Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/224

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Catholics, who objected to what they called its pagan spirit. It was not enough that the author had imbued his hero with the principles of Catholic Christianity, his critics were dissatisfied because the artist had failed to label his wo?k in large letters. They were unquestionably sincere, and unquestionably narrow in their judgment. No better answer to such strictures could be given than this of the author himself, replying to the question:


Mr. J. A. McMaster, editor of the New York Freeman's Journal, says that when he had read "Moondyne" he threw it down, saying to one that admired the author, and had been charmed with the story: "That is a bad book!" "Why? "cried the guileless one, "was it wrong for me to have read it?" "Oh, not a bit! It is a weird romance of impossible characters, and set off with keen and quick perception of nature. It is faultless in regard to those sickly, twaddling love passages that offend in plenty of stories passed off as Catholic. The poison in this book finds nothing in you to take hold of, because you do not understand it. It is worse than pagan. Under the glamour borrowed from the results of Christian civilization, it breathes out principles that are not un-Christian only, but anti-Christian!"

This is a grave charge for one Catholic editor to make against another; but it loses in effect when we remember that he who makes it is given to such startling accusations, and has from time to time hurled condemnation on bishops, priests, and laymen, indiscriminately, and has himself received numerous serious reproofs for his unruly and aggressive disposition. We admire and respect Mr. McMaster's faith and intention; but we have very little regard for his perception, judgment, and temper. He speaks to the author of "Moondyne" as to a friend, and he pays him the respect of saying that he handles him roughly because he knows he can bear it. But the proof of friendship is the deed, not the word. Mr. McMaster refers to the serpent in Eden (which, by the way, he boldly says was not a serpent, "as vulgar stories tell"), saying:

"He deluded our poor dear old foolish grandmother Eve—and terribly she did penance for it. But he deluded her,—and his cry was precisely that of Boyle O'Reilly's 'Moondyne,' 'Away with law! Liberty! Liberty of the colt of the wild ass!' 'Mankind! yes mankind is older than the Birth of Jesus Christ! If Jesus Christ will become a republican we will adopt him! If not —'"

One could think, on reading these shocking words, that they were from Boyle O'Reilly’s book; that this was actually the cry of "Moon-