The Concordat of 1801: A Study of the Problem of Nationalism in the Relations of Church and State

By Henry H. Walsh | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER IX
JOSEPH DE MAISTRE

(1)

SINCE this review of personalities opened with the sentimental and pedantic Chateaubriand, it is not inappropriate that it should close with the sternly logical and erudite de Maistre. In his Critical Miscellanies, Morley brackets the names of these two churchmen together1 as the representatives of the same school of thought, and speaks of them as interesting to us today because of their influence on the Positivist philosophers. There are many striking similarities between them, but one ventures to think that it is their divergent influences upon posterity that make "some knowledge of them of the highest historical interest both to those who accept and those who detest"2 their systems.

Their similarities may be briefly summarized. Both had an intense love of religion and in its defense led a revolt against the eighteenth-century philosophy; both looked upon France, in the words of de Maistre himself, as "the most beautiful kingdom after that of Heaven." Both of them

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1
"The three most conspicuous champions of revived Catholicism were de Maistre, de Bonald, and Chateaubriand. The last of them, the author of the Génie du Christianisme, was effective in France because he was so deeply sentimental, but he was too little trained in speculation, and too little equipped with knowledge to be fairly taken as the best intellectual representative of their way of thinking. . . . De Maistre was the greatest of the three and deserves better than either of the others to stand as the type of the school for many reasons." Morley John, Critical Miscellanies (London, 1886), vol. ii, pp. 261-262.
2
Ibid., p. 260.

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