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THE arrangement of the letters that form the second part of this volume has been largely dictated by circumstance. Father Maturin left very few letters of biographical interest. Those which he did leave have been made use of in the Memoir. On the other hand, the number of letters of counsel and spiritual help is comparatively large, and of these the greater part of this volume consists. The owners of many of these letters did not wish their names to be mentioned, and it has seemed best on the whole to publish the entire selection without giving the names of any of Father Maturin's correspondents. It was impossible to follow any exact chronological order in the arrangement of the letters. It would have been a real loss in grouping them to have sacrificed sequence in subject to sequence in date. The only exception made has been in the case of the letters to any one person which form a series, and these have been placed in the order in which they were written.
It must be remembered in reading these letters that they are personal letters, many of them written to intimate friends, often hastily, amid press of work. A man's letters are only his own to alter and correct -this work cannot be done by an editor. Where handwriting has proved almost impossible to read an occasional word has had to be guessed, and when
this has been done square brackets have been used as an indication. Where slips of the pen were obvious the grammar of a sentence has sometimes been amended, In places, too, where the meaning was really obscure, a few lines have been left out. But for the rest the letters must be read as they were written, not as finished essays, but often as hasty jottings in which an occasional phrase can only be rightly understood by being read in its relation to the whole letter. Taken as a whole, the letters may safely be claimed as witnessing to a rare depth of thought, vigour of mind, and force of conviction. But it must be emphasised that, even more than in the case of most men, the quotation of isolated sentences from these letters would fail signally to do justice to Father Maturin's meaning
It only remains for me to offer my sincerest thanks to Monsignor Nolan for his invaluable help in revising the proof-sheets of this book; to Bishop Hall, Canon Hogan, and others of Father Maturin's friends for sending me their recollections; and, lastly, to the Rev. Charles Maturin, without whose continued kindness and goodwill the brief Memoir could never have been written.
LAST PORTRAIT OF FATHER MATURIN. New York, 1915,
(Photograph by Sarony, New York.)
A REPROACH frequently brought against Christianity is that it allows only a partial and one-sided development of personality. With its code of restrictions, its exhortations to self-denial, its view of this world as merely a place of testing and preparation for another, it is, we are told, the negation of life in its fullness. One of the most deeply-rooted cravings of humanity is the longing for fullness of life, and in order to attain this every power that is in man needs to be developed to its utmost extent. There must be no negation, but an acceptance of life and all it involves ; no setting one part of man's nature in warfare with another, but a simultaneous development of every faculty and every power. Everything natural is therefore right : Christianity is against nature, and has treated as weeds the fairest flowers in nature's garden-has pulled them roughly up and flung them down to die, leaving only a bare plot of earth. And then, perhaps, it has partly filled the plot with 'bedding out,' planting neat rows of orderly virtues instead of the lovely wild growths of untamed nature.
The exponents of this view will point, perhaps, to two characters as typical : the earnest Christian engaged in good works, strenuous and self-denying, but blind to the beauty of nature, contemptuous, perhaps, of the glory of music, art and poetry. They will recall the fact that some of the saints would journey with closed eyes, not to look at nature's loveliness. In a less crude form, indeed with a certain kindly patronage, their attitude towards the martyr for religious conviction is essentially that of a beefeater I remember at the Tower. In showing the place of imprisonment and death of the Venerable Philip Howard he simply said, ' Philip 'Oward, Earl of Arundel, starved himself to death 'ere.' This was indeed all he could see of the worn figure of the martyr, kneeling on the stones of his prison, consumed with the double fire of love of faith and of country, wearing out his life, when he might have been developing all sides of his personality at the Court of Queen Elizabeth.
And then there is the other type, which has certainly a great charm and completeness, for as Cardinal Newman once said, 'It is ever easier to excel in one thing than in two. This type is largely the one chosen by ancient Greece. The body is tended and developed to the highest possible perfection, the mind is cultured and ready, the perfection of manners makes life smooth, and the only moral precept is that of kindness to all around. This, indeed, can only be carried out in so far as it does not clash with the necessary development of the personality, but up to this point it is made to hold a large place—it holds, indeed, the place of religion. Religion as Christians understand it is generally absent, but if present at all, it is only as a means to the end of general kindliness; good taste dictates that if “the element of religion is not wholly lacking,” at least it must not be “insisted upon."
There is perhaps only one way in which this modern attitude of mind, often unconscious, but almost always present, can be met and altered, and that is by encountering a complete and rich personality wholly possessed by the Christian ideal. To any one who knew the late Father Maturin, the suggestion that his was a narrow or stunted character, lacking in vitality, would seem simply an absurdity. He abounded in humour and sympathy and intellectual vigour. To hear him preach was to be caught up and swept along by a torrent of ideas. His words poured out, falling over one another and tripping up in their haste to be uttered. He had one gesturepeculiar, I think, to himself-of seeming to snatch the words as they came to his lips and to throw them from him, as if speech were too slow a means of expression.
In many of his letters may be seen the same impetuosity. He dashes at his subject headlong, so that he often leaves out a part of what he wants to say and then abruptly returns to it. This defect is very prominent in what is perhaps his deepest book, "The Price of Unity. The lack of artistic form is especially noticeable, because he had in so many ways the mind and temperament of an artist. He responded instantly to the appeal of beauty in music, poetry, or nature; and one could often trace in his preaching the effect of some recent experience. He would get up to preach, his mind vibrating from