"BAD FOR THE BREWERS"
Father Thcobold Mathew. By the Rev. Patrick Rogers. (Browne and Nolan, Dublin, 10s. 6d.) Reviewed bs DONALD ATTWATER
AMONG the strange aberrations too often found among Catholics in England is an apparent indifference to the evils caused by the excessive drinking of intoxicating liquors and by addiction to gambline. So keen have we beco on maintaining the abstract truth (in the face of exaggeration on the other side) that neither " drinking " nor gambling is wrong in itself, that many of us have fallen into the opposite exaggeration. One literary group especially has been vociferous in its contempt tor teetotalism, and has allowed its high spirits and good-fellowship to give occasion for the sneer (or lest) that d beerdrinking is a fifth mark of the Church." Very silly. And, like so many silly things, mischievous. This sort of nonsense has done harm to the reputatien of Catholicism in this dountry: and it has done harm to Catholics. We should do well to reflect what Cardinal Manning would have thought and the above book is a useful reminder that he was not ' the only outstanding Catholic advocate of " total abstinence " in the nineteenth century.
THEOBALD Mathew was born of a distinguished Welsh-Irish family at Thomastown in 1790; he joined the Capuchin Franciscan friars in 1808; he was ordained priest in 1813. Missionary work in Cork impressed on him the ravages wrought by drunkenness, and in 1838, urged thereto by both Protestants and Catholics. he became first president of the new Cork Total Abstinence Society. For the following fifteen years, in Ireland. England, Scotland and America. Fr. Mathew was one of the most famous and effective advocates of total absthie•nce that the movement has ever
known. His influence and his preaching were instrumental in the taking of the pledge by tens of thousands of people, Catholics, Protestants and neither as tte Irishman said, " Father Mathew did great harm, very great harni—to the brewers."
It may be difficult for us to realise the difficulties that beset him: after all, a centuty ago teetotalism was a new phenomenon anywhere. And we now base in Dr. Rogers' book a handy but complete account of Father Mathews life and work that supersedes the hitherto standard but deficient biography written by J. F. Maguire in 1863, and supplements Frank Mathews (1890). It is excellently written, well documented from contemporary and other sources that make a bibliography of six pages. An introduction of a dozen pages by Bishop David Mathew gives an extremely interesting picture of his great kinsman's family background at Thome,stown.
TS book must be recommended, not only to those concerned in the ° social apostolate " in all its fornts, but equally to the general reader as well.