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  • 8/18/2019 Devlin Dossier


    In 1932 te reward for al s labour te long cersed dreamof gong to Oxford seemed to be wtn s grasp Te Socety ad

    deçded tat bot e and Henry Jon, wo ad joned te Order a year later tan Chr stoper,- sould go up tat autumnIt was n February of 1932, n my weddng day tat I met

    Crstoper for te frst tme He stood at the foot of te altaravng a mnor part to play n te ceremony; e was stll qute young but already e was a man set apt and dedcated In Ma y tat yea rWllam ded, and a mont later, n June I saw Crstoper agan� forPatrck and 1 spent a sunlt weekend stayng near te College andwalkng wt m n the Cotswolds And ten, qute sortly aftertat,

    te sword of te gardan angel of paradse flased out wtunexpected cruelty (20)

    n Soutwell's case ts may ave been to ut te bndweed ofsentmentalty e pupose ths tme seems to have bee sometng qute fferent fr te wole course of Crstopers lfe wascanged

    It came about n so uneralded and unexpected a way tat at tetme no one seems to ave realsed wat was nvolved

    (18) Ony the docines of St Tos Aqinas, enged and explained byIate ite we taut, and though misu�destanding Scotus it was thoughtthat hs views wee heteodox. 'F Geddes was a dea, but igdy ohodoxd ws bound to view with a a young man who had the temeity to think

    fo er Boye19 See p 2620 Life of Robe Southwe, p 32.


    Crstoper's frendsp wt Henry John ad become very deepr D'Arcy descrbed t as a lovea te relatonsp and FrMartndale, wo by ts tme knew Chrstoper as weil as e knewHenry John, sad

    I am sor that Henry John (toug we were good and quarrelsomefrends) nfluenced Chrs, because Henry, I consder, spolt hmself

     by s dea that y ou could do notng save by violenceFrankly I tougt Henry Jon was becomng so neurotc tat s

    santy was n danger s s not mpressonsm I ad reasonsOne sultry evenng at Heytrop, sortly after our vst, a fgt

     broke out between te two of tem; te sort of fgt tat couldoccur between two tense, otblooded men, wtn wose closefrendsp anythng could appen On ts occason one trew a book at te otr and after ts tey came to blows e two oftem came down to supper n the refectory one wt a black eyeand the oter wt a ut lp s was notced Tey were made todo a refectory penance Te fgt was not forgotten nor were oterof ter quarrels It was thougt tat t would be as unwse as twould be dstractng and dsturbng to ave tem bot togeter n

    one small ouse at Oxford, Ca mpon Hall, te J esut ouse ofstudes It was decded, terefore, tat only one of tem sould goto Oxford and t would be dffcult to dspute tat te obvous oneto go tere was Henry Jon

    Of course nowadays Crstoper would ave been sent to get adegree somewere else Te Junorate was n fact abolsed (21 sotat ali J esuts can ow get soe qualfcaton wtout necessarlylengtenng ter years of anng But n te trd decade of tecentury te need for a degree, strange as tat may seem trty yearslater, was not obvous. Te lack, n due course, gravely andcappedCrstoper and caused m pan. Soe ndeed tnk t a waste of

    extraordnary talents' tat e sould not ave ad an academtranng

    Tere s no word of frustraton n any of s notes sprtual oratobograpcal; no pages ave been to out; no lnes crossedtrug; no comment, notng oter tan complete acceptance ntune wt a note e ote earler durng a perod of nteror struggleat Heythrop

    must be ready to abandon (not necessty, do t exceptonally)ordnary communty enjoyments - Oxford.

    In te struggle fo selfconquest te fgure of Robert Soutwellemerged from te dust of battle t te plume of beauty noddng1 n 1958


    Christopher Devlin SJ (1907-1961) was an extremely giftedJesuit of the British Province--teacher, military chaplain,scholar, poet, maybe also theologian. He is best known forhis biography of Robert Southwell, poet and martyr; andalso for an edition of Hopkins's religious prose. His sister-in-law, who obviously loved him deeply, wrote a biographyof him after his death. It illustrates how obedience worked

    for Jesuits of that province in that period, among otherthings.

    Strangely, such a brilliant man was not sent to University--this first extract explains why.

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    capacities and could not realy beieve that he had blotted his copy·book; yet if he ad not why should his offer, which would changethe whole course of his work, be accepted? He remained sient buttook the decision that since it seemed expected of him he woud goBut deep down there were two other reasons which heped him tothis decision; one was quite simple what he ad thought once mightbe for hm 'a vocation within a vocation might sti be so. The other was more complex; of a l those nearest and dearest to him only Joan

    Mary was devoted to the catholic faith by being in England he adalready proved that there was nothing he coud do about it; by goingto rica he could make an offering to God of the secret sorrow inhis heart

    He began to e Shona the language he woud need and hegave himself three months in which to finish the editing of Hopkinssspiritua writings A few days before Christmas this was done; he adput down on paper his insight into Hopkins, man poet and religious which ad resuted from his eay s tudies and on wh ich his mind adnow played enriching his earlier work, for more than a quarter of acentury And he wrote something more in explaining Hopkinss he

    expained his own belief though it did not always coïncide with hissubjects At the end he coud say 'in that book have said a haveto say about my faith. Then, perfore, he left it for other ands torevise correct and make ready for the printer This formidabletask - as we as the one of obtaining the Societys approval of the work devoved on Fr Philip Caraman On December Christopherad given his fiat to Fr Boyle; on the !9th he ote to Aileen fromManre sa

    have ust finished typing my Hopkins book in a rush, so peaseexcuse my typing with the momentum of it had hoped to send mySouthwel book for a Christmas present. t shoud have been out inOctober then December was mentiond but now they (Longmans)admit it wont be til March or Apri: and by that time shal havegone a my dread news as escaped me

    Uness have been moving about in a dream or a nightmare forthe last three months have booked a passage for Rhodesia onFebruary st so presumaby shal eave on that date though it aseems a litte unreal except that have been leing the Shonaanguage for the ast three months as we as struggling with Hopkins

    What can say now? Nothing except the usual things, theintensity of which you wi have to take for granted: that if dontsee you and Charlie again, you wi aways remain in my mind andheart as very specia people and can still and always wil rememberin the vividest detai al the times tht you have been so kin to me. have often reproached mysef that have not tried here in Londonto get to know better your daughters whom ike so terriby much 1

    always promised mysef that  woud when ad finished my twobooks and had more irty to move around as expected to have



    But now a off to another heiphere for dont know hw ong 5 to 10 yeas is the usual tie befoe leave

     w be out of London from tomorrow off and on t 2thJanuay seeing brothers and sisters and peope, then ?ack for t�e �estof the time so that know you will let me know f that cocdes

     with any visit of y ours

    After Christmas the hope that Christopher privately nourishedthat the unexpected would happen and that 96 woud not find

    him eaving the county, faded, and then indeed he did move aboutin a deam or nightmare His misey was no less hard to watchbecause it was dumb When two weeks ony remaind he began touy the othes he woud need, for which the Society ad given himthe money He never ventured to shop alone His trunk at FarmStreet haffu of his papers, should have been on board his ship by29 January On the 29th he stil ad not finished his packing normade any aangement for getting it to the Docks

    On Sunday, the 30th he offered Mass at the High Atar andpreached at Farm Street, this was a great honour accorded him bythe Comunity there For soe obscure reason none of us went andhe was urt On the 3st we ad a farewel dinner at our flat in

    Grays nn Squae to which Fr DArcy Fr Brodrick and Fr Caramancame Fr Brodrick (32) was a good fiend too, and warmlyrespected by both Christopher and Patrick Bily could not comeand alas Aieen was il but Charlie came with one of theirdaughters Coney; none of our sons could get home from schoo butClare and Virginia, ur daughters were there A picture fel downduring dinner Tis ad also happened in the Is when t he J esuitProvincial, Fr Edward Purbrick ad dined with his friend ArchbishopBenson at Lambeth Palace (33)- (many years before theecumenical movement) but the significance of this fact if any

     was not on either occasion apparent Ours was a g oo gathering and

    it broke up ae despite the thoughts of the eary strt to be madenext moing.Clare and Virginia came with me in the car and we fetched

    Christopher from Farm Street at 73 in the morning t wa 1February and the codest day recorded for many years Fr RicharClarke, who always saw off departing missionaries heping them with any last minute problems had been going to BishopsgateStation with Christopher but seeing the amily natue of theoccasion tactfuly and siently withdrew.

    Christopher had sai nothing at a to Fr Boyle the instrument of

    (32) Fr James Bodrick S isnishe auho of many books on heet.

    ) 'The EngishJesuis, F Be Basse S 967, Bs & Oaes p.407


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    Providence and to the end Fr Boyle thought that 'his going was theresult of his own generosity and zeal If these had not been sooutstandng, 1 do not think one could have faced the protests of

    those who with very good reason thought he should have remanedin this country to continue his work on Hopkns and Southwell towhich he was eminently suited But Christopher knew of fewprotests he only knew the time had really come and that he wasgong

    Droppng Viina t her school and Clare at Waterloo for hers

    was at Salisbury we drove n silence through the city We said good bye wthout even a handshake and as though we would meet on themorrow

    1 left Christopher at the staton gazng at a tmetable of nopossible snificance for hm


    What now follows are CS's account of another frustrated artistof the Province: Gerard Manley Hopkin


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    It may be mentioned in passg that the deliberate refusa to alow

    desire and choice to be separated was he main inspiration of sevnteenth�century religious art and poetry As soon as the separation issanctioned the beauty begins to go out of religion and the certitudeout of art.

    Al this it is clear, Hopkins knew very wel and kept deepeningthe knowledge of it. It represents his normal and considered positionand examples of his adhion to it occur again and again in hispoetry and his prse. Yet every now and aain bo in his sermonsand spiritual writings there re signs of a ark opposing presuppositi on which h seems unable t o exorcize wholy: the pruppositioof the lon ely wil struggling grimly against all that is most attractive

    to his higher nature.He says for example 1 that a man's personality and his nature arejoined together by God in a wholly arbitrary manneras if a mancould be saddled with a nature fundamentally out of tune with hisdestiny What he says in another place is a logica consequence ofthis that no initial impulse towards God the innte can come fromthe spontaneous desire of the soul al initiative coes from this isolated and mysterious ego, the arbtrium or self

    But the tendency in the soul towards an·innite object coes from thearbitum The rbitrum in itself is man's personality or individuality and

     plac m on a level o f individuality in soe sense wi th God; so tat i so

    far a God is one thing, a se an individual being, he is a object of appre-hension dire, pursui to mans rbrium.

    This suggests the image of wrestling with God in the sextet ofPoem, 64, which disappoints somewat aer the unsurpassable rstlines of the octet. It is an imag which is somehow alien toCatholicspirituality.

    In a seemingly dierent but in fact connecte context he saysin a sermon3 that the mere fact o being esteemed·makes a maproud. This is not true; esteem is a ood which a man can use fo the glory of God or muse for his own But the vanity of selfesteem

    1 See noe p. 293 I 46 6) ·

    3 See no p 275 ( 16, r, 16 2)

    z See note p 29 1  138 4)


    is in any case another and lesser danger than the lonely pride of selfsatifaction in selfw. To desire fame s more a folly than a crimesince it brings to most men-and it certainly woud to a Jesuit-asuch mockery and distress as soothing attery. But a cetain measureof teem is the natural climate which a mans gifts réquire in orderto operate fruitfully. 1 To desire a certain measure of esteem may bea mark of humility if a man know he cannot work wel without itto reect it may be a mark of pride Caught between Hopkinssexaggeration of the arbitrium and hs horror of esteem lay his poetic

     genius.His poetic enius was his very essence his inscape his speciallikenss the Divine Essence Yet Hopkins the Jesuit behaved toHopkin the poet as a Victorian husband might to a wife of whomhe had cause to be ashamed. His muse was a highborn lady achaste matron dedicate to God but he treated her in public asa slut and her children as an unwanted and vaguely sinful burdenThis is a dangerous thing to say because it raises biographical problems which can only be briey indicated but indicated they ustbe in so far as they are bound up wit his exaggerated distinctionbeteen the aective and the elective will.

    It is certain that Hopkin was keenly and even agonizingly awareof h duty to these chidren his poms and that in secret he lovedthem passionately This is clear from his letters especialy fromthe excange with Do (NovemberDecember I8I) about thecounterpoe A man? in order to manage his nature has sometimesto lay far more sress i one direction than ideally right for fearthat if he tries mèry to keep he balance he wil be overthrown.St Ignatius, for example in the early days of his conversion committed certain pious folies which he condemned in later yearsand would not alow his diciples to imitate. But in such cases aman is a surer judge of other problems than of his own

    From this would àrse the whole quesion of Hopkinss relations

    with his Superiors If his Superiors attached no importance to hispoetry then h was aiming at the perfection of obedience in tryingto make their attitude his own Bt on the other hand if they hadallowed himas they robably would have done had they beenasked-to let Dixon publish soe of his poems was it not his dutyto take this indirect means o f enlightening them One does nothave to be cynical to know that to the practical mind an unpublishedpoem may seem a waste of time but a published poem is aer alan achievement. n Hopkinss reply to Don it is not easy to

    This was Hopkins's own considerd and very emaic asseton in Oct 886(Lttrs i 23 1 )

    2 Lttrs i. 29-3

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    distingush between his spiritual desire to be unknown and his sesitive horror of ridicule.

    No it is certain that Hopkins's stress on a naked, anti-natural,on-aective will does t come either from Scotus or from StIgnatius, the two main inueces in hs spiritual wrtings But sicethat time thre had been the Romantic Movement, Carlyle'sHeroes', and the Victoran code of ethics From the RomantcMoement came the ntio of the poet as a riva priest and of poetryas a ew and more revealng regio As to the Victorian code, onedoes not have to be a social historian to know that in the days ofone's grandparents the dchotomy between duty' and inclinatin was taken for granted at every eveprovided the incnaton wasconscious. The idea of duty itself being an inclinaton was uhearof; duty was a sort o Katian categorica imperative t woud besurprisig f somehig of ths atmosphere had not invaded the traning of an EnisJesuit of that period There is here a probe whichal who am at holness have to solve n the Imitaion Christ whichs prescribed reading for alJesuts, a stark contrast s drawn betweenature and grace, and in the writings of many of the sants, StJohof the Cross, fo instance, all creatures have to be denied The

    Christan soution is not Manichan, but undoubtey in the nieteenth century a perhapsjansenistic spirt crept at tmes into Cathoic spiriuality, which corresponded with the severe educational andrelgious ideals current in England at that time

    At any rate there wee in the Engl�sh Provine at that time manymen of great, even gigantic, moral staturea surprising numer ofthem converts ke Hopkns, from a strcty practised ProtestantismHopks had an intense desre to be worh y of hs place amog s uchmen t s0metimes escaped hm that hs desire was entitativey thesame as hs desire to praise God through hs poetry nstead heteded to think of hs ove of beauty as a weakness to which strongermen than he were not abe, and to throw the whole weght of hsinomitable wl against t So he exaggeated Scotus's distntionbetween nature and individualty he assgne al hs ove of beautyto the voluntas ut natura and al hs desire for honess to the naedrbitrium instead of remembering that the love of beauty isasScotus says it isthe nitial impulse to the ove of God n thi way,is psychoogical error about the rbitrium may be ooed on both asa cause and an eect of hs depreciaton of s poetic genus

    Once more it must be stressed that ths was ot Hopns's normaand settled poise.  It was a  kink whiè  threatened  im when  he wa cobaance And even then, who is to say that, under hose circum- stances, e did not choose rightly? The counterpose', though ex-

    cessive  itself may  have  been right for  the whole. The  cri ticisms 



    levelled at hm here are meat as ivesigators only They are o inany sense conclusons. The only possible concluson s tha, mixedthough hs motives may have been both conscious and unconscious,he believed with complete sncerty that the sacrice of his poeticgifts was a fathful imtaton of Our Lord in the great sacrice. Inepy to Dixon's smple but really unaswerable remark: Surelyone vocatio cannot destroy another', he wrote Now f you value what write, as do myself, much more does our Lord And if hechooses to aval hmsef of what eave at his disposa he can do so wit a feicity and a success which I coud never command' (Leters,ii 93)

    As thgs have turned out, who are say that he was not rght?

    There follows, in English and in French, the letter which GMHwrote during his tertianship, explaining his reluctance to allow his friends to publish his poetry 

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    Hopkins écrivait ce texte à un de ces amis, qui voulait publier ses poésies, pendant les jours de repos de

    ses Exercices du troisième an. Comment y réagis-tu ?

    Quand un homme s'est consacré au service de Dieu, quand il s'est renoncé pour suivre

    le Christ, il s'est préparé à recevoir et reçoit en effet de Dieu une direction spéciale,

    une providence particulière. Cette direction lui est dispensée en partie par des

    lumières et des inspirations directes. Si j'attends de recevoir cette direction, par

    quelque canal qu'elle me soit imprimée, en toutes choses, à propos de ma poésie parexemple, j'agis plus sagement à tous égards que si je m'efforce de servir mes propres

    intérêts apparents en la matière. Or, si vous appréciez ce que j'écris, si je l'apprécie

    moi-même, bien davantage le fait Notre-Seigneur. S'il choisit de faire usage de ce que

     je laisse à sa disposition, il le fait avec une félicité et un succès auxquels je ne saurais

    prétendre. Et s'il ne le fait point, deux choses en résultent; la première, c'est que la

    récompense que je recevrai néanmoins de lui n'en sera que plus grande, - la seconde,combien j'eusse agi à l'encontre de sa volonté et même de mes propres intérêts si j'avais

    pris les choses en main et poussé à la publication [de mes poèmes]. Tel est mon

    principe et telle a été dans l'ensemble ma ligne de conduite : mener la sorte de vie que

     je mène ici semble aisé, mais lorsqu'on se mêle au monde et qu'on est de toutes parts

    l'objet de ses sollicitations secrètes, c'est chose plus difficile, c'est chose très difficile

    que de vivre selon la foi; néanmoins, avec l'aide de Dieu, je ferai toujours ainsi.

    Notre Société accorde de la valeur, comme vous le dites, et a contribué, à la littérature,

    à la culture, mais seulement comme à un moyen en vue d'une fin. Son histoire et son

    expérience montrent que la littérature proprement dite, la poésie par exemple, s'est

    rarement révélée très utile à cette fin Nous avons vu pendant trois siècles la fleur de

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    1-16 December 1881 to Richard Watson Dixon

    CRWD XXII, 92 Bodleian

    Addressed to The Rev.Canon Dixon | Hayton Vicarage | Carlisle. PM PUTNEY S.W. DE 16 81. Written on twolarge folded sheets and one small sheet.

    Manresa House, Roehampton, S.W. Dec. 1 1881 (the very day 300 years ago of Fr. Campion’s martyrdom).

    My dear friend, -- I am heartily glad you did not make away with, as you say you thought of doing, so warm and precious a letter as your last. It reached me on the first break or day of repose in our month’s retreat; I began

    answering it on the second, but could not finish; and this is the third and last of them.When a man has given himself to God’s service, when he has denied himself and followed Christ, he has fitted

    himself to receive and does receive ^from God^ a more special guidance, a more particular providence. Thisguidance is conveyed partly by the action of other men, as his appointed superiors, and partly by direct lights andinspirations. If I wait for such guidance, through whatever channel conveyed, about anything, about my poetry for

    instance, I do more wisely in every way than if I try to serve my own seeming interests in the matter. If ^Now if^you value what I write, if I do myself, much more does our Lord. And if he chooses to avail himself of what I

    leave at his disposal he can do so with a felicity and with a success which I could never command. And if he doesnot, then two things follow; one that the reward I shall nevertheless receive from him will be all the greater; theother that then I shall know how much a thing contrary to his will and even to my own best interests I should have

    done if I had taken things into my ^own^ hands and forced on publication. This is my principle and this in themain has been my practice: liv^lead^ing the sort of life I do here it is ^seems^ easy, but when one mixes with theworld to live and meets on every side its secret solicitations, to live by faith is harder, is very hard; nevertheless

     by God’s help I shall always do so. Our Society values, as you say, and has contributed to literature, to culture; but only as a means of to an end.

    Its history and its experience shews that literature proper, as poetry, has seldom to been found to be to that end avery serviceable means. We have had for three centuries often the flower of the youth of a country in numbersenter our body: among these how many poets, how many artists of all sorts, there must have been! But there have

     been very few Jesuit poets and, where they have been, I believe it would be found on examination that there wassomething exceptional in their circumstances or, so to say, counterbalancing in their career. For genius attracts

    fame and individual fame St. Ignatius looked on as the most dangerous of all and dazzling of all attractions. There1

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    Stanislaus6 told in or commented on under emblems; it was much in the style of Herbert and his school and aboutthat date; it was by some Polish Jesuit. I was astonished at their beauty and brilliancy, but the author is quite

    obscure. Brilliancy does not suit us. Bourdaloue7 is reckoned a ^our^ great^est^ orator: he is severe in style.

    Suarez8 is our for^most^ famous th divine theologian: he is a man of vast volume of mind, but without originalityor brilliancy; he treats everything satisfactorily, but you never remember a phrase of his, the manner is nothing.

    Molina9 is the man who made our theology: he was a genius and even in his driest dialectic I have remarked acertain fervour like a poet’s. But in the great controversy on the Aids of Grace, the most dangerous crisis, as I

    suppose, which our Society ever went through till its suppression, though it was from his book that it had arisen,he took, I think, little part. The same sort of thing may be noticed in our saints. St. Ignatius10 himself wascertainly, every one who reads his life will allow, one of the most extraordinary men that ever lived; but after the

    establishment of the Order he lived in Rome so ordinary, so hidden a life, that af when after his death they beganto move in the process of his canonisation one of the Cardinals, who had known him in his later life and in that

    way only, said that he had never remarked anything in him more than in any edifying priest. St. StanislausKostka’s life and vocation is a bright romance -- till he entered the noviceship, where after 10 months he died, andat the same time its interest ceases. Much the same may be said of St. Aloysius Gonzaga. 11 The Blessed John

    Berchmans12 was canonised beatified for his most exact observance of the rule; he said of himself and the text isfamous among us, Common life is the greatest of my mortifications; Gregory XVI (I think) when the first stepswere to be taken said of him too: At that rate you will have to canonize all the Roman College. I quote these cases

    to shew ^prove^ that shew and brilliancy do not suit us, that we cultivate the commonplace outwardly and wishthe beauty of the king’s daughter the soul to be from within. 

    I could say much more on all this, but it is enough and I must go on to other things.

    My Liverpool and Glasgow experience laid upon my mind a conviction, a truly crushing conviction, of themisery of town life to the poor and more than to the poor, of the misery of the poor in general, and of thedegradation even of our race, of the hollowness of the^is^ nineteenth century’s civilisation: it made even life a

     burden to me to have it daily thrust upon me the things I saw. … 

    Earnestly thanking you for your kindness and wishing you all that is best I remain your affectionate friendGerard M. Hopkins S.J.

    Dec. 16 1881.

    1. Costanzo Giuseppe Beschi, whose Tēm-bāv-ani (an epic poem on the legends of St. Joseph and the Gospel narratives, with aninterpretation by the author and edited by the Abbé Dupuis) was published in 3 vols 1851-3 Beschi was helped in writing this work

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    the efficacy of grace has its ultimate foundation, not within the substance of the Divine gift of grace itself, but in the Divinelyforeknown fact of free human cooperation with this gift. The implications of this teaching were attacked by conservative theologiansand the ensuing controversies ‘De Auxiliis’ were the subject of a special Congregation in Rome (1598-1607).

    10. St. Ignatius Loyola (1491/5-1556) came from an aristocratic family and initially followed a military career. A wound brought him a prolonged period of inactivity during which he found his religious vocation. At Manresa in 1522-3 he wrote the Spiritual Exercises,which form an integral part of the life of members of the Society of Jesus, an order which he later founded. He was canonized in 1622.

    11. A youth of great promise (1568-9l); canonized in 1726.

    12. Remarkable for his fervent piety (1599-1621); canonized in 1888.13. RWD’s History of the Church of England from the Abolition of the Roman Jurisdiction (1878). 

    14.‘A History of the Protestant Reformation in England and Ireland; showing how that event impoverished the main body of the people inthose countries; . . . In a series of letters addressed to all sensible and just Englishmen’ (1824-7). William Cobbett (1763-1835) waslargely self-educated. After serving as a soldier in America, he became a journalist and eventually an MP. His book criticizes Protestant

    attitudes to Catholicism and blames the Reformation for causing pauperism.15. There is an abbreviated edition, revised, with notes and preface by Cardinal F. Gasquet in 1898.16.The ‘beginning of pauperism’ is mentioned in Letter IX, and dealt with at length in Letter XVI. 

    17. GMH christened the song ‘Wayward Water’ though it is also known by its first line as ‘Sky that rollest ever’. Dixon’s poem had fivestanzas but Hopkins repeated material for a refrain, which he said he was ‘forced to add’ (letter of 16.09.1881). 

    18. For ‘Bayly’, i.e. Nathaniel Thomas Haynes Bayly (1797-1839), poet, playwright and in his day second only to Thomas Moore as asongwriter.

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    9 Musami, 9580 Musami 959

    Part Fiv: Home







    ' condemned to death! Those were pretty frightening words for

    a  boy to hear spoken in a dramatic whisper in a dark school chapel.The speaker was Father Wooock, S.J He was illustrating a reeat

    ermon with reminiscences from his days as chaplain during the thenrecently concluded first world war At the time assumed the storymust be true Since then have walked often in the company ofretreat maters to discover that not al have the same standards ofobjectivity Soe regard stories as parables to be tld as if they werehistorcal facts - n the model of the good Samaritan or theprodigal son To add verisimilitude to unlikely stories soe

    preachers reject the journey of an uknown man going from Jeusalem to Jericho In its place they ll the fictitious tale ofthemselves on a journey from Wigan to Blackpool 1 cannot therefore say whether Father Woodocks stry was tre or false It wascertainly a good story nd here it is in more o less his own words

    A sixteenyear old boy ran away from his Jesuit boarding school- wh ere happened to be teaching- to join the army He lied

    about his age as many atriotic young men did in 95. It wasnot unknown for recruiting sergeants to tell schoolboys of sixteenwho gave their true age Come back tomorrow sonny, when youare eighteen and old enough to join the army

    Thi boy was wel built and very intelligent He was pickeout, rapidy trained and given a commission He was barelyseenteen when he found Pimself in France an officer in chargeof a platon He was shocked by the casualties, the noise thestench and even by te language of his men He soon becamedispirited and demoralised So one day he attempted to givehimself a wound whch would not be dangerous but seriousenough to take him back to Blighty This was the soldiers wordfor England, Home and Beaut Unfortunately a Colonel waswatching the boys performance through field glasses What hsaw was pathetic The poor boy had so lost his nerve that hehadnt the gts even to wound himself He merely threw himselfon the ound pretending to be a casualty He deserted the menhe was suppose to lead in the attack on the enemy trenches.

    A subsequent court martial sentenced him to death wasallowed to stay with him the whole night before his execution It


    Finally, a rather odd preface to the biography, written by CardinalHeenan, then Archbishop of Westminster, seriously ill at easewith what was happening in Catholic circles in 1973.

  • 8/18/2019 Devlin Dossier


     was the longest night of my ife We talked for hours of the oddays at school. I promised to write to his parents and tel themthat he had served Mass on the day he died and that he had methis death bravey This comforted him greatly and, to my surpriseand  relief, he soon fe asleep as i he hadn't a care in the world

    As the hour approached when he must face the firing squad it was I who felt a cowd I kept postponing the moment when Imust wake him up At ast I cod put if off no longer Feeinglike a murderer I shook him gently and he woke up When he sawme he thought for a moment that he was back at school He

    smied and greeted me Then, suddeny, he remembered Anagonised look came over his face He whispered ' condemnedto death!'

    The point of the story was, of course, tht we are all condemnedto death although, unlike this boy, we know neither the day nor thehour I was reminded of all this the first time I saw ChristopherDevin after his unsuccessfu operation for cancer He was much toointelligent to be deceived by compassionate doctors and nurses Heknew  very wel that he was condemned to death and that the cal would come within a few weeks or months Unike the boy, however, he had no agonised look on his face He was serene He wasdetermined to use whatever time might be left to him  ad majoremDei gloriam. The Jesuit motto was his rule of life He, of course, would not have said so He wa s res erved and sensitive He w anted tocause the east possible trouble to his family and friends He asohoped to keep faith with his pulisher

    I asked him there was anything I might provide to comfort himin his painfu illness He smiled as he made his request He told methat his breviary contained the new psater with its almost clinicaltranslation of the Latin psams He longed for the familiar version inthe old psalter which though sometimes meaningle�s was full of

     rhyth It woud be unfar, he felt, to ask his superiors to uy himnew breviaries since he had so little time left to use them If I cared

    to give him soe discarded breviaries of mine he would die happyThat eems to be a trivial incident but it gives insight nto hischaracter He was a true poet He could bear bodily pain bravely butaesthetic afont he coud not withstand He was also a man ofprayer esser men might have asked for soe gift to assuagephysica discomfort Christopher sought help to remove distractionfrom his daiy prayers He was also a typical Jesuit - if such a beingcan truy be said to exist I mean that he oved the Society and in aspirit of poverty wanted to make no extravagant demands upon itscharity

    What is the most notable characteristic of the Sons of StIgnatius? I would say it is their discipline The order was originalycalled not the Society but the Company of Jesus Teir sodier


    founder pictured his order as a company of soldiers of Christ For asodier discipline is all imprtant Father Devlin died just beforepriests and reigious began to become introspective He had neverconsidered what with clergy was later to become the obsessivequestion of his purpose and identity as a priest He was asomercifuly spared the current quest for maturity His maturity had been gained on the hard way of the Cross He knew his identity to be that of an alter Christus However disappo inted h e had been when

    his superiors refused to give him the academi opportunities for which he was so eminently suited he did not rebel He continued toact according to the spirit of his vow of obedience Oxford or Africa,an army chaplaincy or the schoolroom he cheerfuly wentherever obedience might drect him His friends fretted because he

     was not given sufficient scope to develop his dazzling gifts as a writer Christopher Devlin did not fret He found peace of soul inobeying orders

    In September , Father Arrupe, General of the Jesuits, toldal members of the Society of Jesus what was expected of themduring these days of the Church's renewal Having visited thecommunities of his order throughout the world he gave an accountof what e had seen Tho se wh o know only the Jesuits of fictionmight imagine that the Father Genera woud have listed the numberof J esits i n key positions directing public opinion or those in thehighest hoastic posts Instead he spoke of the majority of Jesuits who do sient but valuable work, without attracting the notice of thesensationseeking pu blic'

    Christopher Devlin was one of ther number He is remembered by historians and literati, by schoolboys and soldiers, by poorAfricans, by priests and nuns who sought his spiritual guidance Tothe sensationseeking public he was unknown I hope that thisspendid account of his life will make him known to the many who

    often ook in vain for the story of the spirit in a modern idiom

    December 1969


    John Carina HeenanArchbishop of Westminser