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Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 2.djvu/706

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BOLLANDISTS


636


BOLLANDISTS


of Brussels, to which had been sent all the equip- ments of the printing establishment which the BoUandists had founded at Antwerp exclusively for their work. The printing expenses as well as those of pensions and indemnities were largely made up to the public treasury by the confiscation of the capital amassed by the older BoUandists through the sale of their volumes, the collective pension of 2,000 Brabant florins received from the government all through the eighteenth century up to the suppression of the Society, and the liberality of certain benefactors. This capital had grown by 1773 to the sum of 130,000 Brabant florins, (.$47,166) yielding an annual revenue of 9,133 florins and 18 sous to which were added the results of the sale of the Acta Sanctorum which averaged 2,400 florins yearly. The Empress Maria Theresa to the very last showed favour to the work of the BoUandists. The same benevolence was not experienced from her successor, Joseph II. The BoUandists now felt the consequences of one of the so-called reforms introduced into the ecclesiastical domain by this imperial philosopher. Among the religious houses suppressed as useless was the Abbey of Caudenberg. The decree of suppression was en- forced in May, 17S6. The BoUandists were not at first involved in the catastrophe, as they were as- signed a dwelling-place and library in a part of the buildings formerly occu(5ied by the college of the Society of Jesus, and were allowed to retain the pen- sions and privileges granted them in 1778. This was only a short postponement, however, of the com- plete destruction of the work. Already, in 1784, the Prince von Kaunitz, minister of Joseph II and his chief counsellor in the matter of religious reform, had intimated that the Emperor was not content with the slow progress of the undertaking, and that for the future he would expect to see the publication of at least a volume a year, so that the work might be entirely finished in ten years. The minister even went so far as to send word to the municipality of Brussels that "he attributed the lack of activity on the part of the BoUandists to their desire to keep up forever [eterniiier] the profits accruing from the work, and that if they did not give satisfaction there was nothing to do but suppress the establishment." The accused had no difficulty in justifying themselves. But the Court of Vienna had fully decided to hear no explanation, and in 1788 asked for a report from the Court of Accounts concerning the expenses entailed by the work of the BoUandists. The conclusion de- duced from this report was that the suppression of this work and that of the historiographers would result in an annual gain to the treasury of two to three thousand florins. The Chamber, moreover, took it on itself to say that there was no advantage to be gained by continuing it. The ecclesiastical commission and commission of studies (one and the same), consulted in its turn, gave a decision to the same effect (11 October, 1788). "The work of the BoUandists ", it said, " is far from completion, and we cannot flatter ourselves that the end is yet in sight. This work has no merit but that of being an historical repertory, filled with an enormous quantity of details, which will always have but slight attraction for real savants. It is astonishing that at the time of the suppression of the Jesuit Order, they should have been successful in interesting the Government in such trash, and that it is such is proved by the scanty profit the BoUandists have deriveil from their labours. In business parlance, it is a very poor in- vestment, and as it is not better, regarded from a scientific standpoint, it is quite time to put an end to it." Strengthened by this advice, the "Govern- ment Council" notified the Court of Accounts by a despatch dated 16 October, 1788, that it had been decided to put a stop to the work of the Acta Sanc- torum, and that in consequence, beginning from


that date, no more payments should be made to the Fathers De Bye, De Bue, Fonson, Ghesqui^re, and Cornelius Smet (a former Jesuit, associated first with Ghesquiere in the publication of the " Analecta Belgica" and later enrolled among the BoUandists) of the annual pension of 800 florins which liad been assured them. It was to be decided later what should be done with the printing outfit and the other effects of the suppressed establishment. These spoils com- prised the library of the BoUandists and the copies of the volumes already published which they had in stock. This involved no slight annoyance. Once the series was abandoned, it would be difficult to find a purchaser for these works, and they wished to realize as much money as possible from them. It was decided to ask the BoUandists themselves to undertake the sale of these effects for the benefit of the public treasury. The BoUandists willingly ac- cepted the charge, hoping to keep intact the treas- ures of their library and tlius to ensure, in a certain measure, the resumption of the work, if not at once, at least in the near future.

Cornelius De Bye, who had been especially com- missioned to conduct the sale, turned first to Martin Gerbert, the learned abbot of the monastery of St. Blasius in the Black Forest. On behalf of the Government commissioners he named a purchase price for the library and such of the published vol- umes as remained unsold, and offered to come to St. Blasius for some months in order to train some of the young religious of the abbey for the work of publishing the Acta Sanctorum. His letter, dated 11 November, 1788, remained unanswered, whether as a result of dispositions little favourable to the Society of Jesus, such as had been more than once manifested by this famous abbot, or whether, al- ready absorbed by many important works, he felt he could not think of undertaking yet another entirely new. About the same time, i. e. in November and December, 1788, the Congregation of Benedictines of Saint-Maur, in France, of its own accord made advances to the officials of the Imperial Government of Vienna for the acquisition of the BoUandist library, with a view to continuing the pubhcation. This attempt was equally void of result. It was with the abbey of the Prenionstratensians of Ton- gerloo that arrangements were fuially concluded. By a contract signed 11 ^lay, 1789, the Government transferred to this abbey the BoUandist library and the Bellarmine Museum, together with the furnish- ings appertaining to them, and the volumes already printed and the printing equipment. In return, the abbey was to pay the go\-ernment for the libraries 12,000 Brabant florins (•«4.353.84) and for the other things 18,000 florins. Half of the latter sum was turned over to the three hagiographers, De Bye, De Bue, and Fonson. Moreover, the abbey agreed to pay a yearly salary to these three as well as to Ghesquiere and Smet. The BoUandists were scarcely established in their new home when the Brabantine Revolution broke out. Nevertheless, they continued their labours and in 1794 pubUshed the sixth volume of October, signed with the names of Cornelius De Bye and James De Bue, former Jesuits, John Baptist Fonson, ex-Canon of Cauden- berg, Anselni Berthod the Benedictine, and Siard van Dyck, Cyprian van de Goor, and Matthias Stalz, Premonstratensian canons. The same year Belgium was invaded by French troops and reunited to the great Republic. Ecclesiastical goods were confis- cated, priests and religious hunted like criminals, the Prenionstratensians of Tongerloo and the BoUandists whom tliey harboured forced to disperse, and the work of the BoUandists actually suppressed. Part of the treasures of the library were concealed in the homes of neighbouring peasants, and the rest, hastily piled into wagons, were taken to Westohaha. When