Revisited: Hilaire Belloc’s Belinda: A Tale of Affection in Youth and Age (1928)

Santiago de Compostela Cathedral (Pixabay)

Dr. Robert Hickson

25 July 2022

Saint James the Greater (Santiago)

[The Author’s Additional Note Is Presented Here on 25 July 2022, Which Is Some Three Years Later Than the Original 29 June 2019 Text. The current note is also on the Liturgical Feast that honors Saint James the Greater, as well as Saint Christopher.

[During the years 2019-2022 our daughter and our son have grown in maturity and energy; and they are yet still receptive to good and enduring Classics as well as distinctly worthy Catholic Literature, such as The Betrothed of Alessandro Manzoni. I would include Hilaire Belloc’s Belinda: A Tale of Affection in Youth and Age (1928, 1929). For example, it was the first time recently (2022) that my gifted German wife completely heard Belinda being read aloud to her, slowly and gratefully savored. (I read aloud from an illustrated 1929 text as published in London and New York by the Harper & Brother Publishers, on 188 small pages of the main text of the Tale.)

[My wife and I both now hope that Isabella Maria will soon read Belinda again, and thus to consider more fully its variety and its purity and its chivalric nobility, to do it now more slowly and thus more deeply to be henceforth intimately cherished. So too is our hope and purposiveness with our son, Robert Richard, who is now eleven years of age, and soon to be almost twelve years old. Isabella Maria, moreover, is herself now fourteen years old, somewhat restive as she is more than half-way to her fifteenth birthday. May Belinda be (or become) an External Channel of Grace to the Little Ones, and even a Sacramental for both their mother and their father. Yes, indeed, a purifying Sacramental.

[We shall now present below a representative selection of Hilaire Belloc’s inimitable Tale of Deep and Sincere and Varied Affections, in the Youth and in the Aged, as first published in 2019.]

[RDH, 25 July 2022–Feast of James the Greater]

Hilaire Belloc’s Belinda: A Tale of Affection in Youth and Age (1928)

Dr. Robert Hickson                                                                                                29 June 2019

The Feast of Saint Peter and Saint Paul

Hilaire Belloc’s Arrival Afoot in Rome (in 1901)

Epigraph

“’I have told you,’ he [Sir Robert Montgomery, Belinda’s father,] said, that ‘I know—I understand—the affections of youth….I married late: you have a father too much advanced in years for your opening life. Your mother, who is now a saint in Heaven, you never knew. But I myself, long before your age [now eighteen], had among my companions one to whom the deepest of human affections was far, far from unknown.’” (Hilaire Belloc, Belinda: A Tale of Affection in Youth and Age (Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire: Loreto Publication, 2014—a re-print of the 1928 First Edition), page 31—my emphasis added)

***

“Such, gentle reader, were the loves of Belinda and Horatio; tried as by fire, torn asunder, rejoined, they attained at last to wedded felicity under an ancestral roof, until, after the brief accidents of this our mortality, they were united forever in Paradise.” (Hilaire Belloc, Belinda: A Tale of Affection in Youth and Age, page 130)

***

Over the last few weeks, my wife and I have eagerly attempted to introduce our daughter (11) once again to some unmistakably challenging examples of excellent literature: such as Alessandro Manzoni’s 1840 historical novel of the early seventeenth century, The Betrothed (I Promessi Sposi). We are now gratefully reading that book aloud together—along with our young son (8)—especially some of the extended central passages of that eloquent and memorable novel—with my wife herself now expressively and adroitly doing the reading. We are doing this, in part, so as to prepare an excited Isabella for her own reading soon of the entire demanding 500-page novel, now from the beginning.

Moreover, I have also thought that Isabella would thereby then be ready to read another, but shorter (130-page), nineteenth-century historical novel of purity (with its frequently gracious and expressed affections, as well as with some passionate robustness and youthfulness and vividly “chivalrous daring”). That is to say, Hilaire Belloc’ own cherished 1928 novel, Belinda: A Tale of Affection in Youth and Age.1

Hilaire Belloc especially cherished this carefully constructed and nuanced romantic tale; a tale of protective and attentive affection and the fidelity of faithful memory. (He had slowly composed and refined his gradually forming novel for some five years, between 1923 and 1928, and only then did he consent to publish his completed text.)

Set in England and France, the resultant Tale of Affection now tells us, in large part, about a young man of twenty-three and a young woman of eighteen, two neighbors who, having a common boundary between their spacious properties, had once been childhood playmates. But this Horatio and Belinda have just discovered in their unexpected outdoor meeting something deeper and more enduring. Something that touches and soon profoundly affects their faithfully plighted hearts.

However, this developing bond and its likely fuller maturation unto marriage displeases several persons, some of them in Belinda’s own family (to include her father) and some of them truly vulnerable men and already in deep debt and deceitful suitors of Belinda, such as Sir Henry Portly of Molcombe Abbey (43) and his intrusively malicious litigious agent, such as sly Lawyer Fox of Bath.

Because of certain customary limitations and strict prohibitions made by Belinda’s father, Sir Robert Montgomery, which were to be applied while he is to be away from Wiltshire for two important weeks in London, Belinda and Horatio are thwarted. They are not permitted to be with each other, but they could only write letters to each other. However, and fatefully, these four actually written letters of deep affection were intentionally blocked from their delivery—because of the malicious interdiction of a complicit lonely spinster woman.

Leaving Belinda, Horatio first goes apart from home on horseback, thinking that Belinda herself has rejected him and his sincere love. He intends to go permanently abroad to the main continent of Europe (to France at first). However, as it turns out, Horatio shows, now as a wandering pauper in France, much more of his virtuous moral character. With “chivalrous daring,” he even rescues from a gang of robbers by night a distinguished noble French woman who originally had come from England many years ago. Because he had been wounded in the rescue, he was taken by the widowed Marquise to her nearby Château and it was proposed to him, quite firmly, to remain there himself until he had fully healed. (The widow’s name, we gradually discover, was Esmeralda de la Ferronnière and she had been in retirement since about 1824, the year of death of the French King, Louis XVIII, when her own husband, the Marquis, also died.)

Not long after Horatio’s nighttime escorted arrival at the Château, Sir Robert Montgomery himself, along with Belinda and their whole entourage, came to seek a rescue themselves, after one of their three carriages (especially a smaller chaise) broke down and gravely wounded their lead horse.

When Robert Montgomery heard from one of the servants the spoken name of the Marquise of the Château, he was stunned. Thus began many memories from his own youth and his germinating affections, as well. This helped him better understand Belinda’s own plighted heart and “long fidelity,” as well as her special sufferings recently (which was why her father decided to take her on a refreshing tour to continental Europe). Self-knowledge grew and was expressed—though sometimes with restraint—also to the once-beloved and still cherished Marquise de la Ferronnière herself, who had her own cherished memories of deep affection and Robert’s own “long fidelity” (116).

Most movingly, Horatio and Belinda met again and understood the belatedly revealed reasons for their earlier and painful misperceptions of each other, especially as to why their own very affectionate love-letters were not received and then reciprocated. The honorable character of Horatio grew in the eyes of Sir Robert and Esmeralda, as well as of Belinda—and that much-tested young couple was now at last permitted to marry there in France. Belinda and Horatio prepared for their wedding and soon were bound in sacred matrimony by Reverend John Atkins, their accompanying Anglican vicar and Belinda’s own tutor, especially in intimate matters of religion. Then would soon come the return to England of the whole extended company, to include Marquise Esmerelda herself, where she would dwell for long portions of the year. For, the two Wiltshire estates of Halston and Marsden would now “eventually unite in their common patronage the two livings” (129) and then invite a beloved friend and companion of long ago to dwell there, even permanently, but in a companionship of fittingly gracious, respectful purity and thus “without peril.” (125).

In an earlier passage, Belloc—or rather the Narrator—deftly reveals part of the novel’s fertile theme:

They err who pretend that the years, though they may obscure, can eliminate a primal passion. The soul is immortal. If once it suffer the imprint of that one emotion [love] which links time with eternity, the imperishable mark remains. The flood will return in full, unconquerable might, provoked by a tone, a scent, a glance, a name. This man [Sir Robert Montgomery], so far advanced in the business of living, already conscious of the grave, had suffered a resurrection from the dead. He had heard the name of Ferronnière…. He heard a voice, he rose and trembled, the great doors were ceremoniously opened, and the woman appeared. (114)

Let us also briefly try to present the comparable courtesy and purity of youth, now that we have hopefully been touched by the gracious conduct and sentiments of Sir Robert and his affectionate companion of long ago, Marquise Esmeralda. We shall introduce the unexpected meeting of Belinda and Horatio out of doors, each of them walking near or along a stream that forms part of the boundary between their own individual family estates. First, we consider Belloc’s presentation of the awakening and subsequent wandering walk afield of Belinda “close on noon” (13):

She woke, indeed, to the day and place, yet these were changed as though now infused with wonder….So, dreaming in full wakefulness, the girl…wandered under the high sun across the lawn…toward a dense wood of pines; there she proposed to rest awhile in the shade, and commune with a little brook which eddied clear under a plank thrown across its waters, and ran with a happy murmur to join the Avon near at hand. The stream formed part of the boundary…and…[she] turned her feet toward that spot….

Upon the farther bank, in the neighbouring park from which the stream divided her, a sandy slope…led up by a narrow path…to a great grove which hid the old and ruinous house of Halston beyond [i.e., Horatio’s home]. Thence, at the same hour, with high noon past, and the more powerful sun distilling every savour from grass and leaf and earth, Horatio sauntered out, bound no whither, filled with the power of summer which grew to harvest all around….The grove summoned him to its recesses; he received the influence of the great beeches and their shade as though the half darkness were alive. He came out into the further blinding light, and the sound of the stream below beckoned him insensibly down the path to the water between the wealths of fern.

She saw him as he came through the bracken, with active carriage, with uplifted face. It seemed to her that there was something there inspired; and her imagination put courage and adventure into his advance, as though he were setting out on a quest. He turned a corner of the path to cross the rustic bridge, and was aware of one [who is] scarcely known yet deeply known, whose airy figure among the solemn pines arrested all his being. When he had approached and discovered her face, it was not the familiar feature of a friend, but Radiance personate. In him, for her, [there] approached a god.

The moment was magical. It was as though some music had transformed the world….But in the heart of the high wood a Presence, shining in a shaft of light, triumphantly let fly the arrow from the bow. (13-16—my emphasis added)

To appreciate more fully the personal qualities and religious-philosophical orientation of Belloc’s chosen Narrator of this Tale of Affection, we may now consider the way he is presented to us at the outset, especially on the first two pages. We may thereby notice what is there, but also what is not there—such as the absence of the Catholic Faith and of a fair presentation of earlier Catholic History:

Within the [Anglican] parish, and adjoining the village, of Marlden, in a stately mansion known as The Towers, whose ample lawn sweeps down in smooth luxuriance to the pellucid waters of the Avon, resided a gentleman respected throughout the County of Wiltshire as Sir Robert Montgomery….

The baronet (for such was his rank) enjoyed the esteem of his equals, the respectful affection of his inferiors, and the devotion of an only daughter, an only child, upon whom her mother (long dead) had bestowed the pleasing name of Belinda.

That devotion of the widowed father repaid with a particular and careful attention, the dignity of which could hardly veil his deep, his doting fondness. No expense was spared in providing Belinda’s earliest years with a solid grounding in the rudiments of polite learning, while, as her girlhood blossomed into riper charms, a further selection of instructors drawn from both sexes perfected her in Italian, French, the art of painting in water-colours, every department of deportment, and the pianoforte.

Thus did Belinda Montgomery, as she entered her eighteenth year, unite every refinement of culture to beauty of an entrancing mould; a mind naturally apt and generous, trained to its fullest powers, informed a frame of surpassing grace, and the whole was inspired by a soul wherein had been firmly planted the precepts of our sublime religion. (1-2—my emphasis added)

We may now wonder about the meaning of the “our” in “our sublime religion.” (2) Who is it, for example, who largely conducted Belinda’s own formative religious education?

We shall fittingly now meet at least one of her teachers, “the Reverend John Atkins,” (2) who will also be the one who later marries Belinda and Horatio. But the Narrator presents now the matter of Belinda’s deeper religious formation:

To this last and awful matter the good vicar of the parish, the Reverend John Atkins, had applied himself with constant zeal. His living (of which Sir Robert was patron) did not so completely engross his time as to forbid him the hours required for the young lady’s spiritual education: nor were the emoluments of such a task ungrateful to one whose humble needs were but narrowly met by the tithe and glebe of the parish.

Under such guidance Belinda grasped in turn the nature and attributes of her Creator, the scheme of the Atonement, the promise of a blessed Heaven, the menace of a dreadful Hell, the original institution of Episcopacy; and the errors of Rome upon the one hand, of dissent upon the otherThe Book of Common Prayer was her constant companion, and on the richly inlaid table of her private boudoir lay open, for daily consultation, the Holy Bible. (2—my emphasis added)

Near the end of Belloc’s presented Tale, we see not only some of the more comic elements in Reverend Atkins’ beliefs and words and professional conduct; but also some of his deeply warm affection and good-hearted sentimentalism:

In the room which had been set aside for the chapel of the [marriage] ceremony,… the household was assembled, the Reverend Mr. Atkins vested and prepared. He had required, he had demanded, he had obtained, a glass of port wine and a biscuit, which was his invariable custom to consume before a Celebration, in protest against the Romish novelties of certain [Anglican] colleagues. As, with practiced intonation, he recited the profound phrases of the Marriage Service, the Marquise, who had missed for so long the beautiful Liturgy of her youth, was deeply moved; while old Fanchette, the only French domestic not a Papist and, therefore, privileged to attend, was equally affected by the sacred scene, though, being ignorant of the English tongue (a Huguenot [Calvinist] from the Vaudois), she could do no more than reverently follow the rhythms of the sacred office.

Averse though he was to the extempore usage of the Caledonian Communion [the Scotttish, and perhaps Calvinist Rite?], Mr. Atkins did not forbear to add at the end of his ministration a short but heartfelt prayer of his own for the young people [Belinda and Horatio] who would eventually unite in their combined patronage the two livings of Halston and Marlden. Tears stood in the eyes of the good old man as he alluded with a native delicacy to the possibility of offspring. Himself a celibate,…the more pathetically did he extend both hands in benediction over the bowed heads of the kneeling couple, while his uplifted eyes sought Heaven in a prayer for their fruitful happiness. (129-130—my emphasis added)

CODA

The reader of this tale of affection and purity will also gratefully find many memorable displays of Hilaire Belloc’s capacious versatility and depictions of lapses of true and chivalrous nobility. For example: Sir Robert Montgomery’s unexpected outburst and eloquent diatribe against the perceived character of Horatio Maltravers and his lineage (25); the presentation on the debt bondage of certain gentry and the cold manipulations of the financial oligarchs (to include the looting of the monasteries, both historically and now) (41-46); Horatio’s hospitable welcome at an inn and the special gift of his horse, Crusader (66-71); the voyage by ship from Dover to France (71-72); the Marquise’s rescue (78).

In the presence of his daughter Belinda, Sir Robert Montgomery passionately rejected her own choice, demeaned her beloved, and had an astonishing outburst at last, full of Shakespearean invective:

“Horatio!” he thundered. “Horatio Maltravers? A beggar’s brat, disreputably dragged up by a hermit? A pauper? A young wastrel? An out-at-elbows fellow, a scrap and rag-bag, a rotten Oxford coxcomb all curls and debts, a miserable futility.” (25)

On high finance and debt bondage and desperate (often immoral) attempts to become unsnarled:

This lamentable situation [of progressive and often compound interest and resultant “debt bondage”] had risen from an action only too common upon the part of the gentry. Sir Henry’s father [Sir Orlando Portly] had the fatal imprudence to speculate on ‘Change [sic—the Financial Exchange]….

The rumor spread by Herr Amschel—later and better known as Baron de Rothschild—that the glory of Britain had set on the field of Waterloo [fought on Sunday, 18 June 1815], had led Sir Orlando…to sell…in the hope of reaping an immense profit when all should be acquainted with the fatal truth [the purported loss of victory]. He [Sir Orlando] had not allowed for the business acumen of the great banker. For Amschel-Rothschild had secretly procured the news of victory in advance of all, and had had the admirable foresight to spread accounts of defeat for the better preparation of the market.

It was upon these accounts that Sir Orlando [Portly] had [disastrously] speculated in London, confident in the ruin of our cause. (42-43—my bold emphasis added; italics in the original)

Horatio’s necessary stopover at an inn in Dover, en route to France, because of the rough seas:

The landlord, standing at the door to welcome a guest [Horatio] whose distinguished bearing he had justly appreciated at his approach, bowed low to receive him, and asked him what service he might render.

“Let my horse [Crusader],” answered the gentleman dismounting, “be led to his stable, whither I will accompany the groom to see that all is in order: the saddle and its bags carefully lodged aside, the creature’s coat well rubbed down, a rug provided, and an ample feed of good oats—for a man’s first duty is to his mount. Next I will ask for a simple meal with a bottle of your best, and that disposed, I will beg a word with you.”….

“I would be brief. You have seen me accompany to his stall my best friend….Take, take I pray you, this steed of mine—the final object of my domestic affections—for I depart from England, and for ever! He is worthy of your acceptance….you will give him the home I desire….With you he will be secure from the sloth, the folly, the cruelty of bad horse-masters….I leave him in good hands. I ask no more….I go abroad for long, for long indeed. If you will harbour my gallant, my faithful Crusader, it is upon me that the boon is conferred.”

He was silent.

“Sir,” replied the host, in deep tones of ill-concealed emotion. “I shall keep him not as a gift, but as a trust, until I have the honour and pleasure of seeing your face again. (69-70—my emphasis added)

Then came Horatio’s journey by ship to France in the heavy storm:

Within a few minutes [out of the protective haven] the winds embraced her in full violence….The waves rose mountains high as the shore receded into the murk….The Captain (whose name was Beaver) affirmed, with rough sea-oaths, that in all his 317 crossings of the Channel he had never known so fearful a hurricane, and in the thickness of the flying scud the white sea-walls of England [of the cliffs of Dover] turned ghostly as though leagues away, (71-72—my emphasis added)

Then came Horatio’s answer to a question the Marquise Esmerelda posed to him after he had rescued her from night-robbers in France, a question as to his “destination”:

“Destination,” he answered, “I have none. I am a wanderer, self-exiled from the home of my childhood. I seek but the next hostelry [inn], thence to continue through the world my trackless and lonely way.”

“Nay,” said she decidedly, in that clear voice to which its mere hint of a French habit added a subtle charm, “then our course is plain. You must accompany me to my Château, which is near at hand, and there remain till you are healed of your wound. I will take no denial. That you are a gentleman your idiom, your gait, your accoutrement assure me. That you are the bravest of the brave [especially with your openly “Chivalric Daring” (81)] (she concluded, with an assuring glance) you have yourself proved.” (78—my emphasis added)

–Finis–

© 2019 Robert D. Hickson

1See Hilaire Belloc, Belinda: A Tale of Affection in Youth and Age (Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire: Loreto Publications, 2014—a re-print of the 1928 first edition). The first edition, as published in England in 1928, was published in London by Constable & Co. LTD. The American First Edition was published in New York and London by Harper & Brothers in 1929, and that edition additionally contains eight Illustrations. All future references, however, will be to the 2014 re-print text by Loreto Publications, and the references will placed above in parentheses in the main body of this essay.

Maurice Baring’s Elegiac Presentation of The Lonely Lady of Dulwich

Dr. Robert Hickson

3 June 2022

Saint Clotilde (d. 545)

West Point Graduation 58 Years Ago (Class of 1964)

Maurice Baring on the Mystery of Mortal Beauty and the Supreme Sacrifice:

The Lonely Lady of Dulwich(1934)

Epigraphs

***

“She was beautiful, in spite of looking listless and pale at the moment. Yes, she was beautiful, more than beautiful, he thought, and he wondered why she was so particularly beautiful; and he wondered for the millionth time at the mystery of mortal beauty.” (Maurice Baring, The Lonely Lady of Dulwich, 1934), (New York: Alfred A. Knopf), page 25, chapter three—my bold emphasis added.)

***

“The opportunity had come to her [Zita] at last to make just such a sacrifice as she was longing to make—the supreme sacrifice. Yes, she would face all the consequences, even if it meant leaving Robert [her mixed marriage and longstanding sacramental husband]. It would prove [sic] to Walter [Price] how much she loved him.” (Maurice Baring, The Lonely Lady of Dulwich, 1934, page 130—my bold emphasis added,)

***

“The Harmers [Robert and Zita] were to start on Wednesday, and on the Sunday morning Zita went to Mass at Saint Philippe du Roule. Zita was not, or had not been, until now, a religious woman. She [as a Catholic] was just pratiquante: that is to say, she went to Mass on Sundays and abstained on Fridays. She fulfilled her Easter duties. But that was all.

“The church was crowded and stuffy. Zita was a prey to distractions until a Dominican got into the pulpit and began to preach. She found it was impossible not to listen to him, although she tried. He was eloquent and forcible, and he seemed to be speaking to her personally and individually, as if he was aware of her personal difficulties and secret thoughts. He pointed out among other things how necessary it was that the individual should cheerfully accept sacrifice for the good of the community. The Church might seem hard on the individual; the hardness must be faced and accepted. He [the Dominican] had spoken, too, of the danger of illicit love [as with the efect of “Queen Guinevere” (page 136), given her own betrayal of King Arthur]. Zita listened to this eloquence unmoved. His words applied to her.” (Maurice Baring, The Lonely Lady of Dulwich, 1934—pages 75-76—my bold emphasis added.)

***

“Walter Price [the journalist] had christened her [Zita as] Queen Guinevere because one day she [Zita] had said to him: ‘Robert’s name is Arthur as well as Robert, but he can’t bear the name, and he can’t bear being called Arthur, even in fun,’ and Walter had said: ‘That’s because he doesn’t want you to be Guinevere.’” (Maurice Baring, The Lonely Lady of Dulwich, 1934—page 136—my emphasis added.)

***

One of Maurice Baring’s distinctive and recurrent talents in prose and verse—especially about his fallen comrades and close friends in war—is his heartfelt presentation of dignified elegy, not just of tragedy. His writing vividly conveys in small ways an elegiac atmosphere, also with his subtle tones.

In this brief essay about Baring’s short 1934 novel—The Lonely Lady of Dulwich—we may poignantly and gradually follow much of the life and sorrows of Zita, a Catholic woman and her mixed marriage and her resultant yearnings and their grave consequences, after she had lost, through death, her only child soon after birth.

This essay invites a willing reader to enter into the sorrows and indifferent negligence, or nonchalance, of this haunting woman with her enduringly beautiful (but insufficient) ways. We shall thereby likely come to consider more closely and more fully the meaning and the purposes of “mortal beauty.” We hope that the sequential hints already given above in the Epigraphs will have also already stirred a sincere and searching reader—fostering the desire to acquire and to savor this little novel of much elegiac import.

The novel is a portrait of an increasingly lonely lady, a portrait that is both musical and picturesque, as well as literary. After having been raised for five years in a Catholic convent, Zita as a young woman had to face the impoverishment of her mother due to the somewhat irresponsible way of living of her adventurous and robust father who then had suddenly died. Zita was the youngest of three beautiful sisters. More out of convenience than out of love, she married a wealthy man, Robert Harmer, with whom she then lived for some decades as a couple, living the life of an upper class family in England, traveling and vacationing and enjoying varied entertainments.

She is a formal Catholic, following the Church’s daily precepts with regard to the life of a Catholic. Yet, at the same time, her life seemed not so touched by Grace. While living with her husband in Paris, she is touched by the attentiveness of a poet, Jean, who tried to convince her to go to Algeria with him and leave her husband. Even after hearing at Mass a piercing homily by a Dominican priest, her heart, however, seems not to turn away from her adulterous plan; merely her husband’s urging her to implement what he surmised was her plan made her alter her plans at the last moment.

When she later more deeply fell in love with a younger journalist, Walter Price, she was willing to reveal to him her past history and love story with the now-deceased, but famous poet, only to make, in her eyes, a seemingly “supreme sacrifice” for Price (who then was already secretly engaged to a different and younger woman). Price published then his candid story about her disloyal past that destroyed her current life, with her husband sending her away without a word, never to speak with her or even see her again. Two years later, he died, and she was a widow. This beautiful lady wound up living her last twenty or thirty years alone in the village of Dulwich outside of London.

The way Maurice Baring presents the larger, often implicit, story of Zita, the tones and enduring mysteries are important. Often they are even evocative of the sacraments and of the sacred. It sometimes alluringly included what was also essentially missing. That is to say, what G.K. Chesterton had profoundly called “The Presence of Absence.”

–Finis–

© 2022 Robert D. Hickson

A Sequence of Formative and Cumulative Insights

Dr. Robert Hickson

5 April 2022

Saint Vincent Ferrer O.P. (d. 1419)

Blessed Juliana of Mount Cornillon (d. 1258)

Epigraphs

***

“What then is this Sloth which can merit the extremity of divine punishment? St. Thomas’s answer is both comforting and surprising: tristitia de bono spirituali, sadness in the face of spiritual good. Man is made for joy in the love of God, a love which he expresses in service. If he deliberately turns away from that joy, he is denying the purpose of his existence. The malice of Sloth lies not merely in the neglect of duty (though that can be a symptom of it) but in the refusal of joy. It is allied to despair.” (Evelyn Waugh, “Sloth,” from The Essays, Articles, and Reviews of Evelyn Waugh, page 573.)

***

“Courage can only come from love, and from unselfishness.” (Maurice Baring, The Coat Without Seam, page 88.)

***

“Turgenev,” said Yakovlev, “says that man is either a Hamlet or a Don Quixote. You are a Don Quixote, only you have none of the Spaniard’s kindness and humility. If you are a Don Quixote you should be chivalrous.” (Maurice Baring, The Coat Without Seam, page 225.)

***

“Your ideas [said Yakovlev to Christopher] spring from rage and are spurred by reaction and so may easily turn to sourness instead of balm. And the essence of sacrifice is balm.” (Maurice Baring, The Coat Without Seam, page 128.)

***

“One has to accept sorrow for it to be of any healing power, and that is the most difficult thing in the world.”

“I didn’t think about it in that way. I don’t think I rebelled against it, because I thought my father was happier dead and at peace, than alive and in pain; but I was just stunned. Apart from that, I have not experienced real sorrow; only disappointment and disillusion.”

“A priest once said to me, ‘When you understand what accepted sorrow means, you will understand everything. It is the secret of life.’” (Maurice Baring, Darby and Joan, p. 178)

***

“In the Mass of Paul VI, there is an attenuation of Sacrificium, Sacramentum, and Sacerdotium.” (Arnaud de Lassus’ humble and faithful, private personal words to me, during his visit from France in the 1970s.)

***

“The Gift of Final Perseverance is a “Great Gift” – a “Magnum Donum.” (Council of Trent)

***

Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam!” – The Jesuit Motto. (Father John A. Hardon, S.J. always accented the COMPARATIVE “Maiorem” – one must always try to give MORE.)

***

While recently preparing to be with a gifted young Catholic Priest and Confessor, I unexpectedly recalled – as I was serenely waiting – some varied insights from which I have cumulatively benefited down the years, both from personal bonds and from good literature. May our readers come to intertwine the meaning of these varied presentations above, as if they were a counterpoint, together with the following comments.

We propose therefore to conclude with two examples: one a Lutheran German once a 1939 exile to the U.S. (Dr. Fritz Kraemer, d. 2003); and an American Jesuit scholar (Father John A. Hardon, S. J., d. 2000).

  1. Fritz Kraemer on his strongly accented concept and perceived practice of “PROVOCATIVE WEAKNESS” whereby someone is so weak – in the Church or State or Culture – that he is “thereby provocative to others.” This concept still has many formidable applications!
  2. Father Hardon: “What we have is Nature; what we need is Grace….We are only as courageous as we are convinced. But what are we truly convinced of?”

–Finis–

© 2022 Robert D. Hickson

Quixote at Oxford: Maurice Baring’s Literary Insights into Foreign Literatures

Dr. Robert Hickson

24 February 2022

Saint Matthias

Epigraphs

***

The man who has the rooms opposite mine [at Balliol College, Oxford University] is a Spaniard. A nobleman very cultivated and amiable. His name is Quixote. Consulted him last night as to what to do about Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Quixote said it was entirely a point of honour.” (Hamlet the Dane’s own words taken from his Lost Diary, as presented by Maurice Baring in his 1913 collection, Lost Diaries (London: Duckworth & CO., 1913), page 213—my emphasis added—(The entire entry of Hamlet’s “Lost Diary” will be found on pages 206-215, which is the last presented piece in the book.)

***

“Yes, but you know I think great men, very great men, are never bitter—men like Goethe and Shakespeare.” (Maurice Baring, The Coat Without Seam (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1929), page 59—my emphasis added.)

***

Shakespeare understood everything. Especially young people. I always think someone must have been unkind to him. He talks so painfully of ingratitude, but although he is sad and tragic he is never bitter, he is sweet. He is like Beethoven. Out of his great sadness there comes a fountain of joy.” (Maurice Baring, The Coat Without Seam , page 50—my emphasis added.)

***

Turgenev,” said Yakovlev [the Russian teacher and mentor of Christopher Trevenen], “says that man is either a Hamlet or a Don Quixote. You are a Don Quixote, only you have none of the Spaniard’s kindness and humility. If you are a Don Quixote you should be chivalrous.” (Maurice Baring, The Coat Without Seam, page 225—my emphasis added.)

***

This brief essay intends to counterpoise two of Maurice Baring’s own sustained literary efforts—one of them in 1913 and one of them in 1929 after the Great War—namely, first an extended parody of variously imagined Lost Diary Entries from different points of history; and then an Historical Novel about varied temporal and sacred matters, to include various moral purifications from disappointed loves.

Moreover, Hamlet and Don Quixote, especially at two points, are vividly presented together and thus thereby become for us even more distinctive and contrasting characters. The contrast clarifies the mind, especially by way of Baring’s unusual contrasts and magnanimously designed ironies.

Let us resume with Yakovlev’s earlier words to Christopher Trevenen and his growing maturity:

“Turgenev [the Russian author]…says that man is either a Hamlet or a Don Quixote. You are a Don Quixote, only you have none of the Spaniard’s kindness and humility. If you are a Don Quixote you should be chivalrous.”

“Don Quixote, fortunately for him, was mad.”

“He was very sane too.”

“You mean that I am neither mad nor sane?”

“Neither mad, nor sane enough.

“I will try and improve,” said Christopher, and he laughed.

“For a person who is steeped in oriental literature, it is surprising how little of the oriental serenity you have assimilated.”

“I suppose it is my Irish blood.”

“Yes, but I should have thought that would have been tempered by your mother’s common-sense.”

“That is because I am neither one thing nor the other; an exile everywhere.”

“We are all of us exiles,” said Yakovlev, “one must carry one’s country with one. The Kingdom of Heaven is within.”

“Yes, for those who have found it.” (Maurice Baring, The Coat Without Seam (1929),1 pages 225-226)

Before Hamlet records his sudden meeting with Quixote at Oxford, and before this visiting Danish Prince only partly then comes to accept what the chivalrous Spaniard had advised in honour, Prince Hamlet had—in bold script—entitled his own overall selective reflections, with these words:

From the Diary of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, during his Stay at England, whither he was Sent to Study at the University at Oxford, under the Special Care of Polonius. (206)

(In Shakespeare’s dark tragedy, Hamlet, Polonius is the father of Laertes and of Ophilia; moreover, after Polonius himself was later accidentally killed by Hamlet, the desire for vengeance was more widely stirred and spreading, all of which the magnanimity of Maurice Baring has attempted to mollify and mitigate in his Lost Diary.)

An earlier entry of Prince Hamlet’s Balliol Diary reads as follows:

Went to Abingdon for the day. When I came back I found that havoc had been made of my rooms [likely done by Rosencrantz and Guildenstern?]: both the [musical] virginals broken to pieces—all the furniture destroyed, and all my pictures including a signed portrait of Ophilia [his beloved].

Have my suspicions as to who has done this. Shall first make certain and then retaliate terribly. In the meantime it will be polite to conceal my annoyance. (207)

Then toward the conclusion of his diary-entry, Hamlet resourcefully and honouably says:

Friday. –Must really settle this business of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern [those Danes on a mission] soon. It is beginning to prey upon my mind. They are quite insufferable….Fencing match [against Cambridge University] is to take place next week, here [at Oxford University].

Saturday.–The man who has the rooms opposite mine is a Spaniard. A nobleman very cultivated and amiable. His name is Quixote. Consulted him last night as to what to do about Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Quixote said it was entirely a point of honour. That if I were certain they were guilty, and certain likewise that they had purposely insulted me, I should challenge them each, separately, to personal combat, with sword and rapier. I pointed out, however, that whereas I was a champion swordsman, and indeed had been chosen to represent the University, they had no skill at all. Moreover, I considered that to challenge them to fight would be doing them too much honour. Quixote said I must indubitably take action of some kind, or else I would incur the suspicion of cowardice. (213-214)

Then “at that moment” came a stealthy surprise, as was to be seen from their open window:

I [Hamlet] saw in the darkness, walking stealthily along the wall a man whom I took to be Guildenstern. Seizing a bottle of white wine from Xeres with which Quixote had entertained me, I flung it out of the window on to the head of the skulker, but alas! It was not Guildenstern but the [College] Dean himself! (214)

Soon there came some acute and partly comic consequences:

Monday.– [I] Again appeared before a [Balliol] College meeting. Accused of having wantonly wounded, and almost murdered the Dean. Protested my innocence in vain. It was further suggested I was intoxicated. Lost my temper, which was a mistake, and called the Dean a villain, losing control over my epithets.

Sent down [expelled] for the rest of the [academic] term. Polonius is very angry. He has written to my father [King Hamlet the true king, not uncle Claudius the usurper] suggesting that I should not go back to Oxford, nor seek to enter Cambridge either, but to go to Wittenberg instead [where “Mr. Faustus”—Faust—occultly dwells and teaches]. Owing to my abrupt departure the fencing match with Laertes [Polonius’s son] will not come off. No matter, a day will come, when maybe I shall be revenged on Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. We go to London to-day. (214-215—Finis)

Once again Maurice Baring transposes with subtlety and modest charm a well-known and deftly interwoven literary text, or fragment. In this case, it was the fuller-developed tragedy of Hamlet.

May this deft parody lead us to re-read and more adequately to appreciate the intimate tragedy with its accompanying burdens of revenge.

May we also now better appreciate the clarifying counterpoise of those vivid characters of Prince Hamlet of Denmark and Don Quixote of La Mancha.

–Finis–

© 2022 Robert D. Hickson

1Maurice Baring, The Coat Without Seam (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1929). All further references are to this text, and are placed above in the main body of this brief essay for convenience. See also the earlier 1913 text: Maurice Baring, Lost Diaries (London: Duckworth & CO., 1913). Page references are in parentheses above in main body of the essay.

The Gift Comes First: An Insight of Josef Pieper

Dr. Robert Hickson

2 February 2022

Feast of Candlemas

The Presentation of Jesus and the Purification of Mary

Anthony S. Fraser (b. Candlemas1949 – d. 28 August 2014)

Epigraphs

***

To my dear friend, Bob, in our common loyalty to the Holy Faith. Gratefully, Bro. Francis, M.I.C.M.” (This inscription was to Dr. Maluf’s own very fine 2000 book, COSMOLOGY: Philosophia Perennis Volume III, which has an invited Introduction by Dr. Robert Hickson, U.S. Air Force Academy, 9 January 2000, as found on pages xxi-xxvii.)

***

“The inmost significance of the exaggerated value which is set upon hard work appears to be this: man seems to mistrust everything that is effortless; he can only enjoy, with good conscience, what he has acquired with toil and trouble; he refuses to have anything as a gift.” (Josef Pieper, Leisure the Basis of Culture, with an Introduction by T.S. Eliot (New York: Pantheon Books, Inc., 1952, 1963), citation at and to pages 32-33).

***

When Brother Francis Maluf and I first met together in the mid-1990s in Richmond, New Hampshire at the Saint Benedict Center, he glowed with a rooted admiration for Professor Josef Pieper. (When I told Brother Francis Maluf that I had known Dr. Pieper personally since 1974—and about how we met memorably in Spain and long afterwards—Dr. Maluf (b. 19 July 1913 – d. 5 September 2009) was then even very happy! Josef Pieper was to die on 6 November 1997, having been born on 4 May 1904.)

Therefore, when I was later invited to write an Introduction to Dr. Maluf’s book, Cosmology, I selected one of Dr. Pieper’s own profound passages—with his allusions to St. Thomas Aquinas—and one which Brother Francis has also so fittingly cherished:

We have only to think for a moment how much this Christian understanding of life depends upon the exercise of “Grace”; let us recall that the Holy Spirit of God is Himself called a “gift” in a special sense; that the great teachers of Christianity say that the premise of God’s justice is His love; that everything gained and everything claimed follows upon something given, and comes after something gratuitous and unearned; that in the beginning there is always a gift – we have only to think of all this for a moment in order to see what a chasm separates the tradition of the Christian West and that other view. (p. 33 of the second of two Epigraphs above; and the second page on the COSMOLOGY-Introduction, p. xxii.)

We may now better see and savor our need (and our life) of Gratitude. As in Eucharistia.

–Finis–

© 2022 Robert D. Hickson

Two Emperors in Trouble and a Mother’s Prayer for Her Groping Son

Dr. Robert Hickson

6 January 2022

Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord

Two Emperors in Trouble and a Mother’s Prayer for Her Groping Son:

Evelyn Waugh’s 1950 Presentation of Saint Helena’s Deepening Faith and Eloquence

Epigraphs

***

“’I know I am human. In fact I often feel [says Constantine himself to his Empress Mother as the reigning Emperor; and, moreover, still “an unbaptized convert” (138)] that I am the only real human….And that’s not pleasant at all, I can assure you. Do you understand at all, mother?

‘Oh, yes, perfectly.’

‘What is it, then?’

Power without Grace,’ said Helena [the future Saint Helena].

‘Now you are going to start nagging about baptism again.’

‘Sometimes,’ Helena continued, ‘I have a terrible dream of the future. Not now, but presently, people may forget their loyalty to their kings and emperors and take power for themselves. Instead of letting one victim bear this frightful curse [of just and sustained ruling] they will take it all on themselves each one of them. Think of the misery of a whole world possessed of Power without Grace.’…

‘We talked of it years ago….I have always remembered your words [,Constantine]. You said: ‘If I wish to live, I must determine to rule.’ ‘

‘And that is true today.’ [said her son, Emperor Constantine]

But, not without Grace, Constantine.’

Baptism. It always comes back to that in the end. Well, I’m going to be baptized, never fear. But not yet. In my own time. I’ve got other things to do before that…. [even though he was still “one indeed who was not yet formally admitted as a catechumen”! (138)]….’”

(Evelyn Waugh, Helena (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1950), pages 185-186—my bold emphasis added; italics in the original.)

***

In the inmost cell of the foetid termitary of power, Diocletian [the Emperor Diocletian] was consumed by huge boredom and sickly turned towards his childhood’s home. He ordained a house of refuge on the [Dalmatian coast] shores of the Adriatic.” (Evelyn Waugh, Helena, page 100—my emphasis added)

***

“Everywhere Constantine prospered until he became blandly [so presumptuously and delusively?] aware that he was invincible….There were glimpses of [his son, Crispus] a nobler figure; young Crispus, all dash and fidelity, last warrior of the high Roman tradition on whose shield the fanciful might descry the fading blazon of Hector [of Troy]. Reports of him [and his death] came to Helena….His name was remembered always at her palace Mass. For Helena had been baptized.

“None knows when or where. No record was made. Nothing was built or founded. There was no public holiday. Privately and humbly, like thousands of others, she stepped down into the font and emerged a new woman. Were there regrets for her earlier loyalty? Was she persuaded point by point? Did she merely conform to the prevailing fashion, lie open unresisting to Divine Grace and so without design become its brimming vehicle? We do not know. She was one seed in a vast germination. (Evelyn Waugh, Helena, page 132—my emphasis added)

***

“’I’m only teasing, Lactantius [said Helena, but before she herself became a Christian]. Of course I know why you are all so excited. I confess I am a little uneasy myself. It’s this story that is going around that my boy has turned Christian. Has he?’

‘Not exactly, ma’am, as far as we can learn. But he has put himself under the protection of Christ.’

‘Why will no one ever talk plain sense to me? Am I too stupid? It is all I have ever asked, all my life, a straight answer to a straight question; and I never get one….All I want is the simple truth. Why don’t you answer me?’

After a pause Lactantius said: ‘Perhaps because I have read too much. I’m not the person to come to with straight and simple questions, ma’am. I don’t know the answers [to your several questions]….We all have the chance to choose the Truth….As you know he [Constantine] has brought the Church into the open.’

‘Beside Jupiter and Isis and the Phrygian Venus.’ [said Helena]

Christianity is not that sort of religion, ma’am. It cannot share anything [of the sort] with anybody. Whenever it is free, it will conquer.’

Perhaps there was some point in the persecutions then.’

The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.’ [said Waugh’s Lactantius to an attentive and receptive Helena, though as yet unbaptized; Helena, pages 127-128]

***

In 1912, three years before World War I began, Hilare Belloc first published an essay entitled “The Decline of a State.”1 And this compact essay, full of fresh insights, unexpectedly concluded with a memorable and challenging sentence:

Those who have least power in the decline of a State are priests, soldiers, the mothers of many children, the lovers of one woman, and saints. (242)

After my further reflecting upon Belloc’s selection of especially vulnerable persons in a time of decline and disorder, I recalled some passages from Evelyn Waugh’s historical novel, Helena (1950), especially two of Waugh’s formulations about the insufficiency of “Power”: Emperor Diocletian’s own boring and “foetid termitary of power”; and Emperor Constantine’s own self-sabotaging “power without Grace” as envisioned and articulated to her son by his mother, Helena, and concerning an imagined future ochlocracy or mob rule that is likewise trying to rule “without Grace”.

In this context, we may even slightly expand Belloc’s original phrase concerning the vulnerable: namely,“those who have least power in the decline of a state [and amidst “power without Grace”].”

With this slight amendment in mind, we now propose to examine Belloc’s essay more closely. It will be conducted “on the premise that sustained power without Grace is inherently selfsabotaging and is presented by a ‘foetid termitary.’” (Waugh’s scented termite analogy is a vivid one for sure!)

One of Belloc’s main contributions is his examination of the influence and destructive consequences of “two vices” (240)—“Avarice” and “Fear”—in the decline of a State, especially as practiced in “an oligarchic State, or aristocracy as it is called.” (237) For example, he says:

In the decline of a State, of whatever nature that State be [democratic, despotic, oligarchic, or aristocratic], two vices will immediately appear and grow: these are Avarice and Fear; and men will more readily accept the imputation of Avarice than of Fear, for Avarice is the less despicable of the two—yet in fact Fear will be by far the strongest passion of the time [i.e., during the time of a growing decline]. (240—my bold emphasis and italics added)

By way of clarifying contrast, Belloc elsewhere in his writings often accents the perilous combination of “insecurity and insufficiency” both of which all too often tend to increase the passions and the vices of Avarice and Fear.

Let us now consider some of Belloc’s framing introductory words to his analysis:

The decline of a State is not equivalent to a mortal sickness therein. States are organisms subject to diseases and to decay…; but they are not subject to a rhythmic rise and fall…. A State in decline is never a State doomed or a State dying. States perish slowly or by violence, but never without remedy and rarely without violence. (237—my emphasis added)

Belloc then refers to the “texture” (237) of a State and its decline, namely whether or not it is mostly democratic, despotic, oligarchic or aristocratic—or some combination of them. For example, and also promptly recalling his own England as of 1911, he says:

An oligarchic State, or aristocracy as it is called, will decline principally through two agencies which are, first, illusion, and secondarily, lack of civic aptitude. For an oligarchic State tends very readily to illusion, being conducted by men who live at leisure, satisfy their passions, are immune from the laws, and prefer to shelter themselves from reality. Their capacity or appetite for illusion will rapidly pervade those below them, for in an aristocracy the rulers are subjected to a sort of worship from the rest of the community, and thus it comes about that aristocracies in their decline accept fantastic histories of their own past, conceive victory possible without armies, wealth to be an indication of ability, and national security to be a natural gift rather that a [disciplined and virtuous] product of the [informed] will.(237-238—my emphasis added)

Now he passes on to the second factor (or “agency”) of a growing “lack of civic aptitude” in the decline of a State:

Such [oligarchic-aristocratic] communities further fail from a lack of civic aptitude…,which means that they deliberately elect to leave the mass of citizens incompetent and irresponsible for generations, so that, when any more strain is upon them, they look at once for some men other than themselves to relieve them, and [they] are incapable of corporate action upon their own account. (238—my emphasis added)

Belloc then touches upon real differences between “a great State or a small one” (238) and the factors of “indifference, faction, ignorance, and private spite” (238). States are “rooted originally in commerce, in arms, or in production” whether as they be artisan or be peasant-agricultural. He weighs and differentiates “the basis of the State” (239) more specifically and more concretely. These candid observations we recommend to the attention of the reader, that he may better savor the diversities.

It is fitting that we now further consider Belloc’s focused insights and his illustrations of “Avarice” and “Fear” and their sabotaging influences in a growing decline of a State.

First, Avarice, as a passion and vice, thus an habitual deadly sin, under conditions of decline:

Avarice will show itself not indeed in a mere greed of gain (for this is common to all societies whether flourishing or failing), but rather in a sort of taking for granted and permeation of the mere love of money, so that history will be explained by it, wars judged by their booty or begun in order to enrich a few, love between men and women wholly subordinated to it [money], especially among the rich: wealth made a test for responsibility and great salaries invented and paid to those who serve the State [a declining State, moreover]. This vice will also be apparent in the easy acquaintance of all who are possessed of wealth and their segregation from the less fortunate, for avarice cleaves society flatways, keeping the scum of it quite clear of the middle, the middle of it [society] quite clear of the dregs, and so forth. It is a further mark of avarice in its last stages that the rich are surrounded with lies in which they themselves believe. Thus, in the last phase [of avarice’s illusion], there are no parasites but only friends, no gifts but only loans, which are more esteemed favours than gifts once were. No one [is] vicious but only tedious, and no one a poltroon but only slack. (240-241—my emphasis added)

Although Belloc’s analysis is largely a secular analysis, Waugh’s Saint Helena—if not her son—would have detected new and crippling forms of Fear and of Cunning Carnal Prudence and Weakness without Grace. We may also consider the broken trust and increasing fears in our own society and decomposing civilization, at least as of 2022:

Of Fear in the decline of a State it may be said that it is so much the master passion of such decline as to eat up all others. Coming by travel from a healthy State to one diseased, Fear is the first point you take. Men dare not print or say what they feel of the judges, the public governors, the action of the police, [of] the controllers of fortunes and of news….Under the influence of Fear, to tell the least little truth about him [“a powerful minister”] will put a whole assembly into a sort of blankness.

This vice [of Fear] has for its most laughable effects the raising of a whole host of phantoms [subtle deceptions, or sensate “fake news,” perhaps?], and when a State is so far gone that civic Fear is quite normal to the citizens, then you will find them blenching with terror at a piece of print, a whispered accusation [e.g., about the immunities of International High Finance or the Money-Laundering of International Drug-Money Networks]. (241-242—my emphasis added)

By way of concluding his selectively nuanced essay, Belloc gives a glimpse of those who darkly and dubiously flourish in times of a State’s disorder and decline, as well as those who preserve some kind of independence or a deeply suffering vulnerability:

Moneylenders under this influence [of Fear] have the greatest power, next after them, blackmailers of all kinds, and next after these [two manipulative niche-operatives] eccentrics who may [“but, not without Grace”] blurt or break out [from under the vicious influence and atmosphere of Fear].

Those who have least power [under these secular and graceless and debilitating conditions] in the decline of a State are priests, soldiers, the mothers of many children, the [loyal] lovers of one woman, and saints. (142—my emphasis added)

It was a wise man who said that “those who are themselves uprooted tend to uproot others.”

Hilaire Belloc’s 1911-1912 essay on “The Decline of the State” is certainly resonantly enhanced in its complemetarity and counterpoise with Evelyn Waugh’s 1950 vivid historical novel, Helena—a novel about the times of Emperor Diocletian and Emperor Constantine and a newly germinating and spreading Christianity that Waugh himself so deeply cherished. (It was the only one he ever read aloud to his own beloved children.) Would that we knew whether Hilaire Belloc, who died in July of 1953, read Waugh’s moving 1950 novel with its supernatural perspectives on the indispensability of Grace.

In the 1960s, while a military officer in Southeast Asia, I one day somehow formulated to myself a principle about the mysteriously Permissive Acts of Divine Providence that was especially then consoling to me. It was a correlative relative proposition that went like this:

The greater the evil that God allows, the greater the good He intends to bring out of it.”

The faithful Practical Application of that Principle and Correlative Proposition goes like this:

“Therefore, here and now, I (we) must promptly collaborate with the Divine Intention and thus resourcefully and loyally try to bring about a GREATER good out of what God, and sometimes so mysteriously, has allowed to happen—also in combat and other forms of warfare!”

These are difficult principles and codes to live by. But “we are only as courageous as we are convinced,” as Father John A. Hardon, S.J. himself once solemnly and very supportively said to me.

CODA

Now comes an unforgettably beautiful literary passage: Let us thus now closely consider and gratefully savor St. Helena’s own cultivated prayers for her son (as well as for others) as offered to the Three Magi on the Feast of the Epiphany. Evelyn Waugh presents them at the end of his penultimate Chapter XI, which is aptly entitled “Epiphany,” from Helena by Evelyn Waugh (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1950), pages 221-224, here, printed for the reader’s sake without indentation:

Everyone in Jerusalem remarked on Helena’s vigour. The old lady was positively indefatigable, they all said. But in truth she was very weary. Winter set in. The convent was exposed, damp and chill. It was not thus, in Dalmatia, that she had planned her old age. She seemed to have come to the end of her questions. No one was helpful. No one was hopeful. At Christmas she had not the strength to ride out with the procession to Bethlehem. She went to communion in the convent chapel and that day allowed the nuns to make a fuss of her, spending the feast crouched over a wood fire which they lit for her in her room.

But by Twelfth Night she rallied and on the eve set out by litter along the five rough miles to the shrine of the Nativity. There was no throng of pilgrims. [Bishop] Macarius and his people kept Epiphany in their own church. Only the little community of Bethlehem greeted her and led her to the room they had prepared. She rested there dozing until an hour before dawn when they called her and led her out under the stars, then down onto the stable-cave, where they made a place for her on the women’s side of the small, packed congregation.

The low vault was full of lamps and the air close and still. Silver bells announced the coming of the three vested, bearded monks, who prostrated themselves before the altar. So the long liturgy began.

Helena knew little Greek and her thoughts were not in the words nor anywhere in the immediate scene. She forgot even her quest and was dead to everything except the swaddled child long ago and those three royal sages who had come from so far to adore him.

“This is my day, she thought, “and these are my kind.”

Perhaps she apprehended that her fame, like theirs, would live in one historic act of devotion; that she too had emerged from a kind of ‘ουτοπία’ [Utopia] or nameless realm and would vanish like them in the sinking nursery fire-light among the picture-books and the day’s toys.

“Like me,” she said to them, “you were late in coming. The shepherds were here long before; even the cattle. They had joined the chorus of angels before you were on your way. For you the primordial discipline of the heavens was relaxed and a new defiant light blazed among the disconcerted stars.

“How laboriously you came, taking sights and calculations, where the shepherds had run barefoot! How odd you looked on the road, attended by what outlandish liveries, laden with such preposterous gifts!

“You came at length to the final stage of your pilgrimage and the great star stood still above you. What did you do? You stopped to call on King Herod. Deadly exchange of compliments in which there began that unended war of mobs and magistrates against the innocent!

“Yet you came, and were not turned away. You too found room at the manger. Your gifts were not needed, but they were accepted and put carefully by, for they were brought with love. In that new order of charity that had just come to life there was room for you too. You were not lower in the eyes of the holy family than the ox or the ass.

“You are my especial patrons,” said Helena, “and patrons of all late-comers, of all who have had a tedious journey to make to the truth, of all who are confused with knowledge and speculation, of all who through politeness make themselves partners in guilt, of all who stand in danger by reason of their talents.

“Dear cousins, pray for me,” said Helena, “and for my poor overloaded son [the Emperor Constantine himself, who was still unbaptized]. May he, too, before the end find kneeling-space in the straw. Pray for the great, lest they perish utterly. And pray for Lactantius and Marcias and the young poets of Trèves and for the souls of my wild, blind ancestors; for their sly foe Odysseus and for the great Longinus.

“For His sake who did not reject your curious gifts, pray always for the learned, the oblique, the delicate. Let them not be quite forgotten at the Throne of God when the simple come into their kingdom.”

–Finis–

© 2019 and 2022: Robert D. Hickson

1Hilaire Belloc, First and Last (London: Methuen & Co. LTD., 1912—the second edition; 1911 was the first edition), pages 237-242. All further page references will be to the text of the Second Edition, and placed in parentheses above in the main body of this essay.

Pius V’s 1570 Excommunication of Queen Elizabeth and the New 1581 Jesuit Spirit

Dr. Robert Hickson

29 December 2021

Feast of Saint Thomas à Becket (d. 1170)

Feast of King David the Poet and King (d. 973 B.C.)

Also the Traditional Feast of the Holy Innocents (1 A.D.)

Pope Pius V’s 1570 Excommunication of Queen Elizabeth and the New 1581 Jesuit Spirit:

Hence “the Chivalry of Lepanto and the Poetry of La Mancha”

Epigraphs

“Tobie Matthew [the manifoldly prosperous Protestant of Oxford] died full of honours in 1628. There, but for the Grace of God, went Edmund Campion.” (Evelyn Waugh, Edmund Campion (1935, 1946), page 21—my emphasis added

***

“In the spring of 1570 there occurred another event that completely recast the Catholic cause; Pope Pius V excommunicated the Queen [Elizabeth of England]….The See of Peter was at this moment [one year before the 1571 victory at Lepanto] occupied by a Saint….That year, at any rate, the Bull [of 1570: Regnans in Excelsis] came most opportunely to [William] Cecil. There was now the best possible evidence to confirm anti-Catholic feeling. (Evelyn Waugh, Edmund Campion (1946), pages 46 and 49—my emphasis added)

***

“Elizabeth was charged and found guilty [by “twelve trustworthy English witnesses”] on seventeen counts;….Elizabeth was excommunicated [on 12 February 1570, during Lent] and her subjects released from moral obligations of obedience to her.

“Three months later, on Corpus Christi Day, May 25th, a manuscript copy of the document was nailed to the door of the Bishop of London’s palace, in St. Paul’s Churchyard, by Mr. John Felton, a Catholic gentleman of wealth and good reputation. He was tortured and executed. On the scaffold he made a present to the Queen of a great diamond ring which he had been wearing at the time of his arrest, with the assurance that he meant her no personal harm, but believed her deposition to be for her own soul’s good and the country’s. He was the first of the great company of Englishmen who were to sacrifice their worldly prospects and their lives as a result of Pius V’s proclamation. (Evelyn Waugh, Edmund Campion (1946), pages 47-48—my emphasis added)

***

“There was to be no easy way of reconciliation, but that it was only through blood and hatred and derision that the Faith [sic] was one day to return to England….(Evelyn Waugh, Edmund Campion (1946), page 49—my emphasis added)

***

This well-researched and moving book by Evelyn Waugh–first published with much gratitude to the learned Jesuit Father Martin D’Arcy in 19351—was divided into four interwoven sections, which are alluring portions and nuanced aspects of Edmund Campion’s life of forty-one years: The Scholar; The Priest; The Hero; and The Martyr.

We shall now fittingly present a revealing section on life in post-1570 England, as perceived through Waugh’s compact words on The Hero and on the growing sacrifices of the missionary Jesuits:

These were the conditions of life, always vexatious, often utterly disastrous, of the people to whom the Jesuits were being sent, people drawn from the most responsible and honourable class, guilty of no crime except adherence to the traditional faith of the country. They were the conditions which, in the natural course, could only produce despair, and it depended upon their individual temperaments whether, in desperation, they had recourse to apostasy or conspiracy. It was the work of the missionaries, and most particularly of Campion, to present by their own example a third, supernatural solution. They came with gaiety among a people where hope was dead. The past held only regret, and the future apprehension; they brought with them, besides their priestly dignity and the ancient and indestructible creed, an entirely new spirit of which Campion is the type: the chivalry of Lepanto and the poetry of La Mancha, light, tender, generous and ardent. (122-123—my emphasis added, with the implicit references to the festive prose epic literature of Miguel Servantes, thus with the characters of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza)

By contrast to this new Ignatian ethos, as expressed compactly above, we now briefly consider the all-too-human reactions to any protracted injustice and cruelty:

After him [after the coming of Campion] there still were apostates and there were conspirators; there were still bitter old reactionaries, brooding alone in their impoverished manors over the injustice they had suffered, grumbling at the Queen’s plebeian advisers, observing the forms of the old Church in protest against the crazy, fashionable Calvinism; these survived, sterile and lonely, for theirs was not the temper of Campion’s generation who—not the fine flower only, but the root and stem of English Catholicism—surrendered themselves to their destiny without calculation or reserve; for whom the honourable pleasures and occupations of and earlier age were forbidden; whose choice lay between the ordered, respectable life of their ancestors and the Faith that sanctified it; who followed holiness, though it led them through bitter ways to poverty, disgrace, exile, imprisonment and death; who followed it gaily. (123)

Every word of these two extended quotations should be read today, and savored, especially amidst the manifold crises within and around the Catholic Church.

What path—or compromise—would we have chosen then, in 1570-1581—especially given a family with children?

Moreover, what choices are laid before us now today? The fundamental and permanent ones, too?!

“But, Mother, the basis of unity is truth”: were the uncompromising words ardently spoken by a Cardinal in Rome to Mother Teresa of Calcutta, in the presence of Father John A. Hardon, S.J.

(Father Hardon glowingly told me in person about this incident while they were waiting for the delayed appearance of Pope John Paul II, but he would not—and could not–disclose to me the name of the candid Cardinal.)

Finis

© 2021 Robert D. Hickson

1All references will be to the 1946 edition of Evelyn Waugh’s original 1935 book, entitled Edmund Campion, which also contains Waugh’s short, but vivid, “Preface to American Edition.” Citations will be placed in parentheses above in the main body of the text, as well as in the epigraphs. See Waugh’s Edmund Campion (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946—pages 240).

Evelyn Waugh on Saint Edmund Campion’s Life and Death

Dr. Robert Hickson

28 January 2006

Saint Thomas Aquinas

Saint Peter Nolasco

(Author’s Note of 30 November 2021: Evelyn Waugh’s heart-felt text was first published in 1935, and dedicated to Father Martin D’Arcy, S.J. of Campion Hall, Oxford University. This current essay was first published in 2006 and will be published here once more in honor of Saint Edmund Campion, for his feast day on December 1.)


Forming a Catholic Resistance and Deeper Culture of the Faith in Times of Permeating Disorder: Evelyn Waugh’s Edmund Campion (1935) and Some Combatant Lessons from the Sixteenth Century

The scope and depth of Evelyn Waugh’s grateful and manly book, Edmund Campion, will, when receptively savored, illuminate and fortify those of the Catholic Faith today amidst their own special composite of challenges. For, as Waugh wrote in 1935: “The Church has vast boundaries to defend, and each generation finds itself called to service upon a different front.”[1]

In the longer light of history — informed by an attendant view of supernatural Grace and the other fundamental Christian Mysteries — Waugh shows in his deftly written 1935 book, only five years after his grateful reception into the Catholic Church, how the life of Edmund Campion bore intimate resemblances to the life and love of Christ, especially at the end. This book, moreover, will help us to see more clearly how we, too, must confront the mystery of iniquity today, to include the phenomenon of pervasive perfidy, which is sometimes so intrusive; and to do so without rash unwisdom or impetuous anger, but, rather, with high prudence and deeply abiding, intimate trust in the Providential Mercy of God rooted in the hearts of Christ and His Immaculate Mother, who will faithfully love us, and whom we must faithfully love, to the end. The greater the evil that God allows, the greater the good He intends to bring out of it. To what extent will we promptly and wholeheartedly — and perseveringly — collaborate with that generous Divine Intention? Edmund Campion did, knowing from the Council of Trent full well that the Grace of Final Perseverance itself is a great gift, a “Magnum Donum.”

One purpose of this essay is to give honor to Evelyn Waugh, a sometimes difficult man, but a great defender of the Faith in the Modern World, which he often so rumbustiously and wholeheartedly detested. One of his lovable characters, Scott-King (“Scottie”), the classical master at Grandchester Public School in England conclusively said to his progressive Headmaster: “I think it would be very wicked indeed to do anything to fit a boy for the modern world.”[2] Dying on Easter Sunday 1966 in his home, shortly after the Jesuit Father Philip Caraman celebrated the Traditional Latin Mass in a nearby Chapel, Waugh also suffered much from what he saw happening at, and shortly after, the Second Vatican Council — especially in the Liturgy and from the duplicity and perfidious manipulations of the clergy, especially Cardinal Heenan in England.[3] Like Edmund Campion, in part, Evelyn Waugh had his own “bitter trial” at the end — but so did Our Lord.

With his characteristic modesty, G.K. Chesterton once compared his entrance into the Catholic Church (in 1922, only eight years before Waugh) with the entrance into a Gothic Church. Inside a Gothic Church it is even more spacious than from without — i.e., when it is only seen from the outside, from different, but incomplete, perspectives. So, too, with the Catholic Faith and the Catholic Church. From within the Church the spaciousness of the Faith is even greater (and more intimate) than when only seen from the outside. The life and times of Saint Edmund Campion (1540-1581) are also seen with greater intimacy and spaciousness when seen from the inside of a beautiful book. This is to say, in and through the language and varied tones of Evelyn Waugh’s Edmund Campion.

Here, for example, is what Waugh wrote about the mystery of the character of Edmund Campion, who, in his short life and increasing witness to the truth, “suddenly emerges as a hero,” even though, from the beginning, it was vividly perceptible that “He was not a reserved man; he loved argument; ideas for him demanded communication”:[4]

It was an age [the Sixteenth Century] replete with examples of astounding physical courage. Judged by the exploits of the great adventurers of his time, the sea-dogs and explorers, Campion’s brief achievement [especially from his return to England in late June 1580 until his truculent martyrdom on 1 December 1581] may appear modest enough; but these were tough men, ruthlessly hardened by upbringing, gross in their recreations. Campion stands out from even his most gallant and chivalrous contemporaries, from [Sir] Philip Sidney and Don John of Austria [hero of Lepanto], NOT as they stand above Hawkins [the English buccaneer-pirate] and Stukeley by a finer human temper, but by the supernatural grace that was in him. That the gentle scholar, trained all his life for the pulpit and the lecture room, was able at the word of command [in March 1580] to step straight into a world of violence, and acquit himself nobly; that the man capable of strenuous heroism of that last year and a half [June 1580-December 1581], was able, without any complaint, to pursue the sombre routine of a pedagogue [in Prague and Brunn — in both Hussite and Lutheran Bohemia and Moravia] and contemplate a lifetime so employed — there lies the mystery which sets Campion’s triumph apart from the ordinary achievements of human strength; a mystery whose solution lies in the busy, uneventful years at Brunn and Prague [six years], in the profound and accurate piety of the Jesuit rule [hence “the precise discipline of the Ignatian Exercises”].[5]

Edmund Campion possessed a combination of very special qualities which could encourage the Catholics of England “to whom the Jesuits were being sent” and who, in truth, were “guilty of no crime except adherence to the traditional faith of their country”[6] — the Faith of Saint Augustine of Canterbury, Saint Thomas à Becket of Canterbury, and King Saint Edward the Confessor or Saint Thomas More. Under these conditions of life, “always vexatious, often utterly disastrous” the Catholics of Sixteenth-Century England suffered, and:

They were conditions, which, in the natural course, could only produce despair, and it depended upon their individual temperaments whether, in desperation, they had recourse to apostasy or conspiracy. It was the work of the missionaries, and most particularly of Campion, to present by their own example a third supernatural solution. They came with gaiety among a people where hope was dead. The past held only regret, and the future apprehension; they brought with them, besides their priestly dignity and indestructible creed, an entirely new spirit of which Campion is the type: the chivalry of Lepanto and the poetry of La Mancha, light, tender, generous and ardent.[7]

Always himself rooted in reality, Waugh then adds:

After him [Edmund Campion] there still were apostates and there were conspirators; there were still bitter old reactionaries, brooding alone in their impoverished manors over the injustice they had suffered [and perhaps without “forgiveness from the heart”], grumbling at the Queen’s plebeian advisers, observing the forms of the old Church in protest against the crazy, fashionable Calvinism; these survived, sterile and lonely, for theirs was not the temper of Campion’s generation who — not the fine flower only, but the root and stem of English Catholicism — surrendered themselves to their destiny without calculation or reserve; for whom the honorable pleasures and occupations of an earlier age were forbidden; whose choice lay between the ordered, respectable life of their ancestors and the faith which had sanctified it; who followed holiness though it led them through bitter ways to poverty, disgrace, exile, imprisonment and death; who followed it gaily.[8]

How did Campion become a Jesuit? How did it come to pass that, ordained by the Bishop of Prague, Father Campion, S.J., celebrated his first Mass on the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lady, on 8 September 1578 — slightly more than three years before his blood witness for the Faith, at Tyburn, in London, England? Waugh’s vivid and nuanced narrative will lead us to these deeper understandings — and some other insights, as well, about the implications of the Faith. For, the Lord’s last words to His disciples before His Ascension were: “and you shall be witnesses [Greek, “MARTYRES“] for me in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and even to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

In his own narrative of a later martyr for Christ, Waugh’s vivifying style has that “special quality” and “humbler role” of which Lactantius himself spoke in Waugh’s later Historical Novel, Helena (1950). In the later Third Century A.D., Lactantius was speaking of the earlier Christian martyrs of Britain and the recent martyrs of Thrace; he was speaking to Helena, before she became a Christian, and to her companion, Minervina (a sentimental — and somewhat brainless — Gnostic Sympathizer!). Lactantius in his modesty admits that he himself lacked what was needed to face the test of martyrdom, which is why he did not “stay at home in Nicomedia” (in Asia Minor), but fled the Diocletian Persecutions there. In Lactantius’ humble words about the mystery and abiding power of literary style, we also hear the deeper heart of Waugh:

“It needs a special quality to be a martyr — just as it needs a special quality to be a writer. Mine is the humbler rôle, but one must not think it quite valueless. One might combine two proverbs and say: ‘Art is long and will prevail.’ You see it is equally possible to give the right form to the wrong thing, and the wrong form to the right thing. Suppose that in the years to come [for example, in the time of Voltaire or Edward Gibbon], when the Church’s troubles seem to be over, there should come an apostate of my own trade, a false historian, with the mind of Cicero or Tacitus and the soul of an animal,” and he nodded towards the gibbon who fretted his golden chain and chattered for his fruit.” A man like that [who would “sap a solemn Creed with a solemn sneer,” said a poet] might make it his business to write down the martyrs and excuse the persecutors. He might be refuted again and again [with the true evidence and truthful counter-argument] but what he wrote would remain in people’s minds when the refutations were quite forgotten. That is what style does — it has the Egyptian secret of the embalmers. It is not to be despised.”[9]

Unlike the mocking tones and diction and syntax of Edward Gibbon, the gift of Evelyn Waugh’s style in his narrative of a later English martyr — “Pater Edmundus Campianus, Martyr” — gives the right form to the right thing. He uses language, not to conceal, but to reveal reality. That is to say, both the exterior, and the interior, life of Campion.

As we consider the preparation, formation, and full fructification of this gracious and much-beloved Jesuit priest, we should remember that, at the time of Father Campion’s return on “the English mission” as a Catholic priest, there was not yet an English Province of the Society of Jesus. Nor were there any Catholic bishops then in England who were not in prison. The other English Catholic bishops — like the elderly and failing Bishop Goldwell of Saint Asalph — were in exile. Moreover, after Campion was received as a novice in the Society of Jesus in late April 1573, he was assigned to the Austrian Province of the Jesuits for “the Bohemian apostolate” (which included Moravia, as well). The recently elected new General of the Society of Jesus — the Fleming, Mercurianus — approved of this assignment, as well as his later mission to England.[10] But, only three years after Campion’s martyrdom on the gibbet at Tyburn, the new Jesuit General Aquaviva was to write that “to send missionaries in order to give edification by their patience under torture might injure many Catholics and do no good to souls.”[11] The practical wisdom of those missions themselves, as well as the proper methods to be employed in the worsening circumstances in England, would remain a keenly disputed issue, even for those of deep faith who kept as a priority a supernatural criterion and the salvation of souls (salus animarum).

What would today’s laxer, or more tolerant, “Ecumenists” say — those who would inclusively promote, not the conversion of Protestants, but the convergence with Protestants (to include the increasingly innovative and syncretistic Anglicans of modern England)?

Even though Campion, along with Father Alexander Briant and Father Ralph Sherwin and thirty-seven others, was formally canonized on 25 October 1970, how would most “updated” Catholics today likely look upon those intransigent “Recusants” of Elizabethan England who refused to compromise with the eclectic and apostate “Elizabethan Settlement,” as it is euphemistically called? This is an important question, too, for us to reflect upon: to clarify our mind and principles, and to decide. We, too, must be prepared for the test — for the spiritual and moral combat of martyrdom. But, it is hard to pass the test when the test keeps changing. It is all too easy for our human weakness and sloth to say, instead: “If you can’t pass the test, change the test!” Especially, if it is a demanding test. Edmund Campion himself was often offered, as we shall see, comfortable preferments, even by the Queen herself, “would he but apostatize”!

In 1959, thirteen years after his new “Preface to the American Edition” of Edmund Campion, Waugh wrote a new Preface to his second, revised edition of Brideshead Revisited (1945), where he was very explicit about the main purpose of his historical novel. He said: “Its theme — the operation of divine grace on a group of diverse but closely connected characters — was perhaps presumptuously large, but I make no apology for it.”[12] This matter of Grace was so important to him. He knew that Nature was not enough. Certainly not our Fallen Nature, wounded, concupiscent, and intellectually darkened.

In his short 1946 “Preface to the American Edition” of Edmund Campion — the edition without the original 1935 footnotes and bibliography — Waugh also very explicitly says, concerning his narrative, that “It should be read as a simple, perfectly true story of heroism and holiness.”[13]

Emphasizing that “the facts are not in dispute,” he adds:

We [in 1946] have come much nearer to Campion since Simpson’s day [the late Nineteenth Century]. He wrote[14] [1861-2, 1866, 1896] in the flood-tide of toleration, when Elizabeth’s persecution seemed as remote as Diocletian’s. We know now that his age was a brief truce in the unending war.[15]

This theme of the permanent combat was reinforced four years later in his especially beautiful, already quoted, historical novel on the mother of Constantine, Saint Helena, entitled simply Helena (1950). Reflecting upon those other late-comers to Christ, the Three Magi, with whom she humbly identified, Helena says the following — in a passage of the novel just before she is shown to discover the True Cross:

“Like me,” she said, “you were late in coming [“to the truth”, “to Christ”] …. How laboriously you came, taking sights and calculating, where the shepherds had run barefoot [to the Manger]! …. You came to the final stage of your pilgrimage …. What did you do? You stopped to call on King Herod. Deadly exchange of compliments in which there began that unended war of mobs and magistrates against the innocent!”[16]

Christ Himself was being hunted at His birth. Like the impending Slaughter of the Innocents (“Flores Martyrum” — Prudentius) and the later, manipulated mob who preferred Barabbas, so, too, Evelyn Waugh saw what was happening again in that “unending war,” and not only in Mexico:

We have seen the Church driven underground in one country after another. The martyrdom of Father Pro [of the Society of Jesus] in Mexico re-enacted Campion’s. In fragments and whispers we get news of other saints in the prison camps of Eastern and South Eastern Europe, of cruelty and degradation more frightful than anything in Tudor England and of the same pure light [undiluted — like all purity] shining in the darkness, uncomprehended. The hunted, trapped, murdered priest is amongst us again and the voice of Campion comes to us across the centuries as though he were walking at our side.“[17]

Waugh presents a lucid fourfold structure to his book, the four sections being entitled, respectively: The Scholar; The Priest; The Hero; The Martyr. He adds an Appendix, Father Campion’s original threefold Challenge (written in English, not Latin), to Queen Elizabeth’s Lords of the Privy Council, the Doctors and Masters of Oxford and Cambridge, and the Ecclesiastical and Civil Lawyers of the Realm of England. In this challenge — called “Campion’s Brag” by his adversaries — Campion says: “Hereby I have taken upon me a special kind of warfare under the banner of obedience, and eke [also] resigned all my interest or possibilitie of wealth, honour, pleasure, and other worldlie felicitie.”[18]

Campion’s Challenge is an Open Letter which was written spontaneously in July of 1580, by hand, in half an hour, at a village outside London (Hoxton), and at the request of his colleague, Mr. Thomas Pounde, for the purpose of clarifying his true spiritual mission, should he be captured, to those who purportedly suspected him of treason. It concludes with these memorable and still inspiring words of fervor and Faith; knowing very well “upon what substantial grounds our Catholike Faith is builded”:

Hearken to those who would spend the best blood in their bodies for your salvation. Many innocent hands are lifted up to heaven for you daily by those English students [in Douai, of Flanders, in Rheims, and in Rome], whose posteritie shall never die, which beyond seas [in exile], gathering virtue and sufficient knowledge for the purpose [to secure your salvation], are determined never to give you over, but either to win you heaven, or to die upon your pikes. And touching our Societie [the Society of Jesus], be it known to you that we have made a league — all the Jesuits in the world, whose succession and multitude must overreach all the practices of England — cheerfully [with hilaritas mentis] to carry the cross you shall lay upon us, and never to despair your recovery [return to the Faith, conversion unto salvation], while we have a man left to enjoy your Tyburn, or to be racked [by that instrument of pain which hideously later stretched his own limbs apart] with your torments, or consumed with your prisons [the Tower of London]. The expense is reckoned, the enterprise is begun; it is of God, it cannot be withstood. So the Faith was planted: so it must be restored.[19]

Reflecting upon the mysterious and very consequential decision which had been made ten years earlier (in 1570) by the sainted Dominican Pope Pius V, namely, to promulgate on Corpus Christi Day (25 May 1570) the Bull of Elizabeth’s Excommunication and Deposition (Regnans in Excelsis), Evelyn Waugh posed an important question, and with great humility:

Had he [Pope Pius V], perhaps, in those withdrawn, exalted hours before his crucifix, learned something that was hidden from the statesmen of his time and the succeeding generations of historians [who acutely criticized him for his act]; [had he] seen through and beyond the present and the immediate future [e.g., the October 1571 Battle of Lepanto!]; [had he] understood that there was no easy way of reconciliation, but that it was only through blood and hatred and derision that the faith was one day to return to England?[20]

Waugh shows a heart and a humility for this great Dominican Pope despite the manifold, “learned and prudent” criticisms against his Bull of Excommunication and Deposition. Waugh, then says, once again with a supernatural perspective:

It is possible that one of his more worldly predecessors [as Pope] might have acted differently, or at another season, but it was the pride and slight embarrassment of the Church that, as has happened from time to time in her history, the See of Peter was at this moment occupied by a Saint.[21]

Moreover,

His contemporaries and the vast majority of subsequent historians regarded the Pope’s action as ill-judged. It has been represented as a gesture of mediaevalism, futile in an age of new, vigorous nationalism, and its author as an ineffectual and deluded champion [like a Don Quixote], stumbling through the mists, in the ill-fitting, antiquated armour of Gregory [VII] and Innocent [III]; a disastrous figure, provoking instead of a few buffets for Sancho Panza the bloody ruin of English Catholicism.[22]

Waugh’s own artfully ironic description of Saint Pius V’s scoffers shows the depth of his own vision and Faith; and he truly tries to understand the Pope’s deeper reasons and motives:

Pius contemplated only the abiding, abstract principles that lay behind the phantasmagoric changes of human affairs. He prayed earnestly about the situation in England, and saw it with complete clarity; it was a question [a quaestio disputata] that admitted of no doubt whatever. Elizabeth was illegitimate by birth, she had violated her [Catholic] coronation oath, deposed her [Catholic] bishops, issued a heretical Prayer Book and forbidden her subjects the comfort of the sacraments. No honourable Catholic could be expected to obey her.[23]

Indeed, Edmund Campion’s own final words of his threefold “Challenge” (“Brag”) ten years later intimately hoped for an eventual and full reconciliation — but only sub gratia — in Beatitude. With eloquence and warm-heartedness he said:

If these my offers [to be allowed an open, public Disputation about the Faith] be refused, and my endeavors can take no place, and I, having run thousands of miles to do you good [unto your salvation], shall be rewarded with rigour [mortal punishment], I have no more to say but to recommend [entrust] your case and mine to Almightie God, the Searcher of Hearts [Scrutator Cordium], who send us His grace, and set us at accord before the day of payment [the Final Judgment], to the end we may at last be friends in heaven, when all injuries shall be forgotten.[24]

Before first introducing us to Edmund Campion as a young and developing scholar(twenty-six years old), who first met Queen Elizabeth on 3 September 1566 when she was only thirty-three years of age and on her first visit to Oxford University, Waugh begins his book with an unmistakable shock. He depicts Elizabeth in her last illness, a terrible thing to think upon, showing her increasingly withdrawn into silence and sadness, for nearly two weeks in Mid-March 1603, until she lapsed into a final stupor and death, after having sunk more and more into melancholy and muteness and the terrible isolation of the human soul, “where she died without speaking,” “sane and despairing.”[25] It is a stark depiction, indeed. “In these circumstances the Tudor Dynasty came to an end,” Waugh quietly comments, as if he were also implying a parable as well as a warning. For it was that same Tudor Dynasty “which in three generations had changed the aspect and temper of England.”[26]

That is to say, in 1603, almost twenty-two years after Father Campion’s own blood-witness for the Faith, Catholicism in England was fading. It was no longer part of the public order and leadership of the realm. Indeed, says Waugh, that three-generation Tudor Dynasty

Left a new aristocracy, a new religion, a new system of government; the generation was already [even in 1603] in its childhood that was to send King Charles [Charles I] to the scaffold [with the approval of Oliver Cromwell, the Calvinist]; the new rich families who were to introduce the [Protestant] House of Hanover were already in the second stage of their metamorphosis from the freebooters of Edward VI’s reign [1547-1553] to the conspirators of 1688 [i.e., the usurpation of the Catholic King James II, or “the Glorious Revolution”] and the sceptical, cultured oligarchs of the eighteenth century. The vast exuberance of the Renaissance had been canalized. England was secure, independent, insular; the course of her history lay plain ahead: competitive nationalism, competitive industrialism, competitive imperialism, the looms and coal mines and [financial] counting houses, the joint-stock companies and the cantonments; the power and the weakness of great possessions.[27]

Especially, we might say, the burden and the weakness of “Power without Grace“![28] In the words of Saint Helena to her belabored son Constantine, who was as yet unconverted and unbaptized as an Emperor: “Think of the misery of a whole world possessed of Power without Grace.”[29] In other words, words which were earlier applied to Emperor Diocletian himself, “All the tiny mechanism of Power regularly revolved, like a watch still ticking on the wrist of a dead man.”[30] And, for sure, the well-flattered Emperor Diocletian was at the time spiritually dead and exhausted; sick of strife and persecution (perhaps like Queen Elizabeth in the end).

This, indeed, according to Waugh, was the very sentiment that Emperor Diocletian had felt when, “consumed by huge boredom,” he stepped down from imperial rule and “sickly turned towards his childhood’s home” on the seacoast of Dalmatia; for, even he had, despite his great might, almost himself suffocated “in the inmost cell of the foetid termitary of power“[31] — “Power without Grace” had consumed him, and self-sabotaging despair in the end. Mindful of all of this, Helena was, as a good mother, warning her own son, as well — and drawing him to the Catholic Faith which she herself had so gratefully and winsomely embraced.

Edmund Campion, too, was gradually drawn to the Faith. Despite his early compromises with the new Anglican Establishment and the Elizabethan Settlement of the Tudor State, he always seemed to drink from deeper sources and was especially open to Grace, even while he was at St. John’s College at Oxford, which itself was “predominantly Catholic in sympathy.”[32] That is to say, the atmosphere there was still Catholic.

In contrast to his younger contemporary, Tobie Matthew (1546-1628), who had compromised completely with “the new order” and consequently “prospered” (becoming even the Anglican Archbishop of York), Campion persistently resisted. He was different. In Waugh’s trenchant words: “Tobie Matthew died full of honors in 1628. There, but for the Grace of God, went Edmund Campion.”[33]

While Campion was still a scholar and teacher at Oxford (1555-1569), “the division was more sharply defined” between the Catholic party in the majority and the Protestant party in the ascendant; and “Campion hesitated between the two, reluctant to decide.”[34] (In 1568, however, Campion had “committed himself more gravely by accepting ordination as deacon” in the Anglican Church, a step he later very deeply regretted![35] As Waugh depicts it, Campion had wished only to be “left in peace to pursue his own studies” and to “discharge [his] duties” as “proctor and public orator, to do his best for his pupils.”[36] With unfailing acuteness once again, Waugh immediately adds: “But he was born into the wrong age for these gentle ambitions; he must be either much more, or much less.”[37]

When the persistent integrity of Campion’s troubled conscience, in decisive combination with his close study of the Church Fathers (like John Henry Newman later), led him to an ever deeper understanding of Church History and Doctrine, “the further he seemed from the Anglican Church which he was designed to enter.” But, nonetheless, “he fled and doubled from the conclusions of his reason,” for “nothing but ill was promised for him by the way he was being drawn.”[38] It was still a temptation, an incentive to further disorder, but he resisted; he did not consent to it.

By contrast, “Tobie Matthew’s way lay smooth before him” and he could very easily convince himself that a compromise was needed altogether, in the circumstances that prevailed. Indeed, as the excuse was conveniently formulated: “In a world where everything was, by its nature, a makeshift and poor reflection of reality, why throw up so much that was excellent, in straining for a remote and perhaps unattainable perfection?”[39] (With respect to the Church Fathers and their clear support for the Catholic position, Tobie Matthew had even responded to Campion’s personal query to him, as follows: “If I believed them [the Church Fathers] as well as read them, you would have good reason to ask” — i.e., to ask why I — Tobie Matthew — do not myself become a Catholic![40]) This is a fine summary, I think, of the self-deception and corruption and dishonesty of an apostate!

In the case of Campion’s other companions of Oxford, there were some less corrupt evasions of historical evidence, and truth, and other temporizing arguments, too, which were quite “acceptable to countless decent people, then and later” — fearful people who also had resigned themselves to a lower vision of life, and of what could be expected from life and should be striven for.[41] Campion, says Waugh, was not content with mere decency, however:

There was that in Campion that made him more than a decent person: an embryo in the womb of his being, maturing in darkness, invisible, barely stirring; the love of holiness, the need for sacrifice.[42]

But the Catholic atmosphere at Dr. Allen’s seminary at Douai not only later nurtured this deeper disposition of his soul; it also made him look back upon his earlier compromises and “passive conservatism” with greater severity and self-rebuke. In Waugh’s memorable words:

Martyrdom was in the air of Douai. It was spoken of, and in secret prayed for, as the supreme privilege of which only divine grace could make them worthy. But it was with just this question, of his own worthiness, that Campion now became preoccupied. There is no record of the date of his formal reconciliation with the Church, but it is reasonable to assume that it occurred immediately on his arrival from England [i.e., in June 1572, after he had witnessed at London’s Westminster Hall, “the trial of Dr. Storey, a refugee whom Cecil had has kidnapped at Antwerp and brought home to suffer in old age under an insupportable charge of treason” — perhaps a turning point in Campion’s life — and “the condemned man [like Campion himself eight and a half years later] was executed on June 1st with peculiar ferocity“[43]] From then onwards he [Campion] was admitted to the Sacraments without which he had spent the past ten or twelve years of his life [i.e., not having received since 1560 or 1562!][44]

Moreover, as of 1572, we see a deeper change, sub gratia:

From then onwards, for the first time in his adult life [in 1555, under the Catholic Queen, Mary Tudor, Campion was only fifteen years old when he first went to Oxford], he found himself in a completely Catholic community, and, perhaps, for the first time, began to have some sense of the size and power of the world he had entered, of the distance and the glory of the aim he had [now] set himself.[45] The Faith of the people among whom he had now placed himself [along with his good friend from Oxford, Gregory Martin] was no fad or sentiment to be wistfully disclosed over the wine at high table, no dry, logical necessity to be expounded in the schools; it [the Faith] was what gave them daily life, their entire love and hope, for which [Faith] they had abandoned all smaller loyalties and affections; all that most men found desirable, home, possessions, good fame, increase, security in the world, children to keep fresh their memory after they were dead.[46]

In this atmosphere and with his humility, new discernments illuminated his mind and well-formed sensitive conscience. On the premise that “contrast clarifies the mind,” as it were, it came to pass that,

Beside their devotion Campion saw a new significance in the evasions and compromises of his previous years. At Oxford and Dublin he had been, on the whole, very much more scrupulous of his honor than the majority; he had foresworn his convictions rarely and temperately; when most about him were wantonly throwing conscience to the winds and scrambling for the prizes, he had withdrawn decently from competition; but under the fiery wind of Douai these carefully guarded reserves of self-esteem dried up and crumbled away. The numerous small jealousies of University life, his zeal for reputation, his courtship of authority [or of “Power without Grace”], the oaths he had taken of the Queen’s [Elizabeth’s] ecclesiastical supremacy, the deference with which he had given to [Anglican Bishop] Cheney’s view of conformity [with “the Powers That Be”], his melodious eulogies of the Earl of Leister [Robert Dudley, one of Campion’s patrons and one of Queen Elizabeth’s lovers, as well], above all “the mark of the beast,” the ordination he had accepted as an Anglican deacon, now appeared to him as a series of gross betrayals crying for expiation, fresh wounds in the hands and feet [or Heart!] of Christ.”[47]

To sharpen the transformation and humility of Campion, Waugh deftly says:

He had come to Douai as a distinguished immigrant …. Allen [“the founder and first President” of Douai, “Dr. — later Cardinal — William Allen of Oriel, a gentleman of ancient Lancashire family, thirty-years old at the date of the foundation, 1568, who had left Oxford at the first religious changes” and had “become a priest in Louvain”][48] received him as a sensational acquisition. He [Campion] had left England, it may be supposed, in a mood of some pride and resentment; he was casting off the dust of ingratitude, taking his high talents where they would be better appreciated. Now in this devout community, at the hushed moment of the Mass, he realized the need for other gifts than civility and scholarship; he saw himself as a new-born, formless soul that could come to maturity only by long and especially sheltered growth.[49]

In the end, Campion embodied Saint Ignatius Loyola’s prayer, already cited, from his Spiritual Exercises: “Suscipe, Domine, universam meam libertatem. Accipe memoriam, intellectum atque voluntatem omnem …. (“Take and receive, O Lord, all my liberty. Receive and accept my entire memory and understanding and will”). At the end, “the composition of place” for Campion was not Calvary during the Passion of the Lord, which he had so often contemplated with love. His own Passion, in the Providence of God, would be at Tyburn; his Cross would be the Gibbet and the butcher-work to follow.

As in the case of Saint Longinus, so, too, with a witness of Campion’s later Testimony of Blood:

One man … returned from Tyburn to Grays Inn profoundly changed; Henry Walpole, Cambridge wit, minor poet, flaneur, a young man of birth, popular, intelligent, slightly romantic. He came from a Catholic family and occasionally expressed Catholic sentiments, but until that day [1 December 1581] had kept a discreet distance from [George] Gilbert and his circle [who, at great risk to themselves, sheltered and conducted support operations for the hunted missionary priests], and was on good terms with authority. He was a typical member of that easy-going majority, on whom the success of the Elizabethan Settlement depended, who would have preferred to live under a Catholic régime but accepted the change without very serious regret.[50] He had an interest in theology and had attended Campion’s conferences with the Anglican clergy [four of them, starting on 1 September 1581, after he had been put to the torture by the “rack-master” in the Tower of London — the fourth conference “to test the truth of his Creed” being held shortly before his judicial Trial for Treason began on 14 November 1581 at Westminster Hall, where Dr. Storey himself had also been condemned in May of 1572]. He [Walpole] secured a front place at Tyburn; so close that when Campion’s entrails were torn out by the butcher and thrown into the cauldron of boiling water a spot of blood splashed upon his coat. In that moment he was caught into a new life; he crossed the sea, became a priest, and thirteen years later, after very terrible sufferings, died the same death as Campion’s on the gallows of York.[51]

A recapitulation of the external events of significance and chronology of Campion’s life may be helpful at this point, especially after having considered Waugh’s more concentrated and intimate insights about Edmund Campion’s transformation unto holiness and heroism, to include Campion’s effects upon others, for their greater good. A schematic summary will serve our purpose, therefore, in an Appendix.

In the eloquent depictions of his book, Waugh moves from the final melancholy and very sad death of Queen Elizabeth, back to when as a young woman of thirty-three she first met Edmund Campion (on 3 September 1566); then to a presentation of the state of Oxford University and of Campion’s patronage (promised to him from both Leicester and Cecil), for “they had need of men like Campion” now “that the University had thrown off its lethargy and was once more advancing in hope.”[52] “But the past,” says Waugh, “could not be recalled,” for “a great tradition had been broken.”[53] Moreover, says he:

Not for a hundred years [i.e., until around 1670] was the University [Oxford, specifically] to know security [for “no one felt confidence in the rewards of scholarship” and “politics and theology continued to sway University elections”], and it was to emerge from its troubles provincial, phlegmatic and exclusive [and, most certainly, exclusive of Catholics!]; not for three hundred years was it to re-emerge as a centre of national life.[54]

It was the case, as of 1566, that

Now Cecil and Elizabeth were finding it very hard to get suitable candidates for ministry in the new church. By the first acts of the reign [of Queen Elizabeth] they had made the Mass illegal.[55]

No longer at Oxford was there to be seen “the spacious, luminous world of Catholic humanism.”[56] And, it must be remembered that

From its earliest days the University had been primarily a place for the training of churchmen. By the statutes, Holy Orders were obligatory on aspirants for almost all important offices. Sons of the aristocracy might keep term in the interests of culture, but the general assumption for poor scholars was that they were qualifying as priests.[57]

Now we may better understand Elizabeth’s and Cecil’s problem, and why they would have wanted to attract and give further patronage to Edmund Campion, even as late as November 1581, shortly before his vile and truculent execution. Even Campion’s sister was sent to him on such a mission during those last eleven days of his in the Tower of London, even as he lay in the dark dungeon in irons. In Waugh’s poignant words:

Hitherto his family have made no appearance in the story; now a sister of whom we know nothing, came to visit him, empowered to make a last offer of freedom [sic] and a benefice, if he would renounce his Faith.[58]

Leading us to another moving insight about the effects of Campion’s “heroism and holiness” — to include the forgiveness of others from his heart — Waugh adds the following:

There may have been other visitors [during those final eleven days] …. but the only one of whom we have record is George Eliot [the one who, like Judas, had betrayed and helped capture him]. “If I [Eliot] had thought that you would have had to suffer aught but imprisonment through my accusing of you, I would never have done it.” “If that is the case,” replied Campion, “I beseech you, in God’s name, to do penance, and confess your crime [to include his unmistakably base perjury at Campion’s own Trial for Treason], to God’s glory and your own salvation.”[59]

Waugh’s immediate comment is exquisite, and then compassionate and consoling, further revealing thereby the mystery of Grace and Divine Mercy — especially the grace of conversion of a hardened human heart:

But it was fear for his life [“fear for his skin”] rather than for his soul that had brought the informer [and apostate perjurer] to the Tower; ever since the journey from Lyford, when the people had called him “Judas,” he had been haunted by the spectre of Catholic reprisal.

“You are much deceived,” said Campion, “if you think the Catholics push their detestation and wrath as far as revenge; yet to make you quite safe, I will, if you please, recommend you to a Catholic duke in Germany, where you may live [were his conscience to permit it!] in perfect security.”

But it was another man who was saved by that offer. Eliot went back to his trade of spy; Delahays, Campion’s gaoler, who was present at the interview, was so moved by Campion’s generosity that he became a Catholic.[60]

By his further deft implicitness and artful indirection, Evelyn Waugh very forcefully and cumulatively conveys the inhumanity and violence of the New Elizabethan Régime and its New Religion.

For example, the founder of Saint John’s College at Oxford, Sir Thomas White, according to Waugh:

Had lived until 1564 [i.e., two years before Campion first met Queen Elizabeth], and up to his death he saw to it that the rules he had laid down were properly observed. He was a city magnate of modest education and simple piety; a childless old man who devoted the whole of his great wealth to benefactions. The last years of his life were overclouded by the change of religion; he collected the sacred vessels from the College Chapel and stored them away in his own house for a happier day, and was obliged to stand by helpless while the authorities perverted the ends of his own foundation; he saw the poor scholars whom he had adopted and designed for the [Catholic] priesthood trained in a new way of thought [i.e., in the insidious Neo-Modernism of his day!] and ordained with different rites, for a different purpose.[61]

Adding to this poignancy, Waugh says:

He had set down in his statutes that the day was to begin with Mass, said in the Sarum use; at Elizabeth’s accession it ceased, never to be restored; he saw three of his [Catholic and College] Presidents … deposed by the authorities for their faith. He died a comparatively poor man, out of favour at Court, out of temper with the times, and was buried according to Protestant rites — Campion speaking the funeral oration in terms which appear rather patronising [“The poor old man”!]. Perhaps in secret a Mass was said for him; it is impossible to say.[62]

Though there were “still many priests [of the Catholic Faith] at Oxford” in 1564, and “at this time the greater part of St. John’s was Catholic in sympathy;” nonetheless “Catholicism at Oxford was largely [then] a matter of sentiment and loyalty to the old ways, rather than of active spiritual life” — “until the counter-reformatory period, fifteen or twenty years later [1579-1584]” and the return of Father Campion, S.J.[63]

However, at this earlier time of Edmund Campion’s piercingly condescending funeral oration for the Catholic founder of his Oxford College, Thomas White — who may himself have died with a broken heart — the Council of Trent (1545-1563) had itself just ended the previous year. But, it was already clear, says Waugh, that

The official Anglican Church had cut itself off from the great surge of vitality that flowed from the Council [the Council of Trent, and Saint Charles Borromeo, for example]; it was by its own choice, insular and national. The question before Campion [also in 1564] was, not whether the Church of England was heretical, but whether, in point of fact, heresy was a matter of great importance; whether in problems of such great importance human minds could ever hope for accuracy, whether all formulations [as with the irreformable doctrines of Catholic Dogma] were not, of necessity, so inadequate that their differences were of no significance.[64]

But, what about the Catholic Mass?

For the New Régime, as is still the case today, it would seem, the primary target was the Sacrifice of the Mass, in which “Calvary is happening.” For a while, the new Anglican authorities could and would tolerate certain Catholic customs and lingering sentimentalisms:

But the saying of the Mass was a different matter …. They were united in their resolve to stamp out this vital practice of the old religion [the Actio Sacra Missae]. They struck hard at all the ancient habits of spiritual life — the rosary, devotion to Our Lady and the Saints, pilgrimages, religious art, fasting, confession, penance and the great succession of traditional holidays [i.e., Holy Days] — but the Mass was recognized as being both the distinguishing sign and main sustenance of their opponents.[65]

(We will recall that, about thirty years after he first penned these words, Waugh was to face his own ordeal over the new Liturgical Revolution within the Catholic Church, where, once again, as he saw it, the integrity of the Mass was at stake.)

As in the ongoing Dialectic Revolution today, informed, as ever, not by the principle of life, but by the “principle of disorder” — “solve et coagula!” — so, too, at the time of Campion, many well-meaning, but incompletely formed, Catholics were “dealing with the problem of conformity”[66] and also with the corrosive “solvents” of their hostile society. The Law in England was still mild (1559-1570); that is to say, until Saint Pius V’s 1570 Proclamation of Queen Elizabeth’s Excommunication and Deposition, after which time Catholics were more and more suspect of treason and potential rebellion.

Nevertheless, even under milder Penal Laws against Catholics, many of which were for a while not strictly applied, the average Catholic family had to face the threat of “sequestration,” “confiscation,” “fines,” and even (after the third offense) “imprisonment for life.”[67] Often, their choice was between either “submission” or “destitution.”[68] (Such submission often lead to apostasy; and the threat of destitution often lead to conspiracy and revolt, for the men, especially, were eventually “made reckless by injustice.”)

Moreover, says Waugh, even before the later 1570 Papal Excommunication, namely in the Spring of 1568, the Catholic Mary Stuart — “Mary Queen of Scots” — had taken refuge from the strife in Scotland, and then “was imprisoned in England.” She was seen as a threat, in many ways. For, says Waugh:

In the event of war abroad or rebellion at home, Cecil felt that the Catholics constituted a grave menace. They were proving more stubborn in their faith than had first seemed likely …. Accordingly, all over England the commissioners and magistrates were instructed to take a firmer line; at first no new legislation was used, but the law which had been administered with some tact was everywhere more sternly enforced. More Catholics went into exile, among them Gregory Martin [who went to Douai], Campion’s closest friend for thirteen years, who had left Oxford to act as a tutor in the Duke of Norfolk’s family [the head of which, himself a Catholic, had led a Northern Rebellion]. The repression had begun which was to develop year by year from strictness to savagery, until, at the close of the century, it had become the bloodthirsty persecution in which Margaret Clitheroe was crushed to death between mill stones for the crime of harbouring a priest.[69]

Thus, according to the discerning Waugh:

When Campion [while still at Oxford] most required tranquillity in which to adjust his vision to the new light [of his still slowly germinating Catholic Faith] that was daily becoming clear and more dazzling, events outside his control, both at Oxford and in the world at large, became increasingly obtrusive.[70]

Soon, therefore, he was to seek refuge in Ireland — until that, too, became more precarious: “The authorities in Dublin were instructed to arrest suspected Catholics, and at the beginning of March 1572 Campion, with his History [i.e., The History of Ireland] still unfinished, became a fugitive.”[71] But, “there is no clear record of his movements in the next few months.”[72] Eventually, by the end of June, he arrives in Douai.

Indeed, “in this ill-documented decade” (circa 1568-1580), the situation of the Catholics became increasingly difficult and sometimes confused, especially for those families who had to live on in England. Speaking with deft and vividly imaginative irony, Waugh recapitulates this situation:

The Catholics, left without effective leadership, appear to have been dealing with the problem of conformity [or, whether to choose Resistance to the growing Religious Revolution], each in his own way. It was one which varied greatly in different parts of the country. Some [i.e., those who at once became firm “Recusants”] refused the oath [of the Queen’s Spiritual Supremacy] and went into exile; some paid the penalties of the law. Some, who were popular or locally powerful, avoided, year after year, taking the oath at all; some took the oath and meant nothing by it. That generation [before the re-animating arrival of the Jesuits!] was inured to change; sooner or later [they imagined] the tide would turn in their favour again; a Protestant coup [a more radicalized strike by the Calvinists], such as was spoken of, to enthrone Earl of Huntington might inflame a national rising and restore the old religion; the Queen [Elizabeth] might die and be succeeded by Mary Stuart [Mary Queen of Scots]; she might marry a Catholic; she might declare for Catholicism herself. In any case, things were not likely [they delusively imagined] to last on their present unreasonable basis [Things were, in fact, to worsen and gravely degenerate!]. It was one thing for a government to suppress dangerous innovations — that was natural enough; but for the innovators [heretics, apostates, eclectics, syncretists] to be in command, for them to try to crush out by force [or by fraud!] historic Christianity — that was contrary to all good sense; it was like living under the Turks.[73]

In 1570-1571, too, during the reign of Pope Pius V, “the Turks were threatening Christianity from the rear, her centre was torn by new heresies, his [the Pope’s] allies were compromising and intriguing, their purpose distracted by ambitions of empire and influence.”[74] Pope Pius V’s successor Gregory XIII, also found himself constantly “reinforcing on all fronts the resistance to the Turks and the Reformers [or, rather, the Deformers of the Faith].”[75] Catholics, in their resistance and initiatives, must always be strategic, and not just tactical!

(So, too, is it the case for us now in the Twenty-First Century, but with a few additional elements and challenges now added. For now, we must deal, for example, with the difficult problem of deception and self-deception in the Church itself, as well as in the State and the Secret Societies. Hence, we must be prepared to face trust-breaking perfidy in high places. We must also be prepared to face new “psycho-techniques” of manipulation in the electronic and other “Mass Media,” which dangerously complement new methods of warfare and intimidation.)

In the Sixteenth Century, too, there came a point where faithful Catholics could no longer be “courtiers and connoisseurs” or “dilettanti,” especially “among the Catholic laity whose loyalty was already strained by persecution” amidst “the conflict that was rending every Catholic heart.”[76] When earlier referring to those more quiescent Catholics who would prefer to conform, Waugh had said: “But it needed more than a gentle heart and pious disposition to make a Catholic in that age.”[77] So, too, today!

Waugh himself, perhaps implying his own deeper examination of conscience, as well, reinforces this point:

The listless, yawning days were over, the half-hour’s duty perfunctorily accorded on days of obligation [i.e., on Holy Days of Obligation]. Catholics [after 1580] no longer chose their chaplain for his speed in saying Mass, or kept Boccacio bound in the covers of their missals. Driven back to the life of the catacombs, the Church was recovering her temper.[78]

As the Penal Laws (and their application) went further and further from “strictness” to “savagery,” in order, purportedly, to keep “the Queen Majesty’s subjects in due obedience,” other measures were taken:

In 1581, to meet the emergency of Campion’s mission, a further act [of Legislation] was passed …. It reaffirmed the principle that it was high treason to reconcile anyone or to be reconciled to the [Catholic] Church and imposed a new scale of fines …. It is the first time that the Mass is specifically proscribed …. The object of this legislation was to outlaw and ruin the Catholic community.[79]

Persons of cruelty, such as Francis Walsingham and his chief priest-hunter, Richard Topcliffe, said that they did not want “to make the bones” of a later Jesuit martyr and poet, Father Robert Southwell, “dance for joy,” and, so:

He and others like him now [under the new penal legislation] proceeded about the country levying blackmail where they could, spying, bribing servants, corrupting children, compassing the death of many innocent priests and the ruin of countless gentle families. The Catholics were defenseless at law [the Truth was not a defense], for their whole inherited scheme of life had been dubbed criminal [as if the charge, often made today, were true that Catholic Christianity itself is intrinsically “Anti-Semitic,” and thus soon to be liable under certain currently existing laws “on the books” in Europe; or the inexorable demand that certain of the Christian Gospels, especially John and Matthew, should be “expurgated” — censored — for their “hate speech” and other potentially persecutory incitements!]. They lived [and maybe, soon, we ourselves] in day-to-day uncertainty, whether they may not be singled out for persecution, their estates confiscated, their families dispersed and themselves taken to prison [and “the rack-master”] or the scaffold [as was to happen, we know, to Campion himself].[80]

But Father Campion shows us “the supernatural solution,” under Grace, and the deep, preparatory training for that higher supernatural vocation and the higher chivalry:

Both sides [Catholic and Protestant] now looked upon him [especially after “Campion’s Brag” had circulated very rapidly and had keenly animated his readers] as the leader and spokesman of the new mission; his membership of the Society of Jesus cast over him a peculiar glamour, for, it must be remembered, the Society had, so far, no place in the English tradition [and Campion himself was to become the Jesuit Protomartyr of the English Mission] …. ‘Jesuit’ was a new word, alien and modern. To the Protestants it meant conspiracy …. To the Catholics, too, it meant something new, uncompromising zeal of the counter-Reformation …. and in his place [in place of the earlier kind of “simple, unambitious” conventional priest] the Holy Father [Gregory XIII] was sending them [the vulnerable Catholics] in their dark hour, men of new light, equipped in every Continental art [of argumentation and persuasion], armed against every frailty, bringing a new kind of intellect, new knowledge, new holiness. [Jesuit Fathers] Campion and Persons found themselves [in 1580-1581] travelling in a world that was already tremulous with expectation.[81]

With the publication of the Ten Reasons (Decem Rationes — De Haeresi Desperata) in June of 1581, says Waugh, “the first part of Campion’s task was accomplished”:

He had been in England, now, for over a year; that was his achievement, that in all her centuries the English Church was to count one year of her life by his devotion; others were now ready to take over the guard; … the Church of Augustine and Edward and Thomas would still live; for Campion there remained only the final sacrifice.[82]

And it soon came — but after much intimidation and attempted seduction, striving to allure him both to “ecclesiastical” preferment and to apostasy; after much torture and his vigorous defensive debates (amidst his great fatigue) against the heretics and apostates themselves; after the travesty and mockery, as with Christ, of his ignominious Trial and Judicial Murder.

Reporting the words of Campion’s own Jesuit superior (who was six years younger than he), Father Robert Persons, Waugh gives us a piercing anticipation:

His [Campion’s own frequented missionary] road to Harrow took him past Tyburn gibbet, and here, Persons records, “he would often pause, both because of the sign of the Cross and in honour of some martyres who had suffered there, and also because he used to say that he would have his combat there.”[83]

And he did!

Just as it was the case “in the Tenebrae of his Passion” shortly after Campion had movingly preached on the Gospel Text “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou killest the prophets” — and just before his own final capture at Lyford Grange (in Mid-July of 1581) — Campion always kept his special qualities of courtesy and pluck, constancy and high spirits.[84] Even when, as in the Holy Week monastic ceremonies of Tenebrae, the light almost goes out — but for one final, and flickering candle — so, too, with the resilient magnanimous spirit of Edmund Campion, in combination with his deep humility. Such was the nature of his higher chivalry and daring; such was the vivid poise of his supernatural hope! The hope of the Christian martyrs.

For example, when first discussing, at Uxbridge, the important text which was finally to be called the Ten Reasons [i.e., the Decem Rationes, in Defense of the Catholic Faith],

Campion had proposed [as a title] De Haeresi Desperata — “Heresy in Despair;” it was a suggestion typical of the spirit of the missionaries; on every side heresy seemed to be triumphant; the Queen’s Government was securely in power; the old Church was scattered and broken; they themselves were being hunted from house to house in daily expectation of death; their very existence was a challenge to the power of the State to destroy a living faith. Leading Catholics, such as Francis Throckmorton, were discussing a treaty [a truce, an armistice] with the Government in which they promised to compound their fines for a regular subsidy on condition of being allowed the quiet practice of their religion. All despaired of the restoration of the Church, and only begged sufferance to die with the aid of her sacraments [in the event that they were mercifully allowed to have a “prepared-for death”]. It was at this juncture that Campion gently proposed to examine the despair of heresy and show that all its violence sprang from its consciousness of failure.[85]

In one of Campion’s own letters — a report to his Jesuit Superiors — the ending likewise conveys his pluck and hope and resilient trust:

There will never want [i.e., will never lack, be lacking] in England men that will have care of their own salvation, nor [will there be lacking] such as shall advance other men’s [salvation]; neither shall this Church here ever fail so long as priests and pastors shall be found for their sheep, rage man or devil never so much.[86]

Waugh greatly appreciated what Campion himself had gratefully recorded about his eight-day visit to Saint (then Cardinal) Charles Borromeo’s own residence and household in Milan, while they were enroute back to England on their final apostolic mission. Showing his own deeper heart, Waugh, as Campion’s biographer, could therefore also write with beauty, the following words:

The pilgrims were received, entertained, blessed [as they had also been blessed by Saint Philip Neri, when they were leaving Rome] and sent on their way, and the immense household [of the Faith] went about its duties; in its splendor and order and sanctity, a microcosm of the Eternal Church.[87]

Evelyn Waugh could also vividly render his profound gratitude to Cardinal William Allen of Douai and Rheims, who was so indispensable to Edmund Campion and to the supernatural vocations of many others down the years:

The object of the college [at Douai, and later at Rheims] was primarily to supply priests for the Catholic population, for, since the bishops were all either in prison or under detention, it was impossible for them, except very rarely with the connivance of the gaolers, to ordain priests; the system of education imposed by the Government [of Queen Elizabeth] made it increasingly difficult to train candidates for orders in England; in a few years the Marian priests [the older priests ordained during the five-year reign of Queen Mary Tudor] would begin to die out and, as [William] Cecil foresaw would quietly expire with them; that Catholicism did in fact survive — reduced, impoverished, frustrated for nearly three centuries in every attempt at participation in the public services; stultified, even, by its exclusion from the Universities [primarily Oxford and Cambridge], the professions and social life; but still national; so that, at the turn of opinion in the nineteenth century, it [Catholicism] could re-emerge, not as an alien fashion brought in from abroad, but as something historically and continually English, seeking to recover only what had been taken from it by theft — [THAT] is due, more than to any other one man, to William Allen.[88]

High tribute, indeed! And where might be the strategic-minded men of the Faith today — both in Holy Orders and among the Laity — whom we, too, may join and materially support and indefatigibly defend? The analogies between our situation today and the situation of the Faith (and of the faithful) in Sixteenth-Century England should be clearer to us now near the end of this essay. But, for us today there is also the challenge of an insidious and “peaceful preliminary subversion” on “the inner front” of the Church, in addition to more openly aggressive strategic attacks (even, as with Cecil, “a reign of terror”) upon “the exterior fronts.” Perfidy itself always breaks intimate trust. As is always the case with the Lie, its most harmful social effect is the subversion of trust. Trust, once shattered, is so hard to repair, even when forgiveness is given.

But, the Saints always show us what is possible. This is their manifold encouragement to us, as it is seen in the deepening life and final blood-witness of Saint Edmund Campion. While he was studying at Douai, says Waugh, there came to him

The continuous insistent summons to the highest destiny of all. The copy of the Summa [Saint Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae] which Campion was using at the time survives at Manresa College, Roehampton; it is annotated in his own hand and opposite an argument on baptism of blood [by Saint Thomas] occurs the single mot prophète et radieux [i.e., the single prophetic and radiant word], Martyrium.[89]

By way of conclusion, Evelyn Waugh says:

And so the work of Campion continued [as in the later martyrdom of Father Henry Walpole, who had been so unexpectedly touched by a drop of Campion’s blood]; and so it continues. He was one of a host of martyrs, each, in their several ways, gallant, and venerable; some performed more sensational feats of adventure, some sacrificed more conspicuous positions in the world, many suffered crueller tortures, but to his own [generation], Campion’s fame had turned with unique warmth and brilliance; it was his genius to express, in sentences [with a unique power of style, recalling Lactantius’ words and Saint Helena!] that have resounded across the centuries, the spirit of chivalry in which they suffered, to typify in his zeal, his innocence, his inflexible purpose, the pattern which they followed. Years later, in the sombre, sceptical atmosphere of the eighteenth century, Bishop Challoner set himself to sift out and collect the English martyrology. The Catholic cause was very near to extinction in England …. It was then, when the whole gallant sacrifice appeared to have been in vain, that the story of the martyrs [and Edmund Campion, especially] lent them strength. We are the heirs of their conquest, and enjoy, at our ease [perhaps too much, or slothfully so?] the plenty which they died to win. Today a chapel stands by the site of Tyburn; in Oxford, the city he [Campion] loved best, a noble college [Campion Hall] has risen? dedicated in Campion’s honour.[90]

May we all, therefore, in a fuller sense — and without any spiritual sloth or inordinately self-satisfied complacency — become “Campionists”[91] and come to imitate (after our own fitting and disciplined preparation) “the spirit of chivalry in which he suffered.”

Let us not, like the “Cultural Relativists” and “Liberal Historicists” today, consider, by way of trivialization and condescension, that Campion’s response was, perhaps, once an “appropriate response,” but is no longer so now, in the new age of “ecumenism” and “inclusiveness” and “convergence.”

Let us instead, too, rise up to the higher standards of our Faith — and live up to the graces we may receive — with the radiant spirit of Campion’s chivalry and spiritual childhood.

For, Our Lord came that we might have life, and have it more abundantly. The Christian Soldiers, all of us, must therefore grow up into Spiritual Childhood — which is an abundant challenge, too!

Saint Augustine of Hippo said that God created us without our co-operation, but He will not save us (or even justify us) without our co-operation.[92]

Saint Edmund Campion, Martyr, pray for us — especially for Evelyn Waugh who so gratefully cherished you.

Fifteen years after Waugh had first published Edmund Campion (1935), he published Helena (1950). In this historical novel, he presents, on the Feast of the Epiphany, a Mother’s Prayer for Her Son, and for all other “Late-Comers” to Christ, like Helena herself — and Edmund Campion, too:

While addressing the Three Magi, with whom she closely identified, who were also “Late-Comers” to Christ, Helena memorably says:

“You are my especial patrons,” said Helena, “and patrons of all late-comers, of all who have a tedious journey to make to the truth, of all who are confused with knowledge and speculation, of all who through politeness make themselves partners in guilt, of all who stand in danger by reason of their talents.

“Dear cousins [as my Patron Saints], pray for me,” said Helena, “and for my poor overloaded son [i.e., Constantine the Roman Emperor]. May he, too, before the end find kneeling-space in the straw [i.e., beside the creche of Christ]. Pray for the great, lest they perish utterly ….

“For His sake who did not reject your curious gifts, pray always for the learned, the oblique, the delicate. Let them not be quite forgotten at the Throne of God when the simple come into their kingdom.”[93]

–FINIS–

© 2006 Robert Hickson

CODA

By way of further encouragement, and as an illustration of Evelyn Waugh’s special charm and comic touch of gracious irony throughout his inspiring, but very serious, book on Edmund Campion, this short addition proposes to do three things: (1) to give Campion’s own description of the Irish, selected from his own History of Ireland, which he wrote while in Dublin (late 1579-March 1572); (2) to give Waugh’s characterization of a very special man, the “ever impetuous” Mr. Thomas Pounde (the man who wisely suggested “Campion’s Brag” to him and later even became a Jesuit himself!); and finally, (3) to give Waugh’s depiction of a certain Father Bosgrave, S.J., who had been surprisingly sent from the Polish Province of the Jesuits, in 1580, to England, and sent for his health and for some rest and recreation!

Campion’s description of the “mere Irish,” especially fitting to be read on Saint Patrick’s Day, was written before he became a Catholic. It is charming, and perhaps even a little provocative! In Campion’s own words, Ireland was “much beholden to God for suffering them to be conquered, whereby many of their enormities were cured, and more might be, would [they] themselves be pliable”![94] The further “flavour” of Campion’s vivid history of the Irish people may be savoured, with cheerfulness, from the following two excerpts, which were presented — and warmly appreciated — by Waugh, as we may well imagine:

“The people are thus inclined: religious, frank, amorous, ireful, sufferable, of pains infinite, very glorious [perhaps like a “miles gloriosus“!]; many sorcerers, excellent horsemen, delighted with wars, great almsgivers, passing in hospitality. The lewder sort, both clerks and laymen, are sensual and loose to lechery above measure. The same, being virtuously bred up and reformed, are mirrors of holiness and austerity, that other nations [including the English!] retain but a show or shadow of devotion in comparison of them.”[95]

Now comes Campion’s brief description of the men of Ireland, and of their women:

Clear men they are of skin and hue, but of themselves careless and bestial. Their women are well favoured, clear coloured, fair headed, big and large, suffered from their infancy to grow at will, nothing curious of their feature and proportion of body“!![96]

There follows, now, Waugh’s own description of Mr. Thomas Pounde, “impetuous as ever,” and a worthy future Jesuit:[97]

They [Father Campion, Father Persons, and the others] arrived at nightfall [in Hoxton, near London, to the north] and were about to start out again the next morning when they were met by Mr. Thomas Pounde, who had slipped prison [in the Marshalsea] and ridden after them. Pounde was a devout and intelligent man, of pronounced eccentricity. The circumstances of his religious conversion were remarkable. He had been born with wealth and powerful family connections, and for the earlier part of his life lived modishly and extravagantly at Court; his particular delight was in amateur theatricals, for which the fashion of the reign gave him ample scope. On one occasion he performed an unusually intricate pas seul before the Queen; it made a success with her and she called for a repetition. He complied, but, this time, missed his footing and fell full length on the ball-room floor. The Queen was more than delighted, gave out one of her uproarious bursts of laughter, kicked him, and cried: “Arise, Sir Ox.” Pounde picked himself up, bowed, backed out among the laughing courtiers with the words: “Sic transit gloria mundi,” and from that evening devoted himself entirely to a life of austere religious observance. Various attempts, friendly and penal, failed to draw him back to his former habits, and in 1574 he was put in prison, after which date he was seldom at liberty, except on rare occasions like the present one.[98]

Finally, with regard to another Jesuit, we may savour Evelyn Waugh’s quite inimitable irony and comic style (his tonal diction, word order, and sense of incongruity): the case of Father Campion’s contemporary, Father Bosgrave, S.J., who, coming from Poland, had a surprise visit to England! Waugh’s presentation of his case is, as follows:

There was also the case of Father Bosgrave, another Jesuit, who had joined the Society sixteen years before and had since been working in Poland, far out of touch with the course of events in England. Now, at his superiors’ bidding, he returned to England, sent, by a singular irony, for the good of his health [in 1580!]. He was arrested immediately he landed, and taken for examination to the Bishop of London, who asked him whether he would go to church. “I know no cause to the contrary,” he replied, and did so, to the great pleasure of the Protestant clergy, who widely published the news of his recantation. The Synod [of Catholics, at Southwark] had only time to express their shame at his action before it broke up. The Catholics all shunned him, and Father Bosgrave, who retained only an imperfect knowledge of English, wandered about lonely and bewildered. Eventually he met a Catholic relative who explained to him roundly the scandal which he was causing. Father Bosgrave was amazed, saying that on the Continent scruples of this kind were not understood, but that a Catholic might, from reasonable curiosity, frequent a Jewish synagogue or an Anabaptist meeting-house if he felt so disposed [i.e., without thereby being guilty of an illicit participatio in sacris, or worse!]. As soon as it was made clear to him that the Protestants had been claiming him as an apostate, he was roused to action, and, saying that he would speedily clear up that misunderstanding, wrote a letter to the Bishop of London which had the effect of procuring his instant imprisonment. He was confined first in the Marshalsea and later in the Tower, from which he was moved only to his trial and condemnation for high treason, a sentence that was later commuted to banishment. He then returned to Poland and resumed his duties there, having benefited less by his prolonged stay in England than his superiors had hoped.[99]

APPENDIX

1540 — Campion, the future Protomartyr of the English Jesuits, is born in  London, on 25 January — a man in whom, finally, as in all the Saints,

“the grace of Christ is victorious” (Father Constantine Belisarius of Front  Royal).

1555-1569 — Campion is at Oxford University from the age of fifteen until almost  thirty (Queen Mary Tudor dies in 1558; Elizabeth ascends to the throne.)

Late 1569-March 1572 — Campion settles in Ireland, as a scholar, in the Anglo-Irish home of one  of his former students at Oxford. He writes his The History of Ireland there, in English, not Latin. (He knew no Gaelic.)

Early June 1572 — Campion’s departure from England, after only a brief return to his  homeland; and he is then enroute to the Douai Seminary in Flanders,  under Dr. William Allen.

June 1572-January 1573 — Campion is in residence and study at Douai Seminary, in Flanders.

February 1573-April 1573 — His arrival in Rome and subsequent departure for Vienna, Brunn, and  Prague after being accepted into the Austrian Province of the Society of  Jesus.

May 1573-25 March 1580 — Campion’s six years of residence in Prague (with a short, initial period  in Brunn) in the Jesuit Noviciate; and as a concurrent Professor of  Rhetoric and later a Professor of Philosophy, as well as a producer of  dramas, especially tragedies, for the stage. He was ordained as a priest  and said his first Mass on 8 September 1578, in Prague.

9-18 April 1580 — Campion is in Rome again, preparing for the Mission back to England.  He takes leave of, and receives a blessing from, Saint Philip Neri himself.

18 April-15 June 1580 — Campion is enroute to Rheims, France by way of Florence, Parma,  Milan (with eight days at the residence of Saint Charles Borromeo), and  then on to Turin, into the Savoy, and through Geneva itself (“the home of  Calvinism”), where they had several courageous and even humorous  experiences!

24 June 1580 — Campion lands at Dover, England “before it was daylight.”

29 June 1580 — Feast of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. Campion celebrates Mass in  London, preaching on the theme “Tu es Christus, Filius vivi Dei” and “Tu es Petrus.”

Late July 1580 — Campion writes in his own hand the Manifesto of his mission, his  Challenge, “Campion’s Brag.”

27 June 1581 — Campion’s Decem Rationes (Ten Reasons, which was originally to have  been called De Haeresi Desperata — Heresy in Despair) is placed, in  multiple copies, in the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin at Oxford  University — intentionally timed for distribution at the University  Commencement ceremonies.

16-17 July 1581 — Campion is captured at Lyford Grange, near Lyford, in Berkshire.

20 July 1581 — Campion is enroute to London as a prisoner, by way of Abington and  Henley, to the Tower of London.

End of July 1581 — Campion, after four days in solitary confinement, is rowed upstream  from the Tower of London to the Leicester House, for an interview with  Queen Elizabeth herself, in the presence of her advisers: the Earl of  Leicester (Robert Dudley), William Cecil (Lord Burghley), and the Earl  of Bedford (Francis Russell), who was Cecil’s Brother-in-Law.

5 Days Later, 1581 — Leicester and Burghley, having failed to corrupt him, sign the official  warrant to put Campion “to the torture,” to include “the Rack,” in the  Tower of London.

September-November 1581 — Campion endures, amidst great fatigue and pain, four Theological  Conferences and Examinations before the Anglican Clergy, so that  “Campion’s challenge, contained in the Brag and the Ten Reasons, should  not go unanswered” (Waugh).

14 November 1581 — Campion’s Trial for Treason commences, along with the trial of seven  other priests, with their formal Arraignment. “A majority in the [Privy]  Council had already decided in favour of Campion’s execution” (Waugh).  It was, therefore, to be a “Mock-Trial” — a fake and a travesty.

20 November 1581 — The Trial for Treason formally took place. “It was now abundantly  clear that there was to be no fair trial.” (Waugh) Campion was found  guilty and condemned to go the gallows and to the butcher-work that  follows.

21 Nov.-1 Dec. 1581 — “Campion lay in irons [in the Tower] for eleven days between  his trial and his execution,” during which, unsuccessfully, “his  sister tried to get him to renounce his Faith” (Waugh).

1 December 1581 — At Tyburn, Campion is martyred for the Faith, with his companions,  Father Sherwin and Father Briant. “It was raining; it had been raining for  some days, and the roads of the city were foul with mud” and “Every  circumstance of Campion’s execution was vile and gross” (Waugh).

1886  Edmund Campion is beatified by Pope Leo XIII.

25 October 1970  Edmund Campion is canonized by Pope Paul VI, and is given a Feast Day  of 1 December, the day of his courageous and humiliating Martyrdom.

Pater Edmundus Campianus, Martyr


[1] Evelyn Waugh, Edmund Campion (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946), p. 160. This 1946 edition is the second edition, the first edition being published in 1935 with notes and bibliography, which are unaccountably missing from the 1946 edition. His book was gratefully dedicated to Father Martin D’Arcy, “to whom, under God, I owe my faith.”

[2] Evelyn Waugh, Scott-King’s Modern Europe (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1949), p. 89.

[3] See A Bitter Trial: Evelyn Waugh and John Cardinal Heenan on the Liturgical Changes (edited by Scott M.P. Reid) (London, England: The Saint Austin Press, 1996). Waugh was sixty-two years of age when he died on 10 April 1966.

[4] Evelyn Waugh, Edmund Campion (1946 edition), pp. 83 and 32, respectively.

[5] Ibid., pp. 83-84 — my emphasis added. While Campion was at the Douai Seminary in Flanders (June 1572 — January 1573), “his mind turned more and more towards the selfless discipline and vigilance of the rule of St. Ignatius,” says Waugh, “to the complete surrender sought in the prayer ‘Suscipe, Domine, universam meam libertatem. Accipe memoriam, intellectum atque voluntatem omnem….’ Only thus [thought Campion], if ever at all, could he be worthy of the hangman and the butcher.” (p. 67 — my emphasis added.) Especially “as his course of studies drew to their close,” Edmund Campion was “preparing himself laboriously in self-knowledge and the love of God, to become capable of the lowest service” (p. 67 — my emphasis added) and to become a Jesuit “if God willed it.” Thus he left Dr. Allen for Rome soon after 21 January 1573, after he took his degree at Douai, a Bachelor of Arts in Theology.

[6] Ibid., p. 122.

[7] Ibid., pp. 122-123 — my emphasis added.

[8] Ibid., p. 123 — my emphasis added.

[9] Evelyn Waugh, Helena (1950), pp. 115-116 — my emphasis added. The phrase about how the historian Gibbon “tried to sap a solemn Creed with a solemn sneer” has been attributed to Lord Byron (George Gordon) (1788-1824) — the English Romantic poet. See Edward Gibbon’s Chapters XV and XVI, for example, in Volume I of his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. His artfully mocking and unmistakably sabotaging Chapter XV is entitled “The Progress of the Christian Religion — Sentiments, Manners, Numbers and Conditions of the primitive Christians.” Chapter XVI is “The Conduct of the Roman Government towards the Christians, from the Reign of Nero to that of Constantine.”

[10] Ibid., p. 74.

[11] Ibid., p. 61.

[12] Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited (Middlesex, England: Penguin Books Ltd, 1973 — 2nd Revised Edition of 1945), p. 7 (Preface).

[13] Evelyn Waugh, Edmund Campion (1946), p. x (Preface).

[14] Richard Simpson, Edmund Campion: A Biography (London: John Hodges, 1896)

[15] Evelyn Waugh, Edmund Campion (1946), p. x (Preface) — my emphasis added.

[16] Evelyn Waugh, Helena (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1950), p. 223 — my emphasis added.

[17] Evelyn Waugh, Edmund Campion (1946), p. x (Preface) — my emphasis added.

[18] Ibid., p. 236.

[19] Ibid., p. 238 — my emphasis added.

[20] Ibid., pp. 48-49 — my emphasis added.

[21] Evelyn Waugh, Edmund Campion (1946), p. 46 — my emphasis added. (I think, IBID is enough!)

[22] Ibid., p. 48 — my emphasis added.

[23] Ibid., pp. 46-47 — my emphasis added.

[24] Ibid., pp. 238-239 — my emphasis added.

[25] Ibid., pp. 5 and 6.

[26] Ibid., p. 5.

[27] Ibid., pp. 5-6 — my emphasis added.

[28] Evelyn Waugh, Helena (1950), pp. 185 and 186 — my emphasis added.

[29] Ibid., p. 186 — my emphasis added.

[30] Ibid., p. 131.

[31] Ibid., p. 100 — my emphasis added.

[32] Evelyn Waugh, Edmund Campion (1946), pp. 11, 22.

[33] Ibid., p. 21 — my emphasis added.

[34] Ibid., p. 27.

[35] Ibid., p. 26.

[36] Ibid., p. 27.

[37] Ibid. — my emphasis added.

[38] Ibid., p. 28.

[39] Ibid., pp. 29, 29-30.

[40] Ibid., p. 28 — my emphasis added.

[41] Ibid., p. 30.

[42] Ibid. — my emphasis added.

[43] Ibid., p. 52 — my emphasis added.

[44] Ibid., p. 65 — my emphasis added.

[45] Waugh, when speaking of Campion’s earlier scholarly aims and hopes for the future, after he had almost finished his eloquent History of Ireland (March 1572), said the following: “Admirable prose, redolent of the security and humour in which it was written; tender and big with promise for the future …. But his happy interlude proved brief [1569-early 1572] and all the warm prospects illusory.” (Ibid., p. 44 — my emphasis added.)

[46] Ibid., p. 65 — my emphasis added.

[47] Ibid., pp. 65-66 — my emphasis added.

[48] Ibid., p. 58.

[49] Ibid., pp. 66-67 — my emphasis added.

[50] Waugh earlier had referred to the remaining potential “to appeal to the old loyalties that lay deep in the heart of the people,” and the Jesuits’ capacity “to infuse their own zeal into the passive conservatism over which the innovators had won a victory too bloodless to be decisive.” (Ibid., pp. 64-65 — my emphasis added.)

[51] Ibid., pp. 230-231 — my emphasis added. Blessed Henry Walpole (as of 1960) was also, it appears, canonized along with Campion and other English martyrs, in October 1970.

[52] Evelyn Waugh, Edmund Campion (1946), pp. 14 and 12, respectively.

[53] Ibid., p. 17.

[54] Ibid. — my emphasis added.

[55] Ibid. — my emphasis added.

[56] Ibid., p. 14.

[57] Ibid., p. 17.

[58] Ibid., p. 223 — my emphasis added. Speaking earlier of Campion’s family, Waugh revealed this sad fact, namely: “At an earlier age his education had separated him from his own family; though he had two brothers of his own and a sister, they seemed never to have played any part in his life” (Ibid., p. 37 — my emphasis added).

[59] Ibid., pp. 223-224.

[60] Ibid., p. 224 — my emphasis added. Earlier, soon after Campion’s capture, Eliot, his capturer, had indignantly and presumptuously said to the priest: “Mr. Campion, you look cheerfully upon everyone but me. I know you are angry at me for this work;” and then “Campion turned his eyes on him” and said: “God forgive thee, Eliot, for so judging of me; I forgive thee and in token thereof , I drink to thee.” Then, after raising his cup, Campion added these words, but “more gravely:” “Yea, and if thou repent and come to confession, I will absolve thee; but large penance must thou have.” (see Ibid., p. 180)

[61] Ibid., pp. 21-22 — my emphasis added.

[62] Ibid., p. 22 — my emphasis added.

[63] Ibid., pp. 22 and 23 — my emphasis added. Waugh also said that, as soon as the accession of Elizabeth had occurred, in 1558, “The best men, like William Allen, had left the University and the country” (Ibid., p. 23), going first to Louvain and then to Douai and Rheims. Men like Allen did not linger to compromise, or to be tempted to compromise.

[64] Ibid., pp. 28-29 — my emphasis added.

[65] Ibid., p. 23 — my emphasis added. The phrase that “Calvary is happening” comes from Father Constantine Belisarius, a former Jesuit novice and now an Melkite Priest in Front Royal, Virginia, in the Community of “the Holy Family in Exile and the Holy Innocents.” While offering the solemn liturgy of Saint Basil recently, he spoke of the essence of the Mass, the sacrifice of “God in the Flesh,” who has a “Face,” a photograph of which we may see on “the Shroud of Turin.”

[66] Ibid., p. 26.

[67] Ibid., pp. 25 and 116-117 (Waugh’s summary of the Catholics’ legal position in England at the time).

[68] Ibid., p. 119.

[69] Ibid., pp. 30, 31-32 — my emphasis added.

[70] Ibid., p. 30 — my emphasis added.

[71] Ibid., p. 51 — my emphasis added.

[72] Ibid.

[73] Ibid., p. 26 — my emphasis added. In 1568, Mary Stuart taking refuge in England, was imprisoned there, as well, and later executed by Elizabeth.

[74] Ibid., p. 46 — my emphasis added.

[75] Ibid., pp. 69-70 — my emphasis added.

[76] Ibid., p. 71, 214, 214, respectively — my emphasis added.

[77] Ibid., p. 34.

[78] Ibid., p. 147 — my emphasis added.

[79] Ibid., pp. 117-118 — my emphasis added.

[80] Ibid., p. 120 — my emphasis added.

[81] Ibid., pp. 140, 141, 142 — my emphasis added.

[82] Ibid., p. 164.

[83] Ibid. — my emphasis added.

[84] Ibid., p. 171.

[85] Ibid., p. 157 — my emphasis added. Former Jesuit, Father Vincent P. Micelli (known to his friends as “Pete”), once said to me at Christendom College, in the mid-1980’s, the following words, when we were discussing his then-forthcoming book, The Roots of Violence: “Yea — the roots of violence is the hatred of the truth.” (He unforgettably spoke in his very special “New York City accent,” calling me, too, by my sobriquet!)

[86] Ibid., pp. 149 and 232 — quoted twice in Waugh’s book and emphatically also at the very end — my emphasis added.

[87] Ibid., p. 98 — my emphasis added.

[88] Ibid., pp. 58-59 — my emphasis added. Dr. William Cardinal Allen, himself quite strategically alert and resourceful, did much to thwart and deflect “the steps by which Cecil destroyed Catholicism in England” (William Thomas Walsh). It appears, however, that Evelyn Waugh did not know of the work of William Thomas Walsh, the Catholic Historian and Professor of English Literature, not even after 1935. That is to say, not even after Walsh’s death in 1949, although his great work, Philip II, first published in 1937, might have been of great help and inspiration to Waugh. In this masterpiece, Phillip II, William Thomas Walsh (1891-1949) has an important Chapter XVI, entitled “Freemasonry in the Sixteenth Century.” This Chapter XVI — which is the fruit of much original research, also in learned Jewish sources — is, in a sense, a complement to Walsh’s earlier Chapter XII (“William Cecil and His Friends”), which itself shows how “the so-called English Reformation begins at Cambridge, especially after Erasmus arrived in 1511 — most especially at Cambridge University and the White Horse Inn. Walsh shows how many of the key thinkers and later leading actors “all belong to Cecil’s political machine,” adding “Of this powerful political machine Cecil was always the mastermind” (pp. 212, 215). Moreover, “He [Cecil] had the advantage of working in the dark, and he had a complete organization of his own ready to take over gradually the functions of government” (p. 212) — “Such were the men who arose out of obscurity, most of them, to destroy the Church, the ancient nobility of England, and the English peasantry; to gain world power for their class …; and above all, to throw the weight of England, on the eve of her emergence as a world power in trade and politics, on the anti-Christian side” (p. 216). That is to say, “to raise up an anti-Catholic Empire” (p. 635). In Chapter XVI, which is effectively an analysis of occult Judeo-Masonry in the Sixteenth Century, William Thomas Walsh shows how Philip II himself gradually discovers the real nature of the government he has helped to set up under Queen Elizabeth in England. He later also shows that, especially “in the hands of the Marranos,” since “Marrano families from Spain and Portugal formed a vast network all over the world” (p. 634), “Under cover of these very profitable business activities the international Jews were becoming the backbone of the English spy system, one of the most elaborate and effective that the world has ever known” (p. 635). King Philip II soon discovered that “He had against him, in singular unity, all the elements of the international and mystical opposition to the Church of Christ” (p. 639). See William Thomas Walsh, Phillip II (New York: Sheed and Ward, Inc., 1937 — reprinted by TAN Books, Inc., Rockford, Illinois, 1987) — Chapter XII — “William Cecil and His Friends” [1559], pp. 208-231; Chapter XVI — “Freemasonry in the Sixteenth Century” — “Protestantism introduced by a small well-organized minority of un-English character and foreign associations,” pp. 303-323. For our further reflection, William Thomas Walsh also gives us a well-deliberated and incisive generalization and then leaves us with a strategically important question, as follows: “In the long history of the anti-Christian Revolution nothing is more obvious than the fact that each of its victories was won by a small highly-organized and partly secret minority in the midst of a large but poorly-organized majority” (p. 211). And then comes his still-important, strategic question: “How did it happen that at a precise favorable moment [i.e., during the rule of Queen Elizabeth and William Cecil] there were so many of them, of the same astute [i.e., “cunning”] and avaricious sort, with the same bitter resentment toward the Catholic Church, and acting with a remarkable spirit of collaboration, to rise up, seize or steal power, and build an empire on the ruins of the English Church?” (p. 216)

[89] Ibid., p. 64 — my emphasis added.

[90] Ibid., pp. 231-232 — my emphasis added.

[91] Ibid., p. 11. “At the age of seventeen he [Campion] had become a Fellow of St. John’s, and almost immediately attracted round him a group of pupils over whom he exerted an effortless and comprehensive influence; they crowded his lectures, imitated his habits of speech, his mannerisms and his clothes, and were proud to style themselves ‘Campionists.’ (Ibid., pp. 10-11 — my emphasis added).

[92] See, among other places, Saint Augustine’s Commentary on the Gospel of John, In Johannis Evangelium LXXII (Patrologia Latina 35:1823): “Qui creavit te sine te, non justificabit te sine te.”

[93] Evelyn Waugh, Helena (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1950), p. 224.

[94] Evelyn Waugh, Edmund Campion (1946), pp. 40-41 — Waugh is quoting Campion’s The History of Ireland, composed in English, not, as usual, in Latin.

[95] Ibid., p. 42 — my emphasis added.

[96] Ibid. — my emphasis added.

[97] In the learned notes of Waugh’s original 1935 edition (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1935), p. 162 (Footnote # 8), we read, as follows: “He [Pounde] desired to become a Jesuit and the General, accepting his imprisonment [in the Marshalsea] in lieu of the [Jesuit] novitiate, admitted him to his vows.” (My emphasis added)

[98] Ibid., p. 133 — my emphasis added. On the following page (p. 134), Waugh emphasizes the importance of Pounde, especially on that occasion: “He came with a very wise suggestion,” which was then drawn up by Campion, by hand and in a very short while, and became his famous Manifesto — his Challenge — which is usually now known as “Campion’s Brag.”

[99] Ibid., pp. 129-131 — my emphasis added.

In My End Is My Beginning: Maurice Baring’s 1931 Novel on Mary Queen of Scots

Dr. Robert Hickson

                                                                                 7 October 2021

Feast of the Holy Rosary

             Epigraphs

We are to live and die supernaturally alive in a state of sanctifying grace.” (Solemn words often spoken by Father John A. Hardon, S.J. in his searching conversations with  R. D. Hickson down the  years.)

***

Gratia est Gloria incepta; Gloria est Gratia perfecta.” (A Dominican-Thomistic saying, as employed in the writings and oral words of Father Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.)

***

“Thereupon the [hostile Protestant] Earl of Kent said to her [who was then still a captive Queen in early February 1587: namely, Mary Queen of Scots (8 December 1542–8 February 1587)]: ‘Your life will be the death, and your death the life of our [Reformed Protestant] religion.’ And the Queen [Mary] said: ‘I was far from thinking myself worthy of such a death, and I humbly receive it as a token. I must trust in the mercy of God to excuse the want of such rites as His Holy Church commandeth.’” (Maurice Baring, In My End Is My Beginning (1931)—(New York: Alfred A. Knopf, pages 299-300)—my emphasis added)

***

“I [Ethel Smyth] imagine [as an artist and as a non-Catholic friend of Maurice Baring] this book will have had a resounding success among professors, record compilers, dictionary architects, and members of boards whose duty it is to guard the entrance of Scotch Universities. It might also be invaluable reading for persons marooned on desert islands. But for ordinary mortals it is a stiff proposition until you come to the indescribably harrowing thirty pages ascribed to Jane Kennedy [Queen Mary’s personal servant], who is supposed to have forwarded them to Mary Seton. This report describes the last weeks of [Queen] Mary Stuart’s sojourn in this world, and in its restraint and piercing simplicity is the sort of thing no one but Baring could have written.” (Ethel Smyth, Maurice Baring (London: Heinemann Ltd., 1938), page 288—my emphasis added.)

***

Shortly after first meeting Jesuit Father John A. Hardon in the autumn of 1980, I had occasion to read Maurice Baring’s well-researched historical novel, In My End Is My Beginning (1931) with its mysterious and poetic title. For there soon comes forth, upon greater reflection, the paradox of “endings with beginnings” along with a specific question: “What comes after death?” In other words, “We die and then what?” (Mary Queen of Scots, herself a Catholic, also had much time and occasion to examine and answer these profound and final questions—as did my own Catholic mentors–Father John Hardon and Professor Josef Pieper.)

The Catholic German philosopher Josef Pieper even once discussed some of these final matters during my visit to his home. One of them memorably deals with his active group of friends called the Bona Mors Group, also the Society of a Bonae Mortis –the Society of a Good Death. All of the members of Bona Mors were on the alert for any sudden or protracted dangers of death, to which they were promptly to respond with the organizations and initiatives with good friends: first of all to have a good Priest with offering of the Mass and the Sacraments of Penance and Extreme Unction, with Sanctifying Grace and with the giving of the Viaticum, if possible—as well as some of the more secular assistance to families and other close friends. (We shall now come to see—in the last chapter of Maurice Baring’s vivid yet harrowing historical study–all of the deprivations Mary Queen of Scots was afflicted with as a Roman Catholic in a Reformed Protestant land with an oligarchic government.)

As we shall probably soon come to realize in various ways, Mary Stuart Queen of Scots was herself in English captivity for 19 years, from 1568-1587, before being beheaded on 8 February 1587. She bore herself so well in the preparations for her rapidly announced—carried out early in 1587—Execution by the progressive English Protestants who, as they still manifestly presented it,  strongly reviled how Queen Mary Stuart both loyally believed, and lived out, the Catholic Faith.

An Attentive Reading of the Book’s Last Pages (pages 297-312) Concerned with the Presence and Deprivations of the Catholic Faith and Its Sacramental Culture: “Report Sent by Jane Kennedy to Mary Seton (Fotheringay Castle: 8-19 February 1587.[1])

Our closer attentiveness to the novel’s final section will present the format as it was structured in the original report to Mary Seton, and sent by Jane Kennedy who was herself the intimate, loyal, and longstanding  servant to Queen Mary Stuart even unto the Queen’s unjust death by beheading at the English scaffold at Fotheringay on 8 February 1587, one year before the comparably tragic Spanish Armada of 1588.

Here is how Jane Kennedy begins and sustains her report:

The Earl of Shrewsbury and the Earl of Kent….[among others], arrived at the Castle [Fotheringay] two or three hours before mid-day, and demanded audience [with Mary Queen of Scots] in the afternoon. And the Queen, being indisposed, was preparing to go to bed; but they  answering that it was a matter which would brook no delay, the Queen called for her mantle….Thereupon, …Mr. Beale, after first showing to the Queen a parchment, to which was appended the Great Seal of England in yellow wax, he [Beale, then with “the two Earls” present] began to read to the Queen the Commission, that the next day in the morning they would proceed to the execution, admonishing her to be ready between seven and eight of the clock. (297—my emphasis added)

Immediately Mary Stuart Queen of Scots was to respond, with gratitude, as follows:

The Queen, hearing that with an unchanged countenance, made the sign of the Cross, and said: “I thank you for such welcome news. You will do me a great good in withdrawing me from this world, out of which I am very glad to go, on account of the miseries I see in it, and of being myself in continual affliction. I am of no good and no use to anyone. I have looked to this, and have expected it day by day for eighteen years [of her own various captivities]. I never thought that my sister [half-sister Elizabeth I], the Queen of England, would have consented to my death…; but since her pleasure is such, death to me shall be most welcome and surely that soul were not worthy of the eternal joys of heaven, whose body cannot endure one stroke of a headsman.” And, laying her hand upon an English New Testament which lay upon the table by her, she said most solemnly: “I have never either desired the death of the Queen [Elizabeth I] or endeavoured to bring it about, or that [death] of any person.”

The Earl of Kent objected that it was a Catholic Bible, the Papist version, and therefore the oath was of no avail; whereat the Queen [Mary] replied: “If I swear on the Book which I believe to be the true version, will not your Lordship believe my oath more than if I were to swear upon a translation in which I do not believe?” (297-298—my emphasis added)

Queen Mary then sincerely “entreated” her stern and impatient visitors “to grant her a little space and leisure that she might make her will and give order for her affairs” (298), and the Earl of Shrewsbury at once answered her:

No, no, Madam, you must die. Make you ready between seven and eight of the clock in the morning. We will not prolong one minute for your pleasure.” And to the Earl of Kent, who was desirous of giving her spirit constancy to affront this death, and who urged her [ironically so] to confess her faults and to embrace the true religion [progressive Protestantism, not Catholicism], she answered that she had no need of solace as coming from him, but she desired of him, if he would administer comfort to the spirit to let her have conference with her [lay] almoner [who, as a distributor of mercy, was here not an Ordained Priest however], so that she might receive the Sacrament of Confession, which would be a favour that would surpass any other; and as for her body, she did not believe them to be so inhuman to deny her the right of sepulture. [….] They denied her [even Kent!] her Confessor, and offered her [instead, a Protestant Bishop, namely] the Dean of Peterborough, one of the most learned in Europe, to comfort her, from whom she might learn regarding her salvation and the mysteries of the true religion [i.e., not Catholicism]. She said, they said, remained in that in which she had been instructed in her youth, for want of someone to show her the truth; and now that she had but a few hours to remain in this world she must think of her  conscience and recognize the true religion, and not remain longer in these follies and abominations of Popery. (298-299—my emphasis added)

To which deft ironies we shall warmly resound, if we savor her pluck and maturity:

And the Queen [of the Scots] said: “I have not only heard or read the words of the most learned men of the Catholic religion, but also of the Protestant religion. I have spoken with them and heard them preach, but I have been unable to find anything in them which would turn me from my first belief. Having lived till now in a true Faith, this is not the time, but, on the contrary, it is the very moment when it is most needful that I should remain firm and constant, as I intend to do. Rather than being unfaithful to it, I would wish to lose ten thousand lives, if I had as many. For my consolation I beg you let me see my own priest, so that he may help me to prepare the better for death. I wish for no other.” Whereupon the Earl of Kent said to her: “It is our duty to prevent such [Catholic] abominations, which offend God.” And he pressed her to see the [Protestant] Dean. (299—my emphasis added)

Queen Mary of Scotland then again promptly replies to the Earl of Kent and his procations:

“I will do no such thing. I having nothing to do with him, and I neither wish to see him nor to listen to him. It surprises me that at the end, when I have most need of my priest, they refuse him to me; I had asked to have him especially to assist me at my last end. The Queen of England had granted my request, and had allowed him to come to me; and since then they [such as William Cecil and his son Robert] have taken him from me, and prevented him coming at the most necessary time.”

Thereupon the Earl of Kent said to her: “Your life will be the death [of our religion], and your death [will be] the life of our [Protestant] religion.” And the Queen said: “I was far from thinking myself worthy of such a death, and I humbly receive it as a token. I must trust in the mercy of God to excuse the want of such rites [hence all of the seven sacraments with their sanctifying grace] as His Holy Church commandeth.”  (299-300—my emphasis added)

A short time later Queen Mary said to one of her servants, Bourgoigne:

Have you not observed how powerful and great the truth is? For the common report is I am to die for conspiring the Queen of England’s death; but the Earl of Kent told me notwithstanding even now that the fear they have of my [Catholic] religion is the cause of my death.” (301—my emphasis)

After Queen Mary had gone to rest on that night before her own beheading, Jane Kennedy made an observation, and then said:

And when Jane Kennedy came to [reading aloud about] the penitent thief upon the Cross [a passage in the Queen’s Book of Hours], the Queen bade [a further reading and said]….“In truth  he was a great sinner, but not so great as I have been,”….Thereupon her eyes closed, yet the servants who sat round the bed for the last time thought that she slept not, albeit her eyes were closed, and her face was tranquil, and she seemed to be laughing with the angels. And from without [her castle window] came a noise of knocking and hammering, for they were making ready the scaffold. (302—my emphasis added)

Now we may see the Queen’s surprising private disclosure and request:

“And this I give to you,” she said, speaking to Jane Kennedy, “for I would receive this last service from you.” Whereupon she retired into her private oratory, where she received from her own hands a Consecrated Host which the Pope had sent to her to use, should the necessity come about. And when she had ended her prayers, she finished her letter to the [Catholic] King of France. (303—my emphasis added)

Perhaps the Queen, in the emergency, even received the Host from the hand of her own humble servant, Jane Kennedy. Such was her “last service” (303) that she was invited to give to her Queen. (The language of the pronouns here is somewhat ambiguous, do we agree? Both interpretations, however, are deft and gracious.)

Shortly after the presented reception of the Consecrated Host, the Queen makes some further observations of her own history, to include her resolute and distilled principles, and her final actions and sacred affirmations:

When all was arranged [her Legal Will and, for example, various and symbolic little gifts of gratitude], she spoke with her Ladies, and bade them farewell, consoling them and saying that the greatness of this world was as nothing, and that she should serve as an example thereof to all upon earth, from the mightiest unto the most humble; for, having been Queen of France and of Scotland, one by birth and the other by marriage, after having been tossed about in honour and greatness, in triumph and vexation, now enjoying the one, now suffering the other, she was to be put in the hands of the headsman, albeit innocent; and this was nevertheless her solace, that the most capital charge against her was that she was to die for the Catholic religion, which she would never abandon until her latest breath, since she had been baptized in it. (303—my emphasis added)

May we be blessed to have such a prepared-for death, and such a Good Death, with a Viaticum, and in the state of Sanctifying Grace.

Our author, Maurice Baring, has once again deftly taught us many wise things—and he has done them so subtly and modestly and with a sustained, true and grateful humility. On 1 February 1909—on the Vigil of Candlemas–he had become a convert to the Roman Catholic Faith and Sacramental Church. He was also then a very grateful man indeed—as his later autobiography openly displays it and does it also through his many consistent and generous actions of virtue, also in combat—in Far East Russia, in the Balkans, and indispensably so in World War I.

Maurice Baring, in any case, truly and deeply loved Mary Queen of Scots, even from his childhood. We are ourselves now perhaps better able to share those enduring sentiments, at least now more fully—because of Maurice Baring’s own trustworthy presentations and combinations of research.

Finis

   © 2021 Robert D. Hickson


[1]    Maurice Baring, In My End Is My Beginning (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1931). All references will henceforth be made  to this edition, and placed in parentheses above in the main body of this essay. Some of these references will also often display above my added emphases.

The Concept and Reality of “Nation-Building” — a Critique

Dr. Robert Hickson

5 April 2004

The Concept and Reality of „Nation-Building”: A Moral and Strategic Critique of a Recent Long-Range Study

A Note from the Author on 3 September, 2021: This essay was first written in Switzerland seventeen years ago. The author was then asked by several Europeans to write a commentary on this RAND study on Nation-Building in light of the earlier history of Umerziehung (Re-Education). The study variously attempts to endorse a two-fold “core doctrine” concerning both “a Global War on Terrorism” and also “Nation-Building.” With the publication of this essay, now seventeen years later, the author hopes to help enlighten, in a larger strategic context, the intended principles and the actual fruits of the U.S. historic presence in both Afghanistan and in Iraq, starting in October of 2001 and March of 2003, respectively. (It is fitting to know that the author himself stepped down from Federal Service in early 2003, just before the open invasion of Iraq began on 19 March.)

***

America’s Role in Nation-Building: From Germany to Iraq (2003) is the title of a 240-page strategic and historical study released in July 2003 by the RAND Corporation, an influential national-security Institute which originally did special research for the U.S. Air Force.1

An implicit premise of the RAND study – but a dangerously unexamined premise – is that the U.S. Military’s still strongly resisted, but newly proposed, “core mission” of foreign (and often – Muslim) “nation-building” can and must and should be conducted simultaneously with their already declared and very dissipating “Global War on Terrorism” (or the “GWOT,” as it is sometimes affectionately known). RAND’s strategic study, however, explicitly supports this new “core mission” of concurrent “nation-building,” even though “the GWOT” itself is already so increasingly ambiguous and elusive in definition, as well as centrifugally dispersing and over-extending in operation of the American military resources. Therefore, any such protracted and concurrent combination of two new “core missions” for the U.S. Military – “the GWOT” and foreign “Nation-Building” – will certainly produce and perilously constitute a self-inflicted and “self-sabotaging binary weapon.”

That is to say, if such a concurrent combination of exhausting military (and quasi-imperial) “core missions” were ever essentially and protractedly implemented as a U.S. policy and new grand-strategy, it would be a very self-destructive, self-defeating act – a sort of strategy and ideology of national suicide (in the words of the great James Burnham). The U.S. Military itself – as the armed and just defender of the U.S. Constitution (but not of the de-constructed – or “living” – Constitution) against all enemies foreign and domestic – would become thereby, in virtue of its dissipating dispersion, even more de-constructed and demoralized and exhausted than it now is. Were that to occur, one wonders whether the U.S. Military could then even be an effective proxy for Israel, despite that long-standing, manifest priority, or effectively compulsory requirement, as it would seem.

Under such cumulative conditions of dispersion and “overreach” and exhaustion, could the U.S. Military – or would the U.S. Military – then any longer even partially (let alone adequately) defend the State and far-sighted Grand-Strategy of Israel? And has that unconditional support for Israel not also effectively become a “core mission” of the U.S. Military? However, the RAND study omits any discussion of these momentous matters, let alone their longer-range implications for war and peace and the enrootedness of ordered life.

According to this 240-page Rand analysis, which is, I regret to say, a very presumptuous (and often superficial) study, the current “U.S.-led stabilization and reconstruction of Iraq” is, indeed, “after all, the sixth major nation-building enterprise the United States has mounted in 12 years, and the fifth such in a Muslim nation” (p. 220 – my emphasis added). (The other four Muslim nations alluded to are: Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan; Haiti is the one non-Muslim country which was made especially subject to U.S. “nation-building” over these twelve years.)

In Iraq, however, says the self-vaunting study, the U.S. now “embarks on its most ambitious program of nation-building since 1945” (p. 219), when an arguably pre-Imperial United States purportedly conducted “nation-building” in Germany and in Japan. And, indeed, both of those instances of “nation-building” were clearly, in the view of the RAND Corporation, “successful.” It should be noted, however, that the RAND Corporation’s only criterion of “success” in “nation-building” was Germany and Japan’s attainment of “democratization” and of a “vibrant economy.” (Does this not reveal a profound understanding of the formation and nature of a long-standing cultural nation?!)

However, the RAND Corporation now has certain grave concerns about the current U.S. vulnerability and unpreparedness for such a new and admittedly “ambitious program of nation-building” almost sixty years later, in Iraq, a predominantly Muslim society:

Over the past decade, the United States has made major investments in the combat efficiency of its forces. The return [sic] on investment has been evident in the dramatic improvement in warfighting demonstrated from Desert Storm [1991] to the Kosovo air campaign [1999] to Operation Iraqi Freedom [sic – March-April 2003]. [But,] there has been no comparable increase in the capacity of the U.S. armed forces or of U.S. civilian agencies to conduct postcombat stabilization and reconstruction operations (p. 220 – my emphasis added).

Furthermore, the RAND study also addresses the matter of the willingness of the U.S. Armed Forces to conduct “nation-building,” not only the matter of their capacity (or their capability) to do it:

“Nation-building” has been a controversial mission over the past decade, and the intensity of this debate has undoubtedly inhibited the investments that would be needed to do these tasks better. Institutional resistance in the departments of State and Defense, neither of which regard nation-building among their core missions, has also been an obstacle (p. 221 – my emphasis added).

It is worthwhile to consider these above words very closely. The language is characteristic of their entire study, and their style also reveals their mentality, which is so often asphyxiatingly superficial, equivocally vague, and altogether frigid and presumptuous. (I do not exaggerate.)

The above critique of the resistance to nation-building, and the implicit grand-strategic recommendations by the RAND Corporation itself, are especially significant; not only because they are to be found on the last page of their study’s main text, but also because their concluding analysis is itself so unspecific and ambiguous – so bereft of clarity and of substance.

For example, the RAND study only mentions the “intensity,” but no substance, of the purported interior “debate” (i.e., either within both the U.S. Defense and State Departments, or disputatiously between them? – it is not clear!) concerning the putative “mission” of “nation-building.” And RAND does not even say wherefrom this purported nation-building “mission” comes, nor on what grounds, nor by what authority! (This is really a trustworthy, professional analytical study, isn’t it?!)

And what about the deeper substance of this purported debate, which is much more important than its ostensible “intensity”? What about the essential content of this policy and strategic debate? And who, specifically, are the key proponents and antagonists in this debate? The reader will search in vain, however, for RAND’s presentation of any such substantive evidence or argumentation.

lt is also significant, I think, that the RAND study does not even mention the key arguments for “nation-building” or the key arguments against such a protracted and deeply consequential, arguably neo-imperial, mission. Such omissions of important and indispensable substance are altogether unprofessional and deplorable – as well as sophistical. For, like the ancient Greek Sophists, the RAND authors “make the worse seem better and the better seem worse.” (It is clear, however, that the RAND Nomenclatura tendentiously favors an expanded neo-imperial (or neo-colonial) mission of U.S.-led “nation-building.”

Nevertheless, the RAND study does not even give a “working-definition” of “nation-building,” much less an adequate and properly strict definition of nation-building, although that concept is the key-concept of their entire study. Nor do they give any reasonable critique of “nation-building,” as such. No deep and searching objections are ever presented, much less refuted. They do not even suggest that nation-building could be, at least, a potentially utopian (and self-sabotaging) “operation,” or even an intrinsically unfulfillable “project” full of hubris. Thus, their study is, once again, evasive as well as superficial and vague. It is also embarrassingly chimerical and arrogantly wrong!

Furthermore, why should “nation-building” ever constitute a “core mission” for any military institution, for any deeper military culture in the world, let alone for the U.S. Military, which is already centrifugally over-extended, linguistically unprepared, culturally and religiously under-educated, and exhausted by the tempo of its multifarious “global” operations – such as their “Global War on Terrorism” (“the GWOT”)?! Even “the GWOT” is making war against a method of warfare, and not against a clearly specific enemy, nor a consistent “image of the enemy (a Feindbild)”! (Will anyone ever defeat “psychological warfare,” for example, as a method of warfare – or “terrorism,” either?)

And why does the RAND Corporation so disapprovingly call the U.S. Military’s firm “resistance” to “nation-building” (as a “core mission”) an “obstacle”? – an obstacle to what? Is this rational and moral military resistance to an „utopian deformation” an obstacle to the U.S. Military’s further de-construction as a military force? Or, is it, rather, an obstacle to the U.S. Military’s further transformation into an imperial police force? – or to a neo-colonial “gendarmerie” and “constabulary”?

In its important “Executive Summary,” the RAND study says the following (and without, it would appear, any intentional sarcasm or irony!):

The current [G. W. Bush] administration’s efforts to reverse the trend [in America] toward ever larger and more ambitious U.S.-led nation-building operations have proven short-lived, however. (p. xv – my emphasis added).

Indeed, in seeming contrast to President Clinton, “President Bush,” according to RAND, “adopted a more modest set of objectives when faced with a comparable challenge in Afghanistan [as in Kosovo?]” (p. xv – my emphasis added). However, the RAND study never tells us what, specifically, this “more modest” set of objectives was! (Name 5!). Once again, no specificity!

But now, their study continues:

In Iraq, the United States has taken on a task with a scope comparable to the transformational attempts [from what, to what?] still under way in Bosnia and Kosovo and [on] a scale comparable only to the earlier U.S. occupations of Germany and Japan. Nation-building, it appears, is the inescapable responsibility of the world’s only superpower (p. xv – my emphasis added). [N.B. Some might even consider these words to be somewhat presumptuous, not to say malodorously self-vaunting!]

Moreover, the first paragraph of their Executive Summary will further focus – and perhaps even provoke – the attentive mind of the reader:

The goal of the work documented here was to analyze and extract the best-practices in nation-building from the post-World War II experiences of the United States. To do this, we examined U.S. and international [?] military, political and economic activities in postconflict situations [sic] since World War II, identified the key determinants of the success of these operations in terms of democratization and the creation of vibrant economies, and drew implications for future U.S. nation-building operations (p. xiii – my emphasis added).

And, it is clear that Iraq is the strategic focus. In fact, after the preceeding Chapter 9 on “Lessons Learned” from history, the study’s concluding chapter (Chapter 10 – pp. 167-222) is a lengthy and very sobering consideration of Iraq itself and its vulnerable geography, and the barriers to any U.S. mission of “nation-building” there. Nevertheless, the study’s consideration of the deeper religious factors is very poor, indeed, and even dangerously shallow.2

The Executive Summary itself later concludes with a slightly more unambiguous set of statements and an often-repeated emphasis, except, perhaps, for their “softening” last sentence, which is itself all too characteristically vague and equivocal as well as evasive and so timorously optimistic:

The current administration [of President G. W. Bush], despite a strong disinclination [even by the strategically influential “Neo-Conservatives”?] to engage U.S. armed forces in such activities [i.e., “nation-building”] has launched two major nation-building enterprises within 18 months [both in Afghanistan and in Iraq, as part of its “Global War an Terrorism”]. lt now seems clear that nation-building is the inescapable responsibility of the world’s only superpower [and its “Messianic Democracy”]. Once that recognition [of the U.S.’s “superpower-responsibility”] is more widely accepted [but, by whom, specifically?], there is much the United States can do to better prepare itself to lead such missions [i.e., the new multi-national “nation-building” missions!] (p. xxix – my emphasis added).

All things considered, the RAND’s Study strongly implies that the current, internal U.S. military resistance to the “mission of nation-building” constitutes an “obstacle to success” – like the purported success that the U.S. Military had with their nation-building in Germany and Japan after the military defeat and “unconditional surrender” of the “Axis-Powers” in 19453. Once again, it should be emphatically noted, RAND’s only measure of “success” was the degree to which Germany and Japan underwent “democratization” and attained to a “vibrant economy”!

However, did the United States really build the German nation? Did the United States really build the Japanese nation? Are such deeply formed cultural nations of long history ever to be “built” by “outsiders”? Can a slowly growing, well-rooted and fruitful nation ever be “engineered,” even by “insiders”? lt would seem not!

And, with reference to Iraq, what, indeed, is the substance of the historic culture of this purported “Iraqi nation,” which is now also to be reformed? Was there ever such a thing as “the Iraqi nation,” and is it in any way comparable to the coherent (and unified) German or Japanese cultural nations? What cultural substance is the United States now to draw upon, so as to conduct (or inflict) its new “nation-building operations” there? What is the nature of the evidence for an historic Iraqi nation (as was the case in Germany and Japan)? What are we really talking about? “Democratization” and “vibrant economy,” once again? Is that it?

And how many years would it take for the U.S. to build even a slightly deeper “democratic (non-autocratic) political culture” in Iraq? And, what, in truth, are the real linguistic capacities and working skills of the current (or future) resident American “reformers” and “nation-builders”? What are the facts, not only about the language problem, for example, but also about the deeper issues of mutually alien and incommensurate religious cultures?

For, it is true, that both the Arabic Shi’ite and the Arabic Sunni religious cultures of Iraq are not so easily compatible with increasingly secularized (and formless) U.S. religious traditions, nor even with each other! Nor are they made easily compatible even with Iraq’s significant Kurdish, Turkoman and Assyrian religious and cultural traditions! Nor with the Christian minority of the Oriental Chaldean Rite. Therefore, this question of the interaction of religious cultures, not to mention the “re-building” of often incommensurate (or immiscible) religious cultures, will be an especially challenging factor for the U.S. “occupational” and “democratizing” forces. The combination is likely to be a “time bomb” – especially if the U.S. will regard Iraq, effectively, as a “Satrapy.”

And, in this context, let us return once again to the concept and reality of “nation-building.” What, after all, is this process or this thing called “nation-building”? A nation is not an artifact nor a product to be engineered. Nor does a nation have a “modular” structure capable of being “changed” and “re-arranged” in various artificial “permutations.”

What does it really mean to “build” a nation, or even to “re-construct” and “reform” a militarily defeated nation? From the evidence of history, a cultural nation grows slowly over time in and through its deeply shared experiences and vivid, living memories, even (and sometimes especially) memories of intimately shared sorrow, and of tragic, but heroic military defeats. Remember the Serbian military defeat against the Turks in the 14th century (on the current territory of Kosovo) and its unifying effects still today upon the broken Serbian people. Remember the Hungarian military defeat at Mohacs in 1526, an heroic and turning-point battle near the Danube River, against the advancing Ottoman Turks, whose own very costly “Pyrrhic victory” there caused them to withdraw from their more ambitious plans of domination for almost 150 years thereafter.

More generally, how does any foreign culture – especially an increasingly intrusive and very secularized culture like the USA – “build a nation” during its own military occupation of a religiously Muslim society? After an openly pre-emptive, supposedly “preventive,” “war of aggression” (against current and long-traditional International Law, as well), can any foreign “interventionist” armed forces really build a nation, even if they were both linguistically competent and culturally sensitive, as well as religiously respectful? In any case, what should be our realistic expectations about the United States, i.e., our realistic expectations of how the impatient and largely technocratic Americans are likely to try “to build a nation,” even if they were to be very generous and sincerely acting “according to their own lights” and best wisdom for the common good of Iraq? For, it is important to remember that the United States of 2004 is not at all the United States of 1945. The U.S. is now, moreover, also “culturally Balkanized” and even “religiously Lebanonized.” And, morally (ethically), even under the so-called “neo-conservative” Bush Administration, the United States itself is still “Clinton’s America,” as well as a “proxy force” for the intelligently advancing grand-strategy of Israel.

Those who would want to know much more about the deeper nature and meaning of this thing called “Clinton’s America” should read Joe Sobran’s eloquent and discerning book, entitled HUSTLER, on “the Clinton Legacy.” For, it is this very “legacy,” at least in part, which the U.S. is now presuming to inflict upon other countries, often under the deceptive guise of progressive “globalism” or of “economies (and finance) without borders.” And, this includes the whole ideology of unrooted and restless neo-Liberal (and neo-Mandevillean) Capitalism (along with its oligarchical “chaos managers”).

In the longer light of history, how might (or how would) the Ancient Greeks have thought about this whole matter of “nation-building”? For example, after their unexpected victory over the arrogant Persian Empire (c. 490 B.C.) – after Marathon and Salamis – to what extent might the Athenian Democracy have then considered as a wise strategic policy their subsequent “nation-building” of the defeated Persians? Would the “vibrant” Athenian Democracy have believed that their own aggressive energy and love of freedom could have sufficiently (or at all) transformed the autocratic political culture of Persia? It would seem not. The “temptations of Empire” would come a little later, nonetheless, especially for the Athenians.

For, the Ancient Greeks, learning from their own grave mistakes, have also taught us so much about true tragedy and about “the tragic view of life,” to include the Athenian tragedy which resulted from their hubris in the Peloponnesian War (431 – 404 B.C.), as was so memorably depicted by Thucydides. (Perhaps, the greatest tragedy occurs – as in Sophocles’ Antigone – when a lesser good tramples out a greater good without ever knowing it, until it is too late !)

Even after the Greeks’ earlier exultant victory against the Persians, almost sixty years before their own tragic Peloponnesian War began, would the high leadership of the surprised and very vigorous Athenian victors have even dared to presume to re-build or transform the defeated Persian Empire? Or, would they have wisely and immediately considered this to be an act of self-destructive, overweening pride? lt is likely that they would not have been even so blind and foolish as to consider the theoretical possibility! In all likelihood, they would have practically considered such a policy or such a strategy to be an act of folly (ATË, in Greek – i.e., “blinding self-infatuation”) – or, an act of blinding self-aggrandizement (PLËONEXIA, in Greek) and a presumptuous “overreaching” (HUBRIS, in Greek).

Yet, it may have been possible, once again, that the restless Athenians would also have (even back in 490 B.C.) tragically succumbed to the seductive temptation to overreach themselves, as the conspicuously more arrogant Athenians later did in their “Sicilian Expedition” during the Peloponnesian War; especially after they had so unjustly, so cynically and self-blindingly destroyed the weak and vulnerable Melians on their little Island of Melos off the coast of Sparta; and even after General Nicias himself had later honorably and wisely tried to warn the Athenians against their over-extended and likely self-sabotaging military expedition!

What lessons might the United States learn from this Greek experience, an experience which was not at all considered by the RAND study as part of their “lessons to be learned from history”? In view of this illuminating and admonitory history from the Ancient World, where is the open and honest public debate in the United States now about America’s own potentially tragic “Sicilian Expedition” to Iraq? Or, where is the public debate about the wisdom and the justice of America’s protracted presence there amidst the Muslim society of Iraq, much less the “transformational efforts” at “nation-building”? The neo-Trotskyites and the Socialist International, as well as the “Muslim International,” among others, might be very pleased, however, – and even the Zionists! – with America’s centrifugal and presumptuous and self-sabotaging over-extension in the Middle East and elsewhere, as well as its infatuated and concurrent “nation-building projects” in Afghanistan and in Iraq (as well as in the Balkans). But just-minded and far-sighted and well-rooted Americans should not! Nor should they be in complicity with any grand-strategy designed to fragment and de-stabilize the Middle East, and certainly not as a “useful idiot” or “proxy” for the Israelis and their long-range objectives as an historical cultural nation. Moreover, the moral resistance to such destructive and self-destructive conduct (and policy and strategy) should intelligently and courageously grow.

To what extent does the United States have even one general like the deeply wise (but tragically rejected) General Nicias – or a far-sighted admiral (and strategos) like Admiral Thucydides – who also, like them, may have to suffer much for speaking the truth, but who is humble enough to learn from his own (not only from his country’s) mistakes?

May they have the courage and the fuller virtue to come forth, to bear full witness to the truth – to speak out and to act and to help make a „course-correction”, also for the common good – and in the spirit of high chivalry. For, it is true, that a grand-strategic „course-correction” is needed by the United States – and leaders of virtue are needed, too, for the greater common good, and to resist the growing injustice and suffering! (The true spirit of chivalry always taught that “the more defenseless someone is, the more that one calls out for our defense”!) Hubris is always a form of blindness and self-destructivness. Pride (superbia, orgueil, Hochmut) is not a spiritual strength, but a weakness. And a “provocative weakness”! It is certainly provocative to others. Caveat Imperator.

— FINIS —

© 2004/2021 Robert Hickson

1 The early intellectual leadership of the RAND Corporation is still influential in U.S. “Neo-Conservative” circles. For example, Albert Wohlstetter and his friend, Andrew Marshall (the long-serving and founding head of the Pentagon’s “Office of Net Assessment” – a very influential “in-house Think Tank” of the Department of Defense) have been, like Professor Leo Strauss himself, deeply formative mentors – and strategic collaborators – of Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle, among others.

2However, the study is especially aware of the contrary national interests of the bordering countries of Iraq, to include the NATO member of Turkey, as well as the more expectedly resistant countries of Iran and Syria, all of whom could provide a serious impediment to any U.S. success in the context of Iraq’s multi-cultural and religious conflicts, and other strategic vulnerabilities.

3A second essay could be usefully written on the RAND Corporation’s two superficial „case studies” of the U.S. operations of “nation-building” in Germany and Japan after World War II – both of which RAND considers to be an impressive success. RAND’s measures (or “criteria and standards”) of the reality and essence of an historic cultural nation are, indeed, very insulting and very embarrassing, I think. “Democratizations” and “vibrant economies” just won’t do! Furthermore, all those who know the deeper history of the Occupation and “Re-Education” (UMERZIEHUNG) of Germany and Japan – and especially its distorting long-range effects on the “guilty” German nation and its youth – will be justly indignant and impatient with Rand’s perfunctory and smugly condescending treatment of this earlier “success” in “nation-building”!