20 FEBRUARY 1875, Page 16



Sut,—It happens so frequently that public discussions in periodi- cals gradually drift away from their first scope, that I hope you will grant me a few lines to explain my purpose in replying to Dr. Lyon Playfair in the Contemporary.

Dr. Playfair says that I should rather have directed my attack against M. Michelet. It was really against M. Michelet's histori- cal misrepresentations that I wrote, but only because there was danger lest Dr. Playfair's adoption of them at Glasgow should, if they passed unchallenged, give them currency in English litera- ture, to the injury of historic truth and Christian good-will. I must, however, apologise to Dr. Playfair for writing as if he had not named M. Michelet as his authority. The report in the Times and some other papers which I consulted made no mention of Michelet, and I wrote my article in October, immediately after the report of the Congress, though from various circumstances it did not appear until February. Dr. Playfair also says that I give no reply to his statements as to the origin of the various plagues in the middle ages, and he promises, if he can find leisure, to prove from history their connection with the dirt which then prevailed. I answer that I have not taken upon myself to prove that the middle ages were in any way immaculate. Dirt may have caused those plagues. If the learned so judge, 1 do not contest their judgment. But I do most earnestly deny that the influence and teaching of the Catholic Church were the cause of the dirt. This is my whole contention throughout my article. As my own work has been for years among the poorest and dirtiest of the dwellers in our large cities, I have long been con- vinced that no small proportion of the drunkenness of the poor is the result of filthy occupations and squalid homes. Knowing, therefore, how gladly the Catholic clergy will welcome every measure of sanitary and moral reform, I was pained to see the Catholic Church treated as a foe, when she has been, and is still, a most cordial ally.—I am, Sir, &c., T. E. BninoErr.