Views of Newman and Noyes
SIR,-Yes, it is Newman who has spoken the most authoritatively on the relation of literature, as well as of science, to religion and how one welcomes an excellent letter from Dublin to say so 1 But may I. as Newman's biographer, add that Newman pointed out that as "truth is the proper subject of the intellect" so all literature that shows the grandeur and beauty of life and truth is an admirable subject of a Catholic's study: and that poetry has this haunting sense of the eternal. Surely English literature has grown richer in these great themes than the Classics were.
But the whole theme transcends any formula: and Alfred Noyes who spent most of his life as professor and critic not only showed that we get essential Catholic values urged by Voltaire, hut that Shelley, who often seemed to rebel against religious orthodoxy and certainly broke its moral laws, wrote much poetry that lifts up with wings to eternal realities. Noyes is thus an adjunct to Newman who was painfully aware that most English literature was written by Protestants. Protestants, generally knowing the Bible better than Catholics, often captured the truths and values of essential
SIR,-As a result of reading 11 short news item in your pages last April, my husband and I with two of our children, recently spent two weeks in novel and beautiful surroundings.
Those few lines in the Camoric HERALD informed us that the nuns of the Order of St. Joseph of Cluny had been presented by a non-Catholic Scottish gentleman with a large mansion in Ayrshire and were in the process of converting it into a guest house for Catholic families. As we have had some disappointing experiences with hotels in recent years, we thought that any experiment was worth trying; so, quoting your paper, we made our arrangements with the Sister Superior, We made the 12-hour journey by train-in fact, it would not cost much more to fly to Prestwick and finish the journey by train. We arrived at 9.30 in the morning at Girvan, the nearest station, prepared for almost anything from a ruin that Robert the Bruce had knocked about to a modified version of Scotland Yard.
However, our wild imaginings proved far off the mark. We were transported from the station by a vintage Rolls Royce to a large, dignified house, embedded in an avenue of tall rhododendrons, and surrounded on all sides by the Ayrshire hills.
The Sister Superior greeted us and her first visitors from London gave us a specially warm welcome. When she showed us the house we were astonished at the alterations and improvements that have been made during the last few months to equip Trochrague as an up-to-date hotel-with all mod. con.
The great difference between this and any ordinary hotel is the subtle atmosphere which penetrates the whole of the house and is undoubtedly the result of having the Convent chapel in the very heart of the building, where the Blessed Sacrament is always "at home"-close to the kitchen and dining room and to the staircase where children are always running out. to play or up to bed. Meanwhile, the nuns are quietly adapting themselves to this big undertaking and turning their enercies to the business of hotel keeping. They are already well-known in Ayrshire as a teaching order and have many guests among families of past and present pupils.
Their venture is now becoming known further afield; the first visitors from Australia and the West Indies are shortly expected. I am writing this now in gratitude for a happy holiday in "Trochrague" and to bring it once again to the notice of any of your readers who annually ask themselves: "Where shall we go this year?"
(Mrs.) Maya Tobin 19 Carew Road. W.13.
British, Romans, English
SiR' May 1, as an interested
amateur, make the following comments on Mr. Henry Edwards, and his objection to the orthodox view on the coming of the English?
When Augustine came to Kent and the Celtic missionaries to the North, they found a Teutonic people worshipping Teutonic gods (Paulinus, a convert, had been a pagan priest) and talking a Teutonic language. Let Mr. Edwards look at an Anglo-Saxon dictionary.
Archaeological evidence shows the destruction and burning of the Roman towns and villas, and the replacement on the sites (or nearby) of the Saxon "manors" from which our own towns are really descended. The very surprise which greets Roman remains shows how remote we are from the pre-Saxon civi lisation.
Finally, the Welsh, far from being friendly, joined pagan allies against their Christian neighbours on at least three occasions; the reigns of Edwin and Oswald (North); the reign of Egbert of Wessex; and as late as the time King Athelstan (Battle of Bruneburgh).
All this surely adds up to the fact that the Welsh looked on the English as strangers and intruders who had driven the British away from their native homelands. Whatever merging had taken place must have been infinitesimal.
Roger Blake 66 Faversham Road, Catford, S.E.6. Christianity.
God. as Newman wrote, has sown the seeds of truth far and wide, and a discerning Catholic mind recognises these seeds when he finds them. He instinctively accepts what goes with his religion and rejects what does not. But even so, Catholics differ, and they ought to differ: dogma does not dominate taste. My own experience is that poetry and great prose are most valuable adjuncts to theology because they always bring us back to what controversy can miss the beauty. mystery and infinity of Divine Truth, and of the omniprescence of God.
Robed Sencourt 10 Manor Road, Oxford.
sIR.--Michael Foster's second letter (August 15) was nothing to place his first in a better light.
Wesley's hymns are predominantly objective. In contradicting this claim, Mr. Foster offers no instance from the Wesleyan hymnody, but quotes two of the most ridiculous examples of feeble minded irreverence discoverable: material which has as much to do with Wesley as Mr. Yonagall has to do with Dante.
Any student of the Wesleys knows with what abhorrence those scholars and gentlemen regarded cheap doggerel. John's devastating attack upon it retains its place as a preface to our current hymn book. Your correspondent simply repeats his original offence; he sweeps up Wesley and the nonsense quoted into one rubbish heap in a manner most likely to mislead born Catholics as to the true position.
Furthermore. there is a false antithesis in his statement that Catholic worship is an objective offering and adoration, whilst Protestant worship is designed to lift up the individual mind to a greater awareness of God. Surely these ideals are complementary and only Catholic worship unites them.
Also, the really Catholic mind will unite the rest of orthodox aids to the praise of God-and as many of them as prove to be of blessing-whatever their source.
The point of distinction between a hymn and a poem, made by several correspondents, is valid; and I am ready to amend my own claim as follows: "The Wesleyan hymnody is supreme genius-as to its literary quality." Finally. Mr. Foster's assertions On present-day Methodist practice are wide of the mark. They betray his reliance upon memory; his want of contemporary experience of our ways. Emotional sermons! I wiSh we had them!
And "disrespect for some of (Methodism's) forms of worship"? Does Mr. Foster know what these forms are in 1958? They are nearer to the chaste dignity of Catholic worship than they have ever been since Wesley's death.
It is po help to the cecumenical spirit when (from both sides) Catholic and Protestant attack each other's precious things on false premises, with outdated weapons. H. Vernon Briggs c/o Llwyngwril Post Office, Merioneth, Wales.
Walsingham's 11th Centenary
V. J. Evans' letter in your columns today concerning the 11th centenary of the appearance of Our Lady at Walsingham seems to me of the greatest importance. and his suggestions concerning its celebration deserve the active support of such bodies as the Sodality of Our Lady and the Legion of Mary and all who love the Mother of God and have the welfare of the Church in England at heart.
Friends from my Anglican days often boast to me of the glories of their shrine at Walsingham over our Slipper Chapel. While rejoicing that our Protestant brethren are returning to devotion to Our Lady, and recognising that her royal intercession has secured the conversion of many of us, it should surely be a cause of shame to Catholics that England's national shrine should have been allowed to fall into non-Catholic hands.
It would seem that the Anglican Holy House is built over the foundations of the original. If this is so, it should be, not just a cause of regret, but a spur to us to raise once more in Walsingham a Catholic shrine which will he one of the glories of Christendom.
This is obviously primarily a matter for the bishop of the diocese, but where our national Marian • shrine is concerned it would be a scandal if he could not rely on the support, both material and spiritual, of all the pastors and faithful of our land.
Once England boasted the proud title of the Dowry of Mary. By reviving worthy devotion to Our Lady of Walsingham in all our churches we may yet restore substance to this title which at present is almost as empty as that of our temporal sovereign: Defensor Fidel.
W. J. Morgan 100 Stockton Road,