Block image
Block image
Block image
Block image
Block image
Block image
Block image
Block image
Block image
Block image
Block image
Block image
Block image
Block image
Block image
Block image
Block image
Block image
Block image
Block image
Block image
Block image
Block image
Block image
Block image
Block image
Block image
Block image
Block image
Block image
Block image
Block image
Block image
Block image

Current Topics.

In the days when the late Queen was a sweet young maiden of eighteen summers, and before the date of her coronation, Dr. Lingard published his remarkable Letter to the Lord Chancellor on the * Declaration against Popery ' which her Majesty had been obliged to subscribe in Parliament on November 20, 1837. The Catholic voice in England in those times was still and small — much weaker in volume than it is in our day. And times have greatly changed since then. Dr. Lingard's protest against Catholic worship being described on oath by the Sovereign as superstitious and idolatrous was wasted on the empty air. It was renewed under happier auspices in 1901, but on a wider scale and with greater effect. The most decisive action taken in the matter was by the Dominion Parliament. It has resulted in the appointment of a commission to amend the Accession Oath, and we may now hope that the degrading formula that occurs in it will never again be heard at the coronation of a British Sovereign. ' A large measure of liberty is, no doubt,' says the Dublin Freeman, * permitted in the declaration [again Popery]. It might be subscribed by the Sultan or a Dancing Dervish ; it would not offend the scruples of the worshipper of Mumbo-Jumbo ; and a Brahmin or a Hindu might subscribe it without doing violence to his conscience. None of these venerable beliefs of the subjects of King Edward VII. will be offended by this declaration. . . Catholics are, at least, entitled to the same consideration as Jews, Hindus, Mahomedans, and Negroes. It is not a large claim. We shall not insult the intelligence or good feeling of the King by supposing that the declaration is anything but offensive to his sense of what is due to the Catholics of the Empire. And the offensiveness is perfectly gratuitous. There is no Catholic Pretender now to be warned off the English coast, nor is there likely to be. . . The time has come when the Constitutional Ritual should be purged of such gratuitously offensive language. Let the Protestantism of the Monarch be ensured if the doctrine of toleration has not yet reached the heights where the King's conscience may be allowed to go free. But it is not necessary to ensure the Protestant succesion that a declaration should be extracted from the reigning Sovereign which millions of educated Protestants would refuse to subscribe, because of its false description of a faith which, if they do not share, they have at least the intelligence to understand.'

fools' day.

On Monday next April Fools' Day will be again upon us. Exuberant youth pretty well all over the world will set up a general fooling. La Rochefoucauld said that no fool is so troublesome as the clever fool. April day passes off uneventfully because there are no clever fools about. They are all dead. Why the first of April was selected for all-round practical joking it is impossible to say. But the day seems to have been consecrated to the long-eared cap and jingling bells away back to a hopelessly remote antiquity. In Chambers' Book of Days we read the following : 'The Hindoos have in their Huli, which terminates with the 31st March, a precisely similar festival, during which the great aim is to send persons away with messages to ideal individuals, or individuals sure to be away

THE CORONATION OATH.

from home, and enjoy a laugh at their disappointment. To find the practice so widely prevalent over the earth, and with so near a coincidence of day, seems to indicate that it has a very early origin amongst mankind. ' • • • At long intervals the dull and silly monotony of • sending the fool farther ' is relieved by a bit of deception that, in this particular branch of amusement, makes history. In such cases the usual retail folly is simply worked up on a wholesale scale. In the book quoted above we find the following story in point: 'In March, iB6O, a vast multitude of people received through the post a card having the following inscription, with a seal marked by an inverted sixpence at one of the angles, thus having to superficial observation an official appearance : " Tower of London. Admit bearer to view the Annual Ceremony of Washing the White Lions, on Sunday, April Ist, iB6O. It is particularly requested that no gratuities be given to the Wardens or their Assistant." The trick is said to have been highly successful. Cabs were rattling about Tower Hill all that Sunday morning, vainly endeavoring to discover the " White Gate." ' • • • On the Continent of Europe the practice of April fooling is very prevalent. In the Latin countries the unwary victim is designated — heaven knows why — an April fish (poisson d'avril, pesce cTaprile, etc.). A curious historic instance of successful April fooling in France is thus recorded : 'It is related that Francis, Duke of Lorraine, and his wife, being in captivity in Nantes, effected their escape in consequence of the attempt being made on the first of April. Disguised as peasants, the one bearing a hod on his shoulder, the other carrying a basket of rubbish at her back, they both at an early hour of the day passed through the gates of the city. A woman, having knowledge of their persons, ran to the guard to give notice to the sentry. " April fool !" cried the soldier ; and all the guard, to a man, shouted out : " April fool !" beginning with the sergeant of the post. The Governor, to whom the story was told as a jest, conceived some suspicion and ordered the fact to be proved. But it was too late, for in the meantime the Duke and his wife were well on their way. The first of April saved them.' • # m Perhaps the most ludicrous and memorable practical joke of this kind — though not played on the first of April — was the famous Berners street hoax, which set all London by the ears in 1809. It was the work of Theodore Hook, whose turn for quizzing and practical jokes has almost overlain his reputation as a dramatic writer. 'By despatching several thousands of letters to innumerable quarters,' says an author before us, ' he completely blocked up the entrances to the street by an assemblage of the most heterogeneous kind. The parties written to had been requested to call on a certain day at the house of a lady, residing at No. 54 Berners street, against whom Hook and one or two of his friends had conceived a grudge. So successful was the trick that nearly all obeyed the summons. Coal-waggons heavily laden, carts of upholstery, vans with pianos and other articles, wedding and funeral coaches, all rumbled through and filled up the adjoining streets and lanes ; sweeps assembled with the instruments of their trade ; tailors with clothes that had been ordered ; pastry-

cooks with wedding-cakes ; undertakers with coffins ; fish-mong-ers with cod-fishes ; and butchers with legs of mutton. There were surgeons with their instruments ; lawyers with their papers and parchments; and clergymen with their books of devotion. Such a babel was never heard before in London. And to complete the business, who should drive up but the lord mayor in his state carriage ; the governor of the Bank of England; the chairman of the East India Company; and even a scion of royalty itself, in the person of the Duke of Gloucester. Hook and his confederates were meantime enjoying the fun from a window in the neighborhood, but the consternation occasioned to the poor laHy who hid been rmde the victim of the jest, was nearly becoming too serious a matter. Hook never avowed himself as the originator of this trick, though there is no doubt of his being the prime actor in it. It was made the subject of a solemn investigation by many of the parties who had been duped, but so carefully hiid the precautions been taken to avoid detection that the inquiry proved entirely fruitless.'

'civis' AGAIN.

1 Civis ' of the Otago Daily Times has been 'drawing lines' — a useful and sometimes profitable occupation, by the way, when the lines are drawn judiciously and in the right time and place. For instance, he has drawn the line against discussing- with the N.Z. Tablet the needless cruelty of placing Boer women interned in British camps upon short rations. It would have been well for ' Civis's ' credit as a journalist if, when the chalk was in his hand, he had also drawn the line at the literary crime of garbling quotations from the Tablet, and attributing to it directly and by implication statements which it never made or dreamed of making. A fact or an argument from ' Civis ' upon the short-ration policy might have been interesting. But he had none to give. As for the spasms and jumps of his ' Note ' of last Saturday, they would have been entertaining but for their disagreeable suggestiveness of epilepsy. ' Civis's ' surrender is but the natural result of that weakness in fact and logic which quite unfitted him for a discussion upon which he presumed to enter. In scourging some of the ' Civises' of the Globe in 183 b Disraeli remarked : 'An anonymous writer should at least display power. When Jupiter hurls a thunderbolt, it may be mercy in the god to veil his glory with a cloud ; but we can only view with contemptuous levity the mischievous varlrt who pelts us with mud as we are riding along, and then hides behind .1 dustbin.' Anonymity, such as that of ' Civi-.,' miy have its advantages, but it has its dangers and responsibilities as v\ l ll.

The question which aroused * Civis's ' personal attack upon us was a very simple one. We held tli.it the treatment meled out to the Boer women referred to above was needlessly cruel, (i) because it meant such a reduction of rations as would cause at least some measure of distress or starvation to them and their children; (2) because women and girls forcibly detained in such a condition amidst the surroundings of even the bestconducted military camp were ' practically ' placed between the alternatives of bearing with hunger or belling themselves to shame. And (3) we proved that the tieatmenl of women and children as enemies, the burning and plundering of their homes, and the placing of the hapless and unoffending creatures in military camps upon short rations, weie so many offences against the recognised usages of civilised warfare. Here were three clear-cut issues for discussion. (1) Against the first point ' Civis' could advance nothing beyond this, th.it in prisons 'a regime [regimen ?] of " reduced rations " doesn't necessarily mean hunger.' Doesn't it ? Well, it means bixteen ounces of dry bread and a little water in the twenty-four hours. It is, moreover, considered so severe a punishment that it is inflicted only for the most serious breaches of prison regulations. Visiting justices are not permitted, 'in any circumstances, to condemn a prisoner to more than three days of these reduced rations; and any term be>ond that maybe inflicted only by a sentence passed in open court. This is, presumably, the scale of dietary on which ' Civis ' asks his readers to believe that ' men are actually known to grow (at.'

It is not necessary to suppose that the Boer women and their families who are interned in British camps in South Africa are placed upon this particular scale of dietary. But it emphasises the fact that even under one of the mildest civilian administrations in the world the penalty of short rations is not to be trifled with. The avowed purpose of the penalty as applied in South Africa constitutes in itself the strongest prima facie evidence that it was intended to produce a decidedly unpleasant degree of distress. English newspapers clearly stated that the motive of this harsh policy was to induce such a degree of discomfort that, in order to alleviate it, the Boers out on commando would feel themselves compelled to surrender with a view to sparing their wives and little ones the further pangs of hunger unappeased. The truth of this charge was evidently fully admitted by Mr. Brodrick, Secretary of State for War, in his reply to a question in the House Commons. Here is the substance of this part ot his reply as

given in the unmutilated cable message which appeared in the Melbourne Argus of March i : — ' Mr. Brodrick admitted that those women whose husbands were still actually on commando were all on reduced rations, while those whose husbands had given in their submission had full rations allowed them, the object being, of course, to induce the surrender of the men still under arms.' Points (2) and (3) referred to above were not discussed, nor denied, nor even questioned by ' Civis. 1 So far as the merits of the controversy went, he let his whole case go by default. But he made it abundantly clear that he did not ' draw the line ' at advocating a departure from the usages of civilised warfare in the treatment of the gentW sex • * • Cardinal Manning says in one of his books : ' Anonymous writing is a dangerous trade. Few men can resist the temptation to write under a mask things which they would not say with open face. 1 It is painful to be compelled to say that c Civis has time and again fallen away from journalistic grace under the stress of this temptation. From behind the safe cover of his mask — or dust-bin— he has adopted modes of discussion which he would not dare to follow if his identity were commonly known and he could be made to bear in person the obloquy attendant upon violation of the usages of respectable and straightforward journalistic controversy. His favorite weapon against us now is the same as during the last election campaign : radical and persistent misrepresentation of the position taken up by us on the matter in dispute — attributing to us statements of the gravest nature which we never made, and insinuating against us contentions which we never put forward. The evident purpose of all this is to prejudice the case against us from the outset in the eyes of those for whom 1 Civis's ' leaden columns are apparently intended. For instance, (1) 'Civis' makes the N.Z. Tablet say that 'the motive ' of the short-rationing of Boer women and girls was to starve them ' into submission to the lust of their captors and guardians ! ' This statement is a sheer invention of ' Civis's.' (a) We never stated or even hinted that this was ' the' motive of the short-ration policy, (b) We never stated or even hinted that it was even 'a ' motive of the short-ration policy. The real motive of the infliction of this penalty has been stated and re-stated by us in language too plain for even ' Civis ' to mistake — namely, to compel the surrender of the Boers who are still upon the veldt with Mausers in their hands, (c) We stated our conviction — a conviction which we still hold — that one result of this new mode of warfare against women would be to ' practically' place the Boer females affected by it between the alternatives of bearing hunger or sacrificing their virtue amidst the well-known temptations incident to camp or barrack life whether in peace or war. We nowhere stated that this result was foreseen, much less directly intended, by the authors of the reduced ration campaign. If it were not foreseen, so much the better. If it were, it may have been regarded merely as an incident — very possibly a regrettable incident — of the short-ration mode of fighting. For war, even at its best, is a cruel game — much more so when those responsible for its conduct set themselves to violate the recognised rules and customs with which international usage has endeavored to mitigate its seventy towards unprotected women and children. • • • (2) With a similar disregard for sacred fact ' Civis ' suggested to his readers (a) that our comment on the petticoat L.impaign was an attack on the personal courage of the officers and mm of the army, and (b) that it was an exhibition of wild and unreasoning rage ' against all things British!' In the face of all this, it is a mere detail that (c) he puts into our mouth the foolish statement that we do not see the morning paper ! Our real statement was to the effect that we do not read ' Civis.' Like many other readers of the Otago Daily Times, we long ago found the truth of Edmund Burke s words: ' A dull proser is more endurable than a dull joker.' We have neither time nor inclination to burrow in the back pages of the large Saturday's issue of our esteemed local contemporary to which ' Civis's ' crude literary efforts are relegated. We have not read a line of them for over a year. It is only when the good man runs amok that we hear of him. And then we learn of his continued existence through some leisured person who is not particular about the quality of his reading matter. * * * We may, in conclusion, remind 'Civis' — in his own words — that he has neither 'recanted nor apologised' for his serious and persistent misrepresentation of our remarks both now and on a former occasion, nor for the unfounded charge of political corruption which, for the purposes of a political campaign, he levelled at the Catholic hierarchy of New Zealand. We, too, hold the chalk in our hand. And the score against • Civis ' is mounting up. For fair comment, however hostile, we have only fair and friendly reply. We are glad to acknowledge that ' Civis's ' methods are wholly foreign to the almost uniformly respectable traditions of the Otago Daily Times. They are to honorable journalistic discussion what vitriolthrowing is to neighbors' quarrels and the poisoning of wells

and the use of explosive bullets in war. To such controversial tactics we will show no quarter. Dr. Creighton said in one of his public addresses that some people learn ' only at the point of the bayonet.' Perhaps even ' Civis ' may be at last drubbed into learning the lesson that misrepresentation of an opponent is but a poor substitute for fair discussion, and that a man is not released from the obligations of journalistic respectability merely because he happens to write with a mask upon his face.

A COURTEOUS OBJECTOR.

It is a pleasure to turn from ' Civis ' and his ways to the courteous Knglish resident of Canterbury who, in a letter marked by much quiet dignity, objects to the strictures passed by us on the short-ration policy adopted against the Boer women whose husbands are on commando. But (i) our esteemed correspondent has missed the point of our distinction between the term ' reduced rations ' used absolutely and the term used in reference to a military punishment. (2) While not denying that ' short -rations are a punishment' to the Boer women, he sees no reason for inferring that the penalty is so severe as is represented in our note of March 7. Our remarks upon this subject will be found in the course of our two replies to ' Civis.' (3) Our Canterbury friend retorts upon us that our inference as to the degree of severity of the short-ration penalty would hold equally good if applied in the same way to the law of fasting as prescribed by the Catholic Church. But he bases this argumentum ad hominem on the confusion of terms referred to above (1). Again : There is an essential difference between the ecclesiastical discipline of fasting and any secular system of short rations, whether these are imposed by the pressure of scarcity, famine, circumstances of travel, etc., or by way of civilian or military penalty, (a) They differ in their object — fasting being a discipline undertaken in voluntary obedience to the Church's law, as a means of grace commended by God Himself, (b) They differ in their method and incidence ; fasting being binding on very few, and the following being exempt from it : all persons under 21 years of age; all persons over 60; the sick and those in delicate health ; women nursing, etc. ; the poor who have difficulty in procuring food ; soldiers and sailors, etc. ; all engaged in much bodily and mental labor ; and generally all whom fasting would unfit for the proper discharge of their ordinary duties in life.

(4) Our correspondent also twits us smartly on applying the term ' problematical ' to the Boer lady who is reported to have referred in terms of high encomium to the humanity of the British soldier. (5) In referring to the probable intensification of racial hate in South Africa by the present method of campaigning, we instanced the feeling which endures to this hour in thousands ot homes in Leinster and Ulster for the cruelties perpetrated on Irishwomen in 1797-9. ' I can only say,' adds our correspondent in reply to our remarks upon this subject, ' that all decent-minded English people are heartily ashamed of their ancestors' behaviour to Irish people in those times. But we who live now are not responsible for the atrocities which have been committed by our nation in the past, and I think it would be worthier of the noble traditions of Irish Catholicism and of Irishmen, to extend us their forgiveness instead of taunting us with our cruelties in the past.' But (a) our remarks upon this subject were not in the nature of a taunt. They were submitted merely as evidence that the method of ' reduction ' followed in South Africa is, from the national standpoint, distinctly bad policy. (b) It is a matter of common history that of all the troops who were concerned in the suppression of the Irish insurrection of 1798, the English regulars were the only ones against whom no charge of wanton cruelty has been laid. Pitt's most savage instruments in goading the unhappy people into insurrection were the Irish Orange yeomanry, sundry regiments of Irish Orange militia, the ' mostly Orange ' Ancient Britons (Welsh), and two regiments of brutalised German mercenaries from Hesse. Three men of British birth— General Sir Ralph Aoercromby, General Sir John Moore (the hero of Coruna), and Lord Cornwallis — exerted themselves to the utmost— in the face of fierce opposition from the then ascendant Orange faction — to put a check to the atrocities of the Irish, Welsh, and German troops. And it was Sir John Moore who exclaimed : ' If I were an Irishman I would be a rebel!'

Wanted, everyone who has proved the worth of Tussioura to recommend it to their friend. — »*« The MoOormick Harvesting Machine Company built and sold 213,629 machines in the season of 1899. This is the greatest sale of harvesting machines ever made by one company. — m * M Did you ever read JJeleiCt Babies, and do you remember the delightful enthusiasm of little Toddy when he got at the internal workings of somebody's watch and wanted to see ' the wheels go round ' ? And does it occur to you that wheels occupy a pretty important part in oyoles ? We have realised this fact, and as an evidence of the attention given the subject, want you to examine the latest Sterling chain, chainless, and free wheels. Built like a watch. New shipment just landed. Morrow, Bassett, and

This article text was automatically generated and may include errors. View the full page to see article in its original form.
Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/periodicals/NZT19010328.2.3

Bibliographic details

New Zealand Tablet, New Zealand Tablet, Volume XXIX, Issue 13, 28 March 1901

Word Count
3,877

Current Topics. New Zealand Tablet, Volume XXIX, Issue 13, 28 March 1901

Working