Non Angli Sed Angeli


dignare-me-laudare

The ‘Archbishop of Canterbury’ has let out Canterbury Cathedral to the Masons to perform their blasphemies at the same moment as the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster will be Consecrating England to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

https://www.ewtn.co.uk/news/latest/canterbury-cathedral-to-hold-masonic-service-on-someday-as-national-consecration-to-immaculate-heart

O Immaculate Virgin Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Mother of Grace,
and Queen of the kingdom of thy Son,
humbly kneeling before thee,
we offer thee this country in which we live.
It once was thine.
Before it was robbed of the holy Faith
all its children were thy children,
and thou wast honoured throughout its length and breadth
as its Protectress and its Queen.
Again do we consecrate it to thee;
again do we dedicate it as thine own Dowry.
We offer our own hearts,
that their love and service
may ever grow and increase.
We offer all our brethren
those multitudes who know thee so little
or know thee not at all.
May thy prayer bring back the country’s ancient faith.
May thy intercession lead us to a closer union
with thy divine Son.
We consecrate ourselves to Him through thee.
Obtain for us,
and for England thy Dowry,
every grace and blessing,
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary!

V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.

O Holy Mother of God, Virgin ever blest,
O Mary Immaculate, pray for us,
intercede for us, disdain not to help us.
For we are confident and know for certain
that thou canst obtain all thou wiliest from thy Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ,
God Almighty, the King of ages,
who liveth with the Father and the Holy Ghost,
for ever and ever.

Amen.

 

stitching_the_standard_leightonI was re-reading the De Regno the other day and pondering an odd remark St Thomas makes when describing the various social forms that develop in the course of man’s search for the perfect community (that society which possesses within itself all the necessary means for the attainment of its end). St Thomas deals, as one might expect, with the family, the city, the province (what we might call the ‘country’) and ultimately with Christendom or the Church. However, between the family and the city, in the space moderns would likely call ‘civil society’, he places the vicus.

Now since man must live in a group, because he is not sufficient unto himself to procure the necessities of life were he to remain solitary, it follows that a society will be the more perfect the more it is sufficient unto itself to procure the necessities of life. There is, to some extent, sufficiency for life in one family of one household, namely, insofar as pertains to the natural acts of nourishment and the begetting of offspring and other things of this kind. Self-sufficiency exists, furthermore, in one street with regard to those things which belong to the trade of one guild. In a city, which is the perfect community, it exists with regard to all the necessities of life. Still more self-sufficiency is found in a province because of the need of fighting together and of mutual help against enemies. Hence the man ruling a perfect community, i.e. a city or a province, is antonomastically called the king. The ruler of a household is called father, not king, although he bears a certain resemblance to the king, for which reason kings are sometimes called the fathers of their peoples.

Vicus is here translated ‘street’ as is reasonable given the context although ‘quarter’ might give the sense a little better. He clearly means the district of a city where the members of one guild ply their trade. How could such an area be supposed to have any kind of self sufficiency? One can hardly live off shoes or ironmongery. I think St Thomas must suppose that one guild represents the group responsible for providing one particular element necessary for the temporal live of the city and being thus indispensable is always in a position to trade for the rest. One could, with relative ease, divide up human life into the relevant sectors:

Area of Temporal Life Example of Traditional Guild
Information Scriveners
Energy Chandlers
Water Plumbers
Food Mercers
Furniture Carpenters
Clothing Taylors
Tools Smiths
Buildings Masons
Transportation Farriers
Weapons Fletchers
Learning University (Faculty of Arts)
Health University (Faculty of Medicine)
Organisation University (Faculty of Law)
Salvation University (Faculty of Divinity)

This would seem (with one obvious exception) to divide human life into the necessary areas in all societies in the wayfaring state. Of course, the mediaeval guilds were more diversified than the examples I give in the second column because they were diversified by the natures of their crafts as well as by their ends. However, by St Thomas’s logic, the vicus would be diversified only by the end (for this is what gives it its quasi self-sufficiency). I would suggest that in a society conformed to the tenets of Thomistic social doctrine society ought to be organised in this way. Indeed in England (the Regnum Thomisticum) and then Britain until the nineteenth century it was so organised. The Corporations of each Borough and City (the Masters of all the Guilds) ran the Towns and elected their representatives to Parliaments and the Masters of Oxford, Cambridge and the Scottish Universities governed those Universities and elected their Members of Parliament. The University seats and business vote remained features of British public law up to the nineteen sixties. Earlier still the guilds (at least) provided the non-charitable welfare and insurance functions now usurped by the state and financial institutions. The charitable welfare functions were, of course, provided by the hierarchy and the monastic orders.

What is the obvious exception? It is the manor. In fact, another meaning of the word vicus is village, manor, hamlet or suburban settlement. The knight or lord of the manor is to the urban vicus what the master is in a guild or university. Just as membership of the  University is divided into scholar, bachelor and master and membership of the Guild into apprentice, journeyman and master so membership of the order of chivalry is divided into page, squire and knight. The knight emerged in the chaos which followed the collapse of the Carolingian Empire in the ninth century. The knight was a local hard-man who controlled an autarchic minimum of agricultural territory farmed by others for whom he provided security and lower governmental functions. His control of this territory was legitimised by military service offered to the ruler of a larger area responsible for higher governmental functions. The guilds and universities found themselves in a similar relationship with the King or Emperor. As Chivalry emerged in the socio-economic-military sense so Chivalry as a code of behaviour and spirituality emerged as the Gospel, the Monastic Orders and the Hierarchy interacted with and elevated this natural phenomenon. Knighthood as such was quite independent of the aristocratic system and was meritocratic. One could even be fined (distraint of knighthood) for failing to be knighted when in possession of the relevant feudal territory. To this day the feudal system in Britain is quite independent of the honours system. Although almost immediately the aristocracy tried to assimilate knighthood reducing it to the lower rung on the table of honours they never truly succeeded. Emperors, Kings and Princes have always fallen over themselves to draw attention to their status as knights rarely do they allude to the fact that they happen to also be a count or a baron.

This other form of vicus also found expression in the Regnum Thomisticum. The Writ of summons to the Model Parliament of 1295 expressly requires that “without delay you cause two knights, of the more discreet and more capable of labour, to be elected from the aforesaid county… and that you have them come to us on the day and at the place aforesaid ; so that the said knights shall then and there have full and sufficient authority on behalf of themselves and the community of the county aforesaid.” In a way therefore the vicus is the basic unit of society in Thomas’s vision, and in fact in Mediaeval England, for the next highest unit is already (in some degree) perfect. The vicus that is the manor or guild (or university) provides something indispensable to society as a whole and thus cannot be eradicated without eradicating the perfection of that society. Its disappearance from the constitutional landscape is a sign that slavery has crept again from out its unquiet grave and slithered its rotting fingers once more around the neck of western man.

 

Westminster

 

Now the wretch [Tyndale] raileth by name upon that holy doctor Saint Thomas, a man of that learning that the great excellent wits and the most cunning men that the Church of Christ hath had since his days, hath esteemed and called him the very flower of theology, and a man of that true perfect faith and Christian living thereto, that God hath himself testified his holiness by many a great miracle, and made him honoured here in his Church in earth as he hath exalted him to great glory in heaven.

– St Thomas More

The English Speaking World is different. It is superior to the rest of the world. The English Speaking world has liberty under the rule of law. It has what was called in ancient times Isonomia: equality under the law, equality in making the law. It perfected isonomia, it saved it and preserved it. Taxation is lower, the state is limited, the law is obeyed. It is prosperous, it is independent, it is composed of victorious and free peoples.  Why is this?

The English Speaking World is different because of one man: St Gregory the Great. St Gregory summoned the English from paganism to the faith of the Church of Rome. Loyalty to Christian Rome created and defined England. By his words ‘non Angli sed Angeli’ St Gregory ensured that the tribes his mission would save would define themselves as one nation and call themselves the English. It was not unknown for an Anglo-Saxon king to end his reign by abdicating and going on pilgrimage to Rome. Alfred the Great the first King of the English would be personally anointed and invested as Consul by the Pope himself. England drank deep of Latin Christian culture and drank it pure and from the source. It took its theory of law from Isidore of Seville untouched by the absolutism of Justinian’s Code. When the rediscovered Law of Justinian flooded the west in the twelfth century, England stood firm beside the laws it had made for itself founded upon the republicanism of the Latin Christian West. Finally, on 20th January 1265, Simon de Montfort, the son of the great commander of the Albigensian Crusade, summoned to Westminster a Parliament of Lords Temporal and Spiritual, of the Commons of Shire and Borough after the model of the Dominican Constitutions. The genius of St Dominic, who resolved the weaknesses of ancient republicanism, was poured into the public law of England.

Two hundred years later when Sir John Fortescue, the Lord Chief Justice, came to defend the Laws of England (which now embodied the traditions of Greece, Rome and Israel) against those of France corrupted by decadent Byzantine law he turned to the greatest doctor of the Dominican Order. It is upon the doctrine of St Thomas that the Dominican constitution of England was defended. The mixed monarchy, trial by Jury, the prohibition of torture, the dependence of the Monarch on Parliament for subsidy and statute, all is here. Rightly did Luther (though he said it with scorn) call the English monarch ‘Rex Thomisticus’. The liberties of the English Speaking Peoples have nothing to do with Protestantism. Non Angli sed Angeli, the English constitution breathes the pure doctrine of the Angelic Doctor.

Protestantism has rather corrupted and unbalanced our constitution concentrating all executive and legislative power in the same part of that constitution. As Charles I said (faithfully reflecting the doctrine of St Thomas),

There being three kindes of Government amongst men, Absolute Monarchy, Aristocracy and Democracy, and all these having their particular conveniencies and inconveniencies. The experience and wisdom of your Ancestors hath so moulded this out of a mixture of these, as to give to this Kingdom (as far as human prudence can provide) the conveniencies of all three, without the inconveniencies of any one, as long as the Balance hangs even between the three Estates, and they run jointly on in their proper Chanell (begetting Verdure and Fertilitie in the Meadows on both sides) and the overflowing of either on either side raise no deluge or Inundation.The ill of absolute Monarchy is Tyrannie, the ill of Aristocracy is Faction and Division, the ills of Democracy are Tumults, Violence and Licentiousnesse. The good of Monarchy is the uniting a Nation under one Head to resist Invasion from abroad, and Insurrection at home.The good of Aristocracie is the Conjuncion of Counsell in the ablest Persons of a State for the publike benefit.The good of Democracy is Liberty, and the Courage and Industrie which Libertie begets.

The United States of America, which has preserved this balance, has won for itself the global power that fell to Britain in the eighteenth century precisely because the USA’s interpretation of the Dominican model of government has ended up more faithful to the original than that which now prevails in England. This not because the USA is not a monarchy and Britain is, but because the USA is a monarchy and Britain is not. Those who think otherwise are as Belloc pointed out “making the common error of thinking in words instead of ideas” they foolishly “contrast America as a ‘republic’ with England as ‘monarchy,’ whereas, of course, the Government of the United States is essentially monarchic and the Government of England is essentially republican and aristocratic.”

For centuries protestants have perpetrated the fraud of ascribing the English constitutional tradition to their religion when the opposite is the case. The Leviathan of the absolute state is the protestant invention, the Dominium Politicum et Regale of freedom and the rule of law is the supreme achievement of English Catholicism. The proof is there for all to read in the writings of the great fifteenth century English Thomist Sir John Fortescue. There should be no English speaking Catholic who does not possess a copy of this book:

Fortescue

Alfred

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Today is the feast of St Alfred the Great the first King of the English, a fitting occasion methinks to celebrate having won first prize in the lottery of life. One of the most splendid things about Mary’s Dowry is the fact that, thanks to the exploits of Simon de Montfort, England’s constitution is fashioned in the image of the constitutions of the Order of Preachers.  A few weeks back Cordatus wrote a post arguing against women’s suffrage on the principle that the family and not the individual is the basic unit of society. “The family is the cell of the State; that is, it is the only natural society that exists beneath the level of the State. So it is a disorder to give some authority over the State to a private citizen while denying any authority over the State, in principle, to the family.” Giving the vote to women, he argued, atomizes society into hermaphrodite slaves of Leviathan (my expression not his). I responded that this would mean we should have household suffrage not male suffrage, because male suffrage still atomizes society into slaves of Leviathan but also implicitly dehumanizes women. Under male suffrage all male individuals vote but female individuals do not. This implies woman are inferior to men while still granting no recognition to the family per se. Of course, this was not a disagreement of principle because household suffrage was precisely what Cordatus was arguing for. I was simply rejecting the idea that male suffrage would genuinely achieve this. However, I also squirmed because the number of widows who would be exercising household suffrage would still be very few and …

…man is fallen and he abuses every form of power he enjoys. One of the most fundamental forms of power enjoyed by men in human society is that of a husband over his wife. With grim inevitability this has therefore been one of the most abused forms of power. This power has been greatly weakened in the recent past as much I think by technology (which has eliminated the vital role of brute strength in providing for a family) as by ideological shifts. Women quite reasonably do not want to expose themselves to the kind of servitude too often imposed upon them by bad or morally weak men in past eras. Any new social/political form proposed on the basis of Catholic doctrine and sound philosophy needs to take account of this or (whatever the reality of the situation) it will be perceived to be a mere disingenuous apologia for oppression.

Accordingly, I have been worrying about how to have household suffrage and yet avoid these perils. I have now arrived at a proposed solution. St Paul tells us that the authority of a man over his wife is like the power of the head over the body. Not the power of the soul over the body but the power of the head over the body. The head and the rest of the body are of the same nature it is just that the head is seat of the senses and the imagination. The rest of the body does not always blindly obey the head. In some respects it does (the hand or the foot), but in other respects (the irascible and concupicable appetites)  the head must persuade the rest of the body to do its will. Sometimes it cannot and the body recoils from what the head rightly commands. Sometimes the head is wrong and the body rightly recoils from what the head Simon_Leicestercommands. Unity is this regard comes through the ordering of both head and body to reason (a principle which surpasses them both). In the individual this ordering is embodied in the Cardinal Virtues of Temperance and Fortitude. In the household it is embodied in domestic prudence. Reason, revelation and living faith animate the Christian household as the soul animates the body. Giving life to the family as the soul gives life to the composite and preserves the unity of head and body. St Thomas considers the question of the soul’s government of the body in Ia, 81, 3 “Do the irascible and concupiscible powers obey reason?”. St Thomas teaches that they do. The second objection is that “what obeys a certain thing does not resist it. But the irascible and concupiscible appetites resist reason: according to the Apostle (Romans 7:23): ‘I see another law in my members fighting against the law of my mind.’ Therefore the irascible and concupiscible appetites do not obey reason.”. St Thomas answers:

As the Philosopher says (Polit. i, 2): “We observe in an animal a despotic and a politic principle: for the soul dominates the body by a despotic power; but the intellect dominates the appetite by a politic and royal power.” For a power is called despotic whereby a man rules his slaves, who have not the right to resist in any way the orders of the one that commands them, since they have nothing of their own. But that power is called politic and royal by which a man rules over free subjects, who, though subject to the government of the ruler, have nevertheless something of their own, by reason of which they can resist the orders of him who commands. And so, the soul is said to rule the body by a despotic power, because the members of the body cannot in any way resist the sway of the soul, but at the soul’s command both hand and foot, and whatever member is naturally moved by voluntary movement, are moved at once. But the intellect or reason is said to rule the irascible and concupiscible by a politic power: because the sensitive appetite has something of its own, by virtue whereof it can resist the commands of reason. For the sensitive appetite is naturally moved, not only by the estimative power in other animals, and in man by the cogitative power which the universal reason guides, but also by the imagination and sense. Whence it is that we experience that the irascible and concupiscible powers do resist reason, inasmuch as we sense or imagine something pleasant, which reason forbids, or unpleasant, which reason commands. And so from the fact that the irascible and concupiscible resist reason in something, we must not conclude that they do not obey.

The imagination and sense reside in the head (where the brain is located and all five of the senses). Reason operates through imagination because the human mind cannot operate in the composite without recourse to phantasms. Reason commands the body through the head but is not to be identified with it. Applied to marriage this means that the husband governs the household as the viceroy of eternal reason not as eternal reason. The same terms as St Thomas uses to explain his anthropological point are used by the great Thomist Lord Chief Justice of England, Sir John Fortescue (1394 – 1480) in his defence of the English Constitution as the realization of Thomistic political theory: In Praise of the Laws of England. The King of France, Fortescue explains, rules his unfortunate people with dominium tantum regale able to tax and legislate without their consent. The King of England in contrast as Rex Thomisticus rules his people with dominium politicum et regale and can neither enact statutes nor raise taxes without their consent manifested through their elected representatives in parliament. This is in accord with St Thomas’s description of the perfect polity in IaIIae, 105, 1. Given St Paul’s doctrine concerning the relations of spouses it would seem therefore that the husband should rule his wifparliament-chamber-theatere as the just man rules his own body and as the successors of Alfred rule England. Executive power is his but no settled norm or major financial decision should be made without her consent and counsel.

It would seem therefore that the most appropriate form of household suffrage would be one in which the vote cast by the pater familias would have to be countersigned by his wife. The easiest way to ensure this would seem to be that only a ballot signed by husband would be admitted but the polling station will only accept the ballot paper when cast by the wife. This would ensure agreement and prevent coercion. Thus the principle of household suffrage would be preserved but the dignity of woman vindicated. Furthermore the subjection of both head and body to reason would be facilitated because unanimity requires discussion and discussion requires consideration and ratiocination strengthening the acquired political prudence of both husband and wife.

1. Regulation of the sacred liturgy depends solely on the authority of the Church, that is, on the Apostolic See and, as laws may determine, on the bishop.

2. In virtue of power conceded by the law, the regulation of the liturgy within certain defined limits belongs also to various kinds of competent territorial bodies of bishops legitimately established.

3. Therefore no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.

– Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium

I went to Mass for the Assumption last week in St Mary’ Cathedral, Newcastle upon Tyne. I was a little late due to unforeseen traffic problems. It appears the priest (an elderly gentleman) has some sort of difficulty with his eyes. He seems to have taken this as the green light to invent almost the entire text of the Mass. He exercised the distressing option in the Novus Ordo of giving little talks before every reading. He did not read the Gospel himself but had a layman do so. All the orations were invented on the spot as was the preface. The Eucharistic Prayer was, I think, variations based on number 2. The priest decided to say “for all” and not “for many” in the words of consecration making it impossible to go and receive communion. It seemed likely from the tone of the priest’s invented orations and semonettes that his use of “for all” represented a taste for the heresy of universalism.  He also asserted that St Luke had made up the Magnificat and that these were not really the words of our Blessed Lady. He used the Apostles’ Creed instead of the Roman Liturgical Creed (another distressing option in the Novus Ordo). When there are so many Arians around the use of the Apostles’ Creed is a wholly inadequate safeguard of orthodoxy as well as a totally random innovation. At the end he processed out singing from memory Immaculate Mary complete with the verses about the Pope and the restoration of Mary’s Dowry.

The overall impression was of a man wholly confused as to what is and is not Catholic doctrine and what is and is not acceptable behavior in a Catholic Priest. It is absurd that someone should have served out their priestly life in such a state, it is also a cause of great scandal to the faithful. In general, England is in a far better condition (especially in the South) than mainland Europe but the scourge of ‘extraordinary ministers’ (supposedly justified by the obsessive compulsion to administer the chalice to the laity) is a serious obstacle to renewal. Hexham and Newcastle has generally been very good for the extraordinary form. It is good to see that Fr Brown has been moved to St Joseph’s in Gateshead. One hopes he will resume his daily low Mass which suffered from the inaccessibility of St Mary’s Forest Hall. Sadly the longstanding Missa Cantata at St Dominic’s Newcastle had perished because the Dominican Friars now stationed there refuse to celebrate the authentic liturgy of the Roman Church.

V-2One of the most noticeable things about the various disasters of the sixties and afterwards is how catastrophic they were for English speaking countries and for England in particular. English Catholics were in the unusually happy position of living in a Catholic country stolen from them by the greed and lust of a foul tyrant who imposed the unwanted ‘new religion’ on his people by force. England was a country where the established form of Protestantism was universally seen for what it was, an absurd compromise engendered by the love of self to the point of contempt for God. It was a nation where the form of government constructed by mediaeval Catholics survived and needed nothing but the conversion of the sovereign and the people for the re-establishment of the Kingship of Christ. No need for revolution or reinventing the theological wheel, just teach, sanctify and govern. Conversions, as the recent statistics published on the LMS chairman’s blog have shown, continued to rise even until the year after the summoning of the Council. This remarkable fact reflects the fact that it was less the specific statements of the Council as the perception of a surrender to modernity that destroyed the self-confidence and the allure of Catholicism in England.

The agonies of continental Catholics about their fallen monarchies and dreadful philosophies and of Americans about the compatibility of their constitution with the teaching of the Church apparently demanded the obscuring of central truths of the faith, truths which were central the evangelical success  of Catholicism in the Commonwealth. The kind of civil order represented by the coronation was unacceptable to Americans, the kind of triumphalism that carried all before it in Britain was repugnant to French and German intellectuals keen to have their grubby compromises with alien philosophies ratified by the Church.

Prior to the First Vatican Council Cardinal Manning remarked upon the consequences for the Church of the perception that she might conform her teachings to the spirit of the age.

“A belief had also spread itself that the Council  would explain away the doctrines of Trent, or give them some new or laxer meaning, or throw open some questions supposed to be closed, or come to a compromise or transaction with other religious systems ; or at least that it would accommodate the dogmatic stiffness of its traditions to modern thought and modern theology. It is strange that any one should have forgotten that every General Council, from Nicaea to Trent, which has touched on the faith, has made new definitions, and that every new definition is a new dogma, and closes what was before open, and ties up more strictly the doctrines of faith. This belief, however, excited an expectation, mixed with hopes, that Rome by becoming comprehensive might become approachable, or by becoming inconsistent might become powerless over the reason and the will of men.”

Manning’s nightmare came true ninety years later. In a recent article from Rorate Caeli Cardinal Heenan’s reaction to the first performance of the Novus Ordo was recalled.

“At home, it is not only women and children but also fathers of families and young men who come regularly to Mass. If we were to offer them the kind of ceremony we saw yesterday we would soon be left with a congregation of women and children.”

One of the distressing things about attending the usus antiquior in non-English speaking countries is the way in which the liturgy is so often obscured by the singing of vernacular hymns over the words of the priest and the popularity of the dialogue mass and the practice of delivering the readings in the vernacular. These practices generate an air of embarrassment around the liturgy implicitly conceding that the ‘reforms’ of the sixties were necessary and the only reason for the use of the earlier form is irrational nostalgia. Perhaps it is because England was a nation created out of pagan barbarism by the greatest of all Popes that the anglosphere has a special capacity and enthusiasm for Romanitas.

A friend pointed out to me last week that Cardinal Heenan was not the only one to remark upon the extraordinary power that the Roman Liturgy retained in England over the affections of men as well as women. Before the First World War R.H. Benson had already perceived it.

“I am continually astonished by the extraordinary predominance of the male sex over the female in attendance at Mass and in the practice of private prayer in our churches. At a recent casual occasion, upon my remarking to the parish-priest of a suburban church that I have always been struck by this phenomenon, he told me that on the previous evening he had happened to count the congregation from the west gallery and that the proportion of men to women had been about as two to one.”

Somehow the abandonment of the conquest of the temporal order by the curia still allows for feminine religiosity but it strips the layman of his proper vocation. There is something militant about the Roman liturgy which is particularly accentuated in the stripped down form of the Missa Lecta. The Church in the English speaking world thrived on the narrative of the long war to reverse the theft of our country by Henry VIII, on the truth that Western Civilisation is ours. The Church created it the protestants and their atheistical offspring are destroying it. Capitulation before modernity and the transformation of the Mass into a protestant communion service dealt the killer blow to the strongest and most faithful Catholic lay culture in the world.

 

THE CALL TO THE BARBARIANS

A BOOK was sent me the other day by a gentleman who pins his faith to what he calls the Nordic race; and who, indeed, appears to offer that race as a substitute for all religions. Crusaders believed that Jerusalem was not only the Holy City, but the centre of the whole world. Moslems bow their heads towards Mecca and Roman Catholics are notorious for being in secret communication with Rome. I presume that the Holy Place of the Nordic religion must be the North Pole. What form of religious architecture is exhibited in its icebergs, how far its vestments are modified by the white covering of Arctic animals, how the morning and evening service may be adapted to a day and a night each lasting for six months, whether their only vestment is the alb or their only service the angelus of noon, upon all these mysteries I will not speculate. But I can affirm with some confidence that the North Pole is very little troubled by heretical movements or the spread of modern doubt. Anyhow, it would seem that we know next to nothing about this social principle, except that anything is good if it is near enough to the North. And this undoubtedly explains the spiritual leadership of the Eskimo throughout history; and the part played by Spitzbergen as the spiritual arena of modern times. The only thing that puzzles me is that the Englishmen who now call themselves Nordic used to call themselves Teutonic; and very often even Germanic. I cannot think why they altered this so abruptly in the autumn of 1914. Some day, I suppose, when we have diplomatic difficulties with Norway, they will equally abruptly drop the word Nordic. They will hastily substitute some other–I would suggest Borealic. They might be called the Bores, for short.

But I only mention this book because of a passage in it which is rather typical of the tone of a good many other people when they are talking about Catholic history. The writer would substitute one race for all religions; in which he certainly differs from us, who are ready to offer one religion to all races. And even here, perhaps, the comparison is not altogether to his advantage. For anybody who likes can belong to the religion; whereas it is not very clear what is to be done with the people who do not happen to belong to the race. But even among religions he is ready to admit degrees of depravity; he will distinguish between these disgusting institutions; of course, according to their degree of latitude. It is rather unfortunate for him that many Eskimos are Catholics and that most French Protestants live in the south of France; but he proceeds on his general principle clearly enough. He points out, in his pleasant way, why it is exactly that Roman Catholicism is such a degrading superstition. And he adds (which is what interests me at the moment) that this was illustrated in the Dark Ages, which were a nightmare of misery and ignorance. He then admits handsomely that Protestantism is not quite so debased and devilish as Catholicism; and that men of the Protestant nations do exhibit rudimentary traces of the human form. But this, he says, “is not due to their Protestantism, but to their Nordic common sense.” They are more educated, more liberal, more familiar with reason and beauty, because they are what used to be called Teutonic; descended from Vikings and Gothic chiefs rather than from the Tribunes of Florence or the Troubadours of Provence. And in this curious idea I caught a glimpse of something much wider and more interesting; which is another note of the modern ignorance of the Catholic tradition. In speaking of things that people do not know, I have mostly spoken of things that are really within the ring or circle of our own knowledge; things inside the Catholic culture which they miss because they are outside it. But there are some cases in which they themselves are ignorant even of the things outside it. They themselves are ignorant, not only of the centre of civilisation which they slander, but even of the ends of the earth to which they appeal; they not only cannot find Rome on their map, but they do not even know where to look for the North Pole.

Take, for instance, that remark about the Dark Ages and the Nordic common sense. It is tenable and tolerable enough to say that the Dark Ages were a nightmare. But it is nonsense to say that the Nordic element was anything remotely resembling sense. If the Dark Ages were a nightmare, it was very largely because the Nordic nonsense made them an exceedingly Nordic nightmare. It was the period of the barbarian invasions; when piracy was on the high seas and civilisation was in the monasteries. You may not like monasteries, or the sort of civilisation that is preserved by monasteries; but it is quite certain that it was the only sort of civilisation there was. But this is simply one of the things that the Nordic gentleman does not know. He imagines that the Danish pirate was talking about Tariff Reform and Imperial Preference, with scientific statistics from Australia and Alaska, when he was rudely interrupted by a monk named Bede, who had never heard of anything but monkish fables. He supposes that a Viking or a Visigoth was firmly founded on the principles of the Primrose League and the English Speaking Union, and that everything else would have been founded on them if fanatical priests had not rushed in and proclaimed the savage cult called Christianity. He thinks that Penda of Mercia, the last heathen king, was just about to give the whole world the benefits of the British Constitution, not to mention the steam engine and the works of Rudyard Kipling, when his work was blindly ruined by unlettered ruffians with such names as Augustine and Dunstan and Anselm. And that is the little error which invalidates our Nordic friend’s importance as a serious historian; that is why we cannot throw ourselves with utter confidence and surrender into the stream of his historical enthusiasm. The difficulty consists in the annoying detail that nothing like what he is thinking about ever happened in the world at all; that the religion of race that he proposes is exactly what he himself calls the Dark Ages. It is what some scientific persons call a purely subjective idea; or in other words, a nightmare. It is very doubtful if there ever was any Nordic race. It is quite certain that there never was any Nordic common sense. The very words “common sense” are a translation from the Latin.

Now that one typical or even trivial case has a larger application. One very common form of Protestant or rationalist ignorance may be called the ignorance of what raw humanity is really like. Such men get into a small social circle, very modern and very narrow, whether it is called the Nordic race or the Rationalist Association. They have a number of ideas, some of them truisms, some of them very untrue, about liberty, about humanity, about the spread of knowledge. The point is that those ideas, whether true or untrue, are the very reverse of universal. They are not the sort of ideas that any large mass of mankind, in any age or country, may be assumed to have. They may in some cases be related to deeper realities; but most men would not even recognise them in the form in which these men present them. There is probably, for instance, a fundamental assumption of human brotherhood that is common to all humanity. But what we call humanitarianism is not common to humanity. There is a certain recognition of reality and unreality which may be called common sense. But the scientific sense of the special value of truth is not generally regarded as common sense. It is silly to pretend that priests specially persecuted a naturalist, when the truth is that all the little boys would have persecuted him in any village in the world, merely because he was a lunatic with a butterfly-net. Public opinion, taken as a whole is much more contemptuous of specialists and seekers after truth than the Church ever was. But these critics never can take public opinion as a whole. There are a great many examples of this truth; one is the case I have given, the absurd notion that a horde of heathen raiders out of the northern seas and forests, in the most ignorant epoch of history, were not likely to be at least as ignorant as anybody else. They were, of course, much more ignorant than anybody with the slightest social connection with the Catholic Church. Other examples may be found in the story of other religions. Great tracts of the globe, covered in theory by the other religions, are often covered in practice merely by certain human habits of fatalism or pessimism or some other human mood. Islam very largely stands for the fatalism. Buddhism very largely stands for the pessimism. Neither of them knows anything of either the Christian or the humanitarian sort of hope. But an even more convincing experience is to go out into the street, or into a tube or a tram, and talk to the actual cabmen, cooks and charwomen cut off from the Creed by the modern chaos. You will find that heathens are not happy, however Nordic. You will soon find that you do not need to go to Arabia for fatalism; or to the Thibetan desert for despair.

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