That Unspeakably Stupid Statement

Venerable Fulton J. Sheen.
Venerable Fulton J. Sheen.

Nothing has so much vitiated the wells of friendliness as that unspeakably stupid statement of Voltaire about tolerance which is so often quoted: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Now translate that into modern language: Voltaire would say to Hitler: “I disapprove of your saying that Nazism is human and democratic but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Or, “I disapprove of your saying that the President ought to be killed but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
And this same Voltaire who set himself up as the apostle of tolerance is the same Voltaire who spent most of his life writing: “Destroy Christianity, that infamy. It took only twelve men to found it; it will take only one to destroy it.” Those who are most vehement in pleas for tolerance are often those most intolerant themselves. Shall we forget that in the early days of America the most vociferous propagandists of tolerance were also those who said it did not apply to “Jews and Papists”?

Venerable Fulton J. Sheen, Seven Pillars of Peace, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1945.

The Church Is Not in Danger

Venerable Fulton J. Sheen.
Venerable Fulton J. Sheen.

Think not that this plea for unity is born of an admission of weakness, or because I fear that the Church or religion is in danger. Certainly, the Church is not in
danger, for it has the divine assurance that Christ will be with it all days even to the consummation of the world. In vain will men look for the death of the undying, or the breaking of the Rock against which even the gates of hell shall not prevail. The Church that survived Neros and Julians, Domitians and barbarian invasions, will also live to sing requiems over Hitler and his fellow-dictators.

It is not the sanctuary that is in danger; it is civilization. It is not infallibility that may go down; it is personal rights. It is not the Eucharist that may pass away; it is freedom of conscience. It is not divine justice that may evaporate; it is the courts of human justice. It is not that God may be driven from his throne; it is that men may lose the meaning of home; it is not that the war may never end; it is that peace may never come. For peace on earth will come only to those who give glory to God! It is not the church that is in danger, it is the world!

Venerable Fulton J. Sheen, Seven Pillars of Peace, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1945.

That People Whose God Is the Lord

Adalbert John Volck, Prayer in Stonewall Jackson's Camp (from Confederate War Etchings), c. 1861-1863, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Adalbert John Volck, Prayer in Stonewall Jackson’s Camp (from Confederate War Etchings), c. 1861-1863, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Let us work and pray that our people may be that nation whose God is the Lord. It is delightful to see the Congressional Committee report so strongly against Sabbath mails. I trust that you will write to every member of Congress with whom you have any influence, and do all you can to procure the adoption of the report. And please request those with whom you correspond (when expedient) to do the same. I believe that God will bless us with success if Christians but do their duty. For near fifteen years Sabbath mails have been through God’s blessing avoided by me, and I am thankful to say that in no instance has there been occasion for regret, but on the contrary God has made it a source of pure enjoyment to me. Letter of General Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson to his pastor Rev. Dr. William Spottswood White.

I have read with great interest the report of the Congressional Committee, recommending the repeal of the law requiring the mails to be carried on the Sabbath, and hope you will feel it a duty, as well as a pleasure, to urge its repeal. I do not see how a nation that thus arrays itself, by such a law against God’s Holy Day, can expect to escape His wrath. The punishment of national sins must be confined to this world, as there is no nationality beyond the grave. […] Now is the time, it appears to me, to effect so desirable an object. I understand that not only our President, but also most of our colonels, and a majority of our congressmen are professing Christians. God has greatly blessed us, and I trust that He will make us ‘that people whose God is the Lord.’ Let us look to God for an illustration in our history, that ‘Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.’

Jackson to Col. Alexander Boteler, member of the Confederate Congress.

Some Spot of Native Land

Appomattox Court House National Park, Appomattox County.
Appomattox Court House National Park, Appomattox County.

A human life, I think, should be well rooted in some spot of native land, where it may get the love of tender kinship for the face of the earth, for the labours men go forth to, for the sounds and accents that haunt it, for whatever will give that early home a familiar unmistakeable difference amidst the future widening of knowledge: a spot where the definiteness of early memories may be inwrought with affection, and kindly acquaintance with all neighbours, even to the dogs and donkeys, may spread not by sentimental effort and reflection, but as a sweet habit of the blood. At five years old, mortals are not prepared to be citizens of the world, to be stimulated by abstract nouns, to soar above preference into impartiality; and that prejudice in favour of milk with which we blindly begin, is a type of the way body and soul must get nourished at least for a time. The best introduction to astronomy is to think of the nightly heavens as a little lot of stars belonging to one’s own homestead.

George Eliot, Daniel Deronda.

A Poison Harmful to the Faith

Arms of Archbishop Marcel-François Lefebvre, C.S.Sp.
Arms of Archbishop Marcel-François Lefebvre, C.S.Sp.

Furthermore it can be said without any exaggeration whatsoever, that the majority of Masses celebrated without altar stones, with common vessels, leavened bread, with the introduction of profane words into the very body of the Canon, etc., are sacrilegious, and they prevent faith by diminishing it. The desacralization is such that these Masses can come to lose their supernatural character, “the mystery of faith,” and become no more than acts of natural religion.

Your perplexity takes perhaps the following form: may I assist at a sacrilegious Mass which is nevertheless valid, in the absence of any other, in order to satisfy my Sunday obligation? The answer is simple: these Masses cannot be the object of an obligation; we must moreover apply to them the rules of moral theology and canon law as regards the participation or the attendance at an action which endangers the faith or may be sacrilegious.

The New Mass, even when said with piety and respect for the liturgical rules, is subject to the same reservations since it is impregnated with the spirit of Protestantism. It bears within it a poison harmful to the faith.

Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, An Open Letter to Confused Catholics.

I Don’t Want to Hurrah

Maj. Gen. George E. Pickett, C.S.A.
Maj. Gen. George E. Pickett, C.S.A.

I never could quite enjoy being a “Conquering Hero.” No, my dear, there is something radically wrong about my Hurrahism. I can fight for a cause I know to be just, can risk my own life and the lives of those in my keeping without a thought of the consequences; but when we’ve conquered, when we’ve downed the enemy and won the victory, I don’t want to hurrah. I want to go off all by myself and be sorry for them—want to lie down in the grass, away off in the woods somewhere or in some lone valley on the hillside far from all human sound, and rest my soul and put my heart to sleep and get back something—I don’t know what—but something I had that is gone from me—something subtle and unexplainable—something I never knew I had till I had lost it—till it was gone—gone – gone!

Yesterday my men were marching victoriously through the little town of Greencastle, the bands all playing our glorious, soul inspiring, southern airs: “The Bonny Blue Flag,” “My Maryland,” “Her Bright Smile Haunts Me Still,” and the soldiers all happy, hopeful, joyously keeping time to the music, many following it with their voices and making up for the want of the welcome they were not receiving in the enemy’s country by cheering themselves and giving themselves a welcome. As Floweree’s band, playing “Dixie,” was passing a vine-bowered home, a young girl rushed out on the porch and waved a United States flag. Then, either fearing that it might be taken from her or finding it too large and unwieldy, she fastened it around her as an apron, and taking hold of it on each side and waving it in defiance, called out with all the strength of her girlish voice and all the courage of her brave young heart:

“Traitors—traitors—traitors, come and take this flag, the man of you who dares!”

Knowing that many of my men were from a section of the country which had been within the enemy’s lines, and fearing lest some might forget their manhood, I took off my hat and bowed to her, saluted her flag and then turned, facing the men who felt and saw my unspoken order. And don’t you know that they were all Virginians and didn’t forget it, and that almost every man lifted his cap and cheered the little maiden who, though she kept on waving her flag, ceased calling us traitors, till letting it drop in front of her she cried out:

“Oh, I wish I wish I had a rebel flag; I’d wave that, too.”

The picture of that little girl in the vine-covered porch, beneath the purple morning glories with their closed lips and bowed heads waiting and saving their prettiness and bloom for the coming morn—of course, I thought of you, my darling. For the time, that little Greencastle Yankee girl with her beloved flag was my own little promised-to-be-wife, receiving from her Soldier and her Soldier’s soldiers the reverence and homage due her.

We left the little girl standing there with the flag gathered up in her arms, as if too sacred to be waved now that even the enemy had done it reverence.

As ever,

Greencastle, Pa., June 24, 1863.

The Heart of a Soldier: As Revealed in the Intimate Letters of Genl. George E. Pickett, C.S.A., New York: Seth Moyle, 1913.

Anglo-Saxon America vs. “Roman Politico-Religion”

The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus by Salvador Dali, c. 1958-1959, Salvador Dali Museum.
The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus by Salvador Dali, c. 1958-1959, Salvador Dali Museum.

This the reason why it is necessary for the truth, as to the discovery of America, to be established immediately. The near approach of the four hundredth anniversary of the landing and alleged discovery of Columbus, has revived the subject in the public mind and the floating rumours, occasionally taking concrete form in the American newspapers, of a grand commemoration of the event, convert it into a subject that must soon be decided one way or the other, and the approaching date, October 12th, 1892, into the date of most momentous decision, one that will fairly shake the world with its reverberation! This approaching anniversary of fraudulent discovery, the resolution of the United States with regard to their celebration of it, or their refusal to celebrate it, will test the sincerity and earnestness of the work of which the year 1876 was the glorious centennial; it will decide whether the date 1892 is to obliterate the date 1776, whether the Government, claiming to be purely secular, which has from the hour the Constitution was framed refused to admit the word “God” into it, will then be willing to insert both God and Pope in it; whether the country that indignantly threw off all allegiance in 1776 will then yield allegiance to the foulest tyrant the world has ever had, the Roman Catholic power!

Marie A. Shipley, The Icelandic Discoverers of America, or, Honor to Whom Honor is Due, New York: J.B. Alen, 1891.

In the Committee on the Judiciary of the Senate and House, there is now pending a measure to declare October 12 a legal holiday, to be known as Columbus Day. Congressman Michael J. Hogan of New York, who introduced the measure in the House, is a Roman Catholic, ‘educated’ in parochial schools. Senator William M. Calder of New York, the Senate sponsor for an identically worded measure, who is ostensibly a Protestant, was given an honorary degree recently by one of the large New York Roman Catholic colleges, Archbishop Hayes presiding. Regarding Senator Calder’s act in introducing the ‘Columbus Day’ bill, the following statement by Jay W. Forrest, Master of the Sons and Daughters of Washington, printed in the New York Sun of May 31, is of interest: ‘The only people in the United States who want a Columbus holiday are the Irish Roman Catholic Knights of Columbus. When we as a nation start in making national holidays, we have plenty of Americans to honor first. The day of the man who bargains for the votes of the Irish in this country is over.’ The ‘Knights,’ who take Columbus as their patron, have been conducting an aggressive campaign to spread the Roman politico-religion over the United States, ‘revise’ our history, and attack our school system by opposing all legislative measures designed to strengthen it, notably the Towner-Sterling Education Bill. In the interest of this anti-Anglo Saxon system, Columbus is a leading medium of propaganda, the false argument being, that since he ‘discovered’ America, it rightfully belongs to his co-religionists. All this is being met and overcome at the present hour, because the rise of truth has overtaken the lie, and is putting it down. Every true American will take a lively interest in uncovering the falsity of the Columbus claim, and in helping to establish the truth concerning the discovery of America by Leif Ericson in the year 1000. Write letters to your local papers; enlighten your public officials, school teachers, and members of school boards; petition Washington to take the picture of Columbus from our paper currency and from our national public buildings! The sword of Truth is unsheathed. Wield it for the honor and redemption of our country, America!

c. 1922 circular letter simply signed “Truth”.

Siege of Enniskillen Castle

Depiction of the siege of Enniskillen Castle, 1594, by John Thomas; Cotton Augustus I. ii. 39, British Library.
Depiction of the siege of Enniskillen Castle, 1594, by John Thomas; Cotton Augustus I. ii. 39, British Library.

Your sheriff shall be welcome but let me know his eric, that if my people should cut his head off I may levy it upon the country. Hugh Maguire, Lord of Fermanagh.


¶1] Alas for him who looks on Enniskillen, with its glistening bays and melodious falls; it is perilous for us, since one cannot forsake it, to look upon the fair castle, with its shining sward.

¶2] Long ere ever I came to the white-walled rampart amongst the blue hillocks it seemed to me if I could reach that house I should lack nothing.

¶3] I heard, alas for me that heard it, such repute of the fairy castle of surpassing treasure, and how my beguilement was in store, that it was impossible to turn me back from it.

¶4] This was the saying of each man regarding the splendid dwelling of the lion of the Erne—no man in Banbha ever saw a dwelling to equal it.

¶5] And they used to say moreover, whosoever should see the bending wood or the verdant slope, the level beach or the green field, would not take one step away from it.

¶6] After hearing its description when I had slept for a while I beheld no other vision save the splendor of the noble spacious dwelling.

¶7] I proceed on my way, I reach Enniskillen of the overhanging oaks; through the fair plain of bending, fruit-laden stems I was in no wise loth to approach it.

¶8] Ere I arrived beside the place I was startled at the tumult; the baying of their lively hounds and their hunting-dogs driving deer from the wood for them.

¶9] The strand beside the court, on the fairy-like bay of murmuring streams, was crowded with such groves of tapering ship-masts that they concealed the beach and its waves.

¶10] And hard by that enclosure I see a lovely plain of golden radiance, the moist-surfaced lawn of the bright-hued castle, the soil of Paradise, or else its very counterpart.

¶11] Thus did I find the green of the castle—upturned by the hooves of steeds; from the prancing of horses competing for triumph no herb flourishes in the soil of the outer yard.

¶12] The horses of the castle (were) running in contest, again I see them coursing one by one, until the surrounding hills were hidden, no mist upon them save an expanse (?) of steeds.

¶13] I make directly for the coupled fortress of the branch of Lie; those whom I found in the fair mansion— a wondrous content of a mansion were they.

¶14] I found the nobles of the race of Colla in the thronged court distributing treasure, and those who exposed the recondities of the genealogy of the Grecian Gaels.

¶15] I found, moreover, throughout the fortress plenty of poets and minstrels, from one bright, white-surfaced wall to the other—happy the dwelling in which they find room!

¶16] In the other division I found plenty of slender-lipped, satin-clad maidens, weaving wondrous golden fringes in the sportive (?) rampart with fair, sleek hounds.

¶17] All through the house is an abundance of soldiery, reclining by the side walls; their edged weapons hanging above the fighters, warriors of fruitful Druim Caoin.

¶18] A mighty band of elfin youth, either from the Fairy-mound of Bodhbh or from Lear’s Hostel, such that eye dared not regard them because of their splendor, were on the battlements of the bright, wooded rampart.

¶19] A company of artificers binding vessels, a company of smiths preparing weapons; a company of wrights that were not from one land at work upon her—fair pearl of babbling streams.

¶20] Dyeing of textures, polishing of blades, fitting of javelins, exercising of steeds; captives in surety, drawing up of conditions, scholars surveying the list of kings.

¶21] Taking of hostages, releasing of hostages; healing of warriors, wounding of warriors; continual bringing in and giving out of treasure at the wondrous, smooth, comely, firm, castle.

¶22] Part of that day they spent in talking of exploits, in meditating on battle; and a while would be spent by the host of Ushnagh in feasting, in listening to music.

¶23] Thus till supper-time we spent the whole of the fair day in the bright, green-swarded, fertile enclosure; as one hour in length did that day seem to us.

¶24] All began to seat themselves by the smooth walls of the white rampart; hardly in any hostel is there a number to equal the party that was therein.

¶25]  Cú Chonnacht Óg, son of Cú Chonnacht, supple form to which smoke clings, when all that were in his hostel have sat down he seats himself on his regal seat.

¶26] I sat on the right hand of the champion of Tara till the circling of goblets was over; though it had its due of nobles the king’s elbow never disdained me.

¶27] After a while, when it was time for those in the castle to take their rest, beds of down were prepared for the noblest of the alert, instructed host.

¶28] Ere day overtook the people of the hostel a band of them were fitting spears; at daybreak horse-shoes (?) were being fitted within and men were going to catch steeds.

¶29] Shortly after sleep I see around the hawk of Síoth Truim the picked ones of all in panoply of battle, in the gloomless, stone-built, firmly-standing court.

¶30] Ere the coming of morn the valiant youth of the king’s court set out from us; a great, lengthy, dense, spear-armed mass, ignorant they of making treaties of peace.

¶31] It was not long until the gold-ringletted race of Colla rejoined us, after completely subduing every territory, happy the kingdom which is their homeland.

¶32] That day around Loch Erne there is many a stranger woman whose husband is no more; many figures of wounded hostages coming in after the conflict.

¶33] Precious treasures there were in that dwelling, which had not been theirs at the beginning of day: and hard by the place there were cattle which had not been near them the night before.

¶34] Then were the poets of the castle rewarded by Eachaidh’s descendant, who never shrank from combat: small harm was the dearness of their poesy, riches had been got beyond what he allowed to them.

¶35] I went with the school to take leave of Maguire; away from the lofty, brightly appointed court, alas that he suffered me to go.

¶36] When parting from me, he said, shedding tears down his brown cheek, even though I might not be near to the warrior, that he was not parting from me for good.

¶37] I remember that the day I turned my back on the household of the king’s dwelling, such sorrow lay upon them all that the grief of any one of them was not distinct.

¶38] None the better am I that that household is no more, would I had consumed the end of my days; lest I be longlived after they have gone, it is perilous to me that I shall survive.

¶39] Never have I heard of a household so noble as that in the castle—what excellence—under any that sprang from the Collas; that is the pronouncement of every poet regarding it.

¶40] Lifford of the bright lawns, none ever quits it of his own free will; since it beguiles to the place a man from every quarter—alas for him that beholds it.

— The bardic poems of Tadhg Dall Ó Huiginn (1550-1591), UCC Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition.

Continue reading “Siege of Enniskillen Castle”

Sall Neuir Vex nor Molest

Heraldic plaque over the entrance to Carnasserie Castle, bearing the arms of Archibald Campbell, 5th Earl of Argyll, and his first wife, Jean Stewart, illegitimate daughter of King James V (divorced 1573), along with a Gàidhlig inscription interpreted "God [be] with O'Duibhne (Argyll)."
Heraldic plaque over the entrance to Carnasserie Castle, bearing the arms of Archibald Campbell, 5th Earl of Argyll, and his first wife, Jean Stewart, illegitimate daughter of King James V (divorced 1573), along with a Gàidhlig inscription interpreted “God [be] with O’Duibhne (Argyll).”

Apud Edinburgh, xxj May, anno 1m vc lxvij.

The quhilk day, in presens of the lordis of secreit counsale, comperit Maistir Lauchlane Macklane, and made fayth, that he neuer obtenit licence of oure souerane ladie to pas to Rome for purchessing and impetratioun of the Bischoprick of the Ilis, nor na vther benefices pertening to Maister Johnne Carswell, bischope of the Ilis, nor neuir purchest the said bischoprick, nor the abbacie of Ycolmkill, or vtheris benefices in ony tyme bigane. Alwayes, for the mair aboundance, he renunces, ouergevis, and dischargeis, simpliciter, all rycht, titill, intres, and clame of rycht quhilk he hes, or can ony wayes pretend or clame, to the said bischoprick or vtheris the said Maister Johnnes benefices. Ratifeand and apprevand the rychtis and titillis maid to the said Maister Johnne of the samyn, be thir presentis, and sall neuir vex nor molest the said Maister Johnne in the peciabill broukinig and posseding of the said bischoprick and vtheris his benefices, move nor intent actioun, pley, nor questioun aganis him for the samyn during his liftyme. Quhairfoir the quenis maiestie, with adviss of the lordis of hir secreit counsale, suspendis, simpliciter, the lettres purchest of the aduocattis instance aganis the said Maister Lauchlane Makclane, denunceing him rebell and putting him to the horne, in defalt of finding of souerte to vnderly the law in the tolbuyth of Edinburgh vponn the xvij day of Aprile last bipast, for his passing furth of this realme, nocht intimatand the caus of his passing to his ordinar, nor how he maid his fynance, and als be ressoun of his noncomperance the said xvij day; and ordanis ane masser or vther officiar to relax the said Maister Lauchlane fra the proces of horning led vpouu him in the said mater, and to gif him the wand of peace, and that lettres be direct heirvpoun in deu forme, as effeirs.

Registrum Secreti Concilii, acta, vol. from March 1563 to June 1567, fo. 274.

Clan Campbell Genealogy from MS 1467

MS 1467, folio 1 recto; Adv. MS. 72.1.1, National Library of Scotland. In the 19th century, William Forbes Skene added chemicals to sections of the text in an effort to enhance their legibility.
MS 1467, folio 1 recto; Adv. MS. 72.1.1, National Library of Scotland. In the 19th century, William Forbes Skene added chemicals to sections of the text in an effort to enhance their legibility.

genelach cloinni cailin ann so cailin og mac gille easpuig
mhic cailin mhic ailin mhic neill mhic ailin moir mhic gille espuig
mhic dubgaill mhic donnchaidh mhic gille easpuig mhic gille colaim
renabartha mac duibne mhic duibne mhic eirenai[n]
mhic meirbi mhic artuir mhic iubair*.i. righ in domain gan rusan**

The genealogy of the Clan Colin here: young Colin son of Archibald
son of Colin son of Allan son of Neil son of great (big) Allan1 son of Archibald
son of Dugald son of Duncan son of Archibald son of Gille Colaim
(who is called Mac Duibhne) son of Duibhne son of Eirenan
son of Smeirbhe son of Arthur son of Uther i.e. the unopposed king of the world.

* Uther Pendragon, father of King Arthur, is clearly the person Dubhghall has in mind here.

** “gan imresan” is a common expression in these manuscripts meaning “without contention”. He must have meant this.

— Advocates’ MS 72.1.1 (MS 1467), folio 1 recto, col. d, ll. 39-43;
transcription and translation by Ronald Black.

1 This is Cailean Mór Caimbeul. In isolation Ailín is ‘Allan’; following the c of mac or mhic it can represent either ‘Allan’ or a sort of scribal shorthand for Cailín ‘Colin’.

Mecca of the Gael

Iona Abbey.
Iona Abbey.

In spiritual geography Iona is the Mecca of the Gael. It is but a small isle, fashioned of a little sand, a few grasses salt with the spray of an ever-restless wave, a few rocks that wade in heather and upon whose brows the sea-wind weaves the yellow lichen. But since the remotest days sacrosanct men have bowed here in worship. In this little island a lamp was lit whose flame lighted pagan Europe, from the Saxon in his fens to the swarthy folk who came by Greek waters to trade the Orient. Here Learning and Faith had their tranquil home, when the shadow of the sword lay upon all lands, from Syracuse by the Tyrrhene Sea to the rainy isles of Orcc. From age to age, lowly hearts have never ceased to bring their burthen here. Iona herself has given us for remembrance a fount of youth more wonderful than that which lies under her own boulders of Dûn-I. And here Hope waits. To tell the story of Iona is to go back to God, and to end in God. Fiona MacLeod (William Sharp), Iona.

A Royal Pedigree to Half the Population of the Country

Detail of The Downsitting of Parliament, from Chatelain's "Atlas Historique" of 1720, showing a graphic scheme of the opening of the Estates of Parliament of Scotland about 1680 - 1685.
Detail of The Downsitting of Parliament, from Chatelain’s “Atlas Historique” of 1720, showing a graphic scheme of the opening of the Estates of Parliament of Scotland about 1680 – 1685.

That so many families claiming royal lineage should be found among our lowest classes is not astonishing. History tells us of change after change in the ruling dynasties of these islands, and of the advent of races the most varied in time and origin. During the last two thousand years enough kings and nobles have sunk from power to furnish a royal pedigree to half the population of the country. It is true that the present Royal Family, and the present aristocracy, inherit, to some extent, the blood of extinct dynasties. But only to some extent. The Prince of Wales has lawfully succeeded to various dignities; but these are of such opposite origin that they cannot possibly be typified in the person of one man. He cannot be, at the same time, a typical Prince of Wales and a typical Prince of Scotland; a genuine Duke of Cornwall and as genuine a Duke of Rothesay; a perfect specimen of the Lords of the Isles and an equally perfect Earl of Chester; he cannot be a thoroughbred Plantagenet, Stewart, Tudor, and Guelph — though a certain proportion of the blood of each may run in his veins. The circumstances that developed such titles have been matters of history for many generations; the titles themselves are now merely so many graceful honours, attaching by right of birth to the Heir Apparent.

David MacRitchie, Ancient and Modern Britons (London: 1884).