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'LUKE DELMEGE'

E have once again to offer our hearty congratulations

though not in all respects up to the standard of My New Curate, is still a book of uncommon interest. The phases of clerical life with which it deals are touched by the hand of an expert. The humour and the pathos of the story will bring smiles and tears to many a fireside in Ireland and beyond the seas. Irishmen of all classes, layman and priest, merchant and manufacturer, the reformer of antiquated methods in agriculture and industry, the pioneer of technical education, the zealot and the doctrinaire, will all find food for reflection in the book. It will help them, if they need help, to realize the difficulties of their task. It will do but little, we fear, to enable them to solve the riddle that puzzles so many theoretical philanthropists.

The deep note of religious faith echoes through the book from beginning to end, but the light note of humour tingles on the surface. The development of this latter vein, since the days of Geoffrey Austen is quite remarkable, and to a great extent accounts for the widespread popularity of Father Sheehan's recent works.

Humour that takes the critical turn is a dangerous possession; but Father Sheehan has kept his gift well in control; and there is not a sally of his wit or a gleam of his comic descriptions that any critic could seriously find fault with.

Lightly, sparingly, and with a sympathy begotten of intimate acquaintance, does he depict the foibles, the peculiarities, the eccentricities of his brethren. No one assuredly could do it more mildly and write a novel. We have heard, no doubt, the cry of Wolf! Wolf!' It is hard to write anything nowadays without someone shouting

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1 Luke Delmege. By the Rev. P. A. Sheehan, Author of My New Curate, etc. London: Longmans, Green, & Co. 1901. 6s.

VOL. XI.

'Wolf' from behind his anonymous hedge. The man must, however, be badly off, indeed, for a wolf who seeks one in the author of Luke Delmege and My New Curate.

At a time when we are all talking so loudly of the havoc wrought by the corrupt literature that pours into our country from across the channel we cannot but feel deeply grateful to one who has done a man's part, and done it so effectively, to stem the tide. Father Sheehan's novel may have its defects; it may not be all that we might wish; we shall not conceal our dislike for many of its features; but in substance it is a good book; and should it find a place alongside My New Curate in every Irish cottage the home will be the richer and the better for its possession.

Maynooth, we observe, has come in for its share of the author's sly and pungent criticism; but Maynooth has with stood the shock of far more wicked assaults with comparative equanimity. She was not much affected by the caricatures of Lever or of Carleton. The satire of Thackeray and Carlyle left her undisturbed. Now, that she is putting on the coat of her second century, she is not likely to become more sensitive than she used to be to the shafts of humorists and of novel-writers. They are all welcome to try their hand. If they have any suggestion to make for her good that is practical and sound, a thing that rarely occurs, we have no doubt it will get due consideration. If not, those responsible for the College will probably listen to their babble whilst they follow their own guiding star.

It must not be thought that Maynooth is the only college in the world that sends out a 'first of first' man with a good conceit of himself. The author of Luke Delmege has possibly heard of the Cambridge Senior Wrangler who, with his academic honours thick and fresh upon him, went up to London and drove to the theatre. Just as he made his appearance a great outburst of cheering arose from the assembly, and he immediately proceeded to bow in all directions, acknowledging the cheers. To his great disgust, however, he soon learned that the cheers were intended, not for himself, but for King George IV., who was just then entering his box.

Maynooth also shares with many other colleges the privilege of sending out into the world men whose knowledge is, for the time being at all events, crude and ill-digested. We ourselves had the privilege of meeting, some years ago, a distinguished Oxford graduate, who had just carried away the prize of his university in Modern History, but was, nevertheless, under the impression that Daniel O'Connell was a Protestant. We had great difficulty in persuading him that he was mistaken.

Luke Delmege combines the defects of these representatives of Oxford and Cambridge. He goes forth from Maynooth with his head turned; he is elated by success, carried away by his worldly hopes. Still worse, he is utterly ignorant of the manners of the drawing-room; he does not know when it is his duty to open the door for the ladies; he has not seen the most recent numbers of the Lancet and the Medical Press; he is not able to hold his own in the illuminating conversation of the Sumners and the Louis Wilsons; he dare not go to the piano to sing: he shouts his ballad from the chimney-piece; he has not read Gabriele d'Annunzio's last; he has never even heard of Guy de Maupassant: terrible terrible drawbacks of Maynooth education, to which the attention of the Trustees ought to be called at the earliest possible moment. They might surely be expected to get up a drawing-room in Maynooth in which those of their students who have no drawing-rooms at home, and who know not how to profit by the instructions of Valuy or the Manual of Etiquette,' might be taught how to stand at a piano and to hand around tea. At this hour of the day young clerics might at least be supplied with an up-to-date library that would bring them into line with the age, and enable them to speak with authority of Zola and of Ouida to those intellectual giants, the Sumners and Louis Wilsons, of our country towns and villages.

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A mere knowledge of scholastic philosophy is not, it appears, after all, the best equipment for a man who has to face the philosophies of the world. Leo XIII. may think otherwise; but then Leo XIII. has a good deal to learn from

young men with progressive views. Rusty weapons dug up from the saw-pits of the middle ages are expected to stand against the instruments of precision brought to bear upon them by modern science. As well might you put the effigy of a knight in doublet and breastplate in front of a Maxim gun. Just fancy your Sic argumentaris, Domine, applied to the reasoning of a Huxley or a Mallock? Why it would go to pieces in your hands before the dialectics of the new woman, to say nothing of the new man? Only think of the Maynooth stripling who has been immersed for six or seven years in the mere theoretical study of Christian principles, and who has not devoted more than a single year to the department of ethics and sociology, presuming to have an opinion on questions of politics and economics in the presence of Mr. Taper and Mr. Tadpole, of those thoughtful experts, graduates, perhaps, of a University, who have been ruminating on such questions all their lives; or in face of practical men of the world, trained to business habits and comprehensive views, in the public-houses and pawn-shops of the country!

At least if the juvenile cleric wishes to rise above his immediate surroundings, and to take an intelligent interest, even though he take no active part, in the great movements of thought that agitate the world, let him not go forth without having grappled with the antagonists of his time. Let him make an honest endeavour to grasp the principles of Kant and of Spencer, of Comte and of Haeckel, of Lasalle and of Karl Marx. Let him do it at first hand and not through the pauperizing medium of a text-book. This certainly has a fine sound. But we wonder what the professors of Higher Philosophy have been doing in Maynooth for the past ten or fifteen years. Luke Delmege had, we believe, left the College just before they came. In so far we sympathize with him. But it is not the philosophical faculty alone that is responsible for his outfit. He is the product of the College as a whole. He must have had the advantage of being trained in the theological school and in the school of character and discipline by some of the greatest churchmen of the century. That between them

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they should have turned out the blundering idiot' their 'first of first' man proves himself to be could not be regarded as very complimentary, if there was any evidence of an intention on the part of the author to represent Luke Delmege as the best that they could educate. But, in our opinion, there is no such evidence. The hero is from the start a strange and peculiar personage. As such he is

treated all along the line. Foreigners and others may, no doubt, regard him as representative of Maynooth education. But after all what great matter does it make how they regard him?

We have heard of persons who think that in all this. Father Sheehan has dealt an unnatural blow at the reputation of his Alma Mater. There are few, we imagine, so narrow-minded as to share in this view. We prefer to think that the interest of the author of Luke Delmege in his own college is not the less warm and sincere because he has spoken so freely of what he regards as some of her shortcomings. Whether he is justified in his strictures is a matter that we should like to leave to others to decide. All we can say is that to us they appear supremely ridiculous. It is but natural that those who are jealous of the fair name of the College should object to see her held up to the scoffs of Englishmen and Americans. But then, of course, everything depends on the intention of the writer and on the importance that need be attached to the opinion of those who generalize and conclude from the specimens presented to them. If she has turned out a 'Luke Delmege,' has she not also turned out a parish priest of Doneraile? The greatest tribute to her position in the ecclesiastical world is that so many persons should be concerned about her merits and defects. She has in hand, in truth, an undertaking that is serious and weighty enough not to trouble herself about trifles. So great is the variety of her interests and activities that she may safely welcome criticism on many details of her work. Minds of a worldly tinge may not be able to judge her methods without bias. Enough for her if she attains with the great mass of the young men she sends out into the world the standard of St. Bonaventure, Incedunt securius, resistunt fortius.

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