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43 MALLEUS MALEFICORUM: THE REVEREND W. F. BARRY, D. D., 1849-1930 Bv J R Tve (Victoria University, N. Z.) The winds of change have dealt unkindly with Monslgnor William Barry, D. D. (1849-1930), principal literary critic of the Quarterly Review during the crucial years of the last decade of the nineteenth century, and tireless enemy of the anarchy, decadence and heresy which seemed to be flooding the Europe of his middle years. An Immediate parallel springs to mind In Churton Collins (1848-1908). whose critical activity covered much the same period. Collins, however, sprang to notoriety through his onslaught upon the unhappy Gosse,1 and consistently maintained the Initiative In attacks upon Inaccurate scholarship and low critical standards,2 activities ultimately rewarded by the Chair of English at the University of Birmingham. Barry3 was neither a "Man of Letters" nor a "Bookman." He was far too committed, a direct product of the Catholic emancipation. His parents, both Catholics, had emigrated from Ireland to London In the 1840·s, and were married at St. John·s Church, Paddlngton Green, In 1843, by an Anglican clergyman, In preference to a Catholic priest; their doubts about the legality of a Catholic ceremony make an Interesting comment on the legal disabilities then feared by English Catholics . Barry's early schooling was Inexpensive by modern standards, a penny a week for the seven years up to 1863, when he was sent to Sedgley Park School (1863-65) and thence to Oscott College (1865-68), the alma mater of Alfred Austin, W. S. Blunt and George Moore. Barry was fortunate in his father, with whom he shared a wide reading In history and art, and whose work for the Temperanoe Movement he assisted from an early age. Barry could, In consequence, write with some authority on the conditions of the working classes. At Oscott Barry acquired his deep admiration for Milton, whom he claimed to know almost by heart, and whose style and Imagery so deeply affected his own. Here also he came to his passion for Newman, whose biography he wrote In 1904. From Oscott Barry won a scholarship to the English College In Rome, where he remained for five years, to witness the ultimate loss of temporal power by the Papacy, and to explore the galleries and museums. It was here that he received his dogmatic and philosophical training, a process of which he was not uncritical, and which so Indelibly set the pattern of his thinking. For the next ten years, Barry's energies were devoted to teaching, as Vice-Rector of Olton Seminary (1873-78), and as Professor of Divinity at Oscott (1878-83). While at Olton, he established a firm and Influential friendship with Wilfrid Ward, proprietor of the Catholic Dublin Review, one of the cornerstones In the Catholic revival. In this periodical Barry's first major article appeared, "Modern Society and the Sacred Heart," a refutation of Strauss's Der Alte und der Neue Glaube, followed by "St. Thomas and the Theory of Human Knowledge." From this point onwards, Barry was given access to the Dublin Review for any topic on which he wished to write, access which In fact he used rather sparingly. His most significant contribution to this periodical was a lengthy obituary article on George Eliot, to whom 44 his devotion "was second only, I think, to my admiration for J. H. Newman. Her death affected me like a personal event."4 Coming as it did from a Catholic Professor of Divinity, and in the major Catholic review, his article was a measure of George Eliot's literary stature and of the Church's accommodation to the secular values for which she stood. Characteristically, his attitude was tinged with regret: But suppose this rare woman of genius had been taught how enormous, in proportion to her talents, was her offence against the sanctity of wedlock and the honour of her sex, what would she have done to atone for It? Might not her repentence have equalled and surpassed her transgressions In Its energy?5 Barry now deliberately turned to the study of contemporary literature , particularly French and German, as the embodiment of the rampant unbelief...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 43-56
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Will Be Archived 2021
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