Page 6, 31st March 1939

31st March 1939
Page 6
Page 6, 31st March 1939 — CARDINAL GASQUET Dorn Morey's Defence

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Locations: Exeter, Cambridge


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CARDINAL GASQUET Dorn Morey's Defence

SIR,—Dom Morey rightly implies that I am not an expert in historical matters. But does that make much difference in the present discussion? The point I made regarding Cardinal Gasquet was not one that involved special knowledge or research. Dom Morey, I notice, is rather vague in his reply to it. Perhaps the following questions will help to clarify the position.

1. Does Dom Morey deny that Mr Ogle in 1901 and Dr. Coulton in 1905 made it quite plain that the thirteen errors in the Prologue of Hun's Bible were also in the Prologue of Forshall and Madden?

2. Does he deny that the Cardinal knew this when he republished in 1908 his statement that the errors were not in Forshall and Madden?

3. Does he question the fact that the matter was brought again and again to the Cardinal's notice—most notably at the Cambridge Biblical Congress in 1921 when the Chtm-h Times appealed to him to clear up the question—and that, in spite of this, he never withdrew his error?

If his answer to the above questions is "No," how can he deny the truth of Dr. Coulton's charge that the Cardinal republished and maintained to the day of his death an important statement of fact which he must have known to be untrue? n may be that a peccadillo of this kind does not dim the Cardinal's reputation as an historian and controversialist. Dom Morey seems to be of that opinion. It is for your readers to judge whether his opinion is justified.

I do not agree with Dom Morey's view that Dr. Coulton's pamphlets resemble those of the Protestant Alliance. His view seems to me to conflict with his statement that " friends of the Cardinal quarrel more with the manner than with the matter " of Dr. Coulton's pamphlets. Jour; V. SimCox (Rev.).

Dom Morey and Fr. Thurston

SIR,—May I enter an emphatic protest against Dam Morey's attitude towards a scholar much older than himself, and no 'less orthodox? From my experience of Dom Morey'a two years in my class at Cambridge, and from a certain amount of reading in his magnum opus, side by side with the very careful review by an able medievalist in the current number of Speculum (pp. 120-22), I feel that he has no right to treat Fr. Sicacox de haat en bas, Dom Morey did thoroughly deserve his First Class in the History Tripes; and he may very well be, as you advertise, " one of the most brilliant among the younger Benedictine monks "; but those facts do not carry us far enough here. The Speculum, reviewer, giving full chapter and verse for his criticisms, characterises his Bartholomew of Exeter as "neither exhaustive nor of consistently good quality." It is " a mosaic of quotations"; " two sections of the book . . . Must be strongly criticised "; "multiple confusion "; and so on for two pages. Your readers, therefore, must not be deceived by Fr. Slmcox's unassuming modesty and Dom Morey's magisterial attitude, into imagining a contest here between ripe historical scholarship and amateurish superficiality. The epochmaking thesis of Descartes is as true in history as in philosophy, that the first and foremost requisite for finding the truth is a downright resolve to get at such truth as may be within the reach of our own intellect, In my experience, Fr. Simcox is a most honest and penetrating critic.

He wrote to me first some years ago, as a perfect stranger, to question some of my assertions; and I owe to him more valuable corrections, almost, than to any of my Protestant correspondents.

In this particular matter his instinct leads him straight to that main and allimportant fact which is practically Ignored throughout Dom Morey's two columns : namely, that initial blunders are seldom of absolutely vital Importance. In the classic words of a departed Master of Trinity, " We are none of us infallible : not even the youngest Fellow." What really stamps a man or an institution is impenitence in face of plain error. Abbot (afterwards Cardinal) Gasquet was publicly called upon by others than myself to explain what seemed so inexplicable in his literary methods.

• His silence was perhaps the principal reason why Cambridge offered no honorary degrees to him and Cardinal Bourne when they came here in 1921. The Tablet on that occasion (July 16) devoted more than five columns to my public accusation. The Editor wrote : "Among the Catholic writers whom (Dr. Coulton) attacks are Cardinal Gasquet, whose historical veracity he attacks in unmeasured language," and Pope, Barry, Janssen, Knox, and Belloc. Fr. Thurston in his three-column article, attacked me on other points, but made no attempt to defend Gasquet, though he rebuked me for attacking so exalted a personage. The Cardinal himself kept silently away from the opening meeting, at which it was known that I should ask leave to speak.

Though I renewed my challenge with a publicity and persistence which earned me much personal abuse, no Roman Catholic controversialist dared for thirty years to enter into a full and open discussion of this problem. The first was Fr. Thurston in last December's Month, though it was scarcely a year since he had written me a letter which was far from implying belief in Gasquet's innocence, and though he chose now a journal in which he knew no adversary would be allowed to reply.

Now, at last, Dom Morey comes forward under conditions which may lead to an orderly discussion of this mysterious affair: but he inexplicably manages to avoid the one crucial point. Even the apparently valuable testimonial which he quotes from Professor Boltzmann will not bear examination. Holtzmann is a fine scholar, but this is not familiar ground to him, and his assertion that Gasquet was a pioneer in his Henry VW and the English Moncisterie4, is not accurate.

Creighton, in his review of the book, pointed out that it contained little of primary importance which had not already been brought out by the AngloCatholic R. W. Dixon in his History of the Church of England. But Dixon's work was voluminous and comparatively dull in style, and his widow was crippled by the printer's bill for a book which

made no general appeal to any large and powerful party. Any reader who takes seriously the profession of historical faith which Dom Morey, in conclusion, quotes from Gasquet, should consult the annotated copy of his Collectanea AngloPremonstratensica in the library of the Institute of Historical Research. I have there marked in red ink, and another reader in some other colour, a mass of blunders, memo ignorant but some very unfavourable to any belief In his literary integrity.

Turning now to Fr. Thurston's letter, I an glad to practise what I have preached. My phrase " professed to reprint" is not strictly true, and exaggerates the extent to which he actually garbled our correspondence.

It would be far truer to write "made a great show of reprinting," Readers may find on pp. 10-20 of ray Raman Catholic and Anglican Accuracy my protest against his proposal of printing only such parts of our correspondence as suited his own purpose; a protest which he cynically ignored.

On re 16 comes the first of my letters suppressed in his reprint: The second sentence of that letter runs: "The following (Six) assertions or suggestions (in Fr. Thurston's letter) are inaccurate; yet without them his argument falls to pieces." He now begs your readers to compare his own booklet with my corn plete reprint in the pamphlet; and It gladly reinforce that request. To any reader who sends lid, instead of id. for the extra postage, before the end of April, I will send gratis not only my own pamphlet but Fr. Thurston's booklet, bought in the open market. Not keeping a car, I ca.n afford these lithe eccentricities in the service of what seems to me the truth.

But I must seize this opportunity for another acknowledgment of error. In my Bible and the Reformation (pp. 33-34), I have carelessly repeated an assertion which Fr. Thurston had corrected in his Tablet article of 1921. I had accused Janssen of so neglecting this Bible question that it filled only twoand-a-quarter pages in his enormous history, whereas Fr. Thurston showed that I had omitted to notice some seventeen more pages, most of which occur only in the seventh volume, out of their natural place. I at once acknowledged this correction in The Tablet of July 30, and on p. 91 of my second edition. By a lapse of memory for which I must apologise and atone by a correc

tion slip, I have reprinted the uncorrected version on pp. 33-34 of my new booklet.

G. G. Comerole.


P.S.—I must apologise for the length of this letter, and thank you for your courtesy in granting so much space to a discussion where the details may be difficult for many of your readers to follow. I will therefore stand out henceforth unless (quod absit) personal misstatements are again made against me. But to a good many people this question seems worthy of quite full and open discussion. Therefore, if Dorn Morey or Fr. Thurston or Dr. Bird will continue it with me through the post, / hereby undertake to print at my own expense, and send gratis to any reader who asks for it, every word that may thus be written on either side, whether the final result be in my favour or to my dieadvantage.

Charges Unanswered

Site—Will you allow me, as one who has been following the Gasquet controversy in your columns, to express my profound disappointment at Dom Adrian Morey's reply to Dr. Simcox?

The point at issue, as I understand it, Is this: that Cardinal Gasquet built up a certain theory on facts which were shown to be erroneous. In spite of this, he continued to republish his works embodying the theory, without ever attempting an answer or explanation to his critics. Further, Catholic scholars since his day have gone on repeating and using his theory for apologetic purposes, while steadfastly refusing to meet the serious and now wellestablished denial of the facts on which the theory is based.

The conclusions from this, if it were true, would be very serious, and hence we were looking forward to Dom Morey's reply. But what do we find? He tells us he does not intend " to enter on a discussion " nor to " pronounce on rival views "; he quotes authorities to show that the Cardinal was held in high esteem—which no one questions; admits that it was perhaps unwise to republish when he was so far removed from his former historical studies, and assures us that the quarrel is more with " the manner than with the matter " of Mr Coulton's pamphlets.

Finally, and it is depressing to find such a note in an article by a priest and a scholar, he sneers at Dr. Simcox's lack of experience of "the labours of historical research." This is indeed cold comfort for your readers. Dr. Simcox has with the utmost charity and objectivity been asking precisely that some of those who " have experienced the labours of historical research" should come forward and answer the grave charges brought against Cardinal Gasquet and most Catholic writers since his time; charges repeated in a thousand books, pamphlets and letters, charges which have raised a serious question in the mind of many honest priests and laymen who have "no experience of the labours of historical research." The Only answer now made to the charge that the Cardinal and his successors have persistently relied on disproven facts to support their theory, is that Dom Morey cannot " pronounce on rival views," together with a Parthian shot in the form of personal abuse,

Meanwhile, Dr. Coulton's charges remain unanswered, and many Of us " with no experience, etc. . . . " are unwillingly coming to suspect the reason why.



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