Waugh in History

Waugh is cited in the context of two quite different works of history:

In the current issue of the magazine First Things (journal of the nonsectarian Institute on Religion and Public Life), there is a review of a book by Leo Darroch. This is entitled Una Voce and traces the history of the movement to restore the traditional Roman Catholic liturgy following the reforms of Vatican II in the 1960s. Waugh was of course part of that movement in its early days, and Alcuin Reid’s review of the book opens with this quote:

In 1965, Evelyn Waugh wrote to the archbishop of Westminster of the growing tide of liturgical changes: “Every attendance at Mass leaves me without comfort or edification. I shall never, pray God, apostatize but church-going is now a bitter trial.” The prominent Italian Catholic literary figure Tito Casini went further in 1967… He virulently took to task the cardinal charged with implementing the reform…Casini and Waugh had a point. What began to happen to the Sacred Liturgy of the Western Rite of the Catholic Church in the 1960s (or perhaps earlier), and which led to the production of brand-new rituals produced to meet the needs—almost self-consciously—of that ethereal entity “modern man,” was perceived as madness by many, and caused distress to a great number of faithful Catholics.

The review goes on to explain how the reforms had the unintended consequence of discouraging church attendance by the poorer believers, the very group who were supposed to benefit most.

The association started in the UK to preserve the Latin Mass is not specifically mentioned in the review. Waugh was active in the formation and leadership of that group despite his failing health at the time. He would be gratified that the fruits of its labors do get a mention:

The first breakthrough [in the restoration movement] was made by the English. Through the good offices of Evelyn Waugh’s correspondent, Cardinal John Heenan, in 1971, a petition signed by prominent Anglophones, Catholic and non-Catholic alike (including two Anglican bishops) argued that the suppression of the older form of the Mass would be an irreparable cultural loss. Pope Paul VI, said to be particularly moved by the signature, among others, of the novelist Agatha Christie, granted the requested permission for its occasional use—not, however, without provoking the ire of the custodians of “the correct attitude.”

In an Ethiopian weblog Ayyaantuu News which posts articles relating to African history, the second part of an essay discussing the history of the large ethnic group called the Oromo people appears. This is by academic Mekuria Bulcha who cites Evelyn Waugh to explain the conquest and subjugation of the Oromo tribes (living in Southwest Ethiopia) by the Abyssinian nation under its emperor Menelik II:

The Abyssinian onslaught on and treatment of their subjects was worse than that of the European colonialists in other parts of Africa.  The British journalist Evelyn Waugh stated that “The Abyssinians imposed what was, by its nature, a deadly and hopeless system.” Comparing the Abyssinian and European treatment of the peoples they had colonized, he wrote that the non-Christian “peoples of the south and west were treated with wanton brutality unequalled even in the Belgian Congo” in the Abyssinian empire. He noted that the Boers in South Africa and the Abyssinians were “the most notoriously oppressive administrators of subject peoples in Africa.” By Abyssinians, Waugh meant the ruling elite and the naftanya settlers in the south. From Emperor Menelik II to the regime of the late Ethiopian Prime Minister, Melese Zenawi, the historical record confirms Waugh’s assessment. The other difference is that the Europeans left their colonies and went home; the Abyssinians did not after their years of occupation and exploitation. They simply changed their narrative… [Footnote omitted]

A footnote cites the quotations to Waugh’s 1936 book Waugh in Abyssinia (pp. 11, 24, 26).

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