20 DECEMBER 1930, Page 19


[To the Editor of the Spurr:sloth] Sin,--Can you make room for a belated reference to the article on A Scrutiny of Faith," in the Spectator of November 29th ? In his summing up of the Profit and Loss of Unfaith " Mr. Boumphrey quite unnecessarily sets on the debit side that " he " (the main of Unfaith) is left exposed to the full terror of death." The two great Roman poets, the religious Virgil and the atheist Lucretius, were, I think, more nearly right in regarding the removal of the fear of death as an asset of Unfaith.

" Felix qui potuit rerum cognourere saunas Atque metes onuses et inesorabile fatum Subjecit pedibus, atrepitumque Acherontis avari."

No doubt a des-out faith may " act as a drug against Rai (fear) ; it may" cheer the soul in death," or enable the dying to say, as an obituary notice in the Times the other day had it " Je remercie mon Jesus de me faire marcher dans les hine'ths; j'y suia dans one pais profonde."

No one would wish to depreciate the value of this consolation, but the fear which it relieves is a fear implanted by religion itself. For it is on the side of Faith that there is most fear, as, for instance, in the case of Bunyan or of Dr. Johnson, who, eminently fearful himself, could not listen with patience to accounts of the tranquillity with which David Hume awaited the approach of death. It was contrary to his conception of what was just and right.

No. The balance to be struck in this matter is not between Faith and Unfaith, but between the comfort that Faith brings to many, and the distress it inflicts on others, even to the undermining of their reason. Mr. Boumphrey concedes too