Page 8, 11th June 1937

11th June 1937
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Page 8, 11th June 1937 — NOTES AND COMMENTS
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Locations: Windsor, St. Louis

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NOTES AND COMMENTS

Keywords: Ethics, Philosophy, Virtue, De

General Mola

The sudden death of General Mola came as a blow to sympathisers with the Nationalist cause on Spain that compares with the news during the World-War of the drowning of Kitchener. The two military leaders, indeed, had a number of characteristics in common, not least the one inspiring the kind of faith and trust which is taken for granted and only fully appreciated when its source is lost. Only last week, in reporting an interview with Miss Herbert, who has been for many months in charge of the Spanish end of the Bishops' Relief Fund, we recorded her special admiration for this general. Even those who had least affection for the Nationalist cause and were in the habit of depreciating its leaders habitually made an exception for Mola. His serious countenance, denoting the scholar and thinker rather than the adventurer, was enough to stifle foolish criticism. It has been said of him that he might easily have been a priest, and there is no doubt that he represented all that was deepest and most spiritual in the cause. He will live not only for his generalship, but for the way in which he inspired the Navarrese to rise in mass for a cause which has not a little in common with the call, four hundred years ago, of another soldier of Pamplona, Ignatius Loyola. To those who may be offended by the comparison we recommend a reading of the fine poem of Paul Claudel to the Spanish Martyrs, extracts from which, in inevitably bald English, we print on another page.

The Duke of Windsor's Marriage

It is scarcely fitting to let the Duke of Windsor's marriage go by without an expression of goodwill and sympathy with one who was our King a bare six months ago. The ostentatious boycotting of it by our inner governing circle and its refusal of even a friendly word—reflected in the columns of The Tinze.c—is difficult to justify even on the ground of political expediency unless those responsible are much less sure of their . position than we should imagine them to be. As for moral reasons, the Duke has not offended against either the law of England or the practice of the Established Church.

Whatever may be thought of the Duke's action in abdicating, he is, as a private citizen and until recently a national hero, entitled to sympathy and consideration in these capacities—to say nothing of a second career of usefulness in this country should he be disposed to return to it. Neither inner circle, nor Parliament, nor the general public have been generous.

Prison Reform

Sir Samuel Hoare's transference to the Home Office is said to have the double motive of readmitting him to the inner Cabinet and paving the way for the readmission of Mr. Winston Churchill to the Cabinet. But on his first appearance as Home Secretary he assumed the role of prison reformer and draped himself with the mantle of Great-aunt Fry.

But prison reform is not a subject for

dramatics. It may almost be called a tragic one, seeing that the thing to be reformed is practically irreformable. . Systematic long term imprisonment as a punishment for ordinary criminal offences is an invention of modern times and a very evil one. It is a far more terrible and degrading torture than many short and sharp punishments that are now classed as medieval barbarities but in reality bear witness to the sound notion that even quite severe bodily punishment may be salutary provided that the mind is respected.

The sentiment of our own day reverses this and adds that the punishment 'must not be carried on in the public view, lest the public be brutalised. It might he better if the public saw what it inflicted. As it is, an almost unthinkable barrier is erected between the criminal who is punished and the society that punishes. Prison reform behind that barrier seems something of a mockery, and fragmentary imitations of ordinary social conditions only rub in the fact that the prisoner is in fact cut off from all social realities while his home goes to ruin.

Payments for Politicians

The new scale of salaries for Ministers and M.P.s has gone through after a final protest ageainst the disproportionate incomes of the Government's lawyers. This particular protest is reasonable. Lawyers who desire high political office have no more right to be exempt from sacrificing some of their very high incomes than have business men who have to resign directorships. And if it indeed be true that few lawyers arc public-spirited enough to accept such office under those conditions, then public life is well rid of them. Governments can get all the technical advice they need from paid legal officials.

For the old principle still holds good to some extent, that money should not be made the chief attraction of positions in the Government. The practical difficulty always has been to reconcile this principle with the necessity of ensuring that the public man has enough to live on suitably, and the new scales should put this beyond doubt.

A Mirror for the Age

A number of motives, from a political desire to embarrass M. Blurn;a,Qovernment to the simple wish to make the job last as long as possible, have moved the workmen engaged on the Paris International Exhibition buildings to hold up the' work

as long as possible. As a result; • even gigantic flags draped over scaffolding could not create an illusion of completeness when the President opened the exhibition, and, though the ceremony went off with decorum, the actual start has lacked eclat.

But doubtless things will begin to move in due course and the Press will be filled with admiring accounts of the exhibits. What the public does not sufficiently rea lise is how highly selective such exhibitions really are. They present as representative of our civilisation objects that can be effectively displayed to the eye and can be 'expected to .sell freely, and practically nothing else.

It is easy to see how grotesquely such a selection would misrepresent, say, the generation of St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Louis, of the Guilds and of Salisbury Cathedral. It is one of the tragedies of our age that the public thinks, and is encouraged to think, that these exhibitions do truly represent the achievements of the present age, and is satisfied with the picture. Indeed, it hastens to conform itself to it further, for there is some truth in what Wilde used to say, that nature imitates art—in this case, the art of the shop window.

The Virtue of Patriotism

Three correspondents take us to task this week for depreciating things English in favour of things Italian and Irish. We confess that there arc few accusations which cause us to bridle more easily. Patriotism is a virtue and, like others, it cannot mean much unless it begins at home. To show, for example, sympathy with the Irish or the Spanish cause, while caring little for our own country, would be tantamount to contradicting ourselves. We can only justly admire the patriotism of others, if patriotism is a virtue which we also practise.

But patriotism is none the stronger for being blind, and if we refuse to follow the example of the greater part of the British Press in a constant and complacent contemplation of our own countenance, it is perhaps because our Catholicity enables us to examine our conscience, a practice which does not. we believe, connote a morbid hatred of self.

Rich But Honest

The fact is that the English virtues which our correspondents find to be so admirable a.s compared with the vices of foreigners are at the moment very analagous to the virtues of the rich man living among his poorer neighbours. The rich man, one notes, has a love amounting almost to a prejudice for the maintenance of the law and order which protects what he holds. He is very easily scandalised by the undignified.manners of his poorer neighbour and generally willing to lend a patronising helping hand—at a price. The rich man, however, is not always above that exceedingly clean and abstract manipulation which will result, almost without his knowing it, in the depriving his neighbours of yet a little more of their goods. though he would be exceedingly shocked by concrete and crude withdrawal by force of the loaf that will keep his neighbour alive.

Need we go on? It is easy to be rich but honest, yet the rich man's best friend will often do well to warn him that he is not really doing himself the best service either in this world or the next by admiring his own virtues and turning up his nose at his neighbours' vices.




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