Here she met two men, one of whom indoctrinated her with religious mysticism,- the other with advanced socialism, Lamennais and Pierre Leroux.
In the case of Lamennais the disciple outstripped the master.
She flung herself into Lamennais's cause and wrote many unpaid articles in his organ, Le Monde, but they finally split on the questions of labour and of women's rights, and she complained that Lamennais first dragged her forwards and then abused her for going too fast.
Lamennais, then in the height of his Catholic exaltation, persuaded Comte's mother to insist on her son being married with the religious ceremony, and as the younger Madame Comte apparently did not resist, the rite was duly performed, in spite of the fact that Comte was at the time raving mad.
True, the principles of Bonald, Lemaitre, Lamennais and Lacordaire, were not carried through in the French Church without opposition; but, about the year 1850, they had become predominant there.
But between the time of Massillon and D'Aguesseau and the time of Lamennais and Joseph de Maistre the class of men of whom in England Berkeley, Butler and Johnson were representatives did not exist in France.
In a somewhat similar fashion, Lamennais (in the first stage of his speculations, represented by the Essai sur l'indiference en matiere religieuse, 1817-18 21) endeavoured to destroy all rational certitude in order to establish the principle of authority; and the same profound distrust of the power of the natural reason to-arrive at truth is exemplified (though the allegation has been denied by the author) in Cardinal Newman.
He also entered into relations with the well-known French Liberal Catholic Lamennais, whose views on the reconciliation of the Roman Catholic Church with the principles of modern society had aroused much suspicion in Ultramontane circles.
In 1832 Lamennais, with his friends Lacordaire and Montalembert, visited Germany, and obtained considerable sympathy in their attempts to bring about a modification of the Roman Catholic attitude to modern problems. Dbllinger seems to have regarded favourably the removal, by the Bavarian government, in 1841, of Professor Kaiser from his chair, because he had taught the infallibility of the pope.
In 1863 he invited loo theologians to meet at Malines and discuss the question which Lamennais and Lacordaire had prematurely raised in France, namely, the attitude that should be assumed by the Roman Catholic Church towards modern ideas.
By Felicite de Lamennais, Paris, 1809; Eng.
Even in 1892 Spiiller, in his essay upon Lamennais, pointed out how the latest evolution of Catholicism was taking the course indicated by Lamennais in his Livre du peuple (1837), and how the hermit of " La Chenaie," who departed this life in bitter strife with Rome, declared himself to be the actual precursor of modern Christian Socialism.
To comprehend these views aright, we must first remember that what in the first half of the 19th century, and also in the days of Lamennais, was understood by Democracy was not coincident with the meaning of this expression as it was afterwards used, and as the Christian Socialists understood it.
His chief successes were attained by portraits, and those of Charles Nodier and the Abbe Lamennais became widely popular.
He was the friend and correspondent of many foreigners of distinction, among whom may be named Dellinger, Lamennais, Montalembert and Napoleon III.
Meanwhile Lamennais had published his Essai sur l'Indiference, - a passionate plea for Christianity and in particular for Roman Catholicism as necessary for the social progress of mankind.
He was called from it to co-operate with Lamennais in the editorship of L'Avenir, a journal established to advocate the union of the democratic principle with ultramontanism.
These reverses Lacordaire accepted with quiet dignity; but they brought his relationship with Lamennais to a close.
"A free Church in a free State " became the motto of the group of brilliant men, led by Lamennais, Montalembert and Lacordaire, who started up as soon as the July Revolution of 1830 replaced Charles X.
These writers, however, only touched the few; and the great aim of Lamennais and his friends was to reach the mass of the people.
In 1832 the Avenir was condemned, and the disgusted Lamennais left the Roman Church.
Already in 1884 he had warned the French clergy against meddling in royalist intrigues; in 1892 he issued a much more stringent exhortation to French Catholics to rally to the Republic. An idea got abroad that he was looking to the time when the old dream of Lamennais and Gioberti might become a reality, and Italy would split up into a number of republics, amongst which the temporal power of the pope might find a place.
These books do not display the apocalyptic style which, partly borrowed from Lamennais, characterizes Michelet's later works, but they contain in miniature almost the whole of his curious ethicopolitico-theological creed - a mixture of sentimentalism, communism, and anti-sacerdotalism, supported by the most eccentric arguments, but urged with a great deal of eloquence.