restricted access L’Action Française. To the Editor of The Church Times
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[ 351 L’Action Française To the Editor of The Church Times The Church Times, 99 (24 Feb 1928) 212 Sir, – Being a regular reader of your paper, and being in most matters wholly in sympathy, perhaps I may be permitted once again to protest against your attitude towards L’Action Française, as exhibited in your Summary paragraph of last week. I feel the greater obligation, as I believe that I am one of the few defenders of L’Action Française in this country who cannot be accused of seizing upon this affair for the purpose of “No Popery” or Protestant propaganda. I should much have preferred to believe that the operations against L’Action Française were amply justified. I consider that I am Mode­ rate. I do not choose to question either the motives of the Pope or the motives of his counselors. The matter of influences does not interest me; I am not concerned either with what went before or with what has happened since. I concern myself only with the question, whether the work of Charles Maurras was damnable or praiseworthy. Your paragraph of last week seems to me, on this ground, unfair. As for M. Daudet, I have met him only once, and then under formal conditions; andIdonotdefendhismethodsorwhatarecalledhis“erotic”novels,which I have never read.1 But if you, Sir, or any other journalist, referred to me as “obviously a little mad,” I should certainly consult my legal advisers about the law of libel. I can only say that on the one occasion on which I have met him, M. Daudet seemed to me as sane as anyone whom I have ever met. Next, I protest against your wording, “M. Maurras . . . has contrived to attract,” etc., where you might have said simply “has attracted.” The phrasing suggests an unscrupulous policy. If there is one quality more than another by which M. Maurras is distinguished, it is that of honesty and probity. Naturally,“thewholehierarchy”has“denouncedanddeplored”theviews of the L’Action Française; but the hierarchy is bound to obey the decree of the Holy Father. Were I a member of “the hierarchy,” I should probably be silent and obey. I am not concerned with impugning the Pope’s motives, which are probably of the highest. But it is at present you, Sir, who qualify the doctrine of M. Maurras as “the wildest and most pernicious form of Nationalism.” I am 1928 352 ] prepared to assert at least that this cannot be the “wildest” or the “most pernicious,” because I can mention a wilder and a more perverse, which is that of the late Maurice Barrès, after whom a small square in the centre of Paris has lately been named.2 Will you prove to us that the Nationalism of Marshal von Hindenburg or the Nationalism of Mussolini is less “wild” and “pernicious” than that of Maurras? In so serious a matter as this, words ought to be used with precision. Finally, you say that M. Maurras is preaching the “devil’s doctrine,” that a “good European must necessarily be an enemy of France.” Can you produce any statement of M. Maurras to reinforce this affirmation? I am aware that M. Maurras would assert that a “good European” must be a friend of France; and I should make the same assertion myself. In conclusion, I would mention the fact that the phrase “good European” was given currency by Nietzsche;3 that Maurras is accused by his opponents of being a disciple of Nietzsche: so that in any case, people who talk of “good Europeans” (Mr. Lloyd George, who wanted to hang the Kaiser, is a good European?)4 ought to make acknowledgment of somebody. 24, Russell Square, London, W. C. 1. T. S. Eliot [We are glad to publish Mr. Eliot’s letter, but he does not meet our charge that M. Maurras constantly repudiates the “Locarno spirit,” assails M. Briand for his part in Locarno, and charges the Pope with being pro-German because he supports Locarno. – Ed.]5 Notes 1. TSE met Léon Daudet in June 1926 at a formal dinner party held for him in a Paris restaurant by fifteen members of the Action française: “they did very well by me,” he wrote to his mother on 26 June. “All the leaders of the party were present, including Léon Daudet and his wife” (L3 197). The editor of the Church Times had stated in his “Summary” column...


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