Wednesday, 12 March 2014



The Church has risen in its wrath and is preaching a scathing indictment of the sins of the Smart Set and all who ape their doing lower down the social ladder (writes a London correspondent under date September-7) The attack is all along the line, irrespective of creed or denomination. The Bishop of London led the van in his Lenten addresses;  Dr. Torrey brought his strong common sense to bear on the vice rampant in our midst; the Rev. C. Copeland Smith has drawn a terrible picture of West-End streets by night; Father Bernard Vaughan has flagellated the belles of Mayfair and Belgravia; and Fathers Ignatius, the "Monk of Llanthony," has denounced the immorality of the so-called ladies who disport themselves in scanty and diaphanous-raiment while bathing at the sea-side! So vigorously and with such dramatic force did Father Ignatius, speaking at Llandudno last Sunday, condemn the practice of "bathing in tights" that a shocked father rose and left the building with his family, calling out as he passed through the door, "I am shocked because of my two children."  "I do not wonder at any one being shocked," retorted the preacher. "It is high time this cesspool of filth was cleansed." His audience consisted mainly of smartly-attired women, and was probably as fashionably dressed a congregation as could be gathered at a seaside resort. The male sex were not absent, but undoubtedly the major portion were of the opposite gender. For over an hour the reverend father discoursed from the text, "And because they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind." He began with a description of the "smart set" of Rome at the dawn of Christianity, when that class was so degraded by a civilisation without God that it was devoid of any sense of shame, and its worship had become dedicated to the lust of human passion, as represented by the god Eros and the goddess Venus. So debased was it in erotic sin, that the Emperor Nero offered prizes to inventors of fresh malpractices.  
There must be some cause, he declared, for the, wave of immorality which had swept over the Smart Set, for the light manner in which the marriage vow was regarded by them, some reason why sons and daughters in society were so ready to say farewell to domestic life. Fifty years ago it was very different. The men of commerce then recognised God, and wrote above the Royal Exchange, "The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof." Now they were told that was all a myth, and people who spoke of God were considered out of date, and family prayers a thing of the past. Even at dinners where clergyman were present   there was much uneasiness at asking for grace to be said. Possessed of a reprobate mind, he could understand how ladies could crowd the divorce court when the dirty linen of society was being washed and listen there without a blush. He did not think there was anything that could bring a blush to the faces of fashionable ladies. Continuing, he said he was determined to speak plainly, because he knew what he was talking about. Why did the ladies at the seaside discard the ordinary dress and bathe in tights, except for one certain reason, for which the devil was the cause. It was said that Mrs. Grundy was complaining, but Mrs Grundy was not such a cantankerous old woman as she was made out to be. Her opinions were based upon a principle which could not be ignored the principle of putting restraint upon the wretched desires of society and those who imitated the upper classes. Why did ballet-girls show their legs on the stage except for the same reason? And now they had ladies in high society who wished to go on the stage as ballet girls, and come before the public with nothing on. How dared they wish to come before the people like that, and crave theatre managers to permit them! At this point the interruption occurred, and the indignant father left the building.
Father Ingatius, in continuation, said the remedy was for the Christian religion to be accepted; and the Bible believed from cover to cover! Illustrious men in every generation had come into the Church. It was for them to aid the Church to fight Eros and Venus worship, and smash up Polytheism off the altars of the schools of philosophy. When that was accomplished Christianity would rise from the ruins of a devil-begotten civilisation and create a public conscience which would make the commission of certain crimes impossible, and crown the world with peace. The old public opinion was passing away; that was the cause of the retrogression of society. People no longer wanted Christ to reign over them but Eros and Venus. Go to Paddington, he said, and see the throngs bound for the river on Sunday— young men and women desecrating the Sabbath.   Ah! how some of those young women would regret those pleasure-jaunts and sorrow at what took place on one particular Sunday. They would no longer know peace, perfect peace. He wished he could paint some of the scenes of what a society without Christ would mean — men and women left to themselves, with Christ's morality taken away. What such a society would be in a generation he shuddered to think. If he were asked to marry some of the girls in society he would say to them "No, you are incapable of Christian marriage." He would not make a mockery of religion by marrying a couple like that. He would sooner shoot them.

The Daily News  27 October 1906, 

No comments: