Our correspondents are urged to limit 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 he ignored.—Eclitor.
.SIR,—May 1 express my full agreement with Miss Carter and Mr. Watkin concerning the present un-Christian war-mindedness on the part of the Italian Catholic press and clergy and my surprise at the many admirers and defenders it finds?
Whatever may be the wrongs of Abyssinia, she put herself in the right by proposing. at the beginning of the present crisis, to stand by arbitration on the whole issue and by asking for League assistance to help her towards civilisation; and, whatever the claims of Italy, she put herself in the wrong by not accepting the general arbitration proposal, by restricting arbitration to the Wal-Wal incident and by going to war after it had, by consent on both sides, been disposed of, thus breakMg the 1928 treaty, the League Covenant. and the Kellogg Pact: three treaties at a single stroke!
There is, therefore, no possible Christian or Catholic Moral or theological justification for this war of sheer aggression recognised as such not merely by the League of Nations.
Nor is this all. Italy is at present being governed according to a regime that does not allow of any independent discussion as to whether the war is just or not, in the light of Thomist principles, and practically and theoretically inculcates Stateloyalty as the supreme and only legitimate loyalty. Her regime does not admit of any freedom of press, association, meeting, and of any individual liberty, and of any inde pendent administration of justice. Her regime is most surely not in harmony with many pronouncements of Pius XI; and Italy, therefore, is a by far more sinister and efficient negation of the essential principles of Christian civilisation than Abyssinia,. whose .emperor .shows himself daily as the ablest because the only Christian among diplomats. It is, therefore. simply absurd to speak of present-day Italy having any civilisation to export and liberty to give to Abyssinian slaves!
The League of Nations is not a SuperState, and is certainly very imperfect, but is an essential part of the peace-treaties; and, as one who daily prays for the corning of the Kingdom of God from Heaven down upon earth. I rejoice in seeing. it already stronger than I expected, I rejoice in seeing such an effective British proLeague public opinion, and I cannot help thinking that public opinion will only succeed in making it effective against aggressors by turning it into a Super-State capable of curbing any national sovereignty by the use of organised international force as the instrument of international law.
Moreover. I cannot help thinking, with Kant, that peace presupposes representative government in all federated nations and that the League should have the right to see its discussions and resolutions pub lished in all the papers of the membernations. without mutilation.
Finally, what I most regret seeing in Italy is that spiritual guides instead of giving an example of autonomy against national passion should yield to it, should bless it, and should forget that Clod loves every black man not less than any white one.
"Woodend," Abbots Langley.
SIR,—I venture to doubt whether the question that you put to your readers with regard to the war in Abyssinia is realty a very helpful one. For how many enterprises in the modern world—whether political or economic—deserve to be
described as Christ-like? And in any case can we teach states to behave in a Christ-like manner by applying the big stick of economic sanctions? It is useless to shut our eyes to the fact that the modern world is not Christian either in principles or practice, and that the whole business of modern politics is run on thoroughly secular tines in a completely secular atmosphere. Whatever modern politicians may be, they are not Christlike, and if we try to make them so by force or by political or economic pressure we are doing just what you condemn in your editorial notes. " This crusading business," you write, is a governmental red herring," but it is just as much so when it calls itself a crusade for the rights of small nations as when it is made an excuse for national imperialism. No doubt in either case, this " crusading " appeal may be subjectively sincere, but the real forces which determine political action have quite a different character, and it is important that Catholics should recognise this fact and not join the secular idealists in their red herring crusades.
[Our question may not have been "helpful," but we contend that for the individual Christian the answer is important. Certainly States cannot be coerced into Christ-like behaviour, and the fascist red herring stinks no more than any other. But the complete secularism of politics does not relieve people of the duty of recognising evil deeds when they see them, whether done by fascists under cover of one "crusade" or by England under cover of another--EDITOR.] S1R,—One cannot agree with Fr. Flanagan in his contention that " higher civilisation has a right to impose itself on a lower one," What is higher civilisation? What
is there to justify any nation putting for ward such a claim? Who is to decide what makes a " higher civilisation "? Italy entered the League as did all other nations pledged to try to abolish war, and to settle things by arbitration. There was also the "Kellogg pact," this Italy was part and parcel to. She now has broken her word, dishonoured her signature, set the League at defiance, and made war on a fellow member of the League.
Abyssinians have a right to live and to
rule their country in their own way, just as has been the case of Ireland, and there
is no reason why either nation should be forced to adopt foreign ideas to suit any other nation. What right has Italy to another's land, to get raw material, or to settle her domestic problems? Once that is admitted, and is allowed to become an international principle, then no nation will be safe from others aggression. . . .
SIR,— . . . . Italians resent being lectured by those who have been pioneers in aces of aggression, and claim like those who have set the precedent that their main objects are to "civilise " and "christianise," colonising, of course, being the least
important object. Two wrongs, however, do not constitute a right. Italy is no more right at present than was England in the past.
But we have a strong penchant in this country for associating ourselves with the glorious deeds of our empire-builders, whilst we disclaim any association with their inglorious ones. It won't wash.
What has been done in the past has much to do with the present. We arc no more immune from the perpetration of infamous wrongs than Mussolini or any other adventurer who may feel strong enough to covet and to seize the territory of other peoples.
8, Pike Road, Bolton.
ITALY AND THE MISSIONS
Sta,—Sometime ago you pointed out that Italy's action in Ethiopia will probably put back the cause of Christian reunion in that country another two or three hundred years. You might also have mentioned what evil effects this. European violence is likely to have in many foreign missions. not in Africa only—already has bad in some, according to reports to hand.
It is amazing that in the year of grace 1936 Christian people should still apparently not realise that violence is
fundamentally inconsistent with the spread
of true Christianity and that it is the worst sort of " recommendation of the gospel.
Anyway, what in this regard is the result of Italy's forty-seven years of occupation of Eritrea? In a population of 405,000 there are still only 30,000 Ethiopians in communion with the Holy See.
SIR,-1 am no more competent to speak for the whole Catholic land movement than Mr. Arthur Hall, on internal evidence, is to speak against it. But my association has had a not unimportant share in the activities of the past five years. I am entitled to speak of that.
There has been no waste, whether in farming or in administration, and the fact could readily have been ascertained from our publicly audited balance-sheets by your correspondent, as they have been by the government departments.
I must make a reservation. If one of the most expensive suites of offices in Westminster is a mark either of thrift or of efficiency, we lack both. The " long and wide experience " of the Land Settlement Association has taught it only one thing—to concentrate on highly specialised cultivation and to refuse aid to a scheme based on straightforward arable farming. In this it is contradicted by the even longer and wider experience of the land division of the Ministry of Agriculture, which in its last annual report expressly indicated the losses on specialisation and praised the results of small farming approximating to our ideas. The Land Settlement Association is sixteen months old, and I should be glad to learn in what its long and wide experience consists; certainly not in the personnel of its committee.
I agree that the verbal statements of government officials are frequently sympathetic. The sympathy has in no case, over two years of sustained correspondence, extended to the written word, and
notoriously not to action. I conducted most of the correspondence, and I know.
Mr. L. W. L. M. Mason says the same as Mr. Hall in different words. He adds, strangely, that the Quakers have been putting into practice for years the principles of the popes. I am as edified as anybody by their efforts, but the popes' insistence on diffused property is not included and our insistence on it has been a capital objection to our methods in official quarters throughout. If I may say so without offence, the Quakers' approach has a further practical defect. It is advancing at the rate of an acre a year from the allotment standard. Are we to copy this?
My association is still perfectly solvent and has men solidly trained for holdings. The figures of a practical demonstration of the success of this training will be available in a few weeks. The causes of our failure are not " financial and agricultural incompetence," but financial and agricultural hatred of any real attempt to begin a yeomanry or peasantry in England.
I call upon both your correspondents either to substantiate a charge which included my association, or to withdraw it, at least in that regard.
H. ROBBINS (Hon. Secretary, Midlands Catholic Land Association). Weeford Cottage,
Hill, Sutton Coldfieid.
SIR,—Are your correspondents Messrs. Hall and Mason quite correct in attributing " the distressed condition " of Catholic land movements to sheer incompetence? Mr. Hall thinks the movement should avail itself of the opportunities offered by the Land Settlement Association. Is he unaware that the Catholic Land Federation has been attempting to find a means of doing so for a considerable time past? Mr. Mason thinks we should take a leaf out of the Quakers' book; but is the Quakers' oblective the same as that of the Catholic Land Movement? Not quite, I think. The Quakers, 1 understand, obtained a considerable grant from the Treasury on condition that a beneficiary under their scheme would have to return to his former occupation if a job was offered. There is no permanence, no real settlement in that.
Furthermore, the Catholic objective is subsistence farming by families in groups as a means towards the restoration of the
Faith in the country places. This is the declared objective as set forth in the pamphlet on The Catholic Land Movement published by the C.T.S. It is not easy to devise a scheme that will secure the assistance of public funds for such a purpose. The two things have to be kept separate, the spiritual objective of the Catholics and the material objective of the Quakers and the Land Settlement Association.
There may he inefficiency in the Catholic effort, but at worst it is the inefficiency of the few who are trying to do something. As to apathy, only those within the movement know the appalling extent of this. And not 'merely apathy but definite hostility on the part of many Catholics who are supposed to possess those qualities of " business " and " efficiency " of which your correspondents seem to think so highly.
Before Mr. Hall writes again of the " failure " of the Catholic land movement might I suggest that he should pay a visit to the Marydown farms at Elstead, where he will see what has been achieved in the way of land settlement in spite of " inefficiency," lack of experience or " business " methods, and with no government grant? There is no thought of " failure " in that group of Catholic families placed on the land in Surrey by the Marydown Farming Association.
T. W. C. CURD.
49, Limesdale Gardens, Edgware, Mdsx.
TO YOUNG WRITERS SIR,—The Catholic press might be likened, I suppose, to a branch of the "intelligence service" of the Church Militant. The recruitment is fluid enough certainly, but there are some of us who are exaessively detached units, or potential units. Mere isolation of particular writers, isolation intellectual or even geographical, can be a very gross adventitious obstacle to effective writing.
And so a number of isolated and cornparatively unknown young Catholic writers have submitted themselves to the slight discipline of a monthly contribution to a portfolio of original work, which they then circulate among themselves for criticism.
It is a fruitful little discipline: there is practice in criticism, and in adroitness of argument, and there is a little praise.
The organiser and secretary is Miss A. D. Maule, of 10, Gilbert Street, W,C.1., and she wants, of course, more members.
A. MARY JACKSON. 25, Gill Street,
SIR,—Not only is true patriotism not incompatible with loyalty to a World State, but it is practically conditioned by it. Nationalism is its enemy. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that patriotism and nationalism are mutually exclusive, and can flourish only at each other's expense.
Patriotism is not, or should not be, a blind unreasoning thing. Though it begins at home, it does not end at the frontier-posts of one's own national state. It does not regard the people on the other side of the fence as " foreigners " to be dealt with as one's own " national honour " secs fit —that is sheer Mussolini stuff.
But, alas! it seems ominously likely that another world-wide upheaval is the only thing that will convince the politicians of the world of the futility of rival national sovereignties; and then, at last, it may dawn on poor suffering humanity that a Super-state (corporative, for preference) provides the only solution to the problem of civilisation. One recollects, for instance, that Scotland as a nation gave up its sovereignty only a few generations ago. Yet who will call the Scots unpatriotic D. Bk-noate VERNE. Dew Course,
THE CHINESE EXHIBITION
SIR,—It is to the credit of the rich men who have acquired these Chinese treasures and exhibited them that they might have
spent their money far worse. At any rate, we have the opportunity of admiring them, and they have had no more.
Suppose the antique dealers do reap some benefit from the exhibition? The sale of such wares—even of imitations of them—spreads the taste for fine forms and well-chosen colours, and gives innocent joy to people surrounded by vulgarity and ugliness.
Undoubtedly many untrained members of the public have derived great pleasure from these exhibits: but why need this enrage the expert? The real tragedy of the Burlington House exhibition is that it is a public funeral of Chinese art. The old zest, the old taste and delicacy and patient application have been killed— after three thousand years of splendid achievement--by poverty and anarchy and western machine-production. Chinese art was—and is not: and Europe is taking drawing-lessons from savages and degenerates.
G. WILLOUGHBY-MEADE (author of Chinese Ghouls
and Goblins—Constable). 36, Marius Road, S.W.17.
THE DAVENPORT BROTHERS
SIR,—I am writing to correct a misstatement of fact which appeared in your issue of December 13, in which Father Thurston, after mentioning my father, the late Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, stated that the Davenport brothers " are now quite discredited."
This assertion is entirely without foundation, and numerous reputable persons were in a position to endorse the amazing powers possessed by these brothers. Those who wish to know the true and whole story of the powers and lives of these remarkable men should read chapter 10 of my father's The History of Spiritualism, volume I. DENIS P. S. CONAN DOYLE.
"C. H." Wanted
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Thanks From Canada
The Rev. J. L. Bradley, of Bishop's House, Victoria, B.C., writes to acknowledge with many grateful thanks the generous donations of several anonymous benefactors among our readers for the coast missions of western Canada.