common.” He omits also to remind the reader that until the 11th century the population was too ignorant, the clergy generally too illiterate, and sensual, and the middle class too scanty for heresy to spread, and that burning began as soon as heresy began. But the chief fault of the article is to exonerate the clergy at the expense of the laity. The inquisitors, it says, were always anxious to avoid the extreme penalty but the civil rulers were sterner. All the greed and sacrifice of the innocent was, the writer says, because the confiscated property of the heretic went to them. It did not. It was divided between the informers, the Inquisitors, and the civic power. The writer does not perceive how much he (or she) gives away in saying that the civic authorities got the loot. It was just because civic rulers were so reluctant to persecute that the papacy tempted them with this loot, besides threatening them with excommunication. The writer also says that torture was used against “a long-standing papal condemnation of torture (e.g. by Nicholas I).” When a writer says “e.g.” he means that he is quoting one out of many others he could quote. He not only could not quote any others but Nicholas I himself never issued a general condemnation of torture. Neither that fanatical historian of the early medieval popes, Father Mann, nor the Catholic encyclopedia credits him with this. And at the close of this remarkable article the writer warns the reader against Lea’s scholarly work on the Inquisition as out- dated and inaccurate, and recommends instead a zealous French Catholic and two other works that I cannot trace.
The Society of Jesus is another of those subjects as to which much mendacious Jesuit literature is in circulation, and a neutral encyclopedia ought to give a correct statement of facts only. Here again I must refer to my earlier volume. It is enough that here all the charges brought against the Jesuits, as much by Catholics as by non-Catholics, until modern times are lumped together, solid or exaggerated, and handily declared ridiculous. The reader must just take the word of the anonymous writer. There is then a summary of their glorious record — the zeal for purity particularly tickles me as they were notoriously the confessors of most of the loose princes and nobles of Catholic Europe — and their distinction in science and learning. It is, of course, not stated that when Pope Clement XIV suppressed the society in 1773 he emphatically endorsed the charges brought against it by the Catholic monarchs. And the authorities given for these entirely Catholic contentions are, of course, a bunch of Catholic writers.
Speaking of Jesuit writers reminds me that one of the more learned of them in the last generation, the French Jesuit Delehaye, was a leading expert on martyrs. The martyr-literature of the Church is so packed with forgeries that Delehaye and other clerical experts could not even pretend to apply modern historical methods to it and not acknowledge that it is for the overwhelmingly greater part a mass of forgery, yet in popular Catholic literature and the ritual of the Church all this Catholic scholarship is completely ignored. Out of this dilemma the Columbia easily escapes. It has no article on “Martyrs.” But it has a short article on the Colosseum, the ancient Roman Amphitheaters, which closes with the words, “According to tradition persecuted Christians were thrown here to beasts.” Now this is the subject of a special work by Father Delehaye, who shows that there is not a particle of evidence that any Christian was ever “exposed to lions” in the Amphitheater. Similarly, it has long been known, and acknowledged by Catholic scholars like Delehaye and Duchesne that the “martyrs of the Catacombs” are mostly bogus, but the long article on the Catacombs in the Columbia does not give a hint of this.
An amazing contrast in historical values is seen in the twin articles “Reformation” and “Catholic Reform.” Whether it occurred by accident in the allocation of themes or from a politic fear that American Protestants would not tolerate the familiar juggling with facts in the cage of the Reformation I do not know, but while the article on the Reformation is very fair and based upon Protestant authorities, the article on the Catholic Reform is on the worst lines of the new history. We are told that “it is pejoratively” — get out your best dictionary — “called the Counter-Reformation”; as, in fact, the best Catholic historian of the last 50 years. Dr. L. Pastor (whose work is not mentioned), calls it. To call it that, we read, is to suggest that it was only a response to the Protestant Reformation; when practically all European non-Catholic historians assert and no one who knows the facts can avoid saying. Except that we get a frank reference to the corruption of the bishops and the immoral Renaissance papal court, the article is the same tissue of lies and sophistry as that which I examined in the previous volume.
“The central feature of the Catholic reform was the Council of Trent” we read, and the popes of the Council were Paul III (who resisted the Emperor’s demand for a council — he was too busy enriching his four children), Julius II (one of the most repulsive popes of that gay century) and Pius IV (after whose election, says Pastor, “the evil elements at once awakened once more”). As a matter of historical fact, the Council did not begin its debates until 1562, when the Reformation had swept over half of Europe; but, of course, it is “pejorative” to say that the reformation provoked it. The reign of Paul IV (died 1559) was, the writer says, “devoted to the purge of the papal court,” and from Paul’s time dated the “quasi-monastic air that has ever since characterized the Vatican.” Phew! In the earlier volume I quoted a Cardinal’s description of the papal court in 1670, a century later, as grossly corrupt. The “quasi-monastic” makes me laugh when I remember how, in 1904. I stood on the summit of the Capitol in Rome with an American official who knew it well. He pointed out the house of the mistress and children of Cardinal Vanrutelli, who had got several votes for the papacy in the 1903 election. As, I showed, only three popes, who ruled collectively for only 15 years, brought about a limited reform of Rome (chiefly in regard to sex); and the statement that there was Catholic Reform in England, France, and Spain is ridiculous.
Among the many pages on saints my eye is caught by “St. Bartholomew’s Day, Massacre of,” and I turn eagerly to the account of this foulest outrage of the 16th century (which is supposed to have followed the Catholic Reform). Only 20 lines are devoted to it (much less than to the St. Bernard Dog), and nothing is said about the appalling extent and brutality of the massacre. The article on the Thirty Years’ War is worse. In the vein of the new history it is represented as predominantly a political struggle. “It was,” we read, “a general European war” and “it is recognized today that the accent placed by 19th-century historians on the religious aspects is misleading.” This is recognized by nobody except Catholic and the American new historians, and it is worse than misleading that an encyclopedia that presents itself to the public as neutral should say otherwise. In fact, the writer then goes on to describe it as an almost purely political struggle; a conflict of petty German princes and foreign powers — France, Sweden, Denmark, England — against the Holy Roman Empire. France notoriously refused to take part in it, to the great anger of Rome, and one does not need to know much to realize that if you strike it out of this list you have simply a conflict of Protestant and Catholic forces. As I told in the earlier volume, the papacy had collected funds for years for a war for the extinction of Protestantism. It was instigated by the Jesuits through their royal and military pupils, and they moved freely in the imperialist camps; and the papacy subsidized it until, near the end, Pope Urban VIII allowed his greedy relatives to appropriate the whole of the war-fund. That political antagonism entered the quarrel no one ever disputed, but it was overwhelmingly a religious war, and a war of the most barbarous description.
The article on Galileo and other articles will be considered presently, when we examine the new historians on these points. But it must be understood that there are very many other articles besides those I have noticed, or will notice that are very far from being neutral and balanced statements of the facts. In the few lines on Satanism we have a purely Catholic perversion of the facts. Apart from witchcraft, which was a formal religion or cult of Satan, the Black Mass was either a hypocritical exploitation of the rich by priests, as it was in the time of Louis XIV, or, as regards recent times, a fiction of novelists. The long article on Scholasticism is obviously Catholic and gives no hint of the ordinary philosophic estimate of that weird collection of disputations about fixed dogmas. It amuses me when it says that the University of Louvain, under Cardinal (then Professor) Mercier, was a busy center of the new zeal for Thomism. I was Mercier’s favorite pupil there, and he let me know how far his creed was from that of Thomas Aquinas.
The article on slavery is a masterpiece of misrepresentation. Slavery in the Roman Empire is most unjustly described, and it is said that the introduction of Christianity “mitigated” their condition. It was, in fact, relieved by the Stoic-Epicurean lawyers and, especially, the great Epicurean Emperor Hadrian. But not a word is said about the many pagan condemnations of slavery — we still have fine speeches against it by the friend of the Emperor Dio Chrysostom — and, on the other hand, the defense of it by the two leading Catholic moralists, Augustine and Aquinas. The reader does not get the faintest idea, how the lot of the urban slave in Rome was transformed before 150 A.D., or how vilely the serfs of Europe (real slaves and the bulk of the population) were treated for seven centuries, and in many countries longer. He does not realize, though a little reflection would tell him, that it must be so, since the whole of those wonderful moralists, the Scholastics, who are now proposed to us as moral guides, failed to condemn slavery or serfdom, and that no pope condemned them until the French philosophers of the 18th century taught them justice. The introduction of slavery into America — it had never been fully abolished in Europe — is misrepresented in the interest of the Church. The large use of slave-eunuchs by the Moslem is heavily censured, but it is not mentioned that the Spanish Arabs were furnished with castrated slave-boys — apparently castrated by the monks — by Catholic France. Wilberforce is said to owe his zeal for abolition to his Christian piety, whereas his very orthodox sons admit in their biography of him that he learned it from skeptical writers and was himself a skeptic for 10 years afterwards.
It will be understood that for my present purpose I have not made a systematic examination of this 6,000,000 word encyclopedia. I have just selected a few articles in which I was likely to find the kind of prejudice and untruth which I suspected after my analysis of the new history. Any reader who is familiar with my writings on the popes for instance, will be amused to read the article on the papacy and the scores of notices of individual popes. It is amazing how many virtues of them (generally vouched for by their epitaphs) I overlooked and how many vices of theirs the writers of the encyclopedia overlooked. I have, moreover, confined myself to historical articles, and in fact to such as relate to Catholic history and therefore properly confirm my suspicion that the Catholic Church in America, with its masses of ill-instructed voters and readers, has such influence on the circulation of books and periodicals through its hold on bookstores, libraries and reviewers. that it is directly and indirectly poisoning the sources of public instruction. But I am little more than half-way through my task and must return to the analysis of important points in the new history, now coupling with it a glance on each point at the Columbia Encyclopedia.
When we cross the chronological line of the year 1600, which we did at the close of the first part of this work, an important point to consider is whether the foul practice of imposing penalties, especially the death-penalty, for criticizing the traditional creed continued in what the historians called Modern Times. Some of our historians blunt the edge of the indignation of their readers at the horrors of the Inquisition — if they have been conscientious enough to tell these — by reminding them that the Protestants as well as the Catholics now punished or executed men for heresy. Some go so far as to insist that Catholics, having so exalted an opinion of their creed, were logical and consistent in doing so, while the Protestants, being free to read both sides and less peremptory, had no right to inflict such penalties. To all such Sophistry in the mouths of laymen we moderns reply that the papacy and the hierarchy were mainly defending their own privileges by such outrages on the most precious of all freedoms, the right to form and assert one’s own convictions. And it is, in any case, most unjust to Protestants to suggest that as long as they had the power to do so they were equally guilty with the Catholics of torturing and murdering men who differed from them.
One has a right to expect historians who claim that they apply psychology to the record of the past to remind their readers of the momentum of tradition, as few of them do. As this horrible practice had been forced upon the civic authorities of every country long before the, Reformation and men had been taught to regard it as a vital part of religious duty, no impartial person would expect the Protestant powers at once to reject it, especially in the time of religious wars and Jesuit plots and revolts. Yet it died out in Protestant countries when this turbulent period was over, though the state was still all-powerful and the nation in each was still virtually united in its faith. In England, which had never admitted the Inquisition but had a national law, the statute De haeretico Comburendo, condemnings, heretics to be burned, this was abolished as early as 1678. In France, torture or execution for heresy continued until the days of Voltaire; in Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Latin America until the 19th century. Hardly one of our historians notices this socially significant fact. Not one notices the still more important fact that the Church of Rome still officially claims in its Canon Law, reaffirmed in this century. not only that it has the right but the duty to put heretics (by which it means all who were once baptized in it, even as infants, and have quit it) to death, and therefore to inflict on them any punishment short of death. No Protestant church has held that for more than 200 years. But the Catholic Church is bound to revert to the practice if ever a Catholic government feels itself strong enough to permit it. Take no notice of American Catholic writers who say otherwise. Let them quote a papal declaration that the law is, not in abeyance, but is officially disowned and abolished.
The last historical phase of this infamous practice on a large scale gives us a splendid opportunity of testing the reliability of the new history. In the 16th and 17th centuries the sacred fury expended itself mostly upon witches and I do not know a single one of our historians who has a correct idea of its nature. The majority of them do not mention it. Professor Langer refers only to witchcraft in America. The few who do refer to “the abominable superstition,” as Professor Lucas calls it, have the old discredited idea that the witches were men and women who individually “sold their souls to the devil,” or aged and neurotic dames who were suspected by the people of having done this. “It was still generally thought,” says Professor Lucas, “that the evil spirits and the. devil operated in the witches.” It is true that this was a common opinion, but the mass of definite evidence that has been collected in recent years, particularly from the records of trials of witches, shows that witchcraft was an organized religion, spread from end to end of Europe, with at least hundreds of thousands of adherents at any time in the 16th and 17th centuries, having a large body of officials who were the equivalent of priests and a ceremony of initiation for which the women presented even their babies in arms, and with apparently as many men as women members.
It was a definite cult of the devil (called the Spirit) and on intelligible grounds. If, on the lines of the ancient Persian religion, which was its chief root, God created Spirit only and the devil created matter (including the body) — if God put a harsh prohibition on sex and the devil must encourage what he had created — man’s supreme, friend was the devil and not the Christian God. The sexual hypocrisy of nearly the whole of Christendom century after century encouraged the creed. It was not a revival of the Albigensian creed, for the real Albigensians frowned upon sex as the work of the devil and honored Christ as a “pure spirit.” The witches respected Christ as the apostle of austerity and worshipped the devil. They did not, as in the popular conception, sell their souls to the devil in order to get preternatural powers, knowing that after death they must join the devil in hell. They made no claim to unusual powers, and they rejected the repulsive Christian idea of the devil and hell.
The evidence for this view of witchcraft has been collected by H.C. Lea in his posthumous “Materials Toward a History of Witchcraft” (3 vols. 1939), the German expert Dr. W.G. Soldan, and especially Dr. Margaret Murray, of London University, (“Witchcraft in Western Europe,” 1921). It is so generally accepted in Europe, that it is recognized in the latest editions of both our leading encyclopedias, the Britannica and the Americana. I am not for a moment suggesting here that our now historians are claiming to have corrected the “Old” history. The endorsement by the whole of them of the theory that has been current in European history for centuries and their complete exclusion of the new view just confirms what I have said: the writer of a universal history must on most points take his views from others, and the new historians have unfortunately taken theirs largely from Catholic writers. The Columbia Encyclopedia amusingly illustrates this. The writer of the article on Witchcraft gives the old idea in all its ripeness, never even mentioning that it has been challenged, and then he blandly gives as his chief authority Dr. Margaret Murray (whose book he or she has never even glanced at), the ablest and most convincing champion of the new view.
The fault of the new historians here is the more remarkable because the old idea of the witch is not only ridiculous in itself but was completely refuted by authentic evidence given in so important an American publication, with a special chapter on the subject, as Prof. A.D. White’s “History of the Warfare of Science with Theology” (3 vols. 1876). The old idea, so incongruous in the “new” history, was that these witches were wrinkled old dames who lived in isolation, generally on the fringe of a village or the forest, yet used once a month to repair (flying through the air on a broomstick) to some glade in the forest where they held an orgy (apparently with a company of devils) with all the sexual vitality of goats.
Apart from this inherent absurdity, the evidence given by Dr. White, later multiplied enormously by Lea and Dr. Murray, ought to have blown the old myth sky-high. It is a letter written in 1629 to a friend by the Chancellor of the Bishop of Wartzburg about things that are happening under his own eyes at that time. He says that 400 men in his city have been, or are to be, arrested on the charge of witchcraft, and they include a dean (who has been tortured), several priests, 14 seminary students, the notary of the Church Consistory (a very learned man), and several lawyers and city officials. Several beautiful and virtuous teen-age girls and hundreds of children of both sexes from the age of three to five have been or are to be executed. This was the situation in a large number of German cities, to the panic of the clergy. In three months 900 were burned in the bishopric of Barberg and 600 in another bishopric. The one historian who has attempted to compute the number of witches burned says — doubtless with a large exaggeration — that it is 9,000,000. Another historian says that 300,000 were burned in England, where, Miss Murray shows, the cult was similarly organized and so firmly held that women willingly died for it. It was the same in France. An entire region in the South of France is described by the distinguished judge who was sent to clear it up as wholly given up, including the priests, to witchcraft and sexual orgies every month. Yet in this vast spread of a rival religion to Christianity on the threshold of modern times our new historians, who give one-tenth the space to it that they give to many an insignificant monarch or saint, are so little interested that they just repeat about it an old legend that breaks up from its inherent absurdity the moment you reflect upon it.
As we approach Modern Times our historians see that the science which is slowly developing into one of the most beneficent of human agencies must receive more attention, I assume that most readers will agree with me that it is mainly in virtue of our science and our social idealism that oar age has risen — or had until the present demoralization began a few years ago — so high above all earlier ages. A modern history ought, therefore, to make a special point of tracing the broken course of these two factors through the past 2,500 years, and in this our historians almost completely fail. Instead of doing justice to the Ionic-Epicurean- Alexandrian development of science they enlarge upon Aristotle — is it because Catholics are now calling their philosophy the Aristotelic-Thomist philosophy? — and they do little justice to the great revival and further development in the Arab-Persian world. Instead of frankly describing the fine social schemes inspired by the Epicureans in the Roman Empire, they, or most of them, ascribe the improvement to the new religion which, when the Empire perished, let the whole of its social welfare work perish. Scarcely one of them fully acknowledges that the revival of civilization in Europe was initially due to the influence of the brilliant civilization — brilliant in science and social welfare as well as art and wealth — of Arab Spain. They echo the absurd Catholic pretensions about “the science of the school-men.” They suppress all the evidence of the church’s hostility to science and all reference to the imprisonment of Roger Bacon and the tragic fate of Cecco d’Ascoli and Vesalius; and they do not tell how Copernicus, who got his central idea from the revived Greek literature, was so persecuted that he dare publish it only as an hypothesis, and only when the door of escape to heaven was opening before his eyes.
We now come to the famous case of Galileo. Most of our historians (Langer, Sheppard and Godfrey, Geise, Sellery and Krey) seem to have decided that this little matter of the persecution of Galileo was not worth mentioning. Others (Boak, Slosson, and Anderson) refer to the first trial, which was comparatively harmless, and not to the scandalous second trial, condemnation, and grave persecution of the aged scientist. Professors Wallbank and Taylor (II. 40) on the other hand say that “in the last trial torture was applied to the old scientist, now 70”; of which there is no evidence, and it seems unlikely. Professor Perkins says (351):
“These revolutionary teachings (that the sun is stationary and the earth moves) were regarded by many as wicked contradictions of the teaching of the Bible. The clergy feared that they would turn men away from religion. Here, Galileo was imprisoned and forced to swear that his teachings were false.”
This sophistication of the facts is hardly better than suppression. Some of these historians who set out to help us really to understand the mind of the Middle Ages have strange ideas of the conditions. The common people about whom — according to them — the papacy was so concerned, not only know nothing whatever about the new idea of a central sun, but very few of them had ever heard that Joshua had once commanded the sun to stand still. Not more than 10 percent of the Italian people could read and not 1 percent ever read the Bible; and the idea that the Old Testament was read to them in church is absurd.
Professor Lucas may have been conscious of this when he says that Galileo annoyed the philosophers. who followed Aristotle, and these approached the theologians, who as a rule were friendly towards the theories of Copernicus. In point of fact it was the Polish clergy, not the Italian professors of philosophy, who intimidated Copernicus. “However,” says Professor Lucas, “Galileo harshly ventured into biblical scholarship” — to the profound extent of pointing out that Joshua (or the writer) evidently believed that the sun traveled round the earth — and so drew upon himself an inevitable condemnation. This, however, was “not an official pronouncement of the Church because the pope did not sign it.” He seemed to think that the Sacred Congregation was not an official body.
The wickedness of Galileo, he says, forced the Church from both its earlier and its later liberal attitude towards science. To justify the latter part of this strange proposition he asks us to observe that from this date onward we find eminent men of science equally distributed among Catholics and Protestants. The partisan is apt to form his own opinion as to who is or is not eminent in Science, but fortunately Professor Lucas has several admirable chapters on science and names about 70 of its more distinguished representative in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. Omitting those whose opinions about religion are obscure. this is what we find:
- 17th Century — 4 Catholics and 12 Protestants.
- 18th Century — 3 Catholics, 6 Protestants and 9 Rationalists.
- 19th Century — 4 Catholics, 8 Protestants and 22 Rationalists.
A complete list of the more eminent names of the last hundred years, when distinguished men of science have been so numerous would betray that not half a dozen out of hundreds were Catholics. I have shown repeatedly that such men is Pasteur and Claude Bernard are falsely described as such.
Professor Barnes, who rightly treats European history since 1600 in large developments (political, economic, etc.) rather than detail, avoids the persecution of Galileo, but I feel that in his fine work he has suffered some influence of the new history in his treatment of science. He is severe on earlier historians of science who followed, he says, “the once popular doctrine that medical superstition was suddenly superseded in the late 15th and 16th centuries by the rapid and unparalleled discovery of scientific truth” (II. 143). They thought, he continues, that the flight of the Creek scholars to Italy when the Turks captured Constantinople in 1450 (which he counts the end Of the Middle Ages) brought about the Renaissance, and this led to the Reformation and the Age of Enlightenment. Now he says, we realize that the roots of the scientific development that appears in the case of Copernicus and Galileo go far beck into the Middle Ages. We perceive, in fact, that the Crusades were “the most potent influence in introducing Muslim and Hellenistic science into Europe.” Greek science — there was none in the medieval Greek empire — or that of the Alexandrian Greeks was incorporated in Arab culture long before the 12th century, and this in turn was penetrating into Europe (see Gerbert, for instance) long before the first crusade; apart from the fact that whatever love of luxury the few brutal chiefs of the Crusades who returned to Europe brought with them, they were certainly not of a character to introduce science. That science was brought into Europe from Arab-Spain and Sicily in the 10th and 11th centuries I have myself always contended and do not know any serious older authorities who differ.
Professor Barnes is here misled by the work of Professor Thorndike, “The History of Magic and Experimental Science” (2 vols. 1923), which, he imagines, traces a good deal of the mastery of science by Christian Scholars before the year 1300. But all Professor Thorndike’s heroes were known cultivators of Arab science. They are men who either went to study in the Arab colleges (Gerbert, Abelard, William of Auvergne) or men (Grosseteste, Bacon, etc.) whom these taught. Such details as he adds do not alter our general estimate. The point that is really open for fresh research by an unprejudiced investigator is why, if Christian scholars were welcomed to Arab colleges as early as the 10th century, even the science of astronomy — in which the Arabs had made great progress, made so little, if any, advance in Christendom until the end of the 15th century. The science of chemistry, we admit, was much cultivated, because princes and prelates were eager everywhere for the chemist or alchemist to find the elixir of life (to keep them out of heaven as long as possible) and the philosopher’s stone (for turnings. base metals into gold).
The experience of Copernicus and Galileo on the threshold of the scientific age, and smothered with Catholic sophistry and mendacity ever since, ought to be presented with scrupulous accuracy to the modern reader. If I do this, briefly on the facts as they are determined by the leading experts — Prowe for Copernicus and Favaro for Galileo — the reader will see how unsatisfactory the new historians are at this point. Niklas Coppernigh (in Latin Copernicus) was not “a devout Polish priest,” but a loose-living Prussian medical man whose bishop-uncle made him titular canon (though never priest) to give him an income. He spent some years in the universities of North Italy, but did not lecture there or in Rome. In North Italy he picked up the old Greek idea that the earth circles round the sun, and after his return to Poland verified it with instruments of Arab origin; but the scheme of the solar system which he worked out was totally wrong. The hostility of the clergy forced him to put off the writing and publication of his famous book until the end of his life, and even then he had to represent it only as an hypothesis. When Galileo, now armed with a telescope, proved that it was a fact and was so indiscreet as to mention Joshua he was, in 1615 summoned by the inquisition, headed by Cardinal Bellarmine, and his theory of the central position of the sun was condemned as “formally (explicitly) heretical.” Whether he solemnly promised never again to teach it is disputed. The highest authority, Favaro, denies this. Copernicus’ book was put in the index, and the teaching of his system was forbidden in all Catholic colleges until the 19th century.
Eighteen years later, there was a second and far more serious trial of Galileo, and the account given by A. Favaro, the chief Italian expert (not translated, I believe), is based upon documents in the possession of the Vatican which were taken by the French but were not made public until late in the last century. These and Favaro’s work are not taken into account by the new historians and are not mentioned in the bibliography of our “up-to-date” Columbia Encyclopedia; and Fahie’s book, which it recommends, is too early to take account of them.
Here I need say only that the documents show that Pope Urban VIII, who is generally represented as benevolent to science and most considerate to Galileo, pressed the trial with great harshness, even cruelty in view of the age and illness of the scientist, because Galileo had, in his recent book, made him ridiculous in the eyes of Rome: that the statement, that the earth revolves round the sun was again declared formally heretical; and that, while the actual use of torture is improbable, there is a significant blank in the records from June 21 to 24, and Favaro thinks that this means that Galileo was in the dungeon of the Inquisition. He was exiled from his beloved city, Florence, for the rest of his life. And the Catholic Professor Walsh says in his “Popes and Science” that Galileo’s life was “one of the most serene and enviable in the whole of science.”
So generously has the new history broadened the opportunities of the lying propagandist that he now occasionally advances claims for the church which arc positively indecent in their audacity. Last year the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus (who still believe that the medieval knights were chivalrous) issued, and supplied free to the American public in hundreds of thousands of copies, a pamphlet with the title “Is the Catholic Church a Menace to Democracy?” On the contrary, it assures the defenseless public, it is just from the Jesuit theologians of the church that the Fathers of the Revolution got the idea of democracy. On page 17 it has a short article “Did, Bellarmine whisper to Jefferson?” To support this weird idea of the ghost of Cardinal Bellarmine, head of the Inquisition and the man who condemned Galileo, inspiring Thomas Jefferson, the most dogmatic materialist in American literature, the article gives a number of quotations from the works of Bellarmine — in the usual Catholic way, no reference is given so nobody can check them — and a number of sentences from the Declaration of Independence (which many attribute to Thomas Paine) and asks us to Admire the identity of sentiment and even of language. Other Catholic writers couple the Jesuit Suarez, also of the 17th century, with Bellarmine as co-discoverer of the Sublime principle of democracy.
Now if this sort of thing were worth serious examination we should ask a few questions about it. Isn’t it much more likely that Jefferson, who is not known to have wasted much of his time on medieval theologians, got his democracy from English writers of the time of the Civil War (Lilburn, etc.), or French skeptical writers of the 18th century whom he read; assiduously? Did he rely need to borrow the idea from anybody, seeing that it had occurred to lesser men over and over again in the course of history from the Greeks onwards? How was it that the Papacy tolerated this teaching in the works of two important Jesuit’s while it insisted on the divine right of all Catholic kings? How is it that that stupendous monument of American Catholic scholarship, the Catholic Encyclopedia, which in its long articles on the two Jesuits does not say a word about this wonderful anticipation of modern ideas, missed such a golden opportunity? How is it that in the great fight for modern democracy (1760-1860) the papacy was the most determined supporter of the murderous anti-democrats? and so on.
We will not pretend to be surprised that our own historians entirely ignore this discovery of the American Jesuits, though since it has been forced upon the public by Catholic propagandists for the last 30 years we might hope to find some notice of it. It is true that on earlier pages we have found them violently, even heatedly, lashing out at unnamed writers (mostly Catholic fiction) who are supposed to have said that Europe was entirely boorish, and gross during the Dark Age; that this Dark Age lasted until the 15th century, that the 13th century was still a gross age: that it was the church that began the burning of heretics and the Reformation was mainly caused by the corruption of Rome and so on. But, of course, in these cases it is anti-Catholic writers whom they rebuke. However, while we should not dream of expecting them to refute the statements of Catholic historian, we could justly demand that on all issues of vital social importance they ought to provide an adequate and correct statement of the facts.
Now on this question of the evolution of the democratic idea, which to us moderns is as vital as the evolution of science, our historians, while devoting much space to political evolution, no more give an adequate account than they do in the case of early science. in fact, our Columbia Encyclopedia has a good word to say for the Jesuit theory. In its article on the Jesuit Suarez, which occupies just as much space as the article on Charles Darwin, it says:
“His teaching on the Divine right of kings, that earthly power is properly held by the body of men and that kingly power is derived from them …
The democratic idea had, of course, occurred to men (in Greece) 2,000 years before the time of Suarez. It was one of the most valuable elements brought back to the race by the revival of classical literature, which our historians generally disparage. Early in the 12th century one of the pupils of Abelard, the noble- minded monk Arnold of Brescia (whom the popes judicially murdered) preached the idea with great success in the cities of North Italy. Our historians never explain why these cities were more enlightened than Rome until recent times, and they misrepresent the democratic movement in them and at Rome and do not give the reader the least idea that in Rome democrats fought the pope for two centuries and were as savagely treated by the popes as by the foulest monarchs. We shall find them just as careful to suppress the facts for the 19th century, when a full knowledge of the fierce and bloody hostility of the popes to the democrats would enable the reader to distinguish soundly between reactionary and constructive agencies, which Catholics do not want him to do.
We shall see that presently. Meantime, it would puzzle any reader who knew both the ancient and the modern history of democracy to understand how it can ever be claimed that just when royal absolutism, according to all historian became worse than ever (in the latter part of the 16th century) two Jesuit theologians who were in all other matters as narrow-minded as Thomas Aquinas, insisted that a nation had the right to self-government and could depose a misbehaving king. Our historians might at least have reminded their reader’s of one change that would at once give them an idea of the value of the Jesuit argument. Half the monarchs of Europe were now Protestants, and the Jesuits were plotting everywhere to undermine their authority. The Jesuits had entered upon the cloak-and-dagger phase of their history. When, in 1589, the French king, Henry III, was murdered by a monk for his anti- papal policy, the leading Jesuits of Paris publicly applauded the murder. One published a book which defended regicide, and a pupil of the Jesuits attempted to murder Henry IV. If this was their attitude in a country which was mainly Catholic, what would they be likely to say about Protestant monarchs like Queen Elizabeth?
Bellarmine and Surez were especially concerned about James I, who was trying to discover traitors by imposing an oath of allegiance on the Catholics who Survived in England. So they made the timely discovery that God conferred upon the people the right to govern themselves and the people could delegate this authority to a king. Naturally, if he misbehaved they could take back their power or depose him; provided they had “the sanction of the Church,” as the article on Bellarmine in the Encyclopedia of Social Science says. The whole theory was a trick to get individual Catholics to murder, of the people to rise against Protestant rulers, and it was quietly dropped when the iron curtain was established between Protestant and Catholic Europe, especially when the Catholic kings forced the pope to suppress the Jesuits. The Papacy which had in the 12th century condemned the English Barons for demanding what is now respectfully called the first instalment of democracy, Magna Carta was still in the 19th century the strongest support of the vile monarchs of Naples, Spain and Portugal in their wholesale massacres of democrats. But you won’t read that in the new history.
In the 17th century Italy and Spain sank rapidly into the ignoble somnolence in which they would remain as long as they were Catholic. Germany was paralyzed by the Thirty Years’ War, and England was checked in its progress by the Civil War. France, which had ignored the pope’s order to enter the religious war, grasped its opportunity and became the most brilliant and most prosperous power in Europe; and its splendor culminated in the reign of Louis XIV. There is here an admirable opportunity to test the value of any modern history, and it is easy to do so by seeing whether the history accepts or rejects the gross compliments that Catholic literature pays to Louis XIV and his work. He has come down to us as “The Great Monarch,” “The King Sun”; not only the most magnificent king in Europe, but the man who raised France to the peak of its prosperity and splendor.
In modern critical history the gorgeous robes and impressive physical appearance of Louis XIV barely cover an ignoble personality; a man of gross appetites in food and sex, a man so weak in self-control that, in defiance of his church, he never made the least effort to keep within the bounds of decency in these respects. He had a mediocre intelligence and a monstrous vanity, and whatever great work is assigned to him was performed by his two chief ministers, Colbert and Louvols. The gorgeous palaces (Versailles, etc.) which seem today to the tourist to confirm the legend of his greatness really bear witness to the callousness of his egoism, for the funds were wrung cruelly from a vilely-treated and sometimes starving people. For their capital city, Paris. he hid a contempt, and he very rarely ventured into it because it was squalid and resentful. The one important act of his reign for which he was personally responsible was the revocation of the Edicts of Nantes; that is to say, the annulment of the charter of toleration of Protestants, an act which inflicted appalling suffering on the best part of the nation and began the ruin of his country. From the social and moral point of view his age was not glorious but fully equal in viciousness to the “glorious” 13th century.
In face of all this the duty of a modern historian is clear, and our new historians fail in it. They cannot, of course, repeat the Catholic legend of Louis XIV in its full flavor, but they suppress the unflattering truth and so confirm the legend in the minds of readers. Oar Columbia Encyclopedia gives him three times as much space as it gives to the Emperor Hadrian, and, beyond casually mentioning his mistresses, conveys the impression that he really was a great monarch and had “an infinite capacity for work.” Professors Boak, Slosson, and Anderson allot him a “glorious reign” with a few shades. Wallbank and Taylor find him a man of “more than average intelligence.” But I do not here so much complain of what they say as deplore the lack of frankness which leaves the Catholic legend intact. In no chapter have we found them describing the social and moral grossness of the general population, lay and clerical, and I submit that that is because they would have to tell truths that would be quite inconsistent with their continual praise of the Church as a moral agency. Moreover, in the 16th century they all claim a great reform of the Church, and the reign of Louis XIV affords a unique opportunity to judge what the reform was worth, for we have a better knowledge of its character than of that of any previous century.
For the writing of one of my books I read a large volume of the official police records for the time of Louis (the Archives of the Bastille). Stenography was now in use, and these long verbatim records of trials, helped out by the horrible tortures in the jails, afford an almost unique picture of the criminality of the greatest city in Europe. Poisoning with arsenic was terribly rife, especially in the middle class and a dozen priests in the actual service of the church duped and exploited the wealthy middle class and the nobles by performing “black masses,” by means of which they professed to put folk in contact with the devil. It is a Catholic lie that this was done only by a few ex-priests. There was not one ex-priest among them, and some were fashionable preachers in Paris. Babies were sacrificed to the devil, and some of the highest ladies in the land lay nude at the altar while the priest said his parody of the mass on their bellies. The vilest scum of Paris hung round the palaces, even the royal palace, and pandered to the unrestrained passions of the nobles. The Cardinal Arch bishop flaunted his mistresses as openly as the king, and the people sang ribald songs about him in the streets. On account of Louis XIV, says the Duc de Saint Simon, one of the chief French writers of the age, “Paris became the main sewer of the lusts of Europe.” Gambling was more sordid than in any other age, and in some ways the glittering nobles were filthy. There is an unforgettable scene in a letter of one of the literary ladies. There had been a Quarrel between the King and his chief mistress. He complained that she stank because she never took a bath, and she retorted that the smell came from his chronically foul breath. In another letter we find one of the greater nobles receiving convoys as he sits on his pot in his bedroom in the morning. The streets of Paris still had no pavements and no sewers. Filth was thrown from the bedroom windows in the narrow streets, down the middle of which an open sewer trickled, and the stench was notorious throughout Europe.
This was Paris in the glorious reign. But our historians do not think it of interest to describe these things, or to tell how the streets of Cordova had been paved and sewered seven centuries earlier and the streets of Rome a thousand years before; and I have admired a good sewage system in a Cretan Royal Palace that was nearly 4,000 years old. Our tourists find confirmation of the legend of the Golden Age of Louis XIV when they visit his superb palaces. No one tells them how the money to build them was squeezed out of the veins and pores of the people. A large part of the country was at one time so distressed that folk fled to the woods from the tax-gatherer, tried to live on grass, bit into their own limbs, or ate bodies of some of the nude children who wandered in troops over the country.
As to the moral value of the church, the life of Louis itself is eloquent. From the age of 16 to 45 he had a succession of mistresses who were as well known as Mrs. Truman is in America today. Did the Jesuits denounce him one of the monarchs whom the people ought, on their “democratic” theory, to depose? On the contrary, during all this time he had successive Jesuit confessors and none of them demanded the dismissal of his mistresses as their own theology required them to do. Nearly all the nobles and ladies and mistresses had Jesuit confessors. It was their golden age. At the age of 45 Louis fell under the influence of a lady (herself a convert from loose ways) of strict virtue and piety. In view of his age, poor health, and the pace of his life it seems probable enough that Louis had lost his vigor. However that may be, Mme. de Maintenon and the Jesuits closed round him, foully persecuted the Huguenots, and in the end persuaded him to do penance for his sins by revoking their charter of freedom, the Edict of Nantes. it was, apart from the vast amount of suffering, a deadly blow to his country from which France never recovered. It is estimated that 300,000 families of the most sober and industrious type fled, and England, in which most of them settled, rose to the level from which France fell. As Professor Barnes says, “the Protestants had been butchered in droves.”
Some may claim that, however much France sank in prosperity it must have been morally improved. It was not. Although the king dropped his mistresses (and took to pious savagery instead), the nobles, as the Cambridge Modern History shows, were as flagrant as ever after Louis’ conversion. And it was far worse after his death. It is undisputed that in the higher clerical and aristocratic circles the standard of conduct fell lower than ever. With all his industry in love-making Louis had left no son, an the Duke of Orleans became Regent. He, his licentious (and probably incestuous) daughter, and his debauched favorite, Cardinal Dubois, presided over orgies in the court that had been unknown under Louis. The Cambridge History says (VI. 332):
“The open vices of Orleans and his daughter doubtless contributed to the lawlessness of society, but in the reliable memoirs (Saint Simon, etc.) the vilest stories relate not to Orleans but to others, and the example of the prince was followed by the dukes and by such of the nobility as came into contact with society and by lawyers and financiers.”
But what was the reformed papacy doing? It had made a cardinal of one of the vilest of the courtiers, Dubois, and the distinguished jurist President de Brosses tells us in his ‘Familiar Letters’ that on his visits to Rome he found Pope Benedict XIV (counted by Catholics the greatest pope in two centuries) eager for the latest smutty stories about the court and “full of good stories about girls” himself.
You cannot fully understand the French Revolution if your historian refuses to say a word about all this, yet there, is not a word about it in most of the new histories.
By the second half of the 17th century the struggle of Catholic and Protestant, which had cost millions of lives in a century, was over. Europe was now divided into two halves by the real Iron Curtain of religious hatred. At this point a historian who is faithful to his primary social duty, which is to enable his readers to recognize which agencies in the human tragi-comedy have been progressive and which reactionary, would pause to contrast the fortunes during the next two centuries of, respectively, the countries which still followed the guidance of the pope and those that did not. It would doubtless be considered a sectarian act if he did this too pointedly, but at least he ought to provide his reader with the facts. In this again the new historian completely fails. The story of each country in modern times is told at some length, but in the case of Catholic countries we have just the conventional account of kings, battles, and similar matters without any indication of the causes of their decay. The historian is careful not to draw attention to the fact that the more solidly Catholic a country was the deeper it sank, while the Protestant countries rose as rapidly as the Catholic countries declined. That is the broad and significant fact of European life from about 1650 to the French Revolution or, with that interruption, to 1850.
On the extreme wings of the European world, untainted by heresy, were Catholic Poland and Ireland. Poland showed the last flicker of its earlier greatness under Sobieski in the 17th century and then became the drab, illiterate, anarchic, and miserably poor land that its neighbors would cynically divide between them in the 18th century. After that it falls out of the news until 1918.
Ireland had long before dropped out of European consideration, and it remained ignorant, violent, fanatical, and impotent. It is sometimes said that we must make allowances for its poverty in natural resources, but that did not matter much until the Industrial Revolution began; and the historian smiles at the complaint that all its misfortunes were due to English misrule, which was certainly grievous. It and Poland were, until the second half of the last century, On a level with the strictly Catholic countries: Italy, Spain, Portugal, and South America. And not simply socially and economically, but in regard to what the Church calls virtue.
Spain and Portugal were the most conspicuous examples of Catholic paralysis, for they had under the Arabs far surpassed every other country in Europe in size and population, prosperity in every class, enlightenment, and general character. This prosperity had been lowered by the real Moors, who were Moslem fanatics from Morocco and were far inferior to the Arabs, before the Spanish Catholics, with the help of a vast army of French and English knights, had fallen upon it, but until the 15th century the Catholic kings were as a rule sufficiently independent of the Church to take over the culture and the services of the Arabs, Moors and Jews. But when the final step, the conquest of Granada, was taken, the priests had only a fanatical queen and the crafty and unscrupulous Ferdinand to deal with, and they were permitted to set up the harshest intolerance and the most truculent branch of the Inquisition. The popes, our historians generally point out, did not control the Spanish Inquisition. No, they wanted to, but Ferdinand and his clergy coveted the rich spoils (from confiscation) for themselves, and warned Rome to keep out. The, ruin which this brought upon Spain was checked for a time by the gold of America — they had learned navigation from the Arabs — then a palsy crept over the short-lived brilliance of Catholic Spain. Before the year 1,000 the Peninsula, or the lower half of it, had supported 30,000,000 of the happiest, most prosperous, and most enlightened people in Europe. Before the end of the 17th century, Spain — the whole of Spain had only 6,500,000 people, and they were among the poorest and most ignorant in Europe; and certainly not more virtuous than any other. Spain and Portugal fell under the same disdain as Poland and Ireland in the eyes of Europe.
Italy, as statesmen would say at a later date, had become, thanks largely to the ambition of the papacy, “merely a geographical expression.” The northern one-third of it was under Austria, as the heir of the Holy Roman Empire: the central one- third was the kingdom of the pope; the south was the kingdom of Naples. Except for one or two small Balkan countries which were ruled by the degenerate Sultan of Turkey the papal kingdom and that of Naples were the poorest in wealth, culture, and character in the whole of Europe. I return to them, especially the papal states, in later sections. The north was in far better condition than these, and the apologist at once points out Austria, which ruled it, was a Catholic country. You will look in vain in the new history for the explanation; which is that while it did remain Catholic after the Thirty Years’ War, its most famous monarch in the 17th century, Joseph II, the man who did most to raise the level of its civilization, was a pupil of Voltaire and, in express defiance of the pope, ruled it on the principles of the French deists and atheists. The Columbia Encyclopedia, while giving a list of his great reforms and even some of his anti- clerical measures, goes out of its way to deny the influence of the French Freethinkers, against all authority. Joseph was a contemporary of Frederick the Great and drew his inspiration from the same source. Prof. Harry Elmer Barnes’s edition of Ploetz’s “Epitome of History” (1935), which is necessarily very brief in it’s notices, is moved to lengthy admiration of the reign of Joseph II — he regenerated the Austrian monarchy, lending it nobility and vitality — and it alone frankly tells how he defied Rome and disbanded 30,000 monks. But Dr. Barnes is, as I said, not properly counted among the new historians.
And this concealment of the truth about the lack of social inspiration in the Catholic faith which, in view of its pretensions in our time, is very important, is further helped by the way the development of French civilization is treated. The general corruption of which I gave some idea in the last section plainly shows, since the church professes to be particularly concerned about sex-morals, that it had no social influence and therefore nothing to do with the rise of the nation, but by suppressing these facts the reader is left to entertain the claim of the Catholic apologist. Naturally any thoughtful man will reflect that if the church had no influence on sexual conduct and general viciousness it certainly had none on the increase of wealth, the progress of art, and military victories. The truth, of which the reader gets no idea, is that France was not at all a Catholic country in the same sense as Italy, Spain and Portugal. The best elements in the Church itself defied the papacy and declared the independence of the Gallican Church. There were more than a million Protestants in the land, and the licentiousness of the higher clergy encouraged. the skepticism that had been growing for a century. A number of the greatest French writers from the 16th century onward — Montaigne, Cyrano de Bergerac, Moliere, Boileau, Bayle — were Freethinkers and had extensive support in the middle class. France was only in a formal sense a Catholic country,
On the other hand the Protestant countries advanced rapidly once the religious wars were over and the devastated areas restored. England, in suite of the reaction of the Civil War and the Puritan period, became superior to any in art, science, literature, trade, and prosperity. Holland acquired a trade, prosperity, and social position which most folk have now forgotten. Prussia, under the Skeptical Frederick, became the most enlightened and one of the mast advancing countries in Europe. Switzerland, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden won an importance they had never had before. There is no need for learned research in making up the account. Every historian knows, though few will say, that the Catholic world sank lower and lower, and in proportion to its Catholicism. The new history offers no explanation of this interesting phenomenon.
The chief defect of the writing of both science and history is that a vast amount of unnecessary detail is included. This tires and repels a reader and he is less able to appreciate the (educationally) more important general truths. The new history not only has this general defect, but it fails repeatedly even to mention the general truths, especially when these would be resented by the Catholic authorities. Every other development — artistic, literary, political, economic, etc. — receives full and impartial treatment, but situations and events which the Catholic apologist wants suppressed are either omitted or scantily noticed or misrepresented. I have here nothing to say about the historian’s excuse that he would be trespassing on the domain of theology (as he quite often does when it gives no offense) if he stated these, or that in writing for the public he has no right to affront one-fifth (as Catholics count) of the American nation. I am content to state the facts.
When we come, as we now do, to the 17th century, we find another of these lamentable omissions. There is no good ground for saying, as most of our historians do, that the Middle Ages ended in 1450 or even 1550, but they might plausibly argue that Modern Times began about 1750. A new conception of life, a new spirit, won its way into the mind of the middle class, which then, at least, might justly be called the backbone of a nation, and long before the end of the century it was recognizable as the modern conception which, after overcoming the devils or dragons of the first half of the 19th century, established itself and has transformed the world. None of our historians make this quite clear. The new conception is associated especially with the work of a number of French writers who have, not very aptly, come to be known as “the Philosophers”; unless the word be used in its original sense, “seekers after wisdom.” But they sought wisdom, not in the cloud-land of metaphysics, but in regard to the nature of the universe and of man and his practical problems. In the last century they were apt to be superficially dismissed as a bunch of Atheists or near-Atheists who, by disturbing the religions serenity of the French mind, “unleashed the passions of the mob” and caused all the bloodshed of the Revolution.
This miserable caricature of a great and pregnant development was so thoroughly discredited by the modern French historians (and the writers of the Cambridge Modern History) long before the new history was born that it is not included with other Catholic myths in the works I am examining. Even the Columbia Encyclopedia has a long and generally admirable article on Voltaire; though it is sublime in its simplicity when it says that, “his chief flaw is his prejudice against religion.” Professor Langer, it is true, virtually ignores the whole movement and thus leaves the stirring 18th century unexplained in some of its most important aspects. All the others are complimentary even to “Voltaire the Scoffer” and to the romantic revolutionary Rousseau.
But they completely fail to impress the reader with the historical importance of the school as a whole. Professor Geise goes out of his way to criticize “the Age of Reason” at great length and in effect suggests that the Romantic School which arose in reaction to it was more important, which, we shall see, is absurd. Professor Lucas observes (693) that Voltaire’s age did not understand the profound importance of medieval culture in the history of civilization; which reminds us only of the inflated language which the new history uses about the beautiful 13th century and the Middle ages generally. He does, however, later say, if too inadequately, that humanitarianism was “a marked feature of the Age of Reason.” Professor Barnes rather Surprises us by criticizing Voltaire’s lack of taste, which suggests that he is unaware of the grossness of morals and manners during the reign of Louis XIV and the Regency (in which Voltaire was educated); and he fails to appreciate Voltaire’s splendid and self-sacrificing work for political freedom, toleration, and other social ideals. As to taste, Voltaire was an aristocrat of exquisite taste though apt to use the freedom of speech of the time in his jibes at the hypocritical church. He was as fond as any other rich man of the pleasures and luxuries of Paris, yet rather than stifle his indignation at untruth and injustice he spent nearly the whole of his adult life in exile from it. Compare the futility and self-indulgence of the arch bishops and conservative nobles of France.
But what one chiefly deplores here is that the whole of our historians and the Columbia Encyclopedia fail or decline to inform their readers of the Profound social importance of the work of the philosophers and the high distinction of most members of the group. In earlier sections we have found them complaining that when a brilliant period like the Renaissance opened the “old” historians did not recognize its roots in earlier centuries. Now they fail lamentably to show how the great developments of the 19th century were deeply rooted in the French school of the 18th century; and one cannot hesitate to connect this defect with the fact that the religious authorities bitterly resent any candid treatment of the fact that European progress was so slow under the Church but, in its social aspects and in regard to science, entered upon a stage of rapid advance when the clerical lead was replaced by that of a brilliant group of Freethinkers. These men thought primarily of inducing the world to look to science rather than to theology or philosophy, but they meant science in its broadest range; social, political, and economic reform as well as astronomy, physics, biology, and anthropology.
Their chief instrument of education was the famous encyclopedia in 53 volumes which they published, in difficult circumstances and under heavy persecution, from 1751 to 1772. There are few modern reforms of which you will not find the germ in it, while the criticism of religion in it is not obtruded. It had for the time an enormous circulation in France and abroad, for some of the ablest scholars and writers in Europe contributed to it. Professors Sheppard and Godfrey make the curious reflection (II, 148) on it:
“It lacks the scholarship such a compendium of the arts and sciences merited.”
The list of its chief contributors includes the famous Baron de Montesquieu (the real pioneer of modern democracy, whose great work “The Spirit of the Laws” makes Bellarmine and Suarez look like thimbleriggers), the still more famous Count Buffon (the greatest scientist of his age), Voltaire (certainly the most brilliant writer and historian of his age), Rousseau, Turgot (the founder of economic science and one of the ablest ministers of state), Laland (one of the finest astronomers and mathematicians of the time), Euler (“probably the most talented mathematician that ever lived” says Dr. Barnes), D’Alembert (who was hardly second to him), Diderot (one of the most learned men in France), Bernouilli (famous Italian scientist), Marmontel (one of the most brilliant French writers of the time), Baron D’Holbach, Helvetius, and others of the most cultivated writers in Paris. It is strange to find Dr. Barnes, who has only a few lines on the work — he calls it “a monumental survey of knowledge” — saying that these writers “shared with Aquinas and Duns Scotus many of the problems they discussed” (II. 185).
In spite of the high position of the chief writers they had to produce their work in the teeth of fierce hostility. As volume after volume was more or lese secretly printed and published they were repeatedly condemned and the authors threatened. When the work was near completion the clergy bribed the printers to mutilate the finest articles after Diderot had passed the proof. But the leading Minister, the Due de Choiseul, a secret skeptic, and — it is amusing to learn — the king’s chief mistress Mme. de Pompadour protected the rebels, and the great work circulated freely when its arch-critics the Jesuits, were suppressed by the pope as grave offenders.
The immense influence of the book rebukes our historians for taking so little notice of it. Such was its circulation that the printers made a profit of $5,000,000: an immense sum to make out of a literary and scientific work at a time when little more than 10 percent of the community could read. It electrified the French middle class and put into their minds the germs of all the reforms which they put forward in the Revolution before the pious Robespierre ruined it with his Supreme Being and Terror. Germany, where Frederick II (more French than German in culture) warmly welcomed the chief writers, now ceased to be a medieval power and entered the modern world, the world of Goethe, Catherine the Great welcomed them to Russia, where it seemed for a time as if the modern ideas were dissolving the medieval feudalism. Joseph II of Austria eagerly accepted the ideas of the Encyclopedia, as I said in the last section, and in the 10 years of his reign made immense progress in the reform of his country. In north Italy its plea for reform of prisons and the penal code inspired. the Marquis de Beccaria to write the first great work on that line. Its gospel penetrated even the sordid kingdom of Naples, and an enlightened Voltairean minister” Tannucci, bravely attempted to cleanse the Augaean stables; The greatest pope of the century, Benedict XIV, corresponded amicably with Voltaire, but here the medieval thickets were too dense and profitable for the reform idea to make progress.
Europe was “filled with it and shaken by it” says an authority in which we should hardly expect such language, the Encyclopedia Americana. The most eminent minister that Portugal had in that century, the Marquis de Pombal, a Voltairean, began with great success to save the country from the squalor into which it had drifted, but the clergy checked and then ruined his work. The equally distinguished first minister of spain, the Count d’Aranda, a friend as well as a Pupil of Voltaire, initiated a series of notable reforms in Spain, but again the church destroyed his work, Even in England the French Encyclopedia had a host of readers, and the reform ideas which spread in England before the French Revolution came mainly from it. and from writers inspired by it. One reads still how the abolitionist William Wilberforce was inspired by his deep Christian faith to take up the cause of the abortion of Slavery, but I do not know any historian or writer on the subject who quotes from the official biography of Wilberforce, by his orthodox sons, that he was a skeptic until near the age of 30, and he learned his zeal for abolition from French skeptical writers whom he read in his teens. From England and France the ideas of the French Encyclopedia, perhaps copies of it, crossed the Atlantic — Jefferson, at least, was a goad French scholar and prized the friendship of some of the French skeptics — and inspired men like Franklin and Jefferson with their social idealism. The reform which the work advocated — it was in the encyclopedia that Jean-Jacques first expounded his dream of equality — was later thundered over the world by the French Revolution. The royalists and clerics flattered themselves that they had buried them forever after the fall of Napoleon, but it is the realization of these ideas that makes our world superior to any age that has gone before. No other single work has had so beneficent and massive a part in making the new world. But the new history dismisses it in a short and tame paragraph.
Professor Barnes introduces his treatment of this most towering event of the 18th century, this first fine fruit of the French Encyclopedia, with this admirable passage (II. 107):
“The French Revolution was long portrayed as an epic of blood and glory. The Reign of Terror loomed up as the great event of the Revolution. … A subsequent generation of historians have tended to minimize the element of gore and confusion. They have made it clear that the French Revolution represents a very considerable collection of permanent achievements in the creation of modern society.”
We may wish that he had made it plainer that in this case he does not mean that it is the new American historians who have corrected the older libels of the Revolution. For more than half a century Paris University has had a special chair of the history of the Revolution, and the old libels were completely refuted before the end of the 19th century. In fact, even older and more conservative French historians like Thiers, Taine, and Sorel had refuted most of the lies that had got into English literature, and from it to American, from emigrant nobles and priests — even Carlyle, exposed many of them in 1836 — and they were finally dismissed from serious history in Professor Lavisse’s “History of the Revolution” and the works of Professor Aulard.
Yet, these lies are still much alive in literature. Not many years ago a novelist who is well above the average in culture spoke casually and irrelevantly about “the prostitute who sang ribald songs from the High Altar of Notre Dame”: a gross misrepresentation of a solemn and artistic pageant that was performed in the cathedral when it was used no longer for Catholic services. Quite recently, that distinguished British scholar and humanist, Dr. Gilbert Murray, has repeated some of the worst of the old legends in a published lecture. Thus a much larger literature than that of the Catholic propagandist still spreads its lies While, especially since it has became the fashion to couple the French and the Russian Revolutions. Catholic radio and Catholic influence, in the press have given a new vitality to the old lies. In these circumstances, while We do not expect the new historian to quote and condemn these Catholic lies, he may surely be expected to give an adequate account of the facts which are so grossly falsified.
In this they again fail us, though most of them give a generally fair account of the course of events. The broad truth about the Revolution which not only as a matter of historical truth, but for purposes of social controversy today, ought to be impressed upon the reader is that the actual revolt in 1789 was accompanied by little bloodshed even on the part of the ignorant masses. It was a fine middle-class overthrow of a galling tyranny, which at first demanded even less than the Fathers of the American Revolution demanded and then proceeded during two or three years to reform the country and draft a constitution that was more admirable than any other in Europe and included more social advances even than the American.
There were no official reprisals, as there would be when the clerical-royalists recovered power, and the burning of the Bastille and attack on the Tuileries cannot be considered popular outrages, especially as the king drew his armies round Paris. There were a few individual mob-outrages in Paris, but the chief acts of violence were the burning of chateaux and murder of small nobles and their families in the provinces. There is solid contemporary evidence, not noticed by any of the new historians, that it was agents of the Duke of Orleans, who coveted the throne, who went out from Paris and inflamed the densely-ignorant peasants by spreading rumors that the king and the nobles were plotting against them. The guillotine was not even invented until three years later, and the execution of the king and queen, still later, was voted by the Assembly because they attempted to fly to join the bitter enemies of the republic abroad.
It is mentioned by few of our historians that the Revolution was voluntarily accepted by the king, the nobles, and the hearts of the clergy on August 4, 1789, and that the nobles and higher clergy then almost immediately began to fly to England and Austria, and inflame those countries with gross exaggerations of events. It is not made clear that the middle-class men, led by a few nobles, who had carried the revolution continued all through 1790 and 1791 in a city that was in the circumstances remarkably free from disorder, to work out a constitution and plans for social amelioration (including abolition of slavery, general education, and other measures which were yet unknown even in America). Near the end of 1791 the new constitution was finished and hardly any of our historians tells this: the politicians, by an act of virtue that has hardly a parallel in the history of politics, bound themselves to take no office under it, to avoid even the suspicion of graft and so handed power to a new, inferior, and inexperienced body of men. This was shortly followed by a fierce civil war, excited by the clergy, in Britanny and a plan of the monarchs of England, Austria and Prussia, egged on by the fugitive nobles and priests, to send large armies of the finest soldiers of the time and destroy the republic. It was in these circumstances, which are rarely clearly stated, that, four years after the actual revolution, there occurred those horrible massacres which are by a deliberate confusion, represented as characteristic of the French Revolution.
The first was what is called the September Massacre. Even so liberal and learned a historian as Professor Barnes says of it (11. 113):
“The mob got out of hand and between September 2nd and 7th. 1792, it is estimated that 2,000 to 20,000 Royalists were slain.”
Before the end of the, last century the French historians had carefully sifted all contemporary evidence, and it is summed up in Professor Lavisse’s authoritative “History of the Revolution” (10 vols. 1901). The “mob’ of Paris was not only not concerned in the massacre, but resented it. One small section of the Paris Commune, about 500 citizens, organized and carried out the massacre with the respectable design (they said) of purifying Paris in view of the grave danger of the nation. They seem to have been mostly middle-class men. The number of victims was about 1,100, and more than one-half of these were criminals or prostitutes from the jails; less than half the inmates of the jails at that time, as the official documents show. “The people of Paris,” says Lavisse, “had taken no part in these outrages and warmly condemned such scoundrels.” Danton and the government leaders took strict precautions to prevent further massacres; and the people in the provinces were “generally horrified.” So much for the first “unleashing of the passions of the mob.”
The reactionaries always connect this supposed bloody hysteria of the mob with the loss of religion; in fact, in fact, they say that Danton and Robespierre first deprived them of the restraints of the Catholic faith and the horrors followed. The truth, which Professor Aulard has shown in a small specialist work (“Christianity and the French Revolution.” 1927) is that the mass of the People voluntarily quit the Church, and Danton and Robespierre resisted all their demands that it should be disestablished until the summer of 1793. I do not find that any of our new historians endorse the Catholic legend that the people of Paris then set up a cult of Reason and had a Prostitute masquerading as the Goddess of Reason in the cathedral. That myth is too ragged to appear in any but a Catholic Publication. The ceremony in honor of Liberty and Reason that was held in Notre Dame, which had been handed over by the clergy to the municipality, was a dignified pageant in which a lady (not a prostitute and not using the altar) Personified Liberty and recited a fine ode composed by the leading poet of the day.
But an important point in this connection, which none of our historians mentions, is that before the Terror of 1793-4, the really horrible page of French history (four years after the Revolution), the Catholic religion and Atheism (which was Publicly burned in effigy before all Paris) were replaced as the official religion by the Cult of the Supreme Being, and it was this high priest of this cult, Robespierre, who, hated Atheism more deeply than he hated Romanism, who was responsible for the cold savagery of the Terror. Exact research has brought down the number of victims to about 20,000 — less than half the number of victims of the St. Bartholomew Massacre — and of these only 6 percent were aristocrats and 8 percent priests and nuns. It was a political massacre of Robespierre’s opponents, and as they were followers of the Atheist Danton, we may almost say that it was largely a massacre of Atheists by theists.
There are other aspects of the Revolution which, for actual sociological reasons, our historians ought to impress upon the modern reader, and they do not. Professor Barnes and Professor Geise, alone point out that, in spite of the long period of reaction that followed the fall of Napoleon the Revolution contributed to European civilization certain elements that it had lacked for 12 or 13 centuries. It put an end to feudal tyranny, for, except in Russia, kings, nobles and priests, in spite of their recovery of power, rarely used it so ruthlessly as they had done, and only for a few decades. The new historians are too apt to say that feudalism had died in the 15th or 16th century, but in its most odious form it lasted in France, where there were still immense numbers of actual serfs, until the Revolution. It took up the demand for the abolition of slavery and ended the shameful ownership of a high proportion of the soil of France by the clergy. The workers, urban and rural, were, taught to look forward to a time when the scandalous inequality in the distribution of wealth would be rectified and the black contrast between the life of the privileged one-tenth and the foul existence of the nine-tenths would be gradually relieved. As Professor Barnes says (II. 190):
“It is a significant fact that more than 99 percent of the period of man’s existence on this planet was passed through without any consciousness of actual progress in hundreds of years.”
It was Turgot and the encyclopedists who first started the idea of an indefinite possible progress in the improvement of life. It was one of the noblest citizens of the Revolution, the Marquis de Condorcet, who first developed it in a book that spread widely; and it was his noble wife who pleaded for the emancipation of woman from 13 centuries of injustice. The scheme of general education for both sexes that Tallyrand worked out for the revolutionary government had no equal until late in the 19th century. The use of torture was abolished, the law reformed, democracy established.
And just as the encyclopedists had planted the idea of these reforms in other countries, so the Revolution taught the people to demand them and how to get them. The revolutionary armies that in time poured south as far as Naples and over Spain and Portugal emptied the foul dungeons of state and church (the Inquisition). broke their instruments of torture everywhere, and set up humanitarian republics. Even in England, in spite of the fierce hatred of the Revolution that was fed by the lies of political fugitives, as such folk libel Russia or Czechoslovakia today, Jacobin Clubs appeared in the cities, and when the period of suppression and reaction ended, the rebels emerged from the vaults and began a score of reform-movements (political, industrial, educational, pacifist, feminist, etc.). “The world” said even the conservative historian Freeman “was never the same again after the French Revolution.” But the new history knows nothing of this, and it is not the aspect of the Revolution that interests the Columbia Encyclopedia.
I find it still worse that our historians completely ignore another point which has definite lessons for us today, and again they are lessons which the Catholic authorities do not wish us to draw. In modern French history and the Cambridge History there are two Terrors, the Red and the White. Even our Columbia Encyclopedia mentions — it just gives it half a line — that there, was a White Terror, not even explaining what the phrase means. But you will not find even the phrase in the index of any of these histories, and the facts which it indicates are entirely suppressed.
It means the Royalist-Catholic Massacre of the Reds. At the death of Robespierre the secretly organized Catholics took advantage of the political confusion and believed that they were about to recover power. Though still a minority they fell with fury upon the republicans. At Lyons, for instance. 20,000 Catholics seized and held the city for a time and barbarically murdered a large number of active republicans. The same occurred in 62 departments (county divisions;) of the country, and thousands were slain in a few months. No records were kept so it is not possible to say whether there were as many victims as in the Red Terror, but the Paris Government, as soon as order was established, sent men to collect information, and it is the opinion of the French historians, that there were not less, and that its savagery was worse, though all this was directed by educated Catholics. They, says Professor Martin, “showed a mixture of cold cruelty and depravity which was more hideous than the brutal ferocity of the Jacobin Terrorists.” He reproduces the official reports.
This savagery was renewed after the defeat of Napoleon, and we can only imagine how far it would have gone if Wellington and the other allied leaders in Paris had not compelled the king to check it, although it was now organized by the aristocracy and the priests. How many Americans ever heard of the White Terror? Most of them have read or seen pictures of the densely-ignorant slum women of Paris knitting at the foot of the guillotine. Does one in 100,000 of them know that we have, not a rumor or fiction, but definite evidence that Catholic “ladies” embroidered their silks while, they sat, in chairs specially provided for them by the civic officials, to watch the less merciful dispatch of revolutionaries? In the five years of the Revolution less than four thousand aristocrats, priests and nuns were murdered or executed. Far more rebels against the monarchy and the church were murdered in a few months in the White Terror. The new history has not a word to say about this.
Still worse is the complete suppression of the bloody chronicle of the murder and torture during the next 40 years of men whose only demand was for constitutional monarchy and the abolition of the Inquisition. The history of Europe from about 1750 onward is more important and richer in lessons for us today than any other period of history. French writers began, we saw, to draft the plan of a higher civilization from 1750 to 1780. In the Revolution the foundations were laid, and then, after the compromise of the reign of Napoleon, the restored monarchs and the Church tore up the foundation stones and forced the race back under a regime of absolute monarchy, the Inquisition, the subjection of women, industrial semi-slavery, dense ignorance, and sordid criminal law and practice.
The monarchs met at Vienna and formed a Holy Alliance, blessed by the Church, to (they said) stamp out the last spark of the revolutionary fire. From 1820 to 1860 (and in some places later) the peoples of Europe fought magnificently for the restoration of those Rights of Man (now everywhere recognized) ,which the Revolution had formulated and the pope had derided. In England, Germany and Protestant countries they were won early, and with little bloodshed. In France, Italy, Spain. and Portugal, the lands which were saved from the taint of Protestantism, about 400,000 unarmed men and women, even children, fell in the great battle, and more than a million rotted in medieval jails or penal colonies or were driven into exile. If yon care to add the men who died in arms, facings, seasoned troops for the same cause in Poland. France, Hungary, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Latin America, the number rises to millions. And it is hardly too much to say that all this is suppressed in the new history and the Columbia Encyclopedia. It is very fully and indignantly described in the Cambridge Modern History.
The large Catholic literature that pretends to prove that the Church is not, and never was, hostile to democracy would look very tawdry if these facts were put before the public in their full brutality; and many other writers who are eloquent about the bloodiness of popular revolutions and the passions of the mob would be exposed as blind leaders of the blind if these facts were told in the general public’s manuals of the history of Europe or the history-classes in school and college. The journalistic and literary practice of applying this supposed law — the bloody chaos of revolution and the Justice and restraint of the counter-revolution — to the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 and deducing that it must have been accompanied by a good deal of bloodshed, would be recognized as political propaganda. For this savagery of revolution and serenity of counter-revolution is the exact opposite of a law of history or a lesson of the history of Europe since 1789. Since that year there have been four revolutions and three counter-revolutions in France, eight revolutions and six counter-revolutions in the three divisions of Italy; six revolutions and six counter-revolutions in Spain, and a further number in Portugal, Germany, Austria, and Hungary. There have been about 40 revolutions and counter-revolutions in all, and there was little bloodshed during or after the people’s seizure of power, but there were terrible reprisals after each recovery of power by the gentle and gentlemanly clerical- royalist’s.
Is not this as well worth telling and describing at adequate length as the development of science, the improvement of machinery, the evolution of capitalism, the extension of the colonial system, or the, history of literature in the 19th century? Isn’t it important at least to sum up all these revolutions and counter-revolutions and point out how they represent one of the mightiest efforts of the race to throw off the burden of old errors and injustices and lift life to a higher level? The new historian and the encyclopedia entirely fail or refuse to do this. They refuse to make even summary statements of the ugly facts, as these are told in the Cambridge Modern History; and it would be ridiculous to ignore the fact that to make these statements. even briefly (but truthfully), would mortally offend the Catholic authorities and the modern representatives of kings and princes, so there is no hint of them. Most of our manuals, after a short and generally, as far as it goes, fair account of the French Revolution, completely ignore subsequent revolutions, or just notice that there were isolated disturbances here and there in the course of the next half- century. Only Professor Barnes whose work is generally loyal to his claim in his introduction that the supreme aim of history is to help the living to cast off what remains of the burden of the past and rise to a higher level, notices the chief revolutionist and connects them with the great French Revolution. But he omits the evidence that shows the guilt of the church, the inhumanity of the clerical-royalist’s revolutions, and the general freedom from bloodshed of the popular revolutions.
I have not space here to devote more than a few lines to each of the 40 revolutions, but it is necessary to give the reader some idea of the horrors through which European progressives passed. Italy was, as I said, divided into three political spheres. The northern part, under Austria, suffered less, and I will not linger over it. The central part was the kingdom of the pope, and I will deal with this in the next section, as it is important to understand its condition. The southern part and Sicily were the kingdom of Naples, and the man who speaks slightly of it today as the classic land of dolce far niente — “it is grand to have nothing to do” — would learn with surprise that it had a high civilization under the Greeks 23 centuries ago, and still higher under the Arabs 900 years ago, and one of the most progressive regimes in Europe under the Voltairean minister Tannucci in the 18th century; and that under the French revolutionary troops in 1792 it set up a very promising republic which the restored Catholic monarchy and church savagely suppressed, yet its people for the next 60 years made an heroic fight for justice. Under Ferdinand I, who got back his throne by a solemn oath at the Altar to respect the constitution, 100,000 men, women and children were done to death, and the king, at whose perjury the bishops smiled, was one of the vilest monarchs in Europe. There were orgies of savagery. One royalist leader drank his wine from the skull of a liberal, and once a group of Catholic beggars roasted and ate the bodies of liberals under the palace windows. It is a royalist Catholic general, Colletta, who tells us these things, and Professor Croce answers for the conscientiousness of his work. It was continued after the death of the king by an anonymous writer, and this historian claims that there were 150,000 further victims under Francis II. The best stocks of the middle class (and some of the nobles) were exterminated.
In the case of Spain, where the king was of the same gross type as Ferdinand of Naples and perjured himself in the same way to recover his throne, we have a full account of the horrors in the Cambridge Modern History (Vol. 5). Here the clergy and the Jesuits cooperated even more actively with the Royalists, and the savagery lasted, roundly, from 1814 to 1860, with the interruption of several bloodless revolutions, to be revived under the late Alfonso XIII and again under the present dictator Franco. Even the queens of Spain in this period were despicable types of women, yet the pope gave that highest reward of feminine purity, the Golden Rose, to the loosest of them all, Queen Isabella. I estimate from the figures given in contemporary writers that Spain in less than 50 years gave at least 150,000 martyrs to the cause of democracy, and the sufferings of hundreds of thousands of others were severe. We must remember that in those days and in the hot summers of south Europe the jails were as vile and deadly as the Black Hole of Calcutta. in Portugal King Manuel, a man of even more sordid type and a perjurer like his royal cousin of Madrid and Naples, let loose an even worse savagery; for it was these Catholic monarchs and their bishops who “unleashed the passions of the mob.” We have contemporary assurance that of a total population of about 2,000,000 no less than 17,000 were executed, 17,000 were sent to a living death in the penal colonies, and 30,000 were packed into the fetid jails in the space of five years; and the Church cooperated as cordially as in Spain.
Of all these savage reprisals after clerical-royalist recoveries of power, to which must be added the ferocious executions in Hungary in 1849 and the horrors in the papal states to which I will return, not a word is said in the new history — Such is the effect that in 1948 the press generally overlooked the fact that this was the centenary of Six great democratic revolutions (followed by no reprisals) in Europe, which shook as many kings from their thrones, and that 1949 was the centenary of six counter revolutions which put the kings and the pope back on their thrones and were followed by such reprisals as I have described. What school or college in America now hears of these things? What book will you find in circulation that tells them? And the professors who set out to tell European professors the truth about the history of Europe are silent.
Only in the case of France do they, or most of them, tell that there were revolutions in 1830 and 1848, but they do not make it clear that this meant a repeated emergence of the revolutionaries or democrats who had been crushed into the earth by the White Terror after the death of Napoleon. Even in a small and neutral manual designed for British schools (J.G. Aldham’s “Students notes of European History,” 1927, u. 40) we find the situation thus briefly described:
“An amnesty refused: and 38 of the most prominent men in France banished and Nay executed. The White Terror in the South of France rivalled the Red Terror of the Revolution. Wholesale pillage and murder, and hundreds of executions.”
The distinguished French historian. Professor Martin (Vol. IV, Ch. IV) has a long and detailed account of this stage of the White Terror. He says that the reaction comprised every variety of infamy — obscenity, rapacity, ferocity — it surpassed the ignominy of the Thermidarcan reaction of the year III (the Red Terror). And when the government was at last forced by the Allies to cheek “the, wild Catholic disorder,” it proceeded itself against Napoleonists and Protestants “with implacable vengeance.”
The hatred of rival politicians, the pathetic fury of illiterate crowds, avenging 15 centuries of oppression, are thought worthy of description, but this organized massacre, directed by educated folk living in luxury, is not to be considered of any social significance. The systematic persecution of democracy and of freethinkers and Protestants continued until 1830. The revolt now took the form of pitched battles in the street of Paris against the trained royalist-clerical regiments. With barricades and primitive muskets (seized from the museums and sometimes loaded with old-fashioned printers’ type) the rebels conquered the king’s troops, losing 5,300 killed and wounded in the fight.
But the prince they raised to the throne to replace the tyrant had duped them, like Ferdinand of Naples, Ferdinand of Spain, and Miguel of Portugal, and in a few years the struggle was revived. More than 10,000 were sent to the vile jails and the deadly penal colonies and thousands were shot when the workers, who were not taking the place of the students and middle-class men, numbers of these now joining the Royalists, led by strange new leaders called Socialists, again raised the barricades and gave Europe the signal for revolt as far as Rome, Even in London the government marshalled 500,000 police and troops to meet an expected march of the Chartists, England made its peace with the workers, but in Catholic countries there was the familiar triumph of “law and order” — with the aid of a vast army of Russian serfs — and the familiar bloody revenge. In Paris at least 10,000 workers were shot in the streets, besides the thousands whose bodies were just flung into the Seine like dead dogs. You may have wondered sometimes why European Socialists still chant “Our flag is red with martyrs’ blood,” and rave at the Bourgeoisie. It began in the terrible events of 1848 and 1849, when the middle-class generally supported the reactionaries. But the sleek and treacherous descendent of Napoleon (Napoleon II) whom they had chosen to be their savior from the threat to their bank accounts turned against them and allied himself with the clericalist and aristocracy, and by 1852 we find the liberals complaining that 100,000 of their best men are in jail, penal colonies, or exile. Would one of our new historians tell us why whole chapters may be spared for the learning of medieval monks and the struggles of rival kings and dynasties, yet all these things, which still live in our problems today, must be completely suppressed?
The plea might be made both for the clerical-royalists who perpetrated these horrors and the historians who suppressed them that they regarded these revolutions as blind and dangerous revolts of the passions of the mob — as if the rulers of the people, secular and spiritual, were not responsible for the unhappy condition of most of them — against the restraints of Religion, Law and Order, Democracy, and divinely-appointed Monarchs. When we find a Humanists, scholar like Dr. Gilbert Murray saying that “all revolutions are full of horror and inhumanities” and that Europe “recoiled in horror” from the atrocities of the French Revolution as it row recoils from the legendary atrocities of the Bolshevik Revolution, we realize how widely this grossly false conception of modern history is still entertained, and we resent more deeply than ever the suppression of the facts in the new history. It encourages a mischievous misconception of the world-struggle in which we are still engaged and permits unscrupulous papers to dupe their readers with the idea that Stalin and his colleagues are driven by the same criminal ambition as Hitler and Mussolini were.
The proper concern of an historian is not with the revenge that a crowd here and there may take on their exploiters in the sudden dawn of a new liberty; just as in the Spanish Revolution in 1932 a few folk in widely-separated localities burned churches or killed a few priests or monks. Every historian knows that the radical reason why the world entered at such a late date in history upon the path to real civilization was the development of an extensive middle-class, a body of men more independent, intelligent, and better educated than the princes or priests. Until in the second half of the last century the workers in turn were educated, these middle-class men had to organize and lead every revolution, however much they had to rely on the vigor of the workers to carry it through. These men knew well that for more than 1,000 years the mass of the people had been kept in ignorance and treated with gross injustice, yet in no revolution which they carried did they inflict reprisals on the exploiting class. On the other hand the fully-educated monarchs, nobles, and priests who controlled the counter-revolution, the men who were the champions of law, order and decency, always perpetrated the most cruel reprisals. This coupling of revolutions with the Passions of the mob is a gross historical lie.
A second contrast is that from 1789 onward the leaders of the revolutions were usually men of character whose aim was to get justice for the people. The monarchs against whom they rebelled were in large part repulsive in their conduct, and the nobles, ministers, and higher clergy were as a rule selfish, frivolous and (from the church angle) immoral. But a third and much more important contrast is that these kingdoms which were defended against revolutionaries with the greatest cruelty and bloodshed were, apart from the small Balkan states which were still under the Turks, the foulest in Europe in respect of law, order, decency and justice, and that the revolution at once initiated a series of what everybody now regards as reforms.
I will illustrate this by a short description of the papal States as described by contemporary liberal Catholic and Italian writers and all recent non-Catholic historians (and some Catholic). I have often quoted the opinion of the chief Catholic historian of recent times, Lord Acton that the Popes of the first half of the 19th century were “worse than the Old Man of the Mountains” (the arch-murderer of history), and the verdict of the famous French priest, Lantennais, approvingly quoted by the Catholic Lady Blennerhassett in the Cambridge Modern History (X. 164, that Rome in 1832 was “the foulest sewer ever opened to the eye of man.” Professors Boak, Slosson, and Anderson quote Gladstone’s indignant remark that the kingdom of Naples, the next-door neighbor and docile subject of the papacy was “the negation of God erected into a system of government”; meaning the negation of all moral principle, for the government was very pious. But neither they nor any other recent American historians even glance at the condition of the Papal States. In fact you would be inclined to gather from the new history that the papacy ceased to exist after the death of Napoleon, came to life again in the person of Leo XIII (whom they are able to describe (inaccurately) as a progressive and constructive force, then almost completely disappeared from the scene while the present century was wrestling with it’s gigantic problems. What, the papacy was really doing in this time I will tell later.
Under the Republic and Napoleon the French had token over Italy and introduced good government and many reforms. When the Vienna Council restored the papal kingdom — the, pope, like the kings of Naples, Spain, and Portugal, solemnly promising to respect the reforms — all the French improvements were destroyed or abandoned. Even new roads and sewers were neglected, the lamps in the streets of Rome unlit and neglected. The administration was entirely put into the hands of clerics, and by these, as the Catholic Lady Blennerhassett says dishonesty was “developed into a system.” The Secretary of state, Cardinal Antonelli, son of one of the poorest peasants, lived opulently and loosely, yet left $20,000,000 at his death. The peasants, who made a few cents a day with great difficulty, took to banditry on such a scale that 9,000 Soldiers had at times to protect a train bringing a Royal visitor to Rome. All schools were closed. The Inquisition and the Jesuits were restored, and thousands of progressives soon crammed the jails; and there, were no fouler jails in Europe, Orsini tells us that when he was sent from Rome to the villa in which Alexalider VI had once enjoyed his orgies — his obscene frescoes still adorned the walls in 1850 — he found that men with a life- sentence were chained to the wall and never released even for sanitary purposes. The higher clergy were as openly loose as in the 16th century, and the standard was very low among all the clergy and the monks and nuns. The courts and Vatican offices were sodden with corruption; the people were illiterate to the extent of 95 percent: crimes of violence were appalling, and the men who dared to demand reform died by the thousand on the scaffold or in the horrible jails.
At Rome 40,000 (including 10,000 priests) out of a total population of 170,000 lived on the corrupt system, and the city was, as I quoted a distinguished French priest saying, “the foulest sewer that was ever opened up to the eyes of man.” the British Ambassador, Lord Clarendon, pronounced it “the shame of Europe.” In 1831, in fact, the kings of Prussia, Austria, France, and Britain gravely censured the pope in an open letter and demanded that he should reform his dominion. And only half a century later Pope Leo XIII was posing as the moral ruler of the race and telling the nations how they needed the guidance of the papacy; as Pious XII is telling them today. But don’t look to our historians or our grand new encyclopedia for a word of all this, though it is all vouched for by the Catholic Italian historians of the time — the Marquis d’Azeglio and his brother, the statesman Farini, etc. — and endorsed in all non-Catholic histories (Cambridge History, Professor Orsi, Bishop Nielsen, R. Thayer. Bolton King, etc.).
The papacy had from the start benignly blessed this fetid system. Indeed, while almost the last thing our historians say about the papal court is that it thoroughly purified itself in the 16th century, there is no evidence that it ever was reformed (except for a few years in the 16th century) and plenty of evidence that it was not. The aged, incompetent Pope whom Napoleon had treated like a lackey died in 1823, and the corrupt Secretary of State engineered the election of a 70-year-old converted rake (father of several bastards in the good old style), whose chief ambition was to shoot as many birds as he could in the Vatican garden, He dribbled in his invalid chair for a few years, and the corrupt cardinals then elected a gluttonous and lazy monk of questionable morals, a man who ate candy and read the saucy novels of Paul de Kock while Cardinal Albarii (the bare-footed peasant boy who died worth $20,000,000) ruled his kingdom. “Horror and dread darkened the whole of Rome,” says Veri, while a countess amused Europe by claiming in the courts that she was a bastard and heiress of Cardinal Albani.
But the revolutionary forces were shaking the soil of Europe before he died (1846), and the cardinals allowed one of their number who professed liberalism to become Pope Pius IX (of disputed memory in history, a quarter-saint in the Church). He did in 1848 sanction reform in Rome, then, in the disguise of a footman, fled from the palace to the still utterly demoralized kingdom of Naples and summoned Louis Napoleon from France to destroy the Roman republic for him. It is enough to say that the Papal States sank back into the stinking mud, and soon the horrible jails were packed again with political prisoners. The face of one of them, Orsini, frowns at me from the wall of my study as I write, and his description of them is among my books. It was in such a world that Pius IX penned that tawdry defiance of the modern world, the Syllabus.
But modern Italy was gathering strength in the north, and in 1870 the national armies entered Rome and made an end of the ignoble kingdom of the pope and its bloody history. Our historians tell this and they explain that when in 1929 the pope accepted a bribe of $95,000,000 from Mussolini to bless his corrupt regime, it was not a bribe but a long-delayed compensation, with compound interest, for the seizure of the Papal States in 1865-70. They omit to tell one important point about that seizure. A plebiscite was taken in every province of the papal kingdom and, by an overwhelming majority the inhabitants voted that they wanted an end of papal rule. But, says, the Catholic, the pope had warned his people not to take any part in this sacrilegious plebiscite. Listen. The city of Rome had a population of 180,000 of whom 30,000 or 40,000 lived on the miserable papal system, yet 40,831, which must mean about the whole of the remaining adult male voters, cast their votes for Victor Emmanuel and 46 for the pope! In the city and its province taken together 133,681 voted for Victor Emmanuel and only 1,501 for the pope. In the first province in which the plebiscite was taken 132,853 voted for Victor Emmanuel and 1,590 for the pope Surely these facts are not only of interest but of importance. But would the pope like them published?
I am here ignoring the admirable, sometimes valuable, accounts of many typical modern developments that we find in these manuals of European world history: scientific, industrial, literary, artistic, and so on. I am not looking for inaccuracies, which an expert on these developments might or might not find in our new manuals of history. My purpose is much more serious. I am showing that from Greek-Roman days onward the new history, by suppressing large masses of relevant, and undisputed facts, borrowing false statements from Catholic or idly conventional writers, and distorting the balance of importance of historical documents, gives a false view of the evolution of real civilization and the relative value of the factors or agencies which have contributed or hindered that evolution. Most of those factors are still active in “the loom of time,” and the most serious function of history today is to throw the very considerable light that it can upon their usefulness or their harmfulness.
Two further points demand our attention before we come to the history of our own time. The first is that most of our historians describe — some insist at considerable length — a Revolt against Reason following upon the Age of reason (or Age of Enlightenment) of the middle of the 18th century. Professors Sheopard and Godfrey say (II. 184):
“In the revival of the religious spirit of the time, and it was widespread, the Church of Rome began to regain some of its lost influence while the Protestant churches, especially in England and America, went through a baptism of evangelical cleansing.”
Professor Barnes, who keeps a sense of proportion in his scanty treatment of the religious development, nevertheless speaks of “a marked growth of religious feeling and pietism,” as a reaction against Voltairianism, in the first half of the 19th century. Professor Lucas deals at some length with the supposed revolt, but he is misleading in paying so much attention to the philosophy of Kant. Not only had this no connection with the revolt against reason or the Revival of religion which the others describe — Kant’s freethinking contemporary Goethe had immeasurably more influence on the general reading public than he — but Kant himself was an arch-apostle of reason and as such was dreaded by theologians. Even when in his later year’s he decided to say a good word for God and the Soul (and this was never widely accepted even in philosophical quarters) he still said that he was appealing to reason (Practical as distinct from Pure Reason).
Others quote the Romantic Movement which began in Germany toward the end of the 18th century and spread to France and England. This is represented as a return to medieval thought over the ruins of Voltairianism, but nearly every great name given in connection with it is that of an artist or a literary man. A renewed appreciation of Gothic architecture spread — even as far as America — but there was no new appreciation of medieval theology. It was mainly a trend in art and literature. especially fiction, and the characteristics of it had been as conspicuous in Rousseau as they were in Goethe’s early romantic stories or the later novels and poems of Victor Hugo.
The chief fact which one recognizes in all this exaggerated talk about a Revolt against Reason was the spread of religious revivals started by John Wesley in England and James McGready in America. Our Columbia Encyclopedia has, strangely, no article on Reason: though one would think that the changed attitude to it in modern psychology and the renewed talk in our time about a Revolt from Reason makes this very desirable. But in the article “Revivals” a good deal is said about McGready’s activity at the end of the 18th century. I need not discuss how far the psychology of the times encouraged revivalism because this was in no sense a Revolt against Reason. The folk who joined the movement had not been conspicuous as followers of reason. And this applies also to the Wesleyan or Methodist movement in England. We do not read of any of the, British followers of Voltaire breaking with him to join Wesley. Whatever number of the British workers who had been indifferent about religion and gross in behavior were won to the Methodist body, it was mainly recruited from the Church of England. It was a revolt against the formalism and ritual of the church, the stress on correctness of dogma and indifference to morals, and a return to the Bible. In Protestant countries, where only higher-educated men of the middle class had read Voltaire or the encyclopedia, no historian has yet contended that the evangelical churches had lost much ground, and it is, therefore, curious to speak now of a great revival. That the Roman Church recovered power is a platitude, and that with the recovery of power it was able to compel large numbers at least to profess to believe in it follows from the facts I gave in the preceding section. The new position of the papacy after 1816 counted in two ways; it could drastically suppress criticism of religion, leaving the field free to the 100,000 priests of France, Italy, Spain and Portugal and it could, except in France, use the grim power of the Inquisition to bring men into subjection. It would be surprising if the Vatican could not count for more adherents in 1826 than it did in 1816. Napoleon had already paved the way for it in reestablishing the Church and favoring it in every possible way. Although he was himself unquestionably a skeptic, he felt and said that the power of the clergy was an important part of the basis of his imperial authority. So in the first half of the century the Catholic one- third of Europe returned, except for the short spell after a popular revolution, to the Middle Ages. It is ingenious of our historians to refuse to tell HOW the Church of Rome recovered power (by political alliance with despotic monarchs) and what use it made of the power, and then ask us to admire the growth of religion.
Even in England there was very serious coercion. Attendance at church on Sundays was a legal obligation, and writers of the 19th century describe the paid beadles or bailiffs collecting the miserable men who were sleeping off the Saturday night’s drink and herding them to a church. There was also little freedom for Freethinkers to disturb the beliefs of churchgoers. My old friend George Jacob Holyoake, who lived in those days, was sent to jail for six months for making a mild joke or “blasphemy” at the expense of his Christian hearers. In short, the half-century from 1815 to 1865 was one of profound reaction throughout Europe. If I were a Christian writer I should be more disposed to conceal the fact that it witnessed a new spread of religion.
If the idea of stressing this apparent recovery of religion is to connect this with the various reforms or humanitarian movements which began to be active in the second part of the century it is even more misleading. We saw that in the Age of Reason in the 18th century the germs of these reforms, most of which had been dormant since Roman days, found a congenial soil in the mind of Europe, and in the revolutionary years they began to be embodied either in legislation or in propagandist bodies. It is generally true to say that they were mostly blighted in the wintry decades of the reaction after Waterloo. The one exception was the growth of the Abolitionist Movement. A sincere and distinguished writer of the Church of England, Canon Streeter, one of the leading British apologists, says (The Spirit, p. 358):
“The greatest blot on the history of the Church in modern times is the fact that, with the glaring exception of the campaign to abolish slavery, the leaders in the social, political, and humanitarian reforms of the last century and a half in Europe have rarely been professing Christians, while the authorized representatives of organized Christianity have as often as not been on the wrong side.”
It illustrates the weakness of this sort of clerical apologetic that on the American side we have the Rev. Loring Brace (Gesta Christi, p. 265) saying:
“The guilt of this great crime (black slavery) rests upon the Christian Church as an organized body.”
And he considers that in America the worst sin of the Churches is in not helping abolition. The churchless cynic might reflect that, apparently, in England, where there were (apart from its remote colonies) no slaves, the churches were valiant against slavery, and in America, where there were vast bodies of slaves the churches owned great numbers of them — the Methodists and Baptists who had passed through the reforming flames of the great revival owned 450,000 of them — and violently opposed the abolitionists. Streeter would retort that the greatest name in the whole Abolitionist movement is that of William Wilberforce a strict member of the Church of England. It never seems to occur to the historians who make Wilberforce stand for the Church of England in this humanitarian reform that, while they can (or could if they knew much about the matter) name half a dozen clergymen (out of thousands and no bishop) who supported the Abolition Movement in England, the only effective champion they can quote is a layman. What is worse — and I believe that I am the only writer who has pointed this out — Wilberforce was a skeptic when he first learned to attack slavery, and he learned it from skeptical literature. I have said this on an earlier page, but I am so solitary in this discovery that I will here quote his own words. In his diary, which is included in the biography of him by his sons, he speaks of “the dreadful effects of the efforts afterwards used, but too successfully, to wean him from all religion.” He makes it clear that by “afterwards” he means after the age of 12 and it was at the age of 14 that he first wrote against slavery (1773). Ten years later he tells a friend in a letter (p. 32):
“My moral and religious principles are such as in those days are not very generally prevalent..”
His sons explain that he was nearly 30 when he was converted to Christianity. He carried over his zeal for abolition from his dark past, and from that date he never adopted any other humanitarian reform.
It is the same with all other reforms which one or other of our historians ascribe to the influence of religion. I have summarized the real history of all of them in my book “How Freethinkers Made Notable Contributions to Civilization” (Haldeman-Julius, 1938). In this I trace the early stages of all the great social reforms, as I have done in the case of slavery, feminism, education, philanthropy, legal reform, etc. That pious half-century, (1800-1850). which our historians describe as one of a great religions revival, was the time when modern social reforms struggled up out of a wintry soil. The men and women who fostered their growth were in a very large majority outside the churches, and churchmen were in a large majority opposed to them. But our new historians disdain to notice the literature in which the truth about these matters is patiently and scientifically traced. It encroaches upon the field of religious controversy, they say. They prefer to follow on such matters the conventional and theological literature with all its ancient and superficial untruths. This is, presumably, not encroaching upon theology.
The historian of the future will probably regard the period 1500 to 2000 as by far the most important in the history of the race. The human record from what is called the dawn of civilization to about the year 1500 will be to him a moving- picture of the mass of the race toiling blindly while they mostly bear the burden of a privileged one-tenth who live on their labors and use them up in wars. In a few ages what is called a middle class, men whose work required that the bandages be stripped from their eyes yet they are not counted as of the sacred, privileged castes, multiplies, and we get ideas of freedom and reform. This occurred at the end of the Dark Age, during which privilege had been unchallenged by the blind mass of serfs, and a few like Arnold of Brescia began to preach a social gospel. The most obvious caste to attack, both on account of its hypocrisy and the feebleness of its claims, was the clergy, and, we saw, revolt against the church at once began. But the church was able to retaliate with fire and sword until, in the 16th century, the political situation and the cynical moral condition of the papacy and the church facilitated a combined action of princes, nobles, middle-class, and people, and half of Europe rejected the right to dominate and exploit of the most powerful body of priests the world had ever known.
The echo of the great shock rumbled over Europe until the middle of the 17th century, and then the middle class, with its leisure to think and its self-consciousness, began to consider the next privileged class, royalty and nobility. England made the first dent in the monarchical structure by cutting off the head of a king, but in its new prosperity the English middle class settled down again to an idle acquiescence, and it was the French, who bore, the more galling tyranny, who took up the crusade. Few nobles, who clung to the monarchs in self preservation, could join the middle class, but the workers were rapidly developing self-consciousness, and stimulated by the news of a revolt and the setting up of a republic in America, they began to move. Through 70 years of revolution, counter revolution, and bloody reaction, the workers and middle class fought together while the second privileged class, the monarchs and nobles of the feudal type, was destroyed or tamed.
Meantime, the workers concentrating in cities to meet the needs of the Industrial Revolution, stung by the rapid increase of wealth of the middle class while their own condition remained semi-servile granted education at last by the benevolent bourgeois, slowly prepared for the Third, the Economic Revolution. Even this was long led by the middle class men: Socialists of the type of Robert Owen, Marxian, Socialists. Communists, Anarchists, Christian Socialists, etc. But in the later part of the 19th century universal free education in most countries created a new proletariat, and it began to regard the middle class capitalists as its natural enemy. The middle class had, with its wealth, taken the place of the old feudal nobility and generally thought that the millennium had been reached by the First (Religious) and second (Political) Revolutions. Taking advantage of the miserable inadequacy of the system of schooling it created a vast system of daily and Sunday papers which should take over the work of education from the age of 16 or so; just when the thinking portion of the cortex is beginning to be educable. Where circumstances compelled this — where it was necessary to concede a yard in order to save a mile — it cordially admitted that social improvement was possible. But, Evolution not Revolution. Rome was not built in a day. Private enterprise is more vital to the interests of the race, more sacred, than even altars and thrones.
That is the most important feature of the history of the 19th century. What then happened we will consider in the next section, but a few words must be said here. The prospect of a Third Revolution led to a sort of Counter-Revolution against the earlier two, the Religious and the Political. The middle class, the Humanists of the 16th century, the Liberals of the 19th, who led the religious and political attacks on privilege, now joined amicably with the conservatives (the modern representatives of the Royalists) and the clericalist against the common enemy. Ignoring, or in our ill-informed age not knowing, the fact that the “martyr’s blood” in which the symbolic red flag of the Socialists had been dipped was in the main Liberal blood, they jeeringly called the men who now marched under it the Reds, and in the press and on the platform they vaguely conjured up visions of them wading to power through lakes of blood. They generally add “as in the French Revolution”; which, in fact, had been led by what we should call the middle-class Liberals. And while it was the middle class that had ruined the churches in the 19th century, so now, to please their new clerical allies, agreed that these Reds would destroy civilization by a violent suppression of religion. Such is the historical basis of what men call their convictions today.
I do not belong, and have never belonged, to any political organization. Dogmas do not agree with my mental digestion. I write all this simply as a historian, an observer and chronicler of facts. It seems to me that this historical development, which has created a situation that causes many sound-minded folk to mutter to themselves the old Latin slogan “Those whom the Gods wish to destroy they first make mad,” calls much more seriously than how many books there were in medieval libraries for a thorough and impartial enquiry. This is, therefore. almost the last point on which we may test the new history, both in regard to what it says and what it does not say but, in view of the abounding lies, ought to say. We shall find in most cases that just as up to the 17th century it significantly harmonizes with the Catholic version of events, so for recent decades it tells the human story much in the accents of the new Triple Alliance of the Church, State and Money.
If we reflect that those forces in the Triple Alliance that are particularly concerned about money — that is to say, about the right of the individual to make an indefinite amount of wealth (bankers, enterprisers, etc.) — must, like the clergy, act through politicians, we understand the union of such incongruous elements in a hatred of the Communist Party. It, they say, wages a war to the death against their ideals; Religion Private Enterprise, and Democracy. The party has, of course, modified its formulae in the course of the struggle. Officially, it now declares itself not concerned about religion, though all its leaders are Atheist and there cannot be much doubt what the future of religion would be if they prevailed in the great conflict. They claim also that they advocate democracy; in fact, a purer democracy than that of the self-styled Democratic powers. And, at present, at least, they have not the least idea of forcing economic equality. Nevertheless, it remains true that they would ultimately destroy the Holy Trinity of the new Holy Alliance: Religion, Private Enterprise, Democracy.
It is, therefore, at first sight, surprising that in the works of our historians we find little to resent when they describe the rise and aims of the Communist Party and the attainment of power in Russia. The reader will not forget that all the works which I set out to examine were written before 1946 when the journalist’s Hymn of Praise of Soviet Russia began to lower its note and became a Hymn of Hate. Mast of the works were written in the 30’s, when not much notice was taken of the lies of the Catholic Press and the pope’s strident call for “the extinction of Bolshevism.” In the article in the latest edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica Farbmann writes (in 1933):
“Until quite recent times legend had taken complete control of the Russian Revolution, and it is only lately that critical control has begun to substitute for it a solid basis of historical fact.”
We could not expect our historians to anticipate that the poisonous legends of 1917 to 1927 would not only be restored but amplified after Russia’s magnificent Performance in the war. Yet the present morbid hysteria could have been checked to some extent if the public could refer to historical works in which the earlier libels were refuted by a full statement of facts.
The Columbia Encyclopedia has three generally correct and informing articles (Bolshevism, Communism, and Russian Revolution), but they fail to tell facts of crucial importance and at times they encourage the libel by careless casual observations. They refer to “the bloodshed that had accompanied the Russian Revolution.” The reader gets the idea, that this confirms the legend of “the passions of the mob” in rape and murder, whereas in both the revolutions of 1917 there were few outrages apart from the inevitable fighting in the streets, and of these few there were more at the first (Liberal-Socialist) than the second (Bolshevik) revolution. It was later, in the White War (in which Americans, British, Czechs, French and Japanese invaders outnumbered the White Russians), that something like savagery occurred, and it is unjust to say, as the Encyclopedia does, that “atrocities were committed on both sides throughout the Civil War.” It was more an invasion than a Civil War.” and we have impartial testimony that the Bolshevik soldiers were the least to blame.
But the chief fault here is a lack of balance in such facts as are given, and it is the same in the new history. Professors Wallbank and Taylor entirely mislead when they Say (ii. 348):
“During the course of the second revolution in Petrograd disorder and massacre were prevalent throughout Russia.”
There was hardly any bloodshed in Petrograd and no massacres (but a few days fighting against armed police) in Moscow; and peasant disorders were promptly checked by the Bolshevists. If we understand the Tsarist horrors of preceding years (to 1912), the intense strain, distress and confusion of the year 1917, we almost agree with Mrs. Litvinor and her history of the revolution that it was “one of the most bloodless on record.” Outrages amounting to savagery began several months after the revolution, these were committed not by the mob in the cities, but by the armies, especially the anti-Bolshevik Russian troops in the field. Professor Geise seems to be confused about this when he says that after the revolution the Bolsheviks only kept power by the unmitigated use of rigid discipline and terrorism, and he apparently entertains some of the most mendacious legends when he speaks of the extreme anti-intellectual and anti-family attitude of the revolutionary period. The second point is absurd. What the Bolsheviks did was to institute civil marriage, make divorce easy. and declare children born out of wedlock legitimate. The one or two small local Soviets who wanted a common right to women were freaks and were at once condemned by Moscow.
But in order to show how badly historians (except Professor Barnes) fail to provide the reader with an account of the revolution which would enable him to judge the wild stories that are current today I must give a very short sketch of the Progress of events. In this, I follow one of the best and most detailed histories of it — apart from partisan versions on both sides — the British W.H. Chamberlain’s work “The Russian Revolution” (2 vols. 1935).
No historian has a lenient word for the Tsarist regime. The government and church stank. They had oppressed the people murderously for 1,000 years. And if some describe the abortive revolution of 1905, they still give no idea of the horrors that preceded it and the savage oppression that continued until 1910 or later. The defeat of Russia, by Japan had led to a shocking disclosure of the corruption of the official and noble class and a widespread revolt, and the reprisals were appalling and lasted several years. The jails had normal accommodation for 107,000 prisoners, but by 1910 they had 180,00 mostly political prisoners. Boys and girls who attended a radical lecture or read an underground journal were arrested. Youths and girls over 15 were shot on the street or stripped and flogged (with the brutal knout) in the jails, and the young women (largely university students) were raped by the gross jailers. Suicides in jails rose to 160 in one month, and typhus was terribly rife. It is material to remember that even the young radicals of 1917 had Passed through this diabolical ordeal a few years earlier; and it is not immaterial to add that the British and American press and the churches had almost entirely ignored the savagery that went on for years. Papers that were in 1913 to pour out volcanic rhetoric over enormously exaggerated stories of Bolshevik outrages had been silent about the monstrous and real outrages perpetrated at the order of educated and religious men from 1904 to 1912. Every Russian knew these things. Hardly any American did; and the volumes of European history that now appeared gave him no help.
To the heavy distress into which this struggle had driven the country was now added the strain of the First World War, the sacrifice of millions of peasants. the acute scarcity of food. In February 1917 the strain snapped, and the combined Constitutional Democrats (Cadets, led by university professors and other middle class men and a few liberal nobles) and the Socialists seized power. Some call it the March Revolution, because it was in the next month that they compelled the Tsar to abdicate. No historian rate, was the real Russian Revolution, as all historians relate. It was “in the main good-natured,” says Chamberlain, but there was naturally a fight with Tsarist troops and police, and in the provinces the peasants here and there burned mansions and murdered nobles. There was actually more bloodshed at this first revolution than at the Bolshevik Revolution in November. Yet such is the debauchery of the human mind in our time that the overwhelming majority do not know even that there were two revolutions, and they just heap together all the bogus stories and atrocities in a confused idea of “the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917.” I doubt if one American in a million knows that it was the Liberals who forced the Tsar to abdicate. No historian points out that there were no official reprisals at either revolution, though, as I have told, every royalist-clerical counter- revolution during 130 years had been followed by fiendish reprisals. There were murders, but no massacres; and the man who shudders at these outbreaks among the peasants ought to read of the thousand years of brutal treatment of them and how church and state had left them, right up to the revolution in a sodden state, morally and intellectually. But don’t look for any of this in the new history or the new encyclopedia.
No one questions that the new regime was feeble and incompetent and the country drifted toward a new crisis. Price Lvov, a literary noble — he translated my “Church and the People” into Russian — was the first leader but was soon compelled to withdraw. Professor Milyukov, leader of the Cadets (Liberals), was next. I knew him well in later years. He was a fine man but not strong, and was hampered by his Liberal distrust of the people. There was no place for a “benevolent bourgeois” in that boiling world. Kerensky, Right-wing Socialist, remained for some months but was quite incompetent for the job. He allowed the Bolshevik leaders to return — I met Trotsky in New York the day before he set out, and I didn’t like him at all — but scattered them again for a premature revolt in the summer, though he had to recall them to help him when the Tsarist General Kornilov marched on Petrograd. But the Bolshevik leaders alone knew precisely what they wanted, and they had been toughened by long exile. The soldiers were tired of war; the whole country was tired. They worked on that line. Just as in the 16th century the religious revolt succeeded, while earlier revolts had failed, largely because the Emperor was a foreigner to the Germans, so the Bolsheviks succeeded because there was a war on and they supported the resentment of it by the army and people.
I am concerned here only that our historians tell the story in such a way that writers, editors, and politicians cannot so easily press upon the public their unjust and inflammatory version of the revolution. There was little more bloodshed at the Second Revolution than at the first, and the idea of the Liberals politely taking over the portfolios and deposing the Tsar in February and the Bolsheviks wading through a stream of blood to power in November is monstrously wrong.
At Petrograd, which was still the seat of government, the proceedings were, says Chamberlin, “relatively bloodless.” There were three days of desultory fighting, the Tsarist police firing from windows and more resistance in the south. Deaths in such fights are not outrages. The Reds themselves lost about 500 men. In places soldiers and sailors sometimes killed their former officers, while in many places the peasants burned mansions and killed landowners and nobles. Their backs still smarted from the knout. There were no reprisals, as there had always been when, to parody the familiar phrase, “the passions of the nobles and the priests were unleashed.” In fact, one of the first acts of the Bolshevik leaders was to abolish the death sentence. Chamberlain says (I. 242):
“Moscow was the sole place in Central and Northern Russia in which the Bolshevik regime and power encountered serious, substantial, and sanguinary resistance.”
The Bolshevik revolution was over and it had so far carried out the wishes of the army and the nation that it was, as revolutions go, accomplished with little violence.
The violence began in what all our historians call The civil War, though hardly one of them tells the reader that in the armies which fought Bolshevism during, the next two years only about one-tenth of the soldiers were Russians. It was an invasion war, waged by about 200,000 Japs, Czechs, French, British, and Americans against a beggarly and starving people. Elections for a Constituent Assembly (Congress) were held in November, and the qualifications had been so determined by Kerensky that 62 percent voted against the Bolsheviks. Lenin, nevertheless announced that the Assembly would meet in January, but feeling rose to white heat. The Bolsheviks were pledged to withdraw from the European war, and the agents of the Allies lent all the aid and encouragement they could to the Cadets, Social Revolutionaries, and Tsarists. Large provinces broke away and declared themselves Independent, and such was the scarcity of food in the cities and confusion in the provinces that nerves were strained everywhere. Our historians admit that the country was terribly dilapidated and suffering, but unless readers get some concrete details they still picture Russia to themselves as not very different from Britain and France during the war.
When the Assembly met there was at once a clash of Menshevik (and allies) and Bolshevik, and the soldiers and sailors who attended in great numbers drowned the orators. An attempt had previously been made to murder Lenin, and there was a known plot to kidnap him. He dissolved the Assembly and inaugurated, on the familiar lines of the Marxian philosophy, the Dictatorship of the Proletariat (of the Community Party). The nation at large, says Chamberlain, was completely indifferent to this, but the Cadets and Social Revolutionaries were, naturally, infuriated and began to organize and to form underground movements. The negotiations with the Germans for a sperate peace, which was conducted in March, were pushed on and the Allies intrigued with the Mensheviks and in the provinces; and this anger was increased by the action of the Bolsheviks in repudiating all the international loans that the Tsarest government had contracted. Before the Fall of 1918 Petrograd, half starved itself, looking out upon a vast country that was in ruins and inconceivably demoralized, saw armies of well-fed and perfectly-equipped troops — the world in arms — advancing from east, north and south to destroy it utterly. There were 70,000 Japs (who felt that this was a grand opportunity to annex their first large slice of Asia), 35,000 Checks, about 40,000 White Russians and volunteers, 35,000 French and other West Europeans, 13,000 British and Americans, and at least 50,000 Poles.
The Columbia Encyclopedia (“Russian Revolution”) describes at some length the fighting that followed as a Civil War between the Reds and the Whites. It does not tell that the Whites were entirely equipped by the Japanese, Americans, French and British, and were only a tenth of the whole. It says, rather ridiculously, that “few of the Whites were Tsarists.” it does not mention that the immense armies of 150,000 Japs, White Russians, etc., from the east advanced ruthlessly over more than 4,000 miles of Russia. corrupting all who were corruptible and torturing or ‘killing those who were not, living on the food of the starving country. It just says briefly at the end of its account of the war that it was “complicated by Allied intervention,” whereas, clearly, the regular troops of the Allies must have done by fir the most fighting. It says that the British and Americans “occupied” Murmansk and Archangel, and only, to prevent stores from falling into the hands of the Reds, but “American forces did not participate in the fighting between the Allies and Bolsheviks.”
The latter is a wanton fiction for American consumption. In August 1918 two American regiments landed in Siberia to help the British to protect the rear of the Czechs and Japanese. On August 1st a British fleet reached Archangel with 6.000 British and Canadian troops. 5,000 Americans, and 2,000 Italians and Serbs. The American government said that these were all the troops that were available at the time. Chamberlin described in detail how these troops were intended to fight their way across a thousand miles of Russia and join the Japs when they reached the Volga. That was a dream, but the Americans fought their way 200 miles south of Archangel, took Shenkursh, and held it until the Reds drove them back. The British and Americans got no help, he says, from the people they had set out to deliver and were obliged to quit Archangel before the winter. And the first authority recommended by the Encyclopedia is Chamberlin’s book!
The encyclopedia is, as I said, almost equally misleading when it says that “atrocities were committed throughout the civil war by both sides.” Professor Langer is equally misleading when he says (1036.),
“These executions and persecutions made a miserable impression throughout the world and did much to discredit Russia.”
As regards the soldiers, we have impartial testimony that the Reds were the least guilty of all. When, in February, 1918 the Bolsheviks had recaptured Kiev and some of them had retaliated on the Ukrainians, the Soviet issued an instruction, which is given by Chamberlin, that “any who disgrace themselves by the murder of unarmed people must be expelled from the Soviet army and handed over to a revolutionary court” (I. 376). As all admit that the White Russians — whose leaders were aristocrats with long tradition of brutality to the peasants — and the Poles committed atrocities, it would be foolish to suggest that Soviet resolutions prevented retaliation. But the French scientist, Dr. G. Montandon, who was head of the International Red Cross and with the armies in the east, says in his books, “Two Years with Kolchak (the Whites) and with the Bolsheviks” (1927, but not translated, of course), that the Whites kept 250,000 prisoners in camps of the later Nazi type and treated them with terrific brutality. The Poles and Czechs also were brutal, he says, but “the good and mystic Russians (Reds) were more humane.” He sums up, on the strength of “what we have seen with our own eyes and heard with our ears,” that “the Reds are less sanguinary than the White Russians and their supporters” (p. 38). The French General Rouquerol (“The Adventure of Admiral Koleliak,” 1929. also not translated) agrees about the Whites. Even the young aristocratic officers were “cutthroats” a German General assured him.
This distinguished French General, by the way, defends the Reds against another libel. On an earlier page I quoted Professor Geise attributing the general hatred of the Bolsheviks in part to their supposed attempt to destroy marriage. General Rcuquerol says (p. 246):
“This alleged nationalization of women in Russia is one of the most pyramidal inventions that was ever constructed in the brains of its cronies. The truth is very different. It is that never in the history of prostitution was this more nearly abolished than in the first period of the Bolshevik regime.”
It was much the same in regard to religion. Professor Langer says (p. 993) that “the Bolshevik campaign against religion appalled all Christendom.” It is enough to recall that on April 23, 1930 the British Secretary for Foreign Affairs, a Conspicuously religious man, read out in the House of Commons this official assurance from the British Ambassador at Moscow:
“There is no religious persecution in Russia in the strict sense of the word Persecution, and no case has been discovered of a priest or anyone else being punished for practicing religion.”
Our Professors seem to take as authoritative such works as Lancelot Lawton’s history of the Russian Revolution. They have this excuse that the author was the representative in Moscow at the time of the Chief British Liberal daily. But so peculiar is the ethic of journalism in regard to Russia that this writer makes the Bolsheviks kill 1,275 archbishops and bishops when there were — see the Catholic Encyclopedia — only 169 archbishops and bishops in Russia; and even on the just charge of treason very few of these were shot.
There was, however, a Red Terror, from the fall of 1918 to the summer of 1920, when the Allies and Whites were driven out. The death penalty was reintroduced for traitors and the terrible Cheka set up. Chamberlin estimates that it condemned and executed about 50,000. Some British and American papers said 1,700,000; the Bolsheviks said about 20,000. Take your choice. There had been treason everywhere. But the condition of the country after four years’ war, two revolutions, and a savage civil war was inconceivable. The nation had not had enough food for three years and was drifting into the great famine of 1921-2. More than a quarter of a million international forces were in Russia, and the largest army got to within 300 miles of Moscow. A girl of the Social Revolutionary Party shot Lenin and maimed him for life. The press of the world was gloating over the impending victory over the improvised and ill-equipped Red Army. In November, 1918, the British Financial News said:
In the city (London) events are shaping once more toward international suzerainty over Russia, modelled on the British plan over Egypt. Such an event would transform Russian bonds into the cream of the international market.”
Even when the other Allies were driven out by the poorly-equipped Reds — and no historian gives them credit for this or suggests that it shows the general feeling of the people — the Poles, who thought they could now seize the rich and vast province of Ukraine from the afflicted Russians, spurred by the Catholic Church and subsidized by the French, pressed on. And since outside the chief cities the Bolsheviks were in the minority, there were millions of traitors and the whole of the clergy helped the enemy. We can admit, without using violent language, that 50,000 of them were shot.
Just one word more. When Professor Langer says that “the terrible number of executions discredited Russia” it is possible that he refers also, if not chiefly, to the purges, trials and execrations of later years. These certainly were, together with the, lie about religion, the chief material used by the press of the world before the war to poison all nations against the Communists and support the pope’s cry for the extinction of Bolshevism. Stalin, it was said, was murderously getting rid of rivals. When most of their leaders confessed their guilt, foreign journalists nauseously speculated as to what hideous means had been used to extort the confessions.
Now the most famous of these trials was in 1938, and the vilest language was used about it in America. Well, in December, 1937, and January. 1938 an American engineer, neither Socialist nor Communist, John D. Littlepage, wrote a series of articles in the Saturday Evening Post. He had just returned from special work in the Russian mines. To his article on January 1st be gave the title “Red Wreckers in Russia.” He wrote that he had known many of the Bolshevik leaders who were executed or imprisoned in 1936 and 1937. and he said:
“I am convinced, from my experience, that these Communists made genuine confessions.
He said that there was an extraordinary amount of treachery and sabotage, some political (Trotskyist), and some for foreign gold, and he named several leaders (who were arrested months later) as being to his knowledge, bribed’ by the Germans or Japanese. The U.S. Ambassador Davis was present at the big 1938 trial, and he tells that of 21 accused at least 19 were clearly guilty, yet abuse was heaped upon Stalin (sadism, bloody Jealousy, etc.) for these trials all over the world.
Most of the works I have examined were published before the beginning of the Second World War, so I have no occasion here to discuss any events since that time. There is, however, one more outstanding theme of our own time on which I must say a few words, especially as it is, mainly by suppressing facts, totally misrepresented in the new history and the Columbia, yet the truth about it is of vital social importance today; and it is misrepresented obviously because of Catholic pressure. In an earlier section we ended with the spectacle of Pius IX returning to the brutal feudal policy of his predecessors when reaction seemed to have recovered full power in Europe and defying all liberal and progressive thought with the stage thunder of his syllabus. He lived to see Italy sweep away the temporal power and make considerable progress in revolt against the Vatican: and to see France sweep away his friend Napoleon III and set up a republic.
Leo XIII inherited this (from the Church angle) dangerous situation. Our historians and our encyclopedia pay him the familiar gorgeous compliments, but in fact his pontifical career was a series of blunders. By his obstinacy for some years in maintaining his predecessor’s attitude he drove the French Republic into the arms of “the Jews and Freemasons” (so he said), saw all its institutions secularized and the Catholic population sink rapidly from more than 20,000,000 to less than 10,000,000. He repelled all advances of the Italian Government and saw skepticism capture the middle class and spread extensively among the people. In these and other countries (Spain Portugal, Latin America, Belgium, the United States, etc.), his church lost at least 50,000,000 members during his pontificate. He was harsh and offensive in his dealings with the American hierarchy, and, while he won some ridiculous prestige in the world-press for saying in an encyclical that the workers had a right to a living wage — a singular discovery for these inspired moralists after 1,500 years of power — he retracted even this in his last years and died in despair, while the anti-papal statesmen died serenely in the dawn of a new world.
His successors in the first three decades of the present century had not his ability, and they blundered along while the Church continued to decay. One would think that our historians were unaware that the birth-rate of Catholics, who are forbidden under pain of hell to practice birth control, is double that of the rest of a civilized community, and that Catholics in publishing their statistics count the millions of seceders from their body as actual members of it. But their reports to Rome are required to be truthful, and the popes saw the shrinkage of the church continue. They saw vast numbers fall away in Spain, which moved on toward its Socialist and Liberal Revolution of 1932. Literacy and skepticism spread equally in Latin America, and Socialism made rapid strides in Italy and South America. The future of the Church in the democracies was clouded and, in further disproof of its fabled intelligence-system and sagacity, the Vatican embarked upon what is known as the Eastern Policy, looking for compensation in the mere docile regions of the decaying. Orthodox Church and Asia for the immense losses in Europe and the United States. I remember that I was in Athens when the Turks under Kemal swept the Greek army out of Asia Minor. The secretary of the British Legation told me that the Greek Foreign Minister assured the Legation that this defeat, which came like a clap of thunder, was due to the fact that the Turks got French guns, tanks and officers. The Vatican felt that the Turks were the coming power in the East and their skeptical rulers might, in their disdain of Islam, be induced to favor the pope’s ambition in the East. In view of the general representation of our historians that the papacy is, and always was, the greatest moral power in the world, it is singular that Professor Langer is the only one of them who devotes a page to papal policy and work in the fateful first quarter of the present century — and Professor Langer just pays the conventional compliments to the popes.
One of the more important inaccuracies on this page (933) of Professor Langer’s book is when he says of Pope Pius XI: “From the outset he took a strong stand against Communism.” He was. as a matter of fact, elected pope in February 1922, and in April and May his representative, the Archbishop of Genoa, conspicuously courted the Red envoy Chicherin at the Genoa Conference, and, though the Catholic priests had been expelled from Russia for treachery in the Civil War, got permission for the Jesuit mission to be re-admitted; and it remained there, apparently on the best of terms with the Communists, until 1924, when the priests were again expelled for treachery.
The point is important because 1924 was the real date of the beginning of the new papal policy: back to the West, to cooperate with the leaders of the democracies and dictators against Communism and Socialism. It was in 1924 that the Jesuit Father Walsh, one of those expelled from Russia, started the vitriolic and mendacious campaign against Communism in America. By then new and fiercely anti-social forces had appeared in Europe, and, while Nazism was still uncertain of its future, Mussolini became a power. A new force appeared also in Rome after the blundering mediocrities who had occupied the chair since the death of Leo XIII. Cardinal Pacelli became Secretary of State to the senile Pius XI in 1929 and the full papal policy was soon clear; alliance with any and every power — democrats or Fascists, Christian or Japanese — that promised to work for the extinction of Communism. But how Pius XII cooperated with the Japs from their invasion of Manchuria onward, consecrated Fascism in Italy, Nazism in Germany, and Phalangism in Spain, inspired the sordid dictatorships in South America, was intimately associated with the Germans, Italians and Japanese in setting the world aflame in the Second World War, and, when they lost their ghastly gamble, found that his “international moral power” was still indispensable to the Capitalists, Politicians, and Militarists who made the destruction of Communism the ground for a third war is another story, now involved in the manuals I have examined, that I discuss in other works.