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Father Brown thinks not. 'Booksellers and publishers will naturally continue to push such books, because it is their business to do so, and the public will continue to buy them because it has ordinarily no other means of knowing their contents than the publisher's announcement, the title, or -the cover. A Guide would, therefore, surely shirk an important portion of its task if it excluded worthless books, and thereby failed to put readers on their guard.'
The chief object in Father Brown's notes to the books is to help the student of things Irish. A certain amount of criticism is needed. It is given truthfully, fearlessly, concisely. A clear idea of the books is given, an appreciation or characterization also. All this is needed from a Catholic as well as from a national and historical point of view. How many of our modern Irish play-writers and novelists have seen their subjects from within or have lived in them? How many are like Kickham' of warm, tender, homely heart-a man born and bred one of the people about whom he writes?' In his Knocknagow there is realism of the best kind. He shows the closest observation of human nature and of individual peculiarities. His discriptions are full of exquisite humour and pathos, his details of peasant life quite photographic in fidelity. He knew thoroughly and loved intensely his own place and people. He realized and sympathized with the emotions and ideals of the Irish soul, could laugh or cry with his characters. Put him beside Lefanu, Lever, Lover, Morgan, “Rita,' Thackeray, Carleton, etc. The comparison is odious. In these we find rank bigotry poking fun at priests and people, bad taste, coarseness, perversion of facts, imperfect qualification, sometimes incompetency to write of Irish affairs and characters. Many of them knew only one class of peasants well-servants and retainers, and knew them only in relation to their masters. Many of them create a wrong impression by pretending that their characters are typical of the average peasant. Many of them wrote to amuse readers, not to depict Irish life, or to depict it with an eye on what the English reader would expect it to be. No doubt some of them, such as Carleton, have written some of the noblest and purest stories in our literature, some of the most complete and authentic pictures of peasant life, some of the best historical Irish novels. The question is, do we want humorous, romantic, ideal, or realistic novels? Do we want a mere story or do we look for truth in character and setting? Do we want a Canon Sheehan or a 'Gerald O'Donovan,'a Katharine Tynan or a 'Rita,' a Kickham or a Lever, a Brian O'Higgins or a James Stephens, a Father Fitzgerald or a Carleton, a Lennox Robinson or a Lady Gregory, a Gerald Griffin or a Samuel Lover ?
We shall find material for answering those questions in the notes to the books in Ireland in Fiction. We shall find there the defects, the merits, the peculiarities, the eccentricities, the competence, the incompetence, the prejudice, the sincerity, the vulgarity, the moral tone, the ignorance the insight of the authors. If you wish to know the true and the false portrayers of Irish history, life, character and soul, to give a present or a prize of a book in school or out of it, stock a shop or a library in school, college or parish, if you wish to lecture on or to write Irish fiction, you will find in
this Guide all the information necessary. You have a complete (as far as space goes), a clear, unprejudiced, account of over 1,700 books.
We cannot praise too highly the gigantic work of Father Brown. We cannot over-estimate its importance, It is a masterpiece of patience, prudence, erudition and skill. It is an encyclopaedia of Irish literature. There are few writers of note included in the Guide about whose works he cannot speak from first-hand knowledge. He has had the co-operation of learned and loyal friends in his work of genius. He has laid the basis of a history of Anglo-Irish literature. The future writers of Irish fiction will bless the labours and learning of Father Brown.
A PATRIOT PRIEST. By Rev. D. Riordan, C.C. Dublin : M. H. Gill
and Son. TAE subject of this excellent little work is Father Casey, parish priest of Abbeyfeale, who died in 1907. The author describes the character of the man and the stirring times in which he moved as a prominent figure. No doubt many such books might be written of similar great priestly figures of the time, but they have not been written, and Father Riordan has done useful work in sketching the career of this stalwart Irish priest and patriot.
To the young generation of Irishmen who have received a liberal education in well-equipped schools and colleges, to the young men who peacefully enjoy and work on their own farms, this little book will be an inspiration and also a reminder of the trials and of the miseries of their grandfathers in middle of the 19th century, in their fight for education, religion, and land. The book is, in fact, a miniature history of Ireland of that time. We are introduced to the very beginnings of the Land League, of which Father Casey was one of the first and strongest promoters. We get a graphic description of the servility of the tenants, hat in hand, appearing before the all-powerful and tyrannical land-agent. But Father Casey taught his people self-respect, self-reliance, and independence. The appearance of the tenants, hat on head, before the agent seemed a sacrilege to the latter, but was the symbol of the new order introduced by Father Casey The sad story of the numerous evictions, of the miseries of the people, and the superhuman efforts of Father Casey to provide huts and temperance hall, to organize amusements, are all sympathetically and faithfully described. We get a glimpse into the generous, strong, yet boyish personality of the devoted pastor. He was a model priest, both as curate and as parish priest. His life-work is a monument of what one earnest, sympathetic, and patriotic priest can do. He never ceased to blend religion with sound social work as the remedy for all our national ills. For forty years he laboured to uplift his people and to make them true children of God and of Country. He was a pioneer of the language movement and strove to impress on his people the truth of the maxim, No language-no country.'
The author shows intimate acquaintance with the conditions of Ireland in the fifties, and with the whole question of land tenure and with the various Acts passed for the benefit of the tenants. The whole treatment of the subject is really good and instructive, full of useful and interesting historical matter. One incident of an eviction on the farm of one of Father Casey's parishioners is so described that it agrees in every particular with an Irish drama, 'The Eviction,' that long ago, as a boy, we were thrilled by. We really think that the dramatist must have been acquainted with the evictions on the O'Grady Estate.
The author has done justice to a good priest and a valiant Irishman. He has written a very readable story in graceful, easy style. He has made the present generation acquainted with a state of things which it is well to remember, and he displays a spirit that is correct and just and that is inspired with true patriotic ideals.
FATHER MATURIN: A MEMOIR WITH SELECTED LETTERS. By Maisie
Ward. London: Longmans, Green & Co. The importance of Father Maturin's conversion to Catholicism ranks next to that of Cardinal Newman and of Cardinal Manning. It is therefore but fitting that some account of his life and work should be given to the Catholic world. His life was rather a hidden one. The materials, then, for a biography are rather scant. They have been supplied by information given by friends and by the letters he wrote to those seeking his counsel in religious matters. From these Miss Ward has compiled the beautiful book before us. She has accomplished a great and laborious task and deserves a full measure of praise and thanks for her learned and sympathetic Memoir. She weaves into the Memoir any letters of biographical interest left by Father Maturin, and thus gives us an insight into the genial, saintly, and lovable character of this accomplished parson and priest. She analyses also his philosophy of faith, the key-note of which was' to build up rather than pull down.' That note resounds in his books, sermons, and letters. “The shreds and tatters of truth already grasped must cover the soul's nakedness as it clothes itself in the new garment.'
Father Maturin’s life was one of intense religious interest. As a parson in England he felt the distractions of society, and longed for the seclusion of the Cowley Convent, which early in his career he entered. Even there his counsel in religious matters was eagerly sought by his friends. During his missionary career in America he established himself as a great preacher, and won over thousands to Anglicanism. Yet for ten years before his conversion his life was one of mental torture. He longed to take the plunge but the nearer he came to the brink the more exasperating became the torture and the doubts. He always considered himself as belonging to Rome. 'In coming to Rome,' he said, 'I felt that I simply translated myself to where I belonged. I believe practically what I have always believed, with the addition of the divine authority of the Papacy.
That kept me back for a long time.'
When he came over he was fifty years of age, and yet he tells us he felt perfectly at home. Many converts had told him of their sense of
loneliness and of their being shocked at Italian religious customs. His reply was always severe and straight, pointing out the defects in their faith. “I have got to love Rome more and more,' he wrote, and the Italian ways --when they are devout I think their ways of public devotions are the ideal ways; there is a lack of self-consciousness and an abandonment impossible to reserved and self-conscious English people. There is a completeness of conviction all around one that is contagious. I think one has but to cross the threshold and enter to find conviction pour in through every sense and faculty. I have found in Rore all that the heart can desire.' It was his warm Celtic temperament that drew him to the homely religious ways of the Romans.
After his ordination in Rome, at the age of 53, he returned to London and did missionary work, especially by preaching missions throughout the diocese. The Diocesan Missionary Society had been recently established by Cardinal Vaughan. Then as the preaching of missions, etc., began to tell on his health he was given the position of college chaplain to Oxford. This gave him great opportunities of coming into contact with the material that he was at home with. He used them well and profitably. But the war put a speedy end to his welcome work. Oxford became deserted, He was invited to America to preach the Lenten Course, and on returning to England he went down in the ill-fated Lusitania, sacrificing himself for his brethren, May 7, 1915, in his 68th year.
The second and greater part of Miss Ward's book consists of Father Maturin's letters on religious questions. It is in these that we see really the manner of man he was. They are grouped, not chronologically, but according to the subject-matter. The dates are given but not the names of the persons addressed. They are witnesses to a rare depth of thought, vigour of mind, and force of conviction. Many of them were written when he was a Cowley Father. His experience of society and his study of men, joined to a rare psychological insight and depth of human sympathy, made him a useful instrument for good. The number of conversions he made by his letters and interviews God alone knows. He was always ready to write, but readier to grant interviews, so as to speak heart to heart. He could enter into the situation immediately. His own painful experience had made him a sympathetic listener and a skilful guide. He was not a controversialist or a proselytiser. He strongly condemned all haste. He emphasized, as a Cowley Father, that conversion to Christianity did not mean adherence to the Anglican Church, but that Rome also had her claims, and insisted that loss of faith in the Anglican Church did not necessarily mean faith in the Roman Church. His insistence on essentials and fundamentals was always correct and thorough. His letters on the validity of Anglican Orders are most interesting, coming especially from one who was so much affected by it, and who was wrongly suspected of leanings to the Anglican claim.
Father Maturin held strong views about the movement towards the Catholic Church in England. He boldly told Cardinal Vaughan that he, the Cardinal, was the chief obstacle that kept the people back, as he had seemed in his public utterances to cast doubt on their good faith, and to set up a
line of intransigeance that only served to hurt them unnecessarily and prevent them from drawing nearer to the Church. Of the High Church position in particular the view of the two men was diametrically opposed, the Cardinal regarding it a dangerous and specious substitute keeping men back from the Church, Father Maturin looking on it as a teacher of Catholic truth educating them gradually to receive the fullness of truth in the Church.
The book is one that will appeal to various classes of readers—to his own friends and admirers, who will get a fuller and welcome insight into his lovable and straightforward personality, and to all seekers after the True Church, who will find the sympathetic and safe guidance of one who underwent the same agonies of soul and who after years of conflict and in the autumn of his life could say, 'I have found in Rome all that the heart can desire.' The ordinary reader will find it interesting and instructive reading on many points, and cannot but be edified by the nobility, sincerity, and spirituality of soul of a great son of Ireland who became a great asset to the Catholic Church.
BOOKS, Etc., RECEIVED America : A Catholic Review (March). The Ecclesiastical Review (March). U.S.A. The Rosary Magazine (March). Somerset, Ohio. The Catholic World (March). New York. The Austral Light (February). Melbourne. The Irish Monthly (March). Dublin : M. H. Gill & Son, Ltd. The Catholic Bulletin (March). Dublin : M. H. Gill & Son, Ltd. The Month (March). London: Longmans. Revue Pratique d'Apologétique (March). Paris : Beauchesne. Revue du Clergé Frangais (March). Paris : Letouzey et Ané. Revue des Jeunes (March). Paris : 3 Rue de Luynes. The Fortnightly Review (March). St. Louis, Mo. The Lamp (March). Garrison, N.Y. La Documentation Catholique (March). Paris : 5 Rue Bayard. The Dublin Review (April-June). London: Burns, Oates & Washbourne. Gregorianum (Vol. i. Fag. 1). Roma : Pontif. Universita Gregoriana.
The Annals of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (March-April). Cork : Sacred Heart College.
Missionary Record of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Dublin : Brindley and Sons.
Our Boys (Vol. vi. No. 9). Dublin : Eason & Sons.
A Garland of Our Lady. By A Member of the Urguline Community, Sligo. London: Burns, Oates & Washbourne.