Page 12, 14th February 1936

14th February 1936
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Page 12, 14th February 1936 — TERS TO THE EDITOR Our correspondents are urged to limit

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Organisations: League of Nations
Locations: Victoria, London, Gloucester


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TERS TO THE EDITOR Our correspondents are urged to limit

Keywords: Religion / Belief

their letters to 300 words; otherwise they are liable to be shortened or omitted alto

gether. Letters must bear a name and address (not necessarily for publication) or they Will be ignored.—Editor.

GERMANY AND COLONIES Su.—Ilerr Hitler's speech concerning Germany's colonies is being much misused to create an impression in the minds of the British public that we may expect Germany soon to make a forceful demand for the return of her colonies. There is a veiled suggestion behind this latest move that if and when Germany feels strong enough she will not only demand the return of her colonies, but will attempt to take them by force of arms.

Surely this is more than a mere exaggeration of the facts. It is true that Germany has from time to time made open reference to her colonies, and in this believe she is right, because her economic position—although very much improved from what it was three years ago—compels her people to be reminded of the unjust and economically stupid Treaty of Versailles, which deprived her of colonial possessions so requisite to the economic life of the German peoples living both within and without Germany proper. It is essential to the economic stability of Europe in general that the Treaty of Versailles he revised in such a way as to give to the present German people that economic and social status to which they are in full justice entitled.

It is time we of this generation realised that the Germany of to-day is also of another generation, and can in no way be held responsible for the Great War; but they can and should be given back those possessions—so hardly won and developed by their forefathers--which are their heritage by right of descent. This, I would suggests is one of our most treasured of our British traditions—the right of heritage.

It is patent to all that Germany did not provoke the challenge, but as in duty bound accepted it. The outcry about Germany's rearmament is simply a thin veneer—rhetorical for the most part—set up to hide the new-fangled Caesarism which seeks to convert the League of Nations into a kind of plebiscitary organ, of the quaintest character yet invented in our time. It would be unworthy of the great German traditions if her people were allowed to forget for one day the greatest indignity, the most arrogant usurpation to which any nation has been asked to submit.

I am convinced—and thousands of others also hold this same conviction— that until German is helped, not hindered, fully to rehabilitate herself economically there can be no stability in Europe.

(Miss) JEAN HOG.

FRANCIS THOMPSON SIR,-1 agree with so much that Mr. Turnell has written in his revaluation of Francis Thompson's poetry in your issue of February 7, that it is with extreme diffidence that 1 feel compelled to remonstrate with him in his approach to " The Hound of Heaven."

That masterpiece—for masterpiece it is— is undoubtedly overloaded with jewels and " poetic phraseology, but it is not primarily a devotional poem: it is essentially—what all poetry should be—a true interpretation of a universal, through an individual, experience. The ruthless pursuit of God and the soul's impotence in attempting escape is not merely a question of theological consideration, but a hard, perennial experience, which Thompson has admirably driven into the driving metre created by the artistic fitness of his own emotive powers.

" Arches of the years": Mr. Turnell italicises these words as failing " to convey any precise image." But they do convey such an image. So also does the " The cowled Night kneels on the Eastern sanctuary-stair" though that might have been less mannered and heavy. Personally—I may be very odd—I have always " seen the years as a series of arches, and night as kngling and cowled.

I yield to none in my normal detestation of jewelled and " poetic " verse, but, in this case, I suspect that Mr. Turnell has been slightly prejudiced by the very fact that he is a Catholic and so distrusts other Catholic critics of Thompson.

That is one of the penalties of the Fall. EGERTON CLARKE.

Sus,—Within the limits of his brief article, Mr. Turnell has said well much that badly needed saying. He has done a real service, both to your readers and to the reputation of the poet himself, by thtis resolutely clearing away much that has long formed a false ground for appreciation. It will help towards that more final estimate which we must still await if Catholic readers may be persuaded to a greater degree of realism in their approaches to Thompson's work; for it is obvious, 1 think, that it is from among Catholics alone that such an estimate must ultimately come. To this Mr. Turnell has contributed in salutary, though destructive. fashion by thus clearing the ground.

In such labours, however, one has to guard against being too much carried away by the zest of the task; it requires some watchfulness (greater space, too, than was at his disposal) to ensure that valuable material be not " heaved over among the rubbish." While there is, in truth, little that need be preserved out of those specific heaps of wreckage Mr. Turnell has left us, much care should be exercised in respect of his " chalk-marks " on those portions of the structure space forbade him to demolish. ' It is certainly going too far to reduce Thompson's claims to the compass of a single poem; and it implies a far from adequate estimate even of that to relegate it to the (necessarily) less " solid " end of the " devotional book " shelf. A thorough (and careful) selection among the whole of the poems is called for—more particularly as to the collection " Sight and Insight." It is here, I think, that Thompson's most valuable work will be found embedded — being that in which his affinities with Patmore (profounder, perhaps, and more restrained) appear most markedly.

Such a sifting should lead (with due regard to many of Mr. Turnell's strictures) to a fuller, because sounder, appreciation of Thompson's true stature as a very real, though often unequal, poet.

JOHN TRINICK. 195, Church Road, Upper Norwood, S.E.I9.

MEXICO SK—Mr. Christopher Hollis's statement that the Church in Mexico is denounced as a " European institution," brings clearly to mind a question which must occupy the thoughts of those interested in the future of Mexico, namely, will the future see a pagan or a Christian renaissance?

When we reflect upon the persecutions during our own life-time in that country can we be blamed for thinking that it is but the revealed expression of a hitherto concealed resentment against the Spanish conquest four hundred years ago?

Throughout the history of the conquest the independent spirit of the Mexican has revealed itself in many ways, and every now and again that inner feeling of pride in their heritage, with all its bloody ritual and inhuman customs, went near to overflowing. The Aztecs, Otomis and Tlascalians and others embraced the Faith and did indeed reap benefit a hundradfold, but no new happiness sufficed to blur the vision of the barbaric greatness of their hitherto independent empire.

And to-day, when we see the Faith despised and denounced as a " European institution " is it not possible to see the flowering of these long-concealed seeds of revenge?

Will the heroic work of Hernando Cortes and Father Bartolome Olmedo sink into obscurity? Or will this desperate ieaction prove to be but a prelude to the rebirth of a great nation within the safekeeping of the true Faith?

LEWIS G. BuRNAND. Standford Lodge, Bordon.

SEAN O'CASEY, A PLAY, AND SCHOOL FILMS SIR,—Why ought " Christians " to be pouring into the theatre " to see a play purporting to have " Christian propaganda embedded in it "? Why drag in religion? If the play is a good one let it be known, but if it is propaganda let it be anathema. As we do not want a pious plumber but an efficient one, so we do not want pious, but dramatic plays.

Mr. Sean O'Casey is probably a poet and been carried away by Mr. Eliot's lines.

I have been to this particular play three times—once with an actor who thought it well spoken but ineptly produced, once with a poet who liked the play hut loathed the playing, and once with an artist who couldn't sit it through. These critics were practising Catholics; not one of them was bothered by " propaganda," except to say the poet funked his theology.

My own view is that Eliot is a poet and the modern theatre, should it ever escape the usurer, will have to be reconditioned by poets, and, with all its defects, this play is so much better than any other at present to be seen that the playgoer who misses it is an ass.

In another column you inform us of the use to be made by the L.C.C. of films in schools . . . I can only regard this with horror. The drama is an art natural to the child; if it sees, at second hand, plays done by others it will lazily accept what otherwise it might actively create. There are no film productions which children could not perform themselves. The master's desk can be a mountain, a lion's den, or an altar, until the cursed film shows them a real mountain, a real den, or a real altar, which kills the imagination, atrophies the dramatic sense and leaves an insipid picture of studio reality in place of the vision upon which souls are nourished. Films do not " draw out" (educate), they fill in.

God help us!—there will soon be a super studio at Whitehall where all knowledge is put before a camera and diffused through the realm of television; no teachers or schoolmasters will be needed except to herd children into darkened halls to see the beastly stuff. It is true that the murder and robbery relayed from Hollywood will give place to uplifting scenes envisaged by the modern Mrs. Markham, that children will see tropical plants and African fauna they are not likely to have any use for, that they will hear expensive music and the folksongs of their forefathers, and it will enable us all to think alike, to see our own perfections through the eyes of our governors—but will it form character or ennoble desire or add to the richness of life?

HILARY PEPLER. 4, Horbury Crescent, London, W.11.

[We think Mr. O'Casey's point (ours certainly wag\ was that here is a good play which, in addition, has a special Christian significance, but Christians have not been attracted to it for either reason. Certainly it seems that a lot of people have been "carried away" by Mr. Eliot's lines.—Enirea•1

" CLASS-WAR" SIR,—Mr. Ernest Lashmart in your issue of February 7 misses the point of my article. Briefly it is this: Private property is a natural right. The dispossession of the peasantry was therefore contrary to nature.

A natural antagonism therefore exists between the possessors and the dispossessed. This is the "class-war "—it is a war between the owners of the means of production and the proletarians, i.e., those who own nothing but their power to labour.

Atheism is not necessary to cornmunism, i.e., it is possible to have the means of production, etc., communally owned without atheiatn; but it is not possible to have a large body of dispossessed without class-war.

Hatred of atheism comes strangely from those whose commercial rule has done more than anything else to undermine Christian principles of morality, the family, and widespread ownership of property, and whose development of the means of production has created a purely materialist attitude of mind towards labour and the products of labour. One can only regard such professed hatred as a smoke-screen behind which those who wish the capitalist world to be preserved hope to gain the support of the Christian churches.

In the same spirit of mendacity they try to make us believe that " profit-sharing spells redistribution of ownership. Nothing could be clearer than the words of one of

our leaders of industry. Mr. Percy E. Bates writing in The Titnes of January 15 rebutting the charge that the Cunard Cornpany was taking part in a futile national competition for the " blue riband " of the Atlantic says: " The sole factor in our policy has been, and .always will be, to strive to choose such a policy as in our opinion is most likely to produce dividends. It is'that consideration and no other which has produced the Queen Mary."



SIR,—Mr. Noel Purgold, in your issue of February 7, says: The actual making of objects of art has always been, and is by its very nature, a specialised job confined to a few"; the rest of his argument is vitiated by this false statement.

The truth is (it cannot be too often repeated) that the artist is not a special kind of man, but every man is a special kind of artist. This truth is obscured in our day by the growth of a factory system which reduces the worker to a sub-human condition of intellectual irresponsibility, and by the consequent pride of those workmen, painters of pictures, sculptors, musicians, etc., who are still outside the factory.

Mr. Purgold and such, knowing nothing of the history of commercialism, think that things have always been as they are at present. They do not realise that the rule of money and the dispossession of the peasantry are abnormal things. and so they think picture-galleries and museums and concert-halls are a normal part of the equipment of society. It is doubtful if anything can move them from their cornplacency; the most one can hope from them is kindness to animals.


Purgold's phrase: "numerous exemplary Catholics who are leaders of industry," is a contradiction in terms.

Pigotts, High Wycombe.

SIR,—However little blame we may lay on soldiers as a class for the existence of war, 1 feel that we can assume a war with

out soldiers to be impossible. Also we can assume the unlikelihood of industrial capitalism without industrial capitalists, and whateser benefits these good people may strive to give us with their money, and no matter how many free entertainments they may provide for our enjoyment, and however conscious they may be of a debt to the community. the point to realise is that they are still primarily supporters of industrial capitalism and only of anything else (Catholic, humanitarian or artistic) after six o'clock and over the week-ends. Recognition of debt, like patriotism, is not enough.

I do not know what Lord Nuffield or Catholic industrial magnates do when they are not working. I don't think it matters much because, whatever it is (culture perhaps?), it has little effect on what they

do when they are working. Industrial capitalism is still their profession.

I am not saying that they sin (like the workers in their factories they have probably grown incapable of that), but 1 am saying that they are the supporters of an anti-Christian principle, and that no amount of free gifts to the nation or sparetime religion can make restitution for this.

Under the system for which they are responsible everything necessary and nearly everything unnecessary is made by machinery and nothing, except sculptures and pictures and things that machinery cannot make, by man. As a result of this we have on the one hand the average man occupying a position that necessitates the surrender of his human qualities during all except his leisure hours, and on the other, the normal man—the artist—worshipped as a sort of minor god, and his works considered not as normal and good things, but as supernatural revelations of truth to be preserved in glass cases for the admiration of the average men—the sub-human ones. So Modigliani's head for a door-jamb is not on a door at all but on a stand in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The function of men in factories is as tools to the machines, for they are there not to make anything, nor even to help make anything, but to push buttons and pull levers. A tool is an implement intended to help man make something, but a man is not an implement intended to help machinery make anything—not even the money of the machine-owner, for whereas a tool is an inanimate and reasonless object, man was created by God in his own image and "endowed with reason and intellect that he might excel all the creatures of the earth and the air and the sea that are not so gifted." Here is the assertion of Christianity on the true nature of man, and if we deny this we must dispute the validity of the Crucifixion which which was for the redemption of man—this creature with both reason and intellect.

Industrialism is in existence and can only continue on the assumption that man has normally neither reason nor intellect, for the use of machinery to make everything pre-supposes the inability of man to make anything and assumes his purpose not to be union with God but ability to pull levers. As a working hypothesis his freewill is denied and his love and personal responsibility held to be matters of improbability. In fact, his work and the entire working of industrialism is an organised mass-denial of the nature of humanity, and whether we hold this to be desirable or not, whether we think it pays in the long run to have rich men who can give us Chinese exhibitions, we cannot say that it is the same thing as Christianity. We cannot deny the existence of man and accept the truth of Christianity, for without man Christianity is meaningless, and we cannot say that some men are human with a right of property both in themselves and in their goods, and that others are tools existing for the profit of their masters. Before the advent of machinery this was known as slavery, and the fact that it is now called progress does not alter its fundamental falsity as a system.

Owners may try to make amends by sponsoring popular entertainments and free cultural exercises, but in doing .so they are building up and not breaking down the system, for they are accepting the foundations as inevitable, and the foundations are wrong.

So the fact that they have enough money to be artistic or cultured, or even Christian in their spare time really means nothing.

M. W. RICH-Ey.

[This correspondence is now closed.—


PRIVATE SHOPS v. COMPANY STORES SIR,-1 am sorry that you reported Captain Balfour's speech at such length without suggesting that there is another point of view.

No " private shop " that deserves to exist is likely to fail completely if there are enough shoppers who agree that it deserves to exist. But there are any number of private shops that are dirty, inefficient to the point of annoyance, and too expensive. For real service—value for money, goods that are reliable, food that is cleanly packed, and courteous attention, one must go to the chain stores, the multiple shop and particularly to the co-operative stores.

A good argument might be offered to show that it would be for the wellbeing of the community if private traders disappeared and were replaced by co-operative stores, where the shoppers run the shops.


Muswell Hill, N. CONSCRIPTS OF MOTHERHOOD Sut,—The otherwise excellent and helpful letter from a Catholic G.P. closes with too great a simplification. Unemployment is certainly one of the enemies in the fight against birth-control; but it is fallacious to conclude, as do some layfolk and clergy, that better economic conditions and larger incomes would solve the problem. It is much more profound.

Those to-day who have comfortable homes and larger incomes actually have fewer children on the average than do poorer folk. The economic situation is a secondary thing; the primary thing is the condition of our minds. First of all we need to realise that, as Fr. Martindale says, piety and philanthropy are quite inadequate. We are using them as an easy means of dodging the main issue, which is that our outlook on life is only

10 per cent. Christian. Neither birthcontrol nor social conditions will be cured until we abandon the non-Christian scheme of values now taken for granted among us, and re-mould our minds in such a way that they naturally and habitually place in a Christian order of importance the many mental and material components of our daily lives.

In a non-Christian world the whole manner of the ordinary life of a Christian must be different: the birth-control question is only one obvious proof of it. People in the middle-classes with six children (as I have) can only obtain peace of mind by placing little value on those things which nowadays others value most, and valuing highly those things which others value least. Without revaluation the situation becomes intolerable, and birth-control inevitable. BERNARDUS.

HOMEWORK Sire—The essence of homework is not that it should be done at home, but that it should be done by the unaided efforts of the pupil.

As one who has, in the past, suffered under a system of too many lessons and too little time for personal work, may I suggest that time for homework should be provided during school-hours, thus avoiding the difficulties of study in homes where space is limited? This could easily be done by having fewer lessons. Average pupils spend most of their time day-dreaming, and it is only when they are obliged to do some work themselves that they acquire the slightest benefit. The only use of lessons is to teach the pupils how to learn. They could therefore easily be restrieted in number.


181, Gloucester Terrace, THE NEW MASS.

SIR,—Has not " Sacerdos " unduly restricted the number of days when the new votive Mass of the Priesthood of Christ may be said? While it is placed in series I of votive Masses under the heading feria quinta along with Masses of the Holy Ghost and the Blessed Sacrament, and may be substituted for the conventual Mass of the feria on certain specified Thursdays, its private celebration does not seem to be any more restricted than that a other votive Masses. February 27, however, is not one of the possible days since it falls during Lent.


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