Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

´╗┐Title: Father Damien, an Open Letter to the Reverend Dr. Hyde of Honolulu
Author: Stevenson, Robert Louis, 1850-1894
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Father Damien, an Open Letter to the Reverend Dr. Hyde of Honolulu" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



Transcribed from the 1914 Chatto & Windus edition by David Price, email
ccx074@pglaf.org



FATHER DAMIEN
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE REVEREND DOCTOR HYDE OF HONOLULU
FROM
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON


1914
LONDON
CHATTO & WINDUS

A new impression
All rights reserved

SYDNEY,
_February_ 25, 1890.

Sir,--It may probably occur to you that we have met, and visited, and
conversed; on my side, with interest.  You may remember that you have
done me several courtesies, for which I was prepared to be grateful.  But
there are duties which come before gratitude, and offences which justly
divide friends, far more acquaintances.  Your letter to the Reverend H.
B. Gage is a document which, in my sight, if you had filled me with bread
when I was starving, if you had sat up to nurse my father when he lay a-
dying, would yet absolve me from the bonds of gratitude.  You know
enough, doubtless, of the process of canonisation to be aware that, a
hundred years after the death of Damien, there will appear a man charged
with the painful office of the _devil's advocate_.  After that noble
brother of mine, and of all frail clay, shall have lain a century at
rest, one shall accuse, one defend him.  The circumstance is unusual that
the devil's advocate should be a volunteer, should be a member of a sect
immediately rival, and should make haste to take upon himself his ugly
office ere the bones are cold; unusual, and of a taste which I shall
leave my readers free to qualify; unusual, and to me inspiring.  If I
have at all learned the trade of using words to convey truth and to
arouse emotion, you have at last furnished me with a subject.  For it is
in the interest of all mankind, and the cause of public decency in every
quarter of the world, not only that Damien should be righted, but that
you and your letter should be displayed at length, in their true colours,
to the public eye.

To do this properly, I must begin by quoting you at large: I shall then
proceed to criticise your utterance from several points of view, divine
and human, in the course of which I shall attempt to draw again, and with
more specification, the character of the dead saint whom it has pleased
you to vilify: so much being done, I shall say farewell to you for ever.

   "HONOLULU,
   "_August_ 2, 1889.

   "Rev. H. B. GAGE.

   "Dear Brother,--In answer to your inquires about Father Damien, I can
   only reply that we who knew the man are surprised at the extravagant
   newspaper laudations, as if he was a most saintly philanthropist.  The
   simple truth is, he was a coarse, dirty man, headstrong and bigoted.
   He was not sent to Molokai, but went there without orders; did not
   stay at the leper settlement (before he became one himself), but
   circulated freely over the whole island (less than half the island is
   devoted to the lepers), and he came often to Honolulu.  He had no hand
   in the reforms and improvements inaugurated, which were the work of
   our Board of Health, as occasion required and means were provided.  He
   was not a pure man in his relations with women, and the leprosy of
   which he died should be attributed to his vices and carelessness.
   Other have done much for the lepers, our own ministers, the government
   physicians, and so forth, but never with the Catholic idea of meriting
   eternal life.--Yours, etc.,

   "C. M. HYDE" {1}

To deal fitly with a letter so extraordinary, I must draw at the outset
on my private knowledge of the signatory and his sect.  It may offend
others; scarcely you, who have been so busy to collect, so bold to
publish, gossip on your rivals.  And this is perhaps the moment when I
may best explain to you the character of what you are to read: I conceive
you as a man quite beyond and below the reticences of civility: with what
measure you mete, with that shall it be measured you again; with you, at
last, I rejoice to feel the button off the foil and to plunge home.  And
if in aught that I shall say I should offend others, your colleagues,
whom I respect and remember with affection, I can but offer them my
regret; I am not free, I am inspired by the consideration of interests
far more large; and such pain as can be inflicted by anything from me
must be indeed trifling when compared with the pain with which they read
your letter.  It is not the hangman, but the criminal, that brings
dishonour on the house.

You belong, sir, to a sect--I believe my sect, and that in which my
ancestors laboured--which has enjoyed, and partly failed to utilise, and
exceptional advantage in the islands of Hawaii.  The first missionaries
came; they found the land already self-purged of its old and bloody
faith; they were embraced, almost on their arrival, with enthusiasm; what
troubles they supported came far more from whites than from Hawaiians;
and to these last they stood (in a rough figure) in the shoes of God.
This is not the place to enter into the degree or causes of their
failure, such as it is.  One element alone is pertinent, and must here be
plainly dealt with.  In the course of their evangelical calling, they--or
too many of them--grew rich.  It may be news to you that the houses of
missionaries are a cause of mocking on the streets of Honolulu.  It will
at least be news to you, that when I returned your civil visit, the
driver of my cab commented on the size, the taste, and the comfort of
your home.  It would have been news certainly to myself, had any one told
me that afternoon that I should live to drag such a matter into print.
But you see, sir, how you degrade better men to your own level; and it is
needful that those who are to judge betwixt you and me, betwixt Damien
and the devil's advocate, should understand your letter to have been
penned in a house which could raise, and that very justly, the envy and
the comments of the passers-by.  I think (to employ a phrase of yours
which I admire) it "should be attributed" to you that you have never
visited the scene of Damien's life and death.  If you had, and had
recalled it, and looked about your pleasant rooms, even your pen perhaps
would have been stayed.

Your sect (and remember, as far as any sect avows me, it is mine) has not
done ill in a worldly sense in the Hawaiian Kingdom.  When calamity
befell their innocent parishioners, when leprosy descended and took root
in the Eight Islands, a _quid pro quo_ was to be looked for.  To that
prosperous mission, and to you, as one of its adornments, God had sent at
last an opportunity.  I know I am touching here upon a nerve acutely
sensitive.  I know that others of your colleagues look back on the
inertia of your Church, and the intrusive and decisive heroism of Damien,
with something almost to be called remorse.  I am sure it is so with
yourself; I am persuaded your letter was inspired by a certain envy, not
essentially ignoble, and the one human trait to be espied in that
performance.  You were thinking of the lost chance, the past day; of that
which should have been conceived and was not; of the service due and not
rendered.  _Time was_, said the voice in your ear, in your pleasant room,
as you sat raging and writing; and if the words written were base beyond
parallel, the rage, I am happy to repeat--it is the only compliment I
shall pay you--the rage was almost virtuous.  But, sir, when we have
failed, and another has succeeded; when we have stood by, and another has
stepped in; when we sit and grow bulky in our charming mansions, and a
plain, uncouth peasant steps into the battle, under the eyes of God, and
succours the afflicted, and consoles the dying, and is himself afflicted
in his turn, and dies upon the field of honour--the battle cannot be
retrieved as your unhappy irritation has suggested.  It is a lost battle,
and lost for ever.  One thing remained to you in your defeat--some rags
of common honour; and these you have made haste to cast away.

Common honour; not the honour of having done anything right, but the
honour of not having done aught conspicuously foul; the honour of the
inert: that was what remained to you.  We are not all expected to be
Damiens; a man may conceive his duty more narrowly, he may love his
comforts better; and none will cast a stone at him for that.  But will a
gentleman of your reverend profession allow me an example from the fields
of gallantry?  When two gentlemen compete for the favour of a lady, and
the one succeeds and the other is rejected, and (as will sometimes
happen) matter damaging to the successful rival's credit reaches the ear
of the defeated, it is held by plain men of no pretensions that his mouth
is, in the circumstance, almost necessarily closed.  Your Church and
Damien's were in Hawaii upon a rivalry to do well: to help, to edify, to
set divine examples.  You having (in one huge instance) failed, and
Damien succeeded, I marvel it should not have occurred to you that you
were doomed to silence; that when you had been outstripped in that high
rivalry, and sat inglorious in the midst of your well-being, in your
pleasant room--and Damien, crowned with glories and horrors, toiled and
rotted in that pigsty of his under the cliffs of Kalawao--you, the elect
who would not, were the last man on earth to collect and propagate gossip
on the volunteer who would and did.

I think I see you--for I try to see you in the flesh as I write these
sentences--I think I see you leap at the word pigsty, a hyperbolical
expression at the best.  "He had no hand in the reforms," he was "a
coarse, dirty man"; these were your own words; and you may think it
possible that I am come to support you with fresh evidence.  In a sense,
it is even so.  Damien has been too much depicted with a conventional
halo and conventional features; so drawn by men who perhaps had not the
eye to remark or the pen to express the individual; or who perhaps were
only blinded and silenced by generous admiration, such as I partly envy
for myself--such as you, if your soul were enlightened, would envy on
your bended knees.  It is the least defect of such a method of
portraiture that it makes the path easy for the devil's advocate, and
leaves the misuse of the slanderer a considerable field of truth.  For
the truth that is suppressed by friends is the readiest weapon of the
enemy.  The world, in your despite, may perhaps owe you something, if
your letter be the means of substituting once for all a credible likeness
for a wax abstraction.  For, if that world at all remember you, on the
day when Damien of Molokai shall be named a Saint, it will be in virtue
of one work: your letter to the Reverend H. B. Gage.

You may ask on what authority I speak.  It was my inclement destiny to
become acquainted, not with Damien, but with Dr. Hyde.  When I visited
the lazaretto, Damien was already in his resting grave.  But such
information as I have, I gathered on the spot in conversation with those
who knew him well and long: some indeed who revered his memory; but
others who had sparred and wrangled with him, who beheld him with no
halo, who perhaps regarded him with small respect, and through whose
unprepared and scarcely partial communications the plain, human features
of the man shone on me convincingly.  These gave me what knowledge I
possess; and I learnt it in that scene where it could be most completely
and sensitively understood--Kalawao, which you have never visited, about
which you have never so much as endeavoured to inform yourself; for,
brief as your letter is, you have found the means to stumble into that
confession.  "_Less than one-half_ of the island," you say, "is devoted
to the lepers."  Molokai--"_Molokai ahina_," the "grey," lofty, and most
desolate island--along all its northern side plunges a front of precipice
into a sea of unusual profundity.  This range of cliff is, from east to
west, the true end and frontier of the island.  Only in one spot there
projects into the ocean a certain triangular and rugged down, grassy,
stony, windy, and rising in the midst into a hill with a dead crater: the
whole bearing to the cliff that overhangs it somewhat the same relation
as a bracket to a wall.  With this hint you will now be able to pick out
the leper station on a map; you will be able to judge how much of Molokai
is thus cut off between the surf and precipice, whether less than a half,
or less than a quarter, or a fifth, or a tenth--or, say a twentieth; and
the next time you burst into print you will be in a position to share
with us the issue of your calculations.

I imagine you to be one of those persons who talk with cheerfulness of
that place which oxen and wain-ropes could not drag you to behold.  You,
who do not even know its situation on the map, probably denounce
sensational descriptions, stretching your limbs the while in your
pleasant parlour on Beretania Street.  When I was pulled ashore there one
early morning, there sat with me in the boat two sisters, bidding
farewell (in humble imitation of Damien) to the lights and joys of human
life.  One of these wept silently; I could not withhold myself from
joining her.  Had you been there, it is my belief that nature would have
triumphed even in you; and as the boat drew but a little nearer, and you
beheld the stairs crowded with abominable deformations of our common
manhood, and saw yourself landing in the midst of such a population as
only now and then surrounds us in the horror of a nightmare--what a
haggard eye you would have rolled over your reluctant shoulder towards
the house on Beretania Street!  Had you gone on; had you found every
fourth face a blot upon the landscape; had you visited the hospital and
seen the butt-ends of human beings lying there almost unrecognisable, but
still breathing, still thinking, still remembering; you would have
understood that life in the lazaretto is an ordeal from which the nerves
of a man's spirit shrink, even as his eye quails under the brightness of
the sun; you would have felt it was (even today) a pitiful place to visit
and a hell to dwell in.  It is not the fear of possible infection.  That
seems a little thing when compared with the pain, the pity, and the
disgust of the visitor's surroundings, and the atmosphere of affliction,
disease, and physical disgrace in which he breathes.  I do not think I am
a man more than usually timid; but I never recall the days and nights I
spent upon that island promontory (eight days and seven nights), without
heartfelt thankfulness that I am somewhere else.  I find in my diary that
I speak of my stay as a "grinding experience": I have once jotted in the
margin, "_Harrowing_ is the word"; and when the _Mokolii_ bore me at last
towards the outer world, I kept repeating to myself, with a new
conception of their pregnancy, those simple words of the song--

   "'Tis the most distressful country that ever yet was seen."

And observe: that which I saw and suffered from was a settlement purged,
bettered, beautified; the new village built, the hospital and the Bishop-
Home excellently arranged; the sisters, the doctor, and the missionaries,
all indefatigable in their noble tasks.  It was a different place when
Damien came there and made this great renunciation, and slept that first
night under a tree amidst his rotting brethren: alone with pestilence;
and looking forward (with what courage, with what pitiful sinkings of
dread, God only knows) to a lifetime of dressing sores and stumps.

You will say, perhaps, I am too sensitive, that sights as painful abound
in cancer hospitals and are confronted daily by doctors and nurses.  I
have long learned to admire and envy the doctors and the nurses.  But
there is no cancer hospital so large and populous as Kalawao and
Kalaupapa; and in such a matter every fresh case, like every inch of
length in the pipe of an organ, deepens the note of the impression; for
what daunts the onlooker is that monstrous sum of human suffering by
which he stands surrounded.  Lastly, no doctor or nurse is called upon to
enter once for all the doors of that gehenna; they do not say farewell,
they need not abandon hope, on its sad threshold; they but go for a time
to their high calling, and can look forward as they go to relief, to
recreation, and to rest.  But Damien shut-to with his own hand the doors
of his own sepulchre.

I shall now extract three passages from my diary at Kalawao.

_A_.  "Damien is dead and already somewhat ungratefully remembered in the
field of his labours and sufferings.  'He was a good man, but very
officious,' says one.  Another tells me he had fallen (as other priests
so easily do) into something of the ways and habits of thought of a
Kanaka; but he had the wit to recognise the fact, and the good sense to
laugh at" [over] "it.  A plain man it seems he was; I cannot find he was
a popular."

_B_.  "After Ragsdale's death" [Ragsdale was a famous Luna, or overseer,
of the unruly settlement] "there followed a brief term of office by
Father Damien which served only to publish the weakness of that noble
man.  He was rough in his ways, and he had no control.  Authority was
relaxed; Damien's life was threatened, and he was soon eager to resign."

_C_.  "Of Damien I begin to have an idea.  He seems to have been a man of
the peasant class, certainly of the peasant type: shrewd, ignorant and
bigoted, yet with an open mind, and capable of receiving and digesting a
reproof if it were bluntly administered; superbly generous in the least
thing as well as in the greatest, and as ready to give his last shirt
(although not without human grumbling) as he had been to sacrifice his
life; essentially indiscreet and officious, which made him a troublesome
colleague; domineering in all his ways, which made him incurably
unpopular with the Kanakas, but yet destitute of real authority, so that
his boys laughed at him and he must carry out his wishes by the means of
bribes.  He learned to have a mania for doctoring; and set up the Kanakas
against the remedies of his regular rivals: perhaps (if anything matter
at all in the treatment of such a disease) the worst thing that he did,
and certainly the easiest.  The best and worst of the man appear very
plainly in his dealings with Mr. Chapman's money; he had originally laid
it out" [intended to lay it out] "entirely for the benefit of Catholics,
and even so not wisely; but after a long, plain talk, he admitted his
error fully and revised the list.  The sad state of the boys' home is in
part the result of his lack of control; in part, of his own slovenly ways
and false ideas of hygiene.  Brother officials used to call it 'Damien's
Chinatown.'  'Well,' they would say, 'your Chinatown keeps growing.'  And
he would laugh with perfect good-nature, and adhere to his errors with
perfect obstinacy.  So much I have gathered of truth about this plain,
noble human brother and father of ours; his imperfections are the traits
of his face, by which we know him for our fellow; his martyrdom and his
example nothing can lessen or annul; and only a person here on the spot
can properly appreciate their greatness."

I have set down these private passages, as you perceive, without
correction; thanks to you, the public has them in their bluntness.  They
are almost a list of the man's faults, for it is rather these that I was
seeking: with his virtues, with the heroic profile of his life, I and the
world were already sufficiently acquainted.  I was besides a little
suspicious of Catholic testimony; in no ill sense, but merely because
Damien's admirers and disciples were the least likely to be critical.  I
know you will be more suspicious still; and the facts set down above were
one and all collected from the lips of Protestants who had opposed the
father in his life.  Yet I am strangely deceived, or they build up the
image of a man, with all his weakness, essentially heroic, and alive with
rugged honesty, generosity, and mirth.

Take it for what it is, rough private jottings of the worst sides of
Damien's character, collected from the lips of those who had laboured
with and (in your own phrase) "knew the man";--though I question whether
Damien would have said that he knew you.  Take it, and observe with
wonder how well you were served by your gossips, how ill by your
intelligence and sympathy; in how many points of fact we are at one, and
how widely our appreciations vary.  There is something wrong here; either
with you or me.  It is possible, for instance, that you, who seem to have
so many ears in Kalawao, had heard of the affair of Mr. Chapman's money,
and were singly struck by Damien's intended wrong-doing.  I was struck
with that also, and set it fairly down; but I was struck much more by the
fact that he had the honesty of mind to be convinced.  I may here tell
you that it was a long business; that one of his colleagues sat with him
late into the night, multiplying arguments and accusations; that the
father listened as usual with "perfect good-nature and perfect
obstinacy"; but at the last, when he was persuaded--"Yes," said he, "I am
very much obliged to you; you have done me a service; it would have been
a theft."  There are many (not Catholics merely) who require their heroes
and saints to be infallible; to these the story will be painful; not to
the true lovers, patrons, and servants of mankind.

And I take it, this is a type of our division; that you are one of those
who have an eye for faults and failures; that you take a pleasure to find
and publish them; and that, having found them, you make haste to forget
the overvailing virtues and the real success which had alone introduced
them to your knowledge.  It is a dangerous frame of mind.  That you may
understand how dangerous, and into what a situation it has already
brought you, we will (if you please) go hand-in-hand through the
different phrases of your letter, and candidly examine each from the
point of view of its truth, its appositeness, and its charity.

   Damien was _coarse_.

It is very possible.  You make us sorry for the lepers, who had only a
coarse old peasant for their friend and father.  But you, who were so
refined, why were you not there, to cheer them with the lights of
culture?  Or may I remind you that we have some reason to doubt if John
the Baptist were genteel; and in the case of Peter, on whose career your
doubtless dwell approvingly in the pulpit, no doubt at all he was a
"coarse, headstrong" fisherman!  Yet even in our Protestant Bibles Peter
is called Saint.

   Damien was _dirty_.

He was.  Think of the poor lepers annoyed with this dirty comrade!  But
the clean Dr. Hyde was at his food in a fine house.

   Damien was _headstrong_.

I believe you are right again; and I thank God for his strong head and
heart.

   Damien was _bigoted_.

I am not fond of bigots myself, because they are not fond of me.  But
what is meant by bigotry, that we should regard it as a blemish in a
priest?  Damien believed his own religion with the simplicity of a
peasant or a child; as I would I could suppose that you do.  For this, I
wonder at him some way off; and had that been his only character, should
have avoided him in life.  But the point of interest in Damien, which has
caused him to be so much talked about and made him at last the subject of
your pen and mine, was that, in him, his bigotry, his intense and narrow
faith, wrought potently for good, and strengthened him to be one of the
world's heroes and exemplars.

   Damien _was not sent to Molokai_, _but went there without orders_.

Is this a misreading? or do you really mean the words for blame?  I have
heard Christ, in the pulpits of our Church, held up for imitation on the
ground that His sacrifice was voluntary.  Does Dr. Hyde think otherwise?

   Damien _did not stay at the settlement_, _etc._

It is true he was allowed many indulgences.  Am I to understand that you
blame the father for profiting by these, or the officers for granting
them?  In either case, it is a mighty Spartan standard to issue from the
house on Beretania Street; and I am convinced you will find yourself with
few supporters.

   Damien _had no hand in the reforms_, _etc._

I think even you will admit that I have already been frank in my
description of the man I am defending; but before I take you up upon this
head, I will be franker still, and tell you that perhaps nowhere in the
world can a man taste a more pleasurable sense of contrast than when he
passes from Damien's "Chinatown" at Kalawao to the beautiful Bishop-Home
at Kalaupapa.  At this point, in my desire to make all fair for you, I
will break my rule and adduce Catholic testimony.  Here is a passage from
my diary about my visit to the Chinatown, from which you will see how it
is (even now) regarded by its own officials: "We went round all the
dormitories, refectories, etc.--dark and dingy enough, with a superficial
cleanliness, which he" [Mr. Dutton, the lay-brother] "did not seek to
defend.  'It is almost decent,' said he; 'the sisters will make that all
right when we get them here.'"  And yet I gathered it was already better
since Damien was dead, and far better than when he was there alone and
had his own (not always excellent) way.  I have now come far enough to
meet you on a common ground of fact; and I tell you that, to a mind not
prejudiced by jealousy, all the reforms of the lazaretto, and even those
which he most vigorously opposed, are properly the work of Damien.  They
are the evidence of his success; they are what his heroism provoked from
the reluctant and the careless.  Many were before him in the field; Mr.
Meyer, for instance, of whose faithful work we hear too little: there
have been many since; and some had more worldly wisdom, though none had
more devotion, than our saint.  Before his day, even you will confess,
they had effected little.  It was his part, by one striking act of
martyrdom, to direct all men's eyes on that distressful country.  At a
blow, and with the price of his life, he made the place illustrious and
public.  And that, if you will consider largely, was the one reform
needful; pregnant of all that should succeed.  It brought money; it
brought (best individual addition of them all) the sisters; it brought
supervision, for public opinion and public interest landed with the man
at Kalawao.  If ever any man brought reforms, and died to bring them, it
was he.  There is not a clean cup or towel in the Bishop-Home, but dirty
Damien washed it.

   Damien _was not a pure man in his relations with women_, _etc._

How do you know that?  Is this the nature of conversation in that house
on Beretania Street which the cabman envied, driving past?--racy details
of the misconduct of the poor peasant priest, toiling under the cliffs of
Molokai?

Many have visited the station before me; they seem not to have heard the
rumour.  When I was there I heard many shocking tales, for my informants
were men speaking with the plainness of the laity; and I heard plenty of
complaints of Damien.  Why was this never mentioned? and how came it to
you in the retirement of your clerical parlour?

But I must not even seem to deceive you.  This scandal, when I read it in
your letter, was not new to me.  I had heard it once before; and I must
tell you how.  There came to Samoa a man from Honolulu; he, in a public-
house on the beach, volunteered the statement that Damien had "contracted
the disease from having connection with the female lepers"; and I find a
joy in telling you how the report was welcomed in a public-house.  A man
sprang to his feet; I am not at liberty to give his name, but from what I
heard I doubt if you would care to have him to dinner in Beretania
Street.  "You miserable little -------" (here is a word I dare not print,
it would so shock your ears).  "You miserable little ------," he cried,
"if the story were a thousand times true, can't you see you are a million
times a lower ----- for daring to repeat it?"  I wish it could be told of
you that when the report reached you in your house, perhaps after family
worship, you had found in your soul enough holy anger to receive it with
the same expressions; ay, even with that one which I dare not print; it
would not need to have been blotted away, like Uncle Toby's oath, by the
tears of the recording angel; it would have been counted to you for your
brightest righteousness.  But you have deliberately chosen the part of
the man from Honolulu, and you have played it with improvements of your
own.  The man from Honolulu--miserable, leering creature--communicated
the tale to a rude knot of beach-combing drinkers in a public-house,
where (I will so far agree with your temperance opinions) man is not
always at his noblest; and the man from Honolulu had himself been
drinking--drinking, we may charitably fancy, to excess.  It was to your
"Dear Brother, the Reverend H. B. Gage," that you chose to communicate
the sickening story; and the blue ribbon which adorns your portly bosom
forbids me to allow you the extenuating plea that you were drunk when it
was done.  Your "dear brother"--a brother indeed--made haste to deliver
up your letter (as a means of grace, perhaps) to the religious papers;
where, after many months, I found and read and wondered at it; and whence
I have now reproduced it for the wonder of others.  And you and your dear
brother have, by this cycle of operations, built up a contrast very
edifying to examine in detail.  The man whom you would not care to have
to dinner, on the one side; on the other, the Reverend Dr. Hyde and the
Reverend H. B. Gage: the Apia bar-room, the Honolulu manse.

But I fear you scarce appreciate how you appear to your fellow-men; and
to bring it home to you, I will suppose your story to be true.  I will
suppose--and God forgive me for supposing it--that Damien faltered and
stumbled in his narrow path of duty; I will suppose that, in the horror
of his isolation, perhaps in the fever of incipient disease, he, who was
doing so much more than he had sworn, failed in the letter of his
priestly oath--he, who was so much a better man than either you or me,
who did what we have never dreamed of daring--he too tasted of our common
frailty.  "O, Iago, the pity of it!"  The least tender should be moved to
tears; the most incredulous to prayer.  And all that you could do was to
pen your letter to the Reverend H. B. Gage!

Is it growing at all clear to you what a picture you have drawn of your
own heart?  I will try yet once again to make it clearer.  You had a
father: suppose this tale were about him, and some informant brought it
to you, proof in hand: I am not making too high an estimate of your
emotional nature when I suppose you would regret the circumstance? that
you would feel the tale of frailty the more keenly since it shamed the
author of your days? and that the last thing you would do would be to
publish it in the religious press?  Well, the man who tried to do what
Damien did, is my father, and the father of the man in the Apia bar, and
the father of all who love goodness; and he was your father too, if God
had given you grace to see it.



Footnotes


{1}  From the Sydney _Presbyterian_, October 26, 1889.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Father Damien, an Open Letter to the Reverend Dr. Hyde of Honolulu" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home