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THE DOOM OF LOUVAIN, Issue 15699, 13 January 1915
THE DOOM OF LOUVAIN
[By Dr William Baiuit.]
'The night of August 26. 1914. will long be remomherod in European history. On that night Louvain, the Oxford of .Belgium. was destroyed—destroyed by lire, and that lire kindled by hand*- of German troops owing allegiance to His Imperial and Royal .Majesty William 18, King of Prussia, German Emperor, and Lord of War. The narrative, which was compiled from evidence at first hand without a moment's delay, and which no one, has attempted to refute, is authenticated by an otUcinl Belgian Commission, dated August 31. 1914. at Antwerp. Historians will therefore report that on August 19, the German army,. having burnt the tillages through which it passed, entered the open city of Louvain, made requisitions. pillaged houses left by their inhabitants. took their weapons already laid up in the Cathedral of El. Pierre, and matlc hostages of the Mayor, the A iccRecloi' of the University, and certain me. Tat rates ami aldermen. All the banks in the town were spoiled of their cash. Fighting went on outside between the invaders and the Belgian regular army. At nightfall on August 26 tine German troops, repulsed in an engagement. fled back into Louvain panic-stricken. They were lin'd upon near the station by soni" of their own garrison. Straightway they proceeded to bombard the (own fur several hones, after which they deliberately eel lire to it. using hand-grenades where the conflagration was not spreading. Tims the greater part of Louvain fell a. prey to the flames. Fine modern instiuitions perished : but more lamentable was the destruction of the venerated Ghureh of SI. Pierre, the University, the Library, with its priceless collections and manuscripts, while the ’Town Hall was barely saved. In all districts between Louvain and Malir.es, as well u.s in the suburbs of the first-named city, the houses wore practically destroyed. But what of the people? They underwent all the horrors that attend on a place which furious barbarians have taken l,v assault. They were shot at sight, burin out of their blazing houses : the women, separated from their husbands and father-, fell into the hands of savages. Abominable deeds were done, not lo be recited in public prints, but irslified by witnesses whom wc cannot refuse. The Vice-Hector of the University and other priests, it is understood, were shot. More than 70 hostages, after the most vile treatment, were only released at the gates of Alalines. Finally, thousands of the men of Louvain were deported to unknown dest inalions outside .Belgium, without trial or acensa.! ion of any .sort. The beamifill old city, then, is no more. On sketch-maps printed in ‘ The Times we r''ad ; ‘‘File of Louvain." to indicate where it- sb-od, bnt where now only a, heap of blackened ruins will he found. That, consummation we may call the doom or fate of Louvain. Bui this word "doom" eai ries another significance in our best English ; it means a judgment. Aik! of th" things here set down as they fell out history will be the deemster. History lias judged, for example, the sack of Rome
by a German horde in .1527. and the sank i of Magdeburg by Tilly in 1651. during the I Thirty Years’ War. To a Christian, civilised world it has become increasingly hard I to prove, that the pillaging, raping, mutilating. burning of an unarmed | population can ever be justified. Deliberately to destroy ancient monuments is ! vandalism, and is not permitted except, under the very stress of battle by modern I principles. A great and famous scat of I learning is the one kind of sanctuary that, (all sects ;um revolutions would spare. To | bonihai'd the Parthenon ni, Athens was j sacrilege. 1 o set, Rome or Florence on | lire would he a- crime like matricide. ; Who. llien, armed ilicse, ignorant soldiers with kciosene sj’r.iys and inflammable paste, sin'll as an English newspaper correspondent Air T. M. Kettlej sa.w evidence of using at Termonde? Who wait, that doomed Louvain to dost ruction ? And on whom will history pass judgment,': Conic forward, (b i'inan Kaiser ; hold up ! y,mr mailed list. This blackened and | burnt Louvain is your handiwork. By rova! proclamation you dcelaied yourself r -history will never forget- it a second ,-Vlila. King of the Huns. lint vital weie von doing in Belgium? That, little count ry. by He (ommon laws of Europe, enjoyed perpetual p. as e. Tour ou n predecessors had pledged their honor —do you understand that word?—their honor, I snv to respect . ami. if necessary, fo defend the hordrr.s of Belgium modi invasion. Your Chancellor admits the obligation, regnus lo do simii a. flagrant wrong to a. people liiat have m-vr offended Prussia, and promises-- - nm.-t eliis ab'im.j Kaiser, -an it signify lieueofnrth what he promises, or what- pledge yon give to a scandalised world ? 110 and read Smlei'nianTs oiling comedy ' Die I'ihrc.' When ;a, man has not tin.' honor to be honorable he can do many things which to gentlemen are forbid,dan. At the United Service Club your Majesty would he black-balled. In Pal! Mali ymi would be mil. They are taking down your bamier a.s a Knight ol the (latter in St. George'.* Chapel, Windsor. Von merit that humiliation, for yon are precisely (he creature that in treatises on chivalry 1- dubbed a. ''felon knight.' Your heave rants. ami Tarnlmriaine speeches have brought yon to this. Vi’hai, after talking fustian, parading in tlm white oio.ik of Lohengrin, bully a huic. 'undefended, open country, send it a twi-lve-hoiir;'.' ultimatum, threaten to take lire Congo (loin it. and begin shunting oven before tin- notice bar. expired ! Your million- to Belgium'.* thousands, and they inn ready! Tim English Chancellor has reminded yon that France, in August. 1070. might, have escaped the catastrophe of Sedan by violating the Belgian frontier. If so tlm defeat at Sedan was a momi virion - ; and your breaking like a burglar into the oo'.iiii ry round. Liege rood..inns yon before tlm t tribunal ot tlm I ntnre. which wiii inand von a-s ''William the False." How false. how dclr-C.nbly without honor was for ever demonstrated on the dav when 1 in;:ia.nd--oeace-loving, hoodwinked England, under a Radical Minis try. the least warlike, of companies hreat hj ing on this planet—put lo your Imperial head an ultimatum of its own. and de ..-hived war because you va-iv cnleriiv; Beb | glum. Volt could not, so much as grasp the motive which compelled even Radicals to take up arms. It was I reaTmry ; 'for it. could not he honor. 'Then, with a bleeding hear', you said lo your Auila hosts: "Go forth., and in my name make war by the methods of German culture. I'so the Red Cross tor an anihush ; throw your shells straight on hospitals ; burn churches, hang or shoot priests; sahre women and children ; make such fright-fnl examples -this 1 say oJl'mially of mm(oinbatants, wherever yon fancy or pretend they have been egging others on t-> molest you, that they shall never again lool; a Toulon in the fact. Von have, my leate lo go, and our friendly old God's ill ssing." I ins ro.-aiy of the Kaiser's commands and benedictions will explain why Louvain. Aerschot. Maline*. Namur, Ternioiide, Heidis suffered *as thev did, and what, we may look tor when the Prussian lakes London or Edinburgh. He will bring with him a new scheme of university education. Our young men .shall light duels, getting seam instead ot cup.* for their reward ; onr jnofe.-S'H's shall teach that Christ is a myth. Christianity a legend, the Gospel fit only for slaves. Our Parliament, shall sink into a Reichstag, and onr news-papers become a reptile Pres*. We may deny God. provided tlm.! we do not blaspheme the- Kaiser; for then wo should be gudty of high treason, with j Spandau for our dwelling place. The King ■ of Enehind's motto k- "God and my Right’'; when Wilhelm Meisier takes th-’ crown in Westminster Abbey we shall hear him cry: "Whoso resiists me. tho panto I will smash to atoms" — "den zerschmettr’ id) I” I Uir Oxford categories of sweetness and light, law and reason, and Liberal ide.nl.* will pass away, to bo succeeded by the paralkdogram of forces, with Kmpp as the governor, teaching culture by cannon shot. . Instead of a gentleman w'e shall find a Junker, with jingling spurs, in every public department, whose model has been given by the captain sitting cresslegged in the square at Termonde, asking ransom, witii this alternative: "Then 1 must hunt the town.”
Louvain was—l can but use the pant tense— J. slaliuliur protest, ituncse.l anon
honor and conscience, against this lapse into barbarism. Tlie leading Catholic Lnivonsity in modern times, it dated back originally to the year 1425 and to Pope Martin V., by whose diploma it was made a “.Stadium Generale,” and nobly did it answer the call. Its classical, honors during the Renaissance, its teaching of Roman Law. its theology and allied branches, brought renown. After the French Revolution it rase again 10 eminence ; and on the day that Rcrlin culture lit it up with lire brands it could boast of things accomplished in economic (science, in psychology. in the Oriental languages, of which” no German University would have been ashamed. Retter nlill, it possessed, like Oxford and Cambridge, the secret that German schools never had, or now have lost : it knew how to train character. Its professors were gentlemen. For the present they are exiles. Their scholars have, many of them, died on the field of battle or in hospital, amid (scenes of desolation which Relgium/ could it have sacrificed its honor, would not have gone through.
There is a dreadful prayer of King David in Scripture: "O Lord, turn the counsel of Ahithonlud into foolishness.” which was granted by the -Most High. If our Christian feeling would allow it. we might have prayed in like fashion when the war
—I *** I 1 -****>' fell upon u.=. But could we have received a more, complete, a more apt-oniobing nnawer than eVents have brought? Ihe Kaiser’s infatuation lias betrayed him at every step. Louvain pronounces his doom. This “ culture hero ” stands out to all time as a reckless, cruel barbarian, who- does not know that mind will conquer force. He lias run headlong with his millions upon disaster and shame, inflicted by a people whom lie simply overlooked. He lias brought the world down upon him in judgment ; and his one ally is broken to pieces. But Louvain has given Kaiscrism its mortal stroke.
THE DOOM OF LOUVAIN, Issue 15699, 13 January 1915
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