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CONSIDÉRANT—CONSISTORY

Indian word meaning “pleasant valley.” It was incorporated in 1850. Immediately across the Schuylkill is West Conshohocken (pop. in 1900, 1958), where carpets and woollen goods are manufactured.


CONSIDÉRANT, VICTOR PROSPER (1808–1893), French socialist, was born at Salins (Jura) on the 12th of October 1808. Educated at the École Polytechnique in Paris, he entered the French army as an engineer, rising to the rank of captain. Becoming imbued, however, with the phalansterian ideas of François Fourier, he resigned his commission in 1831, in order to devote himself to advancing the doctrines of his master. On the death of Fourier in 1837 he became the acknowledged head of the movement, and took charge of La Phalange, the organ of Fourierism. He also established phalanges at Condé-sur-Vesgres and elsewhere, but they had little success and soon died of inanition. During this period he published his Destinée sociale (1834–1838), undoubtedly the most able and most important work of the Fourierist school. After the revolution of 1848 he was elected to the Constituent Assembly for the department of Loiret, and in 1849 to the Legislative Assembly for the department of the Seine. Considérant’s share in the “demonstration” under the leadership of Ledru-Rollin on the 13th of June 1849 caused his compulsory flight to Belgium. Thence he went (1852) to Texas, but soon returned to Brussels, where he suffered a short imprisonment for alleged conspiracy against the peace of a neighbouring state. On his release he again set out for Texas, and founded at San Antonio the communistic colony of La Réunion. This experiment met with little more success than his former attempts, and in 1869 he returned to Paris, where he lived in retirement, needy and forgotten, till his death in 1893. The most important of Considérant’s other writings were Exposition du système de Fourier (1845), Principes du socialisme (1847), Théorie du droit de propriété et du droit au travail (1848).

CONSIDERATION (from Lat. considerare, to look at closely, examine, generally taken to be from con-, and the base seen in sidus, sideris, a star, the word being supposed to be originally an astrological or astronomical term), observation, attention, regard or taking into account, hence the fact taken into account, and especially something given as an equivalent or reward or in payment; in the law of contract, an act or forbearance, or the promise thereof, offered by one party to an agreement, and accepted by the other as an inducement to that other’s act or promise (Pollock on Contract). Consideration in the legal sense is essential to the validity of every contract unless it is made in writing under seal. The meaning of the word is quite accurately expressed by a phrase used in one of the earliest cases on the subject—it is strictly a quid pro quo. Something, whether it be in the nature of an act or a forbearance, must move from one of the parties in order to support a promise made by the other. A mere promise by A to give something to B cannot be enforced unless there is some consideration “moving from B.” While every contract requires a consideration, it is held that the court will not inquire into the adequacy thereof, but it must be of some value in the eye of the law. It must also be legal, and it must be either present or future, not past. See further Contract.

CONSIGNMENT (from consign, Fr. consigner, Lat. consignare, to affix a signum, seal; whence, in Late Lat., to hand over, transmit), generally, the delivery or transmission of any person or thing for safe custody, e.g. of a malefactor to prison, or of a horse to the care of a groom. In law, consignment is used of the sending or transmitting of goods to a merchant or factor for sale. The person who consigns the goods is called the consignor, and the person residing at the port of delivery or elsewhere to whom the goods are to be delivered when they arrive there is called the consignee. See further Affreightment.

CONSISTORY (Lat. consistorium, literally, a standing place, hence meeting place, waiting or audience chamber), a term which, like many other expressions, has undergone a regular evolution in the course of centuries. It was first applied to the audience-chamber in which the emperors received petitions and gave judgment; it soon came to mean also the persons who took part in the deliberation, and, by an extension of meaning, a tribunal or jurisdiction (see Du Cange, Glossarium, s.v.). But the expression has now long been exclusively applied to gatherings of ecclesiastical persons for the purpose of administering justice or transacting business.

In the Western Church the episcopal consistory was simply the bishops’ tribunal, the proceedings of which took a more or less strictly judicial form. But the name has disappeared almost everywhere; the only episcopal consistories outside England (see Consistory Courts) which survive are in Austria and in certain dioceses of Bavaria and Germany (see Vering, Kirchenrecht, § 149). Thus the name consistory has come to be applied almost exclusively to meetings of the college of cardinals with the pope as president, formerly for deliberative purposes, but nowadays purely formal. These meetings used to be frequent, but are now held very seldom, taking place only three or four times a year.

The cardinals (q.v.) form the pope’s council and senate; before it became the custom to entrust the management of various kinds of business, grouped according to their nature, to commissions composed of cardinals, the pope used to consider and discuss with the whole sacred college matters of general interest or those which were specially referred to him, notably the questions submitted to him by bishops from all parts of Christendom. To this are due a good number of the decretals which have found a place in the Corpus juris canonici. In the middle ages, when the cardinals were few in number, consistories were held very often. Thus the Gesta of Innocent III. tell us that this great pope “held publicly, three times a week, according to the usage then established, a solemn consistory; in it he heard complaints from all men, and examined in person even affairs of the least importance with a prudence and perspicacity which were the admiration of all.” Later we have recorded only one consistory a week; in the 16th century, according to Cardinal De Luca, it usually took place only twice in a month; and soon the consistories were held at still greater intervals; they were held more or less regularly during the Ember weeks, but now they have no longer a fixed date.

Whatever be their form, they are nowadays merely ceremonial, the business upon which they are supposed to meet being discussed and decided previously; consequently, they are merely a kind of solemn promulgation. The preparation of the business is entrusted to the commission of cardinals known as the Consistorial Congregation.

There are three kinds of consistory: the secret consistory, in which only the cardinals take part; the public consistory, to which are admitted persons from outside and a fairly large audience; and finally, the semi-public consistory, in which the bishops present in Rome take part with the cardinals, and are allowed to state their opinion. The last form is only used in the case of the consistory preceding a canonization. The public consistory is now only held for the ceremony of conferring the hat on newly created cardinals; formerly the popes used to receive in public consistory sovereigns and certain other great persons, but in this case the consistory was not deliberative in form.

Finally, in secret consistories were discussed matters of general interest, such as the creation of cardinals, the provision of cathedral churches and other higher benefices,—hence called consistorial,—the creation, union or division of dioceses, the conferring of the pallium (q.v.), and other matters of importance. In these consistories takes place the “preconization” of bishops appointed since the last consistory. The custom is for the pope to open the meeting by a discourse, or “consistorial allocution,” in which he deals with the position of the Church, either in general or in some particular country; or again, he may denounce some danger which is threatening at the time either the faith or discipline, or protest against attacks upon the rights of the Church. Such, for example, were the allocutions of Pius IX. against the successive invasions of his temporal domain, or that of Pius X. against the breaking of the Concordat by the French government.

In the consistory, the cardinals are seated in a circle around the pope; on his right sits the chief cardinal bishop, after whom