primary education; it showed the Government's in- tention of using the taxpayers' money to start com- petition with free education, and if, as a matter of policy the clergy were invited to give religious m- struction in pubUc institutions, conditions were such as to raalie their co-operation lack both dignity and effectiveness. . r xu j
The Belgian nation was not yet npe for the adop- tion of a policy so out of harmony with the spirit of its national traditions, and after five years, the cabinet was overthrown. A more moderate Liberal cabinet modified the law of 1850 by adopting the "agree- ment of .\ntwerp" made between the communal ad- ministration of that city and the bishops, giving to the clergy the guarantees required for their admission to the public institutions of secondary education. The support given to this agreement, by the Chamber, the vote being 86 to 7, showed that the necessity of religious instruction was still understood by a large number of Liberals. The elections of 1855, which returned a Catholic majority, resulted in a cabinet presided over by P. de Decker, who may be called the last of the Unionists. This cabinet, which its friends might have reproached with excessive mod- eration, was destined to be overthrowai as reactionary. One of its members, A. Nothomb, drafted a law con- cerning charitable bequests intended to protect the interests of testators and repair the unfortunate ef- fects of De Haussy's legislation. Testators were au- thorized to appoint special administrators for their bequests, but the powers of the latter were circum- scribed and their exercise placed under the strict supervision of the State (1857). Under the leader- ship of Frere-Orban, who under the pseudonym of Jean Van Damme had just written a sensational pamphlet, the Liberals pretended to find in this scheme a roundabout restoration of the monastic main-morte; they called it the law of the convents, and when the plan was brought up for discussion, they organized riots which intimidated the head of the cabinet. He took advantage of the communal elections, which had been favourable to the Liberal party, to tender the resignation of the cabinet. This pusillanimous conduct delivered the Government again into the hands of the Liberals, who held power for thirteen years (1857-70).
During this long period the new ministry, which was merely the outcome of a riot, did nothing but emphasize the anti-religious character of its policy The real head was Fr.'re-Orban, who in the end forced his colleague, Rogier, to retire (1868), and car- ried out successively the principal features m his programme of secularization. More prominent than ever was the alleged aim of protecting ci\dl society against the "encroachments of the clergy". The law of 1859 on charitable endowments was the counter- part of that of 1857 and the despoiling policy inau- gurated in 1847 by de Haussy. A law of 1869, of the same animus, confiscated all the bursaries for free scholarships, nine-tenths of which had been es- tablished to advance the Christian education of the young, annulling the formal provisions of the testators. A law of 1870 confined exemption from military ser- vice to students of the grands scminaires, refusing it to novices of religious orders. In actual practice, the Government was sectarian and intolerant towards re ligion and the clergy. It countenanced the eiTorts prompted by the Masonic lodges to secularize ceme- teries, notwithstanding the decree of Prairial, twelfth year, that there should be a cemetery for each de- nomination, which left Catholic cemeteries under the Church's jurisdiction. Appointments to public offices, especially to the magistracy, were noticeably partisan. An example of the petty prejudice of the Government was its suppression of the annual subsidy which the Bol- landists (q. v.) had hitherto received for the continua- tion of their magnificent work, the "Acta Sanctorum ' '.
It seemed as if the rule of the Liberal party would continue indefinitely, and that Catholics were pernia- nently excluded from power, which their adversaries declared they were incapable of exercising. However, the Catholics made use of their long exclusion from a share in governmental affairs in at last seriously attempting to organize their forces. Jules Malou de- voted himself most energetically to tliis task, and for the first time, the broad outlines of organization were visible, an organization such as the Liberal party had long possessed. At the same time, in imitation of the German Catholics, they held impor- tant Congresses at Mechlin, in 1863, 1864, and 1867, which awakened Catholic enthusiasm and gave courage to the pessimists. In this way. Catholics found themselves able to resume the struggle with new vigour. Dissensions in the Liberal party, the strenuous opposition to the Liberals, or Doctrinaires, of the Government, on the part of men of advanced ideas, who claimed the double title of Progressists, and of Radicals, combined to help the Catholics and in 1870, they finally succeeded in overthrowing the Liberal Government.
The Liberals then had recourse to the means which had contributed to their success in 1857. The min- istry had appointed as Governor of Limburg P. de Decker, who had been the head of the ministry of 1855, and whose name had been connected with the failure of a financial association. The Liberals af- fected to be greatly scandalized and organized riots which so frightened Leopold II that he dismissed his ministry (1871). He replaced it, it is true, by another Catholic ministry, of which Jules Malou was president. Though formed during the disturbances of a popular outbreak in defiance of the wishes of the large cities, which were all Liberal in their sj-mpathies, and se- cretly impugned before the king by Jules Van Praet, the royal secretary, who was nicknamed the "Seventh Ministry", this ministry managed to hold out until 1878 only by dint of being as unobtrusive as possible. None of the anti-religious laws made by the Liberals were revised, not even the one concerning bursaries, which had been passed by a bare majority. There was no restoration of the balance of power in public offices, which continued to be held by the Liberals. In 1875, the Burgomaster of Lifge having forbidden the Jubilee processions in that city, in defiance of the Constitution, the Government dared not annul his illegal order and had the humiliation of seeing the 1 500 Liberals tender him a complimentary ban- quet Catholic rule seemed in very truth what its adversaries called it, an "empty parenthesis", and, towards the end of his administration, Jules Malou in a Catholic meeting, summed it up in these words: " we have existed "— -Voi/.s avons vecu.
When a turn in the elections brought the Liberals back into power, after the Catholic administration had dragged out a precarious existence of eight years, they were able to continue their anti-Catholic policy from the point where they had left it. While out of office they had become more irreligious owing to the growing influence of Masonry. Not only the clergy, but the Church, and religion itself, became the objects of their attacks. They encouraged writers who, like Professor Laurent of the University of Ghent, denied the necessity of granting liberty to the Church, or who, hke Professor de Laveleye of the University of Liege, asserted the superiority of Protestantism Their Antwerp associations flooded the countrj- with copies of a pamphlet written by the latter in this vein. Besides this, the Liberals sought to make the country Protestant by supporting de Laveleye and Goblet d'Alviella, who, taking advantage of a quarrel between the villagers of Sart-Dame-Aveline and the parish priest introduced Protestant worship there and tried to proselytize the inhabitants. They adopted the name Gueux (beggars) which they found in the story