Page:Studies of a Biographer 2.djvu/262

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STUDIES OF A BIOGRAPHER

extraordinary skill, but are chiefly directed to unmask the dexterous equivocation which enabled one wing of his antagonists who really admitted the Jansenists' position to condemn it under cover of an ambiguous term. These letters do not go into the argument itself. But Pascal presently advances to the moral problem. Then he comes to close quarters: he denounces the Jesuits with astonishing vigour as corrupters of morality at its very source; as sanctioning lying, manslaughter, and impurity; as teaching doctrines wholly opposed to the law of Christ; and briefly as deserving of all that the most bitter Protestants have ever said of the Scarlet Lady. I have no pretensions to judge of the justice of Pascal's attacks, though I cannot avoid a strong suspicion that he hit some very weak points; but for my purpose it is enough to assume his sincerity, which is beyond a doubt, and, taking his statement of facts for granted, to consider the logic of the assault. What, then, was the system attacked? The Jesuits, of course, were the most devoted adherents of the Church, and in that capacity the supporters of its system of government. The Catholic is not only a believer in certain dogmas, but a subject of a great ecclesiastical hierarchy.