Quoted from the "Preface."These pages do not undertake to frame or to resolve religious problems; they are not a treatise in Canon Law; neither will they attempt Church history in any proper sense of the word. I have called my little book a "political sketch," and in that light,
with all due courtesy, it is offered to the Home University collection. Its purpose may be stated in a sentence. I desire to explain how it is that the Twentieth of September, 1870, when I saw the Italian army enter Rome, forms a landmark in the story of Western Europe and, by consequence, in the development of modern society on both sides of the Atlantic. For, if the scene is Rome, the horizon is America. There are three terms of comparison involved — the Papacy, the Absolute State, and the American Constitution, which last, derived from England, owes its principles to the Great Charter and to Edward the Confessor. Putting these high abstract forms into the concrete, we may behold on our stage, Washington, Napoleon, and Hildebrand. Of these, Washington needs no description; he shines by his own splendour in the sky of liberty, sua se luce signal. Hildebrand, the least known to men at this hour, is by no means the least important. He stands outside my limits, but in theory and ideal he pervades the whole narrative, from Boniface VIII. to Pius IX. As for Napoleon, he is Caesar come to life again, inheriting from the Roman Empire, from Philip the Fair, and Louis XIV., his conception of untrammelled power, and from many an Italian tyrant his ambition to found a Kingdom of Italy. Napoleon first abolished the Temporal Power in
principle and in fact; he is the true author of the Venti Settembre."
"But its causes go very far back; it was already preordained as a fatal term to this unique dominion from the day of Anagni, September 7, 1303, when Colonna, the Roman Prince, and Nogaret, the French lawyer, outraged Pope Boniface on his throne — "that throne," says Lecky, "which was once the center and the archetype of the political system of Europe, the successor of Imperial Rome." Now the Pope sits like a prisoner in his Vatican over against the Italian king, who, from within the usurped chambers of the Quirinal, governs on the lines of
Napoleon's famous Code (though with some figure of a Parliament), his modern revolutionary State. The situation has lasted forty years. It is unique, dramatic, pregnant of consequences. To sum up, the Papacy was for hundreds of years suzerain over kings, and the Holy Roman Empire was its armed defender. It is now the head of a world-wide voluntary association which wields no sword but its faith, and which owes nothing to secular governments. How so remarkable a transformation came to pass, and what it means politically, is the subject I have taken in hand. It is a chapter in the history of spiritual freedom. So long as the Vatican endures, Caesarism will not have won the day."